2005/04/29

Bush Press Conference

After Bush's press conference last night it's to be expected that the media would be full of commentary. Now what did we learn? Let's see. He's for social security benefit cuts, the private accounts idea is circling the drain, his great energy plan ain't gonna' help lower current gasoline prices, he's backing away from GOP conservatives over the role of religion in politics, Bolton is still his main man, Demos just don't like his judicial nominees, partisanism in Washington is bad, Russian President Putin has been naughty, and things are ducky in Iraq. Does that about cover it all?

For me, the most interesting aspect was the coverage itself.

"The White House had rescheduled Thursday from 7:30 to 7 to get the networks to
air the press conference live in prime time during a key ratings week.

But three of the nation's four top networks -- ABC stuck with him -- gave Bush the hook.

'I don't want to cut into some of these TV shows that are getting ready to air, for the sake of the economy,' Bush said.

But just before 8 p.m., CBS and NBC dropped Bush for 'Survivor' and 'The Apprentice.'

Fox anchor Shepard Smith abruptly cut into Bush's answer of the final question to shift away to Paris Hilton and 'A Simple Life: The Interns.'" Full story>>

2005/04/28

Ferman Westbrook: 1935 - 2005

Ferman Westbrook died on Monday. We found out a few minutes ago when I checked the WREG website. We just talked to him the Monday before when we picked up our truck. He assured us that it was ready for another road trip, and jokingly asked if we were heading for Alaska again.

My wife had been doing business with him since 1978. When we married in '84, we took our vehicles to Westbrook's. How good was he? Try this. If after an auto accident your insurance company hasseled you about who would repair your vehicle, all you had to do was say you were going to Ferman and the insurance company would back off, real quick. In all the years we dealt with him we never had to pay the deductible. Didn't have to. Ferman was also the most honest business person we've ever known.

Ferman Westbrook: 1935 - 2005

Updated
April 28, 2005
By Andy Wise

MEMPHIS -- The first auto mechanic to be inducted into Andy's Army has died. 70-year-old Ferman Westbrook, widely considered as the dean of auto mechanics in the Mid-South, died of a massive heart attack Monday.

Westbrook was a professional mechanic for 58 years in both Louisiana and Tennessee. He, his son Scott and his daughter Trina ran Westbrook Auto Service & Body Shop at 3966 Winchester Road in Southeast Memphis. Scott and Trina will continue to operate the business.

3 On Your Side chose Westbrook as the first auto mechanic to be inducted into Andy's Army, our team of volunteers and professionals who assist consumers in our broadcasts, back in 1998. Since that time, Westbrook appeared in countless consumer protection series, product tests and auto safety stories on News Channel 3.

The Mid-South Better Business Bureau rated Westbrook as having one of the best service records in the area, choosing him to be the bureau's official consultant on auto issues and arbitrations.

Visitation will be held at Memphis Funeral Home at 5599 Poplar Avenue in East Memphis from 5 PM to 8 PM Thursday. Funeral services are scheduled for 11:00 AM Friday, April 29, at Gracewood Baptist Church, 8551 Getwell Road North in Southaven, Mississippi.

This just in ...

Sounds like a plan to me.

Washington DC - Congress today announced that the Office of President of the United States of America will be outsourced to overseas interests as of June 30th, the end of this fiscal year. The move is being made to save not only a significant portion of the President's $400K yearly salary, but also a record $521 Billion in deficit expenditures and related overhead.

"We believe this is a wise move financially. The cost savings should be significant" stated Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-Wash). Reynolds, with the aid of the GAO (the General Accounting Office), has studied outsourcing of American jobs extensively. "We cannot expect to remain competitive on the world stage with the current level of cash outlay," Reynolds noted.

Mr. Bush was informed by email this morning of his termination. Preparations for the job move have been underway for some time.

Gurvinder Singh of Indus Teleservices, Mumbai, India will be assuming the Office of President of the United States as of July. Mr. Singh was born in the United States while his Indian parents were vacationing at Niagara Falls, thus making him eligible for the position. He will receive a salary of $320 (USD) a month but with no health coverage or other benefits.

It is believed that Mr. Singh will be able to handle his job responsibilities without support staff. Due to the time difference between the US and India, he will be working primarily at night, when few offices of the US government will be open. "Working nights will allow me to keep my day job at the American Express call center," stated Mr. Singh in an exclusive interview. "I am excited about this position. I always hoped I would be President someday."

A Congressional Spokesperson noted that while Mr. Singh may not be fully aware of all the issues involved in the office of President, this should not be a problem. Mr. Singh will rely upon a script tree that will enable him to respond effectively to most topics of concern. Using this tree, he can address common concerns without having to understand the underlying issues at all. "We know these scripting tools work," stated the Spokesperson. "Mr. Bush has used them successfully for years."

Mr. Bush will receive health overage, expenses, and salary until his final day of employment. Following a two week waiting period, he will be eligible for $240 dollars a week unemployment for 13 weeks. Unfortunately he will not be eligible for Medicaid as his unemployment benefits will exceed the allowed limit. Mr. Bush has been provided the outplacement services of Manpower, Inc. to help him write a resume and prepare for his upcoming job transition. According to Manpower, Mr. Bush may have difficulties in securing a new position due to limited practical work experience. One possibility is re-enlistment in the Army National Guard. Should he choose this option, he would likely be stationed in Iraq, a country he has visited.

"I've been there, I know all about Iraq," stated Mr. Bush, who gained invaluable knowledge of the country in a visit to the Baghdad Airport nonsmoking terminal and gift shop. Sources in Baghdad and Falluja say Mr. Bush would receive a warm reception from local Iraqis. They have asked to be provided with details of his arrival so that they might arrange an appropriate welcome.

Inquirin' minds ...

Found this quote from Tennessee State Rep. Frank Nicely, (R) of Strawberry Plains, concerning the inpending ethics bill. "This is complicated and serious business. We're laying traps here for the honest and semi-honest politicians. I hate to be passing the rope that's going to hang us." Hang who? And, which is he? Full story>>

Mama said there'd be ...

I've been gone for awhile, and I bet you never noticed. First, from about noon Friday, April fifteenth through Sunday afternoon of April seventeenth I was in Nashville. We took a group of elementary school students to the Destination Imagination state tourney. (More on that later.)

Got home and found that my notebook wasn't working. My LCD screen's backlight had gone south on me. Options; ship my notebook back to Gateway and pay about three hundred buck to have the work done, or, look for some place closer and cheaper. No brainer really. Got my notebook back last night.

2005/04/14

Wendi's take on the latest MCS board dust-up

Ever hear that saying, when you point a finger at someone else you've got four fingers pointing back at you?

If Memphis City School Board member Sara Lewis were familiar with the saying she wouldn't have accused Supt. Carol Johnson of being dishonest at Monday's board meeting.


The issue: whether the cash-strapped district should choose to save $2 million a year on building maintenance by switching from Aramark to Trammell Crow Co., or instead, bring the work in-house.

For a system facing an $11.6 million shortfall, the choice seems obvious (and the board ultimately chose Trammell Crow), but not when hotheads like Lewis are on board. With her attempt to impugn Johnson's integrity, Lewis did serious damage to her own.
Full story>>

2005/04/13

And this says what about Wheeler and Miller?

Did they run out of names, or what?

Three new beetles of the genus Agathidium have been named after members of the current administration: A. bushi, A. cheneyi and A. rumsfeldi.

Two former Cornell University entomologists, Quentin Wheeler and Kelly Miller, were in charge of naming 65 new species of slime-mold beetles, which they discovered while studying the insects’ evolution and classification.

Wheeler, who is now head of entomology at the Natural History Museum in London, said that the choice to name beetles after President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was out of admiration for their principles, not because they look like the beetles. Full story>>


Principles? We ain't got no principles. We don't need no principles. I don't have to show you any stinkin' principles!

Memphis tops in tax loans

Once again Memphis is on the wrong end of a dubious achievement. This time it's "having the greatest percentage of its Earned Income Tax Credit filers applying for money-losing refund anticipation loans at tax time." Not a good thing, but yet another unfortunate Memphis thing.

Just in time for tax day Friday, the Brookings Institution report, "Step in the Right Direction," also provides a hint of good news. The percentage of Memphians applying for the high-interest loans declined from 69.8 to 64.5 from tax year 2001 and 2002, a trend mirrored around the country.

But Memphis, with 65,948 loan applicants out of 102,194 EITC claimants, tops the list, followed by Birmingham (60.5 percent), Norfolk, Va., (58.5 percent), Greenville, S.C., (58.2 percent), and Atlanta (57.5 percent). Full Story>>

Latest MCS board dust-up

Come on now. How many of you Memphians have been waiting for Sara Lewis to blow up at a city school board meeting? Come on, be honest. Show of hands. Well, your wait is over. Hope this doesn't run-off our almost new superintendent.

During a discussion about a facilities maintenance contract, Lewis tearfully accused Supt. Carol Johnson of misleading her. Lewis was apparently upset that a consultant hired to review the contract was only recommended by the Council of Great City Schools, but not actually a paid employee of the council. Full editorial>>

2005/04/12

How 'bout that '65 Plymoth Valiant?

It has always been tempting to think you can figure out who a person is and what he thinks by what he drives. That subject was raised recently by Chely Wright in her country and western hit, ''Bumper of My S.U.V.,'' in which she tells of a ''lady in a minivan'' giving her a vulgar hand gesture for driving a car with a Marines bumper sticker:

''Does she think she knows what I stand for/Or the things that I believe/Just by looking at a sticker for the U.S. Marines/On the bumper of my S.U.V.?''

The lady in the minivan might not know, but some of the finest minds in market research think they do. By analyzing new-car sales, surveying car owners and keeping count of political bumper stickers, they are identifying the differences between Democratic cars and Republican ones.



Oh, and according to Art Spinella, the president of CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Oregon "Democrats buy cars, Republicans buy trucks."

I drive a ten year old Toyota T-100 pick-up. Its not the biggest of the Toyota line, but it's not the small sport pick-up either. And, I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN. Not hardly. So, what does that say about me? By the way, my next vehicle will probably be a foreign hybrid.

Interesting article. A little too pat though. Full story>>

Big Mac rap may mean artists' payday

It's true, it's true. Mickey Dee's is paying rappers each time a track is played on radio that mentions the term Big Mac. It's called name-checking. Is this a wonderful country, or what?

Rap artists are accustomed to name-checking prestige car, clothing and jewellery brands in their lyrics. But if McDonald's has its way Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and 50 Cent may soon be giving it up for the humble beefburger.

The fast-food giant is reported to be launching a campaign that will offer financial incentives to rap artists who mention its Big Mac burger in their lyrics. McDonald's will not pay an upfront fee, but intends to pay the artist between $1 and $5 (53p-£2.68) each time a track is played on the radio. It hopes to have several suchsongs on the airwaves by the summer. Full story>>.

Click here for more of The Boondocks.

2005/04/11

"Why fight when you can have a fun discussion?"

The fun discussion being referred to here is evolution versus creationism. That's hardly what I'd call a fun discussion. You either subscribe to one or the other.

They called it "teach the controversy," and that's become the institute's rallying cry as a leader in the latest efforts to raise doubts about Darwin in school. Evolution controversies are brewing in eight school districts, half a dozen state legislatures and three state boards of education, including the one in Kansas, which wrestled with the issue in 1999 as well.

I guess that's one way of avoiding those pesky constitutional bar fights. Full story>>

The sixty-five cent solution

PHOENIX -- Patrick Byrne, a 42-year-old bear of a man who bristles with ideas that have made him rich and restless, has an idea that can provide a new desktop computer for every student in America without costing taxpayers a new nickel. Or it could provide 300,000 new $40,000-a-year teachers without any increase in taxes. His idea -- call it the 65 Percent Solution -- is politically delicious because it unites parents, taxpayers and teachers while, he hopes, sowing dissension in the ranks of the teachers unions, which he considers the principal institutional impediment to improving primary and secondary education.

You've never heard of Patrick Byrne, have you? I hadn't heard of him myself until a few days ago, so don't beat yourself up. It turns out that he has tons of money, and a great idea that will help education in this country.

The idea, which will face its first referendum in Arizona, is to require that 65 percent of every school district's education operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. On, that is, teachers and pupils, not bureaucracy.


Sounds good to me. Seems that currently, there are only four states that are doing this; Utah, New York, Maine and Tennessee. Yes, Tennessee uses sixty-five percent of it's education operational budget for classroom, i.e. students and teachers. So, why are Tennessee public schools hurting for money? Anybody have a good answer? More>>

2005/04/10

Interactive humor?

I just heard on MSNBC that Kelley Clarkson's dna is being sold on eBay. Apparently, some fan got hold of a bottle of water she drank from during a concert. I haven't got the time, so insert your own joke here.

2005/04/09

Royal wedding update

Charles and Camilla are finally wed. And, not a sign of asteroids.
Prince Charles Weds Camilla Parker Bowles

2005/04/08

The Passion of the Tom

Before, Republicans just scared other people. Now, they’re starting to scare themselves.

When Dick Cheney tells you you’ve gone too far, you know you’re way over the edge. (More)

These two rats walk into a bar...

Life can be funny, and not just for humans.

Studies by various groups suggest monkeys, dogs and even rats love a good laugh. People, meanwhile, have been laughing since before they could talk.

"Indeed, neural circuits for laughter exist in very ancient regions of the brain, and ancestral forms of play and laughter existed in other animals eons before we humans came along with our 'ha-ha-has' and verbal repartee," says Jaak Panksepp, a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University. (More)

Royal wedding update

This just in on Charles and Camilla's wedding. The happy couple's nuptials have been rescheduled for Saturday. Messy weather has been forecast, but as yet no sign of asteroids. (More)

Well, we are not anarchists; we are iconoclasts

BAGHDAD, IRAQ—The Iraqi people don't have to tell me what it's like to live in a dictatorship. I've spent over 16 years in the Army. "Listen up, today, your favorite color is blue. Any people you run across who are trying to kill Americans are to be referred to as 'anti-Iraqi forces.' You are quite fond of pistachio-flavored ice cream. If you capture a weapons cache, you will pronounce cache 'cash-ay' and not 'cash'—we suspect that word may be French."

The above is from an essay by Craig A. McNeil, an Army reserve officer who spent time in the sandbox. War is hell. It always will be. Maybe that's the reason I like his take on being a soldier in a combat zone. It's quite different from what you usually read. (More)

2005/04/07

The Pope and Hypocrisy

Nicholas Kristof is right when he says, "It's hypocritical of us to pretend to honor him by lowering our flags while simultaneously displaying an amoral indifference to genocide". It's also interesting that this column's correct title is The Pope and Hypocrisy. So why was it printed in The Commercial Appeal as The Pope would prefer action in Darfur? Curious. (Full story)

Protect neighborhoods

I think we can all agree that the Memphis City School board members made the correct decision when they voted to close four elementary schools. Now what are they going to do with those empty buildings? Tear them down? I hope not.

The closing decision shouldn't be the end of the story, however, for the neighborhoods around Locke, Stafford, Dunn and Walker Elementary schools. These soon-to-be-empty school buildings should be carefully evaluated to assess the possibility of alternative uses that would benefit their neighborhoods.

Organizations such as the city's Department of Housing and Community Development and the Community Development Council of Greater Memphis, working closely with school district officials, should focus on these areas to help assess their needs and prepare for a future without their traditional neighborhood hubs. (Full story)

2005/04/06

Bring them home safely

A friend in Bentonville, Arkansas, sent this photo. Her own son is about forty miles south of Baghdad right now. I won't complain about mowing the yard again. Thanks D.C.

Here is a soldier stationed in Iraq, stationed in a big sand box. He asked his wife to send him dirt (U.S. soil), fertilizer and some grass seeds so he can have the sweet aroma and feel the grass grow beneath his feet.


A patch of home Posted by Hello

News from Havana

"Rest in peace tireless fighter for friendship among peoples, enemy of war and friend of the poor" ...

Cuban President Fidel Castro wrote this in a condolences book in Havana's Vatican Mission on Monday. Interesting. Even more interesting is the fact that El Hefe's government never broke ties with the Vatican. For the full story click on HindustanTimes.com.

Looking for terror? Help is on the way.

Murfreesboro Tennessee made national news. I found this in the latest issue of the Onion. I feel safer already, don't you? Maybe we should all move to the Murfreesboro area. You think?

The WMFB TerrorFirst! van Posted by Hello

MURFREESBORO, TN—Touting itself as "the only channel with a terror-alert system designed to meet the specific needs of central Tennessee," Fox News affiliate WMFB-TV Channel 11 debuted its terror-alert van Monday.

"The team you trust to keep you informed is working to keep the greater Murfreesboro area—and your family—safe from Muslim extremists," said station
manager Carl Bogert, unveiling the TerrorFirst! van at a press conference held
in the "Terrorist No Zone" in the back parking lot. "When terrorism threatens
the people of central Tennessee, Fox 11 is there first. Watch Channel 11 for up-to-the-minute coverage of where, when, and how the enemies of freedom are
coming to get you."


Painted red, white, and blue, the TerrorFirst! van is the first mobile unit devoted to monitoring terrorist threats on a local level. The van is equipped with live satellite feeds to and from the Fox News channel, a fax machine prepared to receive alerts from the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, an English-Arabic phrase book for translating any intercepted al-Qaeda correspondence, and a field-issue anthrax-detection kit. (Full story)

Pet peeve

I found this in this morning edition of The Commercial Appeal in the Daybreak section. This has been a pet peeve since I began driving. And, merging at the front of the line is just plain skipping. Remember that from elementary school?

Attention, idiot drivers

Mind if we cut in? And sooner than later, please: The state's Department of Transportation held five simultaneous news conferences around the state Monday to get this message across: When you see a construction-zone sign that says "merge left" -- do it.


Don't sit there gabbing on your cell, thinking you'll get to it later.


Don't be a jerk and decide not to let anyone merge in front of you.

And don't try to blow past everyone and merge at the front of the line.

Besides being boorish, none of these moves work.

If you hold up the line, your delay is multiplied by all the drivers behind you, so that we ALL get yelled at by the boss for being late.

Meet the family III


Daisy's favorite show Posted by Hello

And this is Daisy. Another adoption.

Meet the family II


Is this right? Posted by Hello

This is Rose. Also an adoption.

Meet the family


Molly & Cheyenne Posted by Hello

In Rainy days and Mondays ... I mentioned our big girls, Molly and Cheyenne. Well, here they are. Cheyenne is an English Pointer. Molly is Schipperke. Mostly Schipperke. Both are adoptions. They're back stories come later.

Rainy days and Mondays ...

It has rained nearly all day. Some lightning, a little thunder. We got off better than areas further south. Mississippi, Lousiana; they had major storms. Tornadic activity, as the weather casters say now. Tornadic. (I hate that word. Is it a real word?) Here, it's just been very Blade Runneresque. Right now, the sky has a yellow cast to it. Very sci-fi.

Because of the weather, the big girls have been inside most of the day. The big girls; Molly and Cheyenne. Actually, they're both still puppies. Molly's about nine moths, while Cheyenne is pushing thirteen months. Still just puppies. They really needed time outside to run and wrestle, but given that the backyard is mostly a muddy swamp they've been inside.

That's okay. We like having them inside. They are good girls. Besides, we had no where to go and no real reason to even be out of the house. Yard work and errands were yesterday. So everything worked out.

Passports please

If you read the morning paper you know that travelers "headed into the U.S. from Canada, Mexico or Bermuda will have to show a passport ," beginning in January of 2008. Our daughter lives in Alaska. She's been there since 1992. We've visited her and her family five times now. We drove four times. (We enjoy camping.) We flew once. She's visited us numerous times since '93. Never once were we asked for any ID other than a drivers license.

I know, I know. Homeland security, and all that. I do get it. Really. But Passport fees are presently $95. And you know fees will increase. So, couldn't they shave some off the price? It would help.

Travelers headed into the United States from Canada, Mexico or Bermuda will have to show a passport under new rules that will be phased in by January 2008 as part of an effort to increase security at the nation's borders, officials said Tuesday.

The lack of a requirement that United States citizens, or Mexicans and Canadians in many cases, display passports at land borders, airports or seaports, since Sept. 11 has been considered a major flaw in the effort to secure the borders.

United States citizens can now re-enter the country from Canada and often from Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Panama by showing a driver's license. Similarly, certain foreigners are not required to present passports to travel to the United States from these countries. (Full story)

2005/04/05

Blonde joke, II

Sorry about the "all caps." This is how it was emailed to me. Right Robyn?

WHAT IS EASTER??

THREE BLONDES (NATURAL) DIED AND FOUND THEMSELVES STANDING BEFORE ST. PETER. HE TOLD THEM THAT BEFORE THEY COULD ENTER THE KINGDOM, THEY HAD TO TELL HIM WHAT EASTER WAS.

THE FIRST BLONDE SAID, "EASTER IS A HOLIDAY WHERE THEY HAVE A BIG FEAST AND WE GIVE THANKS AND EAT TURKEY."

ST. PETER SAID, "NOOOOOO," AND HE BANISHED HER TO HELL.

THE SECOND BLONDE SAID, "EASTER IS WHEN WE CELEBRATE JESUS' BIRTH AND EXCHANGE GIFTS."

ST. PETER SAID, "NOOOOOO," AND HE BANISHED HER TO HELL.

THE THIRD BLONDE SAID, SHE KNEW WHAT EASTER IS, AND ST. PETER SAID, "SO, TELL ME."

SHE SAID, "EASTER IS A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY THAT COINCIDES WITH THE JEWISH FESTIVAL OF PASSOVER. JESUS WAS HAVING PASSOVER FEAST WITH HIS DISCIPLES WHEN HE WAS BETRAYED BY JUDAS, AND THE ROMANS ARRESTED HIM. THE ROMANS HUNG HIM ON THE CROSS AND EVENTUALLY HE DIED. THEN THEY BURIED HIM IN A TOMB BEHIND A VERY LARGE BOULDER.

ST. PETER SAID, "VERRRRRRY GOOD."

THEN THE BLONDE CONTINUED, "NOW EVERY YEAR THE JEWS ROLL AWAY THE BOULDER AND JESUS COMES OUT. IF HE SEES HIS SHADOW, WE HAVE SIX MORE WEEKS OF BASKETBALL."

ST. PETER FAINTED

Somehow wrong on several levels, II

Wonder if Ol' Duke knows Jerry Ray, James Earl's brother? They do seem to have a lot in common. Ol' Jerry could help Duke with marketing. He could explain how these "historical people" think. You know, these people who are "into history who might want to see this sort of thing."

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey is appalled that a serial killer's lurid, videotaped confession to police is being sold on the Internet by the man's father.

Randolph "Duke" White, father of self-professed serial killer Richard Paul White, is marketing two volumes of his son's confession at $39.95 apiece.

The DVDs detail White's brutal murders of Annaletia Maria Gonzales and Victoria Turpin, whose bodies were buried in the back yard of his former Park Hill home, and of his friend Jason Reichardt.
(Full story)

Blonde joke, I

Thanks for the joke Nancy.

A blonde woman was speeding down the road in her little red sports car and was pulled over by a female police officer...who was also a blonde. The blonde cop asked to see the blonde driver's license. Well, she dug through her purse and was getting progressively more agitated. "What does it look like?" she finally asked. The policewoman replied, "It's square and it has your picture on it." The driver finally found a square mirror in her purse, looked at it and handed it to the policewoman. "Here it is," she said. The blonde officer looked at the mirror, then handed it back saying, "Okay, you can go. I didn't realize you were a cop."

Seeing red, or green, or purple, or ...

WASHINGTON Apr 4, 2005 — Of all the things that can make a person see red, school principal Gail Karwoski was not expecting parents to get huffy about, well, seeing red. At Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Conn., Karwoski's teachers grade papers by giving examples of better answers for those students who make mistakes. But that approach meant the kids often found their work covered in red, the color that teachers long have used to grade work.

Parents objected. Red writing, they said, was "stressful." The principal said teachers were just giving constructive advice and the color of ink used to convey that message should not matter. But some parents could not let it go.

So the school put red on the blacklist. Blue and other colors are in. (Full story)


You have to be kidding. Right? I mean, is this really important? Is it? Does it rank up there with world peace or John Ford's ethics? Or lack of them? When I taught, at first I only used red to grade papers. Sometimes it was a hassle hunting for a red pen. I didn't always have one close at hand. So I graded with whatever color pen I had handy. Sometimes in red, sometimes green, or sometimes purple. (Purple is my favorite color.) I've even used black. Never cared much for blue though. But I used whatever was handy. It didn't make a difference with my students.

Somehow wrong on several levels, I

Somehow you knew, you just knew that there would be some kind of totally off the wall sidebar to one of the many Martin Luther King Jr. memorial observerances. It had to happen. But, why did it have to happen in Memphis? Why always Memphis?

Jerry Ray stood across the street from the National Civil Rights Museum, beaded with sweat, trying to explain why someone would want to buy a videotape of the 1998 autopsy of his brother, James Earl Ray.

"You've got a lot of historical people, people into history who might want to see this sort of thing," Ray said.

And while he didn't have any buyers in mind, he guessed an eBay auction might fetch $400,000. Or more.
(Full Story)

April

Just in case anyone's interested:

APRIL IS:
National Fresh Florida Tomato Month
National Informed Woman Month
International Amateur Radio Month
International Customer Loyalty Month
International Daffynitions Month
International Legacy Month
International Twit Award Month
International Work Life Achievement Month
National Keep America Beautiful Month
National Listening Awareness Month
National Mathematics Education Month
National Celebrate Braintools Month
National Humor Month
National Knuckles Down Month
National Lawn & Garden Month
National Occupational Therapy Month
National Poetry Month
National Woodworking Month
National Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month
National School Library Media Month
National Month of the Young Child
National Boost Your Home Town Month
National Animal Cruelty Prevention
National Boomer Bonus Day
National Couple Appreciation Month
National Home Improvement Safety Month
National Legacy Month
National Young Child Month
National Autism Awareness Month
National Youth Sports Safety Month
National Prevent Injuries America Month
National School Library Media Month
National Straw Hat Month
National Womans Eye Health and Safety Month
National World Habitat Awareness Month
National Correct Posture Month
National Freedom Shrine Month
National Glaucoma Alert Month
National Red Cross Month
National Alcohol Awareness Month
National "Days of Remembrance" for Holocaust Victims Month National Cancer Control Month National Month of the Military Child National Youth Sports Safety Month National School Library Media Month National Sports Eye Safety Month National Stress Awareness Month National Zoo and Aquarium Month

Asteroid

Tonight, Keith Olbermann on Countdown in discussing the latest delay in Charles and Camilla's wedding, described said wedding as having been "hit by everything except an asteroid." Why the latest delay? Pope John Paul II's funeral.

An asteroid. I like that.

In shift, Charles and Camilla delay wedding

Ceremony moved to Saturday due to conflict with pope's funeral

MSNBC News Services
Updated: 1:23 p.m. ET April 4, 2005

LONDON - Prince Charles' office said Monday
that his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles will be moved to Saturday so that it
doesn't conflict with the funeral for Pope John Paul II. Charles will attend Friday's funeral in Rome, the prince's Clarence House office added. (Full story)

2005/04/04

Thirty-seven years ago

Nineteen sixty-eight

January
January 5 - Alexander Dubček elected as leader of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party - the "Prague Spring" begins in Czechoslovakia
January 15 - An earthquake in Sicily - 231 dead, 262 injured
January 21 - US B-52 bomber crashes in Greenland and in the process discharges four nuclear bombs
January 23 - North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo, claiming the ship violated its territorial waters while spying.
January 25 - The Israeli Submarine Dakar sinks in the Mediterranean Sea - 69 dead
January 27 - French submarine sinks in the Mediterranean with 52 men
January 30 - Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive begin when Viet Cong forces launch series of a surprise attacks in South Vietnam.
January 31 - Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon
January 31 - Nauru's president Hammer DeRoburt declares independence from Australia

February
February 1 - Vietnam War: A Viet Cong officer is executed by Nguyen Ngoc Loan a South Vietnamese National Police Chief. The execution was videotaped and photographed and helped sway public opinion against the war.
February 8 - Boeing 747 in its maiden flight
February 8 - American civil rights movement: A civil rights protest staged at a white-only bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina is broken-up by highway patrolmen leading to the deaths of three college students
February 11 - Israeli-Jordan border clashes.
February 11 - Madison Square Garden III closes, Madison Square Garden IV opens in New York.
February 13 - Civil rights disturbances at the University of Wisconsin and University of North Carolina
February 16 - In Haleyville, Alabama the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service
February 18 - British Standard Time introduced
February 24 - Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive is halted - South Vietnam recaptures Hué

March
March 7 - Vietnam War: The First Battle of Saigon begins.
March 12 - Mauritius achieves independence from British Rule
March 15 - George Brown, British Minister of Foreign affairs, resigns
March 16 - Vietnam War: My Lai massacre American troops kills scores of women and children
March 17 - A demonstration in London's Grosvenor Square against US involvement in the Vietnam War leads to violence - 91 police injured, 200 demonstrators arrested
March 18 - Gold standard: The U.S. Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back US currency
March 27 - Russian space pioneer Yuri Gagarin killed in a crash during a training flight.
March 31 - American President Lyndon Johnson announces he will not seek re-election.

April
April - Carl Brashear, the first African American United States Navy diver, becomes the first amputee certified to make diving missions, after a long battle which started with the accident which amputated his leg in 1966.
April 2 - Bombs placed by Andreas Baader and Gudrun Ensslin explode at midnight in two department stores in Frankfurt-am-Main - 3 dead. Culprits are later arrested and sentenced for arson
April 3 - Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "mountaintop" speech
April 4 - Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee.*

April, 1968. Thirty-seven years ago this month. I was a freshman at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). In my second semester. I wasn't as committed to my studies as I should have been. I mean, there was a war on and I should have been doing my damndest to "keep out of the draft", or, rather the lottery as it was called. Needless to say, my grades were less than stellar.

The country was preoccupied with Veitnam, and rightly so. Memphis also had the local sanitation workers strike. Sanitation workers and other public employees had been on strike since February. There had always been differences between how black workers and white workers were treated, but the fuse was when two black sanitations workers were crushed in the hopper of a garbage truck while sheltering from the rain. White sanitations workers had been allowed to wait out the storm in the office.

Demands, boycott, demonstrations, arrests --- strike. Then scabs. Talks breakdown. Arrests. Neither side budges.

National NAACP leader Roy Wilkins comes to Memphis. SCLC Leader Ralph David Abernathy comes to Memphis. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is invited to Memphis.

More talks. Boycott continues. More demonstrations. Sixteen year old Larry Payne is fatally shot. Many arrests. Martial law is declared. Seven P.M. curfew imposed. Four thousand Tennessee National Guardmen arrive to enforce the curfew and keep the peace.

Ever been in a city where martial law has been imposed? Consider the sight of military vehicles patrolling familiar streets and National Guardmen on street corners with fully loaded weapons. Not a pretty picture. Eerily disturbing; frightening. But this stage of the"occupation" only lasted through April second.

Then on April fourth, the assassination. Federal troops arrive. Martial law is reestablished. The Memphis occupation, Part II; more armed troops and military vehicles on the streets.

In the assassination's aftermath, an agreement is reached between the sanitation workers and the City of Memphis. The strike ends April sixteenth.

Not a proud period in Memphis history or a pretty one. It should be remembered.

*For the rest of 1968 click on Wikipedia.
For a related article click on Remembering a hero.
For a timetable of the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Worker's Strike Chronology click on Memphis: We Remember.

And, a fight broke out ...

Somehow, this sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Kanye West Escapes Brawl
byJosh Grossberg Apr 4, 2005, 1:30 PM PT

The College Dropout got out--just in the nick of time.

Rap superstar
Kanye West had to cut short a promotional appearance at the grand opening of a new urban boutique in Fresno, California, on Saturday, after a fight broke out.

According to published reports, the Grammy winner was 40 minutes into an autograph-signing session at an FTK store for about 1,000 fans waiting patiently in the parking lot, when an unruly attendee got into a brawl with a security guard.


Not taking any chances, store owners abruptly scrapped the event, while
West's security team ushered the Grammy winner out the back door and into a
waiting van. With the aid of a chopper hovering above to monitor the situation,
authorities took nearly half an hour to quell the disturbance and clear everyone
away from the scene.


"Once security couldn't control it, we had to shut it down," store employee Aron Hekimian told the Associated Press.

It's unknown what sparked the fracas or whether the unidentified troublemaker will face charges. A rep for West declined to comment. But fans of the hip-hopster weren't exactly happy to have someone rain on their parade.

"Everybody's chance to meet Kanye West was ruined," said 19-year-old Anna Reyna, who was one of those unlucky enough to be standing outside when the fracas erupted.


The store's co-owner, however, noted that the incident did not interfere with the producer-rapper's appearance later that day at a nearby club.


West, who previously produced records for the likes of
Janet Jackson, Ludacris, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z and Britney Spears, hit the big time last year with the release of his multiplatinum-smash debut, The College Dropout.

The Chicago native took home three
Grammy Awards in February, including Best Rap Album. He also earned props at last fall's Source Awards, walking away with Best Breakthrough Artist and Best Video for his hit "Through the Wire."

I have a problem with this

NASHVILLE -- A bill making its way through the legislature would protect state pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control pills or any medicines they feel violate their moral principles.

"Only Communist China forces people to do things against their conscience," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove.

The Pharmacists Freedom of Conscience Act would free from liability or disciplinary measures any pharmacist who cites moral or religious objections to
dispensing anything from hay fever tablets to Viagra.


The above quote is from an article that appeared in today's Commercial Appeal. For the full story click on Bill would be a balm to pharmacist consciences.

Pharmacists, like all other health care professionals are required to take an oath. Will pharmacists actually be able to refuse lawful service if they have "moral or religious objections"? Doesn't this negate the rights of their patients? Doesn't a refusal violate the Pharmacist's Oath? It seems that way to me.



Pharmacist's Oath
At this time, I vow to devote my professional life
to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmancy.
I will consider the welfare of humanity
and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.
I will apply my knowledge, experience and skills to the best of my ability
to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve.
I will keep abreast of developments and maintain
professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.
I will maintain the highest principles
or moral, ethical and legal conduct.
I will embrace and advocate change in the
profession of pharmacy that improves patient care.
I take these vows voluntarily with full realization of the
responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.

2005/04/02

Our house ...

Yesterday (April 1st) was more than just April Fools' Day. Much more. April 1st, twenty-one years ago, my significant other (now my wife) and I moved into this house. We'd both lived in a series of apartments and other rental property, but this was the first place that either of us had lived in as adults that we were going to eventually own. The impressive brick and stone exterior, the basement, those beautiful hardwood floors, the ten foot ceilings, a multitude of windows, gorgeous molding, the giant pin oak in the front yard, and the pecan tree in the backyard was ours. All ours.

Like any house though, this one wasn't perfect. The living and dining rooms were the most depressing shade of green either of us had ever seen. The stone fireplace had for some reason been painted with white enamel. There was hideous black and white tile in the kitchen and equally hideous pink and black tile in the bath. The garage was falling in. The electrical system was in lousy shape, while the plumbing (both kitchen and bath) was quickly circling the drain. (No pun intended.) And, let's not forget the late 1940's era appliances, especially the one we laughingly referred to as the fridge.

That fridge. From the beginning it was a problem. First, it was extremely small. Secondly, either the freezer didn't adequately keep food frozen, or the whole thing became a large chunk of caked ice. Thirdly, and most importantly, the latch on the door didn't always work. On our first night in the house we had some friends over and I couldn't get the fridge door open. For some reason, the only one who could open the fridge, as it was supposed to open was Cowboy. Since he wasn't going to be a part of the household, I had to find somehing to use to pry the fridge door open. The only thing I could find was my machete'. It worked like a charm --- for awhile.

We'd been in the house about two months when the machete' trick stopped working. I arrived home from work one afternoon and dinner wasn't ready. Not that I ever demanded that it be ready when I arrived. You didn't demand with my S.O. It was just that she'd made a habit of having dinner ready. This was strange. She informed me that she couldn't get the f*#kin' fridge door open. So, I tried. No luck. That door wouldn't budge. Right then and there we decided to go fridge shoping on Saturday. In the meantime, I'd remove the hinges and then lift the door off. S.O. would get out whatever she wanted to prepare for dinner. I'd lift the door back into place and then prop it shut with a two-by-four. That would do until the weekend. It seemed like a good idea at the time. (Famous last words.) Anyway, I removed the hinges, lifted the door off, S.O. collected the food, I lifted the door back into place, and then, dropped it. That wasn't in the plan. My pain was so great that I thought my foot was broken. But did I go to the doctor? We went fridge shoping on Saturday.

Our house came with one feature that most house don't come with. Our house came with a dog. (Or, did the dog come with a house?) Whatever. The previous owner was an older gentleman who'd lived in the house with his (only slightly) younger sister. They both had dogs. His was a Spitz named Judy. The sister's dog was a house slipper. They're called "eagle bait" in Alaska and Canada. I don't remember it's name.

At first, Judy was a problem. When her owner died, the sister (and her dog) moved to an apartment. Judy was left alone. The only human contact she received after the sister left was from whoever would show up to feed and water her. That was it. She wasn't played with, talked to, or petted. Dogs need this kind of attention. If they don't receive it they often turn resentful and wary. Sometimes even hostile. That's what happened to Judy.

Once we'd moved in, Judy would have nothing to do with us. Whenever we'd go to the backyard she'd stand off, barking and snarling at us. We seriously considered giving her away. And would have if not for our daughter, Heather. Heather sat on the back steps for weeks with treats. Heather did this for weeks before we noticed that Judy's personality was changing. She still wouldn't come near us, but the barking and snarling had stopped. I guess Judy had finally realized that we were going to be a part of her territory. Several more weeks and Judy was taking treats from all of us. Judy became an important member of the family. (More about Judy in another post.)

Speaking of family, the S.O. and I weren't the only new members of the household. There was also the kids; Heather and Philip. When we moved in Heather was seventeen and Philip was fourteen. They were raised in this house. (More of them later.)

All this was just to make the point that we love our house. There are a lot of good memories here.