Science Project Gone Wrong! Karnival of Kidz

Karnival of Kidz!

Now this happened one summer when I was in middle school-the summer 4th grade ended.

We had a German Shepard named Lady. Lady was a beautiful dog. She had a litter of puppies that summer and we did not even realize she was pregnant. When she came home carrying a puppy in her mouth we set her up in the garage with a blanket and food and water. She retrieved about 6 little puppies from the woods behind our house. The puppies were very cute. Lady was very protective.

About 3 days after they were born we noticed one of the puppies was dead. Lady had been laying on the puppy with full body weight. We thought it was an accident or it had just died of natural causes. We buried it in the back yard. The next day 3 more were dead. My mother thought that Lady was smothering the puppies. I had never heard of that before but she said that some animals control their populations by smothering the babies or eating them. I was mortified! Lady was left with 2 puppies. We decided to separate her and the puppies for a while. We called the vet hoping to save the other two. We were able to keep them separate except to nurse and we supervised the nursing. This worked for about 2 weeks. We thought things were okay with Lady so we let her and the puppies stay together for about a week.

We went out to go grocery shopping one day and when we came back the other two puppies were dead. She killed them all. My brother and I were very sad. She must have sat on them and smothered them as well. My father removed those puppies. This was most likely during the month of June. It has been so long ago that I do nor remember the exact month.

Jump ahead to maybe September or October. One day on a Saturday after being out with my mother and brother shopping at the mall we came home to a horrible smell. So horrible it cannot be described. It permeated the entire house and we did not know what it was or where it was coming from. We opened all the windows and doors and began to look for what ever it was. We looked under beds, in the bathrooms, in the garage, in closets. We looked for about 40 minutes before finding it. It smelled like rotting meat with some sort of chemical mixed with it.

The last place we looked was the kitchen. We had all cleaned the kitchen that morning and it was spotless so there was no way it could be coming from there. But it was.

We looked underneath the kitchen sink and got a horrible surprise. My father, still in science experiment mode from the summer, had taken matters into his own hands. He had placed three of the puppies in three large pickle jars and placed them under the sink. He filled the jars with rubbing alcohol in order to preserve them. Well, I guess rubbing alcohol is not the same as formaldehyde. Who knew?

Those puppies had begun to swell in those pickle jars filled with rubbing alcohol and the pressure became too great. The puppies exploded and then the jars did. We had exploded puppies and puppy juice and alcohol covering the bottom of the shelf under the sink and running out onto the kitchen floor. I got just a glimpse of the exploded mess before my mother screamed for me to get out the room and take my brother with me. I never got the full effect. I guess I should be happy. My mother was ranting and raving about biohazards in her kitchen! We did not clean it up. Instead she said that we had to leave the house and she would have my father clean that mess up when he got home. We went back to the mall and waited.

Once the time arrived for him to arrive home, my mother called and told him he had to clean up that mess before we came home. My mother and brother and I ate dinner out at the S&S Cafeteria. (That company has long gone out of business) We went home and all the windows were open-doors too-with fans going to air the place out. It took about two weeks for the smell to subside and a full month to go away altogether.

My mother asked my father what was he thinking. He said he was trying to preserve the puppies for my brother and I to take in for a science show and tell for a school project. It was to be a surprise.

It was a surprise, all right!

Jump way ahead to 2004, fall. dirty Fila was staying at my parents for the day on a saturday and I picked her up. She was just bursting with joy! Bursting! My father had killed a small snake in the back yard and had put it in some rubbing alcohol in a small mayo jar. He had told dirty Fila she could take it home to keep in her room. There dirty Fila was with her dead snake in a jar and all excited! I looked at my mother and gave her the evil eye! She told me not to look at her... she had nothing to do with that snake in alcohol! It was my father. I began to ask her if she remebered.....and she finished my sentence...the puppies! Who could ever forget that?

I told dirty Fila to leave the snake in my parents garage until she was ready to take it to school. My mom agreed. I could just see her now dropping it in the car or in the house and it breaking and ruining the carpet. I just looked at my father and told him I did not want any science projects gone wrong at my house. He just laughed!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Blessings in Everything

For Holly

Blessings come in many guises

That He alone in love devises,

And sickness which we dread so much

Can bring a very "healing touch"--

For often on the "wings of pain"

The peace we sought before in vain
Will come to us with "sweet surprise"

For He is merciful and wise--

And through long hours of tribulation

He gives us time for meditation,

And no sickness can be counted loss

That teaches us to "bear our cross."

~~From the collected poems of Helen Steiner Rice~~

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

The Manolo Has Moved (The Reminder)

Manolo says, the Manolo he reminds you that the Manolo he is now posting at the new website:

Please change the bookmarks and the blogrolls accordingly.

Many thanks!


Fruit Pizza : Carnival of the Recipes

This recipe I make all the time for home and the office. Eveyone loves it.
I hope you will too! It is easy and looks like you spent hours working in the kitchen!
A cookie dough crust, cream cheese filling, and fruit topping. Tip: For a quick crust, use one package of ready made sugar cookie dough rolled out to fit a pizza pan. Use an assortment of fresh fruit such as bananas, peaches, blueberries, kiwi, pineapple, and strawberries. Original recipe yield: 1 fruit pizza.


1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup white sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth. Mix in egg. combine the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased pizza pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light. Spread on cooled crust.

Arrange desired fruit on top of filling, and chill.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Just 2 Popes Away From Armageddon

I was watching the morning news, I think on Monday of this week and heard the news that we are 2 popes away from armageddon. I had not heard about this before. Of course I have heard all about revelations and the end of times, 666, the antichrist and Nostradamous. I had not heard of the prophecies of St. Malachy. From the news report there are only to be 2 more popes and Benedict XVI is one of the two. After they reign some sort of judgement day will happen.

The 12th century Irish seer St. Malachy prophesied an end to the Roman Catholic Church and predicted the fates of the pope until Judgment Day. After John Paul II dies only two popes remain on the Doomsday list .

In 1139 St. Malachy set out from Ireland on a harrowing pilgrimage to Rome. On sighting the Eternal City he fell to the ground and began murmuring cryptic Latin phrases, each signifying the future destiny of the popes.

For four hundred years the manuscript was locked in the labyrinth of the Vatican. On its rediscovery in 1595 it was rejected by the Church authorities as fraudulent but the content of the prophecies remains remarkably and chillingly accurate: to this day 90 per cent have come true.

In examining the context of St. Malachy's life, his pilgrimages and his miracles, John Hogue presents a fascinating account of the fates of the popes and eight hundred years of Catholic prophecy: including contemporaries, St. Hildegard von Bingen, Joachim de Fiore and Nostradamus, whose vision of the papal succession closely resembles that of St. Malachy.

In this first complete study of the prophecies in almost a hundred years, Hogue brings his expertise to new revelations regarding the authenticity of the mottoes. As the Roman Catholic Church continues to witness an eclipse in papal power this masterly work uncovers the truth about St. Malachy's prophecies and reveals their significance as an account of the papal progression which Vatican policy makers have found too threatening to acknowledge.

This was very interesting and ominous to hear on monday morning. I happened to be up late on last sunday night and was flipping thru the infomercials about 11:30 or so and came up on Jack Van Impe presents. When I have had insomnia in the past I have actually watched his show. There was literally nothing else on tv. I think the last time I may have seen it was in 1999 when I was sure that the world was coming to an end in 2000 or 2001 with 2001 being the real year bibilically that the world was to end--according to Jack Van Impe. He was kind of scary with that. He almost had me convinced the world was ending. He and his wife were/are pretty wierd. Well, last sunday night there was Jack Van Impe talking about the end of the world after the next 2 popes. I thought he was just as weird as ever until I heard the same thing on the news on monday morning.

Of course I had to see if there were some books and of course there were. Some really good ones are:

Mini Review: I will have to buy to see what it is all about. Things like this really do interest me. As an X-FILE addict, I really do believe UFO's are real. (I have seen a ship but that story is for another post)

The Prophecies of St. Malachy_ by Peter Bander republished by TAN Books consists of comments on the saint's life and then his prophecies regarding the future popes from the twelfth century till the end of time. Saint Malachy of Armagh, Ireland was an eleventh century bishop and saint who died in the hands of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and who foretold the day and hour of his own death. According to legend, Saint Malachy had a series of visions while visiting Rome which consisted of the prophecies regarding all future popes till the end of time. These prophecies consist of brief Latin descriptions of all the popes, which have born an uncanny resemblance to various aspects of each subsequent pope's reign. Many have scoffed at these prophecies, and some regard them to be forgeries, however they continue to hold up to scrutiny even into these modern times.

Malachy predicted 112 popes ahead of his time until the destruction of the Church of Rome and the end of the world. These predictions are especially relevant to these modern times because depending on how the prophecies are interpreted, it may be that we are living near the end of days. According to the prophecies, the recently deceased Pope John Paul II was "De Labore Solis", and the soon to be elected future pope will be "Gloria Olivae". This pope will be followed by the last pope "Petrus Romanus". Malachy has written "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock among many tribulations; after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people." Some have interpreted this to mean that following Pope John Paul II there are only two popes left. However, others more wary of this interpretation have suggested that "Petrus Romanus" need not follow directly after "Gloria Olivae" but there may be a gap. This interpretation seems to make sense.

These prophecies also predict many of the antipopes who reigned along with the popes but who were deemed not canonically elected by the church. With the recent death of Pope John Paul II and much speculation regarding his successor, as well as with the events of the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent crisis in the church, these prophecies are proving particularly important to consider. They have enjoyed immense popularity and consider to do so as we near the coming papal election. Indeed, it may be that we are living near the end of days as predicted by the prophets

Now all this talk of the armageddon has made me think I need to get ready. I guess I will have to begin to stockpile food and maybe a weapon or two along with my bibles. You know when I was little and this is true, I used to have a reocurring dream every August. I had it for many years, from 1st grade until 7th grade. I always had this dream during the same week of August also. It was very strange. I used to dream that Jesus came back in my time and it was the end of the world as we know it, but he came in a space ship from the sky. There was always pandamonium along with weeping and the gnashing of teeth. I have since learned as an adult there are thoughts on the UFO and Jesus connection.

Now I have found the best sites/things you may need in case you want to get ready too. Let's get ready together cause we are only 2 popes away from armageddon.

Aluminum Foil Deflector Hat: this is a must!
Building a safe room or bomb shelter
How to Properly identify fresh road kill that is fit to eat! (Food may become scarce)
Determining if you are an alien abductee
Wilderness Survival Guide

And of course, everyone please get a pair of armageddon appropriate shoes! Heels will not due. We should all invest in a pair of waterproof hiking boots. We need to be ready for the chaos. L. L. Bean has a wonderful pair of sturdy rugged boots for men and women.

LL Bean

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Monday's Sneakers

Today was "monday" personified. It came right up to me and kicked ME with a diamond buckled shoe. Everything that could cause a hectic monday at work happened. I was bombarded with files because the new hire we have just gotten is still in training. I am temporarily doing her job. Can we say want to tear all my shoe laces OUT! In a BIG way!!!!! All the changes that I wrote about in Shuffling Shoes happened today. We had musical chairs. The bad thing of it all--- guess who is close enough for me to hear talking on the phone all day long!!! Boomhauer! Boomhauer is just too close. God help me. I will have to hear her talking all day. Finishing shoes just looked at me all day and laughed. She knew I was most annoyed. (Don't know who Boomhauer is? Watch King of the Hill. This woman talks JUST like Boomhauer!)

It gets better. For dinner last night I made some chicken and spinach fettachinni. There was enough for today for dinner. When I got home after working late dirty Fila had eaten it all. There was none left for me. I could have made something for dinner for myself but I was just too tired. I just threw together what I could. My dinner consisted of baked garlic, french bread, wine and Dubliner Irish cheese. The baked garlic I made last night. Well of course I ate an entire head of garlic on the bread. I guess I am spewing forth garlic fumes now. Thanks Geek Thug! ( I got that garlic idea from you awhile ago, we were posting about baked garlic so I found a recipe on the net and tried it. Very good! Amazing what heat can do to change the taste of fresh garlic. )

I noticed that dirty Filas sneakers were dirty so I asked her to get all of her sneakers and let me eye ball them. They were all dingy and needed washing. Then I threw mine in the mix. So tonight was sneaker wash night. Bewteen the two of us 9 pairs were washed. These were just the pairs that were dirty. Many more were clean and in the closets for both dirty Fila and I. No wonder our sneakers never really wear out. We have too many to wear out!

Before Washing!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Disney Hat Parade

Carnival of Cats

Graduate of the Mickey School of Cattery!
(I'll shoe her how much I learned--wait til'
after dinner. I got a 4.0 in throwing
up hair balls!)

Cheshire Cat
does not have anything on me!
I'll be MAD alright!
Mad at 2am when I bite her toes all in fun!
(She forgets, I sleep at the foot of her bed!)

Not the goofy court jester hat!
She had to hold me down for this one!
(Notice the odd camera angle)

God--Will it be over soon?!
Maybe if I lie still.
I can take it like a cool cat, man!

Disney Hat Madness Over!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Making Egg Salad: Karnival of Kidz

Karnival of Kidz

I have always been an excellent cook, why after all I taught Emeril everything he knows! From my apple pie that came out like a big dry biscuit with dried apples in the middle, my pancake invention called "scramble pancakes" because I could not flip them, to my egg salad complete with bullets, everyone knows I am a chef extraodinaire! So given that I am going to share my top secret recipe for making egg salad.

When I was in middle school, 6th grade actually, I decided to make egg salad for lunch the next day. The time was about 7pm. I was very tired. I had put 2 eggs on to boil. My father was finishing up the dinner dishes at the sink. Mom was in her bedroom getting ready for work the next day. Who knew where my brother was?

All I know is that I am tired. very tired that I tell myself I will just go lie down on my bed and rest my eyes for just a minute. My father leaves the kitchen. I leave the kitchen table and collapse on my canopy bed just to rest my eyes. I will get up in just a few minutes and finish making my egg salad.

My eyes opened to pitch blackness with a hand covering my mouth tightly so that I could not scream. It is my mother. She is whispering. What I do not know. I just woke up and do not know what is going on. She whispers some more and will not remove her hand until I understand the whispers.

The whispers are orders... over and over again orders--to get up, to not speak, to tiptoe and come with her. I get up and follow her out my room into the hallway. There in the darkness is my father with the shotgun aimed ahead of him. There is my brother as well. My mother places us in the correct order. She gets behind my father, I am behind her and my younger brother is behind me. We all tiptoe down the hall toward the kitchen.

I hear sounds now and we are all terrified. Sounds like someone is moving in the kitchen and looking for something. It was a burgler. Why else would my father have the shot gun and why else would the four of us be tip toeing in the pitch blackness toward the kitchen. Why didn't my parents simply call the police? That was the only thing I could think. We were going to die or get shot with that gun or would have to fight for our lives.

We continued to tip. The sounds got louder. Popping sounds like a gun going off in the kitchen. We got to the entrance of the kitchen and my father fired that shotgun blindly into the night. I grabbed my brother and tried not to scream. I think my father fired all the bullets. I heard a click and no more firing from his gun.

We only heard silence from the kitchen. We all stood frozen in the hallway for what seemed like an eternity. We still only heard silence. My mother whispered for my father to turn on the light. He did. I was expecting to see dead bodies and blood. Instead, I saw gunshot holes in the walls, gunshot holes in the cabinets and more on the floor. There were no dead people in the kitchen.

The only thing of any great notice in the kitchen was just my pot sitting on the stove, black from heat. It was devoid of all water and had been for quite some time as noted by its black color. It was also devoid of eggs. The burglar sounds we thought we heard was the sound of eggs exploding right out of their shells. They had burst wide open and yoke and egg white was strewn all over the cabinets and the floor.

My parents turned to look at me. My legs turned to jelly. My father had shot up the kitchen for the love of egg salad! Back then parents gave their kids spankings and believe me I got a good one. Whelps and all. I never made egg salad again until I was an adult and had graduated from college. To this day egg salad still haunts me. I rarely make it but if you like I can come over and make up a batch for you. Just let me know. I will wear my chef hat and all!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Benedict XVI Inauguration

ROME, April 24 (Xinhuanet) -- Pope Benedict XVI was formally installed in a high-profile ceremony in the St. Peter's Square in the Vatican Sunday to officially start the ministry of the 265th leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

The open-air ceremony, known as Ceremony of Investiture, included an inaugural Mass to provide the new pope a major platform to set the tone for his pontificate.

Attending the ceremony were an estimated 350,000 people, including a large number of pilgrims from the new pope's native Germany, political leaders and ceremonial dignitaries.

The 78-year-old Benedict XVI was elected the 265th pope on April 19, 11 days after the death of Pope John Paul II on April 8.

The new pope began the ceremony by processing into the area under St. Peter's Basilica where St. Peter is believed to be buried.

In a symbolic moment of the inaugural Mass, Benedict was given a Fisherman's Ring and a woolen pallium or shawl -- symbols of the papal authority.

Benedict ended the inaugural Mass by riding in a white open-topped white jeep surrounded by plain-clothed guards.


If you would like to send the Pope an email of congratulations you can email him at the Vatican.

Greetings to the Holy Father

Vatican is Ready for Inauguration

Benedict XVI Buttons

VATICAN CITY – The crescendo is building. Souvenirs are beginning to arrive, a sea of plastic chairs is being set up, and the marble steps of St. Peter's Basilica are being decorated with bright green sod.

By the time San Diego wakes up tomorrow, Pope Benedict XVI should be officially installed, confirming Tuesday's election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new leader of the largest church in Christianity.

Postcards, bookmarks, candles and silver rosary cases with the likeness of the new Roman Catholic pope began popping up in some stores and stands yesterday.

More memorabilia is expected to arrive today and tomorrow, just in time for the new pope to bless the items. "All will be blessed," said a 71-year-old vendor, who had a small stack of silver cases with an oval photograph of Benedict on the outside and plastic rosary beads on the inside. "On Sunday, the pope will bless them."

Workers in tool belts maneuvered around tourists with cameras as the massive elliptical plaza was being transformed into a stadium-size church.

A half-million people are expected to attend the outdoor service, which will begin at 10 a.m. Rome time (1 a.m. PDT) in front of St. Peter's Basilica. Police have cordoned off nearby streets in Rome with yellow tape, both for security and in anticipation of a spillover crowd for this first papal inauguration Mass in 26 years.

Yesterday, the new pope met with the College of Cardinals – including those who participated in this week's conclave and the older cardinals who were ineligible to vote. He thanked them for their support and described what has been an emotional three weeks, from the death of Pope John Paul II, "my venerated predecessor," on April 2 to his own election to succeed him 17 days later.

"I pray that your support for me may never fail," Benedict told them. Today, Benedict meets with the thousands of journalists covering the historic events of this month. Pope John Paul II also met with the media after his election in 1978.

Tomorrow's inauguration Mass will be rich with ritual, as Benedict receives the Ring of the Fisherman and the white, stole-like pallium that signifies his office.

Let me insert a little something about the Papal Ring: The Ring of the Fisherman

When Pope Jophn Paul II died, Cardinal Somalo broke the Fisherman's Ring and the lead seal used to authenticate papal letters, "as foreseen by the Apostolic Constitution", Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.

The ritual was attended by 143 cardinals - the "princes" of the Catholic Church.

A new ring is cast in gold for each pontiff.

It has a relief of St Peter - revered as the first pope and said to have been a fisherman. The pope's name is written in Latin on the ring.

Historically, the pope would use the ring to seal private documents and the lead seal for public documents.

The audience will be rich in dignitaries – including a contingent of German leaders headed by President Horst Koehler, coming to see the first German-born pope installed in nearly 1,000 years. The 78-year-old pontiff will meet with pilgrims from his homeland Monday.

Leading the U.S. contingent is President Bush's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Also going are 21 members of the House of Representatives. Five are from California (one from Northern California and four from the Los Angeles area).

Response to the selection of Ratzinger, a Vatican insider who spent the past 24 years heading the agency that defends church teachings, continues to be mixed.

<>The Florida-based Hindu American Foundation was among the latest to express its apprehension. In a statement, the foundation's president referred to comments Ratzinger made eight years ago when he called Hinduism a religion of "false hope." Dr. Mihir Meghani said, "We sincerely hope that the pope will reconsider his prior unfortunate reflections."

Authorities Get Ready for Inaugural Mass

Authorities in Rome have tightened security ahead of the new Pope's inauguration mass later today.

About half a million people are expected to flood to St Peter's Square for the mass.

There will be 36 heads of state including German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Britain's Prince Philip and the US President's brother, Jeb Bush.

Religious leaders include the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.

The airspace over Rome will close down and fighter planes and helicopters will patrol overhead.

Benedict XVI will deliver his first public homily as Pope, in front of St Peter's Basilica - the same location, where he presided over John Paul II's funeral two weeks ago.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone! My current job does nothing specifically for Earth Day but we do have a year round soda can recycling bin/system that we participate in. We all have plastic recycling bins under our desks for white paper only. We do a lot of paper recycling. When I worked part time for Disney they were very big into recycling. Environmentality! That was the catch phrase. We did many recycling things at Disney. I wore one of my Disney environmentality cast pins to work today and just about eveyone had no clue that it was Earth Day. Surely they would have heard about it on the news , if they were not aware.

What can we do to recycle shoes? Many things! I have not recycled any shoes in the past but it is something I will consider in the future.

ReUse a Shoe

Reuse-A-Shoe collects, slices, and grinds up used (any brand) and defective (Nike only) athletic shoes to make Nike Grind material, which is then used in sports surfaces. Since its inception in 1993, the Reuse-A-Shoe program has recycled more than 13 million pairs of shoes, and has helped donate over 100 athletic courts, tracks, fields and playground surfaces to communities around the world. Nike Grind material from the shoes collected in the pilot year of the Reuse-A-Shoe program with the National Recycling Coalition will be allocated to Nike's licensees - FieldTurf, Rebound Ace, Atlas Track and Connor.

Reuse-A-Shoe is an integral part of Nike's new NikeGO initiative launched in the fall of 2002 to increase physical activity among youth ages 9-15-and give them the means to do it. Programs include the NikeGO Fund, NikeGO After School program, NikeGO Girls program, Reuse-A-Shoe, Bowerman Track Program and numerous field/court and product donations. Through NikeGO, thousands of youth will be encouraged to discover the joy of movement and physical activity in an effort to help lead healthier lives. For more information please visit:

Nike Reuse a Shoe

Don't throw away those old running or aerobic shoes. Donate them to One World Running. This was a program that was started in 1986 by a group of runners in Colorado. They send new or near news shoes to Africa along with school supplies and medical supplies and food. They take shoec and of course money donations. $195 will buy about 50 pairs of shoes for children in subsaharan africa. That amount will buy double the shoes in Haiti and Central America. Read more and and make donations to this program here. And that is not all!

Over in London there is the program called Shoe Friends where schools are paid to recycle kids shoes. Shoe Friends is part of the bigger LMB London Ltd recycling program.

Lastly, if you loose a shoe and have the one foot left, do not throw that one shoe away. It can be donated to The National Odd Shoe Exchange. This program benefits peopleel with feet that are 2 different sizes in addition to amputees and people with handicaps or special needs. This program was started in Missouri in 1943 by Ruth Feldman for polio victims. More on the history here.

So while we wear out our beloved shoes on a daily basis... once we are done or they are done in (worn down heels)...never forget that they will always have a purpose. If they are not too worn and still have some life in them, they can still be used to benefits others. They can still be worn again or melted down into roads or other rubber products that will benefit our environment.

Happy Earth Day!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

15 Seconds, Not Minutes...of Fame!

I just happen to be googling my blog just to see who else was linked to it to see if I owed any reciprocal links and I found my blog had made the news. I'm famous! Can't you see my SHOES swelling!? (Not!)

Really! I did come across this article about my blog on Inside Stories. The reporter, A. J. Carter wrote the following about my blog:

The most endearing feature of blogs is also the most inherent weakness: People are free to rant however they want even if they know nothing about their subject.

We were reminded of this when we were directed to a blog titled "The Secret Life of Shoes" that had a string of comments about Long Island-based Love My Shoes owner Robert Yeganeh's recent offer to Martha Stewart of footwear designed to hide the ankle monitor she wears while serving her home-confinement sentence.

The blog string segued from comments about Stewart to comments about Yeganeh's motives in offering the shoes to Yeganeh's character - comments from people who have never met Yeganeh. The gist appeared to be that Yeganeh's motives were either to sell shoes (not so, Yeganeh noted to us) or generate publicity (as we said when the offer was made) and that Yeganeh was a bad person because he once turned down a request from an unnamed charity for free shoes. "I guess it is more important to have celebrities wear your shoes than people who REALLY need them," one blog concluded.

But as Yeganeh noted when he called us from a business trip to Italy, he has donated shoes to the group Dress for Success, which helps women returning to the job market, and he raised money for tsunami relief organizations at a recent event during the Super Bowl.

"People think everybody's after a buck. People think that whatever you do is to make a sale, to corner the market," Yeganeh said, guessing that the criticisms came from competitors. "We never really turn away anybody that is a legitimate, needy organization."

Yeganeh did get support from a blogger describing him as "one of the biggest philanthropists I know ... he is a real mentsch." The blogger described himself as "one of the rabbis of the owner of Love My Shoes," and the signature referred to a Web site of a Hasidic organization in Waterbury, Conn., where Yeganeh said he worshiped one week. "I've got to thank him," Yeganeh said.

Which begs the question: What is a Hasidic rabbi doing on a Web site titled "The Secret Life of Shoes?"

You know when I answered the Rabbi in the comments I had the last question of his article in my mind also. But then I thought nothing more of it as I do post news as well as shoe related posts. All my posts on the pope has brought so many people here that I exceeded my bandwith at photobucket and I had to upgrade or none of my pictures would show.

For those of you who missed the Martha Stewart posts and the comments on Love My Shoes here are the two posts that caused all the stir:

Martha Stewart Inspires Shoe Designer : all the comments are here

The post with the actual pictures: Martha Stewart Ankle Bracelet Shoes

Love My Shoes
You can now order the Martha Stewart shoes if you contact them by email.

It's my birthday! My blogs famous! It's my birthday! I am stompin' with the blogs! Okay! Okay before my shoes get any bigger, have your people call my people and we'll do lunch!

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

New Pope Elected: Benedict the XVI

Updated 04/27/05

Benedict XVI Coat of Arms
Picture of new coat of arms

FRANKFURT, Germany -- Pope Benedict XVI has included traditional Bavarian elements and a nod to St. Augustine in his papal coat of arms, the diocese of Munich and Friesing said Monday.

A crowned Ethiopian, a bear and a mussel -- all of which appear on the insignia of the diocese -- also appear in the three-sectored insignia chosen by Benedict.

The bear, which is saddled with heavy packs, symbolizes the weight of the papal office, the diocese said in a statement.

It has its origins in a Bavarian legend concerning the diocese's patron, Korbinian, who encountered the animal while on a trip to Rome. The bear ate Korbinian's mule, and God saddled it with the mule's packs.

The mussel dates back to a parable by St. Augustine -- about whose works the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote his final thesis -- and symbolizes "diving into the groundless sea of God," the diocese said.

At an audience in Rome with German pilgrims Monday, Benedict shook hands and kissed children, telling them "my roots are in Bavaria and I'm still Bavarian as bishop of Rome."

Ratzinger served as archbishop of Munich before being summoned to Rome in 1981 to become the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog.

***Updated 04/23/05***

His Papal name

The choice of the name Benedict (Latin "the blessed") is significant. The new pope's birthday is on 16 April and that day is the feast of Saint Benedict Joseph Labre (26 March 174816 April 1783), also known as the Holy Pilgrim. In addition, the previous Pope Benedict XV (1914 to 1922) was seen as a conciliator who calmed the disputes between modernist and traditionalist factions with the Church, and the adoption of the name Benedict has been seen as a sign that Benedict XVI has similar goals. Additionally, Der Spiegel reports on an interview with Cardinal Meisner, usually regarded as close to Ratzinger, stating that he chose Benedict because of Benedict XV who "did much for peace in the world".[5] (

Theology professor Susan Roll of the University of Ottawa speculates in the Globe and Mail, however, that the new Pope's name may be taken from St. Benedict, who founded the Benedictine Order and is credited by Catholics for preserving Christian civilization during the Great migration in the Early Middle Ages. St. Benedict is also one of the patron saints of Europe. Ratzinger has always been concerned that Europe should do its utmost not to lose its Christian heritage. Some have speculated that the choice of the name of Europe's patron signals an intention to reclaim Europe for Christ.

However, John Allen, the new pope's biographer and a longtime Vatican observer, told CNN on April 20, 2005, that the choice of name also appears to be a purposeful allusion to the fact that the previous holder of the name Benedict was shortlived in office. Ratzinger's brother has stated that he hoped that his aged sibling would not be elected to the papacy due to the pressures of the office and the fact that in 1991, Cardinal Ratzinger suffered a brain hemorrhage. "At age 78 it's not good to take on such a job which challenges the entire person and the physical and mental existence," Georg Ratzinger, then 81 years of age, said in an article published in the Guardian on April 20, 2005. "At an age when you approach 80 it's no longer guaranteed that one is able to work and get up the next day." Given this history, John Allen noted that the pope likely has "a very keen sense that this may not be a very long pontificate and there's an awful lot to do."

Allen's observation is further corroborated by Ratzinger's comments to cardinals just after his election, explaining his name. Chicago's Cardinal Francis George said that Ratzinger told the cardinals, "I too hope in this short reign to be a man of peace."

Some view the pope's choice of name as a fulfillment of the Prophecy of the Popes of St. Malachy.


Ratzinger Papal Coat of Arms
Pope Benedict XVI Bear Symbol

Ratzinger Old Coat of Arms

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict can keep his old coat of arms if he wants - as Pope, he can do whatever he pleases. But some less-than-amused heraldry experts hope he adopts a new one.

They say his current coat of arms, designed when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising, in Germany, is not dignified.

It features two bears with packs on their backs.

All bishops have coats of arms and usually they reflect his special interests. Some elements are traditional, like the red broad beamed hat which goes on top of the coat of arms as a symbol of a bishop's office.

There almost always is a cross - Ratzinger's is jewel-studded. And red cords down each side, and in the middle, usually, a shield of some sort. The one Ratzinger adopted is divided into four sections.

That's where the bears are, on the shield.

An aide to Ratzinger said yesterday he did not know why the bears were featured on the coat of arms.

"Maybe they mean something in Bavaria," he said, referring to the German state, where Munich is located. "Maybe he justs likes bears."

Vatican experts in these things said that they expect Benedict to adopt a new coat of arms, reflecting his new standing.


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany was on Tuesday elected the Pope.

Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez of Chile announced the name of the 265th pope, who will be known as Benedict the XVI.

Ratzinger appeared on the balcony of the Vatican palace to greet the public.

The Pope was elected on the second day of the conclave, in which 115 cardinals took part.

White smoke billowed from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel to indicate that a new Pope has been elected.

The ringing of the bell accompanied the announcement.

A German has been elected a Pope after almost a century.

Ratzinger was chosen on the fourth ballot held by the 115 cardinals meeting to select a successor to Pope John Paul II.

Addressing the faithfuls after being elected the Pope, Ratzinger said, "Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers."

Ratzinger, born on April 16, 1927, was ordained on June 29, 1951. He is known as 'the Pope's enforcer' due to his uncompromising conservatism and he is expected to advocate the policies of John Paul II, who died on April 2.

He has been associated with the Vatican for 20 years. Ratzinger was one of the few members of John Paul II's inner circle.

Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the church's chief think-tank that has dominated discussions on sexual morality and birth control and prevented liberals from gaining ground.

New Popes first Blessing

Dear brothers and sisters,

after our great Pope, John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble worker in God's vineyard.

I am consoled by the fact that the Lord knows how to work and how to act, even with insufficient tools, and I especially trust in your prayers.

In the joy of the resurrected Lord, trustful of his permanent help, we go ahead, sure that God will help. And Mary, his most beloved Mother, stands on our side. Thank you.

Biographical Notes on Ratzinger
The Holy See

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and International Theological Commission, Dean of the College of Cardinals, was born on 16 April 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Germany. He was ordained a priest on 29 June 1951.

His father, a police officer, came from a traditional family of farmers from Lower Baviera. He spent his adolescent years in Traunstein, and was called into the auxiliary anti-aircraft service in the last months of World War II. From 1946 to 1951, the year in which he was ordained a priest and began to teach, he studied philosophy and theology at the University of Munich and at the higher school in Freising. In 1953 he obtained a doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled: "The People and House of God in St. Augustine’s doctrine of the Church". Four years later, he qualified as a university teacher. He then taught dogma and fundamental theology at the higher school of philosophy and theology of Freising, then in Bonn from 1959 to 1969, M√ľnster from 1963 to 1966, Tubinga from 1966 to 1969. From 1969, he was a professor of dogmatic theology and of the history of dogma at the University of Regensburg and Vice President of the same university.

Already in 1962 he was well known when, at the age of 35, he became a consultor at Vatican Council II, of the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joseph Frings. Among his numerous publications, a particular post belongs to the ‘Introduction to Christianity’, a collection of university lessons on the profession of apostolic faith, published in 1968; Dogma and revelation, an anthology of essays, sermons and reflections dedicated to the pastoral ministry, published in 1973.

In March 1977, Paul VI elected him Archbishop of Munich and Freising and on 28 May 1977 he was consecrated, the first diocesan priest after 80 years to take over the pastoral ministry of this large Bavarian diocese.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Paul VI in the consistory of 27 June 1977, of the Titles of the Suburbicarian Church of Velletri-Segni (5 April 1993) and Suburbicarian Church of Ostia (30 November 2002).

On 25 November 1981 he was nominated by John Paul II Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; President of the Biblical Commission and of the Pontifical International Theological Commission.

Relator of the 5th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (1980).

President Delegate to the 6th Synodal Assembly (1983).

Elected Vice Dean of the College of Cardinals, 6 November 1998. On 30 November 2002, the Holy Father approved the election, by the order of cardinal bishops, as Dean of the College of Cardinals.

President of the Commission for the Preparation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and after 6 years of work (1986-92) he presented the New Catechism to the Holy Father.

Laurea honoris causa in jurisprudence from the Libera Università Maria Santissima Assunta, 10 November 1999.

Honorary member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 13 November 2000.

Curial Membership:

Secretariat of State (second section)

Oriental Churches, Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Bishops, Evangelization of Peoples, Catholic Education (congregations)

Christian Unity (council)

Latin America, Ecclesia Dei (commissions)

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Shoe Cake

Special day looming on the horizon? Try a shoe cake, just one of the many beautiful cakes created at The Uncommon Cake located in Vancouver, BC. The shoe box is cake. The shoe is made of solid icing! Just beautiful!


And what do you cut a shoe cake with? A shoe cake server of course! This item is available at the Chicago Architecture Foundation shop.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

John Paul II : Life in Review

It is the eve of the first conclave vote for a new pope. Should this day be called new pope eve or possible new pope eve??! Well since all things with the Vatican begin anew on tomorrow, I thought it appopriate to give Pope John Paul II one last look.

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Papal Coat of Arms
The arms of Pope John Paul II was designed by Archbishop Bruno Heim. Allpapal arms include the tiara and the crossed keys, which mark the pope’s legaland spiritual authority over the Church. The shield is unique; instead of thetraditional Marian symbol, it simply uses the letter “M.” Pope John Paul IIinsisted on keeping this design which he used as Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow. The off-center golden cross is symbolic of Christ’s Cross and the “M” is placednear it not only to honor Mary, but to show how she faithfully stood at the foot ofthe cross on Calvary.

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  • 1920 May 18-Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, in Wadowice, Poland
  • 1938 Nazis invade Poland and WWII begins
  • 1946 Ordained in Krakow, completed studies at pontifical universities in Rome and returns to Poland
  • 1958 Consecrated assistant Bishop of Krakow
  • 1964 Installed as archbishop of Krakow
  • 1967 Consecrated as a cardinal by Pope Paul VI
  • 1972 Publishes Foundations of Renewal, about his efforts to educate the people of his archdiocese on Vatican II
  • 1978 Elected successor to Pope John Paul I becoming first Polish pope and first non italian pope in 455 years
  • 1979 Takes trip to Poland which sparks the Solidarity movement. Also takes first trip abroad to Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico

In His Own Words during his 1979 visit to Poland.

“Do not be afraid. Open, rather open wide, the doors to Christ,” from his first public address after his election onOctober 16, 1978, as the first non-Italian pope in more than 455 years.“I was a laborer for four years and for me those four years of work are worth more than two doctorate degrees,”addressing Rome workers in 1979.“It’s cheaper than another conclave,” responding to criticism in 1979 about the cost of building a swimming pool atthe papal summer residence so he could keep fit.“The pope cannot remain a prisoner of the Vatican. I want to go to everybody…from the nomads of the steppesto the monks and nuns in their convents…. I want to cross the threshold of every home,” to reporters early in hisreign.“How many popes since St. Peter have been able to ski? Answer: One!” to reporters early in his reign.“It is not possible for us to avoid all criticism nor is it possible for us to please everyone. We are humbly convincedthat God is with us in our ministry of truth, and he did not give us a spirit of timidity,” during a 1979 trip to the UnitedStates.“Is it not Christ’s will that this pope, this Slav pope, should manifest at this precise moment the spiritual unity of Europe?”

  • 1981 Pope is shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter's square
  • 1982 A rebel Spanish priest tried to stab the pope at the Marian shrine in portugal. also meets with PLO Yasser Arafat at the Vatican
  • 1983 Calls for the heads of government of the United States and the Soviet Unions to negotiate end to the arms race
  • 1986 Makes the first visit by any pope to a synagogue. Prays with Romes chief rabbi to foster Catholic-Jewish relations
  • 1987 Receives U. S. President Ronald Reagan
  • 1989 Receives U. S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev

  • 1991 Makaes first trip to his homeland since the collapse of communism
  • 1992 Undergoes major surgery to remove a tumor. Issues roman Catholic Church a new Universal Catechism--the first in nearly 5 centuries
  • 1993 Agreement signed establishing formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Vatican
  • 1994 Publishes his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. In a letter to the Catholic bishops reaffirms the ban on women priests
  • 1995 Papal document Evangelium Vitae calls for non-violet opposition by all Christians to abortion and euthanasia
  • 1996 Meets with Fidel Castro
  • 1997 Vatican establishes diplomatic relations with Libya
  • 1998 Goes to Cuba for the first time. The Vatican apologizes to Jews for Catholics who failed to stop Nazi persecution. Also celebrates 20th anniversary as pope
  • 1999 Meets President Bill Clinton in St. Louis, Mo. Gives permission to start the cause of beatification for Mother Teresa of Calcutta
  • 2000 Makes first pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In note left at Jerusalem's Western Wall, expresses sorrow for suffering of Jews at the hands of christians. Celebrates the first papal mass ever held in Egypt. Ushers in Vatican millennium Jubilee year by opening Holy Doors at St. Peter's Basilica.

Mil 2000 Posted by Hello

  • 2001 In first message to world via internet, he apologizes to victims of sex abuse by preists and other clergy. Becomes first pope to visit Greece since Schism
  • 2002 Summons U.S. cardinals to discuss sex abuse scandal. Marks his 24th anniversary as pope. Receives U. S. President George W. Bush
  • 2003 Cardinal in newspaper interview confirms that pope has Parkinson's disease. Celebrates 25 years as pope. Makes a dramatic appeal for world prayer to avert war. Makes 100th foreign trip, visiting Croatia

staff Posted by Hello

  • 2004 President George W. Bush awrds the pope the Medal of Freedom. Travels to Switzerland to meet with the Association of former Swiss Guards to thank then for guarding the Vatican. Delivery of the icon of the Kazan Mother of God back to Russia
  • 2005 Message on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the prisoners of the Auschwitz Birkenau death camps. Pope John Paul II passes away on April 2, 2005 after a long bout with Parkinsons.


Do You Ever See Cat Skeletons in the Trees?

Carnival of Cats

Almost a cat skeleton! Posted by Hello

It was late one night not too long ago and dirty Fila and I were in the den with the windows cracked about 12 inches. My cat was sitting at the window as she normally does whenever it is open. All of a sudden with no warning she began to growl, yowl or whatever cats do when they see another cat. Her tail began to thump the carpet and then BAM! Her head hit the screen as she tried to get at the other cat that must have come visiting that night.

The screen popped out of the window and my kitty was gone. dirty Fila looked at the window, she then looked at me and all of a sudden the dam burst. dirty Fila began to scream and cry at the top of her lungs. She cried the tears of the world coming to an end. She was so hysterical that I was scared for her! I was scared for me. There was no way to console her.

Our cat is an inside cat and only goes out to the back patio in her lease. She is leash trained. If she stays outside for any length of time she is tethered to a metal stake that is triangular know like those dog stakes. She does well on a leash.

I tried to get dirty Fila to calm down. She would not. I told her that I could not go look for our kitty unless she did. I popped the screen back in and I proceeded to look for my kitty. It was about 12:30 at night so there I was in the darkness trying to whisper/scream her name. I expected the police to come rolling up any minute. I walked thru yards calling and shaking her treat bag hoping she would come. No kitty. After 30 minutes I went back home. Guess who was still crying?

I got her to bed but she made me promise to keep looking. I told her I would. I took an open can of tuna with me about 1am and did not come back until 2am. No kitty. I was heartbroken. I went to bed. I was up at dawn looking at again with a bag of treats to shake and an open can of tuna.

I began to call her name. Faintly and from very far away I heard her answer me. I called again. She answered me. She was up high somewhere. I tried to pinpoint where the sound was coming from. I called again and again she answered me. She is a smart kitty. Really she is. She was somewhere to the right of me about 3 streets over. I walked over there calling and she answered every time.

Where was she? In a tree about 10 feet up. At the based of the tree was a male cat. I guess he was after her and she ran up the tree to get away. I chased him and then began my coaxing to get her down. She was so terrified that nothing worked. It was about 6am at this time and I woke the people up who lived in the house by this tree. The male in the house came out to see what was happening and I apologized for all the noise, but that was my cat and I was not going away until I got her back.

He went and got his 6 foot extension ladder. It was not high enough. My kitty would not come down. Finally around 11AM I thought about going to the fire station just down the street to see if they would come with a truck and a ladder. I know that man was tired of me staked out in his yard beneath his tree. The fire station was about 4 houses away. I went there, told my story and all I got was a big fat NO! That fell on deaf ears. They were going to have to give me more than that. The fire chief told me that due to cats and liability to the men who might come in contact with rabid animals they no longer did that—getting cats out of trees. I looked at him like he was crazy. I explained this was my pet and she had all shots and even had a rabies tag on her collar.

The answer was still no! I thought tears would do the trick. I began to cry …really because I thought they were being mean. I was distraught when I went there to begin with. They got more details about the cat and where the house was and said that they would think about it. I left to go back to the tree. The man who lived at this house asked me what happened. I told him and dissolved into a blob of crying jello. I continued to shake the treat bag and call her name. Still she was not budging. The man decided that he would go. It was his house after all.

He walked down the street and about 10 minutes later he came back. He said they told him the same thing. They were not going to come but gave him a shaky maybe. He tried to call his son. He said his son has a big ladder he uses for construction that would get us up high enough to reach her. He called and called but his son was not home. It was about 1:00 pm by this time.

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I decide to go to the fire station again and this time I was furious! I demanded to see the manager on duty/ the chief that day/whoever!, but someone was going to speak to me right now about getting my cat out of that tree. I told them I would also be calling the news media as well to tell them this story and to personally let them know what this fire house was doing to help a poor distraught woman and her distraught cat stuck in the tree.

Well that did it. Within 10 minutes that truck and ladder was there with about 6 firemen. It only takes one to drive the truck and that same one could have gotten the cat. Well there were six and all so very busy in regards to getting my cat down. The first man who told me no was the one who went up the ladder.

I think he was mad that he had to come. He was very rough with my kitty. He grabbed her by the tail and held her up in the air by the tail to get her down the ladder. He climbed down the ladder with her by the tail, his arm extended out. There was no need for that. My cat would have just climbed into his arms to get out of that tree. Her personality is very calm all the time and timid.

When he got to the ground, he handed her to me by the tail. I guess be expected her to be wild cat or something but she just crawled into my arms calmly. He seemed disappointed in that. That she did not go crazy, scratch me or try to ruin off again. I thanked him for getting her. He just looked at her curled up in my arms and then got in the truck and began to pull away.

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The last thing he said to me was a question. “Do you ever see cat skeletons in the trees? That cat would have come down eventually.” The man who owned the house yelled to the fireman that that was not necessary nor was it necessary the rough way you held the cat by the tail. The fireman just looked at us both and drove off.

I wanted to kick him as hard as I could with a diamond buckled shoe!

I thanked the man who owed the house and walked home. dirty Fila was waiting. It was now about 2:30 in the afternoon. She grabbed our kitty and hugged her, smiling. Then she would look at her and begin to cry. For the next hour she went thru periods of smiling and crying whenever she saw the cat. All was well.

“Do you ever see cat skeletons in the trees? I am haunted by the question to this day. Do you ever see cat skeletons in the trees-my ass…sorry… shoe! Karma does come back to you. One day that will come back to that fireman, and he will remember that cat skeletons might just be seen in trees.

Easter Gone Bad! Very, Very Bad!

Easter is over but I had to post these. I just don't have words to describe them. Maybe you have some?!

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What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

Vatican on the Alert for Spys

VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- From bugs to lasers to cell phones, the Vatican is on guard for high-tech eavesdropping ahead of Monday's opening of the conclave to elect a new pope to lead the Roman Catholic Church

Intensifying the speculation -- and perhaps the taste for espionage -- are the lack of a clear favorite, a media blackout imposed on cardinals by the Vatican, and the church's tight-lipped statements on the cardinals' meetings so far.

Trying to stay one step ahead of spying technology, Vatican observers say the church's security force is expected to repeatedly sweep the Vatican grounds for bugs and other gadgets before and during the secret meeting of the College of Cardinals.

That includes the Sistine Chapel, where the 115 eligible cardinals will vote, and their accommodations at the Santa Marta Hotel, which Pope John Paul II had built in 1996.

The selection of a new pope is a well-defined traditional process developed over centuries with clear voting procedures -- but little is known how the "princes of the church" reach their decision.

The next pope will influence more than 1 billion Catholics worldwide and set a new agenda -- raising the stakes for nations with close ties to the church.

For these reasons, the sky's the limit when it comes to spying on the Vatican.

Satellite cameras could zoom in on key buildings and grounds where the cardinals gather. Lasers could be pointed at windows to pick up their conversations.

"Surely many intelligence agencies in the world are trying to penetrate inside the Holy See [the Vatican]. They will do with special aircraft, for example, spy planes with ... lasers," says Andrea Margelletti of the Center for International Studies in Rome.

Miriam Tomponzi, a flamboyant private detective who practices in Rome, suggests classic, James Bond-style spy tricks could all be used -- a camera or a bug disguised as a cigarette lighter, a pen that's really a microphone.

"There's absolutely no doubt we could spy on the Vatican and the conclave," Tomponzi says.

But the security for this conclave has been years in the making.

The late pope was credited with bringing the Catholic Church into the Information Age. He used the Vatican's official Web site, launched in 1995, to publish his sermons and speeches.

The pope, who was famously photographed typing on his laptop computer, had his own e-mail account and used text messaging as a tool to get his message out. (Full story)

Therefore, it's little surprise the pope understood the importance of measures to keep the conclave's secrets from slipping out.

He issued counter-intelligence orders for the conclave banning cell phones, recorders, radios, televisions, electronic organizers -- all to protect cardinals from, in his words, "threats to their independent judgment."

Margelletti and other experts say the Vatican could take further precautionary measures, including jamming devices, thicker windows or sound-secure rooms.

Vatican observers say the pope also learned from being spied on for years by the communist regime in Poland.

"I think that now we have a Holy See much less vulnerable than ever," Margelletti says.

It may be less vulnerable to outside spying, but experts also say that won't make the Vatican free of internal intrigue as rival cardinals jockey for power in the shadows of the saints.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

New Chimney Erected by Vatican

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The stovepipe, erected Friday and connected to a pot-bellied stove in the chapel, will provide a signal to the world when a new pontiff is selected.

Once the conclave begins Monday, the 115 cardinals expected to take part will vote up to four times each day until a pope is selected.

At the end of each morning and afternoon session, the ballots from that session will be burned and chemicals added to provide color.

If a pope has been chosen -- which requires a two-thirds majority -- the smoke will be white. If not, it will be black.

CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said Friday "a whole lot" of politicking was going on in advance of the conclave, which starts the day after the end of the nine-day mourning period for John Paul II.

Cardinals agree that the next pope must be charismatic and able to reach worldwide audiences, some cardinals said. John Paul II spoke more than a dozen languages, attracting enormous crowds for his speeches. He was also very media savvy, using new technology to reach worldwide audiences.

But there are many differences among the cardinals over where the next pope should stand on key issues, Allen said.

John Paul II was staunchly conservative on issues of sexuality and the role of women in the church.

But on topics such as war, social justice, and inter-religious dialogue, he was considered centrist, even progressive, Allen said.

There has been speculation about numerous potential candidates, called "papabile," led by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the deacon of the College of Cardinals who delivered the homily at John Paul's funeral.

But some question whether it would be better to choose a pope from Africa or Latin America.

Allen said a cardinal told him the participants hope the conclave will be long enough to make clear there was a full discussion, but brief enough to avoid suggestions of a behind-the-scenes battle.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~