Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blackwater


Apparently the private security firm Blackwater and its sisters have not had to obey Iraqi law. Nor the universal code of military justice (UCMJ), and it seems that they are not even accountable under American law.

Contractors build buildings, or repair pipelines. Once a contractor is carrying a sub-machine gun or flies helicopters which have machine guns mounted it is no longer a contractor. They are a private militia. Or perhaps the correct description is a private army or mercenaries.

Neither fits in with what us Americans believe about ourselves.

If the top officials of the American Government do not trust the military to protect them, and they need to hire their own private army to do so, then our country is in more serious trouble than I thought.

All private security contractors, all private militias, and all mercenaries need to be removed from the picture in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact the American government should never employ such an immoral and unethical ruse again.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Class Act

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Britney Spears gave new dignity to Louisiana trailer park trash today. The concept of "Southern Grace" certainly does not apply to her.
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Maybe she was a sailor in a prior life. On one of her many toilet breaks today from a court session today she told a reporter to "Eat it, lick it, snort it, fuck it!"
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Well, she may be a fat ass, and perhaps she is a drug addict and a really bad parent. And some people claim that she can't sing worth a damn.
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But you have to give her credit where credit is due: That lady sure can cuss!
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Speed Limit in Germany?

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In today's news I see that the social democrats (the SPD) is recommending that an 80 mph speed limit be imposed on the German freeways. To lower carbon dioxide emissions.
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Fortunately the Prime Minister (they call this job the Chancellor) Angela Merkel is saying, "No way Jose', not on my watch."
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In a surprising policy decision, the SPD voted in favor of introducing a speed limit of 130 kph (80 mph) on Germany's autobahns, famous for their lack of speed limits, in a bid to reduce CO2 emissions. However the policy is unlikely to make it into law, due to opposition from the CDU: In an interview on Sunday, Merkel said a speed limit "is not going to happen with me." Germany's powerful car lobby opposes autobahn speed limits, arguing that they reduce demand for its high-performance automobiles.
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Until early 2007 I lived in Europe for 15 years. My house was less than a mile from the German border.
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The German freeways have a roadbed that is more than twice the thickness of the American Interstate Highways, and the radius of the bends is extremely gentle. The same turn on the German motorways will take 2-1/2 to 3 times as far as on the USA expressways. In other words these German roads are made for really high speeds.
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Before I bought the Toyota Prius, very often indeed I would get on the German freeways (autobahn) and set the cruise control on 130 mph. Yes MILES per hour. This meant that most of the time I would have to stay in the slow lane because the BMWs and Porsches and the occasional Ferrari were just zipping past me like I was standing still. I guess they were probably doing around 180 mph.
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But with traffic tie ups I would normally catch up to them in 10 or 20 miles.
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True Story: One time I was on my way to an art exhibit in Frankfurt about 260 kilometers away. A close friend of mine was on vacation with his family, and he was pulling his camping trailer very responsibly about 60 mph. I didn't even see him as I blew by. He recognized my car with the Dutch license plates. So he called me on the Cell Phone and asked me if I was on my way to Frankfurt. I said Yes I was. So I slowed way down, then finally pulled over and waited for several minutes so he could catch me. I waved at his kids, then hauled ass on towards Frankfurt.
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Paul Garland

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I realized today that I can put videos on this blog, so I am just playing!
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(NOTE: Click on the play button twice and it should play)
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video

The Open Road Calls

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Next weekend the famous Terlinga Chili Cookoff takes place.
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I'm sure tempted to hook up the little teardrop trailer to the Toy Crayola late next week and head towards the Big Bend of Texas.
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Maybe I'll stop one night along the way in the backcountry of Woodward Ranch south of Alpine, Texas.
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(this picture is from Aaron Copeland's album for the Common Man)
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Dzogchen Ponlop


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The local PBS FM radio station just had an interview of a very interesting sounding author.
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This fellow has that same innocent but very direct laugh and approach to life that the Dali Lama has. I'll bet this is a great book.
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Fluorescent Rocks



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This morning I was trying out a new battery in the Nikon digital SLR camera that I use to photograph fluorescent minerals.

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I decided that instead of trying to take nice super close-up shots, I should try taking a couple of pictures taken from a distance.

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Marrying Inside The Family

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I just heard a piece on NPR about marriage between the various sects of muslims in Iraq.
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The bride was interviewed, and she observed that in Iraq it is strongly encouraged that you marry your cousin.
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This sounds racist, but I don't intend that. All the same, maybe it explains something about the current insanity in Iraq.
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Friday, October 26, 2007

The Moon

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Last night there was a special full moon. It will also look really fine tonight.


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Moving in its elliptical orbit the furthest it gets away (apogee) is about 405,696 kilometers. But right now it is at its perigee (closest point) of around 384,600 kilometers. This means that right now the moon appears 14% bigger than normal and about 1/3 brighter than on average.


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So last night at 2:00 a.m. me and the dog took our Meade telescope outside and looked at the full moon. It was glorious.


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I took these pictures this morning at sunrise without attaching the camera to the telescope, just using the standard lens of my trusty little Sony digital camera.


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My friend Ed Anderson sent me this picture that he took outside his house in Northern California.
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ku Klux Clan

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I had one great great grandfather who was a leader in the local Ku Klux Klan group. In our family bible there is a letter describing what he was doing as a wonderful and Christian act.
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Fortunately on the other side of the family I had ancestors who were running one of the stations in the underground railroad helping slaves escape the South to freedom in the North.
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America was built by immigrants. And not just in the 19th century either.
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This article describes how the Border Patrol (known locally as la Pinchi Migra) wants to approach the "illegal immigration" situation. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/25/america/NA-GEN-US-Immigration-Zero-Tolerance.php
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This is so surreal that I feel like I'm seeing a Salvador Dali' painting. Or watching Clockwork Orange. To me the approach the Republicans are taking seems straight out of the how-to manual by the Ku Klux Klan.
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Steve Crosno


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Steve Crosno was an El Paso icon. He had a genuine impact on many people growing up in far west Texas.

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And now he is being entered into the Texas radio broadcasters hall of fame. Its about time!
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America, The Country of Laws


One of the central arguments heard in the debate over illegal immigration is that in this country one must obey the law. This is a country of laws. This is not the USSR for heavens sake. In America the government officials or the royalty don’t make their decisions based upon a whim or a bribe. And that all people are treated equally under the law. Rich and poor, black and white, Christian and Muslim, heterosexual and homosexual, skinny and fat, tall and short, young and old.

Driving on the interstate highway system I normally set my cruise control exactly on the speed limit. And I would guess that 95% of the other vehicles pass me; some quite rapidly. Even policemen without their lights flashing. It seems like the Border Patrol guys are among some of the worst at flaunting the law. And virtually no one uses their directional turn indicator lamps anymore when changing lanes or turning.

Many wealthy Republicans go to a dinner party and drink a few martinis, then drive home inebriated, clearly making them criminals. And some of the younger businessmen go into the back room and snort cocaine. A large majority of young people have smoked pot, taken ecstasy, or drank alcohol under age. And if you manage to get over on the IRS many people see you as a hero.
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Did the same rule of law apply to OJ as to an "illegal immigrant" who has a court appointed lawyer?

In the early parts of the 21st century it appears that there is an open and clear cut contempt for the rule of law in the last superpower, the oldest democracy on the planet.

Look back to the era of prohibition from 1920 to 1933 and you will see that a large majority of Americans were openly violating the law of the land. During WWII there was government rationing of basic foodstuffs like sugar, and there was a large grey market openly breaking the law.

My analysis is that it is a real stretch to say that America is a country of laws. We may be better than some tin horn banana republic dictatorships, but we really have a very long way to go.

I lived in The Netherlands for 15 years, up until early in 2007. And it seems to me that in both Germany and Holland the people are significantly more law abiding than we are here in the USA. Both countries are democracies.

So it seems to me that the message should be, “Get off your arrogant high horse Americans, and get to work trying to make this a better country.”


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dumbledore Was Gay

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Now that the series is finished the author of the Harry Potter series has announced that Professor Albus Dumbledore, esteemed headmaster of Hogwarts, was gay. If this great role model wanted to come out of the closet he would have done so while he was still alive.
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I have been to (the outside) of J.K. Rowling's house, I've visited the British castle that was used as Hogwarts in the movies, I too had a Ford Anglia when I was a teen, and I've eaten in Nicolson's restaurant in Edinburg where she wrote a large part of the first book (twice).
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I really like the Harry Potter series, and I admire Joan Rowling as an author.
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But her outing Dumbledore after his death is just not cool. And after the series was finished too. Sorry. Really terribly inappropriate.
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It looks to me like the fame and unbelievable wealth is finally beginning to get to her.
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To many of us Gandalf, Frodo, and Dumbeldore hold much more relevance than some middle eastern carpenter who was raised in the Jewish faith 2,000 years ago.
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Joan I am afraid that you are becoming a hard and evil mean hearted bitch.
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Great analysis, read this: http://www.gryffindorgazette.com/2007/10/25/seven-clues-that-dumbledore-was-gay/
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Link: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1674550,00.html
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yurt in West Texas


A friend of mine has a fun construction project going. He is building a Yurt.
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This is a type of dwelling used by the nomadic peoples of central asia. Places like Mongolia and Kazakhstan. In theory this is a temporary structure that can be disassembled and moved fairly easily using camels or yaks. Sort of a Central Asian RV that you live out of. And when the grazing plays out you move to a new location. Hunter-Gatherer style.
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Wikipedia says that a Yurt is a portable,
felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurt
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My friend's yurt is being constructed largely from salvage materials. It is about 25 feet in diameter, the side walls are 5 feet high, and the center pole is 12 feet 3 inches tall.

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The cover or roof was made here in America and was bought over e-bay. It is made of some kind of waterproof plasticized tarp or awning material. That is laid over a second cover below which seems to be cotton. The two layers of material will provide a tiny bit of dead air and thus some insulation.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

What Time Is It?


Time can be described a lot of different ways. Click on this display of time conversion and it will enlarge enough to be readable.

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Telescope

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At the new JC Penney near my house that just opened they have a good grand opening sale going on. Plus I have a certificate that gives me an additional 15% off on top of that.

So today when I went over there to buy some dress socks and a couple more pairs of suspenders, I ended up also buying a Meade astronomy telescope. A DVD comes with it, and included on the DVD is an atlas of the moon with at least a zillion photographs.

There are two that I especially like. One is the Cannon crater
(Link: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2275/1697543626_dc201e45d2_o.jpg), and the other is the Mons Hadley (Link: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2180/1696694123_96e65aae09_o.jpg).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannon_(crater)

Family Dinner

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Every Sunday evening our family gets together at my Sister's house to bond and to eat dinner. It is really pleasant. Normally there are about 8 people and 5 dogs present.
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I am very fortunate that I have a nice family. They are all exceptional people, and each one of them is very unique. I like and admire all of them. And the dogs all have different and unique personalities, but they have bonded into a pack so they all get along really well.
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While eating yesterday evening an odd thing happened. Someone observed that the French people are beginning to get fatter. So almost everyone chimed in with their erudite opinion on this imporant subject. Except me. I just listened.
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Inwardly I was chuckling to myself: None of these folks has ever even been to Europe, much less to France. Over the course of my life I guess I've probably visited or driven through France 25 times or more. But it never occured to anyone at the dinner table to ask me what I thought about this vital matter. This didn't offend me, it just seemed a little odd.
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Finally I chimed in by changing the subject to how fat the British have become. Which once again allowed everyone (who have never been to the UK either) to air their opinions on British cuture, body styles, etc.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

American Indians

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Yesterday out at Hueco Tanks http://hpgarland.blogspot.com/2007/01/hueco-tanks.html about 20 miles east of El Paso, Texas they had an "interpretive fair." This amounted to free entrance (I already have a paid up annual membership), and several tables set up by vendors from the Kiowa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiowa, Navajo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_mythology, and the Tigua indian tribes.
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My little doggie Inu and I got there at just the right time to hear a long talk by one of the four remaining pure-bred Kiowa elders. Then they did some traditional songs and dances. Really moving. It was apparent that these old Kiowa elders really felt the sense of history and of their ancestors who had died at this spot fighting soldiers.
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From an old Kiowa woman I bought a pair of hand made turquoise earrings. Her son who must have been about 50 is the artist who made them. She introduced me to him and it was nice to talk about lapidary and the techniques he uses to cut and polish the turquoise.
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From two very genuine Navajo women from Northern New Mexico USA I bought a nice beaded necklace. It celebrates the Raven in Navajo mythology. The mythological story was so obviously genuine and a part of their oral history passed down among the elders, that I got the lady to repeat it so that I could record the story.
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The myth relates to why Ravens are black. During a winter of great famine the Gods sent down a lightning bolt to warm the animals. Many animals tried to retrieve an ember to warm them, but only the raven was successful. But the ash from the fire of the embers turned the raven from blue to black. When you see ravens in strong sunlight you can still see a little bit of the blue color. And the lightning and the fire are represented by the colors of fire.
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Animal Tracks Out In The Desert

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People who don't go walking out in the desert much think it is virtually devoid of life.

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Not
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The El Paso County Sheriff

Inu and I had an interesting walk this morning. It is finally beginning to cool down slightly here in the high desert, so we took a little longer walk out in the desert than usual.

And when we got back to where I could see the car parked out in the desert I was shocked to see another car parked right behind it. And then I noticed two large persons examining my car. At first I thought, “Oh Goodness, I hope I am not about to have some sort of a confrontation.”

Then I noticed that the other car was painted black and white and had lights on top. And that both of the big persons were wearing uniforms. And then I thought, “Oh Goodness, I hope am not about to have another sort of confrontation.”

Of course Inu was bounding across the desert wanting to make friends with these two new people. And both Sheriffs did a quick draw, removing their night sticks from their belts, just in case they needed to defend themselves from my little black doggie.

So I took off my hat to show deference, and then I hollered at them, “Good Morning Officer. He is the kind of doggie that will lick the burglars to death.”

It was a man and woman sheriff. She was either a really pushy and overbearing female, or she was of higher seniority, because she sure took the lead.

They were worried that someone had stolen my car and dumped it out here in the desert, or that I had come out here to commit suicide. The lady told me, “Usually when we find a car out here in the desert there is not a good ending.”

Well there was a good ending this time. Inu got to make two new friends. The man asked me my name, so I told him my name and said, “I can show you some ID if you like.” And the Sheriff said, “Oh no, that’s OK.”

When we all got back to our cars both Sheriffs shook my hand, and we parted on very friendly terms.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Service Dog

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Pretty much every day I take my dog out in the desert and we take a nice walk. Once in the morning and then a second time in the early evening.
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Generally we are no where near other people. Frequently I find pretty little rocks for my tumblers, and sometimes I find little shards of prehistoric indian pottery.
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Many times I wear my Sony headphones, and like any sensible American male I listen to music from my mp3's. My Sony Walkman cellphone has a 4 gb memory card in it, so I have enough music on it to play songs day and night for 2 or 3 days without any repetition.
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Occasionally the music is just so good that I have to spontaneously start dancing. Kind of like those good looking hippie chicks you see on the Woodstock movies, swaying and waving their hands all around. Except I am male, old, and fat. But my head is still back in that time. No one can see me, so why not?
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My loyal dog has watched those shows on TV where service dogs can detect when their owners are having an epileptic fit; and protect them until it is over.
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Honest to Goodness. When I stop hiking, and I start dancing in place and sort of make weird sounds (since I have on the headphones I can't hear myself sing), Inu normally comes over near to me, gets very alert, and watches out in all directions to make sure that I am safe from predators until the fit (or the song) is over.
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Mutated vs. Unmutated CLL

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On the ACOR internet website dedicated to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Professor Terry Hamblin responded today to a lady with a nice, concise description of how patient life expectancies vary depending upon whether the CLL they have is mutated (good) or unmutated (bad).

Here is his e-mail:

Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2007 05:12:35 EDT
From: Terry Hamblin
Subject: Re: what are these mutations about?

Dear XXXXX
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The mutated/unmutated dichotomy refers to the state of the immunoglobulin variable region genes, and I doubt that you have had this done. It is only offered at a few laboratories around the world. It is an attempt to determine whether the CLL arises for a relatively early cell on lymphocyte maturation or a relatively late one (at least it was; the explanation has become a lot more complicated now).
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Unmutated CLL has an average survival of 8 years, mutated CLL an average survival of 25 years. The del 11q abnormality does carry a poor prognosis and is much commoner in the unmutated subgroup. Usually patients respond well to treatment but they tend to have rather short remissions.
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The important thing to remember is that these statistics come from lumping together large numbers of patients and represent an average. Many patients do not fit with the average.
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Terry Hamblin


Very good description Dr. Hamblin. It takes a brilliant person to explain something really technical and complicated in a manner where the layman can easily understand it, but without any condescention or "talking down" to the patient.

So if one is tested at one of these highly sophisticated laboratories (I flew over to England and got Dr. Hamblin himself to draw the blood to do the testing), and the results indicate that you are unmutated, then ON AVERAGE you have about an eight year life expectance from the date you were originally diagnosed.

Now that I live in America I am no longer getting tested, but I went back and looked at the test results from when I was living in Europe. I was diagnosed in December 2002.

I have the bad kind of CLL (unmutated) so in theory I have already used up five of the eight years average life expectancy. Well, that really is OK. Honest. I'm not just whistling past the graveyard.

In the last five years I have done more, gone more new places, and done more new and different things than I did in the 20 years prior to coming down with leukemia. I am not at all anxious, or in any big hurry to go on to the next great adventure.

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I have two friends who also have CLL. One lives here in El Paso, Texas and the other in Hillsboro, New Mexico. Both have had a variety of chemotherapies inflicted on them. And both have had new rounds of chemo in the last few months that went wrong.
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Both of these people are very dynamic, highly educated people who have led lives which are far more interesting than normal - living abroad, etc. And no doubt chemo was the correct decision for both of them.
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I am absolutely convinced that the proper decision for me is to just let nature take its course. OK I'm eating really healthy, getting plenty of exercise, have quit smoking and drinking completely, and I try to remove any stress causing agents from my lifestyle.
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NO INJECTIONS OF RAT POISION for me, thank you very much.

I'm in no rush to move on to the next plane (or as John Lennon described it, "get out of one car and get into the next") but when that time comes I am fully prepared and ready to go. In fact in a way I'm sort of looking forward to the trip. Kind of like the excitement before I moved to Europe, but many orders of magnitude bigger.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Asshole From El Paso

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I heard on national public radio yesterday that El Paso has the distinction of having the most folks who do not have health insurance of any city in the USA. I don't know if this is in absolute numbers or on a percentage basis. Either way I regard this as exceptional. So my home town is at the very top of the list of the 50 million people in America who don't have access to the health care system.
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How bout dat George W.? You grew up nearby in Midland, Texas but you don't give a damn do you? Just like your attitude to poor kids...screw them if they can't afford health insurance. Sanctimonious, that's what you are. Wrapping yourself in the flag and God. Golly, you are so evil you give me the creeeeeps.
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I read in the local newspaper that Kinky Friedman will be signing his new book at a bookstore here in town. The name seemed familiar, so I looked him up in wikipedia. Now I remember; my jewish colleague when I was living in Europe used to refer to the Asshole From El Paso by the jewish musician Kinky Friedman. I had never heard of him or heard the song, but the title of the song seemed about right, so I thought this was a little funny.
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LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinky_Friedman
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(click on this notice from the newspaper and it should enlarge enough to be readable)
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Now from wikipedia I find out that Kinky Friedman graduated from Austin High School and UTEP just like me. His degree is in philosophy (like a close friend of mine) whereas I got mine in Political Science. Kinky got his nickname in reference to the appearance of his hair.
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OOPS! I just re-read the wikipedia article. He went to Austin High in Austin, Texas and the University of Texas at Austin. Oh well, close anyway.
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Sounds like an interesting guy. So I just ordered his "best of" CD from Amazon, which does contain the song Asshole From El Paso and the book too.
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And as soon as I get done with this blog entry I'm going to enter into my agenda the book signing. Should be fun!


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Alpine, Texas




Polished agate from Balmorhea, Texas


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Boquillas Calcite

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

North of Big Bend and South of Alpine, Texas


It is 6:00 p.m. Friday October 12, 2007. This will be second night that Inu and I have camped at Calamity Creek on Woodward Ranch, about 16 miles south of Alpine, Texas.

We are almost underneath Cathedral Peak. Our ICBM/GPS coordinates are N 30.14394, W -103.61227 This is a really beautiful place at about 4,700 ft above sea level (1,450 meters). You drive several miles west of Highway 118 which goes from Alpine, Texas to the Big Bend.

Calamity Creek runs year round, is clear and cool, and has fish. About 200 meters downstream from where I have the teardrop parked there is a really nice pool that one could swim in. I guess it is about 50 meters across (150 feet). It sits right underneath a rock cliff which has a grotto/cave about 30 feet up the cliff. You can be sure that in the past, what with there being ample water all year, that there were native peoples here.

There are hills all around us, and the plant life is mostly oak and juniper.

There are wild javelinas living in the area, wild turkeys, and of course skunks.

This is such a wild area that not only do I not have cell phone service either on either of my cell phones, AT&T or T- Mobile. I scanned for FM radio stations a bit ago and didn’t pick up any. So I have the stereo running; at the moment playing some nice Jefferson Airplane.

Yesterday we took our time driving down from El Paso. We passed the giant heliostat between Valentine and Marfa. I guess it allows the federal government to spend a lot of money trying to stop drugs and poor folks looking for work from coming north.
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We stopped at a rock shop in Marfa, and then also at the public radio station in Marfa where we joined up to the tune of $60-. KRTF 93.5 mhz. A really fine station.

We also went by the rock shop in Alpine yesterday where we bought the Audubon book on minerals and rocks (I had left my book at home) as well as some really nice fluorescent minerals. A nicer sample of benitoite than what I already had, and two pieces of calcite from Boquillas canyon in Big Bend which are like Terlingua material. Under long wave ultraviolet they fluoresce red, under short wave UV light they look blue, and when you shut off the shortwave UV light they phosphoresce.

Today we drove up to Fort Davis. We went into the Indian Lodge. I have probably passed it 75 times in the past, but have never gone in. It is a 1930s WPA project. Nice hotel, scenic road leading to the top of the mountain, and plenty of RV spots. Afterwards we drove all around Prude Ranch. I stopped and visited with the folks in the visitor center; basically next to the dining area for people who know the place.
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John Robert Prude is still alive and active in the business.
-http://www.pecos.net/news/arch98/022498l.htm
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We then drove across Limpia Creek and back to the radio telescope. When I was 14 it seemed much bigger and neater. Of course since then I have seen a little of the world and also the very large array west of Socorro.

We got out and walked up Limpia Creek on the way out. Then we went up to McDonald’s observatory.
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Afterwards driving back through Ft. Davis I stopped at a combination car dealership and live snake exhibit. Honest. West Texas is interesting! I tried to buy a little old Suzuki 4 wheel drive from them. The price was not out of line, but we couldn’t come to terms on the license plates and the safety sticker. Probably just as well.

About a block away we stopped at the rock shop in Ft. Davis. A nice lady runs the place. And she has a black light area, and a very good black light too! Her prices were reasonable. What more could you want? I got some polished fluorescent silicon dioxide (agate) from the Woodward Ranch and from Balmorhea. One dollar per piece…a very good price.

There is a big greenhouse in Ft. Davis which grows hothouse tomatoes, so I stopped and bought a few pounds of these tomatoes.

Tomorrow I will meet up with my friends from the El Paso Mineral & Gem Society, and we will go rock hunting on the Walker Ranch, which abuts the Woodward Ranch that we are camping on. Then we plan to spend one more night here next to Calamity Creek, before slowly making our way back on Sunday.



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It is the second morning I have woken up here in the wilds. The sun has not yet risen, in fact it is just starting to be dawn. Lots of stars are still visible. Goodness there are a lot of stars at night here. One can see cassiopea, the pleadieds (spelling?), of course the big dipper, orion and his belt, and much more.

Inu and I got up about an hour ago. I slept like a baby last night.

Before we went to bed we went and visited our neighbors. They are a family of 5 that is tent camping nearby. They are the only other people within miles. They are really interesting people. A man who looks 35 but just turned fifty and his four children. Two girls probably 10 and 12, and two teenage boys around 14 years old. I think the kids are Guatemalan citizens.

They work on the ranch black one day a week, and in return they get to camp here free of charge. They are basically living off the land.

The children’s mother is an Aztec, from Guatemala. They used to own a ranch there. So the kids are 100% fluent in Spanish and English. No accent at all in English. Honest.

They collect honey and beeswax from the hives up on the cliffs near the stream and sell it. They did this same thing when they were living in Northern Mexico too.
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They fish, and not long ago one of the boys killed a wild javelina with his bow and arrow, which they ate. Yesterday they killed a large rattle snake (ten rattles on his tail). They eat snake and although they have offerered me home made whole wheat bread, tea made from herbs growing in the stream, with their wild honey, fortunately they were nice to me and did not offer any of the snake meat.

So last night at sunset Inu and I took our LW/SW UV lamp and some fluorescent rocks down to show our neighbors. I began by explaining how dogs can hear higher sounds than humans, and young people like them can hear higher sounds than us old men. I told them about cell phone ring tones that teens can hear but adults can’t. The kids loved this idea, the old man wasn’t so sure.

So then I talked about rainbows and the spectrum of light. How you can feel the heat from a campfire even though you can’t see it - infrared light, and how there was also light beyond the purple in a rainbow. Just the human eye can’t see it. I told them that my battery powered lamp could put out two different colors (frequencies) of UV light. Long wave, which is just beyond what the human eye can see. Black light, like the cheapo hippie lights; and also the harder to make shortwave UV light. I explained how shortwave UV was bad for your eyes if you looked directly at it. Might give you snow blindness which is very painful.

Then we looked at some Benitoite I had bought at the rock shop day before yesterday. Next I showed them some terlingua type calcite which came out of boquillas canyon in the Big Bend. Under LW it glowed reddish, under SW it was blueish, and when the light was removed it continued to glow (phosphorescence).

The Dad asked one of the boys about a pickup truck that had driven in. The boy said the men had gone hunting. The old man asked him how he knew they had gone hunting. And the boy's answer is what reminded me of when I was living with the Cajuns in South Louisiana. The boy answered, “Because they had their spotlight.”
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Then all four kids went off for about 30 or 45 minutes hunting at night with my battery powered UV light. They came back with lots of rocks they had found which glowed green, red and orange.

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The Walker Ranch property abuts the Woodward Ranch. Prior to people getting old and dying, inheritances, etc. the Walker Ranch belonged to the Woodwards.

Teri Smith guided us on a rock hunting trip on the Walker Ranch. We turned off the highway at N30.13476, W-103.57852 and went through a locked gate. After driving several miles on a fairly rugged dirt road we parked the cars at N30.13221, W-103.59854

To get in to this site one really should be driving a high clearance vehicle, but my plucky little Toyota Crayola came through again.
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It is a really interesting area with lots of chalcedony, agate, and various quartz varietals.
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If one is able and willing to climb to the top of the hill at N30.13391, W-103.59778 there is a large site where the ancient Indians chipped their arrowheads.








Victorian Era Oil Lamps

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There are a lot of interesting frontier era things in the museum at Woodward Ranch about 15 miles south of Alpine, Texas.
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One of the things that stuck my eye was a very interesting oil lamp. Jan Woodward thinks that maybe it was made in Mexico since it has a brass crucifix on the base. What I found fascinating was the sizing. The diameter of the flame spreader on the Matador type burner is gigantic. It must be around 3 inches, yet the chimney is kind of shortened. A stubby version of what one would expect.
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The Matador style of burner was developed in Berlin, Germany about 1895. So this lamp at Woodward Ranch is very late 1800's or early 1900's. For cheap lamps or tourist lamps the single flat burner is much more common, so for sure this is a "real" lamp, and a very elegant one at that.


LINKS:




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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

British Politics


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From people who know him closely, I understand that Gordon Brown is a brilliant man who cares greatly about the British people's welfare.
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One thing is clear: He has schemed and plotted for almost 10 years to get the job of Prime Minister. And now he refuses to call an election becuase the polls say he would lose it.
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To an American this all seems rather strange. In this country the voters choose the person who will be their top politician. (Please ignore the fact that Al Gore got substantially more votes than the dummo who currently holds the job.)

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In the USA the vote may be rigged, but in Britain the voters don't get to vote for their leader at all. They merely vote for the party of their choice.
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Like skinning cats, there are many different ways to implement a fair system of government. One that to at least a limited degree listens to the wishes of the country's people. Many of these political systems are even called democracies by the local inhabitants.
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Juarez Femicide Cases Unravel

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Anyone who has traveled in Mexico or who has known Mexicans closely will understand when I say that Mexicans are no less intelligent than Germans, or Japanese, or anyone else. But the Mexican culture and political climate is horribly corrupt. Corruption is a form of arrogance and dishonesty.
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This corruption in Mexico results in outrageous poverty and distortions of the economic and judicial systems.
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And this is the same culture that Mexicans want to retain when they emigrate North to try and achieve economic prosperity in the USA. When the Europeans left for America they tried to leave behind their religious intolerance. Mexicans need to pick and choose, making this an opportunity to leave behind negative parts of their culture like corruption and the unequal treatment of women.
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Some really intelligent Mexicans need to spend some time and effort looking closely into this. Clearly the dishonestly and corruption portions of the culture need to be left behind in Mexico.
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Link: http://newspapertree.com/features/1712-juarez-femicide-cases-unravel
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Monday, October 08, 2007

25 cent Book Of Quotes




This weekend for twentyfive cents I bought a book of quotations at a garage sale.
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A cynic might call this a book of platitudes, but not me. I think its great!

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(click on the images and they will enlarge)


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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blacklight Portraits



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Here are a couple of nice blacklight photos I found on Flickr this morning.


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Internet Leukemia Support Group

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Not long ago the internet's main claim to fame was easy access to pornography. It has grown far beyond this just in the last 3 or 4 years. Like cell phones, this is one of the genuine improvements I have seen in the last 50+ years.
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There are several good CLL web sites on the internet. Link: http://tinyurl.com/flsla
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Here is a letter I read this morning on the ACOR site. I have left the names out to preserve their privacy and annonymity.
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I can easily identify with what you're experiencing. Your description of how fatigue affects your ability to work and spend time with your family or friends is a description of how many CLLers suffer with these symptoms.
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I've had to leave my everyday life because of my inability to meet the responsibilities of living alone and dealing effectively with such tasks as taking medications, doing house work, grocery shopping, sorting out bills and a whole host of other demands. As a result, I now reside in a nursing home.
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In the past, I was devoted to my teaching and research and felt both exhilarated and gratified through my work. It was frightfully hard to grasp the reality that my teaching days were over. It's still hard for me to see the wisdom in such statements as, "we are not what we do" or "I'm not a human doing; I'm a human being."
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I, personally find it difficult not to feel guilty about my situation. I realize this is infantile and only exacerbates a tendency to depression, but - - I also feel as if I'm whinnying when these symptoms descend and I can barely crawl out of bed. However, I do have good days. At times I experience the old energy rush when I'm interacting with friends or family, or talking about ideas.
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However, it's difficult to predict just when the good days will emerge. Nevertheless, on the whole, the struggle is worth the fight. Life is good. Others are in the same boat and we learn from one another. I'm a pretty scrappy old survivor who won't give up.
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With Warmest Wishes,
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bill Richardson


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Hillary Clinton is militaristic. Sort of a female Bush light. That is not really fair. She is about 1,000 times smarter than W, and her domestic agenda is much better than Bush's.
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But there is no way I could tolerate her cackle year after year. I see now why Bill Clinton was out getting blow jobs from interns.
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In fact all of the democratic candidates seem very similar - except the Governor of New Mexico. This guy has more experience than any of the other candidates. He also has a very well thought out foreign policy.
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These two videos are important. Really. Please take the time to watch them.
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Interview of Bill Richardson:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7XCl0X45P4

His foreign policy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur_JRPBDXrY

Motorscooters

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I rode a Vespa all over Europe for many years, and now that I live back in America I have a Honda scooter. Great transportation, one can always park easily, and you get fanstastic fuel economy.
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This quote was in the Yahoo group for Honda Scooters today:

"The average scooterist, despite the somewhat aloof, swaggering and superior exterior, is very much capable of such feelings as love, affection, intimacy and caring. These feelings just don't extend further than his current ride."
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Link: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1198/1470838552_f2a43ef702_b.jpg
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Columbus Day

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Monday is the day that people are supposed to celebrate the arrival of the man who officially found the new world. Of course lots of Scandinavians had visited earlier, and it is easy to forget that there were already people living in America prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
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It is a good opportunity to educate young people about how great America is, and also how bad the Europeans treated the people who were already living in North America.
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And it is great time to remember that the British government got very angry at the Chinese when they were asked to stop selling opium in China; and that the first ship filled with slaves for sale here coming from Africa was a Dutch ship.
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For sure, the USA was founded on fairly good principles. Of course it is easy to forget that our constitution says that both women and black folks are too stupid to vote. But eventually, after a great deal of very strong opposition, the paperwork was changed and we amended that bit.
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Now we just need to change people's attitudes.
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In Barcelona, Spain that have a really nice statue at the end of Las Ramblas celebrating Christopher Columbus.
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Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbus_Day
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Senator Larry Craig

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The Republican Senator Larry Craig, who was caught in an airport sting operation where the police were trying to stop rampant and open homosexual activity in the bathroom, needs to quit. He said he would resign, now apparently he isn't going to.

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Whether he is gay or not is irrelevant. As Stephen Fry says, what he wants to do with his own bum and his own penis is his business and no one else's.

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No, he does not need to resign because he is gay. He needs to resign because he is stupid and because he is dishonest.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Guys Wearing Skirts



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A friend of mine suggested that we go to the Ren fair in Las Cruces together. He told me that last year he wore his kilt. His family was Celtic a few generations back. The Celts worshiped the European wild boar because he was normally gentle, but was a great warrior and absolutely fearless in battle.



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My friend said that he's been trying to remember to ask to see my kilt, but that he forgets when he is over at my house.



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In Scotland the Thistle is the national flower. Because it is the armored knight of the plant kingdom. So here are a couple of pics. The gentleman on the left with the blue socks works at the famous Gleneagles in Scotland.



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Monday, October 01, 2007

Britney Spears loses custody of children

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Goodness girl, it is almost unheard of for a chick to lose custody of her kids.
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You are giving trailer trash chicks from Louisiana a bad name. You are really something.

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I lived in Louisiana for three years and you are making me feel a bit bad. Many of the people I met in Louisiana were nice folks. But you are not. You are a drug addict, a drunk, a fat ass, and you are on a powertrip.
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LINK: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/Music/10/01/spears.federline/
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You're Only As Free As You Feel


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If you own some old Jefferson Airplane albums, go play the song called Pretty As You Feel.
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It is available currently from Amazon on the CD called Bark which was originally released in 1971.
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One time in Germany I heard the song in English. And I would have sworn that it was Jefferson Airplane, but maybe not. Instead of the lyrics saying Your'e Only As Pretty As You Feel they had been changed to You're Only As Free As You Feel.
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It really is true. Nelson Mandela felt free even when he was in prison. Some people with good jobs and everything going for them do not feel free.
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I've looked extensively for who it is that recorded that pirate version, but with no success so far.


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http://hpgarland.blogspot.com/2006/10/youre-only-as-free-as-you-feel.html
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