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  • ...and a happy new year!

    I just wanted to say good luck, we're all counting on you!

    Happy Happy Joy Joy!

    The Well-Known Dutch Author

    From about 4th grade, I'd been a regular feature in the principal's office. This was so not because I was a bad kid, a trouble-maker, or a slacker. No, this was so because I'm a Quoter. I may not ever remember your name or my birth date, but I'll usually be able to lay out some obscure (and not so obscure) movie quote that fits whatever situation I'm in.

    For instance, my first trip to the principal's office was because of a little playground tiff with the kid who sat in front of me in class. He was always pulling my pigtails at recess, which according to my mom was a sign that he liked me. Complete balderdash, but I digress. One day I decided enough was enough and I warned him that if he pulled my pigtails again, I'd punch him. He pulled, I punched, although it was more like a nip than a punch. He pulled again--and then took off running.

    I ran after him shouting, "Come back here, you yellow bastard!"

    Ah, Monty Python! How you'd get me into more trouble throughout the years! And what fun it's been, too.

    There was a later incident when I explained why the castle in my story was named, "Anthrax," and another over a silly little ditty about a lumberjack. In high school, my friends and I were all big fans and so we all went down together my senior year after getting caught in the midst of a rousing "Sit On My Face" during drama club. It didn't help that I was the only female in the, um, "choir," that's for sure.

    (I got our punishments redacted after I blamed my dad--he ran a video store from his home on Main Street, and so the principal inferred we had discovered said 'illicit' material there, which was sort of true since it was he who accidentally introduced his kids to Monty Python in the first place.)

    Oh, and there was the unfortunate Freudian slip my junior year. The entire class read "A Tale of Two Cities," by Charles Dickens. We were all given a specific angle, and using that angle we were to present an oral report of about 5 minutes in length. My report was cut short within the first few moments, and I was sent yet again to the principal's office along with a furiously-written note from my teacher who was so red in the face, I thought she might be having a stroke. Poor lady. She really needed to get out more.

    Being the good parent that I am, of course I have shared my joyous love of Monty Python with my children. Well, not all of it. I do keep it relatively age-appropriate. The last thing I need is for my son to be sent to the office because he announced that he liked peril!

    Now, if they'd only embrace Airplane! as well...

    Wait... What?!

    I'm a news junkie, but I don't watch television news regularly, except for the morning's local broadcast. For "proper" news, I go online. I check Yahoo, BBCA, BBC UK, and others to get my fix. Sometimes it's reassuring while at other times it's shocking or depressing. Today, however, I'm left completely and utterly [insert any synonym for 'gobsmacked'].

    Check this out:

    Israeli officials say the strikes were necessary to force an end to the rocket attacks from Gaza... Palestinian militants in Gaza have long launched Kassam and other rockets at Israeli towns across the border, and in the past six weeks the number of attacks has increased dramatically. After the attack, Israeli officials said the number of Palestinian rocket attacks could now spike to 200 a day.
    Let me see if I fully comprehend what just happened:

    1. Palestine is launching rockets into Israel, upsetting the Israelis. I can see that; I'd be pissed if a rocket slammed into my house and all I was doing was watching the news.

    2. Israel decides to spank them into submission, knowing full well that it won't work and that what they will accomplish in the end is a lot of dead people plus angry families and communities who will demand revenge, causing an escalation of the rocket-launching the mass bombing was supposed to suppress.


    I swear by Pete's dragon, the governments in charge of these two countries--yes, the entire governmental bodies: presidents, VPs, legislators, lackeys, the entire lot--need to be removed from office. How do they sleep at night, knowing they are causing their people untold grief and fear?

    I know the standard policy of any nation is to not negotiate with terrorists. I get that.

    On the other hand, if my lax governmental policy towards militants living in my country is causing some other country to pound my country into oblivion, then I should be working towards getting those asshats to knock off the random rocket attacks from my country.

    Also, if some butthead militants from a neighboring country are lobbing rockets randomly at my country, I need to figure out why they're so pissed off (or perhaps they're just bored) and work to fix that. And by "fix," I do not mean "drop enough bombs to cripple the other country's police network thereby increasing the opportunities for those butthead militants to continue lobbing rockets at my country."

    It seems to me that in order to be a politician in the Middle East, one must also be a stubborn jackass devoid of empathy and completely incapable of envisioning the bigger picture.

    ***I added the emphasis in the quote above.***

    Look kids--Big Ben! Parliament!

    Mister's parents presented us with our very own GPS device for Christmas.

    I'm rather disappointed that it doesn't allow you to choose the voice. I mean, why does it have to be a woman's voice? Why not a man's? Or Harvey Fierstein's?

    We're trying to name it. I thought of Majel Barrett, in honor of the late Mrs Roddenberry, but then Mister says it would be more appropriate to just call the thing, "Computer." It makes sense, though. My van is built for long-distance travel, requires regular maintenance, and is silver, just like the Enterprise.

    Unlike Computer, however, my GPS system knows sarcasm. You should just hear it announce its need to adjust the flight plan when I don't go the way it wants me to: "Recalculating." Pure derision.

    The bonus of this device is that I can upload audio books, MP3s, and Google Maps to the thing. The audio files can then be played through my car's stereo system via one of three FM channels. Neat!

    It's just like those bloody peasants

    I'm on a quest.

    I saw a movie on the Sci-Fi Channel which got me uber-interested in medieval fantasy movies. Movies with dragons, swordfighting and such, and more than a touch of medieval themes instantly became my latest mania.

    I currently have an extremely short list of "dragon" and/or "medieval" films. Please help me fill in the list. Surely there's more to Hollywood than "First Knight" or that Kevin Costner travesty, "Prince of Thieves."

    I do have another quest--to watch every Oscar winner ever, along with the other nominees for the year. Yes, that's a lot of films. But I've decided that I watch a lot of crap, and that I watch that crap repeatedly. I felt that perhaps I should attempt a view more like Viggo Mortenson's: that life is too short to watch the same film twice. Obviously, that's not going to work 100% for me, but I'm going to at least watch better films while watching crap less often (but with no less glee). I must give Mister a boatload of credit for working that list for me!

    A clock isn't time

    I met with my new nephrologist yesterday, a Col. So-and-so of the United States Army. Nice guy, appreciates my wit and forthright attitude.

    He gave me a lot of information I already knew, and thanked me for being the most-educated kidney patient on his list. He says most people don't want information, they don't look anything up themselves, they just want drugs and a to-do list. It's my opinion that he's got a chart full of idiots.

    He also gave me some information I didn't know, like my 'number.' It's my GFR, which here refers to overall successful kidney function and not Grand Funk Railroad.

    On a scale of 0-130, with 130 being 'super awesome hyper monkey kidneys' and 0 being 'dead as a doornail,' I'm a 73. There are also 6 stages of PKD, which starts with '0=identified as at-risk and requires education' and ends with '5=trying not to die today.' I'm firmly in stage one, which one enters after kidney function begins to deteriorate. Unfortunately, stage two begins when my GFR number drops below 60. That's 13 points away.

    He also gave me permission to have an occasional glass of wine. As an Italian and a wine aficionado, this is good news indeed.

    But there's the dilemma. In my opinion, 13 is too close for comfort for me to risk doing any damage. On the other hand, I cannot find any evidence to support the hypothesis that one glass of wine a week or even a month does any damage to the internal organs.

    What to do, what to do? On the one hand, I don't want to do anything on purpose that might hurt my survival rate. On the other hand, all they have to do is step through the clock to reach the red bull's lair.

    Now, about that wine...?

    "A man's dreams are an index to his greatness."

    Or so says Rabbi Zadok HaKohen Rabinowitz (1839-1905) of Poland.

    An interesting thought, that. To embrace one's dreams as the guideposts of one's journey to greatness has its appeal. Unless those dreams are mine, in which case I would want to embrace the therapeutic assistance of a really good psychiatrist.

    My dreams, generally, move from one obvious plane of existence to another; they seem to leap from one "movie" to the next with little or no discernible segue. That is hardly new or troublesome in the realm of dream theory. But the stories told by those little 'mini-movies' is a bit troublesome, even for me, if one embraces the notion that dreams are an index to greatness. Let's use last night's joyous dreams as an example.

    My dream ended with me and some small child I did not know living in a bizarre refugee camp, a tall, imposing Army barracks-style facility. There was no furniture to speak of, and no one was allowed to sit down. I'm sure that there is some meaning behind that, but that's not what troubled me at all.

    The troublesome part of my dream was the mini-movie immediately before the end, the one that still has my oldest child laughing so hard, I fear for her bladder. That segment starred Kim Woodburn of BBCA's "How Clean Is Your House" as the housecleaner in an all-marble mansion, and her sidekick, Daniel Radcliff, who was wearing standard teenager clothes and a knitted cap with string ties.

    After chatting about nothing important for a short while, a pair of skateboards magically appear under their feet. The two gently set off down the hall, where they are stopped by the master of the house. He asks Ms Woodburn what she is up to, and she replies, "Just skating through life, sir."

    He looks at the boy and asks, "Who are you?"

    Daniel tugs the strings of his cap and replies, "Hatty Potter."

    And then the two skate back into the kitchen. As the kitchen door closes, that portion ends and my movie jumps immediately into the refugee camp.

    I do believe I may very well be insane. Either that, or I watch way too much British entertainment for one person.

    It's a jump to the left

    A few nights ago, I watched a documentary about Star Trek. This got me to thinking about the films, in particular "5: Undiscovered Country."

    At the end of this film, the crew are directed to return the battered Enterprise to be decommissioned. Kirk and the rest of the bridge decide to take the scenic route home, delaying the inevitable as long as possible.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't there be a thousand or so other crew members whose opinion on the matter might actually mean something?

    Suppose the Deck 14 replicator repair man has a special party set up for his granny that he'll miss thanks to this decision. Or the coffee hostess in the lounge made arrangements to have a boob job done and put a deposit down already.

    If it were me, I'd be totally pissed.


    Last night, I enjoyed something I rarely ever indulge: a talk show.

    William F. Shatner debuted his talk show last night, "Raw Nerve," with Valerie Bertinelli as his guest. A short 30 minutes later, and I was ever so glad the second episode (featuring Tim Allen) was next. Shatner is amazing, and he was able to get his guests chatting. I really felt like I was sitting in the living room with them, just listening in on a couple of friends hanging out and swapping stories.

    I can't wait to see more episodes, and I never watch talk shows. Who knew?

    You're only making it worse for yourself!

    A week or so ago, the Big Three CEOs got themselves spanked by Congress and crucified by the press for traveling in luxury whilst begging for money.

    This week, these clowns hoped to improve their image by attempting some "good press." One arrived in DC driving a hybrid his company makes. Another brought along a model that is so full of fantastical gadgets and safety features, I can't list them all because it's all just so fantastical and gadgety!

    The problem with all this is that it was for naught.

    The hybrid model not only cost $4,000 more than its non-hybrid brother, but it only got 2 miles per gallon more than its non-hybrid brother. Compare that with a certain non-domestic hybrid model with its 48 city mpg and its rather cheap price tag (under $25k).

    The "loaded" vehicle was rather nice and dreamy, but its fuel economy was actually worse than most models in its class. Also, its price tag will keep it right out of the hands of those who do not meet or exceed "upper middle class" status. These are the very people who need fuel efficient cars for less.

    I wonder what it feels like to have your head stuffed firmly up your own rear end?