Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It's the Holiday Season

I think I had a little too much holiday cheer this past weekend.

It's Tuesday and I think that I'm still recovering from my exploits. Either that, or I'm getting sick. Which I refuse to believe.

Friday night, I did something that I've been wanting to do for the longest time... I saw the light display at Tilles Park. For years I've driven past it, but never turned in. This year, Barry and I, along with Dev, Peggy and Jim, piled into Barry's Rav4 and took in the sights and sounds. While it wasn't the most comfortable of viewings, the company was truly enjoyable and us in the back seat were united in our discomfort.

I'm sure there's an adage about out of discomfort comes strength, or some other bullshit, but it's eluding me at this point.

Rather than write a review of the experience, I'm going to say that if you enjoy drive-through Christmas light displays, then it is well worth your time. I would go during the week, though, when there is less traffic. If it's not your scene, then hit something else.

I enjoyed it immensely.

Saturday, our house was Kid Central. Our friends Jason and Jennifer brought over their children so that we could give them their Christmas presents. I fretted a bit over whether the gifts would be enjoyed. I needn't have. Lots of squeals and pestering of Uncle Barry to play with them ensued. Love the sound of children's laughter... especially in this house.

A couple hours later, Cara and Todd brought over their boys. I had been warned that they would swing in, then out, because the boys had already had full days and were starting to get tired.

But when they arrived, their oldest dropped his coat on the floor and joined the melee. The youngest apparently was power napping when they arrived, for he soon woke up and joined the commotion.

For those of you not in the know, my house has a kitchen that connects to both the family room and dining room. Which are also connected. So there is a zig-zagged wall that acts as the center, making it perfect for kids to run circles through the house.

I loved it!

So did Lance, who followed the parade of children running through the house, occasionally giving kisses to whomever would stop to catch their breath.

After they left, Tom came over to watch 'The Ref' and 'Bad(der) Santa.' I had never seen 'The Ref' all the way through and Tom had never seen 'Bad Santa,' so it was new for everyone but Barry.

Popcorn, cookies and cherry limeade was consumed, but none of us can stay up late the way we used to back in the day, so we called it a night.

Sunday, Barry and I went to his sister's so he could get his hair cut... and so we could help her pick up a metal cabinet that she bought at an antique mall. And while not the most festive day of the weekend, there was certainly an air of giving that day. Plus, the desire to shop weighed heavily on my mind.

I don't know if they exist, but when in doubt, always feel free to give me a gift certificate to an antique mall.

So as I sit here on the couch, I truly think that I OD'd on the holiday spirit this weekend.

Or maybe I just want to get out of going to my brother- and sister-in-law's house on Thursday.

Naw. Couldn't be.

But thank God Cara and Todd dropped off a bottle of holiday wine on Saturday. I plan on sampling it on Christmas.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Child Left Behind

John Walsh is one of my heroes.

When people ask me who my hero is, I invariably think of my mother. After all, she had everything... good looks, a family, multiple college degrees... and then had to become a whole new person after she had two massive strokes. But she survived, and even thrived to a degree, when most others would become despondent over their lot in life.

But John Walsh took what could only be described as the most horrific of circumstances to befall a parent -- the abduction of a child from a store and subsequent murder of the child -- and turned into something absolutely amazing. Instead of internalizing his hate and despair, John Walsh became empowered.

I won't rehash the details of his son's story. It can be found on hundreds of thousands of websites if you don't know it. But it was 27 years ago that a hotel developer turned into an activist, co-founding the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and then hosting the show America's Most Wanted.

John Walsh did not sit idly by and let the world forget what happened to his son, nor would he allow what happened to his son to happen to other children. Not on his watch. And there are those who argue that he took away the innocence of a generation of children who have to grow up fast enough. But I must comment, as a person who does not have kids herself, that anything you can do to protect children -- even if it's one situation out of 10,000 -- is information worth knowing. Parents are not supposed to bury their children.

So for all his devotion to saving other children, John Walsh and his wife, Reve, never got closure on the case of their son, Adam. Because for 27 years it was an open case.

Until yesterday.

Now, finally, there is no more wondering if the creature responsible for such an atrocity is still walking the streets. While knowing won't bring back their boy, having closure certainly has to be bittersweet.

Rest in Peace Adam Walsh and may God bless you John and Reve Walsh.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?

Saturday night I did something I don't normally do.

I not only fought back against a creep who was invading not only my personal space but also presumed that his physical attention was welcomed, but I had the best comeback ever. Movie line perfect, if I may say so myself.

And despite this shadow on my evening, I had a great time.

Let me back up.

Saturday night, I had dinner with several friends, old and new. Tom, Timmy, Matt & Laurel and I went to dinner at Sen, one of the best Thai restaurants around. After indulging in some truly delicious food and imbibing in the best martini ever, I popped away to go see Barry at an art event.

He was a participating artist and since I was downtown, I had to go see him.

It was crazy packed. It was also loud and pretentious.

I couldn't find Barry to save my life, so I went outside to text him, in the hopes that he would be able to direct me better than my aimless wandering seemed to do.

I set my purse on a column base, then proceeded to text. All of a sudden, I'm spun around. My phone goes flying (although, to be quite honest, it seems to work better now). I'm face to face with a guy at least ten years my junior... and drunk.

"What's a pretty gal doing here by herself?"

"Leave me the fuck alone," I reply, my eyes rolling. Here I am not talking to anyone, let alone making eye contact, and I'm still singled out. Fly paper for freaks, I am.

He tsks, then pulls me closer. "I think we got off on the wrong foot."

I'm internally cringing, watching his hand arc up to stroke either my cheek, my hair or -- worse -- my breast.

None of them are an option.

The fact that body parts are touching freaks me out, so I say sweetly, "Nope, the right knee." Then my right knee makes contact with his groin.

I grab my phone, then head inside.

Security asks what happened. I tell them that I was accosted, but fine. However, I'm not too sure how he is. Then I book into the crowd, determined to find Barry. And not deal with any more questions.

I do find him, crammed into a small wing, a live model wearing a skimpy bikini just a few feet from him. It's too loud to talk and to cramped for me to sit by him. Besides, he seemed to be in the drawing zone, so I kiss, chat briefly, then head back out to meet up with everyone at the Cabin Inn, over at the City Museum.

It's relaxed and laid back and just about perfect to just fall into a chair and drink a beer. I of course tell them all what happened. I'm then applauded for my line. And then we settle into our obligatory potty talk.

Who would have thought that my altercation would be overshadowed by the sad, drunk, possibly high woman at the bar?

Since my back was to her, I missed out on most of it -- thank God.

But the fact that her tag was sticking out of her t-back just HAD to be pointed out to me. And then it was proposed that someone go stick it back in for her. Now, mind you, this woman saw Matt's V8 tattoo on his forearm and mistook the engine symbol as something more astral. I said that I'd do it for ten bucks.

Tom ponied up and I was stuck. Crap.

But I squared my shoulders and went up to her, trying to gently explain the situation. She didn't understand and proceeded to get louder and louder, so I just tucked the tag back in and ran.

I think she yelled after me that she wanted me to tear off the tag, but I refused to make eye contact. Unfortunately, Tom, Matt and Tim got an eyeful. I could be wrong, but apparently she proceeded to pull her pants off.

I do know that she was escorted outside.

Barry had rolled into the madness around 10ish, but around 11:30 it was decided that breakfast food was on the menu. Barry parted ways and the rest of us headed over to Uncle Bill's on South Kingshighway.

Love me some bacon and blueberry waffles, but it was too bright to see such garish decor while having previously consumed three drinks. Since I don't drink much, I was grooving.

Plus, Uncle Bill's reminds me of illicit meetings and dirty thoughts, hence why it was way too bright in there.

But the food is cheap, fast and pretty good.

After giving Tom shit about his eating choices, because it was his health that we were out celebrating, we consumed, we became overstuffed, we all began to crash.

I desperately wanted to drive everyone back instead of Tom, but I parted ways in the parking lot and let them all get appropriately dispersed.

And while I certainly am much more low-key, homebody even, I really could do that night again.

Minus inappropriate guy and drunk woman.

Here's hoping they met up. Really think that they deserved each other.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Turn On, Tune In... Drop Out

I just finished watching the last episode of Boston Legal. And while saying that I feel that a chapter in my life has closed seems rather silly, I do feel like my world did get a little less bright.

The numbers for the show were never fabulous, but the fans were fanatical. I count myself amongst them. It certainly was not written for the masses, but rather a small niche market – people who enjoyed intelligent television, rather than the mindless escapism that peppers the broadcast television spectrum.

It was political. It was topical. And it was irreverent. It didn’t pander to its audience; it brought the audience up to its level. It not only pushed boundaries, but thumbed its nose at the boundaries after it had already hoped them and moved into the next obstacle supposedly blocking its path.

Here’s hoping that this spin-off of a spin-off (from The Practice which came out of Ally McBeal)has yet another spin-off in store because I fully admit that I tuned in merely to see Alan Shore launch into one of his tirades – and to hear his latest lecherous comment – and to see what crazy antics Denny Crane was going to perform in the newest episode. Many great characters were introduced, then were either written out… or disappeared altogether.

In fact, one of my favorite characters – who was the perfect foil for Alan shore and perfect crony for Denny Crane – was Melvin Palmer. Truly one of the most underutilized characters from the show. If there is indeed a spin-off, I hope that he – and Christopher Rich who played him – is a featured character because, damn, if he didn’t make my sides hurt. He’s a funny guy, that’s what he is.

But my boys… Ah, two such fully developed men – I mean characters – really were a joy to watch. James Spader was at the top of his professional game on this show and William Shatner was… in the role of his life. I may have some personal biases towards Mr. Spader (whom I have crushed on since the beginning of time), but I sincerely believe that the character of Denny Crane was tailor made for William Shatner and that no one but William Shatner could have played the character. Forget Captain James T. Kirk! The name’s Denny Crane.

I must say that the capper was appropriate, if unnecessary. I certainly felt that the show had not run its course. That there were many more mountains to climb, conquer and tumble. I know I’m holding out false hope that there will be a spin-off, but David E. Kelley, the creator of Boston Legal, has two shows in development for next season. I don’t suppose saying ‘pretty please?’ will help?

I will miss my friends at Crane, Poole & Schmidt. Thanks for some of the best television I’ve seen for the past four years. Nay, for some of the best television I’ve seen. Period.

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I Love This Country!

I've posted here before about how the National Anthem makes me cry. It's not the best song, but what it represents, the history behind the lyrics, and the thought of the thousands of men and women who have fought -- and given the ultimate sacrifice -- just moves me beyond words.

And then I found this video.

I'm not sure what game this is, but the video was shot at Boston’s Fenway Park. At Disability Awareness Day at the ballpark, mentally challenged fans were given VIP treatment. One such fan was even given the honor of singing the National Anthem.

Others before him have gotten flustered singing the National Anthem before a large crowd. So did he. And as I watched in horror at what the crowd was going to do, I thought it was going to go so, so wrong.

Instead, it went so, so right.

Kinda made me not hate people quite so much.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Think I Found Meself a Job!

So I took a quiz online.

And now I'm almost frightened by the results.

But they were too good not to share.

In fact, if I were single I might be sharing a bit more than just the results of the quiz... if you know what I mean.


(sort of)

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Found this on one of the websites I frequent, although I have seen it a few times before. Thought it was hilarious, a counter-balance to the cold and dreary day outside.

I also thought most, not all, was brilliantly true.

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
3. It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.
4. Don’t be irreplaceable. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.
5. Always remember that you’re unique. Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you’re alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.
13. Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Duct tape is like ‘The Force’. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
19. Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.
20. Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008


In no particular order...

1. I am thankful for Barry, who accepts me for who I am.
2. I am thankful for having the greatest Mom a girl could ever wish for.
3. I am thankful for having the most loving Dad a girl could ever wish for.
4. I am thankful for Lance, the best dog I’ll ever be owned by.
5. I am thankful for Pudge, the best cat a cat-hater could be owned by.
6. I am thankful for Gana, who is the yin to Pudge’s yang – a cat through and through.
7. I am thankful for Tom, who accepts our friendship for what it is – twisted and unconventional.
8. I am thankful for my Aunt Fran who, after my mother, has shown me what grace personified truly is.
9. I am thankful for my cousin Katie, who, when faced with adversity, lives life on her own terms.
10. I am thankful for my cousin Sarah, who knows what she wants and never waivers.
11. I am thankful for my ‘Aunt’ Ann and ‘Uncle’ John, who make me feel like the daughter they never had.
12. I am thankful for my friends Linda and Greg, who make it all seem easy.
13. I am thankful for my friend Maggie, who has shown me that the power of perverted prayer and sheer stubbornness can take you farther than you knew you could go.
14. I am thankful that my parent’s left me a house that is paid for.
15. I am thankful for B’lana, the pretty, pretty princess that she is.
16. I am thankful that I can look out my back window and see a creek rather than a neighbor’s backyard.
17. I am thankful for my friend Jason, who not only is the original ‘pretty,’ but also has a heart as big as the whole outdoors.
18. I am thankful for my friend Jennifer, who is a hot mess – and loves me because I am, too.
19. I am thankful for Alyssa, who reminds me of what I lost and makes my heart sing.
20. I am thankful for Aidan, who despite obstacles, embraces life more fully than anyone I know.
21. I am thankful for Cara, who has been in my life so long that I can’t remember her not being there… and thank God for that.
22. I am thankful for Todd, Elwood and Finn, who not only love Cara unconditionally, I love them for loving her.
23. I am thankful for my friend Kim, who reminds me that there is still hope and good in the world.
24. I am thankful for my friend Paul, whose political rants mirror my own leanings – and who is a true gentleman, underneath the trappings of… one who is not.
25. I am thankful for my friend Katie, who is effervescence personified.
26. I am thankful for Sharon, who never tries to be the mother I lost, but seems to love me as much as her own offspring.
27. I am thankful for Alan, who, while complete different than my father, reminds me of him when he dishes out and takes it.
28. I am thankful for Deb, my BFFAW always.
29. I am thankful for my friend Barb, who I never talk to enough.
30. I am thankful for Molly, who is wise beyond her years but also makes me feel 10 years younger.
31. I am thankful for my cousins Bill and George, who are always looking out for me.
32. I am thankful for Barry’s gaming group, who give him an oasis of (in)sanity.
33. I am thankful for my sister-in-law Jennifer, who is the little sister I never knew I wanted.
34. I am thankful for my brother-in-law Robert, who introduced us to the ways of Schwan’s.
35. I am thankful for Renee and John, who help keep us grounded.
36. I am thankful for snow.
37. I am thankful for The Custard Station.
38. I am thankful for thrift stores.
39. I am thankful for the Internet.
40. I am thankful for gift certificates.
41. I am thankful for Tom Waits.
42. I am thankful for Nine Inch Nails.
43. I am thankful for Billy Joel.
44. I am thankful for INXS.
45. I am thankful for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
46. I am thankful for Charleston, SC.
47. I am thankful for Facebook and it getting me in touch with old friends.
48. I am thankful for ‘Oops’ paint.
49. I am thankful for Satellite TV.
50. I am thankful for TiVo.
51. I am thankful for the oceans.
52. I am thankful for the mountains.
53. I am thankful for those who have saved historic buildings.
54. I am thankful for Bryan Fuller for creating the best television shows that never got a chance.
55. I am thankful for Forest Park.
56. I am thankful for the Arch, thus creating one of the most recognized and beautiful downtown skylines in the country.
57. I am thankful that Obama will be the 44th President of the United States of America.
58. I am thankful for the Lion’s Club BBQ.
59. I am thankful for Teva sandals.
60. I am thankful for tattoos and piercings.
61. I am thankful for Weekends Only furniture stores.
62. I am thankful for grape soda.
63. I am thankful for the City Museum.
64. I am thankful for root beer.
65. I am thankful for Oberweis.
66. I am thankful for knitting.
67. I am thankful for Petsmart, so I can take Lance there and let him have a little ‘Yappy Hour’ from time to time.
68. I am thankful for memories.
69. I am thankful for living in the greatest country in the world.
70. I am thankful for Route 44 Cherry/Vanilla Cokes from Sonic – and for my cousins introducing me to them.
71. I am thankful for the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series of books.
72. I am thankful for fanfiction.
73. I am thankful for The Royale.
74. I am thankful for Amigo’s Cantina.
75. I am thankful for Mental Floss.
76. I am thankful for St. Louis Magazine.
77. I am thankful for the book White Palace.
78. I am thankful for sales – of any kind.
79. I am thankful for zippered hoodies.
80. I am thankful for independent coffee houses like Kaldi’s.
81. I am thankful for Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
82. I am thankful for Big Lots.
83. I am thankful for fabric remnants at fabric stores.
84. I am thankful for Phyllis Diller.
85. I am thankful for hammocks.
86. I am thankful for the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.
87. I am thankful for Hellboy comics and movies.
88. I am thankful for the Indiana Jones trilogy (Not sure how I feel about the 4th movie yet).
89. I am thankful for the original Star Wars trilogy.
90. I am thankful for the movie, Heathers.
91. I am thankful for tiramisu.
92. I am thankful for crème brule.
93. I am thankful for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
94. I am thankful for Mutts comics.
95. I am thankful that I grew up when Bloom County was what the Daily Show is now – cutting edge political commentary.
96. I am thankful for chocolate milk.
97. I am thankful for Laumeier Sculpture Park.
98. I am thankful for Nordstrom’s in St. Louis.
99. I am thankful for the cheesecake selection at The Cheesecake Factory.
100. I am thankful for you.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Neither Forgotten Nor Left Behind

I have been told recently, and by my husband no less, that I have been neglecting my blog. And he is so right. It's just been sheer laziness on my part... as well as lack of inspiration to write.

Now that the elections are over, it seems that the whole world is waiting with baited breath to see what Obama says in his Inaugural Address. I watch with rapt attention to his Cabinet choices on the news, but really -- it feels like the world breathed a sigh of relief, but is still stuck in a holding pattern.

My life right now is just not a huge source of inspiration for blog fodder... or the fiction writing I plug away at. I look for jobs, I sometimes interview, I hear great feedback from the interview... and only occasionally do I get an offer. Most of the time, insurance is not offered. And almost all of the time the pay stinks. But, stinky pay with benefits is better than what I'm pulling in right now -- diddly over squat.

The rest of my time is filled with awkward attempts at writing, some bursts of true inspiration in said writing, knitting, home "stuff" (meaning... cleaning, decorating, purging, etc.), and TV watching.

Exciting stuff, I know.

And it's not like I'm bitter or doing the self-pity thing -- it's just the way things are right now. I feel boring, and thus not inspired to post anything.

But maybe putting this post up will trigger more. Heck, at the very least, I should post pictures and jokes and antecedents of interest. Maybe a New Year's Resolution early?

Well, thank you, faithful reader, for putting up with my writing droughts. Can't promise there won't be more, but I have no abandoned my writing endeavors.

They're just few and far between. But not gone and forgotten.

Neither are you.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Day After

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

These words, written by Langston Hughes in 1951 and used by Lorraine Hansberry to title her 1959 play -- A Raisin in the Sun (which won the New York Dram Critics' Circle Award for best play of the year... and happened to be the first drama by a black woman to be produced on Broadway) -- seemed to reflect perfectly the American apathy for the political system as well as the plight of their fellow man.

For the past forty years, the electric moment of a leader capturing the collective imagination of the country... world... has floundered. After the deaths of Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has managed to impassion the American public? Bill Clinton sparked some interest -- I count myself as one of his disciples -- but his private life too often outshone his public life.

But last night, the world changed. People across the world wanted to be an American once again. For too long, our country was the laughingstock of not only the free world, but of all countries.

And the American people spoke, loud and clear. Sometimes after standing in line for hours upon hours.

It was the first time ever in our collective memory that not only did the 18-29 demographic vote in force, but that everyone came out to cast their ballot. An estimated 133 MILLION people proudly stated who they wanted as President. A record turnout.

And a victor rose from the ashes of our broken economy and staggering unemployment rate.

Barack Obama.

We shall see where he leads us. But if the enthusiasm, tangible even through my television screen, of our country is any indication, then I think that we are in for a wild -- and productive -- four years. We'll see how it goes for eight. No sense getting ahead of ourselves just yet, okay?

Another poem by Langston Hughes I think is more appropriate for the results of last night's election results.

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Regardless of how you felt going into the primaries, of how you felt going to the polls today, you have to admit that what we witnessed tonight is nothing short of amazing. I still have chills. Tears of joy have been spilled. Bruises pepper my arms as I sat with awe and disbelief that the American people rose up as a whole (338 electoral votes versus 156 as of this writing) to accept a man who many never thought would be elected, regardless of his abilities.

Regardless of the fact that he's half white.

It's the other half that was the stumbling block.

Who would have thought that a... gasp!... black man could become the leader of the greatest land in the world?

Well, I did, but that's beside the point.

I knew that my fellow Americans were smart enough. However, prejudice still permeates that fabric of our lives. These past months it occurred to me more than once that there are citizens -- many of them -- that saw lynchings. It wasn't that long ago. So I thought that we might get close, but miss the mark.

However, as each day of the election ticked away closer to November 4th, I hoped -- prayed -- that my fellow Americans would make the right, not white, choice.

And they did.

Finally, a candidate that is judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character.

Well done.

Welcome to a new America. Lead by President Obama, 44th President of the United States of America. The UNITED States of America.

So glad to be here.

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On The Right Side of History?

Not exactly sure why she's using the butt of a pistol to hammer the nail, but it seems as good a use as any for a weapon.

I'll keep my political opinions to myself today -- those who know me know how I'll vote and those who don't... well, I imagine that it's too late to sway you to my camp.

All I will say is that history will be made today and if you can't feel the tangible excitement of the American people, get thee to a voting poll!

As I shared with my Aunt Fran, as I watch CNN, I'm sitting here realizing that if Mom was still around, I have no doubt that she'd go out and vote today. After her strokes, she never went to the polls because of her Crohn's disease and her embarrassment in her inability to read. But I can so imagine her sitting in her wheelchair, clutching a signed voter card in lieu of a current driver's license or state ID, and asking someone to read her the candidates names. And knowing that she'd feel today too an important day to miss, made me want to share my... epiphany, thoughts, imagination?... with you.

And those who knew her would know that the idea of an African-American President probably would reduce her to tears. That the idea of an American that could have changed so drastically in fifty, sixty years would force her to face her demons and cast her ballot because of one man's ability to overcome adversity and unite not only a political party, but the American people. She may not have witnessed any lynchings, but I know Mom was deeply affected by prejudice. And while she did what she could to fight it, this would the her biggest contribution to the cause.

As I said, I won't tell you how to vote, but I will tell you not to skip the long lines at the polls because "one vote won't make a difference." It is our Constitutional right to be heard and dammit, use your voice!

So go vote already!

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Monday, October 27, 2008

I think Keith Olbermann is my newest crush...

Okay, while I don't agree with everything he says, I agree with enough of his rant -- and he does give good rant -- that I think I might swoon. I have tried to bite my tongue about politics on this site, although most people who talk to me on a semi-regular basis know who I'm rooting for and why. Keith just says it better than I do...

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Today is World Organ Donations Day. Why don't you celebrate by signing the back of your Driver's License and encouraging others to do the same? After all, once you're done using them, it doesn't mean others can't. I mean, aren't we all striving for immortality? Well, here's your chance!

Celebrate the gift of life. Pass it on!

(P.S. Miss you Mom!)

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Taking Names Too!

For M.

It made me think of you...

Because if anybody is gonna kick cancer's ass, it's gonna be you!

Found today on PostSecret.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Union Jacked?

Cheating I know, but I find this article very timely and interesting. Namely, because it affects Barry and his employment status.

I implore you, if you read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, please discontinue doing so. Not only are they trying to break the unions within the newspaper industry, but if that isn't something that sways you one way or another, keep in mind that they are outsourcing jobs to India.

I would love to get into some of the specifics, but I don't want to jeopardize anything. So read, ask me whatever you like, and I'll be happy to answer as much as Barry feels comfortable with me responding. Until then, feel free to read between the lines.

The St. Louis Newspaper Guild filed a grievance Thursday, Oct. 2, on behalf of four Post-Dispatch newsroom employees laid off by the company in violation of seniority provisions of the contract. We hope all of you understand how important it is that we win our fight to uphold contractual rights.

Under our contract, layoffs must be made in inverse order of seniority, within the affected job classification within the affected department (Article XIV, Sec. 2). In the layoffs Sept. 26, the affected job classifications were “Reporter” and “Copy Editor.” The department involved was the Editorial/News Department. (Job classifications are listed in the contract in Article V, Sec. 6. A job classification is not necessarily the same as a job title. Departments are listed in the Preamble of the contract.) In its illegal action, the Post bypassed eight reporters with less seniority than the two reporters laid off, and one or more copy editors with less seniority than the two copy editors laid off.

In defending the four layoffs, Astrid Garcia, vice president of human resources at the Post, has cited an exception in Article XIV, Sec. 2 (paragraph 2) , which says employees on salary schedule A “whose services are individually of major importance” to the Post shall not be dismissed because of low seniority. Garcia contends that this exception allowed the Post to leapfrog over reporters and copy editors with lower seniority becaused the bypassed employees had special skils or expertise. For example, she claims that the Post is allowed to bypass business reporters with low seniority because they know how to read and analyze earnings reports. Among employees skipped over were a political reporter as well as enviiromental and science writers.

The exception Garcia cites was in no way intended to allow the company to bypass employees who have low seniority simply because those employees have experience in an area that the editors deem to be of importance. Competent reporters who have been covering one beat well can learn how to develop sources and acquire the knowledge to cover another beat well. Cometent copy editors who are needed to perform a certain page design or editing task can be trained in that new task.

In her misreading of the contract, Garcia ignored the intent of of the seniority exception, which has the very narrow aim of protecting writers with a name and a following - for instance, high-visibility columnists with a wide readership. Under labor law, the intent of contract language has as much weight as the actual language and Garcia’s decision to ignore the intent is illegal. We have informed her of her error, but she is ignoring us. If her decision stands, Guild members — even those with 20 or 30 years experience — have no meaningful seniority protection under our contract.

The Guild is in the unenviable position of demanding that the company uphold the contract knowing that our success would mean four other people are laid off instead. The Guild doesn’t want anyone laid off and our bargaining team fourght hard during the recent negotiations to prevent payoffs. We weren’t able to do that. Now, we have to insist that seniority be folowed, or else the contract means nothing. Seniority rights are an impartial way to protect employees from the biases of current and future bosses. And those rights are clearly in our contract; if the Post is allowed to ignore them, there’s nothing to stop Garcia from conveniently deciding there are loopholes in other contract provisions - and before you know it, our salaries are cut or someone’s fired without cause.

We will be calling on you for support as we push to have our grievance sustained and our four employees brought back to work. Please stand ready to join with us in the effort to restore and protect our rights. With our contract under assault, unity is needed now more than ever.
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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Swept Away

Alright. So it seems that my father's 'connections' in the afterlife fell through. The poor Cubbies are just that yet again -- the poor Cubs. Swept by the Dodgers, the lovable losers were sent packing.

Yet again, fans will be saying to one another, "There's always next year!"

And so another chapter is closed, indeed dashing the hopes of the whole north side of Chicago. Who ya just gotta feel a little bad for. I mean, they ain't Red Sox fans. C'mon!

My Dad had a shirt that said "If It Takes Forever."

At this rate, it just might.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

No Lead Balloons That Night!

Okay, as you can tell from my lack of posting – and Lainey’s face sitting at the top of the page for so long – that I fell into a funk. A deep, dark funk.

And the deeper the funk, the more OCD I get. Facebook has taken up an absolutely inordinate amount of time. So has my search for the perfect truths and dares for the game Truth or Dare.

(Sorry Tom. You mentioned it from Matt and Laurel's party, and it manifested into something much more interesting to me over the weekend than it should have been. Think I nipped in the bud.)

I’m trying to pretend the funk doesn’t exist. Call it Scarlett O’Hara syndrome… tomorrow is another day.

But I did make some effort to be productive. In fact, part of my attempts to pretend that everything is okay was an excursion to the Balloon Glow in Forest Park on Friday night. Tom and I had been planning on going for a small handful of weeks, but at the last minute Barry joined us. We all had a blast.

(Get it? Hot air balloon humor, folks!)

There isn’t much to tell about a balloon glow. Once it starts getting dark, the balloon owners and/or operators illuminate the balloons, without actually taking off. Every few minutes, a horn goes off – increasing in frequency the darker it gets.

Afterwards, there was fireworks. Normally a sucker for a good explosion display, I agreed with the guys that it was kinda lame. So off for ice cream!

All in all, it was the perfect Friday night. The weather was wonderful, the company was perfect, the event was practically flawless. And ice cream is the perfect way to top any evening? Who could have asked for anything more?

Well, actually, I could use a few more days/nights like that. Just a few.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Day After...

...sucks even worse than yesterday. Poor Lance is looking around for his sister. Trying to keep us distracted is proving difficult as no one slept well last night.

These pictures were taken Tuesday. In a rare moment of sweetness, Lainey gave me kisses -- and even posed pretty for Barry.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

And 5 Suddenly Became 4...

I put my dog down this evening. I can’t think of a single thing worse than making the decision to end your pet’s life. And while I thought I would hate myself for it, I feel surprisingly guilt-free.

Lainey came into my life in August of 2001, right on the heels of my mother’s passing. I wanted to bring my Dad home from the nursing home, but dog, Lance, hated my father. Hate might be too strong of a word, but Lance was shy and timid – very much a victim of abuse – and my Dad was loud and made sudden movements. So I figured a buddy for Lance who liked my Dad would be a perfect addition to the family.

Only thing was, Dad didn’t do well at home. He was more incontinent and less able to ambulate than I thought. But I had already made the adoption. Lainey, the scared little Border Collie with a limp, who hid in the back to the cage in sheer terror of the other barking dogs, was now mine.

Lainey adored my father. It could be because she only saw him sporadically. She loved everyone she met. It was after she got to know them that the affection sometimes turned to loathing. On a daily basis, it might have been different with my Dad. I know that soon after becoming Lance’s sister, the bloom soon was off the rose between Lainey and I.

I’ll spare you all the details, but a lot of days dealt with Lainey biting me. Biting Barry. Biting both of us. One moment she would be happy and content, then next she would be snarling and snapping. Seven years of this went on. I hired behaviorists. We went to obedience classes. I took her places. I tried brushing her. I used T-Touch techniques to soothe her. Nothing lasted for long.

We had some fun. No one could look as cute as Lainey did… when she wanted to. Not even Lance, who is cuteness personified. Maybe she was so gosh darn cute when she wanted to be because Barry and I were never used to it. We had some adventures. Going to the park at the end of the street. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race. The Easter car show in the Muny parking lot the day my Dad died. Visiting our friends Paul and Kim (Lainey was going to take Paul away from Kim and go to the Caribbean, where she was going to dump his ass once they hit the beach.) Picking out dog treats at Petsmart.

I don’t know what her life was like before I took her in. One leg, her right hind leg, was shorter than the rest because she had been hit by a car as a puppy. The ball part of her ball and socket joint had been surgically removed, a common practice in dog versus vehicle accidents. She was covered in white paint when I adopted her. She used to get out of the backyard whenever she could, hightailing it for the creek behind the house and making her way up to the park.

I suppose if one wanted to analyze my reasons for adopting Lainey – and Pudge and Gana soon after – it had everything to do with the loss of my family. Yes, Dad was still alive at the time, but he wasn’t the guy that I knew and loved. I needed to fill the hole in my heart. Very much the symptoms of a hoarder, and I was aware even at the time that I had the makings of one. But soon after Lainey showed her true colors, I realized that I would keep making the same mistake over and over again, adopting the wrong pet for the wrong reasons. They had to pick me as much as I picked them. And Lainey certainly never picked me. It was obvious even at the end.

And while I don’t think that I failed her, I do have to question whether I could have done more. I know I did so much more – and put up with so much more – than just about any person should have to. But knowing that I have the best dog I’ll ever meet – Lance – makes me wonder how Lainey ended up so wrong. I tried, God knows I tried. But it feels like it wasn’t enough. Even though I put up with more than any normal person would put up with. God also knows how she would have ended up if someone else had adopted her. Certainly no one else would have put up with her as long as I did. So she had a good run.

So maybe guilt-free is misleading. I feel bad. Horribly bad. But short of letting her continue to bite me – and making me feel sort of like a battered spouse in the process – I know I did the right thing. Even if it sucked worse than I could have imagined. She was healthy – physically at least – so every atom in my body is screaming that this was the wrong thing to do. But my heart feels lighter. As scary as that sounds, I feel somewhat liberated.

There is no doubt that I loved Lainy, my “little girl.” My “pretty girl.” I just didn’t know how much I loved her until now.

Elaine “Lainey” Anne Poynton
February 12, 1999 – September 17, 2008

Rest in Peace my darling dog. Goodness knows you never got it in life.
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From Beauty Contestant to Contest Winner?

Funniest five words I've heard in a long time...

"Did she win a contest?"
~Jon Stewart commenting on Sarah Palin's remarks about the economic crisis

I think if I had been drinking milk, it would have shot out my nose. God bless Jon Stewart and his dry, deadpan, sarcastic sense of humor. And shame on me for not watching him more often. I am just so glad I tuned in last night!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

A Case of Neglect -- Of My Blog

I have been neglecting my blog of late, something one of my friends brought to my attention LAST weekend by saying it was sparse. I had some exciting adventures that weekend and the most recent, of which I will have to write about some other time.

But in light of the rising gas costs on the heels of Hurricane Ike et al, I thought this picture was rather appropriate.

There was a time, not so very long ago, when I was excited when gas dipped below $2 a gallon. I think those days are long gone, despite all the political promises. I think that if they ever dip that low again, everyone's reaction would be like the tagline on the picture.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

At the Ol' Ballgame

I’ve been thinking a lot about my parents lately. I suppose that it’s only natural this time of year. Dad’s birthday was not that long ago and before that was the anniversary of my mother’s passing. With some birthdays coming up – my husband’s, my friend Cara’s (who knew my parents from the time we were both 9), mine – as well as my parent’s wedding anniversary on October 1st, how can I not reflect?

When I woke up this morning, I hopped on the internet and read the headlines on CNN, KSDK and the Post-Dispatch’s websites. I always skim and then go back later… unless something really catches my eye. One of the headlines on STLtoday pulled me in.

Today is the 10th anniversary of Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ home run record of 61 in a single season.

Dad was a Cubs fan through and through. And that’s actually what led us down a strange and wonderful experience. Not the Cards, but his beloved Cubbies. He had wanted to see them play the Cards at Busch in July, but the series was sold out. Although a bit disgruntled, he settled for seats during the Cubs return trip in September.

I’ll admit that I hold players of sports up to a high level of conduct. They get paid big bucks to play a game for their career. I know it takes a toll on their bodies, but they are supposed to be playing for the love of the game. Players’ strikes in any profession leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And while I normally support anyone who belongs to a union and who feels they are being poorly treated, I want an effort to be made to reach an agreement before the contract is up. Doesn’t have to happen before the expiration date, but waiting until the contract has expired is just silliness.

Hence why I am still boycotting hockey. Maybe someday I’ll go back to the sport, but it’s going to take some doing.

It was the rivalry – the supposedly friendly rivalry – between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire that brought a lot of fans back to baseball. I was one of them. The baseball strike in 1994 – and the resulting lockout – had left a bad taste in my mouth, but the Sosa-McGwire march towards the home run record set the world on fire. Would the record be broken? Which one would do it? Were they really that friendly with one another or was it just for the cameras?

Home run mania took over St. Louis and Chicago… and the rest of the country I’m sure. Baseball was back to what it always should have been – the love of the game. There was no trash talk between the two most likely successors to the home run crown. Sosa and McGwire said nothing but glowing remarks about each other and the late Roger Maris, something that the world seemed to realize that was late coming, but oh so deserving. And the fans filled the stadiums in droves. The great American pastime was back and the boys of summer had two marquee players. Who kept hammering them over the back wall and out of ballparks across the country.

As August began to slide into September, I joked that I was going to see the record get broken. Surprisingly, not a single soul believed me. In fact, the more people told that I wouldn’t, the more I believed that I would. After all, I was a huge Cards fan and Dad was a die-hard Cubs fan. What was more fitting?

September 8, 1998. Summer was wrapping up. Baseball season was winding down, but the level of excitement in the stadium was palpable. McGwire had tied the record of 61 the day before in an oh so fitting tribute on his dad’s 61st birthday. In a fairy tale for sports fans, could this script play out any differently? Of course the record was going to be broken in St. Louis. We are the best fans in baseball after all.

And McGwire did.

And I was there.

Okay, so I saw it on the TV while I waited in line to get my Dad a hot dog, but dammit – I was there!

Time can cloud memories and change facts, but I remember having a game plan when we got to the game – get all the food and drink we wanted before the game started because we weren’t going to move until it ended.

Except Dad wasn’t hungry when we got there.

He got hungry sometime in the 3rd inning. Dad hadn’t fallen ill yet in those days, but he still wasn’t as strong as he could have been, so I reluctantly offered to go for him. Which he gratefully accepted. And I was ever so pissed about. They have beer and soda vendors at the ballpark. Why the hell don’t they have hot dog vendors?

It’s a moot point now. I went back to my seat with his hot dog, tossed it on Dad’s lap and proceeded to pout. We fought, we made up and Dad got to see something magical before his body and mind started to betray him. And I made it just as all the festivities began. Heck, I probably saw it better on TV than if I had actually been in my seat. It all ended well.

And while I know that both McGwire and Sosa juiced, something that I think is heinous and unforgivable, knowing that doesn’t diminish the impact of knowing that I got to see the game with my Dad. I went to a lot of games with my Dad over the years, and they all have sort of blended together, but that day… that day we got something that brought Dad to the sport in the first place – and showed me a bit of insight into my father – the pure love of the game.

Allegations and Congressional meetings have stolen some of the thunder of my return to baseball games, but walking out of the stadium with my father that day is something I’ll regale to my kids someday although I’ll fall short on words to explain how special it was.

Kinda like right not.

But although the world cheered, it was a moment in my life with my father that stood out. Yeah, McGwire broke the record, but I couldn’t have witnessed it with anyone else. Because if it wasn’t for my Dad’s love of the game, I don’t think I would be a baseball fan. He tried to force football on me – a sport I came to on my own – but baseball was something more transcendental.

I got it that day.

And seeing my Dad as more than just my Dad, but rather the child that played his beloved game for the sheer adoration of the sport was something that I hold close to my heart.

And a small aside, but still a baseball related note… I know the Cards are out of the running in the playoffs. I’m fairly certain that statistically they can’t even make it for a wild card spot.

But the Cubs… the Cubs are having a stellar season. I follow my Cards during the season pretty religiously, but only as to where they are in the standings compared to other teams. I don’t do individual stats of players. I don’t follow other teams. I’m a fan, but not a fanatic.

However, it’s impossible for those who follow baseball not to take note of the Cubs. The laughing stock of the National League – of all of baseball – they are riding a wave of incredibility. Who woulda thunk?

I, for one, hope that they go all the way to clinch the World Series.

And I know that my Dad will be somewhere – up, down, somewhere that none of us know about – and he’ll be dancing a jig, singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame,’ and crying tears of joy.

If they make it, I know Dad will have had something to do with it. I just know.

And so I wear one of his most prized t-shirts to bed tonight. His Cubs shirt that says ‘If It Takes Forever.’ Some might say that I’m a traitor for not better supporting my team. I say, blood runs deeper and that although he might be gone, my Dad’s reach is still strong.

I had hoped the Cubs would do it the season my Dad would pass away. Close, but not quite. I just think that it ended up taking my Dad a little bit longer in the haggling behind the scenes.

Dad always did like to talk. A lot. Maybe he just finished up his negotiations.

Go Cubbies!
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Walking the Plank off His Political Platform?

I happened upon this interview with John McCain in Time magazine. (To give credit where credit is due, I think Christopher Morris is the interviewer, but that might be for the photo credit in the online article.) And while I have never been McCain's biggest fan, I always admired his way of handling things. No bullshit, tell it like it is kind of talk. However, if this interview is any indication of things to come, McCain has become what he said he hated the most -- he's a part of the bureaucratic machine in Washington, spitting out soundbites and back-peddling away from topics he once embraced with vigor.

For years, John McCain's marathon bull sessions with reporters were more than a means of delivering a message; they were the message. McCain proudly, flagrantly refused direction from handlers, rarely dodged tough questions and considered those who did wimps and frauds. The style told voters that he was unafraid, that he had nothing to hide and that what you see is what you get. "Anything you want to talk about," he promised reporters aboard the Straight Talk Express in Iowa back in March 2007. "One of the fundamental principles of the bus is that there is no such thing as a dumb question." When asked if he would keep the straight talk coming, McCain replied, "You think I could survive if I didn't? We'd never be forgiven ... I'd have to hire a food taster, somebody to start my car in the morning." Even after he won the GOP nomination, he demanded that his new campaign plane be configured to include a sofa up front so he could re-create the Straight Talk Express at 30,000 ft.

Sticking to the old formula seemed like a good idea. But with the press focused on Obama, McCain got attention only when he slipped up during one of his patented freewheeling encounters with reporters. And so in July, the campaign decided to clamp down on the candidate. Open-ended question time was reduced to almost nothing, and the famously unscripted McCain began heeding his talking points, even as his aides maintained he missed the old informality.

And so when TIME's James Carney and Michael Scherer were invited to the front of McCain's plane recently for an interview, they were ushered forward, past the curtain that now separates reporters from the candidate, past the sofa that was designed for his gabfests with the press and taken straight to the candidate's seat. McCain at first seemed happy enough to do the interview. But his mood quickly soured. The McCain on display in the 24-minute interview was prickly, at times abrasive, and determined not to stray off message. An excerpt:

What do you want voters to know coming out of the Republican Convention — about you, about your candidacy?

I'm prepared to be President of the United States, and I'll put my country first.

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?

Read it in my books.

I've read your books.
No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?

I defined it in five books. Read my books.

[Your] campaign today is more disciplined, more traditional, more aggressive. From your point of view, why the change?
I will do as much as we possibly can do to provide as much access to the press as possible.

But beyond the press, sir, just in terms of ...
I think we're running a fine campaign, and this is where we are.

Do you miss the old way of doing it?
I don't know what you're talking about.

Really? Come on, Senator.
I'll provide as much access as possible ...

In 2000, after the primaries, you went back to South Carolina to talk about what you felt was a mistake you had made on the Confederate flag. Is there anything so far about this campaign that you wish you could take back or you might revisit when it's over?

[Does not answer.]

Do I know you? [Says with a laugh.]

[Long pause.] I'm very happy with the way our campaign has been conducted, and I am very pleased and humbled to have the nomination of the Republican Party.

You do acknowledge there was a change in the campaign, in the way you had run the campaign?
[Shakes his head.]

You don't acknowledge that? O.K., when your aides came to you and you decided, having been attacked by Barack Obama, to run some of those ads, was there a debate?

The campaign responded as planned.

Jumping around a bit: in your books, you've talked about what it was like to go through the Keating Five experience, and you've been quoted as saying it was one of the worst experiences of your life. Someone else quoted you as saying it was even worse than being a POW ...
That's another one of those statements made 17 or 18 years ago which was out of the context of the conversation I was having. Of course the worst, the toughest experience of my life was being imprisoned, so people can pluck phrases from 17 or 18 years ago ...

I wasn't suggesting it as a negative thing. I was just saying that ...
I'm just suggesting it was taken out of context. I understand how comments are taken out of context from time to time. But obviously, the toughest time of my life, physically and [in] every other way, would be the time that I almost died in prison camp. And I think most Americans understand that.

How different are you from President Bush? Are you in step with your party? Are you independent from your party?
My record shows that I have put my country first and I follow the philosophy and traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Sometimes that is not in keeping with the present Administration or my colleagues, but I've always put my country first, whether it's saying I didn't support the decision to go to Lebanon or my fighting against the corruption in Washington or out-of-control pork-barrel spending, which has led to members of Congress residing in federal prison. So I've always stood up for a set of principles and a philosophy that I think have been pretty consistent over the years.

Your tougher line on Russia, which predated [the Russian invasion of Georgia], now to many looks prescient. Others say it's indicative of a belligerent approach to foreign policy that would perhaps further exacerbate the tensions being created with our allies and others around the world under the Bush Administration. How do you respond to that critique?
Well, it reminds me of some of the arguments we went through when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States. I think Russian behavior has been very clear, and I've pointed it out for quite a period of time, and the chronicle of their actions has been well known since President [Vladimir] Putin came to power, and I believe that it's very important that Russia behave in a manner befitting a very strong nation. They're not doing so at this time, so therefore I will criticize and in some cases — in the case of the aggression against Georgia — condemn them.

You were a very enthusiastic supporter of the invasion of Iraq and, in the early stages, of the Bush Administration's handling of the war. Are those judgments you'd like to revisit?
Well, my record is clear. I believe that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein. I believe it's clear that he had every intention to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. I can only imagine what Saddam Hussein would be doing with the wealth he would acquire with oil at $110 and $120 a barrel. I was one of the first to point out the failure of strategy in Iraq under [former Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld. I was criticized for being disloyal to the Republicans and the President. I was the first to say I would lose a campaign rather than lose a war. I supported the surge. No observer over the last two years would say the surge hasn't succeeded. I believe we did the right thing.

A lot of people know about your service from your books, but most people don't know that you have two sons currently in the military. Can you describe what it means to have Jack and Jimmy in uniform?
We don't discuss our sons.
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Me Thinks I See My Father

As I watched the Democratic National Convention last night, I smiled at the awe and adoration the different candidates’ children bestowed upon them. I was always proud of my parents. My mother overcame terrible illness to become the best mother a girl could ever ask for. And my father… he adored me completely and totally. And while he sometimes missed the mark in his over-protectiveness, I knew that it wasn’t for lack of caring. And I am very lucky in that he not only left a legacy of love, but also a legacy of physical reminders by means of his profession. Dad was an aerospace engineer whose mark today can still be seen.

Several years ago, I was in Los Angeles and saw a screening of Black Hawk Down. Certainly not a feel good movie, but one that everyone needs to see. After the helicopter crashed – hence the title of the movie – my friend whispered in my ear, Why didn’t the helicopter explode?

I knew the answer to this! Despite the somber mood of the film, I beamed at my friend and cheerfully told him – because of my Dad!

My Dad designed crash-worthy fuel systems for the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters when he worked at Army Aviation. His team also designed the seats so that when there might be a crash, the passengers don’t end up with broken backs. I wish I knew more about what else they might have worked on with the Army. Not so I could brag on him, but so that I know a little bit more about his legacy.

My Dad had a tendency to talk. A lot. Whether or not I – or whoever was in earshot – was able or willing to listen.

I wish I had listened more.

Today would have been my father’s 74th birthday. And as an ode to my Dad, I thought I’d trot out some of his favorite poems.

My Dad was rather puritanical during my growing up, but his taste in rhymes was not. I think I would have rather heard bawdy limericks than this favorite of his that, if I remember correctly, he read in a rest stop on his move out to Santa Monica.

Well here's to the fool who writes on shit house walls
May he roll his shit into little balls...
And he who reads these words of wit
Should eat those little balls of shit.

He loved it! I can still see him shaking with laughter as he recited the words. It never got old to him.

And no, I did not memorize the poem. Behold the power of the internet. Apparently those little verses made quite a few appearances in bathrooms across the country – even the world.

Another poem, this one my father swore up and down that he and his friends composed, was of a more… classic theme. A tale as old as time, you might say. However, I didn’t believe him them and, once I found it on the internet, I realized that I was unable to find the author, so who knows…?

In days of old, when men were bold
And women not particular,
They lined them up against the wall
And screwed them perpendicular.

Yup, my Dad was a prude for all intents and purposes, but his tastes in verse ran a little more blue.

When I looked up the prose, I happened upon other versions. I figured that I found ‘em, so I might as well share ‘em… despite my father never mentioning them.

In days of old, when knights were bold
And rubbers were not invented,
They would wrap a sock around their cock
And babies were prevented

In day of old, when knights were bold
And paper not invented,
They used tufts of grass to wipe their ass
And were very well contented.

In days of old, when men were bold
And cast-iron trousers wore,
They lived in peace, for then a crease
Would last ten years or more.

In the days of old, when the knights were bold
and the women chased the men
The men like fools got out their tools
and chased them back again.

In days of old when knights were bold,
And cared not for such trifles,
They nailed their balls upon the walls,
and shot at them with rifles.

In days of old, when men were bold
And toilets weren't invented,
They laid their loads upon the roads
And walked away contented.

In days of old when knights were bold
And penicillin wasn't invented,
Venereal drips ran down from their hips
And their toes were all cemented.

Does anyone wonder why I turned out the way I did after these?
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hit the Nail on the Head

Last Wednesday, I, along with Tom, and about 7,500 other fans, spent the evening at Scottrade Center listening to the rantings, fumings and bitter tirades of my high school hero, Trent Reznor – and company – for nearly two and a half hours. Despite the years since Nine Inch Nails hit the music bins (nearly twenty!), they still sound as good – if not better – than ever.

Out of all the albums I have bought in my years – and there have been well over a thousand, maybe even two – the only one I can remember specifics on is Pretty Hate Machine, Nine Inch Nails’ inaugural album. March 1989. It had come out the month before and was unlike anything I had ever heard before. Nothing else I have bought has impacted me as greatly.

Tom and I saw NIN play in November 2006 (or was it 2005?) from the floor, but this time we were in the stands. I know I need to lose some weight, but those seats are made for midgets. Plain and simple. I felt bad that Tom had to fold his frame into those seats, his knees pressing against the seatback in front of him. But I was stuck between two guys who would have benefitted from me sitting elsewhere so they could have my legroom. Next time, we promised each other, box seats. Not only more room, but away from the odious odors of the unwashed (and undeoderized) masses.

But to pass the time until the opening band started, we commented, as did others around us, that since Trent got clean (which we applauded, by the way), his music has lost some of its edge. Instead of anger and frustration, it seems like he’s… trying to whine. Life is good for him and yet his music is still trying to pretend that it isn’t. So instead of blatant hostility, Trent’s – dare I say it – bellyaching.

While I don’t want him to go back on the stuff, Trent somehow needs to be less happy. Because he’s just reachin’ now. And that ain’t cool.

The opening band sucked. It wasn’t that they were inherently bad. It was just that they weren’t good. Every single song sounded like the one before it. And since we saw Queens of the Stone Age last time, standards were set high. And were so not met.

But then…

(Might as well insert contented sigh here.)

Yes, the show was awesome. It was instant frenzy from the start. It was almost everything I wanted it to be (I think the last show was better, but not by much.) He started off with songs from his latest, The Slip, and it was impossible not to get sucked up in the madness.

Then on to a song that I knew. March of the Pigs from the Downward Spiral. Gads, I remember introducing people to the ‘World According to Trent’ in college almost fifteen years ago. Hearing Tom behind me sing along to March of the Pigs was especially amusing. Especially when I called him on it and he had no idea that he was even doing it. I was just surprised that I could hear him above the rest of the crowd.

By the time he finished the song, Trent was soaking wet. I knew there was no way he would wear a long sleeve, botton down shirt all night long. And not that I wasn’t appreciating how nicely it clinged. I was just anticipating the ‘gun show’ that was about to happen.

Pardon me while I wax poetic about the shedding of the burgundy dress shirt. If memory serves me right, he wore a similar shirt when I saw him last time. And a few songs into the concert, the shirt came off revealing a black tank… covering a very well toned body. I was not that lucky this time. It was a black t-shirt.

Which still wasn’t a bad view. But there are very few men who are not vastly improved by wearing a black tank top. Kinda like women’s legs in a pair of black stockings. Although the guy sitting in the row behind me would be an exception to BOTH rules. It was like watching a horrible car accident. And it didn’t help matters any that he kept turning away from the stage, essentially doing a 180 away from Trent, and would smile at me. I pray that he was making eyes at someone else, but the gross feeling remains.

Mid-concert, there was a musical interlude involving Trent playing a xylophone. A lot of critics loved the instrumental album Ghosts I-IV, but I want screaming bitterness. It just seemed to bring the show to a screaming halt. It took a while for the momentum to start up again.

The encore was amazingly long. Maybe too long. But he played Hurt, which every freakin’ person in the place felt compelled to sing along with. I’ll sing along at a concert. But generally out loud. People pay a lot of money to hear a musician – not me – sing. But, I suppose, it is one of those songs that BEGS to be sung along with.

Some of the songs from Year Zero and The Slip were vastly improved by being performed live. Others were just as bad as the album versions. But I was happy with the attempts, I must admit. Can’t win ‘em all, but dammit, Trent put in some serious effort that night.

I missed out on my favorite Nine Inch Nails song live – most notably Sin. Not a fan of the album version since I heard what it could turn into before an audience. Maybe I’ll start to feel the same way about songs from Year Zero and The Slip. But I did get Terrible Lie, Head Like a Hole, Closer, Wish, and Gave Up.

And as Trent said that night during his encore, the first time he addressed the audience, he was having one of those days when everybody was against him every second of the day – but his time on stage were the two best hours of his day.

Mine, too.
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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Congratulations! It's a Girl!

After years of speculation, I was told significant news last night. My cat, Pudge, had to go to the vet. Sneezing, raspy breath, watery puffy eyes for more than 24 hours started to freak me out. I'm still waiting on the urine and bloodwork to collaborate the x-rays showing possible pneumonia. My poor kitty feels so bad and doesn't understand why!

But in a strange twist of fate, my cat went into the vet's office one gender and came out another. While Dr. Kee was checking Pudge out, I asked her to verify Pudge's gender. A tabby/white, Pudge is mix of colors. Many thought it could be possible, if not probable, but the cage card when I adopted the former Nikzo, soon renamed Excalibur, shorted to Callah, temporarily called Jabba the Kitty, now answering to Pudge said 'N' under sex. Neutered. Not 'S' for spayed.

However, in the words of the vet yesterday, my "cat has a vulva."

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Gone, but not Forgotten

My mother died seven years ago today. Not a day goes by that my heart doesn’t ache from the loneliness of missing her. Some days are worse than others.

Today is one of those days.

Last night I dreamed about her. I had all sorts of odd little dreams flutter through my mind, but I remember that I was dreaming that I had double-booked a weekend and Mom wanted me to go into another room with her to sort things out. Since we were both already together in a different room, I wasn’t sure why we needed to relocate and told her that repeatedly. But she was emphatic.

That was my mother for you. Things might not always make sense, but in the end one usually saw the reasons for her actions. Not always, but generally there was a method to her madness.

I talk about her often, and think about her ten times that, but I’m always concerned that I’m going to martyrize Mom. She had a tough lot in life and never complained about it in front of me. I suppose that’s one reason why I have no patience for people who complain and don’t do anything to correct their lot in life. Its fine to be in the pity pot, but don’t float in it forever. Tread water, then get out.

I’m floating in the pity pot right now, but I’m allowed that today.

I also have no sympathy for people who blame others for their problems. It won’t make them go away, so accept that life sucks and then do what you can to make it better for yourself. Mom rolled like that. Can’t say that I always do, but I try.

She was 63-years-old. Way too young. She had skipped her first day of dialysis ever, over five years of three times a week treatments. Staff at the center called her at lunch time to rib her about being a slacker. Later, I was told she took it in stride and teased back. I got home from work around 5:30. It was a Wednesday. She was on the couch. It had to have happened sometime after she got off the phone. I like to think that she fell asleep watching bad TV. After all she had been through, going to sleep and not waking up would have been the kindest thing ever.

My mother was gorgeous. A dyed-in-the-wool good-looking gal. I look a lot like her, but there’s something less regal about me, less glamorous. Every single picture I have of Mom, from baby to adult, she’s posing. Not goofy expressions (far from it!) or exaggerated posture, but rather a secret – almost Mona Lisa-like – smile would curve her lips and her eyes, even as a small child, held a ‘come hither’ kind of gaze on the viewer of said picture.

She had poise.

Her sister, my Aunt Fran, told me that my Mom stayed with me for as long as I needed her. That she wouldn’t have left me if I still needed her. One could argue that they always need their mother, but it helped. Not a lot, but it made things easier to bear.

My Mom had two massive strokes when I was a toddler. I have a few vague memories of her prior to her illnesses – sitting at the counter at a soda fountain, riding in the front seat of her Impala as we were going to the Zoo so we could pet the goats despite it being cold out – but I do know that she was told in the hospital that she was going to die.

I was three. I got 23 bonus years with her. I told her often than I loved her, but I’m not sure she knew how much I cherished her. She often said that parents shouldn’t be their kids’ best friend. I couldn’t wrap my head around that at the time, but I get now that Mom was a parent first and foremost.

And she was a great parent. I couldn’t have asked for a better mother.

I only hope that I can be as good a person as she was, despite the gravity of her health coloring her life. I wish she could have written down her story. The people that she crossed paths with, the adventures she had, the ideas that danced in her mind… they were amazing tales. Someday I might write about them, but it would be a poor stand-in for what she could have done. Besides, she would have wanted me to have my own tales to write about. Mom was always looking forward. The past was something that prepared you for the future.

She protested Vietnam, but instead of sit-ins and whatnot, she got a job with the government to see if she could learn information from the inside. She was impassioned about the fight against AIDS, participating in Dining Out For Life, even if it was the only time she had left the house all year. When I told her I made friends who happened to be gay when I went away to college my freshman year, she cried over the fact that when she herself was a freshman, people couldn’t come out for fear of being hurt or even killed. She said I was brave for loving them for who they were, not what they were.

We fought. What parent doesn’t have children who protest being told what to do from time to time? But it was rarely and when I would apologize, she always laughed it off. The older I got, the more she realized that my arguments had valid points. The older I got, the more she became my best friend, despite her attempts to have it be otherwise.

I am so lucky. Our time was short. Our time was corrupted by the unfairness of her health. Our time was so much more special because of the barriers put before both of us – my youth and her inability to read or write. We made time count. We made time together special by taking it down to bare bones learning, entertainment, interaction…

I just wish I had learned to embrace Johnny Cash earlier. He was her favorite musician and I rebelled against her attempts to educate me to the ways of “the man in black” until college. She was so mad. All those wasted years! But better late than never, right?

Actually, I now know better. Embrace what you love. Who cares about what others think. Parents do sometimes know best. I listened, but now I wish I had listened better.

I was too confused in the days following her passing to know that I needed to have this poem recited – by me, by someone else – at her funeral, at her grave, somewhere, somehow. It was very comforting to me then. So I share it with you now:

~Emily Brontë

I do not weep; I would not weep;
Our mother needs no tears:
Dry thine eyes, too; 'tis vain to keep
This causeless grief for years.

What though her brow be changed and cold,
Her sweet eyes closed for ever?
What though the stone--the darksome mould
Our mortal bodies sever?

What though her hand smooth ne'er again
Those silken locks of thine?
Nor, through long hours of future pain,
Her kind face o'er thee shine?

Remember still, she is not dead;
She sees us, sister, now;
Laid, where her angel spirit fled,
'Mid heath and frozen snow.

And from that world of heavenly light
Will she not always bend
To guide us in our lifetime's night,
And guard us to the end?

Thou knowest she will; and thou mayst mourn
That we are left below:
But not that she can ne'er return
To share our earthly woe.

I love you Mom.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

Wet Willies

More pictures from my day trip with Tom on August 9th. This time, an old abandoned water slide out in Valley Park. I spent more than a few summer days out there, but as the years have rolled past, my bearings got way off track. Tom, who had never visited before, knew where things were better than I did. It's kinda like being spun around and around, then asked to walk in a straight line. You know where things are, but getting there is a little difficult.

In fact, Tom dived (Get it? Water humor! Okay, they can't all be funny.) right in while I hung back, taking it all in.

It was obvious that we were not the first people to visit since the park's closing. I think I read somewhere that kids like to skateboard in here, but from the amount of graffiti, who would have time? I'm not one who appreciates most spray paint art, but the sheer magnitude made the water park seem like an art installation.

Above are the steps to the 'fast' slide. Not my favorite run as it was over so quick. But would love to go pack and walk the length to see if it was indeed shorter in distance as well as time.

We didn't get very far, not even halfway down the slide, before Tom wanted to get his camera. Alas, we had a visitor waiting for us by my car. The police officer was way cool, but that ended that leg of the day. So this is a poor idea of the depth of the water slide, but you can see the tandem slides from this angle.

I'm also standing just past the area of the slide that all kids loved... the peeling paint that allowed kids to slow down and have their friends meet up with them to make a chain. I'm sure it wasn't safe at all to have four, six, eight, ten kids -- two to a mat -- hit the pool at the bottom all at the same time.

Instead of satisfying my curiosity, visiting the old Wet Willies Water Slide has only made me want to see more of it. I know I'm too old to poke around in places I shouldn't (some might even call it trespassing), but I was too scared when I was younger.

Maybe I'm having a mid-life crisis early...

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Friday, August 15, 2008

TGI Friday!

I had a job interview today. Even if I got the offer, I wouldn't take it. Was the most bee-zarre interview ever! They deal with pest control (hence the 'bee' ~ and yes, I think I’m clever ~ don’t spoil it for me) and I'm not sure how I feel about hawking product that kills mammals, like moles and whatnot.

But that aside, the guy who interviewed me was so out there that I can't even stand it! He wore shorts and a vacation t-shirt while I was wearing a suit. Okay, casual Friday, I get that. But I don’t think he even read my resume. He hopscotched all over my jobs, education and references. He then proceeded to ask about laser hair removal because I have two people as references who perform the service at the spa I used to work at. He thought that I performed the service and wanted to know about the training. It was obvious that he was a skeptic, but what does that have to do with my qualifications? I told him that I never actually performed the service myself, so I couldn't tell him about training.

He repeatedly went back to laser hair removal. I almost wished I had a menu of services from the spa despite the fact that I quit at the end of February.

But… he also seemed to think that he knew one of my other references. I hope he’s more focused when they get together – if they do indeed know one another – because he really hurt my head.

He then asked all sorts of dippy questions... Did I know the mayor of Crestwood? Did I meet any rich people at St. Patrick Center (his words... rich people)? Did I bring any samples of my design work (for a receptionist position)? Did I go to Ursuline High School? What’s my favorite neighborhood in the city? If he wanted to find me on the internet, where could he go to get information? Do I have a Facebook page (I told him that I wasn't that cool)? Do I have a MySpace page (again, not that cool)? What kind of cellphone do I own? Do I own an iPod? What kind of music do I like? What was the last concert I went to? Is Tom Waits really all that great? Why is Bob Dylan more popular? What's the next concert I'm going to (Nine Inch Nails, btw)? How many times have I see Nine Inch Nails in concert? Who opened for them last time? Did I buy their most recent album or just download the free version? Have I ever seen Tool in concert?

Twenty minutes about music. None spent on my qualifications, other than it looks like I can't hold a job. Great.

But he did tell me that I have great taste in music.

As he walked out of the room, he did tell me that my hair was 'hot.' What the hell does that mean? Was that a come on or was it just that he thought it was very current?

I also got parting gifts. Ant killer spray and traps.

Please don’t be jealous. If you can help me get a job, I’ll gladly part with them.
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Zombie Road

As promised, pictures of my expedition last Saturday (August 9th) with Tom. I won't rehash too many details from the trip since I previously did so, but I will break up the postings according to where the pictures are from.

Now, I didn't take hardly any shots of Zombie Road because, quite frankly, shots of crumbling road with thick vegetation on both sides, extending seemingly Heavenward, just isn't that exciting. I kept waiting for an abandoned structure or two, but it would seem that Tom and I didn't hike far enough

(Although I think we hiked plenty far as it was, thank you very much.)

When we came across this washout, I thought we had hit the end of the road. Tom thought otherwise and after he made it across to see if the road did indeed continue on around the bend, I soon joined him and we hiked another good half mile or more. Time and distance seem to dissolve when one cannot see the sky because of the dense trees.

Let me point out that the gully is deeper than it looks. I'd say it's about 4 feet deep, give or take a half foot in different areas.

I really think, and really hope, that this set of stairs is just a natural occurrence. The road below is washed out, showing the layers of the bedrock. Seeing the natural striations in the stone was pretty hip, but then made me question their actual naturalness, since the uniformity was so even. Was it the foundation for the road? The road had existed for decades prior to paving, so were we seeing the previous incarnations?

But the stairs were pretty interesting and definitely added to the spooky mood. I'm sure Tom was actually so over my girlie-girl routine, but aside from abandoned beer bottles, a blanket that had seen much better days draped over a limb and a trash can (Trash cans as trash seems slightly oxymoronic to me.), this was by far the most interesting thing we happened upon. Well, that and the road Tom's GPS said came in onto Lawler Ford Road, but never appeared.

If it is indeed an abandoned set of stairs to a long gone building, I'd be curious to know more about it.

And when I do go back, I'll hike to the end and find the buildings that are supposedly down by the Meramec, if they survived the last go-round of flooding.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

In the Pink!

For this, I will gladly pay slightly higher ticket prices. (Although I still don't understand why airlines DON'T want people to check their bags and instead want them to bring on the plane. Doesn't make one iota of sense to me.)

Taken from the Abilene ReporterNews.

Monday, August 11, 2008 -- The 40 volunteers who applied a full-length pink ribbon and logo to the side of an airplane over the weekend knew it was for a good cause -- they just didn't know it was going to be so much fun.

"It's like a big model airplane," Joe Buie said, gazing at the finished product.

Monday morning, American Airlines unveiled the handiwork of the Abilene volunteers, who are among American Eagle's 400 employees here.

The Embraer regional jet is the first of a fleet that will tout American's sponsorship of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure campaign to fight breast cancer.

A pink ribbon decal, the Komen foundation's trademark symbol, stretched from the tail of the jet to the cockpit. The Susan G. Komen For the Cure logo covered the cowling of the engines.

The newly decorated plane took off for the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday morning following a news conference announcing an expanded partnership between the Komen foundation and American Airlines.

The jet that flew out of Abilene was scheduled to join a similar plane flying in from Tulsa. The two planes are among the eight that will carry the Komen logo for the next eight years.

The expanded partnership announced Monday names American Airlines as the Komen for the Cure's official airline and first Lifetime Promise Partner. American has pledged to contribute $1 million a year for eight years to the fight against breast cancer.

The first Promise Grant will fund a $7.5 million project at M.D. Anderson's Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic in Houston.

A large contingent of city officials and American Eagle representatives gathered early Monday in the Eagle Aviation Services hangar at Abilene Regional Airport to make the announcement.

Also present were a number of breast cancer survivors, including an American Eagle flight attendant and the wife of one of the volunteers who decorated the plane.

Diana Rowden, vice president for health sciences at the Komen foundation, noted that American Airlines partnered with Komen in 1988. American sponsors numerous events each year benefiting Komen for the Cure.

The eight planes that will carry the Komen logo to cities serviced by American and American Eagle will further spread awareness of the fight against breast cancer, Rowden said.

"This is simply quite terrific," she said.

The 40 American Eagle volunteers who worked on the plane for 12 hours Saturday and four hours Sunday thought so, too.

The plane was flown into Abilene Regional Airport on Friday night, washed and prepped for its new logo. Getting 40 volunteers for the project was no problem.

"This is Abilene," said Kris Finch, one of the volunteers. "People are proud to work here."

The work was tedious, but fun, they said. The pink ribbon decal came in 21 sections per side or 42 pieces total to put together. First, a stencil was taped to the plane and outlined. Then the stencil was removed and the adhesive ribbon was stuck to the plane.

The plane will fly with the logo for six years and then will get a different version. A lot of air miles will be logged in those six years. The Abilene volunteers were unfazed by the possibility of the logo peeling off in that time.

"If it does," Buie said, "we'll just fix it."

By Loretta Fulton
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