Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Usimaki Potato Salad - Yum-eeeee!

Usimaki Potato Salad

8 pounds potatoes (I like baking potatoes as I think they are easier to peel when hot)

5-6 hard boiled eggs (I’ve been known to use 8 as I like boiled eggs with potatoes)

1 pint jar of Vlasic Kosher Dill pickle spears (no substitutions or it won’t taste as good!)

1 quart of real mayonnaise

1 large onion, chopped fine

Some celery, chopped fine (this is the part where you can add your favorite crunchies if you like, but in my opinion, less is more than enough)

¼ cup prepared mustard (can cut this down if you don’t like mustard, but the amount of mayo used will more than mask the taste of the mustard!)

Dried parsley flakes (optional)

Salt, pepper and paprika

Cook potatoes until tender but still hold their shape. NOTHING is worse than undercooked potatoes in potato salad! Unless it’s mushy over cooked potatoes! Hard boil eggs and peel (OLD eggs work best for easy peeling!). Chop peeled potatoes. Chop onions finely, then ALL of the pickles, celery, and egg whites. Add some dried parsley flakes if you’ve got them and like the way they green up the mixture. Mix all together and put in refrigerator. My sister-in-law adds chopped bell peppers for added color. The “secret” ingredient of this salad is the pickles and the mayo, the rest is just window dressing, knock yourself out, but try it once the way it’s written above and THEN get creative!

Chop and mashed egg yolks then add mustard, salt and pepper and some paprika. Cut potatoes up in bowl large enough to be able to mix with enthusiasm. Mix together refrigerator mixture and egg yolks and then add all to potatoes. Use the entire quart of mayo (don’t even think about your arteries at this point!) and mix well. Adding more salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle paprika over the top and return covered to refrigerator until chilled. You can, of course, make this the day before as it only gets better with time, just remix and re-season with paprika.

This recipe is handed down from my eldest daughter’s mother-in-law and it’s simple, but delicious. The mom-in-law is Vel Usimaki, hence the name of this salad. I had to send a recipe out in email as part of a swap and since I went to all THAT trouble I thought I'd also share with you. It sure made me hungry just to type it all out!

Friday, January 26, 2007

In My Own Backyard

When I went out to get my mail awhile ago I saw this on the telephone pole right behind my house. I figured he'd be long gone by the time I got my camera, but he waited for me!

I went in my neighbor's driveway to try and get closer. I sure wanted him to turn around, but he was watching the bayou for dinner, I guess.

I ended up in my own backyard and shot a half dozen or so before the sound of the shutter made him take flight.

We see some very interesting birds right here in my neighborhood and according to my mailing address, I live in Houston. 6 million people and counting and the wildlife all trying to live in peaceful coexistence. Scratch that, the people are killing and maiming one another constantly...

After I downloaded the pictures to my computer I "cheated" with some color enhancement, cropping and magic.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Next Camera - SP-550 UZ

My kids tease me about how many cameras I have and darn if I'm not going to get another one! It's the SP-550 UZ and it's awesome sounding.
Far and wide, the world's most powerful ultra zoom. Capture the moment, and capture the action, with the world's most powerful ultra zoom — the 7.1 megapixel SP-550 UZ. Its new 18x wide-angle super-telephoto zoom lens gets you closer to your subject than any other compact digital camera on the market. Dual Image Stabilization eliminates blur. And with high-speed sequential shooting and new Pre-Capture technology, you'll capture anything that moves. Even shoot in low light without a flash, thanks to Bright Capture Technology, and it's easy to preview, shoot and share with the large 2.5" high-resolution LCD.
With a burst rate of up to 15fps, you can freeze moments in time to get the shot you want. And the new Pre-Capture technology works as soon as the focus is locked, it automatically archives five frames in the camera's buffer memory prior to the shutter release. You'll capture the perfect shot even if your reaction time is slow.
Its got an electronic viewfinder - that's important to me. I hate the cameras that you view with the LCD screen. It just doesn't seem right to NOT have a viewfinder to look through. I've been peering through viewfinders since my Kodak Brownie days and I don't like to change. It's far easier for me to frame the shot I want with a viewfinder too.
Shooting Modes 30 Shooting Modes: Auto, Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, My Modes, GUIDE, Scene Presets (Portrait, Landscape, Landscape & Portrait, Night Scene, Night & Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self-Portrait, Available Light Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Auction, Shoot & Select1, Shoot & Select2, Beach, Snow, Underwater Wide1, Underwater Wide2, Underwater Macro), Movie.
I think the movie mode is pretty lame since you can't use the k-kewl zoom capabilities and it's got other severe limitations, but that's not a bigee with me anyway. I'd got a couple of "movie cameras" if I feel the need to record movement. I like the idea of the "Self-Portrait" because I like to take pictures of ME! I never say no and I'm always available for a photo shoot. (It's a wonder my ego fits inside the viewfinder, huh?).

The next best part is that the power supply is a lovely 4 AA Batteries! My one big gripe about my "best" camera is that its got priority power and I've got to make sure and charge it before hand or run the risk of being you-know-what out of luck.

Here's the other cool parts:
Size 4.6” W x 3.1” H x 3.1” D (116mm x 78.5mm x 78mm)
Weight 12.9oz. (365g) without batteries and media card
I like it that it uses the x-D PictureCard too since I've got a couple of 1 meggers.

The retail of this brand new puppy is $499.99, but I won't pay that. I'll do some comparison shopping for the best price. This camera will join my bevy of other Olympus beauties...

Olympus Camedia D-340R 1.2 Megapixel Non-Zoom
Olympus Camedia D-490Zoom 1.9 Megapixel 3x Zoom
Olympus Camedia C-740 UltraZoom 3.2 Megapixel 10x Zoom
Olympus E-500 (Evolt) with 8.0 Megapixel 3x Zoom
Olympus FE-140 with 6.0 Megapixel

DPReview has a review on it here, but they don't like Olympus as a rule. In fact a lot of the "experts" don't encourage people to buy Olympus and that's a shame in my humble opinion. I'm not a camera whiz, for sure, I mostly stick to Point and Shoot mode, but Olympus makes great cameras with features that *I* want. Plus I like it that I can use the same picture media cards in almost all the cameras.

Check out one of the best if not THE best sites for Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Olympus cameras!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

ADDITIONAL - Norton's AV is the Devil in Disguise

Hmmm...on second thought I took the AVG Free off my computer and am currently evaluating BitDefender AntiVirus Version 10. It annoyed me no end that I couldn't turn off the system scan at 2 a.m. with the AVG version. Probably there is a way to do that, but darn if I could find it and I said 'phooey on youie'. So far so good on BitDefender and it's highly regarded among those in the know. This copy is just for eval so I'll have to pay if I keep it (and, as usual for most of these try-it-before you buy it deals, it nags the living sh*t out of me constantly to do the right thing!).


God help me if I EVER install another Norton utility! You'd think I'd of known from my former Commodore daze that Norton is a resource hog of the 1st ilk! I've been using Norton's AntiVirus 2005 on my desktop and version 2004 on my laptop. I'd upgraded from either 2003 or 2002. It seemed to be doing a decent job of checking my email coming and going and every time it did a system scan nothing untoward showed up.... what more could you ask from a program?

Well my desktop system got s-l-o-w-e-r and s--l--o--w--e--r. I thought I just had too much crap on the harddrive. I've got pictures and MP3's and nasty bits of orphaned files and Lord only knows what else clogging up the innards. I'd recently installed KHOU's recommended Weather Bug too and THEN heard that was an evil POS (piece of software!)...it is reportedly chocked full of spywareish, tattletale intrusions.

The last straw was when a pal was over and I wanted to show him something cool that I'd gotten in email and it took FOREVER for Window's Explorer to get anywhere on my harddrive. It was agonizingly embarrassing and he was popping off to my daughter the whole time wise cracking about how her mom was supposed to be semi computer literate and what was the deal with the slow down. Grrrrr...

So today I said ENUFF and uninstalled the Weather Bug and Norton! I'm not sure if I got all the nasty bits associated with both, but I'm 97% sure I got most of it and the speed picked up immediately. I went out and got AVG Anti-Virus Free and installed that puppy. The whole time MickeySoft's Security Center warnings were doing all but bitch slapping me to get my attention. The only thing it didn't do is bleat! It goes nuts from time to time any way because I don't use a firewall and, as I understand, since I run my own little network via Linksys, I don't need no stinkin' firewall. I set up whatever it is you have to set up so that some yoyo can't sit in front of my house and watch porn movies on my dollar and that's all the protection I need.

I'm very happy with AVG and it didn't insult me a bit that it's FREE. I'm also using their Anti-Spyware, but didn't notice the FREE one until after I'd PAID for the not free one, but that's okay. I'd rather give alms to GRISOFT than Norton any day!

Oh and for my weather watching I got a copy of WeatherPulse Version 2.05 that "does not display ads and is free. An excellent weather monitoring tool that sits on your desktop like Weatherbug". It's telling me right now that it's 47 outside my house. It was a gorgeous day today with sunshine and clear blue skies. I'd gotten so accustomed to the gray funk with drizzles that I'd forgotten what sunshine looked like! I thought I'd been transported to Washington state!

Anyway that's the way today went. You win a few and you lose a lot when you run crap software and what really galls me is that it's so insidious it creeps up on you and steals your resources and before you realize what has happened you are cussing the CPU and whacking your head on the keyboard while waiting for something to load. It WAS Commodore all over again!

Maybe for my next post I'll tell you how yesterday I decided to get rid of HTML in my email, both sending and receiving because it's just getting too tricky to use with all the evil bastards and their virus and worm infections. Check this out in the interim. (Thanks to TechBlog for the link).

Friday, January 19, 2007

UPDATE: Cops, Tasers, OT and The Houston Chronicle

This is today's revelation:

Seven witnesses say Robert McIntosh was shot by a police officer before he was handcuffed during a violent struggle Jan. 8, Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt said today.

"They all indicated he was handcuffed after the shots were fired," Hurtt said in a hastily called news conference today.

Two of three other people who said that McIntosh was handcuffed before he was shot have "recanted or clarified" their statements to indicate otherwise, Hurtt said.

Although he did not mention Yolanda Perry by name, Hurtt made it clear that Perry, the wife of a minister whose church is near the shooting scene, remains the only witness known by police who still maintains police shot a handcuffed man. Perry testified in secret before a grand jury concerning the shooting. She could not be reached immediately for comment Wednesday.

I sure hope they intend to indict Ms. Perry for perjury when she ends up recanting as well. She was just dazzled by the 15 minutes of "fame" and encouraged to "act out" by a certain felonious act-tee-vist, no doubt.


From A blog about the Houston Chronicle with James Campbell

We don't create stories about HPD; we report them

The Chronicle peddles hate on a daily basis. One of their favorite groups to hate is the police. They seem to take turns bashing HPD and then they'll go off on the Sheriff's Department. If the Chronicle had it's way no blacks or browns would ever be arrested. The police would have to give up their handguns, their tasers, their sprays and striking devices and their patrol cars! 'Cause someone might get their widdle self hurt by those big old meanies in blue. Boo hoo.

One brave officer is taking up the challenge and responding quite eloquently and I'm going to cut and paste what he's had to say if for no other reason than to be able to find it. The Chronicle gets all possessive about their archives and dang if you can find something later if you need it. Way to go, "Dude" and here is what you had to say...

I agree that the Chronicle has been hammering the Houston Police Department. The only reason, in my opinion, that the overtime issue is being raised is because the department has been in the "headlines" lately. It's simple, its fresh on everyones mind. If the recent shootings and taser incidents had not occurred this overtime issue would never have came up again.

Now, onto the shooting incident involving Robert Mcintosh. I am a Houston police officer. I work the area where Robert Mcintosh was shot. I was on the scene that day, after the shooting. No one has addressed the fact that the suspect, Mcintosh, had a pocket full of PCP, crack cocaine, and powder cocaine on him at the time of his death. He was a dope dealer, plain and simple. He had driven out of a known dope location, 5050 Sunflower, when Officer Smith stopped him. Mrs. Perry stated she saw the entire incident. I know for a fact that she did not arrive on the scene until an hour after it had happened! One of the main witnesses in this case stated that if she would have been standing where she claimed, he wouldnt have seen anything. He did see the entire incident. Officer Smiths flashlight never left his car even though Mrs Perry stated she saw the officer beat Mcintosh with it. Officer Smith never got into his car and drove off after the shooting as she claims. How could he, he still had the feamle suspect in the back seat of the patrol car. I could go on and on here. The bottom line is, the woman is lying. She lied to the grand jury and I hope and pray they file charges on her. The other witness, Mike Oliva, who the Chronicles crack,expert, journalist quoted as saying he saw the whole thing from his bedroom window, told the homicide investigators that he had only said that so he could get on TV! Once the sworn statement form was placed in front of him he quickly recanted. Why isnt all this reported? I know you guys have to hear these things. This officer is a good man and these blatant lies by a few people and then your paper running with it is a crying shame. The story you guys should be investigating is the "all might" Quannell X. Find out where Mr X is getting his money. Go see his house. He used to be a two bit dope dealer in Sunnyside and Southpark in the late 80's and early 90's. Does he have a paying job now or does he just sponge off the people he claims to be defending? Now that would be an award winning piece of work.

As far as officers working overtime? Who cares? Do ya'll want to go deal with drunks, write tickets in the pouring rain and cold, or work accidents in the driving rain? The story should be about the divorce rate for the guys working so much. They're trying to make a living now and for when they retire. No one writes stories about a Mcdonald's manager working overtime or how much they make. Why is it even an issue? It's common knowledge that some Federal law enforcement officers make well over a 100K a year. Would you rather more of our department leave and work for the fed's?

Find another story to write about. And when you do decide to write one follow up with the facts, even if its days later. You guys are messing with peoples lives here.

Posted by: Dude at January 17, 2007 09:19 AM

And then again he wrote.....

Let me address a few things here. First of all, as I stated earlier, I am an HPD officer and unlike the chronicle, I dont make statements that I know nothing about. Let's get to the overtime issue. We are able to work over the 16 hour rule with a Lt's permission. Do some officers go over this 16 hour rule. Sure. Most of the time its not just to make extra money. It's due to something that has happened on the shift to where you cant hand it off to another unit or investigator. If I'm in the middle of working a major accident why pass that off to another unit who wasnt on the scene. That's when things start to get screwed up. What, should I think, "Oh, Im about to pass the 16 hour threshold, I better hand this mess over to someone else." No, you work it and deal with the overtime issue later. I still dont see a problem. A handful of officers made a kiiling in overtime. So! I, for one, didnt. There is still about 4,400 of us who just worked the minimum. No one was complaining when all of us were working 3-4 days straight when our "lovely guests" from New Orleans showed up or when we worked 2-3 days straight during Rita. We all did. I dont know of one single officer who acted any different towards the citizens because he was tired or "cranky". Most of us are ex military and working long hours without rest is no big deal. We are all professionals and understand the ramifications of our actions. Please, dont let this OT thing be an issue.

Now, on to my favorite subject, the taser! Give it a rest! Bottom line is this, if you physically resist me I will light you up. There. Need I draw a picture. I really dont care what color, sex, age, religious belief, or you voted for, if I lay my hands on you and you resist you will get lit up! I have tasered five suspects since I was issued my taser. They were all black males and they all resisted. Two of those times the taser did not work and we still had to chase the suspect around a neighborhood until he was caught. The highly informed member of the Chronicle, Roma Khanna, made a comment that the taser was used more than 1,000 times in the last two years but in 95 percent of the time they were used in cases where the suspect was not armed with any weapons. Well, no kidding! If I pull up and you are standing there with a gun in your hand I am not going to use my taser on you. You will be hit in the ten ring multiple times! What a stupid statement. Does she expect me to use my taser of suspects holding weapons? It wasnt made for that. It was given to us so we had another tool to use along with our batons and pepper spray. In my opinion, it works. Ive deployed my taser two times. Ive pulled it out on a daily basis and just the sight of the little red dot will make some suspects stop whatever they are doing. Ms. Khanna also states that a number of people we tase are not being charged afterward. Now, there is a story. The District Attorneys office makes it routine to drop all charges once we file the charges and the suspect is processed in the system. Thats not because the case is weak, its because the D.A's office likes to get "minor" cases off the docket. They also will dismiss cases or plea cases out without even contacting the arresting officer. Most of the taser incidents I see are ones generated by the so called "routine" traffic stop or disturbance call. You stop a suspect, he has dope, you try to arrest him, the fight is on, you tase him. Smae with the disturbance. You get there, the suspect has assaulted someone, you try to arrest the person, he fights you, you tase him. Is any of that wrong? By the way, there is nothing "routine" in stopping a car at night or going to a family disturbance with weapons involved. Maybe Ms. Khanna would like to go to one of these calls. Let's all remember Officer Rodney Johnson. He died on a traffic stop. I think about him and that stop everyday.
The bottom line is, if you dont want us to tase you, do what we say if we are there to arrest you. If you, as a city, do not want me to tase people then dont call me when the bad guy is breaking into your house, threatening your family, stealing your car, or lurking around in the dark. Let me stay in the Shipleys or the coffee shop where I wont get complained on.
I love my job. I love helping the people who call me. And I know this part will surprise alot of you, but I like helping ALL of you, the black, hispanic, asian and white citizens. However, let me make something clear. If anyone tries to hurt me, my partners, or another innocent citizen, I will light them up with my taser if it calls for it, or if need be, I will send two to the chest and one to the head.

Posted by: Dude at January 18, 2007 04:46 PM


Take care....and be safe, guys and gals!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Update - Michelle Malkin In The Slums of Baghdag

UPDATE: She's back...

...and she has video too!

Keep an eye on Michelle's blog....this is going to be good!

In the slums of Baghdad
By Michelle Malkin · January 11, 2007 01:15 AM

My Hot Air colleague Bryan Preston and I have been in Iraq, embedded with an incredibly dedicated Army unit in Baghdad tasked with training Iraqi security forces (both Shia and Sunni) conducting counterinsurgency operations, and carrying out civil affairs work. Yes, there is danger and chaos and unspeakable bloodshed in parts of Baghdad. Sectarian violence--compounded by everyday street crime and tribal conflict--is rampant. Corruption, incompetence, and apathy infect the Iraqi government. You've gotten endless news coverage of all that. But there are also pockets of success and signs of hope amid utter despair. I'll give you more details of our embed unit after we get home. We have much to report and will be publishing a multi-part video and audio series, blog posts, and op-eds on security conditions, media malpractice, and the big picture on the war next week. Having met, watched, and interviewed a broad cross-section of our troops during our brief but fruitful travels, my faith in the U.S. military has never been stronger-- but I will not sugarcoat my skepticism and doubts about decisions being made in Washington.

HOUSTON METRO | KHOU.com | News for Houston, Texas

HOUSTON METRO | KHOU.com | News for Houston, Texas: "Did the media overreact to the ice storm?"

I don't blame the weather wizards per se, as usual I blame the folks behind the desks. I'd listen to Dr. Neil and he was taking a relatively conservative approach which is really something for him, and then the desk geeks would say "we're all going to die!" and hype it up big time.

By accident more than design I lucked into Fox's weather with their gazillion dollar radar gismo and it absolutely blew me away because right in the middle of all the white freeze stuff was this small green belt and damned if my house wasn't in that green area! Yea me! None of the big 3 weather reports showed my little green area. They made it sound like everything from Tomball on was in deep icedoo. Next morning there were the smallest icicles I've ever seen hanging off my roof, etc. They were really just big drops that had frozen. You'd be glorifying them to even call them 'icicles'.

I'm glad the whole Houston area got off as light as it did. I'm still cold, but since my surgery I doubt I'll EVER be warm again.

Big Bopper's son hires scientist to quell rumors | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

Big Bopper's son hires scientist to quell rumors | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

I just loved The Big Bopper in the 50's! I still like hearing Chantilly Lace. I didn't realize he was only 28 when he died. His voice was so deep he sounded much older, but then again I was in my teens then and everyone seemed older!

I'm also absolutely fascinated by the Body Farm in Tennessee. Dr. Bill Bass who founded the Body Farm is also an expert in determining identities and what caused some one's death. I'm glad he's going to do the forensic autopsy and I hope I see the results when they are published.

The pictures are from here.

Oh and for the record (every pun intended!), Jerry Lee Lewis's version is lame. There was only one Big Bopper and the Killer doesn't even come close to that sound.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

When U Care Enough To Recycle The Very Best...

Check this out.....

Card Savers

Card Savers recycles any greeting card
12 adhesive sheets in assorted standard greeting card sizes with matching white envelopes

So what you do is receive a card from someone, like it so much you want to send it to someone else... buy Card Savers coverup sheets, slap it on the inside of the used card, pop a stamp on it and off it goes.

When you get the card you probably notice the coverup and then you think "Geez, why does this strike me as the same way being put on Call Waiting does?"..."Am I not special enough to get a NEW card"?...

Now I'll grant you that the price of greeting cards has gone though the roof and back, but when you do care enough to send the very best why not bite the bullet and spring for the bucks to make it special?

You'd have to make double damned sure you didn't recycle the card to the same person that sent it to you too! Or you could do like me and just send out electronic greets from AmericanGreetings.com.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Yeppers, that's me allright! (Chortle!)

Your Blogging Type Is Thoughtful and Considerate

You're a well liked, though underrated, blogger.

You have a heart of gold, and are likely to blog for a cause.

You're a peaceful blogger - no drama for you!

A good listener and friend, you tend to leave thoughtful comments for others.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Michelle Malkin's In the slums of Baghdad

Keep an eye on Michelle's blog....this is going to be good!

In the slums of Baghdad
By Michelle Malkin · January 11, 2007 01:15 AM

My Hot Air colleague Bryan Preston and I have been in Iraq, embedded with an incredibly dedicated Army unit in Baghdad tasked with training Iraqi security forces (both Shia and Sunni) conducting counterinsurgency operations, and carrying out civil affairs work. Yes, there is danger and chaos and unspeakable bloodshed in parts of Baghdad. Sectarian violence--compounded by everyday street crime and tribal conflict--is rampant. Corruption, incompetence, and apathy infect the Iraqi government. You've gotten endless news coverage of all that. But there are also pockets of success and signs of hope amid utter despair. I'll give you more details of our embed unit after we get home. We have much to report and will be publishing a multi-part video and audio series, blog posts, and op-eds on security conditions, media malpractice, and the big picture on the war next week. Having met, watched, and interviewed a broad cross-section of our troops during our brief but fruitful travels, my faith in the U.S. military has never been stronger-- but I will not sugarcoat my skepticism and doubts about decisions being made in Washington.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The New Me Emerges - Amazing R-N-Y Progress

I'm plugging along, trying to "eat right" and throwing clothes I've undergrown out of my closets every week. Yea, me! I missed a couple of outfits because I didn't realize I could of worn them before they got too big on me. It's like living a dream. That dream you have when the weight just goes away without any effort on your part. You wish it away. You see yourself all lean and mean and it just happens! The weight is just melting off of me. I'm like the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz only in a good way. I've lost 62 pounds - 33 since the surgery. I'm over the halfway point.

My doctor fussed at me big time because I didn't lie to him when he asked me if I was eating carbs and fats. I've cheated a bit and because of that I haven't lost as much as fast as he expected. I'd be contrite if it wasn't for the fact that I am losing and I'm doing the best I can. I've still got a lot more to lose and that's the part he's concerned with. He doesn't want me to get down another 30 or so pounds and think that's good enough. He wants me at goal. He's seen patients that have regained and therefore failed in his opinion. What he doesn't realize is I want me at goal too, but I don't like my mouth smelling and tasting like a rectum from eating just meat. (Don't ask HOW I know what a rectum tastes like! It's creative license big time!).

His bedside manner leaves a LOT to be desired. If his plan was to jump start a positive reaction out of me he went about it the wrong way. I've been nagged and criticized and berated by the best of them my entire life for all the good it did them. The way to reach me is to explain WHY and then back off and let me digest the information and decide for myself what plan of action I need.

The surgery has given me the tool I wanted to change my life. The loss of even 25 pounds gave me relief from 7 shots for diabetes a day plus a buttload of medications that are now languishing in their pill bottles. My confidence grows every day as my butt shrinks.

I realize that I won't lose even as much as I'm doing now every week. It'll start to wane and his point is valid - that I should take this opportunity to change my unwise eating ways. I HAVE changed most of them - I haven't eaten a piece of evil fruit in 6 months. I nibbled at some bread and didn't like the way it laid in my walnut [the place formerly known as my stomach!]. I'm not eating anything fried and the fat I am eating is in a few walnuts [the real ones!], pretzel sticks, cheese and peanut butter. I've eaten some of the fudge that I made for Christmas and some chocolate chip cookies. I ate some unfrosted chocolate cake the other night while playing poker. NONE of it has made me "dump" or any of the other vile side effects of the surgery I've read about. (Oh, dear, that's not good...that's the part where it IS up to me to control myself better).

However I flatly refuse to feel guilty about anything I'm eating or not eating now. I'm making a concentrated effort to keep from overeating as much because I don't want my walnut to become the size of a plum and because it's decidedly uncomfortable to stretch it too much. It's far better to stay within the 1/2 to 1 ounce range and it just blows me away to know that satisfies my hunger and burning my own fat is enough fuel to keep me going all day, every day. For the most part, just allowing myself my tiny transgressions gives me a feeling of being in control and yet learning what isn't nearly as great as I imagine it used to be - if that makes any sense at all.

I'm not kidding, this is the best surgery for fatties in the world! I want to go up to strangers in the street and say "HEY" look what's available for us! But I'll never do that because the surgery is not for everyone and it's NOT easy. People that have had it don't consciously play down the uncomfortable parts, they just don't notice them once they get on the scales or look in the mirror or watch the growing pile of cast off clothing. There are uncomfortable parts, but nothing has been as bad as not losing the weight, dying before my time and adding complications to my list of ailments.

I feel so damned good I went out and got blond highlights! I'm wearing makeup more often and walking faster. I can get up out of a chair without walking the first few seconds like Tim Conway's Old Man on the Carol Burnett Show. I have hope again. I have energy. It just doesn't get any better than hopeful, blond energy - trust me on that one!

R-N-Y Post Surgical Report

The Cure For Diabetes Type II Is Here!

A Wonderful Letter From Iraq

The new and "improved" (only Time will tell!) TIME.com has published The Secret Letter From Iraq a Marine's letter home, with its frank description of life in "Dante's inferno,"... it's well worth reading and guaranteed to bring a surge of pride in your red, white and blue veins.

Here's a few paragraphs that struck a cord in me....

All: I haven't written very much from Iraq. There's really not much to write about. More exactly, there's not much I can write about because practically everything I do, read or hear is classified military information or is depressing to the point that I'd rather just forget about it, never mind write about it. The gaps in between all of that are filled with the pure tedium of daily life in an armed camp. So it's a bit of a struggle to think of anything to put into a letter that's worth reading. Worse, this place just consumes you. I work 18-20-hour days, every day.

Rather than attempting to sum up the last seven months, I figured I'd just hit the record-setting highlights of 2006 in Iraq. These are among the events and experiences I'll remember best.

Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — Any Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (EOD Tech). How'd you like a job that required you to defuse bombs in a hole in the middle of the road that very likely are booby-trapped or connected by wire to a bad guy who's just waiting for you to get close to the bomb before he clicks the detonator? Every day. Sanitation workers in New York City get paid more than these guys. Talk about courage and commitment.

Second Bravest Guy in al-Anbar Province — It's a 20,000-way tie among all these Marines and Soldiers who venture out on the highways and through the towns of al-Anbar every day, not knowing if it will be their last — and for a couple of them, it will be.

Biggest Surprise — Iraqi Police. All local guys. I never figured that we'd get a police force established in the cities in al-Anbar. I estimated that insurgents would kill the first few, scaring off the rest. Well, insurgents did kill the first few, but the cops kept on coming. The insurgents continue to target the police, killing them in their homes and on the streets, but the cops won't give up. Absolutely incredible tenacity. The insurgents know that the police are far better at finding them than we are — and they are finding them. Now, if we could just get them out of the habit of beating prisoners to a pulp...

Highest Unit Re-enlistment Rate — Any outfit that has been in Iraq recently. All the danger, all the hardship, all the time away from home, all the horror, all the frustrations with the fight here — all are outweighed by the desire for young men to be part of a band of brothers who will die for one another. They found what they were looking for when they enlisted out of high school. Man for man, they now have more combat experience than any Marines in the history of our Corps.

Biggest Hassle — High-ranking visitors. More disruptive to work than a rocket attack. VIPs demand briefs and "battlefield" tours (we take them to quiet sections of Fallujah, which is plenty scary for them). Our briefs and commentary seem to have no effect on their preconceived notions of what's going on in Iraq. Their trips allow them to say that they've been to Fallujah, which gives them an unfortunate degree of credibility in perpetuating their fantasies about the insurgency here.

Biggest Outrage — Practically anything said by talking heads on TV about the war in Iraq, not that I get to watch much TV. Their thoughts are consistently both grossly simplistic and politically slanted. Biggest Offender: Bill O'Reilly.

Best Chuck Norris Moment — 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in a small town to kidnap the mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the Bad Guys put down his machine gun so that he could tie the mayor's hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machine gun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can't fight City Hall.

Only Thing Better in Iraq Than in the U.S. — Sunsets. Spectacular. It's from all the dust in the air.

Most Common Thought — Home. Always thinking of home, of my great wife and the kids. Wondering how everyone else is getting along. Regretting that I don't write more. Yep, always thinking of home.

I hope you all are doing well. If you want to do something for me, kiss a cop, flush a toilet, and drink a beer. I'll try to write again before too long — I promise.
God bless them one and all. Please, please don't let this war end (no matter how that comes about) and these guys and gals come home to the sort of "welcome home" that the Viet Nam soldiers got.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bullet Proof Bra? Murder Biz As Usual?

Maybe the police don't need those bulky, hot, uncomfortable vests....maybe all they need is a GOLD BRA....

One woman discovered on New Year's Eve that her bra could do more than lift and support when a falling bullet was halted by the bra strap on her left shoulder.

Debbie Bingham, 46, an Atlanta resident visiting family in St. Petersburg, said her gold bra slowed the falling bullet during the holiday celebrations.

Her injuries may have been much more severe had it not been for her bra strap, said George Kajtsa, spokesman for the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Then there's this loser...

A man who allegedly robbed a Loveland bank so he could avoid jail time is now headed back to jail.

Mark Steven Valladares, 48, is accused of robbing a Wells Fargo Bank last week for money that he wanted to use to pay off outstanding [DUI] driving fines. One hour after the bank robbery, Valladares was pulled over about one block from the Loveland police and courts building, police said.

He allegedly told investigators that he was headed to the police station to pay the fines and that the robbery was an act of desperation, the Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald said.

Looks like things ARE getting back to normal in New Orleans...

Seven people have been shot to death since New Year's Day in New Orleans. Five of the shootings, all unrelated, occurred within a 14-hour span Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Also, a body with signs of physical trauma was found Wednesday wrapped in a rug. That death has not been classified but could bring the total for the 5-day-old year to eight.

This is what's going on in Houston since the 1st of the year...

For a second consecutive year, Houston recorded a rise in homicides within its borders, with the number of killings edging toward its highest point in more than a decade.

Despite another annual increase, residents here are not necessarily at greater risk of becoming a homicide victim. That's because Houston's homicide rate per 100,000 residents rose only incrementally in 2006 — since the city's population is estimated to have surged by more than 148,000 people, due largely to an influx of Hurricane Katrina evacuees.

In 2006, the Houston Police Department recorded 379 homicides as of Dec. 31, a 13.5 percent increase from the 334 homicides recorded in 2005. The 2006 total is the highest since 1994, when 419 homicides were reported in the city.

Then there's ...

Jan 1 - Travis Michael Zielenski was found dead inside an residence at the Timber Mill Apartments in the 1400 block of Sawdust.
Jan 2 - A 96-year-old Conroe woman, who apparently wandered from her home and was lying in the street, was struck and killed by a motorist early New Year's Day.
Jan 2 - After racking up 379 homicides in 2006, Houston made it through the first day of 2007 without a slaying — but just barely. It was about 1 a.m. Tuesday when two east Houston youths heard gunshots outside their bedroom window in the 300 block of Super. Minutes later, police discovered a man dying from gunshot wounds in their backyard.
Jan 4 - A 10-year-old boy who apparently was mimicking the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accidentally hanged himself on New Year's Eve, authorities said.
Jan 4 - A 6-year-old girl was apparently struck by a hit-and-run driver in west Houston around 8 p.m. this evening. The unidentified girl was hit on Westhollow and flown by helicopter to an area hospital, where she is in critical condition, authorities said.

So that looks like the Houston area has "only" had one homicide in 6 days of 2007. The one with the guy found dead on Jan 1 doesn't count because he was probably murdered "last year". I wonder what it's like to live somewhere without this kind of news daily? You know if you don't open the Comical and see your name on either the front page or in the death notices it's probably going to be a good day! All the same, I think I might look into getting one of those gold bras....

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nursing Home For Old Dogs?

Cody is getting really old. I took him in today for his annual checkup and the obligatory laying upon of hands and had to make some heavy duty decisions.

He's 13 years and 3 months old and that's pretty impressive for a large dog. He weighed in at 63.5 pounds and I thought he'd lost quite a bit since last year, but Dr. Taylor (yum!) said he'd only lost 2 pounds, but all of it was muscle. One of my concerns was that he's holding his back legs oddly and doesn't want to lie down - he'll walk around and around the house before he finally settles down and then it seems that something will happen to make him pop back up and then he'll go through the restless phase all over again.

He also smacks his lips - drives me crazy! My mom used to do the same thing! He pants heavily too, but my mom never did that.

Anyway obviously the first thing "wrong" with him is he's getting old. Dr. Taylor (yum!) wanted me to let him do a geriatric blood workup. That would run around $105 or so. Today's visit costs $114.90, more about that later. He suspects Cody might have diabetes. If so he'd need TWO shots a day, at the same time of day, forever. Almost for sure he has some kind of metabolic disorder due to his heavy panting and muscle loss. He said he could just do a blood sugar test and that would run me about 20 bucks. He also heard a heart mummer of his mitral valve - he says I can expect to hear "old man coughing" as a result of that. His liver was okay for the most part, but also showing signs of aging.

I asked the "what would you do if it was YOUR dog" question. And he said he'd have the blood work done and then go from there. I said realistically how much longer would Cody live period. He said anywhere from 2 days to 1 year. That's pretty much what I'd figured all along. I said his job was to tell me when it was time to put him down if it came to that. He said that when Cody woke up in the morning and didn't want to do anything - eat, play, etc. - just sleep, it was one day past time. (I thought to myself: Self, watch your kids if you take to your bed too much!)

One other huge complaint is that he can't hear ... he can hear certain sounds, but not many. The vet (yum!) said he never expects a shepherd to hear after age 12 or so! Hmmmm. I said the good part was he also didn't bark much. He used to bark when a squirrel farted in the backyard or a leaf fell off the tree in the front yard. He certainly used to alert me to anyone on the property and I miss that. Now *I* have to let HIM know when someone is afoot.

I decided not to do the blood tests - any of them. I don't want to know if he has diabetes or anything else. I don't want to give him 2 shots a day. If he was 7 or 8, sure, but at 13 it's not like he's going to live to be 20. For right now he's back on Zubrin for his osteoarthritis (that was $51.90 of today's total). I'm to call in 7 to 10 days and let him know if there is vast improvement. He doesn't want just so-so relief. He said then I could decide then if I wanted to do any testing, etc. I think he thinks my kids are going to be all over me to do whatever it takes to make him a puppy again and put some heat on me.

You see, it's not that I can't afford it. I can and I've proven that with his TWO TPLO surgeries. Money is no object when it comes to momma's boy. Now I just want him to be comfortable. I suppose shots or whatever he needs would make him more comfortable too, but when is it time to just say enough? What would YOU do if it was YOUR best friend?


Cody Is 12 Years Old Today!

Cody's Album

Dr. Yum, er I mean Dr. Taylor can be found at the Prestonwood Animal Clinc.

Officers Save Man from Garbage Truck

OAK PARK, Mich.-- A man who awoke inside a garbage truck that was about to compact its load was rescued after making a frantic cell phone call to police, authorities say.

The man, who is unemployed but not homeless, was scavenging for bottles Thursday when he fell asleep in a Dumpster, said police Lt. Mike Pousak. He awoke when the container was unloaded into a truck.

He told police he didn't know which truck he was in but gave a dispatcher the location of the Dumpster he fell asleep in, Pousak said.

He had tried yelling for help but no one heard him.

Police soon lost contact with the man when his cell phone battery became dislodged, Pousak said. Police checked several trucks, including one in a parking lot.

"An officer went and pounded on the side of the truck and somebody pounded back," Pousak said.

The man appeared to be unhurt except for a scratch, Pousak said.

"If I was him I would go to church and play the lottery because today was his lucky day," the police officer said.

From Officer.com

The question remains "WHY"? Why sleep in a dumpster if you're NOT homeless? Drunk. Has to be drunk. Or druggy. 'Course dumb comes to mind too. Dumb drunk druggy!

On the bright side, now I can tell my kids I only have a cell phone in order to call the cops if I'm ever trapped inside a garbage truck!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Harris County Sheriff's Citizen Police Academy Info

Harris County Sheriff Tommy Thomas would like to invite the citizens of Harris County to participate in an upcoming Citizen's Police Academy. Classes will begin February 1, 2007.

The Citizen's Police Academy (CPA) is an eleven week program designed to give the participates a working knowledge of the Harris County Sheriff's Office. This program consists of a series of interactive classes demonstrating police procedures and protocol. The classes will be held at the Cypress Creek EMS Education Center located at 7111 Five Forks every Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. There are no tuition fees and enrollment is open to qualified individuals. Applicants must be at least 21 years of age and reside in Harris County. A thorough background check will be conducted on each applicant.

The Sheriff feels the CPA plays a vital role in reducing crime by improving communication with citizens through local input and support throughout the county. It is our hope that the graduates will become partners with us in identifying problems and solutions to the crime issues that are affecting our county. Graduates will gain knowledge they can implement to enhance the quality of life in their respective neighborhoods.

Through this eleven week course, CPA participants learn many aspects of law enforcement such as Texas Penal Code, Gang Awareness, Terrorism, and many other topics. It is through this program that Harris County residents will gain a better understanding of how police services are conducted in their community, and see "how and why" officers make some of the decisions they do as they perform their duties.

Applications may be picked up at any Harris County Sheriff's Office Storefront or by contacting the Community Services Division at 713-759-9454. All applications must be turned in no later than January 19, 2007.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year 2007 To All

I'd make some resolutions, but experience has shown that they don't accomplish much except to give me yet another list to keep up with.

I think I'll make some wishes instead:

1. I wish the war was over and all our heroes were home safely
2. I wish Dr. Wongsa would accept me for the way I am NOW
3. I wish I'd never found out that chocolate was on the planet
4. I wish my kids would stop smoking and tell the tax man to stuff it sideways
5. I wish I was in Maui watching the surf, feeling the warm breezes on my face
6. I wish all who read this the best New Year possible.

Thank you very much for visiting my blog.