April 30, 2009

This is Disturbing

A Texas bus driver is texting while he is driving. He slams into the back of an SUV. This could have been much worse. It's scary out there with all the crap that distracts people while they're driving. Fortunately, this idiot was fired.

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

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

April 27, 2009

What Were They Thinking!?

A photo op!? If this was just a photo op, why all the secrecy? Didn't someone think that this could cause a panic? A low flying commercial jet being escorted by fighter jets? It seems that local authorities were aware of it, but were sworn to secrecy. Even Mayor Bloomberg didn't know about it.

Article here

Jumbo Jet, F-16 Buzz Lady Liberty, Put New York on Edge

"I take responsibility for that decision," said Louis Caldera, Dir. White House Military Office

By BRIAN THOMPSON and HASANI GITTENS

Don't Panic.

It wasn't an attack, or even a drill -- it was a government-sponsored photo op.

The Pentagon did tell local authorities about the startling fly-over that sent a Boeing 747 and a F-16 fighter screaming over New York's scarred skyline, but officials said they couldn't share the information with the public. They couldn't even share the information with the mayor.

Mayor Bloomberg said he was "furious" and criticized both the feds and his own administration for failing to issue a simple warning to the public in a city that is still somewhat traumatized by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"The good news is it was nothing more than an inconsiderate, badly conceived and insensitive photo op with the taxpayers' money," Bloomberg said.

News 4 New York learned Monday night that at least 90 calls were placed to 911 about the plane.

An official from the Obama administration said the White House Military Office wanted to update its file photo of the president's plane near the Statue of Liberty.

This official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the White House Military Office told the Federal Aviation Administration that it periodically updates file photos of Air Force One near national landmarks, like the statue in New York harbor and the Grand Canyon.

"It's completely asinine after 9/11 to do that," said Keith Mercantine, who witnessed the chaos in Jersey City. "I saw ambulances out here with pregnant women."

An Air Force One lookalike and F-16 buzzed the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor in the morning, halting work on nearby construction sites, causing residents and office workers to flee their high-rises and giving thousands of people in downtown Manhattan and New Jersey a major fright.

At least two people were treated for minor injuries at Jersey City Medical Center after falling during the rush to exit their buildings.

"Everybody panicked," said Daisy Cooper, a Merrill Lynch worker in Jersey City, who lost a nephew on 9/11. "Everybody was screaming and we all ran downstairs. I'm devastated...Everybody was running, we didn't know why we were running. We just knew it was a plane, there we go, 9/11 again."

The Air Force One lookalike is a back up plane for the one used by the president. The plane is designated by the Defense Department as a VC-25 but is recognizable to the public as a Boeing 747.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there was no reason for alarm, even though thousands of people saw the fighter jets circle the statue, along with a VC-25, and immediately thought the worst.

"They were making two, maybe three passes," FAA spokesman Jim Peters told News 4 New York. "The [Department of Defense] and the FAA worked this all out in advance."

A Pentagon official confirmed that while the Presidential Airlift Group, which is based out of Andrews Air Force Base, did inform the FAA and New York City officials about this morning's aerial photo op, they also told both agencies not to inform the public about it.The NYPD confirmed that statement.

Louis Caldera, Director of the White House Military Office took the blame for the photo-op flap.

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision," said Caldera. "While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

There's no word on where the photo op will show up.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2009

Shady Pines Ma! Shady Pines!

This was a phrase, Bea Arthur's character, Sophia, used to say to Estelle Getty, who played her Mom, in Golden Girls. It was a threat she would use when her Mom was misbehaving. Shady Pines was the local old folks home. Anyway, I've been thinking of that phrase, and the show, ever since I heard Bea Arthur died.

Article here

Bea Arthur, star of 'Golden Girls' and 'Maude,' dies at 86

The Broadway actress and TV star, known for her sharp-tongued characters, died of cancer at her home in Los Angeles.

By Claudia Luther
April 26, 2009

Beatrice Arthur, best known as the acerbic Maude Findlay on Norman Lear's sitcom "Maude" and as the strong-willed Dorothy Zbornak on the long-running "The Golden Girls," died Saturday. She was 86.

Arthur, a stage-trained actress who was a success on Broadway long before television audiences got to know her, died of cancer at her Los Angeles home.

In 1966, the tall and husky-voiced Arthur won a Tony for her performance as Vera Charles, the sharp-tongued sidekick to Angela Lansbury's Mame Dennis in the original production of "Mame" on Broadway, which was named best musical that year.

But Arthur had little experience in either film or TV when Lear spotted her singing a song called "Garbage" in an off-Broadway show, "The Shoestring Revue." In 1971, Lear brought her to Hollywood for a guest role on CBS' "All in the Family." She played Edith Bunker's loud-mouthed cousin, Maude, who tangled with Edith's equally loud-mouthed husband, Archie Bunker, from opposite sides of the political fence.

Within a year, Arthur had her own show, "Maude," which ran for six years on CBS.

In the series, Maude is living in Tuckahoe, N.Y., with her fourth husband, Walter Findlay (Bill Macy), daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau), a grandson and a black maid named Florida (Esther Rolle), whose sassy repartee with her boss was one of the best parts of "Maude." (Rolle's character spun off into another series, "Good Times.")

"Maude" came at the onset of the feminist movement and addressed serious issues, including infidelity, death, depression and abortion, but there were always laughs. Maude's most famous line, delivered often and with withering drollery, was: "God will get you for that, Walter."

Playing Maude earned Arthur five Emmy nominations and a statuette in 1977. Despite the show's enormous success, Arthur did not enjoy being the public face of feminism, a role she said was thrust upon her.

"It put a lot of unnecessary pressure on me," she told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2001.

After Arthur left "Maude," she returned to TV briefly in 1983 for ABC's failed takeoff of the British series "Fawlty Towers," titled "Amanda's." She returned to television in triumph in 1985 as Dorothy on "The Golden Girls," the NBC hit that ran from 1985 to 1992, twice won Emmys for best comedy and enjoyed a long afterlife in syndication.

"The Golden Girls" followed the lives of three older women sharing a household in Miami with Dorothy's widowed mother, Sophia (Estelle Getty), who had suffered a small stroke that freed her from the constraints of tact.

Much of what made the show work was the snappy mother-daughter dialogue, with Arthur as the "isle of sanity who could look at the other three characters from the audience's perspective," as producer Paul Witt once said.

The series also starred Betty White as the naive Rose and Rue McClanahan as the saucy Blanche. All four won Emmys for their portrayals; Arthur's came in 1988.

Much quieter by nature than her famous characters, Arthur often said that what she and they had in common was: "All three of us are 5-foot-9 1/2 in our stocking feet and we all have deep voices." And all, she said, tended to be "bubble prickers."

Arthur was born Bernice Frankel on May 13, 1922, in New York City, the daughter of department store owners, and was raised in Cambridge, Md. She often described herself as a shy child, but her classmates remembered her as vivacious, self-assured and funny.

Though she pined to be a June Allyson type -- small and blond and cute -- she made the most of her stature and a voice so deep that on the telephone she was often mistaken for a man. She went to New York City, where she studied at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School with the influential German director Erwin Piscator.

She also joined the famed Actors Studio, where she met her future husband, Gene Saks, who later directed Broadway shows and movies, including several film versions of Neil Simon plays.

In 1954, she got the role of Lucy Brown in the U.S. premiere of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's "Threepenny Opera," which opened off-Broadway starring Weill's wife, Lotte Lenya.

Arthur adored Lenya and often referred to the experience as the highlight of her life, the time that she realized "I was good, damn good."

Around that time, working in television on "Caesar's Hour" with Sid Caesar on NBC, she said she learned to be "outrageous" by doing "under fives" -- under five lines -- in sketches. During the 1950s, she appeared many times in various roles on Kraft Television Theatre.

Several years later, she created the role of Yente, the matchmaker in the original 1964 Broadway production of "Fiddler on the Roof," directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins.

Next she was part of the original 1966 production of "Mame" and became a lifelong friend of Lansbury.

"The two of us together were dynamite, you know?" Lansbury said on CBS' "Sunday Morning" in 2002. "I mean, we really managed to just take off like birds."

Although she had wanted the part of Mame, Arthur was talked into taking the gal-pal role by husband Saks, who was directing the musical. But she didn't accept being second banana quietly, using humor to make her point.

According to "Balancing Act," Martin Gottfried's 1999 biography of Lansbury, Arthur told people that the original name of the show was "Vera" and that it was changed only because composer Jerry Herman couldn't find rhymes for that name. Then she would dramatically pause, Gottfried wrote, and say, "Steve Sondheim could have."

"She was perfect for Vera," Gottfried concluded.

Indeed, when "Mame" opened on May 24, 1966, the New York Post's Richard Watts wrote that Arthur's Vera was "a portrait in acid of a savagely witty, cynical and serpent-tongued woman who is at once a terror, a scourge, the relentless voice of truth and a pleasure to have around."

And Time magazine said Arthur "delivers a line as if someone had put lye in her martinis."

When "Mame" came to the screen, Lucille Ball, who replaced Lansbury as the lead character, insisted on having Arthur as Vera, even though Arthur was upset that Lansbury had not gotten the title role.

"She was the greatest Vera Charles in the world," Ball told the Hollywood Reporter. "We wrapped the whole production around [her]."

The film, also directed by Saks and riddled with production problems, was a critical flop.

Arthur did few movies, among them "That Kind of Woman" (1959) and "Lovers and Other Strangers" (1970).

In 2002, "Bea Arthur on Broadway: Just Between Friends," a one-woman show she developed with composer Billy Goldenberg, appeared on Broadway for two months. The show also toured the U.S., Canada, Australia and elsewhere.

"I simply wanted to see if I had the guts to just come out and be myself, which is something I never felt very comfortable doing," Arthur told her audiences in the show.

In addition to performing, Arthur supported animal rights and AIDS research. She had lived in Los Angeles for many years.

Before marrying Saks, Arthur was married briefly to playwright Robert Alan Aurthur, from whom she acquired part of her stage name. "Bernice" became "Beatrice" because she always hated her given name, and she simplified the spelling of his last name.

Arthur and Saks, who married in 1950 and divorced in the late 1970s, had two sons, Matthew and Daniel, who survive her, as do two grandchildren.

Luther is a former Times staff writer.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2009

Yet Another Good Story About a Pitbull

This one helped the police chase down a suspect:

Posted by Valkyre at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2009

Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent

June 26, 2007 I blogged about Paul Potts, the shy contestant on Britain's Got Talent who wowed the audience, and Simon Cowell with his singing of Opera. Here's yet another "Diamond in the Rough" named Susan Boyle.


Susan Boyle Stuns Crowd with Epic Singing - Watch more Funny Videos

Posted by Valkyre at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2009

Done! Done! Done!

I'm getting worse and worse, with each passing year. I used to have our income tax return done by the end of February. As soon as I received all the necessary paperwork. These past few years, I am barely getting them done by April. I just now finished this years taxes. One of these days, I will probably be one of those procrastinators who will be taking my return to the Post Office annex close to midnight on April 15th.

Posted by Valkyre at 01:16 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2009

Pit Bull Saves Woman, Child From Attacker

Pit Bulls get such a bad rap. It's nice to read a good story about one of them. It's a story from November 2008.

Article here

Stray Pit Bull Saves Woman, Child from Attacker

Pet Pulse Staff Reports
November 5, 2008

A dog came out of nowhere and stopped a knife-wielding robber from accosting a mother and her young son on Monday afternoon.

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The wandering 65-pound Pit Bull mix might have seemed menacing to some passerby, but one woman will always remember him as her "guardian angel."

The dog, which authorities think is lost and not a stray, successfully thwarted a robbery attack on a mother and her 2-year-old son, who were held at knifepoint Monday afternoon.

The Florida woman, who has been identified by authorities simply as "Angela," was leaving a playground with her toddler son in Port Charlotte when a man approached her in the parking lot with a knife and told her not to make any noise or sudden movements.

Angela didn't have to do either to protect herself and her child -- a dog mysteriously ran to the scene and charged the man, who quickly fled.

"I don't think the dog physically attacked the man, but he went at him and was showing signs of aggression, just baring his teeth and growling and barking. It was clear he was trying to defend this woman," Animal Control Lt. Brian Jones told Pet Pulse.

"I don't know what this man's intentions were, but it is very possible this dog saved her life."

The exceptional part of the story, Jones said, is that the dog had never met or even seen the people it quickly jumped to defend.

"You hear about family dogs protecting their owners, but this dog had nothing to do with this woman or her kid," Jones said. "He was like her guardian angel."

After the alleged thief ran away, Angela quickly placed her son, Jordan, in the car and tried to drive off. Before she could, though, the dog jumped into her backseat, waiting with her for the police and animal control officers to arrive at the scene.

The dog was transported to a local shelter and if his owners don't step forward within five days, Jones said, Angela and her family plan to adopt the savior she named "Angel."

Animal control officers and shelter workers believe Angel is lost, and not a stray, because of his good health, sturdy weight and mild temperament.

"It's funny, that someone's irresponsibility could have saved someone's life," Jones said of Angel's possible owners.

For Angela, it doesn't matter where the dog came from, just that he was there when she needed him most.

"I don't know what his [the thief's] intentions were -- I don't know why he did it, but I'm glad that -- we call him Angel -- I'm glad that Angel showed up because I don't know what would have happened," Angela told NBC2 News.

For a small town with a population of 46,452, animal control officers were kept busy Monday afternoon. Jones says they department also responded to a report about a boa constrictor in a church parking lot.

The snake found its way into a car engine and was able to be removed without being harmed. It took three people to move the massive, seemingly random placed snake.

"It's funny, because we aren't a big place," he said of the Gulf Coast town. "And we can go for four or five months without the media contacting us about a story. It's been a busy week."

Officers from the responding county sheriff's office canvased the area and were unable to locate the suspect described as being in his 20s, tall and dark haired.

Tell us what you think about "Stray Dog Saves Woman, Child Held at Knifepoint" below. Share your favorite videos by clicking on the ZootooTV tab. Send us your story ideas by e-mailing us at news@zootoo.com or by calling us at 877-777-4204.

Pet Pulse reporter Amy Lieberman and NBC-2.com contributed to this article.

Posted by Valkyre at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2009

Go Stock Up On "Forever" Stamps

Post office will be raising the rate in May. I still have a lot of Forever stamps. I rarely mail anything anymore. I don't know if I will stock up, or not.

Article here

First-class stamps will rise to 44 cents on May 11

By Candice Choi The Associated Press
Posted: 04/10/2009 09:50:34 AM PDT

NEW YORK - The price of a first-class stamp is set to jump again next month, meaning you might want to stock up on Forever stamps now.

On May 11, a first-class stamp will go up by 2 cents to 44 cents. Other rates are set to rise as well.

The post office adjusts rates each May, but any increases must be at or below the rate of inflation under a 2006 law.

Still, there have been more price hikes - six including the one next month - this decade than any other.

Consider the arc of stamp prices over the years.

In 1958, a first-class stamp cost 4 cents. It was 15 cents by 1978, and 32 cents in 1998. The Forever stamp made its debut in 2007, when it cost 41 cents.

A Forever stamp costs the same as a regular stamp, but can be used to mail letters at any time in the future regardless of how much prices go up.

Some might feel stocking up on Forever stamps now is a smart bet, with the postal service staring down some major financial challenges.

Postmaster General John Potter last month sought permission from Congress to cut mail delivery to five days a week, saying the post office will run out of money this year unless it gets help. The agency lost $2.8 billion last year and is looking at much steeper losses this year.

Any price hike is bound to provoke some complaints, but the bump won't amount to a significant hit if you don't use the mail often.

"For an average household, the change will amount to $3 extra over the course of the year," said Yvonne Yoerger, a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service.

Still, Yoerger says it can't hurt to stock up on Forever stamps before the pending jump. At the very least, they'll cut out the need to attach any pesky 1- or 2-cent stamps with old stamps.

Other rates set to rise on May 11:

A postcard stamp will be 28 cents, up from 27 cents

The first ounce of a large envelope will be 88 cents, up from 83 cents

The first ounce of parcel post will be $1.22, up from $1.17

The first ounce of first-class mail to Canada will be 75 cents, up from 72 cents

The first ounce of first-class mail to Mexico will be 79 cents, up from 72 cents

The first ounce of all other international first-class mail will be 98 cents, up from 94 cents

---

On the Net:

U.S. Postal Service: http://www.usps.com

A look at stamp prices between 1919 to present.

Year - Postage, per ounce

1919 - 2 cents

1932 - 3 cents

1958 - 4 cents

1963 - 5 cents

1968 - 6 cents

1971 - 8 cents

1974 - 10 cents

1975 - 13 cents

1978 - 15 cents

1981 - 18 cents (March)

1981 - 20 cents (November)

1985 - 22 cents

1988 - 25 cents

1991 - 29 cents

1995 - 32 cents

1999 - 33 cents

2001 - 34 cents

2002 - 37 cents

2006 - 39 cents

2007 - 41 cents

2008 - 42 cents

2009 - 44 cents

Source: U.S. Postal Service

Posted by Valkyre at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2009

Dog Overboard Found Four Months Later

I love stories likes this: Article here

Dog overboard found four months later

SYDNEY (AFP) – A pet dog that fell overboard in rough seas off Australia has been reunited with its owners after surviving alone on an island for four months, reports said.

Sophie Tucker, apparently named after a late US entertainer, fell overboard as Jan Griffith and her family sailed through choppy waters off the northeast Queensland coast in November.

The dog was believed to have drowned and Griffith said the family was devastated.

But out of sight of the family, Sophie Tucker was swimming doggedly and finally made it to St Bees Island, five nautical miles away, and began the sort of life popularised by the TV reality show "Survivor."

She was returned to her family last week when Griffith contacted rangers who had captured a dog that had been living off feral goats on the largely uninhabited island, in the faint hope it might be their long-lost pet.

When the Griffiths met the rangers' boat bringing the dog to the mainland they found that it was indeed Sophie Tucker on board.

"We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage and they let her out and she just about flattened us," Griffith told the national AAP news agency.

"She wriggled around like a mad thing."

Griffith said that when the dog was first spotted on the island she had been in poor condition.

"And then all of a sudden she started to look good and it was when the rangers had found baby goat carcasses so she'd started eating baby goats," she said.

Sophie Tucker, a member of the Australian cattle dog breed, had been quick to readjust to the comforts of home, complete with airconditioning, Griffiths said.

"She surprised us all. She was a house dog and look what she's done, she's swum over five nautical miles, she's managed to live off the land all on her own," Griffiths said.

"We wish she could talk, we truly do."

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