Thursday, December 30, 2004

Sweet Dreams, 2004

Happy wishes for the New Year from threadingwater.com! Here is the mountain cabin in Telemark, Norway where we spent last New Year's eve with Inger & Ragnar, "the spy" & her friend Sondre-Oliver, stepson Seth and his girlfriend Marley. Inger danced on the roof while the rest of us drank slushy-cold champagne and set off fireworks under a clear, starry sky. We miss all of you and send our love to all our friends, new and old. May our warm wishes find you safe and healthy in whatever far corner of the globe you reside when you read this message. More next week when we return from our ski trip in northern Wisconsin.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Chickadees Unite!

Look what I got from GHIW - a rockin' high-class abode for a hard-working family of birds. The real surprise is inside where carpenter and lefty activist Ernie S. wallpapered the walls with a collage of political cartoons and pro-union placards. Good reading for the feathered Workers of the World.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Love, Anty Anne

Four good reasons to stay in the USA. Merry Christmas, kids.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

All the stockings . . .

Let me introduce my christmas stocking, a handmade gift from my godmother circa 1954. It's seen some rough times - a christmas (or two or three) with no money, I mean NO money, christmases without my son, the first christmas without my dad, christmas hijacked by an alcoholic, christmas alone with a bowl of popcorn and old movies on the tube. Fifty years of holidays filled with joy, some with tears and pockets of emptiness. All have left their mark. Like me, this little piece of felt stitchery is worn, torn and stained around the edges, has endured a bit of surgical repair and has traveled across an ocean and back again to the happiest home it has ever known. We both send our love and good cheer to you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Good Nisse, God Jul

God Jul! God Jul! It's feeling like the holidays now with my son and daughter-in-law newly arrived at the house and the stockings on the mantle gradually filling and bulging with promising little packages. According to Scandinavian lore, the fellow pictured above is a nisse - a rather elfin-like character who feeds and cares for animals in the cold winter months. A person who is mean to animals runs the risk of invoking the nisse's mischievious wrath and all sorts of inconvenient things may start to afflict him or her - losing keys, forgetting one's grocery list, suffering a sneezing fit, all rather minor annoyances but with a cumulative punch. Our rash of bad karma with cars just keeps on rolling. The Eurovan is spending day 3 in the shop and it will cost a cool grand to spring the steed later today. GHIW's Subaru is once again flashing its "check engine" light after being at the garage for four hours yesterday. What gives? I've been nice to animals, really! I mean, even that mouse I swear I heard in the walls last night is still cozy in the insulation since I haven't had time to lay the mouse traps and poison in the basement. Merry, merry to all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

In Praise of Pagans

Today is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the official beginning of winter. Here in Wisconsin, the solstice occurred at 6:42 a.m. Perhaps it was the unique tilt of the earth this morning that accounted for the lovely and somewhat eerie pinky-golden light that greeted us as we rose from bed and opened up the window blinds. A few minutes later, a light snow began to fall. Ancient cultures marked the solstice event with huge bonfires as a way to entice the sun to return. At our house, we have chosen to celebrate by shelling out a couple of hundred bucks to fix our oven's gas flame starter - even though our oven will be history in less than a month due to the kitchen renovation project. It's our little paean to good holiday eating, brought to us via Amana and the Sears appliance repair woman. C'mon back, sol.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Cry Baby

My santas are squeezin' and wheezin' out a happy tune from their perch on the fireplace mantle, but so far I'm feeling less than joyous today. Maybe it's because our fabulous ski weekend had to come to an end yesterday, or maybe it's the screaming match with the customer service rep at Volkswagon of America over the need to replace (for the second time) a $400+ part on our Eurovan. We also found out that we lost our appeal on the property tax assessment on our house and, gosh darn it, I feel like a walking, talking blank check these days. And, if you even mention "IKEA" to me, I'm likely to explode in an apoplectic cloud of curses. Note to Leslie at Nakeid Knits: I thought this retrograde Mercury thang was OVER!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Bringing On a Snow Job

That's not a lie, it's a terminological inexactitude. Also, a tactical misrepresentation. ~ Alexander Haig ~ A new report from the US Department of Education shows that charter school children perform no better, and in many cases worse, than their counterparts in regular public schools. The findings of this latest report largely confirm earlier statistics released by the American Federation of Teachers. Care to learn just what kind of spin the deputy education secretary, Eugene W. Hickok, put on this report in his news conference? "In case there's any doubt, we are big supporters of charter schools," Dr. Hickok said. "So as I read these studies on charter schools, I read them through that lens." He went on to say that the scores were "not a bad sign" and "in many ways charter students are holding their own." WOW! Holding their own . . . Wait a sec. Ummmm, Dr. Hickok? Is "holding their own" against regular public schools a new measure of success for the Education Department? Am I the only one who remembers that the argument for shifting education funds to charter schools was to end up with HIGHER performing students? I think I'm gonna lose it. Thank goodness my escape valve for this weekend is a three day ski trip with GHIW and friends Steve & Sara from Chicago. Good friends, good food, good snow - and a respite from the professional snow jobs being lobbed at me every morning. Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bozone Alert

Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating A bozone alert was issued in Cuba today, chiefly affecting US Foreign Mission chief James Cason and members of Fidel Castro's government. The warning comes as both parties verbally spar over a display of Christmas decorations outside the US mission building. The offending display includes a large Frosty the Snowman, a Santa Claus, white lights in palm trees and a sign bearing the number 75. According to Cason, "we . . . displayed a '75' symbol as a reminder of those arrested for thinking and speaking independently," referring to 75 pro-democracy activists imprisoned by the Cuban government. Cuban officials have reportedly warned Cason to take the display down or "there will be consequences." Cason clarified that "thinking and speaking independently" is valued in communist-run countries, but dissidents in democratic countries are subject to suppression and investigation as called for in the US Patriot Act. Special thanks to faithful reader, Patricia, for sending the winning entries from this year's Washington Post Style Invitational word contest.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Minor Christmas Note

pah-rum-pah-pah-rum The blog de la resistance reader's poll verdict is in and "Little Drummer Boy" takes the prize as the most annoying Christmas song. You knew it all along, didn't you? I think it must be something about my eastern european Polish heritage that makes me love the most unhappy music. I mean, really, the Poles can't help but embrace tragedy and sorrow. Just look at their country's sad history for chrissakes. So then, my favorite Christmas song is really an advent song, (too sad for Christmas) "Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel." Oy, all those minor notes make me weep. Why can't someone put together an entire CD of every possible version and rendition of this song? Is it too much to ask?

Monday, December 13, 2004

Liberal Hijackings?

I know the week is off to a good start when I nearly spew a mouthful of Monday morning coffee onto my keyboard upon discovering a few paragraphs like this in an article about the emboldened religious right in the NYTimes: State Representative Cynthia Davis of Missouri prefiled two bills for the next session of the Legislature that she said "reflect what people want." One would remove the state's requirement that all forms of contraception and their potential health effects be taught in schools, leaving the focus on abstinence. Another would require publishers that sell biology textbooks to Missouri to include at least one chapter with alternative theories to evolution. "These are common-sense, grass-roots ideas from the people I represent, and I'd be very surprised if a majority of legislators didn't feel they were the right solutions to these problems," Ms. Davis said. "It's like when the hijackers took over those four planes on Sept. 11 and took people to a place where they didn't want to go," she added. "I think a lot of people feel that liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go. I think a lot more people realize this is our country and we're going to take it back." What the . . .? Liberal=Terrorist? The woman got elected with a mouth like that? " . . . liberals have taken our country somewhere we don't want to go." Anyone out there have a damned clue what liberals and which legislation in the past twenty-five years she's talking about? My head is about to blow off and I've got to go pop a couple of painkillers.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cats, Love & Tears

I have been a cat person since the age of nine when I acquired my first cat, a long haired calico, after pitching a full-fledged crying scene in the back of my dad's Dodge. (In truth, the crying worked on my mother who, in turn, worked on my dad and, voila! we had a kitten in the house.) I named him George in honor of my favorite Beatle, but after giving birth to his first litter of kittens I felt compelled to change his name to "Mama." These days, my love for the GHIW* (who happens to be allergic to pet hair) means our household is filled with love but devoid of cats. I live with cats these days in only a vicarious and sometimes metaphorical way. Scarlett, pictured above, is the newest addition to my son and daughter-in-law's household in Irving, Texas. *GHIW = Greatest Husband In the World

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Kinsey, Sex & Graham Crackers

Creationism in our schools, abstinence-only sex education, "reproductive rights" on the list of can't-say-that-on-television phrases, the mediocre movie "Kinsey" a flashpoint for the religious right; has the rational mind disappeared from our culture entirely? Frank Rich, in today's NYTimes, http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/12/arts/12rich.html?th makes a compelling case that science and reason are in jeopardy with the ascension of the "moral values" crowd: " . . . off-screen Americans are being damaged by the cultural war over sex that is being played out in real life. You see that when struggling kids are denied the same information about sexuality that was kept from their antecedents in the pre-Kinsey era; you see that when pharmacists in more and more states enforce their own "moral values" by refusing to fill women's contraceptive prescriptions and do so with the tacit or official approval of local officials; you see it when basic information that might prevent the spread of lethal diseases is suppressed by the government because it favors political pandering over scientific fact. " Strangely enough, this morning I came across an obscure note about the inventor Sylvester Graham who, in the 19th century, invented the graham cracker as a suppressant for what he viewed as the hyperactive American libido. Hmmmm . . . maybe there's a new slogan here for our government funded sex education programs. "Abstain & Graham-It"

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Ribbons for Rumsfeld

When questioned by US soldiers in Iraq about why existing tank armor does not meet the Army's battle needs, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied testily, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want or wish to have." Please join me in sending Mr. Rumsfeld a "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon magnet for his car. Mail it to: Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

The Red Jihad

In today's NYTimes, columnist David Brooks defines a growing demographic in the United States as "natalists," couples who marry young, have three, four or more children and have set-up more gender traditional families in the exurbs of the Plains states and the Southwest. "Natalists," says Brooks, "are associated with red America, but they're not launching a jihad." Well, I guess it depends on how you define "jihad." By definition, these natalists have dropped out, shunned cities and urban problems and surrounded themselves with sameness. You've seen it, shopping malls dominated by national chains, cookie-cutter houses, everyone driving the same models of SUV's and minivans, everyone's natalist family looking much the same, acting much the same as any other family in the exurb. For them, sameness is comfort and security. And they vote. In large, dependable numbers. And, because of their drop-out, leave-me-alone-with-my-family mentality, they are easily manipulated with fear tactics. Isolated in a world of their own making, they vote against measures that would improve the lives of the less fortunate. They don't come in contact with anyone struggling to make ends meet by working two minimum wage jobs. They don't know anyone who can't go to a doctor because they won't be able to afford to pay for an office call, much less a diagnostic test or a prescription drug. They know their world, and their world looks and acts just like them. And when they vote, they vote against the "other" that they do not know and never see. Natalists may be casting their vote with pure loving hearts - for their own families and neighbors - but the result is the same, intolerance for difference. Sounds like "jihad" to me. For the Brooks editorial in its entirety : //www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07brooks.html?hp

Monday, December 06, 2004

Monday Poll

Most annoying Christmas song?
Little Drummer Boy
Up on the Rooftop
Deck the Halls
None of above. Read my choice via "comments"
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Toodle-ooo Tommy

Sometimes, these blog entries write themselves. Headline in this morning's paper: Thompson Quits With Warning Our nation's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson resigned yesterday with the following warning: "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." Um, excuse me Secretary Thompson, wasn't it your job to make it DIFFICULT for terrorists to tamper with our food supply? Reportedly, Thompson would like his next job to be "running a really big company." It will be fun to see which "really big company" will hire a guy who not only failed to perform his last job, but bragged about his failure. There is a proud Wisconsin tradition of our ex-governors being appointed to cushy positions within local insurance companies. Maybe Tommy can get a job where he's in charge of risk assessment.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Your Fiendly Pharmacist

Ah, the good old days. A woman goes to her doctor. The doctor prescribes a drug. The woman takes the script to her pharmacy. The pharmacist fills the prescription and warns her about possible side effects and how to properly take the drug. If this is still the manner in which you obtain your necessary prescriptions, count yourself fortunate. If the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International organization (and other groups like it) have their way, you may find yourself face to face with a trained evangelist pharmacist. Here is some of what the Christian Pharmacists will be learning at the upcoming Saline Solution Conference:
Evangelism Training: Saline Solution Conferences How to share spiritual truth in 20 seconds How to discuss spiritual matters in a way that is comfortable and ethical How to inspire your staff to make your practice site a great place to be How to take a spiritual history How and when to write faith prescriptions How to develop a spiritual consult network How to avoid backing up the waiting room How to share the gospel in three minutes
My spiritual history? A faith prescription? What the ?
If you think organizations like this are wacko-fringe elements, guess again. Pharmacists actually get CEU credit for attending conferences with lectures titled, "Is It Wise to Deny God Admission to Pharmacy School?"
I'm scared. How about you?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Blue in a Blue State

Tom Ridge is leaving. John Ashcroft, too. The only cartoon mullah left in the Bush White House is Wisconsin's own Tommy Thompson. Four years ago, I was glad to see Tommy leave for his post in the Department of Health and Human Services. Then came September 11, anthrax and most recently, the bungled flu vaccine crisis. In the year 2000, most of us in Wisconsin knew he'd be in WAY over his head at DHHS. We had no idea how deep the water would get in the four years since his move to Washington. The Bush administration is smartly cleaning house. Tommy will certainly be following Ridge and Ashcroft out the door. Then what? Will he once again eye the governor's office here at home? I've got to say that, happy as I was to see him leave, the new, younger Republicans rumored to be considering the governor's seat in 2006 are a far scarier lot than Tommy ever was. John Gard and Scott Walker are positively reptilian. They make the dull-witted and philandering Tommy look like a harmless folksy grandpa in comparison. Sadly, there is much resistance work ahead.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Kill Poncho

What is it with ponchos? The damn things are everywhere and I just don't understand the appeal. OK, maybe if you spend your day sitting on the back of a donkey or wandering mountain paths with a pan pipe, they might make sense. But, here in Wisconsin, draped across the shoulders of a busy fifty-year old woman, they are totally ridiculous. They aren't warm enough to wear as outerwear, except for maybe three weeks in the spring and another three weeks in the fall. They are totally impractical if you drive a car - always catching on things, impeding movement and making it impossible to find the seat belt latch. Sling a bag over your shoulder or try finding your car keys while balancing a bag of groceries? Forget it. Ponchos are a fashion RESIST if ever there was one.
Most annoying Christmas song?
Little Drummer Boy
Up on the Rooftop
Deck the Halls
None of above. Read my choice via "comments"
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com
|W|P|110235543547491774|W|P|Monday Poll|W|P|threadingwater@gmail.com12/04/2004 09:50:00 AM|W|P|threadingwater|W|P|Sometimes, these blog entries write themselves. Headline in this morning's paper: Thompson Quits With Warning Our nation's Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson resigned yesterday with the following warning: "I, for the life of me, cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." Um, excuse me Secretary Thompson, wasn't it your job to make it DIFFICULT for terrorists to tamper with our food supply? Reportedly, Thompson would like his next job to be "running a really big company." It will be fun to see which "really big company" will hire a guy who not only failed to perform his last job, but bragged about his failure. There is a proud Wisconsin tradition of our ex-governors being appointed to cushy positions within local insurance companies. Maybe Tommy can get a job where he's in charge of risk assessment. |W|P|110217642891479556|W|P|Toodle-ooo Tommy|W|P|threadingwater@gmail.com12/03/2004 09:20:00 AM|W|P|threadingwater|W|P|Ah, the good old days. A woman goes to her doctor. The doctor prescribes a drug. The woman takes the script to her pharmacy. The pharmacist fills the prescription and warns her about possible side effects and how to properly take the drug. If this is still the manner in which you obtain your necessary prescriptions, count yourself fortunate. If the Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International organization (and other groups like it) have their way, you may find yourself face to face with a trained evangelist pharmacist. Here is some of what the Christian Pharmacists will be learning at the upcoming Saline Solution Conference:
Evangelism Training: Saline Solution Conferences How to share spiritual truth in 20 seconds How to discuss spiritual matters in a way that is comfortable and ethical How to inspire your staff to make your practice site a great place to be How to take a spiritual history How and when to write faith prescriptions How to develop a spiritual consult network How to avoid backing up the waiting room How to share the gospel in three minutes
My spiritual history? A faith prescription? What the ?
If you think organizations like this are wacko-fringe elements, guess again. Pharmacists actually get CEU credit for attending conferences with lectures titled, "Is It Wise to Deny God Admission to Pharmacy School?"
I'm scared. How about you?
|W|P|110208960557250301|W|P|Your Fiendly Pharmacist|W|P|threadingwater@gmail.com4/08/2005 10:25:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Blue Gal|W|P|You have no idea what it is like here in Alabama. My (former) doctor has his nurse ask all new patients if they have been saved by Jesus Christ and accepted him as their personal savior. He has religious tracts and music in his office. But it was going there in October 2004 for a TB test for work, and seeing the Bush sign out front and his entire staff wearing bush buttons that made me switch to a doc in the box.12/02/2004 09:33:00 AM|W|P|threadingwater|W|P|Tom Ridge is leaving. John Ashcroft, too. The only cartoon mullah left in the Bush White House is Wisconsin's own Tommy Thompson. Four years ago, I was glad to see Tommy leave for his post in the Department of Health and Human Services. Then came September 11, anthrax and most recently, the bungled flu vaccine crisis. In the year 2000, most of us in Wisconsin knew he'd be in WAY over his head at DHHS. We had no idea how deep the water would get in the four years since his move to Washington. The Bush administration is smartly cleaning house. Tommy will certainly be following Ridge and Ashcroft out the door. Then what? Will he once again eye the governor's office here at home? I've got to say that, happy as I was to see him leave, the new, younger Republicans rumored to be considering the governor's seat in 2006 are a far scarier lot than Tommy ever was. John Gard and Scott Walker are positively reptilian. They make the dull-witted and philandering Tommy look like a harmless folksy grandpa in comparison. Sadly, there is much resistance work ahead. |W|P|110200469807214283|W|P|Blue in a Blue State|W|P|threadingwater@gmail.com12/02/2004 03:24:00 PM|W|P|Blogger Gwyn|W|P|You know, here in Colorado, there's been vaccine shortages for a while, and not just flu vaccines, either. Several times I have taken my kids in for their Regularly Scheduled Vaccinations, only to be told there were none, and they'd have to catch us later. For the love of Mike, how hard is it to look at applicable numbers (birth rate, immigration) and match that with vaccines? I mean, let's all get worked up about the Supposed Threat of Biological Warfare, when we can't even immunize kids from the shit we know about. I'd like to speak with this Tommy person for a little while and use a syringe to demonstrate how trying it is to carefully prepare your child for The Shot, deal with the fear and tears, and then be told, sorry, you'll have to come back. Too bad he isn't leaving D.C. on a rail.12/01/2004 11:00:00 AM|W|P|threadingwater|W|P|What is it with ponchos? The damn things are everywhere and I just don't understand the appeal. OK, maybe if you spend your day sitting on the back of a donkey or wandering mountain paths with a pan pipe, they might make sense. But, here in Wisconsin, draped across the shoulders of a busy fifty-year old woman, they are totally ridiculous. They aren't warm enough to wear as outerwear, except for maybe three weeks in the spring and another three weeks in the fall. They are totally impractical if you drive a car - always catching on things, impeding movement and making it impossible to find the seat belt latch. Sling a bag over your shoulder or try finding your car keys while balancing a bag of groceries? Forget it. Ponchos are a fashion RESIST if ever there was one. |W|P|110192176418463450|W|P|Kill Poncho|W|P|threadingwater@gmail.com-->