Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Hogmanay, Dad!

We miss you. Never more so than when the clock strikes midnight. This year you can have that Glenlivet you were denied in 2005. Enjoy, wee man!




{These photos are of my dad at a party where he was sneaking himself into photos being taken of other people. Not one for those stupid bunny ears people do in pictures, my Dad felt it more appropriate to add a Wee Fat Scotsman}.

For those of you currently googling the word "Hogmanay," here's a little background:
Nobody knows for sure where the word "Hogmanay" came from. Opinions differ as to whether it originated from the Gaelic oge maidne ("New Morning"), Anglo-Saxon Haleg Monath ("Holy Month"), or Norman French word hoguinané, which was derived from the Old French anguillanneuf ("gift at New Year"). It's also been suggested that it came from the French au gui mener ("lead to the mistletoe") or a Flemish combo hoog ("high" or "great"), min ("love" or "affection") and dag ("day"). Take your pick.

Hogmanay's roots reach back to the anamistic practice of sun and fire worship in the deep mid-Winter. This evolved into the ancient Saturnalia, a great Roman Winter festival, where people celebrated completely free of restraint and inhibition. The Vikings celebrated Yule, which became the twelve days of christmas, or the "Daft Days" as they became known in Scotland. The Winter festival went underground with the Reformation and ensuing years, but re-emerged at the end of the 17th Century. Since then the customs have continued to evolve to the modern day.

What is the symbolism of fire at Hogmanay?
The flame and fire at Hogmanay symbolises many things. The bringing of the light of knowledge from one year to the next, lighting the way into the next uncharted century, putting behind you the darkness past, but carrying forward its sacred flame of hope and enlightenment to a better parish, and in this day, a new fresh year,burning away of the old to make space for the new.

What is First Footing?
Traditionally, it has been held that your new year will be a prosperous one if, at the strike of midnight, a "tall, dark stranger" appears at your door with a lump of coal for the fire, or a cake or coin. In exchange, you offered him food, wine or a wee dram of whisky, or the traditional Het Pint, which is a combination of ale, nutmeg and whisky. It's been sugggested that the fear associated with blond strangers arose from the memory of blond-haired Vikings raping and pillaging Scotland circa 4th to 12th centuries. What's more likely to happen these days is that groups of friends or family get together and do a tour of each others' houses. Each year, a household takes it in turn to provide a meal for the group. In many parts of Scotland gifts or "Hogmanays" are exchanged after the turn of midnight.


For more info, take yourself to http://www.hogmanay.net/



In all the traditions and customs surrounding Hogmanay, one theme is of primary importance: the new year must begin on a happy note, with a clean break from all that may have been bad in the previous year.

With that in mind, The Haggis wishes for all of us a happy, healthy and peaceful new year. Slainte! Cheers! L'Chaim! Skal! Wen Lie! Prosit! Za vashe zdorovye!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Apparently, We're All Full of Sh**



Something else I saw on TV while in my febrile, insomniac state was an infomercial for a product called Dual Action Cleanse. It purports to help you clean all of the caked-on, built-up fecal matter that currently clogs your large intestine. I couldn't figure out if it was a joke or if I was really so very out of it, that I was hallucinating a very creepy guy named "Klee Irwin" with a John Waters/child molester mustache talking about how big his kid's poops were and how he wishes his could be so robust.

For your pleasure, here are two links. One to a hilarious review of the infomercial, the other to a site debunking the product's claims which include instant weight loss, cured skin rashes, and all manner of issues.

TV Heaven

InfomercialWatch

Edwards is in!

Awesome!!
I watched his announcement from New Orleans (in a repeat on C-Span), and I was struck by a few things:

--He’s smart for announcing early, before the New Year’s “announcement rush.”

--The setting and his wardrobe were key elements of his message: a back yard in New Orleans wearing jeans and a shirt, surrounded by kids. He’s the candidate of the people, concerned with poverty, youth development and at ease with himself.

--The press kept trying to get him to say he’d raise taxes. They asked him questions about Katrina response at the federal level, troop levels in Iraq, raising the minimum wage; all of them ended up with some variant of “are you advocating raising taxes for blah blah blah?”

--They kept coming back to his relatively modest background in foreign policy as a potential commander in chief. His answer was fabulous: over the past six years we’ve had potentially the most experienced foreign policy team create policy and then conduct this war in a manner that is a disaster by any measure.

--I loved his emphasis on “being patriotic about something besides a war” and on getting people active in service to the country, even before the next election.

--The kids standing behind him looked really bored.

JohnEdwards.com

Funny, I’ve Always Considered Myself a Dog Person…

And yet I seem to have nine lives.

Which is to say that I am home from the hospital. For, oh, the third time in three weeks. {Note to self: does this mean I only have six dramas left?} Thank god somebody studied medicine is all I can say. And thank god we as a society have not rendered every antibiotic useless through overuse. Although, to be fair, I am using more than my share these days…

So, what to say except thank you for all of your calls and prayers and pep talks over the past week. Big thanks especially to the (suave, dashing? self-referential ;), guest blogger) baby daddy for taking such great dictation. Now if only I could get him to bring me coffee on demand and hold all my calls when I'm meeting with Larry Tate, he'd be the perfect assistant.

In all seriousness, I am not too proud to say that I definitely thought my number was up this time, no immune system and high fevers being what they are. And, reality being what it is, I've definitely won this battle but am still fighting the war (Don Rumsfeld: lose this number!)

I couldn’t even think about eating, and if you know me, you know that this denotes a critical situation. I was at NIH this time, and my beloved hottie nurse of years past was there, perhaps hotter than before. I was unshowered, sweating and freezing alternately, looking like I’d slept under a car in the rain, coughing up nasty stuff, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to care about my appearance. THAT was the gravest sign of all, my total lack of vanity in the presence of bona fide triathlete registered nursing hotness.

I thought about a lot of things as I lay in bed coughing up a lung and pondering my life to date. Yeah yeah, the usual “Have I been a good person?” “Do my friends know I love them?” “What did Bambina eat for dinner?” type stuff. But also the following, which may or may not have been the result of my febrile condition:

1. I’m inclined to think that, contrary to popular opinion, Prince Harry is actually the cuter one. Am I wrong?


2. What message is God sending via hemorrhoids? Heart attacks say “check your arteries.” Breathing difficulties say, “Check your lungs and heart.” Type 2 Diabetes says, “Radically rethink your diet and exercise.” What do hemorrhoids say? Are they akin to mosquitoes in that they serve no purpose other than straight-up affliction?
{I only ask because as I was languishing in my shivering/sweating feverishness I apparently developed one. Thereby proving once and for all that I am indeed 65 years old.}

3. If I were a man for 24 hours, how would I spend that day? Maybe one hour trying on tighty whities, boxers and boxer briefs to see which I preferred, two hours with my new Wii to figure out what all the fuss is about, four hours watching a Jackass/Beavis-Butthead/The Man Show marathon, two hours driving around in my *manual transmission* car (do I know any men with automatics? I don't think so...) and probably the rest of the time...hmm...maybe dreading some woman asking me, "What are you thinking?"

4. Why do doctors ask you to repeat your medical history to them when they are holding your file in their hands? Why do they ask you what your dose of a particular medicine in 2003 was, when I can’t remember what color of underwear I put on today?

5. What exactly is in eggnog anyway? Are there eggs in it? What is nog? If its such a special occasion festive drink why is it in the dairy section of the store in a plastic half gallon milk container?

6. If I get the chance to blog again should I mention the hemorrhoid or would that be in bad taste?

Apparently, YES to both.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Out of Commission for 2006

Hey alll, The (suave, dashing) Baby Daddy is posting this for me since I am once again trapped in a wi-fi-less hospital for the time being.

I feel kind of like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in that scene where "Ned Ryerson" says "o - and watch out for that puddle! It's a DOOZY!" just as Murray steps in it up to his knees.

Same story - definitely stepping in something - different day unforunately. I hope to be out before New Year's Eve (Hogmanay - the biggest day on the Scottish calendar - for those of you in the know); but if not, I will be setting up a wine bar directly beneath my IV pole.

You're invited!

Serioudly, however, I'm hoping and praying for a leave of absence from what appears to be my ongoing Tour of Hospital ERs. If you have a minute, I wouldn't mind having your hopes and prayers added to mine as we head into 2007.

In the meantime, if anyone wants to Guest Post on the Haggis just the say the word and the floor is yours.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Love, E, Your Friendly Neighborhood Haggis

* News flash: this just in: we have received word from the Haggis that the "Hottie Nurse" from last year came by for a visit - all dolled up in his military dress.

Monday, December 25, 2006

My Annus Horribilis

Now that Chrismukkah is over and we are all now in the whole "annual review" stage of things, where VH1 shows nothing but "Best Child Stars of 2006" and the Food Channel shows nothing but "Top Dishes of 2006," and People Magazine does its "Top Ten Celebrity Whatevers of 2006," I'm now officially ready to start the review of 2006 by rushing right to the end where I officially announce, "No more calls, please; we have a winner!"

I'm ready to say, without even consulting the judges, that 2006 has been the worst year of my life. 2007 cannot get here fast enough for me (I say with a modicum of caution on the off chance that 2007 will leave me longing for the halcyon days of 2006 funerals and medical emergencies...)

They say that the first year without someone is the hardest. I think "they" are right; which is not to say that Year Two is a picnic. But part of me just wants it to be February 21, 2007 so I can stop having First Chanukahs Without My Dad, First Thanksgivings Without My Dad, First Cheeseburgers Since My Dad Passed. The other part of me knows that making it through December 31st, 2006 will be the hardest day of all, worse maybe than even his birthday. As I've noted in these pages before, Scottish people love New Years Eve. It's called Hogmanay and it is a wild scene of crazy whiskey-fueled nonsense, even for grown-ups with kids (except for my mom who had one screwdriver max). Every NY Eve, no matter where we were in the world, we would call my parents and yell, "HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Here's tae us wha's like us!" into the phone. It was a call we never failed to make, no matter what the time difference between our global location and my parents' house, and no matter how much we maybe didn't feel at the moment like making it.

This year I'll still make the call, if my mom stays up. But it won't (obviously) be the same. Although I suppose that is what new years are for; to mark time and give you the conscious opportunity to do things differently, better, more lovingly. I'll never again take that call for granted, and never again be annoyed that my family has this "dumb" midnight tradition.

The other thing I won't take for granted is my health. Not that I've been smokin', drinkin' and going to tanning booths these past few months, but when I've been feeling healthy I've been a little too eager to stay up late working when I really should sleep, or just in general been complacent about the realities of living with a chronic disease, ie, even if you're having a good week, you are not normal and can't live/work/drive yourself like someone who is, no matter how much compartmentalizing (see previous post!) you do.

These days, every day I'm not hanging out in an emergency room or a hospital bed, I'm effing grateful. I'm hoping this roller coaster of health drama ends soon, but I'm also hoping that I never lose the feeling I have as I write this of being so damn appreciative of the health I do have right now. I'm also trying to not carry too much anxiety about my health around while I am feeling good. I think my anxiety is a result of the fact that my health dramas of late have involved low platelets, which of course means spontaneous bleeding. As you can imagine, there is no health condition more alarming, perhaps, than simply bleeding unexpectedly and randomly from {pick which body part}, and being unable to make it stop. It's the worst kind of feeling, and I would argue kind of psychically damaging, to bleed randomly and profusely when you least expect to. The other night at GW I was reflecting as I sat bleeding on the bed sheets while waiting for my emergency platelet transfusion, that this is not how God or nature intended us to live. We're not supposed to watch ourselves bleed, we're not supposed to hang out for a few hours bleeding till someone puts a needle in us, which makes us bleed out more, so we can get the things that finally at long last stop us bleeding.

But we ARE supposed to take the life we've been given and, quite simply, live it as best we can. Yes, 2006 is the worst year of my life. But I am lucky. Why? Because I turned 34 before experiencing The Worst Year of My Life. I know several people in my social circle alone who would gladly trade places with me to have lost a parent after age 12 or 20, to have a scary disease after age 12 or 20, to have friends and family who help me navigate the fear and heartache that accompany those things.

Call me delusional if you will, but I still feel lucky as we head into 2007.

Sanguine, even. ;)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas from DC!



I took this photo on the way home from a friend's Christmas Eve party, just before settling in for a Jewish Christmas Eve: movie on Netflix and Chinese food with fellow Members of the Tribe.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Crisis du Jour at GW Hospital

I haven't posted because I ended up spending ANOTHER night in the hospital unexpectedly. I've started telling people when they say, "How are you doing?" that "You know me; I lurch from crisis to crisis, then get up in the morning and get on with life."

This is a photo of me yesterday. (ie, Lurching from crisis to crisis)


Today we threw a birthday party for my mom, got haircuts, walked around Georgetown and will end the day at the park. (ie, Getting on with life)

My goal for Christmas is to avoid any kind of medical drama that will put me in a local hospital (rather than Hopkins) while all the doctors are on vacation, leaving me to medical staff who ask (as they did at GW, where that photo was taken) whether I'm going to get "iron supplements" for my aplastic anemia. I get that the average person doesn't know that aplastic anemia is not actually anemia, but bone marrow failure. But to work in the hematology/oncology wing of a hospital where they are doing transplants and to never have heard of it!?? It's rare, but not so insanely rare that someone who went to medical or nursing school wouldn't have heard of it...and certainly wouldn't ask if iron pills might help (they're quite toxic and potentially deadly to someone getting lots of transfusions).

Like I said, just let me get through December 25th without the need for an ER visit. I'm tired of doing Hematology Revision 101 with people who ought to know better, while bleeding or getting stuck with 100 needles or feeling like crap.

Which brings me to the next photo from GW. Yes, I'm naming names because this is an outrage. Here is the sign that hangs everywhere at The George Washington University Hospital, healthcare provider to Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney and Senator Johnson:



Wow. Now I have seen it all. It's now my job ("it's everyone's responsibility!) to make sure my healthcare provider has washed his or her hands before touching me. Wow. How sad a statement is this on the state of health care in America that it's now not considered mandatory--like Lose Your Job mandatory--for healthcare workers to wash their damn hands between patients?!! And now I'm supposed to ask?!! Like why don't we all just ask the airline pilot on our flight if he's had some beers? Why not ask our teachers if they can read? Why not make it "everyone's responsibility" to make sure the firefighters have packed their hoses on the truck? Holy mother of g-d!

When I saw that sign I was like, "get me the eff out of this hospital!" Like now they have to remind their staff to wash their hands after peeing or touching a sick person, like they work at an Applebees rather than with the health and welfare of other humans? Or, more accurately, *I'm* supposed to remind their staff to do so?!

Like I said, just get me through the 25th so I can get to place where they consider basic hygiene to be so basic as to not require either signs or patient policing of medical staff.

Good luck, Senator Johnson!! I hope someone on his staff makes sure GW isn't giving him iron pills with unwashed hands for his neurological issue...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reuters Top Ten = WTF?!?

According to Reuters.com, these are the Top Ten Most Read Stories of 2006. I'm not joking:

1. Bush chides father for election remarks
2. Iran's Hizbollah says ready to attack US, Israel
3. IKEA billionaire founder proud to be frugal at 80
4. Miss Puerto Rico crowned Miss Universe, collapses
5. CBS chief says regrets unceremonious Rather exit
6. Southern San Andreas fault waiting to explode: report
7. Chavez vows to beat the 'devil'
8. Death-row prisoner gets pregnant in solitary
9. American radio hangs up on Madonna
10. Mel campaigns for new movie, against war in Iraq

Was a piece on the founder of IKEA really the Third Most Read Story on Reuters.com in 2006? Did more people really read about Miss Puerto Rico getting the vapors than about Hugo Chavez's pissing match with George Bush?

On the positive side of the equation, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and (thank you God) Tom Cruise/Katie "Kate Cruise" Holmes are nowhere in sight. But on the negative, did more people care to read about Madonna's lack of airplay in the US than about troop levels in Iraq? Than about the genocide in Darfur? Than about a plot to blow some British Airways planes out of the sky?

Wow. It would be interesting to see what some other news outlets had for their top ten, because I really want to believe that a majority of people wouldn't rather read about Mel Gibson's new movie than about...hell, anything else even remotely important.

No Soup For You Today

I swear I'll post after today. Just gotta do one more day of actual work and then I'm all yours to discuss:

1. My favorite line in any Christmas song ever: The Beach Boys "Merry Christmas Baby," wherein they sing most profoundly: "Christmas comes this time each year.."

That Brian Wilson. What a philosopher.

2. My "love" for a cappella groups, especially those performing in Union Station under the enormous Norway Tree (a huge tree covered in Norwegian and US flags, and apparently a gift from the Nordmennene of Norge?). I love a cappella groups for the studied earnestness they bring to every song, even one like Sleigh Ride, which is the perfect example of a truly fun Christmas song. In the hands of the average a cappella group, however, it is reduced to a Star Search audition, replete with wide fake smiles, faux hand gestures and Rachael Ray-inspired "festiveness" that makes you want to "unseasonally greet" the next effing amateur singer who thinks it's charming to actually yell "Yoo HOO!!" after the line, "outside the snow is falling and friends are calling yoo hoo..." (Much like the people who yell 'Dum Dum Duuummmm!' whenever Neil Diamond sings "Sweeet Car-oh-line..{Dum Dum Dum!} good times never seemed so good {yelling: So good! so Good!}) Although I can forgive the Diamond thing if everyone present is drunk or 20 years old or both.

3. The inability to find any Chanukah items after the first night of Chanukah. We ran out of candles today, so I was on a mission from Judah Maccabee (oh okay, Bambina actually) to get some more before sundown. I will spare you the number of stores I went to (5) only to find all of these bargain bins full of...matzo! Helloooo?! We only eat matzo at Passover, ie, around Easter, ie, in the SPRING! Why did you purchase a gross of matzo for Chanukah? Virginia grocery stores really should hire some Jews, for heaven's sake. Regardless, I asked at every store, Target included, and they were all like, "oh well we took it all down; it was last week, right?" YEAH, but it's EIGHT NIGHTS, so we're still in it. And I need some candles. "Oh, well, I think we've got some napkins and stuff left but I'm pretty sure all the other stuff is gone." "What, did you have a mad rush of Jews to clear the shelves of your exactly 15 total boxes of candles? Or was I too busy eating matzo to get here on time?"

Which brings me to my annual rant. Call it my "assault on Christmas" if you will. I'm the FIRST person to be all excited about Christmas parties, Christmas dinners, Christmas presents for my neice, Bambina's friends and my god-daughter. I'm so there for you. I don't complain about the trees; in fact I like them. I don't correct you if you say "Merry Christmas" because I think you're being polite and that's nice, whereas correcting someone who offers you a well-intentioned greeting is rude. I don't even get wiggy when trying to explain to someone that Bambina will not be sitting on Santa's lap for a photo (no matter that person's protestations that "it's not religious") simply because he's part of a tradition that is not ours, religious or not. And let's be honest, it's not like Santa shows up in May. He's directly related to Christmas, whether that word makes you think of the Divino Nino Jesus or El Hombre Rojo Gordo con Barba Blanca. And we don't do Christmas, any more than you light candles for Diwali, make food for El Dia de los Muertos, or have your son go through some African tribal manhood ritual--simply because they are not part of your tradition. Which means we don't do Santa; and we're okay with that.

All I'm asking is if someone at any store in the metro DC area could--if not actually hire a Jew around the holidays--at least call me for a 10 minute primer on customer service for people who celebrate holidays other than Christmas. You can put our stuff right next to the Christmas decorations; I don't care. Just at least have some stuff! As it stands, the 1 store that had even one single Chanukah item (Target) had them clear across the store from the "seasonal" department in what I called under my breath "the Jewish corner." One shelf. Picked over paper products. A chintzy menorah--for $30 bucks no less! And three rolls of really tacky wrapping paper.

Then I remembered the meaning of the Miracle of this Festival of Lights: they only had enough oil to burn the menorah for one night, but it miraculously burned for 8 nights. And I was inspired to find a solution to my no-candle conundrum.

That solution? The only one possible with the limited supplies on hand.

The only issue being that matzo smells terrible when burned...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mom!


Keep 'em comin' you crazy kid!

Compartmentalize This

I think we've all heard the news from mental health professionals that "compartmentalized" living is not healthy; that we are supposed to be whole people who bring our essential selves to every interaction rather than being one person in one situation and another in another. We've also heard the litany of examples of people who compartmentalize and who therefore represent the worst of human nature: Ted Kennedy, capable and committed senator, terrible husband and father. Bing Crosby, beloved entertainer, apparently mean and semi-violent husband and father. Bill Clinton, incredibly intelligent man and President, terrible husband.

Well folks, I'm here to extol the virtues of compartmentalized living. Because I've just come to the conclusion that, for people with a chronic disease, it's the only damn way you can get out of bed in the morning.

The past week is a case in point. Last Sunday I was thinking I'd be tits-up by Monday, lying in the hospital with god-knows-what infections. Tuesday I was home but worn out. Wednesday I was on the phone with a client for 2 hours on a project. Friday I was back at Hopkins for follow-up. Monday I was at a meeting with my biggest client, a major organization I guarantee you have heard of.

Oh...did I mention my mouth started bleeding on my way to said huge client? Yup. Platelets, shmatelets. I was walking down the street toward the building and started to get that horrible metallic taste of blood in my mouth. One part of me (the non-compartmentalized, whole part) thought, "Oh no! I'll have to call and cancel again! But I already had to cancel last week for being in the hospital!." The part of me that lives separately from the part that is sick said, "Stuff some goddamned gauze in there, don't smile too widely and get to the damn meeting, blondie." Which I did.

Which I rocked.

Which made me think, on my victorious walk back to the metro to head home, that this whole notion of being your whole self all the time is perhaps an idea created by people who have no issues or challenges from which they sometimes need to hide. If I were to let the sick girl make all my decisions, I'd never leave the house. I'd give up on any attempt at parenting or working, and I'd probably never shower or say hi to anyone. It is only when I tell the sick girl to shut her cakehole and let the Living Person With a Job and a Kid and Life to Live (who happens to have slackdaddy bone marrow) go about her business that I really, truly enjoy my life. It is only when I decide, firmly and resolvedly, that I am a person who happens to be a wee bit sick some days--rather than a sick person who sometimes has days that don't suck--that I feel like I'm the person I recognize as myself. And I just don't believe that that is unhealthy--compartmentalized though it may be.

So, just for today, if there is something you're carrying around, some burden you can't seem to lay down, something stopping you from being the person you really believe you are or should be--put it aside. Pretend it's not there, just for today. Do and say everything you'd do or say if that burden were not on your mind and heart. Be the happy, fun, cup-is-half-full person you'd be if that burden were not on your mind and heart. Try it for one day. See if you like it. And then see if maybe you can't find a way to make that burden something you live around, rather than something that keeps you from living.

And don't worry what the TV psychologists say. Anyone who can choose to feel lucky, choose to be life-affirming, choose to follow their dreams no matter the obstacles, is better off than someone who is always authentically him or herself, depressing schmuck though s/he may be.

Ewan Sweet Ewan


Ewan McGregor at the premiere of his new movie.

It's called Miss Potter

He sooooo wants me.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Twas the Week Before Christmas


I swear I'll write more soon.

'Tis the week before Christmas and all through my bidness
Clients are calling, needing someone to witness.
Can you come to this meeting? Will you come share my hell?
Can you talk to the director before we leave for Noel?


So I've been busy, which is good for business but bad for blogging. Luckily my shiftlessness will return just in time for Christmas--when I'll be free and YOU'LL be busy!

Day of Infamy: E Agrees With Peggy Noonan

Peggy Noonan wrote a piece on Barack Obama in last Friday's WSJ. It discusses whether the fascination about, and very early support for, Senator Obama smacks of a certain messianic need in the life of our country for someone to get us back on track. Someone about whom we all self-admittedly know very little, whose public record is brief, and who has said himself that people project their hopes onto him.

I'm not going on record as being anti-Obama. I think I'm just trying to slow down the juggernaut before the wheels fall off. I'm just saying that if he's really the guy, he'll really be the guy a year from now without me throwing my underwear at him right out of the gate.

Read the article here: WSJ.com

The First Lady Must Have Drunk a Fifth

I was just looking at memeorandum.com, where I saw the following two separate headlines, one above the other:

Laura Bush Pleads for Positive Media Coverage from Iraq

3 GIs killed, 53 Bodies found — Sunnis, Sadr Boycott 'Reconciliation' Conference


Oh well, Mrs. Bush. As the Rolling Stones once said: "You can't always get what you want..."

Richardson in the Ring?

Does anyone else see this as perhaps an opening move in a putative Richardson run for President in 2008?

From MyDD:
Richardson Attacks McCain

by Matt Stoller, Sat Dec 16, 2006 at 01:01:21 PM EST
We can bitch all we want about St. John McCain, but it's going to take bigger guns than bloggers to point out just how insane he really is. Bill Richardson, a man who has serious foreign policy credentials, is at least willing to criticize John McCain.

"The leading advocate for escalating the war is Senator John McCain. I have served with John in Congress and I respect him. But John McCain is wrong, dead wrong to think that we can solve Iraq's political crisis through military escalation."

Chipping away at McCain's credibility is critical to beating him in 2008. I don't know exactly how to do that. From my conversations with various thoughtful insider-types, they don't really know either. Many of them are trying to figure out a way to distance themselves from the media fetishization of this guy. The torture bill really destroyed his reputation among the civil rights crowd, and a lot of insiders now feel betrayed by McCain who previously had no reason to go after him.

I think we're starting to see a willingness to criticize him on policy grounds, as Richardson does, though tone matters and a gradual escalation of rhetoric will be necessary to genuinely undercut his credibility. Still, this is encouraging.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Chanukah!



Yeah. It started tonight.
Yippeee!

Yuletide Greetings from Fluffy!


Received a holiday card in the mail from an acquaintance yesterday that I now feel terribly guilty for thinking was a joke.

It was one of those rectangular kodakgallery photo cards with the following photos:

1. Sender's house all lit up for the holidays, a la Danny DeVito's recent movie wherein he wants his house to be seen from space.
2. One tabby cat with a santa hat on.
3. One cat snuggled up under the tree.
4. Another cat on a daybed featuring faux Laura Ashley holly/berries cushions and draping.

The inscription? Merry Christmas from (names changed) "Bonnie, Stuart, Fluffy, Mr. Nibbles and Lil Whiskers!!!" Three exclamation points included. Was I wrong to think this was a humorous poke at cheesy people who can't wait to put their pets in seasonal attire? Does anyone think this is really real?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rosie O'Donnell Wants It Both Ways

I guess I'm just a wee bit stunned that in 2006 someone still exists who doesn't just know in their bones that "ching chong" MIGHT be offensive? Especially someone who is all about being treated appropriately by others, like our good friend Rosie.


From People Magazine:
One-time "Queen of Nice" Rosie O'Donnell is out to regain her crown. On The View on Thursday, O'Donnell addressed her now-infamous attempt at humor by speaking in mock Chinese, and made a formal, on-camera apology. After running a clip of the offending segment, which originally ran Dec. 5, she said, "This apparently was very offensive to a lot of Asian people. So I asked Judy, who's Asian and works here in our hair and makeup department. I said, 'Was it offensive to you?' And she said, 'Well, kinda. When I was a kid people did tease me by saying ching-chong.'

"So apparently 'ching-chong,' unbeknownst to me, is a very offensive way to make fun, quote-unquote, or mock, Asian accents. Some people have told me it's as bad as the n-word. I was like, really? I didn't know that."

O'Donnell said that her joke was "never intended to hurt anyone, and I'm sorry for those people who felt hurt or were teased on the playground," but added that in the future, "there's a good chance that I'll do something like that again ... Not on purpose."

The controversy began when O'Donnell commented on a visit to the ABC morning show by a seemingly inebriated Danny DeVito, saying, "The fact is that it's news all over the world. That you know, you can imagine in China it's like: 'Ching chong. Danny DeVito, ching chong, chong, chong, chong. Drunk. The View. Ching chong.' "

The joke outraged many, including the group UNITY: Journalists of Color, which represents more than 10,000 journalists, and New York City councilman John C. Liu, who sent a letter to View executive producer Barbara Walters, demanding an apology.

Last weekend, O'Donnell's rep, Cindi Berger, said in a statement: "She's a comedian in addition to being a talk show co-host. I certainly hope that one day they will be able to grasp her humor."


Thanks, Cindi! I'm a comedian too! So I hope someday Rosie will be able to grasp my humor when I jokingly use derogatory words for lesbians on national TV! I'm sure she won't be AT ALL offended, right? She'll just need to "grasp my humor," right? "I had no idea that "r*gmuncher Rosie" would be offensive to lesbians, their kids, their families, and gosh I really hope that no one who thinks that humans who happen to be lesbian can be discussed in such a reductive manner, as if all they are about as people is how they have sex. You know, kind of like more than a billion humans who speak the most spoken language in the world, being reduced to 'ching chong Danny Devito'?"

Findings of the Haggis Study Group

The Haggis Study Group was created to investigate, report and recommend strategies and tactics for thinking about the Iraq Study Group's report. Our Chairs, Alexander Haiggis and George "Star Spangled" Schulz, have both advised me that I should continue my current "cut and run" policy regarding commentary on the Iraq Study Group recommendations. That is to say, that I will continue to firmly follow my conviction that people who do not know what they are talking about, for whatever reasons, should refuse to be drawn into hypotheticals requiring aforementioned subject matter knowledge.

Or, to put it more plainly, let's say I was in the hospital as a result of being shot by Dick Cheney. Let's say, as a result of said hospital stay, my bandwidth for reading reports about quagmires, authored by former employees of the father whose son is the creator, producer and director of said quagmire, became quite limited. One would hope that the hospital shootee would follow her self-proclaimed "Haggis Doctrine:" If you haven't mastered the material, shut your cakehole.

Which is what I plan to do.

You're Welcome!

If you want more on it, go here and here:
The-Vigil

Baseball Crank

World's Tallest Man Saves Dolphins

That headline makes you think that something dirty or nefarious or play-on-wordy actually took place. Like, did a large player save the Miami football team's bacon in a recent game? Did someone take a Parade Magazine-worthy photo of some cute critter and put this curious tagline on it? Did the person mean "world's tallest" as in "America's tallest" in the same way we pronounce the Denver Broncos World Champions after the Super Bowl even when I KNOW they haven't played against any teams from Dubai or Italy? Or how we have the World Series, when I've yet to see a Japanese team on the play list? Like how we throw around the phrase "world champion scrapbooker" or whatever in the sense of "because no other countries give a cr*p."

What makes this article funny to me is that the link genuinely does just tell you the story of how the world's tallest man saved dolphins. Go Figure.
BBC.co.uk

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm Outta Here!

So I’m finally coming home from the hospital! Good news.

Bad news? Well, it is a trifecta:

1. I found out just this AM that my hottie hematologist has been at a conference, so I will not cap my delightful stay here with a hottie sighting. Boo.

2. Not having the information outlined in #1, I got myself up and showered every day while feeling like I’d slept under a car. With diarrhea. And bad food. And all for naught. I should have stayed gross and funky for three days.

3. I’ve gained weight while here. While not eating, crapping my pants and generally feeling like hell, I managed to gain weight. I’m assured it’s a result of the, say, ten bags of saline they gave me, and that it will dissipate. So—good news, perhaps. Except that I don’t want to picture how that “dissipation” will occur.

One of the doctors I did see a few times was a really lovely physician named some variant of “Dylan Rosenberg,” “Taylor Weinstein,” or “Bradley Lowenstein.” I love when I meet Dylan Rosenbergs because they are invariably the offspring of a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, in both looks and nomenclature. I can always picture the dialogue that went on back in 1971: “I want to name him Dovid after my grandfather, or at least David.” “Sweetie, we are not having a Dovid/David Rosenberg; we’re just not. These are the 70’s; we don’t want to ethnicize him too much. Let’s compromise: how about Dylan?” Which his how Tzvi became Taylor and Baruch became Brad.

Anyway, Dr. Dylan Rosenberg sent me on my way with a smile, a request to come back on Friday for blood counts…and antibiotic pills, I kid you not, the size of chicken McNuggets.

One final note from my stay, for your personal edification and protection. Should a medical professional tell you they need to do a “lavage” or a “suction” of your “nasopharyngeal” region, run like hell, my friend. Holy mother of god. The only way I can describe this procedure is to characterize it as “a bone marrow aspiration of the nose.” The exquisite torture of a bone marrow aspiration is that the bone marrow is in a vacuum; when the needle pierces it and sucks out some marrow, it is introducing suction to an area of the body not designed for that action. Hence, the horrifying, weird, bizarre kind of pain that ensues. It doesn’t “hurt” so much as it feels like the combination of having bone sucked out while the instrument doing the sucking is also scratching itself down a chalkboard while chewing on tin foil while listening to something at super high frequency while vomiting. It’s not “pain” so much as an overwhelmingly negative sensory onslaught that combines all of the things you should by all accounts never endure at one time and manage to stay sane.

Hence, the “bone marrow aspiration of the nose.” When I say “nose,” mind you, I don’t mean the nose as we all understand it. I mean “the nose” as in the part of your nasal cavity that goes under your eyes, into your throat, and seemingly up into your brain. I mean the part that, when a rubber tube is shoved into it and its plugged-in-to-the-wall-socket electric suction component starts up, you truly believe your sinuses, retinas, and indeed your cerebrum and cerebellum are being sucked out through your nostril. It is the most exquisite kind of “discomfort” (as the nurse described it) that I have recently had the pleasure to experience. So, again with the good news, I didn’t have a sinus or “nasopharyngeal” infection. The bad news being that I will never again experience the bliss of thinking that my nose stops where my knuckle starts.

And with that characteristic nose picking reference, I will simply say: “It’s good to be back.”

Thanks for the love, y’all. I appreciate it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Famous Famous Last Last Words

Did I say Monday? I meant Tuesday. Or so I found out today. The good news is that my raging temperature is gone and I am now actually feeling like eating, even if it means having hospital food.

Seriously, I think the rock-star status of the physicians is in direct inverse proportion to the heinousness of the culinary offerings. Truly terrible stuff. And remember that I grew up eating Scottish food, so I know from terrible stuff.

My favorite item so far? The "vegetable medley with broiled red potatoes." Sounds nice, which is why I selected it. What I got? Carrot coins, cut-up broccoli STEMS (not a floret/nary a wee tree in the bunch), and boiled-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives potatoes. Yummy. Along with "lemon glazed chicken" that I had not ordered. They must have figured I'd erred in not selecting an "entree" item, never imagining that I'd sooner drink Boost than eat institutionally-prepared Salisbury steak.

Anyhoo. I'm off back to my room. Why? A) Because this is a public computer so I've got to share, B) I've got to go bleach my hands from using a public computer, and C) I've been on massive antibiotics for about 48 hours, so my, um, er, "digestive tract" is playing "fast and loose." KnowhutI'msayin?

Good thing I didn't have the Salisbury steak...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Famous Last Words

That whole thing about being home from the hospital? Yeah. Never mind. I'm in till Monday afternoon. I have a wee bit of pneumonia, which I think is akin to being a little bit pregnant...

Check back Monday night for a full report of my shenanigans in Baltimore.

Word.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It’s Easy to Be Zen When You’re Clueless

Had a wee bit of a medical drama this AM when I was almost admitted to the hospital. I’d gone for a routine transfusion, wasn’t feeling great but figured who would be at 7am in 20 degree weather? Turns out my temperature was 101, which is no big deal necessarily to the average person but is a whole lot of deal to those of us lacking in the white cell department.

My first sign that something was wrong was the staff member’s quizzical look at me, then back to the readout saying 38.7, then back at me, then back to the readout. He asked, “are you feeling okay?” I said, “As good as anyone is at 7am, I suppose…” He went, got the nurse, who got the tech, who got my blood cultured, who got my chest x-rayed, who got me to pee in a cup.

First the x-ray. They had already put the IV in my arm so I only had real use of one hand. Now, as much of a party girl as some of you may give me credit for, I never did master the ancient art of one-handed bra removal. I did ace the "take bra off without removing shirt by unhooking and pulling through a sleeve" maneuver. But I never did spend the time I should have on the one-handed bra thing, and today I paid the price. I never thought I'd ever hear myself say, "Can you take my bra off for me?" without, of course, including the second part of the sentence, "because I don't want to spill my gin and tonic, dahling." So there I was in the radiology department with the poor (thank you god, female) x-ray tech trying to jimmy my bra off under my fitted shirt while not pulling my IV out. Double embarrassment that I was wearing my B-team bra, being that I woke up and rolled out of the house at 6am on a Saturday. Who's gonna see my skivvies, I derisively asked myself as I made the conscious decision to not root around in the dark for the appropriate foundation undergarments.

Now onto the urine. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the pleasure of discussing your urine with a total stranger, but let me share how my conversation went. Keep in mind that the tech I was talking with looks like Forrest Whitaker and talks like Forrest Gump. A really lovely man who does really excellent work and who really cares about his patients. But not necessarily my first choice as a member of “E's Urine Roundtable.”


You haven't lived till a large man has told you to be sure to "wipe from front to back with the towelette inside this bag." So I complied. I then brought out the urine cup and he said, “Hmm..that looks very cloudy.” Me: “Oh. Is that bad?” Forrest: "Not necessarily. But it’s not necessarily good either.” Me: “Oh. Okay.” Forrest: “My momma always told me that life is like a plastic cup of urine…”

I’m lying about that last part.

Anyway, I’m home now, being that my temp came down by 472 Kelvin. But not before both Forrest and the nurse had asked me why I was so calm when they told me that my temperature was considered very dangerous and that I’d need to be admitted stat. I said something like, “Well, I figure what happens happens, so I just do what I’m told and worry about it later.” But the real truth is less Tibetan monk and more American idiot:

I don’t know the conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit, so 38.7 degrees celsius meant as much to me as 313 Kelvin or 500 Rankine. They could have told me that my urine itself was twelve trillion centigrade and I would have given a blank stare and said, "Oh. Okay. Is that because I didn't wipe right?"

Friday, December 08, 2006

Swank You Very Much!



If you haven't already heard the fantastic works of Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine, you need to click here RichardCheese.com, click on Music Bar, and listen to "swankified" versions of songs like Baby Got Back, Ice Ice Baby, Gin and Juice, and his new original tune called Christmas in Las Vegas.

Stocking stuffer for a kicky loved one? Funny year-round cocktail party music? Fun listening regardless? All I know is that I LOVE his version of Christmastime Is Here (the Peanuts song) because he starts it with "Gut Yontiff, Ladies and Gentlemen..." (That's Yiddish for "Good Holiday").

Feliz Navidad, you cool cats.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hiro Nakamura: My Hero


If you have not already started watching Heroes on NBC on Monday nights, you need to get in the game. It's awesome. It's the one show that I will actually tell people I "am busy" to avoid socializing during its airing. Seriously. The story is told comic book style, with a little about each character at a time, all for the purposes of bringing all the stories together.

It's so awesome that every time it goes to commercial I say out loud, "I Love this show!" Followed up with, "I swear I'll stop doing that soon, but I can't help it because...I really love this show!"

My favorite hero (each of the characters has a different super power that he or she is just starting to recognize, understand and make sense of) is Hiro Nakamura, the time stopper. His character is sweet but with a cool underlying strength about him. I wish I could properly do this show justice, but instead I'll just send you to NBC's official site: Heroes

774 Days and Counting

My Big Bro and SIL got me the most uplifting and yet heart-rending gift for Chanukah:


It would be hilariously funny if only he hadn't actually said this stuff:

"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."

"Arbolist...look up the word. I don't know, maybe I made it up. Anyway, it's an arbo-tree-ist, somebody who knows about trees."

"We need an energy bill that encourages consumption."


Only 774 days left...

Degrees of Charity

You may recall that last year we inaugurated the new family tradition that on the third night of Chanukah Bambina would receive no gifts. Instead our family will GIVE a gift to someone else. It is so important to me that she learn the lesson of generosity. But more importantly, I want her to learn that she is lucky; that not everyone has all of her opportunities, that life is not fair to everyone, and that no matter how seemingly little we can give, we ought to give it simply because it is the right thing to do. How else to keep her perspective in the wave of presents that arrive at this time of year (for kids of all faiths)?

Anyway, as I was researching potential charities, I just kept coming back to the DC Central Kitchen

Here's why:

According to the sage Maimonides, there are eight degrees in the giving of charity, each one higher than the other:

8. When donations are given grudgingly, reluctantly or with regret.

7. When you give less than you should, but cheerfully or graciously.

6. When you give what you should but only upon being asked.

5. When you give without being asked.

4. When you give without knowing whom you are giving to, but the recipient is aware of your identity.

3. When you give without knowing the recipient's identity, and vice versa.

2. When you give anonymously.

1. When you make someone self-supporting, through a gift, or by extending a suitable interest-free loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to be dependent on others.

I love these degrees because they really help me to focus on the important question of holiday giving, which is: where can my gift do the most good to make someone self-supporting? I also love these degrees because they encourage charity at any level. They don't require you to achieve the highest form in order to give. Instead, they say that all are honorable and worthwhile and therefore should be easy to achieve. In short, Maimonides is saying: Just Give; however you do it, just do it. And even if you start giving reluctantly, you will soon find the joy in giving when asked, then without being asked, etc.

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with giving a gift and getting recognition. We do it in memory or honor of people all the time. There's nothing wrong with the two parties knowing each other, in the cases where you might sponsor a child's education in Kenya, for example. But the greatest gift you can give is to make someone self-supporting so that she will never again need charity.

All of which, as I said, keeps bringing me back to the DC Central Kitchen. It's the kind of organization that accomplishes that highest level of charity that allows a person to earn respect and dignity by earning a paycheck. They certainly do give meals to those who are hungry, but they also train men and women for food service jobs, they run a fabulous catering service called Fresh Start which employs graduates of the culinary training program and which makes--I swear to you--absolutely amazing party food for individuals and organizations like the Smithsonian. The Kitchen also has a food recycling program, a Campus Kitchens project, and...what else can I say?...they simply take the notion of ending hunger seriously. The director, Robert Egger, once said at a conference I attended: If all I'm doing in ten years is serving food to the same people every day, then I will have failed. Our goal is to end hunger, and that means getting men and women prepared to have jobs, paychecks, and opportunities to succeed.

Amen.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

License to Ill

Just for kicks I've started reading all the early James Bond novels, starting with From Russia With Love.

Now, I always knew that the Bond series was sexist and all British-Empire-Long-To-Reign-Over-Us-Happy-and-Glorious in theme. I got that. But have you read the books? The actual prose? Ian Fleming's writing is BEYOND sexist and BEYOND racist.

I was reading the book on the plane and was floored by references to how one guy chained a naked woman under his table and fed her scraps until she married him, and how Bond threatens to put a woman over his knee and spank her, how every pseudo-forced sexual encounter turns into ecstasy for the very lucky girl involved, and how, in describing the people in the North African nation where most of the story occurs, he paints a picture of shiftiness, savagery, stupidity, and laziness. And those were the characters HELPING Bond!

I was stunned. And mad. If he were alive, I'd have a mind to put Ian over my knee and give him a good spanking. Before I chained him naked to my table and yelled "Say my name, b**ch!!" until he relents. I figure, he's so pompous and supercilious and culturally imperialistic with his beady English eyes and his pasty white skin, that disdain and threatened violence would be the only thing he'd understand. It's in his blood, poor savage b**tard.

But Ian is not alive. So all I can do is stop reading the books, go directly to Casino Royale, and let the thought of becoming the meat between a Daniel Craig-Sean Connery sandwich take my mind off Fleming's disgusting objectification of women...

Monday, December 04, 2006

WWJD: What Would Jeff Do?

By now you've heard the earth-shattering news that Greg "The Yellow One" Page is leaving The Wiggles for health reasons. No, not MENTAL health reasons, although I can certainly sympathize with anyone who must sing "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy" 988 times in one year. Although, I take that back. He's richer than Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe combined, and I'm genetically unable to offer sympathy to people in certain tax brackets for any reason.

So no more Greg Wiggle. His understudy Sam will be taking over, which begs the question of whether he will become "Sam Wiggle" or whether they'll keep calling him Greg. Or will they do a Charlie's Angels type thing where Jill Munroe's cousin Kris Munroe comes to visit and voila! Hello, Cheryl Ladd, buh-bye Farrah Fawcett? Or was that Chrissy Snow's cousin Powdery Snow visiting and voila! Hello Jennilee Harrison, buh-bye Suzanne Somers? Or when Van Halen just kept firing singers till they couldn't even hire Clay Aiken? Or when Sandy Duncan moved in when Valerie Harper moved out of The Hogan Family/Valerie's Family? Or maybe it will be more like when Derwood Stevens was, like, three different guys in the space of 4 seasons of Bewitched?

I'm getting some health issues just trying to figure it all out.

Good thing Bambina is all about Jeff. About whom, I might add: someone asked whether Bambina liked him because he's Asian. I was like, "Um, no. It's because he wears a purple shirt. If Dolph "Viking Poster Child" Lundgren wore a purple shirt she'd be all into him too, Aryan credentials notwithstanding."

Okay, I didn't actually use the word "notwithstanding." I think I said something more like "Duh." Point being that purple is where it's at right now. I've spent approximately the GDP of the Federated States of Micronesia on new purple shirts in an attempt to get her to stop wearing this one, not-actually-cute purple shirt she wears night and day, day and night, every single day, even under the still-ubiquitous puppy costume. I have grown to hate that shirt, so large is its presence in her pantheon of Important Things.

Today I think we had a breakthrough. I explained to her that Jeff "The Purple One" Wiggle does indeed wear a purple shirt all the time, but it's not the same shirt every time. See? In that photo he's a cowboy! He's wearing a purple (can anyone say "gay bar"?!) shirt with tassles and (oh dear god I never noticed this before) purple chaps. See when he's in bed and we're singing "Wake Up Jeff!" He's wearing a purple nightgown! See him pretending to be an opera singer? Purple tuxedo shirt! Therefore, we must Do What Jeff Would Do. And that means we will now wear THIS purple shirt with long sleeves, pink stripes, and a pink heart in the middle. Trust me. It's still purple. And Jeff would approve.

Success! She excitedly put on the shirt, clapped her approval, smiled and giggled at her "Jeff nighttime shirt," all while I managed to follow two separate--but equally necessary--mental tracks: one to plot the destruction of the original purple shirt, and the other to ensure the health and safety of Jeff Wiggle till Bambina is in college.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Jet Blue: So D*mn Nice

Had a hellish flight experience this weekend due to weather conditions. What was supposed to be a one and a half hour flight turned into a ten hour ordeal, five of which were spent sitting on a plane on the tarmac.

Kill me now. No, really.

I was starting to get a little flippy right around Hour Four because when I made the decision to travel, white counts notwithstanding, I justified it on the basis of "oh for god's sake; it's only a 1 1/2 hour duration on the flying germ/recirculating oxygen aircraft." So as it approached that fourth hour in the plane I was starting to imagine myself in a scene from the movie Outbreak. I wore a surgical mask the entire time on the plane, but those babies only last about an hour then you have to get a new one. Luckily I was so rushed when I left the house that I just threw the whole bag of ten into my purse. I was never so grateful for sloppy, rushed packing than when the guy two rows in front of me sneezed about 6 times in that half-sneeze/half-shout way that tells you there are microscopic droplets aplenty coming at you at 120 miles per hour and no half-assed quote-unquote mask is gonna stop them.

So, short story long, I spent a good part of the ten hours in barely-restrained stress, praying to god that I was not currently breathing in dengue fever, tuberculosis or SARS. It sounds so dramatic, and it is a bit, but I had told my doctor that it was a short flight and that I'd be careful. Oops. I meant it would be a five hour plane ride and I'd be sitting right behind Typhoid Manny. My bad.

That said, what could have been an even larger nightmare was made somewhat bearable by the good people of Jet Blue airlines. The pilot came out and spoke to everyone, the flight attendants never stopped being solicitous and friendly, and the information never stopped coming regarding our chances for taking off within the next fortnight. Most importantly of all, they handed out Terra Blue potato chips like crack, which I thought was a good move weakened only by the fact that they were not also handing out gin and tonics.

So what's my point? First, if you see a woman on a plane with a mask on, don't assume she's a Michael Jackson fan. Second, if your doctor tells you to stay home and you take a trip anyway, pack extra meds. And third, if in doubt about flying conditions, make sure your employees are super nice, super friendly, super professional--and provisioned with a quantity of gourmet chips.

You're Only As Good As Your Last Email

How distressing is it that your work will now be required by law to store all of your electronic communications? The new law that went into effect on Friday codifies the practice of corporations producing electronically-stored information during the discovery phase of a trial. That means that--seriously--every single thing you email at work will be stored. Everything. On your desktop, laptop, IMs, and blackberry. Everything.

So. You may want to email your girlfriend that little shmoopy doopy love-you note (with photo) from home, loverboy. Oh, and if you need a gmail account, just let me know and I'll send you an invite. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Haggis is Closed

The Haggis is closed until Saturday. Tomorrow we will be attending services for my friend who passed away this week. It's still difficult to comprehend her loss, to believe it is real. Such a gigantic force of nature in such a petite package. Still, she lives on in very real ways: her family, her friends, the memories we have of her, the lessons we learned from her, all the ways in which we can live our lives to bring honor to her memory.

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is only a ribbon of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There! She's gone!" Gone where? Gone from my sight---that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!" there are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "There! She comes!"

And that is dying.

Happiness Is In The Eye of the Booger Holder

Yesterday Bambina and I set up a tent under the dining room table. We got her Dora the Explorer sheet and put one end on the table under books, and stretched the bottom end out to her little activity table. She was having such a great time under there, just as I remember doing when I was a kid.

We started talking about what makes us happy. I told her that being her mama made me happy. She told me that "the sun" and "the moon" make her happy. I asked her, "What else makes Bambina happy?" She put her finger up her nose, pulled out a wee gift and proudly and delightedly announced, "My boogers make me happy!!"

Take One For the Team, Hillary

A brief but on-point post outlining why Hillary Clinton should not run for President. Thank you, Andrew Sullivan.
DailyDish

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In Memory of S.

Peace my heart...

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

~Rabindranath Tagore


In Memory of an amazing woman who passed away tonight; someone else's words because none of my own will come.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

100 Brachas

King David, back in the day, promulgated that all Jews should say 100 brachas (blessings) every day in order to thank G-d for all he has done for us.

Needless to say, I've been running a wee bit behind on my quota.

And then came Thanksgiving in New Jersey when I read a wee article in one of those poorly-edited, over exclamated!!!, full of local engagement/marriage/inside-baseball goings-on, Jewish community newspapers (that could easily have been the local Armenian, Italian or insert-ethnic-group-here community newspaper), wherein I was reminded of the 100 Blessings. It got me to thinking, maybe KD was onto something. Maybe by stopping and actually saying thank you 100 times a day, we'd not only create a different mental situation for ourselves but perhaps create a whole new reality in our relationships with others.

For example, the next day I was at a Shop Rite I've never been to before. I was buying acetaminophen for my still-twingeing back. I was irritated that I was wasting precious time at this stupid f'ing store looking for stupid f'ing store brand pain reliever and feeling simply incredulous that they could have set up the stupid f'ing store in such a profoundly idiotic and unintuitive way that I--oh great one I--could not find the logic in finally finding tylenol in the stupid f'ing dog food aisle. And just as I was at my most irritated, a really cute orthodox-looking guy walked past and smiled at me with his eyes. Not with his mouth. But he definitely smiled with his eyes in a totally non-flirty way. Just a nice, honest-to-goodness look of total contentment.

Now, follow my thought pattern, weird though it may be (although sadly indicative of how my mind works):
Oh, cute Orthodox dude at 3 o'clock!
Nice eyes
If King David were alive today, would he be orthodox?
Black hat orthodox, even?
I bet King David had nice eyes
Oh yeah, the 100 Brachas
How am I doing at that?
I'm at negative 36 brachas today in this store alone
I'm a jerk
Thank you god for smiling eyes
Thank you god for giving me the health to walk through a Shop Rite like a slightly dialed-down Andy Rooney
Thank you god for Andy Rooney
Thank you god for aching backs--no, scratch that; brachas have to be honest and not catty toward the Creator
Thank you god for giving humans the intelligence and werewithal to invent acetaminophen for aching backs created by your sometimes no-good creations who dump blueberries on people's front steps
Okay, brachas cannot be backhanded; try again
Thank you god for tylenol.
Now just let me get out of here and I'll thank you for competent cashiers.

Yeah. It ain't pretty.

Clearly I didn't magically turn into a nicer person because I tried to be thankful--truly thankful--100 times a day. But I did force myself to get over petty stuff much sooner than if I hadn't had the impetus to move on to the blessing after the cursin'. So maybe if we all do that: try to put the minor stuff that can be a major irritant aside for just a moment--to be thankful, for example, that we have a damn car at all that can be stuck in traffic while we try to drive to a chi chi restaurant to have dinner with someone who loves us, then maybe we can declutter our minds of all the stuff that doesn't matter and refill it with the stuff that does.

Like cute young boys smiling at you as you scowl at the Puppy Chow.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Swimsuit Royale

I'm making plans to see Casino Royale for one reason. This:


Daniel Craig is a fearless man. Not many guys, even those considered hot, could pull this off. I'd say more but I fear I'd get into cheeseball "shaken AND stirred!" "license to THRILL!" or "More like a Double O NINE!" territory. So I'll just leave it at that.

Oh--and I'll show you this for comparison, courtesy of The Sun UK's contest:

Och Aye--Happy Thoughts

A recent round of surveys showing popular support in the UK for an independent Scotland. Sweeet!!! Notice that more English people want Scotland gone than Scottish people want Scotland gone!

We have that effect on people.

The Sun (UK)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy!!
Check back on Monday for posts.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Kramer Says Sorry to "Afro-Americans"

Wow. I never thought I'd be giving Michael "Kramer" Richards my Mel Gibson glasses-pulled-halfway-down-my-nose-glaring-displeasedly-over-the-frames look as I drag him by the earlobe for a proper whupping out by the woodshed. But here I go.

Michael Michael Michael. One NEVER uses the N word. One should never even THINK it. It takes a special kind of person to even have that word in their arsenal, to be pulled out when felt needed. I've had run-ins with people of all races and it has never occurred to me to ever call someone that. I'll cop to "b*tch" and whatnot, but not that. Maybe it's because you are of a previous generation? Where the word was heard and not met with a total social freeze-out? My parents would have beaten me senseless if I'd ever said it, on the theory that they raised me better than that, but not so well that I couldn't benefit from a little corporal reminder of right and wrong.

Michael dearie, my biggest fear for you is not that this shows your racism but rather that it shows your total lack of comedic talent. You had no humorous or disarming arrows in your quiver when faced with hecklers. You didn't even try to switch the humor to that old standby of the lowest common denominator: sex. You just went straight to the racial attack, which is not even comedy. It's just the hallmark of an undeveloped conscience.

I think you did the right thing apologizing, as I also told Mel. My only hint in ensuring that your apology is received in, I'm sure, the spirit you intended is to not direct it to "Afro-Americans" as if this was 1974. Although, something tells me that somewhere in your diseased psyche, it actually is.

Haggis-Come-Lately

I am about to make my very first purchase ever on EBay. Yup. I've never ever used the site for anything in all the years it has been in existence. Something about buying something sight unseen from "ValleyDad" instead of Lands End just kind of weirded me out; like, who are these people? What will they do with my info? I think I equated it with the time I sold my washer and dryer back in the day to a guy from Virginia through the classifieds. I had my friend Mark come over so I wouldn't be alone while "Potential Buyer#2" came into my house. It worked out fine, but the whole process of dealing with individual strangers weirded me out. So when EBay exploded into the cultural juggernaut that it now is, I respectfully declined any part of it.

Fast forward and now I want to buy something that I can't seem to get anywhere else. EBay is littered with ValleyDads and NCGirls who have it and want to sell it, and d*mn it, I think I'm gonna do it. I'm still skittish, but I'm going ahead with it regardless, recognizing that I still have much to learn about the entire EBay subculture.

I was looking at one seller's ratings, and every time someone gave him a bad rating like, "Took forever to get here. Bad EBayer;" he'd counter with "Called buyer 4 times, no response. Bad EBayer. NO RESPECT." I've been laughing hysterically as I read the comments, picturing Ali G or some hip hop star saying, "That's some bad EBaying, yo. No Respeck!"

People obviously take it all very seriously, so I'm just going to have to get used to it if I want my Shaun Cassidy limited edition Hardy Boys lunchbox circa 1981, aren't I?

Respeck!

Ninos Locos y Mamas Sanas

There is one of those amateur murals on the side of a building in a struggling area of DC that shows a man on his knees being given a hand up by someone standing. It says, “Don’t Look Down on a Man Unless You Gonna Help Him Up.” I always liked the sentiment but considered the exhortation to apply to others, since I’m too busy to be helping people up, and looking down on them is so much more fun than finding them a job, isn’t it?


I kid, I kid. But I thought about the mural on the drive home from JHU yesterday where I had been sitting in one of the many waiting areas. A young woman with two little kids was obviously having a hard time of things. She was trying to keep her baby (about 10 months old) happy while managing the exuberance of what looked like an 18-month old boy. Needless to say, the equation wasn’t balancing: one mom + two kids (+ waiting area + elevator doors + lots of people) – (extra set of arms – extra set of eyes) = a lack of necessary resources to keep things from going sideways. I have been in that position with one kid, never mind two, and was really feeling for her.

As I watched her, I noticed a lot of other people watching her too, only they weren’t thinking, “that poor woman.” They were thinking, “why can’t she control her kids? What is wrong with her?” I could see it in their faces, in the way they’d look at her disapprovingly then whisper in that I-want-you-to-hear-me non-whisper, “that kid is out of control. What is she doing?” As if sitting around judging her is going to change anything, for her or for those watching.

I was feeling bad for her, and without thinking I heard myself say, “Oh for god’s sake!” then got up and walked over to where they were sitting, plopped myself down in a seat near them, said “Hola” with a smile, asked “cuantos anos tiene?” how old is he?, told her mine was 2 ½, then started making funny faces at him to occupy him so she could read “Oso Pardo” (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, perhaps the best kiddie book ever) to the baby. As I was doing peekabo with him I suddenly realized what I was doing and I couldn’t recall making the decision to do it. I didn’t think, “gee, should I go over there? What if she doesn’t want a strange lady chatting with her kid? Maybe the kid will hate me and I’ll look stupid for trying to help.” Something just lifted my butt out of my chair and took me across the room to give a mom a break, both from the kid and from the heavy weight of disapprobation in the room. I think my brain did a millisecond’s calculation: one young mom + two young kids x waiting area of a cancer center = probably not a happy circumstance any way you look at it, so why the hell pile on as if my kid has never annoyed people, as if I’ve never looked bad in public, as if we’re all so perfect that we’ve never once made someone angrily wonder what the hell is wrong with us? Going over to the mom is something my Dad would have done, particularly relishing the opportunity to chat with a cute Latina in his very impressive Scottish-accented Spanish, but it’s not something I routinely would do, notwithstanding the verifiable cuteness of the mother.

So I played with the kid. The mom and I didn’t speak again, which is probably for the best since my Spanish is mierda most of the time, even without a Scottish accent. She and I just exchanged knowing glances and smiles for about ten minutes, and then I had to go. Partly because I had to meet with a doctor soon, and partly because the kid started hacking coughing and I was like, “Whoa! It’s been nice! NOT getting sick from any kid but my own, thank you very much!” All of which made me feel much better about myself, because it’s not in my nature (I don’t think) to randomly assist strangers, but it’s definitely in my nature to cut and run at the first sign of germs. The bitch is back.

Or, more accurately, instead of looking down on you, I’ll give you a hand up…but then I’ll use Purell.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Things For Which I’m Thankful

I may or may not get additional posting opporchancities before Thanksgiving Day. With that in mind I thought I'd start a rolling list of gratitude. Feel free to add your own.
Things For Which I'm Thankful
*My daughter.
*That I am my father’s daughter.
*One woman in China who gave birth to a baby girl in 2004, whose life-affirming actions set our very different—but forever connected—destinies in motion. Gratitude is too small a word for what I feel for her.
*My family, none of whom wish to be named in a blog.
***That I have a bunch of family who don’t want to be named in a blog.
*The smell of rain on hot asphalt in summer
*The inventor of Zone bars.
*The fact that I am Scottish by birth; some might say by the grace of God.
*That I have the best doctors in the world.
***One of whom is a hottie.
*That I had the opportunity to go to college and meet the friends I did.
***Friends who, as the cheesy saying goes, know all about me and like me anyway.
*Fried potato products.
*Andrea Bocelli’s voice.
*Ewan McGregor. All of him.
*Mom and Pop hardware stores where they actually help you sans surliness and eye-rolling.
*Seeing a deer in GiGi and BB’s back yard. I’d forgotten what a city person I was until I absolutely kvelled over seeing them, poo-pooing any notion that they eat shrubbery.
***What’s shrubbery!?
*John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease.
*Purell.
*Days where I look in the mirror and just for a second don’t judge myself harshly.
*Dogs.
***Doggies' human companions who actually pick up their sh*t on the sidewalk in front of my house. My first reaction is “damn dogs!” until I remember that dogs can’t pick up their own poop. Ironically, therefore, “asswipe” is my favorite name for human companions who specifically don’t.”
*Barney Frank, god bless ‘im.
*Sacha Baron Cohen.
*The nice lady at the Dunkin Donuts who notices my hands are full of the Energizer Bambina, and who packages my coffees, etc for easiest transport without me asking, or even knowing what to ask for.
*The nice lady at the produce stand (yeah, we have a produce stand!) who gives Bambina a banana and a lollipop every time we go.
*Learning Chinese. Trust me. You are already too old to learn it properly, but nothing will give you more pride and satisfaction than making the effort. And Chinese people unlucky enough to hear you are so nice that they won’t tell you how badly you suck; they’ll just encourage you more. Even if, in trying to say “I’d like a beer (pijiu)” you end up saying, “I’d like your buttocks (pigu).”
***Lovely forgiving Chinese people who don't kick the crap out of you when you randomly compliment their intimate body parts...

Blogger has been down for most of today.

Which is why it’s been all quiet on the Haggis front.
More stuff coming soon, now that it’s back up.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Got Nuthin For Ya. Again.

I know there are plenty of hot-button issues to blog about tonight, just in time for your Monday morning, but I simply can't bring myself to care enough to write.

Kissinger says the Iraq war is unwinnable with its current goals. Well, he'd sure know about unwinnable wars, wouldn't he? So, not much for me to add to that whole situation...

Then there's the TomKat wedding in Italy, wherein formerly adorable Joey Potter from Dawson's Creek publicly celebrated her much-maligned union with Mav or is it Goose? from Top Gun. So much ink has been expended dissecting and parsing and philosophizing about these two people (and progeny named Suri) that I simply just don't want to add to it on the theory that people ought to look at their own marriages, their own relationships, and ask themselves if they are being authentic, trustworthy, and couch-jumpingly loveable, rather than pondering same about bizarro celebrities.

Then there's Charles Rangel, who wants to reinstate the draft. You know, to make war more equitable among the classes, so the poor won't always be doing the fighting. Riiight. Just like back in the day when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld had to go do three tours in Vietnam because their draft numbers came up and...oh, wait. Never mind.

And of course there's John McChameleon, I mean, John McCain. He's moderate. He's a trusted right-winger. No, he's a moderate. Oh, he supported the South Dakota ban on abortion. No, he's a moderate; you can trust him, Dems! Oh, he voted to deny women in the military the use of military facilities to have abortions, he voted for Samuel Alito, and he supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion. But he's a moderate. I used to think he was the man with the plan, but now I just see a man running his last presidential race with all the desperation for righty votes he can muster. Especially since he said verbatim that if his daughter were pregnant, he'd obviously leave the decision up to her. As Scott over at LawyersGunsandMoney says: "I note that the fact that McCain wouldn't dream of applying general bans on abortion to people in his social circles doesn't make him a pro-choicer; it makes him a Republican. John McCain's daughter won't have a problem getting an abortion whether Roe is good law or not, but a lot of other women won't be so lucky. Social conservatism for thee-but-not-for-me is pretty much what social conservatism means in this country."

I'd leave this non-post at that, but one more thing must be added to the list of non-bloggable items, and that is The Gettysburg Address. Delivered on this day in 1863. Two minutes of unbelievable clarity and resolve that can't be competently discussed on any blog so I'm not even trying:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

I HEART ABRAHAM.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'd Rather See You Pantsless

Courtesy of the person who used to live in this house, we receive the monthly Orvis catalog. What is Orvis, you ask? I have no earthly idea, but they do have a lot of dogs in their catalogs that delight Bambina, so I usually peruse their wares just to let her see the puppies.

The other reason I look through the catalog is that they sell weirdly compatible items that shouldn't really go together but somehow do: like super luxury dog beds on the same page with men's ties bearing likenesses of dogs in several choices of breed. Or a lifesized WWI propeller with a bomber jacket. I've always found the catalog to be amusing in a "who buys this stuff?!" kind of way. Today, however, I just simply have to put my foot down and say Enough is Enough, Orvis. The joke ends here and now.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Embroidered Holiday Cords

The tagline says, "These pants tell the world he’s got the holiday spirit."

I'm going to put forth the notion that these pants indicate something entirely different than the wearer's yuletide glee. These pants tell the world that the wearer is a massive WASP with no taste. Or a southern gentleman at his country club's annual Christmas breakfast. Or, may I suggest, a huge horse's ass.

I know some of you thought I was going to say that these pants make a man look gay, but I'm going to stop you right there and let you know that I don't know a single gay man who would ever be caught dead in these breeches. Unless he was closeted and trying to pretend to be just another country club horse's ass.

Regardless, I'm simply suggesting that we collectively acknowledge when something is disturbingly more "feliz" than "navidad," and we work together to stop it becoming socially acceptable.

Ed's note: Should we be friends and you already own these, I didn't mean to call you a horse's ass behind your back. Wear them to my house and I'll say it to your face. ;)

Speaker Pe-loser

Rule one when taking office: make your first battle a winner, even if you have to pick it yourself. The key to political power is picking a battle you can win and winning it. Hard. Right out of the gate. It creates the perception of power and success, and it makes adversaries think twice about taking you on so early in the game. It builds up good credit in the PR stakes, and it gives you a springboard to approach the more difficult issues down the line. Clinton forgot that lesson and that's how he got pummelled for "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and the whole healthcare discussion in 1993, however well-intentioned those efforts were.

It's f'ing Politics 101.

Which of course is why Nancy Pelosi created a lose-lose situation for herself and for the Democratic membership when she came out in support of Murtha for Leader. Her first effort as Speaker of the House was to start an internal battle among her own troops? And all in favor of Murtha, who is as scandal-tainted as many of the 'Pubs to whom she just said good riddance? It boggles the imagination how her staff let her do this, how she will get anything done in partnership with Steny Hoyer, the victor in the Murtha-Hoyer race, and all of the members who supported him.

I was going to write, "I'm astonished," but I'm not. I'm just bummed that we have been given this golden opportunity to demonstrate our ability to govern, and the first thing our "leader" does is start a pissing match among her own troops, thereby causing the press to focus on this rather than on positive stuff, creating doubt about our ability to govern from the word Go, and in general looking like a total incompetent.

Go Dems.

Dummy Mummy

I'm sure you are familiar with the term Yummy Mummy. It describes a woman with kids who still has it goin' on. She still has all the style and attractiveness she had pre-child, instead of following the expected pattern of turning into a dowdy person wearing "mom jeans" and horrifyingly cheesy seasonal sweaters with pumpkins or reindeer on them.

I decided after the first few months home with Bambina when I wore only T-shirts and yoga pants (= expensive sweatpants), that I had to take massive, concrete action to get back on track, even if "on track" meant "wearing pants with a zipper, for crying out loud." I wasn't sure where to start, so I followed the George Costanza Principle of "Do The Opposite" of whatever my instinct was to do. So I decided to grow my short hair out long. I bought colors I would never have bought. And for mental health I tried to avoid hating myself for gaining weight on some (mercifully) short-term medication I was on, on the theory that yumminess didn't have to mean anorexicness. I also resolved to shower every day, no matter what. I know, I know. Hygiene ought to be at the top of the "yumminess" litmus test, but some days with a new baby in the house, the showers were just not happening. YUM!

Anyway, as you can imagine, in this somewhat deluded and often-quixotic quest to be a Yummy Mummy, I often have bad days. It's hard to find the time to be all "should I wear the manolo blahniks or the jimmy choos to the park today?" So to be realistic I told myself that some days I just needed to live by certain minimum standards: I'd never wear sweats, I'd never look like I had just come from a workout or gardening bender, and I'd never go more than one day without a shower. YUM! All of which is to say that I have a burgeoning collection of baseball caps which I wear liberally, since it's easy to put one on and fix your hair in that jaunty Upper East Side way that says "I MEANT to wear this. It's soccer mom chic, you pleb!"

All of which is to say that Bambina now likes to wear baseball caps. She has a favorite Red Sox one that she will wear when I'm wearing mine. However, as evidence that kids pick up everything you say, no matter how quickly and under the radar and in the distant past you said it; and how attempts to be a Yummy Mummy can rub off on your kids unexpectedly: yesterday Bambina ran upstairs and put her baseball cap on around 5pm, when we usually get ready to go to the park (but weren't going because it was pouring). Then she pretended to put on lipstick in our hallway mirror. I asked her why she was doing that. She said, "Going to park, mama. My hair messed up."