Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey dies

I just heard on the news that legendary radio personality Paul Harvey passed away today. He began his radio career in 1933 and became widely successful in 1951 when his Chicago radio show went national. He was famous for beginning his programs with "Hello Americans, I'm Paul Harvey. You know what the news is, in a minute, you're going to hear ... the rest of the story," and ending them with "Paul Harvey ... Good day." He was 90.

Do you remember that?

I have an excellent long term memory. I can remember details like you wouldn’t believe. They play out in my mind like a movie. What people said; what they were wearing; where we were. It’s all there like someone wrote it down for me.

If what you want me to remember is a week ago or sooner however, you can just forget about me remembering it. My short term memory is bad. Very bad. Very, very bad.

I write myself notes to not forget things and then forget that I wrote the note in the first place until I find it usually well after the fact. I have notes everywhere.

I forget websites unless I visit them on a regular basis. When I remember them I can’t believe I forgot about them in the first place. I loved that site but because I skipped a couple of days it’s gone from my mind until something reminds me.

I find myself standing in the middle of rooms wondering why I’m in there…often. My short term memory is really that awful. I hate it. I’m just glad the memories actual do find their way to their spot in my brain after a week. It would be terrible to lose it forever.

So this morning while I was browsing my homepage I saw two different headlines that interested me very much. One of them was 6 Minutes to a Better Memory and the other was 8 Foods to Keep Your Brain Young and Healthy. I had to read more!

The first article said that taking a 6 minute nap during the daytime would give your memory a quick and easy boost. You could take a longer nap but the effect it has on your memory happens after just 6 minutes. Daytime nappers outperformed non-nappers on memory exercises. They said that falling asleep triggered a neurobiological process that gives your brain a boost.

That same article also provided links to a fun memory exercise site and one that says keeping in touch with family and friends is beneficial to your memory. They were both pretty interesting and the games were fun. (Click on the highlighted words to visit the sites yourself.)

The second article I read was about 8 foods to eat to increase your memory. I know you want to know what they are because that’s all I wanted to know too. Here’s the list:
  1. Fish
  2. Blueberries
  3. Nuts and Seeds
  4. Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
  5. Oil: Monounsaturated Fats (olive, sesame, canola, almond, flaxseed and fish oil)
  6. L-carnitine Foods (meats, fish, poultry, wheat, avocado, milk and soybeans)
  7. Microalgae (eww. Sorry that doesn’t sound good) This comes from the ocean or uncontaminated lakes and is algae (blue-green algae, spiraling, chlorella, seaweed and kelp).
  8. Green tea. Drink 2 cups a day to get the full benefits.
So maybe I’ll eat a few of those. They really lost me on the algae. I just can’t see myself eating up some algae! Thank you anyway. But I'll try some of the others to see if it helps my poor frazzled short term memory.

How about you? How’s your memory? And what do you think about that diet? Would you eat algae?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Cutbacks are in the toilet

I have to tell you that sometimes the stories I read make me cry. Sometimes they make me angry. And sometimes they even make me laugh so hard I get worried that I may need to change my pants… =)

I also need to tell you that I’m not a big traveler and on the rare occasions that I do travel somewhere it is always by car. Ok, twice it was by bus but NOT in the air. Since I was 18 years old I haven’t been on a plane.

Reading my morning news I came across a story that gives me another great reason to not fly. And it was one of those stories that made me laugh too.

It seems that the Irish airline Ryanair (which happens to be Europe’s largest budget airline according to the story) is trying to come up with ways to save money. How are they doing it? Well, for one thing they’ve eliminated all the check-in desks in the airport. Passengers have to check in online. I can see how that would save money. They don’t have to pay people to sit in the airport and check you in. I’m sure it helps.

Their newest idea would leave me kicking and screaming at the door to the plane, refusing to step foot on board until I had taken care of some very important business however. Business you ask? Yes, business. The using the bathroom kind of business. Otherwise the airline will make me pay if I have a need while we’re in the air.

I’m not kidding! The airline is considering installing coin slots on the toilet doors to make more money for the company and therefore save you money in the long run. I’m sorry but that’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!

I’ve never been a big fan of pay toilets. I think that if you have to pee and you’re traveling you can just pull over at the nearest tree. I’ve peed outside more times than you would believe if I told you.

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of the airline, was quoted in the story as saying “People might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny…”

LOL that kills me. First that they say ‘spend a penny’ when talking about using the restroom and second for the reason I told you before… I am NOT a fan of paying to pee.

O’Leary also said he didn’t think it would inconvenience anyone that was traveling without money because he’d never seen anyone board one of their planes without having at least a pound in their pocket. Pfft. I’ve gotten on lots of planes (back in my flying days of course) with not one penny in my pockets thank you. I think it will cause them issues even though he doesn’t think it will. I could be wrong. Maybe they don’t mind there. I know one thing for sure though… If I ever feel the need to fly Ryanair airlines, I’ll have some sort of Tupperware container tucked into my penniless pockets!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Kara DioGuardi is ruining American Idol!

I told you several weeks ago when American Idol first began its eighth season that I was disappointed in it. I believe I may have even said I wasn’t going to watch it. I lied. But only about watching it.

I am still disappointed in it but not for the reasons you may think (unless of course you either 1. Know me or 2. Pay attention to me). So what’s my problem? I’ll be happy to tell you.

I can’t stand Kara DioGuardi. I don’t like her at all. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t even hear her voice without cringing. She brings NOTHING to the table in my opinion. She doesn’t even have original thoughts as far as I can see.

In general she is not the first judge to speak when it comes time for their thoughts on the performances. I think she must do that on purpose because when she does take her turn she basically repeats what the judge before her said. I hate that. If you have an opinion say it. Don’t just ‘go with the flow’. It doesn’t make you look good. At least not to me.

Plus she’s so concerned with telling people how good they look on stage. Huh? I thought this was a singing contest not a fashion show. Maybe I’m wrong. I understand that sadly your appearance does have a lot to do with your success in the music industry but I think at this point your voice should be more important. Several times Kara hasn’t said one thing about the contestant’s voice instead commenting on their outfit or their hair. I can think of several musicians that weren’t beauty queens or kings (Janis Joplin, Tom Petty, and Rick Ocasek just to name a few off the top of my head) but had incredible voices and were very successful because of those voices. That’s what music is about. The sound.

I was extremely pleased when on last nights show Paula Abdul pretty much shot Kara down in her tracks. Kara actually did comment first in that case and when she finished Paula said “I completely disagree” and then told WHY she disagreed. The crowd cheered; I laughed out loud. It was truly great! What makes that better for me personally is the fact that I normally don’t like Paula either. She earned a few points with me for that one.

I’ll leave you with a couple of videos I found on YouTube. I could talk all day about how much I hate Kara DioGuardi and how little talent I think she has (at least as a judge on American Idol. Honestly I don’t know about her other “talents” and I don’t want to know. She’s really on my nerves) and I think that would be boring so I’ll quit here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A new beginning

Fat Tuesday has ended and Lent has begun. Many Christian religions observe Lent but do you know what it is?

Lent is the forty day period before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert and continues until Easter Sunday and the Resurrection. Some churches calculate the 40 days in different ways.

From Wikipedia:

What is Lent?

» The 40-day period is a time for Christians to reflect on their relationship with God and prepare for the holiest day of the year, Easter, commemorating Jesus Christ’s resurrection. Stemming from early church practice, the focus is typically on sorrow for sin, prayer, fasting and giving to the poor.

» Lent, which stems from an Old English word for springtime, lasts 40 days because of the biblical account of Jesus spending 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying before beginning his ministry.

» Western Christians begin Lent on Ash Wednesday, which is Feb. 25 this year. (Sundays are not counted among the 40 days because the resurrection is celebrated each Sunday.)

» For many Christians, Lent officially ends at Easter. For Roman Catholics, it ends on the evening of Holy Thursday.

» For Orthodox Christians, the Great Lent begins on Clean Monday, which is March 2 this year, and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday.

What’s with the ashes?

» In most mainline Christian services on Ash Wednesday, the priest or pastor imposes ashes (from burning last year’s Palm Sunday palms) in the sign of the cross on the foreheads of worshipers. The priest or pastor typically says a few words about what the ashes symbolize.

» The Bible describes believers using ashes as a symbol of repentance, and the practice stems from that.

Whatever your beliefs (or non-beliefs) happen to be, I wish you a happy Lent season. I hope that you reach any goals you may have set for yourself. God bless you.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Because I HAVE to just move on

Since Saturday afternoon Tim and the other homeless men that are living under a bridge not far from my home have been all that's been on my mind. It's consumed my thoughts and dominated several conversations that MY Tim and I have had. I've tried to see all sides of it and give it a fair shot but I just can't come to any real conclusions. I guess my final thought is I hope Sean and his website help these men but I think they did it in the absolute worst taste they could have. End of discussion for me. I just can't think about it anymore right now. It's too much for my heart. I want to believe everything but...

That's where I'm stopping. If I continue it will make me crazy. So with that in mind, I forced myself to read about OTHER things tonight. Thankfully I found a story that made me smile and think Ok, I am right...People are good.

A California woman recently lost her job. I know how she feels. We had quite the time after Hurricane Ike and were out of jobs too. It's a terrible feeling. You horde everything you have just so you'll still have it. (That makes me think about Tim under I-10 again. So sad.) Anyway, I imagine that's what the lady was thinking when she put all her money into a bank bag and then the bag into her purse. The bag contained $4,000 in cash and more than $20,000 in checks. It fell out of her purse in a Kmart parking lot.

You know she had to be panicking. I would be panicking for sure. Lucky for her a good Samaritan was the one that found the bag. He turned it in to police, they tracked her down and returned her money.

First bravo to the man that found a bag full of money in a parking lot and turned it in instead of taking it for himself like it would have been very easy for him to do. Second I am so relieved for the lady. It really makes me happy that she got her money back. Her life would have gone in a bad direction if it hadn't been returned to her no doubt. (And that yet again makes me think of Tim.)

So now that I have a good story in my mind (plus some thoughts that I WILL deal with in my own time) and a happy feeling in my heart I think I can finish my evening. I hope everyone has a good evening.

Two sides of the story

Saturday I wrote about Tim and Pimp this Bum and how I felt about the website. I received a response which I would like to respond to in turn.

The comment:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely understand the strong feelings expressed on here. I wanted to explain my side on a few points. First off, Tim has a fantastic sense of humor. He laughed at the idea, and had nothing to lose, only something to gain. Why bring him a fish, when we can teach him how to fish? So many people claim they are helping the homeless by giving to them. The fact is, they are simply placing a temporary band aid where surgery is needed. Tim can't get a job because he is addicted to alcohol. He shakes every morning, and loses use of bodily function if he doesn't get alcohol. If we put him up in a hotel every night, he would drain all the money from his account and be left on the street. He has requested to keep his money in the account unless there is an emergency. He is very honest, and giving, and will give all his money away to friends if he has it. The site was offensive on purpose. If our site was we wouldn't have been on Fox & Friends yesterday. Period. Sad, but true. By design, we wanted to create controversy and buzz, so that in the end, we could leverage sponsorship to provide the 'surgery' Tim needs to permanently remove himself from his situation.

We planned on the site reaching a critical mass (which happened today) at which time we would tone it down. We currently have the toned-down version of the site which includes all the donors and the latest addition of SunRay treatment center which has donated a 13,800 scholarship for Alcohol Addiction treatment. He has a rough few weeks ahead of him, as he will have to detox before acceptance into the program. Tim has become like a brother to me, and places a lot of trust in us because we have been a constant in his life and always do what we say we will. He currently has around $1,432 in donations. We have made zero profit, in fact, our family has given more than any individual (that we know of) to help him.

I'm an eagle scout, you can check the records. I'm not going to collect all this money and steal it from a homeless man. It's shocking to me that in this world, no good deed goes unpunished. Is this what we want to teach people? Do a good turn for the sake of helping someone, and others will assume you have ulterior motives? What happened to benefit of the doubt?

And as Tim has said many times, if you don't want to donate, no hard feelings. We feel the same way, if we offend 100 people in order to reach 1,000 who donate, in the end it's more help for Tim.

Thank you to those who do understand what we are doing, there are 20 of you to every 1 who doesn't. And no hard feelings to those who criticize. If Tim gets out of rehab and gets his life back, you'll come around. :)

-Sean Dolan

My response:

Hi Sean,

I appreciate you stopping by and commenting on what I had to say. However I still have some problems with this even after you gave your side.

You start out by saying Tim has a fantastic sense of humor and that he has nothing left to lose. He does have something left to lose whether you care to admit it or not. He has his dignity to lose and what you are doing is most definitely damaging his dignity and feelings of self-worth. He may be smiling on the outside but I can NOT believe that a human being would be "ok" with being made fun of, called names and made to look like their hard life is nothing more than an advertising gimmick.

You say he is addicted to alcohol and can't be trusted with his own money. That's sad. And it's sad for more than the obvious reasons. Addictions can ruin lives and cause a lot of heartache. It's also sad that you say he can't be trusted with his own money. That statement bothered me quite a bit. Is he mentally unable to understand money? Does he have some kind of illness (besides alcohol addiction) that leaves him in a juvenile state mentally and therefore you feel he needs his money allocated out to him? A lot of people spend their money unwisely but they don't have the need to have someone lock their money away so that they are unable to spend it. It's another way I feel you are demeaning his character. In addition to calling him a bum and 'pimping' his life out the way you have, you now say he isn't trustworthy. You make him out to be a horrible person regardless of your attempt to make us believe he's like a brother to you. Would you treat your brother this way? Would you call him names and leave him in the cold because you didn't think you could trust him to do things the way you think they should be done? I doubt it. I imagine you would set up a nice comfortable place in your own home for your brother. I could be wrong.

As far as you being an Eagle Scout, congratulations. I was a Girl Scout. What does that have to do with anything? You want to prove to me that you are a good person? Being an Eagle Scout doesn't do that for me. How many cases of ministers molesting children, teachers selling drugs or police taking bribes can you think of? I can think of quite a few just off the top of my head. Supposedly "good" people do bad things all the time. And it's been my experience that usually the one doing the loudest yelling about how good they are is the one that is out there doing the most damage. Benefit of the doubt? Ok, if you have good examples for me to base my decision on. Just telling me you are honest doesn't tell me you are honest. If I see that you have done good for Tim and actually helped him, I'll be more than happy to stand up and say you did it. I believe in giving credit where credit is due but I don't believe in 'just because I said it' being the truth. I need proof. That's just me. I don't mean any offense by it but it's a fact of who I am.

I'm glad that you toned down the site. I did visit it again after your comment. I'm very glad the Wish List has been changed on the sidebar. I found that quite offensive the way it was set up before. It made it very close to the way online games look and I just can not think of a person and their life as a game no matter how hard I try. We all deserve to be treated as humans and not as a pawn in a game.

I have added Tim and the other people who are homeless around the world to my list of prayers. I hope that someday everything is better for them and that they have a comfortable place to sleep out of the weather and eat a hot meal when they are hungry. I also hope that they will be able to live their own lives without people deciding for them important things like when they'll be allowed to spend their own money. I'm not a rich person. I'm not even financially comfortable. I'd even go so far as to say we're pretty poor. But I have been blessed with a home, food and people who care about and trust me. I am allowed to make my own decisions and mess up quite often but I still have that freedom. I hope one day everyone in the world has the same.

Thank you again for visiting Sean. I wish you well. I hope it all turns out like you planned. I just hate the way you went about it. It wasn't right. I've honestly tried to see your side of it but it keeps coming back to that. It wasn't right. And I don't like it. Sorry. Have a great day.

You can click here if you'd like to visit Sean's site Pimp This Bum!

This post has been on my mind all day. Now I'd like to add a little bit more... I REALLY do NOT like this. I did 'come around' a little after re-visiting the site. Just a little though. What I keep doing is rereading the comment that Sean left for me. I think if you're anything like me you'll understand my doing that. I want to see if there is anything that helps me understand his way of thinking about this.

If I'm completely honest I have to tell you WHAT specifically bothers me about his comment. First, he's very condescending. He felt the need to brag about his family doing so much for these men even though the only thing that's changed for them so far is that they are now on the internet. HOPEFULLY he's a man of his word and the things he say will happen do happen but I don't know if they will.

I've already talked about his Eagle Scout comment I know, but I feel the need to say it again... What does that have to do with anything? Why put that into play like it has relevance to the issue? Unless he is using specific skills to help the men that he learned through the Eagle Scouts why even bring it up? Because, I believe, he thought it would make him look good. Like "Oh wow. He can't be that bad...He was an Eagle Scout for goodness sakes!" Well, I'm sorry. I don't buy that for the reasons I told you above. It has NO impact on anything except possibly his ego.

I feel as though it's Sean's intention to make me (and everyone else who doesn't jump on his bandwagon) feel guilty. "And as Tim has said many times, if you don't want to donate, no hard feelings. We feel the same way, if we offend 100 people in order to reach 1,000 who donate, in the end it's more help for Tim."

(I'm taking a deep breath because I feel myself slipping into that mad place again.)

Are those the REAL statistics... 100 offended people: 1000 people who donate? Truly? It would seem more likely to me that out of every 1000 who visit your site at least 100 people are offended and possibly up to 1/2 of them donate. I don't have the statistics on that site so I can't say but I bet I'm pretty close to the truth there.

Your other statistics are just as sketchy and unbelievable to me. You think there are 20 people that think what you are doing and the way that you are doing it is great but only 1 that doesn't? You said for every 20 people that understand there is one person that doesn't. Do you think I'm stupid? I can't grasp what you claim to be trying to do? If what you say is true then there would only be 5 people out of every 100 that disagreed with you. That I find completely hard to swallow. I haven't seen one thing that supports you yet. Maybe it's on your site...Oh wait, there is NO place to comment there. I forgot. You only get to see what YOU want us to see. Smart.

I do believe though that the bulk of my anger at this moment comes from your final statement to me: "If Tim gets out of rehab and gets his life back, you'll come around. :)"

I am a Christian woman. I believe that I should consider other people and their feelings, ideas and plans. I believe that I should not be judgmental and close my mind off to ideas that may not be something I like. I believe I should give them all a chance. So now what I would like to say to you I am going to say very carefully so my anger doesn't control my words. WHEN Tim gets out of rehab and gets his life back (because I have faith that he will) I will NOT come around. :) The belief that degrading people by calling them names and making their life into a game is an alright way to reach your goal will NEVER be on the OK list for me. While I commend you for attempting to help Tim, I do NOT now, nor will I ever believe the way that you went about doing it was acceptable.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Head to church for help…..but don’t forget your clothes

A man in Bay City Michigan was arrested outside St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church while a funeral was taking place inside the church. Police said he was verbally abusive to them and they found it necessary to use a Taser to subdue him. Oh, did I mention he was nude?

Yes, the man had not one piece of clothing on. According to the story I read, people called 911 after seeing the naked man outside the church. When police arrived at the scene the man cursed at them. He told the officers he was having problems at home with his parents and that he wanted to attend church. I assume that the cursing became out of control even though it doesn’t say that in the story. Why else would police resort to using a Taser gun? Those things are only used when the police can’t handle the person being shot with a barb that sticks into your skin and sends electric jolts through your body temporarily paralyzing you right? They wouldn’t use it just to make their job easier would they? Nah, I doubt it.

If you’re wondering about that last comment then I’ll go ahead and confirm what you are thinking: I was being sarcastic.

How in the world could that man have been such a threat that they felt the need to Taser him? Did he have a weapon hidden somewhere on his naked body? If he did I certainly don’t want to know where it was hiding! Was he so enormous in size that the police didn’t think they had a chance to take him down physically? How about some mental help? Don’t the police have people who are trained to talk to people with mental issues? I’m pretty sure they do. I even think I know what they are called: negotiators. Hello? Was that tried? I don’t know because the story doesn’t say. Why would it? That would just make the police look incompetent and lazy if they hadn’t taken those steps.

The story concludes by saying the man was taken to the hospital for treatment and that he probably wouldn’t have any charges filed against him. Well at least there’s some good news. I hope he gets the help he needs and I’m glad he won’t be spending any time in jail. I feel sorry for him. I think he really must have some sort of issue if he was outside naked but he also has some good to at least know enough to go to a church for help.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Are they helping the homeless or making a joke out of them?

The other day I was catching up on my blog reading and ended up on one of my favorites Hey look, a chicken! written by none other than katdish. I really like katdish and enjoy her writing quite a bit. She's right up my sarcastic alley ;) If you haven't visited her site(s) yet I encourage you to get over there. I think you'll like her.

That days post was titled Pimp this Bum dot com and that title dragged me into her story. I followed a link she had included to her pastor Jeff's blog Convergence and a post he had titled Marketing Homelessness. (I would like to add that I include links in about 98/100 of my posts and I hope that you follow them and decide your own opinions on the stories I write based on the original stories.)

Both those posts are about an experiment in viral advertising and specifically about the website Pimp This Bum! (Yes, you can visit the website for yourself by following the link I included but it's a duel edged sword; to be able to reach an educated opinion it's necessary to visit the site but by visiting you will increase the counter that is keeping track of visitors thus creating a "win" for the people running it.)

Here's my issues with this site.

1. It says ALL the money goes to Tim (the man featured) yet Tim is still on the streets. IF he's actually receiving money through these people why isn't he sleeping somewhere besides under a bridge? And I wonder if they are telling him about the money? How much has been made "for" him.

2. It has a 'Wish List' with items such as a cheeseburger & fries for $3.50, a razor for $1.00 under which it says "Too good looking already" and laser hair removal for $130.00. Is that a joke? It seems like a joke and a really rude one. If they really wanted to help Tim why don't they just say here's this man that really needs some help what can you give? Why put things that he really doesn't need? It's so demeaning to me. It feels like one of those games you play. You know like "Coffee Buzz" where you buy ingredients to make coffee's. It's not right on so many levels I can't even put it into words.

3. The title itself is demeaning. A pimp is associated with prostitution and taking advantage of people and illegal activities resulting in lots of money for the pimp and usually a lot of pain for the other person involved. And 'bum' is just as bad. It's a hateful word to me. Someone who has gotten to the point of living on the street certainly doesn't deserve the added grief of someone calling them names. These people claim to be helping but again all I see is hurting.

There are actually a lot of things that bother me about this site but every time I try to write them down the anger fills my head again and I get nowhere. This is the furthest I've gotten with it and I can feel the anger in the pit of my stomach starting again.

So now I'm leaving it up to you. Tell me what YOU think about this. Is it a legitimate program that is helping people or is it something that is taking advantage of them? I need some help with this one. It's all I can think about right now. I REALLY want to drive into Houston and find Tim and give him a bag of food or something. It just breaks my heart.

FDA adds new products to recall list

The list is still growing for peanut products that contain salmonella. Dog products from American Health Kennels Inc., candy from Gurley's Foods Inc., and PB & Whey Protein Bites were added yesterday. You can click here for the details on those products I just mentioned and I have added the FDA search widget to the top of my sidebar for easy access. New products are still being added to the list so please, please, please check it often and consider carefully if anything you are using could possibly contain peanuts or peanut butter. I realized this morning (well after the fact) that I had eaten Valentine's Day candy that contained nuts. I hope they weren't any of THOSE nuts. Ugh. Will this ever end?

My music and you

For anyone that knows me in "real life" this should come as no surprise... I love music. I can not go even one day without listening to music. If there's no music to play, I sing my own. I can NOT be without it.

Some of you may have noticed that music is not playing on this page anymore. I came to that decision after reading first a comment and then a blog written about music on blogs and the comments that were left there.

Actually there is still music on this page. All I did was turn auto-play off. But I figured if it was that big of a deal to people, it shouldn't start on it's own. Of course I honestly don't understand why it should be a big deal to turn the music player off if you are visiting and don't want to hear it but I'm not a fighter. And I hate upsetting people. So to avoid any conflict (and to make people happy because that is very important to me) I turned it off.

If you are like me and want to hear music all the time you can push play and listen until you're happy. I am listening now. :) The player is at the bottom of the page. Click away!

For my what I hope to be new friend that didn't like it, there you go. It's really not a problem for me to turn it on when I'm here and now you don't have to worry about turning it off. I enjoy your comments and hope you keep visiting. I did see a lot of people on your blog that agreed with you wholeheartedly. And I think my solution keeps EVERYONE happy which, like I said before, is extremely important to me.

As an added note my Happy At Home blog (which is my personal/this is me blog) will always have music playing when you get there. Just a warning :D lol You may want to turn your speakers off.

Have a great day everyone!


Friday, February 20, 2009

R.I.P. Socks

The stray cat named Socks that was adopted by the Clinton's and became famous during their time in both the Governor's mansion in Arkansas and The White House died today at the age of 20. This may not seem like news to some people but to me, a self proclaimed cat lady, the story from People was very touching. He was put to sleep this morning after a battle with throat cancer. I'm glad he's out of the pain you know he had to be in.

On the web:

The Clintons Bid Farewell to Socks the Cat -- People

Leave Your Condolences For Socks, White House Cat Dies at Age 20 -- People pets

One for the good guys

Isn’t it funny how things always happen in twos or threes? I just shared an email on Tuesday on my Happy At Home blog about the same subject that I read about in the news this morning. The subject: kindness, selflessness, the good guys.

The email (which you can read by clicking on the words Happy At Home above) was about a young man that was mentally and physically disabled. One day passing the baseball field he told his father he wanted to play. His father was afraid of how the other kids would treat his son but let him play anyway. He was rewarded for his trust when the children on both teams intentionally allowed him to make a home run when in reality what he hit was an easy out. The children put aside the goal of winning so that that boy could be a hero. I cried when I read it; it was that sweet.

The story I read this morning was about basketball instead of baseball but the same story played out.

The DeKalb Illinois High School basketball team rode two and a half hours to play in a non-conference game against a team in Milwaukee. It was to be the third time these two teams met up. The game started late. And it was close. But the Milwaukee team had other things on their minds.

A senior that played on the Milwaukee team was dealing with matters much more important than a basketball game. He was losing his mother. Johntel Franklin’s mother Carlitha had been fighting cervical cancer for five years but her fight was sadly over. She began hemorrhaging that morning and by the afternoon the decision was made to turn off the life-support system. She was only 39 when she died.

The teams coach was with Johntel at the hospital. He wanted to cancel the game but Johntel told him no. He wanted to play. Honoring the boy’s wishes, the coach took him to the game that was already in the second quarter. Because Johntel was not on the pre-game roster the other team would be given two free throws if he was allowed to play. He wanted to play.

What happened next was an incredible show of sportsmanship by the other team. They intentionally missed the free throws even though it could have given them an advantage. The boy that made the shots was quoted as saying “I did it for the guy who lost his mom. It was the right thing to do.”

It was the right thing to do and even though I don’t personally know the boys that played that night, I am extremely proud of them. They reminded me that good guys DO still exist and even during a tragedy something good can happen.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Embarrassing moment for Dublin police

Police in Dublin Ireland have been searching for a Polish man that committed up to 50 traffic violations and used different addresses for each one.

They knew his name: Prawo Jazdy and the 50 different addresses that were on the drivers licenses. Catching him was a different matter. He seemed impossible to find. Now they know why.

Prawo Jazdy means drivers license in Polish. The words written in the top right hand corners of the licenses was not the name of the person but rather just identifying the document as a driver's license.

In the story I read, the Irish police declined to comment on the report that their system had created a person with over 50 identities. Do you blame them? I don’t. That’s pretty embarrassing if you ask me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is it discipline or abuse? I say it's stupidity

Reading my morning news as usual, I came across a story that left me somewhat speechless. I wasn’t speechless because I had no opinion about the story. I was speechless because I had so many things to say about it I couldn’t figure out where to start!

Now that I’ve settled down a little bit, I guess I’ll start with the details of the story…

It was about a 9 year old boy who’s father had charges of child abuse filed against him for shooting the 9 year old in the butt with a BB gun. The man faces 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The boy wrote an essay about the incident, the teacher turned it in to the police and the man was arrested. He was released on bond but was given the instructions to not threaten or engage in any acts of violence against his son and not to engage in physical discipline of any child. In the story the father was quoted as saying “I knew right away it was a stupid thing I did.” He shot the boy in the butt when he wouldn’t move away from the front of the TV.

Here’s what I thought:

1. We’re talking about a 9 year old. They embellish things. They make things way more exciting than they really were. If you’ve ever read a 9 year olds “How I spent my summer” essay then you know what I’m talking about. It’s incredibly cool and quite entertaining 10 years later when you read it but I don’t think you should take each word as gospel. Some things may not be the actual way it happened.

2. We’re talking about a 9 year old. It was an incredibly stupid thing that this father did. A 9 year olds reflexes and/or thought processes are not developed enough to decide in a split second if they need to move or not and then move. I’ve seen 9 year olds stand there and watch as something came hurtling through the air and smacked into their face/arm/stomach.

3. Are there no investigations done? Do the police just come into your home and arrest you because your 9 year old said you did something? I know the man admitted that he did it and apparently there was a BB in a butt, but it doesn’t seem like it was done in an overly hateful way. I don’t think he wanted to injure his child. Just make him move. I’ll repeat that what he did was an incredibly stupid thing. But I can see it happening. You’re watching TV, the kid won’t move, you’re favorite whatever is on and it’s been a long day… you’re irritated. He shouldn’t have taken his irritation out on his kid but I can see it happening.

4. 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine?!? Ok, what he did just turned into a really, really, incredibly stupid thing. Seriously. That seems a little excessive for a BB in the butt. Especially when I can go online and see all the child molesters that live in my neighborhood. I just feel so much better now that this BB shooter will be locked up. Idiots.

5. He was ordered not to engage in any acts of violence against his son. I didn’t realize popping off a BB gun was an act of violence. At one point in my life I lived with acts of violence. I would happily trade those days for an irritated “You’re blocking the TV! Move!” POP! But then I think, yeah, that wasn’t cool. It WOULD hurt. (It still could have been worse.)

6. I started to wonder who would keep a BB gun within reach of their couch but then I remembered some friends of mine that did have guns (BB and otherwise) sitting in the corner of the living room or propped up by a chair. They weren’t gangsters or anything *lol* they were country folk. Nuff said.

7. He was ordered not to engage in physical discipline of any child. What he did was not discipline. He let his irritation control his brain and his brain acted badly. It was not his shining moment.

Things have really changed since I was a kid. I can remember my father telling me to go in his closet and choose the belt that I wanted him to use to whip me. You had to choose well. If you brought a tiny one out he’d go get a bigger one and you’d get extra licks. If you were bold and brought the big one to start out you got extra licks for being a smartass. It was best to just stay towards the middle and hope you chose right. That was the way it was and you behaved correctly to avoid those long walks to the closet thinking about how bad your butt was going to hurt when it was over and hoping that maybe this time you wouldn’t get more than 5 swats. That was our discipline: training through pain aversion.

I just don’t think what the father did was so bad. I can definitely think of worse. I guess my wrapped up opinion is the thought that keeps drifting into my head… It was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

I'd like to add a note here. I added this to my comments but sometimes you may not read the comments so I wanted to say it here too. I in no way thought it was ok for the man to shoot his son. On my #3 thought I was only saying I could understand how the man could react the way he did. I would never shoot my child with anything (except maybe a rubberband and that would be playing not anger) and he was definitely wrong for doing that!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Because everyone deserves a break today

Close encounters of the Texas kind

The eyes of Texas were looking at the sky on Sunday morning. They were all trying to see the UFO. I’m not joking. A fireball streaked across the Texas sky Sunday morning causing numerous residents to believe a close encounter was occurring.

One Texas sheriff’s office had so many reports of the UFO that they actually sent a helicopter out to search for a plane crash or something of that nature. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) at first believed it was a satellite dish and a Russian space vehicle that had collided in space. They thought pieces from that crash were raining down on earth. They even posted a warning to pilots to be aware of debris in the air but later said that wasn’t the case and the warning was removed.

Preston Starr (the observatory manager at the University of North Texas…how ironic is his name?) said that it was a pickup truck sized meteor. The FAA has agreed with him.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking about where that meteor landed. I can imagine a huge crater in the center of some small Texas town. People freaking out and running for the hills...

Not to worry, according to Starr anything that may have survived the trip through the atmosphere would be smaller than a fist once it reached the earth’s surface. (I have to think a fist sized rock would still hurt pretty bad if it hit me though.)

I personally don’t believe in little green men from outer space but I know a lot of people do believe. I’m not saying there is no life outside of Earth but I do find it hard to believe they have spaceships but haven’t bothered to ‘check us out’.

And I wonder how nobody knew a meteor was on its way. Aren’t there hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people that do nothing but watch the sky? If a pickup sized meteor can get through without any warning what else is here?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Is it safe to keep exotic animals in your home?

I am an animal lover. I’ve had many animals during my lifetime. They’ve all been pretty standard types of domesticated animals also known as pets. Dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, a couple of turtles and one time I had an ant farm although I’m not sure the ants would be classified as pets. They were just bugs in a glass case. I was fascinated by them though. They were creatures. They were alive. They controlled themselves. That’s always been cool to me.

The most exotic animal I’ve ever claimed as my pet is my turtle Henry. He’s a 20 year old snapping turtle; a Red-eared Slider to be precise. That’s a little exotic but not really. I have, however, known several people that owned truly exotic animals and I did have the opportunity to interact in one way or another with all of them.

One friend of mine had a mountain lion for 14 years. She was beautiful but very frightening. I threw her some food one time (raw meat) over the top of her cage and the noise she made while eating was what got to me. I felt it. It was this low, rumbling growl that shivered across the ground between us. I could see her teeth ripping through the meat like it was butter. There was no resistance at all. Her teeth just slid through the meat. It scared me. I had to go inside.

I remember asking my friend if she was ever scared of her big cat. She said that when she (the cat) was very young they kept her in the house. My friend came home earlier than her husband one day and the cat freaked out on her. My friend said when she came through the door all she saw was claws and teeth and all she heard was the cat growling. She ran for the nearest room (the bathroom) and slammed the door behind her. She was trapped in there for almost 2 hours before her husband came home. The cat continuously paced back and forth in front of the door, stopping to scratch every so often. The growling never stopped.

That was the last time their big cat was in their home. She became a permanent outside resident after that day. I can’t say I blame them. I doubt very seriously I would ever own an animal like that (I’d be too scared), but if I did I’m pretty sure it would be outside.

But then I think what kind of life is that for the animal? Locked in a pen being able to see the world but not explore it would be terrible. They have natural needs and natural instincts. I just don’t think that’s fair to them.

Now this is where I usually get a lot of flack from Tim. He’d say “They’re animals! Why are you worried about being fair? Yes, feed them. Yes, give them some place to get out of the rain and cold. But why worry about fair? They don’t know what fair means.” And he does have a valid point. If they had lived comfortably with everything they needed to survive then where’s the problem? That’s all they know. But I think somewhere deep down they do know they’re missing something. That instinct is always there just waiting for the day it can come out and be free.

I had actually been thinking about my friend and her mountain lion a little earlier this evening. I was watching Wife Swap and one of the families had several animals, one of which was an exotic bird. That’s where this whole thing started. And I had planned on writing a story about that cat and my friend on my Happy At Home blog. I got online just to do that very thing.

Of course I can’t come online without glancing over the headlines on my homepage. It’s impossible for me to not at least peek at them. That’s when I saw the story that brought my thoughts full circle.

The headline read ‘Police in Conn. Shoot chimp after it attacks woman’. I clicked on the link. I have to tell you what I read truly broke my heart.

The chimpanzee was 15 years old and had lived with the family basically as a child. They had trained him to use the toilet. He could dress himself after taking a bath, again by himself. He ate at the table like a person and used a Water Pik to brush his teeth. He was very smart. Smart enough that he had been used in commercials for Old Navy and Coca-Cola and had even appeared on the Maury Povich Show.

Nobody knows why the chimpanzee suddenly turned angry. A friend of his owner had come to visit and when she stepped out of her car the chimpanzee attacked. She suffered serious facial injuries and lost a large amount of blood.

The owner, desperate to stop the attack, grabbed a large butcher knife and stabbed her pet numerous times. The chimpanzee then ran away and began wandering around the property.

When police arrived they tried to capture the animal. He wasn’t having any part of it and attacked several of the officers causing them to get in their cars for safety. Having been raised riding in cars the chimp opened one of the doors and went after another officer. He shot the animal several times and he ran away again.

Police followed a trail of blood into the owner’s home. The chimpanzee had returned to his area inside the house and died.

I’m not going to try and pretend to be some kind of animal expert but I will tell you what I think. For whatever reason the chimpanzee saw the lady as a threat. His instincts kicked in and he attacked. Animals and humans both have different levels of pain that they can deal with and if they are frightened or angry that level goes up. He probably didn’t feel the stabs. Maybe he even thought he was just being hit. I’m sure he felt threatened by the police. The police were all wound up over a person being attacked (and rightly so) and emotions were running high. Animals can sense that. Dogs always know when I’m scared of them. When he was shot he knew he was going to die. (I don’t know how they know, but I believe animals do know when they are going to die. I’ve had several that disappeared when I thought they were close to their time.) He went back to his safe place to die.

It’s just heartbreaking to me. And it makes the feeling that we shouldn’t keep wild animals as pets grow even stronger in me. I feel so sorry for the lady that was attacked and I pray she recovers soon. And I feel sorry for the owner losing her longtime pet. But I also feel sorry for the chimpanzee that didn’t know he was a wild animal and had to die in such a horrible way.

Word verification: Necessary or a huge pain?

My friend Sherri over at Matter Of Fact posed a question yesterday on her blog about word verification on blog comments. Her question was is word verification on comments necessary?

Currently I have word verification on comments on all my blogs. I’m really starting to rethink them though. Sherri included two links on her blog to posts that argued against word verification and the ladies that wrote those posts had valid points.

Then looking around this morning for posts written in favor of word verification, I was surprised at the very low number that I found. And I actually didn’t find even one post proclaiming word verification was a great thing. Not one. (I should add here that I only looked for about 45 minutes so I probably could have found one if I had continued but honestly, I was bored.) The only positive comments that I found were in comments on posts questioning the need for word verifications.

That’s when I decided that I too would run a poll about word verification and its necessity or its problems, whichever applies to you. You can find it in the top right hand corner on this blog. I’ll leave it up for 30 days. I’m really interested in the outcome.

Until the poll is over I’m going to keep the word verification on my comment section. After you vote leave a comment on this post (I’ve added a link under the poll…or will have by the time this is posted.) and tell me why you voted the way you did. In 30 days I’ll make the final decision on word verification and my blogs. Who knows, maybe one of you will change my mind about their need.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

PCA is no more

Back on January 8 I began talking about the salmonella outbreak that has since been linked back to the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) and specifically to their Blakely Georgia plant. As of this past Friday, February 13, the PCA is no more.

They officially filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia on Friday. Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates all of the company’s assets and distributes that money to the company’s creditors. That’s good news for the creditors and in my opinion good news for us. We won’t have to worry about any more food coming from PCA.

In a story I read this morning it was reported that officials had also shut down the Texas plant this week because products tested there had positive results for salmonella too. When health officials went in that plant they found rodents, feces and feathers in the ceiling above the production area. Because no inspections had been made by the state there previously, ALL products ever produced there have been recalled and are being destroyed.

To date the salmonella outbreak that has been traced back to the Georgia plant has sickened over 630 people and possibly caused nine deaths. There are over 2000 products on the recall list.

I’m once again left wondering.

How many plants are producing food but not being inspected by states?
How many foods have I eaten since March of 2005 (the date the Texas PCA plant opened) that could have possibly contained peanuts or peanut products?
How lucky am I to have not gotten ill?
How many illnesses were actually salmonella but never treated so they haven’t been documented?
How many people work in plants that are nasty?
Don’t they know people are eating that food?
Don’t they care?
Why don’t they do anything to change it?

FDA Product Recall List
FDA Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak 2009. Flash Player 9 is required.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You can trust a judge....right?

While my kids were growing up and figuring out how things worked in this world and in my home, they did things that were sometimes not so smart. Some of those things were even bad enough that they could have been in serious trouble if anyone had caught them. I’m not proud of them for those things but I still love them. It wouldn’t matter what they did; they’re my kids and I would never stop loving them because they had a lapse of judgment.

It happens to the best of people. Kids mess up. Teenagers mess up. Even young adults mess up. That’s how they learn.

I have a good friend in Oklahoma that is the perfect example. Her son was in his 20’s and got involved in some illegal activities and then got caught. The police had him nailed. There were video tapes of his illegal activities. He had no way out. His phone call was to his mother. She bailed him out and they went home.

When it came time to go to court, my friend drove her son to the courthouse. As they were walking up the stairs she stopped him. She said “Son, I love you. I don’t want to lose you. If you want to run, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go. If you want to go inside, I’ll stand by you no matter what.”

He told her he was guilty and he had to do what was right. They went inside together. My friend cried when her son put in his guilty plea. And she cried when the judge sentenced her son to 8 years in prison. Her son didn’t cry. He knew he was wrong.

She went to visit him every weekend for the entire 8 years that he was in prison. She told me it was the best thing that ever happened to her son. He was headed down a bad path and being caught and having to go to prison had turned him around. I saw him the day he got out. He looked liked a totally different man. A better man.

In my friends case what the judge (and my friend’s son) did was the right thing. He heard the case. He heard the charges. He gave a fair judgment. That’s the way it should be. If my friend’s son had been innocent and sent to prison anyway, that would have been wrong. But a judge wouldn’t do that would they? After the story I just read I’m sad to say a judge would do that. Two judges as a matter of fact.

Judge Mark Ciavarella and Judge Michael Conahan both of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, have entered plea agreements of their own. They admitted to accepting more than $2.6 million dollars combined from a private youth detention center to sentence children to longer terms so that the center would receive more government money.

Teenagers who were sent before those judges for relatively minor offenses were sentenced to much longer times than necessary at the youth detention center. A 17 year old boy was sentenced to 3 months just because he was with another teenager that shoplifted. He didn’t shoplift; his friend did. He just happened to be with him.

Somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 juveniles received harsher sentences than was warranted for their crimes. That’s a lot. It’s an unbelievable amount to me. I feel so bad for not only the teenagers but for their families that had to be without them for no reason.

The judges have been relieved of their duty and charges were filed against them on January 26. I hope the judge that resides over their trials throws the book at them. I just can’t believe people that are supposed to uphold our laws decided to take advantage of our youth that way. It’s just a disgrace.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A "broken" world record

Lee Redmond from Salt Lake City Utah has held a world record since 1979... For the worlds longest nails. She hasn’t cut them since 1979. Can you imagine? I think that would drive me crazy! Her longest nail (her right thumb) measured an incredible 2 feet 11 inches long. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records and has been featured on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

All that changed on Tuesday. She was in a car crash and lost all of her world record length nails. Thankfully she wasn’t killed in the crash, although I bet it did hurt when the nails broke off. It had to hurt. The news story I read said that she sustained “serious but non-life-threatening injuries” after being ejected from her SUV.

I’m sorry she lost her nails. I’m sure she was used to them after 30 years of growing them. I still can’t imagine. I’m trying to imagine. I grow my nails quite long sometimes but it would be like comparing an elephant to an ant if I tried to compare my nails to hers. I hope she has a speedy recovery from her injuries. I wonder if she’ll start growing her nails back now.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I just love this guy

I just got done watching a video of President Obama talking to a young man at yesterday's town hall meeting in Fort Meyers Florida. 19 year old Julio Osegueda got the last question. His excitement for life and pride in himself is just inspiring! I wanted to share it with ya'll.

Australian fires fuel koala love

The devastating Australian wildfires have claimed over 180 lives so far, countless homes and countryside. Most of the news I’ve read on the fires has been heartbreaking to say the least. But this morning I found a story that was heart-warming.

Volunteer fire fighters came across a scared and badly burned koala bear in the forest southeast of Melbourne. They carefully approached her and offered her water from a plastic bottle. She reached for the firefighters hand and drank all that he offered. It was so beautiful to me. I’m going to include the YouTube video of her discovery to the bottom of this post. They named her Sam.

Two days earlier another koala was rescued and taken to a wildlife shelter. He was also burned but not quite as badly as Sam. They named him Bob. Three of Bob’s paws were burned but shelter workers believed he would be able to return to the wild in about four months. Sam’s recovery won’t be as easy. They believe it will be 7 - 8 months before she’s ready to return to her home in the bush.

The workers at the shelter said that Bob and Sam became quick friends. They put their arms around each other and kept giving each other hugs. There are approximately 20 koalas that have been brought to the shelter in recent days but Sam & Bob are by far the most popular. A County Fire Authority Victoria volunteer said “My heart goes out to the people in these fires and this was so innocent so people have used this to distract them from all the sad stuff that has gone on. It gives people a bit of hope.”

If you would like to help through donations, visit the Country Fire Authority Victoria website or the RSPCA website. Every little bit helps so if you can spare anything it would be a great help to the Australian people and the animals that lived in the now burned up bush.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One Life To Live patriarch passes away at 83

For as long as I can remember watching TV I can remember Asa Buchanan on One Life To Live.

The often onery, say-what-he-thinks-no-matter-what and sometimes downright mean character was portrayed by actor Philip Carey on and off from 1979 until December of 2008.

Asa was married an astounding 14 times. He was kidnapped, killed off, resurrected, faked his own death, eventually killed again and returned to Llanview as a ghost. He was the classic soap opera character.

The man behind the character lost his real life battle with cancer on Saturday. He was 83.

I don't pay much attention to soap opera's anymore. I could turn one on anytime I'd like and probably know what was happening. I just haven't had that urge lately. But I will admit that at one point in my life I never missed one showing of One Life To Live and Asa was always my favorite bad guy.

How many dogs can you fit in a car?

Apparently 22.

In the town of Pottsboro 70 miles north of Dallas Texas constables discovered just that. 22 dogs crammed into a station wagon. Oh, don’t let me forget that the woman who owned the car was inside too.

Officers at the scene of the discovery said that the lady was not coherent and seemed to be in need of mental health care. She locked herself in the car with the dogs when they tried to serve her with a warrant to remove the dogs from her possession.

According to the SPCA of Texas rescue and investigations supervisor the ammonia level in the car was twice the level that humans can withstand without having health issues. Because of all the urine and feces that were present in the station wagon, the ammonia level was 23 parts per million and the average person experiences health problems at 12 parts per million. How could she even breathe?

The 20 dogs and 2 puppies were taken to an animal shelter and are being cared for until a hearing on the 16th of this month. The custody of the animals will be decided at that hearing. Adult Protective Services was contacted to help the woman. I feel sorry for all of them. The dogs, the lady, the officers that had to do something with that mess you know was in the car and the shelter that now has 22 extra mouths to feed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The cheese stands alone

Gourmets know the best cheese comes from France. Fromage. Just the word conjures up images of fancy French restaurants, delicious dishes with cheese melted over the top of them, saucy accents and beautiful women. At least it does to me.

One thing I’ve never associated with cheese though is makeup. Skin care creams. Beauty products. Beautiful women, yes; the way they got that way, never.

A Frenchwoman named Gilberte Van Erpe has done what seems like the impossible. She convinced an entire town that her cheese possessed magically qualities and would be used to create luxury shampoo and moisturizers.

She talked residents in the rural town of Cantauco in Chile into giving her almost $400 for each box of the “magic cheese” that were really only worth $4.00. One resident paid 25 million pesos ($40,779.30) for the kits believing there was going to be a high payoff in the end.

Van Erpe was arrested last year in France for a similar pyramid scheme and is now under investigation for the present scheme. French officials are in Chile interviewing victims at this time. In total Van Erpe has scammed over $38 million from trusting people. She faces 10 years in prison if convicted. I don’t think that’s nearly enough. I hope the French government can help those people get their money back. It’s a sad statement about our society in general to me; the good keep trying to trust and the bad keep taking advantage.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Caution: Thin ice

I’m moving slow this morning. I haven’t done much other than read my morning news. It was quite the night last night. I’ll write about that on my Happy At Home site though.

The story I wanted to talk about today involves ice. It’s been really warm here. As a matter of fact it’s already 62 degrees outside and it’s only 8:30 a.m. I almost forgot it was still wintertime in many places.

In Oak Harbor Ohio it’s definitely still winter. Lake Erie is frozen over in many places. People go out on that ice and fish. I personally think those people are a little crazy but whatever makes you happy.

Apparently there was a crack in the ice that fishermen had built a sort of bridge out of wooden pallets to cross. The ice shifted; the pallets fell into the water. There were a total of 135 people now trapped on the ice. Several people panicked trying to find a way back to shore, two of which fell into the freezing water. One of those men died from a heart attack after he had been pulled out of the water. 134 people were rescued.

I repeat, I think those people are a little crazy. But I guess the fishermen agree with me. One of them was quoted as saying “I thought we could get away with it for today. When you’re crazy for fishin’ I guess, and the fish are biting, I just couldn’t resist it.” Yep, crazy.

On another note the rare 1937 Bugatti that I told you about went to auction in Paris yesterday. It did indeed bring in a fortune like they thought it would. The Type 57S Atalante sold for $4.4 million. Now that’s a good day!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

An end, an Elvis and a loss

Of course you know the first story that caught my eye while reading my morning news was about PCA (Peanut Corp of America). Federal officials now say PCA intentionally sent out products that were contaminated with salmonella. I’ve been trying to tell people but I guess those particular people don’t read my blog.

The story also said that the USDA was one of PCA’s biggest clients. While USDA officials did regularly visit the plant in Blakely Georgia, they were not trained in food safety and basically did no more than read reports while they were there. This week the USDA ended their business connection to PCA. Peanut butter from that plant was sent out for use in free lunch programs in California, Minnesota and Idaho.

As of today the salmonella outbreak has caused 575 illnesses in 43 states and at least 8 deaths. There are now 1679 products on the recall list.

The second story that caught my eye today came out of Florida and involves Elvis. That’s really what caught my eye. The first line of the story read “Elvis has left the vehicle.” I had a giggle and just had to read the whole story.

The 46 year old man named Elvis Alonzo Barrett racked up quite a few traffic violations. More than 50 actually. All in the same day.

Apparently his license had been suspended and he panicked when officers tried to pull him over. Police chased him during which time he ran red lights, crashed into a fence and into another car. He received tickets for everything from possession of a crack pipe all the way down to not wearing his seat belt.

The last thing I really paid attention to before starting my daily blogs was my Dead or Alive feed. James Whitmore has died at the age of 87 from lung cancer. He was an actor. He appeared in the films The Asphalt Jungle, Give ‘em Hell, Harry, and many others. My favorite movie that he performed in was The Shawshank Redemption.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The more I see, the more I love Barack Obama

So yesterday I spent a lot of time online. I know. What else is new? I have so many different sites online that I forget about them. Like Twitter. I’ll go weeks in between posting something on Twitter. Sometimes I just post nonsense; sometimes I post things that are important to me.

I actually remembered my Twitter because Barack Obama started following me. I’ll wait a minute while you either start breathing or quit laughing…

Now I don’t know if it’s really our President sending out ‘What are you doing?’ messages but it is someone affiliated with the government. I can tell because of three things. 1. They have 241,290 followers. 2. The updates are all government related. And 3. They follow everyone that follows them including tons of other government agencies.

I found Obama through the FDA twitter page. I follow them for what should be obvious reasons (if it’s not just read yesterday’s post).

So I posted my Twitter message for this morning: Getting ready to write…as usual :) and then I went to read my morning news as usual. I know, I know; that isn’t what I said I was doing in my message but I would be writing soon and probably about one of the news stories I came across so really I was getting ready to write.

That’s when I saw the story on Obama. It said he was fired up. It said he ditched the teleprompter and basically went off on people. My first thought was Yes! Finally! A man that will fight for us!

I saw there were some videos next to the article but I finished reading first. The story gave me hope. Hope for our country. Hope for our future. Obama was quoted as saying “We’ve inherited a mess. It’s our job to clean it up.” I believe he can do it too. Every day that passes; every speech I hear; every story I read shows me that he can do it.

Then I watched the video. It gave me goose bumps. It really did. Obama is just so inspiring. And he’s real. He doesn’t try to act like a politician. He doesn’t try to be anything that he’s not. I’m just so impressed with that.

I’m not real sure if I have a point today. I think I just wanted to brag on our new President a little. I’m proud of him. I want to grab everyone I see and say “Don’t you just love Barack Obama?!” I know not everyone I grabbed would agree with me but I bet many of them would.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In case you missed it

I’ve been ranting now for a couple of weeks about the Peanut Corp. of America (PCA) and their Blakely Georgia plant. I’m sorry to tell you that I’m not done ranting yet. And now Washington has joined me on my rant.

Lawmakers met today to discuss the issue and they are upset. They wanted to know how food makers and state health inspectors are allowed to keep negative test results to themselves. And yes, that’s true. Federal laws do not require companies or state officials to report their findings to the federal government. They don’t have to say one word. They have even gotten away with operating a plant that the government is unaware exists. Right here in Texas the PCA owned a plant that was not licensed, registered or inspected for four years. They only discovered that plant after this outbreak.

One senator (Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat-Vermont) was quoted in the AP story as saying he’d “like to see some people go to jail”. Well welcome to my world. Why are you so late?

The list of recalled products is growing. According to the AP story it has passed 1000 products now. I couldn’t possibly list them here, but if you’d like to check it (I know I did) you can click here.

Thanks to the Electronic Freedom of Information Act we are entitled to view the records from the inspections that were made by the FDA after the discovery of salmonella in PCA products. I read every word of it. If you’d like to read it yourself you can click here but I’ll give you a summary. (Note that it’s a PDF file and Adobe Reader will be required to view it.)

Let me start out by saying it’s disgusting. The way that this plant was run and maintained, or rather not maintained, is just pathetic.

Salmonella was found and documented in 12 different instances. But that’s actually not the worst part of the report.

The line that the Salmonella Typhimurium (the strain of salmonella that is making everyone ill right now) was found on was not cleaned after the discovery of the bacteria. To make that worse the company continued to manufacture peanut products using that line all the way up until the FDA came in to inspect the plant on January 9. After people had died.

The roaster that was supposed to wipe out any microbiological contamination was set up improperly. The temperature was not set hot enough to kill the salmonella and the belt that moved the peanuts through the roaster was set to the wrong speed not allowing the roaster enough time to kill the salmonella. Oh but it gets worse.

Raw product was stored next to product that was ready to be packed up. There were 2000 pound containers sitting next to each other that were impossible to tell apart. Plus those containers were within 15 feet of a crack in the floor where salmonella was found.

Salmonella was also found on the cooler floor just 3 feet away from finished products and mold was found on the cooler’s walls and ceiling. They said the fans in the cooler were leaking water and pallets of finished product were sitting directly underneath that unit. The ceiling in the entire plant leaked either air conditioner ‘water’ or rain water and products were below all the places leaks occurred.

Worst of all it says that the day they first went into the plant there was a build up of product residue on all of the equipment (grinders, hoppers, and the line) that was allowed to remain there and product continued being produced around it. That there was a “slimy black-brown residue” on a conveyer belt and that pieces of a yellow & black caution sign were flaking off into products.

It also mentions several other things (holes in the ceiling and roaches for two) but honestly I’m just way too grossed out now to continue telling you about it. I’m just stunned. I’m almost stunned speechless. That’s hard to do.

I’m glad the PCA and their dirty ways have been brought to the attention of Washington legislators. I hope they are able to find PCA guilty of something criminal. I know they are criminals. I’m not actually as worried about that part of it as much now. Now what I’m worried about is how many other plants are out there doing business in the exact same way PCA was; especially food manufacturers. Just what am I supposed to eat? Is any of it safe?

How much can YOU spare?

Have you ever gotten one of those emails that starts out Dearest One? The ones I mean always come from Zimbabwe or some other far off land. At least they’re far away from where I live.

They either go two ways these emails. They say you have won such and such an amount and just give us your information and we’ll be happy to deposit this money in your account. Oh, by the way, just one small thing. We need you to pay a fee in order for us to send you the money. That’s not a problem right? Or they say we desperately need your help and can’t you just send something? My father was unjustly… My brother is being held unjustly… (Just fill in the blank with some horrible country/government/prison/accusation and we’re in business.) Those second emails always like to invoke the name of God in some way. We’ll be praying for you. God bless you. God loves you. Well thank you.

I know God loves me. I appreciate you asking Him to bless me. I even thank you for praying for me even though I’m not real sure what someone I’ve never talked to would pray for on my behalf. It’s still a nice thought. Oh, I’m sorry, what? You want me to give you money? I forgot that part…

This morning I was reading a story from the odd news section that I have on my homepage and it made me think of those emails I receive by the boxful every day (I’m glad they aren’t actual letters and are just on my computer. I think my mail lady would refuse to come to my house if they were real letters. I get that many). A man in Beijing has been arrested for swindling an American out of $109,700.

Now the story doesn’t say that he used emails to bilk this caring, kind person out of what was probably their life savings. But it reads exactly like many of the emails I’ve received in the past.

He told his victim (that’s the only way I can seem to see this poor person that lost so much) that during the Nationalists’ rule of China he was a provincial governor. He went on to say that he had government connections and that those connections could help to unfreeze assets that were being held in the United States. He just needed a little help. Money. Big surprise there huh?

Obviously they sent the money otherwise this story would never have been written. I don’t understand how they thought it was a real thing. A little research could have given them all the answers (like the fact that the Nationalists’ rule of China ended in 1949 when the Communists took over power). If we were talking about my money I would know every detail of every step. I’m stingy like that. I just don’t like to part with my money.

In a sad twist (at least sad to me) the man that did the scamming is 99 years old. 99! What in the world would a 99 year old need with that much money? I know people live past that age but come on, it’s more likely that he won’t be around too much longer than it is that he’d be living the high life on other people’s money. Can you see a 99 year old out on the town partying it up? I certainly can’t.

The Chinese courts did take his age into consideration. He was released on bail and allowed to go home. The interview by officials was done at his house rather than making him go to court. They will have a trial though and if this man is found guilty he could face 10 years in prison. That would be a terrible way to end your life. I find myself feeling sorry for him a little. But then I remember what he did and my heart goes out to the person that lost their money. I think it’s just a lose-lose situation and I feel sorry for everyone involved.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Keep your eyes open: Children playing

When my children were younger I was a very paranoid mother. If they got out of my sight for even a second I panicked. Visions of horrendous accidents filled my head and wouldn’t leave until I found whichever child was missing.

My paranoia didn’t end there. I completely baby proofed my house. I had plastic covers on all the outlets. I kept all the chemicals locked up in a cabinet that was well out of their reach. I wouldn’t even keep our medications in the medicine cabinet. They were stored on the top shelf of our bedroom closet in a box. Like I said, I was paranoid.

When Christina was around 4 we got a great deal on one of those old International Harvester refrigerators. You know the ones. The have a big latch on the front that locks into place. I think it was made around 1947.

It was a monster refrigerator. That scared me. I remembered something about the company no longer making them because of the dangers of people being trapped inside. Specifically I remembered that if you wanted to take your old I.H. refrigerator to the dump you were required to remove the door. There was no way to open it from the inside unlike modern day refrigerators that can just be pushed open.

The idea that my child could get inside and be trapped wouldn’t leave my head. Eventually I bought a padlock and kept the refrigerator locked at all times. Everyone thought it was a big pain but it made me feel better.

I had actually forgotten all about that old refrigerator and my fears that went with it until I came across a heartbreaking story out of California while reading my morning news today. It involved both a 4 year old and an appliance.

The girl and her 15 month old brother were playing. For some reason the 4 year old decided to climb into a front loading washing machine. Then her brother turned it on. Tragically the girl died.

Her mother found her in the running, water filled washing machine around 2 minutes later. The spokesman for the Orange County sheriff’s office said that the switch to start the machine was a simple push button. They have ruled it an accidental death.

I can not even begin to imagine what that mother is feeling right now. I believe I would have trouble even going on. It would have that profound of an effect on me.

And I never even thought about front loading washing machines being a danger. When I’ve gone to laundrymats, I’ve seen children running around and playing. I’ve even seen them stick their heads into the washers. It never crossed my mind that they would think it was a good place to get inside. I don’t know why I didn’t think that. It’s natural behavior for children to be curious. And I think those years between 1 and 6 are the most curious. They don’t have fear yet. They just want to see what’s in there. Or what that does.

I’m just so sorry for that California family. I wish this didn’t happen. But because it has I’m now looking at washing machines in a different light. Maybe the appliance manufacturers need to see them in a different light too. Maybe they need to look at their products and reevaluate their safety features so no further tragedies occur.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One down, one to go

Riley Ann Sawyer was two years old when she was brutally murdered. She was beaten with belts, thrown across the room and dunked into a tub full of cold water. Her battered lifeless body was then stuffed in a trunk, hidden in a storage shed and then later thrown into the ocean. Who would do such a thing to a precious child? According to prosecutors in Galveston County it was her mother and her step-father.

After two hours of deliberation a jury found Kimberly Dawn Trenor guilty of capital murder. Trenor’s husband Royce Clyde Zeigler II is still jailed and awaiting his trial.

Trenor claims she did not kill her daughter. She says it was all Zeigler. Jury members were not swayed by her testimony. Randall Rothschild, the jury foreman, said emotion did not play a role in the verdict and they believe justice was served. I completely agree.

When the remains of the toddler were first discovered on Galveston Island my heart went out to whomever the baby belonged to. I felt so sorry for the family of the baby they had dubbed “Baby Grace”. I thought some terrible person had taken this child, tortured her and then cast her away like she was a piece of trash. I never imagined it was her own mother that was the guilty person.

Then several weeks after the trunk containing little Riley’s body had washed up on shore, Riley’s grandparents saw an artists sketch on TV and called authorities because they believed the picture looked liked their granddaughter. Sadly they were right.

Trenor received life in prison without the possibility of parole. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. It is required to prove that the person on trial would be a future danger to seek the death penalty and they didn’t believe they could prove that. That’s something I just don’t understand. If they’ve killed once isn’t that enough? I could see if it was a case of accidental death but this certainly was not. Riley was attacked and murdered out of anger. There’s nothing accidental about that. If I had my way, Trenor would be sitting on death row.

On the web: Texas jury convicts mother in 'Baby Grace' slay

Monday, February 2, 2009

Two disappointments in a row

I would like to tell you about my disappointments today. One was actually last night but I decided to tell you about them both this morning. I think I’ll start with today’s disappointment.

It’s Groundhog Day!

Let me just tell you I can not say those words without images of Bill Murray drifting through my head. I just loved that movie and I loved the idea behind it. Who wouldn’t want to be able to live each day over until you got it right?

Punxsutawney Phil, the seer of seers and prognosticator of prognosticators, resides in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania. Each February 2nd he leaves his hole on Gobbler’s Knob to predict our weather. If he sees his shadow and returns to his hole we can expect six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, an early spring. This year he saw his shadow. Get ready for the cold to continue. That’s disappointing.

My second (or first if we’re sticking to the times they occurred) disappointment was the Superbowl. It really bored me. And I was disappointed in the commercials too. I look forward to those every year. I think if you’re going to spend $3 million dollars for a 30 second commercial it should at least keep my attention. But I did enjoy a few of them… Ok, I enjoyed two of them out of I don’t know how many. So I repeat: disappointing. I'll leave you with the two I did enjoy though...

I am an animal lover and this commercial just made me giggle.

One of my favorite commercials from back in the day was the Mean Joe Green/Coke commercial. I remember it to this day. Last nights Coke commercial was a spoof of that Mean Joe Green commercial. I thought it was funny.

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