static, interference, intervention, intervene, get involved so as to alter or hinder an action, white noise, snow, fuzz, fuzzy, Fuzzy, ME

Monday, January 31, 2005

Recent News

The election in Iraq happened yesterday. The expatriate vote was reported to be about 95% of those that registered. While this sounds amazing, its also highly misleading. It was estimated that only about 10-20% of those expatriates that were eligible to vote actually voted. The in-country vote was reported to be about 60% although the Sunni vote was much less. I also don't know what this 60% means. I am not sure if it means 60% of those that registered or 60% of those that were eligible. While this looks great and it will be sold as a great thing, the voters were voting for lists. The candidates on the lists were pre-approved by Bremer and Negroponte and they were largely invisible to the voters. The people might as well have voted for a random number. The lists are supposed to come together to make an interim congress that will write a new constitution. This is a farce that means nothing and if something does happen, it will be a three way civil war.

Mt St. Helens is again (or still) erupting. It actually has been erupting since October, but there was an explosion on January 18th and it has been much more active since then. Recent earthquakes and explosions have resulted in the loss of a spider and a camera. The lava dome inside the crater has been growing rapidly and is about half the size of the lava dome that was inside the crater prior to the explsion in 1980. Another major eruption of the power of the 1980 event is not expected but eruptions happen over a period of months and things could change.
Movie: To Die For (3 1/2 stars)
Music: Time - Tom Waits
Book: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Iraq: January - 103 Americans, 10 Brits
Total - 1436 Americans, 86 Brits, 1607 Coalition Troops

Saturday, January 29, 2005


I volunteered this morning for the Jane Addams Hull House Association. We painted a preschool at Orr High School. It was a lot of fun although a lot of work. They did feed us though. I did see a few people that I know and like and met a few new people that I got along pretty well with. There were probably close to twenty people there but I worked mostly with two people. A statistician named Steve who I get along pretty well with and a very cute girl by the name of Eileen who I had just met. We worked well together and we discovered that we had several things in common. Particularly likes in music, although I was familiar with the St. Louis area where she is from. It would be nice to see her again at a future event.

I watched A Mighty Wind tonight. I have to say two things, the performances of the actors as musicians was much better than the movie itself, and Christopher Guest continues to make the same movie. Spinal Tap was a work of genius, Waiting for Guffman, was pretty good, Best of Show was a little weak, and A Mighty Wind was just not funny. The extra features on the DVD were much better than the movie itself.

Movie: A Mighty Wind
Music: Big Day Coming - Yo La Tengo
Book: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Iraq: January - 96
Total - 1429

Friday, January 28, 2005

Lighter Stuff

My posts for the last few days have been very negative. I talked about Iraq and the fact that our government is using propaganda on its own people to sell their policies. I could have also talked about Pres. Bush trying to sell us on privatizing Social Security or taking the security out of social security, Condie Rice being confirmed as Secretary of State, or Alberto Gonzales getting further in his journey as Attorney General. These are all pretty negative stories and I don't feel like being negative tonight. Having said that, I will address one political story that I actually think is pretty good news and one story that is just funny. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith has announced his resignation from the Department of Defense. Neocon Feith was instrumental to the run up to the Iraq war, helped setup the Office of Special Plans within the Pentagon, and has been implicated in the leak of classified documents to Israel. While Israel is an "ally", any information that they get should be through proper channels. His position has long been seen to support Israel's extreme right wing which wants nothing to do with a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians. He has said that he is leaving to spend time with his family but it appears that the people in charge have finally gotten a little sense and are pushing him out.

And now... for the story of the day... A massive cow manure pile has been burning for three months. The pile, at a Nebraska feed lot (where cattle are sent to be fattened up before slaughter) measures 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and about 30 feet high and weighs about 2000 tons. Putting the fire out by spraying water on it is not an option because of concerns about runoff into local water sources. Spreading out the pile has also not worked because it simply spreads the fire. It is thought that the heat from the decomposing manure caused the pile to spontaneously combust. And now there is a giant pile of burning manure that is impossible to extinguish.

Music: Providence - Godspeed, You Black Emperor!
Book: Life of Pi by Yann Martell
Iraq: January - 92 Americans, 1 Kazakhstani, 8 Ukranians, 1 Italian
Total - 1425 Americans, 1586 Coalition troops, too many to count Iraqis

Thursday, January 27, 2005


President Bush today told his cabinet members that paying columnists to promote their policies is not to be done anymore. I would think that this would go without saying. Government payment of the media to promote policies seems to be a conflict of interest on the part of the reporter and propaganda on the part of the government. As I said, this idea should go without saying but apparently it doesn't because the Department of Education paid conservative columnist Armstrong Williams $241,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind Act. He claims that he believes in the idea so he wasn't spouting propaganda. Whether he believed in the act or not, it was a conflict of interest, reporters shouldn't be in bed with government. This story came out about a month ago and the question was asked whether other columnists were paid to promote government policies. It came out a couple of days ago that another conservative columnist, Maggie Gallagher, was paid $21,500 by the Health and Human Services Administration to promote Bush's $300 Million Marriage Initiative. Two reporters have been found to have received payment from the government in a month. These are just two that have been caught. How many more are there? Was Robert Novak paid to out Valerie Plame as a CIA operative? I don't pay attention to many conservative columnists so I don't know the names of any others but after the first two, I have to wonder how many have the integrity to stay out of the government's pocket.

Music: Breeders - Juliana Hatfield
Book: Paradoxes From A to Z by Michael Clark
Iraq: January - 87
Total - 1420

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I was going to comment today on Anheuser Busch's new beer soda "B to the E" the new beer with guarana, ginseng, and caffeine but after what happened in Iraq today, it's a really weak story. Today was the worst day in the history of the war. 37 people were killed today led by 31 who were killed in a helicopter crash in western Iraq. The crash doesn't appear to be combat related but it doesn't matter because the marines (and 1 hospital corpsman) are still dead. Accidents happen every day and people die before their apparent time but if we hadn't been in Iraq, these guys wouldn't have run into a dust storm in the desert. The soldiers were doing something that they believed in and they died heroes. I am sure however that their families would have probably preferred that their sons/fathers/husbands had decided to be cowards today even if it would have meant NJP or even court martial, they still would have been alive.

Music: Top of the Hill - Tom Waits
Book: Paradoxes From A to Z by Michael Clark
Iraq: January - 85
Total - 1418

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Academy Awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences otherwise known as the Oscars named the nominations for this year and The Aviator picked up top honors with 11 nominations including best picture, best director, best actor, best supporting actor, and best supporting actress. Clint Eastwood's picture about a female boxer, Million Dollar Baby and the story about the writer of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, Finding Neverland each received seven nominations. Comedic actor Jamie Foxx has really come into his own this year. He was nominated for (and is the odds on favorite to win) best actor for his dead on portrayal of Ray Charles in the movie, Ray. He was also nominated as best supporting actor for his role in Collateral. The indie flick Sideways, the winner of two Golden Globes for best musical or comedy and for best screenplay, has been nominated for five academy awards including best picture, best director, and best supporting actor and actress. If I had any choice in the matter, the winners of the big ones would be: Million Dollar Baby for Best Picture, Martin Scorsese (The Aviator) for Best Director, Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) for Best Actor, Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) for Best Actress, Jamie Foxx (Collateral) for Best Supporting Actor, and Cate Blanchett (The Aviator) for Best Supporting Actress. But that's just me.

Consuelo Velasquez, the composer of the song "Besame Mucho", which became a standard in many styles and languages, died in her home in Mexico City on Saturday. She was 84. The song was recorded during WWII and became a big band hit. It was later recorded by the likes of Placido Domingo, Frank Sinatra, Wes Montgomery and The Beatles. The song is near to my heart because it was one of my grandfather's favorite songs, He had a beautiful voice and would sing it to my grandma frequently when his family (12 children and numerous grandchildren) got together.

Music: Besame Mucho - Joao Gilberto
Book: Paradoxes From A to Z by Michael Clark
Movie: Jersey Girl
Iraq: January - 48
Total - 1381

Monday, January 24, 2005

Catching Up

This update will be fairly short because I didn't sleep well last night and so didn't do or pay attention to much that wasn't staying awake. I did email several several friends today to catch up and to let them know what's what. Some of this wasn't much fun so I don't feel much like writing more. That's all for now. Goodnight.

Music: My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
Reading: Paradoxes from A to Z by Michael Clark
Iraq: January - 40
Total - 1373

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Lists of Bests

I found yesterday, The Lists of Bests website. It contains lists of movies, books, and music from various sources like the American Film Institute, BBC, Rolling Stone and several other lists. There are a total of 88 lists containing 4218 media items. You can go through each of these lists and mark which items you have read, seen, or listened to. I went through all of the lists and came up with a score of 919. The top 15 people that have registered with the site are listed and numer 15 has a score of 935. While I haven't made it yet, I have to imagine that I am at least in the top 20. I will make it on that list. After you mark down the movies, music, and books you have consumed, you can put them in collections that can be viewed by others.

I also had to dig my car out after our major snowstorm. Unfortunately, I don't own a shovel. Luckily our parking lot had been plowed and I had the presence of mind to back in to my parking spot so I only had to dig out from the front of my car. So how did I dig my car out? I had a reversion to childhood and played bulldozer. I got down on my hands and knees and dug out with my hands. It was a bit of work, but it was fun. I got my car out, and drove around a little to let it warm up, and then parked in the street. I wanted to let some of the snow in the parking lot melt.

In Iraq today, one more American lost their life. This brings the total for January to 39 and the total for the war to 1372.

Johnny Carson, former long time host of the Tonight Show, died at his home in Malibu today. He was 79. The Nebraska native was a long time smoker and died of emphysema. Johnny was surrounded by friends and family and will be missed immeasureably.

Saturday, January 22, 2005


I love a fresh snowfall and Chicago had it's third major snowstorm this season and it's highest snowfall in three years. The weather reports today were predicting snowfalls of 9-13 inches today. Having said that, after the expedition I made today to the post office, I would estimate that we ended up with about 14 inches on the ground and it is still blowing and drifting. I went out for a walk last night at about 9 PM. It had been snowing for a couple of hours and there was about 3 or 4 inches of new snow on the ground. The snowplows hadn't been around yet so the roads were fairly snowcovered. There wasn't much traffic, so it was very quiet... until I passed a local parking lot where someone was doing doughnuts. He was accelerating so hard I was sure he was going to leave his transmission in the lot. While I didn't see the driver, I am sure it was a guy because doing doughnuts is almost entirely a guy thing. Anyway, other than that parking lot, it was very quiet. The traffic that I did see was driving very slowly and there weren't many people walking around. Of course, when it's snowing hard enough to put about half an inch of snow in my hair in a half an hour walk, I wouldn't expect to see many people out. Most of the snow had fallen by the time I got up this morning, but there were still times that it snowed very hard. By 4 PM, I was very tired of sitting in the house and I wanted to return one of my Netflix movies. I went out and saw that there was no way that I was going to get my car out (although having said that, I had no intention of driving anyway). The post office is about a mile away which was a good walk, especially with the wind and the knee high snow. Walking to the post office, I really had to plan my route because a lot of sidewalks were still buried. Luckily, for the most part, when the sidewalk was buried on one side of the street, I could usually cross the street and walk on the sidewalk or at least through a parking lot. There were a few times, when I did have to walk in the street but I did make sure that there was no traffic. Walking through the snow reminded me of walking to school when I was a little kid. I felt like the intrepid explorer, it was great.

And now to completely change the tone of the update. In Iraq today, one soldier lost their life. This brings the total for January to 38 and for the war to 1371. The total looks like it will be relatively low for the month but its still far too many.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Anti-Inaugural Ball

I have just returned from the Anti-Inaugural Ball at ACME Art Works. Acme Art Works is a nonprofit artists collective and much of the art that it featured had a decidedly leftist slant. The Ball started out at Wicker Park and we had a parade to ACME. The event was billed to be for artists, poets, and activists and it was pretty obvious when I got to Wicker Park. Several of the participants were in flamboyant costumes, they handed out candles, cardboard tophats, and various noisemakers and there was a brass band several of whose members are also in Redmoon Theatre. There were about a hundred of us in the march/dance and we had a lot of fun. One would think that an anti-inaugural ball would be very negative but surprisingly, it wasn't. The people that I met, while they were all very anti-Bush, were some of the nicest people that I have ever met. The Ball featured anti-Bush art, poetry, a drum circle, and music. While I was a little disappointed not to be going to Washington D. C., this very definitely cheered me up. I was very happy to have gone and will attend other events there in the future. I ran into a few people that I new through Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and met several other people that I was happy to meet.

While most of my posts have ended negatively, tonight I am in too good a mood. I would end with a casualty listing in Iraq. Happily this isn't necessary tonight.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Plans Change

I was going to be going to Washington D. C. tonight so that I could attend the inaugural parade tomorrow. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make the arrangements that I was going to have to make. I didn't make arrangements to take a bus, which probably would have been better, so I was going to have to drive. Driving tonight, I wasn't going to need a room but I was going to need a place to crash until I could go to the Mall. I wasn't even going to try to drive into D.C. I was going to have to find a place in the burbs. This obviously didn't happen. I was going to the inauguration as a protester but I imagine that people that know me and have read this might have guessed this. The policies that this president has enacted and has tried to enact policies that I think are wholly unamerican. I have done what I could to try to prevent radical changes from occurring. I have sent letters and participated in protests in order to voice my displeasure. I got arrested while participating in an antiwar protest on the day after the war. While I didn't like getting arrested, I'm not sorry I did it. Going to Washington, I would have been able to participate in a massive protest to object to the direction this president is trying to take us. I wasn't going to doing anything radical or violent. I was just going to turn my back to the presidential parade. I don't think that this would have gotten me arrested, but I would just put up with it if I was.
While I won't be going to Washington, I will be going to an anti-inaugural ball and art show in Chicago. It will allow me to voice my displeasure with our CEO President and probably won't get me arrested.

In Iraq, 3 more people have lost their lives. This brings the total for January to 37 and the total for the war to 1370. We are right in line to have between 70 and 80 soldiers give their lives for this worthless idea for this month. Hopefully this will end soon.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Everyone wants to live forever. Most people achieve it through their offspring. Those of us that don't go that route have to achieve it through our actions, whether they be through writing, creating art, or through changing the world. My legacy will be my writing and doing what I can to make the world a better place.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Martin Luther King Day

The birthday of civil rights leader, Martin Luther King is celebrated today. Government offices, schools, and the post office are closed. Everyone else has to work. While I support equal rights for everyone and think that Dr. King did great things. I find the idea of his birthday being a government holiday for this government entirely disengenuous. The two tiered system for the rich and poor that we are heading toward, flies in the face of everything that Dr. King fought for. With the fall of affirmative action, the rich white guy is again rising to the top and is enacting rules to keep therich firmly on top. The 2004 for election in Ohio was one example of this, as is the decrease in minority students in colleges in Florida and Texas. Bush's program to allow illegal aliens work legally in the United States encourages employers to lower wages and working conditions. This creates a larger pool of poor people who will work in any condition. We need another person to take Dr. King's mantle.

In Iraq, 3 more servicemen (who are another example of the two tiered system this country is creating) lost their lives today. This brings the total for January to 34 and for the war to 1367.

" I have a dream...

I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers

I have a dream today"

The 75th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth is celebrated today. He was actually born on January 15th, 1929.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Opportunities not taken.

This entry probably won't be long because my weekend was pretty uninteresting. I did have the opportunities to do some stuff Friday, Saturday and Sunday but just ended up staying home. The second Friday of the month is the Critical Mass Happy Hour which is a Potluck at a private home. I was invited but really didn't feel like going out. On Saturday, I went to Borders to pick up a CD I had ordered, S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. by Out Hud and also picked up The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys on DVD and the book, "Paradoxes from A to Z" which explores and explaines several classic philosophical paradoxes. I was going to go to an early anti-inaugural party at Heartland Cafe but at 7 PM, there was a Tsunami Telethon on NBC in order to raise money for the Red Cross. I wasn't planning on watching that either, especially after the horrible rendition of Imagine that Madonna did, but after briefly flipping channels and noticing that it was on several channels I was drawn in. The star power that they had for this show was amazing and it was good to see civilians with influence pulling together for such a good cause.

I had planned today to go to a forum at Columbia College today called "Get Your Voice Back! Taking Back Politics, Media and the Future of American Democracy". The keynote speaker for this was Joe Trippi, Howard Dean's campaign manager. Those that know me know that I was a big supporter of Howard Dean. I, like he, believe that the middle class needs to get their power back and it isn't going to happen without a push from the middle class. I thought that this really looked interesting and was planning on going but started burning CD's to my iRiver and reading a book that I bought recently and lost time. It's all right that I didn't do anything substantive this weekend because I will probably be the political activist on Wednesday through Friday of next week.

Since my last update on Thursday night, 4 more American servicemembers lost their lives. This brings the total for January to 31 and 1364 for the war. God willing, this will end soon.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

An exciting day at work

The day started out different than it normally does. Apparently there was a nice spring thunderstorm to end the spring day in the middle of winter. It knocked my power out which caused my alarm clock to start blinking. A co-worker called me at 7:30 AM to see if I was coming in (I normally am in by 7 AM). I hurriedly got dressed and arrived at work at 8 AM, an hour later than I normally do. Things were fairly routine when I got there. I started preparing to do a test that I have never done. I found my samples and logged them in, looked at the procedure, and examined the apparatus that I would be using to run the test. At about 9:45 AM, we got an email from the CEO telling us that the VP in charge of the group that I belong to has retired and the group would fall under his (the CEO's) direct control. Another group was split and part of that was also falling under the CEO's control. This obviously made those of us on the bottom a little nervous and we speculated what the future might hold. Cause to be more nervous occurred later in the afternoon when we heard that several of our VP's directors were also let go. My boss' boss who is also a director had not talked to the CEO when we had heard what had happened but there will be a group meeting tomorrow and we will know if he happens not to be there tomorrow. I am very glad that I redid my resume recently.

In Iraq today, 3 more American service members lost there lives. This brings the total for January to 27 and the total for the war to 1360. While I really hate this war and think that there was no reason to go there in the first place. I would really like to think that we would leave it in a condition better than when we started. Having said that, I have a feeling that when the elections are held in Iraq, Bush will start trying to convince people that we have won and there is no reason to be there. Iraq is now and will be an ungovernable anarchist state for the forseeable future. Putting a fried rat on a platter does not make it filet mignon.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A typical spring day in January

Yes, I know, Spring starts on March 20th but when the temperature gets up to 60° and it rains. I would definitely call it spring. When I got up this morning, there was about 9 inches of snow on the ground. It got so warm so quickly the snow pack produced a pretty heavy fog. It is now raining and the only place where there is any snow is where it had been piled at the edges of parking lots. The ground is so wet, it is a virtual bog. When I got home from work today, my mailman was waiting for me with a package. Running to meet him, I stepped into the ground and it took my shoe. I had to stop for a second to pull it out of the muck by hand. The weather had predicted a heavy rain tonight. I was going out tonight but when I left, it was so warm that I could have left my coat. It was a good thing that I didn't because while it was still moderately warm when the talk I went to ended, it was raining and the coat did keep my upper half dry.

So what did I go see? Jeffrey Eugenides and Gary Steyngart had a conversation. Gary Steyngart started things and it was actually he who was the primary focus of the talk. He started with a reading from his book, "The Russian Debutante's Handbook" which is about a Russian Jewish immigrant (kind of like he is) learning how to fit in society. The excerpts he read were very funny. I may just have to pick this up. Jeffrey Eugenides, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, than joined him onstage. He talked briefly about how they knew one another (they met at the Literary Club of Prague in Vienna) and started talking interview style but ended up conversing on politics, writing, and growing up ethnic in the United States among other things. It was very interesting and also pretty funny. It was also fairly obvious where there politics lied (Democrats both). They then opened up the talk to questions from the audience and they ended signing their books for people. I am presently reading Middlesex, and was planning on bringing it with me so I could get it signed, but I forgot it at home. It was a good night despite getting pretty wet.

The American total in Iraq remained at 24 for January but the allied casualties rose to 9. This brings the total of Americans killed in Iraq to 1357 and the non-British allies to 84.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Who was Samuel Bicke?

Actually, his name was Samuel Joseph Byck. A search of Encyclopedia Brittannica finds no results and up until yesterday, there was nothing in Wikipedia either. A google search will reveal that he is the subject of the new Sean Penn film, "The Assassination of Richard Nixon". Byck (or Bicke, if you prefer) was an unemployed tire salesman from a poor family in Philadelphia. He was a highschool dropout who spent two years in the Army and received weapons and explosives training. He was discharged in 1956. He married and had 4 children. He could not hold a job and had several failed businesses. Byck spent two months in a psychiatric hospital to be treated for depression and began to blame his problems on a government conspiracy to keep the poor man down. On February 22, 1974, Byck attempted to hijack a DC-9 at BWI in order to fly it into the White House (sound familiar?) to kill Richard Nixon. He shot a security guard at the airport, rushed in to the plane and demanded it take off immediately. When this didn't happen, he shot and killed the co-pilot and wounded the pilot. He then took a hostage and demanded that she fly the plane. Before anything else happened, he was wounded by a policeman who shot through the plane door. Frustated, he shot and killed himself. An investigation afterward noted that he had recorded and sent several tapes to Jonas Salk, Leonard Bernstein, Senator Abraham Ribicoff, and Jack Anderson. An outspoken critic of Nixon, especially after a loan rejection from the Small Business Administration, he had been on the Secret Services watch list since 1972 when he had sent threatening letters to Nixon. He told investigators that he was just kidding. He was also arrested the Christmas of 1973 for protesting outside the White House in a dirty Santa suit. He was carrying a sign that said, "All I want for Christmas is my Constitutional right to petition my government for a redress of grievances".

In the movie, while he did go nuts in the end, his character seemed to be very much like Michael Douglas' character in "Falling Down". While it wasn't a great movie, it was pretty good and Sean Penn was excellent as always.

In Iraq today, one more person could be added to the list of casualties. This brought the total for January to 24 and the total for the war to 1357.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Words and phrases

In December, I mentioned the most looked up words of the year according to Webster's online English Dictionary. Blog was the most looked up word in 2004. This weekend, two linguistic groups met to name the phrase of the year and the "List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use, and General Uselessness". Several phrases, including blog (again) and red state/blue state, can be found in both lists. English is a growing and changing language and a lot of new slang, like metrosexual last year, really get over used. Some of the phrases that reached popular language last year are red state/blue state/purple state (purple for undecided), flip-flopper, mash-up(two songs or albums blended into one like the Beatles/Jay Z "Gray Album" or Jay Z/Linkin Park), and wardrobe malfunction. Some of the most overused phrases included blog, sale event, body wash, and zero percent APR financing. The group looking to ban over used phrases also mentioned hillbilly armor, nerdvana, "You're fired!", and battleground state.

In Iraq today, 3 more people lost their lives bringing the total to 23 for January and 1356 for the war.

I'm Gary Grice and I approved this message.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A rather uneventful day

For the most part today was rather uneventful but I did do a few things. Unfortunately they were very different and really do not lend themselves to the naming of an overarching theme for the day so I will call it uneventful. I visited my friend Scott (along with his wife Brooke and son Conner) today. He is a friend I knew from my last job, Fuji Hunt Photographic Chemicals in Rolling Meadows, IL. I have a couple of other friends from Fuji Hunt but Scott is my connection to them. He is the one that keeps in contact with me. He also lives much closer than the other two so when I want to give something to any of them, I go through Scott. I bought a box of Frango Mints for each of them for Christmas but have been unable to get them to him until today. Unfortunately, I hadn't looked in the bag that I had them in since I bought them. I bought three boxes of different flavors for each of them. I also bought a single Frango cookie for me. When I got home, I took my cookie out and put the bag away until I could get it to them. When I took the bag out today, I looked inside to make sure that I had taken the prices off and their were only two boxes. SOMEONE STOLE MY DAMN FRANGOS!! I realize that this sounds ridiculous but I was sure that when I removed my cookie there were three boxes. A search of my apartment and my car turned up nothing. The only logical thing that I can think is that the cashier failed to put it in my bag when I bought it, but again, I am sure that I saw three boxes when I took my cookie out. I was embarrassed, but I did give Scott two boxes to fight over between the three of them.

After I returned home, I did a little chemical research on the web. A friend of mine has a separations problem that he is trying to solve and he turned to me as a chemist to try to help him out. I was able to find a bunch of generic stuff that he will need to start things out. I will probably help him more eventually, but in order to help, I will need to now the what's and how much's of the operation. I am sure that this will be a multi-step operation but I don't know specifics. He has said that there will be some money involved, hopefully it will be more than enough to buy lunch.

In Iraq today, one more soldier lost their life. This brings the total for the month to 20 and the war to 1353. Except for a few days this month things have seemed relatively quiet as far as casualties are concerned. Having said that, the provisional government is going to attempt to hold elections on the end of the month in order to say that those that now have power are legitimate. My prediction is that after a very bloody election for Americans and Iraqis both, there will be no change in government. No change is what the American government wants. They have their puppets where they want them now.

Baby hippo "Owen" and his newly adopted surrogate "mother", a 100 year old male tortoise are doing fine after the tsunami in an animal facility in Mombasa, Kenya

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Silver Linings and Fairy Tales

I was looking today at Grimm's Fairy Tales, not the Disneyfied versions but the actual tales that were collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. I knew that the original tales were more violent and didn't necessarily end with a happy ending but I was not aware how sanitized some of these tales had become. For example, there is a version of Snow White in which a young peasant girl, lost in the forest finds the Seven Dwarves and asks for shelter. There were only seven beds available but all of the dwarves argued to give the peasant girl his. It was finally decided that the oldest would give her his bed. Before they went to sleep, an old peasant woman finds the house and asks for shelter. The girl got up and told her that there were only seven beds and there was no room for the old woman. The woman, thinking that the girl was sleeping with all seven dwarves, was infuriated and left. She later returned with two men who broke into the house and killed the seven dwarves. They buried the bodies in the garden and burned the house to the ground but no one knew what happened to the girl. There is of course a more regular Snow White legend with the witch, Snow White's mother who finds her end after Snow white is awakened and comes to the wedding to have her feet placed in iron shoes, the shoes placed in a fire, and being made to dance to death. While it is much closer to the legend most people know, it is also much more gruesome.

While happy endings aren't necessarily found in fairy tales, silver linings can be found in tragedy. One of these is the story of the Jarawa Tribe, whose DNA can be traced back 70,000 years. This tribe can be found on the northern tip of the South Andaman Island in India which was right in the line of the tsunami. Members of the tribe emerged from the forest for the first time since the tsunami and reported that all 250 members of their tribe had survived. This tribe is a group of hunter-gatherers. They have no technology to speak of and they make the Amish's rejection of civilization look very minor. Some anthropologists believe that because they don't depend on technology, they are so in tune with nature that they heard the earthquake (or at least the start of the tsunami) and ran for cover. Another idea is that they noticed the disappearance of fish and wildlife and headed for the hills. It's a sad thing that we have lost this although it is a very good thing that it still lives. It would be nice if we could get one of these people to act as a weatherman.

Another happy story is the story of the baby hippo that was sucked out to sea in the tsunami and was rescued off the coast of Kenya. His mother was apparently lost but he has apparently formed a very strong bond with a century old male tortoise in an animal facility in Mombasa. The hippo and tortoise eat, swim and sleep together and the hippo becomes aggressive to protect his "mother" if someone approaches it. I doubt that the tortoise cares but it is a good thing that the hippo found something to replace his mother.

In Iraq, one more American was lost which brings the total to 19 for January and 1352 in total. In December, a total of 72 Americans lost their lives. Their names are as follows,

December 1: Spc. David M. Fisher, Gsgt. Javier Obleas-Prado Pena, Cpl. Zachary A Kolda, Cpl. Bryan S. Wilson

December 2: PFC George Daniel Harrison

December 3: Spc. David P. Mahlenbrock, Ssgt Henry E. Irizarry, Cpl. Binh N. Le, Cpl. Matthew A. Wyatt

December 4: Sgt. Michael L. Boatright, Sgt. Cari Ann Gasiewicz, Ssgt Salamo J. Tuialuuluu, Sgt. David A. Mitts, Cpl. Joseph O. Behnke

December 5: Ssgt. Marvin Lee Trost III, Ssgt. Kyle A. Eggers, Spc. Edwin William Roodhouse, PFC Andrew M. Ward

December 7: Cpl. In C. Kim, Capt. Mark M. Steubenhofer, SFC Todd Clayton Gibbs,

December 8: Sgt Arthur C. Williams IV

December 9: PFC Christopher S. Adlesperger, 1st Lt. Andrew C. Shields, CWO Patrick D. Leach, Cpl. Kyle J. Renehan

December 11: Lcpl. Gregory P. Rund, Spc. Robert W. Hoyt

December 12: Lcpl. Jeffrey S. Blanton, Ssgt. Melvin L. Blazer, Lcpl. Hilario F. Lopez, Cpl. Jason S. Clairday, Cpl. Ian W. Stewart, Sgt. Jeffrey L. Kirk, Lcpl. Joshua W. Dickenson, PFC Joshua A. Ramsey

December 13: Sgt. Tina Safaira Time, Lcpl. Richard D. Warner, PFC Brent T. Vroman

December 14: Spc. Victor A. Martinez, Cpl. Michael D. Anderson

December 16: Lcpl. Franklin A. Sweger

December 19: Sgt. Barry K. Meza, Ssgt. Donald B. Farmer

December 21: Sgt. Lynn Robert Poulin Sr., Spc. Nicholas C. "Nick" Mason, CPO Joel Egan Baldwin, Ssgt. Julian S. Melo, Lcpl. Neil D. Petsche, Spc. Thomas John Dostie, Sgt. David A Ruhren, SFC Paul D. Karpowich, Spc. Cory Michael Hewitt, PFC Lionel Ayro, Spc. Jonathan Castro, Capt. William W. Jacobsen Jr., Ssgt. Robert S. Johnson, Ssgt. Darren D. VanKomen, Sgt. Maj. Robert D. O'Dell

December 23: 1st Lt. Christopher W. Barnett, Lcpl. Eric Hillenburg, Lcpl. James R. Philips, Cpl. Raleigh C. Smith

December 27: Ssgt. Todd D. Olson, Spc. Jose A. Rivera-Serrano

December 28: Ssgt. Nathaniel J. Nyren, Sn. Pablito Pena Briones Jr., Ssgt. Jason A. Lehto

December 29: Spc. Craig L. Nelson, PFC Oscar Sanchez

December 30: Sgt. Damien T. Ficek

December 31: Lcpl. Jason E. Smith

Details on these men and women can be found at Iraq Coalition Casualties.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Klansman arrested

Edgar Ray Killen, 79, of Neshoba County Mississippi, an outspoken white-supremacist nicknamed "preacher" was arrested on Thursday for the 1964 killings of civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Misississippi. Killen, a reputed Klansman, has been a long-time suspect and was in fact tried once with 19 others in 1967 with the result for his trial being a hung jury. The story of this murder was told in the movie "Mississippi Burning". It took them 40 years to get him but they finally did. I have no use for white supremacists, if they want to have their own country, they should be given one, on the moon. This guy, if found guilty, should be kept in the regular prison population which has a majority minority population. While he survived, it would be Hell for him. I don't support murder or capital punishment, but accidents happen.

In Iraq, one American died today, bringing the total for January to 18 and the total for the war to 1351.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


The news for today (and it is pretty big news) is that the Senate has begun their Confirmation hearing for Alberto Gonzales for the position of Attorney General. Gonzales is a true rags to riches story. He is the son of Mexican immigrants who rose through the ranks to become the White House Legal Counsel. He is a perfect example of affirmative action like Clarence Thomas is, although like Clarence Thomas I am sure that he would deny that this is the case. He was very successful before he met Gubernatorial Candidate Bush in 1994 although knowing Bush has done nothing but good things for him. He became the Governor's General Counsel, after which he became a Texas secretary of state, Texas Supreme Court Justice, and then White House Legal Counsel. As the Governor's General Counsel, it was his job to inform the Governor on legal points on arguments for clemency in capital cases. There were several times when he failed to inform Governor Bush of possibly relevant points in a case resulting in the prisoner being executed. As a private lawyer he worked for a firm one of whose clients was Enron. As a Texas Supreme Court Justice he refused to recuse himself when Enron came before the court. As the White House Legal Counsel he wrote a memo calling the Geneva Convention "quaint", among other things. A memo that he wrote in 2002 allowed the government to stretch the definition of torture that at least indirectly caused the incidents of prisoner abuse in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib in Iraq. I was able to listen to some of the confirmation hearings today and I think many of the Senators are hitting him hard and deservedly so. While I think that he should be pushed hard, ultimately I think that he should be confirmed. I really don't like Bush, and I really disagree with his idea of what is good and right. Gonzales seems to be a really weaselly lawyer,but I would rather have the devil in front of me. I really hope the Senate Democrats don't blow their wad by failing to confirm Gonzales. The Democrats have to choose their battles and if they have several early successes, they will be accused of being obstructionist. This will probably turn the people against them and there are going to be other important fights ahead.

Today was a bad day in Iraq. 9 people were killed, 7 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad and two in a firefight in western Iraq. This brings the total for January to 17 and the total for the war to 1350. So when does the draft start?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I should have figured that this would happen. The advantage of not letting people know about this blog was that I was able to say what I wanted without feedback. This is also a disadvantage because what I have to say may be completely out in left field. I told several of my friends and family recently what the address of this blog is and I got my first real feedback today. My sister Melissa, the second of my three sisters complained that she wasn't in my blog. I was a little embarrassed at first because I don't want to exclude her and there were a few times that I should have mentioned her, but my chagrin (on that point at least) was short lived, a quick search found that I mentioned her on her birthday of October 17th. There may be a few more mentions of her but I would have to go through about 100 entries. I love all of my brothers and sisters and do think about them every day even if I don't happen to mention them here. Melissa also pointed out a couple of misspelled words that she found. This actually was pretty big. I am a great speller and my grammar is very good. It actually is no surprise that my little sister, who is also very literate, would use this to poke at her big brother. So Melissa, I hope this is a good enough mention for you. I will try to mention you more when I talk to you.

In Iraq, there have been 8 Americans killed this month. Which brings the total up to 1341. I will detail the casualties in December on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I feel like hell so there will be no eloquent and outstanding update tonight. I let several of my friends and family know what the address of my blog is so I thought that I should update for their benefit. I can't take a day off on the day after I make myself famous. I am go now and lie back down and die (or at least feel like it). Goodnight everyone.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Sandra Bullock has donated $1 million dollars to the Red Cross for the tsunami relief fund.

Tsunami relief

I commented yesteday about the fact that the United States had upped their pledge to $350 million but that is just money coming from the government. Money from private citizens and corporations is pouring in in much smaller amounts obviously but I am sure that the total amount given by private citizens and corporations will rival that given by our government. It is a very good thing that people are trying to do what they can for people that they don't know in places that they will probably never visit and many people may have a hard time finding. Some of the big philanthropists are drug companies. Pfizer will be $10 million in cash and $25 million in drugs, Coca-Cola is donating $10 million, Exxon-Mobil is donating $5 million, Citicorp, Merck, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are each donating $3 million, Johnson and Johnson and Abbott are giving $2 million, and Bristol-Myers Squibb is donating $1 million in cash and $3 million in Anti-biotics and Anti-fungal drugs. The other pharmaceutical companies will donate drugs as well. Nike, American Express, General Electric, and Starbucks are also big donators as well. It would be very easy to find an ulterior motive for all of these companies' giving. It could be argued that the pharmaceutical companies are donating a lot because many of them have black eyes and this is a great PR move. Several of the other companies have corporate interests in the area. It would be very easy to say this, but it doesn't matter but ulterior motives don't matter if the money is getting where it's needed. On the other side, people can crow that the money for disaster relief is coming from "evil corporations" to the chagrin of hollywood. I will make two arguments against that point, Sandra Bullock has given $1 million to the Red Cross. I am sure that there are other stars that have made substantial donations but a lot of people like to remain silent about the amount that they donated and who they donated to. For the most part, an individual will not be able to compete with the philanthropy of a corporation and they shouldn't have to compete. A person should give what they feel is right. Again I say it doesn't matter who gave what and for what reason as long as they are giving.

In Iraq, the total for December has risen to 72 and January has risen to 2. This brings the total for the war to 1335. This is nowhere near the total in SE Asia but there was no reason it should have happened.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Party

My sister had a New Year's get together today. I don't know (or really have much in common with) many of the people that Tracy and Paul call their friends but they do seem nice enough and I do consider myself friends with a few of them. It was nice talking to the people that I know and meeting a few other very nice people. I also went to my sister's place to drop off the Christmas gifts that they received in Michigan and I had the joy of driving home with. It was nice getting them out of my apartment. I hung around to socialize (and to help clean up) a little after the party ended. We talked a little about the tsunami and I was very proud to hear that while they had given some money, my sister didn't feel that money was enough and had a real desire to go there to help when people become more useful than money (probably in a few months). She said it was too easy to brush it off because it happened thousands of miles away. These people that were affected have friends and family and are people too. While we do have our differences and disagreements, right now I am very proud that she is my sister.

In the past, I have ended my updates on a downer, numbering the dead in Iraq. As there were no dead documented in the last 24 hours and December's total has not changed, I don't have to tonight.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone that reads this. I hope the new year brings you all of your wishes. I had an uneventful New Years Eve which was fine with me. I went to Des Plaines' New Years Eve Celebration at the library and listened to some bad pop music before the ball dropped. As nothing was open today, I spent it at home reading and putting CD's on my new iRiver. I thought that I was going to fit my entire CD collection on it, but a quick calculation indicates that I will need to leave about 60 CD's off. It will take a while to fill the drive so it isn't anything I will have to worry about for a while.

The United States government has decided to up Tsunami relief aid by a factor of ten to $350 million. This will help a lot but I am sure more help will be needed. There are many places on the web that have links to organizations that can help now. Both Yahoo and Google have links to organizations providing relief such as Oxfam, CARE,the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, UNICEF, and others. If you can help you should. Millions of people need help immediately and governments can't do it alone.

The present total on casualties in Iraq for December is 71 Americans, 2 Brits, and 3 Poles. The number of Americans may change yet so I will not report names until next weekend. For 2004, 848 Americans were killed in Iraq and in total it has been 1333. That includes the one person killed in 2005 so far. While these numbers are nowhere near the 123,000 that were killed as a result of the tsunami, it is still far too many. Hopefully things will improve soon.