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  • Strait and narrow

    I am sooo happy.

    Years ago, I was dragged along to a music festival in Greenbo', Ala-bama! to see some guy called Keb Mo. Turns out he's a blues guy. I don't like the blues, actually. However, he wasn't the only star there; there were stars all over the place, including my all-time favorite non-country band, Live. It was freakin' awesome!

    Last night, I got to see the only country artist I truly like: George Strait. Sweet holy Jesus, was that an awesome show! And now, I can die without regret. But not too soon. I'd like to be old first, thanks.

    Here are some highlights:

    Mister is awesome! Thanks ever so much for the tickets. We really did have completely awesome seats. I'm a short stack, so floor seats were out of the question. Most other seats had to deal with people standing up. But the seats I got were front-row of the "arena" seats, which put us up about a foot or so higher than the floor seats, with no one else in front of us. We were able to sit for nearly the entire show and still see everything! Woot!

    Oh Fark, How I Love Thee

    Without Fark, I would not find such gems as this. But rather than force you to clicky, I'll sum up.

    Georgia needs water, and thinks reassigning the border with Tennessee is the answer, since Alabama won't give them any water. Tennessee kindly disagrees. However, they do so with grace, and even goes so far as to send forth a peace offering, a truckload of bottled water, to prevent hard feelings, along with this declaration:


    WHEREAS, it has come to pass that the heavens are shut up and a drought of Biblical proportions has been visited upon the Southern United States, and

    WHEREAS, the parched and dry conditions have weighed heavily upon the State of Georgia and sorely afflicted those who inhabit the Great City of Atlanta, and

    WHEREAS, the leaders of Georgia have assembled like the Children of Israel in the desert, grumbled among themselves and have begun to cast longing eyes toward the north, coveting their neighbor’s assets, and

    WHEREAS, the lack of water has led some misguided souls to seek more potent refreshment or for other reasons has resulted in irrational and outrageous actions seeking to move a long established and peaceful boundary, and

    WHEREAS, it is deemed better to light a candle than curse the darkness, and better to offer a cool, wet kiss of friendship rather than face a hot and angry legislator gone mad from thirst, and

    WHEREAS, it is feared that if today they come for our river, tomorrow they might come for our Jack Daniels or George Dickel,

    NOW THEREFORE, in the interest of brotherly love, peace, friendship, mutual prosperity, citywide self promotion, political grandstanding and all that

    I, Ron Littlefield, Mayor of the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee,

    Do hereby Proclaim that Wednesday, February 27, 2008 shall be known as

    “Give Our Georgia Friends a Drink Day”

    Dear Lord, but that was funny.

    Courtesy of the Chattanoogan newspaper.


    I have had many "roles" throughout my life. I've been a student, a parent, a wife, a babysitter, a safety chief, a paperwork shuffler, a volunteer, a lunch lady....

    Today I got to be something few Americans get to try: freaked-out civilian caught in a war zone fire fight.

    My local military establishment is conducting a training exercise this week. I've experienced these before, and they've been nothing special. Today, however, was different.

    Shortly after I entered the base, I was directed to follow an impromptu detour by a person in costume. Eventually, I made my way to an intersection, blindly following the cars in front of me. I thought they knew where they were going.

    I found myself with a second-row view of a mock fire fight between "us" and "them." I was absolutely panicked at first--I didn't realize right away it was an act. There was no one directing the civilians wandering the base, and I had also never read any directive on how to act during these exercises. It finally occurred to me that they were firing blanks, but that still didn't take the edge off my panic.

    I now have a deeper understanding of how warfare can affect civilians, of how terrifying it can be for them. I also have a better grasp of just how difficult it is for our soldiers to maintain control of an area, since civilians can and often do behave irrationally and unexpectedly.

    I'll take "Liberty or Death" for $1000, please.

    The family loaded up and went to Washington, DC for a spur-of-the-moment, whirlwind tour this weekend.

    Here's a not-so-quick recap of almost everything we did:

    Day 1:
    -Archives to see the Constitution, my favorite work of art (line too long, time too short, we'll catch it next time)
    -American Art and Portrait Gallery
    -Ford's Theatre (under construction and not open until 2009!)
    -Petersen House, where Lincoln died
    -Homeless people at Cleveland Park, which prompted a discussion about homelessness
    -A panhandler, which prompted a discussion about panhandling and how to deal with it
    -National Cathedral and President Wilson, which prompted a discussion later about the schism of the Catholic church, Luther and his 95 Theses, and why I think Catholic cathedrals are what heaven is like, if there is such a thing as heaven.

    Side note: we walked through a very nice-looking neighborhood to get from the subway to the Cathedral. It was so posh, they not only had regular ol' gray squirrels, but also the ultra-fancy super-puffy-tailed black squirrels. Nice!

    Day 2:
    -Arlington Cemetery

    • John F Kennedy
    • Robert Kennedy
    • Unknown soldier change-of-guard ceremony
    • Robert Todd Lincoln, wife and son, and an interesting discussion about RTL's mom
    • President Taft (or 'President T. Fat,' if you ask The Girl)
    • 5-star General Omar Bradley
    • A really weird discussion on who can and can't be buried there, why some stones have names on the back as well as the front, and if Mister would like to be there (answer=no, but thanks for asking).
    • at least two soundings of Taps, which prompted a short discussion bugles and of when Taps is played.
    -The Mall
    • Washington's monument
    • Reflecting pool and an excellent discussion on how this area is superb for protest marches
    • Lincoln's monument
    • Vietnam memorial and a short history of the conflict in which my kids asked really good questions
    • Women in the Military memorial
    • World War II memorial
    • Jefferson memorial (we only saw it from a distance)
    -Really strange people at the subway platform


    Here's a memorable moment from the tour:

    Awesome! (Yes, I cropped out The Baby. She's too cute to put up on the Interwebs, you know.)

    We're thinking of e-mailing the photo to Colbert. Incidentally, his portrait is currently located in the Presidential portrait gallery. Specifically, there is a sort of cubby across from Andrew Jackson's (hack, spit) portrait into which restrooms were built. The Colbert Portrait is located inside that cubby, between the mens' and ladies' rooms, and overlooking the water fountain. His place in America's posterior is assured.

    Posterior? Posterity? Hmm. I always get those confused.

    Anyhoo, I have some other awesome photos from this trip which can only be described as "wicked awesomeful."

    We made an attempt to hit Mount Vernon before it closed, but it was pissing down rain as we arrived at the interstate exit. Instead, we went to dinner early and came home. Regardless, we can tick off three more dead presidents on our Dead Presidents Tour guide.

    No, there' s not really a guide per se, just that we're trying to visit the final resting places of all the dead presidents before we're dead ourselves. Everyone should have a goal. This just happens to be ours.

    Mister will be leaving for a slightly warmer climate in April but will fly back in mid-June so that we can visit Mount Vernon for our final Virginia-planted dead president (Washington) as well as Stonewall Jackson's arm. Why Jackson's arm? Well, why not?

    If anyone knows of anything historic and morbid and/or bizarre that might be of interest here in the Grand Commonwealth of the State of Ever-loving Virginia, please feel free to post it in the comments. For some reason, "morbid and/or bizarre" is what holds the interest of kids these days. I can't understand why.


    Between my freshman and sophomore years in high school, my mom moved us to a different school district. We went from a "city" school to a "country" school in that my family was of the minority that did not live on a 'farm.' Not everyone actually lived on a farm, but most homes were considered farms due to the enormous lot sizes and the fact that nearly every home could be classified as "located just east of BFE."

    In Spanish class, I sat behind a young freshman who was an embarrassingly rabid fan of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I am not a fan. He and I would gently spar over the legitimacy of The Beatles and whether Yoko should have been drowned at birth. I also predicted that Sean Lennon would have zero talent, especially when compared to Julian.

    Fast forward to my senior year. I became involved in the Drama Club and found "my people." Among those people were my Spanish class Beatles buddy and his two closest friends. They were into skateboarding and let me tag along. As you know, skateboarders need an audience, and there's nothing like a girl freaking out over a faceplant.

    We all became very close that year, perhaps too close. But I had the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of my friends: A, whose mother was incredibly overprotective; B, whom I was pretty sure his mother didn't like him very much; and C, an emo kid who was always at odds with his father and step-mother. Unlike me, they all had two parents who got along at home, and I found the idiosyncrasies normalizing.

    But I did worry about C. Some days, he seemed so much like a ticking time bomb. Other days, he was so sweet and affectionate--even flirtatious. I believed in my heart it was a phase, and that he was just torn up by hormones not quite in sync.

    I was wrong. A few years ago I learned he had taken his life. I felt so... We were blood, bound by our friendship pledges to one another. We had shared so much of ourselves--our hopes, our dreams. Although we went our separate ways after high school, I believed our connections were still there, that we would always be there for each other, and that I had failed. I was assured that no one could have 'reached' him, that he was too far gone in his downward spiral, but how could that salve my soul?

    And so I simply buried it, refusing to dwell on my feelings of failure, my belief that I had abandoned my friend to his troubles.

    XKCD.com helped put my feelings into proper perspective yesterday. I have spent last night and most of today reevaluating everything, and feel as though a weight has been lifted.


    It's not my fault, nor is it the fault of my friends or even C's dysfunctional family. Sometimes, you just can't help someone--they have to find their own way. Now I can finally let him go.

    No Raptors

    Mister was telling me last night about a coworker and her adventures in selling off her car.

    She had begun the expedition using minimal advertising, and offered the car for $X. She wasn't locked into that specific number, but hoped to receive somewhere close to that. $X was already below "blue book" value.

    She received a few phone calls, but all of them were for a few thousand less than the asking price. Considering it's already priced lower than market value, she was a bit insulted. It is a rather nice car, after all.

    So she steps up the advertising and buys ad space. She was rather shocked when one of the first to call about the car was not Average Joe but a dealership. The salesman mentioned the ad and asked if she was in the market for a new car. You see, she could just trade in the car she's advertising and get a sweet deal on something else.

    Mister was also rather surprised at the predatory nature of the call, and suggested that in response to that he was going to set up a widow's dating service. The "legwork" of his business model would include the daily scanning of the obituaries for potential clients. After I shared some other examples of predatory businesses, I assured him that I did not find the situation nearly as shocking as they obviously did.

    I also urged him to not follow through on his yen for entrepreneurship at this time.

    Game Time

    Round two of "What the hell does that mean?!"


    Any ideas? Here's a hint: I have no freakin' clue. My kids couldn't come up with anything, either.

    Good luck. We're all counting on you.

    So.... Cute.... Need.... Insulin!

    Holy surfer cat, Batman! This is just too cute.

    I swear, I love Fark.

    click here to watch CNN's video of a 4-month-old surfer kitty.

    Why yes, I will have that in the can!

    How many times has it happened to you --

    You're hiking and you get hungry. You're wishing for a cheeseburger but there's no grill in sight. You could start a campfire, but campfires can be dangerous and you didn't bring along any fresh beef.

    Never fear! Cheeseburger-in-a-can is here!

    And I thought Spam was a product that stretched the boundaries of meat too far.

    You can order it here. Please just try to remember that just because you can does not mean you should.

    (South)Westward, ho!

    Well, peeps, we're moving on, perhaps for the final time before Mister retires.

    It's not as bad as it could be. We're not going anywhere new and we're not going to England, but we're also not going to Fort Meade again. That would have been a nightmare for us, and by "us," I mean, "me." We are returning to that fiery chasm from whence we came: Augusta, Georgia.

    Logistically, however, it's a bit tricky. See, we have a nice little house there. It's too small for us, but the current mortgage is really cheap (we got an excellent fixed rate!). So we looked at rentals in the area in the size we need.

    That is so not going to happen. $1200-1800 per month for a 4-bedroom in the county we want, which is more than Mister will receive in military housing benefit.

    So we looked into the cost of adding a 4th bedroom, walk-in closet, and second full bathroom. For $30k over 10 years, we'd be adding less than $400 per month to our mortgage, and will still be under Mister's benefit. That'll be really great especially during the summers when I won't be working.

    Mister will be heading southward on or about April 15th. While he's home alone, he'll be ripping up the dining room and kitchen floors so we can install lovely fake hardwood flooring. We'll save about $1k installing it ourselves. We want to install a dishwasher and new exterior doors, too, but I'm no dummy and we'll let Home Depot install those for us. A kitchen island, pantry cupboards, and new carpet will finish the inside.

    The final change we're going to make is to the back yard, which needs a drain. This is a weekend-ish project that will cost us next to nothing to do ourselves, just time and muscle.

    Wish us luck! We'll probably need it.