Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Unpacking My Baggage

In between moves it is so easy to forget exactly how long it really does take you to "move in" to a new place. I feel like I'm at it from 8 till 1 every day and I end up with perhaps another 5 square feet of cleared floor space to show for my efforts. Today I was so over the whole process that I actually sat down and watched The View. Yeah, that's how desperate I was to not open another box; I sat through Tyra Banks spoon-hugging Sherry Whatsername just to avoid unpacking.

As I was unpacking all of our glassware and china yesterday I was thinking back to when I had packed it. At the time it was one of the things I had told myself I'd do, mostly because it's a hassle to pack each glass, but also because I knew our friends would be packing us up and I didn't want them to have to sit there for three hours with newspaper and bubble wrap like they were on Christmas help at Crate & Barrel.

The reason I recall so vividly packing the china is because my one overwhelming memory of doing it is of pure physical fatigue. I remember willing myself to just finish another 5 plates and then I could rest, which became my routine: wrap 5 plates, rest. Wrap 5 plates, rest. To my not-altogether-happy surprise today, I had forgotten what it felt like to be running on empty. Which is not to say I'd like to revisit it. But what I do hope is that I never forget it in the context of being grateful for what I now do have. As I'm bitching and moaning about unpacking, I want to have that moment of grace where I remind myself how deeply lucky I am to be alive and healthy enough to be unpacking boxes in 2008.

At the same time I'm reminding myself that it's not over till it's over, and May isn't really when it's over as much as I have been telling myself it is. All things going well, it'll really be closer to Labor Day when I can start really venturing out normally rather than tentatively. I won't have all my initial vaccinations till July, with the follow ups in September, so while June will be a nice re-entry into life, I'm not really going to start going to the movies or restaurants until I'm immunized. So while I'm grateful for my vastly improved life circumstances, I also have to remind myself not to set up false timelines that I cannot meet.

I also am working myself through the psychological aspects of being out and about again. The unfortunate byproduct of this year of living dangerously is my belief that people are gross physical creatures. I don't want to turn into Donald Trump who won't shake people's hands, but I really don't see myself going back to my old kissy-kissy huggy-huggy self either. I definitely joke about eating sushi and flying to Vegas right out of the gate, but the truth is (besides the fact my doctor told me to really really not do that), I just kind of look at other people and think, "I wonder what is on his hands right now.." and so through no fault of their own, people just seem like mobile vectors for disease. Honestly, the thought of being in a crowded restaurant with someone perhaps sneezing or coughing completely nauseates me. I think I'd spend the entire rest of the dinner wondering if I'm now--or how about now--or now?--breathing in those sneeze particles from table five. So it's clearly going to take me some time to not be afraid of fellow humans breathing in my space, especially until I'm adequately immunized. Which is in September.

Until then, I'm just trying to find a happy medium where I'm excited for the future but not to the extent that I feel pressured to re-engage on May 29, 2008 at midnight EST. Where I'm glad I'm here and healthy, but also cognizant of the fact that my CD4 count is a sad and paltry 109, that 200 is the bare minimum for not being house arrested, and that it really needs to be nearer to 1,000 for me to be "back to normal" again. A number that won't be reached, probably, until 2009. So if I don't come to your barbeque in June and I don't smooch you all over in July, don't be offended. I mean, yes, I will be thinking you are germy. But it's really, truly nothing personal. Like I said, it takes a while to unpack your baggage. :)

Florida: Mac is Back; John is Gone; HRC L-I-E-S

Oh, Florida. Our quirky neighbor to the south, our go-to locus for political contretemps of all varieties. Last night's Republican primary gave the momentum to John McCain and saw Mitt Romney give perhaps the worst speech I have ever heard about all the things Washington hasn't done (nod to C for noticing it too). Romney is a disaster and I therefore pray that he gets the GOP nomination, notwithstanding Senator McCain's putative coronation.

On the Dem side, things get (of course) weirder and more annoying. Florida was stripped of its delegates by the Democratic Party for moving its primary before February 5th. Although their names were on the ballot, all of the candidates agreed--in writing--to refrain from campaigning in the state. Cue to last night's CNN report wherein Hillary Clinton is at a rally post-election thanking the people of Florida for "this vote of confidence" as she beat Obama handily 50% to 33%. What was irritating me was Wolf Blitzer's seeming inability to stop talking about her win in a way that made it seem like she won. He did offer the information that she won, "however no delegates have been awarded" and other inside baseball minutiae. But what CNN did primarily was air coverage of a victorious Hillary Clinton--a candidate who "won" an election in which no other candidate campaigned. Obviously that's a good campaign tactic on the part of HRC. And obviously CNN played along.

The most egregious part of the evening came during her speech when she said that she would work to ensure that Florida's delegates ARE seated at the convention. Helloo?!!! She signed a pledge, she agreed to the same rules as everyone else. But now that she can say she "won" she wants to claim those delegates? I swear to God if the Democrats give in on this one, I will absolutely turn in my membership and never look back. My point is not whether the primary date argument is a solid one or even a worthy one. My point is simply that we have a candidate in HRC who is not only trying to change the rules in her favor in the middle of the game, but one who is completely at ease ignoring the pledge she made just months ago. Call it what you want, call it just a tempest over some aspect of parliamentary procedure within the arcane rules of the party primary system; that is irrelevant. What is relevant is the ease with which Clinton simply decided that now that she needs those delegates, all bets, all honor, all promises are off.

In any case, the big news is that Rudy is out, finally, leaving all of us relieved that we no longer need to sit through his speeches with Judy Nathan at his side at the podium. I mean, on what other campaign (even the Clintons!) does the spouse stand right AT the podium with the candidate? The Giulianis are one hot New York mess that has mercifully ended its run. On the Dem side, Edwards will end his run today. On the one hand I liked his participation in the debates and on the campaign trail. On the other it was starting to appear unseemly that he was collecting delegates in an apparent "kingmaking" effort for the convention. Either way, I think he had a valuable message that I hope continues to be heard.

And with that, I'm off to unpack more stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What A Vote For Clinton or Obama Says About You

From New York Magazine, an article on the differences in campaigning and philosophy between the Clinton and Obama campaigns. This link goes to the last page of the article, but be sure to click back to page one and read the whole thing. If you can't find the time to click, here's the excerpt:

...The battle between Hillary and Barack has produced plenty of heat, with more to come, no doubt. But it has also generated
considerable light, clarifying for many of us that the choice we'll be
making on February 5 isn't mainly between two sets of policies or even
two individuals. It's between two different ways of looking at the

If you find yourself drawn to the Clinton candidacy, you likely believe that politics is politics, that partisanship isn’t transmutable, that Republicans are for the most part irredeemable. You suspect that talk of transcendence amounts to humming “Kumbaya” past the graveyard. You believe that progress comes only with a fight, and that Clinton is better equipped than Obama (or maybe anyone) to succeed in the poisonous, fractious environment that Washington is now and ever shall be. You ponder the image of Bill as First Laddie and find yourself smiling, not sighing or shrieking.

If you find yourself swept up in Obamamania, on the other hand, you regard this assessment as sad, defeatist, as a kind of capitulation. You’re perfectly aware that politics is often a dirty business. But you believe it could be a bit cleaner, a bit nobler, a bit more sustaining. You think that paradigm shifts can happen, that the system can be rebooted. Most of all, an attraction to Obama indicates you are, on some level, a romantic. You never had your JFK, your MLK, and you desperately crave one: What you want is to fall in love.

A vote for Clinton, in other words, is a wager rooted in hard-eyed realism. Her upside may be limited, but so is her downside, because although the ceiling on her putative presidency might be low, the floor beneath it is fairly high. A vote for Obama, as the Big Dog said, is indeed a role of the dice. The risks of his hypothetical presidency are higher, but the potential payoff is greater: He could be the next Jack Kennedy—or the next Jimmy Carter. The gamble here entails both the thrill and the terror of letting yourself dream again.

Monday, January 28, 2008

NOW That's Angry!

For proof that you should never email, write or--in this case--develop and disseminate a press release--angry, please see the link below. The New York State chapter of NOW is fightin' mad that Ted Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama. I'll let it speak (or yell, more accurately) for itself. All I can say is that she seems to have taken the non-endorsement of Hillary Clinton very personally. And that the writer forgot the cardinal rule of press releases (especially, unfairly or not, if you are a woman): judiciousness in the use of exclamation points. Instant loss of credibility if you consider your off-the-cuff reaction to reading the following two statements:
1. This is a betrayal of women. = decisive statement
2. This is a betrayal of women! = expression of my feelings

Enough said.

My Fellow Americans, The State of the Union Is...


Now, if only any President would actually get up and say that or something equally candid, I might enjoy the State of the Union speech more. But I'm watching so you don't have to.

First, I'm offering my Tim Russert observations. You know the kind: not for your edification, not to increase knowledge or understanding, but rather to demonstrate that I am really, really observant about one thing about you. For instance, Nancy Pelosi: Are you aware that you blink, like 120 times per minute? And you, Mr. Dick Cheney: Are you aware that you don't blink at all? You are both distracting me from the wisdom being dispensed from the podium by the POTUS.

Now onto the speech, or at least as much of it as I can sit through before I go hang curtains or flatten moving boxes. First, notable that he said outright he'd veto the appropriations bill if it didn't meet the goal to cut earmarks by 50% from last year.

Next, a focus on schools. His No Child Left Behind has been a roaring success, best scores in math and history ever. He doesn't mention that scores were trending that way prior to No Child, and that they haven't risen to a statistically significant level that would prove that No Child is the reason for the rise. Just sayin'.

Next, we shouldn't encourage a "false populism" among other peoples. How about we don't encourage false anything, Mr. President?

Okay, that's all I can sit through. Here's the deal. He's not going to say, "Sh*t y'all, I'm outta here in a year, we both know you're not gonna pass anything I send down here because I'm the biggest lame duck in an all-too grateful-for-my-departure duck pond, and let's face it: I have f'd this sh*t up!" All he's doing is saying "my fabulous program for American science competitiveness (because I'm all about science as it relates to my far-right issues) wasn't funded by you clowns in Congress!" That is just not going to trump curtain-hanging as far as I'm concerned. Because if anything meets the criteria for "pissing on my shoe and telling me it's raining," it's George W. Bush telling me he thinks we should have health care, tax increases cause deficits, and that he values human life.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

All Creatures Great and Small

While my friends (and of course the BBDD) were moving our stuff I was hanging out with Bambina. We started talking about what food we like/don't like. I told her that she never has to eat anything she doesn't like {I can see my Mom looking dubiously over the top of her glasses at me}. I said this on the theory that I sure as hell don't eat food I don't like, her father doesn't eat food he doesn't like, no one I know eats food they don't like, so why should I make my kid do it? I did say that our family rule is that she must try everything once or twice (and believe me, if she knew the quantity of covert butternut squash in her mac and cheese, she'd freak). But if she genuinely can't deal with corn on the cob, she doesn't have to eat it. I want her to grow up loving food in a healthy way, I want her to enjoy the pleasure that is a delicious meal. More than anything I notice that she eats a decently healthy array of foods without any cajoling or arm-twisting (obviously having tangerines and bananas visible helps), so why inject a power play into an otherwise lovely dinner.

Anyway, this conversation was precipitated by her very full--as in untouched--lunch box the other day. I asked her if she just wasn't hungry at lunch, if she didn't like the lunch, or what. She was evading the question so I said, "Seriously. I just want to know so you can get lunches you like." She then conceded that she no longer likes spaghettios. And that we got the wrong brand of string cheese. The Horizon Organic cheese is fantastic. The Frigo stuff apparently, to this preschool epicurean, is too stringy. So I tried one and damn if she wasn't right. That cheese was a hot mess of tiny yucky thin stringiness sticking on the roof of your mouth and between your teeth. So I told her she just has to say so and she can get yummy lunches.

So today was the follow up as we discussed what we DO like. She likes edamame, mac and cheese and brie. Then we started to discuss chicken nuggets, her most favorite food group outside the mac-and-cheese category. I said I like the soy kind, not the real chicken kind. I told her that with the exception of her forays to McDonalds, she's been eating and loving no-chicken chicken nuggets. I said I preferred fake chicken to regular chicken. She asked what was "real chicken." I told her that somebody catches and kills a chicken and cooks it. Chicken is an actual chicken, killed. I'm not a member of PETA or anything and I don't really have any issues with people who do love chicken and beef, and I eat them a decent amount of time myself to varying levels of aversion, but as I was describing how a hamburger is a cow that is killed and ground up and cooked, I was thinking "I cannot believe I'm having this rather violent discussion with my kid!" As I was getting to the end of my stream-of-consciousness Linda McCartney-style "I don't want to eat food that has a face" blather I was starting to feel like I'd said too much. Have I freaked her out? Will she never eat meat again? (not that she likes it that much anyway). Will she be all,"Mama! I love soy burgers too! Let's be the Vegan Twins!"? Is my little flower a gentle empath who speaks for the ducks and baby sheep?

Nope. When I said, "I guess I just don't want someone to kill a chicken so I can eat it," Bambina said, "I do! I want them to kill chickens for McNuggets!"**

So there you have it. My gentle, sweet and precious baby girl. Going medieval on poultry since 2004.

**This comment actually made me laugh as I recalled a July 4th parade in Takoma Park, MD a couple of years ago. Takoma Park is a "progressive" community wherein there was a great deal of consternation over whether the local farmer's market should be allowed to carry meat, organic or not. The goal of several groups was to ban meat from the market. Well, along come the parade floats, "Takoma Park Bank Salutes America" etc etc. And then comes a Meat Lovers float with a big sign: "If God hadn't wanted us to eat animals, then why did he make them so tasty?"

My Friends Rock

This weekend is the big move into the new house. Today a group of amazing friends came over and emptied the POD. And put the furniture in place. And assembled anything needing assembled. And did some serious troubleshooting of home-related stuff along the way. Four guys, all of whom took time on a Saturday from their own wives and kids to come and do the heavy lifting for us. Four guys, without whom there is no conceivable way this move could have happened. Four guys I'm gonna kiss as soon as I get medical clearance. :)

I pretty much always feel grateful for my friends, but days like today put me in the category of "humbled," however hackneyed the word thanks to Oscar speeches. I felt this way about the move up here back in May 2007 when we had to pack up and get here in 3 weeks or less. Friends dropped everything and came over to pack up and load our stuff. I feel so humbled because--let's all agree--no one actively wants to carry couches up three flights of stairs on a Saturday. No one in their right mind *wants* to carry boxes of textbooks for 4 hours. And lets be honest--even I long ago said that my days of moving people in exchange for pizza/beer or donuts/coffee were over as soon as I turned 30. My attitude became, "we are old enough to hire actual movers rather than afflicting our friends with this crap." But life takes unexpected turns, and you find yourself at 35 needing someone to help your eating-crow ass to move. And time and again, friends come through. So I'm taking the advice of Gertrude Stein who said that silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone, and saying a giant thank you to the Fab Four and to our DC Darlings for truly--truly--living the meaning of friendship. My goal is to someday soon be able to lift your couches for you on demand. :) Barring that, I'll gladly just come to your house for your choice of pizza/beer or donuts/coffee.

I love you, my friends. As we say here in MA: wicked supah lahge.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Slim Pickins

We're moving into the new house this weekend, starting on Friday, so things are going to be lackluster around here till Monday, I'm afraid. I'll post when I can, but moves being what they are, you probably already know it's gonna be a linkfest on here, if anything.

Can't wait to post from the new Haggis Headquarters!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Lies, Damned Lies and Ballistics

That's a link to the Center for Public Integrity's study that shows, once and for all, that the Bush Administration lied in the runup to the Iraq War. 935 times to be exact, on 532 occasions. God bless 'em for doing the math. At least someone, somewhere in the journalistic sphere is doing their damn job.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Funny Like a Clown

A British study found that decorating children's hospital walls with pictures of clowns terrifies the young patients. Their fear ranked equal with fear of areas devoted to needles. Penny Curtis, a researcher, said "Clowns are universally disliked by children."

Well, DUH!!

I still remember a hospital stay in 1976, at the age of four, which coincided with the Christmas holidays. A troupe of Santas and clowns came rolling in to bring cheer to the children in the ward. Holy mother of all that is ghoulish, I can still remember essentially screaming my head off the entire time until the man had to take his wig and nose off and convince me he was a person and not a monster. Ever since then I've wondered why people think clowns are funny. As Joe Pesci agitatedly inquired in GoodFellas, "I'm funny?...Funny like a clown?!!" Ain't no such thang, darlins. Clowns by definition are creepy with a capital CREEP. The exaggerated features, the physical humor, the entire act is just not appropriate for kids who already have exaggerated imaginations. I had nightmares about the horde of clowns for weeks; I'm not kidding. It just all felt so sinister to my 4 year-old mind.

I recognize that clowning has a rich history, from ancient Mesopotamia or wherever to the Commedia dell'arte to mainline churches and hospitals in present-day America. I get it. I understand that the exaggerated features and gestures are part of the act and art of clowning. I'm just saying that a study of 250 kids in which *100%* of those kids said clowns were scary, is a pretty solid result as far as I'm concerned vis a vis unleashing a car full of clowns on a bunch of sick kids. Which is to say: In the name of all that is merciful and compassionate, don't do it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Canada to Robert Gates: Suck It

The illustrious Vigilante has a fantastic post on the recent remarks of Robert Gates, our defense secretary. His comments were, "I'm worried we're deploying NATO advisors that are not properly trained and I'm worried we have some military forces that don't know how to do counterinsurgency operations. . . Most of the European forces, NATO forces, are not trained in counterinsurgency; they were trained for the Fulda Gap."

The Brits, the Dutch and--on behalf of Canada--the Toronto Star quite rightly and eloquently told Gates to shove his comments up his Fulda Gap.


Tonight's Dem Debate

I'm watching the Democratic Debate tonight in South Carolina. A couple of thoughts:

1. Could John Edwards be the most presidential-seeming candidate on stage tonight?
2. Could that be because Hillary succeeded in drawing Obama into a Punch and Judy-style bickerfest?
3. At the same time, Obama has to answer her charges or risk looking like he assents to the premise of her remarks.
4. Could Wolf Blitzer be less adept at the task of debate moderation? He's not at the depths of ignominy of, say, Timmy Russert, but he's no Walter Cronkite. He's not even a Barbara Walters. The guy needs to grow some already.
5. What will I do in November if Hillary Clinton is the nominee of the Democratic Party? I really--as much as it pains me to be an apostate to the party--just don't feel like I can vote for her. Which is not to say that I'd vote Repuglican. I just really don't see myself being able to cast my ballot for her under any circumstances, based on the conduct of her campaign so far. And if other Dems in good faith feel the same way, are we doomed to a GOP POTUS again?
6. Hillary just said, "Obviously we have to rein in the President." Could someone tell her that she should apply that advice to the previous President too? I have considered myself second to no one in my adoration and respect for the presidency of Bill Clinton, but he's killing me these days. I know he's in a tough spot being both a former Pres and a husband of a candidate. But could he at least maintain the intellectual fiction that as a former POTUS he's still presidential?

Okay, now we're on to the sit-down chat portion of the debate. More on that to come.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Annus Horribilis

or is that jubilatus? Just a note to remind those interested that today marks only 365 more days of the Bush Administration. The official one year countdown begins

My Luck-It List

The new Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman movie, The Bucket List, is all about two terminally ill men going off and doing all the things on their "bucket lists," that is, the list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket. Beyond the fact that few people who are truly terminal are able to insouciantly jet around with seemingly no limitations, the movie reflects the notion that the appropriate time to fulfill your dreams is when you're about to shuffle off this mortal coil.

That's hoo-ha. Which of course is easy for me to say seeing as I've dodged the need for a Bucket List so far. But here's my idea. Instead of having a Bucket List, why not sit down today--right now--and write out your Luck-It List. As in, you're lucky enough to be breathing, to have the health and strength to contemplate what you might do with the rest of your life, so sit down and write what you are going to do with it.

I started my list on Day Three of chemo: "I will have pots of African Violets on my porch." My Aunt Mary had little pots of African Violets all over her house when we first moved to the US when I was 8, and I remember looking at them like they were the neatest, coolest, prettiest, hardiest little mothers in all the world. Like, Brown Thumb Aunt Mary (I say with love) cannot kill these beauties! Rock on, little African Violets. Survive the hell that is Aunt Mary's benign neglect! Press On Regardless! When I look at them in bloom I will remember the day I wrote that wish, and they will remind me to be grateful and to remember that you can thrive no matter where you are planted.

Now before you think my Luck-It List is full of high-minded or maudlin To-Do items I have to confess that #2 on my list is: "Burn all my sweatpants not used exclusively for exercise," #3 is "Buy totally cute pants," #4 is "Get Buddha statue for garden," and #5 was (back when I was emaciated from barfation) "Get Buddha belly back."

Friends, I am pleased to announce that #12 on my Luck-It List is this, featured in the otherwise dreadful Parade Magazine: Bette Midler: The Showgirl Must Go On!! Yeah!! However the tickets happen, this girl is going to see Bette. Not right away of course. When I asked my Dr what exactly May/June '08 would mean for me in terms of "freedom" he said, "Well I wouldn't hop a plane to Las Vegas or anything" but that I could go to the grocery store early before it's crowded. Or eat at a restaurant either early before it's crowded or outside on the patio, assuming it's not a smoking area. So while my big dream for Bette in Summer 2008 (never mind walking into a store at lunchtime) will be somewhat delayed beyond May, I'm still putting her on the list. Why? Because Bette makes me laugh, and I want to achieve #6 on my list: Laugh loudly. A lot.

If you are having trouble coming up with list items, perhaps think about some thought or philosophy you hold to, and let your mind wander to specific items from there. Most of my tasks revolve around the quote at the top of my Luck-It List: "In spite of illness, in spite even of the archenemy sorrow, one can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways." And that's what I'm looking for these days: to be happy in small ways at all the small things I previously failed to notice.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Beans Means Farts

As you know, the biggest risk of death and disability during a transplant, besides the chemo and transplant themselves, is Graft Versus Host Disease, GVHD. It's the condition where the transplanted stem cells that become T and B white cells (if I may anthropomorphize them for a moment) "forget" that they are in a different body now (the patient's) and begin to identify that entire body as foreign, as if they were still protecting the donor. GVHD ranges from comparatively minor issues such as dry eyes and mouth sores to full-on scleroderma, loss of lung function and other nasty situations. The short story is that GVHD can affect any organ system of the body, from epithelial to digestive to connective. In some cases, GVHD can create a health crisis almost worse than nonfunctioning bone marrow; it can be disabling, crippling and often life-ending. In short, it's a nasty, nasty business that you just definitely do not want to have to live with or die from. You also know it was my worst fear entering this stem cell sojourn.

GVHD can strike at any time, especially as they are tapering me off the immunosuppressive drugs as we get toward May'08. For that reason, every time they taper me I am sent home with instructions to do daily checks for signs of GVHD. I check my eyes, I check my skin, I check every inch of myself for anything weird. It's a little nerve-racking because, not being a medical doctor, I'm not precisely sure what all I may be trying to identify beyond the recommended, "anything different or out of the ordinary."

So today I was getting worried. If I may share some (Too Much) Information with you, I was having, um, how shall we say...gurgling in the intestinal region. First the gurgling. Then the "movement of air" that you can feel internally, like your colon is shuffling back and forth on its feet. And then. Then you get the need to visit the facilities. Then it starts all over again. It was like that scene in Austin Powers where he's beating up a bad guy in a bathroom, flushing his head in the toilet saying, "Who is Number Two?" and Tom Arnold in the next stall, thinking Austin's had some bad shrimp says, "Hey Man. How about a courtesy flush over there?!" All I'm saying is that I was in serious "courtesy flush" territory.

It was so bad that I was seriously starting to think that I was getting GVHD of the gut (a completely unpleasant phenomenon wherein your stomach and intestinal linings are destroyed by your white cells) because the first sign of it is "changes in bowel frequency and consistency." I was so worried about it that I mentioned it to the BBDD, like, if it's not better by Sunday I'm going to call Dana Farber to have my excrement assessed. His response? "I don't blame you for being worried; but if it makes you feel any better, you did eat a large quantity of beans last night."

Turns out "cassoulet," "(A casserole of white beans, various meats, vegetables, and herbs, slowly simmered or baked in a slow oven)" comes from the French: "diminutive of cassolo, earthenware vessel."

Aah, 'earthenware vessel." As in the one you sit on for three hours apres-manger. Merde Indeed.

Memos to Bill and Hillary

That's a link to a nice piece by Vigilante on the recent spate of dramatic incidents among the Democratic candidates.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The NH Recount

Here's the link to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's recount web page where they are listing the Diebold totals vs. hand count totals.

Most look accurate. But the ones that aren't, really really aren't. I don't entertain the idea that the primary was "stolen" or anything. The more important question is whether these machines are capable of accurately reflecting actual votes. In some instances you will notice that the Diebold machines seem to have added votes that did not exist in the handcount. For instance, how can the machine have calculated more than a hundred total votes in a precinct that the hand counts did not? Where did those votes come from? Or where did the hand ballots go?

Maybe I'm seeing stuff that's not there. Maybe I'm statistically-challenged. If so, correct me. But don't the vote TOTALS not add up?

Somebody got some 'splainin to do.

49 To Go!

Okay, my first book of 2008's Fifty Books By 2009 effort is done. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I've always heard of it but managed to never read it. I liked it, although I do have to tell you that nothing really happens in it. It's the story of Francie Nolan of Brooklyn at the turn of the century; her family, her childhood, growing up, moving on, coming home. It is beautifully written in a quiet way, where you feel like you are simply following Francie through her life as a poor kid in Brooklyn. It reminded me of a less sad, less heartachy Angela's Ashes.

One of my favorite lines in the book is this: "What had Granma Mary Rommely said? 'To look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.'"

I've been trying to find a way to incorporate my resolution to Be Less Judgmental into my life in an honest way. When I read Granma Rommely's words in the book, it hit me like the KSW hit Tom Cruise {insert oral sound effect here to imply L. Ron Hubbard-like revelation). If you resolve to look at everyone and everything as though you were seeing them for either the first or last time, you can so easily put anything in perspective. It reminds us to treat people properly. So many of us in relationships say or do things to one another that we'd never have done in the first few months of the relationship. Why? Because we stopped seeing our partner as we saw them the first time--when we weren't looking for faults and when we were trying to fix our own. My Dad used to joke with me when I'd get irritated at his propensity for taking over my house when he visited, "The day will come, hen, when you will sit around and wish you had me here to mess up your kitchen and tell dirty jokes to your friends." Guess what? He was right. If I'd looked at his antics and said, "How would I react if this were the last time he'd be here to do this?" I'd have blown it off and said, "That's JP being JP" and chilled out already.

I've also been reading about Buddhism in an effort to better understand and be able to communicate it to Bambina. One of the key elements that hit me (cue the L. Ron Hubbard revelatory sound again) was the notion of choice. That I have the choice to feel angry, offended, irritated. At first glance you think that statement to be complete nonsense, after all how can I help what I feel? But when you really think about it, you realize that everything in life is choice. Including being offended or angry or hurt. Not in a fake way where you pretend something didn't hurt you, but in the way where you acknowledge it, let it be with you, and then let it go. This also struck me as a way to be less judgmental of others. After all, if I work to remove "irritated" or "offended" from my collection of available emotions, after a while it won't be the first thing I feel when someone does something offensive. And where there is no offense taken, there is no needless judging of others.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that my resolution to read 50 books is already helping me to keep my other resolutions. I judge that to be a good thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


If you haven't already seen this, please set aside about 9 minutes and watch it. It is the Tom Cruise/Scientology video that the Church pulled down off YouTube. Holy Mother of Xenu, this is a window into both the Church of Scientology and the mind of Tom Cruise. A very, very scary window. I'd be interested in your impressions of it. Mine ranged from horrified to mystified to annoyed. Horrified that he really, really does think he's got all the answers for "billions of people." Mystified that someone who has spent years controlling his image would sit down and say these things. Annoyed that the man can't finish one single sentence before starting the next, laughs like a crazy person at seemingly inappropriate moments, and spends 9 minutes saying the same thing over and over.

It was supposed to be a CoS internal video, so there are lots of abbreviations, like KSW (Keep Scientology Working, the book of rules and guides for Scientologists, I think), SPs (Suppressive Persons, anyone who is anti-Scientology, particularly in your personal life. Nicole Kidman, for instance), and Criminon (the CoS program for recruiting/"rehabilitating" inmates). My favorite part is where he says that when you drive by an accident, you know that, as a Scientologist, "you are the only one who can help." What, are EMT skills part of the KSW? And then when he talks about how he won't hesitate to "put my ethics" in someone. I'm not too proud to admit that there was a time in my life (circa Top Gun and Cocktail) when I would have been only too happy for Tom Cruise to put his "ethics" in me, but I think we can all safely agree that that was then and *THIS* is now.

If you don't have 9 minutes, here's Defamer's 108 second highlight reel:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New Years Resolutions

A good friend and I have agreed to be each other's (sort of joking/sort of serious) "life coach buddies" to keep us on our resolutions. It started as a joke, but now I think it's kind of great to have someone to check in with on my own goals as well as to offer any insights on helping him achieve his. He's a pretty inspiring guy in that he reads 50 books a year. That's five-zero! And he has a job and a life and a family to boot. So I'm going to see if I can do the same while reminding myself that a 62 page "Unauthorized Biography of Milo Ventimiglia" published by Tiger Beat doesn't count.

I was talking to the BBDD about my resolutions. I told him how I want to be more understanding and less judgmental of people. Then I said nonchalantly and rather jovially, "Actually, I want to be more understanding and less judgmental of people I love. Everyone else, I'm gonna keep judging. I like judging. Judging is fun!" So now I'm trying to figure out how to keep my resolution, stated specifically as, "To recognize that the majority of people, the majority of the time (myself included), are doing the best they can," while acknowledging that some elements of this blog--and my social life itself--would be shut down cold turkey if I actually worked to "stop judging." Quelle drame. :)

In other news, Bambina and I took advantage of the FOOT of snow yesterday to build our first ever Snow Couch. Ever since she was a teeny tiny baby, she has been totally into chairs. When we'd visit GiGi's house, she'd have to sit in every single chair in her living room just to see which one she liked best. She'd try to sit on anything that looked even remotely chair-like. We even had this baseball-sized clock in the shape of a chair that she would constantly try to get her tushie on, and as tiny as she was, her butt was certainly larger than a baseball. Even last snowstorm's Snow Buddha ended up a crumpled heap after Miz Bambina decided to see if she could sit on it. So this time she decided to skip the middle man and just have us make a snow chair. But when she wanted me to sit with her, I gently explained that Mama's bum might need a little more seating capacity than hers. Hence the evolution of the Snow Couch. To which she insisted we add a small "drinks table" for her snow cranberry juice.

I'm now proud to report that she's just a TV remote and a Patriots game away from total Massachusetts-hood.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mama Yay Yay

Bambina and I have a little dance we do called the "Mama Yay Yay Dance." She initiated it after the first time I drove the car again post-transplant. She insisted we sing it when I noted that my little hair wispies post-chemo are now bona fide sections of short hair sticking out weirdly among some longer hair. We now sing it every time I drive the car even though the WOW factor of being allowed to drive the car has long since passed, but I love doing it because it makes us happy. (The Mama Yay Yay Dance involves me picking her up and dancing around the room shaking my butt while we sing, "Mama yay yay! Mama yay yay!" Bambina then makes anyone in the vicinity say, "I don't like that song." She and I then have to very dramatically look at each other, then look at the person and yell, "TOO BAD!" Followed immediately by "Mama Yay Yay" at decibels a full factor greater than before). I take no credit for any of the music, arrangement or dialogue whatsoever.

Anyway, we did the MYY Dance today in a big way because this was the first time I've been to a playground with her for real since May. Sure, I've gone to the park since then, but if any other kids or parents are around I have to stand over to the side away from people and watch her from afar being pushed on the swings for instance by her dad. It has been my now-long running joke that I'm mystified why the cops haven't been called on the strange lady with the mask and huge sun hat standing at a distance watching the children at the playground. I look "off" and I know it. Anyway, today was pretty damn freezing so the park was empty. So the three of us went running toward it and laughed out loud at how cool it was to own the park. Bambina sat on her swing and I got to push her for the first time in 8 months. Eight months! Then I jumped on the swing next to her and did her favorite thing of swinging at the same speed and height while singing, "Swinging in the Rain."

This is going to sound like the biggest cliche, but I do believe I have not in 36 years had a happier day than today, swinging in a playground next to my kid, singing at the top of our lungs. To cement the cliche, I heard this tune in my head as we were swinging:

Mama Yay Yay indeed.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Deep Blue Sea

You have to watch this amazing video showing unbelievable bioluminescent sea life, courtesy of Mr. David Gallo. Watch around 2:30 for a squid hiding his aggressive side from a female he is courting. Amazing AND hilarious. Also watch starting around 4:05 for an absolutely jaw-dropping scene with an octopus.

This video is the coolest thing I've seen in 2008. If you do nothing else today, click this link and watch it.

ps--You should also look around the TED site itself. Very interesting stuff indeed.

The Only Trouble With Living In the Nor'east... the Nor'easter. Another one. Coming tonight. Enough snow already!

Oh and PS--Go Patriots!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Time to Plant a Bagpipe Tree

Bagpipes are now on the long list of things that are a threat to our environment. Whaaa?! Apparently, the wood used to make that most blessed of instruments is the endangered African Blackwood which faces extinction from overlogging.

I'm just not sure. Part of me thinks it's unpatriotic from a Scottish perspective to destroy the environment for bagpipes, especially since so many of our forebears lived off the land. On the other hand, something tells me that there can't possibly be such a tidal wave of global demand for bagpipes that entire forests are being clearcut for that purpose. Or, as "pipe major and manufacturer David MacMurchie, who uses Blackwood,...said, ""I for one am not going be made to feel guilty by a bunch of misguided environmental do-gooders; I am sure that the communities in Africa use a hell of a lot more Blackwood than bagpipe manufacturers. It is unfair and misleading to try to blame it all on us." However you come down on the issue, I'm calling upon all concerned parties to join me in planting a Bagpipe Tree. That way you can have your pipes and seed them too.

Haggis + Zac Efron! 4 Eva!

There was a time in La Vida Haggis where I had plenty of money and no time. Work kept me on the road 5 or 6 days a week, but the domestic balance sheet was in the black as a result. These days, as you can imagine, I have plenty of time and somewhat less disposable income. Back then, birthday gifts involved something pricey and gasp-inducing from delivered to your door. These days, you are either going to get a) nothin' but a card, or b) something homemade. Now, before friends and family get concerned about a return to my mid-90's misguided and ill-fated attempt to use a glue gun and various craft items found at Michaels Stores to make you a "present," I wish to reassure you that no pinking shears will be utilized this time around. My sad attempt to be Martha Stewart right out of grad school has long since ended. These days I'm trying to do things that require little or no skill, and yet reflect hours of genuine effort.

For instance, my niece. She's going to be 11 soon, and I thought she might enjoy a mix CD of music. At first I was going to give her a CD of music that I find to be important, interesting and necessary for a person to know about. Then I figured that to be potentially the worst gift you can give an 11 year old. "Happy Birthday! Here are songs that *I* find relevant!" Why not just give the kid a textbook and be done with it? So I have started compiling a mix CD of music I know *she* loves, with just a couple of "relevant" songs thrown in.
That's all well and good except for one thing: OHMYLORD I can't listen to High School Musical one more time! Finding and listening to Ashley Tisdale, the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, tween poptart whomever--has been nothing short of painful. I mean physically and mentally painful. Not to mention the embarrassment I feel when my ITunes screen says, "Since you picked Hannah Montana, you might like THIS!" and it's a song by Hayden Panettiere. Yes friends, if someone were to open my Istore, they'd see recos for Hayden Panettiere!! Can there be any greater infamy than that? If you don't know about Hayden, just know that the equivalent in my generation would have been being known as the person who bought all of Jennifer Love Hewitt's and Alyssa Milano's albums. The generation before mine will recognize themselves if they ever bought the Kristy and Jimmy McNichol album. You know who you are.

So here I am, compiling a list of songs I simply can't bear, all for my sweet niece's birthday. Something she'll probably listen to a few times until High School Musical 4 comes out and my CD is considered an oldies collection. It's painful in some ways because the music is so generically bad. It's painful in other ways because I know deep in my heart that if I were 11, I would be in love with Zac Efron, just as I was in love with John Stamos and Ricky Schroder.

I simply thank god that neither ever cut an album.

Fortune's Sisters

Here's a link to a story in the New York Times about three girls adopted from China who continue to have each other as they grow up. It's actually somewhat reflective of our experience. We met a couple on our trip to China who adopted a little girl a week older than Bambina from the same orphanage. We hit it off, became friends, and now consider each other family. What makes our relationship so wonderful is the fact that our two girls have known each other longer than we have known them. They are each other's connection to their first few months of life, and as they grow older and begin to contend with their very unique histories, they can be there for each other in ways that even committed, understanding and loving parents can't be. It's also a moving discussion of the challenges facing both adoptive parents and kids as the kids get older. One line really hit home for me: "Having read about older transracial adoptees, some of whom say they resent having lost their cultural identity, these three mothers worry about what their daughters will think when they are no longer the silent characters of their own stories but their authors — and editors." This speaks to my motivation in addressing the element of adoption in Bambina's life: preparing her--and allowing her no matter what--to embrace the authorship and editorship of her own life story. It's why I guard details of her early life, why I don't post her photos on blogs of adopted Chinese kids, why I insist that Chinese traditions become a part of our family's traditions. Why she took Chinese lessons. Why she and I are going to do Chinese School on Saturdays as soon as I am out and about. Am I "forcing" Chinese culture on her? Only if you consider the other stuff we do to be "forcing" American culture on her. Are Irish parents whose kids take Irish dancing lessons forcing Irish culture on their kids? Who knows? The point is, that by doing so you are giving your kid a connection to her heritage and giving her choices later in life. If Bambina feels like Chinese dancing is not her thing, she is more than welcome to drop it when she's older. But to not give her the chance to learn it for fear of "forcing" it? That's hooey. She is entitled to know about and understand and find joy in her birth culture. And quite frankly, so am I! The key is that we do it together, that we connect with other Chinese families, and that Bambina has the opportunity to get involved with something that might give her pride, fun and enjoyment during those years where sometimes you just need a place where you can feel at home in your own skin.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Yes We Can

It's 11:12pm and Obama is up to 37% vs. HRC's 39%! We could still pull this thing out!!!

Just kidding.

Good for HRC mobilizing her folks, and good for Obama getting so close. And good for Edwards for vowing to stay in the race all the way to the convention. And good for Richardson getting his 10,000 votes out! Go Bill!

And good for McCain getting back in the damn game. I just hope Romney can get his stuff together so he can be the GOP nominee, with Giuliani as VP. That is my Democratic dream for the Republican ticket.

But back to Hillary. Two thoughts: she is a master co-opter and triangulator, even with little notice. I just watched her speech where I saw a "Ready For Change" sign being held up. My immediate thought was, "Oh man! An Obama supporter got in there!" Whoops. Looks like the intervening time between Iowa and NH gave the campaign time to throw together some signs with The C Word on them. Now she's the candidate for change. Who knew? The next thought on the topic of her perceived trustworthiness or likeability: when she was speaking to the crowd it occurred to me that her eyes do not match her facial expression. I've been trying to figure out where and why she feels "off" in her communication style and I think that is it. When she was smiling and talking about American grit and whatnot her eyes communicated nothing. It was only when her speech was done when she began waving and smiling to the crowd that you saw her eyes smile too. Think what you like about Ms. Tyra Banks and America's Next Top Model, but her advice to the modeling hopefuls to make sure their eyes were communicating as much, if not more than, their faces was solid, solid counsel. People who've known me long enough know that I might be smiling at you saying "I'm great!", but my eyes are saying "You are so on my sh*t list right now." You know my eyes are displeased because I make sure my eyes are communicating my displeasure no matter how much my face is telling the rest of the room that you are my darling plum pudding. HRC's face was saying, "Change! Yeah! Go us!" Her eyes were saying I don't know what--but not anything ending in an exclamation. Maybe behind her victory speech she was thinking, "I won, but 57% of New Hampshire Democrats still did not vote for me."

My 37% of election commentary...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Weekend in Review

So Obama now has a double-digit lead over HRC in the NH polls. You'll forgive me for not getting too jubilant. I'm no supporter of Hillary (clearly), but right now predicting the Fall of the House of Clinton! is the prevailing narrative for our friends in the Fourth Estate. When she slightly raised her voice last night during the debate all the reports started saying, "Shrill! Meltdown! Lost it!" I kept re-viewing the debate and could not see the meltdown some outlets were claiming. She could have hit it out of the park last night and unless they had all decided that Clinton is the Comeback Kid in NH! was the story, she'd still have been declared dead in the water.

I have no doubt that Obama's turn will come a la some kind of Golden Boy Tarnished! narrative via those same news peddlers. It's how our news media works. So I'm not taking too much schadenfreude-y joy in Hillary's 'oy' regardless of how tempting it may be to do so. I'm all big-hearted like that.

We saw the movie The Namesake last night, starring Kal Penn of risible Harold and Kumar fame. Namesake was a world away from White Castle however. An adaptation of the Mira Nair novel of the same name, it follows Indian-American Gogol Ganguli from his parents' meeting via arranged marriage, through his journey as an American kid straddling the worlds of Bengali customs and American sensibilities. I'm doing the story absolutely zero justice here, so see it for yourself. By the end of the film I was doing that, "Man, I think I have something in my eye" thing because this was a very touching and funny and bittersweet movie. The only false note is Gogol's Caucasian girlfriend played by Real World alum Jacinda Barrett. I actually said out loud, "Is she written this annoying in the book? Am I meant to completely dislike her from her first word?" I'm not sure, but either way she was the one not great part of the movie. The actors who were Gogol's parents were amazing, the story wonderful. I want to read the book now because if the movie captured so much of the silent pain, I can only imagine how well the book communicates it. Seriously netflix this movie if you can.

You also need to netflix The Wire's first four seasons and watch at least two episodes per night until you are fully caught up. The fifth and final season premiered on HBO tonight, and I just don't know what I'm going to do when this show ends. This show kicks so much ass that it has never won an Emmy. In a world where Desperate Housewives has, like, four, it's a badge of honor baby. The show is all about Baltimore, the police, the drugs, the money trail that leads to and from the drugs, the kids involved, the parents, the politicians, everyone. From HBO: The first season of 'The Wire' (2002) concentrated on the often-futile efforts of police to infiltrate a West Baltimore drug ring headed by Avon Barksdale and his lieutenant, Stringer Bell. In Seasons Two and Three, as the Barksdale investigation escalated, new storylines involving pressures on the working class and the city's political leadership were introduced. Season Four focused on the stories of several young boys in the public school system, struggling with problems at home and the lure of the corner - set against the rise of a new drug empire in West Baltimore and a new Mayor in City Hall. The fifth season is now tackling the press and their role in the continuing problems plaguing the city. In any season, The Wire is such a great show because it offers no easy answers, if any answers at all. It shows good and bad cops, good people in a bad system, good kids with bad parents, good teachers and bad teachers in a crumbling infrastructure. What it never shows, however, is a fairytale ending. People are killed, cops lose their stripes, schools are used as pawns in political games--and the drug situation goes on unabated. I seriously will enter a period of mourning when this show ends. See that you do too.

You also should consider getting Hustle via netflix too. It's a BBC show with the delightful Robert Vaughn as a member of a group of long-con artists headed by Adrian Lester. This show is exceedingly funny and cool because it cons you, the viewer, in some respects by its Gotcha! endings. The story follows this group of good-natured hustlers-with-a-code: "you can't cheat an honest man." They perpetrate various long cons (big money, big investment to make the con happen) against various unpleasant and extremely wealthy individuals. But just as soon as you think they are going to be caught red-handed, you realize that the con is not what you think it is, nor is the risk you think they face. They turn so many of your expectations on their heads that I now find myself wondering where the Gotcha is going to be in every episode. It's good telly.

For parents, from today's New York Times. Even if your kid is one month old, this article will nail what you feel. It's by Elissa Ely and I will post it as soon as the NYT web site acknowledges that it was actually in their paper today.
UPDATE: I am a shmo. It was in the Globe. watching_the_past/

Okay, with that I'm off to get some sleep for about 45 minutes till Bambina decides (again) that shadows scare her. Then I go up and attempt to explain that leaving one's light on at night causes the very shadows that scare her. I then ask if she wouldn't prefer to have the light off. NO!! Okay my love, well, here's your choice: turn the lights off and no shadows, or leave them on and have shadows. During the day we discuss shadows--our friends the shadows--and how they are not scary. But as soon as one pops up, it's drama with a capital Dram. And good thing I don't have a job to get to tomorrow so I can manage our ongoing Shadow Crisis without worrying about exhaustion in front of clients. I can just worry about exhaustion in front of child.

Happy Monday, y'all. Hope you got a good night's rest. :)

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Humanity Needs Some Humanity

I've been watching the Democratic debate on TV tonight while flipping through to read early thoughts on both that and the GOP one from earlier. Who knows who "won" or "lost." But what I do know is that tonight turned into the pinnacle (nadir?) of depression after all these months of reading blogs.

I challenge you to visit any number of blogs, whether about politics, gaming, art, whatever, and read the comment threads. Any notion you have that humans are essentially good and decent creatures will be destroyed slowly yet substantively the more comments you read. It's a realization I've been coming to over the past several months, and reading stuff about the candidates tonight just made that realization unavoidable. So much hostility, so much hatred, so much venom--signed by everymen like "Jim" or "Carolyn" or more often than not "Anonymous." It completely depresses me to wonder if "Jim" the mailman is the guy who calls people "f*(king babykilling b*tch" with seemingly zero provocation beyond a few paragraphs on a blog. Who is this Carolyn who agrees that "Jews use people as tools" to get what they want. Do I work near her? Does she teach my child? Does she really hate me and mine? Do average people really wish that someone had assassinated a sitting US President? Who are these fellow citizens flirting with fatwas? Who are they? And why the hair-trigger leap to angry, splenetic viciousness toward others based on something they WROTE? It's not only depressing, it's f*cking scary that seemingly so many people are just brimming with barely-contained contempt and disdain to the point that they can't even read a blog without letting loose a diatribe of hateful expletives toward another person.

It certainly bothers me how the rest of the sharks attack at the first sign of chum. But perhaps what bothers me more is sometimes the lack of counterpoint when a blog post itself is hateful. One in particular (no link provided on purpose) was posted a week or so ago that was so anti-semitic that other blogs noted the "psychotic break" style of the post. But what of the comments to that post? Supportive. Cheering. Encouraging. My reaction to reading it? The same as one commenter on another site who said, "I can't read this stuff anymore; it hurts my soul." Like, whatever people may agree or disagree on politically, do you really really REALLY think that some people deserve to not live based on their religious beliefs? That some people deserved to be exterminated in a holocaust? Really? How do you go there on a blog, then log off your computer and go about your business as a member of the human family, going to work, buying groceries, kissing your kids goodnight? Do you live near me? Is my family safe from you? It boggles the mind, and now my mind is sufficiently boggled that I don't want to read another comment to another blog if I can possibly avoid it. Even if it's a blog about needlepoint I feel pretty convinced tonight that some "average Jim" person will find a way to turn it into something petty and malicious. And you can ban them from the site but they just pop up somewhere else to feed the dual beasts of anger and ignorance that seem to stalk the internet.

I know that I'm breaking my parents' rule that you never state a problem (ie, complain) without proposing a possible solution, but I don't know that any solution is possible beyond humanity rediscovering some humanity. So in addition to my rules to never blog drunk or sleep-deprived (that one I've been flouting since March '05), I think I might have to add Never Blog Depressed. Because what you end up with is a solutionless post deploring comments that ironically still allows comments.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Enhance Your Political Portfolio

As Bill over at Dubious Quality likes to say, "Your weekend starts NOW." I found this last night over at CNN:

Tired of losing real money in the financial markets? This is your chance to make virtual money in various election markets, such as "Will Bloomberg enter before March 1st?" and "Who will be the Republican nominee?" It's good fun and an excellent time waster.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cold Shot

Remind me why we moved back to New England? (Besides the bone marrow thing...)
That's the temperature.

And for those of you in warmer climes who wonder if those Currier and Ives pictures are accurate, I give you bona fide window rime:

Iowa After the Fact

Like I promised, I'm going to spend almost zero time on the Iowa caucuses, even though Obama won. Why? Because so did Huckabee! Come on now, people! Where's the credibility?! Let's move along now...

Although I will commend Obama's speech (the one he is delivering as I write this) to you. It's all about hope not being blind faith but about how together, "ordinary people can do extraordinary things...because we are not a collection of red states and blue states, we are the United States of America."

And I will express my disappointment that both Biden and Dodd have dropped out of the race based on their performance in Iowa. I have to say that the upcoming debates will be far less interesting and informative now that those two will not be participating. Both brought something to the mix that will be missed in their absence. I shake my fist at you, Iowa!!

Caucus Shmaucus

Today is (are?) the Iowa Caucuses. Long time readers know how I feel about tiny states winnowing the field for the entire presidential election, so I'm not going to do too much on it, even if Obama wins in a landslide. I'm so consistent in this belief I won't do too much on it even if HRC *loses* in a landslide. I'm certainly curious as to how it will all turn out seeing as the HRC camp is downplaying the importance of Iowa after spending weeks saying she had "momentum" going in. But I don't think any candidate should be forced out of the race on the basis of what Iowans say, with all due respect to Iowans.

But if you're interested in truly understanding what the caucuses are, click here for Carpetbagger's very thorough explanation: Carpetbaggerreport--Iowa

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Crank Up Some Procrastination

For all you sports fans, here is Baseball Crank's 2007 retrospective. Mr. Crank and I don't see eye to eye politically, but I do so like his blogging regardless. Besides, it ought to keep you from diving right back into work this AM.
You're welcome. :)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Baby Name Regret

A perplexing article over at CNN on parents who change their kid's name after a couple of years after realizing it doesn't work. I sort of understand, from the perspective of finding out that Bambina's name is far more popular than we had thought. But to legally change it? I'm just not sure I could do it. Isn't that why WASPs invented nicknames? I knew at least three people in college who I knew as, say, Nat, Tad and Ash, none of whom had any elements of those names on their birth certificates. I just figured that was how the family naming tradition or whatever was upheld while still allowing you to call "Theo" to dinner rather than Livingston Brainerd III.

Although I probably should stop hatin' and start appreciatin' if I'm honest. Before we came home with Bambina we told everyone her name as well as the shortened version of her name (which was to be her nickname) in order to forestall anyone calling her the OTHER shortened version of that name, a nickname that we hated. (Think "Margaret" whose nickname will be Maggie rather than Marge or Peggy. See what I'm saying? You don't want to name your kid Margaret and then have well-meaning folks asking you how Marge is doing.)

Bambina Unveiled

Well, joke's on us, isn't it? Bambina allows, like, THREE people in the whole world to call her that nickname. Everyone else gets, "Don't call me that! I not like that!" Worse still, when I told her what the OTHER dreaded nickname option was, she said, "Ooooh. Call me that!" I gritted my teeth and obliged on the theory that any sign of a power struggle on the name was going to go her way--as power struggles about stupid things with preschoolers usually do. Luckily the Imperial Dominion of Marge lasted only one day until she tired of enforcing it, moving on instead to Dan Zanes guitarist Barbara. At this point the child has been Barbara for so long I honestly say, "Morning, Barbara" first and wait for her to say, "I'm George Harrison {or a peacock or a turtle) today, actually." Which also works out fine except when she gets into her standard preschooler role-playing thing where I am her (she?) and she gives me scripts like, "Mama, now you say 'Morning, George Harrison. Are you coming to my house today? I wonder if you will wear your purple tutu! I love you!"

Yes indeed; nothing like asking--with a straight face, a deceased former Beatle if he plans to wear his purple tutu to come play Ninja Warrior at your house--to make you wonder what would have been so terrible in the first place about saying, "Morning, Marge!"