27 July 2004

France - appeasers even at the micro level

A 23-year-old mother is attacked by 6 young men on a commuter train and 20 witnesses stand by and watch. Supposedly she was "mistaken for a Jew."
The woman told police that the men, described as North Africans and blacks, then cut off locks of her hair, opened her shirt with their knives and used markers to draw three swastikas on her stomach.
There's something ironic about that.

21 July 2004


My letter to my congressman:

Mr. Kline

Please do not allow our great nation to stand by and watch genocide
take place yet again in Africa. We should do whatever we can -
including the use of force - to stop the wholesale murder of innocent

We can't be the world's police force, trying to stop every crime and attacking every government we don't agree with. But we should not let the fear of this perception stop us from doing the right thing when so many people are being slaughtered.

Thank you,

tom clements
I sent something similar to the president.

12 July 2004

soccer dad

Both boys' soccer teams had districts over the weekend. No. 1 son lost, No. 2 son won. They were good games, but it was a lot of driving.
The U14 team are a lot of fun to watch. They're have talent at every position, but they have a tendancy to get down and quit when things aren't going their way. In Saturday's game we went up 1-0 at the start of the second half and held the lead for a while before the opponents snuck one in (we snuck ours in, too :-)).

That was okay, we were still playing well.

Then the game got a little physical - not out of control, but more physical - and my son wound up getting a yellow card for a slide tackle from behind. He definitely deserved the penalty. I thought the card was maybe a little much, only because one of the players on the other team was called for three separate dangerous plays without a card. Actually, I don't mean to complain about the ref - I really thought he did well. I would have liked for his assistants to be a little more helpful, but all in all the game was well officiated.

The problem was with our team. As soon as my son got the card, the wind was completely out of our sails. We just quit trying. The other team scored two goals in quick succession and won 3-1. We need to learn to continue playing hard even when everything breaks against us.

The U11 games were less frustrating - but then winning usually is. My boy was in goal for both games and did well. He had played in the field for the last few games, so he was a little rusty in the first game on Saturday. They scored one on him early, but that was all.

The championship game on Sunday was very exciting. The other team scored first. The field was soaked and there was puddle in the box that made it hard to play the ball - it would be heading in at a good pace, my boy would head out to pick it up and it would hit the puddle and stop well before he expected. That left him out of position and allowed the opposing player to get to the ball first and tap it in.

We scored one to tie it and that's how the game ended. My son had a couple of diving saves in the second half to hold them and we managed to win in the second overtime period on a corner kick that one of our players bent into the goal. Very exciting stuff - at least for a soccer dad.

09 July 2004

Gifted and talented

Got a form letter yesterday that eventually told me that No. 2 son was being dropped from the local Gifted and Talented program. There's a phone number listed to contact the school director for the program. It's the main school number, not a direct line. And of course there's no one in the office until August.

I'm sure it's a coincidence, the letters coming out in early July.

In the first place, I'm not a big fan of Gifted and Talented programs and would probably just let it go except that No. 1 son is still one of the select few.

I think enrichment activities are beneficial for all kids - not just the ones who score better on standardized tests or meet some subjective criteria of the staff. I don't think that G&T kids get anymore out of it than others. I don't like the idea of institutionalizing an intellectual elitism at the elementary school level. Everyone already knows who the smart kids are, they don't need the schools to tell them.

The same day we got that letter, we got the letter saying the No.1 son was still in the program (level 1 - the higher level) and listing the 'criteria' for both levels. Level 1 is supposed to be the top 5% and Level 2 is the top 10%. A number of qualifying factors are listed - test scores being one. From what I remember, No. 2 son scored well on his standardized tests - 97th percentile, I think, in at least one area,and I think above 90th in all areas. Pretty similar to No. 1 son, actually, although they definitely have different personalities and intellectual strengths.

So I'm going to track down the powers that be and have them explain their decision to me. Even though I'd rather just see the program trashed and the money go toward enrichment activities for everyone.

08 July 2004

I knew it!!

Coffee: the new health drink. (registration required)
I can finally thumb my nose at all those green tea snobs and their antioxidants - "coffee may contain even more--specifically polyphenols."
I have to observe that some (at least) of the research is funded by coffee-producing countries.
I can live with that.
And - Finland turns out to be the coffee-drinkingest country on earth.

07 July 2004

War Doves in the Press

Reading this from Instapundit I'm just appalled at the shameless, arrogant stupidity of some of our MAJOR news outlets. I don't know if the idea of the objective journalist has always been a myth, if the reality has always been that reporters (and probably more so publishers and editors) try to shape public opinion with what they report. I know some papers are well known to be more liberal than others, but haven't they taken their bias to a new level in the last couple of years?

I don't think I'm too naive, but this kind of thing pushes me closer to cynical than I'd like to be.


I signed up for my new gmail account last week when I rediscovered Blogger. They asked if I wanted one, and I said, 'yes. OH yes.'

so far, so good. I like the conversational organization, the labels, and the keyboard shortcuts. I look forward to a few more features -
more filter options - like being able to forward messages to another email address
pop access - this will be huge. I've been pissed at Yahoo ever since they dropped this service. I hope google doesn't get greedy and try to make it a premium service.
contacts - it's awesome that it automatically adds people to the contacts list, but I would like to be able to organize all my contact info here. Import and export options would be nice. In fact why not integrate search functionality to try to look up addresses for people. That would be hard to do well, but google is the search company.

Now I just have to decide at what point do I tell people I have a new email address. I hate that. That's one of the main reasons I use yahoo as my primary email - no matter who my ISP is my email stays the same.

02 July 2004

Latest jones

I'm getting an itch for a new bike. Okay, the itch is in full swing.

We went to Arizona a couple of months ago to rent Harleys and ride around for three days. We went with 5 other people and had a great time - better by far than we even expected.

We stayed in Belmont, an exit about 10 miles west of Flagstaff. We expected that all of Arizona would be hot in May. It never occurred to us - until all our reservations were made, at least - to check the usual temps. It was a little chillier than we anticipated.

Day one we picked up the bikes - in the snow, of course - and then rode down to Sedona. It was beautiful and considerably warmer. One of the most interesting aspects of the trip was the way temperature, vegetation, and general appearance changed so dramatically in an hour's ride out from Flagstaff - temperate forest in the canyon on the way to Sedona giving way to desert, pine forests around Flagstaff, chaparral to the northwest on the way to the Grand Canyon.

Day two - no snow - we headed east out of Flagstaff stopping first at Walnut Canyon. We hiked the tourist trail through the park and looked at the handiwork of the Sinagua people who built their homes in the cliffs of the canyon. Our next stop was the Meteor Crator made famous in the movie Starman. It was interesting, but hardly worth the US$10 per person to see the big hole in the ground.

Continuing east we stopped for lunch at the The Brown Mug in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see. Winslow is a sad little town. Truly the only clean, well-kempt part was the corner where they had created an homage to the Eagle's song Take it Easy. There was a mural on the side of a building and a statue of a guy with a guitar standing on the corner. The food was really good, though. At both our previous stops that day a stranger had recommended that we go there for lunch. That was too compelling to pass on. It was Mexican fare, and really, really good. Couldn't tell you what I ate, but it was tasty.

After lunch we continued east (less trepid travelers would have turned for home, but that wasn't us) to the north entrance of The Petrified Forest\Painted Desert National Park. The park has two entrances with 26 miles of blacktop between them. We rode through stopping at every scenic turn out and took many pictures. It was truly stunning and we enjoyed it a lot.

The bad news was that we came out of the park 90 miles from Flagstaff and it was getting dark. Flagstaff, for those of you as igorant of Arizona topography as we were, sits at an elevation of about 7000 feet - pretty well up the shoulder of a mountain. It was a long cold ride home. We made decent time - averaging a little over 80 mph all the way.

Day three we spent at the Grand Canyon. Wow. 'Nuf said.

It was an awesome trip. Gerri said she enjoyed it more than our last cruise, and I had to agree. We're already planning for another trip.

Meanwhile, since riding that Softail around for three days I've been looking at bigger bikes and trying to decide what I want. I don't want a Harley. I just feel like they're way overpriced - even the used ones. Someone was explaining to me that they were an investment. I didn't contradict them, but I don't agree. I keep surfing through CarSoup and CycleTrader.

Gerri likes the cruiser style, but I'm leaning more toward a sport touring look. I think I just need to go for a few test rides to see what feels best. I was pretty comfortable on that Harley, I have to admit. I just think I'd like a bigger fairing and more storage up front. For now, I'll just keep dreaming...

01 July 2004

Darndest things

Maia: "Mommy are you missing your mom today?"

Mommy: "Sweetie, I miss her everyday."

Maia: "I think you're just sad because you can't see her. But she's
not sad because she's in heaven and she can still see you anytime."


My wife's mother died about a month ago. She was golfing with her friends and a blood vessel in her brain essentially blew up. For her part it was in all likelihood a nice way to go. No pain - just a little confusion and then fade to black.

For the rest of the family it has been horrible. My wife has a brother and a sister. Everyone was together for the 4 or 5 days she was on life support and for 3 days after she died - planning and then living through the wake and funeral.

Then everyone went back to their lives.

Now it's been just over a month and many people expect the grieving to be winding down. And that makes it even harder, because it's not. People who've lived through it know better. It takes at least a year before you START to feel normal again - before the grief is not sitting right there on your shoulder waiting to blind side you when you aren't looking.

The first year is the hardest because it's the year of firsts - everyone has their first birthday without their mom (or wife or sister ...), the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas. And as hard as those are, sometimes it's the other days that are worse. My wife talked to her mom about twice a day every day. Close doesn't begin to describe how they were. The impulse to call her is deeply ingrained. That's the part many people don't get.

At least a year before you BEGIN to feel normal, and several more years before you really feel normal.
Of course, you never get over it. You learn to live with it as people have always done, but you don't get over it.