Wednesday, August 13, 2008

March of the Lemmings

OK, we all know school administrators have gone more than a little nutty over the last decade or so. Under the guise of protecting students from guns, drugs, and pedophiles, but mostly to protect school administrators from lawsuits, many schools have adopted zero-tolerance policies. Rather than judge each situation or problem on its own merit and make an educated decision, many schools have blanket policies that require no thought. These policies have resulted in some ludicrous decisions including the sexual assault arrest of a first grader for kissing another first grader on the cheek and the suspension of multiple students nationwide for bringing Tylenol, ibuprofen, or vitamins to school.

This story however, by far, is the single most ridiculous thing I have come across and I'm so proud it's happening in my own back yard:

Great Bridge band can perform at Disney but can't go on rides


School officials said today that the Great Bridge High School marching band will be allowed to perform in the Citrus Bowl Parade and in a parade on Disney World’s Main Street this year — they just won’t be allowed to go on any of the rides.

Students in the band and their parents had been planning to go before the school board next week to get permission to perform in the parades over their winter break. The Great Bridge High marching band has played in both parades every four years, for the past 16 years.

Parents and students say that they’ve been denied permission to go perform this year, because of a school division rule put in place in 2006 that bans trips to amusement parks and water parks. The rule is in response to incidents that took place in other parts of the country in which students on field trips were injured on park rides, school spokesman Tom Cupitt said.

Cupitt said the band can still travel to perform, but students must not go on any rides.

“They can do it, as long as once they’re done with the performance they get back on the bus and go to the hotel,” he said.

But no parents or students had been informed of any changes to the situation since last week, when band members were told that they wouldn’t be allowed to go, said band parent Robin Berens. They’re still planning on going before the board during the meeting Aug. 25.


You get the impression that Cupitt didn't actually hear the words he was saying. If I understand this correctly, he's suggesting the band travel (by bus most likely) from Virginia to Florida, march in a parade at Disney World, and then go back to the hotel or perhaps just jump right back on the bus for the ride home to Virginia. Because why else would they stay at Disney World if they can't go on any rides? Classic.

This reminds me of my trip to France in high school. Our French teacher was very young and probably bit off more than she could chew when she decided to take 10 or so teenagers to Europe. Not surprisingly, we saw this opportunity as a chance to smoke and drink as much as possible (this was pre-DARE 1985, after all). Miss Perrilloux decided she had had enough towards the end of the trip and grounded us -- we were forbidden to go to the Eiffel Tower. Unbelievable. Fortunately, three of our mothers who came on the trip as chaperones decided this was completely unacceptable and quit as chaperones on the spot. They had paid their way in full and damn it, they were going to the Eiffel Tower - as were their children and their children's friends. And they pretty much informed Perrilloux that there was nothing she could do to stop us. Recognizing this to be true, she rolled over and we were able to go to the Eiffel Tower after all.

Which is exactly what's going to happen in Chesapeake. There will be meetings and protests and endless stories in our local paper and the school will have to relent. Because there's one thing you don't want to do -- and that's piss off a bunch of parents. Especially marching band parents. I know, I was a band geek. If the school doesn't change its mind but fast, the band parents will mobilize the forces, sell seven tons of oranges, grapefruits, and wrapping paper, and threaten to take all the kids to Florida without the school's involvement. And then they'll wind up on the talk show circuit. First Jay and then Dave. Then Ellen or Oprah will swoop in and pay for everyone to go and then someone will thaw Walt Disney and he'll welcome them onto their first ride personally.

Hey, did I just write my first screenplay?

A Tree Grows in Jakarta

This morning's coffee klatsch was in full swing when Gloria hesitantly asked, "Did you...happen to watch ABC...and see the man...who is turning...into a tree?"


Sure enough. "Dede Koswara, 37, has been covered with bark-like warts for more than 20 years. The growths are believed to be caused by the human papillomavirus and began to appear on his skin after he cut his leg when he was 15."

The first pic doesn't seem so bad. I was thinking, "Hm. I don't know that calling him Tree Man is appropriate. It's not that bad. Mean people..."

Then the next pic appeared. Holy hell.

And finally, this one. AAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, everyone composed?

The good news is, he's undergone some surgery and things are looking much, much better (relatively speaking).

I'm very happy for him and hope that more can be done to improve his quality of life. But in the meantime, this quote struck me. He says, "What I really want first is to get better and find a job. But then, one day, who knows? I might meet a girl and get married," the 37-year-old told the British newspaper The Telegraph from the hospital.

Do you mean to tell me that this guy's prospects of finding a wife are better than mine??!! :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Truth is Out There

Boy, these last few entries are cheating, aren't they? Stories from the news and now a video off the internet. But I felt the need to share. My poor mother still has dial-up and can't watch this thing, so if one of her more technologically advanced friends could re-enact this for her, I'd appreciate it!

And that's a home-grown, 100% gen-yoo-ine Amer-can there. (Sorry, I've had the "threat" of illegal immigrants on the brain lately. Another blog for another day...) I'm guessing we could keep her amused for days by having her chase a flashlight beam on a wall.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree with Anyone Else but...My Afterbirth?

McConaughey to plant son's placenta in orchard

NEW YORK (AP) — Matthew McConaughey says the birth of his son will help bring a little joy to others in the world someday. The actor kept the placenta from the July birth of his son and plans to plant it in an orchard, he tells CNN's "House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta" in interview scheduled to air in two parts Aug. 9 and Aug 16.

McConaughey says he hopes it will fertilize the land, a ritual long followed in several cultures.

"It's going to be in the orchards and it's going to bear some wonderful fruit," he says, according to an interview transcript. "When I was in Australia, they had a placenta tree that was on the river ... and all the placentas of all that tribe, all that clan, whatever aboriginal tribe that was, all the placentas went under that one tree and it was this huge behemoth of just health and strength.

"This tree was just growing taller and stronger above the rest of Mother Nature around it. It was gorgeous."

There are times I wish this was a podcast and not a blog. How else to describe the look on my face? Although, I'm guessing you all just sported the same look for a few seconds. If I ever retire -- wait, what am I saying? -- WHEN I retire from the crime lab and if I consider smoking some mari-JUANA, I want what Matthew McConaughey's having. Holy hell.

Our number two entry for "10 Signs the World May Be Coming to an End," I give you:

'American Idol' crooner Clay Aiken now a father

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken is a father.

The 29-year-old crooner from Raleigh announced the birth of Parker Foster Aiken on his Web site's blog Friday

"No hyphens. One first name," he wrote. "One middle name. One last name."

Aiken's mother, Faye, told Raleigh TV station WRAL the child was born in North Carolina.

Aiken was a favorite of fans during the second season of "American Idol," where he finished second to Ruben Studdard. His album "Measure of a Man" went double platinum in 2003, and he made his Broadway debut this spring in "Monty Python's Spamalot."

The baby's mother is Jaymes Foster, Aiken's friend and record producer whom he met while performing on "American Idol." Their son was born at 8:08 a.m. Friday, and weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces and was 19 inches long, according to the statement on the Web site.

"The little man is healthy, happy, and as loud as his daddy," Aiken wrote. "Mama Jaymes is doing quite well also."

Jaymes? Seriously? Is this that pre-op tranny who gave birth recently? Because how else can anyone explain Gayken (apologies to Kathy Griffin) having anything to do with a woman? I have to assume they utilized the Michael Jackson-Receptionist Method. Conception is beautiful when the mother and father aren't even in the same state when it occurs.

Of all the times to NOT have a Sing-Along Blog! Material like this doesn't just appear every day out of thin air, you know. "Mama Jaymes"? Good lord. I wonder what Joss Whedon could do with this. If you're confused, check out my new favorite thing:

Friday, August 8, 2008

Is She the Gun?

Only me. Those of you who know me personally, know that every so often I like to test my ability to talk myself out of a situation by sending emails to the wrong recipients. This faux pas can be an attempt to forward someone's email to another recipient with a comment such as, "I can't believe what an ignorant, psycho, slut she turned out to be" accidentally sent back to the subject of the comment or a snarky editorial comment meant for one or two people sent out to our entire laboratory system instead. You know, something that initiates a full body tap dance with a sprinkling of BS flinging... The dancing starts almost immediately, preceded only by a surge of adrenalin and the desire to crawl in a hole.

Apropos of nothing, somehow Steve Schmidt's mother stumbled on my little blog about her son (The Bullet) less than 24 hours after it was posted and left a comment. This woman scared the crap out of me in high school. I can't remember the specifics, but I know that when I think of Steve and then think of his mom, I tremble a little. And let me tell you, when I read, "I'm Steve's mom," a mighty tremble began anew!

I had to remove her comment because she used my name, but here it is in its entirety otherwise. I get the distinct impression that she thinks because I'm not a fan of the Republican party that I'm an Obama fan. I am not. And for the first time since I was old enough to vote, I'm seriously considering not voting in this election. But that's a blog for another day. And anyone who knows me, knows that I won't ultimately forfeit my right to vote. So there will be some soul-searching and some concessions made on my part. Sometimes one votes for the party and not the man. But damn, it's always a man...

Regardless of whether Steve's mom scares me or not, I suspect this whole process has been incredibly frustrating for her. Our mothers typically want to come to our defense (even when we're in the wrong) over minor infractions, so I can't even imagine what it's like to read and hear incorrect information about your son at this magnitude. And yes, I know the media twists and turns information and quotes to suit its needs, so I am not naive in that respect. But I also have my own opinions of the party for whom Steve is working (voluntarily) and how its members operate, so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to some of the more respected political analysts out there.

Herewith, a mother's response:

"Is that you, [AJ]? I remember you well fro No. Plfd. HS. I'm Steve's Mom. I love to read about my son and your blog came up. You're just discovering what he's doing now in 2008? He's been in the news, on the news and written about for quite a few years now.

[Hang on, I have to interject here. Is she really taking me to task for not knowing what he's been doing since HS?? If I heard his name in the news over the years, I'm sure I thought it was someone else and not the kid I went to school with. Nor did I have a tendency to pay that much attention to news concerning Bush/Cheney or Schwarzenegger. Get a grip.]

There's lots you still don't know about him. Did you know he was Assistant Deputy to the President after the 2004 election? He spent a month in Iraq trying to improve the communicationd coming out of there that were being so skewed by the left wing media. He shepherded the last two Supreme Court nominees through the process in getting them confirmed. He then moved to CA to run the Schwarzenegger campaign. He brought him from an approval rating of 29% to a landslide victory in a year when Republicans lost big all ove the country. Get in touch with Lauren P. to hear about her visit to his White Office the lunch she had with Steve, her kids and parents at the White House Mess. She met all of his staff and was very impressed with the love and respect they all have for him. When he left the WH for CA, he had 75 resumes from young people begging to go with him and work for him. So much for this "angry tyrant" described in the media. Steve does instill a kind of fear into his people.....fear of disappointing him. He lets them no what's expected and they work hard to achieve those goals. He has mentored numerous young people in his field who are now working all over the country. They idolize him. I've read their quotes in articles.

Did you know that Steve tried to talk Arnold into changing his position on gay marriage. My daughter is gay. Steve loves his sister and her partner and wants them to have the same rights as everyone else. You might be surprised that you and he might have lots of issues that you agree on. Don't believe everything you read, especially from the left wing blogs. I find my son being described there as some kind of monster that bears absolutely no esemblance to who he is and what he's really like. I have never seen him get really angry....the worse moments have been the remnants of some Jersey road rage. He let the F word slip out in my presence a few years ago and immediatedly apologized. Does that sound like the raving maniac you're describing.

He is one of the kindest, gentlest people I know. He is the most amazing Daddy to two beautiful children. When he is home, he is 100% theirs.

Did you know his real job is as a partner in a media affairs company in CA? Did you know that his work for Mc Cain is entirely voluntary? He takes no salary at all. That's how much he truly believes that this man is the best leader for our country.

Posted by barbarae to Cranial Vault at August 8, 2008 2:24 PM"

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Bullet

I have really dropped the blogging ball of late. But I've been keeping track of things that make me laugh or I find interesting and I've been emailing them to myself so I can use them for a future blog. Consequently, the crap is starting to pile up in my Inbox, so I need to get crackin'.

First and foremost, would you let this guy head your campaign for President of the United States??

No, no, not the lovely young lass in the green plastic sunglasses and bus-headrest-cover hat (me), I mean the portion of the young man over on the right.

Yes, I realize this isn't the best picture of Steve Schmidt. But the majority of my pictures from our high school trip to France are up in my attic somewhere and this is the best I could do for the moment. When I first heard of Steve's promotion to Commandante of John McCain's election campaign, I was stunned. I had no idea he had gone into politics, let alone that he was a muckity-muck in the 2004 Bush/Cheney re-election war room and that he got Ahnold re-elected Governor of CA. And while that all seems somewhat impressive -- if you're a Republican -- my friends and I zeroed in on some things that were far more important -- the fact that Steve's now bald as a cue ball and HUGE. Wait, here's another "Steve Schmidt: The Early Years" pic for comparison purposes:

Yes, there he is. White jeans, pastel blue Paris sweatshirt, holding a knife to the throat of one of our classmates. Oh, and he fake "married" me in Paris. If it's somehow legally binding, one of the major players in the Republican party is married to a liberal lesbian. You know, just like James Carville and Mary Matalin, but switch the parties. Anyway, I suspect he bottled up that knife-wielding, white denim wearing, hair losing rage and became Karl Rove, Jr.


I'm sorry, I just realized I haven't posted a pic of what he looks like now. Here you go:

I feel bad for him about the hair thing, but he could be a bit of an ass at times and I truly believe he has anger issues as a result of losing his hair so young. I can't say that I blame him. I remember seeing him a year of two after he graduated (he was a year behind me in HS) and his hair was pretty scarce. Poor guy. I just love that now everyone talks about it as if that makes him that much more of a pit bull. He's hairless! Hide the Democrats! He'll eat them alive!!

I've also read about his size and references to his playing football in high school. As you can see in the Early Years pics above, he was a scrawny girly-man. And until he got accused of slashing some seats on our band bus with a knife, he was a trumpet player in our scrawny 40-member marching band. Yeah, he's a real killer that one.

Truth be told, I think it's pretty damn cool that Steve's where he is. I'm sure we agree on virtually nothing politically -- or about the most ethical way to get someone elected -- but I would still consider him an old friend if our paths were to cross again. We come from a teeny, tiny town in NJ where everyone knew everyone and we were friends in school. So I'm happy for him and I hope for his sake that he doesn't destroy McCain's campaign. Steve's responsible for the recent McCain videos, including the ubiquitous Obama/Paris Hilton/Britney Spears "celebrity" video and is rumored to be responsible for the accusation that Obama didn't want to visit wounded soldiers in Germany without the press present. I'm guessing he also had a hand in the McCain tire pressure gauges. They raised many of us to be witty and sarcastic in North Plainfield, New Jersey!

I now know far more about McCain's campaign than I normally would because I check in every couple of days to see what Steve's been up to. Most of the articles and blogs are of the same tenor and here's a recent example:

Early and Often
7/23/0810:30 AM

John McCain’s New Strategist Basically a Dick

McCain's new strategist, Steve Schmidt, is kind of an asshole, The Wall Street Journal tells us this morning, although they don't exactly use those words. The New Jersey native, who worked on Bush's campaign and Schwartznegger's (and who is responsible for yesterday's angry-funny "Media Hearts Obama" video) is a "sharp-tongued" "military-like" figure who was promoted to strategist after McCain's disastrous June 3 speech, which was widely mocked and which Schmidt said made him "apoplectic" about the incompetence of the campaign.
Apparently he often feels that way! The Journal story contains many colorful anecdotes about the man McCain affectionately calls "Sgt. Schmidt," some of which would make even Machiavelli cringe. For instance:

• Anger, Schmidt says, "focuses people's attention when other means have been exhausted."

• "Our goal is perfection," he told McCain staffers recently. "We will never achieve it."

• "Two colleagues say that when Mr. Schmidt gets really angry, his nose bleeds, though Mr. Schmidt denies it."

• Says a guy who worked with him on the Bush campaign: "The nostrils would flare, he would get very red-faced and angry, and you would just want to quit … you basically wanted to crash a chair over his head."

• "During debates, he would time staffers with a stop watch to see how quickly they could dig up information contradicting whatever their opponent said and email it to reporters."

• "Sometimes he stares at a questioner for several moments while forming a response."

• A former assistant likened his perch outside Schmidt's office to "a small house at the base of a volcano."

• "He only gets angry when someone has made the same mistake twice or failed to pay attention."

That said, like any villain, he has his Kryptonite. According to the Journal: "He is deeply scared of snakes. After a rattlesnake bit his dog at their California home, he insisted that the entire family move."

Yowza. Good luck, Steve!