Wednesday, December 26, 2007

heeding the call

No, I'm not gonna be a minister, even if all my career testing says I should. But I am thinking of "heeding the call". I have had this vague, uneasy feeling off and on for the last year. I finally know what it is. It is the atheist version of the "call" -- I am being pressured by my own conscience to get off my butt and do something. The world is a mess, and I can no longer sit on my sofa and write checks, and feel I have done my part. I have to walk the walk, live the life, whatever. I have to find ways to inspire the good by doing good.

I don't have any idea yet what form this will take. It might be organized volunteering, or it might be a more chaotic individual effort. I figure that even if I only help one person, just one, the world is better off. Maybe I can start a movement, the "Just One" movement. If everyone takes on just one project, or just one person in an effort to make things better, it will actually GET better.

What do you think???

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Holidays! The Winter Solstice has come and gone, but there is still time to celebrate the season. So gather round the hanukkah bush, genuflect before Elvis, do whatever floats your boat... just ENJOY!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

holiday time at the office

I absolutely LOVE holiday time at the office. I also hate it a little bit. I get very little work done, and I have a lot of work on my plate, so that's the hate part of it.

But the love part, that's special. At this time of the year, everyone is nice to everyone. It is cheerful, and the halls are filled with the sound of laughing, joyful people. We have solid holiday traditions in place, and everyone looks forward to the rituals.

We have a Christmas breakfast. We used to cook it ourselves, but since we don't have a kitchen and there are now 38 of us, we have it catered. We decorate a meeting room, have holiday music, and play the White Elephant game. Each person who wants to play brings in a wrapped gift costing around $20. We place all the gifts on the table. Then we each get a number assigned to us, representing our turn in the game. The first person unwraps a present. This present is now in play. The next person can unwrap a new present, or "steal" from the first person. Gifts get stolen back and forth, sometimes changing hands 4 or 5 times, with a ton of laughing and joking thrown in. If you have a gift stolen from you 3 times, your next gift is "safe" and can't be taken from you. It is amazing to see the various strategies that people employ in such a simple game.

We have Secret Santa for 12 days. Small gifts, ideally around a dollar, appear in your office or your mailbox for 11 days, and then a big gift at the breakfast, when you try to guess who your secret santa was. People are amazingly creative, and really enjoy sneaking around and coming up with artful ways to hide their identity.

There is also a holiday party for the office, hosted by the boss. Usually this is at his home, with lots of catered food and an open bar. It does wonders for office morale to do shots of tequila with the boss. This year, his house is being renovated, so we are going to Little Italy for a 3 hour "lunch".

Lest you think we are all about us at the holidays, we also adopt a family from the University's charity drive. This year we adopted a grandmother raising 6 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. She is confined to a wheelchair, and the whole family lives in a two bedroom apartment in East Baltimore. We hosted a party for them, complete with tree and Santa. Then we sent them home with 5 bags of groceries, a tree with ornaments and lights, wrapped gifts for Christmas morning, and a few hundred gifts for the kids and grandmother to open on the spot. Our office elves shopped and wrapped presents for a week. We also baked treats for the party, made sure each child got a winter coat and mittens, hats and boots, and video-taped each child with Santa. It was truly special. The grandmother kept saying it was the best Christmas they had ever had. What I don't think she got was how great it was for us!

It really is a wonderful time of year!

Monday, December 10, 2007

my deadline looms

I started this paper early. I really and truly did. I gathered my sources, I read all the books, and now it is due tomorrow. AND I only have half the thing written. How the hell did this happen? I have made less progress than if I had stuck to my tried and true method and not started until today....

I have taken the day off tomorrow. Hopefully with a few hours tonight, and the bulk of the day tomorrow, I can finish up. There is no option to turn this sucker in late. We have to give oral presentations tomorrow night [no, I don't have that ready either]... Maybe I should use my son's methods for the presentation -- make lots of handouts, and give out candy. It worked for his 8th grade english class book report...

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thanks, Sally

Sally Smith, founder of the Lab School of Washington, passed away yesterday. I never met Sally, but I mourn her loss. In 1967, Sally Smith's son was diagnosed with learning disabilities. She was told he could be educated with the retarded, or with the disturbed. She came up with her own option, and started a school for bright kids with learning disabilities. She made up her own methods as she went along; these have since been duplicated all over the world. Her philosophy was that all children could learn, and it was up to the adults to figure out how to make that happen.

I owe her a tremendous debt. My son is learning disabled. He's bright. And in 2003, there were still almost no options for educating him. Luckily for us, Sally's idea in 1967 had grown, and a new school, Baltimore Lab, was expanding. Our son has thrived there, turning into an educated, confident young man. He went from barely reading, to reading far in advance of his grade level. He couldn't learn to subtract in his previous school, and now he handles pre-algebra with relative ease. I don't think I will ever understand how less homework, fewer tests, almost no structure and what seems to be very little work produces these results. It is akin to magic in my mind. All I know is it does work, and I am forever grateful to Sally Smith.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

going old school

Today our son had a shadow day at Archbishop Spalding school. For those not involved in the private school admission process, a "shadow day" is a day spent with a student of the school, attending classes with them, eating lunch in the cafeteria, along with a short interview and a writing sample.

We also had our parent interview the same day.

The school was very old-fashioned. I felt like I had been transported back to my high school. Cinderblock painted walls, ugly dark hallways, joyless students slumped over desks... GRIM.

Our son hated it. I was glad he didn't like it. I must be raising him right ;-)

Learning theory has come along way. Architectural design has made leaps and bounds. Work is no longer factory based/ So why are there still this factory style schools, churning out people whose main asset is the ability to sit at a desk for long periods of time?


Monday, November 26, 2007

poking procrastination in the eye

I am poking procrastination right in the eye. I have my paper topic approved, and it isn't even due for two more weeks. I bought my first xmas present today, and it isn't even close to xmas (by my reckoning). WOW!!!!

This isn't me. I wait until the very last minute, using that good old panic sweat as fuel. I can't seem to get moving without the jolt of adrenaline added by the fear of blowing a deadline.

So why the turnaround? I think I am just panicking early....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

application is in the mail

Our son's high school application to The Park School is in the mail. I have very mixed feelings about it. I want him to get in, if it's the right place for him. It is a lovely school, with the right values (i.e. mine). It is the kind of opportunity I want to provide. But. Is it right for my child, or is it right for me? Am I setting him up for success, or for failure? He would fit in, socially. He is certainly smart enough. But are his skills up to it?

Oh well. It is now out of my hands. We will see what happens.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

a grateful heart

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have had a great year, and I'm approaching the holiday with a grateful heart. I give thanks for my wonderful husband, a terrific son, friends who enrich my life, a good and challenging job, interesting classes, amazing in-laws, a healthy new niece, a strong new connection with my brother.

I am truly lucky, and grateful for all of it!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

steeped in evil

It is the beginning of the holiday season, and I am steeped in evil. It is term-paper time. My tentative title is "A Candle in the Darkness: The Treatment of Evil in Literature". We have to cover all twelve works we read this semester, and discuss the treatment of evil, and posit our own theories. We also have to use at least 5 outside sources.

So every night I read a little evil. So far, I have read People of the Lie, The Roots of Evil, and am working through The History of Hell, and Evil, Ethics and Literature. It is amazing how a scholarly treatment of the subject can suck all the life out of it. Evil should be fascinating. It should be the car wreck you can't turn away from on the highway. It should be the thing you know is waiting in the dark basement. The poised snake, waiting to strike. It should not be dull.

It should be exciting enough to write a 18-20 page paper in the next three weeks.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the expanding universe

I am enjoying watching my son's universe expand. This weekend he went with friends to Anime USA, an anime convention in Virginia. While there, he bought himself some jewelry (!) and some art (!!). Neither of these things has been on his horizon before. He is starting to be cognizant that clothing says something about you. It is a kind of social shorthand. And he can express his taste and interests through jewelry and art.

On Saturday he went to the con with several other teens, one of the kids' mother and her boyfriend. Today he went with a girl he "likes" and her mother. He navigated both social settings quite well, something he would not have been able to do even two years ago.

He is starting to find himself, and is beginning the journey of separating from us. It is a real pleasure to watch. It is more subtle than the excitement we felt when he started walking and talking, but it is no less momentous, I think.

And sweet.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Coveting is probably not good for the soul, but god help me, I COVET this:

This is from and if you haven't checked out his site, you really should. He is a craftsman, and has created a number of gorgeous items in the steampunk genre.

If I won the lottery, I would buy everything he has for sale. I really truly would. Daily objects should be things of beauty.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

thirteen is not a man

Okay, this is for all the lonely teachers out there. Thirteen is NOT a man. You may feel affection for your thirteen year old student. It is only affection. It is not LOVE, not lust. You are NOT soulmates.

The teacher that ran off to Mexico with her 13 year old student was just fired from her job. Before now, she was on administrative leave, despite having crossed state lines with a 13 year old boy.

I admit that this whole story hit a sore spot with me. I am the mother of a thirteen year old boy. I have spent thirteen years protecting him, watching out for him, warning him about strangers, when I apparently should have been telling him his teachers are DANGEROUS. Seriously, as my son has gotten older, I have started to relax. I assume pedophiles like kids that look like, well, kids. So as my son matures, I have begun to think he is "safe" from this sort of creep. And then another thirteen year old gets abused by a teacher.

Enough is enough.

Monday, November 12, 2007

public vs private education

A neighbor stopped by last night, to let me know about a community project. Our neighborhood is adopting the local elementary school, Govans Elementary. We will be purchasing much needed supplies from a wish-list each teacher provided. In my case, this means baby wipes, disinfectant wipes, and sweat pants (I have a pre-K classroom for this time).

We are doing this for complicated reasons, many of which come down to guilt. We don't send our children to Govans. Almost exclusively, the neighborhood children attend private schools in the area. Govans is a poor, urban elementary school, attended mostly by the children in the adjoining neighborhoods.

Most of us feel bad for abandoning the public school system. We "believe" in public education, we feel it is important, but we don't act on our belief, at least not in the form of putting our children into the school. And we realize that pulling our kids out makes the system weaker. We are involved parents who truly care about our kids getting the best education, i.e. we are exactly what the school needs to improve. The new principal of the school, when asked what the neighborhood could do to help, was pretty succinct. "Send your kids here."

If it were that simple, I would cheer. But. The school is terrible. It isn't working for the kids who are there now, and it wouldn't work for my child. I am unwilling to sacrifice my child's best interests for my principles.

So how do we get to the point where the public schools are good, and we don't need private schools to fill the gap? One of this country's greatest strengths is our free education, available to all children. It weakens us when we have a two-tier system, with good education for those who can afford it, and a poor education for everyone else. We need people with skills, with knowledge, in order for our country to thrive. How did we mess it up so badly? or has it always been this bad? and how do we fix it??

Monday, November 05, 2007

out of the blue

In the last couple of weeks, I've heard from two people that I had lost touch with. Oddly, I worked with both of them, at the same company, years ago, but heard from each separately and independently. I love this sort of "out of the blue" experience. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to know I am remembered.

I am also one of those people who look for patterns in things. So when I hear from two folks I knew in connection with each other, I see a pattern and wonder -- what is the universe telling me? Maybe nothing. Maybe things just line up that way some times, but I doubt it. I tend to think that the universe reveals itself (god, that sounds new agey as hell!) in bits and pieces, fits and starts. And so I watch, I listen, and hopefully I learn.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Choose civility

I LOVE THIS!!! Howard County has started a Choose Civility program, to encourage people to be more civil toward one another. I hope this catches on. I feel the breakdown in manners has been a real detriment to society.

A book by a Hopkins professor that I hope becomes a huge bestseller:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the older student

I am an "older" student, even in grad school. This hit home last night on two fronts. On one, I got a B on a paper, and was incredibly upset. The grade was fair, even generous, given what I turned in; it's just that I am used to As, expect As and really don't want to settle for less. I was not like this as an undergrad. I wasn't even like this in my 30s. I think more of myself now than I did then. I am smart, I am capable, and there really isn't any excuse for a B.

The 2nd front came in the form of an anecdote. My professor was on a tangent about gardening. Then she talked about how, the second you turn 50, you get that mail from AARP asking you to join, showing happy old people gardening. Then she looked around the room and said, "of course, none of you are anywhere near 50..." Ummm, yeah, right. I am at least 10 years older than the nearest person my age in the room... And am much closer to 50 than I like to think.

So, why aren't there more older students? is it because education has increasingly been seen in terms of career goals, and nothing else? if it can't get you advancement, should you skip it?

For what it's worth, and despite the difficulties, my B paper notwithstanding, I highly recommend going back to school. Do something different. Shake up your ideas and your life. Take Art, take music, hell take accounting if it floats your boat. Just go to school, so I can have some creaky, old company.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I need people

I need people, as in "I have people for that"... to give you an idea, this is my weekend:

I took my son to the Independent School Entrance Exams. I waited with him and tried to cheer him up until they took him in the room. Then I took the car to the dealer for its 75,000 mile service, and to get a new seat-belt (Largo ate through the other one). And a new battery. Then I drove back to the school, getting there just in time to pick up my son. Then I dropped him at home and went to the bank to deposit a check. I read my book for school for Tuesday night (Candide). I answered email from work. We went out to dinner with friends (Taste restaurant, very very nice evening). On Sunday, I went grocery shopping. I took videos back, bought Halloween decorations, went to PetSmart and got food for the dog. I hard boiled eggs and cooked some chicken breasts for later in the week. I did 5 loads of laundry. I cooked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We went to the Park School for an Open House/Tour. I checked in and answered work email. I ran the dog around the back yard for 20 minutes.

I'm tired. And oppressed by the things I left undone: bathrooms to clean, kitchen floor to mop, I haven't filed or put away paperwork for months. My dust bunnies are HUUUGGGEEE, with nasty fangs.

No seriously, I could use a few people to run my errands, clean my house, organize my paperwork. A simple Victorian staff of 2-3 would do it, I think. Or one horribly efficient butler...

Friday, October 26, 2007

it's not magic

I am working on some programming. It sounds fairly simple: create a bunch of custom documents for each of our speakers for a course and email them a packet. But a speaker can be a guest, or staff (different set of documents for each), some documents have to be merged on a per talk basis, some on a per speaker basis, some of the documents are compound docs (page 1 merges with speakers, page 2 -4 have to repeat for each talk, the last page is static, etc).

So I have a process that: merges to word, breaks apart the merges by speakers or talks, shoving the now individual docs into a folder or each speaker, then converts docs to pdfs, then makes multiple pdfs into single pdfs, then zipping contents of each speaker's folder, then attaches and emails with a customized email to each speaker and then cleans up after itself.

So, I have users wondering why this took so long to create, others that are like "thanks - can we change this 1 document here so that it does x?" etc.

I want someone, anyone, to recognize what a huge challenge this was, and how f***ing amazing I am for coming up with a solution at all. We have gotten to the point where they just expect me to solve everything, and so take my efforts for granted.

Like I wave my hands, and MAGIC -- we have new code.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

what do we want our government to do for us

This topic came up in the car, on the way to doggie daycare (!). My son was telling me about a girl at his school, Gemma Frost. Her brother is the twelve year old student who testified before Congress about the sCHIP program (children's health insurance). For those of you not in the Baltimore area, you may not be aware that the Frost family has experienced an avalance of hate mail, invasion of privacy, threats, etc. since speaking up for the continued funding of the program

My son was horrified that this was even an issue. He felt all kids should have access to medical care. Period. I agree. So we started talking about what a government should do for its citizens, and why people would be angry at the Frosts. The anger is that many people feel insurance is a purely private thing; if you want it you buy it, and if you can't afford it, go without. And the Frosts are not poor. They are not rich, but they are not poor. They make ends meet, they own their own home, their children go to private schools (on scholarship, btw). But they are self-employed and do not get health insurance through an employer. Bottom line, they applied and were approved for the SCHIP program. Should they be homeless so they can buy insurance? Should they pull their kids out of their schools and put them in public school to make people feel better?

My argument this morning was that we have to decide what we want government to be, and to do. I feel that the government should protect the most vulnerable among us: the poor, the disabled, children, the elderly, because how we treat these people is what we are as a society. We are a well-off country that spends more on war than we spend on these vulnerable citizens.

So, what do you want from government? what kind of society should we be? and how do we get there?

Friday, October 19, 2007

avoiding my paper

So, I am supposed to be writing my paper for class. Right now. I have my books, I have my notes, I have my trusty laptop. And I am blogging. Writing to avoid writing. As usual, I changed the topic of my paper at the last second. I was going to write on Euripides Electra, but the play *sucks* -- the Greek tragedy equivalent of Atlas Shrugged. Lots of long speeches that interrupt the action so that the POINT can be hammered home.

So now I am writing on Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus. Much better. But I keep getting distracted by the background stuff. Like there really was a Doctor Faust, and there was this book: The History of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus. It came before Marlowe's play, which came before Goethe's Faust, and so on. And Marlowe was a spy for the Queen. He was stabbed to death at age 29, maybe assassinated. And the play was published posthumously and probably was written as part of a team. A few years later, another edition was published with another 676 lines added, supposedly by Marlowe, but probably not.

So, writing about the theme and structure and the Evil in the play doesn't seem that interesting right now. Oh yeah, I also have to prepare a ten minute talk on my paper to present on Tuesday night. Did I mention this is all due Tuesday?

And I have to leave the house at 5:30am on Tuesday, so I can drive to NIH for a 4 hour meeting, then drive back to the office and work, and then go to class and turn in my paper.

And I got myself into this in the first place, because I like school. This is all voluntary. I don't have to do it. I should have my head examined.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

how others see you

I was thinking last night about how others see me. In talking with a classmate, it was clear that she felt I was outgoing and confident. Stunned, I told her I sat through 4 years of college without ever raising my hand. And that not one of my professors would even remember who I was. She said she couldn't believe that was true.

Yet it was. I really did. I was afraid to answer questions, afraid I might seem stupid, afraid I might seem too smart, afraid I was uncool, unpopular, unliked. Mostly just afraid to be myself. I don't remember when it shifted, and I have always assumed that I still appear that way to others, even though I don't feel that way inside.

Is it age that makes you more you? is it experience? Is it that way for everyone? or is it just me? I know I feel like I haven't changed in decades. My "mental self" seems pegged at 22. I have to do the math in my head sometimes to remember how old I am. Yet something unquantifiable has changed; there is a difference in there somewhere. What would it be like, I wonder, if for one fleeting moment, you could see yourself as others see you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

blog about the environment

Nature is my religion, as much as I have one. I feel a sense of connectedness with the world when I am outdoors. I don't have a church. I don't believe in God, at least not the Christian one I grew up with. But I do love and appreciate the world we live in. I love the rivers, the mountains, the trees, the oceans, the creatures that share the planet with us.

I love the sounds and smells, wet raw earth, the air after a thunderstorm, the way warm wood smells different than cold, the trickle of a stream, the wind through the trees, waves crashing on shore, the salty odd smell of marshes.

This planet is a treasure, a museum, a great work of art. However you view it, it is irreplaceable and it is priceless. Try treating it that way.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Congratulations, Al!

I was stunned to see Al Gore awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I think his efforts to educate the planet about global warming have been magnificent, and hopefully not too late. I just thought it was something of a stretch to connect it to Peace. However, in reading the comments from the committee, I agree, it is about Peace. It is about bringing the planet together, not for war, or for commerce, without special interests, to do something together about a problem that affects us all.

I am so pleased to see Al Gore rewarded for doing good. Too often, we see people garner attention for doing all the wrong things. It is a blessing, at least as a parent, to see someone rewarded richly for doing the right thing. Makes my job easier, when I tell my son to do what he loves, and not worry about profit. Gore seems happier than he ever was running for office. His income has soared, he is respected internationally, his ideas get attention, and he looks like he is having a blast. He is doing what he believes in and it shows.

Congratulations, Al, and keep at it. We need to hear it.

Monday, October 08, 2007


This weekend, I read: King Lear by Shakespeare, and Forfeit, by Dick Francis. Guess which one I enjoyed more? If you said Shakespeare, you were way way off. I love Shakespeare, generally, but Lear is one of my least favorite plays, I think because I really don't like anyone but Cordelia, and she doesn't do or say much. I think I have read almost every single Dick Francis, and enjoyed every one. Can't name a single character, the plots are often interchangeable, and they deal with horse racing, which I know very little about. But they are a fun read.

There are books that I think I ought to like, or ought to have read, because they are considered classics. Literature with a capital L. And then there are things I absolutely should NOT enjoy, like comic books, that I thoroughly do. As I get older, I get more comfortable with the thought that I am not as sophisticated as I once thought I was. My tastes are just what they are -- and sometimes that means I am shallow, superficial or just plain brain dead.

Friday, October 05, 2007

we don't torture

We don't torture people here in Amurrriccca. We slap, simulate drowing, waterboard, sleep deprive, use sensory deprivation, force prisoners to endure freezing temperatures. But we don't torture.

According to our beloved leader (the Shrub), we just interrogate, and we get some pretty darned good information too.

Thank god the government is there to keep us safe. I am so happy they are willing to act like a third world dictatorship if need be, just to make sure the bad guys don't get me. I sleep so much better knowing there is no depth this administration will not sink to in order to "protect the people".

Whatever happened to decency? Whatever happened to the idea that the ends DO NOT JUSTIFY the means??

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Americans are prudes

Americans are prudes -- about money. It really is the last taboo in our culture. You can go on Dr Phil and spill all the details of your sex life, or discuss all your mental health problems. People go into great depth and detail about private medical procedures, what got cut where, added, nipped, tucked. But money? No way.

Think about it. You probably guess at what your colleagues and co-workers get paid. You thumbnail the neighbor's income in proportion to your own. But you don't know. Because it is the one private thing in our entire culture.

I wonder why? What's the big secret? Are we afraid of being seen as bragging? Or are we afraid we aren't measuring up? Do we fear envy? Do we think people will judge us harshly?

I was thinking about it the other day. We may try to apply for financial aid for our son's schooling. But I am uncomfortable with having to disclose our finances to strangers. And that's weird. I am, as people who know me will attest, not usually uncomfortable about ANY topic of discussion. And still, the idea bugs me more than if I let strangers rifle through my underwear drawer. How odd is that?

So, ideas? Why the cultural taboo? Are there good reasons for it?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

picking schools -- how do parents decide?

We are thinking of mainstreaming our child for high school. Currently, he is in a very good private school for bright kids with moderate to severe learning disabilities. He has made phenomenal progress since he began at the school. But.

The school is very successful at placing kids in college. Our concern is that our son will be totally unprepared for the transition, and while he might get in, he won't succeed there. I also am feeling like he is not being challenged academically where he is. And some opportunities are just non-existent or limited. The school has 130 students in grades 1-12. They offer just two computer courses (tech 1 and advanced tech), our son's biggest interest. They can offer very little in the way of clubs, sports, electives. And socially, his entire grade is about 30 kids, most of whom he has known since 4th grade. This means he has very close friends, and knows everyone, but it also limits meeting new people, moving from one social group to another, experimenting with who and what you are (like being from a really small town).

On the other hand,he is thriving where he is. And his learning disabilities are still there. He reads at a 12th grade level, but writes at about a 3rd/4th grade level. His vocab tests out as post-graduate, but his spelling is in the 2nd grade range. In math and science, he is about where an average 8th grader is... He still has motor skill issues, goes to occupational and speech language therapy once a week for intensive services.

So how do we decide what to do? We are at a break point, as far as deciding. If he is going to another school, we must apply by December 1 of this year, or not at all. The schools have openings for 9th grade, but waiting lists for grades 10, and no admissions for 11th and 12th. We would have to go through the testing process, the shadow days, everything by the end of November.

Its a huge decision, one that can affect the next 4 years, and potentially his whole life. How the hell do we decide? What's best? What if we are wrong?

Monday, September 24, 2007

save the cheerleader, save the world

We have a brand new addiction at my house -- HEROES. This is some of the best TV I have EVER seen. We bought Season 1 on DVD, and have been watching it in 3-4 episode sets. Even if you are not a "TV person", this is worth a look. And if you like comic books, sci-fi, fantasy, mysteries... I think you'll love this. You definitely need to see all the episodes though, and in order. The show isn't linear, so some episodes would make no sense whatsoever, unless you had seen the previous ones.

Hiro Nakamura is one of my favorite characters of all time, all genres.

Watch it, and tell me what you think.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the Jena 6

I told someone recently that I thought we had moved beyond the point where race was a deciding factor. The context was the presidential election and Barak Obama's chances. In view of the activities in Jena, Lousiana this week, I am now less sure aobut my statements.

The facts are few in the case. A black student at a high school asked if it was okay for him to sit under the white's tree in the schoolyard. An administrator said he could sit wherever he wants. In response, some kids put three nooses hanging up from that tree, to show what they thought about the idea. Adminstrators called it a harmless prank. Racial tensions ran high. A few black students beat up a white student. The injured student was treated in a hospital and released. Six of the black students were arrested, and initally charged with attempted murder. The charge was reduced to aggravated assault.

One student has now been in jail for over 6 months. He was charged as an adult, and couldn't post bond.

The six kids should be disciplined for the fight, beyond question. I think that's fair. And maybe juvenile court is the appropriate venue for adjudicating this. However a lot of things were not done or done poorly in this whole incident. Nooses from a tree in the deep South can never be seen as a harmless prank. The memories run too deep, the scars are too recent, to see this as anything but a racist threat. However, the threat came from kids, stupid kids, but kids. And the reaction came from kids, maybe frightened, but definitely angry, kids. So what we really have is a fistfight between kids erupting out of a highly charged atmosphere.

And then we have a prosecutor who has taken this to a whole other level. No weapons were used in this fight, the kids were all under eighteen, and all in an emotionally charged situation. To bring adult charges, and serious ones at that, into this is wrong. And I can't see a reason for it except racism.

On the news last night, I saw a Jena resident being interviewed. He said there was no reason for all these people (protestors) to come to his town. He said they weren't racists, didn't have a race problem. And maybe he doesn't. But why does the town have a "white's tree"? and why did three kids come up with the idea of hanging nooses? There is more trouble there than they want to look at in the daylight, I think.

So free the Jena 6. And bring in some counselors to talk to all these kids before it gets worse. Remind them that teenagers are supposed to hate adults, not each other.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

one of the greatest lines ever

From Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelaire, translated:

I am the vampire of my own heart

Isn't that awesome? I infinitely preferred it to the other translation we read:

I am my own heart's vampire

the first just sings, doesn't it?

Friday, September 14, 2007

reading list for this semester

I am taking a course in Evil this semester, focusing on Greek Tragedy through Gothic Tales. The reading list is amazing, although very heavy for 12 weeks of school.

Here it is:

Agamemnon, Aeschylus
Medea, Euripides
Othello, Shakespeare
King Lear, Shakespeare
The Wild Duck, Ibsen
Candide, Voltaire
Frankenstein, Shelley
Wuthering Heights, Bronte
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde
William Wilson, Poe
Rappacini's Daughter, Hawthorne
The Turn of the Screw, James
and poems by Shakespeare, Poe and Baudelaire

Yes, we have to read and discuss all of them. In twelve weeks. And we have two papers, one 8-10 pages, and one 18-20, both with oral presentations.

I think this may be the last r&r type weekend I can indulge in for a while. But I have to admit, this stuff jazzes me. I am looking forward to a great semester.

Monday, September 10, 2007

such a geek

I am such a geek! I just walked over to Staples and bought school supplies, for me. I still get tickled when I buy school supplies, just like I have every school year of my life. I got a new notebook, an accordian file thingy to put the notebook in, and new pens. There is something so enticing about a new notebook, with all those blank pages. It's all potential, all possibilities. And new pens, almost an invitation. In a month, it will be a mess, with papers stuffed everywhere, horribly cryptic notes that seemed really important at the time, odd doodles that probably reveal way too much about the state of my psyche, food stains, tea stains.

But today, today everything is fresh and new and ready for whatever comes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

through the wringer, again

As some of you know, my parents have been going through divorce proceedings. They have been married, mostly miserably, for 46 years. My father is 68. My mother is 75. The last few months have been extremely stressful. My brother, sister and I have been caught in an emotional wringer since May.

Today my mother called me, to tell me the "good news". My dad is moving back home. The divorce is off. I'd like to slap them both silly. Mom was disappointed that I was not overjoyed. My father is looking forward to us all being a family again.

I have very mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel immense relief. I am off the hook. I don't have to worry what is going to happen to Mom, and I can stop calling her every week. She can stop calling me at work. She isn't going to slit her wrists or drop dead of a heart attack, or get locked in the loony bin. She can be Dad's responsibility and his headache.

On the other hand, I am furious. This is the third time I have been through the parental reconciliation routine. Each time I find out more than a child should know about their parents. Each time, I am supposed to forget everything that has happened and go back to the myth of the "happy family". And I am so tired of the pattern. My parents are bad together. They are unhappy and it shows. They pick at each other mercilessly and it is unpleasant to be around. Each time we have been through this I have lost more respect for the both of them as people, and have locked away a little bit more of my emotion and my trust.

I just don't think I can go through all this again. I don't think I can sit down to holiday supper and pretend we are all so happy to be together. Is it better to have damaged parents or no parents? am I ready to orphan myself? Is it in me to just accept them as is? I really don't know...

Friday, August 31, 2007

a new school year

Our son has started 8th grade. 8th GRADE!!! Holy crap, batman, how did that happen? In the last few months he has grown 4 inches. His voice has changed, settling into a fairly deep range we hadn't expected. He could use a shave. He is more confident and more mature. He has a life I have no part of, where I used to know everything.

Recently a friend called him, and I asked him afterwards what she wanted. He looked at me, and said "why do you need to know?" I thought about it, and told him I didn't. It's just a hard habit to break. I'm just not used to not being involved in all his life. I am trying to give him more space, more privacy, more responsibility, but I keep stumbling back into old ways.

It's neat though, to watch the adult start to emerge. When he was little, I could never picture him grown up, and now I can. He can be fun to talk to now, and he makes some interesting points. He has a pretty wicked sense of humor. He is still awfully uncomfortable talking with grownups he doesn't know, or doesn't know well, but he has become very relaxed around other teens. He is a smart-ass, and I worry where this will lead. Of course, he comes by that honestly, although I swear I curb all of that in front of him. Must be genetic.

He has a good heart, and I think he will be a nice man when he grows up.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

places I've been

I don't know why I started this list, but here it is.

The places I've been, outside of my home state:

Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, California, Mexico, Nova Scotia, Belize, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland.

I have also set foot in Iceland and England, although I never left the airports.

Where I still want to go:

Spain, Portugal, Canada, all the rest of the US including Alaska and Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Greece, Madagascar, Costa Rica, the Galapagos, Peru, Ireland, England and Iceland, St John, St Lucia, the Bahamas, Japan, China. Pretty much everywhere I haven't been, I think.

And then I want to revisit all my favorites.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Gonzalez resigned yesterday. Was I the only one who heard a chorus of "ding-dong, the witch is dead" in their heads when they heard the news?? Most of the Texas mafia has gone back to the ranch, so to speak. Other than Cheney, Bush has none of his original gang with him. Now if Cheney would just get arrested for something, say soliciting in the men's room.... that would be the cherry on the sundae for me. Oh yeah, while I'm dreaming, how about Bush getting impeached?

So back to reality. We have a mayoral primary in two weeks. I don't really really like anybody running. I'll still vote, though, and pick the lesser of evils, whoever that turns out to be. As to the BIG ELECTION, hmmmm. I heard Obama on the Daily Show, and I have to say I like the guy more every time I hear him speak. My head still says Hilary is the better choice, if it comes down to the two of them -- I just don't like her much. Doesn't mean she'd be a bad president, though. I revere Jimmy Carter, and look how well that turned out. The only thing I know for sure at this point, is that I will vote for a Democrat in the general election, and whoever the Dems put forth will have to be okay with me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

we have returned!

Paris was wonderful. A welcome respite, a beautiful city, lovely people, magnificent art and architecture, good food.

I have an enormous quantity of pix up at ofoto

Among my discoveries this last week:

despite 25 years of marriage, I still like hanging out with my husband
the French are nice people
Graffiti is everywhere
American CRAP is everywhere (mcdonald's, daddy day care movies, the GAP, footlocker)
City gardens can be beautiful, and beautifully maintained, if the city cares enough
a metro train in Paris and a metro train in Washington DC are virtually indistinguishable
You can have too much good food
Japanese tourists are horrible in groups
a ham and cheese sandwich tastes better when it is a baguette avec jambon et emmenthal
restaurants in Paris do not have no-smoking sections, or no smoking
You can eat like a pig, ingest horribly fatty foods and be reed thin, if you are a parisian woman
hot tea is a civilized custom, available at fine eating establishments everywhere
hot chocolate can be magnifique
you never get tired of good croissants, no matter how many you eat
art transcends
you can walk too much
Rodin was a genius, ditto Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Leonardo, Vermeer
flying still sucks
Iceland looks like a cool place to visit
my child actually likes me and misses me when I am gone
ditto the dog

It was great to go, and it is good to be home.

Monday, August 13, 2007


Go see it. More than once. Then buy it when it comes out on video. No, Neil Gaiman is not paying me to say this.

I LOVED this movie. LOVED IT. I definitely am going to buy it, and when we get back from Paris, if it is still playing in theaters, I will go see it again.

It kept all the flavor of the book, all the heart and soul of the thing. That rarely happens when a favorite book leaps to the big screen. If you don't believe me, wait until you see the trailers for the Dark is Rising. They butchered the book, and they won't get a dime from me.

But Stardust is what a movie can be, if everyone respects where it came from.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

in a dither

I am in a dither today. We are leaving for Paris in 6 days. Now I absolutely LOVE travelling, but I HATE the travel part. I loathe flying. I am terrified the whole time I am in the air. I HATE packing, particulary when I have to limit what I take. My husband and I squabble -- something we almost never do.

Unfortunately, I can't get to all the places I want to go, unless I pack, get on an f--ing plane and fly. I want the transporter created now. I want to step on a lighted disk on the floor, have someone say 'engage' and be halfway across the planet. Then I would get two more days in Paris, because I would eliminate the travel time.

Why do shoes take up so much room? really, how can I go with one pair of shoes? I need sneakers for walking, but can't really wear them everywhere, or with everything. And they have different electric there? or at least different connectors... how much cash should I take? what about pickpockets?

dither, dither, dither.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

summer movies

It's official. I have seen more movies in the last few months than I saw in my first 18 years of life. SpiderMan 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Fantastic Four, Ghostrider, Live Free or Die Hard, The Simpsons Movie, Harry Potter... and more to come: Stardust, Golden Compass, Bourne Ultimatum.

As a child, we didn't go to the movies much. Once or twice for some kid's birthday, once when my father snuck out with a friend and took the little ones to see Goldfinger, and as a teen I saw Star Wars, Silent Movie and Young Frankenstein and Moonraker... not a ton of movies in total.

Now, I can walk to a wonderful old single-screen theater. We go as often as we can. And we can drive to a horrible multiplex that nevertheless gets all the big movies. We go to an anime convention, and get our anime fix in that way. And we rent from the Blockbuster a mile up the road.

All three of us love movies, so it's good quality family time. And we can now discuss what we see together, which has been a lot of fun. Of course, being who we are, there is also food involved. We typically do dinner and a movie, or movie snacks and a movie (popcorn, sourpatches for the kid, raisinets for me...), so it makes for a fun evening. We still struggle to find things we all want to see, or that we all CAN see. We still veto R movies for our son, although I think now it's less because we think he can't handle the content, and more that WE can't handle him handling the content... but for now, we almost always say NO to the R-rated flicks.

He vetoes the G rated films, or anything he thinks is too childish or babyish. So I didn't get to see Transformers, because he thought it was for little kids. No amount of persuasion made a difference. Little kids watch the cartoon, and play with the toys, so NO WAY was he GOING TO BE CAUGHT DEAD going to see it. Yes, we can go without him. But we are doing lots of things without him already, and I really don't want us to spend more time apart if I can help it. Not while he still is okay with hanging out with us on occasion. And I didn't get to see the most recent Ninja Turtles movie, although apparently no one else saw it either. And I didn't get to see Happy Feet. Or anything with animated penguins.

But still, I am HAPPY. I got to see lots of fun fun stuff, and there is more where that came from. MOVIES!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Relief is an astounding sensation. It is like settling back into your own skin, after being stretched too taut. And I am much relieved this week.

I made my presentation to the eduWeb conference. It went well, and it is now OVER. I didn't embarass myself, my institution or my planet. When I do give a talk, this is what I hope for.

I finished Harry Potter, and am satisfied with the ending. I won't do details here, because I don't want to wreck it for anyone. But I am RELIEVED that Rowling didn't botch the ending to this beloved series. I was almost afraid to read the book. I so didn't want to change my perception of the Harry Potter universe, and didn't want to be disappointed.

Otakon went well. There were no disasters or disappointments. My son is happy, happy, happy, and even has cash left over. This is a load off as well. I always worry when my child blows up a single event, magnifying it until it is birthday, Christmas, and everything rolled into one. What if he is disappointed? I know life is full of things that don't turn out, and that those things are always the best lessons. But I enjoy his happiness so much, and suffer with him when he suffers, so WHEW!!! he had fun.

Even the weather has provided some psychic ease. Temperatures have dropped. The evenings have been pleasant. It's beautiful, with fireflies dancing and a gentle breeze....

sweet sweet relief!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

in Communicado

I love to hang out in Communicado (and yes I know it's incommunicado, but it doesn't sound that way!). This weekend is a big one. I turn 45 on Sunday. We go to Otakon, the hugemongous anime/manga convention in Baltimore (22,000 plus attendees expected), and make my child the happiest child on the planet. And Harry Potter comes out!!!

I am significanly more excited about the Harry Potter book than I am about the other events. Not that I am not psyched up for the Con, it's just the LAST HARRY POTTER BOOK. EVER. AND I FINALLY get to see how it ENDS. I am going to read it all on Saturday night, even if I have to stay up all night to do it.

And you know what? When they open that Harry Potter themepark, I'm gonna go. I don't care if it is cheesy and commercial and and and. I am gonna ride the Hogwart's Express, and eat dinner in the main hall. I am, I am, I am.

Talk to you when I get back to reality, gang.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Thirteen years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. Thirteen years ago, my life changed forever. I had no idea on that day how much richer and fuller my life would be because of one tiny little baby.

Today, our son is thirteen. He is half adult, half kid. He is smart, funny, charming. He is sullen and pouty and obnoxious. This is how it should be. No one is the person he is going to be at thirteen. But he is starting to take shape, and I see glimmers of the man he will become. Each day he takes another step toward that future, and is one step less the little boy I know so well.

I love him, I'm proud of him, and I am forever grateful that he came into our lives.

Happy Birthday little one.

Friday, July 06, 2007

the weather still rules

It's interesting to me. We have advanced so far, we send rockets into outer space, we have conquered diseases, extended our life spans, but we still are totally at the whim of the weather.

In the western part of the country, people are suffering from extremes of heat. Baker, CA is going to hit 125 degrees today. 125!!! Parts of Texas saw 18 inches of rain in 1 day. We have drought, floods, catastrophic storms.

We really aren't in charge. We don't rule the planet, the planet rules us. If we muck it up too badly, it can bite back. The things we take for granted -- our safety, adequate water, abundant food supplies -- can all disappear, and disappear quickly. Do you know how to find water? to hunt? grown your own food? make a meal from a handful of rice and beans?

Most folks know more about their cell phones than they do about how to survive. We are spoiled, out of shape, and totally unprepared for a harsher existence.

Makes you kinda wanna take care of the earth, don't it. Like maybe RIGHT NOW. Before it's too late....

Monday, July 02, 2007

All Hail King Shrub

All Hail King Shrub! The Bushlet has once again shown he feels himself above the system, above law, above ALL. He has commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby, with a royal wave of his hand.

What does it take to stop this man?? How can we as a people hold our government accountable, how can we have democracy, when the presidential powers have run amok?

Libby should serve the sentence the court meted out. And Bush should be turned out of office, and perhaps serve a term in prison as well.

Friday, June 29, 2007

all good things

What a difference a few days can make! I was really really down. Work was a grind. I was broke and looking at being broker. The dog was sick. I was worried about my sons grades. I got some odd bloodwork results. My best friend was looking at possibly losing her job. All bad things, all heaped on top of each other.

Now I am sitting on a day full of good things. My friend kept her job. I got a HUGE raise and a new title. My son got all As and Bs on his report card. The dog probably has a food allergy, nothing serious. The doctor says my test results are nothing to worry about.

WOW! I feel pounds lighter. All this mental crap I've been carrying around has just dissipated in the ether. I think I may actually get a good nights sleep for a change. If the universe is listening, I feel truly, deeply grateful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


My father just had a stent put in. He is 68. My mother also has a stent; hers was put in when she was...68. My paternal grandfather apparently died of coronary artery blockage at 69. I am no rocket scientist, but I see a pattern here.

I suddenly feel like I have a ticking time bomb inside of me. I am, knock on wood, very healthy as a general rule. I don't have chest pains, I don't smoke, I don't drink too much (too often). I eat a fairly healthy diet, watch my weight. I don't get enough exercise, but since we got the dog, I do get some walking every day.

But the number is there now, in my head. 68. Sixty-eight. Programmed somewhere in my DNA... or not. Maybe lifestyle can trump biology. Maybe. Maybe being aware of the land mine down the road can help me avoid it. Maybe.

the problem, as I see it, is, maybe not.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Not a typo. Folks at MIT have succeeded in powering a light bulb by electricity transmitted through the air. No wires. No wires AT ALL.

To me, this is amazing, science-fiction, world of tomorrow, type stuff. The idea is that eventually you could power all the electrical items in your home without wires, in much the same way that you can get an internet connection via WI-FI. So no more batteries, no more a/c adapters, no more chargers, for the cell phone, the pda, the laptop, the camera, the remote, etc. As long as you were close enough to a transmitter (or whatever they end up calling it), your stuff would just work.

I really really love this idea. And I love that they made it work. Now where the hell is my teleporter? I want MIT to work on that one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

another school year is at a close

Our son is finishing up 7th grade this week. I find this astonishing on many many levels. I can't be old enough to have a child in 7th grade. I once thought he wouldn't make it through 3rd grade, and here he is successfully navigating junior high. I don't know how we got here -- I swear the little guy was just a toddler playing in a baby pool, and now he can almost look me in the eye.

Being a parent causes a strange sort of time shift. You are suddenly ruled by the academic calendar again. I don't get summer vacation, but our son does. The rhythms of our life change every June, and again every September. We shop for swimsuits, or school supplies. We shift the time we leave in the morning, and the time we get home in the evening. There is an ebb and flow that is almost tidal, each year sweeping in and drawing back out, over and over again.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

music and mood

This morning at work I have been treating myself to an entire day of music. I rarely get in more than an hour or two of listening in any given day, but I felt the need for a jump-start today. So, Stevie Wonder, Kool & the Gang, Doobie Brothers, Dr John, Isley Brothers, Everlast, Eminem, Madeleine Peyroux, the Replacements....

The affect on my mood is immediate, and powerful. I feel energized, positive. I feel like singing and dancing in my little office. I don't, of course, since I dance badly and sing even worse. It's also really hard to code while doing either one.

It is such a small small thing, and yet it makes all the difference. So, why? Why does music do what it does to me? I know there are people who don't really care for music, or even notice it much, but I find it hard to imagine. However it works, it bypasses thought. My internal editor doesn't even stick her little two cents in -- and that bitch comments on EVERYTHING. There is no filter. And the music I like is not cerebral. It does not engage the mind. It is visceral. I feel it.

Whatever it is, however it works, I love it. And I can't imagine being without it.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I have started brushing up on my French, in preparation for a trip to Paris in August. It is amazing how little I retained from my few years of French lessons. I kept most of my Spanish, I think because I see so much more of it on a day to day basis. But French, not so much. I really only see a few menus in french, and an odd phrase here or there in a book or article. And I haven't HEARD any french in years and years.

I really only want to get back to the real basic, tourist level French. We would like the bill, what time is check-out, where is the bathroom. I would like another glass of wine. Yes, dessert would be lovely.

I have about 10 weeks to practice. Hopefully it will be enough.

Friday, June 01, 2007

civil liberties to a point

I read an interesting article today about the legal questions surrounding the quarantine of Jeremy Speakers, AKA the guy with the extreme drug resistant TB. Now the government infringes on civil liberties all the time, and I am the first to cry FOUL!. But not this time. One of the few purposes our government has is to protect its citizens. The CDC exists to protect the populace from outbreaks of disease. How can they do that, if they don't have the right to quarantine infected people?

Do we really want the CDC to have to petition a court before quarantining someone? Can we afford the time that takes? What kind of person, infected with something extremely contagious, would holler about his rights being infringed by quarantine? Sometimes the needs of the many really do outweigh the needs of the one. A plague can wipe out an entire population. The form of TB that Speakers has is nearly always fatal, unless caught extremely early, which is unlikely. His case was only diagnosed by mischance -- he hurt his ribs and had a chest x-ray. Otherwise he still wouldn't know he had the disease, and probably wouldn't, until symptoms had appeared and it was too late to treat. We were all very lucky, including Mr. Speakers. Let's hope he realizes this, and decides not to sue the government.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a new niece

We have a new niece - Hannah. I haven't seen pictures yet, but I already feel connected. Hannah is the brand new baby girl of my much beloved sis-in-law, Sue (my husband's sister). Sue is one of my favorite people on the planet, so in a real sense, what makes her happy makes me happy.

She is also one brave, brave woman. Sue is my age (we are actually 20 days apart in age). She has a husband, a five year old son, a dog, and now, a newborn baby. I cannot even contemplate being a new mom at 44. And being a working mom (a professor and researcher, no less!) on top of it, it takes a level of commitment I guess I just don't have. But I intend to admire it from a distance, and be incredibly proud of Sue and her family as they start their newest adventure.

I can't wait to meet the new addition. Welcome to the family, Hannah!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

the dark ages

Today is my day to attend to women's health care, specifically my own. I swear we are still living in the dark ages when it comes to testing and women. I had a mammogram today, my first in 3 years. Yes, I know I am supposed to have one a year now. Yes, I know the best defense is a good offense. But damn, it hurts! No woman invented this, I swear. To have my boobs pressed between two metal plates and then SQUISHED, just plain hurts. And I know there are plenty of other ways to get the same results or better. CT Scanning, even MRI can be done, but the cost is too high for these to be recommended procedures. So, millions of women go through a brief, but rather brutal process once a year.

In an hour, I am back to the doctor. This time for a pelvic exam and pap smear. There has to be a better way... I wouldn't go at all, but my health insurance refuses to refill my birth control pills unless I go have this done. Something about it being a few years since my last appointment. Time flies, you know. I mean to go in regularly I really do. Somehow I just convince myself it hasn't really been that long since it was done. Maybe we should collectively contribute to a medical scholarship for someone to come up with better, more humane testing for women. I shouldn't have to feel battered and bruised by my preventive healthcare, and neither should you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

odd experience

Yesterday I went to the grocery store after work. Normally I go on the weekends, very early in the morning. By normally, I mean each and every single week. I am a creature of habit, and breaks in my routine really mess me up.

So I went to the market on the way home from work. And we (my son and I) shopped in a very crowded store. And we stood in line. And we got 2/3rds of the way through checkout when I reached into my wallet for my store card and debit card.

And FOUND NOTHING!!! no debit card, no credit card, no store card. Nada. I ran out to the car and searched my back-pack. Nothing. My heart started racing. I was really really freaked out. I went back in and asked if they would take a check. Yes - I was saved the mortal embarassment of having to leave a very full cart of groceries at the register.

I wrote my check. The nice man checked my drivers license and ran my check. Then said it was rejected. So the customer service manager had to come over. The line behind me was really long, and really disgruntled. I was totally embarassed. The man said he would go ahead and take my check. It turned out, that because I had never written a check at that store before, I had a $100 limit, which I exceeded.

Everything turned out okay. We got our groceries, we were only slightly humiliated. But the odd, panicked, dislocated feeling was so intense. Had I become that reliant on electronic payment? What would I do without a bank card? I am so used to not even thinking about cash. I have a bank card. I have credit. So I am good in all situations. Except this one.

I found all my cards when I got home. They had fallen out of my wallet during a purse switch. So I can go back to my all-electronic ways...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

thank god I don't write for a living

Thank god I don't write for a living -- I'd STARVE. My blogging has become a truly sporadic thing, as real life intervenes.

To catch up:

I finished my Ethics class, with an A. I learned a lot, worked fairly hard, and am generally pleased with the whole experience.

My parents are still going through the initial stages of a divorce. My 68 year old father has moved in with his 46 year old girlfriend. Oddly, she is the well-off successful one, in a flip of the usual scenario. Go figure.

Mom is struggling with the prospect of suddenly becoming an adult, at age 75. I opened her her very first bank account this week. She will have to pay bills, submit her taxes, handle maintenance on the car and house. She will have to decide what to eat and when, who to see or not see. She has NEVER done any of these things, so she has a tough road ahead.

I got a 4% raise, very large by Hopkins standards. However, our son's tuition went up by 6.5%, healthcare went up by 2%, and I now have to pay the full ride for parking at work ($110 a month to park in a HOPKINS garage). So it's a pyrrhic raise --flattering, but useless in the large scheme of things. Still, I am happy to get it.

The husband is doing well, as is the son. I love both of them very much, and I APPRECIATE them even more, as I navigate the mess in my "birth family". More and more I think you get two families, your birth family, and the family you create as you grow, made up of the people you choose to love. I am truly rich in the second category -- my choice family is wonderful.

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

thanks, gang!

I am really touched by the number of good wishes, e-hugs, and just plain caring in response to my last post. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have such wonderful people as you in my life.

Thanks for everything!!!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

I want Ozzie and Harriett

Are you ever grown up enough to not feel like a child with your parents? I am sitting here wishing I felt strong enough, grown enough, to let my parents just be two people I know, and not two people whose actions profoundly affect me. Once again, they are in marital turmoil. My mother is borderline suicidal, completely hysterical. I haven't spoken to my father, but at the moment I am not sure I want to.

The background: my father is out of town at a jazz festival. The day after he left his girlfriend called my mother, to announce her existence. She called every day, several times a day. She was upset, because she believes my father is with another, different girlfriend. My mother did not know my father was cheating. AGAIN. My father has called to confess, now that he has been caught out. He is not particulary contrite. He initially agreed to marriage counseling, but has called back to say he doesn't know that he can do that.

My mother is 76 years old. She has no job skills. She has no income. She is in poor health. My father is 67. He is also not in great health. He has very little income, and much of it is not documented.

I am trying not to judge who is right or wrong here. Their life is a mess, their marriage problems their own. Except. Part of me is feeling 11 years old, finding out about my father's first affair. That time was a long term one, with my mother's best friend. A woman I called "aunt" and adored. I feel angry all over again, feeling that my life has been turned upside down.

I was supposed to host a joint birthday party this upcoming weekend for my father and my mother-in-law, who share the same birthday. I don't know if I can do it now. My mother wants me to have the party, but she will not attend. She doesn't want anyone to know why. I don't feel particularly like celebrating, and I can't really tell people why I am cancelling, if I cancel.

I am freaking out that I may have to support my mother, with whom I have a rather uncomfortable relationship. I have visions of future holidays, all minefields of hurt feelings. How do I explain to my son what is going on with grandma and grandpa? I know my mother is really hurting. But I also know she is a difficult woman, and I have never understood how my father has hung in all these years...I feel guilty for not being more sympathetic, and for being focused on how this all affects ME and my family.

I want Ozzie and Harriett to be my parents. I want a Norman Rockwell kind of life. I want to wake up and have this all be a bad dream.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

the Ashley Treatment

Ashley is a nine year old girl from Seattle. According to a recent Hastings Center Report, she has "a severe brain impairment that leaves her unable to walk, talk, eat, sit up, or roll over. According to her doctors, Ashley has reached, and will remain at, the developmental level of a three-month-old."

The Ashley Treatment refers to the medical treatment recently given to this girl, at the request of her parents. She has had her uterus and breast buds removed. She is given high-dose estrogen. All of this was done to improve the quality of her life. The estrogen keeps her small (currently 4 ft 9). She will never have the discomfort of menstruation. She will not be the target for sexual abuse, her parents believe, because she will never have mature breasts. It will be easier to move her around, easier to strap her in a wheelchair.

Her parents have publicized the Ashley Treatment because they believe it might benefit other parents caring for severely disabled children. I have extreme sympathy for her parents, and I agree that the treatment may have benefits for Ashley because she will be easier to care for, and that can't help but lengthen her life. And frankly,they deserve to ease their burden.

I am concerned about the medical ethics of the doctors who agreed to perform these procedures. When a patient cannot make decisions for themselves, doctors have some degree of responsibility to ensure that the best interests of the patient are being served. All of their interests, not some. Ashley is mentally a three month old. This makes her no different than a 3 month old infant, or a 90-year old with advanced Alzheimer's. Would we remove the breasts of a 90 year old woman, out of convenience to her caregivers? Would we put a 3 month old baby through elective surgery to remove her uterus so she never has the discomfort of menstruation? Ashley might be easier to care for without arms and legs, which she doesn't use anyway. But no one is arguing for amputation.

It is a slippery slope that the doctors are going down. Elective surgery for the convenience of caregivers has a whole host of implications. Does anyone remember lobotomies -- they made mental patients much easier to care for.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

school's out for the summer

No, not for our son. For ME. I finished up my ethics class last night. I turned in a fairly bad term-paper, but I am DONE. Now, here's the thing. I absolutely LOVE school. My brain feels like it is waking from a long slumber, and I feel more alive as a result. BUT. I am tired, tired, tired. Who knew one class a semester would be the tipping point for me? I think I had about 2 hours free a week before, and now I'm like 10 hours a week over my limit. I am constantly behind in my reading, doing assignments at the last minute, and not as well as I could with more time, skipping research time at the library. I am SQUEEZED.

I am not taking any classes over the summer. But I'd really like to take 2 classes a semester if I could. Otherwise I will be hard-pressed to finish the program in the allotted time (I get 5 years to complete my 9 classes and portfolio). I just don't see how, though.

for today, I am just going to enjoy the child-like sense of freedom that comes with the words "schools out"!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

free speech??

You knew I would eventually get around to this one, didn't you? Don Imus called the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy headed hos". He has been fired, after a public uproar. I am not sure how I feel about this.

I think his comments were unexcusable. The girls did nothing but excel. They did not deserve to have their achievements diminished by a very public slur. They were owed an apology, and they received one, with very good grace.

I think Imus' employers were being hypocritical in the extreme. They pay the man to be nasty, they pay him to say outrageous things, and they have profited by it. Now they fire him for what he has been doing all along.

I hate his style of radio. To me, a microphone is not a license to be a pig. "Free speech" isn't really free. People fought and died for it. I doubt they imagined the way that phrase would be used as a shield for intolerance, bigotry and general ugliness. And free speech ends where you do real harm to others. It doesn't allow you to say anything that pops into your head. The concept applies to the exchange of IDEAS. It is supposed to protect citizens from government oppression, not to protect asshole talk show hosts from being boorish to pump up ratings.

A co-worker of mine had an interesting spin on the Imus comments. Her feeling is that his comments were fine, because the comments were nothing that African-Americans are not already calling themselves. My reply was that it is equally wrong when 50 Cent does it as when Imus does. People shouldn't allow themselves to be treated that way, by anyone. And that kind of behaviour shouldn't help anyone line their pockets. Why buy records that denigrate you? Why idolize men who call you a ho? Hopefully the conversation on this will continue, and perhaps some real change will come from it.

We really could do better. Maybe try treating each other with dignity and respect, see what happens. Who knows -- we might just like it.

Monday, April 09, 2007

we're back

Tennessee was really really nice. Here we are at the base of one of the waterfalls in the park.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

scary on so many levels

Homeland Security OIG Issues Report estimates over 600,000 Fugitive aliens in U. S. whereabouts unknown.

From The Department of Homeland Security Office Inspector General
(DHS OIG) report...

In the report fugitive apprehensions are prioritized as:
"(1) fugitives posing a threat to the nation;
(2) fugitives posing a threat to the community
(3) fugitives with a violent criminal history
(4) criminal fugitives
(5) non-criminal fugitives."

"As of August 2006, the Office of Detention and Removal Operations estimated there was a backlog of 623,292 fugitive aliens.

Therefore, fugitive aliens constitute about 5.4% of the estimated illegal alien population"
It is frightening that we can't find 600,000 people. It is more frightening that we have an "office of detention and removal operations". And downright terrifying that we have "Homeland Security". What next -- loyalty oaths? Arlen Specter suggested today that we establish a domestic spying agency, like the British MI-5, since we can't trust the FBI to spy without violating innocent people's rights. Lovely, just lovely.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I love Baltimore, Reason #202

Saturday, we had a truly wonderful experience. We took two large boxes of books that we had weeded from our collection and dropped them off at the The Bookthing. The Bookthing is a Baltimore non-profit. It gives books away -- free, gratis, no charge. No strings attached. After we dropped off our books, we went inside and browsed the shelves. We were very well-behaved, only picking up 6 books between us. But the experience was amazing. It is set up like a used bookstore, with virtually no staff, and no cash registers. People come in and are encouraged to take as many books as they want. The only thing they ask is that you sign the log, telling how many you take. The day we went, the high total on the sheet was 73 books to one person. The "store" used to have a 10 book minimum (i.e. you had to take at least 10), but they have relaxed the requirement because they didn't want to scare off potential readers.

They are getting all my cast-off books from now on. And I will send them checks when I can, so maybe they can fix the leaky roof. A terrific idea like this should be supported.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Rove gets subpoena!

Well, the political universe is getting interesting. Karl Rove is going to testify before a small senate committee on the firings of federal prosecutors. In particular, they want to examine his role in getting rid of politically inconvenient prosecutors and replacing them with "true-blue Bushies" (his term, not mine). And Gonzalez might, just might, be on his way out. The White House has started work on a short-list of potential replacements, but are still saying they stand by Gonzalez.

The president believes it would harm the presidency if his aides are questioned. I think he has harmed the presidency throughout his time in office -- how much more damage could be done by finding out the truth?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

like I won something

I have a son. A gifted 12 year old. He is incredibly incredibly bright, but seriously learning disabled. Last week he had to read a book for a book report. For many kids this is not such a big deal, but in my house, it can be huge.

So, I picked him up from school last week. He says he picked his book for his report. He is going to read Snow Falling on Cedars. I couldn't believe it. I asked why, and he said he thought it looked interesting. Well, he read it. I mean, really really read it. And understood it. And liked it.

I am so unbelievably proud -- I feel like I won something. Although I think maybe we both did.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Real Women

I am swamped with work, and should not be blogging. But I really couldn't resist a quick round of applause for DOVE. Their REAL WOMEN ad campaign is wonderful! Actual, real people, with perfectly imperfect bodies, in all their beauty. We were watching Ghostrider the other day, and saw one of their advertisements on the big screen. I actually watched the commercial.

It is amazingly refreshing to see these women held up as beautiful -- instead of the usual anorexic, model-perfect folks we usually see.

visit for more on this...

Friday, February 23, 2007

35 days until vacation

I have 35 days until we leave for a family vacation. I am actually counting down the days. Once again, I have let myself get depleted and exhausted to the point that my vacation becomes my light at the end of the tunnel -- the only way I keep moving.

This year is very different. We are going on a family vacation, just my husband, son and I. We have rented a beautiful cabin [indoor jacuzzi, hottub, pool table, plasma tv, granite counter kitchen, so cabin seems a misnomer], in the Smokey Mountains. So, in an improbably turn of events, we are heading to Tennessee for vacation. Specifically Gatlinburg. I intend to read, rest, read, rest, eat a ton, get lots of fresh air and exercise, spend lots of time canoodling, and get to know my kid better while he still talks to me.

I also hope to figure out why I keep repeating the same old work patterns. I find a job that suits me. I settle in and proceed to turn it into a larger and larger job until it becomes more than one person can handle. I start out being useful, and end up indispensable, in a really not good sort of way. In that "I don't know how we will get through a week without you here" kind of way. The stress becomes too much, and then I start looking for another job. Then I repeat the whole damn cycle again. And again. I really think I need to figure this out, or end up repeating it forever.

Monday, February 19, 2007

still breathing

Yes, I am still breathing. I have been so busy, I haven't been able to think, much less blog. So what's been going on...

My new work website launches next week. For a sneak peek, go to I am going crazy with beta testing, data cleaning and the other hundred million things that go into launching a website.

I am still struggling with the dreaded Hopkins One. For those that don't know, Johns Hopkins just converted a huge number of disparate legacy systems into SAP. This affects all of our financial operations, our human resources, payroll, all that good stuff. And it has not been a mega-success, at least not yet.

School is under way. My class is Theories of Ethics, and our textbook is Moral Philosophy. It is really interesting, but the reading is a struggle (Hobbes, Plato, Socrates, Rand, Herodotus so far). All lecture, with two papers to do.

We've been busy with our son's social life, our dog's social life, our own stuff. At least we're not bored.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

the Watada case

I have been following with interest the case of Lieutenant Ehren Watada. He has refused to go to Iraq, and is the first officer to do so. Initially, I felt he was completely in the wrong -- he is employed by the military and can't pick and choose his assignments.

But on further reflection, I have done a complete reversal. Officer Watada feels the war is illegal, as it was based on faulty and inflated intelligence information. As an officer, he committed to among other things, "refusing to participate in illegal military actions". We expect our soldiers to refuse any order that is illegal. Nuremburg pretty much ended the "just following orders" defense, and made it an obligation of all soldiers to consider their orders in view of their legality.

Officer Watada offered to serve in Afghanistan, so he is not using this as a dodge to avoid combat. He also offered to resign. Both offers were rejected. A military tribunal also refuses to hear any defense that involves using the legality of the war as a basis, effectively convicting Officer Watada before trial. He has vowed to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. But in the meantime, he will most likely serve 4 years in a military prison -- for doing his duty and taking his pledge seriously.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Congess is remembering what its there for

Barbara Boxer said yesterday that Bush should read the Constitution, because he is missing a key point -- Congress is there as a check against presidential power. Congress has the power to stop the president when the president tries to exceed his authority; they not only have the power, they have the obligation. So while he might be the "decider", he is one by permission only, and that role can be taken away from him by vote of Congress at any time.

I would like to see them make it nearly impossible for a President to command an attack against another nation without having to declare war. This is how more recent Presidents have skirted the issue, by creating "police actions" (Vietnam), to "anti-terrorist activities" (Iraq), wars in all but name. If we are going to send soldiers to fight -- it's a war. If we bomb from air or sea, it's a war. Call it what it is, and go through proper channels with the proper checks and balances set in place.

Make it a big and scary thing, fraught with political risk, to have to ask for, and get permission for the exercise of military power. Because it is a big, scary thing for a country to do, and it should not be taken lightly.

Friday, January 26, 2007


I am just plain puzzled. The new mayor of DC, Adrian Fenty, has announced his plan to take the homeless to the movies. Yes, you read that right. He is going to take 100 homeless folks to see The Pursuit of Happyness. Let's hope he buys them popcorn.

I really don't get this. Is he trying to draw attention to the homeless problem in DC? Does he think the film will inspire the homeless of DC to become stockbrokers? Is it just a photo op?

The newest statistic on the homeless population in DC is troubling. 66 percent of the DC homeless population are high school graduates. And more than 40% of them are EMPLOYED. Next time your kid says he doesn't want to go to college, point that statistic their way. Read another way, though, and these statistics show promise. It means that with the right help, the right services, there exists potential to get many of these people off the streets and into housing.

Maybe Mayor Fenty will get some ideas for this while he is at the movie.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

and so it begins (again)

Tonight is the first night of the new semester. My class is Theories of Ethics, with Dr Stephen Barker. It is not the course I originally signed up for, Mesoamerica and the Pueblo Indians, but that course was dropped for low enrollment. I think this course will be more challenging, and more of a stretch for me.

I am a pretty fuzzy thinker. I run on intuition most of the time. So sometimes I have NO IDEA why I think what I think, or why I believe what I believe. Digging at a topic like Ethics, in a logical, intellectual sort of way is going to be difficult. I hope it will be interesting too.

OF course, the start of a new semester means the chaos descends upon our household again. Hopefully it will be a little easier, now that we have the puppy in daycare a few days a week. Yes, daycare. Yes, for the dog. Yes, I am now officially one of those crazy "dog people". I draw the line at sweaters and boots for the dog, though. And Halloween costumes. No costumes. I think.

Well, keep your fingers crossed, and let CHAOS REIGN.

Friday, January 19, 2007

words have power

I just went to Hopkins annual Martin Luther King celebration. For those who don't know, Hopkins has, for the last twenty-five years ,put on a program in honor of Dr. King. It is a special day, and I look forward to it every year.

This year, the invited speaker was Dr. Maya Angelou. What an amazing, truly amazing, woman! I was spell-bound. And she reminded me, quite forcefully, that words are a powerful tool. You can change the course of a person's life with words. Through your words, you can do great evil, or great good.

I took away several lessons from today. We all have a charge to better ourselves, and to better the world in general -- otherwise we are squandering the one thing we are all given, a lifetime. We all have courage -- use it. If you don't like the way the world is run, say so. If you don't like what your elected officials are doing, protest. But don't whine. It diminishes you and accomplishes nothing. It doesn't even make you feel better. And remember the power of words, to hurt or heal.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

where I started

Recently I've been thinking about where I started out. What got me moving in that direction was my son. I look at his life now, and invariably I think about my own childhood. It is so very very different. I wonder what that will mean for him in the future. He has everything he needs, and virtually everything he wants. He is happy most of the time.

My childhood was different. The house I lived in when I was small had two bedrooms and 1 bathroom, for 5 people. I remember having to go to the bathroom and trying desperately to hold it while someone was showering or bathing. I remember taking a bath once a week, with my sister, because a)water wasn't free and b) it tied up the bathroom. My sister and I shared a room until I was 10. We were luckier than my brother, who didn't have a room. He slept in the family room; his bed was tucked into one corner of the room. He didn't have a door, but we did put up a bead curtain to separate that room from the living room.

We had to hang our wash up to dry -- we didn't have a dryer. When it rained, I had to run out and pull the wash from the line and bring it in. I hated doing that because the wet laundry was so heavy, and because I had to stand on tip-toe to reach the line.

We always had enough food, but we were constrained by our budget. I remember being told not to drink milk, and just put enough on my cereal to wet it. And don't add milk if you had a second bowl of cereal. At dinner, there was enough for someone to have seconds, but not everyone. Whoever was fastest got it. I am still a very rapid eater. We did not eat out. I had virtually no experience with restaurants until I went to college.

We went to the beach once a year. We would get a tent from the Navy (always some old Army surplus thing that was moldy) and camp about an hour outside ocean city. Later we bought a third hand pop-up camper and pulled it behind the car. It was also moldy, but we loved it. It was so much more comfortable than a tent.

My sister and I went to public school. The schools were fine. We didn't have kindergarden, so we just started with day one of first grade. We didn't know our alphabet, didn't know how to read, but we could count to ten. No one ever read to us. We didn't have any books. Later we had the BookMobile, which was a godsend. It came to our neighborhood once a month to spread literature to the poor folks. You could check out 4 books. I would finish them the first day.

It wasn't grim. We had a lot of fun. Our neighborhood had parades and holiday parties. We had easter egg hunts and visits from Santa. We had a community dock. It used to be possible for working class and struggling folks to live near the water, and we did for a while. We ice skated on the creek, went sledding. My folks went heavily into debt and put in an above ground pool; so we swam a lot.

There were things I hated. I always had second-hand clothes from friends or neighbors or had to shop at 2 Guys. For those who have never experienced this, 2 Guys was the kind of store that didn't have dressing rooms. And the clothes weren't on hangers, they were in big bins, you just sort of rooted through. My mom would make us try things on in the aisle.

I had a sled (from Goodwill, with someone else's name on it). I had a bike, from a friend of a friend. It was so much too big for me that my dad strapped pieces of two x fours to the pedals so I could reach them. I had skates (from the Goodwill, two sizes too big). I coveted anything brand new. I wanted stuff from a good store, where they waited on you (or so I had heard).

I never really valued what we had, although in looking back, we had enough. My parents valued money above all things, and I knew we didn't have that. It was their measure of success, and so we were failures. I was raised to feel LACK and to strive for material success.

I am struggling now to fight my upbringing, and to use a different yardstick for my life. I HOPE I am passing on to my child that material stuff has little meaning. I hope he is getting value lessons, not just having his basic needs met.

I really want to do better by him.

Friday, January 12, 2007


No, it's not important in the grand scheme of things. It doesn't much matter, unless you are a fan. But here in Baltimore, it counts. Tomorrow, the hated Indianapolis Colts come to town for a playoff game. The city is more excited than if the pope was coming, or the president.

It's payback time. Yes it's been years and years since Irsay snuck our team out of town in the dead of night on Mayflower Vans. Yes we should be over it. And NO, we're NOT. Today my boss was wearing a purple Ravens t-shirt, with UNITAS across the back. That pretty much says it all. It's not that they took the team away -- it's that they took the NAME, and the HISTORY with them. In the record books, Johnny Unitas played for the Colts, not Baltimore. The chamionships, they count for Indy, not for Baltimore, even though they were won here, in front of Baltimore fans.

Tomorrow is big. I'm sitting in an office full of people wearing the Ravens purple and black. The lights at City Hall are purple. At 10pm, the light up signs near the stadium are going purple. Because its more than football -- it's PRIDE in our city on display.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

chilling words

"All lawbreakers are susceptible to being detained or taken care of in this campaign."

--Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense, in a press conference this morning

Reading this sent a chill down my spine. I know I am probably being over-dramatic, but this kind of statement scares the bejeezus out of me. I think it's the phrase "taken care of" that reminds me of some Mafia Don. I can imagine Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, saying "your problem, its been taken care of", with a little dismissive hand wave. It's not really what I want to hear from a representative of our government. And I am sure it was a carefully chosen phrase.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

afghanistan, iraq, somalia?

You can forget a lot at my age, particulary in a span of several years. But I thought we were fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. Then we were routing out WMD in Iraq. Today, I read that we sent gunships and war planes to Somalia. Yup, Somalia.

Now, I am pretty sure we didn't declare war on Somalia. But apparently the government there says it OK by them if we bomb the crap out of some of their folks. Besides, the deaths were MOSTLY muslim extremists. An occasional newlywed, a 4 year old, well those were "collateral damage" -- you know, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs...

What the hell are we doing? If we suspect you of terrorist activity, look out. If you are extreme in your non-Christian religious views, better buy a bomb shelter, cause we are gunning for you.

I do not understand how Bush got carte blanche to do whatever the f*ck he wants to do with our military. I thought you had to , I don't know, get permission or something before you start dropping bombs on other countries... Or is the "War on Terror" so all-encompassing that the Dipshit in Chief can do anything he wants, as long as we are shooting at "suspected terrorists"??

I really think secession is beginning to sound like a good idea....

Friday, January 05, 2007

but she dresses well

We're gonna file this one in "is it just me, or does this bug anyone else?" Nancy Pelosi was just elected the first woman Speaker of the House. This is a wonderful milestone, full of social import. I opened the newspaper yesterday (The Baltimore Sun) and it chose to run a multi-page article on the new Speaker of the House. About her clothes! Apparently she dresses very well, very fashionably.

Why, oh why is this news? In this day and age, when we are celebrating the advancement of women in politics, why is it still important how the lady dresses? What are her issues? What is her agenda? How will she unify Democrats and Republicans in Congress? To me, those are issues. That she buys nice suits, and looks nice in them, is not EVEN on the LIST.

If we elect a woman president, are they gonna write about her HAIR? her makeup? her looks? Are we ever going to see equality in press coverage? Where does George Bush buy his suits? are his cowboy boots fashion-forward or a faux pas?

We can do better than this.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Gerald Ford

Gerald Ford was a good man. He didn't seek the presidency, but he filled the office when called upon. He pardoned Nixon, even though it was an unpopular thing to do, because he knew it was what the nation needed in order to move on.

Yesterday I saw a few minutes of his funeral service. Our nation's leaders, past and present, showed up to honor this decent man. I was struck by the irony of two voices in the long list of speakers: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Both owe their careers to Gerald Ford. Both lauded his integrity and his decency in their eulogies. Both cite him as a mentor.

WTF??? How can you move so far from your mentor that you are his polar opposite, and yet still claim his influence and laud his virtues?? Lightning didn't strike either man, though I was waiting for it. Is it possible they see themselves as following in Ford's footsteps?

Gerald Ford gave one last interview a few months ago. He asked that it not air while he was alive. In it, he criticizes his proteges, and the war in Iraq. He did not want to interfere with current policy, but he wanted his opinion on record for posterity.

I wish there were more Gerald Fords in the world of politics, and far fewer Cheneys and Rumsfelds.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

HAPPY 2007!

A new year, a fresh start. I began as I always do, bleary-eyed, low on sleep, and raspy voiced. And as always, I begin with good intentions. I will get fit this year, I will lose ten pounds, I will be more understanding of foibles, my own and other's. I will seek enlightenment, and retrieve my sense of humor from the ash heap on which it has descended, etc etc etc.

What usually happens -- I am good with my diet for a few weeks; I exercise half-heartedly for a week, I am patient for a day or two. We'll see what happens this year.

I hope for health and happiness for me and mine, and the same for you and yours.