ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE

TODAY’S WORRY

It seems that one of the polls just came out where they rate the government’s performance. According to this CBS News poll, President Bush’s approval rating has fallen to an all time low. Among the people polled, it seems that the sale of port operation to the UAE made a lot of people unhappy including many Republican party members. In fact, at a recent governor’s meeting many Republican governors expressed uneasiness at the thought of elections nine months away.

Another item polled was the reaction to Vice President Cheney’s hunting accident. As I mentioned a few blogs ago, people, just get over it! And it looks as though people have. Most people are willing to admit that accidents happen. Vice President Cheney continues to have a negative approval rating but it’s only a little more negative than before he shot his friend.

The thing that really amazed me in this poll was people’s reactions to the war in Iraq. It’s no surprise that 62 percent of Americans said they think U.S. efforts to bring stability and order to Iraq were going badly. After all, we are treated daily to a barrage of information about insurgents, religious mayhem, and death. So the really amazing information in the poll is that 36 percent said things were going well in Iraq – not just tough but hopeful, not so so, but well!

Who are these people and where did they buy their rose colored glasses?

TWO SCOOPS

TODAY’S REVELATION

Ladies! Do you know that you are wearing the wrong size bra? According to a Japanese bra maker, American women are wearing their breasts too flat and too low. A couple of weeks ago I heard about this on the radio from a woman who fits bras for Ripplu, a shop in Manhattan.

How to fix this problem? She said you must scoop and scoop and scoop again. Starting at your shoulder blades work any excess flesh forward with a scooping motion until all the boobage is in the front and then wear a snug bra to keep it all in place. Since breasts have no muscle it is up to you to keep them situated just so and stabilize them by wearing the appropriate device.

Having this envious although perhaps uncomfortable cleavage only runs about $50-$100 per bra.

THE RACE TO THE FUTURE

TODAY’S WORRY

A friend of mine sent me an article about demographics and the rise of Islam. Here’s a link to it. The thrust of the argument is that if we continue allowing abortion that we will be aborting ourselves and our culture off the planet. That is, white people will. Especially European white people. The question in the article is 1) whether abortion is in society’s interest and 2) whether Islamic people can be integrated into an existing culture and political system.

Although the author of the article, Mark Steyn, goes on at great length about what is happening with waning birthrates among indigenous Europeans, he says very little about the integration of Muslims into the greater society other than it’s not happening. Part of the problem with Europe is that it is very, very difficult for immigrants to become citizens of their adopted countries.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, countries of immigrants such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and most Latin American countries attribute citizenship unconditionally to all persons born in their territory as well as to the children of their citizens who are born abroad. Most European countries restrict citizenship to ethnics and descendants. So if you are a guest worker in Germany from Turkey or a Muslim immigrant to Switzerland the chances of you ever becoming a citizen is remote.

What’s the upshot of all this? These Muslim immigrants have no stake in the political system of the country where they reside. They are second class citizens and like second class citizens historically, they ultimately rebel against those who deny them access. Pretending that you can fix this problem by having more unwanted white babies and turning them into cultural nazis is a mistake.

Americans sometimes forget that we are a country of immigrants. Many groups were reviled when they first arrived because of different religions, customs, race and ethnicity. Many of our grandparents and great-grandparents were seen as a threat. Yet the vibrancy of the American culture is due to all these many peoples.

WHAT’S A MUTTER TO DO?

TODAY’S OBSERVATION

Occasionally when I am stuck on a clue in my crossword puzzles, I ask John if he knows the answer. I don’t really like to do this because it seems worse than using the internet for an answer. (It’s a pride thing.) But frequently, even before he tells me the answer, I know it. Why is this?

Then last night when were watching the finals of the SAP Open, I noticed that when Leyton Hewitt starting getting behind, he started muttering aloud. He was kind of exhorting himself to do the right thing. I do that too. When John and I play tennis and I am going through a particularily bad patch, I start saying out loud, “Watch the ball,” Move your feet,” or “Get the racket back.” It helps.

For some reason, hearing the clue is different from reading it. Exclaiming aloud what’s the right thing to do is different from knowing it in your head. Muttering your grocery list while at the store helps better than just mentally ticking off the items. Saying these things out loud must travel through different pathways in ones brain and that helps you to find the answers, make the right moves or remember the ketchup.

PS to Mike: I read the article and I am thinking about it. I’ll be posting something about it once I decide what I want to say.

PPS: I see there is a growing brouhaha over selling the operations of the ports to the UAE on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Chertoff was busily defending the administration’s position on the news shows this weekend. I am glad that this issue is coming to the attention of more Americans.

DERELICT

TODAY’S WORRY

Sorry I have been so derelict in my blogging duties. As I said John and I have tickets to all the sessions of the SAP Open and it has been occupying about 14 hours a day. Now that we are down to the quarterfinals, the pace should slacken a bit. The best match so far? John McEnroe and Jonas Bjorkman winning in doubles against the second seed. McEnroe may be a bit long in the tooth but he still has great hands around the net and has amped his serve up so he can consistently put it in around 110 mph. Watching all this tennis has John chomping at the bit to get back on court. He went for his first physical therapy today and was told that he is progressing well and should be able to play in about a month. Hurrah! That coincides with when we should be back in Utah.

Baby Nathan is still on hold. It’s all so exciting!!!

On the political front, can we just stop hearing about Vice-President Cheney’s hunting accident?! Surely the dark prince of the administration could do better than that if he really wanted to hurt someone. It was an accident. Trying to make political hay out of it only shows how pathetic the opposition is. Get over it!

And on the religious front, really, the Danes? When was the last time anyone got excited over anything Danish other than pastries? So now there is a million dollar reward for killing the guy who drew the cartoons. And a competition to draw a Holocaust cartoon. (This may be a Danish problem but no doubt the Jews are behind it.) And of course rioting and violence. I think it has caught the world by surprise. Hopefully, a cartoon will not be the equivalent of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

SAP OPEN

THIS WEEK’S DOINGS

John and I are attending the SAP Open all this week. At least in the early stages, this is an all day event. We left home yesterday around 8:15 AM and didn’t get back until almost 11 PM. Andre Agassi was supposed to play on Monday but withdrew at the last moment with what sounds like a recurring sciatic nerve problem. Drat! He’s one of the icons of the sport and I was really hoping to see him play. At almost 36, he’s really old to be playing competitive singles and chances to see him in the future seem doubtful. Speaking of old people playing, John McEnroe is playing doubles later this week. He’ll be 47 on Thursday. I guess when you like to perform it is hard to give up the limelight.

For now, watching tennis is what we have to be content with. John’s broken bone continues to heal and he is out of his sling but he can only raise his arm at a right angle to his body. It will take some time and physical therapy to get it above his head. But he’s making progress and that’s good.

We are checking our phones a million times a day in case Ryan goes into labor. There are some things a lot more important than watching tennis! I know she’s not due for another 12 days but you never know. It’s so exciting! I can’t wait to hold little Nathan.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

PRIORITIES?

TODAY’S BIG WORRY

I have been assailed in the past over entries I’ve made concerning the government doing unwarranted domestic wiretaps. I certainly can understand other people’s viewpoints when it comes to this topic. Terrorism is a very scary thing. And the Bush administration has taken a very pro-active executive power stance when it comes to fighting it. That’s why I was very surprised by the article that the Associated Press reported concerning the sale of significant operations of six U.S. seaports to a company from the United Arab Emirates.

According to AP the $6.8 billion sale would affect commercial U.S. port operations in New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia. Further they state that the FBI has said that the money for September 11 attacks was transferred to the hijackers primarily through the UAE’s banking system, some planning for the strikes took place in the UAE, the hijackers traveled to the U.S. through the UAE, one of the hijackers was from the UAE and that Treasury Department officials complain that the UAE has not been cooperative in trying to track Osama bin Laden’s bank accounts.

Now I’m guilty as accused when called a liberal but even I wouldn’t sell our port operations to a country who aids and abets the enemy.

To read the pros and cons of this sale, here’s the link – UAE Co. Poised to Oversee Six U.S. Ports

HEADLINES

TODAY’S OBSERVATION

Do you imagine things in headlines? You know, like when you do something stupid and you have a mental picture of the next day’s newspaper – “Pleasanton Woman Lost in Wilderness” or “Pleasanton Man Fails to Tuck and Roll.” Perhaps it’s just a means of lightening up a difficult situation or giving ourselves an internal ten minutes of fame.

On the other hand, there are real headlines that are fun to read. Just today, under sports I read, “U.S. Skeleton Athlete Is Barred From Olympics .” Oh no, I thought, is this discrimination against the overly thin? My favorite was an actual sighting on a newspaper outside of a Lyon’s Restaurant a few years ago – “NATO fans out over Bosnia.” I could just imagine all the refugees waving flags with the NATO insignia on them.

Isn’t English fun! There are so many words that can be used as both nouns and verbs and so many words that are spelled the same but have completely different meanings.

SPRING FEVER

TODAY’S WORRY

I was reading on the internet today (where you know everything is true) that January, 2006 was the warmest January since they started keeping records. The Canadian high (which brings to mind a bunch of Mounties sitting aboot smoking pot, eh) did not sink down into the States as it normally does. I’ll bet no one is complaining. It’s different if you are experiencing the warmest August ever.

Today we went out back to attack the giant honeysuckle that is taking over our fence. The honeysuckle really likes our backyard. I am afraid it may topple the fence. But it was great working outside. What a day! The temperature was in the 70’s, everything is so green and the flowering trees and azaleas are blooming. We may have to pay twice as much for housing here in the Bay Area but the weather makes it worth it.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

TODAY’S HAPPINESS

One of the best, best reasons for being home again is getting to be with the kids. On Saturday night we all got together for a somewhat late celebration of Jonathan’s birthday. After having some small bites here at the apartment, we went to Nora’s Cafe in Palo Alto. It’s a French bistro. Amazingly, there was a whole table of French people behind us. I would recommend this place for the steak frites. The steak was delicious and the frites prepared correctly although a little on the less-than-hot side. We also shared an amazing rum raisin sundae for dessert. Lots of real rum over the top.

Anyway, while we were sitting about before we left for the restaurant, Jon and Ryan disclosed the name that they have chosen for Little Bruno. Now I admit it will be hard to think of him as anything other than Little Bruno but, really, probably not a name he would want for the rest of his life. Names carry such weight with them. There’s the whole being sensitive to how the child will be treated depending on his name. You want to have a good name for when the child is an adult. (I have an embarrassing story about this that I’ll post another day.) It’s important not to have a name that’s too confusing with other names in the household, like our John and Jonathan.

I knew that Ryan and Jon had been kicking around the names Nathan and Gabriel. Both were fine with me. So when they told us the first name, it wasn’t a surprise. But the middle name brought tears to my eyes. Our new grandson will be named Nathan Clark. Clark was my maiden name. It is Sarah’s middle name and my nephew’s middle name. Since my mom and dad only had girls, there was no carrying on of the name. But now it will make it to another generation. I am really touched. Thank you Ryan and Jon.

SUDOKU

TODAY’S WORRY

It was never my intention to get started doing sudoku. I’ve always figured I’m a crossword puzzle kind of girl and eschewed anything with numbers. After all, to do crosswords you need a broad range of trivia from foreign words to geography to arcane definitions – a thinking person’s kind of idle time filler. I also thought that sudoku had something to do with math. Not my strong suit.

On the way home from Florida, the Southwest Airlines magazine had 4 sudoku. Well, I had nothing but idle time so I read the instructions and lo and behold, no math was involved. The numbers are really just distinct place holders. You could use letters or colors or any bunch of 9 different things. So I tried the easy ones and did them. Then I tried the intermediate one and did it. Then I solved the hard one although that took me a while. I was hooked.

A sudoku grid is nine by nine. Nine columns of nine numbers, nine rows of nine numbers and nine 3 x 3 boxes of nine numbers. You just have to make sure that there are no repetitions of a number in any column, row or box. I found a website where you can find sudoku. There are plenty to be had as the number of possible ways to fill a 9-by-9 sudoku grid is calculated at 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960. My measured time doing one online makes me slower than 96% of people who do sudoku. But, no worries, by the time I get through doing 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 I’m sure I’ll be faster.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE + TIP

TODAY’S WORRY

I have to say I was really dreading yesterday. Since John’s accident, he hasn’t been able to drive or schlep things. How was I going to manage heavy suitcases and carryons all the way across the country? How was he not going to get jostled in the cattlecall that is embarkation on Southwest Airlines? I discovered by asking for help and applying a little money to the situation that it was totally surviveable.

First, my brother-in-law, Ted, offered to put the suitcases and stuff in the trunk. Then I asked if he would clean the car windows for me. Cost of service – free. Thanks, Ted.

Got a skycap at the rental car return. He took the suitcases out of the trunk, wheeled them to the ticket counter and placed them on the scale for the Southwest ticket agent to weigh and tag. (BTW, Tampa airport is one of the most user-friendly I’ve been in. Rental car return is within easy walking distance of the terminal. The terminal is completely wi-fi. And it is spotlessly clean.) Cost of service – $10 tip.

Asked for and received pre-boarding on the airplanes so John wouldn’t get jostled. Cost – free

In between planes took an electric cart to a restaurant and then later to our gate. Cost of service – $4 tip

Rented a cart to pick up our luggage in Oakland. (Actually it kind of steams me that they make you pay for the cart. In Europe, these carts are provided for free.) Cost of cart – $3

Hired a limo to take us from the airport home. The limo picked us up right out in front of the airport. Robert, the driver, told us to get into the car and he would take care of loading all the luggage. He drove us to our door and then took all the luggage out and put it inside the house. Cost of limo + tip – $89

Spent a whole day of traveling without a major hassle – priceless