Monday, April 12, 2010

A New Era

Hi All. As my life has progressed, The Haggis has felt more and more like something from my past. It was such a wonderful outlet for writing, for meeting you, for hearing your comments, and for connecting with so many wonderful people. I thank you for all of your support over the past six years (yes! six years!) and invite you to follow more personal than political events at

Thanks again for all the love and support!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Thanks For Your Time

Friends, the bad news is that blogging has been and will be infrequent.

The good news is that it's because we received our travel authorization for China to bring home Baby Sister. We've had her photo since October, and every day since then has been exquisite torture waiting for the go-ahead. So now that we have it, we have 2 1/2 weeks to get ready for wheels up to China. Woo Hoo!

Which means that I'm using every spare moment to pack, plan and purchase, not to mention prepare Bambina for what lies ahead. She' s very excited to be a big sister in theory, but in practice it is and will be a major adjustment for her. Just last night we received a new pic of Baby Sister. I said, "Wow. We have two beautiful girls in our family!" Her reply? "Um, Mama? I think every family should have one kid who is the cutest, and I feel strongly that it should be me." She then suggested that Baby Sister could perhaps hold the top spot for "smallest" or "slowest." Nice.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I just read this in the latest issue of The Sun magazine, and it absolutely floored me--as I wait impatiently for my daughter, for my health to improve so I can get off my horrible meds, for the planets to align in whatever way I've convinced myself they must align this day. Enjoy.

Because Even The Word Obstacle Is An Obstacle

Try to love everything that gets in your way;
The Chinese women in flowered bathing caps
murmuring together in Mandarin and doing leg exercises in your lane
while you execute thirty-six furious laps,
one for every item on your to-do list.
The heavy-bellied man who goes thrashing through the water
like a horse with a harpoon stuck in its side and
whose breathless tsunamis rock you from your course.
Teachers all. Learn to be small
and swim past obstacles like a minnow,
without grudges or memory. Dart
toward your goal, sperm to egg. Thinking, Obstacle,
is another obstacle. Try to love the teenage girl
lounging against the ladder, showing off her new tattoo:
Cette vie est la mienne, This life is mine,
in thick blue-black letters on her ivory instep.
Be glad she'll have that to look at the rest of her life, and
keep going. Swim by an uncle
in the lane next to yours who is teaching his nephew
how to hold his breath underwater,
even though kids aren't supposed
to be in the pool at this hour. Someday,
years from now, this boy
who is kicking and flailing in the exact place
you want to touch and turn
may be a young man at a wedding on a boat,
raising his champagne glass in a toast
when a huge wave hits, washing everyone overboard.
He'll come up coughing and spitting like he is now,
but he'll come up like a cork,
alive. So your moment
of impatience must bow in service to the larger story,
because if something is in your way, it is
going your way, the way
of all beings: toward darkness, toward light.

- Allison Luterman

A Few More Photos

Bambina rocking the Irish Step Dancing.

The view while I waited at the airport for Grandma and Big Cousin's arrival

The happiest cousins on the block. Bambina was thrilled to have her cousin pick her up at school and meet her friends.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Let Me Tell You About My Slow Cooker

Perhaps completing my descent into full-on suburban housewife-itude, I have purchased a slow cooker. At Walmart.

Friends, the slow cooker has changed my life, and let me tell you why. First, I am the crappiest cook you have ever met. No, really. You think that other lady was? Or your old girlfriend? Or your current wife? Or your mother? Or your father? No, dear. It's me. I just don't have the burn for it. I mean, I go through phases where I think, "I'm going to take cooking classes!" because I want to be a good wife to my husband who works all day, and this is how I will contribute to the household and blah blah. And then I start to cook something and I'm like, "Why do I have to fucking 'julienne' or 'dice' this? I don't have time for this! How about I just chop it up and throw it in, for god's sake?!" And then we end up eating some dish containing giant onion chunks where there should have been a soupcon of onion essence gliding across the palate. And then I've got to be standing there at the stove managing the different ingredients, like, "oh! It's time to add the adobo paste! Where is the damn adobo paste? Oh, I don't have adobo paste. Does paprika work? Yeah, paprika. Oh no, the onions are burning rather than caramelizing because I went to look for adobo paste!" It's pure hell--for me and for the folks who need to eat paprika-flavored chili.

Enter the slow cooker. Enter the million websites with slow cooker recipes, all of which involve about 4 steps: maybe brown the meat, maybe not. Chop the vegetables. Add the spices. Cook on high for 6 hours. I simply cannot ruin a dinner cooked in the slow cooker. And can we discuss the reduction in grocery bills as a result? Cheap cuts of meat, quality veggies, quality spices...and leftovers, baby!

The good people at Hamilton Beach have been reading my diary, because this is a straight-up dream come true. I just made the Obama Family Chili for a friend who just had a baby and needs some help. Took me 15 minutes. See? The slow cooker contributing to tikkun olam. Ordinarily, I would shy away from being a meals-on-wheels mitzvah girl simply because I hate to further burden already-afflicted individuals with my nasty-ass cooking. But this time? Kid-friendly chili for four delivered to your door! And the extra? MY child ate it. Liked it. (Note: the key to this chili is the mildness, more turmeric and oregano than chili powder, served over rice. Very Hawaiian/Indonesian influence. Parents can add the spice to their bowls, the kids devour the chili out of the pot because it's a flavorful, accessible, and healthy sloppy joe-seeming meal.) Bisous to Michelle Obama for this one.

Today is busy, what with the visitors arriving. So tonight is going to be a soup from this amazing blog, recommended by my girl VC: And I shall spend precisely 10 minutes putting it together, thank you.

I don't know why I waited so long to get a crockpot, y'all. Oh wait, I do. Because I am an elitist snob who thought they were only for people who liked to cook "meals" with campbell's cream of mushroom soup and velveeta. Well, you all have the last laugh now. I honor you, crockpot women of America.

Friday Linky Fun

Grandma Haggis and Bambina's cousin are arriving today for the weekend, so things will be (even) slower than usual around the blog today. They are escaping the DC Snowpocalypse by perhaps an hour, so we'll see how long they are residing with us should the DC airports not reopen on Sunday. In any event, we're happy to accommodate them here in Massachusetts where we not only love wealthy pickup truck driving Republicans, but we know how to plow a damn street. Wilkommen, poor wretched DC castoffs!

First up: a shocking and racist indictment of my home country. This notion that Scottish people drink too much! Lies! All lies, I tell you! Oh yeah, the reference to "depressed industrial area Strathclyde"? My home county. Boo-ya!

Next, Bambina rejoices! Having cured cancer, we have now redesigned the ketchup packet to allow for dunking!

In the "What an asshole!" category, here is Republican Senator Shelby from Louisiana placing a blanket hold on ALL Obama nominees until his state gets its two pet billion-dollar projects back. THAT is some seriously awesome fiscal restraint right there.

And, finally, a plea. Can we all just stop using the word "retarded" already? First, because it is unnecessary, inappropriate and undeniably cruel. I remember "retarded" kids being teased at school and I remember just having my heart break for them. It's the worst kind of grade school insult--and can we all agree we're above that? Second, let's ban it because I want Sarah Palin to go away. Every time someone (I'm looking at you, Rahm Emanuel, you no-class boor--but apparently not you, Rush Limbaugh because you run the conservative movement and Caribou Barbie dare not cross you) says "retarded" to mean stupid, it gives Palin another reason to be in the news cycle. So--do we have a deal? Morons are morons. Losers are losers. Dimwits are dimwits. Let's let the word "retarded" fade into oblivion, and with it, Sarah Palin.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The Party of Obstruction

If there's any question that the Congressional GOP has zero interest in working in a bipartisan fashion, allow their own words to settle it for you:

Seriously, folks. Obstruction is not a long-term winning strategy, regardless of how tingly it may make Mitch McConnell feel. I look forward to some reality-based GOP proposals to go along with their opposition. Dare I hold my breath?


Just in case you support the new GOP purity test for candidates, please know that Ronald Reagan failed it:

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


That's the shills at Breitbart dinging Secretary of State Clinton for not immediately defending the Christian church group that got caught busing Haitian kids into the Dominican Republic.


I could go on and on about the reams of effing paperwork I have filled out to adopt my daughters, the invasive and unbelievable questions I have answered, the permission (and fees) I have given to have every square inch of my life's history investigated for even a whiff of wrongdoing--all to ensure that I am not a child abuser or a child trafficker. And yes, I complain about the process, but hear me now and believe me later, it SHOULD be hard to adopt a child. It SHOULD be a process that makes you sometimes wonder if you have the stones for it. It SHOULD be a series of events that cause attrition. If it was as easy as busing a bunch of kids into a neighboring country, we'd all be doing it--and that is unconscionable from the perspective of child safety.

I deplore the "good Christians" who were--let's call it what it is--kidnapping Haitian kids. Stunts like this are part of the reason the Hague had to institute the regulations it instituted. Yes, the pedophiles and the traffickers. But also the "well-meaning" people who treat children as charity cases, as nothing more than a means to the Lord's ends, rather than as human beings who exist separate from whatever desires and motives their "helpers" might have. On what planet do you round up a bunch of kids you don't know anything about (including the fact that a couple of them actually did have family from whom they were separated) and just summarily transport them to a foreign country simply because you have a need to "help" them? It is absolutely unconscionable--and completely un-Christian. Do you disagree? Then imagine a disaster like Katrina in your neighborhood. You're separated from your kids, maybe you don't know if each other is alive or dead. Then imagine some church group from Mexico or Canada simply picking your kid up and transporting them internationally--because they want to help. Less altruistic-seeming now, isn't it?

I wish no harm upon these people, but I do hope that they will stop saying that they should be excused simply because they were trying to help. You kidnapped children. For whatever reason; you kidnapped children.

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Obama Train Rolls On

Such a short post this will be. How FABULOUS was today's Q&A between President Obama and the GOP? As I said elsewhere, the President absolutely cleaned their clocks while the cameras rolled. There are already mumblings among GOPers that it should never have been allowed. But you KNOW they thought they were going to catch the President on something, thereby creating a 10 day vicious news cycle to feed off the nasty politics of the moment. Instead, they got a President who dismantled every single one of their specious arguments, and a President who was not afraid of them. As someone else, a Republican said to me, "Why they thought they'd win an debate with a gifted lawyer is beyond me..." Of course, now the GOP is saying the President "lectured" them. Which is it, guys? You invited him to a gotcha and you won? Or you invited him to a gotcha and he "lectured" you? Either way, you lost.

Thank you, Gods of Television! And thank you, GOP. Please keep bringing "Teh Stupid" and perhaps Obama will keep bringing "Teh Smackdown."

Here's some video:

Dance Fever

I don't know what this says about me as a parent, but my child has officially written her second ever song. The first was created when she was about 4, and it was called "Coconuts Tonight." It involved her sitting at the keyboard and jubilantly hammering the keys while singing at top volume, "Coconuts tonight! Coconuts tonight!!" Real ASCAP material, folks.

Well, her "second official song, Mama, and I want to put the 'tm' after it so no one else can steal it" is entitled--wait for it--"Dance With the Boobies and Bra." Oh dear lord. Because she is serious. She wrote the music and lyrics all by herself and she wants it registered "with the TM." I have been living in fear since she wrote it that she will bust out with this totally inappropriate song simply because she is so damn proud of herself. I swear to god, dear reader(s), that I do not say "boobies" to her, nor do I encourage her to pen melodies encouraging people to get on up and dance with them. It's a mystery. But the worst part is that the melody is actually rather catchy, as are the "lyrics" which I share with you below as long as you promise not to steal them:

Oh, dance with the boobies and bra
Just dance with the boobies and bra
Dance with the boobies and bra
Just dance with the boobies and bra
You can dance with the boobies
You can dance with a bra
Or you can boogie down with them both!

I'd write more, but I'm now off to boogie down with them both.

Friday Freaks

FINALLY posting this after being shut out of blogger all day. GRRRR...

I don't get out much, friends. But when I do I seem to find the freaks.

The other night I went to a Suzuki violin school parent orientation. The man leading the meeting had a big ol' Tom Selleck moustache. So let's just start there for Glamour Don'ts. He shakes my hand, and only then does it become clear to me that he is so sick with a head cold that he really should have begged off the meeting and sent a colleague. So I'm immediately grossed out that I've touched him. He then proceeds to conduct the meeting while doing that sniff/snort/booger thing that people with bad colds do in order to breathe and talk. So I'm listening while trying to block out the boogsnarf noise when I notice that he has snot coming out of his nose, only because it's landing on--and sliding down--his prodigious pornstache, he is blissfully unaware of the situation. At this point I can barely contain my gag reflex and I am mentally devising an escape route, but there IS no escape route. I'm stuck. He yammers on for AN HOUR about Suzuki piano and his kids and how he teaches his students and the beauty and mystery of Dr. Suzuki, which of course is meaningless to me, and then asks finally, "So, any questions?" Um, yeah: Pretty much all of the questions I was told this session would answer! So the final result was that I spent an hour watching gelatinous snot drip from a drip, learned zip...and thought "Oh sh*t!" when I found out the tuition chit. So, the bad news is that there will be no Suzuki lessons for Bambina, the good news is that when we pay off our house and cars in 20 years and can pay for lessons, I won't have to go back to the orientation. Freak.

Then I'm at a mother-daughter event where there are a couple of other families with kids adopted internationally. Now, contrary to popular practice, I don't rush over to such families any more than I'd rush over to any other group of strangers. Mostly because, well, that's weird, "Hey! Your kid is Chinese! So is mine! Wanna be friends?!" Weird. Second, my child hates being singled out for being different from me, so I make a real effort to not visit that upon someone else's kid. But there's always someone who does. One lady, who adopted her daughters from Cambodia, said loudly in a group of other moms to whom I'd been chatting, "I notice that you have a beautiful Asian daughter too. Were is she from?" China. "Oh mine are from Cambodia. Can you believe how ridiculous the process is? Oh my god!.." And then proceeds to complain about the wait, the paperwork, the drama. I did offer that our process has been a little bit long, but not because of China entirely, that a lot of the holdup has been on the US side and that I'm sure the processes were completely different since they are different countries. But I was just so very uncomfortable with her airing her issues with the process in front of total strangers (including me). I mean, this is how you became your children's mother. What are you saying? I never want my kids to think that the process of becoming their mother made me angry or bitter or pissed in any way. What does that communicate to your child about her if you do? So I spent the next 45 minutes trying to change the subject, to get her to say something positive, and to pretty much stop including me in a discussion of which I wanted no part. Freak.

Then I'm at Whole Foods (yeah, I know I'm on record as despising Whole Paycheck, but they are the only place that carries Culturelle--and girlfriend needs her daily triple dose of intestinal flora since last month's unfortunate Stomach Virus Incident), and I go to the Express Lane, where there is a lovely senior citizen manning the checkout. He's darling, but he is S-L-O-W. I literally have ONE item. One. With a coupon. Well, now it's drama because he can't get the scanner to read the printed barcode. "Is this coupon off the computer?" Yes. (Because who buys a Sunday paper anymore?) "I can't scan it." Why? "It won't scan." Can you try the handheld scanner? "That won't work." Can you try it? Meanwhile he's trying to read the fine print on the coupon, for what reason I know not. Finally another worker comes over to bag and sees the line getting longer and longer, so she grabs the handheld and--voila!--coupon scans (of course). Best part? As I leave, he is STILL reading the coupon! Freak.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hold the Phones!

Many of you will have seen the news about ACORN-exposer James O'Keefe and three friends being arrested for trying to tamper with Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu's phone system. msnbc

I find the Right's response to this felony to be telling. 1. It was a prank! Not a crime! 2. Michael Moore does this all the time and the Left cheers! 3. The liberal media is making more out of this than it is! 4. If they shouldn't have been there then security shouldn't have let them in.

Where do I even begin?! Let's start with the obvious:

If these were four unemployed men of middle-eastern descent committing a "prank" rather than some conservative rich kids (one of whose father is the acting US attorney in Western LA), how would Fox News be reacting?

Tampering with a Senator's phones is illegal. Tampering with MY phone is illegal. If you come to my house under false pretenses to disable my phone--even if it's just some kooky, wacky fun for you--it is still illegal. More so if the phones you are attempting to disable belong to the United States government. At the very least it's criminal trespass.

Michael Moore is one of my least favorite people. I don't watch his stuff if I can help it. But here's the difference: Michael Moore has never committed a felony. He's been an obnoxious pain in the ass and provided some very awkward and uncomfortable moments for people in power (and the viewing audience), but he has never tampered with someone's telephone or impersonated a phone repair person for the purposes of gaining entry to a secure area to embarrass someone. He has always just kind of allowed them to embarrass themselves in the open, without all this college-style dress-up chicanery.

To believe the security excuse, then you'd have to let every terrorist off the hook, since after all it was airport security that let them on the plane, and if they shouldn't have been on the plane then it's not their fault that they got on the plane. Yeah, I don't see anyone at Faux News taking up that opinion.

So let's just call this for what it is. Four guys who take their cues from their days as conservative college newspaper people, who think dressing up and playing pretend "Jackass-style" is the way to speak truth to power. Point being, that mess might work on some college campus but it doesn't really work in the real world. You know, where there are real consequences for your actions. Where committing a felony is a serious offense, even if you did go buy some cool costumes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Oh, it's gonna be a long one, darlings! Barry is BRINGIN' IT tonight. Don't know yet if he'll bring it boring or ugly or inspired, but the word on the street is that he's bringin' SEVENTY DAMN MINUTES of it, baby. Hope you don't need a potty break!

Oh, he's comin' out smiling. And swingin'. Poking fun at the GOP: "Oh, I thought I'd get some applause for that one!"

Awesome proposal: take $30 million that the Wall Street banks pay back and give it to small community banks to loan to small businesses. No GOP applause? Porque? Oh--they don't like that their pals on corporate welfare are being asked to offer restitution to the American taxpayer, which I find interesting seeing as they always go on and on about how great the taxpayers are, and how we are entitled to more of our own money. But why not now? Hmm...

As I'm watching this, I'm realizing that the entire purpose of this speech is to rally the troops. Dems in Congress. Americans on Main Street. The party faithful. Obama needs to re-energize the base, and tonight is his chance to do it, back in campaign style. And this is where political types will see the effect of David Plouffe's return to the fold. Those of you who recall know that David Plouffe was The Architect of Obama's winning campaign; he just returned to the organization last week, and damn if it isn't obvious.

Another question: How is the GOP not applauding for tax cuts!?? They are literally not applauding for one single thing the President says, even if it was to rename our entire country The United States of Reagan. And they'd better be careful with that, because if they overplay their drunk-with-power-Scott-Brown-won hand, they are going to flame out Newt Gingrich-style. How do you NOT clap for new jobs? Tax breaks for US companies who keep jobs in America? That is dickitude in the extreme. You know they are all deathly afraid that their fearless leaders Rush and Glenn will play footage of "the clapping" on a loop to their mindless minions.

Now he's back to health care, and he's playing it for all it's worth. "It's clear I didn't tackle health care because it was good politics..." He "will not walk away from it, and neither should the people in this chamber." "As temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we proposed...but if anyone from either party has a better plan to bring down premiums, cover the uninsured, stop insurance companies from taking away coverage, bring down the deficit, let me see it!...let's get it done." THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. Thank you. For that specifically, but also for frigging talking to me like I'm an adult with a brain.

Now he's smacking the GOP with the facts on the deficit, ie, it was giant. "All this was before I walked in the door. Just stating facts." Again, thank you for pointing out that all these shmos now SOOO VERY concerned with the national debt and the deficit didn't seem so on fire about it under Bush while he was busy not paying for two wars.

Now he's calling out the SCOTUS decision on corporate funding of campaigns. AS the BBDD says, "Man, that's bold! Calling them out while they're sitting right in front of you." Now he's calling for an earmark website to allow everyone to look and see what little treats are being stuck into bills before they're passed.

Oh, now it's ON! He's discussing partisan rancor, calling for an end to the constant daily campaign where the only goal is to get the most embarrassing headline for the other party, where if you lose, I win. Campaigns happen, "but we still need to govern." To the Democrats: "The people expect us to govern, not run for the hills." To the GOP: "Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership."

And we just crossed the 60 minute mark! Dude is punishing them. I'm having a concurrent live status exchange on Facebook. It's so funny. All the Dems are loving it, the 'Pubs are scandalized, calling it 'partisan and hostile." Friends, your party has been nothing but partisan and hostile to this president since he took office. You wield the filibuster like a big stick, stopping the work of the American people in the Senate just because you can. You have obstructed every proposal put forth for no other reason that naked politics. So guess what? He now owes you nothing. Respect is earned and respect is mutual. Put on your big boy underpants and take it like the men (and women) you say you are. And hey--if Obama is full of crap, then no one in America will buy it and you'll be home free regardless.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dirty Bits, Frogicide and--as always--Healthcare

First, an article on the rather disgusting and environmentally-unsafe way in which the majority of the world's shrimp are farmed or harvested. The headline? Make sure you're eating only US-farmed shrimp. You don't want to know why. But if you do, here's the link:'s_dirty_secrets:_why_america's_favorite_seafood_is_a_health_and_environmental_nightmare

Speaking of "disgusting," word on the street is that John Edwards has a sex tape. DO NOT WANT. Oh my god. That would just be the icing on the egotistical, megalomaniacal, amoral a**wipe of the cake that is John Edwards. As my old friend Kim from college would say, "He's got no kind of class." *Shudder*

Then, speaking of wanting to club someone, an article from Australia that nicely illustrates two things: 1. It's important not to import non-native species to your country, and 2. Should you need to annihilate an overgrown population of said non-native species, the government would prefer that you club them to death since that seems more humane than asphyxiation, thank you.

And, finally, speaking of getting clubbed, here is evidence of the absolutely shite job the Dems did of selling the healthcare plan to America: Individual components of the plan are actually very popular.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Facebook Needs Some Deuteronomy

"If there will be a poor man among you... you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand toward your poor brother; you shall open your hand to him and shall give him enough for his needs."

I think I'm going to make that my status update on Facebook in light of the disturbingly frequent status updates recently that go something like this: "America: the only country where we have homeless without shelter, children going to bed without eating, elderly going without needed meds, and mentally ill without treatment - yet we have a benefit for the people of Haiti on 12 TV stations. 99% of people won't have the guts to copy and repost this!!" OR "Where were all the telethons during Katrina?!" Then some shmo will leave a comment to the effect of, "I feel bad for Haiti, but we need to take care of our own first."

Hello? Really? First of all, see "September 2005" for the answer to "where were all the telethons for Katrina," asswipe. They happened; you probably forgot because you didn't give to that effort either. But on a more important point, almost 200,000 humans dead, with scores injured, maimed, homeless and destitute in a truly shocking and devastating disaster--you're tallying whether they're worth help because they're not American? Those are the kind of balls one can only hope God finds a way to cut out from under you.

Furthermore, the people who post these statements also tend to be the very same people who post anti-health care bill updates, or anti-public assistance updates or all manner of "let them eat cake" pontifications. But now that people are sending money to Haiti, all of a sudden they're concerned about America's poor and hungry children being ignored or America's veterans being homeless? You'll pardon me as I stifle my laughter, because that concern is simply not credible.

Here's my take: you help people where they're hurting. Right now Haiti is where they need the most help. Doesn't mean Americans aren't important (good god, no! Americans not important?!), doesn't mean that all the daily challenges facing our nation's citizenry no longer exist. It just means that right now our neighbor's house is on fire and, even though we may not have enough to make the rent on our own house at the moment, we still need to call 911 and go help. Even if we've never met them. Even if they are different from us. Even if we kind of don't feel like it's that big a deal since, after all, our house is still intact. But who sees a woman come out after being buried in a building for 5 days--a woman whose daughter died next to her in that rubble just before rescue--and sees not one iota of herself in that fellow human's suffering? Who doesn't think that were the situations reversed, she'd be begging the world for help?

Easing suffering is not a zero sum game.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brown Was For It Before He Was Against It

Interesting to note that Scott Brown pledged to be the 41st vote against the health care bill, when he voted for an almost identical bill right here in Massachusetts in 2006:

"Public hostility towards health reform certainly helped propel Brown to victory, but as economist Austin Frakt explains, “[t]he real lesson seems to be less about policy and far more about politics.” After all, Brown doesn’t make a very convincing messenger for opposing the policy behind health reform. As a state senator, Brown voted for Massachusetts 2006’s reform law which, like the Senate and House bills, includes an individual health insurance mandate, insurance exchanges, government affordability credits and insurance regulations. As a result of the law, 98% of Massachusetts residents have health insurance and 79% want the law to continue."

Brown's opposition to the bill was based on voter anger at increasing premiums (the national bill, unlike the MA reform, included cost containments) and that MA would have to subsidize other states' reforms: "The Federal plan, taking a half trillion from Medicare, why would we go and subsidize the failure of other states – not only would we be paying for our plan, we’d be paying for everyone else." But here's the deal: MA received federal money to institute our health care reform; we couldn't have done it without that federal assistance. Which raises the question in some quarters of whether he plans to return the federal money that he seems to so deplore.

Free Speech Means I Get To Say That...

...the majority opinion holders on the Supreme Court have made an un-American and deeply stupid decision today. Dahlia Lithwick nails it. I speak of her disbelief that the Supreme Court of the United States today decided that a corporation or a union is just like a person, entitled to "freedom of speech."

Friends, this decision ought to give you nothing but bowel-lurchingly frightening visions. This is not a victory for free speech, assuming you even believe that money = speech or that Coca Cola = We The PEOPLE. This is an outright threat to our democracy, and let me tell you why: Multinational corporations are now free to influence United States elections. Did you hear that? Multinational corporations--some of which are owned by people living in and citizens of OTHER COUNTRIES--are now free to influence our elections.

I'll have more to say later, but right now I'm just trying to digest that one effing scary result of this disastrous decision.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brown Defeats Choakley

My New Senator, God help us

Nate Silver over at 538 has a decent piece of blame assignation for Coakley's loss:

I think he's pretty much right on. So what does all this mean? It means, not as our "friends" at the WSJ and Fox tell us, that Obama should do less. This is when Obama needs to grow a pair. Mitch McConnell says the election shows we're "tired" of Obama's agenda. Really? Eff You, Mitch. A member of a party that did ZERO for nine years to help the economy (and in fact, drove it into the ground) and to help ordinary Americans get health care? I don't think the President ought to be taking advice from you. President Obama's problem is that he has been too much of a consensus-builder. I mean, hello! Scott Brown's entire platform was that he was going to throw sand in the gears of "the Obama agenda." These people are not interested in finding a middle ground or a way forward. They are interested in Obama's failure. Why are we trying to work with them? Health care reform should have been passed by now, with or without the Republicans.

President Obama, you need to do what you said you were going to do during your campaign. That's why we voted for you. Refocus on the economy and jobs. Do it, and then let the chips fall where they may.

UPDATE: EJ Dionne says it better than I can: WaPo

Friday, January 15, 2010

Say What You Want About the President...

...but don't dis the dog.

An interesting piece on Harry Reid, who apparently called GWB's dog Barney "fat" to the President's face. Them's fightin' words!

It's a Toss Up

Wow. Who'd a thunkit? Martha Coakley in a tight, tight race against GOP candidate Scott Brown for the open MA Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy. Well, now that I think about it, anyone couldathunkit. Why? Because Martha Coakley has run the sh&ttiest campaign I've seen in a long time. It seems that they just transferred her low-key, let-the-voters-come-to-me primary strategy (which was a good one) to the general election, which was a giant error. You can't coast through a general election, even a special one such as this. Recall that not many years ago TK himself was in a fight for his political life against a GOP challenger. So to say that all Massachusetts seats are safe Dem seats is lazy thinking at best and election-losing at worst.

Where has Coakley been? She's made snarky comments about "shaking hands outside Fenway Park" as if that's a waste of her time. Guess what? It IS a waste of her time in terms of trying to reach the maximum number of voters possible. But in terms of winning the "free media" race? The one where the news covers you shaking hands for 10 seconds and it gets played on a loop on all the newscasts? Time well-spent. And in our electoral system where the party in power routinely gets spanked in mid-term elections? Why this lady was not knocking on every damn door to get every damn vote is beyond me.

Further, all her positive ads seem to have gone AWOL. Now the ads are all about Scott Brown, either for or against. Ads for Martha Coakley, featuring Martha Coakley? I haven't seen 'em. Where has Coakley been? The current Coakley ad is such sh*t I laugh every time I see it. It features her pleasant-but-all-business voice saying, "I'm Martha Coakley and I approved this message." Then it cuts randomly to that Deep Man Voice used in promos for films by Michael Bay saying essentially, "Scott Brown is a dangerous f*cking a*&hole." The quick shift in tone and voice is hilarious! Which is great if you're in comedy, bad if you're in politics.

Obviously I'll be voting for Coakley, shite campaigner though she has been, simply because I cannot bear the thought of a major right-winger like Brown (who has done a fabulous job of appearing moderate) representing me. But if I voted on campaign performance alone? Brown would have to win.

365 Photos--Part Trois?

A construction worker at the Dana Farber Yawkey Center project. He's up pretty high and makin' it look easy.

The supersecretdoubledogmagicgermfreehyperiffic doors to the Transplant Unit at Dana Farber. This was my first time back in that hallway since my transplant, first time walking on my own two feet. I was wheeled in a wee bit sedated if I recall from getting my central line inserted, and on the way out I was in a wheelchair, excited to see Bambina after a month, and completely terror-stricken to be leaving the safety and germ-freeness of the pod, so I barely remember it at all.

Um, that's not the parking spot. In fact, that's precisely where cars are supposed to drive between parking spots.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


What a terrible disaster in Haiti this week. Absolutely unimaginable devastation on a massive scale. Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, poor Haiti did not need an earthquake to add to its misery. Thank goodness God-fearing Christians like Pat Robertson are around to send aid with one hand while blaming the victims with the other:

And, you know, Kristi, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French." True story. And so, the devil said, "OK, it's a deal." And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other.

How truly reprehensible and evil is this? First, the entire notion of pacts with the devil is pre-Enlightenment, Dark Ages, superstitious nonsense. The fact that a Christian preacher in 2010 America is discussing--seriously--a pact with Satan--underscores precisely how out of the mainstream Robertson's particular brand of Christianity really is. The fact that he is discussing it with the intent of demonstrating how Haitians have brought this destruction upon themselves ought to underscore precisely how Non-Christian Robertson really is. He is a disgrace to Christianity, to Christians and to the teachings of Jesus himself, who I'm certain would have wasted no time on the devil blame game and would have waded in to the mire to help people, allowing his actions to speak for him.

Robertson is a train wreck, and obviously good for a few derisive laughs, but what truly sets my teeth on edge about him and his ilk is the desperate need, the unholy desire, that every tragedy must have A Cause, and that Cause must be People With Whom He Disagrees. 9/11? "The pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians." (Jerry Falwell's words, with which Robertson "totally concur[red]." Hurricane Katrina? Abortion. Ariel Sharon's stroke? "Dividing God's land." His prediction for Florida after Disney held Gay Days? "It'll bring about terrorist bombs, it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor."

Please, folks, can't we finally and at long last see this man and his movement for what they are? Morally bankrupt, criminally insane, and unsuitable for association by any political candidate or party.

The Wayback Machine

Did anyone else receive a fossil on their doorstep this week? I refer, of course, to the phone book. I must be special because I received not one, but three, copies of this testament to the 20th Century. I've ranted about the uselessness that is the phone book before, and I'm about to do it again. I recognize that I could be construed as (no! don't say it!) elitist because my dislike for the phone book conveniently forgets that not everyone has a computer or even access to one, nor do people always have the money to blithely dial 411 every time they need some brake fluid. I do get that and will therefore soften my 2009 demand for "Telephone Book Ban Now!" into "Please Leave Only One Copy of This Monstrosity K?Thanksbye!" I mean, it does have some use. Just this morning I opened that drawer I never open and pulled out last year's phone book for recycling, and popped this year's new one in. And there it will no doubt stay until you lovely readers get to hear my 2011 rant about phone books again. In the meantime, we can all rejoice at the impending death of all those "jokes" about phone books, like Yo Mama is like the phone book: available to the public, free of charge. Or the Jerry Lewis-style classic: "Why are there so many Johnsons in the phone book? Because they all have phones!" Yuk Yuk Yuk.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's American Idol Time Again!

Woo Hoo, darlings!! It's time once again for that Cavalcade of Mediocrity known as American Idol. You know I hate to love and love to hate this program. I'm especially excited for this evening's premiere because it features guest judging by the Patron Saint of All Mediocrity Victoria Beckham. I CANNOT WAIT. Full report after the show. Shwiiiiing!

(Here's VB at the auditions, flashing her gang colors on that do' rag)


Can I ask you a question, customer at the Walgreens pharmacy? Why are you standing right next to me while I am doing my business with the pharmacist? Why are you standing so close to me that we seem like we're here together? Why are you waiting for your prescription standing all up in my personal space while I am conducting MY business with the pharmacist? On what planet is this appropriate behavior? You seemed stunned when I turned and said, "Excuse me, could I ask you to take a step back, please?" You seemed to not understand why I would not want you standing right where you were, waiting on YOUR turn on MY time and in MY space. I seemed not to understand why the pharmacy employee didn't do the asking for me. I seemed stunned that this was the third time this week that I'd been publicly spooned by a stranger at this pharmacy walkup. I was cranky as I walked out of the store until I remembered...oh yeah, this is why I switched all my other scrips to CVS.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Game Change

Such an unbelievable read. It's an excerpt from Game Change, a new book about the campaigns of 2008. This particular excerpt deals with John and Elizabeth Edwards--and of course Rielle Hunter. Wow. It's almost surreal to read, tracing the way John Edwards apparently morphed from a decent guy into an egotist, and the people he pulled down with him. From a political perspective, you can absolutely and authentically feel the desperation of his staff and inner circle trying to save him from himself--and trying to save the party and the election from his behavior. What a scene. And what a total prick.

Breaking News: A Comparison

*Sigh* Anderson Cooper is bumming me out again, and not this time because he refuses to consider me as a viable candidate for long-term commitment. The other night I was flipping between CNN and BBC World News. On CNN, their Breaking News segment featured a report on suicidal animals. I can't even find the link now, which perhaps indicates how totally without merit the report was.

At the same time, the BBC was reporting that a bus full of soccer players from Togo were ambushed in Angola. This is news for several reasons, not the least of which is that it discusses terrorism and security of the players leading up to the World Cup in South Africa.

I'm no giant fan of the BBC. But you know, if you think you're better served by reports on lemming-like behavior in the animal kingdom rather than on-the-ground acts of terrorism against humans, you go on with your CNN.

That said, Anderson, you can still call me.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Cool pics from the Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China. Damn, it looks freezing! But so neat from my warm couch.

Flying the Terrifying Skies

Those are the President's remarks on the failed Christmas Day attempted bombing of the jetliner. Here is what jumped out at me:
Now, at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies. That's why, in addition to the corrective efforts that I've ordered, I've directed agency heads to establish internal accountability reviews, and directed my national security staff to monitor their efforts. We will measure progress. And John Brennan will report back to me within 30 days and on a regular basis after that. All of these agencies -- and their leaders -- are responsible for implementing these reforms. And all will be held accountable if they don't.

Moreover, I am less interested in passing out blame than I am in learning from and correcting these mistakes to make us safer. For ultimately, the buck stops with me. As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility.

Over the past two weeks, we've been reminded again of the challenge we face in protecting our country against a foe that is bent on our destruction. And while passions and politics can often obscure the hard work before us, let's be clear about what this moment demands. We are at war. We are at war against al Qaeda, a far-reaching network of violence and hatred that attacked us on 9/11, that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, and that is plotting to strike us again. And we will do whatever it takes to defeat them.

Whatever you think of President Obama, did you read that second paragraph? As President, I have a solemn responsibility to protect our nation and our people. And when the system fails, it is my responsibility. Did you catch that? The part where he is putting himself in the line of blame? Taking responsibility? In all the internet and TV chatter I have heard precious little credit being given to him for that small, simple remark that speaks volumes. He could have said, "You know, this system was set up after 9/11 and so Bush had YEARS to get this shit working right, but he obviously didn't, and those CIA agents, well they fucked up, and forget it when it comes to the entire NCTC which is a joke at this point, etc etc." He could have done the Bush/Cheney/Giuliani thing and found a way to Blame Bill Clinton. Nope. He laid out the errors then said, "the responsibility is mine."

You'll pardon me while I sit quietly and enjoy this breath of fresh air for a moment.

Which moves us to the discussion of the body scanners at airports and the privacy concerns of people who, like James Carville, don't want the TSA guy to be able to "measure my penis." Well, first off James, the scanners aren't powerful enough to find your little Cajun weiner. Second, what's a little weiner between countrymen if it means your flight doesn't get blown out of the sky? I keeed! Why we are so wiggy about these scanners is beyond me. Here's what the scan looks like (of a Manchester, England airport security official):

You want to tell me that guy doesn't wear less on his yearly British person vacation to Corfu? The person viewing the scan is in another location from the security gate, so the entire passenger manifest is not seeing the dude's butt crack. Note that his face is not entirely visible, so he's not actually personally identifiable to the person viewing either. Quite frankly we need to get over this puritan "Oh they'll see my hoo-ha!" nonsense. We see hoo-has every damn day on the TV, on the interwebs, on bus station posters. Hoo-has sell beer.

Let's just be grown ups and recognize that this is what the world has come to: If you want to fly, some dude from the TSA is going to see a charcoal rendering of your ass crack.

Friday, January 08, 2010

More 365 Project Pics

A photo a day for 365 Days. I'll try to post daily from now on.

Two rabbits diverged in our wood.

Sunny, cloudy and snowy all at the same time.

The view from my bed during the stomach virus from hell.

Fruit. Real or Fake?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Greenscreen Grandmas

This clip is way old, but I just recently saw it again and god help me I laugh uncontrollably for the entire video. Nothing happens, nothing really goes on, but for some reason I involuntarily laugh whenever I watch it.

I Share My Beliefs...

You Evangelize.
They Proselytize.

This is the perfect takedown of that a&*wipe Brit Hume's total disrespect for Buddhism--and for people of all faiths. By The Daily Show, of course.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Temple of Hume
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Wednesday Links

As I eat my dry toast and pedialyte popsicle, I read this hilarious account of a defamation suit brought by a car dealership against a customer who tweeted repeatedly that they "suck." The lawyer's letter alone is worth the time. Via

Next, an article on making an All-Ikea Meal. Gotta love the meatballs!

Then, a link to an interview with Mark Hamill, of Luke Skywalker fame. This link is mostly for the BBDD who likes to dis my childhood crush with "where is he now?" taunts. Well, dude, he's here and doing rather well:

And, finally, this tirade from Joan Rivers, who was not allowed to board a flight in Costa Rica because of her suspicious passport. I'm bummed they didn't keep her.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ad Nauseum

This blogging every day of January idea is awesome! As an idea, that is. But in reality, it doesn't always happen. For instance, today was my big day to write and blog and line up some potential submissions for online and traditional publications. Yep. Today was the day. Gonna get my writing in gear, and really produce something. Then I opened my eyes, felt an unpleasant sour feeling in my stomach and throat, and suspected correctly that my best-laid plans were about to gang aft agley.

The next few hours were plague-like. Vomit. Sleep fitfully. Vomit again. Eat cracker. Vomit cracker. Have pedialyte popsicle.
Vomit pedialyte popsicle. Sleep fitfully. Vomit. Or more accurately, dry heave. Heave some more. As Bambina said this evening after (god bless them) the afternoon with Gram and Pop: "That sounds UGLY!" Ugly it was. Until I got resourceful. I mean, if you have to have a stem cell transplant with all the attendant medications, side effects and GVHD, you really ought to get some kind of payoff for your troubles, right? My payoff is a giant bag of pharmaceuticals left over from my random health issues. Among them a delightful drug called, generically, Ondansetron. You might know it as Zofran, the drug used to treat chemotherapy nausea. I know it as the drug that saved my bacon this morning. Because let's be real here, after the 6th barf in 3 hours, it's time to head to the pharmacy even if that pharmacy is in your closet.

Speaking of closets full of prescription meds, I'm sure you've heard that Rush Limbaugh has deemed the US health care system sound-as-a-pound based on his "cardiac event" experience last week. Of course. Because I'm sure that Mr. Limbaugh, a famous, insured, wealthy man was treated just the same as anyone else at that hospital. I'll bet he waited 3 hours in the ER waiting area, then probably needed some tests done but decided against them because he couldn't afford them, then capped it off with a stay in a semi-private room with a semi-private bath, with a nurse to patient ratio of 1-30. Yes, I'm so sure Mr. Limbaugh got the real and true US healthcare experience that so many of us have had to contend with. I mean, don't get me wrong. I am beyond fortunate. I am spoiled, even, by the treatment and care and level of service I've received at Dana Farber and NIH and Johns Hopkins. But I've also, as long-time readers will recall, suffered from shitty hospitals, giant medical bills while I was uninsured as an early twenty-something, an absence of medical follow-up, and the attendant pervasive fear (or rather, knowledge) that you are on your fucking own should some company decide that they won't cover that thing you need.

So, I'm off to hopefully not vomit and get some sleep. And if you're in the market for some levaquin or some clobetasol, you just let me know and I'll pull them out of my stash. :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Best Practices

I come from a long, proud line of fat people. The kind of family where being the right weight makes you suspect for disease, ie, "You're looking very thin. Are you feeling okay?" Believe me, I'd rather have that problem than the opposite, like some of my friends' families, where you are constantly checked for inch-pinching. But here's the challenge of coming from a foodophilic, chubba family: having a child who can take or leave food depending on whether she's hungry. A child who says, "No thanks" to going out for ice cream but who will eat two servings of mandarin oranges. I mean, can you imagine it?! Eating only when you're hungry!? Stopping when you're full?! Choosing fruit over ice cream? Who DOES this?!

This is the environment in which we operate. Trying to put calories into a 30 pound 5 year-old. A healthy, vigorous, muscular, active, completely normal 5 year-old...who happens to be a peanut, and who happens to be immune to any and all requests, pleadings or demands to Eat More Food. She simply will not eat when she perceives she is full, with the added difficulty level being, as our pediatrician says, "How much food can you put in a kid that size at one time anyway?" Precisely. And yet I am biologically and anthropologically, as a mother, programmed to Feed My Child. My sole concern on any given day is Feeding My Child. I feel like I have failed if I have failed to Feed My Child.

We have done all the recommended stuff: smaller portions, no dealmaking, letting her help cook, letting her choose options, removing eating from the list of control issues (to the point where it got ridiculous the other way, ie, a peanut butter cup was eaten before school one day....) to no avail. She eats, then she stops, then she's done. So two nights ago I rediscovered my old Dr. Spock book from when she was a baby, with a full chapter therein for "feeding issues." And god bless ol' Spock of pointy head rather than pointy ears, he has a whole section on skinny kids who won't eat high-calorie foods. Seeing it was instantly reassuring, because if he's written about it, that means someone else has a kid like mine, which means we're not alone.

So here's where we get to the "best" part of this post. His advice? Feed them ridiculously small amounts of food that they like and shut the fuck up about it already. Well, not in exactly those words, but you get the point: it's not a disease, it's not a behavioral problem. Some kids love to swim, love to play soccer, love to eat. Some kids don't. And thems that don't don't need you ruining what appetite they may have in the moment by constantly badgering them about it or being "on" them to police that they finish the entire slice of whatever. He even says that if you have to walk away and not watch, then by all means walk away. But do keep your mouth shut.

So we tried it yesterday for the first time. Friends, seriously. Two tablespoons of mac and cheese in a tiny bowl. Like, what I fed her at 2 years old. One drinkable yogurt. I was ready to cry, it was so little food. But I managed the gargantuan task of S'ing TFU--and guess what? She ate every last bite and asked for another serving. BBDD was all, "Yay!" in his head, but I was still, "Oh so that's THREE tablespoons of food in my 5 year old. Why don't I just call the cops myself for malnourishing her?" But I managed to quell the almighty urge to hold forth on nutrition with her, and it worked. She felt like dinner was on her terms--and most importantly--enjoyable.

Fast forward to this morning: the BBDD gave her what looked like a quarter of an egg scrambled, half a sausage and half a slice of turkey bacon, to which I added one yogurt because I struggle to follow directions; oh yes I struggle. One enjoyable breakfast time later and it was GONE. Oh--with another yogurt and a bowl of cereal (no milk of course) as well...both at her request.

So--on this, the third post of my Best Series, I want to give it up for Dr. Spock. He's retro, he's no Deepak, and he doesn't think much of your LeapPad, but you know what? He knows from kids and he works, even from beyond the grave. HOLLA!!

Friday, January 01, 2010

365 Photography Project

I've decided to do this: If anyone wants to join me, that would be fun. Here is the photo for January 1, 2010.
Happy New Year!

Dumbest Quotes of the Decade

Please enjoy. My personal favorite is the first:

"We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term." --Dana Perino.