Hasty Ruminations

Speaking out, to remove all doubt. http://hastyruminations.blogspot.com

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Friday, December 31, 2004

Stephen King's New Book

Stephen King Posted by Hello
He took FOREVER to do the Gunslinger series. Now his Red Sox book is already out.

Happy New Year!

Father Time Posted by Hello
Goodbye, 2004...
... and good riddance!

Tsunami News

The Kansas City Star now projects 150,000 dead in the tsunami.

The population of Fort Lauderdale, FL, in 2000 was 152,397.

Fort Lauderdale Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 30, 2004

On The Lighter Side

This joke courtesy of Crosswalk.com:

I had just finished visiting a friend in the hospital and stopped by a burger drive-through for lunch to eat on the way back to work. I ordered the #1 combo (burger, fry, coke) for $4.29. She said "that'll be $4.83, please drive forward."

"$4.83? For a $4.29 meal? That's 54 cents tax! That can't be right," my mind raced. Tax is 8 cents on the dollar in Huntsville and for 4 dollars that would be 32 cents plus 1/3 (29) of 8 cents would be 35 cents max. I'd heard of window workers overcharging drive through customers and skimming the money for themselves. Someone did just that to me at a Hardees couple of years ago.

I didn't have my calculator watch (I lost it a while back) so I got a pen and paper and did the long division since there were 2 cars ahead of me.

Let's see ... 483/429 ... over 12 percent tax! When I got to the window I handed her a 5 and said "what's the sales tax in Huntsville?" She didn't know. I said "$4.83 for a $4.29 meal is 12 percent tax. That can't be right. Can I talk to the manager?" She gave me my change and called the manager.

So the manager comes over. I ask what the sales tax is in Huntsville, and she says 8 percent. I say that I just paid $4.83 for a $4.29 meal and that's over 12 percent sales tax.

She got a funny look on her face and said that maybe the computer had rung it up wrong or had charged me for the biggie size. (Biggie upgrade was 35 cents - which would be 4.64 plus tax which would put it over $5). She admitted it was supposed to be 4.63, and opened the drawer to give me my extra change.

"HA!" I thought to myself. "Six years of engineering school has so heightened my mental mathematical adeptness that I can do percentages in my head and my superior intellect has foiled a feeble attempt by a drive-through worker to overcharge me."

I took the twenty cents she handed me, proud of my staggering genius, and smugly drove off without my food.

Tsunami Help

Bloomberg documented American stinginess with the following:

Amazon.com, the world's largest Internet retailer, had collected $3.29 million as of 10:06 p.m. New York Time through a link on its home page that lets customers make donations to the American Red Cross.

Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft-drink distributor, said it is providing bottled water and other emergency supplies in Indonesia, India and Thailand.

New York-based Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said it will donate $35 million in cash and medication, including its Zithromax, Zyvox and Diflucan anti-infectives, matching the aid the U.S. government has said it will provide.

Citigroup Inc., the world's biggest financial services company, said it will provide $3 million in aid.

Drugmaker Abbott Laboratories said it will provide $4 million in funding and prescription drugs and nutritional aid.

Cisco Systems Inc., whose equipment conducts 70 percent of the world's Internet traffic, said the San Jose, California-based company and its employees are donating at least $2.5 million to relief efforts.

PepsiCo Inc. said it has allocated $1 million to relief work in the region.

Merck & Co., the No. 2 U.S. drugmaker, today said it will make an initial donation of $250,000 to the American Red Cross and is in discussions with relief agencies to make a ``substantial product donation,'' spokeswoman Anita Larsen said. The company will also match employee contributions.

Johnson & Johnson said yesterday it is giving $2 million in cash and sending packages of supplies, including wound-care and pain-relief products.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said yesterday it is donating $100,000 to the Red Cross and will send antibiotics such as its Tequin drug and other medicines to the region.

Starbucks Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., Computer Associates International Inc., First Data Corp. and Symbol Technologies Inc. also announced donations today or yesterday.

In addition to Amazon.com, other Internet businesses, including Google Inc., the most used Web search service, placed links on their sites for people wanting to make contributions.``They're playing a huge role,'' American Red Cross spokeswoman Kara Bunte said. '`Corporate partners like Amazon and MTV are coming to us and asking ways they can support our relief efforts.''

Other Web companies, including Yahoo! Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN either collected donations or provided links to sites where people could make contributions.

Mountain View, California- based Google made a rare exception to its policy of maintaining a Spartan main page by adding a link titled ``Ways to help with tsunami relief'' and giving it prominent display.

Time Warner Inc.'s America Online placed a highlighted link on its welcome page yesterday that allows members to make donations, spokesman Nicholas Graham said in an interview. AOL is also donating $200,000 to relief efforts, and the company is matching employees' donations up to $50,000 per individual, Graham said.

EBay Inc., the largest Internet marketplace, was working on how it could help in the best way, spokesman Hani Durzy said. He said the company's foundation will make a gift to relief efforts in Asia and EBay was informing sellers of ways they can place items up for sale with proceeds going to charitable organizations.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Tsunami Disaster

I cannot comprehend a magnitude nine earthquake, nor 52,000 plus dead, nor the horrors yet to come from disease, pestilence and starvation.

I believe that God does not cause bad things to happen. When they do, He is focused like a laser on how we help each other. Free will is both a blessing and a heavy burden.

Now here's pure speculation, but if we can jump over tall buildings to invade Iraq, maybe this is an opportunity to turn that bad situation into a good one. Pull our forces out of Iraq, and send them to Indonesia and India and Somalia, on an emergency basis. Bring our technology and our power to bear on giving aid, moving earth, building shelters, stopping looting, moving populations, and burying the dead. Supplement our forces with experts from NOAA, FEMA, CDC, and the rest of the alphabet soup. Meanwhile, tell the Iraqis to declare amnesty for the insurgents (that's what amnesty has historically been used for everywhere), and have the Iraqis take care of themselves. Oh, and I'll bet that our former strong allies will join THIS coalition!

When we're done in Asia, bring our men and women home to a hero's welcome. And in the whole process, let's not forget to say a few prayers that we get it right, as only we can do.


UPDATE: CNN totals 12/29/2004 1:10 PM EST

Sri Lanka: 23,015
India: At least 10,000
Indonesia: 45,268
Thailand: 1,830
Myanmar: 90
Malaysia: 65
Maldives: 46
Tanzania: 10
Bangladesh: 2
Somalia: Kenyan media reports hundreds dead
Kenya: Kenyan media reports one death
Seychelles: Unconfirmed reports of deaths

A Whirlwind Trip!

Lacy the dog and I drove from North Carolina to Maryland last Thursday evening after work, to pick up the mail. Then, we drove to Chicago at 5:00 am Friday arriving in time for Aunt Gloria's tremendous Christmas Eve dinner with Rick's prime rib. Saturday to Bob and Fay's for Christmas turkey and ham and all the fixin's, and Sunday leftovers plus pot roast! I tore pages from my Atkins book to use as napkins. We drove back to North Carolina Monday through icy Kentucky - a 14 hour drive - and we're back at work Tuesday. Phew! Wonderful times, wonderful people, but I'm still a little hungry...

Find Me A Tree Hugger

I noticed that when I read most stuff in three-ring binders – equipment manuals, procedures to do something, instructions and recipes and menus – I wind up turning a lot of pages.

Twice as many as when I read a book. It seems like all I do is turn pages.

It’s because the stuff is only printed on one side of the paper. So, the binder is twice as big, to hold twice as much paper, than it would be if somebody had pushed the two sided copy button on the copier. I have to have twice the number of filing cabinets, book cases, mail rooms, material handling carts, pallets of paper, forklift trucks, semi trailer trucks, forests… well, it goes on and on.

I’m not a tree hugger. I’m not a radical environmental foam-at-the-mouther. I could probably get to like a spotted owl or a snail darter, if they came with garlic and a zest of lemon. To me, Greenpeace is just another terrorist group which has nothing to do with either green or peace.

But, I gotta think it would be cheaper to copy on both sides of the paper.

We Can’t Make This Stuff Up

San Antonio Strippers to Wear Permits

SAN ANTONIO (Dec. 17) - The City Council on Friday approved an ordinance requiring strippers to wear their permits while they are on stage.

Colombian Police Seize 292 Voodoo Dolls

BOGOTA, Colombia (Dec. 17) - Colombian police seized 292 voodoo dolls but were reluctant to inspect the black, hand-sized talismans for fear of witchcraft. "Witches don't exist, but if they do, they do," Highway Police Capt. Gerson Fajardo explained in a local newspaper interview published on Thursday.

Worker Sacked for Listing Queen's Pudding on EBay

LONDON (Dec. 17) - A worker at Britain's Buckingham Palace has been fired for trying to sell a Christmas pudding gift from Queen Elizabeth on an Internet auction site. "Someone was dismissed but we are not giving out further details," she said, adding it was a tradition of the queen to give every member of staff a pudding as a Christmas present.

Submarine Surfaces, Sees Nothing Familiar

USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723) made a port visit to Pearl Harbor Dec. 20.

Officials say the visit from the U.S. Atlantic fleet submarine underscores the flexibility of submarines. The submarine, which is based in Norfolk, Va., has operated in the Pacific since its transit under the Arctic ice in August.

They were supposed to go under the ice and turn around. Problem is, when you're at the North Pole, every way you turn is "South". I hope they didn't tow their cars off the pier in Norfolk when they didn't come back...

Too Much Information

Or, quit while you're still coherent.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the security plans put in place by the U.S. commander in northern Iraq, Brig. Gen. Carter Ham.

''We have had a suicide bomber apparently strap something to his body and go into a dining hall. We know how difficult this is, to prevent people bent on suicide and stopping them,'' Myers said Wednesday at a Pentagon news conference. ''This was the insurgents that did this. * So it's not General Ham that attacked his dining hall.''

*This would have been a nice place to stop talking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Gee Willikers, Martha!

News flash: Martha Stewart hates the food in prison, and has many ideas about how drug dealers should be rehabilitated, not imprisoned.

She also wants new sentencing guidelines, especially before anything more might happen to her (wink, wink).

AND, she wants us to think about the women she has met in prison who are ''devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.''

DeVoid? I remember Laverne, but she wasn't DeVoid, she was DeFazio.

Yeah, I think about them. They copped a plea, and only wanted to do their time in a minimum security pen with fresh air and dumb screws and three squares. And then Miss Goody Two Shoes shows up and makes everybody start brushing their teeth, and making doilies! And bad mouthing the grub! It turned into hard time for everybody, didn't it? Nice job, Martha! Yeah, prison kinda sucks.


Listening to a felon about prison reform would be like listening to Rumsfeld about armor.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Nobel Prize for Literature

The winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, Elfriede Jelinek of Austria, did not show up to claim her prize. She said that she is mentally ill wih agoraphobia. No, not angoraphobia, which would be unnatural fear of soft sweaters and rabbits. Her problem is crowds and flying. "Perhaps I'll take a boat to New York City one day. I'm just afraid that the speed and noise would make me mad as soon as I set foot on land."

Note the use of the future tense. Yes, let's avoid making her crazy. By all means.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Evidence Through Torture OK, Government Says

This is not news. My parents ate up the evidence that came out after the nuns tortured me in school. It was a given.

Lawyers for the Guantanamo prisoners say that some were held solely on evidence gained by torture. They said this violated fundamental fairness and due process standards in the U.S.

In response, the government conceded in court that the military panels who look at the prisoners can use evidence gained by torture in deciding their fate. They said that the detainees “have no constitutional rights enforceable in this court.” The government said torture is against U.S. policy, and subject to military discipline. Some U.S. soldiers in GITMO have been disciplined for misconduct, including a female interrogator who removed her blouse during questioning.

No, she was NOT wearing a cowboy hat, either!

Government Discovers Blogs!

Don Rumsfeld’s Boys Find Free Technology They Can Soon Spend Billions For

Blogs have become a great way to communicate news, plans, and events informally and quickly. My family likes to read my blog just to find out where I am and where I will be. Friends keep in touch and share opinions, like we used to do at happy hour. Clients and consultants communicate more freely and more often. It doesn’t need to cost any more than the basic internet connection we have anyway.

But some time ago, Science Daily said:

“The Office of Naval Research and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) are testing out the idea that weblogs can be powerful communication tools to bring together teams of people. The ONR and NUWC are leading a government-industry team to develop a blog as a promising new approach to speeding up the exchange of information on new defense technologies--and thereby speed up getting the technologies into the field.”

Now these guys have picked 12 pilot programs from among 120 under the DoD RAI-NC. It can’t be a billion dollar program without a lot of initials, and those stand for the Department of Defense Rapid Acquisition Incentive Net Centricity initiative. In English that would be “Rumsfeld’s Off the Shelf Internet Boondogle.”

And, they also put two guys in charge, so that they can each pull in different directions. That’s so the contractors can plan on multi-year cash flow.

The contractor is developing a blog “for distribution of general information to staffers from the seven team members. It also will enable users to post proprietary data, for example, test results and reports, that are accessible only to designated readers or groups of readers. The homepage will resemble a newspaper consisting of stories posted by users.” That takes it from costing millions to costing billions.

Now, that sounds a lot like the one you’re looking at. What did this one cost?

Never mind.

Our Govm’t In Inaction

The AP writes:

“The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday approved technology giving airlines what could be a cheaper option to provide Internet connections. The commissioners also voted to solicit public comment about ending the ban on in-flight use of cell phones.”

Well now, why all the sudden rush? From 1988 to 2000, I flew all over the country, and to Puerto Rico and Europe on business. I averaged 2-1/2 days a week. During that time, portable laptops and small cell phones became pretty essential to us road warriors. I joined airline clubs, so that I could work – and communicate - while waiting endlessly for some airline to shred its schedule. Again.

We were told over and over again on every flight that cell phone used would, at least, cause the plane to fall from the sky, and at most cost us a hefty fine, confiscation, arrest and humiliation. When I first heard about the hijackings on 9/11, I wondered whether Atta and his friends had used $59.95 cell phones from Radio Shack to bring down the planes.

And internet access? Yeah, right. We’re only flying in the most sophisticated machine ever invented for moving passengers, six miles above the earth, at speeds the fighter pilots of WWII only dreamed about. No way can you use a COM-POO-TER, Hoss.

Hey, I’m only an engineer. I know that the airlines have the FCC and the FAA in their bed, and they have painted us with The Big Lie. And you can lie to me about technical stuff and I’ll just swallow it, right?

See, it’s a money thing. Like everything else. Now, I suspect that they are turning down the heat because folks like me have discovered the joys of getting to our destinations without them. DESPITE them! They need to lure us back.

“The FCC already had approved a high-speed Internet service provided by Boeing Co. Called ‘Connexion’ which uses satellites to get air passengers online. The service is offered by some international carriers, including some flights to and from the United States. But airline industry officials say cash-strapped domestic carriers haven't bought into the service largely because of the cost - an estimated $500,000 per jet to install the needed equipment.” Let’s be real: that number is so ludicrously high that it demands recognition for what it is – a SWAG (silly wild a** guess) which really says, “I don’t want to do it so I’ll scare you.”

Concerning cell phones, get this from the article:

“The FCC is concerned that cell phone use in an airplane might interfere with cell phone use on the ground. It will start taking public comment on the issue in early 2005, and a decision could be made within a year.” Tell me that FCC dudes who fly on FCC airplanes DON’T use cellphones in the air. This technology has been in the hands of the public for over 25 years, and NOW they think it MIGHT interfere? Oh, and let’s applaud how really, really good cellphone use on the ground is today. You know, where I work, it’s so bad in eastern Pennsylvania, western New Jersey, and most of Maryland that a little interference might be welcome.

Here comes an interesting problem: “The FAA's concern stems from whether airborne cell phone calls could interfere with a plane's navigation and electrical systems, agency spokeswoman Laura Brown said. The technology used on seatback phones causes no such interference. The FAA has commissioned a private, independent firm to study the issue. Results aren't due until 2006. Brown said any decision on cell phone use won't be made until then.”

Laura doesn’t know? Well, Laura, I have been preached to by countless flight attendents who say your agency TOLD them there is life threatening interference. Even though every airliner uses two or more microwave ovens; television sets; cargo elevators on the wide bodies; and major jet engines that generate not only thrust but also static by the boatload. Yeah, go use my taxes to pay a contractor to take a couple of years to tell you what every one of us, and every one of you, already knows.

If my cell phone was a hazard, wouldn’t your security folks TAKE IT AWAY FROM ME?

The bottom line: they are afraid that cell phone use and internet use may interfere with airline cash flow.

I am afraid that it won’t!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Screeners Spot, Lose Fake Bomb

I KNEW that the security color was wrong. Whoever made it puce?! Now it's red, to match their faces.

Training Exercise at Newark Airport Goes Awry


NEWARK, N.J. (Dec. 15) - Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted - and then lost - a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed.

"This really underscores the importance of the TSA's ongoing training exercises," said Ann Davis, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for screening passengers and baggage for weapons and explosives.

Ann drove from Washington to Newark for the press conference.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Mr. Strickland from Hill Valley High School in “Back to the Future” would know what to call those responsible: “Slackers!”

Use of Death Penalty Drops for Fifth Year
By Ellen Wulfhorst, Reuters

NEW YORK (Dec. 14) -- This December is the first month in over a decade that no U.S. prisoner will be executed, reflecting what experts say is a gradual shift in America's views toward punishing its most violent criminals.

Broader concern about national security, court rulings questioning who should be executed and cases of convicts later found innocent have combined to slow the number of executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

This year's total of 59 is down 40 percent from five years ago. The all-time high since the reinstatement of the U.S. death penalty in 1976 was 98 executions in 1999. Last year there were 65 executions in the United States.

Hey, At Least It's Good Stuff!

Sopranos to open a booth at the New Joisey State Fair.

DEA Says New Jersey Heroin Is Purest in U.S

TRENTON, N.J. (Dec. 12) - New Jersey's heroin was found to be the purest in the nation for the second straight year, a dubious distinction that has sparked concern in the medical and law enforcement communities.

Federal Drug Enforcement Agency tests of heroin samples obtained from New Jersey streets showed 71.4 percent purity in 2002, nearly twice the national average. In the 2003 report, due out soon, New Jersey again will hold the top spot, DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told The Star-Ledger of Newark.

''You can't buy any better heroin in the world than you can buy in New Jersey,'' said Michael Pasterchick, special agent in charge of the Newark DEA office.

The average purity of samples taken in 2002 in Philadelphia was 66.3 percent, in New York 61.5 percent, in Baltimore 22.9 percent and in San Francisco 12.1 percent, according to the DEA.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Teenagers in Washington State

Is this judge right, or is he as wacky as the ones in the rest of the country? Let's hear your thoughts:

SEATTLE, Washington (AP) -- Striking a blow for rebellious teenagers, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday that state law prohibits parents from eavesdropping on a child's phone conversations.

The case reached the high court because of a purse-snatching.

A 17-year-old boy was convicted of the robbery, in part on testimony from his girlfriend's mother, who overhead him discussing the crime on the phone with her daughter. The daughter had taken a cordless phone into her bedroom and closed the door. In another room, her mother pressed the speakerphone button on an extension, listened in and took notes.

The court ruled that the daughter and her boyfriend had a reasonable expectation of privacy on the phone. Washington state law prohibits intercepting or recording conversations without the consent of all participants. "The Washington privacy statute puts a high value on the privacy of communications," Justice Tom Chambers wrote in the unanimous opinion.

The boyfriend will get a new trial.

Thanks, Ellen, for sending the article. What do you think?

My Monty Python Self

Mary Poppins: Go Ahead, Make My Day

Items like this help to explain the decline of the British empire:

A London theatre is warning that its new play based on the novel behind the international film classic Mary Poppins is too scary for young children.

The version showing at the Prince Edward Theatre is much closer to the original sombre story by Pamela Travers (1899-1996) than to the sugary Walt Disney film of 1964.

The theatre is barring parents from bringing children under the age of three and advising them not to take those under seven, as there are upsetting scenes, including one with toys coming to life in the children's nursery.

Kids under three should be left with their nanny...

President Bush Has Annual Physical ... In Oz

Munchkinland Official Posted by Hello

''(Doctors at Bethesda Naval Hospital) determined (Bush) is in superior health overall for a man his age,'' White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

The White House put out a short letter signed by the 10 doctors who participated in the exam and planned to release further details late Saturday about what the team found. Buchan would not comment on any problems discovered during the exam, which lasted about three hours.

''I have interviewed and examined President George W. Bush and have reviewed his medical record,'' the doctors' statement said. ''Within the scope of my specialty, I find him to be fit for duty and have every reasonable expectation that he will remain fit for duty for the duration of his presidency.''


Sounds eerily like another medical pronouncement we all heard as children, from the Munchkinland Official in the Wizard of Oz, about the Wicked Witch of the West:

"As Coroner, I must aver,
I thoroughly examined her,
And she's not only MERELY dead,
She's really most SINCERELY dead."

Friday, December 10, 2004

Guns Don't Kill People...

... Bullets Kill People

Another nut with a gun climbed a stage and wasted innocent people this week.

I firmly believe that that government governs best, which governs least. I think the bill of rights is critically important. And I think that responsible people have the right to buy guns to protect themselves, for sport and for their own reasons.

I also think that if a person steps out of line once with a gun, it should be all over. If you're a felon, a drug addict, a drunk, no guns. Here's something scary based on a FBI crime report:

"In 1996, handguns were used to murder 2 people in New Zealand, 15 in Japan, 30 in Great Britain, 106 in Canada, 211 in Germany, and 9,390 in the United States."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

On the Road Again

I found out yesterday, December 7th, the infamous day, that I have a new client who needs me in Durham, NC, starting tomorrow, December 9th.

Great news! It's five hours from my Maryland place, ten hours from Joisey. They are in a hurry... and so am I.

Lacy is already packed.


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Science: Quayle on Mars

"Mars is essentially in the same orbit... Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle, 8/11/89 (reported in Esquire, 8/92)

The West Wing

The new West Wing is the best thing that ever happened to my Tivo.

The first three seasons were great; I watch them all of the time, for the acting and the drama. Four and five were very good, and Tivo records all appearances of the show. Now, since Leo is out as Chief of Staff and CJ is in, it records the shows, I watch about ten minutes of each, and then I erase it because it is so bad. A soap opera! It is rejuvenating my Tivo!

In the context of the show: Is it likely that a President would promote a press secretary to Chief of Staff? Anybody come to mind from this list: Ron Ziegler, Dee Dee Myers, Marlin Fitzwater, Bill Moyers, Mike McCurry, Joe Lockhart, or Ari Fleischer?

In the context of drama: Could they not find an actor with more than two facial expressions? The only time the character has shown any passion was on the mistreatment of the women of Kuhmar. Remember, the character was formerly a Hollywood spin doctor; she knows nothing of government. That's why she was press secretary! It would be like Shakespeare promoting Harry Potter to Hamlet on the death of the Prince. Mr. Green Jeans was nice, but he was no Captain Kangaroo. Captain Kangaroo was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Captain Kangaroo.

The West Wing is teaching us the value of term limits.

Nutty News

High Court to Hear Dispute Over Wine Sales

WASHINGTON (Dec. 7) - The Supreme Court is considering whether states may bar people from buying wine directly from out-of-state suppliers, a big-money question that could lead to sweeping changes in how alcoholic beverages are regulated and sold. Justices were hearing arguments Tuesday in three appeals involving bans in Michigan and New York on direct shipments that cross state borders. The dispute pits regulators and wholesalers against out-of-state wineries that want to sell alcohol to consumers, mostly over the Internet or by phone.

Isn’t it nice that all of the important stuff is now settled, so that they can enjoy a case like this?


Jackson DNA Sample Collected
Source Says Singer Cooperated With Request

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 5) - Michael Jackson has voluntarily given a DNA sample to authorities, according to a source close to the case, but it was not immediately clear how officials planned to use the sample in the singer's child molestation case.

Dry cleaners in Chappaqua, NY, report being deluged with truckloads ofdirty clothes following the announcement.


Martha Stewart Cooks With NBC on Syndicated Show

LOS ANGELES (Dec. 6) - Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is said to be in final negotiations with NBC to distribute a new syndicated show hosted by the company's imprisoned founder. Sources said the show would focus on many of the same topics as her previous "Martha Stewart Living" lifestyle/how-to series, but would boast a different production style courtesy of reality TV maven Mark Burnett.

First episode: how to wrap your tin cup in a doiley so it doesn’t make that clanging sound when you bang it on the bars of your cell.


Bawbwa Walteus names Paris Hilton “Fascinating”

NEW YORK (Dec. 7) - Paris Hilton has been named one of the "most fascinating people of 2004" by Barbara Walters. Walters will host a special on Wednesday, presenting the 10 most intriguing people of the year.

Paris Hilton did not say, “You know that Old Lady smell? Eeeewwwwwwww!”

My Son John in the Middle East

John is a Navy Lieutenant on the staff of Commander U.S. Fifth Fleet. John called yesterday from Bahrain, to say that his Navy meeting in Jiddah was cancelled, and he was not there during the attack as he would otherwise have been.

Attack Shows al-Qaida Still a Force in Saudi Arabia
Nine Killed in Bold Assault on U.S. Consulate in Jiddah

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Dec. 7) - The deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in western Saudi Arabia - the first high-profile attack here in seven months - showed that even highly guarded American targets in the kingdom are vulnerable, and analysts warned terrorists will likely be encouraged to attack again.

Nine people were killed in Monday's assault, in which militants used explosives and firearms to breach the external perimeter of the consulate before they were caught in a gunbattle by Saudi Special Forces, who stormed the compound.

Three of the five attackers were killed in the gunfight, and a fourth later died of his injuries. The fifth was wounded and arrested.

The five victims were consulate staff: one Yemeni, a Sudanese, a Filipino, a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan, according to a Saudi security official speaking to Saudi television. He said 13 people were injured, including five Saudi security men.

The significance of the attack, analysts say, is the target, timing and element of surprise, three factors that may force a closer look at the Saudi government's efforts in fighting terror.

"Here is an American consulate that was targeted. It was penetrated. They managed to go through the security, which should have been as tough and as solid as a shield. It shows that American targets in Saudi Arabia, no matter how well protected, are vulnerable to these kind of attacks,'' said Abdul Khaleq Abdulla, an Emirates-based political analyst.

Home again

We arrived back in Maryland last night at 10:30 pm. I drove out of Chicago at 8:15 am, and we made great time. I got inside the house, turned the heat on, and just collapsed. That's when Lacy found the ball, and dropped it on my lap. Hey, she had a long day too, right?

Sunday, December 05, 2004


I will post some more articles about this, including Lewis Carroll’s guide to pronunciation, in the next days. Meanwhile, here’s a literary gem which always delights the younger set.



by Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Checking In . . .

Just a quick note from Chicagoland. My aunt's funeral is over: memories stirred, laughs shared, tears shed. Most important of all, links between away family members and the home team were dusted off, polished up, and strengthened. I got wonderful condolence calls from my two oldest sons - from New Jersey for one, from Bahrain for the other. Most of us are resting now; this is exhausting! One big get together tomorrow, then back on the road. Lacy is being a wonder pup, spreading her own brand of joy in the sorrow. Well, "sadness" if not sorrow. All part of life, isn't it?


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More Serious Ruminations

Gentle Reader,

(Who started their column like that? Deja vu all over again!)

I have learned a very lot about blogs and "blogging" in the past week. [Why does every noun have to become a verb today? Was Walter Winchell "columning"? Not! ] I have planned many improvements to Hasty Ruminations. But, there will be a short pause while real life takes over.

For one, I am 95% moved from the New Jersey house, which is freshly painted, repaired and almost market ready. I am 94% moved in to the rented place in Maryland. The missing 1% is loaded in the trailer and ready for a trip today.

But alas alack, caloo callay, 'tis not brillig today, because I just found out that a dear aunt has died. It must be December, because that's when everyone in my clan dies in Chicago. So, a quick five hour trip to Maryland, drop the trailer unloaded, then dog Lacy and I will drive to Chicago on Thursday for the wake and the funeral. It will be good to see the family again. We always wind up having a great time and lots of laughs (is it the Irish wake pattern?) except during the wake and during the funeral themselves. I'm driving because flying anymore is nuts and Lacy doesn't take to pat down searches. I'll never use those miles!

I shall be back as soon as I can!