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.