Friday, February 18, 2005

Make sure your child doesn't end up gay

A coworker of mine expressed his relief that, although his teenage son was caught looking at inappropriate things on the internet, at least he wasn't looking at naked men...

And I had a thought...

For all of you who feel this way, here's how to make sure you never hear your child say that he or she is gay. -Remind them often that homosexuality is bad. It's a crime against nature. If you're religious at all remind them that God hates gays. Homosexuality is a crime against God! Repeat this often enough that they know how important their "straightness" is to you. Punish them for watching TV shows portraying gays as "normal". Refuse to allow them to hang out with kids who may be gay. Make them know that your pride rests on their sexual prefrence.

That way, if they are gay, maybe they'll kill themselves before your friends find out.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The US is boycotting the Kyoto treaty

I'm not an environmental wacko, but am worried about how this will reflect upon the US's reputation internationally, especially after our snubbing of the UN about the war in Iraq.


"The Kyoto Protocol, the landmark UN treaty on global warming, took effect Wednesday after an agonising gestation, supported by 141 nations but boycotted by the world's biggest polluter, the United States." -Tribune de Geneve, Switzerland

"After years of delays, a world plan to fight global warming came into force on Wednesday, feted by its backers as a lifeline for the planet but rejected as an economic straitjacket by the US and Australia." -India Times

(“Until such time as the major polluters of the world including the United States and China are made part of the Kyoto regime, it is next to useless and indeed harmful for a country such as Australia to sign up,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard said.)

"It has the support of 141 countries but its future is clouded by a boycott by the biggest single emitter, the United States, which by itself accounts for more than a fifth of world pollution." -Turkish Press

"The United States, the world’s largest emitter of such gases, has refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm the economy and is flawed by the lack of restrictions on emissions by emerging economies like China and India." ABS-CBN news, Philippines

""Some commentators blame George Bush's administration for damaging efforts to prepare for a successor to the treaty, which expires in 2012. (¶) The US, the world's largest emitter of such gases - accounting for almost one-quarter of global emissions - has refused to ratify the agreement. It had agreed to a 7% reduction before Mr Bush denounced the pact in 2001." -The Guardian, UK

""It is unacceptable that the US and Australia should renege on their commitments as negotiated in 1997, and refuse to implement the modest limitations they originally agreed to when the consequences are global in magnitude," Worthington says." -ioL, South Africa

"Under Kyoto, the targets vary by region: The European Union is committed to cutting emissions to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012; the United States agreed to a 7 percent reduction before US President Bush denounced the pact in 2001." -China Daily

Gun Control

I love comments, so I'll feed this gun control issue a little bit here.

I'm a five foot-two, 130 pound girl with a gun. I use it for target shooting. I'm not exactly one of those "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands" people, but the gun control issue bothers me. I mean, many of the "gun control" laws that have been passed so far are idiotic. Background checks, even at gun shows are a good idea, though. They're quick and effective with little impact to retailers or customers.

Waiting periods are another story. Truthfully, I could live with a waiting period for an individual's first gun purchase. It might prevent "acts of passion" against self or others, and no one should just buy a gun on a whim -it takes time and practice to become skilled enough with a gun for it to be useful in hunting, sport, or home/self protection. A couple day's wait for your first gun is no big deal. I don't get waiting periods on subsequent gun purchases, however. What purpose do they serve? They make no sense, and laws that don't make sense should be repealed!

As for the Second Amendment; our forefathers were giving us a final measure for protecting our rights. This country was "won" by people banding together and fighting for independance. The idea may seem outdated to the average American citizen, but it's what Bush hoped would happen in Iraq, and having an armed population can only serve to ensure that the will of the people doesn't get overrun by a rogue government. The ramblings of the paranoid wacko? I know it sounds like it -we've all heard the "black helicopter" people, but in the end it's a good idea. It's "Plan Z". Perhaps Hitler said it best:

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so."
-- Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)

Obviously this doesn't mean that everyone should have a gun. It takes a lot of training and practice to be able to use a gun safely and effectively. Anyone who isn't willing to put forth the required time and effort shouldn't buy one.

As for the issue of kids and guns, it's a personal matter. Get rid of your guns entirely if you don't think you can keep your guns locked up or use a trigger lock or other safety device (but not "the safety" on the gun itself as it's easily turned off, even on accident!). If you feel you can effectively keep your kids from your guns, do so. Many things in a house can harm a child -parents must be responsible and keep all dangerous items away from their children.

Also, teach your kids about guns. They should know that if they see a gun they shouldn't touch it. They should tell an adult about it immediately. My parents did this for me, but my Dad also introduced me to guns when I was very little. My first "gun" was a Red Rider BB gun and it was too big for me when I got it! My Dad shortened the stock so I could hold it properly and then he taught me how to shoot cans out at my Grandpa's farm. It was a lot of fun, but as he showed me how to shoot, he also taught me basic gun safety. I was not to point it at anyone. I was not to put my finger on the trigger until the gun was pointed "down range" and I was ready to shoot. This served to remove the "mystery" of guns in general and enforced the rules that needed to be adhered to when he handed me a .22, and then a .38, etc. His reasoning was that if I ever found a gun out at home or in anyone else's home I wouldn't be curious about it or try to "play" with it. If a parent is comfortable with firearms and can teach their children these rules, I think this is a great way to protect your kids from gun "accidents".

In the end, it's my right to own a gun and I wish the Democratic party would come around to more sane views on gun control as I've been turned off by the Republican party over the last 8 years. Banning guns entirely makes no sense -I doubt the criminals will turn in their guns. It'd serve only to disarm law-abiding citizens and make us all easy targets for criminals. Look at Florida, for example. After they passed their concealed carry legislation crime went down on the street, but went up at airports. Why? Because people in airports can't carry guns. Hello? Who would want to rob someone who's potentially armed? But I won't go into concealed carry here...

...and you thought I was a liberal wacko!

Dumb names for cars

I was driving behind a minivan today, then I noticed the name... Oldsmobile Silhouette. Who in their right mind would name a minivan "Silhouette"?

Mmmm... boxy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Bill of Rights vs the Patriot Act

Bush: "To protect the American people, Congress must promptly renew all provisions of the Patriot Act this year."

According to the ACLU's summary of the Patriot Act:
  • Expands the government's ability to search private property without notice to the owner.
  • The government no longer has to show evidence that the subjects of search orders are an "agent of a foreign power".
  • The FBI does not even have to show a reasonable suspicion that the records are related to criminal activity.
  • Surveillance orders can be based in part on a person's First Amendment activities, such as the books they read, the Web sites they visit, or a letter to the editor they have written.
  • A person or organization forced to turn over records is prohibited from disclosing the search to anyone, limiting the ability of individuals to challenge illegitimate searches
I urge everyone to read the articles here:
There's even a copy of the actual Patriot Act there if you want to read "the real thing".

Do we really need to give up our rights in order to be secure?

A review of the Bill of Rights follows below. These ten amendments should be known by every citizen of these United States. The first ten amendments are what established this country as "free", and they should be defended as fiercely as our soil. We cannot let this President erode our freedoms in the name of security. To each one of you out there who stuck a "9/11 -we will never forget" sticker on your car -don't loose site of what you are giving up in your want for retaliation.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Wedding Cruise Is Chartered!

What's with my luck lately?

On Wednesday I called Fran, our travel agent, but got the receptionist. I left a message asking Fran to give me a call back about the cost of a cabin with 3 lower beds, and saying I had a question about insurance costs.

On Thursday I hadn't received a call back yet, and I wrote her an email outlining my questions and saying that I was disappointed in the lack of communication. I mean, we were still working on cabin pricing and the deadline for the deposit is just over a week away!

Fran called me Thursday afternoon and said she left a Voicemail earlier (I had missed it, whoops!). Turns out our ship's been chartered for the date we had chosen for our wedding cruise, and Fran's been trying to find out what Royal Caribbean was going to do with us. They usually put you on another date and give you some kind of a discount, apparently. So, it's a waiting game. Fran said she'd keep calling to find out what was going to happen, and she said she'd give me an update by Friday.

Friday I had a half-day because of the doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so I emailed Fran before leaving and gave her my home and cell phone numbers. I got no call on Friday. Beemster Travel's open until 1pm (according to their website), but I got no call on Saturday either.

This morning I emailed Fran again asking what was going on and telling her "I'd rather know what's going on then be left in the dark." 'cause that's how I feel. Like I'm in the dark. Here I am, with a wedding to plan, but the date is questionable now. All of my invitations went out with the old date on them, so now I'll have to send out new invitations (or, at least, follow-up letters). I wanted to book a year in advance so we could get all of our cabins right next to each other, but as time passes, that will be harder and harder. I want to tell the people who have said they're coming about the change, but it's silly to notify people when we don't have the new date set yet. It's all a big mess. I wish I could call Royal Caribbean myself just to get this straightened out ASAP. I thought that going through a travel agent would make things easier, but I'm going crazy due to lack of information here!

General Hospital II: My doctor's worse than my disease!

As you recall, in the previous episode, Erica's doctor suspected her hand pain was due to rheumatoid arthritis. He referred her to a rheumatologist who didn't take her insurance. Erica called her insurance company and got the name of a specialist who WOULD take her insurance (and was close to home) but he couldn't fit her into his schedule until a month later.

So, one month later, I show up at Edward's hospital way early for my appointment so I could pick up a copy of my x-rays from the radiology department that the rheumatologist requested I bring along to my appointment. I drive through the parking garage and finally find a spot on the roof. The sign near my car says "Stairs" and points left. I walk in that direction, open the door, and find myself in a pretty nasty looking stairwell. It doesn't look like a public area, but I walk down anyway (the sign told me to!). When I get down to the ground level, I'm in a small corriador with 2 elevators, 2 hallways, and a few offices. I decide to take the hallway that goes left, but there's nothing but offices that way. I go back and take the other hallway, and it looks like it's the same thing. After taking the elevator's up (maybe the lobby is on the 2nd floor?), then back down, and finally finding an odd hallway that went, like, half out-side -I eventually found the lobby.

From there the lady at the Information desk pointed me to radiology, and within 10 minutes I had a copy of my x-rays on CD for the rheumatologist. Next, I went back to the Information desk to find out where the specialist, Dr Munn, was located. The girl looked him up in a big book, then consulted with the other lady about where the office was and how to give me directions to it. After getting about half-way through the instructions, she gave up and walked me to the bank of elevators I saw when I first entered the hospital from that scary stairwell. She left me there, at the elevators, saying that he was on the 3rd floor. I pushed the "up" button while she helped an older woman who was as lost as I was when I first entered the hospital. (The sign that directed me to the stairs in the parking garage was clear enough, why not a sign like that near the elevators that says "LOBBY -->" ?

Anyway, I got off the elevator on the 3rd floor, and walked around looking for an office that said "Dr. Munn" or "Rheumatology" on it, and after finding "Rheumatology", found myself in a line waiting to check in. No biggie. I was over a half-hour early. As I got to the head of the line a man tried cutting infront of me, but I have mad anti-cutting skillz, so I beat the cane-carrying man to the counter (heh, take that!).

"Erica Steeve here for a 2:15 with Dr. Munn" I said. And the receptionist got a confused look on her face.

"Dr Munn is never here on Fridays" she said.

"WHAT!?! I've waited a month in pain and took a half-day off of work to come to this appointment!"

"Sorry, he's not here."

"Well, could you check to see if I'm in the computer? I was told I have an appointment with him today at 2:15pm."

"Well, Dr Munn works out of his Oakbrook office on Fridays. I'll call there and see if they know where he is."

So, I wait. About 5 minutes later she comes out and says that his answering service says that his office is at lunch until 2pm. "Well, what am I supposed to do?" I asked exasperated.

After finally getting her to try reaching the doctor's office directly instead of through his answering service (!?!) she still can't get anyone on the phone that can say where the doctor is or what I should do. I left the office with Dr. Munn's business card and slammed the door behind me on my way out.

As I ride the elevator back down to the first floor (to take the stairs to the 4th floor of the parking garage) I dial the number on the business card. I get a woman on the phone and I tell her my situation. She explains that Dr. Munn is in the Oakbrook office today, he only sees patients in the Naperville office by request.

Again, I explained that I've spent a month IN PAIN waiting for this appointment and ask what I should do. She gives me directions to the Oakbrook office and says I might still be able to make it. I look down at my watch, it's almost 2:00 -time for me to take my medication. I haven't had lunch yet, and I can't eat while I drive 'cause I'm in the Laser (stick-shift). I get in the car and start crying before I get out of the garage...

I pulled in the parking lot of the Oakbrook office at 2:15pm (I love the Laser), and quickly find Dr. Munn's office. The receptionist turns out to be who I talked to on the phone and she re-iterates that Dr. Munn can see me in Naperville if I request that at the time the appointment is made. It takes all I have to not catch her by the throat and tell her that if someone would have told me that my appointment was in Oakbrook I could have avoided this whole mess and saved about 60 miles on the car since I started out from work in Hinsdale, drove to Edward's Hospital in Naperville, then back to Oakbrook for this appointment. But, instead, I take a seat and wait for my name to be called.

When I get into the doctor's office I start to calm down and was suprised that my blood pressure was "normal". Dr. Munn ended up being a great guy. He explained everything well, and didn't seem to be in a hurry. Any questions I had were answered, and he even took the time to tell me about some exercises I could do to help stabilize my "floating patella". Early on in the exam he said he didn't think I have rheumatoid arthritis. He was able to feel nodules in my 2 most painful fingers and diagnosed the problem as "Trigger Finger". My treatment options are: rest and anti-inflammatory medication, a cortisone injection (which he readily admitted was very painful), and surgery (also painful, but very effective). I chose the drugs even though I've been on NSAID's of one sort or the other since November because of this pain and suspected arthritis. After reading up on it, however, I bet I'll eventually give in and go with the injection or surgery. I mean, obviously I'm no good at resting my fingers...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Jewelry Addiction

It's sad, but true. I -the original tomboy am now addicted to buying jewelry. It all happened when I was researching diamonds for my engagement ring. I ran into this forum: . It has a lot of great information, and the people on there are really helpful and knowledgable, but soon I was checking out the gemstone threads. I thought Alexandrite was really cool because it changes colors depending on what kind of light it is in, but it's pretty expensive. Then I found out that there are color-change sapphires and garnets as well. I found a small color-change garnet for $30 on and purchased it. Well, okay, so now I'll need a setting for it... My engagement ring is obviously pretty modern-looking, but I also like the art deco / filigree look of the 1920's era jewelry. So, I started looking at estate sale websites. I found lots of beautiful rings, but few settings or mountings that would take my small garnet. I did find, however, a really cute little butterfly wing necklace. There went another $60. Still looking for a setting, I've found one that I like on It's not exactly what I was looking for, but I like the price. This really isn't the gem to go all-out for anyway. It's only 6mm x 4mm. No, when I get the ring I really want...

Help! I'm turning into a girl!

On the other hand, it sounds like we might be getting our garage back soon. That means we can either start tearing down Ed's engine :-D or doing my timing belt change :-P

Monday, February 07, 2005

Your beautiful Royal Romance (R) wedding in the Royal Lavatory

Okay, so this idea to book the wedding ceremony through Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines was a big mistake. Turns out that the cute little wedding chapel that they tell you about online and in the brochure isn't necessarily where your ceremony will be performed. No, see, they'll tell you the time and location of your ceremony 2 weeks before the date. As for your last chance to cancel your wedding... 60 days prior. So, RCCL reserves the right to hold your ceremony wherever they want, and you have no choice but to go along with it.

Well, I don't consider myself picky, but I don't want to be married in a lounge. I could do the library, even -it'd kinda fit with Ed and I being the nerds that we are, but not the lounge.

Arg! So, I searched Google and found a few wedding consultants in Miami who set up beach weddings or whatever you want. The costs look cheaper or on par with what Royal Caribbean was going to charge for an onboard wedding, so maybe this will all work out painlessly afterall.

Another option is to pay RCCL $600 extra for a beach or courtyard wedding, but then they can't guarantee that it'll be handicap accessible, and we have to make sure that our guests (including a couple of people who have a hard time walking on uneven surfaces) can get to the ceremony site and that they have a place to sit.

I'd really like to do this witout Royal Caribbean anyway because their customer service over the phone has been horrible. Their website says to 'call their Royal Romance Wedding Coordinators and they'll take care of everything for you'. Well, I've called twice and both times I got someone who wouldn't offer any information at all. They'd just answer my questions with "yeah", "no", or "I guess". Not quite what I was expecting.