Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Storm of Emotions

The local public broadcasting station showed "Storm of Emotions" last night, which followed the soldiers and policemen sent to remove settlers from their homes on the Gaza strip.

This was an extraordinary film.

Stunning also were the understanding and high levels of training, compassion, valor and steadfastness demonstrated by the police in removing these people who refused to leave.

Instead of charging them, they embraced them. Instead of shooting them, they listened to them. Instead of fighting them, they reasoned with them and gave concessions where possible, while maintaining the integrity of their mission.

Were American police to be afforded this level of training and support from senior officers, our country would be a better, safer place.


White hats

Cow yearns for the days when the Yankees were the good guys. When prisoners of war would know that because the Americans took them, they were going to be locked up, fed, and allowed the benefits of the Geneva Convention. When America was a force for good in the world.

When discussions on whether waterboarding is torture or not, would only be held in bad guy countries, not ours.

How can a country which stands for freedom, individual rights and justice, even CONSIDER using torture? Who are these people using these methods, commanding those who do?


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Having a bad day?

There is just nothing better than watching a baby panda eat some shoots and leaves to put everything into perspective.


America Still Needs The Maps

This American Life (radio show on National Public Radio) had a segment about maps.

For instance, one geographer has found a correlation: People with pumpkins on their porch are more likely to be mentioned in local news.

Assuming, people with pumpkins probably have kids, participate in local activities, get in the newspaper. Those without those things, probably don't.

Cow will get that pumpkin on the porch, pronto!


You speaka da English?

Have been thinking about how many misspellings there are on internet postings, blogs, sites.

Used to be, you learned correct usage from seeing it, reading books with it, then having that imprinted. Wondering if now, seeing so many errors, they'll be imprinted on the Cow's brain, so that eventually everyone will see and spell things wrong, just because that's how they've been reading it.


Friday, October 26, 2007


Cow doesn't understand why mankind doesn't help out wildlife.

For instance, when there's a drought, why can't we throw some water someplaces for them. When there's really cold weather, why can't we put out some extra food? Wildland fires, why can't we rescue wildlife instead of only houses?

Cow confesses to leaving food out for the wild things, especially when it's really cold. Doesn't understand men whose first impulse when seeing a non-human is to shoot it.

Were every family only to leave out the scraps of food that they throw out every day, wildlife could co-exist peacefully in backyard habitats.


Staying warm

Cow is stunned how it could have been 86 degrees on Monday, and by Thursday only 52.

Silent and unseen though, her new roof insulation silently work. When Cow left for work yesterday, she had warmed the house to 72 and then turned off the heater. When she returned home at 7 pm, 11 hours later, the house was 70 degrees. Last night, Cow warmed the house to 72 before bed, then turned the heater off. Overnight, despite an outside temperature of 40, the house only cooled to 65.

Blown-in cellulose insulation, folks. Keeps you cool in summer and toasty-warm in winter.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Ancient City of...Two Sisters

Excavations of the ancient City of Ur show the heartbreaking effort of continual rebuilding due to flooding.

The first few repairs were done carefully and time went on, and flooding occurred with greater frequency, repairs were made hastily and then finally, not at all, as the City was abandoned to the rising river water.

Two Sisters of Jackson, again the victim of burglary, may restock and reopen this time. As with many victims in the Jackson area, they are determined to hold on. But there may come a point at which the relentless tide of criminal activity necessitates moving. For them, and for almost everyone else.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Social context. We're all in it.

Books from other eras, their blithe assumption of our understanding of their cultural references, make for puzzling reading.

Cow wishes translations would provide social contexts instead of just translating words. For instance, the Duchess of Abrantes lists grievous social solecisms committed in the court of Napoleon I in her memoires, undecipherable now. And Gawain sat uncharacteristically silent while the Green Knight challenged the Court, remarked upon by the chronicler but never explained.

Cow wants more asterisks.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Finds at the Book Sale

Continuing her excursion through the Middle Ages, Topiary was lucky enough to find a translation of the Lais of Marie de France. Sadly, doesn't hold a candle to the Gawain translation but the tex rollicks along nonetheless.

"Whoever wants to tell stories ought to have a variety of beginnings,
and speak so intelligently
that people will enjoy listening."

Good advice from Marie, reaching through the centuries from 1172 to this humble Cow, newly resolved to give her stories variety and verve. Moo!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Pursuing even more epic poetry, The Cow has started on Gilgamesh this morning. Courtesy of the Ridgeland Library Booksale---love these book sales! Hardbacks a dollar, paperbacks fifty cents.

Topiary scooped up all the books with green covers, of course.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Why are (Some) Men so Mean?

In the past, Topiary had supported the Madison Ace Hardware, despite their high prices and the crotchety old men who worked there, because they adopted 3 Katrina cats to live in the store.

Any time you went in there, the cats were happily lounging on a feed bag or patrolling for mice.

Well, the store was sold to new owners, and they got rid of the cats. When Topiary went in there yesterday and looked around for the cats, the salesclerk said: "They ran off."

Well, cats with a warm home, who had lived in the same place for over two years, who are fed regularly in that warm home, do NOT just run off! Cats like to be in their same place.

When Topiary said as much, the salesclerk exploded in rage. "Are you calling me a liar?" thundered the old guy. No---just doesn't seem likely that they would "wander off." "You're calling me a liar---you need to take your business elsewhere."

Well, no problem there.

Topiary just feels sorry for the cats, thats all. People who dump now-unwanted pets by a road to be killed by cars or to starve to death (because they're pets, they don't know how to live in the wild), are the worst people in the world.


Thursday, October 18, 2007


For those who disremember Sir Gawain, while on a quest to find the Green Knight, he stayed awhile in a fair castle. The Lord of this castle went away hunting, and his shameless, beautiful temptress of wife visited Gawain in his bedchamber, not once, not twice, but three mornings.

Gawain resisted her blandishments, not once, not twice, but three times, despite her beauty and state of undress.

However he did fall into dishonor by accepting her present of a green girdle, said to protect him from the mighty sword of the Green Knight.

Topiary fears there is no honor left in the world. Especially when prime-time network television sees nothing shameful in devoting an entire hour show to exactly what transpired in the airport bathroom according to Senator Craig. Had he any honor he should have resigned.

Topiary longs for the days when a ringing cry of "Death Before Dishonor" meant something.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Noble Knights

Listen a little while to my tale if you will
and I'll tell it as it's told in the town where it trips from the tongue;
and as it has been inked
in stories bold and strong,
through letters which, once linked,
have lasted loud and long.

A new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; despite his less than enthusiastic welcome at the British Museum, Simon Armitage has crafted the most rollicking version yet.

Verdant, indeed.

Monday, October 15, 2007


When Napoleon sailed to invade Malta, instead of meeting spirited resistance from the heavily-fortified island, it fell without a shot. According to Desaix, "They were sold."

Treachery seems to have fallen out of favor in modern times. Modern leaders would rather send 120,000 KBR private employees to Iraq, pay them from the national treasury, and let future generations pick up the tab. Or this generation, since oil prices just reached an historic high.

Bribery of nations not to commence certain actions by promising future rewards, removing sanctions, or straightforward invasion if that fails, is now the plain-speaking, plain-dealing, straight-shooting American way. Treachery, finesse, espionage have fallen by the wayside, along with the bodies of so many troops.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Livin' is easy...

Those who live in lower-density areas generally have an easy life. Traffic is not too bad, lines are not too long.

Cow will never forget her first experience moooving to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. She had the gas and electric turned on and a phone connected all on the first day in town. No lines, no waiting. We'll be out there this afternoon! It was a real culture shock to a Big City Cow who was used to waiting a week or two for any service call.

One bite at a time, Population Density makes living harder. Parking isn't free anymore, and spaces aren't available. Traffic jams are a fact of life. Lines are everwhere. Mooovies are sold out. Restaurants have long waits. Housing is unaffordable. Instead of being able to jump in the car and go somewhere, you must plan, plan, plan.

And down goes the quality of life.


Thursday, October 11, 2007


Cow remembers back in her hospital days, when the Coroners and everyone associated with that office, were always clad in jackets, dress shirts and ties, even if delivering or picking up in the wee hours.

It's a concept of showing respect with your dress.

Other countries still understand this. Cow would like her doctors not to be wearing sweatpants, or her lawyer be wearing some sort of shirt and tie. Cow really doesn't want to see professionals showing cleavage(shudder). Or, even worse, "he-vage" (when males subject others to their chests revealed by unbuttoned shirts).

Cow understands why police, airport officials and customs inspectors accord more respect to those dressed well. In Mexico, shoes are very important should you wish to conduct official business. Cow thinks it should be that way here. At least for those dealing with the mortal remains.

A little respect. Please.


Speaka da French?

Reading a book from the 1920's last night, Cow was nostalgically struck by the naive presumption by writers during that time that everyone reading their book would be able to understand French.

So often in these old books, the punchlines of jokes, or important asides, are in French. Which everyone understands, naturally. Even though the book is in English.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Your troubles, and your neighbors

My neighbor says, if you could see everyone's troubles pegged out on a line, you'd always still choose your own.

She is a tireless older lady who cares for her stroke-disabled husband.

Cow is tired of women who envy and form instantaneous judgments of women who might be slimmer, have a better job, or possess some other superficial perceived advantage. People shouldn't judge anyone, and be so hostile and envious, until they truly have walked in someone else's shoes. Nobody can know what people might have gone through to get to where they are. Thinking others have undeserved success, or resenting them because they're pretty, is wrong and evil. Not everyone wants to shout to the world their personal history.

Next time you envy someone based on your perception and judgment that somehow an easy life was handed to them, think. Maybe it wasn't.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nature of the Beast

This Cow is always surprised at what an insular life it is possible to lead, these days.

We mostly don't grow our own food, catch it, or cook it, instead relying almost exclusively on "processed by somebody else" food.

We are wrapped in cotton wool blankets protecting us from seeing death. When you read historical accounts, people were dropping like flies, bodies were being stacked like cord wood even during the Pandemic of 1918. Now professionals deal with it all, tucked away, out of sight.

Except of course, for animal death. Where are the ambulances, resuscitation equipment, and wrongful death lawsuits when meadow homes are turned into roads or houses, leaving the former inhabitants no choice but a fatal dash onto a road?

Save the Bunnies!


Moonlight, "The Hero is in Peril" episode two (spoilers)

Episode Two of Moonlight had the hero revealing his true nature to the cute blonde. And fighting a bad guy who had obviously spent years in prison planning his perfect revenge on Mr. Vampire.

Cow was surprised that Vampire nature was revealed so soon--on the last crimefighter-vampire-living-in LA on which David Greenwalt worked, Vampire nature wasn't revealed till episode seven.

Cow would have preferred that an 80-year old Vampire would have been a little smarter in his interactions with the Bad Guy. The GPS tracker was a nice touch, though.


Nothing to do with Hugh Grant...

Last night on "The Bachelor" the girls who failed to realize they were talking to, not The Bach, but his twin brother, were voted off the island.

Now, Cow has often been mistaken for her twin. Some people are just more visual (artists, Bunnies, Mr. Ramsey). Different people, different abilities. It doesn't bother this Cow at all.

Just as some people are happy in bare premises, while others hang pictures on every square inch.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Watering your house's foundation, part 2

Cow did some more research on this question of watering your house foundation to prevent drought-related damage.

The arguments go as follows:
The engineer society says builders are at fault for foundation problems in clay soils (Texas, Mississippi) because they didn't pour a thick enough slab due to cost-cutting.

The builders blame the home-owners for not preventing damage by "watering" around the foundation.

Other engineers scoff that it is impossible to water around the periphery of your slab enough to prevent damage.

Cow has discarded all information from commercial sites and lists below only information from professional organizations or other presumably more objective parties.

Newspaper article
Water your trees

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Does everybody else know this?

Cow has spent a horrifying hour reading about how, in drought conditions, you're supposed to water your house foundation.

Not just anyhow, but precisely 6 inches away from the walls of the house, for 20 minutes on each side....

And this keeps your foundation from cracking in droughts. Had the Cow known this, she would have been doing this all summer.

Instead, now Cow has two new cracks on her ceiling and three doors that are sticking, that never stuck before.

Cow reads the paper regularly, and never has seen an article about this. Does everybody already know to do this but the poor Cow from the Land of Topiary, where droughts and foundation problems are unheard of?


Monday, October 01, 2007


This is certainly the best new show Cow has seen so far.

Moonlight takes an old idea but with great actors, good scripts and high production values, injects charm and vibrancy into the hour.

Of course, what else would you expect from Joel Silver, past creator of "Action!"

Although there has, as yet, been no Topiary, Cow has high hopes.