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Rantings of a Crazed Soccer Mom
Friday, 23 September 2005
Send Rita To New Orleans
Okay, I'll say it. I believe that the best possible outcome for Hurricane Rita would be if it makes a direct hit on New Orleans.

Think about it. There's no one there, 90 percent of it's been destroyed. Would it be such a tragedy if whatever was left was gone as well?

Everytime I turn on the news, the talking heads are lamenting the fact that New Orleans would be even further devasted.

So what?

In the words of Bob Dylan, when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

The people who lived there are already homeless. They've already lost everything. Would anyone really care if the rubble that Katrina left behind was re-arranged?

I realize that whatever I say makes no difference in the direction Hurricane Rita takes. But I find it hard to imagine that we'd prefer that the hurricane destroy thousands of homes in Houston and Galveston instead of rearranging the ruins in New Orleans.

Posted by judy5cents at 8:58 PM EDT
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Thursday, 15 September 2005
Similar to An Unwanted Houseguest

Hurricane Ophelia took her time getting here, and took even longer to leave. Like a dull-witted relative who just won't go away, she stayed and stayed, boring us to tears.

One of the radio stations said she should have had a man's name, as she couldn't commit and she wouldn't ask for directions.

We managed to make it through the day without power, but we hated it. I tried to get my husband to tell me stories of his childhood and sing songs, but he claimed sickness (really bad cold) and spent the day sleeping. My daughter and I played a couple games of chess, then I forced her to write thank you notes for her recent birthday presents.

All that time and nothing to fill it with. Except for eating. Everyone eats a lot during a hurricane. It's the only fun thing to do.

But I can't complain. Ophelia was a cake walk. Aside from the loss of power, which is really just an inconvenice, we came out just fine. No damage or downed trees to take care of, just a yard for of leaves and branches. And so did most everyone in the Wilmington area. To the south of us there was flooding, but it's nothing compared to the devastation caused by Katrina.

We count ourselves lucky, although I'm not all that keen on getting the storm debris out of the pool. Want to help?

Posted by judy5cents at 10:51 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 13 September 2005
Jobless Republican Will Sort of Work For Big Bucks

“You’re doin’ a heck of a job, Brownie.”

We all heard the president complimenting Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Michael Brown. Of course the rest of the country saw it differently.

Especially when he said in an interview with Brian Williams of NBC that his office wasn’t actually aware of the devastation in New Orleans until three days later. Apparently FEMA offices have no radios or televisions.

Which brings us to the question of how he got this job in the first place.

In the real world, employers look at an applicant’s relevant job experience. You know, things like what position you held, your specific job responsibilities, the number of people answering to you, that kind of thing. In hiring the director of a federal agency like FEMA, experience dealing with disasters and managing lots of employees would be at the top of the list of “must haves,” right?

Not so with the Bush Administration. Mr. Brown worked as the assistant to Bill Dashner, the city manager of Edmond OK (population 70,000), although he listed the position on his resume as “assistant city manager,” giving the impression that he was in charge of the actual managing of Edmond, Oklahoma instead of the usual menial chores done by the average administrative assistant.

To be fair, Dashner gave him a glowing reccommendation.

"Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt," Dashner said in a recent Time Magazine interview.

Loyalty, punctuality and starched white shirts.

Obviously, very important qualities for disaster management.

From there, Mr. Brown went on to serve as the commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association. He was asked to resign after several lawsuits over alleged supervision failures.

Hey Federal Government! Ever thought about checking references?

How did he get the FEMA job? It helped that the former director of FEMA Joseph Albaugh was his college room-mate. Also that he’d worked very hard on Bush’s campaign. He needed a job and his friends in the Bush administration were more than happy to help him out by hiring him on as deputy director at FEMA.

There’s nothing new about this practice. Patronage jobs have been around since the first bureaucracies set up shop back in the Bronze Age. But we used to have places to put these guys where they wouldn’t cause any trouble. Like an ambassador to some small friendly country like Luxembourg. Or Postmaster General.

In the most humiliating administration announcement ever broadcast, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that Michael Brown was “needed in Washington” and that Coast Guard admiral Thad Allen would take over coordinating relief efforts on the Gulf Coast.

At the time Mr. Brown was still in charge of FEMA, but he has since resigned. He may have not have been able to see the suffering in New Orleans, but he sure as hell could see the writing on the wall.

Anybody out there need a loyal, punctual guy in a starched white shirt?

I understand WalMart is hiring.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:29 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 12:37 AM EDT
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Friday, 9 September 2005
If Not For The Courage of The Fearless Crew...

May you die on a slow news day.

That is my wish for all aging sitcom stars.

Had it not been for Hurricane Katrina, all the networks would have had glowing obituaries of the late actor Bob Denver, best known for his portrayal of Gilligan on the 1960s television show “Gilligan’s Island.” There would have been clips form the show and comments from the actors who played The Professor and Mary Ann and Ginger. And famous people would have reminisced about their favorite episodes.

All across the country, people from all walks of life would join hands and sing "Sit right back and you'll hear a tale.."

As it was, all we got was this terse announcement:

“Actor Bob Denver, who played the title role in the television sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” died due to complications from cancer. He was 70 years old.”

He was a cultural icon and all he rates is two sentences?

Of course, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rhenquist didn’t that get much air time either. And that’s real history in the making.

I’m not faulting the networks. The hurricane brought an American city to its knees and for the first time in forever, reporters are asking hard questions and making politicians squirm. This is a good thing.

But when you die, you deserve a good send-off and poor Bob Denver got cheated.

So I will pay tribute here.

I loved Bob Denver since I first saw him as Maynard G. Krebs on the old Dobie Gillis show. I don’t know why. I was only four years old and didn’t understand half of what the show was about, but something about Maynard appealed to me. Here was a grown up acting like a kid. He played the bongos and squeaked “Work!” in a panic whenever the word was mentioned. My kind of guy.

Gilligan appeared when I was a more sophisticated nine years old. I was smart enough to know they’d never get off the island and I also questioned why Ginger and the Howells had brought along such an extensive wardrobe for a three hour tour. It was a stupid show but it was fun.

It’s also a show I’d let my daughter watch, and there aren’t too many of those out there these days.

I even watched a show he did in the late sixties called “The Good Guys” in which he co-starred with Herb Edelman. As I recall, it was about two buddies running a diner. The diner wasn’t the island and Edleman wasn’t the Skipper. Needless to say, it was cancelled after a short run.

Bob Denver was married for 28 years and had four children. He lived here in North Carolina. He devoted much of his time to helping the handicapped. His former co-stars have said quite sincerely that he was a really nice guy. And I'm sure he was.

So long little buddy. We'll miss you.

Posted by judy5cents at 9:48 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005 12:38 AM EDT
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Monday, 5 September 2005
Wrath of the Righteous
Outrage. Criminal. Obscene. An atrocity of the highest order.

There are no words to adequately describe the conditions of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. How could a million people–a million American people–be reduced to living in such squalid conditions as what had to be endured by the residents left behind in the city?

Everyone knew the hurricane was coming. And everyone knew the levee system that protects New Orleans has always been vulnerable to strong hurricanes. That is, of course, everyone except President Bush, who said on Good Morning America that “no one anticipated that the levees would break.” Apparently he missed the “worst case scenario” predictions for Hurricane Katrina that were part of every newscast before it hit. He was on vacation, though. Who wants to bother with the news when you’re having your five weeks of well-deserved R&R?

To be fair, Mr. Bush did make up for his early indifference. He went to the Gulf Coast and spent the weekend hugging African Americans. That should make every thing better.

If NBC news had no problem getting to the victims, why couldn’t the US Army get there? Better yet, why didn’t we have buses and planes and helicopters descending on New Orleans before the hurricane so EVERYONE could be evacuated?

I think we should tell every single New Orleans survivor how terribly sorry we are that they had to go through that. And ask them what can we do to help.

Here's something else we can do.

It's going to cost the federal government billions and billions of dollars to repair the damage in Louisiana and Mississippi. Considering all the tax cuts from the Bush administration, we're sure to come up short. Tomorrow, Congress will be voting on repealing the Estate Tax permanently. Go to to let your senator know that you believe the needs of a million poor and homeless far outweigh the vain desires of the rich.

Posted by judy5cents at 9:18 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005 11:12 AM EDT
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Thursday, 1 September 2005
Another Ordinary Day

This morning my husband couldn’t find his car keys and my daughter forgot to put on her socks, almost missing the bus. Also, we discovered that nobody had any cash when my husband asked for some. (My fault, I’d forgotten to go to the ATM yesterday).

It was a normal Thursday morning for us. And I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

Our electricity is working just fine and so is our air conditioning. We have phone service and hot and cold running water and the A-1 Sanitation truck rolled by around 10 am to pick up our trash. We have clean clothes, three working vehicles and plenty of food stored in a working refrigerator. We have access to internet and satellite television.

Like everyone else in this country, I’m thinking about the people hit by Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans and Gulf Coast Mississippi, everything’s gone, even law and order. The Big Easy is underwater and dead bodies are floating by the New Orleans Convention Center. One of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen is now a big stinking mess.

Most of the residents of New Orleans managed to leave town. But with no access to cars, the poorest residents were forced to ride out the storm, either in their own homes or in the makeshift shelter of the Super Dome. Now they’re stuck, with no food and no water, waiting to be evacuated to the Astro Dome in Houston.

The state of Texas has offered to take the Louisiana refugees in, providing shelter for the long term and making room for their children in the Houston schools.

Disasters bring out the best and worst in all of us.

Perhaps the most haunting image for me is some footage I saw on CNN. An woman in New Orleans was walking through the shelter with her four small children holding hands in a line behind her. They all looked scared and confused, but they were together and you knew they were going to stay together.

These are the times we need to all hold hands and stick together. That's the only way we'll get through it.

Posted by judy5cents at 1:46 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 30 August 2005
Nine Hundred Thousand Bloggers Blogging
I am the first to admit it. I am a person with way too much time on her hands. Not that I don’t have better things to do. Right now I probably should be doing the laundry, or out buying dog food (we ran out today) or looking for a real job, or even working on that novel I claim to be writing. I have just chosen to spend the morning here, spewing forth to no one in particular.

And I’m not alone.

Out of curiosity I googled the phrase “Writer’s Blog” and got 891,000 hits. Of course even I don’t have the time or inclination to go through nearly a million websites, so I just sampled a dozen or so.

There’s, a daily journal with haiku, tanka, photos, insights and illuminations. Strictly speaking, it’s no longer a daily journal. The last entry of haiku, tanka, insights and illuminations was on February 25.

Then there’s which bills itself as “ALL NEW ridiculously improved, fabulously superb is now a blog! We feature a growing list of contributing editors/writers/publishers who will share their insight on the writing craft and life.” This blog is current, but do you really want to hear about the revisions of the blogger’s latest vampire novel?

Barry W. Morris writes once every two or three months. Last entry was May 26, the one before that was March 28. He is working on a book tentatively called Mediation for Writers: How to Enhance Creativity, Improve Your Writing, & Find Enlightenment Through Meditation. I guess he’s busy writing and meditating.

New York Times Best Selling Novelist James Michael Pratt kept a blog for two days. He is the author of The Good Heart and The Lighthouse Keeper.

“I look forward to sharing my thoughts this year and hearing from you. Please feel free to share our writers blog with your friends & family. Check back every Sunday for my latest posting," he wrote on January 2.

He posted a review of the film Finding Neverland on January 7 and never blogged again.

Vikk and Heather, two boomer writers, "explore the galaxies of writing, publishing and beyond." in their blog Blog Trek

On August 27, there was this a discussion of online purchasing:

“Today's technology provides us with more conveniences and options than we ever had before, but sometimes all these choices, or even the absolute need to make choices even when we don't want to do so, becomes overwhelming.”

I never knew it was such a stressful thing having to decide between cable and sattelite. You poor, poor thing.

There’s a website called that will give you access to the insights of more writers (published and aspiring) than you ever thought possible. Here are a few examples:

Johanna Edwards - Award-winning entertainment journalist turned chick lit author dishes on the publishing industry, pop culture, and women's issues.

Elizabeth Mahon - – Blog about the quirky thoughts and madcap adventures of a thirty-something aspiring romance/chick-lit writer and administrative drone

James Sheehan - Literary news, rants, writer angst (can’t get enough of that writer angst!)

Leigh Ellwood - The trials and tribulations of an erotic romance author.

Allison Knight - My thoughts on life, living and loving as I write.


I got a blog. You got a blog. Big F***in’ Deal.

Excuse me. I’d love to stay here and expound upon my writer angst but I have to buy some Kibbles & Bits.

Posted by judy5cents at 11:49 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005 1:50 PM EDT
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Friday, 26 August 2005
Mindset Lists--2009 VS 1978
Every year Beloit College of Beloit, Wisconsin releases what is known as the "Mindset List" for the class of incoming freshmen. It’s designed to make everyone past the age of 35 feel really old, as it details all the events, innovations and cultural icons that mean a lot to us, but nothing to them.

Here’s some of the items from this year’s list:

Andy Warhol, Liberace, Jackie Gleason, and Lee Marvin have always been dead.

They don't remember when "cut and paste" involved scissors.

Heart-lung transplants have always been possible.

Pay-Per-View television has always been an option.

They never had the fun of being thrown into the back of a station wagon with six others.

Car stereos have always rivaled home component systems.

Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker have never preached on television.

Voice mail has always been available.

The federal budget has always been more than a trillion dollars.

Starbucks has always been around the corner.

Ferdinand Marcos has never been in charge of the Philippines.

Money put in their savings account the year they were born earned almost 7 percent interest.

Bill Gates has always been worth at least a billion dollars.

Southern fried chicken, prepared with a blend of 11 herbs and spices, has always been available in China.

Now, as I’ve said before, I attended Beloit College for two years. In 1974, I was one of Beloit’s incoming freshman, except they didn’t call us that. (At that time Beloit was being innovative and had no class year distinctions. We were just called first term students in our “underclass year.”)

It was truly a historic time. Three weeks before my parents dropped me and my stuff off in the wilds of Wisconsin, the government had teetered on the edge of falling apart. But the system worked. Richard Nixon resigned the presidency and Vice President Gerald Ford took over.

So what is it that those 35 and above could have said about 18 year olds in 1974?

They’ve always had television.

They were born 11 years after VJ Day.

Johnny Carson has always been the host of the Tonight Show.

Robespierre is a figure from the French Revolution, not Baby Snooks’ little brother.

There has always been a space program.

All they know about the Korean War is what they’ve seen on M*A*S*H.

Cigarette smoking has always been linked to lung cancer.

There has always been a polio vaccine.

There has always been a birth control pill.

They have never bought a 78 rpm record.

“I Love Lucy” has always been in re-runs.

Telephones have always had a dial tone.

Times change and despite their best efforts, people grow old. As I recall, 1974 was not the dark ages. There were cars and computers and cable television and video cameras and dishwashers, just like now. Ancient times are never considered ancient to the people who lived through them.

So it’s comforting to know that when the class of 2034 arrives at Beloit, there will be a list that makes the class of 2009 feel just as old as I do now.

And remember, inside every old person is a young person wondering what the hell happened.

Posted by judy5cents at 10:49 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 August 2005 10:54 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 24 August 2005
Doomed To An Ordinary Life

It’s the last day before school starts here in North Carolina. Thanks to the power of the tourist industry, my daughter’s summer vacation was extended two weeks by the state legislature, thereby making it possible for us to get in one last visit to Jungle Rapids.

Except it’s been so hot the last two weeks we don’t feel like moving, let alone getting in the car and going to a water park.

Yesterday we visited my daughter’s school, a brand spanking new elementary school. The place is huge. It’s bigger than most middle schools and some high schools. The reason for its vastness, I’m told, is to avoid the dreaded mobile class rooms which are used when the school population exceeds available space. (I’m OK with that. Aly spent second grade in a trailer and I’d rather she not do that again.)

Now I’m about to admit something that will shock many of you. My soon-to-be fifth grader is at a severe educational disadvantage.

She never went to pre-school.

Yes, my sweet baby was deprived the enriching experience of spending three mornings a week learning letters and numbers and all the words to The Wheels On The Bus.

It’s not that I didn’t want her to go to pre-school. There just wasn’t anyone around to take her there and pick her up three hours later. I was working three days a week. My husband had a full time job. My parents were retired, but they lived an hour away.

So Aly went to a baby sitter who lived close by and probably was taking care of more kids than was even legal. But it didn’t matter to my daughter. She loved it. Instead of learning to count to ten in Spanish, she’d spend her days outside with a bunch of other three and four year olds playing. Yes, playing–-running, swinging, going down the slide, digging in the sand, fighting over toys, doing whatever it is three year olds like to do.

If she missed anything, I haven’t noticed it. She learned how to read in kindergarten and she always scores above grade level in her reading tests. She does well in math too.

I have never understood the cutthroat tactics of parents trying to get their children into The Right pre-school. What do these places do anyway? Teach quantum physics and geometry for toddlers? Does that work?

Hey, I have no regrets. My kid had fun. And you only get to be a kid once.

Posted by judy5cents at 8:39 AM EDT
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Monday, 22 August 2005
Ask Your Doctor About....

"I don’t want to run a marathon. I just want to go upstairs and give my grandson a bath.”

Remember that ad? A very nice fiftyish woman is happily playing with a two year old boy. She is free of pain because she takes Vioxx. This wonder drug has given her the ability to the simple things she enjoys doing.

Millions of people saw that commercial and asked their doctors about Vioxx. Merck, the pharmaceutical company that produced the drug, made lots of money.

Last year Merck withdrew Vioxx from the market because of links between taking Vioxx and an increase in heart disease and strokes. The Vioxx commercials disappared, to be replaced by commercials featuring lawyers asking “Have you or a loved one taken Vioxx and suffered these problems?”

Friday, the first of 4,000 law suits was decided. Texas widow Carol Ernst was awarded 250 million dollars for the wrongful death of her husband Robert, whose heart arhythmia was believed to be caused by taking Vioxx for eight months. The final amount of money Mrs. Ernst receives will be reduced to most likely a tenth of that award, but considering how many cases are out there waiting to be decided, it doesn’t bode well for Merck.

This is a very good thing.

The reason there are so many lawsuits claiming damage is because so many people took the drug. Why? It was advertised on television directly to consumers, who in turn asked their doctors to prescribe it. The results depended on the individual doctors, but a fair amount of physicians do write prescriptions for a particular drug when asked. And that’s what Vioxx was banking on.

But that strategy has come back to bite them in the butt.

I am hoping that all drug companies will take Merck’s legal troubles as a cue to completely re-think their advertising strategy. Despite the list of warnings, commercials for prescription drugs always make each one like some kind of magic elixir. Your cholesterol will go down, your heartburn will disappear, your bones will be stronger, your ugly yellow toe nails will grow in clear, your allergies will go away, you won’t get hot flashes, you won’t get pregnant, and of course, if you happen to be a man who needs a little help in the bedroom, you can get it up and keep it up and please that lovely woman of yours all night long. (in case of erections lasting four or more hours, seek immediate medical attention).

The truth is that these drugs can help but they can’t cure. They won’t work for every one who takes them. Plus they have side effects, some of which can be serious. (That toe nail drug can cause liver damage). The cost of advertising is included in the price of the drug, which just adds to the ever increasing cost of health care. The drug companies claim they are educating the consumer about certain health conditions, but who are they kidding? They’re in it to make money.

Perhaps the drug companies will decide that television advertising is not so great for business after all and go back to marketing exclusively to doctors. At the very least, we’ll be able to watch the news without the embarrassment of having to hear about erections lasting four hours.

Posted by judy5cents at 12:39 PM EDT
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