Wednesday, April 29, 2009

White Cochin Bantam Rooster

...walked right up to me as many of the chickens have before, but after stopping to pose for a picture the little devil pecked and flogged me. I had shorts on, so I now have a couple of scratch marks on my right leg. It didn't draw blood, but it sure does itch. How could something so pretty be so mean? I should've known better! He is mean to his matching hen too!
I quickly got out of his coop and he belted out his high pitched crow, as if to say ha ha.

If this little rooster wasn't so cute and rare, he would've wound up in the crock pot!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Your Caption Here

On sale too!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

More Spring photos taken around the farm

This is my favorite picture of the day. It is a closeup of flowering branches of one of three Dwarf Apple trees that line my driveway. In the background you can see one of two large apple trees that are flowering with white blooms. The fence is actually across the highway. Click any of the photos for a full page detailed look. Something is hiding in one of the pictures, but you can't see it unless the photo is clicked! Let me know if you find it.

This photo above is another closeup of one of the Dwarf Apple trees along the driveway. The trees are about fifteen foot tall and they will be loaded with apples later in the summer.
The photo above is yet another closeup of the flowering Dwarf Apple trees. I'm not sure of the variety, but I think the blossoms are prettier than the Cherry tree blossoms.

This photo above shows one of the Dwarf Apple trees as seen from the other side of the driveway. On the left is a White Pine tree that we planted in 1994. We have about six of them. This area is part of what I call the pasture area between the barn and the highway in the distance. It could be fenced in (and once was) and used for horses, goats, etc. But for now it is just a lot of mowing!

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Spring Photo Walk, part 2

The photo above is a closeup of some branches of a Dwarf Flowering Crab Apple tree in the back yard. That speck of green behind it to the left is a large cedar tree.

This photo shown above is a close up of branches of a Dwarf Flowering Plum tree. This tree is in the front yard with some White Pine trees, a large Juniper tree, two apple trees and a cherry tree.

The photo above is a close up of some lavender Lilacs. This is a shrub and won't get very tall. The flowers are gorgeous and very fragrant right now. It was so windy, I had to hold the branch still with one hand as I took the photo.
This photo above is a close up of some white Lilacs. This is a very old shrub-like tree with a large angled trunk that looks like petrified wood. The blooms are sparse. Both of the Lilacs are next to the Forsythia, which was shown in a previous post. Click any of these photos for a detailed look.

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Spring Walk Around the Farm

Late Saturday right before dark, I took a bunch of photos of almost everything blooming now. Here are some of my favorites. It was such a nice warm day but really windy, like 40 mph winds. What a shame the force of the wind blew a birds nest out of one of the trees. I didn't see any birds anywhere. It was cloudy and looked like rain, so I was in a hurry and left the nest alone. Maybe I'll prop it up in a tree tomorrow, if it is still there.

I'm glad I had this chance to take some pictures of all the blooms, because they do not last long. Plus it does seem to rain a lot in April. The photo below is of the native violet, which is the state flower of Illinois. They just grow wild everywhere throughout the state. The violets only get about three inches tall. I don't know the name of the other little ground cover lavender flower. It's probably just one of the many wildflowers that grow here on the prairie.

The photo below is the top of our Weeping Willow tree, which has long narrow leaves on very light branches. The branches usually hang straight down, but are shown blowing in the wind. The left side of the tree has a damaged branch that was nearly broken by an ice storm over a year ago.

It is still very windy and cloudy, which makes my satellite internet connection very slow. It is taking a long time to do anything on the net, so I will break this up into three posts.
You can click any of the photos to enlarge them. Try it on one, if you want to see more detail.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Honest Scrap Award!

Wow, another award for me! Or is it? I've heard it's kinda a pseudo award (a tag perhaps), but it still makes me feel special. Thanks to themom for passing this on to me in her recent post, which I feel so honored to accept. TheMom's blog Attentive Aphorist is frequently updated and utterly awesome! I hope you check it out!

“This award is bestowed upon a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant.”

"Scrap means left over, fragments, discarded material. Many times truth and honesty are discarded material, considered fragments and left over. People like us need to tell it like it is, and let the scraps fall where they will.

I must admit that I don't mind one bit getting an award. I hope that's enough bragging (see #1 below). But passing the torch is not so easy, as I learned with my first Award. Some people (and you know who you are!) for one reason or another just don't want to pick out a chosen few to receive the same award, which is a shame, because it stops the circulation. Why not make someone's day. They may be feeling down and this small token might just cheer them up and make them feel appreciated. It did that for me.

I hope everyone who receives this award will keep it going, even if they feel the need to make it easy and say, "hey, if you're on my blogroll, consider yourself awarded this Honest Scrap Award." After all the rules say a "minimum" of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Unfortunately, if you do that the recipient may not feel they really deserve it, and may not pick it up. Whatever... it's up to you--those of you that receive the award. I think you deserve some recognition, but I can't make you accept it, but I hope you do!

These are the rules and the instructions for the 'chosen ones:

1.You must brag about the award

2.You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger

3.You must choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or you may improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends (hey, I haven't been actively blogging that long myself)!

4.Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Or think of it this way--show the seven random victims' names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog Award. Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.

5.List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on with the instructions!

Now I have to contribute TEN (10) things about here we go:

Back in January I did a "six things you don't know about me" meme similar to this, so I will list some random different things now.

  1. I gotta have my morning coffee! But that is the only time of day I drink it, and to keep my teeth white, I brush afterwards!
  2. I frequently have insomnia, which is another reason I only drink coffee in the morning.
  3. I like to dress comfortably at home, which is usually shorts and t shirts in the summer and sweat pants and oversize sweat shirts in the winter. As soon as I get home, I change and I never wear shoes in the house, except for Adidas slides that are never worn outside.
  4. I love to dress up in nice clothes and shoes and look my best, just give me a good reason!
  5. I love dark chocolate! The darker, the better. That means less sugar. I don't eat many other sweets unless it's a special occasion.
  6. I don't like texting. I think I would, if I had a qwerty keyboard, but I don't. I love my phone and paid a lot of money for it, and it has many features not found in other phones. For that reason I will continue to use it as long as I can stand it. I will send out some text messages, but I don't enjoy it. It takes me forever!
  7. I can't resist a bargain, especially if it is something that I use frequently. In that case I will buy mass quantities. I try to buy regularly used items only when they are on sale.
  8. My favorite store is Trader Joe's.
  9. I'm an expert video poker player.
  10. I have stayed in touch with my high school sweetheart for thirty one years. She lives in Phoenix and we still call and email each other. We are close and confide in each other.
I'm happy to pass this award on to the following great and well deserved bloggers, and I know they won't brag too much about their own blogs, so I will help them out with that:

1. HalfCrazy is a very popular young lady, who has been blogging for five years. She is a college student, but still finds time to update her blog An Ardent Cosmic Journey every two or three days. She is well known for her beautiful story telling photography, especially on Fridays, when she participates in a ring of "town shoot outs." These photo shoots feature a different theme each week and links are provided for all who participate.

2. AllenMcalister is a blogger whose content includes many personal things in his life. His blog Allen has featured many "how to" projects, home videos, and some creative computer artwork, especially for holidays. Once Allen didn't post anything for several weeks and I missed his blogging. I'm glad as he states in a latest post "He's back." I was beginning to worry!

3. libhom describes himself as "the epitome of evil to the Religious Right." His blog Godless Liberal Homo is chalked full of daily content dealing with his thoughts on anything from the latest news, to his strong stance against the war in Iraq, to ending homophobia, and anything else that strikes a chord with him. He has a very thought provoking blog. He's got guts!

4. Blonde Goddess is a truly gifted writer. Even though she has explained in a recent post how she comes up with her snarky commentary complete with the funniest photos and captions that you will find anywhere, I still don't know how she does it! Her blog posts are short, fun and easy to read. I guarantee you will laugh your ass off at her blog--that is if you have an adult sense of humor! Not for the faint of heart Huh? The Blonde Goddess is Confused is the funniest original content I have ever found in a blog. She is most deserving of this award!

5. If the profile is there, sorry I could not find it. I'm talking about the blogger named Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein at Monkey Muck. This was one of the first blogs that caught my attention and had me visiting it everyday. You could look at his flickr photos and scans for days! Dr. Monkey will keep you coming back for more with his frequently updated content. He has some regular features like his "Pop Culture Friday" posts, movie reviews, news commentary, politics (and believe me, he is no republican), and so much more. Some days will feature the most beautiful "Barn of the Week" photos and sometimes you will see pictures of the most bizarre images ever, especially those from the past. I must say I absolutely love it, when he mentions certain family members that he'd rather not run in to! That is so ME, and I can totally relate! Dr. Monkey is truly deserving of this award for the content mention and also the design of the blog. If you visit the blog often, you will notice the header is almost always different--with a monkey theme, of course! I love this blog, and I think you will too.

6. Another blogger profile that I couldn't find is Mary Ellen of Bad Habit. You can't miss the long disclaimers and copyright along the right column. That in itself is a must read! Unfortunately, she has recently taken a leave of absence from blogging to spend more time with her family. After she announced her retirement from blogging and didn't update for over a month, I didn't want to take her off my blogroll, but I also don't like to keep blogs listed if they don't update very often. That problem was solved, when I gave her a widget link, "She's a hard habit to break" that you will find at the end of my blogroll. "Nunly" as she is also known by will hold nothing back, when it comes to politics! She is from Chicagoland and you will find original political material that you won't find elsewhere and no one is off limits when it comes to Chicago politicians (and some who now reside in Washington). Luckily for us, Nunly has posted a few blogs since her previous intentions to stop blogging! And don't let the politics scare you off, because she will post on anything and everything--whatever is on her mind at the time. Even if she never makes another post, her archives are very much worth reading. This is one smart cookie! And her design is brilliant with it's hilarious nun pictures. What a perfect title for this blog, Bad Habit!

7. Rick Owens says he is just your typical gwm. I'd say he is very modest and anything but typical. At his Travelingman Rick's Blog you will get to read about his latest travel adventures, which by the way are all over the world. He loves to blog about politics and is very good at it. He knows his stuff. I love reading about his life in Charlotte with his friends, his dogs, and his never ending work on his beautiful house. What I love most about this blog is the intense personal details he will let out every now and then. He is human after all. I love reading the mixture of politics (and believe me, he is no republican either) and the latest events going on in his life. He is never boring and I wish he would post more often!

So there you have seven well deserved winners of this Honest Scrap Award. Please do check them out, when you get time. Hey, I already know many of you are on each others' blog rolls--small world!

As I said earlier, the hardest part is choosing seven blogs, when there are obviously many more just as deserving. In choosing these seven, I took into account some that I didn't name (Re-Re for example) have already received this award! Also, it is soooooo much work for me to write this with clarity and get all my links right. This post was a lot of work for me. I know, I know I didn't have to make it so long, but I did. For that reason, I am glad I just had to name seven other bloggers to receive this award. And I hope they each accept it and pass it on. Thanks.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Secretary's Day and Earth Day today

I'm behind on my blogging activities, reading my favorite blogs, leaving comments and of course adding some content to my own. I actually went to bed early last night to get to work earlier today, since it's Secretary's Day. Administrative Professionals Day is the politically correct title. It is a busy time at work for us, but each year it becomes less and less. Everyone waits until the last minute though, so that's one thing that doesn't change from year to year.

Today is also Earth Day, so I'll probably plant a tree after work. We have already rooted our own cuttings from the big Curly Willow tree in the back yard. In the last two years our biggest tree in the back yard has been losing more and more large branches due to ice storms, lightning and high winds. That tree looks awful! It's barely alive at this point.

I hope all the clerical workers have a nice day at work, and if you want to find out more about Earth Day, here's a link.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Recommended Blogger's Book

I just got this little book about a week ago and I love it! I'm not going to do a book review, because it is such a short book. Most of the pages are half blank, but the book is loaded with content. Amazon's Editorial Review says:

Tired of filling up your blog with boring posts? Take the next step and get inspired to create something unique. Author Margaret Mason shows you the way with this fun collection of inspirational ideas for your blog. Nobody Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog is a unique idea-book for bloggers seeking fun, creative inspiration. Margaret gives writers the prompts they need to describe, imagine, investigate and generate clever posts...

Amazon also has 25 customer reviews. What could I possible have to add? I heard about this book on Plinky a couple of weeks ago. The author was a guest in charge of the plinky prompts for a week, and of course Plinky gave her book a little blurb. It sounded like something I could use. After all I was on Plinky for crying out loud! I think the book is going to really help me add some more interesting and fun blog posts in the future. Every now and then I will throw something that inspired me from this book into my blog.

Please, don't anybody take the book's title seriously. It is really just a "catchy" title. I mean, unless you are micro-blogging short posts that just say something like: I had a grilled cheese and salad, and it was good. Then, sure--no one cares! Please, if you have been blogging about food, do keep it up! I have found some good recipes on blogs and also found out about some great restaurants!

Last Friday many bloggers participated in what is called the weekly town shoot out--a Friday photo blog with different subjects each week. The last one was about native restaurants and food. HalfCrazy at An Ardent Cosmic Journey had a great post about restaurants and food in her city. Be sure and check her blog for links to other participants throughout the world. Follow her blog for details on upcoming town shoot outs.

Remember, don't let this book title scare you. After all, it really should've been called "100 Ideas for your Blog." When you get creative, nothing is too mundane to write about! The Town Shootout participants proved that you most certainly can write an interesting blog post about food!

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Miss USA contest in gay marriage controversy

Congratulations to the new Miss USA Kristen Dalton from North Carolina. A new Miss USA was crowned tonight. But runner-up Miss California Carrie Prejean garnered most of the attention after her answer to a question about legalizing same sex marriage.

An openly gay pageant judge, Gossip guru blogger Perez Hilton asked Ms Prejean: "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage … do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?" She replied: "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage."

"And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. "No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised."

Some of the audience cheered, and some booed! I guess she will never know for sure if that dumb answer cost her the crown. But there is no doubt that it was indeed a dumb answer! Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Don't take my word for it, listen to what Perez had to say right after the pageant!

Perez responds here.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Arrgh! A Pirate Themed Resort

Arrgh, something with some photos please!

The pirate themed resort...Only in Las Vegas!
I took this photo in August 2008.

When Steve Wynn opened the resort hotel and casino Treasure Island Las Vegas in 1993, I don't think in his wildest dreams he would've thought that the world would be having problems with modern day pirates. As far as I know though, he didn't design the resort to glorify pirates, but to pay tribute to the adventure novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It was during the early to mid nineties that Las Vegas started to aggressively market itself to families with children, and Treasure Island was an instant success.

I took this photo above in 1993. It is a close up of the original sign on the Las Vegas strip.

I took this photo above a few years later from across the strip at the Venetian. Even though a light fixture is blocking part of the view, the picture shows more depth and size of the unique huge sign that was nearly half the height of the hotel. That sign is gone now.
By the way, the text in italicized burgundy is my writing. The rest of the post was from a couple of sources, which have links in at the end of them.

I accepted a job in Las Vegas in 1993, so my daughter and I had just moved there right before the grand opening of Treasure Island and we spent a lot of time there. She loved the huge arcade and got very good at all of the carnival type games, and we both loved the then affordable buffet. Today the buffet is very expensive.

The daughter was in the fourth grade then and went to Elaine Wynn Elementary School. It was named after the resort owners wife, who I assume was a major funder of the school. My daughter's class even had a "field trip" to Treasure Island with a private tour by Mrs. Wynn! The children even got to walk through the casino, but it had not opened yet. Like most other Las Vegas resorts, you had to walk through the casino to get anywhere. After it opened, children were allowed in with their parents, but they were never allowed to stop in the casino. They had to keep moving.

Treasure Island opened in 1993. It is currently owned by MGM Mirage, but is in the final phases of being sold to Phil Ruffin, 73, former owner of the now-demolished New Frontier for almost a decade before selling the 35-acre site for $1.2 billion in July 2007. Ruffin told gaming regulators he plans no physical changes to Treasure Island. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

TI (T.I. as it is called now) cost about $450 million to build. It sold for only $775 million. When it opened its doors, Treasure Island aggressively marketed itself to families with children. In 2003, TI renovated the hotel casino to have a greater appeal to adults. The children's pool and arcade were replaced by a hot tub and nightclub.

All of the intricate pirate decor, like giant chandeliers made of bones, treasure boxes over flowing with jewels and coins, and even large scrolls of treasure maps have all been replaced by decor you might see in any upscale resort. TI has been stripped of all it's pirate theme, except for the free show out front.

Treasure Island may be best known for its elaborate pirate show in the artificial bay in front of the property. People line Las Vegas Boulevard to see the free shows in the afternoon and night every few hours. The original production in Buccaneer Bay was geared toward children with British sailors taking on a pirate ship. The production featured explosions, falls into the water and a sinking ship that rose again when the show was over.

I will never forget those loud explosions and the heat generated by the fire balls. It made you feel like you were probably standing too close to the action.

Although immensely popular, Treasure Island replaced the free show in 2003. Buccaneer Bay was renamed Sirens' Cove and the new production was called "Sirens of TI." This production is much more adult oriented. (YouTube has some home videos of the show). It features a band of sexy sirens (female pirates) taking on surly pirates. The women win the battle, sink the pirate ship and turn it all into a big party. (source)

The photo above I also took in August 2008. This is the "new" sign, bigger and brighter. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually the words Treasure Island are removed from the sign and the building. And with the bad economy I wouldn't be surprised to see the free pirate show disappear some day. I hope that doesn't happen, and I wish the entire pirate theme and decor would return. It's important to remember TI's roots, which was the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. As for other pirate themed stuff...that's another story:
If you want to get all anti-piratey (is that a word LOL), think about the Johnny Depp pirate action movies, and of course plenty of sports teams that call themselves Pirates, Buccaneers, Raiders, dare I say (ducking for cover) the White Sox, whose theme song is "He's a Pirate."
Click here to read Chicago Sun Times columnist Richard Roeper's article: "Pirates? These aren't sports mascots, but thieves, thugs and kidnappers."

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

John the procrastinator

This is a long boring post about what has been keeping me from blogging since last week. Everyone in the U.S. surely knows that they must file their tax returns and be postmarked before midnight (or file for an extension). So, why is the post office always packed on April 15th? If you owe taxes, then it's a no brainer to wait. But I still can't understand why people don't just get this done like on the 14th, when you can at least find a parking spot at the post office. And if you are due a refund and are just now filing, I need to slap you! You should've filed for that refund as soon as you got your W-2 and any other forms needed! And by the way, unless you owe on your tax return, the IRS doesn't care if you file by today or not!

I knew I would receive a small (very small) federal tax refund, so I filed that one quite some time ago! Even though I had to file a long form because of itemized deductions, for the first time I used the free e-file. I was surprised that I was able to utilize e-file, since I had a schedule A. When electronic filing started years ago, it was only available for the most basic tax form, you know--the EZ form. I don't know if I would recommend that everyone do their own taxes, especially the long form and especially the e-filing. If you are already doing your own taxes though and get a refund, then I highly recommend the free e-file offered. You will receive your refund much faster, like within ten days! You should have a step by step instruction booklet no matter what. The most difficult thing about e-filing is making a clerical mistake, so double check all your data entry!

Now let's talk about the filing of state income tax. If you're lucky enough to live in one of the state's that have no state income tax, then good for you! I'm sure they must stick it to you one way or another with other taxes and fees though. My state of Illinois does have an income tax, which is currently 3% of your gross income. Our new governor want to raise that tax and even double it! He says he wants to try something new though and possibly charge a lower income tax rate to lower wage earners and a higher rate to higher wage earners. Nobody wants a tax increase period! The newly appointed governor might as well count down his remaining days in office!

Now to get to the point...I knew I would owe some state income tax, so yes I procrastinated. First I planned on e-filing the state tax returns, since that is how I did my federal return. So last Thursday night I stayed after work to use the computer there, because it is much more secure, has a faster connection, and a laser printer. I get all my forms laid out, and last years for reference, and of course you must have this years federal returns in order to even file the state return. I log onto my state's Department of Revenue site and go to the e-file section only to discover that I cannot e-file with the state using their free e-file service, because I had earned some income in another state (with a higher tax rate) and had to complete a form IL-CR, which meant I had to file manually. It was getting late and I was hungry.

By then I already had such a headache from stressing out over the last minute filing! But since I was there, I did a little computer maintenance--some updates, some back ups, etc., (things I can't do while we are open). I went to another terminal to check emails and stuff at the same time. Before I knew it, the time was 1:05 a.m. After gathering all the forms together into a big manila envelope, I called it a night and drove home sick as a dog with a migraine. I planned to file the taxes at the kitchen table sometime on Easter Sunday--a day off from work.

Well Sunday came and went, because I slept most of the day and still had that headache until I went to bed Sunday night. I started to do the state taxes, but I finally had to stop, because my lighting was so bad. Since I have better lighting and a big desk at work, I took the tax stuff back to work on Monday and finally got it finished after work and mailed it before 8:00 p.m. with my check for taxes due (a surprisingly small amount). To me, that was ideal timing to mail the taxes--just a few days before the deadline. I could've done without the migraine headache it caused though!

Yesterday was my regular day off, so I finally got caught up on some laundry and cleaning once I finally got up! Today was such a slow work day, that I took the day off, slept in just a little late, and have enjoyed my quiet peaceful day with the cats (they sleep all day). Now if it would just stay warm, I could pack away all my winter clothes and unpack my summer clothes...but I'm sure you guessed by now that I will be a procrastinator at that too.

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Coopie: "It's hard to talk when you're teabagging."

Sorry, I couldn't resist posting this! And please, don't ask me what that means!

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The Neno's Award

Wow! I got my first blogger award!

Thank you so much to HalfCrazy at
An Ardent Cosmic Journey
for the honors.

Thank you!

The award is:

  • a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging.

  • to seek the reasons why we all love blogging.
I love blogging for so many reasons. What I love the most about blogging is the social networking it brings. I started my own blog after lurking reading more and more blogs. I then patterned my own blog after one of my favorite blogs and began writing more and more posts and commenting on other blogs. To my amazement my blog started to receive traffic and comments.

As I explore blogs created by people from all over the world, I feel like I am getting to know them a little and am becoming part of an online community of fun and interesting people. I have learned so much and made many friends online through blogging. And even if I never meet you in person, I still value you as friends. So thank you all for your support and encouragement. I really appreciate it.

I have found blogging to be a great opportunity for creative expression. I hope that I have something to say or something to share that is of interest to somebody in the world, and I love getting feedback. My blog is sometimes a personal diary of a few things going on in my life. It's a combination of documenting some of the events in my life or even little things in my life. It is also a place where I can reflect on the past, and pay tribute to different people. And of course I throw in a bunch of current events and news links with my comments and have been known to rant or just post something funny. It will be interesting for me to look back at my old blog posts after some time has passed. I sure there are other reasons I love blogging, but that should cover most of them!

The aims of this award:
  • As a dedication for those who love blogging and love to encourage friendships through blogging.
  • To seek the reasons why we all love blogging.
  • Put the award in one post as soon as you receive it.
  • Don't forget to mention the person who gives you the award.
  • Answer the award's question by writing the reason why you love blogging.
  • Tag and distribute the award to as many people as you like.
  • Don't forget to notify the award receivers and put their links in your post.

I also would like to give an award to these people:

Attentive Aphorist


Huh? The Blonde Goddess is confused...

Monkey Muck


Tomas Arcanum

Travelingman Rick's Blog

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Forsythia In Bloom

Early this evening I walked around the farm to see if I could find something different to photograph for the blog, and there it was as big as day--the giant Forsythia bush. This is so big--about ten feet wide and twelve feet tall! It is visible from the highway, which you can see out in the distance. It has been blooming for several weeks now, as it is an early Spring bloomer. Finally the grass is getting thicker and greener too...haven't had to mow yet though!

I missed the cherry blossoms! Just as the three cherry trees started to bloom, the temperature dropped just below freezing--enough to stop the beautiful cherry blossom show. For the last month the weather has been all over the place. Some days were warm, and some days like today were rather cool. This will make it very tricky to know just when to plant anything. In this zone it's usually best to wait until mid May to plant most annuals. It is nice to have a good mix of annuals and perennials to have something constantly in bloom.

It's hard to believe that Easter is less than two days away and our tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths still haven't bloomed yet. Usually by this time of year daffodils are sprouting up everywhere. My tulips have big green buds, but are not yet showing color. Once the tulips are in full bloom, they will just get beat down by the high winds! It never fails. Not only is the farm somewhat out in the open with very few trees, but we are also located in tornado alley. So it is always very windy in the Spring here.

The old Lilac tree is covered in buds, so it should be putting on quite a show soon. Last year we had a cold snap after the Lilacs started to bud, and it kept them from blooming. I'm hoping the same thing won't happen this year. If they bloom, I'll be sure and take some photos.

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There's a storm gathering! Are you afraid?

According to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the people in this ad are just ACTORS who portrayed the real straight people who were apparently so terribly affected by same sex marriage. HRC even posted the audition tapes for this commercial on YouTube!

Unfortunately, YouTube was forced to remove the videos due to legal challenges from the National Organization for Marriage. Nevertheless, the people in the video were just actors ... apparently NOM was unable to find real people who made their claims. The lies keep coming ...

You needn't be afraid of the so-called "gathering storm." You should be afraid though of hateful, lying groups like NOM!

Watch HRC President Joe Solmonese Debate Anti-Marriage Leader on Hardball:

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Update: Elbo Room Owner Responds to Anti-Gay Sign

photo courtesy of Out & About Illinois

Greg Quast, owner of the Elbo Room, sent WMBD 31 News this statement:

"Recently a statement was displayed on a message board in my bar, the Elbo Room, indicating that it was not a gay bar. First and foremost, I would like to apologize for any unrest this has caused the community of Peoria, gay or straight. While I was not responsible for the sign nor was I present when it was posted, as the owner of the bar, I take responsibility and am sincerely sorry. I've addressed the situation with the individuals involved and I assure you this behavior is not tolerated or condoned at my bar. I will do everything I can to make sure nothing like this happens again. The Elbo room is a karaoke bar. There is no sexual orientation attached to that. Anyone and everyone of legal drinking age are welcome. Furthermore, this incident does not reflect my personal views. I have several close friends in the gay community who I have always supported and will continue to support in the future."

Despite the written apology, which some people are questioning who actually wrote it, One World One Equality still held a PEACEFUL Rally at the Elbo Room today. The rally was featured on WMBD Channel 31 news.
Dave Barker of Out & About Illinois stated, "I trust our community appreciates the public apology from Mr. Quast and hope that in the future events such as these do not happen again."

Stephanie Smith Warlow says, "We're not trying to shut anybody down, not trying to deface anybody. Just trying to prove a point that nobody deserves to be discriminated against, whether it be color, sexual orientation, or anything."

If you'd like to join the rally, One World, One Equality is planning to return to the Elbo Room Saturday morning beginning at ten.

Be sure and click the title link to watch Channel 31's video of the rally. (Sorry it couldn't be embedded here, or I would have gladly posted it).

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Karaoke Bar Leaves Many Uneasy

The Elbo Room Bar in Peoria, located at 631 W Main St, Peoria recently had the message "We are NOT a Gay Bar!! We are a Karaoke Bar!!! 7 Nights a Week. Diesel is down the street" posted on a lit sign in the bar.

This message can easily be read to mean that they aren't interested in having gay and lesbian customers. No matter what the bar says they meant by this message, it's certainly offensive to gays and lesbians who may enjoy the bar. Apparently they would prefer that gays and lesbians head on down the street to Diesel, which IS welcoming to gay, lesbian AND straight customers.

For more on this story, click on the title link.

Find out more details and links to news video on two tv channels and a planned peaceful rally against this inequality to be held this Friday at the new central Illinois website OutandAboutIllinois.

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April is National Poetry Month

I just realized it is National Poetry Month. I appreciate a good poem, because I am not very good at writing poetry and realize it takes some skill. My daughter always wrote poems, filling up notebooks, ever since she was a little girl. She was really writing song lyrics though. She went through a little goth period, and wrote some dark poems. That was about the time I found a book on Marilyn Manson. Let's just say, the book disappeared.
I have an aunt who actually published a book of poetry called "Echoes of Hope." It was part of a domestic violence project she worked on at a shelter, where she has volunteered for over thirty years! If I can get her permission, I will publish one on the blog. Some of the poems are very sad though, but many are very empowering.
But for now, I must get some work done! It is a very slow work day, but you know what they say..."if you have time to lean, you have time to clean." Hey, I'm a poet and didn't even know it! A rhyme, every time! LOL
Do you write poetry? Do you have a favorite poem? If you do, this would be a good month to post one on your blog. If you have never written a poem, it could be a good challenge! I'll be sure to check out your blogs later, especially if you leave a comment.

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Happy Birthday Alex!

I love my grandchildren so much! My grandson Alex recently turned 7 years old! I am so proud of him too. Not only is does he get good grades, but he is also an usher at church, a cub scout, and he plays the guitar!

He can send his own emails and do other things with the computer. And he is obviously a snazzy dresser!

He reminds me of a little President Obama! He already has those smile lines too

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Etta James sings on DWTS

I may be officially outed for watching Dancing with the Stars, but it is worth it to share this once in a lifetime performance that you may have missed tonight! The legendary Grammy Award winner Etta James performs her Grammy Hall of Fame rendition of the popular song, “At Last,” accompanied by professional dancers Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff.

Etta James is the winner of four Grammy® Awards and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy® Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008.

The song is so beautiful, and wow, so is Etta James! Beyonce, eat your heart out!

Speaking of Dancing with the Stars...who do I want to win? I hope Lil' Kim wins! I have always been a fan of hers and think she is a great dancer. I never knew she was so sweet too!

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Vermont legalizes same-sex marriage

Wow, what can I say...I'm speechless!

MONTPELIER, Vt., April 8 (UPI) -- Gay and lesbian couples will be able to get married in Vermont beginning in September.

The state legalized same-sex marriage Tuesday when both houses of the state Legislature voted to override the governor's veto. Same-sex couples can begin getting marriage licenses in Vermont, Sept. 1.

Vermont was the first state in the United States to adopt civil unions and is now the first to legalize marriage for homosexual couples by legislative action, The Burlington Free Press reported.

Click the title link for the full UPI story.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Payroll Stimulus kicks in! You Get a Raise!

We like Mondays at our work place! Why? Because Monday is payday! But today is a special day for us, because as of April 1, 2009, President Obama's "Making Work Pay" provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act kicks in and that means an increase in take home pay.

I just completed our company's payroll, and all the employees (we have so many LOL) have less federal taxes withheld from their gross wages. Today will be our first paycheck with an increase in take home pay! It's not a huge amount for anyone, but it's better than nothing. We'll take it!

If you are paid hourly instead of a salary, then it may be difficult to know that you are actually now receiving this stimulus benefit. Your employer should be using new updated withholding tables. A lot or most employers use some type of payroll software, and they must update their software with these new withholding tables. Don't hesitate to ask your employer about this, if you feel your federal tax withholding may not be the correct amount!

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Stimulus Bill) is intended to provide a stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of the economic downturn brought about by the sub prime mortgage crisis and the resulting credit crunch. The $787 billion economic stimulus plan was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009.

Some of the provisions in the plan that have a significant impact on payroll and payroll taxes are "Making Work Pay" tax credits and COBRA premium assistance credit.

The Making Work Pay tax credit provides credit of up to $400 per person ($800 per family) against their 2009 and 2010 taxes. The IRS has released new payroll withholding tables and is asking employers to apply the new tables as soon as possible, but no later than April 1, 2009.

Click the title link for the IRS page on "The Making Work Pay Tax Credit."

Note: You are not at the front page of this blog. To see the most current posts, click here: John abuzz or click my name at the top in the blue header.

UPDATE: Since I have posted this blog entry, it has received hundreds of hits and ranks very high on search engines! I never expected that, but I welcome all the new traffic and hope the link provided you with the information you were looking for.

Please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!

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Flutter: The New Twitter

Wow! I found this article by Alex Leo on Huffington-Post! Check it out! Sounds good to me!

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has inspired millions of fans, but it has also inspired its fare share of parodies.

First, Samantha Bee took on the microblogging site for the "Daily Show." She explained to Jon Stewart, who "has no f**king idea how Twitter works or why it is," that it offers insight into our most important news makers' least important thoughts and that young people love it according to old people.

Then Current's "SuperNews!" used their season premier to mock the Twittersphere, where all of the site's users float around talking about their mundane lives, communicating with "bit-sized yippidy yap," trying to become Twitterlebrities.

Now Slate has gotten in on the game with their bite-sized mockumentary about a company called Flutter that is one-upping Twitter by reducing their character count from 140 to 26. They are the leading (and only) company in the world of "nanoblogging."


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An Angel Needs Your Prayers

According to the LA Times and other news sources, Farrah Fawcett is in an LA hospital, reportedly unconscious, and has been there for a few days. The ‘70s TV icon is surrounded by her loved ones, Ryan ONeal and son Redmond.

Farrah has been battling cancer for three years and recently returned from Germany, where she had experimental stem-cell treatment.

Farrah, 62, was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006 and has fought this disease long and hard. According to People, she was in remission but then the cancer returned.

There's no official confirmation yet from her reps on her condition.

As you can see (yes that's me), I have been a fan of Farrah Fawcett for a long time!
Sorry for the blurry photo, but keep in mind it is 31 years old! I was 15 years old and crazy for Farrah Fawcett! Look at the first small picture of Farrah at the top, and then look closer at my yellow t-shirt! Yep, it is the same image! I can still remember that being my favorite shirt! I know I wore it a lot, because I have it on in so many pictures.
I remember wearing that shirt on my first day as a transfer student at Cortez High School in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the first things I did was audition for symphonic band, and the first thing the band director said was "I take it you are an avid Farrah Fawcett fan!" I think I said, "huh?" And he pointed to my shirt! I blushed! I wondered if I had violated a dress code.

My Mom took these two photos with a 110 camera on Easter of 1978. That is my step-dad and my step-sister Esther. It's hard to see it in this picture, but Esther actually looked like Kate Jackson, another of Charlie's Angels!

Here is a picture of me on that same day in March of 1978. I would've rather just published this one photo, but it is hard to see what's on the shirt. The two photos were taken Easter of '78 at Ahwahtukee Park in Phoenix, Arizona. We all took my little niece and nephew to an Easter Egg hunt. In the background is the first mariachi band I ever heard in person and I loved it!
Are there any Farrah fans out there? I grew up during the Charlie's Angels era and saw every episode. It was my favorite show, and Farrah Fawcett was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen on tv. Even though she was really just on the first season, it seemed like it lasted for a long time--must've been the reruns. Farrah was all over tv though back then. She did shampoo commercials (of course). And who could forget her 1984 incredible performance in The Burning Bed, which earned her both an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination. If you haven't seen that movie, I highly recommend it.
I just loved how all the girls copied her hairstyle for so many years. For that reason, I even nicknamed my good friend Donna "Farrah." Donna didn't mind; after all, what a compliment!
Farrah's fans are pulling for her through this difficult time. I do hope she can beat this thing again! I hope you will say a prayer for Farrah Fawcett.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

But I'm Madonna

Madonna receives no mercy in Malawi, when a magistrate nixes her second adoption. How sad that the little girl cant' be adopted by Madonna. Even her ex--Guy Ritchie says she is a good Mum. Sure Madonna is busy, but she has millions! She also has plenty of hired help, and she has proven to be a good responsible loving parent. And while I'm on my little rant, why are so many news outlets continuing to refer to Madonna as "the Material Girl?" That was like two and half decades ago! So 80's LOL!

I have to admit, when she adopted little David from Malawi, I thought she might be pulling a publicity stunt. But my feelings have changed now and I wish Madonna could adopt as many children as she pleases. What it boils down to is that she does not meet the Malawi law residency requirements. HELLO, Madonna did not live there before adopting little David, so what's the problem now? The government in Malawi should change this law and allow these children to be more easily adopted. IMHO

And now for today's New York Times article by Dave Itzkoff:

A Malawi court ruled on Friday that Madonna cannot adopt a 3-year-old child there, Reuters reported, because she has not been a resident of the country for the last 18 months. As with Madonna’s adoption of her son David Banda, 3, completed in 2008 in Malawi, her petition to adopt a girl named Chifundo James caused critics to complain that the pop star was trying to circumvent laws banning nonresidents from adopting Malawian children.

In her High Court ruling, Judge Esme Chombo warned against celebrity adoptions, saying they could lead to child trafficking. “Anyone could come to Malawi and quickly arrange for an adoption that might have grave consequences on the very children that the law seeks to protect,” she said. In addition to David Banda, Madonna, who reportedly was not in the court to hear the ruling, has a daughter, Lourdes, 12, from a previous relationship, and a son, Rocco, 8, from her marriage to Guy Ritchie. Her divorce from Mr. Ritchie became final in January.

And now my final thoughts on the above mentioned judge "warning against celebrity adoptions, saying they could lead to child trafficking." Yeah, like a celebrity would ruin their career by child trafficking. Ridiculous! This dirt poor country should adopt new laws that are used in other countries, you know like in depth home studies by social workers, background checks, etc. instead of being so paranoid! Again, IMHO.

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Iowa Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage

Another victory for equal rights! Most of you have already heard by now, but I too want to say that I am so happy to hear this news. And I was happy to see it all over the blogesphere all day long, since early this morning! Is anyone surprised? Remember it was Iowa that gave Barack Obama a jump start into the race for the White House!

WHAT HAPPENED: Iowa Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously that Iowa Code section 595.2(1) is unconstitutional. The one-sentence law, passed in 1998, declares that “only a marriage between a male and a female is valid.”

WHAT IT DOES: The decision affirms the 2007 ruling by a Polk County judge in a lawsuit brought by six gay and lesbian couples. The couples all had been denied marriage licenses by the Polk County recorder’s office.

WHAT IT MEANS: Iowa soon will become the first Midwestern state, and the fourth nationwide, to allow same-sex marriages. The justices’ decision says their ruling “becomes effective upon issuance of procedendo,” a legal order that actually implements the decision announced Friday.

Click the title link to read the rest of "Today's ruling at a glance," (THE ARGUMENTS, WHAT IT MEANS FOR CHURCHES, AND WHAT'S NEXT) from the

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Lady GaGa LIVE on American Idol

Better late than never! If you missed American Idol the other night, well you missed this...uhm...different live performance of "Poker Face" by the fabulous Lady GaGa! I love her outrageous costume outfit! She certainly is an original dresser. Watch until the end for a close up of her face! I love the eye!

I have no idea why she let a fiddler on stage with her! That made it just plain weird! It would have been better without that noise. I still love Lady GaGa though! Of course, I have her cd...I got it the day it came out!

And listen up, because she cleaned up the lyrics (well a little). But she still sings "...bluffin' with my muffin!" Did I mention I love Lady GaGa?

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tribune says: It was a bad day for Illinois

For the record, as a citizen of the state of Illinois, I do not think it was a bad day for Illinois! I wouldn't be surprised if people are dancing in the streets celebrating! This has been a long time coming, and finally Blago has been indicted!
How ironic that yesterday was officially "Cheap Trick Day" in Illinois. Maybe we should call today the beginning of "The End of Dirty Tricks Day." and now for the news article...
(photo from Creative Commons)
It was a bad day for Illinois
(Tomorrow's Tribune Headline, from

Now will we demand that our public officials serve us instead of themselves?
Story By Charles Lipson
for April 3, 2009

It's hard to remember now, but ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was actually elected to reform state government. He ran as the antidote to Gov. George Ryan, who spent years defending himself from corruption charges but was eventually convicted of them. Blagojevich promised to end Springfield's pay-to-play politics and to run a clean, efficient government.

It didn't work out exactly that way. Blagojevich now stands accused of staggering crimes, systematically using his control over state contracts, appointments and regulations to raise campaign cash. The indictment, announced Thursday by U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald, runs 75 pages. It charges Blagojevich with 16 felony counts, including racketeering conspiracy, extortion (and conspiring to extort), wire fraud and lying to federal agents. These include the most incendiary charges in Fitzgerald's earlier criminal complaint: trying to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat and leaning on the Chicago Tribune's owner to fire editorial writers who criticized the Blagojevich administration. Most of these counts carry 20-year jail terms.

The indictment goes beyond the former governor to include his brother Rob, his chief of staff, a former top aide and two businessmen.
(Click the title link for the rest of the story!)

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First look at the hilarious Bruno

Head on over to THE Sun (click the title link) for the first trailer from what is sure to be the most outrageous movie of the year - Bruno, which comes out (no pun intended) this July.

And from the way it looks, SACHA BARON COHEN's follow up to Borat is ready to shock. In fact, I was going to post the trailer here (it is on youtube also), but my blog is not an adult only oriented blog and I don't want copyright infringement! The movie will be rated NC-17.

So what are you waiting for!? Go check out the trailer! You know you want to!

(photo from Creative Commons)

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Sweden Becomes 5th European Country to Allow Gay Marriage

Hey, could learn a thing or two from Europe....I'm just sayin'!

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden will allow homosexuals to legally marry from May this year after parliament on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move.

The change in the law, which currently allows gay couples to register unions but not formal marriage, comes into force on May 1 this year under the timetable set out in the bill.

Scandinavian countries, known for their liberal attitudes toward gays and lesbians, were among the first countries in Europe to grant same-sex partners the same rights as married couples.

(Click the title link for the rest of the Reuters story).

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It's Cheap Trick Day in the state of Illinois

In honor of Cheap Trick Day in Illinois, here's a classic rock song that is as good today as it was back then. The video and audio has been remastered and is from "Live at Budokan." Enjoy!

It's a day of statewide recognition for one of Rockford's most famous foursomes!

April Fools Day is often filled with cheap tricks and today in Springfield is no different. Last year April first was forever declared Cheap Trick Day in the state of Illinois, and on the first anniversary, Rick Nielson made the trip down to the state capitol to celebrate. The band's lead guitarist toured the capitol building and even demanded the floor in the senate chambers. After tossing a hand full of picks to the state lawmakers.

(Click the title link to watch channel 23's news video of Rick's Springfield visit).

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It's not just April Fool's Day

It's Debbie Reynolds' birthday! Happy Birthday Debbie!

I watch TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel a lot, so I wondered why my dvr taped so many Debbie Reynolds movies today!

Today was a Debbie Reynolds movie marathon on TCM in honor of her birthday.

My dvr recorded several Debbie Reynolds movies, but I had to delete some or lose other programs. I kept "Bundle of Joy" from 1956 with her then husband Eddie Fisher, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" from 1964 (which earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress), and a 1971 movie, "What's the Matter with Helen?" I'm looking forward to watching "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" first. That is one of my all time favorite movies.

Debbie has a long filmography, which you can read by clicking the title link to her Wikipedia page. Who could forget her as Grace's ditsy Mom in "Will and Grace!" And she is hilarious in HBO's "Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales." In this role she plays herself getting her face and hair done by Ullman's character make-up artist Ruby Romaine. In the HBO special Ruby's tales are shown as flashbacks, while she is getting Debbie ready for an acting gig. Be sure and watch it next time HBO shows it!
UPDATE: After I made this post, I got a comment saying that "Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales" is up in full on Youtube! Thank you to that blogger,named "expat," who has a great Tracey Ullman blog!

My autographed photo is stuck to the glass in its frame (darn humidity)! I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie several times, when she had her Las Vegas hotel and casino in the '90s. She gave free mini-shows at her place during the day and full shows at night. When she wasn't on stage, she would wander around introducing herself to her guests. She was always the gracious hostess and happy to have a real conversation with you, sign autographs or take pictures. And she looked stunning, especially for her age. Her short lived small resort was special, because it contained a large collection of her movie memorabilia on display.

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