Thursday, December 31, 2009

ABBA Rules

Y'all can hate if you want, but this song reminds me of New Year's Eves in Scotland, and consequently all my New Year's Eves with my Dad, and it makes me happy. Besides, who can resist a reminder of ill-fitting suits from the '70s? You know you love it.

Picturing the Decade

Xinnian Kuaile!*

Tonight's the night. Another New Year's Eve. Another year on it's way out. Another opportunity to envision the day my grandkids will perhaps be wondering why they keep trotting out the very advanced-in-age Ryan Seacrest on New Year's Eve. But I say God Bless to Ryan, because as I've said before, hosting looks like the easiest job in the world but it ain't. He and Dick Clark have the skills to jump from Taylor Swift to the Foo Fighters to the cast of Two and a Half Men, and make it all seem cohesive. So no dissing the Seacrest for me.

Unlike other years I am not necessarily leaping for joy that the current year is over. 2006? Good riddance. 2007? A good ending from a bad beginning. 2009? A mixed bag.

Yesterday as we drove to Target so Bambina could spend her gift card money, she was saying how if felt good but bad to not be at the store yet, that she just couldn't wait and the waiting was making her body feel funny. I said, "That is called 'anticipation.' It's the excited, restless feeling you get when you really, really want something and are super close to getting it, but you're not yet close enough." This, I think, sums up what we are all feeling individually and as a family about 2009. So much anticipation, not enough fruition.

Baby Sister. She's ours but she's not with us. Every day I wake up and think, "My child is in an orphanage for another day without me." Then I make myself feel better by saying that I have the rest of her life with her, so not to get too wiggy about a few months apart when she's a baby. And then I think, "That's bullshit and you know it, but there's nothing you can do about it, so move on."
Hope for 2010: My baby girl. Home with me. ASAP.

My health. It's fabulous except when it's not. Chronic GVH effing sucks. I hope that I'll one day be off prednisone and my immunosuppressive cocktail, and I won't be 20 pounds heavier than usual, but who knows? Maybe I won't. I hope that the drugs will do what they did for my acute GVH, which is eradicate it. The challenge is that Chronic is a different animal than Acute. Chronic wants to hang around, and it wants to attack weird things like connective tissue rather than, say, your average colon. My skin looks weird now on my back; if I move it looks like cellulite all over because the fibrous tissue under my skin is being shortened by the GVH. So there goes my 2010 bikini modeling contract, folks.
Hope for 2010: A respite from the GVH and from the drugs. Even a little one. Even enough that I get to look in the mirror and semi-recognize my own face.

Our house. 2009 was going to be the year we fixed our deck and our chimney, so we'd be able to have friends over and enjoy our home in summer. It would be cucumber sandwiches and mint juleps and children at play! Only, the first contractor who did the job did it wrong, took our money, has an expired license, and worked without a permit, unbeknownst to us. So we fired him and had to hire a new guy to come and take down everything he did and essentially start over. As we figure out how to hopefully get some restitution, we are now digging ourselves out of the financial hole of having had to pay for two major jobs twice. So, we're psyched we have the deck--just in time for winter!?--but let's just say we're happy Bambina hasn't been accepted to college this year, or sweet thang would be out of luck.
Hope for 2010: No more house projects that hemorrhage money. Being content with our little loveshack just the way it is.

Writing. You'll recall I took the writing class in 2009 that inspired me to write more. Then life got in the way and all my big plans got shelved. This is as it should be, on the one hand, because when your kid needs you you drop everything. On the other hand, if I'm honest, I spent a good deal of 2009 making sure everyone else was good to the detriment of my own goals. This is, of course, nobody's fault but my own, especially since I'm married to perhaps the coolest and most solicitous guy on the planet who routinely tells me to get out of the house, ignore the messy kitchen and go write something. But then my Unemployed White Female alterego kicks in and I feel like if I am not working and contributing financially to the house, I have no business sitting in a coffee shop writing. Like, how is that okay? How is that a good use of time when other people are WORKING at REAL jobs?? And so I go paint a room or mop the floors instead.
Hope for 2010: That I finally get in agreement with myself that stuff I do matters even if it doesn't earn me any money. That perhaps writing is a valid use of my time, as valid as someone else's workout or coffee break or job, even. That I'm entitled to a couple of hours a day not spent in service to another human. We'll see how that goes: “For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”

You. This one's unqualified: Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, thanks for keeping this fun. As the Scottish new year song "A Guid New Year to Ane an' A" says:

A guid new year to ane an' a'
An' mony may ye see,
An' during a' the years to come,
O happy may ye be.
An' may ye ne'er hae cause to mourn,
To sigh or shed a tear;
To ane an'a baith great an' sma'
A hearty guid New year.

*Happy New Year in Mandarin

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It sounds like a porno, but sadly it ain't.

It's National Blog Posting Month. Which, actually, was November. But it was such a success they've decided to roll it out all year round. January's theme is BEST. A whole month of posts--at least one a day--on "BEST." Which might also include "worst" and "fair to middlin'" and other variants on the theme.

I'm going to do my best (har!) to post every single day. After all, who wants to be the only blogger NaBloPo'ing Less?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Whole Lotta FAIL

Oh where to start?!

The Christmas Day airline almost-bombing. TSA: FAIL. And now, it turns out: CIA: FAIL. Why don't we just skip the intellectual fiction that any of the TSA's nonsense "screening" keeps even one malefactor off an airplane and just accept that if we don't kill them where they live they will fly on our planes and kill us. Or, to be less Republican about it, let us accept that if we don't keep them off our airplanes they will fly on our planes and kill us. Let us all also accept that daily, run-of-the-mill dick-swinging between and amongst agencies over turf and credit and information possession bear no small amount of the blame for this latest FUBAR event. It is a disgrace. And Obama needs to be on notice: Dude, you CANNOT have a terrorist attack during your first term. Yeah, George Bush had one--a rather large one as I recall--but unlike GWB, you won't survive the fallout. If you have to get all Keifer Sutherland on some asses to make it happen, you must avoid a terrorist attack at all costs. I mean, not that you wouldn't anyway of course. But you get my point: attack = GOP in 2012 = disaster. Bust heads accordingly.

Health Care Reform. The Left: FAIL. Lobbying with right wing nutjobs to defeat the health care bill? Are you effing kidding me? Listen, folks. It may be a pile of shit, but it's a better pile of shit than the one we have now. Think about it. I could charitably call this response letting the perfect get in the way of the good, but it's worse than that. It's stupidity, plain and simple. Working to hand our Democratic president a DEFEAT on one of the key, signature issues from the campaign--because it doesn't comport precisely with all we wanted? That's called politics, kids. It's how, unfortunately--and fortunately--things get done in our democracy. Yes, Joe Lieberman should suck it. But to help kill the bill in response to his crap? Hells, naw.

The Vatican. Papal Security: FAIL. The poor 82 year-old Pope gets knocked down by a deranged woman. The same woman who attempted to do the same thing to him in 2008 before being tackled. Any advance work being done over there--or do known freaks just get to approach the Pope regardless?

Prednisone. My Ass' Suitability for Viewing: FAIL. Friends, prednisone is the work of the devil. Except for that part where it actually helps me live a normal life. That's the work of the seraphim and cherubim of course. But the part that helps me live a normal life--AS A FAT PERSON? Evil through and through. I am now referring to my weight gain as My Prednisone Baby, because it has taken the form of one giant spare tire around my stomach--precisely where I need to button my pants. It is of a different texture than the rest of my well-earned fat. It's harder and less malleable. And it often results in a great deal of tears and tantrums. I keeed! A little.

And finally: My stamina. Ability to stay awake at the moment: FAIL. Hasta manana!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joyeux Noel

For all my Christian friends and family, a blessed, healthy and happy Christmas. For the less religious and/or equally festive, here comes Santa!

And for my tribe, on this the quietest night of the year:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On Today's Episode

On today's episode of Selective Socialism, our guest is GOP Rep. Michelle Bachmann. Rep. Bachmann hates socialism and all its proponents in any form. Except when it comes in the form of government subsidies to her father-in-law's farm, in which she has a financial stake:
I love this! I mean, this is straight-up rank hypocrisy. It's socialism if you get government money for health care. It's just good business if I get it for a farm. As Chris Rock said so famously: "I told you that bitch is crazy!"

Next up, on today's episode of Selective Christianity, GOP Senator Coburn prays that someone "in the majority" will be unable to attend the votes on health care. Nice. So groups of teabaggers and various "Christians" got together to pray that Senator Byrd would die before the vote. Joke's on them since Senator Inhofe (R) was the only one who didn't make it. But really, folks. Christians getting together to pray that someone dies so that a government program might not be passed? Really? Praying for the death of political opponents? How the GOP has ANY credibility left is beyond me.

Now, on this week's episode of "Now That's Messing With My Brain, Yo!" comes an article on how smart plants are, how "alive" plants are, and how totally badass plants are. So, vegans: Why are you eating them? This takes me back to my childhood, when my Dad saw a bumpersticker on a passing car that said, "Meat is Murder" and he yelled out the window, "Hey! What about cruelty to turnips?!" It would appear that JP was once again in the vanguard of ethical thought. :)

In part two of the show, we'll discuss how owning a dog is, environmentally speaking, akin to owning an SUV. With toxic feces and stuff thrown in for fun. I don't really want to incur the ire of doglovers everywhere, so I'll diplomatically say that I've never seen an SUV get excited to see its owner after a long day at work...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday Snippets

Holy crap. Did you see this prayercast against the healthcare bill? Rachel Maddow breaks it down, via Washington Monthly. Honestly, folks. This kind of stuff scares the bejesus (pun intended) out of me. Separation of church and state, anyone?

Next, as we go from the gifty excess of Chanukah to the gifty excess of Christmas, here's an article on the growing role of food stamps in the economy, now that so many middle-income Americans have had to turn to them. Particularly poignant is this anecdote, which gave me a lump in my throat: "Unemployed and on disability benefits, Contraeras, 45, has custody of her grandchildren, ages 2 and 3. She has resorted to circling the first of the month on her calendar so that when her grandchildren are hungry, she can count down the days until they can return to the grocery store. 'I have to make a game out of it for the kids,' she said."

In lighter fare, the top ten movies of the decade, according to metacritic:

And with that, you all enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to survey the "snowpocalypse" (as Oliver Willis calls it). Pics to follow!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Season's Beatings

Good day, darlings. If you're even semi-conscious you are aware that yet another Storm of the Century is pounding the East Coast. DC is of course shut down, although to be fair, 20 inches does get in the way of business. Here in Boston we are awaiting about 12 inches, which is a lot but not truly newsworthy. As Jack Palance once said so beautifully, "I sh*t bigger than that."

On the plus side, Grandma Haggis did manage to get out of DC ahead of the storm and arrive this morning, so Bambina is very happy. On the Scottish side, in my mother's true style, she sat down at my breakfast table and said just sweet as pie, "What possessed you to get such a short haircut?" So delicately put, as always.

Allow me to fill you in on my most recent haircut. The one that prompted my child to say "Mama now has Dada hair!" The one that could not have come at a worse time for me, being that my face alone weighs 14 pounds from prednisone. The one that coincided with me feeling the most acute depression about perhaps never getting off prednisone and being giantly fat and disfigured, not to mention immune-suppressed--for the rest of my natural life. I mean, it was a seriously bad time for me to walk into my usual salon, to my usual person, and say, "give me the usual!" without then actually describing what that meant. 45 minutes later and I'm looking at a buzz cut. At first I thought it had just been styled differently, but when I got home I could no longer avoid the truth: bitch had shaved my head.

So: couldn't have happened at a worse time emotionally and psychologically. But then again, as I selected which hats I would be wearing when in the presence of other humans for the next two months, I wondered if perhaps it hadn't happened at the perfect time after all. Because in all honesty, sometimes we need a little reminder that all the stuff we think is important: our appearance, our hair, our ass size, our face size--really actually truly isn't. I can sit around and cry about my mortifying haircut, or I can say, "Fuck it! It's just hair--and hair grows." I can bemoan my huge ass, or I can--as the beautiful and sweet and darling BBDD advised and insisted--just go buy bigger pants. I can get all worked up about all the stuff that sometimes feels like it matters so much, or I can realize that doing so will only take me away from all the stuff that actually does matter: helping out at my kid's school, seeing my friends, hanging out with family, getting our home ready for Baby Sister. That's the stuff that matters, that's the place my head should be, and it wasn't. So--if it took a bad haircut to strip me of my pretensions and get me back on track--then maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all.

That said, bitch still shaved my head, and if I ever figure out which car is hers, it's gettin' a keying.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Link a Dink a Doo

This first one is amazing. It's a Family Portrait of all 56 ethnic groups in China. When people think "Chinese" they often have a very specific image in mind of what that looks like. It has bugged me in the past, especially when people have asked about Bambina, "Are you sure she's Chinese?" Um, hello. She was born in China. She's Chinese. Just like you were born in the USA; you're American, right? This album beautifully demonstrates the wonderful diversity of the Chinese people...beyond the stereotypes.

Next, please enjoy Glenn Beck as he defends the Three-Fifths Compromise. You recall the 3/5 Compromise: the one that said Black people were not full humans? Why is this man on TV?

The ten most irritating people of 2009 (Canadian Version).

More to come!


Today began like any other, with Bambina dropping some knowledge on us at the breakfast table. She informed us that her foot (just yesterday released from its cast after a month after an unfortunate fall on the school playground) would be "somewhat weak for 11 or 9 or at the very least 3 days." Cool. Then she proceeded with her "Raise Your Hand If..." game. You're not familiar with the game? Allow me to explain just in case you happen to drop by some day. Bambina yells, "Raise your hand if... [insert situation here, like "your birthday is in May!"]." Those at the table who qualify then raise their hands. It sounds simple, but it's not; because, really, who's to say that I am or am not "a slice of bacon" or "a bagel," born in the month of May, right? It just gets sillier and sillier by the minute, but she loves it and so we comply. Until today, when she said, "Raise your hand if you like to shake your booty!" Our hands went up. Followed immediately by, "Raise your hand if you like to shake your vagina!" BBDD's hand goes down waaaay fast. My hand goes to my face to hide my laughter. After which I wonder aloud whether perhaps we could just include the vagina shaking in with the booty shaking, since it's all kind of nether-regiony after all, isn't it? After a period of review and consideration, Bambina mercifully assented to combining the shakes so that "booty" shaking would now refer to anything in that whole "bummy area" that shakes while you are dancing. Smart girl. Relieved father. Another regular morning in our house.

So then off to acupuncture I went. I have no real knowledge of acupuncture, no real sense of what it is, but my sister does it and has found it to be helpful, and quite frankly y'all, I am as fat and insomniac and ridiculous as I can get with all this prednisone so I'm pretty much ready to try anything. I did it through Dana Farber's Zakim Center just to be safe, in terms of my doctor knowing what I'm up to and seeing practitioners who understand the unique needs of immune-concerned patients. I wish I could say that I experienced profound relaxation and tranquility as a result, but mostly what I experienced was the realization that I am almost genetically unable to sit for 5 minutes and do nothing. I got the needles in various places (none of which hurt at all, I might add), then the doctor left the room for 30 minutes during which I was to relax on the bed while the pan flute music played or whatnot. Can I tell you how hard it was for me to just lie there? The only reason I didn't get up and get my cell phone or laptop was because I would dislodge some of the needles if I moved and then how would I explain that to the doc, right? "Oh, thanks for my wellness acupuncture here to promote healing and relaxation and rest--I just thought I'd pay some bills and download some online grocery coupons while I waited..." That would be embarrassing even for me. So I didn't. I just...laid there. For 30 loooong minutes. Looking at the ceiling. Counting the needles (14). Checking my watch. Checking my watch again. Noting that 3 minutes feels longer than one might think. Wondering if the doctor might come early. Reflecting on how ludicrous and borderline unacceptable it was that I was lying on a bed doing NOTHING at 10 o'clock on a weekday morning when real people were at their jobs doing productive things. People like the doctor. Who might come back early, right? I mean, it's been 18 minutes. I bet he'll come soon. Yeah, he'll be back any minute. Just a few more minutes till I'm done...

All in all, I liked the practitioner, I liked the thought that this might be of some help, and I liked learning more about it; so I made some more appointments. My plan for next time, however? A 30 minute solo game of "Raise Your Hand If...!"

The Sing-Off

Friends, please allow me to introduce you to the Total Effing Scene that is TV's new show: The Sing-Off. If ever there were an indication that there is something on the telly for everyone, this show is it. If you are unaware, the show--hosted by the lamentable former boy-bander Nick Lachey--features---wait for it!--a cappella groups vying to be America's Top A Cappella Group. Because, you know, what this country needs right now is the joy of crowning our Top A Cappella Group to make it morning in America again. Nothing like a cappella music to bring us together as a nation.


What can I say? I missed the boat on a cappella groups. Never got the attraction, never understood the appeal. My college had several a cappella groups and each was more ridiculous than the last. The all- (white) boy one did a version of Seal's "Crazy" that truly truly would have made Mr. Heidi Klum weep with grief at what had been done to his music. But it seemed like I was living in a parallel universe where mediocre soulless music was considered "awesome!" and its purveyors rock stars, perhaps because my college was 98% upper-middle class white kids who wouldn't have recognized soul if it came up to them sporting a soul patch, eating soul food, and looking soulfully like Isaac Hayes impersonating Al Green on a soul high.

And now comes a TV show dedicated to disseminating and, dare I say, legitimizing this god-awful performance "art." To be fair, some of the singers are very good. Technically, they are fine singers. But together, in these groups, I find them to be just this side of unbearable to watch. So much finger snapping and pageanty smiling and cruise-ship emoting that you simply cannot find it in your heart or mind to believe their song. One group had to sing Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. Say what you will about Michael Jackson, but that song was a goosebump song. MJ nailed that song--and the goosebumps. This group? Good singing, no goosebumps. Why? I argue because--by definition--an a cappella group cannot give you goosebumps. There is something about the group arrangement, the need to finger-snap, the urge to be as earnest as possible in every performance, that completely sucks the meaning and intent out of any song sung.

I know I'll get hate mail. I anticipate and kind of secretly enjoy it, because I know that in besmirching the good name of a cappella groups I have hit on the third rail of a certain strata of white upper middle classdom: "but my son was in the Whiffenpuffers from Colby College! But my daughter was the lead singer in the Hootnannies from Skidmore! How dare you insult performers like my son who sang admirably for the Prick-i-Tones of The Claremont Colleges!" I hear you. I'm sure your kid was awesome. I'm talking about those other kids; I swear. So do watch the show on NBC and let me know who wins, because I can't do one more night, not even for this blog.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! For a Jewish kid, that is. Bambina is INSANE about Hanukkah, which is right on time seeing as she's five. It's wonderful to see her so excited to light the menorahs (we have 6 because I'm a light-up-the-darkness kind of girl) and to open her presents. The primary issue, as I suspect is the same for Christmas-celebrators, is allowing that joy about presents to be expressed without having it become the sole reason for the holiday. We had a few moments of joy-reducing drama the first night of Chanukah because she had no sooner opened her gifts, got giddy about them and played with them for 10 minutes, when she said, "I can't wait to see what I get tomorrow night!" Well, that didn't sit well with me one bit. Which I of course expressed to her in rather stern terms involving (perhaps unnecessary and as I reflect, overwhelming) sentiments like, "Ingratitude" and "Selfishness." Calm down, Mama. Settle down! So what I ended up saying after being ridiculously mad was, "When someone gives you a gift, you are to be thankful for it, and I know you are. But when you immediately start to talk about the next gift, it makes it seem like you don't really care about the gift you just got, and it can make you seem like someone who just cares about presents."

Well, duh. She's five. She just cares about presents. But you know what I'm saying. I'm trying to raise a human here, and that means she needs to learn things that can only be taught when she's still too young to understand them. So now we're practicing our "gift-receiving actions." Look at the gift, be excited (no acting necessary here), look at the person who gave it to you, tell them you love it, say thank you, hugs and kisses if appropriate, no discussion of tomorrow's gifts until tomorrow. In doing this exercise, I realized that kids really don't have this stuff innately, no matter how sweet they are; it simply has to be taught. A kid is all about the Id, right? Which is why grown-ups have to channel those impulses into socially-acceptable behavior.

So as mad as I was at Bambina, I realize now that she was just being five rather than demonstrating some profound failure in my parenting to date. I mean, now that I think about it, I turned out fine and I was as ungrateful as they came: my Mom had to rip up a thank-you letter I once wrote (at 5 or 6) because I ended the beautifully-written paean to the gift-giver with "Please give me more presents!"

Nice kid you have there, Mrs. Haggis.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Like You're Working Anyway...

Some links!

First, a WaPo article on how Jesse Jackson is pissed that he wasn't invited to the White House jobs summit and that Obama isn't doing more to address the recession's impact on African-American communities. Oh yes, that is political success in the making there; having our first black president focus his attention solely on black neighborhoods. THIS is why Jesse Jackson never got elected to anything: old school thinking. Your run for President of the United States, not of your ethnic group. This guy just keeps bringing The Stupid. That's all I can say. washingtonpost.coms

Next, seven foods experts will not eat. The major gross-out for me is what they feed farmed salmon. "hydrolized chicken feathers," anyone?

Next, I'm saying that if this is your friends' idea of a "drunken prank" then you need some new friends:

Next, a funny article proposing that we consign the word "douchebag" to history. Those of you over the age of say, 60, who cannot envision a scenario in which you'd utter that word can skip this one if you'd like.

And finally, speaking of douchebags, I mean, "assclowns," here's a list of GOP members who currently receive Medicare but who oppose the public option for the rest of us. I loves me some hypocrisy on a Friday morning!

Premature Award, Right On Time Speech

President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday. The Haggis was on hiatus when the award announcement--and resulting controversy--erupted. So let's discuss that first. Did Obama deserve the award? I'm going to say no. But, as the President of the United States, was he at all at liberty to turn it down? Also no. To a certain extent the controversy was nonsense. People were acting like Barry had submitted his own name and lobbied for the prize. They were acting like he'd been named to some international list of evil miscreants, the way the tsk-tsking was going on, instead of saying, "Well how about that," and "Good for the USA to have our president win this award; not that we'd have awarded it ourselves." All from the America-haters on the Right. It reminded me of their glee when Chicago lost its bid for the Olympics. Rather than be bummed for America, for the lost revenue and honor of hosting the Olympics, they were almost delighted that Obama "failed" in his attempt. Like, screw America as long as we can score some cheap points against Obama. All very petty and unbecoming. As was the Nobel reaction. That said, I remember thinking at the time that the Norwegians did Obama no favors with this "honor."

So, to his speech yesterday. First he deftly and humorously addressed the issue of his meriting the award: "I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations -- that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice. And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. (Laughter.) In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who've received this prize -- Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela -- my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women -- some known, some obscure to all but those they help -- to be far more deserving of this honor than I."

Then to the Money Quote, the "just war" section that is now being called The Obama Doctrine:
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King Jr. said in this same ceremony years ago: "Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King's life work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there's nothing weak -- nothing passive -- nothing na├»ve -- in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King. But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason. I raise this point, I begin with this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter what the cause. And at times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world's sole military superpower....Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans.”

My favorite part is at the end:
Somewhere today, in the here and now, in the world as it is, a soldier sees he's outgunned, but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, scrapes together what few coins she has to send that child to school -- because she believes that a cruel world still has a place for that child's dreams.
Let us live by their example.

Here is the full text:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hanukkah Music

Bambina and I are committed to coming up with some cool songs for Hanukkah. She would like one "as good as Let it Snow." So we're working on it. In the meantime, here is a cool one, all the way from Jerusalem, to the tune of "Hey Ya." My favorite line? "Oy is just Yo backwards."

In other, equally-exciting Judaic news, Orrin Hatch has just penned a Hanukkah song! I do not kid you on this. Enjoy, via Oliver Willis: The only thing that would make it better would be Orrin singing it himself.

This and That

First up, a Pew poll that shows more people believe in guardian angels than in humans' role in global warming: Awesome.

Next, a list of the Top Ten Video Games to Cross Off Your Kids' Christmas List. It's got the details on the games and various statements of outrage. But here's my thought: if it's rated M for Mature, might that be a parent's clue? Just wonderin'.

Next, my new favorite site on the web: What with our one income and our now twice-paid-for deck out back (oh, the story of the drunken contractor will be coming soon), funds have been in short supply at Chez Haggis. So I've been doing my best to find ways to save and ways to earn. One involves selling our stuff on craigslist and ebay. I just unloaded a giant buffet that fit in our DC rowhouse but was enormous in our little cottage here. Eight-five bucks cash, the BBDD helped the guy put it in his SUV, goodbye giant white elephant. Then I used that money to buy end tables plus gave the BBDD $15 for pocket money. Cost-neutral home improvement, baby! I got such a rush from getting rid of this giant piece of furniture that has been plaguing me since we moved in AND getting money to get cute little end tables in the bargain, that I started looking around the house for other stuff we could sell. The BBDD was dubious--and slightly concerned--since he is pretty sure we need everything we've got at this point. And we probably do. But the second something seems even remotely ancillary to our purposes? It's on the market.

So this site, Hey It's Free, is right up my alley. Free samples galore, coupons, rebates, you name it. I simply use an alias name for the mailable stuff and use my hotmail account for the online stuff and it never gets mixed in with my real life. I've had free samples of cereal bars, perfume, coffee, dental floss. All free. The reason I love this site in particular is that the site owner vets the offers for you, so they are not bait and switch or scams.

And finally, for those of you unaware of the trashiest show on TV, it is called "Jersey Shore." It's an MTV reality show about, well, the Jersey Shore. It has been slammed by Italian-American groups for it's unflattering and stereotypical portrayal of Italian-Americans. I think, however, it is not about Italian-Americans at all. It's about THE JERSEY SHORE. Much the same as the New York/Long Island loudmouth = Jewish canard, I reject the notion that Italian-Americans from the Shore behaving badly at all reflect the reality of Italian-Americans who live elsewhere. They simply reflect the reality of that region, whatever your ethnicity. My two cents. So--in the spirit of the show, this guy has created a Jersey Shore name generator. Mine: "The Position." Fist Pump!!

Bambina's Baby Sister

So we are well underway in getting to Baby Sister and bringing her home. We got the LOA (Letter of Acceptance) from China last week, and it has been a total sprint since then. "Please return this letter by December 7th." Which meant pulling together a ream of documentation, filling in several new forms, making three copies of the entire packet and fedexing it--by the next morning. No pressure. I have spent more time than I can calculate at a) my desk, pulling all our documents and compiling new ones; b) Staples, copying and faxing said documents; and c) Fedex, shipping said documents. Literally entire mornings have disappeared doing those three things. I recognize that (as I like to say) it "beats an episiotomy," (and it does). But there is an exquisite and unbearable pressure involved in the knowledge that if you fill in one thing on these forms wrong it can mean several more months before you can meet your child and bring her home, which at this point is too much for me to even contemplate. We are also up against the Chinese Lunar New Year clock, which begins on February 14th. New Year is possibly the most important holiday in China, meaning that all government offices and, really, everything closes for two weeks. Almost everyone in China is traveling to get home, which means (as our agency put it) 117,000 people in line for tickets--and that is just the Guangzhou train station. So, if we don't get the paperwork processed and get in to China before late January, we are not going until late February. I know: a month, a month, only a month. But when you've seen her photo--and she is already one year old, you just really want every other month of her life to be with you from now on. So let's pray to the Homeland Security gods that they will turn our paperwork around and get us into--and out of--China ASAP.

From my blog to God's ears?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Keep the Santa in Christmas!

This is less of a post and more a request for advice. As my Dad used to say, "The Christmas season is once again at our throats." It's a holly, jolly time that we actually do enjoy even if we don't celebrate it ourselves. Bambina loves visiting her Christian friends' houses so she can see the trees and the lights. She has started a nutcracker collection. So we're down with celebrating the joy with our friends who celebrate. But here's the dilemma:

How do I explain to Bambina that Santa does not come to our house because---well, Santa is imaginary--without ruining it for her Santa-loving friends? I told her that we don't believe in Santa. But I can't and won't tell her that Santa is real, because a) he's not and b) then why would we not allow him to come to our house and spread joy? So I told her that her friends who believe in Santa really deserve to have a fun Christmas and it's not for us to tell them otherwise. But then I sound like I'm saying her friends are stupid or something, like, "Oh they believe in Santa, but we know better, don't we?" Which I don't want to do either. So what do we do? If we did celebrate Christmas, the Santa thing would have been over by now because Bambina is too aware of her surroundings to go with that myth. She just BARELY still believes in the tooth fairy, on the theory that no fairy in its right mind wants some kid's nasty teeth...and besides, where do they keep them all and what do they do with them? So we'd have a similar issue with "the magic of Santa" even if we weren't Jewish because she would totally pick apart the entire story, like, Okay fat man is not fitting in our chimney, and why doesn't he just knock, and how come I give the list to you if he's the present man? And how do the reindeer fly?

You want someone present at a police interrogation to pick apart the logic of an alibi? Bambina is your girl. You want a lawyer in the courtroom who can decimate a witness with a well-crafted logically-sound takedown? Bambina is your girl. You want her to believe that a chubby dude in red drops gifts down a chimney? She's seeing holes in that story from word one. [This is why I am so tired all the time, btw].

So--let me hear your comments and advice. Soon. Before Bambina begins The Great Santa Unraveling for her kindergarten class.

Gimme a K! Gimme an E! Gimme an N!...

It's Election Day here in Massachusetts; the special election to fill the seat of the recently-passed Ted Kennedy. Friends, a senatorial election without a Kennedy on the ballot? Me. Not. Understand. What. Box. To. Check? Me frightened and confused!

So, I voted for Martha Coakley. She's worked her butt off for MA for years, she's a woman (yeah, I said it!), and I think she has a chance of winning. I also liked Alan Khazei, but I just didn't see the numbers adding up for him in the end. So I went for Coakley. I mean, let's be honest here folks, it's not like any of the candidates were really different. This is Massachusetts. I've given up trying to find a pro-death penalty candidate I can agree with on 99% of the other issues. Can't be done. So I take the pinko with the liberal and consider my work here done. :) I know there is a Republican candidate but who knows what his name is. And I'm sure he's (and I'm sure he's a he) against the public option, which is a deal breaker for me.

So let's see how it shakes out. In any case, I'm missing Ted Kennedy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

War is Hell

Of all the times I've wanted to be Barack Obama's girlfriend, mini-me or clone, this week would not be one of them.

Let's discuss Afghanistan, and let's be honest: there is no way to a clear victory in that country. Old Man McCain offered his supremely helpful input that 'success is the real exit strategy." Thanks, Uncle Cranky Pants, but what the hell does that MEAN? How many American lives to achieve "success"? And what is your definition of success? Some have said it would be a return to conditions pre-Soviet involvement. Um, that was decades ago--and predating the Taleban and al-Qaeda. So I'm going to say that's well-nigh impossible in this post-9/11 era. Others say that success means getting out right now before that con man Karzai can swindle us out of one more US dollar. Also moronic. Others have ignored success metrics and instead slammed Obama's speech, counting the number of times he used the word "I" (44) and the word "victory" (0). Most moronic of all. First of all, counting the number of "I's" in a speech and equating them to narcissism is juvenile. (I am so awesome vs. I am delighted to honor these Special Olympians today = same number of "I's" = vastly different speech). Secondly, no president in his right mind is going to go on record promising, vowing or claiming "victory" in fucking AFGHANISTAN. You're familiar with Afghanistan? Warlords. Tribes. A constant state of civil war since the 1970's. Bordered by Pakistan (the real place we need to clean up, but--again--how the hell do you do that?), China, Turkmenistan, et. al. A country in which the West has meddled and fiddled since the 19th century. This is not a country that lends itself to "victory" in a way that Americans like to see it, with ticker tape parades and hot GIs kissing sassy dames at train stations. Afghanistan is work--and plenty of it. So you'll forgive me for being glad Obama didn't don a flight suit and declare mission accomplished to appease the Cheneyites of America.

My personal opinion is that Obama's plan has pissed off enough people on both sides that it is probably somewhat the way to go. When Michael Moore and Bill Ayers essentially disown you for becoming a "war president?" You're probably doing something right. When Robert Kagan, himself no stranger to cheerleading surges, says that Obama's decision is a lonely one, and one that he (Kagan) would not know how to make? You know you're probably doing something right.

Tiger is a Dog

I know it's annoying to talk about a golfer making the seksi time with women not his wife. But, let's do it anyway, shall we?!

Okay, let's don't. But do enjoy the Woods Family Christmas card.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Check Back Tonight!

Oh, there will be blogging.

Obama's speech about Afghanistan.
Obama's plan for Afghanistan.
John McCain's nonsense metrics for Afghanistan.
Tiger Woods.