Monthly Archives: March 2009

Some Satisfaction for Cambodians, at Long Last

Thirty years later, meaning that the man on trial today was approximately 32-36 years old when he tortured his fellow citizens, Kaing Guek Eav apologized for what he had done.

It has been a long wait for the families of the victims.  At least now they may be able to learn what happened to their loved ones, or the whys or hows of the whole thing.

Trials and truth commissions have helped other countries come to terms with atrocities committed by citizens upon their fellow citizens.

I’ve always thought that the reason so many Americans have felt comfortable with so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques is solely because it wasn’t Americans doing it to other Americans.

Blizzard: The Movie

Home, Sweet (?) Home

When my colleague was trying to drop me off this evening, someone decided at that very moment to park in front of my driveway and pick through the heavy trash my across-the-street neighbors had left in the ditch.  At my insistence that it was ok, he pulled into my next door neighbor’s drive way and let me off, which meant that Murphy and Tammy, who were in the front yard, just saw me lugging my crap up to the house via the sidewalk.

This they did not like.

They barked at me despite the “DO NOT BARK” box being out and on.

Oh, well.

R let me in the house and then I went to my bedroom door to see Dora.  When I opened it, she headed for the front door for a split second before turning around and turning into a wiggly little puppy girl at my feet.

After spending a few minutes with Dora and Caroline and R, I decided to put Dora back in my room and let Tam and Murph back in.

Holy shit.

Neither one of them wanted to come back in the house.  For those two pups, change is not good, until it is good.

It took a little bit of time and sitting on the front porch with them, but both Tam and Murph decided that the stink of Denver on me wasn’t so bad.

And so we are back to normal before bedtime — which is all screwed up for me at least.  Dora gets to sleep with me tonight — it’s more of a reward for her than some sort of non-reward for Tam and Murph.  This might be the chance for me to pull Dora back into the realm of the sane.  She needs this reward.  She needs to know that all of her hard work (resisting being crazy) has paid off for her.  I feel good about this.  I feel better about Dora than I have in a very long time.

Caroline is fine, as is Cisco.  When R was leaving, I got to see Junie and Braveheart.  I think sad gray and white boy was under my car, though I don’t know for sure.

I bought a small replica of the blue bear that peers into the Colorado Convention Center, wrapped up in lots of tissue, foam and bubble wrap.   Despite, or perhaps because of that effort, the right ear was chipped — just like Caroline’s ear is ‘chipped.’  Disappointment is fleeting, when you look at things in terms of your own.

My pictures from my outing are limited, first because I didn’t bother to buy a card and second because my batteries died, but my colleague has real video of the blizzard.  I hope he will share it, so I can put it up.  It’s pretty cool (except when he pointed his damn camera at me and I wag my finger at him like a damn teacher).

Denver is a cool city.  I wish I had had a little more time to explore it. 

More about that later.

BREAKING NEWS!! POOCH-SITTER PROVES PUSHOVER TO PERSISTENT PRISON-BREAK PUPS!!

Yes! A second breakout but this time it wasn’t possum-chasing Dora. She was inside, in the bedroom (luckily, as it turned out). I saw pup-silhouettes on the front porch through the stained glass and then suddenly they were both airborne & barking. I stepped outside to check & saw Tammy standing by the side gate growling, Murphy backing her up from beside the tree. When I got to the sidewalk I could see 2 kitties by my car, in typical kitty stand-off pose, although I couldn’t make out who they were. Suddenly they went from stand-off to loony tunes kick-yer-ass ball of fury and Tammy, very upset, just bowled right through the gate. I mean, literally, she looked like an angry buffalo from behind. She disappeared down the driveway and I shot out the front gate, pausing just long enough to latch it behind me … or so I thought … Kitties had by now taken a rain-check on their quarrel and scattered and after several idiot circlings of my & Michelle’s car (a sad sight I’m sure, slow biped following chubby pup) I caught up with her by the utility room door. She didn’t have a collar or harness to hold on to, so I gently gripped her by the ears and tried to stir her back up the driveway, all the time certain that Murph was about to follow her through the side gate. Tammy reverted to leadbutt Tammy and sat there with me crouched over trying not to squeeze her ears too tight. I was trying to gauge whether I could keep my grip and reach up and unlock the door one-handed, once I wrestled the keys out of my pocket and located the right one in the darkness. I suddenly could not for the live of me visualize where Dora was? Safe in the bedroom? Quietly waiting just the other side of the utility room door, poised for mayhem? I glanced down the driveway but still no Murph. Time for decision! I reached up and tried the key (wrong!), tried another key (epic fail!), cursed and tried the third & success was achieved! I lifted Tammy up the steps and shoved her inside, closed the door and raced back down the driveway, bouncing my funny-bone off my sideview mirror (but managing not to whimper too loudly). When I got to the side gate I saw that Tammy had not busted the middle pickets as I’d thought and they were still attached at the crossbar. Somehow Murphy had managed to wedge his head under the fence (! ? ! ?) and was wriggling around on the ground. I put my one hand on his silly little head, pushed up on the bottom of the gate with the other & he slid back into the yard. Relief! But NOOOOO! He bounced up, did a happy circle or two and then out the front gate he went, not so latched after all! But he was tangling with the wrong human and made the mistake of stalling at the edge of the neighbor’s drive to smell some weeds and I tackled him in the ditch (just like the kids at the rodeo!). When I got him back inside I went out & moved the garbage can as close to the side gate as I could get it. Before I did I forgot to ask myself: had it rained earlier that day? (yes, it had); was the dent in the lid still there? the one that serves as a perfect reservoir for rainwater? (yes, it was). Did I manage to tilt the garbage can so that the accumulated water drenched me from the waist down? OF COURSE I DID!!!
Back inside, having checked to make sure everything was locked down and secure, I made myself a nice cup of tea, smoked 3 cigarettes in a quick chain, and told Caroline and Cisco what good good kitties they were.

States of the Union

Recently I’ve had a work-related assignment that has involved reading a bunch of old presidential State-of-the-Union messages. The earliest was one by James Monroe (short & elegant), and the latest was by Grover Cleveland in the 1880s. In between I looked at a couple each by Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, James Polk, & Millard Fillmore. What is remarkable is how, on the whole they are all pretty readable, even the ones from Jackson, who was always rumored to be semi-literate, at best.

The speeches are full of all sort of period details & quaint appeals to Providence etc., but also some very hard-headed arguments & lines here and there that ring with an eerieness for a modern reader, knowing what’s going to happen in the next decade, the next year. References to Native Americans abound: Apaches raiding along the border of Texas and Mexico, Comanches turning the Panhandle into a no-go zone, the Sioux off the reservation (again!) and one sad and self-congratulatory reference to how the Seminole Nation is now almost completely “evacuated” from Florida, leaving it open to white settlement and COMMERCE! In the address by Cleveland there is a paragraph devoted to King Leopold of Belgium’s ‘true and Christian’ actions in the Congo. I can only hope that Grover had not yet seen the shocking proof of Leopold’s nightmare regime, with its cross-limb amputations, punitive rape, and the deliberate breaking up of nuclear families in order to deprive them of the will to resist which might be fed on hope. In another address there is a cryptic one-liner about a small fleet of gunboats that are on their way to Japan to force the Japanese to open their ports to COMMERCE! Two years later another address contains a one-liner saying that the small fleet has just gotten back having achieved their aim. It seems the Japanese were brought to enlightenment once they faced the prospect of bombardment.

Almost every one of these addresses opens with a reaffirmation that the United States desires to be neutral and wishes to have hostilities with no one but relations of COMMERCE with all! In the early days (Monroe, Jackson etc.) there’s almost a sense of national paranoia in this statement of neutrality as a policy, and it seems very clearly designed as a message to Great Britain, the Royal Navy still being close to 20 times larger than the US Navy well into the 1840s. Another thing that crops up over and over is the settlement of claims by the US government on behalf of various American merchants whose property was damaged abroad. It makes for very depressing reading when you realize the context that caused the damage, in most cases being independence movements against European powers. Where one might expect the US President to send out some fraternal message of solidarity to men (and women) fighting for their freedom, instead you get to see successive Commanders-In-Chief behaving as repo-men on the behalf of organized business cartels. In one address alone, Polk proudly announces his progress in coercing payments out of every single one of the Central American countries, not a one of which had the funds to spare. And yet they did, choosing national bankruptcy over the threat of naval blockades or bombardment or worse. We really have behaved like the neighborhood bully for the better part of our history.

Oh, and there’s also a tirade against the Mormons of Utah in one of the addresses, which jumps out from between a paragraph about the Post Office and one about floating weigh-stations on the Mississippi.

Finally, reading Polk’s explanation of why we were going to war with Mexico hits really close to home. He sets out 7 reasons why there can be no alternative to war. A glance at any neutral history of the war shows that all 7 reasons presented were based on out-and-out lies, and the verdict as to whether Polk knew he was lying at the time is universally damning. We’ve all learned, to our great sorrow, that the unlamented George Bush was no student of history, and so, looking back now at Polk’s war, it’s proof of Santayana’s old chestnut: those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

Oh Well …

Larry the ceiling-fan guy was a no-show. The weather was lousy but since Larry didn’t bother to call either of the phone numbers he had, no 2nd-chance. Sorry, Larry! I stewed & fretted after the first hour went by but then I snapped out of it & tended to little Jessie(maybe)’s laundry needs. She’s a funny girl & lord knows how long it took her but she managed to pull an entire sheet off the top of her crate & inside … it must have taken her a good hour or so. Dora howled & shrieked during the thunder & I howled & shrieked back at her that everything was alright & that nothing was going to happen to her. T&M were pretty quiet but later, hard as it was, I had to scold Murphy cuz he wouldn’t leave Cisco alone. It wasn’t a bad scolding but those little eyes & those floppy ears! I felt like Attila the Hun.

I actually fell asleep during the last segment of the NewsHour & woke with a start! Where was I? Who was I? Caroline promptly reminded me that I was at HER house and I was there to take care of HER! Thanks, Carolina!

So today was sort of a lemon and though I didn’t exactly turn it into lemonade it was good to be safe & sound with all the babies.

Night at Calle Viena: much serenity & a bit of excitement

Everything was fine when I got home & all the guys got fed & snuggled etc. Tammy & Murphy tumbled outside & Dora had the run of the place. Cisco & Caroline planted themselves around the computer & didn’t move for hours. Braveheart & Junie & sad-gray-&-white kitty had their dinner as well. A sudden shower came through while I cleaned up the crate & let little kitty girl wander around the bathroom. She cleaned up some wet food & tumped over a little dish of water. No problem! She’s so sweet & has a tiny, slightly hoarse sounding cry. I got her back inside the crate with a fresh red t-shirt to lounge on & cracked the bathroom door while I ran the air in the other room. I’ve checked on her several times & she’s always alert & waiting to say ‘hey’. I haven’t called her anything yet & will need to run it by Michelle but for some reason I keep thinking her name might be ‘Jessie’.

Now for the little bit of excitement. Murphy started barking & then so did Dora, who was outside,  & so I went out the side door to see what was up. Who should I see but Junie, Braveheart, and their little possum friend! Mr. Possum ran under the house & I could hear Dora tossing furniture around in the front yard. It didn’t help that I was on the cell phone with my sister while all this was going on, but hopefully she didn’t notice. I stood in the driveway by the fence & thought I saw Dora in the bushes. Then! Suddenly! I looked down & there was little Dora face, as she came crawling out from under the house! What the hell?  I grabbed her by the harness & hauled her around to the front gate but since I was still on the phone I had to stand there for awhile while she squirmed & turned into a pretzel. I finally got her in the yard & I think (I hope! I pray!) that I found where she overturned one of those concrete edge-things & wormed past the lattice. I thrashed around in the bushes & hopefully blocked it up. When T&M went out for their 2nd watch they stayed put so I feel more secure.

Right now T&M are rasslin’ loudly on the floor. More rain & the news said there’s been a tornado in Montgomery County & hail & tons of rain in the Woodlands.

Tomorrow Larry the ceiling fan guy will be by. That will make for another thrilling update for sure!

All the babies listened attentively when I told them to send kisses to Denver …