Archive for March, 2008

One day here; the next day, gone.

I started a new assignment today–another campus had an immediate need for a certified teacher, and I was the person in the district best able to fill it. I really only got about 4 hours notice of the switch; having received the news at lunchtime on the Friday before last week’s Spring Break. I barely got time to get a briefing from my new principal and figure out how to arrange the furniture in my room before the end of the day.

Spring break was completely consumed with flooring. I spent the time laying a laminate floor in my kitchen. Note: if you ever want to lay laminate, YOU MUST LET IT SIT IN THE BOXES IN YOUR HOUSE FOR 48-96 HOURS BEFORE STARTING YOUR PROJECT!!!!!! The”good people” at Lowe’s just happened to mention that as an aside as I was loading my car last Monday morning–great. That nixed Monday and Tuesday for working. What was supposed to be five sanely-paced days turned into two frenetic ones scrambling to get the floor laid before Thursday night! Then came everyone being off for Good Friday–and everyone wanted to play, including the cattle–who decided that this was the time to play “hide and seek” on the neighbors’ property. So there is still finishing work to do and God knows when it will be done. I feel like the Little Red Hen here–“if it is to be, it is up to me.” If I ever blog about wanting to replace flooring, remind me what a pain it is to do it! My knees are just beginning to recover, and I wore pads on them the whole time!

My little pity party I had going this morning was shattered, though, by learning through office chatter of the unexpected death of a colleague from my old campus during Spring Break. She was just a couple of years older than I–her youngest child was the same age as my middle one. She began working on my old campus this year as an aide, but I had gotten to know what a great lady she was because of what a great kid her son is. In a small rural town with multi-generational poverty, her son is a beacon of hope–smart, athletic, respectful, resourceful, fun loving but industrious–in short, a walking testament to good upbringing. I pray that he can keep his focus during this unimaginably horrific time. I so hope he can continue to honor his mother by fulfilling the promise he has shown so far. It is way too easy in this day and age to “fall into the crab bucket” of spiraling standards, especially when you’re still a teenager and you lose your anchor.

This is the second time this school year (and the third time in 15 months) that I have mourned the loss of the parent of an outstanding student–two due to illness (this one sudden, the other chronic) and the other in a tragic accident. In each case I have known the parent to be loving, caring, and giving 110% to raise an enriched child in an impoverished corner of the world. None of them were wealthy, only one of them was considered “a pillar of the community,” but all three were heroes in my book.

What’s even scarier is how my friend died. Right now, they believe it was meningitis. We’re still waiting for confirmation. I last saw her two weeks ago tomorrow. As always, she greeted me and goodbyed me with a big hug. Those hugs have meant so much to me. Some time ago, when some subversive elements were trying to brand me as a “racist” among members of her ethnic community, my friend made it a point to give me a huge hug in front of everyone every chance she got. She publicly stood by me when it would have been so easy to be silent. I owe her so much, and now she’s gone. The last time I saw her, she was right as rain, and now she’s gone. I’m still in shock.

Yes, I know how virulent and contagious meningitis is. I have communicated with the school nurse. The incubation period is 10-14 days. I have not felt ill at all since I had a flu relapse a month ago, so I hope that means I am not ill. I also know that it is possible for someone who is not ill to be a carrier. That means I will watch my family very closely the next two weeks. At least my daughter got the meningococcal vaccine. If it was bacterial meningitis, she’s protected. My sons and husband, I will watch very carefully.

My friend, you are sorely missed. Rest with the angels, and we’ll keep your memory alive down here.

There ain’t enough perfume to pretty this hog.

One of my good friends in the UK sent me this clip:

This is just the latest in an intermittent litany of articles that expose the government in the People’s Republic of China (the PRC, or Communist Red China) for its cruelties. Many are now calling for a boycott of the Summer Olympics this August. I must admit that, horrified by this latest chapter of PRC truth as I am, I have become somewhat dulled by its constancy–at least I should say, I am not surprised; I’ve seen this too many times before in my adult life. I served in the military in the 1980’s in the Pacific–one of my jobs was to keep up with what was going on in Asia. I’ve never gotten out of the habit of keeping up with ongoings throughout the Pacific Rim.

Still, I don’t know if I can commit to boycotting this year’s Olympics, because for the first time in my life, it’s personal. Two of my daughter’s former teammates are likely to earn spots on this year’s US Olympic team. I’ve known these kids since they were 14 and 16, and yes, they ARE all that. Their step-dad is my daughter’s former coach, and he and the girls’ mother are great folk (the only reason that I don’t mention their dad is because I have never met him). These girls have spent most of their lives preparing for this (typical practice time is 2 1/2 hrs. per day, 5-6 days a week during the school year and 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week in summer, and they love every minute of it, else they wouldn’t be there). It’s not these girls’ fault that the IOC got their collective heads turned by a pretty, perfumed package that contains the rotting offal of its policies well hidden inside. Quite frankly, I couldn’t tell these girls not to go, and should they go, I owe it to them to indulge in the pleasure of watching their aquatic poetry in motion one more time, especially if it gets us a medal that otherwise would have gone to the PRC.

Please notice that I am being very careful to direct my outrage at the government of the People’s Republic of China, not at the Chinese people. If you read the article carefully, you will very clearly see that these people are scared–as well they should be. The Chinese people have my sympathies and my frustration at the knowledge that they are trapped in an autocratic system with alarmingly little regard for human life, and practically none for other life. The people who work there making baubles for our comfort “earn” slave wages. Collective bargaining? HAH! The PRC’s idea of collective bargaining is to gang up on the one person who dares to point out that this emperor has no clothes, beat him up, jail him, and persecute his family. If they execute the poor soul, the family gets billed for the bullet–quite a contrast from the some $35,000+ per year we taxpayers spend to keep ONE prisoner on death row!

I know from first-hand accounts of attempts by the PRC to violently overthrow governments that are in their way that stretch back nearly 60 years–almost to the foundations of the PRC as a nation. My former boss was an officer on board a US Navy ship during the shellings of Quemoy and Matsu. During Tienanmen, a Grad Assistant in my mom’s office was sleepless the whole time, seeking news of the family he had been forced to leave behind in Beijing. Thank God that all turned out well for him, unlike the families of the up to 3000 people (casualty figures vary widely) who were crushed under the weight of the Red Army tanks. The Chinese Student Association at my alma mater printed and sold “Goddess of Freedom” t-shirts. I still have one.

Those kids who died at Tienanmen were a drop in the bucket compared to the 20 million Chinese citizens who died at the hands of Mao Zedong in the 1950’s and 1960’s using a combination of famine, political purges, and megalomania that he had the chutzpah to call a “Great Leap Forward.” That pales in comparison to the untold millions of Chinese babies who to this day are being forcibly aborted just because their mothers already have one child (if they live in the city) or two children (if they live in the country). The PRC even employs legions of spies whose job it is to seek out women who attempt to hide an “illegal” pregnancy. Some disguise themselves as midwives, then take the newborns and kill them right after delivery and tell the mother that the child is dead. The horror stories are legion. You do not have to go to political activists’ websites to find them–they run in such “factional” publications as Readers’ Digest.

Those of you who, like I, came of age during the Cold War remember that the primary objective of Communism is world domination. It failed in the Soviet Union because the Soviets were, like us, of a European cultural background. Although we differ in individual issues and methodologies, we are motivated by similar drives and desires–including the need to “keep up with the Joneses” and for a quick return on our investments.

The Chinese, if you will pardon the banal metaphor, are Klingons to our Federation. It was a Chinese general, Sun Tsu, who wrote the definitive book on warfare over 2500 years ago. His The Art of War is still required reading at all the US Service Academies and War Colleges today. General Sun’s instructions and wisdom did not just cover conventional war, but unconventional methods like disinformation and spying as well.

One thing that may prove our downfall is the fact that the Chinese culture is one of infinite patience. They are willing to wait millenia if they have to for conditions to be right for victory. Trust me, the PRC is biding its time, giving us enough rope to hang ourselves. As it is, we are almost totally dependent on the PRC for toys to entertain our children. Some 95% of all toys sold in the US are made in the PRC. Contrary to what many believe, the skyrocketing of oil prices did NOT begin with Gulf War II, but with the PRC’s cornering of the petroleum market. The economy in the PRC has been booming all decade (thanks largely to us), and they are taking advantage of this singular opportunity to buy up all the oil they can and stockpile it.

If you think that the debacles this past fall with tainted pet food and toy paint were mere incompetence, let me sell you some beachfront in Tennessee. To borrow a geek term, they were beta-testing a covert assault on our way of life. I’ve studied these guys too well; they were trying to see how easy it is to “sneak in through the back door” and catch us with our pants down.

Again, let me stress most wholeheartedly that I have no issue with individual people from either China: the PRC or Taiwan. I have known plenty of people from both nations and have found each and every one I have ever met to be the epitome of generosity, friendliness, and kindness. I would love to see the cities today that my grandmother described in her letters dated from her visit in 1920. Until the communists there have gone the way of the Soviets, though, that will be impossible for me. I have to admit that I am greatly relieved to know that I will not be in a position to decide whether or not to allow my child to go to the Olympics this year. I sympathize with those who do.

What do we do in the meantime?

  • Ask our Presidential candidates how they will deal with the PRC and with American companies who outsource their manufacturing there.  Support the one who won’t kowtow and offer MFN (“Most Favored Nation”) status as if it were candy to shut up a bawling brat.
  • Stop buying products made in the PRC.  The more we do it, the easier it will get as suppliers realize that we don’t want goods from the PRC.
  • Incorporate into tax-reduction deals with American manufacturers the stipulation that if they close down their plant to move manufacturing out of the country that the company will owe not only every penny of tax savings they pocketed in the past, but hefty penalties as well.

Back in Georgia, we used to say that trying to put a pretty spin on something ugly was “like putting perfume on a hog.”  Believe me, there ain’t enough Chanel on the planet to disguise the ugliness that is Communist China.  Or, to translate the above once more into Georgia-speak:  “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly cuts clean to the bone.”

How Did She Do It?!?

For the life of me, I have no idea…,2933,335675,00.html

No, silly:   I KNOW how it happened.  What I want to know is how a high-profile government official kept it secret from other politicians, the media, even a Vogue magazine photographer for so long.

The pundits have already begun bandying her name as a potential candidate in 2012.  With talent like that, maybe the pundits are on to something!

A Primary Surprise

I really thought that this Presidential primary season would be the most boring since Millard Fillmore was a nominee. Boy was I wrong! There were some surprises on the Republican side, but right now they are moot. Still, college classes in marketing, advertising, and political science will be deconstructing Mike Huckabee’s campaign for years to come trying to figure out how he did so much with so little.

But the GOP race was nothing compared to the excitement on the Democrat side! I (and most of the rest of the country) expected the primary season to be little more than a year-long coronation ceremony for Hillary Clinton. Then, out of left field (pun most definitely intended) came Barack Obama. All of a sudden, this race has become downright fascinating! What astounds me as much as anything else is my own reaction.

I have only voted Democrat twice in my life, both times to support a candidate I had met personally over a Republican who had done something to tick me off as a voter. I almost did it again on Tuesday. I’m not entirely sure if the reason I didn’t was because Texas is a closed primary state and my conscience would not allow me to register as a Democrat (the Democratic party and I differ over several fundamental issues–most notably the abortion issue) or if I didn’t do it just because I was too doggone sick the past two months to go to the courthouse. (Yes, I did get the flu shot, for all the good it did.)

What I can’t quite believe, though, is who would have gotten my vote if I had. I have spent the past 15 years or so despising Hillary Clinton. I thought she was “a pushy broad” on the 1992 campaign trail, and then I found her picture on the cover of Life magazine in the UGA Library Archives (my favorite place to kill an hour between classes while I was in college), and it confirmed my suspicions. She was conducting an anti-Vietnam War protest at Radcliffe right about the time she had been chosen valedictorian, and her face was contorted with hate. At least (unlike her husband), she had the decency to conduct her protest within our borders. You can protest our government all you want, just do it inside the U.S. Airing our dirty laundry in a foreign country is unforgiveable. (Got THAT, Dixie Twits?!?)

When Hillary’s mandatory socialized health care program died a phlegmatic death in Congress, no one was more celebratory than I. When Bill’s flagrant infidelities and supercilious defense (“It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is….”) made me, for the one and only time in my life, feel ashamed to be an American (another unforgivable offense, but, again, that is a Tale for another day), I was unsympathetic to the aggrieved wife.

Yet, the political junkie in me could not resist watching on CNN the Democrats’ debate when they were in Austin a few weeks ago. I was astounded to listen to Hillary. From the first words out of her mouth, it was clear that she had done her homework. She knew how to hit every hot button square on the mark, and what was a friendly audience to begin with was eating out of her hand before the first question was lobbed. Obama, on the other hand, just didn’t seem comfortable. He stammered inordinately, and his skin tone was a most unnatural color– he just didn’t look like the Barack Obama who had been all over the news for the past couple of months. I couldn’t decide if he was debilitatingly ill or if the makeup person before the debate had really flubbed it (I learned later that it was the former–perhaps the only time Barack Obama and I will ever have something in common).

I was intrigued, but pushed my astonishment aside when life insisted on continuing. Then, this Monday, Sen. Clinton conducted a live interview on KTRH, my news radio station of choice (their 30 minute newscast fits nicely with my 40 minute commute). The first question was about her ideas for fixing the immigration problem. As I listened, I was shocked to realize that she had the most sensible, pragmatic, practical, and workable solution offered by any candidate of any party.

I am oversimplifying here, but I have been verbose enough tonight. The highlights of Senator Clinton’s plan include:

  • First, and foremost, secure the borders. Nothing else we do will matter a hill of beans if our borders remain a sieve.
  • She acknowleged that the popular and knee-jerk solution for the 12 million illegals already here is to round them up and ship them home, but then she logically explained why it won’t work:
    • It would rack up a price tag that NONE of us are willing to pay
    • It would trample the civil rights of EVERY American (I loved the way she put it–“Do YOU want federal agents banging on YOUR door to YOUR home and YOUR place of business, demanding to search for illegals?” I had to admit, my answer was “no.”)
  • What to do then? Sooner or later, each of those 12 million illegals will come to the attention of “the system.”
    • When they do, conduct a criminal background check. If they committed a crime, whether in their country or ours, they go back.
    • If they are clean, they must pay every penny of the back taxes they incurred while living here illegally.
    • They must learn English.
    • When they have done all of these things, if they want to stay here, they must get to the back of the line for a work visa/citizenship.
  • Oh, and the businesses that hire illegals? Prosecute them into oblivion.

I’m not yet saying I’m supporting the junior senator from New York, but it is giving me food for thought which I never anticipated being served. Still, if she gets the Democratic nomination and John McCain ignores the conservatives in the GOP or worse, selects that two-faced hypocrite Mitt Romney as a running mate, I will seriously consider “crossing over to the Dark Side.” Only time will tell.

It’s Primary Day Somewhere! (Verse I)

It’s late, I’m tired, but I can’t NOT say this, so I’m gonna KISS it (“Keep It Short and Sweet” or “Keep It Simple, Stupid”–your choice).

Tuesday, March 4 is Primary Day in my home state of Texas, as well as in Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Right now, it doesn’t matter to me who you are or whom you support, but take just a couple of minutes (if you didn’t do early voting), and make your voice heard at the polls. Even if your candidate doesn’t win tomorrow, it sends a message to the candidates who do.

If you don’t vote in your state’s primary, don’t whine about your lack of choice in November. You had your chance.

**We now return to our regularly-scheduled madness.**

Barbeque Artist

Someone on my favorite chat room posted this YouTube video tonight:

I just had to give the following reply:


What I can tell you about the artist after one viewing (and my extensive knowledge of barbeque).

HE IS NOT FROM NORTH CAROLINA: There is no coleslaw on top of the barbeque sauce.

HE IS NOT FROM VIRGINIA: Notice he is using his hands? How provincial!

HE IS NOT FROM SOUTH CAROLINA OR GEORGIA: He is using tomato-based sauce, which is anathema, blasphemy, and heresy in those two states, as well as N. Carolina. Barbeque sauce is vinegar-based, period; although in pockets of the Carolinas, mustard-based sauce has popped up from time to time. Anyone in those states who acknowledges tomato-based sauce is a damned carpetbagger. (Said the Georgian whose grandmother’s bridge partner was Victor Jory!)

HE IS TEXAS-INFLUENCED, BUT IS NOT A TEXAN: Yes, Texans believe that the only way to season barbeque is by rubbing (which the artist clearly did), but the only permissible seasonings are dry-rubs and wood smoke. Using sauce at any time pegs you as a (non-Texan) furriner (if’n you cook with it) or as insulting your host’s cooking (if’n you put it on while you’re eatin’ it).

HE IS NOT A YANKEE OR A CALIFORNIAN: What did he make a painting of? A buck! ‘Nuff said.


THIS DUDE IS EITHER FROM TENNESSEE OR KENTUCKY!!! Okay, maybe Arkansas, but I doubt it.

Who IS this “Cat O’ Nine Tales”?

Welcome to my blog! I’m not just a crazy cat lady, but a person of many interests and, as always, the lover of a good story (as I hope my title implies)! As time goes by and I continue to post, you will learn more about me (my friends from the chat room probably know too much about me already, but that is a Tale for another day).

While yes, my friends, it is a free Internet out there (except for the $500+ for the computer, the $19.95/month for the internet connection, the ungodly monthly sacrifices to the electric company…well, you get the idea), please keep in mind that this is MY little corner of cyberspace–MINE! Therefore, I make the rules. I am the Princepa, the Imperatrix, and the Basilea. Alea jacta est.

Still my rules are those any one who lives in what pretends to be a civilized society should already know well:

  1. KEEP IT CLEAN! This is paramount. You may disagree with me until Armageddon, and I will welcome an erudite verbal sparring, but PLEASE use the modicum of intelligence and good sense it takes to refrain from using vulgarities! Yes, I will use a few PG-13 words from time to time, but using the F-word is the quickest way to get banned from here that exists. I won’t abide it or tolerate it. If you want to show off the latest vulgarity you learned, go somewhere else.
  2. DON’T FLAME THE POSTERS! By all means, if you disagree with a poster, express your disagreement, just do it in a civilized manner. Keep in mind Ambrose Bierce’s definition of diplomacy: “…telling someone to ‘go to Hell’ in such a manner that he actually looks forward to the trip.” I appreciate quality of words over quantity. (My chat room friends are ROFL at this point!)
  3. THE GOLDEN RULE ROCKS! In case you are not familiar with Matthew 7:12, let me sum it up for you: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I’m just doing the drill sergeant bit here while I’m setting up my house rules. This is my house and my rules. In your house, I will respect and obey your rules. I promise.

I think that pretty much sets the ground rules. Now let’s have some fun!

March 2008
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