Friday

Gossip/Speculation-Top Ten Pop Culture Stories of the 2004

A Little Gossip and Speculation is Worth Some Time for Rumination


Geragos Nonsense

Mark Geragos is the spotlight grabbing attorney who represented Susan McDougal in the Whitewater investigation. Yon reader might recall Geragos would doll up McDougal, who refused to testify against the great Bill Clinton for God only knows what compensation, in a bright orange jumpsuit and leg irons. No, the government prosecutors didn’t dress that woman like that. It was all a Geragos publicity ploy, designed to make us see the horror of this young woman shackled and manacled, poor baby.

Geragos is also the fine lawyer who got Ashley Judd jail time for a shoplifting conviction even though it was her first offense. Yon readers might also recall that Geragos was involved in the Michael Jackson defense until he was fired.

Perhaps most damning of all, Geragos wasn’t even in the court room the day the Scott Peterson verdict was announced, this fine attorney having other obligations that precluded his presence in this most important day of any trial. Methinks he knew his precious client was going to the gallows and didn’t want his face on the TV screen when the guilty announcement came down.

But that’s just me.

Now the man has a web site soliciting contributions for the defense of his fine and noble client, Scott Peterson, who was “unjustly convicted” for the murder of his wife and their unborn child.

I can’t wait to send in my dollars.
From SFGATE.com

Insisting that his client "has been unjustly convicted," the Los Angeles attorney who defended Scott Peterson is using the Internet to solicit donations to continue the investigation into the murders of Laci Peterson and her unborn son.

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Asked and Guessed. Blind Item Fun

ITEM: What Oscar-winner better order a lab test now that she has that new boyfriend?Others who've dated him say his money isn't worth the risk of getting his STD...

GUESS:Kidman & Bing

…from yon editress-this Bing fellow is the father of actress Liz Hurly’s baby and it took a blood test to prove it.

ITEM: WHICH actress is brow-beating the cast and crew as if she were still above the title? She could use a good part on the big screen, but everyone in Hollywood remembers how badly she treats underlings so now she's settled for appearing in a TV reality show . . .

GUESS: What about Farrah Fawcett? I've recently heard she's taping a reality show about herself.
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You May Disagree…

Found this listing on a celebrity gossip newsgroup and thought it interesting. Forthwith:

The Top 10 Entertainment Stories of 2004

Scripps Howard News Service

1. A flash of Janet Jackson's breast during the Super Bowl halftime show got
the Federal Communications Commission all hot and bothered, but had a
chilling effect on broadcasters. The fear of FCC fines for "indecency"
caused radio stations and the networks to grow cautious, and prevented many
ABC stations from airing the World War II movie "Saving Private Ryan" uncut
because of profanity.

2. Domestic diva Martha Stewart began decorating the pokey, serving a
five-month sentence in a federal prison for obstructing an investigation
into possible insider trading. But Stewart has already found a television
halfway home pending her release, with plans for a new syndicated show
produced by "Survivor" and "Apprentice" guru Mark Burnett.

3. It's anchors away, as both NBC's Tom Brokaw and CBS' Dan Rather announced
their retirements after more than 20 years each on the nightly news.

4. Three influential and long-running sitcoms - "Friends," "Frasier," and
"Sex in the City" - came to an end, prompting retrospectives, viewing
parties and speculation about the end of the genre.

5. Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and Morgan Spurlock's "Super Size Me"
proved that documentaries can find success at the box office while also
helping to shape the national debate.

6. Mel Gibson had trouble finding a studio for "The Passion of the Christ,"
a film completely in Aramaic that featured grueling torture scenes detailing
the last hours of Jesus. But he had the last laugh as the film became an
unlikely phenomenon, tapping into an unexpectedly mainstream market for a
fundamentally Christian film.

7. Crunk, the form of hip-hop made by Georgia-based rappers, dominated the
music charts. Usher's "Confessions" was the year's top-selling album at 7.1
million copies, almost double the runner up, driven by the success of the
ubiquitous "Yeah." That ode to dance floor lust, featuring Ludicrous and Lil
Jon, was inescapable on the radio, in clubs, on music video stations and
even from cell phone ring tones.

8. The success of Dreamwork's "Shrek 2" and Pixar's "The Incredibles"
continued a string of computer-animated hits aimed at both children and
adults.

9. Ken Jennings became a household name, winning a record 74 consecutive
games of "Jeopardy," earning $2.5 million, also a record.

10. "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" won 11 Oscars, including best
picture. Currently, there are no plans for "Lord of the Rings 2: Return of
the Return of the King."
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POP CULTURE STORY OF THE WEEK!

From Jesse Jackson

Gotta love this guy, who I’ve reduced to pop culture status so silly and irrelevant he has become. Now Bush is guilty of casting the Christ child from his home with his economic policies!

Jesse Jackson: Bush Would Have Left Jesus Homeless

President Bush has implemented economic policies that resemble those of the Roman Empire, which forced the baby Jesus into homelessness on the night of his birth, former civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said in a pre-Christmas rant late Thursday.

"In the last [Bush] budget, we cut housing again, and that was Jesus' dilemma. In Bethlehem, his family ended up homeless," Jackson told MSNBC's Campbell Brown.

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A Little New Year's Eve Fiction: To Hell and Back

A Little Fiction and Fun

Fiction doesn't do all that well on this site but I'm sticking to my guns. Besides, out there somewhere there might be a student of the scribe. And since I do teach a writing class, well below is a short story I wrote that employs one of the most difficult things a writer can do. Which is, specifically, to describe a smell in prose.

Okay, besides the would-be writing lesson, the story is appropriate because it's a New Year's story and if I do say so myself, quite clever.

For Hell might be very different than you'd expect
.
To Hell and Back


I'm not a writer. I'm an executive. But the time has come for me to sit down and write this story because no one believes the telling. Not that I tell the story to just anyone, mind you, because it's just too strange and would most likely get me committed than have me received as purveyor of wisdom now mine. My therapist says the thing was just a dream, but I know better. Because I have in my possession an object that came directly from Hell and there is no mistake in this.

At any rate, I will just take the chance and tell the story because it is true and I would be remiss to not pass the warnings I received from my little visit to Hell.

So how did I happen to end up in Hell, one might ask? I must respond that it was a result of a concerted effort on my part. It happened at the turn of the century, New Year's Eve, 1999. My neighbor Art is the one that told me all about it.

"Jay, I swear on my life, I'm telling the truth," Art swore to me on that hot and sunny July day. "During the turn of a century, you can really visit Heaven. My Aunt Betty went there at the turn of the nineteenth century. Before she died, she told me all about it...and get this," Art elbowed my chest in preparation for the coming revelation. I just chugged another sip of beer. Art was amusing, in the right place and at the right time, but in larger doses than this occasional shared beer at our neighborhood tavern, he can wear thin.

"About a week before she died....I guess I was about fourteen...she called me into her room. She took down this dusty box and told me it was her souvenir from Heaven." Art paused just now to take a beer sip of his own, and I smiled in anticipation of the description of the souvenir from Heaven.

"Guess what it was?" Art said after a sip, then continued with no hesitation for my guess. "It was dried angel wings."

Art stopped speech and took an especially long sip of beer. Well, I just had to take one too with this interesting revelation.

"You know how I know it was true? That they was dried angel wings, I mean?"

Indeed I did not know why Art knew it was true, but what the hell, I had another hour to kill before my wife got home to complain about the unmown lawn.

"The smell, Jay. The smell was like nothing I have ever smelled before on this earth. I know you think this is crazy, but the second that smell hit my nose I knew that what was in that box was something real special. Something that had not come from anywhere on earth. It was like...." with this Art stopped and arced his head all about to survey the tavern world. His eyes were rolling all about as if seeking words that didn't exist. I stopped in mid-beer-sip. This was most unusual for Art, to be lost, indeed, enthralled, in thought. While Art was a nice enough guy, he wasn't in the top ten in his class if you get the drift.

"It was like what clouds would smell like," Art finally found some words. Words that did, in fact, cause me to re-assess my Art neighbor. If you had told me yesterday that Art would use clouds to describe a celestial odor, I would have laughed and told you to go home. Then again, I also had to consider the concept of what clouds must smell like. The new literary Art at my right proceeded to attempt just such a description.

"Like...lilacs...multiplied by a thousand. Then combined with Poison perfume...just a little. Then add in the waft of about a thousand Spirea bushes in full bloom. You know how it is when the bushes bloom? Like the smell isn't always there, but a breeze will sometimes pick up the odor and carry it past your nose?"

By now I was holding my beer by it's stein handle, elbow resting upon the bar, head turned to face Art, and mouth hanging open. This description was so unlike my neighbor, who gazed upon my pansies one glorious Spring and responded to my exhortations of praise with a simple, "Oh, them things." But Art was not done.

"It was like all these aromas hit my nose, engulfing...just beautiful...taking me away even for a minute." Art then stopped to take a sip of beer, his brow still furrowed in thought. I admit to not even moving my beer stein, so amazed was I by Art's description.

"Anyway," Art said, thumping his glass beer stein down on the bar, "my Aunt then closed the lid of the box, which had some feathers in it, and the smell went away, just like that. Man, I ain't never forgot that."

I then asked Art where was the box of "dried angel wing" now...maybe he could let me smell for myself.

Art snapped his fingers and said he thought he knew where it was. He told me he was going to check it out, and if he is right, then he would give me a call...let me come over to take a whiff. Then I would believe, Art said.

That evening Art did give me a call. He was real excited, said he had found the box, but that he wouldn't open it until I came over. Since my wife was in a royal snit over the unmown lawn, even Art would prove better company. I headed over to his house.

"I can't believe that for all these years I never thought to check that old chest my Aunt Betty had. She used to call it her "hopeless chest", Art narrated, as he led me up the pull down stairs to his dusty attic. After we hoisted our middle-aged bodies up to the tiny roof cubbyhole, Art grabbed a small box that looked for all the world like a box in which a new wallet had once been packaged.

He held the box in his hand and gave me a warning. "Jay, be prepared, because if the aroma is like I remember, ...well...just smell for yourself."

The odor of a thousand Spireas, in full bloom, wafted in air rivulets past my nose. Before I could grasp this, I felt as if I were in a pillow of lilacs, not stifled but surrounded by the flower as if blooming in the early Spring sunshine. A tickle of blooming Paperwhite odor teased, then...the heady smell of Poison perfume? I thought that this might be how clouds smell...but no. As the spirea aroma tickled my nose, I knew that this must be how Heaven smells.

Art put the lid back on the dried angel wings and we clambered down the rickety stairs. There was no need for further proof. I was the Controller of a small manufacturer in the little town of Elkridge, Maryland, and not given to flights of fancy. But I believed there was something very special in that box and I wanted Art to tell me just how he got it.

"I told you, I didn't get it. My Aunt Betty said she got it from heaven. She told me that on New Year's Eve, at the change of the century, you can visit Heaven. What she said you do is...precisely at the strike of midnight....you hold a rosary and ask the Virgin Mary to let you visit her in Heaven. You say three Hail Marys...then...well Aunt Betty said she was in Heaven. She told me all about Heaven, Jay, but you know, I was fourteen and she was an old lady. It wasn't until she opened the box that I started to believe. By then I wished I had listened to her story because...well you know.....that smell! She got sick soon after and died a week later...so I dunno just what she saw in Heaven. But, hey, that's it...three Hail Marys. This year, Jay...the change of the century. I'm going to try it. Aunt Betty said her grandmother went to Heaven when the 1700's changed into the 1800's."

I listened with half an ear to Art's harangue. I was a Presbyterian, and we didn't say Hail Marys..but heck, I would learn it. I'd scout down a rosary too. It was six months to the year 2000, so I figured I had time. What the heck, I thought, there WAS something unusual about that box and the smells. I don't think the odors were something Art could have concocted. Chemistry wasn't a required subject in vocational school.



Only when I said the three Hail Marys at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, I didn't exactly end up in Heaven. I ended up in Hell.

I had read plenty of descriptions of Hell in my lifetime that included lots of fire and glowing embers. Hell is nothing like that. In fact, Hell resembles a little coffee house, like the kind in the "Friends" situation comedy. There were couches all about, with all sorts of people sitting and doing all kinds of activity.

I admit that initially I thought it was Heaven. I wasn't real pleased with the place when I thought it was Heaven but when I found out it was Hell I thought it was a bit of all right. For Hell, I mean.

I was greeted by a very obese woman with a very dark mustache.

"We have heard your Hail Marys and it is the turn of the century. We don't get any living souls down here except at the century change. There are a few other visitors here that learned the secret of the rosary and Hail Marys. Your friend Art is right now visiting up in Heaven."

I then asked this lovely lass that if Art is in Heaven, just what was this.

"This is Hell. Come on, let me show you around."

It must be stressed here that the discovery that I was in Hell had me momentarily nonplused and full of questions; the prime one being just why was Art up in Heaven while I was down here in Hell. There was no time, of course, because my mustached female guide was giving me a grand tour.

"This is Wanda," the chubby guide said, and pointed to a small lady then sitting on an overstuffed couch and tatting a doily. Wanda looked to be quite content, with her needles and string to occupy her. She looked quite obsessed with her task, I noted, and didn't seem to be in any sort of fiery state.

So I asked my guide just why this was Hell if you could sit on overstuffed couches and tat.

"Wanda hates sewing of any kind. She always did...in her mortal life. Now she gets to spend the rest of eternity knitting, crocheting, tatting, darning and sewing buttons. This is Hell! You don't get to do what you want you know."

We walked on past the tatting Wanda who was bent over her doily in furious concentration.

"This is Ted Bundy. I'm sure you must remember him."

Indeed I remembered Ted Bundy, the serial killer who I surely thought would be in the middle of some serious flames. Instead, he too sat on an overstuffed sofa and....well, it looked to me as if he was watching television.

"Ted hated television. Now, he gets to watch it all the time. And he is only allowed situation comedies, which he especially hates."
I was beginning to see a pattern here, but was full of questions. I mean Ted Bundy in Hell watching endless "I Love Lucy" re-runs was not the punishment I thought he deserved. Of course, I ran some of these thoughts past my guide.

"Hell is pretty much like we learned when we were alive. Forget the flames though. Burning forever...that's not Hell's style. Hell is about eternity...forever and ever and ever. With a consignment guaranteed to make every second of every day miserable. "

I asked my guide just who metes out this punishment and while we're at it, just what was her punishment. This guide thing seemed to be a cushy job.

"Punishments are meted out by all of us. The punishment is not meant to be physical...again, forget the flames...Hell isn't about physical pain. Too many of our members caused enough physical pain in their mortal lives. Hell is about misery...just misery after misery...mental anguish that will never be assuaged. I suppose you thought the punishments would be more original?"

Yes, I had thought that. Just then we passed a teenaged boy who was reading a book. I figured he was one who didn't like reading in a life before he ended up here in Hell. Still, to spend eternity reading a book?

As we walked on, I heard a loud growl coming from my guide's stomach. It was the dangest hunger pang I had ever heard.

"Yeah, I'm hungry. Yet I am never allowed to eat. None of us eat really..here in Hell. Except some of the Bulimics maybe. My punishment is to spend my eternity hungry, never to eat, never to stop the hunger pains...and worst of all....never ever to get thin even though I eat nothing."

She said this with resignation. This was weird, no doubt about it. I knew I had to be dreaming this.

Besides the people sitting around on the couches, there were large rooms full of people. There were parties even. As I was beginning to understand the concept here, the parties attendees, I could see, were those that once hated parties. A football stadium was filled with a crowd of women, all watching the game and hating every minute of it. Just this strange kind of atmosphere going on right here in Hell.

It was strange, this Hell place full of people forced to spend eternity doing what they once hated to do. And I wasn't at all sure the fire idea wasn't a better punishment. My guide explained it further.

"It isn't the punishments that matter, really, " she explained as she stroked her mustache. "The punishments, as I said earlier, are given by the inhabitants of Hell. We are, after all, evil people or we wouldn't be here. No...it's more just having to live, breathe and think...forever and ever...in this world where there is no life really...just...living on. All of us who end up in Hell find ourselves soon wishing fervently that there was no life after death, that we would have just rotted in our coffins after our rotten lives, as we originally planned."

I asked my guide what about Heaven, and also tentatively questioned just what I was doing in Hell when my original plan was to ascend to Heaven.

"The concept behind the New Year's Eve of the century change is that the person who knows about the Hail Marys will go to the place more appropriate with their lifestyle at the moment. I don't know much about you, but "Someone" has determined that you are following a direct route to Hell."

You could have knocked me over with an angel feather. What on earth had I done to deserve to end up here in Hell? Not that I was any epitome of goodness but I felt rather strongly that I shouldn't be lumped in with the likes of Ted Bundy. Yes, there was that little affair I had with the dancer a few years ago during a weekend CPA convention. And I most regretted that little indiscretion although I never told my wife. I had, if I gave it any thought, acknowledged that a higher power than me most likely knew about the affair. But I regretted it and isn't that what it's all about, sorrow and a vow to do better? It seemed to me that there should be no inhabitants of Heaven if mistakes were not allowed.

"But would you?" I heard my guide ask, to my muteness. "Would you do it again, if opportunity knocked? Sure, you can make mistakes....I made plenty to include shooting my husband with his own hunting rifle. And you can vow to do better...sure. But they are only words. Best I can advise you is that there is a good and evil mindset. "Good" being defined as , well, I don't know...or I wouldn't be here in Hell, would I?"

Indeed, I thought, would I do it again? And you know, I couldn't absolutely say I wouldn't because that weekend of lust was a lot of fun and....well, given the right circumstances I might do it again. My wife didn't find out the first time, I might reason.

"That's just it," my guide continued, leading me into a strange room bathed in a red light that appeared more in keeping with my concept of Hell. "It's not about getting caught. It's about...well think about it. I am sure no expert."

We moved into the little room and I was most amazed. It was as if carved from a granite wall. Streams of water poured from the makeshift walls. Directly in the middle of the room was a large granite chair, unsoftened by any pillows.

"This is the room we have reserved for OJ Simpson. All of the inhabitants of Hell eagerly await Mr. Simpson. And scuttlebutt has it that there is lots of plans for OJ. I heard that Ron Goldman and Nicole were scheduled to pay OJ regular visits from Heaven while he sits in this chair in his lonely Hell."

Now I was even more surprised. First at the concept of "scuttlebutt" in Hell, and second that OJ Simpson would have his own room, although when you think about it.....

So what about Heaven, I asked my guide.

"We don't know anything about Heaven. No sense in asking me, cause I don't know. None of us do. It's just another part of our punishment...this not knowing."

I shrugged my shoulders. Fine, I thought, I would ask Art. Who, I was reminded, was supposed to be spending this century-change New Year's Eve in Heaven and I wondered why was this.

And I did ask Art. Who thought I was nuts, denied any visit to Heaven, and remembered nothing of any box with the heavenly smells.

Because New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 1999 did change into New Year's Day, 2000 and brought me back to my own mortal life.

It was a bittersweet revelation when Art denied any trip to the other life. Now I could toss the whole thing off as a dream. I could not, however, ignore my ponderings.

Art was a nice guy, IQ notwithstanding. I bet he never cheat on his wife, not that he was overwhelmed with opportunities. I looked down at my own pot-belly and ran my fingers through my thinning hair. Heck, it wasn't like I had a whole lot of opportunities either. The honest truth was that the dancer of my indiscretions was more interested in the fifty bucks I gave her after our day in bed than my own handsome self. There are always opportunities. My guide in Hell was right. It wasn't about getting caught, it was about...well... honesty and integrity and a whole bunch of other stuff they talk about in Heaven.

So I haven't been able to forget my little visit to Hell, although it's been five years and my Therapist says it was just a dream and to quit obsessing.

Only I can't. Because on any day of any year I can walk up the steps to my bedroom. I can open my dresser drawer, full of underwear, socks, and a little box that looks for all the world as if it once served as packaging for a new wallet. I can then open the box.

It is the smell of a thousand dead cows, rotting under a hot sun and providing food for the vultures. It is the odor of rotten eggs and dirty feet. It is the smell of death, rot and decay. Anytime I want, I can climb the steps, retrieve my box, and take a whiff of Hell.

Pic/ Week: An Underwhelmed Kaitlyn Visits Santa

Sometimes It Just Takes a Picture

I didn't necessarily want to make this the picture of the week but none better crossed my path.

Although she's the light of my life, here's Kaitlyn Mae, a most ordinary baby American, during her first visit to see Santa Claus. Below the very blase Kaitlyn is a picture of the winner of a contest to send in pics of children scared of Santa Claus.

I mean, is she underwhelmed or not?

An especially underwhelmed Kaitlyn Mae visits Santa for the first time. Posted by Hello


An overwhelmed Baby Posted by Hello

Thursday

Tsunami: Where Are the Americans?

12/30/04

It's in the News NOW and it requires comment immediately

Tsunami

It's been four days on this date in this year of our Lord 2004, since a tsunami hit Southeast Asia. For four days my mind has been boggled and the brain cells have desperately trying to absorb it all.

I did make mention of the tsunami on my normal Monday entry, The Week Just Passed. And then I hastily added it to the pre-written entry. It was so early into the event that at the time of my reportage, from the post indicated above, I quote myself "Over 6,000 dead from resulting Tsunamis."

Since then the death toll has increase exponentially on almost an hourly basis. I was, as difficult as it is to believe, speechless.

As expected, I have listened to the news and pundits. All substitutes as everyone in America is on vacation this week, even the President as the Washington Post rather nastily noted. Not that every damn senator and congressman isn't also on vacation but that fact alluded the WAPO.

Also, does the WAPO really think the American people are so stupid that we don't know that there's such things as cell phones, even picturephones, to keep the President of the United States in touch with the world?

I really have nothing to offer but my thoughts about it all. Thoughts hopefully presented from a rather typical American's perspective and not meant to make me sound stupid yet a few of them do.

For instance, I had no idea that Thailand even had a sea shore. I envision Thailand as a mysterious, religious sort of place buried deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia.

The next thought that overwhelms my already overwhelmed mind is the sheer waste of it all. In this era of technology and vast seismic recording institutes, email, the Internet and damn, I live only 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean my own self. To advertise a local bistro any idiot can rent an airplane with a banner trailing from its tail, touting happy hours from four to six.

From what I see, most of the places hit were areas on the sea shore, duh, as that is where tsunamis tend to occur. And as sea shores do, vacationers tend to congregate there. The underwater earthquake that caused the tsunamis was recorded hours in advance before the resulting killer waves hit the shores. Couldn't someone, somewhere, have rented one of those little airplanes and warned those happy people on holiday to head for the high ground?

No one figured out major undersea earthquakes cause tsunamis. Maybe some guy forced to cover on the day after Christmas could have sent out an email, maybe made a phone call?

Of course this is Monday morning quarterbacking and who knows, I did hear somebody sent out an email warning of a tsunami but hey, maybe it's just me, but an email just doesn't do it for a killer tsunami.

I live in a country with color-coded threat warnings should a terrorist cough. Although also I wonder if the United States of America has some sort of system in place in the event such a thing should ripple through the Atlantic. Being so close to the ocean I've spent many a happy sunny afternoon on the beaches of Maryland and from the videos of this recent tsunami that I've seen, the same sort of overwhelming wave could easily wash over Ocean City or Rehobeth Beach.

Further research and I discover that the Atlantic ocean is not as vulnerable to tsunamis as the much shallower Pacific. In fact, I don't recall in my recent readings any such thing as a tsunami to hit the east coast of the United States.

Those countries so much more vulnerable to tsunamis, shouldn't they have been a bit more on the ball about the things? Because as bad as the economic toll is going to be with the destruction, not to mention the loss of life so horrendous we're all still in shock, those once profitable European tourist spots are going to take years to recover the lost revenue.

I heard former President Bill Clinton though President Bush should have come out sooner and announced to the tsunami victims that he "felt their pain". I'm thinking the President might have been very busy dealing with phone calls from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, et al. No wait. Yeah, Clinton would have been right out there in the national spotlight the day after the tsunamis hit and as the death toll rose, announcing his plans and feeling their pain.

There's been criticism from the UN that the US didn't give enough though it's always big, loveable America that gives the most, all the time, that comes in to save the day, that WARNS ITS CITIZENS OF IMPENDING DANGER!!!!!

Okay, I feel better now getting this off my back.

I do heartily approve of Bush's plan to work with Austrailia, India and Japan to oversee rescue and recovery efforts. This is, you understand, a back slap of the hand to the UN. Yeah, the UN. Can't help Haiti, didn't help Ruwanda, stole every dime they could from the Iraq oil for food program. America should just hand them another pile of American bucks for Kofi and his son to deposit directly to their Swiss bank account.

I'll end this first missive of tsunami impressions with one question: WHERE ARE THE AMERICANS?

All week I am hearing that thousands of Americans are missing. Who?

There's been plenty of time for every relative of an American missing to contact the media. While there have been a few on the pundit shows, the only American I saw alleging to be missing a relative was someone with a cousin who actually lived in Thailand.

There was another model type and I've heard a few scuba diver types on Greta. But these were survivors!

I suspect there were not many Americans in any of the devastated spots . It was the day after Christmas, a time not normally spent in exotic Thai seaside pursuits by most Americans. If Americans even go there any other time of the year all that much.

It's possible I'm wrong about this but I predict when all is said and done there's few American deaths from the tsunamis.

Which means nothing except while I keep hearing about thousands of missing Americans I note the distinct lack of wailing relatives. Could be those countries want us to THINK there's thousand of Americans missing?

The Birds of Winter

They brighten our world with their songs and antics. Notes from the bird world and possibly, lessons for human granddaughters

Another Blast from the Past

In an earlier missive I posted an essay written during the time that the DC sniper reigned. Today I find an essay written about the same time concerning my fondness for my winter bird visitors. In reviewing the text I find I still feel the same way about the birds of winter.

Only at the current time I am visited by these birds fellows in Delaware instead of Merryland.

Forthwith:

01/02/2002


The Winter Birds

The first white-throat sparrow didn't appear for my viewing pleasure until nigh on the end of December. Then the weather has been unusually warm for this Merryland autumn. The handsome dark-eyed juncos made an appearance early and for this I must smile.

They comfort me, these fine bird fellows who visit and partake of my feeders only during the winter months. During the springs and summers I am entertained by the feathered fellows who claim their territories, build their nests and raise their young. Since this sort of activity is a mild-weathered one, it is the bird visitors of winter that keep me amused during the harsh chill.

The white-throat sparrows come when the weather is at its harshest. They heartily enjoy my mullet and sunflower seed scraps. These birds do not leave the area until well into May. By then I'm ready for them to leave as my own yardbirds are usually busy with nests and feeding young. Oddly, the white-throats tend to be a bit territorial even this eco-system in which they do not even deign to raise their young. The juncos leave in late February like the good guests they are.

It's during the winter months that many of my own year-round residents come to the feeders they eschew during the warmer days that would provide them more preferable food. Woodpeckers tend to visit the feeders more in the winter than the summer, especially if there are suet offerings.

The friendly white-breasted nuthatch also visits for feeder offerings during the colder months though he is also a year-round resident. This fellow will fly right in when I fill the feeders, not a shy one at all.

Of course the chickadees and titmouses partake of the seed during the entire year. Blue Jays scream their way in as well.

Wrens tend to "switch" at the end of autumn. The Carolina wren builds its nest and raises its young during the summers while the house wren takes over the territory during the colder seasons. The wren, and thank God for this, is the only bird that sings during the winter. Very often I step outside and see a wren sitting ostentatiously upon a fence post, singing a song while doing that happening wren dance of bobbing its head up and down while jumping around in one spot.

Huge flocks of black birds also visit the feeders during the winters and these are mostly not welcome. Still, if one observes carefully, there is often a few unusual gems within the flocks that cause a smile. I've seen errant grosbeaks and purple finches that somehow joined in with the flock after evidently being left behind during the migrations.

They bring me an avian smile, my winter birds, during those short and chill days before spring returns. I welcome them enthusiastically by my seed but my generosity is a selfish one.

For without them the winters would be bleaker and darker.

The winter birds bring me promise of the warm spring to soon come.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett Comments

Comments, Responses and Further Info.


A Smiling Comment

In response to my true Grandmother tale of her four years experience of living on a farm, Taking on the Farm, a Freeper writes:

LOL! Maybe hubby and I had better rethink our ideal of living on a farm with OUR three kids (cityfolk that we are). Thanks for the smile.

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Commentary from Both Sides on the Bobbie Jo Stinnett Case

Below, in bold, are some comments from my posting on the tragic murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett, the young woman who was strangled then had her unborn child ripped from her womb. My essay about her murderer, Lisa Montgomery, was published last week.

I responded to some of the comments/questions and my answer is in italics below the reader comments.

Death...quick trial, quick appeal that is denied, and then a big tall tree and a short rope.
=====
Unbelievably horrific crime. Something you shudder even talking about. Death.

==========
Even if she is insane there is no room in society for this freak. There is no rehabilitaion for her crime.
=========
One of the most shocking crimes I've read about, if only for it's cold calculation. Thank you for your account and thoughts. This was indeed well-written!
=========
Corrections and Brickbats Here

The following was a comment by a Blog reader. The text is correct. I misspelled Melvern, Ks as "Malvern, Ks.". Also, I did a Google search and again the reader is correct. There is no Daily News in Melvern, Ks. Indeed, as the reader asserts, there is NO daily newspaper in the town. My quote in the original article was froma MISSOURI newspaper. Apologies and thanks.

A couple of things, as I am on my way to Melvern for Christmas, where I grew up.

It's Melvern, not Malvern. Nor is there any such publication as the "Malvern Daily News Gazette", nor any other newspaper in Melvern. Ever.

=======
Below, from a rat terrier afficiandos group, a poster suggests that she too might have been in Lisa Montgomery's sights!

I was another person that I am convinced Lisa Montgomery had her eye on. I, too, am a rat terrier enthusiast - not a breeder, just a pet owner, but spent much time on the rat terrier boards among many, many people - including Lisa, Bobbi, Jason, Kayla - the list goes on and on. I got to know all of these people, including Lisa. In April 2004, I announced MY first pregnancy to my acquaintences on the boards. We (the group members) often talked on instant messengers. It was then that Lisa told me that she was pregnant and said "I got you beat!" - Meaning she was apparently due a week or two ahead of me. Soon after she let me know that she was knitting ME a baby blanket!! Now, let me say, I thought this was an extremely kind and gracious deed from someone I only knew from my computer screen - I thought it was a tad strange, but thought "Wow, there really are nice people out there......" BUT - now I know that she had her eye on me and was trying to get close to me. In June 2004, I very unfortunately miscarried what would have been our first child. I am convinced now that I was probably at least one of her "choices" if not her first - since we (supposedly) were due so close to one another. I believe she told me she was due on December 12th. So, this is something she had planned to a tee! I was devastated at losing our baby at 14 weeks to miscarriage, but my pain is nothing compared to the castastrophic pain that Zeb, Victoria, Kevin and Lisa's Children and families have endured. I do not believe that "everything happens for a reason" - but, I am so thankful that God kept me safe - I just regret that ANYONE else had to suffer this dispicible evil!

--------


Since I wrote this, which was only yesterday, some more info has come to light. Much of which verifies some of my own conclusions and speculation.
As for the baby's weight, I believe I heard that she was around 6 lbs but this is based on a vague sound byte, perhaps on Greta.

Here's a scoop on Lisa Montgomery. Her first husband, Carl Boman, was her STEPBROTHER! Not only that she divorced him once and married him again!

Also found out that Lisa had her tubes tied when she was married to Carl.

There is also, you can't make this up, some story circulating all about that Lisa was involved in some domestic type of spat involving a cousin and her mother. Seems she accused her cousin of attacking her an her sister with a knife. The boy was placed in a foster home. Right now this is very vague but I'm on top of it.

And it's true that Skidmore has a nefarious past. As for Bobby Jo being related to the guy murdered in the 80's, I haven't heard that. But I did hear there is a fellow in Skidmore related to Kevin Montgomery, Lisa's husband. This is still unclear.

I remain, true crime buff that I am, on top of it.


Wednesday

Blast from the Past: Remember the DC Sniper?

A Very True Reminisce of Grandmother's Life Told in Snippets and Smiles

Blast from the Past: Remember the DC Sniper?

It’s imperative upon me to explain a few things before yon reader continues on.

First, the essay below was written by me truly right during the height of the DC Sniper mania.

At the time, hand to God, I was manager of a shopping center in Prince Georges County Merryland. At the time I actually LIVED in Merryland!

During the read here’s hoping that the point of view presented brings perhaps a smile or a jarring memory of the event.

Which brings me to a final point. This is why I create this Blog for my Granddaughter. Because as you read below yon reader will experience that same feeling of deja-vu at this first person account of the event as it was actually occurring as a future Kaitlyn Mae will experience while reading of events of this era.

For instance, yon reader is going to love my preliminary conclusions about the identity of the sniper, not yet known at the time of the writing. I was as wrong about it as the DC cops! I was on the mark about Merryland’s Gubernatorial candidates, however. Read it and smile.

At the time of the writing, I was author of a daily email newsgroup called “The Daily Musings”. It’s a Yahoo group used now mostly to promote my Blog postings. Before that I had my own email list that I maintained by hand and also sent out daily musings.

I’ve got a whole slew of these retrospectives is what I’m saying here. Including my writings after 9/11, the 2000 elections, some pop culture missives, a bunch of good stuff. This is the first I present.

I’ve been Blogging all my life. Before Dan Rather, the activity didn’t have a name. I did call myself an “Internet Writer” for want of a better term. Well now weird ones like me have an official job title.

Forthwith:
===============

10/15/2002

Sniper Mania

Greetings from Sniper Alley, Merryland.

My much needed vacation from writing, work and all things domestic did not serve as well as I would have preferred to rejuvenate my mind, body and psyche. This is not because such as ignoring deadlines for the editors, meals for the husband and times to report to the job, hasn’t happened these past two weeks. It’s just that when Pat decides to mentally remove herself from it all in preparation for the coming elections and holidays, some crazed sniper decides to attack the region as I fill my gas tank while crouching behind the car.

It’s tense here, folks. Very tense. For while the odds of taking a bullet from this nut are decidedly slim, the notion of possibly taking a bullet in the head, no matter the odds, takes some of the joy out of life, if you get my drift.

Law Enforcement tells us to live our lives per normal so thus I begin this column anew. Let’s get this silly sniper news out of the way then continue on to such as politics, gardens, life musings and poking fun in general at all things liberal.

The sniper has been hitting in an area of Merryland that yon editress generally does not frequent. He's been hitting in Merryland’s Prince Georges and Montgomery county, counties some 35 to 40 miles to the north of Critter Cove. Yon editress does help to manage a shopping center solidly in sniper territory and on occasion does have to go on-site. Since the sniper attacks I’ve not had to be on-site but when time comes that job duties require, I think I’ll avoid that casual smoke on a bench or that cafĂ© latte on the terrace of Starbucks. My movements shall assume a zig-zag motion to avoid being target in nearby rifle scopes.

As for just who the sniper is, I think there’s a 75% chance he’s a lone white male nut type, former military or police officer, and a 25% chance he’s a lone terrorist of the mid-eastern type with a greater plan to terrorize the area to complete economic shut down. While all that I’ve read indicates that his targeting ability is not necessarily extraordinary, all the pundits and psycobabblists generally agree he is methodical and quite adept at escaping from the crowded areas he likes to target. Whoever he is, I believe he sets up at an ideal spot, ie a place where he can set up his rifle and wait for a handy target then calmly drive off during that hectic time when victims are ascertained, help obtained and cops finally notified. He’s got almost a 30 minute window of time to get out of there and in most cases 30 minutes is plenty of time to hop onto a nearby expressway and head off to non-detection.

Merryland is one of only two states in this country with required “bullet fingerprinting” yet don’t I see the anti-gun nuts shouting all over the air waves that more gun control is needed, as if this guy ever stood in a line and calmly filled in the reams of paperwork this state requires for any citizen to avail themselves of our second amendment rights to own a gun.

And I’ll tell you all something else. Merryland citizens right now aren’t all that interested in the blow-dried politicians telling us we must give up OUR guns while the sniper gets to keep HIS.

Yet doesn’t the lovely Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Merryland’s current Lieutenant Governor and would-be full-fledged Governor up and craft a campaign ad lambasting her opponent Earlich for voting against some ridiculous gun control law or other? The woman is taking advantage of our deaths for her own political purpose is what I’m saying here and moi predicts….NOT GONNA WORK. But hey, I can’t stand the woman at any rate and it’s rather fun to watch her dig her own grave.

Go on, walk up to any Merryland citizen, anybody, and suggest that it’s now time for more gun control laws in this state where one must already give up their firstborn for the honor. They’ll be no gentle nod of agreement, trust me. Merryland citizens are liberal fools but with bullets being aimed at them daily they’re not taking kindly that the politicians think their best protection is to further restrict THEIR access to a gun. Not many of us think the sniper followed Merryland’s restrictive gun control laws at any rate and see no reason to implement more laws that aren’t being followed anyway.

And here’s another factoid currently floating under the radar. Merryland has a death penalty but there’s been a moratorium put upon it by the very honest Governor Paris Glendenning for a study awarded to the University of Merryland that he may be a chancellor in his post-governorship years at that institution. In other words, if Merryland gets this guy, he will NOT be put to death. Let’s hope Virginia gets the guy.

Said Governor Paris Spendenning gets upon our TV screens, imploring the sniper to turn himself in and calling him a coward. Last week the diminutive lesbian Barbara Mikulski and the coifed Paul Sarbanes, Merryland’s senators who both voted AGAINST the Iraq resolution last week, showed up on our screens for face time and no other purpose.

They all make me sick. Even the rest of Merryland’s citizens have been decidedly underwhelmed by the politicians they suddenly realize they’ve elected and what losers they are.

Actually this is a possibly good thing. The citizens of this liberal hell suddenly realize the awful people representing them. They’re also seeing the next awful one coming down the pike, Mrs. Kennedy, Kennedy, Kennedy (why say her other names when THIS is the one she wants us to hear). Who could not resist, as I stated earlier, a campaign commercial to exhort for even more meaningless gun control laws.

They do nothing but primp even as Merryland citizens regard them warily. Makes one almost optimistic that the voting booths will speak. The voting booths, should the dead not vote in Baltimore as they do every year, will speak and the voting booths will say loud and clear….Merryland deserves better than this.
=======

Fish Giggles: New Meanings for Old Words

Everyone Needs a Laugh; Giggles that crossed Grandmother's path and worthy of note

Thanks to Joy’s Creativity Circle for This

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words. The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

********

Thanks to Doc for These Nuggets of Wisdom


Funny Quotes

1. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.

2. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.

3. I work hard because millions on welfare depend on me.

4. Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.

5. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

6. Don't take life too seriously; no one gets out alive.

7. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me.

8. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

9. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.

10. Quoting one is plagiarism; quoting many is research.

11. I'm not a complete idiot -- some parts are missing.

12. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.

13. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.

14. God must love stupid people; he made so many.

15. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

16. It IS as BAD as you think and they ARE out to get you.

17. Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.

18. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

19. MOP AND GLOW - Floor wax used by Three Mile Island cleanup crew.

20. Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it.

21. Wrinkled was not one of the things I wanted to be when I grew up.

22. Proscrastinate Now! (I do this well)

23. My dog can lick anyone!

24. I have a degree in liberal arts; do you want fries with that?

25. FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION. It comes bundled with the software.

26. A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

28. They call it PMS because Mad Cow Disease was already taken.

29. He who dies with the most toys is nonetheless dead.

30. A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS, but it uses up three thousand times the memory on your computer.

31. HAM AND EGGS -- A day's work for a chicken, a lifetime commitment for a pig.

32. The trouble with life is there's no background music.

Tuesday

To All Gardeners: Perusing the Garden Magazines

When the world is too loud and raucous, retire to the gardens of Grandmother's world

Garden Magazines and Flowers to Come

Indeed, the glossy magazine of my current fantasy, very late in this year of our Lord, 2004, is from Wayside Gardens. But my snail box is filled with many others, from Holland, from England, from the great growers of the United States.

They send out the handsome rotogravures deep in the mid of winter when cold and snow clouds our gardening common sense. For as my pupils widen with each turn of the page I determine that THIS, -whatever 'this' is that I currently regard, generally some beautiful plant in full bloom- is just what I need in my gardens to come soon should spring ever return.

For a hoot, I shall now peruse my un-culled choices for garden purchase. But I must begin with my methodology for choosing plants for order and how credit card debt forces me to be rational.

First time I go through a gardening catalogue I rip out half the pages. Said rip being my quick way of pulling out pages with those garden items for which I have an interest.

A week later, when the flooding pulse of garden dreams abates, I return to the torn pages and cull them down. I then wait another week when even more common sense returns and carefully select new additions to my gardens.

Used to be a time I didn't do this and when the plants arrived I was beside myself with where to plant them, what was I thinking and why did I ever think a giant evergreen would enhance my tall oak-tree studded lot.

At this unveiling of my garden choices, I am at stage two of my culling process. Which means there's a lot of torn pages filled with beautiful plants that should be in my garden and not in this picture book.

It becomes a bit of an intrigue what with a torn page full of plants that on the second perusal seem alien and unreal. Because the torn page is my only reference and I sometimes don't recall what specific plant allured me during the initial appraisal.

The page I now regard has a series of small trees and I suspect I was going after something called an "ACER-Japanese Maple".

I remember why I want it. Once upon a time I had the most delightful weeping crab apple tree. I bought it and planted it myself. It lived three years but only did okay on that shady, sloped lot I lived on in the state of Merryland. Now transplanted to Delaware, my gardens receive full and glorious sun all day.

My little weeping crab apple met a horrible fate. In that one day it was there and the next day, poof, it totally disappeared from the planet. Of course the huge earth moving machines all about that day to install a new septic tank on the lot might have had something to do with the tree's disappearance. Whatever and however, the thing was gone and no one I queried claimed to have ever seen the thing.

With my Delaware lot of full sun I want another weeping crab apple tree.

Except in all the gardening magazines to cross my snail mail, I've yet to see a miniature weeping crab apple for sale. I ponder that the bulldozers might well have wiped an entire species off the planet with their plundering monster machines.

This ACER Japanese Maple is a little tree that would work in that center garden plot in my sunny lot, the same spot I dreamed would hold my miniature weeping crab apple. It would seem I am compromising. If miniature weeping crab apple trees are now extinct then I must find a substitute. Or so I figure my logic was the day I tore out that page.

The ACER Japanese Maple is wadded and trashed. The culling has begun.

The second torn page, YES! It's a winner. Popping out as if a bulls-eye is a picture of a lovely stand of "Elijah Blue Fescue Grass". On my Merryland lot this plant grew nicely but I knew it wanted more sun. Here on my Delaware lot, the dreams I have of a well-behaved border plant to encircle my center lawn garden will soon come to fruition. For the Elijah Blue fescue grass will be perfect. Torn page set aside for a later elimination process.

Fescue Grass Posted by Hello


Another torn page and now I don't remember what intrigued me enough to tear it out. On one side are pictures of painted daisies, Autumn Joy, Butterfly blue scabiosa. The other side of the page features purple salvia or meadow sage. Also I see Lamb's Ears and Hollyhocks.

I have no idea. Except perhaps the painted daisies caused me to tear the page. They are beautiful, bright red flowers. And there is now SUN in my gardening life. Such a plant would never have bloomed in my Merryland shady lot. What with the Delaware sun blooming my roses, I suspect I felt a stand of painted daisies was my birthright.

Surely I didn't want the salvia. Not that this isn't a fine plant but my lot in Merryland DID grow this plant. I doubt it caused me to tear out the page in pre-order joy.

The painted daisies sell for around 3 small pots for $15.00. I recall last season I planted a stand of Shasta daisies. Crush. The page gets tossed. I'll wait and see how the shastas do before trying the painted.

Next torn page brings another winner!

Canna!

Canna Posted by Hello


Indeed. I love Canna, those huge red flowers that bloom in late summer. That old shady lot would never allow Canna to bloom.

The page makes the cut.

The next torn page features, well I don't recognize any of the plants on this page except the Hardy Boxwood. A bush I would never buy as it is entirely too boring for my sensibilities. The rest of the flowering bushes have Japanese names. Nothing rings a bell.

The other side of the page features something called a "Berberis 'Helmond Pillar'".

This rings a distant bell.

The bush is a very tall type of thing with a purple hued leaf. In the picture it looks stately and columnar and I pondered if it wasn't yet another consideration for my center lawn garden which desperately needs plantings with height. Which, I must remind, was reserved for the miniature weeping crab apple tree that I cannot find.

A quick wad and the page doesn't make the cut. As handsome as this bush is, it could never replace that weeping crab apple.

First thing I see before regarding both sides of the page is the page containing many pictures of lilacs. Goodness, did you know they now have yellow lilacs? Yellow? The word lilac connotes a color for God's sake. Whoever heard of yellow lilacs?

For sure I would never plant lilacs in my new gardens. Yes these are lovely bushes and indeed there is one bush on the new lot, way over in a corner. It's a small affair and planted directly under a tree I've yet to identify. Why on earth someone would plant a lilac under a tree is beyond me.

I had a gazillion lilacs on my shady Merryland lot. They drove me nuts. The bushes do not behave, spreading their thick roots everywhere, rooting everywhere, growing everywhere. Not that they bloomed or anything under all that oak shade. Which caused me to spend many frustrating afternoons hacking at errant roots and digging the things up. One bloomless lilac was quite enough as I saw it.

Nope, I didn't want the lilacs, let me flip the page.

Ah, I see another tall miniature tree/bush type of affair. The plant of my intrigue is called a "Salix 'Weeping Sally'" and as I recall it was another tall plant that I considered for replacement of the irreplaceable miniature weeping crab apple. The "branches" of this thing are adorned with what looks like pussy willows. It's cute but get this, it costs $59.95 each. No way I will pay that for a plant I'm not even sure of and have never grown before.

Another page hits the garbage.

Final page and I see the plant of my desire. For sure I have no interest in the many hardy geraniums on the other side of the page. Hardy geraniums being fine plants I am sure but I've never grown them before and for now, for my new gardens, I want to stick to the plants I've tried and tested. Later there will be time for experimentation.

Last year I filled the gardens with pretty annuals and they did a splendid job. Now I begin the pain-staking job of carving out a more permanent garden scape.

The plant I desire is called "Gaura 'Crimson Butterflies'". Indeed I had one of these plants in my Merryland scape and thought it was one of the prettiest plants to hit my admiring eyeball.

Crimson Butterflies Posted by Hello


In the garden catalogue picture this plant is featured in a container. In Merryland I had it in the ground but I always like to have options for container plants. I do have an impressive whiskey barrel garden here in Delaware, just as I had in Merryland. Container plantings can be wonderful affairs to brighten up a spot with no access to dirt.

For now I will plant the Crimson Butterflies directly in my center lawn garden. I suspect they will enjoy the increased sun on this lot. Then, depending on how they do, perhaps I will consider them as addition to the now empty whiskey barrels.

So that's it. Down to three desired plants: fescue grass, Crimson butterflies and canna.

Still no miniature weeping crab apple tree.

I shall keep looking.

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Notable Quotables: Canadians 1, Americans 0

It's Notable, Quotable, Ponderable and Worth the Thought

Canadians 1, Americans, Zero

I don’t especially like Canadians, especially since they became all liberal and anti-American. But the quote below, all explanation in the italics, is a hoot. As you shall see, the Americans lost this one.

The following transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation between a US Navy ship and Canadian authorities was taken from an incident off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. This radio conversation was released by the Chief of Naval Operations on 10/10/95.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the SOUTH to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again. divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH; THAT'S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE TAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP.

Canadians: This a lighthouse. Your call!

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Mark Twain on school boards

“In the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then he made school boards.”
- Mark Twain

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The Quote This Week That Says It All

Thanks to Chuck Muth of Muth’s Truths for the Groucho and Twain Quote

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies."


- Groucho Marx

Monday

The Week Passed: Feinstein, Earthquakes and I Tole You So's

The Week Just Passed: Notes of important events from the week prior as Grandmother has determined, not the Old Media. With, as expected, Grandmother’s input

California Senator Moves to Eliminate Electoral College

I must, as per normal when the congress critters get a notion to go changing things, often for the worst, quote my own wise self.

Below is an entry from this Blog in early December. There is a pic of the so-called “blue states” broken down by county and city. The view is a bit different when looked at this way.

Original post HERE.
=====================

Let's Take a Closer Look at "Blue" America, shall we? Posted by Hello


When the so-called "Blue States" are further regarded on a county and city basis, well things look a bit different I would argue.

We should thank our founding fathers for having the foresight to enact an electoral college. Because if they hadn't, all of America would be governed by the homeless and recipients of government handouts that populate our big cities and Indian reservations.
===================
We would also mention that, silly liberal Dianne, mine own state of Delaware, not to mention Connecticut, Rhode Island, et all, would NEVER approve such a thing. Concede their power to mighty California? Ain’t Gonna Happen.

It’s a waste of our taxpayer dollars.



From SFGATE.COM
Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Wednesday that when Congress returns in January, she will propose a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College and replace it with a one-person, one-vote system for electing the nation's president and vice president.

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I Tole You So Dept.

On 12/17/04 The Wise I wrote:

Get a load of this wording on this year’s Planned Parenthood corporate Christmas card. “Choice on Earth”. How clever is this wording that is brave enough to grace a card with season’s greetings for a newborn Babe that effectively urges the murder of future unborn babies?

In this same missive, I also asserted that this abortion mill strives to promote abortions that they may keep their jobs and federal funding.

Below, we get more details on this organization which does, on the surface, perform a public service of sorts. But which also has devolved into something more sinister with potential devastating results:

From Family.Org

Group performed about 250,000 abortions and made $35 million in 2004.

Abortions have increased, profits are up and federal dollars keep rolling in, according to the 2004 annual report of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The group performed almost a quarter million abortions last year and netted a profit of $35 million—despite closing some clinics—thanks to a lot of taxpayer funding.

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Most Under-Reported Story of the Week

Saudi Arabia PR Agents Under Scrutiny

The story here is not so much the investigation in Saudi Agents’ PR activities after the attack on 9/11. The story is that a little known law from 1938 is the basis of the investigation.

So far as The Wise I am concerned they should throw all these oily liars into the nearest boat and send them back to their despostic and un-democratic country.

However, I read with intrigue this Foreign Agents Registration Act and was amazed. I never knew such a law existed. More, when I think about it, such a law NEEDS to exist.

Methinks the politicians of 1938 had the greater good of the country in mind while the politicos of this era spend millions on campaign finance reform that would keep them elected and squelch my right to free speech.

From the NYSUN

Under a federal law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, American public relations agents for foreign countries must identify the source of funds for advertising or propaganda campaigns that convey political messages to an American audience. The agents are also required to register with the Justice Department and provide copies of materials they distribute in America.


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Major Earthquake Yesterday

In Indonesia, slamming in at an 8.9 on the Richter scale. Over 6,000 dead from resulting Tsunamis.

I do not have much more information as of this writing but I DO have a personal anecdote. About one week ago, in the middle of the night, I felt a tremor as if the earth was shaking.

Husband has done nothing but laugh at me all week about this for we live in the tiny state of Delaware, hardly situated on any sort of fault line.

While I might have been sleepy and mistaken about the earth jolt, the shaking toilet and sloshing waters were NOT my imagination. Yes the toilet off of my bedroom actually shook and the water in the bowl sloshed around in a manner of a liquid receptacle that was shaken. There was also gurgling and glug-glugs.

This was BEFORE even the recent Alaskan earthquake and now this big one in Indonesia. None of these places located, I understand, anywhere near Delaware.

But the earth does not shake and toilets do not glug glug (we have a septic tank that I assume also shook with the tremor, sending sewer waters back through the pipeline to my toilet) for NO reason.

So far as I know no one else has reported such a thing in Delaware so go on, maybe I’m nuts. I do know there was once an earth tremor in nearby Merryland when I lived there. So it’s not like such a thing is impossible.

Yet all this shifting earth activity of late causes me to think I am not nuts.

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TV this week: For the Ladies, an Escape from Football

The TV is mostly background noise to Grandmother but at times there may be a show actually worth attention.

The Dead TV Land the Week Between Christmas and New Years

Of course Friday, 12/31/04, one should tune in to the New Year’s Eve celebration of one’s choice. A small note: this year Regis Philbin will be replacing Dick Clark in the Times Square hosting duties. The ever-young Mr. Clark suffered a stroke recently, prayers for him.

Beyond the New Year’s Eve TV events, it’s pretty bleak out there.

On Wednesday, Dec. 29 at 8 pm, FX will feature a movie worth a peek. The promotion blurb briefs it as: “A publicist (Billy Crystal) tries to convince the press that the feuding co-stars of a new movie are still in love.(AS, L)”.
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On Thursday, Dec. 30, at 10 pm, ABC will be featuring Prime Time Live with the title “That Was the Year That Was”. Which, ladies and germs, is a rip off from The Wise I’s own weekly post of “The Week Just Passed” Myself will be doing a happening version of this theme on 1/3/05 in place of my weekly post.

This is the first of these sorts of shows with many more to come. Check it out and see what ABC thinks was so notable about the year of our Lord, 2004.

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This may be a repeat but the concept intrigues me.

On New Year’s Day, 1/1/05, at 8 pm, CBS is featuring “Return to Mayberry”. This is a typical re-gathering type of show but hey, I always loved the Andy Griffith show, a sweet comedy that would never make it in today’s more volatile TV viewing environment.

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Also on New Year’s Day, Home and Garden TV will feature the Rose Bowl Parade with no commercials. After that there is scheduled to be a bevy of home decorating shows with unique twists, including one that requires decorators to do a room “re-do” using only materials on hand.

Ladies, grab the spare TV and check it out. Let the men watch the football games.

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Web Site of Week:Hillary Can't Wait

WebSite of the Week-Quirky, Interesting,
Funny...When Creativity is Unleashed With No Censorship, You Never Know What You'll Get


Oh No! She has Fishnet Stockings! And she sings!
And she scares the living hell out of me!

She Can't Wait

Friday

A Politically Incorrect Greeting to All Readers and Monday's Previews

A Politically Incorrect Greeting to All Readers Posted by Hello


MONDAY: Take a stiff drink before viewing this web site of the week.

Because what you see will scare the bejeesus out of you.

Hint: It involves Hillary, Fishnet Stockings, some song and dance.

View at your own peril.
-----
In previewing this week's TV events it looks bleak.

There are, however, two TV features that look promising and for the ladies, a notable escape from New Year's Day's football.

========

The Tragic Death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett

It's in the News NOW and it requires comment immediately

The Heartbreaking Death of Bobbie Jo Stinnett

It's only been a little over a week on this 22nd day of December in this year of our Lord, 2004 that Bobbie Jo Stinnett was strangled in her own home, her baby of eight months gestation ripped from her womb.

While the victim was a most ordinary American from the red state of Missouri, her murderer, Lisa Montgomery, has to perhaps be one of the strangest, and most dangerous, of people. Lisa Montgomery has been arrested and confessed to the murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. More amazing, the baby girl torn from her mother's womb, Victoria Stinnett, is alive and well.

Is Lisa Montgomery crazy?

Because for sure this most unusual crime, replete with twists, turns, curves and bends involving dog shows, internet chat boards, strange cousins, dead dogs, and fake pregnancies, will be the true crime trial of the decade.

Because if Lisa Montgomery is not crazy then she certainly behaved as if she were.

Although the women did, intriguingly, concoct a complicated crime that required crafty duplicity and endless lies.

It still is not known clearly how many children Lisa Montgomery has. Indeed there is even suspicion cast about her four, three or two children and the possibility that THEIR births are also suspect.

I have the accounts of Lisa Montgomery and assert the following:

Lisa Montgomery is currently married to Kevin Montgomery and lives in a ramshackle house in Malvern, Kansas. Both Lisa and Kevin have been married before. It has been stated that Lisa has four children but some personal witness accounts allege she has only two.

Lisa had been married to a Carl Boman. It's still unclear about their children but some accounts state that her eldest child is daughter Desiree, then daughter Chelsea, then son Carl, then youngest daughter Kayla. The three eldest are a year apart and currently attend high school. Lisa claimed in many of her internet posts that her children were all born a year apart. All of Lisa's children have a surname of Boman.

It's also unclear just where these children live. Kayla appears to live with Lisa in that she was actively involved in running her mother's rat terrier kennel.

Lisa and Kevin Montgomery have no children together. Various accounts state that Kevin Montgomery has three children from a prior marriage but beyond that little is known about his children.

Below is an actual post made by Lisa regarding her children.

As for socialization-I had 4 kids a year apart, they learned
co-operation, manners, and are closer than they were before.
As they are all in high school now, and we had plans when they all
graduate, our next ones will be homeschooled the first couple of years.

Lisa


The journey of Lisa Montgomery for the past two years is a twisted and strange one. It would seem that for those two years Lisa has been actively plotting and scheming a way to get a newborn baby. Though I must caution that this is my conclusion only at this point in time. There are, however, various strange clues culled from the rat terrier newsgroup. At this time, many of the Lisa Montgomery postings and the associated web or chat group have been removed from the Internet, presumably by legal authorities.

The Internet being, of course, the Internet, just as soon as the news of this case hit the national radar various and sundry computer gurus managed to download web sites, pictures and quotes from the many places posted to by Lisa Montgomery. I even saved a few juicy tidbits on mine own hard drive. Maybe my electronic cache will be valuable one day for young Kaitlyn Mae.

Below is a picture downloaded from some Internet sleuth who got to it before the site was closed down. Bobbie Jo Stinnett is front, all the way to the right. Lisa Montgomery is in the back all the way to the left. Lisa's daughter, Kayla, is next to Lisa.

Bobbie Jo Stinnett is in the front, far right. Lisa Montgomery is in back row, far left. Posted by Hello


The basic story, or how Lisa got to meet Bobbie Jo, is fairly straightforward.

Both Lisa and Bobbie Jo belonged to a rat terrier aficionados group. This is evident by the pic above, taken at a rat terrier prize event. I am told there are more pics of Bobbie Jo and Lisa together but they have been removed from the Internet. Point being, the two were familiar with each other.

Bobbie Jo would post often to the rat terrier chat group about her expected baby, its sex, her plans for a layette. At the same time, Lisa was posting about her own pregnancy, which, of course, did not exist.

At one point Lisa even, oddly, posted that one of her expected babies died but that the other one was still alive and doing fine. Just how one of those babies died in utero is not clear but not being clear is a benchmark for Lisa Montgomery.

Bobbie Jo has a close friend in the rat terrier chat group, a Jason Dawson. Mr. Dawson was a customer from Lisa's kennel she ran with her first husband, Carl Boman. Jason Dawson was the member of the rat terrier chat group who introduced a “Darlene Fischer” to Bobbie Jo Stinnett.

The connection of Darlene Fischer to Jason Dawson is unclear at this point. Which is to say is not clear if Jason knew a Darlene Fischer but it is known that Dawson introduced Lisa Montgomery to Bobbie Stinnett. It’s not known if Jason Dawson knew a Darlene Fischer but he did feel comfortable enough to introduce this Lisa Montgomery persona to Bobbie Jo Stinnett. This knowing Bobbie Jo would invite Darlene Fischer to her home based on Jason’s recommendation. Also, I must emphasize that the bit about Jason Dawson and Lisa Montgomery’s first kennel ran with her husband is the result of a little Internet sleuthing rather than any published reports. This weird connection was culled from a listing of a sire from the Boman kennels bred to a dam owned by Jason Dawson.

I would also mention that there is much speculation about possible other identities claimed by Lisa Montgomery on various other chat boards. Speculation has it that some posts on religious and other chat groups had much of the same information Lisa Montgomery used in posts under her own name. There’s even posts by a Darlene Fischer peppered about the Internet but further Internet research shows Darlene Fischer is deceased. All of which could be naught but bits and pieces and idle speculation with no connection at all.

Finally there’s beginning to form a trend of strange dog occurrences in Lisa Montgomery’s life. At least one of her champion bitches suddenly disappeared from the rat terrier scene. The explanation was that the bitch died while giving birth to what is called in breeder circles as an “oops” pregnancy, a birth caused by a mating between a champion dog and another not of champion stock, perhaps not even the same breed.

Lisa Montgomery showed up at Bobbie Jo Stinnett’s house on Thursday, Dec. 16, at 12:30 pm. If yon reader has managed to follow the tortured connections above it would be understood that Bobbie Jo knew who Lisa Montgomery was the minute she opened the door. And it was not “Darlene Fischer”, a complete stranger recommended to Stinnett by her friend Jason, but Lisa Montgomery, a woman she already knew via the rat terrier chat group.

A neighbor reports seeing Lisa’s car parked in front of the Stinnett’s house for two hours. So Lisa Montgomery was in the Stinnett house doing God knows what but from the very beginning Bobbie Jo Stinnett knew that she had been fooled into believing someone completely different was coming to visit her. Bobbie Jo had to know trouble was at the door step as soon as she opened her door.

There are many more interesting intrigues to this tale, including a cousin of Lisa Montgomery who claims that Lisa paid her a sudden and unexpected visit when she, Wendy, was eight months pregnant. There’s also the pathetic behavior of Lisa Montgomery the day after her baby’s “birth”:

From the Malvern Daily News Gazette:

She dolled up the tiny girl in a Winnie-the-Pooh outfit and even picked a name for the horribly kidnapped child, Abigail.

"She said that she wanted a name from the Bible," the Rev. Mike Wheatly of the First Church of God in Melvern, Kan., said yesterday.

But it was all a charade, exposed when FBI agents raided Montgomery's century-old farmhouse in eastern Kansas and charged her with the most gruesome of crimes. Montgomery is due in federal court tomorrow.

According to authorities, the 36-year-old suspect was so desperate to have another child she hatched a macabre plan.

On Thursday, posing as a customer interested in buying a rat terrier dog, she drove to see fellow breeder Bobbie Jo Stinnett, 23, in Skidmore, Mo. She strangled Stinnett - who was eight months pregnant - extracted her fetus and fled, authorities allege. She drove to Topeka, called her husband to tell him she'd gone into labor and asked him to pick up her and the baby.

That afternoon, Montgomery called Wheatly and announced, "I just gave birth." At 9 the next morning, she and Kevin Montgomery showed up at his door with the baby. The pastor was unsettled. The tiny girl had scratches and a bruise, and, unlike the Montgomerys, very long fingers. "It just didn't look like either one of them," he said.

Lisa Montgomery was quiet, but her husband seemed ecstatic. "He had an ear-to-ear grin," Wheatly said. "He was just a proud dad."


It’s a complicated tale but I’d argue many of the details are far more significant that may currently appear. The significance being that by a careful knitting of the details, one can safely conclude that this was not some sudden murder driven by an insane mind. Lisa Montgomery had carefully plotted for several years to steal a baby and yes, her plan was to rip her from a gestating mother’s womb.

Consider her devious methodologies. Lisa Montgomery was known to Bobbie Jo Stinnett. There was no way she could pretend to be a customer looking for a rat terrier as Lisa had her own kennel and showed her own dogs. She had to create a persona, which would be Darlene Fischer, and she had to convince someone close to Bobbie Jo Stinnett to trust her enough to recommend her to Bobbie Jo. Although Lisa’s connection to Bobbie Jo’s friend Jason is not part of any official reports as of yet, let’s speculate that perhaps this “Darlene Fischer” person introduced herself to Jason Dawson as a friend of Lisa Montgomery, formerly Lisa Boman, co-owner of Boman Kennels, home to the sire of Jason’s dam. The pseudo Darlene would know enough about the Bomans and their kennels to convince Jason that she was but an honest would-be dog owner looking for a new and wonderful dog.

Also notice the parallel pregnancies of Lisa and Bobbie Jo. Lisa posted that one of her expected “twins” had died. Perhaps Lisa originally asserted her upcoming twin birth in the event her surrogate mother, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, would also be found to be carrying twins. When Bobbie Jo verified, via chat room posting, that she carried one baby girl, Lisa conveniently announced the loss of one her “twins” before it was even born. The parallel pregnancies were also obviously no coincidence. Lisa Montgomery was covering the eventuality that she would show up one day with a newborn about the same age as Bobbie Jo’s.

Lisa Montgomery faked several other pregnancies according to reports, once claiming a miscarriage, another time a stillborn. These may well have been other parallel pregnancies Lisa was having with other potential victims. The opportunities to strangle the expectant mothers might not have presented themselves thus Lisa’s pregnancies too had to end. There was one occasion when Lisa showed up at her cousin Wendy’s home when she was eight months pregnant. This did occur during one of Lisa’s parallel and faked pregnancies. It’s possible that this pregnant cousin was a possible victim of Lisa’s that could not be carried out to the awful fruition of Bobbie Jo Stinnett.

There’s also the strange death of at least one, possibly more, of Lisa Montgomery’s bitches. The one bitch’s death was asserted by Lisa herself to have died in childbirth as a result of a Caesarian for an “oops” canine pregnancy. As of now there’s only one dog known to have died in childbirth but there’s speculation about other dogs she’s owned that died in the same manner.

Consider Kevin Montgomery’s complete joy at the birth of “Abigail”, the name Lisa gave to Bobbie Jo’s baby. Consider that Kevin Montgomery allegedly has three other children who live with their mother but so far they’ve not been found. Consider that all of Lisa Montgomery’s faked pregnancies happened while she was married to Kevin Montgomery.

Lisa Montgomery wanted to give her husband a child of his own. For whatever reason, she could not get pregnant. So she spent a few years and created a smoke screen of Internet activities, stalking and paralleling pregnancies along with other women of her computer acquaintance that she knew were pregnant.

She carefully practiced removal of the unborn from the mother’s uterus on one, perhaps more, dogs. Lisa knew that strangling the mother than quickly removing the baby via Caesarian was the safest way to extract a living baby.

Lisa created a believable persona to arrange a meeting with Bobbie Jo Stinnett. She used her former acquaintance with Jason Dawson to achieve that end.

Lisa Montgomery is NOT insane. Her behavior over the past three years is a carefully crafted and executed campaign, her plan all along was to extract a newborn baby from a strangled mother’s womb.

Insane people are not aware of whether they do right or wrong. Lisa knew her crime was wrong, thus her fakery and false personas.

Remember this when the trial finally hits the airwaves.

Because Lisa Montgomery’s attorneys are going to plead the woman as insane.

She is not.

For those of you who might be interested in further updates on this case, punctuated by excellent sleuthing by true crime buffs, check out the Usenet Newsgroup "Alt.True-Crime"

Thursday

Grandmother Reminisce: Taking on the Farm

A Very True Reminisce of Grandmother's Life Told in Snippets and Smiles

Taking on the Farm

It was the tomatoes that convinced us.

"All summer," my father said, "thousands of fresh tomatoes. Just pick, salt and eat."

For every year of my then twelve years we always had a garden. My father always planted tomatoes which his children ate while pouting for the rest to turn red. Now here we were promised endless tomatoes and all that was required was for us to move from the city of our birth to a fifty-seven acre farm.

It sounded good to us, three children who spent their childhood endlessly riding hotel elevators and hitching free trips via the bumpers of metropolitan buses. Living on a farm would be child's play. Nothing could go wrong on a farm, could it?

I admit I was an urban child and foolish with my perception of acreage. In my childish mind I envisioned fifty seven acres as an endless expanse of waving wheat fields. In no way was I prepared for the rocky, muddy and thorny mess that was to become our "farm". In reality, only three acres was actually clear. The other fifty-four consisted primarily of rocks and wild blackberry bushes.

Our new farmhouse consisted of a living room, kitchen and two bedrooms. The non-mention of a bathroom is very intentional here and not for real-estate listing. There was a bathroom, only it was outside and had a half-moon on the door. There was also no running water. Forget a telephone. We did, however, have electricity.

A tractor was included as part of the farm purchase and this was opportune because the first thing required was to fashion some sort of road that would allow an automobile down into the small hollow from the nearest asphalt road.

Our father asked that we learn how to use the tractor because with a hitch of big logs used to drag the brush and rocks, designing a passable road would be a small task. Urban children all, we were undaunted to learn driving a tractor.

My sister drove the thing straight up a tree.

This is not an exaggeration but a simple statement of fact and if you don't think a tractor could possibly climb a tree I have pictures of this mechanical preying-mantis shaped object, sister still in the seat and holding on, as it lurched forward, backed off then lurched forward again, all in an effort to climb the tree.

As my sister screamed for my brother and I to stop this crazy thing, we could do nothing but laugh. Even if we could, which we couldn't, we would not have stopped the thing because how often, I must ask, does one get to see one's sister trapped in a tractor seat, parallel to a tree and perpendicular to the ground?

It was one hour before my father returned from work and for one hour my brother and I watched our sister go slowly insane as she fought the tree-climbing tractor.

Then the tractor would attack yet again as if tree-climbing weren't quite enough. We were clearing the rocky road. A cavalcade of huge logs was strapped together to form a raft of sorts. The log raft was tied to the tractor for the purposes of dragging the logs along the road and smoothing the bumps. My sister was again at the tractor wheel. I stood on a crossbar right next to the seat. My brother was supposed to be on the other side of the seat only he decides he wants to ride on the logs.

So what's wrong with riding on logs as opposed to the bumpers of the MTA buses? There's that little matter of rope slack, unpredictable with the lunges and lurches of the ancient tractor. Which is exactly what happened when my sister, swerving to avoid an imaginary tree, caused my brother to fall off the log raft to have it run directly over top of him all the way to his neck. I witnessed the accident and screamed for my sister to stop all forward motion. Which she did. My brother was trapped under the logs. I told my sister to back the tractor up. Which she did. Only this didn't cause the log raft to also back up. In fact, my sister almost ran over my brother's head, the only part of his body not yet completely crushed.

Fortune had it that the earth was so soft that the weight of the logs merely pressed him further into the mud. No bones were crushed and he recovered nicely. Had I known of this outcome, I would have instructed my sister to run over his head.

We really did do some farming eventually, just as soon as we finished installing a bathroom and running water. And the garden was full of huge and delicious tomatoes as promised.

There was that matter of the marble-sized potatoes.

Not that they were planted with this intended result, mind you. The "seed" potatoes were carefully cut from heirloomed spuds left by the farm's former owner. We were careful to leave three "eyes" for proper growth.

The largest potato we grew was, at best, the size of a golfball. Our father, a thrifty fellow, commanded that we peel our potato harvest, such as it is, and serve as if a proper vegetable.

We also had livestock. It was a country tradition those many years ago, for local farmers to donate a few head of cattle to new neighbors. We were given a set of Hereford bulls for our "farm-warming" gift. Only they were babies at the time of the gift and this required us children to trod sleepily up to the barn in the wee hours of the morning and feed the bulls from a bucket with a nipple attachment.

We kept forgetting to lock the barn gate. And the bulls kept getting out. This made my father mad.

Besides my father's anger, having two bulls frolic about a household with no restraints created a few surprises. On one occasion the farm quiet was pierced by the sharp shrew scream of my sister. The whole family hastened to what had to be a fresh murder scene. As we, first father, then stepmother, then brother, then myself, entered the arena we were greeted by a scene too bizarre for our human eyes.

For hunched back against the stove was our sister, big-eyed and pointing to the horror at the kitchen table. For their part, the bulls were only enjoying some leftover spaghetti and did not appreciate all the noise and bother.

Then our stepmother gets all into a tizzy because one of the frisky bulls butted her as she hung the wet clothes on the line. The worst happened to my own self who just the same afternoon had exited my school bus to the hoots and jeers of fellow passengers. I scanned the horizon for the source of their points and laughter, then cringed. There, at the top of our road to meet me as if pet dogs, were the two Hereford bulls. They waited patiently and munched some grass. As I trudged the mile down to the farm house, they loped lazily behind me.

The absolute worst was my father's announcement that the bulls would be slaughtered and, get this, we were expected to actually EAT the things. He needed to grow a brain and fast.

The bull pets were slaughtered and packaged into neat parcels that filled our proper farm freezer. Each of us, children of our father all, refused to eat the meat from the bulls. Still my father instructed my stepmother to prepare meat meals, sure that we would give in.

Not a one of us did. Eventually, even my father refused to eat the meat. After three years in the freezer, all the meat was finally tossed out.

We lived on that farm for four years. We had to be the worst situation comedy farmers that would make Eva Gabor look like Greenfingers. And it isn't as if someone, somewhere wasn't trying to tell us something. The farm house itself burned completely to the ground the first year we lived in it. Snakes regularly shed their skin in the pump house and occasionally coiled themselves around a chicken for a poultry snack. The septic tank forever backed up into the house. Many nights would find us all digging up the septic tank, in the middle of the night, as sleep in such odiferous conditions was impossible. For several months we had some ducks, but one night a pack of wild dogs descended and ate every one of them. We never did get a telephone.

"All the hard crabs you want," my father promised us. We were all game. Just think, we would soon be moving from the farm to actually living on the water! My father had purchased a huge home directly on the bay and soon, we would have all the hard crabs we wanted, netted right in our very own backyard! Nothing could go wrong on the waterfront, right?