Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Good-bye 2003, Hello 2004

Good grief! I can’t believe that in just a few hours 2003 will be history. I don’t bother to make predictions or resolutions. I’m not psychic, so I can’t see the future, and resolutions are usually broken in the first week.

Predictions for the future? I predict the sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the west; days will be light and nights dark; that summer will be warmer than winter and winter will be cooler than summer; that there will be 29 days in February this year, and that there will be a presidential election in the fall.

I’d like to believe that the economy will continue to improve, that Osama will be caught or proven to be dead, that peace will reign in the Mideast, and that tomorrow I won’t be writing about another terrorist attack in the US.

When I do make resolutions, I try to make it more of an “I’ll try to…” thing than “I resolve to” because resolving to do something usually involves major lifestyle changes (dieting, exercising, and so on) and they almost always fail. When I “try to” do something, it’s not set in stone and not set up for failure from the beginning.

So, I’ll try to be a better person by taking better care of myself. That way, I’ll feel better, my attitude will be better, I’ll have more patience and understanding, and I’ll have more tolerance toward stupid (I have a serious problem with stupid). I’ll try to plan for the future so that I’ll be able to retire when I want to, instead of continuing to work past my burnout time.

I (will try to) plan to continue working out at Curves three days a week. I was weighed and measured a couple of weeks ago and although I didn’t show a weight loss, I did lose 6.5 inches around the waist, and a half-inch to an inch around the hips, thigh, and arm. I saw improvement and that helps to motivate me to continue. Now that the holidays are all but over, I’ll be able to work on my dietary changes (not a diet, but eating better) and the few, relatively minor health challenges I have.

I (will try to) continue to do what I can to get the Fair Tax Act passed. And, no, I don’t have such a high opinion of myself that I can get this done all by myself or that without me it won’t get passed! But I think it’s important enough to do whatever I can to spread the word about the FTA so that those who have the influence can. I’ve written about it before and there is a link in the sidebar for the website. Right now, I’m planning to write at least once a month about it. Yes, it’s that important and will make that big a difference in your wallet and bank account.

And finally, I will try to let those who are important to me know how important they are to me. I won’t regret telling people how important they are to me, but I could regret not telling them.

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I just found this link at Bella Online. These are addresses for military personnel serving their country who would like to receive Holiday greetings. Some have received NO mail at all.

If it touches your heart to do so, please send a card. If you are really generous, a package. It's better late than never! Prayers are always good; they're always the right size and color.

If for any reason this link doesn't work (and for some reason I'm having trouble with links so don't be surprised) please copy and paste or type into your browser.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Merry Christmas

I don’t know whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday. I celebrate Christmas because that is the day we celebrate as the birth of Christ. I respect other religions and their traditions and beliefs. I expect the same respect for my traditions and beliefs.

Obviously, I have no problem with public displays of the Nativity scene. Since the United States is mostly a Christian nation, public displays of religious symbols such as the Nativity should be expected at Christmas time. If someone requests to have another display, such as a menorah, or something to represent Kwanzaa (I apologize, I don’t know enough to know what an appropriate symbol would be), next to or near the Nativity, I have no problem with it. I do have a problem when someone says that a symbol of another faith is appropriate, but a Christian symbol, such as the Nativity, is not. That’s discriminatory. And I would feel the same way if a community refused a Menorah when a Nativity is displayed. Wrong is wrong no matter which symbol is being refused.

I recently read that Santa Claus himself was outlawed (sorry, I can’t remember where) as a Christian symbol. Huh? Santa is not a religious symbol. Santa is a symbol of goodwill, generosity, and love to all children in all nations. There is nothing political or religious about Santa. Jews who celebrate Hanukah also give their children Christmas gifts from Santa Claus (or at least some of the Jews I know do).

A neighborhood association near where I live has advised that homeowners are not to put displays out at all. The association has approved luminaries, and any other display will result in a visit from the Association (gasp! horrors! The Association!) I usually don’t pay attention to homeowner association rules, but this one brought out the white trash redneck in me. Remember the Roseanne episode where the Conner’s decorated with the tackiest Christmas decorations they could find? That’s how I felt on reading the article.

I understand the why. This is an upscale neighborhood and they want the decorations to be “appropriate” to the neighborhood. I really do understand. I wouldn’t want my $250K house next to a house decorated by Roseanne in her white trash mode. But, I also don’t want to live in a neighborhood where every house looks exactly alike. If I want to put out a Nativity scene or Santa and the Reindeer, I should be able to do so on my own property.

So, whether you decorate with a nativity, simple lights, a nativity, Menorah's in the window. or no decorations at all, I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, joy-filled Christmas.

Merry Christmas to All!

Monday, December 22, 2003

Christmas Vacation

So, Friday was a looong day for me. Got to work early because I had so much to get done before I could leave on my two weeks vacation. Didn't get everything done, but the one thing I wanted to do is so late anyway that another couple of weeks is not a problem. But guess what my priority will be January 5th?

We had a Community Advisory Board meeting for our high-risk program. The CAB is where we invite selected members of the public, our components, and staff within our agency to a meeting where we can discuss what we have done, what we plan to do, and how to go about improving the program. Sometimes they are very productive, other times, they are pretty much just a dog-and-pony show for the citizen members. I can't yet decide just where this meeting fell: not as productive as some, but still more than just dog-and-pony. Not much different from most meetings, I guess.

Then, we had to get ready for our Christmas luncheon. Everyone started showing up about 11:15 for the 11:30 lunch. It was about then we realized that we didn't have plastic forks. Spoons and knives we had, but no forks. We called the main facility and found they had some to give us. A director was told to go get them. At noon, he hadn't yet gone, said he thought it (the lunch) started at noon. Now, why would he think he didn't need to the get the forks until noon (or later) when he thought the lunch started at noon? Actually, if you knew him you would understand that he's not always the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Lunch was really nice, as usual. There was plenty of good food, Christmas music on the boom box, and good companionship. The fact that gifts were involved didn't hurt either! I think a good time was had by all. Last year, we catered the lunch and it was a disaster! The caterer was one of the people we worked with (she's no longer with us - her leaving had nothing to do with the lunch). Several of us knew that she did catering on the side, and the things that she had brought in from time to time were very good. So, when we were making decisions on the Christmas lunch, we decided to make it easy on everyone and have her cater. Well, we were still talking about it this year. I think she allowed a half sandwich per person. The veggie trays you get from the local grocery stores had more veggies, and I think there was one bag of chips. I had sort of blocked the whole fiasco from my memory because I seem to remember being instrumental in pushing to have her cater.

I got a couple of hours of work done and then Tina and I had a class in Small Animal Handling to teach. I graded some papers while Tina taught, and inserted a few pithy (!) comments as appropriate. I finally left the office about 545p (I should have left at 430p) after getting, I think, everything else done. I typed some memos, prepared some letters to be mailed out, and typed minutes to three meetings I attended last week.

Oh, the reason I was typing the minutes days after the meetings? My computer developed a corrupted hard drive and wouldn't even let me log in. When I called Computer Services, I was told they would pick up the CPU and return it "sometime". This was Wednesday. I explained that this just would not do, that I had time-sensitive documents that had to be done before going on two weeks vacation, not to mention the work that would have piled up when I got back on top of whatever I couldn't do before leaving if I didn't have a working computer. Well, they took pity on me (thank you!) and got the CPU back on Thursday. I then found out that my Outlook was missing. This is where all my calendars, task lists, and contact information are stored. Ok, the calendar isn't that important. I constantly revise the task list, so re-doing it would not be more than an annoyance, but I couldn't reproduce the contact list. I called Computer Services again, and when Rob called me back (he's the one who was so great about getting my CPU back so fast), he said he thought it was gone, but he'd do what he could. Then, when I tried to print, I found my printer wouldn't print. Arghhh! Rob had forgotten to install the printer drives. That was fixed, then eventually Rob found my Outlook files and life is good again! Thanks again, Rob!

Christmas Vacation Part II

Now that I am on vacation, I'm looking forward to getting some stuff done around the house. There are so many things I want to do, and so little time and money. The big stuff will wait until we get our income tax refund. I just want to get some of the clutter out now. And, by the time I go back to work, things will be different!

We're planning on going to Melbourne where Dale's dad lives and hopefully, we'll get together with my brother and his family before leaving. But, if that's not possible, we'll see John and Judi whenever it's possible after the holidays. We're leaving on Christmas Eve and will be back sometime Sunday.

I have 16 days of vacation planned, three of that are holidays; six are weekend days, and seven are vacation days. Ten paid days off and I'll only be charged for seven. It's good to be a government employee!

We have so much junk in this house that it's getting unwieldy. How can two people collect so much stuff?? Luckily, we've got our Christmas gifts planned so that we won't have even more stuff. My van needs some work, so I've been driving Dale's van. He wants his back and I want mine, we're going to fix mine so we'll each get what we want. It might be a couple more weeks, but it will get done!

It will be a sad time in Melbourne. Dale's mom passed away in September and this will be the first Christmas without her. She was a lovely lady and is missed by all who knew her. She would want everyone to enjoy Christmas and that is what we will do. I'm also hoping we'll be able to spend time with Dale's best friend Stewart and his wife, Dina, while we're there. They've been friends for years and I always feel bad when we're in Melbourne and Dale doesn't get to see Stewart. It's that time of year to see people you miss and I'd like to get to know them better.

So, while we are gone, I won't be posting. Some of you might enjoy missing my posts (he he) and others will just have to patiently wait until next week.

So, enjoy the holiday. Light the Hanukkah whether they be Christmas lights or Hanukah candles. Hang the mistletoe and holly; enjoy the holiday spirits (eggnog, punch, or your favorite libation). Have a wonderful time at your Holiday meal, whatever may be served. Eat, drink and be merry and worry about the calories next year!

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The U.S. Soldier Is Time Person of Year

Time Magazine got it right and chose the US Soldier as the Person of the Year. It’s about time, and long past, that the soldier was recognized for the achievements, and sacrifices, they have made for over two hundred years.

For too many years, citizens of this country have belittled the armed forces. Not all citizens, mind you, but far too many of those in the public eye, and those everyday citizens who mindlessly follow the words of those in the public forum. Too many people today rely on the words spoken by their favorite actor, singer, writer, or sports figure to determine what they themselves think. Thought and consideration as well as some study have to be put into forming opinions. Then you have to determine how those opinions go with your own values, morals, and ethics. Many people change their values, morals, and ethics to fit what they have heard someone else say. It’s much easier to repeat someone else’s thoughts than it is to form your own opinions.

It took four jets and the deaths of nearly three thousand people to wake America up to the fact that not everybody in the world likes us. And because of this event, we had to go to war. Not a declared war, and not against an enemy that could be easily identified. We are at war against hatred and bigotry; hatred and bigotry that is directed at America. And it is the soldier who faces this everyday.

Thousands of young men and women enlist in the Armed Forces every year. They don’t do it for the money; the soldier is not paid that well. Some enlist for the educational benefits, some for the technical training. No one enlists to die in a foreign country, but they know that it can happen. And every citizen of the US knows that when the bullets start flying, someone can die. No one wants our soldiers to die: not the “average” citizen on the street, the politicians, not the military establishment. Sometimes it’s right to make compromises and appeasements. But there comes a time when you have to draw a line and say, “enough is enough.” Our soldiers are the ones who have to enforce that line. And sometimes they die.

No matter what our political ideology is, we have to honor and respect the American soldier. They are doing what most of us can’t or won’t do. Putting their lives in danger to protect American values and, ultimately, American lives.

To the American Solider: You are the Person of the Year. God Bless!

Read the full story at:

Libya Got a Clue

It was announced that Libyan Prime Minister Col. Muammar Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi has admitted that Libya had Weapons of Mass Destruction program. Libya has agreed to allow UN inspectors to oversee the dismantlement of the program.

Earlier this year, Libya took responsibility for involvement in the Lockerbie Scotland crash of Pam Am Flight 103. As a result of this, Libya is paying out millions of dollars to survivors of the Lockerbie victims.

It appears to me that Qadhafi has taken to heart what happened in Iraq. Qadhafi a) wants to keep his position as Prime Minister, b) wants Libya to continue to exist as he know it and c), enjoy the wealth that is possible for Libya by taking these steps.

While it was a long time coming, I admire that Qadhafi has taken this step. It takes a certain amount of courage to admit that your country was involved in something as heinous as Lockerbie. It’s easy to deny and continue to deny in the face of evidence and world opinion. Look at Saddam. He would still be in power had he a) admitted to the WMD program, b) allowed inspectors free access to the country, or c) provided proof that it did not exist or that the weapons had been destroyed. Saddam chose to do none of these things. And look where he is now.

I don’t know what made Qadhafi take this step; whether it was his own future he is concerned about, the future of Libya, or whether the UN finally did something right. I’ve heard several of the talking heads say that it was the UN who made him do it. I personally don’t believe it and the reason is not important to me. Qadhafi has taken the high road. I don’t for a minute mean to suggest that we should think that Libya is now our best buddy. It’s taken far too long to come to this place. For whatever reason, Qadhafi is here and we must take the chance while we have it. Let the UN oversee the dismantlement. We’ve got enough to do.

Qadhafi hopes that other countries will look at Libya as a good example. I, too, hope that other world leaders who have WMD programs take a second look at what happened in Iraq. Qadhafi did and he and Libya will come out ahead.

Kim Chong-il: are you listening?

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Is America Safer?

Is America safer now that Saddam is in custody? Not directly. I don’t believe that Saddam himself was directly involved in any terrorism against the United States. Now, that does not mean that I believe that he is innocent of aiding and abetting terrorism against the US.

Apparently documents were found providing a link from Saddam to Mohammed Atta (if there is anyone in the world I harbor hatred against, it is this man. And the fact that he is dead makes no difference in my mind). Atta was in Iraq with the knowledge and approval of Saddam. Not only that, but Saddam contributed monetarily to terrorist activities. I don’t believe for a minute that Saddam had the courage to directly attack the US. He would have allowed others to do the dirty work for him. He would have subsidized them knowing what they planned to do, but turning a blind eye to their activities.

Would Saddam have been happy to see the US crumble? Of course. He and most of the rest of the mid-eastern world hates the US because we do not embrace the Muslim faith. And to make matters worse, we are prosperous and the most powerful nation in the world. We are infidels and do not deserve to live, much less have the power and prosperity we have.

Saddam is a deluded individual who still lives in the world he created over the last three decades. Only now, it’s not Iraq, it’s all in his mind.

Showing the Video – Good Idea or Bad?

The video is, of course, of Saddam undergoing the medical exam after his capture. There are some, such as the Vatican, some Congressmen, Hollywood celebrities and various world leaders who think it was a travesty to show the video.

It had to be shown. It was the only way to show the Iraqi people that Saddam was in custody. And to show the world that he was receiving the same care that any other “person of interest” in military custody would receive. I've heard that the mouth exam was to determine if he had cyanide capsules in his teeth. It makes no difference to me. The reason behind the exam was for his own health and the health of the people who would have care and custody of him. After all, he could have had a contagious illness. Or infested with fleas, or lice. And never forget that we treat our prisoners better than a lot of other countries have treated our people who were prisoners. Americans do believe in doing the right thing.

Some say it was degrading to show the video. This was, after all, video of a former world leader. (Excuse me? Third world, maybe.) It’s not as if we were showing tape of Saddam stripped and being deloused. That would have been degrading and I would be incensed about it. Everyone, no matter what their crime, deserves a certain amount of human dignity. Dignity that Saddam himself did not allow citizens of his own country.

Don't forget this is the man who ordered the gassing of the Kurds. This is the man who under whose reign thousands of Iraqis vanished after daring to disagree with Saddam. This is the man who allowed his sons to kidnap, rape, mutilate, and murder women. This is the man who allowed those same sons to murder people by putting them into shredding machines - alive.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Living in Luxury

Reading back over my last post, I mentioned that Saddam and his family lived in luxury. I don't remember how many palaces they had which were all richly appointed. They had all the toys of the rich and lived a jet-set lifestyle.

Now, let me set something straight. When a person has worked and earned the right to that lifestyle, I don't begrudge it to them. They earned it by the sweat of the brow. Or at least, because they had a service or a product that they made their money with.

Sam Walton is a good example. He started with an idea that eventually became the biggest corporation in the world. It made Sam a multi-billionaire. Most of the people in the US who are millionaires started out with an idea and worked until they were successful. More millionaires in the US made their own fortunes than inherited their wealth. Bet you didn't know that.

Saddam "earned" his lifestyle by overthrowing one government and instilling himself as the "president" of the new government. He then robbed and murdered innocent Iraqi people to keep his acquired position in life.

He didn't earn anything. He stole it. He stole it from the people of Iraq. He tried to steal it from the Kuwaiti people. He never thought the bubble would burst. The trouble with bubbles is they are very fragile. When they burst, there is nothing left.

All that was left of Saddam's bubble was Saddam himself. A whole lot of nothing.
Who Should Try Saddam?

Considering the crimes Saddam committed against his own countrymen, it is obvious to me that the Iraqi citizens should sit in judgment of this dictator. Make sure the judges or jury are Kurds or had a father, brother, sister, mother, or friend, kidnapped or arrested by Saddam's goons. Some of his victims vanished into underground jails where they were tortured and starved to death. He gassed the Kurds, thousands of them. After the first Gulf War, those who had openly supported the Allies were arrested, and if lucky, died a quick death. Many just disappeared. Possibly buried in one of the mass graves uncovered during the early days of the war.

And let us not forget that he allowed his sons, Uday and Qusay, to kidnap women to rape, mutilate, and kill. Anyone who had the nerve to object might end up in shredding machines.

Saddam is directly responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths and indirectly responsible for thousands more.

He stole from the Iraqi people so that he, his family, and those he favored, could live in luxury. While he lived a luxurious lifestyle, the Iraqi people lived in poverty. Electricity was sporadic. Running water meant jogging from the local well with a jug of water.

When questioned, he told interrogators that he was a benevolent ruler who ruled fairly and wisely. That his people loved him. I believe that he believes it. He still hears the cheers of the people. People who were afraid not to cheer; that they would be the next to be arrested or just disappear.
Saddam Must Receive a Fair Trial

It is the responsibility of the US and the Coalition, whether we want it or not, to make sure that Saddam gets a fair trial. If there is any question of fairness, and there will be, then any verdict will be questionable.

In the US, lawyers would be asking for a change of venue because he couldn't get a fair trial where the crimes were committed. I can't imagine anywhere in the world that a jury of his peers could be paneled who could set aside their opinions and hear the facts with an unbiased mind.

"Fair" in this case has to be subjective. It's subject to the court he will be tried in. Iraqi courts are different than American courts. There are things required in our courts that are not in Iraq. The trial will be televised and, I predict, will be bigger than the OJ trial. We will see things that we, as Americans, will scream "Objection!" to, that are completely acceptable in Iraqi courts. Perry Mason and Matlock would be hard pressed to defend Saddam in Iraq unless they studied Iraqi courtroom procedures. In the courtroom, sometimes the procedures are as important, if not more so, than the law itself.

I spoke in another post about being "innocent until proven guilty." If you, my favorite reader, will remember, I explained that concept only applies to the judge and jury. They are required to judge the facts of the case and only the facts of the case with a open and unbiased mind. Everyone else in the world is allowed to prejudge the defendant.

I can't imagine a panel of jurors judging the case of The Iraqi People vs. Saddam Hussein. In the first place, I don't know if Iraqi courts even use the jury system. It's my understanding that in some countries, only judges hear cases; juries are non-existent. In the second place, I don't know if he will be tried in the Iraqi courts. He may be tried by a military tribunal - American, coalition, or Iraqi. War Crimes Tribunals are generally heard by a panel of judges. Military tribunals are heard by officers. A tribunal trial may be his best chance to get a fair trial.

In any case, whatever court hears the case has to be as fair as possible. I want the world to know that he received the fairest treatment possible. I don't want any country or person to say that he got less than a fair trial.

It's more than the men, women, and children of Iraq received under his dictatorship.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Ladies and Gentlemen: We got him.

With those six words, an era of brutality has ended. The Bully of Baghdad was taken without a shot being fired. This man, who encouraged his followers to fight against those who freed his people from his 36-year reign of terror, surrendered without a fight.

This is the man who encouraged his troops to fight a jihad against American and coalition forces. This is the man who encouraged his people to fight to the death. This is the man who meekly surrendered to the troops who would take him into custody. The pistol he carried on his hip stayed in the holster.

The Bully of Baghdad showed his true colors. For 36 years, he gave orders to torture and kill innocent citizens of Iraq. He allowed his sons to kidnap, rape, torture, and kill. He ordered the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. And when he had the chance to kill himself, he apparently couldn't do it. Why? I don't know, maybe he was caught off-guard and didn't have the chance. Maybe he didn't have any bullets. Maybe he was disoriented. Maybe he just didn't have the courage.

This bully is like all other bullies. They cave in and become meek and mild when stood up to and they see that they have to show what they are made of. He ran and he hid. When it came to capture, he meekly surrendered. He gave up without a fight. Maybe he didn't have the strength to fight. He's been on the run for eight months, moving two, three, four times a night. Not enough sleep, poor if any medical care, and probably poor nutrition. The stress of being on the run, grief over his sonsÂseparationseperation from his remaining family would cause his physical and mental health to decline.

The film I saw was that of a beaten man. I don't know if once he gets some sleep, medical care, and nutritious food he will return to the swaggering dictator he once was. I don't think so. Now that he is in custody, I think we will find that most of what we thought we knew of Saddam was a fake. All he had was show. There was nothing of real substance behind him. Yes, he had his minions who carried out his orders. I think that's all there was: the fear of Saddam. Fear was enough to keep the people of Iraq under his thumb. How many of us stay in jobs we don't like because of fear? We're afraid to rock the boat. We're afraid of retaliation. We're afraid of the unknown.

The Iraqi people have little to fear today. But I fear it will take a long time to get over the psychological fear that was instilled in them. Once the celebrations are over, the psychological healing can begin.

The Emperor's New Clothes

I had a vision of Saddam as the lead in the children's story The Emperor's New Clothes. He is the Emperor now without his clothes. Everyone can see what he really is: a sad, pathetic little man. Not little in physical stature, but little in the eyes of the Iraqi people and the eyes of the world. He's a little man without his swagger, his bodyguards, and the fear that clothed him.

I now wonder whether there are any weapons of mass destruction. Maybe what we knew of was all there was. He had twelve years to tell the world that he didn't have any WMD, but he didn't want to. He wanted the world to think he had them so that the world would respect him or fear him. If he had WMD, he would become a power, a power that would have to be respected. He would use this power for his own ends. And if he couldn't have respect, fear would do. The rest of the world would be afraid of Saddam and what he might do with his WMD. After all, if he would gas the Kurds, if he would torture and kill hundreds of thousands of his own people, if he had the guts to annex Kuwait, what would he do next?

I now doubt that there were any. I could still be proven wrong. Maybe someday, maybe soon, maybe later, someone will let out that they know the WMD are in Syria, or buried under tons of sand at such and such a location. I think that the WMD we knew of was all there was.

The only difference between the Emperor in the story and Saddam is that the emperor went into public naked. Saddam was figuratively stripped of his clothes.

And it's not a pretty sight.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Walmart....Friend or Foe?

Walmart offers everyday low prices and a huge variety of goods. Something we all want. I used to shop every week at Walmart, but believe it or not, it became more convenient to shop at another food chain. Convenience is worth something after all. My grocery bill came down because I wasn't buying all the extras that Walmart offers.

I don't really like shopping at Walmart. It's usually crowded and parking is a major headache. But the prices and variety can't be beat.

I try shopping at KMart when possible. It's only a couple of blocks out of my way and it's much easier to find a parking space and sometimes, they carry things I can't find at Walmart (probably because Walmart just hasn't restocked the shelves). KMart is more convenient and generally the prices aren't that much higher.

Neither store offers much in the help department. I can't find anyone to ask questions of, and finding a price on an item can be a real bee-atch!

I've included a link to an article about Walmart and just what the cost of shopping at Walmart can be.

I won't tell you not to shop at Walmart because I more than likely will go back at some time or another myself. But between this article and the eminent domain issue (see previous post), Walmart doesn't have the same appeal for me.

Christmas in Florida

Well, here it is, twelve days before Christmas. One day, I’m going to write The Twelve Days of a Florida Christmas, but not today.

Our high was somewhere around 72 degrees today with a low last night in the mid 40’s. I know, some of you are snowbound or digging out from a snowstorm, or hunkering down before one and want to know what I’m complaining about. I promise, I’m not complaining. I love these temps! We had a high yesterday around 67 degrees and the promise of more of the same in the next few days. I love it! I’ll be looking back on these days with fond memories during the summer doldrums when the daily temperature averages 95 degrees with a feels like of 105 and a humidity factor of somewhere around 85 percent. I have no idea whether a humidity of 85 percent and a temperature of 95 degrees comes anywhere near a feels like temperature of 105. Trust me, any inaccuracies in my figures don’t make that much difference. Although, I admit this last summer was fairly comfortable. We had lots of rain that kept the temperature down in the 80’s for most of the summer. And the humidity (90-100%) didn’t really bother me that much. Now, in other years, by the time the end of August rolled around, I was usually ready for winter. Not just ready, but damn ready! And in August we are usually looking at another two months of summer heat.

I lived in Kansas so I know what summer heat and winter cold are like. Summer in Kansas is about six weeks of hot, dry temps getting up into the 100’s. It’s a dry heat, but still hot. Add that heat to a humidity factor or 70% and more, and you have Florida. Winters are cold and snowy and, if you’re really lucky, icy. I remember scraping snow and ice off my windshield after work one day and saying, “And I left Florida for this!”

I don’t like being cold, but I figure, all things being equal, I can usually put something on to keep warm: a sweater, another sweater, a jacket, a blanket, or a pile of blankets if need be. I can drink something hot to warm me on the inside. When I’m hot, I can’t take enough off to cool off, I can get down to bare skin and that’s it. It’s still hot. Sure, a cool drink helps, but not for long enough. I can get into a pool of water, but if it’s in the sun, the coolest the water is gonna be is tepid. It might be a little cooler in the shade, but not much. I know. I’ve lived in Florida most of my life and I’ve tried it all. The only way to keep cool is to stay in the air-conditioned cool air of a house, workplace, or car. That’s one reason why so many Floridians don’t have tans. We spend a lot of time indoors because of the heat, but you want to know the real reason? We work for a living! Not all of us work on the golf course or as lifeguards.

What’s the downside of a Florida winter, you ask? The Yankees like it too. No, I don’t mean the New York Yankee ball team (they won’t be here until spring training starts in February), although they probably like the spring weather in February and March. I mean the tourists and those who live here three to six months of the year. They have the best of both worlds: the northern seasons of spring, summer, and fall and Florida winters. I don’t begrudge them coming to Florida; after all, they do keep our tax base down by spending money, but yes, indeed, they do have their faults.

I can’t wait until I retire and can vacation up north in the summer. I’ll drive slow in the fast lanes and make right turns from the left lane and left turns from the right lane. I’ll go to the Post Office at lunchtime, and do my shopping between 11 am and 2 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. I’ll make doctor appointments for first thing in the morning, late afternoon, and just before and just after lunch. I’ll go to dinner between 6-8 p.m. And, I’ll be sure to tell everyone just how much better and cheaper we do it (whatever it is) in Florida.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Pearl Harbor Day

December 7, 1941 – a day that shall live in infamy.

I would like to take a moment to remember the men who lost their lives 62 years ago today at Pearl Harbor. Not many people even knew where Pearl Harbor was that day. Over the next few days, Pearl Harbor became known to thousands of parents, wives, brothers and sisters, sweethearts and friends when they received word that their loved one died or was wounded in the attack.

The world changed that fateful day. We now knew where Pearl Harbor was. We were now at war. It was a just war, and a war that we would win. Many more men and women would die or be wounded in battle. Civilians would also die. That’s a fact of war, and it’s a tragedy.

Sixty-two years later we are fighting another battle. Not a declared war, but a war nonetheless. More men and women have lost their lives or were injured. Still more will lose their lives in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. That’s what happens in war. It’s not something that anyone wants to have happen. No one wants to see young men and women die. No one wants to see civilians die. It’s the cost of freedom.

We are free to make decisions. We are free to become successful in our lives and we are free to decide what is successful. We are free to disagree with our leaders. We are free to state out loud and publicly that we disagree. Not all citizens of the world have those freedoms.

Had we not responded sixty-two years ago, who knows where we would be today? We would not be the people, the country, we are today. We would not have responded as we did in Afghanistan or Iraq.

No matter what your feelings are about our reasons for being in Iraq, one thing is clear: we are there. Now, we must finish the battle. If we don’t, then all the men and women who sacrificed their lives since the Revolution will have died in vain.

And that would be a tragedy.

Saturday, December 06, 2003

I've been so busy at work the last few days that I haven't taken the time to even think about what to write here. But, it's all been simmering in the back of my mind, so I'll have some thoughts over the next few days.

UN in Charge of the Internet?

That's right. Apparently there are plans underfoot for the UN to take control of the Internet. I read this on Nealz Nuze over on the website. If you haven't had the opportunity to hear Neal Boortz on the radio, do yourself a favor and visit the Church of the Painful Truth. Neal's a Libertarian with a radio show out of Atlanta that I get here in Tampa Bay. I don't always agree with Neal, but he has made me start to think about things.
Okay, back on point. The UN wants to have care and custody of the Internet. Right now, URLs are assigned and controlled by US companies. Most of the computers serving the Internet are located in the US.

Think about this: UN control of the Internet would allow the UN to tax the use of the Internet to fund UN projects. Content could (and in my opinion probably would) be censored. Anything that has the global reach of the Internet just has to be controlled by the UN. Yeah, sure - sounds like a great idea to me. One argument that is sure to arise is that the US wants to keep third world countries down by not allowing them Internet access. Excuse me? The more people who have access, the more money entrepreneurs can make - whether the small Internet based Mom and Pop store or Walmart.

Isn't that what America is all about? Taking what is available to us, making it available to the world and, possibly making a living doing it. Sounds like someone else wants that money. In the eyes of the people behind this idea the UN should take it from the people who did the work (the US), made it something, and give it to someone else (the UN) to reap the benefits and who will then run it into the ground. And that's not to mention the power behind the Internet. He who controls the Internet controls the world. Who would you rather see control the Internet: the free world allowing international free speech and access or the UN who would tax and censor it? You know that's what would happen. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Here's the link to Nealz Nuze:

You'll see more links in the future to Neal. If the above link doesn't work, please, take the time to type it in and look around his site or go to

Eminent Domain

Another subject that Neal has brought out in the open is that of Eminent Domain. This is the rule of law that allows government to take your property for the use of government.

Eminent Domain used to be used for roads and utilities. But more recently, local governments have used it to take property from a citizen and sell it to a developer so that a mall or higher price housing development can be built. This is usually done because the first owners aren't paying much in property taxes and the city or county finds that the shopping center or housing development will bring in much more in tax revenue.

Neal Boortz reported a couple of months ago that a group of people in Anniston Alabama were faced with Eminent Domain. They were made an offer by the county, they refused, and were served with ED papers to take their homes. Why? A developer wanted to build a shopping center anchored by Walmart in that location. The shopping center would bring in more tax revenue than the homes on that property would.

More tax revenue sounds good. It keeps the taxes down for the rest of us in the city or county. But...someone is losing their property. It doesn't make any difference whether the property is owned by poor blacks or middle class whites. It used to be that people were safe on their own property. We used to have to worry about robbers and home invasions by criminals.

I'm having a hard time figuring out who the criminals are. The ones who come quietly in the night and take things from my house or the ones who come in daylight with writs and notices telling me they are going to take my house and property and give me market value (maybe) it. I may not want to sell, but they will buy it from me or take it under Eminent Domain. Under ED they pay what they want (maybe market value - definitely not what I might have been able to sell for if I wanted to sell) or take it through legal maneuverings. Either way, I lose my property.

Don't the citizens of the United States of America have a say in whether they want to sell their property or not? Don't think this can't happen to you. Those people in Anniston probably thought the same thing. It doesn't matter whether you are rich, poor, middle class, black, white, Hispanic or other ethnicity or class. It doesn't matter if you live in the city, suburbs or country. It Can Happen To You.

Youth At Risk

As I've written before, I work in a high-risk youth facility. We actually have three programs on our complex: a minimum-risk, a moderate-risk, and a high-risk facility. My office is physically located in the high-risk facility but I work for all three. The topic of this post concerns all three but is more germane to the high-risk program.

The Juvenile Justice program is dedicated to preventing youth at risk from committing more crimes by committing them to programs that will educate them and give them counseling so that they can see why they have committed crimes, the consequences of those crimes, and how to make better choices in the future. While in our programs, they are in school for five hours a day, they get medical and psychological counseling, and they get the discipline some of them have never had. When they complete the program they either go to an aftercare program to integrate them back into society or they go home.

My problem is with the boys who go directly home. They go back into the same environment they came from; the very environment that made them criminals. Yes, they had choices, and made bad ones, but these are kids who don't have the maturity levels to say, "No, that's wrong I can't do that."

There is one boy in our facility who came from a family heavily involved in gangs, drugs, and criminal activity. Mom is in prison for dealing drugs. Dad is a hard-core gang member who expects his son to go into the "family business." What chance does this kid have? If he goes home, he will be back into it and the months (18-36) that were invested in his rehabilitation will be down the drain.

Another boy is a ward of the state (DCF - Department of Children and Family Services). Mom and Dad are nowhere around and have had their parental rights taken away. When he turns 18, DCF will say, "You're on your own. Have a good life." And that's it. He has no where to go, no money, no job, no home to go to. Even if he manages to get a job the same day he's released, where is he going to live? And the job? He has a bright future flipping burgers at McDonald's.

I know that we can't save every kid. There are just some kids who are going to continue to commit crimes until they end up in adult prison for life. But we have some kids who want to change. The two boys I wrote of before don't want to go back to their former lives. They see that there is another choice. We're trying to find some options for these two and others like them, but the options are few and far between.

I know Florida isn't the only state this problem exists in. Your state is probably having the same problems. It's up to each of us as citizens and taxpayers to rattle some cages. I've started. I've sent emails to state officials outlining the problem as I see it. Can I challenge you to do the same in your state?

Vocational Programs and Art Fairs

Work seems to be at the top of my mind today. I thought I would share with you some of the things we are doing at our high-risk program.

The State requires that we offer vocational programs. Well, since these kids are high-risk kids, there has been some concern about what tools we can trust them with. Do you want to give a kid in prison for battery or armed robbery with anger management issues access to hammers? You can see our dilemma.

Here are the programs in place now:

Construction: Our Education Manager has found a software program where they can learn construction concepts and techniques. He's still working on how to make it a hands-on program.

Puppy Raiser: I've already discussed the Southeastern Guide dog program. Oh, we've been told we're getting three more puppies in January! Three boys; a blond, a black, and a black and tan. All Labs. Labs seem to do the best in a prison atmosphere of the breeds they have.

To go along with the Puppy Program we are also offering Vet Tech and Small Animal Handler. Both of these programs offer certification through the University of Missouri and Florida State University (I don't remember which is which right now).

Tina is teaching a Small Animal Care class that will go hand-in-hand with the Vet Tech and Small Animal Handler certifications. We (I am her assistant) spend three hours a week teaching this class, and the other two days will be spent on obedience classes for the puppy raisers.

As you might guess, I'm very happy to be associated with this endeavor. Too many committed programs offer nothing for the kids to take home - job skills. With the skills from these classes, they will be able to get real jobs. And with jobs and right choices, they will not re-offend and will stay out of the system to become productive members of society.

Art Fair

Although it's not really a program within the scope of job skills, we also allow the boys to enter art work in the local county fair every year. The 2004 fair will be at the end of January and the boys who were in the fair last year are already getting excited about it.

I spoke to one boy yesterday who wasn't here last year. I nearly did cartwheels when I saw his artwork. This young man has a real future in art. He has a lot of raw talent and could go very far if he had a chance to go to an art school. Trust me, I'll be working on that.

What really did my heart good was as he left the room after speaking to me, he was beaming! The praise I had given him made a difference in him that was on his face. I meant every word I said to him and I think I gave him a glimpse of hope for the future.

Back to the fair. The boys who want to participate will have until January 17 to produce artwork to be entered into the fair. Most will get a ribbon of some sort. I wish we could take them to see their work displayed but that won't/can't happen. At least they will get the ribbons.


It's noon as I write this and it's only 54 degrees! I know, some of you are digging out from the snowstorms. But this is Florida! Actually, I'm enjoying it. We don't get too many opportunities to wear sweatshirts and sweaters. I have some sweaters I've been waiting for a chance to wear.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Native American

I filled out a survey and came to the part where they request demographics. You know, age, sex, education, race, salary and so on. The part that stands my hair on end is the race question.

Almost always, one of the choices is "Native American." Now, I know what is meant. They are referring to the various tribes such as Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, Cree, and Blackfoot among others.

However, I resent the term "Native American" referring to one specific group of people. I was born in this county, The United States of America, on the North American continent. Therefore, I am a native American.

Yes, I understand the difference between the capital N and the lowercase N in the word "native." It's the term as it's applied that I object to.

I resent that this term excludes the millions of native born Americans both past and present. As I have stated before, I am a tenth generation American. There are those whose families have been in this country longer, and those who were born yesterday who are native Americans. Let's not forget the Canadians. They are native Americans, and so are South Americans. We are all native Americans. Why should this term apply to comparably few as opposed to the millions?

I don't know what term to use instead of Native American. What was wrong with Indian? Well, aside from the fact that Columbus thought he was in the West Indies, that is. Another man refusing to ask directions and getting lost?. (No...I won't go down that road - this time :D ) How about the Canadian term First People?

Why do we have to have demographics anyway? It's separating us into "us" and "them." Black, White, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, German. I know, I talked about the "Tossed Salad" in another post and I still think it's a great concept.

Why can't we be American first and then of Irish descent? or Mexican descent? Italian, German, Swedish and so forth. We can be Americans and still contribute to the salad.

Why can't we be Americans?

Someone turned the air conditioning to cold!

It's turned chilly here in Florida. I know that 40 and 50 degree weather at night probably doesn't seem very cool to you, but we Floridians feel the chill! It think it was Friday that the overnight temperature was around 45 degrees. It's good for the orange trees (cold snaps make the oranges sweeter), but chilly for those of us who are no longer used to the cold temperatures of the north.

I noticed a time and temperature sign on the way home from work this evening. At 5 pm the temperature was 69 degrees. Okay.....I know that's not cold to you, but it's chilly to us.

I'm about as close to a native Floridian as you'll find. I've lived here all but seven years of my life and three of those were as an adult. While I will never say that I will not live in snow country again, I will say I doubt that will happen. I like ice in my soda and snow on TV shows and movies. I didn't really mind the snow, ice, and cold when I lived in Kansas; it was supposed to be cold in the winter. The snow and ice were part of the package. But, this is Florida, dad-gummit!

I do like to open the house when it's cool and breezy. The air is so nice and clean and makes the house smell nice too. I think the perfect climate would be 50's at night and a breezy 70's during the day. I'll even allow it to drop occassionally into the 40's for the oranges and strawberries, and into the lower 80's around the 4th of July.

Sounds like a piece of heaven to me!

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Tossed Salad

I had to take some online training for my job, and because I am the world's greatest procrastinator, I had to do it today. One part of the training was devoted to Cultural Diversity. Now, I have stated that I don't go out of my way to insult, denigrate, humiliate, embarrass, or in any other way challenge people because of their race, creed, ethnicity, religious or sexual preference, abilities or disabilities, or even general stupidity (although there are times the gloves come off when someone is abusing the privilege of being stupid). I call this being socialized.

We used to live in a Melting Pot society. That, as you probably know, is when people from other countries immigrate to the US and assimilate into the American society. In days gone by, it was the desire of immigrants to become Americans and leave the old world behind. When entering the "melting pot" they became what they believed native born Americans were and left the traditions and customs of their heritage behind.

The new term, "Tossed Salad" has replaced "Melting Pot." Now immigrants bring their traditions and cultures with them. Those already here embrace and celebrate their heritage.

Look at a tossed salad: you started with the basic lettuce and have added all the ingredients with their flavors and textures. You might not miss one or another, but each ingredient brings a richness and fullness to the salad. Think of a melting pot as a fondue pot. Everything is melted together and you taste mainly one ingredient - cheese, chocolate, or whatever. As good as the fondue might be, it doesn't have the same effect as the salad does.

A lettuce salad is a dish that is fine as it is, but when you start adding all the flavors, colors, and textures of the carrots, apples, walnuts, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peppers (red, yellow, and green), onions (chopped, diced, sliced), croutons (garlic or plain), ham, chicken, turkey, shredded or chunk cheese (think of all the choices), or anything else you can think of, not to mention, dressing, you have a salad! So much better than plain lettuce (unless that's what you want, then plain is fine too).

I like living in a world where I can have the variety of Greek, Mexican, Italian, and Chinese foods (among so many others). I couldn't have that if someone from those countries hadn't brought their recipes with them. I don't want international cuisine everyday, but isn't the choice nice to have?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to eat hamburgers and fries every day.


Now that I've come out in favor of a Tossed Salad society, I have to talk about immigration.

Immigrants are one of the things that made America great. We all descend from immigrants. Even the Indian tribes came across the land bridge from Russia into Alaska or migrated on boats to North America. I, myself, am a tenth generation American. My ancestors migrated here from Europe before the Revolutionary War. I didn't have a choice in coming here, but there are millions of people who did.

They come here because life in their country stinks or they want a better life for themselves or their families. I admire anyone who thinks they can become something more in America than they can in their home country. I can't tell you how proud I am that they chose my country as their Land of Opportunity. Anyone who wants to make a life for themselves can do it; they can become the CEO of a major corporation; become a doctor, lawyer, or teacher; own a Mom and Pop corner grocery store; or they can work for someone else and make a good living. They can even become a government employee like me.

But, (here's the kicker) I want all immigrants to be legal and properly documented. There are entirely too many illegal immigrants living in this country who are being supported in one way or another by your (and my) tax dollars. Note the difference: I referred to immigrants as both legal and illegal. I have no problem with legal immigrants. God Bless them.

Now, you're going to say that many illegals are decent, honest people earning livings and supporting themselves and their families. You're right, most are and do. So, if they are such decent, honest and productive members of society why aren't they here legally?

Too many times they come here and because they aren't documented they can't get jobs and then end up on some kind of welfare. They illegally cross the border and then want to get driver's licenses and identification so they can vote! Let them come legally, and I'll be the first to say, "Welcome! Here's the address of the Driver's License and employment offices. And when you become a citizen, I drive you to the Elections Office so you can become a registered voter." Well, I might not go that far, but then I'm not ranting about legal immigrants, am I?

Don't tell me illegal immigrants pay taxes - they do not pay income tax because they don't have jobs. And the ones who have jobs are usually day labor, are paid in cash, and do not pay income taxes. Yes, they do pay taxes on goods they buy, but so do you, and I, and so do legal immigrants.

Some illegals actually have real jobs because some employers don't ask too many questions about their legal status. Those employers want cheap labor. The illegal immigrant knows this and still takes the job because it's better than what they had. They might even manage to get a Social Security card and pay income taxes. But guess what? If they didn't come here legally, they are still not legal! Social Security card or not!

Where in the Constitution of the United States does it say that tax money should be spent to support illegal immigrants or that they should be given identification to get welfare, driver's licenses, and be able to vote? Where does it say that anyone can come to this country illegally but getting a job and paying taxes makes it all better?

My rant is about those who for whatever reason are here illegally and want the same rights and privileges of legal immigrants and citizens. If they want the same rights and privileges, they have to accept the same responsibilities of those who are here legally. Those of us living in America are subject to the laws of America and society. Being here illegally, however noble the reasons and honest the life, is still against the law.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Thanksgiving in Baghdad

I know that very few, if any, our of service men and women serving in the military in Baghdad (or anywhere else) will see this, but I still want to offer my thanks for the thankless job they are doing.

Most of them are civilian soldiers - men and women who have full time jobs and serve their country weekends and a couple of weeks during the year. Most of them are doing it for the extra money. Some are doing it just to serve their country. Few, especially those signing up before September 11, expected to have to actually serve in combat conditions.

Whatever their reasons, Thank you and God Bless.

Presidential Trip

I'm so pleased that our president was able to make the trip to Baghdad in absolute secrecy. It proves that even in Washington secrets can be kept. What a concept!

I read a couple of stories about the trip. Some are upset that he put his life in danger for a publicity stunt and that he's just using the trip to get votes. Well, geez louise! Isn't that what a politician does? Takes every opportunity to try to garner a few votes?

You know, I don't really care why he made the trip. I want to believe that he did it for the same reason I believe he made the trip to the Abraham Lincoln last May - to thank the people who are doing the job of protecting our country. They get little enough thanks for what they do.

Can you imagine the morale boost to the troops to see the president walk into the same room you are about to eat Thanksgiving Dinner in? And then, to have him serve you your meal? Even if it was only a roll, it would have been a lifetime's experience.

He was risking his life to be there, just as the troops were risking theirs being there.

I may sound as if I'm GWB's biggest groupie. No, I'm not, but he's a sight better than what we had, and, as far as I'm concerned, what we might have had. I don't agree with everything he's done, but at least he did something after September 11 instead of talking about it. And then still doing nothing.
Desk Top Shopping

It's the day after Thanksgiving and there is NO way I am leaving the house today...well, if the house catches fire or I am offered a substantial amount of money to leave - and it will have to be substantial! I don't like shopping well enough to brave even the great deals offered today. I plan to do my shopping online. I'll still get great deals and will have the items delivered to my house or work (I'm lucky, I can do that within reason) and I don't have to be in the crazy mobs of deal-hungry morons that are out there.

People just get stupid on this particular shopping day. Fights broke out in lines at stores here last year. One of these days, someone is going to be killed because they cut in front of someone else in line. It's gonna happen...
it's just a matter of time.

I've put a new link just below the "email me" link in the sidebar on the right - Desk Top Shopping. Check it out for all your holiday shopping. It's just getting started, so there are more links to come. Have fun!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Masters and Slaves

I don't have much patience for stupid and about the same amount of patience for being Politically Correct. I don't deliberately offend, but at the same time, I don't go out of my way to be PC, either.

I was reading this article (see link below) about Masters and Slaves. Now, those of you who are really into computers understand that this refers to primary and secondary hard disk drives.

If we're going to be sensitive about the word "master" why is one of the newest movies out "Master and Commander"? And how about people who have the last name of "Masters"? Should they change their names? And what about Master Sergeants, and master carpenters? I have forms in my office I call master copies - originals that are used to make copies (and who is it that uses the master instead of making more copies!?), should I start calling them somthing else?

My point is, can't we be more sensitive about other things? Such as absurdly high gasoline prices, getting people off the welfare roles and into paying jobs, tax reform, making people understand that it's not guns that kill people, it's the people pulling the trigger, and a whole host of other things.

Dale and I had Thanksgiving dinner with our friends Tina and Tony. Normally, we have dinner with my brother and his wife, but they went to Key West to be with her mother. We were at loose ends and Tina invited us. We had a wonderful time and thanks again, T&T!

Thanksgiving is a time of just thanks. I give my thanks to God who gave me my husband, my brother and his wife and their kids, my in-laws, all my friends, my job and everything else in my life. I know there are people who don't believe in God, and I respect that. But, I feel sorry for them, because they have nothing greater than themselves to believe in.

If life, what I'm living now, is all there is, it's going to be a huge disappointment to me. I've been told all my life that in the afterlife I will be with my Lord and I will see my parents and grandparents and all those who went before me. My faith tells me this is true. Do I have any proof of the afterlife? No, but that's what faith is - believing in something without proof.

I have never been to Africa, but I believe it exists. Yes, I've seen photographs of Africa, I've seen film taken from space shuttles showing the continent of Africa, and I've seen movies filmed in Africa. Is this really, truly, honestly proof that Africa exists? No. Until I see Africa with my own two eyes, I have to believe, I have to have faith, that it exists.

No matter why you consider this a special day, I hope it was a wonderful day for you, spent with people you love and care for around you.

I did.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Boys and Their Dogs

The juvenile facility I work in is a high-risk juvenile male facility. The crimes these boys committed range from drug dealing to car jacking to murder. As a high-risk facility, the boys are not allowed to leave the facility unless they are going to court or a doctor's appointment. We're required by standards to have some sort of vocational program to give the boys some skills, along with an education, that will give them a chance to succeed when they are released.

Can you imagine how difficult it is to find a vocational program that has no tools that can be used as weapons, but will give the boys the required skills AND keep them in the facility? Well, we found one we have high hopes for.

Tina suggested raising puppies for the South Eastern Guide Dogs. Our facility is the first juvenile facility to train puppy raisers. As you might guess, these dogs will become guide dogs for the blind. Some will not be suitable as guide dogs, but will be in the breeder program. We will have the dogs for approximately 18 months then they will go for more training.

We have two four month old black male Labador Retrievers in the program and will have twelve dogs eventually. Several adult prisons have a guide dog program, but we are the first juvenile facility to attempt this. We've had a few burps in the program, but we are learning as much as the puppies are.

The difference in the boys has been remarkable. One of the boys has some anger problems. Since being assigned a puppy, he has been smiling and interacting more with the staff and other boys. He wanted to be in the program, and then requested not to be assigned a dog because he wasn't sure he could handle it. Later, because a handler was out to court, he was given that boy's puppy to take care of. He asked to speak to Tina and told her that he was afraid that he was becoming attached to the puppy. Tina told him that was good, that was what we wanted to hear. Since the handler was still out to court, a change was made, and this boy was given responsibility for the puppy (the other boy who was the handler will be giving one of the next puppies coming in).

It's amazing what a puppy can do for a boy who has most likely never had anything or anyone who has loved him unconditionally. Most of these boys come from homes where one or both parents are in jail, some using drugs; one or both parents are absent parents (usually Dad - if Mom even knows who Dad is), or the boy was raised by someone other than a parent. I'm not a liberal (anymore) by any means, but it can be heartbreaking when you hear their stories. It's no wonder these boys are in trouble; it's all they've ever known. When you first see the boys, they are in uniform and are looking fit and clean cut - the All American Boy. Then you find out what the boys did to get into this facility and you feel amazement that this sweet, innocent, angelic looking child could have committed such a crime. As I said, we have murderers in our facility. Not so sweet, and not so innocent, but still boys.

That being said, we still have high hopes for the boys selected to be dog raisers. In the adult prisons, not one dog raiser has re-offended after being released. We hope our facility will have the same results.

I'm going to include a link to the SEGI so you can see what they offer. They love to receive donations and this is a very worthy cause if you are so inclined.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Davy Crockett vs Welfare

Before I start let me state that I am not against helping people get on their feet. I want to give people a hand up, not a hand out.

I was reading on a story about Davy Crockett that gave me pause for thought. It's really too long to retell here, but I've included the link so that you can read it.

(You might have to type the URLs in for both links- I tried to see if the links worked and got a "page cannot be displayed" message. Since I copied and pasted the URL from the website, I know it's not my typo. Please take the time to read it. It's very interesting and enlightening)

The laws of this country are based in the Constitution. If a law is unconstitutional, meaning it is not allowed under the Constitution, then it has to be struck down. Example: the Income Tax was not Constitutional until an amendment was added to the Constitution (see more in previous post or click on the Fair Tax Act link on the sidebar).

I admit I haven't studied the Constitution since school - and that was a long time ago. It's now saved on my computer so that I can look at it anytime I need to. You can be assured that I will be doing a lot of studying over the Thanksgiving holiday. Can I challenge you to do the same?

We all need to be more informed so that we can tell our legislators what we want them to do. It's all well and good to say, I don't want this law to be passed 'cause I don't like it. It's better to be able to say, I don't want that law passed because it's not Constitutional. You would be surprised to find out how many of our Senators and Representatives don't know the Constitution and even more surprised to find out how many don't read the bills put before them. They often vote for a bill because they want the sponsor of the bill to vote for one of their bills (If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours). Talk about being ignorant of the law! And you and I are just as guilty if we are uninformed.

Another site to check out is Citizens Against Government Waste.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I don't intend to comment on Michael Jackson's current legal problems right now. I have an opinion, and I will express it at some time or another, but now I want to comment on the title above.

Everyone has heard the expression "Innocent Until Proven Guilty" but it seems that very few people really understand where or how it applies.

When a person has been charged with a crime they are IUPG (innocent until proven guity) in the courtroom. There is no law that requires that everyone in the world outside the courtroom to regard the defendant as innocent. When judges and jurors enter a courtroom they are required to put their personal opinions aside and judge only on the merits of the case. If a person is unable to do so, they should not serve either on a jury or as a judge.

In the court of public opinion, everyone is entitled to their opinion as to whether the person is innocent or not. Outside the courtroom, opinions are fair game.

Think of it this way, if everyone was legally required to follow the IUPG concept, then the Constitutional right of free speech would be worthless. I would not be able to express my opinion that I believe (enter any name) is guilty because he or she has not yet been proven guilty of the crime they were charged with.

So, IUPG applies only in the courtroom and especially to judges and jurors.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Opinions and Consequences

I just read an article that said Leonardo DiCaprio is a global warming activist.

I'm torn on the issue of celebrities using their fame for causes. On one hand, they have the celebrity to bring an issue out to the forefront. People will listen to them instead of a "nobody" they've never heard of. They never gave it a thought until Leo made his statement, then they say, "Well, gosh! If Leo is against global warming, I should be too!"

In my humble opinion, I think people who think this way are sheep. They can't think for themselves. They just wander through life until someone (usually a celebrity): a. Tells them what to think. or b. Tells them it's an issue, then tells them what to think.

I have to admit, I've been guilty of not thinking about things until they are brought to my attention. I hope though, that I've been smart enough to come to my own conclusions.

On the other hand: why do celebrities think that they are smarter than everyone else? Many Hollywood celebrities have come out against the war on terrorism. Before we go any further let me be clear: they have the right to have an opinion and they have the right to express that opinion. It's called Freedom of Speech and it's a Constitutional right.

So many of them forget that although they have the right to free speech, that the public also has that right. Celebrities are upset when the public reacts to their statements. Celebrity A has the right to say anything they want to say. I have the right to say they are wrong. This is called disagreement. I also have the right show my disagreement and to not buy their books, CD's, tickets to their movies, stop watching their television shows, and so on.

Celebrities forget, or at least seem to forget, that it is the public who buys their product, whether it's a book, movie, TV show, CD, or whatever. If a celebrity disappoints or angers me when they make a public statement, I have only two ways of showing that disappointment or anger: writing a letter or not buying what they produce to make a living.

If I say something that my boss doesn't like, he (or she) has the right to do something about it. I might be "counseled," written up, suspended, or fired.

This example can be taken to this extreme: I am the celebrity's boss. If they say something I don't like, I can write a letter (counseling/writing up), boycott their product (suspension), or refuse to buy the product (firing).

Of course, I can choose to not do anything. The result of doing nothing is that the celebrity assumes that I either agree, don't care, or am too lazy to call them on it. I don't bother to write letters to celebrities. I doubt they see it, and even if they do, unless there are a lot of other people writing about the same thing, they think I'm a moron because I don't agree with them. And since I'm a "nobody" (at least in their eyes since they've never heard of me), they don't care what I think. So, I use the suspension/firing method. Stop my paycheck and you catch my attention. I might not change my opinion, but I'll keep it to myself or accept the consequences for stating it.

Should celebrities be able to express their opinions? Of course! But opinions should always be stated appropriately, it has to be understood that not everyone will agree, and that action (publicly stating an opinion) could have repercussions one has to be willing to accept.
Remembering November 22, 1963

I can't believe that it's been 40 years since JFK was assassinated. It's one of those times when you can remember exactly where you were when you heard the news.

I was in the 4th grade and was leaving school when one of the older boys (who apparently had a transistor radio) shouted out, "The president's been shot!" Well, even at nine years of age I didn't believe everything I heard and couldn't (wouldn't?) believe that such a thing could happen. I got home and started to tell my Dad what I heard when I saw the news on TV.

The next few days are blurred. The next thing I clearly remember is when Oswald was shot by Jack Ruby. My friend Kathy and I were in my room playing when my Mom yelled "Debbie! Kathy! Come here! Come here! He's been shot!" We looked at each other then ran out into the living room. Of course by that time all the action was over and all we saw at that point would have been people moving around, and Oswald being taken by stretcher to the hospital. Then, the endless speculation about what had happened, questioning of people on the scene to find out what happened, and endless retelling of what had happened.

At nine if it didn't immediately impact my life, it didn't really matter much. I don't remember much about those days. I don't remember seeing my parents terribly upset. They were as horrified as the rest of the nation, but they wouldn't have let me see that. They would have kept my world as "normal" as possible. The other things I remember from that time (the funeral, Jackie in her black veil) are things I saw then, but probably really remember because they were repeated so many times over the years.

I don't know who actually fired the bullet that killed JFK - I wonder if we will ever know. Aside from the justice angle, does it really matter now, after all these years? JFK was cut down in his prime before he could do all the things I'm sure he had planned, not just for America, but personally. Sure, he did, and could have done, many things to impact American life and they are important. I have to wonder how much different America would be - what would life be like had JFK served out his first term and been elected to a second? Where would we be as a nation today?

But also remember what he didn't do: he didn't get to grow old. He didn't get to see his kids grow up. He never saw his grandkids. Aren't these the things that are really important in life? And this is the real tragedy of that day.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Blogging and your Job -

I just read an article posted here at Blogger about how to blog without losing your job (something to that effect anyway). I don't have time at work to blog, I'm just too busy! Some government employees do actually work, you know :D

But, for discretion's sake, I don't intend to actually name where I work and if I do use a name in a story that might not be too complimentary, I'll use a pseudonym (change the name to protect the innocent - in this case my paycheck).

This is a public forum and any of my bosses could be reading this at any time (Boss, I swear I'm doing this on my own time-check the time and date stamp!). While there are times I can't wait for retirement, I do enjoy payday and I don't plan on losing my job because I was indiscreet.

Freedom of speech is one thing, but my bosses also have the right to disagree with me. It's just stupid to lose a job over an online journal such as this.
Most Extreme Elimination Challenge

I'm watching one of my favorite programs: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (Spike TV). Okay, it's not Masterpiece Theater, but I enjoy it.

In case you don't know, some years ago (and for all I know currently playing) Japanese television had a program called Takeshi's Castle where contestants performed stunts for prizes. On the American version, they've taken excepts from Takeski's Castle and dubbed in English dialog. The show's narrators are Kenny Blankenship and Vic Romano who do a play-by-play description of what is happening on screen. Other characters are Captain Tennille (a play on the Captain and Tennille) and Guy le Douche (I don't think I have to explain this one). They are not using the original dialog, but substituting their own version. Puns and double entendres abound (it is Spike TV after all) and punny names and occupations for the contestants such as Bonnie Ann Clyde are rife. It's not meant to be serious, but is a funny show.

It was filmed in Japan, so the contestants are mostly Japanese, but I've seen several Western faces. The contestants also wear funny costumes too, such as peanuts, samurai warriors, pig noses, fright wigs, and more I can't name right now.

Okay, I'm easily entertained, but I am a government employee, after all!
Curves - Part 2

So, Tina and I went to Curves again today at lunchtime. There are a total of eight machines in the location we go to. You spend a total of 30 seconds (!) on each machine before the recorded voice tells you to go to the next station.

Thirty seconds doesn't seem very long. But if you watch the second hand on a clock, it is an appreciable length of time. The staff assured us that studies have shown that this workout is every bit as good (if not better) than what you would get at a traditional gym. I'll give it a try. I'll stay with it for a couple of months and see what happens. Like I said before, I don't need to lose tons of weight fast, but I do need to see results...weight loss, inches lost, or just as simple as my clothes fitting better.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


My friend Tina and I signed up at Curves last week and had our first workout today. Both of us need to lose weight and tone up. So, we took the plunge and did it.

In case you don't know, Curves is a, I hesitate to say gym, because it's not really. It's for women only (yayay!) and has tinted windows so that passersby can't see in (another plus). There are six (I think-I was too busy learning how to use the machines-and they were easy to use) machines you work on for a set time length... just a couple of minutes at a time (really, just a couple of minutes!). By the time you start to feel it, you hear a recorded voice say that it's time to change stations (or something to that effect). Between machines there is a platform you run, jog, walk, whatever, in place until you hear the recording say to change places, then you go to the next machine. At the end you do a series of stretches.

You go around the circuit three times. They call it a 90 minute workout in 30 minutes. All muscle groups are worked, so you're getting a full body and cardio workout. There is also a time when you have to take your pulse rate and see where it is on the chart. Hopefully, you're at the fat burning stage. If not, you need to work a little harder.

When we signed up last we, we were weighed, measured, body fat figured, and a medical history requested. We were asked what exercising we were doing (huh? None, that's why I'm in the shape I'm in!) and if we were on a diet program of any sort (I repeat "huh?")

Actually, they don't want you doing a diet program because you will be able to see what results are directly attributable to Curves. However, if you want to diet or are dieting, that's alright. They do recommend that you eat breakfast, a lighter lunch, and a light dinner. Gee....where have I heard that before?

Tina and I are going at lunch time. So, with the drive there, we're gone a little more than an hour. Our boss is really flexible with time. As long as we do our jobs, and get our time in, he's okay with us changing our hours as necessary.

Let me tell you, Tina had so much energy this afternoon, she was almost bouncing off the walls! Me, well, I didn't see a lot of difference in how I felt, but I wasn't wiped out. I think I might be a little sore tomorrow, but, geez Louise! it's been ages since I've worked out like this! I'm hoping that the energy will kick in soon and I also start seeing results in a couple of weeks. Not big, huge changes, little ones - a little off the waist, a few pounds off the weight, I'll be content to keep going. It's taken many years to put on the weight and as long as I see results, I'll be content with taking time to get it off again. I just need to see a little less of myself!

Anyway, we're dragging each other three times a week. I'll let you know how we do.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Shopping - The Day After Thanksgiving Sales

At work today, there were four of us taking a break and talking about shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Two of us (Sue and I) just refuse to go out unless it's absolutely necessary on that Friday. Tina and Nicki love shopping the bargains that day. More power to them, but I won't be out there.

Would I like to get the bargains? Sure I would. But, I don't like shopping well enough, not to mention hating crowds more than words to describe, than to even consider it. I plan to do at least some of my shopping online. The links you see on the right-hand side bar will be getting some of my holiday money. I can shop at home, I have a wide selection of products, the retailers will offer reduced or no shipping and I can have the items delivered to my home or work. It's the best of both worlds as far as I'm concerned.

Those of you who do, God Bless you.
Oliver Met Dollie

It's the start of another week. Way too much to do and not nearly enough time in the day to do it! Just gotta do what can be done.

My life seems to revolve around work (ack! there's that "w" word again - the very worst of four-letter words) and the computer - with the TV thrown in occasionally. Dollie and Oliver would agree that I don't pay them enough attention. Especially when it comes to feeding and cleaning the litter box. Speaking of which....

Okay. That's taken care of. I remember saying that I would tell you about the first time Dollie and Oliver met. I had gotten Dollie as a kitten. I had another cat at the time, Shadow. Shadow lived about another year (died at age 18) and then it was just me and Dollie for about a year. Dale moved in with us in May and in July, we were offered another cat - Oliver. Oliver had been neutered and declawed; Dollie was neither. I had been worried about Dollie getting out of the house and finding herself with a litter to take care of, so I decided that it was time to take care of that problem. And, since Oliver had no front claws, I thought it unfair for Dollie to have hers. So, Miss Dollie went to the vet and Oliver came home.

The vet said that Dollie should be kept from any other pets when she came home, so she and Oliver were kept in separate rooms. When one come out, the other was locked up. Finally came the day that they met. We put them in separate carriers face to face. Not a pretty sight. Hissing and spitting! Then, we decided to try them on harness and leash. What made us think that would be better than having them caged, I have no idea! Talk about a cat fight! It was a blur of colors and fur. Dale tried to separate them and got a nasty bite from it. Eventually they declared a truce and for the most part get along. Every once in awhile, Mr. Oliver decides that he has to prove he's the alpha cat and tries to stare down Miss Dollie. She just stares back. Oliver either backs down, or they bat paws a few times then Oliver walks away. Feeling victorius, I'm sure, from the swagger. Dollie watches him walk away as if to say, "oh, please."

To this very day, Oliver thinks he was the first cat in the house and Dollie knows she was. It was funny, neither seemed to realize another cat was in the house. At least they never sniffed around doors, never sniffed at anything for that matter.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Work, Sidebars, and Life

Here it is: Sunday already. Dishes are done, laundry is done and put away (except for the last load in the dryer). I guess I'm ready for work tomorrow. Boy, I never thought I'd be looking forward to retirement. I'm tired of working!! 45 months till I can enter the DROP program and then another 60 months and I'm gone! Or, at least that's the plan right now. Notice how I work in months? I could have said 5 years instead of 60 months, but years seem a lot longer than months, even though it's the same length of time. Months I can do..years, well, that's hard to even think about!

I've got to say, I really don't mind going to work..if it weren't for getting up and actually leaving the house. I know I need the structure of a job. I don't think I could telecommute and actually do my job.

I spent a lot of yesterday working on the links you see in the sidebar on the right. More will be added, so I hope you keep coming back to see what's new. Let me know if there are special links you would like to see. Doesn't have to be stores, but if you see a store you want to use, please! link from here. I'll get a commission on any purchase you make! Not that I'm begging, but, hey, if it works! ;D Anyway, if you have a link you would like to see here, stores, favorite webpage, whatever, let me know. If it's something I think would be of general interest, I'll see if I can do it.

I'll be adding links to my favorite websites as soon as I get permission to do so. I'm still figuring out the ins and outs about what's okay and not okay, so bear with me.

The weather here is is really nice today. Somewhat overcast, but the temps are in the 70's. After eight or ten months of summer, I'm ready for some cool weather. I have to admit that the summer wasn't as bad as it normally is. We had a lot of rain and that helped to keep the temps down, so while we had some hot days, overall it wasn't too bad for Florida.

Friday, November 14, 2003

About Me

I said that I would tell you something about myself. So here it is.

I live in west central Florida and work as a secretary in a juvenile facility. I won't identify any of the kids (it's against state law and my own ethics) but I might tell the occasional story - without any identification, of course. I don't pretend to be an expert on juvenile behavior, but I've developed some opinions and some theories.

I'm married to Dale. We have no children, but we do have two furry felines that we call our kids. Dale is diabetic and disabled due to several amputations and poor circulation.

Our "kids" are Dollie and Oliver. Dollie is part Maine coon cat and part spawn of Satan. When she was a kitten, she was known as the Kitten from Hell. I'm not quite sure what Oliver is (aside from being a cat, of course). He's a short-haired gray with white socks. Oliver tries to be the alpha cat by intimidating Dollie, but she only lets him get away with it for so long. Then, he turns tail and runs. He's such a wuss. I'll tell you about how they met another time.

My age? I've said I was on the design team for dirt. I might not really be that old, but I can remember when TV was black and white and you could get only 3 channels. I remember when Kennedy (both of them) was assassinated. And I remember seeing Polaris missiles traveling by train south of Miami during the Cuban Missile crisis.

I prefer country music but I also like Big Band and some classical music. I like comedy in my movies but if I come out feeling good, it doesn't have to be a comedy. I started out fairly liberal, but I grew up, got a job, and found out what it's like in the real world. I'm still figuring out where I stand on some things and I might change my mind more than once before I finally have it figured out. I have some liberal tendencies, but am becoming more and more conservative as I get older. I am a registered Independent only because I have to register with a party affiliation. I'm leaning toward Libertarian, but not quite yet.

I hate credit cards and how easy it is to get them. I hate that we live in a credit-loving society that encourages getting into debt. Been there...paying for it now. As passionate as some people are about gun control and abortion I am about credit cards.

I am Yankee by birth, but Southern by heritage, geographical preference, and choice.

I think that's enough for now. Got to save something for later!

Thursday, November 13, 2003


I seem to sort of have a clue as to what I'm doing here, so I'll share some thoughts on one of my favorite subjects: The Fair Tax Act.

This is a rather controversial issue with people wanting a flat tax, some wanting a consumption tax, and others wanting no taxes at all.

I think we can all agree that we pay too much in taxes! I've done some study on the matter and have decided that the Fair Tax Act is the way to go. It was introduced into the Senate by Senator John Linder of Georgia.

As I understand it, the FTA would eliminate the IRS, remove all payroll taxes (this will not eliminate health care, life insurance and the like that you purchase through payroll deductions) and return that money to you, the employee, the taxpayer.

Taxes will only be paid by the end user and only once. Meaning that if you make (for example) ball point stick pens, you will not pay taxes on what you purchase to make the pen. You will collect a tax when you sell the pen. If the purchaser resells the pen, there is no tax because it is a used product. Another example would be cars. The manufacturer will not pay taxes for the components to make the car, but will collect a tax when the car is sold. When the car is later sold as "used" there will be no tax.

Now, to take the car analogy a little further, a person who can afford to buy a (new) high dollar vehicle will pay tax on it, but you, who can only afford a used car, will pay no tax. This is a consumer tax where you pay taxes (or not) on what you can afford or what you choose to buy. Will people still buy new vehicles? Of course they will. If for no other reason than to show that they can afford to pay the taxes on this luxury vehicle. Me, I'll buy the used vehicle. Cheaper to begin with and no taxes!

You may not know, but because of taxes you are already paying about 23% in hidden taxes before the sales tax you pay is even added in! This is because (in our earlier example) the ball point pen manufacturer has to pay for the taxes that were charged for each part of the ball point pen. And each seller of the pen component had to pay taxes when they purchased their supplies to make their component of the pen.

Now for what sounds like the bad news: under the Fair Tax Act, when you buy that new car, you will pay about 23% in taxes. But remember....that's only if you buy new. Used items will not have a tax.

There is some good news however. All current programs that are funded by taxes will still be funded. Don't worry that Medicare and Social Security will go away. They won't. There will be plenty of money collected in taxes (on new items) to pay for these programs.

Some bad news and good news: items that were not previously taxed (such as food) will be taxed. Before you start wondering why I would support such a thing, read on. Because there would be more money coming in, the government would send every taxpayer a rebate check every month to cover the basic necessities of life. It's broken down in a chart on the FTA website showing just how much each family or single taxpayer would get every month.

You will not have payroll taxes taken from your paycheck, pay taxes only on what you choose to buy (such as luxury items), and get a rebate check every month. How much better can it get?

If you aren't convinced yet, or have questions, go to and check it out for yourself. That's the best thing to do anyway. Check it out and either convince yourself that FTA is the way to go, or that it's the most ridiculous thing you ever heard of.

To email me:
This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. My first blog!

I must insert a qualifier before I go any further. What I write on these pages is my opinion. I am entitled to my opinion as are you. However, this is my blog and I reserve the right to say what I think at any point in time. If you don't agree, get your own blog! I respect your right to have an opinion, I just don't have to agree with it, nor do you have to agree with mine. All I ask is that you be courteous and polite when you email me to tell me what an idiot you think I am. I respond much better to courtesy than I do offensive behavior or language. If I offend you, and you feel that you have to use offensive language, I would prefer that you just take your business elsewhere. After all, you aren't paying for this, you are here at my invitation.

I am big on courtesy. I don't think there is enough of it in the world. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that anyone should just roll over and do what someone else wants (unless you want to). What I do think is that more "please" and "thank you" would not be a bad thing in this world. And less of "what's in it for me?" would also be good.

Today is sort of to set my boundaries. My opinions may change from day to day or even moment to moment. After all, I am a woman and I reserve the right to change my mind! My opinions are subject to change because I may receive more information that causes me to revise my prior thought process on the subject.

On the other hand, I can be stubborn and may not be willing to change my mind regardless of the information I get.

And although I am not blonde and not a senior citizen, I was born blonde and am not a teenager. I am subject to moments of having either or both "blonde moments" or "senior moments." You choose the description you prefer.

And if you are offended by my blonde and senior comments, get over it! I don't deliberately offend, but I am not PC by any means either.

In the future, I'll tell you something about myself, my family, friends, and probably more than you ever wanted to know about me and my world.

That said, I hope that we can be friends and have a mutually pleasant and entertaining exchange of opinions, thoughts, and musings.