Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Fastest Three Months of the Year

That was the fastest three months I've ever seen.  It flew by.

I am referring, of course, to the Centenary Gents baseball season which began February 8 and ended this past weekend.  Oh, there are a couple of playoff games left -- it's not completely over, but those games are in Texas.  The 2014 season at Shehee stadium is finished.

And I'm sad.  I miss them already.

There is nothing like baseball to herald in spring.  After the long, cold winter (and we had a few cold days down here in Shreveport!), and the endless dull gray skies, it is pure joy to walk into the baseball complex to bright green grass and the players warming up on the field.

Overzealous, perhaps, Steve and I showed up at a couple of those February games a little unprepared for the cold wind that left me frozen by the end of the ninth.  By the April 22 game the girls were all in shorts, tanks, and sandals soaking up the sun while others took shelter from the blazing sun under umbrellas.

The April 12 game against Austin College was blessed with perfect weather.  We had a mild 75 degrees and a mellow breeze that whistled gently as it blew through the protective netting above us. That was the first game where you could discern the scent of sunscreen in the air from the fans in the bleachers. Centenary won both games that day.

Steve and I started following the team last year after talking about it for ages.  We finally got around to going and have been hooked ever since.  For years I would sit on my deck or in my swing under the magnolia tree in the front yard and listen to the ping of bats as the team practiced.  Sometimes I could hear the music from the PA system as they practiced.  The stadium is within easy walking distance from my house, and we have indeed walked to a couple of games (not the cold ones).


Centenary was in a sort of growing year this year; they lost some good seniors last year and so there were several new players this year.  In fact, there were only three seniors on the roster this year.  They're three pretty good ones though:  first baseman Mark Martinez plays with all of his heart.  At 6'1" and 220 lbs., he's not the fastest runner on the team but when he connects with his bat, that ball just soars.  He's a dynamite first baseman and it will be odd seeing someone else at that position next year.  One of the highlights for me this year was when Mark hit a triple against Austin College; like I said, he's not the fastest runner on the team, and I think everyone in the stands was cheering for him as he breathlessly arrived safely at third.

Another senior saying goodbye this year is outfielder and sometime pitcher Nic Parrott.  We saw Nic sail a couple of beautiful homers this year.  Also leaving this year is pitcher Jake McFarland.  I hope they're all on to bright futures and take good memories of their time at Centenary with them.

Next season looks pretty good as Centenary retains many players from the current roster.  Assuming they all come back, and there are a few new recruits to replace the departing seniors, it should be an awesome team.  There was some great hitting this year and the pitchers have been fun to watch.  Very promising is sophomore pitcher Holden Novak:  he's a tall, lean, 6'4" and he prowls all over that mound as he prepares to take charge with his arsenal of pitches.  He's got a mean fast ball, and a great curve ball.  He's exciting to watch.

I'm also looking forward to watching Christian Sebastien (C-Bass) for one more year before he moves on.  He's a very powerful and athletic player who has no problem with his bats.  Outfielder Chris Jones is faster than lightening and he makes plays happen.  As a freshman, he plays with a great deal of confidence and he will steal a base if you don't watch him!

We've had a grand time watching "our boys" this year.  The fans are great and we've met some really nice people, most of whom seem surprised, and pleased, that we are just neighborhood riff-raff showing up to watch baseball.  "Who's your son?" we get asked all the time.  They're all our boys now.  (My daughter graduated from there, if that counts.)

And the dogs.  Oh my, the dogs.  There's the lady with the yellow retriever and the brindle boxer - beautiful dogs!  And Izzy!  (Izzie?), the wonder dog!  She's just precious.  There are dogs of all sizes that come out
with their owners to watch the game.  Most of them just go to sleep, some watch the other dogs, and some beg to retrieve the balls that sail overhead toward the snack bar or the drainage ditch.  Every time a ball fouls out of bounds by the batting cages you can hear a thunder of sneakered feet as little boys run with their gloves to get it first.

The students that come out to watch their friends play are first class.  A highlight of the season for me, and I still laugh about it, was the basketball team who comes out to support the baseball team.  The baseball team does the same for them, and there's a tradition of heckling the other team that goes on.  Sometimes, I guess, people get a little sensitive about their kids out there on the field, and on one occasion (team shall remain nameless!), some mamas got mad at the heckling.  I have to admit, it might have been a little far when our basketball players were ribbing one of the guys on the opposing team about being, well, vertically challenged.  "Hey!  You need some phone books to stand on while you bat?"  "Hey ump!  How can you call a strike - he's so short the strike zone is too small!"  "Do you need a Fisher Price bat?"  Yeah, it was pretty intense and there was some mama drama, but when the basketball team showed up the next day for Game 2 with a dry erase board depicting a ruler and a sign that said, "You must be this tall to bat," well, you had to be there.  But it was pretty funny.


I can't believe the season is done.  I have to wait until next year for my peanuts and diet Coke, kicked back in my seat behind home plate (did I mention it's absolutely free to get in?), listening to horrible country music during warm-ups and between innings.  Really, I can live the rest of my life without Joe Diffey's John Deere Greene, but then again, it now has a sort of soft spot in my heart.  You can occasionally hear a fan or two holler at the box when they play the same old songs.  Last week during an especially tense game against Trinity, the person doing music played Jason Aldean's See You When I See You and a girl turned around and yelled "Quit playing the depressing music!  We're trying to win a game here!"  It was pretty funny.  All in good fun.

Yes, the sights and sounds of Centenary Gents baseball is over for now.  It's been a wonderful season, and we'll be back next February.  With blankets.  And until then, I'll always think of you, Centenary, when I hear this one:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Follow the Money


My weekly post at DaTechGuy's blog is up and concerns the nonsense that is Common Core and Lexile levels.

Check it out.

The New Republic had a great article on Lexile levels back in October and I have been wrestling with the issue personally since they ripped To Kill a Mockingbird from my cold, hard fingers.  It's now been relegated to ninth grade.

Of course the whole issue with me centers not so much around Mockingbird (although I'm very bitter about losing it), but about the stripping of the decision making process from the individual teacher, the department head, the principal, the district supervisor, the local superintendent, and the state.  Of course we've always had designated reading lists from which to choose our novels that we teach, but we always had more input into what was on that list and more flexibility.  We've always known To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, was read in lower levels, but in upper levels we have been able to explore deeper themes and symbolism and to bring in related texts to support more rigor with the book.

Common Core strips that away.

Julius Caesar, for example, is gone; Macbeth is the new tenth grade Shakespeare play and it's non-negotiable.

It's the same old drum; I've beat this one before but I am a bitter-clinger and refuse to let it go.

Why doesn't it bother more people that the education system is now driven by the Gates Foundation and other big money trails?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I Still Like Marco

Funny, we were talking about this at dinner the other night:  who looks good in 2016 for the GOP?  My first response was "No More Bushes."  And now, Byron York:

The Tea Party surely has had its bad moments (the shutdown is one of them), but it has also developed a sizable group that works and plays well with others, and it is to these that the party should look. They are young, and make Hillary Clinton look tired. 
They come from humble sometimes immigrant, backgrounds, and make her look overly rich and entitled. Their diversity makes her look whiter than ever. None has a relative who has ever been president, but one has a mentor who is the son and the brother of presidents, and a Cuban last name: Marco Rubio. 
Rubio looks like a Bush, likes the Bush issues, has an eloquence equaled by none in his party, and has been called both a Tea Party and an Establishment figure, sometimes on the same day. 
The last three Democrats to be president won as outsiders, running against older, long-time insiders, who themselves came from rich and establishment families. Jeb Bush should call it a day, and become the godfather of the first Hispanic president, who, with Kelly Ayotte on his ticket, will fight Hillary to a race/gender draw.

I'm good with Marco Rubio.  He's made some missteps, but I'm just fine with him.  I've been in his camp since 2009.

Maybe if Marco runs we'll even rev up Not One Red Cent again!

And if you've forgotten how eloquent Marco can be, watch this one more time:



Honestly, I think it's too early for Ted Cruz, Romney says no more, Jeb Bush loves Common Core so he's not for me (though I'm really not a single issue kind of girl), Rick Perry has shot his wad, and as much as I'd love someone like Allen West, I don't think, at this point, he would garner the votes, although I'd love to see him in a primary.  Rand Paul?  Primary.  Get a good strong primary crew and duke it out.

But I like Marco.

On the record.

April 17, 2014.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The State of American Education


Did you catch my post this weekend at DaTechGuy's blog?  A snip:

With regard to burnout and frustration, consider that one of the requirements of Common Core is that states must also implement a rigorous teacher evaluation system.  Professional evaluation is important and I don’t know of a single profession that doesn’t have an evaluation system, but common sense must prevail.  Some of these evaluation tools are profoundly subjective and unfair.  When a teacher is marked off on an evaluation because a student put a dab of lotion on her knees during the observation, which obviously means classroom expectations haven’t been taught and the teacher has poor classroom management, frustration will result. 
When those observations and evaluations are tied to teacher pay and that annual incentive check comes out, the teacher that has Honors and AP kids will get the big incentive check while the teacher with the low-performing, struggling kids who have not been taught social skills at home gets the very small check.  Frustration results. 
In reality, teachers aren’t frustrated with their work or with their job.  They are frustrated with the system that prevents them from doing their job and that persecutes them for things beyond their control.  I don’t know one single teacher who went into the profession to get rich.  Every teacher I know does it because of a love for kids and for the opportunity to make a difference in just one kid’s life.  When that passion is squelched by a system that ties their hands, strips their decision making, persecutes them, and makes them feel like failures, then there is something wrong with the system, not the teachers.

Click on over to read the whole thing.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Test

Just testing something.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Blog Surfing

Rainy Sunday morning here in Shreveport.

Let's do a quick blog surf; it's been a while:

Legal Insurrection has a great couple of photos that illustrate the mind set of so many liberals.

I enjoyed George Kelly's post at Da Tech Guy on What Makes America Great.

The Louisiana Educator has several good posts about what is happening in our current legislative session with regard to Common Core issues and all things education.

The Foundry explains how the environmentalists are killing jobs.

Via Pirate's Cove, Kansas passes a sweeping Second Amendment law.

Michelle Malkin is continuing the good fight against PARCC and Common Core.

PJ Tatler reports on a politically incorrect Easter Egg Hunt - with skepticism.

And speaking of Easter, since all I've had for breakfast is a box of Peeps, I better go find something else to eat.  




Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Dog That Will Steal Your Heart

I almost started this post with "It's been a busy week...", then thought the better of it.  Who hasn't had a busy week?  Good grief.  I need to expand my cliche list.

To the point:  What's been on my mind a great deal this week is the story of Braveheart.  Almost everyone in the local community knows about Braveheart and the wonderful people that worked to save his life.  It's a miracle story of hope and love.  I did a post on his story back in October; go to A Voice for Braveheart on Facebook and read his whole story.

The final next court date for Braveheart's alleged abuser is April 8 and  A Voice for Braveheart has been retelling Brave's story over the past couple of weeks and posting pictures of his recovery just to remind people what has transpired since Brave was found abandoned and left to die in a storage locker last September.



This picture below still brings a tear to my eye - it was taken when Brave's foster, now forever, parents Bo and Ronda Spataro were reunited with him after the city seized him as "evidence" and put him in the animal shelter.  The look of love and relief on Ronda's face just kills me.



Whether you're "an animal person" or "a dog person" really doesn't matter in something like this.  To me, this all comes down to whether or not you're a person.  What kind of person are you?  What kind of person would do this to a dog?  What kind of person would fight so hard to save a dog?   It's the two polar opposites of human nature.

As the April 8 date approaches, and since April is Prevention Against Cruelty to Animals Month, I would ask you to go on over and meet Braveheart, or to reacquaint yourself with him.  Braveheart's supporters will be in the courtroom April 8 and anyone that would like to go support Braveheart is free to attend.  They only ask that you be respectful of the judicial process and that there are no outbursts during the
process.  If you can attend and help support Brave in numbers, please do.  If you can't attend, please hold a good thought for Braveheart that his abuser receives the maximum penalty under law for what he did to this beautiful, loving dog.

A while back someone asked Bo if it wouldn't be a powerful statement if he could take Braveheart into the courtroom and Bo had a wonderful answer that could not have been more perfect:  he said that he would not consider doing such a thing because he never wants Braveheart to have to look into the eyes of the person that abused him and left him to die ever again.  From now on he should know only love.

Amen to that.


(Photo Credit:  The top two photos are courtesy of A Voice For Braveheart.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Loose Thoughts

April Fool's!

Anyone trick you today?    I've spent the day with three classes of teenagers, so you know how my day went.

We had spring break last week and it was a much needed break.  I spent most of the break working on my new research project which included three trips to nearby Natchitoches.  There will be much more of that this summer.

We are back in the testing grind this week at school; this time of year is all about testing.  We've done the PLAN, EXPLORE and ACT tests.  ASVAB is tomorrow.  We have EOC in about four weeks and I just hated to even bring it up today when I was delivering a brief lesson introducing the kids to the test that is to come.  They are just tested to absolute death by this time of the year.  By the time they get to the EOC test, which is counts as part of the school performance score and in part measures my success as a teacher, they are worn out from testing.  I can't blame them.  Sometimes it seems like it's all about the test which takes the fun out of learning.  I hate that.

Anyway, I'm working my way through it.  I'm doing a whole lot of reading that is related to my research project so blogging here s light.  Remember that I have a regular Sunday gig at Da Tech Guy and I'd be tickled if you'd check that out.  Every Sunday at 5 p.m., CST, my post goes up.  Check it out.

The news cycle right now is boring me to death - I'm tired of talking about the missing airplane.  I think it's in Pakistan somewhere and that it's time for us to quit looking in the ocean for it. Start worrying about the home front.  I'm sick to death of the phony numbers of people now enrolled in Obamacare: the program is killing this country and it's ridiculous to try and tell me that seven million people have signed up and expect me to believe that is a success.  How many of them have paid?  How many are under 40?  How many were kicked off a plan that they liked in the first place?  How many are now paying a higher deductible?  How many are paying a much higher premium?  How many jobs were lost as businesses laid off people?  How many insurance companies folded?  Shall I go on?

No.  I think not.

Politics is pissing me off right now.  What else is new?

I'm off to find my happy place and I'll check back in with a happier inner spirit which I find it.  Summer is coming!  (You know, in Louisiana we pretty much skip right over spring.  Spring lasts about fifteen minutes then we are on to summer).  Summer.  I can see it from here.

How is your world?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Fever


Finally, spring.

The pollen on my car tells me spring is here yet today I still have the heat on and a fleece hoodie.  But, it's coming.

We are on spring break this week from school; it is much needed.  Spring is the semester of standardized testing: ACT, PLAN, EXPLORE, EOC, ASVAB...it continues.  The kids are exhausted.  There is little time to actually have class, it seems.

For me, two days into spring break, it has been lovely.  We have seen three baseball games at the local college and last night we met friends for dinner and spent the evening listening to my favorite local band and good friends, The Sultans.  The Sultans includes 3/4 of the old Soulfish band and so I got to hear some of my favorite tunes last night while sipping a Dos Equis on the patio at the restaurant where they were playing.  It was fine.

Today I'm working on some things around the house and enjoying the down time.  It occurred to me that we haven't taken a little day trip in a while so I'm posting the last "Take a Trip..." list in case you are thinking of getting out of the house in the next few weeks.  If you live around this area you might consider some of these local day trips.  I'm planning a couple of  non-sightseeing trips to Natchitoches this week, but we may get out and do a day trip somewhere.  It's that time of year.

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to the Fourth Annual Barksdale AFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to the Third Annual BAFB Oktoberfest 
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pick the Paint

Hey Shreveport/Bossier:  The DOTD wants your vote:  what color do you want them to paint the Jimmy Davis bridge?  So far, purple is the most popular color.  Purple?

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is letting you help select the new paint color for the bridge that spans Red River between Shreveport and Bossier City. And with more than 2,700 votes thus far, purple is the top choice followed by blue and red, DOTD says. Do you agree?

Go here to vote.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

One Year

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 2014 Louisiana Legislative Session Is Underway

The 2014 Louisiana circus legislative session has arrived which is always good for some lively entertainment.
During this session legislators will deal with at least a few bills dealing with Common Core.  During the pre-filing period, at least six have been filed.

The Alexandria Town Talk has a summary of the bills so far:

• H.B. 377 by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Moss Bluff, which creates a commission to develop new state standards; 
• H.B. 481 by Rep. Rob Shadoin, R-Ruston, calling for the development of curriculum guides prior to full implementation of Common Core in public and nonpublic schools that have chosen to use the standards; 
• H.B. 554 by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, which calls for development of state content standards and assessments subject to legislative approval and allows local school systems to develop their own standards; 
• H.B. 556 by Burns which prohibit implementing Common Core and reverts to prior standards; 
• H.B. 557 by Burns which prohibits using Common Core and creates the Student Standards Task Force to study implementation; and 
• H.B. 559 by Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, which drops Common Core, implements Louisiana-based standards and prohibits using the assessment tools planned for use with Common Core.
Michael Deshotels at Louisiana Educator has a more comprehensive list of all of the education bills here and here.

In Louisiana,  the backlash against Common Core has been growing with protests around the state and anti-Common Core billboards popping up.  There is even a Stop Common Core in Louisiana Facebook group.

In other bills, legislators will deal with the normal shenanigans with the budget, such as this shell game by Gov. Bobby Jindal:

Lawmakers are particularly irked by a budget maneuver that borrows $50 million in cash from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center to pay for state health care costs. The Jindal administration would replace the money with $75 million in bonds, so the deal is good for the New Orleans area. But it would also mean less for other state construction projects, like new highways and roads. 
Jindal's proposed budget would also essentially wipe out a trust fund for elderly care, a financial resource that Louisiana expected to last for decades. The account, once flush with $800 million, has been drawn on so heavily to fill state budget gaps in recent years, it could be entirely depleted by the end of this fiscal cycle. 
The governor is also using federal money given to the state for hurricane recovery to cover expenses not directly related to disasters, including state programs for people with disabilities. Some advocates are concerned the federal government might not approve such uses of the money, though the administration is confident their proposals will hold up to scrutiny.

The outnumbered Democrats this session will try to raise minimum wage, expand Medicaid, and enact statewide fairness laws.

There will also likely be debate to reduce marijuana penalties, increasing heroin penalties, and possibly even one bill to bring back the electric chair.

NOLA has an extensive roundup of topics to watch for this session.

You can read Jindal's opening speech here.

So hang on to your hats and here we go.  As lively as this session is likely to be, I doubt it will top this momentous event (actually, let's hope it doesn't):

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What a Shock

Wow, who knew?!  You can't actually keep you doctor?  Shocker.



Not only that, it's going to be more expensive, too.  Premiums are going to go up.

I'm stunned.

Really.

(H/T: Hot Air)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Checking In


Sometimes life takes us in the strangest directions, and sometimes it takes you exactly where you somehow knew you were meant to go.

Cryptic?

A little, I guess.  Things have been so busy at school this week: some of it truly work related and some of it self-imposed.  We are gearing up for our standardized testing soon and that's involved a little extra time this week, what with meetings, in-service training, and coding sessions.  Wednesday was just crazy: I had duty before school and at lunch, a meeting during my planning period on testing, taught three classes, and had a meeting across town after school.  Thankfully, that's not a typical day.

The self-imposed part comes from the fact that I'm behind in grading papers and research papers and grades are due next week.  That's my fault.  Ever since my two friends at work got me tuned in to HBO's True Detective, I got lost for about three weeks getting caught up on past episodes and then down the rabbit-hole of the internet in all the conjecture theories.  It's been a truly fascinating ride and as much as I'll hate to say goodbye to Rust and Marty tomorrow, in a way I'll be a little glad.  Maybe I can get back to my life!  True Detective is an absolutely brilliant show: the writing is amazing.  Just mail the Emmys to Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrellson, Nic Pizzolatto, and the cinematography people.  That's a lock.  Best show on TV.  Maybe ever.  I'm serious.

Anyway, life goes on.

I've picked up a weekly paid blogging slot at Da Tech Guy's place and so that's another item on my list of things to do.  I'm honored by the invitation and am looking forward to getting to know some new people there.

And finally, I'm in the very early stages of a new project.  I don't want to jinx anything by talking about it much just yet, but I'm very excited about it.  It's a good fit for me.  It will be a quite extensive project and take a lot of time and focus, but it'll be worth it.  And as a very wise woman once said, "you can't tell what you can do till you do it," we shall see!  I'll fill in more details as things progress.

So, if the blogging gets a little slow here, don't give up on me.  It's not burnout this time.  That same wise lady I just mentioned also pointed out that "you can't serve two masters!"  And so I may have to slow down here to keep focus elsewhere.

Have a happy weekend and light a little candle for me as I venture down this new path.  I'll be checking in.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Loose Thoughts

Be sure to check out my first post over at Da Tech Guy's blog.  I'll be posting there each week as part of his Return of the Seven faction of his Da Magnificent Seven group of co-bloggers.

Around the blogs:

Everyone is talking about Russia.  I looked at Memeorandum at one point yesterday and every single story was about Russia.

The most articulate analysis of the situation comes from Bride of Rove.  She's closed comments on the post but if I could comment on it I would have told her how glad I am that she's blogging again; I've missed her perspective.
To everyone who elected Obama because they say they are tired of committing US troops to be the world police. They want to stop supporting a huge military and only engage if we are attacked on our own soil. I’m talking to you Ron Paul supporters.To everyone who thinks that every war is about oil and thinks that’s stupid. We don’t need to enrich the oil companies with the blood of our own. It’s time to support your President. He is doing exactly what you asked him to do. 
The rest of us believe that inaction against aggressions like these leads to World Wars, as it has done twice. The rest of us believe in Karma; that if you do not act in defense of the weak, expect to be next. They are weak standing alone, but there is strength in numbers. If the US does not count itself as one of the numbers that make up the whole, if we back away and say, “Woa there, this is not MY fight.”, then we all fall.
Elsewhere:

The Lonely Conservative reports that the wealthy are fleeing New York.

Pirate' Cove has the Sunday round-up.

Right on the Left Coast shows you some un-Professional Development which explains a great deal about the state of education today.

Ed Driscoll pays tribute to Andrew Breitbart.

That's it for now; I'm off to watch True Detective!


How Much Riboflavin Are You Getting?

Because America is apparently full of illiterate and ignorant housewives who can't decipher a food label, Michelle Obama is here to help you.

Who knew grocery shopping was so filled with drama and tension:
"So there you stood, alone in some aisle in a store, the clock ticking away at the precious little time remaining to complete your weekly grocery shopping, and all you could do was scratch your head, confused and bewildered, and wonder, is there too much sugar in this product? Is 50 percent of the daily allowance of riboflavin a good thing or a bad thing? And how on Earth could this teeny little package contain five whole servings? 
It hard to conceive of such nerve-wracking stress at the ol' Super One Foods.  The clock is ticking!  There is so little time!  Am I getting enough riboflavin?  The decisions!

Of course, now that Obamacare has forced people to work fewer hours there will be more time to decipher those pesky labels because according to Joe Biden, you just don't have to keep that job!  You can stay home with your kids or linger in the grocery store aisles deciphering those oh-so-confusing labels.

Who knew that making the font bigger on the calorie count would solve all my problems!

Honestly, don't these people have something real to do besides continuing to point out how stupid we all are?  How many food labels do you think Michelle Obama reads?  We're supposed to believe she identifies and relates to us?  The little people?

She wears me out.


Save the Date

Mark your calendar, Shreveport-Bossier, for a wonderful opportunity to brush up your Constitution skills.

Local attorney Royal Alexander will deliver a lecture on Article V Thursday, March 27 at 6:00 p.m.  The event, entitled "The 2nd Method of Amending the Constitution" will be at the Clarion Hotel on 70th St and is free and open to the public.

Friday, February 28, 2014

In the Mail: Afghanistan On the Bounce

There have been many books and memoirs written about the Iraq and Afghanistan war but I've not seen anything like Afghanistan:  On the Bounce by Robert L. Cunningham.  Cunningham was assisted by Steven Hartov, a best-selling writer currently serving on active duty.


Afghanistan:  On the Bounce is a visually stunning book filled cover to cover with beautiful and moving photographs compiled from the author's 55,000 photographs acquired while embedded with U. S. troops in 2011 and 2012 in Afghanistan.  Cunningham was embedded for 132 missions and captured the moments both on and off duty to show not only what our soldiers do while in battle but also in their down time.

Cunningham's photographs take you from Tears on the Tarmac to Hell's Box Office; there's Mission Essential Gear and the Iron Horses.  He talks to the chaplains and pays tribute at The Hero Ramp.

Of The Hero Ramp, Cunningham writes:

We are told with cynicism that we are born alone and we will die alone  But from the moment of his very last breath, no American hero is alone out here.  The word is relayed in whispers.  There's a Hero Ramp ceremony today.  And they begin to gather, from all over the base.  Soldiers, airmen, marines, nondescript civilians from other government agencies, contractors and cooks and drivers.  No one needs to tell them where to stand, how to form up, what to do.  They know this, and they swirl into a silent cordon of respect, lining that final path from the hospital to the pair of Black Hawk helicopters, one of which will serve as his riderless horse. 
Encased in a rubber cocoon, draped in the American flag, escorted in silence on a wheeled gurney, he is never without guiding hands, prayers, salutes.  This is a moment of secrets kept, for only this solider's warrior brothers and sisters know that he is gone.  It will be some time until his wife gasps with the news.  His parents and children haven't yet been informed.  Only later will they know that two hundred souls wept here with him and served as his most devoted bearers to that final flight.  When it's over, and the helicopters have faded away into that perfect sky, the mourners will disperse in absolute silence.  He has given his last full measure, and their comfort is in knowing that should their time come, they will also be delivered by a brace of angels.

These somber moments are incredible.  Cunningham says photographing the "hero ramp" "is one of the hardest things I have ever done...It is a somber duty to document these private moments.  The responsibility is not one I take lightly."

There are also moments of downtime: soldiers reading, hanging out with stray dogs, skateboarding, or watching movies.



And then there is the beauty of the country from the lush green landscape to the dry, dusty mountains.

Cunningham honors our military and pays tribute to their work:"I am the luckiest man alive," he says.  "I am not a soldier, but I've had the privilege of living with our men and women at arms and witnessing their courage and dedication."

Afghanistan:  On the Bounce is a beautifully crafted book with heavy slick pages and gorgeous glossy photographs.  It's a very nice addition to the collection of books and memoirs we now have about the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.


(Photos courtesy of Robert Cunningham and Insight Editions Publishing)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Tea Party is a Hate Group (According to SPLC)

The Southern Poverty Law Center has issued a report in which they conclude that hate groups are on the decline.  Of course, some would say that the SPLC itself is a hate group, but that's not the point.  I'm more interested in what SPLC says is a "hate group":

Demoralized by the reelection of President Barack Obama but calmed by Washington’s failure to enact new gun control laws, hate groups are on the decline in the United States. 
That’s according to a new report out Tuesday from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which found that the number of hate groups in the U.S. declined by seven percent in 2013. After a dramatic rise following Obama’s first election and the worst of the recession, the number of anti-government “patriot” group identified by the SPLC also fell 19 percent between 2012 and 2013.

Anti-government, patriots...?

What does that mean, exactly?  Patriots are hate groups?  You're a hate group if you don't expect big-government to take care of you cradle to grave?

Advocates of the Second Amendment are apparently haters:


The author of the new report, SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok, said momentum on the far-right experienced a marked turnaround in 2013 when it became clear that congressional efforts to enact significant gun control legislation would fail. “Guns and gun control are so much at the heart of the radical right,” Potok sad. “That looked like an issue that was going to become white hot, but it essentially died and went away.”


It's as if Janet Napolitano is here again calling us all "right-wing extremists."

Naturally the SPLC defines the Tea Party as a "hate group"...


The power of hate groups is largely rooted in their ability to exist as an alternative to mainstream political debate. In recent years, as local, state and national political figures affiliated with the tea party movement have adopted some views that previously only existed outside the mainstream political system, the far-right has struggled to rally support for its organizations. Various scandals within the hierarchies of some hate groups, as well as deaths and arrests of some leaders, have also hurt organizations’ ability to recruit and build their ranks.


...because having a belief in the Constitution and in limited government interference of your daily life in matters such as education, health care, and privacy is probably not "mainstream."

Honestly, it's enough to make me dust off my Tea Party t-shirt, call C.L. Bryant for a chat, and organize a rally.

SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok suggests that if immigration becomes a hot issue in Congress that the Tea Party hate groups "will rise again."

One can only hope.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Let's make the car a place of silent reflection from now on."

Are you watching this freakin' show?!  True Detective on HBO?

I'm so damn addicted!

No spoilers - I'm catching up to the most recent episode, but oh my gosh Matthew McConaughey is mesmerizing!  For those who have no idea, this show is about two Louisiana State Police detectives who were investigating a serial killer in 1995.  The show is framed around current day interviews with the two detectives who are obviously no longer on the job.  They are being interviewed about the case (separately) because supposedly all the files and records were destroyed in a hurricane.  The then-and-now intertwines and intermingles and soon you realize there is more going on here.  The acting is phenomenal, the writing is airtight, and the photography is stunning.  I haven't been this excited about television since The Sopranos.

A couple of friends at work told me I needed to watch this show:  "It's the most tightly written show I've ever seen!", one said.  The other told me she's had to watch episodes a couple of times to catch everything.  I find this to be true.  I'm so caught up with the photography, the scenery, and the filters they're using I miss dialogue.

It is just so Louisiana.  My friend said, "That's what is so cool about it.  It IS Louisiana; it's the flower in the swamp."

From Shane Ryan at Paste:

This is McConaughey in long hair, beat down by life, trying to convince himself and the detectives interviewing him that whatever state he finds himself in is a kind of “victory”; he knows himself, he says, after years of toil he has resolved that he’s a drunk living in the middle of nowhere, waiting for death. But the charisma of this man … this is where words begin to fail, if they haven’t already. McConaughey is almost too goddam massive for the screen. Watching him act, as latter-day Rust, is one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had with TV. He’s beaten-down, but he can’t hide the life force that struggles to emerge. The medium can barely contain him; he belongs in a spaceship among alien beings. There’s something bursting out, and when he delivers certain lines—“start asking the right fucking questions,” for one—the experience is so visceral your own blood starts to pound. And Fukunaga, who, thank God, is directing all eight episodes, knows the weapon at his disposal. He lets the camera linger on Rust’s face at length, allowing McConaughey to dance from emotion to emotion with a word, with an expression. Working in tandem, they only need a moment to devastate.

I'm kind of like this reviewer: I'm almost speechless about this show.

If you aren't watching this show, get HBO, find a friend with HBO, something, but watch.  It's amazing.  But don't leave any spoilers in the comments if you're already watching!  I'm going now to get all caught up.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Didn't we give up living off Ramen noodles in college?

Over at Hot Air, Ed Morrissey has a post highlighting rising food prices.  This isn't news to anyone who has been in a grocery store lately, but it does seem relevant to point it out  on today, the fifth anniversary of the Porkulus bill.

If you’ve noticed a higher grocery bill in this era of supposedly low inflation, you’re not imagining things. Despite Washington estimates of low consumer inflation over the last few years, the prices of goods at the market are rising rapidly — especially for meat items, which have risen by double digits since 2011. 

I've all but quit buying red meat, and not for health reasons or that I've become a vegetarian: I'm a red meat carnivore, but who in the world can afford a $24 rump roast for Sunday dinner?  Mr. SIGIS bought groceries at the commissary on base last week and paid $4.00 per lb. for ground beef.  A whole chicken runs about $6 now as opposed to about $4 a year ago at my grocery store.  Milk?  About $4.50 a gallon.  Our weekly splurge of ribeyes for the grill is a thing of the past.  Even my own favorite food group, beer, now costs about $2 more a six-pack.

Coincidentally, food stamp use is higher than its ever been, especially among our military.  Via CNN:
Food stamp redemption at military grocers has been rising steadily since the beginning of the recession in 2008. Nearly $104 million worth of food stamps was redeemed at military commissaries in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

This graphic tells the story:



Meanwhile, Congress tried to cut military pensions and the Pentagon wants to close base commissaries.

Of course, Obama's gutting of welfare reform including making food stamps easier to obtain, so that could explain part of it; more Americans than ever are on food stamps,  but there's no question that food prices are rising.

What's the answer?  Buy stock in Ramen?  Ed Morrissey again:

That won’t change until two pressures on the economy are reversed: rising costs on business and improvement of chronic joblessness. The latter keeps wages depressed by providing a large labor pool for a relatively small number of net jobs created over the last five years since the beginning of the recovery in June 2009. On average since then, we have created significantly fewer jobs each month than necessary to keep pace with population growth. In large part, the job-creation market has been stifled by extra costs and disincentives to investors and businesses in job-creating expansion and risk-taking. Those same costs, along with relatively high energy costs, get passed along to consumers in higher prices, putting them in the economic vise described in this CBS report.Seems to me that the stimulus has failed and that Obama's policies have done more harm than good.
Marco Rubio, today:

“If you recall five years ago, the notion was that if the government spent all this money — that, by the way, was borrowed— that somehow the economy would begin to grow and create jobs. Well, of course, it clearly failed,” Rubio says in the video, according to POLITICO’s Mike Allen in Playbook. “Five years later, underemployment is still too high, the number of people that have dropped out of the workforce is astounding, unemployment remains stubbornly high and our economy isn’t growing fast enough — proof that massive government spending, particularly debt spending, is not the solution to our economic growth problems.”

Maybe it's time to start living off the land again.

Here in Louisiana it's crawfish season!  (Oh, but they're $8 a pound right now.)

Iowa State University to Remove Gideon Bibles from Campus Hotel

Last week, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave a speech at the Reagan Library in which he warned of a silent war on religion in our country;  he said:
This war is waged in our courts and in the halls of political power. It is pursued with grim and relentless determination by a group of like-minded elites, determined to transform the country from a land sustained by faith — into a land where faith is silenced, privatized, and circumscribed.
This is playing out all across our country. Prayer is forbidden in schools.  It is forbidden at most sporting events.  Creches are not allowed without other secular symbols.  Courthouses across the country have been stripped of displays of the Ten Commandments.  "Happy Holidays" is the greeting you get in shops now instead of "Merry Christmas."  It goes on and on.  We have become a nation of political correctness run amok.

Now we get a report that a guest in an Iowa State University hotel was offended by the Bible in a drawer in his room and has filed a complaint with the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  As a result, the hotel will have all Bibles removed by March 1:
Rooms at Iowa State University’s Hotel Memorial Union will no longer contain Gideon bibles, after a guest complained to a watchdog group about “unwelcome religious propaganda in the bedside table.”
The Bibles will be placed in the hotel's browsing library.

The basis of the complaint seems to be in part that the university is state run.  In that case, why not remove the Bibles from the library, too?  Isn't it also state run?

In his speech at the Reagan Library, Governor Jindal referenced a famous quote by Margaret Thatcher:
Margaret Thatcher famously said, 'Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy.’ The secular elites understand this just as well as she did. And they know that to take over America, they must make war on this philosophy.
Part of the rotting of the moral fabric of our country occurs in liberal universities.

As far as I can tell, Iowa State University put up no fight whatsoever to this complaint.  Last year the campus hotel at the University of Wisconsin-Madison also removed Bibles from their rooms.

How can one Gideon Bible in a drawer be so offensive?  If I saw a Quran in a drawer would I file a lawsuit or a complaint?  I'd like to think not.  I'd just close the drawer.

Governor Jindal noted in his speech that our founding documents were designed to protect people of all religions.  It just seems that the Christian religion is the one under attack these days, from the Duck Dynasty flap to the Hobby Lobby case, Christians are constantly having to defend their rights to express their religion.

To the spineless administration at Iowa State University, I would leave you with this story about how a Gideon Bible saved one man's life.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around: The Post Yard Work Edition

I'm a slacker: I didn't get my weekly linkage post up this morning.

I have a good excuse.

Sort of.  

I was in a total fog yesterday; I've had insomnia since I was a kid.  I take meds for it and when I went to pick up my prescription refill this week it hadn't been called in.  So I went a couple of nights without it and trust me, as a person who needs eight hours of sleep to function, I was not fit to be around yesterday.  I even had to cancel my plans to go see The Sultans at El Potrillo last night because I just couldn't do it.  

Anyway, I got the meds and slept great last night; so today I got up and pruned four crepe myrtle trees and two sweet olives in the hopeful anticipation of spring.  I hung new outdoor white lights on the deck and mulched all my leaves.  I'm exhausted now, but it's a good tired as opposed to a no-sleep tired.  Mr. SIGIS and I are settled in for the afternoon now, watching LSU baseball.

Around the blogosphere:

At Legal Insurrection, an Obama gif.  And people are offended.  We are a nation of political correctness gone amok.

At Lonely Conservative, Michelle does Aspen.

American Power has a crazed camel story; you don't see that one everyday.

Pirate's Cove has the weekly linkfest.

The Other McCain posts on the Ellen Page coming out thing.  Why is this even a thing?  Why is this news?

Doug Ross reports that John Boehner has challengers for his re-election.

To the eternal question, "If you could spend one hour in conversation with someone, who would it be?", Saberpoint chooses Mark Twain.  I'm not sure I could choose one person.  It would depend on when you ask me, too.  Right now, I'd probably choose Cammie Henry because I'm fascinated with her.  But most days, I'd probably pick my mother.  Other days I might pick Ronald Reagan.  Or Thomas Jefferson.

At Da Tech Guy, apparently our federal government is sending out $500 checks.

Adrienne blogs on our American Royalty.

And finally, Ed Driscoll, who posts on infighting at Washington Post.

For now, that's about it.  I'm back to my obsessive research on Cammie Henry and life at Melrose with the baseball game in the background.

How do you plan to celebrate President's Day?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Distinguished Service Cross Awarded to Delta Force Operator Who Saved Numerous Lives in Benghazi

I'm a little slow to this story but I feel that it's noteworthy enough to post anyway, especially since I'm not seeing much about it in legacy media.  The Washington Times reports that Master Sgt. David Halbruner was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross recently, likely for his role in saving lives in Benghazi on Sept 11-12, 2012.  The citation reads:


“Without regard for his own safety, Master Sergeant Halbruner’s valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm’s way for the protection of others was critical to the success of saving numerous United States civilian lives. Throughout the operation, Master Sergeant Halbruner continually exposed himself to fire as he shepherded unarmed civilians to safety and treated the critically wounded. His calm demeanor, professionalism and courage was an inspiration to all and contributed directly to the success of the mission. Master Sergeant Halbruner’s distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his Command and the United States Army.”

Is the White House still sticking with that silly video story?

I think this is probably closer to what really happened, as opposed to a "spontaneous attack" over a video.

Has the mainstream media reported on Master Sgt. Halbruner's medal?  Or are they just hoping Benghazi will go away so it won't be a stone in Hillary's path back to Pennsylvania Avenue?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Am Obsessed...

...with Cammie Henry and daily life at Melrose. Fascinating!! Snapshots of history...