Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Crazy Skydive

Lex has taken his first hop (as the actual pilot, that is) in a Stearman (as far as I can figure, it's a biplane with an open cockpit). Which appears to be a big deal, given the smile on his face.

But then xformed linked to this video. Which I just had to share.

Crazy Skydive / Biplane Stunt - More free videos are here

If for no other reason than to say No, that particular stunt is most definitely NOT in my future plans.

And to confess that while it does look sort of nifty (if you are certifiably insane, that is), I was very relieved to find that there was somebody left behind in that cockpit. To actually, you know, fly the plane.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

In The Looking Glass

I've recently discovered Jodi Picoult. She's really a very good writer. She always manages to hook me.

First it was My Sister's Keeper, this past summer. After I watched the movie. I picked it up in the bookstore at the airport when we were flying out west.

When I finished that, my sister-in-law handed me Nineteen Minutes.

Monday I started Handle With Care.

275 pages later, I realized I was reading the same story all over again. My Sister's Keeper redux. That's not meant as a criticism. Not at all. I am really enjoying the book.

It's just the realization that once again we have a child with a terrible disease.

A mother who has (and will) fight to the death for her. No matter what the cost. Even to the rest of her family.

The father ... strong, handsome, in one of those 'hero' jobs (in My Sister's Keeper he was a fireman; in Handle with Care, he's a cop), the "good guy" who loves his family dearly, can see the bigger picture but doesn't seem to be able to make his wife see it, who helplessly watches his family fall apart.

And the other sibling who gets lost in the shuffle- in My Sister's Keeper it was a younger brother; in this one, it's an older sister. Perhaps the one who is most victimized by the situation (and yet no one seems to notice - not them, not what's happening to them), they each, in turn, act out - the brother in My Sister's Keeper starts setting fires and the sister in Handle with Care turns to stuffing and purging (bulimia) and cutting herself.

But it's the mother that brought me here.

I recognize that mother. I know her well. I am her.

Perhaps it's just a by-product of having a child with significant special needs. Over time, they change you. Make you a better person in so many ways.

But eventually those strength's which they bring out in you, ones you didn't even know you had, can become too strong. That focus, too focused.

Yeah, you really do know what your child needs. But you become so use to having to fight for it (and get so good at it) that it starts to consume your whole life. To the point that all those other people you also love can no longer compete.

Single-minded determination. It will burn out not just you, but also everybody else in its path.

And yet, where is that magic line? When have you taken it far enough? When have you taken it too far?

The answer, often, is a question of perspective. And Ms. Picoult is very good at writing from various perspectives.

She also has a definite flair for the dramatic and unexpected. I now know that there's a very good chance that she will turn your world upside down by the end of a book, if she so chooses. Leaving you with very unsatisfying endings.

In the vast majority of books, the conflict is resolved by the end of the story. The bad guys are found and captured, the lovers re-unite, the world is saved. Not in a Picoult novel, though. People don't live happily ever after. In fact, there's a very good chance that those characters who manage to survive will most definitely live unhappily ever after.

Her next book is to be about a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome. On the autistic spectrum, these individuals show marked deficiencies in social skills, having difficulties with social interactions, communications and transitions. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. And they have a great deal of difficulty reading body language and very often have difficulty determining proper body space. It's these very characteristics that make the boy at the centre of the book the prime subject in a murder case.

I expect another good read. But, I must confess, I do hope not to find myself portrayed anywhere in this book. Knowing from past experience that it can be and usually is more than a little disconcerting.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And So This is Christmas

Or Christmas Eve, at the very least.

I know I've been kind of quiet on the blog lately. Not really sure why.
Not too much to say? Or not enough time to say it? A little of both, I suppose.

And then there's the fact that this month has been tinged with sadness and melancholy for me. Which is a step up from last month, I suppose. When there was only pain and hurt.

The girls don't seem anywhere near as excited for Christmas as they usually are. They were much more excited just to be out of school for two weeks. I asked the Kit Kat what was up with that and she told me that knowing for sure there is no Santa (as opposed to her merely suspecting it but not really wanting to know) takes a lot of the fun out of it. I know what she's saying. But I still find it sad.

Still, we are all here. The four of us. Back from the Christmas Eve service. In our brightly-lit house. With our beautiful tree. I love Christmas trees. I like to turn out all the lights and just sit and stare at it, letting my mind wander.

Tomorrow close friends will join for us for dinner. After a breakfast of the Kit Kat's yummy French toast and bacon. And despite the fact that they are, indeed, growing up, something tells me there will still be some excited squeals coming from underneath the tree (too) early in the morning.

In the meantime, I have gifts to finish wrapping and arranging under the tree. And stockings to stuff. But, alas, not until they all are off to bed. Which, teenagers though they may be, won't happen until we are read The Night Before Christmas.

A childhood friend of my husband's gave him the book as a Christmas present when I was expecting the Blue Jay. He said it was a Christmas tradition in his family to read it to his two young boys every Christmas Eve before bed. And so it has become our tradition, too. Except now, instead of us reading it to them, they read it to us.

But when they are all snuggled in their beds (with visions of I-Pods, books and new clothes dancing in their heads), there will be time for me to have a drink. Or two. And raise my glass to those I love, both those that are with me (or soon will be) and those that no longer are. And to my good friends, who make my life richer. Who laugh with me through the good times and hold my hand in the bad.

And so it is that I will leave you with one my favourite Christmas songs.

Merry Christmas to you, then. And to all, a good night.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Greetings From The Grinch

Courtesy of the Blue Jay who had a very good last day of school before the Christmas holidays, including watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas during Social Studies

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And Now ... I Got Something

Thanks to Kris, that is.

I Got Nuttin'

It's been a whole week since I've posted (here, that is; I've actually been doing much better on the other blawg) and I'm sorry to admit it but ... I got nuttin'. Absolutely. Nuttin'.

So with that said, just carry on with your Christmas preparations. And be sure to let me know. What time to be there. For the party. And the Christmas cheer.

I'll be a'waiting ...

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Courtesy of the place where I jumped this past summer.

Brings back memories, it does.

Even a little bit of the nausea when they landed.

But the girl with the big smile. Nah, that wasn't me.

Which reminds me, how come we had the WWII looking helmets and goggles and the guys we jumped with wore what looked like motorcycle helmets and sunglasses?

In other words ... we played the part of the geeks. They looked cool.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missed Opportunity

How on earth did we ever miss this?

Maybe because we're too busy whining about what he can't get right? Or maybe it just isn't considered newsworthy...

Either way, it's something that should be recognized. And acknowledged.

Yes, I realize it's only a step. But a first step is better than no step, no?

And then we might just ask when a similar move might be made in Canada.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sleight of Hand

Over at Lex's yesterday, Quartermaster opined that there was no valid reason for President Obama not to give McChrystal the 40K troops he asked for.

I mused that maybe he had a reason. Perhaps he was just trying to show the Democrats and the American people that he would not be bullied pushed around by the military.

And then today, it all came into sharper focus when I read this comment in a discussion about what role Canada might play in Afghanistan post-2011.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon met in Brussels this past week with Canada’s NATO allies as the alliance cobbled together 7,000 additional troops from 20 countries, but not Canada. The number was short of the 10,000 the Obama administration wanted after committing an additional 30,000 U.S. personnel to the mission earlier in the week.

Let's recap then. General McChrystal asked for 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan. Obama offered 30,000. And then looked to NATO make up the remaining 10,000.

I wonder how well that's going to work for him.
The British government is facing opinion polls showing that around 70 percent of the public favors an early withdrawal. That figure has nearly doubled in the past six months, as the country has sustained its worst casualties — 97 killed so far this year — since it first deployed troops to Afghanistan after the Taliban were toppled in 2001.

Germany and France have balked at committing any more forces to a war that has so little public support that they can barely maintain current troop levels.

The Netherlands and Canada have begun discussing plans to pull out. Canadian defense officials told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in Halifax last week that they had no intention of sending troops in the future, and that they remained committed to withdrawing by the end of 2011.

Even if the allies make commitments for 5,000 or more new troops after the president’s address on Tuesday at West Point, NATO officials say, those commitments will include troops already in Afghanistan to provide security for recent elections and trainers for the Afghan Army and the police.

And it remains unclear whether several thousand NATO and other foreign troops are really the equal of a similarly sized American force in terms of military capacity. Some countries may continue to restrict how their forces may be employed. In addition, a force that is cobbled together from too many nations — a few hundred here and a thousand there — might not have the unit cohesion of an American force, military analysts said.
But don't you worry your pretty little head about it. I'm sure the President had a real good reason for waiting over 2 months to announce a decision to send 10,000 less troops that McChrystal asked for. And then asking his allies to make up the slack.

Which I suppose might just make it *our* fault when if the non-surge surge isn't successful. Seeing as how the United States is giving it all in the "good war". Alas, if only the those allies could be counted on to do their part.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lawyer Jokes

Update: Sorry, didn't publish properly. Now there's 18.

Eighteen lawyer jokes. Just for you.
Because I'm feeling generous today.

Q: What do lawyers use for birth control?
A: Their personalities.

Q: What is the difference between a tick and a lawyer?
A: A tick falls off of you when you die.

Q: Why does the law society prohibit sex between lawyers and their clients?
A: To prevent clients from being billed twice for what is essentially the same service.

Q: What do you have when 100 lawyers are buried up to their neck in sand?
A: Not enough sand.

Q: What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a dead lawyer in the middle of the road?
A: There are skid marks in front of the skunk.

Q: What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer?
A: A Doberman.

Q: Why are lawyers like nuclear weapons?
A: If one side has one, the other side has to get one. Once launched, they cannot be recalled. When they land, they screw up everything forever.

Q: What do lawyers and sperm have in common?
A: One in 3,000,000 has a chance of becoming a human being.

Q: Did you hear that the Post Office just recalled their latest stamps?
A: They had pictures of lawyers on them ...and people couldn't figure out which side to spit on.

Q: Lawyer's creed:
A: A man is innocent until proven broke.

Q: What's the difference between a female lawyer and a pit bull?
A: Lipstick.

Q: What do you call 20 lawyers skydiving from an airplane?
A: Skeet.

Q: If you see a lawyer on a bicycle, why should you swerve to avoid hitting him?
A: It might be your bicycle.

Q: What's the difference between a porcupine and a Porsche with two lawyers in it?
A: With the porcupine, the pricks are on the outside.

Q: Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an honest lawyer and an old drunk are walking down the street together when they simultaneously spot a hundred dollar bill. Who gets it?
A: The old drunk, of course; the other three are mythical creatures.

Q: It was so cold last winter ... (How cold was it?)
A: I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.

Q: A man walked into a lawyer's office and inquired about the lawyer's rates.
A: "$50.00 for three questions", replied the lawyer. "Isn't that awfully steep?" asked the man. "Yes," the lawyer replied, "and what was your third question?"

Q: You're trapped in a room with a tiger, a rattlesnake and a lawyer. You have a gun with two bullets. What should you do?
A: You shoot the lawyer... Twice.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Down But Not Out

Good day.

My computer is in for service (and we all know what thatès like) so I am using the one I have relegated to the girls down the basement. And now I truly understand why they hate it so much. And constantly bug me for access to mine.

Letès just say it has ... issues. I had to download Explorer again just so that I could get into some sites (like behind the scenes here in the blog) and, apparently, according to the Blue Jay, Facebook as well. Forget about anything to do with YouTube, though. And have you noticed its issues with various punctuation marksÉ Such as question marks and apostrophes...

Other than that its just peachy. If you donèt count the fact that even though itès supposedly hooked up to my high speed upstairs, Ièm thinking that dial up was never this slow. What a great way to waste a couple of hours, just trying to check your mail, your site meters and catch up on a few of the daily reads. Some of which wonèt even load. Sheesh ...

Anyway, bottom line. Still here. Down. But not out.

Carry on, then.