Monday, February 27th, 2017

I ate a whole package of Oreos once, just to see if I could. Which was silly. Of course I could. Anybody could. The question is, should you? And the answer is, not unless you like feeling sick as a dog for the rest of the day.

I don’t, but it’s not like that’s the only time I’ve done something like that, sad to say. Do you remember those malted milk balls that came in a quart-sized milk carton? I don’t remember how much that thing weight, but I ate a whole carton of those once. I think that was before the Oreos incident. I ate the Oreos when I was on my first tour of duty in the Air Force. The malted milk balls were much earlier, probably when I was still in high school. I ate a lot of junk in high school. Everybody did, right?

And once I drank a six-pack of Mountain Dew in one afternoon, again just for the experience. I lived in a very small town. There wasn’t a lot to do. I remember finishing that first can and thinking, “Hey, I could go for another one.” And when I finished the second can I thought, “I could have one more.” After the third can, I couldn’t tell you what I was thinking, other than maybe, “I feel stupid enough to drink the rest.” I can tell you that the buzz I got from drinking six cans of Mountain Dew is not something I ever want to experience again.

The stomach ache, though, apparently was something I wanted to experience over and over, because the malted milk balls and the Oreos came after. I haven’t repeated either of those experiences, but I was thinking about this today because I recently discovered that a nearby grocery store sells dark chocolate malted milk balls in the bulk aisle, and they are sooo good! I have to be careful to buy only a small handful at a time, because once I start eating them, I don’t stop until my stomach hurts, which is probably not the most healthy thing for me, or anybody else, for that matter.

insanity | 7:21 pm CDT
Category: food & drink, random idiocy, story time
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Sunday, February 26th, 2017

My Darling B and I went on a cruise about this time last year that went to the Bahamas from Florida. We had such a great time; it was the perfect time of year to get out of the frozen north for a week and relax in the sun on a cruise ship with a fruity drink. We’re really missing that now, partly because it’s been a year since we’ve had time off from work and the office has been a little crazy lately, but mostly because it’s a themed cruise that takes place every year, and they’re all headed off to San Diego right now. We know this because we joined their Facebook group last year, and we’re seeing all their posts as they get packed up, meet their planes and fly off to meet at the port. I think I have a pretty good idea now how the cats feel when I dangle a treat over their heads.

Coincidentally, that same themed cruise started taking reservations yesterday for next year’s cruise. My Darling B saw the announcement on Facebook at about the same time and sent it to me with the message, “We’ve got to talk about this tonight.”

I immediately went to talk to her about it.

“What’s there to talk about,” I asked, “besides how much we put in the piggy bank every month?” After a few quick calculations based on the amount of money we spent last year, we decided we could save enough to pay for the cruise, airfare and whatnot if we started saving up right now.

That’s if we could get a reservation. The cruise has become hugely popular. What started out as a couple hundred people turned into a group so large that this year they took over an entire cruise ship, the MV Westerdam, with room enough for 1,900 people to cruise in style. Next year they’re going to book the MV Oosterdam, a sister ship to the Westerdam, so I can only assume the cruise is as popular as ever.

Lucky for us, we’re on their mailing list, so we got invited as soon as their website was up and ready to accept reservations. I just happened to be sitting at my laptop, searching the website for any crumbs of information about next year’s cruise, when I got the email, which even came with a helpful link to the reservation page. Even so, the least expensive rooms were all gone when I got there. We got a reservation for a next-to-cheapest room, so come this time next year we’ll be off to San Diego!

booked | 7:47 am CDT
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We’re back to sub-freezing temperatures and snow after a week and a half of temps in the high sixties that melted all the snow and ice and made the little birdies come out and sing. They must be so pissed right now. I’m not liking it much, either, to be brutally frank, but then I was never under the delusion that the February heat wave was going to persist. Maybe in fifty years, but not yet.

The transition from spring-like weather back to standard February winter weather was a rough one. Sunny skies gave way to mean-looking iron-colored clouds that started to rain Thursday evening. I woke with a start in the very early morning Friday to the sound of what I thought at first had to be a natural gas explosion and laid there wide-eyed, wondering whose house was just blown to matchsticks. While I was waiting for my heart to slow down, there was a flash and another bang.

“Holy shit, that was close!” I thought. “I hope our house isn’t next.”

After the third flash and bang I started to wonder: Is that lightning and thunder? Turned out it was, or at least I think it had to be, because I didn’t hear any reports in the news the next day of dozens of houses or anything else spontaneously exploding. It was the most bizarre thunder I’ve ever heard. There was no rumbling before or after, just a hard, loud bang, like the fireworks that make noise but no sparklies.

artillery | 7:00 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Saturday, February 25th, 2017

What’s the word for that irrational feeling that nobody should use the toilet for at least 15 minutes after you finish cleaning it? And is it the same word for the urge to kick the cat when he shits in the cat box right after you rake it? There’s got to be a word for that. Besides “crazy.” That’s too easy.

what is word | 10:16 am CDT
Category: random idiocy
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My eyeglasses are the best cat toy our kitten has ever played with. If I’m sitting anywhere in the living room, I can’t set them down for a minute and he’s there, swatting them to the floor so he can chase them around.

I spent ten minutes looking for my glasses the other day before the light bulb went on and I got down on my knees so I could look under the sofa. There they were, way back against the wall all tangled up with the dust bunnies.

And it’s only my eyeglasses. My Darling B can leave her glasses lying around any old place. He won’t touch hers. Tell me how that’s fair.

cat toy | 5:25 am CDT
Category: daily drivel
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Friday, February 24th, 2017

I’m going to miss my smoothie this morning. We were all out of vanilla soy milk, one of the ingredients we really can’t do without. This happened last Friday, too. There was maybe half a cup of soy milk left, so I stretched it with water. The results were, ah, not good, so I didn’t even go there today. We’ll have to lay in a more generous supply of soy milk when we go shopping this weekend because without my morning smoothie, I’m not a very happy camper. I’m not, say, suicidally depressed about the loss, it’s just that I could feel better about the world, and all it would take is a smoothie. Not much to ask. It’s vitally important not to overlook very small tweaks to achieving happiness.

anguishing loss | 5:54 am CDT
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I dreamed that we came home from work and found that our little red house had been moved so that it now sat shoulder-to-shoulder, as it were, with the house next door. “Didn’t there used to be a lot more room between our houses?” I asked My Darling B, possibly the stupidest thing I’ve ever dreamed of myself saying because obviously there was a lot more than a finger’s width between the houses when we left for work that morning. Also, the spot where our house used to be was now a slab of concrete.

When I went to city hall to ask what happened to our house, they said they had to move it because of a plan, and that’s about as far as they could explain it. “What did you do with all of the stuff that was in our basement?” I asked, and the nice lady told me, “Oh, it’s all still down there.” She didn’t offer to get it out of its subterranean tomb.

slab | 5:47 am CDT
Category: dreams
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Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

“Steve Bannon … has declared … Trump is “manically focused” on fulfilling his campaign pledges … “The mainstream media ought to understand something: all those promises are going to be implemented” … The Guardian, 23 February 2017

Ehhh, really? All of them? He’s going to release his tax returns? He did promise to do that, many times. Trump also promised to sell his business, and he promised that he wasn’t going to take any vacations or spend all his time golfing the way his predecessor did, because there was too much work to do. He’s already broken that last one, and he doesn’t seem too keen on keeping the other two, either, so forgive me if I’m a little skeptical when you say shit like he’s “manically focused” on keeping all his campaign promises.

NDofPD Plus 34 | 9:12 pm CDT
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34 days since the National Day of Patriotic Devotion

(Evening Edition)

This has got to be the best story of the day:

“Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) invoked the 2011 shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) at a constituent event this week as a reason not to hold a public town hall. “Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge. However, the House Sergeant at Arms advised us after former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot at a public appearance, that civilian attendees at Congressional public events stand the most chance of being harmed or killed.” The Hill, 23 February 2017

“Former Rep. Gabby Giffords is not going to put up with a cowardly Republican using her shooting to justify hiding from his constituents … “I was shot on a Saturday morning. By Monday morning my offices were open to the public. Ron Barber – at my side that Saturday, who was shot multiple times, then elected to Congress in my stead – held town halls. It’s what the people deserve in a representative … To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage. Face your constituents. Hold town halls.” Daily Kos, 23 February 2017

Gabby Giffords makes my day just about every time she’s in the news.

That’s enough smiling, though. Back to more of “How stupid can legislators make themselves look?”

“Rep. Mike Burgess (R-Texas), a doctor who sits on a House health subcommittee, [said] a reduction in the number of people with health insurance coverage shouldn’t be viewed as a negative. “If the numbers drop, I would say that’s a good thing,” Burgess said, “because we’ve restored personal liberty in this country, and I’m always for that.” Burgess seemed to imply that there are people who hate the idea of having health insurance but were forced to buy it because otherwise IRS agents would be “chasing [them] down” under the current law.” Mother Jones, 23 February 2017

Trump’s imigration policy has removed the safeguards that prevented the deportation of military spouses while soldiers were deployed:

“In 2013, President Obama, at the express request of the Defense Department, created a program for military families to prevent the deportation of military spouses, parents and children … This week, this administration rescinded the Parole in Place program, harming thousands of military families across the country … It is unconscionable to reverse a policy that strengthens our military and our veterans. That the program was not even named in the memo demonstrates either a lack of awareness, or worse, a casual disregard of the effect that this will have on those most vulnerable members of our military.” The New York Times, 22 February 2017

Still no investigation into Trump’s ties with Russia …

“Seeking to avoid a full House vote on the so-called “resolution of inquiry” – a roll call that would be particularly embarrassing and divisive for the right – Republicans will send proposal [to force the disclosure of President Donald Trump’s potential ties with Russia and any possible business conflicts of interest] by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to the House Judiciary Committee for a panel vote on Tuesday, two Democratic sources said. The GOP-controlled committee is expected to kill the resolution.” Politico, 22 February 2017

 

NDofPD Plus 34 | 8:45 pm CDT
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34 days since the National Day of Patriotic Devotion

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad – even before anything actually happened. SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others … By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events … The 17-13 party-line vote sends the bill to the House.” The Arizona Capitol Times, 22 February 2017

“Rep. Keith Kempenich introduced the North Dakota bill, which states that if a driver “unintentionally” causes injury or death to someone blocking traffic on a roadway, then the driver will not be liable for damages … In recent weeks legislatures in Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa have moved to add laws specifically targeting roadway blocking … in Minnesota … a Republican-led House committee passed a measure … that would allow local governments to sue criminally convicted protesters for law enforcement costs. … In Indiana, a lawmaker proposed a bill that would require officials to direct police to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary,” according to the Indianapolis Star. ” KTLA5, 26 January 2017

“House and Senate committees advanced bill that would make blocking highway traffic, airport access or public transit a gross misdemeanor, which requires jail time. Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, who’s sponsoring the House bill, said some people wrongly believe that they have a right to shut down freeways. “If you block a freeway, you should go to jail,” he said.” Minnesota Public Radio, 22 February 2017

“Senate Bill 285, authored by Sen. James Tomes (R-Wadesville), would have required law enforcement to be dispatched within 15 minutes of a report of 10 or more protesters unlawfully blocking traffic. Those police would be required to “use any means necessary” to move those protesters out of the road. But lawmakers expressed serious concerns and amended the bill, striking “any means necessary” – virtually rewriting the bill. The new version creates an infraction for “mass traffic obstruction” and allows state police to help local law enforcement enforce it.” Indiana Public Media, 22 February 2017

“People who intentionally block traffic on Iowa highways could be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison under an Iowa Senate bill co-sponsored by nine Republican lawmakers. Senate File 111 has been introduced in response to an incident in November when more than 100 protesters blocked Interstate Highway 80 in Iowa City, said Sen. Jake Chapman, R-Adel, the bill’s lead sponsor … Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, plans to introduce his own version of the legislation in the House [which focuses] on those who organize protests intended to shut down highways.” The Des Moines Register, 23 January 2017

 

NDofPD Plus 34 | 5:41 am CDT
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Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Just how cold and hard and flinty does your little heart have to be to make you believe your most important mission in life is taking away the health care plans of 30 million people who couldn’t obtain it or afford it until the Affordable Care Act came along? Asking for some friends …

Q&A | 8:21 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel
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33 days since the National Day of Patriotic Devotion

“A federal civilian hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump has forced at least two Army bases to indefinitely suspend some child care programs. Officials at Fort Knox, Kentucky, notified families Feb. 17 of the suspension to the on-base part-day child development center (CDC) programs, its hourly care program and the enrollment of new families into the CDC. “We are prevented from bringing new caregivers on board but are still having our usual staff turnover and illnesses, which creates challenges to maintaining ratios and providing quality childcare,” the Fort Knox letter states. Officials at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, announced that all part-day programs will be suspended in a letter dated Feb. 22 but circulated Tuesday. Part-day programs at Wiesbaden will be suspended starting March 1, that letter states. That letter does not address hourly care or other CDC enrollment. “The closure is a result of staff shortage due to the federal hiring freeze,” says the letter, signed by Wiesbaden garrison commander Col. Todd Fish.” Military.com, 21 February 2017

“President Donald Trump’s sweeping crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally will strain an already tight U.S. job market, with one study suggesting that removing all of them would cost the economy as much as $5 trillion over 10 years. That represents the contribution of the millions of unauthorized workers to the world’s largest economy, about 3 percent of private-sector gross domestic product, according to a recent paper issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research. There were about 8 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally working or looking for work in 2014, with California, Texas and New York accounting for the largest share of the workforce, according to Pew Research Center estimates. Most of them are likely to be of working age, which makes them about 5 percent of the U.S. labor force and 3.5 percent of the total U.S. population. The Chicago Tribune, 22 February 2017

“Buried deep in the Trump administration’s plans to round up undocumented immigrants is a provision certain to enrage Mexico — new authority for federal agents to deport anyone caught crossing the southern border to Mexico, regardless of where they are from. If present immigration trends continue, that could mean the United States would push hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Salvadorans, Brazilians, Ecuadorans, even Haitians into Mexico. Currently, such people are detained in the U.S. and allowed to request asylum. President Trump wants them to do so from Mexico, communicating via videoconference calls with U.S. immigration officials from facilities that Mexico would presumably be forced to build.” Pro Publica, 20 February 2017

“President Trump could issue new guidelines as early as Wednesday to rescind anti-discrimination protections for transgender students, overruling his education secretary who had pushed to keep them in place. “I would expect further guidance to come out on that today,” Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said, declining to provide specifics. Mr. Trump, he added, is “a firm believer in states’ rights.” Mr. Spicer declined to discuss details of a rift on the issue between Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, who was adamant that the administration move quickly to reverse an order from the Obama administration that allowed transgender students to use the restroom of their gender identity. The New York Times, 22 Feb 2017

“A bill in the Iowa Senate seeks to achieve greater political diversity among professors at the state’s Board of Regents universities. Senate File 288 would institute a hiring freeze until the number of registered Republicans and Democrats on the university faculty fall within 10 percent of each other. “I’m under the understanding that right now they can hire people because of diversity,” said the bill’s author, Sen. Mark Chelgren, R-Ottumwa. “(Students) should be able to go to their professors, ask opinions, and they should know publicly whether that professor is a Republican or Democrat.” The Des Moines Register, 20 February 2017

“The Trump administration on Wednesday revoked federal protections for transgender students who sought the right to use the public school restrooms that match their gender identity, taking a stand on a contentious issue that has become the central battle over LGBT rights. Officials with the federal Education and Justice departments notified the U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday that the administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard memos the Obama administration issued during the past two years regarding transgender student rights. … gay and transgender rights advocates … accused President Trump of violating past promises to support gay and transgender protections. “Attacking our children … is no way to say you support and respect LGBTQ people,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.” The Washington Post, 22 February 2017

 

NDofPD Plus 33 | 7:34 pm CDT
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