Monday, February 27, 2006

Operation successful

Maria's hysterectomy went fine and she was out of surgery much sooner than expected.
Her parents and I saw her in the recovery room and she's in great spirits, mainly because of the pain meds and the relief that it's over.
Said she wants to doze and cut me loose to find some breakfast, which I did up the road at McDonald's. Turns out this McD has free Wi-Fi, so I could have brought the laptop.
Now the big challenge will be to make sure she doesn't lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the next six weeks. That seems an incredibly stringent restriction, considering all of the 10-pound-plus stuff we routinely pick up in the course of an ordinary day.
Fortunately, her camera weighs less than 5 pounds.
We got a call on Saturday from a girl whose senior portrait we shot last fall asking if we could photograph her wedding this coming Saturday night. Yeah, one week's notice. But then she was pregnant when we shot her senior portrait, so you can see that timing is not her strong suit.
Maria, obviously, won't be in any shape to shoot a wedding that soon and the girl has a very limited budget, so I'm going to do her a cheapie abbreviated shoot of the ceremony and reception for $200.
Gotta get out of here now. There's a family with a brutally stupid and noisy grandfather two tables away and I can feel my psychic energy draining away...

--
Sent from my Treo

Friday, February 24, 2006

Counting down

Maria's hysterectomy is set for 8 a.m. Monday and we're getting all of our waterfowl aligned for the surgery and the recovery.
I took a fistful of prescriptions to the drugstore this afternoon and walked out $171 poorer. Could have been worse - the poor bastards without insurance would have paid $427 for the same drugs.
She's been floating on Valium since Wednesday and all of her coworkers have been amazed at how much calmer and unflappable she's been.
I mentioned this morning that I got an e-mail from the state captain of the Patriot Guard Riders about early reports of the death of a soldier from Kokomo in Iraq. The PGR guys, being mostly veterans, call these gigs "missions." So when I told Maria I had a possible mission with the Patriot Guard Riders next week, she dissolved into hysterical laughter. I admit, it does sound like some kids' club - "Mom, Billy and I are going on a mission for Captain Midnight and the Secret Squadron..."
Anyhow, at some point she realized she was laughing way out of proportion to the admitted goofiness of the situation and declared herself unfit to drive herself the 19 twisty country miles to work. So I chauffeured her and now I'm sitting in her newspaper office waiting for her to wrap things up and ride home with me.
All of this also serves to remind me that I courted disaster several years ago when my first wife was in a hysterical rage by observing that the word "hysterical" has the same feminine origins as the word "hysterectomy," thereby suggesting that she was being irrationally hormonal.
Needless to say, we are no longer married.
So Maria is preparing to be off work for two, maybe three weeks and I am preparing to cook and feed and fetch and otherwise do for her during her convalescence. She expects to watch a lot of movies on DVD and we're going to sign up with Netflix over the weekend with that in mind.
We dumped cable for DISH satellite TV last summer, but still find we have lots of channels and very little we care to watch. Most evenings, we watch several episodes of Cops - there's something deliciously fun about watching stupid people fucking up - until South Park comes on, and then off to bed.

--
Sent from my Treo

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not a joiner, but...


I’m not much of a joiner, but I enlisted in a potentially controversial organization yesterday. I did it because I felt compelled to do something to offset the pain being inflicted by members of the Westboro Baptist Church upon the families of U.S. military personnel killed in the line of duty.
The Topeka, Kans., church sends it members and sympathizers to the funerals of soldiers to protest and to proclaim that U.S. casualties are God’s punishment for America’s tolerant attitude toward gays. If you want to get a good dose of their craziness, visit their website: www.godhatesfags.com
Their hateful actions have created a huge backlash with legislatures in several states considering laws banning protests at funerals – a measure that doesn’t sit well with anyone who values our First Amendment rights to free speech.
I covered a funeral recently where a handful of WBC loonies showed up. Their presence was more than counterbalanced by a contingent of 60 or so members of the Patriot Guard Riders – a motorcycle organization whose membership is mostly veterans and Harley-Davidson riders.
I visited the Patriot Guard Riders’ website – www.patriotguard.org – yesterday and satisfied myself that I could be comfortable with their mission statement. They attend the funerals of service personnel to show support for the families and to shield the families from the disturbing presence of protesters. They attend only at the invitation of the families and with the knowledge and approval of local law enforcement. Their intent is to show respect and not to visit violence – however richly deserved – upon the WBC folks.
Even though I’m a BMW rider and not a fan of the black leather biker lifestyle look, I share their desire to show respect for those who gave their lives for our security, so I filled out the online form and signed up.
Looks like a lot of others are joining as well. Their membership counter indicates more than 400 people joined yesterday and another 988 have signed up today and it’s not even noon yet. Their total membership at the moment stands at 8,634, but at this rate they’ll top 10,000 by the weekend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh, yeah. It's not Monday.

I feel like I'm running in sand today - flailing away and not getting anywhere.
I have another aviation piece to write and, of course, I'm deep into procrastination. This one is a no-brainer - a 1,000-word interview with one of the execs of a major aircraft manufacturer. I did the telephone interview last month and haven't even looked at my notes. Just letting the thing marinade in my consciousness until I'm ready to bash it out.
(As I write this, Pete the pup is playing with a golf ball we found on the baseball diamond across the street. He's fascinated with tossing it around the kitchen and watching it roll and bounce on the vinyl floor. Lots of running around and making noise.)
So it was almost a relief to have a good excuse not to write today.
First thing on the agenda was a 9:40 a.m. pre-op meeting with Maria's gynecologist who will perform a long-hoped-for hysterectomy on her next Monday morning. After several years of frustrating non-progress at the hands of her longtime family GP who tried to solve her problems by putting her on the pill and taking her off and putting her back on, Maria went to a real OB/GYN doc and got what we consider the definitive solution.
So we got the prescriptions for the various pain meds and the pre-op briefing this morning. Maria is looking forward with great eagerness to being rid of this semi-constant discomfort and hassle and only has flashes of anxiety about the surgery. It'll be an outpatient affair and they expect to cut her loose to float home on her pain meds by 5 p.m. Her parents are coming along, so I'll have plenty of help.
My job is to keep her comfortable, make sure she takes her meds on time and keep her from returning to activity too soon. I'll also be in charge of meal preparation, which is no big deal for me. I was a bachelor, off and on, for six or seven years and managed not to starve, so I think I can handle a couple of weeks of kitchen duty.
My other big achievement today was to rip Quadrophenia (by The Who, of course) to MP3 format and load it into the SD card in my Treo 600 smartphone. It's a 256 megabyte card and the album only took up 75MB. I'm on the last track of the album at the moment and am pleased to discover the whole thing only took my battery from 100% to 90%. Got me thinking about a 1 gigabyte SD card and all the possibilities.
Yeah, I realize it's nothing compared with my son Steve's 60GB iPod, but it's still pretty good for a cell phone.
It kills me that everyone asks if it's a Blackberry when I whip it out. No, it's a Treo 600 and it does pretty much everything a Blackberry does, only better, plus being a kick-ass Palm PDA. Sorta like riding a BMW and having people call it a Harley.
Now it's time to go see why Pete and his golf ball are so quiet...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Breakfast thoughts on a Friday morning

Scanning the MSNBC website over breakfast this morning, I came upon an interview with Robert Redford and a couple of his remarks stood out and reminded me that nobody is right all of the time and nobody is wrong all of the time.

In the "right" category is this observation about the Sundance Film Festival he founded 25 years ago in which he uses a pointles celebrity to make a point:
It was too intense for me. To the outside world, it's a big fat market where you have people like Paris Hilton going to parties. Now, she doesn't have anything to do with anything. I think the festival is close to being out of control.

In the "wrong" category is his Michael Mooresque observation about the current political scene:
Now you pick up the paper and there's a Watergate every day. I don't think anyone's connecting the dots and saying to the public, "Wake up, folks, because you could end up in a totalitarian nightmare, wondering what happened to your country."

Redford, an avid environmentalist, has never made a secret of his disdain for President Bush. So one would suppose that he believes the totalitarian threat is coming from the Republican side of the aisle. I think the party that wants to take away private citizens' guns in the interest of "a safer society" is the one that bears watching and that's not the NRA-endorsed GOP.
But maybe Redford actually meant the Heil Hillary crowd. I'd like to think so.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Oh Roy, oh Roy, is that your hat?


It all started last August when I was hanging out with some of my closest BMW motorcycle friends at the home of Tim and Linda in Alma, Colo.
It was the Indianapolis BMW Club's annual Colorado Chalet Week and we were comfortably ensconced at Tim and Linda's place some 10,600 feet above sea level in the heart of the Rockies.
We were watching a DVD copy of Kevin Costner's classic Western, Open Range, and I opined that Costner's character in the movie had the coolest cowboy hat I'd ever seen.
So a few days later, friends Linda and Webb and Cindy coaxed me into the Colorado Mountain Hat Co. on historic Front Street in Fairplay.
Sherry, who is a consummate hat-seller, dragged out a century-old phrenology device - a relic from the pseudo science of determining one's personality on the basis of the contours of their head. In this case, it was used to make a record of head measurements for a precise hat fit.
These are not cheap hats. They're custom made and come in three grades - felt, felt/beaver blend and pure beaver. Beaver sheds water better and is more appropriate for real cowboys who ride the range in all kinds of foul weather.
They had a considerable variety of hats on display, including a splendidly goofy looking replica of Hopalong Cassidy's tall black hat. They also said they could duplicate the Costner Open Range hat in any color and blend I wanted. I couldn't justify a pricey cowboy hat, so I stuck the punch-card set of my measurements into my motorcycle tank bag and dismissed it.
But Maria got wind of the encounter and decided I'd look smashing in an Open Range chapeau. So she ferreted out the measurements and ordered me a felt/beaver blend charcoal hat with a custom braided leather band for Christmas for $350.
Unfortunately, the folks in Fairplay were seriously backlogged on their orders and my Christmas hat arrived today on Valentine's Day.
I wore it to dinner at the local restaurant this evening and only felt a little self-conscious. After all, this is a rural county and there are lots of horse farms about.
Now I can't wait to get back to Colorado where a hat like this makes a little better fashion sense.

Just shoot me


The press is acting like such a pack of Bush-hating jackals, I'm ashamed to admit I ever called myself a journalist.
Also, their lack of knowledge of firearms is appalling. Shotguns don't fire "bullets" and the terms "birdshot" and "buckshot" are hardly interchangeable, unless you think a bird is the same thing as a buck. And these morons think they're qualified to interpret the happenings of the day for us?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Old dog, new trick

Our older dog, Ruthie, loves lasers.
In fact, she probably owes her life to laser technology.
When I went to the animal shelter with Maria and her kids seven years ago to pick out a dog, I took my laser pointer along to test adoption candidates for alertness and responsiveness.
Most of the dogs paid little attention to the appearance of a bright red dot skittering across the floor of their kennel enclosure. But Ruthie went crazy over it.
Besides that, she smiled at us with a look that said, "Here I am. What took you so long? Take me home."
So we did.
And the laser - in this case one that resembles a pen with pocket clip and runs on a pair of AAA batteries - remains her favorite toy.
I can stand on the back porch at night and run her all over the yard with the red dot. I can run her up and down the stairs until she is near collapse and her face registers deep disappointment when I stop to let her rest.
Pete the Australian sheperd pup who came to live with us just before Christmas also has an interest in the laser, but he doesn't get much of a chance to play because Ruthie knocks him out of the way in her frenzy to get a paw on the elusive crimson dot.
There was little positive interaction between the two dogs at first, but as the weeks have passed, Pete and Ruthie are learning to play together. They engage in games of tug-of-war with a rubber mallard and other dog toys and Pete loves to pester Ruthie. He nips at her flanks, then darts out of the way when she wheels around to get him. Being a herding dog and much younger, he can run circles around Ruthie and make her crazy. This can lead to Ruthie barking hysterically,which only makes Pete more aggressive with his playful soprano growls.
This usually happens in the evenings while Maria is sitting in the bedroom crocheting and watching TV and I'm in the adjacent upstairs office trying to edit photos or write. I gave up yelling at Ruthie to shut up and decided, instead, to break her concentration by flashing the laser onto the carpet near her.
This, of course, worked wonderfully and she was immediately drawn into a game of chase-the-laser, which Pete seemed to enjoy as well.
But over the last few nights, I began to notice Ruthie barking wildly at Pete, sometimes picking a fight with him, and then looking expectantly in my direction.
I finally caught on that she was deliberately making a fuss so I would bring out the laser.
The old dog was teaching me a new trick and I didn't even realize it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday observations

"Have a nice day!" said the cashier at Wendy's, fixing me with a maniacal grin.
According to her nametag, her name was "Autum," and I found myself wondering what happened to the "n."
Is that really her name? Did her parents really not know how to spell the third season or were they trying to be cute or clever? Or did her store manager make the mistake when he wrote her name down on the nametag order? Or was the nametag order placed verbally and the person stamping out the tags the weak link?
All I know is that sitting here three days later, drinking a vente cafe mocha at Barnes & Noble, I'm still wondering about it.
We're in Lafayette, IN where Maria is doing the weekly grocery shopping at Meijer and I'm taking a moment to blog after running an errand to Best Buy to pick up some printable blank CDs for the Indianapolis BMW Club's annual slideshow.
It's a little project I've taken on for the last few years - collecting motorcycle and club-related photos to add to a rapidly growing gallery of several thousand images that comprise a computer slideshow.
We play it on a laptop connected with a digital projector as background entertainment for the club's annual Valentine's Day weekend awards banquet.. I make extra copies and sell them to club members for $10 a pop to cover production expense. I also include an archive of all of the club's monthly newsletters from the time I took over in December, 1993 until now, so the new folks can get up to speed on who's who and a bit of the club's history.
Most years, I'm the biggest contributor of images, but 2005 was a low-mileage year for me and I hardly took any photos. I didn't even take a camera along when I rode out to Colorado for the club's annual Colorado Chalet Week. That was mainly because I didn't want to expose one of our Nikon D100 digital cameras to the dust and vibration of a motorcycle adventure and I didn't feel like dragging around my massive Nikon F5 film camera. Besides, I've been digital so long that the idea of buying film, then paying to have it processed and then having to scan it to digital is abhorrent to me. And after carrying around a camera that can shoot more than 300 high-res images without reloading makes a 36-exposure roll of film seem downright primitive. Which it is.
Why it's even dumber than "Autum."

--
Sent from my Treo

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Saturday night shopping

Maria being amused by my Treo camera at Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Here's your shopping list










Food:
Arla milk, cheese etc.
Danish crown (meat)
Lurmaerket Butter
Danish Bacon
Thor Fish
Danisco Food

Candy:
Toms (chocolate)
Lagermann
Galle & Jessen

Beverages:
Tuborg Beer
Carlsberg Beer
Aalborg Aquavit

Medicine:
Novo

Clothing:
H2O
Hummel
Per Reumert

Shoes:
Ecco
Jaco

Danish Design:
Royal Copenhagen
Georg Jensen
Stelton
PH-lamps
Lego (toys)
Brio (toys)
Raadvad (knives etc.)
Trip Trap
HTH- kitchen
Morsoe (Fireplaces)
Royal Danish Porcelain
B & G Porcelain
Vesta (Windmills)
B & O radios/televisions etc.

Other:
Watco Danish Furniture Oil

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Maria's attorney called this morning to say the child support hearing her idiot ex is seeking has been postponed again.
That's excellent news because it was set for 9 a.m. next Tuesday, which happens to be Valentine's Day. Who the hell wants to spend any part of Valentine's Day sitting across a courtroom from their ex spouse?
Maria's ex, as I have previously mentioned, is a loathesome deadbeat, devoid of character. After 10 years of hiding income to avoid paying his fair share of support for the two children he ignored, this weasel now has the audacity to claim we owe him support because his 19-year-old high school graduate son now lives with him.
And since Maria's income in inadequate to meet this added expense, any payments he gets are going to come from my retirement resources. So now it's personal.
I can only hint darkly at what will happen to his world if that happens.
The other piece of good news this week came from Maria's new OB/GYN doc, a savvy young woman from New York who Maria turned to after years of misery at the hands of a well-meaning but inadequate GP. Dr. Bob, as we call him, was her family doctor for decades and is a genuinely nice guy, but he was out of his depth when it came to her particular problem. She finally decided to turn elsewhere after Dr. Bob started drifting off into "alternative medicine" - New Age woo-woo stuff that even strained my ability to suspend disbelief - and I spent years immersed in that scene.
At any rate, Maria is scheduled for outpatient surgery on the 27th with orders not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the following six weeks. She is deliriously happy at the prospect of getting relief and that, of course, makes me pretty damned happy too.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Emotional retards

I imagine the handful of folks who check in here on a regular or semi-regular basis find my political and religious observations a bit tedious, so I'll keep this one mercifully brief.
While there are doubtless millions of Muslims who are horrified by the current frenzy over a few cartoons published in newspapers, the impression being given to the rest of the world is that Islam is a form of mental illness and its adherents are emotionally retarded.
A friend who was in Tehran for a few months around the time of the fall of the Shah observed that the masses in the streets who supported Khomeini had the political sophistication of children.
Sadly, nothing seems to have changed.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Worth repeating


Sensitivity' can have brutal consequences February 5, 2006
BY MARK STEYN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
I long ago lost count of the number of times I've switched on the TV and seen crazy guys jumping up and down in the street, torching the Stars and Stripes and yelling ''Death to the Great Satan!'' Or torching the Union Jack and yelling ''Death to the Original If Now Somewhat Arthritic And Semi-Retired Satan!'' But I never thought I'd switch on the TV and see the excitable young lads jumping up and down in Jakarta, Lahore, Aden, Hebron, etc., etc., torching the flag of Denmark.
Denmark! Even if you were overcome with a sudden urge to burn the Danish flag, where do you get one in a hurry in Gaza? Well, OK, that's easy: the nearest European Union Humanitarian Aid and Intifada-Funding Branch Office. But where do you get one in an obscure town on the Punjabi plain on a Thursday afternoon? If I had a sudden yen to burn the Yemeni or Sudanese flag on my village green, I haven't a clue how I'd get hold of one in this part of New Hampshire. Say what you like about the Islamic world, but they show tremendous initiative and energy and inventiveness, at least when it comes to threatening death to the infidels every 48 hours for one perceived offense or another. If only it could be channeled into, say, a small software company, what an economy they'd have.
Meanwhile, back in Copenhagen, the Danes are a little bewildered to find that this time it's plucky little Denmark who's caught the eye of the nutters. Last year, a newspaper called Jyllands-Posten published several cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed, whose physical representation in art is forbidden by Islam. The cartoons aren't particularly good and they were intended to be provocative. But they had a serious point. Before coming to that, we should note that in the Western world "artists" "provoke" with the same numbing regularity as young Muslim men light up other countries' flags. When Tony-winning author Terence McNally writes a Broadway play in which Jesus has gay sex with Judas, the New York Times and Co. rush to garland him with praise for how "brave" and "challenging" he is. The rule for "brave" "transgressive" "artists" is a simple one: If you're going to be provocative, it's best to do it with people who can't be provoked.
Thus, NBC is celebrating Easter this year with a special edition of the gay sitcom "Will & Grace," in which a Christian conservative cooking-show host, played by the popular singing slattern Britney Spears, offers seasonal recipes -- "Cruci-fixin's." On the other hand, the same network, in its coverage of the global riots over the Danish cartoons, has declined to show any of the offending artwork out of "respect" for the Muslim faith.
Which means out of respect for their ability to locate the executive vice president's home in the suburbs and firebomb his garage.
Jyllands-Posten wasn't being offensive for the sake of it. They had a serious point -- or, at any rate, a more serious one than Britney Spears or Terence McNally. The cartoons accompanied a piece about the dangers of "self-censorship" -- i.e., a climate in which there's no explicit law forbidding you from addressing the more, er, lively aspects of Islam but nonetheless everyone feels it's better not to.
That's the question the Danish newspaper was testing: the weakness of free societies in the face of intimidation by militant Islam.
One day, years from now, as archaeologists sift through the ruins of an ancient civilization for clues to its downfall, they'll marvel at how easy it all was. You don't need to fly jets into skyscrapers and kill thousands of people. As a matter of fact, that's a bad strategy, because even the wimpiest state will feel obliged to respond. But if you frame the issue in terms of multicultural "sensitivity," the wimp state will bend over backward to give you everything you want -- including, eventually, the keys to those skyscrapers. Thus, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, hailed the "sensitivity" of Fleet Street in not reprinting the offending cartoons.
No doubt he's similarly impressed by the "sensitivity" of Anne Owers, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons, for prohibiting the flying of the English national flag in English prisons on the grounds that it shows the cross of St. George, which was used by the Crusaders and thus is offensive to Muslims. And no doubt he's impressed by the "sensitivity" of Burger King, which withdrew its ice cream cones from its British menus because Rashad Akhtar of High Wycombe complained that the creamy swirl shown on the lid looked like the word "Allah" in Arabic script. I don't know which sura in the Koran says don't forget, folks, it's not just physical representations of God or the Prophet but also chocolate ice cream squiggly representations of the name, but ixnay on both just to be "sensitive."
And doubtless the British foreign secretary also appreciates the "sensitivity" of the owner of France-Soir, who fired his editor for republishing the Danish cartoons. And the "sensitivity" of the Dutch film director Albert Ter Heerdt, who canceled the sequel to his hit multicultural comedy ''Shouf Shouf Habibi!'' on the grounds that "I don't want a knife in my chest" -- which is what happened to the last Dutch film director to make a movie about Islam: Theo van Gogh, on whose ''right to dissent'' all those Hollywood blowhards are strangely silent. Perhaps they're just being "sensitive,'' too.
And perhaps the British foreign secretary also admires the "sensitivity" of those Dutch public figures who once spoke out against the intimidatory aspects of Islam and have now opted for diplomatic silence and life under 24-hour armed guard. And maybe he even admires the "sensitivity" of the increasing numbers of Dutch people who dislike the pervasive fear and tension in certain parts of the Netherlands and so have emigrated to Canada and New Zealand.
Very few societies are genuinely multicultural. Most are bicultural: On the one hand, there are folks who are black, white, gay, straight, pre-op transsexual, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, worshippers of global-warming doom-mongers, and they rub along as best they can. And on the other hand are folks who do not accept the give-and-take, the rough-and-tumble of a "diverse" "tolerant" society, and, when one gently raises the matter of their intolerance, they threaten to kill you, which makes the question somewhat moot.
One day the British foreign secretary will wake up and discover that, in practice, there's very little difference between living under Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity and Sharia. As a famously sensitive Dane once put it, "To be or not to be, that is the question."
© Mark Steyn, 2006 Copyright © Mark Steyn, 2006 Copyright © The Sun-Times Company.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Great Danes



As a career newspaperman, I share my colleagues' outrage over the behavior of much of the Islamic world in response to a few cartoons published in Danish newspapers depicting the Prophed Mohammed.
The reaction has included recalling ambassadors from Denmark, boycotts of Danish products, burning Danish flags, threats against Danish journalists and Danes in general, and on and on.
Yet nobody would raise an eyebrow if Western newspapers published irreverent cartroons depicting the Pope or Jesus or the Virgin Mary.
I came across this piece on one of my favorite sites this afternoon and think it's worth repeating here:

So it’s OK for ayatollahs to offend Western values by routinely issuing fatwas requiring devout Muslims to kill those whom they dislike (a la Salman Rushdie)!

It’s OK to preach hatred of Jews and Christians every day in Koranic schools and mosques the world over! It’s OK for Muslim newspapers to publish cartoons that portray Jews as pigs and apes, and exhort Muslims to “to slaughter them and murder them, according to the words of Allah”!

It’s OK to blast planes and buildings in the name of Allah and celebrate the mass murderers, called the “Magnificent 19” in the Islamic press, by organizing conferences in their honor!

It’s OK to praise martyrdom against the West, and encourage it by agitating the lure of 71 virgins and making hefty payments to the families of those who blast themselves!

It’s OK for Islamic leaders to demand the physical elimination of the Jews and of their state in holocaust fashion!

It’s OK for Arabs living in the West to deny their daughters education in violation of Western laws! It’s OK to rape those who dare dress with Western fashion! It’s OK to practice polygamy! It’s OK to defend women abuse and battery from the pulpit!

It’s OK for conservative Arab countries to ban Western women from driving and force them to wear chadors in public. It’s OK for their courts to order mutilation and death-by-stoning for minor offenses.

It’s OK to turn a blind eye to female genital mutilation.

It’s OK to randomly seize hostages and murder them like pigs, while praising Allah!

Let’s stop this nonsense! The West has values too that are non-negotiable. They include freedom of the press, freedom of expression, equality, and democracy among others. If Arabs want to live in our midst, they must uphold them. No exception! If they do not care to, they are welcome to return to the sand dunes that are more hospitable to their sensitivities.

And, let us never make the mistake to apologize for our values or tolerate compromises and exceptions. And shame to the weak-hearted and feeble-minded politicians and editors who offered regrets and apologies for what is nothing but an assertion of Western most cherished values. They have once again failed their people and dishonored their offices.

Taking stock

Maria and I have been submitting our photos to a stock photo agency called PAI Networks for the past couple of years. Nothing much has come of it, but we remain hopeful that some publishers will go to www.painetworks.com, do a keyword search for some particular subject and fall wildly in love with our work.
So far we have 1,319 images posted there. If you're terminally bored and want to see what we do, click here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Space cowboy


Poking around in the attic this afternoon, I discovered an album containing long-forgotten photos of my childhood.
I was particularly struck by this one. I'm wearing some kind of Buck Rogers space hat, complete with goggles, and using my tricycle to pull my dog, Spot, in a wagon.
This would be around 1951 or so and the setting is the alley behind our house.
I was very space-minded and couldn't get enough science fiction stuff. This was at a time when Tom Corbett - Space Cadet and Space Patrol were on TV and I never missed an episode.

Sunrise at Punxsutawney


The goofballs in top hats say this lardass rodent saw his shadow this morning, signifying there will six more weeks of winter and no early spring. Pretty scientific, eh?
So far, we've hardly had any winter at all here in central Indiana, so another six weeks of daily highs above freezing is no big deal.
Bring it on, Fat Boy Phil.
(Hey, isn't that Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on the right?)