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You wouldn’t want to upset the job creators, now, would you?

WAYNESBURG, Pa. – Through the hilly fields here in southwestern Pennsylvania, crews worked for months this year, cutting a trench through woods and past farms for a new natural gas pipeline.

Like many other lines crisscrossing the state’s Marcellus Shale regions, this pipe was big – a high-pressure steel line, 20 inches in diameter, large enough to help move a buried ocean of natural gas out of this corner of the state. It was also plenty big enough to set off a sizable explosion if something went wrong.

There was trouble on the job. Far too many of the welds that tied the pipe sections together were failing inspection and had to be done over.
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Here’s to life

I spent the other day with my friend who’s dying of cancer, and we talked about how being sick makes you live completely in the moment — because it’s all you have. Life seems very precious these days, and this Shirley Horn song really does say it all:

No complaints and no regrets
I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets
For I have learned that all you give is all you get
So give it all you’ve got
I had my share, I drank my fill
And even though I’m satisfied,
I’m hungry still
To see what’s down another road beyond the hill
And do it all again
So here’s to life,
And all the joy it brings.
Yes, here’s to life
The dreamers and their dreams

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Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. is a coward, a phoney, and an enemy of the US Constitution. He voted to throw one of our most basic and sacred rights -the right to habeas corpus, to face your accuser and hear the charges against you, and to enjoy the services of a lawyer- right down the toilet.

If it was 1776, Casey would stand solidly with King George. That’s why he doesn’t deserve your support in any way, shape, or form when he runs for re-election. And boy oh boy, does he WANT that support: if your inbox is anything like mine, you get at least an email a week from Blob’s campaign, begging for cash to fight off Karl Rove.

I’m not big on revolutions (too many of them end up making things worse for everyone, as Stalin’s victims would tell you). But when I read shit like this, it makes me want to roll out the guillotine.

I suppose that makes me, and probably you, a terrorist in Bob Casey’s eyes.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

Judy Garland with my favorite Christmas song:

Living on borrowed time

If only more voters realized that tax cuts are simply stealing money from the things we really need, we might not have so many situations like this.

Toys for tots

I dropped by the local Toys R Us yesterday to pick up a few things to donate, trying to walk that fine line between dirt cheap (like I could buy at the dollar store) and outright hazardous waste from China. I was really shocked to see just how expensive toys are these days. The average price for the good toys was about $45. Wow!

I’m sorry to report that the Toys for Tots donation bin was pretty low — although someone did donate three bikes, which is wonderful. Kids should get to be kids on Christmas, and that includes the wonder of finding gifts under the tree. If you can afford it, please pick up a toy or two this week and drop it off at your local collection center. (And don’t forget your local food banks!)

Give yourself to love

Kate Wolf died 25 years ago yesterday:

Staring at the sun

I wonder how long before we hear there was a slight problem with calibration and that some of the victims have been permanently blinded, since that’s how these things seem to go:

The technology, developed by a former Royal Marine commando, temporarily impairs the vision of anyone who looks towards the source.

It has impressed a division of the Home Office which is testing a new range of devices because of the growing number of violent situations facing the police.

The developer, British-based Photonic Security Systems, hopes to offer the device to shipping companies to deter pirates. Similar devices have been used by ISAF troops in Afghanistan to protect convoys from insurgents.

The laser, resembling a rifle and known as an SMU 100, can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. It costs £25,000 and has an infrared scope to spot looters in poor visibility.

Looking at the intense beam causes a short-lived effect similar to staring at the sun, forcing the target to turn away.

‘Ending’ torture

Diane Feinstein: “Much more systemic and widespread than thought.” And yes, it’s still happening. Used to be Americans cared about that sort of thing…

It is the nature of my various sinus afflictions that I can’t pick up smells as easily as normal people, and so the things that I should not be breathing frequently creep up on me without that olfactory alarm.

Which is another way of saying that my Christmas tree is killing me. Yeah, it looks pretty. But it’s a weapon of evil.

I really wanted a tree this year. I’m tired of being sick and cranky, and I wanted something to cheer me up. So my friend Cos came over yesterday to help me haul up my Christmas stuff from my landlord’s garage. I was surprised at how moldy everything smelled; after we brought the artificial tree into the house, I sprayed it with an anti-mold solution (which apparently doesn’t work). All I know is, I spent a couple of hours decorating the damn thing and now my eyes and sinuses are all swollen and they hurt and so does my throat, because did I mention I’m allergic to mold? Of course I am.

I’m also allergic to real Christmas trees, which is how I ended up with the toxic, moldy artificial one. (I once had a severe asthma attack that was induced by being stuck in traffic behind a trash truck that was crunching Christmas trees.)

I suppose I’ll have to take the damned thing down and get another one. (Fortunately, I saw one just like it at the local drugstore for $12.99, so it’s not the end of the world. But still, what a pain in the ass.)

On the bright side, I didn’t have any gall bladder pain yesterday. So now I have a completely different set of symptoms to endure – woo hoo!

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