Monday, March 31, 2008


Some of you might recall that last year we had a sweet little wild yard duck who met with an untimely end on the highway in front of our house. We were very sad at the time, having become quite attached to Duck while she lived with us, and we promised ourselves that in the Spring, when ducks happen, we'd replace her.

Last weekend we went to the duck store to buy a couple of ducklings, but we were too late! All the ducklings had, apparently, ended up in Easter baskets that weren't already filled to the brim with beer and chocolate. Sigh.

I tried looking in a few of the lesser-known duck emporiums ... Rural King ... Tractor Supply ... but alas, no ducklings to be found.

So last night we decided to take the duck by the bill and order some online. Since they come by US Mail you have to order the minimum number that assures they'll stay warm enough in the box ... which is 10. What the heck ... two or three ducks is almost the same as ten, right? So, being pro-active and assuming that in any random box of ducklings there might be some loss, we ordered an even dozen.
We're partial to the Rouens. They look like Mallards, but they're pretty much flightless, not prolific egg-layers (which is good, because we don't need hundreds of duck eggs), very friendly and get along with cats and dogs ... once you convince the cats and dogs).

Carrie likes the Cayuga's with their irridescent green plumage and pretty eggs. They're a quieter duck than average, which will be nice when they all start quacking (!!), and they have a calm and docile personality.

So we ordered six of each.

The babies will arrive the week of April 7th! So much to do to get ready! We're turning the landlord's abandoned shed into a duck house, complete with heat lamp, feeders, waterers, a little ramp for the ducks to ingress and egress the shed, and a fenced enclosure in the yard attached to the shed for when they're old enough to get out but still too young to peck the crap out of Mrs. Underfoot if she tries to go duck hunting.

Before they can move to the shed they're going to need a brooder. Since April weather here can be iffy, and there's usually at least one last snowfall about that time, we're thinking they should probably spend their first couple of weeks in the extra bedroom. So I'm looking around at the various ways people have brooded ducklings indoors. Right now the plastic wading pool arrangement is looking pretty good.

This will bring us to a grand total of eight cats, two dogs and twelve ducks here at the Family Compound! We're all excited about the babies, and Katie's already claimed the right to name one of them after herself. The rest will have to reveal their Indian names to us over time.

Stay tuned!


Friday, March 28, 2008

You Asked For It...

We got this comment yesterday from Pat:

Kwach,Thanks for working so hard to comprehend who the candidates are. Because of you, I have decided to vote Obama. I hate politics because I seldom know what is really going on. I respect your opinions. BTW, I read your blog every day and just wish that you and Ev would write EVERY day, (heh). Pat

First of all, thanks. Second of all, I sometimes wonder what I would blog about if I blogged every day, which is weird since I find something to talk about every day in my real life, and it's not that difficult.

But in lieu of flirting with you all , which makes an excellent substitute for conversation when you don't actually want to talk (it looks like interacting, but really it's just performance art), I occasionally run out of things to say. But today I spent this morning in my jammies hanging out with my daughters and talking and laughing about how we're all alike.

We're bossy. really bossy. But we mostly feel justified because we've already spent a week or more fretting and stewing about whatever the problem is. Long before our partners even knew it was time to feel anxiety, we were already busy laying awake and self-flagellating over it. In my mind, that makes us more qualified to make decisions about it, whatever it is. When you've put in 80 hours of stewing, you can usually come up with a plan. It's like training for the Olympics...If I spend 40 hours a week training and lifting weights and running every day, I sure will resent some interloper coming along with a Twinkie in one hand and a beer in the other and eclipsing my efforts.

So this morning we put our heads together and tried to come up for a more diplomatic way for Carrie to discuss her relationship needs with her Man Friend than, "Because I said so." But the idea that the three of us would actually come up with a diplomatic way to say anything was so laughable that we gave up and moved on.

We also decided that anyone who can love one of us over the long haul has to be very determined and have a pretty sturdy ego. Or deaf.

That's pretty much it for today though. No brilliant political discourse, no dwarfs, no eBay...just me and my girls and the always-pleasant surprise of how satisfying it is to have a family you love to spend time with.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I don't pretend to be a political wonk. I can't pull specifics about when senate bills were enacted, or which senators introduced them, out of my ass at a moment's notice. I can't tell you what, exactly, Herbert Hoover did, or didn't do, that makes his name synonymous with "lousy president," although I do know that comparing a politician to Hoover is not a compliment. But I am opinionated and I can write a fairly cohesive blog post ... soooooo ... since politics is taking up a lot of my time and attention these days (and, what the hell, everyone else is blogging about it whether they're qualified or not) ...

I read yet another comment on yet another political blog today that said:

Obama still gets a pass no matter what he has hidden in his past, nor what he says and does today. The hatchet men are out in full force against Sen. Clinton. I am becoming firmly convinced that all these so-called Liberals, are neocons in disguise. They are rooting for Obama, because they know in the upcoming debates, even McCain will make mince meat out of him. Good bye my once wonderful country.

A pass??

What other candidate has had such a thorough geneology vetting, or had every DNA strand dissected under the media microscope? When did you last read a news article speculating about why Hillary Clinton's elderly and infirm relatives aren't stumping for her or whether she has distant relatives in other countries? Has anyone questioned the legitimacy of McCain's parents' marriage or interviewed the girl he dated in high school (assuming she's still alive and coherent)?

Hell's bells, I know more about Barack Obama's family tree than I do my own. I know how his grandparents on both sides felt about the inter-racial marriage of their children. I know who his second or third cousin once or twiced removed is, and what his politics are from halfway around the globe. I know every school he ever attended, who his high school friends were, what freakin' brand of cigarettes he used to smoke and what flavor ice cream he bought Michelle on their first date. The man barely knew his father, but I know all the sordid details even he didn't know about Barack Sr.'s drinking problem and domestic abuse issues. I don't know that shit about Clinton or McCain, nor do I want or need to. If it has any relevance at all, it's that it took a lot of self-discipline for him not to end up just one more fucked up victim of his childhood, boozing away his identity crisis and taking out his abandonment and anger management issues on his wife and kids. He ought to win the presidency by virtue of his ability to rise above his circumstances if nothing else.

And, by the way, when did Hawaii's legitimacy as a state of this union become questionable?

Numerous actions and admissions by the U.S. government since 1893 indicate that Hawaii is not a lawful territory or state of the U.S. and that Hawaii is actually a foreign country under hostile occupation by the U.S. Therefore, the claim that Hawaii is a state of the U.S. is fraudulent.
I'm beginning to think that before they can vote (or leave their homes unattended) natural-born citizens ought to have to take the same basic civics test naturalized citizens take. Here's another specious explanation of Obama's non-citizenship, culled from that soiree of sophistry we call, ironically, the Women Who Enjoy Thinking forum on AOL. The circuitous reasoning here is really pretty heady stuff. All buckled in? Okay, here goes:

Sen. Obama's biological father, Barack Hussein Obama Sr., was a native of Kenya and returned to his own country (via Harvard) after Barack Jr. was born in Hawaii. Barack Hussein Obama Sr., a Muslim and member of the Luo tribe with political aspirations in Kenya, was not a citizen of the United States and was not a descendant of American slaves, as some people seem to believe. So one can't say that Barack Hussein Obama Sr. was an African-American or even a Kenyan-American. He was 100% Kenyan, plain and simple, and abandoned his half-American son when he went home to the wife and family he already had in Kenya.

Sen. Obama's biological mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, was the descendant of an old American family. She was the only child of Stanley and Madelyn (Payne) Dunham. I read somewhere that Madelyn Dunham, Barack's white grandmother whom he dissed in his speech, was vice president of a bank and financed his education. Apparently, Barack Obama Jr. had no white siblings. His half-siblings are Kenyan and Indonesian, born to Muslim fathers.

It's not clear whether Barack's biological father and mother were ever actually married and then divorced, even though some articles refer to them that way. Two genealogists who did Obama family trees gave no date or reference to marriage / divorce records, which professional genealogists would normally do; and I saw Barack himself quoted as saying something to the effect that he was reluctant to look into it too carefully because of what he might find.

Barack's mother thereafter married a Muslim man from Indonesia, Lolo Soetoro, and moved there with him, where she had a baby, Barack's younger half-white sister. Barack attended Muslim school in Indonesia as "Barry" Soetoro, but it's not clear whether his mother's husband adopted him. At any rate, she sent him back to Hawaii to be raised by his grandparents, and I read that he took the name Barack Hussein Obama Jr. sometime after returning to Hawaii.

Barack Hussein Obama Jr. claims U.S. citizenship by virtue of being born in Hawaii (although there are those who dispute that claim). I read that he also has Kenyan
citizenship under a Constitution adopted in 1963 and that he has never renounced
his Kenyan citizenship.

So Barack Hussein Obama Jr. is half American and half Kenyan by birth and also by citizenship.

Well, as a matter of fact, Obama does have dual-citizenship. Many people do, including Hizzoner the Governator. However, natural-born US citizenship trumps foreign citizenship if you live in the US and have US citizenship by birthright. Here's a refresher course for anyone who's forgotten their junior high civics class. I realize it's not as interesting as the rant above, but here's what the 14th amendment to the US Constitution says about the citizenship of children:

Birthright citizenship in the United States of America follows from the rule of jus soli whereby any person born within the United States and subject to its jurisdiction is automatically granted US citizenship. This status is unaffected by the legal status or the citizenship of that individuals mother or father. Children born to foreign diplomats or to hostile enemy forces or born on U.S. territory while it is under the control of a foreign power are not considered subject to U.S. jurisdiction and therefore are not citizens at birth.

Birthright citizenship of individuals born outside of the United States is passed from mother to child following from the rule of jus sanguinis (right of blood). Jus sanguinis is not conveyed to individuals born out side the US where only the father is a US citizen.

In addition, birthright citizenship is conveyed to children adopted from foreign countries and brought to the United States by US citizens, and to children of "unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States."

Following are the requirements for the office of US President:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Since there's not enough time to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (or for Hawaii to secede from the Union) before November, I think we can safely assume that Barack Obama's "claim" to citizenship is going to hold up. His birth certificate proves he's over the age of thirty-five. He's been spotted on various occasions over the past fourteen years hanging around voting and drafting legislation in the Illinois and US Senate, engaging in suspicious home-buying schemes with Tony Rezko and getting his weekly dose of anti-American indoctrination by Rev. Jeremiah Wright on Sunday's. Eligibility case closed ... find another loophole, assholes.

Speaking of Rev. Wright, Obama certainly hasn't been given a pass on his religious affiliations, unlike McCain and Clinton. One of the inalienable rights holding up the foundation of this country is Freedom of Religion, and yet everyone from major news affiliates to the outer fringes of the blogosphere have weighed in on Senator Obama's choice of church and pastor.

Up there in the requirements for the office of President you can clearly see that those
dunder-headed framers of the Constitution completely forgot to include a requirement for (or against) any religious affiliation. They treated the office of President as if it were a secular office! You think they intended for the President to fairly govern the entire population, whether that President is Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Unitarian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Quaker, Hindu, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Church of Satan, Wiccan, snake-handlin' Church of God with Signs Following or atheist. Well, okay ... Obama is fully prepared to do that. If you listen to the keynote address he gave before the Sojourner's group in Washington, DC, he clearly states that one's personal religious practice and beliefs have no place in forming public policy. He is perfectly capable of separating the way he chooses to practice his freedom of religion on Sunday from his job in the government. I doubt most of us know as much about the Sunday habits of our neighbors, our co-workers, or the CEO's we work for as we do now about Obama's ... nor do we need to in order to live our lives, do our jobs and let others live and do theirs. You'd hardly know it, but we still claim to separate church and state in this country.

Still, the media and the true patriots and the white folks are hammering away at the "pastor problem" on the basis that they wouldn't choose that church or that pastor. Well, hell, I wouldn't choose any of their pastors, either. I don't do church ... but if I did I'd be more likely to frequent a black church than a white one ... they're just a ton less boring. Nevertheless, after cherry-picking a few out-of-context statements from a handful of sermons Wright gave in his thirty-five years of sermonizing, stringing them together to give the worst possible impression of Rev. Wright, and handing Obama as much flak as he's been taking for them, you'd think he wrote the motherfuckers. Did he hear them? Maybe. Maybe not. He probably takes some Sundays off.

I did hear them. I've listened to the "offending" sermons in their entirety, and I didn't find them remotely as offensive as the hate-filled rantings of Jerry Falwell (may he slowly roast in hell like a pig on a spit), James Dobson, Pat Robertson or that lunatic, Fred Phelps. How in the hell is Rev. Wright's call for god to damn America any more inflammatory than the Crispy Coalition and Pocus in the Fanny's declaration that he already has?

Every jot and tittle of Obama's personal life -- including the name he inherited and had nothing to do with -- is being dragged through the muck because he has no real scandals, no real political blunders, no extramarital sexual improprieties with hookers or staffers or queers (oh my), no shady past and no real dishonor to attack. If that's being "given a pass" then by all means, let's stop doing it right this minute, and let's start treating him like Hillary Clinton ... the entitled heir to the White House who can "mis-speak," flip-flop like a trout in a skillet all day long and then hop into bed with Richard Scaife for a little "no hard feelings" editorial board reunion:

This alone has to amount to some sort cosmic encounter like
something out of a Wagner opera. Remember, this is the guy who spent millions of
dollars puffing up wingnut fantasies about Hillary's having Vince Foster whacked
and lots of other curdled and ugly nonsense. Scaife was the nerve center of the
Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Perhaps the reason the original commenter (waaaay up at the top of this post) didn't feel Obama's being raked over the coals enough is that he just keeps on smiling that big infectious smile and doesn't appear to be suffering. It's not his style. His style is to respond rather than react, to understand that attacks come from fear, and to give those attacks exactly the measure of response they deserve, knowing full well that most of them say more about the people who launch them than they do about him.

My earnest belief is that, if Obama goes down in defeat, it's not because he doesn't deserve the office ... it's because this country doesn't deserve him. And in that event, we will most surely get what we do deserve ... another unending round of fraud and deception, broken promises, White House drama, pandering to the military-industrial complex and special interests, self-serving politics, increased poverty for the middle and lower class, increased wealth for the wealthy, escalating war, global enmity, recession and impotent hopelessness.

There's an upside to our chickens coming home to roost ... we're gonna need the eggs.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mistress President??

Okay, so this morning I sat down with my coffee and opened my e-mail, as usual, and found a link Ev had sent me in the middle of the night while she was winding down from work, as usual, and that's where my morning took a bizarre turn ...

The link she sent me was to the video of the McCain Girls (they use that phrase lightly) singing "It's Raining McCain" (which, if you haven't seen it, is worth checking out ... and don't give up on it until you see the floating dismembered heads and the girl bathing herself in little McCains ... really).

So that led me to follow some links to a few obscure blogs where I stumbled across this video by some Hillary fans singing "Making Our Dreams Come True" a la Laverne & Shirley. It's a series of still shots, and they go by fairly quickly, but about halfway through the video I could swear I saw ... nooooo ... couldn't be ...

So I rewound the video. There it was again! I paused. I gaped. I guffawed. There, buried deep in the middle of the video, is the subliminal take-home message. Hillary is going to make our dreams come true! Especially if our dream is to take it up the ass in a really big way:

Vote Hillary ... and Bring Your Lube!


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bunnies and Baskets and Floods, oh my!

As requested, here are the pictures of Ev's Easter basket. Nothing says, "Some Bunny Loves You!" like an assortment of hoppy ales, tasty stouts and dark chocolates!

After Ev left for work, I drove down to Cairo with the kids to see if our house is under water yet. So far, so good! Cairo is still dry, but it sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, surrounded by a levee wall on the Ohio side and dirt levees on the Mississippi side. Both rivers have risen to about 53 feet now ... 14 feet above flood stage ... and expect to crest at 55 feet in the next couple of days.

To the right is a shot of the Mississippi River from the top of the Cairo levee. To the right of the levee, about 200 yards away, are the houses of Cairo. To the left of the levee, that dark, heavy tree line off in the distance is the normal bank of the river.

Below is a shot from the bridge to Missouri, where you can just barely make out a farm, or what's left of it, in the middle of what's usually a field.

This next shot is from the levee gate on the Ohio that (usually) leads to an access road for vehicles needing barge access. You can see the "No Parking" sign just past the flotsam. Downtown Cairo lies 200 feet behind me ... at the bottom of a steep hill.

Next, we drove across the bridge into Kentucky. The line of barges on the left are docked along what is normally the western bank of the Ohio River. Today the Ohio River extends from it's western bank to the hill leading up to the town of Wickliffe, five miles away.

These are raised train trestles in Kentucky. These are the lucky ones. Most of them were under water.

Between the two rivers is the southernmost tip of Illinois, a spit of land known as Fort Defiance. Ordinarily
, Fort Defiance is a broad, grassy State Park with a tree-lined drive leading to a tower from which you can observe the muddy water of the Ohio and the clearer water of the Mississippi mixing and heading south to the Gulf of Mexico. Today we could only see the top of tower from the Kentucky bridge, sitting in the middle of the river with water up to the floor of the observation deck. This is the entrance to Fort Defiance ...

And a view from there of the bridges that link Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky.

It looks like this is about as bad as it's going to get here, and Cairo will survive the Flood of 2008 unscathed. But this Arizona desert native is duly impressed. That is one hell of a lot of water!

Happy Easter!


Ho Ho Ho! Merry Easter!

Well it's Easter. Since I'm at work and not at home, I can't post the picture of the most excellent Easter basket ever. The Easter Bunny was extra sensitive to my celebratory needs. The longer the Easter Bunny and I shack up, the better the Bunny gets at assessing my needs. When Lori and the kids get home, I'll make sure she posts some photos.

This year's Easter workfest has been less exciting than last year's, except for the fact that every single analyzer is struggling with it's crappy software issues and alarms are periodically going off everywhere. The blood banking machine can't read the bar codes, the hematology analyzer can't remember how to make slides, the platelet shaker thinks it's battery is dangerously low...and it's all lies. The analyzers would really like to be home celebrating, incubating their peeps and measuring the glucose and specific gravity of the chocolate bunnies. They're hoping to malinger their way to a day off, but I'm on to their tricks. No dice, analyzers. If I have to be at work, so do you.

Pretty much the only business we're getting today is E.R. patients, and they're mostly kids who ate 10 pounds of chocolate and a few Easter eggs that sat out all night, and have sore bellies now. This supports my "most parents are morons" theory. If you give your kids 10 pounds of chocolate for breakfast, why are you surprised when they come down with a sudden onset of nausea and vomiting? Maybe you can test this theory on yourselves be eating 20% of your body weight's worth of chocolate in a half hour, then wait two hours and assess the health of your digestive system. Get it now?

Enjoy your holiday! Remember, Jesus died for your Easter basket!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Reason We Have Kids (Besides that our birth control failed)

Okay, we're all in agreement that George Bush is a moron. Everytime he opens his mouth something stupid escapes. Imagine being Laura and having to listen to him all the time. I'd have killed him by now. But aside from being a famous idiot, or maybe because if it, he's coined a few phrases that have become part of the national lexicon: the Decider, fool me twice...I won't get fooled again, and a bunch more.

Lori and I were talking about phrases we picked up from our kids that have become part of our family lexicon. Here are of some of Katie's greatest hits:

1. There's no "I" in "can't", but there's an "I" in "I can't"
2. He's a sexaholic. He's addicted to sexahol.
3. There's no "me" in "team." Oh wait...yes there is.

What are yours? What phrases belong to your family alone, and make you laugh every time you use them?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Isn't That What You Women Want?

I had a conversation a few weeks back (and forgive me if I've already told this story...I've been hit on the head) with a coworker from Nigeria, which obviously makes him black. Okay, not entirely obviously, since I'm sure there are white people in Nigeria, but he isn't one of them.

So my Nigerian Coworker says to me, "Well, Evelyn? Are you supporting Mrs. Clinton?" and I said no, I was leaning more towards Obama. Then he said, "I don't understand you women. You all say you want a woman in the White House, but then you don't support her."

I asked him who he was supporting, and he said Mrs. Clinton. So I got to say, "I don't understand you black people. You say you want a black man in the White House, but then you don't support him."

Clearly it's not as simple as that. I do feel a little like a gender traitor by not supporting Hillary, but a lot of that visceral guilt is at least offset by the fact that at least I'm not lining up behind yet another white guy. Although I did originally like Kucinich, it wasn't because I believed that his commie views had a chance in hell of inspiring the electorate to shuck off the last eight years of creepy reactionary totalitarianism; instead, I supported him with the same hopeless affection I'd feel for my son in a pick-up game against Michael Jordan. "Come on, Dennis! You can score at least once before you get crushed!"

But now, in the race between Hillary and Obama, I'm supporting Obama. Partly because I think he's a straightforward guy with sound ideas and a willingness to see more than one perspective, and partly because I just have Clinton fatigue. I think Hillary would probably make a fine president, and I'll completely support her if she's nominated, but I'm just tired of the Clintons.

I know more about the Clintons, both professionally and personally, than I do about members of my own family. I know the fairytale story of Hillary's misguided beginnings as a Goldwater Girl before her political epiphany. I know the story of the Clinton's troubled marriage, their unstoppable political ascendancy, their endless scandals, perceived scandals, and non-scandals. Since yesterday, I now know about Hillary's secret association with a right-wing religious group that combines bible study with shadowy political manipulations (And how secret can it be if I know about it? I'm not exactly roaming the halls of the Capitol building swapping dirt with the power elite).

The national media has spent the last 16 years studying and dissecting the Clinton family, teasing out personal facts about their lives that might titillate conservative radio hosts and sell a few papers. Want to know how many days a year the Clintons sleep in the same bed? How about the history of Hillary's hair? Bill's flings? It's all there, in respectable media outlets like the New York Times as well as the tabloids. Since 1992, so many whispered allegations and conspiracy theories have emerged that it's become somewhat of a family joke in our house. But even assuming that 75% of what's written about the Clintons is either political spin or outright lies, I'm tired of hearing about it. I'd like to have a fresh start, someone new in the White House who at least has a chance of passing some progressive legislation.

I have no doubt that were Hillary Clinton elected President, the Republican party would start a four year long campaign of smear tactics, stonewalling, false accusations of wrongdoing, and various other acts of political mayhem that would paralyze the government and keep Bush's insane policies untouched for another term. And boy-howdy, can we not afford that.

Whether she would be a skillful President is a moot point. She has virtually no chance of being an effective one. She'll never be able to create bipartisan cooperation on any issues. She is the poster child for partisan gridlock. If Hillary Clinton were to propose legislation that said that hacking up puppies with a machete was bad, I have no doubt that the Republican Party machine would be able to produce 15 experts in puppy-hacking that would repudiate her, while implying that she actually has a sordid secret association with an underground Satanic puppy-murdering group that wants to increase your taxes and abort your grandchildren.

We don't have time for that foolishness. We need someone in the White House that can actually get something quickly moving to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan, heal our battered economy, restore the Constitution and regain our respect in the rest of the world.

That's the second best thing Obama brings to the table. He's not Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Earth Calling Hillary ...

I just finished telling Ev why I don't blog about politics, and then I ran across a blog entry by CBS News' Ryan Corsaro that's going to make a big fat blogging liar out of me. I can't leave this one alone.

While Obama was giving a landmark speech in Philadelphia on race in America, Hillary Clinton was posing for a photo-op with Philadelphia Mayor Joe Nutter, former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame and fielding questions from the media. They asked her the obvious question ... what did she think of Obama's speech?

"I did not have the chance to see or to read yet Senator Obama's speech,” said Clinton. “But I am very glad he gave it. It's an important topic. Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history and they are complicated in this primary campaign,” continued Clinton. “There have been detours and pitfalls along the way.”

With that pithy summation of the issue of race in America, she moved on, hoping to discuss the economy, the Bear-Stearns bailout and the war in Iraq, but those pesky reporters kept harking back to The Speech. This is my favorite passage from Cosaro's article:

Clinton appeared to entertain the idea of making her own speech on these issues, but repeated that she would not agree to make a similar speech until she had viewed the one he made today, also in Philadelphia. “I’ll take a look at it,” Clinton assured members of the press.

Just read that over and over again and think about it.

There's a lot I could say about Obama's speech in Philadelphia, but it's been said already by better political minds than mine. What I will say is that, if I were running against Barack Obama, I'd sure as hell be paying attention to what he's saying. How do you get too busy for that?? When she gets around to watching it on YouTube, I hope it will be painfully obvious that it hardly needs the "me, too!" candidate to "make a similar speech" even if she could. It's not as if she's going to improve on it, any more than she improved on the borrowed "Yes, We Can!" slogan by changing it to "Yes, We Will!"

This is the woman who is running for the Presidency of the United States, and she wants to study the front-runner's speech so she can "make a similar one" of her own. Now there's some leadership for you.

And I just love "I'll take a look at it." Like she took a look at the intelligence reports before voting to invade Iraq? Don't do us any favors at this late date.


Happy Birthday, War.

This morning, as I drove through a blinding rainstorm that's in the process of devastating huge chunks of the midwest, it dawned on me that I was driving through a blinding rainstorm in Oregon exactly five years ago, listening to the same radio pundits discuss the same war, which has now devastated huge chunks of the mideast. That morning they were waving flags and triumphantly broadcasting the opening shots of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This morning they were much more subdued in their praise.

I thought it was wholly appropriate that the heavens should be crying buckets on both occasions.

Sometimes I think there really might be a god, even if all he can do at this point is cry and regret ever playing in that mud puddle.


Our Adventure In The Land Of Sky Blue Waters, But Without Any Crappy Beer

In no particular order, this is my life this week:

We've gotten somewhere between six and ten inches of rain in the last two days. Like the snow and ice, it's an interesting thing to see, but not so interesting if you have to actually leave the house and do work, for instance.

Lori and I went to Wisconsin to pick up the new eBay truck this weekend. It was in the mid-60's here when we left Saturday morning and in the 20s when we arrived in Racine eight hours later. We stayed overnight outside of Chicago and came home Sunday, to temps in the mid-60s again.

Racine was a nifty place. We picked up the truck, loaded it on the car dolly and detoured to the lakefront before going home. Lori had never seen the Great Lakes before and was having trouble wrapping her mind around a landlocked lake that looks like the ocean. It was freezing by the lake, of course, and ungodly windy. But the lake itself was impressive, and so were the hardy little ducks bobbing in it. If I could speak duck I would have told them that the bobbing is much nicer in temperate Southern Illinois.

We had foolishly driven up on the 294 tollway, which cost us $15 in tolls just to get around the city of Chicago with a car dolly. Hello IDOT? Have you considered changing your acronym to IDIOT? The tollroad was that kind of teeth-jarring, suspension-breaking, surface-of-the-moon roadway that leaves you wondering why they don't take some of the bazillion dollars they extort from us downstate rubes and apply it towards a little road maintenance.

On the way home from Racine we made the obligatory stop at a roadside cheese store for cheese curds. Then I was REALLY mad about the $15 in tolls. Think of all the extra curds that would have bought! We bought some cheeses and sausages, tried on some cheesewear (cheese-wedge hats, a cheese fez, cheese slippers. You know...all of life's necessities), and headed back towards Illinois. but we were smarter on the way home. The nice tollbooth lady who was shaking us down for $4.25 at the last booth before we left the tollway told me that we should come back on Route 41, which is free.

She was right. It was free, and therefore much more pleasant. It was also fun to drive past the snooty rich folks in the northern 'burbs. At least, I'm told there were snooty rich folks. When you've achieved a desirably high level of snoot, you get to live in a house that's not visible from the street. We did, however, get to see their gates, which are undoubtedly worth more than our entire family compound, with the cats thrown in.

The weather was fine, the drive was nice and for once, I was actually able to go 65 mph pulling something. I was totally proud of myself until I got pulled over outside of Effingham. The cop said to me, "Did you know the speed limit is 55 when you're pulling a trailer?"

Well, crap. I didn't know that. This was one of those rare times when I wasn't actually making the decision to do something stupid. I told him that no, I didn't know. Actually, I was proud of myself for keeping up with the flow of traffic for a change. I had no idea I wasn't supposed to.

He said, "Look. I've got you on the speeding, and the seatbelt violation. I'm going to write the seatbelt violation up and leave the speeding alone. That way you won't get points on your license." In a moment of rare self-restraint, I didn't say, "I wouldn't get points on my license and I wouldn't be out $55 for the seatbelt violation if you hadn't pulled me over in the first place, Asshole."
Instead, I signed the ticket (Which I threw in the glove box with my other three seatbelt tickets. Don't fence me in.), laughed at his joke, and drove away. Slowly. Really slowly, since he'd pulled me over at the bottom of a hill and I had no momentum to carry me up the next one. I sort of halfway expected him to pull me over again at the top for going below the 45 mph minimum. Look at this thing. Does it actually look like it could speed?

I expect to end up in prison someday for my seatbelt violations, which will be fun because I can get Melon's likeness prison-tattooed on my neck and I'd have an excuse to shave my head and lift weights all day. And I could have conversations like this:
"What are you in for?"
"Murder. You?"
"Seat belt violations. Lots of them. I'm crazy. Don't fuck with me. Oh...and touch the red blankie and I'll shank you."

So...We were home by 4pm. Life was good. We'd gone out into the English world...wait, we're not Amish...We'd gone out into the civilized world, interacted with strangers, and successfully nabbed another truck. And it's a pretty one for a change.

Now I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Drive By, and How It can Improve Your Life.

I haven't blogged in a week. Not because of my recent brain woe or anything similarly dramatic, but because I've been busy driving by our eBay trip to Wi-SCAH-nsin. Towards that end I've invested in a stereo for my favorite truck that, in fact, cost more than I paid for the truck. I also checked out the tow dolly situation with my favorite U-Haul guy, Josh (What? You don't have a favorite U-Haul guy?), and went to to learn how to remove the drive shaft of the eBay truck for transport. I've decided to check it out by removing my own drive shaft and see if it seems pretty straightforward. I even got up early to give it a whirl...but it's raining. A lot. Like Hemingway famously opined, "Why did the chicken cross the road? To die. Alone. In the rain."

So I can't practice my drive shaft removal project unless I'm willing to lay in the freezing mud (I'm not.), and I'm experiencing..surpise!...a little anxiety about that. Which brings me to my two topics for today:

1. I have a not-so-secret longing to go to Auto Mechanic's School.
2. The importance of the Drive-By to any new project.

Auto Mechanic's School

I love messing around with the truck, but my knowledge is limited to whatever I've fixed during it's previous disasters. What I would like is a comprehensive knowledge of how to repair all the structural parts. I know I can't ever do anything with the computer-driven stuff, but I ought to be able to replace a tie rod or a drive shaft or an oil pump without dragging out the book and studying up on it like it's open heart surgery or flying the airplane after the pilot dies.

My theory of everything is that other people do it, whatever "it" is...and I'm as smart as other people, ergo, I ought to be able to do it. In general this works well, however the theory goes a little awry when I'm confronted with the fact that I'm old, small and weak. Sometimes I go track down the Man Friend to loosen things, or the Heating & Cooling guys next door, who are both big and friendly. What I really need is a set of air tools. Then I'd be unstoppable. I'd have this whole place reduced to it's component pieces in minutes!

I want someone to go to Auto Mechanic's School with me so that I'll have someone to help me take shit apart and laugh with when it won't go back together, and someone who'll help deflect the stares of the burly 20 years old guys who'll wonder why their moms have invaded their sacred place. I'm taking applications for the position of Auto Mechanic School Buddy. If anyone is interested, the requirement for the position is pretty much anyone with a pulse. It doesn't even have to be a particularly strong pulse. If you can survive the class with me, you're hired.

My other topic for the day?

The Drive-By

In our family lexicon, the drive-by is not the one most people think of, in which one can shoot the person or persons one deems most deserving of a bullet hole or two from the comfort of one's car, without needing to leave the car in the case of inclement weather or in the middle of a good NPR segment.

The drive-by in our family is part of the decision making sequence that follows:
1. Think about it.
2. Study up on it, usually via the Internet.
3. Drive by it.
4. Go in.
5. Process the experience, and whether it might ever be worth doing again.

The drive-by is a critical step, because it's the bridge between the intellectual part and the physical part. For instance, someone I know has a ticket (or two or three) for seatbelt violations. Since that particular someone has a fondness for driving around enjoying the Southern Illinois countryside, she has acquired her tickets in three different counties. Although I...uh...she has not actually paid the tickets, she has located all three courthouses and driven by them, thus paving the way for the day she actually enters them and pays the tickets.

See? The step between deciding to do something and actually doing it requires a careful examination of the outward appearance of the thing and psychological preparation for any potential pitfalls.

Using the Drive-By Method of decision making, one can make a variety of decisions that initially seem too ludicrous to consider, like driving to Wi-SCAH-nsin for an eBay truck, for instance. But without my drive shaft removal drive-by experience, I'll be anxious about whether I've brought the right tools, whether I'm strong enough for the project or whether it's beyond me for some other reason.

And you know what that means: extra processing at the end. And you, my Internets pals, will be the lucky recipients of that. Right here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Now What Am I Going To Do For A Living?

Well, that my worst nightmare, the most embarrassing moment, the thing I've dreaded for years has actually I'm ready to change my name (What do you think of Evie-Lou Cummins-Goins? Too much?), move away and become an alpaca herder in Wyoming.

Last night I had a temporal lobe seizure at work. And let's remind ourselves of what that involves, shall we? Uncontrollable weeping, hallucinations, paranoia. Sort of a cross between schizophrenia and a panic attack. It's awful on the inside, and it looks awful on the outside.

This is how Wikipedia describes temporal lobe seizures:

Simple Partial Seizures (SPS) involve small areas of the temporal lobe and do not affect consciousness. These are seizures which primarily cause sensations. These sensations may be mnestic such as déjà vu (a feeling of familiarity), jamais vu (a feeling of unfamiliarity), a specific single or set of memories, or amnesia. The sensations may be auditory such as a sound or tune, or gustatory such as a taste, or olfactory such as a smell that is not truly present. Sensations can also be visual or involve feelings on the skin or in the internal organs. The latter feelings may seem to move over the body. Dysphoric or euphoric feelings, fear, anger, and other sensations can also occur during SPS. Often, it is hard for persons with SPS of TLE to describe the feeling. SPS are often called "auras," and are sometimes thought to be preludes to more severe seizures.

So what does that mean to our Evie? It means that I start with a small headache, and quickly progress to a kind of weeping, fearful confusion in which I hear whispering voices, smell odd and inappropriate things, and see strangers lurking in the periphery of my vision. I'm completely overwhelmed: nothing looks familiar or safe, the lights are too bright, the analyzers are too loud, people keep moving erratically, and I have to fight the impulse to curl up in a ball under the bench and hide. All of this, while unpleasant at home, is truly mortifying at work. It feels insane, it looks insane, and I'm sure it does considerable damage to my credibility as a Laboratory Professional.

So after an hour or so of weeping, Lori came to get me and we dropped by the E.R. We actually spent so long waiting there that I felt pretty much back to normal by the time I was seen and released. I went back to the lab, gathered my stuff, and went home.

But the worst of all? I'll have to go back today.

On the bright side, TLE is supposed to be associated with creativity :

As Eve LaPlante discusses in her book, "Seized," the intense emotions, sensory experience including vibrancy of colors, and particular mental state provoked by temporal lobe abnormalities may have contributed to the creation of significant works of art. A number of well-known writers and artists are known, or in many cases suspected to have had temporal lobe epilepsy, aggravated, in some cases, by alcoholism. They include Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll), Edgar Allan Poe, Fyodor Dostoevsky (whose novel The Idiot features an epileptic protagonist, Prince Myshkin), Gustave Flaubert, Philip K. Dick, Sylvia Plath and the contemporary author Thom Jones. Peter O'Leary also discusses this in his book "Gnostic Contagion: Robert Duncan and the Poetry of Illness."

Unfortunately, I've never shown any inclination in that direction. Nor, sadly in this one:

In some modes of presentation women can feel orgasms when suffering a temporal lobe epilepsy episode. No cases have so far been reported for men.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

An Open Letter to Barack Obama


If you're reading, I have some urgent campaign advice you really need to hear. (And if you're not reading, why not?!?)

First, I want to let you know that you're doing well down here in Southern Illinois, and I'm behind you all the way, but after tonight's primaries I'm a little worried. You're not carrying rural Americans, and I know you want to fill in that gap in your campaign strategy. I've been watching the polls and the primaries, and I don't think your campaign advisors are on top of this. The good news is, it can easily be fixed, so listen up.

I was looking at the state by state results tonight and I couldn't help but notice that in virtually every primary, if you look at the results by county and precinct, there's an undeniable pattern. Hillary takes the rural votes and you takes the cities. The pattern stays true whether you win the state or not. The Obama precincts look like little walled fortresses of urban-hood, strategically placed to fortify the three or four cities in every state from an unwashed peasant uprising.

So far the Team Obama strategy has been working, at least as far as the delegate count goes, but you've taken some hits this week and ... crappola ... you lost Ohio and squeeked out a tie in Texas. You've got to increase your appeal to the folks out there in the hinterlands. There's nothing wrong with what you're saying ... your speeches are a thing of beauty. But, despite the sell-out crowds at your big-venue rallies and the support of virtually every college-aged kid in America, there are too many people who are connecting with Hillary instead of you, and since no one on your payroll will tell you why, I will.

It's the suit.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great suit. I'll bet you paid a lot of money for it, and it makes you look very dignified and polished and Presidential, but it's gotta go. People are talking about it, and not in a good way. Some have taken to calling it the funeral director suit.

Dude. We totally love this picture of you riding the ferris wheel with your girls at the Iowa State Fair. We loved the khaki pants and the blue shirt you were wearing in the infamous "Obama doesn't salute the flag" photo. The swimsuit photo? Also fun and spontaneous. As Ev says, when you aren't wearing the suit you look approachable. Approachable is good.

The suit worked great in the beginning of the campaign. It was easy to picture you giving your Inauguration speech or a State of the Union Address. Why not save it for one of those occasions? For one thing, you talk about change in every speech, but if a man never even changes his suit, how is he going to change the country and the world? These are the questions rural Americans are asking. How will you answer? More to the point, what will you wear when you do?

And I'm sorry we even have to bring this up in America in the 21st century, but the unfortunate fact is, there is an evil faction in this country ... a small but loud-mouthed collective of tiny-brained, hate-mongering, near-illiterate bigots and fear-mongers who are saying you dress like a Black Muslim. Or worse, a Civil Rights leader from the 1950's. Nothing scares the be-jesus out of a racist like a black man in a dark suit. Barack! You've got to put out some of these fires! Wear some jeans and a colorful shirt! Besides giving the bigots less ammunition you'll be sending a message to Joe and Jane Average that you're a guy who can come out from behind the desk, roll up his sleeves and do a day's work.

Consider your formidable opponent. Hillary is the Great Feminist Hope. She came into the race with the admiration, respect, and support of an overwhelming majority of women. She's a savvy politician who knows her strengths, and every day she sits down with her strategists and then goes to her closet. She emerges and takes the stage exuding confidence, just as you do, and displaying her considerable grasp of policy ... in a veritable rainbow of colorful pantsuits that say, "I may be a successful woman, but underneath all the fame and money and power I'm just like you. I'm a wife and mother. I've taken some hits. I've been cheated on and I survived. I've cleaned up puke, changed diapers, dragged myself to dance recitals and school pageants and stayed up half the night building a diorama depicting the Fall of the Roman Empire out of paper mache and Tempera paint. And right after this speech we're all headed over to the Cracker Barrel for Sunday Brunch!" And don't think the couture homage to Ann Richards is completely coincidence, either. She's getting a lot of subliminal messages in there while you're showing up every day in the suit.

(The truth is, she's got as much in common with a farmer's wife in Ohio as a wolf has with a wounded rabbit, but she looks like plain folks and they like it. I refer you again to those county by county maps. )

So here's the deal. We're getting down to the wire, and this could go either way. I'm still believing in you to win the nomination, and sending in donations when I can, and I don't want a thing in exchange for this advice except your promise to lose the suit. Put on the khaki pants or a pair of jeans and a colorful shirt and roll your sleeves up. Show the farmers and beef ranchers and small-town rural folks that you aren't just going to stand around in a suit being a politician. I, and millions of other Americans, really need you to win this presidency. Don't you own some grubbies??

Yours truly,


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Because I've Been Asked...

I have a friend who's very gay-friendly, but not a native speaker of English. She was reassuring me once about her gay-friendliness and mentioned that her uncle is also The Gay. much do we love this?

Subsequently, we've gotten to be closer friends, and have moved from discussion gayness in the abstract to discussing it in some detail. In those conversations, we refer to the actual sex act as The Sex. My friend is also having The Sex, but she has it with The Husband instead of The Girlfriend.

Therefore: Lori and I are The Gay. We have The Sex. The Gay Sex. We both speak English fluently, but we have come to prefer this slightly butchered phrasing to the more technically correct but soulless kind found in Standard English.

So...Sassy Pants? Enjoy The Sex. With The Boy. Or The Girl...hell, I don't care. Just come back and tell your lascivious Aunties about it afterwards, okay?

Guess Who's Got Another eBay Truck?

After a week off from the ice? It's back. We're once again fully engaged in the scraping, slipping, fishtailing part of winter. I have a little post-holiday letdown in the wake of Pulaski Day, the new eBay truck is bought, and now the logistical challenge of picking it up in Racine, Wisconsin is before us. This is the eBay truck:
It's a '91 Ranger with an extended cab. Like all eBay trucks, it'll need some work, but we paid $592 for it, so I can afford to put some money into it.
I haven't been to Wisconsin in 15 or 20 years, and Lori's never been at all, so this will be another eBay adventure trip. We will, of course, have pictures and narrative to share when we get home.
I'd love to go up Friday, but I think Lori's working, and then I work the weekend. We're both off next weekend, so that'll give all you Northerners plenty of time to give us good touring advice between Effingham, IL and Racine, WI. And if we wait for the weekend we can stay over in Chicago and see that, although I can't imagine where we'd go if we just had a few hours.
Ah, but that's why we have you, our Internets friends. Where should we go if we have a single evening and morning in Chicago?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Pulaski Day!

We're all wearing our traditional Pulaski Day leiderhosen, drinking pilsner beer, and singing Pulaski Carols! Gather 'round, kids. I'll read you "The Night Before Pulaski Day." You're obviously a clever bunch. None of that is actually true. I'm actually at leiderhosen, no pilsner...just a bronchial lavage culture waiting to be set up and the warm homey hum of the analyzers.

However, I'll still wish you the traditional Pulaski Day greeting:

Everybody have fun tonight! Everybody Wang Chung tonight!

Now drop the Pulaski Ball over Times Square, and let's get started with the fireworks and the polish sausage hunt.

(That Casimir Pulaski...he was an odd man, wasn't he?)

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day!

That's right, it's Casimir S. Pulaski Day here in Southern Illinois! Woohoo!

Lest you mistakenly think this is a non-event just because you can't buy a Casimir S. Pulaski Day card at the Hallmark store, you should know that every year, on the first Monday in March, we close the schools and celebrate the birthday of this Revolutionary War hero.

Kazimierz, as he was known in his native Poland, was a nobleman and soldier who valiantly fought the Russians in his homeland and then immigrated to America, where he served as a General in the Continental Army. He was shot in the groin at the Battle of Savannah, died of his wounds, and was buried at sea (or possibly in Savannah -- there is conflicting evidence) without ever setting foot in Illinois.

In fact, he has nothing at all to do with Illinois, except that there's a large Polish-American community in Chicago and they like a nice parade up there.

Downstate we named a town AND a county after him (take that, Chicago) and the Pulaski Store makes some damn fine bbq sandwiches, which could easily be enjoyed while watching a parade on a school holiday if you wanted to.

There are songs written to commemorate General Pulaski ... sort of. Sufjan Stevens wrote this one about his adolescent girlfriend who died of bone cancer on Casimir Pulaski Day. The noise band Big Black has a track called "Kasimir S. Pulaski Day" on their 1987 album "Songs About Fucking" which isn't about Casimir Pulaski, either. It's about a car bombing on Pulaski Road in Chicago. It's not as heartwarming as this one ... even less so if you can understand the lyrics.

You may have gathered from previous posts that we aren't big holiday celebrants, but we did celebrate this one by taking a drive through Pulaski County in the rain this morning. Along the way we passed a long line of cars slowly following a garbage truck down Main Street. We're not sure if it was a parade, or if there was a Casimir Pulaski Day Queen on the truck, but we waved just in case.

Parade or not, we didn't want to miss this opportunity to wish our readers a happy holiday. Everybody Wang-Chung tonight!