Monthly Archives: March 2007

Flags

Today I had to drive off into *Bush* Country — the suburbs around Houston — in the hopes in the rain of finding my family at an Easter Egg Hunt (there’s a side story about a kitten to this adventure that I’ll write about later).  Driving down the center street in the city that claims bragging rights to being the Birthplace of Texas, a truck pulled up beside me with what must have been some 10′ 2×4′s in its bed.  Usually if something like lumber is sticking out of the back of a truck, a bit of red ribbon is tied to the end sticking out — so drivers will notice the unusual extension of space the truck is using and therefore the following vehicle won’t burst its radiator.  This *patriot* that was driving the truck had an American Flag hanging off the lumber in the back of his truck.  Like I said, it was raining and the streets in Bushville were dirty and this geinus had an American flag hanging off a 2x4s in the bed of his truck.

Let’s step back a bit to get the feel for my reaction.  My mom has always been one to latch onto the majority trends.  She’s probably never had an original thought.  (She’s afraid of computers, so no chance she’ll ever read this.)  When I was in junior high school (’70′s), it was very popular to embroider blue-jean colored shirts.  Much like charm bracelets, one’s mom individualized the embroidered shirts.  My mom stitched an American flag on mine.  I wore it to school  one day and one day only.  I didn’t get sent home, but the assistant principle told my mom that it was disrespectful to wear the American flag on my clothing.

Fast forward to 2001.  After 9/11, people in this country had American flags everywhere.  I remember going to a dinner party at my friends’ house.  The wife is from here, her husband is Russian.  She worked for a firm that did a lot of business in the former Soviet Republics, and so there were mostly Russians at the party.  One Russian guy asked me why Americans started putting flags everywhere — their cars, their houses, their clothes — after 9/11.  The only explanation I could give — and I was still devastated from what had happened –this was shortly after 9/11 and before the invasion of Iraq – was that people wanted to come together — that the U.S. mainland had never been hit from outside before.  Having lived in Latvia, I then pointed out that the former Soviets have a strong tradition of displaying flags — more so than here — and that if Russia had been hit, Russians would have done the same.  (Remember, this conversation took place before the attack in Beslan.)

I don’t fly a flag at my house.  If I ever do, most likely it would be a Texas flag, not a U.S. flag.  No, I’m not one of those crazy people who want to secede, but my heart is always with Texas.  I do wish that Texas could have had enough money back then not to have been pressured into joining the U.S. and that we could have ended slavery without a war.  Yeah, I have these dreams — fantasies. 

I’ve gotten off track.  My point is that people do things with flags that could be interpreted to be disrespectful all the time.  What is the difference between burning a flag and using it to signal the end of a 2×4 and in the meantime dragging it through the mud and rain?  Or wearing it as a bathing suit and sitting on it?  Or wearing it on your shirt? 

I would never do any of that with either the American flag or the Texas flag.  Which pisses me off more?  If someone did it to my flag.  Texas, always Texas.

To follow on my last post . . .

tonight on NOW on PBS, there was a report about a labor strugle at Vanderbilt University.  Students, community leaders, religious leaders and union members came together to force the university to increase the wages of the lowest paid employees.  Like the custodians in Houston, the custodians at Vanderbilt won a pay increase.

It made me think about the people that work in that same capacity at my university.  We recently went through an adjustment — both with classification and wages.  I think I’ll look up what our custodial staff earns.

It is also something that I have felt and thought about for years.  I have always thought that the people who clean our public restrooms and take away our trash should be paid much more than what they are.  Something that struck me in the NOW report was that the students made the effort to talk to the custodial staff.  The students found them reticent, at first.  I understand that.  However, if those people weren’t there everyday doing their jobs, the campus would be a health risk to attend.  Even though my university doesn’t have dorms, there is enough sloppy — no — disgusting behavior in the restrooms that they are often shut down, often nasty.  Being there all day every day, I also know that the custodial staff is constantly having to clean up after people who think they are their private maids.  For example, my boss is very concerned about germs.  She proudly declared to me and others that she uses the paper towel she dries her hands with in the restroom to then open the restroom door and then throws it on the floor.  She bragged about it.  My first thought was that she is rather typical of people who have maids at home (she does) and is inconsiderate.

Think about this: What would you do if your trash wasn’t picked up?  What would you do if someone in your house put paper towels in your toilette?  What would you think if hundreds of people used your toilette and left it in the state that most leave public restrooms?  How would you feel if it was your job to clean up after college students?  I remember my college days — the roommate invited a friend to visit.  She got drunk and then puked and had diarrhea in the common bathroom.  I remember to this day the *sadness* she felt upon telling my roommate and I what she had done.

I did my taxes tonight . . .

and by chance I chose the “check my return for possible audit” option.  I don’t remember it being there before.  There’s some interesting info there.  (BTW — I use TurboTax — have for the last few years.)  It compares you to others in your income group.  Here’s the average for people in my group (not me though):

Medical Expenses:    5720.00

Taxes Paid:                3859.00

Interest Expenses:    7449.00 (that’s interest paid on mortgages and investments)

Charitable Contributions:  2291.00

My numbers are different.  I didn’t go to the doctor last year and my dental bill didn’t meet the percentage mark to make it deductable.  My taxes paid was lower than the average, but I have to pay the equivalent of my car insurance this time, even with my deductions.  The mortgage thing is different because I have a very small house and my mortgage is not in the 6 digits.  What caught my eye was the Charitable Contributions category.  While I don’t want to say how much I earn, I am a teacher, and that gives a clue to my salary.  How can people in that range make not hundreds, but thousands of dollars in contributions in one year?  Seriously, I had a bit of extra cash at the end of last year, but not thousands of dollars.  I use the TurboTax calculator for determining the value of stuff I dropped off at the local Sand Dollar, but $2K?  I don’t know. 

My brother is an accountant.  He’s always told me that it’s better to owe at tax time, because you’ve had your money throughout the year.  I guess that works if you have a lot of money to throw around and that you make it *work* for you.  I read this at John Cole’s site earlier this evening — it reaffirms what Time reported in its October 30, 2006 edition:  the vast majority of Americans earn less than $50K and half earn less than $30K.   That’s 150 million people.  90% make $100K or less.  That means 270 million people make less than $100K.

How much does George W. Bush make?  $400K.  He gets a bad review (11/06), and what happens?  He keeps the money and keeps his job.

Meetings — The Perfect Waste of Time

Earlier this week, my boss emailed me stating that I had to go to a “Safety Training Session.”  Yippee!  Of course, it started late.  Of course, I was there early.  Of course, I took work with me (some actually very good writing from my beginner group — I would have rather graded it in my office).

It was a PowerPoint presentation.  At least the guy didn’t simply read what was on the screen.  In fact, he skipped a lot of it and filled in the time with contradictory stories about his previous employer.  You know there is always at least one person who has his/her own adgenda — the one who insists upon asking question after question and can’t even be shamed into stopping.  At first, I thought that the training group I was in had been lucky.  The one person who tried wasn’t very enthusiastic about it and the training moved on. 

But then, someone came in late.  She was the ringer. 

Having been late, she missed the part about the guy giving the training not being part of the campus police.  So later she had to ask (repeatedly)  who enforced this that or the other rule.  The other typical thing she did was to alternatively personalize and then generalize.  For example,  what to do about X activity.  (Mostly is was about smoking — the same person couldn’t understand why she couldn’t have a space heater in her office, how that is a fire hazard (all those news reports about fires in the winter???), or how that might affect the thermostat, and even when the nature of thermostats was explained, had to hear it more than once.)  She complained about X activity.  That’s the “I” part.  Then when the “Safety Guy” told her the solution, her retort was that they (unidentified, globbed together, stereotypical group) would respond in only one way.

Fortunately (or not) I didn’t make an illustrative example about the safety hazards of being inconsiderate of others’ time and patience.  I had another meeting to go to (ugh) and so after the meeting had run 20 minutes overtime, I took my leave.

The second meeting was typical “gotcha” crap.  But that’s what I had expected.  Crappy afternoon all the way around.  At least my morning was ok.  And tommorow is another day!

This is really bad . . .

 Chris Baker will feel no repercussions from what he did last Thursday.  Last night, the Sheriff announced the terrible details regarding the case that Baker bleeted about on Thursday.  That’s what happens when a failed comic tries to make news.  It’s not the first time.  Baker previously stirred people up to protest a completely legitimate nonprofit organization’s offer to help people legalize their status.  (I can’t find the link, sorry.)  He’ll keep his job — perhaps even get a pay raise.  He successfully backtracked from his original statements on both the Edwardses and the poor girl who was murdered on his unblog.

 For years, a pervert flooded the airwaves of Houston every morning.  Now we have Michael Berry in the mornings and Chris Baker in the afternoons.  Baker was completely wrong, and no deflecting to illegal aliens will help him save face.  Michael Berry is a Tom  DeLay wanna be.  Time will only tell if either of them are up to the mark of their predecessor.

There is something wrong when any of these men have the opportunity to seemingly dictate what a governmental agency does.  The original Chron story is now proven correct.  Baker is and was wrong.

But he will get a pass.

Food — Specifically Mexican Restaurants

When I go to a Mexican restaurant for the first time, there are several things I judge.  First off, the chips and salsa.  Today R and I went to Tecate on Ella Blvd.  The chips were fresh and the salsa (cooked) had a bite.  Spanish Flower’s salsa is sweet (not cooked) but seriously yummy.  My favorite — Tequila’s, now closed — offered both red and green salsa — both hot and fresh (not cooked).  Ever since Tequila’s closed, I’ve looked for another authentic Mexican restaurant.   Tecate is almost there.  Their refried beans are very good and maybe it’s just me, but served in too small a quantity.  I love me some refrieds.  The first time I go to a Mexican restaurant, I order carne guisada.  R always gets milanesa.  They are the standards each of us use to judge the rest of the menu.  Tecate made the grade the first visit.   Today we got there early enough to get breakfast.  We both chose the Tecate special.  Like the Three Bears story — it was just right — eggs, potatoes, chorizo, jalapenos, and cheese — with corn tortillas.

 In the end, I haven’t found anything comparable to Tequila’s.  There’s a little taco stand that serves authentic Mexican tacos, but it’s not like ordering sopas. . . or real gorditos.

Perfect Husband Chris Baker

Today Chris Baker had three examples for his topic of character issuesOne was pure fluffOne was very serious.  Were I him, I would have focused solely on that one.   There are people in our community who are doing everything they can and will continue to do that good work — with or without Chris Baker.

Before his show started, Baker had this up on his *blog*:

“How does Quanel X make his money?” I’ve heard that question a million times; well here you go.  Quanel X helps murderers and cutthroats surrender peacefully to the police which save lives and keep the peace around here.  In this particular case we still do not know that facts until we learn more but for years he’s helped bring varmits to justice.  He’s also loud, defiant and “clean”; (If you use the Joe Biden theory) if he makes a good living doing that, I’m all for it.

After reading Baker’s *blog* writing for a while, it is clear to me why he truly despises teachers.  Being a good conservative, it couldn’t be his fault that he doesn’t know how to write.  He’s just like Tom DeLay, except he hasn’t convinced Clear Channel to hire a ghost writer for him yet.

Given that Baker could have made an entire show out of just the second example, predictably he couldn’t resist adding on something that happened at noon.  It took me a few moments to get a cassette into a machine to tape record, so I missed what Baker said at the very beginning of his show, but it is now up on his radio station’s website.  Here’s what I recorded:

I think John Edwards is a bad husband.  First of all he trotted his wife out there as a prop on this press conference where in my opinion he uses her sickness her disease for his own selfish ambition which doesn’t surprise me remember he’s a foetus channeler.  I think he’s a bad husband just for the fact first of all that he drug her out there and made this whole phony news conference.  But I think he’s a skunk because he says he’s going to continue to run for president while this woman is being treated for cancer.  She’s been diagnosed what two times, three times?  That’s not good.  And any husband, I’m sorry any husband that would leave his wife when she’s going through cancer treatment is a no good low down skunk.

While I was working, I left the tape recording, so I did miss some things.  I got home around 4 and tuned back in.  Baker was still insisting that Edwards was “leaving” his wife.  He did that throughout the hour.  Finally, a little before 5 I sent him an email.  I basically called him on his disingenousness on the facts (the leaving part and the relationship the Edwardses have in their marriage) and his cynical treatment of his audience.  After 5, Baker didn’t say leave again, and he didn’t take any calls from people parroting that meme.  One guy did call in and supported Edwards and his wife.  Baker moved the goalposts and grunted into the microphone, as he always does when confronted with facts.  (I remember once a guy called into Baker’s show and disagreed with him and Baker grunted — until the guy said he was an Iraq war vet.  Then Baker fell all over himself and even went over his time.)  It got heated and Baker was clearly rattled.  The guy that called in was firm and hung in there rather well.

Baker basically repeated what I have transcribed above for three hours.  The pod casts are here.  He didn’t read the email I sent him — which called him on his lie/ignorance.  He did read emails that were “threatening.”  After everything that has been written about holding blog owners accountable for comments on their blogs, I doubt Baker got threatening emails from anyone but conservatives.  I use myself as an example.  He didn’t read my email.  Why not?  Because I diplomatically pointed out that he had his facts wrong.  He read the threatening emails.  Why?  Because he can characterize John Edwards supporters without any repercussions and no one will call him on it.

I’ve listened to talk radio for years.  I find it interesting that people like Baker and Mike Gallagher get so flabberghasted so easily.

 Update:  Baker wrote back.  “would you leave your spouse?”  This after I pointed out that Edwards is not leaving his wife.  This afternoon I emailed Baker again and included Bathus’ comment from this thread claiming ownership of the “threatening” email.  Baker wrote back.  “So you are not a moonbat you just came off like one.  My mistake.”  I wrote him back, pointing out that I didn’t send that “threatening” email, Bathus did.  Poor Chris Baker.  Can’t write.  Can’t read.

Values

Someone gave me a paper copy of the Houston Chronicle today.  The headline?  “His new bully pulpits.”  New?  Tom does the same thing every other person who writes a book does and it’s new?  He’s got a blog.  Wow.  Join the several millions of us who had one before you – especially those who started the whole thing.  He was on teevee.  Wow.  He proved his irrelevance in one appearance on Meet the Press.  He’s got a new book.  Oh, I already said that.  But his book is cool.  Cool title.  Cool writer (not Tom).  Why is this man’s pic on the front of the only paper in the fourth largest city in the USA?  You tell me.

 The title of the book is No Retreat, No Surrender:  One American’s Fight.  (my emphasis :)

While I know I’m not pointing out something new, but what? 

First, DeLay, appropriately named, is a card carrying member of the deferment club.  He never served at all.   Second, he is out of office.  Twice neutered.

First, DeLay, appropriately named, used his power as majority leader to postpone ethics charges against him until he ran out of arms to twist.  Second, he stayed in the 2006 primary and then quit.  That’s surrender — twice.

First, DeLay, apprpriately named, announced his blog, then his book.  When pressed, he admitted that he didn’t write his blog posts.  With the by line on the book, he admits he didn’t write his book.  That’s retreat — at least once, which forced him to give credit the second time.

The icing?  Tom DeLay is not a “family values” guy.

I drank too much. Islept with women I wasn’t married to.  I neglected my family.

 I am a conservative.  Wait that last bit was me.  I wonder if any of the women he cheated on his wife with will come forward?

I also wonder about the all important ranking system

In that same vein, it looks like Sparkly is trying to get a toe-hold at another blog.

DeLay is now on Mark Levin’s show telling his story of being a little boy patriot.  That’s nice.  Maybe that’s what made him sceered to volunteer, much less put his name in the lottery for Vietnam.

The professional Levin talks DeLay through his time in congress.  DeLay found Jesus.  He has been walking with Jesus ever since.  What a compelling story.  The eveil Ronny Earl, did it!!!!

Mark Levin is suppline.  We are conservatives — we need to stand up for our friends Israel –

Crap — Levin is a radical –

I wish I could record this.

My Chris Baker Parody

Baker today on his *blog*:

I am right again

Monday 03-19-2007  2:32p.m.

It’s always nice to know you are not alone.  I have said for years there is a link between the Socialist, Communist/radical Islamist movement.

The wall street journal lays it all out (CLICK HERE)

My parody:

That’s correct.  According to highly praised writer and right-wing pundit Dinesh D’Souza in his latest book  The Enemy Within, consevatives in America have much more in common with radical Islamists than the cultural left.  His strongest point, when radical Islamists identify an enemy, they kill them.  Local radio talk show host Chris Baker agrees. 

Here’s a good run down of the points in D’Souza’s book.

Baker is like a dog with a bone . . . or a broken record.  Take your pick.

More Outside Pics

These are thumbnails, too — for the same reason.  I can only solve one technological problem at a time — at home.  I’m going to “capture” the inside only ones tomorrow — I hope.

Dora

My Girl Dora

Oliver

Oliver on Tealita

Tam

Tam hates the camera.  I chased her around the yard three different times.  Once Dora came out, Tam was distracted enough to let me catch this:

Girlies

What is happening here is difficult to explain, but clear when you see it.  Something happened — and Dora sticks her head through the space between the neighbors’ fence and ours — Tam gets that it is nothing.

girlies again

I wish there were a puppy and kitty food tree that I could grow in the yard.  That way I wouldn’t have to leave them tomorrow.  It helps to know that they will just sleep all day.