lady bug on leaf (f/8)
Originally uploaded by mikefranklin.
Great macro shot!
This church was built in 1875 and is a typical example of rural New Zealand churches of its era. It is still in use and beautifully preserved and maintained outside and in. We couldn't get inside because it was locked, but the interior woodwork is a must for a return visit!
After taking my Mom on her Saturday errands, we stopped by the KFC and each got a chicken breast combo meal, for lunch. After lunch, I got the saw out from under the living room couch and cleared the fallen limbs off of the Ford. Then, I removed the battery and took it to a nearby service station to have it charged. Right now, I'm waiting for a couple hours to pass before going back to get the battery.
About an hour and a half passed, and I returned to the service station. A man there told me that the battery would barely take a charge. I took it back to my Mom's house, put it into her car, and tried to crank it. It wouldn't start. Looks like I'll have to buy a new battery. Rats.
Last Friday, I needed to cash a check. I only had some loose change in my pocket: no bills. So I went to the bank. It was closed. Huh! I figured that the branch I went to must have gone out of business. Maybe they didn't have enough customers at that location. So, I went to another branch. When I saw that it, too, was closed, it finally dawned on me that all banks were closed because it was Veterans' Day! Aren't I observant?
I really needed to buy some gasoline, because the last time that I had fueled my car was last Tuesday, and I take my Mother to do her errands on Saturdays. I didn't want to run out of gas with my eighty-four year old Mother in my car, and, oh, yes, did I mention that the gas gauge in my car is kaput? I asked her if she could lend me some money for gas, just until the following Monday, when I could cash a check, and she gave me a Thanksgiving Day gift of five twenty-dollar bills! Thanks, Mom!
Anyway, today, I did go to the bank, to cash the check that I had written last Friday, and I pulled into one of the drive-up lanes behind an SUV. Well, the driver obviously didn't have the paperwork, e. g., a deposit slip, necessary to conduct her/his business, because I saw the cannister come back with something in it. Then, the individual spent what seemed like an eternity filling the form(s) out, before sending them back.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that it is expected that bank patrons are to have their paperwork prepared before presenting themselves in front of a teller. As a matter of fact, I have seen signs to that effect posted in banks, beside tellers' windows. I wouldn't dream of inconveniencing somebody by making them wait while I filled out a deposit or withdrawal slip. On more than one occasion, I have parked, gone inside the bank, gotten a slip, and filled it out, before returning to my car and proceeding to the drive-up window, just to keep such a scenario from occurring.
Why can't other people be as considerate as I am? In other news, I'm extremely proud of my humility!
Since my brother and his family (wife, eleven-year-old twin girls, and an ancient cat) will be coming to visit during the week of Thanksgiving, I decided to wash the mountain of dirty clothes that I have been collecting in the kitchen. Actually, I only decided to wash one-half of the mountain this weekend; the other half, I plan to wash next weekend.
This weekend, I took all of my t-shirts and briefs, no dark clothing, so that I could use bleach, and get them really white. Even though I took only one-half of the clothes that needed washing, I still was going to need to use the "industrial strength, heavy duty, extremely huge" washer, the one that takes five dollars in quarters.
Before I could get going, however, I first needed to purchase some laundry detergent and some fabric softener sheets, so I went to the grocery store. Since a Books-a-Million was in the same shopping center as the grocery store, and since I had neglected to bring The New York Times crossword with me to pass the time, I went into the bookstore, looked around for a while and purchased a copy of Crime and Punishment.
Then, I went to the coin-operated laundry. Wouldn't you know it, the only five dollar washer was in use! Bah! I drove to a not-too-distant Walgreen's, in search of some chips, for a snack. Unfortunately, they didn't have Sun Chips, that type that I had a craving for. I drove on, ending up at a convenience store, which did have them. By the time that I got back to the laundry, another patron, a big, fat guy, whose butt crack I could see when he bent over, was loading his clothes into the big washer. Crap!
I drove downtown, to a convenience store which I knew had a cappuccino machine and got myself a cup. While I was out, I saw a red pickup truck with a bumper sticker which read: "Sorry I didn't make it to church. I was busy practing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian." When I returned to the laundry, I only had to wait about five minutes for the coveted washer. Yay! I loaded up my clothes and sat down to enjoy my coffee.
After I divided the clean clothes into two dryers, I opened my book and was able to read ten pages of it before the clothes were not only clean, but dry, too. I got back home at approximately twelve-thirty, which, since I had left at a little before ten o'clock, made my outing between two and one-half and three hours.
The government of North Korea continues to try to blackmail the United States into giving it aid.
[North Korean negotiator] Kim pressed Pyongyang's demand for an end to the U.S. sanctions imposed in October on eight companies accused of trafficking in nuclear, missile or biological weapons technology.
It was unclear whether those sanctions would have any effect, since the United States already bans trade with North Korea. But sanctions also were applied to a Macau bank that dealt with North Korean companies, disrupting Pyongyang's commercial activities.
"These kind of sanctions are in violation of the joint statement we have adopted and are going to hinder the implementation of the commitment we have made," Kim told reporters outside the North's Embassy.
Here's a news flash: The "commitment" referred to by Kim isn't worth the paper it is printed on.
French President Jacques Chirac swore that he would put an end to the lawlessness which has been raging in his country for eleven consecutive days. Since he has already been vowing to stop the violence, what makes anybody think that this time he really means it?
A Texas woman was allegedly robbed and killed by three hurricane evacuees she befriended after meeting them at her church, according to Pasadena, Texas, police.
Betty Blair, 77, was strangled to death inside her Pasadena home Friday and her bound body was discovered by her daughter Friday evening, said Pasadena Police spokesman Vance Mitchell.
Three suspects -- all described as hurricane evacuees -- were arrested Friday evening after police located the dead woman's missing car through its OnStar electronic tracking system, Mitchell said.
The three had been hired by Blair to do odds jobs around her home, including cutting her grass, Mitchell said.
Should states facilitate abortions for inmates?
"It is not the prison that has imposed the burden, but the prisoner's violation of the law that resulted in her incarceration that has imposed the burden," [Missour] Attorney General Jay Nixon's office said.
Thirty-six terrorists killed, so far (two days), in Operation Iron Fist.
"There's only so many of them out there," [Marine commander Col. Stephen W.] Davis said of the insurgents. "The enemy has a problem out here every time he shows up he gets bombs dropped on his head ... What you're seeing now is the dissolution of their network."
I have been reading some articles on the Internet about how some of the developed nations are planning to forgive up to $55,000,000,000.00 in debt owed by some of the underdeveloped nations, and that's fine. What I am wondering, however, is this: Where is the money going to come from to pay off these debts?
What's that you say? The governments of the world's richest nations? But governments, themselves, don't have any money of their own. The only money that they have is money that is given to them, or coerced by them, from their own citizens. Isn't that correct?
Isn't it also true that the United States of America is generally conceded to be the "richest" country in the world? The individuals of which country, do you suppose, will shoulder the bulk of the burden of debt forgiveness? If you answered "the United States of America," how would you reconcile that with the suggestion by Jan Egeland, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, that the United States is "stingy" with relief funds?
I'm just sayin'.
I am an American, and I am grateful that I am; however, the British are more reasonable than we, when it comes to free speech. Witness an article entitled "Universities told to spy on student extremists," appearing on TimesOnline. Although the title of the article is unnecessarily shrill, the contents prove to be enlightening.
“Following the London bomb attacks in July, we are all having to re-examine certain policies. One is how to respond to those using the freedoms of our society to promote terrorism and violence,” Ms Kelly said. “Freedom of speech or expression is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals enjoy. And higher education is a bastion of those values.
“However, freedom of speech does not mean tolerance of unacceptable behaviour. I believe that higher education institutions need to identify and confront unacceptable behaviour on their premises and within their communities.” Universities needed to be alert to the activities of student groups and “unafraid to set their own boundaries” about what was acceptable, using the law as support. “That means informing the police where criminal offences are being perpetrated or where there may be concerns about possible criminal acts,” she said.
“Universities and colleges have a duty to support and look after the moderate majority as they study, to ensure that those students are not harassed, intimidated or pressured.”
In an article entitled "Government credit cards for Katrina expenses draw scrutiny," the Associated Press reports.
About 250,000 federal employees have government credit cards, which typically have a purchase limit of $2,500. At the request of the Bush administration, Congress increased the credit line to $250,000 as part of a massive Katrina recovery bill approved last week. The aim is to make it easier to speed aid to victims.
This opens up a huge avenue for fraud, much greater than in the past, when the limit was only $2,500 per card.
I live in Jackson, Mississippi, which is approximately 150 miles north of the Mississippi gulf coast and 200 miles north of New Orleans, Louisiana, areas which both suffered tremendously from hurricane Katrina and her aftermath.
The company that I work for closed at eleven o'clock Monday morning, August 29. Electric power failed at my home at 1:40 in the afternoon, and the storm blew through Jackson that night.
Tuesday morning, before I became aware of the extent of the problems, I drove in to work, arriving at 7:45 am. There was no one there. Since my boss is always there by that time, I turned around and went back home.
Tuesday night was very hot, and I did not sleep well. Wednesday, I opened four windows, windows which had probably not been opened for fifteen years. There was not much of a breeze, but at least some air was circulating, and I slept a little better.
Wednesday, I telephoned the company that I work for. There were only three people there, and the boss said not to worry about coming in until Thursday, when, he said, we would try to operate as normally as possible.
Today is Thursday, September 1. The last time that I filled my car with gasoline was last Friday, and, since the fuel gauge does not work, I am becoming concerned about running out of gas. Many of the gas stations are out of gas, and there are long lines at the stations that do have a supply. A television report told of a line of 200 cars at one gas station, which didn't even have any gas. There was a 50/50 chance of it receiving a tanker truck today.
Some gas stations that do have a supply have been closed to ordinary citizens, the gas being reserved to emergency vehicles only. The stations that supplies our company vehicles, while currently out, told my boss that they were expecting a delivery of fuel today, and that they would telephone to him before the tanker got there.
Also, I got a report that a station near my home is expecting a delivery today, but, as yet, I haven't been able to reach them by telephone.
I know nothing about the legal system in Saudi Arabia; however, if there are trials, if there are witnesses, and if the witnesses are required to swear an oath to tell the truth, do you for one minute think that the Saudi authorities would allow a Christian to swear the oath on a Bible? I didn't think so.
Yet, in the United States, where it has been the custom for witnesses to swear an oath to tell the truth on the Bible, some radical Muslims demand the "right" to swear the oath on the Koran.
There is an old saying, which I would recommend to those Muslims--"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
Which is the more important of the two: rights or responsibilities? Or are they equally important? Interesting questions. Michael Coren, writing in the TorontoSun.com, gives it to us straight:
The mass of our social difficulties, the majority of our seemingly insoluble problems, arise from the fact that in the Western world (and particularly in Canada) we have engineered a rights-based society rather than a responsibility-based one.
The social contract between the governed and the government, between authority and citizenry, has become degraded and unbalanced. Instead of asking what our duty or responsibility might be in any given situation, we demand to know what are our privileges and rights.
Two or three days ago, during a rain storm, a violent gust of wind blew out a large, glass pane in the front of the building that houses the company that I work for. The area has been patched with plywood, until the glass can be replaced.
Read Dr. Thomas Sowell's latest column on TownHall.com. Here's a sample:
At current wages for low-level jobs and current levels of welfare, there are indeed many jobs that Americans will not take.
The fact that immigrants -- and especially illegal immigrants -- will take those jobs is the very reason the wage levels will not rise enough to attract Americans.
This is not rocket science. It is elementary supply and demand. Yet we continue to hear about the "need" for immigrants to do jobs that Americans will not do -- even though these are all jobs that Americans have done for generations before mass illegal immigration became a way of life.
It seems that lawmakers in the United States are just now figuring out something that we citizens have been knowing for quite some time.
A number of lawmakers, former ambassadors and foreign policy experts who testified in a Washington hearing late last month asserted that the United States needs to wise up to the fact that China plans to become a superpower militarily, economically and politically — by any means necessary.
This means, of course, that the Bush administration ought to preempt fate and suspend the visa-waiver program established in 1986 for Western Europeans. It is true that consular officers were a poor frontline defense before 9/11 against Muslim extremists trying to enter the United States. But the United States would be safer with some screening mechanism, however imperfect, before Europeans arrive at our borders. The transatlantic crowd in Washington--the bedrock of America's foreign-policy establishment--might rise in high dudgeon at the damage this could do to U.S.-European relations. The State Department's European and consular-affairs bureaus might add that they no longer have the staff to handle the enormous number of applicants. Ignore them. American-European relations were just fine when we required all Europeans to obtain visas before crossing our borders. Consular officers are among the most overworked personnel in the U.S. government. So draft poorly utilized personnel from the Department of Homeland Security until the consular corps at the State Department can grow sufficiently. Issuing visas to Europeans would be an annoying inconvenience for all; it would not, however, be an insult. Given the damage one small cell of suicidally inclined radical Muslim Europeans could do in the New York City or Washington metro or on Amtrak's wide-open trains, it's not too much to ask.
And then there's the problem of saying that an effort isn't worthwhile if murderers oppose it. Nobody ever says it's not worth prosecuting the mob after mobsters murder policemen or judges in an attempt to intimidate them. And yet, even Blair is buying into the argument that if it were true that the London bombings were the result of the Iraq invasion, then the Iraq invasion would have been wrong. By this logic, it was wrong to declare war on Hitler because of the Blitz.
Of the attacks, Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Ian Blair said, "These are criminal acts and we are in pursuit of a set of criminals." WRONG! The acts are acts of terrorism, and the Yard is in pursuit of a set of terrorists. There is a fundamental difference between a criminal and a terrorist, and Sir Ian knows what it is.
FOX News has an article entitled, "Coping With Psychological Effects of Terror." Here's an excerpt:
"The use of terrorism as a tactic is predicated upon inducing a climate of fear that is incommensurate with the actual threat," says Middle Eastern historian Richard Bulliet of Columbia University.
Ergo, the logical thing to do is to realize what level of fear would be appropriate and not allow one's fear to escalate above that level. Thus, terrorism is defeated. Q. E. D.
It wouldn't matter if all nine Justices of the Supreme Court were women, if these were the nine best people available. But to decide in advance that you were going to appoint a woman and then look only among women for a nominee was a dangerous gamble with a court that has become dangerous enough otherwise.
This photograph is of the coffee table in the living room of my Mother's house. I had just mowed her back yard, my clothes were soaking wet with sweat, and I had emptied my pockets, prior to changing into some dry clothes. Well, not everything on the table was from my pockets, e. g., the battery-powered electric shaver, the paperback book (about which I will have more to say in a later post), the glass bowl, and the cardboard box.
Some of the things that did come out of my pockets (from bottom-center, clockwise): my wallet, some cash (coins and bills), my cellular telephone, keys, more coins, a red comb, a ballpoint pen, my checkbook, a yellow pencil, my belt, my glasses, and a fingernail clipper.