Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas from Sunny South Florida!

Posted by Picasa

Where the Pink Flamingoes Come Home to Roost.

Posted by Picasa

The More, the Merrier!

Posted by Picasa
This many in one tree may indicate superfluous Christmas libations.

I Have No Idea Why This Christmas Elf...

Posted by Picasa
is rock-climbing up a palm tree.

Must be a Florida Elf thing.

I just like him. As is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


 Posted by Picasa
I love bugs of all kinds. Butterflies and moths are way high on my list. They're up there with praying mantises and dragonflies - right below wasps.

Being raised by a scientist dad and a writer mom who encouraged such interests, I've been playing with the little critters all my life. I never understood people who screamed at the sight of a bug. They'll do this without even looking first! Only one in eighteen million times is there any cause for any kind of alarm, much less a silly scream.

No, I'm with the crowd who says, *Cuter than a bug in a rug!*

When I was nine or ten, I found a big beautiful cocoon, and took it into my room to see what it would do.

It did nothing.

For a long time, it just sat there in its jar, not moving. Not hatching.

I must have forgotten about it after a while. And either forgot to put a lid on it, or left the lid off on purpose so it could breathe really well.

With such parents, we were also taught to be skeptical of things like ghosts.

But concepts like that stay with us, especially late at night. When it's very dark, and very quiet. When a little child is awakened from a deep sleep by an odd sound.

When I saw this enormous greenish white glow-in-the-dark thing flying around my room, I screamed.

Very loudly.

I screamed something unintelligible about a ghost.

My mother came dashing up the stairs to my rescue. I believe she was explaining to me that there's no such thing as a ghost, when she saw the Thing fluttering around the dark, dark room.

I don't actually remember if she jumped a bit. But she knew it wasn't a ghost.

By now I expect you've figured out it was that luna moth. It had hatched, and climbed out of its pupa and cocoon, and pumped its new wings all sleek and strong, and commenced to fly around. It must have made some noise in the process, which woke me up.

I've loved luna moths especially much ever since.

One day many years later, at a friend's place out in the swamp around Micosukee, Florida, I saw one flying around outside by a light. I quick got my camera and tripod. My friend was completely skeptical about such picture-taking at night, of a skittery wild thing no less.

Let me rephrase that: He was laughing at my plans. Snorting and sneering, he was! He said, --You're wasting your time and your film, they'll never turn out. He was a very quiet, laid back sort of guy. But his opinion was loud and clear.

I explained to him it was in his best interest to be quiet for me and let me have my fun. That's a paraphrase, there.

When I showed him the pictures later on, he was a perfect gentleman, and fell all over himself apologizing most handsomely. He never threw cold water on my photographic endeavors again.

This picture is my favorite one of the series.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Not Hide Nor Hair

I haven't seen any insurance adjustor anywhere.

Not here, anyway.


Patriot Act: It's Not Just for Patriots Any More!

Patriot Act report targets meth

The ultimate test of a scientific theory is its ability to predict the postulated outcome.

If, say, I think 2+2=4, and I test this over and over by adding up two sets of two things and getting four every time, I know my theory - that 2+2=4 - is valid. I feel comfortable that next time I want to add 2+2, I can safely predict I'll get 4. And not get too much egg on my face by it being something other than 4.

If, however, I sometimes get 4, others 5 or 3 or 18, it's time to go back to the drawing board.

In real life you don't always get 100% accuracy, especially in "soft science" fields. That's where a little thing called judgment comes in.

In the soft science of predicting the behavior of politicians, and the outcomes of their actions and/or decisions, I've got a high rate of accuracy. Those who disagreed with my original prediction sometimes come back and play *Apologist,* saying, Well, it only happened like you said it would because...

Or, they'll say, Well, you're only interpreting it that way...

But usually they can't say I'm out and out clearly wrong.

One thing I predicted from the start - along with lots of other people - was that the Patriot Act would not be reserved for antiterrorist functions, as promised by its promoters, but would quickly be applied to law-enforcement activities like the Drug War, and to purely political activities like investigating people who vote for the other side, or disagree with your policies a little too loudly.

Since it's one of the predictions I didn't make in a public forum, I've kept my mouth shut as its powers were quickly put to use for things that have nothing to do with the so-called War on Terror. Personally, I feel I can't blow my own horn on my accuracy unless I wrote down my prediction and posted it or emailed it around. I have lots of witnesses to my early verbal statements, but in this type of endeavor, I take verbal *documentation* as not worth the paper it's not written on.

This one is too blatant for me to just let slide, though. This time the expansion of the Patriot Act to include activities in the War on Drugs is specifically written into its continued use.

Whatever your position on illegal drugs, it seems to me that it's totally improper to include these special powers in an act that was written for antiterrorism use. If you want an anti-meth bill, write an anti-meth bill.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Insurance Adjustor

Insurance adjustor?

What insurance adjustor?

heh heh heh!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


One fine day, an old friend of mine decided he wanted to lose weight.

Actually, the way he put it to me was: --I'm FAT! (Although he isn't.)

I think he also decided he was pissed off at blood cancers, since it looks like they're kind of chasing after his friends and family.

So instead of going on some run-of-the-mill diet and/or exercise plan, he decided to join a group that trains people for marathon events as a conduit for raising funds to battle these cancers. It's called Team in Training. They run around in big long circles and dash by on bikes and stuff.

I learned about this novel approach to weight loss when - by snail mail, taking me back - he sent around the funniest call for donations that I've ever read in my life.

Which kind of figures. He's a funny guy. He's funny for a living. And makes a living at it, which usually doesn't happen that way.

So I'm sitting there in one of the financially challenged phases of my life, watching time go by, wishing I had $10 to send them. Plotting and scheming to put the touch on the neighbors. Wondering how he's doing, considering how the entire world has donor fatigue after the 2004 Florida hurricanes and the tsunami and such.

And not long after I got that letter, Katrina came.

And then a Pakistan earthquake that killed a huge number of people.

Then Wilma.

These things surely affected Team in Training's ability to fundraise for its more steady sort of plight. Cancer is all about being vicious and relentless. Natural disasters have a very different life cycle. A different donor response, too. When we see so very many people suffering so badly, and so suddenly, we tend to empty our pockets to help. It's a good thing. But it may not leave much for donating to other worthy but more day-to-day needs.

I started to notice that long ago, when my friend and I developed a habit of calling each other with Disaster News & Announcements when disasters occurred in our neighborhoods. We'd do this no matter how pressed for time, or for long-distance phone call money, we were.

So I wondered how he'd deal with the donor fatigue issue. I mean, continuing on such a drive after Katrina struck me as a bit quixotic. Charmingly so, yes. Maybe hopelessly so, too.

But no.

Being who he is, he goes blithely on, not changing course one whit.

He's been doing all these practice runs, getting geared up for a big old marathon run in Hawaii. Don't worry. He's buying his own ticket. Plus he's running there, but not TO there, he's definitely flying over on a plane like a normal person. (Straightened that out with his wife, I did.)

As luck would have it, our worst financial surprises are behind us - just for this paycheck I mean, don't want to tempt fate here!!! - medical events like anaphylactic shock and a brown recluse spider bite, plus hurricanes eating the house, you know the drill. Suddenly, with that marathon fast approaching, it's this Saturday so time's running out - suddenly, oh finally, I have that $10 I can spare on hand.

I sent it in. Just now. Here's the link:

Oh happy day!

This guy who's worked so hard, against such odds, to make his goal has earned it.

Earned it. It's not like he's just asking for donations here. Guy's sweating his butt off, cheerfully keeping on, and courteously ignoring any hint of difficulty presented by too many innocent people needing too much help just now. It's not that he didn't notice, I'm sure. He doesn't miss much. He just chooses to keep on keepin' on.

So I hope you'll send something too.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Caution! Girlie Stuff Alert! Read at Your Own Risk!

I know I must be in perimenopause, because my periods only come here and there now. And when they do they're always light. Plus, it turns out people born in March get the earliest onset of menopause. Like, right around age 47. Hey! that's me.

Of course, this happened the very next month after I just bought a big huge deep-discount box of tampons at Sam's. Naturally.

The only thing that really makes them come now is when I go to the acupuncturist. But since it's been many months since I could afford that, I've had hardly any "womanlies" at all.

Until a couple months ago. That one was pretty average.

And again a couple days ago.

But this one came with some oomph to it.

Some bite to it.

I basked in it. That old familiar pain. That heavy she-woman flow.

When I was a teenager we used to call our period our "friend." As in, --My friend is coming. --My friend came last night.

That's just how it feels right now. An old familiar friend. The kind where you already know what the other one's going to do next, and where you can sit together for hours doing this or that and not say a word and still be perfectly comfortable.

Hey. Glad to see you back, friend.