Happy New Year!

Headed to a party over at sagefool and head chica's house tonight. She's been prepping since yesterday for this year's theme---fondue! I've got to get moving today so I can get there by 9pm, but I hope you all have a happy and *safe* New Year's Eve and a very happy New Year.

My resolution this year is strategically planned. I am going to make better choices. Instead of getting all specific and saying I'm going to quit smoking, excercise regularly, eat better, etc, I'm going to just commmit to making better choices so it's harder to break my resolution. That way I can stick with my resolution longer and perhaps turn it into a lifestyle instead of a resolution.

We'll see how it works.... Usually, I make very specific resolutions but when I break them, I never go back. I'm hoping this year will be different.

Any resolutions for you this year?


WSOP Tournament of Champions on New Year's Eve

If you are a fan of poker, you might want to set your DVR/VCR to record the re-run of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions scheduled for this Saturday night from 7-10pm on ESPN2. According to the WSOP webpage about the TOC, the show was taped November 6-8, 2005 and combined the top 20 point earners from each circuit tournament with the final table from the 2005 WSOP main event.

I saw it when it ran originally on Christmas Eve, but if you missed it, you should check it out. Participants include

Steve Dannenmann (second place in this year's main event)
Phil Hellmuth ("I can dodge bullets, baby...")
Mike "The Mouth" Matusow (he's *fabulous*)
Hoyt "Cowboy" Corkins (he wore earplugs for almost the whole tournament---smart man)

I did see an article that said some players were inserted into the tournament at the request of the sponsor, Pepsi. Apparently, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and Phil Hellmuth (ha!) didn't qualify but were allowed to enter the tournament anyway.
Pro player Daniel Negreanu perhaps put it best in his November 6 blog: "All three of those men had a chance to qualify just like you, but didn't make the cut. Ah, but that's ok, they let them in anyway."

In order to avoid similar controversy at next year's TOC, Harrah's has already issued a statement reserving the right to offer 6 sponsor's exemptions.
I say, just be up front: don't claim it's a tournament of those who qualify by certain rules. Just say it's *mostly* qualifiers with a few others who are getting bids based on their lifetime careers.

Lies don't help

If you hadn't heard, about a week ago, a story broke that a young man at UMass was visited by two HSA agents because he requested "The Little Red Book" by Chairman Mao. Guess what? It's was all a hoax by some college student---new variation on "the dog ate it," I guess.
The UMass Dartmouth student who claimed to have been visited by Homeland Security agents over his request for "The Little Red Book" by Mao Zedong has admitted to making up the entire story.

The 22-year-old student tearfully admitted he made the story up to his history professor, Dr. Brian Glyn Williams, and his parents, after being confronted with the inconsistencies in his account.


For more than an hour on Thursday, he spoke of two visits from Homeland Security over his inter-library loan request for the 1965, Peking Press version of "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung," which is the book's official title.

His basic tale remained the same: The book was on a government watch list, and his loan request had triggered a visit from an agent who was seeking to "tame" reading of particular books. He said he saw a long list of such books.


During the whole episode, the professors said that while they wanted to protect the student from the media that were flooding their voice mails and e-mail boxes seeking comment and information, they also wanted to know: Was the story true?

"I grew skeptical of this story, as did Bob, considering the ramifications," Dr. Williams said yesterday. "I spent the last five days avoiding work, and the international media, and rest, trying to get names and dates and facts. My investigation eventually took me to his house, where I began to investigate family matters. I eventually found out the whole thing had been invented, and I'm happy to report that it's safe to borrow books."


Merry Christmas

Christmas Day and I got exactly what I wanted: I slept in 'til 1pm. Haven't done that in years. Thanks, Santa.

Hope you all had a great Christmas. My favorite gift so far has been the fuzzy warm blankey my mom gave me last weekend when we celebrated our Christmas.

What was your favorite gift?


There's an upside to everything

I've been on vacation this entire week. I was quite excited to get some time off. And then---I got the flu. Visited a friend (who shall remain nameless) who has a bunch of kids and he *told* me before bringing the nephew over that they had been sick that week. No problem!

So me and the little man went over on Saturday and Sunday night I missed the last possible poker night of the year because I got sick. I have an embarrassing tendency (not for me---for others) to speak too graphically about this kind of thing. All I'm going to say is this: make sure you have a trash can in your bathroom.

Trust me. That's all I'm going to say. My gift to you....

I was kinda bummed about being sick and all, but several people said "At least you were off work already."

True enough. I could have missed out on basically a whole week of work (and pay if I didn't have the time off available to use).

Here's to all the upsides you can find this season when traveling, visiting, eating, and celebrating.


Winter Day

Today was Winter Day at work. For each season, we have a day. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. We all bring in food (that vary slightly with season) and everyone orders food from some seasonally-themed place and we sit around a huge table in a hallway and eat and talk and have a fabulous time. And eat we do. Just some of the items feasted on today:

Round #1
  • quiche (which I missed---gotta be quick)
  • butter braids (cinnamon and cream cheese)
  • rice crispie treat shaped in the seasonal theme (this time was a wonderful wreath with green sprinkles and a red licorce bow
  • box of bagels from Panera and 3 kinds of cream cheese
  • assorted olives
  • scones
  • some sort of poppyseed bread
Round #2
  • layered taco salad dip with corn chips
  • veggies and dip
  • chocoloate fondue with marshmallows, cookies, graham crackers, and assorted fruit
  • assorted nuts
  • fabulous brie, extra sharp NY white cheddar cheese, and havarti with assorted crackers
Round #3
  • slice of Papa Del's pepperoni and mushroom pizza (7 of us went in on a pizza)
  • chile rellenos
  • brownies
  • cookies
  • bread pudding in little cupcake things
  • cherry cheesecake
  • little peanut butter ball-things dipped in chocolate
  • veggie pizza (made with *green* broccoli and onions, *red* peppers, and *white* cream cheese with a little ranch thrown in)
Round #4
  • peppermint ice cream

There was more, but I can't fight through the food coma to remember. I cannot say I sampled everything. I can say that I tried....

We also do a secret santa thing at work with a $10 maximum. We all take turns opening the presents after eating the main course and before the dessert run. I got the cutest little snowman box with some orange and blue rubber bracelets inside that say stuff like "OSKEE WOW WOW" and the like. Lots of laughter and good food and good company. Over *half* of the people who opened their gifts said something like "someone has been watching me" or "I *just* said I wanted this." And a jar of pickles was given as an inside joke.

I'd explain the joke, but I'd have a lot of explaining to do about the recipient first, so that's gonna have to wait for another day.


Insomnia strikes

I can't sleep tonight. I've had some tea. I've tried watching the boob tube. I've tried music. I've tried getting up and surfing the web (this would be attempt number two). I've tried to lie there and wish myself to sleep.

*Eight* hours ago I was tired.

Now I'm just awake.

Any good home remedies to suggest?


Sports and politics

Found a couple of tidbits at the same place: Illiniboard.

First, the sports. After a 12-page thread all about IB slang (that's short for Illiniboard), a comprehensive list of IB slang has been compiled. I expect to hear these terms thrown into your basketball discussion henceforth.

Second, the politics. There is also a forum called The Deuce. It's an anything goes type of forum. In that forum there is a 5-page thread on Tookie Williams' recent execution. Most of the threads about Williams I've seen on messageboards are barely two pages. Interesting that a sports site would have a longer discussion.


Sam Seder vs. Bob Knight on CNN

Sam Seder of AAR's Majority Report was on CNN with Robert Knight from the Culture and Family Institute with the Concerned Women of America (Beverly LaHaye's group).

Video courtesy Crooks and Liars.

Oh yah, and the Concerned Women of America wishes you a Merry Christmas.


Better not let Mr. Knight see the card sent out by Bush. I hear from a reliable source it was a holiday card with a Crawford, TX postmark.

A good Monday

After ordering what turned out to be a beautiful arrangement of pink lilies, roses, and snapdragon from Rick Orr's today, a friend and I had lunch at the Esquire today. I hadn't eaten there in a while and I noticed they had expanded their menu (probably for a while now) to include a salad bar, pizza, and new appetizers. Fabulous. I dig that place. Something about it screams Champaign. We would have eaten at Radio Maria, but we forgot they are closed on Mondays.

We walked across the street after lunch and picked up some chocolate treats for our recovering friend and some *delicious* gingerbread cookies from Persimmons Grocery. They were 2 for $1. Found a few other yummies there so I might have to stop back by there this week.

Then I got to hold a newborn baby.... Pretty good day overall.


Cigars all around!

Miss Mina arrived on Saturday, December 10th. I got the phone call this morning, but since it was so early, I assumed it was the nephew begging to play in the snow and I didn't answer it.

Miss Mina's mommy sounded hoarse and happy. The only detail I know as of now is that she was 21 inches long. I hope to visit them all sometime today and get more details.

Oh yah, and I want to sniff little Miss Mina's head.

Weirdest part? Cor may have won her own baby pool.

A mother always knows....


Winter musings

Sorry to be so lackadaisical with posting lately. Between work and the other project I ranted about earlier (which is *not* a work situation as some might have thought) and the usual end-of-year tasks, I've been swamped.

Another thing that has been taking up quite a bit of time is my house. I don't own a house, I rent the first floor of an old house. I love it. It has the best woodwork around the doors and windows and baseboards and has a sunroom with glass and wood doors and pocket doors which are supposed to block off the living room from what was once the dining room (it's now my bedroom). I rarely have to run the air conditioner in the summer because I have lots of windows and ceiling fans and trees that shade the house. I'm also in a little dip in the city, so it's cooler here all summer long.

However, the winters in this house are tough. It's a forced-air system and with all the drafts and air leaks, the furnace runs a lot. And, since my furnace runs on natural gas, I'm really worried about the gas bill which I'm sure is about to arrive any day now.

I've sealed up the windows in the sunroom and bedroom with removable caulk. I've sealed up the windows in the living room with plastic. I've tried to seal up the back door with rugs and towels. But still, the drafty air comes through. Unfortunately, I don't think I can fully seal off the house. It's a brick foundation and brick exterior (covered with siding now) but the mortar is old and cracking, so there are gaps everywhere. And since the walls are plaster, they are ice-cold to the touch all the time.

The *worst* part of the winter is the northwest corner of my house. Obviously, there is a gap somewhere in the outer brick and/or the inner wall because a nice breeze blows through my bathroom. That's what's in the northwest corner of my house. And more disappointing is the fact that my shower and the water pipes to it are in that corner as well. And since the shower stall sits smack up next to the pipes and the draft, I can't caulk it or seal it. I've shoved towels and foam back in there to try and stop the breeze all to no avail. My pipes freeze every night and I'm in there every morning with my hair dryer thawing them out so I can shower.

I can't complain, really. Other than this (and a few other tidbits), I love living here. I rationalize the cold by knowing it's only 3 months out of the year and with the savings in electricity I receive in the warmer months, it should even out, but right now, with my cold feet and cold fingers, the thought isn't very comforting.

I'm loving the snow, however. It seems to quiet the world down. And, other than people who obviously don't know how to drive cautiously in the ice and snow, I don't mind the added winter flavor. It makes everything so beautiful. Even a trash can looks pretty covered in snow, but the trees and bushes and wonderful holiday lights on the houses are stunning.

I'm hoping it will warm up enough this afternoon to play outside with the nephew. He called me a bit ago and his agenda for the day is:

shovel snow into a pile
build snowmen
make snow angels
have a snow fight

Course, he can't do it til I get over there, so....


The Annoying Thing: Crazy Frog

First off, who makes these things?

And secondly, why do I and others I know feel compelled to share them?

Crazy Frog: available in ringtones and other merchandise *just* in time for Christmas.



The Cost of War

Someone sent me a link recently to the National Priorities Project's Cost of War page. THe website has some interesting databases you can search. "Turning Data into Action" is the subtitle of the website and the Cost of War numbers really illuminate how messed up our priorities are right now.

As of today, for what the US is spending on war, we could have:
  • fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 9 years.
  • fully funded world-wide AIDS programs for 22 years.
  • built 2,015,921 additional housing units.
  • hired 3,880,048 additional public school teachers for one year.
  • provided 10,853,721 students four-year scholarships at public universities.
What kind of world would this be if over the past four years if we had instead spent the money in the above directions? 2 million housing units? Katrina situation might have been markedly different. 10 million get scholarships to college? A leg up the economic ladder for those who can't afford it. Close to 4 million teachers? Imagine how our school districts might look now.

Venting extemporaneously

I'm agitated. Don't ask me why, I don't know. I'm just aggravated, irritated, annoyed, and bit strung right now. And what's driving me nuts is I can't put my finger on the reason. Snarky people, who normally would simply irritate me or cause me to mock them, have led me to get a tad pissy lately.

I try not to get overly emotional about things. A friend once said about me, "Have you *ever* seen her get mad?" (I *do* get mad, which is the origin of the Gamera nickname, but that's another post for another day.) Disagreement doesn't tick me off usually, it just makes me want to find a resolution.

But, after a blow-up recently among people I work with on a project, I finally stepped in and blew my stack. I've been biting my tongue for weeks, maybe months. And maybe that's the real root of agitation. I watched a interpersonal situation get out of hand for some time now, and instead of stepping in earlier, I tried to wait it out. I felt like stepping in and trying to mediate or to calm things down or to clarify what people were looking for in the exchange would have caused more conflict than good, so I left it to them to try and work out. These people need no advocates, I thought, and who am *I* to insert myself into the exchange.

Unfortunately, it ended up in one of the people involved removing themselves from the project completely. And now the fallout has begun and I'm pissed. I want to bitch and moan---after the fact. And *because* I said nothing before, I feel like I really *shouldn't* say anything now. And now, because I did blow my stack, I've started an exchange that I don't think I can participate in.

Part of my problem is that I don't like hypocrisy or any two-facedness (is that a word?) in relationships. Tell me the truth straight to my face, or leave me the hell alone. And in the interpersonal conflict I was telling you about, I believe there to be some ulterior motives at work. I saw:
  • someone proposed for addition to the group
  • certain group members were not "enthusiastic" to add said person
  • the proposed person was voted in despite concerns
  • the new member is brought into a small, tight bunch of folks who are directing a project
  • previously concerned members begin to act in a way that makes me question their motives
And there's the rub. It's my opinion. I can't point to a specific intent among a certain set of people to run the new guy out. But I see the new member's ideas and suggestions and actions continually questioned (in what looks vaguely like sandbagging). And I see indignation when the new member questions any of the ideas or actions of the previously-mentioned "unenthusiastic" members. And it isn't the questioning of actions that bothers me---trust me, I and the people I work with fully believe in fleshing out everything fully. It's the only way to look at something from all angles. Everyone has to be heard. Try to get a close to a consensus as you can.

It's the double-standard that ticks me off and, to me, shows the interpersonal problems cropping up in the group. Why are you questioning my actions? (Who do you think you are?) Why are you doing X? (Who do you think you are?) It's trolling, plain and simply. It's someone trying to irritate and instigate through the backdoor.

In this case, it apparently suceeded. And not just on the member it was intended to annoy. I'm angry at these group members. I'm angry at myself. I'm angry that something I've worked so hard and care about so much is now in shambles. I'm angry that petty squabbles and interpersonal bullsh*t (mine included) is mucking up the work on bigger and more important things. And now I'm angry that I can't really do anything to solve this issue because I *don't* want to work out of anger.

So, I guess I'm just irritated in general because I'm stewing on this whole thing rather than acting on it.

I guess I do know why I'm irritated after all....


Volunteers for a Better America and IBEW presents...

...the new Wal-Mart movie. A friend at work told me her husband's union was showing the film. I believe this is an announcement for that screening.
Volunteers for a Better America and IBEW will host a free showing of the Wal-Mart film, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, produced by Brave New Films on December 16, 2005, at 6:30 at the union hall 2901 N. Mattis in Champaign, Illinois. Refreshments will be available before the film and a panel of speakers will host a question and answer session immediately after. Speakers will include Mike Herbert of IBEW, Professor Ron Peters of the University of Illinois, Larraine Cowart, and other community leaders from local churches and government (to be updated as invited speakers are confirmed).
If I get any updates, I'll post them here. Mark your calendars if you missed the showings around town the week the film premiered. More info and links for the film are here.


Attention Laguna Beach junkies:

*Picture removed*

Talan is single again.

That was quick. Head-chica-in-charge called it. The "engagement" lasted less than a month.

Me and few other girlfriends of mine are obsessed with Laguna Beach on Mtv (the show Talan was on). I hate the show and I hate the snotty little spoiled teens on the show, but I *can't* stop watching the stupid thing. Apparently, I'm not alone. They are going to have a season three (speculated to start in summer of '06) and a spin-off show featuring LC called The Hills.


I don't watch much TV. Lost, Nip/Tuck (which was *crazy* last night), Laguna Beach, Illinois basketball. That's about it.

All I *really* want to see on Laguna Beach is Jason...even if he is a selfish, spoiled, little rich kid who treats girls like disposable tissue...he's still yummy. And my eye candy need not be nice, straight, or even sane. That's the whole *purpose* of eye candy.

*picture removed*

Deron Williams and Brian Cook

The Utah Jazz and the LA Lakers will be on TNT tomorrow night at 8:30pm local time. I hope to check out Deron and Brian in the *same game.* It looks like Deron is getting more time than Brian right now. If you are an Illinois basketball fan but not into the NBA (like me), you might want to give this game a look. There is also a rookie profile article up on the Jazz website.

It's got a nice picture as well....


I'm listening to the radio tonight

I forgot all about the "CU Great Great Blogger Meet-Up" scheduled for tonight. Can't wait to hear all the details.

I'm getting all ready for the big game tonight: Illinois v. North Carolina. I picked a high-scoring game on the prediction sheet at work today. What we *should* have been guessing is how many times we hear the following tonight out of Dicky V's mouth:

Coach K
how great Duke is
how much Dicky V loves Duke


According to Illiniboard, Dick Vitale even has his own drinking game. Have fun. My favorite drink rule was this one:
#7 Dickisms

All must drink (1) for any Dickisms (Head Dick shall govern):

"Diaper Dandy"
"Trifecta (Dick calls it Trifecter)"
"Little Davey Odom"
and so on....



Maybe it's me, but as the year is drawing to a close, more and more people I know (either personally or through acquaintances) pass away or slowly travel in that direction.

A friend's child died in September. A friend's brother-in-law died in October. A friend of mine died two weeks ago and my brother-in-law's sister died last week. A few other friends have some family members who are ill.

Is it coincidence that many people end the winter season in life during the winter season in nature? Is it coincidence that cardiac and non-cardiac deaths peak during winter holidays? Are we still more strongly tied to the seasons than we'd like to think? Is that the basic reason behind stringing up so many lights in the dead of winter during the shortest days of the year with the coldest temperatures of the year? So we can try and bring back the light and the life and the exuberant memories of the spring and summer and ward away the gloom and death that the season so aptly symbolizes? I know I've felt the urge to burn more candles and add fragrance to my home with incense and Plug-ins and scented wax. Am I trying to recreate the smell of flowers in the spring and fresh-cut grass from the summer?

Papers, please.

I followed a link on a listserv that led me to Deborah Davis' website, Want to Ride? Papers, Please. I found her story quite interesting---and quite sad. Whenever a friend and I talk about the different ways our privacy is invaded on a daily basis and how that intrusion is becoming more and more accepted by the public and codified into law, my friend always brings up the phrase, "Papers, please." And to be honest, it's chilling to think I could live in a world where I have to show proof of who I am wherever I go. That is *not* the kind of world I want to live in. And after reading the fact sheet on Deborah's website all about the problems with showing ID, I have to say I agree with the reasoning. Unfortunately, I fear this is a case where common sense will not rule.

To me, riding on a bus paid for with public tax dollars and being required to show ID on demand by property owners seems outrageous. If the bus drives through a parking lot owned the Savoy 16, can security guards require me to show ID? If security is such an issue, why would a bus drive through there? Why not make the drop-off point *off* the federal (or private) property?

I might come off like a fruitcake, but I don't fly anymore. I haven't flown in years. Mostly because I can't afford it, but I have had occasions to fly and I just don't want to submit myself to the process. I don't want to have to be searched and prodded and show umpteen forms of ID just to sit in a cramped seat in a stagnant metal tube for a couple of hours. Years ago, when I did fly, I stopped checking any bags. I would only take a carry-on size piece of luggage and pack light. I carry everything on---I carry everything off. I am in full control of all possessions at all times. I don't want to have anything lost, or damaged, or rummaged through while I'm sitting on the plane ignoring the screaming baby behind me. So I guess it's only the natural progression for not wanting to submit to the luggage process to not wanting to submit to the passenger screening process. And I stopped wanting to fly *before* 9/11. I can't even imagine flying now....

So I fear the day when I know that simply stepping out my door in the morning submits me to a process I have no interest in participating in.


The holiday season is about to begin

Since Thanksgiving is coming up and the holidays start off with a bang on Friday, I thought I'd pass along a little tidbit to give you all something to be grateful for while your buying new yard toys and nailing lights to your houses and putting up Christmas trees---be thankful *you* didn't have to install a set-up like this in your yard.

Though if you do, let me know where you live....

Holiday blogging

Sorry my posts have been so scarce lately. I've been busy with whatnot, but I have some time off coming up and I'm usually on the computer *more* when I have time off than when I'm working.

Funny how that works out....


Inside joke---sorry

This will only be funny to about 5 people, but it has to be done nonetheless.

This bitch took all his money. And then I watched him lose again and I cackled all the way home.

I *told* you I'd post this....


Pistachios and Poverty

Just got back from the hospital. Some kid at my nephew's school brought in some pistachios today. My nephew, who is allergic to tree nuts, asked "Are these peanuts?" To which the other kid said no---cuz they aren't. He ate some, got sick, developed hives, his eyes swelled almost completely closed, and he began to wheeze. After a few hours at the emergency room, he's mostly back to normal---other than the hives and the swollen eyes.

One quick note: Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America, is scheduled to speak at Foellinger Auditorium tomorrow night at 7pm. Some friends and I are going to grab some Thai and catch her talk. You can still get free tickets with an I-Card at the Assembly Hall box office or at Ticket Central in the Illini Union. I'm hoping she'll also talk about her newest book (which I haven't read yet), Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream.


Wal*Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices opens this week

A new documentary from producer/director Robert Greenwald opens this week. This film is being released in a unique way. Instead of releasing the movie in theaters, the film is being marketed to grassroots organizers. Different individuals and organizations (even you) can order a movie screening kit for $10. You are asked to schedule your screening to fit within different themed days. I've added the local screenings.

November 13th: "A Moral Approach" (free, 3pm at Library and Information Science Building, free, 7pm at the McKinley Foundation, free, 8pm at the College of Law)

November 14th: "Shareholders Day" (free, 7pm at the Channing-Murray Foundation)

November 15th: "Legislative Action Day"

November 16th: "Learn About Wal-Mart" (free, 5pm at That's Rentertainment)

November 17th: "Sick Day" (free, 7pm at the Education Building)

November 18th: "A Working Wal-Mart" (free, 7:30pm at the United Church of Christ)

November 19th: "Family Business Day"

You can see a trailer here. I'm definitely going to try and catch a screening....

Weekend fun

While trying to figure out what the heck Blogshares actually is, I found a funny blog: Scary Personals.

And, yes, they *are* scary but some are quite funny as well. Here's just a few samples of the photos people posted for their personals. Some of their profile bio is there too. I can't tell you if the profile bios are real or not, but I suspect it just might be all-to-real....


My hopes are now dashed

Judy Baar Topinka entered the governor's race recently. Since she's a moderate Republican, I was all set to support her effort to unseat the current governor. (She's pro-choice and against discrimination based on sexual orientation.) I'm not a Republican, but I can't stand Blago.

And then, today, I saw this post on Capitol Fax Blog that referenced a New York Times article entitled "Rove Is More His Old Self at the White House." What, pray tell, would this have to do with the Illinois governor's race?
In particular, several Republicans said, Mr. Rove drove the decision to recruit Judy Baar Topinka to run in the Illinois governor's race in 2006, a development this week that suddenly made the race competitive for Republicans. Although Mr. Rove is still leaving contact with candidates to his subordinates, especially Mr. Mehlman and Sarah Taylor, the White House political director, he is back to mapping out the nationwide strategy as he has in races past, several Republicans said.
Ugh. Course, this does explain why Topinka's worries about campaign finances has changed.

A co-worker's wife said she wouldn't vote for a single Republican because voting for any Republican right now is a vote for Bush and she'd rather vote for *any* Democrat than show any sign of support for Bush. If Rove is behind Topinka's campaign, is a vote for Topinka a vote for Bush?


ANWR off the chopping block

An interesting tidbit in the news tonight: "Arctic drilling dropped from House bill."
WASHINGTON - House leaders late Wednesday abandoned an attempt to push through a hotly contested plan to open an Alaskan wildlife refuge to oil drilling, fearing it would jeopardize approval of a sweeping budget bill Thursday.

They also dropped from the budget document plans to allow states to authorize oil and gas drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts — regions currently under a drilling moratorium.

The actions were a stunning setback for those who have tried for years to open a coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR, to oil development, and a victory for environmentalists, who have lobbied hard against the drilling provisions. President Bush has made drilling in the Alaska refuge his top energy priorities.


The decision to drop the ANWR drilling language came after GOP moderates said they would oppose the budget if it was kept in the bill. The offshore drilling provision was also viewed as too contentious and a threat to the bill, especially in the Senate.

Interesting turn of events recently for the administration. Social Security "reform" is dead until 2009. The Iraq fiasco---both in terms of policy and public opinion. More leaks than a boat made of swiss cheese. I'm glad to see that the moderates in the Republican party are picking up steam. A co-worker said he thought this whole administration might wipe out neo-conservatism once and for all and push us into a more moderate era. I'm not that hopeful, but this recent crop of setbacks shows me that perhaps power is shifting and opposition---at least from within the party---is starting to emerge.

Howling at the moon in the park after dark

I took my nephew to Eisner Park today after work and since the sun sets so early, it was dark. Thank goodness there were a couple very bright lights there. I've blurred the picture a bit to protect the innocent.

We spent an hour piling up leaves and he kept jumping in them. And then he fell off the playground equipment because his shoes were wet from the leaves. He's fine, but it scared the heck out of me.


Other than that and the profanities spray-painted on the playground equipment, it was pretty fun. I'm just glad my nephew can't quite read yet so he didn't know what the words said.

I love the parks here in Champaign. You are pretty close to a park wherever you live. When I was living my life in a healthier way, I used to walk every night and I used to try and walk by as many parks as I could: West Side Park, Harris Park (it's that cool park that's really just a strip of green where Harris St. splits into north/south lanes), Hessel Park, Clark Park, Eisner Park (see the link above), Davidson Park (that's park that is on Church St. with the street loop where all the big cool houses are) and back home.

Park of the reason I prefer the heart of Champaign to the sprawling outskirts (other than the lack of trees, character, and neighborhood feel out there---no offense if you live out there) is the fact that there are so dang many parks around.

My friend, starx (who recently started his own blog), has created a wonderland of a park in his own backyard for his kids to play in. But part of what I like to do with my nephew is find different parks to go and play at for our "days." I pick him up from the afterschool program and he always says "What are we going to do today?" Every day gets to be an adventure and sometimes we find little gems and sometimes we decide that we don't need to go back to that park. West Side Park is one of his favorites as is Eisner Park. Of course, I don't mean to slight Urbana: "the hammer park" (as he calls Meadowbrook Park) is his ultimate favorite, but since it's so far out, driving out and back eats up a lot of time that can otherwise be spent playing.

See---it's more than just fun. He's learning a little time management as well.


The future of C-U water system ownership

The News-Gazette has an article in Wednesday's paper entitled "C-U mayors want to explore possibility of buying local water system." Now, let me say that I think it's a good idea. The municipalities owning the water supply was always the case when I lived in small towns. I think it would be good for CU residents as well. It's easier to hold locally-elected government officals accountable than a company in another country. Apparently, there was a boil order about a week ago for my neighborhood and I didn't even know about it.

A few things struck me about the article. One was this quote from Champaign Mayor
"It's an opportune time to look at it again," Schweighart said. "But the odds are probably pretty slim."
Great. I hope that's not an indication of his enthusiasm. The other was this:
Champaign City Manager Steve Carter said Peoria has inquired about Champaign's willingness to pool its resources with Peoria and possibly other cities to buy out Illinois American, or parts of it.
"We would be interested in exploring what other cities are doing," he said. "In some areas, water is supplied on a regional basis."
I'll be watching to see where this goes from here.

Parent-Teacher Conferences---always eventful

Tonight I went to Parent-Teacher Conferences at my nephew's school. If you don't know already, I'm my nephew's favorite aunt. I vacillate between acting like his mom and his toy. I'm his Seh-wah---that's what he calls me. It's a corruption of my name and now that the speech pathologist at his school confirms that it *isn't* an sign that he has consonant problem, we know it's his pet name for me. I call him "Little man" and "Bubby" and "Bub."

He was showing us how he can jump up, do a 360 with his hands up in the air and land---TA DA!!! Except the final time he showed us, he landed wrong, twisted on his ankle, and smashed his face into the hard marble-like floor. He tried *really* hard not to cry. Me and his parents and his former babysitter and her husband were all standing there watching. But his nose started to get red and swollen immediately and his nose started bleeding. After we found a Kleenex and I checked his nose, we noticed he chipped a front tooth as well.

Poor little man...trying to display a cool trick and he gets hurt *and* embarassed all in one shot. He was fine after he got a special ice pack, some grape children's ibuprofen, and a kiss.


What's up with the carpet?

Me and Cor went to a local downtown eating and drinking establishment yesterday for lunch. (I'd link to it, but it doesn't even have a *website* to link to.) The place was pretty empty and after eating my lunch I might know why. Food was nothing special and neither was the service. I don't mind going there to eat outside and enjoy the weather there on the corner, but I hadn't eaten inside for so long that two things struck me. The first were these cool sconces on the walls: I like that Frank Lloyd Wright kinda stuff.

The second was the carpet.

I actually stopped walking at one point and said "What's up with carpet? Is that gum? Or burns?" All over the carpet were shiny black spots---almost smears---in differing sizes all over the place. I pictured hundreds of people drinking and smoking and then *putting out their cigarettes on the carpet*! What that.... I mean, come on, how lazy can you be? Is it *that* hard to find an ashtray. I smoke, but I'd never put my butt out on carpet.

And speaking of bars, I got into a discussion about the worst pick-up lines ever. It began with a reference to a recent study of the "best" pick-up lines. Basically, the study found that honesty was better. Whatta newsflash. But I heard a few really *bad* ones as a result.
  • If love were a drop of milk, then baby, you'd be a whole cow.
  • Gee, that's a nice set of legs, what time do they open?
  • Do you like short love affairs? I hate them. I've got all weekend. (which led me to this site of ignorant wonders)
What's the worst pick-up line you've ever heard or said? Don't worry, you don't have to specify which it is....


Speaking of brain farts...

...sometimes mine nearly blow my brain out the back of my head.

I've learned to accept that no matter how hard you look at a thing, it'll never be perfect. Something will always slip through. Better to have as many sets of eyes look upon a thing first and catch the bulk of them. Sometimes it's the the simplest of mistakes that slip through and no matter how hard you look, your brain won't register them (like the "the the" in the beginning of this sentence---most times, your brain skips right over it and you don't even see it). Others are so friggin' big it's a miracle they don't jump right up and punch you in the nose.



I fixed my post from this past weekend. I put the wrong date on my WRFU entry. It's this weekend, Friday November 11 through Sunday November 13th.



Harvest surprise

To the person(s) who thought it would be funny to litter Rt. 10 between Bondville and Champaign with pumpkins, thanks a bunch. I hit them last night while driving back in the pouring rain from my friend's house in Monticello.

Couldn't see them til I was upon them.

Couldn't swerve to miss them because of oncoming traffic and the ditch.

Thanks alot, @$$#*!%....


WRFU debuts 11/13 from 4-7 pm

A new low power FM station, WRFU, is set to air it's first show on Sunday. The radio station's first broadcast is part of a bunch of events this weekend that include:
As a low power FM (LPFM) station, the broadcast can be found at 104.5 FM at low power (~100 watts). A preliminary timetable shows there are lots of open slots still, however, I still see some shows I might have to check out. Looks like there are some music shows (reggae, electronic, hard core, sound art), a progressive political finance show (can't wait to hear more about that), and some spirituality-based shows (I see a one monthly show billed as "radical Catholic though" and a few others on faith or spirituality).

And, you can propose a show of your own right on the WRFU web site. According to the website, the signal should reach all of CU proper, and depending on the tower, it may reach Savoy. I'll be checking it out tomorrow.


Jam weekend

Some friends of mine from college who live in Chi-town are arriving (as I type) in Champaign this weekend to "jam" with other friends from college who live in CU. They will spend this weekend drinking and playing music and, when they tire of the festivities, I may get a call to come and play cards. One of my friends asked if I would sing with them. Granted, I'm a *notorious* shower and car singer (yes, I'm that idiot singing and grooving in her little Saturn while driving around town), but singing in front of people scares the heck out of me....

Cards. I miss playing cards. We used to play cards *all the time* in college. Spades, Hearts, Euchre, and Oh Hell. It's Spades I miss the most, but Oh Hell was fun as well. We'd sit around a table in someone's apartment and drink Old Style Light returnable bottles and play cards until about 11pm, when we would then stagger across campus only to return a few hours later to eat cheap pizza and play cards once again. Bulls games and Star Trek: TNG were our only breaks. I think classes and schoolwork were in there somewhere as well. But I look forward to these jam weekends if only to relive those card-playing memories.

Course, last time they came down, I had strep throat and the time before that I had the flu, so being sick this time around is simply par for the course. I only see them 2 or 3 times a year, so I can't let a little bit (ok, a lot) of phlegm get me down.

I'm hoping they'll let me take some pictures of them to post here on the blog. Maybe I'll wait until they've had a few (ok, a lot) of beverages....


Tinfoil Theory on Halloween

I'm sick. Coughing, stuffed-up alternating with my brain running out of my nose, headache-y, exhausted, phlegm-filled misery here....

I've decided that Halloween is *really* a conspiracy to spread germs and viruses by having us randomly mix them up in bowls of candy that we then carry back to our homes with the candy. In a brilliant deliver method, we even cover our hands with the germs on the wrappers right before using said-infected-hands to eat the candy.


I'm gonna get a flu shot when I feel better.


New SCOTUS nominee: Alito

Ok...I'm still sifting through all the info I can find on this guy.

The People for the American Way has a 24-page preliminary report.

New World Man has an analysis of Alito opinions (1st and 2nd amendment). Lots of links.

ACSBlog has a bio of Alito.

SCOTUSblog has a blog round-up about Alito.

The Wiki entry for Alito also has a case history. Apparently, Alito was born on April Fools' and nominated on Halloween.

Conservative groups like the PFA and pundits like Michelle Malkin are showing support on day one as well. Malkin has links to conservative blogs that discuss Alito.

Election Law is predicting that Alito won't make it to the Senate floor for a vote. Highly doubtful.

Timetable, to me, looks iffy. With the holidays coming up, is it possible they can get this guy up for a vote in the Senate before 2006? I can't see how, but then again, I didn't think W would have a nomination for a while either, so what the hell do I know....

I can't say this guy surprises me in any way. This is exactly who I would assume W would nominate.

Weekend photoblogging

Went to the Orange and Blue scrimmage Friday night and the Illinois football game on Saturday. Friday was *way* more fun than Saturday, though I only took pictures on Saturday.

Perfect metaphor for the Illinois football season.

The best part of our day: the petting zoo....

Got some tickets from someone who must donate money: Look! A seat back---it was screwed into our seats! Since I *usually* only sit in the horseshoe, this was a real treat.

And then, I played poker on Saturday night. If you didn't know, that's head chica in charge.... (Sorry, chica, I had to post it---it's too cool!)

And, yes, before it gets pointed out, starx did take me out first in two games. I was *willing* to pay to find out if my instincts were right.

They were.


Miers withdraws her nomination---Who's next?

As I'm sure you already know, Harriet Miers has withdrawn her nomination. The People for the American Way are calling this a complete capitulation to the far-right interest groups. My guess is that Miers was a half-hearted attempt at a "moderate" candidate.

And now, the speculation has begun. Alberto Gonzalez? Pricsilla Owens? Janice Rogers Brown? I think it's *definitely* going to be a nominee from the far-right. SCOTUSblog says that Gonzalez is probably out because he would run into the same problem as Miers: giving access to White House legal papers.

Test your ESP: Who's it gonna be?

And...a hidden gem...an overlooked news item: the Bush administration is abandoning the nuclear "Bunker-Buster" plan in favor of a similar device that isn't dangerously stupid.
At a congressional hearing earlier this year, NNSA chief Linton Brooks acknowledged there is no way to avoid significant fallout of radioactive debris from use of a bunker-buster warhead.
No kidding....

Books to Prisoners sale

Looks like they raised almost $3000 for the project. And if you thought I was joking about the book selection....

I think there will be another in April. I'll post it here if they do.


Video Diner and Weezer

I dig this show. If you haven't caught Video Diner yet, you should. It's on WILL-TV Sundays at 11 pm, and then the same show reruns on following Saturdays at 11:40 pm. I *always* find something intriguing---either musically or visually. This week I was intrigued by the last two videos of the show:

Ok Go - "A Million Ways"
Oh No - Capitol

Weezer - "We Are All On Drugs"
Make Believe - Geffen

First off, the Ok Go video for "A Million Ways" is fabulous and I found a link online so you can watch it as well. It's hysterical and yet still *extremely* well choreographed. And the music is pretty cool as well.

As for Weezer, I like them anyway, so seeing a video of theirs that I hadn't seen yet for a song I hadn't heard yet was cool. But then when I was searching for the video so all of you could enjoy it as well, I found this little tidbit---apparently there is more than *one* video for this song. And apparently there is more than one song as well. Confused? Yah....

Well, apparently Mtv didn't want to put the video for "We Are All on Drugs" on, so they had Weezer make an alternative made: "We Are All in Love." Ok. Kinda changes the whole song, don't it? Most bizarre part? The video still clearly has the actors saying "on Drugs." If you can't tell, I'm rolling my eyes....

But there is *also* another video for the song "We Are All on Drugs"---only instead of the lead singer wandering around, it's the Grim Reaper's 1985 video for "Fear No Evil" shown as the visual accompaniment for the song. It's apparently only being shown on Mtv outside the US.

I can't tell you who is trying to say what here, but I *can* say a lot is being said with some audio and video.


Vocab review: Fitzmas

So, apparently some liberal bloggers have coined a new term: Fitzmas. What is Fitzmas, you ask? Good question. According to a Wikipedia entry (which is proposed for deletion soon, so who know how long it will be up), Fitzmas is:
the name given by some liberal bloggers to the atmosphere of excitement and anticipation preceding the conclusion of Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation into the Plame affair. The word is a portmanteau of Fitzgerald's name and "Christmas".
The term is said to have originated on DU with this thread. Byron York of the National Review wrote a column about it last week making fun of the term. I've also seen some entries at Daily Kos about Fitzmas---complete with Fitzmas carols.

As far as usage, I've seen many examples, such as "The MSNBC home page this morning looks like it is all decorated for Fitzmas."


Delay's mugshot on Smoking Gun

If that's not the most bizarre mugshot I've *ever* seen, I don't know what is....

Courtesy of Smoking Gun

Reporting from Dayton

I'm in Dayton, OH for a conference for the next few days. Conference starts tomorrow, so today was mostly pre-prep: packing, loading, driving, unloading (with *much* help from others who traveled here from work), and setting up (once again, with *much* help with others from work). A few highlights have made today rather interesting.

First, we stopped in Indy for lunch. We had KFC. Not all that interesting in and of itself, but what was nearby was interesting. (I took pictures, but I can't upload them from here, so I'll have to post them on Sunday when I get home.) "Babes," apparently a strip bar of some sort, was next to the KFC. The sign read: Babes---The Name Says It All. It sure as hell does.... Across the street was "Don's Guns, Hair, and Wigs." I'm not sure what to say about that....

Tonight, me and 6 other coworkers walked down to Dayton's Oregon District (think bars, cafes, stores, art galleries, restaurants, music stores, and more). We had dinner at the Blue Moon Bistro. I had several "Martian Screws" which were made with mandarin-infused vodka, cointreau, and OJ.


Dinner was sushi-grade tuna barely cooked and encrusted with black sea salt, seaweed salad with cucumber included, and purple potato thingies with wasabi crusted scallops inside.

I had to turn down dessert.

And now...back in my hotel room ready to pop from dinner.

Oh yah, and Dayton has...A TROLLEY!!!

Sorry...had to point it out. You can learn more about Dayton here:


Dayton is one of only six remaining U.S. cities with electric trolley bus service, which has been operating continuously since 1888, making it the longest running electric trolley service in the U.S. The trolley service is a part of the Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority or RTA.


Menards to expand---in Urbana

Old Guy has an interesting post about an article in Wednesday's NG reporting a *huge* real estate purchase on the outskirts of Urbana. The article says that Tatman also bid on the property that Menards ended up with at a recent auction.

4 8 15 16 23 42---and three weeks

I watch very few shows on the TV machine anymore. And now, the *one* show I look forward to each week just blew it.

Ok. It's not really the show. It's the fact that after only *4* new episodes, Lost isn't returning for 3 weeks.

3 *friggin* weeks.

I mean, come on. Ok, I get that the Worlds Series is coming up and all, but the show, at it's core, is a suspenseful mystery. And no show for weeks kinda breaks the tension.

I don't know why I didn't see it coming. The Powers-That-Be *always* start rationing out good shows. And, since sweeps kick in next month, I get what they are doing---makin' me jones for two weeks so I watch religiously in November during sweeps.

High ratings = More ad revenue

I feel like I've just been pimped out.... *shudder*

Guess I'll have to get my Lost fix somewhere else.... Anyone know the password this week?

(Oh yah, and anyone else think that the teddy bear carrying zombie was Alex, the french woman's son?)


Champaign-Urbana Drive 25 Neighborhood Group

I had dinner tonight with a good friend of mine and her three boys. Unfortunately, a tragedy occurred in front of her house exactly one month ago. Some of her friends and their children had stopped by her house on a sunny Sunday afternoon to play. But, unfortunately, one of the children, an 8-year-old, accidentally rolled out into the street on one of those convertible scooter/skateboard things and was struck by a driver going *way* over the speed limit. I won't go into the gory details, but the excessive speed definitely contributed to this child's death. As we talked about the accident and how the mother of this young child gone way too soon was doing, I told her about a new blog I recently found while checking Illinipundit today.

The Champaign-Urbana Drive 25 Neighborhood Group blog is described as "A blog for the people of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois who want to see the residential speed limit lowered to 25 citywide." I've added the blog to my links.

As someone who lives one street north of Church in Champaign, I hear and see people recklessly driving *way* too dang fast every morning and night. And, while I was annoyed with the speeders using my street as a dragstrip on their way to work and a substitute highway on their way home from the bars at 2:15am, I am now wondering how long before one of the children on my street becomes the next fatality.

My friend told me how she and her husband and neighbors were discovering how difficult it is in Champaign to get traffic calming methods instituted. The blog goes into way more detail if you are interested.

Frankly, we could take care of the financial problems of our local school districts just from speeding tickets on my street and the street where the tragedy occurred alone. Just stop and think: is driving that fast worth someone's life? Is it worth *your* child's life?

Think about it....

Books to Prisoners book sale this Saturday

A local group, Books to Prisoners, is having an absolutely *huge* book sale this Saturday, October 22nd from 9am to 5pm at Lincoln Square Mall.

They are set up in a vacated store somewhere in the mall (that shouldn't be *too* hard to find). Rumor is they have nearly 40,000 books to sell and, after attending the book sale last spring, I can tell you the selection is outstanding. Fiction, non-fiction, children's books, hardback, paperback, classics, textbooks, how-to books, and more. They recently receive a huge donation of books from a group in a northern suburb of Chicago. These books have been picked up and added to the sale.

Prices (if they are the same as last year) are:

Large paperbacks and hardbacks are $1.
Paperbacks are .50
Books are discounted when you buy quite a few (like 12 hardbacks for $10 or something similar)

Last year I picked up so many I haven't gotten through them all. I picked up about 8 James Michener books, 4 Isabel Allende books, 2 Elmore Leonard books, some political books (Ann Coulter *and* Michael Moore), a Photoshop Users Guide (usually $50 at bookstores), and several classics like Catcher in the Rye, Walden, A Brave New World, Fellowship of the Ring, Animal Farm, and more.

This is a fabulous book sale if you are a book lover or heavy reader. All the proceeds go to shipping costs and purchasing requested books that haven't been donated. Prisoners in Illinois prisons request certain books from BookstoPrisoners and they fill the requests with donated books. Hardback books cannot be sent to prisons, so all of those are sold to pay for shipping, but by buying books from the sale, you will be helping to buy dictionaries, GED guides, trade books, and other book requests from prisoners. BookstoPrisoners has also help start a library at the Champaign County jail.

If you happen to find a copy of Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, pick it up for me. I seemed to have loaned my copy out and never got it back....

DJ RX and the party party mixes

Newsweek recently had a small blurb about an anonymous DJ who lampoons W with his own words. Basically, he remixes bits and pieces and makes them match a song.

You can download or stream his mixes at http://www.thepartyparty.com/

"White Lines" is probably my favorite.

From the Newsweek article:
RX's "mash-ups" have now been downloaded more than 2 million times. And though he hasn't held a job in five years, his DJ'ing cred might help him cash in: he was recently approached, he says, by an L.A. creative agency that makes movie trailers, a New York ad agency that wanted to discuss working on a beer commercial and a "major" U.S. music label. RX's new, original single "White Lines," in which Bush gossips about Kate Moss, hits record stores later this month. Upcoming targets? "If Condi Rice has any intention of running for president," RX says, "she'll find herself a pop star."
They really are masterpieces. I don't have a *clue* as to how he does it, but it sure does entertain me.


Boondocks coming to Adult Swim

So...you probably heard me ramble on and on about one of my favorite shows---Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I love this show with a bit too much passion. But...now...something *else* is about to hit Adult Swim that is either gonna be a huge hit or a huge flop. It's hard to turn a strip into a cartoon (I'm thinking specifically of Garfield or the entire Baby Blues fiasco) and I'm seriously hoping that Boondocks makes the transition well.

November 6th is apparently the launch date. There are a couple of promo clips you can watch to get a feel for what the show might be like, but I can tell you this right now---it will be political, un-PC, and unabashedly controversial.

I can't *wait.*

If you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you can view some of the present and past strips to get a better feel for Boondocks.

And, if you don't know how controversial Aaron McGruder can be, you are in for a treat. It's a long article, but it has *lots* about Aaron McGruder, the creator of Boondocks, in it.

Like I said, *always* controversial, but at the same time, bitingly funny.

Got some feedback and added some shiny toys

I've added a hit counter and something from Feedburner that should provide readers with a RSS feed. Try it out and let me know if you can add me to your RSS reader. If not, I'll tweak it a bit.

Still looking for a profile picture...this one creeps my nephew out. Probably *not* the best choice.


Speak now or forever hold your piece....

So...I'm starting this blog and I'm taking suggestions.

I'm huge into:

pop culture
local issues and news
Illinois men's basketball
no-limit texas hold 'em

But...what kinds of things are *you* interested in....


My first post....

Okay. I finally did it. I started a blog. Not sure where it's going but this is the first step, right.

A journey of a thousand steps....

Definitely going to be local and political and, upon occasion, pointless.

Just like me, I guess.