Monday, December 31, 2007

reprinted important comment

December 31, 2007
Looking at America

There are too many moments these days when we cannot recognize our country. Sunday was one of them, as we read the account in The Times of how men in some of the most trusted posts in the nation plotted to cover up the torture of prisoners by Central Intelligence Agency interrogators by destroying videotapes of their sickening behavior. It was impossible to see the founding principles of the greatest democracy in the contempt these men and their bosses showed for the Constitution, the rule of law and human decency.

It was not the first time in recent years we’ve felt this horror, this sorrowful sense of estrangement, not nearly. This sort of lawless behavior has become standard practice since Sept. 11, 2001.

The country and much of the world was rightly and profoundly frightened by the single-minded hatred and ingenuity displayed by this new enemy. But there is no excuse for how President Bush and his advisers panicked — how they forgot that it is their responsibility to protect American lives and American ideals, that there really is no safety for Americans or their country when those ideals are sacrificed.

Out of panic and ideology, President Bush squandered America’s position of moral and political leadership, swept aside international institutions and treaties, sullied America’s global image, and trampled on the constitutional pillars that have supported our democracy through the most terrifying and challenging times. These policies have fed the world’s anger and alienation and have not made any of us safer.

In the years since 9/11, we have seen American soldiers abuse, sexually humiliate, torment and murder prisoners in Afghanistan and Iraq. A few have been punished, but their leaders have never been called to account. We have seen mercenaries gun down Iraqi civilians with no fear of prosecution. We have seen the president, sworn to defend the Constitution, turn his powers on his own citizens, authorizing the intelligence agencies to spy on Americans, wiretapping phones and intercepting international e-mail messages without a warrant.

We have read accounts of how the government’s top lawyers huddled in secret after the attacks in New York and Washington and plotted ways to circumvent the Geneva Conventions — and both American and international law — to hold anyone the president chose indefinitely without charges or judicial review.

Those same lawyers then twisted other laws beyond recognition to allow Mr. Bush to turn intelligence agents into torturers, to force doctors to abdicate their professional oaths and responsibilities to prepare prisoners for abuse, and then to monitor the torment to make sure it didn’t go just a bit too far and actually kill them.

The White House used the fear of terrorism and the sense of national unity to ram laws through Congress that gave law-enforcement agencies far more power than they truly needed to respond to the threat — and at the same time fulfilled the imperial fantasies of Vice President Dick Cheney and others determined to use the tragedy of 9/11 to arrogate as much power as they could.

Hundreds of men, swept up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq, were thrown into a prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, so that the White House could claim they were beyond the reach of American laws. Prisoners are held there with no hope of real justice, only the chance to face a kangaroo court where evidence and the names of their accusers are kept secret, and where they are not permitted to talk about the abuse they have suffered at the hands of American jailers.

In other foreign lands, the C.I.A. set up secret jails where “high-value detainees” were subjected to ever more barbaric acts, including simulated drowning. These crimes were videotaped, so that “experts” could watch them, and then the videotapes were destroyed, after consultation with the White House, in the hope that Americans would never know.

The C.I.A. contracted out its inhumanity to nations with no respect for life or law, sending prisoners — some of them innocents kidnapped on street corners and in airports — to be tortured into making false confessions, or until it was clear they had nothing to say and so were let go without any apology or hope of redress.

These are not the only shocking abuses of President Bush’s two terms in office, made in the name of fighting terrorism. There is much more — so much that the next president will have a full agenda simply discovering all the wrongs that have been done and then righting them.

We can only hope that this time, unlike 2004, American voters will have the wisdom to grant the awesome powers of the presidency to someone who has the integrity, principle and decency to use them honorably. Then when we look in the mirror as a nation, we will see, once again, the reflection of the United States of America.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

Tues Quiz --- answers and Gold Stars, and a correction

All of the pictures were identified by at least one person. IRENE wrote to say that she had sent the answer for Kevin Rudd, the new Prime Minister of Australia. I had simply forgotten this. Many apologies!

Here were all the answers: Roger Clemens without his baseball clothes, Benazir Bhutto without her headcover, Scooter Libby who got sentenced and then pardoned by that white house guy, Gordon Brown, the new P.M. of Britain, Arthur Schlesinger who wrote about Kennedy in several books and won literary prizes for it, Mike Mukasy our new Attorney Genera who replaced Alberto Gonzo, Marion Jones who admitted to doping and lost her championships, Michelle OBama who turns out to be as cool as Jackie Kennedy was, Kevin Rudd the new Prime Minister of Australia, Kurt Vonnegut who died this year, Owen Wilson who had an emotional crisis, Art Buchwald who wote cutting political satire, Ron Carey from Hogan's Heroes and Barney Miller and other TV shows, Amy Winehouse who got in trouble with Britain's drug cops.


MARGARET - who was the only one who knew Mukasy. She also knew 8 others.

PAT and FELIX - Who worked on this quiz with determination and knew more than half. Felix figured out Ron Carey.

ALICE - who wound up identifying about 10 of the people.

Monday Morning friends report

Lots of friends have been having colds and coughs these days. I won't try to list their names, but you all know how this goes. The holidays make us merry and then they make us sick.

In this posting, I am again telling you news of the comings-and-goings, ideas and thoughts and fantasies of some of our friends, and also what they're sending me in emails.
Keep us informed!

(Usually, if you click on pictures, they will enlargen themselves)

DIG S - sent a very nice Christmas letter to his friends. In it he included a discussion of his thinking about staying in Michigan. He also sent some examples of his photography, which he is taking up more seriously, once again. Here is one I thought was a beautiful use of form and color:

IRISH MIKE - sent a wonderful "picture from the past." Many of our BIRCHES readers will recognize one or more of the guys in this picture. Gold stars to anyone who can send the names of all of these athletes.

CHOPS - threw his annual holiday card party for 20 friends. It was a big hit. Our reporter on the scene says that no one was obviously drunk and disorderly although a couple of guys played cards like they were. Meanwhile, a large group of ladies gathered to eat out and go to a movie.

BILL FROM WNNCO - forwarded a collection of adult cartoons that he was sent. Here's one I thought wouldn't upset too many of you:


Travel notes:
SCOT - sent this note of arrival in Australia:
"Just a quick note to let you know we're safe and sound. I'm sitting on a sofa, watching cricket in a breezy living room at Tony & Irene's place on an 80-degree day. The first two beers went down fine, and the next couple should, too. It's the second day of a 5-day international test match between Australia and India. The country comes to a halt, essentially."

I looked it up and found this headline, but I don't know if it applies to the whole five days. Waiting foir someone down under to tell us how it all came out:
Australia v India 1st Test Match- Aus Wins by 337 Runs

MARSHA - has come and gone from the north where she was visiting friends and family. Now she's back home in S. Carolina. She did the 14 hour drive alone and non-stop. And that included "torrential rains" through West Virginia. She was a big loser at cards, we hear. We hear she lost a ton of money to a friend.

ALICE - has reservations in hand for a trip to Florida in February.

PAM - and husband have been visiting in North Carolina.
FELIX - spent the Christmas holidays in Massachusetts. For an Indiana boy who's also used to wilderness hiking alone, this must be a horrible culture shock. We're hoping he hasn't been ruined by this brush with Eastern sophistication.

GENDER - will be heading to Florida soon to spend most of the remaining winter. 

 STEVE - spent Christmas with his fiancĂ©'s family,. but he had time to send in a late entry for the picture of Santa squatting on the chimney.
"So you thought it was funny to put ex-lay in the cookies and milk didya?"

This might have been the winner if he'd gotten it in on time.

Causes and Interests:
JERRY - passed along a contentious little essay that proposes society give urine tests to recipients of social security. The obvious inference to draw is that people who test positive for drugs or alcohol would not receive public benefits like social security.

EXCERPT: "Shouldn't one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them? Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their ASS, doing drugs, while I work." 

This would make 'one hell of a' debate if we could get two well-versed people to discuss this in an open forum. I'd like to hear the opinions of some of our BIRCHES followers. Send me mail.

I tried to trace this e-mail to its source. I believe it began in October with the Black Hawk Iowa County Republican Party. You can read the short essay (a few paragraphs) here: CLICK

Jerry also sent this link to an "I.Q." test which I thought was a lot of fun. Go ahead and try it, but you have to be quick, because the questions come and go quickly.

BILL from WNNCO - sent this advertisement. I willingly accept that if he orders one of these guns, I could take the first 'bullet'. Not many people qualify more than I do, so just shoot me!

ALICE - sent an article about the discovery of an Aztec pyramid in Mexico City. We know that Alice has a fascination with Mexican and Indian cultures, so going to see the ancient Mexican ruins would be a priority on her travel list. CLICK

IRISH MIKE - is as Irish as they come when you're talking about beer and taverns. They are like Home Ground. Now he's made a new Irish pub discovery, Guinan's, -- and he hasn't even been there. It is a small community pub on the banks of the Hudson River and has been operating as an add-on to a little general store for 45 years. It became much more famous with the publication of "The Little Chapel On The River." CLICK

Mike says it is in danger of closing, so he's thinking maybe some of us guys should take a trip out there to New York just to be there before it does. Patronage might help extend its life! Here it is shown almost as a shed on the back of the store:
Read more: CLICK

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday silly Sites #6

Stuff one stumbles upon when one is wasting one's time cruising around the internet. Have fun!

Go here to actually watch a 78 rpm record play. If you're too young to remember, this is really good learning opportunity, and besides, watching things go around and around is a wonderful pastime. And, you will hear a fantastic Alpine yodeling song, too. This is a double treat! CLICK

Go here to join the movement to boycott Christmas shopping. There are only like 360 non-shopping days left before the next one. CLICK

Go here to see the very graphic evidence of why the US is up to its ass in the middle east. CLICK

Go here to see pictures of homeless people around the world. Isn't this a charming way to feel better about your own condition in life? CLICK

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Wacko of the Week -- 12/29/07


Las Vegas, Nevada

The pressures of the holidays will affect us all a bit differently. Some people roll up in tight balls under their blankets, some drink themselves into a stupor, some go to church to find solace, some spend too much money or eat too much chocolate, or do the civil thing and hang out with the family.

Then, there's this guy.

When Beatriz Alvarez provided a place for Victor to stay until he got himself on his feet, she could not have imagined he was the kind of guy who would drink straight from the milk carton.

She asked him not to. He hacked her to death with a machete. Then he went after the rest of the family who are spending the holidays, now, in intensive care. He gets to celebrate the Nativity in his very own jail cell.


Here's a friendly tip: don't give free room and board to any guy who moves in with his own machete.

Here are some wacko runners up:

1. Ron Paul, presidential candidate, for his argument to Tim Russert on Meet The Press that the Civil War was unnecessary, that Lincoln could have peacefully freed the slaves by buying them, and that Lincoln's real motive was to destroy the Constitution as it was written.

2. Rick Carroll of California, who displayed himself as a sort of Santa Clause dressed thusly:
In addition to a red Santa hat, he wore a blond wig, red lace camisole, purple G-string, black leg warmers and black shoes.

He was arrested for drunk driving, and the police department said he was not THE real Santa Claus. Whew! They extorted $5000 in bail from the jolly old elf, packed him into a sleigh and sent him home.

3. Vancouver Washington police officer, Roger Evans, who pulled out his gun and threatened to kill a butcher because the meat was badly seasoned. The butcher ran for cover while the "customers freaked out."

Quiz clues and the latest update

I've found out that Alice and Pat are both working on these. Alice has 8 right so far.
The Clues:
A couple of national leaders
An assassinated person
A couple of comic actors, one dead
A couple of famous authors
Kennedy administration historian
A druggie singer
A couple of disgraced athletes
A couple of Bushies
A famous wife

NEWS Flash!

In the wake of the murder of Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto, the candidates running for President of the U.S. have reached an uncharacteristic agreement that the assassination of presidential candidates in any country is a very bad idea. They all condemn it in the most sincere terms. In fact, rarely will you see politicians so sincere.

That Little Brat #2

Andy Borowitz answers girls' questions about the fabulous pregnancy of Britney Spears's little sister:

How did Jamie Lynn Spears get pregnant?

According to her mom, Jamie Lynn was a good girl who always respected her curfew and girls like that usually don’t get pregnant. So the answer is, no one knows.
Could Kevin Federline have made Jamie Lynn Spears pregnant?

No. This is one of those rare instances when someone got pregnant and Kevin Federline was not involved.
Now that Jamie Lynn is pregnant, will Zoey, the character she plays on Nickelodeon, get pregnant, too?

No. Remember, Jamie Lynn is a real person and Zoey is just a made-up character. Plus, Nickelodeon is owned by an angry old man named Sumner Redstone who doesn’t let people get pregnant. So there is absolutely no way Zoey will get pregnant. Instead, Zoey will get cancelled.

The whole thing is here: CLICK

2nd Amendment update


Unable to establish any motive for the Christmas Eve shooting deaths of 6 people, all in one family, authorities are contemplating releasing the daughter and boyfriend previously arrested, on the assumption that they were merely exercising their Second Amendment rights, according to Assistant D.A. Andallusia Kroop.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends: A favorite Card

Here under the Birches we got several Christmas cards from friends, and we appreciate them all. One could make a great case that Christmas cards are ecologically unsound ideas these days. But they're heartwarming when they show up in the mailbox anyway. Here is a favorite. Can you guess from whom? (Clicking on the picture should enlarge it.)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Our good luck

Fortunately, In this hour of great international crisis, our interests as a people are in very good hands. 'The Decider' is in charge.

For example, consider the wisdom in the President's first statement on the killing of Benazir Bhutto:
"She knew that her return to Pakistan earlier this year put her life at risk," Bush said. "Yet she refused to allow assassins to dictate the course of her country."

So, by giving up her life, she denied assassins their objectives. Not everyone would have thought of that.


Here are two brief news items from this morning from abroad. Before you consider voting for a "religious" candidate for President, consider ALL of the "blessings" that religious politics will bring. I'm thinking in particular, but not exclusively, of Mike Huckabee.

NEW DELHI - Hindu extremists burned down the house of a prominent Christian politician in eastern India Thursday, officials said, as violence by gangs from both sides continued despite a curfew imposed after two days of attacks against Christians by Hindu hard-liners.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank - Robed Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests went at each other with brooms and stones inside the Church of the Nativity on Thursday as long-standing rivalries erupted in violence during holiday cleaning.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (25)

Love In Bloom 

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tuesday Evening Quiz reformulated

A couple of national leaders
An assassinated person
A couple of comic actors, one dead
A couple of famous authors
Kennedy administration historian
A druggie singer
A couple of disgraced athletes
A couple of Bushies
A famous wife
can you figure it out?

That Little Brat #1

A furious neighbor woman brings 8-yr old Dieter home to his mother, screaming that the kid was caught playing "doctors and nurses" with Mary, her own little daughter.

Dieter's mother says, "Let's not be too harsh on them....They're bound to be curious about sex at that age."

"Curious about sex!" screams Mary's mother. "He took out her goddamn appendix!" "

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

Christmas brunch with friends of 45 years, plus.
And many more to go!

(Click on pictures to enlarge them.)

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

This is the very festive tree in the warmest and friendliest home in the town. It belongs to GIGI and SPARTY and will be enjoyed by a swarm of kids and grandkids.

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

The tree of IRISH MIKE and AMY.
Well, they think they own it, but it's in fact claimed by BOSCO, who you see sitting in the chair. Bosco will share, however. If you stop by here, someone will give you a beer and a great smile.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it)

Monday, December 24, 2007

not surprised

Huckabee angers some Catholics

Sun Dec 23, 2007
By Jim Forsyth

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Rising Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee risked his standing with Catholic voters on Sunday by courting his evangelical base at the church of a controversial preacher accused of disparaging Catholics.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Monday Morning friends report

Here under the BIRCHES, we are very grateful for the friends we have and for the deep comfort of knowing they are in our lives. We are especially glad that so many of us are healthy and prosperous in this season.

Thank You for looking in on BIRCHES and for contributing to both the silliness and the serious side of this blog.

Here is some of what we've seen and heard from friends this week. Please stay in touch, dudes and dudettes.
(Usually, if you click on pictures, they will enlarge.)

Here are causes some of you are interested in:
BILL FROM WNNCO - sent this email which says "The American Flag Fights Back" wherein a demonstrator attempting to burn the U.S. flag manages to set fire to himself:

JERRY - is promoting an effort by Xerox to send thousands of postcards in the name of as many individual Americans as possible to say thanks to the troops. If you would like to participate, it's free. Go here: click

Excerpt: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whetheryou are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know weare behind them."

DIG S: has been telling friends to get agitated about the recent decision by the FCC to allow more large media companies to dominate more and more local market share. This is a threat to democracy, he says. Independent news outlets are being swallowed up, so we will hear fewer independent voices.

Go here to sign a letter to Congress protesting this decision: click

GIGI - also is concerned about this issue and asked her friends to sign a petition on the matter.

JIM THILL - over at Pinholery, began a discussion of anarchy. He refers to his attitudes as "anti-statist" which seems to reflect a deliberate iconoclasm that I can definitely sympathize with about 10 times a day, and that's no shit. His posting prompted a number of interesting comments and thoughts which you can read here: click

ALICE - is on the warpath about price fixing in the chocolate industry. Evidently, a food group this important to her is too critical to have artificially high anything, much less artificially high prices. You can read about this problem here: click

On a similar note, she sent a picture of what can happen to women if they eat too much chocolate. Their feet shrink.

DASHMANN - He read an opinion by Andrew Heller criticizing our government for being unresponsive to the popular will. He thinks maybe it's time for a little revolution. Dashmann has sent the article to many friends.

Here is an excerpt:Republicans and Democrats have no intention of doing much about jobs, health care, global warming or anything else.

It's no mystery why that is -- elected officials are bought and paid for by the various industries that don't want change.

Campaign finance laws could fix that, but guess who's in charge of approving new campaign finance laws? Heh, heh. Good system, eh?
None of this is new, of course. Politicians have been in corporate pockets since time began, but like I say, there's something different these days.
In the past, idealism would at times win out, and we'd get some of the things most of us see as necessary.
But no more. We seem to have passed some tipping point. Lock-step allegiance to party and donors has trumped conscience and representing the views of voters.

Government is broken. We need to fix it.
Anyone up for breaking out the torches and pitchforks?

Read it all here: click

Dashmann also sent a YouTube reference to an amazingly cynical song by Tim Wilson, a country music icon. If you aren't offended by bad language and negativity, you might find this hilarious. You've been warned, but then, we're all adults around here: click

JERRY - sent this site to watch "Mrs. Hughes" talk about her family. This is pretty funny and is not at all nasty: click


Known Travel Plans:
FELIX has gone to Boston for the holidays.

MARSHA is off to be with family in Ohio for Christmas, and then to see friends in Michigan.

TRASE and SCOT - are off to Australia on Christmas Day.

MIKE CARROLL, almost from Carrollton - had to hire a well digger. He was very impressed by the man's ability to work in freezing temperatures, getting wet and still carrying on. Mike says the saying about a well-digger's ass is certainly true.

GUINNESS CLUB- A lot of members of the Guinness Club, which meets on Fridays, had a special get-together, because their favorite bar tenderness, Katrina, is leaving her post. A great celebration was held with Kat receiving gifts for the new baby and for herself. With a new college degree, she'll be going on to an exciting new life. Here she is, with some friends.


SPARTY - who is incidentally, a founding member of the Guinness Club, forwarded this joke:

I was depressed last night so I called the Suicide Hotline.
I got a call center in Pakistan.
I told them I was suicidal.
They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck or fly a plane.


PAT - Mother and son enjoying a beer and a laugh. Lots of you will recognize them:


FELIX - read a recent list of "why is it" 's on BIRCHES, and had to add a couple of his own:
Why is Jesus in the pictures always pretty well-groomed?
Why do shoes come in .5 size increments...but, sox come size 6-12?



Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

A look at the University of Michigan tree at Bud and Pat's.
(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)

Sunday silly Sites #5

Go here to learn how to number your teeth: CLICK

Go here to see the oldest known photograph of a tornado : CLICK

Go here to buy "Get Hooked on Jesus" shirts, you know, like a fish on a line kind of hooked: CLICK

Go here to see a slideshow of photos of real ghosts: CLICK

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

Marsha's collection of Christmasy characters with carrot noses. (Click on picture to enlarge it.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Two Gold Stars

One to ALICE for identifying all but one of the pictures in Tuesday's Quiz. The answers were:
1. Madonna
2. Howard Stern
3. Bruce Willis
4. Angelina Joli
5. Julia Roberts
6. Charlize Theron
7. Helen Hunt
8. Sandra Bullock

And one to MARSHA who has a degree in Russian, believe it or not, for translating the caption on the cartoon of Sitting Santa. It says:

"You've Been Really Bad This Year."

Wacko of the Week -- 12/22/07

St. John's Newfoundland:

This week's collective wacko: The 50 people who showed up in temperatures of minus 11 to have their nude pictures taken on the town's waterfront.

There is really no discussion necessary.

"It was really thrilling," she said. "It's sort of like the Garden of Eden, but colder than I think it was in the Garden of Eden."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Glimpses of Holiday with Friends

This is a picture of the tree at the DASHMANN household where Dash and his frau JOANN have kept the family tradition of large bulbs.

And, the stockings are hung by the fireplace, as always...

on a serious note

As a long-time teacher of government and an observer of the political scene in the U.S. and someone who sometimes thinks seriously about democracy and good government and policy issues, and as a very patriotic person, I will say this: 

Mike Huckabee is totally unacceptable as a President of the United States.

Government and organized religion, especially doctrinaire religious attitudes, are and should be two separate societal constructs. This does not mean that religious people should not be in politics. It means that they are to be kept apart.  They were meant for two entirely separate functions in a democratic society.  This is why Jesus said,
"Yield unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's."
Huckabee is one of those people who says outright that the First Amendment does not build a barrier between church and state. Those people are mistaken. 
You will not want to live in a society that is theocratically or theologically based.  Look around you at the rest of the world.  

new item on Tuesday Quiz

Dec 21, 8 a.m. =  Two ladies have identified 5 of the 8 pictures.  

I conclude that you are all so taken up with the Iowa Caucus race that you haven't got time for BIRCHES any more.

Or, possibly, everyone's too busy with Christmas. Hm-m --- ya, I bet that's it.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

We went with friends to see "I AM LEGEND" with Will Smith. Besides him, the cast seemed to be composed of Dick Cheney and his relatives.

Thursday Morning Smile-Maker (24)

"E-e-e- Haw" (and with beer) --

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

another foul deed

Can someone translate this for me?
If you're not sure, just make up a good one.

foul deed


To a long list of other crimes, Hillary Clinton has now added a new one: ARSON! 

Not content with having murdered Vince Foster and thrown his body out in a public park, not content with having manipulated the futures markets and made a ton of money, not content with drug-running through the Mena Airport, not content with having destroyed the American health care system 15 years ago, she has now set fire to the Old Executive Office Building (or, as they now call it, The Eisenhower Executive Office Building.) 

Police are reporting that she sneaked away from her campaign tour during the night, stopped at a CITGO  station, owned by her good friend, the dictator of Venezuela, who hates America almost as much as Hillary herself,  bought a gallon of gasoline, and then proceeded to pour it on the side of the OEOB (or, EEOB). 

Arrest is imminent, claims Attorney General whatever the hell his name is: Mukhtada, or something like that.  

Who gives a damn?

Putin Named Time "Person of the Year"

Monday, December 17, 2007


Gold Star
for her best score on the Asia geography quiz.

Monday Morning friends report -- a little late

I've been out of touch with a lot of you 'peeps' recently, but here's some stuff. Keep me updated, eh?

IRISH MIKE - noting that he is now meeting with friends for breakfast, he says his wife Amy has started calling him ROMEO. Not as romantic as you think; it means, "Really Old Man Eating Out."

BUD and PAT - ran into this Christmas "elf" greeting people and giving out candy at a shopping center in Carolina. The day was warm and the grass was green, but Christmas is magic to a kid in any case.


MIKE CARROLL almost from Carrollton - has forwarded a bunch of "why" questions. This one is a an especially baffling one, if you ask me: "Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard? "

He also sent these "Amazingly Simple Home Remedies"
1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup
of boiling water down your throat and presto, the blockage will be
almost instantly removed.
2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting
someone else to hold them while you chop away.
3. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed
for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember
to use an egg timer.
4. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives. Then you
will be afraid to cough.


DASHMANN and JOANN - Found themselves investing a lot of money in some new plumbing and sewer work.

Also, Dashmann has been very interested in the saga of Michigan's new coach and concludes that the Schembechler Era is over now that a new coach with no Michigan experience has been hired.

TRASE and SCOT - found themselves investing a lot of money in basement repairs.

SANDY - her daughter came home from California, and she herself has returned from a trip to visit parents in North Carolina.

SPARTY and GIGI- Son is home for the holidays from North Carolina.

MARSHA - traveled by private jet to Charleston to participate in a ceremony honoring former Senator Fritz Hollings. He was one of University of South Carolina 'Distinguished Alumni.' She said he is a charming guy and fascinating to listen to. He had many stories about famous people he'd known in politics, including many Presidents.

BUD and PAT - Home from Florida.

JERRY - says he woke during the big snow storm in Michigan, looked outside, and saw that a snow fairy had come to do the walk.

Jerry kept us updated about a fire in our neighborhood while we were away. The house across the street burned down and Jerry checked my house for damage. Many thanks.

BILL FROM WNNCO - claims that George W. Bush ran into a guy who looked just like Moses, but when he tried to talk to the guy, he was ignored. So, a Secret Service agent went up to the man in the white robe and whispered,
"You look just like Moses. Are you?"

The man leaned over and whispered back ... "Yes, I am
Moses. However, the last time I talked to a bush I
spent 40 years wandering in the desert, and ended up
leading my people to the only spot in the entire middle
east where there is no oil."

why some birds fly

One console computer, two places, two days.

Home for the Holiday

We have given up our Florida vacation and come home for the holidays. The last night we were in Florida, we were under a thunderstorm warning all night and a tornado watch for most of the night. This is not the reason we left, but it was a good time to depart. So it was home to the snowy vistas of mid-Michigan.

The trip home was a smooth drive. We planned it to miss all the worst weather in the South and in the north.

We returned to discover that our wonderful neighbor had cleared the driveway of, apparently, about 5 inches of snow. Meanwhile, the house across the street that burned has disappeared. It's been torn down.

I will be updating as much as possible over the next few days, including a friends report and a quiz.

Republican Humor (35)

It's been quite a while since we've had a new example of the sharp and clever Republican wit that as entranced us all since BIRCHES began doing a regular feature. Imagine! 35 examples of it so far, and the first primary has not even been held.

Once again, thanks to BILL FROM WNNCO who has a direct line into the Republican humor hotline, mostly off unnamed corporations' computers. (And my lips are sealed totally on this one.) They have provided about a third of the humoroids so far.

Here is the "New Boston Legal Team":