Friday, May 30, 2008

Niños de Baja News

I'm on the Missions Committee at my church, and one of the missions we've supported for a long time is Niños de Baja, located in the town of El Porvenir, outside Ensenada.

While I was going through that stack of papers, I came across the April, 2008, newsletter from Niños. This article was in there. It quotes a letter from an adoptive mother. She is a Mexican woman, not an American, and her letter was written in Spanish and translated into English for the newsletter.


Abandoned in a park swing at 3 months, Andrea was one of our first babies [at the new orphanage]. Blonde and blue-eyed, she was a very serious baby who preferred to observe things from afar. Over the next year and a half, we watched as she slowly began to come out of her shell. Our director, Raquel, had a special relationship with her, and Andrea was a very bright student whose abilities far exceeded her age level. Andrea was adopted last September by a very loving couple who had adopted another girl earlier. The adoptive mother was so impressed by the level of care that Andrea had been given by Niños de Baja--such a contrast to what her first daughter experienced--that she sent us the following letter to express her gratitude:

"We adopted our first daughter, Anel, when she was 4 months old. When she came to us, she was extremely ill with the flu, bronchitis, and the chicken pox. She didn't want to eat and had symptoms of anorexia. At 5 months, she couldn't turn over or sit up, and her motor skills were very limited. She was a very small baby even though the discharge papers from the hospital said she had been born very healthy and had a good birth weight. I have friends who have also adopted, and after spending more than a year in the 'Albergue' (Mexico's home for children while they wait to be placed in an orphanage) their children also have arrived visibly uncared for, leading us to believe that they are not well attended there.

"We always said we would like to have two children, so when Anel turned 4 years old, we turned in our papers for another girl. Adopting Andrea was a completely different experience. Unlike Anel, she knew and missed the people who had cared for her, which made it difficult for everyone. When we went to get her in Ensenada, they first told us about her background, and then they gave us a letter from the orphanage. It told us what foods she liked and didn't, but more importantly, it said that the best way to approach Andrea was calmly and quietly (which was very difficult for us). When they brought Andrea in, our eyes filled with tears. We decided that I would hold her first, so they gave her directly to me. She didn't cry once, but I'll never forget how serious and how very tense she was. On the way back to Tijuana we talked to her but she only would shake her head yes or no. Once we arrived home, her expression changed when she saw the toys and our dog, which in that moment, became her pet. She began to relax when she saw Anel, her new sister. Since I had held her first, she attached herself to me so much that she wouldn't let me out of her sight, or she would cry with such anguish that it still hurts us. The adjustment was a bit slow, but we believe that she has now adapted to our family and friends, and she enjoys being with everyone.

"All of us were very surprised at how advanced Andrea was. Her overall abilities, especially her very large vocabulary, her knowledge and understanding of things that generally children her age haven't mastered--all of which she could only have learned with a lot of time and dedication. This told us she had been very well cared for in the orphanage.

"We can't thank enough all the people that fed her, cared for her, bathed her, taught her, and above all, gave her love and supplied her emotional needs that we were not able to do at that time. From the day we were told that Andrea would come to us, we asked God for her to be in a place that could meet all her needs--that she would be a healthy child who was loved and cared for. Now that we have had telephone contact with the orphanage, we realize that it's not at all like the Albergue, where children just pass through; that at the orphanage they worry about the children, truly care for them and that the caregivers suffer too when they are adopted, even though they know it's best for the child.

"Thank you for taking care of our baby when she needed it the most. Thank you for all! May God bless all of you!"

This is what it's all about: making the world better one child at a time, one family at a time.

Golf Quotes

I can't remember what book I found these in. It must have been one of those motivational books. I was going through a pile of papers, and I came across a couple Starbuck's napkins with these quotes written on them.

Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill designed for that purpose.

--Winston Churchill

On success:

Hit the ball hard. Go find it. Hit it again.

--Arnold Palmer

This one wasn't on a napkin:

Golf is the kind of game where the worse you are, the more practice you get.


Back when I played, I got lots of practice.

Photos from Reuters

Yesterday I was reading an article in Reuters and, as I tend to do, I stopped to look through their top photos of the past 24 hours. Several of them caught my eye, some serious, some less so.

Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai prays during the funeral of Sherperd Jani, MDC treasurer for Mashonaland East province, in Murehwa, about 80km (50 miles) east of Harare, May 28, 2008. Jani, a senatorial candidate for the Murehwa area in the recent elections, was abducted last Wednesday by suspected war veterans and members of the ruling party militia and his body was found on Saturday, according to local media.

REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

I've written about the aftermath of the March presidential elections in Zimbabwe, as well as the alleged delivery of Chinese weapons to Mugabe.

Morgan Tsvangirai is a brave man. To stand in opposition to Robert Mugabe is to risk assassination. Even if he survives until then, I doubt he will have enough supporters remaining in Zimbabwe when the runoff election comes at the end of June.

Parents cry over the picture of their child who died during the May 12 earthquake at a funeral home in Dujiangyan, Sichuan province May 28, 2008.


Hugh Hewitt has another heartbreaking picture from China here.

I can't imagine losing a child, but to lose your only child has to be a thousand times worse. And each one of these parents has lost their only child. The only good news is that China has lifted its one-child policy for parents who lost their children in the earthquake.

Now for a lighter note:

Army Specialist Robert Carpenter (L) kisses his girlfriend Jenna Kitzmiller after proposing to her under a U.S. flag at the Utah national Guard airport in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 28, 2008 after he returned from a year's service in Iraq with the Utah's 145th National Guard Unit.

REUTERS/George Frey

That one needs no extra comment.

An anti-riot policeman takes a photo of himself before the first leg semi-final Copa Libertadores soccer match between Argentina's Boca Juniors and Brazil's Fluminense on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 28, 2008.

REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Maybe I'm technologically inept, but it seems to me the caption has it wrong. Isn't this policeman taking a picture of someone else? On my cell phone, the camera is mounted on the back, not the push-button side.

Finally, there's this:

Spanish matador Jose Tomas is tackled by a bull during a bullfight at Los Califas bullring in Cordoba May 28, 2008.

REUTERS/Javier Barbancho

VERY lucky man!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Growing Old

I'm not the one growing old. Not yet, anyway.

When I was getting my Bachelor's degree in Psychology, my professor for Adulthood and Aging showed us a study (I couldn't find it online) that had been done on college football players (presumably in the off-season). They took these in-shape guys and subjected them to three weeks of bedrest, during which time their vital functions and other medical things were examined.

By the end of three weeks, these guys had aged (as I recall) over ten years. They experienced bone loss, nasal congestion, blood pooling on the bottom-side of their bodies, aching joints, and some muscle atrophy. But the result that surprised me most was that their insulin levels went haywire, and they showed signs of pre-diabetes.

There were other results that I don't remember, but the net result was that these in-shape football players had the symptoms we normally associate with old age. And my professor's point in showing us this study was that the "ravages of old age" are really the ravages of inactivity. We improve our chances of having a healthy retirement by getting off our rear ends now and staying off them.

One of the prime examples of this is a lady I know from my church. She's a sweetheart who I met several years ago when I led a GriefShare group not long after my friend's husband died while we were all on vacation together. This lady had lost her husband about the same time.

She's now coming up on her 83rd birthday, and she keeps busy. She goes to ukelele class at the senior center and has recently learned to tap dance.

For her 80th birthday, she went skydiving. (Better her than me!) And she plans to celebrate her 83rd birthday by taking trapeze lessons. Yes, the circus kind of trapeze.

By comparison, I'm the old lady, and she's not.

So let that be a lesson. Growing old is a state of mind--and a stillness of body.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Obama's Memorial Day Mistakes

Senator Barack Obama made two classic blunders yesterday, both of which were highlighted by Michelle Malkin.

For starters, Obama--in a breach of long-standing policy--was the first government official ever to confirm that zombification is indeed real, and it has been used on our war veterans. Here is the video (in the first 10 seconds):

The other mistake is confirmation of another kind.

He has no clue.

Ace of Spades HQ posted today about this one, and many of the commenters dove into the details.

Barack Obama has no uncles who would have fought as part of the American military during WWII. The uncles on his father's side are Kenyan, not American. His mother is an only child, so she couldn't supply Barry with uncles. But there was a great-uncle who served in the American Army in WWII, and considering that I called my great-great-aunt, "Aunt Agnes," I'll give him the "uncle" name for a great-uncle.

But Auschwitz? Come on!

The Soviets liberated Auschwitz and all the other death camps that were still operating in Poland in 1945. The Americans fought the Germans in Western Europe and never got east of Germany (for the geographically challenged, Poland is east of Germany, so our troops didn't get there).

According to CrankyProf (comment #134), the Americans liberated Buchenwald, Dachau, Dora Mittlebau, Flossenburg, and Mauthausen. It's hard to mix those up with Auschwitz. Unless the person doesn't know his history or geography and thinks that nobody else does either.

One of the commenters had read Obama's book that said his uncle came back from WWII, never having seen combat. But in Obama's Memorial Day Q & A, he mentioned the PTSD his uncle suffered that forced Uncle Auschwitz into the family attic for six months. That uncle must have had an extremely low tolerance for stress.

But wait! There's an update already. Barack Obama has clarified his misstatement about his uncle.

As suspected, it was his great-uncle he had in mind, not his uncle, and the camp wasn’t Auschwitz but one of the ones Patton’s army liberated, namely, the Ohrdruf subcamp at Buchenwald. Look at the photos at Wikipedia and you’ll understand why he might have needed six months in the attic.

This still doesn't add up. Obama's grandfather was in Patton's army. If Uncle Auschwitz was also in Patton's army for the liberation of Ohrdruf of Buchenwald, then how did he qualify as "non-combat"? Too many different stories about the same man.

Too many mistakes by Obama about things a presidential hopeful should know.

Maybe Obama was zombificated. That would explain the poor brain functioning...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Tributes

The AP reported today on President Bush's tribute to the troops at Arlington National Cemetery.

"On this Memorial Day, I stand before you as the commander in chief and try to tell you how proud I am," Bush told an audience of military figures, veterans and their families at Arlington National Cemetery. Of the men and women buried in the hallowed cemetery, he said, "They're an awesome bunch of people and the United States is blessed to have such citizens."

"From faraway lands, they were returned to cemeteries like this one where broken hearts received their broken bodies," Bush said. "They found peace beneath the white headstones in the land they fought to defend. It is a solemn reminder of the cost of freedom that the number of headstones in a place such as this grows with every new Memorial Day."

He eulogized all U.S. troops who have died in service to the nation, but particularly those who lost their lives this past year.

He singled out Army Spc. Ronald Tucker of Fountain, Colo., who died less than a month ago in Iraq in a bomb attack that occurred as he returned from helping build a soccer field for Iraqi children. The president also spoke of two Navy SEALs, Nathan Hardy of Durham, N.H., and Michael Koch of State College, Pa., who often headed into battle wearing American flags on their chests under their uniforms. The two died Feb. 4 in Iraq and are buried side-by-side at Arlington.

"I am humbled by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice that allow a free civilization to endure and flourish," Bush said. "It only remains for us, the heirs of their legacy, to have the courage and the character to follow their lead and to preserve America as the greatest nation on Earth and the last, best hope for mankind."

Other tributes:

A roundup, posted by Mrs. Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette (HT: Hugh Hewitt).

Michelle Malkin's post, Remembrance, gratitude, fortitude.

The list of Medal of Honor winners. It's sorted by war or campaign (HT: The Hedgehog Blog).

And this beautiful video by Wordsmith from Nantucket at Sparks from the Anvil:

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Noises in my House

As I was having breakfast, I heard some unusual thumping noises coming from another part of the house. My mind went on instant alert until it identified the sounds.

That's right. My daughter moved back in with me last night. I couldn't be happier.

Let the noises continue!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Something is Wrong

I live in Southern California. It's the second half of the month of May. And it's raining.

I heard the rain coming about 30 seconds before it started landing on the sidewalk outside the window. It's the kind of rain that falls without wind, big drops that leave space between them at first then fill in the gaps in short order.

It's the kind of rain that doesn't belong in Southern California in May. But it's here.

It's welcome, but it's just not right.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Balancing the Federal Budget

I heard a blurb on the radio news when I was listening to Hugh Hewitt's radio show. They said there's a new online game where you try to balance the federal budget. The game is here (warning: it makes noise).

I haven't played the game yet, but it reminds me of something I heard many years ago. They (the "they" that says things) said that somebody-or-other got together quite a few different groups of randomly ordinary citizens and put them to work on the federal budget. Each time, the citizens did the hard work of trimming excess from the budget. They attacked Social Security and all the big, bloated Departments of Wasteful Spending that Congress hasn't been able to bring themselves to touch reduce in decades. They did things to the budget that Everyone In The Know is certain the public wouldn't allow. And the organizers of the project were amazed at how beautiful the results were. Every single time.

So the questions that remain are:

Do we want a balanced federal budget? Do we want to see waste cut from the budget in a big way? Do we want an end to unconscionable earmarks for pointless projects whose only purpose is to get spoiled Congressmen and Senators re-elected?

If so, the answer is to put the budgeting process into the hands of random citizens who serve on a one-time basis. The President can tell the group what his proposals are, and the House and Senate Republicans and Democrats can make their cases as well. Then the group can go to work and present the results to Congress--and the press--for approval.

How we're supposed to get the system changed to this new method, though, is beyond me.

Teach Your Parrots Well

Photo credit: AP

The AP reported today about finding a lost parrot in Japan.

When Yosuke the parrot flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught — recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

If you have pets that can talk, teach them their name and address.

Oh, and teach your kids, too.

Thomas Sowell's Summer Reading List

Thomas Sowell's syndicated column yesterday provided a summer reading list.

Some parents who are concerned about their children receiving a steady diet of liberal-left indoctrination in schools and colleges regard the summer vacation as a time to show these young people a different way of looking at things, with readings presenting viewpoints that are unlikely to be heard in classrooms that have become indoctrination centers.

Fortunately, there is a growing body of literature— both books and articles— presenting a very different viewpoint in readable language.

Here are the books he recommends:

Best-Laid Plans, by Randal O'Toole, "gives a richly documented account of government actions and their consequences."

Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg, reveals "that the original fascism was in fact a doctrine having far more in common with the left than with conservatism."

A Bound Man, by Shelby Steele, "gives both facts and insights [about Barack Obama] that will take the reader far deeper than most media accounts."

Basic Economics, by Thomas Sowell. "Apparently many people find it easier to understand than most economics books"

Economic Facts and Fallacies, by Thomas Sowell, "looks in-depth at fallacies about such things as housing, income, race, sex discrimination, the economics of academia and the Third World."

Of course, you don't need to be a student to benefit from these books.

Let the summer begin...

Zimbabwe Gets Arms Shipment

Darn! Double darn!!

The Age (Australia) reported yesterday that the shipment of Chinese arms reached Zimbabwe.

ZIMBABWE'S regime appears to have been strengthened before a presidential election with a shipment of arms from China.

Reports said the weapons, including 3 million bullets, mortar bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, had been unloaded from the Chinese vessel, the An Yue Jiang, at the Angolan port of Lobito and flown to Harare.

The ship had been the focus of international condemnation when it sailed towards South Africa last month. It was refused docking rights and remained off the coast for weeks before the Chinese Foreign Ministry recalled it.

However, Zimbabwe's Deputy Information Minister, Bright Matonga, was quoted by South African newspaper The Weekender as saying the regime had the weapons. Two Zimbabwean ministers and senior army officers visited Luanda three weeks ago to negotiate the docking and unloading of the ship.

Presidential spokesman George Chiramba said in state-controlled newspaper The Herald that "the arms will be delivered to Zimbabwe, one way or the other".

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said confirmation of the delivery was "groundless rumour".

It's hard to know who to believe, the tyrannical-dictator liars or the other tyrannical-dictator liars. I'm disposed to believe that Robert Mugabe's regime received the weapons, because he really wanted them, and China really wanted him to get them.

Not that Mugabe needed them, considering how much damage he's done to the opposition party, driving many to flee the country--those who weren't beaten or killed first.

The reports [of the arms delivery] came days after the election commission in Zimbabwe announced that the delayed presidential run-off would take place on June 27. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change — whose leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, delayed his return to Zimbabwe at the weekend due to "credible" reports of an assassination attempt — said it feared the shipment would be used against those "whose only crime is rejecting dictatorship and voting for change".

The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, James McGee, warned that violence was making a fair second-round, run-off vote impossible. He said he had evidence that security forces had been involved in "pure, unadulterated violence designed to intimidate people from voting".

Tyrannical-dictator liars don't give up power without a serious fight, and damn the consequences.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Global Warming Confusion

Two stories are in the news today, and together they reflect the two sides of the global warming debate.

WorldNetDaily reported yesterday on scientists rejecting the global warming mantra.

More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. – including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties – have signed a petition rejecting "global warming," the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth's climate.

"There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate," the petition states. "Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth."

Petition Project actually was launched nearly 10 years ago, when the first few thousand signatures were assembled. Then, between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign.

But now, a new effort has been conducted because of an "escalation of the claims of 'consensus,' release of the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth' by Mr. Al Gore, and related events," according to officials with the project.

In terms of Ph.D. scientists alone, it already has 15 times more scientists than are seriously involved in the U.N.'s campaign to "vilify hydrocarbons," officials told WND.

"The very large number of petition signers demonstrates that, if there is a consensus among American scientists, it is in opposition to the human-caused global warming hypothesis rather than in favor of it," the organization noted.

On the other hand, there's a disturbed scientist in Australia who is on the verge of an apoplectic fit over global warming. The Age (Australia) reported the story today.

SCIENTIST Tim Flannery has proposed a radical solution to climate change which may change the colour of the sky.

But he said it may be necessary, as the "last barrier to climate collapse".

Professor Flannery said climate change was happening so quickly that mankind might need to pump sulphur into the atmosphere to survive. Australia's best-known expert on global warming has updated his climate forecast for the world, and it's much worse than he thought just three years ago.

He has called for a range of radical emergency measures.

The gas sulphur could be inserted into the earth's stratosphere to keep out the sun's rays and slow global warming, a process called global dimming.

"It would change the colour of the sky," Professor Flannery said. "It's the last resort that we have, it's the last barrier to a climate collapse.

"We need to be ready to start doing it in perhaps five years' time if we fail to achieve what we're trying to achieve."

The 2007 Australian of the Year said the sulphur could be dispersed above the earth's surface by adding it to jet fuel.

He conceded there were risks to global dimming via sulphur: "The consequences of doing that are unknown."

Unknown??? Can you say, "sulfuric acid rain"? That's like shooting somebody to cure him of his head cold.

But then again, Flannery doesn't believe global warming is the earthly equivalent of a cold.

Professor Flannery, who spoke at a business and sustainability conference yesterday in Parliament House, Canberra, said new science showed the world was much more susceptible to greenhouse gas emissions than had been thought eight years ago.

Regardless of what happened to future emissions, there was already far too much greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, he said.

Cutting emissions was not enough. Mankind now had to take greenhouse gases out of the air. "The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change," Professor Flannery said.

"Everything's going in the wrong direction at the moment; timelines are getting shorter, the amount of pollution in the atmosphere is growing. It's extremely urgent."

As well as the global dimming plan, Professor Flannery said carbon should be taken out of the air and converted into charcoal, then ploughed into farmers' fields.

Wealthy people should pay poor farmers in tropical zones to plant forests, possibly through a direct-purchase scheme like the eBay website.

And all conventional coal-fired power stations that did not have "clean coal" technology should be closed by 2030.

Capturing carbon emissions from coal-fired power stations and storing them underground was a good idea, Professor Flannery said.

That's one who is very much on the side of catastrophic global warming. Plus Al Gore, who isn't a scientist. Plus the UN, which wants to run the world. And 31,000 who say it's not catastrophic and certainly not worth destroying the economy of the world because of it.

Whose side do you want to be on?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Home Run Helpers

My Sunday School teacher read us this AP story in class today from the May 1, 2008, local paper. I googled it and found this YouTube video. Grab a hanky first.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Obama and Shop Class

There are times when a really clever thought passes through my mind, I recognize the brilliance of it, and then I get distracted by something, and the thought is gone. I had one of those the other day, after President Bush spoke before Israel's Knesset and Sen. Barack Obama responded defensively (HT: Sparks from the Anvil).

Here is the pertinent portion of President Bush's speech:

Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.

And Obama's reaction:

The Illinois senator interpreted the remark as a slam against him but the White House denied that Bush's words were in any way directed at Obama, who has said as president he would be willing to personally meet with Iran's leaders and those of other regimes the United States has deemed rogue.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement his aides distributed. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

My brilliant thought was a memory from my childhood. My mom had Bill Cosby's album, Why Is There Air? and I remembered the punchline from the track, Shop. And then I forgot it before I had a chance to blog.

But See-Dubya, at Michelle Malkin's blog, remembered long enough to to post this. Brilliant!

Humpback Whale Designs

The Christian Science Monitor reported Thursday on a nature-inspired development.

When biologist Frank Fish spied a figurine of a humpback whale in a Boston gift shop and noticed the pointy bumps along its fins, he said, "That has to be wrong."

Photo credit: WhalePower

But when the shop manager produced a photograph that showed the leading edge of the long fins was indeed serrated like the teeth on a saw, Dr. Fish was intrigued and decided to investigate.

He discovered that these bumps, called tubercles, are this creature's secret weapon, allowing a whale the size of a school bus to make tight turns and capture prey with astonishing agility.

Fish, a biology professor at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, is now using this technology perfected by nature to produce fans with serrated blades that use 20 percent less electricity than traditional models. This finding contradicts conventional designs that strive for the smoothest possible edges.

Photo credit: WhalePower

Fish teamed up with a Canadian businessman to form WhalePower, a Toronto-based company that markets the technology. Envira-North Systems, Canada's largest supplier of industrial ceiling fans, with 75 percent of the market, recently licensed the design for a new line of fans that measure up to 24 feet in diameter.

"There was a 20 percent drop in energy use, a significant drop in noise decibels, and overall distribution of air was more even," says Envira-North CEO Monica Bowden. The increased efficiency also means the new fans will have five blades instead of 10, making them cheaper to manufacture.

I love stuff like this. The only bad part is that we have to wait until we can buy whale fans of our own.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Great Dane and Baby Deer

It's really hard to follow yesterday's Quote of the Day with a post complaining about the world. That sort of thing would say, "Failure!" I just can't do it. Yet. So I'll put a nice post in between as a buffer against blame.

Photo credit: Richard Austin

The Telegraph (UK) reported May 11, 2008, on an unusual adoption.

Doe-eyed Cindy would have been left all alone in the world were it not for the strong paternal instincts of the Great Dane, who is as protective of her as he is his puppies.

Staff at the Secret World Animal Rescue Centre in Highbridge, Somerset, have been caring for Cindy since she was found close to death when she was days old.

The 9st [126 lb.] dog towers over his spotted companion, who he gently nuzzles and accompanies on daily walks, ever watchful.

The two-week-old fawn returns the affection by rushing over to her trusted friend whenever she is in need of reassurance.

Come this autumn however, carers hope Cindy will be confident enough to leave her companion and join a herd of roe deer in the wild.

There's another great photo of Cindy and Rocky, the Great Dane, in the Telegraph article. What a dog!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quote of the Day

A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.

-- John Burroughs

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Enviro-Nazis Win

Pardon my language, but we're totally screwed.

The AP reported today that the polar bear has been officially listed as "threatened" by declining Arctic ice.

I've been following the story on Hugh Hewitt's blog over the past couple months, and his post today had the updated news that I linked above. Hugh is a law professor and an attorney who specializes in Endangered Species Act litigation on the side of the victims of ESA lawsuits (property owners who can't build a house on their land, because some endangered bug crawls across a corner of it), so he knows the ramifications of listing a species as threatened. Here's his summary:

The Endangered Species Act operates in a very unaccountable fashion, and if the polar bear is listed as a "threatened" species, every federal action --the grant of a permit, the award of a grant-- that leads even indirectly to the emission of greenhouse gases will come under at least the theoretical review of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA. MSM continues to report the controversy as though its impact will be limited to the arctic region, when in fact it is as likely to delay or destroy economic activity in any part of the lower 48 as it is in Alaska. (emphasis added)

This means that if an oil company wants to build a new refinery, which would bring down the price of gasoline, they may be stopped by the Fish & Wildlife Service, because the greenhouse gases would melt the Arctic ice and endanger the polar bears. New electric power plants could be stopped. New housing developments could be prevented. There could even come a time when increases to dairy and beef-cattle herds could be stopped. All to save the polar bear from getting wet when the ice melts. (Did you know they're good swimmers? No? Didn't the enviros tell you?)

But the kicker is that this decision only affects the US. If Canada wants to build a new refinery, and that refinery would threaten the polar bear's ice, no big deal. It's only American companies that will be shackled and bound. It's only American jobs that will be lost.

The environmental extremists are out to destroy our economy by shoving the Kyoto Protocol through the back door, and the door they've chosen is the polar bear.

Hugh Hewitt lists two of his columns that provide more back ground on the topic:

First column.

Second column.

In the first, he quotes the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs calling for the listing of the polar bear:

"Even more critically, because it is illegal to harm threatened species or jeopardize their survival, the polar bear listing could mean that all U.S. industries emitting large quantities of greenhouse gases — and requiring a federal permit to do so — will come under the purview of the Endangered Species Act. From polluting power plants in the Midwest to auto manufacturers, a vast array of industries may have to clean up their acts to give the polar bear a chance to survive.”

That's what they want. The economy is barely hanging on by its fingernails, so this is an especially bad time for this ruling, but the zealots don't care. Now the lawsuits will start slugging unsuspecting industries and their employees upside the head. Watch out!


Michelle Malkin is also covering the story.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Making Humans Extinct

WorldNetDaily reported Sunday on an environmental movement.

"May we live long and die out" is the unofficial motto of a movement that seeks to improve the Earth's ecosystem by ensuring that the human species does not survive.

The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement, or
VHEMT, consists of volunteers who have made active life decisions to remain childless for the benefit of the Earth, thereby preventing the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals.

While no one person takes credit for being the founder,
Les U. Knight created its name and is the spokesperson for the movement.

"We've already exceeded Earth's carrying capacity for humans by quite a bit," Knight told WND.

"We are using up our resources. The best way to stop it is by not breeding. It's really the best way because the people we don't create don't exist, and so there's no impact on them."

VHEMT activists believe a smaller population will benefit the Earth by reducing human and environmental catastrophe.

The nice thing about the VHEMT folks is their desire to reduce the human population to extinction gradually. They're happy to have people choose not to reproduce.

Not like some, who advocate the destruction of existing people.

I'm not sure I get what VHEMT wants. I mean, I understand the words they're using, but I don't see the point. What will it matter how clean the earth is, if there's nobody around to appreciate it?

And who will feed the dogs and cats and the cows and horses? If we leave our pets and all the rest of the animals to their own devices, it's not going to be pretty. There's a reason the literal translation of the French term for "wildlife" is, "savage animals." Mother Nature is a savage, and the destruction of animal life that will follow human extinction will only prove it (except that there will be nobody around to say, "See? I told you so!").

The extinction of animal species was happening long before mankind showed up on the scene, and it will continue long after we're gone (provided we decide to go away). VHEMT won't change that. All their plan will do is make the earth just one more rotating ball of rock and gas among billions of others. And the universe will lose music and art and beauty, love and wonder and joy.

It's a bad trade. I'm against it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obama Discovers New States

The Los Angeles Times blog has this video of Senator Barack Obama's discovery of eight to ten new states:

What a busy man! Between campaigning, digging his feet out of his mouth over the bitter small-town Americans, disowning (or not) his pastor, and conducting Senate business, he's still found time to go exploring.

Obama doesn't mention what he's decided to name the new states.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

I applied at my old company for a job with my first boss there, who manages a different group now. That was a couple weeks ago, and I hadn't heard anything. So I called her Friday to find out if they'd made a decision yet or not.

When she called me back, she said HR would be calling me sometime, then she told me about another opening with someone else I knew in the company. That person had been in charge of the group that my group interfaced with.

I called the second person and had a good conversation with her. She told me about the job and gave me the right number for the position opening so I could apply online. But before I applied, I decided to have lunch with someone who used to do that job and grill her on what skills were needed and what was fun and frustrating about the work that was required. That lunch was yesterday.

But right before I left for lunch, I finally got a call from HR to arrange an interview with my old boss, and we scheduled it for this morning.

Yesterday's lunch went well, and I decided the work would be a stretch for me, but in a good way, so I came home and submitted my application.

This morning was my interview with my old boss, and the work started sounding more fun than it seemed when I was thinking about taking the "stretch" job. But they still have more people to interview, and I won't hear anything until next week. So I've still got my irons in both fires, which should pay about the same salary.

Then tonight I got a call from a contracting agency, and there's an opening I qualify for. It would be a 4 - 6 month contract paying double what the other two jobs would offer, and it would be 10 miles farther from my house (about 20 - 30 minutes farther).

So many decisions, after so long with no options!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Black Widows

There's no way I'm going to post a picture of a black widow spider. I saw more than enough today.

A little over a week ago, I received a notice telling me I had two weeks to mow my weeds or I'd be fined (I have more weeds than grass). I hate mowing so much that I always wait until I get the notice before I do it again.

Mowing means that I have to get the weed-eater out of the shed, where spiders live unmolested much of the time. One time a year or two ago, I opened the shed doors and saw two black widows hanging on a web slung between the shed wall and my bicycle tire. Yuck! I went in the house and grabbed the Raid, but when I came back, one of the spiders had disappeared, so I doused the other one until it stopped moving.

Today when I opened the shed, I saw a suspiciously similar-looking web from the bicycle tire to the shed. But the spider on it was a daddy long-legs. Harmless. I did my usual routine of swinging the broom all around the inside of the shed to knock down any stealth spiderwebs, as well as the un-stealth webs. Then I noticed a small, round beige thing on the daddy long-legs web that could have been a seed pod but might have been an egg sac for spiders, so I hooked it on the broom and smashed it to bits on the cement.

The birthday present my daughter gave me last year (which I couldn't hang on the wall while my house was for sale--no personal items on display) was in the shed, protected by an old mattress pad. I picked it up by the mattress pad and pulled it out, leaning it against the shed, when I noticed a fat, shiny black widow sitting on the bottom part of the mattress pad. I stomped on it and left a brown smudge of spider guts on the white pad. Shudder! The mattress pad went in the trash.

Next was the weed-eater. I got it out and swept off the base, which had a couple webs on it. With it lying on its side, I swept out the underneath side as well, then swept the broom around on the cement to get off as many of the spiderwebs as I could. That's when another black widow came crawling out of the underside of the weed-eater--where I was about to stick my hands to pull out some of the string!

I stomped on that one too.

After that it went well, spider-wise. I weed-eatered, stopping frequently to pull out more string, because it was near the end, and the line was wrapped all over itself in the spool. I went off to Home Depot to get a replacement spool, and after I put it in, I could do the bump-button method of letting out more string. Perfect!

Until I bumped for more string and the shaft of the weed-eater broke in two. With at least a third of the yard still to go.

But right at that time, the maintenance guy was going by, so I asked him if he could finish the job--for a fee, of course. He doesn't speak much English, so we had a bit of a time making sure we understood each other. He swept his arm around toward all the weeds and said, "¿Todos?"

I said yes and showed him the little bit around the back corner of the house. He said he couldn't get to it until Saturday--"Mucho trabajo." I even knew what he meant.

So that was that. I pulled out my almost-new spool of string and threw the rest of the weed-eater in the trash, then put everything away--in the shed--until I need it again the next time they leave me the "Mow your weeds" memo.

Tonight I went off to a meeting, and when I was pulling back into my driveway afterwards, I saw a dark shape where I usually don't see one. I had seen something like it a night or two ago, but there wasn't anything there today when I was doing all the yard work. So I backed up until the headlights lit it up, and it was a spiderweb with a shiny, dark spot in the middle.

I parked, went in the house for the can of Raid and the broom, and came back out armed for trouble. I sprayed the spider until it was in a puddle of poison, writhing in agony. Then I came back in the house and locked the door. Just in case.

Monday, May 05, 2008

At the Mall

Not being much of a shopper, I don't go to the mall very often. But I went today for the leather goods store.

Yesterday my purse, which has two straps, broke where one of the straps attaches to the purse, leaving that strap dangling and me looking silly because of it. I didn't want to have to buy a new purse, so I figured the leather store was a good starting place for getting mine repaired or finding out who could do the job.

Naturally I don't have the mall memorized, so I checked the directory and went to the store. It was closed up. I asked about it next door at the boot store, and they said the leather shop closed two weeks ago. Not deterred, I asked the boot people if they knew where I could get my purse fixed, and they told me about a shoe repair place near Target.

I didn't go straight there, but wandered around the mall a bit. Quite a few women had bags from Bath & Body Works, but I didn't go there. I saw a place that sells accessories, including (for the summer, I suppose) some flip-flop-style of sandals. One pair in particular caught my eye.

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, those are mirrors.

Everybody knows that perverts and some idiot high school boys might try to stick a mirror on top of their shoes and stand close enough to give them a peek up some girl's dress. It's a disgusting practice. For the life of me, I can't figure out why a shoe manufacturer would produce shoes that make this even easier--and why a store would sell them. I took the picture and left.

Then I noticed See's Candies and went in there to get a couple pieces of chocolate. The ladies were really nice, and the store got crowded, although I'm not sure where everybody came from, because the rest of the mall was pretty deserted. There must be something going on, like maybe Mother's Day, to make See's and Bath & Body Works busy.

When I left See's, my innate sense of disorientation kicked in. I looked around and didn't recognize any of the stores I could see. I didn't remember which direction I had been going, so I didn't know which way to turn. Even chocolate couldn't solve that problem.

A lady was at the embroidery cart in the middle of the floor, so I asked her which way Victoria's Secret was, since that's the store by the entrance I came in, and she pointed in the opposite direction I would have gone. But before I could go that way, I spotted some pretty blue outfits in a store downstairs--not that I could afford to actually buy any of them--so I went there and talked to the sales girl about fashions and why the blue clothes don't have any sleeves.

Then I found the mall exit I needed (without asking again!) and went over to the shoe repair shop, where he fixed my purse for a pittance, and now I don't feel silly when I carry my purse.

It was a good morning of pleasant conversation with nice people and (except for the mirror shoes) some good window shopping. And the chocolates were fabulous.

Friday, May 02, 2008

May Day Wrap Up in Pictures

These photos are brought to you courtesy of the Reuters top photos of the last 24 hours.

People carry a giant flag with a photograph of Cuba's retired leader Fidel Castro during the May Day parade on Havana's Revolution Square May 1, 2008.


Swiss riot police officers help an elderly man who was injured during May Day protests in Zurich May 1, 2008.

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

An International Workers' Day rally is reflected in an advertising billboard in Kiev, Ukraine, May 1, 2008.

REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin

Riot police try to detain a demonstrator during May Day rallies in Santiago, Chile, May 1, 2008.

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

Love those May Day celebrations!

There were other celebrations going on as well that happened to take place yesterday, according to the Reuters photos. A "demonstration" with burning cars in Germany. A donkey festival in Mexico. A People's Liberation Army Camp Open Day in Hong Kong.

And finally, a water buffalo:

A local artist takes part in a water buffalo painting competition at the Binatbatan Festival in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, north of Manila, Philippines, May 1, 2008.


Between my birthday and all the celebrations, May Day was one busy day.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's My Birthday

And I have plans.

This is a good birthday cake. Chocolate. Notice the lack of nasty walnuts, which would have ruined it.

Photo source:

This is not a good cake.

Photo source:

Neither one of these is mine, and that's just fine with me.

Have a great day!