Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My True Ghost Story

I never leared what a Shadow Person was until a year ago. Those people that believe in ghosts or Shadow People will be interested in this story. Was it a ghost? A demon? A Shadow Person?

Shadow People are supposedly dark, with vague humanoid shapes, but they're not like ghosts. They're often distinguished by glowing, red eyes. People who have spotted them report feelings of dread, which is quite believable.

I probably don't need to reassure you that I'm not making this up. Why would I bother? There will be plenty of people that will accord this to temporary insanity, I'm sure. I'd like to add that I'm not prone to hallucinations or hysteria and I'm no ninny. My ex-husband is as somber as a judge and wouldn't dream of pranking me. His idea of getting wild and crazy was having a beer during Superbowl.

All that being said, here's what I/we encountered.

It was the fall of 1992, and I had just bought a house here in the Tampa Bay Area, Florida, with my ex-husband. The woman who'd owned the house had just died (in a nearby hospital) and her husband had predeceased her by at least a couple years. She had been a peculiar old woman, by all accounts. When she died, her son sold us the house, and everything in the house, including her beautiful antiques, her clothes, her personal jewelry (including solid gold watches). We wondered why he wanted no mementos of her whatsoever. Even the realtor (a family friend of ours) was surprised: He had never seen anything like that.

It took us an extra two weeks, working feverishly at night, to sort out what we wanted to keep and what we sold or donated to charity. One of the odd things that we gave away included a creepy looking hand-crafted, embroidered doll which was left squarely in the center of her bed. It was labelled "The Dammit Doll". My husband and I discussed it at that time, noting that it was the something we'd never seen or heard of before. (It looked similar to the one pictured here.)

This house was built in 1963, and was a classic old Rutenberg home (a guy who built a lot of good, sturdy homes back then). It was concrete block and lathe.

The first thing we noticed after we'd moved in was the creaking at night, as if someone was tiptoeing over creaky floorboards. The problem being, of course, that this was a concrete block house, and there was no wood anywhere (except in the attic). Certainly there was none on the floors, which were terrazzo. OK, that was creepy, but we put it down to 'an old house settling'.

The next thing that happened were the rats. We lived in an area that used to be an old citrus grove, so there were still citrus trees around. Enough, anyway, to harbor citrus rats. So, they weren't uncommon in the neighborhood. What was uncommon is that they suddenly decided to nest in our attic! And I don't mean that a small family moved in. At night it sounded like the Brazilian Soccer Team was up there. We'd lay there and hear a BUMP, then skitterskitterskitter as they would run in a pack across the attic...back and forth, all night.

They were so cute that I didn't have the heart to kill them at first. First we tried 'kind traps' and released a couple into the wild. Then we tried glue traps. Nothing was slowing the team down. Finally we tried poison and ended up with the equivalent of Rat Auschwitz in our attic. It was disgusting and I felt very guilty. My husband was given the enjoyable task of climbing up there and retrieving the corpses regularly. I didn't, because I was pregnant at the time. (Since then, I bought a new house that also had a rat infestation at one point, so I don't claim that it's an uncommon occurence in itself).

Here's the next thing that happened:

We slept in her old bedroom. They had that kind of old-fashioned relationship where he slept in the room down the hall, had his own bath, and she had hers. We converted his bedroom to a nursery, and during that time his toilet in that bathroom started flushing. All night.

We did what we could. My husband changed the rubber thingies in the back of the toilet (sorry, I'm not a plumber so I can't tell you what these parts are called, but he knew what he was doing). He did it repeatedly, but the toilet kept flushing itself.

Then we started hearing someone outside the window at night, crunching through the leaves. We'd look out and no one was there. May I add that this was in a VERY good neighborhood that was well-lit, even though it was older. There was no chance that we had a transient, and if we had, we would've seen him/her. Also, there were old bushes grown up outside the windows. You could see out and in but they were formidable to get through so it wouldn't be easy for a living human to be walking directly under the windows. In fact, it wasn't possible.

All that was beginning to get on my nerves, what with a new baby coming and all...

Then the straw that broke the camel's back:

Everyone who's had a baby knows that when you're pregnant you need to pee a lot more than you ever did before. It's hard to squeeze another human into your body cavity and still have room for other stuff. So, in my 6th month on, I had to get up at least a couple times a night to pee.

Here is a slightly out-of-proportion diagram of this portion of the house, and I will describe it, too:

Our bedroom was good-sized, probably about 10x12. It had two doors leading from it. One door entered the hallway. At the end of that hallway was the nursery. The other door entered the bathroom. The bathroom also had a door that opened onto the hallway. If you left both doors open and sat on the toilet in the bathroom (shown as an oval), you could see into the room and down the hallway into the other room.

Now... when I wake up, I wake up. There's no sleepwalking or even a half-somnolent stage. I've often wished I could only partially wake up. It takes a long time, sometimes upwards of an hour, to get back to sleep again once I get up.

Well, one night I woke up, and my bladder was calling to me. I lazily got up and went into the bathroom, without closing all doors. Those of you who've been in long-term relationships know that after a while, all privacy is gone anyway and it was in the dark, with no lights on.

I sat down on the toilet, stretching leisurely. Ok, I know this doesn't present a pretty picture: a naked pregnant woman sitting on a toilet. But stay with me on this.

I looked down the hallway, toward the nursery, and saw two red eyes. Yeah, they were as red as Christmas tree lights and they were at the level and distance apart that eyes should be.

I never believed in ghosts or psychic phenomenon, so I figured I was getting some sort of fake lights in my eyes...the kind you get if you're in a dark cave with no light. So I blinked, looked away to the bathroom window and the gray patch of sky outside, then looked back down the hall...and the eyes were still there.

That's when I really started getting spooked. I knew I wasn't mistaken. I had no idea what the thing was, but it was unnerving. I started thinking through different possibilities. Were they lights from some electrical device my husband had installed without telling me? Were they some sort of reflection? They couldn't be. The way they were positioned, they couldn't be a reflection of anything whatsoever.

Then the eyes started to move, and The Thing started coming down the hall toward me. I screamed like only Jamie Lee Curtis can scream and my husband woke up and turned on the light in a flash...and The Thing was gone.

Of course he looked all over the house on my insistence. I was sure there was some sort of intruder in the house with us! But all windows were sealed, all doors were locked, and nothing was inside or outside.

After that I decided it was time to do something! I considered getting a priest out there to exorcise the place, but I'm not Catholic. So, I settled on praying The Thing out of my house. I prayed all the time. If I'd been Catholic I would've worn out my rosary. By the time the baby was born, the noises had gone and I never saw The Thing again.

But...what WAS it???

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Ferret Cage

(NOTE: pictures below)

For the last two weeks, we've been working on a ferret cage for SaurKid's pet, Basil.

You see, we've apparently developed allergies to this darling little animal. He's a bit stinky, too, no matter how much we clean his cage (and he's descented!). However, he's amazingly sweet tempered and there's just no way that we can bring ourselves to part with him.

My doctor has said that he has often contemplated providing a service where ninja assassins will (for a hefty fee) break into a client's home and kill the pet that is causing all the allergies. This way there is no guilt associated with doing the dirty deed yourself, and your kids won't blame you. Although he says there's another doctor who already wants "in" on the franchise, I doubt the business would take off.

Basil won't always be able to stay outdoors. Right now, the plan is to relocate him to this play cage every day but bring him in at night. When it gets too cold or too hot, he'll be back in his "home" in the spare room until the temperature's livable again.

Nice, massive cages cost a fortune. If we didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a cage, we needed to build it ourselves. I discussed the initial layout with my dad and SaurKid. Originally, it was just going to be a simple, large plywood frame with some shelving. It would cost roughly a couple hundred dollars.

As I was thinking about it one day, I suddenly realized I might be able to utilize something which was already preconstructed: A used entertainment center! With a little modification, it might turn out better than we'd ever hoped, and it might cut out some time, too!

I drove around to the local thrift shops and found an ideal one for $40. I paid another $20 to have it delivered to our back porch, and we began the modifications. My dad helped locate a couple tools and cut the plywood back to part of it and Michelle's hubby helped with some parts I couldn't do alone. The rest was assembled by SaurKid and I. Altogether, it cost roughly $200 to create it:

The front and back sections which were open were covered in hardware cloth and mosquito screen, even though Michelle's hubby expressed doubts that any mosquito in her right mind would want to bite a stinky ferret. Yup, that's a pet door in the middle! It makes for easy access into the center area.

This is to prove to you that anyone could do this. I'm hardly Ms. FixIt. I spent over an hour putting a hinge on this door and ended up with many spent nails and two cracked fingernails as a result of it. I finally superglued the damned thing, and it seems to be holding very well.

You can buy a "hole saw" attachment to a drill, and it's loads of fun to use! Holes went everywhere. SaurKid had to restrain me, or the thing would've looked like swiss cheese! I also put contact paper down everywhere, to make it easier to clean up. We do have one concern: There's a lot of particle board in there. Hopefully, he'll remember where the litterbox is and if he doesn't, I can replace the parts with plywood.

This is the area he can retreat to if he wants complete privacy. There are no openings except for the holes which lead to the more open parts of the cage.

This is the jungle gym area. There's a hole at the top and bottom. I bought a heavy duty rain slicker and cut it to fit the areas I wanted, then put in grommets and used zip ties to fasten them down. These little yellow trampolines give him "steps" up and down.

Here Lord Basil is inspecting his new mansion. He seemed to like it a great deal, and immediatly went inside and ran through his crinkle tunnel (a long tunnel made of fabric and something that is wonderfully crinkly and appeals to his ferrety sense of play).

P.S. I made another addition this morning: outdoor gray carpeting. It's pretty indestructible, though we'll see what ferrets can do to it.

That's right: Ferrets. Basil's been very lonely, and SaurKid isn't always here to play with him, and I'm deathly allergic to him so *I* can't play with him, and I can't let him play with my two hypoallergenic dogs. So, I bought him a playmate today: Irene, a very dark little girl with a bandit's mask. She has the same, sweet temperment that Basil has. I named her after Irene Adler, the only woman that Sherlock Holmes ever admired. (I'll take pictures later. I can't wait to see SaurKid's face!)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Stairway to Heaven

My first boyfriend (let's call him "Jeff") is still a close friend of mine, even though he lives in another state. In fact, it's quite likely he's going to read this story about us!

Jeff became my boyfriend when I was a very mature 15. He was 19. I was wild about him. But he was always a gentleman and as cautious as a cat on a hot tin roof. Can we say jail bait? I think we can.

But we had wonderful times! Although we're now older and our own kids are close to that age, we remember everything just as if we were still in our teens. Both of our families were close, and it was very easy to float between households, and no one thought twice about leaving me alone with Jeff.

They were right to trust us. It's funny, because teens were just as over-sexual as they are now, but we had a ball without ever having sex, or anything close to it. There was always something to be done: Walking the dog on a nearby golf course in the moonlight, projects of some sort or another, dinner, movies, hobbies, friends... Jeff had a fish tank, and could often be found with his arms submerged into the fish tank, mucking about. I could be found nearby, chatting with him while he wiped green ooze from the walls of the aquarium. We followed where our whims led us.

Jeff's father (not understanding us and being somewhat psycho) once caught me sitting on Jeff's bed while Jeff was (of course) elbow-deep in fish. Jeff's bedroom door was open, incidentally. He asked me to leave, and then proceeded to chew Jeff out for having a girl in his bedroom. What if something happened, he asked? As Jeff pointed out dryly to him, it's rather hard to be romantically entangled when you're covered in fish gunk.

Neither one of us ever were very thrilled with his father (who was in the process of divorcing his mother at that time). But Jeff's mom was like the favorite aunt that everyone should have. She taught me to drive, to draw (she's a fantastic artist, just as Jeff is) and affected my life in so many positive ways. On the weekends, I'd spend the night at her house (I was very good friends with her daughter) and her home was filled with teens, love, and laughter, a large, loveable dog, and a tankful of fish.

One night we were sitting around when Jeff came bursting through the door waving an old Led Zeppelin record he'd gotten ahold of somehow. "Look what I've got!" he said enthusiastically. "Have you ever heard that when you play this record backwards, you can hear Satanic lyrics in Stairway to Heaven?"

Excitedly, we all went running to the stereo, where he tinkered for a moment with the turntable. With bated breath, we all waited as he lowered the needle onto the disk. Even Jeff's mom hovered behind us, watching. The record started playing backwards. "Snarf sneef reburrr snyok liblieef dreburbli," warbled Led Zeppelin, demonically.

We waited a little longer, but never found anything that was much better than that. Jeff finally had to admit defeat, disgustedly. So much for the evils of rock n' roll. But Stairway to Heaven remains one of my favorite rock anthems of all time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Can We Count on Your Vote?

I got a call from (Florida gubernatorial candidate) Charlie Crist's office last night. My caller ID flashed that it was the Republican Party. I picked it up. The woman on the other end was quite patronizing. Let's call her Marge.

Marge asked me if I knew about early voting. I didn't want to say anything sharp and nasty, but come on! I drive past places every day, read the paper, and unless I was living under a rock, it's a pretty sure bet I'd know about it. Sure there are old shut-ins that don't know, but these people need to tailor their speeches accordingly. If someone sounds young, don't ask them questions like that!

Then Marge asked if they could count on my vote. "Sure," I said vaguely, while watching SaurKid play Creatures on our main family computer (it's a wonderful game!). The truth is that I'm more inclined to vote for Jim Davis (Democrat) at this point.

Marge then got really excited. "Could we count on your help? Right now we're paying Precinct Walkers $25 to walk their neighborhoods for just a short amount of time." Good gravy! Was this nightmarish call never going to end? I had pictures of going door-to-door, handing out literature for a candidate that I didn't particularly like:

"So," my neighbor would say. "Why should I vote for Crist?"
"I have no idea!" I would say, with some surprise, and then scuttle away.

I told Marge that I really didn't have time for that. We wished each other a good night and hung up.

I hope Crist's office isn't taking the results of these calls too seriously.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Danny Rolling: Buh Bye!

First, look at this picture that's in The St. Pete Times today. Is that not nasty? I mean, who thought this looked yummy? It's a green apple with the Bubonic Plague!!! Gack!

OK, on to Danny Rolling, may-he-not-rest-in-peace. As my grandmother would have said, "Good riddance to bad rubbish".

I had just left Gainesville when Danny Rolling struck. He killed multiple people during his little crime spree; raping and mutilating them terribly. The object was to terrorize, and he did. It's rather hard to return to college when your next-door neighbors were hacked up, with various pieces artfully displayed throughout their blood-spattered apartment.

As with many criminals, Danny apparently experienced a "conversion" in jail and died singing a self-penned hymn and quoting scripture. If he's lucky, the conversion was genuine. But if his victims are lucky, it wasn't. You see, I believe in a heaven and hell and it gives me comfort in times like these, because a simple, painless death was much, much less than he deserved. But, at least we don't have to continue to foot the bill that kept him alive and well-fed.

One person said "No matter how heinous his crimes were, for us to do the same thing — to kill him — it doesn’t make sense." You're right, buddy. You know what? It doesn't make sense to keep him artificially caged like an animal, either! How about we just let him go? I know! Let's let all the criminals go! That would make a lot more sense, right?

People who advocate keeping Death Row Criminals alive should have a higher tax rate so that it's their money that goes to keeping these guys alive. The cost to keeping one Florida Death Row Inmate alive is $80 per day. But heck, Danny's worth it, right? Until it comes out of your pocket.

Buh bye, Danny Rolling. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Me, Me, Me

My Business Troubles

I mentioned on Friday and Monday that I am having difficulties with someone who is attempting to destroy my business (let's call him Vlad the Impaler). I wish it were mere paranoia, but I am assured by many people that it's happening. Also, his methods are hardly subtle.

There are times that I wish fervently that I lived in the 1800s. Then, you could walk by a competitor on the sidewalk and settle your differences with fisticuffs. Or a heavy walking stick. Or both.

Sadly, lawyers like Barbara had to go and muck it all up. Barbara, is it possible they might make an exception for me? I'm a little smaller than he is, but I think I can take him.

I'd like to go into more detail, but there is a slight chance that Vlad may find out about this blog. Since I need to save the material for my attorney (should I need to take this to court), I can't disclose any more than I already have.

Thank you so much for your well-wishes and your prayers. Like an interminably long war movie, the struggle is on-going.

Life in General

Since this post is all about me, let me gripe a little. My time is not my own anymore! There are so many things to be done, and when I can sleep, they keep roiling about in my head. I keep paper and pencil near the bed, so that if I wake up with something stuck in there, I can get it out by writing it down. It helps to a certain extent.

My Ex-Boyfriend

My ex continues to battle his drug addiction. Every time he saves up a little money for the basic necessities, he has a struggle between choosing between them, or crack cocaine. I'm sorry to say that he still is not familiar with what the truth is, and I believe he may suffer from some brain damage.

I continue to keep a relative distance, while trying to be emotionally supportive. There are times he's fine, then there are times that he descends into severe OCD behavior and will call repeatedly every 5 minutes, no matter how many times I beg him to stop. He seems to lose all sense of time during these apparent (crack induced?) panic attacks. His cell phone was turned off recently, and I'm happy to say that it's given me some much-needed peace.

I offer help to friends or family in need, but they also must help themselves or eventually I will withdraw. He seems to be making slight progress, but only time will tell.

My Son

Halloween is coming and SaurKid is so excited! We haven't decided what he's going to be, yet, but we're running out of time. We go costume shopping on Thursday, but I'm wondering if I should hit E-Bay, instead. It makes it so much easier, as long as delivery is on time!

The Weather

It went from hot to a nice (but brief) period of warm and breezy and then the cold snap hit us yesterday, like a ton of bricks. It is freezing in the mornings; in the 50s, I think. Why can't it always be in the 70s with a light breeze? I'll tell ya why: every yankee in the U.S. would move here, Florida would tip into the ocean, and we'd become another Atlantis. Still, a couple more balmy days would be nice...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Saur Meets The Lazy Iguana

One weekend, I called my friend, The Lazy Iguana, and asked "What are you doing tomorrow?"

"Nothing," replied Lazy.

"Great!" I said, and asked if he wanted to play Tour Guide in Miami. Lazy had an even better idea: He volunteered to bring out his boat and we'd cruise around the waters of Miami. I have no idea what sort of boat it is (he'll be happy to tell you, I'm sure) but it was a very nice boat to jet about in.

I arrived at the docks that morning to find Lazy had already put his boat in the water (not an easy task, so perhaps Lazy isn't as lazy as he advertises). I hopped on board and he made such an excellent tour guide that I told him a couple of times that he should consider doing it professionally. He is a wealth of information and it's all interesting!

One of our stops was at Monument Island. You can only get to Monument Island via boat; there are no bridges and it's not within swimming distance. It was originally a bare, manmade island that was once perfectly round. It's now overgrown with shrubbery and palms and I believe that there has been enough erosion in some areas, and deposits in others, that it's now far from it's original shape. However, it's appropriately named, as you can see from these pictures I took with my cell phone camera:

We anchored here and explored the island briefly, then hung out near a bunch of people playing loud Hispanic rap, had a couple beers, floated in the icy cool water on a hot day, and I felt it was pretty much a perfect moment. Then we loaded up and took off to do some more touring.

Above is a stilt house that is in the water, far away from the shore. There are several of these large houses. They were built during Prohibition, and people would row or sail out to them to gamble, drink, and hire prostitutes. Out here, they were above the law. The local police knew about it, but could do (or did) nothing about it. I apologize for the graininess of these two particular pictures! It's hard to take great pictures with a cell phone on a moving boat.

During one of the recent hurricanes, this boat got beached. There are many examples of such boats, which were destroyed by a hurricane and abandoned by their owner. They're not worth salvaging (or whatever is of value has already been salvaged), so as long as they're not in the way, they sit there to rot for all eternity.

We decided to go find a restaurant on the water, named "Scotty's Landing" in the Coconut Grove district. During our quest, I took some snaps of the shoreline. This is the one that turned out the best:

As we hunted for Scotty's, we ran across this boat named Priapism. Perhaps the owner has stock in Viagra. I had to snap a picture, because I wondered if anyone would believe me otherwise:

Lastly, here are a couple pics of the view from Scotty's, a wonderful outdoor restaurant. If you ever get out that way, try the fish and chips!

A special and overdue "Thank you!" to The Lazy Iguana. Lazy, I still think you need to become a professional tour guide!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Today I'm Putting on My Armor

I will have a nice post with lots of pictures tomorrow. Today I'm putting on my armor, battening down the hatches, and preparing for battle with someone who's trying to put me out of business. (No, I'm not strapping on the handgun and going to the OK Corral. I wish it were that simplistic!)

Wish me luck and/or keep me in your prayers. Have a great Monday and check in on me tomorrow! ;o)

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Today I take a class toward my License to Carry. I grew up with guns, so I see them a little differently than many people who haven't. I see them as an opportunity to live, not a chance to die. When it comes to self-protection, they have ultimate stopping power.

No, I'm not some illiterate redneck. I don't have a confederate flag anywhere. (In fact, let me go off on a tangent for a moment here, to tell you that flying one is actually illegal, since it's a defeated enemy flag). I don't have a pickup truck with a gun rack. I don't chew tobacco. But I do believe in survival.

Yes, I am only part of 12% of all women who own guns, and I realize I'm an anomoly. But you knew that anyway, didn't you?

All my life, I've heard the arguments for and against gun ownership. Thankfully, since the criminals still have easy access to guns, the rest of us do, too.

"As long as they're legal, they'll be accessible to criminals"? Yup! Heard that one! And the answer is... the crooks will still have guns, long after they've been made illegal for the rest of us. We live in a country where guns are readily available. Making them illegal will only cripple those of us who try to live legally.

The number of legal gun owners is at an all time high, while crime is at an all-time low. For more on this, go here.

"Americans use firearms to defend themselves from criminals at least 764,000 times a year." For more on this, go here.

"Florida adopted a right-to-carry law in 1987. When the law went into effect, the Dade County Police began a program to record all arrest and non arrest incidents involving concealed carry licensees. Between September of 1987 and August of 1992, Dade County recorded 4 crimes committed by licensees with firearms. None of these crimes resulted in an injury. The record keeping program was abandoned in 1992 because there were not enough incidents to justify tracking them." For more on this, go here.

Of course there is, and will continue to be, controversy. As Steven Levitt writes in Freakonomics (a must-read), "How can intelligent people view the world so differently? Because a gun raises a complex set of issues that change according to one factor: whose hand happens to be holding the gun."

And I'm happy that the government has some restrictions which have been imposed on the gun owner, such as the 3-day waiting period (it's a way to give someone time to cool down and reduces Crimes of Passion committed with guns).

However, as Levitt points out, "On a per capita basis, Switzerland has more firearms than just about any other country, and yet it is one of the safest places in the world. In other words, guns do not cause crime."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Stressed / Busy

Sorry, everyone. I'm taking off today. I'm very stressed (business & personal issues), worn out (insomnia) and I stepped on a rusty nail last night so I have to go get a tetanus shot (oh joy!). All together, this is a sucky beginning to a Friday. Have a wonderful day and I'll catch you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How Much TV Do You Watch?

In today's St. Pete Times, there's an article about a local family that watches no TV. No, they're not mutants. Yes, they're civilized. They have time to read. They have time to socialize. They have time to relax in the peace and quiet of each other's company.

I own 3 TVs. I watch one hour of TV a week, on average. The TV in my son's bedroom is reserved for when he wants to play PlayStation2 or XBox, or watch cartoons.

The TV in the Florida Room (a.k.a. the "Living Room") gets turned on when company is over and someone wants to watch something.

The TV in the bedroom hasn't been turned on in months. Studies show that watching TV in the bedroom is an insomnia-inducer, and I suffer enough from insomnia that I don't want to accelerate it.

Once a week, I may turn on the Florida Room TV to surf the channels, but I usually get bored within minutes because I can't stand the inane commercials that pander to the lowest common denominator. And most TV shows are recycled from decades ago, but modernized with sassier humor and a snappier wardrobe. Occasionally they'll throw in a token gay person to act like they're doing something wildly different. Yawn.

I like movies. I'll sit through one occasionally. But I have to make a conscious effort to select and watch one, when books and my business and my friends usually are the priority.

And I feel lonelier with the TV on. There are fake people who don't know me, making noise in my Florida Room, in an obvious simulation of real life.

Some of this is probably due to the way I was raised. When I was growing up, we had a very small black and white TV until I was about 12 years old, I think. My parents fought us tooth and nail over The Boob Tube and we were restricted to 2 hours of TV a week.

Some of this is also due to all of my marketing experience. Marketing is a way to manipulate the masses. It's like seeing a magician on stage. Once you know how the trick is done, you get bored with it. So TV commercials that make an obvious play for your wallet are actually insulting to me. I find that when I do watch TV, I end up talking back to the commercials or critiquing them. Too much work for me.

Tell me: How much TV do you watch? What are your favorite shows? Mine are Gray's Anatomy and House (when I remember to look for them). And what do you think about TV's influence in our culture?

I'm not going to see you badly if you admit to watching TV for hours or you confess that your secret passion is General Hospital (like my assistant, Zen Buddhist). I'm just curious.

Well, OK, if it's General Hospital, maybe I'll rag on you a little. Just a little.

P.S. Incidentally, here is a study which indicates a strong link between TV watching and autism in young children. It's very interesting.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Why Buy the Cow?

As my mother and grandmother used to say, "Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?" This was a not-so-flattering analogy to a "living together" arrangement, instead of marriage.

When I was a kid, it was interesting to see the different terms people came up with to describe their live-in lover: Cohabitant, POSSLQ (Person of Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters), Significant Other (SO), Lover, Friend, Boyfriend/Girlfriend (though they are more than that), Fiance/Fiancee (really? When's the wedding?)

I lived with someone for 6 years, despite my faith's ban on it. He fluctuated between Boyfriend and Fiance, depending on the status of the mercurial relationship. Of course it could be argued that if it was mercurial, why stay in the relationship? *I* argued that since it was mercurial, it was wise to go no further.

However, I still felt pressure from family and others who share the same faith with me. That isn't a problem facing today's youth, which is why it's no surprise that in "the latest study to probe the minds of America's young men, aged 25 to 33, the study found 10 reasons men won't commit -- from the ease of finding sex partners to the desire to avoid financial risks of divorce."

Why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free?

But we also need to realize that women are equally to blame in this. Despite the fact that young men are reluctant to commit, it's the young women that are offering up the milk (so to speak). And, as the study points out, "[The men] love their single life and experience few of the traditional pressures from church, employers or society that once encouraged them to marry."

It also needs to be pointed out that the study took place in major metropolitan areas; Chicago, New Jersey, Washington, D.C. and Houston. It is undoubtedly true that cohabitation is seen as distasteful in the more rural areas (and the Bible Belt).

However, the study makes an assertion that I would like to see backed up with facts: "Marriage is a fundamental social institution. It is central to the nurture and raising of children... and the 'social glue' that reliably attaches fathers to children," noted the authors in their 32-page report. "[Marriage] contributes to the physical, emotional and economic health of men, women and children, and thus to the nation as a whole."

In a relationship where the partners are equally committed, what is the difference between marriage and cohabitation? Of course, I come from the perspective of living in a No Fault Divorce state. If your partner wants out, he's out, whether you like it or not. And if the reason for divorce is that he has sex with multiple partners or a circus goat named Billy, it doesn't matter in the least. In states where Fault Divorce is allowed, perhaps marriage holds more value.

If you have valuable assets and you wish to protect them, you have the uncomfortable agony of asking (or forcing) your fiance to sign a pre-nup agreement to protect those assets. Oh sure, "the glory of love" is a beautiful thing and it's easy to neglect the warning signs until he walks off with half of your hard-earned estate when things don't work out. Isn't it easier to spare yourself the court battles and the troubles?

So, (at least in Florida where No Fault Divorce reigns, and there's no such thing as Common Law Marriage) why should they buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?

Is this the de-evolving or the evolving of society? Will this push us toward stricter divorce laws to show that we take marriage seriously? And will that be better, or worse for us as a society? It is highly unlikely that we can change hearts and minds in order to create a society where marriage is valued once again. To use another of my mom's phrases, "we're shutting the barn door after the horse got out."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Fire Cherry Quartz Rip-Off

Beautiful, isn't it? The funny thing is that I'm very familiar with gems (this has been a business for me in the past, and a serious hobby always). However, this is the first time I've ever heard of, or seen, this gem.

Since this necklace was on ebay, retailing at around $50, I figured I'd shoot a quick question to the seller: Is this stone manmade, or is it mined? What he wrote back surprised me: It's mined, he said.

So, armed with some healthy skepticism, I did a little more research. It's 100% manmade. It's essentially glass, but retains the title of manmade quartz because (like cherry quartz) it's powdered quartz, melted down and formed. In the case of Fire Cherry "Quartz", it also has powdered and melted down additions that give it such a distinctive look.

Yet another case of Buyer Beware on E-bay.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Virtual Kids

According to this article, there is a game called "Eccky" in the Netherlands where people can pick the parent of their virtual baby and then raise it together, online. Eccky? Sounds more like Icky to me!

This is a demanding virtual baby that text messages you throughout the day when it needs something, such as a diaper change. The only things that could be more fun would be surgery without anesthesia, or actual childbirth.

This is work with none of the benefits, such as the drooly kiss or the toothless grin when it's least expected. It's feeding the baby, but not holding it at night and rocking it to sleep.

It figures that it's popular in the Netherlands. My ancestors left there for a reason.

What young, adult American male wants to play Cyber House with a girl he's never met? And if you can have kids, why do the work again for none of the benefits? If you don't have kids, isn't this cruelly ironic?

I cheerfully recommend another concept, sure to please. Cyber Husband: He'll message you to nag you about the shopping spree you just had, or tell you to pick up the laundry. Maybe he can even be programmed for Cyber Sex. It will last for 5 minutes and then he turns off automatically.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

MAC Cosmetics

OK, guys. You may want to skip today's post, because it's about makeup. Yup, this is a girly post. There aren't many of them. Of course, if you like wearing makeup like Prince or do temporary stencil tatoos, you're at the right place.

One of my girlfriends just landed a gig on national TV. We recently went on a shopping spree at Dillards when she told me about MAC Cosmetics, which is the only brand these people are allowed to use because of it's staying power.

The other night, she had just come back from a shopping trip. When I walked in her door, she was all dolled up. We're talking Glamor Girl! The colors were amazingly rich and vibrant. I'm not normally all that impressed, and I gasped!

We started playing dress-up with her new purchases, and I went home. I took a shower, washed my face with soap, slathered on a little cream, and hit the sack. I never looked in the mirror. I woke up the next morning to the same face I had put on the night before! I didn't put on any makeup that morning. It only started to fade in the late afternoon.

Yup. It's that good.

So last night, we went to Dillards and I bought my own set. For $102, I got a liquid liner, lip color/stain and gloss, lip pencil, 2 eye shadows, and (very important) makeup remover. I'll tell you right now: it's money well spent, because there's no re-applying the stuff throughout the day.

Call your local department store, see if you have a MAC Cosmetics counter, and make an appointment for a makeover today. You will be amazed!

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Little This & That


BugEyes is delighted that she got as many responses as she did. Thank you for bearing with her. Incidentally, I'm worried that it may go to her head. She's talking about writing a short story for Woman's Day titled "Some Like it Ruff," based on Senor Caiman's comment in yesterday's post.

Flu Shot Season

It's flu shot season again. Please, for your sake and the sake of others, consider getting one this year. I get one every year and it's worth it! I remain functional while everyone else around me starts dropping like flies.

Adventures in Babysitting

I've been doing a little babysitting lately. A woman that I used to work with has popped back unexpectedly into our lives. "Jana" has two kids; a 13-year old girl ("Cameron") and a 3-year old boy ("Justin").

Jana is currently in hiding from her ex-husband, who molested Cameron for 3 years before Jana found out. Because I'm one of the few people that owns her own business and can be flexible, I'm able to take Cameron and Justin when Jana needs someone to watch them.

Jana is currently very worried that her ex will find out where they live because it would be very tempting for him to simply kill Cameron to keep her from testifying against him. Her testimony is the strongest part of the case against him.

Is My Life a Soap Opera?

Based on the story of Jana, my mother says that my life has become a soap opera recently. I told her that in my experience, everyone has rough spots in their journey through life. I seem to specialize in being the road paver.

Zen Buddhist

My assistant, Zen, and her son Now (get it? Now & Zen? I slay myself!) will be staying with me for several days (due to her struggle with diabetes, she's had some serious financial problems). After that, they will be living with Jana. It's going to be an ideal arrangement for everyone. Now & Zen make instant babysitters, and add additional security.

I don't think my mom is ready to hear about Now & Zen yet.

The Weather

This is the time of year in Florida where you go outside and thank God you're alive. The weather is crisp and cool (in the 70s) with a nice light breeze but enough strong sunshine to cut the chill. If it was like this all the time, we'd call it paradise and we'd be so flooded with tourists that Florida would tip over and fall into the ocean.

My Links

I recently revised my links slightly, excluding those people that have dropped off the face of the earth. If you'd like to be included, or if you think I've made a mistake, please let me know.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Today the St. Pete Times is covering a jerk who didn't pay his restaurant bill. Because he didn't think there was enough seafood in his pasta, he initially offered to pay for half of his meal and his girlfriend's dinner. He...wait a minute. He had a girlfriend? And he pulled that stunt while she was there?

What a creep.

If you're going to be a cheapskate, don't pull a stunt like that when you're on a date. That's equivalent to a Coupon-Clipper. Don't produce a coupon or try to stiff a restaurant on a date! Sure, he may have known her for a while, but this still sends all the wrong signals: "You're just not worth a full-priced meal."

This reminds me of "Jerry", an older guy that I dated for about a month, roughly 6 years ago. He was an ex-band member of a very famous band, so I figured he'd be really cool. Retired Band Member Cool, that is, which is different than Burned-Out Band Member Drooling on Himself. But he wasn't Retired Band Member Cool. He acted less retired, and more retiree, even though he was only 12 years older than I was (he's the only guy I've ever went out with that was that much older than I).

For instance, the guy had gout. I'm sorry to be so insensitive, but gout? Here I'm in my early thirties and I'm going out with a guy with foot mung. So wherever we went, he hobbled about, wincing. Romantic...? Uh, lemme think about that. No.

He had other weirdness, nothing serious, but just enough to make me go "hmmmm."

The straw that broke the camel's back was the morning we met for breakfast at a little diner near where he lived. The meals were very inexpensive. We're talking $3-$4 for a complete eggs-hashbrowns -toast-bacon meal.

Just before we ordered, Jerry leaned over and whispered conspiratorially "try to stick with the cheaper stuff on the menu. Let's not go over $4 here."

Jerry. Last of the Big Spenders.

That was the final date. If I'm not worth a measly $5 to a guy, I think I might be with the wrong guy.

Let's hope that Seafood Pasta Girl figures that out, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Florida's Corporate Welfare

Corporate welfare. It's the concept of giving away such massive taxbreaks to corporations that they pay little to nothing in taxes.

The cheerleaders behind this policy claim that it gives corporations the incentives to move here and employ people, who will in turn enrich the state's coffers through property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. (Thankfully Florida hasn't stooped so low as to have a state income tax. Yet.) Everybody wins. Right?

Well... maybe.

As usual with the government, nothing seems to come in moderation. As of 2003, according to BlogWood, "98 percent of the estimated 1.5-million businesses in Florida paid nothing. And many of those that did pay found ways to reduce their tax bills." Thanks to Jeb Bush, of course. And we can be certain that this fact remains unchanged. We would have heard of any changes long ago.

So if the majority of businesses (especially big businesses with big coffers) don't pony up (but continue to make obscene profits) who gets to foot the bills? And let's not forget that the bills are mounting. Florida's class-size amendment is going to be costly and Jeb Bush is finally threatening a state income tax.

Corporate taxes have dropped dramatically since 1962, yet government expenditures have drastically increased.

And as Bev Kelly points out in a letter to the editor today, "Some $310-million of our money is pledged to Burnham Institute, which supposedly will provide a piddly 300 jobs. So we, the citizens of Florida, are going to pay the company more than $1-million dollars for each job. Sound worth it, folks? And this is just one of many "deals" that's going on."

In April 2005, the St. Pete Times did a special investigative report which concluded in a brilliant and concise analysis that "Florida hands out millions in public money to private business to create jobs, but the value of what it gets in return is questionable."

So... isn't it time to re-think corporate welfare?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Frumples are little clay creatures (I have a picture here that's a little blurry but my camera battery just died, so we'll have to make do). They are handmade out of little scraps of clay by (or perhaps for) Paula Knudsen. They have a hole at the top of their head, so that they're strung on cord and easily worn around the neck.

Paula says she easily sells $700 worth of these little guys each day (at $10 a pop) during craft shows and other events which she attends. And you can understand why when you watch her work. Paula has a great gimmick (I've published a picture of her "simple muscle test" to the right):

Paula has a sign outside her booth advertising "Improve your golf swing!" When someone stops by, she tells him to stand with his legs together, hand cupped upward and outward, against his thigh. She then pushes down with all her might and, of course, unbalances him.

Next, Paula hands him a Frumple to hold in his other hand and they repeat the procedure. This time he easily resists being unbalanced.

What has happened?

There are a couple possibilities, and I think both come into play here. First, no one is truly prepared for being unbalanced like that. The second time that it's done, the subject instinctively adjusts himself to counterract the force.

Also, let me tell you about a magic trick where the magician tells a strong man to lift his dainty assistant by the elbows, which he does easily. Then the magician stands in front of the strong man and tells him that (using magic, of course) he won't allow him to do it again. When the strong man tries to lift the petite woman again, he can't! How did that happen?

The woman was closer to the strong man the first time. The second time, she moved only 3-4 inches back from where she was originally. That 3-4 inches is enough to more than double the strength he'd need to lift her up. What seems to be a magic or psychological trick is mere manipulation.

So, if Paula is aware of this particular trick, all she has to do is move an indiscernible 3-4 inches back the second time, and her power is decreased even if she applies the same effort as she had before.

In Paula's defense, she may be so naive that she doesn't realize what she's doing. However, it's also very likely that she does. Here's her story for the masses, as written in her literature:

"The dream: The Queen's son and his buddies were jumping in the living room singing FRUMPLE, FRUMPLE, FRUMPLE. At the far end of the room, swirling fairy dust was playing over and over: "A FRUMPLE is a little friend, made with love and out of clay..." She woke up Oct. 8, 1997 and created the first "FRUMPLE."

The Queen had a car accident in 2004 and hurt her knees. Her massage therapist gave her a pouch to wear. It made her knees work again in a few days. At a gathering she was muscle testing people with her pouch. A man came to her and said "My son can put your FRUMPLES through an acceleration technology to balance and strengthen them, just like the pouch." ...He returned the next day with "EMPOWERED FRUMPLES"..."

I have no idea what he did to "empower" the Frumples. However, whether or not she puts herbs or blessings or magnets in them, it is (sadly) all a gimmick. I tried the same thing with a friend and a nickel, and got the same results.

The age-old lesson to be learned by all of this: "There's a sucker born every minute."

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Wine Cork Catamaran

We had a wonderful evening last night. The kids played while the grownups made dinner, interracted, sipped wine, and finally sat about laughing and telling tales.

I had bought "Adam" (Giselle's 3 year old) some wonderful books and toy cars for his birthday. I had also bought "Trace" (her 11 year old) an excellent book about crafts.

I'll admit outright that Trace is my favorite. Young kids bore me anyway, and Trace and I bonded a long time ago. Sure Adam's cute, but Trace steals my breath away. This kid is incredibly like SaurKid in both brains and personality, and he's quite the charmer. So when Trace asks me to do something, I'll immediately leave the adults to help.

Trace was studiously working on assembling a wine cork contraption; using a concept he'd seen in the new book. Being a former catamaran sailor, I told him it looked just like a catamaran, and so that's what we dubbed it.

With every new change to his design, Trace would proudly bring the revised version to show me. The final catamaran was assembled from 4 wine corks, with toothpicks holding them together. Another toothpick held a flag that was perched jauntily on top of one of the corks.

He needed a tarp (so that things could be placed on the catamaran) so we got out a plastic grocery bag and cut one out, with extra flaps so that it formed a fat cross. We pulled the flaps over the toothpicks, stapled each one down, and he had a beautiful makeshift catamaran which he played with for hours.

And who said all kids toys are expensive nowadays?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Saturday Morning Updates on Past Stories


Do you remember my friend Rosie? She has finally returned to work and has been doing much better. There are still many health problems which she is encountering, however, including the inexplicable but continual problem of swelling in her brain. She has almost reached the maximum for the medication that she can take for the problem, and soon decisions will need to be made unless a miracle occurs.

She also has complications from a car accident which will require surgery, her chronic asthma which can be threatened by even the slightest cold, and the tumor in her throat which has yet to be diagnosed.

Despite all this, she remains upbeat and happy and hillarious as ever. She's still "all that and a bag of chips!" But please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

(You can read about Ozma here in the "My Friends" category)

Ozma reads my blog sometimes so I don't know if she will see this or not, but I am very concerned about her and have deliberately withdrawn from her. She is definately on the down-swing and making terrible personal choices which could ultimately endanger her life or the lives of others. Additionally, they are soul-scarring.

I have been a chicken and have chosen to avoid her instead of confronting her, due to all the other stressors and "stuff" that I am occupied with at the moment. Ultimately, something will need to be said... for her sake, if not for others.

Ozma is a very likeable person and has much good in her. I am hoping that she's merely fallen asleep at the wheel and wake up to the reality of what she's doing before it's too late.


My friend, Giselle, continues to have minor problems with her ex-husband but happily he has not physically attacked her again (he had smacked her around when she was pregnant with their child). She is moving forward after her divorce, is very happy and successful both personally and professionally, and has been dating a very wonderful guy for quite some time now.

Both of her kids are doing great. I am going to be meeting the rest of her family this weekend, as well as help celebrate the birthday of her three-year-old. It's going to be an action-packed weekend!

The Addicted Daughter

Do you remember my employee's addicted daughter? She continues the endless cycle of an addict, just as my ex-boyfriend does. She is in and out of the hospital and mental wards on a regular basis. Sad to say it, but unless a miracle occurs, it's only a matter of time before she dies. I would give her only two more years of life, max. The medical doctors are even less optimistic.


Michelle remains sickeningly normal. However, lately I just don't speak to her enough to find out differently. Maybe she's taken up bank robbery. One can only hope. I think she'd look awesome all decked out like Annie Oakley.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Strawberry Farmers May Suffer: No Illegals to Pick Their Crops

Our Florida strawberry farmers may suffer this year because the illegal Mexicans that normally sneak in over the border have supposedly not made it across this year. So (because we've tightened up border patrols) crops may not be harvested.

Already there are pear farmers in California who have had to discard part of their crops as a result of a lack of labor.

I don't believe it. We aren't cracking down that much, yet. The Minutemen are still in business and there aren't enough of them to do anything more than embarrass the Bush administration. So, this seems like a new angle to try to beef up the administration's claim that they're doing something, along with a heaping serving of good old fashioned guilt because we are now affecting farmers and wasting food.

Yet I remember reading that once an illegal Mexican becomes legal, he immediately begins looking for a better job. Let's face it: No one dreamed of being a fruit picker as a child. It's a painful, arduous task... but it's under the radar. Interestingly, this article confirms what I've read elsewhere:

"Dave Moore, executive director at Beth-El Farm Worker Ministry Inc. in Wimauma, says many of the workers he sees are switching to other industries.

"With decreasing amount of acreage available for fields, many are transitioning into construction, service industries and hospitality," he said."

So it's not so much the tightening of the borders as it is the chance of a better opportunity. Despite the cry that no American wants to be a fruit picker, apparently no illegal Mexican wants to be, either.

These farmers have dug their own graves. They were happy to exploit both illegal Mexicans and the U.S. taxpayer to "make hay [or strawberries] while the sun shines". Now that we're tightening things up, they are the first to whine. However, they created the situation which currently leaves them high and dry.

Sadly, this may affect food prices for the rest of us. As if we weren't paying enough in medical bills due to the free care which illegal Mexicans get in our nation's hospitals and other social services. Additionally, we cover the payroll taxes for the illegal Mexicans and the farmers who (until now) all had a free ride. Don't underestimate how much their free ride has cost the average American taxpayer.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Morning With a Crack Addict

Early this morning I got a call from my ex-boyfriend; the crack addict. "Rob" had fallen off the wagon again and wanted me to go to his place to pick him up and get him into rehab. I reluctantly agreed to take the time out of my morning to do that. Only that.

Rob was a mess; hysterical, chewing on the inside of his lips, looking about frantically from the corner of his eyes, shaking from the drug... "sketchy" is what they call it, I think.

Never having done drugs (and unaware that he was an addict while we were together) I was shocked to see what crack will do to someone. All I had known before was what it had done to me: he had stolen thousands of dollars from me before I had caught on. Sure, I'd seen a deteriorating personality: surliness, outright nastiness, withdrawal and avoidance. But I'd seen it as the death of the relationship (which it was) without knowing the reasons behind it. One of his many excuses was that he had the Epstein-Barr virus, a believable excuse to someone unfamiliar with drugs.

Today Rob admitted that he had "borrowed" thousands of dollars from his parents over these last several months. He always had an excuse for them, but it all went to crack (which is why he doesn't have two nickels to rub together). Incidentally, I have no sympathy for his parents. They didn't choose to listen to my warnings. As his moronic mother has told me before, she would rather give him the money for drugs than "force" him to steal it.

So this time I took Rob to rehab. They told him that they could see him in an hour, so while we were waiting, we went to a nearby restaurant to get a cheap meal into him. He sat there in the booth, twitching, chewing, and glancing about nervously.

The waiter came up and gave us the menus. Rob glanced at his menu, put it down, and pushed it away. I looked over mine, gathered up the menus, and placed them to the side of the table. "Hey," said Rob. "Can't *I* get a menu?" I sighed and explained to him that he'd already seen it, and handed it back to him.

The waiter came up and I ordered potato pancakes. He looked at Rob expectantly. When Rob said nothing, I said "How about getting him some potato pancakes too?"

"No!" said Rob. "I can't deal with the colors." The waiter looked at me. I looked back and shrugged. Yeah, you know how potato pancakes are. The colors always throw me, too. I'm sure you agree...

Rob settled on french toast, eggs, and ham. I guess they weren't as colorful.

After breakfast we went back to the rehab center, but finances became a problem. Here's an example of Crack Math: Rob had $600. He just smoked $130 worth of crack. His rent is $650. His electricity has been turned off. He needs to pay his phone bill of $65. The clinic charges $100 plus room and board. During that time Rob can't work. How screwed is Rob?

Yeah. I think you've got the picture.

So, I drove Rob back to his place, where he crashed after calling in "sick". He is hoping to be able to get back on the wagon and start work again tomorrow in order to get enough money to pay the rent.

And my morning? Wasted, except that I am able to share it with all you fine people. As I told Rob, it's the last time I take time out of my day to help him. Although I won't give him money, time is money, too.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How the Amish Are Facing This Recent Tragedy

The press is reporting that the Amish are quick to forgive the recent schoolhouse shooting that claimed the lives of 5 young girls so far, and may still claim others. But it is way too soon after the tragedy to make this pronouncement.

I'm surprised that the press is even repeating what they're being told when they know better. The press already viewed the Amish as a curious society, and due to this recent tragedy they have a new toy to play with.

Somebody stop this! Leave those people alone! They are still numb from the shock of it all. It's way to early to encourage them to make pronouncements when they have no idea what they're feeling.

Additionally, in their culture, they are not supposed to do anything other than forgive. What would you say when your daughter was gunned down by a stranger, but everyone surrounding you is expecting you to "forgive"? Would you suddenly erupt in a frothing diatribe and scream about how you hope he's burning in hell?

No. You would repress all those feelings, choking them back, saying what you think should be said. You would say you forgave him. But you wouldn't because you can't. It's too early.


There's an excellent article by Edward K. Rynearson, MD which digs into the recovery process when a loved one has met an unnatural death. In it, he discusses the possibility of a "stoic" response (which is what the Amish community is currently expressing):

"A minority of individuals will experience little, if any, trauma or separation distress. They respond with a stoicism and grudging acceptance of this tragedy. While stoicism may be followed by a delayed response of grief months or years later, this is a rare occurrence. Long-term study of stoic responders suggests that stoicism is a favorable sign and should not be challenged."

With any luck, they are genuinely stoic. But they need to be left to themselves to sort this out. As long as the press remains in their town, shoving microphones under their noses and asking them how they feel, they will never know.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Thoughts for a Tuesday

I was in a video rental store with my son over the weekend. There, next to the movie "Brokeback Mountain" was another movie: "The Black Hole". Hmmmm.

Two new studies have just come out with stunning conclusions: Watching TV on a school night is bad for grades, and that dogs and smoke make asthma worse. Wow. Who could've guessed? Hey - how do you sign up for these gigs? I want to be a researcher on those teams!

We've just discovered HeaterMeals; precooked meals that heat themselves up without a stove or microwave. You just mix two pre-measured pouches together to start a chemical process, and place the food on top until it's heated through. We bought it in the discontinued section; it was probably being marketed to Floridians for the hurricane season. A great idea! The only problem is that hurricane season is during the hottest months. Instant ice-cold pasta salads would've been a better invention.

One of my friends is (sadly) being forced to go through a divorce in Georgia. To our pleasant suprise, we found out that Georgia is a state that allows "fault" divorce, as well as "no-fault". In Florida, we only have no-fault.

When the laws omitted "fault" divorce in this state, we were told that they were also omitting extended court battles and costs. What they omitted was justice. (Incidentally, in Florida there is only "no-fault" car insurance, too, and for the same reason. But just ask anyone who's been in a car accident as to whose fault it is! There's usually a guilty party.)

In Georgia, a spouse that has been unfaithful or abandoned another spouse can be considered to be "at fault" and may be penalized. Hey! Florida politicians! Is there any chance we may return to justice, too? And here I thought that Georgia was backwards. I may need to revise my thinking.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Rep. Mark Foley: Pervert

Rep. Mark Foley (R), "a Republican from the West Palm Beach area, abruptly resigned Friday after the public disclosure of e-mails and instant messages between him and former congressional pages that ... went back at least three years," the St. Pete Times reported today. Incidentally, I've seen exerpts of these messages, and they are foul.

This has been brewing for a couple of days. Right now, there are also allegations that some key Republicans knew about his perverse behavior but chose to say nothing about it. If that's the case, I hope they get more than a simple slap on the wrist. We have previously had problems with pages being used as sex toys by members of Congress. Because of this, new laws and policing strategies were put in place in the 90s in an attempt to curtail the problem.

In the 80s, a couple of page molestors (Reps. Gerry Studds (D) and Daniel B. Crane (R)) were convicted and booted. Studds had molested a 17 year old boy, and Crane had helped himself to a girl of the same age. Crane apologized, Studds didn't (I guess he's probably a card carrying member of NAMBLA: The North American Man-Boy Love Association.)

Oddly, some governmental perverts often continue to "serve" in politics or bask in the limelight. For instance, Studds went on to continual re-elections until his retirement in 1996.

In 1990, Barney Frank had a prostitution business that was being run from his apartment. When he "found out" about it, he quietly dismissed the person responsible for it and when it was discovered that he had known of it and hadn't come clean, the House reprimanded him. Additionally, Frank has always been haunted by rumors of molesting boy pages, himself.

Then there was Bill Clinton: Juanita Broaddrick's rape, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and a list so long I just don't want to keep putting up more links here. Let me note that I don't necessarily consider sexual promiscuity a perversion (though there's certainly an argument for that belief!) But in Clinton's case, the allegations weren't simply about his infidelity to his wife. They were often about sexual abuse.

Happily, there are also times when justice is done. Losers such as Bob Packwood (who will always be known as "Peckerwood") come to mind. But it saddens me to see how many of these men are able to behave this way with relative impunity, and go on to live successful lives while their victims remain permanently scarred.