It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane! No, wait…it’s not that at all.


Today in the San Francisco Chronicle‘s online edition, the SFGate, there was a very brief story on the front page for a few hours.

Here’s the headline:

Pot-firing catapult found at Arizona-Mexico border

Ok, in a nutshell, the story is:

“Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach — a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening.”

Blah, blah, blah, the Border Patrol and National Guard seized the catapult and about 4 pounds of the green stuff.

A fairly amusing story, all in. But that’s not the best part.

SFGate allows readers to comment on articles, and that’s where it gets good.

Here’s a selection of the best of what SFGate readers had to say:

“The catapult has been held without bail”

“Time for US to spend a few billion dollars to develop counter-catapult technology.”

“When trebuchets are outlawed, only outlaws will have trebuchets.”

“Total distance traveled by projectile: Over the border;
Time to impact from launch: 2.5 seconds;
Angle of launch: 45 degrees;
Temperature at time of launch: 65 degrees Fahrenheit;
Dimensions of projectile: 8 inch wide x 12 inch long cannabis;
Force of gravity: 32.15223 ft/s/s;
Muy bueno!”

(that’s geeky goodness)

“OMG it’s raining pot!”

“sounds pretty half baked.”

“No doubt these guys got the idea for their new delivery method from playing Angry Birds on their stolen iPhones.”

“They left this part of the story off:

‘Shortly after the seizure, the Mexican troops contacted the Americans and offerred to capapult 10 kilos of marijuana to the American side of the border in exchange for 10 large combination pizzas and a case of Doritos.'”

“Sophisticated criminals use a trebuchet.”

“Green Express. When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

“This is what you get when the smugglers trade pot to an engineer for design work…”

“Save the bales!”

“The free Mexican Air Force is flying tonight
Flying so high yi hiyeeeeee!!”

I guess I should expect no less from the Bay Area, a place notoriously in favor of the use of the same stuff that is being lobbed over the wall.

Buncha smartasses. *grin*

Image from Icanhazcheeseburger

Gravity is a Cruel, Cruel Mistress


As I was growing up, my mom, bless her soul, had some pretty strong aspirations for her daughters. Mainly, she wanted both my sister and me to be strong, healthy and graceful girls.

This is an admirable wish.

So to that end, both my sissy and I attended dance classes regularly, learning ballet, tap and jazz (yes, I learned how to make perfect jazz hands).

Blessed from an early age with sturdy thighs and broad German hips, I was what might be called “stocky.” This whole dancing thing was a bit tougher for me than it was for the lithe little girls who also attended the dance classes.

That said, I danced and it was not so bad. I was a damn fine tap dancer in my day, actually. I could shuffle-off-to-buffalo like nobody’s business! (Google it, that’s actually a tap dancing term)

At some point, I don’t know how it came about, but it was agreed that I would start taking gymnastics classes at the local YMCA.

Well, this was quite a step up in the game. Gymnastics! Whoa!

Ok, let’s go back to the sturdy thighs and broad German hips thing…my center of gravity is rather low. This is a good thing for lifting things and staying on the planet.

However, that “staying on the planet” aspect is quite the hindrance to the goal of gymnastics activities which often involve leaving the ground.

In hindsight, I did ok on balance beam. I was actually not that bad on the uneven bars.

But the floor routines were another story entirely.

Cartwheels? Yes!

Backbends. Sure. I’m all over them.

Flips? Er. Not so much.

I’d come thundering down the mat, do the hop, attempt to flip forward and wind up lying on the mat in a tangled mess of limbs and lycra spandex.

Next I’d try to do that big hop and tuck to make a back flip work, and would end up in a similar state.

A back flip on the balance beam? Oh please, I never even tried.

It was kind of hard on the ol’ self esteem back then that all these other girls could flip through the air with the greatest of ease while I stayed firmly grounded.

Over the years I’ve become a bit more circumspect. Gravity is one of those laws that, unless you are an astronaut, you just can’t break. These days I tend to allow all due deference to that bitchy Mistress Gravity. She’s always going to win.

Today’s theme for Theme Thursday is flip.

Photo by Charlie Balch and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

An Ode To The Shortest Month


Yesterday, in the midst of the weirdness and woe, there was also something magical to note.

After severe rainstorms and plenty of freezing weather, Monday was this clear, sunny, warm, beautiful day.

It was, I think, a hint of what’s to come: February.

Yes, I said February.

The second month of the year. The shortest month of the year. February is a beautiful month.

In February, winter is not quite over, but spring is not quite here. In February we start to see the brilliant yellow of blooming daffodils against the monochrome hue of stormy skies. Daffodils are the harbinger of warm sunny days to come. They gives the cold body hope.

I believe the daffodils and tulips and the snowfall of Cherry Blossoms in February are meant to keep us going like the carrot at the end of the stick. The “something wonderful just around the bend” that help the human soul stay willing to endure the cold and damp days that are yet to be endured.

In February, Punxsutawney Phil pokes his burrowing animal’s head out of the ground and lets us know the score. The planning can begin.

The ground begins to thaw. Birds start to think about coming back this way. There is hope.

Heck, February is also the birth month of at least three of my favorite people (wait, four! Just thought of another).

I appreciate we’re still a good two weeks away from February, but I’m looking toward the second month of the year with a secret anticipation.

In other words…I’m flat tired of winter.

But it’s more poetic to speak of daffodils and warm days.

**Footnote: I purposefully ignored the “holiday” in February. I’m grateful to celebrate every day with my beloved, I don’t need a certain day set aside.

Photo by Andrea Kratzenberg and used royalty free from stock.xchng.

Time Has A Funny Way…


There is an episode of Futurama (oh god, I’m going to quote Futurama) called “How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back.” It happens to be my favorite Futurama episode ever.

The episode is an homage to the bureaucrat, which appeals to me in a weird and sadistic way. At one point, the head bureaucrat is inspecting the locker of Fry, the show’s ne’er do well.

The bureaucrat extracts a baseball cap from Fry’s locker, and says, “Why is there yogurt in this hat?”

Fry replies, “I can explain. See it used to be milk, and…well, time makes fools of us all!”

This quote, “time makes fools of us all” has become a fave with The Good Man and me. Oft quoted and certainly true, time does make fools of us all.

And here’s what’s got me thinking this way…

After being sick both in October and for the first two weeks of November, I have been unable to shake a powerful and chronic cough. The gasping, almost retching, cannot-catch-my-breath sort of cough.

After being commanded by both The Good Man and my coworkers, on Friday I went to see a doctor. She was convinced I had Whooping Cough until she noted on my chart that I’d had a tetanus shot earlier this year. These days a Whooping Cough booster comes along with a tetanus shot.

So, after ruling out Whooping Cough and giving my non-stop cough a good listen, my doctor has determined that I have developed “hypersensitive airways.”

In laymen’s terms this means I now have asthma. I’ve never had asthma a day in my life, but evidently you can develop this problem at any time. It’s not expected to become a permanent condition, and with medication, I should be able to recover.

My medication takes the form of an inhaler used four times a day, a regimen I’m not enjoying in the least, but I’m sticking to quite adamantly.

You see, this health issue comes with a heavy load of baggage. Like back the truck up, get a U-Haul, step aside, “damn that’s a lot of baggage” sort of heavy.

Almost six years ago, my father passed away from complications of pulmonary fibrosis. It is believed he obtained this condition from the inhalation of beryllium in the course of his career at Sandia Labs.

In the years before he passed away, I watched my father struggle to simply breathe. Just bringing enough oxygen to his scarred and battered lungs was a battle. It was heartrending.

I thought then, “your breath is nothing to take for granted.” But then time moved on. I went on about the matters of living my life. The lesson became less important.

This year when I got a winter cold, I got the resulting cough but I ignored it. I coughed my way through it and it went away, mostly.

Then I got sick again and it went right to my chest and set up home.

Right now, typing this, I breathe with a wheeze. I’m able to get air into my lungs, but it’s hard to breathe deep without dissolving into a coughing fit.

What my father had was a disease of the lungs. What I have is a temporary inflammation of my airways. It’s not the same, I know. But right now I kind of feel like time has made a fool of me.

I know better. Perhaps the lesson needed to be learned again.

Professor Time comes with a reminder: Breathing is nothing to take for granted.

Photo by Maria Herrera and provided royalty free from stock.xchng.