Monday, July 28, 2003

How Bob Hope inspired me

I never joined the military, and I have never seen Bob Hope perform live. Regardless – Bob Hope had a positive effect on my life.

In April I posted about the 100th birthday of Bob Hope. In reading about Mr. Hope’s career to write that entry I was inspired. Not to play a round of golf or to travel the world entertaining the troops but rather do emulate him a bit closer to home.

I began to volunteer for the USO here in Chicago. I don’t tell jokes, dance, or sing like Bob – I just help staff a location that is there to help serve the men and women in uniform and their families. I really love volunteering at the USO because I view it as a great way to say ‘thank you’ to the men and women who have chosen to join the military.

The USO is a non-profit organization that depends on contributions and volunteers to do all that it can to improve the lives of those in the military.

If you too have fond memories of Bob Hope a great way to honor him would be to volunteer or donate to the USO.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Positive Identification

There are those out there who are claiming that we ‘don’t know’ if the bodies are that of Uday and Qusay. I believe the reports because nobody in the government (or military) will be willing to falsely report this story and have the resulting egg on their faces. Talk about a career killer.

Perhaps DNA testing was done very quickly, however to the best of my knowledge accurate DNA tests take some time. At this point the ID seems to be a combination of a physical identification and medical records.

I figure that at least one of the bodies can be quickly, easily, positively identified. It has been reported that following an assassination attempt Udays shattered femur was replaced with titanium.

To the best of my knowledge every implanted device is marked with a serial number. This means that it will be a fairly simple process to remove the femur from the body and track the associated serial number.

Yes, I watch far to many ‘true crime' shows.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


I am generally a fairly mild mannered and kind. However, the news that the Hussein boys died elicited a visceral positive reaction.

Truly, I have never before felt Joy at the death of another human being but yesterday I did.

I should feel guilty about that (after all, as a Catholic I feel guilty for everything) but I just can’t. Perhaps it is because considering the rape, murder and torture that these evil beings participated in a decent argument could be made that they relinquished their ‘human’ card long before their pulses stopped.

I had kind of hoped that they would be captured instead of killed because after all a trial would have been very elucidating. I for one would have loved to get details about how they managed to amass those millions and build new palaces while under strict sanctions.

Now my big hope is that next to their bodies were the addresses of all the ‘safe houses’ where Dad might be hiding. I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than a world where the demon twins have ‘given up’ their father.

One of the most frustrating parts of this story was the fact that I was far away from a computer. I really wanted to see what all my favorite bloggers were saying about the story. Instead I was stuck in a place where I could only watch CNN. No matter how much I wanted the news the almost depressed look on Judy Woodruffs face when she was reporting really bugged me. I understand that this will push the “Bush Lied” story off the top of the page but really; can’t everyone (even CNN) agree that this is categorically GOOD news?

Tuesday, July 22, 2003


All the excitement about the upcoming movie Seabiscuit has reminded me of my youthful love of horses.

Like many girls when I was young I loved horses. I was very lucky to have parents who were able to get me lessons and feed my hobby. I never had a horse of my own, instead I only rode ‘school’ horses that were hardly prime horseflesh.

My very favorite school horse was a broken down Polo Pony. To this day I dream of buying another Polo Pony – they are great horses that have a lot of pep, are really well trained and love to be ridden.

On the other hand I had a friend whose family was in the horse racing industry. She had her own horse that was a broken down racehorse – in fact it was a grandson of Secretariat. No matter how great that bloodline was… it did not make for a very good horse. The horse suffered from the classic problems of a thoroughbred - mostly, it was just stupid and skittish.

I have to admit that as I read the book Seabiscuit I thought a lot about that horse and how what makes a horse great is it’s heart much more than bloodline. To this day I would take another broken down polo pony over a thoroughbred with a great bloodline.

As an added aside… I can not believe how great the racing shots look in the trailer. I am also really impressed by Toby McGuire riding on a racing saddle with the stirrups in your armpits. I was lucky enough to ride my friends horse on the warm up track once and regardless of how good of a rider I was (and I fancied myself pretty good) as that horse gained speed and I was perched on that tiny saddle it was SCARY!

Friday, July 18, 2003

I blame Dave Barry

I have wasted way to much time playing Defend Your Castle. A Dave Barry reader sent the link to his blog.

I believe this link was sent in retaliation for Dave introducing the blogosphere to the equally addicting Copter game.

If you have any reason to step away from your computer, or to accomplish anything on your computer today – don’t start playing!

A dirty little secret in the wine industry

I still have not heard back from my dream job after my last interview. I have been thinking lately about past jobs in terms of trying to tease out transferable skills that I can use in applying for new positions.

In one of my past careers I worked in the bulk wine industry. This is a side of the wine industry that the marketers never want you to know about. Some of the romance of drinking wine may be lost if the consumer found out that it was transported in large 14,000 liter containers not in oak casks.

In this industry there are many dirty little secrets. My favorite was when I found about how bad French wine can be ‘fixed’ through the judicious manipulation of paperwork.

Here is a little story to explain how this magic can occur ...

Suppose a French wine producer and has a bad year. The wine produced is suitable only for conversion to vinegar or industrial alcohol.

That same year, a Spanish producer creates a great wine. Alas, the value of even a good Spanish wine in the marketplace is nearly always less than that of a mediocre French wine.

A bright and unscrupulous wine broker now has an opportunity. Purchase the bad French wine and good Spanish wine for a song – shipping them both to Malta. That is where the real magic takes place.

Both shipping containers of wine arrive in the same port and there is a paperwork ‘mix-up’ and Presto – Chango. Now we have a container of a great “French” wine and a container of inferior Spanish wine.

According to the French – all is now right in the world. After all, great wine only comes from France!

I learned a great deal at that job. Not the least of which was that the French wine industry is filled with men who refused to deal with an American woman (even though I was trying to make them money). After that I personally refused to drink French wine even before their recent idiocy in terms of Iraq.

Not drinking French wine has not been a loss – Australian wine more than makes up for it. In particular, the best bottle of wine I ever had was an Australian Penfolds Shiraz. As an added bonus – the Australians in the wine industry that I dealt with were unfailingly pleasant and great people.

If you haven’t tried an Australian wine yet – give one a try, they are almost always wonderful!

Thursday, July 17, 2003

As if I needed another reason...

I have found the final reason to never get my tongue pierced.

It might get struck by lightening!

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Choices, choices

Sgt. Stryker asked a simple question.... Who would you deploy with? Go check out the illistrations before you make a choice.

I have to admit that when I looked into joining the military I figured it would be Air Force (after all the C.A.P. had already started to brainwash me).

Now looking at the choices that Stryker gives - it looks like I would have liked the Navy a bit more!
How you can save a (canine) life

Upon occasion I help out a friend who is really active I an organization called R.E.G.A.P – Retired Greyhounds As Pets. They are a great rescue group that saves greyhound racing dogs that are usually destined for the ‘kill-truck’ after their racing career ends.

My friend can usually convince me to help her out by looking at me and saying ‘I understand if you can’t help, we will just have to leave a few dogs on the ‘kill truck’.’.

Really – with pressure like that how can I say no.

In the cause of getting more dogs off the ‘kill truck’ – let me recommend getting a greyhound as a pet. If you are looking for a really nice, laid back, not hyper dog – a retired greyhound is a great choice.

To that end I will be spending the rest of night helping out the greyhounds. Due to that my next big blog entry will likely not be until tomorrow.

Because I feel so very guilty about my lack of serious blogging I leave the topic of my next entry to my readers. Please feel free to vote on the comments as to what the next entry will be about – volunteerism or wine?

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

No Suprise

The Lirertarians!
Libertarian, You support liberty and civil rights
above everything!

Want to know what political party you really are?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Jay for the link.

Monday, July 14, 2003


I am so very happy that Grayden’s wife Sarah has at last gotten her ‘green card’ and come home to America!

I give Sarah a lot of credit. She has been living on her own for a year and a half while waiting patiently for the INS to process her paperwork. Then in the course of two weeks she had her final immigration interview, closed on their house in the UK, packed all of her possessions, and moved to a foreign country where she knows very few people. I don’t know if I could do all that!

Now we just have to make where they are staying livable so that she will want to stay! Then our next step is to get her to start blogging...
Oh No!

The dog days of summer just got furrier... Day by Day is taking 30 days off for medical leave.

I really hope that Chris Muir is healthy soon. Selfishly, because I can't imagine being without Day by Day for more than 30 days!

Friday, July 11, 2003

Hoist by their own petard

The BBC reports Strikes weaken French economy. Who could not see this one coming long ago?
Analysts said French companies' performance had stalled amid weak global growth, with mass strikes last month in protest against government proposals for pension reform putting businesses under further pressure.

Between the strikes, the antagonistic attitude towards America (leading to a fall in both tourism and exports) and the general crappyness of the French leadership … It is a wonder that France is not yet in full blown recession.

I actually do not want France to completely fail economically. After all, there are some nice people there. That said, I would not mind seeing things get really, really bad for those who think that the French status quo is a good thing.

Here is hoping that the French status quo will break down soon!

Thursday, July 10, 2003

The BBC disappoints again

I don’t know why I read the BBC website daily. I like to think that it gives me a different perspective on the events of the day and helps me have a more rounded worldview. The actual result is that I end up livid at some article or another that I am reading.

Today I was excited to see an article linked from the front-page with the squib “Seeking freedom – Iran’s younger generation is impatient for change”. I quickly skipped to read the article entitled Iran’s frustrated generation.

For some reason I expected actual coverage of the students rising up against the theocracy that controls their lives. No such luck.

The only reference to the struggle for freedom is this
Mrs Badiyi says the recent student unrest was a manifestation of this sense of discontent that officials have failed to address.
I am sorry but this makes it sound like the student democracy movement is akin 9 year olds breaking windows because they are bored at the end of summer vacation. I just don’t see things that way.

A real wake up moment for me was this morning when I read Andrew Sullivan’s blog. His entry The Dorms includes pictures that are horrifying. Take the time to look at them and understand just how brave these students demonstrating for democracy are.

Viewing the pictures I realized two very important things…

One, I am DAMN lucky to have been born in America. I would like to think that I would be strong enough to fight for my freedoms but I never have to know.

Two, it is shameful that I do not know more about the student struggle for democracy in Iran. Some of that shame is my own, because I have not made the effort to go out and find the information. More of the shame lies at the feet of the media companies who have not made the effort to report this. I just can not understand why there are reams of coverage on the surgery and death of the conjoined twins and virtually nothing about a life and death struggle for freedom.

This BBC article is a perfect example. Why is there no coverage of the abduction of student leaders yesterday? That would have been an ideal topic for an article today.

Instead, we are treated to an interview with a young woman that does not go beyond the surface. In fact, it reads like a fashion commentary
She sports the latest Tehran fashion - bleached blonde long hair sticking out of her see-through headscarf, and tight drainpipe jeans with the skimpiest of short overcoats that does little to hide her figure.
What excellent reporting, an insightful probe into the mind of a young Iranian. /sarcasm

Next up is a long interview with an older woman who seems to think that just because women are allowed to work they should be thankful for the freedoms they have.
"It was an awful and closed society," says Surreya, explaining that the first years of the revolution saw debate as to whether women could even work. … "When you compare the young people now with us they have all this freedom and they're so ungrateful and don't appreciate what they've got,"
Sorry, I just can’t get behind this thought process.

However, I think that it is a common thread in any struggle for freedom. A first generation believes that they ahve acomplished everything needed - but in reality all they ahve done is whet the appetite for the next generation of activists.

In my readings on the civil rights movement here in America I remember that some older activists thought that the younger leaders such as Rev. King were asking for too much. Those older leaders were wrong, just as the older Iranian woman in this article is wrong. Instead the early civil rights leaders should have been happy to pass the torch to the younger men and women who would take the fight for freedom to the next level.

That is what needs to happen in Iran… The older Iranians who have worked to make life easier than it was immediately after the revolution need to understand that it was their good works that laid the foundation for what is happening now. The student democracy movement is the natural outgrowth of humanities desire for freedom.

I only hope that the BBC and other large media organizations will soon see the error of their ways. Soon enough the tide of demographics will push Iran into the 21st century and I would hope that it would not shock the world as it did in 1979 when Iran went back to the 14th century.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Blogging for Iran

Today I intended to write about the struggle of students in Iran to achieve freedom from the theocrats in control their nation.

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about Iran or it’s people. I know where it is located on a map, and some basic facts about the history of Iran - but nothing in depth.

I think this is because after the fall of the Shah and the rise of Ayatollahs we here in America seemed to just pretend Iran didn’t exist. Never in any history class was Iran mentioned, rarely is Iran covered in our media (even when it should be) and because of the embargo there were no person-to-person exchanges (student, business).

The only Iranian who I have dealt with in any great amount refused to say that he was Iranian – he was ‘Persian’. I tried to press him on the issue because I knew for a fact that he was born in Tehran in the mid-70s. He said that he was unwilling to be identified with the Ayatollahs who controlled his home and therefore refused to say he was from Iran.

I wish I were still in contact with that friend. I would hope that he would be as hopeful about the future of Iran as I am. That hope comes from the wonderful movement of students who understand that their future is in freedom and democracy. It is amazing to me that these young people have lived their whole lives under the control of the oppressive Iranian government. Even though they spent their youth hearing that America is the ‘Great Satan’ they still know that their future is Democracy.

If you want to learn more about Iran and the student movement for freedom check out the great links at today’s Carnival of the Liberties at Winds of Change. I plan on remedying my lack of knowledge about Iran through these great links.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

A bad sign for the Sydney Morning Herald

Tim Blair relays an interesting little tidbit
Incidentally, the free speech advocates at the Sydney Morning Herald who are so furious at the Ken Park ban might ask their management why this site is blocked at their workplace. Do I have to show up at Balmain Town Hall and read to the poor journalists?
It strikes me that blocking Tim’s site is a symptom of some seriously dysfunctional management at the Sydney Morning Herald. After all, I can read both the SMH and Tim Blair here in the American Midwest and I don’t even have a solid understanding of domestic Australian politics.

This sparked a memory for me of my misbegotten youth working at dot-coms (what can I say – I am gen X). In my experience sites being blocked it is a symptom of fear by the people in power. It never failed that before a company would release bad information the network would be blocked against sites such as FuckedCompany. This actually served as an excellent canary in our digital coalmine. At a friends company they always knew when layoffs were coming because access to job search sites was blocked. Evidently the company had a bit of a dog in manger attitude – they wanted to lay people off but not have anyone get a different job.

I never understood this – does the management think that the internet was only accessible from our desks? In many ways their blocking a site made it forbidden fruit – twice as sweet. The end result was that the employees knew a blocked site meant that the management was afraid of it – and it must be a must read for any employee. I hope that the employees of the SMH learn that lesson and start to read Tim Blair regularly from home. They might start to realize that their management has been blocking Tim out of fear – because he is right!
Happy Birthday!

A big Happy Birthday to Jen of The Greatest Jeneration.

Hers was one of the first blogs that I started to read daily more than a year ago.

Jen was definitely one of the first bloggers that I sent e-mail to. She was kind in her replies and encouraged me to start a blog of my own. In no small part because of her encouragement Geographica is here today!

So go on over and check out The Greatest Jeneration!

Friday, July 04, 2003


I am in LOVE with Bill Whittle’s mind. Go now and read his entire piece ‘Trinity’ you will be a better person for it.

One section spoke to me in particular. Considering my present employment/financial situation I loved this
But even during the many times I’ve been out of work, flat broke, worried sick and living off the kindness of my life-saving friends – you guys know who you are – even then, when I was practically throwing up from fear, even then – I have never, ever considered myself a poor person. I have always thought of myself as a rich person experiencing severe cash flow problems.


That is a distinctly American attitude. Optimism. Hope. Ambition. You break these chains in your head first – everything else will follow.
This explains exactly how I feel right now. Whatever my preset financial difficulties they are temporary – I will overcome them because I have the freedom and opportunity to do so.

Go read Trinity – Bill is a genius.
Freedom has never been free

Like many people I have received the following piece by e-mail a few times. I have to admit that it is the only e-mail forward that has the ability to make me choke up with pride for the great men who took the chance to make our great nation. I hope that you enjoy this as well.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later, he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.
Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more.

Standing talk straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!
Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July Holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.
Today there are brave men and women in uniform far from home who are today continuing the proud tradition of defending the freedoms wond by the great patriots of the revolution.

To every man and woman who is now or has ever made the sacrifices necessary to be in the military... Thank YOU!

Thursday, July 03, 2003

There is a disturbance in the force…

The force of the blogosphere.

Jay Solo wrote yesterday that he was ‘out of words' and feeling completely uninspired. As I go down my blogroll on the left I see that he is not alone. Many bloggers have slowed down in the last week.

My blog is also a victim of the lazy days of summer. I do sometimes think of a topic to write about, unfortunately I am usually driving at that time – far away from a computer. By the time I have left the car and made it through the heat if the day into my house, turned on the AC (I live in the dark ages - window unit only) and turned on the computer any decent ideas have been baked right out of my brain.

Add to that the fact that Instapundit has been on vacation and the blogosphere seems to have been moving through molasses. Usually I am inspired to write something by a link on Instapundit without those map created by those links I feel like I am lost in the blogosphere. Lileks has said it best (of course)
He’s due back today, and none too soon. Without Prof. Reynolds, the blogosphere would fracture and devolve; he’s the hinge, the glue, the triage nurse, the AM radio traffic reporter, the hotel concierge, the guy who knows this guy who knows a guy. No news organization could reproduce the Instapundit. No major media conglomerate will ever have the same flavor of one guy who’s doing it for kicks. I won’t say he’s the internet equivalent of the station you turn to when the tornado sirens hit. But when you want to read what people are saying about the storm, he’ll find the ones you need to read first. Welcome back.
I for one can’t wait to welcome Instapundit back!

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Wish me luck II

A couple of weeks ago I asked readers for lucky thoughts before my first interview for my dream job.

I did really well on that interview and have a second interview with the hiring manager for the position tomorrow.

I cannot emphasize enough how phenomenally perfect I am for this job. As an added bonus the job is a perfect fit for me! After all how often does a job that involves geography less than 10 miles away from my home open up?

Once more I am not above asking for positive vibes/prayers from everyone in the blogosphere. As an added bonus when I get a job one of my very first actions will be to transfer this blog to MT like a grown up.

Wish me luck!
Funny 404

My friend Toddadam over at Short Attention Span Theater sent readers on a treasure hunt for one of the best 404 error pages ever.

If you search Google for “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and hit the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button you come up with this great 404-error page.

A bit of snooping and I found that the same writer also created a great New York Times 404-error page.

I wish I were that witty.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Happy Canada Day!

Happy 136th birthday Canada!

I know that we have had our differences in the past but… no matter what happens you will always be our ‘neighbor to the north’ and we in America are always happy to have such a safe, stable Democracy along our border.

Thanks for 136 years of stability and friendship. Here is hoping that we can share 136 more years in peace.

Happy Canada Day!
Bless me blogosphere for I have sinned…

It has been five days since my last entry.

I have no real defense only excuses. It is summer after all and my outside time puts a severe crimp on my computer time. Additionally, I spent the last week house sitting for a family member. I was sucked in by the daily arrival of the New York Times. Reading it daily I can understand why I never liked the Times.

Regardless of the merits of the individual paper – print is dead. I found reading the paper to be an oddly disjointed experience.

I am so very accustomed to reading most of my news online that I was actually frustrated because with the inability to find out what other news sources were saying about the same topic with the click of a mouse. I literally thought ‘I need to google this’ as I was reading a couple of articles.

All in all I am no longer very disappointed that the NYT cannot be delivered to my home.