Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Oh, good grief...

Let it be noted that on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama had to re-take his oath of office because John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, got tongue-tied during the original oath on January 20, Inauguration Day.

The administration said that the do-over was simply "out of an abundance of caution". I think it was out of flashback to the Bill Clinton presidency, when certain components of the right wing did everything they could, however ridiculous, to try to push Clinton out of the White House. Yes, we do remember the incessant bullying.

And let it not be said that no one thought the bungled oath might be used in that way. Chris Wallace, of FOX News (I'm trying to be nice here), was quoted as questioning whether Obama might not actually be president due to the fact that the words of the original oath were not said in exactly the right order, and that the issue could end up in court. Never mind that the president-elect becomes president at 12 noon EST on Inauguration Day, whether or not the oath has been administered.

This strikes me as just the stupidest thing, superstitious almost, or at least a manifestation of some sort of institutional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Mr. Obama promised to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, or however the wording goes. That should be enough, without having to say every word, in order, like a grammar school memorization exercise.

But, you know what's going to happen? Someone, somewhere out there, is going to make a deal that the do-over did not involve a hand on a Bible.

Oh, and by the way, Chris're an idiot, a troublemaker, and a bully to even raise that question.

You can read the whole story on

Monday, January 12, 2009

Comfort reading...

It's been a tough few weeks for me, with my mother's passing and on top of that all the stuff that has to be taken care of in the wake of such an event. There are notifications to make, personal affairs to be taken care of, arrangements to be made. It is difficult when you're missing your loved one, but it falls to you to take care of the majority of these things and you don't really feel like doing any of it. You'd rather just go someplace warm and take a nap.

I've found that when I do have some spare time, I've gone back to an old standby behavior that I've used for years and years to cope with difficult times. I've been doing some comfort reading.

I suppose it is different for different people, but my version of comfort reading involves going back and reading old favorite books. It's very much like visiting old friends.

Right now, for example, I'm in the middle of reading The Longest Cave, by Roger W. Brucker and Richard A. Watson. It tells the true story of several decades of work leading to the connection of cave passages under Flint Ridge and Mammoth Cave Ridge in Kentucky into the longest surveyed cave in the world. I first read it shortly after it was published in 1976, and this is probably about the tenth time I've read it, although I couldn't say for sure because I've lost track of just how many times I've gone back to read it.

It's comfort reading for me for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I'm fascinated by caves. Have been ever since I visited Carlsbad Caverns, in New Mexico, when I was 12 or 13 years old on a summer vacation with my family. I guess some people get claustrophobic in caves, but I find being surrounded by all those rock walls kind of comforting.

But even beyond my interest in caves, the people that populate the pages of The Longest Cave just seem like good people to spend some time with. They come across generally as smart, interesting and ambitious (in a good way), and they understand the value of teamwork. Their appeal, further, doesn't fade with repeated readings.

That isn't my only go-to book when I need to do some comfort reading. Little Women is another book I turn to when I need to do some comfort reading. The mystery novels of Faye Kellerman and the Company novels, written by Kage Baker, also have served as comfort reading from time to time. Which one (or ones) of these I go to when I need some comfort reading varies depending on the situation. But they all work.

So...what is your favorite comfort reading? Or do you tend more toward comfort movies or comfort music?

Friday, January 02, 2009

It's too early in the year for this...

I sincerely hope that this is not an indication of how the year is going to go.

It was reported on CNN's website that a Muslim family of nine and a family friend who happened to be taking the same flight were taken off an AirTran flight in Washington, D.C. yesterday after some members of the family were heard discussing which seats on the plane were the safest. Apparently some passengers and the airline found this conversation "suspicious", even though CNN reports that no threatening words, such as "bomb" or "explosion" were used.

The FBI quickly cleared the family of any wrongdoing, according to the report, but while AirTran officials said that the family could fly the airline again, the airline apparently refused to rebook them yesterday and they had to buy tickets on another airline in order to reach their vacation destination of Orlando, Florida.

Both the father of the family and the family friend are attorneys; the friend is an attorney for the Library of Congress.

It frustrates me that this sort of thing is still going on here. Apparently, people who appear to be of certain ethnic backgrounds have to be careful of what they say for fear of being labeled terrorists, even when what they are talking about would not arouse any suspicion at all coming from individuals appearing to be from other ethnic backgrounds.

Which is just stupid. Terrorists don't "look like" any particular nationality or ethnic group. I mean, really, has everyone forgotten Timothy McVeigh, and what he did, already?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

I am, I hope, back on a more regular basis as the new year begins.

During the last half of 2008, it was difficult for me to concentrate on much of anything as well as to find time to write anything beyond for my work.

My mother's health began to deteriorate at a more rapid pace after she fell and broke a hip in mid-July and she passed away on 6 December 2008, so my mind and energies were elsewhere.

I still miss her terribly, but life does go on...something my mother taught me...and so I plan to be back and blogging much more often in 2009. I can't say that I'll have something to write about every day, but my plan is to be here at least two or three times a week and I hope to write even more often than that.

So, here's hoping that 2009 brings you all health and happiness and as much success as you can handle.

And better weather. It's past 11 a.m. here where I am, and while the fog has lifted so that I can actually see across the street, it is still hovering above the Valley, making it still dark and dreary and cold. Not saying that I'm looking forward to those 105 F degree days we will surely get this summer, but a little warmth would be nice.