Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Happy Thought From My Youngest ...

My back is sore today, from overdoing in a workout again.  You'd think I'd learn to ease up a bit when I'm stressed, instead of pounding myself into the ground ... but old habits die hard, I guess?  Anyway, we went out for a nice family dinner this evening and when we came home, I went to sit by the fireplace with the heating pad on my back.  My youngest came up to me and said, "Where does it hurt, Mommy?  I'll massage your back for you."  She is so sweet.

I showed my youngest daughter the spot that hurt in my middle back.  Then she began massaging my back tenderly with her tiny, but strong, little fingers.  A few minutes later after some giggles and converstation, she announces for all to hear ... "I sure do bless the Lord with my awesomeness!"  Out of the mouths of babes ... I couldn't have said it better myself.  Perhaps her angel whispered the same into her ear for her to hear and she just decided to share?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Go University of Oregon DUCKS!!

I need to write about something happy today. Thanksgiving was fun this year, from a snow point-of-view.  So even though we were away from  our family and friends, in Texas, we had our own little family of sorts along with lots of snow to help us celebrate this year.  According to locals who have lived here, in the Seattle area, all of their lives: "We've never had a White Thanksgiving!"  The kids had a blast with getting to miss two whole scheduled days of school due to the snow.  And of course, they thoroughly enjoyed going sledding for hours on end each day, including Thanksgiving Day!

The kids' "Monster Snowball" .... Thankfully, this thing was flung at me ; )

Fortunately, we had most of the supplies needed in order to throw together our Thanksgiving dinner, and what we didn't have: we just did without. So it was a simple Thanksgiving celebration; sometimes returning to basics helps to refocus your appreciation for all that you are truly grateful to have. And while extended family was greatly missed:  we made the most of the day, on our own, the best way we knew how to do.  I think, just maybe, getting back to the simpler things in life is something we as Americans, as a nation, should all be focused on this Thanksgiving most especially, given the state of our current economy.  Just a thought: take it for what you will.

Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without the college football games and holiday parades. Unfortunately, neither Ken's team (the Florida Gators) nor mine (University of Texas Longhorns) are having a very good year this year.  I guess our teams' poor performances are to be expected due to the influx of a large new freshman class of players who have seen very little game time this season.  A good friend of mine, however, happens to be a graduate of the University of Oregon.  Her team, The Ducks, are having an amazing year!  The Ducks are presently in first place and headed onto the National Championship last time I checked.  So I'd be willing to bet she --my high school friend, Kathy-- is pretty happy right now.  Bet she's cheering for her Ducks as we speak.  Go DUCKS! We'll be rooting for ya'll. : )

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Another Thanksgiving Day ....

Cajun injected turkey, instant mashed potatoes, my amended veggie stuffing, whole cranberries out of a can and a frozen pumpkin pie ... Oh my?!  I did make homemade gravy and Ken made a loaf of homemade bread ...  

Drawing by my youngest from last year ... Kids were too busy sledding this year to spend time
coloring turkies, Indians and the like ...

Another Turkey day come and gone ... No mushy "Thankfulness" this year ...
A prayer for our military service persons overseas away from their own loved ones this Thanksgiving 2010.  And a champagne toast to the Pilgrims and Indians who had the right idea that original celebratory feast day so long ago.  With a nod to Hope that our spiraling out of control country will find its way back to the ideals of this long ago feast that we Americans religiously (mindlessly?) celebrate annually on Thanksgiving Day. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

National Opt out Day for Airline Travelers

I can't wait to see how the National Opt out Day for passengers traveling via commercial airlines in the U.S. works out.  I feel for those trying to get to their loved ones in time to celebrate Thanksgiving, but in truth Thanksgiving is just a day ... and so much more is at stake with our essential liberties on the line.

I will be praying for those brave enough to make a stand.  More power to you and God Bless!!

Maybe we still are the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE?

Well according to a friend of mine who travelled from Chicago, Illinois International Airport, the TSA agents were only randomly picking people for the pat-down.  My friend said, someone was in the body scanner with a line waiting for scans.  Someone else was being patted down, in front of her.  Then, the TSA agent waved her and 3 other women through ... meaning that they did not have to undergo either the body scan or the full body pat-down.  Seems the TSA is set to avoid any complications or system slow downs on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Maybe we're now the land of hypocrites?

P.S.  The icing on my cake this holiday season?  My twelve year old asks me why we, as Americans, celebrate Thanksgiving when America later stole the Indians lands, food sources, and way of life ... driving the "lucky ones?" to a miserable life on tiny government reservations?  Yeah ... Happy Thanksgiving ... I'll think on it for awhile, maybe I can find an upside ... We do have Native American Indian blood in our family a few generations back.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What about trains, buses, ferries and cruise ships?

I have to ask myself lately:  Why is Department of Homeland Security focusing solely on passenger airliners? 

[Photo is currently being edited]
Photo By Me:  Grapevine Vintage Railroad
(@Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved, Michelle C. of whatplanetareyoulivingon.blogspot.com)

What about trains, buses, ferries, cruise ships ... concerts, professional sporting events, political rallies?  Why not be proactive in prevention ... instead of waiting for a tragedy to occur before implementing security protocols?  Hmmm ... maybe because, you can't drive a train, ferry or cruise ship into the White House?  Guess, you could try a bus, but you probably wouldn't get very far.

Then again, do I really want to have to undergo a body scan or a "full body pat-down" in order to go to the movies or the mall?  Maybe not ... but surely there is some happy medium.  The bottom line is that I'm not going to live my life in fear of some terrorist attack.  When it's my time to go, I will go and I will have no regrets ... I guess, there is a fine line between being safe and being free.

What a world we live in?  So what can we, as ordinary citizens, do about it?  My twelve year old is already planning her political career ... She's starting with a run for student body president of her middle school next year, but she has high hopes and aspirations ... I've no doubt she'd get into government, take names and make some heads roll.  Ah, the energy and idealism of youth ... Too bad we have to grow up?

Friday, November 19, 2010

New TSA Invasive Security Procedures: Is this still the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE??

People today are worried about their "information" falling into the wrong hands. Specifically: name, age, date of birth, credit card numbers and the sacred social security number. You'd never share your most private health information with your casual acquaintances, employers, even extended family in some cases. And fingerprints ... those are sacred too, are they not? Yet the federal government now wants to you to submit to a full detailed body scan ... a print of your entire body. And some people are willing to submit to this scan? It just boggles my mind?! Truly?! Many people say that they are willing to submit to these scans because they don't want to undergo the alternative: the invasive "full body pat-down" which has aptly been described as "sexual assault under any other guise than government."  While the detailed body scan images --which are essentially an image of you without clothing ...nude-- have been referred to as pornographic?

I say that the government has no right to ask for either a body scan or a "full body pat-down" as condition of my flying unless they have reasonable and justifiable grounds that I specifically pose a threat to the safety of the passenger airliner that I am about to board. In this country, what used to be the land of the FREE and the home of the brave, one is assumed innocent until proven guilty. It is totally absurd to me that we would allow the presumption that ALL potential airline passengers are guilty as a rationale for subjecting citizens who choose to fly via passenger airlines to these new TSA security procedures ... especially when these new procedures fail to make any significant improvements to overall airline safety.  There are still too many shortfalls in the TSA security protocols, chief among these shortfalls being that the body scanners and "full body pat-downs" fail to detect liquid and plastic explosives.

I also find it absurd: 1) that people are willing to trust that the dose of radiation given by these machines is "safe" for repeat flyers or those already on the high side of "safe" (due to pre-existing medical or other work related exposure) on a cumulative basis; 2) that people trust that this body print image will not be stored and used for some ulterior purpose (e.g., body parts and healthy organs inventory (conspiracy theory), health fingerprint database for the government). I wonder how this "body scan" image compares to the "Life scan" body images being pushed by the health industry as a snapshot of your current health status, able to detect tumors, cancer, and heart disease among other things ? Is it all relevant that we see these new body scan machines roll out just after the passing of "Obama Care" ... Healthcare Reform law?  Especially in light of the fact that there have been no new incidents here in the U.S. and no specific security intelligence on new credible threats?

If this still is the land of the FREE and the home of the BRAVE, then let us unite and fight this latest infringement of government upon our essential liberties. Let us call them on it ... Let us refuse to submit to these gross violations of our persons and DEMAND that the government instead take steps to ensure our REAL safety when choosing to fly on U.S. passenger airlines. Namely: 1) that cargo be more thoroughly and intensely screened for explosives; 2) that trained canines be used to scan cargo, passengers and carryon luggage in an effort to detect liquid and plastic explosives which the new body scans and "full body pat-downs" cannot do; 3) that profiling by expertly trained personnel* be employed to identify persons of interest who do warrant a more thorough interview and screening process before being allowed aboarad a passenger airliner; *4) that the money being spent on these ridiculous body scanning machines be spent instead on hiring and properly training expert security personnel (i.e., former military or security personnel) to implement the latter security provisions, with their main focus being the ability to properly identity potential threats to safety, thereby focusing resources where they are most needed ... instead of straining the current system of TSA's poorly trained, poorly paid, and under-qualified staff to its very limits with the currently required screening and violating every man, woman, and child over the age of twelve.

I am sending these thoughts of mine, written here, to every elected official that I can think of. I have also made the decision NOT TO FLY ...period, without exception, until our essential liberties (not to mention basic dignity) when choosing to fly at U.S. airports has been resotred.

These days, I find myself wondering, not what planet am I living on, but rather what the **** country am I now living in??!!??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New TSA Invasive "Body Scan" and "Body Pat Down" Procedures Are Just Smoke and Mirrors ...

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~Benjamin Franklin

I, personally, think that the new that the new TSA Security Screening Requirements are first, and foremost, a gross violation of our very persons not to mention our essential liberties, and  further, that these new "security procedures" are unecessary and overall ineffective measures towards the end of preventing another terrorist incident on board a U.S. passegner airliner.

Bottom line, if nothing else, ask yourself this: Why are these invasive procedures being implemented at the beginning of the busiest travel season of the year in the United States?

If "we, the people" revolt against these new procedures, when another incident happens on one or more of our passenger airliners ... if the "people's revolt", and legal challenges are successful, then the government essentially has a "Get Out Jail FREE" card. Do they not?

So do we sit back and just take the government's implementation of these new and invasive security procedures? I say "NO"!! ... Why?

Because these new procedures not only MISS THE TARGET (by a long shot!!), they are overall largely ineffective. These new "body scan" machines WILL NOT detect liquid nor plastic explosives, but trained dogs ... canines ... could. A TSA "body pat down" will not detect liquid or plastic explosives concealed in body cavities, but a trained dog potentially could.

Further, use of profiling would identify persons of interest that warrant a more thorough interrogation before being allowed onto passenger airplanes. Ironically, our Homeland Security Department will not deny that special treatment may be allowed for certain groups of people when applying these new security measures (e.g., Muslim women wearing burkas), but we won't use similar rationale for implementing profiling (a proven, highly effective security measure for Israeli Airport Security) ?

We, the American people, should DEMAND that our government not just do SOMETHING, but that our government should do what it takes to effectively implement proven security measures ( ... I plan to elaborate upon specific security measures that should be implemented in my post tomorrow...) that would prevent another tragic incident from happening on board a U.S. passenger airliner. This current across the board violation of all passengers choosing to travel via U.S. passenger airlines is sadly just smoke and mirrors.

And of course another cynical friend of mine harkens back to his ongoing divining rod for all that is wrong in the world today: "Follow the money!" ... And in this case, his theory proves true. Do the investigating for yourself: "Rapid ...Scan" the company manufacturing these "body scan" machines, parent company: "OSI Systems, Inc." ... Who recommended them? Was there a conflict of interest? Who made money off of the sale of these machines? ... Anybody working on behalf of our government? Hmmmmm ....

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Dream of Autumn ...

I love this time of year!  Autumn is my favorite season, by far I think.  I've been out trying to capture some of its inate beauty this past week ... This is my favorite capture so far.  Enjoy!  Hope Mother Nature is putting on a fabulous display for you and yours.  Peace & Love!

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"Autumn Dream"

@Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved ... Michelle C. of whatplanetareyoulivingon.blogspot.com

Monday, November 01, 2010

I feel inspired once again ...

 After all the work in recent weeks leading up to our big Halloween Bash, last night ...I decided to take some time out just for me. I took a walk in a nearby neighborhood and discovered a bounty of color, textures, and sounds as a crisp fall breeze danced joyfully through the rustling leaves ... I feel inspired once again : )

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"Autumn Breeze at Twilight"

@2010 Copyright, All Rights Reserved ... Michelle C. of whatplanetareyoulivingon.blogspot.com