November 2, 2016
The Billy Goat Curse is Broken
Cubs Take the World Series
MLB Rule change may make spitting optional for players and staff starting Spring 2017
You must see this show if you possibly can. The old girl can still sing. At the LA show Barbra surrounded herself with other top talent like Baby Face, Jaime Fox and Seth MacFarlane. In the Vegas show she sang alone and did a second encore. Tugging at Donald Trump and plugging her soon to be released album, "Encore", Barbra filled the stage with amazing song, hope and humor - nostalgia with contemporary twists and her love for her fans. Warm and genuine - Barbra remains at the top of our list.
Epiphyllum Night Queen - September 7, 2016.
'Night Queen', the flower, not the mother, is a night blooming Epi that starts to bloom at twilight and fully opens within 2-3 hours. When fully opened the ivory soap like fragrance fills the air. Sadly, the blooms fade before sun up. Early birds may have to stay up past their bedtimes to see these beautiful blooms.
Our May 2016 trip to Mexico with our friends Cris and Dean included Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Isla Cozumel, Chichen Itza, Coba and a big sink hole for swimming and lunch with real Mayan men. All the details.
We did it - another year of Bowling for Equality supporting HRC.
The 8th Annual HRC Bowling for Equality event, February 27, 2016 at the world famous Kearney Mesa Bowl. We highlighted the second wave from 3-5 PM under the "Guys Like Us" banner.
Our lovely niece Carol Manisouk created this terrific video from our Alaskan Cruise and visit to Seattle. We cruised on Holland America's M.S. Amsterdam from Seattle, through the inner passage to Juneau then Sitka, Ketchikan and finally Victoria Canada before returning to Seattle. A wonderful trip, beautiful scenery and great company with Andrew, his Mom and Dad and nieces Carol and Chloe.Photo gallery and video links.
Sherry and Dylan visited San Diego August 3-11 for a busy tourist extravaganza. Highlights included the World Famous San Diego Zoo and Zoo Safari Park - Balboa Park celebrating its centennial this summer - The military themed embarcadero with its Maritime Museum, the USS Midway and Seaport Village, Mission Beach, La Jolla Coves and of course, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Baily Circus. A drive up the coast and to beautiful downtown Hollywood. There was even a brief ride down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Check out the pictures from the Madame Tussaud's Hollywood Wax Museum where we got to meet some of our favorite stars.
And then a lovely dinner at the Manisouk home where Andrew's family put on a terrific spread of fabulous food and company.
Dylan, don't forget your
porcupine egg eating skills.
What a Lovely Graduation Party
Can't wait to see all the pictures and hear all the gossip -
This video shows the Luang Prabang style parade that highlights each New Year celebration at the Wat Lao Buddharam (temple).
The temple monks lead the parade followed by temple leaders and community members and the New Year float which seats the 7 Princesses
of King Kabinlaphom. Among seven wild animals, representing the seven days of the week, one is chosen each year and seats the
eldest Princess. Andrew's family designed and built this lovely float. This year the wild boar adorns the float and rivals any
Arkansas Razorback with its 24k gold jewelery and silken saddle. Watch and you will see Andrew's mom and sister Bea.
Lao New Year Traditions
Not sure which one of them is the jinx, but everytime Andrew and Terry go to a Padres game the Padres lose. Perhaps there is some gambling opportunity here. Everyone loves a sure bet and at Petco Park, a $12 beer.
Welcome to the world Anne Nahka - Daughter of Kate and Peter Nahka, Andrew's Sister and Brother-In-Law.
Aryn mugs for the camera only hours after Anne was born.
Mother and baby are fine. Grandma adds another name to remember and another soul to love.
Andrew 'Touy' has another darling to shop for and spoil.
Anne and her aunty Tam now share the same birthday... January 15.
Andrew is busy getting our home ready for the holidays with tree trimming and flower arranging. Click the Toyland parade and see Andrew and his festive Lao Community in the parade.
Gotta love vacations even when you spend three hours waiting for the Pope and he never shows. So we survived two weeks in Europe
and returned home all the richer for having stood face to face with amazing art, history and colorful people.
Our photo albums are loaded -
Our Itinerary and Photo slide Shows
Colosseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and 40+ piazzas, pizzas and glasses of local wine.
Vatican Museum - St. Peters Square and Basilica - and Sistine Chapel - OMG. The art is breathtaking.
Savona, Italy to Monte Carlo
Bus ride into France and on to Monaco and Monte Carlo. Oh how nice to be rich.
Christopher Columbus got lost there too. Tapas and local wine, divine. Very roman architecture.
Beautiful beaches. Much more Spanish than Roman in language and local architecture with French and Portuguese influences.
Islam is apparent everywhere. In place of myriad churches stand mosques of equal grandeur. The local cuisine, Tajines, marvelous.
Camels, French and British influence, excellent coffee and picturesque hills overlooking the Mediterranean. Less Islamic than Casablanca. From the top of the hill you can see Africa and across the straight of Gibraltar, Spain.
Sprawling coastline, Bay Bridge by the same designers of the Golden Gate bridge, magnificent stonework and architecture, new and old. Seafood, Sausage and Portuguese Beer, oh my.
The Torres family has a long history there and the city is beautiful. Old sea facing fortresses and modern architecture using rich stone and brick. Like every city we visited, except Monte Carlo, you can't swing a cat without hitting a church or mosque.
Our honeymoon is now just a memory. Andrew and I completed our 4 country tour of Southeast Asia in style.
It started with a quick trip to Bangkok - and by a quick trip I mean 19 hours via Taipei and then on to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
If touring the remains of the ancient Khmer civilization isn't on your bucket list, it should be. Angkor Wat and the other
fabulous Hindu and Buddhist temples, palaces and shrines are Cambodia's largest tourist draw and amazing examples or 9th -
12th century art and architecture. The history of the rise and fall of the Khmer civilization is as awe inspiring as the
remains of the cities.
You can google the details that interest you and enjoy our photo albums. Cambodia pictures are loaded, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar coming soon.
Reuters - AP - CNN
It took a lot of years of pulling fence posts out of the butts of enough Americans to move the cause for marriage equality forward and finally in San Diego, California, on a beautiful Columbus Day morning, Andrew said I do and I did too. We chose October 14th for our marriage because it is also our 12th anniversary. Our commitment to each other was made many years ago and the civil ceremony we just had ensures our continuity within the legal system and comes with nifty jewelry.
The civil ceremony went something like this:
We do want to thank the tireless efforts of the HCN, the ACLU and countless other teams of people for fighting, not just for marriage equality, but for equality for all Americans. Like the chronic stalemate in Washington politics, our selfishness needs better control. As Andrew and I are fond of saying... "Why should you care if your neighbor wants to marry a hippopotamus as long as he doesn't try to make you do it and he respects your right to marry whom you choose. If more people would spend more time taking good care of themselves instead of worrying about what their neighbors are up to we would all be better off." No wedding gifts please. Andrew is gift enough.
Andrew's sister Kate with husband Peter and cake expert son Aryn (pictured here) are discovering that things in France are quite different than they are in America. Take cake eating, for example, in France it's an art for the nose, lips and chin much more so than fork or spoon. And who better than a 2 year old to adapt so quickly to the French way.
Serviette not required!
June 6, 2013
All of Agua Clara (Clearwater) Florida is on their feet tonight celebrating the achievements of the Clearwater High School, Class of 2013. Among the honorees is our Grand Nephew Tyler Shane Cook, graduated Magna Cum Laude which is Latin for "never having punched out his homeroom teacher." Diploma in hand, Tyler now has the credential to get any job that involves a paper hat. And with the honors distinction he should be afforded the option, day one, of working the front line or the drive thru window.
As a handsome young tornado, Tyler will face many challenges. Should he go to college or just stay home until he wins the lottery? Should he join the Navy and experience a girl in every port or jump a tramp steamer and tour the world? Should he work at Chick-Fil-A where the senior executives are right wing homophobes or at Jack in the Box where "E coli is not on the menu." He has long legs, perhaps the ballet or the Heat.
Whatever he chooses, we know Tyler won't settle for anything less than his own dreams. Andrew and I will watch Tyler's career unfold with great anticipation. After all, he shares the family blood line. And yes, we willl take fries with that!
Corey is in Army Boot Camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina where their motto is "Victory Starts Here" and rope climbing replaces cable TV. In boot camp - you start by learning basic skills like crawling backwards, up hill and under barbed wire. Something you will want to be very good at if you plan to escape from prison or slip past a really tough boss. How nice of the Army to supply a photographer so all the boots can show their proud families their new tricks.
In the pic to the left Corey shows great composure as he attempts to negotiate this horizontal rope suspended 10 feet in the air. The look on his face is confident and notice how his left leg dangles to provide just the right balance. This is another important skill to learn just in case you can't get that last pair of pants off the clothes line.
No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Attributed to General George Patton Jr.
Another sweet bundle of joy joins the extended family thanks to a well timed stork and scheduled OBGYN. Modern health care is so amazing. It won't be too many more years until there are drive though delivery units... beep twice for a boy and three times for a girl. And on your way home stop next door for a latté and smart water. Hydration will still be all the rage.
We wish Joseph, Joey, JoJo, and all the other things people will call him in his life a smooth journey. In his father's own words, life is what you make of it. We know his loving family will give him every opportunity to blossom into the very best man he can be. Andrew and I will be around to watch as his little life unfolds.
The world seems like a harsh and dangerous place these days but it isn't any more so than it was back in the 1950's when I was just a sprout. The only difference is that we didn't have instant global news communication so we didn't know what was happening over there. We grew up enjoying the good things around us... the love of family and friends and of course the hardship of walking ten miles through the snow to school each day. Oh wait... that was Lincoln wasn't it.
So Happy Birthday Joseph Michael Trezek - Welcome to the family. We look forward to meeting you in person and telling you funny secrets about your dad.
So the Mother turned 85 on February 28 and we gathered in Florida to celebrate. Sherry and Janet hosted the party at their Indian Rocks Beach condo where we got to meet some of Mom's friends and validate the rumor that Janet can indeed cook with a wine glass in one hand and a spoon in the other. But don't bother asking her if she would like some help. Janet is a one woman chef. When she is done, the kitchen is all yours.
Andrew and I also managed a few days in Orlando where we played tourist and did the whole Universal Studios adventure. We are both big fans of the Harry Potter fantasy and getting to tour Hogwarts was a lot of fun. This is a must for JK Rowling fans where the attention to detail is quite amazing and their Disneyesque use of scaled proportion outstanding. The butter beer is way too sweet and delicious for my taste and pumpkin juice... well, best leave that to the goblins.
Mom had a great time visiting with family and friends as did we all. May we all look so great and have so much zest for life when we are 85. And even though the weateher was cold and rainy at times we still we had a very good time.
Check out our photo slide show.
The newest member of our family is born on November 30, 2012. Proud parents David and Jamie have waited a lifetime for their miracle baby and the state of Arkansas is once again enriched beyond measure.
Sister Sherry is now, finally a grandmother but I don't recommend calling her 'granny' just yet.
Andrew and I can't wait to meet Callie in person.
Check out the family photos on Jamie Cook's facebook page.
Check out the video of Janet Ann on WGN news from Monday, August 27 - Always with a big smile, Janet managed to maintain that charming, personable image even amongst the blubber and BO of all the right wing homophobes checking into the Clearwater, Sand Key Sheraton Resort for the RNC. Delegates from Illinois had to be sequestered from the Missouri delegates for fear that consequences of legitimate rape might be contagious.
Sadly, Todd Akin won't be there. He is consumed with finding a glass of water large enough to wash down his foot.
Watch the video closely for janet is only on screen for 1.7 seconds.
What is there to do on one of those rare San Diego afternoons when the mercury pops above 90 and the gentle ocean breezes wax and wane? Schlep it out to the garden, sit in the shade of the palapa and find out what your daughter is up to in Florida.
The near record heat in San Diego this week was brought to us from Las Vegas by our dear nephew Jeff who blew into town to watch his beloved Cubs get stomped on by the ever so mediocre Padres. Thanks to the Cubs giving up 3 games in our home venue the Padres keep firm grip on 4th place in the National League West. Colorado is one place behind us but only because they are suffering from smoke inhalation these days.
Ok so we decided to spend a stash of cash to fly to Chicago for a short weekend and a visit with family and friends. There is no shortage of cold beer in the windy city so staying hydrated when it is 102 outside is no problem. Beer and a hat and some good walking shoes are perfect companions for a hot summer promenade along the shores of Lake Michigan. We stayed at the W Hotel on N Lakeshore Drive. We give it three stars and while it is a bit pricey for what they offer, the location is ideal and the view from the upper decks is sublime. The hotel is walking distance to the subway and the magnificent mile and in our case to Potillo's on North Clark street. Our friends Jeff and El joined us for the weekend where we partied in boys town and got to see some old friends. The weekend highlight was getting to meet our grandniece Johnna Trezek. What a darling and as you can see from our photo album, Cathi and Steven are very proud and doting parents. Other weekend highlights included a thorough inspection of Navy Pier, a boat ride on the lake to the Field Museum, an architectural cruise down the Chicago river, Chicago hot dogs, Portillo's Italian beef and those horrible White Castle sliders. We missed Giordano's again but I understand you can have their world famous deep dish pizza shipped right to your San Diego kitchen. Maybe we will try that to hold us over until our next trip which will not be in July. PHOTO ALBUM
Well of course to make duck tacos you must first begin with fresh ducks- Andrew chased these bad girls down and although he wasn't specific as to their source I suspect he did not clean and pluck them himself... hey, that's what sisters are for.
Click on one of the ducks and follow our unique Saturday adventure as we transform these silent quackers into fabulous rotisserie roasted, crackling skin tacos... Lao style with a Bohemian flare.
No dumplings in this meal just fresh grilled vegetables, corn tortillas and a fresh roasted chipotle mango salsa.
Andrew and Terry give the new Three Stooges movie two pokes in the eye and a pie in your face - and just as it was advertised - the film was pure slapstick and very funny. I have never seen Andrew laugh so much at one time - Sean Hayes is a terrific Larry and the story is totally new - not autobiographical at all and well done. Larry David plays a catholic nun who is sure to give anyone who went to catholic school nightmares for a week.
Many say you can't blame the Obama administration's foreign policy for the escalating gas prices and many say you can't fairly blame Hillary Clinton's vacillating rhetoric on Middle Eastern affairs either... but clearly we have to blame somebody.
Perhaps its a global reaction to Newt Gingrich's planned space colony on the moon or Rick Santorum's passion that rape victims carry the spawn of their attackers to term ...maybe... Mitt Romney's mormons, who are busy baptizing dead jews, are enflaming the arabs and they are to blame. Whatever it is I certainly won't like paying $5 for gas this summer. I considered walking to work but every time there is a surge in gasoline prices so surges the cost of shoes. Friends say "where's the savings in that"? ... but I'd rather buy shoes than gas any day.
It seems that folks expect you to derive insightful wisdom each time your clock turns another decade. As I start my seventh I can't help but remember its predecessors … not all of them but at least the last several and especially the last one with Andrew. Our relationship thrives not because of love, a concept that has become cliché and diluted as it is used to describe everything from stretch socks to vinyl siding, but rather because of tolerance and mutual respect. While these may be forms of love they broadly transcend the definition. There is one word that could never be used to describe us… and that is selfish. Andrew and I work hard every day to make sure that we move forward together and leave no one behind. If America could join us there would be equality for everyone and we could spread that message around the world by our excellent example… instead of using guns and intimidation.
As I begin my next lustrum I am grateful for wonderful friends and family who love me and Andrew and make us feel they always have our backs. And I am certainly glad that Andrew has agreed to hang with me for another round… it’s been a good ride so far… way better than Disneyland. Hopefully come November, America won’t elect another homophobe and Andrew and I may actually marry and enjoy the legal security that marriage can provide to all that we have achieved together. See you at the JOP.
October 4, 2011 - The Newest Family Member
Introducing Johnna Stephanie Trezek -- October 4, 2011 at 9:18pm Chicago time - - 6lb 5oz - 19.5 inches
Mother and father are doing well, although they could both use a nap. Look at the mouth on that gorgeous baby - an opera singer or politician for sure. We rejoyce for this newest edition to the family and Andrew and Terry can't wait until we can see her and her proud parents face to face.
OK, grandma Janet, take a deep breath and try not to get too hysterical. You will need your energy for the weeks ahead.
Chloe at 5 -Party on Coronado
Her high princessness, Chloe Manisouk, celebrated her 5th birthday with a grand party at Glorietta Bay on Coronado. As with every Lao family gathering, there was an abundace of wonderful food and fun activites.
An Arkansas Wedding - September 17, 2011
With friends and family gathered on both sides of the aisle the clouds parted, the thunder silenced and beaming in the sunshine stood Mr and Mrs David Cook Jr moments after saying "I do." Our photo album is testament to the huge effort required to pull off a wedding as lovely as this one was particularly when challenged by mother nature's unpredictability. Andrew and Terry shared a great long weekend with family and new friends and got to experience another side of America. Okay so Andrew was a bit disappointed that we couldn't find possum stew on any of the local menus but we had a great time in Bentonville, or as the Missouri State Trooper called it when he whacked us for speeding on our way back from Branson... "Walmartville".
David's Happy Dance
Check out this YouTube post as David shows us how exciting it is to be married for an entire hour and takes his 'happy dance' to a new level.
Jamie and the girls Rap On
The girls give good rap - it would appear that they have done this number a few times before - perhaps at a Razorback half time show.
We celebrated Andrew's 35th birthday at the Fast Lane Entertainment Center in Rogers, Arkansas where he out bowled all of us (almost)... then the kids took to the go carts and, well....
And only in Arkansas...
Soukhouane - a Lao tradition
A Lao ritual not bound by the calendar but by the events of life that are celebrated, Soukhouane affirms the connection between spirit and body. The tying of white cotton threads around the wrist is one part of the ancient ritual and is a way of bestowing blessings and helping to bind the spirit and the body. Aryn Naga was celebrated this day, 100 days old and cherished by his family, friends and the entire community. The pictures in the photo album show some of the ceremony and the party held to honor the newest member of the family... and he's a keeper.
July 15-18 2011 San Diego Celebrates Gay Pride and Civil Diversity
The annual Pride celebration in San Diego is so much more than just one big gay party - the community of San Diego comes out to celebrate the progress we've made as we continue our reach for equality for everyone. Government, and those who would control it, cannot deny the clamoring of the American spirit to live in a free society where the people make the choices and the government manages those choices. Pride is a weekend where we focus our voices to make sure our message is crystal clear and understood by all, a weekend where we reaffirm our committment to equality, not just for marriage but across all social venues. Supported by national organizations like the HRC and the ACLU, San Diego will again demonstrate our equality agenda and we will do it every year until it's no longer necessary. It's all that and one great big gay party... but isn't that what celebrations are supposed to be?
White Water Rafting in Canon City, Colorado and pictures are ready. It was a great day with great friends and we all lived to tell the tale. Trust me, the tales are growing by leaps and bounds.
Pride in Denver is celebrated in much the same way as it is in San Diego but with a few distinct differences. Denver gets a lot more community involvement in large part because they don't restrict the festival to paying customers. There are no fences or fees to get in which draws more people and better supports the vendors that provide libation, food and a host of community services. Denver's Governor is active in ensuring that equality in Colorado affects all people and at his address to the festival crowds he praised and stressed the importance of GLBT community activism and the Denver efforts to embrace the entire community. Colorado seems certain that marriage equality will pass in 2012.
June 11, 2011 - How butch can you be - traipsing through the muck and mire to demonstrate one's physical prowess. That may well be the hidden theme of the annual Camp Pendleton Mud Run. As you'll see from the pictures pretty much anyone can run and finish this event. Of course if everyone runs there would be no one to snap all these priceless photos, digital support for your bragging rights. Andrew was a brave trooper crossing the finish line with a smile, unlike many who looked like they were imitating the last contractions before child birth. All of our friends finished in good time and with duct tape intact... and after a brief rest and shower with the Marines it was time for a cold beer and a petite plate of ribs, corn bread and teriyaki chicken.
Aunt Lorraine Schoen celebrated her 90th birthday on June 22, 2011 at her home in Phoenix.
Hiding in rehab is a smart decision for Rep Weiner right now. Can't wait to find out the ICD-9 code for his "condition" which pundits have described in an amusing array from hypertestosteronism, which usually is responsible for hairy women, to "mortalitis." For politicians, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get your weiner whacked as long as you follow the Clinton rules for sex which includes not really having sex with someone other than your wife and lying about it vociferously until you are caught red handed, or in Weiner's case, your tweets are exposed.
June 16 - 10 days in Weinerville - the man of the hour stands by to hit the streets - what will his egomaniacal behavior cost taxpayers? It would be much cheaper to simply weld his zipper shut and let him finish out his term. After all, he's great fodder for the late night comedians.
Aren't There Enough Weiners in Washington?
June 6 - Anthony Weiner (D-NY), another shining example of our leadership's finest, tearfully admitted having had a number of online sex relationships with women over the Internet, saying he was deeply ashamed of his actions but like Jimmy Swaggert, Bill Clinton and the Governator, Arnold, he should be embraced, forgiven and allowed to move forward as if nothing has happened. OK so he thinks his internet foreplay was with adults, after all, everyone tells their true age on the internet these days and Weiner is a trusting man.... he did trust that nobody would find out he was a liar and a power freak. Somehow I don't think he will last too long in spite of how big a weiner he is and you can bet pictures validating that will be coming out soon... the Republicans must have their nipples in an uproar over this... but then again, sex scandals like this are becoming cliche in Washington politics. It would be a rare day when someone we elected to manage the awesome job of government wasn't dipping his wick or mounting one in some surreptitious power play.
It gets even better when you realize Bill Clinton officiated at the Weiner wedding - Clinton must have tutored Weiner in the art of getting your weiner wanked without the whole world finding out - and since Anthony Weiner married Hillary Clinton's aide - Huma - Hillary undoubtedly taught Huma how to look the other way and make like it doesn't matter which dutiful muslim wives do.
As gas prices cruise toward $5 and somewhat red tomatoes, hold the pesticides, are going for $6/pound our beloved government tells us that, while the economy is slowly recovering, inflation is well under control. I guess I didn't spend enough years in college because I don't know what that means. What I do know is that as gas prices rise and the oil companies continue to report multi-billion dollar profits, reality would be better served if the rocket scientists we elect to govern us just impaled us on sticks and paraded us around as suckers. Was it really that long ago when we sold tomatoes on the side of the road for 10₵ a pound and the gallons flew by faster than the dollars at the gas pump? A summary of sentiments was never uttered better than Mel Brooks did when he portrayed Louis the XVI in ‘History of the World Part 1,’ … “fuck the poor.” But isn’t it ostensibly cynical to take comfort from that humor when we know our government leaders only want what’s best for us and legislate for all Americans equally. Think about that the next you go to the polls and decide to send an incumbent back to do it to us... one more time.
This Year's Miss Lao New Year Contestants Our Photo Album is Off and Running Take a lesson America - the South East Asian Buddhists' celebration of the New Year goes on for 3 full days and celebrates so much more than a calendar event. While we have largely reduced New Years to a night of drunken frivolity followed by a day off for parades and football, the Lao New Year is a celebration of life and family. It celebrates the passing of one year, the beginning of another and through centuries old ritual, the young pay respect to the old, the old bestow blessings upon the young and communities come together to honor Buddha and to pray for peace and prosperity. Pii May Lao or Lao New Year The Lao people celebrate their New Year, Pii May (pronounced Pii-My) or Kut Songkaan according to the ancient Hindu calendar, which falls around April 13, 14, or 15 in the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is considered to be the most important and biggest traditional festival in the country. The festival coincides with the end of the dry season and the start of the monsoon season. It is seen as a day of rebirth and purification. According to a Lao legend, the Pii May celebration started after Thao Kabinlaphrom lost his life in a bet to a man named Thammaban Khuman. Thao Kabinlaphrom was not able to solve a three-part riddle. Per his request, his seven daughters (representing each day of the week) took great care not to let his severed head touch the ground or there would be great destruction throughout the world. The head was kept at Mt. Sumeru until Pii May of each year when each daughter would take turns cleansing it. Today, this story is reenacted during the Lao New Year celebration. The community chooses one female to represent Nang Sangkhan one of the seven sisters, to lead a procession or parade while showcasing a replica of Thao Kabinlaphrom on a ceremonial tray called Khan. Pii May Lao is a three‐day event. The first day is called Sangkhan Luang ( ສງັ ຂານລວ່ ງ ) or the last day of the old year. This is the day when people clean their houses in preparation for the New Year. On this day, people earn merit and blessings by building mounds of sand, usually on the river banks and temple grounds, which are then decorated with small triangular flags, flowers, money and candles. This day falls on Thursday, April 14th in 2011. The second day is called Sangkhan Nao ( ສງັ ຂານເນົາ ), which is the day between the old and the New Year (This day is considered neither to be part of the old year or the New Year). Sangkhan Nao is also known as the day of rest, which means all work is forbidden. Only fun actvites should take place such as visitng relatives and friends, taking a day trip or the customary throwing of water on friends and passersby. At night time, there is usually a Lamvong ( ລາໍ ວງົ ) or circle dancing party and everyone dresses their best to partake in the celebration. Plenty of food and drinks are available well into the night. This year, Sangkhan Nao is only one day long and falls on Friday, April 15th. The third day of the Lao New Year is called Sangkhan Kheun Pii May ( ສງັ ຂານຂນຶ້ ປີໃໝ ່ ). It is the start of the New Year and is the most joyous day of the festival. People go to the temple and make offerings to gain merit. Young people prepare scented water with flowers and visit their grandparents, parents, and elders. They rinse the elders’ hands with the water and ask for their blessings and forgiveness for any wrong‐doings in the past year. At home they engage in a special family ceremony called the Suukhwan ( ສຂູ່ ວນັ ) or Baci (ບາສ ີ ) to welcome the New Year in which partcipants then take turns tying the blessed white strings around each other’s wrists to wish them good luck and prosperity for the New Year. For 2011, the Lao New Year day falls on Saturday, April 16.
Is it a world run amok or just another week in America the indulgent? Once again the news wires served up a salvo of intellectual oddities. Among my favorites was Lisa Murkowski the write in candidate that won the Senate seat in Alaska the Fickle. And then there's David Weaving, the guy who was convicted of second degree murder for hitting and killing a young bicyclist and while in prison, spending my tax dollars, filed a law suit against his victims family claiming it was their fault the boy died because they failed to make him wear a helmet. It is the land of liberty but sometimes its hard to know for whom the liberty bell tolls. On that you'll get an amen from the millions of fans of the hit ABC show, “Dancing with the Stars and Political Progeny” where Bristol Palin beat out the infinitely more talented 'Brandy' Norwood for a spot in the finals. And because our freedom of speech includes lies and cover ups until proven guilty, we may never know how much political muscle was behind Bristol landing herself a shot at the mirror ball trophy. But regardless of the outcome of the competition we will always have Bristol Palin to remind us that good things can happen to teenage girls who get knocked-up in the name of Christ. On the brighter side of DWTS, we will get to see Mark Ballas dance one more time. Now that's entertainment.
In Washingtom another lame-duck sesssion of Congress has begun and its off to a rip-roaring start. Nancy Pelosi has been reduced to only bitch-slapping half of the House of Representatives while a hundred plus freshmen, heavy on the right, have vowed to clean up Washington politics and set aside partisan differences for the good of the nation. If that isn't enough to inspire America lets turn to the honest debate in the Arizona home of John McCain over "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." I can't wait to see who wins that one. Better check the croutons in your salad John, ground glass is crunchy too but will get you closer to your wedding vows... 'till death do us part.' top
The vote is in and the count is all but done - once again Americans shoot themselves in the foot in their ignorant zeal to 'send a message.' The GOP takes a decisive lead and our efforts to bring equality to all Americans takes yet another step backward. Obama can look forward to little progress and a whole lot of capitulation for the next few years. The sad part of this election is that nobody wins. Like the democrats, the republicas only care about power. And in the process we will wait for sensible healthcare and tax reform. We will continue George W. Imbecile's war mongering in the middle east and make excuses why we continue to support Israels selfish hate for their neighbors. 4000 people will still starve to death each day and the planet will keep getting warmer but Americans can feel proud in the knowledge that they have once again tied their president's hands and promulgated an an even richer lame-duck congress. On the bright side, we elected a career politician to the center seat in Sacramento, a man who admits that as gubernatorial candidates go, he was the lesser of two evils. We can't forget to thank Meg Whitman for boosting the state's economy by spending $140 million of our own hard earned dollars to make Jerry Brown look good, and without a magic wand.
We certainly have much to be thankful for but following the November 2 elections, the list got shorter.