Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Kafka himself could not have scripted it better

I have been following, with great interest, the Washington Post's articles about the abysmal conditions under which wounded soldiers languish in medical hold at Walter Reed. Dana Priest and Anne Hull described the physical neglect and bureacratic indifference experienced at Building 18, which is located across the street from Walter Reed. I have not seen the inside of that building, so I cannot speak to the stories about its infrastructure. However, the authors' depiction of the bureaucracy of Walter Reed - ie indifferent, callous, inefficient, and just plain mean - rings absolutely true.

Well, those articles certainly lit a fire under the collective posteriors of the powers that be. There will be no more languishing in rat-infested, moldy, crumbling Building 18. Those fine warriors will be moved to Building 14, which is conveniently located on the Walter Reed campus. They have been given strict orders not to speak to the media - not that those pesky reporters could gain access to the secure military installation, anyway. And these warriors will get to relive the glory days of basic training, by virtue of the edict that has them out of bed no later than 0600, ready for room inspections by 0700. The soldier sitting next to me confirms that this wouldn't happen in the toughest of infantry batallions with the healthiest of soldiers.

There's a special place in hell for the Perfumed Princes who made this happen. And it looks exactly like Building 18.

Any way the wind blows, doesn't really matter ...

Great things are in the works at Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY.

Amongst them:

Small-scale wind turbines for point-of-use electrical applications; and

Conversion of used vegetable oil from the kitchens of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino into bio-diesel, which will then be used to fuel garbage trucks on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation.

Sigh .. I have this recurring pipe dream that these kinds of progressive thinking can be utilized on Fort Drum. I like to fantasize that, instead of navigating congested roads and parking lots which plague the post (especially in the winter months), soldiers could take bio-diesel fueled buses to their duty stations.

I know, I know .. it's just fodder for my commitment hearing.

Coming soon to irritate and annoy me

Looks like a new "retail and entertainment center" is in the works for our little neck of the woods.

According to Newzjunky, the proposed development may include a "hotel, car dealership, gas station, restaurants, 12-screen movie theater, bowling alley, and storage units."

With the continued expansion of Fort Drum, I suppose this was inevitable. But .. blech!*

The view from my office window, soon to be filled in with hustle, bustle, traffic, and trash from annoying people who cannot seem to find the garbage cans after they leave the theatre.

*Unless, of course, they're putting a Tim Horton's in this development. Then I'm all in favour of it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What winter is all about

Ready ..

Set ..


Our little town

As seen from Thompson Park Hill at about 09:30 this morning.

Fog in winter

Sublimation: the transition of a substance from its solid to its gaseous form, bypassing the liquid phase.

I love days like these!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's the little differences ...

Until about five minutes ago, I had no idea that pancakes were not a part of the traditional Fat Tuesday celebration in the United States. Apparently, Shrove Tuesday is only observed in Canada, the UK, Ireland and Australia.

No wonder my husband still looks at me kinda funny when I serve pancakes, sausages, and bacon for dinner on the last Tuesday before Lent.

Gobble gobble

Turkey in my back yard.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

In a mad, mad world, how do you know when you've gone mad?

I know there are millions of more important things going on, but I must say that I am very very worried about Ms. Britney Spears.

I've never been a fan, and I don't particularly care for her music. Nevertheless, I feel sorry for the woman.

It has been blatantly obvious, for the past few months, that Ms. Spears has some serious problems. I truly believe that she is in the throes of postpartum psychosis.

All of the partying = self medicating.

The inappropriate attire or lack thereof = clear signs of delusional behaviour.

Last night's spectacular meltdown = the last we'll see of her for a while, I hope.

I truly hope that Ms. Spears has been taken to a safe environment, where she can receive competent psychiatric care.

And truly I hope that all of the jackals - the photographers, the tabloids, the so-called serious media, and the bastards who are hawking her shorn locks on ebay are feeling really proud of themselves right now.

Get well soon, Britney.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Incarceration Nation


A 9 year old boy, a Canadian citizen, is being
detained in an "immigration detention center" in Texas.

The story is quite convoluted. The boy was born in Toronto. His parents fled Iran in 1995, and tried for 10 years to gain asylum in Canada. In 2005, they were deported back to Iran. The parents were allegedly imprisoned and abused again, but the family managed to flee to Turkey, where they obtained fake passports. They made their way to Guyana, and were on a direct flight from there to Toronto when the plane was diverted to Puerto Rico because of another passenger's mid-flight heart attack. They have been detained in T. Don Hutto Family Detention Center in Taylor, Texas.

This family was not attempting to enter the United States.

This has nothing to do with the United States.

This needs to be resolved at once.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Pavlov's cats

Whenever I open a tin of anything, the cats come running to the kitchen.

Tonight, it was button mushrooms.

They got their Valentine's Day treat of tuna, anyway.

They have me well trained, don't they?

Camera shy

I haven't seen Reddy Freddy for a few days, but his lady friend has been taking shelter under the mighty boughs of the spruce tree. She's been difficult to photograph, as she had been sticking to the shadows. I think she's getting a little more comfortable, and she's venturing further afield.

I haven't named her yet. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It's all fun and games until there's a meningitis outbreak

Last century, when I was a Public Health Nurse, I worked on the Healthy Sexuality team. One of the challenges we faced was how to make teenagers understand their personal risk factors for acquiring a Sexually Transmitted Disease, without becoming too technical, preachy, or boring. We came up with some innovative lesson plans, but none as "interesting" as the gum game which has been used for the past nine years in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Until last month, the Rockville Pregnancy Center taught 90-minute classes on abstinence and STDs to high school health classes. Part of their schtick was to invite students to take turns chewing the same piece of gum.

Yeah. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.

Absurdly, the Washington Post article linked above quotes health officials as saying that sharing gum poses a low risk of transmitting germs, "on par with drinking from the same cup."

Again, ewwwwwwwwww.

Gail Tierney, the executive director of the Rockville Pregnancy Center, did protesteth that:

We saw 6,500 kids last year. Who's going to talk to them now?

Might I suggest someone with a superficial understanding of how meningitis is spread?

One martini, and she thinks she's an artist or something

Monday, February 12, 2007

All I can say is,

Thank God we installed a Reverse Osmosis system for our well water.

Fuel spill at Fort Drum shuts down their freshwater wells.

The quote that scares the shit out of me:

Fort Drum officials said they didn't know the full extent of the leak--it could be a couple thousand gallons of fuel or hundreds of thousands of gallons.

Nobody knows exactly where the spill has moved because the earth below is sand, which lets fuel move through it.

Excuse me whilst I choke on my tea here. Has it occured to the powers that be on Fort Drum that other freshwater wells which draw upon the same aquifer might be affected?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snow day

Closed for the season.

Chickadee in the thicket.

Fresh tracks.

Hurry up, Mom!

Today's outlook: definitely an Ego Booster

One of my pictures is Today's Photo on the North Country Public Radio website. Thanks, David! I'm truly honored and flattered.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tie me kangaroo down, sport.

Well, it was actually a wallaby,bouncing around Fontana, California.

Imagine being the police dispatcher who took that call.

Good chilly morning!

A few pictures, taken at 0715 this morning. BunBun was checking out the dental floss that I had used to make a Cheerios garland for our little menagerie.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Weekend Recap

Before my Grade 12 math teacher, Mr. Larmer, distributed the weekly tests, he would specify whether it would be an "ego booster" or a "character builder."

This past weekend was definitely a character builder.

On Thursday, my husband flew to Washington DC for an appointment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Without getting into too much detail, Friday morning was difficult. The working diagnosis was discarded, and a new (and in our view, questionable) label was proposed.

Saturday was our 12th anniversary. Steve's plane was to have landed in Watertown at 17:30. We had a table reserved at Sboro's for 18:30. The flight was delayed, but I was able to push our reservation by an hour. Then Steve got bumped from his flight, and had to spend the night in Pittsburgh. I cried a little, and then had the last glass of wine remaining in the house.

On Sunday, Steve's plane took off on schedule. Unfortunately, it could not land in Watertown due to a raging blizzard, so he ended up in Ogdensburg, which is about an hour away. I set out to get him, but I quickly determined that it was absolutely unsafe to drive anywhere. Local law enforcement concurred with my judgement, and issued a travel ban moments after I told Steve that I couldn't go to get him. So, he spent the night at a hotel overlooking the frozen St. Lawrence River while I undertook the Sisyphean task of clearing the driveway from the 2+ feet of snow that fell. I come from good, strong, Northern Ontario stock, so I was up for the challenge. But boy howdy, did I hurt after 4 hours of shovelling yesterday. And - here's the clincher - I had no martini fixings to soften the blow.

Finally, finally, the band of lake effect snow decided to inflict its brand of fluffy white winter cheer on the hardy folks to the south of us, and I was able to drive to Ogdensburg this morning. The husband is home. The driveway is completely cleared. We enjoyed a lovely late anniversary dinner of roasted lamb.

And I finally had my pomegranate martini!!!

Here are some stormy pictures to enjoy.


Chickadee pecks at the snowless side of the seed bar.

Sparrow finds a few sunflower seeds.

Reddy Freddy finds a smackerel to eat.

The cats enjoy some cheep entertainment.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Shelter from the storm

Mourning doves find sanctuary under the boughs of the spruce tree.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Let the countdown begin!

I know what I'll be reading on July 21st!!