Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wicked Awesome Poem Wednesday

Mine Host

Yon huddled cloud his motion shifts,
Where, by the tavern on the dale,
The thirsty horseman, nodding, lifts
The creaming horn of corny ale.

Mellowing, like some old cucumber
That curves and fattens on its bed,
From his own vats, right jolly fare,
Full thirty suns mine host hath fed.

His tavern is our chief resort,
For he, whose cellar is his pride,
Gives stouter ale and riper port
Than any in the countryside.

Mine host is fat, and grey, and wise,
He strokes his beard before he speaks;
And when he laughs, his little eyes
Are swallowed in his pampered cheeks.

He brims his beaker to the top,
With jokes you never heard before,
And sometimes with a twinkling drop
For those who will not taste it more.

-Lord Alfred Tennyson

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter ‘P’

I got, like, no sleep last night; or very little. I was up well past 2am, and was dog-napped out of bed at 6:30am this morning after having decided to sleep in and go to work late (hey, it’s the last week of the year and eh-hev-vrybody has the week off) by the girls, who really wanted to go out and play in the snow.

So I’m particularly punchy … and talkative … I mean, I talk a lot anyway, but when I’m extremely tired, my talking nonstoppedness quotient rises exponentially. Which basically means I was about halfway to work when I realized I hadn’t stopped chattering. To myself. The entire time. Not once.

I just babbled away in a non-linear stream-of-consciousness exposition of one (not for nothing was my childhood nickname ‘Jablious Bablious’) … until I realized how cool the name Daft Punk is. Go ahead, say it, “Daft … Punk”. Cool, yes?

Just the way the ‘ft’ sounds in conjunction with the ‘puh’ … and you have to really punch it when you turn over from ‘daft’ to ‘punk’. Can’t be some namby-pamby whisper of a transition, no! Must move on to PUNK with authoritae, Mr. Cartman! Authoritae I say!

After I gigglesnorted “daft PUnk” about 30 times, with a British accent no less, ‘cuz that’s just so much cooler, I leaped to those word games you play where there’s a story with a bunch of blanks and you fill in the blank with whatever type of word it calls for, such as a noun, or a verb, or an adjective, or whatever.

I started to make my own up and got as far as “The Daft Punk entered the room” when I started subbing “Def Leppard” and then got off on this whole kick to create those word games but make them music-industry-specific. Yeah! Like a rock version, and a pop version, and blues, and, and, and … in the words of the Mask, “Somebody stop me!”

Then I just started spouting off words that begin with the letter “P” and I was in love. With the letter “P”. Perfect!

The letter “P” rocks!! It rolls! Think about it:

  • Pickle!
  • Pewter!
  • Puppy!
  • Purple!
  • Pickle! (I just really like that word)
  • Panda!
  • Penguin!
  • Pi!
  • Pottery!
  • Peacock!
  • Pillow! (or, as my brother used to pronounce it when we were kids, “pull-low”)

Then I moved on to words with the letter “P” in them:

  • Hippopotamus!
  • Perpendicular!
  • Intergalactic Planetary … Planetary Intergalactic!

Then I called my best friend and dragged her into the insanity, and she gave me ‘Pineapple!’ And then I was at work.

But … that’s how I learned you’re never too old to have a favorite letter.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, My Word, That is Just so Sad

So I went ahead and taped a whole slew of Christmas movies starting right after Thanksgiving, in anticipation of the annual we're-not-showing-any-new-programing-until-after-the-new-year that the Big Three (e.g., ABC, NBC, and CBS) generally subject me to. Sigh. Those jerks.

And I've been watching the movies off and on. For the most part they're juvenile, contrived, and treacly; you know, instead of tugging at the heartstings fair ripping them out using them to saw off an arm only to then use that to bludgeon one over the head ... but I love 'em anyway. I am just about the biggest sap you'll ever meet when it comes to Christmas programming. I do believe I embody the demographic.

In any case, tonight I watched yet another, this one called "Thomas Kinkade's Christmas Cottage". I love that it had so many actors I truly enjoy, such as Marcia Gay Harden as the mom, Peter O-Toole as the mentor, Richard Burgi as the ne'er-do-well dad, Ed Asner as the mentor's agent, Jared Padelecki as the main character Tom, and Charlotte Rae, Chris Elliot, Richard Moll, and Geoffrey Lewis (!) as colorful town characters.

I have loved Geoffrey Lewis since he played Philo Beddoe's best bud Orville Boggs in both 'Every Which But Loose' and 'Any Which Way You Can', which my friends and I must have seen a dozen times each when they came out, they were that cool (in our defense, we were 12 and 14, respectively ... the <gasp!> language alone made them guilty pleasures) ... plus they starred Rowdy Yates himself! Yummy!!

But back to this evening. There came this one scene of Lewis' that picked me up, threw me on the ground, and stomped all over my heart: his character, Butch, who had lost his 19 year old son as a casualty of the Vietnam war eight years prior, asks Tom if he'd like to take a walk with him, to go visit his son. Next scene: cemetery.

They're standing side-by-side, in front of Butch's son Lance's headstone, and here's what Butch said (with built-in pauses as close to actual as I could emulate) that had me bawling like I'd lost my best friend:

"I can't sleep.

They say ...
that time heals,
but I ...

still can't sleep.

And, uh ...
it hurts the same
year after year.

Why doesn't it get easier?

I miss you.
Son, I miss you ...
very much."

And here's where he saluted his boy and said,

"Merry Christmas."

Then he sighed and walked away.

Up 'til the part where he said "I miss you" I thought he was talking to Tom, so when I realized it was really Lance he addressed, I just lost it.

Oh! Doesn't that just kill you?!? All I could think about was that here we are, at war again, and there are people who feel this way. Every day. Really and truly live in those bones, right now, and there's not a single thing I can do to help them.

I don't know who they are, so even though I want to hug them all and make their pain go away, I'm probably actaully that asshat who yells at them when they get distracted in traffic and slow me down, or when they they can't make a decision and get the hell out of my way at the store, or when they fail on a deliverable at work. I mean, how would I know? And why can't I just remember how much I love these people right now ... but all the time ... so I can be considerate of what they may be living through? Why instead does everything have to revolve around me?

You know, stuff like that. And it's when I get these little epiphanies that I decide to strive to be better. Not so much a better person, although I guess that's part if it, but just strive to be better, period.

It's not going to end any wars, or bring loved ones back to family members who miss them, but it could help, even if it's just a tiny little bit, right? Be better, be good, be nice, be kind, be loving, take care with other's hearts. Go ahead and be the glue.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Cease and Desist The Prosecution of 3 Navy Seals

Cease and Desist The Prosecution of 3 Navy Seals

Back on the 5th I had a link to a facebook petition, but those of you not on facebook felt all left out and abused ... so here's a non-facebook petition that you CAN join. Yay!

Now go join.

Combo Not Meant to Exist in Nature

Oh, and last night? Yeah … finally figured out why I really dislike the taste of my nightly Airborne concoction; I don’t think it was designed to be taken immediately following the brushing of the teeth.

Because I’m preeeetty sure that lemony/limey/minty-fresh ‘goodness’ is not exactly a flavor combination meant to exist in nature.


I’m normally not this slow on the uptake; it’s just that my bedtime routine has become, well, routine …. and then I went and inserted my Winter Airborne ritual into the wrong slot:

  1. Slather Noxema all over entire face
  2. Wash Noxema off
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Pop into the jammies
  5. Guzzle glass of Airborne (gag for a minute)
  6. Sulfurize face (ugh … my prescription for that ‘adult acne’ we grownups like to classify as ‘rosacea’ so we don’t feel like greasy-faced teens; and yes, it smells just like you’d think sulfur would … on my face … sigh)

Any who … I believe I may change up the batting order here … may discover I actually like Airborne if I move it to step numero uno.

You don’t know!

Could happen!

The Birds, the BIRDS!!

one of the blue jays and a sparrow

one of the male cardinals

one of the female cardinals

the other female cardinal with the other blue jay

the other male cardinal
i tried to get a picture of a male and female cardinal together, but they came out way too fuzzy and out of focus.
if you look closely, you can kind of tell how windy it is today (it's very windy!).
their little feathers are all ruffled.

Kaia Finds the Camera Fascinating

What WHAT?!?! Snonami for Christmas!!!!

Not really a 'snonami', but it was plenty enough snowfall for the girls, who have now been outside more than they've been inside today. They're kind of cracking me up ... they act exactly like us kids used to when we were little, and would go out until our cheeks, hands, feet, and boogars froze ... then run inside to warm up for awhile ... then back outside to start the process all over again. Although I have no idea if their boogars are actually freezing. Do dogs even have boogars?

Apparently I like the word 'boogars' today.

This picture was taken after they'd been racing around like maniacs the first time they went out this morning (I've lost count of how many times they've come in/gone out since). Yep, they pretty much covered every inch of the dog run 'investigating' in about five minutes.

They think Santa brought the snow just for them!

We were using the basement door to get in and out all morning because the snow drifted a foot or so up the sliding glass doors that lead from the kitchen out to the deck. After what seemed like our nine hundredth trip downstairs to go in or out, I finally shoveled a path out the kitchen door and across the deck.

I planned ahead and filled four of the bird feeders with seed last night ... today I have a wealth of winged visitors! Two (TWO!) each of both male and female Cardinals, and two Blue Jays ... their colors just pop with the Winter white background. Plus all my little Sparrow 'regulars'. The cats and I have been plastered to the living room windows watching them.

I love snow at Christmas.

Let not mankind bogart love"
-Willie Nelson

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!!!!

He's making a list, checking it twice, gonna chillax while riding his bike, Santa Claus is coming to town!

Even Santa needs to cut loose sometimes, and thisclose to crunch time, ya gotta cut the big guy a little slack!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wicked Awesome Poem Wednesday

Good King Wenceslas

Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
deep and crisp and even;
Brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
gathering winter fuel.

"Hither, page, and stand by me, if thou know'st it, telling:
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence, underneath the mountain;
Right against the forest fence,
by Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither;
Thou and I will see him dine,
when we bear them thither."
Page and monarch, forth they went, forth they went together,
Through the rude wind's wild lament
and the bitter weather.

"Sire, the night is darker now and the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how;
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page, tread thou in them boldly.
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure: wealth or rank possessing-
Ye who now will bless the poor
shall yourselves find blessing.

-John Mason Neale

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Don Bosco Organization and Johnny Dare’s Hand Up

The awesomeness happened again this morning, but I’m probably going to be a bit off on the names (I was driving to work and things were just happening too fast for me to commit to memory). In any case:

Carrie mentioned that it looks as though the Don Bosco Centers 2009 Holiday Friends Program will be unable to help their last 30 families this year, as they’re $5000 short of the total funds required to cover them. Johnny remembered that Carla Brewer, Director of the Family Support Center, is a friend of the show, so he called her.

Carla explained that this year they had to cut down on the number of families they could take on, to ensure they could cover them all, but that it turns out they're still going to be short. Now, the Holiday Friends Program “mobilizes donors throughout the city who are looking for a way to give back during the holidays to adopt families in need. Clients apply for the Holiday Friends program and are screened for genuine need. Donors can then choose the family they wish to adopt, and can either deliver the gifts directly to the family or deliver gifts to Don Bosco for the families to pick-up.”

So who are the adoptees? “Imagine being a single mother raising three children, struggling to make ends meet and just hoping that you'll be able to provide a memorable Christmas for your children. Imagine being a senior citizen, alone with no family nearby, using your little income to pay for rent, utilities and medication, but wishing you could afford to feel the warmth of the holidays. Imagine being a father who is picking up the pieces after losing your job with nothing to spare for your family during the holiday season.” These are the local folk in need of us.

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because, as Johnny explained this morning, his Hope for the Holidays was originally modeled after the Holiday Friends Program. Small world, no?

You know what came next: Johnny threw open the phone lines to see how much Hope for the Holidays could bring in for the Holiday Friends.

And 9 minutes and 53 seconds later, all $5000 had been raised!!!

Gimme a HELL! Gimme a YEAH! Stand up right now!
Gimme a HELL! Gimme a YEAH! Yeeeeeaah!
Hey! Hey! HEY! HEY!

One of the things that was so typical, and yet so astonishing, about this was the $2500 single donation from the Pipefitters working up North of the city. These guys aren’t local, but have been up there awhile working and listen to the Johnny Dare Morning Show every morning, and decided they wanted to contribute to Hope for the Holidays. Just like that.

So, working away from home, away from their own loved ones, they put together their $2500 and have been trying to get through the Hope for the Holidays phone lines to donate it for weeks (but the lines are always busy, because the people in this area are freaking AWESOME in their awesomosity … yeah, stole that term right there from Rassles and ain’t ever giving it back … and fair JAM those phone lines every day lining up to give back into the community). They finally got through today, and in one fell swoop (or is that one swell foop?) cared for fifteen local families. FIFTEEN!!

It all happened so fast that when Johnny went back to Carla on the other line to congratulate her, she was literally undone. You could tell listening to her as she tried to thank Kansas City that Carla was overwhelmed at the abrupt change in circumstances. And what a wonderful change it was!

I’m only sorry that I cannot for the life of me remember exactly who those wonderful Pipefitters are … but whoever they are, they’re honorary members of the community now.

And you have to admit, isn’t it way cool that one of our longstanding local programs bred one of our other longstanding locals programs, and that between the two they pretty much cover all walks of life demographically? You can’t not find a way to help out around here!

Our Adopt-A-Family Story of 2009

I shamelessly stole the vast majority of this post from Keith, who wrote it up for the plant newsletter so the guys all knew just exactly what awesomeness they’ve perpetrated this holiday season.

There is an analogy used to describe the “Chaos Theory” that if a butterfly flaps its wings in China, the single action sets in motion a chain of events that can alter the weather in the United States. Can such a seemingly insignificant action really have such grand repercussions?

At our facility we are proud of our safety record; to date we have had only one OSHA recordable incident in all of 2009 (as a point of reference, for an industry our size the average number of incidents is 4.6). That injury occurred back in February. Every 90 days we work safely we enjoy the opportunity to gather for a meal with our co-workers … the food is fresh off the grill, cooked to perfection by our management staff at each shift’s scheduled meal break … it is a time to reflect on the success of the previous three months in a fun atmosphere, focusing on the happy fact that we were all regularly returned to our families in the same condition we had left them prior to shift starts.

At the end of November we were due to celebrate our third consecutive 90-day period without an injury (270 days), but there was already a Thanksgiving dinner scheduled for the entire plant during the same timeframe, so we decided that for this celebration, instead of a cookout at work, we would reward everyone with a gift card for the purpose of buying a turkey for family holiday celebrations at home. A signup sheet was soon circulated to everyone to indicate which s/he'd prefer: a $15 Wal-Mart gift card, or a $15 Price Chopper gift card.

At the same plant meeting in which we circulated said signup sheets, we covered other topics related to current events as well as our overall performance throughout the previous period. One of the items disclosed was that our facility made a commitment to participate in the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program as an opportunity to make the holidays a time of joy for a local family that simply does not have the resources this year.

We jumped in headfirst and adopted a family of seven: a mother, a father, and their five children, ages 14, 13, 9, 8, and 6. This was something we had never attempted in the past, and it was now our responsibility to provide for an entire family. If we failed, we would be disappointing a family in our own neighborhood. We outlined our plan to provide for the family, with cash donation jars and ornaments on a tree in our lobby where anyone who wanted to could claim a requested item from our adopted family and donate that specific gift.

What happened next was amazing!!

The next day, an hourly employee approached a member of management and asked if, instead of receiving his gift card for the safety milestone, he could donate that money directly to our adopted family. Managment was thrilled to honor that request, and to be honest a little sheepish that none of our staff members had thought of it! We provided this option to the rest of the plant, not knowing what to expect (but we should have).

The response was overwhelming!!

As more and more of our hourly employees donated their cards, somehow our CEO Ron S., in NJ, caught wind of the movement and generously pledged to match employee donations for our Adopt-a-Family program.

When they heard of this additional generosity, even more of our hourly employees donated their cards … contractors who have been in our facility for years and who seem like part of the 'work family' were eager to join in our efforts, bringing items they claimed off of our Adopt-A-Family tree and making additional cash donations … vendors jumped at the chance to help as well when the opportunity was placed in front of them.

As the donations continued to accumulate, our volunteer Adopt-a-Family Committee, devoted to administering the logistics of gathering the requested items for our family, quickly realized we had an abundance of resources. One week earlier the concern was that we wouldn’t be able to provide for this one family; now we had more than we ever anticipated! One option certainly could have been to donate the excess funds directly to our adopted family (an option many favored), however, we elected to follow the motto of the Salvation Army itself, “Doing the Most Good”, and try to impact as many families in our community as possible. The new concern was how many families can we now help?

The decision was made to adopt another family, this time a family of five: a mother, a father, and their three children, ages 14, 12, and 7. Our contact at the Salvation Army was so appreciative; she had just come from a meeting where they were discussing how best to accommodate the 30 new families that had signed up. With the donations already in hand, our second family was quickly and completely provided for as well.

We added another family of five (a mother, a father, and their three children, ages 10, 8, and newborn) … then another (this last a single mother with four children, ages 14, 11, 8, and 6 months). A total of four families had now been claimed! By the nature of this program, all of these families are located right here in our Kansas City, KS, area.

We have been humbled by the requests of these families: fathers in need of warm work clothes or tools; children requesting clothes, art supplies, or shoes that fit; mothers giving up their opportunity to ask for a personal gift to instead ask for dishes or a microwave to feed the family. We see ourselves in some of these requests, and many have generously donated items that they would have liked to have received as children. Others got their families involved, challenging their children to put in perspective what they’ve requested for Christmas this year, and to give up something cherished so that someone else can have a nice holiday.

Stories trickled in about the other traditions that many of our ‘work family’ members already participate in every year, such as the families that come together (using their own resources) to cook in their church’s kitchen to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for anyone who walks through the doors of the common area. Hundreds of people are fed at this event, with increasing targets annually. Other employees adopt a family through their own local community organizations every year.

These employees have shared the encouragement they’ve experienced, belonging to an organization that has the same spirit of philanthropy and giving back to the community they share.

When the final numbers were tallied, we had 46 employees contribute the funds for their $15 gift cards (intended for their personal holiday celebrations) so that families they don’t know, and will never meet, will have a warm and merry Christmas; we had matching funds from corporate; we had an unknown number of individuals donate gifts out of their own pockets; we had generous cash contributions from our employees; we had vendors and contractors jump in and actively participate … most importantly, we made an impact in the community where we all work, and many of us live.

Working from the Salvation Army-provided list of 'needs' and 'wants', where each family member listed one of each, our committe developed a shopping list with price estimates to help determine the budget we'd need to cover our families. We vastly overestimated many of the costs, and so were able to double up on quite a few of the necessities: where one of our adopted family members asked for an outfit, we were able to get two. Using this budget, we were able to get each and every item on the lists of each and every adopted family member's, and then some. We were also able to provide each family with additional funds (in the form of a VISA gift card) for both a holiday meal and for Mom and Dad to be able to pick out a few personal gifts for their children.

Children who will be happy with the bounty of new things, and their parents who will be relieved of the burden of providing a little something extra for Christmas.

A butterfly flapped its wings at our facility, and while the value of the Chaos Theory may be debated by scholars & academics, there is no debate that our commitment to safety and to our community will be felt by those that needed help the most this holiday season.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Today’s 'Hand Up' was Hands Down the Best

So you already know how much I love my morning radio program (the Johnny Dare Morning Show on KQRC), and how very much I appreciate their Hope for the Holidays program, and how I pretty much tear up on the way into work every morning during the holidays, when they contact that day’s families and rev up the ‘Hand Up’.

Well, today was no exception, but my word! What a simultaneously heartrending and heartwarming situation. Karly, a single mom of two young boys, works hard to ensure their needs are met. She’s not having trouble making ends meet, has their Christmas cared for, isn’t asking for help. But.

But her cousin Jennifer, a single mom of three (two boys and a girl), who would have been 44 today, was killed by a drunk driver on the 11th. Jen and Karly (cousins and best friends) made one another legal guardians of their children in case anything ever happened to them. Karly now has three more children, and has lost her best friend.

Jennifer had moved to San Antonio, TX, a couple years ago; her funeral was the 18th. Karly’s parents flew down to TX to bring Jen and her children home. These three little ones have not only lost their mommy, but they have absolutely nothing suitable for a KS/MO winter climate, and Karly, who will get aid for the children with the new year, doesn’t have enough to swing appropriate clothing for the little ones, let alone toys for their Christmas.

Kary’s not asking for help with the 'usual' (e.g., rent/mortgage, utilities, vehicle payment, a medical procedure), isn’t looking to feed her kids or cover their needs. What she is looking for is a way to integrate her ‘niece’ and ‘nephews’ into her family as seamlessly as possible, and a way to provide a Christmas of sorts that may help negate the horror of their situation; a way to make Christmas not be the absolute worst time of the year for these children for the rest of their lives. She fair brought down the house when she described the difficulty of getting one of Jen’s sons to leave the cemetery; he didn’t want to leave his mommy alone.

So Johnny and Carrie decided on $1000 to give Karly a hand up. And they raised it within 6 minutes. Then they determined another $500 would be a better figure, seeing as Jennifer’s little ones need full sets of winter clothing each (San Antonio not being all that well known for its frigid weather conditions). That was raised in about another minute. You couldn’t get through on the phone lines (I tried … busy … busy … busy).

To top it off, Cosentino’s Price Chopper threw in a $500 gift card so Karly could lay in provisions for awhile without having to worry too much about how it will expand her meager budget.

This is why I love these guys; they give the community the opportunity to step up and behave like a true community. And the folk giving the hand up? Yeah, half the time they don’t even want to tell Johnny their first name, let alone their last … they’re not in it for the recognition, people, they’re in it for the way it makes them feel, and because its the right thing to do.

And that? There aren’t enough words in the English language to cover just how perfectly awesome that is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wicked Awesome Poem Wednesday

Christmas Greetings

Lady dear, if Fairies may
For a moment lay aside
Cunning tricks and elfish play,
'Tis at happy Christmas-tide.

We have heard the children say -
Gentle children, whom we love -
Long ago, on Christmas Day,
Came a message from above.

Still, as Christmas-tide comes round,
They remember it again -
Echo still the joyful sound
"Peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Yet the hearts must childlike be
Where such heavenly guests abide:
Unto children, in their glee,
All the year is Christmas-tide!

Thus, forgetting tricks and play
For a moment, Lady dear,
We would wish you, if we may,

Merry Christmas, glad New Year!

-Lewis Carroll

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wicked Awesome Poem Wednesday

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Something Else to Chap My Ass

While I realize the state of Tiger Woods’ marriage is of vital importance to the WHOLE WORLD, I’m thinking maybe we can reign it back a bit and turn our attention to something that is actually worth discussion.

Such as the fact that three of the Navy SEALs who captured known terrorist Ahmed Hashim Abed, believed to be the mastermind (if the ringleader of such an act of barbarism can be labeled as such) behind the 2004 murder of four Blackwater USA security consultants outside Fallujah.

This example of human corruption, apparently sporting a bloody fat lip, accused the three SEALs of punching him. In the gut. Oh, waah. Big baby. I hope they did punch him … I hope they kicked him, too (but not really, because they’re better than I am … I would have punched and kicked him, though, right before I shot him in both lungs and the stomach, but then that’s why no-one has ever been dumb enough to put a gun in my hands). But I digress … because right here I just want to know: what is the significance of a fat lip if he’s claiming to have been punched in the stomach? Was it a super-duper-really-hard punch that sent shockwaves throughout his body, hmm?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

In any case, because of Abu Ghraib backlash, the Navy will not ignore such an accusation (this one actually came from the Iraqi chain of command, who had taken custody of the prisoner and to whom he had made the allegation originally), so the three were set for a “captain’s mast”, which is basically a military non-trial where the accused person’s commanding officer conducts an inquiry, holds a hearing, and finally determines one of three possible dispositions: 1) dismiss the charges, not considered an acquittal; 2) assign punishment less than court martial, not considered a conviction; or 3) recommend a court martial, which is, in fact, a trial.

It is the captain’s mast that all three SEALs have refused, thus driving the Navy into one of two possible actions: 1) drop all charges; or 2) conduct an actual trial by court martial, which is what our three requested. I get it, I really do; these guys must be pissed at the entire ordeal. Not only are their ethics being called into question by a murderous gasbag of a terrorist, for crying out loud, but they’re being punished for doing their job! And well. They brought him in alive, which is just plain astonishing and kudos to them.

I imagine that last bit (the bringing in alive-ed-ness) would have to have been difficult for a good percentage of our young men over there in the Middle East, who are mired neck-deep in the atrocities of this terrible war.

So, these three young men, these heroes, now face criminal charges:

  • Special Operations Petty Officer 2nd Class (SO-2) Matthew McCabe, charged with dereliction of duty, making a false statement, and assault.
  • SO-2 Jonathan Keefe, charged with dereliction of duty and making a false statement.
  • SO-1 Julio Huertas, charged with dereliction of duty, making a false statement, and impeding an investigation.

Their arraignments are scheduled for Monday (December 7th), with the court martial coming in January. Ridiculous.

You can show your support, too, by joining the protest.

FYI: that ambush this animal planned? Yeah, the Blackwater guys were escorting supplies to a catering company for crying out loud. They were ambushed and killed, then their bodies were mutilated, burned, dragged through Fallujah, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River for a photo op (advantage of which the world press gladly took, because they pander to the kind of people who eat that stuff up; Don Henley was so right about the whole Dirty Laundry thing, and that was back in 1982!).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Because People? Are Freaking AWESOME!!

It’s that time again, when I well up every morning on the way to work while listening to Kansas City's own Johnny Dare Morning Show on 98.9 KQRC. Why? Because Hope for the Holidays has cranked into gear, and John Caprefoli (e.g., Johnny Dare), Jake the Phone Snake, Gregg Todt, T-Bone, Carrie Coogan, (to some extent) Bob Edwards, and WE are all over it.

I love Hope for the Holidays, which has the fitting tagline of “it’s not a hand out, it’s a hand up.” So what is it? Well, since I am inherently lazy, let me pull my explanation from back in March …

Hope for the Holidays (it’s not a hand-out, it’s a hand-up): where listeners, many simply overlooked by conventional organizations, from Thanksgiving through Christmas either write or call in with their needs, and Johnny gets it on-air, then calls the petitioner for more specifics, and puts them together with other listeners who call in to help brighten their holidays.

As they say, if you’re in need this holiday season, maybe your neighbors can help make it a little brighter … fill out this form, or write to:

Hope for the Holidays
c/o Entercom Broadcasting
7000 Squibb Road
Mission, KS 66202

You can tell how much it hurts to have to ask for help, and how much it heals to do the helping. There are many years where a contributor was a past recipient and, sadly, the other way ‘round. The amazing thing? Within minutes, minutes, what is needed has been found as the phone lines light up with listeners who want to help.

Overdue utilities are made current, toys and clothing are delivered for children, pantries are filled, and food is put on the table. Building supplies are donated, as well as time and expertise to get the job done. Car payments are made, new tires are installed and balanced, and funds are set up so bread-winners can get much-needed surgeries without worrying they’ll lose everything while in recovery.

This is something really and truly special in and of itself, but the most wonderful thing about it is that they always, always exceed their goals. Always. Because of you.

And anyone can contribute. If you wish to remain anonymous, or can’t make it to the studio with your donation, you can bring it to any CapFed (that’s Capital Federal bank) branch … just make sure you tell them it’s a donation for Hope for the Holidays.

But don’t take my word for it, look Johnny and the crew up for yourself, HERE. Or you can take a listen LIVE, any weekday morning from 6am to 10am Central.

From Johny and the gang, “This year, more than ever, if you need a hand up, let us know. Along with the people of Kansas City, maybe we can make your holiday season a little bit brighter.”

I love these guys.

Bad Sussex Square Homeowner’s Association, Bad! BAD!!

This really has my knickers in a twist:

In a suburb of Richmond, VA, retired Army Colonel Van T. Barfoot, 90 year old WWII Congressional Medal of Honor winner (!) put up a 21 foot flagpole in his front yard. You know, to fly our nation’s flag. During wartime.

His homeowner’s association then threatened him with legal action if he hasn’t removed it by 5pm tomorrow (a deadline they have since extended to next Friday … mighty big of them) because it “violates the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines”.


Well, shame on you, Sussex Square Homeowners Association!

And the attempt to qualify your argument by clarifying, “This is not about the American flag. This is about a flagpole” is just plain lame. Yep, lame. You (nine) people are lame; you Lamey McLamensteins, you.

The man is 90! He is a distinguished veteran! It is the American flag! Our flag! And you insult him by advising him to hang one off his house instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with the kind that hang off the house (I have one, but only because I don’t have a real flagpole).

But if a grown man who’s defended the rights and privileges of this great nation (he won that medal in 1944 in Italy, when he single-handedly went up against three German machine gun nests [through a minefield!], captured 17 German soldiers, stopped a tank advance, and rescued a couple injured Allied soldiers … in a single day!) wants to proudly fly the flag for which he fought, then by all means he deserves to be able to do so without his idiot homeowner's association and, by default, neighbors, giving him even a modicum of guff. And that medal he won? Because he’s a man’s man (and more man than any member of his homeowner’s association, apparently), he had it presented to him in the field (instead of back in the U.S.) so his soldiers could share in the ceremony. Cool. Just … cool.

Yes, I understand he first sought permission (and was refused?!?! WHAT? have you never heard of a ‘special dispensation’?), then proceded to put it up anyway (oooh! he must be punished because he defied you!) and has been flying the flag since Veteran’s Day. That’s because you were stupid enough to refuse him in the first place. We already know Mr. Barfoot can accomplish more in a single day than most people do in a year. Howsabout you join the rest of us in honoring him for that?

What is wrong with you, Sussex Square Homeowner’s Association? Knock it off; he's not going to be around for you to insult ... er, honor ... forever, you know.

EDIT: Good news! Great news! Col. Barfoot gets to keep his flagpole!! So suck on those 'aesthetics', Sussex Square Homeowner's Association!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wicked Awesome Poem Wednesday


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley
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