Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Everyone be safe and sound tonight in your New Year's Eve celebrations. I've always thought of New Year's Eve as "amateur night" - and still, tonight I'm off to a party with fellow members of AA, and plan to be home and off the street before midnight. Tomorrow night I will leave on a much needed vacation - a real one, not a working one (well, I do have to do two hotel inspections, which is not bad at all) - to Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora. I feel lucky, and grateful. The heat and relaxation will be good, the lack of stress will be good, and since I'm going with a good friend, I won't be able to focus on my diagnosis.

Meanwhile, the world continues to be insane. Bombs go off in Bangkok; I was there just a month ago. Hussein is now dead, and violence in Iraq continues (what a surprise THAT is, huh? Did Bush really think that this would solve his problems?)

What are our choices, really? Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the insanity of everything going on in the world that I can't even face it. Other times I feel empowered. After the new Congress gets to work, will there be impeachment? Censure? Will we move forward? Will there be peace in our lifetime? Or has Bush really pushed us all to the edge?

My heart tells me we will come back to sanity, but things will worsen before they improve. There is so much hatred in the world right now, and we need a voice of sanity who will appeal to a broad spectrum of people, to quiet this dis-ease. Who will this be? Who is the Buddha among us?

Happy New Year.


Betty Cracker has a great idea. She's going to March on the Pentagon March 17th. Strength in numbers.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Good Planets, Dec. 30 -- Last Good Planets for 2006

What better way to end the year than dreaming of the islands of French Polynesia? Marc sent this one of the island of Fakarava.

SB Gypsy sent this image of winter in a wetlands:

and also this amazing contrast (and wish for warmer days), a perfect rose:

In keeping with the wish for warmer weather, AM sent this one of Spring Sunlight in Northwest Washington. She said of all the photos she took in 2006, this was her favorite. I can see why:

Pam of Tortise Trails sent this sweet little cottontail. I love bunnies, I think they're adorable:

Robin Andrea sent this Bushtit. She writes "I thought I was photographing a Golden-crowned Kinglet because I've been trying to catch one for a few weeks now. When I downloaded the photos, I took a good look and thought, no way, that's not it. But it turned out to be this rather beautiful little bird."

From my travels, another image from Bhutan. It is truly one of my favorite places on earth:

Yankee, Transferred (AKA Yankee Transplant) sent this in a homesick moment. She writes "Here is a photo I took in Boston in February of 1990. I love this photo, and it makes me miss Boston, although I prefer to see this scene from inside, with a cup of hot chocolate warming my hands." I get it.

Liza sent this in today, an image of trees at Loch Lomond (a reservoir) in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I love California. It's a beautiful state, no matter where you are.

Susannah sent two urban sunset photos:

Hosting Good Planets has been a wonderful experience on so many levels. First, the contributions are amazing - there are incredible photographers out in the blogsphere, people with both an eye for the beauty of this earth and the heart and soul to protect that beauty. I applaud all of you. Second, because it lets us all go visit places that we'd not thought about, and I mean both the subject of the photographs AND the blogs of the photographers. And last, because it has helped me with some techincal skills.

This is the last Good Planets of 2006. Laura takes over the Gallery for January 2007. Please email her at lc-hardy AT comcast DOT net - even if you've never visited her blog, if you have an image to share, jump right in.

Thank you all, and especially to Robin Andrea and Roger for getting this gallery started back in August!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Canadian Ice Shelf disintegrates

The entire 25.5-square-mile (66-square-kilometer) Ayles Ice Shelf broke free from the northern coast of Ellesmere Island on August 13, 2005, but scientists have held back until now to make an announcement. Over the last 100 years, Canadian ice shelfs have shrunk by 90%; this particular shelf was between 3000 to 4500 years old.

Let's put this into perspective: it takes about 200 feet of snow to form into one inche of glacial ice. This happens over time, as it compresses under extreme cold. Polar Bears are now on the Endangered Species List, as the Arctic's summer sea ice disappears. Projections now are that it will be gone completely by 2040.

Oh, but wait. Global warming? The Neocons say it's just a theory.

From Fran Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor

Really big hat tip to my dear friend Karena for today's insane vomit from the White House. Yesterday, while Ed Henry was sitting in for Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room," he had THIS conversation with Fran Townsend, Homeland Security Advisor:

HENRY: But now as 2006 ends, Osama bin Laden is still at large. Heading into 2007, how confident are you that he can be brought to justice this coming year?

TOWNSEND: Well, there's no question in my mind that he'll be brought to justice. The real question is whether or not it's going to be this year. I will tell you that I feel increasingly confident, you know, it was interesting. There's a recent poll and the American people said 71 percent of them were optimistic that we can protect the country.

And I think they've got reason to be optimistic. We've made a lot of progress. They see the progress we've made. We've disrupted plots. We've made reforms in our system, in our security system. So on bin Laden, do I think we are going to get him? I absolutely know we're going to get him.

The question is will it be this year. And I will tell you I think there's increased activity both the part of the CIA, JSOC and our partners, the Pakistanis.

HENRY: You know, going back to September 2001, the president said, dead or alive, we're going to get him. Still don't have him. I know you are saying there's successes on the war on terror, and there have been. That's a failure.

TOWNSEND: Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure.
(emphasis mine.)

Excuse me? Who does she think she's kidding? A success that hasn't occurred yet - like being a little bit pregnant?

Someone, please, wake up the Democrats and get these criminals and their lackeys out of office.

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

I love my mommy. She likes to imitate Gramma Ah Em when she laughs because Gramma doesn't make a sound when she laughs like she forgets to breathe, and she laughs a lot so it gets very funny to watch and mommy imitates it so Gramma laughs harder then everybody laughs because it looks funny.

Gramma Ah Em told me she needs people to send more pictures for the Saturday Good Planets gallery. What's a gallery? That's a big word. I have to ask Ah Em, not gramma but the other Ah Em, the one from Sesame Street who is red and fuzzy.

I have to play now. Gramma told me to say I love you to everybody who reads her blog, so okay. I love you. I'm gonna play stack blocks now.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

This is what I have

Primary Biliary Cirrhosis is a mystery. Well, not really a mystery in that they know what it is, but they don't know what causes it. They know what doesn't cause it: alcohol and drugs are not the cause. And I gotta tell you, I'm classic: I look mostly healthy, although I don't feel it. Joints, bones and muscles hurt all the time. I'm always nauseated, and fatigued. Dizziness (not the dizzy blond kind) has become a recent feature. I'm about 40 pounds overweight, and nothing I do helps - and I don't overeat. Depression has been a huge factor. That's what the blood tests and the CT Scan have shown. I'm pissed off about it too, and don't know what stage I'm in at this point - it is very treatable if it is early; if it is late, I will have to get on a transplant list. And my brain is going right to late stages of this.

So. In order to keep me happy and in a state of cheery optimism, I am putting out a reminder to send me your images for this Saturday's Good Planets Gallery. Email me at jkblue AT cox DOT net as soon as possible - put your photos in an attachment -- and let's end 2006 with a reminder of how beautiful our planet is.

Ya think?

Major William Voorheis, training Iraqui Security Forces, said "I have come to the conclusion that this is no longer America’s war in Iraq, but the Iraqi civil war where America is fighting."

Tell me, what was his first clue?

Meanwhile, Bush is having a meeting with his puppet-masters to craft another "new" Iraq policy without admiting that the present one still isn't working. Dick Cheney understands that the American people are, rightfully, very concerned about what is going on in Iraq — as is the president," deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel said Wednesday, stressing that Bush is taking time to weigh all options before making a decision. However, Cheney has been advised that shooting American citizens who oppose the war is probably not such a good idea.

John Podesta thinks that the American public has become skeptical that Bush even has a plan. Ya think? It's almost like the secret plan Nixon had in his jacket pocket to end the war in Viet Nam - oops, sent that jacket to the cleaners.

On a personal note, I have the results of my CT scan and blood test but I'm too pissed off to talk about it. I think Beanie will have to post about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Death of a Quiet Man

Gerald R. Ford, 38th President, died yesterday at 93 years of age. He was a simple man, whose goal in life was to be Speaker of the House and instead had the Presidency thrust upon him when Nixon resigned. Ford is credited with humanizing the White House and Presidency, after Nixon's Imperial Presidency, but he counted among his friends Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney. It is said of Ford that he was friends with everybody. Still, even "Everyman" makes bad decisions.

In 1975, Ford fired James Schlesinger from the Pentagon. Ford replaced Schlesinger with Donald Rumsfeld, whom Nixon found to be "admirably Machiavellian." While in Congress, Rumsfeld had "his own little plumbers-type unit at the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1969, charged with sniffing out "revolutionaries" who might disburse federal funds to 'subversives'."

When Ford became President, he said "Our long national nightmare is over." And here we are again, perhaps in a worse state than before. Rumsfeld is no longer Defense Secretary, but his hand is all over the war in Iraq. We have an idiot King/President at the helm, whose stubborn arrogance is leading not just America, but the World, to the brink of destruction. How ironic that it is Bush who praised Mr. Ford for his contributions to the nation “in an hour of national turmoil and division,” in a statement released early today from his ranch in Texas.

“With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency,” Mr. Bush said. “The American people will always admire Gerald Ford’s devotion to duty, his personal character, and the honorable conduct of his administration.”

This praise, from George Bush, who is neither kind, nor blessed with integrity nor common sense, has done more to destroy public confidence in the presidency than anyone before him, sickens me. Ford, while not perfect, was a moderate Republican, a Centerist, and a mender of fences. His pardon of Nixon was probably the right thing to do, despite the horrific unpopularity of his action. But today, today we have a cynical despot in the highest office. Someone explain to me how we got here.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's a Wonderful Life?

Jurassicpork of Welcome to Pottersville and Alicia of Last Left Turn Before Hooterville have teamed up to create an updated version of "It's a Wonderful Life", featuring George Failey and all his friends.

It is absolutely brilliant! Jurassicpork wrote it all, Alicia did the images, and I will NEVER be able to see that film in its original form again without snickering.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Greetings - with update

If Christmas is the celebration of the human heart, then let our hearts beat together for peace. We stand at a terrible time in history. The "elected" leaders of America are cynical despots, bent on World domination. They are men with black hearts, whose actions are fueled with hate.

But our hearts are open, and geared toward peace. The road to peace is not black and white. It is paved with tolerance, love, understanding, open minds, and nuance. The road to peace is paved with acceptance, and it is not a smooth road at all. The road to peace is not narrow, nor is is paved with idiology, and it is an open road.

We can work together, and we can be strong. We can be the change we want to see in the world. We can, and we must, and we will, and we must not give up. What do we do? We continue to demand the impeachment of war criminals. We act to reverse the destruction of our planet. We open our hearts, we do with less stuff, we give of our souls, we love. And, as important, we laugh.

So my Christmas gift to you: I wish you trust, love, tolerance, joy, laughter, and good health. I am delighted that you are part of my world, because you also give me hope. War is over, if you want it.


I just made a total elf out of Beanie.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Good Planets, Dec. 23

Marc lives in Australia, on the Island of Tasmania. He got this sunset from his home in South Arm.

From Tree comes this gorgeous butterfly:

And also, from Tree, this lovely orchid:

Pam, of Tortise Trail sent this image of Mt. Robson, which is the highest point in BC:

Comandante Agi sent this image of the Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina, taken from a plane as they were coming in for a landing:

In September, I was in Australia again, and took this of the Great Ocean Road - The Twelve Apostles. There is no image that can really capture the wildness of this coast, nor the power of the Southern Ocean, but there are only about nine of these structures left as wind and water erode the fragile limestone:

Robin Andrea sent this image of hungry birds. She says "I don't know if it captures the number of birds that were perched on the winter-dead stems of last summer's flowers. I was surprised to see all of them. I think there may still be a few seeds left, and
these birds seemed quite content to look for them."

Mary, from Get Your Own sent these Buffalo and a Prairie Dog in Oklahoma. Okay, I'm not a rancher, so I get to think those Prairie Dogs are adorable.

SB Gypsy sent this of a Japanese Garden

and this of the Mill Pond in Sturbridge Village, Massachussetts, from the Western Shore:

Frederick sent this image of one of the many grottos along the coastline of the Island of Capri:

Next week, I host the last Good Planets of the year, so please send photos to me at jkblue AT cox DOT net.

In January, Laura of Somewhere in NJ will be hosting for the month of January. Her email is lc-hardy at comcast dot net.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Carols for the Disturbed

1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Busses and Trucks and Trees and.....

6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooooh look at the froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder --Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle, Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells ...

Friday Grandbaby Blogging

I know it looks like I am intently watching Keith Olbermann on television but really I'm not, because he's on way past my bedtime and I have to have my bath at night and all that. No, I'm watching something really interesting about fish and colors and shapes. My gramma Ah Em had to have her cats scanned yesterday and they put dye into her and that made her all hot like she was on fire but she said that the cats sound like a washing machine in the spin cycle. She said her blood had to have tests too and she is waiting to find out if it passed, or if she has to do something else. But she is getting really good at sudoku. I have to go play now. Oh, but first I want to drink some milk. Isn't my gramma Ah Em great at translating what I say to you? My fish Nemo is waiting for me. Bye bye.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Morning News Roundup

When Vice President Dick Cheney learned he would be asked to testify in Lewis "Scooter" Libby's trial, Cheney immediately invited his former Chief of Staff to go hunting with him. Libby is shown here recovering from being shot in the ass by the Vice President, and the Vice President is saying "I don't know, the gun must have slipped.

Libby was indicted in October 2005, and immediately resigned his post, all over those silly and insignificant charges that "he lied to a grand jury about his conversations with reporters about CIA operative Valerie Plame. White House critics have said that the leak was part of a campaign to undermine her husband, former envoy Joseph C. Wilson IV, who had accused the administration in a newspaper opinion piece of misleading the public on the case for war in Iraq."

Libby, of course, had more important things on his mind, like Turism and the war in Eye-Rack, and told NPR reporter Libby "Turtle" Lewis that any misstatements were simply the wanderings of an overworked public servant. Libby (Scooter) and his lawyers hope that Cheney's testimony will buttress that claim by pointing out the close working relationship between the Veep and his former lackey.

Attorney for Scooter Bill Jeffress said he's certain the Veep will cooperate, because "Resistance is futile." Lea Anne McBride, the vice president's press secretary, said Cheney would testify, if called. "We've cooperated fully in this matter and will continue to do so." She declined to comment further, walking off the podium swearing under her breath. She was heard to say "I should have taken a job at Macy's."

In other news, the Cobb County Board of Education agreed never to place stickers in high school biology textbooks that say "evolution is a theory, not a fact." After a four year battle to avoid hiring teachers who actually KNOW something, the Cobb County Board just threw in the towel.

"Evolution has long been controversial in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, where some biology teachers used to tear pages out of textbooks to avoid discussing it. In 2002, after more than 2,000 parents objected to sections on evolution in a new biology textbook, stickers were placed on the inside of the front cover."

Now, with the settlement, those teachers will actually have to learn something rather than be outdistanced by their students. Furthermore, the past six years of the Bush Administration has completely disproved the idea of "Intelligent Design."


Don't forget to send your photos for this Saturday's "Good Planets" Gallery to me at jkblue AT cox DOT net.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

'Splain to me, Lucy

I'm not sure I really get all this. Lethal Injection is used for execution of prisoners in 37 states. Currently, Governors including The Governator of California, and Shrub's Brother Jeb of Florida have suspended executions because of a number of serious problems with how the death penalty is implemented, including inconsistent and unreliable screening of execution team members; poorly trained staff; inconsistent and unreliable recordkeeping of drugs used in the process; improper mixing, preparation and administration of drugs by the execution team; overcrowded conditions; and poorly designed facilities in which the execution team must work.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jack Kervorkian is being released on parole in June. Kervorkian claimed he had participated in 130 assisted suicides; Kevorkian committed euthanasia on a patient, videotaped the act, and sent the tape to 60 Minutes, which promptly aired it.

He was speedily convicted of second-degree murder in March, 1999, and sentenced to 10 to 25 years, far above normal guidelines. He's served more time than some people do who murder family members in the heat of passion.

So. Convicted murderers, rapists, child molesters have the right to die with dignity and not suffer "cruel and unusual punishment." But someone who has been kept alive by modern medicine after all quality of life is gone is not allowed that same right, and anyone who assists in their right to die is committing a criminal act. How does that work again?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Look out, Victoria's Secret. The AFA is on the J.O.B.

Michiganders, you can rest easy, because The American Family Association is on the J.O.B. against Victoria's Secret stores. Concerned Citizens in Green Oak Township, Michigan, have had a vigourous letter writing campaign protesting scantily-clad mannequins.

Their goal is to have Victoria's Secret show "morally neutral" products, such as shotguns, deer rifles and military gear rather than those dangerously sexually provocative items like bras, g-strings or fuzzy stiletto heels.

I'm so relieved.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Good Planets, Dec. 16th

Welcome to this weekend's edition of Good Planets. I'm having a wonderful time hosting this month. Not sure who's got it for January, but I can assure you that hosting is well worth the time.

Leading off: Dawn sent this incredible image of a Pileated Woodpecker. The intense red of his head just blows me away.

This is a butterfly I saw, don't have a clue what kind it is, but again, it's the red that gets me. I love the purity of color.

Donnie McDaniel lives in Louisiana, and his big awakening came from Hurricane Katrina. This is a shot of a riverside campsite he recently stayed at on a short vacation, up in northern Louisiana. I love how peaceful it is.

From Marc in Australia comes this image of Cloudy Bay. He writes: A low tide rivulet at Cloudy Bay at the southern end of Bruny Island. At the far end of the beach is the most amazing little camp ground... only accessible at low tide. Aah, the bliss of having ones movements restricted by the regular movements of the solar system.

Marc also sent this beauty of one of my favorite places in Australia, The Freycinet Peninsula of Tasmania, Australia:

From Pam at Tortise Trails comes this Grand Canyon image, taken from Southwest Airlines flight from Tucson to Vancouver:

And Robin Andrea of Dharma Bums sent this rainbow. She writes: I
went out to take pity on our little birds who were scurrying around
looking for food, when I looked up I saw this amazing double
rainbow. Unfortunately, the second lighter one didn't make it to the
image, but it was there. Our entire yard was under this magnificent
arc. It was truly a beautiful sight, especially the tips of the trees
that were bathed in the morning sunlight.

Mary, from Get Your Own sent four images, (two will be on NEXT weekend's Good Planets), starting with this knockout of Wetlands on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I cannot believe the light. Wow.

She also sent this one of Assateague Island. When I was a child, my favorite book was Misty of Chincoteague, and I imagine that this image of Assateague looks much the same.

From SB Gypsy comes this quiet image of Eagleville Resevoir:

Two lovely images from Tree:

First, taken in Cades Corner in the Smokey Mountains:

And also from the Smokey Mountains:

Peacechick Mary sent this. She writes here's a fire vine that adds a flash of color and the birds love the seeds. Just think, many of the birds who live with our Northern friends,
dine right here while on winter vacation.

From Susannah comes this wonderful red in a parking lot - even urban areas have their beauty:

Send next weekend's photos to me a jkblue AT cox DOT net. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Photos, I need photos

Right now, since I've got sore joints, I'm not really focusing on much in terms of politics. But in some ways I think Good Planets is political, or at least responsible. The more we see how beautiful our earth is, the more we want to protect it, I hope. So I am happy to be hosting Good Planets this month.

But I am in need of photos for this weekend's posting; and also for 12/23 and 12/30, so please send to me at jkblue AT cox DOT net.

Nature-based (sorry Kvatch) and try to keep the resolution on the small to medium side. If it's too big, I can't open, as my computer is older than I am.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I have been tagged

I have been tagged by The Fat Lady Sings with a book meme. The plan:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
3. Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Name of the book and the author.
5. Tag three people.

I'm always curious about memes, and here I am at work, with a ton of work related travel brochures, but oddly, the book closest to me is a novel.

page 123, beginning with the sixth sentence (which comes after the fifth on the page, oddly) here are the three sentences:

Her voice was wide awake. Yes, Will?
That bit of land, he said.

The book, The Secret River, was written by Kate Grenville and is a historical novel about convict settlers of Australia.

And I hereby tag:
Morning Martini's Pissed off Patricia

Knock Knock's very own Peacechick Mary

The Gay Agenda's Pursey Tutweiler