Sunday, December 26, 2004

A Tale of Two Cities


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I'm moving tomorrow. I'm not even close to being totally finished with packing. Mikey came over last night and instead of packing like I should have, we goofed around and dyed my hair. This is what it looks like, even though it was supposed to be 'light golden brown'. My hair is freakish that way and never takes the color it's supposed to.

Anyway, I'm kinda freaking out because, not surprisingly, I've waited until the last minute. You probably won't hear from me for a few days but I wanted to say I hope you all had great holidays and that you got what you wanted. I have a couple of nearly-finished posts to complete when I get set up in my new place. Wish me luck on my move and I'll see you all in Motown! :P



Currently Playing...
Song: Lush - Take
Book: Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Geese, Long Overdue


One up in the photo journal: The West Virginian Goose Obsession II



Currently Playing...
Song: Melanie C - I Turn To You (Hex Hector Mix)
Book: The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Photo Friday: Tacky



Fun With Audioblogger


Angie rented episodes 5-8 of The L Word in order to catch up (she came in halfway through the season). We both were exhausted tonight, and you know how you sometimes get stupid and giddy when you're beyond tired. I've been in sleep deficit for the past couple of days, and Angie got up early to help build a Habitat For Humanity house at 8 am, after going to bed late last night.

So anyway, we watched an episode last night, and two tonight. After the second one, she declared she'd had enough for the night, though we sat there for a while with the DVD menu still on-screen. Angie started playing with features, taking me back to the scene in episode 4 where Alice and Shane are at The Planet hammering out the details of Shane and Alice's mom kissing. This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire first series, and therein lie a couple of gems I love. Angie at some point noticed the option to watch the series in Spanish, so we watched parts of dubbed-over episodes that we alternately heckled and laughed at. Dubbing in general is just goofy, but what I hate most of all is the dubbed-over sound effects, the voice actors in a studio watching a tape going, "Mmmm.. oohh.. aaahh.. mmm.."

Anyway, if you buy or rent the first season DVDs, I highly recommending watching some scenes in Spanish. There's a part in my favorite scene where Alice, in defense of hearing the gory details about how sexy and wild her mom is, grabs a pillow from the couch she's sitting on, covers her head and ears with it, and starts singing, "My baloney has a first name, it's O-s-c-a-r, my boloney has a second name.." Angie said she had to see the Spanish version, and I agreed. We had to watch it more than once, it was so damn funny. Here it is, in all its glory:


this is an audio post - click to play

Astrology Can Be Scary Sometimes


All I can say is WOW... I had to read the first line three times, it is so embarrassingly true.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) You need the gift of a financial advisor. And the realization that you do have possessions, that you have values, and that they need not always be destroyed in the throes of your constant feelings of death and regeneration. You need the gift of a bronze, silver, or gold phoenix so that you always understand that out of the ashen chaos of conflict comes the next harmonious tone. (Risa's Horoscopes)



Currently Playing...
Song: Ani DiFranco - Educated Guess (World Cafe Broadcast)
Book: The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Photo Friday


This week's challenge: 'Abandoned'

Buncha Crap


I sold my Bean Boots on eBay for $36, which I'm pretty happy with because I didn't expect I'd actually get any bids on it. I mean, who wants ladies' size 8 wide Bean Boots? Apparently, a woman in Texas, and I got it shipped off to her today. Because it was a credit card payment, I finally had to bite the bullet and upgrade to PayPal Premium or whatever. When I upgraded, I was reading through all the 'features' and started playing with an idea. I'm perpetually broke, but you know, I make stuff that I could potentially sell. Would anyone be interested in purchasing bubble magnets (sets of six in a unique tin) or maybe some personalized musical creations (small pieces of art in their own form)? Use the comments to let me know. You could help a starving student move!

I took the second part of my Sociology final today and I think I did very well. It was a multiple choice vocabulary exam, eighty questions, and I breezed through it in about half an hour. It's been kind of a weird day overall, and never have I wished so much that I'd brought my camera with me. Right at the beginning of the test, my mechanical pencil just stopped working and I was unable to fix it. I still have no idea what is wrong with it. I had to rummage through my backpack to find a pencil and when I did, it was broken so I had to get up and go into the hall to sharpen it. The test itself was pretty easy; I'm generally pretty good at vocab as long as it's not names or dates, plus I've felt all semester long that I had a pretty good grasp on the material. The teacher had our grades with him, and amazingly I have 89.75%, which, after my vocab test score, should be pushed into the A range. I may indeed leave WVUP with a 4.0. w00t!

Maybe the weather is causing the weirdness, it's been hovering around freezing with extremely biting winds and a little snow. I stopped by Lowe's to get some packing tape, and neither of the two employees I asked, one of which belonged to the department in which it was eventually found, knew where it was. Then, in an aisle, I passed by two women, one of which was holding a grey poodle with a pink sweatshirt. It was so bizarre and out of place I wished I had a camera.

This day has been so odd that I checked Risa's Horoscopes to see if any cosmic movements are to blame. I believe in astrology to a point, and fully recognize that most syndicated horoscopes are so generalized they could apply to anyone. There are talented astrologists, however; when I lived in Santa Cruz, I read Risa's column weekly in the Good Times, a local newspaper. Sometimes her columns were so spot-on that I would have to cut them out and paste them into my journal to help describe what I was experiencing. I always enjoyed reading her insights on the predicted effect of planetary movements, plus the actual horoscopes never cease to amaze me.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) A shift is occurring and perhaps you feel it underneath your feet, in all interactions, and especially within your finances. It´s good to retreat a bit so the desert mirage of constantly changing pictures can recede into the background. A connection occurs during the New Moon. Risk opening yourself and the results will soothe you.




Currently Playing...
Song: BT - Simply Being Loved
Book: The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Stuff


This is a quick update because I have to head to work in a little bit. The semester is thankfully coming to a close. I had a Sociology final on Wednesday, my math final is next Wednesday, and I've also been trying to get loose ends tied up here before my move on the 27th.

The Sociology final was a little frustrating. There were 150 questions, 50 of them written with one essay, and the class itself is only an hour and forty-five minutes long. Even if we'd started right when class did, I would still have felt very rushed. But the teacher squandered fifteen precious minutes talking about nothing -- actually, he spent about two of the fifteen telling us important things, and then kind of babbled the rest of the time. I kept thinking, Oh my god, hurry up, I have to get started! Oh my god, stop talking, please, nooooooooo!

The way the teacher does the final is he has two parts; the first part is given during the last class period, and if you get less than 95% on it, you have to come back during finals week to take the second part, which is a vocab test. Admittedly, I didn't study as hard as I should have and of course there was a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know. Because 2/3 of the test was multiple choice, I was generally able to make decent guesses, but when it came to the written part, time was really ticking and I found I couldn't remember a few things. I'd wanted to write a good essay -- it was on female circumcision from a culturally relativistic point of view -- and ended up having to skip to the end to start working on that as my time drained away.

I wouldn't have been so worried about time if I hadn't had my math class in the next period. The essay ended up being only a few paragraphs, which disappointed me because I could have done much better, but at least I got my points across very well. I had to leave a couple of questions mostly blank because I couldn't even remember the terms he was using to ask for examples. Blaaargh!

When I finished the test as much as I could, I brought it up to him and said, "Well, I'll be seeing you next week." He kind of laughed and I explained I felt I sort of blew the test, so he pulled out his answer key and showed me what I'd blanked out on, which of course made me feel even dumber because as soon as I saw the answers, I was like, DUH! But then he said because of the number of questions, I could miss 20 and still make an A.

I don't know what my grade was on Part I, but I have to go back on Monday to take the second part. Sucky, but it's entirely my fault. Also, during the semester, our chapter tests were online, which, while cool, totally did not help me out because I kept forgetting I had to take them until the test deadline had already passed. So I think I missed something like four tests, which is bad news. He said he'd give me a lot of extra credit for speaking at the sexuality panel, and while I know I don't deserve an A, I would be so happy at this point if I scraped by with a B.

I've fallen behind in math this semester because of my laziness, but the teacher gave us a list of sample problems to study, and I am going to force myself to work through them so that I can pass the test with flying colors. I'm in Intermediate Algebra now, but have to work up to Intro to Calculus, so for my own sake, I want to have a solid foundation to stand on. I do not have a good history with math and have always struggled with it, at least until I met this teacher. I know I can do it if I put effort into it, and that if I work I can understand it.

Other than that, I'm getting all geared up to move. The truck is reserved, I switched over power and phone service, so I now have my new address and phone number. Aside from packing and cleaning, the only thing I have left to do is submit my mail forwarding card at the post office. Things at least feel more real now, but there is still a sort of surreal feeling that I'm actually leaving here, leaving Angie, leaving my shite job, etc. I'm very excited about it, though, especially as every day in the past week or so, I've come home to something annoying because of my neighbors. I just keep thinking to myself, Only a couple more weeks..

My last day at OG is Christmas Eve. I was going to make it the 23rd instead, but I heard that it's a good money day. I still don't have a job lined up in Morgantown, but I have my eye on two places.. first choice is Cafe Bacchus, a fine dining restaurant that has a real chef and looks swank, or the Radisson, which is also a very nice hotel (plus they're hiring for full-time banquet servers, which is what I'd want to do there, maybe I can talk them into part-time).

That's about it for now, sorry at the lack of posting in the past few days. I'm a little preoccupied right now. :)



Currently Playing...
Song: Eat Static - Area 51
Book: The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Monday, December 06, 2004

J'écris


I just finished a piece for The Lesbian Lifestyle, called Rearview Mirror. It's about an abusive relationship I was in a few years ago. In all this time, I haven't written anything about this part of my life, other than a few references to a psycho ex. I came across TLL and knew it was the time to get it out, as I can't completely work through a serious issue without writing about it.. Writing helps my mental flow by allowing me to work out things I have blocks on.

So anyway, it's kind of personal so be nice with the comments. Thx.

P.S. Is anyone experiencing lengthy load times on this site? Just curious if it's me or if I need to do some tweaking.



Currently Playing...
Song: Indigo Girls - Dead Man's Hill
Book: Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Learn From My Mistakes


I like the idea of having separate categories for filing posts under. I may add such a feature in the near future, if I can come up with a list. Anyway, I have an idea for a new category, which I call "Learn From My Mistakes". Considering how hell-bent I am on ignoring advice and doing everything the wrong way first, this should be a busy category.

This first entry is going to be a party entry. You see, I have a long-standing relationship with marijuana, so Mary Jane and I have gotten to know each other very well. I have learned when and when not to smoke. I am not going to get into lecture mode or go into detail about all of these. Instead, I would like to talk about something very important when it comes to marijuana.

OMG.. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT smoke pot when you are drunk. I have yet to meet anyone who is strong enough to avoid getting pummeled by such a combination. Smoking before drinking seems to be fine, but once you become intoxicated, forget it unless you enjoy intense room spinning and and intermittent, uncontrollable hurking. The rest of the time, you're lying on the bathroom floor thinking death is better than this. If this is your idea of a good time, then by all means, be my guest.

Never trust your judgement while inebriated. You may think you're hardly drunk and can handle getting high, you may even forget that smoking weed while drunk is a seriously bad idea. Whatever the case may be, take my experienced advice and don't do it. Last night, after forgetting I shouldn't smoke while that drunk, I spent what felt like days trapped in an unending hell. I hardly had anything in my stomach, but my body so did not care. All I wanted was to fall asleep so it would end, but I was cold on the tile floor and yet unable to stand up and walk to bed without throwing up again. The one time I made it, I only got to savor the warmth for a couple minutes before I started gagging again and had to run to the bathroom. When I say it's not pretty, it really isn't.

You can ask Mikey, he'll back me up. He was drunk one night at my house, but told me he wasn't. I could tell he kinda was, but stupidly took him at his drunken word and acquiesced when he asked to smoke a bowl. If I'd known just how drunk he was, I could have prevented the tragedy that followed; he ended up sick as a dog, puked, and had to crash on my couch.

Thankfully, this hasn't happened very frequently to me, as I early on decided to stay far away from such a combination. It's a little odd to me that being baked beforehand seems to be fine; I have been pleasantly stoned and drunk at parties before with no ill effects other than normal hangover-edness. I don't know what it is when you're drunk and then smoke, but it seems to majorly increase the room spinning effect, which, when really bad, is generally what makes me puke on alcohol alone. You might say to yourself that marijuana is an anti-emetic, and that I'm full of crap. I really don't know what it is, but again I beg you to trust me when it comes to this. Learn from my pain and suffering, lest it be for naught.



Currently Playing...
Song: Dar Williams - Mortal City
Book: Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!
(I'm getting closer! Three more completed offers needed.)

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Girly Things


I've been really broke and unable to justify blowing $16 on something like eyebrow waxing. As much as it is obvious that I shouldn't go without it. Soooo.. this is my very first attempt EVAR, plucking my own eyebrows. No one has ever taught me and I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I mighta gotten a little crazy on the right one, but what do I know. Hopefully one of you will tell me if it looks like shit so that I can wear a bag over my head when I go out.

Don't be all like "Aaaaaaah!" when the picture opens, be forewarned it's a close-up of my face. (duh)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Buy Me


In financial desperation, I had an epiphany last night as I was falling asleep. Does anyone else do their best creative thinking as they're drifting off? Anyway, I realized that I do indeed have something sellable on eBay: my hardly used Bean Boots. They're a women's 8 wide and are clean enough to eat off. I've worn them maybe twice, and both times were only inside.

Soooo, read the listing if you want 'em.



Currently Playing...
Song: Vanessa Mae - Aurora
Book: Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono (been working on it for like 2 years, finallllllly getting to the end)
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Why Target Is Better Than Wal-Mart


Say you're having a party, and are having trouble deciding what to stock for your guests. Well, Target is the one-stop shop for all your party needs. You can pick up a keg bucket, party favors, plastic cups, paper plates, snacks, and best of all, while you're there you can also purchase the supplies that set apart a rockin' awesome party from the normal boring ones: marijuana and crack.

I'm not kidding. Click the links to see for yourself. And, in case you haven't the bread to throw down, you can always add marijuana and crack to your wishlist!

Target is kind enough to suggest some self-help books, as well, should you find yourself unable to continue the non-stop party. (thanks to Jesus' General for the tip on some good shopping)



Currently Playing...
Song: Rank 1 - It's Up to You
Book: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

This Post Is Probably Not For Everyone


The content hereafter comes with a great big ole warning: none of this is for the squeamish or faint of heart. If you're easily disgusted, you will most assuredly be better off by ignoring the rest of this post.

That said, if you are strong-stomached and/or scientifically interested in such things, you should take a look at Malady of the Month (ganked from memepool). The pictures are decidedly gross, but I'm rather fascinated with the descriptions of these conditions. I've always been interested in illness and disease because of their roles in the grand scheme of ecology. Genetic mutations interest me, too, for similar reasons, and because evolution is wholly dependent on how a species can adapt and change.

I'm a biologist and my interest in these things is entirely scientific. I don't get any sort of thrill by looking at gross stuff and my intention here is not to disgust or shock. For those of you with the stomach, I am going to post a link to this, a birth defect called Harlequin Fetus, simply because, in scientific terms, it is the absolute freakiest thing I have ever seen. It looks like something concocted by The X-Files and I foresee having nightmares involving freakish red-eyed babies.



Currently Playing...
Song: R.E.M. - Legacy
Book: Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Email from Dave - Nov 19, 04
(courtesy The Green Side)


Dear Dad -

Just came out of the city and I honestly do not know where to start. I am afraid that whatever I send you will not do sufficient honor to the men who fought and took Fallujah.

Shortly before the attack, Task Force Fallujah was built. It consisted of Regimental Combat Team 1 built around 1st Marine Regiment and Regimental Combat Team 7 built around 7th Marine Regiment. Each Regiment consisted of two Marine Rifle Battalions reinforced and one Army mechanized infantry battalion.

Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) consisted of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (3rd LAR), 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (3/5); 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines (3/1)and 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry (2/7). RCT-7 was slightly less weighted but still a formidable force. Cutting a swath around the city was an Army Brigade known as Blackjack. The Marine RCT's were to assault the city while Blackjack kept the enemy off of the backs of the assault force.

The night prior to the actual invasion, we all moved out into the desert just north of the city. It was something to see. You could just feel the intensity in the Marines and Soldiers. It was all business. As the day cleared, the Task Force began striking targets and moving into final attack positions. As the invasion force commenced its movement into attack positions, 3rd LAR led off RCT-1's offensive with an attack up a peninsula formed by the Euphrates River on the west side of the city. Their mission was to secure the Fallujah Hospital and the two bridges leading out of the city. They executed there tasks like clockwork and smashed the enemy resistance holding the bridges. Simultaneous to all of this, Blackjack sealed the escape routes to the south of the city. As invasion day dawned, the net was around the city and the Marines and Soldiers knew that the enemy that failed to escape was now sealed.

3/5 began the actual attack on the city by taking an apartment complex on the northwest corner of the city. It was key terrain as the elevated positions allowed the command to look down into the attack lanes. The Marines took the apartments quickly and moved to the rooftops and began engaging enemy that were trying to move into their fighting positions. The scene on the rooftop was surreal. Machine gun teams were running boxes of ammo up 8 flights of stairs in full body armor and carrying up machine guns while snipers engaged enemy shooters. The whole time the enemy was firing mortars and rockets at the apartments. Honest to God, I don't think I saw a single Marine even distracted by the enemy fire. Their squad leaders, and platoon commanders had them prepared and they were executing their assigned tasks.

As mentioned, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry joined the Regiment just prior to the fight. In fact, they started showing up for planning a couple of weeks in advance. There is always a professional rivalry between the Army and the Marine Corps but it was obvious from the outset that these guys were the real deal. They had fought in Najaf and were eager to fight with the Regiment in Fallujah. They are exceptionally well led and supremely confident.

2/7 became our wedge. In short, they worked with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. We were limited in the amount of prep fires that we were allowed to fire on the city prior to the invasion. This was a point of some consternation to the forces actually taking the city. Our compensation was to turn to 2/7 and ask them to slash into the city and create as much turbulence as possible for 3/1 to follow. Because of the political reality, the Marine Corps was also under pressure to "get it done quickly." For this reason, 2/7 and 3/1 became the penetration force into the city.

Immediately following 3/5's attack on the apartment buildings, 3/1 took the train station on the north end of the city. While the engineers blew a breach through the train trestle, the Cavalry soldiers poured through with their tanks and Bradley's and chewed an opening in the enemy defense. 3/1 followed them through until they reached a phase line deep into the northern half of the city. The Marine infantry along with a few tanks then turned to the right and attacked the heart of the enemy defense. The fighting was tough as the enemy had the area dialed in with mortars. 3/5 then attacked into the northwest corner of the city. This fight continued as both Marine rifle battalions clawed their way into the city on different axis.

There is an image burned into my brain that I hope I never forget. We came up behind 3/5 one day as the lead squads were working down the Byzantine streets of the Jolan area. An assault team of two Marines ran out from behind cover and put a rocket into a wall of an enemy strongpoint. Before the smoke cleared the squad behind them was up and moving through the hole and clearing the house. Just down the block another squad was doing the same thing. The house was cleared quickly and the Marines were running down the street to the next contact. Even in the midst of that mayhem, it was an awesome site.

The fighting has been incredibly close inside the city. The enemy is willing to die and is literally waiting until they see the whites of the eyes of the Marines before they open up. Just two days ago, as a firefight raged in close quarters, one of the interpreters yelled for the enemy in the house to surrender. The enemy yelled back that it was better to die and go to heaven than to surrender to infidels. This exchange is a graphic window into the world that the Marines and Soldiers have been fighting in these last 10 days.

I could go on and on about how the city was taken but one of the most amazing aspects to the fighting was that we saw virtually no civilians during the battle. Only after the fighting had passed did a few come out of their homes. They were provided food and water and most were evacuated out of the city. At least 90-95% of the people were gone from the city when we attacked.

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

The second example comes from 3/1. Cpl Mitchell is a squad leader. He was wounded as his squad was clearing a house when some enemy threw pineapple grenades down on top of them. As he was getting triaged, the doctor told him that he had been shot through the arm. Cpl Mitchell told the doctor that he had actually been shot "a couple of days ago" and had given himself self aide on the wound. When the doctor got on him about not coming off the line, he firmly told the doctor that he was a squad leader and did not have time to get treated as his men were still fighting. There are a number of Marines who have been wounded multiple times but refuse to leave their fellow Marines.

It is incredibly humbling to walk among such men. They fought as hard as any Marines in history and deserve to be remembered as such. The enemy they fought burrowed into houses and fired through mouse holes cut in walls, lured them into houses rigged with explosives and detonated the houses on pursuing Marines, and actually hid behind surrender flags only to engage the Marines with small arms fire once they perceived that the Marines had let their guard down. I know of several instances where near dead enemy rolled grenades out on Marines who were preparing to render them aid. It was a fight to the finish in every sense and the Marines delivered.

I have called the enemy cowards many times in the past because they have never really held their ground and fought but these guys in the city did. We can call them many things but they were not cowards.

My whole life I have read about the greatest generation and sat in wonder at their accomplishments. For the first time, as I watch these Marines and Soldiers, I am eager for the future as this is just the beginning for them. Perhaps the most amazing characteristic of all is that the morale of the men is sky high. They hurt for the wounded and the dead but they are eager to continue to attack. Further, not one of them would be comfortable with being called a hero even though they clearly are.

By now the Marines and Soldiers have killed well over a thousand enemy. These were not peasants or rabble. They were reasonably well trained and entirely fanatical. Most of the enemy we have seen have chest rigs full of ammunition and are well armed are willing to fight to the death. The Marines and Soldiers are eager to close with them and the fighting at the end is inevitably close.

I will write you more the next time I come in about what we have found inside the city. All I can say is that even with everything that I knew and expected from the last nine months, the brutality and fanaticism of the enemy surprised me. The beheadings were even more common place than we thought but so were torture and summary executions. Even though it is an exaggeration, it seems as though every block in the northern part of the city has a torture chamber or execution site. There are hundreds of tons of munitions and tens of thousands of weapons that our Regiment alone has recovered. The Marines and Soldiers of the Regiment have also found over 400 IEDs already wired and ready to detonate. No doubt these numbers will grow in the days ahead.

In closing, I want to share with you a vignette about when the Marines secured the Old Bridge (the one where the Americans were mutilated and hung on March 31) this week. After the Marines had done all the work and secured the bridge, we walked across to meet up with 3rd LAR on the other side. On the Fallujah side of the bridge where the Americans were hung there is some Arabic writing on the bridge. An interpreter translated it for me as we walked through. It read: "Long Live the Mujahadeen. Fallujah is the Graveyard for Americans and the end of the Marine Corps."

As I came back across the bridge there was a squad sitting in their Amtrac smoking and watching the show. The Marines had written their own message below the enemy's. It is not something that Mom would appreciate but it fit the moment to a T. Not far from the vehicle were two dead enemy laying where they died. The Marines were sick of watching the "Dog and Pony show" and wanted to get back to work.

Dave

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Random Thought


I wish I got less spam telling me I need to enlarge my penis. It's making me feel really inadequate. What's wrong with my penis??



Currently Playing...
Song: Santana - I'm Winning
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Quickie


I came across The Strangerhood, a series of quasi-TV episodes created using Sims 2. There's only a couple of episodes and a trailer available currently, but they're really well done. In some ways, it's like watching That 70's Show, only with Sims and not in the 70's. Check it out, if you like that kind of thing.

Are you downloading Lost? Why the hell not?



Currently Playing...
Song: The Owls - City Girl
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Mission Accomplished


The sexuality panel went pretty well, though I was incredibly nervous, so I don't think I was my most eloquent. Only five of us made it: a Universal Unitarian minister, a transsexual, the daughter of a lesbian, a drag queen/gay man, and me. The questions were a lot tamer than I expected, and only a couple of questions (to the minister) stood out to me as negative, baiting, and/or clueless.

Before the program started, apparently some of the people helping prepare encountered a bigoted Avon lady in the school corridor. I didn't see her myself, but she had a booth set up somewhere, and when she heard there were to be gay people speaking at an event, she queried, "They let those kind of people go to school here?" She went on to inform her listeners that she would never, ever let her grandson go to my school, since they let in gay people, and instead she would send him to an Ivy League school. It must be nice living in a fantasy world.. after all, I'd be willing to bet even the most religious private colleges have gay people.

She got a few of the people riled up and they went off to go visit her again. I do know the drag queen walked past the table in full regalia, but reported no reaction from the lady. I explained that the lady probably was in such denial about homosexuality that she likely didn't recognize that Lucy was really a man.

As for the actual event, it was a little nerve-wracking. We had to file down the steps to the stage from the entrance in back of the theater, and everyone was walking so slowly. The people in the audience had all turned and were staring. Gaaaah. I just wanted to get down the steps and sit down. My professor introduced us once we were sitting, the house lights were turned off and the bright stage lights turned on us. We each introduced ourselves, giving the audience enough time to draft their questions. I didn't get as much floor time as the minister and the transsexual, but that's to be expected. The devout Christians around here seem to have trouble reconciling a minister who doesn't believe homosexuality is a sin.

The minister performs religious ceremonies for gay couples wishing to be 'married'. She was very eloquent and had a lot of great points, such as the Bible barely mentioning homosexuality and Jesus never having spoken on the subject, as well as his tendency to accept and accompany diverse groups of people. Someone asked whether she believed homosexuality was on par "with such deviant behavior as bestiality and necrophilia", to which she explained that she did not believe two consenting adults being in love is a sin. There was a question not long after that asked a follow up, "Would you marry a son and a mother, since you believe two consenting adults should have that right?" to which the minister said simply, in a very dignified manner, "No."

Lucy/Jacob and I got asked whether we'd ever had sex with someone of the opposite sex, and whether we thought that would 'fix our problem'. I explained that I fought with my homosexuality for several years, and in that time I really did try to be straight. I explained that straight people could put themselves into a gay person's shoes, and ask themselves whether they could see themselves having sex with someone of the same gender. The answer is no, because that key chemistry is not there. I said I always thought sex was overrated until I was with my first girlfriend, and after that, I finally understood what the ado was about, and what had been missing.

Then because I said I'd slept with men, someone asked whether I considered myself bisexual. I talked about how I believe sexuality is fluid and that people fall in varying degrees on the scale that can't sometimes be labeled exactly. I explained that the GLBT community has a lot of different labels to choose from and that we are free to use whichever label(s) we feel fits us best. And I told them no, that I consider myself a lesbian because I really don't feel about men the way I do women.

Lucy Lipps gave a small performance of a drag show, which was good. Other than that, the questions were good and generally respectful, and it all sort of passed in a blur. We had like a one-person standing ovation at the end (from what I could see of them in the dark, it looked like a lesbian).

Totally unrelated, but I wanted to pass on a couple things. Ernie usually has great links, and yesterday I stumbled across a site with torrents for the show Lost. I hadn't heard of it, but it sounded interesting, so I downloaded them. OMFG, this show kicks ass! If you have not seen it, download them now. Everything about it is well done, and the acting doesn't suck (in fact, it's got the older brother from Party of Five, and he's pretty good). His love interest looks like a cross between Jennifer Garner and Jessica Beals, but even sexier. How that is possible, I don't know, but it just is. Take my word for it, she's teh hawtness. The pace of each episode is deliciously slow, allowing plenty of time to absorb all the details as you watch things unfold and become revealed. The characters and storylines are complex and will keep you hooked, as you try to figure out the meanings and connections behind different events. Good stuff.

I usually use DivX to watch films and shows, but I had a problem with the audio being far ahead of the video in the fifth episode. I don't know much about codecs and stuff, so half the time if I have video problems, I don't know what I'm doing. So I tried to find software or something to help me re-sync this episode. I did find a program, but it crashed on me, so I decided to try Zoom Player, which has the built-in feature of automatically fixing audio/video lags and re-syncing the video for you. I like it tons more than Windows Media Player or DivX, for one, it's a lot more customizable and user-friendly. It even tells you what codecs you're missing, which is much appreciated, as WMP and DivX will usually only give off an error and, maybe if you're lucky, tell you you're missing one. They usually don't specify which ones, or tell you how to get them.

Zoom Player is sleek and I could be imagining it, but I think the video quality is better. This could be because I got some missing codecs, but I do think the images are much crisper. Plus I like the precision of the time bar way more than in either of the other players. Oh yeah, and best of all, it's free!

Angie's cat, Stinky, is staying with me for a week while Angie spends Thanksgiving at her brother's in Florida. I lurve cats to death, and I especially love Stinky, but I was a little worried that she wouldn't like it here or that she'd miss Angie a lot. However, she seems to have settled in just fine (that's the back of the chair I sit on while using the computer.. she's perched up behind me now)..



That's all I got for now. I have two more episodes to watch and I'm jonesing to know what happens.



Currently Playing...
Song: Indigo Girls - Mystery
Book: Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Birthday Bonanza


So yeah, I'm officially 28 now, though of course I don't feel any older. I've had a few months to get accustomed to attaching the number to myself, so it's not so much of a shock anymore. I'm 28. Can't even loosely call myself mid-twenties anymore. I've definitely moved into the range of late-twenties.

Ah, well, what can ya do. My birthday in practice was less a bonanza (but it was fun to use the word) and more that I had to go home early from school because I felt sick as a dog. All I wanted to do was lay on the couch and watch TV, but due to poverty and my aversion to television, I don't get any channels. Plus I wanted company, so I ended up going over to Angie's to monopolize her couch and veg out for a while; she was kind enough to heat up soup for me and provide crackers, as well as blankets and a pillow on the couch. She'd also made a cake for me, so I even got to make a wish. Very thoughtful and sweet.

I felt much better after I ate, and the cake, ice cream, and hot fudge later were gooooood. Even better was that I'd just gotten my sense of taste back from this damn cold, so I could mostly taste everything. Yummy. I watched TV for a while and we ended up watching Saved! (great movie, very funny), then channel surfing until we landed on some program on the Bermuda Triangle.

All in all, it was a very good, mellow birthday. I really love Angie and she has developed into one of the best friends I've ever had. I told her so tonight.

I have to go up to Morgantown tomorrow to look at an apartment, which sounds promising and is much more in my price range than anything else I've found. I've been really stressed over my finances for at least two weeks, having come to the realization that I wouldn't have enough money to move to Morgantown in December as planned. I figured that I spent at least half my loan money on car repairs, which, had the timing been better, would have totally covered my expenses. No matter how I stretched it or even if I worked more, I wouldn't have enough. I'm a big worrier anyway, like if I don't have something to worry about, I'll make one up, so I figure the money stress was at least part of the reason I got sick.

I was stressed to the max and finally had to ask my mom for help, which these days is truly a last resort. I requested a loan that I would repay when my school loan money arrived, and after talking, she gave me the sum that I needed. I told her I felt badly taking, not borrowing, when I know they don't have it to spare right now, but she said she feels it's a parent's responsibility to help their children go through university. Plus she didn't want me to stay here any longer than I had to (thank God, cause me either).

So that has definitely taken a load off my mind. I still need to work more and be very careful with money, but the bulk of the pressure is off.

Other than that, after coming back from Motown tomorrow, I will be participating in my Sociology professor's semesterly sexuality panel. He's a really cool guy, my teacher, and I jumped at the chance to participate. I figure a lot of people in this area don't have much contact with the gay community (to their knowledge, anyway, heh), and I feel proud to be able to be a face they can put with with the label.

There are about seven to ten panelists a semester, from varying walks of life. This year there will be a transsexual (male to female), a bisexual woman, a drag queen, a lesbian (me), the mother of a gay man.. two more, I think, but I can't remember. The program is only offered in Sociology classes, and students are given extra credit for attending. Attending is not mandatory and the class got lectured on the rules, in an attempt to weed out disruptive people. People can ask the panel just about everything barring anything insulting or hateful.

The teacher hands out 3x5 cards for audience questions, which get sent back to him in order to filter out anything inappropriate (i.e. slanderous, preachy, etc.), but otherwise doesn't change the content of the question. So.. should be interesting. I'm interested in meeting the other panelists, and hearing their questions and answers.



Currently Playing...
Song: Opera - Dido - When I Am Laid In Earth
Book: Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Mere Slip of a Post


I'm currently zonked out of my head with a particularly nasty cold. I apologize for not keeping up with comments, but I simply haven't had the mental energy to compose responses. I kept trying, but my brain just craps out on me partway through and I keep having to delete everything.

In the midst of my zombie haze, I managed to finish my Burn It mix. Not only that, I burnt the CDs and made the covers, too. Not my finest work, artistically, but it'll have to do. Somehow in the creation and continued tweaking of said mix, I failed to notice that the final change I'd made somehow didn't stick, and ended up burning it to all seven discs before I caught it. Not the biggest deal, but I'd moved that song for a reason, damn it.

I had too many songs in my rough draft to fit on one CD, and it was a very difficult decision when I had to pare them down. Despite their integrity to my high school experience, I opted to take off some of the more potentially-annoying songs. For the cheese factor, I'd tried to find some Milli Vanilli and Paula Abdul, but OMG, what absolute frippin' crap-ola did I used to listen to? Damn, that music sucked so bad I found myself unable to sit through a single song. My beloved Go-Go's didn't make the cut, either.

Here's the final, final mix:

1. Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance
2. The Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women
3. Counting Crows - Round Here
4. Sinead O'Connor - Nothing Compares to U
5. Aerosmith - Janie's Got a Gun
6. Primus - Winona's Big Brown Beaver
7. Metallica - Enter Sandman
8. Jane's Addiction - Been Caught Stealing
9. They Might Be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
10. R.E.M. - Nightswimming
11. Nine Inch Nails - Something I Can Never Have
12. Depeche Mode - New Dress
13. The Uninvited - Too High For the Supermarket
14. Nirvana - Territorial Pissings
15. Nena - 99 Luftballons
16. The Cure - To Wish Impossible Things



P.S....
Help me get a free iPod by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Jackpot!


Finally, after endless trying, I did it...




I sent a couple pictures to Sorry Everybody, this one was posted today:




I'm sure I misspelled Al-Qaeda, but whatever.

Yikes, I'm Getting Old


My birthday has totally crept up on me for the first time ever in my life. Usually I'm well aware my birthday is arriving beginning a couple months in advance, but this time, it didn't even occur to me until sometime last week. "Oh shit. My birthday's not next week, is it? Oh my god, it is." I'll be 28, and honestly, the age thing is starting to freak me out a little. After all, in two years, I'll be 30 -- MAKE IT STOP, I DON'T FEEL 30, MAKE IT STOP, I'M NOT READY!

Angie called me on Friday and the first thing she said was, "So the countdown begins."

I didn't know what she was talking about and was like, "Huh?"

Of course she was referring to my birthday on Wednesday. Noooooooooooooo...

It's not as if I'm aging in a vacuum, oh no. There are plenty of little signs that I'm getting old. I noticed a white hair on my right forearm as I was driving home the other day. I thought it might just be light blonde or a trick of the light, but OH NO. Also I figure that if you fail to realize it's your birthday, and it's less than a week away, that's a definite sign that the bloom is off the birthday rose.

Not to mention the freaky generation gap things I experience both with Angie's niece and some of the younger people at work. I'll be in conversation with someone of similar antiquity to myself, talking about something we remember from growing up, TV shows, stars, fashions, whatever. And some young whippersnapper will make a comment to show they have no idea what we're talking about, that immediately makes me feel old.

Did I mention I'm not ready to turn 30? OMG. 30. Just make it stop, someone? Please?

My birthday is Wednesday the 17th, and, just in case any of you love me or this site enough to celebrate my ancientness, and maybe want to ease my pain and suffering some, I have a virgin Amazon wishlist just waiting to be used. I'm honestly grateful for anything off the list and would be thrilled with anything, new or used. I have tons of things on it, ranging from a couple dollars to significantly expensive (hey, it is a wishlist, after all). I never expected anyone to actually use my wishlist, but you folks are my only hope. You see, with all the lesbian and BDSM books on there, it's not like I can send it to my mom. Haha.



Currently Playing...
Song: Liz Phair Love-Hate
Book: Ash Wednesday by Ethan Hawke and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Hurray for eBay


I checked my mailbox as I was leaving for work and was pleasantly surprised to find not one, but two goodies! Not only did I receive my new digital camera a mere two days after purchasing it, I also got my first Burn It CD. I realized then that I really need to get cracking -- I'm in two groups this time.

So I've been kind of playing around with my camera. I love how small it is, for not only can I comfortably bring it with me places, it has all sorts of features I haven't figured out yet. It came with TWO book-sized manuals. Plus it's stainless steel and really sleek. I'm slightly disappointed with the image quality, not that it's bad. In fact, it's probably better than my other camera. It's just that there's a certain type of really crisp image that I covet. Unfortunately, I think the type of camera that produces images I most admire is probably well out of my price range.

Anyhoo.. so I did some random picture taking tonight. I don't know if it's the flash, but I've never seen my eyes so freakin' green. Neat-o.

Other than that, I had a fairly decent night at work. My tables were mostly very nice and fun, and the tips were way better than they have been. I made the mistake of jinxing myself about halfway through the night when I thought, Wow, tonight is going really well. I wonder if it'll stay that way. Oh, evil, wicked mind..

Cue the pompous, condescending, rude couple. These people were living in a deluded fantasy world that they were somehow better than everyone else around them. I greeted them in a little bit of a rush, and tried to get their drink order in a timely fashion so I could get to my other tables, one of which sat down while I was attending to this couple. They held me captive at the table as they bantered about the drinks, whether they'd get wine, what wine they'd choose, what wine I would recommend with a certain dish, then ignoring my contribution completely, settling with two wines of their choice. Somewhere in there, they dropped in the conversation that they'd spent three years in Europe, a propos of nothing. I assume this was supposed to impress me, but I was irritated with their indecision and chose not to reply to the comment. I continued on without saying anything, and they told me they wanted the wine with their meal and ordered soft drinks in the interim.

Grateful to finally have their drink order, I hurried to get their other drinks and greet my new table. Everything was progressing fine as far as I knew, until their food came. I had food for two tables come up at the same time, so Marcus grabbed the couple's food and took it out, while I brought out the other table's. I was clearing off salad plates and things, and making sure everyone was set before I went back to get drink refills and such. Because Marcus had delivered their food, I stopped by the couple's table to check in with them, see if they needed anything, etc.

Immediately the lady lit into me, saying quite rudely, "Yeah, we ordered wine with our meals, and we don't have it?"

I was extremely taken aback by her patronizing, harsh tone. I can't do it justice here, as it was truly the entire package, but take my word for it when I say she talked to me like I was a piece of shit on the bottom of her shoe. I didn't know what to say, I mean, I hadn't even been the one to bring the food, how was I honestly supposed to have the wine instantaneously appear on the table? People kill me sometimes, with the surreal things they expect. Anyhow, all I managed to say was, "Marcus just set your food down.. I'll go get that for you right now."

In retrospect, I think it sounds worse than how I intended it. I mostly was surprised she was so upset, given the circumstances. Anyway, she replied, "WHAT did you just say??"

I repeated myself calmly, and she got even more worked up. She started talking with her hands, gesturing to the table devoid of wine, and stated something to the effect that they expected the wine to be delivered at the moment of their food. The attitude and demeanor of these two rendered me speechless. In truth, it's not so much that I was speechless, it's that I had to say, "Okay." and turn and walk away... because if I waited any longer, I'd have lit into her.

I went and talked to the manager and explained what happened as I poured their wine. I repeated the conversation and told him they were pissed at me, and I requested he take the glasses to them. As I was heading back toward the dining room, my roommate Erin passed me with a wide-eyed expression and said, "Oh my god. What is UP with those people at your table??"

I then remembered that Erin had been standing about two feet away from me at the time of the confrontation with my table and had likely overheard the entire thing. I asked her if she heard what they'd said, and she told me, "After you walked away, they pulled me into it and said, 'Did you hear what our server just said?!' I told them I didn't hear anything, and they went off on me about you. I heard what they said, but I didn't hear you say anything."

I replied, "I know! That's because I didn't say anything! Aaargh!!"

They ended up totally chewing out the manager and talking down to him as well. They apparently dropped the three years in Europe thing into the conversation again, and also claimed to know the general manager. The manager was trying to be helpful with them and even got them a box, but that did not stop their patronizing manner to everyone at the restaurant.

I refused to go back to the table, and begged Erin to help me finish out the table. I told her they probably wouldn't leave me anything, but if they did, she could have it for helping me. She delivered the check, which she said was ripped from her hand by the woman in the couple. Erin brought back money and the bill, which she handed over sort of apologetically, and I soon discovered why: the receipt had "[General Manager] -- Call me re: this meal. Stanley 295-whatever" written on it.

OMG. These people really were too much. So I made change and asked another server to deliver it for me. She came back with a surprised look on her face and asked what was up with the couple, telling me the lady had ripped the black book from her hand. What. Ever.

Once Erin took over for me, I completely ignored the table, not once looking in their direction. The rest of my tables were very nice, so I just busied myself with them and let Mr. and Mrs. Superiority Complex see the good service they missed out on. They sat there for a while, and a couple of times it looked like they were staring me down in an attempt to get my attention, but I had erased them and they didn't exist.

In the end, they left me $1. Why, I don't even know. I made Erin take it, both as a token of my deep and most sincere appreciation for stepping into the line of fire for me and because I honestly did not want their money. When I talked to the manager later, he said he believed I didn't do anything to justify how the people were acting, and because they were behaving that way with everyone, even those trying to help, he felt they were incredibly rude and superior-acting. I'm not in trouble, though the manager told me that next time I should just apologize and do whatever, without trying to explain. Probably true, but in situations where I'm put on the defensive, I find it very hard to apologize (especially when I'm not even wrong!). The man's note to the GM was left in the office with a note from the manager to see him first.



Currently Playing...
Song: Velvet Revolver - Slither
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Sorry Everybody


Some of you will remember my open letter to all non-Americans, which I posted back in September as an outlet for the shame and sorrow I feel for being a part of this country under Bush, and our the current policies. I know our friends abroad are not stupid and I also know that many of them recognize that we're not all dumbfucks (just 51% of us).

Apparently, I'm not the only one who feels the need to apologize. The site Sorry Everybody features photos from people around the country (and the world) telling non-Americans how sorry they are, in their own unique ways.

Since the election, I've found it really difficult to dive back into politics. This is because the election outcome really depressed me. I even had a moment where I cried out of frustration and disbelief, asking God how or why s/he could let this happen to us. Now that I'm calmer, I figure there must be a reason, but part of me still can't believe that God would let such an evil man and his administration have full run of the world for another four years.

So I've been mostly avoiding getting worked up over issues, trying to take a little mental and emotional break from things. I found the pictures at Sorry Everybody very clever and touching. I was looking through pages of them, but when I got to this picture, I found I couldn't go any further. I found myself nearly crying; the man's expression, his note, they caught me off guard and I suddenly had tears fill my eyes.





Currently Playing...
Song: Indigo Girls - Strange Fire
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Little Bit of Randomness


I've been cleaning up thousands of new MP3s, fixing tags, deleting duplicates and whatnot. Whether you know it or not, there are tons of 'easter eggs' around, just waiting to be found. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, 'easter eggs' are little, random, occasionally odd 'features', usually hidden in programs. Like if you press a certain key combination at a certain time, you might be rewarded by a scene of animated naked dancing bunnies. However, to me, an 'easter egg' is not merely that, but spans everything I consider to be hidden little gems, both in applications and on the internet. Especially if the gem is very random, cause those are the best!

Just now I came across this in the comments of one of my MP3s.


Portishead - Dummy - Wandering Star

For you, Sal.

I liked you from the very start, when first we met across the office printer.

I was then smitten on that sunny day in June by your playful eloquence when you spoke of cats, of sphinxes, and of pyramids.
You captured my heart and I have loved you ever since.

You tried to paint an image of perfection of yourself in my mind, but I've always preferred the real you.
That sparkle in your eyes, that coquettish smile formed by a pair of full lips, you in pyjamas and bunny slippers, unmade and unpretty is just heaven to me.

Your hair damp, fresh from the shower, and watching you dry it is better than any scene from a movie.
How you light up when you're happy, mope when you're disappointed, pick yourself up when you're sad, and with natural ease how cheekily you feign surprise.
You're headstrong and spirited.
And when you got angry at me, all I wanted to do was to seal your mouth with a kiss. I knew then I could have easily spent a lifetime with you.

Three years passes so fast.
We have our first quarrel, and you run a million miles from me, soon to change your name.
Now, there is a knot in my stomach, and an emptiness where my heart once was.

Not one day has passed, of the 1203, that I didn't think about you; of where you were, of what you were doing, and how you were feeling.

For the harsh words I spoke, and for the tender words that I didn't, I'm sorry.
For the attention that I should have paid you, oh how very much I wanted to, but didn't, I'm sorry. If I've hurt you, it was unintentional, and I beg you to forgive me.

This is a message in a bottle hoping to find its way to you.

Please grace my life with your presence again, and lift this dark cloud from my soul.

I love you.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Woo, Writing


Well, my first 'chapter' is finished. I say 'chapter' like that, because the size of the chapters is going to be entirely proportionate to my attention span. So-called chapters for a So-called Novel. Click here for Chapter 1. Feedback appreciated (just be nice, I have a fragile ego, thx).

I remember why I stopped writing fiction now. It's that I find myself fairly inept at writing the quality level I'd like.. I find it very difficult to express exactly what's in my head. Like if I have a scene in my head, I may have detail down to what the room smells like, but be completely unable to express it fluidly. It's frustrating. I may not have this thing wrapped up by the end of the month. Heh.

Aside from that, I just wanted to share a little of the randomness inside my head. As part of my personality, maybe it's the scientist in me, I find myself either gifted or cursed with the ability to see almost everything in a whole slew of various paradigms. Some of these paradigms are fairly normal, things that you might consider as putting on someone else's shoes, or being able to see different points of view.

Other paradigms are more random and odd. You see, I was an only child growing up and I learned very early on to amuse myself. Like everything else I do to excess, I learned to amuse myself at pretty much all times, which means playing weird games in my head, or fantasizing about stuff, or just thinking really random shit. I sometimes amuse myself by playing around with different viewpoints and creating little fantasy 'what if' situations.

I started to type out some examples, but you know, it just makes me sound way crazier than I already do. So anyway, tonight, I lost a pack of cigarettes, and when I realized I lost it, I immediately felt like I'd drawn a bad luck card in a game: "Lose pack of cigarettes! Oooh... lose 40 points!" Maybe I've been playing too much Sims 2, maybe I'm just weird.



Currently Playing...
Song: Ratatat - Seventeen Years
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Quickies


I'm feeling a bit loquacious this evening, so please bear with me. First I wanted to bring to your attention something I find incredibly interesting: Correlation between IQ and politics. The author mentioned that the site might be coming down soon due to bandwidth restrictions, so if you're interested, click now, add to the bandwidth, and see it before it's gone.

Secondly, I would like to report a small success on my part. I watched the movie Super Size Me, which I highly recommend to everyone. It really puts the whole health issue in a different light and you might very well be cursing my name when the movie turn you off fast food and soda. Watching the movie helped me change my lifestyle a little for the better. The film makes me want to eat fast food as little as possible, which is a good thing. Plus, I was pretty much done with soda after seeing all the sugar in big jugs, and since then I have drastically reduced my sugary drink intake.

Speaking of sugar, did you know that only SEVEN items on McDonald's menu don't include sugar? Think for a moment and try to guess which ones. Not so surprising in and of themselves: coffee, iced tea, Diet Coke, fries, hash browns, sausage, and chicken nuggets. It's more surprising that other items you might think of first, such as salads and meats, aren't on that list.

I've found a system for being satisfied with drinking water, which is that I keep three 20 oz. plastic bottles in the freezer, half full of water/ice. My fridge is ancient and slow to freeze, which is why I need three bottles, but I figure with a better freezer, you probably could just use two. But what I do is rotate the bottles depending on which is the most frozen, fill it the rest of the way with cold Brita water, and have ice water for a good couple of hours. I probably drink less water than I did sugary drinks, but I am hydrating instead of the opposite. Also I figured that I was drinking at least five hundred calories a day before.

So for the past three weeks, I've had about one full sugary drink a day, drinking water the rest of the time. A couple of days, I had no soda at all, and in fact, I haven't had any soda in my house in about a week. I felt like I'd lost a little weight, but it was subtle and I thought maybe I was imagining it. I hadn't been doing any extra exercise or major diet changes (I am trying to eat better and vastly cut down the fast food, even before SSM), but I was curious so I stopped by the Student Health office last Monday. I got on the scale with trepidation, expecting to have gained, and what I discovered overjoyed me. I lost five and a half pounds!

So there you go. My anti-soda testimonial. It will be interesting to see if there are more results to be had...

Thirdly, Angie dragged me out to the movies on a 'date'. After I posted about feeling like we were back to just-friends mode, things started to warm back up. I think the main catalyst was my haircut, which I finally am able to admit is really frippin' cute. Originally it was so different that it's taken a while to feel like I really own the hairstyle. When it first got done, it felt sort of like wearing a wig I couldn't take off; like it wasn't my own hair or something. The style in the pic I posted was pretty subdued, but it's sort of evolved into its own hairstyle and I really dig it. My hair has really shown some great personality with this style -- for the first time ever, I have a haircut that works with Medusa-head -- and it gets all flippy and shaggy and cool-messy. Whenever I get a camera, I'll post pics.

Anyway, Angie was given movie and concession stand passes as a birthday gift, so she asked me to go see The Incredibles. First of all, I am a huuuuuuge Pixar fan. I can't think of anything they've done that I didn't think was awesome. The animation and cinematography alone are breathtaking, but what stands out most to me is the brilliant humor that pervades Pixar's films. Maybe it's that there's so much of it and it's thrown at you quick and fast and that appeals to my random sense of humor.. all I know is I can't get enough.

The Incredibles was no exception. The film was incredibly (ha ha) done, and had me totally cracking up throughout. The character Edna killed me, she sort of reminded me of a mixture of gay boys and something else I can't put my finger on. In any case, I found myself unable to stop laughing. So go see it, it's super (ha ha) good.

Lastly, I think I've decided which digital camera I'm going to get. I've been browsing cameras on eBay, and was having a hard time deciding. Plus I admit I've never shopped for a camera before (I've only had them given to me), so I decided to ask the photographer for help. Angie looked some over for me and finally recommended the Canon SD100 PowerShot 3.2MP Digital Elph. Angie's had plenty of occasion to test drive one, as her step-mom frquently loans hers, and it is indeed a nice camera. It's pretty compact and lightweight, with a lot of features (Angie said close to that of a professional camera), and it takes crisp, clear pictures. On top of it, it's within my price range, so yay.

Can't wait to have a camera again!



Currently Playing...
Song: C+C Music Factory - Pride (A Deeper Love)
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Electoral College System Can Bite Me


Right on the ass, even.

The election outcome has brought out the crazy, evil, activist bitch within. After the 2000 election, it occurred to me and many others that our present system of vote attribution is not only outdated, but actually spits in the face of true democracy.

What is the point of voting, what is the point of the popular vote, if this country doesn't count each vote as equal? I mean, isn't that the supposed beauty of this country and its government, that all citizens have equal say? That no one's vote is worth more than another's? Is it true democracy if the candidate who won the country's popular vote can still lose the race? Honestly, I do not believe so. In my personal view, a system that permits a candidate to obtain the presidency even though the minority of citizens voted for him is greatly flawed.

I encourage you all to do a bit of reading on the history of the electoral college system. Google it, you should turn up a decent number of results. Back when it was created, it made enough sense, and was intended to work with the rest of the country's systems of checks and balances. Our Founding Fathers obviously could not have seen this far into the future, nor I'm sure, did they envision the sort of voter suppression, corruption, and election stealing we presently live with.

For one, the electoral college system causes disproportionate campaigning in higher-vote states, leaving the smaller-point states out on the fringes with much less attention. To me this is sort of silly and again, leaves me with the feeling that even presidential candidates recognize that not all votes are equal. You campaign harder in Ohio because the state is worth 20 votes, but hardly bother with its next-door-neighbor West Virginia because it's worth a mere quarter of Ohio. This places undue and unfair emphasis on certain states while rather negating other, less critical ones.

I'm not a quick-tempered person and while I might get strongly irritated about things, I am seldom truly angry. I will take a hell of a lot of shit from people before I hit my cut-off point, but once I've had enough, look out. Most people have never seen me ragingly pissed off, which, I can assure you, is a most fortunate thing for them. You see, when I get reeeeeeally pissed off, I get a little crazy. I might remind you that I am a Scorpio, so my fashion of dealing with it is usually some subversive form of revenge. It's not pretty, and wise people immediately recognize the best course is to scatter and hide.

So yeah, I'm pissed. I mean, really fired-up, crazy pissed, and since my target is rather intangible, I'm all raring for action. I plan on doing something about the electoral college system. If I have to send an email to every Democrat in office, I will. If I have to write letters and petition and pester the crap out of them, I will. Because it is more than plain to me that the current system is totally out of touch with life nearly 230 years after it was conceived. Something needs to be done about it.

I'm doing research now on the possibilities. My first step is trying to find a petition or petitions that I can sign. As I discover them, I will post them here. I likely will simply update this post, to keep the information in one place, so if you are interested in working to change the electoral college system, all you need to do is click the [+] thinger and bookmark it. Or just Google search for online petitions and do a search.

Here's some stuff to start:

The Electoral College - Concerns

Petitions
- My Petition to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee: Call to Abolish Electoral College System

- To Congress: Abolish the Electoral College

- To Congress: Abolish the Electoral College

- To U.S. Citizens: Electoral College Removal

- More petitions: Search list for 'electoral college' on PetitionOnline.com

- To Congress: Create Electoral Equality: Pass the Right to Vote Amendment

- To Congress and Senate: Democracy for the USA



Currently Playing...
Song: Paul van Dyke vs. BT - Flaming June
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election


It's not any surprise that the election is so close. I think everyone knew it would be. However, I really am on edge about the outcome. Thankfully the gap has narrowed in Ohio, plus the absentee ballots won't be counted for days.

The biggest shocker of the night for me was that Bush is the projected winner in West Virginia. This state is historically a Democrat state, and what blows my mind even more is that the people elected a Democrat governor by a decent margin. WTF?? First of all, I just don't understand why anyone who isn't rich would support Bush after he's lied and manipulated the country, trashed our international reputation, stolen our liberties, and gone to war on false pretenses. This area seems to have a large number of military persons, so it rather amazes me that at this point they wouldn't see exactly what's going on.

They have loved ones in Iraq, soldiers having tours of duty extended, some being sent back to do a second tour. The death toll is rising. Yet they vote for Bush? I honestly don't get it.

Angie and I played Scrabble while we watched the election coverage. She made chocolate chip cookies (from scratch, even!), and we sat and agonized over the coverage in between bouts of arguing over words. I got my best-ever Scrabble score, 319. I think I'm improving at the game, and I most definitely am the Scrabble champion at that house.

We're thinking of playing some theme games, like one with all slang words or words all spelled phonetically.



Currently Playing...
Song: Clannad - Herne
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

9-11 Panelist Says U.S. Knows Where bin Laden is Located


By Jim Mohr
Staff Writer (DailyBulletin.com)

CLAREMONT - The Pentagon knows exactly where Osama bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan, it just can't get to him, a member of the 9-11 Commission said Thursday.
...
In the exclusive interview, Lehman said, "There is an American presence in the area, but we can't just send in troops. If we did, we could have another Vietnam, and the United States cannot afford that right now."

[Read More...]

Newsettes



Well, I voted. Now to sit back and watch the fracas unfold.

I can't express how scared I am about the outcome of this election. The wrong choice will surely lead to some tremendous negative circumstance. And no matter who wins there won't be much relief, as they'll likely be fighting over it for a while yet.

I voted for John Kerry because I don't think America can withstand another four years of this neo-con regime. It's even scarier when you think that Bush and Cheney, if reelected, will have very little to lose once in office. No chance at another term for Bush, and Cheney has said that he's not going to run for president. Given their track record, less accountability is not a good thing.

I ended up voting a straight party ticket because the Republican candidates this year are really scary. A couple of them made ignorant, homophobic spew part of their campaign platforms, with which they polluted the media here. Anyway, because of all the sketchy voting things going on, I made a point to vote for Kerry in addition to my straight party vote. I just had a weird feeling about only filling in the straight party box on the ballot and with all the election hankypank going on, I didn't want there to be any question.

If you're worried like I am, just take a moment to close your eyes and envision President Kerry. I'm serious.. visualization is powerful and is an integral part of magick, especially when you want to fulfill desires. So close your eyes and envision something like President Kerry on TV, a news story, a speech, or whatever. Say "President Kerry" to yourself a few times. Project your desire for him to be President. It can be something that simple, and I find it rather calming. Maybe it's too weird for you, but humor me: I believe it will help.




I just signed up for BlogExplosion yesterday and already my hits have doubled. It's a nifty little service, particularly if you have a small-ish blog and wish to expand your reader base. As well as being quite well-crafted overall, it's totally free.

Now, there's no promising any of these readers will actually stick around. Most of my traffic has been only on the pass-through, maybe they read a little during the 30 seconds, maybe they just waited impatiently to click. Who knows?

I guess I don't really mind this so much, as I do appear to have some repeat readers and I find myself presently contented with my blog being read at all (outside of my loyal few, i <3 u). I read in someone's blog that they've won up to 25 mystery credits in one day, but so far my daily best is a mere one time, for 3 points. It's somewhat addicting and I find myself not being able to stop clicking forward. I can only wonder if the next one will be my mystery point jackpot. Oh please, let it be.

As for the sites in the ring, they're pretty varied, although I have personally come across too many right-wing, exceedingly Christian blogs. There are some brilliant, well-written blogs there, some of which I bookmarked for later perusal. However, I have been sucked into numerous ridiculous neo-con posts and comments in the past two days. I know my regular readers would have a field day with some of them, and indeed, I couldn't resist a few comments here and there. Do they even have any idea how ignorant and misinformed they sound?

After much debating, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I've lately felt very busy and who knows if I will even be able to put much work into it. However, I do have a story in my head, one that has been entertaining me for a couple of weeks. I don't write fiction much these days and was alternately shelving and playing with this current story, when NaNoWriMo came to my attention. It seemed good timing, and I thought what the hell, maybe blogging it would make it easier on me.

I won't post the storyline here because I'm always embarrassed to discuss my work ideas before they begin to get flushed out in my writing. But I will be creating a novella blog shortly, and will post here if I ever finish a chapter. Have I mentioned I don't often actually finish my stories? I'm going to try anyway.



Currently Playing...
Song: Winter's Song - Cowboy Junkies
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen and Stupid White Men by Michael Moore
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sim Bush & Sim Kerry


Geeky funniness.

Random Stuff with Tangent as Added Bonus


I am a big fan of music swapping. I enjoy getting recommendations from people with similar music tastes, also those unsimilar simply for getting to try different music. Music swapping allows me both to share some great unknowns as well as be introduced to them. So it's no surprise that I enjoy Burn It and heartily recommend it to others. Even though one or two people in my group didn't send CDs, I did end up with an awesome CD that is still on heavy rotation. Totally worth my time.

I participated in the last Winter edition, missed the Spring though I really liked the theme, skipped the Summer edition because I was uninspired, but the Fall one... I'm ready to get back in. The Fall theme is "Back to School" for obvious reasons, comprising of songs that came out while you were in school, songs that make you think of school (whether it was out at that time or not), or songs that make you feel like you're back in school.

I'm going for songs that remind me of high school; the rough draft:

The Nails - 88 Lines About 44 Women
Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance
King Missile - Detachable Penis
The Bangles
The Go-Go's
Nirvana
Metallica
Old 10,000 Maniacs
The Cure
Depeche Mode
NIN
Paula Abdul
They Might Be Giants
Counting Crows (August and Everything After)
Milli Vanilli

Just typing the list out and looking over what I have, I'm hoping this mix isn't overly annoying to other people. Hee.

Earlier I remembered something kind of randomly; I recently downloaded a bunch of The Cure in anticipation of this mix. The song "Boys Don't Cry" came on, and I suddenly remembered back when I first heard the album and it sort of amused me. You see, I was a pirate even back then; I had bought the tape or CD, recorded it to a blank tape, and then returned it. The Wherehouse had a policy then that you could buy any music and return it if you didn't like it. Obviously it was abused by people like me, who quickly learned I could get whole albums for free as long as I returned the original within a week. I don't think I did this a lot, but I did do it more than once.



Currently Playing...
Song: Paul Oakenfold - Trance Energy
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Politico


I am trying to catch up on all my daily blog reads, and in doing so, I've come across some interesting stuff that I want to post.

I've been lately really enjoying JuliusBlog, and today found this an interesting read. 10.26.2004: Readers may be interested to learn that the "caging" e-mails below (one and two) are indeed the same documents referenced in Greg Palast's latest BBC Newsnight investigation. -- DEAD LETTER OFFICE: GeorgeWBush.org: Bush/Cheney in 2004! (parody site)

Is there a "We Have The Biggest Balls Award"? Because the Bushies seem to be hell-bent on winning it. The Republicans admit they are planning to intimidate black voters at the polls in Florida.


In other news, Austria scraps Arnie statue:

Plans to build an 80ft statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character in his Austrian home town have been scrapped because he's backing President Bush.


Also trouble on the homefront: Sex Ban For Arnie


Lastly, this just makes Wiccans look like overly-sensitive whiners. I would think most of us don't really care, this Halloween image of a witch is not a new one. Secondly, why ruin a fun little holiday for everyone, instead of simply not posting any witch pictures, asking kids and parents to not use those costumes as they're so very offensive, and maybe educating kids a little bit about why?



Currently Playing...
Song: Portishead - Waiting for the Night(Depeche Mode Cover)
Book: Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

The Future in One Week


I received this email today, which was written by a friend's brother. I thought it was well-written and well-timed, so I wanted to share.



Hello Everyone,

With one week to go I'd like to make one last effort to convince everyone to vote on Nov. 2nd. Most of you already are going to vote and some of you already have. Still, humor me.

This election is going to be very close and extremely important for all of us. At stake are our national security, economy (both current and future), the education of our children, and the health and welfare of our older relatives and someday us. Add to the mix the new supreme court appointees that are likely over the next four years and you can feel the weight of this election.

You all know the situation we are in now and what has and has not happened over the last 4 years. With that in mind, I have attached a summary of the current administration's accomplishments during those four years. If you don't have time to read this short document, 'vote smart', then at least consider the following questions.

- How many of us have never made mistakes? Do you really trust someone who never admits to making mistakes?

- Are you better off now than four years ago?

- As the war in Iraq drags on and terrorists attack with more frequency around the world than ever before, are you safer now than before? (Really think about this one)

- With 90% of our military engaged with the Iraqi war, who would protect us if nuclear weapons from North Korea or Russia made it into terrorists' hands?

- Is it safer to be Strong and Wrong and on your own or Thoughtful and leader of a real coalition of strong friends? (Is providing 90% of the troups and money for the current coalition, really a coalition?)

From these questions, I guess you can figure who I'm voting for. Here's a hint, the same candidate that Bush's hometown paper in Crawford, Texas supports. If you're not sure or want more facts you can always check PBS, FactCheck.org, The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, or other nonpartisan organizations.

Take care and vote,
Bill


Hello All,

Well, here we are a little over a week from the most important election of our lifetime and I'm back to remind you all how important it is that everyone not only vote, but also cast an informed vote.

Unfortunately, the campaigns and the networks haven't really been doing a great job at helping us out. For example, 'The Swiftboaters' claims received lots of press, even though they have all been refuted by fact and government records. All, that is, but Kerry's claim to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve. Like Bush's missing National Guard dental records, there is no evidence to support his claim. Fahrenheit 911's overly enthusiastic presentation of information leading up to the Iraq War (though none of it refuted by the Bush Administration) has also turned off voters.

Where this leaves us is to find the facts out for ourselves. To this end, I have included the following web pages: www.factcheck.org, a site that is sponsored by the respected Annenberg Foundation, and www.people-press.org, sponsored by the equally well-respected Pew Charitable Trust. Checking these sites is a beginning, as other unbiased, non-partisan sites are available to help in making an informed decision November 2nd. Even if you are pretty sure who you're going to vote for, still have a look.

Now, if you'll indulge me a bit longer, I'd like to present you with some concerns that are at the crux of this election; the questions: "Are we better off now than 4 years ago?" and "Are we headed in the right direction?"

Let's start at home

Have the Bush Administration's policies strengthened the country?

A) Bush's economic policies (including his tax cuts that are disproportionately beneficial to the richest Americans), not the Iraq War or the War on Terror (they ARE two different wars), have wiped out the huge surplus he inherited coming into office. The country is now more in debt than ever before. Bush proposes to make these tax cuts permanent. This week he signed a $130+ billion tax cut for big business.

B) The country has lost more jobs than ever before and Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover (we all read about Hoovervilles in the Grapes of Wrath) to have a net job loss after 4 years in office. All other war time presidents added jobs.

C) The number of Americans under the poverty line has increased under Bush, more than any president since... you guessed it.

D) Bush's energy plans promote a continued and guaranteed dependence on foreign oil. (Was that why we invaded Iraq?) All the possible oil in Alaska's wildlife areas Bush wants to drill wouldn't satisfy the country's needs for more than 6 months.

E) Social Security now issues disclaimers on its statements that your benefits (the ones you paid for) may not be there when you retire and Bush has publicly spoken of privatizing Social Security. Individual retirement accounts are interesting, but how many of us made money on our investments in 2000 and 2001. Also, they will cost 1 trillion dollars just to be set up.

F) Health costs have risen and more Americans are now without insurance than ever before. Medicare payments have gone up (17% this year) in direct response to Bush's health care plan. Medicare is in serious trouble.

G) Assault Weapons. Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton supported a ban on Assault Weapons (Uzis and AK-47s, the weapon of choice for terrorists). This ban expired on September 13 and Bush, though he said he supported it, did nothing to extend it.

H) Children and the nation's education system ARE being left behind. The President may have had an idea, but he didn't fund it.

I) President Bush campaigned as a 'Uniter' not a 'Divider', yet we are more clearly divided as a country than at any point in recent history.

Poor policies and poor leadership lead to these domestic problems. Still, the nearly $150 billion extra dollars spent on Bush's Iraq War (see next section) might have helped fix a few things.

Now, on the International Front

Was the Iraq War, as Bush continues to state, necessary to protect America from terrorism? Not really. The 911 commission (which Bush opposed) reported the following major findings:
NO Weapons of Mass Destruction.
NO Iraqi Links to Al Qaeda or the September 11 attack. (Saddam did support suicide bombers in Gaza, but they were also financed by groups in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. While threatening to Israel and the Middle East Peace process, these suicide bombers posed no threat to the US.)

In fact, Bush's Iraq War has been a huge and unnecessary failure.

A) Bush's Iraq War drained needed resources (money, troops and specialists) away from the real struggle against terrorists in Afghanistan and south Asia. US troops remain in Afghanistan, but the lack of these resources funneled to Iraq has allowed Al Qaeda to regroup and the Taliban to reemerge with bombings to continue in major Afghani cities.

B) Even by the Administration's estimates, the number of terrorists in Iraq now has increased multi-fold since the invasion of Iraq.

C) Leaders in Israel and Pakistan (Pres. Musharaf), two US allies, have recently stated that the Iraq War has increased terror, NOT decreased it.

D) Kofi Annan of the UN echoes those statements and says the world is not safer.

E) Documented prison abuses in Abu Ghraib (and more cases to come) have severely damaged US credibility inside Iraq and the rest of the Middle East Region. So far, Bush has failed to hold anyone accountable.

F) Are we safer now? Bush's Iraq War has been a great recruiting tool for terrorists world-wide. Further, the State Department has reported more terrorist attacks after the Iraq Invasion than the years preceding. Are we safer?

G) Flouting the UN and our traditional allies by pushing forward with war has cost the US greatly in International prestige. After a highpoint immediately following Sept. 11, the Bush War squandered this good will to where the US now is at its lowest point in the eyes of the world in decades.

H) Bush's Iraq War may sometime in the future be described as a humanitarian success. Yet, there are other 'better targets'. As many people in the Sudan and North Korea are dying and suffering AND there are actually Al Qaeda cells in Sudan, and North Korea does have WMDs and has threatened to sell them to terrorists.

I) The Democracy that Bush's Iraq War will presumably create is good, but will not innoculate Iraq, the Middle East, nor the US from terrorists as Bush insists. The Philippines, Indonesia, Chechnya and Russia are all democracies and have all suffered greatly from terrorists. (Chechnya held presidential elections just one week prior to the horrible terrorist attack on school children in Russia)

J) Democracy Part II - Current polling in Iraq suggest that the people hold the US and Foreign Insurgents equally responsible (>30% each) for their current disastrous situation. Only 8% blame Saddam Hussein. Moreover, if the elections were held now, the Bush-installed leader, Allawi, would lose to a religious party supported by Iran.

K) The Cost. Over 1,100 US troops fatalities, 7,000+ casualties and 150 Billion dollars..all and counting. Then, of course, there are the costs to the Iraqis, the people we were supposed to help.

Is Kerry Suited to be the next president?

Unlike Bush's known record as president, we will have to predict Kerry's suitability from his past and from his proposals. This will need to be found out again from some research and not just from the campaign ads run by either candidate. As can be seen by checking Factcheck.org, both Bush and Cheney tend to 'exaggerate' their claims against Kerry.

Bush reminds us that Kerry voted against increased funding for the war in Iraq, leaving soldiers without needed body armor, etc. Kerry points out he voted against the management of the war and questions the President's decision to send the soldiers into battle without body armor in the first place.

Cheney (and the rabid Zell Miller) chide Kerry for voting to cut intelligence spending. The record they cite was decades old and was supported at the time both by Miller and then Sec. of Defense Cheney. Little is also made of the fact that President Bush's current appointee to run the CIA, Congressman Goss, voted for even more intelligence cutbacks during his tenure in the House.

I understand that Kerry is a politician just like the rest of them. He will make some promises to get votes and will be unable to fulfill others because of unexpected circumstances. I do believe, however, the country is headed dangerously in the wrong direction, both domestically and internationally, and there needs to be a change in leadership.

You know who I'm voting for and I hope all of you take the time to study the issues and make an informed choice. After you have made your choice, be sure to vote. Whoever wins needs to know that Americans care enough about problems to vote and that they need to respect that vote. Remember, at the ballot box, your vote counts just as much as the corporate lobbyists.

Best wishes from me, Julie and Liam to all of you and your families. This really is my final political missive for 2004. That is, unless anyone wants to talk politics...

Take care and vote smart,
Bill