Month: April 2007

  • Poor Alex Baldwin's daughter. :^(

    It's bad enough to have one's father screeching at one over the phone like that (I've not followed the story since it originally broke, so have no idea what triggered his angry outburst), but it seems to me it'd be a hundred times worse to have it plastered all over the internet and news.  

    What, exactly, made that qualify as legitimate "news", as in "the public's right to know"? 

    Pitiful.  e-7_mad

  • Here's a depressing fact....

    From the Christian Science MonitorOrphanages brim, but Russia thwarts foreign adoption

    This week, the last of 89 foreign-based adoption agencies failed to get reaccreditation.

    A year ago, there were 89 accredited foreign-based adoption
    agencies; this week, the last of them saw their accreditation expire.
    Officials say that 76 agencies have filed documents for
    reaccreditation, and are at varying stages on a treadmill that now
    requires them first to register as nongovernmental organizations under
    a new law. Adoption agencies were previously licensed by the Ministry
    of Education, but now their applications must also be vetted by the
    ministries of interior, justice, foreign affairs, and health.

    "It's a whole new process, based on a government
    decree passed last November," says Sergei Vitelis, an official with the
    Ministry of Education and Science. "We do not yet have a single case
    where all the ministries have given their approval; as soon as we have,
    we'll start issuing licenses."

    Russia has some 700,000 institutionalized
    children, about 260,000 of whom are officially listed as orphans
    available for adoption. Last year alone 140,052 children were placed in
    orphanages, according Russia's official Statistics Service, while 7,742
    were adopted by Russian families and 6,689 by foreigners.

    So as of right this minute, if any adoptions are going to happen, they'll have to be done independently, which makes me weak to even think about.   They do happen, mind!  As a matter of sorry fact, those cases where Russian adoptees wind up beaten or killed by their America families were usually handled independently.  The primary safeguard are proper agencies, yet Russia's setting up one obstacle after another, to the point there are now no accredited foreign agencies in Russia at all. 

    This story came from the CSM last December:  In remote Russia, 'Murziki' bring cheer to orphans

    Children pour out of Rybinsk's orphanage No. 72,
    laughing and waving, when the Murziki pull up in their mud-spattered
    convoy of cars. The kids know many of these adults from distant Moscow
    by name, and they hurry to help unload the cars, stacked with boxes of
    toys, sports equipment, and coats - as well as cutlery and a new VCR
    with a selection of cartoons, needs the Murziki carefully noted on
    their last visit.

    The Murziki tell the kids that they come from the
    mythical country of Murlandia, a kind of cross between Neverland and
    Santa's Village. In reality, they're something almost as rare in
    Russia, where the volunteer spirit has been dead for the past century:
    a self-organized band of middle-class people devoting their resources
    and spare time to a sustained effort to change hard facts for a few
    hundred children.

    "We decided not to sit around waiting for the state
    to do something about the human crisis we saw unfolding," says German
    Pyatov, a Moscow surgeon who founded the group after the 1998 financial
    crash in Russia.

    It's now grown to about 700 supporters, connected by
    the Internet, and a hard core of several dozen Muscovites who regularly
    make the 300-mile drive out to the chain of poor Volga towns, with
    their teeming orphanages, that they've targeted.

    "I've found that interacting with these children
    charges me with the energy to keep going," says Mr. Pyatov. "It's
    enough to look in their eyes to realize that not enough is being done."

    They have their work cut out for them. Russia's orphan
    population has ballooned in the past 15 years, particularly in the
    economically blighted hinterland beyond booming Moscow.

    Rybinsk, a formerly closed defense-industry town of
    250,000 on the Volga River, had one orphanage in 1991; now it has six.
    This reflects a widespread post-Soviet tendency of impoverished
    families to abandon children.

    Forty out of the 52 inhabitants of orphanage No. 72
    have living parents who won't, or can't, care for them. "Most of the
    factories around here went bankrupt, and people lost everything," says
    Nina Kornyushkina, the orphanage's director. "Many people sank into
    despair and alcoholism, and the children were just lost."

    About 760,000 children are classified as orphans in
    Russia, according to the Ministry of Education, while a further 1.5
    million are thought to be "homeless." Statistics cited by Pyatov
    suggest that existing institutions do little to help them.

    "Roughly 45 percent of children land in prison within
    five years of leaving the orphanage, 35 percent become drug or alcohol
    addicts, 10 per cent die - of accidents and suicide - and just 10
    percent are considered relatively successful," he says.

    "Being sent to an orphanage is a catastrophic route for
    any child," says Sergei Korobenko, the Russian head of Hope
    International, which runs programs in large cities to persuade parents
    not to give up their children to orphanages. "There are very many
    families at risk, and we try to work directly with them, to find ways
    to ease their problems and keep the children in the home setting."

    Doubtless Vitaly, the only one not adopted from the Bright Futures camp that brought us Joe, Zhenya, and Reagan, has "graduated" from Shumerly.  I wonder where he is now and how he's doing?  e-11_confused

  • How ridiculous.

    We elected to pay this year's property taxes in two payments, and this morning I went to the county tax assessor's online site to pay the balance.

    Apparently I somehow managed to make a payment last November that left a balance of a penny for the first half.  Can you believe the system wouldn't permit me to pay the entire amount, but would only take a PENNY?

    Looks as if the penny payment'll have to be posted before I can pay the other half.  e-hairout

  • Whoa, Nellie! Color ME excited!

    In a few weeks Xanga will permit NON-Xangan comments!  bigsmile2

    So.....I expect the number of comments here to increase exponentially.   

  • One trouble with ice hockey is how low-scoring it is.

    The Stars just scored a goal in tonight's play-off game, which began over an hour and a half ago.

    It's the first goal of the game. 

    At least the Mavericks won, after mostly being 3-6 points behind San Antonio for the majority of the game.  It was their 66th win of the season, putting them in 10th place for the most wins in the NBA.   e-cheerleader

    Go MAVS!  e-Cheers

  • Strong storms blew through late this afternoon.

    We were fine here, but Jessica and Jason's cars (plus the Skylark, which they kindly allow us to park on the side of their driveway) were battered by large (as in baseball-sized) hail. 

    Hail won. 

    Baseball-sized hail also pounded DFW airport, doubtless to the dismay of both airlines (due to their airplanes being pummeled) and passengers (due to both their cars being pummeled, not to mention their flights being delayed).

    The news stations had continuous coverage of the storms, and during one segment featuring a reporter outside on the High Five (five layers of freeway bridges in the north Dallas area), the soggy reporter observed that the storm was worsening with increasing rain, strong winds and hail, to which he added a pithy comment:  "Hail hurts!"

    The people in the station advised him to get back in the van. 

    While out (either going to or returning from Chuck E. Cheese's), Jessica saw the back of the tornado that moved through the Richland Hills area, past 820 and 121.  Better the back than the front! 

  • Snow skiing in Tarrant county?

    Wow.  There's a concept for you.

    Turns out the CoolZone Winterplex is a serious project on the books, and one of the people involved is ex-Congressman Dick Armey, and the design team is one that has built for Disney and Universal.  The idea is to build a 250' "mountain" as the primary feature of a resort on a piece of land not far from Alliance airport, so that winter sports will be available year-round:

    Resembling an alpine skiing village and featuring first-rate hotel
    accommodations, fine dining and retail stores, the Coolzone Winterplex
    will offer the level of entertainment expected from a world-class theme
    park. The park’s main attraction is a 60-acre plus, 20-story outdoor
    ski and snowboard mountain which will be surfaced with Britons award
    winning Snowflex® surface system that mimics real packed powder and
    provides qualities and conditions like those of mountain snow. The
    mountain will be complete with chair lifts, a snowboard park with
    competition half pipe, toboggans, and snow tubing. In addition to
    catering to extreme sports enthusiasts, the park will also feature
    activities for the entire family including two ice rinks, an outdoor
    ice trail, a winter wonderland for children with snow, an outdoor
    concert venue, rock climbing, and rides.


    At first blush it sounds like a totally goofy idea, but the more I mull it over, the goof factor fades.  The Metroplex is a huge market base for skiers...thousands of people from here flock to slopes in New Mexico, Colorado, etc. every winter.  What do you wanna bet those people would be eager to be able to ski at home betweentimes?  Plus there are all of us who'd rather like to try skiing but are reluctant to pop the necessary bucks to buy a ski trip.  And let's not forget the ferocious heat of this area.....snow in July? 

    I'm so there! 

    Tell you one thing that really frosts me, and not in a good way, and that's how it's being promoted as being in DALLAS. 

    'Scuse me, if it's around Alliance Airport, it's in the FORT WORTH area, not Big Dreadful.  e-fingers_ears

  • Hannah's going to have a little sister!

    Alex called this morning to tell us the news....Beth had the sonogram, and their new baby's a girl.  

    He allowed as now they need to think of a girl's name, seeing as how they were going to use Caleb Ray, which is what Hannah'd been, had she been a boy.

    I told him that's kind of funny, as his father and I never "reused" a name.  We'd have girl and boy names ready, but whichever name wasn't needed fell permanently by the wayside.  One chance and that's it, by golly.  Can't think why, really.  e-shrug

    My sister Jeanne and I had such good times growing up together, as do Meredith and Margaret, Elaine's girls....I'm delighted to think of precious poppet Hannah having this same pleasure.  e-aw

  • Spring in America! Whatcha gonna do?

    Up in Chicago they're closing the schools and canceling flights due to the heavy snow, while here in Fort Worth it's in the 70's and clear as a bell.

    Every now and again I find the extreme weather differences taking place simultaneously in the country to be nigh unto overwhelming.