Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Why I Chose Saurkraut

Aunt Josefina asked in my late post yesterday: How can you top a name like Saur?? How did you come up with that anyway?

I entered the blogging world in March of last year. This wasn't my first blog. My first one is still listed in my links, although I haven't posted to it in at least 9 months or so (I'm too lazy to go back and research exact dates today).

I had started getting involved in a local blog by our school superintendant, Clayton Wilcox (who is a ninny). I kept leaving comments and arguments, and got very tired of them all being lost among the other numerous "anonymous" comments. But there were many people that were polarized by what I was saying. Some hated me, some loved me.

So I figured I'd start up a blog on school and kids issues where I could state my somewhat acidic views, and have a "legit" handle, too. That way, if anyone was interested in more of what I had to say, they knew where to find me.

I had to come up with a name, and being a frustrated gourmet who lives on a perpetual diet, I started with food names: Buttercream, Vanilla, Chocolate (and all it's variations), etc. It was near lunchtime, and I'd just had a fantastic Mel's Hot Dog in a poppyseed bun, smothered with sauerkraut (note the spelling).

I typed in "sauerkraut". It was taken. Arrrgh! Well, who knows how to spell anymore, right? So, I dropped the "e" and voila! It took the name!

The name's evolved over time, due to my friends and readers. I became Saur (I'm assuming my last name is Kraut). As you know (from an earlier post) Saur means "smoked" in French or it can simply mean "sour" here, which is sometimes a very appropriate description of me. The Kraut part isn't accurate in the least, as I'm scandinavian in ancestry, but what does it matter? Saur I remain, and Saur I shall forever be.

Ever Saurly Yours,

Monday, February 27, 2006

My Anonymity

Is in place to protect my child and my family. So I truly appreciate everyone doing their best to try to not guess my name. Whether right or wrong, it's not helpful in a time of stress where my family is going through so much suffering and turmoil.

Happily, the turmoil could be worse, and the suffering is easing. But please respect my wishes and help me protect my family, or I will need to stop blogging immediately. My thoughts and opinions are strong at times and I can not risk having a mad man or woman decide to take undue offense at them.

Thank you.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

My Dad's Doing Well

Sorry it took so long to post today! Dad's doing very well. They say if it had been 20 years ago, he never would've made it. However, the damage to the heart was minimal and he's looking very well! We're staying with him, just in case, but it's really amazing what modern science can do.

Almost immediately upon arriving at the hospital, they did an angioplasty and inserted a stint and he went from having an artery that was 99% clogged, to 0% in a short amount of time. He's still under observation and testing, however.

Thanks for your kind comments and concern! I don't have time to read it all now (I'm rushing back to the hospital) but wanted to let you know. ;o)

Friday, February 24, 2006

My Dad Had a Heart Attack Today

My dad had a heart attack today, so please keep us all in your prayers. Luckily it was mild and a stint seems to have solved the problem for now. He is actually looking great and has tons of friends and family converging on the hospital, so don't worry too much right now. Instead, enjoy the post below! I'm spending the night in the hospital tonight. I'll fill you in more tomorrow.

Laser Tag

A couple of weekends ago, a group of us were playing laser tag. Laser tag is a sport for all ages, and sometimes your team members are ex-military veterans ... and sometimes they're 9.

It was feeling great to be physical again, only 3 months after my neck surgery. I was dressed in black, wearing my favorite sneakers, and moving fast. Hey! I'm 30-something! Don't all the magazines say that today's 30s are the new 20s? Or something like that?

My team had split up, and I was attacking another base. A teenage girl snuck up on my side, I whirled, and "killed" her instantly. Her little brother, my teammate, started snorting with laughter. "You suck!" he told her. "Look, an old lady killed ya!"

I think God gives us little signals as we age to tell us that our time on earth is getting shorter. Excuse me while I go read the latest issue in the AARP magazine. It's an exciting article on vitamins and prostate cancer.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

News of the Weird

  • Illegal Immigrants Protest in Tampa: In an effort to sway legislation which will demand more accountability for illegal immigrants and those who interract with them, a group of roughly 350 illegal immigrants protested loudly in Tampa yesterday on street corners.

    I have to ask: since they're illegal, did they apply for a legal permit for the protest? And where was the INS in all of this?

  • Woman Must Buy Back Stolen Jewelry in Pinellas County: A woman who had her home broken into recently (and all her jewelry stolen) was delighted to discover a local pawn shop had her stolen goods. She went to retrieve the gems, and was handed a bill for $400.

    Yup, pawn shops are entitled to charge you to return your stolen merchandise. And, as the pawn shop owner righteously pointed out, he did put a lot of money into advertising this recent windfall.

  • The United Arab Emirates: Today we find out that in the Sept. 11 Commission meetings (around page 130 where it's being discussed what Clinton's options were to catch Osama Bin Laden) a mention is made of a resort area where Bin Laden had been staying. The Clinton administration made the choice to not try to go after him there, since they would also probably have killed all the royals of the UAE along with him. The report also mentions that the UAE retains it's relationship with the Taliban.

    The UAE has no ties to terrorists? Yeah, right.

  • More Comes out About the Port Deal: We also discovered yesterday that there was an unusually special deal which was struck with Dubai Ports World (DPW). The government agreed to not get too demanding about seeing any book work for DPW. However, the deal did stipulate that if and when another terrorist attack occurred, the DPW would need to agree to produce any necessesary paperwork and the DPW would appoint a 'go to' person for such circumstances.

    BUT when such a deal is struck, the company doing business on American soil keeps those documents on American soil, and appoints an American representative (so that everything is governed under U.S. law). Yet in this particular deal, there were no such restrictions. P.S. Ed has some interesting additional thoughts about this topic today.

  • Bush Afraid to Appear Weak: And of course, Bush (being afraid as usual to appear weak) refuses to back down or apologize and continues to insist that he will veto any attempt to stop the acquisition by DPW.

    Doesn't he realize that real men admit mistakes?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Tampa Port Authority Steps into Debate

The reason I didn't blog about this whole mess before is that I wanted to make sure I had all the facts. I was initially very skeptical about what I was hearing, thinking that we surely didn't have enough information. I voted for Bush twice, and dislike him to some extent due to his policies, but I never imagined that he would come out and tell us all that he would veto any attempt to stop this transaction.

Up until now, I've always said that although I wasn't pleased with Bush, I had not regretted my choice to vote for him twice. But for the first time I truly regret it.

As you have probably heard, a company based in the United Arab Emerates (UAE) is about to buy a company that has been in charge of the ports in the USA. Because it's a $6.8 billion deal, and because Bush's family is very tight with arabic royalty (such as the Royal House of Saud), I guess it's too tempting a deal for Bush to pass up.

Here is a choice section out of the St. Pete Times article today, which I'd like to share with you, because it boils down the debate:

Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms said that while the UAE is an ally, news organizations have reported that some of the Sept. 11 hijackers used the nation as an operational and financial base.

"What you're being asked to do is pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," she said. "We are being encouraged to ignore possible risks and questions raised by good and diligent people."

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio pointedly asked if Storms was raising objections because Dubai Ports World is owned by Arabs. "I think it's very important we deal with facts," she said. "Their ethnicity should not be a factor."

Storms shot back that she was concerned strictly with the political beliefs of people involved. "They weren't Brazilians who blew up the twin towers," she said. "They weren't Chinese, they weren't Japanese. They were of a certain political persuasion. I'm sorry a member of this board turned this into a race bait(ing)."

I wish I had been there to cheer: Go Ronda Storms! But sadly, it's too late. Last night, the Tampa Port Authority was authorized to sign the contract with the British company that is selling out to the UAE company.

No problem, you say. This time there are plenty of Republican congressmen, as well as Democratic ones, that are opposed to it. They all want to know why the deal was speedily OK'd, despite a federal law that requires a 45-day investigation when a foreign acquisition "could affect the national security of the United States."

Ah, but here's the stumbling block in this road of progress: Bush doesn't care what they think, and he doesn't care what you think.

President Bush told reporters Tuesday on Air Force One that the sale had been examined by the administration and was "a legitimate deal that will not jeopardize the security of the country." He pledged to veto any attempt in Congress to block it.

With this most recent development affecting our families in the Tampa Bay Area, I am going to do my very best to make sure that he cares what *I* think. I am going to start a letter writing campaign, to begin with.

Please, please take out some time in your busy day today to help me (and all of us). Email:

Here is a Suggested Letter You Can Send:
(Don't forget to alter it wherever it's needed to be changed)


I am writing to you to beg you to do something concerning the sale to Dubai Ports World of the contract for seven of the major ports in the United States, including Tampa (since yesterday evening, as reported in the St. Petersburg Times).

This decision is not simply a decision to allow an Arabic company to do business in the USA. Instead, it’s a decision that could very likely compromise what little security we have in our ports.

If the Bush administration is in Iraq because the terrorist threat is real, why are we opening the doors to deals with any company based in a country that both harbored and financially supported some of the hijackers in the 9/11 incident?

Our nation’s security is too important to abandon easily for the almighty dollar. I want to know why the deal was speedily OK'd, despite a federal law that requires a 45-day investigation when a foreign acquisition "could affect the national security of the United States."

Please get us the answers, and stop the sale.

Your Name Here

P.S. For those of you who are interested in follow-up stories to earlier posts, click here for the newspaper sequel to my post about Hammoudeh's false imprisonment. And go here to read about how the Sheriff has decided to close the kids' bootcamp where the 14 year old boy was murdered this month. It is now being investigated by the State Attorney, as well. My original post about it is here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Top Disasters in Recorded World History

OK, I know this might be a bummer, and I know that you usually come here for my stunning wit and repartee... ;o)

But we've all heard recently about how there is a great increase in war and natural disasters and that it's an indication that we're either in (or headed for) the end times predicted in Revelation (in the Bible). I've heard preachers say we're in the end times right now (I was skeptical). I've heard scholars say that our current history is no different than past history, and our wars and disasters are simply of a greater magnitude because our world population is of a greater magnitude.

However, no matter what the cause, we certainly do seem to be seeing a vastly larger amount of natural disasters in the last hundred years. In fact, it's a much greater number than disasters recorded ever before.

I tried to do searches for lists of such disasters from unbiased sources, and this is the best one I've come up with. I count hundreds of disasters in the last hundred years, which doesn't compare at all with any previously recorded ones.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

Monday, February 20, 2006


OK, I'm hooked, and my mom's a dealer. I went over to see my parents last night, and she introduced me to sudoku puzzles.

Have you ever tried one? Whew, are they addictive! The best way I can describe these is that they're crossword puzzles - in numbers form.

Try to get the hang of it by solving a couple puzzles first. Then, suddenly a light clicks on and you're a goner! Don't give up, as I almost did. I'm glad that I hung in there.

But last night I'm struggling as SaurKid, Boy Genius, took to the puzzles like a duck takes to water. It's a little off-putting to be so easily outdistanced by your 12-year old, no matter how high his IQ is.

If you'd like to give it a try, the link above is the best one I've found online. I prefer printing out the puzzles instead of doing a puzzle on the computer. Oh, and use a pencil - put away that pen. Trust me.

P.S. That link really is fantastic. You're allowed to 'pencil in' guesses at this particular site. It's the next best thing to doing it by hand.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Woman in the Pantsuit at Church

Remember, click on the cartoon to enlarge it.

I'm as native as they usually get. I remember when Pinellas County was still in its awkward growth stages. In 30 years, it's gone from being (at best) a suburban area to a sprawling amalgam of towns and cities which is essentially a metropolis. But when I was a little girl in the 1970s, there were still pockets of the deep south here.

One Sunday when I was probably about 6-8 years old, my parents decided to go try out a different church than the one they normally went to. I was relatively young, but I'll never forget this.

Now, in the 70s you always dressed for church down here. I was a tomboy and hated getting into those darned dresses, but my mom and I wore our pretty dresses with itchy slips underneath, and Dad and the boys wore suit pants and dress shirts with ties.

I remember standing in a line of people waiting to get in to this old, white clapboard church. We stood on the wooden steps behind a well-dressed lady in a beautiful white pantsuit. I studied the cracks in the wood and the crazing in the green paint on the steps while we waited. The pretty lady talked for a little while with the men at the door, and then suddenly turned and walked away.

I tugged on my dad's arm and asked "Daddy, why did she go?"

"They wouldn't let her in because she was wearing pants," whispered my dad.

"What?" I asked, astonished. "Don't they think she needs Jesus too?" We never went back to that church.

We discussed it later on and my parents explained that she was rejected based on a misinterpreted passage of scripture. Since that church used the King James Version (KJV) as most did back then, I'll quote from the KJV, Deut. 22:5:

The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

Of course the woman was wearing a pantsuit, off the rack, purchased in the women's department. However, they thought it pertained to menswear. Contrast that with the New American Standard Version (NAS):

A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.

Incidentally, when I was growing up, most people still used the King James version here. When I was hunting down that scripture verse, I happened across Leviticus 18:23 today in the KJV:

... A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.

And could only picture a woman being formally presented to a goat, and solemnly shaking hooves/hands with it. This is why I don't think anyone should bother using the KJV any more when there are so many vastly superior translations (and the majority of theologians and scholars agree with me).

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Death in Kid's Boot Camp

Sometimes we hear of tragedies and they take up very little rent-space in our minds. And there are times that a tragedy happens to a black person, and we may subconsciously dismiss it because they're "not of our world." But thankfully no one is easily dismissing the murder of a 14 year old black boy in a Panama City boot camp for wayward kids.

Briefly, a boy who was out-of-control was sent to a kid's boot camp in the hopes that it would reform him before it was too late. While he was there, a video was taken of him being beaten to death.

Strangely, the Panama City Coroner's report (which was just released yesterday) claims the boy died of sickle cell anemia, since his body was unable to staunch the internal hemorrhaging. This "diagnosis" was immediately greeted with disagreement by top medical experts and anyone with common sense. And even if the Coroner's report is technically correct (which is definately in doubt) it doesn't answer why the guards were allowed to put their hands on the boy, or beat him.

I viewed the tape with horror and disgust. If you wish to take my word for it, the brutality and lack of necessity is evident (the boy puts up little to no resistance). But if you wish to see it for yourself, click here.

Here's what we can do about it!

Please email the Mayor and every City Commissioner listed here (just click on their names), telling them what you think about this, and don't forget the City Manager. Let them know what you think needs to be done to stop this atrocity from every happening again to another child. And point out to them that there are many experts who feel that their Coroner is out-to-lunch. Perhaps it's time to find another one.

To make it easy on yourself, type up a letter in word, and do a simple cut-and-paste for each email that you send.

You also may wish to contact Governor Jeb Bush about it, as well as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Guy M. Tunnell and the Inspector General, Al Dennis. Here is their contact information.

Friday, February 17, 2006

I Hate Starbucks

I hate Starbucks. Their coffee is OK, but everything else is so passe yuppie. I admit it. And although I can afford a $1,329.95 cup of double-mocha-pericarditis-frappucino-sasquatch-grande, it still seems a little expensive for the common man.

But what really deters me from going into another Starbucks is the service. Perhaps you've experienced better? Allow me to share:

The first time I was put off by a Starbucks employee was about a year ago. I was in the mall, shopping with my family, and we all stopped there for a warm drink. When it was my turn, I said "I'll have some chai tea, please." I pronounced it "kie", since the man from India (where it originates from) who introduced me to it pronounced it that way. (I've been drinking the stuff years before Starbucks had heard of it).

"You mean chie," corrected the fat boy behind the counter, superciliously (using the soft 'ch' sound).

At that point I should've said "No, I mean kie, and you'll be wise to pronounce it that way too, or I'm walking outta here - capeesh?" but instead I said "Uh, well there are two different ways to pronounce it and I have always pronounced it this way."

He nodded disinterestedly at my weak attempt at self-justification and waited for me to tell him if I wanted it grande, grande elegante, or grande grande grande. I privately fantasized that he was my employee so that I could hire him, fire him, then hire him once more just so that I could fire him again.

Cut to yesterday morning.

I was waiting in line with a group of people, and Starbucks had only 2 employees during rush hour. That's right, only 2. And the line had about 10 customers, each wanting something that had at least 6 words in it.

Anyway, I waited (at the front of the line) while a fat man took orders at the drive-thru (what is it with fat guys at Starbucks?) and a harried-looking woman was frantically mixing up combinations.

Finally, the man came up to me. "Has she gotten your order yet?" he asked, as if he hadn't seen her moving about as distractedly as someone in the throes of a seizure.

"No," I said, flatly, staring at him. Oblivious to my disapproval, he asked what we wanted, and the 3 of us that were together ordered 3 different things. That was terribly confusing and so it delayed everything for a time, as he carefully rang it all up.

Then we stepped aside for the others in line to place their orders. And what do you know, some were getting their drinks before we were. We walked back up to the fat man, and told him (politely) that although we were first in line, there were others that were receiving their orders before we were.

He got rather snappish at this point, and asked us to step back over to the waiting part, and that we would be getting our order in no time flat. He implied that they were terribly busy and it was rather petty of us to want to receive our orders in a timely manner.

How uppity of us.

So, we meekly waited for them to get around to us, which they eventually did.

As we walked out, another group was walking in. I looked the leader firmly in the eye and said ominously, "You don't wanna go in there." It made no difference. They joined the ever-expanding line in quest of the ultimate cup of cinnamon-sashimi-doublet-syphilitic-grande-supreme.

I hate Starbucks.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Mouth of the South

I've been juggling many problems lately. I got up to the smell of more rotting rats (I'm poisoning the wild ones that keep getting into the house). God only knows where this one chose to die. I had gone into one of my businesses this morning to ream out a couple employees for very poor customer service. Then I headed home to deal with my other business.

My car is in the shop, so I drove back in a borrowed car, which has little idiosyncracies of its own (it smokes for no apparent reason). On the way home, I stopped for groceries. I wasn't looking my best; jeans, t-shirt, and sneakers. I was feeling a mite grumpy too, as you can imagine.

Going through the aisles, I chose what I minimally needed to get by for the upcoming week. Heck, I haven't even had time to deposit checks I've received in the mail, so obviously I haven't had much time for anything else, either.

Walking down an aisle that had beer and frozen foods, I reached the end and turned around. A scruffy-looking man who had been trying to dodge around my cart had to pull up short. "Oh!" I said, sweetly, "Sorry about that!"

Why was *I* apologizing? Because I was brought up to be a well-bred young woman who apologizes willy-nilly. If someone is sunburned, I tell them how sorry I am. If they had a bad day, I'm sorry about that too. Heck, I'm even happy to apologize for someone else's bad behavior! I'm just one apologetic little person.

As you know, the standard response in such an exchange is "No problem!" But instead, the guy (holding a pack of beer in one hand, and obviously in a hurry to drink it at 11 in the morning) squinted at me through bleary, bloodshot eyes, and slurred "Try not to run me over!"

"Try not to drink so much," I snapped, and kept going.

No longer am I the nice, retiring little thing of years gone by. You get one chance, and that's it. Yup, that's me. The Mouth of the South. You've come a long way, baby.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Petticoat Princesses

This is a completely juvenile post. No serious minds need to continue.

I ran across this site yesterday when researching something entirely different. Call me naive, but I had no idea that anyone would willingly volunteer to wear petticoats any more. The whole concept is as exciting to me as an itchy polyester leisure suit.

Apparently (and don't laugh at me if you already knew this) petticoats have some sort of mild S&M attraction (like corsets). The women (and men) who enjoy putting on petticoats and posing are a very ...interesting... lot. I know of many pathologies, but I've never personally run across anyone with this particular fetish. I'm thankful for that, as I'd probably explode with laughter the moment I found out.

The horror in red is one of the titleholders! If you are as smitten as you are expected to be, take note: (s)he is also in the next picture wearing a brunette wig. (S)he's versatile, as well as hot (for a Grandma in clown greasepaint)!

Without further ado, I introduce some of the Petticoat Princesses to you today:

This is "Christina" who says (as you'll see in her bio) "I just can't stop with the makeup!" (probably to cover the 5 o'clock shadow). (S)he obviously posed for these pictures in her own home. Her mental illness evidences itself in her preternaturally clean home and strange choice of apparel. (S)he apparently idolizes Joan Rivers, post Plastic Surgical Procedure #209.

Notice (s)he's licking his/her lips suggestively in this next pic. You can almost hear Grandpa Bob saying "Whoa, nellie!"

Although I mentioned Magilla Gorilla a couple posts ago, I forgot to include a snapshot of him. Allow me to remedy the problem...

Here's Hard Hat Hallie: a woman who is not afraid to be doing construction work outside all day, and yet she still is willing to come home and dress up for her man without even pausing to bathe first, apparently! Now that's devotion.

Heeeeere's "Lucy". (S)he's a nice Irish girl who is here to remind us that our next major holiday is St. Patty's Day! (S)he likes Petticoat Junction, green beer, and remembers when King George V was named "King of Ireland" in 1927.

If you're lucky, (s)he may be wearin' the green and participating in other festivities in a bar near you!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Lupercalia Day!

According to tradition, Valentine was a Catholic bishop who was martyred for his faith. He's now omitted from the calendar of saints' days because he probably never existed. His festival was on the 14th of February, but the custom of sending ‘valentines’ to a loved one on that day seems to have arisen because the day coincided with the Roman mid-February festival of Lupercalia.

Lupercalia was a festival in celebration of Romulus and Remus, the two brothers who were supposedly raised by wolves (like Tom Cruise). So how was the original holiday celebrated?

Two village boys were annointed with blood and milk, and then (dressed in goat skins) they went running through the town streets with whips, hitting anyone they could. It was a purification ceremony of sorts. You were lucky if you got hit.

In fact, this is where the month February gets it's name; from the Roman word februa, which means purification.

As time went by, a sort of lottery system evolved, where available girls put their names in a box to be drawn out by the young men of the city. Look at it as the first recorded instance of "blind dates".

Typical of the Catholic Church, in it's continued attempt to absorb and replace pagan traditions, Lupercalia was eventually compromised to a "saint" day, and people drew the names of different saints, instead of phone numbers.

You can see why this never took off.

Eventualy the singles lottery emerged again during the medieval days of romance and chivalry. And from there, it evolved into the actual exchanging of valentines.

I think we make too much of Valentine's Day. There are many people who are very depressed on this day, because they're without a "significant other". And for many of us, our true valentines are our children or our families, no matter whom may come into (or walk out of) our lives.

So, I am recommending that we go back to Lupercalia festivities. Of course the jewelers may be reluctant about this, I'm sure. But instead of churning out diamond-studded whatnots, they could create jewelry in the theme of wolves.

Card companies could start putting out little sentiments that emphasize how family-oriented wolves are, and how wolves mate for life.

Instead of the occasional Olympic torch running, we would now have youths dressed in goatskin, running yearly through the streets with whips. And because it's good luck to be whipped, we'll all have a front row seat to see every member in Congress line up for a much-deserved whipping.

It could work.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Weirdest Marriage Proposal

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I'm going to share one of the weirdest marriage proposals I've ever received.

When I was in my early 20s (in the 1990s) I worked for a major national corporation and part of my job duties required regularly flying to Miami. Sometimes I stayed overnight and once I even stayed there an entire month, living in one of the corporate condos on the beach. Yeah, yeah, it was a rough life. I was married at the time, however, and disliked the lengthy separations.

Anyway, one day I was at corporate headquarters in downtown Miami, and popped out for lunch. There was a very nice little 'food court' area nearby, it was a beautiful sunny day, and it was within easy walking distance.

A business man was standing on the teaming sidewalk. He was very expensively dressed and had an air of lese majeste about him. He looked like Julio Iglesias' twin. (Perhaps he was Julio, I don't know. I've never been a fan of arrogant, sun-fried men). Our eyes met, and he looked as if he'd been smacked upside the head by Magilla Gorilla.

I smiled pleasantly and nodded as I passed, and he fell into step with me. I don't remember how he struck up the conversation, but I think he began by asking directions somewhere. Not being from Miami, I couldn't help him at all, and told him so.

He had a very thick hispanic accent; the kind that makes some women swoon. "Where are you goink?" he asked, keeping pace with me.

"I'm heading for lunch," I said, still pleasant. Being younger then, I wasn't as adept at shaking someone off as I am now. I was still in a stage where being mannerly and friendly was of much greater importance than it is now.

"Why don' I join you?" he asked, smoothly.

"Um, OK," I said cautiously. I knew I was going to be eating in a very public place. "I'm married," I added, hastily.

"Oh zat ees of no matter," he said, smiling a toothy grin. "Eet ees only lunch." Which, I told myself, was entirely true. My husband ate lunch with female friends, I had lunch with guy friends, what was the big deal?

We had a nice, casual lunch in the middle of a vast food court, open to a sunny sky. We chatted about this and that. I never quite got what he was in Miami for (could've been drug running, for all I know). When we were done eating, I politely excused myself.

"Oh, let me walk you back," he offered.

"Please don't trouble yourself," I said with forced gaiety.

"Oh no, no. But I in-seest!" he said, gallantly. So, we traipsed back to my office. Just before we reached the office, he gently took my arm and pulled me over to a bench, asking me to sit down.

"I want to tell you somesink," he announced, solemnly. "I want you to marry me and haf my babiez."


"Well, heh heh, that's kind of hard to do, seeing as I'm already married," said smooth-tongued Saur, nervously.

"Ah but zat ees not a problem," he said.

"Er, well, it is for me, though..." I answered wittily, looking desperately about for someone I knew who could extricate me from this.

"Ah well, why don' you zink about eet and let me know?" he suggested, handing me his card. I hastily jumped up, relieved at being let off so lightly, and thanked him politely for the proposal just as I'd thank old Mrs. O'Hara for a plate of homemade cookies.

I bolted for the corporate offices and threw the business card in the first trashcan I could find. I couldn't get rid of it fast enough. Of course for the rest of the day, I had to regale all my colleagues with a re-enactment of that awkward moment and for months evereebodee talked like zees...

So here is my advice to you today: If you're planning on proposing to your honey this Valentine's Day, make sure you've known her for at least 24 hours, first. And don't use a cheesy accent.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Biblical Canon + Abraham

A warning: If your faith is shaky and you don't wish to have it challenged in any way, please don't read any further. I'm serious. This is a theological debate.

Let me first define the Biblical Canon. The canon is the generally accepted collection of different writings that compose the Bible today.

How many of you realize that the "Bible" we all use today was repeatedly argued about down through the centuries? Martin Luther, for example, thought James, Jude, and Revelation unfit to be included among the canonical books. If you don't believe me, read a book about the canon or even do a google on this. If we had used Luther's recommended version, our Bibles today would be without those books. And the Catholic Church had many councils which met in an attempt to decide what to include, and what not to include.

In fact, there have always been controversy and questions surrounding the Bible, even by those who professed to love it greatly (and attempted to follow its teachings). And there have always been compromises. You see, the "Bible" at one time was just a collection of letters and writings (that were recopied faithfully and accurately, from what we can tell). And the question was always what was inspired (sanctioned) by God and what wasn't.

I can get into more details at another time if any one is interested. But here are the beginnings of a point I'd like to make: There have always been different ways of looking at the Bible - this is not simply a modern-time phenomenon. In fact, only in the last couple of hundred years or so have we been accustomed to thinking that this collection of writings, and only this collection, is the Bible.

Many rigid interpretations are made by people who never knew this. Sometimes a rigid interpretation is backed by scripture when its based on a passage that has remained true, no matter how many times it's been recopied. Scholars can look at very ancient writings (such as some of the Dead Sea Scrolls) and say with authority that the original manuscripts have not changed.

But some of the Dead Sea Scrolls contain passages which perhaps should be included in a new canon. These passages are "Prophecies by Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Daniel not found in the Bible are written in the Scrolls," "... never before seen psalms attributed to King David and Joshua," and "The scrolls contain previously unknown stories about biblical figures such as Enoch, Abraham, and Noah. The story of Abraham includes an explanation why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac." (my emphasis here)

In fact, there is now a Dead Sea Scrolls Bible which obviously differs from the standard Bible that we use.

Abraham And The Sacrifice of Isaac

I am ordering the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible, because I would dearly love to see any explanation whatsoever for Abraham's behavior in Genesis 22:1-18. I'm going to reprint it here to save you from trying to hunt it down. It's in the New American Standard version, which is an exceedingly accurate translation (more on translations at another time, if you wish):

1 Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
2 He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."
3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son; and he split wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4 On the third day Abraham raised his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
5 Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey, and I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship and return to you."
6 Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
7 Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." And he said, "Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
8 Abraham said, "God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." So the two of them walked on together.
9 Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10 Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
12 He said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."
13 Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son.
14 Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided."
15 Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven,
16 and said, "By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17 indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
18 "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

I read a rapturous recap of this in another blog and it was said this is an example of following God unquestioningly. I'm not naming the blog, because I don't have permission and the person who published it is very sweet and wise in many ways. This is simply something we disagree about.

But I see this differently than many do.

I see Abraham as being a very poor father, and a man who actually did not understand God whatsoever. God was testing him, yes. But it proved how little Abraham actually knew God. So to me the test was not how well Abraham loved God, or how obedient he was. Instead, it was how well he knew Him. And he failed, miserably.

The Judeo-Christian God is not a god that wishes for human sacrifice. I don't think he's a god of love either (that oversimplifies God).

I also am disturbed by how calloused Abraham was. It doesn't say he did it with a heavy heart although elsewhere in scripture we are told when a protagonist is upset about something. Additionally, Abraham lies to Isaac through evading his question. How is that behavior proper?

I think this shows us (more than anything else) that Abraham was human, and failed at times. It also shows the mercy of God (since He stayed Abraham's hand). But...Abraham was an idiot here, and entirely wrong. I believe it's a mistake to hold him up as an example of unquestioning faith.

Besides, oddly enough, God admits in the end that he's testing Abraham for fear.

Even though (as we are told elsewhere in the Bible) "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," Abraham was only beginning to get a little wisdom, here. God could certainly have been testing for fear, but I don't believe that is all Abraham was being tested for.

Look, I realize that God acknowleges that Abraham loves Isaac. But just how much did he love Isaac? Well, Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac blindly without discussing it further with God (although he argued God to the mat in his attempt to save Sodom earlier).

And... if God doesn't condone Human Sacrifice, and we consider murder a sin, wouldn't his tempting Abraham to do it really mean that he was tempting Abraham to sin? And if Abraham contemplated it, wasn't he sinning in his heart, if not in deed? These are not easy questions to think about.

In the past, Abraham and his wife Sarah both were often caught doing the wrong (or at least questionable) things:

1. Abraham's offering Sarah to the Pharoah and claiming she was his sister in order to avoid trouble (Gen. 12: 11-20). Incidentally, it is quite likely that the Pharoah consumated his 'marriage' to Sarah, which is why God sent such horrible plagues to beset him. Abraham also made the same lie to the King of Gerar (Gen. 20) at a much later date, with similar consequences.

2. Abraham's questioning God's judgement with Sodom (Gen 18).

3. Abraham's taking Hagar on as a wife because both he and Sarah didn't believe God's promise to provide an heir (Gen 13:14-18, 15:18 and 16).

4. Sarah's laughing at the angels and later lying about it (Gen 18:12-15).

They are not people we can take on indubitably as role models. We need to be more careful about summing up these stories as nice, neat little homilies. They're more complex than that.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gettin' Saur With It

Warning to Puritans and Men With Pacemakers: Hot Babe Below - Watch Out!

Out of sheer boredom the other day, I googled my name (Saur, of course!) I was surprised to find out that it means smoked in French. Pretty cool, huh? As in "I've saured the competition," "I saured him but good," and "I saured the whole cigar" (I'll bet Monica Lewinsky never admitted to that!)

I was especially impressed when I pulled up a French company named Saur with a kick-butt musical opening and beautiful graphics. So what if it's a wastewater treatment company? It's Saur! Who's tag line is "Harmony is the source of progress!" That's such a great fortune-cookie line that I might steal it myself, or work it into daily conversations. And their logo looks quite spanky, doesn't it?

I also discovered there's a professional bodybuilder named Monica Saur who is covered with muscles but still looks great in a swimsuit (as you can see). Gee...her pic was taken in front of a hay bale. It couldn't be an obvious play on "roll in the hay", could it?

I also found a Saur company in Brazil. They apparently lead very dull lives, and deal in tractors and other large, boring equipment. Their colorful map is cool, though, and has repeated squiggles that go through it.

Then of course you've heard of Saur Times, right? Yup, me neither. Maybe I should rename my site! Actually, I believe this is some sort of weird typefont that was developed by, you guessed it, someone with nothing better to do and lots of time on their hands.

I love the little plug from Ebay to the side of the search. It reads "Looking for Saur? Find exactly what you want today!" I think that's exceedingly hopeful. I'm just not that kinda girl.

Of course we Saurs are very important people, so there's a Saur Coat of Arms.

There's also a Saur Restaurant in the Netherlands with more fancypants graphics, though the theme song has developed a hiccup (maybe as a result of the food?). If one of us ever wins the lottery, we can fly over there for brunch. It claims it's the best restaurant in Europe, so I'm sure it's true.

There's a worm named VBS.saur.A, but we won't talk about such a Saur. It's beneath us. (Do you like the way I've acquired the royal "we"? This coat of arms is really getting to me).

But perhaps best of all, there's a Bible named after me: The Saur Bible. I'll bet you can't say that! It was the first European Bible printed in American in 1743. "Christoph Saur (1693–1758) printed the first European language Bible in America, using Fraktur (a German style of black letter) type obtained from the Luther Foundry of Frankfurt, Germany. It took three years to complete the printing and the edition was 1200 copies at a price of 18 shillings. For the poor, Saur wrote, 'we have no price'."

Now you know more about us Saurs than you'd ever hoped to. And I've discovered that I need to be charging royalties. I'm starting with the water treatment company first. I don't think the Saur Bible will pay off.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Muslim Cartoons

In an effort to fan the flames and re-energize the troops, the leaders of the Hottentots in the Muslim world are fixating on some recent cartoons in a Danish newspaper.

If you want to see the cartoons that have been causing such a brouhaha, go here. I am tempted to say that it's much ado about nothing. Yet I admit that I understand why they were insulted. After all, political cartoons are often meant to insult and these were no different. I also want to point out that I have some "sacred cows" I wouldn't want slaughtered in the editorial cartoons, either.

But we all have had it happen to us. Heroes and celebrities have been ridiculed since man put chisel to rock. Jesus was mocked in his own time and I'm sure if the printing press had been invented, the Pharisees and Saducees would've been printing tons of pamphlets with editorial cartoons about him. Somehow I can't see Jesus encouraging anyone to chop off their heads. In fact, when Peter swung at someone who was actually attacking Jesus, and chopped off his ear, Jesus rebuked Peter and stuck the ear back on (Luke 22:51).

I hear conservative talk show hosts say (very self-righteously) that we don't riot when a religious icon is pilloried. Well, perhaps that's to our detriment, huh? Should we really suffer such insults so lightly?

And yet the riots in the Muslim world are most obviously over-reactions and, as I said, an attempt to inflame the masses there.

The main argument I've heard is that they don't tolerate Mohammed being portrayed under any circumstances. If that were truly the case, then there would have been many more riots down through the centuries, since Mohammed has been repeatedly portrayed in both cartoons and illustrations, as you can see here. Perhaps the most obviously "insulting" ones are the illustrations to Dante's Inferno, where Mohammed is tortured as an unbeliever for eternity. Of course, I need to point out that Dante and his fans really believed this, and he wasn't attempting to mock Mohammed.

"Above all else, the Devil cannot stand to be mocked," C. S. Lewis wrote. Am I equating Mohammed to the Devil? No, although I believe the Devil deserves his due in all of this. Mohammed's followers are desperately using this opportunity to create as much unrest as possible. I'm sure there will be uneducated suicide bombers that will use these cartoons as an excuse to attack even more innocents. The only way we'll stop them is to make them feel very silly about all of this. We cannot take their censorship demands seriously. I don't believe that even they take them seriously. If they had, we would have heard about this long ago.

P.S. Thanks for all the kind comments and prayers. I need them. ;o)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Dollmaker

(Remember, you can click on any of these pics to see them larger)

3 Score & 10 recently asked me if the witchdoctor in my last post was a doll. He isn't (to my knowlege) though it's a great picture, isn't it? I suspect its a photoshopped picture, though they may have hired an actor to sit behind a desk, for all I know.

But it got me to thinking about a dollmaker that I interviewed several years ago, and I thought you all might be interested in the story. I was very impressed, and I've never even liked dolls!

I've been blessed with a wide variety of jobs, and during the time that I had this particular one, my assignment was to interview different local businesses. I actually just stumbled into this business by chance one day.

Rustie's International creates breathtakingly gorgeous dolls. Rustie hand-sculpts each individual prototype doll's face from clay. The dolls all have strikingly different faces, incidentally. When it's exactly where she wants it, she fires it and creates the body. When the doll is complete, she makes a mold of it and then delicately handpaints all the fine details and handsews the outfit. Of course Rustie has a couple assistants who help her, but this woman is amazingly talented, and she is the sculptress. (She employs friends and relatives. What a wonderful family business!)

Then the doll is marketed. The Home Shopping Network (HSN) is housed here in Clearwater, and is often one of Rustie's clients. So is The Danbury Mint.

Rustie takes the prototype in for the buyers to examine. If they like what they see, they may order 100 or more. That's when Rustie gets busy.

Rustie has a contract with a factory in China, where she sends the prototype and the mold for mass production. They carefully copy the prototype down to the finest detail, and voila! It's ready to be sold on HSN.

If a particular prototype doesn't sell, it becomes a one-of-a-kind and there's also a huge market for that among doll collectors so it's always a win-win situation for Rustie.

I am truly envious of her talent and her job. Rustie is a gifted, unique individual. She is also exceptionally pleasant, and even took time to sit down with me (a total stranger) so that she could share a little bit of her time and enthusiasm with another.

Check out her website for even more of her fabulous dolls! As you can see, they're so lifelike you can find yourself waiting for them to breathe. You almost feel that you could be friends with one, would despise another... you might even finding yourself thinking "I'll bet she's a tramp in real life" before you catch yourself. ;o)

P.S. I am continuing to face some serious challenges, and would appreciate being in your thoughts and prayers at this time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

An Angie's List of Doctors?

Fred is currently discussing how often he hasn't been able to rely upon a doctor for a proper diagnosis. Instead, he has had to do his own research and taken the initiative repeatedly to get the medical care he's needed.

I've seen medical flubs numerous times. I wrote about how it's important to double check your prescriptions. Now let me tell you a couple stories that will raise your hair, and force you to re-think your medical care.

My friend Lorna is in her early 20s. She has had a painful fight with tumors in her uterus. She somehow suspected that she wasn't being properly treated (even though she has no medical background) and decided to do some research on her own. When she discovered there was apparently a link between uterine tumors and brain tumors, she approached her doctor about it. He dismissed it (after all, he had never heard about it!). Luckily Lorna worked for a radiology department, and was able to beg them to do an MRI on her. What did they find? You guessed it: a brain tumor. Now she is being treated properly. We have great hopes for her.

In my post Doctors: Just What Did Their Transcripts Read? I discussed how easy it is to find an incompetant doctor. In my own case, my extremely painful condition (2 shattered vertebrae in my neck and one cracked one) went undiagnosed for years because no doctor (and I saw specialists!) ever thought to order a simple test that would've immediately shown us all what the exact trouble was. Instead, I went through numerous injections in my neck, which made no difference at all; and years of physical therapy and massage which only made it worse. In this post I also discuss numerous misdiagnoses that have been made for other victims, including some famous local doozies.

Perhaps someone needs to put together an Angie's List of doctors. There seems to be no other way to ensure that the person you're going to received an "A" in your particular area of need.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Gay or Straight: A Choice?

I don't have Writer's Block, any more than I have Talker's Block (something many people wish I did have, periodically). Give me a subject and I'll discuss it, whether in speaking or in writing! But with so much crap going on right now, I am feeling rather blase about blogging.

Don't get me wrong! I am as interested in you as I've ever been. My life remains interesting as well (although perhaps a little too interesting).

After all, I could talk about the various debacles that are occurring right now. For instance, I have rotting rats peppered throughout my kitchen; behind walls, under cabinets, and in drawers. Only my intrepid next-door neighbor, a seasoned Vietnam vet, is willing to find and remove the corpses. I haven't been able to cook in there for a week. But do I blog about it? Heck no! It's rather horrid, and I'm burned out about it. Thank heavens it hasn't been so cold that I have to keep my windows shut. I'd have to move out at that point!

I could whine about my businesses. But, I also don't wish to be too specific. So, how could I whine effectively? Besides, whining doesn't take care of issues. It just inflicts small portions of misery on everyone else and I will be no less miserable for sharing.

Of course, I could tell funny stories and thus distract both myself and you, but I'm not feeling particularly funny on this cold, grey, wet winter day. And I'm not inspired to craft clever dialogue or witty repartee.

Still, this blog was born from a desire to enrich your life as well as mine. And today, I feel that I am not living up to that goal.

So, let me leave you with a very interesting excerpt from a Robert B. Parker novel ("Widow's Walk") which I just finished reading. Consider it food for thought. I have many gay and straight friends who will be interested in this fictional discussion.

Let me briefly set it up for you: There are four people having dinner together. One, Susan, is a brilliant counselor (who is modelled on Robert Parker's real-life wife). Another is her main squeeze and the protagonist of the book; Spencer (a private detective).

Susan is very upset, because a young patient of hers just killed himself. She is discussing this with Spencer and his friend Hawk, and Hawk's girlfriend-of-the-month, Estelle. Let's listen in:

"Do you know why he killed himself?"

"He was gay, and he didn't want to be," Susan said. "That's why he was seeing me. He desperately wanted to be straight."

"Isn't that a little outside the scope of your service?" I said.

As she talked, she began to focus on the subject, as she always did, and in doing so she came back into control.

"It is hideously incorrect to say that one can help people change their sexual orientation. But in fact I have had some success, in doing just that."

"Helping gay people to be straight?" Estelle was startled.

"Or straight people to be gay. I've had some success doing both. The trick is over time to find out where they want to go, and where they can go, and try to achieve one without violating the other."

"I've never heard of that," Estelle said.

She was genuinely interested, but there was that sound in her voice that doctors get which says, in effect, "If I haven't heard of it, it's probably wrong."

"No one is willing to incur the vast outrage that would ensue," Susan said.

"It's your experience," Hawk said.

"One ought not to have such an experience," Susan said. "And if one were stupid enough to have it, one should surely not talk about it."

"Shrinks, too," I said.

"Hard to believe," Hawk said.

"We've all known people who were married," Susan said, "and left the marriage for a same-sex lover. Why is it so impossible to imagine it happening the other way?"

"But who would be gay, if they could choose?" Estelle said.

"That is, of course, the existing prejudice," Susan said. "But it also implies that those who led straight lives could have chosen not to before they did."

Estelle didn't look too pleased about existing prejudice, but she didn't remark on it.

"I guess, as I think of it, that if a gay person entered into a straight relationship I'd assume it was only a cover-up."

"As if gay is permanent but straight is tenuous," Susan said.

"I hadn't thought of it quite that way before," Estelle said.

Susan nodded. "It's a hard question," she said.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Kid Divider

Here's an invention that really should have caught on. The patent was issued in 2001 and this is the actual illustration. Although it's for children, the guys in here actually look like escapees from a nearby insane asylum; so I'm thinking it would be useful for either kids or asylum inmates (and sometimes it's very difficult to tell the difference).

Just think! No more "Mommmm, he's touching me!" "No I'm not!" "Yes you are!" "Mommmmm!"

My parents would have killed for this invention. I don't see why it's not a raging success. I think it should be in every Toys R' Us, in the car seat aisle. I only see one problem: there were 3 of us. How do you create three zones in the backseat? I'm sure if the inventor returns to the drawing board, he'll find a solution. Or perhaps he could invent a way to strap the third kid to the roof...?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday, Sunday, Fun Day!

OK, I just had to put that title up. Those cheesy Monster Truck Rally announcers always have to say that, and SaurKid does the most hysterical mimic of this.

Anyway, we're all taking today off to go to Bush Gardens and generally enjoy the sunshine. Have a wonderful SuperBowl Sunday!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Roof Collapses

UPDATE: The mall's landlord is telling everyone that most of the businesses in that mall will be able to open again on Monday morning. Of course, Bed Bath & Beyond won't re-open until they are cleaned up and have a new roof(!)

This has been a real mess. The Tampa Bay Area has had one of the 4 wettest days in recorded history yesterday. Here's a video showing the amazing roof collapse that occurred yesterday morning at a nearby mall. I have close friends who own stores and work in this mall. No one knows when the stores will re-open, and the loss of income to these people is very real and very frightening. Please keep all the employees and owners in your prayers.

What's truly amazing is that only one person was mildly hurt, and no one was killed. When you see this, you'll wonder how everyone escaped. Employees at nearby stores heard a huge explosion, and the impact caused the windows to shatter outward. The glass blew out into the parking lot. Incredibly, no one was hit by the huge shards of glass.

A Human Interest Story Which Hasn't Been Reported: One woman began screaming that her child was missing and must be in the building. A heroic employee from a nearby store ran into Bed Bath & Beyond to rescue the child. After he'd gone in, the child was found in the group of people that had been evacuated. But even though he ended up empty-handed, that hero was still a hero for going in there.

Here's the video about the roof collapse.

Here's a video showing the incredible flooding and other interesting footage.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

My Mother at 18

My Mom at age 18, snapped by my Dad on the beach.
She still looks almost the same!
But even better, they're both in their 60s and still happily married.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Indoctrinating Our Children

Dear Principal Smith;

I'm writing with a certain amount of trepedition, because we are slightly concerned that this letter may have a negative impact on our daughter, Letitia, who is in Ms. Johnson's class. I ask that you keep our identity secret, if possible. We don't wish Ms. Johnson any ill, and don't want Letitia to face any kind of complications.

However, as we were driving along after school yesterday, I brought up the entire Bush/wiretapping incident that is currently going on. Much to my surprise, she already knew about it, because Ms. Johnson had the class analyze a political cartoon concerning it. Then Ms. Johnson treated the class to her own opinion about the matter, which is that Bush did something illegal and unconstitutional.

I happen to agree with Ms. Johnson! But that isn't the point.

The point is that I am more than happy to have Ms. Johnson educate my child on world and national issues. But she is not entitled to tell her how to think about them.

My daughter already had the preconceived notion that Bush was doing wrong. It happens to be the same thing that *I* believe. But, what if she had been told otherwise?

Our teachers don't have the right to tell our children what to think when it comes to anything that isn't factual. They are there to present the facts alone. It would have been much more fair if she'd said "Some people say this, while others say that" and let the children draw their own conclusions.

Is this a common practice in your school? I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter. At what point do you draw the line when it comes to having your own personal opinion? Politics? Religion? They're not that far apart, especially when it comes to certain gray areas.

If you'd like to recommend further reading to Ms. Johnson about the Bush/wiretapping incident, I highly recommend this editorial in the St. Pete Times today. It's a very balanced reading of the situation, and I agree with what he says. Please note that I am NOT saying that Ms. Johnson merely needs to be more informed on the topic. I'm saying that it is not her business to impose her opinions on our children. Period.

Dr. Saur Kraut

Principal Smith wrote back assuring me that she was in complete agreement and would follow-up with me once she'd tackled the teacher on this. I have yet to hear a peep out of Principal Smith.