Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How do you blame in a mature manner?

Something I have never quite figured out:

I am quite willing to own up to my own mistakes and to try to do better.

But how does a mature person properly and professionally point the finger of blame for things that are NOT his fault?

I don't wish to be a martyr on behalf of other people's incompetence.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A thought for life

"Love always finds a way. There's a way we can find for every pregnant Woman to have a child or give it up for adoption." -- Kirk Kramer, Democrat and supporter of Pres. Obama, at an anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., as quoted in published reports.

Friday, March 27, 2009

In Memorium

In Search of Isis is saddened to report the tragic death of Herbert M. Frizenberg, lately of Flatulencia Township, Nebraska. The Unassociated Press reports that Mr. Frizenberg was on vacation in Slovakia when he accidently drove over the border into the Autonomous Region of Amazonia, populated only by women.

No foul play was involved in his demise. It appears that Frizenberg drove off an unfinished bridge after becoming hopelessly lost.

The last person to see Frizenberg alive may have been Amazonia resident Sublima Sucrose, who lives near the bridge under construction.

“We would have been glad to help. But the d$#%^d fool wouldn’t stop to ask anyone for directions,” Sucrose said.

However, upon further questioning, Sucrose admitted that, had Frizenberg stopped to ask her assistance, he might not have received the answer he wanted – or any answer at all.

“Yah, I probably would have told him to take a right, not a left,” she said. “A man should know that right means left. And for that matter, he should have known what I was thinking in the first place without me having to say anything at all. Men!”

Mr. Frizenberg leaves to cherish his memory one flea-bitten dog, one tired wife, and an extensive collection of useless sports memorabilia that she has probably already thrown out.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A sure money-maker, rent-a-duck

Intriguing entrepreneurial concept discovered on an Internet gardening forum:

How do you deal with snails in your garden?

"I have heard that a pet duck or chicken cleans out snails quite nicely. But I do not want a pet duck. Must be a nice income situation for a kid with a rent-a-duck."


"Imagine there's no taxes,
It's easy if you try ..."

-- with apologies to the late John Lennon

I stood in the Wendy's line at lunch, lusting over a luscious salad. I had eight quarters and three one dollar bills in my hand. Should be more than enough to cover the cost of an item whose listed price tag is $4.79, right?

Wrongo, bucko.

Not in 2009, not in this city, not in this swiftly-sinking-to-h$ll country of ours.

With tax, it came to $5.25. That's .46 tax, or eight percent!

I didn't have the invisible two extra quarters the city/state/feds demanded so I had to use the credit card or get something cheaper or just starve. Sweetie will not be happy -- She doesn't like to use the card except for emergencies.

Unless you are a math genius with a tax table in your pocket, you can't hope to use a store price tag these days to determine how much you will pay for your merchandise.

Tax anger created this country. Tax anger just may be what drives out the current crop of slime that has oozed into all its positions of leadership.

We need taxes for public education, we are told. Well, public education in this country stinks. It's not the fault of the majority of teachers, highly over-worked and underpaid, but rather of badly-raised children, moronic parents and stupid administrative ideas such as recess elimination. So let's figure out a better way and maybe pay for it more intelligently.

We need taxes for roads, we are told. What, those same roads that our current taxes can't keep fixed? Why not sell stretches of freeway to big corporations and let them rename it, for example, Ronald McDonald Expressway and paint the happy clown's face on the pavement and pay a fat fee for the privilege of millions of drivers getting the craving for a Big Mac as they speed down the road?

We need taxes to pay the salaries of senators and such, we are told. I really, really hope that you don't believe that. Why not have communities pick local good guys and gals and compel them, George Washington-style, to temporarily serve their country as leaders, and pay them a living wage like honest folk make and no more? I'm sick up to my ears of all the arrogant political dirtbags who salivate over public office like a junkie craving his crack-pipe. Let 'em work off some of their bloated belly fat laying asphalt on our new, tax-free roads or dodging IEDs in Iraq.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kids need recess!

Perhaps if enough parents, and those of us who are not parents but cherish children anyway, perhaps if enough of us raise our voices to a deafening roar, then the beans-for-brains people who are stripping away recess for children, will finally get the message:


I shudder to think what would have happened to me if my entire childhood had been spent trapped inside a building. If I could not indulge my fidgets, if some overbearing adult had loomed over me 24/7, I would have lost my little mind.

I am far from alone in this sentiment.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Little tree growing up

Next year, I may not be able to do what I did today.

I stopped behind Building XYZ at the local university and wrapped my fingers around the trunk of a sturdy sapling there. Thumb to thumb and index to index -- barely they touched. Burr Oak is growing up.

Already it has a healthy coat of rough bark and definitely the "wings" typical of its species, running in flanges along its branches. Ten feet high it rises now, much taller than me.

When we first met, about 15 years ago, I could hold this tree in my palm, for it was nothing but a green shoot awakening out of its acorn shell. Where it hoped to grow, it was doomed, for the mower blades would soon chop it to shreds there, beneath its great parent upon the university campus.

I scooped it up and kept it in a pot for about five years, finally bringing it thousands of miles east with me in a U-Haul truck.

For nearly ten years now, it has had a home at this beautiful college campus here in Virginia -- and if the foolishness of men doesn't intervene, it will grow massive and mighty. It was born at a university and it seemed right to give it to a university for adoption.

I try to get out there at least once a year and spend some time with my silent friend. My spirits lift each time I see that no one has accidentally sheared off its bark with a mowing machine, or marred it in malice or cut it down in the name of campus expansion.

This fall, perhaps it will have its first crop of acorns -- fat acorns in a mossy, burr cup -- thus the common name. And the cycle of life will continue.

I walked back to my car through the student union, observing a young man practicing piano there, and kids studying .. and I felt wistful and old, remembering when that was my life.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another friend found -- or soon to be

I grew up a military kid, which was in some things great, in other things not.

I made and said goodbye to more friends by age 17 than many people will in a lifetime.

Last year I reconnected, briefly, with a Goddess of a Woman from my past, Darlene Tsue, who did not remember me at all, though I remember and cherish everything about Her from Her daily mannerisms, to Her preference in cigarettes to almost every word that She ever said to me.

And now I have discovered that my best friend from high school, one of the most wonderful men I have ever met, is still alive and kicking somewhere in Florida, despite rumors to the contrary. One little payment to ussearch.com and I'll be calling him this weekend. I'm so excited.

L. was a gentle giant, a fun-loving, peace-loving, old school rap-loving, truly cool guy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I know the difference between due and do.
Just as I know the difference between its and it's.
Sabbath and Sabaoth.
Your and you're.

But I just sent out an all-hands email to our school district declaring "do to the inclement weather ..."

And so, though I wish I could blame evil spirits haunting my computer, I feel like a complete moron.

Like a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Like a hoary old Marxist-Leninist still kissing Mao's picture on the wall.

Like one of those dim bulbs who show up with, ahem, gifts and plans for underage girls in To Catch A Predator.

Like high school dropout rock musicians who attempt to articulate government policy.

Like ... well, you get the picture.

Dumb. Dumb as a sack of sand. Dumb as Patrick Star(fish). Indeed, dumb as Patrick Star on crystal meth after dropping out of high school to become a Mao-suit-wearing rock musician in order to impress an investigator posing as an underage girl in a stake-house (not steak-house) somewhere in Anytown USA.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

odd dillema

So I have opened a Facebook account,which is stupid because I hardly have time for all the projects that I have going now.

It has quickly attracted a nucleus of family, friends and people I know.

I will keep it rigidly separate from this blog as I do appreciate what shreds of anonymity I have left here on Isis.

But maybe some of you bright bulbs can answer my did-I-do right question.

One of my new friends on Facebook, a member of my church, but not someone I see very often, announced today that he is coming out of the closet.

I hope that I have made it quite clear on this blog what my personal opinion is about that: such a step is his to make and not mine to criticize. The world needs more love, not less.

He will certainly lose some friends, though. And unfortunately, as far as Facebook is concerned, he has lost me -- but NOT for that reason, although he will certainly take it that way. And I'm not sure that I can do anything about it, which is sad because I would like to be at least one person who would not cut him off for THAT reason.

But there are certain words I do not use, certain very foul words, either in jest or in seriousness, especially not to a Lady. He does. And I don't want that showing up on my little corner of Facebook.

Strange trivia: Molasses on the Move

"It is not often that a fateful tragedy occurs that centers around a food, but unfortunately, in 1919, one such event did occur.

"The event is referred to as the Great Molasses Flood and occurred when a molasses storage tank holding over two million gallons of molasses broke, and its sticky content came pouring throughout the city streets of Boston, Massachussetts, traveling as fast as 35 miles per hour and creating a thirty foot tidal wave of sweetener.

"Unfortunately, this was not a sweet matter as twenty-one people died and significant amounts of property was destroyed."
-- from www.whfoods.com

I have learned from multiple sources this week that -- except in the form of urban tidal waves -- molasses is very good for you. It is rich in iron and other minerals, and also assists in the absorption of calcium. Unfortunately, it happens to be one of those foods that people either love or hate. Fortunately for me at least, it does not fall on the list of all the foods in the world that I don't like, which consists of the following:

1. Mayonnaise
2. Radishes

An old book I am reading recommends that one stir it into milk. Instant malted milk -- not bad at all. I tried it for the first time yesterday and intend to make a habit of it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My figger has a cohd

I slammed my finger in the car door the other day. Hard. It does not look pretty. It does not feel pretty.

So I sat in the car bleeding into a yellow napkin from McDonals and strugglging to not scream while my poor Beloved beside me urged me to go get a tetanus shot and was sure that it was broken.

And now id is Monday and I am tryign to do my daily work,w hich involves typing and it happenes to be teh finger that types the e, a, s and d, and the going is rather difficult. I am not responbislbe for any typing errosr today.

This finger thinks that I hate it. It is the same one I gashed jsut a month ago when I was slicing an onion.

Yes, I would like somw cheeese twith my whine today. I like Muenwster, please.

Friday, March 13, 2009

When is a hog not a hog but in truth a canary?

Thought I'd hook you with that question.

The answer: When the little snuffler is a hedgehog, no relation in truth to piggies at all except that both are mammals. Hedgehogs, argues author Hugh Warwick, also are a warning species, a canary in the coal mine. Their rapid and mysterious decline in their European and Asian homelands, signifies that something is not right in the world.

This is my last post on Warwick's book, "The Hedgehog's Dilemma." But I had to buy that book and I read it cover to cover. I have loved these little beasts since I was a boy in England, when a delightful older couple stopped my family's car on a country road there to prevent us from hitting one. They invited us all in for tea and a friendship began.

Many years later, in a misty Hungarian evening, I rescued a hedgehog myself as it scurried into a roadway. Tell me, what other wild animal can simply be scooped up barehanded -- albeit carefully -- and relocated like that?

Hedgehogs are not creatures of the deep woods, fleeing the sight and sound of man; nor are they citified vermin living off his garbage, like rats or landfill gulls. The inoffensive little insectivores live happily on the edge of his gardens or fields, at home in his world and yet vulnerable to it, scurrying about by night on their little errands, and snoring in the hedgerow by day.

From Warwick:

"Hedgehogs can do more to foment changes in our attitudes towards the environment than almost any other animal. It is only a short walk from thinking of the hedgehog as a rather cute garden visitor to realizing that the roads you drive on to the supermarket or the holidays you take all have an impact on your new-found friend.

"The journey hedgehogs have led me on has taken me from a sentimental love of wildlife through a pragmatic desire to understand something and into something quite special.

"So much can be said without words, so [if you are lucky enough to be in the lands a hedgehog calls home] don't be shy, get down on your hands and knees,lean forward and see what happens as you get nose to nose with a hedgehog. Relish and wallow in the moment of making a connection with the most charismatic creature on the planet."

Curiosity kills more than cats

So I read today about a little boy who seriously cut himself when he curiously poked his finger into a hole in some sort of metal box in the restroom and encountered a jagged piece of metal within.

Curiosity, plain and simple.

Curiosity is linked to intelligence. Your average earthworm exhibits little to no interest in anything other than ingesting dirt. It nevers appears to wonder why, its annelid life-goal being but to squirm and die.

But the brainier a beast, the more it sniffles its surroundings and pokes its various digits, appendages, nose and tongue into every nook and cranny.

The old proverb warns against such behavior. And indeed, with good reason. Curiosity, in the animal world, seems to cause a lot of casualties. In The Hedgehog's Dillema, by Hugh Warwick, we are warned to be careful what manner of substances we slather around our yards in hedgehog country, as the spiny beast loves to sample any intriguing new scent it encounters.

Human parents struggle mightly to prevent their young offspring from ingesting pocket change, thumbtacks, household poisons and electric sockets, to name a few. Once a modicum of growth is developed, there is yet no rest for the weary: the young ones promptly try to shove beans and such into their nostrils or ears as well; and the schemes only get more convoluted as the children get older.

How is it that such a deadly trait as curiosity goes hand-in-hand with intelligence?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Winter moments

Down by the creek, cold and quiet, after our only snowfall of the season.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Odd fact of the day

From Wikipedia:

"When an Apis cerana (Eastern Honey Bee) hive is invaded by the Japanese giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia), about 500 Japanese honey bees (A. cerana japonica) surround the hornet and vibrate their flight muscles until the temperature is raised to 47°C (117°F), heating the hornet to death, but keeping the temperature still under their own lethal limit (48-50°C). European honey bees (A. mellifera) lack this behavior."

Japanese humans also enjoy heating the hornet to death, but for other purposes: they deep fry and eat them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

First of the garden

I practically sprinted out of my last meeting of the afternoon, drove home and headed for the back yard. Carried with me a dish of warm water in which a handful of wrinkly Chicago Red hybrid beet seeds had been soaking.

Time, finally, to plant.

I dug out two furrows in the bed that grew beans and squash last year, layered last fall with shredded leaves and lawn clippings. I plunked the seeds into the warm earth, blended with some crumbly black cow manure and humus.

I retrieved the old, beat-up taped-up garden hose from behind the shed where junk sits until I can make trips to the landfill and sprinkled the ground. Belatedly, I remembered that I had planned to get a new garden hose during the winter and will have to pay premium price this time of year.

Now I've done my work, at least until weeding time arrives. Now it's up to them, these little seeds, to be the vanguard of this year's garden. Should be able to harvest the first two rows April 27.

I'm a little worried about the feral rabbit I've seen bouncing around the neighborhood these past few months. He chewed my pecan seedlings to stubs and finished off the spearmint. My beets would be no match for him. I should perhaps invest in a fence, since Sweetie would change the locks on the doors and hand, no, throw, Her ring back at me if I ventured to make a stew out of him.

Where's old Elmer Fudd when you need him?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Proud of myself

Twenty years ago, I was a lonely, angry kid terrified to grow up. Was about to learn to drive, and hated every minute of it -- was scared to leave the very driveway behind the wheel. Barely knew how to write a check, let alone any of the other responsibilities of being an adult.

Last night as I successfully dodged black ice, heavy traffic and demonic detours to drive deep into the city after a long, but rewarding day of work, to meet my Wife and Her father at the Center to see a basketball game, I felt really good about just how far I have come since then.

I've driven all the way across the United States and in the maelstrom of Washington, D.C. I have met the Woman of my dreams and we've lasted fourteen years. I have a job with serious responsibilities, that for the most part I enjoy.

Like that country song they're playing these days, I sure wish I could write a letter to that miserable kid back in 1989 and tell him, hang tough, everything is gonna be okay.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The weird world of Rome on the decline

I have entered a new, unhappy era in my studies of world history.

Pertinax was a good man. It wasn't his fault that the Roman Empire had already begun its long slide into collapse. The golden Julio-Claudian era that brought Augustus and kin was long over, the silver age of the Flavians had also ended and then had come to a close the bronze years of the Antonines, ominously marred with the murder of Marcus Aurelius by barbarians, far from home.

Pertinax had rather humble origins for a Caesar. According to Wikipedia:

"Originally Pertinax made his way as a grammaticus (teacher of grammar), [how about that, Chase?] but he eventually decided to find a more rewarding line of work and through the help of patronage he was commissioned an officer in a cohort. In the Parthian war that followed, he was able to distinguish himself, which resulted in a string of promotions, and after postings in Britain (as military tribune of the Legio VI Victrix) and along the Danube, he served as a procurator in Dacia."

The Roman masses were coming to expect that their Caesars would bribe, amuse and feed them. And when it didn't happen, Caesars didn't live long. Thus, Pertinax, again from Wikipedia:

"On 28 March 193, Pertinax was at his palace when a contingent of some three hundred soldiers of the Praetorian Guard rushed the gates. Ancient sources suggest that they had received only half their promised pay. Neither the guards on duty nor the palace officials chose to resist them. Pertinax sent Laetus to meet them, but he chose to side with the insurgents instead and deserted the emperor.

"Although advised to flee, he then attempted to reason with them, and was almost successful before being struck down by one of the soldiers. Pertinax must have been aware of the danger he faced by assuming the purple, for he refused to use imperial titles for either his wife or son, thus protecting them from the aftermath of his own assassination."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bahrain, for March

Time to get to know another country on the world map, the little Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.

It sits on the shoulder of Saudi Arabia, looking out over the Gulf waters towards the restive immensity of Iran - a precarious political position if ever there was one.

This was one of the British Empire's strategic outposts until it became independent in 1971. It was once the pearl diving capital of the world and the pearl is still its national icon.

Beginning in 2002, the nation of 650,000 took steps towards democracy, holding elections for representative bodies - and though it is a Muslim state, Women are not only allowed to vote, They may also run for office.