Saturday, December 30, 2006

Sappy Year End Post

We're to the end of another year and everyone is writing their best or worst lists, or their recaps, or their resolutions, and who am I to break with the pattern?

My best reading list is pretty easy:
  • The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick -- I read this at the end of last year, but it was good enough to count for two! I'm eagerly awaiting The Scarlet Lion because John Marshal has ... well... suffice to say that John Marshal is an attractive protagonist. *g*
  • An unpublished work called the Art of Effective Dreaming by Gillian Polack, which, upon publication (by me) will make me very proud and happy in ways that I cannot describe.
  • An unnamed book by an unnamed Scottish author whose name will not be 'un' if/when she signs the contract I'm working on (please God; let her do it; her stuff is that good).
  • Brian Wainwright's emails -- which have nothing whatsoever to do with his books, but which are guaranteed joys to read. Brian may well be the most charming man on the planet.
My worst list is even easier: everything else.

And now for the recap...

In some ways, I had a pretty shitty year, although come to think of it, last year was pretty shitty as well, so 2006 doesn't really stand out all that much. The funny thing is that for all the misery I've endured this year, I have to say that, after all, life is good and I am glad to find it so. In reality, I've learned a lot this year. If I were conventional, at this point I would wax poetic about love and friends and the various delights to be found in life, but seeing as how I'm not that conventional, I think I'll just tell you what I've learned -- even though it isn't all sweetness and light.

What I've learned this year:
  • Life is hard -- but it's still worth it.
  • Life isn't fair -- but it's still worth it.
  • Life is painful -- but it's still worth it.
I've also learned how to respond when I'm challenged for making a move I didn't necessarily want to make in order to be with my husband. I was surprised to be in the position to make this response because I didn't anticipate being questioned about it. But on several occasions this year, I was in the position of replying to someone who said things to the effect of: 'I would NEVER let my husband dictate...' or 'how can you just give up everything because he...?'

One thing I've learned is that some people have different world views -- and these same people simply cannot understand mine. I love my husband very much, but beyond even that, he makes me a better person. I mean this in a literal sense. He MAKES me a better person. Regardless of what he asks of me, it has always been my FREE choice to be with him. And because I have a choice, I choose to be a better person -- with him. My odd upbringing didn't teach me that it was my responsibility to clean the house or to cook the dinner (and God knows I never do either), but it did teach me 'whither thou goest' and all that (yeah; I know that was about Ruth and the mother in law, but IMO, mother in laws do NOT count). And so, for him, I will always be there (unless he tries to trade me in on a trophy wife, in which case, he had better be ready for a MAJOR fight). So, how do I respond? I tell them the truth (which they obviously don't get) -- we are married. Life isn't about ME; it's about US. We moved for him this time; next time, maybe we'll move for me. Or maybe not, but we'll decide together.

Finally, my resolutions are:
  • To improve my thighs. For our 20th anniversary, we are taking the honeymoon we never had -- in Hawaii. I want to look HOT in that size 4 Calvin Klein swimsuit!
  • To stop sweating the small stuff.
  • To remember where I'm from.
Now doesn't all this fit a sentimental New Year's post to a tee? Well, except for the 'thin thighs in 30 days' bit...

Have a happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxilla

Today is Boxing Day. I'm not exactly sure of the origins of this holiday, but I like the sound of it. So Happy Boxing Day if you are boxing today (or whatever it is you do for this occasion). What I am doing for it is akin to boxing (in the pugilistic sense) because I started out today with the goal of installing some software called Bugzilla on a unix server (just. don't. ask) and I am on the ropes now. Godzilla, er - Bugzilla is giving me a pretty good beating.

Do I have an excuse for whingeing? Probably not, but still, I can't resist passing along a few gems, emphasis mine:

Download a tarball (is this like the hairballs that my cat coughs up?) and put it in a suitable directory, possibly one with a symbolic link to /usr/local (I can think of something symbolic here, but, alas, it's profane). If you have a binary version of mySQL, you may need to change the directory. You can run Apache as a non-root user (does pulling my hair out by the root make me a non-root user?), but the port will need to be set to one above 1024. If you type httpd -V, you will get a list of the variables that your system copy of httpd uses. One of those, namely HTTPD_ROOT, tells you where that installation looks for its config information (I'll bet, wherever it is, the sun doesn't shine much THERE). From there, you can copy the config files to your own home directory to start editing. When you edit those and then use the -d option to override the HTTPD_ROOT compiled into the web server, you get control (Yes! I WANT control!) of your own customized web server. Note that you will need to start the daemons (I think they meant to write demons here!) yourself. You can either ask your system administrator (That's SO helpful; I AM the ##$@ administrator) to add them to system startup files, or add a crontab entry that runs a script to check on these daemons and restart them if needed.

OK rant over. You can restart your demons now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I made my own Christmas cards this year, and since I couldn't sleep last night, I decided to do an e-card too. If you're feeling dangerous, I also made a noisy high-bandwidth version.

Joyeux Noel!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Blogger Blues

Blogger has been nagging me to switch to their new beta version, and I finally got tired enough of the nag business to make the switch. I'm SO glad I did because now, the order and timing of previous posts is completely screwed up.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eight Footcandles and a Cup of Cheer

After a brief trip to Chicago last week, during which our plane lost an engine (possibly confirming that I am cursed, but that's another story) on Thursday night, we were at the receiving end of one of the worst storms ever to strike the Pacific Northwest. The bridge to the mainland was closed; the ferries weren't running, so we were here -- for the duration. It wasn't a hurricane, but funnily enough, after so many years of living in a hurricane prone region, it was here that I finally experienced winds over 90 miles per hour. Wow -- that is some wind!

Fortunately, another recent storm, combined with years of warnings to be "hurricane ready", had already convinced me of the value of preparation. So we started the storm with plenty of food, fuel, candles, and batteries, plus a car charger for my cellphone (and internet), and a piano for entertainment. DH was late getting home, but he made it over Deception Pass before they closed it (thank heavens!), to eat the horribly burnt hamburgers I attempted to cook (to save the meat since it wasn't frozen and the electricity was becoming unstable) -- and yes; I confirmed (repeatedly) that the smoke alarms work fine.

We didn't lose power until well into the night, after which, we just listened to the wind -- and appreciated our house. Our house has been here on this hill for more than a hundred years. That isn't so old by many standards (including mine; I love things-medieval), and it's been renovated to seem quite modern. Yet, our house has 19th century bones and they really proved their worth. Our house is a fortress; when the wind passed 90 mph, it made nary a creak.

The storm was at its height right at dawn; we stood at the windows (like idiots, but in our defense, the wind was from the other direction) and watched the waves crashing into each other in the cove at the bottom of the hill. By then, it was getting pretty darn cold -- outside, it was just above freezing; inside seemed to be catching up fast. We decided it was time to flip the magic switch and turn on the fireplace. The switch is magic because it looks like an ordinary electrical switch, but it isn't. It's a kind of valve that allows propane (stored in a tank outside) to flow. So it works with no electricity (which we only realised a few days ago), and it means we don't need power to heat our main living room. The same mechanism works on our stove and hot water tank, so it's easy to survive in cold weather here without power. It was cold enough outside that we could put the stuff from our refrigerator on the back steps and save it too. All of that was good because a quick internet check (via cellphone) gave us the news that it might be days before the power would be back.

On Friday night, we ate in front of the fire, feeling grateful for our sturdy house and the fireplace with the magic switch. I lit some candles, got a glass of Bailey's Irish cream, and listened to DH play the piano -- until he stopped suddenly and looked around. "What?" I asked.

"It's beautiful," he said. "Look."

I looked around -- and I saw it immediately. It was a vision of light. It was as if the candles had called forth the essence of the old things in the room and restored them to the central place they once held. Once again, the old piano glowed, while the television sulked, useless, in its cabinet. The chandelier I brought from Louisiana seemed to glitter in remembrance of former candles. My great grandfather's desk, bought second-hand in the nineteenth century, seemed burnished with memories of long-ago glory. The striped silk curtains, which I'd pulled together to conserve heat, shimmered softly against the mellow gleam of the pine floorboards. Even the Viva Las Vegas Christmas tree was transformed -- without its brightly colored lights -- into a sparkling collage of green and glass. And everything modern had gone, as if the candles were unwilling to extend their light to the unfamiliar.

It was amazing.

Even more amazing, after being warned that it might be days before our power returned, we appear to have been among the first on the island to have it back.

The TV has returned to prominence and our tired old furniture has faded into the background. But now we know it's only biding time -- until the friendly candles wash it with light again.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

There will be NO -- REPEAT NO tsunami today...

Thank you very much Tsunami Warning Center for this important notice
that a tsunami warning is NOT in effect. If you are mystified as to
why they do this, join the club!

TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT NUMBER 1
NWS WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER PALMER AK
1121 AM PST THU DEC 7 2006

...THIS TSUNAMI INFORMATION STATEMENT IS FOR ALASKA/ BRITISH COLUMBIA/ WASHINGTON/ OREGON AND CALIFORNIA ONLY...

NO - REPEAT NO - WATCH OR WARNING IS IN EFFECT FOR THE STATES AND PROVINCES LISTED ABOVE.

EVALUATION
BASED ON MAGNITUDE AND HISTORIC TSUNAMI RECORDS THE EARTHQUAKE WAS NOT SUFFICIENT TO GENERATE A TSUNAMI DAMAGING TO CALIFORNIA/OREGON/ WASHINGTON/ BRITISH COLUMBIA OR ALASKA. IN COASTAL AREAS OF INTENSE SHAKING LOCALLY GENERATED TSUNAMIS CAN BE TRIGGERED BY UNDERWATER LANDSLIDES.

PRELIMINARY EARTHQUAKE PARAMETERS
MAGNITUDE - 6.5
TIME - 1010 AKST DEC 07 2006
1110 PST DEC 07 2006
1910 UTC DEC 07 2006
LOCATION - 46.6 NORTH 154.2 EAST
- EAST OF KURIL ISLANDS
DEPTH - 21 MILES

THE PACIFIC TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER IN EWA BEACH HAWAII WILL ISSUE MESSAGES FOR HAWAII AND OTHER AREAS OF THE PACIFIC.

THIS WILL BE THE ONLY STATEMENT ISSUED FOR THIS EVENT BY THE WEST COAST/ALASKA TSUNAMI WARNING CENTER UNLESS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE. REFER TO THE INTERNET SITE
WCATWC.ARH.NOAA.GOV FOR MORE INFORMATION.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Viva Las Vegas Tree

I worked on my Elvis Viva Las Vegas Christmas tree this weekend. Photos have been requested, and though I still have considerable bling left to add (e.g., 60 pink Swarovski crystal hearts, 2 dozen lime green glitter balls, some bright blue glass parrots, and a boat load of Mardi Gras beads), I am posting interim photos.

The shot below is clearer because it was taken during the day. It also shows (through the window) the reason why I decided to throw tastefulness out the window and embrace tacky to the fullest. It is DARK here. I want color! I want LIGHT!



I took this one last night, while I was decorating it. It isn't as clear, but it gives a better idea of the brightness level.



And this one shows my helper, who has claimed a reindeer of his own. The rest of the help had given up in disgust. Kitty, because I am not using tinsel this year since she is predisposed to commit suicide by eating it; bigger dog, because none of the decorations qualify as 'real' food and are thus, uninteresting.



Monday, November 27, 2006

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Cleaning up the mess

This is a broom.



You know what to do with it.






Sunday, November 5, 2006

Pimp my what???

Since grey days appear to have set in with permanence, DH and I have come to a mutual agreement that the time has come for us to finish making our home and offices tolerable. This is easier said than done because I am, unfortunately, warped. (DH said 'mad as a hatter' but for the sake of brevity, I'll stick with warped.)

We both decided that while we feel a strong dislike for the hideous built-in black refrigerator and the black counters in the kitchen, we can stand to ignore the ugly bits for a while. The dining room is fine -- and not likely to be improved by random shuffling. Other than the mislaid silverware and the step ladder in front of the fireplace (in these photos), the big room (not the 'great' room ~shudder -- I hate that description) with the sofas and fireplace looks fairly decent.




The guest bedroom, while not likely to appear on the cover of House & Garden, is no longer an embarrassment. For critical decoration purposes, that leaves our bedroom and the offices -- unless I drive DH to the end of his patience and he murders me first (a distinct possibility).

So, we have decided to concentrate first on the office; or rather the offices (plural) since the first step of this concentration required me to stake my claim on a room other than the one we originally designated as the office. The down side of this is that DH painted the walls of the original office in tropical blue and lime green. It's going to just be his office now, so he's stuck with it unless he wants to paint it again (unlikely!). Now, my poor long-suffering husband is painting the walls of the 'new' office -- tropical blue (of course). Alas, no lime green in this one because there's no trim midway up the wall to make a logical dividing line for colours. More's the pity.

The next step will be creating (or buying) a home for my books. The reasons for that should be obvious.


DH says I need to add Pimp my Cubicle to my TBR -- so that I'll be in the right frame of mind.

It remains to be seen what frame that is. I am thinking I might need a bright green keyboard to make up for the lack of lime walls.

(Thanks to Shiny Shiny.)



Perhaps I have mentioned it before -- I am married to a patient person. I suspect that's a very Good Thing -- because someday, I may feel a need to 'decorate' the laundry room.



Thursday, October 5, 2006

Writing Advice From a Master

Although I haven't adored every word he's ever written, I've always liked Stephen King, and I've always thought it was a pity that his talent has never been acknowledged by the literati. Money and fame? Sure. But not acclaim. Yet, he has a kind of genius self-awareness that he calls on to create characters that resonate with the masses. His talent allows him to express his ordinariness in ways that we get. He gets us. We get him. And it works.

King has an article, "The Writing Life" in the Sunday Books section of last week's Washington Post that reminds me yet again of why his talent is noteworthy. In the piece, King more than just hints about why he hasn't received much acclaim, and also why he's such a bloody genius anyway. He "gets" it.

There's a mystery about creative writing, but it's a boring mystery unless you're interested in this one small animal, sometimes quite vicious, that makes its home in the bushes. It's a scruffy little thing with fleas and often smells of whatever nasty mess it's been rolling in. It can never be more than semi-domesticated and isn't exactly known for its loyalty. I'll speak more of this beast -- to which the Greeks gave the comically noble name musa, which means song -- later, but in the meantime, believe me when I say there's little mystery or tragic romance about the rest of it, which is why they never show the working part in movies about writers, only the drinking, carousing and heroic puking in the gutter by the dawn's early light.

Dig this: The so-called "writing life" is basically sitting on your ass.


Spoken like a master.

You have to have a place, but it can be anywhere, really. You have to have some time, but it can be anytime.

It's nice to have your own place, I will admit that. And it's nice to have your own time because you can keep people from calling you on the phone and breaking your concentration. Of course, what they're really doing by breaking your concentration is scaring that scruffy little fleabag back into the bushes.

The place one calls one's study or writing room is really no more than a clearing in the woods where one trains the beast (insofar as it can be trained) to come. One doesn't call it; that doesn't work. One just goes there and picks up the handiest writing implement (or turns it on) and then waits. It usually comes...

But there's no shortcut to getting there. You can build yourself the world's most wonderful writer's studio, load it up with state-of-the-art computer equipment, and nothing will happen unless you've put in your time in that clearing...


And then, King nails it. Revealing, with brutal honesty, why he rarely receives acclaim from the literati.

I'm often asked if writing classes are any help, and my immediate and enthusiastic answer is always, Yes! Writing classes are wonderful for the writers who teach them and can't make ends meet without that supplementary income. They are also good places for unattached people to meet, talk about books and movies, have a few drinks and possibly hook up. But teach you to write? No. A writing class will not teach you to write. The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one's muse. These are all activities one must pursue alone.

Aspiring writers are told these things over and over again and constantly push them aside. They want something quicker. A magic bullet at Breadloaf. A secret passageway at Iowa. They are desperate for someone to tell them it's not what you do but who you know. And when I tell aspiring writers I didn't know anybody, I see the light go out of their eyes.

With writing, the important dues are not paid at Iowa. They are the dues you pay to your chair. Sitting on your ass.

Stephen King gets it.

You can read the whole article here (registration required).

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Slap Down: A Job Well Done

Chris Rose of the New Orleans Times Picayune delivers an appropriate slap down to those who just don't get it:

Eternal Dome Nation

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Sad Anniversary

One year ago today, Lake Charles, the place I love most, was devastated by Hurricane Rita. I wrote about our horrible evacuation from Texas a long time ago, but I’ve never been able to bring myself to write about the destruction that was originally predicted for us in Lake Jackson, but was instead inflicted on a much better place.

When we left Lake Jackson on September 21st, 2005, the forecast sent Rita directly over our house, which was eight miles from the coast.


The evacuation itself, which took nearly 28 hours to cover a distance that normally takes less than 8 hours, was awful enough that there were times in which I wondered if we would survive it. We did survive, but Lake Charles almost didn’t, and the whole of Cameron Parish was nearly wiped off the map.

There is no way to describe the devastation, but maybe these photos will suffice.
























Lake Charles, we are thinking of you...

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Curses!

I was in Houston last week; we got home late Friday night (really, early Saturday morning). And with the exception of the trip itself, I had a wonderful time. The travel, on the other hand, was beastly -- as was fitting, I suppose, because travel these days seems to involve being treated like a herd of cattle -- by a bunch of braying asses.

On Monday, long lines forced us to wait through 3 ferries -- the one we intended to take, and the next two as well. When it became obvious we wouldn't make our flight, we decided to ring the airline to find out our options. It's probably a good thing that DH, who is far more polite than me, was the one to make the call. After he explained about the ferry, the customer service (?) rep scolded him loudly enough to hear over the noise from our fellow-queuers, that we should already be at the airport. DH said nothing, whereas I would have been tempted to ask if she was suggesting that we swim across Puget Sound with our laptops in our teeth. Then, she informed him that the next flight, departing in 5 hours, was nearly booked and though we could stand by for it, the only way we could be sure of seats was to cough up another $350 each (on top of the $750 per ticket we'd already paid). DH must have made her day by asking about the departure time of the following flight -- she sounded so happy when she said it was the last flight of the day, and if we tried to save the $700 by going stand by, we'd have to buy new full-fare tickets if there wasn't room on that flight.

We paid.

Once we got to Seatac, we spent a few relatively pleasant hours staring out the window of a nice seafood restaurant, and the flight itself was fine. We arrived in Houston, exhausted, at 12:45 am (13 hours after leaving home) and trudged off to retrieve our bags. Since taking the later flight had allowed us to check in 4 hours early, I hoped our stuff would be in the first batch off the plane -- and it was -- it appeared exactly 57 minutes after the plane landed. That was, by the way, a *very* long 57 minutes in which I had time to note useful things like how singularly unflattering belly-shirts and low-rise jeans can be when worn by anyone with a body mass index over 7.

It was 2 am by the time we got to the rental car agency. DH has some kind of preferred member thing, so they told us to choose a car and go straight to the exit gate to fill out the paperwork. The grinch at the gate took our driver's licenses and started pecking at her keyboard. She pecked a while longer, harrumphed a few times, and then she began writing something on the stack of papers next to her terminal. Just as I was beginning to wonder if this wasn't some kind of perverse Through the Looking Glass episode, she turned. "You," she sneered at DH, "are not a preferred member. I have filled out this application to make you one and save you the trouble of having to go back inside to rent this car. Sign here"

DH, God love him, is patient. He did not attempt to haul her through that little window and turn her into roadkill. He merely said that if she'd spelled his name the same way it was on the driving license and credit card she was holding, she most likely would have found the reservation. Or, she might have simply asked for his membership card.

"Well," she said, "it's spelled like THIS here."

DH snatched the paper she was brandishing. "That's because YOU just WROTE it there." I could hear him gritting his teeth -- never a good sign -- he might be annoyed enough to go back to the counter to complain. Fortunately, he didn't. He just muttered something about not being sure if he should sign using his real name or his new alias, signed, and drove away. We arrived at our less-than-stellar hotel at 3 am.

The rest of the week was lovely, apart from the dental appointment (~shudder) and the blisters from the cute shoes that turned deadly in the humidity. I got to spend time with people I like, and I got a fix of margaritas and Mexican food, which I've been pining for. I even got a few hours of shopping in at the Galleria, surely one of the best malls on the planet.

And then it was time to leave.

Back in Seattle, when all the bags but mine had appeared on the conveyor belt, I decided I was cursed. Of course my bag was the only one on the whole damn flight that was lost. DH's bag had come right away. He had even been offered an upgrade to first class, which he refused since my frequent flyer status wasn't exalted enough to get me one too.

I asked DH if he thought I was cursed. He said it was likely, but it was probably only a minor curse since I've never been in a plane crash. He quite logically pointed out that other than being offered an upgrade when I wasn't, and getting his bag when mine was lost, he'd had to endure the same miseries I had. Like being told flatly by Rosanne B. at the lost luggage counter that she would NOT tell us the airline's policy on lost luggage and that we could call the 800 number if we wanted to know it. Like arriving just in time to watch the 10:20 ferry pull away from the dock so we had another 40 minute wait before we could cross to Whidbey and get home.

We did not hit the deer that tried to cross in front of our car on the final leg of the trip. And I did catch the error Rosanne B. made when she entered my claim -- in time to get my no-longer-lost bag back this morning.

I notice, however, that DH has stopped encouraging me to accompany him to Chicago in two weeks.

Go figure.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Are You Being Servile?

I don’t like to talk about politics much because my views don’t align neatly with any specific party. I’m a kind of Conservative-Libertarian-Democrat-Lite. In real life, this translates to things like:
  1. Uphold the Constitution.

  2. No, really. UPHOLD the Constitution.

  3. Religion is great. Shut-up about it already and leave me alone — and I’ll do the same for you.

  4. Taxes suck, but decent roads are useful; polluting the environment is vile; and starving people on the doorstep do not make for a pleasant environment. So, shut up already and pay your taxes — and I’ll do the same.

  5. Health insurance (or lack thereof) is a nightmare that is killing the economy. Fix it.
If I had to choose just one thing from my list, I would choose the first, because, silly me, I drank the kool-aid all those years ago in American National Government. I learned to believe, truly, that the Constitution is the cornerstone of freedom. Oh yeah; and I learned to believe that freedom is worth fighting for.

Have I managed to amaze you yet, by channeling both Ann Coulter and Hilary Clinton in the same paragraph? :-)

The thing is, I’m disappointed about so many things to do with politics that it would be a blessed relief to be able to identify with anyone at this point. I don’t think it’s going to happen because politicians (and their supporters) seem to spend all their time arguing over the stupidest things and ignoring the important ones — like freedom.

Freedom used to get a lot of accolades from Americans, but it sure doesn’t now. Oh, it gets lip service, but that’s about it. In practice, “security” trumps freedom (not to mention the Constitution and the Bill of Rights), and our future seems destined for the sort of tyranny that would have been unimaginable back in the days of my American National Government class.

Don’t scoff. Instead, ask yourself:

What Is Tyranny?

TYRANNY IS THE NAME that must be applied without distinction to any government in which he who is charged with the execution of the laws may make, destroy, break, interpret, hinder, and suspend them, or even only evade them with assurance of impunity. And … the lawbreaker, whether he be hereditary or elective, usurper or legitimate, good or bad, one or many, who has sufficient force to do this is a tyrant; every society which accepts him is a tyranny; every nation which endures him is servile.[1]

I’ll bet you’re scoffing. If you are, however, you might want to pause to consider why President Bush has acted repeatedly to subvert the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Rule of Law.

For example, a federal judge has rejected government arguments and is allowing a lawsuit challenging the legality of the NSA “terrorist surveillance program” in which secret surveillance, without judicial warrants, was conducted on Americans suspected of having ties to terrorists. In addition, more than 20 cases have been filed in relation to telephone companies’ roles in the NSA program.

Obviously, the people filing these lawsuits (and allowing them to proceed) are very much concerned by America’s slide toward tyranny.

And what was the response from our leaders? According to Paper Chase:

The government requested that the cases be consolidated into one civil action in the US District Court for the District of Columbia … so it could invoke the state secrets privilege and seek to have the cases dismissed.

That’s right. Let’s “invoke the state secrets privilege” and violate the 4th Amendment with impunity. Better yet, let’s just throw the whole damn Constitution out the window — as outlined in the draft of the new anti-terrorism legislation President Bush plans to introduce. According to the AP report, the bill is intended to authorize military tribunals for suspected terrorists since Bush’s previous incarnation of these tribunals was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court last month. It:

…would toss out several legal rights common in civilian and military courts, including barring hearsay evidence, guaranteeing ''speedy trials'' and granting a defendant access to evidence. The proposal also would allow defendants to be barred from their own trial and likely allow the submission of coerced testimony.

SO, the president’s response to the Supreme Court ruling that his tribunals are unconstitutional is to try to get this unconstitutional crap enshrined into LAW?

Right.

This is a tyrannical power-play that should be denounced. The servile will not, but the rest of us have the responsibility to stand up and fight to preserve the freedoms we hold dear, in spite of the injustice of the fact that if we succeed, the servile fools will benefit along with the rest of us.

Contact your legislators. Write letters to the editor. Blog it. But DO something.

"Live free or die."
- General John Stark

------------------

1 Vittorio Alfieri, Of Tyranny, trans. Julius A. Molinaro, & Beatrice Corrigan; p. 11 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1961).

Friday, July 21, 2006

Heat Wave? Beautiful!

While I have sympathy for everyone sweltering in the current heat wave, I, frankly, am in the mood to jump for joy. This is the first day since I arrived in Washington (in May) that it's actually felt like summer -- and I LOVE it! Until today, the temperature has only made it up to 70F/21C twice this month. As far as I'm concerned, that's a *miserable* state of affairs since this is the hottest part of the summer. But today, this GLORIOUS heat wave has brought us well past the old record high of 77F/25C. The last time I looked, it was 88F/30C, and tomorrow may be even better: 90F/32C.

The Weather Service have issued a "heat advisory". LOL!

Gee; I might have to turn on my fan. This is hot? The humidity isn't even 30%. They ought to spend a few days on the Gulf Coast with at least that temperature, but with 98% humidity.

So, I intend ignore the Weather Service killjoys and enjoy this weekend of perfect summer weather.

It's margarita time (finally)!

Sunday, July 9, 2006

More Mount Baker Days!

Yesterday was another perfect Mount Baker Day, and the view from my window was enticing:



So, we decided to combine errands with fun — we walked around our new town, Coupeville.



Coupeville, the second oldest town in Washington, is tiny, with not much more than a single main street, which you can see in the photos above and below. Most of the shops are a bit touristy, but there are some excellent restaurants (like Toby’s) that you can access by going down some stairs on the side of the buildings facing the water.



The Coupeville Wharf extends out from Penn Cove.



The wharf itself has a restaurant and a few more tourist-oriented shops. It also has an area dedicated to posters with information about whales, which are frequent visitors to the area. Suspended from the ceiling above the posters is the skeleton of a HUGE whale that died after beaching nearby. I’m not that keen on dead whales, but the views from the pier are amazing!

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Mount Baker Days!

When we first moved to Bellevue, back in 1993, several people told us about “Mount Baker Days”, which were, apparently, days that were clear enough to see Mount Baker in the distance. We were there nearly 7 months before we had a Mount Baker Day, and then we understood the stories about people being so entranced that they would stare at it for great lengths of time, and forget they were driving a car!

We’ve had a lot of Mount Baker Days in the last few weeks, and today was one of the best. I took this shot from the Coupeville wharf — and it doesn’t nearly do it justice — the snow on the peak was like glitter in the sun.



Today was only the second day I’ve really been out and around since getting sick after moving here. The first day was two weeks ago, when some friends who just moved to Seattle joined us in a visit to Lavender Wind Farm and West Beach. That was a Mount Baker Day too, but we were looking west, so we didn’t notice it.

Lavender Wind Farm really is amazing. You can walk through the fields, or follow a path through a clever labyrinth, planted only with lavender, and look out to the sea, and to the Olympic Mountains beyond.

The water and mountains were so beautiful, I forgot to take a photo of the labyrinth. You can just see the edge of it on the right in the photo below.



In addition to lavender, the farm has fields of other flowers too.



Along with an errant strand of my own wildly whipping hair, this shot shows West Beach, which is rocky as well as windy — and that wind is cold — even on a sunny summer day!



West Beach, with the Olympic Mountains beyond.