Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The State of A Different Union

An excerpt from a State of the Union speech that we won't hear...

My fellow Americans, the attacks of September 11, 2001 showed us that we are vulnerable to terrorists seeking to destroy our way of life. I believe that extraordinary measures were necessary in order to ensure that we do a better job of protecting the American people from further attacks. Some of these measures have come under scrutiny by people who love our country as much as I do. These people suggest that our measures have gone so far as to encroach on the civil liberties of Americans. I don’t believe that we have done that. But I believe that is important that all Americans are united in our war on terror. I am therefore directing that a bi-partisan commission be established to review our policies for conducting surveillance of American citizens. I expect a full report to be presented to me by Independence Day 2006, the 230th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.

I continue to believe that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of a democratic government in Iraq to be a critical component of our war on terror. It is true that some of our intelligence reports about Iraq were incorrect. These intelligence reports came on my watch and I accept full responsibility for them. Despite the errors in those reports, I nevertheless believe that our war in Iraq was the right decision. I stand by that decision and I accept full responsibility for the ramifications of that decision. I grieve for every American life that has been lost in Iraq and pray that history will show that their sacrifices paved the way for a better Iraq, and for a better America. Now that a democratic government has been established in Iraq, it is critical the the role of the American military be drastically scaled back so that the Iraqi people can rule themselves. I have directed that half of the troops in Iraq be brought home by the end of 2006, with the remainder to be withdrawn by the end of 2007. This will provide adequate support for the training of the Iraqi military and police forces and a smooth transition so that they will be fully able to maintain the peace in their country.

It breaks my heart that part of the legacy of the war in Iraq was the torture of Iraqi prisoners. I want to ensure that the well-known episodes of torture are never repeated. I have asked John McCain to personally advise me on changes that need to be made to our military operating procedures. I promise to implement his recommendations in their entirety.

Finally, my fellow Americans, I stand here in the belief that democratic governments represent the best way to, as our great constitution states in its preamble, “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. My support for the principles of democracy is absolute. Having said this, I am troubled by the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections. Hamas policies directly conflict with the policies of the United States. Nevertheless, the Palestinian people have spoken, and we must respect their decision. I have asked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to work with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the new Hamas-led Palestinian government, once formed, to move forward with our mission for peace in the Middle East.

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Ears Have It

A New York Times article published today reports that Japanese scientists have discovered the gene that controls the type of earwax you produce. In case you hadn’t noticed, the world is divided into 2 groups – those having wet earwax and those having dry earwax. It’s kind of like Red State/Blue State politics, except without the 4 year cycle.

This news is important to 2 groups, the first being mothers of small children, whom I expect to launch a campaign demanding genetically-engineered treatments for their wet wax children. The second group is Unilever, the maker of Q-Tips, whose legal teams will work tirelessly to prevent the development of such treatments, using the slogan “Wetter is Better.”

The research also showed a correlation between wet earwax and body odor. The implications are clear – Genetically engineered treatments could be the cure to both wet waxy ears and BO.

Still, I’m a little bit leery of genetic engineering. The long term effects aren’t known. I’d hate it if I went in for a BO shot that later turned me into something useless, like an eggplant.

My current plan is to steer clear of genetic alteration therapy until they come up with a viable treatment for something important, like male pattern baldness.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Filleting my Soul

My fellow bloggers are pointing me to all of these interesting quizzes! I found this one to be probably not that far off-base...

You Are a Retrospective Soul

The most misunderstood of all the soul signs.
Sometimes you even have difficulty seeing yourself as who you are.
You are intense and desire perfection in every facet of your life.
You're best described as extremely idealistic, hardworking, and a survivor.

Great moments of insight and sensitivity come to you easily.
But if you aren't careful, you'll ignore these moments and repeat past mistakes.
For you, it is difficult to separate the past from the present.
You will succeed once you overcome the disappointments in life.

Souls you are most compatible with: Traveler Soul and Prophet Soul

Red Alert, Don Ho!

The Associated Press reported today that the humuhumunukunukuapuaa is no longer considered the state fish of Hawaii. The humuhumu was designated the state fish in 1984, but the designation only lasted 5 years. This sunsetting provision appears to have come about because the support for the humuhumu came from Hawaii's schoolchildren rather than through some well-financed lobbying organization promising lavish luaus with plenty of wahines.

I personally wouldn't know anything about the humuhumu were it not for Miss Bloom, my 7th grade music teacher. She had taken a vacation to Hawaii, had her picture taken with Don Ho, and brought back enough stuff to spend a whole year on the music of Hawaii. We had to sing "My Little Grass Shack" along with Don Ho and could spell "
humuhumunukunukuapuaa" forwards and backwards. And that's still the only thing I remember about that class and about Hawaiian music.

I've carefully considered this situation and have come up with a solution: Hawaii's legislators should drop the weighty matters they're currently considering and not only make the humuhumunukunukuapuaa the state fish in perpetuity, but also pass a constitutional amendment circumventing the possibility of the humuhumu's interbreeding with other fish such as the oopu and ulua, which are rumored to swim in large predatory schools just off the coast of

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sunset of the Left Wing

Until recently, I had a total of 4 digital cameras. (Not counting camera phones, which are a great idea, if only you could capture a good image with them.) So, when I decided that I'd really like a small camera that I could carry in my pocket or in my mountain bike bag, I had some serious rationalization to do. I would sell my first camera, an Olympus C2020Z (a nice camera but no longer used and a bit too bulky to carry in a pocket) on eBay. I haven't quite gotten to that yet. But, I did get a nice little camera. It's a Canon Powershot S410, a little 4 megapixel camera with 3x optical zoom that is last year's model but has some very good reviews and comments on the Imaging Resource and DP Review websites. Best of all, I got it for $127.50 on eBay!

I used it to take this picture on a recent flight from Washington, DC to Pittsburgh.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Law of the Unattainable Triad

"Good. Fast. Cheap. Choose any two."

This law is often forgotten in today's business world.

If You're At Work...

...then you'll probably find this site more exciting than what you're doing. Some of the animations are interactive, so get clickin'.

Speaking of work, office internet usage was blamed for poor performance in a Malaysian government office, according to a recent Associated Press article. It's fortunate indeed that we don't have that problem here.

The Best Blonde Joke

I think that posting links to jokes is tacky most of the time, but I know you'll want to check out this great blonde joke!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

You're Smart - But What Kind of Smart?

Ever notice how some people are smart about some things but not about others? Maybe they're very intellectual but not at all adept in social situations. Or, maybe they didn't do well in school but are great at selling things. Here are my results and a link to the quiz so you can take it...

"Intellectually" Intelligent

You're 'Intellectually Intelligent.' That pretty much means that you're good with theoretical ideas and concepts - but this comes to you naturally. More or less, you're a natural brainiac. Good for you.

20% theoretical intelligence
80% natural intelligence

Take this quiz at QuizGalaxy.com

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Tearful Farewell

Pelée (1987 – 2006)

When we bought our house in 1987, one of the first things we wanted to do was get a cat, so Beth went to the Animal Rescue League shelter one Saturday in August and found a brown tabby that she liked. She didn’t bring it home, though, because we needed to take some mail addressed to us to prove that we truly lived at our address. So we got our piece of mail and both went to the Animal Rescue League the next day. They also had a litter mate of Pelée’s but we didn’t get her out of fear that 2 cats would bother my allergies.

Pelée’s paperwork indicated that she was not litter trained. But we set up the litter box and she appeared to not have any problem using it. However, it turned out that although she did use the litter box, she was only partially litter trained. She would dig before using the box but it apparently never occurred to her to “cover it up” afterward.

Since I had cat allergies, it was decided that Pelée would sleep in the garage at night. The only problem with this was that our bedroom was directly over the garage and Pelée began a nonstop barrage of the most piteous meows imaginable. So…I relented and said that Pelée could sleep in the house at night. But NOT in the bedroom! This meant that the bedroom door needed to be kept closed. Well, the meows outside the bedroom door were louder than the ones that came from the garage, so, I once again relented and allowed the bedroom door to be opened. But she was NOT to sleep on the bed! I apparently didn’t know cats – Pelée ended up on the bed that night and most nights thereafter until the last couple years of her life.

You might wonder how Pelée got her name. Actually, we didn’t have a name for her for a while. Then we discovered that she liked to chase this little pink ball. She’d run around and bat it all over the place. So we named her Pelée after Pelé, the Brasilian soccer legend. Every so often we’d rediscover the ball behind the refrigerator or under the dryer or some other inaccessible place. One year we got her some ping-pong balls for Christmas, a present we all very much enjoyed.

Pelée was very much a people-oriented cat. She was not aloof at all and always wanted to be part of the action, to the extent we had anything qualifying as “action” at our house. If we were sitting on the sofa she’d be on one of our laps. If we were in the kitchen she’d be there helping out. And of course she’d be on the bed at night. It’s amazing how much of a bed one cat can occupy.

One of Pelée’s favorite spots was her scratching post. Not only did she actually use it to sharpen her claws, but it seemed to be her home base in the house. When we would take her with us on a trip, the scratching post came along. I built it with a big sturdy bottom, which was a good thing, since not only did she actively use it as a scratching post, but she would also sit at the top and box with us. The boxing sessions usually lasted until one of us (Beth or I, not Pelée) got a nasty deep scratch.

We liked to roughhouse with Pelée, which may have been a bad thing, because when our first child arrived and in curiosity tried to reach for her and play with her, he was often rewarded with “rake marks” on his head! With the arrival of our other three children, Pelée mellowed a bit. She generally tolerated the children, but had her limits and would let them know when they had crossed the line.

Pelée liked to spend a lot of time outside. At times she would wander across the road, but when it was bedtime she would usually come back when we whistled for her. She did do some hunting in her younger years, several times bringing back a half-dead mouse or bird. But this all changed one Sunday afternoon when we returned from church to find Pelée running across the yard bringing us a dead baby bluebird in her mouth. This was one of the baby bluebirds raised in Beth’s bluebird house. Thus Pelée’s proudest moment earned her the scolding of her life and a little bell on her collar. So much for the stealthy hunter. Plus, we could hear her coming when we whistled at night!

As she grew older, she still spent a lot of time outside, but didn’t wander so far. She had her favorite spots lying in front of the house in the sun and under one of the cars when it was rainy. Her fangs began to fall out, and she eventually lost them all. When she was 17, we got her a grey kitten to keep her company. Nebula, as the kitten was named, was definitely NOT Pelée’s favorite gift. Any attempt that Nebula would make to play with Pelée was met with a very nasty hiss, after which Nebula would usually beat a quick retreat.

In the last year of her life Pelée suffered a rather severe attack by a neighbor cat. In the course of having her treated, we discovered that she was suffering from chronic renal failure – her kidneys were not functioning properly. She recovered somewhat after her initial treatment but steadily declined after that. Pelée went to sleep for the last time on January 9, 2006.

We miss Pelée terribly but are grateful for the 18 years that she brightened our lives.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Who Kicks in 2006?

I've been writing a "ghoul pool" list for the office for the last few years. It's not a "pool" like other ghoul pools, where everyone makes their picks and puts in their money. Rather, I just look for various famous people and try to create a humorous entry about them. In case you're interested in checking the vital signs of your favorite celebrity, go to the Dead People Server site.

And now, before I post my entries, a word about Strom. Senator Strom Thurmond was on my list for years, and has even appeared posthumously. I kind of miss not having him on this year, but I'm confident that he'll find his way onto a future listing.

And now, for this year's entries...

  1. Bob Barker – He can purchase a trip to the other side – iiiiifff The Price is Right!
  2. Billy Graham – Lookin’ for a new crusading venue.
  3. Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps, but Neil’s gonna.
  4. Henry Kissinger – Former Secretary of State drones on into oblivion
  5. Karl Malden – Leaves the Streets of San Francisco to find the streets paved with gold.
  6. Scott Hamilton – Flipping over backwards to make the jump to the rink that needs no Zamboni.
  7. Arlen Specter – US Senator and former Warren Commission member gets a final hearing for his single bullet theory.
  8. Paul Harvey – “Stand by for news! Today, from the other side…”
  9. Dick Clark – It’s only a matter of time before that giant crystal ball falls on him.
  10. Monty Hall – Finds out how hard it is to make a deal on the other side…
And, finally, the levees can no longer hold back my choice for this year’s wild card entry…New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. He will be unexpectedly found drowned in his Jacuzzi.

Name the Pittsburgh Airport!

Name the Pittsburgh Airport!

An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Allegheny County Councilman Ed Kress has proposed that a highest bidder be allowed to rename Pittsburgh International Airport for a minimum fee of $5 million a year over 10 years.

We do hope that this won't actually happen. But in case it does, we might as well have a name that will bring a smile to our faces as we unlace our shoes to go through security.

I'll start with a few entries. Add your entries as comments and I'll add them to the list!

  • Lands' End Strip
  • American Eagle Aerie-el
  • Flying Tiger Den
  • Marshall's Field
  • Depends Regional Airport
  • Viagra International - On-time Takeoffs Guaranteed!
  • Tempur-pedic Field - Ensuring Soft Landings with Space Age Technology
  • Right Guard Airport - Who says flying has to stink
  • Day-Timer International - You'll know how late you are with us
  • Nair Field - The smoothest ride around
  • The Flying Circus
  • Yinzer Field N'at
  • MisterRogers Airport of Make-Believe, now with 24 Hour Trolley Service
  • MisterRogers Neighborhood Airport

Friday, January 13, 2006

Yes, I Am Compliant

I'm not generally described as compliant. But I'm happy to be compliant in this case, although I would like to know how the percentages were calculated. Check out my results and take the quiz yourself to see where you stand.

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant.

Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is

truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin.

Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

The Random Chicken

I'm going to try to post an interesting website every so often. And, now, for our very first one...[drumstick roll, please]...

The Official Random Chicken Website. This site has one purpose - to keep chickens as random as they can be, and it does so with a simplicity that you don't often see on the internet. Just click on the link, and check out your random chicken. There's a link you can cluck to see another random chicken.

One thing you'll notice about this site is that it was created in 1995 and hasn't been updated since 2001. That's the sign of a brilliant vision coupled with the realization that serving the internet's random chicken community doesn't require a website redesign every year. As long as the chickens are random, you have all the variety you need in a random chicken website.