Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Steven Taylor is added to my blogroll because he is the proverbial gentleman and scholar, and he seems to like that kind of thing.

Lucy and I are on the outs today. It all started over at redneckin where Chuck has been cheering GF along with redecorating her kitchen. After making oh, so many useful suggestions, I looked at mine and said, "Yikes, this needs a good cleaning!"

Out comes the bucket, and the Mr. Clean and the scrubber sponge. This is a problem. Lucy is far nosier than a cat and likes to be in the middle of things. She is not allowed near cleaning solutions because they are not good for her respiratory system. I spent all afternoon yesterday scrubbing (and how, exactly, did THAT get over HERE) and Lucy spent it hollering because she was left out.

She has been cross with me all day. She tossed her boiled egg off the cage onto the floor and bit me when I put it back. Then threw it off again. Snot.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I never read Hillary Clinton's book "It Takes A Village". But it is an excellent title -- parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, neighbors and friends all have essential roles in raising a child. It is a true statement.

So what idiot came up with the title "Living History" for her memoirs? That title evokes to me the last living Confederate widow, the last World War I veteran, the last living painter of the Cubist school of art. Isn't she supposed to be a working politician? Or is she ready to retire?

Miss Meryl is complaining about bugs in the south. Can you imagine?

I'll pass on this bit of wisdom from Miss Glenda, my beloved friend and graduate of Louisiana Tech's home economics program:

I leave the cobwebs up. They help catch the mosquitos and flies.

I will post more southern housekeeping tips from Miss Glenda as occasions arise. Go Class of '66!

Another small pleasure. Sunday night I delivered a graduation gift to the young woman across the street. Today, Tuesday, there is a hand-written, personally worded thank-you note in my mailbox. Good training, Mom!

Monday, April 28, 2003

Meryl Yourish has a long letter from Captain Steve. I like this part:

Daewoos are tiny Korean trucks we use here. They are too small to pass US safety standards so you won't see them at home, but they are cheap and relatively durable so the DoD uses them overseas. (That's right. They're too dangerous to sell to farmers and small business owners who need cheap transport, but we buy them for 19 year-olds to tear around in overseas.) They are so small that when I was in Korea it was a popular diversion for 3 or 4 men to walk around base picking up parked Daewoos and carrying them to hiding places. After a while so many man-hours were wasted by people searching for their cars that the Wing Commander had to forbid the sport.

Small pleasures. Kathleen's older girl, Kate, graduates from high school this year. I enclosed a check with a pretty Neiman-Marcus card (from I don't know how far in the past) and crossed the street to deliver it last night. These girls used to feed my cat when I went out of town. Both have grown into young women with striking Irish good looks. Kate plans to go to LSU and study forensic science. What a fascinating field to get into.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

There is nothing like sitting with a bunch of good-natured southern girls in a lovely courtyard drinking champagne. Wasn't blue at all. More your pop-jazz songs of the past century.

LATER: By the way, Shirley, the lyrics you missed are:

I guess I'll never see the light
I get the blues most every night ...

I am going to dress this morning and join some ladies for brunch at The Guest House in Natchez. An old favorite of mine, Sylvia Johns, will be playing piano. One of our frequent guests at home, Shirley McClerkin, will be singing blues. It's all part of the Natchez Bluff Blues Fest.

It's early in a beautiful day to be listening to blues, but a mimosa or two might smooth out the mood.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Odd Todd has a funny new cartoon up touting his new book.

Interesting, Tata Possum. Ingrid Newkirk remembers The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Ballpark figure for new swimming pool liner: $2200.00

Sorry, kids, it's time to play in the sprinkler.

The luxury I crave these days is cut flowers for the house. That patch of ground would be perfect for a garden.

Exercise? I can do yoga. Year round. (And work in the garden.)

Cooling down in the summer? Do you have any idea how warm the water is by mid-July down here?

LATER: And, I don't like the enviromental implications of running a 30,000 gallon swimming pool when it's used as seldom as we and others in the neighborhood use it. That wraps it up.

Not quite. It's not a pretty pool, either. Absolutely zero aesthetic value to the neighborhood.

EVEN LATER: $2200, you say, isn't so much money. It's a whole lot of money when you consider that we spent $3500 on this monstrosity 3 years ago. When it sprang a leak last year WE COULDN'T GET ANYONE TO COME FIX IT. That's why it needs a new liner. What about the boys, you ask? Won't they inherit this property? Don't they have a say? I say, if the boys want to go swimming it would be cheaper to fly them to Cancun. (Better yet, they can go jump in a lake.)

I am going to post this wonderfully clever little cartoon here just in case you are not a regular reader of Tim Blair. Too cool.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Silly dreams. Lucy shrieked me awake from a dream in which I woke one morning to find Ken Layne asleep in the guest bedroom. Apparently, he had come through town for some sort of media event -- a panel, a book-signing, it wasn't clear -- and slept over at our house. Which was all fine with me. Others of his crowd showed up and I counted heads and cooked for everyone.

I am a great fan of Ken Layne's work and he is welcome to stay here anytime. But he needs to be warned that there's not a bed in this house that would be comfortable for a 6'4" man, or woman, for that matter.

Later today I bought 36 white begonias and 12 white impatiens. Along with the 50 White Queen caladiums, I think the front yard is taken care of.

Now time to think about the back.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Dr. Frank needs to prance on over and perform at the Under-the-Hill Saloon in Natchez. It's a historic venue, quite near the place where Jim Bowie had a legendary knife fight. I'll pay double.

Did you watch television yesterday? Did you catch Laci Peterson's mother carrying on? Down south we call that "unseemly". We do not advertise our grief down here. Taking on as she did is restricted to the end of a long night when we are deep in our cups. Fie on MSNBC for televising such a spectacle.

Monday, April 21, 2003

One Maruyama string trimmer: $326.24

One riding lawnmower repair: $285.00

One diagnostic for a leaking swimming pool: $250.00

One spare J-Dam: Priceless

Friday, April 18, 2003

Rex brought the trimmer by. We will pay for it on Monday. He was off to Arkansas to follow the 1300 pounds of crawfish that his son trucked up early this morning.

Time to look in on Iranian Girl:

A different day, a good girl...
Today, I was totally another person...although it was Friday & was holiday I woke up soon in the morning & started studying all my lessons for hours, after dinner sleeper for an hours & after that again studied...I connected to Internet just for some minutes & tried to help my mother like a good girl, didn't watch TV or satellite & got prepared for the Sunday physic exam. And now I'm just gonna go to bed soon to be able to wake up early in the, I think I'm going too far & if things go on like this I should get worried about myself...I had never been such a good girl!!!
Good girl!

Oh, gaack! We're now proud owners of a Maruyama string trimmer. I like this line:

Maruyama true commercial grass trimmers are designed and built in the tradition of our industry recognized heavy-duty landscape line.

Believe me, it's pretty serious around here.

And they call this Good Friday.

Miss Lee Ann Morawski at Spinsters has a new job! Congratulations, Miss, and thank you for the incentive to get on with some much needed work.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Man, it's like way hard to maintain my Zen when there's a war on.

That was a cheap shot at Lyman and I'm going to take it back, because he hasn't lost a pair of undies under the bed but once in nearly ten years. It's probably not his fault that I didn't find them for two years, either. He is creating a little wall here, though.

Bless his heart, he was planting cucumber and squash plants in the garden yesterday when he tripped over a tomato stake and fell into a pile of them (stakes). He looks and feels like he ran into a gang of toughs in a dark parking lot.

He had the presence of mind to throw the row rake away when he fell, and so prevented any serious injury. But he does require a lot of sympathy.

Today I am going to feel energized. I am going to think good thoughts. I am going to apply myself vigorously and uncomplainingly to housecleaning. I am not going to question the identity of bits that I am going to clean from the walls around Lucy's cage. I am not going to fume when I find men's undies stacked at the foot of the bed. I am not going to wonder how two adults who are not greasemonkeys or field workers or miners can possibly create such a soiled environment. And thus will prove that cleanliness is not necessarily next to godliness, but that it is damned close to saintliness.

I forgot cheerfully. Yeah, that's it. Cheerfully.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Mr. Nieporent and I have had a little tiff over at Charles Austin's site about "terrorism". Mr. Nieporent thinks that the justice system in America is fine without refining crimes down to "hate crimes" or "terrorism".

In many ways, I agree with him. It's an overcomplication to designate "hate crimes". It goes too many ways.

"Terrorism" might be a tad different. You'll have to take my word on this, but when we went into Afghanistan I saw a short film on MSNBC, "Inside Afghanistan", in which a prisoner-of-war in one of the northern camps was asked about Osama Bin Laden. He was interpreted as saying, "Osama is a terrorist. He does terrorism. Like a doctor does medicine, Osama does terrorism." Yes, Mr. Nieporent, there are different classes of crime.

That's not right. How was your mama gonna holler "William Joseph" out the screen door when she called you to supper?

Monday, April 14, 2003

Here's a great little story by Jesse Walker about a walk with his fiancee:

TRUE TALES OF BALTIMORE: So last night R. and I are walking the series of blocks that separate our car from a party. We pass three elderly women, and R. decides to mess with them by suddenly saying, "I don't know if I feel right about having an affair."

There's a pause. Then one of the old ladies yells, "GO FOR IT!"

There are stories of the National Museum of Iraq being looted, like this one. Before everyone starts wringing their hands, experts need to examine what morsels are left and see if they are authentic. Note in this story:

The museum had been closed during much of the 1990's, and like many Iraqi institutions, its operations were cloaked in secrecy under Mr. Hussein.

Given the venality of the regime, and the tremendous value of antiquities on the black market, the museum might have contained nothing but exquisite fakes. Worth looking at.

LATER: The scam is, during these ten years you make exquisite fakes for the museum, and store the real things out of country. When war arrives, incite a mob to loot the museum, setting the whole world in a tizzy over lost relics, and forcing the US to start paying sums to recover the lost pieces, which you sell from your cache which has been safely stored away for years. I like it. Lovely way to get the last laugh.

Saddam just borrows the art from the people, and finances his lifestyle and such terrorist activities as he can afford with our dollars.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

There she is!

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Body on beach had two left thumbs

Police said Friday that the fact that a body that washed up on a Wilmette beach had two left thumbs could help them identify the man.

Well, I guess so.

Where is Shoshana?

Some smart organization with the footage will issue a 2 hour tape of "Donald Rumsfeld's Greatest Moments".

Friday, April 11, 2003

Where is Shoshana?

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Via Brothers Judd comes this tale of horse-thieving during the looting in Baghdad. What a strange thought.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - It was enough to make a Texan president's heart swell: Hassan Atiya, an Iraqi on horseback, riding off into the chaos of wartime Baghdad with a vigorous wave and an exclamation — "I love you, America."

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

By way of Kathy Kinsley and Mommabear, to Command Post, to Defense Tech, to Noah Schachtman's article at Tech Central Station. Why are people in the field getting false positives on chemical tests?

Last night I was watching Fox News when embedded reporter Greg Kelley described how he and his team had left the presidential palace the night before to sleep in a clearing. Some members of the team put a tarp on the ground, but Kelley said no, he camped out on the hood of the Humvee.

Now, I don't mind sleeping on the floor, but I won't be sleeping outdoors in anything but a deluxe tent. I don't like bugs and I don't like snakes.

So what kinds of bugs are the soldiers living with in Iraq? Here's a story about an entomologist working with US forces in Kuwait. An excerpt:

Obenauer said malaria ---- spread by mosquitoes and parasites ---- and other nasty infections caused by "filth" flies, pose the biggest threats.

But there are other dangers, posed by other bugs, including:

Sand flies: Like the no-see-ums in the southern United States and jejenes of Mexico and Central America, sand flies in Iraq like to bite feet, ankles and wrists. The Iraqi twist on the common pest is that they carry deadly viruses called cutaneous and visceral leishemaniasis, which can cause fever, weight loss, an enlarged spleen and liver before death.

Ticks: Unlike the ticks Marines may have seen before, in places like Camp Lejeune, N.C., Iraq's blood-suckers can transmit a bacteria into their host that can cause a form of hemorrhagic fever. They are pretty cunning, too, Obenauer said. "They're long-legged and fast, and they feel the vibrations of animals or humans and move toward it," he said. "They're pretty bad ticks."

Spiders and scorpions: While they do not carry diseases, spiders and scorpions are high on the troops' list of concerns, Obenauer said. And there are many to be concerned about.

Sun spiders, also known as "camel spiders," are not true spiders but spiderlike bugs that grow to be about 8 inches in diameter and are sure to freak out any Marine sharing a foxhole with one. Obenauer said that while they are big and ugly and pack a mean bite, they are nonvenomous and nearly harmless. Janis: Here's another reference for these guys, which includes this charming quote: "The popular terms 'haarskeerders' and 'baardskeerders' (Afrikaans words for hair and beard cutters) originate from the strange behaviour of some of these animals where they cut hair from sleeping people or animals (dogs) at night. It appears that female solifugids find hair to be an ideal nest liner."

There are 19 species of scorpions in Iraq, five of which are "very dangerous," Obenauer said. Among the latter is the black scorpion, one of the deadliest in the world.

It's worth reading the rest of the story to find out how dreadful conditions have been in Iraq. It also explains those 50 gallon drums of pesticides.

LATER: Here's a military site with pictures of snakes and scorpions, dangers and treatments.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

So, Iraqis grow tomatoes, too. I am too lazy to cite, but, of course, you have heard the reports of Iraqis living on little but tomatoes. Must say, if I were restricted to a food or two, tomatoes would be high on the list.

My question is, "Do middle-aged men in Iraq compete in growing tomatoes?"

Is there a state-mandated way of growing tomatoes, or do men sit around arguing about the best way? Do they argue about fertilizing? Spacing? Depth of planting? Watering? Picking suckers?

Do they brag? "My tomatoes are marble-sized." "Well, my tomatoes are golf-ball sized." "When did you put yours out?" "Oh, my garden was ready in February." "My tomatoes are beginning to turn." "Birds are getting all mine."

Or is it all different?

LATER: According to this story about tomato farmers in Al Zubayr, probably not.

Sorry, folks. I just experienced the best life has to offer. I was setting out the last two tomato plants in our rich Mississippi River soil when a tug on the river sounded its horn and cheers erupted from the ball park across the street.

Of course, there are already mosquitos. And Lucy is ticked because she couldn't participate. West Nile, you know.

Oh! Me? I'm going to help plant 45 tomato plants.

Bosh, Josh. John Kerry has a tin ear. That's from a registered independent.

LATER: I'm watching Joshua Marshall on Fox right now. He has a good television presence. Nice voice.

It seems things just don't change:

Last November, exactly one year after the fall of the Taleban, I stayed in the Kabul house once occupied by Osama bin Laden. Though hardly on the scale of Saddam’s palaces, by Afghan standards it was a stately home, the residence of the Saudi-born terrorist’s third wife. It was at once a surprise and a confirmation to discover that the ascetic, anti-Western terrorist had chosen French bidets for the green-tiled en-suite bathrooms. His luxury mansion outside Kandahar, with its door handles studded with semi-precious stones, would not have been out of place in Footballers’ Wives.
Caves? Riiiight...

Thursday, April 03, 2003

From Smiley Anders in The Baton Rouge Advocate:

According to a recent survey, men say the first thing they notice about women is their eyes. And women say the first thing they notice about men is they're a bunch of liars.

Attacker held off with curling iron

That's as good a headline as I've seen lately. Here's the story from The Baton Rouge Advocate.

Tata Possum posted another excerpt from his turn-of-the-century writing guide today. It includes this excerpt:

Men of Action, Writers of Power.—Any atrophy of action in the writer is loss of power in the writing. The masculine literature of the world is the marrow of men great—in action as in writing: Moses, David, Paul, Cæsar, Æschylus, Michel Angelo, Cervantes, etc. Of more avail, also in literature, it the action any writing means than its literary finish. Homer, less literary than Virgil, is yet the greater influence. Milton, in form more measured than Shakespeare, is yet behind him in magnitude and power. Burns, who made no profession of literature, arouses more enthusiasm than Wordsworth, whose one business was poetry. Emerson is more literary, but less virile, than Carlyle, whose bias was all in favor of action.

Several years ago, to help my son Jason, I read a book or two of Milton for the second or third time. I have no time for Milton anymore. However you go about it, the man is a bore. On the other hand, Shakespeare is a charm.