Monday, July 31, 2006

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

As you know, my Dad and I shared the same rare bone marrow disorder. He passed away in February from even rarer complications of that rare disorder. Talk about being one in a million...

Today I had my periodic consult at Johns Hopkins, just to make sure I'm staying on track. We discussed the tests and treatments (which is to say, there is no treatment--just management of symptoms). I almost didn't make it out of the visit without dissolving in tears because my regular roster of tests now includes screenings for all of the complications that took my Dad's life back when we didn't know to check for them.

It was a lonely drive home, if not physically certainly psychically. There is something singularly desolate in realizing that you will live a longer life because your father died. His death was, in a way, a gift of life. I know this is how he'd have planned it if he could have had the choice, but it leaves me with profound survivor's guilt to the extent that I have been unable to even speak these words since February. Perhaps most specifically because I'm grateful for the knowledge.

I look at my daughter and I want to be here. I want to live. I want to be healthy. I want to grow old, get fat and stay happy. And, because my father's passing raised the red flags, damned if that just might not happen, precluding any of my usual unfortunate bus accidents, plier incidents or bread knife mishaps. It is that gratitude-in-grief that makes my good health a bittersweet condition, knowing that it has come at such a cost, and knowing how I struggle to reconcile the two feelings.

So what's my point, besides confessing all in an uncharacteristic fashion?

Life is good. Enjoy it, be happy in it. Stop worrying if you are too fat or thin or old or gray or poor or unfulfilled. Don't tell me you aren't happy or you're so stressed or whatever. Fix it or forget it. Do something about it or shut up. If you are physically healthy, financially able to afford three squares a day, and able to count at least one person who loves you, you are a lucky SOB indeed. So cut the crap and enjoy the ride. Don't be an ingrate. Life is a gift that can be repo'd at any moment. It's a sweet deal. Made all the sweeter for me by the fact that my Dad is still taking care of me, even after he has gone.

{And because it ain't right to have such a "very special episode of The Haggis" post without the usual dose of leavening humor, I give you Ben Franklin, who sums up a good few of my days, and whose wisdom I highly recommend:
"I wake up every morning at nine and grab for the morning paper. Then I look at the obituary page. If my name is not on it, I get up."}

EDIT: This quote nagged at me all night, because I know Ben Franklin was an "up at 5am" kind of guy. I re-researched it, and it is also attributed to Harry Hershfield, who sounds from name only, the type of guy who would "grab" the obituaries at 9am. So, who knows. But I'm going with Harry rather than "early to bed, early to rise" Ben.

Check Back Tonight

No posts today, I'm afraid.

I'm off on another of my periodic long-day hospital junkets where they will be able to tell me precisely how many nascent red blood cells are being produced by my bone marrow, but will not be able to provide me with wi-fi.


See you tonight.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seeing Double

The Bambina's friend/soul sister is spending the day with us today, so we went out to play. While we were there, a nice woman came up to me and asked, "Are your girls twins?" I appreciated that she obviously assumed they were both mine (not, 'are you the au pair?' or 'are they REAL sisters?'), but here's the thing: Bambina and Fiorelina look NOTHING alike except for the fact that they both are Chinese and have shiny black hair.

Seriously. If I could post a photo of them side by side here, you would be at a total loss as to how someone could ever get "twins" from seeing them together. Bambina is petite but sturdy; gymnast-style body, with really delicate features. Fiorelina has about 6 pounds on Bambina, is taller, and could not have a more different face shape, nose, teeth, mouth, ears if we made a concerted effort to have them look dissimilar. They are both totally eat-em-up adorable girls, but in very different ways, both physically and socially.

I could tell the woman was embarrassed because when I looked at her quizzically and said, "Nope. They're just friends," she said, "Oh, right" and then walked away. It didn't make me mad as much as it made me confused. It's not like Arnold Schwarzennegger and Danny DeVito, but it's more like Lucy Liu (from Charlie's Angels) and Ming-Na from ER. Both Asian? Check! Both have straight black hair? Check! Any other similarities? Nope. Different faces, different body types, different heights and weights, and CLEARLY NOT TWINS.

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Dear Joe Lieberman,

I feel for you. Your re-election campaign in Connecticut has been turned upside-down as former supporters abandon you for neophyte Ned Lamont--and all for supporting the war in Iraq. You will now be forced to run as an independent if you lose to Lamont in the primary.

Joe, I feel for you. But I feel for ME more. I feel for the Democratic Party more. Unfortunately, your race has become the club by which the Democratic Left wants to bludgeon George W. Bush. That's a bummer for you, but it is a catastrophe for all Democrats. I simply cannot understand why Democrats would choose to attack one of their own in order to send a message to a President representing another party, as if GWB gives a rat's a** whether Joe Lieberman lives or dies politically.

What are we hoping to accomplish here? To prove that have officially become that which we have so hated? I recall feeling horrified (and yet gleeful as a Dem) back in 1992 as the GOP's big tent was demolished, moderates were banned, and Pat Buchanan became the keynote speaker at the convention. It was a banner hour for Democrats because the rigid orthodoxy of the Republicans was the means by which their intolerance was exposed to the general public. Since then I've had numerous conversations with people discussing what a shame it is that John McCain and moderates like him are not supported by the GOP.

Which brings us to Connecticut. The state that has exposed the massive fault lines in the Democratic Party. Fault lines that will absolutely prevent us from winning the Senate or House in 2006 and the White House in 2008. What kind of party have we become when a long-time Democratic senator is ousted from office because of his vote on ONE ISSUE. I recognize that the war in Iraq is a monumental issue with strong feelings on both sides. But for Democrats to do a mafia-style rubout on one of their own? That is unforgivable.

If Lieberman runs as an independent, he and Lamont may split the vote and thereby ensure a seat pickup for the GOP. For that reason, the Lefties are crowing that he should "listen to the people" and not run if he loses the primary. Hmm...Show of hands how many of those people fully supported Ralph Nader's run on the grounds that he was following his conscience? Since when have Democrats been in favor of narrowing access to the ballot? Beside the heartache of seeing the schism widening in the Dem Party, Lamont's run is a shame and a travesty for one practical reason: Ned Lamont will lose when exposed to the broader electorate that doesn't tune in to primary races and doesn't necessarily choose to vote on one issue alone. I'm calling the race now: Ned Lamont will lose.

Besides my anger at the potential loss of a Dem seat, I'm stunned and saddened to see the developments in Connecticut because they establish the fact that the Democratic Party is now fully in GOP-political-orthodoxy territory. Where is our big tent? Where is our center? Where is our loyalty? Where is our political savvy? Are we children?--"nyah nyah nyah, you can't be in our club if you don't do everything we do!"

Turning Joe Lieberman out of office to "send a message about the war" to George Bush is the weakest, lamest and most ill-considered move in modern political strategy. George Bush doesn't care about Joe Lieberman; he doesn't care about Connecticut; he sure as hell is not going to manage his foreign policy based on the internecine strife within his opposing party--unless of course it sends the opposite message than is intended: here is a party completely hijacked by its fringes, and therefore too disorganized and disillusioned to represent any real opposition.

As always, we will get the leadership we deserve.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Karl Rove Quickie Questionnaire

As mentioned in a previous post, I met Karl Rove today. Quick quiz:

1. Karl Rove: Fat or thin?
2. Karl Rove: Nasty and rude or pleasant and funny?
3. Karl Rove: Sanctimonious or self-deprecating?


1. Proving that "the camera adds ten pounds," Karl Rove can best be described--not as the generally-assumed portly, slovenly or corpulent evil architect of Republican domination--but as the "orange on a popsicle stick" evil architect of Republican domination. He's not so skinny as to merit the ultimate "orange on a toothpick" designation of Mike Meyers' eccentric Scottish father in the cult classic So I Married An Axe Murderer; but he's fit enough--and large-headed enough--to be the popsicle stick. It is shocking how not fat he is in real life when every photo of him makes him seem like a porker, based I'm sure on his large cranium. As Chandler Bing once inquired of Fat Monica on Friends when she blamed an unflattering fat photo on a camera adding ten pounds: "exactly how many cameras were on you?"

2. Trick question: He may still be nasty, but at least at this event he was pleasant and funny. Really funny. Funny to the extent that I'm sure his material was written for him by one of the South Park guys or Drew Carey, those conservative hacks. And funny to the extent that I felt like it was a betrayal of my principles to laugh. Put me down for 15 seconds of polite applause instead.

3. You guessed it: self-deprecating as is required by all speakers to a mixed audience, especially those who know their negatives are up there with OJ Simpson, Joey Buttafuoco and Michael Jackson.

So what did I learn today about Karl Rove? That he's not fat, he's scriptedly funny, and can hold up a conversation. In raw political terms, nothing of any import. In more practical terms, that a human head can indeed have a circumference of 88 inches.

A Job With the Gummint

Here is an article in the WaPo about a new effort to get young people to consider working for the government. Here are my reasons why I never did:

1. Low pay
2. High student loan debt that could not be paid off with aforementioned low pay
3. KSAs. Every federal government job requires that you fill out a multi-page application, including a lengthy Knowledge Skills and Abilities form wherein you outline specifically why you have the KSAs for the posted job. Um, helloooo, Uncle Sam! That's called a JOB INTERVIEW.
4. Lengthy turnaround time. I once went through the 4-day (I'm not joking) ordeal of filling out the application and KSAs to be a director of development at the National Institutes of Health. I think I sent it in in March. Needless to say, since I'm not independently wealthy, I had already found another job by the time I received (in JUNE) that little postcard telling me that they'd received my application and could I please check the race box and return it.

JUNE. Like I'm sitting around for three months waiting to hear if I got an interview?!!! I mean, this issue does not require millions of dollars of research or multiple committees studying its origins. It's basic: people looking for work want to work. They don't have months to hang around to see if maybe just maybe they got selected for an interview. And they sure as hell don't spend literally DAYS filling out forms that could be answered by "please see attached resume." The entire process from start to finish tells the applicant: we don't really want to hire you, we don't value your time or your talent, and we don't respect the basic rules of business etiquette. Gee, I can't imagine why I'd rather be in-house counsel at a software company for $175,000 a year...


Thursday, July 27, 2006

And for Today's Non-Political Post!

From the good people at, some online timewasting sites. My favorites:

Old Computer Ads Here

Awesome trivia Here

Celebrities in Japanese commercials Here

WTF with the UN?

This is a photo of the UN compound that Kofi Annan accused Israel of targeting for a bombing. Note the UN flag flying next to the Hezbollah flag. I wasn't aware terrorist organizations had flags, and much less that the UN would fly it side by side.

Next: the video you've all heard about showing UN ambulances providing rides to armed terrorists in Gaza last year (which perhaps explains Israel' to trust the UN with investigations of its military campaigns). The good stuff happens around the 50 second mark. It kind of speaks for itself, so I'll leave it at that:

President Georgie

I heard myself saying "right on" to Peggy Noonan, a columnist I usually cannot bear to read:

Thursday, July 27, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Why does President Bush refer in public to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as "Condi"? Did Dwight Eisenhower call his Secretary of State "Johnny"? Did Jimmy Carter call his "Eddie," or Bill Clinton call his "Maddy," or Richard Nixon call his "Willie" or "Hank"? What are the implications of such informality?

I know it is small, but in a way such things are never small. To me it seems a part of the rhetorical childishness of the age, the faux egalitarianism of the era. It reminds me of how people in the administration and Congress--every politician, in fact--always refer to mothers as moms: We must help working moms." You're not allowed to say "mother" or "father" in politics anymore, it's all mom and dad and the kids. This is the buzzy soft-speak of a peaceless era; it is an attempt to try to establish in sound what you can't establish in fact.

In one way, the "Condi" issue is reminiscent of the unsolicited shoulder rub of the German Chancellor. It speaks to a lack of respect for one's colleagues, especially the women.

In another way, it absolutely nails the central issue of this Presidency: Georgie Bush is out of his depth in a very real way. He is that waitress who is totally inept, spilling drinks, getting your order wrong, but is just so goshdarned friendly (read: overly familiar) because she's hoping that some forced jocularity/camaraderie will help you to not notice that she's entirely in the wrong line of work. You know, the local Friendly F*ckwit, who although the executioner of several plates, cups and glasses, to her credit has never committed troops to war or banned stem cell research.

Tour de Steroids

It appears that Tour de France winner, USA's Landis, has tested positive for excess testosterone, putting his victory at risk if the requested second test provides the same results pointing to doping.

Add this to the ongoing issues in baseball and other professional sports, and why don't we just simply agree that "professional sports" means "athletes who take steroids." Why do we even kid ourselves that true competition is going on? Why do we time and time again choose to believe--and have our kids believe--that these people are athletic icons because of hard work, determination, skill and talent? Let's just rip the scab off this wound and say what needs to be said: the bloom is off the rose, and has been for a long time. Money is the lingua franca of professional athletics, not honor or skill or talent or competition. Those days are gone. I don't want to follow someone's quest for victory, root for him, feel impressed by his heroic feats of physical valor, only to find out he's been getting some injectable assistance that his competitors have not.

Can't we make the penalty for this type of fraud something a little more in the Eliot Spitzer range? Milli Vanilli fans were compensated for their purchase of the fake CDs "sung" by that duo. Can't we demand, the Outdoor Living Network demand, the US Cycling Team demand some compensation from the cyclist for the fraud? After all, if money is what sports are all about now, why don't we hit these cheaters where it hurts: not their honor, not their national pride, but in their fat, doped-up wallets?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Stoopid Spellings for Kidz

I just picked up a flier at my local library; it was a "Child ID and Fingerprinting Kit." Only when I got home did I notice that its title is: Street Sentz: Common Sentz Tips for Safer Kidz

I hate to sound like the love child of William Safire and Andy Rooney, but WTF with the stupid practice of misspelling things related to "kidz"? I NEVER in my entire juvenile life put a 'z' at the end of words, thinking it was an 's." This is either dumbed-down nonsense or just woefully stupid marketing. Especially when the kit is a product of Radio Shack and The National Center for Missing and Exploited (and undereducated, apparently) Kids.

Stuff like this makes me insane, as if the hallmark of childhood is not being able to spell without the use of copious 'z's. I'd be interested to hear from the good people at TNCME and Radio Shack if they have any metrics on increased kit use vs. a kit that just says, "Street Sense: Common Sense Tips for Safer Kids." Because here's the kicker: the kit is in English and Spanish. Do they misspell it in Spanish? Any kits for keeping your "hijoz en las callez" safe? Nope. Apparently the stupidity is provided exclusively for innr-city Engliz speakerz lyke me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

경이롭! Wonderful!

The lovely woman who owns our neighborhood dry cleaners adores the Bambina. She calls her by her Chinese name and gives her big hugs (that are happily received) when we enter the store. We are but one of several families she sees who have adopted from China or Korea, but she says we are her favorite (likely story!) because we always ask her for a Korean Word of the Day to teach Bambina (and Mama, for that matter). This week's word is "hello": annyeonghaseyo, or annyeong for short.

Anyway, she is in her late 50's and her kids are my age and living in other areas of the country, so I was pleasantly surprised when she said that she had adopted a child. She must have thought I was a bit of a weirdo because I just lit up with congratulations for her, oh wow that is so exciting!I had no idea you were doing that!Mazeltovyaddayaddayadda!

I was about to effervescently ask about the child--girl or boy? Korean? When can we meet him/her? when she pulled out...

A big WorldVision folder.

Yep. WorldVision. She "adopted" a girl from Niger whom she helps support for $35 a month, bless her heart. I didn't have the heart to say, "Um, so you're SPONSORING a child!" I just oohed and aahed over the photo and said "That's Wonderful!" In Korean, no less.

Try Me On; I'm Very You

I just happened to read this quote by Helen Gurley Brown:

People's lives change. To keep all your old friends is like keeping all your old clothes -- pretty soon your closet is so jammed and everything so crushed you can't find anything to wear. Help these friends when they need you; bless the years and happy times when you meant a lot to each other, but try not to have the guilts if new people mean more to you now.

As much as I am loathe to admit that anything espoused by HGB might resonate with me, here I go. (Caveat: If you HAVE friends, both new and old, perhaps HGB's point is appropriate (as opposed to being what we'd call in Scotland a "Jimmy No Mates" who relies on Helen Gurley Brown to justify having a raft of former friends but few current ones...). This quote, however gracelessly, nails something that has been in the back of my mind for a while. When I think back to all of the people I counted as friends in high school and college, I sometimes wonder why I don't keep in touch with all of them anymore. My old roommate in college--I don't even know where she lives now. My partner in crime in student government who made me both laugh and think--lives in upstate NY somewhere, I think. A former friend who tore my heart out and stepped on it while laughing, but who didn't understand why that meant the end of said friendship--I know her/his location but avoid it at all costs. All of these people and more I have felt bad about no longer calling "friends" and losing contact.

But perhaps HGB has a point. Life takes you to many varied places; and family, work and home responsibilities necessarily curtail the time you used to spend lunching, drinking, and hanging out with your pals havin' a good ol' time. In the final analysis, we only have so much time to devote to friendships, and so that time is spent on those who mean the most, who care about us the most, and who bring out the best in us.

To use HGB's analogy, I have friends who I might see only once per year but that one visit is always as though we were together only yesterday. They are the comfortable jeans: the ones we bought in 1990, that we may not wear in summer, but who always fit and feel right in the Fall, year after year.

Then we have the "nostalgia" clothes: that izod from 5th grade, the miniskirt you wore before you were somebody's mom, that orange flannel shirt from 1993 you wore till it fell off. All good memories, but representing a younger, less-something or more-something you. They're not coming out for the baby's christening, but they're not being given to goodwill either.

Then there are the clothes you loved but can no longer find. I personally search my house at least once per year for a pair of cute khaki pants I loved from the moment I saw them at The Gap in 1991 but now cannot locate to save my life. I swear I can't figure out where they must have gone and how I could have not noticed their departure, but their absence continues year after year no matter how much I look back on all the good times I had wearing them.

Then, finally, we have the Fat Clothes. Those things you keep in your closet just in case you have a bad day. You think it's okay to keep them around, but it isn't. Their presence is really reminding you of something you'd rather forget about yourself, perhaps a time when you turned yourself into someone you didn't like. They're still hanging there because you haven't made the decision that you are not going to be a size 22 again or you are not wearing your old boyfriend's metallica shirt again--and certainly NOT to bed, or you are not going to wear that horrifying bridesmaid's dress again (the one in which you felt so ungainly and which convinced you that your "dear friend" on her wedding day had but one goal and that was to make her friends look as unattractive as possible, perhaps by devising an outfit that would enhance every single flaw of every bridesmaid at the nuptials). You know those clothes. And when you're strong enough, you've gotta throw them away. Don't give them to goodwill, don't give them to a friend. Put them in the trash or burn them, because you've come a long way from those days and you have to resolve that you'll never go back, no matter how darling those blue capris/leather jackets/fun t-shirts/cute pajamas look at this distance.

So what kind of clothing friend am I? I don't know. I imagine I am that "seasonal sweater" kind of girl: the one with pumpkins and witches hats embroidered onto it, that you lovelovelove in late October but are so over by November. Or the ubiquitous reindeer/santa/snowflake knitted get-up that only homeless people wear in January (and June for that matter)... ;)

CNN Hearts Hezbollah: Part Deux

Or actually: Redux. Courtesy of the delicious and lovely Anderson Cooper:

CNN's Anderson Cooper Exposes Hezbollah's Media Manipulations

On Monday’s "Anderson Cooper 360," CNN’s Anderson Cooper related his visit to a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut where he was supposed to photograph certain damaged buildings, part of the terrorist group’s strategy of generating news stories about Lebanese civilian casualities caused by Israeli bombs. But instead of merely transmitting Hezbollah’s unverified and unverifiable claims to the outside world, Cooper — to his credit — exposed the efforts by Hezbollah to manipulate CNN and other Western reporters. It’s quite a contrast from the much more accommodating approach taken by his colleague, Nic Robertson, in a report that aired on a variety of CNN programs (including AC360) back on July 18, a report that Robertson himself has now conceded was put together under Hezbollah's control.

Unlike Robertson, Cooper was explicit about how Hezbollah’s operatives had set all of the rules: “Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings,” he explained. He countered Hezbollah claims that Israel targets civilians by pointing out that the group based itself in civilian areas and that Israel's air force drops leaflets warning of attacks. Cooper exposed for CNN viewers that the sight of speeding ambulances, sirens blaring, was just a phony play staged by Hezbollah: “One by one, they’ve been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians....These ambulances aren’t responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect." CNN showed cameramen from other news organizations dutifully photographing the ambulances as they went by.

Anderson, call me!

Fly The Friendly Canadian Skies!

From the good people at

OTTAWA (CP) - Being a member of a terrorist organization won't necessarily land someone on Canada's no-fly list, The Canadian Press has learned. Proposed criteria would limit inclusion on the roster to those who pose "an immediate threat to aviation security," say internal briefing notes prepared by Transport Canada. Draft regulations, disclosed by a source familiar with details of the plan, confirm the no-fly list will be tightly focused and reviewed every 30 days to keep it up to date. "You cannot be put on the list on the sole basis that you're a member of a 'terrorist group'," said the source. "In addition, you have to be a demonstrable threat to aviation safety."

Are they serious? How will they know what a "demonstrable threat" is until the person gets on a plane and decides to bring it down? How bizarre will it be to see every Canadian airport on that sign listed with Lagos, Nigeria? ("The US Secretary of State has determined that the following airports do not provide adequate aviation security...")

Our system may be crazy, but THAT is NUTS.

What's Good for Madonna...

The UK Daily Mirror is mocking Madonna for her backstage contract rider for her UK shows: "Madge is insisting that her dressing room toilets have a brand-new loo seat for every night of the tour which kicks off in Cardiff on Sunday. We're told: The seat has to be inspected by her people, then installed - with an unbroken seal - by plumbers before every gig."

Why the mockery? Most of us would rather pee in our pants than use the toilets at Wembley Arena, so why should Madonna be any different? If I had her money I would employ a guy whose ONLY purpose in being in my posse would be to install clean toilet seats wherever I went. Come to think of it, this might just be my ultimate dream:


Monday, July 24, 2006

CNN: Hezbollah's Shill

How do you like this? CNN reporter Nic Robertson finally admits that his "tour" of bombed "civilian" areas of Lebanon was "under the control" of Hezbollah, ie, that he basically served as a mouthpiece for propaganda, rather than reporting on the situation as he saw it. Without taking sides on the issue of Hezbollah's attack and Israel's response in general, doesn't it seem--from a journalistic perspective--that presenting something as reportorial fact when it is not, is appalling--and career ending?

Nic Robertson to Howard Kurtz yesterday: "[Hezbollah has] very, very sophisticated and slick media operations,” that the terrorist group “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath,” and he even contradicted Hezbollah’s self-serving spin: “There's no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities.”

But the closest Robertson came to making any of these points in the taped package that aired last week was admitting that “we [he and his CNN crew] didn’t go burrowing into all the houses,” after pointing out (for the second time) that “we didn’t see any military type of equipment” in the area Hezbollah chose to let them tour."

Gee, CNN cutting corners on journalistic integrity? I'm neither shocked nor surprised. How Robertson still has a job (and credibility)is beyond me.


Stay Tuned

I'm slammed with work, so check back later tonight or tomorrow for beaucoup d'posting on the following:

--Canada's "terrorists fly free" program
--The inevitable break-up of Iraq. "Hello, Northern Ireland and Eire."
--Odious Odierno
--My Dry Cleaner's "Adoption" Story
--Review of George Clooney's 'Syriana" or "How I Gained 30 Pounds and Some Hollywood Gravitas"


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Further Evidence that the Apocalypse is At Hand

Evil, thy name is Hasselhoff:

David Hasselhoff: The Musical

Bill Buckley Does It Again

Another of my dirty little secrets is that I adore William F. Buckley. I don't necessarily always agree with him, but I absolutely love his means of expression, his command of the language and his consistency of thought. I love reading his books because I walk away with both annoyance that his beliefs could be so wrong and delight that I have just learned about 22 phrases and words, some Latin, that were previously unknown to me.

In an interview with CBS, Buckley says the following, which mirrors the feelings of true conservatives I know:

"In particular, Buckley views the three-and-a-half-year Iraq War as a failure. "If you had a European prime minister who experienced what we've experienced it would be expected that he would retire or resign," Buckley says. Asked if the Bush administration has been distracted by Iraq, Buckley says "I think it has been engulfed by Iraq, by which I mean no other subject interests anybody other than Iraq. ... The continued tumult in Iraq has overwhelmed what perspectives one might otherwise have entertained with respect to, well, other parts of the Middle East with respect to Iran in particular." Despite evidence that Iran is supplying weapons and expertise to Hezbollah in the conflict with Israel, Buckley rejects neo-conservatives who favor a more interventionist foreign policy than he does, including a pre-emptive air strike against Iran — and its nuclear facilities. "If we find there is a warhead there that is poised, the range of it is tested, then we have no alternative. But pending that, we have to ask ourselves, 'What would the Iranian population do?'"

..."I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology — with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress, and in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge," Buckley says.

Asked what President Bush's foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says "There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don't believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. … So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable"

Well said. Here is Buckley's ongoing column, should you, like me, want to be simultaneously annoyed and edified:

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Symphony for Gamers

I just heard about this show on NPR this morning. It sounds like those laser shows back in the day that featured Zeppelin music, only much cooler. It also sounds like a fabulous way to bring young people interested in gaming into the symphonic music fold. The description says that it will feature music and footage from "Final Fantasy, Super Mario Brothers, Sonic the Hedgehog, HALO, World of WarCraft, Battlefield 1942, Silent Hill, The Legend of Zelda" and others. I also like the final note: "Parents—Bring those teenagers to the symphony. Kids—Show your parents that those games are really good for you after all!"


Friday, July 21, 2006

Let's Ban Divorce

The news that the lesbian couple in Massachusetts (whose landmark lawsuit made it the only state in America where same-sex couples can marry legally) has split up (but has not filed for divorce) is sure to rally the foes of gay marriage, who will see it as proof that gay people cannot be trusted to protect the sanctity of marriage.

But here's the thing: heteros get divorced every day too. So, instead of banning gay people from marrying, why don't we just ban people from getting divorced?! Whaddaya say?!! Of course, that would have changed the lives of the following people:

Ronald Reagan
Bob Dole
Neil Bush
Rudy Giuliani
Henry Kissinger
William Weld
Newt Gingrich
Dick Armey
Phil Gramm
George Will
Rush Limbaugh - divorced multiple times
Bob Barr of Georgia - divorced twice
Alfonse D'Amato
John Warner
George Allen
Helen Chenoweth
John McCain
John Kasich
Susan Molinari
Nelson Rockefeller

If the preservation of marriage is REALLY what this is about, then why are heteros allowed to divorce? Why not just go ahead and get all "Ireland" about this, and just mandate one marriage till death do you part?

Wouldn't that be the best solution for those who are so very concerned about the sanctity of marriage?

Hillary is No Clinton

I was talking to a friend last night about the nightmarish scenario in which Hillary becomes the Dem nominee for President. We were going over all the ways in which Hillary's candidacy would be like that really terrible relationship you were in in high school or college; you know--you look back, you loved the person truly, you learned a lot and you don't regret having been with all ended so badly, you got so freakin' hurt, and you just don't want to go back there, no matter how much time has passed. The worst part being that we'd re-energize all the Clinton-haters who'd dredge up all the bad stuff again to be further parsed and analyzed and judged, and in the end, we wouldn't actually have BILL Clinton back (which might make the heartache worth it). We'd have Hillary, who in the words of my friend, "is no Clinton."

Perfectly said. Where Bill is persuasive, she is hectoring. Where Bill is a communicator, she is a speech-reader. Where Bill is personally liked even by those who don't like him, she has poll negatives that rival her positives across the board. I don't mean to sound like a hater myself, but when we think of the Clinton years, think of what Hillary is identified with: the perception of a massive, failed health care plan, and Monica Lewinsky. All of the good she did as First Lady will necessarily be put to the side when she is the candidate rather than the wife of the previous occupant of the office. It's a mess anyway you slice it.

Like that old breakup from years ago: let's just not go there. Call it a lesson learned, however hard-won, and move on.

Wes Clark anyone?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm a Taker

Apologies all around to everyone for my recent and seemingly ongoing abdication of blogger responsibilities. I love reading what you all write, and love trolling around for fun, new, cool ways of thinking about things; however I just haven't had the time. I feel like I'm barely managing to post anything here, much less read the weeks of back-postings I owe my fellow blogger friends. Very uncool. So I feel like a Big Fat Taker. I write, you read, and I don't reciprocate. But not for too much longer. I swear. That's what weekends are for, no?

Incidentally, a friend asked me if I feel so cool writing stuff in a blog. I didn't understand the premise of the question. I would say, as would many of you, that we end up writing about the stuff that is precisely and decidedly UNcool about us. How else would you know that I don't poop in public toilets or that I tear up randomly about my Dad, or that I have a non-sexual crush on Uma and a totally sexual crush on Ewan or that I am rife with faults and peccadilloes and that I am prone to saying the wrong things to the wrong people sometimes...well, most times, because I think I'm funnier than I really am? More importantly, how else would I know some of that wacked-out stuff about YOU?!! ;) Because sometimes the uncoolest thing about you is the very thing you're compelled to write. Which is why I can't wait to get back to reading your stuff.

As Philip Seymour Hoffman (of all people) said, “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool.”


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I Heart Uma

Those of you who know me know that I have a massive non-sexual crush on Uma Thurman. I'm not sure why. I like that's she's pretty in a weird way, or weird in a pretty way. I like that she does weird movies. I like that she was the Bride in Kill Bill; I cannot imagine anyone else in that role. Angelina would have been too s*xual for it. Jennifer Garner not believable. But Uma rocked that house in a big way. I liked her interview last week in Parade magazine where she said the following regarding the demise of her marriage to Ethan Hawke, who supposedly cheated on her and her two children: "I cannot participate in anything critical about my children's father. I just need to keep peace. I think it's fair to say that I haven't said one mean thing, and I'm not going to start now. It's terrible for my family."

That is more class than I would probably be able to muster in the same situation. Although, in the words of the writer of who said this about the article:

"And as soon as Uma Thurman started on her kids, she invited questions about the breakup of her marriage to Ethan Hawke. Ethan and Uma were together for five years before separating in 2003, and they have two children together. For years there have been rumours, never fully explained, that one of them might have cheated on the other one. Now she's back in magazines, this would have been the perfect opportunity to stick the boot into Ethan. But did she? Did she bollocks..."

"Screw your family, Uma, think about US."

Love that!

Unsolicited Backrubs: Part of the Axis of Evil

Have you seen the video of President Bush giving an impromptu and unsolicited shoulder rub to German Chancellor Angela Merkel? The video raises a couple of disturbing questions:

1. Is Bush really that much of an a**hole, or is he just playing one on TV? I don't know about you, but any time a man thinks he can just put his hands on you without asking, I assume he is "d*ckswinging." You know, making it clear that he has the upper hand in the relationship, because after all, you would never dream of doing that to him. It's an alpha dog thing to do, since subordinates may never touch their superiors, but superiors may touch subordinates.

2. What is a Christian married man doing with his hands near the neck of a woman not his wife? It's a well-known fact, for those who are not otherwise breast-obsessed, that the back of a woman's neck is a wild, hot erogenous zone. NOBODY touches the back of my neck. Anyone who does is going to get my foot in their short-and-curlies. It's just plain rude to go near the nape of a woman's neck if you are not married to, or otherwise "having relations" with that woman. Try it if you don't believe me. Imagine someone walking up to your sister or wife or girlfriend and putting their hands near the back of her neck. You'd be pissed off, because it's one of those non-nude-yet-intimate things to do. Again, in Bush's case, it implies a relationship that does not exist.

3. Why aren't we waging war on people who give unsolicited back rubs?! One woman in college used to do it to me all the time. I would tense up when I saw her coming, and then she'd say, "oh my god, honey, you look so tense! You need a back rub!" and would lay her big meat hooks into my shoulders without asking, never imagining that I was tense precisely because she was massaging me. In addition to those offered by annoying people, backrubs were also the "what's your sign?" of the early 90's. It was the opening for a guy to try to hook up with you. This is a practice that I hope has mercifully died away.

In any event, someone should have taught Bush what every first-grader learns on day one: "Keep your hands to yourself." In backrubs and in foreign relations.

Weird Science. Again.

Another article on the Bush administration's theological assault on science:

Pregnancy Centers Found to Give False Information on Abortion

By Marc Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer; Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Federally funded "pregnancy resource centers" are incorrectly telling women that abortion results in an increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and deep psychological trauma, a minority congressional report charged yesterday. The report said that 20 of 23 federally funded centers contacted by staff investigators requesting information about an unintended pregnancy were told false or misleading information about the potential risks of an abortion.

The pregnancy resource centers, which are often affiliated with antiabortion religious groups, have received about $30 million in federal money since 2001, according to the report, requested by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.). The report concluded that the exaggerations "may be effective in frightening pregnant teenagers and women and discouraging abortion. But it denies the teenagers and women vital health information, prevents them from making an informed decision, and is not an accepted public health practice."

A spokeswoman for one of the two large networks of pregnancy resource centers, Sterling-based Care Net, said that the report is "a routine attack on us that's nothing new." Care Net's Molly Ford said the centers criticized by Waxman received federal grants for abstinence-only programs they conduct, but not for pregnancy counseling. "The funds are kept entirely separate," she said.

Ford said, however, that she agrees with pregnancy counselors who tell women that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer, infertility and a condition described by antiabortion groups as "post-abortion syndrome." "We have many studies that show significant medical problems associated with abortion," she said.

Those studies are at odds with mainstream medical opinion. An expert panel of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), for instance, concluded in 2003 that an "abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer." The experts said their conclusion was "well established" by the evidence.

The report, from the Democratic staff of the House Government Reform Committee, found that counselors at eight of the centers told callers that abortion substantially increases the risk of breast cancer. Some counselors also said the psychological effects of abortion are severe and long-lasting, while research generally has found that severe stress reactions are no more common after an abortion than after giving birth. President Bush has been an advocate for pregnancy resource centers and for abstinence-only sex education. Few of the pregnancy resource centers -- formerly called crisis pregnancy centers -- received any federal funding before 2001. Care Net's Ford said there are now about 2,000 centers in the United States and Canada.

Waxman has been a critic of many Bush administration women's health programs, including a 2002 reference on an NCI Web site suggesting that there was serious debate about whether abortion increases the risk of breast cancer. As a result, the NCI brought together experts to review existing data and came up with its conclusion that no abortion-breast cancer association exists. The statement was later deleted from the NCI Web site. Last year, Waxman initiated a study of a government Web site intended to help parents and teenagers make "smart choices" about sexual activity. A team of medical experts who reviewed the Web site said it included inaccurate or misleading information that could alienate some families or prompt riskier behavior.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Praise The Lord

Glad tidings from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed conceded defeat about 9:50 p.m. in Georgia’s Republican primary for lieutenant governor. “Tonight my candidacy for lieutenant governor comes to an end,” he said. He promised to work for the GOP ticket, including Sen. Casey Cagle (R-Gainesville), his rival in the lieutenant governor’s race. Reed conceded at 9:48 p.m., speaking to a crowd that cheered for the first time all night. With him was his wife, Jo Anne, and their four children.“Today, Jo Anne and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. It was an important reminder of what’s really important. “Stay in the fight, don’t retreat, and our values will win in November,” he said. Reed left quickly but stopped to say he was proud of the race he ran. “I’m not focused on being a candidate in the future, but I’m glad I ran,” he said. With 43 percent of precincts reporting, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office showed Cagle with 55.2 percent of the vote, compared with 44.8 percent for Reed.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Serenity Now!

It's my own fault for doing it, but I did it. I clicked on Now, I knew that things weren't going so swimmingly these days, on a world-peace-and-harmony kind of level, but I wasn't thinking, "Gee, I think we should stockpile water and cans of refried beans in the basement just in case."

Well. Please pardon me while I run to the corner tienda and get myself two cases of habichuelas refritas. Things ain't lookin' good, my friends.

Mr. Matt Drudge wants me to know the following:
--Armageddon is upon us in Lebanon, any day now.
--Armageddon is upon us right here in the US via Iran's Hizbullah, any day now.
--In spite of the record heatwave in the US, the power grid is somehow holding...but who knows for how long.
--However, the NYC subway system and LaGuardia airport lost power for much of the morning.
--A tropical depression has formed off the coast of North Carolina.
--"Those visiting rural areas this summer should take precautions to avoid contracting bubonic plague, the [California] Department of Health warned Monday."

And, as if it couldn't get bad enough: "RUSH LIMBAUGH REMAINS TOP TALKER [on] NYC [radio]..."

Serenity Now!!

Just Press Control-Alt-Delete on This One

{click to enlarge}
I'm just going to let this speak for itself. Wow. I've never pondered the idea that I might need a "new OS." B*&^%$#!

Monday, July 17, 2006

There's No Place Like Dome

This view (and others like it) is why I live in DC. It's also why I care about politics. You can't walk past this every day and not think about where our country has been and where it is going. It makes me feel proud, not because of the people in it, but because of what it has represented for two hundred and some years. The cornerstone was laid in 1793, it was burned to ruins in the War of 1812, and rebuilt, refurbished and enlarged at various times over the following 100 years. I cannot imagine the psychic hole it would have left in us had the terrorists destroyed it on 9/11. The Dome symbolizes our democracy, both for good and for bad, more so than even The White House.

I will enjoy this photo's view even more because it will be 98 degrees with 90% humidity outside today, so I'm skipping the daily walk, leaving that kind of sauna insanity to the tourists.

Bumpersticker Baloney

I received a bumper sticker similar to this one from our friends at the DCCC. Once again, it reveals what can only be described as the Dems' poverty of imagination, both in slogan- and message-creation.

What specifically am I voting FOR in '06? "Had enough" of what, precisely? It's as annoying as those "Don't Blame Me, I Voted For..." stickers on both sides of the aisle. Can't we come up with something completely riveting and emotionally and intellectually relevant?

How about we just use the old Elvis thing: put the lightning bolts on each side of the sticker with a "Dems'06:TCB" in the middle? (TCB=Taking Care of Business) or maybe we can say, "We don't have a message, but we just saved money on our car insurance from Geico."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Whale Watch

Posted by Chris Cillizza on's The Fix, an interesting look at where Bush's major supporters are already throwing their support for the 2008 GOP Presidential ticket. A surprising number of supporters for Mitt Romney, although his response to the Big Dig tragedy in Boston has no doubt raised his appearance of electability in some GOP circles. It'll be interesting to see how this continues to shape up, especially for McCain vs. Romney:

In a post earlier this week, we announced the creation of a running list of President Bush's Pioneers and Rangers who have signed on with potential 2008 candidates. As expected, some more names trickled in after the original post so we've provided an updated list below. New additions are in ALL CAPS.

We'll be updating this list periodically as we gather more names. In the meantime if you happen to have a subscription to National Journal magazine, make sure to read Marc Ambinder's piece on the hunt for these political whales:

"More than two years before the first ballots will be cast for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, several potential candidates are quietly but intently cultivating a universe of fundraisers numbering fewer than 700: 'Pioneers,' who earned their designation by collecting at least $100,000 for President Bush, and 'Rangers,' who raised at least $200,000," writes Ambinder.

Here is the Fix's list of the "Whales."

John McCain
Wayne Berman, lobbyist (D.C.) RANGER
Fred Malek, Thayer Capital Partners (D.C.)
Carter Pate, PricewaterhouseCoopers (D.C./Texas) RANGER
Bob Mosbacher, Mosbacher Energy Co. (Texas)
Tom Loeffler, lobbyist (Texas) RANGER

Mitt Romney
Peter Karmanos, Compuware Corp. (Mich.)
David Fischer, Suburban Collection (Mich.) PIONEER
John Rakolta, Walbridge Aldinger (Mich.) RANGER
Dave Phillips, Phillips Industries (N.C.) RANGER
Tom Tellefsen, Tellefsen Investments (Calif.) PIONEER
Anne Dunsmore, Capital Campaigns (Calif.) RANGER
Hadi Makarechian, Capital Pacific Holdings (Calif.)
Herb Collins, Boston Capital Partners (Mass.) PIONEER
Jim Sims (MA) GEN3Partners (Mass.)
Joe O'Donnell (MA), Boston Culinary Group (Mass.) RANGER
Tom Foley, NTC Corp. (Conn.) PIONEER
Eric Tanenblatt, McKenna Long Aldridge (Ga.) RANGER

Bill Frist
Zachariah Zachariah, cardiologist (Fla.) RANGER
Ken Eldred, Living Stones Foundation (Calif.)
Michael Lebovitz, CBL & Associates Partners (Tenn.) RANGER
Jim Haslam, Pilot Oil Co. (Tenn.) RANGER
Chip Saltsman, former Tennnessee state party chairman (Tenn.) RANGER
Ted Welch, Ted Welch Investments (Tenn.) RANGER
Jeff McWaters, Amerigroup Corp. (Va.) PIONEER

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Three-Way at GW

Allow me to apologize for my recent absence from The Haggis. Long story abridged: I ended up spending 21 hours at GW hospital from Friday night till yesterday; details later. The key point being that they admitted me but had no room to put me in, so I was hanging out in their glamorously-named “holding room” till such bed became available. So there I was at 3am. In a bed between two men: one, a 60-ish African-American man, Calvin, who missed his dialysis appointment and was in bad shape, and two, a bald man named Lefkowitz * who, regardless of Mr. Calvin’s pleadings from behind his curtain to “please turn out the lights!” felt compelled to complete at least two more word jumbles before deeming it okay to darken the room. Me? I couldn’t have cared less about lights on or off. I wasn’t sleeping anyway, finding it to be the most opportune time to:
a) Read this month’s issue of Ladies Home Journal featuring The Duchess of York and her daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, wherein I learned that she refers to us as “my people.” No joke. “I’m going to become an international brand like Laura Ashley, but my products will be priced for my people, those who have supported me for 12 years.” Yeah, sign me up, “My Duchess.” Where do I get in line for a Fergie bedsheet set?
b) Wonder why Mr. Calvin was so upset about the lights being on since when he was not yelling, he was snoring so loudly that they were clearly not inhibiting his sleep.
c) Ponder the origin of the “holding room” nomenclature, feeling a bit like I was in an episode of NYPD Blue, not quite arrested but not quite free to go either.
d) Noting that this was the first time in my life that I was in one room, in a bed, in the company of men not previously known to me, at 3am, in less-than-street-ready clothing, listening to them snore and cough, and wondering how I could possibly, accurately, and adequately convey via blog the total weirdness of the experience
e) Laugh to myself that this was perhaps the most bizarre evening of my life to date (minus that time in Amsterdam with Jagger and Bowie…)

So that was my night. Suffice to say, I got NO sleep. And you got no Haggis for a full two days. My excuse? A three-way with Calvin and Lefkowitz.

*Names changed so their wives don’t get mad.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Yesterday was a bit of a bummer. My blood counts tanked, so I had to get two units of red cells and a unit of platelets. Bah. I got them at the hospital where my Dad passed away, so for 11 hours I was staring at the same mauve pink walls I recall so well and so unhappily from a few months ago. At one point in the transfusion process I wasn't feeling really well, BP dropping, temperature going up, heart fluttering, etc. and I started to panic, thinking "what if something goes wrong with me? My family will have to make that same high-speed, heart-in-your-throat drive to this same hospital, and I absolutely can't bear that thought." Nothing, of course, was going to happen to me. But sometimes, as I've said here before, it's hard to be the patient and the patient advocate simultaneously, and sometimes when something weird happens you are doubly stressed because you're hoping you don't pass out so that you can still be your own advocate. (The outpatient facility for transfusions and chemo being too small to allow family/friends to stay with you).

So I finally got home, gratefully so, but was still having myself a wee pity party that this is my life sometimes. Then I read a blog I've been following, of Tricia, "TEB," a thirty year-old woman with a one year-old son and Stage IV melanoma. Her blog began as cute stories of a young family, developed into a chronicle of her struggle with this truly horrifying disease, and in doing so, became testament to her bravery, her love for her family, and their love for her.

In one of her earlier posts after undergoing painful and unsuccessful treatment, TEB asked her readers, rather than to feel bad for her, to without fail and without excuses, take one day in the next two weeks and spend it with family and friends. Go to a park, the beach, anywhere, but spend a whole day focusing on nothing but the people you love. TEB had her priorities right and she was trying to help others to do the same.

TEB passed away yesterday, at the age of 30. She is survived by her husband, her baby son, and numerous family members.

So what kind of day was yesterday, really? A pretty good one, it turns out, for people who got to come home to a loving family, a funny 2 year-old, and a new set of red cells keeping her healthy. I'm lucky. So lucky. And, as one of TEB's commenters said so well:

"Life at its longest is short. Love now."

Teb's Troops

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Two Words:


Questions for Karl

Y'all. Through a cavalcade of manifold and serendipitous events, I am going to meet Karl Rove at the end of the month.


Me--and that d*mn ring burning a hole in my pocket--heading on up to Mount Doom to go face to face with Sauron himself.

What to say?

Suggestions, please! (Knowing of course the real answer is "nice to meet you; thanks for coming,") but it's fun to imagine What Might Be if only I had no internal monologue or external need to stay out of Gitmo...

Wisconsin Finally Finds a Way (the Wrong Way) to Be "Edgy"

From Al-Jazeera:

9/11 'revisionist' allowed to teach

An instructor at the University of Wisconsin who has said he believes US officials orchestrated the September 11, 2001 attacks, will be allowed to teach a course on Islam.

Some state politicians had called for the University of Wisconsin-Madison to fire Kevin Barrett, a part-time instructor, after he spoke about his theories on a radio talk show last month. The university provost, Patrick Farrell, said in a statement late on Monday: "We cannot allow political pressure from critics of unpopular ideas to inhibit the free exchange of ideas. "To the extent that his views are discussed, Mr Barrett has assured me that students will be free and encouraged to challenge his viewpoint." Barrett can present his view as one of many perspectives on the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington DC when he teaches Islam: Religion and Culture this fall, Farrell said. Farrell began a review after Barrett said he believed the attacks were the result of a conspiracy designed to cause war in the Middle East. Barrett said he was happy the school "did the right thing". "This university is a pretty professional organisation that is not going to buckle from political pressure from politicians," he said.
Politicians who had called for Barrett's dismissal criticised the decision. Matt Canter, a spokesman for the governor, Jim Doyle, said: "The governor would have come to a different conclusion about this." Steve Nass, a state representative, said he would push next year for cuts to the university's budget. The university does not endorse Barrett's theories, Farrell said, noting that they are widely believed in parts of the Muslim world.

So let me get this straight. Simply because something is "widely believed" in parts of the world, your viewpoint is considered scholarship??!! So can I introduce a seminar on "Patrick Farrell is a pedophile" just because I can point to 10 people who believe that I believe it?! This is classic nonsensical academia ivory tower bullsh*t. Half the world believes that Jews drink the blood of Christian children at Passover. Should that be included in a seminar as a valid "viewpoint"? Many thousands of people believe that Black people are inferior to white people. Should that be taught as a valid "viewpoint"? Not to worry; students will be encouraged to disagree... What are the standards of scholarship at UW?! I seriously think I should apply for a job there based on my seminar that the University Provost is a pedophile. Let's see how he feels about the "free exchange of unpopular ideas" in that case. I get it, my seminar would be slander, right? But why? Because it is about one person rather than many people? I'm so flabbergasted that I'm unable to properly articulate my flabbergastation without relying on that old standby: WTF??!!
Or, in short, any time Al-Jazeera cheers your success, it's time to reassess.

Madge and Kabbalah Rending Asunder?

My prayers have been answered. Now perhaps mystical Judaism can stop being seen as Scientology-lite for Celebrities. ps--The last line of this blurb is the best:

An in-depth article by Britain's The Independent, reveals that Madonna may be close to severing her ties to the mystical Jewish religion, of which she has been a follower and generous contributor for many years:

She has decided to give it up, they say, having tired of the financial burden and the effect her strong beliefs have had on her relationship with husband Guy Ritchie.

In other news, Madonna has no intention of giving up being fake British.

Monday, July 10, 2006

E Gets an F in Baseball 101

Here is a quiz that I failed miserably. I am part of a baseball family, full of people who know stats and players and numbers and even teams' old names before they were The Iowa City Sentinels or whatever. As you can tell, the only baseball I know is Red Sox, and that is simply because I like being welcome for family holidays. By "know Red Sox" I mean of course that I know who plays for them (mostly) and I know who we like to beat (Yankees). I leave the real, talmudic baseball knowledge to the rest of my kinfolk. Me, I'm more about, "OMG--isn't it great that Nomar married Mia?!" or "Why doesn't that guy cut his hair; he's like Andre Agassi circa 1988!" You know, the really important stuff.

In any event, here is ESPN's 50-question Baseball 101 quiz. Sadly, no questions about Jewish Speed Dating with Theo Epstein...


Continuous Partial Attention

You can find a very interesting post here JohnMac'sRants
about the effects of technology on our lives, about the phenomenon of "continuous partial attention" wherein we are constantly "monitoring as many inputs as possible, paying partial attention to each. We keep what we consider to be the highest priority contact or activity in greatest focus and constantly scan the periphery to see if something more important should be displacing our current top choice."

I've been guilty of just that on my "days off" with The Bambina that I have stopped bringing my laptop out of my home office. It forces me to be truly present with and focused on her, rather than feeling harried by checking emails for any client needs. What they request at 11am on my Day Off, I can aptly provide them at 1pm during naptime. Otherwise, I'm cheating everyone: my client, myself, and my most important client of all: Bambina.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Carolla Hangs Up on Coulter

I laughed out loud when I heard this. Note that Coulter doesn't say she's sorry for being late or for having incompetent staff. She sounds abrasive when she ought to be trying to be charming. Well, as "charming" as she can be in this lifetime...


Lefty or Righty: Here's Some Linky-Linky (links fixed--sorry 'bout dat)

From this month's Campaigns and Elections magazine, a select number of sites for people on both sides of the aisle:



(This is for you especially, A in MA!)


Enjoy. Or get ulcers, depending on whether you read the opposing side's blogs as I do...

All Politics is Local

I have realized recently that, all of my Odes to DC notwithstanding, that I actually have not invested any effort in improving DC as a locality. I realized that all the things I love about DC are more "national" in nature (monuments, fireworks, Smithsonians, politics) than local (services, crime rates, water quality, politics). I realized that I don't love DC as a city, I love it as our nation's capital, which is not a good attitude to have when you have a child and a business and a house and a grandma who is frequently out in your neighborhood with your child during the day.

It became painfully obvious over the last week that something had to be done, after a couple of scary criminal incidents pretty close to my house had me ready to pack up and move, like, yesterday. I wondered how these things happen in a pretty decent neighborhood like mine, why the promised redevelopment of a majorly run-down street about 6 blocks from my house was taking so long to happen, etc etc. My brother, my family's very own Detective Sipowicz (I have no knowledge of any televised scenes of his naked butt, however), would tell me that the police can't do it alone. The neighborhood commissions would say that no one comes to their meetings. So, what to do?

It became clear that I had to get more involved locally if the random criminal acts were to be stopped, if I wanted to stop agonizing over whether Bambina would get into a "good" DC school via the insane DC school lottery system over the school in our neighborhood whose performance data would make your eyes bleed. If I wanted to stop agonizing over sending her to a private school, which I would really rather not do, being committed to public education, but also knowing that it is the insane parent who allows her kid to be the experiment on whether a school is working. If I wanted to feel truly connected to the other parents and residents of this bizarre but never-boring city. This city that could do and be so much more if only it could loose the chains holding it back: racism from others, racism toward others, old ways of thinking, a preternatural lack of confidence in its ability to succeed, both from within and without.

And how will that happen? Only if people who care actually get off their keesters and make it happen. I have shied away from getting involved in the past just because it seems like such an uphill battle all the time, trying to dislodge the decades-old way of doing things, the constant political drama and infighting that has no purpose other than creating division between people of different races, and feeling like your efforts are the equivalent of constantly trying to shovel ten pounds of sh*t into a five pound bag: pointless, stupid and stinking.

Well, yesterday we were doing our usual Saturday late morning walk in the outdoor market near the house. There were a variety of local candidates working the crowds in anticipation of the primaries in September and the general election in November. One candidate got our attention for one reason: his table featured lollipops. Orange lollipops to be precise. As in, Bambina's new favorite obsession: "oran bob! oran bob!"

So we stopped to pretend to be interested for reasons of straight-up lollipop pilferage. I didn't know this guy from Adam and was kind of focused on getting Bambina home since we'd been out and about for 4 hours already; local committee races were not the driving concern of my morning, notwithstanding my recent decision to start caring.

So we went up to the table to get a "campaign flyer." As I was about to say politely, "oh and may we have that orange lollipop?" Bambina bellows, 'Oran bob blease!" while pointing at the tootsie pops. Needless to say, the oran bob was hers in milliseconds along with oohs and aaahs that she said "please."

So I was about to make my graceful exit when a Michael J. Fox cutie patootie man shook my hand and told me he's the candidate. Great! Now I've got to talk to this guy! Grrr! least the oran bob will occupy Bambina for a few additional moments while I attempt to not look like the acquisitive and rude lollipop stealer I really am.

Turns out, he graduated from the college across the street from mine. He's a year older than me. He's completely in tune with what I consider to be my own primary concerns with the state of public education and safety in DC. His wife is Thai, so he will have inter-racial kids attending the public schools (and, more importantly for me, an understanding that DC can no longer divide along black/white lines; there are too many people who check more than two boxes on those stupid government forms [or refuse to check any] to have it be that mindless anymore). I ended up being so glad that we had stopped by to steal a lollipop, to have found a candidate that I not only support but like. (His cuteness having NOTHING to do with that, of course). ;)

So we're getting a lawn sign and I'm going to volunteer for his campaign. Crazy, huh? When he wins, I'm going to be honest with him and tell him that my initial interest came down, not because of his views, not his boyish good looks, not his forthright demeanor and genuineness in person.

Nope. It all came down to the fact that he was giving away free lollipops.

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Version of a Sex Dream

Last night I dreamed about Jon Stewart.

You know how much I love Jon Stewart.
You know how much I think he is a national treasure.
You know how much he resides in the place in my heart that most women reserve for Colin Farrell or Brad Pitt.
So I dreamed about him last night. Can you guess what he and I did together all night long in my dream?


We told borscht belt jokes, made fun of George Bush, skewered everyone from relics of Term One like Karen Hughes all the way up to flavor du jour CIA Director Hayden, and at the end of our long, energetic and deeply satisfying comedy rendezvous, he looked in my eyes and said tenderly, "Haggis, you are hilarious."

Yeah baby. That's what I call a good night's sleep.

Haggis, Baby, You Are Hilarious.

Moderation in All Things...

Now, sadly, including blog comments. After reading the third "comment" on a post that is actually an ad for something to do with "feeling sexy" or whatnot, there is no choice but to set up comment approval. Bah.

Just comment as you would normally, and I'll give the OK when I get the notification. I know it's a bummer to lose that sense of fulfillment from seeing what you typed on the screen, but I'd rather that than having you read through viagra ads...

Once again, as in all facets of life, the d*ckheads ruin it for the rest of us.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

"Together America Can Do Better" than "Lie and Die"

I know this post is late to the game, but it is the result of a group debate at a July 4 cookout.

"Together America Can Do Better" was the Dems' new slogan being floated last fall. At the time I didn't mention it on The Haggis because it illustrated such a poverty of imagination that I couldn't find the will to stop vacuuming my rug and filling my dishwasher to comment on it.

Now comes Kerry's answer to the GOP charge that Dems are all about the "cut and run" in Iraq. He says that the GOP is the "lie and die" party. It is being bandied about in a vain attempt to make it buzzworthy. Other people are trying to use it to enhance it's appeal, but it all just seems so sad, so reminiscent of those old Family Feud episodes where the Dad would give the crappiest, most random answer that everyone knew was NOT going to be on the big board, but they all clapped and cheerily said, "good answer!" Ugh. I can't do it.

Nobody says "lie and die" in regular conversation. "Cut and run" however is part of normal American parlance. So why are the Dems once again displaying their pathetic lack of ideas? Yeah, we're the party of eradicating poverty! Just not in our own creativity.

Somebody help, please. Because surely we can, indeed, "do better" than a slogan that harks back to my 6th grade report card, "E is a very bright girl but would do better if she chattered less in class." It's like, "Dems: We Don't Suck Half As Bad as Republicans." Or, "At Least With Us, You Get Some Good Bl*wj*b Gossip Rather Than A Military Quagmire."

Way to capture the hearts and minds of the electorate, Dems. Why we aren't in power, I simply cannot imagine.

Ann Coulter: Shameless

I was at the library today and saw a neighbor's mother checking our "Godless" by Ann Coulter. Knowing how conservative my neighbor is, I could only chalk it up to being raised by someone who can stomach Ann Coulter.

Here is the National Review's synopsis of her book:

"Though liberalism rejects the idea of God and reviles people of faith, argues Coulter, it bears all the attributes of a religion itself. In Godless, she throws open the doors of the Church of Liberalism, showing us:
* its sacraments (abortion)
* its holy writ (Roe v. Wade)
* its martyrs (from Soviet spy Alger Hiss to cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal)
* its clergy (public school teachers)
* its churches (government schools, where prayer is prohibited but condoms are free)
* its doctrine of infallibility (as manifest in the "absolute moral authority" of spokesmen from Cindy Sheehan to Max Cleland)
* and its cosmology (in which mankind is an inconsequential accident)
Then, of course, there's the liberal creation myth: Charles Darwin's theory of evolution."

This woman is a joke, but unfortunately a very scary and influential joke. Every liberal friend I have is a decent human being who goes to church or volunteers with nonprofits or lives the unremarkable life of a good, solid citizen. So rather than rejecting the "idea of God," I would say they actually try to practice what they preach. So why the lie that liberalism rejects the idea of God? Because we reject ANN COULTER'S idea of God. We reject Tom DeLay's idea of God. We reject George Bush's idea of God. What's more, we reject the 100% unpatriotic belief that to be American one MUST have an idea of God to begin with. Our nation, our democracy, was founded on the belief that the American people were 100% entitled to reject any idea of any God they damn well pleased. So to say that liberals are somehow less patriotically and faithfully American than Coulter and her apologists is to spit in the faces of the founding fathers.

And to equate abortion with a holy sacrament? This woman is beyond help. No morality, no decency, not a shred of respect for other humans who aren't as lucky as she is to live in a perfect, moral, black-and-white world of her own creation. And to say that public school teachers are our clergy? Then who are the clergy for Coulter, Inc? Baptist ministers? TV preachers? Or CEOs of Halliburton, Enron and Worldcom?

I quite literally cannot express, in polite terms, how much I would love to go head to head with this woman. I'll bring the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, anything by Thomas Jefferson, oh--and the Bible itself. She can bring her sloppy-fact-checked books, her prodigious ego and that monstrous chip on her shoulder.

I'll take her out in two rounds.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence, Dad

Dear Dad,

I know you read my blog, so here goes. It's been 4 months since you "shuffled off this mortal coil" (as you liked to characterize it), and I've got to tell you, it seems harder now than it did the day you died. Back then we all had the benefit of heartbreak brushed in two coats of semi-gloss numbness. Back then the excruciating reality of what life without you would be like was too enormous to comprehend and therefore almost meaningless (much like someone telling you you'll win "a gajillion dollars;" it's too broad and large to wrap your arms around in any tangible way). I definitely knew it would be terrible, but I was so focused on the disbelief that you could be fine, if not super-healthy, at noon but be gone by 7pm. There was too much shock to be able to project my own life forward four months, much less my life without you in it.

It is only now as the new routine without you becomes just that: a routine, that I am able to truly feel your loss. It is only now as I am actively living a life without you, that I feel the searing...pain? no, agony? no--emptiness where your eccentric, funny, frequently-annoying but always-devoted wee man presence used to be. I think about you a lot, Dad, mostly when I least expect to. I was completely fine on Father's Day. I even wondered for a while whether the whole world was turning English because everyone was asking me, "So how are you TODAY?" I was answering, "I'm fine TODAY, thank you" but couldn't figure out the emphasis on the last word. Until late in the afternoon when I was filling up the little paddling pool for The Bambina in the back yard. She jumped in and started splashing around while I was still filling it with the hose, laughing the laugh that only children can produce, full of wonder and sheer unadulterated joy at their present great good fortune. I instantly remembered all the times you and Mom had done that for us. We all loved that little green pool, and my heart just ached for it to be 1976 so I could grab one last moment of being your baby girl in the water before returning to the reality of being the grown-up with my own baby girl in the water. I missed you so acutely in the moment, wishing that you could be here to share in another generation's joy in the pool, wishing that your granddaughter could have you here and therefore forever in her memory when she someday fills the pool for her own child.

When the tears dry, I know that you heard her laughter regardless and that you were there with me as the water filled the pool. I also know that you'd take a dim view of crying into children's pools, seeing it as somehow a waste of energy that ought to be focused on making sure your grandchild is having a raucous good time. I know it and yet it doesn't make it any easier to carry out your wishes.

I also know that I'm not the first nor the last person to grieve a father out of existence, so I work hard to remember Elie Wiesel's admonition that "one should never feel that one's tragedy is exclusively one's own" because others have felt the same anguish. He is, of course, right. But, Dad, I'm the only Me who ever lost You. And no amount of philosophizing can make it feel better than the miserably real and day-to-day heartache that it is.

So all I can do is attempt to use the heartache to create something good. In months and years to come I will be better able to understand what that "something good" should be. For now, all I can do with it is try to be a more sensitive and understanding person to others dealing with grief of any kind. I no longer ask, "how are you?" of a bereaved person, knowing that there is no quickie, honest answer to be given in public. I simply say, "You're on my mind all the time, so let me know if I can do anything for you." Sometimes I even just go ahead and do something for the person knowing that they probably won't actually ask for help. I no longer always inquire about their feelings or grief status, preferring instead to read their faces, assess the moment, and determine if now is the time when the person is able to or desirous of talking about it. One of the best examples is my neighbor Sara who had previously brought a plant to my house after your passing. I saw her a few days after your memorial service and she didn't mention you at all, to my unbelievable relief. I think she saw from my face and in my eyes that I couldn't bear the question, that if I opened my mouth to say, "I'm fine; thanks for the plant" that I'd more than likely crumple in a heap in my front yard, which you (and she) know is not my style. So even though she said nothing, I felt so supported by her, simply for letting me have my private grief without feeling a social obligation to make me talk about it. I decided in the moments that followed to be more like Sara, to think less about myself (I've gotta say something!) and more about the other person (she's gonna lose it on a city street if I even approach the topic). I know that people care about me, I know they are thinking of me, and I know they haven't forgotten that it's only been 4 months since you've been gone.

So for now I'm going to try to be that person for my other friends who have lost someone. I'm also going to try to think less about what I've lost, and more about what you've gained. You are now in that great Scottish Tropical Paradise in the Sky where you have appointed yourself Welcome Wagon In Chief for the future arrivals of Sophia Loren and Raquel Welch. You're finally warm, sunny and 80 degrees, 24-7, year-round. You can drink all the whiskey you want. You can finally smoke those cigars! You can play ice hockey like you did as a boy. You can play Canadian Rules football too. All of the ways in which your body failed you are gone; all of the fun things your corporeal self was denied these past few years are yours again. It's an Independence Day of a different kind for you, wee man, as it is for me.

So the challenge continues, helped along by the words of Gilda Radner: I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.

China Dolls

Note to the world: My daughter is not a "china doll." If I hear one more person refer to her as such I'm gonna get REALLY rude.

"China Doll" refers to the material used to make dolls, most of which are caucasian in appearance. It has nothing to do with Chinese ethnicity. The real meaning of "china doll" is a fragile, porcelain doll, ie, made from china (the material). From China dolls were produced from approximately the late 1830s through the early 1900s (until about 1930) with the greatest number produced from the 1850s through the 1890s. Many millions of china dolls were produced, mostly in Germany, during this period...China dolls are made of glazed bisque (porcelain) which is generally left white (not tinted).

If strangers in the supermarket see nothing else about my daughter than the fact that she is cute, they will also see that she is anything but fragile and porcelain.

I'm aware that "china doll" has other connotations, but I desperately wish to clue people into the fact that none of them are flattering. "China doll" connotes a hypersexual and submissive Asian woman, in contrast to the "dragon lady" stereotype which, well, connotes a hypersexual and evil Asian woman.

Imagine adopting a Black child and having someone come up and tell you what an "adorable little sambo" he is! "What a darling tar baby!" You'd probably punch that person in the face, wouldn't you? That's how I feel when some random stranger expects me to be complimented by her belief that my daughter is a China Doll. Maybe it's generational; I don't know. All I know is that NO ONE I know would ever say "china doll" in reference to a human person who is someone's child, any more than they'd compliment Bill Cosby on his Sambo children.

I'm thinking perhaps some (well-meaning?) people haven't gotten the memo, so please pass it along: It's 2006. "China Doll" is offensive. Say she's cute, say she's delicate. Better yet, say she's strong and smart and funny. But NEVER use the C-D word around me, and more importantly, around HER. She understands what you're saying these days, so I'm getting ready to politely but firmly deal with random strangers who want to keep pointing out her "otherness." I'm proud she's Chinese, she knows she was born in China, and I hope she always loves that fact. But it would really make my day if compliments didn't come to her as a result of her ethnicity. After all, I hope she's going to be intelligent and talented, but I also hope random strangers in grocery stores won't call her a Smart Jew.

DC on My Mind

I'm sitting in my living room watching PBS where Stevie Wonder is performing live while the national fireworks are going off. It is the coolest thing because I can hear the booms and bangs of the fireworks from my house while sitting in the comfort of my home and with The Bambina upstairs asleep. I am watching them explode in the sky above Stevie Wonder on TV and hearing the noise a few seconds later in real life. It's awesome.

Every time I want to give up on DC, after a police bulletin about a mugging at 2pm 2 blocks from my house, I have an experience like tonight's that reminds me that living in DC is not just about DC; it's about being American. My local news is the national news. When I walk past the White House or Capitol on my way to a client meeting I always promise myself that if I ever lose the double-beat of my heart I have every single day in doing so, that I will pack up and move to Terre Haute or Jacksonville or somesuch town ASAP. If I ever don't feel humbled to be a part of this grand experiment, one part ecstasy/one part agony, I have vowed to leave within the month. I believe that if every person in DC made and kept that promise to themselves that we'd have a whole lot more REAL patriotism in our nation's capital, not to mention more cooperation and bipartisan statesmanship.

DC rocks. And never more so than because I'd be fresh out of blog material without it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence and the People Who Love It

Tomorrow we celebrate the adoption of The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. The day means many different things to many people. To the African-American PA at my doctor's office, it means very little, since her ancestors were not considered citizens or perhaps even 100% humans at the time. To people in "the business and by 'the business' I mean The Industry" (as an old acquaintance used to refer to Hollywood), it means movie openings, revenue streams, big-budget gambling. To the average Joe Sixpack and Jane Merlot American it means cookouts and perhaps parades and fireworks. To people like my brother in law enforcement or in the health care industry, it just means another day of work, with perhaps drunker people involved in stupider escapades.

Independence Day is a holiday rohrschach test. So if we could bring down the lights a little bit, have my maestro Burt Bacharach play some background piano music, and have the waiters and waitresses keep bringing the cocktails, I'm going to bore you with my bummed-out treatise on What July 4th Means To Me, in this age of insecurity and conflict.

1. An opportunity to love Scotland while loving the USA: A key passage in the Declaration, But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security-reminds me of the Declaration of Arbroath in the 1320's in Scotland. It was the first written document outlining the fact that, in Scotland, it is the PEOPLE who are sovereign rather than the ruler, ie, that the king was chosen by the people, not by God, and that it was the duty of the people to overthrow the king if he threatened Scottish sovereignty. One line in the Declaration of Arbroath that gives me a lump in my throat is, "...for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself." That lump in my throat is best explained by Robert Burns' broadside against the Union of the Crowns in 1707 that brought Scotland and England together:
What force or guile could not subdue, Thro' many warlike ages,
Is wrought now by a coward few, For hireling traitor's wages.
...We're bought and sold for English gold- Such a parcel of rogues in a nation !
Short story long: you have to be vigilant to protect your freedom, especially from those who claim to be doing it for your own financial good, physical safety, or moral clarity.

2. An excuse to "desecrate the flag" by which I mean wearing a stars and stripes tank top (made in Vietnam) and one of those red, white and blue bobbly-antennaed head bands (made in Mexico) while holding sparklers (made in China). Well, at least my lawsuit alleging negligence by the US distributor of the head band when it catches on fire from my mishandled sparkler, will be Made in America.

3. Paying homage to the three things I grew up with in my hometown that make America great: Gun racks, butt cracks and six packs.

4. Most importantly, it offers an opportunity to truly go back and study what the Founders intended when they created this nation's great charters, and find some much-needed inspiration in what can only be described as depressing, challenging and frightening times:

TJ: "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

Ben Franklin: "Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

GW: "Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism."

TJ: "The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive."

And one from someone I'd rather not quote but whose words illustrate where we are politically this July 4, 2006:

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders...tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger." --Hermann Goering

Let's hope for a better Fourth of July, 2007. In the meantime, stay safe, wear repellent, cook the burgers all the way through, and minimize the beer goggling.

USA #1! ;)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I Got Nothing For Ya

Not a thing. Nothing funny or cool happened today. Nothing funny or cool enough to write about, anyway. In any event, I did the following things:

1. Thought about Aaron Spelling's influence on my childhood. Wow. One man, so many craptastic TV shows that I positively DEVOURED as a kid, especially Charlie's Angels. I knew in my heart I was Sabrina, but I always got to be Jill or Chris simply because all of my friends were brunettes and could not, we all agreed, accurately inhabit the roles of Jill or Chris on a neighborhood street in 1979 Scotland. No sir; we were purists. Sometimes it paid to be The Blond, except for the time I was told loudly at recess by a brunette in 5th grade that I had been woefully miscast as the dark-haired Lucy Van Pelt in my elementary school's Christmas Glee Club pageant presentation of "You're A Good Man Charlie Brown." Helloooo?! It's not like the kid playing Charlie Brown was actually chubby and bald with one little curly-que of hair on his head! Why the drama over the blond thing?! B*tches, man! B&tches!

2. Visited the National Building Museum, an attraction I would never otherwise have cared about but for their fantastic (now hopefully permanent) exhibit called the "Building Zone." It's a room with a little house, tons of building blocks, kiddie woodworking bench, tonka trucks, kiddie tool belts, and a little pillow-and-rug area to read books about architecture and construction. The majority of DC denizens have not yet discovered this gold nugget, so there are usually max 5 kids in the room at a time. It also has the most amazing "great hall" where The Bambina and I sit on a bench and have a snack while enjoying the indoor fountain. If you come to DC, do not miss this gem of a museum, which I have to say, has been incredibly smart about the Building Zone. It has brought people like me, who otherwise would never have thought it interesting or necessary to visit a museum about architecture and buildings, into the museum, into the gift shop with my wallet out, and into exhibits like "The Green House," "Jewish Washington" and "Newer Orleans" that turned out to be fantastic. Just my plug for a great way to have 2 hours with a kid fly by, especially when it's 95 degrees and 100% humidity outside.

3. Confirmed that I have given my daughter OCD. Now that she is using the potty rather than diapers, we have entered a whole new world of public toilet visitation. When I hoped for a time of dry diapers and "big girl underpants" I failed to grasp the coming necessity of using public lavatories in unpleasant surroundings when said "big girl" would hear nature's call. The number of times in a rest area or--worse--a Target that she has reached her hand into the toilet bowl or put her hand on the flusher or put her hand on the lock that (for whatever reason of "safekeeping") locks the used feminine products into that metal box on the wall, would make you weep. So I started telling her that public toilets are dirty and that we shouldn't touch ANYTHING. I showed her my well-honed "flush with the foot" move as well as the "open door with hand wrapped in toilet paper" move as evidence of the "no touch" policy. This was all well and good in terms of having her stop putting her hands on the bowl itself, but I never imagined that she'd internalize it all so soon. Today at aforementioned Building Museum, Bambina and I went to the potty. We walked into the stall and I heard a little voice say, "Dirty! dirty! dirty! No no no!" Followed by her lifting her little foot up in the air in an attempt to flush the loo sans hands. My first instinct was to say, "Yes! good girl! Never touch ANYTHING! You are such a smart girl!" My second instinct was to feel bad for giving her germ phobia to such a degree that she would try to foot tackle a flush handle a full two feet above her. As I momentarily pondered the possibility that I had perhaps gone too far in my desire to keep her from eating e.coli off a commode, the two-year old in her proved once again to be strong enough to resist even my most fervent attempts at lesson-teaching: She started singing, "dirtydirtydirtynonodirty!" while gleefully rubbing her hands all over the entire stall wall, looking directly at me and laughing.

4. Bleached my kid's hands.

5. Just kidding.

6. Went to bed.
Night night, my friends!