Thursday, October 28, 2004

Homeland Security = Toy Trademark Protection?

Latest WTF??? moment: Toy store owner gets visit from Homeland Security agents. Article:

So far as she knows, Pufferbelly Toys owner Stephanie Cox hasn't been passing any state secrets to sinister foreign governments, or violating obscure clauses in the Patriot Act. So she was taken aback by a mysterious phone call from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to her small store in this quiet Columbia River town just north of Portland.

"I was shaking in my shoes," Cox said of the September phone call. "My first thought was the government can shut your business down on a whim, in my opinion. If I'm closed even for a day that would cause undue stress."

When the two agents arrived at the store, the lead agent asked Cox whether she carried a toy called the Magic Cube, which he said was an illegal copy of the Rubik's Cube, one of the most popular toys of all time. He told her to remove the Magic Cube from her shelves, and he watched to make sure she complied.

After the agents left, Cox called the manufacturer of the Magic Cube, the Toysmith Group, which is based in Auburn, Wash. A representative told her that Rubik's Cube patent had expired, and the Magic Cube did not infringe on the rival toy's trademark.

Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said agents went to Pufferbelly based on a trademark infringement complaint filed in the agency's intellectual property rights center in Washington, D.C.

"One of the things that our agency's responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation's financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications," she said.

Six weeks after her brush with Homeland Security, Cox told The Oregonian she is still bewildered by the experience. "Aren't there any terrorists out there?" she said.
Now I would understand if they had a hunch that some of that missing Al Qaqaa explosives (same stuff used to make C4) had been used to modify otherwise harmless clones of Rubik's Cubes in a brilliant terrorist plot to turn our own toys against us. That stuff can be molded into any shape, afterall - and who would suspect a child's toy? But that's not the case. Nope. We're worried about trademark infringement here, folks! That's your hard-earned homeland security tax dollars at work. Protecting corporate profits.


No, I can't imagine why the Iraqi's are so mad at America for "liberating" them: Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths following Occupation. Of course, we don't officially count Iraqi civillian casualties. That would comply with the Geneva Convention and we just can't have that! Snips:

LONDON - A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months after the U.S. invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began, but some non-governmental estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000. As of Wednesday, 1,081 U.S. servicemen had been killed, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

The scientists who wrote the report concede that the data they based their projections on were of "limited precision," because the quality of the information depends on the accuracy of the household interviews used for the study. The interviewers were Iraqi, most of them doctors.

The survey indicated violence accounted for most of the extra deaths seen since the invasion, and air strikes from coalition forces caused most of the violent deaths, the researchers wrote in the British-based journal. "Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," they said.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Hobbits, Goblins and Lilliputians, Oh My!

Just in time for Halloween: Scientists find fairly modern prehistoric dwarf human skeleton on remote Indonesian island. Now, finding small skeletons of early homo ancestors is normally no big thing. This isn't the missing link. What makes this story fascinating is that they've determined at least one of the skeletons is only 12,000 years old. Which means these dwarf, genetically distinct humans shared the world with modern humans. It is very possible modern humans encountered them. Genetically modern humans were migrating to North America by around 18,000 - 15,000 BC. In the Middle East, this was the "Epipaleolithic" period -which was a pre-Neolithic (or Stone Age) era when humans were just beginning to experiment with the manipulation of plants and creation of tools and were still primarily nomadic hunting/ gathering tribes. It was only 4,000 years or so before they started to domesticate animals and live in settled agricultural communities.

Almost every culture on earth developed some myth or legend revolving little people. They were usually mischieveous spirits. Could these people have been the real life inspiration for legendary European little folk like goblins, imps, elves, leprechauns, brownies and faeries? The Cherokee even had spiritual little people. The Hawaiians had their Menehune.

I can't wait to see the Doscovery or PBS documentary on this. Though maybe there should be a book about it, first. Now see, if I were the type to combine my love of history & archaeology with writing I might attempt it. If I weren't such a gutless chickenshit, that is.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Coalition of the Satanic

You've heard it here first, folks! Bush has officially allied himself with the armies (or navies, at least) of Satan! British navy approves first ever Satanist:

Mr Cranmer will be allowed to perform Satanic rituals The British Armed Forces
has officially recognised its first registered Satanist, a newspaper reports. Naval technician Chris Cranmer, 24, has been allowed to register by the captain of HMS Cumberland, based at Devonport Naval Base in Plymouth. The move will mean that he will now be allowed to perform Satanic rituals on board
the vessel.

Why yes, this is a shameless attempt to googlehog (or is it googlebomb?) folks searching for "Bush+Allied+With+Satan" in order to disenfranchise some of his more extreme fundy religious base. How'd you know?

Right Livelihood

I'll be watching this case pretty closely: Pharmacist says he feared 'spiritual pain': Hearing considers refusal to fill birth control pill prescription.

"MADISON, Wisconsin. (AP) -- A former pharmacist said Monday he refused to fill a college student's prescription for birth control pills or transfer it to another pharmacy because he did not want to commit a sin."

I've ranted about this before, but mostly in regards to proposed bills that would allow physicians & other health care professionals to "opt out" of providing any kind of abortion services. But what I wasn't really clear about is that it's already perfectly legal in some states, appparently for pharmacists to "opt out" of providing other prescriptions, too. There have been a rash of cases in recent years of pharmacists refusing to fill birth control Rx's. Besides the above-linked cases, there was a case in Texas last March. And one in New Hampshire last month. There are more - just google "pharmacy refuses to fill birth control" and you'll find more examples than you can count.

I could really get into a frenzy about the assumption that someone else's right to practice their religion somehow legally trumps a woman's right to basic healthcare. Or the ridiculous notion that if a sexually active woman gets pregnant it's her divine "punishment" for her sins. And I could wonder if they refuse to fill HIV medication or antibiotics for other STD's to men on the same grounds. But I won't.

Instead, I want to discuss the moral dilemma facing these pharmacists based on a tenet of Buddhism that really resonated with Curt & I when we began studying it. It's called "Right Livelihood" and it's one of the central precepts of the Eight Fold Path. Now in the simplest terms, "Right livelihood means that one should earn one's living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully. The Buddha mentions four specific activities that harm other beings and that one should avoid for this reason: 1. dealing in weapons, 2. dealing in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade and prostitution), 3. working in meat production and butchery, and 4. selling intoxicants and poisons, such as alcohol and drugs. Furthermore any other occupation that would violate the principles of right speech and right action should be avoided."

Generally, pharmacists and other medical professions are definitely considered one of the "Right" and probably most noble of livelihoods. But if you use that profession to violate any of the other precepts of Buddhism, well, that would rack up bad karma in a hurry. What constitutes violations of those other precepts, and whether a particular act creates good or bad karma is, as always up to the individual circumstances and intent of the individuals involved. This ambiguity extends to the issue of abortion, as well. I might go into the logic around that issue in Buddhism but not right now. For the sake of this argument, let's just state that while abortion is generally frowned upon, birth control is not - since it prevents pregnancy to begin with (and thereby avoids the messy abortion dilemma). For that matter, consensual sex is not frowned upon either (so long as it is, in fact entirely consensual, nobody is profiting from it, nobody is addicted to it and nobody is getting hurt by it) and marriage is considered an entirely secular, and NOT a sacred institution.

But that's really besides my point. What I want to address is the more subtle meaning of the "Right Livelihood" precept as our Reverend Master explained it to us. Namely, that "Right Livelihood" not only means it is wrong to profit from someone else's suffering, it also means you should not profit from your own suffering. This is where the primary truth of Buddhism comes into play: that we are all the cause of our own suffering. This is why, not only is it wrong to prostitute others, it is wrong to prostitute your self. So from this standpoint, even though being a healthcare worker is usually considered a noble livelihood - if the requirements of that job cause you mental anguish, or places you in a position where you are violating your personal ethics, then you are intentionally causing your own suffering, and that makes your chosen livelihood wrong.

As I've mentioned before. I've quit jobs in the past because I had an ethical disagreement with the business culture of my workplace, or the requirements for the job. So has my husband. So have millions of other people. Your right to practice your religion does NOT in any way, shape or form give you the right to FORCE your religious beliefs on someone else - especially using the power of your profession. If I were Orthodox Jew or Muslim and I went to work in a pig slaughterhouse, my empoloyer would be totally within their rights to fire my ass for refusing to kill swine. Or if I were a diehard Vegan and I went to work in a steakhouse and I refused to serve T-bone to the customers. Or even give them the menu. I shouldn't have placed myself in that situation to begin with. Let alone make someone *else* suffer beecause of my doing so.

And that's exactly what these pharmacists are doing. They're not only making someone else pay the price for THEIR bad professional decisions, they're hurting themselves as well. Are you ethically uncomfortable working for a pharmacy that dispenses b/c (including the morning after pill?) Then feel free to quit and go to work for a privately-owned pharmacy run by Christian Scientists or some such where it won't be an issue. Or find a new profession. In every other situation in good old Capitalist U.S. of A - employees are reminded they do NOT have a constitutional right to a job. If the state isn't responsible for providing a job - it sure as hell isn't responsible for providing one that guarantees the employee a guilt-free conscience.

And if they manage to get legislation through that does give employees that right regarding b/c and abortion - they sure as hell better give the same right based on other moral issues or be prepared to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court. I don't see this having a Constitutional leg to stand on.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Tank of Gas to Vancouver, BC: $23. Cost of getting Flu vaccine: $50.

Rubbing in how Canadian health care system is covering American system’s ass to Republican co-workers: Priceless!

File this entry under one more thing I’ll blog about here instead of getting into another totally pointless argument with my conservative ditto-head coworkers. I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve bagged on socilized medicine. Specifically, how shitty the Canadian health system supposedly is in comparison to ours, which is, of course “the envy of the world”. So reading this is just priceless:

Vancouver, BC plans flu shot clinic for Americans Snip:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Many Americans from Pacific Northwest are making a run for the border to get their flu shots. And it couldn’t be easier to find a provider. As soon as they cross the border, the tourist information booth hands out maps to the closest clinic.

Because so many people are crossing the Canadian border for flu shots, the Vancouver, British Columbia, Coastal Health Authority has set up a one-day clinic for Americans only…

The U.S. vaccine shortage was caused when British regulators shut down U.S.-bound shipments from Chiron Corp., after some batches of the vaccine were found to be contaminated with bacteria. The decision cut the U.S. supply of flu shots almost in half.

Canada does not have a shortage because it doesn't get vaccine from the British supplier. While the flu shots in Canada are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, that isn’t stopping those who can’t get vaccinated in the United States.

Yep, we're the envy of the world, alright.....

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Loose Strings

Here at RiverRocks we try to be fair, even when totally unbalanced. So here are some random updates on previous rants/posts.

Humanitarian organization CARE Int’l has pulled out of Iraq following the abduction of their chief.

Chicago has found no more Frankenfish in their harbor, giving hope that they may have been spared the horror.

Those evil Europeans & their demonic CERN particle accelerator have taken up the critical question of Life, The Universe & Everything. Don’t expect Shrub to reconsider his particular answer to that question in light of any discoveries they make, however. You know how much he listens to the Europeans, let alone scientists.

Turns out the school district terrorism scare was, in fact harmless (or so they say…) The FBI is now claiming that the Iraqi man who downloaded the information was not tied to terrorists or insurgents as was originally reported. He did have ties to Saddam Hussein and the Baath party but they say “that’s true of most former community leaders”. So maybe it was something like my innocent hypothesis #2. Big surprise – more ‘be afraid, be very afraid’/ ‘oops, nevermind you’re perfectly safe’ chain-yanking.

And last, but not least – the Afghanistan elections did appear to go off without much violence, and only a slight hitch, contrary to all my doom & gloomer predictions. And the hitch isn’t even that bad. Sure, some funny business apparently went on but no more so than what’s been going on here in the U.S. of A. Shrub may even have veen right in stating during the last debate that a 19 yr old woman cast the first ballot in the election. But what he failed to mention was she cast that ballot in the Pakistan capital of Islamabad - and not in Afghanistan itself where women are still being intimidated by the Taliban and other fundamentalist factors into not participating. He also failed to mention how golden boy Karzai is not only continuing to turn a blind eye to the abuse of women’s rights in Afghanistan by fundamentalist Northern Alliance warlords (who he is now allied with); in many cases he is aiding and abetting them in their efforts. Snip:

“While much mileage has been squeezed out of the notion that the U.S. “liberated” Afghan women, only one dollar out of every $5,000 ($112,500 out of $650 million) of U.S. financial aid sent to Afghanistan in 2002 was actually given to women’s organizations. In 2003, according to Ritu Sharma, Executive Director of the Women’s Edge Coalition, that amount was reduced to $90,000. At the same time, women have increasingly been the targets of violence. New studies by groups like Amnesty International reveal that sexual violence has surged since the fall of the Taliban, and there has been a sharp rise in incidents of women’s self-immolation in Western Afghanistan. Amnesty International has documented an escalation in the number of girls and young women abducted and forced into marriage, with collusion from the state (those who resist are often imprisoned).”

“U.S. policy has empowered extreme fundamentalists who have further extended women’s oppression in a traditionally ultra-conservative society. In a public opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan this July by the Asia Foundation, 72% of respondents said that men should advise women on their voting choices and 87% of all Afghans interviewed said women would need their husband’s permission to vote. On International Women’s Day this year, Hamid Karzai only encouraged such attitudes. He implored men to allow their wives and sisters to register to vote, assuring them, “later, you can control who she votes for, but please, let her go [to register].”

Shrub holding up this election as a triumph for women's rights is like Jim Crow trying to claim former slaves were fully liberated and equal in 1920.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Bugging Out

Journalist Christopher Allbritton tells a scary story of a very lucky colleague who was kidnapped (and released) this week in Baghdad. This is Bush's idea of "excellent progress" being made in Iraq. Must be code for "let's make it so damned dangerous no journalist with two brain cells will stick around, letting us do whateverthehell we feel like under the radar of the international press."

**Update** Chris has left the county in response to growing threats against journalists. Right before a top charity chief, Margaret Hassan was kidnapped. She is a dual British/ Iraqi citizen and has lived in Baghdad for more than 30 years.

Who's your huckleberry?

What a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Just what we needed. We decided on the spur of the moment last week to get away to somewhere sort of new and different from our typical road trip to Mom’s. We headed to Hood River up in the Gorge. Now, technically we’ve both been there before (last time staying at the quaint little Hood River Hotel but this time we decided to do the Mt. Hood Scenic Railroad which I had never been on, and stay at a B&B. It was Autumn Fest in Hood River, so most B&B’s in town were booked up. I found one with a vacancy 20 minutes away on the Washington side up the White Salmon River in the mountains, called Husum Highlands . Really, terrific. I'm serious. Very isolated and quiet - out in the woods. Beautiful Victorian-style home (though only 10 yrs old). Incredible view. We saw deer. I impressed a recently transplanted So. Californian couple with my recognition of huckleberry jam. Hey, I'm a native - it's kind of required knowledge.

The railroad trip was neat – they had a Harvest Fest up in Parkdale at the 1 hr. stopover with home brewed sodapop and *real* kettle korn, artsy booths and live hippy music. Lots of kids, which I was amazed to see totally enthralled with riding the choo-choo train that somehow kept them totally entertained for the 4 hour trip. It seems like you can’t get a kid away from their video games and T.V.’s for more than an hour these days without their getting bored in a hurry. More amusing were the “bigger” kids of the male variety who were just as enthralled, and took every opportunity to check out the old diesel engine and caboose, regaling their companions with tons of train trivia in between. You could tell who had train sets as kids.

My native berry knowledge failed me on the drive up, though, where we were fascinated by these bushes that had beautiful silverish blue/lavendar clumps hanging from them. They looked like miniature grapes or hydrangeas. Our wise B&B host informed us they were wild Elderberries – apparently of the blue variety. Absolutely incredible in pies, jellies & wine, he said, but they take careful preparation. Apparently only the ripe berry is edible – the rest of the plant (and unripe berries) can be toxic. So when a group of women were perplexed by the same bush on the train trip we got to play guest lecturer. It was fun.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Just noticed Riverbend made one of her rare blog posts. This time about the rising use of valium (and other drugs) by Iraqi's.

Friday Afternoon Trivia

Guess I’m not all that freaky afterall: “the most common medical condition you've never heard of: Restless Legs Syndrome.” Finally, a possible explanation for what I’ve been calling “the creepy-crawlies” in my legs since I"ve been prego. Snip:

“Tending to be more pronounced at nights, symptoms range from unpleasant sensations in the legs that come and go, to involuntary twitching. In some of the more severe cases, Kryger says patients describe feeling as if insects are crawling under their skin when they try to sleep. RLS can wake patients up several times during the night, leaving them exhausted and drowsy the next day. “It can really have a significant impact on their quality of life,” adds Kushida.

But researchers have found that people with iron deficiencies are more susceptible to RLS—particularly women. And Kryger says pregnant women are two to three times more likely to have RLS than other women in part because the fetus tends to take iron for its own use. RLS symptoms can also be alleviated by stretching, using hot or cold packs, taking a bath or exercising."

I've already been doing the bath/ exercising thing (well - the bath thing and lame attempts at exercising). Guess it's time to start the iron supplements in addition to the iron in my prenatal vitamin.

The FrankenFish are Coming! Run for your lives!!!!

They've finally made it to the Great Lakes. Snip:

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The dreaded Northern Snakehead, a voracious predator dubbed the "Frankenfish" that can breathe out of water and wriggle across land, has invaded the Great Lakes, authorities said on Friday...

"These things are voracious feeders. They're a very aggressive fish," said Mike Conlin of the Department of Natural Resources. "We hope it's a stray, dumped there by somebody who got tired of feeding it."

Teams will use electric cables in the harbor to shock fish to the surface to look for more of the species, which can survive the cold Midwest winter and eats other fish, frogs and even birds and mammals. If it breeds, it could devour game fish and devastate the lakes' multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

Apparently, fish & wildlife agencies are also trying to eradicate another scary species - the "Alarmed Asian Carp" which have been known to leap from the water and knock out people in boats

Oh the HORROR!!!!! Keep your children locked up, folks! Hordes of evil Frankenfish will be crawling from lakes and streams near your home intent on devouring everything in sight.

Sounds like a really bad B flick, huh? I know, it is actually a pretty serious phenomenon. But I had to make fun. Maybe these agressive tendencies are natural defensive traits developed trying to escape high levels of mercury in the waterways? That would make for a better plotline. I see something along the lines of "The Day After Tomorow". Get me Dreamworks on the line.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe & Everything....

Is No Child Left Behind. (Not 42).

Or so Shrub would like us to believe. After watching last night's dabate, it's clear he thinks educational reforms are the absolute answer to every problem that faces America. But only reforms of the NCLB variety, of course. His idiotic response to the moderator's question of "what would you tell someone who lost their job to someone overseas" was priceless. Why, we're losing our jobs because we're stupid and uneducated. Apparently the dozen or so highly intelligent, unemployed folks I personally know who have advanced degrees imagined their years of successful schooling. It must have been some kind of hallucinogenic mindtrip orchestrated by Saddam Hussein. They're really middle-school drop outs with delusions of grandeur. But never fear, Shrub is here! Apparently he's guaranteeing every community college graduate a decent, high paying job! Woohoo! Oh wait, you mean those jobs are driving truck in Iraq? hmmm.... maybe we should rethink that plan.

Bloggers far and wide are raising a collective eyebrow in confusion over this seemingly illogical response by Bush. But when you think about it, it *does* make sense. If, that is you just remember that Bush is his own educational reform poster child. He's obviously too stupid to be President (it's so haaaard....) and seems to think everyone in America is as illiterate and ignorant as he is. Except, perhaps John Kerry. Didn't you catch those open-mouthed, awestruck glances of amazement he sent in Kerry's direction when the Senator actually managed to *answer* the moderator's questions (and in complete sentences, too!) . So. Since Shrub is too stupid to even recognize, let alone actually be able to *solve* the problems facing our country today (i.e. unemployemnt, the economy, Social Security, health care, oh yeah - and terrorism) - his grand plan is to raise up a whole passel of youngins through NCLB who by gosh & by golly! might just be smart enough to succeed where he's failed in every one of these areas. It's a long-term plan.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

volcano update: As of last night they could see real live, hot glowing red lava in the crater! Just down in the cracks of the lava dome! Still no major eruption - looks like it's just oozing up, very very slowly....

In other local news, the Oregon Sec. of State and Attorn. General are investigating allegations that voter registration canvassers working for the Republicans illegally destroyed the registration forms of Democrats. One former canvasser said he personally witnessed his supervisor take out Dem. forms from the pile and shred them. Lovely.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Let Downs

#1) Curt's surgeon cancelled his carpal tunnel surgery tomorow because of this $^&% ear infection. He said we could try, but there would be an 80% chance we'd get to the hospital and they'd send him home anyway. So headache saved, but frustration level rising. Reschedule isn't expected for 10+ days. grrrrr. Though I guess that means I can do more phone bank calling this week. The Kerry campaign *finally* called and I signed up for a 2 hour stint on Sunday, in addition to the calling I've signed up to do with Planned Parenthood.

#2) Mt. St. Helens is being very coy about this whole eruption thing. Elvis may have left the building but as of today, "magma has reached the surface!". Much to the disappointment of we volcano-watching rubberneckers, it did so with very little fanfare or seismic activity, let alone the much hoped-for geysers of red-hot lava boiling over the oh-so-picturesque snow-clad crater. In fact, nobody (including the scientists) appears to actually be able to *see* the lava - it had cooled to the point where it was a clunky grey mass that was inseparable from the 6 yr old old lava by the time it got to the top. The only way they KNOW it's fresh magma is because of the white-hot heat signature captured by the FLIR cameras.

One little bit of good news, though. We had a scare with Cleo the Calico yesterday. She disappeared for the entire day, per Curt and was nowhere to be found when I came home - even after making complete asses out of ourselves whistling for her and yelling "CleoCaaaaat" all over the neighborhood. We were both on the verge of tears at the prospect of losing another kitty, and really - the most beloved (I've had her 10 years... through 8 moves?) when she came traipsing in about 8:00 pm. After being convinced that she was broken and bleeding under a bush somewhere, this was quite the relief. Although, she is still acting funny. Stuck around long enough to eat, then hightailed it outside again. And she's been most anti-social since then, too. Didn't even respond when I broke out the flute (which she has a freaky love/hate relationship with). Maybe it's the volcano. Who knows.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Posted by Hellohey, can anyone tell me what this flower is? We think maybe Delphinium? It bloomed out of nowhere this week - I'm thinking because I severely cut back the trumpet vine that was shading it this summer.

Posted by Hello

Friday, October 08, 2004

Friday Afternoon Trivia

“I’m just jiggered from all this gipping” Foreign Doctors Given Guide to British Slang .

We had a great time at the Sting/ Annie Lennox concert last night. Despite Curt's nasty infection in his left lughole. Annie totally rocked (what an incredible voice!!), but by the time Sting got about 1/2 way through his set we'd had enough. Enough loud music and drunk assholes behind us ruining the concert by trying to karaoke to the music at the top of their voice (when they weren't talking non-stop in very loud voices). We heard our favorite songs and that was good enough.

Annie closed out her set with "I want a Man" which was ironic. Shortly after we began dating I had my Eurythmics Greatest Hits CD blaring while I was desperately cleaning the apartment in anticipation of Curt's imminent arrival for a date. As he walked up the driveway he was greeted with this song blaring through the door and me singing along at the top of my voice as I frantically threw dirty laundry in the closet:

"I don't care if you won't Talk to me
You know I'm not that kind of girl.
And I don't care if you won't
Walk with me
It don't give me such a thrill.
And I don't care about the way you look
You should know I'm not impressed
'Cause there's just one thing
That I'm looking for
And he don't wear a dress.

I need a man...
I need a man...

Baby baby baby
Don't you shave your legs
Don't you double comb your hair
Don't powder puff
Just leave it rough
I like your fingers bare.
When the night comes down
I can turn it round
I can take you anywhere.
I don't need love
Forget that stuff
You know that I don't care

I need a man...
I need a man...

I don't need a heartbreaker
Fifty-faced trouble maker
Two timing time taker
Dirty little money maker
Muscle bound cheap skate
Low down woman hater
Triple crossing double dater
Yella bellied alligator...

I don't care if you won't
Talk to me
You know I'm not that kind of girl.
And I don't care if you won't
Walk with me
It don't give me such a thrill.
And I don't care about the way you look
You should know I'm not impressed
'Cause there's just one thing
That I'm looking for
And he don't wear a dress."

He walked in and said something to the effect of "Are you trying to tell me something?" I was embarassed - like he'd caught me masturbating or something. He, on the other hand was kind of hurt and as I recall pouted for a good portion of the evening. Come to find out, he'd taken it as a critique of his manhood. Guys and their egos. Sheesh!

Oh yeah, just in case you were all wondering - It's a boy!!! I was an absentminded idiot and forgot to start drinking tons of water 2 hrs before the ultrasound, so they couldn't do the full scan and made me reschedule for 2 weeks. But the little colt had his butt proudly sticking up far enough for the technician to at least easily distinguish a scrotal sack and the related 5th appendage. So my early hunch of a boychild was correct.

I made Dad tell Grandma. I'm such a chickenshit.

October Surprise?

First, we learn last week that the Dept. of Education sent out general warnings to school officials across the nation warning them to look out for potential terrorist spies who might be casing their schools as a target (in light of the recent Beslan attack). Now, lo & behold, we learn that specific school districts were warned by federal authorities last month that they'd apparently already been targeted, thanks to some material that was discovered by U.S. military back in July! Including a district here in Oregon.

So let's get the timeline straight. U.S. military finds a disk in JULY of specific information on specific U.S. school districts apparently downloaded by Iraqi insurgents. Then on the first of September Russian terrorists lay siege to a school in Beslan on the first day of school. Over 350 are killed, almost half children. So after that tragedy, (and ONLY after that tragedy) U.S. intelligence decides to take a close, hard look at the security of U.S. schools. Only then do they think "hey, that information we got that terrorists were interested in specific school districts in the U.S. might be worrisome, let's let them know!" and a few weeks later, decide to ask *all* districts to be on the lookout.

But, even though they found *specific* information regarding crisis response, pictures and floor plans on *specific* school districts (along with general Educ. Dept. recommendations on crisis response in schools) , that wasn't enough to cause an alarm. Even after Breslan, they told these districts that they have NO "specific threat" against them. Hello??? Just what the fuck does it take to constitute a "specific threat?" Overheard conversation from terrorist A to terrorist B that "hey, we're going to hit 1234 SW. Main St., Smallville, Oregon on Sept. 15 at 9:00 am. First, we're going to hide pipebombs in the heating vents. Then we're going to go in with x many AK-47's (they're legal now, dontchyaknow) ?" Anything short of that kind of idiotproof intelligence and we don't take the threat seriously?

Breslan could have just as easily been Salem, Oregon. Not that the Iraqi insurgents were in cahoots with the Chechens, mind you (though I'm sure if Bush decides to invade Russia he'll manage to find a connection). But let's think for a minute. Why on Maude's green earth would Iraqi nationals (and especially insurgents) be downloading information on 6 different school districts in 6 different U.S. states? What conceivable reason would they have? I can think of only 2 innocent reasons: 1) Someone was thinking of immigrating to America and was trying to decide where based on the looks &/ safety of the school districts. Why these schools? Well, maybe they just happen to have relatives in these 7 very disparate locations. Farfetched, but possible. 2) Someone was looking up information on U.S. school crisis response and architecture to use as possible models for building new Iraqi schools they're building. After all, keeping Iraqi schools safe would be a huge concern right now. Maybe they think with our experience with school shootings we'd be better prepared. Again - farfetched, but possible.

Now, I'm no CIA cyber forensic analyst (though I might take the job if it were offered), but you could get a pretty good idea of what motivated this mystery websurfer to look up this information. Let's start with:. What do these districts have in common? Anything? Do they happen to be the first results that come back from a Google search on "U.S. school districts"? Or of more concern, "U.S. school districts not prepared for crisis"? If you happened to have the actual harddrive on which this information was downloaded you could look up internet temp files for a clue. It's amazing what they can recover even from deleted files. But if not, you could find out a lot by checking with the ISP/webhosts of the district websites. If I, a lowly blogger can get a free, detailed report from Sitemeter that tells me exactly what search words/ referring URL's were used to bring browsers to my site, the school districts certainly should be able to do the same. If all the information was downloaded in a short timeframe, the same search words or referring ISP should appear on all 6. If it's just a common ISP, then you know they've specifically targeted these schools for another reason. Like they lie in communities where they have active cells.

I'd like to have more confidence in our intelligence community. I really would. But I'm sure some intelligence chief, somewhere is justifying their inaction by saying "we just didn't imagine they would attack schools until after Breslan". Which is a horrific echo of what they said after 9/11: "who'd have thought"?

Well you know what? I'd have thought!!. I've got a terrific imagination. I could come up with 1000 different ways a dedicated "evildoer" might try to ruin someone's day. But then, I'm just naturally paranoid like that. As a child I would lie awake planning detailed escape routes from our old farmhouse in the event that a band of armed commandos might sneak up our long driveway and try to turn it into a secret base of operations. I even had plans to save my annoying brother and the dog.

I don't know if these recent, seemingly coincidental terror warnings about our schools is the much anticipated attempt by Karl Rove to scare us again before the election. You'd think he could de better. Because honestly, it's only serving to illustrate how little headway the intelligence agencies has made in reforming itself under Bush. They're still the same reactionary folks who made 9/11 possible. They're still waiting to do anything about potential threats until someone hands them "specific" information on a silver platter, or failing that, *after* some lunatic actually carries through with a similar threat somewhere in the world and proves it's possible. The fact that they happened to attack a school in Russia instead of here is pure luck.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Shameless bragging…..

I am the recruiting queen!!! I got 8 people signed up to volunteer in the next 4 weeks for Planned Parenthood last night! (insert Tim the Toolman Taylor “arh arh arh” apewoman grunt here) More than anybody else. The average is 4 a night . Heh. OK enough gloating. It was fun!! Of course, the call list came from ACT and was folks who had expressed an interest to volunteer on website(s) – so it was very much a friendly audience. In fact, 90% of the “no”s that I got were from folks who were already heavily committed to volunteering for Kerry, or MoveOn, or unions, or local progressive candidates. It might have been less fun if I’d’ve had to deal with any B/C supporters who were inclined to tell me to go stuff myself.

I’m going back on Monday, then will probably do more phonebanking the following week when they call progressive voters to tell them who the pro-choice/ progressive candidates are that’ve been endorsed by PP. It will depend on Curt’s recovery from surgery. He’s finally scheduled to have his left hand done next Wed. When the doctor told him the results of his nerve connectivity test, he said “Yep, you’ve got severe carpal tunnel, all right!” When Curt told him it was getting so bad he’d lose feeling in 4 fingers just from holding a fork, he slapped “ASAP” across his chart.

Now it appears my crippled beloved has acquired an ear infection, probably as a result of the nasty cold he had last week. We’re a little concerned it won’t be gone by the surgery date and they may want to postpone it as a result. We’re more concerned he can’t hear out of his left ear right now (which is extremely painful) and we’re going to the Sting/ Annie Lennox concert tonight. That’s the one thing that really sucks about big tours like this. You have to buy your very expensive tickets months in advance, and then something comes up right at the last minute that can potentially ruin it for you. I guess that’s why I’ve never been to many of them.

But, before the concert, I have my next big OB appt. – with (drumroll please….) the BIG 20 week ultrasound!!! Which means that in just a few short hours, we may very well know whether the river fry is of the colt or filly variety. If he/she cooperates, that is and poses pretty for the camera. For awhile there I had the strong feeling that it was a boy, but lately I’m not so sure. Both great-grandma’s-to-be have gone on the record as wanting a girl. One (who only has 1 other great granddaughter out of 8 kids) says she’d love the baby regardless, of course… but the other has said she refuses to take care of baby boys so I’d better see to it I give her a girl, no matter what. Note: out of 11 greatgrandkids, she’s got 5 that are girls. So she really has no complaint (though she did only have 2 granddaughters out of 8) . Needless to say, I am more than a little annoyed with her blatant anti-male sexism. To the point where I am sorely tempted to say “well if that’s your attitude, you’ll be seeing precious little of the child be it a boy OR a girl”. Now, she herself had 4 kids – 3 girls, and 1 boy (my dad). And she’s never made a secret of her disgust for men/boys (yes, as you’d expect my father has serious issues). In her mind, boys are just dirty and rude and turn into young men who do nothing but get young women “in trouble”. Granted, she herself was knocked up at 17 by a man 11 years her elder (grandpa); and two of her daughters foung themselves in a similar condition at 18. One to an abusive asshole. So she’s biased. But of course she blames the men entirely and not her total unwillingness/inability to discuss sex or birth control in a mature, responsible way with her daughters. Good girls just DON’T before they get married. End of story.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

All quiet on the volcano front. USGS has lowered the threat level. For the time being they don't think a major eruption is "imminent" since seismicity dropped off and stayed dropped over the last 24 hours. But of course, that could change at any time. Personally, I think St. Helens is a bit of a show-off - now that the clouds and rain have moved in what would be the point of erupting when nobody could see it? The scientists are now saying there might not be a bigger eruption - she could just keep puffing away with these minor emissions for days or weeks, instead.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

What - do I need a "Baby on Board" T-shirt?

I have been doing other things besides volcano monitoring (though that is fun). We planted about 100 bulbs on Saturday. Daffodils, Narcissus, Tulips, Crocus and some Amaryllis. They’ll be blooming right around the time the Fry arrives (well, all but the amaryllis). And I’ve volunteered to do some phone banking at Planned Parenthood tomorrow and next Monday (and probably later). I was supposed to go to a MoveOn meeting last night* but went to a flu shot clinic instead. And after reading today’s news about possible vaccine shortages, I’m very glad I did it while there were still shots available. Being pregnated and all I’m in a “high risk” group. Though the nurse damned near demanded I take a pregnancy test to prove myself, and then had to be convinced that yes, indeed I am 19 weeks along, 5 weeks safely past the 1st trimester mark when it’s more dangerous to get the shot than not. She said I just don’t “look” like I’m that far along. Yeah, well – wearing a loose sweater and having plenty of belly fat for the tyke to hide in serves to camouflage that tell-tale baby-belly pretty good. I was sorely tempted to drop trou right in front of the hot pocket freezer in Albertson’s where this converstaion was taking place to show her my hemorrhoids as proof. They should be big enough by now to impress. I've decided I'm not going to worry about the possibility I could have been on the receiving end of one of those contaminated vaccines, though.

*I’m suddenly very popular with the political organizations. After signing up to volunteer online with many of them and not hearing anything for months, MoveOn called me Sunday and PP yesterday. I expect to receive a call from the Kerry camp itself anyday. Apparently I reside in one of the key battleground counties (Clackamas) in Oregon and everybody is gearing up to do mass canvassing. I won’t be pounding the pavement, my last effort with MoveOn back in June/July? About killed my couch potato ass, but now in my 2nd trimester, it really wouldn’t be a good idea. Besides, I’m damned good on the phone. If it weren’t for those annoying ethics, I’d’ve been a kick-ass telemarketer. Or phone-sex operator.
Tuesday morning volcano update: New steam/ash emission currently in progress. She seems to wake up about 9:00 every morning, noon at the latest. Still not anything major, though. Winds are from the south so we're still good. Don't know about Olympia/Tacoma/Seattle, though they are farther away so are probably OK too.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Monday morning volcano update: Another small, minor steam/ash venting today (mostly steam). Not accompanied by significant seismic activity, but the lava dome/ crater has had significant uplifting (50-100 feet) and cracking, indicating something is pushing up from below. Wind is blowing any ash in the plume to the SE, though - away from the Portland metro area. But winds are light, so it shouldn't impact much beyond the Southern Wash. Cascades.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

It aint over yet!

So little steam/ash explosion yesterday from a crack in in the glacier in the crater. But within hours the seismic activity started to "ramp up" again... and then today there was another steam explosion, and then more intense tremor activity which they say is indicating actual magma movement. So they evacuated the 5,000 some folks up at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and have heightened the alert level, to the point where they're saying a bigger eruption is "imminent" and might pose a risk to life and proporty arouund the volcano. Unfortunately, local news aren't too interested in pre-empting their football/baseball games to provide ongoing coverage so I'm not sure what's going on.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Thar She Blows!!!!

Little eruption goin' on... geologists are pleased with themselves. KGW has excellent streaming coverage. (registration required - but they're harmless)

Surprise, Surprise!

They're actually acknowledging that Kerry kicked ass last night! Even Fox! Guess I'd better invest in Hades Snow Blowers about now. It was beautiful, I must admit. Though I was a tad disappointed Kerry didn't take advantage of some of the soft balls Bush threw up in the air to slam it down. I know Johnny doesn't speak "good ole boy" but there's one phrase he should learn: "Wish in one hand and shit* in the other and see which one gets filled first". (*could substitute spit to avoid the R rating). Since every "plan" of Bush's to win the War on Terror revolves around wishing, and hoping and people just "knowing" things....

"Q: Do you believe the election of Senator Kerry on November the 2nd would increase the chances of the U.S. being hit by another 9/11-type terrorist attack?

BUSH: No, I don't believe it's going to happen. I believe I'm going to win, because the American people know I know how to lead. I've shown the American people I know how to lead. I have -- I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand. People out there listening know what I believe. And that's how best it is to keep the peace"

Naaah... we don't need no stinking guards for our chemical plants! We don't need no more cops to keep an eye out for suspicious characters, or more Arabic-speaking FBI agents to listen to tapes. We don't need nobody to inspect the 95% of cargo containers coming in our ports for possible explosives! We certainly don't need anybody to x-ray cargo that goes on planes.... Faith in our leader's leadership ability is all we need to keep us safe! Tell that to the kids in Iraq with no armor. When faced with bullets and carbombs and exploding planes, all we need to do is repeat the following mantra: "May Lord Bush keep me safe" and a magical protective energy force field will instantly envelop you. Phew! I feel so much safer now!