Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baton Rouge Traffic

A list that is, although funny, filled with truth.

1. First, you must learn to pronounce the city name. It is Batt'n Roodge.

2. Forget the traffic rules you learned elsewhere. Baton Rouge has its own version of traffic rules... Hold on.....and pray.

3. All directions start with, "Get on I-10"...which has no beginning and no end.

4. The Chamber of Commerce calls getting through traffic a "scenic drive."

5. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning.

6. If you actually stop at a yellow light, you WILL get rear-ended.

7. Hoo Shoo Too Road is a real one & can only be pronounced by a native.

8. Construction on I-12 is a way of life, a permanent form of entertainment, and a reason to avoid I-10 as well.

9. All unfamiliar sights are explained by the phrase, "Oh... we are in Denham Springs!"

10. If you actually see someone with their turn signal working, it is probably a factory defect.

11. All old ladies with blue hair in Cadillacs (and lavender Stratus') have the right of way.

12. Lots of streets mysteriously change names as you cross intersections--it's like the tide and LSU sports; just accept it.

13. When asking directions downtown, you keep your window rolled up and write your questions on a piece of paper.

14. A trip across town will take a minimum of an hour.

15. Don't carry money, jewelry, family, etc. on Plank Road.

16. The wrought iron on windows downtown isn't decorative.

17. If you leave one car length for every 10 MPH speed between you and the car in front of you, somebody will cut in.

18. Don't stare at the driver of the car with the bumper sticker that says, "Keep honking. I'm reloading."

19. For directions sake, you must know the difference between the "New" bridge & the "Old" bridge. Also you should know the difference between the "New" mall and the "Old" mall.

20. Anyone trying to get within 5 miles of the LSU campus on game day of an LSU Football game either does not live in Baton Rouge or has lost their mind.

21. Don't donate to 'Will Work For Food' sign holders at the red lights at the College Drive exits off the interstate. They own houses along Highland Road and in the Country Club of Louisiana.

22. Make-up should never be applied at home; one must put it on while driving to work.

23. Ditto for shaving; men must shave on their way to work.

24. One must speed up when it starts raining to get home before the idiots who don't know how to drive in rain get on the roads.

25. Be assured that when you see someone run a red light, make a right/left turn from two lanes over, throw something out the window,
weave from lane to lane, driving drunk -- there will be no police officer
in sight. They are all waiting for you to go 2 miles over the limit in a school zone to give you a ticket.

Enjoy your driving experience in Baton Rouge

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michael Vick - another open letter

Dear Michael Vick -

You make me so very sad. There is so much debate going on about what should or should not happen to you now that you have pled guilty to the dog fighting charges.

I watched your speech yesterday after the court proceedings. I believe that you spoke from your heart in part because you did not use a prepared speech. I commend you for that. But in your speech you failed to say something so very important in this issue - you fail to apologize for what you did to those innocent dogs. You took their lives in ways that are just to horrid to comprehend. Yesterday you alluded to being sorry for the gambling, for setting such a bad example to kids that look up to you, and for being involved in dog fighting in general but you never addressed the lives you took.

For days I've been walking around saying that part of your sentence should be mandatory neutering but I no longer feel that way. What you need instead is some serious help; help that I doubt will be available to you in prison.

Ghandi once said that "you can tell a lot about people by how they treat their animals" and he was spot on. Psychology has shown us that people who abuse animals are deeply disturbed. To have treated those dogs in that way, Michael, you are a very distrubed individual. By refusing to mention it in your speech tells me that you have no idea that this is a much deeper issue than your being caught running a dog fighting ring.

It is my hope that you find the help you need, Michael. It is also my hope that the NFL cancels your contract so that you can get the long term treatment you so desperately need.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzo, Gonzo, Gone!

The rats continue to flee the sinking ship that is the Bu$h administration.
In light of today’s news, I am posting an open letter to Alberto Gonzales:

Farewell, Gonzo, I’m glad to see you go. It sucks when the people come for you, doesn’t it?

Let’s review the legacy you leave:

1. You wrote the opinion that allows Americans to torture prisoners of war against every Geneva Convention ever held.

2. You illegally fired eight U.S. Attorneys because they didn’t play Bu$h and Rove’s political games.

3. You and several Bu$h henchmen went to the hospital when John Ashcroft was very ill and bullied him into signing off on your wiretapping of Americans program; the very same program he’d refused to sign off on because he felt it was unconstitutional.

4. You have allowed the Justice Department to be run on politics rather than on justice.

5. You made a mockery of Congressional hearings.

All I can say is that Congress better continue their investigations. I hope to see you in prison before this is all over with.

In the wake of your leaving, it appears we may get ol’ Chertoff – the guy who did such a bang up job of running FEMA and sending help to the Gulf Coast region after Katrina and the guy who recently wanted the terror threat level raised because he had a “gut feeling” as well as being Rudy Gulliani’s big buddy and a big Bu$h yes man. I can hardly contain my excitement.

I’m sure you’re hurting today over having to give up your grand job. But I feel confident that in a couple of months you’ll be completely unable to recall any of it.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Bittersweet Moments In Life

This is Sam - also known as Sammie Lambie, Sam the Lamb, and Sambo Lambo.

This is Sadie - also known as Little Doll Baby, Sadie Lou, Sadie Lou Who, and Lulu Belle.

For the past three months, they have been our foster puppies. They are half-Shih Tzu and half-Bichon Frise, brother and sister, and they are all puppy. When we began this fostering effort we were not at all sure that we could keep both puppies together. To put it mildly, they were a handful. But after the first few weeks we got into a rhythm. While they had their wild side, they were also the sweetest puppies you can imagine. Sadie just loved me to hold her upside down in the evenings after her dinner and rub her belly until she fell asleep, doing the Bichon Wave if I stopped for any length of time. Sam loved jumping into my lap and wrapping both paws around my neck and putting his head on my shoulder.

Since E and I failed Fostering 101 when we adopted Nate just over a week after we got him to foster, we were determined this time that we were going to truly foster these pups. I can honestly say that at no time was I tempted to adopt them because five dogs in the house is just way too much. Small Paws tried to tempt me with their annual Christmas in July offer to their foster parents allowing them to adopt their fosters for only $5. But I deleted the email and stood strong determined to pass Fostering 101 this time.

Early this week I got the email telling me that someone was interested in Sam and Sadie and would adopt them together. It was the wonderful news we'd been hoping for. As the foster parent, I got to interview the interested party to get a feel for his puppy parenting capabilities. When we nearing the end of the conversation and he told me it was way too hot to try to fly the pups up to North Carolina so instead he and his fiance would drive down here to Louisiana to get them, I knew Sam and Sadie would be in great hands. Over the next couple of days we made arrangements to meet them at their hotel this weekend. We got the pups groomed and ready to meet their new Dad and Mom. Today was the day.

This is Mike and Kaini and although you can't really see Kaini's face, you can see that grin on Mike's.

Sam and Sadie gave them kisses right away. I cried after we left. E knew I would. Even though I knew from the start we weren't going to keep them, they still managed to wrap themselves around my heart. I'm going to miss our evening snuggles and their rough housing (I called them The Rolling Ball of Thunder). I'm going to miss Sadie's sweet round eyes that claimed innocence even though she'd just done something she wasn't supposed to. I'm going to miss Sam's head laying on my shoulder while I scratched his chest.

But I just got a call from Mike telling me that they'd made it home. The first thing he said was "They're blitzing all over the place!" and the happiness in his voice was more than apparent. We couldn't have sent them off with better puppy parents if we'd hand-picked them ourselves.

Tonight E and I can finally say we've passed Fostering 101 and, yes, we will move on to Fostering 102 in the not so distant future. Because we believe in the mission of Small Paws - to take the unloved, the abused, and the thrown away, give them love and guidance, then send them off to a forever home where they will always know they are loved.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Our Trip to the End of the World, Part 2

On our way back up from Venice, Louisiana, E and I spotted the entrance to Fort Jackson. I am embarassed to say that as a native Louisianian, I did not know of Fort Jackson's existence.

Fort Jackson was built between 1822 and 1832 about 40 miles north of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was a crucial site in the Civil War. Unfortunately the fort is closed to visitors now because they say it is in disrepair. E and I were able to walk around the outside and take some pictures. I loved that there is a moat around the entire place. We were nearly eaten alive by mosquitos but our visit was worth it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Yes, it's official. Karl Rove, Bu$h's brain, is leaving his White House job. Everybody dance with me!

Right back at you, Karl.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Our trip to the end of the world, part 1

Several weeks back, E and I decided to drive down to Venice, Louisiana. "Where is Venice, Louisiana?" you ask. Look at this map. Louisiana is shaped like a boot and if it were truly a boot, Venice is the tip of the toe. You can go no further south in this state.

Venice is quite industrial. It is a jumping off point for offshore oil crews heading to platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. It is also where river boat pilots catch boats to Pilot Town where they embark on the ships they will guide up the Mississippi River.

Venice was also hit very hard by hurricane Katrina. It has only been about two months that the road down to Venice has been open and the electricity back on.

There are places along the highway where the land is a mere half mile wide - the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Mississippi River on the other.

This is some sort of industrial plant. Notice the missing pieces of roof which is Katrina damage.

The fire department

The Post Office

All still so heavily damaged nearly two years later.

One must pass through a huge industrial area first.

Finally one is rewarded with Louisiana beauty.

If you're as lucky as me, you might just have an Eastern brown pelican, state bird of Louisiana, pose for your camera.

And if you're truly as fortunate as me, you'll get to share it all with a very handsome man.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Back in the spring E and I loaded up the three dogs and headed up to Oxford, Mississippi, for a weekend to enjoy the Small Paws Rescue Deep South Bichon Bash. "What is a Bichon bash?", you ask. Simply put it's a gathering of people and their Bichons Frise. This one is a fund raiser for Small Paws Rescue. It was the first bash E and I had ever attended. There were probably 30 Bichons in attendance with their people. We gathered on the campus of Ol' Miss and spent the day talking Bichons. Several folks brought x-pens so that the dogs could be contained in an area off leash. Of course, our three hated being in the x-pen and had to be out with us on leash all day.

Here's Sophie screaming "Let me out!"

That's Sneauball just to her left in the blue harness and Nate is the tall one in the back with the green harness. With all those white Bichons around, poor little Sophie looked out of place. I kept singing the Police tune, "There's A Little Black Spot On The Sun Today".

Here's just part of the group gathering to take the group photo.

The blonde in the center holding a Bichon is our fearless leader Robin Pressnall, who started Small Paws nearly 10 years ago.

Here's some pictures of our three -

Sophie - the out of place Peke-A-Poo

Sneauball - our tiny little Bichon man

And Nate - our big Bichon boy that we rescued through Small Paws

We may be some of "those crazy dog people" but our group managed to raise $1500.00 for Small Paws that day. That money went to helping rescue Bichons in need.

I only wish we'd taken pictures of the three dogs in their car seats in the back seat of my vehicle. Sophie spent the five hour drive up doing everything she could to get out of her seat. Nate gets car sick and he threw up before we hit the first exit past ours on I-12 that morning. We doped him up with Dramamine and Benedryl and he felt better as we went. Sneauball whined the entire way because he's a spoiled brat who thinks the only place he can ride in the car is snuggled between me and my door. He was very displeased that he had to stay in a car seat. But it was fun and a big adventure for us all and that's what counts.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Now for some fun stuff

You can all get up off the floor now. I know that I've shocked you by making two posts in the same day.

Guess what I did this weekend? This picture might help you guess.

That's the top of my friend Mary's Mardi Gras sock that I started on Friday. I knit the first half during a lovely dinner party and visit with friends at K & M's house Saturday evening. I knit the second half while visiting friends D & J at their home/camp on Lake Martin Sunday afternoon. Most of that knitting was done on the boat while everyone else fished or from their dock.

Don't they live in paradise?

Back to the knitting discussion...

The yarn is Panda - 55% bamboo, 24% cotton, and 21% elastic nylon in 9667 Mardi Gras. It was commissioned by my favorite yarn store, Garden District Needlework in New Orleans. This yarn is heavenly to work with. I can tell you that I'll be hooked on using Panda yarn for socks for a while. And yes, those are my brand new Addi Turbos in a U.S. size 1 that I'm knitting with. I now know the difference between a Volkswagen and a Mercedes. My goal is to have a pair of Addi Turbos in every size - someday. Good thing GDN gives a $5 discount for every $100 that you spend.

I can't wait to finish these socks and start on my own pair. Mary was with me the day I bought the yarn. She is the queen of Mardi Gras and wanted a pair of her own. I'm very glad to be able to make them for her.

Things Congress Does When We're Not Looking

By the time Saturday ended, the House and Senate had both voted to approve the Protect America Act of 2007. With that vote, the Democrat-majority Congress basically ran the U.S. Constitution through a shredder.

The Protect America Act of 2007 changes the FISA laws put into place in 1978 to keep things like Watergate from ever happening again. What PAA does is give the NSA and the White House carte blanche to spy on American citizens. This makes legal Bu$h's wiretapping scheme that the NSA has been conducting for several years now illegally. They are now able to listen to any telephone call made between anyone in the U.S. and anyone abroad if they think there might be some foreign intelligence that may be gained from the wiretap. The bill says nothing about "terrorism" and it takes the FISA court out of the loop. The only two folks that have to give their ok in these matters now are Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell.

Here - read it for yourself in the Boston Globe:

First, the law requires telecommunications companies to make their facilities available for government wiretaps, and it grants them immunity from lawsuits for complying. Under the old program, such companies participated only voluntarily -- and some were sued for allegedly violating their customers' privacy.

Second, Bush has said his original surveillance program was restricted to calls and e-mails involving a suspected terrorist, but the new law has no such limit.

Instead, it allows executive-branch agencies to conduct oversight-free surveillance of all international calls and e-mails, including those with Americans on the line, with the sole requirement that the intelligence-gathering is "directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States." There is no requirement that either caller be a suspected terrorist, spy, or criminal.

The law requires the government to delete any American's private information that it picks up, but it contains an exception allowing agents to maintain files of information about an American that has foreign intelligence value or that may be evidence of a crime.

As a check against abuse, the law requires Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Michael McConnell, director of national intelligence, to design procedures for the program and to submit them for review by a secret national security court that normally approves warrant applications for intelligence-related wiretapping on US soil.


The House of Representatives passed the bill late Saturday, following the Senate's approval on Friday night. In both chambers, Republicans voted overwhelmingly for the bill and were joined by enough Democrats to make a majority. It passed 60 to 28 in the Senate with 16 Democrats in favor, and 227 to 183 in the House, with 41 Democrats in favor.

You can see the list of how Representatives voted here and how Senators voted here.

So the next time my friend DixiePeach and I chat over the phone, the NSA will probably be listening. Why? Because Dix lives in Germany and one could assume that all our talking about knitting could just be coded messages that could jeopardize our foreign intelligence.

I have to tell y'all that when I heard this news today I was almost physically sick. This Congress betrayed the American people and allowed, no HELPED, the Bu$h administration take one giant step toward fascism, not that they needed any help. The Democrats actually had a bill of their own that allowed some wiretapping with checks and balances in place but they didn't drag that one out. No, instead they passed the one written by the White House and gave them more latitude than they originally asked for. I am so angry at the Democrats who went along with this. Believe me, Senator Mary Landrieu's office will be getting a phone call and a piece of my mind during my morning commute tomorrow. It will be a cold day in hell before I vote for her again. In fact, I'll work very hard with any Democrat that opposes her next term.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer Madness

Wow! I just noticed this is my 200th post. Cool.

E and I have been crazy-busy all summer long. That's why you're getting a bulleted list today to catch you up on what we've been up to. (Hey, you got lots of substance yesterday so give me a break, ok?)

  • Back in the spring, E and I joined the local Unitarian Church and we LOVE it. We jumped in with both feet and got involved right away. I've started a "Fiber Arts for Peace" group there. Currently we're knitting comfort shawls and lap blankets for the sick and elderly in the congregation. In June, E and I became the Adult Activities committee. I have the hardest time not calling it the "Adult Entertainment" committee. We're responsible for arranging the lunch bunches every other Sunday as well as coming up with other fun ideas. I've also recently joined the choir. We're doing a gospel service next week and having a great time with the music.

  • At the beginning of the summer, something possessed me to suggest to E that we foster a pair of puppies for the Bichon Frise rescue group I volunteer for - Small Paws Rescue. They are half-Bichon and half-Shih Tzu puppies who were nine months old on Wednesday. Sam and Sadie are quite a pair, let me tell you. By the end of the third week they had destroyed a long list of items in our house. We hadn't had a puppy in the house since Sneauball nearly six years ago and we apparently forgot what they were like. They are cute little buggers though, although I call them the "Rolling Ball of Thunder" because they roll around playing and growling at each other. I promise I'll post pics soon. Our three were not exactly thrilled when Sam and Sadie came into the household but they've settled in and tolerate them well now. Nate loves chasing them around and playing since neither Sophie nor Sneauball will do that with him. However, I must confess - five dogs in the house is way too much. We need to find some forever homes for these guys soon.

  • I spent most of July down with bronchitis. I hadn't been that sick in many, many years. I ended up missing a total of five days of work and thought I might end up in the hospital with pneumonia. I'm so very glad to be done with that.

  • I'm still teaching knitting at Michael's but the summer has been slow. I've scheduled more classes for this month hoping that things will pick up. I could use the extra cash.

  • E turned 45 on Wednesday. He finally caught up with me for a few more months anyway. For a guy who proclaims he hates birthdays, he sure had a grand time. One of the girls at his workplace baked a cake for him. He was pretty happy about that. He didn't bring me a piece though. Of course, I didn't bake him a cake so maybe I shouldn't complain about not getting a piece.

  • My brother and sister were 40 on June 30th. Dang they're old.

  • My niece and nephew will be 8th and 4th graders respectively next Friday. They're making me feel ancient. No wonder their mom is so old.

Well, now you're pretty caught up with us. I promise I'll stop in here more often and hopefully with pics of stuff we've seen and done - if I can remember to grab the camera out of my car and download all the photos.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Tears of Sorrow for Minneapolis; Tears of Anger for Failing Infrastructure

As most of you know by now, last evening during rush hour the most highly traveled bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota, collapsed sending approximately 50 vehicles plunging into the Mississippi River. The fatality count currently stands at four but there are upwards of 50 people still missing. There were over 75 injuries.

People of Minneapolis, please know that my heart is breaking for you. This is the type of tragedy that should never happen in America and that leads me to the heart of this post.

In days gone by tragedies like this didn't happen here in America. Our country has prided itself in the strength of its infrastructure since its inception. But, oh, how the times have changed. Our infrastructure is failing and we have conservative government to thank for it.

This all began in the early 80's during the Reagan administration. Reagan strutted around touting that "the nine most frightening words in the English language are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.' " He set out to convince us that we needed a change; that all the Democrats did was "tax and spend". He proclaimed Reaganonmics would fix all of that - tax less but keep the same level of service. He began cutting taxes all the while growing the largest deficit in the history of this country. The conservative Congress continued the chanting, "Less government, lower taxes" and it enchanted the voters as if a magician had waved a pocket watch before their eyes.

So for over 20 years now the conservatives have based their campaigns on making taxes lower and have convinced the taxpayers that they were actually slowing the growth of the government in the process, which was an out-and-out lie. Government was shrinking in places like infrastructure and health care and growing exponentially in places like defense.

Fast forward 20+ years and we have the Bu$h administration - Mr. Tax Cut, himself. He cut back our taxes alright then lied us into a war that we are currently bleeding $4,000.00 per second on. That's right, I said "per SECOND". (You can find the full report in .pdf form here) We are also spending $12 million per month on infrastructure in Iraq and we all know what a fine mess that is. He's grown defense so much that this country now spends more for defense than all the other nations in the world combined. Add to that the fact that Bu$h has now amassed the largest deficit yet; more than all administrations before him combined, including Reagan's mess. With us paying less taxes, our children and grandchildren will be footing this bill for years to come plus having to rebuild the infrastructure.

Let's talk specifically about that bridge in Minneapolis now. It was built 40 years ago in 1967. In 1967, the U.S. population was just over 200 million. We surpassed 300 million last year - a growth of 50%. The number of cars and trucks that travel the highways here has grown immensely and those vehicles have all gotten bigger and heavier through the years.

I happen to live at the opposite end of the same river this bridge spanned. Twice a day I cross a very similar bridge here in Baton Rouge. Our "new" bridge is a year younger than the bridge in Minneapolis. It's probably the most traveled bridge here in Louisiana, as it is part of I10, our state's major thoroughfare. Today as I sat in rush hour traffic on top of that bridge, I thought about Minneapolis and realized that the same thing could have just as easily happened here and I got angry. Angry at the federal administration that cares more about oil and war than it does infrastructure and angry at our own governor here in Louisiana. Two weeks ago she went on a vetoing spree and put a big red X on 13 bills the legislature passed. While I support her vetoing things such as vouchers for private schools and ridiculous tax cuts, one of her vetoes was this:

Senate Bill 146 by Sen. Reggie Dupré, D-Houma, would have created a new Windfall Highway, Infrastructure and Protection Fund with excess mineral revenues. The money would have been dedicated to project construction.

“I am concerned about dedicating yet more revenues in the state’s budget,” Blanco said.

Dupré said the veto was not an easy decision for Blanco to make because people in her administration were divided on the issue.

Well, I'm certainly glad to know that at least some folks working in the governor's office are thinking clearly. The state legislators have until midnight tonight to vote whether or not they are coming back for a veto session to try to override Blanco's decisions.

I tried to find a good photo of our bridge during rush hour but all I found was this one. This is the ramp coming down from the bridge with the upper level in the background. This was taken during the Katrina evacuation but trust me, all it takes is one good wreck to make it look like this during rush hour.

All this administration talks about is Homeland Security. Homeland security has to include infrastructure and, to date, it hasn't. I make a pretty decent salary and a good chunk of it goes to taxes every month. I quit complaining about how much I pay in taxes when I realized all the things my tax dollars were responsible for. I would rather pay the same amount of taxes knowing that I can cross that bridge safely every day than have a few dollars back in my pocket and cross in fear.

Now get ready because by tomorrow when the conservatives wake up from all their crying over the Minneapolis bridge failure, they're going to start pointing fingers at liberals for making this a political issue. But I tell you it HAS to be a political issue in order to keep this from happening anywhere in America again.

Minneapolis, I am so very sorry that you had to suffer this horrible tragedy. It is my hope that it wakes us all up from a 20+ year trance and makes us realize that paying taxes in order to insure things like a safe infrastructure isn't the evil Reagan and his minions have tricked us into believing it to be all these years.

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