Wednesday, October 31, 2007

EHarmony for Elections

Here is a totally fun 11-question quiz over at WQAD, based on the survey by Minnesota Public Radio, that will help you figure out which candidate is most in line with your views on key issues. I tied for Obama and Clinton so it's really rather accurate at least in my case. The full survey is linked via WQAD. Enjoy!

WQAD

The Hard Truth About Soft Rock

So, as threatened, I am here at Chez Mohs getting the last thing on my face removed. Thank heaven they have wifi. Curse the gods that they have piped-in radio from one of those "the hits of yesterday and today, all day" stations. Today's playlist so far?

--Please Forgive Me, Bryan Adams
--Fields of Gold, Sting
--Voiceover by Dido, saying the radio station's call letters
--My Heart Will Go On, Celine Dion
--Crazy For You, Madonna
--Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Poison
--Thats What Friends are For, Dionne and Friends
--Inconsolable, the new one from the Backstreet Boys
--Voiceover by Mike Reno of Loverboy
--Almost Paradise, by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson of Heart

I needn't tell you that the only pain I am feeling at the moment is that of being trapped in a situation that forces me to slowly and substantively come to terms with the fact that the songs of my adolescence are now the songs of cheesy "adult contemporary" radio play, "at the office, at home and in your car! Nine hits in a row, every time!"

Now we just need freakin' Bananarama doing Cruel Summer and the Footloose/Karate Kid/ VisionQuest adult contemporary/spit-on-my-memories trifecta will be complete. No, no. What we need is Journey's "Faithfully" so I can totally relive the time my boyfriend broke up with me in high school and I spent the rest of the night listening to every song Journey has ever written and crying my eyes out. Yeah, bring that on. Because there's no humiliation like nostalgic humiliation courtesy of Steve Perry and Neal Schon. Although, they could also play You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi and I'll be reminded of that most 80's of truisms: Whenever life makes you feel small, the cure is to make your hair bigger.

When Democrats Attack

Last night's debate! Whoa! What a good time! And I'm not even talking about Kucinich saying he believes in UFOs.

Finally the gloves are off and we are having a real dialogue (well, all the dialogue a debate with Timmy Russert and Brian Not Brokaw Williams will allow). But seriously, it was the first time that Senator Obama has said to Clinton's face what he's been saying about her in interviews. It was yet another example of how Joe Biden is totally and eminently qualified to be President of the United States based on detailed grasp of policy nuance and history--but who remains unelectable for various intangible reasons I can't quite enumerate. Edwards came out swinging at Senator Clinton, precipitating the ensuing pile-on from the other candidates. And amen to that, quite frankly.

It's fashionable in certain circles to either hate Hillary and express disbelief that she should even be in this contest or to worship her as the rightful heir to the Clinton legacy--and a woman to boot! I'm in neither camp. She was, to be sure, under constant attack in last night's debate. But her performance was lackluster even if you give her points for being on the defensive. She didn't seem to FEEL anything she was saying, although I hesitate to say that because female candidates are always in a difficult position vis a vis showing emotion. She has to ride the line between being seen as caring too much, e.g,, weak, and being the shrew she's accused by many of being. So I don't want to ding her too much on that, but the fact remains that she didn't seem animated by anything in particular. She seemed to be playing the role of someone running for President, doing what she thinks that person is supposed to do.

Which is not to say that any of the candidates up there were somehow being "just folks" (well, except Dennis Kucinich and perhaps Joe Biden). They are all running for a job that requires them to speak and act in a particular manner. I get that. But Senator Clinton needs to step up the human side of things if she's going to disarm the other candidates' attacks on her. But, boy, did she completely not help herself in her flub of an answer to whether Spitzer's idea of giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants in NY was good one. First she said yes then no then not really. It was a classic "maalox moment" for campaign staff, where you can just see the candidate coming undone on an answer that seems to the majority of people to be a simple yes or no. She will regret that exchange if she does win the nomination because the tape will be played over and over again by her Republican rival.

Edwards performed rather well, leading the charge to stop Senator Clinton's lead in the polls. I really like his message of two Americas and hope that there is a place for some of his ideas in the next administration. I'm just not sure he's the guy to run that administration.

Which brings us to Mr. #2 in the polls: Senator Barack Obama. He needed to show something in this debate to set himself apart, to give him an identity beyond being "the black candidate with the strange name." He did it. I especially liked his answer to the asinine question of whether he is bothered by other candidates "accidentally" calling him Osama. He said, "But there is no doubt that my background is not typical of a presidential candidate. I think everybody understands that, but that's part of what is so powerful about America is that it gives all of us the opportunity -- a woman, a Latino, myself -- the opportunity to run. And listen, when I was running for the United States Senate, everybody said, "Nobody's going to vote for a black guy named Barack Obama. They can't even pronounce it." And we ended up winning by 20 points in the primary and 30 points in the general election. The way to respond to swiftboating is to respond forcefully, rapidly and truthfully. And I have absolute confidence in the American people's capacity to absorb the truth as long as we are forceful in that presentation. And we are seeing it as we travel all across the country. We have received enormous support in states where, frankly, there aren't a lot of African Americans and there aren't a lot of Obamas."

It was a classy answer to an unclassy question. I also liked his periodic digs at Mitt Romney's two-facedness. That said, I'm still smarting from his recent tour with Donnie McClurkin the "recovering" gay minister. I want to hear more from Obama with regard to his beliefs about gay Americans before I can fully support him the way I want to.

All of which brings us to two final points:

1. Joe Biden is funny and seemingly lacking an internal monologue, which means all manner of debate hijinks for you and me. His assessment of Rudy Giuliani: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11, I mean, there’s nothing else. And I mean it sincerely. He is genuinely not qualified to be president.”

2. When two candidates are still awaiting a single question after 15 minutes, you don't have a debate. You have a vanity project for Russert and Williams. Richardson and Kucinich are candidates in this race whether anyone thinks they can win or not. To simply ignore them in favor of the top three candidates is shoddy work on the part of "journalists." As we have seen time and time again in debates, the "lesser" candidates very often raise issues that force the front runners to respond where they otherwise would avoid the topic all together. Another sign (as if we needed one) that we cannot trust the media any more than we can trust the candidates to truly bring the democratic process to the American people.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wednesday Is Hump Day

It's also Mohs day. Yep--it's time for another round of Mohs surgery on a squamous cell near my ear. Then--finally--that should be all of the dermatological incisions I'll need for a short while.

Wednesday is also Halloween. Bambina is dressing up as a sunflower carrying a dog. Odd, yes. But hey, I don't meddle in my kid's dress-up interests. She just meddles in mine, which means that I have to go as a witch carrying a dog. It works for me, because I can use the witch hat to hide what will be the extremely large mohs surgery gauze pad over half my face. Which will also be behind a big turquoise N95 mask. Scaaaaaaayyyy-reeeeeee!

I'm hoping having the mask on will dissuade me from eating tons of chocolate, but not likely. I got some winter clothes out of storage the other day and had my little crisis when I realized that a pair of pants I used to wear are now a bit tight around the keester. (Keister? kiester?...never mind): ass. My old brown pants are tight around my ass. I was about to rack my brain like, "what the eff could I be doing to make pants tight? I barely ate for three months! Gimme a break!" when I looked at the tag and realized that the pants that now feel tight are a Size One. Yeah, I said the same thing: E, Shut the F Up. And throw out the stupid pants. It's called perspective, darlings, and the past few months have given me a serious--and very welcome--dose of it. And believe me: no one is more delighted than the BBDD who has experienced one too many of my "oh my god when did I turn into a pie shop?" meltdowns over nothing more meaningful than a pair of snug britches.

But I digress. Wednesday is also the day I will discuss the Dem Debate, the latest season of Heroes, and the ongoing drama of SCHIP.

I'll also give out candy if you tell me what you're wearing... :)

Monday, October 29, 2007

No Gloating

Which is why I will only say to those who consistently used the word "Rocktober" on this site:

SOXTOBER, BABY!!!

There. Now I'll display some sportsmanship. :)

How The Other Half Lives

So today Bambina and I were doing jumping jacks for fun while counting.
I did 100 without blinking.
And recovered my breath in about 4 seconds.
I turned to the Baby Daddy and said, "Is this normal? Am I okay?" He assured me that, yes indeed, even the most marginally fit person with normal bone marrow function will be able to do 100 jumping jacks without keeling over.

Forget keeling over; as the Brits say, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

I don't think, now that I look back on my life, that I've ever really known how you all have been living lo these many years. How the hell was I functioning with less than 25% bone marrow? How was I working out? How was I parenting my child? How the hell was I getting up in the morning and not collapsing by day's end? (oh wait--that I did). But seriously. I've been missing out! It's kind of like (although actually not really) that SNL skit with Eddie Murphy where he impersonates a white guy and all of a sudden he tries to pay for stuff but the newspapers are free, the bus is a party, life is just wildly different from his previous experience:
Eddie Murphy: You know, a lot of people talk about racial prejudice. And some people have gone so far as to say that there are actually two Americas: one black and one white. But talk is cheap. So I decided to look into the problem myself, firsthand. To go underground and actually experience America.. as a white man.

[ Eddie walks onto the street, the perfect portrait of a white man. He enters a convenience store, grabs a newspaper and drops it on the counter. ]

Clerk: What are you doing?

Eddie Murphy: I'm buying this newspaper.

Clerk: That's all right. There's nobody around. Go ahead, take it. Take it. [ Eddie gives him a quizzical look ] Go ahead, take it. Yeah. Take it. Take it.

[ Eddie takes the newspaper, and cautiously exits ]

Eddie Murphy Voiceover: Slowly, I began to realize that when white people are alone, they give things to each other for free.
[ cut to Eddie catching a bus. He sits down between two white women. ]

Eddie Murphy Voiceover: There was only one other black man on the bus. He got off on 45th Street. [ the busdriver looks around the bus carefully, then sets a party in motion, complete with music and cigarette girls ] The problem was much more serious than I'd ever imagined...

Yep. This "moving around without thinking your head will explode after 10 steps" thing has been your big secret. But the secret's out, y'all. Now I know what humans can do when appropriately fueled: hundreds and hundreds of jumping jacks.

Followed by a free newspaper.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Monday Monday

Check back Monday afternoon for an update. The fan was hit by the proverbial shiv this evening, so no blogging pour moi sadly.

Friday, October 26, 2007

I Only Get What I Don't Ask For

I’ve been having lots of really interesting conversations with Bambina lately. The difficulty level in chatting with a 3 year-old mirrors that of an adolescent in that so much of what she tells me comes as a result of active and intent listening rather than direct asking. For example, if I ask, “How was preschool today?” She’ll say “Fine.” But if I tell her I’m glad she’s home and that I can’t wait to hear about her day whenever, she will randomly offer quite detailed stories when she’s good and ready. I’m therefore learning to be interested and open to chatting without needing to dictate when and in what form the chat should occur. What’s really neat about this dynamic is that she and I end up talking about really deep or really humorous stuff that we’d never broach if I insisted on the Ask-Question-Get-Answer process. I was trying to figure out the name of this style of communication when it occurred to me that it’s simply called, “talking with your kid like she’s an actual person.” Yes indeed, we have our moments of adult/child scripted dialogue such as, “Say thank you to the nice man,” and “I’m going to count to three and if you are not—whatever—by three [insert grievous consequences here].” I’d be a pretty bad mommy if we didn’t. But the majority of our chats feel like chats I’d have with anyone, albeit on a different level and about more random types of subject matter.

From the theological/existential:
“Mama? Where is Bumpa again?” Followed by the delicate, “He dead, right?” Yes my love, he died. He’s in heaven. “How’d he get there? By train?”

To the philosophical:
“Mama, how do we get here? Who makes us?”
Oooh good question! Do you mean like in a mother’s tummy or do mean something else? “I mean how come we’re here? Why? Did God make us to be here?”


To the sociological:
“Mama, why are there mean people? I don’t like mean people. Do you?”

To the unknowable-but-vital-to-answer-properly:
“Mama, where is my Chinese mother? Is she still in China?”

Deep questions all. Of course, just when I think I’ve got the next incarnation of John Locke or Jacques Barzun on my hands, we discuss this:

“Mama! Sophie pooped in her pants today! It smelled yucky! (raucous laughter….reverent, ruminative silence)…Why do poops smell so bad?”

Like I said, conversations I’d have with anyone…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Now If Only They Had Q*Bert


GamaSutra
Is it *completely* dorky that I got a bit teary-eyed reading this retrospective of the Commodore 64? You remember the Commodore 64, don't you?

Good times, baby. Good old-timer times.

PS--You'll feel particularly old if you ever played a computer game with state of the art graphics like this (I'm talkin' to YOU, brother mine):


Man, I miss the 80's...

True Story of Lipton's Former "Craft"

May I submit the following article for inclusion in the most random, disturbing and simply weird factoid of the week? Even if you've only ever seen James Lipton and Inside the Actors Studio from the perspective of Will Ferrell and SNL, you still know you weren't expecting THIS:
James Lipton, the host of U.S. talk show, Inside the Actors' Studio, once worked as a pimp in Paris, France. The revered TV presenter, who has sat down with Hollywood's biggest names for in-depth chats about their life and work over the last 13 years, has revealed he once procured clients for French hookers.

He says, "This was when I was very very young, living in Paris, penniless, unable to get any kind of working permit... I had a friend who worked in what is called the Milieu, which is that world and she suggested to me one night, `Look, you'll be my mec... We would translate it perhaps... as pimp. "We were earning our living together, this young woman and I, we made a rather good living, I must say." Lipton reveals in his new book Inside Inside he would set up sex shows for clients of his lady friend.

He adds, "I had to accompany my clientele to the Rue Pigalle, which is where these things occurred. And then I'd take them up to the room and I had to remain there because they were very nervous, they were young Americans for the most part... and they didn't speak French."
Copyright World Entertainment News Network

Vibrators Don't Stimulate Genitals...

PEOPLE Stimulate Genitals.

From Langiappe:
It’s official. You can buy a gun in Alabama but you can’t buy a vibrator.

After nine years of arguing the constitutionality of the law, the state ban on the selling of sex toys will finally go into effect. On Monday, Oct. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear adult-oriented retailer, Sherri Williams’ challenge to the law, thus ending the battle and allowing state law enforcement officers to soon begin making arrests. The ban is a part of the Anti-Obscenity Enforcement Act, which was originally passed in 1998 in an effort to end nude dancing in parts of Madison County, not to ban sex toys. The act states that the distribution or production of "any device designed or marketed as useful for the stimulation of human genital organs" is prohibited in Alabama.

Once the injunction that has delayed enforcement of the ban has been lifted by Alabama’s Attorney General’s office, violators will face up to a year in prison and a fine of less than $10,000. Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Nebraska, Virginia and Utah all have similar bans. There are a few exemptions to the Alabama law, however. Devices can still be sold if they have "bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement purposes." Law enforcement purposes?


My suggestion is a National Vibrator Association, the NVA, that will vigorously support candidates who believe in an Americans' god-given right to masturbate in the privacy and comfort of their own home. We can make those witty bumperstickers: "Take My Vibrator? You Can Pry It Out Of My Cold, Dead Hand." Or we could refashion our image by promoting our educational programs around the safe use of sex toys, or we could call masturbation a hobby, much like hunting. More helpfully, we can come up with all the faux "medical" or "law enforcement" purposes that will allow people to continue to purchase any toys they damn well please.

All joking aside, this ban is asinine, to say the least. How a ban on strip clubs became a ban on stuff like joy jelly is inexplicable. And moronic. And sad. And, ironically, the perfect illustration of what "obscene" really means.

I Like My News Invented


RawStory
That's a link to a story showing that Fox News used a four year-old FBI memo, claiming it was from this past June, to raise fears that al-Qaeda may be responsible for the wildfires in California.

Here's my question: How many times do you get to eff up the news before you have to take the word "news" off your broadcast? Isn't there a professional association of journalists that sets standards for news organizations? Doctors lose their licenses, lawyers are disbarred, so why aren't journalists and news anchors excommunicated when they repeatedly display an inability to report the news correctly? How can you still have a "news" channel when you consistently and unapologetically report incorrect information?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Your Life As a Joke


TwiceTheRice

That's a link to a really wonderful post from the perspective of an adult adoptee from Korea. In it she addresses the impact on adoptees of seemingly "harmless" statements by adoptive families and the community at large. She specifically addresses this:


That image horrified me when I saw it, only to horrify me more when I read that adoptive parents are actually walking around with it on T-shirts.

If you've been reading since 2005 you know that I see the adoptive community like many other communities: mostly normal people with the best of intentions, with an unfortunate minority of people who are clueless to the point of malignancy, and a smaller number who are just outright bad for kids, bad for America. This T-shirt, for me, determines who sits in what category.

Our agency, and everything we read, emphasized the importance of truly thinking through the permutations of an international interracial adoption. Do you live in a community that will be hospitable to your child? Will your family provide an environment of unconditional love for your child? Are you comfortable that rest of your life will now be spent either educating or politely brushing off often-well-meaning but nonetheless-rude people? Are you comfortable with the fact that you will need a complete toolkit of skills that a biological parent may not need to have? Are you resolute in your belief that the only important thing is your child and not someone else's feelings/intentions/sense of humor? Do you have the skills and the commitment to become a "visible" family while working to ensure your kid is as anonymous as she (like most kids her age) wants to be? Are you at ease with the presence of biological parents, whether physical or emotional, in your family's life?

To my mind, the most important element for deciding to internationally adopt was to truly examine my motivations. In contrast to some of the literature, I genuinely felt that I was ready to adopt internationally when I could say that I was doing it for ME rather than for the child. After all, if I'm adopting a daughter from China to "save" her or to make her Christian (which, believe me, many many people there were quite open about), I'm not treating her as a person, as my daughter. I'm engaged in charity and conversion, not parenthood. I felt like it was the right decision when I said, "I want a family and we're going to China because that is where our daughter is." End of story.

Now that Bambina is my daughter I cringe when I see T-shirts like this, or I see behaviors among adoptive parents that fetishize their child's ancestry (like celebrating Chinese holidays without putting them on an equal footing with the family's other holidays, or constantly dressing their kids up in the qipao for special occasions when they can't even pronounce qipao or understand its place in Chinese culture), or when they search methodically for any potential biological siblings among the many adopted Chinese children which, aside from being almost impossible, only tells their kids that "bio is better." I pray every day that I find the right balance between saying, "She's not my Chinese adopted kid, she's just my kid," and recognizing that being Chinese and adopted are parts of her identity that are hers to decide what to do with as she grows. And it is my job to help her trace those parts of her heritage that matter to her, and to help her navigate between and among "American" culture, Chinese-American culture and Chinese culture. I want her to feel comfortable in her own skin, recognizing that she may take herself and our family on uncomfortable journeys to get there. I want her to be able to feel the losses she will inevitably feel, to seek the answers she may inevitably seek, and to live proudly and comfortably in all the worlds she must inhabit. Most of all, I want her to understand and feel in her gut and in her heart that she is loved completely and soulfully (in a way that will perhaps not have meaning till she has her own kids); a feeling she can't have if I treat her birthparents or her birth country as a jokey T-shirt.

Lazy Blogger

Sorry for the total lack of interesting posts lately. I'm lazy, uninspired and feeling more inclined to sit around and eat peanut butter cups while reading Perez Hilton than write anything semi-intelligent. Attitude adjustment coming soon. I swear!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

US Senate: Chickens of the Sea?

Here's a very interesting article on the little-known Law of the Sea, a treaty the US should sign. As the article says, "'You have an agreement that's endorsed by a Republican president, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard, an overwhelming number of senators from both political parties, business groups, trade associations, and you already have 155 countries that are party to the treaty. It seems like if you can't get that through, I don't know what kind of treaty you can get through the Senate,' said Spencer Boyer, director of international law and diplomacy for the Center for American Progress."

AmericanProspect

FrankenBerry Time!

Woo Hoo!! Kids of the Eighties! Let's Get Our Cereal On! This was my favorite cereal back in 1983. It remained my favorite even when my sister would cherry-pick all the marshmallows, leaving only pink cereal. After all, the main event was turning your milk pink, wasn't it?

TampaBay.com

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm Going to Go Out on a Limb Here....

...and say that in the bottom of the 8th at 11-2 Boston, that the Red Sox will once again go to the World Series. We'll discuss this all in the morning, darlings. Yes, the game of course. But also the burning question of why so many Red Sox players are sporting ill-advised and unflattering facial hair, why Manny wears his pants so droopy, and how adorable is Jacoby Ellsbury. You know, all the important stuff.

Insult to Injury


Philly.com
That's a link to an absolutely outrageous story wherein a judge determined that a prostitute was not raped by 4 men, but was the victim of "theft of services." The judge--a woman!--said "she consented and didn't get paid. I thought it was a robbery." Riiight. Except she consented to Guy #1, not his three buddies who showed up and had sex with her at gunpoint. In perhaps a small nod to human decency, Guy #5 declined to join the "party" when he determined why the victim was crying, and then helped her to get dressed and leave.

I'm speechless. Speechless. First, that a sexual assault could be treated so cavalierly by the justice system in 2007. Proof positive that we are still in the dark days where rape is the one crime where the victim is not immediately presumed by all to indeed be a victim. Secondly, that somehow being a prostitute entitles all men--any men--at any time to have sex with you, with or without your consent. Hellooo? A man can indeed rape his wife and a man can indeed rape a prostitute. To declare otherwise removes the personhood of the woman involved.

I can't write very articulately on this at the moment because I'm so stunned. All I can say is that "theft of services" is a cruel joke on someone (yes, even a hooker) who had something far more fundamental and irretrievable stolen than the judge in this case cares to ponder.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cool Stuff for Monday AM Procrastination

Once again (still and always?) I've been inspired by our friends at Dubious Quality.

This links you to an early Christmas shopping list for kids, and I've decided to plagiarize the whole idea. Now, I can't even approach Bill in his role as arbiter of all things cool and neat and interesting, so I'm just going to share some items that are marginally cool, somewhat neat and perhaps a little bit interesting for your ostensible reading and gift-giving pleasure.


Okay, first up:
The Monkey Board
Bambina is a rock star on this toy. It's active, it's fun (even for parents who want to see how well they can balance, surf or generally support themselves with their core muscles), and it's inexpensive and easy to assemble.

Next:
Wedgits
Thank you Uncle N and Aunt S for this gift that keeps on giving.




I have found myself getting equally engrossed as the Bambina in building something. It really encourages imagination as well as spatial skills, as evidenced by Bambina's construction of "a swing set," "a building with a restaurant on the top floor that spins," "the Buddhist tower we climbed when I was a baby in China," and "a dog." I pretty much just sit back and watch in amazement at the cool things these wedgits turn into the hands of an imaginative kid.

Glitter Glue
Sounds like a too-small gift, but it's awesome. It's nontoxic, rubs off easily, and is responsible for upwards of 100 hours of time passed enjoyably with the Bambina. Definitely buy three packages at a time because kids have no sense of "Whoa! That's too much!" on the page, so you'll go through it pretty quickly. And you'll end up with some great art projects and wonderful homemade cards for people.

Origami Kit
Be prepared to spend a decent amount of time trying to figure out how to make a crane while your kid immediately folds it randomly and says "it's a penguin!" The right package will have tons of paper colors and "origami for morons" instructions. It's a great rainy day gig or not-napping-but-really-ought-to afternoon where you just need a quiet activity that keeps kids engrossed. Throw in the book by Grace Lin, Lissy's Friends, about a girl who makes origami friends when she's the new kid in school, and it'll be a complete gift.

Dan Zanes and Friends CDs and DVD
I avoided DZ for a long time because his photo creeped me out. Until I was forced to listen to him when Bambina clicked on his photo on the Disney website. Who knew?! His songs are awesome, many of them traditional or folk tunes from the US and abroad, and they are 100% NOT annoying if they get stuck in your head. Bambina has decided she is now Barbara Brousal, the DZ and Friends guitarist, so we have to put her hair in pigtails and wear colorful clothes and sing the Barbara songs all day. Sometimes I think I've had enough of it all and then I remember that it's "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Strike the Bell" rather than The Wiggles' "Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car," and I feel total peace.

American Girl dolls
Bambina LOVES her Bitty Baby from American Girls. She picked it herself from the baby photos, which represent a good array of ethnic and racial features. Bambina immediately picked the baby with the medium brown skin, barely looking at the others. My only warning is that the older dolls seem to be less diverse. Lots of the standard light skin/brown hair; light skin/black hair, dark skin/curly hair, etc. Also, in both the Bitty Baby and AG girl collections, South Asian people seem not to be represented. For example, from the BB collection the only non-caucasian choices were light skin/almond eyes, medium skin/round eyes, and dark skin/round eyes. Bambina has brown skin and almond eyes, a choice not available either in BB or AG selections (or seemingly anywhere else, as if the entire continent of Asia south of, say, Shanghai doesn't exist). I know I sound like a total fat-headedly liberal nitpicker, but when you are aiming for diversity and your whole deal is to sell "dolls that look like you!", you ought not to omit the features of millions of people on the planet. That said, militant midget that I am, the doll has brought Bambina a lot of joy. I can tell having brown dolls with dark hair as well as white dolls with blond hair really matters to her, and it therefore matters to me. And beyond all the subconscious messages of ethnic self-acceptance and beauty, I love American Girls dolls because the clothes and shoes are waaay cute too.

A Kite. Any kite.
We read a lot of Grace Lin books (which you should also check out), our latest favorite being "Kite Flying." After reading it, Bambina insisted that we build a family kite. So, being the thumbless wonder that I am, I bought one and convinced her that "building a kite" could also encompass activities like "opening the package" and "tying the string to the little fabric hoop." The real story of the kite however, the one that gets it included on this list, is the day we actually flew it at a local park. Baby Daddy was holding the string and Bambina and I were holding the kite as we started running. No go. Bambina declared strongly that I should "stop pulling me!" while running. Okay. Baby Daddy, why don't we switch? The Girl and I will hold the string and YOU run with the kite. No go. I was still "pulling" her, not to mention realizing that I had no idea how to keep a kite up if indeed it did manage to get aloft. Okay. Baby Daddy, what are our options here? I can't run fast enough for the kite while holding her without doing myself some damage, nor can I run slow enough for the girl without completely failing at kite-flying. We need to fly this kite for this child on this day or we both know we ain't coming back out here till spring and that's not an option. So, rockstar daddy that he is, he just instinctively picked up the girl and the string, started running down the field like his Olympic career depended on it, and yelled, "Go! Now!" I shambled along trying to keep up, finally managing to launch it at the right moment, and off the kite went into the sky! I damn near cried, I tell you. I started screaming, "Woo Hoo!" Bambina started screaming, "Yay!" while gleefully laughing, and we couldn't stop jumping up and down even when the kite finally landed. So yeah, it was a ten dollar kite on a sort-of windy day. But it was also one of those days that, even when my kid is 45, I'll still remember the sound of her laugh, the wonder of seeing the dragon kite in the sky just as she'd imagined it, the physical and psychological freedom of running wild in a big field with no mask, no gloves and no worries, and being reminded that any man who can make his two girls that happy in one moment is a very special man indeed.

Now, with all the kid stuff out of the way, a couple of things for the grownups:

GabbyBaby These baby onesies and shirts have fabulous sayings on them such as, "please don't ask my mom rude questions thank you xoxo" and "please be nice to my parents they don't get a lot of sleep." Totally subversive in a totally cute way.


SukiPure
Of all the things in my life that have changed since my transplant the one that has brought the most drama-of-the-nondangerous-but-irritating-nonetheless kind has been my skin. My skin has been in freefall since chemo with no end to the peeling, drying and redness in sight. Just as I was telling myself that lots of people walk around with their faces covered in vaseline 24/7 with correlating greasy hair, Sweet D inquired whether I might be interested in checking out SukiColor cosmetics. Well, cosmetics, not yet. But SukiPure skin care? Hell, yeah! The situation with my skin is that it simply can't handle any kind of chemical whatsoever. Aveeno irritates it. Cetaphil irritates it. Even the vaseline and aquaphor weren't really fixing it; they were just kind of protecting it from any further onslaught. It turns out that all of those products have preservatives or are (duh) petroleum-derived. All irritating to extremely sensitive skin. As late as last week I tried a new Aveeno cream and woke up with my face bright red and perhaps twice the size of normal. Look for me as the villain in the next Fantastic Four movie... Anyway. Short story long: I tried the SukiPure facial lotion (which, I swear, has nothing in it that is not organic and completely pronounceable) and my skin actually feels good. The dryness is still there but it's not hurting and not making me want to scratch my skin off, and at any rate I assume it will take longer than two days to rid myself of a 4-month skin condition. So if you have any kind of skin sensitivity or are worried about putting lotion on your kids that contains known carcinogens (in "safe" amounts of course) as preservatives, absolutely get yourself to SukiPure. And if you'd like some lipstick that doesn't cause you to eat 100 pounds of parabens over a lifetime, check out SukiColor.

And speaking of eating, if you'd like to bake the coolest cupcake ever, head on over to Williams-Sonoma to get the Giant Cupcake Cake Pan. I'm not a baker, but making a Giant Cupcake might just convince me to give it a try.

Okay, so that should keep you busy for one Monday morning...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Red Sox Blackout

To answer the numerous emails you've sent, I have instituted a policy of not writing about any major Red Sox events until they are finished. My superstition is that, by writing about it, I--all powerful and pessimistic I--will change the outcome in a negative way. Just last night I was watching the game and saying out loud, "they are so going to lose this one; they are going to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory..." Great fan, huh?

In the meantime I'm sure our friends over at BaseballCrank (links to the right) will keep you busy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Celebrity Rap Superstar in the Hizzy

Yeah. I watched it.

For those of you with normal TV viewing habits, CRS featured "celebrities" attempting to become, well, rap superstars. There were huge stars on board like the guy who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite and Jason Wahler of the absolutely dire MTV show The Hills. But did I continue to watch it? You bet your beatdown. I guess I just have a grudging respect for the talentless among us who aspire to the heights of superluminaries like Tone Loc and Bubba Sparxx....

Anyway, I ended up really enjoying this show, as ashamed as I am to admit it. Perez Hilton brought a really fun vibe to it, even with the historically homophobic Tone Loc as his coach; and Sebastian Bach, late of hair band Skid Row, would show up and blow up every single week. It was a stupid, nonsensical good time for 80's kids like me. In the end, Shar Jackson (the former Mrs. Kevin Federline) won and she deserved it.

Okay, I'm just gonna stop myself right here and wonder how my life got to the point where I am actually up at 11-something PM giving mad props to effing Sebastian Bach for his bangin' rap skills and discussing Shar Jackson as if she's Rudy Giuliani. That's almost as unbelievable as the fact that Playboy Playmate Kendra Wilkinson made it all the way to the final two. Or, perhaps not that unbelievable seeing as she brings all the T and A viewers can handle. Which is another reason I actually enjoyed the show: I realized how much I've grown up in recent years. As I was remarking to the BBDD on the large-breasted half-naked woman with a grand total of ZERO rap skills just about winning the whole contest devoted to rap skills, it occurred to me that it was not many years ago that I'd have been OUTRAGED to the point of fomenting a letter-writing campaign at both the objectification of (even willing) women and the injustice that larger sister Countess Vaughn was not the winner. I'd have ginned up a boycott in my own mind of the channel, its sponsors and executed a Stalin-like purge of all sponsor products from my pantry. I would then have harangued my male friends about why they'd vote for a person with NO SKILLS just because she has huge breasts and fake hair extensions. Um...Duh, E? Luckily I've stopped trying to understand the average male's mind and just accepted that sometimes Naked Ladies Trump All.

So as fun and silly and not serious as the show was, it was tremendously fun to just enjoy something stupid while remembering a time in my life when my list of Serious Things That Must Never Be Found Funny At Any Time By Any One was as long as the chorus to Naughty By Nature's O.P.P.

And if this post was meaningless to you, don't fret. You're just not this show's demographic. Which clearly I am. ;)

Dodd Tells Bush: F (ISA) You

From TPM Election Central, some welcome news that Senator Dodd plans to put a hold on the FISA renewal bill designed to give telecom companies a pass on their roles in Bush's illegal eavesdropping scheme.

Go Dodd! Props also to Leahy and Specter who said they'd be happy to vote on the bill as soon as the White House tells them what they're voting on, ie, gives full details on the wiretapping program. File that one under "unlikely."

Exclusive: Senator Chris Dodd Will Put A Hold On Telecom Immunity Bill
By Greg Sargent - October 18, 2007, 1:55PM

Senator Chris Dodd plans to put a hold on the Senate FISA renewal bill because it reportedly grants retroactive immunity to telephone companies for any role they played in the Bush administration's warrantless eavesdropping program, Election Central has learned. Dodd will send a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this afternoon informing him of his decision. Dodd also plans to put up a page today at his campaign Web site where opponents of the immunity provision can register their opposition.

“Later today Senator Dodd will be sending a letter to Majority Leader Reid informing him that he plans to put a ‘hold’ on a bill that would provide for retroactive amnesty for telecom giants that were complicit in the Bush Administration’s assault on the United States Constitution," Dodd spokesman Hari Sevugan told Election Central. "Senator Dodd said that he would do what he could do to stop this bill, and with this announcement he has again shown that he delivers results.”

By doing this, Dodd can effectively hold up the telecom immunity bill, because bills are supposed to have unanimous consent in the Senate before going forward. One Senator can make it very difficult to bring a bill to the floor by objecting to allowing it to go to a vote. Dodd's planned action comes amid reports that the Senate Intelligence Committee has reached a deal with the White House on the legislation that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for whatever role they played in the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping program, which was approved by President Bush after 9/11. The White House and the phone companies have been lobbying aggressively for immunity, and the announcement of the immunity deal today dismayed many opponents...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's Not Ironic, It's Moronic

In a bitterly ironic move that will surprise no one at this point in this Administration's long effort at creating a theocracy based on junk religion and even junkier science, a person who opposes contraception on religious grounds has been appointed to fill a post that is...stay with me here...responsible for U.S. contraception programs!

Gee, I wonder how this story is going to end...

Contraception Foe Named to Contraception Post

The Department of Health and Human Services appointed Susan Orr — who has spoken out against contraception — to a post responsible for U.S. contraception programs. Orr, who will be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, has been directing child welfare programs in another branch of HHS. Prior to joining the Bush administration, Orr was senior director for marriage and family at the Family Research Council, a conservative group that favors abstinence-only education and opposes federal money for contraception.

In 2001, she was quoted in the Washington Post favoring a Bush administration plan to drop a requirement that health insurance plans for federal employees cover a broad range of birth control. “We’re quite pleased because fertility is not a disease,” she said at the time. “It’s not a medical necessity that you have it.”

Reached by email, Orr referred questions to the Office of Public Affairs, which said she was simply supporting President Bush’s policy. “As she said then, the policy allows freedom of conscience and freedom of choice. Practically speaking, workers should be able to choose what kind of coverage matters to them,” said a statement from HHS spokesman Kevin Schweers. “She wouldn’t have accepted the job of running the Office of Population Affairs if she couldn’t support the Administration’s positions. This Administration has worked to ensure grantees provide safe and effective products and services.”

A coalition of family planning providers called attention to Orr’s appointment and denounced it. “We are appalled,” Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement. “While her resume suggests a commitment to child welfare and children, her professional credentials fail to demonstrate a commitment to comprehensive family planning services for all men and women in need.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Jeb For America?



I'm going to have to take issue with my favorite cajun and tell him to go ahead and smoke some more of whatever he's got there.





Because I simply cannot fathom the circumstances under which another Bush should ever be supported in a run for the presidency. How does one, in looking for a brilliant stepping stone to the highest office in the land, point to a governorship in which your state's irregularities resulted in an unprecedented electoral nightmare resulting in your own brother's questionable victory--among other Floridian insanities and inanities?

I'm gonna say no to my man James. What do you all think?
Democratic strategist and CNN analyst James Carville tossed out a provocative idea during a panel discussion on politics Tuesday. At CNN's America Votes 2008 Breakfast, the chief architect of Bill Clinton's successful 1992 presidential run predicted that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be the Republican nominee in 2008. Jeb is a younger brother of President Bush.

Carville bolstered his prediction, highlighting Jeb Bush's career: He was a successful governor of a large state, he enjoys the support of social conservatives, he speaks Spanish, and "he's somebody the party could rally around," Carville said. "There is nobody in this field who can rally the Republican Party; he's the only person in America that can do it," he added.

That's Not My Bag, Baby

One of the meds I take in large quantities is called acyclovir. I was told that it's an antiviral intended to suppress any latent viruses in my body while my immune system isn't up to the job. Apparently we have viruses lying dormant in us all the time (hello, chickenpox/shingles!) that our immune system keeps in check. Without the immune system in top form, we need acyclovir to help do that job. Yesterday I was on the phone to the local pharmacy because the refill I got on my acyclovir contained different-looking pills than the last batch; I just wanted to make sure I had received the correct pills in the correct dose. The short story is that the pills were correct but made by a different manufacturer, hence the different color and numbers on them than before. Lesson learned.

The other lesson I learned is that you should always read ALL of the information on your prescription insert, because I made a horrifying discovery mid-discussion with the pharmacist as I blithely yammered away, blah blah blah, lah-dee-dah about "my last four refills": acyclovir is primarily prescribed for the treatment of HERPES. Yeah, THAT herpes.

Which is not to disparage anyone with herpes since lord knows that kind of thing can happen to anyone, but yo! I had no idea that while I was chit-chatting with the pharmacist about my 12-month prescription for acyclovir, or sending people in to pick up my acyclovir, or mentioning casually to random people that I'm on acyclovir, that what I was implying was that I have suppurating VD pustules on my privates.

Awesome.

I've decided, therefore, that there is only one way to disabuse anyone of the herpes notion regarding my good self: the next person who picks it up for me has to wear little round bandaids on the side of their lips and pretend his name is Haggis.

Gosh I Love America!

Click below for a very funny and informative quiz from The New Yorker's previous issue. It's called "Gosh I Love America!": A 2008 Campaign Quiz. Sadly all the information in the quiz is factual. My favorite questions are these:

**At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Joseph Biden referred to the queue of senators waiting to speak. How did he pronounce "queue"?
a) Kwa-you
b) Kway
c) Cue-you-ee

**How did a Times editorial describe Rudolph Giuliani when he was mayor?
a) A human hand grenade
b) A pit bull with a comb-over
c) A clumsy wife-leaver

NewYorker

Verizon's Network Actually Does Follow You Around



Carpetbagger
An unpleasant article on Verizon's willingness to hand over customer information to the federal government without search warrants. After all, "Verizon and AT&T said it was not their role to second-guess the legitimacy of emergency government requests."

A Different Kind of Wardrobe Malfunction


Apparently men can have wardrobe malfunctions too. This is a photo of long-time BBC presenter Terry Wogan who, according to the Daily Mail, had his "lunchbox" out on camera due to some ill-fitted moleskin pants.

Wogan has been around British TV since I was a kid living there. He's like a cross between Johnny Carson, Chuck Woolery and Regis Philbin; so just as you under no circumstances ever want to see those gentlemen's "parts" you can imagine my horror at seeing Wogan's meat-and-two-veg.

The moral of this story? First of all, gentlemen, don't be wearing "moleskin pants." Second, if it feels tight around the family jewels, feel free to adjust your seating position. Especially if you are on camera.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Analyze This

"The people people have for friends
Your common sense appall
But the people people marry
Are the queerest folk of all."
- Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Newsweek
That's a link to an article discussing a new book, "For Love of Politics" that purports to analyze Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage. Gee--what new and original subject matter.

Notwithstanding everyone's opinions on that topic (They don't really love each other! They are so in love! They are old, dear friends! They hate each other!), I'm just going to file this book under Stupid Meaningless Nonsensical Publications. Why? Because, as anyone married or formerly married knows, trying to dissect anyone's marriage is a fool's errand. We all have one or two of those friends whose spouse we cannot figure out, whose entire marital relationship we cannot figure out. How can she stand him? What do they talk about at the end of a day? That must be the most boring marriage ever... I tend to think that it's less of a lack on the part of the married couple, and more a lack on the part of outsiders trying to understand something of which they are not a part.

Even my own parents, whom I believe to have been fantastic raisers of children and exemplars of good marriage (if I may say so myself), had a marriage that I found to be inexplicable even on a good day. Not the love and commitment part; that I got. But the "how does she put up with that?" kind of stuff. I'm sure no small number of people saw them and wondered what on god's green earth brought these people together. I'm sure many people ask that about their kids' relationships too. What I'm getting at is that we can all identify aspects of other people's relationships that we wouldn't put up with under any circumstances, so why bother judging? A marriage or long-term relationship is unique to every couple in it. Or, as a recent anniversary card I sent said, "A good marriage is like a casserole; only the people making it know what goes into it."

I myself have no opinion on the Clintons' marriage, mostly because I just don't care, any more than I care about Jennifer Lopez's marriage or Angelina and Brad's marriage. Yes, it's entertaining to armchair psychoanalyze people in public life so that they conform to our pre-set opinions of them, perhaps because doing so fills the time we'd otherwise use to analyze our own marriages and relationships to bad effect? Who knows? All I do know is that just as you don't need to know the secret (and potentially ugly) ingredients that make the casserole tasty, you don't always need to know the specifics of someone's marriage to determine its worth. Sometimes you just have to say, "Hey--they seem fine with it and they aren't hurting anyone. So I'm going to mind my own damn business."

But then what would people write books about?

Friday, October 12, 2007

NBA=Mensa

The Quote of the Week, which made me fall off my chair laughing and pray I wouldn't wet my pants, from Sports Illustrated:

"There's no way I would take six years painting a ceiling. But I guess you do what you've got to do, and I just want to commend Michelangelo."
--Glen Davis, Celtics rookie, after seeing the Sistine Chapel on the team's trip to Rome.

The Classiest Chick in Radiology

So, how was YOUR morning? For reasons too boring to enumerate, I had a bilateral leg ultrasound today. All went well and I am just fine, except for feeling a little bit of that "bad touch" feeling in my tummy.

I don't know what I was expecting from a leg ultrasound (duh!) but I guess I was envisioning more of a greasy-legged x-ray or something. Oh my hell, y'all. This was the full-on K-Y situation and no mistake. My technician guy looked like a dead ringer for Alton Brown of the Food Network. So that started the proceedings off a little weird. Then he said, "okay, take off your pants, put on this gown and get on the bed." Fair enough. Then he brings out the squeeze bottle of joy jelly and starts wetting my legs. Only, it wasn't just my legs.

Hmm...how to describe this? You know that part of your leg near your hips that isn't your leg? The part that is kind of your hoo-ha but not your hoo-ha? Like, he had the monitor pressing into that part of my inner thigh/leg/pelvis that, if my va-jay-jay were a house, would be the in-law suite over the garage? Like, definitely not your Capital P Privates, but certainly a place that sure feels like it ought to be private!? That's where it all started. With K-Y jelly. With Alton Brown. Awesome. The most awkward part, besides a strange man pushing a hard object into my va-jay-jay's vicinity? It was tickling me and I could not stop laughing.

I think we've established through my various medical undressed events, that when I get nervous I find everything funny, but this was excruciatingly awkward because I could not stop flinching from the tickling and then couldn't stop laughing from a)the tickling and b)the nervousness resulting from me laughing from the tickling. Luckily for me, Alton was a consummate (did I just say consummate?!) professional. Unluckily for him, I was not.

So, laughter notwithstanding, Alton did his thing, going up and down both legs checking for whatever he was checking for. At one point it had taken so long that I was starting to get nervous, like has he found a bunch of blood clots? Do I have the first ever case of vein cancer? Can he not see my veins through my thigh fat? Finally he finished and said, "sorry that took so long, I just like to be thorough." To which, as I lay on the bed with my legs spread, K-Y jellied from v-j-j to ankle, I answered without thinking, "No. No. That's cool. I always appreciate a man who's thorough."

Congratulations, Al Gore

There. I've blogged on it. Whatever. He's not running for President, believe me. Think about it. If you had just won an international award, felt at the height of your persuasive powers, were looking forward to more accolades around the globe in a celebstorm of your own making--WHY would you give that up to be hemmed in by the presidency? Al Gore can go where and do what he wants, and he doesn't have to contend in any real way with the realities of political life.

Believe me, he's not running.*

*(If, in the unlikely event he does announce, I will ride the T here in Boston wearing full Yankee regalia for a full day to atone for my mistaken certainty.)

I Wish I Was Perfected

Not really.

By now you've heard of Ann Coulter's remarks on the Donny Deutsch show. I read them a couple of days ago but didn't want to blog on her because doing so makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. But now that it's big news, here we go.

If you haven't heard, Coulter said that Christians were Jews who have been "perfected." Plus some other stuff that's equally annoying. You can read it all here:
EditorandPublisher

So. What to say about this. Well, on the one hand, she's not exactly lying. It is a poorly-articulated way of saying that Christians believe in the New Testament, that they have a new covenant with God that the Jews don't subscribe to. In my Presbyterian Church growing up, I think I was pretty much aware of the belief that having Jesus as your Lord and Savior was the more evolved way of thinking, theologically speaking. So I'm not sure I can take issue with what she said exactly. What I can take issue with is the ease with which she said it to a Jewish person and the complete obliviousness to the potential offense such a statement might cause. Hellooooo??!! She told a Jewish guy (and his potential Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Jain listeners) that Christians are "perfected," and then got all wide-eyed at Deutsch's reaction to her statement.

My second thought is this: Where does Ann, this perfected Christian, worship? I have never heard her speak of her church or her pastor/priest. For a person who purports to speak for Christians and Christianity, I'm interested to know her worship commitments and religious community ties. Does she attend a church? Do her fellow parishioners mind her calling people f*gs and 9/11 widows "harpies"? How is she received among her Christian brethren?

My third thought is this: At one point in the discussion she says to Donny, "You're not a practicing Jew." Donny objects and says that he is, that he takes issue with her characterizing his Jewishness. What I find telling in her remark is that she clearly comes from a religious tradition that sees fit to stratify fellow believers. Certainly, based on previous remarks, she feels that some people are not real Christians, but now she's moved on to deciding which people are real Jews! Ann Coulter as the arbiter of Yiddishkeit! Whatever it's called in a Methodist church, in a temple that's called "chutzpah."

My fourth and final thought is this: the reason I cherish the separation of church and state is because it makes our democracy possible. How else can so many people of different faiths and religious traditions come together to keep the Good Ship America afloat? If we are constantly having these discussions, who is a "real" whatever, how my religion is more perfected than yours, how my God could kick your God's ass, there is little hope for our democracy. We all know that Christians do not believe Jews are "saved." We all know that Jews don't care to be saved, not believing it to be fundamental to their salvation, if there is even such a concept in Judaism at all. We all know that Hindus and Jain and Buddhists do not subscribe to our Western notions of religion (monotheistic, hierarchic, etc). Knowing that, I see it as a necessity that we put those specific beliefs somewhere off the front burner so that we can work together as one nation. If every discussion in Congress got mired in, "Well, we can talk about child health care as soon as you let me witness Jesus Christ with you" nothing could ever get done. Less (if you can imagine such a situation) would be accomplished and the wheels of our Republic would grind to a halt. I'm not saying that we leave our religion at the door, but a civil society requires that we not rub each other's noses in the differences of our beliefs, even if one of those beliefs is that I'm going to hell unless you take immediate and critical action to "save" me.

So, once again, not surprisingly, Ann Coulter has generated a debate that is unnecessary, unpleasant, and unproductive to our democracy. Now if only the media would practice excommunication...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Would I Marry This Candidate?

I've been pondering my lack of presidential campaign posts recently. Every time I think I'm fired up enough about something to write one, I just lose the urge entirely. This is partly due to my evolution into that most dreaded and pathetic of all creatures: the undecided voter. Yup. I just can't figure out who should get my vote. I will now have to eat my words; my previous mocking of these unrecruited souls as dimwitted, apathetic and uninspired must now be revised to reflect simple confusion, boredom and exasperation.

I go through the list: Why Hillary Clinton? But why NOT Clinton? Is being hated by every rightie on the planet enough to make me think she's obviously fully qualified? I figure, if Rush Limbaugh hates you with a passion, then you can't be all bad. But what would her policies mean for our country? More importantly, what would the Clinton style of leadership mean for our country?

So why not Edwards? I like his message, I like his "two Americas" approach. I'm not one of those shallow humans who thinks a rich guy can't care about poor guys. I love his wife. But something in me just hasn't caught fire for him.

Well then, why not Obama? Untested? Sure. But you could argue the same for most of the people who have been president in recent years. And "untested" by what standards? I tend to think more of a candidate who has been a working Governor of a state, has balanced budgets, has worked with legislatures, has had to generate some degree of cooperation and comity to get things accomplished. But who's to say that LBJ, having been a Senator, was any less qualified for office than, say, John Connally? What of Truman? He certainly seemed untested in the minds of Americans back in the day. So is Obama unqualified because he has "only" been a Senator?

And what of the others? Biden, Dodd, Kucinich, etc? Maybe we're not even going there because we don't really know enough about any of them to make a good call. Or perhaps there is something about them that just tells us right off the bat that they're not going to get more "presidential" in our eyes, no matter how qualified they turn out to be.

Perhaps it does come down to a voter's personal assessment of what is truly important on the resume of a presidential contender, which is why so many are undecided. For me, I think I'm going to stop focusing entirely on their resume accomplishments and start filtering the candidates through a modified version of "Things to Look for in a Boyfriend/Husband."

Number one, uber alles: Is s/he honest? Not in the "I promise not to lie to you unless absolutely necessary" sense, but in the bone-deep understanding that lying to someone who trusts you and who has invested him/herself in you, is a betrayal from which your conscience should never recover. Does this person respect and cherish the notion that a sacred trust has been placed in his/her hands? Does s/he have a historical understanding and love for the system that has made that trust possible and of the far-reaching, outward-rippling consequences of breaking that trust?

Number Two: Is the person intellectually curious? If he doesn't know something, will he be smart enough to either learn it or find someone who knows it to advise him? Does s/he genuinely want to understand you and your issues? Does he see you as a valuable person in your own right, rather than just another being who can give him things he wants and/or as an obstacle to the things he wants? Is s/he confident enough to seek advice but responsible enough to know when s/he must make a decision and live with the consequences?

Which gets us to Number Three: Capable decision-making skills that separate "self" from "other" while simultaneously recognizing that every decision or action has consequences for everyone involved. Will s/he try to understand a situation before judging or acting impulsively? And in that judgment, will s/he be both fair-minded and decisive? In other words, are you going to come home to a difficult discussion of relationship issues--or to your boyfriend in bed with another woman? And will the feelings that led to the infidelity then be blamed on you? On something YOU lack? Another example might be getting my country into a war on a whim then calling anyone who doesn't think I'm completely justified unpatriotic. Like, I did this because I needed to do it, and now that you won't just get in line with it or stay quiet about it, it must obviously now be some fault of yours that it's now a clusterf*ck. And I'll pay lip service to those who have lost something in this war but it's not gonna change my future actions or my willingness to publicly acknowledge wrongdoing. Most of us have had that boyfriend or girlfriend--and we all sure as hell have had that President. Don't wanna get fooled again.

Which gets us to Number Four, which sort of encapsulates #1-3: Does this person have the BASIC SKILLS for the job? On the emotional front, does the person have the personality and temperament required for a relationship/the Presidency? Does this person understand those requirements and is s/he willing and able to carry them out? Like, if you're not capable of monogamy you probably shouldn't be someone's boyfriend. If you're not able to take the long view of things or if you have no guiding bedrock principles, you probably shouldn't be putting yourself in the position to harm someone else under the guise of loving/taking care of them. If you just want to have a warm body until another warm body comes along(ie, power and attention), consider something less long-term and requiring less commitment.

It seems to me, now that I think about it, that much of the current judging of candidates focuses on the more nuts-and-bolts stuff to define experience. Like if you have never sent troops to war you are not qualified to be President. Hellooo!? No one has. Although I'm sure Rudy Giuliani will find a way to make his 9/11 "accomplishments" seem like war planning...

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that, for me, the "intagibles" ought to matter as much as the resume accomplishments. Or, to put it more bluntly, even a virgin can rock your world by the fourth date if he's blessed with qualities 1-3.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday Time Waster

I saw this on TwicetheRice and decided to kill some time doing it. I expect that you will do it too in the comments section.

What? You've got work to do instead? But it's Thursday! And that means it's almost Friday, which means you need a break.

Fun things come in 3’s

3 things you WILL do in this lifetime:

1. Mouth kiss Ewan McGregor
2. Take my daughters to their hometowns in China, where I will communicate (poorly, no doubt) only in Chinese
3. Travel to Italy. Shop, eat, sail, tour, eat, drink, tour.

3 songs with lyrics that have made you cry:

1. Hallelujiah (Jeff Buckley version)
2. Loch Lomond (Runrig live version)
3. Nightswimming (REM)

3 TV shows you enjoy watching (old or new):

1. Hill Street Blues
2. Heroes
3. Charlie's Angels

Dreams you once upon a time had, but that haven’t come true and you’re okay with that:

1. To look like Justine Bateman circa 1986
2. To act opposite Matthew Broderick (taking over the Sloane Petersen role) in Ferris Bueller 2: Cameron's Revenge!
3. To marry 'that guy.' All nine of you know who you are. ;)

3 places you go/have been where you found a sense of peace:

1. Standing at the very end of Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara
2. Cuddling next to Bambina early in the morning
3. St. Andrews beach across from the Royal & Ancient on a rainy morning

3 minor regrets in life:

1. Caring too much about my weight for so many years; all the wasted mental energy
2. Never really committing to learning French beyond the basics
3. Being a bit of a Bitter Betty Womyn for a while there in college...

3 clich├ęs or common phrases that you tend to believe are true:

1. What comes around goes around.
2. Consider the source...
3. If you can't blind them with science, baffle them with bullsh*t.

Okay--now it's your turn; do as many or as few as you'd like.

How Can You Miss Me If I Won't Go Away?

Today was my last weekly appointment at Dana Farber. From here on out, it's pretty much going to be monthly visits. Great news on all fronts, of course. But some part of me feels like a wee bird being shoved out of the nest. Which of course is the whole point: get me on the road to recovery, send me on my way (such as it is in-house) and then make room for the people earlier along that road to have their weekly intensive check-ups. But it is indeed a weird feeling. As much as I loathed the weekly weigh-ins and bloodletting I think there was a psychic comfort in knowing that I was being well-tended-to by experts, that no matter what came up, it was always 6 days or less till I'd have my mind eased. Obviously, I could get an appointment for 20 minutes from now if I needed one, but not having that weekly check-in will take an adjustment. Until today, it was their job to check me; now it will be my job to check me: to do a daily check for signs of Graft-Versus-Host, to do a mental check-in on anything different or out of the ordinary, and to continue to just accept that fact that my life is somewhat proscribed until further notice.

On the upside, I have plenty to keep me busy. Bambina has decided that she is no longer the incarnation of her preschool teachers. She is Barbara from the Dan Zanes Band. Barbara is a Diane Lane-looking hot older (?) lady who plays mandolin, guitar and violin in the band. She wears kooky bright colorful clothes and has (Bambina's key ingredient for love these days) dark straight hair. Every morning I have to pretend to be Bambina waiting for Barbara and Dan (she is also simultaneously Dan, but he is more of a bit player who tags along with Barbara) to come to my house for breakfast. Then we sing the song "Malti," which is in Spanish (thank you, Dan Zanes Band for teaching my kid another language!), and we discuss whether Barbara will be wearing her purple or orange tights today with her red jeans and pajama shirt. After preschool we sing the entire Dan Zanes Band catalog, spending extra time on "Malti," "Waltzing Matilda," and "Tennessee Wig Walk." By then it's time to ask Barbara whether she wants a dinner-dinner (one regular meal, like mac&cheese) or mezze (a bunch of little plates, like brie and pita chips, sliced apples, a leftover sauteed jumbo scallop, and some almonds). Barbara usually chooses dinner-dinner, but every so often Dan demands the mezze for his brie fix.

So it's been all fun and games with DZ and Friends. Although, Barbara's been around for a while now. She's cool and all, but I'm getting tired of calling her and asking her when she and Dan are coming over to sing 357 songs before dinner...

Hmmm....Maybe Dana Farber has a point on constant visits after all: How can you miss someone who won't go away?

Regrets on Your Chickenpox Party

Here's an interesting article debunking claims that it's good for your children to be exposed to harmful germs early in life. I know I sound like a harridan on this topic, but having just moved from an area where "chickenpox parties" were de rigeur (you know, all the anti-immunization parents bring their kids over to the house of a kid with chickenpox on the theory that the disease is less dangerous than the vaccination), and being the involuntary recipient of so much information on infection and immunity, it's kind of my mini-mission to try to help dispel old wives' tales about health. Partly because it just makes sense, but mostly because my life (and the lives of so many people with any number of chronic conditions that make them more susceptible to infection [not to mention your kids' grandparents and great-grandparents who are susceptible due to age alone]) really do depend--literally--on individual people making sound decisions about their own and their children's health.

This article (in case you don't feel like clicking and reading) explains why kids in day care and those around dogs and livestock, etc have fewer allergies and health issues than kids who are not. It is not, as was previously thought, because they have had earlier exposure to harmful bacteria and viruses, but because they have had earlier exposure to the millions of NON-HARMFUL bacteria that live in crowded spaces and among animals. Contrary to all of the news reports from several years ago, follow-up studies have concluded that kids exposed to harmful bacteria early in life are not healthier later in life at all. In fact, as the article says, kids who have had the flu are at a higher risk of developing MRSA (the scary antibiotic-resistant staph infection) pneumonia.

So do Grandma and Nana and Pops (and me and the thousands of other people downstream from your actions--including your kid herself) a favor and get your child a flu shot (not the nasal mist, mind you), get her vaccinated, and for god's sake, don't take her to a chickenpox party.

NYTimes

ps--This article reminded me of an article in this past Sunday's Globe detailing how hospitals with mandatory flu shots for employees have slashed the rates of hospital-acquired flu infections among patients. Of course, a large percentage of workers were still refusing on the grounds that the flu vaccine makes them sick. However, to get all Cliff Claven on you, the flu shot does not cause the flu. The vaccine is not live. You cannot--under any circumstances--contract the flu from a flu shot. Honestly. So go get one! You're not scared, are you? ;)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Haggis Hearts Peggy?

Oh Dear God. I once again agree with Peggy Noonan. Somebody stop me before I completely lose my marbles...

She completely nails the money-and-connections connection between being a Bush or a Clinton and being considered a front-runner. And, via Ted Sorensen, she highlights my own personal concern with a Clinton presidency: the antidemocratic nature of having the same two families run the country for 20 years; it just gives me the willies from a "for the good of the Republic" perspective.

PeggyNoonan

Silent But Deadly

From Metro.co.uk, a story that illustrates the importance of personal hygiene. You know, unless you want your neighbors to think you're a rotting corpse...

Appalling feet prompt police raid

German police broke into a darkened flat fearing they would find a dead body after neighbours complained of a nasty smell seeping out onto the staircase. The shutters of the apartment had been closed for more than a week and the postbox was filled with uncollected mail. But instead of a corpse police found a tenant with badly smelling feet asleep in bed next to a pile of foul-smelling laundry, police in the southwestern town of Kaiserslautern said on Sunday.

Home Is Where The House Is


And guess what, y'all! We now have one. Details to follow as soon as sharing them won't jinx the deal.

We now return to your irregularly-scheduled blog posts...

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Mondays

Some cool things from today:

First and foremost, a really fantastic article from the Globe about a 13 year-old boy who was born with one leg. This amazing kid not only summited Kilimanjaro, but raised money for a charity providing wheelchairs in developing countries at the same time. When asked how he faces a challenge like having only one leg, he answers, "I challenge the challenge." Pretty impressive kid by any measure.

BostonGlobe

Next, a website featuring a soldier on his second tour in Iraq. A local school sent him a teddy bear named "Battle Hard Bear," and this site is features his periodic reports on what the bear has been up to.

BattleHardBear

Finally, VH1 aired the Hip Hop Honors tonight. I recognize that I would win both the popular and electoral vote for "Girl Least Likely To Enjoy the Hip Hop Honors show." But tonight the honorees include bands that completely represent my early and late adolescence. Whodini (you think you don't know them but you do: "Freaks Come Out at Night,") and New Jack Swing (the movement that brought us Boys II Men, Heavy D and the Boyz, Tony Toni Tone, and all those other bands that I totally kissed a ton of boys to at dances...).

VH1

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Worth Every Penny


This past week saw the sad passing of one of my favorite ladies of all time: James Bond's (Ian Fleming's?) Miss Moneypenny. Lois Maxwell died this week at the age of 80. She had such a small role--and yet such a large one--in most of the Bond movies. I loved the fact that she completely wanted James but always kept a certain insouciance about her in his presence, ie, "Flattery will get you nowhere, James, but please don't stop trying..."

Even though her last Bond movie was in 1985, Lois Maxwell will always be the Original Moneypenny.

Fox Pins Their Latest Nonsense on Obama

Fox"News"
See, now this is why American politics are seen as a complete joke by the rest of the world. Here the conservatives go, getting all wee-wee'd up about Barack Obama not wearing a flag pin on his lapel. For the love of God, when did wearing a f&*%ing flag pin make you a better presidential candidate, a more patriotic American or an individual more worthy of people's respect? Is this all we've got to argue about? Obviously, it's Fox news, so note the details of this moronic tempest in a jingoistic teapot. All Obama said was the following:

“I probably haven’t worn a flag pin in a very long time. After a while, I noticed people wearing a lapel pin and not acting very patriotic...."My attitude is that I'm less concerned about what you're wearing on your lapel than what's in your heart," Obama said. "You show your patriotism by how you treat your fellow Americans, especially those who serve. You show your patriotism by being true to our values and ideals. That's what we have to lead with, is our values and our ideals."

That sounds to me like a rather reasonable and intelligent opinion to hold. Note that the article sub headline says, "Barack Obama may choose not to wear an American flag pin on his lapel, but many of the presidential contender's political rivals say they wouldn't leave home without one." But then read the story. The only "candidates" who dissed Obama on this point were Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. The rest either didn't comment or said something like, "I try to wear it when I can."

Fox "News" is once again trying to create news by engineering meaningless controversies. No surprise that it's at the expense of Senator Obama's perceived patriotism. His middle name is "Hussein" after all, and you know how Joe Sixpack (and Rupert Murdoch?) feels about that...

If anything, Senator Obama's comment makes me more interested in his campaign, not less. I still have not settled on a candidate for President, although I came pretty close the other day in a conversation with the BBDD when I said unthinkingly, "I just don't know what a Barack Obama presidency would be like. Although, more ominously, I know exactly what a Hillary Clinton presidency would be like..."

Double Wide

From Crooks and Liars, a piece on the "wide stance" of the GOP's convention logo elephant:
CrooksandLiars


Along the same lines, perhaps the funniest cover of The New Yorker ever:

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Iconic Woman


I wish the people who make TV shows had a shred of decency. Not the no-sex kind, but the respect-for-memories kind. I'm speaking of course about the new Bionic Woman show. I so wanted to like this show; I almost needed to like this show. But this show is terrible in ways too numerous to detail. I will therefore break it all down to three:

1. They effed with the original plot, such as it was, of a beloved childhood show for millions of people. In the pilot alone, we are treated to the "evil" former bionic woman, Jaime's ingrate of a younger sister, the death of her boyfriend, and various histrionics masquerading as acting. The 70's show was a bit camp, it had humor (some of it even intentional), and it made Jaime Sommers seem both approachable and untouchable. This version is needlessly dark, completely hammy (but not in the 70's good way), and devoid of all sense of interest in Jaime. In this version she's pouty, annoying and totally unbelievable in the role.

2. Maybe I've been spoiled by Heroes, but they don't highlight her bionic abilities very much, beyond having her do something heroic with her arm once in a while and having her hearing kick in in a way that annoys her. The lack of real bionic fun is due partly to the plot saying she is unwilling to use her bionic powers; to her constant annoyance at having this new power. The power of the original was in Jaime's interest in beating the bad guys. In this one, we are stuck watching her have a mini-epiphany about helping people over a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute and a conversation with Isaiah Washington. Annoyance plus faux epiphany. Need I say more?

3. Three Words: No Oscar Goldman. Yeah, they've got Miguel Ferrer in some pseudo-Oscar role. But no Oscar himself. Which should have, in and of itself, halted this misguided remake in its tracks.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

TGI Thursday

Quelle drame this week, darlings.

So I had the Mohs on Monday, my head still hurt on Tuesday, I took a painkiller since I can't take Tylenol, woke up with a raging migraine side effect on Wednesday. Barfed. Barfed some more. Then some more. Dragged my sorry a** to Dana Farber for my appointment. You may have seen me there. I was the girl sitting on the bench outside barfing into a plastic bag I had presciently brought with me for just such an eventuality. Made it through phlebotomy (not without warning the nice lady that Things Might Go South at any moment), saw my doctor. Learned that I really can take Tylenol, just not more than twice a day.

What was that old rhyme about "For want of a nail?"

So after a Wednesday of drugged-out "sleeping it off" interspersed with "waking up to barf" I am now back in top form and further committed to spreading Mr. T's advice: Don't Do Drugs! And also to wondering why barf bags and basins are always so small. Like, those little kidney shaped basins? And those little round barf bags? You're supposed to vomit your guts up into that little round hole with tidy precision? What, am I the Tiger Woods of barfing now? So much pressure on a sick girl.

Anyway, all of the day's emesis prevented me from enjoying the fact my blood counts are the highest and closest to normal they have been in probably 15 years. I couldn't appreciate it yesterday but I definitely appreciate it today. My immunity is still for crap, mind you. But my bone marrow be a-workin' and that's the silver lining on yesterday's cloud of hurl.

Bambina, as always ahead of me by light years, asked on Tuesday, a full 24 hours before getting my great blood counts, if I would be all better when the "red has left your face." I ran to the mirror expecting to see big welts or dry skin or something. I almost burst into tears looking at my very normal reflection because I realized that my 3 1/2 year old kid has never seen me with rosy cheeks and bright red lips before. I told her that everyone has rosy cheeks and now I do too BECAUSE I'm getting better. She got all excited, immediately forgot about my health, and said, "I have rosy cheeks?!" Yup, you do! Thereafter ending in a cheek ticklefest.

As I thought about her question later it struck me that kids pick up on more things than we realize. We talk regularly about what's going on, she comes along for the ride to various doctor waiting rooms, meets all my doctors, and she knows I'll be all better next year. We've made an effort to strike the balance between letting her feel a part of it and giving her a comfort level with where I am when I'm not home, while protecting her from details she can't comprehend anyway. However, it's clear that she's thinking about it more than we realize, especially when I remind myself that she is a full 6 months older--and wiser--since we began this whole journey. Every time I realize that fact I resolve to take more time to comfort her and reassure her about me, making sure she knows that it's not her job to worry about Mama. And then, just as I think we're about to have a teachable moment about her concerns about my health, she reminds me that she's wonderfully and life-affirmingly still a kid:

(Playing with my surgical gloves)
Bambina: We're wearing your medical gloves!
Me: Yes we are!
Bambina: Do you know why we are wearing gloves, Mama?
Me: I'd love for you to tell me, sweet girl. (Here it comes, my chance to have a conversation that is reassuring and comforting for her when she says "because mama is sick" or something)
Bambina: Because we are preschool teachers and we are about to wipe somebody's bum.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mohs Definitely Not

Y'all. Do NOT get Mohs surgery! Whatever you have to do to avoid needing it, do it and do it now. Get your sunscreen on, start wearing hats and long sleeves, avoid chemo if at all possible. Because you do NOT want Mohs surgery, darlings. As lovely as all the people are in the office, as talented and fantastic as the doctor is, it's called "Mohs Surgery" because it is indeed SURGERY. Promise me you will do everything you can to avoid this most unpleasant of experiences. I always hated having a pale white face in the middle of summer. Now I have this, all from a basal cell the size of three pieces of couscous:

Basal cells are, fortunately, not malignant. But they are also not lazy. They grow slowly but surely, and are essentially the icebergs of the skin cancer family. The couscous-sized pink spot on my forehead was a WEE bit larger underneath. And by "underneath" I do mean, like, through all the layers of epidermis (the part we know of as "skin", all the way to the dermis. Which is why my stitched forehead is throbbing like a motherflubber to the point of making me nauseous.

Friday is my Squamous Cell Cancer removal day, which may turn into a bit longer of a day since I think I've found another one near my ear, which means I'm going to need another Mohs intervention on that. Awesome.

I'm telling you this for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, because I am a complainer. Why suffer in silence when you can have others suffer with you?! If I can gross you out and freak you out too, then maybe my gross-out, freak-out day hasn't been a total wash. :) Second, because although I make the point that my lengthy immunosuppression bears a decent amount of responsibility for these skin cancers blowing up, the key point for people not so immunocompromised is this: The fact remains that 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure. End of story. So if you think a tanned kid is cute (who are these people in 2007?!), you need to know that you will bear some responsibility for any skin cancers your child develops. If you consistently lay out in the sun "just to get a little color" you will--almost guaranteed--end up someday with "a little" something else. Skin cancer is the #1 diagnosed cancer in the United States today. I'd call that a freakin' epidemic, wouldn't you?

All I'm saying is that there are things far scarier and uglier than white legs in July:

From the good people at skincancer.org~


2007 Skin Cancer Facts
*Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 1 million skin cancers are diagnosed annually.
* Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 250,000 cases are diagnosed each year, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths each year.
* One in 5 Americans and one in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
* More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
* A person's risk for skin cancer doubles if he or she has had five or more sunburns.

MELANOMA
Approximately 59,940 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,110 resulting in death.
* More than 20 people die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma.
* 1 in 59 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
* One blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
* While melanoma is uncommon in African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is most deadly for these populations because it is more likely to develop undetected.
* Survival rate for patients with early detection is about 99%. The survival rate falls to between 15 and 65% or higher, depending on how far the disease has spread.
* The cost of melanoma in the U.S. is more than $740 million annually.

MEN/WOMEN
* Skin cancer is the #1 cancer in men over age 50, ahead of prostate, lung and colon cancer.
* Melanoma is the third most common cancer in women aged 20-39.
* The percentage of women under age 40 with basal cell carcinoma has tripled in the last thirty years, while their rate of squamous cell cancer has increased four-fold.

TANNING
* Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
* Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.
* On an average day in the U.S., more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons; 70% are Caucasian women aged 16-49.
* People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
New high-pressure sunlamps emit doses of UVR that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.
* The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion.
* Up to 90 percent of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. These changes can be seen as early as in one's 20's.

So, armed with this scary new knowledge, my friends, HAVE A MOHS SPECTACULAR DAY! ;)