Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Tribute

This is from The WordSmith from Nantucket at Sparks from the Anvil.

May we never forget those who have given their lives in service to our country.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gulf Oil Photos

The Boston Globe has a series of stunning photos showing the effects of the oil on the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana coast. Here are two of them (click to enlarge):

A dragonfly tries to clean itself as it is stuck to marsh grass covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Garden Island Bay on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana near Venice on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Dr. Erica Miller, a member of the Louisiana State Wildlife Response Team, cleans a pelican of oil at the Clean Gulf Associates Mobile Wildlife Rehabilitation Station on Ft. Jackson in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, May 15, 2010. (REUTERS/U.S. Navy/Justin Stumberg)

Quote of the Day

“Any man who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.” --- H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Presidential Polling

He's fading fast. Again. Rasmussen's daily presidential approval index is back down into -20 territory.

At the same time, Rasmussen found that a record 63% want a repeal of Obamacare STAT.

I'm sure the President knows how lousy his numbers are looking right now, but I get the impression that he doesn't think we're smart enough to know that he knows what's best for us. And we'll just confirm our stupidity for him when we throw a bunch of his favorite, most loyal bums out come November. I bet it just sticks in his craw when he thinks of our ingratitude.

Yeah, craw-sticking. It's what's for dinner at the White House...

Arizona (Updated)

The changes in The Arizona Situation keep happening all the time. It's hard to know when to stop and comment on it all, because tomorrow will bring something new, so it might as well be now.

So, Arizona passes a law (text here) that is a whopping 17 pages long, including amendments and the cover page. This authorizes Arizona's law enforcement people to do the immigration enforcing that the Obama Administration won't do. It's way too long for the Obama Administration to actually stop and read it.

And of course, the Open Borders crowd doesn't like it, so Left-run cities start boycotting Arizona right and left (OK, not right, just left). Los Angeles. Seattle (but not Starbucks). San Francisco. San Diego does Boycott-Lite with a censure. And now Sacramento is moving in that direction as well.

The backlash is a thing of beauty. San Diego is hurt to the quick that Zonies think its censure is a true boycott and are canceling their vacations to San Diego's beaches in retaliation. And Los Angeles got a dose of boycott "cooperation" when an Arizona utility regulator offered to keep from sending L.A. the 25% of its electricity that it gets from the Grand Canyon State.

Not nearly as beautiful is the advertisement by the Mexican state of Sonora's tourism bureau:

¡Sign me up for a trip to Sonora right now!

Not to be outdone in anti-Arizona-ness by cities up and down the West Coast and by Mexican turismos, Obama's Department of Homeland Security declares it reserves the right not to do its job of processing the suspected illegal aliens handed over by Arizona under the new law. They say that checking on a suspect's immigration status is "not good government." I suppose thumbing your nose at America's citizens and legal immigrants is what constitutes good government in the eyes of ICE officials. At least now we know.

And the Democratic pop-up toys bounce to their feet when Mexican President Calderon slams Arizona during his speech before Congress. It's almost as inspirational when Obama does the same slamming of Americans himself. But even more inspirational is when our Assistant Secretary of State tells China "early and often" how horrible America is because of this law.

Does anybody in Washington besides Congressman McClintock get it? I have my doubts.

It may look like President Obama finally gets it, but he's really nothing more than Gesture Man, offering lip service and token action when his polling shows him backed into a corner. He's finally going to Do Something on the border: send 1,200 National Guard troops. It's not clear, though, if those troops will be patrolling the border in Arizona, or if Obama will just send them to California, where he's still got some supporters.

If I had some good vacation time, I might visit Arizona for a bit of dry heat. But that won't be happening soon. So I'll have to console myself with supporting businesses that are headquartered in Arizona. My favorite so far is Coldstone.


Now it comes out that Obama does not plan to use the 1,200 troops on the border for immigration enforcement at all. It seems they listened to Mexico's request that the troops be used to stop the smuggling of guns into Mexico and not for the prevention of illegal encroachment of our country by foreign nationals. Sheesh!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lee Like Never Before

I haven't said much about American Idol, besides the mention that I've been beyond ready for Casey to get sent home. This is only the second season that I've watched the show. The first season was two years ago, when Bekah was blogging about it and my curiosity got me to watch, and then I was hooked. I didn't watch last year because I had cancelled my cable in a budget-reduction effort.

This year, though, I'm back. My roommate has watched it since the early seasons, and so our mid-week bonding time is American Idol on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, DVR'd and watched after our respective Bible studies.

With this year's crop, I found myself liking quite a few of the contestants but not any particular standout. Most of them had great voices, but a few failed to deliver. Andrew was one of my least favorites, and he didn't get voted off quickly enough to suit me.

Casey's got a good voice, and he's good-looking but in the way that says he knows you know he's hot. The longer the season went, the more annoyed I was with both his smile and his lack of growth as a singer.

Meanwhile, my roommate took a liking to Crystal almost right away. Her voice is strong and distinctive, and she seemed to be by far the most confident of the top singers and able to deliver a great performance week after week. I loved what she did with Summer Wind, even though the judges didn't, and her rendition of People Get Ready made me cry. I was leaning toward wanting her to win. Until this week.

Until Lee.

Lee DeWyze came to the auditions from his job squirting colors into paint cans at a paint store. He started out the season singing well enough but with a terrible lack of confidence. It gave him a vulnerability that made me want to encourage him, while I hoped each week that he wouldn't get voted off before he could gain the strength he needed. His crooked smile, mixed with a touch of embarrassment, was endearing. But he needed to pick up his game if he had any hope of getting into the final weeks of the show.

He did. He made it to the top 3, and this was the week when they would have to sing twice: once with a song of their own choosing, and a second song selected for them by one or two of the judges.

Casey was OK. Crystal was really good. But Lee found his own this week. For his first song he sang Simple Man. Great. Way better than the other two. Even my roommate started thinking she liked him better than she liked Crystal.

Lee sealed the deal when he sang the song Simon chose for him. The singing starts at about a minute into the video.

Unless Crystal pulls a miracle out of her pocket and Lee crashes and burns next week, Lee is going to win. My roommate thinks so too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jury Duty

I had jury duty today. At juror orientation, they always play a video that tells about the importance and uniqueness of America's justice system with its jury trials. It's inspirational enough that it gets me choked up a little every time.

About half an hour after juror start time, one of the judges comes in and gives us a judge's perspective. Today's judge told us something I hadn't heard before, about the good that we do as jurors just by our seemingly endless waiting.

He told us that we get there at 8:00, and then at about 8:30 to 9:00, the attorneys and plaintiffs and defendants and everyone connected to the trials start arriving. They go through security right next to the jurors' lounge, and they see us there, ready to be selected to decide a verdict for their trial.

Just seeing us there, waiting, is enough to help light a fire under them, in the way a deadline can help get us to make a decision at the last minute. The judge said that our waiting serves a valuable purpose. As cases go to trial and juries are called for selection, and as the potential jurors are forced to wait, much of that waiting time is spent by the attorneys coming to an agreement rather than letting a group of twelve unknown people decide their fate.

It reminded me of the trial I was sent to a few years ago. It was a civil case about a dog attack, and the two parties had spent 4 or 5 years fighting about it and never coming to an agreement, until it finally went to trial. We spent most of the first day in jury selection, and they still hadn't found their twelve plus alternates when they sent us home and told us to come back at 9:00 in the morning. That next day, instead of calling us in to question more people, they left us cooling our heels for over an hour in the hallway, while several people grumbled about how we were being treated. Then the bailiff came out and told us the two parties had come to a settlement, and he thanked us and sent us home.

The judge this morning mentioned the jurors' grumbling as they wait. He said, "When you jurors are out waiting, we're in the courtroom watching TV and eating chips and drinking beer." We laughed. Then he got serious and said that while juries wait, they're doing what they can to speed the process along.

He gave the example of one trial he presided over lately, one that was expected to last six weeks. After the opening arguments, the judge sent the jury out of the room and called the attorneys forward. He told them that there were five points to be decided in the trial, but their opening arguments showed that they agreed on three of those points. He asked the attorneys how many of their 60 witnesses would be testifying about those three points of agreement. By having the jury wait in boredom and possible irritation for twenty minutes, the judge was able to get the trial cut from six weeks down to only three and a half weeks, but he couldn't tell the jury that until after the trial was over.

So, the next time you're sitting and waiting... and waiting on jury duty, just remember how important your waiting can be.

How did my waiting go? I wasn't picked for the first of four trials scheduled for today, so I waited until almost lunchtime. And then they announced that one of the trials wasn't ready for a jury yet, another one was delayed until next week, and the last trial came to a settlement, so we were free to go. I got my timesheet stamped and went to work for the afternoon. I'm glad all the crocheting I did while I waited helped the cause of justice today.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hugh Hewitt's Powerful Influence

I listened to Hugh Hewitt's radio show tonight after work and caught about the last half hour of the movies with Emmett of the Unblinking Eye. Tonight's Top 10 movie list was the ten best movies having to do with tests or contests. The part of the show I heard was when listeners call in to offer their suggestions of movies that should have been on the list instead.

When someone called in to suggest No Time for Sergeants and Emmett had to explain to Hugh just which scene had the test, Hugh commented that he had never seen Emmett laugh that much about a movie.

The last time I saw that movie, I was probably in high school. I enjoyed it, especially the scene where Andy Griffith performs his duties as PLO.

So tonight, after my roomie got home, I asked her to add No Time for Sergeants to her Netflix instant queue. It's plenty old to be downloadable, after all.

For some reason, though, this movie is only available on DVD. And when she went to add it to her DVD queue, it said it has a "very long wait."

A very long wait? Since when was No Time for Sergeants as popular on Netflix as a newly released movie?

I'll tell you since when. Since Hugh saw Emmett laughing about that movie and mentioned it on national radio.

And people think conservative talk shows have no influence...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

To all you moms, here's the Mom Song:

Have a wonderful Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Back So Soon?

Just when I realized it had been longer than I thought since I posted anything, my laptop did me wrong!

I'm sure I've mentioned before that the firewall at work keeps me from checking my emails or going to any social networking or personal forum sites, which is what it thinks most of our blogs are. It lets me get to the Big Name blogs, like the ones in my Working Group links (except for Power Line - it thinks that's a message board and won't let me near it), so at lunchtime whenever I bring my lunch to work, I read the Important (to me) News and Opinion sites.

When I find an article that grabs my attention, I paste the link into an email with the subject line, "Good Articles," and send it to myself at home. A few days ago I found some that were so alarming, I made my subject line, "Holy Cr@p! Articles," but that's very unusual.

But then I get home and I barely have enough time to eat some dinner before running out of the house for Bible Study or my Financial Peace University class (which just ended - I'm a university graduate!) or whatever else is going on, and then stopping at the grocery store afterward, because I seem to always be on the lookout for more bananas whose primary color is yellow and not green (and also whatever else I need). And then when I'm back at home again and (on Wednesdays anyway) have to watch and find out that stupid Casey STILL hasn't been voted off American Idol, and then I can sit down and check my email and the Forbidden Blogs, and then I'm too tired to muster up the ire to post even the most alarming news, because I still have to do all my bedtime things like prayer and Bible reading, and a little sleep would be nice too.

Now, back to where I started, which was the realization that despite all the other things I have to do, I really do want to carve out some time, so all those Good Articles don't become stale old news and so my (possibly misguided) pearls of wisdom can be thrown before swine and clean animals of all kinds.

Well, the other night, my computer did one of its regular automated updates, and for most of them it just tells me it's done and shuts up about it. But this was one of the ones where it pesters me to Restart Now or Restart Later, and of course I'm always in the middle of something, so I tell it to leave me alone now and Restart Later. That night, after I had finished what I was doing, I let it Restart Now, and I got in my jammies, and then I shut it down when it was done with the restart.

In the morning, after I booted up, it couldn't find the internet! I went to the icon on the lower right that looks like a speaker or an aerial view of an amphitheater but that has nothing to do with sound or theatrics (except for at that moment, when it was quite dramatic) but is for the wireless connection, and it said to double-click to find wireless networks.

I obediently did just that, and it opened up to show me my roommate's wireless network with all the bars. So I selected it and hit the Connect button, but instead of connecting, it told me, "Another application is controlling the wireless adapter." Huh?

So I tried the old, unused icon that looks like a monitor with wireless signals going out the side, and that one told me the computerese equivalent of "It's not MY job!" too. I unplugged my roommate's internet router and plugged it back in, just in case it had lost its ability to send the proper signals, but that didn't help any.

No internet! No ability to take my laptop to some "Free Wireless!" coffee shop location, because my laptop's internet workhorses had both just gone on strike. And I had to get to work, so I didn't have any more time for trouble-shooting, not to mention that I was out of trouble-shooting ideas.

In a momentary stroke of genius before I left the house, I slipped my laptop into my laptop-friendly backpack and took it to the IT guys at work, who relished the thought of a computer puzzle to solve.

What happened was that when the nice man came a few months ago to reload my laptop after it had become corrupted, the reinstall gave the Intel wireless adapter (the amphitheater-shaped icon) all the control of connecting to wireless networks. But the latest automated update must have stomped all over that control without actually giving control back to Windows (the monitor-shaped icon), leaving me blind to the virtual world. But the IT puzzle-solver gave control back to Windows, so there shouldn't be any more stomping of that kind in the future, and now I can see!

As for those going-stale articles, they'll be coming soon. But first, I have a few things to do, one of which is to try to find some yellow bananas. I'm out.