Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Forgiving A Killer

Powerful example of being a Christ Follower...in all situations.

It Finally Has Happened

A British university is offering a master's degree in Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but it will cost students more than $6,200.

For $6,275 Birmingham City University in the U.K. will teach students how to blog, set up podcasts, and make the most of the social media Web sites for marketing.

“It’s not for freaks or IT geeks. The tools learned on this course will be accessible to many people,” convenor Jon Hickman told The Daily Mail.

“It will definitely appeal to students looking to go into professions including journalism and PR.”
But student Jamie Waterman, said it would be a waste of the university’s resources.

“It’s of no interest to me whatsoever. Virtually all of the content of this course is so basic it can be self-taught,” he said.
Can someone loan me $6,200? I really need to expand my horizons, go back to school, and get another degree, especially a degree that won't be worth the paper it is printed on!
A degree in Facebook and Twitter? Only the Brits...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Some Bad Headlines and Writing

Over the last few days, I’ve been writing about poorly written or edited newspaper articles. Here’s another one, this one coming from Hart Township, Michigan.

Police say a naked 14-year-old boy taking a walk with a large white poodle assaulted a woman in Oceana County.

Sheriff Lt. Craig Mast told the Ludington Daily News the boy walked away from a behavioral treatment facility Monday. He was strolling unclothed in Hart Township with the dog when he encountered a 53-year-old woman in her yard.

Mast says, “The young naked man approached her with this poodle, and she immediately realized something peculiar.”

They spoke briefly. When the woman took out a cell phone to call for help, the boy pushed her and fled with the phone, which he later broke in half.

Deputies found the boy. He’s charged in juvenile court with strong-arm robbery and assault.

She noticed something peculiar? Wonder what gave it away? A teenage boy walking a poodle?

Just for fun, here’s another one for you to consider. This one was a headline in a California newspaper concerning a drug bust/sting operation that was being carried out in public restrooms in a state park.

The heading for the story was “Police smell crack in restroom, arrest man.” Wouldn’t you hate to have that job, going into a public men’s room and smelling!

Thanks Clay for passing these along!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Say It Didn't Happen!

This week, I’ve been on a roll, sharing things that were put into print that really shouldn’t have been put into print!

Here’s another such story.

The parents of a British teen, who died suddenly two months ago, received a disturbing letter from the girl’s high school saying she needs to improve her attendance or can’t go to the prom, the Manchester Evening News reported.

The letter said Megan Gillan’s attendance was 60.4 percent and the school requires its students to keep a 92 percent attendance record.

“I screamed when I first saw it,” her mother Margaret Gillan told the newspaper. “If they want her to attend that much I’ll take Megan’s remains. It’s disgusting.”

Gillan was found dead January 19 in her bedroom at her parent’s home. The letter was dated March 16.

A school spokesman apologized and told the Manchester Evening News, “that letter should not have gone out,” and blamed it on a “software error.”

Again, do you think? The letter shouldn’t have gone out? Is that the best she could come up with? Well, no. She also blamed software error for the real problem!

Years ago, when I first learned how to use a computer, someone taught me the word: GIGO. Familiar with it? Garbage in. Garbage out.

The computer and software can only output the information that a HUMAN has entered!

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Is This Even Possible?

Yesterday, I wrote about dumb things reporters say and editors approve. Well, there’s not a lock on stupidity to just editors and reporters. Here’s a case in point.

New Zealand police say they have charged the Samoan mother of a girl born during an international flight for abandoning her baby on the plane. [That’s terrible, really is.]

Detective inspector Mark Gutry says the unnamed Samoan woman faces up to seven years in prison for abandonment under charges laid Wednesday, and the same term for allegedly failing to inform air officials her pregnancy was so advanced. [Okay, this woman has some serious issues, obviously, and deserves either jail time or mental health treatment—one or the other, or both.]

Cleaners found the baby in a toilet garbage bin on a Pacific Blue flight from Samoa to Auckland. [Did no one hear her giving birth? Really? Have you ever sat within 5 rows of an airplane restroom? You hear everything that goes on in there! How did no one hear this!]

The infant was located lying amid bloodied paper towels after the woman had left the airplane. [This breaks my heart. How about yours?]

But, here’s the really, really, really, did I say really, stupid part. Again, word-for-word what is reported and happened: The child was later reunited with its mother, but welfare officials are still deciding whether the mother should get long-term custody.

Reunited with its mother! Are you kidding me? She gave birth on an airplane. In an airplane's restroom! She didn’t tell anyone. Left the child for dead in a garbage bin. Now, police have returned the child to her! And, they are having to decide whether or not she should have long-term custody of the child? What’s to decide? How long before she abandons the child again? Or, this time, worse!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Be On the Lookout!

As an editor, I am always amazed at some of the things that get printed. I mean, think about it. Some copy editor, editor, maybe even managing editor has read it and said, “That’s okay to print!”

The following story is a good case in point.

The newspaper said that Dallas authorities are searching for a man who they say ran over a woman with his car before abducting his estranged wife as she was trying to leave him.

After the couple had a fight Tuesday, 25-year-old Misty Rose Scott contacted a friend about helping her leave her husband, Bobby Shayne Scott.

When her friend, 38-year-old Tracy Arauju, came to pick her up, Bobby Scott, 26, rammed the car with his minivan and ran over Arauju after she got out to inspect the damage. She was rushed to Baylor Hospital where she is in critical condition.

A witness told cops that Bobby Scott then jumped into Arauju’s car and drove off with his wife still inside.

Now, here’s the sentence that gets me. Actual word-for-word what was printed: Police believe that Misty Scott’s life could be in danger.

Do you think? Wonder how long it too some reporter to write that sentence? And what possessed the editor to sign off on it! Of course her life is in danger. He had a fight with his wife, ran into her friend's car, ran over her friend, and kidnapped his wife. Her life could be in danger?

Come on reporters and editors, get it right! Why not turn your attention to something else, like the economy. We know you'll report that correctly!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What Are We Thinking!

I'll admit it up front. You either love Glenn Beck or you hate him. I tend to do a little of both, depending on what he's saying. And, knowing that he got his start at CNN and now he is at FoxNews, again, you'll either think he is the worse liberal on the face of the earth or too conservative for God to accept.

But, what this video. It is troubling, to say the least!

Ever Heard of Conficker?

The Conficker Internet worm could strike at infected computers around the world on April 1, a security expert warned Monday. Conficker is a sophisticated piece of malicious computer software, or malware, that installs itself on a Windows PC’s hard drive via specially written Web pages. It then conceals itself on a computer.

Graham Cluley of the British security firm Sophos confirmed that Conficker is programmed “to hunt for new instructions on April 1.” However, he added, “This does not mean that anything is going to happen, or that the worm is actually going to do anything. Simply, it is scheduled to hunt a wider range of Web sites for instructions on that date.”

One strange thing about Conficker is that no one yet has any idea what it is programmed to do.

In February, Cluley told The Times: “It’s as if someone is assembling an army of computers around the world, but hasn’t yet decided where to point them.”

A worst-case scenario for April 1 would be for all the world’s millions of infected computers to receive simultaneous instructions to attack, or to flood the Internet with spam email.

So, is your antivirus software up to date? How about your adware software? Okay, I don’t really want to hear from all of you Mac users telling me how much better your system is and how safe it is. I’ve heard that song before, all 12 verses of it!

I just wonder, who has this much time to write hacking software that will attack other computers? Why spend your life doing that? It’s beyond me.

And yes Rick, before you comment, we’ll go ahead and say, “It’s the Democrats’ fault!”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What Pets Write in Their Diaries

Excerpts from a Dog’s Diary…

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 PM - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat’s Daily Diary...

Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects.

They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow—but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released—and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now…

Monday, March 23, 2009

Putting America First--Not

It’s a cold evening in the nation’s capital, but the guests at a local cocktail party hardly feel the winter chill. Amid the low symphony of glasses clinking and a dull hum of chatter, men and women mill about, likely dining on the finest finger foods that catering has to offer.

It’s Wednesday night at the White House, and the era of the cocktail party has returned. Only eight weeks into the Obama administration, the president and first lady have already hosted their fair share of social events. Indeed, White House social secretary Desiree Rogers has announced that the Obama administration plans to make Wednesday night social events a tradition.

“It’s not so much a cocktail party necessarily,” Katie McCormick Lelyveld, press secretary to first lady Michelle Obama, told FOXNews.com. “It’s a gathering that takes on the shape of the week’s agenda. The driving force is to reserve time Wednesday evenings to have at hand to use for whatever is at the top of the list of priorities that week.”

The announcement seemed to be a departure from the past several years, as the parties had all but fallen out of fashion since the Reagan era. President George W. Bush was rumored to dislike cocktail parties, and had given up drinking years before he was sworn in. As former press secretary Dee Dee Myers told Politico.com, the Clintons did not have a wide circle of friends in Washington and were “not as social” the Obamas have shown themselves to be. The Reagans reportedly cultivated relationships with Washington society and Hollywood alike, while Carter instead enjoyed a more quiet social life.

But the Obamas, known to be active in their community, have already hosted several events that have taken on different forms: from a bipartisan meeting of Democrats and Republicans before voting on the stimulus bill, to a concert in honor of Obama’s favorite musician, Stevie Wonder, to a Super Bowl party (on a Sunday, of course), to a black history event hosted by the first lady.

But not everyone is lifting a glass to toast the host and hostess.

The political watchdog group Freedom Watch has sought information from the federal government as to how much taxpayer money is being used for the events.

Well. What should I say? Nothing like mixing politics and booze to turn the economy around!

Who would have thought that alcoholics having “high-level” discussions would be better for America than a good ole fashion Wednesday night prayer meeting?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jailhouse Shuffle

Federal authorities in western Michigan say Apple Inc. was the victim of a real shuffle.

Prosecutors filed fraud and money laundering charges against a 23-year-old Kalamazoo-area man who is accused of acquiring more than 9,000 iPod Shuffle music players.

They say Nicholas Woodhams, through trial and error, entered serial numbers into Apple’s Web site to get replacements for supposedly defective iPods. The government says he turned around and sold thousands of newly acquired Shuffles for $49 each.

Woodhams repaired iPods and was aware of Apple’s warranty program.

His lawyer, Randall Levine, said Thursday Woodhams is cooperating and “negotiating a resolution” with prosecutors. A lawsuit filed last year by Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple is pending.

I’ve got a thought. Prosecutors shouldn’t be negotiating a resolution, they should be making sure their case is rock solid and be finding a jail cell just for him. Maybe they should be finding him prison jumpsuits in various colors, much like iPods come in.

That would be good justice.

Friday, March 20, 2009

We Grow Them Bigger in Alabama

In Texas, they brag about doing everything bigger and better.

Well, I recently found that Alabama does some things bigger and better. Not too far from where I live is a chicken farm. They've been experimenting with hormones and chemicals to make the chickens bigger.

I'd say that accomplished that. What do you think? I'm excited about getting the leg on my plate.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our Family

Our family went to the zoo this week. It is Spring Break in Alabama and we needed an outdoor outing.

From right to left in the picture: Evan, Tonya, and me--the old goat!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Resign or Die!

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, a Republican, has suggested that AIG executives should accept responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.

The Republican lawmaker’s harsh comments came during an interview with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, radio station WMT. They echo remarks he has made in the past about corporate executives and public apologies, but went further in suggesting suicide.

“I suggest, you know, obviously, maybe they ought to be removed,” Grassley said. “But I would suggest the first thing that would make me feel a little bit better toward them if they’d follow the Japanese example and come before the American people and take that deep bow and say, I’m sorry, and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide. And in the case of the Japanese, they usually commit suicide before they make any apology.”

Japanese executives often take responsibility for scandals within their companies by issuing public apologies on camera and stepping down. It is rare, however, that business executives have gone so far as to take their lives. In feudal Japan, ritual suicide was considered an honorable death under the samurai warrior ethic.

Grassley spokesman Casey Mills said the senator isn’t calling for AIG executives to kill themselves, but said those who accept tax dollars and spend them on travel and bonuses do so irresponsibly.

What do you think? Has the Gentleman from Iowa gone too far? Or, should some merit be given to what he has said? Do you think an apology is forthcoming from AIG? Or, do you think the Senator will be the first to offer an apology?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh Deer! Say It Ain't So!

A man who bolted antlers to the head of a dead doe and posed for a photograph with the deer was fined $400 and jailed for game violations.

Marcel Fournier, 19, shot the deer the evening of November 22 and used lag bolts and epoxy to attach a 10-point rack, officials said. He then checked in the kill as lawful game at Barnie’s Market.

It’s illegal to kill an antlerless deer, and it's also illegal to hunt at night.

The Concord resident admitted to the killing and led a game warden to the deer’s remains after an anonymous caller alerted authorities. Fournier said he had “quite a time” drilling and fastening the antlers, authorities said.

Game warden David Gregory said the antlers didn’t look or feel right.

“When you grabbed them, you’d feel movement,” he said.

Col. David LeCours, chief warden of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the size of the antlers relative to the size of the deer seemed off. “Something wasn’t natural about them, in addition to the fact that they weren't natural,” he said.

Fournier was sentenced to 10 days in jail February 18 for taking a deer in a closed season. He won’t qualify for a state hunting, fishing or trapping license for at least three years.

First of all, let me say how thankful I am that this story did not come out of Alabama! It could have. I was afraid it did when I saw the headline. But, no, thankfully, the story comes out of Vermont!

Yes, Yankees can be rednecks and idiots as well as southerners and Alabamians.

I do find his punishment a waste of time, though. Do you think that a young man who would hunt at night, out of season, and then bolt antlers on a dead doe would care that they have taken his hunting license away from him for at least three years? I don’t think he’ll be very concerned about that punishment, nor will someone like him follow the law anyway.

People can do the dumbest things, can’t we?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Latest Lessons Learned

Today, I begin my second week of furlough from work. Another week of not working. No emails from coworkers. No reading. No writing. No early mornings. No late nights. And, no pay.

The good news is that this week is Spring Break for schools in Alabama. So, Tonya is off work. She is home. Evan is home with us. At least I won't be left to my own devices this week. Or in charge of building anything.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been learning many new lessons. I shared some of those with you during my last furlough. I thought I'd pass along a couple of more new lessons I've discovered in recent days.

1. Even though our country, and maybe world, is in a major recession right now, have you noticed the number of fast food commericals playing on TV? Every other commerical is for Arby's, McDonalds, Hardees, etc. I guess people are still eating out and these companies are going after their business.

2. When you purchase a new computer, be prepared for NO company to be willing to help you with setup problems! Unless you pay a fee. A huge fee. As in $130 fee. We finally purchased a new laptop. Trying to move programs, data, and files from one computer to the other is next to impossible. And, getting customer service support is impossible! Maybe I should send them a definition of what customer service used to be! From companies that actually care!

3. In reference to number two, be prepared for Dell to say that it's Microsoft's problem. Be prepared for Microsoft to say that it is their software distributor's fault. Be prepared for the distributor to say that Microsoft has no idea what they are talking about. And, be prepared to be on the phone for hours trying to get answers that should be given in five minutes. And, for free.

4. Oh, one more lesson about buying a computer. Don't expect Vista and XP to talk to each other. They don't! Everybody knows it. Well, not everybody. I didn't know that before I finally figured out that Vista and XP (made by the same company) do not communicate well. Or, should I say don't communicate at all! That may be a slight stretch, but not much!

5. While I know I probably shouldn't be watching 24, on Fox on Monday nights, I'm once again hooked on the show! Jack Bauer may just need to save us from the economic situation we are in! I'd trust words of wisdom from him right now.

6. When your child is sick, you'd give almost anything for it to be you who was sick and not him.

7. Dallas, Texas, is a far bigger place than I remember. I had to take a two-day trip there last Thursday and Friday. Bigger. Colder. Think I'll stick with Alabama.

8. So many bloggers seem to be moving on from blogging. Have you noticed? Or, am I the only one to notice? Not as many posts. Not as many conversations going on. Not as much networking. Maybe everyone is dealing with lessons learned. Struggling with the economy. Maybe the blogsphere isn't as needed as we thought. Maybe we are too busy for it. Maybe hours in the day are shorter than ever before.

9. Work is vital. Work pays the bills. But, work isn't all that defines a person. If work is all there is, then what do you do when work is taken from you? What do you do when your thoughts about drawing a paycheck changes? What happens when you retire? Become disabled? Quit? Have thoughts of quitting?

10. Truthfully, I haven't learned a 1oth lesson yet. But, don't most lists have 10 items, or at least an even number of things? Well, no 10th truth today, maybe another day. Or, maybe you'd like to share a word of wisdom as we begin this new week. I'd love to hear it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Things I Would Never Do!

Came across a series of pictures like these on Facebook. I promise, I would never do this, nor have I been tempted to do so.

But, still, there is something funny about the drawing.

Go ahead. Tell me how wrong it is!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Does It Mean?

Today is your day to provide the caption. Look at the picture again, if you dare. What caption would you like to give to it?

As you think, here's what the picture really is. This model is wearing a creation by Indian fashion designer Manish Arora for his Fall-Winter 2009-2010 ready-to-wear collection, in Paris, Monday, March 9, 2009.

You did get that? Right? Ready-to-wear collection? Are you kidding me?

Ladies, if you don’t mind, please tell me something. Where is this outfit ready for wear? Church? The mall? To visit your mother-in-law? A funeral service?

Feel free to provide a caption for the photo and to comment about where this outfit could be worn.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Even Big Bird Isn't Exempt!

Say it ain’t so Big Bird. Too many cookies for Cookie Monster? Did the Count count incorrectly? Something is amiss on Sesame Street. Or, more accurately, the crisis on Wall Street is plaguing Sesame Street.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of “Sesame Street” and other kids’ programs, is cutting about one-fifth of its work force because of the economic downturn.

The New York-based company said Wednesday that it’s eliminating 67 of 355 staff positions.
Declaring it is “not immune to the unprecedented challenges of today’s economic environment,” the company pronounced a need “to operate with fewer resources in order to achieve our strategic priorities.”

Best known as the home of such Muppet characters as Big Bird and Elmo, Sesame Workshop was founded in 1968 as Children’s Television Workshop, then unveiled the groundbreaking “Sesame Street” as a literacy-building initiative a year later. That show, which remains a worldwide hit, was the first step toward a media empire that encompasses television, books, toys and online programing.

Among the company’s early TV efforts is “The Electric Company,” which aired during the 1970s and was revived with new episodes on PBS in January.

Sesame Workshop gets revenue from product licensing and the sale of its programs to PBS and syndication. The company is also funded by government agencies, foundations and corporations.
Total revenue was $145 million in 2008, with operating expenses totaling $141 million, according to the company's Web site.

Well, not good news for children around the country as cutbacks are made, I suppose. But, should Sesame Street be any more exempt than my street? I guess not.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When Does A Rule Go to Far?

A Muslim woman was forced to do her banking in the back room of the institution because the head scarf she was wearing violated the company’s “no hats, hoods or sunglasses” policy, The Washington Post reported.

The 54-year-old Maryland woman was standing in line a few weeks ago waiting to deposit a check when an employee asked her to go to the back room, citing the new policy. The incident happened again last weekend, but this time, Kenza Shelley refused.

“I want to be served like everyone else,” Shelley told the employees. “There was so many people there, and I was embarrassed.”

The new policy started in December and was implemented to prevent armed robberies and identity theft, Tom Lyons, senior vice president for security at Navy Federal, told the Post.

“We want to be able to clearly identify who you are and make sure the transaction is safe,” Lyons said. “This is a policy that applies to everybody in the branch. She wasn’t singled out. ... We tried to accommodate her and help her with her transaction and move on.”

But, some say the policy is not acceptable and must be modified for religious reason.

“This may be the tip of the iceberg,” Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the Post. “There’s got to be a way to work it out so that this security concern does not lead to violations of constitutional rights.”

What do you think? The bank my wife and I use has the same policy. On my days off, if I have to go to the bank, I’m probably going to have a baseball cap on—after all, I am bald and the hat protects my head from getting sunburned. Should I refuse to remove my cap? Should I defy the rules and leave my sunglasses on?

I don’t have religious reasons to wear my hat. I wear the cap to protect my head. But, let’s think about this for a minute. Would an Amish man have an objection to the rule? Would he want to remove his hat if he entered a bank? Would he protest and make a scene? Or would he simply obey the rule and move on?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Does Beatdown Really Mean?

By the time you read this blog post, former NBA star Charles Barkley will have completed serving a three-day sentence on a drunken driving charge.

Maricopa County sheriff’s Deputy Lindsey Smith says Barkley reported to Tent City on Saturday morning.

The 45-year-old basketball great pleaded guilty last month to two misdemeanor DUI charges stemming from his December 31 arrest shortly after leaving a Scottsdale nightclub and failing a field sobriety test.

Barkley said last month that he made a mistake and just has “to take the beatdown.”

While I appreciate Mr. Barkley’s admitting his mistake and pleading guilty—if he did make a mistake and was guilty. That’s commendable. However, what’s the “beatdown” that you are talking about? Were you afraid of getting “beaten down” in prison? Were you afraid of the “beatdown” you were going to get in the media? From your family? Friends? What’s the beatdown you had in mind, Mr. Barkley?

From what I understand, the former NBA star has just re-signed a TV deal to be a basketball analysis. Doesn’t sound like a beatdown to me. I still see where you are traveling and playing golf across the country. Again, no beatdown there. I can only assume you are still gambling with sums of money that I’ll never make in my entire lifetime. Okay, I’ll give you this one—you may get beatdown here, seeing how much money you’ve actually lost over the last year or so at the tables or with cards or even pitching pennies in a back alley, whatever your source of “fun” is.

But, come on Mr. Barkley. There’s no beatdown here. Serve your time. Then, get back to your golf and gambling. But, please, don’t come back to Alabama to run for governor as you are always threatening to do, I mean, promising to do. I’m afraid that even your credentials from Auburn University won’t stop you from truly getting that beatdown that you mention here. The people of Alabama won’t be voting for you. Not in 2010 or 2014 or any time after that.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Things That Go 'Bump' in the Night

When a dark intruder smashed through his bedroom window and repeatedly bounced on his bed, Beat Ettlin was initially relieved to discover it was a kangaroo. “My initial thought when I was half awake was: it’s a lunatic ninja coming through the window,” the 42-year-old told The Associated Press. “It seems about as likely as a kangaroo breaking in.”

But his relief was short-lived. Moments later, he heard his 10-year-old son Leighton Beman scream from bed: “There’s a ‘roo in my room!”

“I thought: This can be really dangerous for the whole family now,” Ettlin said.

The extraordinary ordeal for the family of four began at 2 a.m. Sunday in their house in the upmarket Canberra suburb of Garran. Ettlin, a chef originally from the Swiss city of Stans, wrestled the thrashing and bleeding 90 pound marsupial out the front door.

“I had just my Bonds undies on. I felt vulnerable,” he said, referring to a popular Australian underwear brand.

The kangaroo, which Ettlin said was around his height, 5 foot 9 inches, left a trail of blood through the house and claw gouges in the wooden frame of his bed. Ettlin, who was left wearing just his shredded underpants and with scratch marks on his leg and buttocks, described himself as “lucky.”

The kangaroo vanished into a nearby forest from where it likely came. The family reported the intrusion to police and to wildlife authorities. The animal hopped a fence to reach the family’s backyard. The family suspects it felt trapped and tried to escape the yard through the bedroom window which is about 5 feet above the ground. It was likely cut by the broken glass.

Kangaroos rarely harm humans, but when they do, it is usually because they feel cornered. They have been known to disembowel people with the claws of their powerful hind legs. Although it had been a dangerous and harrowing experience, Ettlin’s wife could see a funny side to the family’s unusual predicament. “I think he’s a hero: a hero in Bonds undies,” Verity Beman, 39, said of her husband.

You know, when I hear a noise in the middle of the night, my first reaction is always, “Well, it must be a ninja!” Yeah right!

Something doesn’t seem quite right about this story. Sounds more like a commercial for Bonds undies to me. Do you think that either he or his wife could have referred to that particular band if they had tried? Maybe they should have pulled their son into the interview and let him mention Bonds. That surely would get them an endorsement deal!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Weekends Are Made for Pancakes

The other weekend, I made pancakes for Tonya and Evan. While I think Tonya enjoyed them, her reaction paled in comparison to Evan's reaction!

Let's just say, Evan, pancakes, and blueberries were just made for each other!

I wish I could return to the day where I could enjoy my food like this!

Sadly, I think those days are over for me!

But, thankfully, not for Evan!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thou Shall Not Text

Chrch sez stop txtn 4 lent.

Or, put another way, the Italian branch of the Roman Catholic Church wants its followers to forswear text messaging, social-networking Web sites, and computer games in the run-up to Easter.

While many Italians traditionally give up fatty foods or, in extremis, alcohol, the appeal to go without some of the trappings of the modern world, including Facebook, iPhones, and computer games, on Fridays—and on other days if possible—is unprecedented.

It appears to stem partly from Pope Benedict XVI’s recent warning to the young not to substitute “virtual friendship” for real human relationships.

The Pontiff warned on his YouTube site in January that “obsessive” use of mobile phones or computers “may isolate individuals from real social interaction while also disrupting the patterns of rest, silence and reflection that are necessary for healthy human development.”

Pope Benedict also has personal experience of the distractions of obsessive texting. President Sarkozy of France, a renowned technophile, came in for withering criticism for checking his mobile phone for text messages during a personal audience with the Pontiff.

The “stop texting for Lent” campaign began in the dioceses of Modena, Bari ,and Pesaro but has now spread to other parts of Italy.

Okay readers, what do you think? Has the Catholic church gone too far? Or, on the other hand, do you think this is a good idea?

Where is the strangest place you’ve seen people texting? Do people text sitting next to you in church? What about while watching a movie? Eating dinner? Where’s the strangest place you’ve texted? Care to share?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Smile When You Say Wally World

Those wacky Massachusetts’ people! What will they do next to get in the news?

It seems that a customer shopping at a Falmouth (quite the appropriate city name for this story) WalMart for a wallet claims he found something that definitely didn’t fit the bill: human teeth.

Police say the man found 10 human teeth Saturday when he unzipped a compartment in the wallet. One tooth had a filling.

The customer turned the wallet and the teeth over to employees at the Falmouth store but left without giving his name. (I wonder if they checked his smile on the way out the door. Any teeth missing?)

Police investigating the incident told The Cape Cod Times that the teeth belong to an adult, but since there was no blood or gum tissue on the teeth, they would be unable to perform DNA tests.

A Walmart spokeswoman said the company believes it was an “isolated incident,” but will investigate. (I would hope so!)

So, wonder who’s missing 10 teeth. Or, could this be a case where the “tooth fairy” was out shopping after a busy night, stopped into the nearby WalMart to pick up a wallet, laid down her night’s collection, and forgot them? Or, is there a serial tooth stealer in Falmouth? Or, better yet, is this another way for the local union to discredit WalMart, as they’ve been known to do.

I’ll be watching the news for updates. This is almost as good as the found feet in Washington State! Almost!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Snow Business is Big Business!

Okay, what took place in Birmingham on Sunday isn't a BIG deal. At least for Bill in Indiana or Bernard and Karma in the Carolinas. But, for HERE, it is a huge!

Here are a few pictures from our 3-5 inch "snow" event.

Taken from my front door.

Fenced in backyard.

Our swing...

Our weeping willow, that I'm hoping didn't die in the cold and snow! It was already covered in leaves.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Rest of the Story

Paul Harvey, the news commentator and talk-radio pioneer whose staccato style made him one of the nation’s most familiar voices, died Saturday in Arizona, according to ABC Radio Networks. He was 90.

Harvey died surrounded by family at a hospital in Phoenix, where he had a winter home, said Louis Adams, a spokesman for ABC Radio Networks, where Harvey worked for more than 50 years. No cause of death was immediately available.

Harvey had been forced off the air for several months in 2001 because of a virus that weakened a vocal cord. But he returned to work in Chicago and was still active as he passed his 90th birthday. His death comes less than a year after that of his wife and longtime producer, Lynne. “My father and mother created from thin air what one day became radio and television news,” Paul Harvey Jr. said in a statement. “So in the past year, an industry has lost its godparents and today millions have lost a friend.”

Known for his resonant voice and trademark delivery of “The Rest of the Story,” Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his “News and Comment” for ABC Radio Networks. He became a heartland icon, delivering news and commentary with a distinctive Midwestern flavor. “Stand by for news!” he told his listeners. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as “skyjacker,” “Reaganomics,” and “guesstimate.”

Former President George W. Bush remembered Harvey as a “friendly and familiar voice in the lives of millions of Americans. His commentary entertained, enlightened, and informed,” Bush said in a statement. “Laura and I are pleased to have known this fine man, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Harvey composed his twice-daily news commentaries from a downtown Chicago office near Lake Michigan. Rising at 3:30 each morning, he ate a bowl of oatmeal, then combed the news wires and spoke with editors across the country in search of succinct tales of American life for his program. At the peak of his career, Harvey reached more than 24 million listeners on more than 1,200 radio stations and charged $30,000 to give a speech. His syndicated column was carried by 300 newspapers.

His fans identified with his plainspoken political commentary, but critics called him an out-of-touch conservative. He was an early supporter of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy and a longtime backer of the Vietnam War.

Perhaps Harvey's most famous broadcast came in 1970, when he abandoned that stance, announcing his opposition to President Nixon's expansion of the war and urging him to get out completely. “Mr. President, I love you ... but you’re wrong,” Harvey said, shocking his faithful listeners and drawing a barrage of letters and phone calls, including one from the White House.
In 1976, Harvey began broadcasting his anecdotal descriptions of the lives of famous people. “The Rest of the Story” started chronologically, with the person’s identity revealed at the end. The stories were an attempt to capture “the heartbeats behind the headlines.” Much of the research and writing was done by his son, Paul Jr.

Harvey was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Okla. His father, a police officer, was killed when he was a toddler. A high school teacher took note of his distinctive voice and launched him on a broadcast career. While working at St. Louis radio station KXOK, he met Washington University graduate student Lynne Cooper. He proposed on their first date (she said “no”) and always called her “Angel.” They were married in 1940 and had a son, Paul Jr. They worked closely together on his shows, and he often credited his success to her influence. She was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1997, seven years after her husband was. She died in May 2008.

And now, you know the rest of the story, Paul Harvey’s story, that is. Rest in peace Mr. Harvey!

Monday, March 2, 2009

I See Clearly Now!

After reading one of my recent blogs, a co-worker of mine (a graphic designer) decided to have a little fun, both with my blog post and my picture. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately) the designer has access to pictures of me! So, this person had a little fun.

What do you think? Not a bad look, if I say so myself!

Okay, gang, let the comments fly!

To Cuss or Not to Cuss, That is the Question

Pay no attention to that eerie silence in the nation’s most populous county this week; it will simply be the sound of 10 million people not cussing.

At least that’s the result McKay Hatch is hoping for once his campaign to clear the air is recognized by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday, the board is scheduled to issue a proclamation by Supervisor Michael Antonovich making the first week in March No Cussing Week.

That would mean no blue language from the Mojave desert, where it gets hot as $&# in the summer, to the Pacific Ocean, where on a winter’s day it can get colder and nastier than %$#!

Not that 15-year-old Hatch expects complete compliance. When his No Cussing Club meets at South Pasadena High School on Wednesdays it’s not unusual for a nonmember to throw open the door and fire off a torrent of four-letter words. He’s also been the target of organized harassment by pro-cussers.

And Antonovich's county motion carries no penalties. “But it’s a good reminder for all of us, not just young people but everybody, to be respectful to one another and watch the words we use,” said the supervisor’s spokesman, Tony Bell.

The county isn’t the first entity to try to put the lid on swearing. Hatch’s hometown of South Pasadena declared itself a cuss-free zone for a week last March, and two years ago a high school in Canada threatened to suspend repeat cussers. Hatch has lofty goals. “Next year I want to try to get California to have a cuss-free week. And then, who knows, maybe worldwide,” said the 10th grader, who believes if people treat each other with more civility they can better work together to solve bigger problems.

He said his campaign began to form about the time he hit seventh grade when he noticed his friends beginning to swear, something his family didn’t allow. He formed the No Cussing Club and invited others to join. Soon the group had a Web site, bright orange T-shirts, a hip hop theme song and inquiries from all over from people interested in joining. He estimates 20,000 people have formed similar clubs.

What do you think? Will a Cuss-Free Week work around your office? Home? With your friends?