Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I Think Therefore I Am...Annoyed

My latest metamorphosis into the love child of Andy Rooney and William Safire has occurred as a result of having excess frequent flier miles on America West.

I used to travel to California frequently, often using America West--an albeit crappy airline—for the simple reason that their layovers were in Phoenix or Las Vegas. After spending ten too many delayed or cancelled flight situations in places like Cincinnati, Detroit and Chicago, and being no closer to LA then when I’d left my house nine hours prior, I decided that America West was the way to go. Even if all aviation hell broke loose in Vegas, I knew I could still conceivably get myself to LA rather than languishing in an airport too far from both home and destination to be of any practical use.

Shortly after my California trip habits ended, America West merged with USAirways, no doubt due to my role in their precipitous revenue decline. As a result of the merger I had unused frequent flier miles. Not enough to cash in for travel and too many to ignore the fabulous offer provided by AW: get magazine subscriptions “paid” for with my old, otherwise useless miles.

As a further result I have been reading a lot of magazines lately. Some good, some terrible, but all having one thing in common: the lamentable use of the distracting and annoying (new?) device I call the “think crutch.” In an otherwise interesting or stupid-but-innocuous article, say on nutrition, the author will say something like, “Diets high in flavonoids and polyphenols (think raspberries and blueberries)…” In an article about our obsession with celebrity culture, the writer will say, “…people who are famous for being famous (think Paris Hilton)…” In another article the writer will say, “Give your woman some romance for Valentine’s Day (think chocolates and champagne)…”

Where did this “think crutch” come from? Whatever happened to using complete sentences, complete thoughts? Would it have killed the writer to say something like, “..found in blueberries and raspberries…” or “…such as Paris Hilton…”? It’s just so effing lazy and faux chatty to do an end-run around actual writing by always relying on the “think Ernest Borgnine” or “think genital herpes” device.

To me it signifies yet another nail in the coffin of written communication, and it is bugging the hell out of me. I barely noticed its use until I read it three times in one article in one of the parenting magazines. Unfortunately, as these things go, now that I’ve noticed it, I can’t stop noticing it. Also unfortunately, I think the trend toward dumbed-down communication is here to stay. Which is why I wrote this post for you.

Think Misery Loves Company. :)

I'm Three-Timing My Doctors

No post today because I have to go spend the day at the hospital. Remind me to tell you about why I'm going back and forth between hospitals and doctors. I feel like I'm on The Bachelorette and I'm down to three suitors; I like something different about each of them, but can't quite decide whether to pick The Hot One, The Smart One or The Easy One.

Tune in this evening to find out who gets the rose...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

My Blog Post Has a First Name; It's O-S-C-A-R

Some thoughts from the Oscars:

How cute is Ellen DeGeneres? I completely love her and her style of humor. I think I want to be her when I grow up. After I'm Annie Lennox. But before I'm Rita Moreno.

Daniel Craig: Ought to win the Oscar for Best Hotness

Helen Mirren: I've never noticed, perhaps due to the roles she selects, that she is actually a very beautiful woman.

They should give an extra minute to people whose first language is not English. That would, of course, include any Scottish people in the audience...

The "Sound Effects Choir" features about 40 people who apparently are capable of beatboxing sound effects to movies, such as airplanes, waves, cars, bugs and whatnot. I'm just gonna say this: watching people wave their tongues Gene Simmons-style in order to sound like fish in water in a children's movie is disturbing on multiple levels. There's a reason why sound effects aren't visual effects, people! Next time let's hope they opt for an interpretive dance.

How about Alan Arkin winning?! LOVE that! I know he's been around for donkey's years, but my first movie experience with him was in an uncredited role as the police captain in So I Married an Axe Murderer.

A surprise performance by Miss Celine Dion! Um, can we have the Sound Effects Choir back, please?

In an final note, my favorite joke of the night was Ellen saying, "without blacks, gays and Jews, there would be no Oscars...and no one named Oscar either."

And with that, now that it's past 11pm, I'm going to wrap this up in the hopes that the Oscar telecast will follow suit.

Tom Brady is So Shady

As you know, I like sports. But not in the "who played shortstop for the Red Sox in 1968?" kind of way. I like sports more in the "now WHY would they wear that?" or "he's been married how many times?" way. So, as you can imagine, I was quite interested to hear that Tom Brady, New England Patriots quarterback, is going to be a father. His ex-girlfriend, Bridget Moynihan, is about 3 months pregnant. "Fair enough" you might say. But here's where it gets unpleasant: He just happened to break up with her--and immediately start dating supermodel Gisele Bundchen--right around the time when he would have been told that she was pregnant. Curious, no?

Add to that the fact that his "camp" as the NY Post calls it said "Bridget didn't even bother to tell him she was going to go public with this," said a friend. Some say that Moynahan, three months expectant with her first child, "may have gotten pregnant on purpose. She is 36, wanted a baby, and Tom was dumping her. It's a little suspicious."

Or, in two words, Tom Brady: All Class. That's a pretty sh*tty thing to say about the person who will be the mother of your child, isn't it? Someday Brady Jr. is going to read that his/her father considered him/her to have been a burden forced upon him, ruining his jiggy fun with a supermodel. What a fantastic human being. Not to mention the fact that Bridget Moynahan has every right to "go public" with her pregnancy as she sees fit. She's an actress, and after three months she is no doubt starting to show. Besides, why is he complaining? He has clearly moved on to the next (not pregnant) woman, so why does he get any input whatsoever into how Bridget Moynahan conducts herself? He ought to look in the mirror if he's looking for someone's behavior to critique.

Just one woman's opinion...

"I Want My Two Dollars..."

When you do your taxes this year, don't forget to claim your phone tax refund.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Just for the Halibut

Overheard at a Legal Seafoods today after two women were seated at the table next to me and my mom:

"I'd like an iced tea--and do you have anything besides fish and seafood?"

I have nothing to add.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Harry Goes To Iraq

"Prince Harry was "over the moon" last night after being told he will be going to Iraq within weeks. The 22-year-old Army officer will command an armoured patrol on a six-month tour of duty after winning his battle to serve alongside his fellow soldiers."

So where are the Bush twins serving? Or, as a headline on Fark.com (one of my favorite sites) said: "Harry to Iraq, Bush Twins to Kegger."

Whatever you think of the war, and whatever you think of the SAS security that will be surrounding Harry in Iraq, the symbolic power of a prince serving alongside other Britons in the military is tremendous. Here in the US, we're still waiting for all the kids named DeLay, Frist, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Sessions, Lieberman, Graham, O'Reilly, Limbaugh and Coulter to enlist out of their sense of moral duty. In the meantime, we'll just keep listening to their family members express resolve and stalwart support for a President sending other people's family members into harm's way.

I can't stand the royals, as you all know, but I still have to give it up to Harry for going, however "cake" his assignment may turn out to be.

Obama Rising

How else to explain the Clinton campaign's focus on him regarding support from David Geffen, of all people? Like, how "inside baseball" could a snit be? Oh, it seems like it's relevant: "politics of personal destruction" blah blah blah. But it's really not. Someone few average Americans have heard of, who supports Obama, said some unflattering things about Clinton (a person he formerly supported). She wants a retraction from Obama for what his supporter said, a supporter who used to be hers. It sounds like a messy breakup, to be honest. And yet her campaign picks THIS as the fight they want to take to the streets?

That screams of "amateur politics" at best and "reasons why she's unelectable" at worst. Perhaps they thought that by calling Obama out they'd get him off-message, try to remove some of the angelic glow from his halo in the eyes of voters (Headline: Obama in a snit with Hillary!). Perhaps. But, to my mind, she has simply raised Barack Obama to the level of an equal, something she can't have wanted to do.

Now, anyone who is questioning my Clinton bona fides can pound sand, because it's a terribly-kept secret that I LOVED Bill Clinton. Still love Bill Clinton. Will never be ashamed to have supported Bill Clinton. He was a good President, if a not-so-good husband. However, I'm just not feeling it for Hillary Clinton. Those days are over and I'm not feeling drawn to wanting them back. One reason is something a friend mentioned, which is the concern for our democracy when, over 26 years, members of two families have held either of the nation's two highest offices. If HRC wins, it will be 32 years of either Bush (VP and POTUS) or Clinton in the White House, and something just seems not right, not American about that. Another reason is that I personally have had my fill of a "decisive" president who does what he wants no matter what the evidence to the contrary. Something tells me, based on this Obama Drama alone, that perhaps their personalities (but not their intellects, mind you) are a bit too similar for my comfort.

What do you think?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What Do We Want? Barfing! When Do We Want It? Now!

That's the site for a fundraiser being held by a group of high school students in Maryland. It involves eating a burrito then immediately running a mile for charity.

That's the newspaper article detailing how some parents consider eating a burrito and then running a mile for charity to be dangerous.

I could be wrong (whaaat?!), but I'm thinking that banning a burrito mile fundraiser is a sign of the nanny state apocalypse. Maybe we shouldn't let high schoolers run at all lest they get hit by cars, sprain their ankles, or develop dangerous knee injuries. Maybe we should ban burritos, running or no. They contain quite a bit of fat perhaps, and what if someone flicked a lighter at the very moment one of those guys let one loose from the pinto beans? That's also dangerous. Yep. I'm convinced. Both running AND burritos should be banned lest any of our precious, precious children encounter any injury, any difficulty, and--oh I don't know--any FUN--while doing something for charity.

Who's with me? Who will stand with me in defense of our kids? We can't have adolescents hoping for nothing more than a little dry heaving for the sake of kids with leukemia, can we?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

If You Want A Happy Ending...

...It Depends on Where You Stop Your Story.
---Orson Welles

In the year since my Dad died the question I have heard the most is, "How is your mother doing?" For most people, I think it is 70% genuine concern for her, mixed with 30% oblique attempt to find out how I am doing. I have appreciated the question on both levels but still never know how to answer.

This would have been my parents' 40th year of marriage. A marriage that saw each of them assume different roles and responsibilities as circumstances and the vagaries of life warranted. A true partnership on board the good ship Haggis, with rotating skippers (but let's be honest: mostly my Mom!) as life events dictated. I always knew my parents loved each other, but always knew they believed their admonition that "love is not enough." I always knew they relied on each other, but knew my Dad never wanted me to need a man. I always knew they were together forever, but didn't yet know that "together" can take many different forms.

Take today for instance. My Mom and Dad are still together forever, just not physically here on earth. He's my Dad forever, we're joined forever, but togetherness now comes in the form of one-way conversations in my head that still somehow seem to give me answers. Are we happy? I don't know. I think we're happy compared with how we thought we'd be one year on. Is my Mom happy? Without telling her story for her I obviously have to say "No." But neither is she hopeless, devastated or inconsolable. She has called upon the inner strength she's always had to live through the greatest upheaval of her life. She's made it look easy, which is the hardest thing to do, and I'm truly proud of her. I know my Dad is too.

So, is this a happy ending?

In a word, No. But then again, who knows? Orson was right; the determination of a happy ending is dependent on where you stop your story. Something tells me that, although my family's story with my father as the primary protagonist is coming to a close, each of our own separate stories--wherein we carry forward his dreams for us and his grandchildren--is just beginning. Which in and of itself, perhaps in a strange and contradictory way, is a happy ending to my father's life story after all.

370 Days

My Dad passed away one year ago today. I've been thinking over the past week about my life before the 5 days when he got sick, went to the hospital, and didn't come home. It's like watching a movie of a woman (nah--a girl) who had a lot to learn, who was blissfully unaware of a whole side of life that so many people experience every day, who thought she pretty much had the world by its short-and-curlies.

I rewind my life up until 370 days ago in my head and I recognize the girl in the playback, but I see her in a kind of out-of-body, detached way. I know her, I am her, but I'm watching from a distance so I can't make out all of her features; or perhaps she is a bit out of focus on the film itself, which is what lends her image the quality of an apparition. She gets more in focus as Day 370 turns into Day 367 and then, inexorably, into Day 365, but she's still not picture perfect. She still has a lot to learn, a lot more mental and physical clarity to earn, as sharp as the heartbreak makes her seem through the haze.

I look at her the way I look at all the cars speeding by on the other side of the beltway, not knowing that just three miles ahead of them there is the tail end of a 50-mile backup. There they go, poor suckers, blithely motoring forward, thoughts of getting home, having dinner, seeing kids and wives and husbands, what they will do for the weekend. All the pedestrian concerns that cumulatively make our lives anything but. There they go, poor schmucks, no clue what awaits them around the bend. Wish I could tell them how things are not going to go the way they always do, that dinners will be missed, children will not be kissed goodnight, that life will not go as planned tonight. But there are no means of communication between my side and theirs. Today's events will have to play out the way they must, and those people in those cars in those lives will have to figure out how to navigate their own roads.

On my own road, 365 days later, I can finally see myself in my mind's eye, from that day forward, slowly-slowly lifting out of the haze of disbelief, denial and desolation. Slowly-slowly finding reasons to go on living in spirit as well as in flesh. Slowly-slowly giving myself permission to laugh, to feel joy, to let the convulsions of unsupportable grief subside into a dull ache, and then finally into a small hole in your heart that never heals but that allows you--or perhaps compels you--to begin feeling other people's joy and pain again.

If I could go back 365 days and change the world, I surely would. I'd be richer by virtue of having my kooky, nutty, wonderful, devoted father (and Bambina's grandfather) on the earth. I miss him in ways large and small, picayune and profound. But I'd also be poorer for missing the past year's long, slow journey toward clarity and focus of purpose. I know who I am, finally. I know that I can live through anything, finally. I know that letting down my guard to accept support from people who love me is not an admission of weakness, finally. I know that I have the power and the ability--and the responsibility--to be for the Bambina what my father was for me, finally. And I now know that all of the things my father hoped for me and all his kids--success, wisdom, faith, perseverance and conspicuous courage--I have the strength to achieve, finally.

I miss him every day, and remember him with this:

In Remembrance
--Hannah Senesh

There are stars
Whose radiance is visible on earth
Though they have long been in existence.
There are people
Whose brilliance continues to light the world
Though they are no longer among the living.
These lights are particularly bright
When the night is dark.
They light the way
For us all.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Check Back Tuesday Night

I'm doing my routine all-day stay at the hospital, so nothing doin' on the Haggis till night time!

In the meantime, as always:
Stay in school.
Eat your greens.
Don't do drugs.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gong Hay Fat Choy!

Happy New Year!

BEIJING (AFP) - Lunar New Year started with a bang as China's 1.3 billion population ushered in the Year of the Pig with food, drink and massive firework displays. Huge explosions rocked Beijing overnight as residents set off a record number of firecrackers to scare away angry ghosts and welcome good fortune for the New Year.

Hospitals are expecting a baby boom in the year of the pig, considered one of the most auspicious in the Chinese zodiac. For Chinese people looking forward to a week off work, New Year's Eve on Saturday focused on family gatherings, temple visits and extravagant firework displays which continued into New Year's day...

To prepare, we went to Chinatown yesterday to buy Bambina her new year's outfit (it's purple! Yay!), some paper lanterns and of course candy. We went to the one remaining Chinese store on what should more accurately be called ChinaStreet Near the Verizon Center. There are still plenty of good hole-in-the-wall restaurants, signs written in English and Chinese, the big Chinatown gate, and a sizable Chinese/Chinese-American population, but the one store we went to is the one store that still sells anything Chinese. It is surrounded by Starbucks, Ann Taylor and other chain stores lacking anything remotely Chinese in nature, which is kind of sad.

Happily, however, Bambina was in rare form. We went into a favorite place to get noodles for lunch but she immediately wanted to leave because she didn't like the way the floor looked (the tile had black elements that she thought were dirt). It was close to nap time so I figured this was step one on the road to overtired drama, and we left with our food rather than eating there. On the way home I asked her again why she wanted to leave. She said something about how she didn't like the smell of the place. I asked her why she is so concerned with smells these days, why she is so concerned with identifying them. She said, "Mama, me have old nose. It knows stinky."

Then we got home and I was telling her how this was the Year of the Boar/Pig. I told her how she was born in the Year of the Monkey, and the description of a monkey child was:
The Monkey child will be captivating. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she won't keep still for a moment. Mischievous, jovial and very competitive, she will steal her way into your heart. Skillful at flattery and extremely good at playing up to your weaknesses, the incorrigible Monkey will always get what she is after.

I hugged her, kissed her and told her how the "monkey child" description is very accurate. She looked at me very seriously and said, "Mama. Me not Monkey Accurate. Me ballerina!"

Which brings me to the last Bambina Bon Mot of the past year. She is loving a book called "A Day in the Life of a Dancer." It features photos of actual people with beginning reader-level narrative about what a dancer does, ie, "this is Lisa Torres. At 9am, she packs her bag with a leotard, tights, toe shoes..." She cannot get enough of this book, looking at the pretty tutus, the toe shoes, the pirouettes. What she also can't get enough of is naming all the people in a photo even if they are ancillary to the story. So Lisa Torres is flanked by three other dancers. "What her name? What his name?" Me: "I don't know. Dancer #2?" Her: "No. His name Hector. Her name Bar. Her name Bea." Whaaa? Now, I know I've never used the name Hector around her, nor have I ever referred to anyone as Bar or Bea. Somehow she has picked these names up and now wants to bestow them on every single person in every single story we read or movie we watch. It's totally cute, and yet totally annoying because you can't make it through a 9 page story without prepping yourself to have names ready for every single solitary human or animal on each page. Oh, I think the rabbit is named Doug. The ballet teacher is probably Franklin, and the school nurse is named Ming.
Oh, I'm sure it's a wonderful developmental stage proving my child's essential genius...

...or maybe Miz Bambina has simply figured out how to prolong her night-night story time, with the joke on Mama. Talk about Monkey Accurate...

Thanks for Your Service; Pardon the Roaches

A truly disturbing and sad account of how our injured soldiers are treated at Walter Reed. This is unconscionable, especially under the direction of an administration that purports to care about "our brave men and women in uniform."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Beautiful Pharmaceutical

I was about to write this post on the topic of my new meds and their side effects. Then I realized that, for one reason, it would be the most trite and uninspired screed ever put to paper: They simply don't make drugs that indirectly cause a combination of weight loss, increased muscle tone, clear skin, mental clarity and perpetually fresh breath. No news here.

Duh. Writing about weight gain, acne, insomnia, elevated liver enzymes and whatnot from medicine is about as groundbreaking and inspiring as reporting that rain makes you wet, snow is white and Taco Bell is not authentic Mexican. Duh.

So what I will do, rather than detail my slowing-increasing density, my dismaying quantity of comedones and my amazing ability to fall asleep anytime AFTER 2am, is issue a challenge to Big Pharma, an industry facing challenges with lapsing patents, competition, increasing costs and public backlash:

Ladies and Gentlemen of Big Pharma. This is the United States of America. Land of "You Can Have It All" and "The Consequences of my Actions Are...(Um, What are 'Consequences?')" It takes a lot of imagination and civic spirit to come up with all the permutations of what we can have and how we can not be held responsible for it, and we as a society have been hard at work doing just that. It's been backbreaking work--and plenty of it--but I think we're really seeing some payoff.

So what have you all been doing in the meantime? Oh that's right. You've been giving us "reality" a la

"We can give you a 3 hour erection, but it might cause a heart attack"
"We can lower your cholesterol, but in so doing we will fry your liver"
"We can increase your red blood cell production but you'll spend a good portion of all that newfound energy on popping your zits and hiding your eyebags."

NOT GOOD ENOUGH, is what I say to that, Big Pharma. Not bloody good enough. Your drug-induced side effects show an appalling lack of imagination and a complete ignorance of the current cultural zeitgeist, not to mention an undercurrent of anti-American "yin-yanginess." I'm sorry, but offering "treatment with tradeoffs" is not going to cut it in 2007. People want erections and they don't want them being ruined by all of your multiple-system-failure side effect warnings. You hear me? You all need to check yourselves, and HARD. Then you need to get to work on creating drugs that have pleasant side effects--especially for those of us who are your involuntary consumers.

So. I'm heading off for a walk to burn a calorie or two from my rapidly-proliferating ass fat. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing that you have developed a bone marrow drug that decreases cellulite, lengthens eyelashes, creates glowing clear skin, whitens teeth and makes farts smell like gardenias.

Friday, February 16, 2007

TGI Cheese

For your Friday "enjoyment" and because I am too busy to do you the courtesy of actually blogging, I bring you (with thanks to the good people at Brian'sDriveInTheater.com): Friday Beefcake (with cheese)

Now, I want you to take a deep breath before you look at the next photo. It is such a powerful image that, I assure you, I can never again find Sean Connery remotely attractive.

And with that, I bid you Good Shabbes!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day 2007: Hot Hot Hot

**Frantic calls saying, "Come over soon" and "How quickly can you get here?"
**Feeling adrift without this special man in my home right now, heating things up.
**Knowing that I can't make it through this night without him, without those special skills only he can bring.

I am, of course, speaking of the plumber.

I am, of course, speaking of the fact that the bath faucet blew open yesterday, pouring super-hot water into the bath at full tilt. That the shut-off valve to the bath itself broke. That I didn't know where to find the whole-house water shut-off valve to stop the deluge until I called two neighbors and a wonderfully helpful friend who sent me in the right direction, helping me to shut off both the water and the water heater until I could (and here's the rub) find a plumber. In an ice storm. On an hour's notice.

Yeah. You can tell how the night ended:

Three hours later.
500 bucks lighter.
...And the worst part of it all? I was thankful!

Aaah...the romance. Yes indeed. A textbook craptastic day. Made worse by the fact that Bambina was being particularly whiny all day, made worse by the fact that I was semi-ignoring her in favor of trying to avert watery disaster. Made worse by the fact that I was acutely missing my father. The entire time I was frantically trying to switch off the broken bath pipe, searching for the water valve, turning off the water heater, wondering why I was smelling gas, working to identify the myriad red and blue faucet handles on the multiple pipes attached to the various pieces of equipment, I was thinking, "My Dad would know this. My Dad would SO KNOW this. I wouldn't be alone in f*(&^ing water pipe hell smelling gas with my kid upstairs if my Dad were on the other end of the phone walking me through it."

In the end, I found a plumber, everything got fixed, my house was not destroyed and Bambina was suitably convinced by two chocolate hearts to let mama investigate the basement without her. It all turned out fine, but it was a timely reminder that it's inexcusable to not know the location of the water shut off valve. It's inexcusable to have never before set foot in my water heater closet. It's inexcusable to solely rely on the kindness of neighbors and the --$500-- advice of a plumber.

Bag of chocolate hearts? $1.50
Flashlight for water heater closet? $7.00
Plumber parts and service? $500
Unsubtle reminder that I need to become the same grown-up problem-solver that I've always relied on my Dad and Mom to be for me? Priceless.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Haggis Smackdown for Heroes

It's well-documented in these here pages that I love the NBC show "Heroes." I Heart Heroes. Big time.

That said, I am about to have to boycott it if they keep having Clare Bennett talk about her "real father" and "real mother." It raises my hackles every time she says it. Last night she and her (evil? misguided?) adoptive father had an exchange in which she said, "You're not my real father," and he responded, "No I'm not, but I'm the closest thing you've got."


If my adolescent ever says that to me, she will be reminded that Oh Yes I Am. Hear me now and believe me later, punk ass.

But enough about me. (What?!) I am so effing irritated at this dialogue because it doesn't have to be this way. They could still make the point that she is searching, she knows something is not kosher with her adoptive father's motives with the heroes, etc, without having it be all about her "real" parents. At the very least they could have at least one other character refer to them as "birth mother" and "birth father" even obliquely to make the point. But as it is, everyone on the show mirrors her language as well.

It's just so not necessary, and changing the word "real" to "birth" would not change the arc of the story, would not change the vibe of the story, would not change her emotions in the search for her birthparents. It would simply be one less way in which the outdated and offensive term "real" parents is used in common parlance.

How about it, Heroes? "Improve the cheerleader's dialogue, improve the world."

ps--My next mission: Getting British news outlets to stop using the term "natural" father or mother. What? Am I Bambina's Unnatural Mother? Synthetic Mother? Artificial Mother? Her Not-100% Certified Organic, BGH-Free, 70% Post-Consumer Content Mother?
F&*^ers. Stay tuned for a future post where I get all "unnatural" on Britannia. Right now, I'm too busy hammering Heroes. ;)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

So the snowstorm of the century has turned into the Ice Storm Pain in the A** of the Decade. Not enough snow to be fun, too much ice at this point to be safe. Bah.

One small glimmer of humor in the whole thing is this:

No, you are not misreading that yardstick. It does indeed reflect about one inch. Which makes one wonder why such a piece of non-news made it onto the WaPo's web site. Oh yeah, because it's the WASHINGTON Post, and one inch of icy snow does indeed close the federal government.

To be fair, it is quite icy outside now, at almost midnight, many hours after that photo was taken. There definitely will be good reason to stay off work tomorrow, if for no other reason than to let DC and MD's grand total of, say, 30 plows and snow trucks get the roads in some kind of traveling shape for Thursday. My only complaint about snow days here is that you get the day off work, you think you'll lounge around and finally get to watch The View and Oprah and The Price Is Right; but what you get is Round-The-Clock-Team-Seven-On-Your-Side-StormCenter-News-You-
Can-Use-Coverage that pre-empts any mind candy worth watching on a cold, wet, icy day.

Now THAT'S something I wish Rosie O'Donnell would rant about.

Early Valentine's Day

Just in time for Valentine's Day. My periodic phoning-it-in, all-quote post requiring zero effort on my part.

Hey--maybe I'm busy eating all of the toffee and nut mixtures in my Whitman's Sampler. What's it to ya?

People shop for a bathing suit with more care than they do a husband or wife. The rules are the same. Look for something you'll feel comfortable wearing. Allow for room to grow.
--Erma Bombeck

To love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down.
--Woody Allen

Can there be a love which does not make demands on its object?

Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell.
--Joan Crawford

When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: either the car is new or the wife is.

Many a man owes his success to his first wife, and his second wife to his success.
-- Jim Backus

Most importantly, friends, in the middle of all this Hallmark kissy kissy stuff:
Don't forget to love yourself.
--Soren Kierkegaard

2007: Year of the Premeditated Persian Provocation

Thank goodness the good people over at ThinkProgress are reading the paper more carefully than I am. Here is a quote from the 10th paragraph on page A18 of the WaPo:
One ambassador in Washington said he was taken aback when John Hannah, Vice President Cheney’s national security adviser, said during a recent meeting that the administration considers 2007 “the year of Iran” and indicated that a U.S. attack was a real possibility. Hannah declined to be interviewed for this article.


Wintry Mix

Bambina is in full-on anticipation of today's coming snowstorm. The snowsuit is already out of the closet. She has already extracted confirmations that yes, indeed, we will go out and make snow angels. She has her kiddie-sized snow shovel ready to go.

Now we just need the snow.

She's at such a great age right now; I'm loving it. She's sweet and loving and gives hugs and kisses for no reason. She says, "Me talk to Mama!" and then proceeds to tell me a story about a ladybug and a butterfly up a tree eating tofu then driving away in a blue van. Then she sings the ABC song perfectly until she gets to her favorite part, "HIJK...LMOPT!" It's awesome seeing her do and say all these really neat things, but as with all things, the upsurge of emotion cuts both ways.

Tempests arise without warning, tears are shed over which socks to wear, screaming and physically resisting are common when it's time to get in the car seat. Dramas--small and large--ensue from being told that chocolate hearts are not eaten for breakfast, that we may not leave the house without clothing, and that some things are, I'm afraid, simply non-negotiable.

It's a rollercoaster of lovelovelovedramadramadramalovelovelovetearstearstears and back to lovelovelove that can wear you out if you aren't careful to simply love it for what it is: your baby is becoming a person independent from you. She still loves you and needs you (and knows it), but doesn't understand why everything on the planet can't truly be all about her. You could say that these are the times that try moms' souls, but I think that offers a short-sighted view of a truly wonderful stage of life (and sets you up for a rude awakening when she turns 15 and the real drama begins).

So we wait for the snow. We bask in watching the unmitigated glee with which only a toddler can view a snowy day. We get the camera in the hopes that we capture some small essence of her joy on film, for her (but more honestly, us) to enjoy when she's older and way too cool to think snow is cool. And we wait for the meltdown when she's told she must wear underpants and socks to get near that snow.

Yeah. It's a wintry mix of feelings to be sure, joyous powdery snow and treacherous icy rain all wrapped up in one powerful and amazing human storm. So we thank God--even during the icy rain--that she's so beautifully learning about and navigating all these new feelings and ways of growing up, that she's becoming her own person.

And we thank God that she's here to teach us all these new feelings as we, too, grow up right along with her.

Your Dog Is Throwing You a Bone

This is a really long but cute article from Slate:

Why People Love Dogs
It's more complicated than you think.
By Jon Katz

My friend and fellow dog lover Edie, an occupational therapist in Massachusetts, has been looking for a mate for nearly 10 years. She finally thought she'd found one in Jeff, a nice guy, generous and funny, who teaches high school. They dated for several months, and just as there was talk about a future, it occurred to Edie that Jeff hadn't really bonded with her yellow Lab, Sophie. In fact, as she thought more about it, she wasn't sure Jeff was a dog guy at all. She confronted him about this at dinner one night, and he confessed, in some anguish, that he didn't love Sophie, didn't love dogs in general, never had.

They broke up the next week. More accurately, she dumped him. "What can I say?" Edie told me, somewhat defensively. "Sophie has been there for me, day in and day out, for years. I can't say the same of men. She's my girl, my baby. Sooner or later, it would have ended." Having just spent two months on a book tour talking to dog lovers across the country, I can testify that this story isn't unusual. The lesson Edie gleaned, she says, was that she should have asked about Sophie first, not last.

In America, we love our dogs. A lot. So much that we rarely wonder why anymore. This, perhaps, is why God created academics.

John Archer, a psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire, has been puzzling for some time over why people love their pets. In evolutionary terms, love for dogs and other pets "poses a problem," he writes. Being attached to animals is not, strictly speaking, necessary for human health and welfare. True, studies show that people with pets live a bit longer and have better blood pressure than benighted nonowners, but in the literal sense, we don't really need all those dogs and cats to survive. Archer's alternative Darwinian theory: Pets manipulate the same instincts and responses that have evolved to facilitate human relationships, "primarily (but not exclusively) those between parent and child."

No wonder Edie ditched Jeff. She was about to marry the evil stepfather, somebody who wasn't crazy about her true child. Or, to look at it from the opposite direction, Archer suggests, "consider the possibility that pets are, in evolutionary terms, manipulating human responses, that they are the equivalent of social parasites." Social parasites inject themselves into the social systems of other species and thrive there. Dogs are masters at that. They show a range of emotions—love, anxiety, curiosity—and thus trick us into thinking they possess the full range of human feelings.

They dance with joy when we come home, put their heads on our knees and stare longingly into our eyes. Ah, we think, at last, the love and loyalty we so richly deserve and so rarely receive. Over thousands of years of living with humans, dogs have become wily and transfixing sidekicks with the particularly appealing characteristic of being unable to speak. We are therefore free to fill in the blanks with what we need to hear. (What the dog may really be telling us, much of the time, is, "Feed me.")

As Archer dryly puts it, "Continuing features of the interaction with the pet prove satisfying for the owner." It's a good deal for the pets, too, since we respond by spending lavishly on organic treats and high-quality health care. Psychologist Brian Hare of Harvard has also studied the human-animal bond and reports that dogs are astonishingly skilled at reading humans' patterns of social behavior, especially behaviors related to food and care. They figure out our moods and what makes us happy, what moves us. Then they act accordingly, and we tell ourselves that they're crazy about us.

"It appears that dogs have evolved specialized skills for reading human social and communicative behavior," Hare concludes, which is why dogs live so much better than moles. These are interesting theories. Raccoons and squirrels don't show recognizable human emotions, nor do they trigger our nurturing ("She's my baby") impulses. So, they don't (usually) move into our houses, get their photos taken with Santa, or even get names. Thousands of rescue workers aren't standing by to move them lovingly from one home to another. If the dog's love is just an evolutionary trick, does that diminish it? I don't think so. Dogs have figured out how to insinuate themselves into human society in ways that benefit us both. We get affection and attention. They get the same, plus food, shelter, and protection. To grasp this exchange doesn't trivialize our love, it explains it.

I'm enveloped by dog love, myself. Izzy, a border collie who spent the first four years of his life running along a small square of fencing on a nearby farm, is lying under my desk at the moment, his head resting on my boot. Rose, my working dog, is curled into a tight ball in the crate to my left. Emma, the newcomer who spent six years inside the same fence as Izzy, prefers the newly re-upholstered antique chair. Plagued with health problems, she likes to be near the wood stove in the winter.

When I stir to make tea, answer the door, or stretch my legs, all three dogs move with me. I see them peering out from behind the kitchen table or pantry door, awaiting instructions, as border collies do. If I return to the computer, they resume their previous positions, with stealth and agility. If I analyzed it coldly, I would admit that they're probably alert to see if an outdoor romp is in the offing, or some sheepherding, or some beef jerky. But I'd rather think they can't bear to let me out of their sight.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm Doing Fiennes. How Are You?

Did I mention that I haven't posted in a while because I've been working for Qantas as a flight attendant? For reasons I'd rather not share, I'm back in the States now...
Daily Mail

Worst Speech Ever

Here is a rather depressing post on how Iran came to be a member of the "Axis of Evil." How anyone can still think this administration has any idea what it's doing is beyond me. Some might think they are evil. Fair enough. I happen to think they are something much worse: Totally Effing Incompetent, but with a brazen "confidence" that dares you to try to prove it. We've all worked with that person at one point or another. All you can do is pray they don't become CEO. Or Secretary of State. Or President.

Angry Mama Loves Angry Asian Man

Here is a link to one of my favorite sites, called Angry Asian Man. Each post highlights, often humorously and always articulately (if I can compare him to Obama for a moment), instances of prejudice or ignorance toward Asians/Asian-Americans in America.

I'd been wondering about Norbit, the new Eddie Murphy movie in which Eddie puts on serious makeup and plays the role of his racist adoptive Chinese father. Angry Asian Man gave it the name I was searching for in my irritated, incredulous mind: "yellowface." How can it be unacceptable for a white person to imitate an African-American for "humorous" purposes but it can be okay for an African-American person to imitate an Asian for "humorous" purposes? How is that okay? Thankfully, Angry Asian Man is on the case.

Amazin' Procrastinatin'

Click here to see some absolutely amazing, heartbreaking, uplifting, artistic photos. All were winners of the World Press Photo contest, and are a fabulous way to put off your Monday morning workload.

Friday, February 09, 2007

F^&%$# Good Work, John Edwards!

A great post over at MyDD on the John Edwards '08 blogger flap. Which, if you haven't heard, centered on his newly-hired campaign staffers who are former bloggers with rather colorful written records. Some of their stuff was objectionable to me personally, as well as not very well written, but the Malkins et.al of the rightwingworld were demanding they be fired for having been smut-mouthed morons. I was watching and waiting to see what Edwards would do, and I'm glad he's keeping them on.

Maybe because it gives other smut-mouthed morons like me hope that we are still employable by someone somewhere...

Oh--and maybe because we already have "major league a*&hole" PROOF POSITIVE that being a smut-mouthed moron is no impediment to the White House.


Should Small-Minded Jerks Be Allowed to Reproduce?

This month's issue of Parenting magazine posits the following question and responses in its "Mom Debate" section:

"Should single people be allowed to adopt?"

On the one hand, I should feel heartened that 81% of self-selected respondents said Yes, while only 19% said No. But here is what absolutely sent me through the roof-- (besides the unbelievable stupidity of the question itself, as if they'd ever have as a real question, "Should single people be allowed to have their babies? Should married people who hate each other be allowed to have babies? Should children living with one biological parent (say, as a result of a divorce) be considered less-than?"--was the answer of one Ms. Jill Mitchell of Simi Valley, California:

"No. Why would you want to start a child out with one less person caring for him? An adopted child already feels subconsciously cheated and rejected--why add to that?"

Well, Ms. Jill Mitchell of Simi Valley, CA. I suppose if that adopted child were raised by a closed-minded parent like you, I guess she or he might have no choice but to feel the weight of your judgment, and therefore feel cheated and rejected. Or, alternatively, I suppose if those feelings exist in some children who were adopted, they sure aren't helped by nice people like yourself who assume that any person who was adopted must by definition feel "cheated and rejected" because they didn't have the great good fortune to spring from the loins of one Ms. Jill Mitchell of Simi Valley, CA.

I wish I could meet Ms. Jill Mitchell of Simi Valley, CA and get some sense of what life in the Mitchell household is like. All well-adjusted tow-headed kids riding bikes and eating lollipops in the manicured front yard, basking in their biologically-guaranteed feelings of love and acceptance?

Hmm...something tells me perhaps not. But regardless of her response personally--and my very personal reaction to it--the fact that this question was posed at all in a PARENTING-oriented magazine, just shows the distance we still have to go to normalize in people's minds something that is older than time itself. You'll recall a story named Exodus, wherein a young woman named Yocheved took a basket, placed her son in it, and sent the baby down the river in the basket in the hopes that he'd survive the pharaoh's decree to kill sons. You'll recall that Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter, spotted the basket and retrieved the child. He was eventually adopted into the royal family. His name was Moses.

You'll also recall a young woman named Esther who was adopted by her cousin Mordecai after her parents' death. She didn't turn out so badly, as queens who save their people go.

My goal is not to do the List of Famous Adopted Celebrities, but to make two points:

1. Why are we still talking about this as if it's a bizarre and unprecedented state of affairs? Why can't a child be adopted by a single parent if that parent is found competent to be a parent? Believe me, the process for adoption is akin to a full body cavity search. I can count two completely bio, two-parent families in my neighborhood who wouldn't make it past the first round.

2. Why do some people still assume that to have been adopted is synonymous with being messed up (or "cheated and rejected")? Every study ever done on the outcomes of adopted children (under a certain age) found NO difference between biological and adopted children based on that status. Every study found that the almost sole indicator for a troubled future was the family in which the children lived; ie, that bio and adopted kids in troubled families were troubled at the same rates. Bio and adopted kids in well-adjusted families were well-adjusted or troubled at the same rates. Which is not to say that children who were adopted do not have issues they will need to process as they get older; but to imply that they ought to, de facto, feel less-than is the worst kind of nonsense: it is cruel nonsense.

Ed's note: if this post sounds like I'm mad as hell (at a magazine I got for free, no less) that's because I am. :)

So. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, who wants to tackle the venerable Parenting Magazine's next Mom Debate: "Should kids wear uniforms to school?"

I'm so glad there is no shortage of moms with the time, apparently, to answer the Great Questions of our Age.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Barack v. Bush

A timely reminder of a fantastic speech by Barack Obama from our friends at The Vigil:

The Good News Is: Your Butt is Famous!

I was watching Lost last night. During the commercial break one of those local news promos came on. You know the kind: "Tonight! Only on Eyewitness Stormtracker News You Can Use Channel Seven On-Your-Side at Eleven! Could there be a revolutionary new diet pill that will make weight loss easier than ever before?! Don't miss eyewitness Stormtracker News You Can Use Channel Seven On-Your-Side at Eleven to find out!"

It's the classic local news hyperbolic nonsense. Fair enough. But while they were asking their question (for which the answer always turns out to be "not really"), they were showing footage of people walking around the DC area--from the knees to the belly. Each shot was essentially of a heavy person's stomach, ass and thighs, and it got me to wondering: Do they have to get your permission to air footage of your bootage? I was trying to imagine being those poor people at home watching Lost and then going, "Oh my hell! That's my ass on TV! They were filming me?!!" Alternatively, if they do have to get your permission, how does that conversation go? "Hello Sir, we're from Eyewitness Stormtracker News You Can Use Channel Seven On-Your-Side at Eleven, and we're doing a feature on obesity and weightloss. Would you be so kind as to allow us to film your prodigious derriere for tonight's program?"

Either way, it's a pretty unpleasant situation for the person in question. You either get outed on TV, or you have the indignity of being asked if they can film your butt. With the further indignity that it's not even for Brian Williams or Katie Couric. It's for the permatanned and moronic "Chet Stackhouse" and his local non-news crew.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

It's Not All About Me?!?

I just finished reading "Overcoming Life's Disappointments" by Rabbi Harold Kushner.
My review?

Well, it was a disappointment.

I was expecting something along the lines of his "When Bad Things Happen to Good People," but I did not get it. First, the book uses Moses as an example of someone who faced disappointment after disappointment. Fair enough. But I just didn't feel like he managed to make the connection well enough between Moses and my good self in 2007.

Second, the book is a bit sexist. Not in the overt "oops I've dropped my pencil, Miss Tattersall, could you pick it up for me?" way, but in the "most men (and some women) singlemindedly pursue career goals..." Or, "For the most part, men's dreams center on success in business, women's dreams on fulfilling relationships..." Really? I just don't buy that. All of my guy friends have or want a fulfilling relationship, and I certainly didn't go out looking to become Mrs. [Man's First Name] [Man's Last Name] just because I was a woman. I wanted both, which most of my male generational cohorts do too. So--as you can see--he just sprinkled these one-off, throwaway sentences throughout the book that kept jarring me out of his narrative and making we think about Rabbi Kushner himself, his political views, and (more likely) the demographic of the congregation he leads. The book could have been written without the constant "(and some women)" caveats thrown in.

There were two things I did get out of the book:

1. A good discussion on Daniel Levinson's notion of "the tyranny of the dream," in which he discusses the need for people to loose themselves from the tyranny of their youthful dreams. When we are just starting out, we have a mental plan or perhaps just a nebulous idea of what we hope our life to be. In order to be truly happy, we must free ourselves from our previously-held dreams that may not have come true, and replace them with new ones.

2. A reminder that the events in life are not all about you: "When something bad happens, we feel singled out by fate. We are convinced that everyone else out there is happy and healthy and only we are suffering." But the way to overcoming our disappointment and pain in whatever loss we have suffered is to see that heartbreak is what connects us all, that almost everyone has experienced something sorrowful, and that we are not alone, not special because we suffer, and not the only person who has or will contend with losing the conviction that she is in control of her life. That really spoke to me, about getting to a place where you deal with your own disappointments by helping others through theirs, by letting go of the need to control every aspect of your life (it's hard, y'all), and recognizing that sometimes sh*t just happens--to you. Not because you deserve it. Not because you didn't have other plans going on at the time of the sh*t occurring. But because that is just life. Or, as Rabbi Kushner so beautifully put it at the end of the book:
If you have been brave enough to love, and sometimes you won and sometimes you lost; if you have cared enough to try, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't; if you have been bold enough to dream and have found yourself with some dreams that came true and a lot of broken pieces of dreams that didn't, that fell to earth and shattered, then you can look back from the mountaintop you now find yourself standing on, like Moses contemplating the tablets that would guide human behavior for millennia, resting in the Ark alongside the broken fragments of an earlier dream. And you, like Moses, can realize how full your life has been and how richly you are blessed.

Or, as Leonard Cohen wrote: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Always Do Sober What You Said You'd Do Drunk.

That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.

Thank you, Ernest Hemingway.

I'm sitting here at NIH getting my red cell transfusion and realizing that Ernie's admonition applies to illness as well as inebriation.

When I was really sick in December/January and doing all that scary advanced directive stuff, I (I'm not too proud to admit) was bargaining with God like he was selling trinkets at a flea market. You know, the usual stuff you say in some ludicrous belief that God gives such a rat's ass about you taking old clothes to Goodwill that he'd facilitate your recovery so you could go do it:

"If I get to go home, I will never {insert random not-nice thing here} again."
"If you help me get better, I will actually join a temple and formally commit to being part of the community."
"If you give me the strength to get better I will never again claim fatigue or full schedule as a valid reason for not doing something I ought to be doing."

The urge to bargain with God is such a strange phenomenon. Especially when, even as I was in mid-bargain, I knew that this was not how it all works. I knew, even as I was making nonsense vows left and right, that God does not "let" you live because you promise to stop saying "F*ck" so much. God doesn't "let" you die because He wasn't convinced by your vow to help little old ladies across the street more often. We all know it doesn't work like that. And yet, when crisis hits, our (or, at least, my) first urge is to launch into full contractual negotiations with the Supreme Being:

E (hereafter referred to as "the Supplicant") agrees to indemnify and hold harmless God (hereafter referred to as "the Deity") against loss or threatened loss or expense by reason of the liability or potential liability of the Supplicant for or arising out of any claims for damages. The failure by the Deity to require performance of any provision shall not affect the Deity's right to require performance at any time thereafter, nor shall a waiver of any breach or default of this Contract constitute a waiver of any subsequent breach or default or a waiver of the provision itself.

Yes indeed I was bargaining with God like a union shop steward.

I've come to realize lo these past few weeks, however, that the exercise in bargaining is less a conversation with God and more a conversation with ourselves, in which God is the long-suffering friend letting us yammer, or the therapist who is saying, "Hmm. And how do you feel about that situation? Help me understand why you feel it is important." I think it is the human impulse, when disaster strikes, to take stock of our lives to date and determine for ourselves where we feel we could do better. We then turn that into divine negotiations in the wishful-thinking belief that, a la Defending Your Life {Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep, 1991), that if only we can prove that we'd do it better next time, we can get another chance to do just that.

So the upside is that I got better and got to go home. The "down"side is that I now have to keep all the promises I made to God (myself?) back in December, and let me tell you, it is a hassle with a capital H. :) I've joined the temple. I've called friends to apologize for previous bad behavior. I've given others forgiveness that I'd been denying them. I've mopped and scrubbed my house (please God, don't let me die and have people think I kept such a nasty-looking house!). I've started behaving and living like what I claimed to believe about God is true, ie, that God is good, that faith is a good thing, that every single one of us--including me, sick or not--is responsible for tikkun olam (repairing the world). It's damn busy days in the aftermath of shooting my mouth off, let me tell you.

I'm just hoping that all of my "feeding the hungry" and "going to temple" activities will sufficiently distract God from the fact that I still say F*ck too much.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Oops! We Did It Again.

A great piece reminding us that just because there are no "plans" for war with Iran, doesn't mean that we won't go to war. Even though we're sending additional aircraft carriers to the region and are setting up special task forces, we have no intention, per se, of getting into a war with Iran.

Yeah. Kind of like how your boyfriend "didn't intend" to sleep with that woman; he just took her to dinner and invited her back to his place. The end result was a total surprise to everyone involved.

TPM: Gates and Iran

Friday, February 02, 2007

Save a Penny, Earn a Penny

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer Thu Feb 1, 8:56 AM ET

WASHINGTON - People once again spent everything they made and then some last year, pushing the personal savings rate to the lowest level since the Great Depression more than seven decades ago.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the savings rate for all of 2006 was a negative 1 percent, meaning that not only did people spend all the money they earned but they also dipped into savings or increased borrowing to finance purchases. The 2006 figure was lower than a negative 0.4 percent in 2005 and was the poorest showing since a negative 1.5 percent savings rate in 1933 during the Great Depression.

But not to worry:

The 0.7 percent rise in personal spending was the best showing since a similar gain in July. It followed increases of 0.5 percent in November and 0.3 percent in October and reflected solid spending by consumers during the Christmas shopping season.

Consumer spending posted a solid rebound in the final three months of the year, helping to lift overall economic growth to a rate of 3.5 percent during that period, up significantly after lackluster growth rates in the spring and fall.

So what we have is a situation where the majority of middle-class Americans are saving nothing of their paychecks, and then we're happy that "consumer spending posted a solid rebound." Yes, ours is an economic policy that celebrates when citizens spend money.

This headline grabbed me, a self-admitted economics moron, because it came on the heels of a TurboTax commercial that irritated the hell out of me. It was a man doing his taxes (so easily! without breaking a sweat!), when his wife comes in and asks how it's going. He shows her the screen featuring their tax refund amount, and she smiles, laughs and hugs him. Happy, happy days. All the things they can do/buy/own with that refund money!

Helloooooo?!!! That money is THEIR money! It's not a gift from the IRS! It's their money that should have been in their bank account getting interest for THEM! Until I met the babydaddy who explained this to me, I used to be one of those people who was delighted at my big ol' tax return, never thinking, "Oh my lord, that is $600 that was not in MY account this year working for ME. That is $600 I did not have in my account to pay my student loans and reduce my interest payments." I still know people who pay off Christmas gifts with their returns, or worse, buy more stuff, and I wonder, "Do you even remember what you got for Christmas in April?"

As the article pointed out, the last time our savings rate was so low, we were in the middle of the Great Depression, so people had to dip into savings to survive. What's our excuse in 2006?

When I Think of Peace, I Think of Rush Limbaugh

I checked and re-checked this to make sure it was not a joke. It is not a joke. My friends, we are witnessing the zenith of self-delusion. I wonder why we don't also nominate Geraldo Rivera or John Stossel? I guess they're feeling prickly about Al Gore's nomination, huh?

February 1, 2007
Professor Ole Danbolt Mjos
Norwegian Nobel Institute
Henrik Ibsens Gate 51
Oslo, Norway

Dear Dr. Mjos:

Landmark Legal Foundation herewith submits the name of Rush Limbaugh as an unsolicited nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

We are offering this nomination for Mr. Limbaugh's nearly two decades of tireless efforts to promote liberty, equality and opportunity for all mankind, regardless of race, creed, economic stratum or national origin. We fervently believe that these are the only real cornerstones of just and lasting peace throughout the world.

Rush Limbaugh is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host in the United States and one of the most popular broadcasters in the world. His daily radio show is heard on more than 600 radio stations in the United States and around the world. For 18 years he has used his show to become the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today. Everyday he gives voice to the values of democratic governance, individual opportunity and the just, equal application of the rule of law -- and it is fitting the Nobel Committee recognize the power of these ideals to build a truly peaceful world for future generations.

Thank you for your thoughtful and serious consideration of this nomination. Should you require additional information, please don't hesitate to contact me.


Mark R. Levin

SOURCE Landmark Legal Foundation

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Latest Bambina Bon Mots

Mama: How many legs does Henry the Octopus have?
Bambina: Too many!

Mama: Bambina, mama has to go potty; I'll be right back.
Bambina: Mama not use little potty. Mama use big potty. Mama have big bum.

Mailman: And how are you today, sweetheart?
Bambina: Me have bagina!
(After a discussion about why boys stand up to pee and mama and Bambina sit down/what makes a girl not a boy, etc. She apparently couldn't wait to share the news...)

There are more, but I think I'll have sufficiently emotionally scarred her when she reads that last one as an adolescent, that my work here today as an embarrassing mother is done.

The Day Has Come

I never thought I'd feel this way, but I simply cannot conjure up any interest in writing anything political these days. It all just seems to be a retread of stuff I've written or linked to before. Bush-as-Megalomaniacal-Emperor, Fox News spitting on journalistic practices, Senator Making Stupid Remarks, and always No End in Sight to the War in Iraq.

I think that perhaps I'm just burned out on the topic, perhaps I'm feeling too hopeless that any of it will get resolved. It takes a very special president to cause this level of political disillusionment. Even at the height of the Clinton stuff, where I was disappointed in him for allowing a personal weakness to create political weakness, I never felt like the whole country was on the wrong course like I do now. I'm sure that most conservatives didn't even feel that way, being that Clinton was being appropriately (in their eyes) pilloried for his sins. Where is Bush's come-to-Jesus experience for his sins? Where are all the Republicans and their concern for "honor in the nation's highest office" now?

And where are our Democratic leaders for a new generation? They're the inmates running the asylum. And why are we still allowing the "eminence grises" to dominate the headlines? Old schoolers like Biden, Kerry and Dodd should follow the example of Ted Kennedy (yeah. I said it. Ted Kennedy). Think of him what you will, but Ted Kennedy shows up, does his job, comments on issues relating to his job, and then shuts his mouth. It's taken him a while to get there, but he's learned that he is most effective when he is seen to be handling the business of the people of Massachusetts and of those impacted by his committee memberships. The man does not congratulate Barack Obama on being "clean" and he does not make ill-timed "jokes" about the military. Nor does he run for president--again--because he's got some new exciting perspectives since he last ran in the 80's. He does not dominate headlines when the party needs our agenda to dominate the headlines. Gentlemen, go ye and do likewise. Be the Ted your party needs you to be. But in any case, just Stop Talking.

As you can tell, I'm so disillusioned that I can't even put together one original thought about the state of our nation. Except to say that I feel kind of like we are coming apart at the seams, like we are entering a millennial version of 1968 where it just all feels wrong in our hearts, our heads and our guts.

I just keep hoping I'm wrong.