coming up for air

First, thank you to Candy for the birthday wishes. I did put photos up from the party--they're here. Have a zillion more to get processed and up -- sooner or later.

Been busy busy busy. Launched Westport Benefits Group a couple of weeks ago and have more to add to that site. Working on Time and Timing, which is scheduled to launch very soon. Also working on another huge site, which I had hoped would have launched by now but it has mushroomed a bit. Need to launch a placeholder page for an artist. And more. Feeling very overwhelmed, but mainly because I have this nasty cold that makes me feel like I'm encased in cotton and very stupid. But the cold will be over soon. And I love the stuff I'm working on now, so that helps.

My youngest sister bought a tiny house in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. I guess you would call it a starter house. It's a nice, solid house built in, I think she said, 1928. Two bedrooms, one bathroom. Stanley and I stayed with her the week we went to Michigan for my parents' golden anniversary shindig. So, it was a tiny house filled with my sister, her son, Stanley, me, two dogs, and three cats. One of the cats loomed larger than life. My father named it Uday, as in Saddam Hussein's evil son, because the cat is vicious. A beautiful cat, but the meanest creature I've ever encountered.

Cat Two is my nephew Brian's kitten Little Bit. Little Bit is tiny, yet ferocious. When our golden retriever got too close to Little Bit, the silly little kitten hissed at the dog and tried to swat it away. After my dad's birthday party, we had leftover prime rib, green beans, and carrots -- I had set the box down on the counter for a few minutes. Little Bit attacked the box, getting it open, and gobbled the green beans, most of the carrots, and then began working on the prime rib. It was amazing to see this little thing go to work:


My sister has a wonderful bedroom. It's lavender and very restful. One evening all of the cats and Stanley disappeared, so I went looking for them. Here you can't see the third cat, Uday, but he is also in here:


Below is a picture of my nieces. Kate is on the left, and Kristine on the right. It was great to see them hanging out -- Kate lives near Boston and Kristine lives near Detroit, so it's rare that they're together. Kristine is in college majoring in , I think, criminal justice. Kate is in high school majoring in getting through high school. She'll be 16 on the Winter Solstice, which means she can learn how to drive, which makes me very, very nervous.



Kristine is engaged to Matthew. Matt is in the Michigan Air National Guard and currently stationed in Iraq, in Baghdad. He was home on leave in October for a too brief couple of weeks. We're hoping he'll get to come home in February, if not sooner, since that will be about a year he's been deployed Kris is nervous that they'll extend his stay. This is a picture of them on his last day of leave, taken by Matt's parents.

Back to work ... after "ER," anyway.

Well, maybe back to work tomorrow. Watched "ER," -- I think I've seen every episode of this series. Carter doesn't seem to be grieving too much any more over his now-departed back to Africa girlfriend. This show jumped the shark such a long time ago I'm amazed it's still on. Now the war is on Nightline. We need to see more of the war during Prime Time, maybe it'll get real again.


Salon had an interesting though disheartening article, "The New Pentagon Paper," about what it is we're not doing re: the war on terror. A Pentagon committee released a report about it all in September, but somehow, it's just getting out now.

"There is no yearning-to-be-liberated-by-the-U.S. groundswell among Muslim societies -- except to be liberated perhaps from what they see as apostate tyrannies that the U.S. so determinedly promotes and defends. (Original emphasis.)" Rhetoric about freedom is received as "no more than self-serving hypocrisy," daily highlighted by the U.S. occupation in Iraq. "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies." The "dramatic narrative since 9/11" of the "war on terrorism," Bush's grand justification, his story line connecting all the dots from the World Trade Center to Baghdad, has "borne out the entire radical Islamist bill of particulars." As a result, jihadists have been able to transform themselves from marginal figures in the Muslim world into defenders against invasion and attack with a growing following of millions.

"Thus," the report concludes, "the critical problem in American public diplomacy directed toward the Muslim World is not one of 'dissemination of information,' or even one of crafting and delivering the 'right' message. Rather, it is a fundamental problem of credibility. Simply, there is none -- the United States today is without a working channel of communication to the world of Muslims and of Islam. Inevitably therefore, whatever Americans do and say only serves the party that has both the message and the 'loud and clear' channel: the enemy."

If I remember, I will upload the report, which is named "Report of the
Defense Science Board Task Force on Strategic Communication," and published in September 2004, but until then you can get it from the Pentagon website.

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