Saturday, December 31, 2005

oh happy, oh joy!

i appear to have my pluck back, but how could i not?

my friends' cat Zane is hanging tight in spite of an epic transfusion reaction and is headed home to hopefully finish getting better, my friends gave me the 6th season of South Park as a Christmas present, and i scored cross-country skis and boots at the REI garage sale for supercheap. tonight i am headed to what is guaranteed to be a fabulous party-complete with pianist, female impersonater and instructions to 'wear bling'. (i will try to remember to take pictures.)

not recovering my insouciance and verve would be positively aberrant, ungrateful, and might indicate actual death.

be well, be safe, be happy! i will see you in the New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2005

WARNING: this is beyond sickening

and Bush and Cheney think it is okay, actually fought to keep it legal for US forces to be able to 'do it themselves':

From Jesus General:

The story.

What Our Leader hath wrought (caution: graphic photos of the result of our outsourced interrogation work).

Karimov, Our Leader, His manservant Colin, and that old, curmudgeonly exterminator at DOD hanging out at the Memory Hole.

The Documents (mirrored)


Legal Advice to the British Foreign Office.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

hodge podge

my Christmas Coat
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
i had hoped this to be a light bit of fluff before getting down to the business of catching up on politics but no luck. i do enclose this picture though because it pleased my mother to take it and pleases me to see it. this is my Christmas coat: i wear it every year at Christmastime. it reminds me of snow, Danny Kaye and family.

i also can report that i am now the proud aunt of another little girl. she was born right before Christmas (12/18) and is a lovely little bundle. Mom and Rol will be heading up to Minneapolis on New Year's Eve to cuddle and coo and hopefully email me many many photos of Caroline Ingrid. this will also mark another Mom milestone as it will be her first flight since the accident!

the rest of my news is less merry. while in the thick of personal health issues, my dear friends' cat Zane has been struck ill. it is terrible timing but they are getting along as best they can. well wishes zoom through the ether and will hopefully provide some comfort. (in addition, they are hopefully easing the strain by taking their pain pills and recommended glasses of wine respectively!)

today i received word that my cousin's wife has been diagnosed with a frontal lobe tumor. it is quite a shock, as she had only gone to the hospital for dizziness. i would ask you to keep them and their two little ones in your prayers as the situation unfolds. i will try and keep you updated as i learn more.

otherwise, i entreat you all to be well, be safe and be with loved ones as we begin what is shaking up to be another challenging year. with tenderness,

jackie chris

Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas cheer

Merry Christmas to you all!

today was truly a red letter day, actually as was yesterday. three days of baking aside, we still had cookies to bake yesterday so we started early, nagging the Grandma and negotiating her down from an arrival time of 4pm to 12:45pm. while waiting for her, we knocked out the sugar cookies (4 c of flour worth). Grandma arrived and it was time for the pecan puffs. there is no explaining it-the puffs are always better when she makes them. we managed to finish the puffs by 3:30pm and had time for a small rest before dressing for church.

after lengthy discussion we had decided to attend the 5 o'clock service at Westminster Presbyterian over the late Eve service or the Christmas Day service. Westminster is a delightful church with a spectacular music program and a progressive minister. [sad that it has to come to this but they have gone so far as to state explicitly in the program that all are welcome, regardless of denomination, race, nationality or sexual orientation.] the service was charming and given the year we have had, we all found ourselves reduced to tears at one point or another.

from church it was off to renew another tradition-Christmas eve dinner at the Chinese place. (more accurately, it is the Chinese Garden I but we have never referred to it as such.) several years have passed since we ate there and many more since we spent Christmas Eve there. they immediately recognized us, scolded us for our long absence and pampered us shamelessly. we dropped Grandma off at her place and returned home to wallow in one middling quality Christmas movie after another.

this morning we woke leisurely. Grandma arrived about 9:30am and we made mimosas, scrambled eggs and biscuits for breakfast. afterward, we started the turkey and opened presents. Santa still brings us stockings (with a lot of help from various family members)! after opening gifts for each other, it was time for our 4th annual Great Cookie Drop.

the Great Cookie Drop is probably my favorite part of the day-a perfect melange of family, thanksgiving, surprise and love. after a weeklong baking frenzy, we take the cookies to those who serve and safeguard our society instead of being with their own families on the holiday. this year, we baked 5 lb of butter worth of cookies: Tollhouse chocolate chip, peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar cookies and pecan puffs. the cookies are bundled into wrapped boxes, weight varying according to anticipated head count. this year we expanded for a total of two fire stations, the enormous central police station, and both arms of TSA screening at the airport.

the first couple years, we were greeted with confusion and surprise, though never suspicion. although we always have to break into the police station, TSA used to be my greatest concern. who knows what they might think we intend? we half expected to get arrested the first year we went to the airport. these days, there is no concern. there is little confusion at our visits and much, much joy. sure, we still have to break into the police station-no one is ever at the front and the back is closed off by automated fences-but they are always glad to see us. once we made our cookie drops, we headed home to finish the turkey and dine quite well.

after supper, it was time for our annual viewing of A Child's Christmas in Wales. the evocative words, the beautiful imagery-just stunning. (don't worry, we did not forget our other favorite. we watched the original 1952 version of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors with Bill and Kelly before they left for Ireland. we hate being away from them, but Joanie McCarthy deserves special Christmas visitors as well.) after the movie, we enjoyed a festive carpool to take Grandma home. once home again, we watched the end of a few Christmas movies and the last of the Vikings/Ravens game. finally, there were hugs and general agreement that THIS was the best Christmas to date before everyone trundled off to bed.

peace to all and to all a good night!

second service

we have been quite busy enjoying the holiday so it has taken a few days to post this but we thought you would all like to know about the following.

in the early (and late!) days after the accident, Mom received an incredible number of teddy bears and other stuffed animals, cards and we all received more support than one would think possible. as she has continued to heal, we had debated what to do with all the bears. they are all very dear to us, Mom especially, and have provided incredible comfort but the time has come to move on. after great discussion, Mom decided that we should take the majority of the bears to a local shelter. to that end, we searched online and eventually discovered Safe Haven.

Safe Haven is an amazing place. it is one of only two shelters in Tennessee that keeps the family together. they work to get people back on track and back in a home of their own. when we arrived, there were no adults in view but we were greeted by three sunny children who guided us to the right place. it turned out that one of the kids belonged to Bruce Newport, the executive director, and frequently came to play with the kids leaving at the shelter. Bruce gave Mom and i a nice tour, completely unphased by our alternate crying and joy. the toys will be given to children living in the shelter and to children of local indigent families. children for whom Santa would otherwise not come.

here we attach a picture of the many bears and their friends under Safe Haven's tree for your enjoyment.

it was a very gratifying experience and a true opportunity to share some of our blessings with those less fortunate. we hope you share our joy in passing on your gifts of love and hope to those truly in need.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

timing is everything

as you may recall from previous posts, there has been some question over the lengthy delay of the NYT in breaking the wiretap story. it now appears that said questioning is escalating to a teatime tempest as critics from all sides review the timeline. just as it did during the first phase of Fitzmas, NPR has an informative take worth reading.


as i am now on Tennessee soil, i fear i had best sign off without further ado. my IQ and rationality are palpably draining from me as i type... in the interim, at dinner tonight i was reminded of the story of Mary's thumb, linked here for your enjoyment.

[sadly, given all the kerfuffle and alleged W on C, i feel i need state that the following applies regardless of your religion, race or sexual orientation...]

in case i haven't another chance before Christmas, love and peace to you and yours from me and mine.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

FSM is not science

sadly, FSM-ers will no longer be able to proselytize, ahem I mean 'educate,' in Pennsylvania as Judge Jones has chosen not to skirt the ID issue in Dover and has issued his ruling. i was going to excerpt only the top bit but the whole passage is such a delightful read that i just cannot help myself (italics and bolding mine):

The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board’s ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded that it is not, and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.

Both Defendants and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

The citizens of the Dover area were poorly served by the members of the Board who voted for the ID Policy. It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.

With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavors. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.

Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist Court. Rather, this case came to us as the result of the activism of an ill-informed faction on a school board, aided by a national public interest law firm eager to find a constitutional test case on ID, who in combination drove the Board to adopt an imprudent and ultimately unconstitutional policy. The breathtaking inanity of the Board’s decision is evident when considered against the factual backdrop which has now been fully revealed through this trial. The students, parents, and teachers of the Dover Area School District deserved better than to be dragged into this legal maelstrom, with its resulting utter waste of monetary and personal resources.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants’ actions.

it is hard to say whose eagerly anticipated legal deicion was more elegantly worded: Judge Jones' or SP Fitzpatrick's.

the Shrub lying... again...

Note the date of the speech given by Bush from which this quote is taken:

"Secondly, there are such things as roving wiretaps. Now, by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so. It's important for our fellow citizens to understand, when you think Patriot Act, constitutional guarantees are in place when it comes to doing what is necessary to protect our homeland, because we value the Constitution."

now compare with the known start date of illegal wiretaps...

snaps to Atrios for catching this one.

btw, excellent logical deduction going on over at PMI on the wiretap issue. proving this hypothesis would be tedious but not difficult. all that would be required is that an FOIA request be filed by any individual for whom the outline criteria fits (e.g., international call on new line). individuals would then report back to a central database the results of their queries...

in a gutsy move under Howard Dean's leadership, the DNP is submitting en masse FOIA requests to get to the bottom of the illegal spying scandal. please sign on!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

peculiar goings

it has been an interesting week. yes, Monday was the Prelims. it was expected to be crazy, but since then the week has remained strange.

it was my last week on clinics for the next 6 months or so. it was also my last week of missed clinics to make-up from the spring. that means, it was pretty much the last thing i had to do to 'catch up' on my responsibilities. almost like the slate is now washed clean (so that i can get it all messy again).

there have also been interesting goings-on in the world of national politics:
after continued struggles to rein in the inappropriately overreaching powers provided to the government by the Patriot Act, the issue was to come to the floor late this past week. while widely anticipated to be quite a battle, no one really expected what did happen. the night before the vote the NYT broke a story they have been sitting on over a year about illegal wiretaps authorized by President Bush. this information was utlized by Russ Feingold to mobilize the Senate to filibuster renewal of the act.

Arlen Specter, a key Senate Republican supporter of the Act, was apoplectic over Bush's actions, promising immediate hearings into this impropriety. unless renewed, the Patriot Act is set to expire at the end of this year. at this time, the act cannot be judged truly dead, but chances for revival are slimmer. you can do your part to help take down Big Brother with little effort and learn about governmental process while finding out what they are finding out about you. REMEMBER: spying is fun, kids!!

the NYT has published an elegant dissection of the underlying issue of Bush's many attempts to seize additional executive power. the WH continues to scramble unsuccessfully to provide justification of Bush's actions while Bush himself continues to dig the hole deeper by asserting he has committed no impropriety and will continue in his behavior regardless of Senate action and in spite of previous concerns by the Administration itself about the legality of the program because 'the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks'.

does the WH not realize that each successive attempt to play the terror card in times of poor opinion has fallen on less and less credulous ears?

in other news, the Administration's bloodthirst has finally bowed to strong public sentiment as well as House and Senate revolt against torture. after trying everything from intimidation to vague assertions that McCain 'ain't right in the head' as a result of his own POW experiences, the president met with McCain and conceded the battle.

one interesting fact to emerge from the battle over torture: apparently the 4th District of Colorado contains an unusually large number of black ops torture-specialist operatives. i can see no other reason why Marilyn Musgrave* would buck public opinion and the Geneva Convention to VOTE FOR TORTURE.

well, that is all i have time for for now. be well and stay plugged in.

*Please feel free to share your beliefs on this move by contacting Musgrave at her Washington, DC office:

'Representative' Musgrave
1507 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4676
(202) 225-5870 fax

overdue visual updates

now that i am mostly caught up on the life i neglected to prepare for Prelims, here is a little update on my visual world...

on ice

an island paradise? well, i guess Coronado is kind of an island...

the Hotel del Coronado
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the Hotel Del is truly spectacular with quiet grace and majesty. somehow, checking in feels like retreating to the cozy and civilized world best found in Agatha Christie novels and Dickens-style Christmases. the room was plush yet not expansive, with louvred blinds overlooking a courtyard. after a long day's travel or brainstorming, no outside treat could compare with a leisurely shower and then quiet reflection on the balcony, burrowed deep in a Hotel Del robe.

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
there was an ice-skating rink set up on the lawn, where tennis courts used to be many many years ago. it overlooked the ocean on one side and was cossetted in all other directions by the understated luxury of the Del. the rink was not large but circling round and again, i found daily concerns slipping from my mind to skip away across the beaches, leaving me free to soak in all the Del had to offer.

me on ice
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
this photo makes me very happy. it really captures, for me, the playful spirit of my free time in San Diego. after a few days here, i was much better prepared to return and face the gauntlet of Prelims.

and on snow

hi Mom!
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
since i got back from Thanksgiving, other than studying the main thing i have carved out time for is shoesnowing...

happy ducklings
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
at Zimmerman Lake with Cameron Pass Nordic Rangers for field training,

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
at Green Ridge Trail with Dennis,

Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
and at Sawmill Creek Trail with Aaron.

now that Prelims are past and i have completed my last week on clinics, i hope to be doing a lot more of this. if i am lucky, i may also learn nordic skiing, do a little downhill and possibly even some winter camping. it turns out i may have an early 90s Explorer at my disposal, so i hope to get up in the mountains quite a bit more.

of course, i will still be slaving, just slaving, away on my PhD research.

and Nancy Wilson has me wondering whether a cocktail party is in order... so,

what are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

she LIVES!

yes, you read me right. i PASSED! after the exam, my committee and i went to the Rio for margs. it is a bit of a tradition. by going there, i got to imagine Nicole and Jim celebrating with me as well.

home i went and crashed. humorously, i woke just after midnight in an enormous panic attack that i forgot to turn in a form for my prelim. heart rate in the 200s. took a bit to get back to sleep. i DO still have to turn a form in tomorrow in order to be done with it, but i had to wait until the Department Head signed it which couldn't happen until 5 today.

now, though heinously tired, i can breathe again. and smile again. and catch up on sleep.

thanks everyone for your well wishes and support. it really meant a lot to me.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Christ at Christmas

this is quite excellent [bolding mine]:

O’BRIEN: I’ve got to ask you a quick question, Bill. What if Jesus got this card? What would he do? Would he be angry about it? He’s be OK with it, wouldn’t he?

DONOHUE: Well, maybe he would, but I’ve never met him.

M. O’BRIEN: Well, you know what I mean. You follow his precepts. WWJD? He wouldn’t be angry about this. He’d say, it’s OK.

DONOHUE: I’m not going to be in the position of criticizing Jesus, but I will criticize the president, because I think that he should have followed the lead of his father. You’re getting me in a very tough situation, Miles.

M. O’BRIEN: Well, I mean, I think that’s a legitimate question. You’re talking. If it’s a Christian holiday and you as a Christian are demanding it, you have to ask what would the person who invented Christianity think about this?

...Donohue didn't answer the question.


remember, Christ was the ultimate hippie, always preaching love over hate. go celebrate the season--overlook dogma and prejudices and love a bunch of someones (though preferably not all carnally)...

Friday, December 09, 2005

set 'em up and knock 'em down

an update:

-Thursday's talk went *fine.* sure, my data doesn't make sense and the stats may still be wrong. such is the way of science. for the talk, i presented the backround, the data, the bizarrely conflicting results and my limited conclusions. off the cuff, i quoted Wernher von Braun: 'Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.' (thanks ab for the that pearl.) no one asked any questions which means it was either well explained and there wasn't much i had left unexplored about the conflicting data OR the talk was so bewildering that people tuned out. one of my committee members gave me real props because, to paraphrase, having it be 'pretty' isn't important-it is about having command of your subject, knowing your data, and understanding when things don't add up. so hopefully the former explanation is correct.

i had added a couple sound files in a giddy moment. it is possible that that threw people off, but my impression from the laughter was that they enjoyed them...

-turned the exam in early (roughly eleven last night) so i would be certain they received it. the email server has been unbelievably unstable at school, down large periods of every day, and the combination of exam parts made for a large file transfer. no error messages yet but also no confirmation that they got it. woke up at 2 am wanting to redo one of the questions. talked myself down and went back to sleep. feel really good about 2 of the answers, fairly good about 1 and not great about the last. i wanted to keep working but was too fried to trust myself so hopefully it will be good enough.

-put together the Prelim introduction presentation last night- 15 minutes of what i have accomplished thus far. now have the main grant presentation to write. hope to work hard all day today (plus/minus a climbing break), take a breather tomorrow to get outside and normalize my stress/sanity levels, and finish up the presentation and studying Sunday. Monday morning i am on service so up and at the hospital by 7am. work all day then the prelim from 3-5pm.

stockpiling things to share about the world at large once i am out from this crush and better able to tap my creative side. one pearl to keep you going:

Undermining his credibility? What has he said that would give him credibility?

-Murtha on President Bush, 12/7/05, in response to Lieberman's claim that challenging Bush undermines his credibility and thus endangers the nation.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

content welcome

i am currently 'closed' while prepping for my Prelims (see blog entry 'half-truth'). prelims are 12/12 with big deadlines on 12/8 and 12/9. despair rains like kittens throughout the halls so random emails/posts with positive content are very, very welcome.

as an aside, i decided to return to my friends at Angry Alien in hopes of cheer and was greeted with their new holiday feature: the 30 second Christmas Story (as re-enacted by bunnies). it perfectly recounts my experience of the movie...

Friday, December 02, 2005

finally something to smile at

after my last post, while in an IM chat with Steinie, i received a letter from Columbia. some of you know exactly what this means. regardless, my exchange with Jen brought a much needed laugh so i enclose it here:

me: door knock
me: guess what

jen: what
me: certified letter from --
jen: oh lord
jen: this would be the perfect time for you to be
me: could be good
jen: living under a fascist regime
jen: so that your letters would be read
jen: before you got them
me: okay. that is truly LOL funny
jen: well good

as Eddie Murphy said to a family friend once, "Thanks for the laugh, lady."


[i have opened the letter but decided not to read it till after the 12th. i haven't the strength for it all.]


i have a problem. it is a little problem in the grand scheme of things but is my current one so... [shrug]

Thanksgiving did not go as well as hoped. in the end, the very end, things got worked out but first there was angst and drama and so on. then i was on to San Diego, which incidentally was wicked fun in its own way.

part of the trouble is that i received the written portion of my Prelim about two days ago, and the deadline for completing it was cut from 14 days to basically 8 days. for my part, the written version of the full grant proposal was due to committee yesterday. by chance, after all the above was already scheduled, i was also scheduled (non-negotiable) to present for the college on my ongoing research the day before the written Prelim portion is due and the ongoing stuff doesn't have anything to do with anything else. i just received the stats back for the ongoing stuff on Thanksgiving so i haven't had any ability to work on the presentation before now.


in the next 6 days, i have to interpret all the stats on a 3 year project and put together a Powerpoint presentation on the results. in the next 7 days, i have to answer 4 questions for my Prelim exam, each of which requires realistically 2 weeks effort. after that deadline, i will have 3 days to put together the slides for the oral portion of my Prelim which i will sit on the 12th. right now, i feel the same trepidation and hopelessness one might experience while skating on an event horizon without a helmet.

so the actual 'problem' is much smaller. see, my boss knew a bit about the impending Thanksgiving challenges. for good reason, he was worried about me but he also is currently in Sweden. i suck at disingenuity but feel like talking about this mess with him won't help. so he has been asking questions that i have been talking around. the first several exchanges were easy as he asked content points as well. i simply only replied to the content, but with a distracted air like i just hadn't time to address non-pressing things. this is a technique i have learned from him so it is not surprising that he finally changed tactics. this is what has followed:

[him] I hope you survived Thanksgiving.
[me] barely but survived.

::couple vague skirting emails::

[me] you wouldn't let this go ahead if you thought i was going to humiliate myself, would you?
[him] I am extremely proud of you and have no doubt you will do your regular oustanding job!

:: long pause in emails while i was in travel. also, didn't really have anything else to say. sent the committee-wide email that the grant was in their boxes for review::

[him] Hope you recovering. Beautiful here but cat is sick as hell.
NB: cat is his wife, not an actual cat on holiday.
[me] dammit. stop slipping her Imuran for cryin' out loud.
[him] I'll try! But are you ok? Life is good!

so the problem is that i have to reply. as you can guess from the above, i am not okay. 80% of me wants to quit and run away to Central America or back to France, but i know that is mostly the depression talking. so i am again pushing through sheerly based on willpower and, frankly, i am doubtful i can pull this out. i have almost written back "well enough" but that still seems a lie. another option is to pretend i didn't get the email since he occasionally gets that report from others.

any suggestions?