Monday, July 30, 2007

Calling all Karma

Whew, I was on a tear last night! Pardon my rant, but sometimes I just have to get it out.

That being said, let me get this off my chest. In your life, do you have one of those people that you have to maintain contact with? Due to circumstances, you just can't get them out of your life and be done with them. They may be the most vile, miserable excuse for a human being you'll ever have the misfortune to know, but you still have to deal with them. It's frustrating, but I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I just have to suck it up and deal. However, I'm a big believer in that ol' karmic wheel, and I believe what goes around comes around. Maybe not today, maybe not next month, but one day, your behavior will come back to bite you in the ass. And when that happens, I will be the first in line to say, "Guess that didn't work out so well for ya, did it?"

Perhaps a picture will cheer me up. This is some type of hibiscus, commonly called around here Rose of Sharon. We have several, but this one is full of blooms, these gorgeous, large purple flowers. The hummingbirds really like them!

I've added a new website to my favorites. Check it out, recommended for cat lovers only....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Great Cleavage Debate '07

First of all, let me say right now that I'm not a Hillary Clinton supporter, and I will not vote for her.

However, I have to say that as a woman, I am appalled at this recent news "story" about her showing cleavage at the latest debate. The main focus seems to be on an editorial in The Washington Post, in which the author writes extensively about Clinton's cleavage. (You can read the column here.) The author writes:

"To display cleavage in a setting that does not involve cocktails and hors d'oeuvres is a provocation. It requires that a woman be utterly at ease in her skin, coolly confident about her appearance, unflinching about her sense of style. Any hint of ambivalence makes everyone uncomfortable. And in matters of style, Clinton is as noncommittal as ever."

What the hell does THAT mean? Oh, and the author, Robin Givhan, is a woman. What is this broad trying to say? Does she support Clinton's attire as empowerment as a woman, or is she saying that Clinton is deliberately trying to be provocative? Whatever she is attempting to say, it is out of place and unwarranted, and it pisses me off that this is an issue, even a trumped-up issue. Like I said, I don't support Clinton, but I really am irritated that anyone would write about such nonsense, and frankly, I think it's disrespectful to one of our elected officials to be talking about her rack. What's next? A story about Obama, talking about the package on the guy? How would that go over? I don't care for this Givhan broad. She's out of the girls' club.

I'm also not impressed with John Edwards, who when asked to say something he didn't like about Hillary, said he didn't like her jacket too much. I suppose he was trying to be funny, but that tells me that he's a dipwad for not coming up with something more substantial. Also that he's not very funny. You're running for Pres, dude, and all you have to say is you don't like her jacket? It's that kind of thing that tells me that no matter how far we've come, there is still a feeling in this country that it's okay to harp about stupid, superficial things about women rather than pay attention to what they have to say, or recognize that yeah, we do have a LITTLE bit of intelligence.

I'm probably coming across as a flaming feminist right now, and that is totally NOT me. And I certainly never thought I'd be in a frame of mind where I would be even a little supportive of Hillary. But you know what? It is wrong that anyone, male or female, is writing about her cleavage. She's not an entertainer, she's a legislator, and as such, she deserves some respect.

<climbing down off my soapbox>


We watched most of the replay of the debate on CNN tonight. I would like to say right now that Joe Biden has a snowball's chance in hell of winning the presidency. When asked to say something nice about a candidate, did we really hear him tell Dennis Kucinich, "I like your wife"?? Did he really say that? I believe he did.

What's up with some of these people that they are still in this race? Dodd,  and what's his face, and Kucinich and Biden...where are their handlers? Why are we spending so much money on people who cannot win a nomination? This isn't an attack against the Democrats, the same goes for the Republicans. After seeing that debacle of a debate, I'm all for campaign reform, and spending limits. Let's see every candidate get...oh, let's say $10 million, and see what they can do with it. Ken and I could do a lot with $10 million, because we know how to budget. And each major network would have to give equal time, no charge, to each candidate--within reason, of course. Say an hour per week. Yep, that'll work. And a flyer to each home--one page only per candidate--that succinctly discusses their policies and philosophy. That might make them cut the bullshit and get to the point.

I haven't always been pleased with one of our senators, Evan Bayh. (Our other senator is Richard Lugar, and he rocks. One of the best in DC.) Bayh was considering a run for the presidency, and he dropped out several months ago, because he had good handlers--they told him that he didn't have the national recognition or the money to be a viable candidate. Why are some of these people still trying to make a go of it, when everyone can tell they don't have a chance? Some of these people are gazillionaires--why can't they spend money on worthwhile things instead of throwing it all away on campaigns?

Hmm. Can you tell I'm just a tad disgusted with the political process? Think of the millions spent on each candidate and their campaigns. Can you imagine the good all that money could do?

I also have to disagree with the columnist (sorry, I forget her name) who wrote that the YouTube questions were lame and juvenile. I thought many of them were thoughtful and worthy of discussion, and I thought it showed that much of the American public is engaged and involved and interested. Or am I deluding myself? Say it isn't so!

I also found it interesting to hear a question submitted to all the candidates: You have two choices--which would you choose? Raise taxes or cut benefits. Simple question, right? A or B. Not one of them gave a straight answer. I told Ken, "How refreshing would it be to hear SOMEONE speak up and say 'I guess I'd have to raise taxes.' " An answer! An honest answer!

AAUUGGHHH!! It's over a year away, and I'm already wigged out. Maybe I'm wishing for the kind of person that doesn't exist, like Mr. Smith and George Bailey and Atticus Finch. I believe that there are people like that out there, but our political process has become so twisted that those people either don't want to run, or don't have the means to run. I think we all know one or two people who would make some great decisions and not be beholden to any group...but these are our family members and neighbors, and most of us don't have the big bucks to pour into campaign funds. Why does it have to be that way?

Sorry if I sound discouraged, but I guess I am a little bit. I still have great faith and optimism when it comes to our country and our economy, don't get me wrong. But our political process is seriously screwed.

The good news is that I've managed to exhaust myself. I'm going to sleep like a baby rock (as Ken and I like to say) tonight.


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Friday, July 27, 2007

Okay, my head is going to explode

Tonight I saw a commercial I hadn't seen before. It's a bunch of guys sitting around playing guitars, singing a song. I didn't pay much attention to the words (I heard something about being tired of the road, ready to get home), but it was set to the tune of "Viva Las Vegas." Which is one of THE coolest songs ever, and I don't think anyone will dispute that.

Then I heard the chorus, you know, the "Vivaaaa, Las Vegas!" part. But in the commercial, it was "Vivaaaa, Viagra!"

I seriously wanted to hurl. I found it on YouTube (here) and heard all the words. Something about having a honey, not wanting to stray, blah blah blah. I don't care. All I care about is that they took a great song and made it about erectile dysfunction. Damn you, Viagra marketing people. How can you sleep at night? Augh, I can't stand it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Deal me in!


Our new insurance agent is Brent. Not only did he save us money on our car insurance, he's also a really nice guy, and turns out he's one half Native American, of the Pokagon band of the Potawatomis. The Pokagons just happen to be opening a new casino nearby, and Brent sent us a couple of tickets to the opening BEFORE the grand opening, for tribe members and their guests only. What a cool deal! I'm really excited--it sounds like it's going to be a gorgeous place, and it's got a huge gaming floor. Sounds like we might have to visit it every so often, when we get the "itch." Here's their website: Four Winds Casino. Hopefully I can get some pictures and put them up here next week.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A picture or three

Finally, we're back in business. We got a laptop as our new computer (although I think we'll replace the motherboard on the old one--I'm quite fond of that computer, and I like desktops better than laptops), but I had to have a wireless keyboard and mouse. That touchpad and mini-keyboard were just NOT workin' for me. My hands are much happier since I got those up and running.

Here's the tree that got hit by lightning:

That gives me the willies every time I look at it. But things could have been a lot worse, and I feel fortunate that we didn't lose more things. If our big TV had gone kablooey, I think I would have cried. But of course, these are mere possessions. We could have been hurt, or the house could have caught on fire...all in all, we're pretty lucky, and we have learned a lesson: when lightning is that bad, unplug stuff!

We just had a new garage built to give us a little more options as far as space. This will enable us to put the workout equipment in the old garage, which will give us more room in the basement. We had Dewey Construction do the work, and we couldn't be more pleased. Dan is a really nice guy, and he and his crew did excellent work. (We asked them to do a couple of other minor projects in the house, and they did a great job with that, too.) I would recommend them to anyone in our area.

Doesn't that look nice? They didn't do the brick walkway, though--that's Ken's work, and I think he did a great job. I like heading out the door and walking down the steps, swinging whatever in my hand. (Today it was the compost crock.) I didn't actually sing, "La dee da," but I think I might have to next time.

Lastly (for today), I got a picture of this little guy today. These are one of my favorite insects, because they're such a pretty green color, and they always seem like they're friendly little guys. And they look like a leaf.


Katydids are cool!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Yay, our power is back!

Wow, deja vu.

We got a soaking rain last Wednesday, but it also brought intense lightning. It struck a cottonwood in our front yard, and it fried our modem, our computer, and our phone lines. We got our phones back yesterday, and just got back online tonight. We had to buy a new modem and a new laptop, but at least we're back. I got a picture of the tree that got hit. It's kinda creepy, because it probably could have been a lot worse. We're lucky it didn't hit the house and start us on fire!

More soon, including the tree picture.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Florida part of our trip

Yay, our power is back! There was a bad accident a little bit south of us where a guy ran into a utility pole. Unfortunately, the guy died. We were without power all last night. Luckily, we have a generator, so we were able to run the fridge and freezer. It was kind of a pleasant evening--a few games of backgammon and just nice and quiet. But wow, is it ever DARK at our place! I was holding the flashlight while Ken got the generator going, and it is creepy-dark. Yikes.

Okay, I've written about Haiti and Jamaica so far, so today I'll go back to the first week of our trip. We spent Week One at our timeshare in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. We were trying to figure out how many years we've been going there, and it's 8 for Ken and 7 for me (I think 4 for the kids, because we take them every other year), plus when I was a kid we used to go to New Smyrna a lot. New Smyrna Beach (known as NSB for the rest of this post) is about a half an hour south of Daytona Beach, and it's much quieter. Not a spring break or biker hangout, but more of a quiet, family place. They pretty much roll up the sidewalks at 10 or so during the week! Our timeshare is right on the beach, so it's just a matter of walking by the pool and down to the beach. We spend a lot of time reading out on the balcony, enjoying the ocean breeze. It's become our home-away-from-home! I look forward to it every year, because it's our chance to completely unwind and get away from the day-to-day grind. (Hey, that rhymed!)

It's a pretty beach, too. The sand is fine and white. There have been a few incidents with sharks there, but none of us has seen one, and we don't go out very far. This time, we took a bike ride along the beach, which was fun at first, but then it got a little too much! It's hard to ride a bike on sand, even when it's hard-packed, and by the time we got done, my legs were all rubbery. But it was still a gorgeous day for a ride!

One of our must-stops every time is this place:

It's called Breakers, and it may look like a little hole in the wall, but they serve the best hamburgers I've ever had. I know I have plenty more to try, but they're the winners so far. We can walk down the beach to it from our timeshare, and it's always fun to take a walk down there for a burger and a cool beverage. See ya next year, Breakers! Another favorite place to eat is J.B.'s Fish Camp. It's a favorite of the locals, too, which means it's really good. Last year I had a crab cake sandwich (YUM!), but this year I had fried shrimp. I rarely get deep-fried anything, so it tasted particularly good to me. We had to get a dozen raw oysters, too. We always try to load up on fresh seafood when we're there.

We also always make a stop at a nearby cove. Manatees hang out there. We were lucky this year and saw a baby manatee with his parents, as well as a dolphin. It's neat to see them out in the wild, rather than in a zoo.

Some of the prettiest sunsets I've seen have been at NSB.

What do you think? Sigh. Wishin' I were back there right now....


Monday, July 16, 2007

Jamaica, mon!

I loved all the places we visited, but I think I loved Jamaica the best. We went to Ocho Rios, and took a trip to Brimmer Hall Plantation (more in a moment). We got to see some of the back roads and rural countryside. It is a beautiful place, almost breathtakingly so.

Isn't that gorgeous?! Wow. I loved the beauty of the mountains (where they grow the famous Blue Mountain coffee), and the lushness of the countryside. Brimmer Hall is a working plantation (a nice surprise, because I thought it was a historical property), and while the kids initially thought it would be lame, I think we all ended up learning something. Whenever and wherever we go on vacation, we try to learn about the area and the history of the place, whether it's New Orleans or Vegas. There is always something to learn! At Brimmer Hall, they grow bananas, plantains, cocoa beans, sugar cane, coconuts, and pineapple. Oddly enough, we found out that pineapple does NOT like water--how can something so juicy not need water? But no, the ditches they dig around the pineapple plants are to direct water away from the plants, rather than for irrigation. Fascinating! (Feel free to call me a geek at this point.)

We also got to eat some sugar cane (sweet, obviously) and some fresh coconut. Yum, it's a completely different taste from the shredded stuff you buy in the store. It's crunchy goodness!

After the plantation tour, we headed back to Ocho Rios to go to Dunn's River Falls. [Note: There was major highway construction going on. We think our construction zones are crazy, just take a bus trip on a Jamaican highway. Holy cow. They don't just shut down a lane or two and do those...they tear up the entire highway and start from scratch.] One of the things we noticed on our trip was that there were lots of homes that looked half-finished or abandoned. The outer shell of concrete block (no wood homes due to termites) would be there, but it would be just that and nothing else. We asked our guide about it, and she said that Jamaicans build homes as they get the money. I.e., they'll accumulate some money and build what they can, then stop. When they get more money, they'll do a little more. Some of the places looked abandoned for some time, but I suppose in a tropical climate, things grow so quickly it would look like that.

Anyhoo, Dunn's River Falls. We hiked down to the beach, and from there we went UP. Yep, we got to climb a waterfall! It was so beautiful, but a little more strenuous than we were led to believe! We were fine, although it was a challenge for me in some spots (when you're not quite 5 feet tall, some of the rocks made for a stretch on my part), but there were some younger kids and some older folks that struggled a bit. It was a neat thing to do, and all the people who said it was a must-see in Jamaica were right.

We also met a nice couple on our Jamaica excursion, Kirin (spelling?) and Francesca from Gibraltar. (I know very little about Gibraltar. Note to myself: read more about it.)

Writing about Jamaica made me decide to make Jerk Chicken tonight. As they say down there, "No problem!"



Sunday, July 15, 2007


More about vacation stuff later (probably our visit to Jamaica...yeh mon!), but a quick comment about a conversation with my buddy Greg at work today.

A few of my coworkers have Myspace accounts, and when I visit their pages, it's usually some pictures (which are nice) and a little about themselves (also nice). I'm not a Myspace user, but I noticed that there is the ability to write a blog...but none of them are writing! I asked Greg about it, and wondered if he was going to write anything. He said probably not, that he's not sure he could write anything interesting to anyone other than himself (or words to that effect). Well, that's never stopped ME! I don't know if anyone finds this interesting or not (although I was certainly happy to find a comment from a user name I don't recognize in my post about Haiti), but it's just fun for me to do. I've always liked to write, whether in a journal or in lengthy letters, and this is the next logical step.

I guess Myspace has a different seems to be a little more about networking and making friends (or as Greg told me today, making friends, know what I mean, nudge nudge wink wink). Not that everyone on Myspace is doing that!

I'm just hanging out here, writing a bit about things I find interesting. It's fun for me, and I like putting up pictures of our place, our critters, and other neat stuff. It's a bonus when someone reads it and likes it, and maybe even comments on it. Thanks for reading, whoever you are!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I had mixed emotions about Haiti. First of all, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Haiti means "Land of Mountains," and it is surprisingly mountainous. I didn't realize an island could be that craggy. Royal Caribbean has a private beach on Haiti called Labadee. It is fenced off from the rest of the country, it is patrolled, and they advise passengers to not venture out of Labadee. Apparently Haiti is a rather dangerous place to be in these days.

The morning of our day there, we took a walking tour of the beach area. Our guide was Lamy, and he told us a little of the history of the island, as well as a bit about current conditions. Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Many families live on maybe $5 US per month. Lamy was paid $600 by RC last year, along with a $400 bonus, and he is considered a VIP in his family. He is paying for his brothers' secondary education (the equivalent of our high school), and he said that everyone is happy when the cruise ship comes in. It almost made me cry. We tried to impress upon the kids how fortunate we are here...they said something about the "cost of living," but we said you can't use that as a comparison. For example, the cost of living in the Midwest is considerably less than on the East or West coasts. Most of the population of Haiti lives in abject poverty, so it's not just a matter of "cost of living."

Lamy realized that much of the problem has to do with corruption and politics--he said there are currently about 30 political parties in Haiti. He also spoke with pride of his country, about how it was the first black republic, how the slaves won their freedom by overthrowing their owners, and that Haiti is called the Mother of Freedom in the Caribbean. It was all fascinating, but a little heartbreaking. I hope and pray that one day a visionary will rise in Haiti and lead them to a better life. It's a beautiful place, and they deserve better than dictators like Duvalier. Lamy was a neat guy--perhaps we'll read about him one day as Haiti's new hope!

Here is one of my favorite pictures from the cruise, taken on the beach in Haiti. I think this says it all about relaxation: lounge chairs under the trees, tropical drinks (ours were loaded, the kids' were not, of course!), and white sand. Ahhhhhh....


Thursday, July 12, 2007


I've finished writing in our travel journal (explanation in a moment), so now I can start to edit some pictures. So far I've managed to load a total of five pictures onto the computer. Obviously, I don't have much ambition for anything at the moment, I'm just trying to get through the week! It'll get better, but I'm just keepin' a Jamaican frame of mind and going with the flow.

I have a picture for you. This was at Grand Cayman, where we checked out Stingray City. It was pretty cool--they take you out to a sandbar where you stand about waistdeep in water (a little higher on me), and I liked that. Have I mentioned that I can't swim? Anyhoo, we get out there, and all these stingrays come swarming around us. It's quite startling at first (one lady completely freaked out), but also kind of cool. They're very gentle creatures, and they bump into your legs and back, rub up against your legs, and want to be petted. I told Ken, "They're like big flat housecats!" Their backs are kind of rough, like mild sandpaper, but their bellies are silky-soft. The captain of the boat took out a bucket of squid so we could feed the rays. You hold a piece of squid in your fist, keep it kind of low in the water, and the rays come up and suck it out of your hand (their mouths are on their underside). It was like a vacuum cleaner with lips! I was laughing so hard, because it was just such a neat experience, and they really are the coolest creatures. I think we all loved this particular excursion, and it was one of our favorites.

You can see how huge they are--this one spans all four of us!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention our travel journal. When we first got married, we were visiting Ken's Mom and stepdad in Missouri. She was talking about some of the experiences they've had over the years, and she said she wishes they had kept a journal, because it would be so much fun to go back and read about their various escapades. That sort of struck both of us, and we decided to start the travel journal. Every trip we take, I try to jot down a few things on the trip, and then I make my entry when we get home. This particular trip took about 14 pages, and resulted in some serious hand cramps, but I did it over a few days, and now it's done! Why don't I do it on the computer? I've thought about it...but there's something special about writing it down in a nice hardbound journal. It's become kind of a ritual, and it really IS fun to go back and read about a trip we took 5 years ago!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Back to life, back to reality

I'll write more soon, and get busy with editing and posting some pictures, but for now, let me just say that I loves me cruise, mon!