Saturday, December 30, 2006

2006 Darwin Awards: Still Time to Vote

One of my favorites only got honorable mention a few years ago:

"A man walked into a Circle-K in Louisiana, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer was $15. Question: if someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime committed?"

And ... I always thought the story about the man who flew his lawn chair up to 16,000 feet above Los Angeles was an urban legend, but according to Darwin, it's true. Click here for the story.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Keeping Tabs On Charles Manson

Anyone wonder what Charles Manson is doing these days? Remember Charlie? He's the man who inspired California prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi to write Helter Skelter, a fascinating book about the Manson murder spree wherein Sharon Tate and others died at the hands of Charlie's followers.

Charles is alive and well, and there are numerous web sites dedicated to him, including the following, whose purpose is as stated in quote marks:

"Manson Direct offers the most accurate and current information available about Charles Manson.

For over 30 years there has been an enduring interest in Manson on the part of the public, the media, writers, the curious, detractors, and others. YOU have at least some vague curiosity as well, otherwise you would not have troubled yourself to come here.

Our purpose is to offer current and accurate information about Manson, because people, even you, want to know."

Charles Manson, cult leader, murderer, or prophet?
What do YOU think?
I suggest you read Bugliosi's book before you make up your mind.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Banned Books Cafe Remembers Gerald Ford

Although I wasn't paying much attention to Watergate, Richard Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford, as the 38th president of the United States, I do remember something that happened when President Ford stumbled into Cottonwood City to visit the Alamo Shrine.
Somebody handed Ford a tamale, which is a local type food that is wrapped up in a corn shuck.
According to what I heard, Ford tried to eat said tamale, shuck and all.
Maybe it's just a rumor, but I believed it at the time.
It kind of reminds me of that other vice president's potato(e) incident.
I voted for Jimmy Carter when he ran against Ford (or whoever) in 1976. It was the first time I was old enough to vote.
My fondest memory of Gerald Ford was Chevy Chase's impersonation of him.
My second fondest memory of Gerald Ford is trying to picture him standing in front of the Alamo, trying to eat a tamale with the corn shuck still wrapped around it.
It can be done, but it's easier if you discard it first.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy F*&king Birthday, Mr. Jackson

Birthday Horoscopes for 12/21

The person born on this day has great wisdom. They tend to convey this in what they do, not necessarily what they say. Jupiter is the ruling planet for this day and along with it brings the vision and the will that puts them in a position of power and expansion. As a mate, the December 21st person is loving to that special person but they wont let it be seen by the general public.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Light in Sound, a Sound-Like Power in Light

Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Aeolian Harp is one of my favorite poems. Here, an excerpt from his words of art. Enjoy, and click on this link to hear how it sounds.

Aeolian Harp, an excerpt:

"And that simplest Lute,
Plac'd length-ways in the clasping casement, hark !
How by the desultory breeze caress'd,
Like some coy maid half-yielding to her lover,
It pours such sweet upbraiding, as must needs
Tempt to repeat the wrong ! And now, its strings
Boldlier swept, the long sequacious notes
Over delicious surges sink and rise,
Such a soft floating witchery of sound
As twilight Elfins make, when they at eve
Voyage on gentle gales from Faery-Land,
Where Melodies round honey-dropping flowers,
Footless and wild, like birds of Paradise,
Nor pause, nor perch, hovering on untam'd wing !
O ! the one Life within us and abroad,
Which meets all motion and becomes its soul,
A light in sound, a sound-like power in light,
Rhythm in all thought, and joyance every where--

Methinks, it should have been impossible
Not to love all things in a world so fill'd ;
Where the breeze warbles, and the mute still air
Is Music slumbering on her instrument."

Several years ago I queried a harp maker about purchasing one, and the person I found online said (via email) that he didn't make them anymore. Judging from the links I've found on today's web, the aeolian harp is making a comeback. Click here to read, and hear, more about it. Henry David Thoreau built one, see a replica here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Graph Heaven at

Wine and Violent Crime
I'm not a statistician, but the charts and graphs at provide some interesting entertainment. I made wine once from frozen grape juice concentrate. One bottle was good, the other turned to vinegar. I wonder if there's a chart for that.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My favorite new pun

Every now and then we just have to wallow in the pity pule.

Puns should never be banned.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Banned Books Cafe Empanadas at a Local B&B

It's time again to fill an order of empanadas, this time many dozens of them, for Riverwalk Vista boutique hotel in downtown Cottonwood City. If you stay overnight at this local landmark, check out our empanadas - er, theirs - for breakfast.
They come in the following flavors:
Apple with a cinnamon sprinkle
Chorizo and egg
Country sausage and egg
Spinach and egg
Ham and cheese
Ham and egg
They're made fresh and immediately frozen in the Rio Vista's kitchen.
Try 'em, you'll like 'em.
It's the empanada marathon, brought to you by the proprietors of the former BBC Cafe - still searching for a new location.
Some day.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Banned Books Cafe Blogger Salem's Next Post

"Subject: Neologisms

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

1. The winners are:
1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3 . Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.
6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

2. The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners:
1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
10 Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole."

I personally have used this last entry in reference to certain elected officials in Cottonwood City.

From Blogger Salem: A Media Joke

Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, Cokie Roberts, and a tough old U.S. Marine Sergeant were all captured by terrorists in Iraq . The leader of the terrorists told them that he would grant them each one last request before they were beheaded.

Dan Rather said, "Well, I'm a Texan; so I'd like one last bowlful of hot spicy chili." The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the chili. Rather ate it all and said, "Now I can die content."

Peter Jennings said, "I am Canadian, so I'd like to hear the song "O Canada " one last time." The leader nodded to a terrorist who had studied the Western world and knew the music. He returned with some rag-tag Musicians and played the anthem. Jennings sighed and declared he could now die peacefully.

Cokie Roberts said, "I'm a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what's about to happen. Maybe someday someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end." !

The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and Roberts dictated some comments. She then said, "Now I can die happy." The leader turned and said, "And now, Mr. U.S. Marine, what is your final wish?"

"Kick me in the ass," said the Marine.

"What?" asked the leader? "Will you mock us in your last hour?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the ass," insisted the Marine. So the leader shoved him into the open, and kicked him in the ass.

The Marine went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled a 9 mm pistol from inside his fatigues, and shot the leader dead. In the resulting confusion, he leapt to his knapsack, pulled out his M4 carbine and sprayed the Iraqis with gunfire. In a flash, all the Iraqis were either dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the Marine was untying Rather, Jennings , and Roberts, they asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them in the beginning? Why did you ask them to kick you in the ass first?"

"What!" replied the Marine, "And have you three assholes report that I was the aggressor?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Silver Capital of Mexico

A view of the City of Taxco, Mexico, from a third story window in the Hotel Aguas Escondidos, off the Main Plaza across from Iglesia Santa Prisca. Taxco is the silver capital of Mexico, where every house is a showcase of silver jewelry and other fine pieces made by local artisans. Fantastic locale for a few vacation days.

Bougainvillea Tree, Oaxaca

The splash of color in the middle of this magnificent view is a 25 foot or so tall bougainvillea tree, visible from the top of Monte Alban in Oaxaca. Closer in, it's a wondrous bit of foliage that stands out sharply from the valleys and mountains in the distance. Someday I would like to return to this spot and take another photo. Someday.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Take Thos. Edison's Pre-Employment Test

Honestly, this post will take no sides politically, despite what I think about our current president. Just for fun, see how much you know if you think you know a lot by taking Thomas Edison the inventor's pre-employment test. My first score was a 66 percent. Second time, somewhere in the upper 80s, but I qualify that with the excuse that it was after midnight when I took it. Generally, I do well with trivia games such as the ones on the bar at a given local nightclub, but this is a tough one. I give credit, however, to extended periods spent in upper division college English classrooms for all of my correct answers about various authors (I also correctly answered the question about who invented the printing press, only because I have worked in the printing business in previous lives), but Edison was a tough examiner with questions about science, geography (no geometry) and other subjects. Click here for the test. Good luck.

ADDENDUM: I'm not trying to brag about any intellectual prowess, as it appears after I've read my own post. Far from it. I'm seriously math deficient, and I had to guess at the mathematical questions such as the distance from the earth to the sun - I had no idea. And scoring an 80 on a retest is cheating. My score was still "xyz" which is what Edison gave to college graduates who failed his rigorous exam. In other words, he never would have hired me to work in his inventor's workshop.

Furthermore, I'm going to avoid politics for awhile. There doesn't seem to be much point to it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bill Clinton: Best President Ever

U.S. voters should rally around the country's best president ever to serve in the White House. Remove term limits and elect him to at least two more eight year terms. Then elect Hillary as vice president, and she could succeed him. We could have 20 or more years of the Clintons in the White House. It's what this country desperately needs.
Come on America. Put Bill Clinton back in the White House where he belongs.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wal-Mart Offers Polo Shirts to Long-Term Employees

Regarding Wal-Mart, this from the New York Times:

"Faced with public demonstrations of discontent by its employees, Wal-Mart Stores has developed a wide-ranging new program intended to show that it appreciates its 1.3 million workers in the United States and to encourage them to air their grievances.
"As part of the effort, Wal-Mart managers at 4,000 stores will meet with 10 rank-and-file workers every week and extend an additional 10 percent discount on a single item during the holidays to all its employees, beyond the normal 10 percent employee discount...

The program includes several new perks “as a way of saying thank you” to workers, like a special polo shirt after 20 years of service and a “premium holiday,” when Wal-Mart pays a portion of health insurance premiums for covered employees. Sarah Clark, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the program was a “a more formalized, contemporary approach” to communicating with and collecting feedback from its fast-growing work force."

In my neck of the woods, Wal-Mart added a store just a mile-and-a-half down the road from our subdivision. There already was a Wal-Mart located at a major intersection on a loop highway, about seven miles away ... plenty close enough to get to if we decided to shop the Smiley-Face Big-Box Store. I must admit we have sneaked into the new Wal-Mart, but there was very little temptation to empty our pocketbooks at the check-out counter.

Meanwhile, another neighborhood near where I resided back in the 1970s has told Wal-Mart to take a hike (click here).

Why This Man Gets a Link From the BBC Blog

"All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we'd be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half."
–H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), "Breathing Space", The Baltimore Evening Sun, 1924 Aug 4. Reprinted in A Carnival of Buncombe.

I don't have anything against lawyers. But I did get fired once as a column writer for suggesting that "Republican lawyers should be banned from serving in the Texas Legislature." Of course I was immediately hired as a freelance writer, and continued to turn in stories on deadline for the editor of a newspaper that I had spent 3.5 years writing for, editing, typesetting, pasting up and delivering to the printer. Paste-up is no longer a function in modern-day newsrooms, thanks to (or not) desktop publishing and modernization of the printing process.
I once read an argument that lawyers should be the only people elected to serve in government posts. The logic of the persuader was that only lawyers could accurately interpret the U.S. Constitution and other laws that exist in our country, as only they can understand them. I would counter that by saying it has been lawyers and judges who have interpreted us into the current state in which we exist, which is that we barely exist. And there are elected officials who are not attorneys.
I hope I don't get sued for saying that.

Google Sets Price on Words

Could we be on the road to a tax on our language? Will we be silenced, finally, by a corporation that seeks to corner the market on our words?
Or will we finally have to develop our brains to a level of competence in telepathy?
I'm shocked into a silent reverie.
Click on the link above to see what I'm talking about.
We might have to invent a new, underground, black market language.
Ssshhhhh. Don't say black market, there's probably a price on it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blog Link Recommendations Welcome

I considered changing the look of this blog today. I thought a nice "Tequila" design would be nice for a change, but when I clicked on the button to give this blog a makeover, a message box popped up that said "template change - any template customizations will be lost." Since I have periodically posted new links on the left navbar of the Banned Books Cafe blog, I figured that hours of work would be lost. So I chickened out and left it alone.
I instead opted to invite a couple of intelligent beings out there to join this blog as new, (I hope) contributing members.
Let's see if they accept the challenge.
Other blog members have been deleted for the time being, as they have contributed no content since they joined the Banned Books Cafe blog.
Now, here's a blatent attempt to grab the attention of the Internet web spiders who might be looking for new gossip and other nonsensical stuff for web browsers:

Britney Spears. Paris Hilton. Angelina Jolie. Brad Pitt. George Clooney. Ashton Kutcher. Demi Moore, Jennifer Anniston. Marriage. Divorce. Adoption. Wedding Ring. Splitsville. Reconciliation. Forever Love. James Dean. Elvis Presley. John Wayne. Madonna. Marilyn Monroe. Pamela Anderson. Kid Rock. Jessica Simpson. Oprah Winfrey. Space alien babies.

Oh, I give up. I can't think of any other celebrity names right now.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kosovo's Osama bin Laden Mosque


"While under the watchful eye of NATO’s Kosovo Forces since 1999, more than 150 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed or desecrated and dozens of new mosques have been built — including the Osama bin Laden mosque that now stands on Serbian soil. Is this why peacekeepers are in Kosovo? To protect mosques named after the prime terrorist who has vowed to destroy our country?"

The author claims that U.S. peacekeeping forces in Serbia are protecting it. What do you think about that? With that said, are members of the Bush family considered a part of its congregation? Do mosques have congregations?

The Banned Books Cafe blog now invites posts from the general populace (even if you're from Cherry Hill, New Jersey - find your thrill).

And ... just for fun, the next time someone asks you where you're from, tell them, "I'm from Earth."

Katherine Harris, Among Others, Investigated

We hear it all the time, "those crooks in Washington." Take the following excerpt about Katherine Harris, the woman who helped George Bush and his cronies steal the presidential election in 2000. Click on the link above to see the entire list of Congress members who are under investigation.

"Katherine Harris is under investigation by both the Justice Department and Defense Department for her relationship with Mitchell Wade, the former head of a defense company who pleaded guilty to a series of criminal bribery offenses in February 2006. Wade made $32,000 worth of illegal contributions to Harris' House campaign in 2004. In addition, he paid for at least two dinners with her at a Georgetown restaurant in 2004-2005 that totaled roughly $6,000. Later, Wade requested that Harris help secure $10 million in federal money for a company project of his in Sarasota, Fla. Federal officials have subpoenaed records from Harris' U.S. Senate campaign office and interviewed several of her former staffers. Harris was defeated in her Senate bid by Democrat Bill Nelson in the November 2006 elections."

The Score: Republicans 15 - Democrats 4

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Bush Fraud Indictment

The Indictment
United States v. George W. Bush et al.

By Elizabeth de la Vega

Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We're here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who's now the Secretary of State, of course -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It's a one-count proposed indictment: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. I'll explain the law that applies to the case this afternoon, but I'm going to hand out the indictment now, so you'll have some context for that explanation. Take as long as you need to read it, and then feel free to take your lunch break, but please leave your copy of the indictment with the foreperson. We'll meet back at one o'clock.
The Last Temptation of Office Jesus

Office Jesus can't get up a good pickup line.
What A Wonderful World

The Bush Regime could use this video for its White House Christmas greeting.

Flood Plain Means "Flood"

Another case of housing developers getting so greedy they're willing to put people's lives in danger just to make a buck.
I don't know the details of this story, but if you build a house in a watershed's flood plain, then sooner or later you will get flooded.
I witnessed this phenomenon a few years ago when a river in this region overflowed a lake spillway and washed out numerous homes downstream.
In one subdivision along the river where residents were scraping mud off the living room carpet, it was revealed that a developer back in the 1980s lobbied a legislator to help lower a FEMA flood plain map. A parcel of land that farmers remembered as a flood-prone property was zoned for residential development. The houses on the river side of the street have flooded every time the river rises out of its banks.
Older residents of the community in question remember the devastating nature of this river when it hits flood stage, and they live on nearby hilltops.
Yeah, go ahead and fudge the numbers on a FEMA flood plain map. Build your house one foot above the base flood elevation, and believe you are safe from raging floodwaters.
Be prepared, however, to watch your prized possessions (children?) wash away in the next 100- or 200-year flood.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ten years after-Good Morning Little Schoolgirl

Five minutes with Ten Years After.

Download This; May Need It

This is a Test

Wow. It even happens on blogs. Hi Lucy.

See "Mike the Headless Chicken" at WikiDumper

My afternoon interlude with the computer allowed me time to find the article about Mike the Headless Chicken on the WikiDumper blog. If you think this is a hoax, see the original Wikipedia article by clicking here.
I recommend that you read it while you chomp on a leftover Thanksgiving turkey breast and dressing sandwich during the intermission of your favorite college football game.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Hollywood Park Deer Trapped by TxDOT

A district judge recently ruled against residents of Hollywood Park, a Cottonwood City surburb wherein they have sued for the right to feed semi-tame white-tailed deer, an indigenous species in the New Philippines Hill Country, where Republicans have flocked to live since they heard that the last of the pristine drinking water in the state lies underground. What they've done to poison that water source is a different story, but this one seems somehow relevant.

Since the lawsuit dates from 2003, I filched some copy that I wrote for back in 2003, as follows. I'll have a one-or-two line comment at the end:


Depending on whom you ask - the bucks, does, and fawns, or the residents of Hollywood Park - this suburban city either has a deer problem or a people problem.
From the deer's viewpoint, people have displaced and crowded their herds, which depend on the natural forage that is wiped out when subdivisions are built. Some human residents are exasperated by deer chewing on their fruit trees and plants, or wandering into yards and roads in this North Side suburb. And other humans, who are happy to coexist with their four-legged neighbors, are fed up with Hollywood Park's ban on feeding them - and upset that police could have the right to shoot the deer in the street.
In mid-December, Hollywood Park's City Council crossed antlers with local animal lovers and banned the practice of feeding the city's deer population, which lost access to its Hill Country habitat after U.S. 281 and Loop 1604 were built to the north and east of Hollywood Park, a San Antonio suburb that was incorporated in 1955.

And at last week's City Council meeting about the ban, some residents brought their children, who stood on the curbside of Mecca Drive and held signs that read "Don't Starve Bambi," and "We Want Our Rights Back." The sign on the marquee in front of City Hall read, "Council Meeting at 7 p.m., Deer Feeding Prohibited."
Rebellious residents claim that their elected officials have not represented their interests in adopting an ordinance against feeding the deer - and that City Police are enforcing the law and issuing citations to residents who continue to do so. "I want my rights as a homeowner back," one Hollywood Park resident protested last week. "What's with the Gestapo tactics at City Hall?"
"At least four people have gotten tickets," resident Bob White said. "People are putting bird seed out and the Hollywood Park police are giving them a damn ticket. Something has gone crazy."
Shirley Matter, who has lived in Hollywood Park for 40 years, said she was ticketed because she consented to an interview with a local TV station about the practice of feeding deer in Hollywood Park. A citation arrived at her home via certified mail. "They saw me on TV and they sent a ticket." Her court date is March 5.
"They did this without asking the public," Matter said in reference to the feeding ban.
"We want our town back like it used to be," longtime resident Cherie Emick said. "We should be able to feed animals in our own yard."
Hollywood Park deer lovers will get little help from Texas Parks and Wildlife; the advice from Jerry Cooke, chief of TPW's game branch division is simply, don't feed the deer. This will encourage the herds to seek natural habitat away from populated areas, instead of hanging around neighborhoods where residents feed them.
TPW also could issue a depredation permit to Hollywood Park police, which allows officers to shoot the animals and remove the carcasses - in full view of the community's children if the officers are indiscreet.
Deer-loving citizens have formed the Hollywood Park Humane Society, and member Donald Yena delivered 527 letters to Mayor Harold Burris during the Council's citizen communication session. "We are responsible for this," the letter reads. "We trapped the deer here with our highways and growth ... what kind of example are we setting for our children and the planet with these values?" The group demands that City Council rescind the feeding ban.
Hollywood Park's City Council is not alone in its struggle to cope with "The Deer Question." Residents of Lakeway on Lake Travis nearly came to blows when city officials obtained a deer depredation permit from TPW. But instead of killing deer and processing the meat for a local needy population - an option that some residents preferred - the City received permission to relocate several hundred deer to a ranch in México, until the Mexican government stopped the practice. TPW also allows a community to round up a portion of its deer population to be shipped to a game management area in Texas, but few of those places are available.
Hollywood Park residents who insist on feeding the deer could be on a quixotic quest. The Fund for Animals recommends modifying habitats to provide less food and shelter, which encourages animals to move elsewhere. A brochure distributed by the Animal Protection Institute recommends, "all artificial feeding of deer must be stopped. While one individual may wish to attract more deer to her property, a neighbor may be attempting to drive them away. Deer are responsive to human-initiated changes in their habitat by adapting to live in our midst. It is our responsibility to tolerate their presence and treat any conflicts in a humane manner."

You might notice that I mentioned the construction of several super highways that have cut off the Hollywood Park herd in the years that Cottonwood City expanded northward (untrammeled by common sense) over the past 40 years.

If the highway department had thought to leave open a few deer paths in the manner of tunnels (not underpasses), leaving intact some natural foliage and feeding grounds, the unfortunate white-tails that are trapped in Hollywood Park might have escaped to the northern reaches of the Hill Country, only to have their descendants run over by all the sports utility vehicles that everyone in said region appear to own and drive on our highways nowadays, one person at a time (translation, no passengers for those commuters).

It's a lost cause to save the Hollywood Park deer population.
Be merciful, kill them all now and be done with it.

As a friend from Vermont likes to say, "they're just oversized Texas rats."

What do you think? Leave your comments here.

Monday, November 20, 2006

BBC Recipe for Caldo en Calabasa

Okay, it's Thanksgiving 2006. We're going to a friend's house; someone else can cook the turkey this year, although I probably will roast a breast so I can later make some calaguen (I'll soon reveal that recipe, perhaps the weekend after Thanksgiving).
Last year I took an assignment from the food editor of the San Antonio Current (marching orders were somewhere along the lines of do something with a pumpkin).
It's not my original recipe with the pumpkin, I found it on the net (yeah, the caldo recipe is mine, a modified version of my mother-in-law's caldo tlalpeno - pronounced ennyo, I'm too lazy to find the Spanish letter that belongs in place of the n). But it surely would be on the next BBC menu (Portland, Oregon?).
I have to admit that when I first cooked this dish last year, I started out trying to cook the caldo from scratch inside the pumpkin. It didn't take long to realize that I had made a mistake. The pumpkin would melt long before the caldo was done. So I took it all out and cooked it in my favorite pot.

Without further ado, or how-do-ya-do, here's the recipe that was printed in the Current.

The great pumpkin
By Michael Cary
Stew your caldo inside a pumpkin and watch both disappear
Autumn’s annual debut in South Texas has crept up on us, finally sweeping those 100-degree sweltering days into the history books. Now is the time to ponder carving pumpkins and simmering pots of caldo on the stovetop.
Jack-o-lanterns lie tumbled in local grocery aisles. They weigh anywhere from seven to 15 pounds, and carry an ample harvest of pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, an easily prepared snack with a little salt (and no oil) and a 10-minute visit to a 350-degree oven.
Local pastry chefs undoubtedly will whip up the classic pie for Thanksgiving, but what else can you do with the pumpkin or, in our other language, the calabasa? Pumpkin is a squash, the big orange cousin of acorn and butternut, and nature doesn’t add nutmeg or cinnamon while it grows on the vine. Slice, butter, and bake it, and you’ll be surprised at how much it tastes like crookneck or zucchini squash — there’s just a lot more of it.
Now then, put the pumpkin aside for a while. The cooler weather dictates that it’s time to get a caldo, prepared from an old family recipe, simmering on the stovetop.
Caldo is soup. Popular in many local restaurants, it contains hefty pieces of corn on the cob and beef bones with the obligatory skein of fat, and lots of comino to dull the taste buds. But for discerning home chefs, a leaner cut of beef, pork, or chicken awaits at the grocery. And family recipes differ. In this case, the brew is a loose translation of a caldo tlalpeño concoction, courtesy of Mamí Carmen, a beloved mother-in-law who lives deep in the heart of México.
Reenter the pumpkin, if only for a moment. Surprise the niños with a fun way to serve a favorite fall caldo recipe — inside a piping-hot calabasa. Begin with the caldo, which should be lovingly simmered to its reassuringly savory flavor in the family cazuela.
Cover the bottom of a hot skillet in olive, canola, or vegetable oil and brown a couple of pounds of beef tips (or stew meat) cut into bite-size pieces.
Next, unearth the old soup pot and dust it off.
While the meat is browning, cut a large, white onion into quarters and throw it into the blender. Add an 8-ounce can of Rotel brand tomatoes with green chilies (excuse the typo on the can, it’s chiles), fill the blender with water, and liquefy.
Pour the blended ingredients into the soup pot, add the browned meat, toss in four to seven dried chipotle peppers, add more water to fill the pot, and set it to simmer.
Meanwhile, pull out three or four red potatoes, a few stalks of celery, a good handful of carrots, crookneck and zucchini squash, and add a couple of turnips, cut into stew-sized chunks. (Remember, we’re cooking the soup the whole way through before we even think about the pumpkin.)
After about an hour, add the potatoes, carrots, and turnips to the stew. Simmer another 20 minutes or so, add the squash and celery, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add three or four epazote leaves (if you still have any growing in the backyard this time of year), replace the lid, and let the stew rest.
Note that ingredients and seasonings may vary from household to household: The contents of a favorite caldo are not an exact science, so feel free to modify the recipe to this point.
While the family recipe rests on the stovetop, prepare the pumpkin for its debut as a stewpot. Wash that 13-pound pumpkin and cut out the top as you would a jack-o-lantern. Remove the seeds and save them for roasting later. (Discard the stringy stuff that entangles the seeds and clings to the inside of the pumpkin. I scrape it out with the edge of a large soup spoon.)
Oil the bottom of a flat baking sheet.
Pour more oil onto a paper towel and, before it can drip down your apron onto the floor and your custom chef shoes, coat the outside of the pumpkin, especially the bottom.
Set oven temperature to 325 degrees in the bake, not broil, mode.
This is the exciting part. Take your pot of caldo and spoon it into the cavernous interior of the pumpkin. Replace the hand-carved lid, and set it onto the baking sheet. Shove it into the oven, and leave it there for about two hours, until the pumpkin is fully cooked. It will take some resolve to ignore the sizzling sound of the pumpkin as the exterior turns a deep, burnt orange hue, but the surprise on your family’s face will be the reward when the table is set with a steaming caldo a la calabasa.

A note of caution: If the pumpkin is overcooked, its bottom can give way, spilling boiling caldo on you, the kitchen floor, and any pets loitering at your feet. Always support the bottom by placing the pumpkin on a large serving plate.
Don’t forget to scrape a few chunks of the pumpkin into the soup bowls before la familia squeezes on the jugo limón and dives into this traditional recipe with a holiday flair. They will savor the familiar, reliable caldo tlalpeño, and they’ll be sure to come back for seconds. •

Banned Books Cafe Blog Wide Open

After reading something the other day about how blog "lurkers" are loathe to register, or sign in, to make comments on blog posts, I've decided to open up the comments to the general public. The article recommended that blog administrators open up the comments section to allow visitors to leave messages without registering or verfying their identities. It pointed out that 95 percent of blog visitors who might leave a comment avoid doing so if they have to go through a registration process. What that means is, if you see a post here, like or dislike it, or just want to add your comment, feel free do so. Here it is, comment away, but be warned, spammers will be unmercifully ridiculed.
If you find you can't make a comment without signing in, send a message to me, and I'll try to fix the problem, if there is one. I also turned off the word verification thingy, but I might turn it back on if the spammers get too boisterous.

Dear Mayahuel, I'm happy that you finally found your voice.
Janis Joplin is top drawer, I wish she was still with us.
Janis Joplin

I was fifteen when I got into Janis. I used to hide in a cool boutique in Mexico city called Freak. I had no idea what the word meant and my parents hated the place, but I liked to hang there. Did that make me a freak? Not anymore than the rest of my friends, I suppose. Today I still like to listen to Janis Joplin full volume. In my book she will never go out of style. Cheers.
david bowie - space oddity

I am finding my favorite music. I feel like a kid with a new toy. Prepare for what's to come...seatbealts on?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

j;kjk;j;lkjl;ij;kj j;lkjl;kjl;kj

What's going on?????
Is there a "blogger for dummmies" somewhere???
4 Non Blondes - Spaceman

To my husband... this great song brings great memories. I hope you like it.

Breaking news: George Clooney really is sexiest man alive


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Crossing Woman Hollering Creek

Sometimes the long commute home from the Banned Books Cafe was extended by a few miles when we took the scenic route home from the big city. Woman Hollering Creek is a small waterway; it meanders through sylvan glades past majestic mottes of live oak trees. We once lived about a mile from here. I planted a Lacebark Elm tree about ten years ago on a hillside, and sometimes I drive past to check its progress. It's a beautiful tree, nearly thirty feet tall in the current property owner's front yard.
There's no official explanation about how the creek got its name. Mexican writer Sandra Cisneros (she's from Chicago but claims a homestead in Cottonwood City) used the creek in the title of a book of her short stories, but in my opinion she's overrated by English professors who assign her work to hapless second year college students. She's just not, in my humble opinion, a good enough writer to enter the American literary canon with the likes of John Steinbeck, but there's a dearth of Mexican-American novelists, so she'll have to do for now. Somebody who is really good, and Mexican-American, would be Ana Castillo. I thoroughly enjoyed her book, "So Far From God," and had a great time watching my fellow Mexican-American literature classmates squirm when I worked out the theory of the "immaculate contraction of the AIDS virus" after I did a "close read" of Castillo's story (read it if you dare). I bet that my professor stole my idea and used it in one of those books that college professors are obliged to write so they can retain their university tenure but I really don't have a care about it.
Maybe Woman Hollering Creek's name is connected to La Llorona, who according to legend drowned her children, and can be heard wandering along the banks of a river, crying for her children, but that's just folklore ... maybe.
Woman Hollering Creek crosses Interstate 10 at some point, and I believe it eventually empties into Cibolo Creek, which is much more impressive, and has more written history, at least after the Anglos stole the land from Mexico in the 1830s.
There's really not much point to this blog post, except that I happened to have my camera when I crossed the creek recently, and I stopped for awhile to check it out.
We miss the country living, and someday we'll return to it, on a plot of land where with any luck, a creek just like this one will flow through it. I'll plant another lacebark elm tree, and watch it grow.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Okay, I Watch Too Much YouTube

Are those bullets flying through the air? My vote for restaurant - where you have to eat for the rest of your life: The Banned Books Cafe. Of course, I'm biased. Apologies to Wild Bill if I revealed too much information on first contact, but I was somewhat overwhelmed with our first conversation in more than twenty years. Indeed, I'm happy, without the aid of any type of illegal substances.
I'm just high on life, just like the princess in the video.

Unemployed? Look up old friends.

I'm posting this photo that Enrique shot of me a couple of months ago at the Banned Books Cafe. It's for the benefit of a great friend that I met in Navy boot camp in 1974 - Great Lakes, Chicago.
I always called him "Wild Bill," but I was the wild one, and as he was the boot camp company clerk, he always kept me out of trouble with our commander. Anyway, since I'm between journalism jobs (my blogger friends should know that I'm a full-time grill cook at a local seafood restaurant in a Cottonwood City suburb) and I have some free time on my hands, I decided to look some people up.
Wild Bill was first on my list.
Fortunately, I found his little brother listed on the net in his home town in northern New Philippines. He remembered me and gave me a quick history on the entire family: "Everybody's healthy."
That was good news.
And it was great to get a call from the Wild One (again, much tamer and more apt to avoid trouble than yours truly), a few hours later.
We've re-established our connection, much to my happiness. It tends to overshadow the doldrum of job hunting.
Update on my life. I do not plan to string shrimp on kabob sticks for the rest of my days, but it's a job, not too far from home, hence no highway commute. I have had an interview with a local newspaper, and I've broadcast my resume and some clips from my work at the San Antonio Current to newspapers all over the state.
I heard from one editor in the far north Hill Country (lake district), but since it's the weekend, I'll likely not hear anything from anyone else until next week.
My life is in a flux, and it can become depressing having to wait around for word from a potential employer. But I'm a patient person. Something will happen. Soon, I hope.
The latest joy in my life? Getting back in touch with "Wild Bill." I don't know whether he is interested, but I'll send him an invite to join this blog, and you can possibly hear for yourself what he does with his life nowadays.
Stay tuned, and if you hear of any good job leads in the journalism business, send them my way (no, I do not lay out pages, that stuff is for editors, I'm a writer/reporter who most of the time needs a good editor, as you can tell from this copy).
Next person to look up? Tony Wamego, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the hell are you - I'm still pissed off at you for convincing me to join the submarine service?
Signed - Winston, still not finished with "1984," too many distractions these days - but I did get in some flying time with the kites when that cold front was here - it almost destroyed my box kite.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Remixing Bill Maher on Larry King Live

Bill Maher outs Ken mehlman remix

The Friday night Bill Maher mentions is Friday, November 10. His HBO show, "Real Time with Bill Maher" will replay several times this week on HBO. Check it out.

Don't be fooled...

Read more about the unstoppable Charlotte Flynn.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Nope. That Ain't Me In The Cowboy Hat


Damn! He almost got away with it, if not for his big mouth. Look for him on American Idol, once he posts bail.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Only Blogrrrl is back (still anonymously!)

Off to a creeky start... but ready for your comments!

For now, in homage to Nervana and Pineapple, a picture of some things that should be banned:

Election Over: Go Fly A Kite

Way back in the spring, or early summer, when we still had money, we went to the coast to camp on the beach for three blissful days. Preface that with late winter when my family presented me with a new suit for my birthday. I returned the suit for a refund, and instead ordered a bunch of kites online after a short period of waiting to see if this was just a passing fancy.
I don't know what happened to me. I was at the playground with my granddaughter, and the notion seized me to purchase a kite at the local dollar store. We flew it with little success, until I loaded her into the truck and drove to the nearest big box store, where we bought a three-dimensional kite that resembles a fish. It flew much better than the two-dollar model from the one-dollar store.
As we stood on the edge of the field that borders the playground (it might not be there much longer as it is for sale as a huge commercial lot), I met a chaplain who was seriously into kite flying, and he broke out some heavy duty equipment.
Back to the kite order. One of the kites that arrived in the mail shortly after I sneaked my wife's credit card out of her purse was this stained glass box kite.
Alas, it won't fly in less than 10 mph or so wind, or at least not in my hometown which lies about 140 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.
Of course it stays up for hours - and did - on the beach, but the wind here is slim to none where we only have two seasons.
I tried to launch it the other day when the Weather Channel said we had 12 mph winds, but there are apparently too many inland factors that prevent this beautiful kite from soaring as it should, such as trees, houses and other obstacles to a good wind.
There are other kites in my possession, including a 45-foot long rainbow dragon kite that I am afraid to launch for fear of failure.
But I'm not giving up. Weather forecast for this region says wind will be about 10-15 mph on Veterans Day. And the following Monday has more promise, with wind speed forecasts of 10 to 15 mph.
Overall, however, I've concluded that the weather here really sucks for kite flying. We have summer, and we have about two days of winter, then more summer. I admit that I had some success at the playground during the summertime, with a couple of different kites, but that box kite in the above photo won't give you the time of day unless there's a good wind.
My wife thinks I'm crazy, or obsessed, but I counter that she is equally hooked on the Cable News Network, 24 hours a day - she watches nothing else on TV unless I change the channel.
There is a difference between us. I see no end to her tendency to lock the tv remote onto CNN, but I'm going to seek help for my addiction.
I plan to join a kite fliers club.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day: Bush Beats Up On Cuba

It's 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7, Election Day in the United States of America. As I cross my fingers and hold out hope that U.S. voters will turn away from the "dead hand of dictatorship" that is the George Bush presidential administration, I run across the news that U.S. sanctions are tightened against our tiny neighbors in Cuba. Who will they stomp on next?
Cuba might be the last thing on our minds right now, but it represents our country's 1984ish policies toward whatever is foreign to us.
I want to visit Havana, and the government would slap me with a $10,000 fine for doing so?
What gives, America?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Republicans, Stuff Your Indignation

Kerry Belittles U.S. Troops

Kerry is right. Military recruiters are cruising our public school campuses, looking for the potential dropouts to recruit, suit up and send off to fight the losing war in Iraq. President Bush, keep your warmongering hands off our children.

A Musical Interlude With Banned Books

Banned Books 2006

It's my mission to read as many banned books as I possibly can for the duration of my life. I'm a rebel at heart, and when somebody tells me I can't read something they find offensive, then it is I who shall go on the offensive. Currently, I'm reading "1984" by George Orwell. I'll put up a few excerpts after I finish it, which won't be long now.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Want to Help Texas Children? Help Bell!

"The Bell Campaign had quite a day on Friday with Sen. John Kerry coming to Austin to join Chris at a press conference and a very successful downtown fundraiser. We’ve said it a thousand and one times: If Texas Democrats unite in this election there is no way we can lose. Having the support of national Democratic leaders like Sen. Kerry and President Clinton (who you'll be hearing from on our behalf over the radio very soon) will bring us that much closer to the goal of shoring up the state's blue base and sending Rick Perry packing."

Remember, vote for Chris Bell, Democrat for Texas Governor, on November 7.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rosa Rosales Turns on Spigot on Lou Dobbs

CNN's Lou Dobbs gave LULAC executive Rosa Rosales the floor, and he barely got it back after she tore into U.S. corporate policies that allow for the hiring of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Live from the Empire Theater, in downtown Cottonwood City. In case anyone wonders who she is, read the press release:

"Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) elects its new LULAC National President Rosa Rosales with over 70% of the vote by the delegates at the LULAC National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

"I am elated at being elected the new President of LULAC and I am ready to work with all groups to take LULAC to the next level of activism. I want to thank LULAC and all the past Presidents for all the work they have done. I want to thank all of the volunteers because that is what LULAC is all about. What makes LULAC so special is because not only do the volunteers work for free but pay dues," said Rosa Rosales, past Vice President of the Southwest and the newly elected LULAC National President.

Born April 7, 1944, in San Antonio, Texas, Ms. Rosales was among the first Mexican American women to become labor organizers in recent times. Active in LULAC, she was the first woman to hold the position of State Director of that organization. She received her B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Michigan. Rosa was recently on the National LULAC Board of Directors holding the position of National Vice President of the Southwest.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide."

Don't Says Get Informed

No matter your political persuasion, this AARP sponsored web site urges citizens not to vote unless they are informed about what the candidates say about a given issue. Check it out.
19 Japanese Commercials

Angelina Jolie is a hot commodity in Japan. The language might be different, but you'll get the message.
One Tin Soldier

Great song. It was the theme tune for the movie "Billy Jack." Remember Billy Jack? "I really, really hate to kick your ass, but I'm gonna have to kick your ass..."
Pray For Peace

This was a hit song when it hit the airwaves during the Vietnam War. Kudos to the producer of this video, it's right on the money.
President Bush on Iraq: It's Never Been

Yesterday we were at war with Eastasia. Today, we are at war with Eurasia. We've never been at war with Eastasia. We've always been at war with Eurasia. Tomorrow, we will be at war with Eastasia. Tomorrow we will have always been at war with Eastasia...
Borat -The first 4 minutes of his Movie

Let's make a trade. Borat and his sister for Bush.

Don't Miss the Feral Hog Roast

The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance's first ever
Hill Country Round Up Party and Feral Hog Roast!
Thursday November 2, 2006 at 7 p.m.
Buy Tickets Now

Join eminent chefs from San Antonio's premier restaurants:
*Jason Dady of BIN 555
*Rene Fernandez of Azuca
*The Lodge Restaurant
*La Focaccia
*Scenic Loop Cafe & Bar
*The Barn Door Restaurant
*The Black Eyed Pea
*W.D. Deli

A delectable feast of feral hogs and other comestibles will welcome you to the stunning, verdant surroundings of the R.L. White Ranch in Helotes, the perfect combination for a relaxing, piquant evening. Delicious baguettes from Le Madeleine French Bakery and Café will compliment a harvest medley of signature dishes from Menger Catering and San Antonio's premier dining establishments for our vegetarian friends, and Marie Callender's Restaurant and Bakery will be providing decadent desserts to seal off the evening.

Our favorite microbreweries, Blue Star Brewery, Real Ale Brewing Company, and Michael Berrier of La Tuna are generously providing libations!

Festivities begin at 7 p.m. Thursday November 2, 2006

Tickets are $100 per person, and 25% off for GEAA members!

Tables and Sponsorship are available

Some of San Antonio's premier restaurants are getting involved and doing their part to raise awareness-and cooking up some good food as well. Chef Jason Dady of Bin 555, The Lodge Restaurant, Rene Fernandez of Azuca, and Scenic Loop Café & Bar are just a few of the participating chefs and restaurants. Music by Kris Kimura Quartet will keep you swinging and dancing at the R.L. White Ranch in Helotes. Expect a little bit of comedy a great deal of food and a few words or two about the aquifer. Making a difference now means we can guarantee our future generations' clean water and an aquifer that can support our growing population. To learn more about the event or for more ways you can help the GEAA visit

For more information or to make reservations, contact Rachel at 210.320.1457 or email to

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hey you, yeah you!

Go early vote. You have until November 3rd. If you can't get to the polls by then, you can always go on November 7th. Don't know where to go? All you have to do is click here and find your county. Don't know where you live? Well, then you have bigger problems. Now get your ass out the door and take a few friends with you.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mark Foley Action Figure on ebay

Click on Michael Rogers' blog on the left to see who was on the list of closeted gays in politics. Note that a high-ranking Texan (formerly a Cottonwood City district judge) was on the preliminary list that finally narrowed down to Larry Craig. Am I blabbing here? See this week's Real Time with Bill Maher for Barney Frank's discussion of gays on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, there were already six bids for the one-of-a-kind Mark Foley action doll on ebay. Check it out.

China's Immigration Policy in Action

chinese soldiers shooting tibetan pilgrims at mount everest

I know it's old news, but this is an interesting video. Is this the same China that Washington is asking to intervene in the Korean nucular crisis? Aw, forget it, CNN's advertising a "Closer Look" at Anna Nicole Smith, just so we don't have to keeping watching this creepy stuff.

Got Election Blues? Try Humor

Buster the Friendly Nuke will help you "Spread the Nuclear Love." Or try GOP 2.0 for a tutorial on computer instant messaging (or massaging, if you will). Mark Fiore will give you a good chuckle with his animated cartoons. It helps to relieve election cycle tension.

Will Diebold Determine Elections?

With election day almost here, the spectre of tampered electronic voting machines looms on the horizon. Sure, media outlets are touting a more level playing field for Democrats against the Republicans for majority seats in U.S. politics, but will that bear fruit come election day? The last time we voted, we were offered paper ballots, and we used them instead.
Once again, I'm looking forward to the voter apathy that plagues our country's political process. It dampens the feelings of disappointment in a perennially low voter turnout.
And now, a message from its sponsor: "About Diebold Election Systems

Automobiles. The printing press. The personal computer. These milestones of progress improved society forever. Now it’s democracy’s turn.

Diebold Election Systems provides accurate vote counting, extremely reliable security, and accessibility for voters.

Over 130,000 Diebold electronic voting stations are being used in locations across the United States to assist voters in exercising their most fundamental constitutional right: the right to vote.

Every vote counts. Let’s count every vote. Choose Diebold Election Systems.

Diebold takes pride in our industry leading accessibility, security and accuracy.

Access for Voters
Diebold Election Systems provides accessibility and empowerment to the widest population of voters. Voters who are visually-impaired or non-readers, and those with unique accessibility requirements are empowered to vote with independence and privacy.

Industry Leading Security
The foundation of Diebold Election Systems’ security includes several layers of physical and digital safeguards and multiple audit trails including both digital and voter-verifiable paper audit trails.

Accurate and Reliable Results
Diebold Election Systems has several methods in place to ensure election accuracy. When a voter casts their ballot using the Diebold touch screen system, the ballot selections are immediately encrypted and stored in multiple locations within the voting station, providing security and reliable redundancy."

I wonder who stands to benefit from "reliable redundancy."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Brief hello!... What I've been up to

This OnlyGrrl has been spending her evening blogging time helping her favorite candidate for public office. Pardon the plug, but I believe our BBC host will approve...

Enrique Valdivia is running for Edwards Aquifer Authority, District 7. I hope you'll spread the word far and wide!

The Edwards Aquifer Authority manages and protects the Edwards Aquifer, one of the major groundwater systems in Texas, and the sole source of drinking water for the city of San Antonio. The EAA needs smart, progressive, environmentalists to protect this vital resource from rampant development, contamination and overpumping.

Enrique is uniquely qualified to serve on this board—and with your support, he can win!

This is a non-partisan, down-ballot race where name recognition can make all the difference.

You can help in several ways:

• Forward this note to your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors!
• Blockwalk with us this weeked! Contact campaign treasurer Christel Villareal at 210-333-9437 or 210-861-5630.
• Vote for Enrique during early voting—which starts Oct 23
• Donate to the campaign! Donate using PayPal at the campaign website:, or mail it to:

Enrique Valdivia Campaign
530 Donaldson
San antonio, TX 78201

For more information, go to Enrique’s website:

Enrique Valdivia for Edwards Aquifer Authority, District 7
A Vote for the Aquifer!

Endorsed by the Sierra Club, Enrique Valdivia has demonstrated commitment to improving quality of life in your community:

• Texas attorney for over 21 years
• President, Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas (AGUA)
• President, Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA)
• President, Fuerza Unida
• Fought for your right to vote on PGA Village
• Board Member, Neighborhood Resource Center
• Board Member, JumpStart Theater
• Board Member, Texas Fund for Environmental and Economic Education

From Enrique:

“I believe my professional background and commitment to aquifer protection will help me be an effective member of the Edwards Aquifer Authority. I’ve been a public interest attorney for 21 years. My practice has primarily focused on administrative and environmental law.

“I have also been a San Antonio community activist since 1998 when I started the Esperanza Environmental Justice Project with a grant from the EPA. I served for several years on the SAWS Citizens Advisory Committee. In 2001 I help organize Save Our Aquifer, the grassroots group that fought to force a vote on the PGA Village development, and served on its executive committee. I am one of the founders of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and currently serve as President of the GEAA board. I am also President of the board of Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas.

“Of the many causes I’ve been fortunate to be part of, I am proudest of the progress of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance. Like the EAA, GEAA is a regional body with diverse membership. The GEAA board and its members operate on a consensus based decision-making model. While this type of governance has been challenging at times it has enabled GEAA to grow a diverse membership while preserving cohesion. My experience with GEAA will be especially useful if I am elected to the EAA board. An EAA director is just one vote out of seventeen. So in order to be effective a director must be able to work with and persuade other directors. With my background and disposition I believe I am up to the task.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

HemisFair '68 Guidebook on ebay

Transplanted Californian found this in the area surrounding Bakersfield, at a garage sale or something. The logo is quite familiar and somewhat endearing, as it represented a dramatic change in the downtown skyline in 1968. The monorail was one of the best part of the world's fair that year, even with the fires and the breakdowns. Too bad the city did not preserve it, or even expand it to serve the entire downtown area.
Let the bidding begin.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Rock My ebay World

We retreated and regrouped. We charged the digital camera batteries, and lined up the many items we have in inventory, and we've gone
Trouble is, it takes such a long time to upload the items.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Dope on Hill Country's Darling Boy

This fished off the Houston Democrats web site:

"Somebody's getting fired over this

Let's make it be Lamar Smith:

Immigration needs to be considered in the context of: (1). Media Bias, (2). Animosity toward the president and (3) the feelings of the Republican base."

Here's a little background on the radical right-winger representing TX-21, for those of you who may not be familiar:

a.) He's one of Tom DeLay's best buds in Congress. He has raised money for, and taken money from, the slimepit that is TRMPAC, and he donated $10,000 to La Cucaracha Grande's legal defense fund.

b.) He also came to The Federal Government's rescue by replacing a "moderate Republican" -- yes, I know it's an oxymoron -- on the House ethics committee, which we all know is the hardest working in all of Washington.

c.) Lamar Smith has been on a crusade to rid the nation of the scourge of illegal aliens since at least 1996 -- years before it became fashionable for brown people to be openly blamed for American society's ills -- when as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, he authored the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.
The Supreme Court has been busy overturning much of that legislation ever since.

Speaking of bad legislation, Lamar loves -- realllly loves -- the USA Patriot Act.

d.) Smith lists a condominium as his 21st District address, but he spends most of his time away from Washington at a $3.5 million estate on Cape Cod (apparently he prefers Massachusetts liberals as neighbors over Texans, even if both are mostly rich and Caucasian).

e.) And his goal is to become chair of the House Judiciary committee, where he's chomping at the bit to take care of those "activist judges".

The Congressman recently had a rough reception at his town hall meeting in the district, so it appears that his contituents are wising up to him.

Want to know more about the man running against him?

While this race is outside the purview of this blog's typical readership, any friend of Tom DeLay's is no friend of ours. We'd like to see him retired as much as his Bug-hole buddy, and the same goes for all the rest. Coast to coast.

Besides, they've all got lucrative careers as lobbyists waiting."

POSTSCRIPT: Visit John Courage's campaign web site, and donate.

He is running against Lamar Smith for U.S. Congress.

Harris Teaches Electronic Voting

Straight from Katherine Harris website, the following skinny on Mark Foley."

Washington, Oct 4 - U.S. Representative Katherine Harris (FL-13) today released the following statement concerning the Mark Foley matter:

“Former-U.S. Representative Mark Foley’s reported conduct is profoundly disturbing and morally reprehensible. I strongly support a swift and full investigation as to who may have been involved in covering up improper or illegal activities. We must ensure all appropriate steps are taken to protect the children who serve as Congressional pages”.

Photo above, Harris instructs child how to use Diebold electronic voting machine.

Countdown to Bush's Exit

It might help to pass the time till Bush exits the Oval Office. Of course the Countdown Clock can be reset in case of impeachment.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

PGA "Heartache" Resurfaces

One Cottonwood City councilwoman criticized a local PGA/Marriott Hotel deal that would build a 1,000-room hotel on a controversial golf course project that would include surrounding subdivisions of single-family housing; despite the fact that several years ago 100,000 people signed a petition to vote on whether they wanted this project built over a sensitive underground aquifer.
A previous city council went behind closed doors with developers and worked out a 27-year non-annexation agreement, ignoring hundreds of voices in opposition.
"I haven't changed my mind in standing strong with the issue that we shouldn't be developing out there, we should be protecting our aquifer," she admonished.
Criticism also was directed at plans to apply a 12-inch thick "clay liner" over the aquifer's recharge karst, with a closed loop irrigation system for the golf course. The local water company endorses this giant "eco-condum" despite a lack of previous experience with such an experiment on golf courses. A developer's representative claims the clay liners are commonly used to line the bottom of landfills, therefore allegedly protecting a region's groundwater from contamination.
The developers also would pass over the use of the city's well-funded and equipped fire department to protect its 1,000-room hotel and surrounding homes from fire damage. Instead, the developers would rely on a volunteer fire department to perform the task.
Furthermore, the developer wants a "force majeur" clause added to its non-annexation agreement with the city in addition to another force majeur clause in its water use agreement with the water company.
Also, a switcheroo regarding which source of water the developer would use. Instead of relying on water rights to another, more scarce water source from a small underground aquifer, they want to purchase water rights from the same aquifer used by more than a million residents of Cottonwood City. It should be noted here that the smaller aquifer tends to go dry during frequent drought periods, and is already overtaxed by wells that supply at least one exurb that lies to the north of Cottonwood City.
The developer's rep claims that if the developer switches to a single well in the larger aquifer, it would be subject to water restrictions during the many drought periods that occur in this region. If PGA/Marriott sticks to the original plan to draw water from the smaller aquifer through several wells it already owns, there would be no drought-period water restrictions. The City Council, ironically, is relying on this developer's representative to explain the science of this project, as he has represented many of the developers who routinely destroy native forests and pave over sensitive areas of this underground limestone aquifer.
One citizen critic pointed out that this development already lies within a heavily developed area that includes residents who are vehemently fighting the construction of toll roads.
It's interesting that the "toll party" that has gotten involved in statewide politics were not standing at the podium during the public comment segment of this agenda item that was presented to the council today.
The entire matter might be moot, as developers are predicted to override any council decision that does not favor them during the next session of the legislature.
This is a half-billion dollar project for PGA/Marriott, and they obviously would not be expected to adhere to the will of 100,000 petition signers who opposed this project when it first was proposed.
An environmental watchdog organization, Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas, has steadfastly opposed this golf course/hotel/subdivision project.
The city council decision is pending at the time of this post - although I predict at least a 7-4 vote in favor of the developers.

POSTSCRIPT: A few minutes after this was posted on Thursday, individual council members made speeches about why they were disappointed that the PGA developers were bringing this deal back to council, but that they were voting for it anyway because it was good for the economic vitality of the city.
The mayor consulted the city attorney, the CEO of the water supply company, and the developer's engiineer. He asked them if the project would affect the city's water supply. They of course assured him it was an environmentally safe project. Therefore the mayor voted in favor of the new contract.
The Council's three female members voted against the proposal. In the end, the council voted 8-3 to give the PGA developers more time to build the golf course and the hotel. The environment takes a back seat to developers in Cottonwood City; in the final tally, it's the citizens who will suffer when their water source gets too polluted for human consumption.

Cibolo Runs Speed Trap Scam

We dropped off our car for a brake job at Michael G's Garage in Cibolo this past week. They do a great job on autos, without milking their customers. Over the past few years we've spent a couple thousand to have these top notch, honest mechanics keep our vehicles in top running condition.
So we're driving along Main Street in Cibolo in my pickup truck. I braked carefully down to 20 mph to account for the school zone. And there's a Cibolo police patrol car parked sideways across a side street. Main Street in Cibolo, it should be noted, is little more than a roller coaster of a street, which may account for the enthusiasm the cops have for issuing citations - they need money to repair this poorly maintained roadway.
I noticed my inspection sticker was expired, and had been expired since July.
I told the cop we were headed to the garage, where our car had been repaired and inspected, and that we would get the truck inspected.
He issued a ticket anyway. I got the truck inspected and went straightaway to Cibolo City Hall, to the municipal court window.
"You're inspection sticker was expired more than 60 days," replied the woman at the window. You'll have to pay the full amount.
Yes, this was my fault. If the sticker had been expired for less than 60 days, I would have gotten away with a $10 fine. But I have to pay $145, plus another $25 for citation issued in a school zone.
I'm going to pay the ticket. But I'm also going to stop taking our cars to Michael G's garage. We will no longer buy barbecue at Harmon's Barbecue.
In short, we will no longer do any business in Cibolo, or spend any money that might end up in city coffers.
We refuse to patronize any businesses in Cibolo, and I will warn anyone who will listen to stay away from Cibolo. In my opinion, the speed trap on FM 78 and the police entrapment zone on Cibolo's Main Street is nothing less than a scam on motorists perpetrated to loosen money from their wallets, with no exceptions made in any instance. I told that cop we were headed straight for the garage, but apparently his marching orders are to extort anything he can get.
In my opinion, Cibolo is left with short shrift because the money we would spend in the future on auto repairs or patronizing Cibolo businesses would amount to much more than the cost of the traffic fine.
Cibolo police patrols also frequent the portion of FM 78 that runs through this little town. The 50 mph speed limit is strictly enforced. Motorists in Guadalupe and surrounding counties should avoid this suburb like the plague.
The David Zucker Albright Ad

Ouch. The Anti-Bill Clinton faction is stewing over this one. Nasty election cycle. Nasty ... nasty ... NASTY.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My "Furry Friday" Contribution


Bloggers here celebrate "Furry Fridays" every week. They haven't let me in on the joke. But here's a pathetic attempt to get the jump on this week's Furry Friday. Am I on the right track here?
Yo quiero Taco Bell...Really, I do, but they're closed right now.

My Next Job? Truck Driver!

I've worked at many jobs in my life. Most recently, I was proprietor of the Banned Books Cafe, which is now an online cafe. We'll put up links to what we're doing online very soon. Before that I was a newspaper reporter. Before that I went to school full time and worked in the Home Depot garden department, selling truckloads of peat moss to gullible customers. Before that I was a newspaper editor, but that was sheer hell, so I went back to school. Before that I worked for a hospital system, in the PR department, where I built their corporate web site, which they've since torn down. Before that I worked in a print shop, and printed up business cards for my carpet cleaning business. Before that ... I was a proofreader for a publishing company in Austin. Before that I was a newspaper editor, but I got tired of the publisher's mission to print only "positive" news.

One of these days I'll try to list all the jobs I've had in my life.

But today, I decided to become a truck driver. Now I have to come up with the cash for truck driving school ... actually I have to just come up with cash.

But there's trucking companies who will hire you to drive for them and will pay your truck driving school tuition. Not cheap, one local college charges $4,000. So I'll try to get hired on with a company that will pay my tuition in exchange for driving for them for a couple of years.

Now all I've got to figure out is which company I want to drive for, and if I want to drive south to north, west to east, up or down.

I wonder how it's all going to work out, at this point.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Whiskey Sam Introduces Will Pryor

Burnt Orange Report diarist Whiskey Sam believes that if Dallas exurbanite Democrats would stop cowering in the hedges during the upcoming election, then corrupt
Congressman Pete Sessions would go down in flames:

"The history of the 32nd Congressional District in Texas is well-known by now. In 2003 Tom DeLay’s redistricting efforts focused on marginalizing the political career of Martin Frost, who had served Texas as a faithful Democrat for 26 years. DeLay marginalized Frost’s old district by splitting it up, marginalizing the African-American vote and incorporating part of the district into Smokey Joe Barton’s district.

Unfortunately, DeLay’s gambit paid off. In 2004, Martin Frost moved to the new 32nd Congressional District and took Pete Sessions on in one of the most expensive Congressional races in United States history. Both sides spent over $4 million in a fight for this computer-drawn, pro-Republican district that incorporates most of WASP Dallas; including Highland Park – the former home for both Bush and Cheney.

Ultimately, Martin Frost received 44%of the vote, and the DeLay redistricting scheme had one of its four victims. Two of the other DeLay victims, Nick Lampson and Chris Bell, are both figuring heavily into Texas politics this year.

Which brings us to Will Pryor.

Will is a traditional Texas Democrat, which means that he believes that Texas belongs to all Texans, and that the government owes an obligation to its citizens to spend their money effectively – with minimal waste. He is the son of a Presbyterian Minister, and his roots to the 32nd District go back to his childhood.

Mr. Pryor attended Yale as an undergrad, and was the Captain and MVP of the Yale Baseball Team (a distinction he shares with George H.W. Bush). Following undergrad, he attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1981.

Will has been honored by local publications for his advocacy and skills as an attorney, but service remains his calling. In the 1980s, Will was one of the co-founders of the South Dallas Legal Clinic, a clinic providing legal services to those in need free of charge. Will met his wife, Ellen, during this time when they were both providing volunteer legal services for the indigent in the Dallas area. Ellen later became a Professor of Law at Southern Methodist University, where she emphasized to many a law student (myself included) the importance of not losing perspective of faith, service and community during the stress of law study and practice.

In the coming days, I intend to list the reasons why I think Will Pryor can do what Martin Frost could not. To many this race appears quixotic….a nice race with no chance of change. To the doubters’ credit, there is probably a good reason to think this is so. The 2006 race in the 32nd does not have the firepower that the Frost/Sessions race had in 2004, and accordingly, Pryor’s campaign is working on a fraction of the warchest Frost had. Additionally, Martin Frost spent over four million dollars and came away with only 44% of the vote.

However, this is a different year with different attitudes. Will Pryor is a fiscal conservative with the kind of drive towards lifelong service and altruism that you cannot fake, or dress up for a political campaign. Pete Sessions is a Conservative who is corrupt to the core, recently being named one of the most corrupt members of the 109th Congress by The Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.

I asked my wife tonight if those 44% who voted for Martin Frost in 2004 would view the last two years of Republican failure and decide that they should vote for Pete Sessions this year. The question is laughable… but the converse is not. This race is not about converting half of the would-be Sessions voters to Pryor voters. This race is about reaching out to those 6% of Sessions voters who have seen the last two years of corruption, of ties to Abramoff, and the utter lack of any real commitment from their representative in Washington, and presenting those voters with a moral candidate who lives his faith through service to his community.

The conventional wisdom in this race is that the 32nd District belongs to Sessions. I refuse to believe that this is true."