Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bambina Tovah, Dog Sameach

L'shana Tovah (Happy New Year), to my fellow Tribe members. It's Rosh Hashanah, and that means it's the new year. We went to temple today with Bambina. We were in the kiddie services where the leader was asking the kids in a lead-up to a song, "Is anyone bigger than God?"
Kids: "No!"
"Is anyone sweeter than God?"
Kids: "No!"
"Is anyone more loving than God?"
Kids: "No!"
"Is anyone faster than God?"
Kids: "No!"
Bambina (at full volume): "Yes!"

I turned to her (along with everyone else) and whispered, "Who is faster than God?" She looked at me very earnestly and said, "Me."

Then we went to Gram and Pop's house for dinner. While they were cooking, we were hanging out in the den with Cliff "The Sniff," the family big dog. Cliff has a funny practice of jumping around on the couch, knocking the cushions off, and generally acting like a canine hoodlum for about 3 minutes. Then he shakes himself off and goes on his way self-satisfied, having worked out his extra energy on the sofa while we all watch and laugh. Well, tonight Cliff did not disappoint. Only this time, he was packing heat. As he was jumping around I noticed that his doggie weiner was out. And I mean OUT. Like, I need to disinfect my eyes, out. Out. So far out that Bambina noticed it. She said, "What is that thing coming out of his bum?!" The BBDD and I looked at each other, like, who is gonna blink first and have to answer this question. BBDD weighed in with, "That's not his bum." Which of course is not an answer, so the question was asked again: "What is that coming out of his bum?" We stare each other down again. Oh for heavens sake, I'll do it: "Bambina, that is not his bum. It is his dog penis." The BBDD is now struggling to contain his laughter...and horror. And let me defend my use of the term "dog penis" by saying that I too was flailing around without a clue how to answer this very understandable query."
Bambina: "Dog penis?!!"
Me: "Yes. Like boys have penises, so do boy dogs. And that's his."

But wait, it gets worse. I apparently, in my shock and horror at having seen Cliff's family jewels OUT, followed that up with serious verbal diarrhea: "You know, how boys have penises and girls have vaginas. Well, Cliff has a penis because he is a boy dog; and girl dogs have dog vaginas." The BBDD literally could not contain himself and started laughing. In fact, he is still reminding me as I write this, that I used the term "dog vagina" in front of our kid.

In my defense, NO ONE should see a dog's penis OUT. Even my limited knowledge of animal husbandry tells me that even female dogs don't have to see it OUT. It just ain't right. BBDD and I are both feeling a little scarred by the experience, let alone the fact that our kid saw it too. And on a religious holiday, no less!

On the bright side, it looks like at least one member of the family's new year is off to a rousing start...

McLame Duck

An interview with McCain on Fox News, from crooksandliars.com:

Q: Barack Obama already has a proposal to revive negotiations. He wants to increase the amount of money guaranteed by the FDIC of 100 to 250K . What would Sen, John McCain do? Well let’s ask him. Sen. McCain, your serve. Barack Obama has made a bold move.
(Silence and blinking from McCain) McCain: Uh, I, I uhhh talked with the President this morning….

He looked like he was not prepared for that. And then he was forced to admit that he did not save the day when he suspended his campaign last Thursday and went to DC to whip the Republicans to vote for the bail out. He was supposed to be the savior.

Q: So Senator are you saying that you went back to get more Republicans on board so then you are in favor of voting yes yesterday. And in essence then going back…

McCain: Oh, Absolutely.

Q: OK, well then going back last week—did not change enough Republicans minds.

McCain: No, it didn’t change enough Republican minds. We’re going to have to change enough Republican and Democrats minds…

So McCain is not in control of his party. I guess Newt Gingrich really is running things over there.

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported this morning that conservatives may have been taking their marching orders from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who “was whipping against this up until the last minute” — despite issuing a statement supporting the bill as the vote was taking place…read on

That’s very scary for a number of reasons…

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Real Star in the Firmament

Paul Newman died today at the age of 83.

I don't even know where to start to say how much I adore Paul Newman, the actor, the man, the philanthropist. Bambina loves him too, but for reasons solely involving teriyaki sauce, raspberry vinaigrette and organic lemonade (and because he does nice things for kids with his lemonade money). She and I have had so many Paul Newman conversations that it's almost weird to say it out loud. I said once that I thought he was "lovely" and that was that. "Paul Newman is really nice!" became her refrain as she drank his lemonade.

I had seen the news online this morning and said out loud, "Oh no, Paul Newman died. That is so sad." Bambina assured me she was sad too. She's still trying to figure out death, but she can tell it makes people sad. She kept asking, "Why did Paul Newman die today? Is he not dead yet or is he really dead? Is he alive still right now? Why did he die?" I did my usual "when people get very old or very sick...." but she was not satisfied by my answers. I resisted the urge to tell her that grownups haven't figured it all out yet either.

She asked me to tell her a "Paul Newman story," so I told her again all about his charities and how he helps kids and how he doesn't take any money from the food we buy with his picture on it. She was really upset about it; not crying or anything, but just asking and asking about him. I asked her what was going on and she reminded me that, just last week, she had told me that we should "write to Paul Newman and tell him we love his lemonade." I told her we would. But we never got to it. So I reassured her we could still write to his wife and tell her, which made her happier. But still not okay. So I pressed some more and she said very seriously, "It's a good thing we bought extra lemonade yesterday." Lightbulb. I realized that my child loves Paul Newman so much because she seriously thinks that he's the guy squeezing the lemons into that carton just for her and that he drew that picture of himself onto the carton just for her. She was thinking that the passing of Paul Newman meant no more teriyaki, vinaigrette or organic lemonade, because who was going to squeeze the lemons now? And what about the kids who need the money from the lemonade? What will happen to them?

So, a glass of lemonade later, after reassurances that the food would keep on coming and the kids would keep on being helped, she seemed happy again. She said, "That so sad he dead. But Mama, we still have his lemonade."

And she's right. When you think of all the legacies a person could leave, there aren't many better than one where kids not only eat great food while helping other kids, but they also get the chance to learn about a humble, faithful, talented and generous person named Mr. Paul Newman.

Alright, Veruca Darling

We went to a birthday party today for a classmate of Bambina's. This is the girl I recently blogged about, the one who hits her mom and other kids and says mean things that sound way above the nastiness level of the average 4 year-old.

So. Can you guess how the party went? Walk with me:

We walk up to a McMansion, which is fully decked out in princess regalia. Inside, the home is exquisite. We are greeted at the door by a person who takes our coats and relieves us of the present. We are then ferried downstairs to a totally tricked-out playroom area, complete with subzero minifridge for juice boxes and chocolate milk. The place is jammed full of kids and parents, numbering probably 50, and the air quality is shall we say "close." My germ-o-meter immediately comes to life. And with good reason. At least 5 people are constantly sneezing. I am starting to sweat. I ask one of the dads I know if it's just me, and he assures me he is beyond roasting. Turns out they have closed the door to the upstairs to keep everyone out of their palatial living quarters! A Disney princess impersonator arrives. There is face painting. Bambina gets a balloon animal thingy. We leave to get to Chinese class.

Oh, wait. I left out a couple of parts:

The part where the birthday girl is wearing a full-on, no-kidding, not out of a box princess outfit. Fair enough. She greets us and another kid with, "This is MY party! This is MY day!" Okaaay. Face painting. She shoves herself in front of Bambina and says, "This is MY party and I'm going before you!" Her mom comes over and does the totally lame, "Honey, you already had your face painted; it's time to give other kids a chance." Veruca answers, "No! This is MY party and I'm the princess and it's MY day!" She freaks out crying and starts flailing around so her mom finds another person to paint her face again. Bambina looks at me like, "WTF, Mama?" Then to the balloons. Veruca comes over already carrying three balloon figures and demands another from the Princess Impersonator. All the parents are looking, wondering how this is going to go, her ineffectual mom rides in again to say, "Honey, you've already got three; it's time to give the other kids a chance." Veruca yells again, "This is MY party! I want the balloons!" So she asks the lady if she wouldn't mind doing "just one more for the birthday girl." I could keep on going, but you get the picture. Just one completely unacceptable show of behavior and attitude after another--and the most impotent response from the mother. Apparently her dad was also at the party, but none of us met him.

So here's my decision. I do not want Bambina to play with this kid again. They are in the same class, so I can't stop that. But I will NEVER assent to a playdate again. Why? Oh, besides the fact that I had to answer Bambina's question about why her friend gets to freak out and get what she wants, when our rule is precisely the opposite: tantrums get you less than nothing. And the fact that Bambina turned into an effing MONSTER for the rest of the day, completely off the charts and out of character, as if she was trying out a little Veruca at home to see if she could get the same result. How do I know this is out of control? Bambina wanted gum. Bambina had barely eaten dinner. Bambina was told she was out of luck. Bambina's response? She screamed loudly and then HIT ME. Yeah, I said it. My kid hit me.

I was so shocked and so angry that I don't really recall what I said. I do know that she found herself in her room with the door closed in about 6 seconds flat. The BBDD tells me my remarks started with, "What did you just do?!! Because I *KNOW* you did not just hit me! Oh my god! I KNOW you did not just hit me! Because you know that you will NEVER hit me, right?! Do you understand me?!! You will NEVER hit me again!!!!!" Apparently this was the amount of time it took for her door to be slammed shut on her. By me.

Cue the wailing, the drama, the tears, the drama, the wailing. The sad realization that my name ain't Henrietta Salt and what plays in Veruca's house don't play here. On the one hand, I can't blame her for trying; it's natural to see if you can do what your friends can do. On the other, the blame is mine if I keep exposing her to a lifestyle and behavior that I not only don't support, but see as corrosive and immoral on a multitude of levels. So Veruca is out. And, once again, thank god we don't spank our kid. Because you know how she got the point? When I walked in and sat down on her bed with her as she wailed, and I asked, "Have I EVER hit you? Would Mama EVER hit you?" And she stopped crying long enough to say sadly, "No." "So you don't ever hit me. What is our family rule? No hitting anyone EVER. Is that still our rule?" Bambina: "Blubber, blubber, Yes Mama. Will you read me a book?"

So we lay down on her bed and read books for about 75 minutes. It was long, but it was worth it, because she snuggled up to me the whole time, back to the kid I knew before the party at the chocolate factory.

*PS--The BBDD tells me the phenomenon is called "vicarious learning," wherein when a child (or an adult for that matter) sees someone exhibiting a behavior that is rewarded, that behavior is emulated in order to receive that same reward. A bettter explanation provided at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observational_learning This is actually right on point:
There are 4 key processes of observational learning.
1.) Attention: To learn through observation, you must pay attention to another person's behavior and its consequences.
2.) Retention: Store a mental representation of what you have witnessed in your memory.
3.) Reproduction: Enacting a modeled response depends on your ability to reproduce the response by converting your stored mental images into overt behavior.
4.) Motivation: Finally, you are unlikely to reproduce an observed response unless you are motivated to do so. Your motivation depends on whether you get benefits from responding to that action.

So at least I've handled numbers 1 (no more Veruca playdates) and 4 (So, how did that hitting-your-mom-to-get-your-way thing work out for you, Bambina?).

And what concerns me most about Veruca herself, is the question of where all the aggression is coming from. For more on learning aggression, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobo_doll_experiment

And, for perhaps even wiser words, I give you the Oompa Loompas:

Jews Before News

We had the opportunity to attend a Tot Shabbat last night at one of Bambina's friend's temples. But would we make it home in time for the debate?! What if we got "stuck" there (gasp!) talking to people and having our kid have fun?! What if we missed a single minute of Grandpa McCain telling people what little Obama Sonny Jim "doesn't seem to understand" about staying off his lawn?

You know that adage, "Bros before hos"? Well, in our house it's now "Jews before News." We made the call that missing a part of the debate would be preferable to missing services. Especially since these were our first as a family in--wait for it--two full years. When talking timelines, I always forget the fact that I was really rather quite ill even before my transplant, so October 2006 was really the last time I was functioning as a somewhat normal member of society, and doing things like going to services, going to libraries, and wearing things other than sweatpants.

So we went to the kiddie services, which involve a lady with a guitar and mini challahs and lots of kids jumping around and singing while the parents hang out and sing too. Bambina's friend and her mom were there with her newborn. So I'm doubly glad we went so we could help her out by taking care of the 4 year old so she could handle the baby. I'm also doubly glad we went because Bambina had an AWESOME time. She and her friend (let's call her Sophia) were dancing around, rolling on the floor to the music and laughing those full-belly kiddie laughs that are also music. Then she wanted some grape juice at the Kiddush. I said, "go ahead and get some." And--Bambina shyness alert--she went and did it without me! Just walked up and asked the lady for it! I looked at the BBDD like, "Is this happening? Are you seeing what I'm seeing?"

I also liked that there were a couple kids of color there, which is something I'm rather sensitive to. I know the Jewish community is largely white, but I can't see joining a temple where my kid is the only non-white child. I'd even take a temple where there were adults of color. But I'm not joining a place that is 100% white simply because you have to try real hard in this day and age to not know interracial couples, so if there are exactly NONE in a 600 family community, that doesn't feel right to me. Which is just my humble opinion, but my opinion nonetheless.

Anyhoo, we obviously got home well before the debate, largely because Bambina and Sophia were starting to lie down on the floor together and say "Good night" to each other, which told us it was time to roll out. But we didn't rush. After all, the kids were having so much fun. And you should never put your news before your Jews.

Chris Rock is My New Boyfriend

Still love you, Barry. But here's Chris Rock very humorously answering an (of course) inane question from Larry King about being black and supporting Obama:

KING: You must be ... proud that at this stage in our history a black man is running for president on a major ticket.

ROCK: Um, you know what? I'm proud Barack Obama's running for president. You know? If it was Flavor Flav, would I be proud? No. I don't support Barack Obama because he's black.

And on Letterman, where he's talking about Bill Clinton's seeming lack of ardor for campaigning for Obama. Here's Clinton on Letterman: “People will wind up liking both of them; People will go in that polling booth and say: ‘You know, I really admire Senator McCain. He gave about all you could give to this country without getting killed for it. But I’ve got to have a change, and I’m going the other way.’ ” By “the other way,” he apparently meant Mr. Obama.

Then here comes Chris Rock. You may have seen it already, but it's hilarious nonetheless:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blogging The Debate

I'm watching it on CNN, where they have one of those line graph viewer-meters. It's interesting to see how the Pubs, Dems and Independents converge and diverge as each candidate makes his point.

A few thoughts:

McCain keeps saying, "What Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..." in that way you talk about your boyfriend when you're pissed off at him a) for whatever he did and b) for being clueless about why you're mad at him for doing what he did. Or perhaps how you talk to your teenager who at 16 knows all the answers. McCain is saying it so much that I'm thinking it's an intentional attempt to put it in your subconscious.

McCain touted his record as a maverick and then Went There. He said he's proud to have another maverick on the ticket with him! See the viewer meter dip lowlowlow.

Obama has a sarcastic streak that he needs (and so far is managing) to keep in check. When McCain commented that Obama should not have said how he'd deal with Pakistan, that it was imprudent, Obama answered something about, "John, you are on record as discussing the extinction of North Korea and singing about bombing Iran, so I don't know how credible that charge is." It seems bitchy to say so, but at the same time, it kind of needs to be said if McCain is touting his superior judgment and temperament. I assumed the meter would dip across the board, but only for Pubs.

Jim Lehrer keeps trying to have the candidates talk to each other directly, but they--especially McCain--are resisting. It's a total refusal to make eye contact with each other. You can tell these men completely dislike each other. Oh--update--it seems that McCain is refusing to make eye contact with Obama. Obama keeps looking at him and getting nothing in return. Wow. Watch this debate in its entirety. McCain does not look directly at Obama even once. Not very presidential.

The entire time they were talking about the bailout, the three viewer meter lines just flatlined. Which tells me that no one really understands what this economic mess is about, nor do they understand what the solutions might be. Obama listed the 4 things the bailout must have, the 4 things McCain refused to sign onto on their joint statement. Oh wow. Now John McCain says those 4 things have to be part of any agreement.

They're talking about Iran now. Flatlines again. Now they're arguing over what Kissinger said or didn't say. McCain has gone out on a limb stating that Kissinger "my friend for 35 years!" has never said that we should remove preconditions for meeting with Iran. Here's what Kissinger said: "I'm in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one -- (unintelligible) -- of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East -- of a stable Middle East and our notion of nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it." So, are you sure you want to go out on that limb, Johnny Mac?

Russia. Another three instances of "What Obama doesn't seem to understand..." I'm now certain it's a campaign tactic. McCain is winning the Russia round so far. Oh but here comes Barry tying the topic of energy to the reasons for why Russia is resurgent: oil revenues. Now he's saying that McCain voted against alternative energy 20-something times in the Senate. OK, now they're crosstalking.

Last question: how likely do you think it is that another 9/11-style attack will occur in America? McCain is touting his bipartisan effort to implement the recommendations for security after 9/11. He invokes Joe Lieberman. He gets a big jump on the line graph for saying we should not torture. Obama is saying we have to do more with our chemical sites, and that the biggest threat is a terrorist getting a nuclear weapon in a suitcase. The Independent graph line is way up. We also need to focus on Al Qaeda, bringing his point back to Pakistan and Afghanistan, again the graph line jumps. Wants to restore America's standing in the world. McCain says that leaving Iraq will "encourage" the terrorists. Massive line drops, only the Pubs are with him on that. Obama turns to the issue of international debt, how China owns 3 trillion dollars of our debt, how that is an area we've taken our eyes off while we've been obsessed with Iraq. Economy is a national security issue.

McCain just Went There. Says that Obama does not have the experience or judgment to be President. Lines drop. Goes back to the "I love veterans" well. Lines jump. Obama counters that--and this goes to judgment--that he wants to restore the prestige of America that brought his father to this country from Kenya, that made people around the world want to come here. McCain mentions his return home from prison camp and that he knows how to heal the wounds of war, and that is why he should be president.

More once this all sinks in. Oh--it's the CNN panel. Who won?! No one. Why? Because the pundits were bored out of their skulls and bitterly disappointed because no one told anyone that they were no Jack Kennedy. Or as the punditocracy calls it, "a defining moment" or "no major blunders." Surprise: Bennett and Castellanos, GOPers, think McCain won. Begala and Brazile think Obama won. Pubs are saying that "a tie is a win for McCain." Hmmm... That seems like affirmative action to me. David Gergen (god bless him, he's always on point and nonpartisan) disagrees. Says that foreign policy is John McCain's best subject and the fact that he didn't completely take Obama out is not a positive for him. The fact that Obama held his own on this topic is not a big help for McCain.

My opinion? Next time I have a Friday night date with my boyfriend Barry, I hope he leaves his cranky uncle at home.

The McCain Week In Review

Let's review this "steady hand," shall we? "Earlier statement" refers to remarks within the past 10 days.

Earlier Statement: "The fundamentals of the economy are strong."
This week: "We are in a crisis."

Earlier Statement: We should fire SEC Chair Chris Cox.
This week: He's a "good man."

Earlier Statement: I oppose the AIG bailout.
This week: I support it.

Earlier Statement: I'm going to suspend my campaign and return to Washington. Country First!
This week: By "suspend" I mean continue to run TV ads, continue to appear on TV, continue to have my surrogates on talk shows, and continue to raise money.

Earlier Statement: I will stay in Washington until a compromise is reached.
This week (Today): I will attend the debate now that there is a "framework" for a proposal.

Seriously, McCain supporters. Seriously. Are you kidding me? Like I say, you don't have to vote for Obama. But please. Are you telling me that this is the style of "leadership" you're looking for? A guy who plays a game of political chicken with perhaps the most serious issue facing our country in a generation? And then has the balls to slam Obama for "political posturing"? I'm at a loss how anyone can think John McCain is fit for office. I'm absolutely astounded that anyone can look at this situation and not see it for what it is.

As the Roanoke Times says:
More than John McCain's poll numbers are slipping. So is his grip on leadership qualities Americans expect in their next president. McCain must have thought he'd look maverickishly presidential when he announced he would suspend his campaign in order to rescue the economy. This, from the same man who last week was so detached from Wall Street's meltdown that he claimed "the fundamentals of the economy are sound." His actions this week confirm he remains out of touch.

McCain claims finally to get it. He said Wednesday he would cancel his ads and appearances, wriggle out of tonight's presidential debate, put his personal ambitions behind duty to country and rush to Washington, D.C. to ... what? ... save the economy?

On the way, though, he dropped by CBS to do damage control after his running mate bombed an interview with Katie Couric on his economic record, of all things, and to meet with a deep-pocket campaign supporter.

Oh, and can we talk about that meeting that John McCain had Bush call?! According to CNN and the NYT, "At the bipartisan White House meeting that Mr. McCain had called for a day earlier, he sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting...Still, by nightfall, the day provided the younger and less experienced Mr. Obama an opportunity to, in effect, shift roles with Mr. McCain. For a moment, at least, it was Mr. Obama presenting himself as the old hand at consensus building, and as the real face of bipartisan politics. Instead he [McCain] found himself in the midst of a remarkable partisan showdown, lacking a clear public message for how to bring it to an end."

Experience? Integrity? Country First? As my friend John McEnroe used to say, "You CAN'T be serious!!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Save Donovan Sands

Okay, New Englanders (and everyone else too). This Sunday there is a bone marrow drive at Lasell College in Newton, MA to help find a bone marrow donor for 8 year-old Donovan Sands. Donovan has Dyskeratosis Congenita, a variant of which disease caused my Aplastic Anemia. Donovan will not survive without a transplant, and neither would I have. And having lived through the fear and drama of such a thing, I can barely bring myself to ponder the same situation for an 8 year-old and his parents.

So if you are in the area, please go give a cheek swab (no needles, I promise!) and see if you might be his match. If you aren't local, please consider registering with the National Marrow Donor Program. Even if you're not a match for Donovan, you might still save someone. My donor, Jaime, was on the registry because she attended a drive for a family friend. She wasn't a match for her, but she was for me. Sheer luck and circumstance (and HLA-typing) brought us together. I KNOW that Donovan Sands has a match. Everyone in the world has a match. But if you're not on the registry, we don't know you're there. You're sitting on one measly pint of stem cells that might keep an 8 year-old alive.

So. Off your bone marrow-rich hindquarters--and hie thee to a drive. Thank you.

From the Newton TAB:
Donovan Sands is an 8-year-old who is suffering from a highly rare, but terminal genetic disease. He has Dyskeratosis Congenital (also called Zinsser-Cole-Engman syndrome), a malady affecting fewer than 200 people worldwide. The disease is curable, but Donovan’s only chance for survival is a bone marrow transplant and, so far, no matches have been found in the Bone Marrow Donor Program registry.

Donovan’s family and friends are teaming with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to hold bone marrow drives. There will be a drive at Lasell College (De Witt Hall), 80 Maple St., Newton, on Sunday, Sept. 28, noon-4 p.m.

The screening process is painless and takes only a couple of minutes. Human Leukcyte Antigen tissue type is what the donor program registry uses to match patients to donor. The donor’s HLA is identified by testing a sample from the inside of a cheek with a swab to come up with HLA type. Testing is done for potential donors between 18- and 60 years old. Potential donors who are not available on drive dates can still be screened. A mail-in test kit can be provided by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Call Dana Farber at 866-875-3324, or e-mail nmdpdonor@partners.org.

Donors need to be willing to donate to any patient in need and meet the health guidelines. Donors with diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds are especially needed. To learn more about the National Marrow Donor Program, visit www.marrow.org.

Undercover Mother

This link takes you to an article by a Dutch journalist who worked "undercover" in both the Obama and McCain campaigns. The article details her work writing fake Letters To The Editor that the McCain campaign would take to battleground states and have local people sign and submit. Note that her letter pretending to have a son in Iraq got rave reviews from the campaign.

Honor! Integrity! Country First!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Palin and Couric

I like Katie Couric. So I mean no disrespect to Katie Couric when I say that getting your ass handed to you by Katie Couric in an interview ought to bring you deep, deep shame. For your enjoyment...er...cringeworthy enjoyment, here is Palin enjoying not enough "deference" from Katie Couric:

Note the discomfort in answering questions. And wait till the part where this exchange occurs:
COURIC: You've said, quote, "John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business." Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

PALIN: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie--that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

COURIC: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

PALIN: He's also known as the maverick though. Taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about--the need to reform government.

COURIC: I'm just going to ask you one more time, not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation?

PALIN: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you.

I almost couldn't watch it, it was so painful. Your possible Vice-President, folks. Brought to you by the razor-sharp judgment of John McCain.

It's Called Multitasking, Senator

John McCain wants to postpone Friday's presidential debate so he can rush back to Washington to help solve the financial crisis, and implores Senator Obama to do the same.

Because we know that no solution will be reached as long as John McCain and Barack Obama spend a few hours in Mississippi telling the American people on national television what they'd do to fix this disaster, right? Even though Warren Buffet has poured a Gajillion dollars into Goldman on the belief that negotiations on the Dodd version of the bill were going well. Even though the major resistance in Congress is coming from members who won't vote for the Paulson Bernanke Corporate Welfare proposal supported by the President. What's McCain going to do to move things along? What do his colleagues in Congress need of his personal, physical presence in the room?

McCain says it's about putting politics aside for "country." I'm more in agreement with Obama who said, "This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who in approximately 40 days will be responsible for dealing with this mess. In my mind, it’s more important than ever that we present ourselves to the American people and describe where we want to take the country and where we want to take the economy.”

And here's my favorite part of Obama's statement: “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to be able to deal with more than one thing at once...Obviously if it turns out that we need to be in Washington, we’ve both got big planes, we’ve painted our slogan on the side of them. They can get us from Washington to Mississippi pretty quickly. Or, as David Letterman put it (after McCain cancelled his appearance on Letterman ostensibly to return to DC, only to be found doing a live interview down the street with Katie Couric), "He can't run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sarah Palin. Where is she?...What are you going to do if you're elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We've got a guy like that now!"

The third best part of this whole stunt (and we all know it's a stunt) is that the Colorado McCain campaign sent the internal talking points to reporters by mistake. With the note, "Please do not proactively reach out to the media on this."

The second best part of this whole stunt (and we all know it's a stunt) is that the Obama campaign was the first to contact McCain: “At 8:30 this morning, Senator Obama called Senator McCain to ask him if he would join in issuing a joint statement outlining their shared principles and conditions for the Treasury proposal and urging Congress and the White House to act in a bipartisan manner to pass such a proposal. At 2:30 this afternoon, Senator McCain returned Senator Obama’s call and agreed to join him in issuing such a statement. The two campaigns are currently working together on the details.” Guess what McCain was doing between 8:30am and 2:30pm? Meeting with that former Hillary supporter, Lady de Rothschild, who can't stop calling Obama an elitist. Oh, and drafting a plan to announce that HE had invited OBAMA to "join" him...oh, and pussying out of the debate. Backstabbing AND stuntmaking all in one presidential package.

The BEST part about this whole stunt (and we all know it's a stunt) is that McCain proposes moving the Friday debate to October 2nd and scrapping that evening's planned debate between--you guessed it--Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.

LOVE IT! 3-2-1 until the diehards say that this is Classic John McCain, Putting Country First (dismal poll numbers having nothing at all to do with him avoiding a debate on the deregulation free-for-all he helped create). Apparently, according to this poll, the rest of America (86%) isn't that stupid and feels that the debates should go on as scheduled: surveyusa.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Makes You Long For the Good Old Days of "Halfrican"

Okay, can we now officially say without reservation that Rush Limbaugh is a racist? Notwithstanding his article in last week's WSJ (the right wing tabloid) announcing his shock! horror! at "Obama's race-baiting" and taking poor Rush's remarks about Mexicans "out of context." So here he goes, saying that Obama is now Arab. Arab! From the "Arab parts of Africa." Or how about Born in Hawaii? That makes him American, a**hole. A "half-black, half-white" American, as Obama describes himself.

Here's the text:
Limbaugh: These polls on how one-third of blue-collar white Democrats won’t vote for Obama because he’s black, and — but he’s not black. Do you know he has not one shred of African-American blood? He doesn’t have any African — that’s why when they asked whether he was authentic, whether he’s down for the struggle. He’s Arab. You know, he’s from Africa. He’s from Arab parts of Africa. He’s not — his father was — he’s not African-American. The last thing that he is is African-American. I guess that’s splitting hairs, I don’t — it’s just all these little things, everything seems upside-down today in this country.

All this after his whole "joke" about "Obama The Magic Negro." He's changed his mind about the "negro" thing. I guess Arab is the new Negro. But Rush is not racist, against blacks or Arabs, right? I guess if the whole "Muslim" smear doesn't work, you can always try to convince people that he is suddenly a completely different race and ethnicity, right?

As a patriotic American, and specifically as a Jew, I react with fear and deep loathing whenever someone with a microphone tries to define what an American is, tries to create divisions based on race or ethnicity or parentage, and--most frighteningly--doesn't seem to be met with any real resistance from otherwise good people. Somebody needs to switch this guy OFF.


I just returned from being the Helper Mommy for Bambina's preschool swim lessons. Oh my hell. A few thoughts:

Do you ever wonder if your kid's preschool teachers are paid enough for the work they do? Short answer: They're not. They are soooo not paid anywhere near what they deserve. There were three of us and 10 kids under the age of 5, and we damn near didn't make it out alive; that's all I'm sayin'.

Trying to herd 10 little kids down stairs, down a hallway, down more stairs, into a locker room, get their clothes off, get towels in hands, into the pool area, then out of the pool, dried off, clothes back on, wet stuff in bags, socks and shoes on, bags on shoulders, back up the stairs, down the hall, up the stairs, and into the classroom ready to begin a new activity...well, it ain't easy. Every little thing catches their attention, one kid forgot his underpants so is standing playing with his willy while I'm trying to get his pants on ("Can you move your hand so we can get your pants on, Jacob?"), one kid can't put her shirt on, one kid cannot sit still and wants to stare at any adults getting changed in the locker room ("Staring is not polite, Benjamin"), one kid wants to be at the front of the line, the other doesn't want to be holding his bag, the other can't carry her bag, the other also wants to be at the front of the line, drama between kids ensues, one kid keeps looking backwards while walking up the stairs, on and on and on. It's quite literally an exercise in futility, trying to ensure that no one gets lost, bloodied or gets their privates out in public in the space of one hour.

And then there was Bambina. Terrified of the water ever since she got dunked over the summer. And, as you know from your own adult fears but which we seem to forget when we are dealing with kids, you cannot reason someone out of their fears. You cannot explain to someone why they really shouldn't be afraid. You cannot get mad at them for being afraid as if they are willfully just trying to ruin your day. Fear is what it is; it's real to the person feeling it, and you can't dismiss it just because you aren't similarly afraid. But it's surprising how much and how often we try to do just that with kids, even though we'd leave our husbands if that was continually their reaction to any of our own fears. (As Bambina's awesome teacher said, "Sometimes we forget that these little people have only been on this earth for 4 years. Not a long time, and they are just really learning and things are still very big and scary for them. We need to give them a break from the expectations that they'll have all these finely developed social skills and physical skills and academic skills, when what they need to be doing is being kids." This is why I love her teacher.)

Anyway. So there was Bambina the Banshee. And, luckily, then there was Nathan. Nathan looks like Jesus. Not that that matters to Bambina, us being Jewish and all. But I find myself wondering if he might just walk on that water someday... ;) Anyway, Nathan is a burly and sweet lifeguard who--I kid you not--conducted the entire swim lesson with Bambina doing the deathgrip on his neck the entire time. He just put her on his back, with her arms around his neck, and worked with the other kids while she floated, attached to his body. I damn near kissed him on the lips, my friends. The key is keeping her in the water, getting her comfortable in the water, and he did just that. It also doesn't hurt that she weighs less than your beagle, so it's not a huge load for big ole Nathan to hump. But, Bambina the Albatross or not, he was amazing. So I have signed her up for 5 private lessons with our friend (and swimming messiah?) Nathan. My goal for these lessons? Phelpsian skills? Nope. The dog paddle? Nope. Simply, I want to dial down the threat level from "terror-stricken" to "just plain scared."

If we get there, Nathan might just find himself with another Haggis girl wrapped around him in gratitude.

Monday, September 22, 2008

You, Governor, Are No Teddy Roosevelt

I just received this email:

Who Am I?
I am under 45 years old,
I love the outdoors, I hunt,
I am a Republican reformer,
I have taken on the Republican Party establishment,
I have many children,
I have a spot on the national ticket as vice president with less than two years in the governor's office.

I am Teddy Roosevelt - in 1900

Oh dear. Where to begin to demolish the ludicrousness of this email? As if I even have to try:

Theodore Roosevelt, in addition to being all of the above:

Graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Harvard
Was president of the American Historical Association
Was Assistant Secretary of the Navy before the age of 40
Organized and commanded the Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War
Authored 35 books
Was a Progressive
*Promoted* conservation and environmentalism
Was the first US President to call for universal health care
Won the Nobel Peace Prize

So, yeah, you could say with accuracy that Sarah Palin and TR have all of those first items in common. But so what? You might as well put in that "both wore glasses," it's all such a meaningless comparison.

If that doesn't convince you, how about this, my attempt at similar comparisons-signifying-nothing:

Q: Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Moses all have what feature in common that ties them to E, the doyenne of Haggisdom?

A: None of them have ever set foot in my kitchen.

Now THAT'S electability, baby!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rosie Ruiz Redux

Today was the Dana Farber Marathon Walk. Team Haggis raised an insane amount of money by walking an insane number of miles...except for me. I (along with Bambina in a jogging stroller) joined the party with 3 miles left to go.

So: Congratulations, rock stars! Thanks for letting me bask in your glow. And thanks to everyone who donated to the cause. I promise you your money will be well-spent. Like the picture says: I'm Living Proof.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Phoning This One In

Some links for you today:

A fantastic critique of Hannity's nuance-free interview with Sarah Palin, noting that he showed the appropriate "deference" the McCain campaign set as a prerequisite for securing interviews with her. Nice to know we live in a country where the media must show deference to be granted the privilege of questioning our public servants. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/The_queen_and_her_courtier.html

A post over at 538, perhaps the best polling/stats site out there, on America's worst nightmare: an electoral college tie. It is apparently more probable than you might think: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/09/12th-amendment-update-tie-probability.html

Do you keep a cell phone in your pocket, gentlemen? Read this. Apparently evidence is now mounting that they cause a drop in sperm counts. Even if you're not interested in this article you should click for the adolescent jollies in seeing the word "gonads" appear on CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/09/18/cellphone.sperm/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

That's all for this morning. We're doing our Dana Farber marathon walk this weekend. Look for photos next week of Team Haggis tearin' it up!

Check Back Later

Busy busy day; no time to blog. I've been doing preschool PTA stuff. Yeah, I'm so suburban these days. Another large chunk of my time is spent managing Bambina's classic 4 year-old remarks regarding babies-in-tummies of people who long ago ceased (or never began, being that they have man parts) menstruating. Or of how big someone's "boobies" are. Or asking when certain people are going to die. Or just saying the word "poopies" over and over again in public... It's a full-time job, y'all.

Nota bene that we don't discuss boobies at home, nor do we walk around saying "poopies" either. This is all playground stuff, and it is simultaneously quite humorous and also mortifying. Yesterday after her tap class we were watching people swim in the big pool. Bambina is not a fan of swimming, so watching from the window high above the pool seemed like a good way to let her see people swimming, talk about what frightens her about the water, etc. In the pool was an older lady, maybe 70s?, who had one of those prodigious "busts" that only ladies of that age seem to have. You know the kind? The kind they don't seem to make anymore in the natural variety, the kind you remember sinking into when you were a kid on your grandmother's lap? This was she. She was doing some kind of pool calisthenics that involved jumping up and down, so her chest had that signature buoyancy that such chests do (I've heard tell, since lord knows I don't have enough to float in a bathtub much less a pool). Bambina was absolutely transfixed on her breasts. Like, could not stop talking about them and asking about them. "Mama. Why are those things going up and down like that?" She knows what breasts are, but probably has never seen any so "healthy" (as my Dad used to say), and certainly not floating while moving up and down rapidly, so she was literally fixated for 15 minutes and I could not move her off the topic no matter what I said to normalize what she was seeing.

So I did what any decent mother would do. I bought her an ice cream sandwich out of the vending machine. No more loud musings about "how they got so big and floaty." And my dignity (and hopefully this poor lady's) intact.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Breakin' the Law

Taking a break from all the financial and political drama, I just have to say the following, having been rudely awakened this AM by the horrifying sight below:

Men, keep your chest hair to yourselves. It benefits no one, especially you. Nothing wrong--and lots right--about having some. But when you go out for the evening to a classy affair, how about holding back the hirsuteness in the interests of taste? Case in point, Jude Law. Formerly gorgeous and lickable Jude Law from The Talented Mr. Ripley, et. al. Now with extra chest hair for your pleasure!

Don't be that guy. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tragedy and Farce

Richard Cohen (self-admittedly previously "in the tank" for McCain) succinctly and devastatingly lays out his utter disappointment in The Ugly New McCain. It sums up my previous and current feelings on him as a person and a candidate. The most damning parts of the article, IMHO?

"McCain has soiled all that. His opportunistic and irresponsible choice of Sarah Palin as his political heir -- the person in whose hands he would leave the country -- is a form of personal treason, a betrayal of all he once stood for. Palin, no matter what her other attributes, is shockingly unprepared to become president. McCain knows that. He means to win, which is all right; he means to win at all costs, which is not...And so McCain lied about his lying and maybe thinks that if he wins the election, he can -- as he did in South Carolina -- renounce who he was and what he did and resume his old persona. It won't work. Karl Marx got one thing right -- what he said about history repeating itself. Once is tragedy, a second time is farce. John McCain is both."


No Way, No How, No Melanoma

I wonder how John McCain--skin cancer survivor and healthy skin advocate--(the one issue on which he and I agree) feels about the fact that Sarah Palin installed a tanning bed in the Governor's mansion in Alaska? Will she get ragged for John Edwards-like vanity? Or does a girl just look better with a little glow? :)


Monday, September 15, 2008

I Need A Style Bailout

I’ll spare you a post about the impending collapse of the American financial system (how does Four More Years sound to you now?), and instead talk about my ongoing efforts to stop being a fashion victim. Maybe I’m just trying to comfort myself as I watch my retirement savings be vaporized; who knows? But in any case, my ongoing appearance upgrade after 18 months of wearing sweats and being sick (albeit taking into account the new financial realities) has been revitalized. Why the sudden effort? Because this morning Bambina told me, as I dressed to take her to preschool and then go walk around the indoor track, “Mama, don’t wear that! You look like Sandra T.” * [name changed]

You don’t know Sandra T, Bambina’s unpleasant summer preschool teacher. But just know this: if someone tells you that you are dressing like her, you need to open your closet and throw in a match. Now. It was so bad that she asked, while in kiddie laughter hysterics, if she could have the pants and shirt to play Sandra T dress-up. Now, ordinarily I don’t allow my preschooler to offer her opinions on what I wear, but Bambina has steered me right in the past on matters sartorial. One evening, I was wearing the BBDD’s famous flannel shirt (now ripped and sad-looking) from college to bed and she said, “Mama, please don’t wear that; it not a good style for you.” I was momentarily caught off-guard and realized that I looked ridiculous, like a Kurt Cobain reject at the age of 36. She also insisted that I wear the qipao yesterday to dim sum. I felt a little weird at first being all gussied up, but she LOVED it, loved the attention we got from the Chinese ladies, and loved telling people that she picked it for me. In the end, I realized that we looked damn good together. So I think my 4 year-old knows from fashion. And on second look, the Sandra T look was indeed rather unfortunate, if functional. So I cut her some slack on the unsolicited Tim Gunn action for one day.

So, with our Dana Farber marathon walk coming up next week, we’re now off to buy me a sports bra, a non-Sandra workout shirt and pants, and some decent sneakers so I don’t channel her mean and dumpy teacher for five miles. She has also inspired me to re-read my Tim Gunn book about clothes not being designed for the purpose of humiliating you every time you look at them. So I’m pulling out all the things that don’t fit me anymore (the transplant and the prednisone have “shifted” my weight floorward, alas) and giving them to the good people at the Vietnam Veterans of America. It’s time to purge the closet of anything stem cell-related (except for my famous turquoise hoodie; that is staying with me forever because it reminds me of coming home to Bambina after not seeing her for 3 weeks), of anything pre-2005, of anything that “might fit” someday when I’m off the meds. Screw that. When I’m off the meds (whenever the hell that might be), I’ll buy some new clothes then. In the meantime those clothes just serve to taunt rather than inspire me. So out they go. And with them, I hope, any shadow of Sandra T!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Let's Call It What It Is

Okay. I'm going to "go there." It's time to call it what it is--or very well could be.

Imagine a government regime in which the ruler consistently repeats lies about the opposition and about the state of the nation, even in the overwhelming face of evidence to the contrary. When the media of that country points out the lies, the ruler demonizes and dismisses the media. The ruler feels no obligation whatsoever to appear before the media, to provide sit-down interviews that may be deemed unfriendly or contentious, or to provide an explanation for why he is boldly continuing to repeat assertions that have long been discredited by all respected sources. In breathtaking arrogance, the ruler even misrepresents the findings of factcheck.org, an organization dedicated to ensuring truth in political advertising! The ruler makes personal attacks upon the patriotism of those who oppose him. The ruler manages to stay somewhat above the fray because he sends surrogates to make the most outrageous claims--or he puts them on television in heavy rotation. When asked about the dishonest conduct of his campaign, a representative says simply, "We are running a campaign to win and we are not much concerned with what the media filter has to say." And that's a direct quote, folks.

So tell me. In what country does this political figure reside? Somewhere in Eastern Europe? Somewhere in post-colonial Africa?

Something to think about. That's all I'm saying.

You don't have to vote for Obama. But you do have to really think about what style of governing you are requesting (and you ARE requesting it) when you pull the lever for McCain. McCain himself said on Thursday night that the voters will determine in November what kind of campaigns they want. He said it in no uncertain terms on national TV. If he wins, his means are justified. And all the people who advised him on those means will follow him to the White House where you can be sure their winning strategy will be put toward governing. You will get precisely the government that you have requested and approved by pulling that lever for McCain.

In other words, would you hire this person to run your company, knowing what you know about his tactics for securing the job? Would you? Would you want the face and representation of your company to be someone who flagrantly wins at all costs--even the cost of destroying his decades-long reputation for integrity? Would you give this guy and his staffers your house keys? Would you enthusiastically vouch for him with all of your friends and feel like your reputation would be safe? And if you wouldn't, why would you allow him to take the reins of something you hold so dear? Even if you didn't want to hire the other candidate for the job, wouldn't you just reopen the search?

The McCain campaigns says this election is not about the issues, but about character and personality. I wholeheartedly disagree with that, but even if I did, McCain would still not get my vote. If you truly though Bill Clinton was a disgrace to the Office of the Presidency "because of the lying, not the sex" then now is the time to be consistent. John McCain would therefore be a disgrace too, since he's already lying with a shocking ease before he's even won the office.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Judgment Day

So many things going on in Mommyland these days. Mostly to do with me being judgmental of other moms even though I really don't want to be.

Example One:
Today we went to a birthday party of a child in Bambina's preschool class. Some moms stayed, some left. One kid (the one who constantly acts out in class) arrived...with his nanny. I feel for this kid on so many levels, because I can see that he is a sweet child underneath his total lack of impulse control. I've seen him lose it in class, and I can tell that--beyond being destructive--he is beside himself, not knowing how to get himself pulled together. And when I see this, I don't see a kid with undiagnosed ADD. I see a kid who has been getting zero help at home with basic childhood emotions. Because he CAN pull it together for the teachers, but at home (during his birthday party last year) it was effing bedlam and his mom was all, "What are you gonna do, huh? Boys will be boys." At school dropoff when she does dropoff, his mom is always yelling while he's crying for her not to go. She was yelling, "Get off me! I've go to leave! Get off me!" This kid so desperately needs adult help to channel his emotions into appropriate behaviors, and he clearly succeeds when that help is given. But it doesn't seem to be given. And then today. Arriving with a nanny. On a Saturday. The nanny of course left and then this kid had to poop, so he was standing in the potty of this activity center with his pants down around his ankles needing help with wiping and--oh dear god--there are so many reasons I cannot wipe another kid's butt these days, issues of legality being only the most minor one. But I swear my heart broke for this boy as I went to get the birthday kid's mom to figure out a solution. Luckily she's classic Israeli and is all, "Well, let's wipe his butt then!" No issues, no gross-outs, screw the lawyers, just straight-up mothering, no questions asked. And thank god. Because this poor boy was in a situation I would literally sit myself down and cry about if it was my kid.

So--Am I an a**hole that I have some made-up rule in my head that a kid should not be nannied on a weekend? That his parents of whatever gender should be taking him to social events--and at the very least having a plan for the incidence of their child needing to relieve himself?

And speaking of making up rules. Am I an a**hole that I don't want my kid to play with another girl in her class after only two playdates? Here's my reasoning: this little girl gets very mean over the smallest things, and when she gets mean she gets VERY mean. Like, beyond what a 4 year old should be able to conjure up verbally. And she throws stuff and hits. And I'm thinking that I can't protect my kid from everyone who comes her way, but surely I can protect her by not putting her in situations where someone is likely to hit her or throw stuff at her? And--again with my anti-feminism--the mother. Oh my god the mother. I can tell she's mortified when her daughter acts out. I see that, and I can tell they don't hit in the home and whatnot. But beyond being all, "I'm so sorry! She's not usually like this!" she does nothing. And then I'm in the uncomfortable position of "do I discipline another person's child while that person is standing right next to me?" And here's the thing: she keeps saying "she's not usually like this!" but in our three interactions together in school and outside school, her daughter has hit or thrown something at Bambina every single time. Seems to me her daughter IS usually like this. Or am I being unreasonable? The first time it happened I thought, "all kids have bad days." The second time it happened I was starting to become concerned, especially when I considered that Bambina just does not hit other kids no matter how totally undone she is, so it can't be something that "all kids" do. The third time I was already figuring out how to wrap up this playground date, get my kid out of there, and never get together again. So, again: am I an a**hole because I don't want my kid around a seemingly nice lady's kid? I asked Bambina if she is mean in school. She said that she usually is fine, but that she gets mean when her mom is around. I don't even know what to think, but I do know that I don't want to play with them again. Am I a jerk?

And speaking of me being a jerk. I was speaking to a mom in Bambina's class. Her daughter is very tall for her age, and her mom said, "Well she didn't get it from me!" So I said, "oh. Is your husband tall?" And--shame on me after all my rants about clueless people assuming biology in these here pages--she said, "Oh no. xy was adopted, so her height is genetic; just not from us." I was so appalled at myself that I just said, "Okay, I am so sorry that I am one of those people I complain about. I just did to you what I hate others doing to me. I am so sorry." Luckily she was cool and said that it was no big deal seeing as our kids would be friends. But I made a mental note to remember that for a brief, inglorious, ignominious moment I was that clueless stranger inquiring into another child's gene pool just for chatty conversational purposes. And made a mental note to cut some slack to the next person who asks me something intrusive (as long as they don't do it in front of Bambina; no mercy for those folks, I'm afraid), because there but for the grace of god go I.

Which, now that I think about it, might be the best way to approach those first two situations as well.

Happy Moon Festival!

It's the Chinese Moon Festival, y'all! The annual holiday celebrating the harvest and family. It's all about family reunions, eating outside under the moon, and being together. The legend is (short version) that Chang'e is the woman who lives in the moon; her husband, an immortal, lives on the sun, and the moon festival is the one time of the year when they can be together, when the moon and the sun pass each other on this day. The moon is at its fullest and brightest because of this. That's the waaay truncated and simplified version.

What that means for us is dim sum with 21 people in Chinatown, then making homemade mooncakes, then staying up late so that Bambina can see the full bright moon. Every year we take pictures of our night walk under the moon, so I'll post some on Monday. Bambina is so excited for this holiday. This whole week we've been going outside to see the moon go from a crescent to a half to a three-quarter...and tomorrow to full. It's so fabulous seeing her get so excited about being up late and seeing the moon morph just like in her favorite Eric Carle book, "Papa Please Get The Moon For Me."

She also loves to hear about what people in China are doing "right now." So we're actually going to yell "Happy Moon Festival!" at the top of our lungs when we wake up because the moon festival moon will already be out in China (it being 17 hours ahead). She's so excited that she is going to dress in her traditional qipao dress tomorrow--and she insists that I wear mine too. Y'all. This is a formal outfit. Long, with that famous collar. It's waaay more than I'd usually wear to dim sum, but when I suggested I wear something else she got upset and said, "But I want us to dress the same and look the same!" And since I can't be her mommy with dark brown hair and brown skin, the least I can do is be her mommy in a fancy qipao. So if you see a blonde lady in a traditional Chinese outfit on the T tomorrow, you'll know it's me.

Be sure to wish me a Happy Moon Festival. :)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Johnny Rotten

Thursday night's National Service forum has been little commented upon.

McCain said something tremendously revealing that no one seems to have picked up on:

MCCAIN: First of all, this is a tough business. Second of all, I think the tone of this whole campaign would have been very different if Senator Obama had accepted my request for us to appear in town hall meetings all over America, the same way Jack Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had agreed to do so. I know that, because I’ve been in enough campaigns....

WOODRUFF: Do you think it’s naive of people to expect that politics could be a little less rough and tumble and even nasty?

MCCAIN: The people make the final judgment with their votes. They make the final judgment about campaigns and how we present ourselves to the American people. And I think that that will be the ultimate test of what kind of campaigns do we run.

Do you get the significance of this statement? John McCain has said--on national television--that a) because Barack Obama did not agree to conduct his campaign for the presidency via the format that favors John McCain (town hall meetings), Obama bears responsibility for the "tone" of the campaign, and b) Senator McCain is not concerned with the tone of the campaign and that if anybody wants to register their disapproval they can do so at the ballot box.

This, to me, is a dare on the same level as Gary Hart's invitation to follow him around and see if he cheats. John McCain is saying that he plans to run his campaign however the hell he sees fit and its up to the voters--not his widely touted "integrity" or "honor"--to put the brakes on outright lying and character assassination. John McCain says it's up to the voters to tell him if lying about your opponent is acceptable (sex ed for kindergarteners! He'll raise your taxes!), if distorting widely-known fact (Sarah Palin opposed earmarks including the Bridge To Nowhere! Sarah Palin sold her jet on Ebay for a profit--except she sold it to a Republican donor at a loss) to your own benefit. He says it's up to us to tell him if lying and losing your integrity to win at all costs works.

I pray that we are a better nation--whatever our policy positions may be as individuals--than to let American history show that we, the people, said in November 2008 that lying and sleaze were just fine with us.

The ABC Interview

I was going to do a long post on the ABC interview, but James Fallows over at The Atlantic has just done it way better than I could. He specifically nails what is so unacceptable about Sarah Palin's potential proximity to the presidency, based on her responses in this interview. In short:

The truly toxic combination of traits GW Bush brought to decision making was:

1) Ignorance
2) Lack of curiosity
3) "Decisiveness"

That is, he was not broadly informed to begin with (point 1). He did not seek out new information (#2); but he nonetheless prided himself (#3) on making broad, bold decisions quickly, and then sticking to them to show resoluteness. We don't know for sure about #2 for Palin yet -- she could be a sponge-like absorber of information. But we know about #1 and we can guess, from her demeanor about #3. Most of all we know something about the person who put her in this untenable role.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Waxing Infectious

It's been crazy around Chez Haggis for several reasons. The biggest one being that Bambina has an ear infection. Acute Otitis Media, for the MDs among you. She woke up at 4am (of course at 4am; these things don't happen at 2pm...) screaming that her head hurt and holding behind her ear. I tried to comfort her as my mind raced through "brain tumor" and "meningitis" and then arrived at "potential ear infection, please." This is her first ear infection ever, but we were surprisingly on top of things compared with our earlier ER dramas. She and I went downstairs, took Tylenol (for myself I briefly considered some brandy in my tea, or should I say tea with my brandy?), and lay around on the couch chatting with her "stuffies" till morning when I could call the doctor for an appointment.

So the day was tiring, rough and way too long. But I did learn more about ear wax than I ever thought I'd want to know. Bambina's doctor pulled what looked like a gigantic cornflake out of her wee little ear in an attempt to see her ear drum. The cornflake was all dusty and dry. I was like, "Um, is that WAX?" Friends, indeed it was. Turns out that there is a gene for ear wax, be it waxy and wet or dry and dusty. Yep. A gene. nytimes.com

97% of caucasians have the wet kind; a similar percentage of East Asians have the dry kind. Now we know, and now YOU know too. ;) The difficulty level of the dry and dusty kind is that it does not naturally work its way out of the ear canal; it has to be moved along by various interventions. And not by Q-tips; they are worse than useless in that they just shove this crusty stuff waaay down into the ear canal, never to see the light of auricular day. So here I was thinking I'd done all the reading and preparing that a white parent could do in raising a Chinese-born child--and I missed the damn ear wax chapter.

In all seriousness though, it gave Bambina and I an opportunity to talk about "Caucasian" and "Asian" and what those words mean. She doesn't quite get genetics yet, in terms of the fact that dry ear wax requires that both parents have the adenine mutation, but she did get that both her Chinese mother and Chinese father must have had the same gene (whatever that is) to make her "cornflakes." She liked that.

Of course she liked it. You know how preschoolers work:
Dominant recessive genetics? Whatever.
Breakfast cereal in your ear courtesy of your Chinese parents? Priceless.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm Chillin'

I've been sweating the polls and the constant lies from McSame-Playin'. Until I saw this over at my favorite blogger Oliver Willis :

It's from punditkitchen, which is precisely the fun I needed after seeing McCain twist Obama's support of preventing child sexual abuse into "sex education for kindergarteners." Seriously, if you're voting for McCain, this is what you're voting for. A man who doesn't find it disgusting to take sexual abuse prevention and turn it into something sexual about kids. A man of character indeed.

Cocktail Hour

So I signed up to be the co-chair of the preschool parents committee. Go June Cleaver! It's been fun getting involved and finally getting to do stuff relating to Bambina's school. However, I failed to realize that I'm not in Kansas (or DC) anymore.

Last night was the parents Meet And Greet night. Just a one hour, come and meet the teachers and administrators thing. So I--as I imagine most moms do--ran in the house from being out, found some clean clothes, and threw on some khakis and a nice shirt and shoes. Back in DC, if I attended something child-related this is what most people would be wearing if they weren't coming directly from work and were therefore in some kind of business attire. Imagine my surprise to walk into this little classroom and see parents dressed for cocktail hour. I'm not kidding! Like, little black dresses, full makeup, full hair done, dressy purses. For a moment I thought a bunch of people had just come from a wedding. But alas--this is apparently how we dress for a one hour cheese reception at a preschool in my new town. Aw crap.

I got over it when--thank you god!--a couple of more "hippie" moms showed up wearing jeans and t-shirts, but you could tell they also were wondering what black-tie affair had exploded, leaving all these LBDs (little black dresses) littering a preschool classroom. For the rest of the night I was wondering how these women got ready--and I do mean READY--for a 7pm event. I was out of my house till 6:35 for Bambina's dinner, then was throwing my clothes on while singing with Bambina and showing my mom where her toothbrush was, while telling her that I'd come in and kiss her when I got home, while reminding myself to get her lunchbox out of the car, while... You get the picture. There was no blow-out on my schedule, and I can't figure out how it was on anyone else's, even (or should I say especially) a stay-at-home mom's.

The night was still fun. I chatted quite a bit with Bambina's teacher, whom I love fervently. I met some other parents, chatted with the school administrators. In short, I got everything out of the night and put everything into it I should have. Except, perhaps, for any cocktails...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Precious Moments

Grandma Haggis is in town so that the BBDD and I can go to a family wedding sans fille. It's fun having Grandma around because she is so old-school about child rearing. It's also not fun having Grandma around because she is so old-school about child rearing. ;)

I was just giving her the rundown on Things To Do with Bambina and she dismissed me with, "I've done it three times plus grandkids! I'm sure we'll find something to do." Okaaay. I was showing her where stuff was in the kitchen and she gave me the "I'm sure I can find my way around a kitchen!" Fair enough. She thinks I'm too concerned with nonsense. I think she'll be vainly searching my kitchen lo around 6:30pm for Bambina's favorite spoon. ;) My mom's response? "Then she'll survive one night without her favorite spoon. Go to your wedding."

So she's old-school. At the same time, she's sweet. Bambina wanted to put Grandma to bed last night, so she gamely got under her covers and let Bambina do HugsandKisses and SuperWonderTucks with her. SuperWonderTucks are Bambina's favorite part of bedtime. They arose one night when she just could not get to sleep and was afraid of everything in her room. So--like manna from heaven--SuperWonderTucks came to me. They are not just a nighttime tuck-in. Oh no. They are Super Wonderful. They mean that nothing can harm you, nothing can scare you, and that you are safe until the morning. She gets three, and each one she gets to say a word that makes her feel happy. So I'll wave my hands over her head while repeating the word, like "Dada," and then pull her sheet up to her chin and say "Tuck!" SuperWonderTucks save bedtime. Every time.

In Bambina's continuing growth and development, I can safely say that we have reached the age of "no filter in public." Awesome. Here are some recent remarks in front of other people, some of whom we know, most of whom we don't:

"Mama. That man has a baby in his tummy!"

"Mama! That man is smoking! That not good!"

"Mama. Why are your big girl underpants all grey cotton?" (The answer being that mama is, sadly, wearing "big girl underpants," isn't she? Perhaps it's time for mama to visit a reputable lingerie purveyor and leave her stem cell transplant Old Navy underwear in the trash can of history...)

"Mama. That lady littered! [to the woman]: Excuse me! You littered! That not good!"

I'm apparently raising my very own mini-me Tracy Flick. ;)

On the positive side, just a couple of days in her new preschool class have done wonders for her. She is so much more outgoing and getting more confident every day. One of her new friends hit her on the arm and where she would have cried a couple of months ago, she looked at her and said sternly, "That was mean! If you're mean today I am not going to play with you!" Then we got the emailed photos of her first week at school and--holy cow--my kid is smiling in every single one. I called the BBDD to come see because last year--literally--she did not smile in a single photo. Not one the whole year, which broke my heart. There are about 10 pics of her in this first batch and she is smiling or hamming it up in every single one. I damn near cried.
And yesterday we went to our first Chinese beginners class. Well, hello! Whose kid was totally participating, walking around the room shaking hands and practicing, "Ni hao ma? Wo jiao Bambina!" It was pretty damn awesome.

So it looks like good things are a package deal: you get sweet Grandma with Ain't-Havin-It Grandma. And you get Confident Bambina with No Filter Bambina. I think I love them all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

McCain Is Sweating Because He Did No Vetting

Watch this video for information about the maverick Alaska Governor's ethical problems. Thanks to mudflats for the link:

Note how the staffer making the call keeps referencing "Sarah and Todd" and "Sarah and the family" when discussing her irritation that the trooper has not yet been fired. Why on earth-if this were all just state business/nothing to see here--is Todd Palin part of the conversation? If the commissioner was fired for reasons other than not firing Palin's ex brother in law, then why is her family at all referenced in relation to his firing? I'm just saying.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Make The Bad People Stop

I fell asleep last night so missed the rousing Sarah Palin speech. I saw it today and it was, as expected, well delivered (if a wee bit sarcastic) and full of lies. It's weird to see someone say something in front of millions of people that can easily be disproved by photos or video footage or voting record. Bridge to Nowhere, anyone? (On another note, did she really actually reveal the exact date of her son's shipment to Iraq?! Is she TRYING to have him killed?! What a fantastic commander in chief she'd be!

Anyhoo, I'm watching McCain's speech now. It's rather uninspiring, but that's not a crime. What is a crime is the past week's revival of the culture wars we lived through years ago. Hating on community organizers? So poor people who sit around and stay poor are lazy. Oh, but poor people who organize (with the help of "community organizers") to better themselves and their communities are--what?--Stupid? To be mocked? "Do Nothings?" Either way, those poor people can't win, can they?

Oh, and Rudy Giuliani, he from New York City where he lives with his THIRD wife in between cross-dressing on TV comedy shows, criticizes Obama for looking down on those who are not "cosmopolitan" enough. How would Rudy--a man who wouldn't live in a 6,000 person Alaska town if it were named NineEleven--define "cosmopolitan?" And why is it bad to like it? And again with the 9-11! His primary concern with the Democratic convention? He heard barely a mention of 9-11! As Jon Stewart says, "every time someone mentions 9-11, Giuliani gets a royalty check."

And all the talk of "small towns" and how the angry left disparages the good people who live there. Newsflash to the Rethuglicans: hard working people live in cities too. And those "small town folks" who serve in the armed forces? A huge percentage of our forces come from the inner cities too. And Mitt Romney deriding the "Eastern Elites." And what would you be, Mitt? A Western Elite? Gimme a break. It makes me sad to see the divisiveness, the clear strategy to not discuss issues, but to make personal "contrasts" with the opposition. It's just frankly depressing to watch.

And don't even get me started on Joe Effing Lieberman.

Okay, back to McCain's speech. If it's 20 minutes long, I'm saying 16 of it is about Vietnam. Also, is it just me, or does the audience seem to be applauding and cheering at inappropriate moments? He'll be in the middle of a line saying, "Many of my fellow servicemen had it much worse than me..." and they start cheering. "These are tough times for many of you..." Wild applause and cheers of "USA! USA!" ** Weird weird weird. And my final note as the speech ends: he just seems terribly uncomfortable delivering this speech.

**UPDATE: Apparently the chanting broke out in response to codepink protesters...

Oh and PS, for those who are challenged in this regard, here's a list of Sexist and Non-Sexist remarks:

How could you do the job of Vice President with 5 kids?
Why did you go back to work 3 days after giving birth to a special needs child?
What kind of mother are you that your daughter is now pregnant?

NOT Sexist:
Specifically what qualifications do you bring to the position of Vice President of the United States?
What experiences have you had that give you the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job?
You are currently under an ethics investigation. Can you comment on that?
You were for the Bridge to Nowhere for a long time before you were against it. Can you explain that to us?
The town of which you were mayor hired an administrator to undertake many of the mayoral administrative duties. Can you walk us through the reason for that?
If you were a tree, which one would you be?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

HumpDay Links


First up, a man who was almost arrested in China for playing bagpipes:

Next, a book telling women to stay thin and obey their men. By a man who "has never married, has a girlfriend of two years, an 11-year-old son from a previous relationship and says he has never found true love." I would never have guessed!

In more Scottish news, the Haggis Eating Championship has been decided! In true Scottish fashion, you eat haggis while drinking beer in order to win some whiskey.

From Something Awful, the John McCain Honorable Attack Generator, to help out Democrats who always have to preface every criticism with something about McCain's honorable service. Pretty funny.

Sarah Palin's Reverend Wright

I'm going to remind myself that I said Obama couldn't be held responsible for the views espoused by his church when I post this item about the Wasilla Assembly of God's embrace of Jews for Jesus, not to mention her pastor's view that those who did not vote for Bush in 2004 were consigned to hell and this about 9/11 and Iraq:

What you see in a terrorist -- that's called the invisible enemy. There has always been an invisible enemy. What you see in Iraq, basically, is a manifestation of what's going on in this unseen world called the spirit world. ... We need to think like Jesus thinks. We are in a time and a season of war, and we need to think like that. We need to develop that instinct. We need to develop as believers the instinct that we are at war, and that war is contending for your faith. ... Jesus called us to die. You're worried about getting hurt? He's called us to die. Listen, you know we can't even follow him unless you are willing to give up your life. ... I believe that Jesus himself operated from that position of war mode. Everyone say "war mode." Now you say, wait a minute Ed, he's like the good shepherd, he's loving all the time and he's kind all the time. Oh yes he is -- but I also believe that he had a part of his thoughts that knew that he was in a war.

Funny. I always thought Jesus was the Prince of Peace. My mistake.


So why do I keep posting this stuff? Because it was the job of the McCain campaign to have this sh*t out in front of her selection and announcement. They're acting so surprised at the media scrum around Palin, but Helloooo!! She's new and unknown. It was their job to make her known, to set the narrative, to have answers to these concerns in place BEFORE announcing her. But they didn't and now they're mad that people are doing their own research. Poor campaign organization, poor campaign planning, poor execution right down the line. And, notwithstanding my complete lack of knowledge of Sarah Palin, I almost feel sorry for her, that she is going to end up a total political punchline thanks to John McCain.

My point is less about Sarah Palin's fitness for office than about John McCain's fitness for office, based on his handling of this most important of decisions and processes.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Back To School

In my spare time between being breathlessly outraged and aghast at the Sarah Palin pick (and what it says about McCain), and blogging about my breathless outrage and aghasteration ;) Chez Haggis has been having a good ole time.

We helped out at an Obama lemonade stand in our town center over the weekend. Never before in my life have I felt so suburban, y'all. A lemonade stand indeed. Bambina totally wore the Obama pins. I felt a wee bit odd because even though Barry is my boyfriend, I refuse to politicize my kid and make her wear any partisan shirts and whatnot. I would never buy her an Obama shirt and put it on her as if she is an extension of my political views. So there's my kid in the Obama pin, "the one with his face" that she just had to have. I'm starting to think, "Aw, Barry would love this!" when she says, "but don't worry Mama, I'm voting for John McCain." You'll recall she did this with HRC back in the primaries just to tweak me. I gave her a mock shocked face and said, "Sweet girl! Why are you voting for John McCain?!" Her answer? "Because he's the mean one!"

Prior to the lemonade stand we went to a Families With Children From China picnic at a local park. It was really neat to be surrounded by people who look just like us and who don't ask questions like, "Why didn't you adopt from America?" I'm not sure Bambina is at an age where she cares yet, but I could tell the older kids got a lot out of being together. In a surprisingly outgoing move, Bambina did announce without prompting that she was going to do the sack race. We made a big deal out of her participating and the fact that she won a prize (see?! participation has its rewards!). The better part of the picnic, however, was spent dodging goose poop and watching a beagle chase various fowl back into the pond. As you can imagine in Preschooler FunLand, this was a 45 minute spectacle not to be missed. And then we went home.

Oh! I forgot to mention that I rode the T the other day. All the way to Gummint Center to visit our cousin who was in the hospital. Here's an intentionally blurry pic of me and Bambina wielding our Charlie tickets. Note the smile. Yeah. That was before I noticed that the AC was on the fritz and before a rather smelly dude sat behind me on what became a very crowded train. Which precipitated a mild, internal panic attack as I started imagining all the germs I was breathing in from all these disgusting humans who had odors and textures--and the temerity to get in my airspace. I think what did it was the smells. Like, you can talk yourself out of any kind of germophobia AS LONG AS YOU AREN'T SNIFFING IN SOMEONE ELSE'S MIASMA. Actually smelling another human near me is what freaked me out, like, if I can smell the odor, what am I ingesting?!!! I could not get off that effing train fast enough. When we got to the hospital I damn near told our sweet cousin to get out of bed because this girl was gettin' in. Luckily I got over it in time to make the ride home. But I do have to confess a lack of ardor for riding again any time soon while AC is still required on board.

In other news, Bambina starts her last year of preschool tomorrow. Yes, I feel old. But in a good way. Old in the sense that I get to look back on wonderful things rather than assuming (as I did when much younger) that they are all in my future. Quite simply, I cannot believe this child is 4. This person I used to feed, bathe, and sing to sleep now lectures me, "Mama it is bad manners to eat more than one fry at a time," "Mama, you didn't say thank you!" This person who once depended on me for everything is now so torn between wanting to do everything herself and yet needing Mama. It makes her crazy sometimes, trying to resolve the frustration, and all I can do is be grateful that a) she's normal and b) she's not thirteen yet. Seeing all the other 4 year-olds at that picnic did so much for my psyche, because they were all, with a couple of exceptions, anti-social toward grownups, needing coaching in social skills ("Now, ask her if she'd like to see your doll. Good girl. Now say thank you..."), and making statements that all the parents agreed are not stated in their home, so where do they come from?! Bambina is currently obsessed with being the fattest person in the house. She sticks her belly out, rubs it, and says, "Look at my belly! I'm the fattest in the house! Mama, you only get to be the medium fattest. Dada you are the thinnest fattest."

As you know we NEVER discuss body issues with her, not about her, not about ourselves, never, not ever. I don't think I've ever referred to anyone as "fat" in front of her either, so much do I not want to give her the impression that there is a judgment to be made about a person based on their weight, be it high or low. So it's kind of hilarious to see her embracing the chub, wanting to be fat. I was a fat kid, and believe me it is no joke. But since she is by far the child least likely to be 40 pounds by age 6 it's kind of entertaining, simply because she sees no negative value in it. She thinks it's the best thing to be the fattest in the house. And I'm not going to disabuse her of that notion, even though I am wondering where she even heard the word.

In other, other news, I'm walking in the Dana Farber Jimmy Fund Marathon Walk on September 21st. If you would like to send a few bob my way to pass onto the good people who saved my life, send me an email and I'll give you the link to the Team Haggis page. The team was started by the BBDD and he's doing the whole damn thing. Me, I'm in it for just the 5 mile leg because--hey! Gimme a break! I had a damn transplant only last year!--and because I'll be jogging strollering it with a 4 year-old who won't last for the long haul (she says as if she herself would!). I'd just post the link, but it's got last names and all, and not everyone likes to be linked to a smutty pointless blog. :)

And with that, I'm off to stew about the GOP convention... ;)