Saturday, December 27, 2008

How many cats do you see in this illusion?

HINT: There's more than 7 of them.

A Writer Tries Not to Use, or Buy, Plastic for One Week

Your probably saying "it doesn't sound that hard." But think about what that really means. No plastics period. "No one can do the whole thing in one week," warned Beth Terry, an accountant from Oakland California, who blogs about trying to live the plastic-free life at

Did the writer manage to do it? Read this article in the Chicago Tribune Online edition to find out, and to get educated on just how much plastics play a part in our everyday routine.

The Snow Plough Business is Booming in a Bad Economy

All we seem to hear about these days are businesses going bankrupt or laying off thousands of employees.

But there's one business that is benefiting from the snowy blanket that covers many northern states right now: the snow plough business.

It just goes to show that one person's misery may be another's gold mine!

Snow plough operators everywhere right now are singing, "Let it Snow! Let it Snow!" Click here to read how ice is nice for some people.

Friday, December 26, 2008

There's a lot of strange plants on our planet...

        Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic flowering plants(right). It was discovered in the Indonesian rain forest by an Indonesian guide in 1818. The plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. It spreads its root-like haustoria inside the tissue of a vine. The only part of the plant that can be seen outside the host vine is the five-petaled flower. In some species the flower may be over 100 cm in diameter, and weigh up to 10 kg. The flowers look and smell like rotting meat, hence its local names which translate to "corpse flower" or "meat flower".


(Above)The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescence (group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem) in the world. Due to its fragrance, the titan arum is also known as a carrion flower, the "Corpse flower", or "Corpse plant". Below, are a couple of more exotic plants. Photos thanks to Damn Funny Photos (2006).



As It Stands: It's Time to Stop the Government Gravy Train for Corporations

       By Dave Stancliff
       We’ve bailed out the bankers on Wall Street.
       We’ve bailed out Freddie Mack and Fannie Mae.
       We’ve bailed out the Big Three.
       Now the Commercial Real Estate Properties want money.
       When is someone going to bail out me?
       Like Janis Joplin, all I want is a Mercedes Benz.
       Seriously, when do the handouts end?
       When we have no more money to hand out? No, because that’s what we’re doing now. The government is busy printing funny money and spending it faster than it takes the bills to dry.
       This latest example of shoddy management practices begging for relief, comes from Richard Cowden, managing editor of the Real Estate Law and Industry Report. He told NPR “that it’s been a train wreck for the commercial real estate market,” during a recent interview.
       Cowden was talking about getting loans. Whether you are a plumber looking to buy a $20,000 truck or a real estate company looking to refinance a $20 million office building, the credit crisis has made it harder to get a loan now. The banks are giving out less loans this year and playing the Grinch, even though they got their cash infusion from Congress.
       Experts are talking about $400 billion of commercial mortgages that will mature in 12 months. Why should that bother you and I? Michael Grupe, a vice president with the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, says the pipeline for funneling cash into the system has slowed down. “It’s not like there’s been a mild slowdown here. The pipeline is frozen. No money is coming out,” Grupe told the press.
       So now we have to wonder what that means. What is going to happen when hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of commercial real estate can’t get refinanced when it comes due? “We don’t want to find out, “ Grupe said.
         Maybe “we” ought to find out. I’m sick and tired of big business getting massive loans because they can. What happened to declaring bankruptcy these days? It use to be when you couldn’t pay your bills as a businessman your only recourse was to declare bankruptcy.
         Now, for reasons that I suspect are corruption at it’s finest, the big boys are lining up with sob stories and trying to scare Congress and the American people into giving them a handout.
Grupe and others in the real estate industry have been meeting with officials at the Federal Reserve and asking the government for help.
         I’m sure getting tired of hearing that the only way to save the economy is to print more bad money for bad businessmen, who will go on being bad, regardless of the amount given. CEOs are getting their obscene bonus checks while the pink slips trickle down to the rank and file.
         Economists are starting to admit that our current situation is as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression. We all know that it lingered on for years, and what we’re facing now looks like a repeat in the worst way.
         Whose next? Giant entertainment industries like Disneyland? I can just see Goofy stating Disney’s case in Congress. He’ll probably blend in there nicely.
          We can’t keep bailing out every big business that comes asking for funds. It’s just not possible. Businesses are going to have to tough this out and come up with a future model for doing business. But if they keep getting handouts for doing a shoddy job, where’s the incentive for them to change their ways?
         As It Stands, call it tough love, but I think it’s time to stop the government gravy train. 

Global cyber-crime more profitable than illegal drugs

A sure sign of the new millennium is that cyber-crime has passed illegal drugs in world-wide crime according to experts.

Russian hackers are targeting the U.S. and Europe daily, hiding in cyber-rat holes that even the police have been unable to uncover.

The chief international culprits are the Russians and the Chinese. Both have attacked the U.S. Department of Defense computers recently, as well as both Obama's and Mccain's computers during the presidential election.

Even NASA has been attacked repeatedly. But most of these reportedly young and smart hackers crimes come in the following areas; pilfering online bank accounts, swiping Social Security numbers, stealing credit card data and peeking at email log-ins and passwords, are accounting for an estimated $100 million-a-year global cyber-crime business.

Welcome to 21st Century crime.


Lakers celebrate Christmas and beat Celtics 92-83

If you missed this game, you missed the NBA at its best. It was the first time two teams with as few as a combined seven  losses have played against each other.

It was the East leader and the West leader, and the West was best! The Lakers are out to get revenge for last year's NBA Finals Playoff loss.

This was a good way to make a statement. The Lakers are officially prime time!

                     photo by Wally Skalij/LA Times

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008 to my blogger friends and visitors!

The Stancliff Family wishes you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May all of your wishes come true!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve Movie Alert: Watch 'Christmas Vacation'

Looking for a funny Christmas story in keeping with the season?

Watch the Griswold Family "Christmas Vacation." If you ever saw "Family Vacation" then you know you're in for belly laughs when Clark hosts Christmas for the entire family. One of my favorite performers (aside from Chevy Chase) is Randy Quaid who gives a great white trash impersonation.

Best line in the movie was when Quaid's character pointed at his trashy, run down, motorhome, and proudly said, "Now Clark...that there is what they call an RV!" 

My wife and I, watch it every year with our other favorite holiday classics.

 'Tis the season to be merry!  

Christmas can be funny - on a day that may not be sunny!

Political Christmas Song III:Do You See What I See?

(To the tune of “Do You Hear What I hear?")

Said the American people to Congress
“Do you see what I see
way up on Wall Street, the Banks, and the Big Three?”
“Do you see what I see
CEOs dancing in the night
and hugging bonuses under the moon’s light?
and hugging bonuses under the moon’s light?”

Said the taxpayer to The Mighty Fed
“Do you see what I see
a bunch of bankers getting bonus money
Do you see what I see
financial corporations hurting the economy?
financial corporations hurting the economy ?”

Said the average guy to the Mighty President
“Do you see what I see
a wrong war and the loss of my privacy
Do you see what I see
A time for peace in this country?
A time for peace in this country?”

Fan Alert:Lakers and Celtics to play on Christmas Day!

The highly anticipated first encounter between the Los Angeles Lakers and The Boston Celtics this season, is on Christmas Day.

The Lakers may need a Christmas miracle to beat the streaking Celtics who have won a franchise-best 19 straight games. It's a home game for LA and a great opportunity to "make a statement" before the inevitable

Finals meeting between these two conference leaders. East meets West, in what I hope is a highly entertaining contest that ends up as a victory for the Lakers! GO LAKERS! I'll be watching you tomorrow...

Santa tracked by NORAD as he travels across the world

Who says Santa Claus doesn't exist?

The military personnel charged with being the eyes in the sky are certainly acting like he does — and they've been joined on the Internet by millions of believers.

Even doubters have reason to pause when they hear the North American Aerospace Defense Command — or NORAD, which monitors air and space threats against the U.S. and Canada — is in charge of the annual Christmas mission to keep children informed of Santa's worldwide journey to their homes.

"They challenge it, but only to a point," said Senior Master Sgt. Sharon Ryder-Platts, 49, who for five years has been a Santa tracker, taking calls from those wanting to know the location of jolly old St. Nick.

According to NORAD, Santa began his latest flight early Wednesday at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. NORAD points out that only Santa knows his route.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

McKinleyville Press: Christmas At Nana & Papa's House

                By Dave Stancliff

          It was the day after Thanksgiving, my wife’s birthday, when Christmas started coming to our household.
         Red and green plastic crates were opened and rows of lights (inside and out) slithered down in ungainly clumps - to be separated later - until there was a pile up to my knees.

        As more tops popped off the crates, Christmas tree ornaments came into view, nestled between angels and tinsel too.
        The fresh-cut Noble Pine, in front of the window, was soon flanked by two three-foot high metal Nutcracker Kings who smirked with secret knowledge. The boughs were bare, but the recently discovered ornaments would soon be there.
        Mistletoe was attached to the chandelier, ready to catch someone unaware. Ivy climbed out of the crates and onto the windows, framing them in evergreen. Colorful wreaths wrapped in ribbon centered themselves magically.
        Santa and Mrs. Santa were there too. They stood next to some mischievous elves with big grins. Next to them, sporting holiday hats and mittens, there were penguins.
          The stuffed pugs were giving hugs as they took their place on the wicker stand. The miniature Christmas village, parts of which were 80 years-old, were spread out in a puffy wonder winterland that really looks cold.
          The music box played “Who’s That Doggie in the Window?” when it was wound up. Soon every wall was adorned with scenes of Christmas outdoors and holiday clocks. Hanging from the stairway there was a row of empty socks.
           Papa’s “The Night Before Christmas’” storybook was brought forth and set upon the livingroom table in anticipation of five grandchildren. Christmas carols were in the air as Nana and Papa emptied the crates carefully so they didn’t break the special holiday plates.
            The spirit of Christmas was there all right. We nearly stayed up all night. As we hung the trappings of Christmas, we remembered Christmas’s past. We have celebrated forty-three together so far, and each has been resplendent with treasured memories that will forever last.
           As we strung lights on the tree, visions of our sons growing up made us smile as we recalled their eagerness on many Christmas Eves. All three have grown up and now have children of their own.
           Despite our best efforts we shed a tear now and then remembering how it had been. Three sons who once depended upon us now are on their own. Yet, they haven’t gone too far.
They all live reasonably near, and we get together throughout the year.
            Once, it was just Dave and Shirley. Then we became Mom and Dad. Now, at this juncture of our life, we are Nana and Papa, and couldn’t be more glad!
           Grandchildren are great and they really make our season(s) special. Now, just days before Christmas, Nana and Papa’s house had been completely transformed, inside and out, in preparation of our family - which is what the season’s all about!
           As It Stands, I wish all of my readers Merry Christmas, and to all a good night!

PIck up a copy of this column at newstands near you.

Messengers from Heaven:Do you believe in angels?

I was watching the Today Show this morning and they had a story about a Guardian Angel saving a teenage girl’s life.
   Doctors’ took her off a life-support system thinking she was a goner. But, hospital security cameras distinctly showed a glowing light in the shape of an angel (with wings) near the girl’s bed hours later.
   She miraculously survived the loss of her support system and rapidly got better, to the surprise and amazement of the hospital staff, doctors, and her mother.
Family members had given up on her just hours before, kissing the unconscious girl who they thought was slipping away forever. The mother, and staff members, saw the angel and the mother pulled out her cell phone and took a photo.
It showed the same thing that the security cameras showed, a glowing light in the shape of an angel.
  Are there really angels? I believe that there are. Mine is a beloved grandmother who has warned me of danger many times. I’ve never seen a glowing light or anything like that. But, her voice clearly speaks to my head and heart. I’ve never ignored the warnings.
The last time I got a warning from her was back in 1990. I lived in 29 Palms and had to commute to the Palm Springs area every day to my job as the managing editor of a group of weekly newspapers.
  The drive involved going up a mountain pass (one-lane on either side). One evening, on my way home, and going up that pass I suddenly had a funny feeling like something was going to happen. My grandmother’s voice calmly warned me to pull off the road immediately. I hesitated for a moment then slowed down and looked for a spot to pull over.
 Just as I hit the break my front driver’s side tire blew! I was going slow enough and was able to maintain control to guide the car to a safe spot. When I got out, shaking like a leaf in a storm, I looked at how close my car had come to the edge of the mountain. I had, maybe, two feet before the ground gave way.
  If I had been traveling at the speed I was going (before slowing down) and that tire blew, there was a good chance I’d have taken a plunge off that mountain. I stood there for minutes taking deep breaths and thanking my grandmother, before I went about repairing the tire.
There were other times, like when I was in Vietnam, when I felt her presence in perilous situations. I’ve often asked myself, why me? Why does grandma warn me of danger and not my brother or sisters? That’s a question that will never be answered.
AS IT STANDS I just know that I loved her deeply when she was alive, and somehow she still watches over me!

It sure is fun making fun of 'Mr. Sell Senate Seat' Blagojevich

    MR. FISH

Thanks to

Unions sue Herr Schwarzenegger over mandatory days off

        With the state on track to run out of money in February, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week ordered furloughs for state workers. Unions representing those workers say only the Legislature can make such an order.

Two public employee unions on Monday sued Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to block his effort to furlough state workers in a cost-cutting measure as California's treasury runs out of money.
Last week, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order to require that all state employees take two unpaid days off each month starting in February. The governor said the measure is needed to conserve cash, with the state budget gap estimated to reach $42 billion a year and a half from now.

The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, asserts that only the Legislature can alter the pay of workers who have labor contracts with the state. It asks the courts to issue a temporary stay to stop Schwarzenegger's efforts, which could affect 230,000 workers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Political Christmas Song II: Letting Dubya and Cheney go

(To the tune of “Let it Snow”)

Oh!the economy has been really slow,
and doesn’t seem to have a place to go.

Why we don’t really know,
we just... Let Cheney go! Let him go! Let him go!

It doesn’t show signs of getter well
as any economist will tell
Why we don’t really know,
but we Let Dubya go! Let him go! Let him go!

When we finally get rid of Dubya and his regime where nothing was as it seemed,
Americans are all going to know,
the times is over for Letting them go! Letting them go! Letting them go!

Political Christmas Song:I saw Blago selling the senate seat


to the tune of “I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus”)

Oh! I saw Blago selling the senate seat last night,
he was calling out the price had to be right,
it sure was a yuletide season sight!

I saw him tickle little babies bums
while soliciting for amazing sums,
and tossing the taxpayers crusty crumbs.

Oh! I saw Blago selling the senate seat last night,
he was calling out the price had to be right,
it sure was a yuletide sight!

Oh! Blago, Oh Blago...
Just how far will you go?

 I saw Blago on the TV yesterday
he was doing everything he could to get away,
from what the FBI had to say.

Santa is going to need a snow plow in northeastern states

Winter has come, and with it, snow-covered roads are causing problems in places like Michigan and Chicago. Reports of 30 car, 20 car, and more, piles-ups are coming in hourly. All I can say is I'm glad that I live on the West Coast, near the ocean, where snow seldom seeks to go!

Guess who gets the meat between this eagle and fox?




Welcome to this blog's latest subscriber: RACHEL C. KELLY!

Rachel has two blogs of her own;


and "Reconciled Tree Pieces."

The other two subscribers to this blog are: TOM HOLLOWAY whose blog is called, "Tom Holloway's The Grand Life."

No pic available for Tom.

ANEMONE - whose real name I don't know - doesn't have a blog. No pic available here either.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU for following my blog!

$350 Billion Later: Where did the bailout money go?

The nation's largest banks won't say how their spending the money they got from the government. The Associated Press contacted 21 banks that got at least $1 billion, and not one of them would give a straight answer! Some vaguely hinted that they lent some of the money, but no actual numbers. Some of the banks even said they simply don't know where the money went!

The banker's responses highlight the secrecy surrounding the "Troubled Asset Relief Program" which earmarked $700 billion - about the size of the Netherlands economy - to help the struggling institutions. So once again, the nation's bankers get to thumb their noses at the taxpayers and get away with it! When will we ever learn?




                                                      Artwork from "The Hooded Utilitarian (2007)"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

TODAY in AS IT STANDS Times-Standard edition/Christmas

Times are hard, but people will still enjoy this Christmas. Some old fashion values, like making gifts, are in this year.

I think people are looking back to celebrating Christmas in more traditional ways, partly due to the economy.

Sure, things are tough. But so are Americans. We've shown that in the past. Click here to read today's column; "Fewer gifts this season but Christmas will still be special."

COMING TUESDAY: the long version of "Christmas at NANA & PAPA's." (Note: I had a short blog on this post a week ago) It will be featured in "The McKinleyville Press on Tuesday," and I'm posting the entire column online that day for those of you who aren't able to pick up a copy.

I hope you enjoy both of these columns on Christmas as much as I did writing them. 


Schwarzenegger Goes Conan: slashes state workers pay and forces layoffs

Looks like the Govenator is playing the Grinch...

Los Angeles Times

By Patrick McGreevy and Jordan Rau
December 20, 2008

Reporting from Sacramento -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered mass layoffs and unpaid furloughs for state workers starting in February to address California's growing fiscal crisis.
Under his executive order, 238,000 employees will be forced to take off two unpaid days per month through June 30, 2010. Managers will receive either the furlough or an equivalent salary reduction during the same period.

    H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Schwarzenegger's finance department, said the mandatory time off is the equivalent of about a 9% pay cut for affected workers. He said the furloughs would save the state more than $1.2 billion.
    It is unclear how many people will lose their jobs. Palmer said each department will have to cut its payroll by 10% and will make its own decisions on how many workers must go.

    See entire story by clicking here

    Photo source: Registered at

    Poinsettias are not toxic and the debunking of other myths

    Researchers debunk conventional wisdom about poinsettias, sugar and holiday suicides -- and note that Coca-Cola can only do so much.

    Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic to people or animals, suicides do not increase over the Christmas holidays, and sugar does not make kids hyperactive.

    Also, Wales winning the rugby grand slam does not influence the death of popes, and douching with Coca-Cola is not an effective contraceptive method.

    The supposed toxicity of poinsettias has been a subject of warnings ever since the red and white flowers have been associated with the Christmas holiday, but numerous reports from poison control centers do not support the warnings, according to Drs. Rachel C. Vreeman and Aaron E. Carroll of the Indiana University School of Medicine.

    Los Angeles Times/Dec. 21                                                                                                   Gina Ferazzi/LA TIMES Photo

    Political Correctness leaves Santa Claus Polarized!

    GOP Governors Unite in Fight to Stop Unions in their States

    Six Republican Governors have gathered to warn their residents against the evils of unionization which they claim would threaten their jobs...