Sunday, July 31, 2005

We just got back from Washington D.C. where I visited American University and GWU. It was actually a really fun trip. More on that later, though.

BIG NEWS!!! We got a new dog! Yes, we still have our golden retriever (Jenna), but we decided that she was in great need of a friend. Enter: Riley. Riley is a Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix and is 5 months old...but he has enough energy for three puppies. We just got him today, when we got back from D.C. (yes, we left D.C. at 6:30am so that we could be back to Raleigh in time to adopt a puppy-- I know, we're insane). He's explored the downstairs of the house, and we're hoping that he won't discover the upstairs for a few days...not likely. Jenna seems to be adjusting well to her new "sibling" and they have already spent the evening rough housing. Riley is definitely unsure of the backyard, though, and needs to be coaxed down the deck stairs and around the yard. He's actually already been halfway trained, as he knows sit, lie down, etc. However, the hurdle we're jumping right now is learning his new name. His name with his original owner was Big Henry (*gag*barf*), and the adoption agency named him Grady, but my mom refused to have a dog named after one of the NC Legislators she dislikes, so we gave him the name we had picked out originally...but he still doesn't seem to make the connection that he and Riley are one and the same. Oh well. That'll come with time I suppose. More updates on the pup and pictures, and a D.C. play-by-play report later.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I was watching the news last night, when a story came on that made me shake my head and laugh aloud. There is a growing group of people around the country who are uprooting their families and moving them to South Carolina from all over the nation. Why? you ask. There is a group, founded by people like Cory Burnell, called ChristianExodus. Their purpose? They are calling fundamentalist, conservative Christians to move to South Carolina. They hope to create a a uptopia with laws based on the Ten Commandments. And if the United States government doesn't like it? They plan to secede from the Union. Haven't we already been through this once before with South Carolina????

Saturday, July 23, 2005

As much as the London terror bombings saddened and appalled me, and as much as the scare on Thursday reminded me (once again) how we are never truly safe...anywhere, I still cannot believe that members of the London Police shot an innocent man-- five times. It's not that they shot him, because, truly, we do the same things here...(not always, and that's not a criticism of our law enforcement, just a statement that sometimes innocent people get hurt or killed because they are arousing suspicions. Even though, I have to admit, that killing people is probably not the ideal way to deal with something...but is sometimes the only way). My point here is that the officers shot the man five times. FIVE TIMES. I can almost guarantee that after one or two shots, that man was posing little or no threat to the community...continuing to shoot at him seems unnecessary. And on top of that, one witness told CNN that two of the three pursuing officers jumped him and held him down while the other fired five shots...something about that just seems wrong. Feel free to post comments on my blog and agree or disagree. I'd like to hear what other people think.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The 2005-2006 Senior Year Schedule has arrived.
Here it is... (period-class-teacher)

1. Adv. Southern Hemispheres (Montague)
2. Adv. Statistics and Probability (Mahoney)
3. Publications (Busonik)
4. AP English 4 (Busonik, back-to-back...oh yeah!)
5. AP Psychology (Koch)
6. AP Spanish (Krawiec)

Wow...should be an interesting year...let me know if you have any classes with me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My AP U.S. History teacher at school, Betsy Newmark, had this to say about the places Roberts will go with his position on the courts. Very interesting...
It seems that, once Roberts is confirmed, that he will become the clear choice for Chief Justice if Rehnquist steps down. Roberts clerked for Rehnquist and apparently the Chief thinks very highly of him. I predict that, after a year or two, Rehnquist will step down while Bush is still president and give Bush the opportunity to elevate Roberts to be Chief.

Two years ago, Supreme Court Justice Scalia had this to say about Roberts, whom he called "far and away the best Supreme Court litigator in the country":
No matter how intense the questioning, Roberts is never flustered, and is always able to calmly answer any question whatsoever, while skillfully weaving in the substantive points that he wanted to make in the first place.

Now it's a waiting game...what will happen? It'll be an interesting few days (if it even lasts that long).
President Bush has announced his nominee for the Supreme Court to replace the retired Sandra Day O'Connor-- John G. Roberts. Many women, democrats, and even republicans (first lady, Laura Bush included) were hoping to see a woman nominated. At only 50 years old, he is fairly young for a Supreme Court justice. ABC-11 (WTVD), as well as MSNBC both called him a "rock-solid conservative" and it is said that he does not support the decision in Roe v. Wade. In fact, MSNBC reports that Roberts co-wrote a brief in 1990 that "suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion." However, as Roberts told the Senate during his confirmation in 2003, "Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. ... There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent." Roberts has been an appellate judge (nominated by Bush, and approved by the Senate in 2003) for two years, but experts say that what he lacks in experience as a judge, will be made up for by his experience arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Many people hoped for another middle-of-the-spectrum justice, who like O'Connor, would be the swing vote in many landmark decisions. O'Connor took often liberal stands on issues like the death penalty, when in 2002 (Atkins v. Virginia), she sided with 5 other justices that a mentally retarded criminal could not be executed. She also cast the deciding vote that struck down a Nebraska partial-birth abortion law. She dissented when the majority of the justices supported striking down an Ohio law that prohibited doctors from performing abortions on teen girls without their parents' permission or a court order.

It should be interesting to see how the debate within the senate unfolds. It could go either way...

Monday, July 18, 2005

I babysat on Saturday night for a family that I regularly babysit for. The parents were hosting a party for about 50 or so people at their house, and needed me to get the kids out of the house from about 5pm on. I got there and the mother handed me the keys to her car, gave me money for dinner and told me to use her car to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese. (The kids are 5 and 1 years old). Anyway, we get to Chuck E. Cheese, and find that not only are there about 400 people in the building (mostly children running around), but the AC has gone out. It is 95 degrees inside. I decide, based on the excitement of the 5 year old, to stay there anyway, despite the hot conditions. We eat pizza and play a few games when suddenly my cell phone rings. It's the mom. She has left party supplies in the trunk of the car and needs us to drive back to their house. (It's about 25 minutes back). By the time we unload the supplies at their house it's 7pm or so, but the kids need to be out of the house until at least 10pm (and even if we stay out that late, the party won't be over, and I'll have to entertain the kids in the confines of their parents' bedroom for an hour or so). I decide to take the kids to Triangle Town Center so we don't endure the heat at CEC again. The kids play at Curiosity Creek (a children's area with slides and other climable objects) for awhile. By 9pm, the shops are closing and the crowds are thinning out. We head to the car. I drive around for an extra forty minutes, hoping they'll both fall asleep. No such luck. We get to their house and are "banished" (and I use the term lightly here) to their parents' bedroom where we watch Barbie Nutcracker. (my all-time favorite movie---- NOT). At this point, I have been informed that their dad drove himself to the emergency room around 6pm with gallbladder problems and that I'll be needed until about midnight. That's fine with me. Around midnight, the party has ended and the mom has joined her husband at the hospital. He's fine, she calls to say, but they are going to do a CT scan so it'll be another hour or so. The kids finally get to bed ten minutes after midnight, and I watch a little CNN until the parents come home at 2am. I'm exhausted, and knowing I won't hit the pillow until after three isn't comforting. I have to be up and out of the house early that morning to babysit for someone else. But it's okay. Extenuating circumstances can't be helped. It was an interesting night to say the least. [Note: the night before, I had also babysat for this family until almost midnight, and the next day I would babysit for another family with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old for five hours. It was a babysitting-marathon.]

AP exam scores are in. That's a very good thing. I thought I would be crushed by my scores--- I'm actually thrilled. Now, I'm waiting for my school schedule to come in the mail, and of course continuing the never-ending college search. . . soon to be followed by endless applications, essays, 'n such. Something to look forward to.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I loved watching Ken Jennings (left) on Jeopardy! even though he kind of failed me in the Tournament of Champions...but hey, he was still an outstanding contestant. He wrote his name a different way every night, which was...unique. Now I'm watching every night and cheering for a new contestant-- David Madden (right)

He's a student, studying in Berlin (I think), but he's doing really well. (And as soon as I publish this post, I'm sure he'll lose tonight.) But he's got a long way to go to ever measure up to Ken Jennings. It would be interesting, however, to have the two compete in a Jeopardy! game.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Certainly one of the more unique state parks...


Saturday, July 09, 2005

Well, I'm back from Virginia. I must first comment on the roads--- the planning and mapping out of the few towns that we visited left a lot to be desired. The condition of the roads made me ever-grateful that I live in NC. We visited Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. We had "bounce tickets" which meant we could go back and forth between them for two days. Busch Gardens has four roller coasters-- Alpengeist, Loch Ness Monster, Apollo's Chariot, and Big Bad Wolf (pictured at left). My sister and our friends (Taylor and Micheala) road all of these multiple times. (For those of you who don't know...I am terrified of roller coasters, their speeds, their drops, whatever...hate them. Very much afraid of them, maybe from watching too many news stories where they crash or break down.) Anyway, the three of them bugged me incessantly to ride one of them. I relented after an hour or so after they told me that Big Bad Wolf didn't drop--- it was just a bunch of curves. Okay, I thought. I can do this. I tried to back out multiple times while we waited in line. Not a chance. I got on and after the first curve, realized that I should never have gotten on the ride to begin with. Okay, so it's drops are only 99 feet each, but it was way to much for someone who is deathly afraid of roller coasters to begin with (and who has also been told that there aren't any drops...that this one is easier than the small roller coasters at the state fair.) Busch gardens...unless you are five, or you love roller coasters, is really a bunch of shows to take in. We saw Irish dancers, a pet show (quite cute) and explored the "European continent" in little shops and cafes. It's a nice place. The water park was more my style and we had a great time. We went to both parks each day. But the first day we got up there, we went to William and Mary College. It was founded in 1693, and was the second oldest college in the country (behind Harvard). It's where former presidents Jefferson, Washington, Monroe and Tyler all went to school. It was the first school to adopt the Honor Code (a system devised by Jefferson himself) and Jefferson and his friends also developed the premier academic society Phi Beta Kappa at W and M in 1776. I really liked the feel of the campus, the academic courses, and the size of the school (though something bigger might be more for me), but the town where it is located is just too small. The nearest movie theater, for instance, is an hour away. I think big-city life is more for me, not the small-town setting. It's a wonderful school, though, it's just not for me. At the end of July we're heading to D.C. to check out three schools, and hopefully I'll be checking out Boston and NYC as well. In the meantime, I'm waiting for my AP test scores and my school schedule to come in the mail. *cross fingers*

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I went to the State Fairgrounds tonight and saw the fireworks show for the first time in my life. Wow. It was overwhelming to say the least. I think I often (actually I always) take this country for granted. I obviously don't always agree with everything our government does, but I am free to speak my mind and lobby to change the government's policies, decisions, whatever. I read recently in the NY Times about a woman who has been under house-arrest for twenty eight years because she helped lead a protest in the Phillipines. And in Topics (and when I was in Chile) we learned about the oppressive dictatorships that held Latin America in a death-grip for a good part of the 20th century, killing dissidents in mass numbers, torturing people, and forcing the "disappearances" of thousands more. And of course there was Iraq and there's Saudi Arabia with their restrictive (or not so much anymore in Iraq) governments. And the military (an appendage of the government) in Sudan killing thousands of people. I guess I never really contemplate how lucky I am to have been born, healthy, etc. It's really true, though, that, as Lee Greenwood sings, "If tomorrow all the things were gone, I'd worked for, all my life, and I had to start again...I'd thank my lucky stars to be livin' here today, 'cause the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away." I am proud to be an American. But sometimes I still wonder, why "God shed his grace on me"? Anyway, the fireworks show was really a magical experience for me because I again realized how lucky and blessed I am (and how grateful I am) to be living in a country where freedom is guaranteed, where rights are inalienable, where your voice can be heard if you speak loudly and persistently enough, and where we can "dream in red, white and blue, and we can dream as much as we want to." (and the fireworks were also an amazing experience because I'd never been to a fireworks show before.)