Tuesday, January 31, 2006


This is my dog, BoBo. It's not the original name in his papers, but BoBo stuck, and BoBo he will forever be. Because he's a purebred poodle (a small standard) I suppose I should spell it BeauxBeaux, but he's not in the least bit pretentious and neither am I.

I did a lot of careful research before I bought him 2 1/2 years ago. (I only wish I could say that concerning the second dog, a small demon-posessed malti-poo. Don't ever buy a malti-poo. Do yourself a favor and buy a large, inbred gerbil first and feed it crack so that you can get an idea about what you're getting into. I am seriously considering getting rid of the malti-poo, and I am crazy about animals. That's how bad she is.)

I had always thought purebred poodles were spazzy and difficult. I was so very wrong. He is extremely smart, knows how to spell, is highly interractive and playful, and very loyal and cuddly. He is truly another child in this family. But he also is neurotic.

One day we were taking the dogs for a walk the day after a road crew had gone through and re-marked the roads in white paint. I live in an urban area, so I'm talking about simple dividing lines, nothing fancy. I had the demonic malti-poo, and SaurKid had BoBo.

Suddenly SaurKid was dragged to a halt. "C'mon," I said, "what's holding you up?"

"BoBo won't move!" he said, surprised.

"Oh, let me try," I said, grabbing the leash and tugging. BoBo was stopped dead and the more I tugged, the more he angled back. Who woulda thought a dog could dig into asphalt like that??? Finally, with SaurKid pushing and me pulling, we were able to get him to move. He jumped up and skittered like an old maid over the new white line.

"Wait a minute," I said, "I think he's scared of the line!"

We tried to get him to walk over it again, and the same thing happened. BoBo had the most amazing hangdog expression this time. We laughed so hard until... we realized the entire road was full of white lines. It was a long walk.

Given time, BoBo finally overcame his fear of white lines. Since then, we've discovered that he's terribly frightened of anything that is normally not in his path. This means that you could place a business card in the hallway, and he wouldn't be able to pass it. When the kitchen was re-tiled, he couldn't step onto the new floor for a week. But now he has a new fear (among others).

BoBo sleeps with me at night (he's a very clean dog), and my bed was always very high off the ground, with drawers underneath it for clothing. We always had the same bedtime routine: I would give him a quick once-over to make sure he was his usual immaculate self, and toss him up on the bed. In the morning, I'd pick him up and place him on the floor so that he could go outside.

We recently overhauled the bedroom and lowered the bed onto a standard mattress frame. Last night was our first night in the lowered bed. I got into bed and patted the covers. "C'mon, BoBo!" I said. BoBo sat there, confused. He had never been able to get up into the tall bed before, and although he now could do so easily, he ran about the bed, looking at it from all angles.

It was quite comical. Here's this dog who could now easily step onto the bed, and he's running about it helplessly.

Finally, after a great deal of encouragement, he clawed his way up the bed just as you'd see a wolf scrabbling up a sheer cliff. Oh brother.

This morning, I got out of bed and called for him to jump down. He looked at me so helplessly that I gave in and lowered him to the ground, as I always have.

We often prevent ourselves from doing the achievable because we have this preconceived notion that it's not obtainable. BoBo is a classic illustration of this.

I wonder how long it will take for him to figure this out.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Florida's Worst Public Defender?

Quickie Update: The baby rat has passed onto it's just reward in rat heaven. It was looking even punier and I did the right thing and took it to an animal clinic where they put it to sleep. Whew. I hope I don't encounter another one. My overactive conscience has had enough of a work-out.

Florida's Worst Public Defender?

Be glad you're not poor, living in Florida, and assigned Charley Demosthenous. If you don't want to wade through the article, allow me to summarize it:

This practicing attorney had to beg his professors for Ds, has ADD, is a walking nightmare of disorganization, and failed the bar 3 times. He has a great deal of personal problems, including a poor self-image (which he apparently is entitled to). Heck, even his dad kept telling him to quit and go work at Lowes.

He is now working at the Public Defender's office because "the bosses at the Public Defender's Office love an underdog."

Puh-leeze. The love him because he's cheap. One of my best friends is a prominent attorney here. And (as she's said many times) every attorney knows that if you're a total loser, you can always go into public law.

How sad if, when everyone is guaranteed a right to be represented by an attorney, you're innocent but too poor to hire Johnny Cochran and you get this schlub.

I think this is supposed to be a 'feel-good' article, but I'm not sure about how the reporter was positioning the story. After all the guy wins some cases, right? Yet even he admits that the only reason he wins them is due to the intense coaching he gets from his boss, and "often, with a young client's fate in his hands, he still feels like he's fumbling blind through a labyrinth."

The Public Defender's office is technically upholding the letter of the law by providing this guy to the public. But I'd rather be represented by Bozo the Clown.

However, there is good news: If he represented you, and you wish to get a retrial, all you need is this article in your hand and that reporter in your witness box. It will be easy to prove incompetancy.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Baby Wild Rat

Last night we found a baby roof rat caught in one of the glue traps. Any sensible person would have killed it humanely (such as wrapped it up and put it in the freezer, which is a relatively painless death).

I started to... but it was 2 weeks old and cute, and it looked so helpless and miserable.

So, we rescued it and have been cleaning all the glue off it's little face. We also gave it milk through a syringe.

Wild rats make rotten pets, so it will need to be released outdoors as soon as possible. Meanwhile, other rats are being poisoned because we simply can't encourage them. It's very likely the mother ingested poison and is dead, thus leaving the babies to fend for themselves. Rats are nothing more than cockroaches in cuter packaging. They carry disease and can ruin possessions. I tell myself all this repeatedly, and it's all true.

In India they venerate rats, and there are temples devoted to their care and feeding. My rational western mind thinks this is idiotic.

The most famous temple is at Karni Mata. It's a little weird; the devotees feed the rats milk, foods, and sweets and then eat whatever is left over. Strangely, no one has ever caught a disease this way (so they claim). I wish I could send the baby there, instead. I'm such a sap.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hottentots & Spaetzle

I threw some people yesterday with my post mentioning spaetzle and Hottentots. Note: Hottentots don't eat spaetzle.

Hottentot: I understand now that this word is considered 'derogatory' by some, because it is a generalized term for wild savage. I wonder when cannibal will become a derogatory word, only to be replaced by something politically correct such as "Indigenous People Who Prefer Eating People: (IPWPEP)". Anyway, I apologize to all Hottentots, who apparently like being called Khoikhoi now (which sounds like a type of fish). In another 100 years, Khoikhoi will become politically incorrect.

...But I wonder: has anyone gone out and surveyed the Hottentots to see if they're truly offended? Or is this merely offensive to the fawning anthropologists who study them? Incidentally, some day anthropologists will wish to rename themselves, too. I suggest "Non-Indigenous People Who Prefer Studying Hottentots: (NIPWPSH)".

Spaetzle: a.k.a. Spetzle. "spaetzle is a dish of tiny noodles or dumplings made with flour, eggs, water or milk, salt and sometimes nutmeg." Personally, I don't know who would put nutmeg in spaetzle. Only a Hottentot Khoikhoi would do that.

Spaetzle is actually a germanic dish. It's used as a rice or potato substitute. (Some of you may be surprised to discover that I'm not German with a name like Saurkraut. But I grew up with all sorts of cultures and have developed a great fondness for different foods.)

My Way To Prepare Spaetzle: toss fresh spaetzle in a skillet with melted butter and saute it. Trust me, it's heavenly. If you can't find some, the link will take you to a spaetzle-worshipping site where you can learn to make it.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Conversation At Dinner

Family sits down to dinner. Dishes are passed about and a little small talk is exchanged. Everyone helps themselves to bratwurst, spaetzle, and salad and settles in. Kid starts smacking loudly, chewing with mouth open.

Dad (to kid): Stop chewing with your mouth open! That is nasty! How many times do we have to tell you?
Kid: looks sheepish. Begins to chew dramatically with mouth closed in an effort to impress everyone with his attempt. Dad begins coughing behind a napkin, trying to control it.
Mom (to Dad): You're sick again? What color phlegm are you coughing up?
Dad (grimacing): Must you? Between you and the kid, I'll never have an appetite again. I feel like I'm on Fear Factor. What is this really... (peering suspiciously at the bratwurst)... horse penis?

Family breaks into laughter. Mom assures him it's bratwurst.

Dad (to kid): You just pulled your chair up to the table again. Don't do that more than once; when you sit down the first time. Now you've put your greasy hands all over the new upholstery. And you never know what's under a seat when you're in a restaurant; boogers, chewing gum...
Kid: (now concerned) And what if that happens? What am I supposed to do?
Dad: (friendly sarcasm) Whaddya mean, what are you supposed to do? Save it for dessert! Then you can help yourself to whatever's under every chair, for all I care.
Mom (to kid): Put your napkin in your lap, dear. You are not a Hottentot.

Family eats in silence for a short while.

Mom (to kid): Try the spaetzle, hon. It's very good. I know you'll like it!
Kid: Ohhh, I'm sooo full, I couldn't. May I be excused?
Dad: No! You've barely eaten a thing. You've only had a couple bites of salad, and you've hardly touched your horse penis!

Remainder of family dinnertime deteriorates rapidly.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Things That Alarm Me: Some of the Encroachments Upon Our Liberties

As promised, I will now tell you of some of the things that go bump in the night. These things will keep you awake at night, if you fully comprehend what they mean.

The Bogeyman

First, feel free to go to the Dept. of Justice argument as to why they claim it's perfectly legal for President Bush to wiretap anyone without a court order. Try not to fall asleep. I would also recommend a very objective editorial today, titled Questions About Wiretaps Require Answers, Not Criticism.

But when you boil it all down, the bones of the problem remain: if the President of the United States is allowed to wiretap anyone at any time as long as we're in a war situation, then it would behoove an unethical President to always be at war; even if it's with a small tribe in Africa. He would then be allowed to pursue his powers, unchecked.

For those of you who consider George Bush a saint, this may be no problem. But, say the next president who comes into power is diametrically opposed to you. For Republicans, let's say this bogeyman is Hillary Rodham Clinton or Ted Kennedy. For Democrats, he'll be Pat Robertson. Or let's take it a step further and say that in 20 years, the first Muslim fundamentalist is elected. ...Now how do you like giving the President free reign?

Don't think it's not possible. If we eventually end up with multiple parties (as there are in some other countries) we could end up with multiple candidates - let's say 5, for this example. That means the vote is diluted and suddenly all a particular candidate would need would be a little more than 1/5 of the vote to win!

Please don't forget that the original founders always felt there was a serious need for checks and balances. If a President was to have complete authority under certain situations (which could be expanded to unlimited authority) then we would have a classical monarchy, wouldn't we?

The Big Bad Wolf

I don't know what you're seeing in your little neck of the woods, but we have some strange goings-on over here. Florida seems to be the Destination of Choice for terrorists, an ignoble distinction at best, and something that the Economic Development Board isn't really touting on their website. Nah, we're not the Middle East by a long shot, but we do seem to attract them as much as Madonna attracts the news media.

Let me preface what I'm about to say by telling you that I don't embrace terrorists. I see them as scuzzy, opportunistic swine that are indulging in hate crimes just as the Nazis did, and with the same self-justifications. In fact, I'm a lot more hardline that Bush is. If *I* had been President during the entire Iraqi scandal (with the same information he was given) I would have most likely bombed the heck outta Iraq (not stopping until I got Saddam & Sons) and then withdrawn.

I will be completely truthful and tell you that I don't care in the least about civilian casualties in other countries (though I would attempt to limit them). All I care about is protecting the U.S. If another dictatorship that is anti-U.S. arises, then "rinse, repeat," as the shampoo bottles say. I say this, because the United States is not the world's policemen. We cannot save each and every country, nor can we afford to. Go ahead and call me calloused. I am pragmatic and I would get the job done with a minimum of cost in American lives and dollars. I don't have the time or patience to be a "bleeding heart".

But here is a frightening article about a man (Sameeh Hammoudeh) who was accused of terrorism locally, locked away for almost three years, and finally acquitted by jury after a 6-month long trial. After that trial, he was kept another 8 weeks because "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they did not agree with the jury's decision."

Hammoudeh says "I don't understand. Even if you are acquitted, the government is like wild wolves picking at you - this in a country with people full of love and mercy."

Could Hammoudeh still be guilty? Sure! After all, O.J. was guilty and was acquitted by jury. However, O.J. was then immediately released, regardless. The government cannot be allowed to make their own choices as to how to treat someone, if the laws of the land have been satisfied.

Hammoudeh is moving back to the West Bank (in the Middle East).

The Inquisition

We're against censorship, right? We don't approve of banning books (as they did during the Inquisition), right? I have always firmly believed that everyone should be allowed full access to most materials unless they're children and the materials are blatantly sexual or violent. After all, if your point is the correct point, it should be easy to argue - so why would you be threatened? And if your enemy's material is accessible to everyone, it's so much easier to refer to when you deliver the stinging death's blow to their ideas.

Lewis Carroll very effectively poked fun at the government and the practices he didn't approve of. So did Jonathan Swift in "Modest Proposal", where he sarcastically proposed that the poor were such a burden that the only thing they were good for was producing babies. Therefore, instead of continuing to aid them, we should encourage them to sell their babies as food to be eaten (and he suggested they might be quite tasty). It was a powerful piece.

Neither writer would have been very effective if they were making fun of something that no one knew about, due to censorship.

And America is the land of the free, and free-speech must be treasured by all. Right? Wrong, according to people who are opposed to exposing children to the concept of Intelligent Design (ID).

(Please note: This is not the time or place for a thorough argument of ID and I can't enter into one. That will have to wait for another time. And ID is not creationism. There are plenty of creationism texts out there, but ID is simply evidence which shows the flaws in evolution. Some people mistakenly confuse ID with creationism. I am here to tell you that the two are viewed as separate entities to scholars, if not the common man - although opponents to ID would like to paint ID as a thinly-disguised attempt to promote religion. Additionally, ID really addresses the Origin of Life questions, and doesn't discount further evolution, at least to some degree.)

I wouldn't want to see a poorly thought-out ID textbook in the schools any more than I would want a poorly executed evolutionary one. But to completely rule out all ID textbooks (when they are not promoting a particular religion, but simply ideas that are contrary to the concept of pure evolution) is as wrong as banning Catcher in the Rye.

If ID is so idiotic, then fine! Allow full access to the books so that you can easily discount the concept. If you continue to scream for censorship, it is not only hypocritical; it is also apparently a sign of fear.

Please don't bother telling me that a belief in God is "silly." We might think you atheists are a pretty silly lot, too. But if it's so "silly", it is surely nothing to be afraid of. In fact, if you are opposed to a particular ID book, I would highly recommend you sharpen your pencil and start a counter-argument to it. You'll easily find a publisher, I can guarantee it. Make sure it holds up to scientific scrutiny; that's all *I* ask.

Check it out! I think I've just published a post that NO one will like! All I ask is that you stifle the knee-jerk reaction that we all can get sometimes, and really mull over my points first.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sheet Music for God of Concrete

Please read today's post, which is below. This is just a brief note (for those who were interested) to let you know that I now have the sheet music posted (special thanks to my parents, who can find anything).

The Dangerous Encroachment Upon Our Liberties

Bear with me. I know it's large, but in easy-to-swallow bite-sized chunks. Mmmm!

No one has ever called me a liberal when it comes to politics. I am a classic conservative; a Reagan Republican. Since the early 1990s, a new breed of politician has emerged: The NeoCon. The NeoCons are Conservatives of Convenience only. President George Bush is a NeoCon.

NeoCons have no set of beliefs or standards that I can discover. The Republicans used to despise Bill Clinton for saying one thing while doing another. Sadly, the NeoCons have this perfected. They are the puppeteers: a sock puppet on one hand, distracting us; while the other hand is feeling us up for our wallet.

NeoCons happily stand before the blue collar worker and tell him, "Hey! We're one of you! We believe in God, Mom, and The American Worker!" Then they hop on a jet and are at a white collar meeting hours later, where they say "Hey! We're one of you! We believe in Making Money, Cheap Labor, and Big Business!" The blue collars aren't educated enough to catch on to this, and the white collars don't care.

I am so deeply saddened. At one time the Republican party actually stood for something. Whether you respect my views or not, they are consistent and well thought-out. But this crop of NeoCons is the most scattered, unethical group of politicos I've ever seen.

I am so tired of hearing people dismiss Christianity because that is the particular card that President Bush plays. He is no more Christian than a buddhist is. Christianity is one of his sock puppets. A true Christian lives by his faith. I don't care how many times he's seen going into church, or how many pious prayers he prays; his actions speak louder than his words.

I've heard some Christians ask me how I can dare question Bush's Christianity. How can they dare to believe it unquestioningly? (Read my post about faux Christians if you'd like more information.)

It says in the Bible that a Christian respects the laws of the land. And I think the obvious corollary to that is that a Christian legally changes the laws of the land if he disagrees with them (if that's at all possible). Granted the American Revolutionaries didn't respect British law, but you will have to agree that it was a massive group of people who asked for their freedom, and very nicely at first, may I add. People often forget that. But technically even the Revolutionaries weren't right, just lucky.

In Bush's case, it is one man who has decided to ignore the law at his convenience. OK, I'll grant you that there are other NeoCons in Congress that aid and abet him (and they should be held accountable as well) but Bush has spear-headed this.

Bush has looked the other way on illegal aliens (until pressed repeatedly to stop it) because businesses make great profits when they can pay illegals even less than minimum wage, and don't have to pay for any taxes or benefits. Instead, the American worker (who may have already lost a job overseas or to an illegal alien) is paying the higher cost in taxes to cover the illegals who haven't paid a dime into the system but have their hands out for welfare, education, and medical benefits. The blue collar worker is losing money due to Bush's encouragement of illegal aliens!

The ethical business owner is also losing money. I own two businesses, with all the employees legally employed. So I am paying not only their wages, but roughly an additional 20% in taxes on top of that. How can I be competitive with someone who is paying their employees under the table?

But even more serious is the dangerous encroachment upon our liberties.

I hear so many people say scornfully, "Oh The Patriot Act is no big deal. I'm willing to sacrifice something to be safe" or "*I* have nothing to hide! Who cares if they're eavesdropping on my telephone and email conversations?"

It isn't a question of what you have to hide, or what sacrifices you are willing to make. Instead, it is a question of what we, as a nation, are willing to pass down to our children and future governments which we know nothing about. That's what the Founding Fathers worried so much about, and that's why they crafted a Constitution which is now being violated repeatedly. They didn't want to leave any loopholes that would allow a despotic government to arise.

As I wrote in another blog recently, we're opening the door to surveillance for no reason whatsoever. What if the next government (or even a government 10-20 years down the line) is a purely fascist government and decides that a particular group is a threat (even if they're not)?

What if the Nazis, or a similar group, rise again? And what if they have the ability to tap and snoop about in anyone's lives (due to the precedents we're setting right now) using our modern technology and laws against us? And what if they took an unreasoning hatred, once again, toward gays? Or Jews? Or blacks? Or whites (who will be a minority by 2008)?

If you think it can't happen, think again. Historians and scholars know that history is always due to repeat itself if we don't prepare and watch for it. Sadly, mankind doesn't change as much as we'd like. If you don't believe me, listen to the neighbors and friends of the serial killers who always say "Boy howdy, am *I* surprised!" The mask we present to the world is often not representative of what is really inside. Don't fool yourself into thinking otherwise.

My father is a scholar who has always been fascinated by WW2 history. When I was a little girl, I once asked him why most of the gays and Jews stuck around in Germany for as long as they did. It seemed to me that they were just cattle waiting for the slaughter! "Because they never thought it could happen to them," answered my father. And it happened so frighteningly quickly.

The WW2 generation is gone now. We cannot let the lessons learned leave with them.

The NeoCons may have good motives now (or they may say that they do) but most of the old-line conservatives are truly troubled over this. A violation of constitutional rights is not justifiable for any means. I'll give some examples which trouble me tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pet Possums and Pet Rats

A couple of you have asked where the pet possums went. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here are the original posts with pictures: Look What We Found!, Update on Elvira & Pie (Pie is the possum), Pics of Pie, and Peanut (the second possum).

The vet who told me that they made wonderful pets and were smarter than dogs was very mistaken. The Scientist (my famous scientific family member) warned me that the vet was completely off the mark, but I didn't listen. They bonded to me, but to no one else in the family. And when you have animals with lots of teeth and powerful jaws, that's kind of detrimental.

They're also very dirty animals, and I had to work very hard to keep ahead of them. I hate to walk into a house where you can tell someone has animals.

One night (about a month before my surgery) I was holding Pie and watching TV. I grew very sleepy (I had to take muscle relaxants a lot then) so I asked The Other Half to take the possum and put her in her room (she lived in one of the three bathrooms, in a nice pagoda). By this time she'd grown to be the size of a small housecat, incidentally. So, the Other Half disconnected her, and she went wild. She started hissing and thrashing and snapping and it really freaked him out (he'd taken her away from "Mom", you see).

I took her back (he was worried she'd bite me too, which was very sweet of him, but I knew better). I had to go sit up with her in the bathroom to calm her down and get her to let go of my t-shirt.

Peanut was tamer, but he hadn't become an adolescent yet. And the more I read up on them, the more I realized that these simply aren't animals that can become pets, no matter what the vet said.

Knowing that I was about to go in for major surgery and wouldn't be able to care for either one of them, and that no one else could, I decided to find a possum rescue society. I donated the two possums and a wad of cash to take care of them until they'd been rehabbed.

The woman who took them informed me rather sniffily that anyone who thought that possums could become pets was out of her mind. When I defended myself by saying they'd been checked over by a vet and he'd recommended them for pets, she went into a ranting tirade that went on for about 10 minutes. I was happy to escape.

She keeps me updated and tells me they're doing fine, and will be released in the spring. They are currently learning to fend for themselves, as possums do.

Pet Rats

I don't wish to contribute to any rat prejudices that are out there, so I'd like to go on the record saying that domesticated pet rats are usually wonderful pets. They are the same to wild rats as dogs are to wolves.

I grew up with lab rats as pets. They're much smarter and more responsive than any other rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, etc.) Rats are very clannish and get quite attached to their owners. They can learn to do tricks, they learn their names, and come when they're called. They're also much more hygienic than the other rodents and develop very unique personalities.

A lot of people are turned off by the tail, until they learn that the reason a rat has that tail is for balance and cooling. The tail acts as a little radiator, which releases heat (since rats can't sweat).

I currently own a pet rat (named Pele, after the Hawaiian goddess). I rescued her from a pet store when I found out that she'd been someone's pet but had been left behind because the girl was moving. Pele was destined to be snake food. She was young and, as I feared, pregnant. She had 12 babies two days before Christmas (in these pictures the babies are a couple of weeks old). I'm making arrangements with a local pet store to sell them as pets (they're hand-raised and therefore more expensive than 'feeder rats').

So, if your kids start asking for a hamster, you really should consider a domestic rat as an alternative pet.

Monday, January 23, 2006

RATS: Apocalypse Now!!!

I am close to hallucinatory, I've lost so much sleep. It started out so simply.

Saur's Diary Entries:

Dear Diary,

Day 1: I heard some squeaking in the walls. I think it's a mouse or maybe even a roof rat. What if it's been trapped in the wall? If I hear it again tomorrow, I'll try to rescue it and put it outdoors.

Day 7: They must be coming down the walls from the attic, because I hear them in a couple places now. I guess I'll have to consider exterminating them if they don't go away. What a shame. Rats and mice are so dang cute. I hope they leave quickly. I'm so busy I just don't have time for this.

Day 14: The chewing is getting more persistant, and I think they're getting into the kitchen from under the kickplates to get to the dogfood. No problem. They'll go back to where they nest at night (probably the attic) and we'll put traps up there. I wonder if I can find any 'friendly' traps. You know, the kind that don't kill the rats? Then I can let them go in nearby woods.

Day 15: "Let me try to catch them," offered my boyfriend, sympathetically. So tonight he lay in wait, sitting on the top of the kitchen counter with a laundry basket, waiting to drop it on the unsuspecting offenders. He didn't catch one, but he scared it so badly that it ran into the utility room. He chased it down, and closed the door so it couldn't get back into the kitchen. From the utility room, I heard a muffled scrabbling, and then he called out "Hey hon, how high can these things jump?"

"I dunno," I said. "But they're wild! Don't forget they bite, too!"

There was another scuffle and a scream. "I'd say they jump about 4 feet high," he eventually called back.

We left the rat to find its way back home. I hope it hasn't started nesting in my laundry.

Day 16: They are chewing everywhere in the kitchen walls at night. Thankfully, they'll stop when they hear me or the dogs. I've found out that there's no easy way to get rid of these things. Poison will cause them to die up there and stink, or wander down here searching for water. Poison gas will seep into the house, and I'll still end up with stinking rats. I'll hide the dogfood and start putting out traps that will snap their necks. I hate to do it, but I'm buying them today. I'm sad to think about their cute little faces, but they're still pests and I can't turn the house over to them.

Day 17: Good gravy!!! They've actually started chewing into the pantry from the ceiling!!! I went into the cupboard this morning and found little rat pellets and fine plaster dust everywhere. When I couldn't find the source, I looked up to see... 2 holes in my ceiling!!! And to make it even worse, I put out the traps and they snapped every single one of them and then ate the peanut butter out of them!!! How big are these things??? I'm getting bigger traps today.

Day 18: I now understand why they were able to snap the traps so easily and escape. What I have is a breed of mutant rats the size of guinea pigs!!! I was going by the kitchen last night, and glanced in there to see if the new traps I'd bought worked at all. And what do you know, I saw my first rat! Holy cow is it big! I'm talking radioactive-waste-big! It took one look at me and dove under the cupboard kickplate! I don't want to block up the kickplate, because I'm hoping that I'll catch them in the traps down here, when I can get them. That makes sense, doesn't it??? I'm not sure; since I've lost so much sleep, I can't think clearly anymore. The endless chewing keeps me up all night, and reverberates through my head.

Day 19: I bought a $50 trap which is supposed to electrocute them. That's fine, if they choose to go into the trap and get electrocuted. But so far, there are no volunteers. I've also put out glue traps, but they keep avoiding them. In fact, the only thing that's stumbled into the glue traps is my poodle. I'm afraid that with my lack of sleep, I may end up electrocuting myself one night when I get up for a glass of water. The warnings on the trap are rather dire. Perhaps I'll call the exterminators...

Day 22: I thought I'd scared them all away, I really had. Everything was so nice and silent, for two days. "I guess they know we're on to them," I said (somewhat boastfully). But today I was reaching for a towel in my linen cupboard and found it was covered with rat crap. They've chewed a hole into my linen closet!!! The old Halloween wig (which was always at the back) has been dragged down to the floor and desecrated. Perhaps they thought it was a high-priced rat whore. All I know is I can never again wear a wig that has had carnal knowlege with a rat. That's it! All the traps go down in the bathroom tonight. Even the dogs are afraid of them. They don't growl anymore...they just avoid any places the rats are.

Day 23: Silly me. I forgot that these are no ordinary rats. They are the friggin' Rats of Nimh, they're so damned smart. They laugh at my traps, and simply push them aside to get to what they want. That's right!!! They push the traps aside!!! I found the traps all moved around this morning, as if the rats were having a giant game of shuffleboard with them. Why the hell not? They can do anything else! I'll be lucky if they're not typing sonnets on my keyboard next!!!

Day 24: I woke at 5:30 AM to hearing the most god-awful chewing I've ever heard. The rats have gone and rented tiny rat chainsaws, I swear. I couldn't sleep, and ended up in the kitchen, banging on the walls and rattling the pans occasionally. Every time I walked away, the chainsaw would start up again!!! They're not scared of me anymore. I'm sure there are rat comedians who are using me in their stand-up routines. I think they're trying to chew open a bunch of entrances so I'll never be able to stop them. I'm sure they've got friggin' blueprints down there. The dogs are definately afraid of them, but they're more afraid of me since I locked them in the cabinets this morning to try to scare the rats away. I'm talking to myself a lot now, and I'm sore from pounding on the walls so much. I hope I didn't dislodge anything in my neck. Today I call the exterminators!!! This means war!!!

c. 2006

love sonnet
by rat

i luv all tipes an kinds of food
but cheddir puts me in the mood
an when i sawd that bootiful wig
i went an danced a little jig
but now im looking for the rite kinda girl
thatll make this poor rodents hart spin an wirl
so if yer intrigued just rite an say why
remember kats an dogs need not apply

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My Favorite Hymn

I think on a Sunday it's appropriate to share my favorite hymn with you. I first heard it when I was a little girl (in the 70s) and I fell in love with it. The music has a somewhat celtic lilt to it. It's rare, and hard to find in most hymnals. I doubt I'll ever hear it sung in church again. You might say it's the Intellectual Christian's Hymn (yes, it is possible to put "intellectual" and "christian" together in the same sentence - just unusual). It was written in 1971:

God of Concrete
by Frederick R.C. Clarke and Richard Granville Jones

God of concrete, God of steel,
God of piston and of wheel,
God of pylon, God of steam,
God of girder and of beam,
God of atom, God of mine:
All the world of power is thine.

Lord of cable, Lord of rail,
Lord of freeway and of mail,
Lord of rocket and of flight,
Lord of soaring satellite,
Lord of lightning's flashing line:
All the world of speed is thine.

Lord of science, Lord of art,
Lord of map and graph and chart,
Lord of physics and research,
Word of Bible, faith of church,
Lord of sequence and design:
All the world of truth is thine.

God whose glory fills the earth,
Gave the universe its birth,
Loosed the Christ with Easter's might,
Saves the world from evil's blight,
Claims us all by grace divine:
All the world of love is thine.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Overlooking Outlook
...and... Labelmaker: Part Deux

I am so overwhelmed right now. There are so many problems that I'm juggling, that I'm exhausted both mentally and physically. I'm falling asleep early, and hating the mornings, and that's just not like me.

"The straw that broke the camel's back" was when my Microsoft Outlook froze up last night (which is my business email account). It turns out that if you end up with too many messages, it automatically freezes and (according to the internet sites I've visited) good luck trying to fix it.

I've been getting a lot of messages lately from very important sounding people like "The Grand Vizier Ahum Poobah Rasqualli The Third" who are desperately begging for me to send them lots of money because their small island country is in sore need of it. And it's amazing how many Grand Viziers there are out there. So all these Grand Viziers have been clogging my email these last two days and I just couldn't stay ahead of the buggars.

Spam. Dontcha love it?

I tried deciphering a couple of websites about the problem. They make it sound so easy! "Just use the fts.rpq file to clean it up. Then do an amansuter patch on the zicombapre file in the ascubre.pst part of your Outlook program..." See? Easy as pie! If you're fluent in GeekSpeak, that is.

I finally gave up, turned off my computer, laced on my sneakers, threw a leash on one of the dogs, and started walking toward my parents' home. Sure I have a car! But I needed to walk.

My parents live only a couple of miles away, so it wouldn't have been much of a trek at all. But it was dark outside and by the time I got halfway there, I realized that there was very little light and lots of woodsy areas around. Being a sensible girl, I called my parents at this point to tell them that I was coming. And being sensible parents, they drove out to get me.

So I ended up in my parents' kitchen last night, venting. Most people would have been shocked or made sympathetic noises, but suddenly Dad started howling with laughter and soon we all were hysterical.

I love my parents. They put life in perspective. And thank heavens Dad is a computer genius. He's coming over on Sunday to try to fix it.

My Mom's Response to My Labelling Blog

This is from Mom the Labelmaker for your blog friends. (What can I say, Cutie? You've got writing talent. Time you wrote a book.)

More labeling ideas to think about:

Funny, as I was teaching two Bible studies just this week, I brought up this verse: "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the good and the evil." (Prov 15:3) I said, "That's a verse my children probably remember from when they were young. I tucked it in the container of chocolate bits to remind them it was off limits!"

Saur's Response

Yeah. We remember the verse. It was on the little slip of paper we kept pushing to the side to get to the chocolate. ;o)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Hunting Dove

Yesterday I drove 1 1/2 hours to go visit a business located in central Florida. For those of you non-Floridians, this means that there is poorer cell phone reception, lots of cows, farms, dirt roads, and tractors. Yup, we have left civilization behind. Watch out for the natives.

Actually, Floridians are a kindly lot, and pretty civilized, wherever you go. But there is definately a 'redneck' feel in central Florida; there's no getting around it. Can I get an "amen" from my fellow Floridians?

A central Floridian is what you might call "The Salt of the Earth." They like hunting and fishing, have a faint southern accent, are very charming, vote Republican, go to church even if they don't believe it, still say "Yes ma'am", and open doors for you. If I tried to open the door for them, they'd be stymied.

The group I met with was mixed. It is owned by a couple wealthy central Floridians who went away to school, are very educated and interesting, but... you can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. So, of course, the conversation turned to hunting.

Whenever I think of hunting, I think of Elmer Fudd. "C'mon, Wover! Let's go hunting!" Perhaps that cartoon shaped my entire feeling about hunting. I've never been at peace with it.

However, I have a brother who went inexplicably redneck for a while, and took up hunting. We'd argue about it constantly, but he pointed out that as long as the animals are being used for meat and fur, what was wrong with it? And I had to agree with him. Still, the entire idea leaves me squeamish and you won't find me out huntin' wit' da boys. I have this small suspicion that hunting scars the soul, just as working in a meat-processing plant would. There is nothing to back that feeling, though. In fact, the hunters I know are usually much better people than the sissified lounge lizards and city boys back here.

During my conversation yesterday, I discovered that there are actually hunting parties put together to hunt dove in Mexico. That was a new one on me!

Apparently Mexican farmers were so riddled by doves (which are considered to be a pest akin to rats there) that they were poisoning them left and right. There were reports of some farms where dead, poisoned doves were piled as high as a two-story building and set on fire, to prevent rotting and contagion.

Yet dove meat is apparently a tasty treat, so someone put two-and-two together and actually got American hunters to pay to spend time in Mexico and do their pest control for them. Who said that Mexicans are stupid?

Intrigued, I asked for more details. They told me that hunters only keep dove breasts (that's all you can get out of dove) and that its a tender, purple-colored meat. They tell me you can get roughly two bites out of each breast, and it takes about 6 doves to feed a hungry boy. Before you turn your nose up at this, remember that they used to eat pigeon in the 1800s and before, which is closely related, and it was considered just fine to do so.

They also donate any doves that they don't take back home with them to the hungry families in town, so the town is now thriving.

The Mexicans in that area have invented a tasty way to prepare dove, as well, and talking about it made their mouths water. They take a breast, place a piece of cheese, a jalapeno pepper, and some spices on it, roll it up and hold it together with a toothpick, and grill it. They tell me it's close to a religious experience for a hunter.

This summer they're going to Mexico to hunt for the first time. And they've promised to bring me some dove.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I have grown very fond of the saying "TMI!" (Too Much Information). I wish I'd known it when I was in my teens and early twenties. I seem to have a persona that makes people want to relax a little too much around me, and before you know it, I know their deepest and darkest secrets.

For instance, I once dated a guy who, on the second date, broke down and confessed to me that he had been molested repeatedly by his brothers and uncles, yet he'd never told anyone else. Too late to say "TMI!" but the word bounced about in my brain. I'm sorry if this sounds cold and calloused, but I choose to not be a counselor in my personal life (with the exception of advice, when it's asked for). And I did what I'd recommend to any other woman: I ran like hell.

Of course this brings up the whole, sticky "At what point do you level with your date about (insert problem here)?" Not on the second date, I can tell you. Unless you served time.

When I was 18 and just newly wed, I had one of the ultimate TMI conversations of my life... with my mother-in-law.

My mother-in-law had been very kindly to me, and we got along famously at first. She taught me how to cross-stitch and do other crafts, and I saw her as almost more of a friend than a "mom". She appeared to be a very relaxed and easy-going woman until one day with no warning, she asked...

"Do you guys have oral sex?!?!"

WHAM! It hit me out of the blue, clear out from left field. I stared at her stunned, for a moment. "Um, why do you ask?" I said hesitantly, my 18-year-old brain running about in circles, screaming.

"Because it's a sin, you know," she said very seriously, now quite alarmed about it. And the woman wasn't even Catholic!

What I should have said at that point was "You want TMI!" or "Show me in scripture where it says oral sex is a sin!" or even "I'm having a heart attack! Call 911!" But instead I said weakly, "Oh, well then it's good that we don't..."

The other time she got me was the day we were discussing my upcoming childbirth. "When it's all over, you might think about asking them to not sew you up as tight," she said casually. "I don't know if my son is as big as his father, but I asked my doctor to do that after my hysterectomy. We have a much better sex life now that I can accomodate him easier."

And to make it even worse, my mother-in-law looked like Buddy Hacket and my father-in-law looked like Don Knotts with a worried little monkey face. To this day, I hope they don't have a sex life.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006


My life has come full-circle and I am my mother.

When we were kids, my mother grew tired of telling us repeatedly "don't take my tools and not return them", "don't eat the chocolate chips in the pantry", "don't eat these cookies, they're for company tomorrow", etc. If we did it, and she called us on it, we would plead ignorance.

Overnight, the house was transformed into what appeared to be House O' Idiots. If you violated one of her rules, and you qualified as being That Stupid, out came the labelmaker: click, whir, click, whir.

Suddenly every tupperware container that was off-limits bore labels like "Don't Eat!" with an artsy little skull and crossbones sketched below in black permanent marker. Every tool or item that was off-limits was labelled "Mom's. Do Not Touch." Mom's biggest problem (and now mine) is how the spoons went missing. She would've labelled those, if the labels would've held up in the dishwasher. Alas, they hadn't invented waterproof labels yet.

And now here we are in 2006, and I face the same uphill battle.

Every pair of good quality jewelry pliers has been used for electrical wiring and left outdoors to rust. So many spoons have gone missing that I had to buy a new set of silverware. Drawers and cabinet doors are left open.

Someone Who Will Appear Nameless continually left drawers to a cabinet open in the entryway. I would forget to check, company would come in, and there sat the cabinet; drawers open, stuff scattered, and looking like an unmade bed.

I finally snapped, and everyone came home to a giant, printed sign on the cabinet reading in massive letters: "Close Drawers". Yessir. We have become House O' Idiots: The Sequel.

Next was the silverware drawer, which now has a label reading "Silverware is for EATING ONLY." This has apparently never been clear before.

Another time, Someone Who Will Appear Nameless decided that it was a marvey idea to give the dogs some sweet tea. I have a very nice water dish with a gallon water jug on top, and it's a bear to clean. But guess who got to clean it? Not the Idiot! Nosiree! So, it's now labelled "Nothing but WATER goes in here!"

Now there's a cabinet in the bathroom that is continually left open while Someone Who Will Appear Nameless goes after Q-Tips. I haven't decided yet if I'll simply label it, or nail the doors shut.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

He's Just Not That Into You

I've been reading He's Just Not That Into You (you can read excerpts here), and I can see why it's a New York Times bestseller. I recommend this book to every woman who is single out there, and perhaps there are some married ones that should read it, too.

Sure it's a bit simplistic, but it cuts through a lotta b.s.

Say what you will, guys, but there aren't many nice guys out there. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet all kinds of money on the fact that there are a heckuva lot more nice girls than guys. Which isn't really saying a whole lot, of course.

This book may be the wake-up call, or the jumpstart, or the push it takes to end the relationship that you needed to end a long time ago. If not, it makes entertaining reading! Because it's written by both a girl and a guy (who is very honest about the way guys think).

Examples of bad relationships abound among myself, my clients, and my friends:

1) A fiance who wouldn't tell his parents that he was engaged for 3 months because he was afraid they'd be offended that he was marrying a white girl.
2) A fiance who cheated on his fiancee, ended up marrying the girl he'd gotten pregnant, but kept stringing Girl #1 along.
3) A fiance that had hidden drug problems which, when they emerged, resulted in the breakup.
4) A husband who cheated constantly, was into S&M, and because she wasn't, he cheated on her repeatedly with Dominatrixes.
5) Husbands and Significant Others who cheated on their wives repeatedly.
6) A fiance who was always breaking up to get his way, and then begging to get back together.
7) Guys who were too neat, or too boring, or too finicky to last.
8) Verbal abusers.
9) Physical abusers.
10) Users and just plain losers.

Instead of making excuses, most of us need to help these guys pack up and leave, but we're too afraid of being alone or never finding anyone better. This book points out that sometimes being alone IS finding someone better.

I've bought copies for some of my girlfriends. I recommend that you do, too.

Incense Matches and Etc.

The Etc.

1) I keep on promising that I'll blog about Tampa, but I have a hard time really forcing myself to do it. Forgive me. I lived there for a couple years, and whenever I think of "Tampa", I think of diesel fumes, dirt, grime, noise and crime. I realize that there are some cities that are worse, and that there are some parts of Tampa which are better, but it makes it hard to get enthusiastic enough to write an entire post about it. I'll get around to it, I promise!

2) I really appreciate the responses I got for my post yesterday. I don't know if I alienated anyone yet, because they are usually the people that don't post. However, I didn't expect to get such an enthusiastic series of amens! ;o) I answered each of you.

3) I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone for getting behind on my blogs. I will check in on each and every one of you, but with all the current chaos I simply have little time to sit down at the computer and enjoy them.

Incense Matches

I've found a nifty little whatnot that I'm really enjoying. It's a cheap thrill at 99 cents a pack! These Incense Matches are the coolest thing since sliced bread, for those of you who either enjoy incense or use it in meditations.

Yeah yeah, I know the marijuana / incense connection. But if you smoke dope, do you really think incense covers it up? Nah! You just smell like perfumy dope. Trust me on this one. Barf.

I don't like incense smoke which is so thick it looks as if your house is on fire, so these little honeys are the perfect solution. They burn just enough to give you a taste of it, but not send you flying blindly outdoors to breathe again.

You hear people say (when a bathroom stinks) "Oooh, light a match!" while they're waving about frantically. Here's the perfect solution that really will smell like something more than sulfur! I use them in my study when I take a coffee break, because they change the atmosphere of the room immediately. But hey, if you need it for your bathroom, I'll never tell!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Faux Christians

I am about to write a post that is truthful, but will be abhorred by some Christians who read this blog; because there is an unspoken rule to not talk badly about other Christians, in case you taint everyone's perception of Christianity.

*I* believe that you taint Christianity when you don't tell it like it is, because no one can tell the difference between a genuine Christian and a faux one.

Please don't bother telling me that only God judges the heart. Sure in the Bible it says that God judges the heart. It doesn't say that we're not supposed to be wise, however. In fact, until the last 30 years or so, wisdom was prized in the churches. Now it is a rare, and somewhat despised, commodity. Why? Because it gets in the way of doing what you want to do without getting called on it. We'll also address the common misconception of judging shortly.

Before I go any further, let me discuss different types of Christians so that we're all on the same page. Please note: I am not faulting anyone for their beliefs. What I'm about to do is fault them for their hypocrisy. And this post is coming from a perspective of Christianity, so please don't argue about how an alternative religion is superior. If you'd like, just mention that you'd like a post dealing with your particular religion or lack of religion and we'll tackle that later.

Also, I know this post is long, but we have to agree on some common terms and concepts so that we're all on the same page. Pleeeeeease bear with me.


1) There's the "christian" that is closer to being an agnostic. For them, being "christian" merely means they're not muslim, buddhist, or anything "exotic". They have no real beliefs. As long as they are honest about that, fine with me. I'd recommend the more informed term "agnostic", however.

2) The Born-Again Christian. These are Christians that take their faith very seriously and because they try to adhere to everything in the Bible in order to please God, they are sometimes seen as the "goody two shoes" of the lot. However, I'd take a B.A. Christian over most others as an employee. But they're as rare as hen's teeth. There can be some B.A. Christians who adhere to almost everything in the Bible but choose to not go to church. I personally have no problem with that choice whatsoever because this is where *I* am. I tell people who ask that I've developed a psychological allergy to churches but I also have a ministry with others that have the same allergy. We grew up seeing way too much hypocrisy and divisiveness from...

3) The "Sunday" Christian, a.k.a the Faux Christian. These are the people who talk the talk but don't walk the walk. They may have bumper stickers that read "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" because this gives them an open license to behave badly but excuse it away. Come on! Do you think that Christianity would have survived all these years if Jesus's message had boiled down to "It's OK to be a jerk. Just tell everyone you're a forgiven jerk and forgeddaboutit."

I do think that the Bible was a mixed document. There are some universal truths that are a given, and there are some that were a cultural necessity for that time but not a universal truth.

For example, God may have told the Israelites to eat kosher to make it more difficult for them to mix with pagan cultures. Or, it may have been a bunch of wise dietary precautions that saved them from problems such as acute food poisoning or trichinosis. No one can be certain, but it was abandoned in the Christian New Testament, so apparently the need for it had gone. I'll grant you that it was dissolved by a pronouncement from God himself, but other practices have been abandoned as well, and he hasn't come down from on high to announce those.

And I don't expect other Christians to be perfect, because I'm surely not! But what I do expect is for them to do the right thing, and make amends when they don't.

Faux Christians

I use the term 'Faux Christians' because like faux finishes and faux gems, they look pretty and sound great, but they're not the real thing: As I said, they talk the talk but don't walk the walk. When the least bit of pressure comes to bear, their faith is out the window, and they are out the door.

I once had the owner of a company say to me "I will never hire another Christian again, as long as I live." He knew I was a Christian, but he considered me to be the exception, not the rule. What a horrible shame.

Faux Christians are often the most verbal about their faith. They are full of "I'll pray for yous", "If God wills", and "God bless yous". They talk loudly about their need to have Sundays off. They tell everyone about their religious conversions or how God is active in their lives.

I have a very close friend (let's call him Pov) who is an agnostic. Every time Pov sees a Faux Christian, it's one more nail in the coffin. I keep telling him "Look, these are not the genuine article," but I'm getting tired of saying it.

Pov had a boss who was a very loud and dynamic Faux Christian. The guy sure talked the talk, but also believed firmly in screwing the customer and the competition and getting around the law whenever possible. Pov really idolized the guy: This was a very rich and successful man! I kept warning Pov that the guy was a Faux Christian and eventually he would turn on Pov, too. And he did. I was very glad I'd warned him about it, because it lessened the blow.

The reason that I'm writing this today: Recently, I hired someone (who was a Faux Christian) to be in charge of my team of people. Let's call her Jill. I began to get nervous when she started leaving them notes with "God bless yous". Why?

In the Bible Jesus says "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you." Jesus is saying, shut your mouth and shut the door! But Faux Christians are for show only. They trumpet their godliness from the rooftops.

One day, Jill just didn't show up to work. I called and left her a couple messages. I stayed behind to help the team, and worked there all day (neglecting my primary business). I didn't reschedule anyone, because I was hoping that Jill had gone AWOL for a very good reason. It negatively impacted both of my businesses.

The next morning Jill didn't show again, and didn't return my call that morning, either. I worked with the team for half of that day. At this point, I had to assume she'd quit, and I made the appropriate arrangements. The team grumbled about "Christians" all day.

That night when I got home, I got an email from her, telling me that she'd quit but hadn't wanted to call to tell anyone. However, she was full of Faux Christian platitudes and hoped we'd remain friends. I wrote back that I was disappointed in her, and felt she had done the wrong thing. I also added that she could spare me the Faux Christian blatherings. She wrote back in anger, and here was my final reply:


" I'm not going to argue my Christianity," you said.

I didn't ask you to. I told you my impressions and I was (and am) sincere about it. This was a poor Christian testimony. Trying to hide behind your actions or trying to justify them by telling me that "Moreover, most people who judge Christians are just unhappy with themselves" is a cop-out.

I'm sorry if you're hearing what you need to hear for the first time. Perhaps if this is the way you behave, someone should have told you this before. I'm actually not in the least bit angry, as you say (perhaps you'd like it if I was? Would that make you feel better?) I'm merely very disappointed. Yes, Christians are people too, but it DOESN'T give us a license to behave as we'd like, or excuse it away. In fact, we are actually under MORE of an obligation to behave properly because we are walking, breathing testimonies.

The part that was wrong was not even picking up the phone to let us even know. When we first interviewed you, you told us you were straight-up and straightforward and yet you couldn't even give us the grown-up courtesy of a phone call. The business is wildly busy again, and on John's first day back he was juggling everything, and had to try to scramble to cover for YOU too. Of course it was EASIER for you not to call. But as a Christian, you do the RIGHT thing, not the easy one.

You're a Christian of convenience only. You need to re-examine your life. I still have not received your address to send you that check.


The next reply she sent contained her address only. She'd read the note, but couldn't reply to it.

I can hear other Faux Christians whine "You're judging her! Judge not lest you be judged!" Nice try. I recommend reading your scriptures, and get back to me on that. Try reading both Matthew 7:1 and 7:2: "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

As one theologian writes, "This does not mean that one is never, in any sense or to any extent, to judge another, for v. 5 indicates that when one's own life is pure he should "take the speck out" of the brother's eye. It does mean, however, that a follower of Christ is not to be censorious." -Charles Ryrie.

Also, in other areas of the Bible, true Christians are commanded to sort out the false ones. Kinda hard to do, when you're not allowed to make any judgements!

If we don't sort out our own Faux Christians, who else will? We need to begin calling out people for their actions, if it reflects badly on us. Please don't bother saying that *I* am not perfect. Well, duh! as a young friend of mine would say. But as I said earlier, the difference is that when a true Christian messes up, she tries to make it right again.

I had just finished telling my staff that another Faux Christian wasn't the real deal (she had quit, threatening another one of my employees with bodily harm). She knew the Bible as well as a Buddhist would, and I wished she'd claimed to be any other religion. Now I have to do damage control once more.

P.S. I republished this blog, and lost some comments. My apologies.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Mexican Surprise Party

It was "Mom's" birthday yesterday. "Mom" is Ozma's mom, but I'm the honorary white daughter, I am told. I've been close to the entire family for many years, so I was naturally part of this whole thing.

Ozma's been scheming for a year. About the same time, Mom also began planning a surprise party for Ozma (which took place a couple months ago). Imagine how difficult it was to help both of them plan the party, and not get the parties confused. But I did it! I didn't trip up once!

So, yesterday Ozma's family flew in from out of town to surprise Mom. They were parcelled out between the various siblings. Ozma got several, including Crazy Aunt Belinda.

Now, these out-of-town relatives are all drinkers and party-ers, and Ozma has been chewing on her nails, hoping that they would stay somewhat responsible until they left for home. But as soon as they arrived, via limo, they started drinking. And the reunions were passionate. At one point Crazy Aunt Belinda had jumped onto Aunt Sally on Ozma's couch and lovingly pummelled her. I emphasize lovingly, because there were no bruises.

Since they were short on sleeping arrangements (Kitten and her husband are also staying there this week, and yes... they're back together, at least temporarily) Ozma had to share her bed. Guess who shared it with her? Crazy Aunt Belinda; who snored in her ear half the night. The other half she muttered in her sleep "I'm going to kick your ass! Get over here, b*tch!!!" Which made Ozma exceedingly nervous.

Then, in the middle of the night, Aunt Belinda got up to use the bathroom, walked back into the bedroom, and studied Ozma verrrrry closely. Ozma pretended to be asleep, which took a lot of doing, I think. Then she abruptly jumped back into bed next to her, rolled over, and promptly fell back to snoring again. Ozma hardly slept a wink.

When I arrived at the party last night, two separate family members immediately pulled me aside and warned me not to talk to Crazy Uncle Juan. Apparently he did too many drugs as a kid, and is very attracted to pretty women, and never stops talking. That meant that he would make a beeline for me and I'd die of boredom within a short amount of time.

Crazy Uncle Juan had stayed with Ozma's brother, Jack. Jack said that Crazy Uncle Juan had tried to crawl into bed with him the night before. "No, get out, man! What do you think you're doing?" snapped Jack, irritably (he wasn't into sharing like Ozma was). So Crazy Uncle Juan then ended up on small couch with one of the others (while a perfectly good, large bed remained unused) both snoring so loudly that Jack thought the roof would cave in.

Other relatives had been peppered throughout his house and no one (except Jack) wanted to stop partying until 3 in the morning. Jack had circles under his eyes, poor dear, but he had Ozma and I snorting with laughter as he told us everything.

I sat at The Old Maids Table, where all of us unwed, single women were expected to sit, I think. Most of them were obviously single for a reason (they all looked like Tom Arnold in drag). I wasn't allowed to sit for long, though. Most of the time I was being motioned over, or yanked out of my seat to dance, or dragged off somewhere because there were the usual family intrigues...there always are. I just love this family.

We ate and chatted and listened to piped-in music until Mom arrived with Dad and got the Surprise of Her Life. She cried all night long (tears of joy, I think, but it might have had something to do with Crazy Uncle Juan and Aunt Belinda).

Mexican dancers were brought in, and they performed beautifully. Then the mariachi band arrived and seranaded Mom and sang the Mexican Happy Birthday Song (which sounds nothing like what we sing and goes on a verrrrry long time).

We were all expected to go up and dance with Mom. Being the tallest woman in the room, I stood out like a sore thumb, but I was game. Remember Shoop, the guy who sang a horrible version of "Indian Outlaw" at Kitten's wedding? I told him that if he would dance with Mom, so would I. And by god, the guy who won't dance agreed to it! So we took turns dancing with her.

At one point, someone came by and whispered that Ozma was trying to get Crazy Uncle Juan to ask me to dance. I hunted her down immediately. "What are you thinking?" I hissed. She shrugged. "He's a good dancer," she said, with mischief in her eyes.

When the mariachi band left, they started playing disco music, the floor was cleared, and everyone began dancing. I didn't dance much, because no song really got my toes tapping. But, I stood by the sidelines. As I stood there, a little man standing next to me looked up at me and said "Damn, you're beautiful! You're tall, though! Damn! Too tall for me! I'd ask you to dance if you weren't so tall!" OK, OK, I get the point. I'm tall (to him, but then almost anyone would be!) Finally he asked me to kick off my heels and dance anyway, but I politely declined.

"What's your name?" he asked. I told him (it's a rather exotic name). "Damn!" he said again. "I thought you'd have a white girl name, like Debbie or something." Nope, I answered. Not Debbie. I told this to Ozma later and she laughed. "You're not a Debbie," she said. "Definately not a Debbie." What the heck does that mean? Is it some kind of Mexican code word?

Crazy Uncle Juan came running up with a microphone, loudly asking everyone over the music what my name was (what is it with these people? Why this obsession with names?). I ran into Mom's arms and escaped amid laughter.

As the party ran down, I snuck out. I have a funeral I must go to today, and Ozma's going with me. She's looking forward to it: it's either the funeral, or it's Crazy Aunt Belinda.

Friday, January 13, 2006

St. Petersburg

Yes, St. Petersburg was originally named after St. Petersburg, Russia. And I've thought it over and have to revise and earlier statement: I think St. Pete is the most important town in Pinellas. In some ways its a close tie with Clearwater but St. Pete excels in areas where Clearwater simply can't compete. Oh not the beaches, of course, but in almost every other area.

Baywalk is relatively new area that has helped add some life into the downtown St. Pete area. It's a mix of shops, restaurants, a large movie theater, and a couple upscale cocktail lounges. Many people who work or live in the area meet at Baywalk for cocktails or dates. The problem is that the rest of St. Pete doesn't have any real nightlife to speak of (neither does Clearwater).

Nearby is the beautiful Vinoy Hotel. It's a must-see and I'd highly recommend it. It's very old and was almost demolished once until the angry citizens of Pinellas rose up and demanded that it be saved. It has now be restored to it's old glory, and it's honestly one of the most beautiful pieces of old architecture we have. It also is huge, and renown for it's Sunday brunch and fantastic services.

If you want great night life you'll have to go to Ybor, in Tampa (which I'll talk about tomorrow). I love dancing, so when I tell you that you need to see Ybor, trust me: You need to see it.

St. Petersburg is an older city. In some of the older residential areas, the streets are paved with pink brick. It's a gorgeous area, lined with period homes and ancient trees. Needless to say, you pay a fortune to get in there, but many believe it's worth it.

Ft. DeSoto Park is located at the edge of St. Pete. It was named the top beach in Florida, but for the life of me, I can't understand why. The sand is always exceptionally hot, and peppered with rocks, shells, and spiny tree pods. I suppose it's because it's linked to the actual fort, and there are camping facilities as well.

The fort itself was built in the early 1900s out of coquina-shell-concrete and is open for tourists, complete with cannons. Additionally, there's a nearby island that you can either ferry out to, or sail to (as I do) with tame tortoises you can hand-feed.

Then there is St. Pete Beach itself. It's not as nice, pure and sugary as Clearwater Beach, but it has a flavor of its own. And there are some specatacular resorts there, such as the Tradewinds Resort, which is definately worth staying in. I would also recommend the Don Cesar but whatever you do, don't eat there.

The Pinellas County area (which includes St. Pete and Clearwater) used to be known as "God's Waiting Room", but no more. It has grown into a major metropolitan area and a popular tourist destination. And I get to live here year-round.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Burbs

There are three cities in "The Tri-City Area"; Clearwater, St. Petersburg (St. Pete) and Tampa. There are many little towns scattered around them all.

In Pinellas, the various towns include Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor, and Belleair. These 'sleeper' communities are places to come home to. I happen to live in one, but have always worked in one of the major cities (with few exceptions).

None of the cities has much of an identity. Largo and Seminole are supposedly more middle to upper-middle class, Safety Harbor and Belleair are seen as more upper-class, and Pinellas Park is viewed as a lower-class community (though there are exceptions, of course).

Most of the towns' governments are pleasantly quiet and leave their citizens alone for the most part (excepting taxes). And most citizens wouldn't be able to name a single mayor or councilman unless they lived next door.

There was a brief scandal about a year ago when the exceedingly unattractive city leaders of Seminole posed nude for a calendar (thanks to the idea they got from a movie that had just come out about elderly women posing nude for a calendar). It died rather horribly (the calendars weren't exactly a hot commodity), and I know one of the men who posed for it so I can tell you that it died for a good reason. The general consensus (among anyone who cared) was that it was just downright tacky and somewhat silly. Here's a picture of good ole Jimmy Johnson, the head of the Seminole Chamber. Now, would you want to see him butt naked? I don't think so.

The other cities' leaders make money the good old-fashioned way: raising taxes and setting the police out on the streetcorners to ticket the citizens for minor infractions.

In Largo this year, they temporarily took a large intersection and forbid anyone turning on red on one (and one only) of the four corners. When people did it from years of habit (in Florida you can turn on red unless otherwise posted) they got ticketed. Finally the police decided to move the forbidden corner to another corner of the intersection and the original corner was freed up again... So that they could start writing a new batch of tickets, I suppose. Luckily, I never got one of those tickets. I've often wondered if the people who got the original tickets could argue against it, since the police were obviously playing musical chairs with that intersection and couldn't seem to make up their minds.

But you'll never find The Burbs in a riot. For the most part, you'll never hear of their scandalous mayor (unless he's fool enough to pose naked). You'll never read of how a city councilman was caught in a hotel room snorting cocaine with an expensive hooker. Disappointing? Perhaps, but that's why we live in The Burbs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Now I'm going to put on my tour guide hat and take you on a tour of the Bay Area. Fellow Tampa Bay bloggers might want to join in and add something, so feel free! I'm going to start with Clearwater because it's the most important city in Pinellas County, with Tampa being the most important city in Hillsborough County (which is across the water from Pinellas).

Unlike Hillsborough County, Pinellas County has beaches. And Clearwater Beach is one of the top 10 beaches in the state of Florida. In my opinion, it should be the top one, because the sand is amazing sugar-fine sand and feels incredibly silky and is much purer than other sands. No other beach in Florida has that sand (and I've visited many beaches).

If you'd like to get the opinion of someone who relocated from Texas to Clearwater Beach, go to Why Clearwater Beach? Its a little out of date (he's married now, he says in a sidenote, and they don't allow smoking in restaurants anymore) but it's pretty accurate. He also has some excellent tips in there for love and dating.

I was once commissioned to write a book on Clearwater history, but after doing my research, I had to decline it. I didn't have access to much material, due to the library burning down in the early 1900s. Even the librarians shrugged at me and said they had little they could give me.

You see, Clearwater has always been a town that 'lived for the moment.' It isn't famous for many historical sites, and although some luminaries performed in The Royalty Theater (which still exists) they were merely passing through. These performers included Elvis, Monroe, Chaplin, and others. Don't be at all fooled by the website; the theater is only a shadow of what it once was. Its impossible to get enough people who wish to travel to downtown and park there. And as a reference point: The picture of the owners is at least 30 years out of date.

Then there is the gorgeous, historical, haunted Belleview Biltmore which was built by the same gentleman who built the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Many weddings take place here (I've always thought it would be lovely to be married there) and it's also a great getaway for golfers and vacationers. It's not directly on the beach, but that has it's advantages, too. It was bought up by some Japanese investors with no loyalty to the historical value of the place, and they are attempting to tear it down and turn it into condos. As a result, the Save the Biltmore group has formed (I've donated generously). We're looking for a purchaser!

The main parts of Clearwater are the actual beaches (you pass through the downtown to get to them) and the uptown and "Countryside" areas (where the real heart of the city is). These places are where most of the businesses and residences are located. Clearwater has tried to revive the downtown area for years, but with little to no success, with the exception of Scientology.

I will say (as I always do) that I have personally known some Scientologists and found them to be very personable. I feel they're as misguided as they feel *I* am. But if the concept of Scientology makes you queasy, then settling into the downtown Clearwater area would not be recommended.

Clearwater Beach is still my favorite part of Clearwater. It's where I grew up, and where I go when I need to recharge my batteries. It's still generally a haven of peace and quiet. Sadly, they now charge for parking there, and even those of us who are citizens must pay for the privilege of visiting our own beach. If you don't wish to pay to go there, other beaches are available with only a short drive of a couple miles down the beach. But there's just something about Clearwater Beach: it seems to be the perfect balance of commercial and residential buildings with a vast amount of sand, dunes, and water.

The rest of Clearwater is merely a nice, warm, breezy place with palm trees. Some parts are actually rather seedy looking, due to the lack of ordinances we had in the early years of our growth. But we happily drive past them, and give them our business. It's not really their fault that they were built in the tasteless 60s and 70s. The city council has rumbled for years about passing an ordinance that would force everyone to adapt their facades to a more uniform and (should we say it?) prettier style, but I doubt it will ever happen. The true beauty is on the beach and in some of the better office parks and residential areas, and that is really where it matters.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Crazy Ozma

As most of you know, Ozma is one of my closest friends and is a Latina. Actually, she is 100% legal Mexican, raised in America. The following story is a story which she has relayed to me, and given me permission to publish. I take no responsibility for it, true or false, but I found it entertaining enough to publish here:

Ozma has a reputation for being feisty (because she is) but she rarely shows her teeth unless she's severely aggravated, and it takes a lot to get her there. When she was young, and less self- controlled (as we all were) she was famous for her temper. By the age of 20 she found herself married with a 1 and 2 year-old clinging to her skirts.

She had known that one of her husband's sisters was cheating on her husband, and Ozma despised her for it. She made a comment about this infidelity to the family, and when the sister-in-law heard of it, she (let's call her Sandy) decided to go take Ozma on. Sandy let her father know what she was doing. Dad went along, hoping to mediate the confrontation.

Ozma was in the kitchen of the farmhouse, slicing up vegetables for a stew. When the car drove up, she saw who it was and immediately realised why Sandy was there. And Sandy was hopping mad.

Forgetting that she still had the cleaver in her hand, Ozma went outside to greet Sandy and her dad. Sandy started in, ranting and raving, and Ozma yelled right back at her, unconsciously brandishing the cleaver. Meanwhile, Dad had decided that Ozma was going to use that cleaver on the both of them ("you know these Latinas!") and he was nervously yanking on Sandy's arm and trying to tell her to step back; they were in danger!

Suddenly realizing what he was saying, and remembering that she still held the cleaver, Ozma was struck by how ludicrous the whole situation was, and she started laughing. Both Sandy and Dad turned even whiter than white, because now they knew she was insane! So as Ozma kept laughing, they fell all over themselves to beat a hasty retreat, scrambled into the car, and drove away in a cloud of dust.

To this day, Sandy will have nothing to do Ozma's children (they have the taint of the Latina in them!) which Ozma considers to be a good thing. As for the rest of the family, they keep their distance from the crazy chica.