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Welcome NSA!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

UCARE Summer Camp

It's that time of year again--summer camp season. UCARE will once more be sponsoring a summer camp for orphans in Ukraine. As always, we are short on funds, as raising funds in Ukraine is quite difficult due to the current election campaign and war; so I'm asking those of you who can to help out.  Every little bit helps.

The camp is not huge, about thirty kids plus staff. Last year it cost us about $400 per kid to transport them across all of Ukraine, feed and clothe and house them for two weeks, take them on several local excursions, and to pay for supplies for arts, crafts, sports and other activities, as well as to house and feed our support staff (most of whom are volunteers). It's a great deal.

None of this money goes towards my transportation or costs. I pay my own way, and spend hundreds of dollars on stuff for camp.

Camp is a wonderful experience for all of us. Because we keep it fairly small, by the end we all know each other and have become one big happy family. The kids--and staff--cry when the buses pull away on the last day.......

If you've got a few extra bucks, and want to give a poor kid a lifetime of good memories, click on the link below and help us out.

Thanks! Щиро дякуємо!

GoFundMe currently only charges charities the credit card fees; there are no additional fees on top of that. 

If you prefer to donate by check, you can send a check made out to "UCARE Inc." and send it either to me, or to our treasurer at

 6123 Hidden Oak Dr.
 Crystal Lake, IL  60012

Thanks to everyone who has already donated, and thanks again for your continued support!


P.S. Last year's slideshow:


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Better late than never.......

So apparently I forgot to e-mail out my annual letter this year. I guess better late than never…… I've been running late on everything this winter; the lights are still on outdoors (that will be taken care of as soon as the lake of ice in my yard melts and I can safely access them), and the last box of Xmas ornaments was taken upstairs yesterday.

Old age has slowed me down (the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak), as have injuries. I've completed physical therapy for my left shoulder, put there is still pain with some movements, and I can't carry heavy items wihtout aggravating it. So things get done, just more slowly. I've only gotten my studio back in working order as of the end of February, a month late…..

Anyways, this is the letter I wrote about my 2018. Some of you might have gotten the analogue version; if so, just delete. Let's hope this year shapes up to be a better one than the last…..

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Happy Holidays!

To all who celebrate today: Merry Christmas!

To everyone: a few pretty snowflake eggs to enjoy

My holiday letter……..to follow. It's been a hard December.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas…..

………and/or your winter holiday of choice. And a very happy New Year.

These are most of the snowflake pysanky I wrote this year.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pysanky 2015

Happy Easter! Христос Воскрес!

My 2015 pysanky. Three of the pysanky are my own designs (the brown ones); the rest are traditional designs, sometimes tweaked a little bit. The designs are taken from Manko, Elyjiw and one from Verkhova's Podillian Pysanky. There are a lot of Bukovynian designs this year.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Holiday(s)!

Happy Santa Christmas to all my western-rite friends! 

And Happy (choose one or more) Solstice/Festivus/Hannukah/Holiday/Diwali/Saturnalia/New Year to the rest of you!


P.S.  The e-mail address above is the one I use to send mass e-mails.  You can still write me at my preferred address, lubapetrusha@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Scam Alert

I got this in the mail yesterday, and smelled a scam. I've recently ordered a lot of books on line, but knew they would be coming to me via the USPS or other carriers I've heard of.

I Googled the "delivery service" and, lo and behold, it is a scam. Apparently you call the number and they try to sell you a "free" vacation. The no-call list means these scammers can no longer call you (well, not legally), so they have to try and get you to call them. Beware, and, if you get one of these in the mail, just throw it out.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Christmas Tree and I, 2010

My tree made it into this year's Detroit Free Press, the Christmas Day edition. You can read the article (and see more photos) at this link.

Special thanks to Fuzz and Nick, who cut down the tree and helped me drag all the ornament boxes out of my attic and down the stairs, my neighbors Sonny, Jeff and Grant, who helped me set up the tree, and my parents, Nick and Sonia Petrusha, whithout whose help I would never have gotten the lights and ornaments onto the tree.

Christmas Music

Christmas guitar music from Magnatune, lovely in its simplicity:

Christmas Guitar by Jeff Wahl

Dear Comment Spammers

The comments on this blog are moderated, which means all your efforts are wasted.  Your ads for Russian software and penis enhancers will never see the light of day.

So don't bother.  Really.  Not worth your effort.

And Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


It's been a buy few days, as I've been decorating the tree and getting ready for my party (this Saturday, all welcome). I finished the tree last night--snowflakes and tinsel, and getting it into just the right position (bad side to the wall, room to squeeze by to get ot the stairs.

Today I had a minor emergency--half of my speakers weren't working. I did simple diagnostics, and determined it was the integrated amp that had malfunctioned. I called my sold stereo shop, and was told to bring it in for repair, with the promise of a loaner of the party. As it turned out, the tech was there, and quickly replaced the blown fuse while I did some grocery shopping at the Royal Oak Kroger Senior Center. When I got home I checked for speaker short circuits, and found the culprit.

Things seemed to be going swimmingly, as they always do before a catastrophe. I was a bit ahead of schedule, and had rolled out the rug in the living room and begun to bring the knick-knacks in from the porch. I went to sweep under the tree, so I could put down the small Indian throw rug, when I noticed that the tree stand with its wooden leg extensions seemed to be tipped a bit--two of the legs were slightly off the ground. This worried me, so I ran out to the hardware store and bought wire.....heavy gauge wire. By the time I got home, the tree was definitely seriously listing away from the wall.

I quickly tied the tree to the wall (old screws were in place from a previous unsteady tree) and then called Sonny, my neighbor. He came right over, and, while I held the tree in place, screwed the trunk down even more tightly. Then, while he held it, I did a better wiring job, with two separate wires to the trunk. I then pulled the bottom branches of the tree, and the stand, away from the wall, straightening it.

Disaster averted.

There were some casualties. Three ornaments were broken, many more littered the ground, and many snowflakes and icicles fell. I've replaced some of the ornaments, particularly those at the center of the tree, but have almost a wastebasket full that aren't going back on.

My theory for the near-fall is that this tree was uneven--one side was much fuller than the other. I figured that it wouldn't be a problem, as I would just put the less full side to the wall, and had. But once the tree got loaded up with ornaments, the center shifted and so did the tree.
I think I'm OK for now, and will probably have a standing tree for the party, but it was really a close call. My fear was that the tree would fall, and I would catch it.........home alone, and far from the phone. Then what?

Next year, the wires go on after the lights...............

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Done Decorating

..........the tree. The last of the tinsel has been placed and ribbon birds placed. I will add details later. (Photo above is last year's tree; none this year yet.)

The house is another matter. There now remains only to clean house and decorate. And cook. And clean. And.......oh, hell, lots to do still. Best get some sleep.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bailey's Irish Cream

As I've gotten older and lazier, I've whittled down my Christmas shopping list radically. I buy gifts only for close/nuclear family members. Mom, Dad, nieces and nephew (including dog niece), brother and sister-in-law. But I still give lots of gifts. How? Home made gifts.

Starting in October, I begin making snowflake pysanka ornaments. It's a relaxing activity, as I don't follow any pattern, just sort of doodle the designs as I go along. By early December I've made more than enough for friends and family.

I also make huge quantities of Bailey's Irish Cream. You can find the recipe here on my blog. Jars of it make a lovely gift; a little bit of it over ice, or in coffee, can be quite pleasant. I know my mailman appreciates it, as do the nurses I work with. And several gallons of it get drunk at my Tree Party.

It's a bit of work though, especially when making it in quantity. I purchased a large capacity blender a few years ago that lets me make two batches at once, but the bulk supplies and empty jars take up all of the counter space in my tiny kitchen, as you can see below. Mixing occurs near the sink; and that bit of paper hanging from the cabinet is the recipe.

Jars get filled near the stove. In the end I have three dozen jars and four 1.75 liter vodka bottles of the stuff, the result of 32 batches, or about 1.35 quarts of Bailey's per batch*.

* Based on adding 1 cup vodka per quart.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lights. Lots and lots of lights.

Today was the day I had designated for hanging lights on the tree. I got up incredibly early--well, early for me on a weekend--and got going. My parents came over at ten, and the assembly line began.

My father checked the strings of lights to make sure they lit up, and did the shake test to look for short circuits and broken wires. There is nothing more frustrating than getting a string of lights onto the tree, and then having it go out....or worse, go off intermittently. He also replaced bad bulbs on the strings from my box of 500 or so spares. (I save bulbs when I throw out bad strings.)

My mom and I wrapped branches. The strings of lights, almost all of the 50s, were plugged in along the trunk, and then wound outwards along branches. There were up to six strings plugged in at each of the 12 outlets on the trunk:

The strings are green and, when wrapped properly, are not very visible. This is what the branches look like:

I got to climb the ladder--a nice ladder, mind you, with wide steps to stand comfortably on--but a ladder none-the-less, and get all those small branched at the top, and then stand and do the branches slightly lower down. My mother got to sit in a chair and wrap, a much better gig. Wrapping the small branches from a ladder takes forever, and little seems to get done. Here's my mom at work, deep inside the tree:

In the end, we didn't use as many strings of lights as in previous years, as this tree is a bit smaller than the one I had last year. Based on our primitive tabulation system, and counting the number of strings plugged in along the trunk, I estimate about 3500 small white lights.

I had to remove two strings, one a 50 that went out on me after I'd wrapped half of it, and then a string of 100. That string started acting up, with half of it going on and off when it was touched. This is why I no longer buy strings of 100--there are two separate circuits, and often one will go and the other still work. it's a waste, and It's twice as much work to remove.

So how does the tree look? Not too bad. Judge yourself:

I've shaken the spruce needles out of my hair, and picked them out of my sweat shirt, and am looking forward to a long, hot soak--after I make 32 batches of Bailey's.....................

Friday, December 11, 2009


Getting ready for Christmas is a job of epic proportions in my household. I've gotten the outside stuff done before the before the snows came, thankfully, but lots of work remains. By next Saturday evening I have to make the Baileys, decorate the tree, hang the cedar roping indoors, set out the snow globes and candles, clear out the basement, decorate the basement, and get the food ready. Oh, and get started on Christmas letters and cards.........

My neighbors, Sonny and Jeff, helped bring the tree in Thursday--we shook the snow off, sawed half a foot off the bottom, drilled a hole in the trunk, and then put it in the stand. The trunk is a bit crooked, but that won't be visible once it has been properly decorated. (Photo above from before I cut the mesh tube off.)

The tree seems a bit smaller this year; once the branches relax (it's been bundled into a mesh tube for two weeks) it will be much wider. I've already trimmed out half a 33-gallon garbage can full of branches, as the tree was too dense and bushy. I need room for the ornaments. And I've run four special extension cords up the trunk, each with nine outlets.

It stands ready, sucking up water (I have to fill the reservoir three times a day) and perfuming the house. Saturday--the lights!!!!!

Merry Christmas from the Family

A genuine all-American red state Christmas song.........

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Knowledge vs. Ignorance

Maha of the Mahablog has a very good discussion of climate change deniers and why they are in denial. Have a look.

War Bonds

A constant in movies about WWII was war bonds--buying them was patriotic, and rallies were often headlined by Hollywood stars.

Senator Ben Nelson has watched too many old movies, I suspect. He has decided that we should reprise war bonds instead of raising taxes to pay for our many wars. He says:

"We need shared sacrifice and fiscal discipline in financing the war effort. I don't believe our first instinct should always be a rush to tax. The government has gone to great lengths to address the economic downturn, and adding new taxes right now could undermine those efforts. We need to work to reduce federal spending wherever possible and reduce the growth in spending to finance the important missions in Afghanistan and Iraq."

So one has to wonder, does Ben Nelson have any idea what-so-ever of how war bonds work? Does he think people buy them and just hang them on the wall? They are bonds, after all, meant to be redeemed at some point, with interest paid.

He seems to be under the impression that past wars were paid for with bonds alone; not so. Income taxes were raised to pay for wars time and again. Before WWII only about 10% of Americans paid income taxes; by 1944 nearly everyone did.

War bonds are just a way to involve civilians and to postpone payment on a war; they are not a way to avoid paying for it.

I will agree with Nelson's plan, on one condition--all funding for our wars come from bonds alone, and they be interest-free. Redeemable, say, in 20 years. No money from general funds to fund the wars.

Then we'll see how patriotic our war hawks really are, if they are willing to put their money where their quite commodious mouths are.

Winter Time

We've had a lovely fall this year, with fairly warm temperatures and minimal precipitation. I was able to get all of my outdoor decorating done without having to plow through piles of snow.

And now that is over. Two inches of snow on the ground, and very cold out. It looks lovely from my indoor vantage point, but I hate going out unless I'm thoroughly bundled up.

Today my neighbors helped me bring the tree in; we sawed a few inches off the bottom, and put it in its stand. That's when I realized I had to take quite a bit more off the top. I've done so, trimming out the small branches, and putting the angel on top.

This year my tree was about the right size--usually I pick one a few feet too long and cut a row or two of branches off the bottom once I get it home. Since it was smaller, it fit through the baggers, and is, even now, enclosed in its mesh sleeve, looking like a tall, thin bush. I'm letting it thaw a bit, and soak up some water.

Then I plan to open it--and hope it won't be quite as large as the Griswold family Christmas tree (see 1:40):


Either Blogger has gotten lax, or the spammers have gotten trickier. I've gotten several spam comments the last few days for old posts on a blog that hasn't been active, until today, for more than a year. That's why I have moderation, and why blogger features, IIRC, an "are you a human or a bot" test for posting.

Did you know that somewhere around 95% of ALL E-MAIL is spam? That's why I have several layers of filtration on my e-mail accounts. And that's why blogger challenges you to prove your humanity.........

Anyway, please comment if you wish, and I will make sure the comments get posted in a day or so. Unless you are a spammer--then may you burn in eternal hellfire.........

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Poking Around in the Attic

....that's what coming back to this blog after all this time feels like. When I first began it, I had such high hopes. All incipient bloggers do. Everyone yearns to be the next Atrios or TPM or even, depending on your political bent, then next Instapundit. But most blogs end up with only a few posts before the proprietor realizes how much work it actually is and gives up.

(Mind you, it's only hard work if you try and write reasoned, well argued posts with a dash of humor and appropriate artwork. Simple political ranting with numerous mentions of Hitler, Marx or Stalin require much less brainpower and energy, as does WRITING IN ALL CAPS!!!!!!!)

Mine lasted a bit longer than most.

Most of the hits, though, were friends visiting, or people looking for a good recipe for home-made Bailey's Irish Cream. I'd get the occasional person who found the blog by chance and commented (which often made my day), and even got linked to on two other blogs. But it was a lot of work for very little recognition.... Still, for quite some time, I toiled on.

I must confess that I got distracted this year. Aging parents with medical problems take a toll on one's time, as does trying to make a living and keep up with commitments (in my case, charity work).

And keeping current with the news, which changes ever so fast during an election year, is work. I could have blogged about the election, but I didn't really have a horse in the race.

It's not that I didn't care who was elected.

I cared deeply.

It's just that I'm a lefty, with strong opinions on single payer, civil liberties and the war, and the candidates who most strongly agreed with me dropped out early in the primary season. I liked both Hillary and Obama, but both are fairly centrist, and I didn't much care which one won. I was voting Democratic one way or another.

Don't get me wrong. I like Obama. And I hope he can unite this country and do wonderful things. It's just that my generation has a long history of being disappointed by politicians (more so if you follow Ukrainian politics), and we don't like to get our hopes up. It hurts too much when they're dashed to smithereens.

I worked to get him elected. I proselytized via e-mail and in person, did GOTV work and canvassing. I passed out lawn signs and bumper stickers in my neighborhood. And I even worked in Precinct 9 of West Bloomfield as an election inspector (poll worker) from 6 AM to 10 PM on election day to help keep the vote honest.

I was at our local Obama headquarters on election night after the polls had closed. The excitement there was enough to give anyone a contact high. We watched one state after another turn blue. I knew we had won when Pennsylvania was called for Obama. But there was still nothing like the thrill of hearing it announced at 11 PM, of seeing John McCain concede (graciously, for a change) and of watching a million people in Chicago greet their new president. It brought tears to my eyes and hope to my jaded heart.......

So I may tidy up here a bit and start adding some new posts, now that things are quieting down. My father is recovering well from his third open heart surgery (valve replacement at the age of 82--he's one tough patient!), the world has been righted a bit, and we've stepped away from the edge of the political abyss. I'm starting to feel as though I can stop and take a breath at last.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vote the Environment

Friday, April 04, 2008

Secret Terrorist Plot

Oddly enough, I suspect many right wingnuts really do believe much of this....including the McCain part. And I find it just a bit disconcerting that the next president of the United States may end up being younger that my kid brother! Still, better than having one who's older than dirt......and keeps [promising us more and better wars (remember "Bomb Iran"?)

((Note: Click on the cartoon to make it big enough to read)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Best Campaign Ad....Ever

Well, maybe after the "Daisy" ad in 1964:

And Gravel's other ad:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Penguins in the News!

In birding, we sometimes describe cormorants as looking like "flying penguins." I guess we'll have to find a new descriptor after this!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Pointillism is a style of painting in which small distinct points of primary colors create the impression of a wide selection of secondary and intermediate colors. One of the best known proponents of this style was Seurat.

Why do I bring this up? Fuzz and I spent a morning doing the aunt-niece bonding thing at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It was their first time of us had been there since the massive renovation and reorganization had been completed. We had a lovely time wandering the galleries and discovering interesting things while trying to locate other things.

Like many of us, fuzz had studied pointillism in school. Art teachers, having a bit of a masochistic streak, enjoy assigning the creation of a pointillist painting o their student–hours and hours of making small colored dots on a large piece of paper. I hated it. But I do like Seurat's paintings, and located one for Fuzz.

And I snapped this photo of in front of the painting:

(Click on photo to enlarge and appreciate)

Since it was dark in the galleries, and since flash photography is not allowed, I at an ISO 0f 1600, resulting in a very grainy photo. And, oddly enough, it ended up looking like a pointillist photo of a pointillist painting.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Regrets, I've had a few

(Click on cartoon to enlarge.)

....but then again, too few to really mention.

Apparently, Being a NeoCon means never having to say you're sorry.


The odometer of death took another major turn today, as the US recorded the 4000th fatality in Iraq. 4000.

Remember "they will greet us as liberators"? Or "it will take a few weeks, or perhaps a month"? Or the risk to the USA, the WMDs and potential mushroom clouds?

That was five years ago. We still haven't located those WMDs, and we're still over there.

Those who initiated the war have no regrets. Bush thinks it was a grand adventure. Cheney (he of the five draft deferments) points out that all the servicemen who died were volunteers. Mind you, many joined up to fight those who attacked us on 9-11, but got sent to Iraq instead. From and interview with ABC news:

"I want to start with the milestone today of 4,000 dead in Iraq. Americans. And just what effect do you think it has on the country?" asked ABC News' White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz, who traveled with the vice president on a nine-day overseas trip to Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

"It obviously brings home I think for a lot of people the cost that's involved in the global war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan," Cheney said in the interview, conducted in Turkey. "It places a special burden obviously on the families, and we recognize, I think it's a reminder of the extent to which we are blessed with families who've sacrificed as they have."

"The president carries the biggest burden, obviously," Cheney said. "He's the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, the all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm's way for the rest of us."

Raddatz noted that some soldiers, Air Force members, and Marines have been on multiple deployments and have been sent back to Iraq because of the stop-loss policy, and involuntary extension of a service member's enlistment contract. The Army alone says 58,000 US soldiers have been redeployed to war because of the stop-loss policy.

"When you talk about an all-volunteer force, some of these soldiers, airmen, Marines have been on two, three, four, some of them more than that, deployments," Raddatz said. "Do you think when they volunteered they had any idea that there would be so many deployments or stop-loss? Some of those who want to get out can't because of stop-loss?"

"A lot of men and women sign up because sometimes they will see developments," Cheney said. "For example, 9/11 stimulated a lot of folks to volunteer for the military because they wanted to be involved in defending the country."

Notice that Cheney never answers the second question. But really, war is a glorious pursuit as long as you're not the one having ot do the fighting and the dying.

P.S. As for how many Iraqis have dies, no one in this administration seems to care about that. After all, they dies free, and that's what matters. We don't count the Iraqi dead, probably because we are afraid of what the numbers might be (over 1,000,000 according to some epidemiological estimates).

ADDENDUM: Blogwhoring is the process of leaving a link to your blog in the comments of another blog (in order to increase traffic to your own blog). It is generally considered poor nettiquette, but tolerated. And I don't mind it, unless the blog you are linking to DOES NOT ALLOW comments. In that case, fuggedaboutit. Goose, gander, sauce, etc.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Merry Easter

....and may all your Easters be white!

Some holiday confusion here in Michigan, as there is quite a bit of snow on the ground at the moment–more than we had at Christmas, actually. And, anyway, it's not really Easter for some of us–those of the ancient eastern rite won't be celebrating until April 27th, by which time, I can only assume, the snow will have melted.

Below is a shot of some of my snowflake pysanky, which seem appropriate today. I haven't made many "regular" pysanky yet this year, so these will have to do for now. Expect those photos in late April or early May. And, if you need an Easter fix of pysanky, you can always visit my website.

As always, click on the photo for a closer look!

Bunny Easter

Today is the day a huge rabbit brings chocolate eggs to children in countries with germanic heritage. Why?

Remnants of ancient fertility rituals?

Or perhaps.............atonement?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Peep Show

I will never be able to look at peeps the same way now......

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

5 Years

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Isn't it Romantic?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Mandry Video

A lovely song about the tragedy of Ukraine under Soviet domination - the many dead, both famous and not.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tempis Fugit

It seems just yesterday I was writing the Thanksgiving post, and now it's February and Punxsutawney Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter. Or is it four? I'm never sure, but it's cold and gray here in Michigan, and chances are good that it will stay this way until sometime in April.

I'm leaving today for India, to spend a month in Vellore. I'll be working and visiting with friends, and enjoying my friend Jiji's wonderful cooking. I love southern Indian food. I will try to blog while I'm there–I've added a link to an India blog in my blogroll on the right. Check it from time to time.

Can't say I'll miss the campaign much–I'm getting tired of it already, and there's nine months to go. It's going to be a very long year.........

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Day

Today is the day that we Americans celebrate the beginning of the long genocide of our original native population. We also give thanks to the applicable deity for what we have (for many, it's much less than last year and barely enough to get by). Mostly, we just eat a lot of turkey, watch football (some) and gather with family.

Happy Thanksgiving/Turkey Day!

And who can forget this perennial favorite:

(cartoon from this site)

Tooth Abcess

According the folks at the Dove Dental Center (from whose site I cribbed this text):
A dental abscess can cause pain in the face (usually from an upper tooth), or pain in the area of the lower jaw (mandible) - (usually from a lower tooth), due to a build up of pressure from an infection which is emanating from the pulp chamber of the tooth, causing pressure along tissue planes. The pain can be quite severe. You should seek advice from a dentist urgently to get the abscess drained. It may be possible to drain the pus through the tooth itself so the tooth can be saved (root canal treatment). If not, the tooth will need to be extracted to prevent the abscess from recurring.
There is nothing quite like the pain of a tooth abscess--it is constant, throbbing, and eventually involves the entire head. Sleep is impossible without serious narcotics (Vicodin is my palliative of choice). It is the worst pain I have ever experienced, not having gone through childbirth nor passed any kidney stones.

Luckily, although I don't have dental insurance, I do have money, so I could afford to get my tooth treated and avoid death. The pain is better, although not completely gone, but I still don't have much of an appetite and a do have a fold drainage in my mouth (from the opening left in my tooth). I am mid-root canal, awaiting subsidence of infection and inflammation in my tissues before the tooth can be closed up again.

My dentist had closed the tooth with a soft plug after initially draining it; this caused a second night of excruciating pain and heavy narcotic use before he pulled the plug out. I am now recovering, and hope to return to blogging and other normal activities soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans' Day

Armistice Day was meant to commemorate the end of WWI, the war to end all wars. (That didn't work out, did it?) The war officially ended on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

In the US, it has been transformed into an all-purpose "honor the veterans" affair. If only our government did more than pay them lip service this one day a year.


I'm back...almost.  It's November, gray, cloudy and cold, and I'm working away at the dining room table.  I'm trying to finish up my NEJM CME (it was due November 1, but I've gotten an extension).  Once I finish, I hope to have more time to blog and do other things I enjoy.

It's been a busy few months.  I spent September and the first week of October in Ukraine.  I visited seven orphanages with our UCARE group, and two more on my own.  I visited family and friends, and stayed quite busy.  I saw many parts of Ukraine that I'd never had a chance to visit before (Transcarpathia, Chernihiv).  When I got home, I found that I had a heavy work schedule--52 hours a week--and managed to catch some unpleasant virus at work.  I ended up spending my "free" time sniffling, sneezing and sleeping.  I'm only now beginning to feel better. 

And the were the funerals--two in the past three weeks.  Two close family friends passed away, so it's been a sad time all around.  

But things are finally looking up a bit.  I have more normal work hours beginning next week, so I can finish unpacking, get my teeth cleaned, and try to catch up on my photos and blogging.  And last weekend was Val's annual birdseed sale: I stocked up on thistle, suet and seed, and refilled my feeders, which have been empty since long before I left for Ukraine.  I wondered how long it would take the birds to find their way back.  It took only a few minutes. 
From my seat at the dining room table/desk, I can see a bevy of winter plumage goldfinches feeding away greedily at the thistle seed.

Nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers and others sneak in for a bit of suet.  The jays hog the feeder, scattering seed everywhere, and the titmice, sparrows, cardinals and juncos grab a bite when they're not around. My smart squirrel had once more figured out how to get into the feeder, so I had to adjust the baffle and move the feeder again, keeping it away from overhead lines and nearby branches.  So far, so good, but it's only a matter of time.  (I'm not cruel, but the ground is covered with thousands of acorns for her, and the seed is meant for the birds.)

Oh well, back to work.  I'm through April 12th, and have to get through the end of June as quickly as possible.....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


After splashing out on really good candy (Reese's cups, Kit-Kats, Almond Joy and Gummi body parts), I was disappointed to have only THREE trick-or-treaters come by my house. They told me I had the best stuff, but still....

My personal favorite, Gummi body parts. The eyes are the best.
They come in a coffin box!

I tried. I put the lights on, and I sat near the door just in case anyone came by. But I haven't been home for Halloween in so long that no one is used to stopping by. Most kids bypassed my street completely, as the houses were mostly dark, their occupants having departed for warmer climes.

Not that it was cold. Global warming has meant a very warm October, and the leaves on the trees have barely begun to turn, much less fall. I miss autumn--I don't think we're having one this year. We will segue from late summer to early winter without our usual wonderful autumnal interlude.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Gone Traveling

Click on map to enlarge

I'm off for a five week stay in Ukraine. I'm going to be busy–I have family to visit, and lots of work to do for UCARE. We will be interviewing our scholarship students, buying goods, and visiting nine different orphanages to distribute the goods.

I'll be back in October.

It's not what most people would consider a vacation.........

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Recipe for Disaster

Inaction has its consequences. From Attytood:

WASHINGTON -- President Bush yesterday proposed deep cuts to federal health care, education, and transportation programs, searching for new money in the federal budget to pay for increasingly costly defense programs and the war in Iraq.
-- Boston Globe, Feb. 6, 2007.

WASHINGTON - The White House said Thursday that an inspection two years ago found structural deficiencies in the highway bridge that buckled during evening rush hour in Minneapolis.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the Interstate 35W span rated 50 on a scale of 120 for structural stability.

"This doesn't mean there was a risk of failure, but if an inspection report identifies deficiencies, the state is responsible for taking corrective actions," he said. The bridge was 40 years old.
-- AP, Aug. 2, 2007.

A 2005 federal study found that the bridge was "structurally deficient."

"A structurally deficient bridge might be one not adequate for the traffic it takes, but not necessarily dangerous," Burnett (former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board) said. "But a lot of structurally deficient bridges are dangerous."

Burnett said he believed it would be the state's responsibility to check on the bridge in light of those reports. But he conceded that there could be a federal role and an issue of whether fed standards are adequate.
-- Scripps News, Aug. 2, 2007.

Recipe for disaster: Find a problem. Ignore it (for over two years).

We were warned about New Orleans–we knew the levees wouldn't hold. But funding for their repair was cut, and the money diverted to Iraq.

We were warned about our bridges, and our crumbling infrastructure. But there is no money to pay for the repairs–it has all been diverted to Iraq, and to fund huge tax cuts for the richest of the rich.

Then again, what did you people expect, when you continue to vote for a party that doesn't believe in government, and is hell bent on PROVING that government doesn't work?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Five Down, Two To Go

A recent world-wide survey has come up with a list of the NEW Seven Wonders of the World. The old list of wonders was centered around the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and consisted of

Great Pyramid of Giza
Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Temple of Artemis
Statue of Zeus at Olympia
Mausoleum of Maussollos
Colossus of Rhodes
Lighthouse of Alexandria

Seven Wonders, as depicted by 16th-century Dutch artist Marten Heemskerk

Of the old wonders, only the pyramids of Giza still remain. I had a chance to see (and crawl through) them back in 1990.

A new list of wonders, spanning the globe, was announced 7-7-07. Of the new seven wonders, I have visited the five:

Great Wall of China

Machu Picchu, Peru

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Taj Mahal, India

This leaves two items on my to-do list:

Petra, Jordan

Christ the Redeemer (statue), Brazil