Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday night

Tired. Got off the bus down the road tonight after work and had a fish sandwich at BK before walking home. No nap. I'm trying to minimize those now. They just make me stay up later. I'll take one if I'm tired and have to go to the gym, however.

Spent a lot of time tonight working on the query letter for the article I've been working on. I'll probably send that out tomorrow. I'd already written a draft over the weekend.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday night

Got a lot done today. Laundry, cooking, gym, grocery-shopping and dish-washing. Watching "Desperate Housewives" now. Better than the last two shows.

Was good. Next week sounds good, too. Now I'm watching "The 650-lb. Virgin." (Lost his virginity.)

I almost gave myself a day off from the gym but I'm glad I didn't. I'd been in a bit of a funk and snapped right out of it. Writing that piece over the holiday dredged up a lot of painful memories.

So, Tiger Woods is or is not having an affair, which got reported in the National Enquirer, and then in the middle of the night he got into his SUV and drove into a tree and a fire hydrant next door (in a suburb of Orlando). And then his wife busted in the back window of the SUV with golf clubs. Wow.

Made a big pot of chili today (taking some for lunch tomorrow). Also bought meat on sale at Publix: cubed steaks, stew beef, and ground sirloin. Also got a plain rotisserie chicken and had some of that for dinner with watermelon, which wasn't sweet. :-( Bootsy shared chicken breast with me. I'll stick with the plain rotisserie chicken since it doesn't have a whole paragraph of chemical ingredients.

Will make soup with the stew beef. I think I'll cook the cubed steaks in tomato sauce with the Cuban picadillo flavorings. (Something different.)

Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Linked to US Christian Group

From MyDD here.

Peter Tachell writing in The Guardian finds the British Commonwealth of Nations is but a Commonwealth of homophobes. Indeed, apart from perhaps Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, gay men are most severely persecuted in the former British colonies now independent that make up the Commonwealth. Of the 53 current members of the Commonwealth, more than 40 still criminalize same-sex relations, mostly under anti-sodomy laws that were originally imposed by the British government in the 19th century, during the period of colonial rule. The most draconian laws are found in The Gambia, Nigeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Jamaica. But these pale in comparison to a bill now making its way through the Ugandan Parliament that makes sodomy a capital offense. That's shocking enough, but the bill has ties to a conservative US Christian group whose members includes the high and mighty of American politics of both political parties.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 is going through Uganda's Parliament after receiving its first reading last month. According to Clause 2 of the Bill, a person who is convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment. But if that person is also HIV positive the penalty - under the heading "aggravated homosexuality" - is death. The mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay sex is punishable by life in prison. The bill also criminalizes advocacy of LGBT issues. Membership of LGBT organizations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for "promoting" homosexuality. Nor are gay Ugandans who flee their country safe. The bill has provisions for extra-territorial jurisdiction. The law, if passed, will also apply to Ugandans who engage in homosexual behavior while living abroad. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda. There are estimated to be 500,000 gay people in Uganda, from a population of about 31 million, according to gay rights groups.

This weekend on the margins of the Commonwealth Conference being held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told President Museveni of Uganda that legislation was "unacceptable." They might also have a chat with Senator John Ensign, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Charles Grassley, Governor Mark Sanford, Representative Bart Stupak and Representative Joe Pitts among others because they are all members of a radical Christian group called The Family. The group which dates back to the 1930s more recently came to our attention for the shenanigans surrounding the affair of Nevada Senator John Ensign and the Congressional boarding house on C Street, but according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, The Family is connected to the proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda. . . .

GROSS: Let's talk about The Family's connection to Uganda, where there's a, really a draconian anti-gay bill that has been introduced into parliament. Uganda already punishes the practice of homosexuality with life in prison. What would the new legislation do?

Mr. SHARLET: Well, the new legislation adds to this something called aggravated homosexuality. And this can include, for instance, if a gay man has sex with another man who is disabled, that's aggravated homosexuality, and that man can be - I suppose both, actually, could be put to death for this. The use of any drugs or any intoxicants in seeking gay sex - in other words, you go to a bar and you buy a guy a drink, you're subject to the death penalty if you go home and sleep together after that. What it also does is it extends this outward, so that if you know a gay person and you don't report it, that could mean - you don't report your son or daughter, you can go to prison.

And it goes further, to say that any kind of promotion of these ideas of homosexuality, including by foreigners, can result in prison terms. Talking about same sex-marriage positively can lead you to imprisonment for life. And it's really kind of a perfect case study in the export of a lot of American, largely evangelical ideas about homosexuality exported to Uganda, which then takes them to their logical end. . . .

What would Jesus say?

Saturday night really late

Been talking for hours with my friends in Canada and FTL/STL. Just got off the phone with friend in FTL. Time to chill.

Got a lot of rest today and walked down to Flanigan's for dinner. Had appetizers: Steak House Soup, mozzarella sticks and dolphin fingers. Then to Starbucks for a coffee. Got absolutely nothing done today, but that's OK.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Huffington Post: Palin Tricked By Comedian Again, Says Canada Should Drop Public Health Care (VIDEO)

At a recent stop on her "Going Rogue" book tour, Sarah Palin told Canadian comedian Mary Walsh that Canada should get rid of its public health care system.

Walsh is the co-creator and star of This Hour Has 22 Minutes -- a nightly news parody show in the same vein as The Daily Show -- and she arrived in character, as the conservative Marg Delahunty, to the Borders where Palin (the "Alaskan Aphrodite") was signing books.

"I just wanted to ask you if you have any words of encouragement for Canadian conservatives who have worked so hard to try to diminish the kind of socialized medicine we have up there." Walsh shouted to Palin as she approached the table.

Palin's handlers tried to help her by ushering Walsh out of the Borders, but Palin could not be deterred. When Palin left the signing, Walsh caught up with her in the parking lot, where Palin suggested that Canada should get rid of its public health care system. "Keep the faith" Palin said, "because common sense conservatism can be plugged in there in Canada too. In fact, Canada needs to reform its health care system and let the private sector take over some of what the government has absorbed."

Raw Story points out that it is unlikely this plan will go over well among Canadians -- even among conservatives.

A recent study found that 90 percent of Canadians support universal, single-payer health care. A poll taken last summer shows 82 percent of Canadians believe their health care system to be better than the US's, despite constant grumbling about waiting times for treatment of non-life-threatening conditions.

This is Palin's second brush with Canadian comedians. Last November a comedian from Montreal convinced the former governor she was speaking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Watch the video below.

Later, Walsh remarked to the Canadian Press that "It was great fun, but also very strange."

Walsh said, she found it equally bizarre that no one was allowed to ask Palin any questions at the book-signing....


"We're in a bookstore, at a public event, in a place one would think was a bastion of free speech. And no one was allowed to ask questions. What are they afraid of?"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday night

Project is done. Got cleaned up and am having Starkist SeaSations for dinner. Trying the new Thai with Basil now. Good (different, I would say) but not as good as the Savory Lemon & Herb.

Burned out on the project, but I'm glad I got it done on holiday days off (fortunately, as planned), since I have things to do around here this weekend, like wash clothes and cook. The project is a 7900-word non-fiction story. I hope I can submit it to a magazine. (Wrote query letter tonight.) I bared my soul on this one. (All names changed to protect privacy and it would be submitted under a fictitious name, so there's no glory in it for me.) (Just some healing, maybe.)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thursday night

Just finished working on the project. Almost done. Finished off the chicken salad today, with melba toast. That and a yogurt were enough. Now to chill.

Tonight it's supposed to get down in the 50s. It's cool already. The A/C has cycled off and I have windows and the slider open.

Nelson Reconciles?

From Digby here. Interesting.

Maybe I'm just drunk on cranberry fumes, but at first blush it actually looks as if Ben Nelson is actually helping keep the public option alive, (although he may not know it):

Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, has offered up an interesting explanation for his vote to move forward with debate of major health care legislation: he stopped his fellow Democrats from playing parliamentary hardball that he said would have led to a fast-tracked bill and “sidelined” centrists like himself.

In an op-ed in The Omaha World-Herald newspaper, Mr. Nelson suggested that had he not agreed to start formal debate on the health care bill, Senate Democratic leaders would have employed a tactic known as reconciliation to pass the legislation with a simple majority of 51 votes.

To bring the bill to the floor for formal debate, the majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, needed the votes of all 60 members of his caucus, 58 Democrats and two independents, including Mr. Nelson. Republicans voted unanimously against starting debate.

“This past Saturday evening, I voted for the Senate to proceed to a full and open debate on health care reform with two goals in mind,” Mr. Nelson wrote in the Omaha paper. “The first goal is that the Senate, now able to follow normal parliamentary procedures, will produce a bipartisan bill cutting the cost of health care for Nebraskans and all Americans. The second goal is that by following normal procedures — allowing much debate, many amendments and even an opportunity to consider a complete alternative to the new bill offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — we have avoided for now bringing up health care legislation by using the tactic known as budget reconciliation.”

Mr. Nelson said the road ahead would not be easy. “There are partisans on both sides who will try to undermine efforts toward the first goal,” he wrote. “However, if we don’t let the normal procedures prevail, it is likely reconciliation will prevail.”

Mr. Reid has suggested that reconciliation is off the table. But Mr. Nelson said that would not hold firm if the Senate deadlocks over procedural issues. “It will be right back on the table if we allow the normal Senate parliamentary procedures to break down,” he wrote.

He also noted that Republicans who have warned against the use of budget reconciliation to pass health care legislation had themselves used the reconciliation process to pass big bills when they were in the majority. “Some who discount the possibility of reconciliation have used it to avoid a filibuster in the past,” Mr. Nelson wrote. “They were against filibusters before they were for them.”

I realize this is all self-serving bipartisan tripe for the hometown crowd, but still, by saying that reconciliation isn't off the table he's keeping his most despised piece of the legislation viable. The public option has long been thought to be the piece most likely to be broken off for a reconciliation vote. He's saying that Reid hasn't made any real committment to keeping it off the table which means Reid's still got the threat in hand, which I kind of doubted after last Saturday. (Indeed, I assumed he'd committed to taking it off the table in order to get Nelson on board for the first vote.) It looks like Nelson didn't extract that promise after all and he's using the threat himself as an excuse not to filibuster. It ain't much, but it's something.

For more on reconciliation, and what it means, Kagro X has a nice explanation of it today at Congress Matters.

Obama's Thanksgiving address

Biden Pardons Single Yam In Vice Presidential Thanksgiving Ritual

From The Onion.

WASHINGTON—In keeping with a longstanding Thanksgiving tradition, Vice President Joe Biden ceremonially pardoned a 4-pound yam today at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. "Under my authority as vice president of the United States of America, I hereby grant this yam full and unconditional clemency," a smiling Biden declared as he gently patted "Spud," a Beauregard sweet potato grown in Louisiana and selected from millions of candidates yielded by this year’s harvest. "May he never find himself in a casserole. Right, little guy?" Like yams reprieved before him, Spud will ride as an honored guest aboard the second float of the Disneyland Thanksgiving Day Parade before spending the rest of his life in the comfort and safety of a tuber petting zoo.

Dare Them To Filibuster

From Turkana here. (And definitely threaten to relieve Lieberman of his Homeland Security Committee chairmanship and any other privileges he enjoys as part of the Democratic caucus. He's a piece of work.)

So, some are suggesting that the Democrats are willing to punt the public option, under threat of filibuster, in the Senate. If so, that would be absurd. The Democratic leadership's response to those threatening a filibuster should be simple: we dare you to try. Because if the Democrats stand their ground, they will win. Even if the bill temporarily fails, those key senators responsible for its failure will be done, in politics. And then we can get on with the business of reforming and repairing this broken nation.

Let's look at some easy facts. The public option continues to poll consistently extremely well. Even in Connecticut. Even in Arkansas. Even in Maine. Even in Nebraska and North Carolina. Anyone notice a pattern, here? And key Senators from those states want to be responsible for derailing the public option? And because of that threat, the leadership may decide not even to try?

It's time for the Democratic leadership to stop playing games. Move the bill forward. With the public option. Dare those senators to make good on their threats. Get our very popular president back on the airwaves. When he speaks, people listen. And support for his issues improves. Because people support him. And because he's superb at selling an issue. So, send him to some of those key states. Force some of those recalcitrant senators to debate him. In public. Force them to explain to their constituents why they are opposing a bill those constituents support.

By even wavering on what to do, the Democratic leadership sends a message that they don't really believe in the public option, or that their belief is not strong. Taking a stand would send a very different message. It would prove that the leadership knows they are doing what is right, knows that the public supports doing what is right, and is ready to stand down those who oppose doing what is right and what the public supports.

It's not complicated. Press forward. Don't waver. Act as if this matters. Dare those threatening to filibuster to do so. Force them to decide whether they want to be on the wrong side of history. Do it very publicly. Put their careers and their legacies on the line. Buckling to a threat is the definition of weakness. The Democrats are in a position of strength. It's time they started acting like it.

Wednesday night

Just got off the phone with my friend in Canada. Was at the gym and store earlier after a nap. Then I was hungry and made a load of chicken salad out of the barbecued Publix rotisserie chicken from the other day (had picked up some celery at the store for that). Ate it on melba toast. A few barbecue notes here and there but still excellent. Hadn't made chicken salad in a while and have been craving it lately.

An old friend of my friend's is experiencing something of a Madame Bovary moment in her marriage. My friend unfortunately has been dragged into it. Now it's become extremely complicated and keeps my friend up at night. (My friend likes the guy.) "What a tangled web we weave . . . ." (*) I just think it's probably always a mistake to get involved with a married person. (I just wish more gays had the protection of legal marriage--or the equivalent--for their relationships.)

A good segue to one of my favorite poems:

Her Reply
(WRITTEN BY SIR WALTER RALEIGH)

IF all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy Love.

But Time drives flocks from field to fold;
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward Winter reckoning yields:
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies,
Soon break, soon wither—soon forgotten,
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy-buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,—
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy Love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy Love.
Here's Christopher Marlowe's poem, to which she is replying:
The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
COME live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

There will we sit upon the rocks
And see the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold.

A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my Love.

Thy silver dishes for thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.

The ill-conceived project at work was back today. :-(

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday night

Well, the ill-conceived project at work is done. Our department was practically paralyzed for over a week on account of this project.

Walked my mile home today. Good thing, since I pigged out on potato chips at work. (Don't eat them much.) I also had a bacon double cheeseburger at Burger King and a small Coke Icee before walking.

A few blocks into the walk, I saw a little white dog (a poodle?) trying to cross US1 (from the east side, where I walk). I was terrified. I tried to alert the oncoming cars but the dog ended up running back toward the residential area east of US1 (where he probably came from). I guess he got spooked. Whew! The dog appeared to be well groomed and out of his element. He probably escaped from one of the houses back there. I'd felt compelled to catch him and take him back home and then try to find the owner later. (I'm sure glad he ran off, though I kept watching for him/her and I walked up the street.) Whew. I'm not prepared to have a dog here, even a little one (especially with the cats).

Howard Dean subbing for Rachel tonight. Bernie Sanders was just on, talking about the public option. See here on reconciliation.

Alan Grayson was on Olbermann talking about changing the rules for cloture. Too bad I missed the segment on Glenn Beck calling Mary Landrieu a prostitute and a hooker. I'll have to dig something up. See "Crooks and Liars" here.

Anthony Weiner on now, talking about the public option, etc.

Dean has subbed before. He does a good job.

A Milestone in the Health Care Journey [Updated]

Read it all here, from The Atlantic. This is the article that Rahm Emmanuel made required reading for White House staff over the weekend. But see this too ("Required Reading in the White House Needs to be Expanded"). See also here and here.

When I reached Jonathan Gruber on Thursday, he was working his way, page by laborious page, through the mammoth health care bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had unveiled just a few hours earlier. Gruber is a leading health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is consulted by politicians in both parties. He was one of almost two dozen top economists who sent President Obama a letter earlier this month insisting that reform won't succeed unless it "bends the curve" in the long-term growth of health care costs. And, on that front, Gruber likes what he sees in the Reid proposal. Actually he likes it a lot.

"I'm sort of a known skeptic on this stuff," Gruber told me. "My summary is it's really hard to figure out how to bend the cost curve, but I can't think of a thing to try that they didn't try. They really make the best effort anyone has ever made. Everything is in here....I can't think of anything I'd do that they are not doing in the bill. You couldn't have done better than they are doing."

Gruber may be especially effusive. But the Senate blueprint, which faces its first votes tonight, also is winning praise from other leading health reformers like Mark McClellan, the former director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services under George W. Bush and Len Nichols, health policy director at the centrist New America Foundation. "The bottom line," Nichols says, "is the legislation is sending a signal that business as usual [in the medical system] is going to end." . . .

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday night

Enough politics. Time to relax. Will watch Anthony Bourdain. I hope it's not one I've seen recently.

Had two pieces of pumpkin pie at work and walked my mile home today. Pigged out on roast beef.

Tired.

[Later] Got electric bill from mailbox tonight. Was down appreciably from last month's. Good. Weather still too warm for this time of year.

Defining Reform Down

From Turkana here.

Nate Silver points out that the public option still scores well with the public, and was determined to be a cost-saver, by the CBO; but he then goes on to say that the politics may be too difficult, reconciliation may be problematic, and we may have to settle for a bill without a public option. He also comes to the absurd conclusion that passing something will activate the Democratic base, in 2010. He doesn't seem to understand that the Democratic base cares about the substance of that something, and won't be feeling particularly motivated if that something is seen to be a weak capitulation from what already was a watered down compromise. Particularly if the Democratic "leadership" is seen to have not really tried.

Big Tent Democrat has a more honest and pragmatic approach: if the public option is dropped, stop calling it health care reform. Which it really wouldn't be. Call it health care assistance. Which it would be. And then keep trying for real reform, later. The problem is that no one will go for that. Because it's too honest. Certain Democrats would prefer to take any dog of a bill they get, call it "reform," pat themselves on the back, and move on.

See here and here, too. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) was just on Keith Olbermann and was more sanguine. Sen. Sherrod Brown is going to be on Rachel. Let's see what he has to say. (Lawrence O'Donnell is sitting in for Rachel tonight -- I'm not a fan.) Brown, who wrote the Senate HELP Committee bill with Whitehouse, was sanguine.

Sign the petition!

The Senate starts debating health care next week. But if it passes without a public option, there's only one person to blame: Harry Reid.

As the majority leader of the Senate, the power to pass a public option is squarely in Reid's hands. Will Reid let three or four corrupt Senators owned by the insurance industry hold the public option hostage? Or will he use the reconciliation process to allow a simple majority vote on a public option?

The choice is Reid's and Reid's alone. Let's make sure he knows it.

Sign our petition to Harry Reid: Get lobbyist-owned Democrats in line, or use reconciliation to pass a public option.

Click here to sign: http://action.firedoglake.com/reconciliation


During debate in the Senate this weekend, a handful of corrupt Democratic senators like Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu, who have taken big donations from insurance companies, promised to vote against health care if it included a public option.[1]

If Harry Reid can't get them in line for a simple procedural vote, then he can use "reconciliation" and call for a majority vote on the public option. Otherwise, Harry Reid is using his power as Majority Leader to allow a handful of corrupt senators thwart the democratic process. We can't let that happen.

Let Harry Reid know the public option rests on his shoulders. Click here to sign our petition:

http://action.firedoglake.com/reconciliation


We know who the corrupt Democrats are working for -- the insurance companies want to kill the public option once and for all. Goldman Sachs expects insurance stocks to rise by 59% in 10 years if there is no public option, but drop by 36% if there is one. That's what happens when nobody likes your product. Their fat profits depend on being the only game in town.[2]

The American people understand that. That's why 72% support a public option, to end insurance monopolies, increase competition and control the crushing burden of health care costs for American families.[3] A majority in the Senate understands that, too -- that's why 51 have said they will vote for a bill with a public option.[4]

It comes down to a simple question: will Harry Reid allow for majority rule? Or will he let corrupt members of his own caucus block a majority of the public and Congress who want a public option?

Sign our petition to Reid: whip the corrupt ConservaDems into line, or use reconciliation to give Americans what they want and pass a public option.

Click here to sign: http://action.firedoglake.com/reconciliation


Thanks for all you do.

Sincerely,

Jane, Ben, Eve, Jon, Lowell, Michael, Noelle, and the rest of the FDL Action team

Sources:

1. Campaign Contributions From Insurance Companies to Senators Blocking the Public Option

2. Goldman Sachs: Insurance Stocks Would Drop 36% By 2019 With House Public Option

3. October 27 NBC News Poll: Public Option Has 72% support

4. Jon Tester Would Vote For Schumer's Public Option: That's 51

Sunday night

Just saw this from Robert Reich.

The Senate has been corrupted. See here. Maybe we should do health care reform another day. Seems like we need more campaign finance reform in the meantime. Some of our representatives are not working for their constituents.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday evening

No "Desperate Housewives" tonight. The American Music Awards are on ABC.

Got cleaned up and went to the store. I have $3 and change left on my gift card from work. Bought two pounds of the hot deli turkey and some macaroni and cheese. (It looked good.) I don't eat it often. And it was good. I had it for dinner with some turkey and a yogurt. Right now I'm roasting a bottom round roast. I'll have plenty of food for the week. I also bought some more lean ground beef (on sale) and will make either chili or picadillo with that. (Have fixings to make both.) Maybe I'll make both.

This week, we have Thanksgiving and Friday off from work. I have no plans except to work back on the project. Last year I had Thanksgiving dinner at Flanigan's and it was terrible. Bland, rubbery lunch meat turkey. Everything else was OK.

An old friend of mine from FSU will be in town from Denver Nov. 30 - Dec. 16. We plan on getting together. I just got an email from him recently.

I canceled the Comcast HD box installation (to get On Demand movies in HD). I don't use On Demand that often and it's not worth the extra money. The HD movies in the standard format look pretty good.

Now for "60 Minutes."

Roast beef came out great (don't like it rare). Had a few slices of that for dinner with some rye melba toast buttered with Smart Balance buttery spread (supposed to be good for you).

Watching little people on TLC ("Little Parents, First Baby"). Their baby is going to grow up to be an average-size person, which is what the parents wanted. Can't wait till next week to watch "The 650-Pound Virgin" (haven't seen it).

He's had to have operations for this (excess skin):

Sunday afternoon

Just had some of that barbecued rotisserie chicken and a yogurt for lunch. The chicken is not bad, but from now on I'm getting the regular rotisserie chicken. No barbecue and no lemon/pepper (or whatever). I have to get back to Publix today to pick up some of the turkey, etc.

Just read Frank Rich's column on Sarah Palin and her new book (he actually read it). He had this to say:

But no matter how much Palin tries to pass for “center-right,” she’s unlikely to fool that vast pool of voters left, right and center who have already written her off as unqualified for the White House. The G.O.P. establishment knows this, and is frightened. The demographic that Palin attracts is in decline; there’s no way the math of her fan base adds up to an Electoral College victory.

Yet among Republicans she still ties Mitt Romney in the latest USA Today/Gallup survey, with 65 percent giving her serious presidential consideration, just behind the 71 for her evangelical rival, Mike Huckabee. The crowds lining up in the cold for her book tour are likely to be the most motivated to line up at the polls in G.O.P. primaries. They don’t speak the same language as Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Michael Steele, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner or, for that matter, McCain. They are more likely to heed Palin salesmen like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh than baffled Bush administration grandees like Peter Wehner, who last week called Palin “a cultural figure much more than a political one” on the Web site of the establishment conservative organ Commentary. . . .

There was also this:

Even the far right has figured out that homophobia is a turnoff to swing voters, which is why Palin goes out of her way in “Going Rogue” to remind us she has her very own lesbian friend. (What’s left unsaid is that the book’s credited ghost writer, Lynn Vincent, labeled homosexuality as “deviance” in her own writings for World, the evangelical magazine.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday night

Finished project today. First draft is done, at least. The working title is "Prescription Drug Abuse Hits Home." You know what (who) that's about. It's been painful to write but I had to do it. It may be 6,000 words when I'm finally finished. I'm going to add an epilogue, but not tomorrow. I have things to do.

Tonight I wanted to watch "Bruno" on Comcast "On Demand" (something I wouldn't go see in the theater). When I tried to order the movie, I got this message: "This model of settop does not support High Definition Content. Please call 305-COMCAST." Hmmm. I'd never got that message before. When I called Comcast, they said I'd need to get a new box for HDTV (you need a box to get On Demand). Their office is closed on Sundays, otherwise I'd drove over and pick it up myself (Miami Gardens and I-95), so someone is coming next Saturday to install it (for $19.99). The Sandra Bullock movie I watched last weekend -- Comcast just told me -- wasn't high-definition (it didn't appear to be). Anyway, this box will cost $6.95/month -- not bad.

Watching "Bruno" anyway, in the standard format.

[Later] I couldn't finish the movie. I watched 30 minutes of it (to where he'd arrived in the Middle East and was talking about "hummus" vs. "Hamas"). Absolutely horrible. Not the least bit funny. Inaccurate depiction of gay people -- just made them look bad. What's the point of this movie anyway?

On second thought, I think I'll just keep this cable box. I don't watch that many movies on "On Demand" anyway, and I can put up with the standard format.

[Later] Ended up watching the rest of the movie, since I'd paid for it. It got better but it was still bad. Gays certainly don't benefit from Sacha Baron Cohen's attempts to shine a bad light on homophobia, if that's what he was trying to accomplish. Gays don't look good in that light, either. Do us no favors. Mind your own business.

Juvenile coelacanth filmed for first time

From Chris at AmericaBlog here.

It wasn't long ago that people thought this fish had been extinct for 80 million years. The fish is living in Indonesian waters and it's not alone. What a cool discovery.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday night

Back from store and gym, after a brief nap. (No napping on the bus today, but more on that in a bit.) Had my protein drink and got to Publix well before 9:00 to see what the hot food was at the deli today. Fridays is supposed to be fried catfish, not that I'd get that. Well, they didn't have it anyway. They had, rather, some kind of chicken fricassee that looked like it might give me a stomach flu, so I bought a barbecued rotisserie chicken instead. Tomorrow I don't plan on leaving the house, but I'll go back there on Sunday to get a load of the turkey. I know they do make that, as advertised, on Sundays.

Today at work, all employees received $100 Publix gift cards (one for each) for Thanksgiving. Nice. I used it tonight.

So I think we're having record high temperatures this weekend. Ugh. I'll be inside.

The past couple of days they had framed art prints on sale in the lobby of my office building, with part of the proceeds going to an educational charity. Last night as I was leaving the building at 7:00, they were moving the artwork upstairs somewhere for safe-keeping overnight. As I got off the elevator, I saw another elevator loaded up with pieces, about ready to head upstairs. When I walked by, a little piece sitting right inside the elevator door "spoke" to me. Today, on a quick break, I found the piece and bought it.

When I pointed it out to the salesperson, he said, "The Miro?" I didn't know it was a Miro, but apparently it's pretty famous. He said he liked it, too, and that if no one bought it, he was going to get it for his bathroom (it's 21 1/2" x 17 3/4"). Then I mentioned that I had a Miro in my own bathroom (above). Whadda ya know. Anyway, this is "Blue II."

Joan Miró. Blue II. 1961. Oil on canvas. 270 x 355 cm [8.86 x 11.65 feet -- big!]. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.

So I couldn't nap on the bus because I had the artwork with me, face up on my lap. (Magazine on top of that.) Wasn't that tired anyway.

P.S. This is my Christmas present to myself. (It wasn't expensive.)

P.P.S. It looks a little lost on the bedroom wall tonight, but we'll have to see what it looks like tomorrow.

[Later] The master bedroom here is pretty big (and has a huge walk-in closet that I could possibly rent out if I had to). (You could sleep at least two people in there comfortably.) When I moved here, all the walls were painted ivory, so I created some "accent walls" in colors. The accent wall in the master bedroom was painted a deep, cerulean blue. That was the wall you faced when you entered the room. I put the bed up against that wall. The problem with that was that if the bedroom door was open, light from the living room would stream into my face in the morning or when I was trying to take a nap. So a while back I moved the bed to the opposite wall. Now the light streams in and hits the dark blue wall and is absorbed. The bed is now up against an ivory wall.

I must say, the bed looked cool against the blue wall with the starburst thing above it (B. and I got this stuff together). It reminded me of "Starry Night."

Tonight, when I was hanging up the "Blue II" on the blue wall, I re-hung the starburst on the wall above the bed. Still looks good. (It's a king-size bed.)

The Great Disconnect Between Stocks and Jobs

See Robert Reich here.

How can the stock market hit new highs at the same time unemployment is hitting new highs? Simple. The market is up because corporate earnings are up. Corporate earnings are up because companies are cutting costs. And the biggest single cost they’re cutting is their payrolls. So they let people go and, presto, their balance sheets look better and their stock prices rise.

In the old-fashioned kind of recession decades ago, big companies laid off people with the expectation of rehiring them when the economy turned up. Then a few recessions back, companies started laying off people for good, never rehiring them even when the economy recovered.

In the Great Recession of 2008-2009, companies are going a step further. They’re using this sharp downturn to cut payrolls even below where they were when times were good. Outsourcing abroad, setting up shop in China and elsewhere, contracting out, replacing people with software and automated machines – they're doing whatever it takes to get payrolls down so earnings bounce up.

Caterpillar earned $404 million in the third quarter, or 64 cents a share. Analysts had expected only 5 cents. Caterpillar’s stock is up 165 percent since March. How did Caterpillar do it? Not by selling more bulldozers. It did it by cutting over 37,000 jobs.

The result, overall, is an asset-based recovery, not a Main Street recovery. Yes, the economy is growing again, but the surge in productivity is a mirage. Worker output per hour is skyrocketing because companies are generating almost as much output with fewer workers and fewer hours.

The Fed, meanwhile, has become an enabler to all this, making it as cheap as possible for companies to axe their employees. Money costs so little these days it’s easy to substitute capital for labor. It’s also easy to buy up foreign assets with cheap American money. And it’s now blissfully easy for Wall Street to borrow money almost free and buy all sorts of interests in foreign assets, especially commodities. That's why we're seeing the prices of foreign commodities and other assets go through the roof.

At the same time, the Treasury continues to be fixated on keeping banks afloat. The Administration's mortgage mitigation efforts are lagging. Small businesses are starved of credit. The White House has announced a "jobs summit," which is better than nothing but not nearly as good as pushiing immediately for a larger stimulus, a new jobs tax credit, and a WPA-style jobs program.

The Fed and the Teasury have, in effect, placed a huge bet on a recovery driven by asset prices. That’s a bad bet. The great disconnect between the stock market and jobs is pushing stock prices way out of line with the real economy. This isn't sustainable.

No economy can recover without consumers. Yet American consumers, who constitute 70 percent of the U.S. economy, are facing mounting job losses as well as pay cuts. They’re in no mood to buy and won’t be for some time.

Where is this heading? No place good. Without a major shift in policy -- both at the Fed and in the White House -- the economics point to a big stock-market correction and a double dip. The politics point to substantial losses for Democrats next year.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday night

Worked till 7:00. Got off the bus down the road and walked to Publix. They were supposed to have hot roast pork at the deli but had none today. I needed something for lunch tomorrow so I got chicken tenders (fried, over $8/lb.). I've had them before. They're OK. Had a couple for dinner, too.

Got my new nicotine solution today. Did two mixes and am trying now. Much better.

Tonight Bootsy attacked Lucky in the kitchen when I was getting ready to feed them. I swatted Bootsy and he's sulking now. Lucky just wants to get along. I felt bad for him. It looked like Bootsy was trying to kill him, and Lucky was in distress. Bootsy has been acting kind of clingy lately and I don't want him to think that I'm his and that we're against Lucky.

Watching Project Runway. Then I'll watch Anthony Bourdain.

I've seen the Anthony Bourdain (Azores) but the Project Runway was the (sixth?) season finale. I guess the right person won, although I didn't like it that all her clothes were black. I frankly liked the one (Carol Hannah) they kicked off first, but they said there was no theme or thread to her collection. That was true, but I thought her clothes were the best. Suzy Menkes was one of the judges. She's put on some weight. I first saw her on Absolutely Fabulous. She still wears the same hair style.

I normally don't talk about work since I know people from work read this, and things at work normally run well. But this week has been upside-down crazy as an ill-conceived project has maxed out the department. A duplication of effort. Re-inventing the wheel. Enough said.

Ate the last of the picadillo for lunch today. Excellent. Even my Cuban cohorts thought so (I had them taste it), and I don't think they were just being polite. It was really good. I'll make it again. It's not that difficult. Nice change from all the the chili and "chopped steak" I've been eating. One of my co-workers suggested making Shepherd's Pie with the ground beef. I love Shepherd's Pie but it's loaded with carbs (mashed potato topping). I've made it before. I also make Tamale Pie, but that has the cornbread topping.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday night

Back from gym and store, after a nap. Didn't get anything at the store. I was looking for the hot food at the deli (aside from fried or rotisserie chicken). Nothing at this time of night (almost 10:00). On Sunday, when I walked out of the gym (a little after 6:00 p.m.), they had all the different hot foods out (meat and side dishes). I bought a pound or so of the turkey and it was delicious (Bootsy thought so too). They have a different meat every day for $5+/lb. I now know you have to get there earlier to buy the hot food. I'll definitely get the turkey again and would like to try the other stuff. Years ago I used to get their hot food and liked it.

The turkey, white meat, was kind of hacked up (rather than sliced) with a bit of sliced onion and green pepper into a juicy mass, with the addition of some stock and/or drippings. (Who likes dry turkey breast?)

Tomorrow I'm working a little later and will walk my mile home. Maybe I'll stop off at Publix and see what's hot at the deli.

Apparently today was B.'s day off (Wednesdays usually are). The black Hummer was parked in the handicapped space at Flanigan's restaurant/lounge when I rode by there on the bus home (6:45). It was also there when I went to the gym (a little after 9:00) but gone when I came home from the gym (a little before 10:00). I'm just waiting for them to get drunk and have another fight and call me again on the phone. (B. on tequila is frightening.)

I got a kick out of my doctor yesterday. He's very fit, by the way, I guess in his early 50s. He's gay and has a "husband" (as he calls him). (He's also a lawyer but doesn't practice law. He went to law school and practiced law before studying medicine.) I was talking about the electronic cigarette. He'd never heard of it but was keenly interested and said he was going to research it on the Internet later that night. (He knows I smoke.) He said he also smokes, Marlboro Lights, and finds regular cigarettes too strong. (I take it he only smokes when he's out socializing, however.) I smoke ultralights and also find regular cigarettes too strong. I was telling him about getting dizzy on the nicotine in the electronic cigarette and that I was going to have to make it weaker by diluting the solution.

My doctor and I also talked about the health care legislation in Congress. He's worried that the lobbyists will have their way and that reform will be delayed this time around.

Watching Rachel Maddow. Sen. Harkin said Lieberman will come around and allow the health care bill to go to a vote. Harkin does not want to see passage through reconciliation.

Back to HGTV.

The water here has been awful lately. Once a year now, over a two-week period, they flush out the system with a very strong-tasting chlorine. It's nasty. I don't recall that they used to do this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reading Lady Ga-Ga's Pokerface

From Andrew Sullivan here.

Tuesday night

Was at the doctor's for a regular check-up. All is well. Again, high good cholesterol which counteracts the bad. Plus other cholesterol was lower. Hmmmm. I'm trying to think how that could be. How has my eating or cooking changed? Maybe just a blip.

Had the picadillo for lunch today. Excellent. Ready-to-eat canned black beans were good, too. (I thought Kirby's used to be the best, but I can't find them.) Today I tried the Conchita. I also bought a can of Bush's.

I have to say, the canned seasoned Kirby's were better than the black beans at any of the Cuban restaurants in downtown Miami (which says a lot, considering Miami is heavily Cuban). I'm no food critic but I know what tastes good.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Email from Sen. Durbin re: the public option

Dear [MOI],

We already knew that a majority of Americans support the inclusion of a public health insurance option in the final health care reform bill.

But now that the results of our online poll are in, something else is now clear: the American people who voted for change last November will settle for nothing less than a robust public option.

Over 80,000 people have responded to our poll, proving Americans know the difference between a strong public option and a weak one -- and a weak one just won't do.

Click here to review the results of our public option poll.

Median Preference Ranking Summary

[Click on the diagram to view in full]

Our poll results show that Americans want the strongest possible public option that can pass the Congress:

  • Four out of five survey respondents voiced full support for a "50 state public option."

  • A majority of respondents voiced moderate to high support for a public option that includes a state "opt-out" provision.

  • Roughly three out of four survey respondents voiced little or no support for a public option bill that requires states to "opt-in" before they can participate, and

  • Only 12% of respondents voiced moderate to full support for a so-called "trigger," with 65% completely opposed to such a compromise.

Click here to review the results of our public option poll.

I am sharing these results with my colleagues in the Senate this week. If any member of the Democratic caucus thinks no one will notice the absence of a robust public option in the final health care reform bill, they have another thing coming.

I hope you'll take a moment to review the results of our poll as I continue pushing for the strongest possible public health insurance option to pass the Congress. Your feedback will no doubt help me make the case that Americans demand a public health insurance option that is made available to Americans in all 50 states starting on day one.

Thank you for your engagement on this critical issue.

Sincerely,

Dick Durbin
U.S. Senator

What Glenn Said

From Tristero at Hullabaloo here.

Greenwald:

This is literally true: the Right's reaction to yesterday's announcement -- we're too afraid to allow trials and due process in our country -- is the textbook definition of "surrendering to terrorists." It's the same fear they've been spewing for years. As always, the Right's tough-guy leaders wallow in a combination of pitiful fear and cynical manipulation of the fear of their followers. Indeed, it's hard to find any group of people on the globe who exude this sort of weakness and fear more than the American Right. . . .

Monday night

Was tired of making chili with ground beef, so tonight I made a load of Cuban-style Picadillo. Found some recipes on the Internet and consulted them. Came out great. Having it for dinner and will take some to work for lunch. Also made a little white rice to go with it. Had to run to the store to get pitted olives. I'd bought over 2 1/2 lbs. of lean ground beef (on sale) last Friday and had to cook it soon. Also bought a couple of cans of "ready-to-eat" black beans.

Watching Rachel Maddow now. Anthony Bourdain was a repeat of one I'd seen recently (on Chicago). Good but I switched to a new show on HGTV at 10:30. Did some vacuuming in the cat box area to prevent the spread of cat litter throughout the house. I have to say, if I didn't have cats, this place would stay a lot cleaner. But they're worth it.

Did some research on nicotine. Saw this (among other things) in the Wikipedia: "Technically, nicotine is not significantly addictive, as nicotine administered alone does not produce significant reinforcing properties.[35] However, only after coadministration with an MAOI, such as those found in tobacco, nicotine produces significant behavioral sensitization, a measure of addiction potential. This is similar in effect to amphetamine.[36]"

This also:

The primary therapeutic use of nicotine is in treating nicotine dependence in order to eliminate smoking with its risks to health. Controlled levels of nicotine are given to patients through gums, dermal patches, lozenges, electronic/substitute cigarettes or nasal sprays in an effort to wean them off their dependence.

However, in a few situations, smoking has been observed to apparently be of therapeutic value to patients. These are often referred to as "Smoker’s Paradoxes".[45] Although in most cases the actual mechanism is understood only poorly or not at all, it is generally believed that the principal beneficial action is due to the nicotine administered, and that administration of nicotine without smoking may be as beneficial as smoking, without the higher risk to health due to tar and other ingredients found in tobacco. . . .

Switching back and forth between the electronic cigarette and the "analog" cigarette tonight. The e-cig as currently configured is way too strong for me. (I'm doing something about it.) Judging by my experience with this thing, I've realized I'm not that much of a nicotine addict. See this too:

The amount of nicotine absorbed by the body from smoking depends on many factors, including the type of tobacco, whether the smoke is inhaled, and whether a filter is used. For chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, snus and snuff, which are held in the mouth between the lip and gum, or taken in the nose, the amount released into the body tends to be much greater than smoked tobacco.
Good that the nicotine level in the e-cig can be controlled.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday night

Tonight I went to the gym, and after I'd done a few crunches I said I don't want to be here, and I left. I was just there on Friday.

I've been working on a project for the last two Saturdays and part of Sunday. I think I'll go to the gym on Tuesdays/Wednesdays and Fridays, at least until this project gets done. (Knock on wood.) I need the other part of Sunday to do chores, like cook and clean.* I went straight from the gym to the store and then came back home and did stuff, plus watched "60 Minutes."

And now "Desperate Housewives." So the public schools aren't good enough for Carlos and Gaby's daughter, who basically got kicked out of a private school on account of Gaby's loud mouth a couple of shows ago? (Don't get me wrong -- I love Gaby.) Gaby's been attempting to home-school her since then and (failing at that) is now trying to get her into a Catholic school.

Show was OK. I got a kick out of the Miami treatment.

The weather, by the way, has been pleasant the past few days, but I hope the unseasonable crappy weather we had throughout most of October (which is usually a nice month) is not a precursor of things to come. Lucky spent a lot of time out on the terrace this weekend. Bootsy hasn't been out much, maybe because the floor's too gritty for him and he has to think of his longish coat (and cleaning it). I'll get out and scrub the terrace eventually, but I want to get this project out of the way. It's taking up a lot of my time on the weekends now. My goal is to have it completed over the Thanksgiving holidays (as usual, we have a long, four-day weekend). We'll see about that.

__________________
*Thank God the apartment was deep-cleaned two weeks ago.

Bishops speak for 9% of Americans, 55% of House of Representatives

From MyDD here.

Imagine a country in which a small group of religious zealots, run by old men in robes, has an iron grip on the country's political institutions despite a core following of only about nine percent of the people.

This small but powerful league tries to influence broader public opinion but fails. Nonetheless, it continues to be a force far beyond its numbers for policies that keep women from obtaining rights previously granted by the government, stop the advancement of anti-discrimination laws against gay people, and block other social and health reforms such as educating children about sexual health and distributing condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS and other diseases.

The mullahs in Tehran had better move over and make room for the Catholic Bishops in America. . . .

Meanwhile, the city of Washington, we learned in Thursday's Washington Post, is being told by the Bishops lobby that if it wants the larger institution of Catholic services to continue to operate in the city, the government must circumvent its own laws against discrimination pertaining to gay people. . . .

Saturday night really late

Tonight I watched an "On Demand" movie on Comcast, "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, also starring Mary Steenburgen and Betty White. I enjoyed it. I hadn't watched an "On Demand" movie since before B. left. There wasn't a lot else on, and I have time for that on Saturday nights.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Carrie Prejean Has Eight Sex Tapes

From The Advocate here:

Former Miss California and antigay spokesperson Carrie Prejean has called her recently leaked sex tape the biggest mistake of her life -- a mistake she made at least seven other times, according to RadarOnline.com.

The Website reports there are more 30 nude photos and eight sex tapes of Prejean. All of the videos are solo performances and Prejean can be seen touching herself and moaning in a few of the videos.

Prejean, who made headlines in the Miss USA competition when she said she believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, has been touring the talk show circuit to promote the release of her book.

She sparred with Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar last week on The View, and then threatened to walk off Larry King Live when she didn’t like his line of questioning.

In her book, Prejean writes: “God gave us our bodies, and it’s perfectly right that we use them in ways where we can give glory to God by making our bodies, our temples of the Holy Spirit, strong and fast.”

Digby writes here.

I don't actually care about Prejean and her troubles. She seems like a fairly common sort of party girl I see all the time here in southern California --- spoiled and confused. I think her decision to throw in with the wingnut crowd when she got criticized for her rote statement on gay marriage was a far worse decision than doing the sex tapes and one which she will come to regret.

Saturday afternoon

Last night I dreamt about the electronic cigarette. I also dreamt about my friend who passed away this past April 1st. We were working together at what looked like a cruise ship terminal at the Port of Miami, but it appeared that instead of ships, the place served a kind of enormous sea plane that was like a scary Disney ride. But my friend lived there and had his own bedroom. There was some flooding and we were on clean-up duty. We were soaking up water with big fluffy beach towels (which we would have to launder later) but the water kept getting deeper and deeper, and I couldn't see how to drain it. Then I woke up.

Late Friday Night

Came home from work and took a very refreshing nap. Then to gym and store. Couldn't resist getting some fried chicken, which Bootsy also enjoyed.

Spent the past couple of hours researching the electronic cigarette. Found a forum here. Last night I ordered some "juice" from the place I bought the cigarette, but it looks like I can get it much cheaper someplace(s) else. I've been smoking it some tonight, along with regular cigarettes. Watched some videos and read material for new users.

[Later] As someone wrote in a thread on "Converting to E-Cigs" at that forum:

In other words, I dont want to become more dependent/ addicted to the e-cig more than I am to regular cigs, if you know what I mean. Any help would be appreciated!

(That's what I'm researching.) Somebody else wrote:

I REALLY don't want to trade the carcinogens in real cigs for a bigger nicotine addiction.

Then someone wrote back:

The only thing i don't really agree on, for me personally i would not mind even doubling my nicotine if i was sure i was not getting the same harmfull carcinogens. I plan to start experimenting with different ways soon of getting my nicotine and have ordered some Sweedish Snus and some Snuff ill post about how i get on with them when it lands.

One last (?) sample:

I've been reading this thread so yeah, I've heard about the dripping. I'm not sure what you mean by VG and PG but I am very interested in it but concerned for getting the right amount in my system. I liked one posters idea about alternating 1 drop 0 nic for 1 drop of nic when refilling. I will see how I like the Dura-C and their stock carts. I really hope the flavor of their carts taste better than Red Dragon's. Man those things are weak and nasty, imo. Do all e-cig liquids have that sweet taste to it?

As for the trade-off of higher nicotine addiction vs carcinogens, well, I might agree with you if I had more confidence in the apperatus' quality and availability, not to mention possible restrictions from law. Upping your need for nicotine that much to then be possibly cut off is a bit frightening to think of how many cigarettes you'd have to smoke to get to the amount you upped with e-cig.

We shall see. I have much hope for the future of e-cigs. Could be such a good thing for some many smokers and people that live with them.

["VG" is vegetable glycerin and "PG" is propylene glycol. A "cart" is a cartridge.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday night

Got the electronic cigarette up and running. As it is, I smoke ultra-light cigarettes. Today I took a couple of puffs on the e-cigarette and almost got dizzy. (It came with medium-strength nicotine "juice".) Tonight I ordered a bottle of low-strength and a bottle of nicotine-free juice, and will mix them to create a weaker cigarette. I don't want to become even more addicted to nicotine than I already am! Tonight I'll give the thing a try. It'll take some getting used to, I'm sure.

An old friend of mine contacted me today through Facebook. She had moved to Las Vegas around 10 years ago to be near her family (her mother is over 90 now and has Alzheimer's -- she'd been a banker here). My friend moved back to this area a few months ago but had not been online (nor had she called me). She wrote me a message to call her and I called her tonight. (She'd had a cocktail or two.) We had a wonderful talk and we'll have to get together. We met years ago at the old Sugars, a gay bar near here (she's a tall, blonde, gorgeous Lesbian -- looks like a drag queen, if you will). She'd been a travel agent for years and then that business dried up. (I think she was working in Las Vegas at a store.) Now she's retired. Apparently where she lives now (on the Beach), she hasn't been able to get Internet access. Presently she's house-sitting in Miami Shores and got online there.

Tired. Walked the mile after work today. (No long walk this morning.) The weather is back to nice. Had the windows and slider open tonight.

New electronic cigarette arrived today

The kit came with two batteries (white part of the cigarette), five mouthpieces containing the cartridge for nicotine solution (brown part of the cigarette), two atomizers (which also fit inside the brown part), a velvet carrying bag, and a couple of Zip-Loc bags (in which to carry the mouthpieces inside the velvet bag).

One of the two batteries sitting in the charger. It can also be charged in the USB port of a computer.

The mouthpieces have rubber stoppers to keep the solution from leaking out of the cartridges inside (or drying out over time).

You push the cartridges out of the mouthpieces with a pin inserted into the hole at the end of the mouthpiece, and then fill them up with the nicotine solution. The cartridges contain an absorbent wick made of "poly-batting filling."

Cartridges have been dropped back inside the mouthpieces and plugged with the plug.

If you don't want to go through this routine every day, you can also just drop 2-3 drops of the solution onto the cartridge (without removing it from the mouthpiece) each time you want to use the cigarette. One bottle of the nicotine solution is equal to 300 cigarettes (a carton and a half) and costs at most $25. (A carton and a half of cigarettes will cost you a lot more, even when you figure in shipping charges for the solution -- $9/order.) To avoid shipping charges and maybe get a better deal, I'll still search for a nearby store that sells the solution.

For more information, see here and here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Credit card companies on a roll

I got this email yesterday from Consumers Union (non-profit that publishes Consumer Reports). I fell for a scam, I guess -- the variable-rate credit card. Be very wary of any offers your bank (or whatever) is making at this time.

Dear [MOI],

It was unbelievable the first time the credit card companies jacked up our interest rates, doubled minimum payments and tacked on huge fees to try and beat a new February law that will help end many of their abusive ways.

Now, they're at it again, and getting even more creative. But with your help, we can stop them cold!

Just days ago the House passed a bill to freeze interest rate hikes on your card balances, and give you new protections starting Dec. 1 – just in time for the holiday season. House members read your emails and listened to your complaints, and acted quickly. Now, we need the Senate to do the same – a vote could come any day!

Call your Senators right now to stop the rate increases--we can't afford to wait!

This continued attack on your wallet is no accident. A major credit card reform law that you helped pass goes into effect in February. The card companies begged Congress to delay its implementation so that they could “update their systems” to comply with the new law.

But instead, they’ve spent the time hitting us with new tricks – like a fee for paying off card balances each month. Or variable rate cards that only “vary” if interest rates increase, but don’t give you the full break if they drop in your favor.

If the companies can retool their computers to accommodate these tricks, there’s no reason they can’t abide by the new rules right now. After last week's bipartisan House vote , we have real momentum. Now the Senate must hear that we can’t afford the card company tactics, especially with the holidays approaching.

Call your Senators right now to stop the rate increases--we can't afford to wait!

After you email the Senate, please forward this to anyone you know who is fed up with these tactics. We have immense power when we band together – let’s put the pressure on now!

Sincerely,
Gail Hillebrand
DefendYourDollars.org
A project of Consumers Union
1535 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-2512

Wednesday night

I'm happy to report that the electronic-cigarette company that sent me a broken cigarette and was racking up charges on my credit card without explanation ("Smoke Anywhere USA" or "Smoke51.com" has reversed all their charges ($129.85). Good for them.

No mile-long walk home tonight. I was tired. This morning, I made the longer walk, however. But that turned out to be unnecessary since the bus didn't detour. (I should have asked the driver first whether she was detouring today.) She whizzed right past me as I was walking down the street.

The candy has been banished from the house. I hauled it to work this morning and put it in the kitchen in a bowl with some other left-over Halloween candy and it was mostly gone by lunchtime.

When I got home, I drove up to my bank to deposit a couple of co-pay reimbursement checks and on my way home searched for the tobacco shop I thought I'd seen along that route. Didn't see it. (I'll have to look on the Internet.) I did drop by what I thought was basically a cigar store in the relatively new Biscayne Commons shopping center (where the new Publix and Lime Fresh Mexican Grille and TGI Fridays are). The sign says "Cigar & Lounge." I figured the outside seating area was the "lounge" part. To my surprise, there was a large, full-liquor bar inside at the back, with everyone smoking cigars, of course. But apparently they don't sell electronic cigarettes or accessories. Maybe they should. There's a lot of wasted space in there.

Now some Rachel. Watched half of that and switched to HGTV.

The cats are still waiting on the nice weather...

Tonight I made a three-egg omelet with diced ham and a little basil for breakfast tomorrow. Will take to work and warm it up. Can't wait. I'm hungry already.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday night

Tired. Did a lot of walking today. The bus to work this morning was going to detour west (where I didn't want to go) to get around the Miami Book Fair, so I got off before it made the turn and walked some extra blocks to work. Then I walked the mile or so home from the bus stop by Walgreen's. Meanwhile I'm taking that Halloween candy to work tomorrow. I've been nibbling on it here. Tonight I pigged out on it. It has to go. It's throwing a wrench in my fitness program. I can't have things like Reese's peanut butter cups or Hershey's kisses with almonds (or ice cream) in the house. (I rarely do.) Unfortunately, I got no trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Did grocery shopping tonight. I was going to do it after the gym on Sunday but I couldn't drive out of the building, since my garage door-opener was on the blink. This morning, the security guard got that working after I'd installed the new battery last night.

Tonight I read about a poll that predicted Olympia Snowe could lose her next election to a teabagger.

A new survey of Maine from Public Policy Polling (D) has some dire news for Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), with the moderate Republican potentially losing her 2012 Republican primary against a generic conservative challenger -- and by a landslide, no less.

The numbers: Conservative challenger 59%, Snowe 31%, with a ±4.8% margin of error. It is of course a long way from the idea of a generic conservative challenger to having an actual candidate, but the potential for success by just such an insurgent is certainly there. . . .

Here also.

This poll adds weight to the argument that Democrats who want to seal the deal on health care reform ought to push Joe Lieberman aside, and instead pursue Olympia Snowe.

Even though Snowe's trigger plan is unacceptable as policy, it's clear that she is far more interested in passing health care reform than Lieberman, and the fact that as a Republican she's willing to support a trigger suggests that as a Democrat, she'd at least support an opt-out public option.

From Snowe's perspective, quitting the GOP and becoming a Democrat would be a no-brainer . . . .

She doesn't even need to vote for a public option -- she just needs to support cloture. . . .

Look at Arlen Specter.

Somebody really doesn't like Marco Rubio: "Marco Rubio Strongly Opposed to Amnesty for Immigrants Who Are Not His Parents"

The weather is supposed to get nicer tomorrow. We'll see. The cats don't even like going outside on the terrace in this protracted unseasonable weather. They're over it and so am I.

Brazil's 2 largest cities hit by massive blackouts

Story here.

A top Brazilian official says blackouts that darkened Brazil's two largest cities and other areas were caused by the failure of a hydroelectric dam that supplies the nation with 20 percent of its electricity.

Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao says authorities do not know why the dam went offline. He says a possible cause was a large storm that hit the area around the dam straddling the Brazil-Paraguay border.

Lobao said Tuesday night that Brazil lost 17,000 megawatts of power. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo were among the hardest hit cities.

The blackouts came three days after CBS's "60 Minutes" news program reported that several past Brazilian power outages were caused by hackers. Brazilian officials had played down the report before the latest outages.

I strongly recommend going to the "60 Minutes" website and watching the segment. (I tried to embed it on the blog but failed.) It's called "Sabotaging The System."

Mormon church backs anti-discrimination proposals

Story here.

A Mormon church official says the faith supports a proposed pair of Salt Lake City ordinances that would make it illegal to discriminate against gays in housing and employment matters.

The director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints endorsed the legislation during a City Council meeting Tuesday.

If the ordinances are approved, the city would be the first in Utah to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The proposals make it illegal to fire or evict someone for being lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender.

Church spokesman Michael Otterson says the endorsement is not a shift in the church's position on gay rights.

He says the church continues to oppose gay marriage, but supports LGBT rights that don't infringe on traditional marriage.

See The Advocate here, also.