Check out this Inspirational Movie!

The Thrillionaires(SM) online community that I'm working on just came out with a 3 minute Inspirational Movie that is really great. I urge you to go watch it right now and to keep this email handy--it is super inspiring and uplifting:

The Thrillionaires Inspirational Movie

Every now and then, it's good to get some inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Chatima Tova, "May your name be written in the good book"


I'll Let You Go Now, It's Time To Set You Free

I returned to St. Simons with three intentions.

The first was to attend a book-signing party for Nancy Grace’s new novel. She made me a character in her book....... an ex-commissioner/activist who must stop the bad boys from building 24 story condos on the beach.

A party was planned at my friend Nancy Thomason’s used bookstore n the village, a place where locals have gathered knowing it would never change. A small slice of the way the island was twenty five to thirty years ago. Wonderful books on every subject you can imagine. A comforting kind of place to spend some time. Some island time.

Nancy G.. sent signed bookplates and we decided that since she couldn't come down I would, and we'd see how many books we could sell with me doing the signing. The ad in the local paper describes Nancy Grace's book, The Eleventh Vicim as : “A psychological thriller revealing much about corruption in Georgia.... from the Georgia Supreme Court all the way down to an easily bought off Glynn County Commission. “

Nancy Grace's book is fiction, but half of it is set on St. Simons Island. So Nancy T. and I thought it would be fun to bring me back to town to sign books for the locals. Kind of a strange concept, but we thought it would be fun to do.

Bill used to do book signings at my friend’s store...... the “best” parties they ever had.

Bill and I lived on the island for eighteen years, I was the islands commissioner, and I was an activist. I was Turtle Lady. I was in charge of protecting the Loggerhead turtles as best I could. Bill bought one of the first Toyota Four Runners for me to patrol the beaches. It was called the Turtle Mobile, and I was one of the few people allowed to drive the beaches. There was a sign on the side of my car that read: Glynn County Turtle Recovery Unit number 1. Of course it was the only one at the time, but when I designed it, I thought that would make it sound like it was one of many. My job was to count the nests. Keep track of dead Loggerheads, facilitate the removal of the bodies, count and log the number of nests that were laid, and later go back and count the empty egg shells so that the Department of Natural Resources would know how many baby turtles were hatched on St. Simons and Sea Island. Jekyll Island across the way is a state park, and they had their own people doing this work. Sometimes I would help out over on that island, as I had a trailer on the back of the Turtle Mobile for removing dead turtles.

I loved being Turtle Lady.

My second reason for returning to the island was to get the right whale plaque back, along with the bricks that people had bought when we were raising private funds to build the Whales in the Park Sculpture. When the "powers that be" upgraded the swimming pool and the playground in Neptune Park, they removed the bricks and the plaque that explained important facts about the right whale. The fact that it is the most endangered whale in the world, and it calves off of our island. This year was a record birthing year. Thirty five or six were born this year. The numbers are rising, but there is still a long way to go, if these animals are to be saved. Without the plaque explaining it, the sculpture looks like two whales in the playground, a mother and her calf, perfect for climbing on and sunning oneself, but no history connected to it.

The plaque cost about two grand, and was a gift to St. Simons from the right whale recovery people up north where the whales return every year after coming south to have their babies.

Why would they take away the plaque and destroy the bricks? In my opinion, they are afraid that saving the right whales will in some way effect the port, slow down the ships, thus costing money. And isn't everything always about money? But that's just what I think about the matter. My job while I'm down here is to try to get the plaque back, and the bricks that the people of St. Simons bought.

My third and most important and private mission was to scatter Bill's ashes in front of our old house, Thunder Point.

We spent almost our entire twenty three years of married life at this house on the beach. It's been almost three years since he died. His remains were placed in a film canister with a print out of all the best selling books he wrote on the front of the canister. His friends thought that would be a better place to put Bill than a vase or urn. Bill loved movies. Two of his books were made into movies: Sharky's Machine with Burt Reynolds, and Primal Fear with Richard Gere. I'm willing to bet you five bucks that he is the only person to have their remains placed in an old film canister.

When he died we placed the ashes of two of his favorite dogs in the canister with him. Annie and Noodles. A short hair dachshund and a long hair dachshund. For the last few years Bill’s been with me in the living room, on top of a large piece of furniture, overlooking the t.v. He loved t.v. too, so that seemed like a good place for him, but now the Monarch butterflies are starting to come through the island on their migration. October was our favorite month on the island. Not too hot, not too cold. The butterflies would arrive. It was magical, so I had decided that this was the time to set him free with his puppies.

I staked out the house first. The woman that owns it has several houses. One on Sea Island, one at lake Lanier, and one in Atlanta.

I went over to the house and saw a car out front, so I decided to go to the Dairy Queen for lunch. That was Bill's favorite restaurant. The famous author loved nothing better than a hot dog at the Dairy Queen. Oliver and Isabella went with me to the island, two miniature, long hair dachshunds. I split my fries with them, and then we went back to scope out Thunder Point. This time the garage door was open. There were no cars in it. The man was leaving, and appeared to be the grounds keeper.

It's now or never. It was a hard decision to let him go. His will said he was to be buried at sea, but it didn't say when.

Something kept going through my mind. Something Bill had said to me a few years ago when it was time to release one of my turtles. I came home and told Bill I had let her go, and he said to me, "Won't she be scared?" That broke my heart, as I had never thought that Zoey would be afraid. I thought she would be happy to be in a large pond with other slider turtles. I kept thinking would Bill be scared? Even with two of his favorite dogs going with him? Our favorite dog, Magoo, a white German Shepherd is buried in the back yard, under many rose bushes. When Magoo died, I had twenty three rose bushes planted in his memory on our property. Salt air is not great for rose bushes, but some of them are still hanging in after all these years. Our favorite cat, Nails Magilicuty died under the house next door, so there would be several ghosts to keep Bill company, but I kept thinking, would he be afraid? Is he even here? Are these just ashes, or is this the essence of Bill? It is all over my head. I hope by releasing his ashes, I am also releasing his soul to go off with his dogs and cat to roam the island. Maybe they can fly now. That would be nice.

The fact of the matter is, I was scared to let him go. Really go forever.

I gathered my dogs and canister and snuck around to the deck. My heart was racing so fast I thought I might die too, and then I could go with him. First I scattered Noodles, aka Noodleronie on both sides of the deck. All over the rocks that the deck sits on. Then came Annie, and finally Bill. It was windy and ashes were everywhere. On me, on Oliver and Isabella, in the water as it was high tide, and on the steps of the deck. Then I sat on the steps and said many prayers for the souls of my loved ones. So now they are free. I don't know if any of it makes any difference. All I know is that they are where they were the happiest. Where we spent so much time laughing and loving our piece of heaven on earth, and soon the butterflies would be coming through to make them smile again.

Mission number three was finished.

I hope we meet again someday, maybe at this same place on our magical island. Until then, my dear laughing husband, have yourself some fun. Haunt the bad guys, help the good guys and know how grateful I am for the special life I was allowed to spend with you.

His first sunset was perfect.


The Vine Bridges of Iya Valley

One of Japan's three "hidden" valleys, West Iya is home to the kind of misty gorges, clear rivers, and thatched roofs one imagines in the Japan of centuries ago. To get across the Iya River that runs through the rough valley terrain, bandits, warriors and refugees created a very special - if slightly unsteady - bridge made of vines.

This is a picture from the 1880s of one of the original vine bridges.

Some people believe the existing vine bridges were first grown in the 12th century, which would make them some of the oldest known examples of living architecture in the world. But there is one ancient group of peoples who took the concept to an entirely new level.

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask you…’when did you stop dancing?’” -Gabrielle Roth

WORD PLAY [via David Angsten]

The Washington Post winning submissions to its yearly neologism contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternative meanings for common words.

The winners are:

1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.

3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly (adj.), impotent.

6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.

7. Lymph (v.), to walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle (n), olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon (n), a Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster (n.), a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism (n.), (back by popular demand): The belief that,when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent (n.), an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

WORD PLAY [via David Angsten]

The Washington Post's Style Invitational also asked readers to take
any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing
one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year's winners:

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops
bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows
little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose
of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the
subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the
person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's
like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter
when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after
you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into
your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in
the fruit you're eating.

And the pick of the literature:

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole.


The internet is a wonderful tool for research or to find places from my past.

Parioli International Day School was where I went to school when I lived with my mother in Rome, Italy. I googled it the other day. I found one woman who went to school there. She remembered the pears that we were served at lunch and how good they were. I don't remember the pears. I remember three things about that school. I received my first kiss there. I would hardly call it a kiss, more like an innocent gang bang. Elizabeth Taylor's two boys went to the same school while she was filming Cleopatra. One day they and a few of their friends chased me into the girl's locker room. They held my arms down and kissed me all over my head. I broke away and ran out yelling, "Cooties!"

The second thing I remember was I was given a job with responsibility connected to it.

We were having a fair and I was in charge of getting the horses. They probably were really ponies, but they seemed pretty big to me. We had to bring the horses across town to the school. Now you would think that they would have loaded up on a trailer for transport, but nope. A man and I transported them by leading them to the school. Through the streets of Rome. Have you ever seen the traffic in Rome?! Roman traffic is scary enough if you are in a car. Walking with horses is a death wish. Somehow we did it. I was so proud of myself. So proud in fact, I jumped up on one and started riding him around the school grounds. It had been raining. I rode him onto some asphalt court. He slipped and fell full force on top of me. It knocked the wind out of me. Stupid thing to do. The horse could have broken a leg. I could have been killed. Only by the grace of God we both lived. It was at that point in my life that I started losing interest in horses.

When I came back to the states my father allowed me to enter a horse show. I placed third, out of three. My love of horses was gone. I like to look at them, but I'll leave the riding up to others.

The last thing I remember about Parioli International Day School is the day we graduated.

I guess we were graduating from middle school. We were all dressed in our uniforms, listening to whatever you listen to at such an event when a bird shit on my head and shoulders. This was so damn funny to everyone in attendance except me. Some nice teacher said it was a sign of good luck. Who thought that up? To me it was a sign that a bird had shit all over my head, and I can't remember any good luck coming out of that situation.

All in all, I had a wonderful time at that school. Now it is gone. According to the internet, it moved to Milan. I don't know why someone would move a school from Rome to Milan, but it's gone. It made me sad. I don't really know why. It's not like I have some great desire to visit it. It just made me sad. I wonder what stands there now? Losing people and places from my past is just a reminder that nothing last forever. I guess that's the sad part of life.

Today I was informed by the television that hurricane Bill has formed. I wish Bill, my husband was alive. He would be pleased that there is a hurricane out there named after him.

The number of vacations that Bill and I took together can be counted on one hand. We never went anywhere much unless it was for business. There was no one to take care of all of our animals and I've been just about everywhere already, so it was never really important that we go places. We lived on an island, on the most beautiful piece of property, with amazing sunsets, and dolphins playing off our deck. Who needs to leave that?

Before we married, we did take a vacation. The year was 1979. We started off by going to Montego Bay in Jamaica. We had a pretty, little bungalow that was almost right on the water's edge. We had our own pool out the back door of our room. When we arrived the weather was perfect. I remember him on that first day rolling around in the sand, laughing and splashing in the water. We got sunburned and had room service bring our dinner to a table that sat outside the room. It was lovely and it seemed as though we were the only people there. Later that night, the rains came. They came and never left. Day in, day out, it rained and it was very windy. We would order room service and the waiter would try to bring food, but by the time he got there, half of it had blown away. This was no longer fun. One night I got up to go to the bathroom. The water was up to my ankles. I opened the back door and I could no longer see the pool. Just water, everywhere. A mongoose was trying his best to swim out of town. I opened the front door and the ocean was at the front door. We were surrounded by water, front and back. I tried to wake Bill and he said, " If the water gets to the top of the bed, wake me." I guess he figured since we had no radio, no T.V., no phone, what's the point of getting up? I figured if he didn't care, why should I? The next morning I got up and there was no electricity. No water. No nothing except lots of wind and rain. At this point, we both decided we needed to get out of dodge. We dragged our bags to the reception area and checked out. The guy behind the desk actually says, " Was there a problem?" We told him to find us a car. We needed to get to the airport. After what seemed like hours, a car is located. The man actually spoke English. He proceeded to tell us that hurricane David had come through. Many people were dead. The courthouse had lost all their records as the water rushed through it. Trees were down everywhere. You couldn't even see a street. We were making our own streets. It was a most horrible sight.

We finally made our way to the airport. It was packed with people trying to get out. So many unhappy people just standing around. The airport was closed. More hours passed.

Finally Bill took control. He left and came back later with a big grin on his face. When in doubt, throw money at the problem. He had found a drunk pilot in the bar. For a large amount of money he agreed to fly us out of there, if we could find someone to remove the palm trees from the runways. He paid people to go out and remove the debris. Then we rounded up some other people who were just as desperate as we were to get out of there.

We split the cost. We didn't bother to tell them that the pilot was drunk.

We finally ended up in Haiti. A place called Habitation LeClerc. A fifty acre, walled luxury resort. They say it once was the home to Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. I have never stayed in such a beautiful place. There were thirty six guest villas. Nineteen swimming pools. Each one of the eighteen swimming pools were shared by two villas. The nineteenth one was the main pool. Once again, we were alone in our own villa, with our own pool. I imagine now, the reason we were alone was because it was hurricane season.

I didn't care why. I was in heaven. Each villa had a large bell that you rang when you wanted anything. Food, drink, a massage. It would be delivered immediately by someone who must have been living under the villa. They would just appear. I would swim naked in our pool. There was no one to see me, and at that time in my life, I looked pretty good, so why bother with a suit? The villas were almost like living outdoors. No doors on interior rooms. No glass anywhere. Shuttered windows that stayed opened most of the time. It was simply magical for many days, and then THEY came.

The family arrived in the villa next to ours. They were fat and loud and very unhappy. I didn't care that they were fat. I've been fat at times, myself. I did mind that they were loud and pissed off. You could hear them screaming at each other. Especially the wife. She hated the place. No phone. No T.V. No air conditioning. She was one miserable person.

I was just as miserable thinking of spending time with them in "my" pool. So, she storms out on the balcony, still yelling at her poor husband. I did the only thing I could think to do to irritate her even more. I went down to the pool, stripped down to nothing and dove into the water. The woman looked like she was going to have a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, they checked out and life went back to pure bliss. It was a most wonderful time with the man I loved for so many years. So, I decided the other day to google it. Not that I would ever want to go back without Bill, but just for a trip down memory lane. This is what I found out about Habitation LeClerc.

At one time in the seventies it was the place to go. Jackqueline Bouvier Kennedy stayed there . Mick and Bianca Jagger did too. It shut down in the eighties. This is the description of it now: " The ancient stone wall surrounding the fifty acre forest has collapsed into heaps of rubble. Squatters and thugs have invaded the once-pristine grounds, moving into its bungalows, cutting down trees, destroying plants and dealing drugs. It is now a metaphor for the environmental problems facing Haiti.

Territorial bandits, mountains of trash, and pigs have eased their way up to and over the walls of the buildings and Botanical Gardens, causing most of the plants to be near extinction or die. Makeshift machine-gun slots now block the windows of the hotel reception area, and the marble fountains have long since run dry. A notorious drug gang called the Red Army has overrun the place, terrorizing and extorting "rent" from hundreds of squatters who have occupied the estate's thirty five mildewed villas. Nighttime gunfights are common, with corpses left on display in the morning."

How could something like this happen? Sixty percent of Haiti's seven million people live on less than one dollar a day. With poverty at this level, I guess it's not so hard to understand.

So, Parioli International Day School and Habitation LeClerc are gone, and I'm just sitting here wishing I still had the body and the confidence to swim naked in a pool, without a care in the world. Wishing my husband was still here to rent a drunk pilot.

Hurricane David killed thousands of people before he made landfall in the United States. He came in south of Savannah, close to where we ended up living most of our married lives. It was a tragedy for so many people. We could have been killed, but we weren't, and it will always stand out in my mind as one of our most excellent adventures.

Nothing last forever, not even the Bonaparte's villa. Not my school, and not my husband.

Cherish the memories of your life. Cherish the golden moments, and try to make some more.

And then there was hurricane Hugo, but that's for another day.


Republican Incompetence Crashed the Post Office Too

Crossposted from Hillbilly Report.

In the fight against Universal Healthcare and a government-run option I keep hearing one argument pop up. Republican and Conservative foghorns keep spouting out how government cannot run anything, just look at Social Security and the Post Office. They spout how the Post Office has wasted so much money and is inefficient. But they seem to constantly avoid answering the question, Why??

Well, the reasons for the problems in Social Security and the Post Office are the same reasons that our economy crashed. Repubicans got a hold of it. During the Bush years they constantly spent our Social Security surplus, or let thieves pick it clean and it appears as if all the problems the Post Office is having can be lain at their table too.

Why is the Post Office suffering so much and losing so much money?? The root can be found in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Republican president.

Now, think about this for a minute. Republicans do not want to pass any healthcare reforms which would help those who cannot afford insurance. They do not want to pass any new regulations that require employers to offer their employees health coverage or pay a penalty. They do not want to do anything that requires corporate America to do anything but what they want to do which is to fleece the American worker, ship our jobs overseas and pocket huge profits all while crashing our economy.

With that in mind, what did the Republicans do in 2006?? Despite the fact that they will not even require private corporations making huge profits to fund part of their employees healthcare in 2006 they forced to Post Office to PRE-FUND the healthcare of their workers who have not even retired yet. No other corporation or organization is forced to do this.

For those who critisize the Post Office, they have made numerous attempts to get themselves back in the black:

The Postal Service—a self-sustaining organization that receives no financial support from the government—is mounting an effort to get itself back into the black. But Corbett argues that he is hampered by an uneven playing field because the Postal Service is burdened with requirements not imposed on other government agencies or private companies.

For example, a major component of the turnaround plan is the Postal Service’s attempt to win some leeway on the big payments it’s required to make each year for retiree healthcare. This year it is due to pay $7.5 billion for retiree healthcare, $5.5 billion of which goes to a trust to fund future benefits. No other government organization is required to pre-fund retiree healthcare, Corbett notes, and only about a third of corporations do any pre-funding.

"It’s difficult to be a competitive business—and we’re out there competing every day—when you have a funding requirement of 10% of your revenues to go into retiree healthcare and your competitors have no such requirement," he says.

Yes, it appears as with everything else the Republicans touch, they have destroyed the efficiency of the Post Office by requiring them to do things their private competitors and no other business is required to do. In fact, the Wall St. Journal in an editorial on Aug. 22 sought to ignore the fact that Republican rule placed unfair disadvantages on the Post Office and instead sought to attack them because they (gasps) pay good wages and provide benefits:

About 80 cents of every postal dollar pays for employee salaries and benefits (compared to less than 50 cents for Fed Ex and UPS). What that means is that if you want to cut costs at the post office, you have to slash labor expenses. Mr. Potter has reduced Postal Service employment to 650,000 from 800,000 the past four years, largely through attrition. But he still employs 650,000 workers who have among the best wages and benefits in all of American life.

Most employees have no-layoff clauses, the starting salaries are about 25% to 30% higher than for comparably skilled private workers, and the fringe benefits are so expensive that the Government Accountability Office says $500 million a year could be saved merely by bringing health benefits into line with those of other federal workers. Mr. Potter has to set aside $5 billion a year just to pay for health insurance. Postal management now wants to "save" money by not advance-funding those obligations, and Congress is likely to say yes. But that doesn't save a dime; it simply creates even larger unfunded liabilities down the road.

In a response to this article, the American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus set the record straight:

Your editorial "A Better Way to Go Postal" (Aug. 22) draws the wrong conclusion—suggesting an end to the world's most extensive, affordable and trusted postal system.

To set the record straight: Congress—not email or bad management—put the U.S. Postal Service in a financial bind in 2006, when it directed it to "prefund" retiree health-care benefits. That mandate—a burden shared by no other federal agency or business—costs the Postal Service more than $5 billion a year. Without the prefunding requirement, the Postal Service would have had a surplus of $1.2 billion for its 2008 and 2009 fiscal years. Congress should reverse this onerous requirement.
Electronic communication is not rendering the USPS obsolete. Mail volume reached its height in 2006, well after Americans began using email and the Internet on a mass scale. Mail volume has slumped by approximately 18% since then, but the loss is almost entirely due to a recession-driven decline in business mail. In the decades since taxpayer subsidies to the postal system ended, postage rates have mirrored the overall rate of inflation.

It is deeply troubling that Journal editors advocate ending the Postal Service's exclusive right to sort and deliver mail. The Postal Service must remain a public service if we are to honor our nation's commitment to serve every American community—large or small, rich or poor, urban or rural—at affordable, uniform rates.

That tradition has served the nation's people and businesses well for more than 200 years. Americans trust the Postal Service, staffed by public employees sworn to protect the privacy of their mailboxes, to collect, process and deliver their mail.

William Burrus
American Postal Workers Union

So you see, as with everything else the Post Office was actually running a SURPLUS until Republicans got their hands on it. Their obsession with "starving the beast" so they can argue to privatize everything to the robber barons on Wall St. has not only crashed our economy but has literally bankrupted one of the most dependable and recognized services in our country. If Republicans and the Wall St. Journal want to know what is wrong with the Post Office they need only look in the mirror.

The House recently tried to ease this crisis with HR 22:

H.R. 22 would modify a provision of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act that requires the Postal Service to prefund the healthcare benefits of retirees from its operating budget. The funding obligation — combined with the nation’s economic downturn — has brought the USPS to the brink of insolvency.

The bill would allow the Postal Service to pay a portion of the benefits from the Postal Service Health Benefit Fund for three years, through Fiscal Year 2011, and is expected to save the USPS more than $2 billion per year. The relief provided by H.R. 22 comes "without a single dollar of taxpayer money," noted APWU Legislative and Political Director Myke Reid.

The House bill has 338 co-sponsors, so adoption by the full House appears certain. However, a companion bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate.

APWU President William Burrus praised the vote. "We are pleased by the vote and eager for H.R. 22 to become law," he said. "But we are mindful of the long-term financial challenges facing the Postal Service."

Consideration of H.R. 22 by the House is expected before Congress’ August recess.

We need to support HR 22 and urge passage of it in the Senate. As always with Republicans they have taken a successful government service, crashed it into a ditch and will use their own failures to argue to privitize it to corporate crooks who pay low wages and offer no benefits. As with all the failures in our country right now, the problems at the Post Office are rooted in Republican greed and idiocy.

WORLD’S EASIEST QUIZ? [via Marie Bjorklund]

Passing requires 4 correct answers

1) How long did the Hundred Years' War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get cat gut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI's first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Remember, you need 4 correct answers to pass.

Check your answers below.


1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years

2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador

3) From which animal do we get catgut? Sheep and Horses

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November

5) What is a camel's hair brush made of? Squirrel fur

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs

7) What was King George VI's first name? Albert

8) What color is a purple finch? Crimson

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange (of course)

What do you mean, you failed?

Me, too.

Pass this on to some brilliant friends, so they may feel inadequate too.

ADAPTABLE TREES [via Nina Reznick]

Examples of living bridges of Cherrapunjee, India.

The root bridges, some of which are over a hundred feet long, take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional, but they're extraordinarily strong. Some can support the weight of 50 or more people at once.

One of the most unique root structures of Cherrapunjee is known as the "Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge." It consists of two bridges stacked one over the other!


A fleeting image of a slide at Craig Venter's 2008 TED presentation on synthetic life captures synthetic genomics in a nutshell. The slide shows Synthetic Organism Designer 1.0, a piece of software akin to Will Wright's Spore Creature Creator. Venter's software, however, does not create fantastic imaginary creatures. When finished, it will create the real deal –- replacing all or part of an organism's natural DNA with synthetic DNA designed by humans. Here’s a video of Dr. Venter’s TED presentation:


You may remember the old Jewish Catskill comics of Vaudeville days: Shecky Greene, Red Buttons, Totie Fields, Joey Bishop, Milton Berle, Jan Murray, Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman, Buddy Hackett, Sid Caesar, Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Victor Borge, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis, Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter, Rodney Dangerfield, Don Rickles and so many others. Not one single swear word in their comedy.

1. The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now.

2. There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins. In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.

3. Q: Why don't Jewish mothers drink? A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.

4. Q: Have you seen the newest Jewish-American-Princess horror movie? A: It's called, 'Debbie Does Dishes'.

5. Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers? A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!

6. Q: What's a Jewish American Princess's favorite position? A: Facing Bloomingdale's.

7. A man called his mother in Florida, "Mom, how are you?" " Not too good," said the mother. "I've been very weak." The son said, "Why are you so weak?" She said, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days." The son said, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?" The mother answered, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."

8. A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks, "What part is it?" The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband. "The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."

9. Q: Where does a Jewish husband hide money from his wife? A: Under the vacuum cleaner.

10. Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb? A: (Sigh) "Don't bother. I'll sit in the dark. I don't want to be a nuisance to anybody."

11. Short summary of every Jewish holiday: They tried to kill us, we won, let's eat.

12. Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days." "Force yourself," she replied.

13. Q: What's the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother? A: Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

14. Q: Why are Jewish Men circumcised? A: Because Jewish women don't like anything that isn't 20% off.

Aging: Moderate Drinking May Help the Brain [via Vincent Atchity]

People over 60 who consume moderate amounts of alcohol have a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, according to a large review of studies.


Health Guide: Dementia |Alzheimer's Disease

More Vital Signs Columns

The analysis, which appeared in the July issue of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, reviewed 15 studies that together followed more than 28,000 subjects for at least two years. All the studies controlled for age, sex, smoking and other factors. The studies variously defined light to moderate drinking as 1 to 28 drinks per week.

Compared with abstainers, male drinkers reduced their risk for dementia by 45 percent, and women by 27 percent.

The researchers acknowledge that studying the effects of alcohol on dementia is complicated by issues like beverage type, standards of quantity and individual behavior that may interact with alcohol to affect mental acuity. But there is ample evidence from other studies that moderate alcohol consumption can increase HDL, or “good cholesterol,” improve blood flow to the brain and decrease blood coagulation. All three factors may reduce the risk for dementia.

Still, the authors warn against drawing premature conclusions. “The overall safety ofalcohol use in later life,” they write, “needs to be evaluated in relation to all of the available evidence” about its health effects.


Hurricane Hugo and the Terrible Teens

Hurricane Bill, the first major hurricane of the season is no longer a threat. Hurricane Bill who was named after my husband and every other man named Bill was at one time a powerful hurricane with winds clocked at 135 m.p.h. He stayed offshore. Former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary left Bermuda a day early, and President Obama and his family decided to wait until Sunday to go on vacation at Martha's Vineyard.

My husband would have liked the fact that his namesake hurricane did no damage, but it did effect the plans of two presidents.

When I was in television, Marilyn was my make-up artist. She and her husband Michael have been friends for thirty years. They were friends with Bill before I met them, so we go back a long time. I asked her to send me a list of some of the people she had done make-up for. I only got page one of five, so I can't list them all, but some of them were Paul Newman, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall, Lucille Ball, and Barbara Walters.

When I quit T.V. and moved to the island with Bill, they would come and visit us often. On one visit, we told the guys we were going to walk down the beach and find a home for them so that they could move to the island. Of course, we were just kidding, but that's what happened. There was a new, beautiful house down the beach. We wandered around and came back to the house announcing that we had found the perfect home for them. Lo and behold, they moved to that house on the island. Michael would commute back and forth to Atlanta, and Marilyn and I had wonderful days together. We would walk the beach, collect shells, talk, drink coffee, take pictures, and enjoy the special life that we were living.

Flash forward from Hurricane David in 1979 to 1989 when Hurricane Hugo raised his ugly head. Bill and I had a hurricane tracking map that we would track hurricanes with. We would stick pins in the chart until the hurricane came onshore. I imagine a lot of people that live on islands do this. Hurricane Hugo was born on September 9th, and didn't come onshore in the United States until September 22nd. That's a long time to track a storm. When he got closer to the states, life got a little crazy. Day after day, he was getting closer to our island. People started boarding up their houses. Michael has always been a great planner, so he made hotel reservations, they boarded their house and prepared to evacuate. Bill and I approached doom and destruction the way we always did. We smoked lots of cigarettes and drank lots of coffee, as we watched the weather channel every waking moment of every day. Hugo was becoming a very strong and scary hurricane.

Marilyn and Michael had two children, nine cats, and nine birds. They rented a rental truck and got ready to go if need be. I had seventy birds in a dozen cages in our back yard.

I figured if I couldn't evacuate the birds, I needed to stay put. Plus, the island has been very lucky when it comes to hurricanes. They always pass us by. The last one to hit was in the sixties. President Johnson came and surveyed the damage and had the Corps of Engineers place large rocks in front of the homes. They are still there, and are called the Johnson Rocks.

I was sitting around thinking, "Man, Marilyn and Michael sure are working up a sweat over this." and I had another cigarette and another cup of coffee.

Then one evening Dan Rather comes on the news and announces to the world that Hurricane Hugo was going to make landfall in Brunswick, Georgia. Brunswick is the town across from the island on the mainland. I said, "I beg your pardon, Dan, are you nuts? We don't get hurricanes here." I started to get very nervous, as I knew Dan Rather had never mentioned Brunswick, Georgia in his life, up until this point. Then things got really crazy. Michael had made reservations, but they were on the wrong day. Then he changed them to another hotel that turned out to be in the path of Hurricane Hugo. Bill and I finally started realizing that we were in deep trouble. I called our handy man and asked him to come board up the house. He spent all day boarding the house and he gets to the last window and I stop him. I told him I had to have one window that wasn't boarded so that I could see the birds in my back yard. Like that was going to help them in some way. He was not happy. He explained to me that if one window is not covered, it defeats the whole purpose of boarding the house in the first place. I said I didn't care, I had to see if my birds were okay.

The whole island must have seen that newscast, as it emptied out quickly. Marilyn and Michael got ready to leave. A T.V. crew showed up at their house, and wanted to film from their house as it sat just about as close to the ocean as you could get. She opened the door, they asked and she broke into tears. And then after we hugged and kissed for what may have been the last time, they left. Then I think they were stuck in traffic forever. Bill and I sat in our boarded up house, except for that one window and waited to die. We were probably the only fools left in a house on the beach, as all the T.V. crews started showing up to do interviews. I didn't have on a stitch of make-up and didn't care. Besides the seventy birds in the backyard, we had ten dogs, and one cat. They were getting nervous, probably because they knew better than us what was about to happen, and they felt we weren't doing enough to make sure that they didn't have to swim for their lives.

Later that night, it turned. CNN called for an interview. I told them nothing much was going on, which seemed to break their hearts. No wind? No nothing? By that time, it really wasn't windy, but I blew a few times into the receiver so that they wouldn't be too disappointed. Bill went to bed and I stayed up all night. The next morning I took Magoo, our white german shepherd to the beach. The first thing I did was to get down on my knees and kiss the sand. A small plane flew over and tipped his wings at us, which made me burst into tears. Tears that we were okay, and tears that someone else wasn't. And indeed, they weren't. At midnight on September 22, with 140 m.p.h. winds, Hugo slammed into South Carolina. Eighty percent of the homes on Folly Beach were destroyed. Hundreds of beachfront homes were gutted or flattened. The Atlantic House, an over the water restaurant was completely swept away, only the pilings of the 13,000 square foot restaurant were found the next morning. If Dan Rather had been right, that would have been us. The beautiful moss draped oaks were desimated and eighty percent of the historic buildings in Charleston were damaged.

250,000 people fled low lying areas of Georgia, South Carolina and southern North Carolina. Hugo is the most intense hurricane to ever strike the United States coast north of Florida. He was twice the size of Andrew ( 1992) but less intense. He was the most expensive tropical cyclone to ever strike America up to that time ( 1989 ). Ten billion dollars in damages. Almost two hundred miles inland, Hugo still had 100 m.p.h. gusts. Hurricane Hugo produced the highest tide surge ever recorded along the U.S. Atlantic coast. According to the U.S. Corps of Engineers, tides reached 19.8 feet above mean sea level.

A week after the storm, 56,000 people were homeless in the Carolinas. Seventy six people died. The U.S death toll was thirty five. If Rather had been right, there would have been no St. Simons Island left. There probably wouldn't have been a Brunswick, Georgia left, either.

About a week after things calmed down, I felt an overwhelming urge to help those that had taken the hit from "our" hurricane. I gathered up a full household of items to take to Charleston. Furniture, pots and pans, bedding, everything to start over. My handyman and I took off to Charleston. He drove the rental truck and I drove my car. A church located a family that had lost everything and we set off. The destruction up there was amazing and heartbreaking. We delivered our load and started back. When we got home, I realized that I had accidently packed up a box that had been intended for my mother's birthday. There was three hundred dollars worth of girlie-girl stuff. Most of it was for relaxing and spoiling ones self. There were bubble baths, at least a dozen. Pumice stone, little candles, heart shaped soap, manicure set, incense, just over the top stuff. I have often wondered what those people thought when they got to that box. They didn't even have a bathroom, much less a tub. Little, heart shaped soaps were probably not what they needed at the time.

My mother was gracious. She believed me and forgave me.

Marilyn and Michael found their way home and we all got back to "island time."

Marilyn and I got African grey parrots at the same time. Her bird was named Leon and mine was named Charleston, in honor of the people that had been thru so much. Her bird now lives on a mountain in Kingman, Arizona. Mine is still with me, here in Georgia. They are brothers, as they both came from the same clutch. Hers speaks Spanish that he has picked up from workers. Mine was not the brightest bulb in the package. He says, "Puppies!" and he use to know all the dogs names. But when a dog would die eventually, he would stop calling that dog's name. The same thing happened when Bill died. He stopped calling his name. He also stopped calling my name. Charleston will be twenty next month. We have been through a lot together. He has a little, bald spot on the top of his head because he likes to take his hanging bell and wear it on his head. The other day, one of his bells came undone and fell to the bottom of his cage. I didn't think much of it until I noticed that the whole bottom of his cage was wet. I thought there was a crack in his water bowl until I saw what he was doing. He would take the bell in his foot/hand, turn it upside down and use it as a cup. Obviously, he would rather drink from a cup. Then he would throw the rest of it overboard. Sometimes he wouldn't drink at all. He would just scoop up water and throw it it out. He would flood the whole bottom of his cage. I took it away from him, as this was getting very messy, but then I felt badly because it seemed to bring him much joy to do this. So, I decided to let him be and gave him his bell back.

The other night, he starts to scream really loudly. Charleston has never been a screamer. The only time he screams is if he has a toe caught on something, and when he does this, the dogs come running because they know he is in distress. They will bark madly until I fix whatever is wrong with their bird. Well, for whatever reason, maybe because he is a teenager, he is now doing this because he knows he can get instant attention not only from his dogs, but me too. He also started calling, Ginny, Ginny, Ginny in Bill's voice. This is a little unnerving as he hasn't done this since Bill died. Between his imitation of the great floods of Hurricane Hugo, his death screams and pretending to be my dead husband, my nerves are getting pretty frayed. I scream at him to shut up, walk into the other room and he says in the sweetest voice, "You Okay?" To which I reply, "Yes, Charleston, I'm fine but I have one nerve left, and you are getting on it." To which he replies, "You, Okay?"

Maybe when he turns twenty next month, he will reach a certain maturity and stop flooding his house, screaming because he can, and stop pretending to be Bill. On the other hand, maybe Bill is here somewhere. Now that would be sweet!