Tuesday, September 26, 2006

squirrely stuff and taking on the bushie bullies

Some people have bats in their belfry (or attic). We have squirrels in our attic. Stanley stapled mesh over the hole in the porch roof that they’ve been using to get in and store their nuts, and it’s been quite entertaining to watch one persistent rodent try to make another hole.

When the squirrels get into the eaves or whatever, it sounds as if they are bowling. The cat goes crazy trying to figure out how to get at them. Since their bowling alley is right above my desk, work gets difficult. The butternuts from the giant old tree in the backyard seem to be larger than usual this year.

Stanley is out there right now stuffing dog fur into the mesh and trying to make it harder to breach. And he’s cutting back the wisteria. It might help. My bet is on the rodent.

Today is my sister Kelly’s birthday. She’s forty-something.

Keith Olbermann was good last night. His special comment was called “A textbook definition of cowardice,” about how the Bushies didn’t even try to do anything about Al Queda. View it or read it—there are too many important points to cite just one or two.

His comment comes on the heels of President Clinton’s smackdown of Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, which I watched. It’s, at long last, heartening to see the bullies being taken on, by Clinton, by Olbermann, by Rich, by Lamont and all the others running against the incumbents guilty of participation in the betrayal of the United States. I only hope they don’t let up.

Hee hee—the boss squirrel is trying it from another angle ...

Now I should get back to work. I’m in the middle of setting up a new webserver and moving a baker’s dozen stores to that server. A word to potential ecommerce owners: don’t allow your webmaster to use non-standard architecture to set up your store because it will be a nightmare to move it when you need to. And if you get some custom work done on whatever shopping cart program you are using, make sure the custom work applies to all possible setups for your software—if it doesn’t, you’ll be crippled when you need to expand or switch to a different database. Oh, and ... never mind, I will save it for the book I’m writing (if I can ever get enough time) ...

posted by lee on 09/26/06 at 03:49 PM

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

frank rich calls bush on his bs

Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times today, “The Longer the War, the Larger the Lies,” says instead of ignoring Bush’s blather of his September 11th speech, let’s experiment, let’s take him at his word. Interesting:

On Monday night, for instance, Mr. Bush flatly declared that “the safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad.” He once again invoked Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, asking, “Do we have the confidence to do in the Middle East what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished in Europe and Asia?”

Rather than tune this bluster out, as the country now does, let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s pretend everything Mr. Bush said is actually true and then hold him to his word. If the safety of America really depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad, then our safety is in grave peril because we are losing that battle. The security crackdown announced with great fanfare by Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki in June is failing. Rosy American claims of dramatically falling murder rates are being challenged by the Baghdad morgue. Perhaps most tellingly, the Pentagon has nowstopped including in its own tally the large numbers of victims killed by car bombings and mortar attacks in sectarian warfare.

And that’s the good news. Another large slice of Iraq, Anbar Province (almost a third of the country), is slipping away so fast that a senior military official told NBC News last week that 50,000 to 60,000 additional ground forces were needed to secure it, despite our huge sacrifice in two savage battles for Falluja. The Iraqi troops “standing up” in Anbar are deserting at a rate as high as 40 percent.

“Even the most sanguine optimist cannot yet conclude we are winning,” John Lehman, the former Reagan Navy secretary, wrote of the Iraq war last month. So what do we do next? Given that the current course is a fiasco, and that the White House demonizes any plan or timetable for eventual withdrawal as “cut and run,” there’s only one immediate alternative: add more manpower, and fast. Last week two conservative war supporters, William Kristol and Rich Lowry, called for exactly that — “substantially more troops.” These pundits at least have the courage of Mr. Bush’s convictions. Shouldn’t Republicans in Congress as well?

After all, if what the president says is true about the stakes in Baghdad, it’s tantamount to treason if Bill Frist, Rick Santorum and John Boehner fail to rally their party’s Congressional majority to stave off defeat there. We can’t emulate our fathers and grandfathers and whip today’s Nazis and Communists with 145,000 troops. Roosevelt and Truman would have regarded those troop levels as defeatism.

The trouble, of course, is that we don’t have any more troops, and supporters of the war, starting with Mr. Bush, don’t want to ask American voters to make any sacrifices to provide them. They don’t want to ask because they know the voters will tell them no. In the end, that is the hard truth the White House is determined to obscure, at least until Election Day, by carpet-bombing America with still more fictions about Iraq.

It’s a pity NYT places Rich behind the TimesSelect barricade—his columns are exactly the antidote needed to the poison spewed by the current administration and its chickenhawk sycophants.

posted by lee on 09/17/06 at 03:54 AM

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Friday, September 08, 2006

meet einstein

On Tuesday, we went with Mom and Dad to the Iosco County pound (or I guess it is the local ASPCA office. Or both.) Anyway, Mom finally agreed that getting another kitty would be a Good Thing. She’d been leery about it becuase it was so hard for her to lose Holly, a siamese cat she adopted when they moved up to Oscoda in 1993 (when Dad retired from teaching). And it didn’t impede the decision when Twitch caught two mice in the space of a week—a kitty has another job besides running the house.

When we got to the pound and Mom went into the kitten room, this little gray ball of fuzzy made eye contact. Mom’s decision took maybe five seconds. They filled out a form, promised to take the fuzzball to the vet, get her spayed in six months, paid $35 dollars, and outside of picking up a bag of free kitten food from the local feed store, we headed home.

Here is the fuzzball (click to enlarge):

Einstein Fleming, adopted 9/5/06 at six weeks old

It took a couple of days, but Mom named her Einstein. It took maybe 30 minutes for Einstein to establish who’s boss. She’s a bold and curious little thing, not the least bit shy. Already hissed at Ginger, who weighs 85 pounds and just wants the little kitty to play with her. If Einstein meows more than once, Ginger comes running to find out what’s wrong. Twitch is doing his Bagheera number, clearly interested but has to pretend he doesn’t care. Einstein is trying to get Twitch to play with her, but Twitch is, right now, too tragically hip to wrestle with a youngun.

I know it’s a cliché to say this, but Einstein has Mom wrapped around his little toe. Stanley took this picture (and the one above)—click to enlarge it:

Einstein cuddles with Alice

Einstein is fast—she scuttles around at mach 1, like a little bug, and doesn’t hesitate to climb furniture or people. I think she’s going to be a beautiful cat when she grows a little and the full coat comes in. She’s got a full white bib and white boots.

Oh, Mom calls her Einstein because she sleeps in her litter box. At the pound, the litter boxes were almost as large as the cages, so I’m not surprised. She kept Dad up by playing on his face, so was confined to another room at night, but when we leave, she’ll probably have run of the house at night (don’t want any catfights in the middle of the night—doubt it would happen, but why risk it?) Mom wants Einstein to be an indoor cat—that’s probably good because there are coyotes and other carnivores around here now—even a badger that’s been rototilling lawns around here (but that’s another story).


posted by lee on 09/08/06 at 03:41 PM

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Monday, September 04, 2006

my nephew is a soldier now

Aaron McCaskey and Cara Schalmo

My nephew, Aaron, just graduated from basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. Here he is with his mom, Carolyn (Cara). Aaron joined the Michigan Army National Guard. So far, he says he likes being in the army. He’s now in Fort Lee, Virginia, doing what I’m not sure yet. I’ll find out more in a few days, but it’s some kind of advanced training beyond basic training. Ft. Lee is support command, things like quartermastering and logistics. He’ll be there a total of “seven weeks and three days” and, after that, supposedly back to Michigan. I hope for good—I really hope I don’t have to spend another year worrying about a loved one stationed in Iraq. We’re all very proud of Aaron. I don’t know if I’ll get to see him any time this year—he missed Kris’s wedding because of basic training and we were sorry not to see him then. I hope he does as well in the next round of training. Below are some pictures Cara sent—click them to enlarge them.

Aaron McCaskey

Aaron McCaskey

Grad formation

posted by lee on 09/04/06 at 02:19 AM

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time is going by too fast

My sisters Jamie and Kelly and my niece Kristine and nephew Leo are up for the holiday weekend. We went to Harrisville today for their annual arts & crafts fair. Where Stanley and I managed to spend too much getting a small painting, a gorgeous photo, and a piece of beautiful raku pottery. And some other odds and ends I won’t mention because they’re gifts. Next week we’ll try to pick up another piece of pottery, this really beautiful stuff with detailed bugs ... that sounds awful, but it’s not.

We also got Mom a painting for her birthday—she says she likes it and I hope she does.

Leo made raspberry fudge for dessert—it was quite good. And Mom made a big pot of excellent chili for dinner.

With all the wild weather in Connecticut and record-setting winds in Norwalk, we were really worried about the trees in our yard. We already knew the power was out because Stanley’s answering machine is not on. We were working up the courage to call Raneev, our next-door neighbor, to see if there was any damage (like our tree falling on his house or something awful like that)—did we really want to know and wreck the last week of our vacation? But Raneev very kindly called us to let us know that other than a few branches down off the century-old pine tree, everything is ok. That was so nice of him and it really lightened our worry load. We already know the cellar will probably have six inches of by-then moldy water by the time we get home, but that’s much easier to deal with than a branch through the roof or on top of Stanley’s van.

The weather has been mixed here this weekend, on the cool side (which is perfect for going to an outdoor arts fair), rainy bits. Hoping tomorrow is sunnier so we can hit the beach and bake for a couple of hours (even if it’s not, Ginger likes to go and fetch her ball from the waves).

We went up to see my brother, who is staying at a cabin near Cheboygan while he works a job in Petoskey. It was really good to see him and he and his wife Debbie’s cabin is in a really pretty patch of woods, about 12 acres so no neighbors building next door to him, less than a quarter mile to a stretch of gorgeous beach on Lake Huron.

Twitch caught mouse number two. No dramatic photos this time—the creature was in mouse heaven by the time Stanley noticed there was torture going on (we were watching a movie).

We watched Hoot, which we liked a lot, and Narnia, which was too long and too boring and too sanctimonious to like. We saw Silent Hill, which was awful. And The Matador. We went to the Oscoda Theater to see Superman Returns and regretted it. I think the woman who owns the theater must pay by the decibel, because the movie volume was too low to hear properly—even Stanley had trouble, and his hearing is excellent. Besides the fact that the move was too long, too boring, and too stupid. I wanted to cut that damned spit curl off whatsisnames’ forehead. Bryan Singer let X-Men 3 get turned into a pile of turkey turd so he could direct this piece of crap movie ... it will be a long, long time before I forgive him and pay for any movies he makes in the future.

Okay, enough about movies (the local Family Video has a great selection—I wish there was one near our house!)

One more week, maybe I’ll win a little more at bingo, maybe not.

The really sad thing up here is all of the houses and cabins for sale. An unbelievable number. Blame gas prices, GM, Ford, Delphi ... this state is getting hit hard.

Stanley’s getting a great collection of freckles. And I’m starting to get a little more sane again. And I’m trying to ignore Connecticut politics (and politics in general), but I can’t help it, I need to know what’s going on. Which is what I’m going to read about now.

posted by lee on 09/04/06 at 02:00 AM

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