Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Last minute trips to DC are always fun. I went to water aerobics on Sunday, had lunch with Dani and dinner with Jen (steamed crabs, yum!), spent some time schmoozing on Capitol Hill, and even gave Brad a quick tour of the monuments at night (he'd never been to DC before!). Yes, it's a little hotter here than it is in Austin, but that's to be expected, summer in DC.

But going home, well, that's a different story.

Here I sit at National Airport (I REFUSE to call it "RRRr..." -- I can't even say it), dreading the impending thunderstorms and hearing flights cancelled all around me. My flight is delayed by 2 hours, but so far, still scheduled to go. Cross your fingers that I can get to Dallas! Worst case scenario, I'll rent a car and drive home from there. Best case, my flight to Austin is also delayed, and is still there, so I can make it.

From now on, I solemnly swear will only fly early in the morning in the summer -- even if it means getting up at 5am (or in this case, not sleeping at all!).

Update: So much for that idea! Clearly, not enough of you out there in cyberspace crossed your fingers for me. We boarded the plane at 6:30pm, every seat full, every inch of overhead space jammed with rolling luggage. At 7:00, the pilot came on to tell us that DFW was closed because of a thunderstorm. [One of my pilot friends will have to help me understand why, if it's going to take us two plus hours to fly there, we shouldn't take off, and assume/hope that the airport will be open by then.] So, we sat. They brought beverages, and turned on the CBS pseudo-news on the video screens. But that wasn't good enough. At 8:00, the otherwise friendly and helpful gate agent (a few people commented that he was very Disney-castmember-like) came on to tell us that the flight was cancelled. ARGH.

Fortunately, I knew I had a room ready for me at casa Fratkin. So now I'm sitting here listening to the cheezy hold music for the travel agency that we use, trying to figure out how I'm going to get back to Austin. I foresee getting up at 5am again.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Strange Bedfellows, indeed

*Sigh* The Supreme Court deals another blow to free speech today, ruling in favor of the school principal who suspended a student who held up a banner that said "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" as the Olympic torch passed through Juneau, Alaska. Free speech, if you're in school, is apparently only partially free. Oh well. (Ok, so the phrase *could* be construed as pro-drug-use... it wasn't what I would call disruptive or lewd. Lighten up, people!)

What makes this case more interesting is that Republican conservative groups allied themselves with the kid, because they didn't want to see the court take away their right to protest things like homosexuality and abortion. So there you have it: Republicans admitting that Free Speech is actually useful!

But, in a case that redeems my faith in the justice system, the DC Superior Court ruled against a judge (A JUDGE!) who was suing a dry cleaner for $54M over a pair of lost pants. Yes, you read that correctly, he sued the dry cleaner for FIFTY FOUR MILLION DOLLARS because a) they lost his suit pants, and b) they didn't follow through on their guarantee of "Satisfaction Guaranteed." (oh, and they tried to give him back a pair of pants with cuffs on them. Cuffs! What a travesty!) Puh-leeze. He said he was suing the dry cleaner for the public good, so other Washingtonians wouldn't be "fooled" by such guarantees. Fortunately, the judge who heard this case had a lot more sense than the plaintiff. :) In fact, the plaintiff might have to pay the dry cleaners legal fees! Justice is served.

Friday, June 22, 2007

A Fourth Branch of the US Government?

Ok, I admit it, I didn't fare too well in my American Government class in high school.

What's that, you say? a child who was born and raised in the nation's capital?! In a house full of American Political memorabilia?! Yes. (Can you say "rebellion"?) Actually, it had less to do with rebellion, and more to do with the fact that our AmGov teacher was visiting from England, and wasn't the best teacher. And then she got sick, and we were left with the parent of a former NCS student, who, to the best of my knowledge, knew even less about how the US Government runs than we did.

But, I digress. At least we knew more about the government than our current Vice President, who feels that the Vice President's Office is not part of the Executive Branch! He seems to think his office is exempt from having to follow the rules governing how classified national security documents are handled. Darth Vader strikes again!

Here's the document from the House Government Oversight committee listing all of the shenanigans coming out of Cheney's office. If anyone ever doubted that he thinks he's above the law, here it is in black and white! And who do you think drafted the statement that Dubya signed in 2001 that says that the VP can control what comes out of his office, and conceal his records for YEARS after he leaves office?! Where did this man get the idea that he was untouchable? I think he honestly thinks he's G-d. He doesn't need to run for President, he's already running the world!

Leave it to Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) to come up with a response, in a message his office sent to the VP:
"If the Vice President truly believes he is not a part of the executive branch, he should return the salary the American taxpayers have been paying him since January 2001, and move out of the home for which they are footing the bill."
(gotta love the diagram, too) :)

Update: So what does Dick Cheney do when the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee is too nosy about his office? He suggests shutting down the Information Security Oversight Office, of course! Can't you just see him cackling and rubbing his hands together like the Grinch or Wile E. Coyote?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"Who, Me?"

Yes, it's been a while since I posted anything. Like a lot of my yarn-obsessed friends, I got sucked into Ravelry for a few days... and that was after four relatively relaxed days in DC, during which I walked at least 5 miles before 11am on Saturday (Racing for the Cure!); ate Tex-Mex at Austin Grill, dim sum at Fortune, crab cakes (and the most amazing biscuits) at Acadiana and mezze at Lebanese Taverna; wondered how I could ever have withstood the dust in the family basement for so many years; and finally got to see Tai Shan, the baby panda at the National Zoo (who is nearly 2, and will be shipped back to China soon!). Phew! Good thing I got all of that out of the way, because I don't know when I'll be getting back to town for a while.
[I was going to post a panda picture, but I can't figure out where I uploaded them. Maybe later.]

In today's news, another case of "I wish I were making this up":

The WaPo and BBCNews are reporting that a watchdog group learned that the Pentagon's Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate was researching (really odd) biological weapons to use against our enemies ... one that would "provoke widespread homosexual behaviour among troops," and another, a "Who? Me?" bomb, which would simulate flatulence in enemy ranks.