Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Your Prescription's Ready

Snowball is one tiny ferret. If she ducks her head down, she fits entirely in the bag.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In this corner...!

In this corner, we have Loki, weighing in at 3.4 lbs! And in this corner, Chaos and Snowball, weighing in together at 4.1 lbs!

(If anyone is interested, they are eating a blend of chicken baby-food, ground ferret-food, and water. Loki doesn't need it, but Chaos will only eat wet food, and Snowball needs to gain some weight, since she only weighs 1.4 lbs.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Supply and Demand and Hemp and Poppy and Coca

I was just thinking that it seems very strange that a country that is ostentatiously so into supply and demand would try to handle marijuana, opium and cocaine by restricting supply.

Doesn't basic economics tell us that restricted supply leads to higher demand? Take the example of Prohibition (of alcohol), for example.

I would suggest that it would be best to leave commerical hemp production for such things as fibres and oil, and poppy for poppy seeds for muffins and stuff, and coca for tea, etc., alone.

Isn't the way to best deal with the problem to leave supply alone and to work on the demand side of things?

We should put those War on Drugs resources into addressing the causes of drug abuse. We need to have better education and better community building initiatives. Trying to restrict the production of the raw materials is akin to a game of whack-a-mole, but providing for healthy communities made up of healthy individuals is a long-term solution that will cut down on crime and other social ills.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Calculating your Gasoline Costs (calculate for gasoline sold by the gallon)

If you would like to figure out how much you are spending each time you drive somewhere, you can get a fairly accurate calculation by first determining the actual mileage that you get on your vehicle and then calculating how far places are and how much gas is used. For those who've forgotten how this works, I'm going to provide a step-by-step guide:

1) Calculate your mileage.

You can either use the published mileage for your car, or to be more accurate, calculate your actual mileage.

1a) The next time that you fill your tank, fill it until the pump auto-stop clicks.

1b) Before driving away, zero out your trip odometer.

1c) The following time that you fill your tank, fill it until the pump auto-stop clicks.

1d) Divide the number of miles on your trip odometer by the number of gallons that you pump. This number will be your miles per gallon (mpg). For example, 229.9 miles divided by 9.234 gallons equals 24.9 miles per gallon.

229.9 mi / 9.234 gal = 24.9 mpg.

2) Determine how far you drive.

One way to do this is to use a website like Ask the site to give you directions from your home to a destination. For example, it might be 5.2 miles from your house to the mall, but remember to double it for the round trip, which would be 10.4 miles.

3) Determine how many gallons your trip takes.

You might want to try, a site that lists gas prices for many cities. Alternately, you can just check with the price at your local gas station. In our example, you might find that gas costs as little as $3.97 per gallon and as much as $4.13 per gallon, depending on where you buy it.

4) Calculate the number of gallons used on your trip.

Take your distance of travel and divide it by your mileage. In our example, it's 10.4 miles divided by 24.9 miles per gallon equals .418 gallons for your round trip to and from the mall.

10.4 mi / 24.9 mpg = .418 gal

5) Calculate the cost in gasoline of your trip.

Multiply the number of gallons used by the price of gas. In this example, the lowest this trip could cost would be .418 gallons multiplied by $3.97 equaling $1.66 for your round trip. The highest price would be .418 gallons multiplied by $4.13 equaling $1.72 for your round trip.

.418 gal * $3.97 = $1.66 per roundtrip
.418 gal * $4.13 = $1.72 per roundtrip

6) Cry

Now would be a good time to figure out how to minimize your driving.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Movie Theater Etiquette

This post is a poll on movie theater etiquette. Please respond in the comments section:

After watching a movie, which of the following is appropriate? Feel free to provide justification.

a) Be sure to remove any and all trash that you brought in, including beverage containers.

b) Leave the soda cup in the cup holder of the seat. You just paid $10 for a ticket. The theater employs a clean-up crew.

c) Dump the leftover popcorn on the floor. The movie sucked anyway.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Support refugees

Help the many displaced people both in and out of Iraq. My Iraqi friend worked for this organization for a while.

Just to give you an idea of how bad it is, many of those who were able to feel to Syria, for example, have run out of money, because the Syrian government isn't providing work visas. There was recently a piece on public radio about Iraqi prepubescent girls and young women working as strippers and prostitutes in Syria to support their families. Not only is prostitution problematic in and of itself, but keep in mind that these girls are from a society that condones honor killings, so had they been raped back home, it's quite possible that someone in their family would have killed them. These girls will be ruined in the eyes of others. It would be better to help these families financially than to force these girls into the sex trade.

Many, like my Iraqi friend, weren't even able to flee Iraq because other countries (including the United States) closed their borders to Iraqi refugees. The week before he was able to leave for Syria, Syria too closed its borders to new refugees. The Iraqis need help to make the situation more tolerable.

All you have to do is sign, and a dollar will be donated by one of the IRC supporters. I signed, and you can too!

Because of the war, 60,000 Iraqis are fleeing from the violence each month, mostly to neighboring Jordan and Syria.

Women, men, and their young children - fearing deportation - are living in hiding. They desperately need food, medicine, education, jobs and a safe place to live.

The IRC is on the ground providing lifesaving relief. And today, we can help.

For each person who signs the IRC Iraq Humanitarian Pledge, one of their supporters will donate $1 to provide additional lifesaving services to vulnerable Iraqi families caught in the crossfire of violence.

That means additional food, mattresses, clothing, and medical and housing assistance.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Further thoughts on the topic of illegal immigrants

Before the Civil War, it was legal to own slaves. But hey, a slave could buy his freedom.

Before Martin Luther King Jr., it was legal to discriminate on the basis of skin color. But hey, all Blacks had to do was move north or 'back to Africa'.

Before suffrage, it was legal to discriminate against women on the basis of gender. But hey, women could just encourage their husbands to vote the way that they would like.

It is currently legal to discriminate against an individual based on his or her place of birth. But hey, immigrants might be able to come legally if they jump through the right hoops and are willing to wait indefinitely for permission - otherwise, they can just stay in their impoverished home communities.

None of the situations listed above are just.


It also really bothers me when we deport people who were brought to the United States as children, have grown up loving America, often not even knowing that they are considered illegal aliens, have become educated here, and have committed no crime other than staying in the country that has raised them.

There is currently a case pending for Tope Awe, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. Below is brief summary from here:

Tope Awe, a third-year graduate student in the UW School of Pharmacy,was arrested last week and risks deportation to Nigeria.

What crime did she commit? She stayed in the United States with her family since she was three and grew up American.


Tope Awe is as American as any American citizen kid born and brought up here. She is a student leader and an avid contributor to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Whether being the co-chair of the African Student Association 2006-2007 school year, the co-president Multicultural Affairs Program in Pharmacy 2006-2007, or working for the Diversity Program in University Housing as the Multicultural Liaison she has been avid and insightful resource on this campus.

Even if you believe that Tope should be sent to Nigeria--a country that she does not know and does not consider her home--she should not be in jail or detention because she has commited no crime. Tope should be allowed to at least finish her education.

Edit - This blog post has been updated to add that Tope is no longer in detention. The battle is not over because this is just a temporary resolution. However, this demonstrates that gathering petitions and protesting ICE detentions of students does make a difference when it comes to some immigration judges so to all those that are fighting deportation, keep up the fight and let us know how to assist in your cause.


I came across this post over at Yahoo!:

About illegal immigrants and US army?

I have a friend and his shy to do this so im doing it for him. His 18 almost 19 the first time he came to US was in 1997 he was 8 i guess and he came back and forth a couple of times but he came as a visitor with a passport and a visa and he stayed here longer than he could now its his 3rd time here and his been here more than 5 years and he also finished middle school here and its finishing high school this year, he wanted to be legalized but he doesn't know if he can and also he wanted to join US army but he doesn't know if he can either.. His family own a house here and all his family work on US.

Ps: if anybody have any idea that can help we`ll be thankful

Best Answer - Chosen by Voters

He's going to have to get some sort of visa before the Army will take him. I'm not a professional on immigration, but I would assume that a workers visa would be the easiest to get. A recruiter might even be able to help him with paperwork and filing. That doesn't mean the recruiter will do it for him, or that he'll be able to pull strings and get it faster. It just means that he'll point your friend in the right direction.

Once he gets a Visa, then he can enlist and work towards full citizenship. Once in the military, immigrants can work towards full citizenship faster than civilians.

And other commenters need to chill. Just because he's an illegal immigrant doesn't mean he's a criminal. The poor kid is trying to prove to us that he wants to be here, and wants to be an American, by joining our military and risking his life in our war. He's wants to do what many of our peers and children are too cowardly to do. I say, let him enlist.

Fortunately, this response is fairly well balanced, but some of the other comments on the post are as follows:

First he is not shy...he is afraid of ICE !!!!

First talk to a recruiter...
Then he will have to return to his own Country
before he can obtain a GREEN CARD..
(Probably a Provisional 2 year Card)
After Serving 2 Years in the Armed Services
he is eligible to apply for Automatic US Citizenship...

At this point in are aidding and abetting
a Crime !!!!

* 2 months ago

Retired Marine !!!!

And another:

he cant join the military without a green card, tell your friend that he is taking jobs from legal/citizens by willing to join the army.

And another:

Yes. Send his illegal @$$ back and have him come here legally.

You are aiding and abetting a criminal, and should go to jail.

By the way, this is EXACTLY how my in-laws feel. They came here legally 40 years ago and are now citizens.

I think that people who feel that illegal immigrants are criminals should take a moment to remember the last time that they bought something online without reporting the sales tax owed on their tax forms, jay-walked, exceeded the legal speed limit or blood-alcohol level while driving, tossed a cigarette out the window, threw away a battery in the normal trash or otherwise broke the law. How hypocritical! Illegal immigrants are illegal for arbitrary reasons that have nothing to do with any sort of violence or danger to society. (And don't tell me that illegal immigrants are violent offenders! Sure, some of them are, but so are many natural born Americans.)

Humans are humans and it is wrong to discriminate against them, just because they happen to have been born on the wrong side of an arbitrary line!

On illegal immigrants and social security

I recently got this in an email forwarded to me by my parents, forwarded to them from my uncle:

>> Subject: Social Security Changes--- Important ! ! ! ! ! !
>> It does not matter if you personally like or dislike Bush. You need to
>> sign this petition and flood his e-mail box with e-mails that tell him
>> that, even if the House passes this bill, he needs to veto it. It is
>> already impossible to live on Social Security alone. If the government
>> gives benefits to 'illegal' aliens who have never contributed, where does
>> that leave those of us who have paid into Social Security all our working
>> lives?
>> As stated below, the Senate voted this week to allow 'illegal' aliens
>> access to Social Security benefits.
>> Attached is an opportunity to sign a petition that requires citizenship
>> for eligibility to that social service.
>> Instructions are below. If you don't forward the petition and just stop
>> it, we will lose all these names.
>> If you do not want to sign it, please just forward it to everyone you
>> know.
>> Thank you!
>> To add your name, click on 'forward'. Address it to all of your email
>> correspondents, add your name to the list and send it on.
>> When the petition hits 1,000, send it to
>> PETITION for President Bush:
>> Dear Mr President:
>> We, the undersigned, protest the bill that the Senate voted on recently
>> which would allow illegal aliens to access our Social Security. We
>> demand that you and all Congressional representatives require citizenship
>> as a pre-requisite for social services in the United States .
>> We further demand that there not be any amnesty given to illegals, NO
>> free services, no funding, no payments to and for illegal immigrants.
>> We are fed up with the lack of action about this matter and are tired of
>> paying for services to illegals.

[944 signatures]

This sort of attitude bugs me.

Actually, many illegal aliens are paying into the system every day. If they work at Burger King, for example, they have either a legit Tax ID number or an illegally acquired social security number. Either way, money is taken out of every paycheck for social security. Many of these same illegal immigrants don't realize how many services are in fact available to them or are afraid of being turned into the ICE, so they often don't take advantage of social services.

These same illegal immigrants are also paying into the economy. Regardless of how they acquire their money, they are purchasing groceries, clothing and other goods just like everyone else. They pay the same sales tax as everyone else.

So, whether you like the idea of illegal immigrants or not, it's important to realize that they, as a group, are not just leeches on our society (though there are certainly those who abuse the system, just like there are many natural born Americans who do so).

And frankly, they are human beings too. It's not their fault that they were born on the wrong side of the border. Also they aren't coming with guns to systematically murder the current inhabitants as most Americans' ancestors did! I think I prefer the current pattern of immigration to that of the Europeans of the first century and a half of this country!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Les Misérables

I just finished watching Les Misérables (1998) on DVD. It was pretty good, though I wasn't overly impressed until it got to the part of the story in Paris.

I found it noteworthy that being that this movie is set in France, while it did not have Gérard Depardieu, it did have a similar looking actor Liam Neeson. Had the movie been done in French, it's almost certain that Depardieu would have had the part!

Oh...what a surprise! Further websearch finds a 5 part miniseries (2000) indeed staring Gérard Depardieu!

100 Calorie Packs...not so good...

Rating: chewy cardboard

If I eat cheesecake, I want something sweet and creamy. This ain't it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Iraq update

In case anyone is wondering, from the perspective of my Iraqi friend in Najaf, things have gotten better.

Karen: do you feel safer this year than you have in the past?
Jassim: yes
Karen: why is that? What has changed?
Jassim: since Americans made arrangement with Sunnies powers
Jassim: things changed

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I've decided to just note the three most recent books I've read.

1) A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving.

This is a very amusing book. It took a bit to get into, but was incredibly satisfying by the end. I also really enjoyed the political commentary interjected about the Vietnam War and the Reagan administration. Despite having been first published in 1989, the commentary on foreign affairs is eerily similar to what many are saying about the escapades of the Bush administration today.

2) War Journal: My Five Years in Iraq by Richard Engel.

This is a chronicle of an NBC reporter's experiences throughout the Iraq conflict. He is uniquely situated, since he lived in Cairo and learned Arabic and the culture of the Middle East before the war began. He arrived in Iraq before hostilities began and has been there more than anywhere else ever since. He is able to share both personal experience and make larger observations on the political / social situation of the country. His observations seem to be in line with what my Iraqi friend has told me over the last few years. I highly recommend this book as a primer into the war(s) in Iraq.

3) War for the Oaks by Emma Bull.

This is a whimsical fantasy novel set in Minneapolis. Looking back in my blog, I see that I read it back in December of 2006, so this is probably my 3rd reading of it. Although it starts out slow, the characters draw the reader in by the end of the novel, making the reader grieve for their losses and rejoice in their victories.