September 30, 2005

New Word of the Day

So anyway, I was doing a crossword puzzle on my way to work this morning. My morning paper has two crossword puzzles in it. One is somewhat challenging; the other is insultingly easy. When I got stuck on the challenging one, and I would be at my stop in less than ten minutes, I opted to solve the insultingly easy one.

This is the NEA Crossword Puzzle. It's not just that it has a lot of common words (no fun with puns allowed!), and a generous smattering of those words that seem to show up in every other puzzle you come across, it's that it's devoid of creative clue-giving. F'rinstance: The word is "JOAN". A clever clue might be "Rivers running at the mouth". But the NEA clue? "Singer Baez". Or, the word is "GLASS". A tricky clue might be "It might be painted". The NEA clue? "Beverage holder".

So, I was storming my way through the NEA puzzle when I came to the clue "Trinket". I was about to write BAUBLE, but figured I'd get a crossword or two in just to be sure.

I worked out all the crosswords. They fit like spoons in a kitchen drawer, but the word for "trinket" looked like nonsense: "GEWGAW". What the huh? I must've made a mistake somewhere. Nope. Everything's what it just has to be. But it can't be! What the @#$% is this GEWGAW?!

So, when I got to work I grabbed my trusty American Heritage paperback dictionary. Sho' 'nuff, there it is.

gew-gaw (gyoo'go') n. A trinket; bauble. [Orig. unknown.]

I must've solved thousands of crossword puzzles over the years and years. Leave it to the angeringly insulting NEA to be the first that I've seen with gewgaw in it.

Can a word be allowed to be a word when nobody uses says it?



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September 29, 2005

Whatever happened to the Broadway play?

It used to be that you could go a Broadway theater to see a play. Oh, you can still go to Broadway, but finding a play to see has become like looking for a turntable for your stereo system. According to the Connecticut Post, this is what's currently playing:

AVENUE Q: Love blossoms among the twentysomething set -- a group that includes puppets -- in this very funny, adult musical...
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: ['nuff said]
CHICAGO: An entertaining revival of the Bob Fosse musical...
CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG: The hit London musical...
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS: John Lithgow and Norbert Leo Butz star in a musical...
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: A lavish, loving revival of the classic Bock-Harnick and Robbins musical...
HAIRSPRAY: The cult John Waters movie set in 1960s Baltimore has been turned into a hilarious, tuneful musical...
IN MY LIFE: He's a musician with Tourette's syndrome; she's a journalist with obsessive compulsive disorder. Then they fall in love. A new musical...
MAMMA MIA!: The London musical...
MOVIN' OUT: Songs by Billy Joel. Choreography by Twyla Tharp. A dance musical...
RENT: Jonathan Larson's touching and now nostalgic look at struggling artists in New York's East Village. Lossely based on Puccini's opera "La Boheme".
[I have no idea if Rent is a musical or a play. But it's based on an opera, which makes me nervous. Bueller?]
SWEET CHARITY: Christina Applegate stars as the taxi dancer with a heart of gold in a revival of the Cy Coleman - Dorothy Fields - Neil Simon musical...
THE 25TH ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE: A sweet-tempered, often hilarious new musical...
THE LION KING: ['nuff said.]
THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA: The one with the chandelier. The Andrew Lloyd Weber musical...
THE PRODUCERS: A riotous stage version of the Mel Brooks movie. The musical...
WICKED: An ambitious if problematic new musical...

The most interesting one to reproduce in full is the Monty Python's Spamalot piece:

A musical inspired by that dememnted film comedy, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." The cast includes David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and Alan Tudyk. Winner of three 2005 Tony Awards, including best musical. Shubert. Telecharge. Difficult.

There are three other show listed that I didn't include. None of them include the word "musical", but they're all listed as "Now in previews" -- which I assume means that they're almost ready to open the doors, but you can buy your tickets now.
All three are comedies: A Naked Girl on the Appian Way, Absurd Person Singular and Latinologues. (Latinologues is directed by Cheech Marin :))

So, there ya have it. Plays just aren't en vogue on Broadway. You could see the writing on the wall when 42nd Street took over and then A Chorus Line ran a thousand years. Then Annie, Evita and later Cats and then Phantom of the Opera and the list goes on and on. Maybe there's just not enough money to be made in putting on a play anymore.

I guess the play-form is best suited to film nowadays. I mean, when's the last time a musical was a hit at the movies? The film versions of Annie and Evita tanked. And don't get me started on how much The Birdcage sucked, no matter how many people seemed to think it was good. Face it -- the thing had no story to tell. It was just an excuse for Robin Williams and Nathan Lane to camp it up ad absurdum. I walked out half-way through. (Well, I didn't pay for a ticket. It was on A&E last Christmas and it was about time to be heading home anyway.)

Let's get some actual plays back on Broadway, huh?!

Well --- there's always New Haven...

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September 28, 2005

Category: Physics

Question: What is energy?

[I'm not just being flippant here. I'm working on a post that, I fear, is impossible to finish the way I want to finish it. So, in the name of getting to the bottom of this whole "intelligent design" thang, any thoughtful comments will be greatly appreciated!]

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September 26, 2005

New London's Burning

What with the Scorsese Dylan documentary airing part 1 tonight on PBS, I figured I'd have yet another evening of non-posting. But, I got home a little early tonight so I figure I'll throw together this one.

I read this in the Connecticut Post this morning:

New London may dissolve agency in land debate
NEW LONDON (AP) -- The decison by New London officials to take back control of the development project at the center of a national debate over eminent domain has raised questions over how that will be done.

Well, well, well. The prime defenders (other than the development agency, of course) of New London's land grab are reconsidering. What brought this on?
On Tuesday, the New London City Council voted unanimously to express no confidence in the development authority. It ordered the corporation to dismiss it's president and chief operating officer, and threatened to dissolve the agency within a week if it did not do so."

Why, you wonder? That's cuz the AP wrote this story a little bit backwards.
The vote came after the corporation angered state and local officials by sending orders to vacate to five Fort Trumbull residents living on property being seized for a hotel and office space.

The corporation rescinded the notices under pressure by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. State officials had asked municipalities to hold off on property seizures until the legislature considers changing the state's eminent domain laws in light of the Supreme Court ruling."

Translation: Everyone's pissed about Kelo and "the corporation" -- a quasi-public development authority -- pushed the wrong buttons when they tried to expidite evictions when everyone else is fuming. Even the old supporters of the project were left with a bad taste in their mouths.

Oh, and the more I get to know my new Governor, the more I just love Jodi Rell.

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September 25, 2005

In Search of... Inspiration

After a week of not posting I was determined -- de-frickin'-termined, I tells ya -- to find inspiration for a post.

I searched the web for news stories; went to a bunch of instalinks; read the big bloggers and some little ones, too; looked up columns to fisk by people like Jonathan Alter and Helen Thomas. Nothin'.

So, I decided to pop in an old CD I made a few years ago. If I can't be inspired by anything on the entire worldwide web, maybe I'll just relax and reaquaint myself with some old music. The CD I popped in is one of hit singles from '76-'77.

Aaah, that's better. First song was Welcome Back by John Sebastian, followed by Boston's Peace Of Mind. I've heard Telephone Line by ELO, Kenny Rogers' Lucille, We Just Disagree by Dave Mason and just finished listening to Bette Midler's You're Moving Out Today. Now playing is Rose Royce's I Wanna Get Next To You. Good tunes for a lazy, cool, slightly breezy Sunday afternoon.

Oh, my, now it's Paul McCartney's live version of Maybe I'm Amazed!

Shoot. Half a jar of salsa left and I'm out of chips. bbl.

UPDATE: Jay Ferguson's Thunder Island! "She was the color of the Indian summer..." I'm just lovin' this CD. :)

UPDATE2: Uh-oh. Ronnie McDowell's The King Is Gone -- how'd THAT sneak in? Aaah, Bloat On by Cheech & Chong, that's better!

UPDATE3: It's A Heartache! Can Bonnie Tyler sing or what?! "Ya love him 'til yer arms break and then he lets ya down..."

OMG, Nick Gilder?! Let's fast forward, shall we? Warren Zevon Werewolves of London! Sweeeeet. That's the final track on this CD. Next one in is hits from '79-'82. More memories to come...

UPDATE4: Logical Song, I Don't Like Mondays, Love On The Rocks, The Tide Is High, Bette Davis Eyes, Bad To The Bone... Oh, I'm singin' at the top of my lungs now...

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September 18, 2005

I scream cones and holy war

Just read a post and comments over at Emperor Misha's about a story written here. More details here.


Burger King is to withdraw thousands of ice-cream cones because the design on the packaging resembles the Arab word for Allah.

The company has acted after the coincidence was spotted by a Muslim customer, Rashad Akhtar, at its Park Royal outlet last week (6), who later telephoned its head office to say that the packaging was sacrilegious.

The Muslim Council of Britain has backed the change.

A statement by Burger King (BK) to Eastern Eye said: "The design on the lids of our cones represents a spinning ice-cream cone.

"However, as a result of the feedback we have received, our supplier is amending the lid design."

The US fast-food giant said it would withdraw the packaging in "the near future" once an alternative has been designed.

But the action has failed to satisfy Akhtar, who wants the designer sacked and is calling on Muslims to boycott the fast-food company.

Akhtar, 27, of High Wycombe, who is married and a business development manager, said: "Them [BK] recalling this product is not sufficient. It should be taken away from the stores now.

"I have had no correspondence from Burger King.

"These people who have designed this think they can get away with this again and again. This is my jihad.

"How can you say it is a spinning swirl? If you spin it one way ? to the right, you are offending Muslims.

"I ordered my food and then got talking to a worker, a French guy.

"He asked me: 'Are you Muslim?'

"He showed me the cone.

"I felt humiliated."

The design change is likely to cost Burger King a lot of money. Even the small restaurants, such as in Whitechapel Road, order about 80 ice cream packages a week.

MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said: "It is true that seen from a certain angle, the design on the BK ice cream lid could be read as closely resembling the word Allah in Arabic.

"We commend the sensitive and prompt action BK have taken to prevent any hurt being caused to the religious sensibilities of others by this."

It is not the first time Burger King has upset Muslims. In 1999, several Islamic organisations called for a worldwide boycott after the chain opened an eatery in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, considered by Palestinians to be illegally occupied territory.

Just for the curious, here is the Arabic word for Allah:


And here is the controversial Burger King ice cream cone lid, turned 90+ degrees counter-clockwise:


Is this controversy about something, or is it a lot of nothing? I report. You decide.

Extra credit: Compare and contrast this brouhaha with the outrage over the Flight 93 "crescent of embrace" memorial -- and the announcement of it's redesign. How is it similar? How is it different? Discuss...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:55 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 17, 2005

Waldorf Salad, Where Have You Been All My Life?

So anyway, while operating heavy machinery and daydreaming the other day, my thoughts turned to Fawlty Towers. Among the far too few episodes is one where an American and his English bride stay at the hotel. The American is, of course, dissatisfied with Basil's operation for many reasons -- one of which is that Basil doesn't know how to fix a Waldorf Salad.

The American has to repeatedly remind Basil of what's in the salad. "Oh for... Apples, walnuts...! Celery, grapes...! In a mayonaise sauce...!" I have to say, the thing didn't sound very appetizing.

But, last night, I did some googling to find out how to make a Waldorf Salad. There is, I was quick to discover, not one recipe, but many variations on the original. The original recipe was invented in the 1890s by the maitre d' of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and included only diced apples, chopped celery and mayonaise, and it was instant hit. Walnuts were added soon after, and grapes soon after that.

I read a few variations of Waldorf Salads last night. There were ingredients that sounded good, and some that I could do without. So, I made a list of ingredients that I liked and went shopping this afternoon. About an hour ago I made a Waldorf Salad. Oh, my. This is good.

Now, mind you, all I've had so far is a small room-temperature sample. The bulk of the mix is chillin' in the fridge for later. I didn't write down exactly how much of each ingredient I used, but that's okay. If memory serves, here's how a bowl of my version of Waldorf Salad ended up in the fridge:

I soaked a handful of raisins in some warm water to puff 'em up.

I mized about four tablespoons of mayonaise just a some sugar (maybe a tsp), a few dashes of cinnimon, some lemon juice that was squeezed from two thin wedges, and some pineapple juice that sat in the bowl after I'd cut a pineapple ring in it. (The pineapple juice was an unintetional ingredient, but so what.)

I cut a small Fugi apple into bit sized pieces -- say, half-inch squares. (The lemon juice in the mayo is supposed to keep the apples from turning brown, I hear.)

I, as I mentioned, cut up one canned pinapple ring into bite-sized pieces.

I took about 15 green seedless grapes and cut them in half lengthwise.

I chopped one stalk of celery. First I split it lengthwise, then I chopped it crosswise every 1/4 to 1/2 inch.

I used about a half of a small bag of chopped walnuts -- the little snack bags that cost about $1.50.

Then, just because I could, I grabbed a small handful of mini marshmellows. The ones I used were actually four-colored and four-flavored mixed together. The pink ones are cherry, the green ones are lime, the yellow ones are lemon and the orange ones are orange. flavored.

I threw the apples, raisins, grapes, walnuts, celery and pineapple into a bowl and dumped in the mayonaise sauce. Stirred it up good. There should only be enough mayo to coat the fruits and nuts. This is one yummy snack I tells ya.

Traditionally, this is supposed to be served over a bed of soft lettuce. And, from what I can taste, lettuce would be a perfect way to finish this off. But, I don't have any lettuce so I just ate it off a plate. I've never been much of a fan of walnuts, but walnuts & mayo, along with everything else, are an outstanding combo.

The bowl should be chilled about know. I think I'll be having some more soon. Aw, hell, I'm having some now...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 05:58 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

it's Constitution Day.... and one "teacher" ain't too happy about it

I sat a bit slack-jawed after reading a letter-to-the-editor of the Connecticut Post yesterday. A local school teacher described how teary-eyed she became as she watched some improptu 9-11 rememberences in her neighborhood last Sunday. Then she made a clumsy segue into her opinion about Constitution Day, when all schools that receive federal funding are required to spend time teaching about the document that is the foundation of our Law.

After having spent the first half of the letter presenting her I-love-America bona fides, she wrote an astounding missive about why she thinks Constitution Day is a bad idea.

Here's the second half of her letter:

I can't think of much that is less in the spirit of the Constitution than a mandate that the Constitution be taught.
I love our Constitution. Many, many times during a year I am grateful for the protections it provides and the beacon of freedom that it represents. But our strength as a nation resides in our freedom to believe, to think for ourselves.
As a teacher, I already am unhappy with the No Child Left Behind law, which I believe leads to curricula and teaching methods often not in children's best interests. This newest addition, Constitution Day, follows the same path.
What's next, a requirement that intelligent design be taught everywhere on Feb. 12, Charles Darwin's birthday? Once you begin down this slippery slope, where do you stop?


Oookay, let's see if I got this straight.

The students' country's Constitution should not be made a part of their school's curriculum because we are a free people, and people who are free to think for themselves shouldn't have their minds cluttered with an education about the foundations of their freedoms. This is not in their best interests because teaching about the U.S. Constitution in U.S. schools is like teaching intelligent design theory on the birthday of the originator of the theory of evolution.

And requiring that students be taught to add, subtract, multiply and divide may lead to an indoctrination into numerology, Euclidian geometry and the pledge of allegience.

Got it.

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Oh crap

I just realized that I left a bag on the bus this morning. It contains, among other things, my checkbook. I deserve to be shot.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 11:33 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005


After I lit a cigarette I looked at the warning label stuck to the side of my lighter and recalled that BIC recently announced that it was going out of the pen and disposable shaver biz and would, henceforth, concentrate on their line of lighters.

Seems to me -- if the trend holds true -- that people will be smoking less in the future. People wont be shavcing less or writing lesser enough to warrant giving up on their (BIC's) line of shavers and pens.

Is the decision to concentrate on cigarette lighters a suicidal decision by the current board of a long-lasted nationally-known corporatation?


UPDATE: Either the news story I read was wrong or I read it wrong. Seems that, according to StMack in the comments, BIC isn't going out of the pen and shaver business, they are merely moving those particular manufacturing facilities overseas.

I hope that this doesn't mean that BIC lighters will suddenly be of a quality like those el cheapo lighters. Sure, they may cost about a third less at the register, but their sparkwheel assemblies break into pieces while you've still got half of the butane in the dang things.


I oughta get paid for this rediculously fluid post...

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September 12, 2005

Take me out to the ball game...

I read this AP item in the New York Post today while on my commute home tonight. In it's entirety:

Shift in gulf area political balance
WASHINGTON -- Hurricane Katrina could also change the Gulf Coast's political landscape.
The early thinking from political consultants is that the evacuees least likely to return to Louisiana may be the poorest -- and thus, Democrats for the most part. That would hurt the party in a state where Republicans already were making inroads.
If most of those leaving settle in Texas, that could help Democrats there, the consultants said.

Hmmm. Notice how the possible political shift is described in terms of whether it hurts or helps the Democratic party, but not the Republican party. This is how sports fans talk about the home team.

Okay, okay, no one's surprised, I know.

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September 11, 2005


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September 10, 2005

Broken Down on the shoulder of the information superhighway

I have no idea how it happened, but, as of earlier this week, most of my daily reads come up "Page Cannot Be Displayed". I've tried everything I know to fix the problem to no avail which means, yep, reformatting time! **sigh** So much for my collection of My Documents.

But, today I've got a party to go to. My landlady wants me to bring my guitar over and play some songs. I haven't picked up that guitar since the last time I was on her porch: July 4th, 2004. Hope I'm not too rusty. Hope my strings aren't too rusty.

I should be back to some semblence of normalcy tomorrow afternoon. Gawd, I hate reinstalling all my nifty programs. Boo hoo. Ah, well. Who am I to complain? It's not like my house isn't under water or anything.

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September 06, 2005

The Blame Game... okay, I'm in for 2¢

It seemed like so much bad taste and pettiness was vented in the days immediately after Katrina hit New Orleans. The devastation in Gulfport, Biloxi and many other cities and towns was more severe, yet the media focused on Louisiana and her tantrum-throwing executives.

Not wanting to get into the blame game, I've been pretty silent all week about all things Katrina. Other blogs have been doing a great job of reporting the facts and fallacies, the timeline and the anarchy. I just wanna say this: As far as I'm concerned the blame lies in the astounding lack of leadership in New Orleans. And I don't mean just in the several days before Katrina came ashore, I mean in the decades before Katrina came ashore.

Ever since I was in junior high school I knew that New Orleans was a valley on the coast below sea level. I knew that it was protected from flooding by mad-made levees. I also knew that there was concern about keeping those levees strong and maintained. Mayor Nagin and everyone else can cry all they want about federal funds that were requested and never granted, and maybe they have a point. But, the thing that makes me furious is that, in all of the concern about the levees ability to withstand a category 4 or 5 hurricane, in all the decades that that concern was being aired and re-evaluated, no past or present administration in the Big Easy ever put an evacuation plan together. The mother of all hurricanes was a day or two away and they Had. No. Plan.

Mandatory evacution was ordered with no procedure in place to evacuate the hundreds of thousands with access only to public transportation. Hundreds of school buses sitting in parking lots for days after the evacuation orders were given. I don't know how long Mister Nagin has been mayor of New Orleans, but I'm sure he feels betrayed by his predecessors at least as much, if not more, as by his counterparts at the state and federal levels of government. At least he should.

A simple bit of foresight; a contingency plan: if that, then this. If the Big One is coming, then the buses will roll. Just a plan, that's all. But no one ever drew one up. As some other blogger wrote (don't remember who, sorry): "It seems they hoped for the best and planned for...well...the best."

The people of New Orleans who had no way of evacuating -- and who had to row or wade through flooded historic streets, pushing floating bodies aside -- have every right to be furious at their own elected officials and their appointees. Their government didn't drop the ball, they couldn't have, because they never even reached for it.

But, even without a plan in place, there was plenty that the current administration could have done. The NOPD chief said something to the effect of "There's going to be a time during and after the storm when we'll just have to say to the people, 'well... you're on your own'.."
This is leadership?! How about "There's going to be a time in the next 48 hours when we'll have to say to the people 'the bus is at the curb and get your ass on board'..."?!

But me point is that they shouldn't have had to wing it when the threat became imminent.
Those who never bothered to figure out a way to deal with the "disaster waiting to happen" need to be shipped to Siberia. Or Alaska. Or the Superdome. Hey, there's a plan...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 09:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 05, 2005

Is it me or is half the blogosphere down?

I can't reach Misha, Michelle Malkin, Hold the Mayo, Rocket Jones or Practical Penumbra. A host of other sites have also come up "page cannot be displayed". Hmmm...

Posted by Tuning Spork at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bill Whittle's got a new one and he's pi-i-i-i-ssed!

He said he was going to put up DENIAL next. Apparantly it wasn't working yet, so Bill went back to an idea he gave up on some time ago. So ye may now go forth and read TRIBES!

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September 03, 2005

The things you learn about the people you thought you knew...

[The beauty of being an anonymous blogger is that you're free to air your family's dirty laundry. My problem is that I'm only a semi-anonymous blogger. There are at least two or three freinds and family members who might read this post, so I have to be careful about what I write. On the other hand, the two family members -- Sister the Elder and Sister the Younger -- know pretty much all of what I might write already. That being said, onto today's post......]

So anyway, I was standing outside the hall where my cousin's wedding reception was going along at full steam and talking to a few close (and not so close) relatives. We were discussing a certain "problem" that had arisen. But that's another story.

One gathered in the group was my cousin Lisa. I think this was only the second time since the mid-'70s that Lisa and I had been at the same gathering. (When I was in my early teens she was just a wee lass playing with the other wee lassies on my aunt Dorothy's backyard lawn.)

Later in the evening Lisa asked me in passing if I was ready for another cigarette. I said "sure" and outside we went. The more we talked the more I realized how pretty she was. Maybe it was because she was so fun to talk to. She mentioned listening to the Clash when she was a teenager. Hmmm. "We're not THAT closely related," I thought. I'm not even sure exactly how we're related, but her last name tells me that we are.

I wondered why each of the times we'd been at the same family reunion, she was alone. Such a pretty gal, so vivacious and witty. Why is she always alone?

Even later in the evening she passed me a note. It was her phone number. She asked me if I would pass it along to my younger sister. I said that, of course, I would. That was one week ago tonight.

This afternoon I finally phoned Sister the Younger to give her Lisa's number.

"Everytime, just after I talk to her," Sister the Younger said, "I remember why I didn't want to phone her."
"Oh? And why is that?" I inquired.

Whelp... It seems that dear Lisa spent five years in prison for killing her husband and/or boyfriend because of some "abuse" he'd meted out to Lisa's now 17-yr-old daughter.

Given what Sister the Younger told me this afternoon, it's likely that Lisa says, early on, to any potential boyfriends something along the lines of "Before we go any further there's something that you should know about me..." Yep. I can see how that might explain why she always shows up to these functions alone.

Part of me wants to say that Lisa did the right thing. The bastard deserved it.
But a bigger part of me says that there are better ways to handle an abusive situation. Friend and former co-worker Lawruh was in one and got out in the middle of the night with her two boys -- the younger being not much more than an infant at the time -- and went to a shelter. She had no contact with her husband for ten years.

Lisa chose her solution and paid for that choice. A small part of me wants to pat her on the back. The rest of me wants to remember that a rage that can allow what she did to happen is a rage not welcome to my world. There is a way to level-headedly plan a solution rather than to bull-headly, violently erase the problem.

Sister the Younger has a different perspective than cousin Lisa. But I wont get into that as I'm only a semi-anymous blogger and I think I'll need permission to get into this any further.

I'm not reading anything more about what's going on in the lost city of New Orleans. Humanity can't surprise me anymore. By choice.

I predict that there will be no comments to this post. Well understood.

Posted by Tuning Spork at 07:33 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack
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