And 'sorry' no original pics this time. My three year old digital camera broke recently. That gives me a perfect excuse now to go get a newer better-er one! Sweet! I love digital gadgets.

1- Miguel and I trekked up to the Blue Ridge Mountains (see pic) on Friday for the annual Floyd Fest (see pic - a bluegrass festival - not a Pink Floyd festival). We brought the kayaks and stayed at a Virginia state park on Friday night. Let me tell you, VA state parks are aces! No wonder they have signs everywhere that say 'VA State Parks Voted Best in the U.S.'
Saturday morning we dropped the kayaks in the isolated mountain lake (see pic) and vegged and swam for 2 hours without a soul around. Packed up the gear then proceeded to get lost (thanx google maps!!!) on the 30 minute drive to the festival.

2- At the fest I tried my hand (and back) at a mechanical bull (see pic). Boy, there are some muscles I haven't used since Tish was last here! (attention would-be 'Tish defenders': I ran this joke past her yesterday and she thought it was funny. No need to come running and screaming at my crassness!) Seriously, has anyone given a go on one of those things (a 'bull', not a 'Tish')? Pretty fun stuff, though I recommend not drinking before getting on one. Learn from my experiences folks, that's what I'm here for.

3- Discovered a new band that was absolutely brilliant. The Duhks (pronounced 'Ducks'). If you like contemporary Appalachian/Irish folk then check them out. The two chicks in the band are serious eye candy too, so that's always a bonus.

4- Speaking of eye candy (see pic). I oughts to move to move up to the VA hills right now! I swear... I'm doing it! Since when did every smoking honey from 20-40 become a bluegrass fan? Thank Buddha I was ahead of the curve on that one! As if the gorgeous mountain backdrop wasn't enough of an optical fiesta!

5- Had the worst veggie burrito ever! They can't all be 'kind' I guess. Seriously, I had to stop the guy making it and ask what the hell that black liquid was he was about to squirt all over my meal. 'Soy sauce' he says. '?!' I reply, 'I'll just take it as it is, thanks.' Who puts soy sauce on a veggie burrito? Guess Mexican food is still working it's way up there. Next time I'll just stick with the local traditional cuisine 'opossum burgers and road kill surprise'.

6- Finally made it back down to Charlotte about 1am Sunday whereupon I used all day to recover.

7- Next concerts up are Allman Brothers, Soulive, and Allison Krauss with Union Station (featuring Jerry Douglas). And that should about tap my concert funds for the year.

8- Only 18 days 'till Aspen gets back! Her new bedroom set arrives Wednesday. Just bought her a hammock chair to go with it all. Pretty cool eh?



1- Alberto Gonzales had 9 U.S. attorneys fired in 2006
2- Congress inquires into 'why' they were fired (political reasons would be illegal)
3- Alberto Gonzales testifies that he doesn't know or doesn't remember why they were dismissed
4- Congress issues subpoenas to White House counsel Harriet Miers and White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten to testify as to their inside knowledge of the firings
5- Bush Administration forbids them to testify citing 'executive privilege'
6- Congress votes to issue Miers and Bolten 'contempt of Congress' citations for not obeying the subpoenas

And as pointed out by the writers of The Daily Show: Whose job is it to uphold Congressional citations?


So, in review... Alberto Gonzales is supposed to make sure that Miers and Bolten are punished for refusing to tell Congress what they know about Alberto Gonzales having broken federal law!

Can't we just throw everybody out and elect 2nd graders to do a better job of things?



Where to begin?...
Aspen's brother, Ed, 18, refused to follow his mother to Arizona, when she moved from one husband to yet another in July of last year. His stepfather agreed that Ed could continue to live with him as long as he obeyed some basic house guidelines.

So Ed agreed. And over the last year he has broken repeatedly every one of those guidelines. He was arrested a few months back for shoplifting. He has 'stolen' his stepfather's Jag time and again (even though he has his own Navigator), he has failed multiple drug tests when they are given to him, he has lied about where he is, what time he has to be at work, which friend's house he is staying over at, he has been caught having drinking parties at his house when his stepdad is away, the list goes on.

The irony in all this (I'll get to the tragedy part in a minute) is that Ed is furious with his mom for how selfishly she has acted over the last 2 years in having affairs (yes, plural), lieing to the family about where she was and what she was doing, etc, etc. But Ed has treated his stepdad over the last year exactly as he saw his mother treating him before she moved.

The tragedy in all of this is Ed has finally been kicked out of his stepdad's place. The locks on the door have been changed, the keys to his sweet ride have been taken. Everything that once was 'his' is no longer.

He has long made it known that he will not move to AZ to live with his mother (there are alot of negative feelings that need to be worked out there that only a professional could begin to moderate them through). He knew the gig was up as of Saturday night when he was caught lieing again about where he had been and whether or not he took the Jag while 'dad' was out of town.

He hasn't been heard from or seen since. He doesn't have his car, his cell phone is being cut off today sometime. He certainly has been staying at a friend's house and won't try to make contact or come home until Wednesday when he is due at work (waiter).

Surely when he realizes his stepdad is serious this time about no more chances he will try the 'poor pitiful me' routine, the 'give me one more chance' routine, and the 'this is so unfair - i don't deserve this' routine. These are all the same routines he watched his mother pull off for years before she was finally kicked out. They worked for her repeatedly and they have been reliable for Ed until now.

My guess is that within 2 weeks Ed will be on a plane to Phoenix, the only place where he'll be able to stay free of charge.

I give full support and kudos to his stepdad (Aspen's stepdad as well). He never wanted anything but the best for the kid he considered his own son. He had no reason other than love to allow Ed to continue to live at his place free of charge. He paid for his food, his car and health insurance, his car itself, his cell phone, etc. He knew it was in Ed's best interest to be able to graduate from his school with his friends, to play football for his varsity team, and to keep his job.

Meanwhile, Ed has done nothing but shit all over him with disrespect and contempt through dishonesty and deception. As if he didn't owe his stepdad's generosity one iota of gratitude.

Of course, the other victim in Ed's selfish behavior is his own dear sister. Aspen will now have lost both her mother and brother to their own selfish and thoughtless actions. She loves her brother immensely, he was everything to her.

I am confident that sooner or later down the line of his life, Ed will look back on this weekend and realize what a horrific mistake he made in getting himself thrown out of the house in which he wanted so badly to remain after his mother skipped town.

Good luck Ed. Your sister will miss you. Have fun in your new place, with a stepdad you don't like, a mother you detest, a school you don't know, and no friends or job. Hope it's all you were looking for.



As I continue to turn the pages on 'God is not Great' by Christopher Hitchens I see an evolving (or de-evolving rather) situation that troubles me to no end.

You may have heard of 'Farfour' a Mickey Mouse ripoff character on a Palestinian television children's show (Tomorrow's Pioneers). The beloved Farfour hosts the Barney like program which promotes, instead of cooperation, respect and moral guidelines, the evilness that is Israel and the occupying Jews. The Hamas funded show, which began earlier this year, saw a dramatic turn this week. In a scripted episode, the beloved Farfour was attacked and beaten to death by an assaulting 'Jew' in front of its entire audience of impressionable Palestinian youth.

Imagine what impact this incident alone must have had on those children (ages 3 - 10) who watched their popular character brutally killed by their supposed enemy neighbor.

I shake my head both in disgust at the mentality that is employed in the name of 'God' and sadness at how such teachings are essentially irreversible on the mindset of the youth.

How long would a therapist have to spend with a child to get that image and the consequential hatred toward Jews that resulted out of their head?

Ten years from now, what 16 year old Palestinian boy or girl is really going to believe that the Jews weren't responsible for the death of their favorite childhood character? Will any of the youth who watched this staged vicious mock attack be able to say in adulthood 'I realize that that assailant was really a Palestinian merely dressed as a Jew. I realize that Farfour was not really killed, nor even hurt in the least bit for that matter, on that day.'?

I am aware that brainwashing a population's youth is nothing new in warfare. The Chinese have done it with the Tibetan youth. But Hamas seems to have used technology and innovation to master the task unlike anyone previous.

This one incident alone (and don't think that Farfour's replacement host - a bumblebee - will not succumb to the same fate within a few short months as well!) has single-handedly guaranteed a region of conflict for the next generation.



Remember many moons ago? I talked briefly about stoopid kayak tricks? At least on a kayak, when you fuck up, you land in water, which is somewhat 'soft'.
You'lda thunk I'd learned my lesson right?

Not so fast!

On Monday I bought a brand new mountain bike. A big step up from the starter bike I bought last year.

Well this new bike, which is much lighter, nimbler, and has hydraulic disc brakes that can stop on a dime, gave me alot of confidence. Confidence to try some things I never woulda before.

Too much confidence apparently.

And judging from the sharp pain in my right shoulder when I try to move it (indicating a possible dislocation), the scrapes may not be the worst of it.

Next time... next time I'm clearing that damn ravine!



...it wadded up in the rear pocket of a pair of shorts stuffed in the back of a drawer.

That is where I finally came across an envelope I had misplaced 2 weeks ago. In it was $117 cash. The last I saw of it was 2 Wednesday's ago. Since then I had torn the house, car, and my office apart looking for it. I thought I had checked every stitch of clothing I had worn within a few days of that fateful day. Alas, I apparently never checked my pair of green cargo shorts.

As I pulled them out a few minutes ago I heard a piece of paper crinkling.

"No, can't be" I thought.

But it was!

Now I owe all the guys at work a big apology I guess. My bad.

No hard feelings fellas.



A MOMENT IN BLOG HISTORY (with pictures)

The first time I became acquainted with Sissy B was almost 2 years ago. I was participating in a little blog diddy called HNT, you may have heard of it.

A comment came in from a female with whom I was not familiar. It was of the suggestive nature to say the least. She invited me over to her site to catch a glimpse of who was on the offering end. A curious red-blooded male, a clicked on her site to see what potentially lay ahead. To my surprise (and to the disbelief of the 3 therapists who have tried to help in my recovery since) was a pic of nothing but a 10 month pregnant belly.

Now I know that some guys find that attractive. And in the one case where I was responsible for a belly looking like that, it was attractive. But if you're hoping to turn a guy on with such a pic, you had better start your search in prison (and judging from her relationship history, that very well may have been her practice at one time).

I politely rejected the offer and immediately changed the name of my blog and deleted my email accounts.

Since then, Sissy B and I hav remained in contact and have harassed eachother in a good natured way as much as possible.

Well, yesterday the fates finally had us meet. She was passing by my way (more or less) and popped in with her zoo load of kids (she has a thing about birth control apparently) to say 'hi'.

Now, I didn't tell her this in person (and soldier boy: no need to bring your sniper skills this way!) but she is much cuter in person than I would have expected from the rare and bizarre pictures she posts of herself.

I guess some people are photogenic-er than others. We decided to take a pic of this historical moment and that's when I realized why she posts very few pics of herself when she is not expecting (and it's not just because she is not not expecting very often).

You can see for yourself how our photo session went... This one's for you Addict!

This is photo attempt #1 of Sissy and Brico "Let's try this again Sissy... how about opening those eyes just a tad this time!"

Photo attempt #2 "Um, is the sun in your eyes or something? I can shut the blinds if that will help. Say, are you sure you're okay to drive after this?"

Photo attempt #3 ... Apparently how wide open Sissy's eyes are is directly related to how open her mouth is. I'm not sure if that's useful info or not. Im just saying!

Anyway, here's to old friends and... unforced smiles. See you later 'Sis'.

This just in: I am told Sissy B has made a responsive post to this. I haven't read it yet and I suggest you all don't bother wasting your time over there either. Particularly the women... you might end up pregnant!



Who do you think will be the next President of The United States?
(note: the question is not who do you want the next President to be)



I haven't posted any of my photography 'art' on here in quite some time. This was taken February 2006. Poor guy, I disturbed his rest time by approaching his territory.




Last night Anderson Cooper interviewed Dr. Richard Carmona, U.S. Surgeon General for the Bush administration until last year.
The job of the Surgeon General is to give expert advice and professional facts to the administration on all issues of public health so that The President can be well informed in making decisions on everything from disease control, to health eduction in the public schools (and all things in between).
Earlier that day Dr. Carmona spoke to a congressional committee on problems he saw from his tenure with the Bush administration. It was not pretty.
This is a quick excerpt from his conversation later with Anderson Cooper. The entire transcript can be found here.

COOPER: Former surgeon generals have said that this administration put greater restraints on surgeon generals than any time in the past. Do you think that's true?

CARMONA: This is the most partisan we have ever seen government, and it's the most marginalization that we have seen pushed on a surgeon general in the history of this nation. And that's not my opinion. That's coming collectively from my predecessors who watched my tenure.

Reading the transcripts from Anderson Cooper 360 and hearing his testimony on The Hill yesterday, it is flat out scary how The Bush Administration has been more concerned about pursuing it's ideologies and agendas than it is about listening to The Surgeon General's professional advice on matters of public health. From issues of stem cell research, teaching condom use vs. abstinence in high school, to clean needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of AIDS. In each one of these issues (and countless more) the good doctor has been ignored, chastised, silenced and ridiculed for making stances that serve the best health interests of this country.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration has made the exact opposite stances on all of these issues than what a doctor at the very top of his field knows to be sound and logical health policies.
And as Dr. Carmona states, this is not his biased oppinion. This is the oppinion of 4 previous Surgeon Generals, including C. Everett Coop, one of the most respected Surgeon generals before and since he served for The Reagan Administration.

At least we're all getting a thorough rectal exam from the administration in the meantime.




Why do I even try? Honestly, I have given Fox News so many opportunities to be fair and balanced over the last 6 years that it's silly. This time they didn't even make it 30 seconds. I tuned in this morning and what were they discussing? Al Gore's Live Earth concerts.
Now how someone makes the environment a political issue is beyond me. I guess if the earth itself aint shelling money into the republicans' pockets then Fox News aint gonna support it.

The gist of their criticism was how much fuel and energy the entire shin dig was going to use to promote conservation. One commentator concluded "Time will tell if not all of the musicians are hypocrites."

What is that?! Because an artist uses energy to perform for the cause of using less energy that makes them a hypocrite? Is The National Audubon Society hypocritical for using paper for mail fliers? Is Greenpeace hypocritical for using boats in the ocean and disturbing sea life?

Or here's one: Is the Bush administration hypocritical for dropping bombs in the name of peace?

It's your logic Fox News, you tell me.


Aspen (remember her?) is back in town for a few days as her mother visits her sick mother. Yesterday I took her to the bookstore, a game shop to buy some Bella Sara cards (look it up), out to dinner, then to see Disney's new flick Ratatouille.

I gotta tell ya, for some reason this was the most enjoyable Disney animated piece since Toy Story II. I don't know why. While Cars was a waste Monsters Inc and Nemo were both awesome and The Incredibles was simply brilliant, but the new film from Disney/Pixar is completely engaging. I had no high expectations for it. Looked kinda blah to me. And it wasn't the most hysterical I've seen. More big laughs were to be had in Chicken Little.

Anyway, I can't quite put my finger on it. But I walked out of the theatre knwing I had seen something well worth the money.

Aspen heads back to the 116 degree days of Phoenix on Wednesday. She'll return for school in mid August. So were making the most of our time together while she's here. She misses her friends, her dogs, the boat and me.



1st off... Happy 4th everyone!
Now, moving on...

For many years I have regarded the term 'patriot' to be a negative. It was in the way I defined it. I felt a patriot was one who would stand behind and support any decision or policy his (or her) government made whether right or wrong.

Obviously, if that were indeed what defines a patriot then a patriot is an ignoramus (aka: a 'negative').

However, as experience and just a tad of wisdom have wormed their way into my cerebrum, I now understand a patriot to be someone who is willing to defend not their country's government but their country's constitution.

Two entirely different things.

Now in some instances, depending on the wording of the country's constitution, a patriot is a horrific thing (a country where women can be sold into marriage against their will for example or where people do not have the right to own land because of the caste system into which they were born). Such constitutions certainly do not need to be defended. They need to be eradicated.

But in other instances, to be a patriot is a noble thing. If they are patriotic to a constitution that offers life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all it's citizens. A constitution that ensures a right to a trial by one's peers. A constitution that describes it's government as one by the people, for the people, of the people. A constitution that guarantees the right to due process. A constitution that promises a separation of church and state... freedom of religion... freedom of speech... freedom of the press...

But being a patriot under such a system requires responsibilities. Indeed, freedom isn't free. But not just freedom from foreign enemies, but also freedom from enemies within.

Even if that domestic enemy becomes the current sitting government itself, it is the patriot who raises his voice in protest. It is the patriot who challenges those in power. It is the patriot who takes out his copy of the of constitution and begins quoting.

On the flip side it is the non-patriot, the enemy of the state and the accomplices of the enemy of the state who demand silence from the protesters. It is the non-patriot who ridicules and criticizes those who speak up. It is the non-patriot who insists that to question the leaders is immoral, wrong, unjustified and treasonous. It is the non-patriot who sits idly by and watches the heads of state distort and bend government policy for their own personal agendas.
A patriot is more concerned about preserving policy, ideals and the values upon which his/her country was founded. The non-patriot is more concerned about preserving the status quo and power of those currently in charge.
There is no question as to which is right and which is wrong. It is inarguable as to which will effect the eventual demise of a country into a chaotic ruined lawless state of the haves and have nothings.
It is elementary that a country can not survive on its foundation if its foundation is warped, bent, prodded, torn at the seams and ripped in malice by those in power.
These observances are universal. They do not apply to simply one nation.
Any nation will fail to be by the people, for the people and of the people if the people permit the enemies within to act in their own best interests rather than those of the populace at large.



The old adage "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." has never been more applicable.
Scooter Libby's 30 month prison sentence for several counts of obstruction to justice and lying to a Grande Jury was commuted by President Bush on Monday.
Not a full pardon, commuting his sentence seems to be a political compromise for Bush between the conservative hardliners and... well, everyone else in America.
Libby will still be on probation for 2 years and still have to pay a fine of $250K.
The ability to grant pardons and commute sentences is pretty much the only unchecked power a sitting president has. All other actions or decisions have to be concurred by Congress or The Supreme Court in some fashion (the other is the ability to declare war... anyone on an irony overload with that one?!)
Bush told the American people 2 years ago that whoever in his administration was found to have leaked Valerie Plame Wilson's identity (a covert - yes, it has been officially confirmed that she was indeed a covert - CIA operative) to the press would be fired and face prosecution. Apparently what Bush failed to tell the American people was that he had no intention of letting that administrative official actually serve time.
I guess we just should have seen that as a given.
Bush used the word 'excessive' to describe the court's sentencing of Libby as the reason to commute his sentence when explaining his controversial decision to the press yesterday.
However, the Federal Judge who presided over Libby's case and levied the sentence was appointed by Bush Sr., is known as a true conservative and has a flawless history of following the letter of the law when sentencing.
Bush has long touted the importance for Federal Judges to stay within federal guidelines in sentencing, which is exactly what this judge did.
Conservatives who are standing beside Bush on this decision were united in their voice 9 years ago that Clinton be reprimanded according to the same federal guidelines for lying to a Grande Jury aka 'perjury'. And he was. And his impeachment (yes, he was impeached, he was not removed from office which is a separate action) was deserved in my opinion.
However, Giulianni, Fred Thompson, McCain, and Mitt Romney all now agree that federal sentencing guidelines are not fair in this situation.
This scenario has now provided me with an impeccable litmus test for presidential candidates vying for my vote. I now know that Giulianni, Fred Thompson, McCain, and Mitt Romney will not be getting my vote come Tuesday Nov 4th, 2008.
Finally, There have long been federal guidelines (granted, not laws) for a sitting president to follow (penned by The Justice Department early in this country's history) when pardoning one found guilty of federal crimes. One of those guidelines has been for The President to wait until at least most, if not all, of the convicted's sentence has been served.
Bush seems to feel those federal guidelines (like bothersome sections of The Constsitution) are mere words that he can't be bothered by.
As one observer put it "Bush seems to have all but given up on preserving the legacy of this administration for all of history".
Funny thing is, I uttered a similar phrase hours earlier. It went something like "Man, he just doesn't give a shit anymore does he?"
Folks, clearly Bush has adopted a 'run out the clock scenario' on his presidency. One would be hard pressed to counter the observation that this is not an administration "of the people, by the people, for the people".
I repeat...
If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.