December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Here's hoping that everyone has a Happy and Safe New Year!

2007! Where did 2006 go? It seems like just yesterday everyone was worried what was going to happen when all the computer clocks would reset to 00 when the year 2000 rolled around. Time sure flies.

Posted by Valkyre at 06:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2006

Well.... He's Dead

Saddam's been hanged for all it's worth. I doubt that this will really change anything. It's more symbolic than anything else. It could make things worse on the other hand.

Article here:

Hussein executed with 'fear in his face'

POSTED: 1:26 a.m. EST, December 30, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein, the former Iraqi dictator who spent his last years in captivity after his ruthless regime was toppled by the U.S.-led coalition in 2003, was hanged before dawn Saturday for crimes committed in a brutal crackdown during his reign.

The execution took place shortly after 6 a.m. (10 p.m. Friday ET), Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, told Iraqi television.

"This dark page has been turned over," Rubaie said. "Saddam is gone. Today Iraq is an Iraq for all the Iraqis, and all the Iraqis are looking forward. ... The [Hussein] era has gone forever."

Rubaie, who witnessed the execution, said the former leader was "strangely submissive" to the process.

"He was a broken man," he said. "He was afraid. You could see fear in his face."

Rubaie said that Hussein carried with him a copy of the Quran and asked that it be given to "a certain person." Rubaie did not identify that person.

On Al-Arabiya television, Rubaie said the execution took place at the 5th Division intelligence office in Qadhimiya. He said Hussein refused to wear a black hood over his head before execution and told him "don't be afraid."

White House deputy press secretary Scott Stanzel said President Bush was asleep when the execution took place and was not awakened. The president had been briefed by national security adviser Stephen Hadley before retiring and was aware the hanging was imminent, Stanzel said.

The White House issued a statement praising the Iraqi people for giving Hussein a fair trial.

"Fair trials were unimaginable under Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule," Bush's statement read. "It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial."

The execution took place outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, Rubaie said, and no Americans were present.

"It was an Iraqi operation from A to Z," he said. "The Americans were not present during the hour of the execution. They weren't even in the building."

He added that "there were no Shiite or Sunni clerics present, only the witnesses and those who carried out the actual execution were present."

Hussein was hanged for his role in the 1982 Dujail massacre, in which 148 Iraqis were killed after a failed assassination attempt against the then-Iraqi president.

Two other co-defendants -- Barzan Hassan, Hussein's half-brother, and Awwad Bandar, the former chief judge of the Revolutionary Court -- were also found guilty and had been expected to face execution with Hussein, but Rubaie said their executions were postponed.

"We chose to postpone Barzan and Awwad's execution to a later date because we wanted to have this day to have an historic distinction," he said. "We wanted to have one specific date for Saddam so people remember this date to be linked to Saddam's execution and nothing else."

Rubaie said the execution was videotaped and photographed extensively from the time Hussein was transferred from U.S. to Iraqi custody until he was dead.

Many of those who witnessed the execution celebrated in the aftermath.

"Saddam's body is in front me," said an official in the prime minister's office when CNN telephoned. "It's over."

In the background, Shiite chanting could be heard. When asked about the chanting, the official said, "These are employees of the prime minister's office and government chanting in celebration."

He said that celebrations broke out after Hussein was dead, and that there was "dancing around the body."

Iraqi-Americans celebrated in the street in Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Iraqis in the United States.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki did not attend the execution, according to an adviser to the prime minister who was interviewed on state television.

"It's a very solemn moment for me," Feisal Istrabadi, Iraq's U.N. ambassador, said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "I can understand why some of my compatriots may be cheering. I have friends whose particular people I can think of who have lost 10, 15, 20 members of their family, more.

"But for me, it's a moment really of remembrance of the victims of Saddam Hussein."

Friday evening, a U.S. district judge refused a request to stay the execution.

Attorney Nicholas Gilman said in an application for a restraining order, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, that a stay would allow Hussein "to be informed of his rights and take whatever action he can and may wish to pursue."

Munir Haddad, a judge on the appeals court that upheld the former dictator's death sentence, called Gilman's filing "rubbish," and said, "It will not delay carrying out the sentence," which he called "final."

Throughout the day, there were conflicting reports about who had custody of Hussein. Giovanni di Stefano, one of Hussein's defense attorneys, told CNN the U.S. military officially informed him that the former Iraqi dictator had been transferred to Iraqi custody, but that the move in U.S. court could have meant that Hussein was back in U.S. custody.

There had been speculation that Hussein would be executed before Eid Al-Adha -- a holiday period that means Feast of the Sacrifice, celebrated by Muslims around the world at the climax of the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The law does not permit executions to be carried out during religious holidays.

Eid began Saturday for Sunnis and begins Sunday for Shiites. It lasts for four days. Hussein was a Sunni Muslim.

Meeting with half-brothers

Another defense lawyer, Badie Aref, told CNN that Hussein met with two of his half-brothers in his cell on Thursday and passed on messages and instructions to his family.

"President Saddam was just bracing for the worst, so he wanted to see his brothers and pass on some messages and instructions to his family," Aref said. The half brothers who visited were Sabawi and Wathban Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, he said.

He never asked to see anyone else -- not even his wife, said his lawyers. She was the mother of his five children.

Aref said the U.S. soldiers guarding Hussein on Tuesday took away a radio he kept in his cell so he could not hear news reports about his death sentence, which was confirmed that day.

"They did not want him to hear the news from the appeals court upholding the sentence," he said. "They gave him back the radio on Wednesday."

Aref said Saddam found out about the appeals court verdict "a few hours after it was announced."

Crimes against humanity

Hussein was convicted on November 5 of crimes against humanity in connection with the killings of 148 people in the town of Dujail after an attempt on his life.

The dictator was found guilty of murder, torture and forced deportation.

The Dujail episode falls within 12 of the worst cases out of 500 documented "baskets of crimes" during the Hussein regime.

The U.S. State Department says torture and extrajudicial killings followed the Dujail killings and that 550 men, women and children were arrested without warrants.

CNN's Aneesh Raman, Arwa Damon, Ryan Chilcote, Sam Dagher, Jomana Karadsheh and Ed Henry contributed to this report.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:20 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Posted by Valkyre at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2006

Breaking Another Tradition

It is customary for me to take down the tree on New Years Day. I usually have the Rose Parade going in the background, looking up occasionally at the floats while I remove ornaments and lights. However, this tree is so dry, I am going to start taking it down in December 26th. I'm worried about it being a fire hazard. We got it at Lowe's this year. It was fresh and has been sucking up water, but it dried out much faster than the trees we used to get at our local Target store. One year, one of our Target trees was still fresh, even on New Years Day. But, our local Target was remodeled and they did away with the garden section. They did not have any trees this year. I don't know if they have done away with them permanently, or if it was because the store had just recently re-opened after having been expanded and redone. I really wish they would carry them again. We used to get them at the Home Depot and ran into the same problem as this one from Lowes. They dry up to quick.

There is only one time that we ever got a dry tree from Target. That was about 18 years ago, and there is a story behind that one.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2006

Harry Potter Book 7

So the title has been announced. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I am looking forward to this coming out. But, I am also a little sad that this will definitely be the last book in the series. There are so many rumors flying around about what will happen to the characters. I've heard that Harry dies. I've heard that everyone dies. Well, just have to wait and see. I wonder how many pages it will be? There were so many things brought up in the other books that I hope will be resolved in this one. That would make for a pretty thick book. And, if there are any surprises, I hope that no one gives them away.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:07 AM | Comments (1)

December 14, 2006

Peter Boyle 1935 - 2006

Article here:

Actor Peter Boyle dies

Former Christian Brothers monk and Emmy winner played curmudgeonly father in long-running sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."

By The Associated Press

Peter Boyle, the tall, prematurely bald actor who was the tap-dancing monster in "Young Frankenstein" and the curmudgeonly father in the long-running sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond," has died. He was 71.

Boyle, 71, died Tuesday evening at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He had been suffering from multiple myeloma and heart disease, said his publicist, Jennifer Plante.

A Christian Brothers monk who turned to acting, Boyle gained notice playing an angry workingman in the Vietnam-era hit "Joe." But he overcome typecasting when he took on the role of the hulking, lab-created monster in Mel Brooks' 1974 send-up of horror films.

The movie's defining moment came when Gene Wilder, as scientist Frederick Frankenstein, introduced his creation to an upscale audience. Boyle, decked out in tails, performed a song-and-dance routine to the Irving Berlin classic "Puttin' On the Ritz."

It showed another side of the Emmy-winning actor, one that would be exploited in countless other films and perhaps best in "Everybody Loves Raymond," in which he played incorrigible paterfamilias Frank Barone for 10 years.

"He's just obnoxious in a nice way, just for laughs," he said of the character in a 2001 interview. "It's a very sweet experience having this happen at a time when you basically go back over your life and see every mistake you ever made."

When Boyle tried out for the role opposite series star Ray Romano's Ray Barone, however, he was kept waiting for his audition -- and he was not happy.

"He came in all hot and angry," recalled the show's creator, Phil Rosenthal, "and I hired him because I was afraid of him."

But Rosenthal also noted: "I knew right away that he had a comic presence."

Boyle first came to the public's attention more than a quarter century before. "Joe" was a sleeper hit in which he portrayed the title role, an angry, murderous bigot at odds with the era's emerging hippie youth culture.

Although critically acclaimed, he faced being categorized as someone who played tough, angry types. He broke free of that to some degree as Robert Redford's campaign manager in "The Candidate," and shed it entirely in "Young Frankenstein."

The latter film also led to the actor meeting his wife, Loraine Alterman, who visited the set as a reporter for Rolling Stone magazine. Boyle, still in his monster makeup, quickly asked her for a date.

He went on to appear in dozens of films and to star in "Joe Bash," an acclaimed but short-lived 1986 "dramedy" in which he played a lonely beat cop. He won an Emmy in 1996 for his guest-starring role in an episode of "The X Files," and he was nominated for "Everybody Loves Raymond" and for the 1977 TV film "Tail Gunner Joe," in which he played Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

In the 1976 film "Taxi Driver," he was the cabbie-philosopher Wizard, who counseled Robert DeNiro's violent Travis Bickle.

Other notable films included "T.R. Baskin," "F.I.S.T.," "Johnny Dangerously," "Conspiracy: Trial of the Chicago 8" (as activist David Dellinger), "The Dream Team," "The Santa Claus," "The Santa Claus 2," "While You Were Sleeping" (in a charming turn as Sandra Bullock's future father-in-law) and "Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed."

Educated in Roman Catholic schools in Philadelphia, Boyle would spend three years in a monastery before abandoning his studies there. He later described the experience as similar to "living in the Middle Ages."

He explained his decision to leave in 1991: "I felt the call for awhile; then I felt the normal pull of the world and the flesh."

He traveled to New York to study with Uta Hagen, supporting himself for five years with various jobs, including postal worker, waiter, maitre d' and office temp. Finally, he was cast in a road company version of "The Odd Couple." When the play reached Chicago he quit to study with that city's famed improvisational troupe Second City.

Upon returning to New York, he began to land roles in TV commercials, off-Broadway plays and finally films.

Through Alterman, a friend of Yoko Ono, the actor became close friends with John Lennon.

"We were both seekers after a truth, looking for a quick way to enlightenment," Boyle once said of Lennon, who was best man at his wedding.

In 1990, Boyle suffered a stroke and couldn't talk for six months. In 1999, he had a heart attack on the set of "Everybody Loves Raymond." He soon regained his health, however, and returned to the series.

Despite his work in "Everybody Loves Raymond" and other Hollywood productions, Boyle made New York City his home. He and his wife had two daughters, Lucy and Amy.

Posted by Valkyre at 12:45 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2006

Done

Bought the last Christmas gifts today at Costco. Other than getting some gifts at Sam's Club and Costco, I didn't hit any other stores for gifts. And, I was already getting groceries at both Sam's and Costco, so it wasn't like I made extra trips. I got almost 90% of them online. No parkings hassles, no crowds or rude clerks. No being told, over the phone, that the item I want is in stock. Only to get down to the location and being told that it hasn't been in stock for the past two weeks. I love the internet!

Posted by Valkyre at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2006

I Miss Sav-On

We used to have a Sav-on drug store right around the corner practically. I always thought of Sav-On being on the higher end of drug store chains. That is where I buy all the stocking stuffers for Christmas. Or the candy when Easter rolls around. Sav-On was owned by the Albertson's grocery chain. When Albertson's went on the block, the powers-that-be said that Sav-On had to be sold seperately. So when Sav-On went on the block, the CVS pharmacy chain bought them out. Okay. I've been to a CVS pharmacy once. I wasn't too impressed with them. I put them at the bottom of the drug store chains. But, they swore they wouldn't change anything. They would keep it like the old Sav-On we were used to and they would add more products at better prices. And I thought, "Really!? How badly could they fuck it up?" Turns out a lot. I went there when CVS took over and immediately noticed that the parking lot was filthy. I mean really filthy. There was paper and trash everywhere. Along with the shopping carts. When it was Sav-On, they were more diligent about collecting the carts. But, there were no carts in front of the store. They were all out in the parking lot, come blocking the parking spaces. There was never trash all over when it was Sav-On. I couldn't believe how dingy it looked. When I got inside, I couldn't find any of the little hand baskets Sav-On used to have at the front. I guess since there were no carts in front, people had been grabbing those instead. I didn't see any new products. Just less of the things I was used to seeing. I noticed that the employees weren't the same ones I recognized from Sav-On. Had they fired all the other ones from Sav-On? The one cash register that was opened was being manned by a young girl who I really think was terrified to be out in public. She never looked up during the transaction and barely spoke above a whisper. I was glad to get out of there.

Now, they've had their Grand Re-opening after remodeling the store. I decided to give them another try. I wish I hadn't. The parking lot was even more filthier than the last time. Again, the carts hadn't been collected. There were, however, a couple of stacks of the hand baskets out in front by the entrance. I was also happy to see that a lot of the employees from Sav-On were still there. However, I didn't really notice many new products. I did notice that the nice shining white tile floor had been covered by an ugly grey carpet. It really made the place look cheesy. I was getting a K-mart vibe throughout the whole place. Even though there weren't many people in the store, there was long lines at several of the registers. It seems that a lot of the items that were supposed to be on sale were not ringing up properly and the manager had to be called over several times to override the register. Their seasonal section sucked. They didn't carry as many items as Sav-On and a lot of the more expensive Christmas candies weren't even carried any more. I managed to find some things to stuff stockings with and went to check out. I got in the shortest line and waited, and waited and waited. The people in front of me were buying six items. They were some sort of "two for the price of one" thing. There was a limit of six. However, the register was limiting them to only two and rang up the other four at regular price. The manager came over and overrode the the register and the clerk rang up all six at the sale price. It came to $18 something. I saw the man open his wallet. All he had was a ten dollar bill. So, the wife starts disputing the total. This went on and on and on. They totally disregarded the people who were waiting in line behind them. I picked out another line and finally managed to get out of there. I really wish they had left things alone. Their way of "improving" over what Sav-On already had in place only really made it much, much worse. I won't be going there any more. I will try Rite Aid, or Walgreens.

Posted by Valkyre at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2006

Another Hero Dog

Almost 20 years ago we rescued a 10 month old dog from the pound. I didn't get his license right away. One of our kind and generous neighbors ratted us out. Animal Control came knocking. The kind gentleman was telling me about the license fees and the penalties I would pay due to the license application being sent in late. Somehow or another, I let slip that we had got the dog from the pound. "You got him from the pound?" He asked. "Oh! Since you did that, I will only charge you for the license. I won't charge you any late fees!" He had tears in his eyes. He was so happy that we had got our dog from the pound. "Your dog will remember what you did for the rest of his life." The reason I bring this up? The following story. I think this dog remember what his people did for him and repaid them for their kindness (scroll down through the pictures for the story that goes with them:







Once-Abused Dog Saves Couple Who Adopted Her

POSTED: 7:14 am PST December 5, 2006
UPDATED: 10:00 am PST December 5, 2006

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An elderly couple's dog helped save them from freezing to death during a surprise storm by digging a 20-foot tunnel through the snow.

The snowstorm fell in the Buffalo, N.Y., area in October. Eve Fertig, 81, and her husband, Norman, were taking care of injured birds in a wildlife sanctuary on their Alden property when it hit.

The storm intensified and the couple became trapped by falling trees and heavy snow.

"It just started piling up," Eve Fertig said. "I said, 'Norman, we can't stay here, we'll die.'"

The couple's 160-pound German shepherd-timberwolf mix, Shana, started digging under the trees and through the snow. She dug a 1-foot-wide tunnel 20 feet back to their home.

Shana then came back to Eve and Norman and barked. When the couple hesitated, Shana wouldn't give up. She grabbed Eve Fertig's jacket with her mouth. They all went through the tunnel.

"It was quite a distance," Eve Fertig said. "We get out and she pulls us out. We got on the back deck, got the back door open and we fell inside. And we laid there all night."

Shana, rescued as a neglected puppy at two weeks of age from an apparent puppy mill operation, now has a hero's plaque and an honorary fire helmet from firefighters who later checked on the Fertigs.

Shana's hero award for bravery came from the group Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment.

Posted by Valkyre at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2006

Now I Really Feel Old

Today, our youngest turned 18.

Posted by Valkyre at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2006

A New Record For Me

These last few years, with me working full time, it has been taking me longer and longer to decorate the house for Christmas. Tradition usually holds that I start the Friday after Thanksgiving. I started a week earlier. I actually finished at the end of November. All we need to do is buy the tree so we can hang the ornaments. Then I can pack away the boxes of ornaments. The stockings I cross-stitched myself years ago when the girls were little.

Posted by Valkyre at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 01, 2006

Shamu Has A Bad Day

If one has a bad day, they could opt to call in sick and stay in bed all day. Or go to work and maybe do enough to get by. What if you don't have that choice? What if you are having a bad day and you are required to work anyway? Well, if you are Shamu, or the orca who has been chosen to play Shamu that day, you grab your trainer and drag him to the bottom of the tank. I really feel that this orca didn't want to perform at this particular time and was maybe just messing with his trainer to show his displeasure.

Article here:

Killer whale in attack returns to the San Diego performance tank

By ALLISON HOFFMAN
Associated Press Writer

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A killer whale was back performing before crowds at SeaWorld Adventure Park only a day after dragging her trainer to the bottom of the pool.

Kasatka, a 5,000-pound-plus female, grabbed Ken Peters by the foot and tugged him underwater for less than a minute, surfaced, then took him down for another minute before he managed to coax her into releasing him Wednesday.

The drama took place just before the finale of a show at Shamu Stadium that would have involved the whale rocketing into the air from underwater and Peters diving from her nose. They had performed the stunt together many times.

On Thursday, the 39-year-old Peters underwent surgery for a broken left foot but was otherwise in good spirits, said Mike Scarpuzzi, the vice president of zoological operations at SeaWorld San Diego.

Kasatka was back in the water for a lunchtime performance that went off Thursday without a hitch. Trainers limited the performance to tricks that did not involve getting into the water with the orca.

Trainers from the San Diego park and sister parks in Texas and Florida will review Kasatka's behavior before the incident and try to figure out what happened, Scarpuzzi said.

Some experts said the 30-year-old orca simply may have been having a bad day.

Kasatka may have been put out by a spat with another whale, grumpy because of the weather or even just irritable from a stomachache, they speculated.

"Some mornings they just wake up not as willing to do the show as others," said Ken Balcomb, the director of the Center for Whale Research in Friday Harbor, Wash. "If the trainer doesn't recognize it's not a good day, this will happen."

"In captivity they're dangerous because they're big and sometimes they're not happy with their situation," Balcomb said. "In the wild they're not dangerous to humans and there's no incidences of them attacking humans unprovoked."

Kasatka and Peters were involved in a similar scrape in 1999, when the whale tried to bite the trainer during a show, Scarpuzzi said. Peters hopped out of the tank without being injured in that incident.

The whale also tried to bite a different trainer in a 1993 incident.

The Humane Society of the United States, which opposes keeping orcas in captivity, issued a statement Thursday suggesting SeaWorld may one day have to kill a whale to save a person's life.

"Simply put, keeping these powerful and intelligent marine mammals in captivity and allowing people to swim with them is utterly inappropriate," said Naomi A. Rose, marine mammal scientist for the society.

"The risk of a tragic outcome is too great - for the trainers and the whales," she said.

Scarpuzzi, a former killer whale trainer, said the animals perform as many as eight times a day, 365 days a year so there are thousands of positive experiences over the years.

Scarpuzzi said orcas, like other animals, can be unpredictable. But he called the incident "definitely abnormal."

Posted by Valkyre at 08:03 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe She Should Have Used A Leash?

This is a terrible story. And, I do feel sorry for the loss of her puppy. But this whole ordeal would not have happened had this lady leashed up her dog:

Article here

Woman Erects 'Who Killed Our Puppy' Sign

POSTED: 3:43 am PST December 1, 2006

SMYRNA, Tenn. -- A Tennessee woman put up a controversial reminder to the person who she said ran over her dog, and some have found it offensive.

Ginger Crawford buried her 5-month-old puppy in her back yard, but she built the memorial in the front yard so every driver can see it.

"She was with me all the time and I miss her so much," she said.

Crawford said she will never forget her walk to the mailbox Nov. 16. She said she had kept her dog inside for a couple of days and hoped the walk to the mailbox might burn off some energy.

"She came out behind me like she always does and she usually stays back," Crawford said. "I happened to see her over by the fire hydrant, so I walked toward her, trying to get her to come back (toward me)."

But she said the puppy didn't listen and instead ran toward the road. That's when she said the car hit the dog.

"It flipped her, she rolled backwards and they hit her again with their back tire and threw her up here in the driveway," she said.

Crawford said that drivers often speed past her house and that she has complained about it to police, but police checked their records for the past two years and said they have no record of any speeding complaint from Crawford.

"We haven't received any calls from her specifically, requesting our assistance," said Sgt. Bobby Gibson of the Smyrna Police Department.

Crawford claimed drivers do slow down now to read her sign, and some of them find it offensive.

"If it were our dog that got outside and got killed, it would be devastating to our family, but I don't think I would be putting a sign out there saying 'Was it you?' that did that," said passing driver David Wills.

Offensive or not, Crawford said she stands by her sign and said she hopes somehow it will melt the heart of the one she said didn't even stop the day they ran over Raven.

"She was my best friend and I surely miss her. I'll always miss her," she said.

Posted by Valkyre at 07:30 AM | Comments (2)