Thursday, July 31, 2008


My alarm went off at 4:45 AM.

Good God.

Who invented this ungodly hour? I'd like to hunt them down and beat them about the calves and ankles until they cry like a little girl.

How did I ever manage to get up around this time for TEN YEARS?

I find it strange that if I stay up this late, it doesn't feel quite so bad. But going to bed for a few hours and then getting up is horrid.

My eyeballs hurt, and my brain isn't feeling so hot, either. See ya in Cali.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An international celebrity? Well, YEAH!

Warning: Political views ahead. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
Senator McCain has released a new ad in which he attempts to portray Senator Obama as an "international celebrity." This is based on what seemed to be a fairly warm international reception during Obama's recent trip to the Middle East and to Europe.
I'm sorry...but last I knew, the American president pretty much IS an international celebrity. I mean, they are usually fairly recognizable, being the leader of the "free world" and all, and they tend to get a lot of press--pictures, videos, news stories, magazine articles, what have you. People kind of know who they are, right? Another clue might be the phalanx of Secret Service agents that surround the President, along with the accompanying journalists and photographers.
The American president isn't almost famous, they have one of the most recognizable faces in the world. I guess that's a form of celebrity, and why is that some kind of issue? To ridicule Obama for drawing large crowds overseas while on a trip that McCain repeatedly needled Obama about not taking before smacks of desperation and negativity to me. It also tells me that Senator McCain doesn't understand that the rest of the world is watching us. I know that things need to improve at home and that a lot of people are hurting. Part of that hinges upon the good will of the world, and upon our working with other countries in a diplomatic and mutually agreeable manner. Sledgehammer tactics are not working and will not work in the future.
To top it all off, the McCain ad portraying Obama as an "international celebrity" has shots of none other than Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
You've gotta be kidding me.
To even attempt to equate a United States Senator, a graduate of Columbia and Harvard and someone who has worked his entire life to get to this important point, with the vapid celebrity culture that idolizes a hotel heiress and an untalented pop tart is patently ridiculous. You're better than that and you are more honorable, John McCain, so stop the crap. Shame on you.

"When you make that California trip..."

[snapping fingers] "...get your kicks on Route 66."
We won't be traveling any of Route 66 on this trip, I don't believe. There's not much left of the actual road in California, although there are a couple of roads that display a marker saying that they follow the original route.
I've just been doing some odds and ends today getting ready for our trip tomorrow. I think I've gathered everything together--oh yeah! I just remembered to take the USB cord for my camera! Thanks for reminding me, everyone! Anyhoo, I've got things together, and now it's just a matter of Ken (the Master Packer) cramming it all into our suitcases. I don't think I'm over-packing on this one. We don't have any really nice dinners planned, so that really cuts down on all the accoutrements. A pair of Keds, a pair of sandals, bada bing bada boom, that's it for shoes!
I checked the weather for all the places we're going, and I think I've packed appropriately. If I recall my California weather and the effect of the state's geography, I've got a good balance. I believe that if you're on the east side of the mountains, that's where it gets pretty blazing hot, and that's where Cousin Ros lives. It's supposed to be in the mid-90's all week. (I don't think they have the humidity that we have here, though.) In central California, where Kim and Steve live, they're to the west of the mountains, and the weather there will be around 70° during the day. What a difference a few mountains can make! Kim told me that a while back, they had a really hot spell, which is rough because they don't have air conditioning--they never need it! I never thought about it, but their temperatures never really get all that hot. Finally, San Diego has the usual crappy weather--around 72° during the day, 68° at night, sunny, blah blah blah. How do those folks put up with such horrid conditions?! We should have a telethon to raise money and awareness of their plight!
I sure haven't felt very motivated today. I'm getting done what I need to get done, but jeez, I feel lackadaisical. Maybe because it's really hot and muggy. I called Mom and Dad this morning and they wished us a safe and fun trip. I brought up the larger hummingbird feeder from the basement, and got some nectar made for that. If these hummingbirds manage to go through 4 cups of nectar while we're gone, they have no one but themselves to blame! Cousin Shane will be doing Critter Detail while we're gone (as always, thanks Shane!), and Sheeba is always happy when Uncle Shane takes care of him--he gets lots of lovins!
I think our flight leaves at something like 7 AM tomorrow. Argh. I wonder what time I'll need to set the alarm for? I'm really not looking forward to that. But when we leave in the morning like this, I'm usually pretty jazzed and ready to go. Then I can conk out on the plane. Unless they have a good movie. If I'm just reading, I almost always conk out.
Oh, I was looking for our next book club book, Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell, today. It's one that I already have, and read a few years ago (I remember enjoying it a lot). I swear, I spent 15 minutes looking for that thing! I knew I had it, but I was starting to wonder if I'd loaned it to someone and never gotten it back. After going through five bookcases--TWICE--I finally saw it laying on top of another book. If it had been a snake, it would have bitten me on the nose!
Perhaps more later during Game Three of the Cubs/Brewers series! Hope you're all stayin' cool! It's the only way to roll.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If you believe they put a man on the moon

We have a few Rose of Sharon bushes in our yard. (I don't know the technical name, but it's some kind of hibiscus that grows well here.) There are a couple out in front, by the front deck, and one is just bursting with buds--and they're starting to open now. The flowers on this one are a beautiful light purple color, and the hummingbirds love it. They check out each flower and get a little nectar, then they fly up to the feeder hanging nearby. It's fun to watch them at flowers rather than just at the feeders. The Rose of Sharon hasn't completely blossomed yet, but here are a few pictures.
And here's my favorite, so I'm making this one bigger:
Oh, I just love that. Look at the red pigment in the middle, the star-burst pattern...WOW! Nature ROCKS! I might have to play with that picture a little bit and see what kind of cool effects I can get.
A quiet day, just doing an errand here, a chore there. I started getting out clothes to take to California--hard to believe we're leaving in two days! We're taking the laptop, and I think most places we're at we should be able to get connected with no problem, so I hope to write a bit from "the road" and post a picture or two. Oh, and Ken found a great price on a car rental--a convertible! Fun! I have to admit, though, that I'm not looking forward to some of that L.A. area traffic. Ugh. If I had to deal with that every day, I would go absolutely mad. Mad, I tell you!
Anyhoo, it was good to get a handle on what I want to take. Note to self: Ask Ken if I need to take anything somewhat dressy. I didn't pull out anything like that yet, and I don't see us going to any place that would require such attire, but maybe I should take a casual dress just in case. Most of our time will be spent just hanging out with friends and family, so it should be a nice, relaxing trip.
Except for when we're stuck in the traffic gridlock. Have I said "UGH" yet? Oh yeah, I have. I suspect that seeing the gridlock will have a new impact on me, considering the price of gasoline. Whenever we've been in such traffic, I've already been appalled, and I think it will be magnified now. We have GOT to rethink things in this country. I think I'll call it the Man on the Moon strategy. Just like President Kennedy calling for a man on the moon within the decade--and NASA, using some of the best and most brilliant scientists in the country, got it done--I want to see President Obama (yeah, I said it) put out the challenge for an alternative to petroleum-based fuel that is practical and affordable and available to everyone.
Why not? I'm sure that in 1961, when JFK said he wanted a man on the moon, plenty of people called him crazy, and said that it could never happen.
Well, it DID happen, didn't it? (For those of you that happen to be in that select group that believes that the lunar landing was a hoax, probably don't really need to read this journal any longer. Feel free to move along.) My greatest wish for our country is that we get back to our feeling of we can do anything if we work hard enough, rather than the fatalistic and defeatist attitude that so many seem to have lately. We have incredible talent, soaring intellect, brilliant minds, the capacity for dreaming the wildest dreams...and making them become reality. I'm tired of hearing people say, "That's just crazy talk," or "That can't be done," or "No one has ever done anything like that before." My question is, "So what? Why can't it be done?"
As someone who was trained as a scientist, I've seen the amazing advances in health care and science in general over the years. Just the technology in my own job, as a microbiologist, changed vastly over the space of a mere 20 years. Three words: polymerase chain reaction. It is astounding technology.
So not only can we do this...we MUST.

Heavens to Murgatroid!

Mercy me, what excitement!
On my way back from the store, I heard a siren behind me, and saw a sheriff's car coming up fast behind me. I wasn't speeding (well...not a lot), so I was pretty sure it wasn't me. I pulled over and he raced by. A couple of minutes later, I heard another siren and it was a fire truck. I knew I wasn't on fire, so this time I was sure it wasn't me! They raced by, too, and of course, there's always a moment when you wonder if they're going to your house. They didn't turn on our road (whew!), but I sure wonder what happened and where, and hope no one was hurt.
Gets pretty wild around these parts, eh? Sheriff cars and fire trucks! That's about all the excitement I can handle today.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mrs. Marston's Mystery

Please see Sheria's entry for the full story behind this, and feel free to join in! And Marc and Sheria, be careful what you wish for....


The Introduction--by Marc

All eyes were on the Contesse de Vermeil when her former lover, le Baron de Genolhac, arrived at the ball with Mrs. Owen Marston, the widow from the United States known simply as"l'Americaine" ever since she'd taken rooms at the Georges V less than a month ago and rapidly insinuated her way into every lesser salon and drawing room in the 16th arrondissement.  Emma Marston's late husband's fortune had been made supplying the Union Army with uniforms during the American Civil War 20 years earlier, which he made with Southern cotton smuggled through the blockade and repurchased from the warehouses of the Baron.  It was an exquisite arrangement that meant the Baron had been hosted numerous times over the years in Marston's townhouse on lower Fifth Avenue.  When a taste for rich food and a surfeit of cigars eventually felled Owen Marston with an attack of apoplexy as he walked up the stairs of his favorite Chambers Street bordello, what could the Baron do but introduce his dear and now considerably wealthy widowed friend to the lights of Paris?


Mrs. Marston continued to technically acknowledge the convention of mourning by wearing black, even as its positively festive style indicated the true spirit of its wearer. She had married at 19, when her husband was 47, having been governess to his children after the death of his first wife.  She was now past 30--how far was a matter of some  debate--but they had rather less of an idea in Paris than in New York.  Only the Baron knew that her origins were rather more humble than the vaguely Bostonian Brahmin biography floated when necessary at dinner parties.  In America, money could buy anything, including a past.


Emma timed her entrance into French society well, as the advent of the Second Empire was creating all sorts of opportunity for reinvention. Money talked rather fluently in France as well as it did transatlantically, but while it could get you in the door, it would not necessarily grant you a second invitation. Unlike their British counterparts, the doyennes of French society considered less the social class to which you were born than the breeding which you exhibited.  Style, wit, the ability to make interesting observations about the events of the day--this is what mattered most.  At least to the Contesse.


She had no idea that she was about to meet her match in Emma Marston.

The First Skirmish --by Sheria
Two months of preparations had preceded the Contesse's ball, "la danse des étoiles printanières." For nearly ten years, it had provided the start of the spring season of endless balls, intended to introduce the young women of society to young men, if they were lucky, and to gentlemen old enough to be their grandfathers, if they were not. No one used the cumbersome long title any more, and simply referred to it as "les étoiles," or the stars. It was the Contesse's jewel, her shining achievement that secured her place in the bosom of French Society, and as she stared at the woman swathed in black silk whose hand so delicately rested on the Baron's arm, she was not at all pleased.
As the pair crossed the room, moving towards her, the Contesse raised her delicate lace fan, a gift from an admirer, and languidly waved it across her slightly flushed cheeks.
"Good evening, Contesse. You look lovely, as always."
"Thank you, Baron. It's a pleasure to see you here."
The Contesse's words hung in the air, polite but yet somehow suggesting that the pleasure did not extend to the Baron's companion.
"May I present Mrs. Emma Marston, from America. Mrs. Marston, this is our hostess for the evening, the Contesse de Vermeil."
As the Baron made the introductions, both women acknowledged the other with a slight nod of their well coiffed heads.
The Contesse spoke first, "Welcome, Mrs. Emma Marston, I hope that you will enjoy our little party."
"I'm already having a delightful time, Contesse. The Baron is proving to be a most thoughtful host."
"Ah yes, I had planned to return home after my month at the Georges, but the Baron graciously invited me to continue to recuperate from my sorrow as his house guest for the summer. Do you know his summer place? It's just outside of the city and it is, how do you say it, magnifique? Your language is so beautiful."
Adjusting his ascot, the Baron coughed delicately and took Mrs. Marston by her arm. She lifted her heart shaped face to meet his gaze and for a moment he was lost in the dark pools of her eyes. She dropped her lashes and turned back to the Contesse.
"I feel a bit warm. You must tell me where you purchased such a lovely fan, Contesse. While in Paris, I must do as the Parisians do. Baron, could we go out on the veranda and walk in the cool night air? It was a pleasure , Contesse."
To all the watching eyes, the Contesse appeared unperturbed and her guests' disappointment was almost palpable. There had been no fireworks between the Contesse and the American widow, leaving the pursuit of sixteen-year-old Mademoiselle Adele St. Coeur by the Marquis de Tuilleries, 40 years her senior, the only entertainment of the evening.
Bidding her guests a momentary adieu, the Contesse retired to her private salon, closing the door behind her. From a darkened corner, a young man moved into her line of sight. He was tall and handsome, in a coltish sort of way, as if he might break into a canter at a moment's notice. The Contesse spoke quietly.
"How was your journey?"
"It was an excellent passage, Contesse, calm seas all the way from America."
"Good, now tell me all about your stepmother, the widow Marston."
Mrs. Marston's Ambiguous American Life
~by Beth
"Please, do not judge my stepmother, Madame de Vermeil."
The Contesse arched an eyebrow and wordlessly bade young Evan Marston continue.
"She was forced by circumstances to wed my father, a tyrant of the worst sort."
"I've met your late father. I never thought him a tyrant."
"Then you didn't know him at all. Or did you?"
The Contesse did not answer.
Evan chose to not press her lack of response, and began to tell the Contesse what he knew of his stepmother's life before she met his father. His father told him very little of the young Emma's life, but after his father's death, Evan was forced to question the much younger woman's background. At a mere 32 years of age--or so she claimed--and never previously married, Emma was an enigma, and as the sole inheritor of his father's estate, Evan felt it prudent to investigate. The strange circumstances of his father's marriage to Emma, and the full estate left to her upon his father's deathmade Evan very suspicious indeed. His father's sudden death, despite his degenerate proclivities, also concerned him.
"I discovered that she was born in New Orleans,"Evan told the Contesse. "The woman is Creole. Her parents came to Hispaniola from France, and she was born in New Orleans after her parents relocated in that city. Although I can't prove it, I have come to believe that her parents were involved in the uprising in Hispaniola."
"But how did your father come to meet this woman?"
"He spent time in New Orleans prior to the war, dealing with cotton merchants, and after the war began and the Union took control of New Orleans, he made deals with the just and the unjust alike. My father wanted nothing more than to accumulate a fortune. I don't know the full circumstances of his meeting my stepmother, but I do know that he met her there."
"I don't understand," said the Contesse. "Exactly who is this woman?"
"I don't know her entire background," replied Evan, "but I've discovered that my father first encountered her on Rue Bourbon."

A morality car wash


Running a casino is like robbing a bank with no cops around. For guys like me, Las Vegas washes away your sins. It's like a morality car wash.

                                           ~~Sam "Ace" Rothstein

I finished my Words from the Myths book, and have moved on to my American Mafia book. While the book only goes up to the 1950's, last night's viewing pleasure was "Casino," the 1995 Martin Scorsese film set in Las Vegas in the 70's.
I'd forgotten what a fun movie this is! Well, I suppose "fun" might not be the appropriate word, because it's one of Scorsese's more violent films, but it's a fun one to watch.
I won't go into plot details, because it gets fairly convoluted, with the Family in Kansas City skimming some of the action in Vegas, Nicky Santoro (Joe Pesci) sent out to help his old friend Ace Rothstein (Robert De Niro), who is a master at picking winners in sporting events, various players trying to get their own little piece of the action...fairly typical stuff, just a little too much to go into.
While I had no idea that "Goodfellas" was based on a true story and real people, this one I knew about. After going to Vegas the first time, I was very interested in the history of the place and picked up a few books about it. So as a very amateur Vegas historian, I had already read about Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal and Anthony "Tony the Ant" Spilotro. (The De Niro and Pesci characters, respectively.) It chronicles the story of Rosenthal'sriseto  fame and glory in 70's Vegas, and how everything eventually falls apart. It's a tale of good times, living the high life, and how illegal activity including drugs and murder will eventually catch up to you. I'll write a bit about the real people first.
Rosenthal was apparently a pretty decent guy as far as mobsters go, but the "enforcer" was Spilotro. When things began to get out of hand and the government started closing in, the Chicago (where Rosenthal and Spilotro were based) Family had had enough, and had Tony the Ant and his brother taken out. (And talk about close to home...their bodies were found in a cornfield in Enos, Indiana, maybe an hour and a half from here.) Rosenthal's downturn was based on several factors shown in the movie, including his wife, the former prostitute and hustler, Ginger (played by Sharon Stone).
Rothstein runs the fictitious Tangiers Casino in the movie, but in real life, Rosenthal ran the Stardust, the Fremont, and the Hacienda. (Of the three, only the Fremont survives, in downtown Vegas.) Rothstein is depicted as having a TV talk show live from the Tangiers, and Rosenthal really did the same thing: "The Frank Rosenthal Show." You can't make this kind of stuff up, folks! While Tony the Ant met an untimely and gruesome demise, Rosenthal is alive and well. He may have been "black booked" from Vegas casinos, but he's living in Miami Beach and running a website where he makes sporting events picks.
As for the movie, De Niro gives another great performance (does he ever NOT?). He comes across as a not-so-bad guy, and it's obvious that at first he is smitten with Ginger and very much in love with her. (I remember my acquaintance who had a minor role in the movie saying that De Niro is a very nice guy, surprisingly shy, and great to work with. I just thought that was kind of interesting, especially the shy part. Who would guess?) Ginger doesn't reciprocate the feeling--once a hustler, always a hustler. She's in it for the money, and remains in love with her pimp boyfriend, Lester (James Woods does a great job as the sleazeball). I'm not a fan of Sharon Stone, but her portrayal of the gold-digging Ginger, who rips off Ace and becomes increasingly dependent on drugs and alcohol is dead-on, and won her an Oscar nomination. And Joe Pesci plays another psychopath in Nicky, a role that he plays so well. (A couple of scenes to watch for: the pen scene, and the vise scene.) If I were him, I'd start to wonder how I can play a nutjob with such accuracy!
There are some great appearances by a few Las Vegas legends, including Don Rickles and Alan King.
"Casino" was filmed at the Riviera, which was built in 1955 and is still operating on the Vegas Strip.
Rothstein's lawyer in the film is played by Oscar Goodman, a real life lawyer in Vegas, and their current mayor.
"Lefty" Rosenthal got his name because in court once, he pleaded the Fifth over 30 times, including to the question of if he was left-handed. Tony "the Ant" got his name because some law enforcement official called him "that little pissant." Find out your Mafia nickname here (warning: you'll encounter the F-word). Mine is Beth "Extra Arm" R.
"Casino"--the Vegas that was, baby, and a fun three hours!
At the end of the movie, Ace Rothstein says, "The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today,it's all  gone. You get a whale [a high roller] show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds. But in the end, I wound up right back where I started. I could still pick winners, and I could still make money for all kinds of people back home. And why mess up a good thing?"

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Shark becomes a Cub

Not only did the Cubs win today, and not only did Jeff Samardzija get his first major league save...the big buzz is that he did so well that the first question asked of Cubs manager Lou Piniella at the post-game press conference was about Samardzija. Piniella couldn't have been more complimentary, saying that Jeff was "poised" and that his performance was "impressive." He went on to say that they've been looking for another good arm in the bullpen, and that he thinks they just found it. He attributed Jeff's poise to playing at Notre Dame and being so much in the spotlight here, with all the accompanying scrutiny.
Looks like our "little" man is now a Cub. (He's 6'5", by the way.) We're so proud! <sniff>
From what I heard, he's going to be sticking around in the majors for a while. His pitching performance was good enough that he caught the notice of Piniella AND the press. I'm just so pleased for him, because he's had to deal with so many questions about whether or not he made the right decision in going into baseball rather than going into the NFL draft. I think he can probably stop worrying about those questions now.
I just might have to break out my #83 Samardzija jersey soon! Yeah...I've got a jersey. So what?
I know this probably seems a little nuts to anyone who doesn't follow college sports, but Notre Dame really is a big deal in our town. Every home football game brings in about $6 million dollars per weekend to our community in hotel and restaurant charges. But it's more than that...not everyone here is a Notre Dame fan, but a lot of people are, and it's a sense of community and a coming-together of sports fans. It really is a VERY big deal, with much discussion among coworkers and families about the games. It's so bad that if someone in the family plans a wedding or party on a game day, we all get kind of pissed off, and people surreptitiously find ways to check the score.
When planning our wedding (NOT on a game day, by the way--we had it on a Sunday), we met up with one of my friends from college, Barb. She said she'd do our wedding photos, and she did a wonderful job! We met at Parisi's, which is probably the best Italian restaurant in town, and right across from the Notre Dame campus. While we were there, a bunch of Notre Dame football players came in for dinner, and I'm not kidding...we all stood up and applauded them as they came in. Yeah...kind of a big deal.
So seeing Jeff Samardzija--my favorite player in the past few years--do well and get such great press in his first save just does my heart good. Looks like he's a fan favorite, too, and it just tickles me that he's enjoying some real popularity in Chicago, much like his fellow Irish player, quarterback Brady Quinn, is enjoying in Cleveland. I suspect these guys are having a pretty good time.
With this come-from-behind win, and with the Brewers' loss today, the Cubs are one game up on the Brewers as they head into a 4-game showdown. This is getting good, and we'll be watching this week!


By the way, I would be remiss if I neglected to point out that my pal Ellen rightly told me that "Goodfellas" was an incredible movie. Thanks, Ellen! (Has my debt been repaid?)


I amuse you? I make you laugh?

After awhile, it got to be all normal. None of it seemed like crime. It was more like Henry was enterprising, and that he and the guys were making a few bucks hustling, while all the other guys were sitting on their asses, waiting for handouts. Our husbands weren't brain surgeons, they were blue-collar guys. The only way they could make extra money, real extra money, was to go out and cut a few corners.

                                                                 ~~Karen Hill


Thought I'd do a little commentary on "Goodfellas." No real spoilers here.

First off, I loved the movie. However, I have to say that the Godfather movies are still my favorite Mob movies. I just loved the whole "family" concept, the traditions, that sort of thing. While there's some of that in this movie, these guys are not a part of the Sicilian family, and with the Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro characters both being half-Irish, they can never be "made," or become part of the family.

There was still plenty of intrigue, though! Alliances and partnerships forged and shattered (sha-doobie), mistresses (or goomars--I've learned a few things from "The Sopranos"), drugs, guns, and living the high life of a big-time gangster.

In fact, Karen Hill (quoted above), the main character's wife, is echoed years later in Carmela Soprano. In some ways, they despise what their husbands do (and there's no playing dumb--they know exactly what is going on), but that feeling is trumped by the fact that they love the rewards that it brings them: power, jewels, beautiful homes, and a certain cachet within the"family." Karen puts up with Henry's infidelities, drug use, and illegal activities, just as Carmela puts up with Tony's (except Tony didn't get into drugs).

Okay, just a short spoiler here.

Drugs end up being Henry's downfall, as he gets deeper and deeper into them, making mistakes and taking chances. As things continue to spiral downwards, he believes (rightly) that his colleagues are planning to whack him, and chooses to testify against them and enter the Witness Protection Program. As a result of his testimony, the De Niro and Paul Sorvino characters go to prison, and Henry and Karen are shipped off to live the lives of, in his words, " average nobody... get to live the rest of my life like a schnook." And the Joe Pesci character, Tommy, ends up paying for his psychotic behavior.

End of spoilers

What a great bunch of characters and incredible acting. I thought Ray Liotta was great as Henry Hill and Lorraine Bracco was perfect as his wife Karen, Paul Sorvino was appropriately menacing and low-key, and De Niro is...well, he's Robert De Niro. Don't need to say much more than that! But for me, the read standout was the crazy little Joe Pesci as the volatile and unpredictable Tommy DeVito. The guy is just nuts, and nobody does it better. I'm looking forward to watching him play another crazy in yet another Mob movie: "Casino." (I've seen that one, but it's been a while. A little bit of Beth trivia: someone I knew in my "previous life," i.e., before I met Ken, has a minor role in that movie.)

The closing scenes intrigued me, because they made it sound like these were real people. I Googled "Henry Hill," and I found out that this is based on a real person and a true story! I really did not know that. It's based on the book Wise Guy by Nicholas Pileggi, who also wrote the screenplay. (Yet another book to add to my list.) The names of most of the characters have been changed, although they're based on actual people, but Henry and Karen Hill are real people. And even MORE intriguing is that after he was booted from the Witness Protection Program for continued drug usage, he is now doing aradio  show and selling his artwork on eBay.  

Only in America.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lawn mowing, revisited

Police say man shot lawn mower that wouldn't start

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 56-year-old Milwaukee man is accused of shooting his lawn mower because it wouldn't start.
Keith Walendowski has been charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed.
According to the criminal complaint, Walendowski says he was angry because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start Wednesday morning. He told police: "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want."
A woman who lives at Walendowski's house reported the incident. She says he was intoxicated. Walendowski could face up to an $11,000 fine and six years and three months in prison if convicted.
A call to Walendowski's home went unanswered Friday.
Do you suppose he's related to this guy? (And no, this isn't a picture of the real guy, but I was certainly surprised to find this! By the socks and a bowler hat! DB, that was for you!)
The woman who lives with the lawn mower shooting guy says that he was intoxicated. Gee, do you think?
What prompts people, when intoxicated, to either want to get publicly naked or want to shoot things? Sometimes they do both. I've imbibed my share, but I've never considered either option as appropriate or viable.
And what do these guys have against lawn mowers, anyway?

Watching the world go by

What a lovely afternoon, and a great time with my parents!
It was so nice and sunny that we put the top down on Blacky. It's strange how I don't seem to care lately what it does to my hair! I had it up in a twist, so it blew around a little bit, but no big deal. It just felt great to be out on a beautiful sunny day, and to look around me and enjoy the countryside.
Northern Indiana is a lot of what you see to the left: wide open farm fields (this was soybeans). There are a lot of wooded areas, too, like you see at the back of this field. The sky was a gorgeous blue, and the clouds were few, but fluffy. A day like this makes me appreciate where I live all the more.
I suppose that if I traveled a lot, I'd get tired of seeing things like this, but in the 45 minute drive to my folks' house, I thoroughly enjoyed looking around me. There are some different terrains that we pass through, including wooded areas and swampy areas (technical term wetlands, I guess!). I like seeing the flowers that people have around their houses, and it's interesting to see some of the old farm houses and barns.
It was a great visit with Mom and Dad, as always. Mom fed us lunch first thing--her and Dad had already eaten. She said, "We just got hungry!" Ha ha! She made a big pot of green beans with new potatoes, she fried us up a little smoked sausage, and she'd made deviled eggs and marinated cucumbers and onions. Yum! Thanks, Mom! We got caught up on things while we ate, and then we went outside and walked around the yard a little bit.
This is the fence that used to be in front of our house, and now it's at the back of Mom and Dad's! It looks so nice! The day after we brought it down, they got out and got started on it. They figured they'd do a couple of sections a day, and next thing they knew, it was 2 or 3 o'clock, and they had the whole darn thing up!
Mom put in some different kinds of flowers, and she's trying to get really hardy ones. As you can see, their soil is very sandy, and this gets direct sun all the time, so she needs some tough ones. She just put these in this year, so they'll get lusher in the coming years.
I like the wagon wheel leaning up against the fence--neat! I'm so pleased that they could use this, and they seem so happy with it. It really does look great!
Their property goes back a ways behind the fence (they've got 16 acres), but they don't consider that "the yard." It's got brushy growth, and Dad mows that only occasionally. The rest of their property is wooded (they call their place Still Oaks).
On the driveway side of the house, they have a bunch more flowers planted, including purple coneflowers. When we first pulled up in the driveway and got out of the car, I said, "Look at the butterflies!" These guys were on those coneflowers like milk on cereal.
I watched them for a little while, and you could see their little proboscis uncurl and go down into the flower. They'd poke around and get some of the nectar.
I don't know what kind of butterflies these are, but they seemed like friendly, cheery little guys!
I swear, I bet I took half a dozen pictures trying to get one with his wings at least partway open! Every time he'd start to open his wings, I'd snap the picture, and he'd already have them back together! At least this one is partially open!
This is the lily that Ken and I got for Mom for Mother's Day two years ago. She planted it outside, and the crazy thing is about four feet tall, and while there was only one blossom today, there are four or five others getting ready to pop. I think this might be a stargazer lily, but I'm not really up on my lilies. I thought it was so pretty!
I love giving Mom plants for presents. She has such a green thumb, and enjoys them so much. We gave her this two years ago, and it's thriving! Both her and Dad love this lily, so it's a gift that keeps on giving!
After lunch, we sat on the porch in the rocking chairs, and just chatted. World problems, family issues, just fun stuff. Mom made us all Butterfinger blizzards for dessert, and it was one of those pleasant summer days that make life worth living. It was fairly warm, but sitting on the wide porch and feeling the breeze made it very comfortable.
Of course, we talked some politics. (I come by it naturally, believe me. Even when I was a kid, I remember family discussions about such things, and by the time I got to college, I was a part of the discussions.) We talked about Obama's trip overseas, and Mom said, "Honey, I think he's gonna be our next president." Remember, this is an older woman, a registered Republican, and while she may not agree with everything that he says, she likes him and seems to trust him. I think it's going to be a VERY interesting election.
As our day was winding down and Ken and I were talking about heading home, we all watched as a kid on a bike, followed by his parents on foot, came down the road and into the driveway. Mom and Dad were trying to figure out who it was. Mom said, "They're holding hands. They must be friends of ours." Ha ha! As they got closer, Mom said, "Oh, it's Josh!" Introductions were made all around, and I guess Josh is a fireman and phone repairman who lives down the road. They seemed like a nice young couple, and I told Ken later that I think it's so cool that here is this couple who are probably younger than we are, and they came walking down the road to visit with Mom and Dad. I wish you all could meet my folks--I think you'd understand. They're just neat people, and fun to be around!
Since we were already on our way, we said our good-byes and gave up our rocking chairs. Mom sent us off with some green beans and potatoes, as well as some fresh green beans for me to cook this week. As we were leaving, Josh, his wife, and their son were settling in, Mom was off to get them some cool drinks, and Round Two of visiting was commencing on the porch.
This kind of day reminds me of the episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" in which a Type A businessman has his car break down in Mayberry. He's in a hurry to get going, and very frustrated at the slow pace of everyone in the town, but as he calms down a bit (he ends up staying the night), he comes to realize that there's a lot to be said for slowing down, and starts to appreciate the simple joy that comes from sitting on the porch on a warm summer night.
I hope you all were able to do a little porchsitting of your own today.

Shark in the Show

Ken and I were really excited to see that one of our favorites, Jeff Samardzija, has been called up to the Majors!
Jeff is a fellow Hoosier, and he played both football and baseball for Notre Dame, graduating a couple of years ago. He was an excellent wide receiver, and still holds the Notre Dame record for total reception yards. Jeff (AKA "Shark") was good enough in both sports that he had a choice to make: NFL or MLB? He chose the latter, and was signed to the Cubs organization.
He's been playing farm ball, working his way up and learning the ropes, and a couple of days ago, got the call up. Woohooo! He came in as a relief pitcher, and while the Cubs lost the game, Shark gave a respectable performance. Including a sizzling 99 mph fastball.
Congratulations, Shark! I couldn't be happier for the guy, and apparently he's a real character. He's known for his long, curly hair, and when he arrived in Chicago, Lou Piniella's (the Cubs manager) first question of his staff was, "How's his hair?" Ha ha! Well, he cut it, so it's not shoulder-length anymore!
Could be interesting this week...the Cubbies are hanging on to a one game lead, and they're heading to [cue the dramatic music] Milwaukee, who is the team nipping at their heels. Yikes! I suspect a little trash talk might be flying around Nutwood, Bucko, and Slapinions! All in fun, as always.
Ken is off getting a haircut, then we'll be heading down to see my folks. Mom has some really nice flowers around their place, so maybe I can get some good flower pictures. They're also anxious for us to see their new fence, although it's not really new--it's the one we had out front! Reuse and recycle! It's a lovely day, and I foresee post-lunch porchsitting in our future. Mmm, rocking chairs....

Friday, July 25, 2008

Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!

"It is all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back."
                                                                        ~~Mick Jagger
Here's wishing a very happy birthday to Sir Michael Jagger, who was knighted by Prince Charles on December 12, 2003.
While his knighthood has nothing to do with his music, I find it amusing and fun that the bad boy of rock and roll is an official Knight of the British Empire!
I love Mick, and always have. The old question of "Beatles or Stones" was never in doubt for me, and the Stones have always been my favorite. I love the Beatles, make no mistake about it, but I find the Stones' music deeper, darker, and more complex.
While Mick might have a reputation as a stupid rock star, that couldn't be further from the truth. Although he dropped out of university to pursue a career in music, he originally studied accounting and finance. He must have picked up some business savvy during his university days, because he's one of the smartest businessmen in the rock world. In interviews, he shows himself to be witty, intelligent, and articulate...and quite a charmer.
Legend has it that Mick was attending a party at the Playboy mansion. After a night of revelry (we really don't need to know the details!), he went to get his coat from the coat check service. As he stood there waiting for his coat, he looked into the coat check area and saw one of his fellow guests from the party, Dennis Weaver. Dennis was talking with Hugh Hefner, and as Mick watched, he saw their conversation break out into an argument. All of a sudden, Hugh Hefner starts beating the crap out of Dennis Weaver--he's just wailin' on him!
Mick was appalled to see this, and as the fight got uglier, he shouted, "Hey! Hugh! Get off of McCloud!"
Hee heeeee!

Kitteh...BIG kitteh!

Yes, this is corny as all get out...I don't know how much truth there is to's designed to manipulate you and get you all teary-eyed and emotional....

And I think it's really neat. He's a big sweetie!

Oh, and welcome back, Indy! You've been missed!

Symbolic of what?

I have a small complaint.
It's nothing major, especially in the big scheme of things, but it IS an irritant. It is also one that isn't going to go away any time soon, no matter who I complain to or how many times I do it, so I'll just vent here and move along.
Why is it that there are symbols for everything now? There's no "on" or "off," there's no "lo" or "hi," it's all pictures of things. Sometimes I can't even tell what the picture is supposed to be..."Is that a face? A star? What does it MEAN?!" The one that ticks me off the most is my Krups egg cooker. It's a fine product, don't get me wrong, Eggs were on sale this week, so I bought another dozen. I cook the entire dozen, so Ken has a hard-boiled egg to take in his lunch a few times a week. If this egg cooker came with a manual, I've lost it, but I'm thinking that it just came with instructions of where to find the instructions online (if that makes any sense.) Here's the switch:
See those two little symbols? One means "cook" and the other means "keep warm." But which is which?
One the left, you have an egg in an egg cup. Is the egg supposed to be completely hard-boiled, ready to serve in the egg cup? Or is the egg cup indicating that this choice will cook your egg so that you can serve it up? On the right, you have what appear to be heat rays coming off of a surface. Does this mean that THIS is how I will heat my egg and cook it...or does it mean that once it's cooked using the egg in the egg cup choice, I will switch it here to zap it with heat waves to keep it warm until I'm ready to eat it?
I'm not kidding, every single time I pull out this egg cooker, I cannot remember which is which, and I have to go to the Krups website to see the instruction manual. I had finally had it today, and got out a Sharpie and underlined the appropriate symbol.
I rarely use my blender, but the Osterizer leaves nothing to the imagination: "mince," "blend," "puree," "frappé." Now if I only knew what "frappé" actually does....
I haven't finished my book yet, but I read a really good one today--one that is right up my alley! Hephaestus (he fest' us) was the Greek god of smiths, or blacksmiths, shown working at his forge. His Roman counterpart was the god of fire and forge, who worked in the depths of Mount Etna, the volcano found on Sicily. His Roman name was Vulcan, and in fact, that's where volcanoes get their name!
And here's where it gets really cool. Astronomers had noticed that the planet Mercury (the one closest to the sun) had a small unevenness in its orbit. The French astronomer, Urbain J. J. Leverrier, hypothesized that there was a planet even closer to the sun than Mercury, and this planet was what was causing the uneven orbit of Mercury. Since this would be the closest planet to the fiery heat of the sun, Leverrier proposed calling the new planet Vulcan. That's right...the planet Vulcan!!
Sadly, although astronomers searched for Vulcan for years, they were never able to find definitive evidence. In 1915, Albert Einstein proposed a theory that accounted for Mercury's orbit, and it was shown that there was no planet Vulcan.
But WE know better, don't we?
They were just looking in the wrong place! Five years after Asimov published this book, the original "Star Trek" series debuted, the planet Vulcan was immortalized, and it lives on over forty years later. It's only logical.
Live long and prosper, my friends.
P.S. Natalie, thanks for your comments, hon, but you might have me confused with another journal. I know there are a couple of Betty's out there, but I'm Beth. :)
P.P.S. The symbol for actually cooking the eggs is the one with the little heat waves. Which one did you pick?

Naming planets

I have a couple more for you!
The Greek god of war was Ares, and his Roman counterpart was Mars. When the fourth planet was named, they chose the name Mars because of the red tinge (as in blood) to the planet. Ares/Mars had two sons, Phobos (which means fear) and Deimos (terror), and when the two small satellites of Mars were found, they were given the names Phobos and Deimos. So in the skies, war is always accompanied by fear and terror. Gee, it's kind of that way here, too, isn't it?
Phobos survives today as the psychology term phobia, which means fear or terror of. We all have our own phobias! And Mars was such an important god that an entire month was devoted to him, which gives us the month of March.
Athena is the Greek goddess of knowledge, as well as the arts of war and peace. The main city she was in charge of was Athenai, what we call Athens. This was the most learned and powerful city in ancient Greece, and is still the capital of Greece. Any city that considers itself to be a center of knowledge will sometimes be referred to as an Athens. And of course, there's Athens, Georgia, birthplace of the B-52's and REM!
Another beautiful day, and I'm soon off to read outside. I should be able to finish this book today and get a few other bits of trivia for you. I guess what I find fun about this is how many things you find that hearken back to these various names. Even something as common as the month of March!
I talked to my Mom this morning, and we'll be going down there tomorrow afternoon for a visit. Always a nice time, and of course, Mom always feeds us! I'm glad it worked out that we got to see them, because in less than a week, we're off for (hopefully) sunny California! I really haven't even thought about what to take yet--mostly casual stuff, but I wonder if I should take a summery dress? Hm.
Hope you're all enjoying your day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A wedding in Sicily

They may not be in Vegas...but they're still around.
Corleone isn't just the name of the fictional family in the Godfather trilogy. It's a real town in Sicily, and recently the lovely setting for a Family wedding.
Godfather's Daughter Marries in Corleone


ROME (July 24) - When Don Corleone's daughter got married in the film "The Godfather," the guests kissed his hand and he dispensed favors because no Sicilian Mafia boss could refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day. But when the real thing took place in Corleone, the Sicilian hill town made famous by the movie, the Mafia's former "boss of bosses" Salvatore "Toto" Riina could only read about it in newspapers on Thursday from inside prison.

Lucia Riina, his 28-year-old daughter, was married on Wednesday and, in the absence of her father, given away by her brother Giuseppe. Besides her father, other members of Lucia's extended family also could not attend, including brother Gianni and uncle Leoluca Bagarella, who were also Mafia bosses and are also behind bars.

"Our thoughts go to those who could not be here," the groom, Vincenco Bellomo, told the guests, according to reports in Italian newspapers.

Giuseppe, who was freed from jail in February after serving time for Mafia crimes, also thanked their father, whose Mafia nickname was "the Beast" because of his ruthlessness. "You should be paying for the (media) rights," Giuseppe joked to reporters, according to La Repubblica newspaper.

The wedding, which took place in a church in Corleone, enticed the media but shocked Mafia victims. "Whoever marries them becomes an accomplice," Sonia Alfano, daughter of a Sicilian journalist killed by the Mafia, told La Repubblica. "The newlyweds never disassociated themselves from the barbarous mobsters, but instead thanked them."

Corleone Mayor Antonino Iannazzo was neutral, describing the couple as "two private citizens" who followed the rules to marry publicly and who should be respected.

Salvatore Riina's arrest in 1993 after nearly a quarter of a century on the run ended a violent reign which saw a clan war and challenge to authority dramatized by the murders in 1992 of anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Copyright 2008, Reuters


I tend to think that the Mob is not that big of a deal these days, but I think I'm probably wrong. I suspect there may be goings-on that those of us in the innocent, naive, and crime-free <snort> Midwest have no idea of, and that we would be shocked to hear of the details.

Actually, we do have our share of crime in the Midwest, and our friend Mark in Detroit would probably have plenty to say about that. We have a lot of gang activity in our area, and we've had a rash of recent murders in our small city. But all in all, we are relatively free from the constant, violent crime that plagues large cities. We certainly don't have Mob activity in our immediate area, as far as I know, but then I try not to actively work to find it.

It IS a little shocking to me to hear that the crime families are alive and well, still operating, and apparently still being sent to the Big House. Is it still the same things? Or are they looking to expand the business and branch out a little bit? Any good businessman diversifies. I think I've watched so many Mob movies lately that I've fictionalized the reality a bit, and think it's not real. I should know better--I've read enough about early Vegas, and Al Capone's Chicago, to know that it's quite real. A wedding in Corleone, the bride's father, brother, and uncle in prison, another brother just released...that's all pretty real.

I don't think I'll be putting any tags on this entry, either. Just in the interests of protection. For me and know, family.

It's only words

I've been going through my medical terminology workbook, and it's really kind of Dullsville for me. I mean, having trained and worked in the medical field for almost 30 years, I'm pretty familiar with most of these words and their meanings! They also don't give the Greek or Latin spelling or root, and that's what I'm interested in at the moment. I liked the challenge of relearning the Greek alphabet. (Maybe I need to get a Greek workbook...?) So instead, this afternoon I went back to an old friend, a book I first read in the second grade, Words from the Myths by Isaac Asimov. I recently recommended the book to Lori, who homeschools her daughter, after finding out that we have a mutual love of mythology.
This book fascinates me, because it lists many instances in which ancient words and names linger on in modern times, and believe me, there are many! Everything from the word "gas" to "uranium" to "titanic" to the Atlantic Ocean (both Atlas and Oceanus were Titans). The book is a dream-come-true for a philologist. <grin>
Considering that the Olympics are only about a week away, and that Ken and I are big fans of the competition, I found the history of the games especially interesting when I read about them again today.
The Greek gods and goddesses were believed to live on Mount Olympus, the tallest mountain in Greece, and were thus called Olympians. Zeus was the ruler of the gods, and every four years, games were held in his honor in southwestern Greece, at a place called Olympia Valley. Every four years was considered an "Olympiad."
These games were THE event in ancient Greece, and the winners of the games received much praise and glory. The first recorded games were held in 776 B.C., and continued for nearly 300 Olympiads before the Holy Roman Empire and its Emperor Theodosius viewed the games as a pagan festival, and stopped them in A.D. 394. (Spoilsport.)
The games were revived in 1896 as the Olympic Games, with the first modern version being held in the country of their birth, Greece. With brief interruptions during World War I and World War II, the Games have survived into modern times, continuing to honor--at least in name--Zeus and his fellow Olympian gods.
I love this stuff!
That's why I thought the Athens Olympics were so cool, because they used some of the same playing fields that were used in ancient Greece for the original Olympic games. How cool is that? I think the marathon ended in the original track field used way back then--can you imagine crossing that line in the stadium where athletes did the same almost 3000 years ago?! I wonder if they'll ever go back to how the Olympic games began, with its tradition of athletes competing in the nude? Of course, some of the uniforms today don't leave much to the imagination, do they? <wink>
To be serious for a moment, Ken and I are big fans of the Olympics, and are proud to support the American Olympic Team. While I love all kinds of sports (and you'll hear me talking about football a lot this fall, believe me), the Olympics are the purest form of athletics left in the world. They are a distillation of the best, the fastest, the strongest, from around the world, and I find it amazing to witness the athletes' competitive spirit and their pride in their country, no matter what that country might be. Let the Games begin! 
A couple more words for you, and then I'll be done with the "wordiness" (for now!). The Roman god of sleep was Somnus, and his name survives today in the words "somnolent," "somnambulism" (literally, in Latin, sleepwalking), "insomnia," and of course, the over-the-counter medication, Sominex. (Take Sominex tonight...and sleeeeep.) The son of Somnus was Morpheus, the god of dreams. The name Morpheus is rooted in the Greek word for shape, and dreams are shapes we see while we sleep. He gives his name to morphine, which brings sleep and relief from pain, and morphology, which is the study of the shape and structure of living things. And he has recently joined popular culture as the character Morpheus in "The Matrix."         
I'm only about a third of the way through the book, so there will be more. You have been warned.            

Lucky bamboo and a baby in a bucket

Yesterday I mentioned that I got a little stick of bamboo at the store, and when I got it home, I realized I didn't know how to grow it! Ziggy gave me the scoop on what to do with it--thanks, Ziggy!--but I had already found some stuff online, and most seemed to say to just grow it in water.
I had this crystal votive holder, so I got that cleaned up. Then I went out to the driveway and found some smooth, multi-colored rocks and cleaned those up. I anchored the bamboo in the rocks, added water, and voilà! We'll see how it does. I told Ken it looks like my stick turned green and sprouted a leaf!
A couple of cautions about "lucky bamboo," which is not really bamboo. It is a small shrub that grows as undergrowth in rain forests. Apparently it is poisonous to animals, so be sure to put it in a spot where they can't get it. (Mine is sitting on the baker's rack, which Sheeba doesn't get on.) Also, as Ziggy pointed out, this is not a native plant to the States (it's native to Cameroon), and is horribly invasive here. It should never be planted outside, and kept only as a houseplant.
It's supposed to be extremely easy to grow. Let's see how long it takes me to kill it!
I think I've mentioned our UPS guy before (probably a while ago), about what a nice guy he seems to be, and long-suffering when it comes to delivering our packages. It's actually gotten better for him, because we stopped our wine-of-the-month club shipments, so he's not delivering any huge, heavy packages anymore. Anyhoo, he seems to have gotten to know our cat fairly well. If I'm here, when I answer the door, Sheeba runs right over to check out the UPS guy, and to attempt an escape. Sheeba's perch also sits in front of one of the front windows, and if he's sitting there when you're out on the walkway, he'll sometimes jump at you. The UPS guy told me that the cat about scared him half to death one day, when he walked by the window and THUMP, Sheeba leaped at the window!
Well, yesterday, I was sitting here, and suddenly here came the UPS guy. Sheeba ran over to the window and just put his paws up on the sill to look out. The UPS guy didn't need a signature, so he left the package by the door and walked away before I could even get up and say thank you. As he walked by Sheeba, he kind of waved and tapped the screen to say hi to him! I thought that was so cute and sweet. I'm still smiling about it today. Sometimes it's just the littlest things that make me grin.
And guess what UPS guy delivered? My Amazon shipment--man, they're fast!--consisting of memory cards, and two DVD's: "Casino" and..."Goodfellas"! Woohooo! We started watching "Goodfellas" last night, but Ken started conking out, so we'll continue it soon (maybe tomorrow night). I'll write more about it when we're done with it, but WOW! We're loving it! What a nice surprise to see Lorraine Bracco who played Dr. Melfi in "The Sopranos." We also spotted Michael Imperioli, who played Tony's nephew Christopher--hard to miss that schnozz. And of course, Joe Pesci...oh my God. Does anyone play a crazy little bastard with a Napoleon complex better than Joe Pesci? "I'm funny like a clown? I'm here to amuse you?" Great stuff!
I don't know if anyone remembers a while back when I bought some storage bins, and I cracked up over the warning label on them. Here is the original entry, with the picture at the bottom of the entry.
I have another one that I saw on my bucket of EnchantaCat as I carried it downstairs.
This says to me either "Don't bathe the baby in this bucket," or "Do not allow the baby to drink from this bucket."
Baby looks like a budding ballerina, too, as she stands delicately en pointe.
It's amazing to me that companies have to put these kinds of warnings on products. Some are genuinely hilarious, and the little pictures just add to my amusement. I seem to recall Cousin Shane and I laughing over a warning that one of us saw in a hair dryer's user's manual: Do Not Use While Sleeping. Huh?
I suppose it's all part of the increasing litigiousness of the country. When a woman can successfully sue McDonald's because the dork spilled hot coffee on her crotch, I guess anything is possible! I'm a big fan of the "I found a finger/mouse/cockroach/rat head in my food!" bunch. They seem to get especially creative, devising some fairly ingenious schemes to make it appear as if said foreign object actually originated in their food. Too bad they don't apply some of that ingenuity to legitimate efforts, such as oh, I don't know, going to school, getting a job...the boring stuff like that.
Years ago, I actually DID have an experience like that. It was at a hamburger chain restaurant, and I'm pretty sure it was in Texas. Or maybe it was Georgia. Anyhoo, I loved their "charco-broiled" burgers, and when I got about halfway through my cheeseburger, I felt something kind of stringy. I opened up the burger, and saw a large patch of cow fur laying atop my beef patty. It even had the black and white pattern you see on cows.
Well, ol' Beth didn't feel quite hungry enough to eat the rest of that burger. However, I didn't make a fuss or throw a coniption fit, I just deposited my burger into the nearest trashcan, left the establishment, and never ate there again. I'm still not sure I would, and this happened years ago. I really didn't want to talk about it with was just so disgusting, and I just wanted it to go away. I didn't want to be offered a new burger, because I had somehow managed to lose my appetite.
I guess I missed my opportunity, didn't I? I could have sued them and gotten a chunk o' change for "pain and suffering" or "mental anguish." But it didn't cause me any harm physically, I wasn't traumatized mentally, and I didn't suffer any negative after-effects. I just chose not to frequent that establishment ever again. Why would I file such a dishonest claim?