The Tempest Online™

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Archive for February, 2006

Sydney Beckons!!!

Posted by Daniel on February 28, 2006

I received another email from the gang in Sydney, today.
Kind of made me a little blue…I miss them so much.
Yes, Trevor and Ian and Gerald and Natalie, Steve and I will be coming for a visit as soon as we possibly can. Thanks for the great compliments and well-wishes. As promised, I’ve posted this message to all of you here on the blog.
(honestly, you guys are truly still a bunch of attention whores!!)
I love you guys!!

P.S. Yes, I still remember the trip to Katoomba Falls.
(I still have the scar as a reminder of Natalie’s camera expertise!!)

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The Start Of Something Big…?

Posted by Daniel on February 27, 2006

Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration’s latest stumbles — from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security — are taking an election-year toll on the party back home.

The GOP governors reluctantly acknowledge that the series of gaffes threatens to undermine public confidence in President Bush’s ability to provide security, which has long been his greatest strength among voters.

“You’ve got solid conservatives coming up speaking like they haven’t before, it’s likely that something’s going on at the grass roots,” said Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina. “Whether it’s temporary or not remains to be seen.”

The unease was clear in interviews with more than a dozen governors over the weekend, including nearly half of the Republicans attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association. The annual conference was taking place in a capital enthralled by the political firestorm over government plans to approve takeover of operations at some terminals at six U.S. ports by a company owned by the United Arab Emirates government. (Full story)

Democrats see opportunity, and even those in conservative states say the administration’s missteps will have a ripple effect politically at home. “I do think there’s a considerable degree of skepticism about what’s been happening at the federal level,” said Democrat Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas. “If you didn’t pick it up on Katrina, you did when you tried to help your parents” get drugs through the new Medicare program.

Bush’s weakness

But it wasn’t Bush’s political opponents alone who saw weaknesses. So did his allies — listing the days of chaos in New Orleans after the hurricane, the nationwide confusion over the drug prescription program that forced many states to step in to help seniors get medications, and the ports security debacle that has drawn criticism from

Republican governors are openly worrying that the Bush administration’s latest stumbles — from the natural disaster of Hurricane Katrina to those of its own making on prescription drugs and ports security — are taking an election-year toll on the party back home.

leading Republicans in Congress and the states.

“I don’t think he was well served on the port issue by the bureaucracy,” said Republican Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, who is leading a united front of governors pushing back on potential reductions to National Guard forces. “He’s at the forefront on national security. When you combine this flap on the ports, and these potential cuts on the military, you need to make sure that issue doesn’t slip away. It’s one of his strengths.”

He also said the lack of communication from the administration on the Guard issue has been a problem. “There has been too much we have learned outside the loop. It’s time we be inside the loop.”

Republican Bob Taft of Ohio offered judgment on Katrina: “This is hindsight, but it was a mistake to bury FEMA under the Department of Homeland Security.”

In his state, where manufacturing job losses have left much of the Midwest lagging behind the improved economies that much of the rest of the country has seen in the past two years, the economy plays a bigger role. “There’s a sense it’s more wrong direction than right track. That affects how they feel about the president, it affects how they feel about anybody in power. It’s bound to play some role in the elections” for Congress and the governors race.

Other Republican governors said that while constituents back home were paying attention, much could change for the better before elections nine months off.

The Medicare program left several governors shaking their heads, though they said efforts to improve it were helping. “Probably the design of the plan could’ve been better,” said Republican Don Carcieri of Rhode Island. Bush has called for steps to limit the confusion. Still, Carcieri was sure voters would forgive, both on the drugs and on the hurricane response. “They’re more understanding of that kind of thing. They understand they’re only human.”

The bigger problem, as he and several others saw it, is Iraq. “The biggest cumulative effect weighing on everybody is the war,” Carcieri said.

Even governors from parts of the country where support remains rock solid said they’ve seen a change as the months, and the deaths, piled up.

“What was ebullient before has now — it’s a more muted response. (Support for the war) still may be past the 51 percent mark, but it’s a quieter level,” Sanford said.

‘Anybody with a brain’

Republican Haley Barbour of Mississippi said midterm elections for second-term presidents are historically disastrous for parties in power, a fact that has Republican governors skittish about November. “Anybody with a brain in their heads knows that ’06 historically could be a weak year for Republicans,” said the former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It has less to do with the weakness of the president.”

For Republican Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who served in the administration as budget director and left to run for governor, the stumbles are undeniable but must be seen in context. “There’s a lot of lousy luck involved,” he said. “I’m not saying the White House hasn’t had better days, but I’m probably not nearly so hard on them as most.”

His return to a Washington weathering a barrage of criticism reminded him of the benefits of leaving. “I’m proud to have been associated with this administration. But second terms are tough. I think they’ve caught some bad breaks. I’m not yearning to be more than a tourist here.”

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Olympic Medal Count

Posted by Daniel on February 26, 2006

Country Total Medals Gold Silver Bronze
Germany 29 11 12 6
United States 25 9 9 7
Canada 24 7 10 7
Austria 23 9 7 7
Russia 22 8 6 8
Norway 19 2 8 9
Sweden 14 7 2 5
Switzerland 14 5 4 5
South Korea 11 6 3 2
Italy 11 5 0 6
China 11 2 4 5
France 9 3 2 4
Netherlands 9 3 2 4
Finland 9 0 6 3
Czech Republic 4 1 2 1
Estonia 3 3 0 0
Croatia 3 1 2 0
Australia 2 1 0 1

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The passing of Don Knotts and Darren McGavin

Posted by Daniel on February 26, 2006

Actor Don Knotts dies at 81.

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Don Knotts, who kept generations of TV audiences laughing as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” and would-be swinger landlord Ralph Furley on “Three’s Company,” has died. He was 81.

Knotts died Friday night of pulmonary and respiratory complications at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center, said Sherwin Bash, his friend and manager.

Griffith, who had visited Knotts in the hospital before his death, said his longtime friend had a brilliant comedic mind and wrote some of the show’s best scenes.

“Don was a small man … but everything else about him was large: his mind, his expressions,” Griffith told The Associated Press on Saturday. “Don was special. There’s nobody like him.

“I loved him very much,” Griffith added. “We had a long and wonderful life together.”

______________________________________________________

Darren McGavin, “A Christmas Story” father, dies at 83.LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Darren McGavin was painting a movie set in 1945 when he learned of an opening for a small role in the show, climbed off his ladder, and returned through Columbia’s front gates to land the part.

The husky, tough-talking performer went on to become one of the busiest actors in television and film, starring in five TV series, including “Mike Hammer,” and endearing holiday audiences with his role as the grouchy dad in the 1983 comedy classic “A Christmas Story.”

McGavin, 83, died Saturday of natural causes at a Los Angeles-area hospital with his family at his side, said his son Bogart McGavin.

McGavin also had leading roles in TV’s “Riverboat” and cult favorite “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Among his memorable portrayals was U.S. Army Gen. George Patton in the 1979 TV biography “Ike.”

Despite his busy career in television, McGavin was awarded only one Emmy: in 1990 for an appearance as Candice Bergen’s opinionated father in an episode of “Murphy Brown.”

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The Cardinal

Posted by Daniel on February 25, 2006

Every now and then, you’ll hear someone refer to the sighting of a cardinal – the red bird, not the red-cloaked priest – as being a portent of good luck. Never was I to believe in silly superstitions, though I must admit, seeing a cardinal always seemed to bring a smile to my face.

Perhaps it was mostly due to it’s sense of timing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cardinal during any season other than winter. One just never pays a lot of attention to birds at any time more than during winter. Everything seems so drab and colorless and then, without warning, a splash of brilliant red flutters into view. And if it snows in your neck of the woods, this is all the more striking. You really can’t help but smile when you see it.

Everything covered in a blanket of white seems frozen in time, rather drab and boring. Then, like Mother Nature doodling with her whimsical paintbrush, the cardinal appears from out of nowhere. Why this has been seen as a stroke of good fortune has always been beyond me. Until, that is, that one particularly nasty day after an ice storm.

It was wicked. One-and-a-half to three inches of ice had fallen, covering everything. Trees the night before had snapped and fallen everywhere. Power lines falling and transformers blowing all over town. We stood at the window and it really looked like the fourth of July. Power was out for over a week. We were in for a long, cold wait. The next day, we knew we had to go find wood and food.

Keeping in mind that I am one of those people you have to watch out for when driving in winter conditions – I’m always so busy worrying about how others are driving badly that I will, inevitably, cause a multi-car pileup – we thought it best to let my better half – who can drive in anything, anytime – do the driving.

It was bitter cold outside and we park in the back of the house. To the left of our cars, there is an over-hang which is our deck extended off of the main floor of the house. If it weren’t for the fact that the house was built in the mid to late twenties, this could have served as a nice carport. We got

into the car, freezing, and while waiting for the heater to do it’s work, we sat there looking out the windows at the frozen tundra that lay before us. Everything looked bleak and lifeless. A lesson to, in the future, plan better for such nasty weather.

Still waiting for the car to belch out some blessed heat, we both noticed a cardinal had landed on the ground under the deck/overhang. It was such a vibrant red it made a striking contrast to the dull ground it hopped around on. We emitted the usual “Oohs” and “Ahhs” and suddenly, it didn’t seem so nasty and dreary to be venturing out in the bleak beyond.

It’s times like these that make you stop and appreciate the wonder that is nature. My spouse and I held hands and saw that we could get through this nasty turn in the weather just fine.

Suddenly, as the cardinal whimsically went at his work pecking the ground for anything edible, or perhaps nesting material, the deck above him gave a blood-curdling groan and collapsed in a thunderous icy heap upon the unsuspecting colorful bird. The added weight of the ice sheet covering the deck was obviously too much weight to bear. All we could do was look on in horror and disbelief. When the carnage was over, there was but a large pile of rubble where our non-carport had once stood.

All we could do was stare at the horror before us and then look at one another in utter disbelief. We stared back at the wreckage before us and noticed that through the top of the pile, a single crimson wing was poking through. The very longest feather pointed out, seeming to point up to heaven in that “We’re number one” sort of way.

It was awful. It was sad. And it was a lesson. Maybe I was wrong all this time in thinking the sighting of a cardinal wasn’t a portent of luck. Or should I say…half right? While obviously not so lucky for the unfortunate cardinal, we realized that this could have been a carport and it could have been us under that pile of ice and broken wood.

We drove off to perform our appointed tasks thinking, “Thank you, Mr. Cardinal, for making me a true believer in the luck you bring. You certainly are number one.”

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You asked…I’ll tell…

Posted by Daniel on February 24, 2006

Yes, my favorite tree is the Willow.

Happy now?

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Oh, great wall of candy!!

Posted by Daniel on February 24, 2006


Why must you tempt me so?!

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Living In A House Of Cards

Posted by Daniel on February 23, 2006

What must it be like in W’s shoes these days? I’ve been asking myself a lot about what’s going through his head regarding current affairs. Surely he can’t think everything is still “okie dokie-hunky dory”.There looks to be the beginnings of a civil war in Iraq, and who didn’t see that coming? Famine and war in Darfur. Half of his base in Washington either under indictment or investigation for…well…you name it. New Orleans is planning to keep out “all the right people” in it’s reconstruction efforts. (basically, if you don’t have a job, you can’t come back)(what a crock!!!) The borders are so porous they might as well just put up screen doors as barriers. Our ports are about to be run by a country that, at BEST, can only slap the wrists of terrorists. Iran and North Korea want to play with enriched uranium and make oversized bottle-rockets of death. Scooter Libby is still leaking like a siv, and Abramoff is going to squeal like a newbie whose dropped the soap in front of Bubba in the shower at the Federal Prison!!

The list just goes on and on. It makes one wonder wether Bush is A) lost in his own mental ‘happy place’, or B) such a lame duck that those Republicans in Congress who are up for re-election can write off entirely those coat tails. I firmly believe it’s option “B”. Bush just doesn’t care about pissing off either his base or those in Congress because he has, at this point, nothing left to lose but his so-called Presidential legacy. To which nothing short of a cure for cancer, cars that run on chocolate AND actually walking on water are, at this point, his only hope.

Of course, he still hasn’t publicly endorsed his would-be successor for a White House bid, and why should he? Either he hasn’t yet picked a favorite, or right now the threat of his possible VETO being overturned by a Republican Congress has just made him say, “Ya’ know what, Anal Dwelling Butt Monkey…”, (Rove), “…screw all them assholes. They can all eat shit before I give ’em the benefit of my nuculur politikul savory…ah mean saavvy. Ah hell, let’s jest go shute sumem!”

Poor Laura. I guess she must know what it’s like to marry one of her students.

So, where will all of this end? Stay tuned. Something tells me he’s going to have a VERY interesting March.

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More Proof Of Gods’ Love

Posted by Daniel on February 21, 2006

From the wire at CNN

Bikers roll to military funerals to oppose anti-gay protests

FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky (AP) — Wearing vests covered in military patches, a band of motorcyclists rolls around the country from one soldier’s funeral to another, cheering respectfully to overshadow jeers from church protesters.

They call themselves the Patriot Guard Riders, and they are more than 5,000 strong, forming to counter anti-gay protests held by the Rev. Fred Phelps at military funerals.

Phelps believes American deaths in Iraq are divine punishment for a country that he says harbors homosexuals. His protesters carry signs thanking God for so-called IEDs — explosives that are a major killer of soldiers in Iraq.

The bikers shield the families of dead soldiers from the protesters, and overshadow the jeers with patriotic chants and a sea of red, white and blue flags.

“The most important thing we can do is let families know that the nation cares,” said Don Woodrick, the group’s Kentucky captain. “When a total stranger gets on a motorcycle in the middle of winter and drives 300 miles to hold a flag, that makes a powerful statement.”

At least 14 states are considering laws aimed at the funeral protesters, who at a recent memorial service at Fort Campbell wrapped themselves in upside-down American flags. They danced and sang impromptu songs peppered with vulgarities that condemned homosexuals and soldiers.

The Patriot Guard was also there, waving up a ruckus of support for the families across the street. Community members came in the freezing rain to chant “U-S-A, U-S-A” alongside them.

“This is just the right thing to do. This is something America didn’t do in the ’70s,” said Kurt Mayer, the group’s national spokesman. “Whether we agree with why we’re over there, these soldiers are dying to protect our freedoms.”

Shirley Phelps-Roper, a daughter of Fred Phelps and an attorney for the Topeka, Kansas-based church, said neither state laws nor the Patriot Guard can silence their message that God killed the soldiers because they fought for a country that embraces homosexuals.

“The scriptures are crystal clear that when God sets out to punish a nation, it is with the sword. An IED is just a broken-up sword,” Phelps-Roper said. “Since that is his weapon of choice, our forum of choice has got to be a dead soldier’s funeral.”

The church, Westboro Baptist Church, is not affiliated with a larger denomination and is made up mostly of Fred Phelps’ extended family members.

During the 1990s, church members were known mostly for picketing the funerals of AIDS victims, and they have long been tracked as a hate group by the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

The project’s deputy director, Heidi Beirich, said other groups have tried to counter Phelps’ message, but none has been as organized as the Patriot Guard.

“I’m not sure anybody has gone to this length to stand in solidarity,” she said. “It’s nice that these veterans and their supporters are trying to do something. I can’t imagine anything worse, your loved one is killed in Iraq and you’ve got to deal with Fred Phelps.”

Kentucky, home to sprawling Fort Campbell along the Tennessee line, was among the first states to attempt to deal with Phelps legislatively. Its House and Senate have each passed bills that would limit people from protesting within 300 feet of a funeral or memorial service. The Senate version would also keep protesters from being within earshot of grieving friends and family members.

Richard Wilbur, a retired police detective, said his Indiana Patriot Guard group only comes to funerals if invited by family. He said he has no problem with protests against the war but sees no place for objectors at a family’s final goodbye to a soldier.

“No one deserves this,” he said.

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Carnivale in Venice – 2006

Posted by Daniel on February 21, 2006

Thousands of people have crammed into St. Mark’s Square in the Italian city of Venice to watch the opening ceremony of the picturesque city’s carnival.

The Venice carnival inspires all types of people to don elaborate masks and costumes evoking styles from the eighteenth century, and parade along the city’s canals. The first day of the 10-day celebration is marked by a special event called the Angel’s Flight. A young woman in white glides down from St. Mark’s Campanile tower in a traditional ceremony to kick off the event. This year the chosen one was Manuela Levorato, Italy’s fastest sprinter. The carnival was first celebrated more than 1,000 years ago.

St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice

Below Are some of the colorful shots in today’s parade.




Photos courtesy of The Australian by AFP & Reuters

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