Sunday, October 30, 2005

And so this is Fitzmas, and what have you done?

So … the first indictment against a member of the Bush administration came on Friday. This one was against I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff (until recently, at least) regarding the illegal leaking of the identity of a covert CIA agent in retaliation for her husband’s public opposition to the Iraq War.

I’ve been following this story for the past two years. Like many other progressives, I’ve anticipated these charges with eagerness, almost glee. (Fellow progressive politics addicts have been speculating about the timing of Fitzmas for weeks [Patrick Fitzgerald is the special prosecutor assigned to investigate the leak and prosecute those responsible.])

And now … I feel strangely flat about the whole thing. It could very well be the beginning of the end of the Bush administration as we know it. (And wouldn’t that be a good thing for everybody?) And yet … Even if the whole lot of them were thrown in the slammer today, there are still over 2000 American servicemen killed in Iraq.

The posthumous Purple Heart rested near the folded American flag on the modest dining-room table of his parents' home in Cleveland. Edward (Augie) Schroeder, a Boy Scout turned Marine, was killed along with 13 other soldiers on their fifth trip into Al Hadithah, Iraq, to clean out insurgents. Their fifth trip. "When you do something over and over again expecting a different result," Augie's grieving father, Paul, told me, "that is the definition of insanity." As the death toll of American soldiers in Iraq reached 2,000 last week, Paul Schroeder concluded that the military had not sent enough troops to Iraq to do the job properly and that the president was incompetent: "My son's life was thrown away, his death was a waste." Then, noting that he shared a birthday with his boy, he broke down and said he would not be able to celebrate his own birthday anymore.

There have been an estimated 26000 – 30000 innocent Iraqi civilians killed in this misadventure. A fascinating city of priceless antiquity has been trashed and its educated, dignified people now held hostage to hoodlums and terrorists. (Don’t get me wrong – Saddam was no prince, but I can’t believe that most people there feel their lives have improved since he was deposed.)

And then there are so many other casualties of this administration. The city of New Orleans. People needlessly dead due to the incompetence of FEMA (run by a Bush crony). Attrition of skilled public servants from every federal agency (CIA, FBI, EPA, etc.) The environment has been shafted at every turn. America fiddled while North Korea worked on building nuclear bombs. And it goes on and on and on …

I just wish the damn fools had been competent and interested in governing in everyone’s best interest in the first place.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Next Stop: Calgary!

Hey, guess what??? The trip my boss and I made to Halifax and Montreal was such a success that our director wants us to go to Calgary too!!!! (I’ve never been there before either.) We’re looking at being at the local office Monday, November 7th, and flying in the Sunday before. We might leave first thing Sunday morning and then go to Banff for the day!!!! (Though of course we would not be able to expense any costs we incurred traveling there.) I’m so excited!!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Xmas List

I know it keeps you up at night. The same question drums through your soul, over and over again. How can you possibly find the right gift to show me how much I mean to you and how to thank me for all that I bring to your life???? It has to be sufficiently worthy and thoughtful. I know it's important to you to get this right and to see my face light up as I open your gift. ;->

So let me make this easy for you. I know you probably don't have it within your power to grant me the first two things on my Xmas list (world peace, a Republican-free White House and Congress [the latter probably going a long way to achieving the former]). So instead, may I humbly suggest that you go to the Foster Parents Plan website for a convenient list of potential gifts?

It's convenient, and there's something for every budget. For example, a hen and a rooster for a needy family is only $15! (Doesn't that sound a lot better than yet another scented candle???) For $20, a dozen tree seedlings can be planted to reverse the devastating effects of deforestation. For $25, you would give me the chance to provide an entire family with mosquito nets to protect them - for years! - from horrible diseases. For $65, two women could be provided with literacy training; for $50, two health professionals could receive additional training - can you imagine the impact these could have on a small village??? Don't these little things capture your imagination???? Did I mention that these prices are all in Canadian funds? Should I also mention that you'll be able to claim any gifts over $10 as a charitable tax deduction?

I like the Foster Parents Plan because they are non-political and non-religious. However, if you would like to show me how much you care for me by donating to the Red Cross or UNICEF, I would be honoured. Hell, it doesn't matter if you buy a gift for me, but that you give to those who need it most. We've had terrible hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, an earthquake in Asia, and an ongoing famine in Africa. I will not judge you if you ask for one for yourself, but I cannot think of a time when a scented candle meant less to me.

Another pic

Last weekend, my boss and his lovely wife invited me and a few of our co-workers to their place for dinner. James (on the left), Alan (on the right), Lisa (James' wife, who took this picture) and I were able to go for a walk through the woods behind Alan's home. Alan's dog Farley is peeking around James' elbow. It was a thoroughly enjoyable time.

What Life Has Been Like Lately

Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve been rather quiet lately, or that you haven’t heard from me very much. Basically, life has just been about work. I really, truly like my job – I love the people I work with; I love the opportunities and responsibility that I’ve been given; I love the way I get to use my creativity, organizational skills, ability to read and nurture people, analytical skills, and penchant for process improvement every day at work. I love the chance I’ve been given to lead not only the people on my team, but in some ways, people across the department. (My team is involved – one way or another – in about 90% of everything the department does, so we’re pretty important in the overall picture.)

Without question this is the best job I have ever had, or ever dreamed I could have within a business environment. There is an enormous amount of work, and my manager and I are planning even more to try to improve the way that things are done in order to continually improve service, stability, security, and efficiency. By now you might be getting the picture that it’s a demanding job.

I’ve also been trying to increase my fitness level and to deal with a few stubborn pounds, so I’ve been going to the gym a lot in the last month and a half.

So while I find my job fascinating and interesting, and I enjoy the benefits of increased physical activity, together they’re pretty exhausting and time-consuming. They don’t usually provide fodder for conversation either – who outside my place of employment really wants to hear about all my proposed process improvements, for instance? LOL Sometimes it's just easier to socialize with people from work ... LOL (Good thing I like them a lot!!!)

However, I do have a number of things to share this weekend, so please read on. Also, I have no intention of becoming a workaholic (there are too many other things that I want to do/be in life!), so please just hang in there with me as I try to make the most of the current opportunities and to establish a better balance.


Fascinating Website

Maybe you've heard about this already, but just in case you haven't, check out this website where this guy uploads postcards that have been sent to him anonymously. They are about secrets. People share a secret that they have told no one else. Here's a link to a very good article about the site.

New postcards are uploaded every Sunday.

The Best Wedding Pictures Ever

When I was out west for Joe and Lisa's wedding (my brother and sister-in-law), I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Lisa's friends Tracy and Monika. I actually blogged about them here because they are so great. I also got a chance to meet Tracy's fiance, Dave, and Monika's boyfriend, Joe (not to be confused with my brother), and liked them both very much as well.

Since then, Tracy and Dave got married, and made their wedding photos available online to a bunch of us. They were so much fun to look at - and truly reflected the humour, wit, and high spirits that I enjoyed about this group of people. So I'm going to steal a few of them and post them here because everyone should have an opportunity to meet these fun and wonderful people, even if it is vicariously!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Business Trip, Part I

Last night, I got back from a whirlwind business trip. Late Wednesday night, my boss and I arrived in Halifax for a day of meetings Thursday with colleagues in the office there, and then we left late Thursday afternoon to catch a flight to Montreal, where we had meetings on Friday. It was a very productive and valuable trip. It was also the first time I had ever been to either city! In Halifax we took our colleagues out to lunch, and then wandered along the Halifax downtown for about 45 minutes looking at some of the beautiful old buildings (and one very new, very luxurious yacht docked in the harbour!). Thank goodness I brought my camera … Alan, Lisa, and Linda were very patient as I kept stopping to do the Japanese tourist thing. Here are my Halifax photos:

Linda, me, and Lisa

Business Trip, Part II - More Halifax Photos

Business Trip, Part III - Montreal

So on with the rest of our story ...

We weren’t so late arriving in Montreal, so after checking in to our hotel rooms, Alan and I went out for a leisurely meal and a bottle of wine and sat in a lovely downtown restaurant and talked about work and life in general. I can’t imagine a better boss than Alan. He’s pretty high on my list of favourite people. :-> He’s incredibly smart and tenacious and he can be quite intimidating, but he’s really a very kind man, and very respectful and open to suggestions and input (which … of course I always have! LOL)

We had our meetings with the Montreal staff on Friday, took them out to lunch (ribs at the Baton Rouge!!! Mmmmmmmmmmm … And a great glass of Australian wine as well – a Wyndham Estates Bin 555 Shiraz that was amazing!

After lunch there was another meeting, and then Alan and I had some free time. We could have stayed in our meeting room until it was time to head for the airport (there’s always a ton of work to do!), but instead Alan decided since I had never been to Montreal before, we would go for a walk around the downtown instead. Do I have the best boss ever or what????

So of course I took my camera along to take some photos:

There was a film shoot happening in the park to the left, and a long row of vintage cars lined up against the sidewalk.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Delicious speculation

W and Cheney not friends any more? Where could this lead???

Monday, October 10, 2005

My current favourite quote

Only those of you who are avid lefty fans of American politics may appreciate this quote I found:

The Book of Revelation is NOT a foreign policy manual.


The latest celebrity codename

First there was Bennifer, then there was Brangelina, and now:

Will Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes get hitched before they have their baby?Professional gamblers are betting that they will. Hours after TomKat announced that they were expecting, professional wagers had already started placing their bets on the details of the unborn child known as TomKitten.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Sorry, WHAT did you just say????

I love Howard Dean, but this was a humourous but unfortunate choice of words:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that the president can claim executive privilege?

DEAN: Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called. He's got to go out there and say something about this woman who's going to a 20 or 30-year appointment, a 20 or 30-year appointment to influence America. We deserve to know something about her.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Funny but True

Atrios re. the latest candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States:

I have no idea what kind of judge Miers will be and nor probably does anyone else in the commentariat. We probably won't know for a few years either way (assuming for the moment that she's confirmed) unless the nice people in the press do some digging to try to find out. All we do know is she's a reliable Bush fixer.

Wingnuttia is rather angry at the choice. I don't think this is because they're really concerned that she's not conservative enough for their tastes, although that's part of it. They're angry because this was supposed to be their nomination. This is was their moment. They didn't just want a stealth victory, they wanted parades and fireworks. They wanted Bush to find the wingnuttiest wingnut on the planet, fully clothed and accessorized in all the latest wingnut fashions, not just to give them their desired Court rulings, but also to publicly validate their influence and power. They didn't just want substantive results, what they wanted even more were symbolic ones. They wanted Bush to extend a giant middle finger to everyone to the left of John Ashcroft. They wanted to watch Democrats howl and scream and then ultimately lose a nasty confirmation battle. They wanted this to be their "WE RUN THE COUNTRY AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT" moment.

Whatever kind of judge she would be, she doesn't provide them with that.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

E-mail from Jen

Hi there, just wanted to let you know that though I am in Bali at a CUSO conference, I am staying/working nowhere near the places where the bombs went off last night and though some of the CUSO staff were out in areas near the bombs to have dinner, they are all back safe and sound - though some were quite near the blasts and are quite shaken up from the noise, chaos, fear and trauma of being on site. Sadly, it seems that there have been quite a few deaths and injuries as a result of the explosions. My plans haven't changed: I intend to fly back to Bangkok Monday evening and return to Laos early Wednesday morning.
Miss you! love, Jen