Sunday, March 30, 2008

MAD Fold Ins

I grew up on MAD magazine. I never subscribed, but a trip to the store usually meant stopping by the comics display to see if the new issue had arrived. Somewhere, I have a load of the paperback books.

The New York Times has an interactive display showing some of the old Jaffee fold-ins. By clicking on the right edge and dragging to the left with the mouse, you can relive those halcyon days. Of course, it is art nowadays.

H/T SondraK

Saturday, March 29, 2008


I gotta say, I'm pretty jealous today. MoK of Six Degrees of Blondness is at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville VA. The weather is cold, but oh well. I've only been to Texas Motor Speedway in the Ft. Worth area - but it was a sweet deal. One of my buds was the sports editor for one of the local papers, and I went along with him at first so I could help him cover the action. He became a fan, and probably was more knowledgeable after a couple years. One year, I actually got garage access. The rest of the time, I had pit lane and media center access, which meant I watched the races from pit lane, and ate my meals at the media center.

I got to meet quite a few Nascar personalities as well. Some memories are bittersweet - Adam Petty was a nice, polite kid who was extremely personable. Kenny Irwin, Jr. was very soft spoken and a pleasure to be around when we interviewed him. Of course, I really never even got close to Dale Sr. - even my buddy never got a chance to interview him. Chocolate Meyers and Richard Childress were accessible, though. But, I saw Dale up close several times. We interviewed Jeff Burton. Wow, what a class act. We hung out with Dave Marcis and his team one year. Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett were also very great spokesmen for the sport - a pleasure to be around.

The media center is placed between the now Nationwide and now Sprint garages. So, the Claim Jumpers (once Busch Whackers) had to hustle across the road from one garage to another when one practice was over and another began. Yes, Micheal Waltrip is tall. He stood out like a sore thumb. I've got a picture of he and John Andretti, Jr. talking in the garage area - what a contrast. Dick Trickle was pretty concerned about getting a butt sucked down while he had a moment. He used to smoke in the cars, until the in car cameras caught him doing it during cautions and the powers that be decided that wasn't good publicity.

I was there the year that excessive rain caused "weepers" in the track, and drivers were wrecking when they hit the wet spots during qualifying runs. Pit security more or less broke down, and there were fans on pit road getting autographs, and drivers and crews (and me) sitting on the pit wall. I stood up on the wall to get a better picture and sitting down discovered Todd Bodine's car owner was next to me and Todd was beside him. During Busch practice, I sat with Tony Stewart's team spotting babes for them to watch as they walked by. Good times.

Texas has only recently gotten away from one groove racing. Whoever dominated the race at first generally didn't win, because track position was critical. A poor pit stop or some other normal incident would take the initial leaders out. But, I wouldn't trade it for the world. It is true you see the race far better sitting at home watching it on television, but the sights, sounds and smells are an experience I highly recommend. Qualifying is fun to watch, because you hear the single car the whole trip around the track. It's easy to tell when the driver lifts, feathers or hammers on it. Green flag starts are also very cool. There is a deep bass rumbling as all the cars work around the track, and the noise gradually builds as they enter turn four. It just keeps building slightly until the green flag drops, then the place explodes with honking, unmuffled American V8 power overcomes the senses. The smell of the fuel - like the old premium of days past, permeates the air, mingled with the smell of hot rubber from the tires. During the race, forget hearing anything unless you have some pretty good headphones on.

Texas is a cool place to be, but it isn't as distinctive as some. It is kinda reviled as a "cookie cutter" track because it is "D" shaped and 1.5 miles long, just like plenty of other tracks. There are no two exactly the same, but the races are a lot alike because the cars are set up very close to the same at each one. Martinsville is unique. It's shaped like a paper clip - long straights hooked to fairly "tight" corners. Drivers are on the gas very hard coming out of a corner, and on the brakes very hard going in. It's also considered to be more or less a "flat track" because it doesn't have steep banking (like Bristol). Stock Car Science has a far better explanation of racing at Martinsville (and racing in general - she explains the physics, mechanics and of course, the "science" far better than I). Brakes, and right side tires are critical here. Forty three cars makes for one big traffic jam all day. Combine lots of cars with mechanical failures likely, plus tempers flaring, uncomfortable racing conditions, and not much grip - well, it gets interesting.

That is why I'm really jealous. I'm jealous of anyone going to any Nascar race, but this one? Really jealous. Maureen - you have yourself a time there. It will be a lifetime experience, particularly since this is your first race in person. Enjoy!

UPDATE: It turns out Mo is going to the second race there this year. I'm still jealous, though. That hasn't changed.

UPDATE 2: I should learn to read - it's Richmond she will be attending. Oh well, it's another great short track that I'd give a left - well, maybe not.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hazards of Cialis

Another health service I'm happy to provide. Beware.

Oh, and surgery went fine. Home and sore, with two pretty useless appendages, instead of just one.

Another Meme

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Heh. I haven't had anything to eat since midnight and nothing but clear liquids (water) since then, and shut that off at seven am. My caffeine content has to be residual.

I'm going in for outpatient surgery for carpal tunnel on my right hand today. If everything goes well, after a month I'll be cleared to go back to work. It's about farging time.

Meme H/T Tam

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Frustrated, and the Air is Blue

Today is another Woot-Off. Woot is a geek oriented site that generally sells one item per day, and when they run out, too bad. No backorders. They have quite the selection of goodies sure to warm the heart of any geek - IPods (and other media players) and accessories, computers, recordable media, bluetooth accessories, R/C toys, LCD and plasma televisions,vacuum cleaners (generally Roombas or Dysons), printers, and well, you get the idea. Woot offers new and refurbished goodies, too. A Woot-Off is when they put up a variety of items one at a time, and when one sells out, another is put on the block. These occur about once a month to six weeks. It's a good way for them to clear out low inventory items. You literally have to be Johnny On the Spot, refreshing the page to see what is new. They do put up a flashing light icon and an inventory bar to give you an idea of how much stock is left. There are people out there that stay up all night and day until Woot is out of inventory and the Woot-Off is over. Some call in sick at work to do this.

So, this came up:

Polaroid DVD Recorder with 160GB Hard Drive and ATSC Tuner

For $99.99. $5 shipping and handling. Oh, did I mention everything is $5 shipping and handling, even if you order one, two or three? Kinda nice if you buy a big heavy plasma screen. This one was a refurb, with a 90 day factory warranty. If you've shopped for one similar, you'll see why I was interested. This one is about half price or less compared to a new one. I saw it had the ATSC tuner, which is digital (or the new high definition signal), but I wanted to check if it had NTSC (the current analog signal) built in. I've got an older HD "monitor" tv without a digital tuner installed. So, if I want to watch the local HD channels, I have to buy a tuner. Having the recorder and hard drive was icing on the cake. Instead of hitting the "I want one" button, I scrolled down the read the description. Well, you can probably see how this story is going.

It was sold out when I hit the confirm button after reviewing my card info, and entering in my security numbers. Turns out they had eleven units. Sales averaged one per 4.601 seconds. By the time I had read the description, I was SOL. I wasn't gonna drop a bill on something I wasn't sure had what I wanted. This is pretty typical of my experiences with a Woot-Off. Oh well, I'm not gonna go nuts - apparently the eleven who bought this item didn't waste any time seeing what they were getting.


Blog Cuss-O-Meter

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

Which is a laugh if you're around me in meatspace. Plus considering the next post, even by myself the air was blue.

H/T Tam

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Screwed

Beer bellies may double the risk of dementia

Bad news for those with bulging bellies: fat that builds up around the waist during middle age may cause dementia decades later, say researchers who examined the health records of thousands of senior citizens.

Scientists already know that overweight adults risk developing diabetes, heart problems and other medical conditions. But over the last few years researchers have noticed that obesity in middle age is linked with cognitive problems in the aged.

Now it seems that overall body mass is not so important – it's the fat around the belly that appears to cause the problems.

Epidemiologist Rachel Whitmer and colleagues looked at the medical records of 6583 adults registered with the healthcare firm she works for – Kaiser Permanente of Oakland, California.

During the 1960s and 1970s, records were taken of the diameters of the adults' bellies, which gave Whitmer a rough idea of how much fat they were carrying around the waist.

Welp, it's just one thing after another. Technically, mine isn't a beer belly. It's more of a mashed tater with gravy and ice cream belly. But, as the article says, it's the excess fat around the belly that does ya in.

I was going to do something, but I forgot what it was. Hhrrmm.

H/T Ace of Spades

Monday, March 24, 2008

Parable of the Donut

I get religious chain emails all the time - if I love Jesus, I should forward this true story to at least 3742 people. If I don't, I'll surely burn in hell, particularly if I have the bad taste to actually delete the dern thing. What really irks me is when these stories are presented as true and factual, when they are no such thing. I got into a bit of a testy email exchange with one of my email buddies that sends this sort of thing regularly because I returned the story with proof that is was false. She said it didn't make any difference, the point was in the story. I maintain that trying to further your cause with lies, and pressure people to forward this lie under threat of hell is all kinds of wrong. Yes, the Bible uses parables, but it is clear these are stories with no rigidly identified characters, not Bessie the waitress at the I-70 truck stop in Outer Mongolia who received all the goodwill gifts from truckers. There is a difference, at least to me.

So, I get an inspirational email today. Except it really is more of a parable, and I found it somewhat inspiring:

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr. Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small college in the western United States .

Dr. Christianson taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his freshman year, regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery.

Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor's class.

One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. 'How many push-ups can you do?'

Steve said, 'I do about 200 every night.' '200?

That's pretty good, Steve, ' Dr. Christianson said. 'Do you think you could do 300?'

Steve replied, 'I don't know.... I've never done 300 at a time.'

'Do you think you could?' again asked Dr. Christianson.

'Well, I can try,' said Steve.

'Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,' said the professor.
Steve said, 'Well... I think I can...yeah, I can do it.'

Dr. Christianson said, 'Good! I need you to do this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind.'

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No, these weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the first row and asked, 'Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?'

Cynthia said, 'Yes.'

Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?'

'Sure!' Steve jumped down from his desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.

Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, 'Joe, do you want a donut?'

Joe said, 'Yes.'

Dr. Christianson asked, 'Steve would you do ten push-ups so Joe can have a donut?'

Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten push-ups for every person before they got their donut.

Walking down the second aisle, Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship.

When the professor asked, 'Scott do you want a donut?'

Scott's reply was, 'Well, can I do my own push-ups?'

Dr. Christianson said, 'No, Steve has to do them.'

Then Scott said, 'Well, I don't want one then."

Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?'

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten push-ups.

Scott said, 'HEY! I said I didn't want one!'

Dr. Christianson said, 'Look!, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don't want it.' And he put a donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Christianson started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Dr. Christianson asked Jenny, 'Jenny, do you want a donut?'

Sternly, Jenny said, 'No.'

Then Dr. Christianson asked Steve, 'Steve, would you do ten more push-ups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?'

Steve did ten....Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say, 'No!' and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks.

Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these push-ups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten push-ups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely.

Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row. During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Christianson went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Christianson, 'Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?'

Dr. Christianson thought for a moment, 'Well, they're your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.' And Dr. Christianson went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, 'NO! Don't come in! Stay out!' Jason didn't know what was going on.

Steve picked up his head and said, 'No, let him come.'

Professor Christianson said, 'You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten push-ups for him?'

Steve said, 'Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.'

Dr. Christianson said, 'Okay, Steve, I'll let you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?'

Jason, new to the room, hardly knew what was going on. 'Yes,' he said, 'give me a donut.' 'Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can have a

Steve did ten push-ups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters.

Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. By this time sweat was profusely dropping off of his face, there was no sound except his heavy breathing; there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular.

Dr. Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, 'Linda, do you want a donut?'

Linda said, very sadly, 'No, thank you.'

Professor Christianson quietly asked, 'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn't want?'

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow push-ups for Linda.

Then Dr. Christianson turned to the last girl, Susan. 'Susan, do you want a donut?'

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. 'Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?'

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, 'No, Steve has to do it alone; I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.'

'Steve, would you do ten push-ups so Susan can have a donut?'

As Steve very slowly finished his last push-up, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 push-ups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said, 'And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, 'Into thy hands I commend my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, He yielded up His life. And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.'

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.

'Well done, good and faithful servant,' said the professor, adding, 'Not all sermons are preached in words.'

Turning to his class, the professor said, 'My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He spared not His only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all, for the whole Church, now and forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift to us, the price has been paid.'

'Wouldn't you be foolish and ungrateful to leave it lying on the desk?'

Dr. Christianson? Christian.....son? Yeah, I'd say this is a story that isn't pretending to be true, and it is more of a parable. Call me picky.

Oh, and let us not forget:

Share this with someone. It's bound to touch their heart and demonstrate Salvation in a very special way.

Okay, I can deal with that. I'm not gonna go to hell if I delete this one. But, I like it, so I am sharing it. So there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Have a joyous Easter, everyone.

Spelling Test

Your Spelling is Perfect

You got 10/10 correct.

Your spelling is excellent. You also have a great memory and eye for detail.

Heh. I was the Gray County Spelling Bee Champion in sixth and eighth grades, back when Moby Dick was a minnow.

H/T Wyatt

Friday, March 21, 2008

New Scam

I get some interesting emails. I don't seem to get much in the way of 419 Nigerian scams these days - oh, just damn. Steve H. blogged about his adventures leading these leaches on his blog, and ended up writing a book about it - The Good, The Spam, and the Ugly.

But I don't remember anything quite like this:

Ms.Dorothy Rifferty





Geez, ya think maybe some funds might be required to send the little darling over here to the states? Perhaps access to my account? Rrreeeeealllyyyy?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rock and Roll Cowboys with Six String Guns

This blows Tusk clean out of the water. This is a performance by the Leningrad Cowboys with the Soviet Red Army Choir at the 1994 MTV Music Awards. A cover of Sweet Home Alabama. In English. Back when The Evil Empire was recent history. We will bury you indeed.

Totally ripped off from McGehee.

Today's Cheap SeatShot

Raiding the ol' email inbox today...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John Adams

I've just seen the first two parts of the seven part miniseries John Adams on HBO. Starring Paul Giamatti as John Adams, Laura Linney as Abigail Adams, David Morse (one of my favorite character actors) as George Washington, and Tom Wilkinson (he played General Cornwallis in The Patriot). The production drips with authenticity, or enough to snow me under. The language, clothing and sets all appear spot on. I found myself drawn into the dialog and action. So much of the action appears almost incidentally, as if the characters really didn't expect it, nor do we.

I grew up worshiping on the altars of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. Little of my history lessons told of the machinations of John Adams. It is a pleasure to actually learn something in an entertaining milieu. Seeing how the Continental Congress drug it's heels incessantly before finally being pushed into decisions rings true today. And it is John Adams pulling the strings. Jefferson is presented as an idealist - eschewing speeches for the purity of the written word, where his sentiments can be more exact. Washington is the honorable soldier, who feels it is his duty to lead, not his desire. Franklin has his smart aleck moments - when he tells Adams that Washington is the tallest man of the lot, so he would be bound to lead something. Abigail Adams is shown to be the wisdom and strength behind her husband. There is a touching scene where Washington takes some letters from her for her husband, since the mails are less than reliable.

I'm no historian. I have no idea how accurate all of this is. It is based on the biography John Adams by David McCullough. He based much of the book on the extensive letters written by John and Abigail. At any rate, HBO has me hooked. I'll be watching the next five episodes come hell or high water.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bert Brady Person of the Week

Just wow. Sometimes heroes come in unexpected packages.

Twilight Zone Moments

PTG at the Plains Feeder has an interesting post up about a chance encounter with Buddy Holly. The main problem is that it occurred in 1966, decidedly after The Day The Music Died. After we've lived a certain amount of years, we get the idea that maybe, just maybe, we've seen it all. Until something unsettling like this happens.

I've never had any kind of supernatural experience. I think in order to perceive some of these occurrences, one's psyche must be somewhat in tune with other worlds, as it were. I think I've got all the psychic ability of a lump of coal, perhaps less.

It is no secret that I live on a farm. Western Kansas, windswept prairie, lonesome and desolate. Four miles from here is some virgin pasture that still holds the impressions of tepee circles. A mile from here a spring used to run, before irrigation killed the water table. I dug up a rusty old barrel of a gun in our garden as a kid - it was too far gone to tell what it was. The Santa Fe Trail is about four to five miles south of here.

As a child, the banshees in Darby O'Gill and the Little People certainly struck a chord with me. It was very easy to imagine the wind that was howling in the blackness of a thunderstorm in the middle of the night held the howl of a banshee or three. The chair that I'm writing in now held my father as he took his last breaths.

I'd think this location would be rich in psychic energy. Hell, even Coronado came through here. His "treasure" is supposedly buried in this area, despite the history that he never actually found any gold.

One of my friend's father died when he was a teenager. He says he saw his father in reflections in glass quite a bit after his death, and he was pretty unsettled about it. He felt his father was benevolent - just worried about his family after he had to "leave" far earlier than he wanted to.

As for shows like Ghost Hunters, well, I tend to be a Doubting Thomas. Too many people believe that We Couldn't Say It On TV If It Weren't True. Yeah, and there is no such thing as special effects - The Exorcist is all true, but on the other hand, the moon landings were faked, because that couldn't be true. Trick photography doncha know.

Let's just say I doubt that an hour long series can find enough material every week that is truly psychic in nature. Let's not forget that Houdini challenged all the prominent psychics of his day to reproduce their experiences in controlled situations. They failed. Even today, The Amazing Randi offers the same challenge, and he's never had to cough up a million bucks for definitive proof.

Does this mean I don't believe PTG or my buddy? Not at all - my considered opinion, for what it's worth, is that these sort of things can and do happen, and far from any sort of measuring instrument capable of trustworthy readings. Last night, about three a.m., a thunderstorm with fairly heavy hail woke me up. The wind was blowing and the nearly marble sized stones were rattling the windows and beating on the air conditioner. I wouldn't have been surprised to see a banshee or two twisting in the wind, howling at my soul.

This will be my St. Patrick's Day post - bringing up the subject of banshees. I've now done my Irish duty.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Prairie Dogs

Steve H. has been writing about his growing collection of guns, and what to do with them. He decided that prairie dogs were too cute to hunt.

They are cute, I'll give him that. This, more than anything, is the reason so many environmentalists are trying to "defend" the black tailed rodents. If they were ugly, mean little bastards with no redeeming characteristics, they wouldn't have the defenders in their corner.

The traditional arguments against them are mostly based on their destruction of their habitat. Ranchers claim the holes cause broken legs in livestock. The environmentalists claim this is all anecdotal. Personally, I've never seen it happen, but I sure could see a galloping horse or a spooked herd of cattle end up with broken legs from stepping in a hole. Generally, the prairie dogs have their holes in the middle of a mound of excavated dirt. However, they also have holes that are more hidden, without the mound. I've stumbled into those - and I was watching where I walked. Another argument that I support is that they destroy the natural cover and ruin cropland. Colonies usually are stripped pretty bare, which opens the ground for water and wind erosion. They also destroy crops - many bare acres taken out of production (but still are subject to property taxes - heh) do not endear the little rats to farmers. They are also a vector for diseases, such as plague, tularemia, Lyme disease, erlichia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Rattlesnakes also live in the holes, preying on the 'dogs.

It should be no surprise that I just don't care for rattlesnakes. I used to have permission to hunt in a pasture that was infested, and my buddy The Young Doctor and I discovered a mating pair. We killed them, and removed our hearing protection - we hadn't heard any rattling. It seems good hearing protection masks the sounds of a buzzing rattler, because not only did we hear the dying rattles of the two we shot, but we hear another one close by. It was in a 'dog hole. We shot it, too. It was protecting a nest of baby snakes, which we also shot up. I don't care how this sounds - I'll go out of my way to kill a rattler. Don't waste time telling me I just need to understand them, or realize their position in the food chain, or whatever. Bullsnakes fulfill the same function, and they aren't poisonous. The old man who owned the ground decided he didn't want anyone else hunting his pasture. He's saving it for hunting with his grandchildren. Dog towns that have been hunted become more difficult to hunt, because for all their faults, they realize what sort of range a lot of rifles have, and hide when we appear. Most of the time I have to make shots over a hundred yards. He liked hunting with his .22, which doesn't have the range necessary for shooting at the 'dogs when they are used to hunters.

There has been controversy about whether or not prairie dogs should be considered a threatened species in Kansas. This issue doesn't exactly resonate well with landowners - who amazingly enough, don't care for outsiders telling them they cannot control a pest problem on their own ground. Most of the enviros arguments consist of dismissing landowner's arguments as specious - such as the broken legs on livestock, or that the little devils aren't that destructive. Wide eyed idealism just doesn't cut it for me. Several years ago, the city of Hutchinson, KS had a prairie dog problem where they wanted to use some ground for a couple ballparks. They decided to poison, but the public outcry made them reconsider. Some rescue types volunteered to relocate the 'dogs. The rescuers ran the critters out of their holes with soapy water, captured them, and relocated to Quivera National Wildlife refuge, where most of them were promptly eaten by predators. I still get the warm fuzzies when I think of this incident.

I really don't get many opportunities to hunt these creatures, because in this area, they are generally controlled by poisoning. The towns that do exist are generally on ground owned by people considered nuts by the rest of the population. The rest of us get rid of them as quickly as possible. I used to have a neighbor across the "valley" from me who had almost a half section of infested ground. He passed away, and the people who have the ground now seem to want it to produce, so the 'dogs are being poisoned. When I used to hunt the ground, he had it set up in adjoining strips of summer fallow and planted wheat ground. I could be almost a half mile in on one of his plots before I realized I was driving on planted ground. The rest of the wheat crop was utterly destroyed. Instead of wheat or grass growing, there would be plenty of fireweeds, if that. No grass or any sort of ground cover. Fireweeds are our term for several varieties of plants, mostly what y'all would call tumbleweeds when they are dead and uprooted in the fall winds.

They really might be cute, seemingly hugging and exhibiting highly developed social structures. However, recent studies have shown what goes on underground isn't exactly Walt Disney material. Given that prairie dogs spend more than half their lives underground, it is perhaps
not surprising that one researcher studied them for seven years before making a remarkable discovery: prairie dogs, cute as they may be, are stone-cold killers. Mother prairie dogs regularly practice infanticide and cannibalism in the privacy of their burrows. And contrary to many other species, they are not killing nonrelatives in hopes of ensuring the survival of those closest to them genetically, but are killing and consuming very close relatives: nieces, nephews and siblings
. They are rodents, after all - what do we expect?

There are several methods of poisoning - which is the only effective way to eliminate them. Shooting them just thins them down a bit, and within a month or so, they're back. The best way (I've found, anyways) is to poison the hole in some fashion, and cover the hole. The usual method is a smoke bomb - the gas released is poison - and cover the hole. Any other holes that show smoke are then covered. Phostoxin pellets are also used - toss a few down a hole and cover it up. The pellets are highly toxic and best handled with rubber gloves, plus they are expensive. I prefer the smoke bombs. Some put out strychnine laced grain, but that wipes out any other animals that happen along and eat the grain. Dad and I dealt with an infestation in our pasture when I was still in high school. We'd wait until after a rain, so we could see any recent activity at the mounds. If the 'dogs had cleaned out a hole, we knew it was active and poisoning it would be effective. As I recall, I was in college when Dad finally eliminated the town. It was a several year process.

Even the game wardens I've talked to over the years are in favor of keeping control over the towns. Most of them are very ardent wildlife protectionists - they enforce the game laws with a passion. The wardens just can't generate much passion regarding protecting prairie dogs. They've seen the damage done, and they're sympathies lie with the landowners.

As far as I'm concerned, cuteness isn't a valid reason for allowing a pest to destroy my ground. Mice are cute, too, but I'm not going to let them ruin my house.

Another Update

Yesterday I had the delayed outpatient surgery I spoke of earlier. The procedure:

Left cubital tunnel release at elbow

Left endoscopic carpal tunnel release

So, I had carpal tunnel on the left wrist, and pressure on the ulnar nerve in my left elbow relieved. My arm is pretty well swathed in Ace wrap and Coban. I have to watch how I bend my arm, and placing any pressure on the palm kinda shocks me.

However, maybe this is just in my mind, but I think I can feel a difference in my two nearly dead fingers on my left hand. The little finger has a bad case of adduction, so it can't be opened or closed completely. However, now I can close it much further than before. It has to be stretched to open completely. I had been squeezing a foam ball and gaining strength before this procedure, and that seems to have helped a bunch. The two fingers just seem to have more control. I can't test the strength yet because it flexes the entry wound too much. But, it sure seems to be coming along. Typing has become far easier over time, and it sure seems better now than before.

It will be ten days before my follow up appointment, and the instructions were to not change the dressings, and don't let them get wet. Naturally, my hand and arm are coated with that yellow surgical crap that just about has to wear off. I've got news for them - I'm not gonna let those dressings go for ten days without at least peeking.

So, I see an end to this. I still have kidney stones that have to be tended to, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this particular ordeal. Thank you, God.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Public Service Announcement

Prostate Cancer is serious news for men. As we get older, regular checkups are in order. There apparently are some preventative measures one can take to reduce the chances of contracting this killer.

I give y'all this because I care.

Random Thought

You may realize your cat is totally spoiled when he begs for a handout when you are trimming your fingernails.

That is all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Local News

Dang - I had to read about this at Ace of Spades. I'm sure it will be on the local news tonight:

Sheriff: Woman Sat on Toilet for 2 Years

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Deputies say a woman in western Kansas became stuck on her boyfriend's toilet after sitting on it for two years.

Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple said it appeared the 35-year-old Ness City woman's skin had grown around the seat. She initially refused emergency medical services but was finally convinced by responders and her boyfriend that she needed to be checked out at a hospital.

"We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital," Whipple said. "The hospital removed it."

Whipple said investigators planned to present their report Wednesday to the county attorney, who will determine whether any charges should be filed against the woman's 36-year-old boyfriend.

"She was not glued. She was not tied. She was just physically stuck by her body," Whipple said. "It is hard to imagine. ... I still have a hard time imagining it myself."

He told investigators he brought his girlfriend food and water, and asked her every day to come out of the bathroom.

"And her reply would be, `Maybe tomorrow,'" Whipple said. "According to him, she did not want to leave the bathroom."

The boyfriend called police on Feb. 27 to report that "there was something wrong with his girlfriend," Whipple said, adding that he never explained why it took him two years to call.

More at the link....

Ness City is less than sixty miles from where I live - I've known a few people from there over the years. I assumed this woman was overly obese at first, but nothing in the article says she was. Generally, my state is known more for Fred Phelps than anything else - and you can believe I cringe when I hear about him or his brood in the news.

At any rate, this woman obviously has mental issues. What didn't help her was her enabling boyfriend. The eight or nine hundred pound behemoths we read about couldn't exist without someone helping them be that way, bringing food to them and hauling bodily waste and fluids away. This guy was spared that much, but it is still a team effort to successfully produce this level of self destruction. There are supposedly no secrets in a small town, but in this case, not so much.

Johnny and Jack

The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson put a lot of us to sleep over the years, and was always a welcome "guest" at my family's house. This clip is from 1968 with Jack Webb of Dragnet fame. Webb was famous for his expressionless delivery, and here he shows his comedic talents using his dry monotone. Both he and Carson perform admirably, not flubbing an obvious tongue twister.

This surely qualifies as a viral video - I've gotten it several times in my email inbox over the past couple years. Perhaps y'all have seen it plenty of times before now, but it still tickles my funny bone. This also represents a type of humor that isn't used much anymore - no cursing or sexual content. A lot of this type humor had plenty of double entendres, but the slow progression and buildup seems to be sacrificed for the quick laugh these days. Anyways, enjoy.

H/T Nunkle Kim

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Email Netiquette

If there is one thing that sets my teeth on edge, it's cluttered emails. Nothing makes my day more than opening five .eml attachments to find if I forward this chain email, Bill Gates will pay me five bucks for each person I send this to. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, because most of you who regularly read me are far more 'net savvy than I. But, I'm gonna rant anyways.

First, when you (and I say this to those who forward emails just like they get them) forward an email without cleaning it up, you increase the data for no good reason. Some of the emails I open end up being a third as large when I finally get to the part that I'm supposed to read. This means you are cluttering up servers, using extra space and burning extra energy. Plus, if you aren't on a big pipe, downloading the email takes longer. I do realize that webmail displays a lot of this convoluted crap inline, so it may appear far different than what an email program sees. No excuse -clean the damn things up before sending it to me.
Then, when you forward all those email addresses, plus send "To:" rather than blind carbon copy, you are sending out valid email addresses to the rest of the world. This means spammers who might get hold of this will have that many more legitimate addys. Plus, while this isn't the problem it used to be - some viruses not only picked up addresses from the address book of an email program, but from emails as well.
Thanks to you, propagation of viruses and spam emails just got a boost.

Then there are the chain emails. Jesus H. Christ - if an email begs you to forward it - it is a chain email! Jeebus on a pogo stick, some people have been online for ten years or more and still can't figure this one out. "This virus is the most destructive ever, news just released on CNN and McAfee today." Really? Why the f**k isn't on their sites? "It destroys the zero sector of the hard drive, where all the important information is kept." Oh? So the other data isn't important? Zero sector? Been greasing your muffler bearings as well, lately? Then there are the "help little Tiffany who has cancer by forwarding this email, we have an email tracker" line of BS. Email tracker? Fly to the moon by flapping your arms much? Then there are the religious variety - "If you love Jesus, forward this to ten people. If you love the Devil, go ahead and delete this email." I really doubt that on my Judgment Day, I'm going to be called to task for not forwarding ridiculous emails. I'd rather demonstrate my love for Jesus by doing something a bit more useful to the world than just forwarding a stupid email. Just a thought - how many emails would you have to forward to get into heaven? Just asking.

So, I like to return the more idiotic ones with a link to Snopes or whoever debunks the BS that is being spread. I really like it when the sender has sent it openly to about fifty seven people, because I hit "Reply All" so everyone gets to see how I think they are ignorant. I've gotten the "Obama is a Muslim" one about three times, and I have refined my answer somewhat. Here is the last version I got:

Pleasae take note: I have stated before that "SNOPES" can and DOES lie....if you click on the link in here, you will immediately KNOW because he(obama) IS A RADICAL MUSLIM, he WAS SWORN IN ON THE QURAN, and other things SNOPES says is false....(is chavez bankrolling him???) SATAN IS ALIVE AND WELL IN SNOPES, OBAMA, OPRAH, AND OTHERS......

I have felt for sometime now that Obama is the one person that 'Frightens Me'. I believe the Bible has warned us that 'A man will come from the East that will be charismatic in nature and have proposed solutions for all our problems and his rhetoric will attract will many supporters!'

When will our pathetic Nation quit turning their back on God and understand that this man is 'A Muslim'....First, Last and always....and we are AT WAR with the Muslim Nation, whether our bleeding-heart, secular, Liberal friends believe it or not. This man fits every description from the Bible of the 'Anti-Christ'!

I'm just glad to know that there are others that are frightened by this man!

Semper Fidelis, Chuck

'Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infinitas' 'Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever' - United States Marines -

Who is Barack Obama?

Very interesting and something that should be considered in your choice.

If you do not ever forward anything else, please forward this to all your contacts...this is very scary to think of what lies ahead of us here in our own United States...better heed this and pray about it and share it. confirms this is factual. Check for yourself.

Who is Barack Obama?

Probable U. S. presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHEIST from Wichita , Kansas.

Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii.

When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia.

When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocate to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim.. He is quick to point out that, 'He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.'

Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is not a radical.

Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.

Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world. Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background. ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran.

Barack Hussein Obama will NOT recite the Pledge of Allegiance nor will he show any reverence for our flag. While others place their hands over their hearts, Obama turns his back to the flag and slouches. Do you want someone like this as your PRESIDENT?

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.

The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!

Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!!

This is my current reply:

Not true. I'm no fan of his - I fear for our country if he is elected, but some of the charges simply are false. The leaders of the church he belongs to make Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton seem conservative as far as reparations, etc. are concerned. But, it is a Christian church. And while it is true that recently there was a politician in the news who refused to be sworn in with the Bible, and used the Koran, it wasn't Barack. It was Keith Ellison, D-Minn. Barack was sworn in with a Bible just like everyone else, claims that Snopes is lying notwithstanding. Snopes definitely has a liberal bias, but lying? Mmmmmkay. As far as his "refusing" to salute the flag - he was photographed once on a stage with other Democratic presidential aspirants, and he didn't have his hand over his heart. When questioned about it, he said he didn't feel that holding his hand over his heart made him a better patriot than anyone else. In other words, a lot of the people up there with him who did use their hand were hypocrites. He felt the same way about flag pins in his lapel. I kind of think he had a point. It's no different than Kerry's pictures dressed in blaze orange and holding a shotgun - that didn't make him a hunter. Barack was not slouching, either. For reference, I have included the widely shown picture of him "refusing" to salute. I question his patriotism over his political positions, not some nebulous claim that he is the Antichrist just because he didn't hold his hand over his heart.

Instead of being worked up over his supposed connections with Islam - which are tenuous at best, we should be more worried about his socialistic/communistic leanings in policy and practice. His policies are right out in the open and is something he campaigns about daily. Allowing the UN sovereignty over our laws, income redistribution on a huge scale, and reduction of armed forces everywhere should rattle our cages. The comments his wife has been making about being ashamed of our country also have me alarmed. Don't just take my word for it - do some research yourselves. Unless you really like having spurious email chain letters make your political decisions for you. If that is your preferred method of being informed, please don't bother to vote.


I keep hoping the dumbasses who keep sending me this crap will be offended and just stop it. A forlorn hope, for sure.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Isn't This Considered Poor Form?

I mean, after all, isn't bestiality against sharia law?

Movies That Bring a Tear to Your Eye

Okay, let's admit it. There are movies out there that "get" to us. Maybe you are a manly man and you would walk on broken glass barefoot before a movie would make ya bawl, but there has to be a scene or three that make ya think about it. I'll admit - there are several that make my eyes water. At home, no big deal. At the theater, well, I really hope I don't sniffle too much.

As you can see by the above video clip, I'm a sucker for the end scene in To Kill a Mockingbird. “He would be in Jem’s room all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.” The scene in the courthouse as Atticus was leaving "Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing."

Okay, so I'm a geek: In Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan "I have been and always shall be your friend,” and: “Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”

Old Yeller: Need you ask?

Saving Private Ryan: on the bridge - “Earn this” and at the end at the cemetary: “Tell me I’ve led a good life.”

LOTR Return of the King: the end scene at the Grey Havens.

The Cowboys
: When the Duke is dying and says he is proud of all the boys. John Wayne dying in a movie was just wrong, and hard to take.

Dances With Wolves: “Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?”

Aaaannd, in Second Hand Lions when Hub hugs "the kid" and says "There, there" to the distraught boy.

Movies are supposed to elicit some sort of response from us. Some are sad and do a fine job of bringing on the waterworks. What are the ones that get you going?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I Don't Know My Socialists

Here is an interactive quiz: Guess Whose Quote It Is. It's an interactive quiz - if you pick the wrong answer, it lets you know in a snarky way. Correct answers also have humorous comments. I'd say I was lucky to get 25% on the first try, which since there are four choices for every question, shows how poorly I fared......

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Irena's Children

by Gavriel Horan

Irena Sendler is a 97-year-old Polish woman who saved 2,500 Jewish children during the Holocaust.

She takes the crying baby into her arms, turns her back on the hysterical mother, and walks off into the night. If she's caught, she and the baby will die.

"Promise me my child will live!" the mother cries desperately after her.

She turns for a moment. "I can't promise that. But I can promise that if he stays with you, he will die."

Irena Sendler is 97 years old. She has seen this image in her dreams countless times over the years, heard the children's cries as they were pulled from their mothers' grasp; each time it is another mother screaming behind her. To the children, she seemed a merciless captor; in truth, she was the agent to save their lives.

Mrs. Sendler, code name "Jolanta," smuggled 2,500 children out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the last three months before its liquidation. She found a home for each child. Each was given a new name and a new identity as a Christian. Others were saving Jewish children, too, but many of those children were saved only in body; tragically, they disappeared from the Jewish people. Irena did all she could to ensure that "her children" would have a future as part of their own people.

Mrs. Sendler listed the name and new identity of every rescued child on thin cigarette papers or tissue paper. She hid the list in glass jars and buried them under an apple tree in her friend's backyard. Her hope was to reunite the children with their families after the war. Indeed, though most of their parents perished in the Warsaw Ghetto or in Treblinka, those children who had surviving relatives were returned to them after the war.

Yet Irena Sendler sees herself as anything but a heroine. "I only did what was normal. I could have done more," she says. "This regret will follow me to my death."

Breaking the Silence

Though she received the Yad Vashem medal for the Righteous Among the Nations in 1965, Irena Sendler's story was virtually unknown. But in 1999 the silence was broken by some unlikely candidates: four Protestant high-school girls in rural Kansas. The girls were looking for a subject for the Kansas State National History Day competition. Their teacher, Norm Conard, gave them a short paragraph about Mrs. Sendler, from a 1994 U.S. News & World Report story, "The Other Schindlers." Mr. Conard thought the figures were mistaken. After all, no one had ever heard of this woman; Schindler, who was so famous, had rescued 1,000 Jews. 250 children seemed more likely than 2,500.

Conard encouraged the girls to investigate and unearth the true story. With his help, the girls began to reconstruct the life of this courageous woman. Searching for her burial records, they discovered, to their surprise, that she was still alive, ninety years old and living in Warsaw. The girls compiled many details of Mrs. Sendler's life, which they eventually made into a short play, "Life in a Jar." The play has since been performed hundreds of times in the United States, Canada, and Poland, and has been broadcast over radio and television, publicizing the silent heroine to the world.

Learning to Swim

Irena Sendler was born in 1910 in Otwock, some 15 miles southeast of Warsaw. Her father, a physician and one of the first Polish Socialists, raised her to respect and love people regardless of their ethnicity or social status. Many of his patients were poor Jews. When a typhus epidemic broke out in 1917, he was the only doctor who stayed in the area. He contracted the disease. His dying words to seven-year-old Irena were, "If you see someone drowning, you must jump in and try to save them, even if you don't know how to swim."

Even before the war, Irena had strong loyalties towards Jews. In the 1930s, at Warsaw University, she stood up for her Jewish friends. Jews were forced to sit separately from "Aryan" students. One day, Irena went to sit on the Jewish side of the room. When the teacher told her to move, she answered, "I'm Jewish today." She was expelled immediately. (Decades later, under Communist rule, she was considered a subversive; her son and daughter were refused entry into Warsaw University.)

In fall of 1939, Germany invaded Poland and began its campaign of mass destruction. Many Poles were quick to side with the Nazis. Although Jews had never been accepted by the Polish masses, many of them had fought alongside their Polish countrymen during the few days before the country was overrun. Now these loyalties meant nothing.

Mrs. Sendler was a senior administrator in the Warsaw Social Welfare Department, which was in charge of soup kitchens, located in every district of the city. They distributed meals and gave financial assistance and other services to the poor, elderly, and orphans. From 1939-1942, she was involved in acquiring forged documents, registering many Jews under Christian names so they could receive these services; she listed them all as typhus and tuberculosis victims, to avoid any investigations.

It wasn't enough. Irena joined the Zegota, the Council for Aid to Jews, organized by the Polish underground resistance, operating out of London with the help of many British Jews. Obtaining a pass from the Warsaw Epidemic Control Department to enter the Warsaw Ghetto, she smuggled in food, medicine, and clothing.

Over 450,000 Jews had been forced into the small 16-block area that was the Warsaw Ghetto; 5,000 were dying each month. Irena felt that her efforts were helping only to prolong the suffering, but doing nothing to save lives. She decided that the most that could be done was to try to save the children. "When the war started, all of Poland was drowning in a sea of blood. But most of all, it affected the Jewish nation. And within that nation, it was the children who suffered most. That's why we needed to give our hearts to them," Sendler said on ABC News.

Breaking Through the Walls

In 1942, Mrs. Sendler, "Jolanta," was put in charge of the Children's Division of Zegota. She and her team of twenty-five organized to smuggle out as many children as possible from the Ghetto. Ten members were to smuggle children out, ten were in charge of finding families to take the children, and five were in charge of obtaining false documents.

The hardest part was convincing parents to part with their children. Even the many secular Jewish parents shrank from the thought of surrendering their children into Catholic homes or convents, where they might be baptized or taught Christian prayers. Many chose to die with their children instead. Irena, herself a young mother, found it almost impossibly painful to have to persuade parents to part with their children, entrusting them to a non-Jewish stranger. The only thing that gave her strength to withstand this pain was the knowledge that there was no other hope for survival. Sometimes, she would finally convince the parents, only to be met with the grandparents' adamant refusal. She would be forced to leave empty-handed, returning the next day to find that the entire family had been sent to Treblinka.

Many in the Ghetto thought that Treblinka was a relocation settlement. Actually, it was even worse than Auschwitz, which was a labor camp/death camp. Treblinka, on the other hand, contained little more than gas chambers and ovens. Fighting against time, "Jolanta," entered the Ghetto several times a day, wearing on her arm a yellow Star of David to show her solidarity, desperately trying to convince parents to let her take their children. Many parents would ask her why they should trust her. "You shouldn't trust me," she would agree. "But there's nothing else you can do."

The second biggest challenge was finding Polish families. The penalty of death to every family found harboring a Jew was not always enforced, but some 700 people were killed because of it. Many of the children had to be hidden in orphanages and convents. Jolanta would write to them that she had bags of old clothes to donate; among the old clothes she would hide a child.

Then there was the smuggling of the children out of the Ghetto. Small children were sedated to keep them from crying, then hidden inside sacks, boxes, body bags, or coffins. Older children who could pretend to be ill were taken out in ambulances. Many were smuggled through sewers or underground tunnels, or taken through an old courthouse or church next to the Ghetto.

Outside the Ghetto walls, the children were given false names and documents. Mrs. Sendler claims that no one ever refused to take a child from her. But children often had to be relocated several times. She recalls carrying a little boy from one guardian family to the next, as he sobbed, "How many mothers can a person have? This is my third!"

The smuggling did not always go as planned. Fourteen-year-old Renada Zajdman was smuggled out, but then became separated from her rescuer. She survived on her own in warehouses for several months, until she was reconnected with members of Zegota.

The Church was actively involved in much of Mrs. Sendler's work. However, she stresses that the goal was not to convert people to Catholicism, but rather to save lives. Each family had to promise to return the children to any surviving family members after the war. Unfortunately, this promise was not always kept. Mrs. Sendler spent years after the war, with the help of her lists, trying to track down missing children and reconnect family members.

Of the remaining orphans, some 400 were taken to Israel with Adolph Berman, a leader in Zegota. Many others chose to stay with their adopted parents. Despite Mrs. Sendler's efforts to trace them, some 400 to 500 children are still missing; presumably they either did not survive or they are living somewhere in Poland or elsewhere, perhaps unaware of their Jewish identity.


For two years, Jolanta's covert operations were successful. Then, in October 20, 1943, the Gestapo caught up with her. She was arrested, imprisoned in Warsaw's notorious Pawiak prison, and tortured. Her feet and legs were broken. She still needs crutches and a wheelchair as a result of those injuries, and still carries the scars of those beatings. She refused to betray any of her co-conspirators or to reveal the whereabouts of any of the children.

Jolanta was sentenced to death by firing squad, a sentence that she accepted with pride. But unbeknown to her, Zegota had bribed one of the German guards, who helped her to escape at the last moment. He recorded her name on the list of those who had been executed. On the following day, the Germans loudly proclaimed the news of her death. She saw posters all over the city reporting it. The Gestapo eventually found out what had happened; they sent the guard to fight on the Russian front, a sentence they felt was worse than death. Irena spent the rest of the war in hiding much like the children she had saved. Relentlessly pursued by the Gestapo, she continued her rescue efforts in any way she could, but by then the Warsaw Ghetto had been liquidated.

Due to the Communist regime's suppression of history and its anti-Semitism, few Poles were aware of Zegota's work, despite the unveiling of a plaque honoring the organization, in 1995, near the former Warsaw Ghetto. Mrs. Sendler continued her life, simply and quietly, continuing to work as a social worker ... until the discovery by the Kansas teenagers catapulted her into the public arena.

Irena Sendler was awarded the Order of White Eagle, Poland's highest distinction, in Warsaw, in 2003. This year, she was nominated to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. At a special session in Poland's upper house of Parliament, President Lech Kaczynski announced the unanimous resolution to honor Mrs. Sendler for rescuing "the most defenseless victims of the Nazi ideology: the Jewish children." He referred to her as a "great heroine who can be justly named for the Nobel Peace Prize. She deserves great respect from our whole nation."

Today's Warsaw still bears testimony to Mrs. Sendler's lifesaving work. The corner store where children were hidden in the basement and the apple tree where the names of the children where buried still stand, all within sight of the German army barracks. Although the children had known her only as Jolanta, as her story became publicized, she began to receive calls from people who recognized her face from the photos: "I remember your face! You took me out of the Ghetto!"

In an interview earlier this year with ABC News, Mrs. Sendler voiced some of her frustrations about how little anything has changed in the world: "After the Second World War it seemed that humanity understood something, and that nothing like that would happen again," Sendler said. "Humanity has understood nothing. Religious, tribal, national wars continue. The world continues to be in a sea of blood." But she added, "The world can be better, if there's love, tolerance, and humility."

I got this in an email and did a bit of Googling. This article originally appeared in a Jewish Family Weekly. There is no direct link to the article on their site. They did have a service that would email .pdf's of past articles, and there is a page for this article, but the service is discontinued. This article is all over the internet already. So, I'm not sure how Fair Use applies here - I did provide a link to the magazine, but since there is no online record of this article on their site, plus since there are a bunch more sites that have the complete article, I'll gamble and let y'all read the whole thing.

1911 Assembly

I thought this was just too kewl for skewl. But, I'm easily amused.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Holy Crap

Letterman was a repeat tonight. I'd seen most of the show, but I must have been out of the room or staring at the inside of my eyelids when Jack Hanna brought out a Monicle- Cobra.

Hey, I'd have been trying to get away from this snake right there with Letterman. Brrrrrr.

Lunatic Fringe

Red Rider really doesn't qualify as a one hit wonder - they had a couple songs featured on Miami Vice that helped record sales. They never did hit it big here in the States. Tom Cochrane, the lead singer, may be better know for Life Is a Highway anyways. If you are a fan of Cars (the movie), you might remember Rascal Flats' version.

At any rate, I did know who Tom Cochrane is before looking up all this info, but not a lot more. I just think the song sounds cool, and it makes me crank up the radio when I hear it!

Saturday, March 01, 2008


Well, I'm scheduled for surgery next Tuesday. A carpal tunnel procedure for the left wrist,and a procedure to relieve my ulnar nerve in my left elbow. Don't ask me how my heart surgery affected my wrists and elbow. None of the experts have given me any sort of explanation.

This surgery will take place if I can get shed of a persistent case of possible gastroenteritis. I seem to have the symptoms at any rate. Since last Sunday. I did see my doctor's PA Tuesday for a presurgery consult, but at that time, I didn't know what it was. Sunday breakfast was pancakes with sugar free syrup. I assumed I had used too much of the syrup. It says right on the label "Excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect." No, really? They are never clear on what is considered excessive. There seems to be no gradual effect - eating three pieces of candy might not bother me, but four turns me into a slave to Mr. Toilet. The usual OTC solutions weren't working.

When I started worshiping the porcelain god, and belching up the fumes from hell - well, that sort of gave me a clue it wasn't just "excessive consumption." I've lost over ten pounds. I do not recommend this as a diet. Today life is better. Not as many trips to the can, man. I've even gotten slightly rehydrated. Curiously, I have not run a temperature. I've got to go in for some more blood tests Monday, so I will be at the doctor's office and can postpone the procedure. Somehow, I can't see them thrilled to have me as a candidate for surgery if things haven't improved.

We'll see.