Leslie's Omnibus


JihadGene says, "It's Friday! Let's Dance!"

Frug, anyone?


What do you get when you put Becky, lurker/commenters Tina and Jackie D and me in the same room at Camp Blownstar as Paul, who had possession of my Flip video camera?

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I found out another blast from my childhood past is dust. Sheesh. I spent many a Saturday matinee there.

It was a delightful combination of classy and tacky.

Because I'm sick to death of murders, politics and the generally crappy things the news media shines the spotlight on, I bring you this story.

Now doesn't that make you feel better?

Finally someone with half a brain figures out that it's generally not the dog -- it's the owner:
[T]he City Council approved a dangerous dog ordinance that requires owners to: purchase liability insurance and indoor and outdoor pens; put up fences and signs; walk their dogs only if the animals are muzzled and on short leashes and in some cases, confine repeat offenders to their property.

Schulter's ordinance would get infinitely tougher.

It would impose a five-year ban on dog ownership in Chicago against any owner found guilty of ignoring the dangerous dog requirements.

And those with multiple violations over a five-year period would be barred forever from owning a dog within the city limits. Violators would face up to six months in jail. Their dogs would be seized.
Now that's more like it.

Good Lord, this reminds me of my own most precious child!

To the ladies and gentlemen of the House of Representatives who are contemplating firing up the magic money machine again, I have but one thing to say:

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

If people can't afford expensive new vehicles, they should not buy them.

certainly shouldn't have to pay for my neighbor's shiny new vehicle just because he or she wants a new one.

You Washington types want them to have nice new cars? Fine. Y'all pay for it out of your own damn pockets.

Leave mine alone.

And to those same geniuses who insist that Cap 'n Tax will save us all:
Summertime Chi? Oh brrrbrother. Try summertime shy.

The average temperature in July this year was 69.4 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. That number is computed by adding the daily average high and average low and dividing by two. The average July temperature is 73.8 degrees.

That makes it:

• • The coldest July since the recording station was moved from the lakefront in 1942.
• • Part of a three-way tie -- with 1996 and 2000 -- for second place in logging the most July days with less-than-80-degree highs. Each had 14. July 1992 was tops with 18 days.
Yep. Global warming. Now pass me my sweater.

Do you ever donate whole blood or platelets? Ever thought about doing it? Please stop thinking and call your local donor center now.


There's a critical shortage of platelets this year, because there's a critical shortage of qualified platelet donors.

What changed?

At my own donor center here in Chicago, hundreds of letters were sent out to former platelet donors letting them know they were no longer qualified because "women who have been pregnant sometimes carry antibodies that can trigger a rare, but serious reaction in a small number of transfusion recipients."

I don't know why the news media here in the U.S. doesn't seem to have picked up on this very important story.

The pool of people who can donate whole blood has been getting narrower for years, and now the pool of platelet donors is shrinking further.

At one point or another in their battles with cancer both of my parents received transfusions of both whole blood and platelets. I know just how vital they can be.

It doesn't take a lot of time. It doesn't cost you anything but time. You can give platelets far more often than you can give whole blood.

Make the call. Roll up your sleeve.

You can do it.


The Awesome.

The Awesomer.

Want to post something that will keep new people coming from all over the world to your blog's doorstep?

Post something you're proud of and get it linked by KeesKennis. (And yes, my rack has been ogled by perverts the world over, thankyouverymuch.)

Find something even stranger than your run-of-the-mill Bezoar.

Answer the "Do You Feel A Breeze?" question.

Trash a book in a beloved fantasy fiction series and get linked by Professor Bainbridge.

Take a personality test and get linked by El Capitan.

Yep. You'll get steady traffic. Strange traffic. But traffic.

Ear Worm of the Day:


Quick Stop

Okay, I was in a BAD MOOD until I ran across this.

Giggled myself silly, I did.

Gotta love those crazy Aussies!


Gah! Too many [stultifyingly boring] meetings. Big to-do list. Little time to blog. Still need to do wrap-ups of Camp BlownStar and BlogHer, and it may be the weekend before I get to those. In the meantime...

How do you feel about anonymous commenters?

Holy crap. A really good excuse for eating chocolate.

Do the idiots who are proposing this tax on food in order to battle obesity realize that the people who will be the most hurt by it are those on public assistance or low income??? The ones already having trouble affording quality food, and who are the least educated about where to get it and how to prepare it?

Enough nannying. Get out of my pantry already!

I hope the good people of Michigan are listening to what Representative Conyers has to say here:

A little too much transparency for you?

So the great beer and bushwah get together is coming up, and President Chicken Little and Little Big Mouth think it's going to be a "teachable moment."

I certainly hope the lessons learned include:
  • That it's important to express gratitude for a caring (and clearly NOT prejudiced) neighbor;
  • Zipping one's lip and listening, rather than jumping to conclusions, is prudent;
  • Assuming you are a) being treated differently, b) because you are black, and c) acting like an ass as a result, shows your own prejudices and makes what should have and could have been a quick and easy resolution of an awkward moment nearly impossible;
  • If you show your ass in public, you should also publicly apologize.
Nah. Not gonna happen.

Ear Worm of the Day:



This is great "the birds and the bees" advice not just for a teenager, but for any person of any age!

(A tip of the cap to DaGoddess!)

Why do I love my blogging friends? Because they treat me with such respect.

Giggle of the Day:

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Ear Worm of the Day (because if I have to hear it, you do, too):


In Memorium

Blogger Rachel Lucas has lost best pal Sunny. My thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family.

But, Seriously...

At BlogHer 2009, Miss Nancy and I worked diligently to be up on time, eat a good breakfast, listen attentively to the morning speakers, attend all the panels and training sessions we could fit in, reach out to sponsors (if you did, they'd give you swag, lots and lots of lovely swag) and meet many of our fellow bloggers.

We examined our blogging identities, sharpened our writing skills and clarified our blogging voices.

We think we've finally got it down.


Very serious bloggers, we. (Not to mention, classy...)

Chartered Excursion - BlogHer

3:00 p.m. -- Identity/Passions: Enough About You...Who's Reading You?

(If you come to BlogHer, get to your session EARLY in order to get a seat. Score!)

Moderated panel; how to build a fan base/community.

Do comments on your blog ever affect what or how you write?

More talk about Google Analytics. Must investigate. Search for topics of interest to post about?

Clicktale.com to see where your your readers went, what they saw. Also Google "heat map". Quantcast.com is another good resource for stats on who is reading you, what you write about.

More questions about identity. How much to reveal. How much to self-censor.

Do reader surveys if you want to know more about your readers.

Sometimes comments spur your writing, sometimes they detract from it. Only go down the path if it's your passion; not because it's the "flavor of the month."

[Personal observation: Being "authentic" on your blog does not necessarily mean spewing out every little thought or action for the internet to digest and regurgitate back at you. Either you claim your privacy boundaries and stick to them, or you risk giving over too much control to what other people think of you, instead of what you think of yourself. For me, authenticity means sticking to your own voice, your own standards, your own ethics and your own interests.]

Need to consider moving to hosted weblog, take the "blogspot" out of the blog name, to build Google juice.

If you are worried about readers being offended by a certain post, post a content warning at the top; if they're still offended, it's their problem, not yours.

Legitimate criticism is different than unreasonable criticism. Engaging is different than participating. You want legitimate criticism, and you want your readers to be engaged. Slowly built relationships bring more over time than random commenting.

One good use of Twitter is to alert your audience that you've posted.

"The Gift of Fear" about boundaries and personal blogging. "Tracking Everything" is another good source for tracking scary trolls. Take threats seriously. Report all instances.

Is it time for the Keynote yet???

1:30 p.m. -- Room of Your Own 1: Women Writing In The Age Of Britney: Pop Culture & Gossip & Feministy Stuff, Oh My

Crap. This is the only session that remotely interests me in this group, and it's so full people are sitting on the floor all around the room, up the aisles and out the door.

Fine. I needed a break anyway.

Side note: This is the first time today the free wi-fi connection has worked worth a damn. Very frustrating. Glad it's fixed.

Second side note: The best part of last night? Sitting out under the stars next to the river having cocktails with Miss Nancy, Fausta and Mamacita. We talked and laughed and had a wonderful time. (And, Denny? Your name came up... a lot!)

Third side note: The Sheraton is a lovely hotel and the beds are quite frankly gardens of sensuous delight. Getting from level to level and event to event can be frustrating, however, particularly for anyone on crutches or in a wheel chair.

Fourth side note: Get personal business cards, dammit.

1:25 p.m. -- Yay! Drop swag bags in the room, grab laptop and power cord and run for the slowest elevators on the planet again.

1:15 p.m. -- Elevator, elevator, where in the hell ARE you elevator? Argh! Four elevators in the bank for our room and every one is stopping at every floor on the way up and on the way down.

Noon to 1:15 p.m. -- Skipped lunch and hit all the vendors in the exhibition hall with Miss Nancy. Since she's in a wheel chair, I'm carrying swag for two... and my arms are two feet longer by the time we finally make it through all the vendors. These people seriously get that women are their target market, and they practically throw all sorts of cool stuff at us. I'm going to need a hand truck to get it all home...

11:00 a.m. The Business of You – Advanced Social Media, Syndication and Stats

Quick Notes:

The room is packed!

Need to find out where traffic is coming from; who your audience is; what tools they are using. Helps give clarity and direction to your content.

How do you pick? Which are best? Twitter, Facebook, Friendster, Curtsy.

Look at demographics, content, their social profiles.

Digg doesn’t really perform well for BlogHer; Digg more for straight technology, politics.

Stumbled Upon, Digg, – hard to find demographics, etc.? Niche? Pay attention to what content is popular. Psychographics. Stumble is random, a discovery engine. Has to be used a lot to for Stumble to discover your own preferences. Don’t Stumble your own content very often. Be choosy.

Post Rank – how do you track where your community takes your content and what they do with it?

Ego feed – set up Google Alerts. (Set up for work!!!)

Bit.li.com – create account; add your URL, gives you short URL, tracks clicks.

Tracking – “Google is your friend.” Yahoo pipe application to track Stumbles, Diggs. Feedburner for tracking RSS feeds. Friendfeed.

Do Google search for “social submission tracking”.

Be very careful about intentionally gaming the system. If you’re caught, most uncool.

(Bluehost.com – great hosting service; phone always answered by a real person.)

Tweets pointing to blog posts, articles, upcoming conferences, speeches, etc.

Facebook fan pages a good idea for branding. Good for sending content without having to friend and have friend comments on your page.

Quantcast.com? Not needed for personal blog. Must be in top 25,000 sites for any metrics to be useful. Very general.

80/20 rule – 80% conversation; 20% promotion.

Here's what I want more of next year: A list of all the different social media sites and their functions. The discussion assumed everyone in the room knew all about and use all these forms of social media, rather than recognizing that a lot of us were there because we don't know much and are hungry for more information. Argh!

9:30 a.m. -- Keynote Speakers

Holy crap. The very nice "Tina" I was talking to yesterday after the Room of Her Own session? Tina Brown of The Daily Beast! Good thing I didn't put it together at the time, as she was very, very nice.

Chartered Excursion - BlogHer

2:45 -- Room of Your Own Session -- Blogging Identities and YOU

Building our internet persona; how much to reveal/conceal.

Yay! Tanis is on the panel with Janet and Anissa. Tanis talks about how brutal having her real identity exposed was. Janet talks about why she continues to blog anonymously. Anissa talks about how she did the opposite and blogged openly about her child's cancer treatment, family, etc. Her Twitter persona is much different than her blog persona. Recently retired her family blog and started a new blog, more open, but less self-edited.

Long discussion of what to consider and the effects of how much or how little of yourself to put out in your blog.

1:15 p.m. -- Leadership Session led by Katie Ornstein of the OpEd Project. Current published OpEd punditry runs 85% male. http://www.theopedproject.org.

1. How do you establish credibility? Morning session.

Define OpEd -- An argument by an expert that's backed up by evidence that's timely and of public value.

Common sense trumps everything. If you have a better way, do it your way. This is not a formula; it's a tool kit.

Good arguments begin with a LEDE. A provocative quote or statistic, a colorful picture or quote, an attention-grabber.

Back up a lede with a news hook; must be timely. Things in the news; things that are NOT in the news, but could or should be; holiday or seasonal;historical events or anniversaries; trends (independent instances = journalistic trend); release of new data. Answers the question, "Why now?" Timing is everything.

Cultivate an approach that's creative and flexible to dramatically expand the window of your relevance.sion

Thesis -- A statement of your argument.

Argument -- Evidence and conclusion given in 3 points. 3 seems to be a magic number.

What constitutes good evidence? statistics; anecdotes/examples; quotes by experts or witnesses; studies/research results; credible news/events/trends; surveys; historical occurences; personal experience; logic.

Contribution-driven argument? An "aha" point of view. More interest; better perspective.

"To Be Sure" Paragraph -- Acknowledge the oposition's case. Fairness; more researched, educating; anticpate and answer "yes, but's." Dismiss or acknowledge validity of other arguments. Trumping counter-arguments. Personal caveats. Can also come up at the lede or the news hook. Use strategically.

Ask yourself if you care more about whether you are right, or if you are effective in persuading your audience. Show empathy and respect for an opinion that you don't share when using this if you wish to gain the most traction with your readers.

Conclusion loops back to the beginning; can also include a call to action. This is where solutions should be offered -- make them specific and doable.

Noon -- Fantastic lunch put on by Ragu -- loads of salads, chicken parm, a vegetarian rice dish, deep dish pizza, Italian cookies and chocolate chip canoli. (The Princess Mom would have waved the royal scepter in approval.) Free recipes, coupons and more goodies.

Miss Nancy arrived, and negotiating around the hotel has been a bit rough for her. Doorways too narrow, carpeting causing drag, no designated handicap seating in the dining areas -- stinks with a wheelchair. We'll get by, though.

Chartered Excursion - BlogHer

10:30 a.m. -- Leadership session -- Owning Your Expertise. Leader stared the OpEd Project. Really empowering session on identifying your expertise, being able to articulate it, and how to validate it by identifying your credentials. Amazing group of women in this session.

10:00 a.m. -- Estrogen overload. Already. The energy in this place could power the city for a day. Met

9:30 a.m. -- Opening remarks done, ice-breaker starting.

9:15 a.m. -- More table companions -- Velma Smedding, Karl Erickson and Grace Davis.

8:50 a.m. and I'm sitting at a table with Mamacita and Fausta, Anne Collier and AKA Monty. Huh. Who'da thunk it?

Crappy coffee in the hotel room. It says Starbucks, but I know dirty sock water when I see it and smell it. Much mo bettah Starbucks in the lobby for brekkie.

More to come...

Quick Stop

Jackie D wants me to show you my boots. Here you go...

Invisible cowboy boots!

(11th Street Cowboy Bar, Bandera, TX)


Enough is enough. Do you really want a guy who:

1) knows more about whether or not your tonsils should come out than your physician does; and,
2) knows more about the state of your heart and the kind of treatment you should have than your physician does;

in charge of your health care? Do you?

And while we're on the subject of President Chicken Little showing his ass, he speaks with authority on something he wasn't even there to witness.

Suzette's point here is well taken -- sometimes it's a good thing to just shut your mouth.

But here's the elephant in the room everybody else is dancing around: Why in the name of all that's holy didn't Henry Louis Gates, Jr. thank the police for coming to make sure that all was okay and that no one was breaking into his house and that both his property and his person were safe, instead of acting like the anti-white racist that he certainly is and crying, "The nasty ol' white poh-leese is agin' me becuz I'ze a black man livin' in a white man's world!"

He should be thanking his lucky stars he has a neighbor who cares enough to call the police when he or she thinks a neighbor's house is being broken into. And he should be really thankful that the police showed up promptly to what they had every reason to believe was a break-in in progress.

You can bet your sweet ass the boys in blue won't be so quick to respond to that address in the future, no matter what the danger to the occupant or his property.

And Chicken Little should keep his nose out if it. Period. (Well, unless he wants to acknowledge that the boys in blue were just doing their jobs and his friend is indeed a racist asshole. In that case... nah. It'll never happen.)

As a happy carnivore, I have just one question: How do I get the government to stick a warning label on vegans? They're a danger to themselves, let alone to the rest of the population.

Got a kid in sports? Please, please, please have them read this open letter from former White Sox pitcher Jim Parque. Then discuss it together, because -- believe me -- there's a whole lot there to discuss.

Oooh! Garlic Chicken with Bacon & Brie? Yummy!

Ear Worm of the Day:

The Angry Young Man
Music and Lyrics, Billy Joel

There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost,
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

Give a moment or two to the angry young man,
With his foot in his mouth and his heart in his hand.
He's been stabbed in the back, he's been misunderstood,
It's a comfort to know his intentions are good.
And he sits in a room with a lock on the door,
With his maps and his medals laid out on the floor-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.

I believe I've passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

And there's always a place for the angry young man,
With his fist in the air and his head in the sand.
And he's never been able to learn from mistakes,
So he can't understand why his heart always breaks.
But his honor is pure and his courage as well,
And he's fair and he's true and he's boring as hell-
And he'll go to the grave as an angry old man.

(synthesizer solo)

There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost,
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.


P.S. -- Go visit Allen. I'm giving him the last word today.

Quick Stop

Hee hee hee! From the Chicago Tribune:
2 men charged in beauty pageant beating


Two men -- at least one of whom was a contestant in a beauty pageant -- were charged early Wednesday with using a trophy to beat a judge because they allegedly did not like his vote in the West Side competition earlier this month.

The attack left the judge with his jaw broken in three places and a gash on his forehead.

Leroy Tinch, 28, of the 2200 block of Emerson Street in Evanston, and Anthony Johnson, 23, of the 8200 block of Keating Avenue in Skokie, were each charged early Wednesday with felony aggravated battery, according to Rogers Park District police Lt. John Franklin.

Police responded at 4:55 a.m. July 6 to a call of a person with a knife at a beauty pageant at the 5th City Center at 3350 W. Jackson Blvd., the lieutenant said.

Officers learned Johnson allegedly struck judge Sebastian Latta, 37, of Baltimore, Md., with a trophy -- shattering his jaw in three places. Latta was initially taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and his jaw remained wired shut Wednesday morning, Franklin said.

Latta told a responding officer, “Apparently, I must have voted for the wrong person,” the officer said.

Tinch, who resembles a woman and appears to have breast implants, was likely the one competing and probably did not win the trophy used in the attack, Franklin said.

Tinch, who has a tattoo of “paw prints” on his chest, also allegedly slashed Latta across the forehead with an unidentified edged instrument, according to Franklin.

“They said they didn’t like the way he [Latta] judged one of them in the pageants,” Franklin said.

Rogers Park District police officer Jennifer Caputo arrested Tinch at 2:40 a.m. Tuesday after she spotted him in the 7100 block of North Clark Street. Johnson surrendered to police at 11 p.m. Tuesday at the Rogers Park District police station, the lieutenant said.

“She [Caputo] did a great job spotting the offender and bringing him in,” Franklin said.

Harrison Area Detective Vincent Alonzo was assigned the case the night of the incident, and he and his partner, Russell Egan, were being lauded their work.

“They did an excellent job putting the case together,” Franklin said.

No other suspects are being sought in the case.
Just how many ways can you dance around saying "Drag Queen Beauty Pageant"???

This brings to mind the time I was seated in the back of a bus going down Michigan right around Christmas time a few years ago. Seated immediately in front of me were two slender young Asian men displaying a dramatic lightness of the loafers.

They were in a spirited discussion about the drag queen pageant they'd been in the night before, comparing notes on everything from wigs to gowns to makeup to cleavage. Each complimented the other on his (her?) fashion sense, costume and musical choices.

Then they got around to the other contestants and the claws came out.

I stifled my giggles until I heard, "Oooooooooooooh, that bitch Ramon! We HATE her!"

They heard my peal of laughter all the way up in the front of the bus.

There is no one on earth more competitive or vindictive than a pissed off drag queen.


Think you're helping the homeless when you give a panhandler money?
Though their signs say they're homeless, few panhandlers seem to sleep outside. Most make at least enough for a can of beer, a piece of chicken and a cheap motel room. The typical daily take falls between $60 and $100.

Couch and Saldana say they each collect about $80 a day, more than they would make flipping burgers or stocking shelves. They don't have to punch a clock, ask for a lunch break or pay taxes. "A while back, a woman gave us $400," Couch said. "Tell me where you can make that in a day."
The rimshot?
He insists he's not panhandling. "I'm not asking for nothing. I'm just holding a sign."

So what does he call it? He laughs.

"Making money."
Just so you know where your hard-earned cash is going.

There's a wonderful article on the three urban myths of healthcare reform here. Just go read.

Created by LPUK

To be a liberal basically means you believe in individual freedom. And that you accept the responsibilities that this entails.
If that's Liberal, I guess I am one, indeed...

(A tip of the cap to Allen.)

Mitch McConnell on why he'll be voting "NO" on Sotomayor:
This is the real-world effect of the empathy standard. If the judge has it for you, great. But if she has it for the other guy, not so good. That’s why you can call this new standard a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call it justice.

Judge Sotomayor’s record on the Second Circuit is troubling enough. But, as I’ve noted, at least on the Circuit Court, there’s a backstop. Her cases can be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This meant that in the Ricci case, for example, the firefighters whose promotions were unfairly denied could appeal the decision. Fortunately for them, the Supreme Court sided with them over Judge Sotomayor. If, however, Judge Sotomayor were to become a Supreme Court Justice, her rulings would be final. She’d be unencumbered by the obligation of lower court judges to follow precedent. She could act more freely on the kinds of views that animated her troubling and legally incorrect ruling in the Ricci case. That’s not a chance I’m willing to take.
Jog on over to Marathon Pundit and read the whole thing.

Giggles of the Day:

- A reminder of my first Blownstar Blogmeet down in Austin, TX:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

#2 - Note to CD:

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

Ear Worm of the Day (for my Blownstar Buddies):


Camp Blownstar 2009 wrap-up coming soon!

Camp Blownstar 2009

Before Allen lynches me, here are the goodies from our night of honky tonkin':

The stage the the 11th Street Cowboy Bar:

Dale Watson with Allen...

... Georgia...

... and yours truly!

(Yes, you can see the hat. Photos of the infamous boots come later!)

And now, for a little honky tonkin' music:

Enjoy! (More good stuff later! And thank you, Allen, for getting my Yankee butt out on the dance floor!)

Camp Blownstar 2009

Allen and Denny find lots of ways...

... to amuse themselves and us.

(Photos courtesy of JackieD, who comments, but doesn't blog... yet.)

They also made some mighty fine music:

Wouldn't want you to feel like you missed out!


Update: The criplets send you a triple cannonball:


Take Three - Part 2

Remember the challenge? I'm throwing this up at the top of the page, and will update from beautiful Bandera, the Cowboy Capital of the World, as the tales from KNine, AD and Eric come tripping in over the transom. (And I believe Miss Nancy should finally be posting her entry from Part 1.)

Mr. Debonnaire Hizownself has jumped to the head of the queue with a rollicking tale of poker and punnery.

Miss Nancy has posted her opus from Part 1. It's a beauty -- Summer Ice. Go read!

This just in from Eric, who fulfills the Part 1 challenge (I'm so confused!!!):
Carl eased himself up into the seat of his old pickup truck, and eyed the boy cautiously.

“Here, big guy,” he laughed, “this is the best buckshot this side of town.” He tossed the blue Wal-Mart bag onto Nathan’s lap and reached for the handle to roll down the window. The July heat was stifling at midday.

The young man remained silent and scuffed the dusty floorboard with the soles of his sneakers for a moment. “I’ve never been hunting before, Grandpa. It’s too hot anyway, are you sure we should go?” The smell of the hot parking lot asphalt filled the old farm truck as the window slowly cranked down.

“This’ll be fun, boy, you just wait and see.” Carl looked down and fumbled with the key ring. “Good lord, your Father and I must have done this a thousand times back when he was little. I guess it is high-time that I clue you in on some of the things your ole Dad enjoyed.”

The boy leaned back in the seat and pulled the blue plastic bag closer to his chest. His head turned towards the window as the old Ford chugged its way onto highway 411 for its journey to the countryside.

“What was it like when you were in the army, Grandpa?”

Carl checked his view in the rear view mirror and fished out a Zippo from his pocket before he answered. “It was different from now, I suppose, but probably a lot the same, too. Our people have always served, son. My Grandfather was in the second wave that attacked the Hindenburg Line. Dad nearly froze to death in Belgium in ’44. I spent Vietnam repairing jeeps in DaNang, myself. Your Daddy’s war, though, it is different than those that the rest of us fought.”

“How old was Daddy when you were in Vietnam?”

“Well, son, he hadn’t been born just yet.”

“I was just two when he went to Afghanistan.”

Carl lit his cigarette just before the road split at the 3-Point market near Hiwassee. “Nathan, did you know that I was there the day that you were born? It was a Saturday. Big Nathan, your Father, had called us while we were having breakfast, and I will never forget how excited your Grandmother was when she put the phone down. The whole drive down to Cleveland she kept rubbing her hands together and saying, ‘Nana’s going to be a Daddy!’ All I kept thinking was ‘Moments like this make me very, very nervous.’”

Nathan thumbed the plastic bag quietly while Carl swept the old Ford around country curve after country curve.

“Why she kept insisting on calling your Pa ‘Nana’ even when he was a grown, married man, I’ll never know.”

“Do we really have to do this, Grandpa? I’d really rather just go back home.”

Carl slowed the truck and eased it onto the grassy shoulder of the road. “Nonsense, boy, we’re here anyway. And your Grandmother will be very good company for your Mother while we have some fun today with nature.”

Nathan crunched the warm plastic of the bag and looked out the window towards the weathered barn. “I hate nature… and Wal-Mart.”, he mumbled.

The old man squeaked the rusty door open and reached behind the seat for the shotgun. “Nathan, son, I can understand you hating Wal-Mart, hell, who doesn’t? But you’ve got a lot to learn about nature. How on earth can a grandson of mine say that he hates ‘nature’?”

“Granddad, I hate it. It’s hot, dusty, and we’re off to sit in a hayloft in the middle of nowhere to wait on some coyote that likes the taste of Grandma’s chickens?“

Carl laughed and cleared his throat. “Well, my boy, I do see your point. However, there is a time and a place for everything. And today just happens to be time for you and me to hunker down in a hayloft and wait for a coyote that likes her chickens a little too well.”

Nathan slid the box of shotgun shells out of the blue plastic bag and handed them to his Grandfather.

“Don’t slam the door, boy. Don’t even shut it. If that old scoundrel is anywhere nearby, he’ll hear.”

The two made their way down the path towards the barn. Years of tractor traffic had worn smooth two brown strips that snaked across the field from gate to barn like a welcoming home

The sunlight baked them as they made their way across the rolling pasture. The little boy wiped the sweat from his forehead as he and his Grandfather silently walked the tractor trail. As they neared the ancient barn, Carl slowed, stopped, and bent down to the boy and gripped his shoulder. “Nature is everywhere, boy. Every blade of grass, every breath that you breathe every sip of cool water that you enjoy when you’re thirsty – Nature is Life, Nathan. We are Nature. Even when you’re playing that Guitar Hero thing, you are still immersed in nature – from the movement of your fingers, to how your eyes and ears follow the colors and sounds. Don’t ever tell me again that you hate nature, son. To hate nature is to hate being alive. Now, be quiet, and help me with this ladder. You hold the shotgun, and I’ll climb up first.”

The air in the hayloft was hot and heavy with the sweet smell of last year’s hay, and a faint buzzing kept the two company as they lay peering out towards the tree line. Bumblebees had nested in a pile of the loose hay in the corner of the barn.

Carl eyed his sweating grandson and smiled. “The last time your Father was home on leave, he and I came out here to try to bag that old coyote. The Infantry hadn’t been enough for your Pa. He arrived here with orders for Fort Bragg. As your Grandma often tells the ladies at church, ‘that’s when Nana went commando’.

The next group of three sentences will be published a week from this Friday, as I don't expect to be in any shape to be creative over the next three days... although I should find wonderful inspiration among the Blownstar campers!

DaGoddess and El Capitan will be the next intrepids, but I could use a couple more. I'm thinking maybe Teresa... or crankylitprof... or Velocidaddy... or Pammy... or maybe you can be sweet-talked into this?

Remember, I've still got a twist coming up at the end!

Camp Blownstar 2009

Scenes from Camp Blownstar...

The Man Cave, where I'm also hanging my hat:

What was my first clue it's a Man Cave?

Why do you Axe?

The scene of high crimes and misdemeanors:

Home of the world's biggest brisket:

Itty bitty guest lodgings:

Casa de las Chicas:

Mild life:

And wildlife...

Wish you were here!

Camp Blownstar 2009

Hammer is making breakfast...

... while Kerrcarto is prepping...

... the world's biggest brisket...

... for the smoker. A girl could get used to this...

Update: Famous last words? "I ain't doin' no more shots!" It hasn't even been 24 hours yet...

JihadGene says, "It's Friday! Let's Dance!" Alrighty then. How 'bout a little Texas Twist?


Camp Blownstar 2009

I've often said that Camp Blownstar is like camp for grown-ups. Here's what I woke up to find outside my cabin door this morning:

I'm not so sure about that grown-up part...


Kerrcarto wanted proof that it really wasn't him:

And Allen says:


Update 2: The havoc continues. Go read the labels...


I'm Bandera-bound for Camp Blownstar in the morning. I suspect by Friday morning, we'll all be looking a bit like this:

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

(At least CharlieDelta and Paul will be, if last year was any indication!)

The answer is not "no." It's "Fuck, NO!"


If I wasn't wildly enamored of a certain Swoon at the moment, I could fall truly, madly, deeply in love with this guy:

I can't wait for the second song!

Giggle of the Day

And you wonder why I love med-bloggers so?

It'll be no surprise to Rachel Lucas to find out that it's been scientifically proven that cats do control their humans.

(A tip of the cap to Big Dick.)

Ear Worm of the Day, because I plan to go all redneck on myself for the next couple of days:

See y'all soon!


For whomever it was who googled on "leslie arrested austin tx," the opperative word is ALMOST.


Can I have one of these for the next office meeting I have to attend? Pretty please?

Number one with a bullet on the list of Stupid Things Uttered in 2009:
Many residents of Grand Beach -- including those who commute from Chicago for weekend and summer stays -- said they weren't scared. They continued to keep their doors unlocked and taking walks up and down the quiet streets. Many residents use golf carts to get around.

"If anything happens, the police are here," said a neighbor approaching 80 who lives across the street from where the Chicago police officer captured one of the three escapees.

She suggested the remaining two men on the run wouldn't come out during the day anyway and likely would find a boat nearby and cruise away.
An escaped convicted murderer and a convicted rapist are running around in your neck of the woods and you continue to keep your doors unlocked?

Somebody hand me a cluebat, will you?

More on the Burr Oak cemetery scandal here. Honestly, I think there are very few black families in Chicago that aren't affected by this, including my own office receptionist's.

(Oddly, she has no use for Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, and was heard muttering something about money-grubbing attention whores...)

Giggle of the Day:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Ear Worm of the Day:


Three Quick Blogthings:

You Love Being Single

In general, you're very happy being single.

You like doing your own thing, and you're happy not to have to compromise.

You're not opposed to being attached, but you're not going to settle.

Someone else should your enhance your life, and you're happy to wait for that person.


You Are Picky When it Counts

Like most sane women, you want a great guy who will treat you well.

But you're also willing to put up with a few flaws in your Mr. Right

You should congratulate yourself on having a realistic approach to dating.

You probably have quite a few great guys you can date! [But only one I'm interested in at the moment!]


You Communicate With Your Body

This isn't as bad as it sounds, it just means that you're a "touchy-feely" person.

You need a lot of affection in your life. And for you, this means both giving and receiving little touches.

Warm hearted, you bond with people easily. In fact, you often feel a little sad when you're not in the company of others.

A little moody, you tend to be controlled by your emotions. But a bit hug always comforts you!



Think Cap & Trade is a good idea? Well, then... let's just see how well it's working in Austin, TX:

Austin Energy officials say that times have changed and that the nation's most successful (by volume of sales) green-energy program, which offers the renewable energy only to those who select it, might no longer be the best way to carry out the city's goals. It now costs almost three times more than the standard electricity rate.

"I think it's time to sit back and look at the philosophy behind GreenChoice," said Roger Duncan, the head of Austin Energy and the chief architect of GreenChoice.

Ya think???

Here's another downright scary story:
Climbing into his Volvo, outfitted with a Matrics antenna and a Motorola reader he'd bought on eBay for $190, Chris Paget cruised the streets of San Francisco with this objective: To read the identity cards of strangers, wirelessly, without ever leaving his car.

It took him 20 minutes to strike hacker's gold.

Zipping past Fisherman's Wharf, his scanner downloaded to his laptop the unique serial numbers of two pedestrians' electronic U.S. passport cards embedded with radio frequency identification, or RFID, tags. Within an hour, he'd "skimmed" four more of the new, microchipped PASS cards from a distance of 20 feet.
Fortunately, I still carry a regular U.S. Passport, not the card. I hate Big Brother...

Well, heck! Even The Princess Mom knew this. (And she must have felt an awful lot of pain, psychic or otherwise, when she was driving, because she was at her most prolific and inventive then.

Giggle of the Day:

funny pictures of dogs with captions
see more dog and puppy pictures

Weather Report

I'm so damned sunny lately that I've had barf bag pockets installed on every seat on the bus. They're all yours, free of charge:

Ah, yes! Miss Donna Fargo and I are on the same page today.

And if that isn't bad enough, I get to be escorted from San Antonio to Bandera for Camp Blownstar by all three of the Criplets.

That means that not only will my face be aching from the non-stop smiling I've been doing lately, but my ribs will be killing me from laughter.

Honestly, if I could bottle and sell my recent bubbly happy, I'd make a fortune.

Drive-Thru Window

In an ongoing bit of life imitating art (or art imitating life), I stopped at McDonald's and ordered a Happy Meal yesterday, because I was hungry and happy. What toy did I get?

Now I just have to get one of these...

Yeah. It's a little bit like that.

Startin' the Engine

Bounced out of bed and did one of these this morning:

Yes. All my friends are giving me funny looks like that, too.

Roll Down the Windows...

... and turn up the radio.

Ear Worm of the Day?



If JihadGene weren't on sabbatical, he'd say, "It's Friday! Let's Dance!"

I promised him I'd keep up the dance party.

Alrighty then:

Now wasn't that helpful? Okay, now with music (and watch for the guy in the yellow shirt; he's clearly a Yankee):


Jimbo is channeling Madam Speaker again. Hysterical!

Somehow or other this brings the phrase "death grip" to mind...

Giggle of the Day:

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

As far as I'm concerned, you can never have enough horsemen.

I have the power! (Now I want the tiara that damned well should go with it.)

Now here's a little blast from my past! Long gone, but not forgotten.

Take Three - Part 2

Remember the challenge?
I send you three sentences. You write 1,000 words in any format you choose -- short story, essay, poetry, screenplay, news article. You must use all three sentences. The twist is that you can use them anywhere you want in the story, as long as all three sentences appear somewhere within your 1,000 words.

I'll select four writers at a time, posting the challenge sentences on Friday, with the 1,000 words due the following Friday.
This week's sentences?
A “charity mugger” swinging a clipboard like a weapon and a wearing a determined set to her jaw came barreling down the street in my direction.

Of course, that’s not action.

The guy was just a twitching loon who needed to be locked up before he hurt himself, much less anybody else.
And since last week we heard from the ladies, this week I'm punting this out to the gents:

Ambulance Driver

Have at it, fellas!


Giggle of the Day

Just try and keep a straight face!

Never ever piss off an artist with a guitar, a video camera and access to YouTube:

(And I'll be looking for more music from Sons of Maxwell. I love people with a sense of mischief and a thirst for justice.)

This story is just horrible on all sorts of levels:
At one time, Burr Oak Cemetery was the only place black Chicagoans were sure they could bury their dead.

But on Wednesday, the historic African-American cemetery became the site of a horror story.

As many as 100 human bodies — someone’s grandfather, grandmother, father, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew cousin or friend — were removed from their graves and the plots resold....
My heart goes out to the families of all whose graves were desecrated and whose bodies were dumped.

Hey, Nancy! I think we should go see the Ledge when you're in town. What do you think? (Personally, I think I'm wearing slacks instead of a skirt if we do...)

Giggle of the Day, Part 2:

patrick stewart
see more Lol Celebs


If you happen to see a happy bustle in my hedgerow, don't be alarmed, now:

Spirits of the past....

And I can't stop grinning:


Bangs Head...

... repeatedly on the steering wheel.

I've got a vicious ear worm running through my head, and I can't remember the composer or the name of the damned thing!

Anyone who's ever sung in a high school concert choir will know this. Help a girl out, will ya?
Requiem For The Masses lyrics
Terry Kirkman)
Requiem aeternam, requiem aeternam

Mama, mama, forget your pies
Have faith they won't get cold
And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
Your flag is flying full
At half mast, for the matadors
Who turned their backs to please the crowd
And all fell before the bull

Red was the color of his blood flowing thin
Pallid white was the color of his lifeless skin
Blue was the color of the morning sky
He saw looking up from the ground where he died
It was the last thing ever seen by him

Kyrie Eleison
Mama, mama, forget your pies
Have faith they won't get cold
And turn your eyes to the bloodshot sky
Your flag is flying full
At half mast, for the matadors
Who turned their backs to please the crowd
And fell before the bull

Black and white were the figures that recorded him
Black and white was the newsprint he was mentioned in
Black and white was the question that so bothered him
He never asked, he was taught not to ask
BUt was on his lips as they buried him

Rex tremendae majestatis
Requiem aeternam, Requiem aeternam
Arghhhhhhhhh!!! Make it stop!

Update: God bless Jerry Wiley! I was going a little nuts there for a while.

Beautiful. (But try getting it stuck in your head for hours!)

Tootin' the Horn

Who'd have imagined?

P.S. I bought myself a little blogiversary gift. Fitting.

Checking the Mirrors

Tomorrow will be my five year blogiversary, so it's fitting, I think, that I stumbled over Laura McKenna's post on Blogging 2.0 on the same day that JihadGene first said he was quitting, saw the light and stuck a "gone fishin'" sign on his blog. Change is the most certain thing you can count on, especially when it comes to technology.

Since I recently got active on Facebook (I had a page for yonks, but never sent a friend request), explored LinkedIn and Twitter as potential marketing tools for the company I work for, I've had a couple of weeks to chew on the differences and come to the conclusion that...

... first and foremost, I am a blogger. I'd shutter my Facebook page in a second if I had to choose between the two.

I'm already noticing that I need to spend less time on Facebook and more time on the Omnibus if I want to keep my brain really agile. Hatchlings, pillow fights, mafia wars, etc. are addictive if you're even a tad bit OCD (and I am) -- it's easy and mindless. The great limitation of Facebook, to me, is that it's dialog limited to people you already know.

Twitter doesn't work for me either, because I think in paragraphs, not in limited number of characters. It's info for the ADHD of the internet world -- quick, easily digestible and doesn't require a great deal of thought to whip off. Yes, it's a great source of quick news -- but for depth of thought, give me a long, chewy blog post any time.

But the real beauty of blogging, to me, is that it was and is unlimited in who and what you might touch if you're out there.

In looking back, I started reading business blogs that related to my job. In the aftermath of 9/11 I tripped over the war bloggers and political bloggers who were reporting the second Gulf War information faster and better than the mainstream media was able. Instapundit, Blackfive when it was only Matt Burden blogging, A Small Victory (now defunct) and the Winds of Change were daily sources of fact and opinion that I gobbled up greedily.

Through Glenn Reynolds' blogroll, I discovered opinion, wit and dialog the likes of which I'd never find in books or newspapers or magazines. Bloggers like the incomparable Acidman (may he rest in peace) set my imagination on fire. And through his blogroll, I discovered humor, pathos, carnivals, trolls, bile, bickering, bantering and mind-boggling mental gymnastics -- and I jumped headfirst into the pool, first leaving comments, and later starting my own blog.

For over a year I tossed up post after post without a site meter... because I am a technotard and I didn't know why I needed one, where to get one or how to install one. I linked left and right, and the only time I ever knew that there was anyone out there was the occasional comment. Eventually, I learned what a template is, how to update it, installed a site meter and added a blogroll. Eventually I signed up for the Ecosystem and learned how to use Technorati.

In the meantime, I kept writing about anything and everything that caught my fancy -- links, jokes, humorous anecdotes, stories, politics, family, cats, news items, flinging post-in-a-bottle after post-in-a-bottle out into the blogosphere.

And a funny thing happened. People started linking me back. I made friends, some of whom have grown quite dear. I've drifted away from many of the blogs that I started out reading, and into new ones. Maybe their interests changed or maybe mine did. Some just plain quit and disappeared from sight. At least one significant influence died. I've met more people from more places than I ever thought possible, attended a bunch of blogmeets, and helped to organize two right here in the Chicago area. That simply would not have happened with Facebook. I can't imagine my life without some of these friends.

Change happens; you embrace it or you don't.

I don't have the readership of an Instapundit, and I never will. That's not why I started this crazy blogging thing in the first place. I won't wedge myself into a niche; that's not who I am.


Any idiot with a computer can start a blog. Sustaining one, however, takes a certain kind of hard-headed perseverance that not everybody has. (And I wonder if some of those folks who pigeonhole themselves don't eventually get tired of blogging precisely because they have limited their content.)

Being particularly mule-headed myself, if you come back years from now, you'll still find me flinging love notes in a bottle out into the internet.

I am a blogger.

P.S. -- I've never been paid for blogging. That's not my measure of success. If you're reading this, I'm a success. Thanks!