Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
Everyone is welcome here.
(Some links or topics may not be completely kid-appropriate.)

Fri, Dec 31 2004

Road Food

In case you didn't get enough gadgets for Christmas, how about this handy dandy 12 Volt Sandwich Maker? A tip of the Stetson to Popgadget for the link.

posted at: 16:14 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 30 2004

The House

If you've driven California's coastal Highway 1 near Watsonville in Santa Cruz County, you've passed the Redman House. It stands alone on the ocean side of the highway, surrounded by flat acreage, and looks like some eerie location building awaiting final touches from a horror film crew. But if any of you want to use it as a haunted mansion, you'd better make your move now. The neglected 19th century beauty may soon be restored.

posted at: 07:50 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 29 2004

Helping Those Affected By The Tsunami

In the aftermath of the recent Southeast Asia earthquake and the tsunami that has devastated coastal areas, a lot of people are struggling to do something to help. The SEA-EAT blog is posting specifics on aid, locating missing persons and more.

I received an email this morning containing a pointer to World Vision. They're putting together survivor kits that include things like water, blankets and cooking supplies. I'm told their site is so busy that you might not be able to get there to make a donation, and that you can call their Donor Service voice line at 800-777-5777.

Another agency I'm acquainted with, which you might not know as well as you know the Red Cross/Red Crescent, is ADRA. They're beginning with these measures. I've met workers from ADRA and have found them to be both visionaries and practical people who get the job done in the best way possible when it comes to working across international lines and dealing with the politics of various regions.

If none of those appeal to you, consider one of these groups:
Doctors Without Borders
Operation USA
The immediate need from Americans is money. The agencies aren't being greedy when they ask for your money instead of your blankets and food. The logistics of getting items into hard-hit areas means relief workers will need to coordinate with supply sources near those areas in order to maximize the effect. It might give you tremendous personal satisfaction to send a warm blanket, but the monetary donation you give will buy many blankets, and will help agencies be swift in getting them directly to the folks who need them.

posted at: 08:36 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 28 2004

Biting The Hand That Feeds The Meter

Every now and then a story something like this pops up in some town that has insufficient parking. Usually the magical meter-feeders are costumed area residents who enjoy brightening someone's day. In this particular case the meters were being fed by local merchants who didn't want to see their shoppers get a ticket during the holiday season.

One might suppose, in an era of increasingly tight city budgets, that the additional money placed in parking meters would be a welcome addition to the local economy. But some towns favor local ordinances forbidding this sort of thing. If the statistics from the San Luis Obispo story are correct, the money from fines does not make more for the town than the money fed into parking meters. So why on earth would they continue to keep such a negative parking ordinance when they could otherwise encourage money going into the local budget and could keep local shoppers and shopkeepers happy at the same time?

Some towns are figuring out that people come downtown more often, and spend more money, when they can park without problems. Grand Rapids, Michigan has been trying out in-car parking meters. Some towns cover parking meters during the holidays, and some towns are eliminating the outdated machines altogether.

We once attempted to do some holiday shopping in beautiful, downtown Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. Although the town doesn't utilitze parking meters, they have their own nasty-nice way of telling you to shop quickly, or eles. We skipped half the stores we really wanted to visit, and we left the area to find food because our time ran out.

I hope we'll see a return to the days when cities thought more of keeping downtowns alive than they did of harrassing shoppers. We may actually get to the point where the heavy budget cuts will mean the elmination of personnel who now spend their days giving tickets to those who park and shop. Maybe that's a good thing. It will mean the city officials can encourage hard-working cops to put their focus back on thieves and murderers, where it belongs.

posted at: 10:41 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 27 2004

Bogged Down With A Bug

I've been dragging around with a virus of some sort for days, so let me refer you to a recent, interesting post of another blogger:

While some folks are running to and fro in hopes of changing the U.S. Constitution to allow immigrants like Arnold Schwarzenegger to make a run for the White House, QandO Blog takes us where other interesting possibilities have risen to stir up the voters of America.

posted at: 10:41 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 24 2004

'Twas So

'Twas just hours before Christmas and all through the house.
Not a creature was stirring 'cept Deb and her mouse.
She wanted to send you this holiday post,
And to wish you good cheer from the central West Coast.

posted at: 12:15 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 23 2004

Christmas Cards

I really enjoyed the story of the Christmas cards that still came to someone whose address book was stolen. For those of us who have relocated more than once in life, the annual Christmas card ritual is more than just an exercise in correspondence. It's a way to see where all the family and friends are now, both geographically and emotionally. Even a few short lines written in a card tell me a lot about how the sender is feeling at this time in his or her life. And so, each year, when I threaten to cut back on the sending, I look at the long list I have and remember that each name and address on that list represents someone who has enriched my life in some way. So the cards go out. Some won't be sent, because a special friend or two died during the year. Some are being sent for the first time to new friends. I'm late getting some into the mail this year. But I'll send them anyway. It's a great way to focus on the many blessings I have.

posted at: 07:58 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 22 2004

Even The Jolly Old Elf Has One

Have you been to Santa's Blog yet?

posted at: 13:47 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Christmas Cookies With A Little Too Much Crunch

As I was waiting for a batch of homemade cookies to bake this morning I ran across an alert on Archway Holiday Cashew Nougat Cookies. I used to work at a wholesale baking company, and I know that things like this can happen even under the most stringent safety conditions in such a setting. But if you have any of those particular cookies, check the package date against the dates in the article. You might want to return the cookes. Don't just throw them out. The company can study the contaminated contents to prevent future mishaps.

posted at: 09:45 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 21 2004

Geragos & Geragos Left Out A Little Something

A site asking for donations to keep investigating the murders Scott Peterson has been convicted of will most certainly attract both loyal supporters and angry detractors. Such a site does point out the fact that an innocent or guilty verdict in a court isn't the end of the matter in today's society. A lot of people will feel the whole thing is closed in February, when sentencing takes place. The truth is that the real cost to all of us, both in terms of money and emotion, may be only beginning to be counted. A part of the Christmas season will always remind many of us of the deaths of Laci and Conner Peterson.

The law firm put up a very professional site, but their focus is on their client. In the event that you also want to make a donation to remember those who were murdered, you can visit the site honoring Laci and Conner.

posted at: 06:51 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 20 2004

One Dead Tree: $200

Remember the shipment of Christmas trees that went from Oregon to Hawaii, along with a mainland snake? That, or maybe something else, has escalated the going rate for a holiday tree in Hawaii.

posted at: 14:01 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Illegal Alien Means Illegal Driver

I don't quite understand the concept of Dark Mondays. Why should legal residents and citizens of the state inconvenience themselves further because a group of illegal aliens want to break the law and still receive rewards and privileges for it? I wish someone could explain it to me in a way that makes sense. So far, no one has.

posted at: 13:36 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Christmas Is For Everyone

As we head into the home stretch toward December 25, it's interesting to watch people and see what their priorities are this week. Yesterday we headed out to buy some baking supplies, and a few bulk items from Costco, and we decided, on the spur of the moment, to stop in at Circuit City and see what electronics were on sale. We encountered the most eclectic mix of people I've ever seen in that store. There was a couple, both dark-haired, who had gone to extreme lengths to match. She had dyed her long hair purple and he had dyed his goatee the same shade. One tall man who wandered the computer section wore a black leather jacket, long hair in dreadlock-style braids, sunglasses and a blue bandanna wrapped around his forehead. There were Caucasian grandmas in casual fleece suits and Asian college students in Gap tops and jeans. I heard Australian accents mingling with Southern California drawl.

Actually, the Costco too, had quite a mix of shoppers. One older man had come in and chosen more goodies than he could comfortably carry without a shopping cart. He was struggling to balance one more thing in his grip as he smiled at me and shook his head. The football game on the big screens drew a crowd of both shoppers and folks who only wanted to see the game. I passed two college-age guys several times. They were filling their cart with food and paperware. The second time we were in an aisle at the same time I heard one of them laugh and say to the other, "Yeah, I feel like getting drunk today." It was spoken a little loudly and came off like an attempt to get a look from those of us shopping nearby. I was nearly trampled a couple of times when shoppers spotted the stations at the ends of aisles where free samples of smoked links, muffins and party spreads were being passed out in little paper cups. You could have made a meal off the sum of the tastes, and I suspect that's exactly what some of the more aggressive shoppers were doing.

The shoppers I saw yesterday ranged from list-checking over-achievers to those just out to mingle and see what was out there this last Sunday before Christmas. The U.S. economy has been hard-hit the last couple of years, and many are missing a loved one this holiday season because of the troops who are still stationed in Iraq and other places. The news is full of explosions, mergers, prescription drug warnings and murders. Somehow, we manage to suspend belief for a little while when we go into the stores and we become part of a kind of impromptu circus where we mingle with strangers and touch one another's lives in ways we sometimes can't even touch with our own family and co-workers sometimes. It's bizarre, and yet we're drawn into it year after year.

I got up this morning and saw a piece from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the contrasts between Christmas now and Christmas in 1904. Now we have more traffic, more sales, more stores, more media, and maybe more money exchanging hands. But I noticed the similarity of the wish for happy endings. As a writer, I know a lot about endings, and I know that they can't always be perfectly happy. But it seems as though any time people absorb a story, we go into it with the subconscious wish that something, no matter how small, will turn out right in the end. Even writers in the horror genre will tell you that some hope must remain in order for the story to do its job of scaring the socks off readers. If the characters have no hope and no sense of the possibility of deliverance from the evil, there's no true conflict, and so there's no real story there.

Even people who don't believe that the birth of Jesus was the extraordinary birth of a divine being want this same sense of a happy ending. And whatever we all manage to make the Christmas season mean for us, we know that underneath the wrappings and the lights and the music there is still a universal need for relief and deliverance, and a need for celebration. If we believe that Jesus saves us, we gain a great gift. But even those who choose not to believe receive a great gift of a season that includes a hope for happy endings and a purpose to all the conflict in life. So when you get out there and have to deal with the traffic and the crowds this week, take heart. It might look like one big mess, but it's actually a lot of people who realize that Christmas really does have something for everyone and that we're all in this together.

posted at: 09:11 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 17 2004

Cool Down

Well, here we go. For those of us who overheat easily, now we can get relief. If it's good enough for the Oakland Raiders, it's good enough for me.

posted at: 14:36 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Gun Ban In San Francisco?

Well, this should be an interesting issue to follow for the next year. And if the people of San Francisco agree to give up their guns, how long will it be before other cities and counties take up the issue?

Criminals will continue to get guns and will be more bold than they are now. If you don't want to own a gun, that is your choice. But if you vote to take that choice away from all law-abiding citizens, you are voting to weaken good neighborhoods and are voting to empower those with criminal motives and intent. And the criminals will prove it to you the very first chance they get.

posted at: 10:20 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 16 2004

63,000 Of Them

Finally, Californians have online access to information on sex offenders.

posted at: 10:55 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 15 2004

And That's An Order

I can understand why the folks who monitor loss of civil liberties might want to ask the police to be cautious with the use of flashlights as weapons. A flashlight can be a pretty powerful thing to hit someone with. We all know that shop owners and other citizens carry heavy flashlights that require 5 C-cells for more than just illumination. What bothers me about the whole thing is that officers are being told to restrict the use of flashlights as weapons to emergency situations. Who decides that? Sometimes one must determine what is, and isn't, an emergency in an instant. And while I would hope for a non-violent resolution to a confrontation, there are some situations where a cop must assess danger and be ready to act in a physical manner quickly and without hesitation. Because one officer used a flashlight in an unfortunate manner is no reason to take away yet one more weapon from our police officers. That's not a logical solution. Or a practical one.

If an officer ever happens to intervene in a situation in which I find my life at risk, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I am a taxpayer. Cops work for taxpayers. Because of that, I don't care what some lawyer, advocate, commission or judge has told you that you may and may not do in my behalf. You don't own your big old honkin' flashlight. I do. My taxes paid for that big old honkin' thing, and I hereby authorize you to use said flashlight in a manner that would save my life and the lives of those around me.

As a taxpaying citizen, I also authorize you to use said flashlight to protect your own valuable self. I want to know that if some drug-crazed punk has cornered you and I together in a convenience store robbery and has somehow taken your gun or baton that you still have some means with which to protect us. Furthermore, if the department replaces your very proper, big old honkin' flashlight with some pink Hello Kitty penlight, and I just happen to be outfitted with a big old honkin' proper flashlight of my own and, in the unlikely event that I have not already begun to make use of said flashlight on the perp myself, I hereby authorize you to take said flashlight out of my possession and use it with whatever force necessary to subdue the person or persons threatening to inflict bodily harm on the rest of us in the emergency situation. Later, if the perp has questions about the situation having been a true emergency and he or she would like to see you in court, I will come and stand by you in court one-hundred percent.

Agencies, courts and legislators continue to prevent citizens and even police officers from being legally armed with at least as much equipment as the car thieves, drug lords and rapists have. Some of us are tired of it. And it's time to say so.

posted at: 15:16 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Get Your Tiny Calendars

No one seems to be handing out those little pocket-size calendars this fall, and I needed some to tuck into music folders. I found a site that will let you print four of them on one page. You'll have to endure a few big ads and other busy extras, but if you persist you can get your free printable yearly calendars from Printfree.com.

posted at: 15:12 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Bloggers As Journalists: But Wait. There's More

Today's Santa Cruz Sentinel published a good editorial discussing what it means to be a journalist. One of their points is that the world of blogging opens a message to a potentially much larger audience than that of a small-town newspaper. I was so happy to see that.

And then I stopped and realized that this very point becomes an especially important one as more and more people read material online. What if everyone becomes a Judith Miller? If a federal judge would order Judith Miller to jail for knowledge she might have after researching her work for a print newspaper, how much more controlling might federal judges become at the thought of mom-and-pop bloggers revealing material to anyone on the planet who might access their blog? In that case, the notion that bloggers are journalists, while desirable to some, might become the very thing that sends federal prosecutors scrambling to interrogate us in regard to our sources and research. If we want the title, we might also have to be ready to stand our ground in the fray.

And if they come for us, maybe you're next, with your cheeky bumper sticker and your angry letter to the editor and the rest of your free speech rights.

posted at: 09:45 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Recovering And Advancing

This whole Pale Male and Lola saga is the stuff that inspires great American stories and folk songs. I think it's rather a good thing that New Yorkers are making a fuss. Ever since 9-11 the city has been doing what it needs to do to keep going. Pale Male and his kind are a symbol of all who survive the tragedies and misfortune that make humans feel out of control in their surroundings. And while the Libertarian part of me wants to remind everyone that the building's owners have a right to maintain their building in their own fashion, there are other parts of me cheering this morning now that the owners have seen the light and have buckled to the pressure from others to invite the birds back to their 12th floor home. Their decision should be cheered, because they realize that, while some things out of our control drain us of power, giving in to a good power beyond our control is a sign of recognition that we are all in this life journey together.

We saw a lot of eagles used in art following 9-11, but now, in full recovery mode, I have a feeling we might be seeing a lot more of enduring red-tailed hawks like Pale Male and Lola.

posted at: 06:26 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 14 2004

Liability Insurance Is Killing Local Economy

It's a good thing Google is helping more libraries go digital. There are a lot of brick-and-mortar libraries struggling to keep the doors open. The combination of falls in local sales tax and higher liablitiy fees is straining many communities.

This month I had to find a company to do some heavy work on a tree in our front yard. We carry homeowner's insurance, but the company we hired to do the work must have their own liability insurance, and the company they lease cranes from must also have liability insurance. And liability insurance has gone skyward in recent months. The businesses who decide to stay in business have to pay insurance premiums that are so high that they finally have to pass costs on to customers. The sluggish state of the economy means that many people will just let things go and not pay to have them done by local businesses. So the local sales tax base is hurt. The business owners are stuck. They can no longer operate without liability insurance and they can no longer afford to pay the premiums for that insurance. It all affects the ability of local government to provide services to the community.

What Americans did for so long with volunteers was gradually replaced with a tax-and-spend system of government. Now we are realizing we can't rely on such a plan anymore. It seems like a perfect time to let volunteers back into the libraries, fire departments and other local civic positions. It might have saved our local budgets several years ago. But now that we've become a sue-happy society, I don't know if we can reverse the trend toward high liability insurance that communities and local businesses must carry. Is it too late to let citizens help run their own local communities? I do believe we're going to find out in the next few years. Meanwhile, the real cost of decades of lawsuits have come home to roost. And they're pooping all over the cities and towns of our country.

posted at: 06:32 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 13 2004


There are quite a few categories listed for the 2004 Best of Blog (BoB) Awards. I'm surprised there is no out-and-out Political category, or Business category. Or Technical/Gadget category. There is, however, a category for the many of you who pore over Adoption/Fertility Blogs. And there is one for Sex Blogs. The Sex category is listed just above Most Inspirational Blogs. I don't know if that means anything special or not. And I'm not going to ask.

posted at: 14:53 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

New Territory For One Blogger

Veteran Silicon Valley journalist and blogger Dan Gillmor is leaving his post at the San Jose Mercury News soon. But he'll be off on a brand new adventure. I can't wait to see what he discovers.

posted at: 09:20 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry


I'm sure the spammer meant it in an entirely different way. I'm sure they wanted me to succumb to their offer with thoughts of tickets to a theme park. But maybe I've watched too many gangster movies in my lifetime. My thoughts went a whole different direction when I saw the subject line on the inbound email:

"Take the Family out with a $500 Advance"

posted at: 06:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Sat, Dec 11 2004

Bounce Not That Ye Be Not Bounced

I hadn't seen the United Church of Christ outreach video with the bouncers when it was first released, so I had no idea what all the fuss was about. Now that I've seen it, I'm still not sure what had TV network execs in such a tizzy. Actually, the bouncers were a nice touch. The real turning away of people from churches usually comes in much more subtle ways, with fake smiles and condescending attitudes. If this spot made anyone uncomfortable, it's probably a good thing, especially if it causes us to ask ourselves if we've ever acted as a more subtle form of bouncer with our glances, our words or our avoidance of other people who we may have thought should look or be different before we were comfortable having them worship with us at church.

posted at: 13:31 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 10 2004

Milk: The Other White Meat

I'm not a true vegetarian, but I eat less meat than the average American. So I do enjoy hunting down recipes and information on such things. You can imagine my surprise when a link to a link to a link led me to an article that claims the Vitamin D-3 added to milk may be coming from pigs. The article was written a few years ago, so I wonder if the sources of Vitamin D-3 remain the same. This seems like a very rude practice to me, since many people practice a lacto-ovo vegetarian lifestyle, and others choose to make their diet kosher. And it doesn't apply only to milk. Apparently the FDA gave the go-ahead to juice producers who wanted to add Vitamin D-3 to fortified juices. Scroll to the bottom of this Minute Maid Premium OJ page and you'll see that they include Vitamin D-3 in that product. I wonder where theirs comes from?

I don't know whether the practice of adding Vitamin D-3 to products is safe or not, but it would at least be decent of manufacturers and processors to inform the public as to the source of the stuff.

posted at: 07:21 | category: /Food | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 09 2004

Pop-Up Windows Worse Than Ever

I already loathe pop-up windows, and knowing this makes me despise them even more. Although considered a legitimate site, one of the worst offenders in the pop-up department is About.com. Their home page is reasonable, but as soon as you get into other areas of the site, you are bombarded with pop-ups, a scrolling navigational bar, banner ads and other animated ads. The monitor screen starts to look like a demonstration of a shooting gallery video game. I have software to prevent the pop-up windows, but then sites like About.com take so long to load while the pop-ups are being blocked that I usually end up frustrated and I leave. With the news that unscrupulous people will now use pop-up windows in combination with phishing, I guess we can look forward to further stress in the browser vulnerablity department. Even though there are tougher penalties for identity theft now, I suppose there are always people who find the risks worth the rewards. That's what keeps most criminals criminal in the first place. But legitimate sites can do a lot to cut down on this sort of thing, if webmasters will plan sites to use something other than pop-up windows to communicate with visitors to the site.

posted at: 07:37 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 08 2004

Giving Grief

They seem to be having a bit of a feud over an alleged community tree in Duncannon, Pennsylvania. And when a shipment of Christmas trees arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii, it harbored an uninvited guest. The offending tree shipment came from Oregon, so I hope Hawaiian residents are in a forgiving mood.

But those stories are the tip of the iceberg, There is also the unfortunate story of a lawsuit in Florida over whether a nativity scene should be added to a menorah and a Christmas tree. A lawsuit? That seems sad to me. But maybe it's a sign of good things to come. With the increasing budget crunch that most communities are facing, it's likely that civic holiday decorations will tend to be more sparse in the next few years. Rather than become embroiled in legal woes, many towns will just stop displays altogether, and will leave that sort of thing to churches, businesses and private citizens. Maybe when that happens, people will forget about fighting to get equal time for their pet symbol and will get back to concentrating on the meaning behind the symbols of the holidays.

posted at: 17:08 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 07 2004

Dressed For Clubbing But Not For Work?

A recent article in USA Today talked about the unfortunate clothing choices of some people in the workplace. It doesn't really surprise me that young people, in particular, have little sense of what should and shouldn't be worn in office settings. Many of them grew up as "mall rats" and were exposed to one trendy thing after another. And they grew up watching music videos. You can learn a lot of things from watching music videos, but a sense of classic style is not one of them.

So where does a person go to learn about what to wear to a job interview, and what to wear once they secure the job? It isn't as though there is some arbitrary list of accepted styles and colors. It's almost as though the people who know what to wear, just know. Even in California, where casual Fridays blended into Mondays and Tuesdays for awhile, there seems to be an unspoken sort of line most know they should not cross in the workplace. So how do you find the line?

I don't think you should have to pay an image consultant to figure out what to wear to work. The first thing you have to do is figure out how much you want a particular position and then decide if you're willing to make the moves it takes to get that position. One of those moves might, or might not, include dressing appropriately for an office. If your sense of personal identity is too fragile to go to work in conservative clothing, maybe the office world isn't for you. You will need to face that hurdle and deal with it honestly. If you decide you're willing to save the extreme fashion for other activities, there are a few basics that will at least get you through an interview. Even a quick search on Google will get you links to quick checklists like this one.

Here's one extra tip. When you go for an interview, you'll probably be catching at least a glimpse of other people at the workplace. Note the general trend of clothing among the workers already there. It's a good hint as to what kind of work clothes you'll probably want to stock your closet with if you get the job.

The truth is that it's a lot easier to recover from over-dressing than to correct a too-casual look. And that goes for most social situations, as well as the workplace.

posted at: 09:22 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 06 2004


If you'll pardon my plugging another of my own pages for a moment, you might find an evening's fun this month. The December issue of Deb's Monthly Review has, in addition to the usual festivals, a listing of holiday lights displays in all 50 states (and then some). I update the listings all through the month, and I can't be everywhere, so if any of you know where to see Christmas lights (or other holiday lights) please let me know and I'll add your picks to the listings.

posted at: 06:39 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

Sun, Dec 05 2004

Should States Have The Last Say on Interstate Wine Sales?

Dan Gillmor zeroed in on an issue coming up for the U.S. Supreme Court. Living in California where there are many wineries, I have known folks who circumvent the whole issue by passing cases of wine through a series of exchanges complicated enough to rival the moves in illegal drug trafficking. I've even seen a few strangers at wineries and tasting rooms hooking up to help one another by having cases of wine shipped to a place where it could be picked up just over a state line. I suspect, with the dawning of the internet and the ease with which one can find like-minded shoppers, that there are groups who do this sort of thing on a regular basis. I doubt anyone will really be able to stop such a cooperative effort, no matter what the wholesalers, or the U.S. Supreme Court, might say or do.

posted at: 10:45 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 03 2004

Could Tailgaiting Lead You To Tailgating?

I keep seeing "tailgating" and "tailgaiting" used interchangeably, and I'm more than a little confused. I thought tailgaiting was crowding someone with your grill up front and tailgating was getting a crowd around your grill in back. Wouldn't a tailgaiting party turn the freeway into a parking lot, while tailgating would mean people turning off the freeway into a parking lot?

Here's a site that will give you tailgaiting types full-blown tailgating envy.

posted at: 10:12 | category: /Playing | link to this entry

The Seven Little Dirty Words And How They Grow

I guess it never entered my mind that some blog hosting services had an eye toward censorship. I had thought about going over and playing with the new MSN Spaces, but now I'm not very enthusiastic about doing that. I'm not the type to see how much filth I can cram into blog posts, but I'd much rather be my own censor and choose my own words than have some software formula filter my thoughts. And for now, I'd much rather support online venues that appreciate that kind of approach. I hope MSN Spaces will be one of those down the line someday.

posted at: 09:14 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 02 2004

Is This What They Mean By Burning Up The Phone Lines?

I've heard this kind of story twice in the last week. It's becoming the norm to hear the SBC name pronounced with some extra hisses. Maybe the advertisers think that's just sizzle they're selling. What I'm hearing is the result of flaring tempers. And I don't know if any corporate ears are burning yet, but I hear customers coupling the company name with the word "hell" a lot lately. I hope someone in the company figures out what to do about all this customer unrest soon, or SBC is liable to get blamed for causing global warming.

posted at: 10:25 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Exercise Could Be Hazardous To Your Health, But Maybe That's Your Choice

It may be proven down the line, but so far, this isn't enough information to warrant not bothering with exercise. Some people get hooked on exercise and enjoy the high feeling. Some people moan and groan the whole time they exercise and have a bad attitude that works against their workout. And some people exercise with the same stressed-out attitude they give to the rest of their lives and feel they have to up their speed and endurance with each workout session or they have failed to measure up.

I would also want to see the numbers when a variety of exercises was included in studies. This particular study mentions a stationary bike, which wouldn't work well for many of us. I ended up with sciatica when I tried to use one. Other activities turned out to be much better for me. And if a person does an hour a day on a stationary bike and then eats potato chips and gummy bears for breakfast every day, the body is going to be strained in the worst kind of way.

What we fuel ourselves with and how we feel about exercise are things that need to be factored in before any study on exercise tells the real tale. It's unfortunate, because some folks will read the study as far as it goes and will use it as an excuse to sit on their rear ends and do no exercise at all. I'm hoping most of us will put a smile on our faces and keep moving while we wait for further data.

posted at: 07:20 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

Eminent Domain Grows Horns And Carries Legal Briefs

I've heard of these kinds of land grabs a lot in recent years. It's been happening throughout the state and elsewhere. The abuse of eminent domain is on the rise with more and more communities declaring lots and even whole communities to be a blight. The winners are A) the cities, who gain a larger tax base, and B) the developers, who have the cities do all the front work for them and then waltz in and make a tidy profit of their own. And the stories of land grabbing are getting more complicated as participants pull in other legal issues in order to make their case.

posted at: 06:49 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 01 2004

Is That A Zero Or A Locomotive Wheel?

The other day at a local store there was a woman paying for her purchases with a personal check. She presented identification and all was fine until the checker tried to scan the face of her check for the bank numbers. The scanner would not read the numbers in spite of repeated attempts on the part of the checker. The woman mentioned that she'd been having trouble lately since she got a new set of checks. She said she had noticed that the scenic design, which was mostly in the center of the old checks, had been printed closer to the edges of the new checks, which is where all the numbers are. She seemed almost positive that the more extensive design must be interfering with scanners' ability to read the numbers. I wonder if anyone else is having similar trouble.

posted at: 12:06 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Inducing Labor: At What Cost?

Are things really this bad in obstetrics care? A lot of people who would never dream of actively seeking to harm their child while it is developing inside the womb may be letting their baby grow to full-term and then placing it at great risk with this type of drug.

posted at: 06:51 | category: /Health and Fitness | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!