This blog contains my thoughts and feelings only. It IS titled, "The Daily Life of Carol: My Thoughts, Rants & Raves." They do not represent those of anyone else. While I still can't imagine how my little blog is making the rounds locally, it is mine and mine only. If you are going to be offended or feel it necessary to whine or complain to those completely unassociated to me and my blog, stop reading and find something else to do with your time.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Book Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Max Brooks is a genius. His World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War is the best zombie book ever. Ever. It was suggested to me by a Zombier {you know, somebody who is into everything about zombies}. Vampires have always been my preferred undead, but his enthusiasm about World War Z made me want to read it. Definitely worth it!

A-m-a-z-i-n-g book. 10 years after a worldwide zombie war, a journalist interviews survivors. This book made a zombie war and its outcome totally believable. My favorite is the survival story of Colonel Christina Eliopolis at Parnell Air National Guard Base, Tennessee. She was flying a resupply mission to a safe zone from Phoenix, Arizona to Tallahassee, Florida. Her plane crashes in the swamps of Louisiana. Her path out is filled with zombies. I loved her story, with a surprising twist at the end. There were many, many great parts of this book, but her story is really compelling.

This is a fantastic "historical" fiction book as well as a zombie book. Put aside any preconceived zombie notions and read this book!!!

P.S. World War Z is currently being filmed by Marc Forster. Brad Pitt stars as a journalist. The release is 2013. I cannot imagine anybody making a movie as good or better than the book. It will be interesting to see what parts of the book they filmed and which parts were left out. Do yourself a huge favor and read the book before seeing the movie. The complete story is in the book.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

DIY Homemade No-Grate Liquid Laundry Detergent

The blogger that I've learned the most from is One Good Thing by Jillee. She's totally awesome. When I need a "homemade" recipe, I check Jillee's website. Here's the no-grate liquid laundry detergent that I've learned from her. It smells great. I like to use this recipe even for mopping the floors or washing dishes by hand. My husband recently commented that the house smells so nice since I started making my own detergent. This is what he is smelling around the house! This is my go-to universal recipe....... Thanks, Jillee!!

3 Tablespoons 20-Mule Team Borax {all-natural laundry booster and multi-purpose household cleaner}
3 Tablespoons Arm & Hammer Washing Soda {not baking soda}
2 Tablespoons Dawn Dish Detergent

Pour all ingredients in a one gallon jug. {I use an old orange juice jug}. Pour 4 cups boiling* water into the jug. Swish until ingredients are dissolved in the liquid. Let liquid cool. Then fill almost to the top with cold water. The bubbles will overflow out of the bottle. You can pick a scented Dawn Dish Detergent. Dawn works the best because it gets grease out. {Totally.}

*I cheat and save time by using my hottest tap water. I just fill nearly to the top with hot water, swish, and then let cool. You use a cup per laundry load. {Although you may use more or less depending on your preference and laundry type. Stinky teenage boys, one cup!}

Check out Jillee's blog. You'll definitely find neat ideas and helpful hints:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Book Review: The Story of an Arranged Marriage

The Story of an Arranged Marriage by Aliya Anjum and Alia Anjum is a 9,600 word short story. At 62 pages, it's a very quick read. That's the best that I can say about this book. 

The main character is Menaal, a 30-year-old Muslim woman living in Pakistan. She's well-educated and a successful owner/editor of a popular magazine...oh, and gorgeous, of course. Her father has significant cardiac issues. Worrying about the future of their daughter with the father so ill, her parents arrange her marriage with her father's best friend's youngest son. Hamid is 33 and lives in the United States. He works as a Project Manager for a prestigious computer firm in Philadelphia for the last 11 years.

Menaal is a spoiled, selfish brat and a snob. She objects to marriage with Hamid because he's beneath her station. She went to private schools; he went to public schools. Etc. She appears to be upper-middle class while he's just regular middle class. {Oh, no!!} Amazingly, she eventually agrees to the marriage, but then complains the entire story about Hamid and his family. "She received a gaudy gold ring from her mother-in-law. It was a far cry from the diamond solitaire she had always pictured as an engagement gift." She constantly compares Hamid, his family, and her wedding to those of her brother and her friends.

The only saving grace to this book at all is Hamid. He's a kind, gentle, thoughtful, caring, and respectful gentleman. He deserves better than Menaal. He asks nothing of her, but gives her everything to make her feel comfortable, welcome and, well, loved. It takes her three months before she appreciates anything about him. And, that's only when she's looking at her wedding pictures. She notes a woman sitting next to Hamid and suddenly feels jealous. She decides not only to be his wife, but a decent human-being as well. Yesh.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Live to Make a Difference by Max Lucado

Max Lucado is one of my favorite all-time authors. Yet, it's been years since I've read any of his books. Thank goodness for my Kindle! I was searching through Amazon looking for books to download and came across Live to Make a Difference by Max Lucado. Apparently it's the Cliff Notes of Outlive Your Life: Your Were Made to Make a Difference. But, I wasn't in the mood for a longer book; I wanted a short read, and Live to Take a Difference was exactly what I needed.

It's a very short read, about 30 minutes. It gave me the uplifting and encouraging highlights of Outlive Your Life. It was a nice, quick reminder of  how to make a difference in other people's lives, as well as how we are actually making that difference in other people's lives. It's not as hard as you'd think; it's the little things we do everyday. It was just the spiritual boost I needed. Seriously. 

I'll read Outlive Your Life soon, along with Max's other books that I haven't read....and, maybe I should reread the ones I haven't read in so many years. But, if you're looking for a place to start with Max Lucado, I'd pick this one - short and sweet, and oh so worth it.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Book Review: The Bridge

The hardest part of a book review is not to give too much away. That's how I feel about The Bridge by Kay Pratt. I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Fei Fei (a blind, five-year-old orphan boy). I especially enjoyed reading this one after Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, where we're first introduced to Fei Fei. It was a short story and a quick read, and the book ends on such an uplifting note. 

Here's part of the product description from Amazon: "In present day China, an old woman's house sits opposite an ancient bridge. Not just any bridge--but a special one because it has always been known as The Lucky Bridge. In olden days it was said that to walk over it...would bring the traveler good luck. Because of its reputation, over the years it has also become a popular place for young mothers to their children. .... When no one else will, Jing steps in to prevent the children from frostbite, abuse and hunger, and then she delivers them safely to the orphanage."

It was lovely to read from the perspective of Jing. By painting such a vivid picture of the old woman's life, we can understand how and why Jing's situation with Fei Fei is so compelling, and difficult for her. Of course, the greatest moment is when Jing shares an old Chinese folk tale about a frog living inside a well. I won't share that particular tale now - you should definitely read it yourself - But, I will share the story of the frog with my sons....what a beautiful way to introduce a child to the big world we live in. Thank you, Kay. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage

I read this amazing book Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt. It was difficult to put into words how I felt about the book and Kay's nearly five years helping China's orphans. The following is an Amazon posting by the adoptive father of one of the little babies that Kay cared for in China. He definitely described my feelings about this book. I will read Kay's other books about life in China, and I hope you do to.......

"Kay, This is Le Men's dad. (Le Men was a heart baby in the orphanage described in this book.)

I wanted to write to you and let you know what an astounding service you have done in the publishing of your book. You have provided a glimpse into a world that many, including myself, are unable to fathom and terrified of realizing really exists. As the father of eight, I love my children more desperately than most people can comprehend. And so, it is difficult for me to comprehend situations of abuse and neglect like you describe. I would not have had the strength and determination that you showed to continue returning. I have great confidence in my skills and ability to succeed in many areas in this world. In the battle you faced, I am ashamed to say I would have failed. My love for children would not have been sufficient to overcome my weaknesses.

You asked in your book how God could let these children suffer. I believe in a loving and compassionate God. But, I also believe that we have free will and that nature will play its role of random change within our lives. The whims of men and culture created the situations you describe, not God. God provides the canvas and the paint. We provide the hand. He gently guides the brush when we ask Him.

Xiao Gou
Feb. 2012
As I read your book I started out with anger as I read of the suffering of the children. As I read deeper into your story I began to understand, as you did, that the staff in the orphanage were buffering themselves emotionally in a situation that was largely a no win situation. It brought to mind stories from the Civil War and Vietnam where doctors quickly amputated limbs to save a life because there were not sufficient resources, personnel or supplies to save limbs or lives of all those injured. Better to save something than to lose it all. But, it takes an emotional buffering to operate in such situations as you describe. I do not think I could have faced it.

Until I read your book, I did not understand the linkage my wife and I truly played in adopting our four lovely children from China. People tell us 'what a wonderful thing you have done'. We reply 'we did it out of selfishness, an overwhelming desire to have more children in our lives and our family'. I am sure many think we are being modest, but this is very true for us. We never approached adoption as a means of rescuing a child. We were driven by an incredible need to love children. Frankly, it was a need that neither of us fully understood then or now. We did not know of the desperation of the children other than through fleeting comments or inferences or rumors.

Now, I understand that God was guiding my wife and me in ways we did not recognize. We were definitely responding to your prayers without knowing of you or the influence your prayers were having in our lives. I know in my heart that God spoke to us and guided us even as you spoke to Him. So, have faith that God does listen to prayers and does work in ways we can not fathom.

Kay Bratt, Author,
Child Advocate, and
Woman Extraordinaire!
Thank you for all you did for our lovely Le Men. He is truly an astounding boy and will grow into an amazing man. He is loaded with love and compassion and he continues to teach us and expand us each day. These are things that you made possible through your determination to save a child. We have purchased an additional copy of your book to keep for him until he is old enough to read it and understand your blessings, sacrifices and determination that made his life possible.

Thank you for what you have done and the sacrifices you have made. Your incredible determination resulted in simple acts of love and kindness that can change a world. I am sure the Lord will bless and keep you and yours."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Volunteering in the classroom.

Update: 9/24/12 - The following are my thoughts and feelings only. They do not represent those of the band teacher or the school. While I still can't imagine how my little blog is making the rounds locally, it is mine and mine only. If you are going to be offended or feel it necessary to complain to the school, stop reading and find something else to do with your time.

This week, I assisted the band teacher at my son's middle school. It was insane. Each student had four papers for their parents to complete and return by the end of the week. Four days....four days! And, some students still didn't have their paperwork returned on-time or their parents completed only a portion of it. To save paper, the teacher printed back-to-back. Much of the paperwork was missing page two. Why? The teacher also sent home instructions that all four pages, with their titles, needed to be completed. Why did so many parents think "1, 3, 4...okay, I'm finished!"

Then, there were the parents who wrote notes on the paperwork to the teacher. Let's see, there were the stupid ones..... "It says to go to website and read the handbook. So, what should I do?" Hum, go to website and read the handbook?? "I checked off that I would like be a chaperone on field-trips. What does this entail?" Hum, that you chaperone on a field-trip?? "Why do I have to sign a permission slip for Billy to go on field-trips?" Hum, maybe we cannot take Billy off-campus with your p-e-r-m-i-s-s-i-o-n?? Maybe you wouldn't want your child to leave campus without your p-e-r-m-i-s-s-i-o-n??

Much to my surprise were the nasty comments. My favorite was the dad who complained that he sent three emails to the teacher last year and never received the band notification emails in return. Hum, your child was in band for an entire school year and you didn't once bother to schedule a teacher's conference?? Or, how about a quick phone call?? How about checking your spam folder?? How about providing a legible email address to the teacher?! I know...I inputted all the parental email addresses for this school year. For this particular dad I could not read his handwriting, so I asked his daughter to read his address for me. Apparently, she didn't know it and couldn't read his handwriting either. So, she guessed what she thought it was. I told her that I would input that into the address book. If  he doesn't get the test email this weekend then something's wrong and we need to work through the problem to get it fixed. Like, checking your spam folder. 

So, I sent a test email. It had paragraphs numbered 1-4. Clearly from the email - or so I thought - no response was required. She has 325 students. Most students provided email addresses for both parents. {Guilty!!} The parents must know their child is not the only one in band. Okay. But, do some people really need to send a reply, "Thanks! Have a great weekend" or whatever?? Paragraph two said that "Paperwork was due this week. If your student is missing any paperwork, he/she has been advised and an additional copy of the paperwork needed was sent home with them." Immediately, one parent replied, "Susie Lou turned in her papers this week. If she's missing anything, please let me know." Seriously??

Of course, there's the teenagers. They make a lot of noise, without their instruments. I certainly hope the noise switches to something that actually sounds like music when they all start playing. Band 2 and Band 3 were the most interesting ones. She asks them to warm up, and it sounds like a bunch of screeching monkeys.** Everybody can't start playing basic scales?? No, let's just blow thru our instruments and make the most obnoxious noise possible. 

I do not know how this teacher does it. She's so sweet, and kind, and nice, and polite yet she rules those classes with an iron fist...without seeming like she's doing it. Unreal. If you do not appreciate your child's teachers, or hear someone complaining about the public school system - then spend a day or two - or a whole friggin' week - helping out in the classroom.

**These remarks were made during the first week of school. Of course, the kids are better, and they've learned to respect their instruments more. Again, if you're going to be offended by my personal thoughts and feelings, read something else. It's like turning the dial if you don't like the television program. Or, better yet, why don't you volunteer at the obviously have a lot of time on your hands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Book Review: Like Part of the Family

Like Part of the Family is an outstanding short story by Jonathan Maberry. It's only available on ebook,* but it's totally worth the 99 cents. It was a nice 30-minute read with a very good ending.

Being a short story, it left me hungry for so, so much more. Like his Joe Ledger books, I want - no need - this character to have full-blown character development in a series.

Jonathan Maberry is masterful... He knows how to reel the reader into his story and eagerly awaiting the next book. Although I must say, Maberry's writing is brilliant. If you don't want to read a longer Maberry just yet. Read this entertaining short story for a taste of what's to come. You'll beg for the next book too.

*8/19/12 Update: Check out the comment by Jonathan Maberry himself! How cool is that?! Note that the book is available in hard copy: And if anyone wants a print version of LIKE PART OF THE FAMILY, it's included in the recent anthology BEST NEW WEREWOLF TALES.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Romney and Ryan defend their stance on Medicare, but CBS won't play it.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan sat down with "Face the Nation" anchor Bob Schieffer for their first joint interview. Schieffer brought up the headline of the The Miami Tribune: "Ryan Could Hurt Romney in Florida," with subtitle: "Paul Ryan's Plans to retool Medicare pose challenges in Florida."

Romney's said, "Think of that, by the way. There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare. What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors. No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, “We’re going to give you a bigger choice.” In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That’s how we make Medicare work down the road.”

60 Minutes didn’t even air Ryan’s response:

Ryan added, “My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida. Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late ’90s.”

If you are 65-years-old or older and currently receiving Medicare benefits, Ryan’s proposed budget would not affect you. His proposal will “gradually increase Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67,” but that would not start until 2023, still 11 years away. Romney’s proposals for Medicare also will not affect those retired or approaching retirement.

Do not believe the biased media's smoke, mirrors and lies. Educate yourself. Get two other sources to back up what they're discussing. How about the video footage of Paul Ryan explaining to Obama how Obama's so-called budget was just gimmicks, talking money from one program into another, and then the first program, etc. One favorite of mine is Paul Ryan at the Health Care Summitt:

Here's the remaining portioning of the interview:

California Attorney General Sues “Help Hospitalized Veterans” Charity

Government and private watchdogs are on the heels of another large charity. The charity Help Hospitalized Veterans, a California charity, is accused of scamming millions. One of those watchdogs, Charity Navigator, similarly outed Soldiers' Angels with a 1-star financial rating in 2012.

Many reports and statements are unfolding in the media, such as:

"At the same time, it has ranked for more than a decade at the bottom of lists by watchdog groups that rate nonprofit organizations based on their financial management and abilities to use most of their donations toward their causes. CharityWatch says about 35% of Help Hospitalized Veterans' funds go toward programs to aid veterans. The recommended standard is about 65%."

Roger Chapin, founder of two charities created to
help military veterans, appears at a hearing of the
House Oversight Committee in 2008. 
(Sarah L. Voisin  /  Washington Post via Getty Images)
On August 9, 2012, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a civil lawsuit seeking the removal of officers and directors of Help Hospitalized Veterans. The complaint alleges that those running the organization engaged in self-dealing, paid excessive executive compensation and engaged in fraudulent fundraising and other unlawful activities. {Examples cited include a lump-sum retirement payment of $1.96 million to former president Roger Chapin in 2009 and golf club memberships totaling $80,000 for board members.} The lawsuit also seeks to recover more than $4.3 million in funds improperly diverted from Help Hospitalized Veterans. Those funds were meant to support several programs serving veterans and active-duty military, including providing arts and craft kits to hospitalized veterans. Instead, they were used to enrich the organization’s officers and fundraisers.;

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Joe Ledger Books by Jonathan Maberry

I am totally, completely, 100% addicted to books written by Jonathan Maberry...and I haven't even read them all. I thoroughly enjoy the Joe Ledger books. Ledger is the main character of the books. The books are action/adventure horror fiction. It is a wickedly cool combination. 

Joe Ledger, a Baltimore detective assigned to a counterterrorism task force, is recruited by the government to lead a new ultrasecret rapid-response group called the "Department of Military Sciences." His job as team leader is to battle monsters, mutants, genetically-altered humans and whatever nastiness is thrown his way. {I don't want to give too much away.} Ledger is the uber-fighting machine. A warrior's Warrior. He's Rambo, Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne all rolled into one, and then better than that.

The first book is Patient Zero. If you're a fan of zombie books, then you already know what "Patient Zero" means. If you don't, read the book. "Chapter One: When you have to kill the same terrorist in one week, then there's either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world. And there's nothing wrong with my skill." Deliciously terrifying.

The second book is The Dragon Factory.  This might be the wildest and most difficult to describe novel as there is so much going on. The Dragon Factory steams along at a rapid pace (a global Extinction Clock heads each chapter) as two rival groups of evil genetic experimenters have defied the laws of nature . At the heart of the principle group of geneticists is a team of evil geniuses being led by the Nazi Master Race teachings of the infamous Josef Mengele.

The third book is The King of Plagues. A London hospital explodes, killing thousands. This act of terrorism is only the beginning as the group behind the explosion turns to bioweapons in an effort to unleash a modern version of the biblical Ten Plagues of Egypt. I enjoyed the idea of "the Seven Kings" as a secret society that manipulates events from the shadows. And, with what is happening in the world today, totally believable.

The fourth book is Assassin's Code. Each book gets better and better. This is my favorite so far. Vampires! Vampires with nuclear weapons! This is a freaking awesome book. Seriously. As much as I love Patient Zero, Assassin's Code is one step above. I don't know how to describe the wit, humor, complexity, human moments and surprises that go with each book in this series. It is all so well done and I look forward to each new installment that comes out each year... I hope this series never ends.

If you have a Kindle, don't miss Material Witness, also a Joe Ledger book. If you have never tried one of Maberry's books, this short story is a fantastic place to start. It gives you great look at the star of his Joe Ledger series and the type of excitement and mayhem you can expect from his books. I had forgotten how much I loved the series until I came across this ebook on Amazon.

The only complaint I have for this series is that Maberry releases only one per year. I have to wait until March 26, 2013, for Extinction Machine. I read Assassin's Code when it was released on April 10th. Only four months have passed, but it feels longer than a year. I'm on pins and needles waiting for more Joe Ledger action! And, yes, I have read each book more than once. Now, that I've written this review, I'll read Patient Zero and Assassin's Code yet again.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Afghan Fallen Heroes: Gray, Griffin, Kennedy Thompson

Sgt. Maj. Griffin
Our soldiers in Afghanistan {and other locations around the world} seem forgotten. I want to make sure they are recognized and remembered.....

On Tuesday, two gunmen wearing Afghan army uniforms killed a U.S. soldier and wounded two others in Paktia province in the east.

Also on Tuesday, the Taliban released a sickening video showing an Afghan soldier {who killed a U.S. soldier and injured two others} being welcomed back into the insurgent encampment. On May 11, 2012, the soldier – who the Taliban named as Mamood – turned on his American trainers and opened fire. First Lt. Alejo R. Thompson, 30, of Yuma, Arizona, a father of two young children, was killed in the ambush in eastern Afghanistan. Thompson was based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

First Lt. Thompson
On Wednesday, three U.S. soldiers and an American aid worker were also killed in the eastern province of Kunar, which lies along the volatile border with Pakistan where militants have hideouts. Two attackers wearing suicide vests detonated their explosives as a Nato foot patrol passed by the headquarters of the provincial government. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the killings. The Defense Department identified the three troops killed in Kunar as Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga.; Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y.; and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo., all based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

Air Force Maj. Gray
On Thursday, two Afghan soldiers tried to gun down a group of NATO troops outside a military base in eastern Afghanistan. No international forces were killed, but one of the attackers was killed as NATO forces shot back.

On Friday morning in Helmand province, in a green-on-blue shooting, an Afghan police commander invited at least three U.S. Special Forces soldiers to dinner at his outpost under the pretext of having a meeting to discuss security. {Special Forces soldiers are used in Afghanistan to train local police. These "green on blue" shootings are when the Afghans who Americans are tasked to train turn their weapons and target U.S. troops.} "During dinner, the police commander opened fire killing three and injuring one. The Taliban say the shooter fled and joined their forces. 

Army Maj. Kennedy

In another incident on Friday, NATO said a coalition service member died after an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan. The death brings to 19 the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan this month.

Also in Helmand province Friday, six Afghan civilians were killed when their car hit a roadside bomb.

P.S. If you discover names and photos of the other soldiers killed this week, please leave a comment and/or link so I may add to this post. Thank you.

The Public Affairs office of the 4th Brigade 4th Infantry Division shared this on Facebook:

“There has been some inaccurate reporting from unauthorized sources about recent events in the Task Force Mountain Warrior AO. As many are aware, the Brigade Command Sergeant Major, Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, 45, of Laramie, Wyo., Maj. Thomas Kennedy, the brigade Fire Support Coordinator, Maj. Walter D. Gray, USAF and Mr. Ragaei Abdelfattah, USAID were recently killed during a suicide attack in Kunar Province. Certain media outlets have reported that the Brigade Commander has been seriously wounded. We can confirm that Col. Mingus is unharmed, although he was present during the attack. There were, however, other leaders and soldiers harmed in the attack, which is a favored TTP of an enemy who cares little about who he harms in the pursuit of his goals. We are respecting the privacy of those wounded until they are prepared to release the specific information on the attack and their injuries. Please keep the soldiers, leaders, families and loved ones of the fallen and wounded in your thoughts and prayers as we remain focused on the mission of securing the provinces of Eastern Afghanistan and training and partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces. All of these brave men were committed to this task, and we will continue to honor their service and commitment by seeing the task accomplished. "Led By Love of Country." -- Maj. Thomas, BCT PAO.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Generous community gives school supplies.

I am always astonished by the generosity of the congregation of St. Stephen's Catholic Community in Winter Springs, Fla. Today was back-to-school "shopping" for those who needed help with school supplies. I wasn't sure how we were going to afford three new backpacks, a scientific calculator, and the pile of school supplies requested every year. I burst into tears when I walked into the cafeteria and saw the tables stacked with school supplies. Everything was brand new. I even found the scientific calculator my youngest who need in middle school.

To my even greater surprise was the table stacked with backpacks. The boys (15, 13 and 11) go thru at least two backpacks per school year. If you do not have children in school, then you may not know that they are no longer assigned lockers. In fact, the schools don't even have them anymore. So, the kids are forced to lug ridiculously heavy backpacks each school day. This wear-and-tear can quickly break zippers and rip holes in them. My 13-year-old's backpack consistently weighed 20+ lbs. last school year.

It is very difficult to ask for help when we're the ones who usually help others. It's not pride that keeps me from asking for help - It's embarassment. But, everything is always held in confidence. I wasn't going to write this point, but I am just so thrilled with the generosity of the people at St. Stephen's Catholic Community. That's probably why it's called "community" instead of "church." They contribute beyond the borders of their walls and parking lot. God bless you.

Steelworker's 2nd pro-Obama ad "whopper of a lie."

Joe Soptic, a a 62-year-old lifelong Democrat and union supporter, who worked at GST Steel in Kansas City for more than 20 years, makes yet another appearance in a pro-Obama ad titled “Understands.” The commercial was released on Tuesday by Priorities USA Action, the super PAC supporting the president's reelection campaign. Soptic this time blames Romney for the cancer death of his wife after he lost his health insurance when the steel plant closed.

Point-by-point, the one-minute ad contains omissions, deceptions or outright lies:
--Romney did not close the steel mill.
--Bain Capital's investment did not shut down GST Steel.
--Mrs. Soptic did not lose her healthcare because her husband lost his job.
--Mrs. Soptic died five years after the plant shut down.

Romney was gone from Bain seven years before Mrs. Soptic was diagnosed with cancer and died. When Mrs. Soptic was diagnosed and died in 2006, Romney was governor of Massachusetts and hadn't been in charge of Bain for seven years. The cancer was stage four by the time she went to the hospital for pneumonia. She died 22 days later.

Bain Capital's investment did not result in the closure of the GST Steel plant. Bain Capital was one of several investors that paid $80 million to buy the plant from Armco in 1993. At the time it was struggling, Armco lost $640 million that year. The American steel industry was in the midst of massive shutdowns and struggles as they lost ground to cheaper foreign imports, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bain folded the Kansas City plant, GST Steel, as result of the bankruptcy reorganization, the Journal reports. So who was in charge when GST went bankrupt?  None other than Obama bundler extraordinaire Jonathan Lavine, political power-player serving as a director of Bain at the time of the company’s bankruptcy and layoffs. Lavine joined Bain in 1993. He is currently Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer. He is also a major bundler for Barack Obama, raising between $100,000-$200,000 for his reelection. Shouldn’t Joe Soptic be blaming Jonathan Lavine for his wife’s death and, by extension, Barack Obama himself?  

Mrs. Soptic had her own health insurance for two years after GST shut down. At the time Soptic lost his job, he was earning about $41,000 a year. Mrs. Soptic also had a job working at a local thrift store that gave her health insurance, CNN reports. She kept the job, and the health benefits, until she was forced to quit in 2003 after an injury. But that's not what the commercial says.

Mrs. Soptic died five years after the plant shut down. Here's how the ad plays the timeline: Soptic describes losing his health insurance as a result of the plant closure. "A short time after that, my wife became ill," he says. However, it was not until 2006 -- five years after the plant closed -- that this happened, Soptic has admitted. The story doesn't end there for Soptic. The Washington Post reveals that his income is back to $46,000 a year -- the same he was making at the mill -- thanks to his pension from the company and his salary as a janitor. He has also re-married. He and his high school sweetheart wed four years after Mrs. Soptic died of cancer.

Why is Soptic upset? Primarily, it's because his pension was cut. In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Soptic clarified that his 401(k) was not affected but he lost $400 a month from his pension. But, in a January 2012 Reuters story, Soptic reportedly said that he only lost $283 per month from his pension.

So, Joe Soptic egregiously blames Romney for the cancer death of his first wife. Apparently, Soptic hasn't met John Morgan, a plaintiff's attorney in Orlando, Florida. In a radio ad, Morgan despicably said, "Friends ask me all the time 'John, did God give my loved one cancer?' And, I tell them that when my office reviews the medical records, we discover that it was the fault of the doctors, hospitals and nurses......"

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wisconsin Shooting

A vigil in downtown Milwaukee
for the dead and the wounded.
(Allen Fredrickson/Reuters)
"This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship," Mitt Romney said. "Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead." Wis. Gov. Scott Walker said, "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence. At the same time, we are filled with gratitude for our first responders, who show bravery and selflessness as they put aside their own safety to protect our neighbors and friends." [Emphasis mine.] I agree.

The first officer who responded to the scene was Lt. Brian Murphy, 51, who was shot and is now recovering in the hospital after a second surgery, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. The 21-year veteran of the police force is expected to survive. "He had been shot nine times -- one of them very serious in the neck area -- and he waved them off and told them to go into the temple to assist those in there," Edwards said. "If it was not for the gallant officers' timely intervention, many more would have perished."

Murphy underwent surgery at Froedtert Hospital, the main trauma center in the Milwaukee region, along with two other injured victims. All three of the victims remain in critical condition as of Monday morning, according to a representative from Froedtert Hospital.

Satwant Kaleka, the temple's
founder, died after trying to
tackle the gunman.
The Sikh faith was founded in the 15th century in South Asia and is the 5th-largest in the world, with more than 30 million followers. There are an estimated 500,000 or more Sikhs in the United States. The majority worldwide live in India. Sikhism includes belief in one God and that the goal of life is to lead an exemplary existence. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 by Islamist militants, Sikhs have sometimes been confused publicly with Muslims because of their turban headdress and beards.
One of the temple's committee members, Ven Boba Ri, told the Journal Sentinel that the shooting was very sad, and he has been fielding calls all morning from around the world, including India. "Sikhism is such a peaceful religion. We have suffered for generations, in India and even here."

We are deeply saddened by the senseless loss of lives and injuries. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

"Harry Reid, you're a dirty liar."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), in calling out Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for declining to release all but his most recent tax returns, suggested that Romney's late father, also a politician, would have been enbarrassed at his son's stance. The remark came as Reid quoted an unnamed former business acquaintance of Romney's as claiming the candidate had avoided taxes for a full decade -- that presumably being the reason he wouldn't want the returns to be made public. His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son," Reid said in an interview with the Huffington Post. Reid, however, did not name his source, admitted he had no real proof, and said he isn’t sure whether it’s true. He repeated the accusation on the Senate floor, a move Republicans characterized as politically motivated and inappropriate. Senators cannot be sued for defamation over statements made on the chamber floor.
Senator Lindsey Graham

On ABC's "This Week," Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus called Reid a "dirty liar" for claiming that someone told him Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for ten years. “As far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, you might want to go down that road, I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar...,” Preibus said Sunday. …. “This is just a made-up issue. The fact that we're going to spend any time talking about it is just ridiculous," he added. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also ripped into Reid on Sunday, telling CNN’s “State of the Union” that “what he [Reid] did on the Senate floor is so out of bounds. I think he’s lying about his statement of knowing something about Romney.” “Let's start talking about the real issues that matter to real people and I just can't let that pass. I just cannot believe that the majority leader of the United States Senate would take the floor twice, make accusations that are absolutely unfounded, in my view, and quite frankly making things up to divert the camp campaign away from the real issues,” he said.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell called Reid’s comments “reckless and slanderous.” “You know what we know about [Mr. Romney‘s] tax returns? He’s paid his taxes,” Mr. McDonnell said Sunday on CBS's “Face the Nation.” “He’s a very generous man, and he’s made a lot of money because he’s been successful.” The governor added that “people don’t care about Mitt Romney’s tax returns” and accused Democrats of making an issue of Mr. Romney’s tax returns simply to deflect attention from President Obama’s handling of the economy. “Why don’t we start talking about the things that are important?” he said.

Mr. Romney has refused to release more than one year of personal tax returns on the grounds that the information could be distorted and used against him. There is no legal requirement that presidential candidates release their taxes, although it has become the custom in recent decades. In response to Reid's accusations, Mr. Romney told Sean Hannity that Reid needs "to put up or shut up" about the allegations. “Harry, who are your sources?”

Jon Stewart is a partisan Democrat. If even he can’t ignore Reid’s defamation of Romney’s character, then you know just how baseless and reckless they are. Watch Stewart's video:

Friday, August 3, 2012

U.S. Army Airborne Soldier Brenden Salazar killed in Afghanistan

(Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel / August 3, 2012)
The funeral service for U.S. Army Airborne Soldier Brenden Salazar took place on Friday, August 3, 2012, at St. Stephens Catholic Church in Winter Springs, Fla. PFC Salazar was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He was 20 years old.

May God Bless the family and friends and comfort them in grief. I know personally that the loss is hard, but I also know that when we reach out to Christ Jesus, He will answer us and be with us. Brenden  died a hero doing what he knew that he had to do... defend our country and stand for Freedom throughout the world. For those who fought for it, Freedom has a flavor the protected will never know......

(Red Huber, Orlando Sentinel / August 3, 2012)
God bless all who made the ultimate sacrifice, and God be with all of the brave men and women who so willingly fight so that America can continue to be called "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Our hearts and prayers go out to the Salazar family and friends.

Now, something on the lighter side.

After this week's doom and gloom - I'm not talking about politics. I'm talking about NBC's mind-numbingly, immencely terrible Olympic coverage - I thought it was time for something on the lighter side. Cartoons!!
Martyn Turner, The Irish Times

Paul Thomas, The Daily Express
Martyn Turner, The Irish Times
Peter Broelman, Australia

Steve Kelley,  The Times-Picayune

Peter Brookes, The Times

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

China's Gold Medals Are Tarnished

The "coach" standing on the
legs of a very young gymnast
The training regimes of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and Romanians created Nadia Comaneci, Svetlana Boguinskaya, and Maria Gorokhovskaya. {For those of you who don't know, those are Olympic gymnasts.} Talented women no doubt, but all started their Olympic training started at very young ages (5 or 6) at government training centers. These countries were producing professional athletes for the Olympics.

In 1986, the Olympic charter changed and removed the distinction of "amateur" and "professional." Now, professionals from all countries could challenge the Soviet professionals. The Soviet Bloc dominated the Olympics from 1952-1991. The USSR dissolved in 1991. Romania's socialist republic was overthrown in 1989 with army-supported countrywide revolts. {Interestingly, Nadia Comaneci defected from Romania in 1989.

Now, it is the People's Republic of China's turn. It is the new Soviet Union of the Olympics. I'll leave out the Olympic political history of China, but they couldn't participate in the Olympics until the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. That's when they started to dominate the medals. Why? Same reason - government training centers. But, it appears the People's Republic of China's training centers are more brutal, and start with much younger children.

A young girl is pushed thru
a tough exercise routine.
The Chinese do not celebrate their winning gold medals. Watch the Olympic athletes leave a venue. You can't tell that they are the winning athletes. Their emotionless faces don't display happiness and joy of their great achievements. That's because they're programmed, literally, to win the gold. What happens to these athletes when they return to China? More specifically, what happens to the ones that don't win a gold medal. What about the badminton players who were disqualified and sent home. What happens if you bring shame upon yourself and China? I don't even want to think about the possibilities.

Children doing punishing exercises
"to toughen them up."
The Olympic Spirit is "building a peaceful and better world which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play." As long as there are countries like China that torture children into award-winning athletes there will be no peaceful and better world. How does their brutal training help to instill a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play?

Finally, there's Ye Shiwen, who astounded the swimming world by knocking more than a second off the world record for the 400m individual medley. There were immediate speculation of doping with steroids or other drugs. Ye insists that her "results come from hard work and training." Perhaps there are steroids or other doping methods being used. Or, perhaps she's a young girl who was beaten into becoming an Olympic champion.

About Me

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Winter Springs, Florida, United States
I am a stay-at-home mom to three boys (18, 16, 14), three Mini-Dachsunds, and a wife to an incredible husband {think MacGyver}. I am Catholic. I am passionate about making a difference in my world while still making a great life for my children and family. Besides being a mom, I am also a blogger for and I hope to make my voice heard and make a difference in my own way.