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  • And now for something completely different

    I'm losing sleep again, and have had something of a 'downer' weekend.

    • had to cancel a mini-vacation because the money was needed elsewhere
    • worked my ass off in the garden only to find my ass is still right where I left it
    • cleaned up my living room only to have that fixed for me by The Mess Brigade
    • Memorial Day... 'nuff said.
    So I decided we all needed a bit of cheering up, so here's one I prepared earlier, saving it for a rainy day (or mood):

    Original title: Lift! I need lift!

    Saw this on a Caturday thread on Fark. Wanted to share with you. Hope you laughed as much as I did. If not, get a sense of humor.

    It's a homemade pet carrier!

    The rest of this guy's blog is just damn funny, and informative as well. I don't know this guy, but I thought you should experience his blog. Reminds me of a program I saw on PBS once, "The Red Green Show." These two guys were members of a hunting lodge, and their slogan was "Duct tape: the handyman's secret weapon!"

    Memorial Day; Yorktown, Virginia

    Today I visited the Civil War federal cemetery in Yorktown, Virginia. There are soldiers from both sides, white and black, buried there. I had been there before; it's just up the road a bit, off the beaten path and quite serene. I returned at the behest of my fellow OS&RR peeps who were interested in learning whether the parks department allowed flags on the grave sites of CSA soldiers, as well as Union soldiers. The answer, to a small degree, is yes.

    *Clicky picture for embiggened view*

    As you can see, it's not that big for having over 2100 buried there. Only about 750 are identified. The stones contain the plot number for the stone, and any known information about the interred. Far too many of those buried, over 1400, are unknown. Many of the unknown are buried together. This particular cemetery also did not "segregate:" Blacks, Whites, Union, Confederate, are all buried together inside the walls of this somber site, although there are only 10 CSA soldiers here.

    There is a second cemetery for only CSA soldiers at a "nearby" location which is not on any map to which I have access.


    I took the kids with me on this trip for a history lesson. It was very hard for me. Our lesson ended early; I could not carry on. All I could do is allow my heart to cry for these men. I cannot be prevented from hoping for peace during this strange era of aggression and fear, nor can I keep myself from feeling a sense of loss as I look across the rows of flags and stones.

    Will my soldier's mission end like this?


    Yorktown is the scene of a few military "firsts":
    • first land mines (planted by CSA)
    • first aerial reconnaissance (conducted by Union)
    Yorktown was also the scene of the last siege during the Revolution, and the first siege of the Civil War. Initially, the Union attempted to keep their war dead buried in a uniform fashion with as many details as possible carved into wooden headboards. As the war progressed, soldiers from around the peninsula were sent to be interred there. After a fast-and-furious skirmish, many were buried where they lay with nothing more than a large stick to mark the location.

    About a year after the war was over, the war department decided to exhume the war dead and give them proper burials in a federally-funded cemetery. Not all could be identified. In some cases, several soldiers were buried together. Soldiers from about 50 burial sites around Virginia were also re-interred here.

    Only 10 of the soldiers interred in the "official" cemetery are Confederates, and their stones are marked as such. There is no official list of the war dead buried in the Confederate cemetery, nor is there a burial count. According to the historian Jim Bishop in his 1955 book, The Day Lincoln Was Shot, he states that the US "would never official count the Confederate dead, would never even keep records of the Confederate wounded." Although private historians have these numbers, the United States of America does not recognize them.

    Why this is so is simple. The United States of America never did recognize the formation of the Confederacy, and never looked on the seceded states as being anything other than anarchist militants. In today's terminology, the Federal government exercised martial law in order to stamp out the rebellion. Those who engaged in the rebellion, therefore, deserved no recognition for their part.

    This is rather cold-hearted, in my opinion. The Confederate soldiers were of two groups: draftees with no choice and volunteers who believed in their cause. This mirrors the state of mind of the Union soldiers, who could have been divided into two identical groups. I hope none of them died in vain.


    There are many ills that are still injuring this great nation: racism, religious bias, poverty. Worst of all is apathy. Visiting this cemetery has brought to mind that there is still hope out there, if only we'd look into ourselves to find it. The saying really is true: it only takes one person to change the course of history. Let it begin with us.

    I can bring it!

    In honor of the Third Annual Towel Day as well as the 30th anniversary of the greatest sci-fi movie evar--Star Wars, I made a two-in-one photo. I'm half hitch hiker, half evil.

    Now it's back to the fjords! Happy Towel Day, everyone!

    PS to Beav: I may have not posted about Towel Day first; you are definitely a more organized Geek than I. However, I do believe I posted my towel photo first. I've shown you mine...

    Oh yeah, and if any other hoopy frood would like to post their Towel Day fun, send it in an email. If it's SFW, I'll upload it for you.

    Geeks of the world, unite!

    The answer is 42. Don't forget your towel. Join me!

    My very own Vogan poetry; you have been warned.

    Fleetly brazen wood carving
    Do not want
    Shelter theoretical melodrama
    Read the manual, stupid

    "So long and thanks for all the fish."

    *edited 25 May 1:15pm

    Brave little toaster

    I decided to shirk work, eg finishing my flower garden, to go try out The Griffon divecoaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.


    That was absolutely awesome. I got to go in the front row, and it was amazing. I really thought I'd be scared, but while I was in line I took stock of all the really crazy things I've survived (see list below) and kept calm, even as I "dangled" for a few seconds face down and parallel to Earth.

    Crazy things I've survived:

    • rolled a car down a hill with no seatbelt on
    • walked on the roof of a one-story house
    • the third floor of our townhouse in England (eventually)
    • hanging my own christmas lights on my house
    • rollercoasters:
    • Millenium Force (front row)
    • Wicked Twister
    • Magnum XL
    • Mantis
    • Wildcat
    • Raptor
    • Meanstreak
    • other rides I can't remember
    • Alpengeist
    • Apollo's Chariot (do NOT sit on the far outside ever again)
    • Big Bad Wolf (okay, that one's not so scary)
    • Loch Ness Monster
    King's Dominion - Richmond
    • Drop Zone -Yes, I did that.
    • Anaconda
    • Berzerker -Yes, I did that, too. I think I actually went unconscious for a moment.
    • Hurler -a wooden coaster that totally kicks your ass.
    • Rebel Yell -a wooden coaster that totally kicks your ass frontwards and backwards.
    • Ricochet
    • Volcano
    • Italian Job Turbo -okay, the only "thrill" about this ride was the start--the rest was way lame, and the line for it was completely exposed to the hot, hot sun.
    About that Griffon. Woo Hoo! Unfortunately, there is no good warning about the g-forces that pull on the internal organs as the coaster swings out of the dive. At the end of my very short ride, two fellow passengers were hurling into the nearest trash bin, and many people were checking their pants to see if they'd wet themselves (including me).

    Info to shelf for later: there's a restroom right outside the ride's entrance. Either use it before taking the ride, or be prepared to buy an extra-long t-shirt from the kiosk next door to the restrooms. Or simply go on water rides until you're soaked first. Just a thought.

    *Edited 8:25 pm EST

    People with teenagers

    I meant to blag about this last week, but I forgot. I do that alot.

    Hear ye, hear ye, people with teenagers!

    We discovered the hard way that here in the lovely state of Virginia, anyone aged 14 or older can deny medical treatment at any time.

    My teenager was knocked off her bike by a slow-moving minivan whose driver was clearly being stupid (but wasn't charged; I'm still not over that). I was in another part of the county attending a soccer game as I am a single parent this year. Neighbors took charge, some staying with her while others took off in hopes of finding me (have I ever mentioned how much I love my neighbors? I do love them, they are the best!).

    Visually, she was unhurt, but her helmet was cracked and she had a scrape on her hip. The paramedics offered to take her to the ER, but she declined. Neighbors protested, but she insisted she was fine. Paperwork was produced which she signed, and that was that.


    No one ever expects their child to be hit by a car. Of all the warnings I've given my kids over the years, it never occurred to me to say, "Oh, and if you ever get hit by a car, even if you feel fine, go ahead and let the paramedics take you to the ER."

    On the other hand, no one ever mentioned that here in Virginia, a 14-year-old is expected to know what's best for themselves.

    If you have kids, it's in your best interest to check out the rules regarding this issue in your state. Knowing ahead of time that your kid can deny medical treatment will help you determine the best course of action in guiding your kids through their teens. Kids do not think about the future in terms of medical health, and so would not think of this as a big deal. But suppose that a few years from now, The Girl has back trouble, and it's linked to this accident? What recourse will we have then? Probably none.


    What the hell is wrong with people?! Does no one ever learn from Springer?

    There are a lot of freaks out there. You've been warned, so tread lightly here. The squeamish need not continue; I may get ugly.

    I read Dear Abby and the old Ann Landers column nearly every day, because it's funny/pathetic to read true-life stories of how petty or shallow people can be. For instance, in today's column (5/21) in Abby, this guy is whining because "the girl of his dreams" has no desire to become college-educated. Here's how it is, dumbass: if the girl you've dreamed about has a college education, and the girl you're with does not and probably will not, then she's not the girl of your dreams. Step out, move on, give the girl a chance to find someone who truly appreciates her spirit, personality, and contributions to the world at large.

    Also in today's Abby column there is a letter from a woman who was fondled by a slightly older cousin when they were teens. As adults, apparently they can't stay away from each other and are now going to have a baby. I'm sorry, if you're smart enough to write to Abby for advice, I assume you're smart enough to know you shouldn't be having sex with a relative, no matter what kind of history or attraction there is. Ew.

    After the revulsion, I'm left with pity for that poor child. When I was going through therapy, the one thing that really got to me was this: you can't pick your parents, only how you deal with them. So on the one hand, this child will be able to hold its head up, safe in the knowledge that it didn't ask to be born. On the other hand, this child will go through life knowing that everyone knows his parents are related by more than just having a child together.

    Here's the other thing: there are over 6.5 billion people on this planet, over 300 million in the US, Louisiana plays host to over 4 million of that number. And these two idiots could only find each other for booty calls?!

    I've said it once, I'll say it a thousand times: you are required to take a test to drive a car, but any schmuck can create a baby.

    You're so immature!

    Okay, so I'm driving along in the 'hood, and I see a billboard for a local technical college. It got me to thinking about juvenile stuff.

    The billboard brought to mind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, better known as MIT.

    The college advertised on the billboard is the Tidewater Institute of Technology. What are they better known as? "TIT"?

    PS: for a "technical" college which trains computer nerds and Microsoft slaves, they don't seem to have a website. Irony?

    And Leon's getting larger!

    Okay, so I'm fat.

    With each kid, I packed on an extra 20 lbs that I just didn't bother to remove (except with that first one--I really wanted to keep my job with the Air Force). Then came those birth control shots which packed another 20 lbs on in one month that made me so depressed, I nearly couldn't function for the next 3 years. No parties (and I loves me a party, esp when I'm the hostest with the mostest and everyone adores me for it), no outings, no fun.

    Then we moved to Hampton Roads in Virginia (it's a region, not a specific place). There are tons of things to do, beaches, fun fun fun. And here I am, overweight, no energy, and ashamed of recent photographs. I was also diagnosed with a degenerative kidney disease, and my blood pressure is now dangerous without meds.

    So I discuss this with my doc, who turns out to be a 0% bodyfat vegan health nut who rides his bike 20 miles per day regardless of rain, snow, or alien invasion. He claims that a woman of my stature (or lack of stature) should be about 100-110 pounds. My response? "Dude, I just wanna see 150 again."

    So we try South Beach. It worked for a short time and I lost about 20 lbs, finally seeing under 200. But South Beach was a pain to follow. I quit that, but realized my stomach was smaller and so willed myself to not stuff myself with every meal. I've not seen 200 again.

    Then we try 40/30/30, but that's a pain, too. All that counting. I'm good at maths, but damn!

    Now I'm trying WeightWatchers. I'd done it before, but had no motivation at the time. Now that my life is at stake, I'm willing to apply myself. I've cranked up my water consumption, which has really improved my skin tone, by the way. I'm not so good at writing down everything I eat, but I'm more conscious now of whether I eat enough veggies each day. Going out to eat has become a trial, especially with my buffet-loving monkey kids, but we're all working together to help Mom get healthy. What I eat, they eat. Nobody's special around here.

    My total loss so far is only 5.5 pounds after two months. You might think that's really sucky, but I haven't been this "thin" in a long time. Think about that for a while as I carry on.

    Why has it taken me so long to lose just over 5 pounds?

    There are lots of things I can blame. I have a torn tendon in my right foot that flares up from time to time. Shortly after beginning WW, my foot began to torment me, so no exercise. Also, I've been trotting all over the county for my kids' soccer events 5 days a week after school as a single parent, so planning dinners has been tricky.

    But ultimately, the blame is mine. I could have been doing qigong and stretching exercises until the swelling went down. I could have been packing meals-to-go so that we could all eat in the car. But I didn't.

    The good news is that I feel bad about that. The better news is that the swelling has gone down, and I'm ready to start something new to work up a sweat.

    I love to dance. Mister and I took some lindy-hop lessons and they were so much fun. I like to boogie around the house while I tidy up. I actually liked "Sweatin' to the Oldies" with Richard Simmons, except he's such an annoying little git. I recently purchased an exercise program which uses salsa dance as exercise, and I'm really excited about trying that.

    Plus, summer is here, and my bike is calling me. With Mister gone, the monkeys and I will be doing a lot of family biking this summer to pass the time in the evenings.

    Who knows? Perhaps before the end of summer, I'll be seeing that 150 on my scale. Maybe I'll get really lucky and see an even smaller number. Keep up with me while I journey down the numbers.

    Food is my life. I love food, I dream of food, I love feeding people, and very little warms me like having someone tell me how yummy my food is. Cheesecake is my vice. I recently made an all-natural, full-fat classic cheesecake that is 3 inches tall in the middle and so creamy, so yummy, it truly is sinful. I've only had two skinny slivers of it, because I know what's in there, and how devastating it can be. Plus, it's so indulgent, a skinny sliver is enough for anybody!

    But I need alternatives. I need cheesecake the way a meth junkie needs another fix. So I found this recipe on the Reader's Digest website that I plan to try soon. If you try it before I report on my attempt, let me know about it.


    You Are 50% Weird

    Normal enough to know that you're weird...
    But too damn weird to do anything about it!

    Take this test to see how weird you are. My friend Steve From Canada is 80% weird. The only shocking thing about that is that I was expecting him to be 100% weird.

    Celebration time, come on!

    Summa cum laude.
    Woo Hoo!

    That's me with one associate's degree in early childhood development, one professional diploma, and two professional certificates. So I'm taking the summer off, and will start back up in the fall in order to pursue my bachelor's degree.

    I'm planning on throwing myself some sort of party soon, so check back for the details.

    Many thanks to everyone who's given me support over the last couple of years, especially my husband who's helped me manage the kids and my mom who never gave up on me.

    Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home!

    I received this in my cybermail yesterday:

    Do you know what this is?

    That's right. It's a clean room and a made-up bed.

    You know what else it is?

    Proof that Mister is only a slob when he's at home.

    I've got only one thing to say about that: Grrrr!


    So here is what Eric's "apartment" looks like from
    the outside. The facility is called a "CHU" (chew)
    but I don't know what that stands for. Anyone?

    I thought they looked like a storage building, but
    the kids decided that they look like bathrooms
    at a gas station. Either way, Mister's just glad he's
    got air conditioning. He had to buy the mosquito
    netting for the door. And no, there are no windows
    and no plumbing.

    Warm love, hugs and sunshine to everyone!

    Save Ensign Crusher

    I don't normally promote stuff, but I'm a huge fan of Wil Wheaton. Many of you may know that Star Trek brought me and Mister together. The early years of our marriage were spent in front of the tube watching reruns of ST:TNG, still debating over who was more annoying: Troi or Riker, and whether or not I'd look good in Geordy's gold banana clip--I mean, eyewear.

    Wil Wheaton has been nominated for Best Celebrity Blogger in the annual Blogger's Choice Awards. He's currently running second to Rosie O'Donnell.

    Honestly, I don't care what her politics are, but her blog is nowhere near as interesting as Wil's. She posts a lot of youtube crap, some cute pictures from her life, a few insights and a few rants. She has a rather long list of other places she thinks are interesting, and you can find out about her cruise and her foundation. She appeals to a rather select (albeit populous) portion of America. The comments posted by her fans, however, make me wanna puke. I really didn't think people could gush that much and still have their intestines intact.

    Rosie's regulars appear to be the shmaltzy, soccer-mom crowd. My kids play soccer; I am not a soccer mom. I am also not involved in a non-traditional relationship, although I support anyone who is. I just don't want to read about it every other day. I can't depend on visiting Rosie's blog every day, or even once a week, and find something that appeals to me.

    Wil, on the other hand, posts information that eventually will appeal to somebody. I'm not into poker, but if I wait a day, there may be some snippet of his family life that's always interesting, or some fun thing he's found on the internet, something geeky, an excerpt from his online commitments, or a reminder to check out some of his camera-time. He's always funny, and if he doesn't appeal to me today, he will tomorrow.

    So here's the situation: Wil is currently being crushed by about 4k votes. Wil does not have a national television program to use as a promotional device, unlike Rosie who does have and has used The View to promote her site both for readers and for votes. Wil also does not actively promote this competition on the site that he maintains, nor does he use his connections as a free-lance writer with world-wide popular websites to promote the competition.

    Wheaton fans on Fark attempted to help him out, but that apparently caught Rosie's attention and she stepped it up a notch. (Please note: Farkers are nothing like a pro-Rosie crowd, and the comments many left after voting were rather nasty and/or beyond the pale. I don't recommend reading the comments left for either blog on the competition site, unless they've been sanitized by the site mods.)

    Take a few moments to go to the competition website. Check out the two blogs (W / R) if you want to make sure you're voting for the site that appeals to you most. They allow you to vote for more than one blog in each category, you just can't vote for the same blog twice.

    Because little pitchers have big ears

    So I get a call from a friend from WayBack, a guy who I really thought was probably dead since nothing I knew could locate him, and we're yapping about the old times. Suddenly, I'm deluged with inquiries from The Boy. Among other things, he wants to know if I got arrested for "that."

    Me: "What is 'that'?"

    Him: "What you were just saying. You know, when you kidnapped somebody."

    The Voices in My Head: "Holy crap. I need to STFU."

    So I found myself explaining the situation, trying my best to edit for content on the fly and failing miserably. In the end, no matter how I tried, the story still stands as was: technically, if you really, really have to be pissy about it, I sort-of kidnapped my friend.

    But it was for his own good, dammit! The man was married to a stone-cold slab that made Martha Stewart look like a porn queen and he needed some fresh air, so to speak.

    All I can say about that now is that by the end of the night, Brian had a greater appreciation for bath tubs (esp. when full of ice, beer, and a half-naked beer girl), the American flag (esp. when worn as a string bikini by said half-naked beer girl), vodka jello shots (esp. when served by said beer girls whilst on your knees), and his way-cool friends who thought enough of him to yank him out of a mall parking lot (whilst wearing pantyhose masks and not even really stopping the van, no less) and force him to dance and drink the night away at their expense.

    Oh, and Brian, sorry for leaving you behind. You wouldn't leave with me, and I felt you were probably drunk enough that either 'it' wouldn't work or you wouldn't remember if 'it' did. Forgiven?

    Yippy Skippy

    I have survived finals week.

    Nothing else is relevant.