Thursday, March 31, 2011

BP Could Face Manslaughter Charges for the Spill

Almost a year into this mess and there may, MAY, be some justice here.  I won't hold my breath, but it's encouraging to read this.  From Reuters:
LONDON (By Tom Bergin and Dominic Lau) – Shares in oil major BP (BP.L) fell 2.0 percent on Tuesday after a media report that the company's managers may face manslaughter charges following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and an analyst downgrade.
U.S. prosecutors are considering whether to pursue manslaughter charges against BP managers for decisions made before the explosion on the rig that killed 11 workers and caused the biggest offshore spill in U.S. history, a report from Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.
BP has admitted mistakes in the run-up to the rig blast but has denied accusations that it was "grossly negligent", a charge that could add tens of billions to the final bill it pays for the disaster.
"A manslaughter charge makes a charge of gross negligence more likely," one dealer said.
If BP is found to be grossly negligent, the maximum possible fines it faces would rise to over $21 billion from around $5 billion.
Also, this may mean the company is unable to force its partners in the well to pay their 35 percent share of the total clean-up bill -- now estimated at $42 billion.
It could also open the floodgates to legal claims worth many billions.
BP declined to comment.
Another dealer said a downgrade from Collins Stewart also weighed on the shares. The brokerage cut BP to "sell" from "hold", partly due to the spat between the company and its oligarch partners in its Russian joint venture TNK-BP (TNBP.MM), traders said.
BP shares traded down 2.0 percent at 0950 GMT (5:50 a.m. ET), against a 0.8 percent drop in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas index (.SXEP).
 The slick saga continues.

More later.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Refund = Rewards

Silly me forgot to check the mailbox last evening and this morning found a very pleasant surprise waiting there.  The Eagle sh*t yesterday.  That means the Federal Tax Refund check arrived.  No fear, I jumped in the car and made a run to deposit the funds right away. (Good thing I wasn't in my bunny slippers or hair rollers)  On the way home I stopped for a bottle of wine and a bottle of gin. Both are considered "holy water" these days and a hell of a lot better than what the Vatican is pushing.

Wrote a check to the state of DE for the money I owe in taxes and dropped it at the post office on the way to work this afternoon.  I did it straight away because I don't like bills hanging over my head and wanted to be free of another expense.

While prepping the restaurant for opening, I received a bunch of text messages from the loco-guys asking a few more favors today.  They will return tomorrow and asked that I tie up a few loose ends on upcoming projects, which I did.

Somewhere along the way, someone mentioned my promise to treat myself to dinner when the refund arrived and so, I decided not to cook tonight, but sit down, be served and enjoy a lovely meal at the restaurant.  I ordered the lobster fajitas with onions, peppers, cheese and diced fresh tomatoes, and a salad with our ginger vinaigrette dressing.  Washed down with 2 golden margaritas.  O.M.G. it was like going to heaven - if only for a brief time - savoring the experience. My favorite chef was on-board tonight and I am sure I received a little extra TLC.  The dish was more than I could eat so I brought about half of it home to enjoy later, perhaps tomorrow. (Click the above image to embiggen.  Thought it appropriate considering we're well into 2 wars and another looms large.)

It's nice not to worry about cash flow, if only for a short time.  I am going to put aside what's left to buy Elizabeth dinner for her birthday next month.  That should take care of the balance and, all in all, money unexpected, money well spent.

My mouth is happy.  My tummy is happy. My checking account is happy, and the state of Delaware will be happy in a day or two.  Good news all round.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Progress, Experience, and a Golden Margarita

So much for the luxury of 2 days off.  The loco guys wanted to attend a food show in Atlantic City, New Jersey today and tomorrow, as did the general manager, so I was asked to prep the restaurant for opening both days. I accepted, since the extra money will come in handy and I have never been part of the evening opening procedures and interested to learn.

I was up and out early this morning, racing to get errands run today because we're due for 2 big storms (back-to-back) beginning tomorrow and lashing the shore for the next 3 days. Covered a lot of ground and was back home by lunch time. Had a quick bite to eat and walked to work at about 1:30pm.  Got some computer work out of the way, and waited for the evening crew to arrive.

By 3:30 everyone was in, the place was humming, I had waited for Sasha (closing manager) to arrive so I could have a festive cocktail and head for home.  A golden margarita was chosen and it went down easily and way too quickly.  (sigh!)

Good experience, really. I learned plenty.  I was home by 5:00 and am now prepping supper, ready to do it all again tomorrow afternoon.  I had made a list of the extra duties to be performed when opening only for dinner and followed it straight through. Just received a call from Sasha, seems I followed the list well as dinner is going smoothly. I love when that happens.

Of course, I do miss having the totally free days, but there's always next week.

And so it goes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sinead O'Connor: 'Take Off Your Shoes'

Her powerful new protest against the Vatican and it's hypocritical stands regarding sexual abuse.  Sinead described this song as how she imagined "The Holy Spirit would address the Vatican". The new album "Home" is to be released in May.

I needed a little 'fire in the belly' music tonight and this fills the bill. Hope to find the lyrics soon.

And so it goes.

Wintry-Mix? Not so Much

The weather this weekend was absolutely beautiful, if a bit colder than one would have liked.  Still, the sun was bright and strong, the sky deep blue, and the Weather Channel got it all wrong - again. I am not complaining, I love when their forecasts misfire in our favor, but thanks to their gloomy predictions on Thursday, of a snow and 'wintry-mix' up to 5 inches on Friday and Saturday, many would-be visitors stayed away from the beach, missing out on quite a few exciting events.

Both days were exact opposites of the predicted mess.  I greeted a few people I know on my morning walk on the Boardwalk as they rode bikes or walked their dogs, or just sipped a coffee while enjoying the ocean. 

All three days were busy at the restaurant, and though it was too cold to open the front doors, many enjoyed sitting near them "people-watching" as they sipped margaritas and dined. As usual, I enjoyed seeing regulars and meeting new folks whose friends or family suggested they would enjoy our food and atmosphere.  And they did.

As I walked home last evening, a neighbor mentioned the non-snow event, telling me that some friends south of us in Maryland woke to a dusting on their cars which melted rapidly in the bright sun and warming temperatures.

I smiled at her and chuckled to myself all the way home ready to enjoy a "festive" with olives.  My bad!

I am ready for my two days off, Mr. DeMille.

More later.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Just a Thought: Smart-Asses

We are quite nice once you get to know us.  Really.  No, Really!
And so it goes.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Former FEMA Supervisor Indicted in Hurricane Katrina Relief Fraud Case

Karma can be a supreme bitch!  Slowly true stories, considered folktales and rumors after Katrina, are coming to light and it's a disgusting story all round. (The image is of contaminated trailers on their way to New Orleans 4 months after the floods. Better late, than never, right? High levels of formaldehyde were discovered in the trailers many months, even years later. Click to embiggen.) 

From the TP:
A former FEMA supervisor and the owner of a disaster services company were indicted Friday by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and witness tampering stemming from their participation in what the government contends was the illegal awarding of a contract worth up to $100 million to service and deactivate thousands of trailers in Plaquemines Parish in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
If convicted of the conspiracy and wire fraud charges, former FEMA employee Robert Blevins, 74, of South Carolina, and 3-D Disaster Services Inc. owner David Dangler, 58, of Roatan, Honduras, face a maximum of 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Blevins also faces up to three years in prison on the witness-tampering charge.
Prosecutors also will attempt to recover $31 million paid to the disaster services company.
Blevins was an accounting property officer and contracting officer’s technical representative with the Federal Emergency Management Agency when he advised Dangler on how to successfully underbid for the contract in 2006, according to the indictment. During the time he was assisting Dangler’s company, he also was negotiating to work for it, the indictment said.
At the time, 3-D was based in Fort Pierce, Fla., and Blevins lived in Texarkana, Texas.
Blevins, who had worked for FEMA since 1997, had acted as the FEMA technical representative on an earlier contract between the agency and Dangler and his company.
That meant the company and Dangler were prohibited from participating in other federal contracts in which Blevins was involved, according to the indictment.
Blevins also was prohibited from assisting or advising the company and from seeking employment with the company until he was granted permission by the proper FEMA official.
Instead, according to the indictment, beginning in January 2006, Dangler and a person identified as B.S.D. worked with Blevins and his girlfriend, identified as “K.L.,” to prepare the 3-D contract. In doing so, they falsified the firm’s number of employees and their qualifications.
The paperwork was submitted to FEMA on Jan. 16 of that year. Two months later, 3-D was awarded the contract, which was to begin in May.
Between November 2005 and April 2006, Dangler and Blevins had discussed Blevins going to work for 3-D if FEMA awarded it the contract, according to the indictment, including at a meeting at the Hilton Riverside in New Orleans. The company paid to fly Blevins and his girlfriend to New Orleans.
On April 14, 2006, Blevins resigned from FEMA, according to the indictment. Between June and November, he was hired by unnamed joint venture companies owned by an individual identified in the indictment as “T.C.” who was also “involved” with the 3-D Disaster Services contract. In 2007 and 2008, Blevins was paid directly by 3-D with proceeds from the FEMA contract, according to the indictment.
Blevins failed to inform FEMA of the job offer and failed to get permission to discuss it, again in violation of federal regulations, the indictment said. But both Dangler and Blevins told others that Blevins had written permission from FEMA’s ethics officer allowing him to go to work for the company and to participate in the contract talks, and that Dangler had confirmed that approval in a conversation with the ethics officer.
The disaster services company was paid more than $31 million by FEMA between May 2006 and January 2010. The indictment does not say anything about the quality of the firm’s work.
The incompetence of FEMA and its failure to perform background checks to avoid this kind of activity is mind-boggling. No wonder the agency isn't taken seriously anymore. Credibility is gone. It's all a money-grabbing joke perpetrated on the American public who suffer at the hands of these trolls.

Read the rest HERE.

And so it goes.

Boxing Caturday

More later.

Friday, March 25, 2011


If you visit here even occasionally, you will have learned that I have little-to-no social life. I mean, there are few adventures and even less travel to talk about.  I sometimes think my writings are boring and without color.  I enjoy simplicity and make every effort to avoid clutter and hoarding. I am no manic collector of things, though I was in the previous life.

Today, I had an engaging conversation with a couple who live in the Metro DC area, have a small place nearby, and have had a bungalow on stilts (their words) in a small enclave on the outer banks of North Carolina for many years. Turns out, we share many things in common about the ocean, privacy, and life in general. The conversation occurred following their lunch and before they returned to their home in VA.

We hit it off on their first visit in 2009 and I have always had a positive rapport with them, sharing a similar sensa-humah, and today went a step further.  We really connected through our loving simple things that most people never pay attention to in life. It was clear that I wasn't alone in my love of the beach and ocean for other reasons than lying on a towel staring at the sky.   To walk the dunes, listen to the rhythm of the waves, and maybe see a whale breach not too far off shore, is what I love about living here.

Do I wish I had someone to share this with?  Absolutely. That doesn't mean that I cannot enjoy these experiences alone.  It means that someone else is missing out, that's all.

 I am happy that these two wonderful people found one another to share the little things important to them, as well as the so-called big things.

They return in a few weeks and promised to supply more info about where to stay and the best to visit.  Who knows, I just might be spending a few days on the Outer Banks either before this season begins or shortly after it ends.  I *do* need a getaway before the end of this year, or I may explode.  That would not be a pretty sight.

And so it goes.

Left or Right Brain?

    Left brain: I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.

    Right brain: I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feat. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.

I am the Right brain, but I have a few doubts about what is written above. Yes, I still doubt myself, but that doesn't make me a bad person.  Does it? (grin)

And so it goes.

Tirangle Fire 100: Race to the Bottom

Today is the 100th anniversary of that famous fire.  Seems that we're losing ground in every industry.
What could be more appropriate to post above the absurd comments about Sarah Palin than this tribute and eye-opener.

Warning: Graphic images, some difficult to watch.

More later.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Palin = Oprah? Seriously?

I spewed good gin out of my nose when I saw this.  Breitbart isn't an ultra-conservative, he's just ultra-crazy.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eye Round, Eye Glasses, & Secure Documents.

Well, considering the financial situation around the country these days, I feel pretty fortunate this afternoon.  It's been a rewarding two days here.

Yesterday I started calling around to set up an eye exam (long overdue) because I could tell the vision just isn't what it ought to be. The last one (includes the current glasses was August, 2008. In fact, just weeks before the billboard image at right was created.) Yikes!

There were no appointments available until the middle of April. And the cost (without insurance, mind you) averaged $175.00  I don't know what happened.  Did Opticians leave the state suddenly never to return? Is there a critical Optician shortage? 

In a last ditch effort I called an upscale Optician who advertises in the local gay papers (imagine that!) and though he carries all the chic designer frames, you know, the ones that can cost a thousand bucks or more, he did have an open appointment yesterday afternoon. I grabbed it.

For some reason, on the way to his office I decided to check out a thrift store (in search of a locking file cabinet) and there happened to be one right by the door.  Couldn't miss it and the price was right. Tiny bit of rust on one bottom corner - $10.00 and for an additional $5.00 it could be delivered.  Cheap enough, since I could never carry the thing out of the store, let alone up the stairs to the apartment. Done.

The exam was painless and reasonable.  The cost, including photos of the back of the eyes, came to a little over a hundred bucks. Where do the other people get off charging twice that?  Of course, there was some hard selling for new frames - the least expensive was over $300.00.  I just need to see, not impress anyone, jeez!  I got a copy of the prescription, paid for the service and was on my way in about an hour.  Done.

Top Eye Round roasts were half-off at the market, so I bought one to cook last evening.  (I get 3 dinners and at least 1 lunch out of a roast.) However, a NOLA friend sent a new recipe (longer cooking time), so I prepared a pork and veggie stir fry instead.  The Roast is going into the oven after this post.  I will let you know the results - good, bad, or feh.

Called a co-worker who knew of an eyeglass frames outlet online and went cyber-shopping.  Found a nice frame, chose the coatings (UV & scratch), entered the prescription information, and placed the order for bi-focals. The total, including shipping, was a little over $40.00.  I am not kidding. It will take about 10 working days for the finished product to be delivered. Done.

The file cabinet has been delivered and I can now store my files safely and securely.  A little sanding and paint should work nicely to end the rust problem. It's black, but that's OK, as they say, black goes with everything without trying.  This new purchase will allow for the disposal of 2 more large plastic file storage boxes and I am very pleased. Yay, me!

*Red Alert* I suddenly have a craving for Leyden, a Dutch cheese that I cannot get anywhere around here.  It's a semi hard cheese with cumin seeds (some have caraway seeds) embedded and a light crisp taste. (If I am wrong I know I will hear from Peter on this one.) Yes, I get cravings for fresh spinach, avocado, artichokes, even pickles, but this is a first. I used to buy this cheese at a small family-owned dutch store in NW New Jersey where I could also get fabulous Dutch licorice - salty and sweet. But I am not there anymore.

And so it goes.

Elizabeth Taylor: R.I.P

ABC News has confirmed that Elizabeth Taylor died this morning of congestive heart failure. She was 79.
Taylor's son, Michael Wilding, released this statement: "We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world."
Very sad, but inevitable given her many hospitalizations of late. Many may remember her best as an early HIV/AIDS activist, but those of us old enough to remember her films will be grateful at least they will be around for a long time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Disco Diva Loleatta Holloway - RIP

She was a SalSoul Diva back in the 70s when I was dancing a 12West, Flamingo, Truck Stop, and others. What a voice and the sound is SalSoul Orchestra all the way.
Thank you Loleatta, for all the joy and love...Oh, the memories.

And so it goes.

NASA Messenger Probe Orbits Mercury

Another one of those stories I find fascinating. I had pretty much forgotten about this one, until this week when it hit the news, sort of like Libya, overshadowing the tragedy in Japan.  Remember Japan?

NASA’s Messenger probe made history on the night of March 17, 2011, when it became the first spacecraft to successfully enter into Mercury’s orbit. Now, for the first time in history, Mercury has an artificial satellite. The spacecraft has been sent to study the closest planet to the sun in the hopes of studying the planet’s composition and magnetic environment. The Messenger will spend one Earth year studying Mercury and is a part of the first mission to study Mercury since the Mariner mission more than thirty years ago.
The Messenger spacecraft, which stands for Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging, was launched in August 2004 at a cost of $446 million. Here are some facts about the spacecraft currently studying Mercury:
  • Since its launch 6 ½ years ago, the Messenger has traveled approximately 4.9 billion miles and has completed 15 orbits of the sun
  • Messenger’s average speed is 84,500 mph and has broken the record for all-time fastest spacecraft at a pace of 140,000 mph
  • The aircraft weights 2,420 pounds but is only 4.7 feet tall by 6.1 feet wide by 4.2 feet deep. Two solar panel “wings” measuring 5 by 5.5 feet are on either side of the probe.
Mercury has long remained a mystery to scientists. Until the Messenger flew by Mercury for the first time in 2008, only half of the planet had ever been seen. Scientists were finally able to see close-up pictures of the other half of Mercury’s surface. Here are some more facts about the planet Messenger has been sent to study:
  • Mercury is 35,980,000 million miles from the sun
  • Mercury’s year lasts for 88 days
  • The average daytime temperature is 800 degrees Fahrenheit, while the average nighttime temperature is -300 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The planet is named after Mercury, the Roman messenger of the gods
More HERE.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NOLA Neighborhoods Without Grocers Part of New Program

Almost 6 years after the levees failed and flooded NOLA, (remember, class?) this remains an important issue.  Things we take for granted, like "makin' groceries" becomes a major production for many in the hardest hit and slow to rebound areas.  The sister has told stories about traveling distances and shopping in groups to save on gasoline and I have no words.  Does this story make you as sad as it does me? 
Using $14 million in loans as a lure, Mayor Mitch Landrieu launched on Tuesday a citywide program to build grocery stores and supermarkets in neighborhoods that don't have them.

The New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative is designed to give more people, especially low-income New Orleanians, easy access to healthful foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, he said during a City Hall news conference.

Money for the loans will come from $7 million that the city has received in community-development block grants and $7 million from Hope Enterprise Corp., a community-development financial institution based in Jackson, Miss. The loans will be low-interest and, in some cases. forgivable, said Bill Bynum, its chief executive officer.

"This is a program too long in coming that is finally here," Landrieu said. Because of the potential for creating job-generating businesses throughout the city, "this not only promotes healthy diets but also promotes a healthy economy," he said.

Loan applicants can be established supermarket operators or fledgling entrepreneurs, Bynum said, as long as they have a business plan and are committed to providing healthful-food outlets in communities where such stores don't exist.
According to a Tulane University survey, nearly 60 percent of low-income residents said they need to travel more than three miles to reach a supermarket. However, the canvass showed that only 58 percent of the interviewees owned cars.

City Councilman Jon Johnson said the need for such businesses is especially acute in his district, where there are no supermarkets in the Lower 9th Ward and only one in sprawling eastern New Orleans.

By improving the quality of available food, these stores can be catalysts for better health, city Health Commissioner Karen DeSalvo said, because better diets will lower the amount of obesity and lessen the risk of such conditions as diabetes and heart disease.

Once these stores are established, they will be inspected regularly to ensure they are devoting at least 15 percent of their shelf space to healthful foods, said Donald "Diego" Rose, head of the nutrition section in the Department of Community Health Sciences in Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Working with the city and Hope Enterprise to attract these businesses will be the Food Trust, a nutrition-related advocacy organization from Philadelphia.

The Food Trust proved in its hometown that it could persuade quality businesses to build in neighborhoods that might not seem promising and thrive there, said Yael Lehmann, its executive director. It isn't that difficult, she said at the news conference. "Everybody eats. Everybody's into fresh food."

No one at the news conference knew how many stores would be built, and no one was willing to predict the opening date for the first store built as part of this program. "I don't know" when that will be, Landrieu said, "but I hope soon."
So do I. It's painful to know that this is the state of things in a major US city in the 21st Century following a man-made disaster.

And so it goes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

WTF? No, Really. These Headlines Could not be Made Up.

I go to work for a few hours and come home to news like this? Feh!
A 70 year old man (in Philadelphia) is stoned to death because the Bible says it must be so.

Radiation found in Japanese food in towns near damaged power plants.

Sarah (Mooselini) Palin insists that the GOP lost in 2008 because SHE was not at the top of the ticket.  Yes, read that again. 

The first radioactive plume from Japan heads to the west coast of the US.

US Forces are firing missiles at government targets in Libya. WTF!  Yes, please read that one again, too.
Returned home to find a note tucked under the windshield wiper on the car from some delusional soul telling me that I am parked in their space.  No signature or phone, or address. Um, I am parked on a public street in almost the same spot I've parked for close to a year.

The 'supermoon' will be visible tonight and I am locking the door, turning off most lights, and dancing in the dark. No wait, oh never mind.

Where the hell are those olives? 

And so it goes.

An Irish Caturday

Yes, we're still celebrating St. Pat's Day this weekend and the green beer is wearing me down. Not drinking it (do you think I'm mad?) just looking at it. 

More later.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gay-Bashing - Will it Ever End?

This horrible, shocking, and all too common message arrived while I was a work today. I have no idea who sent it, but I can tell you it makes me sick.

Less than a month ago, Barie Shortell, a gay Brooklynite was brutally attacked on North 4th and Wythe. His attackers broke his nose, jaw and eye socket in what would seem like a robbery attempt….only thing is they didn’t steal anything. Before the attack they were taunting him with derogatory anti-gay comments. The sole purpose of attack was hate.
After the attack, Barie endured 9.5 hours of surgery to reconstruct his face. He is healing now, but like many Americans he was uninsured and was left with a HUGE hospital bill. To contribute there is a benefit account set up to assist with Barie’s hospital bills, after care such as physical therapy, legal fees and other expenses related to the crime, please send donations to:

The Barie Shortell Benefit Account
Minnco Credit Union
311 Credit Union Drive
Isanti, MN 55040  
Here is a link to the website set up for info on the event:
Words fail.
And, unfortunately, so it goes.

St. Patrick's Day at Dos O'Locos

Sorry.  But that was at the top of the St. Pat's menu.  There'll be more later.
Cajun and Romanian.
Yes, everyone was in some shade of green  - as far as the eye could see. I am sure there are tales to tell about the festivities of last night in town.

More later.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Extreme Super Moon Coming Saturday

Just what we need this post-St. Patrick's Weekend.  Promises extra high tides and more beach erosion. Still, it ought to be a beautiful sight:
It's called an "extreme supermoon" and when it rises in the eastern sky on Saturday, it won't just be full, it also will be making its closest approach to Earth in 18 years.

If no clouds get in the way, it should be a great night for stargazers. But the moon, which will appear about 10 to 15 percent larger than normal, could create abnormally high tides from Friday through Sunday, experts say. And that could mean beach erosion and minor flooding along the shoreline.

"The tides are definitely going to be higher, not only in Florida, but worldwide," said astronomer Arnold Pearlstein.

The best time to view the moon will be at sunset — about 7 p.m. — on Saturday, when it will be closest to the horizon and should look "huge and orangey," Pearlstein said.

Jay Albert, of the Astronomical Society of the Palm Beaches, said the best way to view it will be with the naked eye, not a telescope. The lunar surface will be too bright to easily discern mountains and craters.

Some think the supermoon is a harbinger of global chaos, including earthquakes and hurricanes. Others, such as Pearlstein, disagree. But he said, "It's going to be interesting to see if there will be more wolves howling at the moon."
Maybe not wolves, but the crazies will be out in force.  Should be a fun weekend. Stay tuned.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MY Government Today Prepared to Do Something for Which We Hanged Germans

This is one of those pieces where past and present collide, and it ain't pretty. When we forget history and someone or something smacks us in the face with it.  This is how far we are willing to go, and to hell with history? Speech by U. S. Nuremberg Prosecutor:
After listening to that great introduction, you must have expected someone to come in here ten feet tall. Well, I used to be ten feet tall, but the problems of the world wore me down.
You've heard from two courageous young authors, Sandy Davies and David Swanson. Everybody's young compared to me - I'm going to start my 92nd year in a couple of weeks. They have the courage to speak out and call the government liars and then list the specifics about it. In my introduction to Sandy’s book, Blood On Our Hands, I asked: "Whose blood? On whose hands?" It's your blood, young people. And whose hands? Well, those who are responsible.
What can I tell you that may be useful to you? I will try to give you my personal impression of how it is that we get ourselves into this predicament. I witnessed the horrors of World War Two. I was honorably discharged as a Sergeant of Infantry, and the War Department awarded me five battle stars for not having been killed or wounded. I had seen horrors which are really indescribable - the inhumanity of human beings to other human beings.
The first thing to understand is the mentality of those who made the war and the atrocities possible. The crimes of war are not limited to one particular country or one type of person. And I thought I'll talk to you about someone you've probably never heard of and a trial you've probably never heard of before. I was the Chief Prosecutor in a murder trial that convicted, 22 defendants convicted of murdering in cold blood over a million people, including hundreds of thousands of children, shot one at a time. What kind of people can commit such abominable crimes and for what reasons?
The lead defendant was a gentleman was SS General Otto Ohlendorf, Doctor Otto Ohlendorf, father of five children. He was polite and I'm sure he was kind to his cats and dogs. He sent his top secret reports to SS Headquarters in Berlin, saying how many Jews , Gypsies and others his men had killed in which town as the Wehrmnacht advanced into Poland and the Soviet Union. Unfortunately for them, we fond the complete daily top- secret reports of the massacres.
The quadripartite trial by the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg in 1946 was followed by a dozen lesser-known subsequent proceedings designed to reveal the involvement of broad segments of German society in the commission of Nazi crimes. The man in charge of these subsequent trials, which followed the IMT trial where Robert Jackson was the Chief Prosecutor, was a distinguished lawyer, General Telford Taylor. We discovered this set of reports from these killing squads called Einsatzgruppen (literally Action Groups), which was a name deliberately designed to disguise their mission, They were composed of four units totaling about 3000 men assigned to follow the German troops into Poland and Russia and annihilate all the Jews, as well a Gypsies and some others. I was in charge of the US army office in Berlin assigned to collect evidence for the additional Nuremberg trials. I presented the newly discovered evidence to General Taylor and urged that we start a separate trial against the Einsatzgruppen mass murderers. Taylor recognized the significance of the evidence but was hesitant. "We haven't prepared it. The Pentagon hasn't approved it. We don't have staff. We can't do it." I replied, "You can't let these murderers escape."
I had won a scholarship at Harvard Law School on my exam in criminal law. I had always been interested only in crime prevention as a career. Taylor asked: "Can you do it in addition to your other work?" And I said, "Sure!" So I was appointed Chief Prosecutor, I rested my case in two days. We gave the defendants copies of every piece of evidence we intended to produce. Their arguments in rebuttal took about five months. Their alibis didn't stand up.
The lead defendant, Dr. General Otto Ohlendorf, explained why it was that he reported that 90,000 Jews had been eliminated, they never used the word "murder" - He calmly declared that it was necessary in self-defense...
"What do you mean, 'self defense'? Germany attacked Poland, Norway, Holland, Sweden, and France, etc. Nobody attacked Germany. Where's the self-defense?"
"Well," he said, "we knew the Soviets were planning to attack us, so we had to attack them in self-defense."
"Well, why did you kill all the Jews?"
"Well, everybody knows the Jews were in favor of the Bolsheviks, so you have to kill all the Jews too."
"Why the little children? Why did you kill all the little children?"
"Well, if they grow up and they become enemies of Germany when they find out what happened to their parents that would be dangerous a threat to our long-range security, so we'd better get rid of them too."
He was saying to me, "Don't you see the logic of it all?" And so he explained that.
I said, "Didn't you have any qualms about killing all these people, little children and all that?"
"No," he said, "because we relied on the head of state, Hitler. He had more information than I had, and he told us that the Soviets planned to attack, so it was necessary in presumed self-defense."
In our military jargon, we call such assaults a "preemptive first strike", The US military policy today does not preclude first strike by the United States in order to prevent a presumed attack from another side. That Ohlendorf argument was considered by three American judges at Nuremberg, and they sentenced him and twelve others to death by hanging. So it's very disappointing to find that my government today is prepared to do something for which we hanged Germans as war criminals.
After long deliberation, I concluded that the best and perhaps the only way to prevent mass atrocities was to stop war-making itself. Stop war-making?. Well, how do you stop war-making? Is it possible?
Of course, this will never happen, too much money to be made. 

Please read the rest for yourself, HERE. It is important and fascinating, at the same time.

And so it goes.

Shredding the Past

Despite dire weather predictions for these two days off I was able to get everything I wanted to do done, plus a couple of extras not in the original plans.

Though it was not very sunny yesterday it was mild and that lifted spirits everywhere. Took a walk on the boardwalk at sunrise. Got the usual errands out of the way, did some window shopping, (for the wish list)  stopped at the book store to pick up a back-ordered purchase. (More on that at a later date.) In late afternoon while doing laundry I was feeling a wee bit Irish, (Irish Cajun? anything's possible!) so made a traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage dinner. A small brisket and head of cabbage, a few small potatoes, carrots and onions made for a great change of diet and delicious, too. And I listened to "Donnybrook" all the while. It's a musical based on the film "The Quiet Man" and it's fair to say it wasn't exactly a hit.  I like the music.

I went hunting online for a locking file cabinet (everyone is scared stiff about Identity Theft here) and/or a fire-safe to keep the all important documents safe from theft or fire. While I was at it, I searched for a reasonably-price paper shredder, you know, for home use, but both of these items seem to have shot up in price since I lost the ones I had to my Ex in the move from the previous life.  I printed a few items that caught my eye and decided to check local stores this morning, which I did. 

As luck would have it I found the Shredder seen online at Staples for $40.00 less (store sale) so I snapped it up for $20.00. Printer paper and binder were also on sale.  So, I am set for the season. The file cabinet however, was a different story.  Prices have shot up and quality has decreased even on name brands, to a point where one can dent the front panel with a finger.  So I doubt the locking system would be of any value.  A can opener would certainly give one access to any valuables contained therein. I think the best move is to keep a lookout for an older one at a garage sale, or thrift shop.

While I was out I filled up the car which cost $29.00 for about 9 gal. of regular unleaded - and that was with the .20 discount per gal. from my supermarket points card. OK, so the last time I filled up was January 5th, but still, that's a lot of money these days. I am fortunate that I can walk to work and only use the car for errands once weekly, so that helps.

Connected the new shredder and am very pleased with the performance and resulting confetti. The machine is also quieter than I remember when shredding multiple sheets.  Good news all round. 

The not so good news is that while shredding old credit card statements I came across an account opened for the promotional value - no interest for 1 year - because the Ex had run up a lot of bills on one card and wanted to pay it off due to high interest.  Here's the dish: I opened the account in January, 2006.  Wrote a check for the full balance on his card ($3100.00) and promptly got sick, had surgery and was out of circulation for about 5 months.

During that time he made small payments monthly, went public with his new relationship, and started the plans for a new house while I was sedated and on high doses of Prednisone.  Prednisone was a big part of my life for well over a year and I suffered many ugly side effects. When I discovered all that had gone down I was il-prepared to cope with all of it and promptly forgot about having paid off his bill using my "new" account. The no-interest ended in 2007.  It took over THREE years to pay off that balance and I am only now discovering how much more I was screwed than originally thought.

Oh well, it is what it is.  Threshold of Revelation, and all that...

The rain seems to be over and the sky is making a great effort to clear, at least partially.  It's close to 60'F so I may take another stroll on the boardwalk this afternoon. The crocus and hyacinth are popping up and green is spreading everywhere.

Who knows? Maybe I'll arrive to find a tax refund check in the mail box.  I can dream, can't I?

And so it goes.

Meet the 95 Biggest Homophobes in the US House

They are going to work hard to force the President to defend DOMA. 

Joe Sudbay has the list over at AMERICAblog Gay.
"This morning, there are press conferences on the House and Senate sides of the Capitol to mark the introduction of DOMA repeal legislation."
If your Congress Critter is on the list, you might want to drop him or her a note or email.  Maybe even make a phone call.

Of course they are all Republicans and even some of the new members from the Teabaggers crowd.

Have a look and do what you can to make them hear your side.

More later.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

European Hospitals on Standby for Japan

No level of radiation is 'safe' and as levels in Japan reach a crisis stage, it's good to know that there are some who looked ahead to the possibility of this event.  From the BBC:

Five hundred bone marrow transplant centres across Europe are being asked to be on standby to treat Japanese radiation victims if the need arises.

The European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (EBMT) has (been) alerting its members, which include 3,000 medics in specialist units.

It is unclear how many in Japan might need their help, but the centres have plans and protocols ready to action.  Many were drawn up after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks.

It will be up to each centre to decide whether or not to take on any patients. In the UK there are 55 centres that could potentially help.

The president of the EBMT, Professor Alejandro Madrigal, said: "We are asking centres to tell us their level of response and capacity so we can measure the level of commitment at centres."

Professor Ray Powles, chair of the nuclear accident committee for EBMT, said it may be that between 20 and 30 workers at the nuclear Fukushima plant who are striving to contain the radiation will need treatment.

"It is too early to tell yet, but it is better to be prepared. If there was a humanitarian reason it would be something that could be offered. "We have contacted Japan directly and have also offered our services to them through the World Health Organization."
I have no TV service and that's probably for the best. As it is I ache at the images I see on the web and have stopped watching raw video footage altogether. It's all too much to wrap the brain around.


Monday, March 14, 2011

To Come Out, or Ride the Wave?

I've had this bit of real estate now for 4 years and enjoyed just being 'the Cajun' rather than drag along baggage from my previous life to people not necessarily interested in the past.  Lately, however, I have been receiving comments from fellow bloggers using my real name (acquired through emails and other bloggers who shall remain nameless) and truth be told, I kind of like the idea of posting as myself.  So, why not just do it?

Well...I moderate all comments, receive (and delete) nasty, odious messages on some of my personal posts as well as the comments added to certain news posts. Like:
Anything related to Katrina.
Everything related to the BP disaster.
All things 'Tea Party' related (especially that Palin harpy)
Any post that includes:
All references to my previous life from people who relentlessly monitor my posts and inform the Ex of anything remotely related.  Yes, too complicated.
Anything related to Delaware and/or Rehoboth Beach, political or otherwise.
My opinions on political and religious douchebaggery.
So, what to do?  Suggestions?  The blog name will remain the same no matter what is decided. Should I 'out' myself and be on the lookout for pitchforks and torches? (Joking!) Or, do I continue to delete comments that reveal my real name?

Yeah, I know..."the answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind.  The answer is blowin' in the wind."

More later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Gay and Straight of It

OK, I made it home at the end of another enlightening and fascinating weekend at the job; am having a few olives and slowly coming back to earth.

The sun has been out all weekend and as the temperature began to rise more and more people came out 'to play' in town. Whether on the beach, shopping, or dining, everyone was in good spirits. (I know I always write that, but it is true.) Since our Saturday special includes $15. pitchers of Margaritas or our Passion Fruit Sangria, let me say that spirits were heightened even more.

Dos Locos was busy both days; even this afternoon, which is traditionally when most visitors head back home for the work/school week. Birthdays were celebrated, including that of a tiny woman who has been a regular for almost 20 years, who came in with friends and neighbors to celebrate her 85th year. As usual, the generosity of the locos guys was evident as they paid the entire bill for her party. Food, booze, and all. Who knows how much she has spent in the restaurant over those 2 decades and I am sure the guys thought it was worth it. We employees heartily agreed. One bartender even offered her a lap dance. No kidding, and he would have done it if she said yes. She didn't.

There are always lots of tales to tell and incidents to relate, but one in particular happened this afternoon when 6 very sullen, rather large lesbians arrived and ignoring me, silently tried to make their way to a large table of their choosing. When I interrupted and introduced myself they continued to ignore me and walk all over the dining room (were they casing the joint for a possible robbery?) in search of just the right place to grudgingly settle in.

I dogged their steps and was determined to get their attention. Finally, as they stopped before two large tables that were already reserved, I simply said, "OK, stop right there. I have the perfect spot for you." The large, swaggering butch slowly turned on me (not to me) and said, "we're sitting here." And gave me a smirk that begged to be bitch-slapped off her fat face.

I smiled and said, " you will notice that a 'reserved' sign is on these tables, unless of course, you're unable to read. As I said, I have the perfect spot for you gals." Eyebrows raised all round as the butch gave me a size-up kind of glare - and I just smiled. "But, we want to sit here, can't these other people sit somewhere else? We were here first."

"Had you thought this out and made a reservation in advance, this could have been your dining spot, but you didn't; they did. So, follow me." I herded them to a large table by the front windows as the other women almost squealed with glee and the butch just grunted. "Oh, this is so nice", some said. YES! Victory was mine. Settled them in with menus and prodded them with margaritas, but the sour expressions remained. 45 minutes pass and they finally decide to order food.

Five minutes after that, 7 deliciously sweet (and funny) gay men enter and there is only one large table left and it happens to be directly across from the dour dykes.

Got the guys settled in and with pitchers of margaritas in place, food ordered, the snappy bantering began. They were having one last meal before heading back to Washington DC and the weekly grind. The guys were all in their 30s & 40s and clearly had known one another for years. Probably sharing summer beach houses together. You see where this is going?

While the guys whooped and laughed, teased their server and tossed about silliness with me, the dour dykes shot angry glances at everyone. Even the boss joined in for a few bits of fun which made me feel even better about what was happening.

Now both parties were seated in the same server's section and the lesbians complained about the laughter and silliness. The server told the boss and he just blew it off. The guys were not being loud or rude - just having a fun meal before the long drive home.

Icing on the cake: 3 lesbian regulars fly through the door, giving me hugs and turn to see the party of guys who, it just so happened, are great friends (some even work together) and asked to join the party.

Well, the dour ones were aghast at this turn of events and as jaws dropped I could guess what they were thinking, but dare not say. The boss was sure they were going to complain about the raucous gay men when they left, but now this was a mixed bunch of friends enjoying good food and company.

When they left, the dours shot nasty glances at the happy group and me. I thanked them for coming and received only a few grunts in response. Ah, class! Whatever happened to it? So very sad. I wondered if these women knew what was happening half way around the world following a huge earthquake and tsunami. I came to the conclusion that life was all about them - nothing else mattered. Their tiny world view didn't include such annoyances.They would play the role of victim to the hilt - no matter where they happened to be.

I was just finished my shift as the happy group was leaving. The whole situation was not lost on these people and they had great fun with it - including the 3 lesbians. They had to give me a hug (some even a kiss) as they was like a receiving line and I loved every minute of it.

Enjoyed my a-s drink with a few straight regulars at the bar who were witness to the entire tableau and shared their take on what happened. They had pretty much followed the scenario and watched as events unfolded. Fun Stuff! See, straight people can be trained to see the other side of life.  Took a short walk on the boardwalk before walking home in the bright sunlight of a new daylight-savings-time afternoon. Heaven.

And so it goes.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan Nuclear Plant Possible Meltdown

Not a happy video to view after work today.  Dr. Kaku (you probably recognize him) suggests this could be another Chernobyl - or worse because that disaster wasn't set into motion by an earthquake/tsunami event.

This all becomes more heartbreaking by the hour. And there are FIVE such plants located in the affected area.

And so it goes.

Lecture Caturday

Yes well, truth is just truth.

More later.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Anti-Slavery Manifesto of 1829

Yes, another one of those stories that I can't get enough of is in the news. The 'Appeal in Four Articles' was recently acquired by the University of Virginia and here's part of the story:

RICHMOND, Va. — The University of Virginia has acquired a rare first edition of an 1829 anti-slavery manifesto that was considered a rallying cry for black Americans and a major threat to Southern leaders, who worked vigorously to ban it.
The copy of abolitionist David Walker's "Appeal in Four Articles; Together With a Preamble to the Coloured Citizens of the World, But in Particular, and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America" is one of seven known to still exist. The pamphlet is on display at U.Va.'s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
A private endowment for U.Va.'s special collections recently acquired it from a New Jersey rare-book dealer for $95,000, university officials said Thursday.
"Scholars have rightly termed the Appeal a declaration of independence for black Americans and linked it to the long tradition of political dissent and pamphleteering, as well as to the beginnings of American abolitionism," said Deborah McDowell, director of U.Va.'s Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies.
In the 76-page, 8 1/2-inch-by-5-inch pamphlet, Walker urged slaves to rise up against their owners, and argued for the abolition of slavery on moral and Christian theological grounds.
"It really was the very first document in the United States to call for the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery," said Harry L. Watson, director of the University of North Carolina's Center for the Study of the American South.
A free black man's direct incitement to slave revolt was "highly explosive and highly illegal," Watson said.
Read on HERE.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Auto Repair, Tires, & Too Many Olives

Made it to the Auto dealership at 7:30 am, for the appointment to have the recall problem parts replaced and was pleasantly surprised that I was on the way back to the beach before noon.  No charge for the repair, of course, but the technician told me that while the tire treads were fine there was severe dry-rot on the sides near where the steel belting holds everything together and that all 4 tires should be replaced as soon as possible. 

The dry rot is caused by weather changes and the car not being garaged.  Parked out in the open and exposed to the elements shortens the life of tires.  Who knew?  All my previous vehicles had been garaged, safe and well taken care of.  I don't think this car has ever had a roof over it., so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  Driving more, or less (as in my case - once weekly) has no effect on the problem. It's the weather. The poor baby.

Of course, thanks to a few friends, I'll get a second opinion, and go from there. 

On the way home I made a few stops to take care of errands and did a little grocery shopping for the week.  Eureka!  Everything on the list was on sale and I saved a bundle. 

At home I slid a pork roast into a orange, sesame, garlic marinade and put it into the refrigerator. Ran a load of laundry, and made a remoulade for shrimp (one of the items on sale) which I haven't had in a while.

I was feeling so giddy following the productive day that last evening, I enjoyed 3 martinis! Listened to music, read a few fave blogs, checked email, was informed that I missed my blogiversary (again) and posted that information.

Took a shower, brushed teeth, and snuggled under covers. No pain.

I slept well until a dream where my Nikon was borrowed by someone I haven't seen in many years, who then used it to record some dirty mob or Mafia shinannigans and all of a sudden the mob was all over me with questions and accusations; warning me to give them the memory card, or else.  I discovered (in the dream) that I had no idea where the card was located and fumble through the camera's innards, other parts keep falling out, as I work feverishly to put them back in their proper places - where they do not want to stay.  All the while the wise guys are hammering me with bizarre questions, to which I had no answers.

I woke up twice, reminded myself that it was a dream, but (like using the 'pause' button) returned to the scene where I left off, as soon as I fell asleep again. Finally, it was more than I could handle, so I got out of bed at 4 am, made a cup of tea and tried to shake the memory of that super-intense dream.

No more 3-martini evenings for me.

And so it goes.

Just a Thought

Ah, Republicans.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another Belated Blogiversary

Yes, it's true.  I forgot again. This time the same person sent a reminder via email, rather than embarrass me by telling everyone in a posted  comment. (Bless you, BJ. You really ought to write one of these yourself.)

Visiting a few original posts it was alternately fun, scary, and sometimes terrifying. Hard to remember some of those painful steps out from under.  It was a good exercise to read and view ancient history, as well as the progress over the years.

What to say, really? Same Ingredients - Different Vessels. Simple. During the breakup, the Ex said "you're not the same person you were 30 years ago"  and my response was "And thank G*d for that" because at our core selves; we take on and discard habits, ideas, interests, hobbies, and vices as we move through life. We change, inhabit a new environment or vessel. In short, we grow.  That's the reason for this space.  I'm not a writer, but I have things to say and opinions. Being Cajun has been a huge benefit.

This place was set up and furnished at probably the worse time in my life (so far) and because of it, the truly wonderful people I've come to know if only in cyberspace have been instrumental in my journey of healing, getting back on my feet, and keeping my sensa-humah.

It isn't easy to start from scratch following a 30 year relationship when one is over 60 years old.  (I found no guide books to help me out.)  From scratch. From nothing. Some folks read then hung around and finally chose to make themselves known. For that I am grateful and honored to have you out there, but also in here, in my life.

For me this isn't about hits (40K) , or visits (26K), but community and shared experience, wisdom, joy, sorrow, wit, and snark, too.  I am blessed by everyone who visits, comments, and who offer themselves up on their own blogs for all to see - and love. You (and you know who you are) enrich my life daily.

Well, I have to go now.  This beaded gown is giving me an obscene rash and these Joan Crawford "come-fuck-me" pumps are killers! 

Oh, Laissez les bons temps rouler, y'all. Happy Mardi Gras!!!

And so begins year five!

NASA Data & Reports of Toxic Rain in Gulf from BP Disaster

And the data keeps rolling in like the tides, but few are willing to ask questions or talk about the truth. Jerry Cope on HuffPo:
Along the Gulf Coast, the marketing blitz for spring break is rolling out as the oil from the BP blowout 11 months ago continues to roll in along with increasing numbers of dead infant dolphins, in numbers completely without precedent. The beaches remain polluted with toxic oil and dispersant even as local politicians and government officials insist everything is fine and the oil miraculously gone. Thousands of pounds are collected each day from the few areas that remain under scrutiny, all of those being in highly visible resort areas. In one zone on Ft. Morgan beach in Alabama, a record 17,000 lbs was collected in one day after a winter storm rolled through. Along the beaches of Alabama in areas not frequented by media or guests, dead infant dolphins are left uncollected in the sand. Current plans by mayors of resort communities along the Gulf Coast will have thousands of vacationers, including at-risk populations, once again making sandcastles and sunbathing on toxic, polluted beaches.

BP continues to shut down the few cleanup efforts still underway with the approval of the federal government. At the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force meeting in New Orleans recently, scientists, NGO's, and concerned citizens demanded to know how the ecosystem could be restored when the basic cleanup of the oil has been made impossible by any known technology after the dispersant sank it to the ocean floor. Health concerns remained at the forefront of dialogue as a new report by the Louisiana Bucket Brigade finds that nearly 50 percent of the population along the Gulf Coast is experiencing sickness indicative of chemical poisoning related to the BP oil spill.


The data being released, which was collected by the NASA missions to the Gulf, shows that the toxic compounds released from the BP spill became airborne, and significant quantities were brought onshore by precipitation, thereby exposing coastal populations to chemical poisoning. This represents something new and unique not observed in previous oil spills. It helps explain why there were numerous reports by people living along the Gulf Coast that it was raining oil and dispersant during the summer months.
It's a pretty in-depth piece with plenty of links, and it's HERE.  Still, I wonder what the impact on the BP "cleanup" (if any) it will have.  In any event, if you are heading to the Gulf for Spring Break, especially if your immune system is compromised or have other risk factors, you may want to reevaluate your destination decision.  Would you rather believe state and local politicians, or scientists and NASA data?  Your choice.

And so it goes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras & March Madness; We Ain't Talkin' Sports.

It has been a long and exhausting weekend with thousands of people in the area for Mardi Gras, 2 local events, and Biker's weekend in Ocean City, Maryland (a few miles south of here and years behind us socially) with more than a few swarming Rehoboth and settling in to chow down with us all three days.  Mardi Gras festivities got started all over town on Friday with restaurants offering a special menu of dishes and cocktails, with entertainments thrown in to the mix for good measure.

As if that wasn't enough, the town was packed with people attending the annual Chocolate Festival, and the Library hosted one of its huge Book Sales on Saturday.  Both ran from morning to late afternoon after which visitors and volunteers alike dropped in for lunch and cocktails.

There was a Gumbo cook-off among many restaurants (we didn't participate) but had Gumbo on our special menu.  Beads, hats, masks, and appropriate cocktails are everywhere, and even rains and high winds Sunday couldn't keep folks away.

With all that crazy swirling around we managed to host the annual awards luncheon for local Alzheimer's volunteers yesterday.  We served 55 guests from a specially prepared menu and the entire event was funded by the Dos Locos Guys. (One's Mother died of the disease) And the rains didn't put a damper on the spirits of the event, either.  It was most heart-warming.

This morning presented us with a blue sky, frigid temperatures, and those damned high winds. I thought the lunch crowd would be a disappointment, but was pleasantly surprised to find many people stayed over and came by to enjoy a meal with us. Mardi Gras celebrations continue tonight and into tomorrow. I am grateful to be off the next 2 days so that I may regroup, energize and prepare for next weekend - Celebrating St. Patrick's Day...Green beer, corned beef and cabbage, shots of Jameson's...G*d help us!

One of my days off will be a bummer, have to take the car to the Toyota dealership to repair a recall issue that will likely take up most of the day.  But, for the time being, I still have Wednesday to play.

And so it goes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Five on the Fifth

"Borrowed" from Cubby:
Stephen Chapman in his blog “The State Of The Nation UK”, has a monthly feature called “Five on the Fifth” in which bloggers may participate by posting five photos on their blog and exchanging links with his.  The five pictures, taken in the days leading up to the fifth of the month, may be random or may follow his suggested theme, which this month is “Lines”.
OK, there are maybe 2 (if you stretch) that may resemble the original theme and none are in chronological order, but I hope they're enjoyable. I had fun. It is Mardi Gras weekend here at the beach, so there's that...
Many carnival birds are naked having given their all for this boa.
We are being watched from above.
Two of my favorite servers; a Russian & a Mexican.  Hysterical!

Beach Benches in a sunny moment.
A festive Mardi Gras hanging decoration in the restaurant dining room.
There, that does it for me. Oh, the stress!  Now I can prepare a festive cocktail and have a bit of dinner.

And so it goes.

PML Caturday

More later.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mardi Gras - A Little History

For some it may be all about booze and tits, but there's more to it than that. Only outsiders refer to the season as Mardi Gras.  New Orleanians  refer to it as Carnival.  (Image: floats in a parade. Click to embiggen.)

Why is Mardi Gras the largest celebration in the world?
Who knows but maybe it is because the theme is letting the crazier part out of us.
It is not called Mardi Gras everywhere, mainly in France and the United States. In Italy where it originated and most of the world it is called Carnivale or similar in Germany it is called Karneval.
This party of parties has survived though priests and rulers that have canceled it when things get TOO out of control. It would reappear even after being outlawed.
What is Mardi Gras all about ?
Mardi Gras centers around the theme of having a festival before the Lenten season. This starts on the 12th day after Christmas, which is January 6th and goes through the day before Ash Wednesday, which is always 46 days before Easter. This last day of the festival is known as Mardi Gras, which means in French, Fat Tuesday. Fat ( gras) and Tuesday (Mardi).History of Fat Tuesday around the world
Through history during this festival there have been all kinds of feasts, Masquerade balls and parades, to have a good time before we go into a serious time of sacrifice durning the lenten season.
Who thought up Mardi Gras ?
The festival called Lupercalia
Celebrating around this time in February goes back even before ancient Roman times where they celebrated a festival called Lupercalia. It centered around fertility and to ward off evil for the new year, which back then was March 1st. That is when people married and started to plant , so life became serious.
In fact the name February comes from “Februa” which were Strips of hide from a goat that had been sacrificed to the god of fertility during the festival of Lupercalia.
The Catholic church sure didn’t like the towns folk to be celebrating a festival based on pagan beliefs but recognized that the people loved to party. So they decided to change it to a Christian theme, based around the Lenten season. Modern Italian "carnevale" that comes from Old Italian "carnelevare"; Carne = meat, levare = raise, put away, remove. This refers to the fact that you will soon be fasting or eating meatless meals and giving things up in remembrance of the crucifixion of Christ, or Easter.
How is Mardi Gras celebrated in other parts of the world
In Ireland, Australia, and Canada, Shrove Tuesday is known as "Pancake Tuesday", while in Britain it is popularly known as "Pancake Day".
In both regions the traditional pancake is a very thin one (like a French crêpe) which is served immediately sprinkled with caster sugar (superfine sugar in the United States) and a dash of fresh lemon juice or alternatively drizzled with Golden syrup.
In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, household objects are baked into the pancakes and served to family members. Rings, thimbles, thread, coins, and other objects all have meanings associated with them. The lucky one to find coins in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, and the finder of the thimble will be a seamstress or tailor. Children have great fun with the tradition, and often eat more than their fill of pancakes in search of a desired object.
More information about the foods associated with the holiday as well as how it is celebrated in other parts of the world are HERE.  
And you thought it was all about New Orleans or Rio!!!

And so it goes.

Hillary: Al Jazeera 'Real News'

Criticizes the US Media, and IMHO, it's about time.

We're the most technologically advanced country in the world, so slowly but surely we've been trying to take back the airwaves in Afghanistan against Taliban with the most primitive kind of communication equipment. Now, take that as one example where I don't think we were very competitive, and we have worked like crazy to change that, and then go to the most extreme where you've got a global, a set of global networks, that Al Jazeera has been the leader in, that are literally changing people's minds and attitudes.


And like it or hate it, it [Al Jazeera] is really effective. And in fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.
Read the whole piece and view a video of Hillary's comments HERE.

If you want to learn more, check out the documentary film "Control Room" about the beginnings of the Iraq war, how Al Jazeera was demonized and probably why it isn't available from US cable companies. The film won awards at both Cannes and Sundance in 2004.

More later.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gays Can't Play Straight Roles?

Enuf said.


Taxman Cometh and Taxman Goeth*

The tax returns have finally been filed.  I have to pay a small amount to the state, but (first time in 5 years!) I can expect a small refund from the federal government instead of having to pay more than was deducted from my payroll.

Delayed a few days  because some of the financial and tax statements were slow in coming and the preparer wanted to send copies of the exact documents required and I am glad she did. One culprit was my previous bank, sitting on the documents regarding both the checking and savings accounts. That material arrived on Friday, February 25th - which is a month later than promised. 

Anyway...That's a load off my chest.

No matter, I am through with "too big to fail" banks and happy with the Credit Union where they take care of me, know my first name, and call or email suggestions or account information updates.  No waiting for snail mail from some corporate headquarters in another state. Everything is local.  Hell, many of the employees are customers of the restaurant, too. 

The first thing I am going to do with the refund (after paying what I owe to the state) is take myself out to dinner to relax and be waited on for a change.  Don't get me wrong, I love my own cooking, but it's nice to splurge on a delicious meal I wouldn't (or couldn't) prepare myself.  Oh C'mon, you know I love to cook.

We have fabulous restaurants in this town and there are 3 on my short list, including my place of employment. That ought to tell you something about the quality of food there. The other 2 are a few short blocks away, but I have plenty of time to decide as the refund will not arrive anytime soon.

Yay for me!!!

*Goeth: not likely to be in the dictionary 'cause I made it up.

And so it goes.


Dunno, but the message is just about right for the people on the Gulf coast.

More later.
Update: A comment from Charlotte - This is often attributed to Banksy but it's actually by Priest, a street artist based in Mobile.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Did It All!

Two days off and so much done I can't believe it. Every errand, every chore, scratched off the long list with energy to spare, and it's time for olives!

Massive shopping for groceries. Had a craving for cantaloupe and they were on sale, bought two. Cooked and baked - have the burns on both hands to prove it - washed and ironed shirts, and polished shoes.

Bought a few useful items for the kitchen and bath and paid with a gift card received at the company Christmas gift-exchange. No money spent...nice!

Tried to find better picture hanging options, but everything points to the same stick-on things. So far, the other pieces have stayed put, only that one painting fell victim to gravity.  Maybe if I cleaned the wall again and used more of the hooks the weight would be better distributed and the thing will stay affixed to the wall. All the other tenants say these things work for them.  Maybe I'll give it another shot, before having the piece re-framed, JIC. Framing will be in the future, a luxury expense not in the budget at the moment. For now, Epoxy will work just fine. No likely visitors, anyway.

Received a recall notice from Toyota informing me of a necessary repair, so made an appointment for that to be taken care of next week. The car usually sits at home for 5 or 6 days at a time. I've driven less than 90 miles since I filled up on January 5th, so I am not afraid something will suddenly break between now and next week.

Back to work tomorrow with the locos guys due back from Mexico on Friday. Celebrating Mardi Gras with special menu and drinks Saturday through Tuesday (Mardi Gras day) and since the sister sent a box of festive beads again this year, I will be a colorful sight to behold all weekend.  Well, maybe not.

And so it goes.
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