Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: February 2006 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

He is a uniter after all...

But it's a pyrrhic victory when he's united everyone against him.

The issue, of course, is the sale of the contract for the operation of six of America's ports to an Arab Emirate company. The sale apparently passed CFIUS's criteria, and therefore obtained the Bush Administration Seal of Approval.

But that wasn't enough for some folks. Apparently, the Treasury Department's version of "See-if-us" didn't satisfy the national security concerns of Congress and the Senate in regards to protection of our nation's borders.

Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader called Tuesday for the Bush administration to stop a deal permitting a United Arab Emirates company to take over six major U.S. seaports

Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House asks for a moratorium on the Dubai port deal.

At risk is the operation of maritime ports in: New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Miami, New Orleans, and Baltimore.

The issue has landed our administration firmly in the category that we've always suggested - that of self-preservation.

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff strongly defended the decision, which, given his decisive abilities during Katrina, should be roundly disavowed.

In contrast, Rep. Pete King (R), Homeland Security Chairman, is strongly against this transaction.

Interestingly enough, support for the president's position came from unexpected quarters - former Presindent Jimmy Carter (not likekly to gain dubya points with his base), and Senator John McCain, who, although he has been critical of the administration's actions, remains true to the principles.

CFIUS' economic based rulings have disapproved only one of the 1500 foreign investement cases brought before it. Yet dubya has full confidence in their ruling. Kinda like when he told Brownie he was doing a great job on Katrina, then canned him.

The current ruling affects the sale of the operating contract at six U.S. ports. They're currently operated by a privately held British company, and the contract is pending sale to a Middle Eastern company, which is owned by the Emir of Dubai.

When the Bush administration takes the high road, you know you can't trust them, because their actions have always belied their words.

Is it possible that Bush is generating this kind of publiciy to draw attention away from the Cheney fiasco? Or maybe to divert our doubts about the sincerity of his statements about converting America to alternate sources of energy?

Nah, there's something afoot here, and it probably can be traced to campaign contributions or some polaroids in the Emir's posession.

Proponents of the deal are claiming that the details have been public since November. It reminds me of when Arthur Dent claimed ignorance of plans to demolish his house, and the bureaucrat informed him that it was prominently displayed. No matter that it was displayed in the basement of the planning department, in the bottom of a locked locked file cabinet, tucked into an unused lavatory with a sign on the door that said "Beware of the Leopard".

Bush threatened to veto any legislation that would attempt to block the transaction. White House Counsel Dan Bartlett explained that dubya only did this because he was asked by a reporter if he would do so. Just because he said he would doesn't mean he really would, especially since his handlers didn't have a chance to cull the reporter out of the crowd prior to asking his question, which is kinda difficult to do aboard Air Force One.

It all boils down to whether we want state-sponsored companies in charge of our ports. Sure, it's a limited number of ports (suspiciously in Democrat dominated areas), and the controlling comapanies are not responsible for security (although the contract includes security responsibilities).

I'm getting a little nervous here. Is the government of Dubai sympathetic to our cause (protection from terrorist attacks)? Or are they interested in their own agenda (economic relations with the U.S.)?

Does fear play a part in this drama? Yes! Absolutely!

The question is - are there less benign areas of our economy in which Dubai can play a part that would allow them a profit? - Yes. Energy comes to mind.

And it would provoke a much lower level of anxiety than that which the Bush administration is trying to involve them in.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Live Green, go ...cabbage?

cabbage: the new alternate fuel source? Posted by Picasa

Hey, it gives me gas. Why couldn't it be an alternate fuel source?

With all the hype about corn being the leading source for alternate fuel, i.e. E85 ethanol, there's not a big push to develop alternative fuels other than the ones already being developed by the big 3. With cabbage being naturally self-multiplying, there should be some research in this area. But convincing GM to shift its research, and its production schedules, is most likely a wasted effort.

So when you see the commercials for live green, go yellow, keep in mind that what you're seeing is a mindset that is not likely to change for expedience, and a marketing campaign that will not bend for environmental improvement. It's only there to sell cars and trucks.

Cheney - just asking for it

Okay, I'll kick him one more time while he's down, and then leave it alone (if I can).

Feaux News is calling for an end to the media circus surrounding the coverage of Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face. I'm sorry, but it's just so easy to plug away at the guy who's led us down one dark path after another, and then tops it off by shooting his friend in the face. But I'll try - after today. Think of this as Fat Tuesday, before Lent makes me repent.

In comments on the trial of Scooter Libby, Cheney says he has the power to declassify information. Not so, as far as I can tell. This must be in the same secret part of the Constitution, not available to the general public, that Bush claims allows him the power to violate civil liberties and spy on Americans.

Cheney's former chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, told a grand jury he was "authorized by his superiors" to disclose classified information from an intelligence estimate on Iraq to reporters, the special prosecutor investigating the 2003 leak of a CIA agent's identity told Libby's attorneys. The prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, did not identify who those "superiors" are.

In an interview Wednesday with Fox News, Cheney said the case was "nothing I can talk about." But he said he had the authority to declassify material under an executive order that "focuses first and foremost on the president, but also includes the vice president."

If someone can show me where this executive order is, I'll retract my statement publicly. I have a feeling, though, that this will go into sound-bite history, and we won't hear about it again.

As for Cheney shooting his friend in the face, Common Sense has an interesting wrap-up - in absence of our daily Daily Show episode - that succinctly covers the pertinent points rather admirably.

Along these lines is The Agonist, pointing us toward a site where Cheney could have taken a quail hunting course that could have helped him avoid shooting his friend in the face.

I took this course, and passed it. Okay, on the second try. That Harry Whittington is a wily character.

On a final note, Sploid ponders whether shooting his friend in the face is why Cheney chose not to reveal the accident right away. Apparently, there were two female members of the hunting party who were not the wives of the male members of the hunting party. I'll wait for you to catch up.

Not that these were nubile babes or anything, but they were hustled off the scene before any statements were made to law enforcement or the media. Draw your own conclusions.

As a close to my final post on the fact that Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face, it should be said that this story is far from over. There are questions as to what actualy happened that weekend, and to what are the implications of our attitiudes towards gun control related to hunting (such as, making sure that your field of fire is not inhabited by your hunting companions).

And most importantly, that your hunting fiasco is not haunted by evidence of extra-marital affairs. 'cause as we've learned, it's worse to have extra-marital affairs than to screw the entire country.

Fair, Balanced and Filtered

Fox refuses to air DeLay Ad

Here's an interesting twist. Fox News in Houston is refusing to air an ad produced by Tom DeLay's folks that attacks democratic suppporter George Soros for spending millions in the attempt to defeat Bush in 2004, and to help produce the ads attacking Tom DeLay that were refused by the media last month.

Was this an attempt to appear "fair and balanced"? Regardless, it personifies the power that the media have over the information we receive. If they had agreed to air both ads - one for, and one against DeLay - then it would truly be fair and balanced. Instead, it proves that the information we receive from the media is filtered in order to just inform us of what they want us to hear.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cheney update

Man shot by Cheney has minor heart attack

Dick Cheney received a warning from the Texas Fish and Game Department - apparently he didn't have the proper "lawyer" stamp on his hunting licence. I'm sorry, the "upland game birds" stamp. It's so hard to determine between the two.

Oh yeah, and Whittington had a heart attack, apparently because he has shotgun pellets lodged in his heart put there when Cheney shot him.

If he wasn't the vice president, Cheney would be up on charges right now. The cause of the accident was attributed to a "judgement factor". This says a lot about Cheney and his leadership abilities.

But it's not over yet. Only time will tell whether Cheney will have to answer for his stupidity. I mean, anyone who shoots their hunting partner, aside from being the brunt of their friends' jokes, has to answer to the law eventually.

And Cheney is definitely being the brunt of their friends' jokes, as well as everyone else in the country. Everyone from the president to the press corps is wearing orange and making the most of the comic side of this.

But the issue is real - gun control could have prevented this - and nothing the administration can do will change that. There are no indications that either Cheney or Whittington had taken any hunter safety classes, yet were allowed to weild potentially lethal weapons.

Cheney exemplifies the NRA advocate. Yet now he stands as an example of why firearms should be regulated. If someone like this can brandish a weapon in such an irresponsible manner, what's to keep Joe Sixpack from using this example to justify his irresponsible hunting accidents which kill people on a regular basis.

Guns don't kill people. Irresponsible people with guns do.

And irresponsible people with guns are out there. Just waiting for you to get in the way.

Happy Valentine's Day!

I can't fax you my love,
I can't email my heart.
I can't see your face in cyberspace,
I don't know where to start.
I'm light years behind,
from this age they call stone.
I'm just a carbon-based caveman;
just flesh and bone.

If men came from Venus,
and women came from Mars,
then I'd be lunching with my boyfriends,
while you girls talked about cigars.
But that's not how it happened,
evolution took a different turn.
We may be creatures with some unique features,
but we've still got a lot to learn.

Now, we live in this age of computers.
They run everything in the world.
I'm a little behind on this technical climb,
and you are an internet girl.
I've got words but no processor,
I've got feelings but I don't know DOS.
So I just have to go back to basics
to try to get my point across.

I can't fax you my love,
I can't email my heart.
I can't see your face in cyberspace,
I don't know where to start.
I'm light-years behind,
from this age they call stone.
I'm a carbon-based caveman;
just flesh and bone.

Flesh and Bone - Jimmy Buffett

Assault and Peppered

I know that this news item has been done to death (correction: I'm told the issue is now in stable condition, but still in ICU), but I can't resist getting my potshots in. Dick Cheney, aside from helping send thousands of American soldiers to their deaths in Iraq, normally only shoots himself in the foot.

Now it's also well-known that he also shoots small, farm-raised birds and his friends that accompany him. After emerging from his vehicle, and accompanied by his secret service entourage, he was tracking a coven of quail with his weapon and let loose just as his friend came into the path of the shotgun blast.

Apparently, his 78 year old victim and friend, Austin attorney Harry Whittington, was retrieving some previously shot quail and didn't bother to announce his return to the hunting group.

Although Cheney didn't report the shooting, once it hit the press he blamed Whittington for getting in the line of fire. Whittington should have announced himself. "Hey Dick! I'm not a bird in an orange vest. It's me, remember! I was just here".

Cheney also blamed the incident on the sun being in his eyes. I always thought that was one of the primary rules in gun safety - If you can't see, don't pull the trigger. But what do I know? I'm not a member of the NRA.

Whittington is a well-seasoned fundraiser for the Republican party. Well, maybe not well-seasoned enough, since Cheney felt the need to pepper him - with birdshot.

Cheney stands behind his decision to shoot at what he thought were quail, because all intelligence at the time pointed toward quail being in his line of fire. And in response to questions about reporting the incident, White House spokeslemming Scott McClellan informs us that by talking about it now, we're letting the quail know that we're hunting them. This is paramount to giving aid and comfort to the enemy. And if we continue, the quail win.

Whittingham, in the meantime, is currently undergoing tweezer therapy, although there will still be many pellets imbedded in his face, neck and torso, and still won't comment. I guess that's a small price to pay to maintain party loyalty. And boy, does he have some favors coming.

When asked why there was no official announcement of the event from the White House, McClellan waivered:

The White House did not inform the national media of the accident, but the vice president’s office confirmed the story after journalists called to ask about the report on the Caller-Times Web site nearly 24 hours after the shooting.

On Monday, McClellan faced a combative press corps asking why the delay in disclosure took place and asking why it was announced by a private citizen rather than the White House or Cheney's office.

"That's one way to provide information to the public," McClellan said.

"I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job," he added.

Sounds like their response to many issues, including Katrina. I guess when you have a boss like Bush, the bar gets set pretty low.

Whittington, who had raised a lot of money for the Republican Party in Texas, was rewarded for his efforts by then-Governor Bush with a seat on the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

So what have we learned from this little episode?

  • Guns don't kill people; Dick Cheney does (or could, if given the proper ammunition).
  • It's a good thing they didn't trust him with anything deadlier that training-wheel bird-shot.
  • What our government response will be to "avian flew".
  • If your face is full of pellets, it's better to shut up than lose your coveted political appointment.
  • If friends of the administration get blasted for getting in the way of their leaders' blind pursuits, what chance does the average American have?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Again, the administration claims ignorance

In another classic case of the White House not knowing what's going on, they belatedly put the gag on Michael Brown, who began testifying today before the congressional committee investigating the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

At the beginning of the session, the committee chairperson made it very clear that she had contacted the White House to see if executive privilege applied to Brown, which would mean he wouldn't be allowed to discuss any communication between himself and the oval office.

The white house declined, and Brown began detailing the sad chain of non-events that led to the worst aftermath of the worst natural disaster in our nation's history.

A couple of hours later, White House spokeswhore Scott McClellan was angrily waving a copy of the New York Times on the doorstep, ranting about misrepresentation. True to their style, the administration claimed ignorance of the hearing.

Next thing you know, Brown's not allowed to talk about any communications he had with the president regarding the disaster.

It's no suprise, but it's becoming apparent that the only government agency that did what it was supposed to do during and after Katrina was the National Weather Service.

Unfortunately, no one took them seriously. Two days after landfall, dubya was still on vacation at his ranch, da veep was fly-fishing in Wyoming, The chief of staff was in Maine, and Chertoff boarded a plane to Atlanta to attend a conference on avian flu.

The state was unprepared, the city was undecided, and everyone was understaffed and undersupplied.

Of course, it didn't help that the National Guard troops that normally would have been available to help, were off fighting dubya's war instead of being there like they were supposed to, just for such an emergency as this.

Its obvious that our federal government is not equipped to handle natural disasters. They can bluster all they want about terrorism, but when it comes down to it, they don't know how to deal with Mother Nature and her tantrums.

Should FEMA be a part of Homeland Security? It's obvious that they're not getting the attention they deserve, based on the money going to anti-terrorist activities vs. protection from natural disasters.

Let's hope that the hearings being held will shed some light on where our priorities lie, and not just on where the blame lies in this national disaster.

Speaking of scary...

As usual, most of the excitement at the Super Bowl this year didn't take place on the field. And although we didn't have any "wardrobe malfunctions", it was still an interesting day.

Also as usual, we overdid it on the snackage. This is the time of year when we tend to overindulge culinarily without actually eating anything substantial. Chips, wings, shrimp, nuggets - basically anything that can be dunked into a sauce or dip.

This is also the one time of year we actually watch commercials. Not that the game wasn't almost exciting. Sure, Seattle was in it for the first time ever. And Pittsburgh, well they were good in the 70s. But it was really about the halftime show and the commercials.

Speaking of the halftime show, it's a good thing they got away from the sexual content of previous years, eh? Yeah, Mick kinda mumbled through the racier lyrics of Rough Justice. And unless you had any imagination at all, you wouldn't see the symbolism of the giant tongue-shaped stage, or understand what the Rolling Stones were singing about in Start Me Up and (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Subtlety aside, it was just good, clean family entertainment. And Mick didn't show any nipple.

There was a "wardrobe malfunction" reference in one of the commercials, though. Apparently, a sale was going to fail, so it was decided to send in the Go-Daddy girl. Her halter strap breaks, and an old guy (the buyer, we presume) reaches for his athsma inhaler. Clever, but was it effective? First, we didn't get to see what he saw, and second, what does Go-Daddy sell, anyway?

Among the other ads were big production numbers, such as a Full Throttle tanker truck being followed by a testosterone parade, Burger King burger diving - a Busby-Berkely number featuring trapeze veggies and a bun babe, and Budweiser football on the Range featuring all manner of barnyard animals and a streaking shaved lamb.

There were cute ads, such as Hummer3 being the love child of a Godzilla knock-off and Robotman, and a hamster mascot hanging with Ronald McDonald (was that Michael J. Fox in the hamster suit?).

There were almost-funny ads, including two from Ameriquest, whose theme was "don't judge too quickly". In one, an intern zaps an insect with defibrilator paddles, then says "that killed him" just as the patient's family walks into the hospital room. In another, a woman tries to get past the sleeping passenger next to her on a plane. The lights come on while she's straddling him with her skirt hiked up.

Also almost funny was HEBs ad featuring David Carr carrying in groceries by the armload. According to his wife, he doesn't like sacks.

There were some decidedly un-funny ads, which I won't even acknowledge by mentioning them here. And I'm a little disappointed by, whose icon - the Big O - wasn't used as a double entendre even once that I could tell. They should take barely-subtle lessons from the Stones if they want to get my attention.

Oddly enough, the only actually funny commercials were both done by Pepsi. Diet Pepsi came in second with a series of commercials where it gets an agent. In the first, it stars in a music video (kinda lame), but then it co-stars with Jackie Chan in an action flick. The agent insists it doesn't do stunts, so Diet Coke stands in and gets crushed. It would almost make we want to drink Diet Pepsi if it tasted any good.

The funniest commercial was for Sierra Mist, where a guy gets stopped at airport security. The agent (Kathy Griffin?) passes the metal detector over the soda bottle, making noises. The guy calls her on this, she tells her partner they have a troublemaker, and her partner snaps on his latex glove. The guy says "I'm good" and moves on.

And now, it seems, scientists are using brainscan images recorded while people watched these ads to see which ones produced favorable responses. Not surprisingly, the Sierra Mist ad topped the list, along with one from Disney, which I must have missed.

Every year at Super Bowl time, an unofficial, often more engaging, contest takes place between the 30-second commercials that air before, during and after the game.

Companies like Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch, Disney and pay megabucks for the chance to go down in the history of public opinion as the funniest, most dramatic or most shocking advertiser during the country's most-watched program. Eliciting emotion in a commercial can be considered a factor for positive remembrance--and with data on brain response, the competition could reach new heights.

The researchers at UCLA and FKF Applied Research used fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging, to measure the activity of brain regions associated with key emotions in viewers. "NFL Dreamers" elicited strong responses in the orbito-frontal cortex and the ventral striatum, two brain regions associated with the processing of rewards, they said. Bud Light's "Employee Incentive Plan," in contrast, induced anxiety. FedEx's "Caveman" failed to trigger much activity at all.
However, most of the ads--including FedEx's--had one response in common: repelling viewers.

"Almost all the ads induced their greatest activity in the amygdala, a center of the brain most associated with detecting threats or danger," Joshua Freedman, a UCLA clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and co-founder of FKF Applied Research, said in a statement.

And The Agonist brings up a very good point:

That's scary that technology can measure the effectiveness of advertisements! Means governments will use it next for the best propaganda money can buy. Perhaps they already are?

American Pie 3: Cheney puts his staff in it

Cheney OK'd leak in CIA case

"No comment" is a good response to hear from our current administration. It means they haven't had time to think of a good lie, or semi-truth, yet.

And that's the response from Dick Cheney's and Scooter Libby's lawyers and White House spokeslemming Scott McClellan on the report that Cheney gave approval for Libby to leak Valerie Plame's identity, who was an active CIA agent at the time, in order to punish her husband, Joseph Wilson, for pointing out that we had no justification for starting the war in Iraq.

When Bush stated in 2003 that he would seek out and punish anyone who leaked national security information, he was just telling the people what they wanted to hear. He didn't really mean it. Kinda like when he said he'd reduce our dependence on foreign oil. He was just generalizing.

"It was an example"

At least that's what his Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said the day after dubyas State of the disUnion address last week.

Such is the case in the Valerie Plame case. Bush vowed to bring to justice anyone who was involved in outing the CIA agent, which is a treasonable offense. When Scooter Libby was indicted, he changed it to punishing anyone who broke the law.

Judging from this administration's more-than-loose interpretation of the law regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), it's got to be pretty hard to break the law when you can bend it into an unrecognizable form.

Now that his number two man, Dick Cheney, is implicated, the law will become a shadow of its former self - vaguely reconizable as a law, yet totally unrelated to its intent, which was supposed to prevent jeapordizing national security by revealing our covert agents, and therefore placing agents and entire operations at risk.

How's that for jeapordizing up the war on terra, just to cover their backsides?

Why was there no surveillance on these activities? Obviously it posed a risk to our national security. Is it because there were no parties that were officially tied to Al Qaeda operatives? What about Bush? Didn't he have personal friends in the Bin Laden family? Surely the web of surveillance covered this relationship. And if not, why not?

To the unitiated, this may seem curious. But to anyone who understands the policy of self-preservation, its obvious how the commander-in-chief can limit the scope of the investigation to exclude any embarrassing illuminations. Kinda like how members of the Bin Laden family were allowed to leave the country, without being questioned, immediately following 9/11, that horrendous event that our illustrious leader is so prone to exploit whenever he needs to inflame fear in order to divert attention from his illegal and immoral activities.

So now we wait to see where the administration goes from here. Do they try to portray the traitorous activities of the VP as patriotic actions (anyone who's against the war is against America), or as justifiable actions against the enemy (dissent = aid and comfort to the enemy)?

It'll be interesting to see how they twist this one to say that it was anything but illegal and traitorous. But they've done it before.

And that's what's scary.

FISA. It's NOT everywhere you want it to be...

Groundhog Day occurred. What a bunch of crock. Begun in Germany as a folk tale/superstition, and scheduled on February 2nd because it was halfway through the winter. It epitomizes how man's lack of understanding leads to his attempted explanation of the world around him.

Which leads to our current executive branch of government.

We had a State of the Union address, which means that our fearless leader, Gee Dubya, felt the need to explain to the 'murcan people how that when he broke the law, it was for our own good.

He began by thanking the Congress for inviting him to speak, when we all know he called the meeting. We also know, from that dastardly mainstream media, that Cindy Sheehan, notorious mother-of-a-soldier, was in the audience, but was arrested because she might have been a nuisance, and was held until the state of the disunion was over, then released.

It was also curious that the most thunderous applause ocurred among the Democrats when dubya's speech mentioned that Congress failed to pass his Social Security "reform" efforts.

On the other side of the chamber, however, the lemmings were standing and sitting so often that it reminded me of a Catholic Mass. Drinking games aside, dubya's references to 9/11 and "nucular" weaapons were making me so nauseous that I couln't stand it anymore, and had to turn the TV off - something the bedwetters and self-rightous don't seem to have figured out how to do yet.

One thing that’s obvious is that dubya was counting on his State of the disUnion address to bolster his polling numbers. The question is why. He’s already a lame-duck, and only into his sixth year. He’s already isolated his base by embracing immigration labor and waffling on other conservative values.

And he’s proven that he can’t be trusted to tell the truth. Cases-in-point include his relationships with Jack Abramoff and Big Oil. Aside from the fact that he’s had numerous personal meetings with Abramoff, he also claims to plan on reducing American dependence on foreign oil by 2025, when his actual plan is nothing near his claimed goal.

Dubya, in another attempt to divert popular opinion, referred to the successful identification of a plot to plane-bomb L.A. No details are available to determine whether these are the same intelligence sources that let us predict 9/11, but were ignored by the administration, or are a result of illegal surveillance.

One thing I haven’t figured out yet. The main argument for spying on the American people - I’m sorry, "terrorist surveillance" - is that if you don’t have anything to hide, what’s your problem with it. Well, if the administration has nothing to hide, why did they try to hide it?

Al "Gonzo" Gonzalez called it a "hypothetical question" back in 2005. Bush denied it in 2004. Now it’s not only his Constitutionally protected right (someone show me where this is in the Constitution, please), but his duty as commander-in-chief (even though Congress explicitly denied this in the original temporary passage of the Patriot Act).

Gonzo even cited cases where Washington, Lincoln, Eisenhower and other presidents used surveillance in time of war. He neglected to mention the fact that this was before it was illegal to do so.

Well, that's this administration's spin for ya. Repeat something often enough, and it will become truth. Soon we'll be throwing our phone and internet records at this "smaller government" party, begging them to intrude more in our daily lives. 'Cuz it'll make us safer.

And we know how they'll use that information. If we dissent, they will destroy us. Like they did Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. But that's another story.

Is haiati plural for hiatus?

Yeah, I've been away for awhile. I've got a lot going on in my life right now, and haven't had any time for extracurricular activities, much less helping others understand what's really going on in their world. Selfish, you say? Maybe. But I've got to set priorities, and at the moment I've got some things to set right in my world before I can help others set things right in theirs.

At the moment, though, it seems that I have an opportunity to send a shout-out, so I'll take advantage of it.

To those of you who've stood by me, my appreciation and gratitude. You know who you are.

To those who've stuck with me without knowing my troubles, my admiration. You may not know who you are, but if you're reading this, you're probably one of them.

Thanks for bearing with me, y'all, and checking in even when there was nothing new. I'll try to make it up to you.