Thursday, June 30, 2005

Random stuff

When you shake your ass,
They notice fast,
Some mistakes were built to last...

Oh, but George, honey, when it's an ass like yours, there's no mistake in pouring it into tight jeans and shaking it for us.

Can you tell that I was listening to George Michael's Freedom on the way home this evening? I do love that iPod.

So, on to other things. Yesterday, I was reading an article in the Times, Conservatives to Seek Voters' Support for Commandments. In it, Charles Colson is quoted as saying that the Supreme Court's decision on separation of church and state--one in which the Court didn't even take the hard line to maintain the separation that it should have (IMHO)--was "so outrageous."

I think it says a lot that a leader in the conservative Christian movement is a convicted felon. He found God? Well, that's nice, but what about the good, honest people who haven't been to prison? I know it may make me sound boring, but I just haven't done time. This is a man who committed crimes that undermined the very integrity of the American political process, and anyone is supposed to care what he thinks is right?

On another subject, I got an e-mail today pointing me to the campaign of Bob Casey. After doing a little research on him, I found that I don't agree with all of his political views. Also, he's not from my state. Even so, I may donate money to his campaign. Why? Because he's running to unseat Senator Rick Santorum. If he were working to have Santorum drawn and quartered, that would work for me, too.

If you want to help, then go here and click on the "Donate" link.

Now, it's time to go do some housework. Yes, I live an exciting life! :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I could have lived without that

Last night...

[Phone rings]

Me: "Hello."

Caller: "Hello, may I speak to Marilyn, please?"

Me: "This is her son, Jess. May I ask who's calling?"

It turned out to be an old high school friend of hers, calling to catch up. So I got to take a trip back to last year, explaining to her how my Mom was gone. Apparently, this friend of hers isn't doing so well, either. When I said, "I'm sorry to have to tell you, but she passed away," her old friend said, "I'm not far behind her."

So sad to tell people that someone has died, especially when it involves briefly revisiting the loss of my Mom. That's the problem with having had the best Mom ever--the loss is that much more acute. So, one more time... and I hope that's the last one. *sigh*

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Are we going to make the same mistake again?

Come on, people. It’s not like the bursting of the stock market’s tech bubble is all that long ago. Are our memories so short?

I was just reading about shares of Google reaching 300. Before jumping to any conclusions about “irrational exuberance” rearing its ugly head yet again, I did a little research. Sure enough, the price/earnings ratio is in triple digits.

Let’s remember, the idea of investing in a business is for that business to generate enough earnings to make your investment worthwhile. A P/E in triple digits means it’s not even earning a penny for every dollar you invested. So how long do you think the stock market will support such a lopsided price? Eventually, someone’s going to stop and ask why anyone would pay so much for a company, no matter how good its future growth prospects are.

It’s frustrating enough to me when people fail to learn from the lessons of history. When those lessons are so fresh that everyone’s retirement accounts are still recovering from them, I have to wonder if people really are, as a group, just a mass of greedy, mindless cattle, happily staying with the herd until it’s too late and they realize they’ve walked right into a slaughterhouse.

If you own shares of Google, don’t be an idiot--sell them! Could they go higher? Sure they could, but you should thank your lucky stars that it’s as high as it is right now and not be a pig about it. If you got burned the first time around, well, so did lots of people. This time, especially with a “dot com” stock, I think you’ve been warned.

Really, people! A P/E in triple digits? Snap out of it!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Moderates/liberals, man your battlestations!

I just got home, so I haven't had time to look around online and see if the right-wing nuts are foaming at their collective mouths yet, but I'd bet they are. Today, the Supreme Court upheld the most basic separation of church and state. They wimped out a little, but at least they said that blatant attempts to inject Christianity into the courts were improper.

With that, I can guarantee outrage from the nitwits who think this is a "Christian country" and have no respect for the most basic protections in our Constitution.

Writing for the majority, Justice Souter cited precedent after precedent, explaining that the clear efforts of two Kentucky counties to endorse the King James version of the Ten Commandments (by posting them in courthouses!) was an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Well, I should think so.

Sadly, this was a 5-4 decision. Even sadder than the split was the unprofessional, disrespectful tone of the dissent written by "Justice" Scalia. He was personal and sarcastic.

He even had the nerve to invoke the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the outset of the dissenting opinion. "On September 11, 2001, I was attending in Rome, Italy[,] an international conference of judges and lawyers..."

He then goes on to say how a foreign colleague thought it was great that our President could invoke God in what he said. Yes, that's a good basis for a Supreme Court opinion. Pinhead.

And his tone? Thoroughly disrespectful of the Justices voting in the majority. "[T]he Court acknowledges that the 'Establishment Clause Doctrine' . . . 'lacks the comfort of categorical absolutes. What the Court means by this lovely euphemism . . ."

This lovely euphemism? This and other phrases drip sarcasm from this opinion. If this is the behavior of a right-wing Supreme Court Justice, what can we expect from right-wing individuals in less lofty positions?

Oh, and if you happen to be a member of a non-monotheistic religion (or, if you'll pardon the phrase, God forbid, an atheist), don't bother looking to this Court for respect. Responding to Justice Souter's reference to the "more than 7 million Americans who adhere to religions that are not monotheistic," and the conflict created by favoring the religion of the majority over these other minority religions, Scalia writes, "Our national tradition has resolved that conflict in favor of the majority."

Could he be any more oblivious to the history of our country and the need to protect against religious intolerance? How about tyranny of the majority?

Okay, so sanity more-or-less prevailed today, but just barely. Worse, we may be one new Justice away from things turning completely around. With his first appointment, President Bush may be able to turn this Supreme Court completely around. Things are that close.

In today's New York Times, there's a lengthy article on how conservatives want to be sure that this President doesn't nominate the kind of not-conservative-enough conservatives that Ronald Reagan did, like Justice Kennedy (who, by the way, voted with the dissent today). No, they want real hard-core conservatives only.

So brace yourselves, people, and be ready for a fight. Not even e-mails and online petitions will do. We need to be ready to write real letters to Senators and Congressmen/women (you know, on paper!), make phone calls, protest and give large sums of money to organizations that will help fight right-wing nominees getting on the Court.

The battle is coming, and our most fundamental rights are on the line.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Did I do the right thing?

I was going to post something about my Apple Store-related frustrations (mostly fueled by this one girl working there who didn't know what she was talking about--but that didn't stop her from giving me answers that eventually forced me to come back to the store to return what turned out to be the wrong item). However, on the way home from the mall, I saw something far more profound.

After a stop at Radio Shack (related to the Apple issue, but that's a long story), I was driving around the back of some stores when I saw that a clothes donation bin had been broken into. In fact, the perpetrator was sitting right there.

Normally, I don't hesitate to report a crime when I see it, but I had to hesitate this time. The "perpetrator" was a woman who was homeless--it was obvious. You can't fake looking that pitiful. She was trying on things she had found in the bin, and the scene was downright sad.

Part of me still wanted to call the police. After all, it's still theft. More importantly, there are a lot of people who could be helped by those clothes. Also, she may not put the rejects neatly back in the bin, and that would be a waste of those charitable donations.

Still, I couldn't help but think, "there but for the Grace of God go I." Maybe I should have called. I don't know. There probably isn't a "right" answer. I don't give beggars money on the subway, because I suspect they'll use that money to buy drugs--but I always say I'll be glad to actually buy food for someone who is hungry. I even give to charities that do things like that. So how could I send someone to jail for trying to clothe herself? That just felt wrong.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Worth doing

At least I think it's worth doing.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

This is a survey of bloggers being conducted by MIT. It'll be interesting to see what they find. So click the link and join in!

Thanks to David for pointing it out.

A modest proposal for Tom Cruise & Matt Lauer

I'm sure most of us heard about the unpleasant little exchange between mental midgets Tom Cruise and Matt Lauer. Obviously, there was a lack of respect shown in that meeting. So I would like to suggest a traditional solution.

They should have a duel. Each gets a pistol, stands back to back, walks one pace (I'd say "20 paces", but I'm afraid they'd both miss), turns and fires. If we're lucky, neither of them will miss.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The newspaper of record

I grew up reading The New York Times. It's not perfect. They make mistakes, but who doesn't? Even so, no one can dissuade me from my feeling that they are the best newspaper one can read.

Time and again, I have read something in the morning in the Times, only to hear it as a story later in the day on the radio or see that a TV show has picked it up. By the time I get it from them, it's old news, because I read it hours or even days before.

I subscribe to the Times and carry it to work with me on the train, so I can read it as I eat my breakfast in my office. Sometimes, I'll take an AM New York from the guy at the train station. AM New York is a free paper, but it's better than those disgusting tabloid rags, The New York Post and The New York Daily News. Often enough, I'll read an article in AM New York about a story the Times had the day before.

There's no punchline to this post. No special point to make, beyond what I said in the first paragraph. If you don't read the Times, you should. It makes you feel smarter and more in touch with what's going on in the world.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A good kid

There's a young man who gives me hope for humanity. At the age of 15 (or was he 14 at the time?), he had the courage to tell his family that he's gay. He's smart, funny and polite.

His parents love him, so they worry and they nag him about things. Does he rebel? Well, sometimes he says things he later regrets, but he's more mature at 15 than many 50-year-olds I know, so he apologizes if he was out of line. He also recognizes that they care about him and realizes that he needs to measure their actions in that light.

I'm old enough to be his father--and that's damn depressing! (although I feel compelled to note that I would have been a young father)--but I'm proud to call him my friend. If Marc and I ever had kids, I could only hope they'd be as good as this young man. Okay, he needs to study harder, and I told him that, but nobody's perfect. :)

The icing on the proverbial cake? He's unwilling to get involved in cheap, meaningless sex. He has a boyfriend--and probably could have his way with any number of people, given his very good looks (if he keeps up like this, he's going to be a stunning adult)--but he wants his first time to be with someone special.

Obviously, his parents are good parents, but there's more to it than that. He's just a good kid. Good, smart, mature--it really makes me feel good to hear from him, because he always reflects these good qualities in what he says. The only thing we can't talk about, of course, is sex. Yes, we discuss it in general terms--things like waiting for someone special, etc.--but nothing graphic. (With that, several of my adult friends just keeled over. Yes, boys, I can keep from talking about sex!) :)

He knows I'm here for him, as is Marc, and that makes me feel good, too. I just hope there are lots more young men like him out there. I tend to think he's an exception, but maybe there are at least a few!

Monday, June 20, 2005

It looks like a small dog exploded

Ah, yes, summer is upon us. As I gaze at the carpet in front of me, I see piles of fur. Mandy is doing the most shedding at the moment, but they all drop fur as the temperatures rise.

As hard as it is to vacuum enough to keep ahead of them, at times like this it's impossible. Mandy was just scratching herself, and I could see the fur coming off her as she did. *sigh*

Imagine if we didn't have air conditioning! They'd scratch and shed themselves bald!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

So much going on

I'll spare you the more boring parts of the weekend--things like the ongoing effort to clean out the old house. Suffice it to say, we're getting there.

So what's only semi-boring? Well, last night the rocks finished the "fine grit" stage and went into "pre-polish" (yeah, I live a wild life)...

As I laid them out on for the above photo, all of my assistants arrived. They hate to miss anything (mostly because there might be a treat involved, and they'd hate to miss that!)...

This morning, I drove into Manhattan with a bunch of stuff that I needed to drop at my office. Since parking there is a tough thing, I enlisted help. I picked up Byrne, and he stayed with the truck as I took things up to the office.

Later, we moved some things from his old apartment in Manhattan to his new one in Astoria. Then we went shopping, and he bought an air conditioner for the new place. I offered to help him carry it upstairs, as I had with some smaller items earlier in the day, but he hefted this thing onto his back and carried it up to his fourth floor apartment by himself. Very butch! :)

After that, he treated me to lunch at a local place. It was one of those Brazilian places where they bring all different meats around for you to eat. This type of restaurant is called a "cheery squirrel" or something like that. Okay, so I may be a little off with what it's called. ;)

On the way home, I saw a bumper sticker that summarizes the feelings of many New Yorkers--"If it's called Tourist Season, why isn't it okay to shoot them?" *snicker*

This afternoon, Marc and I did more at the old house, and now the weekend is coming to a close. All in all, not a bad one. Rather productive, and that has a nice feeling to it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

More on the bus people

There's no fabulous story to go with the last post. Really, I was just making an observation. I rode on city buses a couple of times this week, and you can't help but see some interesting examples of humanity when you do that. For some reason, the variety seemed different than the usual assortment of folks I see on my daily subway rides.

There was the nun in a billowing all-black head-to-toe habit, with all kinds of chains and a HUGE gold cross hanging from her waist.

There was the middle-aged woman who was dressed like a little schoolgirl of old, with her hair in pigtails.

Then there is the usual cross-section of humanity that you find in New York City. Just hop on a bus, and you see it all. Well, except for the Arab terrorists, because they're driving the cabs. ;)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bus people

You encounter the most interesting people on a city bus.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Now that's entertainment!

Look what some thoughtful driver did just to entertain me on my way home this evening...

I Photoshopped the file as much as I could, but it still leaves something to be desired. That's what happens with a camera phone in a moving vehicle.

Anyhow, isn't that neat? Not just a crash. Not a roll onto the roof. Any fool can do that. Nope, this was on the side. At a distance, I thought it was a regular passenger car on its side. Now that would be impressive--like flipping a coin and having it land on edge.

I suppose a minivan can do this easily enough, given that huge side it has. Still, I and my fellow drivers enjoyed the spectacle. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Kyle's mom has nothing on these women

Warning: Potentially sexist post ahead.

Those of you who have watched South Park likely will be familiar with the touching melody, "Kyle's mom's a bitch," sung so beautifully by Eric Cartman. Well, there are women around who give new meaning to the word "bitch". In fact, ascribing it to them is an insult to female dogs everywhere (even rabid ones)!

I don't know if it's mostly a New York phenomenon, but there is a very small percentage of working women (I'd say "professional women", but I don't think they deserve such a title just because of their jobs) who feel like they have a right to be nasty, pushy, selfish and self-righteous, and the rest of us should just put up with it and get out of their way.

I had encountered such women before I began working in the city. They seem to be found primarily in Manhattan, although not exclusively. Today, there was one on the train. While the other passengers watched it move through the car with disgust, insisting upon getting through a standing-room-only car while the rest of us just stood there and dealt with the situation, this rude, twisted, evil thing worried about nothing but what it wanted. Some of the passengers even made comments to it as it went through.

I moved out of its way, but at some level I wish I hadn't. Setting emotions aside, I know that making a stand would have been silly and petty. I do believe life gets even with such people--either through a crappy personal life, victims seeking revenge or through some other karmic payback--but part of me really wanted to stand in its way and refuse to move.

To be clear, such people are a tiny fraction of one percent of the population--even of the population of professional Manhattan women--but I can't help but wish that people who act that way would burst into flames.

Do you have people like this where you live, or is it just here?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Pretty city

Today, a week after starting my new job, I finally went to hospital orientation. It was an almost-all-day affair. As such things go, this one was pretty good.

One nice thing about where I'm working is the neighborhood. Orientation was held in a first-floor conference room. I used my camera phone to shoot a picture out one of the windows...

Despite being one of the large hospitals in Manhattan, the front of which faces a major avenue, all you have to do is walk around the side to be in tree-lined streets of lovely brownstones. It's really a great neighborhood.

Then, on the way home, I rode up to Grand Central Station, so I could buy some olive oil and other yummy products at Oliviers & Co.

In addition to some of this year's oils (yes, they have a vintage--in the case of olive oil, the fresher it is, the better) from a few different regions, I brought home an apricot/almond spread that's wonderful, and I bought some balsamic vinegar for Marc. I don't usually like balsamic vinegar (or any vinegar), but this stuff is good. Leave it to Oliviers to get me to like the stuff (at least their version of it). Lastly, I got a jar of their pesto. Yum.

An extra treat was the visit to Grand Central Station itself. Walking through the station is like walking through a work of art. It was impressive before its renaissance several years ago. Now, it's simply gorgeous. Anyone visiting New York would do well to allot some time for a visit to this wonderful monument.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Remembering Mom and tumbling rocks

Today, Marc and I, my brothers, their wives and kids, some of our other relatives, friends of hers from work, friends of hers from the League of Women Voters, our County Legislator and various other members of the community joined together at a local park for the dedication of a tree in her memory. It was planted right next to a ball field, so kids will be able to relax in its shade as it grows bigger over the years. I think Mom would have liked that.

Later, we had our relatives over to the house. A number of them hadn't seen it since we renovated it and moved in, so it was fun to see their reactions. They seemed quite impressed, and that made us feel good. I also showed off the Bose system. Knowing my sister-in-law, Caryn, liked Star Trek, I loaded in Star Trek II and cued it up to the first battle scene. My 14-year-old nephew, Ronnie, immediately seemed like this was way too geeky for him. Well, as the music grew, the phasers fired and things blew up, all of which you could hear with amazing clarity and feel in the floor, thanks to the Bose sub-woofer, he was quite impressed. As I shut it off, he said it was very cool. Everyone else was impressed, too, but it's not easy to get a teenager to admit it. :)

On the subject of rocks, today, after they had tumbled for a bit over a week with "coarse grit", I took them out, rinsed them and prepared them for the next step (a week of "fine grit"). So here's what they look like now...

If you want to see what they looked like when they were rinsed off but not yet tumbled, you can check out the prior post on this subject where I showed the group of stones from which we selected the ones currently being tumbled. They're not shiny yet--that's still a couple of steps away--but the details are coming out, as their outer layers are stripped away.

Friday, June 10, 2005

One week down

It was a good week. It was very busy and hectic, but I loved it.

My new boss said, "you've really had a trial by fire this week." It was only Wednesday when he said that. It was just that kind of week. He also said things like, "Your experience really shows."

There was a big multi-hospital, multi-network meeting this morning. He couldn't make it, so he sent me on behalf of our network.

The new schedule has taken some adjustment. I get up at 5:30am now. If I don't start so early, parking at the train station is impossible. The good part of it is that I get into the office nice and early, and my boss likes that. It also helps me keep tabs on things as the morning begins, since I'm there before anyone else.

Another nice thing is that I'm not in one of those situations where I'm regularly expected to stay late. I will stay a little late, often enough, but that's up to me.

Working in Greenwich Village, I've had access to great services, businesses, etc., including a virtually limitless supply of great places to eat. It's nice not to eat crap for lunch, as I've had to do at other places I've worked.

The first week of my new job is done, and I hope there are many more great weeks, months and years ahead.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

I'm so easily entertained

At my new place of work, the elevators (well, the ones I've been in--the place is huge, so I haven't seen most of it yet) have light strips embedded in the leading edges of the doors. When they're open and it's safe to enter/exit, they show green. When the doors are getting ready to close, the strips begin blinking red. Then they turn solid red when it's "you shouldn't be standing there now" time.

I know, I know. Big deal. Well, I think it's a nice touch, and it's something I haven't seen before. :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A really nice benefit of my line of work

I've always felt that attorneys and human resources people--at least the good, resourceful ones--can make a real difference. Working in healthcare, I've felt that improving organizations like these can lead to better care, greater comfort for the sick and their loved ones and, overall, a better world. I know that sounds sappy, but I do believe in doing what I can to make the world a better place.

An added benefit--one which occasionally comes along--is that I can help friends and loved ones. Today, as I was sitting at a meeting in midtown Manhattan, I got a text message from a dear friend (I won't tell you who, in order to protect his privacy). The message said, "I'm heading for your ER" or words to that effect.

As it happens, I was sitting next to the Director of Emergency Services. I showed her the message, as well as the one that came in right after it explaining why he was headed there, and she was on the phone immediately. There was an initial snag, but she was able to tell her staff to make sure that prompt attention was given.

It doesn't make the medical issue go away--although I'm sure they'll take care of whatever it is--but if I can make things go a little easier in a time of need, I feel good!


Researchers: Dolphins use sponges as tools

The photos of the dolphin using a circular saw are amazing! ;)

Yeah, that's all I have time for. Gotta get ready for work! Have a good day, everyone!

Monday, June 06, 2005

First day at the new job!

I'm exhausted, but it's good. I had to go in early, due to an important meeting.

The meeting was a rough one, but nothing I haven't seen before. The union was upset, due to some upcoming cuts.

The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. Things seem pretty good.

I'd write more, but I was up at 5:30am, and I'm ready to go have a nice soak in the tub (maybe Marc will join me!) and then get ready for bed. *yawn*

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Even the Swiss?

Switzerland. Not my favorite country.

I suppose I have to live less in the past. The problem is that I firmly believe that one must know history if one is to be on guard against repetition of the wrongs of the past. Sadly, much of the errors of recent years in this country are quite recognizable from our own past. Still, there's a difference between remembering history's lessons and being bitter about them.

This brings me to an article I just read about voting in Switzerland. Aside from their well-known involvement with the Nazis in World War II, helping the Germans hide vast fortunes they stole from people they had murdered, the Swiss did quite well manufacturing weapons for Germany.

So Switzerland hasn't been my favorite country, but perhaps I should set a lot of that aside. It has been a long time since all of that, and I suppose they have made efforts at being good citizens of the world. I've read that, in many ways, their recent human rights record has been better than that of my own country.

Considering that, maybe I shouldn't be surprised at these results. Put to a national vote, about 58% of the Swiss voters "were in favor of increased rights for same-sex couples, namely that registered same-sex couples are treated the same as married couples for tax and pension purposes."

I love my country, but we've really gone astray. Bigots are getting their way today. Eventually, better people will change this. Many of the people supporting the current Administration and its allies are doing so because they've believed lies that were fed to them. Eventually, the better natures of the average people will fix this. I just hope too much damage isn't done to good people before that day comes.

Politicians at work, screwing their constituents

An article in The New York Times details how the super-rich are reaping the rewards of the latest tax changes put into place by the President and his allies.

Yes, getting rich is part of the American dream, but the idea is to do it through hard work and innovation. They include quotes from the conservative "think tank" (i.e., lap dog) the Heritage Foundation, such as, "In this income data I see a snapshot of a very innovative society," but then The Times gives us feedback from truly respected, accomplished people.

"[S]ome of the wealthiest Americans, including Warren E. Buffett, George Soros and Ted Turner, have warned that such a concentration of wealth can turn a meritocracy into an aristocracy and ultimately stifle economic growth by putting too much of the nation's capital in the hands of inheritors rather than strivers and innovators. Speaking of the increasing concentration of incomes, Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, warned in Congressional testimony a year ago: 'For the democratic society, that is not a very desirable thing to allow it to happen.'"

For democratic society, that is not a very desirable thing to allow to happen. Yes, indeed, but doesn't this President claim to be all about democracy? Well, I guess that's in the eye of the beholder.

Speaking of people gaining through inheritance, did you know that many of the examples the politicians used of small farmers supposedly losing the family farm through the disingenuously nicknamed "death tax" weren't true? A recent examination of that whole campaign showed that some families mentioned in it as losing property weren't impacted by the tax at all. These were simply lies to stir people into a frenzy, pushing for repeal of a tax that impacted only the wealthy.

The harm is that any tax cut for the wealthy has to be made up by regular working folks' taxes. It's not like the modern GOP knows how to hold down government spending. All they know how to do is steer it toward faith-based programs, but the level of spending (particularly on pork barrel projects) is out of control.

Where are the Democrats' PR people? And "think tanks" to get a sensible message out there? I'm not in love with the Democrats, either, but someone needs to counter the lies being spread and the damage being done. So wake up!

Give me a break

Her daughter was a temporary lesbian, seen by many at the time as a phony who was just a social climber. Her late husband was a Baptist minister who died of AIDS early in the epidemic, apparently contracted as a result of his closeted gay activities.

So she knows the way to salvation? Give me a break.

Try this one on for size, Ms. Heche: God made us this way. So stop being so self-righteous and judgmental, and see if you can tend to making your own life better. Our lives are just fine. If God didn't want gays around, he'd stop making gay people!


Update: This may be nothing new, but I just found it. Plus, it's funny and on point. Check this out: Parents & Friends of Ex-Straights: Help for the Hopeless Hetero! Perfect. :)

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Out of control

Yet another example of the right-wing religious wingnuts in this country bringing out the worst behavior: Air Force Academy Chief Admits School Bias

The Lieutenant General in command said, "I have issues in my staff, and I have issues in my faculty — and that's my whole organization."

The article added, "He said he admonished the academy's No. 2 commander, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, for sending an e-mail promoting National Prayer Day."

A Brigadier General has to be told this? It said the Brigadier General agreed it was incorrect to do this once he was confronted, but the message (in essence, the establishment of religion in a government institution) was already out there.

More from the article: "The academy has been under investigation because of complaints that evangelical Christians have harassed cadets who do not share their faith. Some cadets have complained of anti-Semitic slurs."

The tone in any organization either comes from the top or is very strongly impacted by the signals received from leadership. However we look at this, the President (who, of course, is the military's Commander-in-Chief) and his cadre are responsible for yet another example of intolerance. We're going in reverse as a nation, and I hope the day comes when the people responsible for today's right-wing politics feel the shame they so richly deserve. The Founding Fathers would be appalled.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Adding injury to injury

According to a recent article, some of the military bases that may be closed if the latest round of proposals goes through could then become facilities for the handling and storage of nuclear waste. Wow. As if it isn't bad enough to suffer the economic loss of a base closing, now you can host some nuclear waste. Lovely.

If you have a base in your area, you may want to keep close tabs on this debacle-in-the-making.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Getting my rocks...

...into the rock tumbler. What did you think I was going to say? ;)

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Marc and I collected beach rocks to put in the rock tumbler.

Yesterday, Marc dumped them into the laundry room utility sink and rinsed them.

Tonight, I loaded them into the drum of the tumbler, along with the "coarse" grit and water. They'll tumble 24 hours a day for a week before I dump them out, rinse them and put them back in for another week with water and fine grit. After that, it's "pre-polish" for a few days and finally polish.

The whole process takes a few weeks. So, as I type this, a little machine is tumbling beach rocks in a corner of our basement office.

It takes patience to see what kind of results we'll get. I never was a very patient person, but I have to be for this. Actually, patience is one thing this process taught me as a kid. Some things just can't be rushed.

Traditional conservatives

"Conservative" has become a bad word these days, at least around this house. In fact, for years, we've seen people with bad motives fall under this label (either this or "neo-conservative").

Today, I was happy to read an article that showed some of the old kind of conservatives at work. I'm more of a moderate than anything, but this gives me comfort because the old-line true conservatives weren't a threat to my freedoms. In fact, they were very concerned about individual liberties.

Today, with this article, I got to see a brief glimpse of such people for the first time in a long time, and it's refreshing. They're politically conservative (yes, it's, but I think they're quite likely correct in this--New Hampshire is a pretty conservative state), but they're from the old school.

The article said, "The overwhelming majority of those who spoke were in favor of granting either civil unions or marriage to gay couples."

It quoted one resident as saying, "It seems to me if some people don't have the rights that I have in this country, then something is really wrong."

It continued, "[a]nother resident, Craig Evans, told the commissioners that in his estimation marriage was first and foremost a civil action.

"'There is a distinct difference between civil and religious marriage,' Evans said. 'In New Hampshire a marriage license is issued by a civil authority.'"

"A number of local pastors stood up and said they too supported legal recognition of gay and lesbian families.

"The only voice of dissent came from a priest, Father Curt Hanners. He called homosexuality a threat to the community."

The article was refreshing. If only more people could have such respect for their fellow citizens.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Vaccinations, pommes frites and puppet sex

Another fun day! We headed into Manhattan. Our first stop was at my new workplace, so I could get some shots.

It's comforting for me, actually, that I had to go for these. When I went for my pre-employment physical, we discussed various vaccinations, including Hepatitis-B. I told them that I'd had that series, but the last time I had it checked, I hadn't developed sufficient immunity levels for it (that happens sometimes). So they drew blood to check my titer levels. They found that I did, indeed, need another round of that vaccine, as well as needing a new Rubella shot and another Varicella (that's chickenpox) shot. I'd never had these diseases (thankfully!), but I'd had the vaccines before.

So I went in yesterday, and they gave me the rubella and varicella. Hepatitis-B we'll start again next week. That one is a series of shots, but it's important to do. Large numbers of healthcare workers contract Hepatitis-B every year. While I have limited patient contact, why take a risk?

Anyhow, after that stop, we went to a favorite snack place, Pommes Frites. They do fried potatoes in a way that's hard to do justice to in words (but I'll try). :) They fry them twice, with the second step being a high-temperature flash-fry that makes them nice and crispy on the outside.

With the fries, you have a choice of many different sauces. I never counted, but there must be about three dozen varieties, including the basic "frites sauce" which is part of this Belgian approach to fries. Actually, I believe the whole "French" fries thing is really Belgian. They're irresistibly delicious!

So we had a nice, unhealthy snack at Pommes Frites and then walked back to the subway to head back to the West Village. Once there, we went for a nice walk and checked out a few of the unusual shops you can't find in most neighborhoods. ;)

Having seen enough sex toys and dirty greeting cards to last quite a while, we then decided that we'd better get something more substantial to supplement our fries before heading to the Broadway show we were seeing. So we headed to Lemongrass Grill for Thai food.

After that, we made a stop at Macy's Herald Square and bought some ties (they have a great selection) before heading to the show.

The show we saw was Avenue Q. Brad and Bob bought tickets to the show for all four of us. I won't go into the whole plot of the thing. I'll just say it was silly fun. One thing to its credit is that it managed to have some catchy tunes that weren't ripped off from some old show. There's so little good, original work on Broadway these days. Can you tell that I'm pretty well burned out on musicals?

Oh, and this was my second exposure to puppet sex in two days. That's more than enough! Sunday night, we watched Team America: World Police, a truly twisted film. That and this show contained puppets having sex. It really was more than I needed to see! :)

But as long as we're on this subject, I want to say something. If anyone can get a message to one of the stars of Avenue Q, Barrett Foa, please give him the following message: Barrett, honey, as long as I have a face, you have a place to sit.

What? Too forward? ;)

And don't worry. I'll share him with Marc! :)