Friday, November 21, 2008

Holy Schadenfreude!

From the video footage I've seen, it looks like AG Mike Mukasey is literally having a stroke at the podium.

Fortunately, it's been diagnosed as merely a "fainting spell" - he was released from the hospital today. Allegedly, tests have ruled out both stroke and heart attack and he's been listed as "very fit."

That said, the entire incident seems almost poetic...

WASHINGTON (AP) ― Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed during a speech Thursday night and lost consciousness, a Justice Department official

The 67-year-old Mukasey was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where his condition was not immediately known.

Mukasey was delivering a speech to the Federalist Society at a Washington hotel when "he just started shaking and he collapsed," said Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor. "They're very concerned."

Mukasey was 15 to 20 minutes into his speech about the Bush administration's successes in combating terrorism when he began slurring his words.

He collapsed and lost consciousness, said O'Connor, the department's No. 3 official.

Mukasey's was noticeably shaking during his speech before he collapsed shortly before 10:20 p.m. EST. His security detail called 911.

Mukasey was on the stage for 10 minutes being attended to by his FBI detail before medics arrived, according to a Justice Department official who was there.

Now, I'm not one to believe in a higher power, but man! To be talking about the success of Bush Administration? Regarding terrorism?

It's like the proverbial lightening bolt reached out of the sky and smacked him upside the head.

I do feel for the guy's family. Watching that video and just imagining my Pop slurring his words and collapsing made me a bit queasy. But as he's been released and deemed healthy, I'm more than happy to turn the spotlight on the Attorney General.

You see, this is your current AG and former federal judge (appointed back in the Reagan era) who, in 2004, constantly defended the Patriot Act and doubted that the FBI would ever engage in racial profiling? Who's down with waterboarding? And unauthorized wiretapping? Who actually said the words (as a lawyer and retired federal judge), that, "...not every wrong, or even every violation of the law is a crime," when referring to the tenure of his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales?

Maybe it wasn't a stroke.

Maybe it was just his conscience rebooting.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

worthy of the effort

So, if you don't know Pete, you should know that when he puts his energy into something, the results can be fairly spectacular. Case in point: Halloween

He decked out his entryway - check out the spinning pumpkin and the scary hands on the window. Makes me wish I was about 8 and trick or treating in his hood. He put together a compilation vid on the evening's exploits. The good times kick in around 1:10.

Kid 1 : Trick or Treat!
HallowPete: Trick or Treat!
Kid 1 : **Tonally screams for 5 seconds **

How Pete kept his shit together, I have no idea.
I can't stop laughing at that kid's response!

Kid 2: Are you real or pretend?
HallowPete: I'm pretend. You're pretending this entire thing.

Mad Props Pete.

Watching those kids reminds me of the first year I trick or treated in Wayne. We had just moved to into the area that summer, I was 9. I still felt like the new kid in town.

I don't recall too many of the parents dressing up to greet the kids at the door, but at this one dimly lit house that had a long scary tree-lined driveway (we were out in the boonies), the owner opened the door wearing a hugh latex mask...of Abe Lincoln.

It made the other kids scream (admittedly, Latex Abe was rather gruesome looking), but I was a huge fan of Lincoln (still am) and I remember that the sight of this tall hulking man with Abe's rubbery face put me at total ease...and made me crack up.

I distinctly remember that moment as the first time I felt like I might fit into that town.


Because the universe constantly seeks balance, and in counter to my brainless reverie yesterday (and thanks to an email this AM from my neighbor B), I've had the Constitution and Declaration of Independence running around my brain for hours.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Such beautiful words.
So gracefully and clearly stated.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Seriously, when I read this stuff it makes my heart flutter.
It makes me straighten my posture.
It makes me want to read thicker books.
The non-fiction kind.

I wish I knew why I react like a schoolgirl reading a note she found in her locker. It honestly makes me all weak-kneed and loopy. Usually when I come across fantastic writing, I get slightly distraught at the thought that I'll never write a sentence that good. Never craft a phrase that reaches in and yanks at the heart of the reader.

But when I read these words, I'm filled with something near bliss.
Simple, delightful bliss.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know our history. We have destroyed more personal freedom than we have granted. Slavery. Oppression of indigent tribes. Burning witches and interning our own citizens. Blacklists. Segreation. Hate crimes. Suffrage. On and on.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

At the core of this Republic remains a pledge to one another.
A promise that this country carries an opportunity to seek a more perfect union.

It's my happy thought on this Thursday, the 20th day of November in the year 2008.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

blah de blah: review

Can't quite focus my brain enough to think of a proper blog topic. So, I'm riding the brainless tide. I'll just blurby blurb about movies/DVDs I have recently watched and my brainless thoughts upon them.

Spaced: The Complete Series - from the Shaun of the Dead folks. I'm still in the midst of these, but Season 1 was pretty good. You can see the birth of SOTD happening in front of you. They just released this on DVD in the States, and this is a fun series with some enjoyable characters.

The Wire: Season 3 - While I'm less interested in the politico machinations this season focused on, I did enjoy the conclusion of the Barksdale saga. Even though you saw it coming like a semi bearing down on you and blaring on the horn, there was a sense of satisfaction all the same. S4 is already queued up.

Battlestar Galactica: Razor - Not my favorite of the BG series, but it was cool to get the backstory on Pegasus. I just think it had too many irons in the fire for its length. Still, living without cable (and Season 4, it's a nice placebo.)

Mad Men: Season 1 - SO FREAKING GOOD. I can't believe I have to wait FOREVER until S2 comes out! The number #1 reason I would get cable, if I had the dough.

Sex And The City: The Movie - Enjoyable. Better transition to the big screen than I had thought. While Jennifer Hudson did fine with her part, I think that whole "Carrie needs an assistant" thing was kinda a waste. Why introduce new characters instead of letting us enjoy seeing some of our favorite second bananas like Stafford and Anthony or hell? Who wouldn't want to run into Skipper 10 years later? Seemed like a missed opportunity.

Transsiberian - It took me a while to figure out that this movie was written/directed by the same guy who did Happy Accidents with Vincent D'Onofrio. Oddly, I had the exact same reaction to both movies. I wanted to like the movie more than I did. The acting was good, but there was just something that disconnected me with either the writing or the direction. It didn't impact me the way a really good story usually does. Utterly "close, but no cigar."

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - Guillermo del Toro is so deft at making a fantasy world look so amazingly lush and full. But, after Pan's Labyrinth, the storyline is just too one-dimensional for me. Worth watching, though. It's so pretty and crazy imaginative. It's like if you cracked his brain open, all the characters in Grimm's Fairy Tales would fall out.

Watch them. Don't watch them. It's all the same to me and my unfocused brain.
Let's hope my cranium steps it up for Quizzo tonight.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

.02 and other loose change

Robitussin DM MAX is my new best friend.

Just two doses in and I feel better than I have in over a week. I'm finally getting rid of the gunk that's been sitting in my chest since the election. I was shocked to notice an actual pep in my step earlier today. I think it's worth noting. Especially since I started my morning by walking to the car....and realising it was only Tuesday.

I had convinced myself it was Wednesday. Convinced.

After two weeks of convalescing, there's lots of stuff on the radar:

1) Headed back for another round of Quizzo tomorrow night...which makes me extra happy I'm feeling better
2) Poker fundraiser from WNEP on Saturday - more info soon.
3) SOIREE DADA opens it's first ever Christmas show Friday!

Rooty toot.

In other news...I am 100% against Hilliary as Secretary of State.

Don't get me wrong. I'm completely for her being part of the Cabinet, just not in that role. Mr. Silverstein over at Harper's put it quite concisely.

1) Hillary Clinton will have her own agenda (as will her husband). She’s not a team player and will bring in a crew of cronies whose chief aim will be to promote the boss, not the administration. Obama may wake up one day and discover that Hillary has decreed a new “Clinton Doctrine” of foreign policy.

2) It would be impossible, politically, to fire Hillary. No matter what she says or does, or how insubordinate, Obama will be stuck with her as long as she wants to stay.

3) Her husband is a walking conflict of interest. Bill helps a Canadian businessman land a uranium contract in Kazakhstan, and soon afterwards the businessman contributes to the Clinton Foundation. Bill’s personal and business dealings are embarrassing enough without Hillary heading the State Department.

4) The Clinton style of management–for example, pitting one faction of staff against another–would be a disaster at the State Department. Just look at how well it worked on the campaign trail.

5) And the strongest strike of all against Hillary as secretary of state… look at who endorses her. (Kissinger)

Listen. I'm all about appointing a strong personality with an independent constituency into a Cabinet position. I'm very excited about the idea of a truly bi-partisan (or HELL, a tri-partisan...quad-partisan?) cabinet. I'd love to see some Greenies and Independents onboard as well. I think that a variety of positions and backgrounds can strengthen a team.

But, I really think Hilliary in that specific role is a mistake.

Hillary opposed every significant peace initiative he put forward during the campaign (including the withdrawal timetable for Iraq.)

She called his policies "naive" and "dangerous"...and now she's going to be the face of those policies?

As here in the states, Obama seems to inspire a sense of change and enthusiasm across the globe. I just don't see Hilliary stoking that sense of diplomacy.

There are better uses for her skill set and better positions in an Obama Cabinet she would be suited for.

I just hope he gets it right and doesn't rush to this decision without fully weighing the consequences. The Clintons are a complex pandora's box. That's all I'm saying.

Monday, November 17, 2008


My nephew is going to turn 13 in a couple months. Holy Jaybus! He's starting the creep into puberty, his voice is dropping and YO, he's getting way too cool to hang with his aunt.

When he was a wee tot, we succumbed to his cuteness and would repeated ask him, "How big is AJ?" To our delight, he'd fall for it and raise his arms as far as he could reach. Why this is a delightful pastime is still a puzzle to me, but it never got old.

Pete, who witnessed much cuteness recently forwarded this video to me.

If only we could all enjoy such power...even for 22 seconds...while diapered.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


James Brett is an Englishman who, in 1999 while on a business trip to Peshawar in the north west province of Pakistan, had his first glass of pomegranate juice, and fell in love with it. He founded the first pomegranate juice drink in the UK, Pomegreat. (link NSFW...damn those Brits.)

FACT: Afghanistan has the best pomegranates in the world especially Kandahar.

Cut to 2007. His goal is to persuade farmers in Afghanistan - which produces 93 per cent of the world’s opiates - to stop growing poppies and grow pomegranates instead. By cultivating pomegranate fields, he insists their profits will more than double. He set up a charity called Pom354. He started with land owned/shared by 16 families in Kandahar.

According to UN and Afghan government figures, a typical poppy farmer makes approximately $2,000 per acre. James insists that pomegranate farmers will more than double that at around $5,000 per acre - a big incentive with a huge payoff - helping to rid the world of a drug that approximately 11 million people worldwide are addicted to.

Cut to 2008. More and more farmers wanted to make the switch to Pom354. A tribal meeting covering the entire Nangarhar Province was called, and 200 Tribal elders invited. The tribal elders agreed to finish poppy cultivation and switch to growing pomegranates throughout the entire Nangarhar Province by next year..

Poppy cultivation in the province of Nangarhar will cease from 2009, making it poppy-free for the first time in 100 years.

In the meantime, James’s company will help subsidise the farmers for the three years it takes for the region’s first pomegranate trees to mature.

The elders told Brett that their decision was based not only on a desire to maintain a level of stability, but because he was the first person who had ever come to them as just an ordinary man rather than a member of a foreign government or a military advisor, someone who simply wanted to see positive change.

The tribal elders and Brett then conducted the official opening ceremony in that first farmer's field, now cleared of poppies, and planted the first pomegranate tree sapling. A national meeting is now being planned to expand the pomegranate industry throughout Afghanistan, with the broad support of the Afghani tribal elders as well as the government.

This is the change I want to be.

Smart, bold change that benefits more than one person/company/country.

Economically grounded so that it is easier for the people who live there to make a choice that improves their quality of life, while working towards a global solution.

I'm sure there will be bumps in this road. I'm sure the opium dealers will fight this change. I hope our governments back this program and help these farmers move towards an independence from poppies.

It was just an idea...and then it was an action.

Now, I'm not sure that Pomegreat is available in the US...although, I'm a'lookin'.

With the economy still sucking the life out of folks' wallets, my family has decided (aside from my nephew) that we will not be exchanging presents for the holidays. But, I think that maybe, I might just have one gift that I'll give them all to share.

Adopting a pomogrante tree might just be the ticket.


Oof. I'm still having a LOT of trouble sleeping. It's part hacking cough and part general stress. I finally fell asleep around 3am. Woke up before my alarm with a raging headache at 5:38am.

That's less than 3 full hours.

Holy fuck.

Wish me luck making it through this day with the ability to form full sentences.

In other news...back in October, Goose tagged me with one of those meme thingamabobs. It's been on my "to do" list for a while now, so might as well kick out the jams while I'm thinking about it.

List seven random and/or weird facts about myself.

1. I have twice the number of platelets in my system than the average human. This has been verified by the fine folks at LifeSource, where I am a registered blood (and sometime platelet) donor. My veins aren't what they used to be and you need hard core veins for apheresis donation, so I don't get to donate those as much as I'd like.

2. I can only knit rectangles. I've tried to learn how to read patterns and I'm ridiculously inept. I have made about 7 different far. If you want a scarf, I'm your Huckleberry.

3. I have lived in my condo for over 4 years...and I've yet to hang anything on the walls. Sufficed to say, I have major nesting issues. I have lots of artwork to hang, but I just can't pull the trigger. Good news...I did finally get those blinds up last month. (Thanks to my big sister visiting.) And that only took a year. So, hope springs. Sorta.

4. When I finally met one of my personal heroes, Studs Terkel, the only thing I could think of to ask to have him write as he autographed my book was, "Happy Birthday, Rebecca!" It was no where near my birthday. Admittedly, I should have thought that one out a bit more.

5. In my 8th grade yearbook, nearly all the messages are made out to my nickname from that year..."E.T." I can't remember how it started, but kids would literally address me as E.T. in the hallways. And it was completely without menace or irony. They weren't making fun of me, it was just...a nickname. I was a huge fan of the movie (and Spielberg in general.) I even had a t-shirt that had an iron-on decal on the front and "E.T." in a velvety monogram on the back. My yearbook is full of, "E.T., Stay Sweet!" and "Have a great summer, E.T!" and "Let's hang out this summer, E.T.!" For reals.

6. I have a practical joke that I literally plan on revealing at my funeral. For the record, I don't do practical jokes. I think they are petty, juvenille and 99% of the time, not funny enough to match the effort. I kind of stumbled into this, but it's been in the works for nearly 15 years already and only one other person is in on it. I just hope I can pull it off...from beyond the grave. Of course, with my luck, everyone will just look around at each other incredously and say, "WTF? Are you kidding me with that shit?" And then storm out. I soooo want people to knock my casket over and then storm out.

7. I once stalked a local band from Chicago to a gig in Michigan. No. You've never heard of them. And it was definitely more under the "stalker" umbrella than the "overly zealous fan." I convinced another friend on the fly to drive to Michigan (and stay at some fleabag motel) just to hear them do the same set we saw a few days earlier, in a teeny tiny club with about 30 folks present...and I still didn't have the nerve to go up to the band and say, "What up, yo!" I'm shaking my head right now as I type this. Chicken Shit 20-something. Nowadays, I'd at least have the temerity to send them a round.

Since most of the folks who I know who have a blog have already been tagged, I'll invite my loyal readers (all 4 of you) to list 7 random things about themselves in the comments.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

lullaby for the troops

Still sick. And working from home. And a bumpy work day at that.

It's Veteran's Day. For the past week, since the election, I've been wondering...What has been going on in Iraq? Yes. Our economy is doing a tailspin around us...but there really hasn't been any comprehensive reporting (or reporting at all) on Iraq for a few weeks now.

I'm sure some folks haven't wanted to talk about Iraq since it would seem to benefit McCain...but Obama has now been president elect for a week...and still, nothing. Hey, I don't want to pile on with all that Obama has to gear up to tackle, but it's not like Iraq is a Chevy under a tarp on blocks in the driveway. You can't ignore it for weeks or months at a time. You can't ignore it at all.

We as a country have so many problems right now. So many houses on fire, we don't seem to have time to look elsewhere.

This afternoon on the news, I saw Cheney for the first time in weeks. He was lying a wreath at Arlington. It made me want to throw a brick at the television. There are few people I hate in the world. I hate Cheney. There is a difference between those who are misguided and those who are corrupt. so many other days, I'm thinking of the soliders. Those that serve today, those that have served and those that will.

Please let them all find some peace in this world.

I was looking for another video to complement this. To lessen the injury and let folks know that there will be an end to this war. I want to say thank you, but I don't have it in me to post some video with eagles and flags and smoke filled skies.

Every day you make it out of bed and into the world...and make it back home to bed...
It's a good day.

I hope everyone makes it home to bed tonight.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

it's viral, yo.

What I failed to mention yesterday is that when I woke up at 4am and started bawling, that my exhaustion wasn't merely due to a long day at the polls or the emotional catharsis of the election ending.

I'm sick.*

It's a nasty ass head cold, too. I think. (Unless I'm throwing up or literally have to crawl from my bed to the bathroom, I usually think it's just a cold and not the flu.) Yesterday, I was running a fever or something, because I was so cold I went to turn on the heat. Except that it was 72 degrees in my unit! Instead, I made myself some tea, threw on some extra socks, wrapped myself up like a burrito in a couple blankets and rode out my chills.

Lucky me. I plan a vacation day on what turns out to be one of the warmest, sunniest November days we've had in like 40 yrs and I'm stuck in bed sucking back Nyquil. Bah.

From the time I got home on Tuesday night, until this morning (Thurs) - I hadn't seen a soul. No one to high five or hug or dance around with. I turned the phone off to get some rest yesterday, so I haven't even chatted up anyone (except my mom briefly) about the election.

I wish I had the energy to go to the rally that night, but just walking the few blocks home knocked me out, so the idea of traveling downtown and herding my way through the mass of humanity was more that I could conceive.

Fortunately, my friends went and here's the vid.

I wish I could have been there to share the moment with you guys, but I really do feel like my time as an election judge was really a positive thing. Watching people vote and being part of the process was very cathartic.

*(Don't worry Dave, hell or high water I'm working the event on Friday.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

breathe in


This is just the beginning. This is the start of journey.

We've voted to move our country towards opportunity and prosperity.
We've made it know that we want to heal this nation.

Now. We've all got to do it. He can't do it alone.

We got him elected.
Now we have to commit to helping him and each other make it all happen.

I'm in.


It's 4:34 in the morning.

I'll give a full report of my election judge experience soon, but last night, while there was no long line out the door as the polls closed at 7pm, our district had 76% voter turnout overall.

When you think that an average turnout is normally less than 30%, you could feel that people really wanted to be heard this year.

I live 2 blocks from my polling place and I was home by 8:30pm. After starting my day at 3:50am, I was exhausted. Too tired to cook dinner or even wait to order take-out, I was watching some of the returns, but my signal was being scrambled. Someone with a ham radio or something was screwing up my analog reception.

When I finally shut off the TV at 9:30pm, Obama was at 200, McCain at 124.

The pundits were saying "too close to call" in more states than I was ready to think about, so, I crawled into bed and tried to sleep.

I tossed and turned and think I finally fell asleep about 11:30. I thought about turning on the tv a few times, but I guess I was too nervous of a 2000 repeat - that they wouldn't be able to call it. I just pulled the covers over my head and tried to rest.

So, it's 4:3o in the morning, and I woke up. My knee and back are killing me. Probably from a lack of getting more than 4 hours sleep at a go the last few days, along with sitting in a craptastic chair for nearly 14 hours straight.

So I thought...hell with it. It's time to see.

Pennslyvania. Ohio. Virginia and omg...Florida.

And I just started bawling. I'm so relieved, so happy, so proud of the millions who turned out to vote. So thrilled that the majority of them seek to embrace new leadership. Amazed at folks like Geo who drove to Indiana to get out the vote. Still so stunned that 55 million folks still thought the other party was worthy of their vote. But, mostly, just relieved and grateful that a new page in the history of our country is turning.

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's on like Donkey Kong

As I ponder what my experience might be tomorrow as a novice election judge, I'm torn between utter excitement at being part of the process (and a bit of history), and the idea of a day that starts at 4am and may end 15 or 16 hours later.

Someone asked me why I'd sign up in the first place...

Tomorrow, there will be Republicans and Democrats and Independents and Libertarians and Greenies. I want them all to vote. The one idea that they emphasized at my training is that my job as an Election Judge was not to try to impede people from voting, but to make sure that everyone has a voice and all registered voters get their votes counted.

No matter how you vote, I want to make sure your vote counts.

Is the world free from corruption? No. I doubt it ever will be. But if enough of us stand together and say NO and play a part, maybe we can shake some of it loose and...hell, I'll say it...

Let freedom ring.

Now if I can get my lazy, out of shape ass to my polling place at 5am to prepare for you, YOU can get your ass over there and VOTE. (Maybe even unplug your earbuds and actually talk to your fellow line holders. They might be happy to see you too.)

While I will be impartial tomorrow, today I can say, I want Obama to win by a wide margin. A WIDE MARGIN. Only way that will happen is if everyone who is committed to voting gets out and VOTES.

It's going to be a beautiful Indian Summer day.
Don't phone it in. Get yer ass out and VOTE.