January 20, 2006

Questioning the Data

According to this article in CNN, a study cites that "More than half of students at four-year colleges -- and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges -- lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers"

Wow, we're in for a world of hurt if that's true. Later...
Almost 20 percent of students pursuing four-year degrees had only basic quantitative skills. For example, the students could not estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the service station. About 30 percent of two-year students had only basic math skills.
How about this - if it's close to E at all, find the nearest service station and fill up. If you're really that dumb, you won't even find the need to compare gas prices. Rocket science, no?

At the end of the article: "On campus, the tests were given in 2003 to a representative sample of 1,827 students at public and private schools." How about the more likely explanation - the 1827 students didn't give a rat's ass about this test.

The issue here isn't college. If these things are TRULY menacing problems, the problem is lack of a solid high school education. Everybody's got a weak spot (I had some stock do a 3 for 2 split, and the math for that wasn't immediate for even software developer me), but, really, people, I'm more likely to believe test takers didn't care/weren't applying themselves than I am to worry about college grads not being able to function in society.


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September 03, 2005

The American Media - Perfecting the Whine

I've kept a very close watch on the hurricane Katrina coverage - probably like much of America. It's mostly been via - easy to hit any time of day and catch up to what's going on. Frankly, though, once the immediate hurricane peril passed, I moved from worried to disgusted.

CNN does one of three things with its stories up until today (when finally it tells us how to help). Here's what they are:

1) Airs stories about how much worse things are getting. (Chicken Little syndrome)
2) Prints stories about how the relief effort isn't good enough/criticizes the federal government.
3) Shows pictures of suffering people in private moments with emotionless taglines. I don't have one handy, but you probably know what I mean: "Watch so and so weep at the loss of his wife of blah blah blah"

What's out there today? "Democrats want disaster answers." What, do they think that the Bush administration has a direct line to God? You want guaranteed safety along the coasts? Don't live there. There you go. Completely not feasibly, but guaranteeable.

Then there are the black leaders yapping about poor response to the crisis. This IS a horrible tragedy. It's brought out the best and worst in people - the best being the outpouring of support and the worst being the miscreant lawless individuals looting and burning New Orleans. And, as I predicted, the best and worst have been synchronous in their occurrence. Hey, black leaders, what's your position - you think the federal government saw what was happening, said "oh, it's just poor black people, let's play another six rounds of canasta?" Idiots. Quit your yapping, open your pocketbooks or roll up your shirtsleeves (if you're down there), and do something. Remember the HURRICANE that caused the problem? Yeah, you think it might be impeding logistical scenarios of getting food and water to suffering people. Wow, that might just be occurring. Of course, if the refugees were mostly white, then the flood waters would miraculously subside, and help would have arrived Monday evening. RIIIIIGHT...

I'm disheartened about the lack of stories of all of the people who've survived and still have each other. I have a client who's based in New Orleans. She's in Baton Rouge (with just about everybody else, she said - the city's overrun) and has probably lost everything. Her son's in the National Guard helping at Flood Zero. And other than being a bit depressed that she's likely not got a home anymore, she's in pretty good sprits and recognizes it could be much, much worse.

And you know what, the response to something like this is NEVER going to be good enough. It's the fact that we're fallible human beings, and that certainly isn't going to change. Kudos to everyone who's doing what they can to help.

Human suffering sucks. It feels like we can't ever send enough money or pray enough. But with human spirit there's always hope. Thank you to Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Great Britain, and all of the other countries who are helping.


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June 30, 2005

More Praxair Panic

Leave it to the Post-Dispatch to point at the ground, yell "ASBESTOS!," and have its morning story.

That was yesterday, and I didn't even bother to read it. I'd imagine a whole lot of other folks didn't read it either but caught the headline, some of those people started to worry. If you firebombed my house (please don't), you'd have a similar pile of asbestos from our previous siding. So perhaps all of our neighbors should move away due to the risk.

I'd also like to note that asbestos on the house != (does not equal, for you non-geeks) asbestos in the air. So, asbestos on the ground != asbestos in the air. What's a safe amount of asbestos in the air?
The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that if a person breathed one fiber of asbestos per cubic foot of air for his entire lifetime, his risk of developing cancer would increase by no more than a 1 in 100,000 chance.
But today, hey, here's the headline. At least it tells me the story I need to know, "Praxair finds no asbestos in air."

Now, lest you think I don't want to fault the company with anything, if discovery finds that Praxair employees were being foolish or lacksidasical on the job, I'll be one of the loudest critics. But what needs to be emphasized with every stinking news article is that the company followed proper disaster procedures. And it obviously had good ones in place.

Back to the issue at hand:

Test results released by industrial gas company Praxair found no asbestos in the air around the historic homes in the St. Louis neighborhood, company officials said late Wednesday afternoon.

The city's director of public safety Sam Simon said he had not yet seen the reports, and would wait until he had confirmation from the state. If the reports are true, that's good - "real good," Simon said.

Praxair sent workers into the neighborhood Tuesday night to remove 20 to 30 chunks of exploded gas tanks from streets, driveways and yards, said company president Wayne Yakich.
The state will do its testing of the air today.


Posted by hln at 05:41 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2005

Hear No Evil, See No Evil...

Last week, there was an explosion at a plant in St. Louis. It was spectacular enough to make national news, yet the plant followed its internal procedures for the event of a disaster, and no one was seriously injured. No one was killed.

The company's name is Praxair. It can be easily found on the web by typing "Praxair" into Google. Voila.

Why is this relevant? Oh, it's that Post-Dispatch again carrying the "plight of da people."

Residents in Lafayette Square learned the truth about one of their neighbors Friday, when a chain of explosions and a giant fireball launched metal canisters into their neighborhood.
Why is "the truth" put in that paragraph? Its as if sinister Praxair had tried to obfuscate its business practices. Hardly. See website.

Leaders of the historic area say they had no idea that Praxair Inc., a gas distribution company, was handling flammable gases. Furthermore, they say such a facility should not operate in a residential area and are demanding that it relocate.
St. Louis has quite a bit of industry. Though I don't have the history of the area, I'm sure I could consult my mother and my uncle and learn that the industry predated the people. Perhaps I shall. Again, I'd like to point out that there were no deaths at the plant, and no serious injuries. If you have to have a disaster...

The truth. Remember, the residents learned "the truth." That needs a sound effect. I think that one that goes with the Magic Eight Ball Easter Egg in MS Access works great. The truth. Bohm! (I'll see if I can find the .wav).

I should disclose in the interest of non-journalism that Praxair uses one of my software products (not local Praxair, but a facility shipping these gases internationally). So I was aware of its gas-handling practices. <sarcasm>I KNEW THE TRUTH</sarcasm>.

By the way, did you see the note on the website at Praxair? "Update: Monday, June 27, 2005 -- The following updates previous statements on the fire at the Praxair Distribution facility in St. Louis. Employees at the Praxair Distribution facility in St. Louis expect to make 100% of their customer deliveries today. "


Posted by hln at 05:34 AM | Comments (3)

June 26, 2005

Proposed Flag Burning Amendment

In light of the proposed Flag Burning Amendment (hello, Congress? Don't you have anything better to do?), I'd like to remind you of all of the thngs that can still be done to desecrate the flag and raise ire:

  1. Cut it into the shape of a beach towel and head to Florida to give it a spin.
  2. Paint parts of it the color of your favorite football team and fly it on Sundays.
  3. Sulfuric acid? (It's not fire)
  4. Hang it upside down
  5. Cut a big hole out of the middle. Instant poncho!
Or can you? From CNN: "The proposed one-line amendment to the Constitution reads, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

Perhaps "Flag Burning" has been attached to this too soon. I'd be careful wearing red, white, and blue together if this thing passes. You might be considered a desecrator. Or perhaps Congress will need to pass an amendment to define "desecration."

Desecration: blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character;

Like what this amendment would symbolically do to free speech?

Yeah, that.


Posted by hln at 07:17 AM | Comments (1)

March 12, 2005

I've Got a Principle for You

Bill McClellan of Post-Dispatch, er, employment spends a whole column talking about Harry Stonecipher (you know, former CEO of Boeing) and the 3 Principles. If that doesn't sound like a book title, what does?

The principles? Women are smarter than men. Bosses are overpaid. And don't e-mail. He's kind enough to state this for us in paragraph two, the one that wraps around his photo because of the P-D's output software.

Here, Billy, I've got one for you. It's awfully novel, and you couldn't write about it because it would, gasp, pass judgment, and we all know you wouldn't dare do that to an individual. Here it is. Are you ready?

Don't cheat on your spouse.

There, now, really. Is that so hard? Or did you just have nothing to write about that day? Perhaps about Wednesday next week we'll hear about Brian Nichols' traumatic childhood and Judge Barnes' tendency to scowl at the homeless on Thursdays.


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January 23, 2005

Who ARE these people?

I haven't felt the blogging urge at the expense of other things during my free time in, oh, a while. But here I am - spurred on by a headline.

Survey: Users Confuse Search Results, Ads

NEW YORK - Only 1 in 6 users of Internet search engines can tell the difference between unbiased search results and paid advertisements, a new survey finds.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project reported Sunday that adults online in the United States are generally naive when it comes to how search engines work.

The major search engines all return a mix of regular results, based solely on relevance to the search terms entered, and sponsored links, for which a Web site had paid money to get displayed more prominently.

Google Inc. marks such ads as "sponsored links," Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) terms them "sponsor results" and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN uses "sponsored sites." Such ads are placed to the right and on top of the regular search results, in some cases highlighted in a different color.

But only 38 percent of Web searchers even know of the distinction, and of those, not even half — 47 percent — say they can always tell which are paid. That comes out to only 18 percent of all Web searchers knowing when a link is paid.
18%. Okay, the other 82% of you - get off the Internet.

Perhaps that's a bit hasty given the last paragraph, which states that only 1399 of the 2200 people surveyed were Internet users. But, still! This stuff isn't difficult. I wonder how these people would respond if asked "is everything you read on the Internet true?"

Or if these are the same people (advertising writers, perhaps) who push my pet peeve with words like "Log on to <insert website here>." Uh, you're only logging on if you've registered a username and a password, people. Otherwise you're just VISITING.

Whoa. Volatile. This blogging stuff probably isn't too good for already stressed-out Type-A sorta folks. I'll be back later.


Posted by hln at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2004

For Your Convenience

Tomorrow is September 11, 2004. That date is three years after the vicious, senseless, brutal attacks on American soil (and I know some poor sot is going to write that they weren't senseless to the terrorists - and I don't want to hear it, so I'll cut you off now).

The attacks were on September 11th. Not your friendly, easy-to-say "Nine Eleven." That moniker irritates me more than I can state in a short rant I'm penning between work items. Let it be known that I find "Nine Eleven" is way too familiar and offhanded. It sounds too close to "Seven Eleven" - yes, the convenience store. The term is warm and fuzzy, offhanded. It's coined for ease of use. And it - though little else does - it offends me. A nickname for the worst attack in American history.

I'd imagine I'm not the only one. Give the day its proper bearing - at least call it September 11th. And say it slowly. Yes, those extra syllables may be taxing - especially to the media - but they're worth it.


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August 01, 2004


Most of this entry will be in the extended section. If you plan to see the Bourne Supremacy or read the Bourne Legacy, you'd probably best skip this entry. I can't drag myself to see The Bourne Supremacy. I've seen the previews. The movie looks good. It looks good, that is, if you're not a big Ludlum fan, and if you haven't read the books in the Bourne series.

I did see The Bourne Identity, and I was very irritated with the shallow plot. I realize it was nearly impossible to portray the details of the book (which are what make it such a good books), but the plot suffered horribly from the lack of inclusion of the man searching for his identity, being horrified when learning the pieces, and then in the end not being that person at all. Matt Damon is not my Jason Bourne, as my mother says. Hello - book's premise is also based on Vietnam. I didn't see any jungle.

So the previews for The Bourne Supremacy don't do much for me. I'm expecting Marie to be kidnapped, y'know, and maybe an assassin pretending to be Jason Bourne. I'm expecting some reference to Carlos, but I'm sure there'll be none of that. I certainly didn't see anything that looked like Hong Kong in those previews. I hope the writers have to wash themselves twice every night.

Also this year, Eric Van Lustbader revived the Bourne character in print. If you've never read one of Ludlum's Bourne novels, then this new book was excellent. If you have, though, you might find yourself scratching your head one too many times for book bliss.

There's no real distinction between David Webb and Jason Bourne. In this book, The Bourne Legacy, Jason Bourne has FEELINGS. And there's no real conflict between the two personalities. Huh? Where'd that come from? I promise it was bizarre. It's as if Lustbader hadn't bothered to re-read the trilogy when he penned this piece. Who is this person? He, also, is not my Jason Bourne...and probably not yours, either. I miss Robert Ludlum, who probably wouldn't have written another Bourne book. David Webb/Jason Bourne were getting a bit old in The Bourne Ultimatum. But that, too, is glossed over.


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May 13, 2004

Arch Madness, a Nutrition Rant

Everybody knows about "Super Size Me", which is out in theaters now. I'll Netflix that someday, so a review will have to wait. Coming soon, though, will be another film from Soso Whaley who also spent 30 days dining exclusively at McDonald's. And guess what? She dropped 7 pounds in the first 15 days.

Anyone shocked? Not me - it all goes back to the choice factor. Morgan Spurlock, the Super Sized One, gained 25 pounds. Can you gain 25 pounds at home in a month? Sure. It's hard work to take in nearly 3500 extra calories a day, but it can be done. I think good soda and beer infusions would help. Lots of cake, lasagna, turnovers, pork steak, bratwurst, and fried chicken would give you a good boost. Full-fat cheese, bacon. Oh, and don't leave your chair.

(My source on the second film is old - meant to blog this a couple of weeks ago).

We are human beings, capable of many amazing things. We make many choices in our daily lives. What we eat and how much of it shouldn't be all that difficult, especially when something as objective as weight gain surfaces. We all do have to eat. Food is not tobacco, and I scorn the people who try to lump them together.

Somehow I manage to avoid the McDonald's across the way from work and the one right by the gym about 364 days out of the year. On that 365th day or so, I usually eat a medium fry, grilled chicken sandwich with no mayo, and drink either water or lemonade. This is 450 - 650 calories, depending on what I'm drinking and how much BBQ sauce I put on my fries.

I found an article on from last Friday that set me off. Most of the article is about the issue as a whole, including proposed legislation to block silly lawsuits. But what's the title? Advocate: Lawsuits viable obesity weapon. What do you think CNN thinks?

Yes, people are fat. Whose fault is that? In most cases (yes, Heather is making a few exceptions for medical anomalies), it's the individual's fault. While I agree with the end of raising awareness and bringing about more healthy alternatives, the lawsuit means are not acceptable. No one forces you to visit a restaurant, and no one forces you to order off of a restaurant's menu if it doesn't contain healthy food. And that's the heart of this - we have free will. It's not irresponsibility of the food industry for giving consumers what they want. The responsibility lies with the individual. You, potential sue-r, you're a freaking sheep! Baaaa!

"Trial lawyers and (state) attorneys general can be extremely helpful," said Michael Jacobson, head of the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest, by "filing innovative suits" that prompt foodmakers to produce healthier foods.

CSPI is behaving like PETA here. The end does not justify the means. So put your clothes back on and get out of the cage, Jacobson. (That'd work better if he were female).


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April 06, 2004

Passion Misses a Fact


I'll bet you've seen that or something like it before. This is a card I got today from Grace Church, a local non-denominational entity that's so large it requires or employs police officers to direct traffic on Sunday mornings. I'm not denigrating it; I'm just calling it like it is.

You see that nail? That ain't where it goes.

I've long been fascinated by the Shroud of Turin - probably since early high school. I became somewhat fascinated by Christ's crucifixion and crucifixion in general, as odd as that may sound. I read bits of all sorts of books - those who believed it (the Shroud) to be genuine and those who dubbed it a fake.

But back to the nail. Today's lesson involves the Space of Destot. Now, I've not seen The Passion of Christ, and, truthfully, don't feel (or think) I need to. So, someone will have to clue me in if Mel Gibson and his moviemaking crew got this detail right.

The Space of Destot is described as "an unsuspected gap in the wrist" - not the hand. Quoting from the 1984 book The Turin Shroud Is Genuine, page 76:
Considering the nail wound in the wrist first, Vignon had presumed that nails in the palms would not support a body on a plain cross. Barbet proved it using a dead body. Vignon pointed out that the nail had apparently been driven through the wrist, and realised that this would have given sufficient strength to hold the body. Barbet actually drove a nail through the wrist of an amputated arm. The wrist is a mass of bones, and it was not until he placed the nail against it, and struck hard with the hammer, that the nail forced its way through an unsuspected gap called 'The Space of Destot'. As the nail went through, it penetratd or displacd the long tendon coming from the forearm that flexes the thumb, which was drawn across the palm.
For further information about the Space of Destot, I send you here, here, and here. (I love this web thing - I didn't have any of this available as a young lass of 14 or so).

I'm somewhat bothered that the church doesn't know this. For some silly reason, I feel that all of the knowledge in my head is common knowledge, but of course that is not true.

Just one more crucifixion tidbit - tidbit being a horribly misplaced word for such a gruesome and terrible way to die. Those crucified do not die from bleeding to death - they die from asphyxiation - the inability to breathe. They suffocate. The Gospel of St. John mentions in 19:32 - 33:
Then came the soliders, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs.
If a man is struggling to breathe on a cross, he's likely pushing upward with his nailed feet. This is no longer possible with broken legs. Presumably, the crucifixion of the thieves had lost its spectacle appeal after some time.

While two days before Maundy Thursday might be a compelling time for a church to recruit new members, it ought to package a bit of substance with its marketing.


Posted by hln at 07:02 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

Shopper Scorned

Forgive me, readers, for I must rant.

The pork chops I meal-planned (verb, indeed) for dinner this evening were rotten. I lashed out at the grocery store...and removed them from consideration for my business for the next month. As I have done before. What I said:

Today is February 4, 2004. This is just another day, but it is also the day my household is slated to eat pork chops and green beans. For, you see, I purchased said items last weekend at your Maryland Heights store, and the pork chops, as you can see, clearly state "Sell by 2/4/04." Today is 2/4/04. The pork chops were properly refrigerated for the duration of their stay in my home.


Sell By, I have learned but obviously am a bad customer for I have not fully taken to heart, really means "ingest a few days before, preferably two at least." Your store has coined its own meaty euphemism, and, frankly, I'm quite tired of it.

No pork chops for my family this evening. These are rancid enough that your meat packaging department should have known better. One whiff, and I traded cellopane removal for photograph procurement. This has happened often enough and with a wide enough variety of meats (though primarily pork and chicken) that you have lost our business for the following month. It's happened before, and perhaps this time I'll not return. Your "Pride of the Farm" is now my "Pride of the Trash Can." Your $5.19 sticker price - unearned.

Am I angry? Yes, I'm angry. This has happened at three of your stores in the St. Louis area, multiple occasions. When I moved here almost 6 years ago, I lived near the Ladue Crossings store. Twice I tried to cook meat on the "Sell by" date. Bad idea, Customer. It occurred with chicken from your Breckenridge Ridge store, and I never returned. I live near the Dorsett and McKelvey store now, and have done 80% of my shopping at that store since my move to Maryland Heights almost 4 years ago. My average in weekly grocery expenditure is $150. In my former month boycott, you lost approximately $600 of my money. Small (but hopefully not rotten) potatoes, I'm sure.

When I was in graduate school in Columbia in the mid 90's, Schucks was the QUALITY store in town. Things change; Dierberg's is already making the cha-ching noise.

A former customer,

Heather Noggle
[address removed]

Posted by hln at 08:24 PM | Comments (8)

January 01, 2004

Leave it to New York

Hey - Happy New Year. Welcome to 2004's first rant.

And this is a rant. New York - the state this time - in time for this joyous New Year has decided to regulate carelessness. No, really, it did. I promise. And it feels good about itself.

    ALBANY, N.Y. - To prevent house fires set by careless smokers, New York state has adopted the nation's first rules mandating that cigarettes sold in the state must be rolled with lower-ignition paper.

    The so-called "fire-safe" cigarettes will extinguish by themselves if not puffed on, and advocates say they will prevent many of the fires now triggered by smokers who leave cigarettes unattended.
I love it - "fire-safe" cigarettes. I'm not a smoker, so perhaps I misunderstand the meaning there. Aren't cigarettes tobacco in a nice/friendly hand-holdable form intended for personal burning. Don't humans light those things on fire? Perhaps I'm missing something.

And that's just a slight eye-rolling statement. Next, there's this:
    "This could be the beginning of a global standard for cigarettes," said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group. "If New York goes ahead, it will drive a national debate because tobacco companies are not going to make one set of cigarettes for New York and one for the rest of the U.S. And if the U.S. sets standards, those will be standards for the entire globe."
What a gargantuan victory! We have yet again outsmarted Darwin. The crowd hoorays! New York, you paragon of forerunning; you visionary!

    Every year approximately 900 Americans die, 2,500 are injured and $400 million in damage is caused by fires started by cigarettes, according to the American Burn Association and the federal government.

    The lower-ignition paper does nothing to reduce the toxicity of cigarettes to smokers or to reduce the health effects of smoking.
Wow - I'm certain we all would never have slept a wink last night if we knew that. And I especially love the little "disclaimer" that apparently tells those of us who list ourselves among the clueless that, hey, moron, "safer cigarette" doesn't mean "safer CIGARETTE."

You know - I have an idea. New York - why don't you just ban the damned things altogether. Next year on New Year's Eve? Okay. If you're gonna meddle in your shopkeepers' lives and tell them what they can and cannot sell, might as well REALLY regulate, no?

I'm only have joking. I'm only half serious. I suppose I should be glad that the news today is this absolutely inane. (You're not even reading anymore, are you?) Brian opened the newspaper this morning and noted the cover story. I gave him a blank look, like, so what? He said yes, nothing blew up.

Good point.


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December 19, 2003

Suggestion Deception, What's Your Question?

Is suggestion deception?

Apparently so.

    MINNEAPOLIS - One of the state's most influential medical groups has joined the fray in saying officials should change language on the state Department of Health's Web site suggesting abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.

    In a letter obtained by the Star Tribune dated Dec. 9, Dr. Robert Meiches, head of the Minnesota Medical Association, said the site's language — while not exactly inaccurate — is misleading and confusing to women.

    The breast cancer language has generated controversy since it was first posted in September, because critics say it's designed to frighten women considering abortion.
Not inaccurate but misleading. How? Intent. And, please, tell me, a scholar of communication, how to scientifically ascribe intent to another human being or group of human beings. Together, we can publish one hell of a paper. You have a motive guess that may or may not be wrong. Hey, look, I twisted that sentence. Someone chide me for my journalistic bad behavior.

And back to the case at hand. Hey, abortion kills fetuses - whom some of us see as human beings! Would that not dissuade some pregnant lady folk who might be considering ridding themselves of what Ani DiFranco lyricizes "the son or daughter I thought better of." I'll bet it does. Does the word "kill" elicit fear? PETA certainly hopes so.

But here's the paragraph that flipped the switch on the Blog About flag to. 1. Here's the big, nasty, horrifying offensive language.

    The Web site, as well as a Health Department pamphlet, state that some studies suggest that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, while other studies suggest no increased risk. That contradicts the conclusions of the nation's leading medical institutions, including the National Cancer Institute (news - web sites), which found earlier this year that there is no evidence of an increased risk.

    "It is deliberately deceptive," said Dr. Janette Strathy, legislative director of the Minnesota branch of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "It oversimplifies a very complex situation with the goal of frightening the patient."
Let me repeat: "The Web site, as well as a Health Department pamphlet, state that some studies suggest that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer, while other studies suggest no increased risk."

What's the complex situation? I'm lost.

Oh, and, hey, wait - we're Americans. We're too stupid to realize that medical studies might contradict each other and make up our own minds. "Suggest" means "Is." We can't read that sentence and conclude that there's conflicting evidence. You know what - a woman who never has children incurs increased risk for breast cancer. Quick, women, conceive! Hey, honey, do we have plans for this evening? I really ought to reduce my risk for breast cancer, no? I mean, it is my top priority, and reading that something might put me at risk puts me into immediate tizzy irrational panic! Aargh! What a euphemism that is anyway - reducing the risk of breast cancer.

[Reader: note change from Health category to RANT]

Interestingly, I side with the NCI on this one. If it says no increased risk, probably no increased risk. But goodness - quit the freak-out. Anybody disagree that further studies on breast cancer and all/any of its possible causes is a bad thing? Oh, the controversy of this complex issue. Let us plaster all of the newspapers with this horrible miseducation of our nation's women.


Posted by hln at 01:07 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 01, 2003

Put This Man Out of a Job

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Baptist minister whose fall from grace began with a fire his wife set at a home he had secretly bought with his mistress will walk out of prison on Sunday and head directly to the pulpit.
No. No no no no no.

Would you take spiritual guidance from THIS man? (I haven't even gotten to the rest of his wrongdoings. It gets worse.)

The answer, most seriously, is no way. I don't remember ever writing about Christianity, my beliefs. Perhaps now is the time.

I have exactly 10 minutes, so I'll not be able to do an insightful Michael Williams-style post complete with scripture passages, but I think I'll amble along just fine with the points I intend to make.

Ministers - members of the clergy - undergo rigorous instruction in the faith. I can't speak for the Baptist denomination, but Lutheran ministers who study in the seminary learn to read Hebrew to more fully understand the Bible in its original language/context. Those of us who are familiar with Christianity and its teachings know and can recite the ten commandmants. Armed with that alone, this man knew better.

He knew - or should have known - that there are consequences for actions. For him, indeed, the consequences were great regardless of whether or not he was ever "caught."

The bible speaks that we are lost souls without God. I've always interpreted that to mean that God, through Jesus, has saved us. That we still have the responsibility to ourselves and to God to try to lead the best possible life, and through parables and teachings, the actions of Jesus, we are given the path. The man who "stands around" and "waits" for spiritual guidance is nothing more than a sheep who will never find his shepherd, not truly believing that he has been given the tools he needs to live an as-virtuous-as-possible life.

Back to this man. Sexual sins by the clergy are reprehensible. I never commented on the Catholic debacle, and this will suffice to say I'll not do so again, but the theme ties here. The actions of leaders, who are given power and authority IN THE NAME OF GOD, must be beyond reproach. Especially in this world where so many dismiss Christianity due to the scandals and corruption. How can we expect those who don't believe - especially rational adults - to look past the messes made by people and find God when their own husbands, wives, and children may be nothing more than eventual prey?

Now, am I qualified to judge? No, not really. I am also not a spiritual leader, and though God may see a sin as a sin, societally, we know different.

And, societally, we judge and decide what we believe. I tell you this man is an obvious disservice to Christianity.

Now, that being said, I'll give you some more meat from the article
    Lyons will have completed his prison sentence on grand theft and racketeering charges, but will remain on probation for the next three years on federal charges of including bank fraud and tax evasion. He also owes $2.5 million in restitution.

    Wildly popular and charismatic, Lyons was at the height of his power as pastor of Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church and president of the National Baptist Convention 1997, when Deborah Lyons set fire to the house.

    The resulting investigation unmasked Lyons' use of his leadership role at the convention to access millions of dollars to finance his lavish lifestyle. Officials estimate that Lyons took about $4 million to buy luxury residences, jewelry and support his mistresses.
I believe I am finished.


Posted by hln at 07:35 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 25, 2003

Grumble Clothes Shopping Grumble

If you were to ask me the downside of being female, I would give you an immediate answer. It's shopping for clothing.

Rant warning in effect. Semi-long post.

Oh, yes. I lamented last evening about about being a member of the physically weaker sex. That's okay - I just need to be stronger than the rest of the women in the gym, or at least most of 'em, and that's not really too much of an issue. But this clothes shopping thing has many dimensions to it. If you're male, you may appreciate your significant other's or sister's perspective to it all. Or, maybe I'm just so far afield of "normal" human females that everyone will leave scratching their heads.

I have this instant business trip that came pretty much out of a known but long-ago-dismissed nowhere. Work clothing for me is usually jeans and a nice shirt, but this will be business casual. I don't have much by way of business casual clothing, and I've been looking to more often wear some nicer things, so it's time for some new dress pants.

The first issue here is sizing. Sizing seems to be such a bigger deal with women than it is with men. We have two distinct problems here. One - HIPS. Hello - those are always different, no? And then there's the top half problem - breasts. Major variance. To contrast, when I shop with Brian, I know he's a 33 - 30 or a 34 - 30. Easy!

Those are the obvious things. The non-obvious things are - am I poochy today in the belly (you know - ate in restaurants the past two days, so things aren't as taut as normal) - What time of the month is it? Am I carrying water weight? These affect fit within a size more than size, but you still have to figure this all through. The sizing algorithm, when applied, will tell the woman whether it's all right to buy that slightly-too-tight miniskirt.

I ended up buying two pairs of size 10 pants and one pair of size 8 pants, so that sounds consistent, no? Heather's a 10. Au contraire, for, you see, I had in my hands at various times size 12s, size 10s, and size 8s. Because womankind, myself included, likes to wear the smallest size it can fit moderately comfortably into, when I saw that the 10s would work on the whole, I didn't even bother with the 12s. The 8s were a mystery, though. It was like, uh, did the printer goof the sizing chart? I believe the 8s are the loosest of the three. Boggle.

And then there were the skirts, and these were a pain. I prefer skirts, but they have to be either short or ankle weight because otherwise my legs look like, uh, I lift a lot of weight with them - I have some pretty full calves. Calf-length skirts are good for women who would like their calves to look more shapely. Not I, says Heather. I took a bevy of skirts back to the fitting room - 10s and 12s. The 10s were too big. I mean, tooooo big. So I found a collection of 8s. Yeah, you guessed it - buttoned and were comfortable, but they were too tight to actually look good. So, no skirts. If I NEEDED a skirt, I could've gone somewhere else, but, well, who NEEDS skirts when pants will do.

And, the final point - the most irritating of the three. OTHER WOMEN! IN FITTING ROOMS! Catty whiny female voices wafting over the fitting room stalls. I heard the word "cute" in so many connotations today I wanted to cleanse myself. "That's cute, but it doesn't fit me right." "That's so CUTE!" What is cute, ladies? What does it mean? I can't abide by "cute" for my body. It needs to be professional or sexy or functional. Not cute. And the whining. I realize some people just whine - that's all they do, their only vocal inflection. This one woman whined about every cute piece of clothing her mother or daughter (not sure which she was) brought her. Ugh.

And then the fitting rooms themselves. Because this is Saturday, the fitting rooms were fairly full. I found myself in one on the end whose door wouldn't quite close. I was changing into a skirt when another woman, whose brain must've been trapped in Kohl's shopping oblivion, backs into my little room area. She proceeds to get ready to hang up her things. Just because you THINK someone's not in the little room doesn't make it so, sugarpie. She seemed quite startled when I said, "hello." My natural reaction (curbed, of course) was to say, "Yes?" It happened again, and then I got smart and put my shoes to where they could be seen under the door.

So I'm home. I have pants. It's over. So, men, when your ladies come home exhausted, realize that a lot of that is mental. Too much estrogen in the fitting room. And "sizes" aren't sizes.


Posted by hln at 01:42 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

September 24, 2003

SBC - YOUR Telephone Company

SBC is frenetically advertising DSL DSL DSL, Yahoo DSL everywhere I look. Brian and I tried to get DSL 3 1/2 years ago when we moved into this house. I can't remember what they told us except "yes" initially and "no" when we complained it wouldn't hold a connection and they sent someone out to take a look.

I don't remember the why behind the no. So we looked into cable. At that time, this area was serviced by St. Louis' secondary cable company (which was later bought by Charter, about 2 years ago), and it did not offer cable Internet service. So, we were pretty much outta luck, this being early 2000. We got a 2nd phone line so that we can both do work/play online at once. Yes, sometimes we IM each other from different parts of the house. I digress.

Time passes. Dial-up SUFFICES, but we both get into this blog thing. As you probably know, sometimes it's a go-down-the-blogroll festival of link opening into new windows. This takes forever to load in 56k (which is a farce - I connect at 23.6 usually). You can read Meryl giving it a good gripe since she was blogging away from home due to Isabel. I keep thinking, "honey, you have NO idea."

Back on track. One of these SBC Yahoo advertisements made its way into our home, and it planted that little advertising seed, you know, like it's aiming to do. So we called, or submitted it on the Internet - I'm not sure which came first. They call us back, leave a muffled message on our answering machine. I call the next day - Thursday or Friday of last week, and I spend 30 minutes on the phone with smarmysalesrep, who says, "Yes, ma'am, Ms. Noogle (note the two Os - bad bad), we can get that for you. I don't know WHAT they were talking about." He signs me up. Our nifty modem came in a box Monday with the go-live date of, um, tomorrow. I accidentally attributed the wrong phone number to the order, so Brian calls on Monday and clears that up.

Yesterday, I receive a call from the contractor who would be doing any necessary beforehand work to ensure this'll work. He has some bad news. That phone line isn't copper; rather, it's fiber optic, and that's a "no can do" with DSL. He's trying to hook that to the original number, though, and so ever-hopeful Heather says, "No, wait, that's the WRONG phone number. Try this one" and gives him the new. He calls me back today - same deal.

To do DSL with this kind of set-up, the technician informs me, requires some sort of remote station. And, that's slated to happen, oh, about 2005.

Okay, people. This the year 2003. Our technology is amazing. AMAZING. Look at new computers today - mine's so ancient (almost 3 years now) that I have no idea what's out there. And, seeing that mine's perfectly functional, even for a session of Asheron's Call or two, it'll be, oh, a few months before I seriously look at upgrading some of the pieces. My point, though, is LOOK AT THE ADVANCES IN THREE YEARS. I know they're there. Some of the servers at work have a GIG of RAM. GIG! (Sorry for yelling, sorta.) What's SBC advanced? Um, it can PRINT MORE ADS and not provide any more service.

Zounds. Feel the acid. So, I've flipped the switch in my head that says "something more than dial-up." Seeing as we dropped cable on its sorry ass in June, that's kinda out of the question. At least with Charter. Ah, but there is another, as Yoda would say.

Maryland Heights, my municipality, for some reason has TWO cable companies. Most of the rest of the metro area is only serviced by Charter. So, I call Cable America today and get the hook-up. The funny part? The whole thing is LESS expensive (when you take away my dial-up account) with the Internet access and a similar cable package than what Brian and I were paying with Charter.

Pblllllht on SBC.


Posted by hln at 07:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2003

Monday, September 22, 2003. "Oppressed" Again

Don't you hate when you learn you're oppressed. I mean, who knew? I found this link yesterday via Ravenwood's Universe (in the post where he's referring to me, incidentally) - a website named Redheads United.

I gave it the perfunctory once-over, not really reading it, but bookmarking it for later. Well, today, I went back, and here's what I found.

On a page named "what is redism?" I learned that I am oppressed. This page appears to be COMPLETELY SERIOUS. (I, however, of course, am enjoy)

    If you're a redhead, you almost certainly had times at school when people picked on you, simply because you were different to everyone else. You were the one with red hair, and you were to be avoided at all costs. You supposedly had the short fuse, the unpredictable temperament and I bet you were the last one to be picked for any team too.

    There were the taunts of "gingernut", "ginger" and "carrot-top". You may remember others. You could be walking along one day and some idiot with nothing better to do would call out across the street "GINGER!", leaving you to guess his I.Q. to be under 10. And did you ever wonder why you got called "carrot-top", when you could have sworn your hair wasn't green?
Uh, no, sorry, I'm a coppertop. Perhaps I'm inadequate to be oppressed. I'll see if I can file a grievance.

    You may have managed to ignore it or laugh it off. Even the severest taunting can be forgotten as soon as it stops, or when you leave school. You tend to hope that adults won't voice their opinions of redheads in such a childish manner. However, this kind of treatment can make an impact. Your confidence can be dented by playground jibes, you can become shy or introverted, and you may well feel as if you are less important than other people with a different, "normal" hair-colour.
I'm shy! I'm abnormal! I'm not British, though, so I don't use "u" in my color. Which is, of course, red.

    The worrying thing is that redism doesn't end in the playground. You can hope as much as you like but the truth is that you're stuck with the jokes for life. The worst of it is that adults seem to be able to get away with it without it even being deemed cruel! Having reached my twenties I still get the "ginger abuse" from kids and young men and women of my age!
Clairol, honey. Nice n' Easy. Dullboringbrown is an option. If it bugs you that much, dye it. Damned oppressive cruel adults - driving you to the bottle. Shameful.

    Redism appears to be viewed as an acceptable prejudice to hold by many people, including high profile figures such as MPs or judges (see The Hall of Shame). But in this age of political correctness, how do they get away with this kind of behaviour? Should this be tolerated?

    In April 2000, for example, NPower, an electricity and gas supplier ran a poster campaign to try and get customers to switch their electricity supply to their service. One of the posters depicted a family of two parents and one boy, each having red hair. The caption for this advert read, "There are some things in life you can't chose".
Yeah, next?

    Consider what would have happened if the poster depicted 3 black people, with exactly the same caption. There would have been a public outcry, the government would openly attack the company and the advertising agency and the press would be plastered with the news that a well-known company was racist. The poster campaign would be banned, if indeed it did manage to get the go-ahead in the first place.
Yeah, so? Plug blonde/brown/black hair instead of red, same scenario. I'd be happy to make you a dumb blonde with the aforementioned dye. Lickety split, too - one evening's work.

More black people versus redheads oppression theme for the next several paragraphs - not even a good argument.

But, most importantly, I learned I'm a minority! Oh, wait, I already get a bunch o' unearned perks for being female, so I guess that's no matter. What I learned here today is that I'm oppressed, and life as a redhead isn't worth living? Hmm - I seem to remember something about "I'd rather be dead than red on the head." Yeah, heard that one a few times.

Tall bridge just made for jumping is to the north, buddy.


Posted by hln at 08:51 PM | Comments (5)

September 17, 2003

Conservative Exercise Secret

Hey, I'll share an exercise secret with you. The idea is to get yourself in a mindset so that you can do NOTHING else but exercise. How, you ask? The good old-fashioned adrenaline rush, I answer.

1) Pick up a Ted Rall column. This one will do.

2) Tell yourself you're going to fisk it (before reading).

3) Read and fisk at the same time. Like this!

    NEW YORK--What kind of world would it be if someone set your car ablaze because it guzzled too much fuel? A better one, argues the Earth Liberation Front, a loosely-organized ecoterrorist organization that spray-painted environmentalist graffiti such as "gross polluter" and "fat, lazy Americans" on 30 sport utility vehicles at two car dealerships and set fire to a third on Aug. 22. Several SUVs and 20 Hummer H2s were destroyed. On Sept.2, 22 more SUVs were trashed at a Houston car dealership. (Police have arrested a man in connection with the California incident.)
Okay, fact. That's fine.

    Ecoterrorism expert Bron Taylor of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, says that ELF believes "that ecosystems have an inherent worth that cannot be judged in relation to human needs, that human actions are bringing the earth toward mass extinctions, and that political action is insufficient to bring about the wholesale changes needed."
Bron Taylor. Okay. He's a lefty. But, wow, that quote sure has ominous implications. Read on. This is obviously merely kindling.

    Taken at face value, most Americans agree with the "elves." A Los Angeles Times survey found that, even among conservative Republicans, two out of three people believe that the environment is more important than property rights, corporate profits or even creating jobs. Virtually everyone acknowledges that human-generated pollution is affecting the environment: only eight percent of Americans think that global warming (news - web sites) is a myth. (The United States produces more greenhouse gases, both per capita and overall, than any other nation, making it largely responsible for climate change.)
Okay, first, the grammar problem. Rall, learn to write. "Taken at first value, most people..." You can't refer to the last paragraph with that, even though I know you WANT to. Rules. Grammar has rules. Use them, or land yourself in a mire/muck-filled swamp of more frequent fiskings.

Second, the meat, or, really, the juice of the paragraph. Where the hell did that "most Americans agree with the elves (presumably ELF minions)" statement originate? Did a hair you shaved off your maw yesterday morning scream that unfounded assertion to you when you had writer's block? That's an unfounded claim. Dismissed.

"Two out of there people believe the environment is more important than property rights, corporate profits or even creating jobs." Apples and oranges. The environment is VERY important, yes. Citizen, do your part. You, too, Rall. If I catch you littering or not recycling everything but the cat litter, I'm sending out a press release.

Blah blah blah greenhouse blah, next.

    The environmental crisis is, hands down, the most important matter facing humanity today. Who cares about peace in the Middle East if the region is under water, stricken by famine or choked by dust storms? Weather systems are becoming increasingly violent and unpredictable, species are going extinct and virgin-growth forests are vanishing at an alarming rate. While smog has diminished somewhat in places like Denver and Los Angeles, air pollution is getting worse nationally. Ohio's EPA, for example, announced that 2002 was the most toxic summer on record in 14 years.
What music would you set this to? Darth Vader's Imperial March, or Ride of the Valkyries? Perhaps the Moldau to incite emotion, but you'd have to read the paragraph verrrry slowly, as the Moldau is 12 minutes long.

The MOST important problem is the environmental crisis. THE. *mutter* Hey, Rall. Ever heard of a terrorist? You claim your guy Bron knows about them. Perhaps you should ask for a definition. And put your hands down. You said hands down.

    The main reason:
Stop - I can't let him finish. I know! I know! It's GUNS. Oh, wrong answer.


Dammit - I thought guns were always every problem. I need to read my manual on liberals again.

    What should we do about this long-ignored crisis? Writing letters to the editor and joining The Sierra Club (news - web sites) are admirable, but working within the system hasn't stopped the polluters.
Incite da troups! Call in the ELF (which should have its own theme song with sounds of raging fires mixed in - an eerie similarity to the KLF. Yeah. The ELF is gonna rock you).

Do you feel that blood pumping? Are you ready for the Stairmaster? Almost...
    Burning SUVs isn't the answer, argues the Sport Utility Vehicle Owners Association of America: "All told, the vandalism will not make any company think twice about producing more SUVs and other light trucks, nor will it shake the tremendous consumer confidence in the vehicles. Instead, the blaze destroyed the property of a small business owner, and put the lives of innocent civil servants in harm's way."
This is known as "giving the bad guys a chance to talk and show their idiocy." Rall, of course, feels quite the opposite. Burn someone else's private property in the name of the environment. After all, 2/3 of Americans believe that the environment is more important that private property. 2/3!

The quote is correct, though - burning a few SUVs won't stop production. Capitalism says: demand! And the rest of the quote is dead on: Destroyed the property of a small business owner, and put the lives of innocent civil servants in harm's way. Yes, indeed. And gave the media a frenzied time, yahoo!

    But SUVs are a national blight, burning 33 percent more gas, generating 30 percent more carbon monoxide and 75 percent more nitrogen oxide than regular cars. SUVs are so popular--they account for more than half of new car sales--that average fuel efficiency reversed a long-term trend by starting to drop beginning in 1987. Since 1990, SUVs have wasted an extra 70 billion gallons of gasoline, costing even more than the war on Iraq (news - web sites). They're the sole reason we dropped out of the Kyoto Protocol (news - web sites) to reduce greenhouse gases. SUVs have got to go.
Now, I'm no fan of the SUV monoliths; I'll not buy one. But they're here, and they're here to stay. "Wasted" an extra 708 billion gallons of gasoline, costing even more than the war on Iraq. What war on Iraq, Ted? Oh, you mean that little inconsequential thing underneath the downed hands. THAT war. k.

    The SUV phenomenon is the creation of an unholy alliance of Congress, Detroit automakers and consumers. The big four automakers have convinced even the legislators they don't own outright that eliminating SUVs would hurt the economy. SUV owners think the 9,000-pound leviathans make them safer than passenger cars (though studies have proven they're not), are better at handling snow (untrue), drive off-road (very few SUVs ever leave the pavement), offer extra room for big families (get a minivan instead, dope) and let them see ahead of smaller cars (while blocking the vehicles behind them). The Republican-controlled Congress has no intention of closing the fuel emissions loophole that lets SUVs pass as "light trucks." And the SUV craze is making Detroit more profitable than ever.
Unholy alliance. Hey, isn't that a Scorpions song? Yeah, it's offa Face the Heat; quit stealing the Scorpions' meme.

It's only the Detroit automakers, eh? So the Lexus, BMW, and Infiniti SUVs are white as lambs. And, wait, Mr. Rall, you're exempting minivans? I want them to be declared heathen, too. I mean, when I'm trying to turn left in my little red sports car and a minivan pulls astride me, I can't see over it, either. Waaa! Oh.

Damned those corporations profitting off of what consumers want. Damn them!

    That leaves consumers and dealers as the principal targets of radical environmentalists like the ELF. The idea is to make SUVs as unfashionable, and as scary to own, as fur became after the PETA-inspired spray-paint attacks of the '80s. In an ideal world, American consumers could be convinced to do the right thing through an appeal to logic with public service messages like the "What Would Jesus Drive?" TV campaign, but the kind of people who would buy a car that increases the risk to other motorists in an accident can't be reasoned with. They're selfish and stupid. It's unfortunate that drivers must worry that their SUVs are being targeted by insulting stickers and Molotov cocktails, but one thing's for sure: It couldn't be happening to a more deserving group of people.
Fur. Automobiles. Fur. Automobiles. Hmm. No. And, in an ideal world, American consumers would be YOUR SHEEP, Rall. Yours. Baa. You know what else people would do in an ideal world? No one would smoke or drink too much. No one would batter his or her spouse. People wouldn't kill each other. There'd be no more hunger (k, time to cue the music). There'd be no war. People would't be obese.

Sorry, bucko. No ideal world. Oh, but those who lean so far left they have constant backaches think it'll happen if we just. legislate. enough.

(Oh, and Mom, thanks for reading - I know you're the only one who made it this far.)

4) Now, is your blood shakin', baby? You're already sweating. It's time to run/walk/Stairmaster/elliptical/cycle off that adrenaline. And the good news, puppet Rall will be back another day to inspire you yet again!

5) After your workout, submit your Rall fisk to Venemous Kate for her snarky snark snark.

Patented. Proven.


Posted by hln at 05:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 16, 2003


Throw a party and invite the Senate. Get them all drunk and make them admit their worth. What do you get?

You get this, though I bet it was compiled by more scientific/valid means than a drunken survey.

But you get my point.

Not what you would expect, eh? Still, would be interesting to see if just a few skew the whole thing. Naaaaaa - more fun this way.


Posted by hln at 07:43 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 09, 2003

Amazing, and Disgusting

The Patriette discusses phraseology and September 11, 2001.

Perhaps to save bureaucratic time and money, we should stop trying to explain/study/describe the day and rather blindly disseminate things that other countries have to say about the event.

You can all spit now.


Posted by hln at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003


Do they work? Should I keep them? Are they non-intuitive? Will it rain tomorrow? Will virtual erasers take flight and wipe out all of Blogspot's content?

Answer me these!



Posted by hln at 05:19 PM | Comments (0)

Blog as Means of Shaming Those Who Would Shame Us

There - title will be longer than the post. Adam and cohorts encounter jerko car salesman and scathing commentary doth ensue.


Posted by hln at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2003

The Berkshire Grill, Bridgeton, MO

Yes, this is a restaurant review. The Berkshire Grill was one of my favorite restaurants for a long time. It's located close to my home, sports a wide variety of food, employs an actual chef who features different specials for a time frame (perhaps a month - not certain), and, at one time, its service was overwhelmingly better than other restaurants of its type and price range (Applebee's, Ruby Tuesday, Red Lobster, Olive Garden - you get the idea). This was a "celebrate birthday and other occasions" restaurant.

And then the ownership changed.

This was less than a year ago, but I'm not certain of the exact date. The only reason I know of the ownership change was that Brian and I visited before the new owners had received their liquor license. Servers were warning all patrons of the lack of alcohol that evening.

I have three incidents, and, well, you know the rule of strike three. Here they are. I figure this is more effective than a simple letter to the management. I don't plan to go back for a few months.

Incident 1: I actually have the date. It was May 22, 2003 - Brian's and my 4th anniversary. I usually order the same dull, boring, but VERY tasty salad, and when the server brought me the dressing, it was woefully unmixed - about 2/3 oil and 1/3 of the good stuff. I asked for a spoon and gave the exact reason - to try to remove the oil from the dressing. Apparently spoons are not normal dining fare at the Berkshire Grill under new ownership; none sat atop my place setting.

The server brought one. I tried for a few minutes, but could not remove a significant enough amount of the oil to make the dressing palatable, and so I asked for more dressing. Usually it's superb, and even my uneducated palate can distinguish crap from superb. He brings me more dressing and has the audacity to say, "Oh, I just had to stir it."

Uh....this is not the mark of a restaurant that distinguishes itself from others because of fantastic service.

Incident #2 - approximately 2 weeks later. My friend Tonya, with whom I try to dine about once a month, and I met at Berkshire on a weekday evening, probably a Wednesday. Same said server dolt decided to feign sweeping other parts of the restaurant during our meal. Everytime he'd find something more interesting to do, he'd prop his broom and dustpan (quite dirty) against some table, and then flee to his other task. This occurred at least three times. Ambiance! Baby!

Incident #3 was last night. I ordered BBQ ribs and specifically stated no cole slaw. I asked for a little bit of extra lettuce on my starter salad instead. (This restaurant has actually done that for me - added more salad in place of a side). Oh, but not this server. Not a big deal that she forgot the lettuce; no big thing. I wasn't going to starve. But, plopped on my plate, with a big old nasty pile of mayonnaise-laden sloppy goo, is this wad of cole slaw. Mom, you're cringing, aren't you. I mean, your head must hurt.

I despise mayonnaise. It's one of the three most disgusting edible/drinkable substances (with mashed potatoes and carbonated beverages rounding out the list). I got no offer of "we'll bring you another plate." Instead, I picked up the blob and put it in my dirty salad bowl, and our server, Shannon, walked away with it.

Now, again, minor irritation. But it's the third time. And, to me, it's more of an irritation than to most. I don't personally ascribe to the "but it all ends up in the same place anyway" theory. BS. I was willing to let it slide in my mind until I noticed that the aforementioned cole slaw had a very runny mayonnaise sauce. Yes, you bet. It was all over my french fries (probably good - those go to my hips), and all over one end of my ribs. I pointed this out. I got a "I'm going to ignore that" look from the server.

So, Berkshire Grill, you've lost a customer (two, actually - Brian) for a while. Perhaps you should hire back those excellent servers whom you've chased off, and read the service manual one more time.

Empty parking lot last night. Give it a month - it'll be emptier.

Those of you from - I'd love to know if you feel the same.


Posted by hln at 05:17 PM | Comments (2)

July 30, 2003

So, Do You Feel Better Now, Donna?

Because there you are - top story of CNN, with your <ad hominem>porcine face</ad hominem> and its dim-witted blank sneer (yes, it's possible).

Fame, there it is. Deception. Pain.

Rachel Lucas has already addressed this, so she can do the talking.

I'll do the sentencing. Circle 8, Bolgia 10. You're pretty far down, Donna. Let me give you a quote.

    Polyxena with her there witnessing,
    Saw her Polydorus washed ashore: the weight
    of sorrow drove her mad, her soul so wrung

    She began barking like a dog. And yet,
    No fury of Thebes or Troy was ever seen
    So cruel - not any rending of beasts, and not

    Tearing of human limbs, as I saw shown
    By two pale, naked shades who now ran up
    Biting, the way a pig does loosed from his pen.
How unpleasant.


Posted by hln at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2003

Glad We Got This Guy!

An obvious menace to society, Angel Melendez, a street musician, was sent to JAIL for having an "uncontained kitten" in his company. Fear it. The kitten went to jail, too.

Obviously, this is a crackdown on possible terrorism; the new exploding kittens (activated for possible destruction only when not leashed or crated) look very much like REAL kittens.

Ticket? Maybe. JAIL? Fear it.


Posted by hln at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Didn't Take Long... find something about which to spew this evening.

    Mayor John Robert Smith was speaking during the community service when Shirley Price stood and spoke: "Excuse me. Don't criticize this man. He was human too ... don't exclude him. He was a victim, too. ... He was a kind and loving human being."

    Price broke into tears and left the church. Her boyfriend, Doug Williams, committed suicide after shooting 14 co-workers, killing five, at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant Tuesday.
Uh, hello? Are you in there, Shirley Price? Or do you somehow think that life comes equipped with a pretty "Undo" button - Control-Z on the whole issue, and now only your beloved Doug Williams is dead and these fourteen people are at home with their families and untarnished flesh. Wrong. This man is a perpetrator. A perpetrator is not allowed status as a victim when he (here she goes - wince, please)

1) Suddenly left an employee ethics course and returned armed with weapons.

2) Opened fire on a room of unarmed people.

3) Left this room, his homicidal binge apparently unsatisfied, and proceeded to shoot others unfortunate enough to be in his proximity.

4) Took his own life.

(Facts from another CNN story).

These are actions, Shirley Price, and this man was THE cause of victimhood, his final acts in life an eruption of evil from which any shadow of good he might possibly have attained will never emerge. And he, a grown man, chose this. So chosen.

His circle of hell? He's making a spot for Chante Mallard down in Circle 7, Round 1. More boiling blood. I realize he could reside in Round 2 for the suicide, but encased in a tree is not nearly as unpleasant.


Posted by hln at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2003

Sentencing: The Jury is Kinder than Heather

No boiling blood for Chante Mallard. Instead, suddenly remorseful now that there are RAMIFICATIONS for her actions, a snivelling Ms. Mallard is sentenced to 50 years for the more serious of her offenses.

I am pleased about many things. First, the jury took nearly no time to deliberate. Second, this stands as very visible proof that, indeed, there are consequences for evil doings.

So much for "extraordinary circumstances."


Posted by hln at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2003

An Extreme Example: Please Take Responsibility for Your Actions

Everyone who knows me knows about this. I expressed frothing outrage when first I learned of the news, and I will do so again at a particular statement made by the defense attorney:

    To Mallard's lawyer, "that doesn't amount to murder ... She didn't want her parents to learn what she had done, and she didn't want to go to jail."
Well, lawyer man, that's just ducky. Let me ask you, how do you sleep at night? And here's why I ask:

Chante Mallard
  1. Drove a car while under intoxicating/drugged influence.
  2. Struck a man while driving said car in said condition.
  3. Struck this man with such force that he remained embedded in her car, specifically the windshield.

    Stop right here. If Mallard contacts the authorities and seeks aid for the man she has struck, she's done the best that can be expected of civic duty given that point one violates civic duty. But no.

  4. She drives home with the man still in the windshield.
  5. She puts the car (hence, the man) into the garage.
  6. She has the audacity to APOLOGIZE to the man but not seek help for him.
  7. The man dies. Mallard seeks help in disposing the body.
Does anyone not find the last four points entirely morally reprehensible? And then for the defense to paint the picture of a poor, distraught soul. So, Chante, what does Mommy think now?

Disgusting. Thoroughly disgusting. I propose Circle 7, Round 1. Submerged in hot blood.

Duly sentenced.


Posted by hln at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

Tobacco Furor (rant rant info

Tobacco Furor (rant rant info rant)

Today is obviously an ammunition-rich day for tobacco opponents.

First, we have this.

Next, my opinion on smoking. I'm proud of myself that I've abstained from presenting this until now.

1) If this were MY world, it wouldn't exist.
2) It's not allowed in my home, my car, and, if possible, anything I would define as my personal space.
3) When asked a smoking preference at a restaurant, I say "eradication." (No one seems to understand that, btw. So fun).
4) I completely miss the point of smoking. It's supposedly pleasurable. So are very many things in life that do not gradually and continually damage one's own body willingly (and irritate/exacerbate/cause lung disease/etc. in others). Everyday smokers are some pretty jumpy people, too, so I question some common sense about "smoking calms me down" when, in effect, the whole habit is probably what makes you jumpy in the first place. The smell (and residue) are revolting. Out of context (read: the non-smoking world) this all seems very, very strange.

HOWEVER. Currently, smoking is legal, and individual property owners (bars, restaurants, homeowners) dictate whether the activity can be conducted on their owned property. There's the whole big ever-changing debate on the effect of smoking on public health. It's so nebulous, really. Firm X pays for this study, Firm Y for this. They cancel each other out. Who's really to know? Personally, I believe most of the "smoking is bad for x because of y." reports, and, I have physical ramifications from breathing the stuff, so I try to avoid it in all possible circumstances.

A quote from this CNN article is obnoxious, though.

    American Cancer Society CEO John Seffrin called tobacco "the only weapon of mass destruction used against people all over the world."
Sit down, Sir John. Puhleez. Did you gather appropriate mounds of fetid onions to be placed in your immediate vicinity so that your cry and snivel were heard loud enough to grant you this quote? WMD - such a lovely catchphrase. You must be proud to be cliche.

Moving right along to something with a little more protein, we have this article I stumbled across when it was 12 seconds old. Nicotine is some nasty noxious stuff - so this isn't terribly surprising. In short:

    NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Smoking during pregnancy appears to affect a newborn's behavior in ways similar to infants whose mothers used heroin or other illegal drugs, new study findings suggest.

    Smoking between 6 and 7 cigarettes per day -- less than half a pack -- throughout pregnancy was associated with infants that were more excitable, less consolable and more rigid, according to the report published in the journal Pediatrics.
This is funny. So THAT'S what's wrong with Generation X. :)


Posted by hln at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2003

Pineapples for Peace

Yesterday was the big tax day, as we Americans all know. I paid mine, throughout the year and a bit here before this deadline. Since my husband and I both work full time, we donate quite a bit of money to various charities to fund and support what we believe to be important.

Everyone has a cause or a belief or an embittered passion. Some have all three of these. Today the AP headline read: "Some Peace Activists Won't Pay Fed Taxes." And I just couldn't leave it alone.

You see, I'm a big fan of peace. Peace means a lot of things. Peace, to me, means no murders. It means no wars; it means no threat of wars, and it means no terrorism. It means no domestic violence, and it, at the core, also requires that man be something other than inherently evil. I'll talk more about that later but not today.

If you jump on my example's front porch, you'll see and probably agree that, even in a civilized country on a civilized continent, true peace is but an illusion.

America is a large country of 50 United States. We Americans live here by choice, for we have the free will to pick up our belongings (or not) and move our place of residence to any other country that will have us. America asks little of us as citizens. We elect our officials, and to have the most say in what these people whom we elect will represent,we have obligation to vote. If your state or federal courts request your service on jury, be honored, for our court system, though it contains many flaws and loopholes, often requires input from common civilians to deliver results.

Now, consider these things in somber tone. There are many ways to advocate peace. Some are obviously more constructive than others. Peace begins in the home. It travels then to groups of people, typically with a common objective. I am happy to agree that war is not peace. If you believe a nation not actively at war is at peace, think again, for these are not mutually exclusive.

I am disheartened by this article. I am often disappointed with this country's citizens en masse. At the core, whom do you hurt by not paying your taxes? You taint your reputation with this lovely label of "war tax resister." Oh, and what about those lovely social programs - fewer federal dollars means less money channeled into your state for your cause.

Hmm, I'm not too fond of the couple of thousand extra I had to fork out three years ago because the marriage penalty hit me. I'm pretty sure that money went to fund boll weevil researchers in Atlanta on some hefty government grant. Booyah. Perhaps I should write to the IRS and respectfully decline my bill this year and register myself as a "boll weevil resister." If I sell it well, I bet I could write a book about persuasion and bandwagons and perhaps raise enough money to get me out of tax hock. And have the last laugh.

But that's not what this is really about. This is, for the remainder of this evening's words, in effect, an open letter (rant) to the "war tax resisters" and an invitation to join my new campaign - because peace goes with anything, right? It's kinda like salt. And black.

And so today at lunch, I thought about Pinneaples for Peace. It's illiterative. It's got a nice ring to it. And I bet Dole would fork over some of those big spiky beauties, and we could make large posters of pineapples and draw big red circles around them with lines across the middle (I believe that's called a diameter). Pineapples could be the anti hand grenade! They do bear a small resemblance! Also, pineapple is yellow on the inside. If you cut it like Dole does, you have pineapple rings. Pineapple rings will fit around small bushes, and so your pineapple could stand as a sign that we need to bring our troops home. Pineapple is also, obviously, a food. So we could send our pineapples, after we are finished demonstrating with them, to Iraq and to Afghanistan. We could save the world.

Now, if this doesn't excite you, well, you could always leave the country. I hear France is pretty anti-war. Oh, wait. They're not very friendly. There's always Canada. You could live in the safety of America's shadow (because it's not like America's gonna let anyone mess with Canada). If Canada seems a good option, I've taken the liberty of providing some tax information for you here. Personally, if it ever got that bad here, that's where I would go. Oh, but be sure to save some extra moolah for your heating bill...and boots. You'll need 'em. Learn the rules of hockey, too; there's a good pacifier of a sport.

And there's Mexico! The good news? That country's tax regs were so vague and hard to find online I'm sure there's enough gray area in there to satisfy any diehard liberal. I'd recommend England, but that would only have been a viable option BEFORE the war. It seems public opinion has shifted toward the "winning team."

And, finally, if none of this excites you, perhaps you could find a new home country whose first letter is P. P is for Peace, right? I offer you these exotic locales: Paraguay, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Peru!

Happy trails. Pay your taxes. Protest at will. Pray.



Posted by hln at 07:08 PM | Comments (0)