Monthly Archives: December 2006

Cats in Sinks

This is my first try.  I’m still learning about the limitations of my camera. 

Cisco in a sink — blend the two together and imagine a perfect pic. :)

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A Few Points

These are not in any particular order of importance — just things I’ve read and heard the past few days . . .

1. John Edwards is running.  I donated this evening and signed up on the email list.  I will, more likely than not, be writing quite a bit about this as his campaign gets underway.

2. a.  Bill Bennett and his side-kick Seth are back and pathetic, per usual.  Yesterday it was Bennett scolding a dead man:

You’re a former President Mr. Ford, show a little more decency to the incumbent who is in a very, very tough place and trying to do the right thing….you may recall those days and positions yourself.

Say what?

2. b. Bennett yesterday said Jimmy Carter had plagiarized in his book after a caller had challenged Bennett to argue Carter’s points.  Bennett said he was an expert on education and drugs, but not the Middle East.  I called and talked with Seth.  I reminded him that Bennett, as an educator, must know that allegations of plagiarism are very serious.  Seth fessed up that Bennett is making the allegations over maps, of all things, and that he and I simply disagree as to whether the allegations have merit.

2. c. In looking for links for this point, I’ve decided that it needs to have its own post — but it was an Ethiopiapolooza this morning with Bennett and Seth speculating about whether the Ethiopians should be a part of the coming Bush *surge* in Iraq, playing the Ethiopian national anthem, and typical ill-informed banter (where’s Ethiopia?  is it a Christian nation?  where’d they get that military? ) ad nauseum.

3. The blood thirsty right wingers– on blogs and the radio — are all excited about the possibility that Saddam Hussien’s hanging could be shown on teevee.  It doesn’t matter how many people tell them that it is not a good idea to celebrate, much less hope to watch, they continue to drool at the possibility.  A *moderate* called it creepy, but I see it as typical.  The same people who were chastising Jeb Bush for halting executions (this is what it took?) are the ones who want to watch a man hang.  Mostly the advocates justified their desire by pointing to history.   Since irony is dead, I guess it is useless to point out that public executions are routine in Saudi Arabia and were in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

4. Polar bears and ice shelves are just the latest indicators that we have screwed this planet up.  This topic also demands more research and a post of its own.  It’s something that I care deeply about and having attended Al Gore’s presentation earlier this year, it is not surprising, but very troubling.  Connect it with the news from Maija that Riga is green in December and a report I watched tonight that the French Riviera is too warm for skiing but warm enough for playing on the beach, all those pundits who point to the mild hurricane season this year are simpletons.

Hoping for Rain

Over at the Chronicle, reader blogger Ruth Nasrullah has a post up about the Barker, Texas land owner who has been threatening to stage pig races on his property to protest his neighbors’ plans to build a community center and eventually a mosque.  She points to the man’s web site, which announces that the first race will take place today at 4:00 p.m. 

As Ruth points out, the land owner seems to have dug himself a hole, and it looks like he can’t find an honorable way to pull himself out of it.  There are legitimate concerns about traffic and access which could be addressed in a rational manner.  However, the land owner’s insistence on following through on his threat — a very insulting threat — definitely hinders negotiations.

According to Weather Underground, it looks like rain today for Barker, Texas.  I can only hope that the races get washed out, so it will save us the disgrace of having yet another Texan being petty and childish spotlighted on the news.

Update:  I’ve not been able to find out if the silly stunt took place or not, but the area has been under tornado and flood watches since late this afternoon.  Anyone with a lick of sense wouldn’t have ventured out to participate in a spiteful event — or at least that is my hope.  As far as news coverage goes, the land owner was on the radio and in the Chronicle, as well as in an AP report, so it looks like the damage has been done whether the races happened or not.

Also, there are some interesting comments over on Ruth’s blog — worth reading IMHO.

To Be Looked at While Listening to . . .

Gabriela Montero  — Thank you Roberto :)  and  Perfect Circle.

 Dora

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Tam looks so evil in every pic.

Farmers Branch Citizens’ Petition Certified

Good news for democracy — the petition submitted either to repeal or take the new city ordinanaces to a vote in May has been certified.  There were at least 908 valid signatures.

Math: Mike Gallagher raise $7K in t-shirt “sells” at $20 each at the least.  That’s from people in Farmers Branch and on the internets.  That equals 300 people.

The petition had 908 certified signatures.

 I love democracy.

President Ford

I don’t remember very much about President Ford’s time in office.  I was in junior high school at the time.  One thing I do remember from that time was how students couldn’t wear any representation of the American flag on their clothing.   A fad at the time was wearing embroidered shirts over a white t-shirt.  My mom made one for me and on it she had embroidered an American flag.  The assistant principle at my school made me take the shirt off.   At that time it was considered disrepectful to wear the flag as a part of your clothing.  My mom didn’t think the flag on my shirt fit under that equation, but she agreed that I shouldn’t wear the shirt.

 The News Hour ran the kind remarks Jimmy Carter made about President Ford before he died.  They also ran a report Jim Lehrer had made about presidential debates from 2004, I think.  Ford and Carter were honest about what happened in their debates.  They are both exampes of how civil politicians used to be . . . before the Fairness Doctrine was abolished by Reagan, the poison of DeLay and Gingrich set in, and George W. Bush drove the last nail in the coffin of civility or sanity for that matter.  Reagan gave birth to people like Limbaugh.  Gingrich and DeLay introduced manipulated politics.  George W. Bush brought in the thugs.

Today those who substitute for the Limbaugh types, as well as most of the media, paid tribute to President Ford to some extent.   Even though Tom DeLay has a blog, it took “him” (if you read the post you know Tom didn’t write it) until this afternoon to scrape something together.  In all it was pretty lame compared to what they came out with when Reagan died.  That’s to be expected, I guess. 

Lawsuits Against Farmers Branch Now Up to Three

First, real estate broker Guillermo Ramos filed suit alleging that the city violated the Texas Open Meetings Act.  Last Friday, some apartment complex owners filed suit, too.  That one asks a federal court to declare the ordinances unconstitutional.  Today, the ACLU and the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund weighed in.  Additionally, a petition to put the ordinances up for a vote (in May) has been submitted to the city.

Now it’s just a matter of following the suits.  I would think that any one of the plaintiffs could successfully ask for and receive a TRO to block the implementation of the ordinances in January.  If the petition effort is sucessful and there is a vote for the ordinances, the three lawsuits still stand.

Meanwhile, yesterday while I was having Christmas with my family, I thought about the families in Farmers Branch who perhaps weren’t having a very good holiday.  I wonder how many of the Latinos — of any immigration/citizenship status — of Farmers Branch have felt pressured to move; how many now feel unwelcome in that city.  I also wonder how many citizens of Farmers Branch are happy about the price they will have to pay simply to feed Tim O’Hare’s ego.

Christmas — The Morning After

But for the crappy way it ended, Christmas was pretty cool.  Which to write about first — the bad or the good?  Ok, the bad first.  My brother bought The Amazing Race DVD game thing for my sister-in-law and we played it.  My oldest niece got to pick the teams and she put me and my bro together.  Perhaps that was the rub.  Accusations of cheating were lodged by both teams — some with merit — pleas for granny to help one side — some without — the DVD gave us the same questions that it had before, so we knew the answers.   We stopped the second game rematch (even though our side had lost the first round and was winning the second).

We (without me) switched to the Sports Trivia game that I had BOUGHT and given to my bro and his wife, knowing they like sports . . . and even though team play wasn’t required, we teamed up again.  The accusations of cheating continued from the other side, despite the fact that the cards got spilled on the floor and neither my teammate nor I could control what came up on the DVD.

The thing that took me over the edge — drove me away, yet again, was being put in the middle, AGAIN.  A question came up for the other side.  I knew the answer, not because I had seen it on teevee, not because it was remarkable, but because I had lived it.  I had played at the man’s game in band.  I said it out loud.   My brother got mad at me because I had given a family known clue to the answer.  My sister got mad at me because I apologized to my brother needlessly.  She got the answer (with a few clues from my brother) and then when she had finally gotten it correct, claimed that she had done so with no help.  From there on out my sister acted like my worst students.   Why yes, she knew the answer and the why for every answer, immediately after being told the answer. *sigh*

The Best of Christmas:  I got what I wanted!  Even thought I didn’t get a stocking for the first time in 40 years — that I can remember — traditions die, I guess — I got the best presents ever!  I have to set up the best one.  My little nieces always have to make pretty faces for pictures.  Last Thanksgiving, my sweetie — the youngest — made a silly face in a pic of her eating an apple for the first time.  Her mom scolded her and said she would delete them, but I made a big deal about loving that silly face.  I got a BEAUTIFUL shadowbox with three completely adorable silly-face pics of my niece.  BEST PRESENT EVER.

I also got a pecan sheller — I’ll use it to save everyone I know a lot of money.  No more slow cracking with pliers — my tree gives sweet pecans and usually gives more than I could ever eat.  Pecans for all!

Lastly, Dora the Explorer’s family now, finally has a bathroom — two years after R & I were the heroes for finding the Talking Dora Family House in the first place (even though we didn’t know it at the time).  That wasn’t enough, nor was giving the middle one two gifts, to counter-act the oldest getting more from my mom and sis.  They have it easy.  My mom and sister give overwhelmingly to the oldest.  I give the the middle child (my spot) purpose gifts.  This year, she learned to tell a story, so I gave her  more stories to learn and tell.  The littlest one I gave a toy, Tigger, that keeps with my Taoist theme.  It seems to be lost on the oldest, but perhaps Tigger with spark it again.

Shopping on Christmas Eve

When  I was much younger, I thought it was fun to wait until Christmas Eve to do all of my shopping.  I’d go to Sears and get everything I needed.  Then I started working retail, and it was impossible.  Everyone had to work until closing.  There were a few years in there when I did all of my shopping out of catalogs.  I’d take my time choosing gifts, and then call in all of my orders in one afternoon.  I can’t even remember all of the crap I bought for my family and friends from those catalogs.  The Christmas after I got back from Latvia, I gave everyone Latvian crafts and jewelry — beautifully bound blank books, textiles, silver, and of course, amber.

In the past few years, I’ve shopped earlier — not as early as some (who cheerfully tell me two weeks before Christmas:  I finished my shopping!) — but before Christmas Eve.  I’ve done progressively more shopping online.  That worked out particularly well this year because I was able to get two gifts that weren’t available in any local stores.  Everything got here much earlier than I expected.

Even though I didn’t have any gift shopping to do, I did need to get some groceries, so I ventured out today.  I wanted some new tennis shoes, too, so I stopped on the way at the Payless.  Every single pair of shoes was made in China.  Since I only buy something made in China if I can’t find or don’t have time to find it made somewhere else, I left, deciding to stop at the Academy on the way to the Central Market.  Things looked bleak there, too, until I finally found a pair of Reeboks on sale — made in Vietnam!  YaY!  I also managed to find 2 shirts and some sweats made in El Salvador and India.  (India is about to switch over to the no-buy list for me.)  When I went to check out, as is my luck, the cashiers were changing.  The new cashier couldn’t get his till to fit into the cash register drawer.  No matter how hard he tried — pull the drawer out, shift the till, look at the drawer, then the till, then try again — it wouldn’t fit.  He turned and called to someone in the manager’s booth,  “The till won’t fit.”  A young woman came over and stood by the cashier as he continued his futile attempts to make the thing fit.  The cashier, with no help from the young woman, called to the manager’s booth again.  Another woman shouted from the booth, “What’s wrong?”  The cashier said, “It’s too big.”  She walked over, watched him still trying and pronounced, “Oh, it’s too wide.”  Genius.  The cashier tries, the two women stand watching him try, I stand at the counter (I want to see what’s going to happen next — I’m in no hurry), and nothing different happens for more than a minute.   The second woman finally says, “Ma’am, you should go to another line.  This could take a while.”  I smiled and said, “Clearly.”  In the next line the cashier was cheery and asked if I needed a gift receipt.  I said, “Nope.  It’s all for me!” That got me a little laugh. 

Next, I went to Central Market.  It’s supposed to be European — meaning very narrow aisles and stuff from other places.  I had wanted to get something unusual to dip into the super-duper chocolate fountain chocolate that I’m giving my mom tomorrow.  I found some raspberries.  I also needed to get some potatoes, but for some reason (European?) they don’t sell them in handy 5 lb. bags., and I’m not going to pay $2 something a pound for POTATOES (even if they are imported from Russia).  They did have those creepy fingerling potatoes.  After making that kind last year, I learned that they freak out my nieces.  The place was packed with all sorts of people from all sorts of different places.  I heard Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and English, of course.  I got some dried apricots and then some pretzels.  Moderately successful trip, I guess.  Out in the parking lot, there was a guy with a BMer letting a Central Market employee put little gift baskets in his car while the alarm was going off.  I’ll give BMer guy credit — he tipped the guy — but seriously, who doesn’t load their own groceries these days?  Middle-aged wealthy guys who can’t figure out the alarm systems on their BMers?

 I stopped off at Fiesta to get potatoes and sour cream (Central Market wanted a lot for the locally made brand).  Oh, and some vino — in a box.  Fiesta is patterned more on what you might call an American supermarket — as in the continent.  There were probably as many people as there had been in Central Market, but they were way more laid back.  I heard mostly English and Spanish — four guys were having an in-depth discussion about which beer to buy.  As I walked through the store, three different people in three different aisles were singing along with the Christmas music playing over the speakers — not just humming or singing to themselves but singing — it was cool.

Near the meat counter, a woman asked the butcher a question in Spanish.  The butcher listened to her and then said he didn’t understand.  Within a moment, a man who wasn’t with the woman stepped over and translated.  The butcher listened and answered the woman’s question happily.  I smiled and thought, this language thing may take a while, but it can work, not just on Christmas Eve, but every day between everyday regular people.

O’Hare’s Interview with Gallagher Yesterday

Unlike the guys on Red, White and Blue, Gallagher is typical in his interview style.  Even though he’s whole-heartedly behind Tim O’Hare, Gallagher cannot seem to simply ask a straight-forward direct question. 

[I'm transcribing the interview and a partial is below the fold -- I'll try to finish it tomorrow.]

In the interview and throughout the broadcast, Gallagher continually attributed words — ones I won’t repeat here — to those who oppose the ordinances.  I heard him say them far more in that one broadcast than I have heard or read them used by anyone anywhere.  When Gallagher asked O’Hare why they are “fighting to do the right thing,” O’Hare responded with a pat answer of if you don’t have the facts on your side, make personal attacks.   The fact is that there is doubt as to whether O’Hare and the city council followed the law.  That is what the only lawsuit which has been filed against the city is about.

The first question is the funniest — Gallagher asks if O’Hare has the ambition to run for governor — or oh wait — some higher office.  Since irony has died, I’ll add this only as an obsevation — later in the show Gallagher had Buchanan on and at the end of their conversation they were joking that waterboarding the President and Vice President might help in finding out why those two had gone off the reservation wrt immigration.

Slap me silly, but wasn’t Gallagher honking loudly about putting people in camps for saying anything negative about Bush?

There’s more and I will add to this tonight and tomorrow.

I finished the transcription. 

According to O’Hare, the overall crime rate is down for the city.  While answering the question about illegal immigrants and crime, O’Hare does not offer any solid evidence, he simply states his belief that illegal immigrants are responsible.  So, are the illegal immigrants the cause of the crime rate going down?

The first thing O’Hare harps on, though, is property values.  This remends me of the article I found about O’Hare’s suggestions for Farmers Branch’s development earlier this year.  He is focused on real estate.  I’m speculating here, but it seems convenient to me that the city council didn’t pass an ordinance that would have penalized employers for hiring illegal immigrants.  Tim O’Hare wants to tear down older, less valuable housing (but remember, it would be great if you could have cheap labor do it), and then entice builders to come in and build bigger, more expensive houses (and it would be great to have cheap labor to do this, too), but he wouldn’t be able to lure high-end builders into the small community (pop. 28K) without getting rid of the people who live in the low-end housing, so what’s the solution?  Pass an ordinance that makes it impossible for those same people to live in Farmers Branch, but hope that they don’t move so far away that they won’t/can’t come into FB to do teardown and construction, and let the building contractors keep hiring them without a penalty.

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