Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

leo humor

My sister-in-law sent me this joke. I thought it was quite funny. Enjoy.

A young woman was pulled over in Austin, Texas for speeding. As the TX State Trooper walked to her car window, flipping open his ticket book, she said, "I bet you are going to sell me a ticket to the Texas State Police Ball." He replied, "Texas State Troopers don't have balls." There was a moment of silence while she smiled and he realized what he'd just said. He then closed his book, got back in his patrol car and left. She was laughing too hard to start her car.

Covering your nose when you cough doesn't help in these cases

Since I wrote about the FDA earlier in the week, when I ran across this creepy AP article on recalled body tissue, I had to comment on it.

A brief synopsis: A company called Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS) is accused of lifting tissue from corpses without consent. Some of the tissue in question was lifted from people who had communicable diseases, like hepatitis, AIDS and syphilis. Several folks who received transplants of possibly infected tissue have developed the diseases the deceased people may have had.

Yuck, yuck, yuck. First of all, if BTS personnel knowingly grifted people with stolen,infected body parts, I think there is a special place in hell waiting for them. That is one of the weirdest, basest acts I've heard of in a long time. Second, don't the receiving physicians conduct any tests on tissue they receive for transplant before plopping it into patients?

Exactly how do you "recall" tissue that's been implanted in a person? Oh, here you go; here's the tissue you fused to my spine. That's what the US government is doing with the tissue BTS sent out. One of the guys covered in the article received "recall" information from his doctor two years after his implant. He's now a hepatitis patient; he picked up both type B and C.

The CDC is investigating the allegations made toward BTS, however the litigation so far are all civil suits, seeking class-action status.

If you take the time to read the whole article, please let me know if I'm the only one bugged (no pun intended) by the overuse of the word germ. I thought it gave this serious subject a kindergarten whitewash.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Garden Huzzah

After I was finished watering the herbs on the back deck, I wandered over to the miniature rose bushes to see how they're fairing. They're okay, but what caught my eye was the peony. This baby was planted in the wrong spot when we moved in four years ago, and I transplanted it during the Fall. Ever since, it's been quite temperamental. It produces multitudes of foliage, but only one glorious, sweet smelling flower in four years. Today, I counted five, yes FIVE, flower buds on it, with more foliage still to unfurl. Yeehaaw!

On a sadder note, the "coolest rose bush ever that refuses to die no matter what" has some sort of cane burrowing larvae. I'm going back out to play plant doctor.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

consumer humor

I'm not in the mood to be too serious this evening. Here's a product that can come in handy in a variety of situations: the Beerbelly. It's a drink bladder that is shaped like a flabby belly. The capacity of the Beerbelly is up to 80 ounces of the liquid of your choice. It comes with a sling to hold the bladder and has a drinking tube that can be trimmed to the perfect, easy access length for each individual. The Beerbelly website even has a tips and tricks page, to help consumers maximize their uses of the Beerbelly.

With the beverages ranging from $5 to $7.50 at ball games; $5, on average, at the movies; $1.25 for a 20 ounce soda at the store-- these guys are on to something =). Plus, the beverage could be a whole lot more fun that a diet cola.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Navigating the Green River con't

To pick up where I left off in yesterday's entry, L., Tee and I, along with another canoe pair from our group, gingerly pushed off the river bank, after L.'s canoe was bailed out, and he had on some dry clothing. His son, J., panicked during the capsize and pulled himself into C. and D.'s canoe, leaving L. alone with their boat.

Kneeling in the middle of his canoe, L. took the lead. We hadn't paddled far before we navigated a bend in the river, and landed in the current spiralling toward the largest deadhead (submerged logs in the river) we'd witnessed on the trip so far. "Deadhead on right; maneuver left NOW," L. shouted. Tee and I hurriedly paddled sweep strokes to move toward the left bank, but the current sucked us in toward the deadhead. We swept harder, and narrowly missed the deadhead. I reached out and pushed off one of the taller logs jutting out of the water. That was probably the wrong thing to do, but it was my first instinct and it propelled us further away from the hazard.

All three canoes successfully avoided capsizing over this deadhead. Our elated feeling didn't last long. As we rounded another bend, four teams from our group were pulled off in a little knook on the right bank. Four people were changing because they were all wet. One of the fairer boys was bright red; all of his blood rushed to his trunk and face, flushing his skin. We hollered to them, asking if they needed aid. They were all accounted for and with their buddies, so they told us to continue on. Later on, I'd learn how they capsized- -they hit the deadhead I pushed off of.

A few more minutes up the river, all the teams from both groups had pulled off on a wide, sandy bank to wait for those who had capsized. As we waited for the last four teams to motate upstream, the mood on that bank was grim. J. was understandably upset. He wanted to go home. Our wet feet were freezing now, due to our waiting. L. and J. were able to secure some more clothes, to begin to warming up their trunks and legs. I looked at my son and wondered what we would do if it was us that capsized. We can swim and had PFDs on, but would we keep calm and yet be able to react quickly? Would we think to grab for the canoe? Would we be able to overcome the debilitating cold of the water? The fear level within me rose to an unbearable point. How could I keep Tee safe, myself safe and make it to a safe place where we could get our canoe off the river?

I gave myself a mental bitch slap to calm down. Then I started to use the lamaze techniques I learned when I was pregnant with Rosie and Tee. That was the best bunch of FRNs I ever spent; I've used those techniques so much in the past 17 years that I could probably teach a class on it myself. Controlled breathing and limiting my focus to our immediate goal--getting off the river safe--helped me calm down. This was the turning point for me on this trip. If I didn't get a grip, I'd be a hazard rather than a functional member of my team.

When our group was finally ready to return to the river, I kept my goal clearly in focus. I controlled my breathing and worked hard at communicating with Tee. We were starting to get it; we had control of our boat and successfully navitaged several more hazards in the river. We canoed down two funnels (kind of like a baby water fall), both of us kneeling in front of our canoe seats to make our boat more steady. When we reached the part of the river where the banks have been cleared before, and more housing fronted the river, we breathed a sigh of relief.

The challenges didn't stop there, though. The wind picked up and kept changing direction. We had to employ different strokes to keep our canoe straight and stable. We did have the ability to spend more time looking at the scenery. A bike trail ran along the river at this point, and occasionally bikers would wave or call out a friendly hello.

As we neared the take out point, we were looking for the pink tape L. had strung up to alert us it was near. We never saw the tape on a tree at the fifteen minute mark, but spotted the pink streamers hanging from a bridge and waving in the breeze, marking the take out was immediately ahead. I saw a guy in a red shirt running across the bridge and heard three short whistles, alerting us to move forward to be the next canoe to come off the river. The man ran toward the bank, holding a camera. The man was Lew. He drove down to the park to meet us, and he was snapping all sorts of pictures of us paddling.

We maneuvered toward the right, but the current kept trying to pull us back toward the middle of the river. L. called to us to hurry and turn toward the boat ramp, or we'd have several more miles to canoe before we could attempt another take out. I don't quite know what I did, but I planted my paddle into the river bottom, the water was shallow here, and it whipped our canoe right towards the boat launch. L. grabbed the canoe and pulled us in. We had to haul ass, removing our canoe, to make room for the next boat to take out.

We made it! I was relieved, excited, exhausted and happy all at once. Lew wrapped me up in a huge hug and told Tee and me how proud he was of us.

He got some great photos. If I ever figure out how to post them in my blog, I'll put one up. Now, if only I could remember how we did all those strokes. We need a bunch more practice before we go to Canada =).

That was my Saturday. By the time we got home and put away our canoe and gear, the four hours of sleep I got the night before had been all used up. I laid down for a short nap, but ended up sleeping almost four hours. It was the best sleep, though.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Navigating the Green River without a partner or a decent paddle

In July, Tee and I are heading to Canada for an eight day canoe trip. We'll be canoeing a world-renown canoe circuit with twelve other people, backcountry camping, and sometimes hiking with our boats in tow(portaging). We've been officially preparing for this trip for about nine months, including occasional shakedown cruises(to "shake out" people who can't, or don't want to, handle the activities); I've been preparing (working on strength and endurance) for over a year, on my own.

On Saturday, we canoed the Green River, which runs through western King County. The plan was to canoe 15 river miles with our group, and another group going on the circuit. During the outing, we were supposed to learn some new strokes, figure out what the water looks like when there's a hazard in it and how to avoid deadheads and sweepers (more about those later).

Last Wednesday, our group leader emailed instructions about our day on the river with this ominious ending: NEVER ALLOW YOUR CANOE TO GET SIDEWAYS TO THE RIVER CURRENT!!! Considering that Tee and I spent almost the whole time sideways when we canoed Lake Washington, I was a bit worried. Okay, that's a lie. I was freaked---FREAKED---out. I sent a speed-of-light email back to our leader stating just that.He replied saying to take a chill pill, and that he would be our boat buddy. When you're out on the water in a canoe, I guess it's prudent to have another canoe you travel with.

So, Saturday was gorgeous. Sunshine, unseasonably warm, we couldn't have ordered a better day to go on a canoe trip. Our fearless leader (from this point on, L.), his son J., Tee and I were paired up to be the first two boats out on the river. Before we embarked, the group received some instruction on strokes to use in the river, what to look for on the water's surface, and if we start to get sideways to the current, to let it turn our boats 180 degrees. Then we could work at righting ourselves without tipping. Sounds fair enough.

Tee and I pushed off from the shore; he was in the bow and I was sitting stern, so that made him the muscle, and I was the steering committee. I was stiff. Because I was so afraid, I wouldn't look behind me, to make sure my paddle was horizontal to the canoe, which provides rudder-like steering capabilities. L. kept shouting commands, and we'd try to fulfill them. He pulled his canoe next to ours and gave me a pep talk. "Loosen up-- it's okay. You have to turn and move around. The canoe won't tip over." I tried to take his advice, and began to look at my paddle more.

After spinning backward and righting ourselves several times, I realized it was okay to look around and move. This would not rock the canoe. Tee and I communicated strokes to each other and pointed out hazards. We ran into several sweepers-- tree branches and brush hanging over the river-- but we avoided the big, gnarly ones. We still didn't have stellar control of our canoe, but it was definitely better than when we started out.

L. let us take the lead boat position, so he could watch us paddle. J. sat in the bow, and the bowman is supposed to take the initiative to look for water hazards. L. pulled out his camera to snap some photos. As he was putting away his camera, their boat hit a deadhead--logs that are partially, or totally, submerged in the river-- and started to capsize. They tried to right their canoe, but couldn't. Their boat flipped over, plunging them into the icy river water.

Everything happened so dang fast. We were ahead of them, and heard the splash. When we looked behind us, they were bobbing along, grasping their overturned canoe. Flotsam coursed down the river. Tee and I shouted, "What do we do to help you?" L. shouted back, "Get us to the shore!" We started to to do a backwater stroke, to slow our progress, and then a draw type stroke to pull closer to his boat. Another canoe team, C. and D., pulled up on the other side of the capsized pair, and J. panicked. He pulled himself up into their canoe; they grabbed the free floating paddles, and the current swiftly carried their canoe downstream. L. yelled out for J.; he couldn't hear him any more, and the position he was at, latching on to his canoe, prevented him from seeing J. getting into C. and D.'s canoe. We assuered L. that J. was fine, that he was heading down river in the other canoe. "I lost my partner; I have to do this alone," he shouted. The grimace on L.'s face shimmered with defeat.

L. latched on to our canoe as we drew near, and we maneuvered toward the shore. Once we were close enough, I lunged at a thicker branch, to stop our momentum down the river. The river flowed on; I planted my feet firmly onto the bottom of the canoe and leaned back as far as I could. I ended up bending the metal frame of my seat all out of shape. While I clung to the branch, L. and Tee tied up our canoes to tree branches with the painters (the rope connected to the bow for securing it to a dock). Another canoe from our group caught up with us, and headed for shore to help out.

L. asked us to just talk to him while he pulled of his soaked jacket and shirt. He was trying to regain his composure. His whole body convulsed in large shivers as he rung them out. I offered him my sweat jacket, and at first he said no. I brought my work out jacket along with me, which is kind of cropped and obviously womens' clothing. Everything in his canoe was soaked. J. had opened up their dry sack and hadn't closed it back up properly. After a few minutes of convulsing from biting cold, L. changed his mind and put on my sweat jacket.

Once he got his canoe bailed out, L. had to canoe alone, kneeling in the middle section of his boat. Both his paddle and J.'s were picked up by C. and D., so he had to use the spare paddle he had tied to his bow- to- stern line. We all gingerly pushed away from the shore, wondering how this trip would end.

~~ I started to type up my entry earlier today, and I thought I'd finish it up this evening. It's too much to tell in one sitting, so I'll finish up tomorrow. Good night.~~

Nanny FDA will tell us what's the right medicine to take

Mark, over at South Puget Sound Libertarian, posted an excellent blog entry on the FDA's recent ruling concerning medical use of marijuana. I read about the ruling in Friday's Seattle PI, but I didn't have the time then to make an entry. I can't improve on the coverage that Mark's given to the politically motivated ruling that goes against other scientific research that supports marijuana's postive medical attributes. I would like to contribute some further research to support how politically biased the FDA is.

Please take a moment to read up about the FDA's continued brown nosing of Congress and the DEA. The LA Times wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning article, back in 2000, about the proven track record of the FDA bending over to accommodate politics, at the peril of patients' lives. The rapid review policies started during the early days of AIDS research, according to the LA Times article, and then morphed into what we see today. The first drug reviews to accelerate were for life threatening conditions, like AIDS and cancers.

The definition of what is a "serious" medical condition must have changed, with added pressure from Capitol Hill and various pharmacological lobbying pushes. Take a look at this list of twelve FDA approved medications withdrawn from the market for safety reasons, starting in 1997. This PBS Frontline document was posted online Nov. 13, 2003. Since that time, more medications, like Vioxx, have been removed. Take a look at what these drugs were prescribed for. How many of them were for life threatening situations? A big, fat goose egg.

With the nannyism of the FDA, it's been easy to forget caveat emptor. The sound scientific foundation the FDA was established on has cracked under the weight of the ever-growing fedbeast. It's time to take back control of what we put in our bodies. We are the owners of our bodies, not federal agencies, even though we are spoon-fed a different story each day. Check and recheck what is prescribed to you. Just because your physician recommends a particular medication doesn't mean it's right for you (or anyone for that matter). She might not even know it well. Examine closely the physician comments in each of the articles I've put up links for.

Keep in mind that there are numerous treatment options available, even alternative treatments. It's up to each one of us to check out our medical options. The FDA, or any other nanny-state organization, isn't going to do it for you, even though they'd like to keep the blindfolds on and lull us into apathy. The FDA's ability to remain objective and adhere to sound scientific standards is shattered.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Flowers and bad poetry

I'm whupped. I've got a few stories to tell from the weekend, but they will have to wait until morning. I spent some time in the garden on Sunday, and I spied some green wombs sprouting forth from the fuzzy green leaves in my northern most garden. To herald the return of this floral beauty, I'm posting the poem I wrote two years ago in tribute to its spicy, hot botanical presence.

Take a swig out of your bowl of coffee and get ready to snap your beatnik fingers for some exceptionally bad poetic verse.


Satin lips protrude from a fuzzy womb
Coaxed by warm rays of light.

Lips, a painted sunset, inspired by
Fiery summer dusk, peeking out of a lime.

A tangerine kiss emerges,
Summoned by febrile humidity.
Eyes and lashes of indigo materialize,
Wrapped in mango frill.

Lovely sage neck, heavy and tired,
Bows and creases from age.
Sepia wrinkles curl and crack,
Grandmother’s brush against baby’s cheek.

Cataracts cloud indigo, hardening to black
Decay sets in, the coral blush is a memory.
Hardened avocado rind encases the promise,

The hint of flame colored lips grazing spring’s pout.
~lewlew April 2004

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Excellent entry at NoNAIS.org

With the ongoing comment debate connected to my blog entry on an independent supply of food for my family, I think today's entry at NoNAIS.org is very timely.

Will this WASL development instigate parents to rise up?

Washington parents complain about the WASL personal student survey. OSPI pulls it. It's a small victory, but illuminates the immense pressure the OSPI is under.

Ironically, the survey appears to be similar to the one that was part of the Iowa Basic Skills standardized test for years. I'll take any victory on the WASL front, though, and celebrate. Yay parents for speaking up for your kids!!!! Let's take the next step and rally to mothball the WASL. Join the voices that have been advocating for years to ashcan this asinine test.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tuesdays with Morrie slammed my gut

Deadhead Girl has that "on demand" deal with her cable. When I was over kickin' back on the couch, and enjoying a Mike's Cranberry Hard Lemonade, she played parts of this Bill Maher show. I guess it's on cable; it reminds me of Jon Stewart's Daily Show going out for a beer with the panel at Meet the Press. Anyhoo, we were watching this deal, and Bill Maher made a comment about how needy attention seeking Americans are, "from Me to shining Me." Are Americans such glam grabbers? Are they just out for their 15 minutes of fame, so they'll blab, blunder and blog until they capture some of what they crave?

I took Rosie to a performance of Tuesdays with Morrie, now playing at the Seattle Repertory Theatre, and after seeing that play, I'm not convinced that Americans are just narcissistic. People have lost the human connection, especially Americans.

We run from point A to point B, grab a burger and a coke, hustle off to point C-- we do this all day, fall into bed and do it all over again in the morning. It's out of the norm for children to be stay- at- home kids, spending days with a parent. Day care, preschool and all day kindergarten dominate the tenderest years of todays' children.

Tuesdays with Morrie slams you in the gut-- don't wait until you are dying to begin to live. Not all of us will have the time Morrie had to learn this truism and impart it to someone he loved. We need to embrace this; I think at a subconscious level we understand it, but have so few meaningful contacts within our lives to make it a reality. We cover up with busyness to make up the fact we are afraid, or unable, to sustain substantial relationships.

The beauty, and the bane, of the digital age is we can reach out to people around the world who have similiar interests and dreams. Blogs, message boards and email groups connect us to people. They also gobble up our time, taking away from real time human bonds.

When I'm online, I get irritated when I'm interrupted. I enjoy the time I spend on the web, reading and connecting with folks. It's magnetic, like the phone used to be-- as soon as I log on, my kids pick up the signal and rally around to talk with me. I could have just spent hours tootling around, doing other things undisturbed, but the minute I hop online, they're ready to connect with me. When I listened to Tee do his hundredth impression of Stuart from MAD TV, it clicked that I won't always be able to experience this. When will he tire of trying to connect with me? That's the time to push away from the damn keyboard and experience a human moment.

Rosie ribbed me about crying during the play. I did cry, sometimes I bawled. While I worried because she said the play was good, but wasn't worth blubbering over, I take heart in the smudged black eyeliner and the tear dribble stains I saw as we exited the theatre. And she let me give her a big hug before she went to bed that night. We connected that day, even if she doesn't want to admit it; teens are interesting creatures.

I'm babbling here-- the point is reach out and make a friend; get dirty; loaf around a bit. Don't be afraid of looking stupid and dance in your kitchen every chance you get. Don't think people are laughing at you; laugh along, because the absurdities of life are funny. Enjoy today's technology without forgetting the lovely touch of having a real human sitting across from you as you drink your coffee.

Sometimes you cannot believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel. And if you are ever going to have other people trust you, you must feel that you can trust them, too - even when you’re in the dark. Even when you’re falling. ~Morrie Schwartz
Dying is only one thing to be sad over... Living unhappily is something else. ~Morrie Schwartz

Who picks out these poll thingies?

VH1 conducted a poll about the most popular song lyrics in Britian. Pollsters had 100 choices to draw from, and they must have been odd snippets, because look at the top three:
1. One life, with each other, sisters, brothers ironically from the song One, by U2
So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry, and you want to die from How Soon is Now by the Smiths
3. I feel stupid and contagious, here we are now, entertain us from none other than Nirvana's hit Smells Like Teen Spirit
Am I the only one that thinks those lyrics are lame? Yeah, each song was good in its own way, and were popular. But are those wow lyrics, the ones you sing in the shower or belt away when you're alone in the car?

If it was a perfect world, and I was conducting the poll (and controlling the votes), here's what the top five would be =)
1. He used to say soul shine, Its better than sunshine, Its better than moonshine, Damn sure better than rain from Soulshine by Gov't Mule
2. Life is too short so love the one you got, Cause you might get run over or you might get shot from What I got by Sublime
3. She only drinks coffee at Midnight, when the moment is not right, her timing is quite-unusual you see her confidence is tragic, but her intuition magic from Meet Virginia by Train
4. Little bag of bones been out all night He needs some pettin' and lovin' on his head He needs some pettin' and lovin' on his rain-soaked hide from Kitty by the Presidents on the United States of America
5. I'm just a girl, living in captivity Your rule of thumb Makes me worry some I'm just a girl, what's my destiny? from Just a Girl by No Doubt
These are some of my favorite snippets, out of a bazillion, but just like a gift wrapped package looks unfinished without a bow, lyrics don't look right without the rest of the trappings. However, they're much more interesting than the VH1 results, in my overly biased opinion.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I want to be successful at feeding my family without dependance on stores

Before I left for my InDesign class this evening, I spent a few minutes reading over at TCF. Alchemist posted a link and quote from the entry Bacon at cryptogon.com. What a heavy topic--yowsa.

Kevin is right, you know. We can hypothesize and offer conjecture all we want, but when it's time to get the chicken (or pig) ready for the pot, can we do it? The whole subject of feeding my family has been on my mind for a long time. I love to garden, but I'm still a horrible veggie gardener. The edible yield of my garden, besides herbs, has been paltry at best.

You know how Lew digs Ted Nugent? We've watched Ted Nugent's reality show on OLN a few times. One show we caught featued a lesson on butchering your own chicken, and the contestants had to do just that to eat their evening meal. Most got right to business, but a few couldn't do it. "Could you do that?" he asked me, and I didn't know how to answer. I wanted to say yes, but the truth is that I'd probably have to be pretty hungry to do that.

I know Lew has the fortitude to properly, and respectfully, handle feeding his family. When he's been successful at deer and elk hunting, he's taken care of handling the animal himself. He does a wonderful job at keeping the animal clean and fresh. I don't know how he can do it, myself, but I'm thankful for his gifts.

Kevin's Bacon post hung around while I was in class, and I thought about it some more on the way home. I telephoned Lew before I left campus, to see if he stopped and picked up some milk. He said to hurry home-- he bought me a present and we needed my rig to pick it up.

What did Lew buy for me tonight? He picked up 60 landscaping bricks off of Craigslist, so I can finish the veggie garden wall I started last year, and to do some of the terracing I'd like to do on the north side of our lot, to fashion more functional garden spots. I don't think I've mentioned it before, here at Yak Attack, but Lew and I are connected by the belly-button. No matter how far apart we are, we pick up each other's vibe. I can't explain it. We've known each other for over 23 years, and this is how it's always been. I haven't told him what I was thinking about this evening, but it won't surprise him a bit when I do.

Kevin is right on the money. We need to practice now, before we have to function in trying circumstances. I've been trying to challenge myself to do just this, and Lew never ceases in amazing me, as he helps me along the way.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

I want to take a moment and wish those who celebrate Easter a happy one. I hope today has been filled with family, friends and joy.

He is Risen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Do I get a prize...

... because I read the number one pick on the top 100 "must read" sci-fi book list? Jed, at FreedomSight, has read 17 of the 100 books. Cutter, over at Wadcutter, read 21 of the list picks. Neither have picked up Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, however.

After perusing the list, I've read four of the books on it.
1. Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke
7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
49. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
51. 1984 by George Orwell
I do feel somewhat redeemed, however, that I've partially read several books on the list, including 61. Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and 85. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

I talked Tee into checking out 34. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card from the library. How could you not when the librarian told you, "It's the best damn book I've ever read,"and then covered her mouth in horror, because she used a pseudo-swear word while talking to a 12 year old, in front of his mother? [note: Tee disagreed with the librarian]. Also, I've purchased for him 27. War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells and 39. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne.

Obviously, I'm not a huge reader of sci-fi, but I do read the genre sometimes. Here are some sci-fi books I've read that I really enjoyed, but didn't make the list: Animal Farm by George Orwell, Jennifer Government by Max Barry, The Third Twin by Ken Follett, Jurassic Park and Timeline by Michael Crichton and all the books that Madeleine L'Engle has written.

So, what's my prize???

Let's Yak About Art--Adolphe Mouron Cassandre

I'm taking a graphic arts class at a local community college, so I can learn how to use the computer program InDesign. I'm a complete n00b when it comes to graphic arts software. This is one of the most challenging classes I've ever taken. For the first three times we met as a class, I was looking for the teacher to throw me a bone, but the other students, most proficient in Pagemaker, ate up the classroom carcass he offered each class. Last night, I finally snatched a piece for myself-- I started to retain the information I picked up and was able to use it (somewhat).

In celebration of my scholastic achievement, today's featured artist is Adolphe Mouron Cassandre (1901-1968). He was a graphic artist,typesetter, artist and set designer. According to the Wikipedia, the posters he designed for Dubonnet wine were some of the first ever created specifically to be viewed by people driving in cars.

The graphics back then were hand drawn before they were printed. His posters and cover desgins were typically art deco, although cubism and surreal influences are apparent in his work as well. Take a look at the poster he did for Ford. I'm not a fan of the Ford company, but this graphic is gorgeous. The poster he created for Golden Club cigarettes is classic art deco design.

I'm having trouble creating an oval with the aid of a computer, while Cassandre created beautiful copy by hand, which held up so well in mass production. That's a unique art perspective, in my opinion. Let's end with a Cassndre quote featured on Art Icons:
"A poster, unlike a painting, is not, and is not meant to be, a work easily distinguished by its 'manner' - a unique specimen conceived to satisfy the demanding tastes of a single more or less enlightened art lover. It is meant to be a mass-produced object existing in thousands of copies - like a fountain-pen or automobile. Like them, it is designed to answer certain strictly material needs. It must have a commercial fashion."~ Adolphe Mouron Cassandre.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Secrets can be found in any old garden

With the current Seattle climate--a yummy, springish warmth, even though the sky has been gray at times--I've been taking advantage of my meteorological good fortune. The past few days I've puttered around our place and spent time playing in the dirt. Our suburban gulch is in the middle of a transition, with our wall building projects. Lew found a reliable fill dirt guy, with a truck (hurrah!). He's been hauling away pick up after pick up loads of dirt and rock. I'm looking at doing some more terracing in the established garden on the north side of our lot. I started last summer, and it's been a good thing so far.

One of Rosie's most favorite books is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. If you're not familiar with the story, at it's most basic level, the book is about a bratty little girl who learns how to relate to people while investigating the wonders of a forgotten garden. That's what gardening is for me, salve for my bratty disposition. I always feel more relaxed after spending time out among my plants.

I'll let you in on some of the secrets in my garden. Every garden clutches a few close in to her chest. Let's start with the numerous grape hyacinths that surround the small batch of white candytuft I trasnplanted two years ago-- I have no clue where they came from. I have no recollection of ever planting them. I remember transplanting the candytuft-- I felt extremely guilty that the plant blob I dug up from the spreading blob on the north side of my lot sat in a recycle container for almost a month before I plopped it into the ground. And no, I didn't bring the hyacinths over with the candytuft; this is the only spot they're found in my garden. The purple and white are striking together. I love how they compliment each other.

There is a small lady's mantle plant growing under the every increasing blob of candytuft on the north side of my garden. I've known about this secret for a while. I discovered it last summer, but I thought it was a bit too small to transplant during the heat of August. It's thriving and ready for a new home. I'm thinking of moving it under the weeping cherry tree. I have another lady's mantle in the back yard that I brought home from the nursery before I uncovered my hiding jewel, so I think I'll save it from further tramplings, courtesy of Miss Virginia, and relocate both of them to the same spot.

The lavender start that sprung up right next to the sidewalk grew over the winter. I uncovered it when I scraped away the dead leaves I left to serve as mulch. It's about two inches high and ready to move to a sunnier location.

You know the two miniature roses crowded out by the rosemary? It turns out they're each two rose plants, so I had four to transplant around the "coolest rose bush ever that won't die, despite the odds."

As I've dug around the yard the past few days, I've been greeted by earthworms. This means that the icky, sterile soil that covered our yard when we moved in is living and breathing again. The beauty bark that smothered the dirt and weeds is almost completely decomposed and when I turn over the soil it's brown or coffee colored, instead of a sickly gray. Who would have thought that wiggly earthworms would crank my jack-in-the-box? Back in the day, it would have grossed me out, but today I can't get enough of those critters. They mean my work (or lack there of, as with the leaf deal) and methods of gardening without chemicals are paying off.

The time I spend reading about gardens has ramped up, too. Sunny, over at TCF, told me about the blog Urban Ecology, Renewing the World One Backyard at a Time. It's written by Howard Malone, who has "a B.S. in Environmental/Conservation Biology, an Associate Degree in Horticultural Science, and some 10 years professional experience as a landscape contractor." Two other cool garden/gulching blogs are Urban Agrarian (caution for dial-up people-- slow loading photos) and Road Kill Cafe at the MYOB Gulch(this is Morrigan's blog about the gulch she started with Jeffersoniantoo; they hang out at TCF sometimes).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Check out "Current Observations"

I'm adding a fellow Washington resident to my blogroll. Don Bangert pens Current Observations. He's been kind enough to check out Yak Attack and make a few comments along the way.

Don presents interesting perspective and cool graphics. Mosey on over to his blog and check it out.

Forfeiture: Now looking into the Gift Horse's Mouth

Goobermint lawyers sought two defendants' gold caps, granted in a seizure warrant. According to the KOMO TV news article, the defendants were transferred from the Federal Detention Center they've been held at to the US Marshall's office, where they were informed that they would be transported to a dentist for the removal of the caps.

The goobbermint folks claim that they thought the caps were "snap on," like a retainer. If that's the case, why would they need to take the defendants to a denist for removal? Wouldn't the two men be able to remove the caps themselves?

After the against-their-will-dental patients contacted their defense lawyers, a motion to stop the seizure was made and granted. Since then, I guess a permant stay of seizure has been granted in this case.

Check out the quote in the article from Richard J. Troberman, a forfeiture specialist and former president of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:
"I've been doing this for over 30 years and I have never heard of anything like this. It sounds like Nazi Germany when they were removing the gold teeth from the bodies, but at least then they waited until they were dead."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Look what the dog dug up

While looking for some dog blogs on my favorite breed-- coonhound doggies, of course-- I stumbled over two interesting blogs. Urban Agrarian is a blog that features urban gulching topics (dial-up caution-- lots of photos, slower loading). The blog's subtitle is "Adventures of growing, harvesting and cooking vegetables, eggs and chickens while living on a small lot." Dog Politics features commentary and calls to action, regarding political issues and pets, specifically dogs.

What drew me in is both blogs have interesting information, located in their sidebars, about NAIS and why it is bad, bad juju for both animals and people. Listed in the Urban Agrarian's Favorites section is NoNAIS.org. In addition, Dog Politics has a plethora of information about mandatory chipping around the world, to alert dog owners about the invasion of privacy that can accompany chipping.

There's increasing discussion out in the blogosphere about the nastiness of NAIS. I was encouraged to see two more trumpets sounding the alert. Both blogs are crammed with tons of useful information. I've barely dived into what they have to offer.

Check out the posts that directed me to Urban Agrarian and Dog Politics. Roscoe, the Urban Agrarian's dog friend, looks a lot like Miss Virginia. My miss has shorter ears and much more of the brown in her coat, but this give you a good idea of what she looks like.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

As the years tumble by

Sixteen years seems like a long time. It's over a decade, well on its way to two. I can attest, however, that it's a blip, a twinkle in your eye. Recently, Rosie turned sixteen. Was it really that long ago that I cradled my tiny Rosebud, her miniscule fingers curled around my gargantuan thumb? This confident, friendly, intelligent being who occupies my home developed over night, I swear. It was just yesterday that we snuggled together with her favorite stuffed toy and read the Officer Buckle book, or about that dirty dog, Harry, right? A few hours ago we were horseback riding with her Brownie troop, selling cookies and dancing like ballerinas. It was just a few minutes ago that I dug fossils with my growing girl and watched her play basketball. Thirty seconds ago, we attended the volunteer thank you event at the zoo. She invited me to go as her special guest. Just a second ago, she became a sophmore and started to gel her future plans, step by step.

On my kids' birthdays I sing to them the Beatles song, "Birthday." This year, it brought tears to my eyes, to think about singing it.
You say it's your birthday,
It's my birthday, too-- yeah
They say it's your birthday,
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy Birthday to you

Thank you for sixteen unique, beautiful years, Rosie.

Monday, April 03, 2006

The good mixed in with the bad

On the surface, the Handbook appears to be a helpful document. It does give disaster preparation information and checklists. It has detailed instructions and illustrations showing how to turn off your utilities in an emegency.

Mixed in with the benign, there's ironic humor that borders on macabre. The cartoon page demostrating how to cover your cough and clean your hands after coughing and sneezing is followed by the introduction about terrorism. Fielding a bomb threat phone call, including a handy-dandy check list, is in the same book as hot weather precautions. Go figure.

Explanations about how to "shelter-in-place,"-- duct-tape plastic over the windows, doors and electrical outlets to prevent what's bad outside from drifting inside-- pop up through out the scarier portions of the Handbook. Simple descriptions about chemical agents and radioactive materials, followed by tips, precede more detailed information on specific biological agents. Even though I'd never heard of Tularemia before September 24, 2005, here it is in the Handbook, revision date January 2005. I've been living under a rock, for sure.

After Lew and I read through it, we both came down with a serious case of heebie-jeebies. Is the Handbook the warning siren, alerting citizens to what awaits them, to be brought forth by some seamless source? The conspiracy theorist within is saying, "Yes. Yup. That's spot on." I looked at the Handbook as a half-empty glass. A heaviness weighed down my soul after reading it.

Today, the prepared person within me is trying to say that the glass is actually half full. The Handbook's contents isn't any great surprise. At least it gives some warning of what may come and supplies information. It's up to me to check out the validity of the tips and see if any of the more serious ones are worth the paper they're printed on.

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Lew went to a Home Show over the weekend. We'd done work for some of the vendors present at the event, so he stopped by to show his support for our customers. On a table near the enterance, pamphlets about emergency preparedness sat snuggly between real estate flyers and business cards. He picked up one titled "Disaster Preparedness Handbook," so I could read it. Lew was being nice-- he knows I feel being prepared is important and that I blog about it on occasion. He didn't look the pamphlet closely until he got home and gave it to me. After we looked at together, this freebie highlighted for us the darkness lurking under the surface. We know it's there, but we don't often talk about it.

My first question about this particular "Handbook," (from this point forward, I'll refer to it as the Handbook) was what organization is the Washington Military Department--Emergency Management Division. They co-authored the Handbook with the Washington State Department of Health. I checked out their website, and I was still in the dark. Washington state had a military department-- since when, and who are they?

After checking the sidebars on the left and right side of the EMD's home page, I had a "duh" moment. There was a button at the top toolbar that said Military Department. Pressing it brought me to the website for the Washington National Guard, although the wimpy, washed out title stating "Washington Military Department," fades into the background due to the color photos and navigation buttons surrounding it.

After cruising around the National Guard site for a bit, I stumbled upon a .pdf titled, Strategic Plan 2004 Final. I haven't read the whole document yet (it's 64 pages), but under first skim, it appears to be a plan for this state military department's scope and direction during the years 2006-2011. On page 12 of the document, under "Performance Assessment," I discovered that some time back in 2003/2004 (this is a vague guess based on the wording used in this section of the document and the publishing date on it of 04-12-2004), Washington's National Guard, Emergency Management and E-911 became intergrated into the umbrella agency of the Washington Military Department. I must be living under a rock, because you'd think as a news-reading and watching person, I would have picked up on this at some point, especially when I read about the department's mission.
The Military Department mission is unique in state government. It requires a
seamless, interconnected relationship with all levels of government throughout
the state. When disasters strike, the Military Department has the state lead and
must work with other federal, state and local agencies to protect the lives and
property of Washington citizens and businesses.
Every time I read the word seamless in a government document I get the chills. Nothing good ever comes from "seamless, interconnected relationships," in the government realm. It means that draconian measures will pop up and seek to rule our lives, but when we try to search for the source, the "seamless" trail is as convoluted as a plate of spagetti. I didn't even need to read past the front cover to know the Handbook was a bearer of bad news. But, like Pandora, I had to satisfy my curiosity.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Outdoor Art Alert

If you get the chance to drive Highway 101 from Olympia,Wa to Aberdeen, Wa, check out the bigger-than-life cow sculptures in a field at the Mud Bay exit. They're on the south side of the freeway, and the exit is located about 5 minutes west of Black Lake/Olympia. The view of them is better when you're driving west than it is when heading east.

The first one I saw reminded me of Babe the Blue Ox, except that the metal critter wasn't blue. There are two more sculptures west of the first one-- a steer and a mother cow with a calf. I'd like to go back soon and take a detour on the Mud Bay exit, so I can check out the sculptures up close.