Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ted Cruz Crazy

So, I've made a point of ignoring the current presidential race here in my blog not only because of the lying, dishonesty, and ridiculous rhetoric but because I cringe every time I hear someone try to justify such dishonorable behavior.  The candidates do enough fake apologizing and excuse making; I truly don't need to hear that someone not only believes it but also spouts it back.

However, yesterday Ted Cruz did something that needs a statement.  Cruz and his campaign have presented the field with a myriad of underhanded tricks, acting surprised when people complain.  Or as Cruz said, "When you win campaigns, the people that lose tend to be unhappy about it."

I've heard people try to justify the actions, claiming that Cruz didn't personally approve of the behavior and really, we can't expect him to know everything about his campaign, right?

Wrong.  Dead wrong.  Cruz is trying to become the President of the United States.  If he can't keep track of what his campaign is doing, how is he supposed to run our entire country???

And Cruz knows exactly what's going on, because he hired a man known for dirty tricks, "stretching" the truth (as if it's rubber), and scorched earth - Jeff Roe.  You can read all about it in this New York Times article, but I'll sum it up for you.  Cruz hired someone who he knew uses underhanded tactics because winning for him is more important than how he wins.

What needs the statement, though, is Cruz is sacrificing one of his people to attempt to distance himself from the fallout of his own campaign's actions.  By firing one of his senior communications managers, Cruz can say that he's taking control of the situation, even though he knew what was happening.

Just when I thought the man couldn't sink lower in my opinion, he proves me wrong.

Awesome Snow Sculptures

Monday, February 22, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington!

Today is the anniversary of George Washington's birth on February 22, 1732.  Most of the United States celebrates this birthday on the third Monday of February during the holiday known as President's Day.   But have you ever wondered how this holiday came to be?

In A Small Tangent...

The British Empire used the Julian calendar until 1752 when it switched to the Gregorian calendar.  Created in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar, this calendar contains the same basic structure as the Gregorian calendar with two major differences:

  1. The new year begins on March 1st instead of January 1st.
  2. It has a simple but inaccurate system for dealing with the extra bit of time accumulated each year.
The result is that George Washington was born on February 11, 1731 in the Julian calendar.  But February went from the last month of the year to the second month of the next year, George's birth year changed from 1731 to 1732, while the day changed from the 11th to the 22nd.

Back to 1800...

George Washington died on December 14, 1799.  The next February the entire nation mourned his loss, as most of the people saw Washington as the most important figure in the nation's history.  From there, it became an informal tradition to celebrate Washington's birthday until 1879 when an Act of Congress made February 22nd an official holiday for all federal offices in Washington D.C.  In 1886 Congress extended the holiday to all federal offices in the country.  Then on January 1, 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act went into effect, creating President's Day on the third Monday of February in an attempt to honor all presidents.

This holiday is based on George Washington's birthday but ironically will never fall on Washington's birthday.  You see, the latest day that President's Day can fall on is February 21st.


I understand that people want to celebrate more than George Washington's birthday; people want to celebrate Abraham Lincoln and other presidents, too.  And I don't have a problem, per se, with the holiday not falling on any particular president's birthday.   I even understand having the holiday fall on a specific Monday instead of a date.

But to base a holiday on Washington's birthday and then insure that it never falls on that day?


Anyway, Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington.

How to Carpool...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Freaky Friday News: February 19, 2016

Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia Died This Week

Antonin Scalia Official SCOTUS PortraitAssociate Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court died during the night between February 12 and 13th.  A conservative member of the Court known for his support of presidential powers and a more literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, Scalia's death leaves a hole in the Supreme Court at a time when several key issues are up for debate.

While my personal belief system did not line up with Justice Scalia's, I still respected the man for his work and his opinion.  I've read several tribute to Scalia this week, but the one presented by Stephen Colbert actually sums up  my feelings on the matter rather nicely.

Goodbye, Antonin Scalia.  The world misses you.

A 5-Year-Old Saves Her Blind Grandmother from a House Fire

This past Wednesday morning, Chloe Woods and her grandmother, 76 year-old Claudia Arceneaux,
Chloe Woods, age 5
were asleep while Chloe's mother dropped off her siblings at school.  The smoke alarm went off, waking Chloe up to a house full of smoke.  Remembering her preschool's class trip to a fire station, Chloe knew to get out of the house.

She also knew that her blind grandmother needed help.

So Chloe woke her grandmother up and lead her out of the burning house with the family dog, Coco, following along.  She didn't even let her grandmother stop to get shoes.

Good job, little girl!  You are definitely a hero!

If you want to help Chloe, her preschool, Our Lady of Perpetual Help,  put up a GoFundMe page to raise money to replace the objects lost to the fire.

Time for Yosemite's Firefall

Every year during the middle to end of February, Horseshoe Falls in Yosemite look as though the water has turned to lava during sunset.  

This phenomena is the result of the angle of the sun, though there needs to be enough water and clear skies for firefall to occur.

If the weather is too cold for the snow to melt, or the sky is cloudy, then the waterfalls just looks like a waterfall.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Death in our Community

This past weekend, a student from my son's high school successfully committed suicide.  No, it's not someone I know, or someone that my son even knows.

But that doesn't matter.

The ripples from a suicide go well beyond the grieving family.  All of the people who thought they were this person's close friends now wonder if they missed a sign, wonder if they could have said something that would change the past.  People who knew this kid as a casual friend or an acquaintance wonder the same thing.  And people who don't know this kid now wonder if any of their friends feel depressed enough to try suicide.

His past and present teachers quietly cry in the background, convinced that they could have stopped this, if only...if only they had done something, anything, differently.  School counselors alternate between sadness and rage:  sadness at the senseless death and rage at the system that keeps them so busy with paperwork that it sometimes feels as though they don't have time to be with the kids.

As for us parents, we wonder if we might miss signs with our own kids.  We wonder about our kid's friends who seem depressed, and we worry that someday that kid will just not be around.

With all the crap and drama in the world, it is easy to overlook problems closer to home.  It's easy to say, "Oh, he'll be all right.  It's just a phase."  Or "She's just looking for attention.  If you give it to her, she'll just act out more."

Even if it is a "phase", that doesn't make it hurt any less.  And if someone is feeling so ignored that they act up, ignoring them more is not the answer.

I am angry right now - angry at the way society poo-poos mental health issues and tells people to "get over it" without any knowledge or understanding of what "it" is.  I am angry at the way politicians use mental health as a political tool.  I am angry at how we have a blind spot to things we can't see; injuries to a person's psyche don't exist if we can't see them.

But I'm also incredibly sad - sad that this child thought his life was so worthless that death sounded like the better option.  Now. we'll never know what that life might have become, because it's no more.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Freaky Friday News: January 29, 2016

Barbie Gets a Makeover

From Glamour Magazine
After years of criticism and questions about the influence of Barbie, Mattel finally released a new set of Barbie dolls, including Tall, Petite, and Curvy as new body types.  While I applaud the toy company for updating this iconic doll, I wonder if they couldn't have done a bit more.  Why are Tall, Petite, and Curvy exclusive?  Why not have Tall and Curvy or Petite and Curvy?

Also, what happened to the Little People Barbie?  I know that Little People are not the majority in the country, but that doesn't mean that they don't want appropriately sized dolls.

A Vegan Butcher Shop?!??

No, I did not type that wrong.  A brother and sister team, Kale and Aubrey Walch, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last year to raise money to open a vegan butcher shop in Minneapolis named The Herbivorous Butcher.  In their new shop, the Walch siblings will create meat-free sausages, pepperoni, jerky, and other typically meat-based products.

From The Herbivorous Butcher
I feel a bit divided over this new venture.  While I applaud them for offering meat-less proteins for vegans and vegetarians, I wonder about the name.  It implies that everyone needs meat, which seems contrary to what a lot of vegans I know think.   But I hope that they do well.

Cleaning the Oceans, One Bucket at a Time

Last month, a new-ish venture called Seabin launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to help them clean the oceans.  Seabin creates special buckets that go into harbors, cleaning out the physical rubbish and oily residue from the water, as explained in the diagram below.

From the Indiegogo Campaign
Pete Ceglinski and Andrew Turton, two surfers from Australia, founded the Seabin project over four years ago.  Basing the bucket on skimming systems used to clean aquarium tanks, these men prototyped and perfected this idea in Spain, using local harbors to test out their invention.

Basically, these men want harbors and marinas to buy and use seabins to clean rubbish and oil out of the local water, thereby helping to keep the surrounding waters cleaner.  While this will not rid the Pacific Ocean of its plastic sea, I believe that seabins will make a difference.  And at the moment, I think we need to do all that we can.

Freaky Friday News: Unicorn Licenses

Los Angeles County Gives a Young Resident a Unicorn License Last month, a resident of Los Angeles county, Miss Madeline, sent a handwritte...