Monday, April 30, 2007

Man Arrested for Abortion Clinic Bomb

Reuters reported Friday about an arrest in the most recent abortion clinic bomb case.

A 27-year-old Austin man was arrested on Friday and charged with placing an unexploded bomb containing some 2,000 nails outside an abortion clinic in the state's capital.

The explosive device also included a propane tank and a mechanism "akin to a rocket," Austin Police Commander David Carter said.

The device was discovered on Wednesday in the parking lot of the Austin Women's Health Center, police said.

The Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force -- made up of federal, state and local law enforcement authorities -- arrested Paul Ross Evans, who authorities said was on parole for an unspecified crime.

It's creeps like this who give pro-life people a bad name. This guy is not pro-life. He's a criminal. Homicidal. Nothing more.

I hope they throw the book at him and lock him away for a very long time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Trip Planning

This is my mom's little dog Scooter, and he'll be traveling with us. He's a bit chubbier than he was when I was here last year for Memorial Day. My mom thinks it's because her fence is solid, so Scooter can't see anything to run around and bark at. When she was in Montana, the fence was see-through, so Scooter had countless numbers of deer and neighbor dogs to get excited about. We'll have to see what kind of exercise opportunities we can give him on our trip.

And this will be our home away from home. I'm going to have to do some serious downsizing of my clothes and books and paper supplies and all the rest.

Inside the motorhome, part of the living room.

And the bedroom, one of the twin beds. Since the bed is attached to the wall, there's no room for a bedspread to hang down the backside of the bed, so my mom took a queen-size bedspread and cut it in half and then sewed it up so it will fit properly and hang only on the frontside of each bed.

This is the decal-map my mom ordered. We'll stick it somewhere on the outside of the motorhome and fill in the states as we travel through them.

We started making plans for where to go and when to go there. My sister's schedule is the tightest, since she works at the Junior College and is tied to the school calendar. She has to be back to work by the end of June for some special events they'll be having over the summer. That means our trip to the Four Corners area has to be finished by then, which means I've got to be leaving for Texas in the first few days of June.

So much work, so little time!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

I've Been Had!

I should know better than to believe a story that's just too good to be true.

Yesterday I posted about the Poodle Scam in Japan, only to be informed by Charlie at AnotherThink that he was informed by one of his readers that the story IS NOT TRUE!

Apparently even city-bred people in Japan can tell the difference between a sheep and a poodle and are not as gullible as we're gullible enough to believe they are.

Here's the Snopes page debunking the story.

My only consolation is that otherwise-legitimate news sources believed the story too.

Festival Day in Cisco

I got to Cisco, Texas, just in time for their Folklife Festival. It started this morning with a parade. The people in the cars or on the floats throw candy to the kids, so it's always a well-attended event.

My sister's youngest is in the Cisco High School marching band, which was the first band in the parade.

After the parade the festivities moved to Cisco Junior College. The high school band gave a concert of three or four songs. The first was a Gustav Holst piece (not from The Planets), and when the band director announced it, one of the guys in the back asked, "Is this the hard one?" Yes, it was. They followed it with "The Curse of Tutankhamun," my niece's favorite of the set.

The food booths were all together under the shade between the buildings, and we checked them all out before buying lunch. One special treat I saw was deep-fried Snickers and other candy bars. I'd heard about them on Hugh Hewitt's radio show when he broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair in the past, but had never seen one in the flesh. It looked more like a skinny Monte Cristo sandwich covered in powdered sugar than a Snickers bar.

We looked at all the crafts and the stuff people were selling. I didn't make any purchases, because I'd just have to carry it home with me. Some of the people knew my mom--her church friends and the mechanic she found for her motorhome--and a lot of people knew my sister, who has lived in Cisco for years and years.

Almost everyone was talking Texan. "Y'all" was everywhere. A few people even noticed that I wasn't from around there. When one man found out I was from California, he said, "I'm surprised y'all didn't bring her in under dark of night." My sister said, "We did!"

As we left the festival, these two gents were taking a well-deserved break after spending most of the day on their feet, collecting entrance fees and stamping the backs of hands (admission is free tomorrow with a handstamp from today).

Cisco is NOT the home of the Cisco Kid. He was from somewhere else. What Cisco does have is Conrad Hilton's first hotel. He purchased the Mobley Hotel in 1919 and went on to make a name for himself in fine destinations around the world. The hotel is now a museum, but it isn't open on weekends, so we'll try to see it Monday.

Yesterday's Trip to Texas

When I left California, I saw someone stuffing a little white dog into a carrier, and then I heard the dog woof a few times when we took off. In Salt Lake City we had a layover before heading to Dallas, and I spotted the dog again, helping his owner with her multitasking. I couldn't resist getting their picture (and her permission to post the photo).

On the flight out of Salt Lake City, the guy a couple rows ahead of mine and across the aisle was reading the men's magazine, Maxim. I wasn't exactly reading over his shoulder, more like reading over his wrist, and all I could read was article headings. A couple of them caught my eye.

Now, when I'm in the checkout line at the grocery store, the women's magazines, like Cosmopolitan, have cover headines that say things like, "How to please your man." I guess that's the kind of thing a woman with a man to please worries about. But this guy's Maxim gave me a glimpse into the male mind.

The first headline, partway down the left column of the page, said, "What Can I Do To Get A Woman To Stop Crying?"

I have no idea what Maxim's advice was, but a couple answers came to mind. First, get used to it. It's what they do. Women cry. You'll ask her what's wrong, and she'll say one of two things: "I don't know," or "Nothing...." She is not lying to you. If she knew what was wrong, she'd tell you. Sometimes she just needs to cry.

Second, don't try to fix whatever is wrong. Just offer her your shoulder to cry on, and if she accepts, put your arms around her. DO NOT try to touch her intimately. That is the worst possible course of action at this time. Just let her finish, and when she's done, go from there.

After the guy on the plane turned the page, there was another article, partway down the left column of the page, and the headline said, "How Can I Survive A Mountain Lion Attack?"

I find it very telling that these two articles had the same question format, the same font, and the same placement on the page. I can only surmise that these two questions address the same level of trauma in the eyes of a man.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Poodle Scam in Japan

Japan has really had it tough lately. First it was the burning bidets, and now it's a poodle scam.

The Brisbane Times (Australia) reported yesterday about a scam perpetrated on the poodle-purchasing public.

Thousands of Japanese have been swindled in a scam in which they were sold Australian and British sheep and told they were poodles, The Sun newspaper reported today.

Flocks of sheep were imported to Japan and then sold by a company called Poodles as Pets, marketed as fashionable accessories, available at $1,600 each.

That is a snip compared to a real poodle which retails for twice that much in Japan.

The scam was uncovered when Japanese moviestar Maiko Kawamaki went on a talk-show and wondered why her new pet would not bark or eat dog food.

She was crestfallen when told it was a sheep.

Then hundreds of other women got in touch with police to say they feared their new "poodle" was also a sheep.

One couple said they became suspicious when they took their "dog" to have its claws trimmed and were told it had hooves.

You can't make this up.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Teamsters Sue the Feds

WorldNetDaily reported today that the Teamsters have filed suit against the Transportation Department's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in an attempt to stop a new pilot program from taking effect. The program would open up the US highway system to Mexican trucking companies.

As WND has reported, the government will have no access to whether those truckers have any criminal records, and the system is being set up to allow those trucks loaded with goods to cross the border in as little as 15 seconds.

The action was filed Monday in federal court in California, alleging the Bush administration's program failed to publish proper, advance notice of the pilot plan and failed to allow an opportunity for public comment before the program takes effect.

The Bush administration is ignoring the American people in its zeal to open our borders to unsafe Mexican trucks," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president. "This reckless pilot program must be stopped and the driving public protected."

Congress already has begun a move to close down the program, but legislation may not be quick enough, the plaintiffs said. Under a 2001 NAFTA order, the proposal, scheduled to take effect within days, authorizes up to 100 Mexico-based trucking companies to operate beyond a narrow border zone.

WND reported the Department of Transportation plans to certify the first participating Mexican trucking company as early as the end of April or the beginning of May.

Have you ever driven in Mexico? In the cities, like Tijuana and Mexicali, the "rules of the road" seem to be more like recommendations. Lanes become fluid. Alto (Stop) signs are frequently ignored (oh, wait, that's California too), and it can get downright hair-raising to drive there.

Our president wants to let really big trucks, driven by people who are accustomed to Mexican driving, onto our interstate system. Do these drivers even know that, in California anyway, they're only allowed to drive in the two right-most lanes? Are their trucks equipped with the right smog reduction and safety equipment?

Probably for the first time in my life, I actually agree with a union. I drive on the most likely highway the Mexican trucks will be using, and I'm concerned for my life.

"The Bush administration is trying to circumvent safety requirements by repackaging this plan as an illegal pilot program," Hoffa said. "Inspectors can't enforce truck safety in the United States, let alone south of the border."

I dated a guy for a while who drove box trucks (slightly smaller than semis) locally, taking wholesale plants to grocery chain warehouses. Every year the drivers had to take training on how to safely transport and handle Hazardous Materials, or they could lose their licenses. Will the Mexican drivers be taking this training before the end of April?

I'm so frustrated with President Bush's headlong rush to surgically join America and Mexico at the hip in some sort of freakish Siamese Twin Reattachment operation. This is only the latest procedure in his grand scheme.

I hope the Teamsters win. Soon!

Waiting for Godot

I'm sitting here waiting for the plumber to arrive. He should be here sometime between 1 and 3pm to install the two new toilets. He has less than 25 minutes left to get here on time.

The minute he leaves (if it's not too late), I'll be heading back up to school, where they're celebrating Earth Day by showing two movies and having a lecture, all on Global Warming. I'd get 5 extra credit points for Anatomy class for each one of the three events I attend. But I can't leave until the toilets are installed, and it takes just over an hour to get there, so if he's still here after 4:00, I'm going to have to forget the whole idea and just get the rest of my extra credit points (up to a maximum of 50 pts--I have 30 right now) from Reggie-Lab assignments.

I'm in the middle of painting the master bedroom (very light yellow, like pale butter, with an accent wall of light yellow, like butter), but I changed out of my painting clothes around noon, so I could get a couple errands done before toilet-man arrived. I have two walls finished with the first coat. I can see where the brush strokes and roller marks are, so it's going to need a second coat.

I might not have painted, but the previous owners patched a couple holes in the walls with a really lousy job of spackling. The same thing happened with the house I owned before this one. What's with people who can't figure out to use sandpaper on their dried spackle before they paint? Spackle globs are unsightly.

By painting my bedroom, I can repair the bad patch job and spiff up some other spots, and it shouldn't be so noticeable. Besides, it's a cheery color.

Four minutes to three. Tick. Tick. Tick.

Maybe I'll start some laundry and then work on some Sudoku puzzles...


They arrived after 4:00 and didn't leave until after 5:00, the start time for the last of the Global Warming movies. Looks like I'm stuck with Reggie-Lab.

But the toilets work!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Massive Explosion on the Sun

NASA's Science News website today revealed some fabulous videos of an explosion on the sun that happened back in December.

Astronomers are calling the Japanese Hinode spacecraft a "Hubble for the sun." Watch this movie and you'll see why[.]

The footage, gathered by Hinode's Solar Optical Telescope (SOT) on Dec. 13, 2006, shows sunspot 930 unleashing a powerful X-class solar flare. It's one of the most detailed movies of a flare solar physicists have ever seen.

What makes Hinode truly special as a solar telescope "is its unique ability to see the sun's magnetic field," says John Davis, NASA's project scientist for Hinode at the Marshall Space Flight Center. It's an ability Hinode used to reveal the magnetic underpinnings of the Dec. 13th flare.

"Solar flares are essentially magnetic," Davis explains. In the maelstrom above a sunspot, lines of magnetic force are twisted and stretched until the tension reaches a certain point—and then the whole thing explodes.

A rubber band provides a good analogy. Take one from your desk, hold one end in each hand: stretch and twist. If you twist, twist and twist to extremes, the tormented band will eventually snap, painfully releasing all the energy you just put into it.

Magnetic fields behave a lot like rubber bands, and "Hinode was able to see the twisting and stretching that preceded the Dec. 13th solar flare," he says.

They've also got animation of the "rampaging hurricane" of the magnetic flare.

Astronomers have been struggling to predict solar flares since flares were discovered in 1859 by Lord R.C. Carrington and R. Hodgson. But they have been stymied, in part, by the difficulties of mapping the sun's magnetic field. Magnetograms on Earth must look through our planet's turbulent atmosphere, which blurs the little red arrows we see so clearly in the Hinode movie. Hinode's ability to examine magnetic fields from Earth orbit is a new and crucial development.

"The kind of data we're getting from Hinode is just what we need to sort out how flares work," says Davis. "All we need now is some more explosions."

Kucinich Surges Ahead

WASHINGTON - Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has surged ahead in the latest round of polling of likely voters in the Democratic primaries. The increase in support is being attributed to his recently announced plans to have Vice President Dick Cheney impeached.

One likely voter, Sunshine Fielding of Boston, commented, "I wasn't a Kucinich supporter before this. I mean, I always thought he's too short to be president. But now he's the only candidate who's willing to step up and do what needs to be done. His stature has really risen in my eyes."

A source from the Clinton campaign, who wishes to remain anonymous, has indicated that the Senator from New York is considering calling for the impeachment of President Bush in the near future.

Senator Barak Obama's campaign had no comment.

Copper Clapper Caper

La Shawn Barber's excellent post today on truth-telling ends with a link to:

This video clip from the Johnny Carson Show.

For those who are older, ah, the memories! For those who are younger, this is a taste of what your parents grew up with.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bidets On Fire

The AP reported April 16, 2007, about bidets in Japan catching fire.

Japan’s leading toilet maker Toto Ltd. is offering free repairs for 180,000 bidet toilets after wiring problems caused several to catch fire, the company said Monday.

The electric bidet accessory of Toto’s Z series caught fire in three separate incidents between March 2006 and March 2007, according to company spokeswoman Emi Tanaka.

This is just plain baffling. Bidets are made of porcelain and use water. How do they burn? And what kind of electric accessory could be so important that you'd want it near water anyway?

I just don't understand the desire for a bidet to begin with, unless a person is a hard-core francophile. Maybe bidets are for rich people with bathrooms that are way too big, and they just needed one more fixture to make the bathroom not look quite so empty.

Otherwise, for Americans, what's the point? A bidet is there so you can skip taking a shower and just wash the essentials instead. Real Americans take a shower and skip the bidet. And that's just as well, because the flaming fixtures presented a true risk:

“Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries,” Tanaka said. “The fire would have been just under your buttocks.”

Happy Earth Day

I saw Google's logo today and wondered if it was the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. But no, that was April 12. Today would have been my grandmother's birthday. She was born 10 days after the Titanic went down, but she wasn't associated with icebergs, and Google wouldn't be honoring her birthday.

No, today is Earth Day, and Google is celebrating by making their logo look like an iceberg. I'm not exactly sure what that's supposed to mean. Are they saying the earth is warming so fast, the ice is melting? That we need more ice, so they're pitching in to do their part? That they're freezing their butts off at Google headquarters?

Is global warming all there is left to talk about on Earth Day? What happened to the Earth Day people encouraging us to ride our bikes to work and to stop littering? What happened to the good old days, when we could cut up the plastic rings from our six-packs and be saving the environment?

The Earth Day Network is dedicated to helping coordinate Earth Day events around the world. Their website offers Earth Day in a Box, for organizing an event (a little late for that now, but you could get a jump-start for next year), a request for preachers to give an Earth Day sermon, and a program to "Offset your Event's Carbon Emissions." I wish I knew how to sign up as a carbon-offset provider. Now that I'm not driving to work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (Tuesdays and Thursdays are school, which is just as far as work was), I could offset someone else's guilty driving, and get paid for it!

The Earth Day Network also has a spot for you to pledge to switch from Thomas Edison's lightbulb to the energy-efficient type (what a wastrel Edison was!). But they don't have anyplace for you to tell them you switched almost four years ago, when you bought the house you're in. And they're hoping you don't notice that they're pretending the recent news reports about those energy-efficient bulbs don't exist. You know the ones: that the bulbs are made with toxic materials that could harm the environment.

Anyway, it's good to have Earth Day, because it's a reminder that the earth is still here, and we're still on it. We'll take care of it as much as we can without breaking the bank.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

SpotBot Product Review

This is my new toy. It's a SpotBot. I saw it advertised on TV a couple weeks ago during one of my rare episodes of TV watching, and I said, "I've gotta get that!"

After having had in my house: a dog with medicine-induced incontinence (Abby), a dog with a malicious streak (Hollywood), and a puppy undergoing housebreaking (Zeus), I've got a carpet in trouble.

I was at Target a few days ago and saw this sitting at the end of the aisle, and it just jumped into the shopping cart and begged me to take it home.

It has two water compartments. The one on the right is clearly marked with lines for filling it with water up to here, and then adding the secret formula up to there. Very easy. The compartment on the left is where the dirty water goes during the cleaning cycle, and it's easy to empty.

They have two main automatic cycles. There's a button for new stains and another button for set-in stains (that's what I have). The set-in cycle lasts 6 minutes, and the new-stain cycle takes less time. You plug it in (power cord in back, not shown), stick the brushes (bottom left) on top of the stain, and push the button you need. When it's finished, it beeps for you to come and push the Stop button.

Here's a sample of SpotBot's handiwork. Before:

And after:

Notice that the former stain is now cleaner than the surrounding carpet. I'll have to figure out what to do about all the clean circles I'm going to have.

The one drawback that I've noticed about SpotBot is that it leaves the carpet more wet than I'd like, but that's easily solved by folding a hand towel in half and blotting it by stepping on it. After blotting, the damp area dries fairly quickly.

One fill-up of the solution container works for three spots, so I'm hoping I can find a gallon bottle of the pet formula solution. It comes with sample bottles of two formulas: Little Green Formula, for general purpose (including pet stains), and OxyGEN 2, for stains with dye in them (red wine, black cherry Kool-Aid). I bought their specialized pet stain and odor formula at Home Depot, and I like the scent better than the Little Green scent.

I've had carpets professionally cleaned before, but although the stains may disappear immediately after cleaning, they always seem to come back. If I can get the worst of the spots taken care of with SpotBot, then maybe getting the carpets cleaned by the pros wouldn't be a waste of money. I'll have to decide that later.

But for anyone else, if you share carpets with careless pets or toddler-sized stain machines, SpotBot may be just what you need.

House Day

Yesterday was devoted to working on the house. I got a late start, because I had to wait for the mailman to bring me my new set of mailbox keys (I had said I'd be home), and then I had to promise to go get my mail.

By midnight, I had not only purchased but installed a shower head and three bathroom faucets (including a return trip to get some plumber's putty). And I have new bruises on my forearm to prove it. Each faucet was completed with much prayer (because one of the water lines on each one wouldn't thread properly), followed by profuse thanksgiving. I finally had to flip one water line over to get it threaded, or I would have had to go back to Home Depot for a new one.

Now that my accomplishments are starting to go to my head, I'm thinking of buying a matching kitchen faucet, since the one in there is banged up and has paint on it. But I'll wait to install it until after I paint the master bedroom. I think, after I buy it, I'll need to put a Post-It note on it reminding me to wait until after painting. I forget things like that too easily.

I bought the toilets too, but Home Depot is holding them until installation day (I'm having a professional do that), when I'll have to go and pick them up. I'm hoping to get that done this week before I leave for Texas for a long weekend with my mom and my sister.

For now, I'm off to a special Missions Committee meeting at church, and then back home to play with my new toy (more on that later) and try to get my bedroom ready to paint.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rainy Day

It's raining today.

For people who live somewhere that rain is normal (if you've ever visited California and asked why all the houses have sprinkler systems, this would be you), this isn't special. But out here, a heavy, wind-driven rain makes a person stand on the front porch and watch the novelty of rain coming down.

I thought the rain was over by now--March usually shows us the end of rain until autumn--but I was mistaken. The road is wet, my yard is wet, and now my weeds are going to start growing again, and if I don't sell my house soon enough, the management will come by and leave another "Mow Your Weeds" notice on my door. Of course, once the house is on the market, I'll have to keep the weeds cut back, so the place shows well.

But today, I'm going to have to brave the rain, which only lets up momentarily before coming down again. I need go down to Home Depot to order replacement toilets, faucets, and light fixtures that have become unusable or unsightly. You just can't put a house on the market when one of the toilets is broken.

Good thing I have a raincoat.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Donkey Becomes Witness in Trial

Photo credit: AP Photo/RICK GERSHON

Buddy the donkey became a witness in a civil trial yesterday, reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review today.

The first witness in a lawsuit Wednesday between two neighbors was Buddy the donkey, who walked to the bench and stared at the jury, the picture of a gentle, well-mannered creature and not the loud, aggressive animal he had been accused of being.

Buddy didn't have to say much, and I don't imagine there was a lot of cross-examination of the witness.

Neither jurors nor Buddy had the last say.

The neighbors settled their dispute while jurors deliberated.

That's just as well. The two neighbors would have hated it if the jury came back and declared that Buddy wasn't the only jackass in the court that day.


Anatomy Lab Exam II is over!!!

I'm done with muscles, done with nerves, done with sheep brains and cow eyeballs.

Even though I knew my stuff by the time of the exam, I could feel my heart pounding the whole time (sympathetic nervous system). I only left two blank lines, but in retrospect, I think I made those too hard for myself and may have known the answer. Oh well.

We have Lecture Exam IV in a week and a half (cardiovascular and lymphatic systems), and then no more exams until the last week of class, when I'll be sweating the Lab Exam again.

But for now, I'm a happy camper.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Student Senate Stuck on Stupid

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) issued a press release today (HT: Michelle Malkin) detailing the obtuse stubbornness of the Student Senate at the University of Rhode Island.

Displaying a dramatic disregard for students’ constitutional rights, a committee of the University of Rhode Island (URI) Student Senate voted on Monday to derecognize the College Republicans student group. For months, the Student Senate has demanded that the group publicly apologize for advertising a satirical $100 “scholarship” for white, heterosexual, American males. The College Republicans refused to apologize and contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. FIRE is now calling upon URI President Robert Carothers, who has already informed the Senate that it could not compel student speech, to reverse the decision to derecognize the group.

The College Republicans student organization first advertised the satirical “White, Heterosexual, American Male” “scholarship” in November, 2006. The scholarship consisted of a nominal $100 to be awarded to someone fitting those criteria who submitted an application and an essay on the adversities he has faced. College Republicans President Ryan Bilodeau explained that the point was to use satire to protest scholarships awarded on the basis of race, gender, or nationality. Over 40 URI students applied for the “scholarship,” many submitting equally satirical application essays.

[I]n a letter dated April 6, President Carothers did indeed instruct the Senate in no uncertain terms to drop its unconstitutional demand for an apology. Carothers wrote that the mandatory apology “does not meet constitutional standards as laid forth in the First Amendment and in subsequent court decisions interpreting the standard.”

But at a meeting on Monday night, SOARC nonetheless unanimously
voted to ignore both its constitutional obligations and Carothers’ directive and derecognize the College Republicans for refusing to issue an apology. SOARC’s decision will be voted on by the entire Student Senate on Wednesday, April 25.

What part of the university president's telling these people their actions are unconstitutional don't they understand? Maybe "does not meet constitutional standards" has too many big words for them to grasp. Maybe if the university president told them simply, "You can't do that," they might get it.

There's a lot the people on this Student Senate committee don't understand. They don't understand satire. They don't understand that discriminating in favor of Whites or Asians is the same as discriminating in favor of Blacks or Hispanics--it's all discrimination. They don't understand that just because they're appalled by the idea of a Whites-only scholarship, that doesn't give them the legal right to derecognize a valid student group.

If this Student Senate committee's members are the best and the brightest that Rhode Island's education system has to offer, then RI parents, it's time to take your kids out of those schools and high-tail it for another state, where they don't teach Stupid as a major subject.

Sudoku Bondage

I first noticed Sudoku puzzles on my flight to Indiana last November for the National Missionary Convention. They had one in the in-flight magazine, and I tried it and kinda liked it.

Then, when I got disoriented in the Circle Center Mall in downtown Indianapolis and came out onto the wrong street, I walked into the Barnes & Noble to get directions, and I saw they had a sale on Sudoku books. So I bought a couple beginner-level books for my flight home.

For Christmas, my daughter (in a moment of unintended wickedness) bought me this book:

It's not just an ordinary Sudoku book with lots of puzzles to solve. It's an evil Sudoku book with lots of puzzles to solve, and when you've done them all, you still haven't finished. That's because each pair of puzzles has its own puzzle-within-a-puzzle. And all the puzzles-within-a-puzzle together are another puzzle. Here's an example:

See how the puzzle on the left has all the 9's circled? That's because the puzzle started with a circle in one of the empty squares (third row from the bottom, center column). When the number puzzle is finished, whatever number is in the starting circle, you circle all of that number in the puzzle. Then, when the letter puzzle on the facing page is solved, you circle every letter whose position corresponds to the circled number on the left page. Then you write down all the circled letters (on this page it's, "PARTICULA").

By reading all the messages you've written at the bottom of every page, from the front of the book to the back, there's supposed to be some sort of clue to figuring out the ultimate puzzle answer. That answer is three words that you write on the instruction card at the back of the book, and then you mail that in, and they'll send you a pin that says, "I cracked the Sudoku Code."

I'm probably not going to mail in the answer, because I don't need another piece of trash to throw away. But I can't not figure it out.

So I'm doomed to solve all 100 pairs of puzzles, read the whole message at the bottom of all the pages, and figure out the final three words. At about 2 - 3 pairs a week, that's going to take forever.

Blogger Stinks!

I have been trying most of the afternoon to get my photos uploaded for a post I started. The photos are essential--it's one of those show-and-tell types of posts. But can I get them uploaded? NO!

Instead I get this:

Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage

I went into Blogger's Help and hunted around until I found an outstanding problem with image uploading. It says that (in spite of their download box saying we can have images up to 8MB) they can't handle images over 3MB, and it will give that message if you try.

Well, my photos are less than 3MB. But just for kicks, I started resizing my images smaller and smaller. When one of them got down to 886KB, it miraculously uploaded.

The other, just as essential, photo is now down to 788KB and still won't upload. Grrrrr!!!

Blogging this afternoon was supposed to be my reward for having memorized the locations of all the skeletal muscles in our lab manual. Some reward!

Blogger should be stretched on the rack and tortured, until it decides to upload my other photo! And if it won't, it should be drawn and quartered to put it out of my misery.

Memorizing muscle actions, origins, and insertions is more fun than this! I'm going back to my flashcards...


I finally got the picture I needed from Amazon, and Blogger uploaded that one. But Blogger still stinks. For a while, anyway...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Israeli Professor Hero of Virginia Tech

The Jerusalem Post reported today (HT: WorldNetDaily) about an Israeli professor at Virgina Tech who gave his life to save his students yesterday.

As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 76-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 33 dead and over two dozen wounded.

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

When I heard yesterday about the shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, I knew there would be two different reactions: (1) "This is proof that we need more gun control." (2) "This is proof that we need more gun ownership, with expanded concealed-carry permits." And I was right.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has issued a statement that includes their concern over "how easy it is for an individual to get powerful weapons in our country." And on the other side, Michelle Malkin links to this 2002 story that recaps the way two armed law students prevented a similar shooting rampage at Appalachian Law School.

I heard a little bit of Michael Medved's radio show yesterday on my way home from work, in which he took his callers to task for trying to make some kind of sense of the senselessness of this crime. There is no sense to be made, nothing that we can learn as a lesson that will make us safe from a random crime in the future. We can't find a cause that we can respond to by changing society in just the right way, so that nobody will ever go berzerk again.

The only sense we can find in carnage like this is the heroes. When we highlight the people who put themselves in harm's way to save others, that's how we find good in tragedy. We found inspiration in the stories that came out of Columbine and 9/11, and we'll find it in the stories that will be coming out of Virginia Tech in the next days and weeks.

Topping the list is Professor Librescu, who gave his life to save so many others. May his family find comfort in the Lord and in the knowledge of the greatness of their husband and father.

My First Day Unemployed

Last week, one of the guys at work asked me, "What's the first thing you're going to do on Tuesday?"

I said, "Sleep."

That's what I did, only I started last night. At 7:00. Today, I feel awake.

Without an imposed schedule, it's up to me to figure out the best use of my time and the right balance of school, getting the house ready to sell, and preparing for the trip, plus all the normal-life tasks. Deadlines are a great motivator, and since today is the day our Extra Credit assignments from Reggie-Lab are due, that's what wins.

Reggie-Lab isn't the real name. It's a computer lab at the school, supported entirely by a grant from one of the area hospitals, and it's dedicated to anatomy and other medical subjects. Reggie is the guy who runs it. He's part tyrant, part funny-man, and we never know which part we're going to get on any given day. If you give him the wrong attitude, he'll banish you from his lab, and good luck getting more extra credit points somewhere else. So far, Reggie likes me OK.

I have three printed sheets, from the last two EC assignments, with drawings that I need to label according to what our lab manual wants. Only, one of the drawings (a vertebra with spinal nerves) isn't in the lab manual like that, so I'm going to have to punt. It's due today at 4:55pm.

Time permitting, I'll head to the bank, to AAA to pay the registration for the Toyota (due 4/20), and to the post office to order new mailbox keys. And then I'll head off to class. No house prep today. Learning more muscles and reviewing the nervous system will have to fit in around everything else.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Trip-Starting Plans

I have one more day of work (Monday) and an Anatomy Lab exam on Thursday (much harder than the Lecture exams). In between learning central nervous system parts, I unrolled my USA map and charted a course for the start of our trip, based on a couple conversations with my mom and my sister.

We'll be starting in central Texas, where my mom and sister live. The yellow route (crudely drawn using the touchpad on my laptop) is our shake-out trip over to Carlsbad Caverns and then over a mountain pass, towing my Toyota behind the RV. Then we'll come back home and have the RV checked out by the mechanic. My sister may or may not come with us on the yellow trip.

She'll join us, though, for the blue trip to the Four Corners region. We'll probably see Mesa Verde (my sister has been there already, but I haven't), Arches, Canyonlands, Glen Canyon, Canyon de Chelly, and whatever else looks interesting--along with trying to be in four states at once. Then we'll bring her back home (with a stop at White Sands on the way) before my mom and I head out for the West Coast.

Those colored dots on the map are from several years ago. The pink ones are where I've been (that I remember), the blue ones are for my daughter, and the green ones are for my son. They've both been to Rhode Island, back when I worked for an airline and my sister lived there, but they were ages 1 and 3, so they refused to let me put a dot for them on that state.

My mom says she's been in every state, except Hawaii, but we won't be driving to Hawaii this time around. We'll stick with the mainland.

I've thought about "collections" we could do on our journeys this year. The most obvious is National Parks and Monuments. But we could also do lighthouses, presidential libraries, state capitals, volcanoes, and I'm not sure what else. So many decisions to make! But one thing is sure: We're going to be finding a church to attend every Sunday.

I haven't really got down into the details just yet, since I've been working. On Tuesday, though, when I'm officially unemployed, the preparations for the trip and selling my house will begin in earnest. But they'll have to fit around body-part memorization time.

Red Square Nebula

I'd show the picture, but it looks like the copyright might not allow that. So look here. Amazing! reported yesterday about the new discovery, described in the April 13 issue of Science.

If symmetry is a sign of splendor, then the newly discovered Red Square nebula is one of the most beautiful objects in the universe.

Seen in the infrared, the nebula resembles a giant, glowing red box in the sky, with a bright white inner core. A dying star called MWC 922 is located at the system's center and spewing its innards from opposite poles into space. (A nebula is an interstellar cloud of gas, dust and plasma where stars can both emerge and die.)

'This spectacular event is the death of a star,' said study team member James Lloyd of Cornell University.

But the Red Square isn't the only stellar object of its kind.

The researchers propose that similar conditions are contributing to the extreme symmetry of another system, the Red Rectangle, whose central star is cooler than that of the Red Square.

The new findings suggest the system's perfect form results from an even outflow of gas. 'The reason the Red Square remains so symmetrical is that there is no material that has interfered with the outflow, so it has preserved the symmetry it was born with,' Lloyd said.

Each new find (with its photos) becomes another opportunity for wonder, for breath-stopping awe. It never gets old.

Mea Culpa

It turns out I misinformed you. I told an untruth, here.

The truth is that I underestimated the number of cups of tea I drink at home. It's more than two. It's closer to five, just like at work.

The rest of the numbers are accurate, as of the time of my post.

There. I feel much better.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lazy Saturday Reading

Proteus at Eject! Eject! Eject! posted an essay Sunday (HT: Michelle Malkin). It's part 2 of a series he calls, "Seeing the Unseen," and he promises part 3 to be on global warming. But since part 1 was back in November, we may have a bit of a wait for his global warming essay.

I read part 1 way back when, and in it he debunks some of the popular terms and memes being bandied about by the Left regarding the war and the President--things like "Chickenhawk" and "President Bush is Stupid."

Part 2 is an analysis of the psychosis of conspiracy-theory true-believers. It's long, as good essays should be, which is why I recommend it for a lazy Saturday. And if you're really lazy, go back and read part 1 as well.

So kick off your shoes, make yourself a nice cup of hot tea (or coffee, if you must), sit back in your favorite chair and enjoy the reading.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Weakness is a Provocation

Dennis Prager said on his radio show, at the beginning of the month, that he spoke at an event in Minnesota where former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton also appeared. Prager quoted Bolton as having said there, "Weakness is a provocation."

The context of Bolton's statement was the homicidal Muslim extremists, but it holds true as well for the recent tempest in a teapot over the racist comments of Don Imus and his subsequent unemployed status. Appeasement only encourages the opposition into escalated attacks. It's like throwing chum in shark-infested water.

WorldNetDaily reported today on the latest news from Media Matters, a left-wing (George Soros-supported) media watchdog group. They smelled talk-show blood, and they're ready for more.

Next in the crosshairs for alleged expressions of "bigotry and hate speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity" are, according to Media Matters for America, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, Neal Boortz, John Gibson and Michael Smerconish.

The WND article lists some of the offenses given by Media Matters. I'll give a few that "attack" women, since I'm one of them.

On Jan. 10, 2006, Limbaugh said some women "would love to be hired as eye candy."

I'd love to look like eye candy (with "me" still on the inside).

On March 1, 2005, Limbaugh said "[w]omen still live longer than men because their lives are easier."

Ouch! Oh, he really hits below the belt. I don't know if I can cope with such vile language directed at me!

On June 14, 2004, Limbaugh shared his "pet name" for the National Organization for Women: "National Association of Gals" (his acronym: "NAG").

Ummm... I think that's funny. The NOW/NAG girls only speak for themselves.

Responding to an Associated Press report that women had recently been appointed as chiefs of police in four major U.S. cities, Limbaugh said May 27, 2004, referencing the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib: "If we've got four new female police chiefs out there, then I guess we can watch out for some naked pyramids among prisoners in these new jailhouses that these women ran, because we had a woman running the prison in Abu Grab."

OK. That's disrespectful.

The report also references his repeated use of the term "femi-Nazis," part of the unique Limbaugh lexicon[.]

Femi-Nazis aren't all women, just the NOW/NAG women who hate men and want to see them wiped off the face of the earth. It's an appropriate term for the feminists who spew man-hating venom every chance they get.

Where was Media Matters when Air America was broadcasting Christian-hating, right-wing-hating bile? Were they clamoring to get Al Franken and Randi Rhodes pulled off the air? Did they ever try to get Howard Stern fired, before he jumped over to satellite?

No this is just rank opportunism at scoring political victories. It's no coincidence that all of Media Matters' targets are on the right side of the political spectrum. If Media Matters can decimate the right-leaning talk shows before the 2008 campaign season gets into full swing, then they'll have a better chance of getting their guy elected.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


  • Number of blog posts before this one: 900
  • Average number of times I hit the snooze button in the morning: 3
  • Number of work days remaining: 3 (but who's counting?)
  • Projected gasoline consumption savings after quitting: 60%
  • Number of DVD movies I own: 212 (plus 4 TV series/miniseries)
  • Number of pairs of shoes I own: 19 (including slippers, and shoes that are only fit for yard work or painting)
  • Average number of cups of tea I drink at work: 5
  • Average number of cups of tea I drink when I'm home all day: 2
  • Number of miles from home to work: 55
  • Number of miles from home to school: 55
  • Number of miles from home to my mom's house: 1,258
  • Number of days since the girls moved out: 4
  • Number of mailbox keys I can find: 0
  • Number of colleges I've attended for credit: 11
  • Number of degrees I have: 1
  • Number of cranial nerve pairs I've memorized: 12 (that's all of them)
  • Number of muscles I have to learn/relearn for Lab Exam II: 69
  • Number of muscle actions I have to learn/relearn for Lab Exam II: 24
  • Number of other terms I have to learn/relearn for Lab Exam II: 205
  • Number of days until Lab Exam II: 7-1/2
  • Number of times a day I smile: Countless

Edwards Forgives Imus

CBS reported today on John Edwards' comments about shock jock Don Imus.

"I believe in redemption, I believe in forgiveness," Edwards said of Imus, who was suspended earlier in the week after calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed hos." Since then, Imus has repeatedly apologized for his comments and met with Rev. Al Sharpton, who called for the outspoken radio host's firing. Imus has also agreed to meet with the Rutgers team, who would not comment on whether or not they believed he should be fired.

That's really nice that Edwards believes in forgiveness. Too bad he can't find it within himself to forgive Fox News for not being far enough to the left to suit him.

It's possible I was being too hard on Edwards in my previous post. Maybe he's not a petulant little boy or a vindictive SOB after all. Maybe he's nothing but a trial lawyer, still living by the old rule, "Don't ask a question unless you already know the answer." Except: for the debates his motto seems to be, "Don't risk having to answer questions unless you know they won't be hard ones."

Edwards is an empty piece of fluff in the political wind, unwilling to face the challenges inherent in a presidential campaign.

Unlike candidates Rudy Giuliani and John McCain, who say they will continue to appear on Imus' radio show, Edwards says he hasn't seen enough from the shock jock to make that decision just yet.

So much for forgiveness...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Take Your Child to Work Day

We just got an email at work announcing: "Take Your Child to Work Day is Thursday April 26, 2007."

Oh joy! I love that day a little, but mostly I hate it.

I love it because the feminists must be spinning in their... well some of them in their graves and the rest in their homes.

This was a day that was invented by feminists as Take Your Daughter to Work Day. They intentionally excluded sons from the festivities, because they believed sons already have the advantage in the business world. Daughters, if they weren't exposed to the business world, would end up with no other option than the oppressive drudgery of marriage and child-raising. (See my post last year in which I explored the origins and motivations of feminism.)

I love imagining the feminists' consternation as they see companies inviting boys (ugh!) to their cherished girls-only day. Sometimes, my pleasures are perverse.

But I hate this day, because it ends up being nothing more than a play day for kids at their parent's place of employment, when they would have been at school. They learn nothing useful about the working world and end up with all the same options they would have had without this special day.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Edwards to Skip Another Fox News Debate

Don Hazen, in his AlterNet column Saturday, praised John Edwards for his "striking leadership" in pulling out of yet another debate to be moderated by Fox News, this one co-sponsored with Fox by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

Edwards deputy campaign manager Jonathan Prince explained to the AP, "there's just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they're objective." The Edwards campaign went out of its way to point out that Edwards planned to participate in a CBC debate hosted by CNN. The Democratic National Committee has also come out in opposition to the Fox debates, excluding them from the six debates they plan to sanction.

But of course, there's every reason for CNN to advance the left-wing agenda while pretending they're objective.

Really, though, there's nothing wrong with the Edwards campaign complaining about the slant (real or perceived) of any of the news outlets. The bigger question is what this serial boycotting says about Edwards.

Let's pretend that Barak Obama sticks his inexperienced foot in his mouth one too many times and Hillary positions herself too far to the right for the Democrats' left-wing base, so Edwards gets the nomination. And let's pretend even further that the Republican base gets ticked off at the "moderate" GOP nominee and sits out the election, thereby giving the presidency to John Edwards. What then?

Will President "Two Americas" Edwards only converse with one of those Americas? Will he punish the half of the electorate that didn't vote for him? Will he work with only one side of the aisle in Congress? Will he punish Fox News for every little slight by excluding their reporters from White House press briefings?

The fact that Edwards is holding a grudge against Fox News doesn't speak well for him. Edwards is either a petulant little boy pouting over everything that doesn't go his way, or he's a vindictive SOB with a long memory. Neither one says, "Presidential material."

Politics is a big sandbox, full of people you like and people you don't like, and you can't help but get a little dirty when you climb in. If Edwards can't handle the realities of the sandbox, he needs to brush himself off and go home (and complain about his neighbors).


Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton join John Edwards in his Fox News Apoplexy Syndrome (FNAS). Again.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Empty Nest

It happened suddenly, though it was expected.

The girls moved out yesterday. They'll be sharing my daughter's bedroom at her dad's house, until her friend can find her own apartment (she doesn't expect the newest living arrangement to work well for her for long).

And last night I found a new home for Zeus, my daughter's friend's puppy. Our friend finally admitted that her lifestyle wasn't a good one for puppy ownership. So I've been asking everyone I could think of if they wanted a puppy. When I was getting my hair cut, my hairdresser said she was interested in having him.

Last night, I took him over to her house to meet her and her two other dogs--a Jack Russell terrier and a pit bull. Zeus was scared of the pit bull, whose bark was loud enough to startle me too. But he and Lily, the Jack Russell, got along just fine after a while.

My hairdresser held Zeus and said she still wanted him. She was so thrilled with him. "He's so adorable!" When I walked back to my car, I saw Zeus looking at me with his big black eyes that seemed to be saying what the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding said: "Why you want to leave me?" But he'll be better off with someone who's home a lot to take care of him.

The house felt so empty after I got home, and it was a little scary. For some reason, when the girls are here I don't think about people breaking in, but when I'm alone I do. It's not that I expected the girls to protect me, but more that it feels like there's safety in numbers. Being alone feels vulnerable.

But being alone also feels promising. This morning I went to the 11:30 Easter service, because they had asked church members to attend the special 7:00 service or the late service to make room in the 8:30 and 10:00 services for visitors. So I slept in some, and when I woke up, I started cleaning the kitchen.

It may not sound like it, but "I started cleaning the kitchen" is a major statement. When the girls were here, I could clean the kitchen, go to work, and when I got back home, I couldn't tell that I had even touched it. Cleaning was an exercise in futility. But now, if I clean something or put something away, it stays that way. And that's what's so promising: When I get my house ready to sell, it will stay ready to sell.

Of course, my daughter came back twice last night ("I forgot toothbrush stuff..."), and she's here right now, cleaning their bathroom. But she's officially out of the house, and I've officially started on the next phase in my life.

My emotions are hopelessly mixed.

He is Risen

Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to see the tomb. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, because an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled aside the stone and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. "Don't be afraid!" he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn't here! He has been raised from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples he has been raised from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember, I have told you."

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to find the disciples to give them the angel's message. - Matthew 28:1-8

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Time of Silence

The place of crucifixion was near a garden, where there was a new tomb, never used before. And so, because it was the day of preparation before the Passover and since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. - John 19:41-42

Friday, April 06, 2007

Death in a Minor Key

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - Mark 15:33-34

Nancy Pelosi's Delusions of Diplomacy

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has revealed her overabundance of chutzpah in her phone interview with the AP today.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, deflecting White House criticism of her trip to Syria, said Friday she thinks the mission helped President Bush because it showed the United States is unified against terrorism despite being divided over the Iraq war.

Pelosi, D-Calif., met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus earlier this week, against the president's wishes.

"Our message was President Bush's message," Pelosi said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from Portugal, where she stopped briefly en route back to the United States.

"The funny thing is, I think we may have even had a more powerful impact with our message because of the attention that was called to our trip," the California Democrat said. "It became clear to President Assad that even though we have our differences in the United States, there is no division between the president and the Congress and the Democrats on the message we wanted him to receive."

Meanwhile, a former Reagan official is suggesting that Pelosi could be guilty of a felony by taking this trip. WorldNetDaily reported this today.

The Logan Act, initiated by President John Adams in 1798, makes it a felony and provides for a prison sentence of up to three years for any American, "without authority of the United States," to communicate with a foreign government in an effort to influence that government's behavior on any "disputes or controversies with the United States," points out Robert F. Turner, former acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.

A purely fact-finding trip by a congressional delegation is not a problem, Turner says, nor is formal negotiation with foreign representatives if authorized by the president.

"Ms. Pelosi's trip was not authorized, and Syria is one of the world's leading sponsors of international terrorism," Turner says. "It has almost certainly been involved in numerous attacks that have claimed the lives of American military personnel from Beirut to Baghdad."

Turner concludes: "The U.S. is in the midst of two wars authorized by Congress. For Ms. Pelosi to [flout] the Constitution in these circumstances is not only shortsighted; it may well be a felony, as the Logan Act has been part of our criminal law for more than two centuries. Perhaps it is time to enforce the law."

If Nancy Pelosi were to give Bashar Assad the same message as President Bush's message, she would not have gone. President Bush's message is, "We won't talk to you while you continue to sponsor terror." By going, Pelosi delivered the opposite message.

Pelosi told reporters that during her talks Wednesday with Assad she "determined that the road to Damascus is the road to peace."

"We came in friendship, hope," she said.

The House speaker also said she conveyed an Israeli message to Assad that the Jewish state was ready to resume peace talks. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert quickly issued a denial, however, stating Israel's policy toward Syria has not changed.

As WND reported, members of terrorist organizations whose top leaders live in Syria called Pelosi's Damascus visit "brave" and "very appreciated," saying it could bring about "important changes" to America's foreign policy, including talks with "Middle East resistance groups."

When terrorists start praising Pelosi, you know she's crossed an important line. Perhaps criminal prosecution isn't such a bad idea...

Bilingual Education in Mexico

You may not have seen this article from Monday's Los Angeles Times Business section.

A FEW years after retiring to this Pacific resort city [Puerto Vallarta, Mexico], David Bender was bored with golf. His new hobby, the American decided, would be tackling Mexico's income inequality. He would do it by teaching English to Mexican children.

Never mind that Mexico didn't ask for his help. Or that the former advertising executive knew nothing about running a school. Bender saw working families hungry for affordable English-language instruction and a shot at upward mobility for their kids.

Credit a seasoned adman for knowing his market. Less than five years since its founding, Colegio Mexico-Americano has become the largest school in Puerto Vallarta. The nonprofit's tuition is 70% cheaper than that of the city's priciest bilingual academy. Enrollment has grown to 1,135 students, with dozens on the waiting list.

It's a wonderful article, with more great quotes than I can use here.

This is what bilingual education should be. It offers the students a chance for a better life, because with a command of English, these kids will be able to get jobs in the resorts that cater primarily to American tourists. Without English, they'll be stuck for life in the poverty that they and their parents are currently in.

Jose Rodolfo [a 9 year-old student at the school] helps out by collecting cans to earn recycling money. Fidgeting in a chair in the family's tidy home on a recent afternoon, he was too shy to practice his English with an American visitor. But the serious, handsome child knows what's at stake. "That's how you get a good job," he said softly in Spanish.

And why would David Bender take on this task in his retirement years? The article gives a few references, but doesn't quite come out and say it's because he's a Christian. Here's everything they say about his faith (emphasis added):

SUCH stories keep the balding, bespectacled Bender focused on what has become an all-consuming second career. Raised in Pittsburgh, the grandson of a penniless German immigrant farmer and the son of an evangelical minister, Bender parlayed a magazine writing contest into a college scholarship.

Conversations with the mostly Mexican congregation of his local church, the New Dawn Christian Center, led to the idea of launching a secular, nonprofit, bilingual school that working-class families could afford. The facility would give kids English skills to thrive in a global economy. It would stress character development to mold a new generation of leaders.

Old friends say his tenacity is characteristic of the hard-charging entrepreneur they knew from Chicago. So is the importance of faith and good works. Still, longtime pals such as Jim Hogan can't fathom why Bender would want to louse up a comfortable retirement with such a demanding do-gooder project.

Here's Bender's answer to that question:

"These kids are going to change Mexico," Bender said. "Wait and see."

My Sheep Brain

Our lecture professor advised us Tuesday to bring a Ziploc bag to lab this week, so we could bring home the sheep brain we'd be dissecting, because there will be several sheep brains on the next Lab Exam. I brought a gallon Ziploc, but I didn't need one that big. Sheep's brains are surprisingly small--about the size of your fist, if you put your thumb against the side of your index finger and not across the front of the fingers. I probably could have used a sandwich bag.

We had to pull the cerebellum (the cauliflower-looking glob on the left) down from the cerebrum (the main part of the brain) and look inside to find the superior and inferior colliculi ("they look like a baby's bottom on a toilet seat") and the pineal gland on top of the baby's bottom.

Then on the underside of the brain, we had to find cranial nerves I through VI plus XI. I cut the pituitary gland away (keeping cranial nerve V intact), and then my lab partner cut the brain in half, so we could identify everything in a sagittal section. She did an exceptional job, because she kept the septum pellucidum intact on both halves. (I have to wonder if Edgar Rice Burroughs got the name Pellucidar from this brain structure. I'm using him to help me remember what it's called.)

Our exams are going to be fast and furious this month. We have Lecture Exam III (Endocrine & Nervous systems) on the 10th, Lab Exam II (Muscle, Endocrine, Nervous systems) on the 19th, and Lecture Exam IV (Cardiovascular system) on the 26th. Aargh!

Of course I realize this isn't interesting to anyone but my friend the cardiac nurse, but every now and then, I have to share my ick factors with you anyway.


Oops! I called them spinal nerves, when they're really cranial nerves. That would lose me points on the exam. My error has been corrected.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Britain 15 Back Home

This is good news.

It's hard to know what to think, since I don't trust Ahmadinejad one bit.

I listened to Laura Ingraham on my way to work today, and she had lots of calls from former and current military, who were upset about the way the captives conducted themselves. One was from the wife of a former Royal Marine, who said her husband was apalled that the captives appeared to have let themselves be used for Iran's propaganda. He had been trained to give captors the Royal equivalent of Name, Rank, and Serial Number, and to refuse any further cooperation.

Another caller pointed out that if the Iranians were holding a gun to the head of one or more of their fellow captives, then the Brits on the videos may have been justified.

We don't know--and we may not know--what was done to them and what was threatened.

Someone else (where's my memory when I need it?) said that the British rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq prevented the ship's captain from defending his ship and its crew when the Iranians first attacked. I wouldn't be surprised, since our military's hands were tied in a lot of ways in Iraq before General Petraeus took over. If the Iranians knew the limits imposed on the British Navy, then that may have been what emboldened them.

Before Iran announced that they'd be releasing the captives, several different conservative talk show hosts said that if they were PM Tony Blair, they'd tell the Iranians secretly that if they didn't release the 15, Britain would quietly but thoroughly destroy Iran's oil refineries.

Did Blair really do this and give Tehran the ability to save face by looking magnanimous? We won't know until Blair has departed this world and his papers are published.

In the end, it looks like Ahmadinejad won this round. All we know for sure is that he gave the British men some new suits (likely from his own tailor), and the woman got some ugly clothes and a headscarf. He gave them all some lovely parting gifts, shook their hands, and let them leave Iran. And he got to say that he did it out of the goodness of his heart.

I doubt if the 15 really care what brought about their release. They're just happy to be home.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Short Timer

Spring Break is over now, so yesterday it was back to class for me, followed by a return to work after class. I wouldn't have needed to go back to work last night, except I'm taking today as my final Personal Day Off (Personal Days are use-it-or-lose-it types), and I wanted to finish up a couple things first.

I left work around 10:00, and as I was driving home, I didn't think about work (beyond a brief prayer of thanks that I had gone back after class, because I caught a problem in time to get it fixed). Instead, my mind was full of all the things I need to do to get ready for the house sale or the trip.

I feel the difference. At work, my concern is becoming trying to pass on my knowledge to the newer people before I go, clearing out the unnecessary things, and making sure they don't just box up my trash when I leave and save it for me in case I come back (that actually happened to me once, only they didn't know it was trash).

Really, though, I'm done. My mind has shifted gears. My last day at work is April 16 (but who's counting?), and I'm eager to get started on the next stage in my life.

And at the same time, I'm scared to leave the familiar routine with its steady paycheck and people who I can laugh as well as commiserate with. It's frightening to be leaving my moorings and stepping into an uncertain future (much like I imagine that first step onto the Grand Canyon Skywalk would be). I'm plagued with all sorts of "What if's," from the financial to the practical to the relational.

But in the end, though I have fears, I have no doubts. There are no nagging voices in the back of my head or in my gut saying, "Are you sure you want to do this?" No, all the nags are at peace. And so am I.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Brit Blames US for Iran Taking Hostages

You had to know it was coming. Someone, somewhere, would find a way to place the blame on the US for Iran's taking 15 British sailors hostage. Patrick Cockburn's Exclusive Report in today's The Independent (UK) does just that:

A failed American attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq was the starting pistol for a crisis that 10 weeks later led to Iranians seizing 15 British sailors and Marines.

Ten weeks? The Iranians waited ten weeks to retaliate? And then, when they were finally ready, they got back but good at us--the United States of America, remember--by abducting British Royal Navy personnel. Yep, I see the direct link. Uh huh. Right.

Cockburn devotes most of his report to describing the US raid that resulted in the capture of five "relatively junior Iranian officials," but not the capture of two big targets.

The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.

He ends his report this way:

For more than a year the US and its allies have been trying to put pressure on Iran. Security sources in Iraqi Kurdistan have long said that the US is backing Iranian Kurdish guerrillas in Iran. The US is also reportedly backing Sunni Arab dissidents in Khuzestan in southern Iran who are opposed to the government in Tehran. On 4 February soldiers from the Iraqi army 36th Commando battalion in Baghdad, considered to be under American control, seized Jalal Sharafi, an Iranian diplomat.

The raid in Arbil was a far more serious and aggressive act. It was not carried out by proxies but by US forces directly. The abortive Arbil raid provoked a dangerous escalation in the confrontation between the US and Iran which ultimately led to the capture of the 15 British sailors and Marines - apparently considered a more vulnerable coalition target than their American comrades. (emphasis added)

Cockburn offers no connection between the two events, beyond his own opinion. People see what they want to see, and apparently Cockburn wants to see the US taking the blame for the kidnapping. Heaven forbid that Iran should be held accountable for its own actions.

Monday, April 02, 2007


I have to admit that Charlie got me. In my defense, I didn't read it until today.

It was the comment, "HA HA. :-)", that made me reconsider the wisdom of recommending shorting Coke stock. So I looked up "coke goes green" on Google, and got Charlie's post as the best match. But among the other, less good, matches I found this:

Wacky Uses for Coke. It's got all sorts of ways to use Coke and put its various properties (phosphoric acid, sugar, bubbles) to work. Just a few:

Clean a toilet bowl. Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl. Let the real thing sit for one hour, then brush and flush clean. The phosphoric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china, according to household-hints columnist Heloise.

Clean tarnished pennies. Fill a drinking glass with Coca-Cola and drop in the pennies. Let sit for one hour, then wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Get rid of fruit flies. Use an electric drill with a one-quarter-inch bit to drill a hole in the cap of a two liter Coke bottle. Leave one inch of Classic Coke (not diet or caffeine-free) in the bottom of the bottle, and set outside. Fruit flies will crawl into the bottle to enjoy the Real Thing, but won’t be able to get back out.

That last one was a problem at my house last year. I kept having fruit flies around the kitchen, and I'd spray them with shower spray or smash them (when they agreed to land on something) with a paper towel, but they just kept coming. It made me wonder why the grocery store was having such a problem keeping the flies from the fruit.

But then I discovered that the girls, who had gone camping with my ex-husband, had never cleaned out the cooler. They just tucked it into an out-of-the-way corner to wait for the other one to clean it. When I came across it, I saw fruit flies hovering around the edge of the lid. I just made sure the lid was shut tight, carried it outside, and put it in the garbage can.

We haven't had a problem with fruit flies since. But if we do, I'll buy a bottle of Coke and drill a hole in the lid.

So thank you, Charlie, for your fine Business Reporting. With all these new (to me) uses for Coke, maybe I should buy (not short) some stock in the company.