Sunday, December 28, 2008


The RAVENS DID IT! WE are going to the PLAYOFFS!!!! I thought we might win 4 games this season, 6 games at the outside. Instead we are 11-5 and playoff-bound.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

what recession??

I went to Towson Town Center today to return a few xmas items. It took 20 minutes to find a parking space. Then I tried to go to Abercrombie & Fitch to return a pair of pants for my son. According to the folks at the end of the line, the wait was going to be over an hour. I have never seen so many bored teenagers in one place before (outside of school, of course). I decided I'd try some other time, and headed over to Macy's. I went up to the housewares dept, figuring that I would return my gifts and then buy something for the kitchen. I had gift receipts, so I figured this would be a no brainer. Except that the incredibly snippy man at the counter wouldn't take my return. I said I wanted to shop housewares, so it made sense to do my return where I wanted to shop. "At least take it down to the right floor!" he snapped. So I stomped down to the first floor, and made my returns. Which had to be processed as two separate transactions, despite the gift receipts, because the upc code was missing on two of the items. Then I had to supply my driver's license. And then my change of address card. For a return! I felt like I was being treated like a criminal, not a customer.

Finally though, I had success -- two macy's gift cards in place of merchandise I didn't want. Of course, I used up all the free time I had, so I will have to go back later to redeem them.

The mall was insanely crowded. Every store, the food court, the parking lot. Tons of people carrying lots and lots of packages. Every kiosk was packed with people. The phone stalls were even crazier -- I guess phones were a popular gift this year.

And the people working in these stores were clearly overwhelmed, and understandably, fraying around the edges. Still, in a year when retail sales were slow, you would think that every single person at the mall would be trying to provide stellar service to encourage people to shop. I didn't feel like anyone was trying to encourage me to shop -- rather the reverse.

Don't people know there is a recession going on?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men

In the spirit of the holidays, I wish you all

joy, peace, prosperity, serenity

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

define "good"

A recent poll shows that 34% of Americans thing Dick Cheney is a good vice president. And 1% think he is the best VP. Who ARE these people? How do they define "good"?

Dick Cheney is the anti-christ. He is the worst vice president ever. He is both intelligent and evil, a potent combination. And yes, I really mean it. He is an EVIL man. He has sold this country for his own profit and that of his friends. He is a war profiteer who first manufactured the war he then profited from. This is the man who said torture was ok. And when asked about it again last week, he said, yup, its still okay in his book.

34%? What planet do these folks live on?

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Ho, Ho, Ho -- I'm done the Christmas shopping!!! I am DONE, and with 3 days to spare.

We topped off our final shopping trip with a visit to the Miracle on 34th Street. For those of you not from Bawlmer, this is a street in the city that really does up Christmas. Every rowhouse on the street is smothered in decorations and lights. They string lights across the street from the rooftops on both sides. There are revolving lights, inflatable snow globes, all sorts of moving displays. There is a Christmas tree made entirely out of hubcaps (!). There are lots of pink flamingos. Christmas trees, candy canes, christmas music piped out onto the streets. The residents pay for all of this themselves, and they don't/won't take donations to help defray the costs of running this light show. They turn on the lights the day after Thanksgiving and they run until January 1st.

I love it, and it always puts me in a holiday mood. This year we both walked the block, and then drove through. Totally different experience. The walk through let us see the little details we never catch in the car. The drive through gives you the full impact of the whole street as one display. Awesome!

Friday, December 19, 2008

RIP, Majel Barrett

Majel Barrett Roddenberry passed away yesterday. Somehow she seemed to be a "forever" sort of person, always been there, always will be.

Makes me sad.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

office rituals

Our office has a lot of rituals, particularly at the holidays. Today we had the annual holiday breakfast. We have breakfast together. It used to be cooked by the accounting staff, and me. We have 40 people in the office now, and we have outgrown a meal cooked on-site without a kitchen. We now have a catered spread. The desserts/sweets table is still filled by the office staff. Everyone brings in something, and then we eat the leftover cookies and cakes for a few days.

The big event of the breakfast is the white elephant game. Each person who wants to participate buys a gift in the $20-$25 range. You wrap it, bring it in and put it on the white elephant table. Then we draw numbers to determine the order of play. The first person opens a gift from the table. The next person can either take the gift from the first person, or unwrap a new one from the table. If your gift is "stolen" you get to pick another one, from the table, or from another person's open gift. The next person can "steal" from any of the people with gifts already opened, or open a new one. A gift that changes hands twice is deemed safe and can't be taken again. So there is some strategy, a lot of laughter, and occasionally you end up with something you really like as your gift.

What's funny to me are the unwritten rules of the game. For instance, you don't pick your own gift from the table, or steal it when its your turn. Even if no one knows you bought it, you don't pick it. And while "stealing" from each other is part of the game, and encouraged, you have to do it a certain way. There can't be anything personal to it, and it has to be good-natured. So how do the rules get communicated? We all know them, but how do new staff learn them?

It's like knowing what's a "good" gift for the table. You can tell gifts bought by new staff, because they don't fit in. So how do we all know that votive candle holders are good, but ear muffs are not? That a bottle of fancy booze with a nice glass in a gift box is perfect, but a case of beer would not be.

We also have secret santa for a week. If you play, you draw a name, and buy that person a tiny gift a day for 5 days, and then a $20 gift to deliver at the breakfast. You have to keep it secret, and if you know someone's secret, you can't tell. And you are supposed to leave a note on your mailbox, thanking your secret santa (even if you didn't like the gifts)... and you should try to make sure your person can't guess you. And you should try to find out what they like, and personalize the gifts...

It's office lore, and office ritual. And we all learn it somehow, and participate in it, and reinforce it. ? Is it because the office is almost all women? do offices full of men have the same kind of thing? Are we more of a group because we share this stuff?

Monday, December 15, 2008


I would like to see us, as a people, stop using legalese. Why do we say "arguably" before we say something is the best, or the worst? Why is every criminal "alleged" even if they were caught red-handed? Why do I need a disclaimer on my pop-tart?

The fear of being sued is everywhere. It is why kids don't play dodge ball in school. It is why we say "Happy Holidays" instead of "merry christmas". I have to sign waivers so my child can go on field trips. It is why I can no longer give a real job reference; I can verify dates of employment and salary, but cannot say the employee was wonderful, or is somebody I wouldn't hire again under any circumstances.

I receive 50 or 60 emails a day with a disclaimer at the bottom, saying the person's opinions are their own. Who else's would they be??

How did we get to this point? and how do we make it stop??

Friday, December 12, 2008

end of year, out of steam

It's that time of year again. I ran out of steam before I ran out of days. Burned out. Rudderless. Unable to summon up the mental energy to tackle anything really substantial.

Today I couldn't remember who created the Chthulhu mythos. HP LOVECRAFT for gods sakes. I couldn't remember Lovecraft. I let the dog out and forgot he was out there. He didn't mind, but still... I forgot like six different things today. I made pancakes for dinner. Whole Wheat pancakes. Which my family doesn't like, but I forgot that part.

I am so glad the holidays are coming and I can get a few days of non-work. Not really rest, because you know how the holidays are. It's fun, but busy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

a good thing

WRNR, alternative radio out of Annapolis, is organizing its music library. So for as long as it takes, starting December 1st, they are playing the entire library in alphabetical order by song title. This is the most awesome treat! The sheer oddity and musical whiplash is wonderful enough, but to hear music you had forgotten and loved, or had never heard and wish you had, is just sweet. This morning we heard Mexicali Blues,by Bob Weir, followed by Mexican Radio, by Wall of Voodoo. How great is that?

There have been bizarre clunkers, but all in all, this has been delightful. I wish I could listen to radio all day long. Unfortunately we have a strict no-streaming policy at the office, and are in a radio-dead zone. No reception and no way around it.

It does make the drive time sweeter.

Monday, December 08, 2008

now that's hitting below the belt

I could handle the concept of the US having only the big-two automakers. I could handle the idea that some stockbrokers were out of work. I could handle the idea of bailing out banks.

BUT this -- this is hitting below the belt! Archway Cookies went belly up. I cannot believe how personally I am taking this. No one bailed out Archway. I *loved* those cookies. The apple filled ones, especially.

and no, I am not joking. The idea of a world without Archway hits me much more deeply than a world without GM or AIG....

Friday, December 05, 2008

silver lining moments

A few silver lining moments in a tough stretch:

mortgate rates are dropping, so we will be able to re-finance and save some money

we bought GM stock at $3.50 a share, and it's worth more than that, even if they go belly up

our families understand when we say we are cutting back this Christmas

prices are dropping on all kinds of things we do buy

The Palin campaign spent EVEN MORE money than they admitted to earlier on clothes, hair and make-up for Sarah

Thursday, December 04, 2008

school daze

We are in one of those periods where the scales are all tipped toward school. I have a term-paper due on Monday. 15-18 pages on Chretien de Troyes' Erec et Enide. I should make the deadline, but I won't really know until Monday.

This Monday, our son had a shadow day at Towson Catholic. The kids were nice, the staff was nice, but the school really wasn't for him. He felt his current school was much better and academically stronger. He wanted to apply to another local school, Friends School. So I contacted them, and they do have openings for 10th grade in the fall. But we would have to jump into application mode quickly. So, we did the online application, signed him up to take the ISEE exams in January, and got our transcript and reference request to his current school.

In the meantime, we had to apply for financial aid for the fall for the current school, in case he doesn't get into Friends. So more paperwork, all with time deadlines. W-2s for last year, last year's taxes, online stuff. Ugh!

Then we got a notice that parent-teacher conferences are next week. So I ended up with an appt for Monday afternoon. So I will have to leave work, attend the conference, go pick up the dog, go home and eat, and rush off to my last class of the semester.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

back to it

I am back to work today, after a really nice stretch of 5 days off. It is always hard to adjust to being back in work mode after a break. I had tons of email waiting to be answered, phone messages, an assistant who called in sick (and really is sick, so maybe no help tomorrow either), and just a ton of STUFF to deal with. What I wanted was to be needed, but in a less obvious way.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

revelling in the mundane

I have been revelling in the mundane this week. We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my mother-in-law's. We went for a long walk on the C&O Canal towpath, me, my husband, our son, our dog and my mother in law. Lovely weather, and a truly nice way to work up an appetite for our turkey feast. My parents came over for dinner with us and it was nice to see them.

Yesterday, my husband and I went hiking with the dog. We went to Liberty Reservoir and did half of the Middle Run Trail. Only half, because the 2nd half of the trail involves crossing 3 streams on foot (removing socks and shoes and walking in the ice cold rushing water). We decided to turn back at the halfway point rather than take the dip in the water. We'll do the other half of the trail in the spring, when the water will seem a treat and not a punishment. It was gorgeous hiking, and the weather cooperated nicely, with temps in the low 50s and lots of sunshine. The dog also got to meet a horse for the first time. He seemed relieved that he wasn't expected to chase it.

This morning, I dropped my husband and the dog off at the park for a hike, and I went to the JHU library to pick up some books for my term-paper. The paper is due no later than the 15th, so I have to dig in, and fairly quickly. I got a great parking spot, and had the stacks to myself. Younger students don't get up early on Saturday mornings, so even the guard seemed stunned to see someone actually come in the doors.

When I got home, I took the child for a haircut. Since he has wildly curly hair at the moment, and tends to wear his hair over long and un-brushed, it was necessary. He loves the place we go, Sports Clips. All the stylists are cute girls in sports jerseys. They not only cut his hair, but give him a warm towel for his face and a neck and shoulder massage. Getting him to agree to a haircut has been much easier since this place opened.

We went this afternoon to see Quantum of Solace. We all agreed it was a good addition to the Bond canon. Craig is a much more menacing Bond than the previous incarnations, but it works. I was excited to see the Star Trek preview, although I was apparently alone in this opinion. The kid wants to see Angels and Demons, since he just read the book.

Tomorrow we are going to celebrate my husband's birthday with a trip to the Walters to see an exhibit of jewelry, and then to the Hamilton Tavern for onion rings and burgers.

It's been a great few days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

hunger in America

I drive home from work through a section of East Baltimore; it is not the worst part of the city, but it is close. As I turned onto North Avenue, I was confronted with a huge traffic jam. In 6 years, I have never seen more than 2 or 3 cars at that corner. Today there were hundreds. And hundreds of people standing in a line snaking around the Diakon Center. I was annoyed. I had to change lanes quickly, and all these people were lining up for what? a sale? a concert? a church event?

Nope. I flushed red as I realized what it was. Those hundreds of people I had just been pissed off at, those folks were lined up for food. It was a Thanksgiving food donation pickup. They were all hoping to get a turkey, some canned beans, instant potatoes.

On the news this evening, I saw a story about that line. Ray Lewis has a foundation that runs the food giveaway every year. This year demand was much much larger than usual. And he was there, handing out food, giving hugs, a few words of encouragement. The news then did a piece on other food banks across the country. The need is huge, but the pantries are nearly bare. A farmer in the Midwest opened up his farm to anyone who wanted to come and pick over what was left in the fields. He expected a thousand people. What he got was 40,000 people willing to spend all day digging in his fields for some potatoes, some carrots, a few onions. He hoped his idea would catch on with other farmers. I hope so too.

This time of year is hard on people. If you can spare some cash, some cans of food from your pantry, a few hours of your time at a foodbank or soup kitchen, whatever you can do, please help. It can be so little to one person, and so very much to someone else. Our office is doing a food drive, and we have adopted a single mom with six kids for Christmas. Our son's school will do a holiday food drive as well. Our local theater is doing a showing of It's a Wonderful Life with admission being a donation of food for our local food pantry. Our local grocery store has $1, $3 abd $5 food donation coupons at the register; you can just add a buck or two to your grocery tab to help buy food for others.

I all too often focus on what I haven't got. Today I got a little reminder that I have EVERYTHING. 1 in 8 people in America, 1 in 8, is going hungry today. I am not one of them. But I know I easily could be, and I know I can help those who are.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

a little maternal pride

I am experiencing a surge of maternal pride. On my refrigerator is a report card -- a report card with 4 As and 2 Bs on it. This is an amazing performance from our rather slacker son. He turned in his homework. He passed exams. He had a good attitude and decent behavior. WHOOO-HOOOO!!!

I am also impressed by his reaction to two recent screw-ups. In one, he hid a kid's camera. She was taking pictures of him, and he kept asking her to stop, and she wouldn't, so he hid her camera in the classroom. He felt bad about it. And called her to apologize.

In the other, my parents called and left a message with him. He "spaced out" and forgot to tell us. So we got a rather unhappy call this morning, asking why we hadn't returned their call... Our son heard about the call, suddenly remembered the previous call, and felt terrible. So he called them this morning, to explain that it was his fault, that he had not given us the message, and to apologize.

Kids screw up. Grown-ups screw up, and deal with the consequences. I like the way the kid is growing up. I really truly do.

Friday, November 21, 2008

citizen on patrol

Last night, my husband and I met up with a neighbor and did our first "Citizens on Patrol" walk. There has been a surge in petty crime (theft from vehicle, theft from garage, etc) and not so petty crime (armed robbery, burglary) in our area. It appears to be mostly the work of teenagers, and several arrests have been made. But rather than sit around and fret about it, we decided to take the Northern Police District's advice and start community patrols. We have some folks who patrol by car, late at night. Some folks are doing a daytime, afternoon patrol. And we are walking, with dogs, in the early evening.

It's not a huge time commitment, basically 1-2 hours per week. The dog loved it. He got a walk in the evening, and we went down alleys and really dark streets, which he thought was cool. Even better -- there were also other dogs to walk with.

Other than being a visible presence, and preventing crime by just being around, I am not sure what value this all will have. But it is exercise, it is pleasant for the dog, we meet new neighbors, and we show we care about the neighborhood. All good bennies, even if we achieve nothing more tangible.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

an attitude adjustment

Our generation is about to get a serious attitude adjustment. Over 10 million people are out of work, and these are just the ones who haven't given up looking. Large chains are going bankrupt, or closing their doors. The big 3 automakers may soon be the not-so-big 2, as GM is hanging on by its fingernails. Prices are dropping, but no one is buying.

We might end up learning the lessons previous generations learned the hard way.
Make do. There is a huge difference between "need" and "want" Put a little aside for a rainy day. If you have to buy it on credit, you can't afford it. Eat what's on your plate. Fix what's broke. Do without.

Will we start saving string? planting vegetable gardens? Canning in the summer? taking car repair lessons? Sewing our own clothes?

We have been a truly spoiled generation. We have always had vacations, and dinners out. We have always had jobs. We had insurance, and endless credit.

I think that maybe, just maybe, we are living in interesting times.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

rewarding bad performance

I have this on my mind today -- how did we get to the point where we reward bad performance? What got me thinking in this direction? Two things - AIG is going to award 500 million dollars in deferred bonuses and compensation to its executives, and our government may have to bailout the big 3 automakers. AIG says the money it's doling out is to keep talented executives on board to bail out the company. It also says the money is not the same money that the government just bailed them out with, but a separate pool of funds. If they had 500 million dollars lying around, why did we have to bail them out? And the executives in question helped screw up the company, so are they really such quality folks that AIG needs to reward them to keep them on board? Bascially they are heaping rewards on folks that screwed up, and screwed up royally.

As to the automakers, I see that we have no choice but to help them out. The US economy is hugely dependent on the businesses downstream and upstream of the auto makers that rely on them being in business, and too many jobs are on the line. I get it. I just don't like it. They have sat on their hands, built cars we didn't want, that didn't meet our needs, often with terrible quality thrown into the mix. And we responded by taking our business to foreign auto makers. And they still didn't respond with better cars, more fuel-efficient cars, more desirable cars. And now they will get bailed out for being bad at business.

I recently did some car shopping on line. I couldn't find a single american auto that met my requirements. Not one. And I wanted to. Not only didn't I find anything, but the deals aren't there either. Toyota is offering 0% financing, on cars that get great gas mileage and have superior ratings. GM is offering employee discounts, high finance rates, and cars with fairly mediocre ratings and so so gas mileage. I'd like to help out the team by buying American, but I can't afford to do it. I just can't take the repair bills, the higher monthly payments and the higher gas bills. So, while our government, and corporate management can afford to reward poor performance, I can't. I have to reward my purchase dollars to the companies that do the best job.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

old friends

Yesterday we went to a friend's daughter's bat mitzvah. It was a very nice event, lots of sweet moments. It made me think about the value of old friends. Our host has been a friend of ours since our college days. Her sister was also there, and also a dear old friend from college. Seated at our table was yet another old buddy and his wife (a new buddy).

There is something special about shared history. You have the same reference points. You get the same jokes. We look older, we've all been through many changes over the years. And yet, magically, two seconds after we all get together, we are somehow 20 again. Sweet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

people are weird, part two

According to AP reports, a priest in South Carolina is telling parishioners they must do penance if they voted for Barack Obama. They may not take communion until penance is done, because supporting Obama "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil". This is because Obama is pro-choice.

The priest is the Reverend Jay Scott Newman. His parish is in Greenville, SC. And it seems to me that he is requiring his parishioners to disclose how they voted -- a democratic NO-NO. They will get to do so in the privacy of the confessional, but as a former Catholic, I can tell you that the priest knows the voices of his parishioners and the confessional is not that private.

He is going to deny a sacrament of the Church to people based on how they voted(!!!!) As if the only distinguishing characteristic between Obama and McCain was their position on abortion. Or that the issue of abortion was the only issue that mattered.

It makes me sick.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

grown up decisions

Sometimes I hate being a grown-up. Seriously. The day to day stuff doesn't bother me - I enjoy it.

It's the big stuff that gets me down. Should we keep our car? Is it time to trade it in on a new one? Which is better financially? Can we afford it? Can we afford not to do it? Should our son stay in his small private school? or go to the large public city high school? or something in the middle? What's best for him? How much should his opinion weigh in the decision?
Should I try to move into administration? get out of hands-on tech? Take 1 class this semester or two? should we get another dog to keep ours company? how long can we wait to replace the roof? shingle the house?

It's so much easier to focus on the small stuff. What to have for dinner? what to wear to work? do I want a snack? is there time for a nap? which book should I read next?

I think I'll procrastinate for now....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I want my bailout

The financial bailout was designed to purchase troubled assets so that corporations could move forward and resume normal lending and operations. Today, Paulson announced that no troubled assets would be purchased. 350 billion dollars have already been doled out, without spending one cent on its primary purpose. The government has purchased stake in several banks, and "hopes" they will resume normal lending. "HOPES?" Why the f**k wasn't this a stipulation as part of the bailout? Why weren't conditions put on the money?

I feel like we aren't getting good value for our money. And it is OUR money, let's not forget. I feel like sending the government an invoice. If the bailout is not going to be used as intended, I want my share back. In cash. Now.

I think that's fair, don't you?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

progress is not a straight line

Progress is not a straight line. I am reminded of this from time to time. We just elected Barack Obama president; a great leap forward for diversity. And Proposition 8 passed in California -- a great step back for diversity. Progress is incremental. We inch forward. Sometimes we cannot even measure the distance we've gone, but still its there. Only when we combine days and years of minute moves do we see the real picture. Go back 150 years. A fraction of a second of world history. And women can't vote. Blacks can't vote. Our kids go to school with their "own kind". We marry our "own kind". No one knows anyone who is gay. Well, the two sweet ladies down the street have been room-mates forever, but.... The progress is real, it's there -- it's just not as fast as we want. We're not where we need to be. But we will get there. Inch forward. Get one person, just one, to understand we have so much more in common than we have differences. Write one letter to an editor. Call one congressman. Vote in one election. Progress is not linear. It's just one. one foot in front of the other, day after day after day. Just ONE.

Monday, November 10, 2008

conquering a bias

I will fess up that I have always been uncomfortable with enormously fat people. I mean really really obese folks. Now, I don't mean that I don't like them, or haven't had fat friends, or anything like that. I mean I have a visceral/aesthetic negative reaction to fat. And I have always been ashamed of by bias, my bigotry in this.

So imagine my surprise last night when I was confronted with a HUUUUGGGGEEEELLLLYYYYY fat person. I was channel surfing and caught the first episode of a show on the Style Network, called Ruby. This is a reality show (I know, yuck!) about a woman named Ruby trying to lose hundreds of pounds. Yes, hundreds. At her heaviest, Ruby weighed over 700 pounds. This woman is gorgeous. Seriously beautiful, despite hovering in the 500 pound range... And she is charming. And fun. And you can't help but want her to succeed. Amd within 15 minutes, I pretty much forgot she was fat.

So maybe I am making progress. If I beat this bias, I only have one real major one left -- ignorant people. But I doubt that's gonna go away anytime soon.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

omnivore's hundred

Thanks to I have a new list game to play -- omnivore's hundred. Anything I've eaten off the list is in bold. I did okay, but not as well as I would have thought considering what a food addict I am.... and I noticed I hit all the blue-collar/white trash highlights (hostess pies, spam, big macs)

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian -
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam -
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Friday, November 07, 2008

odd convergences

I have noticed that certain dates seem to be what I call "convergence" dates. By that I mean they have some quality that leads them to be attractive to event planners.... November 15th for example. There are about 10,000 things I want to do, all mutually exclusive, and all scheduled for November 15th. We are going to go to a bat mitzvah, and to a high school fair [baltimore city high schools showing what they offer to potential students]. But we are missing a neighborhood workshop, a concert, and a host of other activities in exchange.

We will have weeks with little to do, and then these convergence dates, where we are struggling to decide the relative weights of all the things scheduled for that date....

Perhaps it's that I want to do everything, and that's just not possible. Or that it's part and parcel of city living, because stuff is always going on. I don't know. I just know I hate having to choose, because as soon as I do, I'm missing something....

Thursday, November 06, 2008

it's not bursting my bubble

It's not bursting my bubble, at least not yet, but.... Ted Stevens is ahead by 2% in the Alaskan Senatorial race. Yes, Ted Stevens, convicted felon. Ted Stevens, disgraced Senator. They still have to count all the absentee ballots. But he could win. And if he does, guess who gets to appoint his replacement, since he will not be allowed to serve? If you guessed Sarah Palin, in her role as Governor of Alaska, you would win it in 1. Now here's the kicker. She cannot select herself. But she CAN resign, and let her Lieutenant Governor select her as Stevens' replacement. Which would give her a Senate seat, and a shot at gaining 4 years of the experience she was criticized for lacking. UGHH!!

And no, I didn't come up with this scenario myself. Rachel Maddow discussed it on her show, and said the tactic had been used once before -- in 1939.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

YES, WE CAN and YES, WE DID!!!!!! I woke up this morning, still amazed. Against all odds, Barack Obama is the president-elect of these United States. I just watched his victory speech. I cried. Literally. I was so moved by his words, by his vision, by his inspiration, that I sat at my desk and I cried. I am so proud of our country, so proud of my fellow Americans for ignoring the attacks, the distractions, for choosing hope over fear. And for the first time in a very long time, I feel connected to the process, connected to the other voters.

For years I have felt like an outsider. My values were not the values of our leaders. I was not a "real" American. I was disloyal, unpatriotic, a traitor. Pick a perjorative. I did not think in lock-step with the conservative tide, and so was less a citizen than they were.

But now, I feel a renewed sense of purpose, and a renewed sense of hope. There is unity and peace within our grasp. We really are the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

dispatches from the REAL America

I just spent some time in the REAL America. To be specific, I spent a few hours in Govans, in line at Govans Elementary School, in Baltimore City, in the state of Maryland. Govans is considerably poorer, and blacker than Sarah Palin's REAL America.

What I found were hundreds of people, patiently waiting in line. It felt like a celebration. People taking photos of the line, asking others to take pictures of themselves in line. A few people got discouraged and tried to leave, but we clapped and shouted encouragement until they got back in line. At one point, an elderly gentleman, who could barely walk stood looking at the line, with a discouraged look on his face. A good samaritan near the head of the line offered the man his spot; he would go to the back of the line in his place. The crowd wouldn't let the good samaratin give up his place, we just said let the older man in line. And that's what happened. No one grumbled, no one said no. We would all wait together.

I made some good friends today (Vernice, Allan and Victor, it was a pleasure!). We talked, laughed, encouraged each other, and shared our hopes for the future. Later, after we voted, we shared hugs and well wishes. Allan took a picture of his ballot in the booth. And he asked the polling judge to take a picture of him voting. She happily did.

They even had certificates of participation for those who wanted to commemorate the event.
So this is the REAL America. Where people were excited to vote, where people were united by a common desire. The REAL America is better than the last 8 years, and it wants the world to know it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

hopes and dreams

I have a lot of hopes and dreams for America.

Perhaps tomorrow, some will begin to come true. I am hoping that we become a nation that other nations can look to as a model for how a country should behave. I hope we respect the Constitution again; civil liberties are not optional, they are fundamental. I hope we learn to use diplomacy instead of war. That the children of America get a first class education, regardless of their parent's education or economic standing. That no one in this country is starving, or homeless, or hopeless. That basic medical care is available to all.

I dream that the American Dream, the idea that each generation can improve on the one before it, is renewed, not just for some Americans, but for ALL Americans.

So today, I wish, I hope, I dream, I pray, that Barack Obama is elected tomorrow. And that this country can regain it's dignity and spirit, so we ALL might move forward together.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

sunday routine

I love my Sunday routine. I get up, make my shopping list, go to the grocery store. Once I get home, and everything is put away, I usually do the dishes. Then its laundry time. I do all our laundry for the week on Sunday. I cook my oatmeal for the week, make my tuna salad for lunches, bake a cake or some muffins. I watch football and do my homework. I read the Sunday paper. I cook something time consuming for dinner. Tonight it's roast chicken, string beans, wild and long grain rice and crescent rolls. Yum. This sets us up to use the rest of the chicken in chicken tamale pie, and red beans and rice with chicken.

It's a very full day, but I like the way it's home centered. And I love the feeling of setting up the coming week: clean clothes, lunches, breakfasts.

this week's oatmeal: steel-cut oats, with cinnamon and raisins. I'll add almonds right before I eat it, so they stay crunchy.

this week's tuna salad: tuna, hard boiled eggs(no yolks), diced pickle, celery, green pepper, shredded carrot, mustard, mayo

dinners this week: roasted chicken with rice and string beans, chicken tamale pie, red beans and rice with chicken, baked ziti with turkey sausage, carryout pizza

Friday, October 31, 2008

getting down to the wire

The election is getting down to the wire. We have less than a week to go. I am nervous about the outcome. I think it's because I'm a Democrat, and so I am used to imploding at the last second. The October Surprise, the fatal mistake, the horrid photo op. Whatever. I care too much about the outcome this time to be complacent.

Please make lots of time in your schedule to vote on Tuesday. I have taken a 1/2 day of precious vacation time, just to make sure I can vote. Don't think your guy is so far ahead that your one vote won't matter. The size of the victory also matters a great deal in the ability of the next president to push his agenda.

There is also the spectre of miscounting, dirty tricks, etc. By showing up, creating a crowd as witness, we might avoid some of the worst violations of election laws. And the dirty tricks are already showing up: A flyer has been distributed in Hampton Roads, VA telling people that because of the overwhelming turnout expected, they are asking people to split voting days -- so Republicans should vote on Nov 4 and Democrats should vote on November 5th (!!!) This kind of crap worries me. The flyer looked official, and really could fool some potential voters.

VOTE!!! and maybe hang around with your cell phone outside the polling place for a while, make sure nothing sleazy is happening in the process....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

changing the way I shop

I am a recent convert to coupons. Never used them before, as my time is too important to waste for a few cents, etc. But while I was home on sick leave, I watched a woman on Oprah, a lady called the Coupon Mom, get over $200 worth of groceries for $37. She wasn't smarter than me, she didn't spend hundreds of hours to get the deals, but she had a system that works. I went to her website Coupon Mom, read her e-book about her system, and signed up. I have reduced my grocery bill by over 25% and it takes me 15 minutes a week. I know I sound like one of those cheesy infomercials, but seriously... It doesn't cost anything, and it is mostly common-sense. It just never occurred to me to put any serious thinking into grocery shopping. It's just something you do, right? Another damn chore on the list.

It isn't just coupons... it is timing. Planning menus and buying based on what is on sale, and then using coupons to further reduce the cost. The coupon mom website is tied into local sales circulars (in our area its giant food), so you can generate your grocery list from the database, and then she tells you what coupons have come out that match your list. Really quick and easy.

I normally spent $180- $200 a week at the grocery store. Since I started this system, I spend about $120-$130. We have had no decease in the quality of our meals, or in the healthiness of what I make. It takes me an extra 15 minutes a week to use the coupon mom system, and then the normal meal planning time I take deciding what I'm gonna cook for the coming week. Then I do my grocery list. Saving $50-$60 a week is not enormous, but it does help offset the increase in our heating oil bill, and in our tax escrow bills.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

red carpet moment

Today we went to the Senator Theater for a very special premiere. The Steve Yeager's Young Filmmakers Workshop was showing a number of short films, 5 documentaries, and the feature presentation "Obscured by the Night". Our son did graphic design work, and green screen editing for the feature film. So today, he got a limo ride, a short walk on an even shorter red carpet, and a chance to see his work on the big screen. And at the Senator, that's a really really big screen. It was kind of a charge to see his name in the credits. And it was a bigger rush to see people buying the film poster he made. He doesn't want to pursue film work -- he's totally dedicated to video game design -- but it was a nice experience anyway.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I could have been Sarah Palin

I realized yesterday that I could have been Sarah Palin. If it weren't for a certain intellectual curiosity, a voracious reading habit and some education, I could have been just like Sarah.

It's a blue collar story, I think. Until I was ten, we lived in a solidly lower middle class (veering to lower class) neighborhood. Girls wanted to be majorettes and mommies. Boys wanted to play baseball and then maybe do construction or join the army. Scouting was pretty big. All the men, except my dad, hunted during deer season. Getting a BB gun was a rite of passage. Everyone went to church on Sunday.

And certain values were instilled early. Take anything that's free. Don't get caught. If you get knocked up, get married. Don't be too uppity, don't be too smart.

It's the recent news stories about the $150,000 campaign wardrobe, and billing Alaska for taking the kids on official state business that got me thinking about the values, the lifetstyle I grew up with. Because to my adult eyes, what Sarah did was WRONG. On so many levels. But in the culture I grew up on, it would be, of course you would do that. What idiot wouldn't run the bill to the max when someone else was paying? If they said go get some decent clothes, and they told you to get what you wanted, what girl wouldn't spend $150,000? If you could wiggle the rules and get five nights in a hotel instead of 1, why wouldn't you? If you could say drawing a raffle ticket was state business, and get to bring your kids along at taxpayer expense, well, why not? It's the same culture that views slipping on a store floor as akin to winning the lottery. Cheating is fine, if you don't get caught. And it's not stealing if it's taking from the gubbamint -- hell, it's all your money, innit?

So you see, I could have been this woman. Really I could. Luckily for me, fate intervened, and I learned to read.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

class warfare?

Apparently, people who make more than $250,000 per year do not consider themselves to be wealthy, despite being in the top 2% of all income brackets. A writer for the Baltimore Sun received many irate emails after a column discussing Barack Obama's tax plan, which would increase taxes only for this top 2% of earners. Mostly, the complaints were of the "by the time I pay the mortgage, 3 kids private school tuitions, etc, $250,000 is not wealthy" school of thought. I think the complainers missed the point. Private school tuitions are a luxury. A large house with an equally large mortgage, ditto. The fact that you spend everything you make does not mean you aren't wealthy. 98% of american families make less; some much much less. If you make $250,000 a year, you are indeed fortunate. That you might be taxed on your good fortune seems to anger many in that bracket. I don't get it. The phrase "you can't get blood from a stone" seems to come to mind. Who is going to pay taxes? People who have no money for food or shelter? People in bankruptcy? People making minimum wage? The money has to come from somewhere. Consider your taxes "civic karma". In this case, the tax burden is not equal. But it is fair.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bravo, Christopher Buckley!

Christopher Buckley, son of William F Buckley, endorsed Obama the other day. He was promptly allowed to resign from the highly conservative National Review (which his father founded). He has also received thousands of hate letters from conservatives for his "betrayal" of the conservative movement, and his betrayal of John McCain. At the beginning of the campaign, Buckley had endorsed McCain, a friend since 1982.

But he found over the last few months a changed McCain. One who had let his defeat in 2000 change him profoundly. He found an angry man, willing to betray all principles to get elected. He questioned the judgement of a man who would select Sarah Palin as his running mate.

His endorsement came via The Daily Beast, not The National Review. He didn't feel it was appropriate to use a conservative forum to make his endorsement. In the end, it didn't matter. His principled stand still cost him his job as the back page writer for the magazine. BTW, he says it's not that he left the conservatives -- its that they left him. The last 8 years reflect no true conservativism; just poor judgement, a lack of ethics, and a willingness to suspend the constitution.

So, from the bottom of my heart, BRAVO!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Poverty

There is enough for all. There really is. But only when you look at "all there is" from a global perspective. Where there is a shortage of something in one place, there is an abundance in another. Only when we truly see ourselves as one world will we ever really tackle the problem of poverty. When our consciences will no longer allow a child to starve to death while we have 3 cars in the driveway, when we can't abide people sleeping under a piece of cardboard while we decide where to vacation this year, when the idea of anyone making ten million a year disgusts us, while others slave away to make a dollar a day, then we will see poverty disappear.

If we are willing to get by on a little less, so that others can have a little more, then we can make poverty disappear. It's not a huge thing. At the end of the month, I have no money left. But when I really look at it, another ten dollars here or there, diverted to charity, would make no difference to me, and the world to someone who needs it. I am not wealthy. I can't change the world. But I can do my part, and so can you. Skip a pizza once in a while, and give the money to the foodbank. Take coffee from home instead of buying it at Starbuck's and give the difference to Modest Needs. Rent one less movie a month. It's all small stuff. But if everyone who could do it, would do it, we can make poverty disappear.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

always look on the bright side

I had my gallbladder surgery. I feel tons better. I lost 14 pounds while I was sick, which puts me within 4 pounds of my goal weight for weightwatchers. I didn't do it the way I had planned, slowly over a year and a half, but it does put me on the right path. I had to use up my sick leave, but my elbow feels better as a side benefit. I spent way too much time watching daytime TV, but I also learned how to use coupons effectively to trim my grocery bill.

I missed two classes, but so did a lot of other folks. I had time, so I finally replaced my bifocals, and can now see clearly for the first time in months. I feel less stressed out, more rested and my mood is improving by leaps and bounds.

so, always look on the bright side of life... (with a nod to Monty Python of course)

Friday, October 10, 2008

an eye opening week

This week has been an eye opener for me, on a lot of different fronts. I discovered that I can get more work done in much less time when I work at home. While I missed the social aspects of being at the office (I really do enjoy my co-workers), I could get all my work done in half the time at home.

I discovered I loved the pace. I had time to take our son to school, come home, have breakfast, work a few hours, eat lunch, play out back with the dog, work a few more hours, go pick up my son in car-line (meaning no after-care for him), come home, work another hour or two, cook an early dinner. I felt relaxed, less clock-bound, even though I really was as "on the clock" as I am at the office.

Our son loved the week. He had a much shorter day, since he came home at 3:15pm instead of 5:30pm. I wasn't as tired so I was in a better mood when I picked him up.

A lot of my stress comes from the perception of control. When I perceive my time is not my own, I feel stressed. When my financial issues seem insurmountable, I feel stressed. I am happy, calm, relaxed, when I have the illusion of running my own ship, steering my own course.

So, clearly, for me the best of all possible lifes is one where I can make my own time decisions. I have to get my finances in order, not so that I can become wealthy, but so I can have the freedom to control my time.

Monday, October 06, 2008


OK, now I'm pissed. Apparently Palin has been sent out with instructions to launch personal attacks on Barack Obama. She says he "pals around with terrorists", that he doesn't feel about America like we do. The terrorist, William Ayers, was one of the founders of the Weather Underground, in the 60s. When Obama was a small child. His association now? They were on some neighborhood committees together. They are neighbors. Their kids go to the same school. WOW. Maybe Ayers will sue for libel.

This is getting ugly. McCain has a long history of bad behavior, which to date, Obama has classily ignored. If they keep attacking him, he is going to have to attack back, and we all lose by it. McCain is desperate, and therefore dangerous. And Palin seems to enjoy her role as the "barracuda". It's only a matter of time until the womanizing, the Keating 5, the loss of 5 planes, etc gets splashed on every newspaper. And then we will be back to the racial slurs, the "hussein" cracks, and the un-american rumors swirl again. The country really doesn't need to be more divided as we lead up to this election; it really doesn't.

Everybody take a few deep breaths. Remember who we are, and what we really want. Hell, read the golden rule a few times if it helps. And please, let's not go down this path.

Friday, October 03, 2008

post op update

I had my surgery on Monday, and was home on Tuesday morning. The surgery went well, and I should be feeling much better in a few weeks. My diet is already much much better. As of today, all restrictions were lifted. I had cereal with skim milk this morning, and I had a sandwich (with mayo on it) for lunch. Oh boy!! Honestly, a simple sandwich was like heaven. And I had instant mac and cheese for dinner last night. Sublime.

The only troubling thing is my reaction to the CO2... for those who don't know, when you have a laparascopy, they pump up your abdominal cavity like a balloon, filling it with CO2. This makes it easier for the surgeons to move around. Unfortunately, it causes hideous pain post-op for some people, in the form of shoulder pain. My shoulders hurt 10 times more than my tummy (which has several holes in it). I also look like I'm 4 months pregnant. Once this lovely side affect is gone, I should feel tremendously better.

I took all of this week off from work (!) and am going to work from home next week, as much as I am able... The week after that is our big migration to Outlook 2007 and Office 2007, and I absolutely have to be back at work to handle this.

The BEST thing about this whole process has been the warm wishes, the cards, the calls, the flowers, just the general concern from friends, family and co-workers. I'm very lucky to have so many warm and wonderful folks in my life, and this week has been a terrific reminder of that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

true blood

I am a huge fan of Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series. I have been waiting eagerly for the HBO series, ever since it was announced as a project. I even signed up for HBO on Demand, just so I could watch the show. I have now seen the first 3 episodes, and I *love* it. It isn't a 100% repeat of the books, but it is really really close.

At first, I was really disappointed with the casting. How could little Anna Paquin play Sookie Stackhouse? But she does a great job, and now I think they couldn't have picked anyone better for the role.

My only disappointment is that I can't watch these with our son -- way way too much very explicit sex. It really borders on soft porn. Good soft porn, mind you, but still... not watchable with the kid. Which is a bummer. I try to watch when he is otherwise engaged, just so I don't have to make a big deal of turning it off when he comes into the room [yes, it is that explicit].

The other bummer is that, because I watch through HBO on Demand, I can't see an episode until AFTER it airs on HBO. So the show is on Sundays at 9, and I can't watch until at least Sunday at 10pm. Usually I end up watching the following Saturday afternoon.

It's worth it though. I am curious as to whether folks who haven't read the books would like it as much, but for me its a kick to see them come to life. So to speak.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

cynical SOB

McCain is one cynical SOB. Seriously. I thought his Palin pick was a cynical, manipulative move. But the latest -- let's suspend campaigning so I can go solve the financial crisis -- now that's CYNICAL. Does he really think folks will buy it? That his single voice is needed so badly in Congress, that he alone can pull people together, that he can't spare a couple of hours to debate?? WTF?? He doesn't have the answers, and he has shown he has no ability to build consensus. Hell, his own party doesn't even love him. WOW!!!

And he looked like the cat who ate the canary when announcing it. I could just see him thinking "checkmate" over his latest move. What a SOB!! There was a time, a few years ago, when I thought he wasn't so bad. He was a moderate, and one of the few voices in the Republican party to be in favor of abortion. Now, he is a panderer. No positions to speak of. He'd sell his mother to get in office.

How do people not see through this??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

no more blank checks

The new mantra - NO MORE BLANK CHECKS!! After 9/11, the administration was given sweeping, undefined powers. This led to chaos, war in Iraq, the loss of civil rights, torture and a huge deficit. Now the administration is asking for more sweeping powers, this time over our financial institutions. NO MORE BLANK CHECKS!! I can only imagine, and shudder at the image, of Bush and Cheney and the other little bushies running amok on Wall Street. Rewarding their friends (remember Halliburton?), and punishing their enemies. They can do a tremendous amount of damage between now and January 20th. And the system is too frail to survive it.

I would rather see Wall Street take a beating, and the Dow drop to 9,000 than I would to see Bush and Cheney with free rein. Yes, I know that is harsh and a lot of people will suffer. But truthfully, if we fund a trillion dollars without oversight of any kind, a lot of people will suffer and maybe nothing will get fixed.

Washington helped create this mess, with the Bush doctrine of "hands off". Let companies do what's best for themselves and our economy will prosper, and the individual will benefit with more jobs, better jobs, etc. Yeah, right. That worked so well. Let's do more of that. Give them big checks, and let them sort it out. They'll do what's in our best interests.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

my diet

The doctor asked me today how I was managing on my ultra low fat diet. She was amazed at how low I had gotten it. So what am I eating?

for breakfast: steel-cut oats cooked with dried berries. I make a batch on Sunday and it lasts through the work week. On the weekends, special K or rice krispies with fat-free milk.

lunch: fat-free soup (split pea, veggie, lentil), an apple or a peach, water

dinner: it varies. I have been eating egg-beater omelettes with veggies, more fat-free soup, toasted whole wheat pitas (also fat free). I've tried whole wheat, low fat pasta with canned fat free sauce, but its not very good. I've also tried salads with honey and balsamic vinegar, which isn't bad, and I've been eating a lot of fresh tomatoes.

evening snack: fruit, prunes, I tried making fat-free home made popcorn, but it was vile. I just made a batch of fat free no pudge brownies, and I can have those.

What's missing: dairy, meat, protein, healthy fat. I also had to cut back on beans, since I'm having GI issues anyway.

I have stopped dropping weight (I think). I've lost 8 pounds in two weeks, but my activity level has now dropped to almost nothing so I think that's gonna stop completely.

It's been interesting, and has shown me how dependent I am on foods for my mood, my social activity, my relaxation.

Monday, September 22, 2008

go ravens!!

Yesterday was a great day for football. Watching, not playing. I felt like crap, had a ton of laundry to do, homework, etc. So a day on the couch watching, not 1 game, but 2, was a complete joy. Adding to it was that my team WON, and won pretty for a change (when they manage to win, they usually win ugly).

The Ravens are not a great football team. But yesterday they looked pretty damn good. I know it may all disappear next Monday, when they have to play the Steelers, but for now, I'm gonna savor the win.

Friday, September 19, 2008

talking out of both sides of his mouth

McCain is now contradicting himself daily. "The fundamentals of the economy are sound." And the next day -- "I meant the american worker, the small business owner, in the sense that those are our fundamentals, those are sound." Hmmmm. I can't think that anyone believes that 2nd statement/clarification. The day after that - "If I were president, I would fire him [the SEC chairman]"

McCain is on the record as being opposed to government regulation of business and industry. So he wants to write tighter regulatory rules.... and fire the chair of the SEC for not interfering more. I mean he says that now, now that he is running for office and there is a financial crisis.

This guy is frightening. Even for a politician... and I assume a certain level of bad behaviour out of folks running for office. They do need to appease the electorate enough to get into office. But come on -- this is just too too much.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

on the home front

I have scheduled my gallbladder surgery for Sept 29th. It is outpatient surgery, but they are going to keep me overnight, because of my known propensity for up-chucking after anaethesia. Right now, I am on antibiotics. Hopefully this will make me feel a bit better in the next couple of days.

I have been a total bitch for a week now. I blame the diet. The ER doctor put me on a NO-FAT diet. Not low fat. NO FAT. This is nearly impossible. I have tried to keep below 3 grams per day, since 0 is out of the question. I mostly eat fat free soup, fruit, veggies and no fat, whole wheat pita bread. It is miserable. I had toyed with the idea of becoming a vegetarian before this, and I still might, but right now - I miss meat. I realize I might not if I was able to have nuts, soy products, olives, things like that. But as it stands right now, I would almost kill for a steak. Or a piece of fried chicken. I was in an elevator yesterday with a woman holding a steak sub, and another with a plate of fries. Niether woman knows how close she came to being mugged for her food. The smells were making me drool.

I also seem to have no energy at all. I don't know if it is caused by the severe drop in calories, the lack of protein, an iron-poor diet, or just being ill. I do know that I don't even like taking the long walk down the hall to the bathrooms. And I haven't taken my lunch-time walk in over a week.

On the plus side, sort of -- I have lost 8 pounds on the diet from hell.

Anybody want to go out for diner food when this is all over???

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

high fud factor

The news today has a HIGH FUD FACTOR. With Lehman Bros bankrupt, Merrill Lynch sold, and AIG teetering on the brink of collapse, the DOW dropped over 500 points yesterday. I am, frankly, frightened. For various reasons, I am not in the financial shape to weather serious economic hard times. We have some money put away, but not enough. And our retirement accounts are taking a beating. Expenses are way up, and our income is stagnant. Companies are not handing out raises like they have in the past.

It worries me. And I am one of the lucky ones. We have great jobs, we have a home we can afford. But will we EVER be able to retire?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

getting results

A co-worker asked me the other day what I was doing to see that Obama get elected. The polls indicate a scarily close race. So he had a point - if I care about the end result, what am I doing to make it happen? So far, I have sent 3 checks to Obama's campaign. None were large, but they were what we could afford. I blog here, obviously, but to a very very tiny audience. I talk with my undecided co-workers, probably much more than politeness allows. I've got a bumper-sticker on my car, a button on my backpack.

So what else? What do you all think works? How can we, as not very wealthy, not well-connected individuals, get the results we want out of this election?

These are not rhetorical questions, gang. seriously, what can we do?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

what are they hiding?

What are the republicans hiding? Sarah Palin has not yet been allowed to talk with the media. Not one interview. No questions allowed. The reporters on her plane have been told that the flights are entirely off the record. Her first solo appearance -- Alaska, tomorrow at a welcome home rally.

WTF? Is she a candidate or a prop? If she is running, take the bridle off and let her run. Or are they afraid of her answers? afraid of what she might say if she is unscripted?

In addition to trooper-gate, she is now also being looked at for her expenses as governor. Apparently, Ms Palin has claimed 43,000 dollars for travel expenses for this year. She takes her family on all official travel, and wants Alaska taxpayers to foot the bill. Because she is a fiscal conservative.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

too much information

Sometimes I think we live in an age of too much information. I spent a little time googling treatment for gallstones, to get more diet advice. What I found was the typical profile of the gallstone patient -- what doctors call the 4 Fs.
Fat, Forties, Female and Fertile. If I hadn't already felt like puking, this would have put me over the edge.

This is knowledge I could have lived without. And it smacks of a certain insensitivity on the part of physicians. It's not a bad mnemonic, but could they have been a little more understanding? In the days before the internet, this would have been private knowledge, shared just between MDs. But now, with wikipedia and webmd and google, its all right out there for the general public.

So I'm 4F... UGH!!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

better today

The sun is shining. The Ravens won a football game. My pain meds are working. I slept through the night and took a nap. My home office is usable again. The filing is done. The first episode of True Blood is on HBO on Demand, so I can watch during lunch.

I miss my sweetie, who is on a business trip. But other than that, everything just seems better today.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

timing really is everything

Timing really is everything. Tomorrow my husband has to leave for Rochester, NY for a 3 day business trip. My semester starts tomorrow night. So, of course, I spent most of the day in the emergency room. I got sick last night, tummy pains waking me up around 11pm. I never went back to sleep. I thought I had food poisoning, with very similar symptoms. But at 5:30 this morning, I threw in the towel and called our HMO. They told me to come in at 10am. I went in, they poked around a few minutes, then told me they thought it was my gallbladder. Since it was Sunday, they wanted me to get tested at a local emergency room. They were going to give me pain meds, and didn't want me driving so they called an ambulance to transport me. In the meantime, they couldn't get the prescription through in their computer system. So I ended up riding in an ambulance without the pain meds. My husband had to waylay a neighbor to take him to get our car, then waylay another neighbor to bring him and our son to the emergency room.

Nothing goes quickly at an ER. I was there for 3 hours. I did get a sonagram that found a few gallstones, which was the reason for the food poisoning-like symptoms. I got prescription meds, and a recommendation that I schedule surgery.

The kicker, at least for me, is that I also got a recommendation to lose weight and cut out fat from my diet. I'm already on a low fat diet! I eat french fries like once a year. But until the surgery, no fats. No cheese, no avocados, no butter, no fried foods. If that isn't motivation to get it done soon, I don't know what is.

Hopefully I won't miss class tomorrow night. I already took the day off from work, so I can sleep. And a dear friend is taking my husband to the train station so I don't have to get up at 4:30am....

Friday, September 05, 2008

the election in a nutshell

I was going to skip talking about the election for awhile, but I can't seem to help myself. Yesterday, I watched the news. An entire room full of people chanting "DRILL, BABY, DRILL" seems to sum up the whole election in a nutshell.

All I can think is that these people are from some alternate dimension, one where there is no pollution, no global warming, and no finite resources. Otherwise, how could anyone, and I mean ANYONE, see this as a successful mantra?

Between that and Cindy McCain's $310,000 convention ensemble (just one outfit, mind you) really illustrates for me that these folks JUST DON'T GET IT. They don't get that people are suffering under a decaying economy. They don't get that the entire world is imperiled by global warming. They don't get that cutting taxes never gives you more money to spend. They don't get that we can't WIN the war in Iraq -- it was lost before we even started.

The 50s are OVER!!! Read a newspaper. Take some classes. Get your head out of your ass. America has to become part of the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

little victories

Life is sometimes about the little victories. For the last week, my son has gotten himself up with an alarm clock, packed his own lunch for school, and done his own homework, with no prodding, and no reminders. As someone who has had to get him ready, get me ready, pack two sets of lunches, worry about two breakfasts, nagged about homework while struggling with my own, this is VICTORY. And it is sweet!

I am free from the tyranny of breakfast. Free from the tyranny of lunch. I can move, somnolent, through my morning, speaking little, thinking less.

This is VICTORY, and it is sweet!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

family values

To me, family values include doing what's best for your child. Sometimes this means sacrificing your own goals and ambitions. This is why I cannot understand Sarah Palin. Why would this woman agree to run? Her 17 year old daughter is pregnant, due to give birth in December. Sarah Palin will be out campaigning through November, and were she successful, would be taking office in January. Where she will not be, is home helping her daughter navigate a critical time in her young life.

And because of her political ambitions, her daughter will have to go through all of this while the whole world watches her. What kind of parent would put their child through something like that? How could she?

She is running as a family-values candidate. Evangelical, anti-abortion, pro-creationist, favoring abstinence education.

She needs to get her priorities in the right place. In a choice between personal ambition and the needs of your children -- the kids come first!!!

any woman will do?

Apparently McCain's new slogan is Any Woman Will Do, else how do we explain the addition of Sarah Palin to the rebublican ticket? I want a woman in the White House, but not this badly. Sarah Palin was in the PTA. Then she was mayor of a town of 6,000 people. Now she is Governor of a sparsley populated state, and is under investigation for her conduct in office. What a sparkling resume! Clearly she is ready to lead the free world.

She does have appeal to the evangelical base. She has the gun-nuts in her corner as well. But. She. Is. Not.Qualified. Not for higher office. She may be a very nice woman. She may be a great governor. But as Vice President to an old and not particularly healthy President -- nope, not a good idea.

I also found the choice to be, shall we say, CYNICAL. Let's put a woman on the ticket and all the Hillary supporters will flock to vote for her. As if we can't tell the difference between Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. I feel pandered to, and it's not nice.

So there you have it, Reason 734 for not voting for McCain -- he subscribes to the AWWD philosophy.

Friday, August 29, 2008

historic moment

I watched Barak Obama's acceptance speech last night. I encouraged my son to watch as well. Because, whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an Independent, last night was history unfolding. A watershed moment in the story of America. An African-American man, accepting his party's nomination for the highest office in the country!

We have come far, but there is a long way to go. It needs to not be a wish, but a truth, when a parent tells their child -- yes baby, you can grow up and be President. It needs to be true when that child is a girl, is disabled, is poor, is gay, is muslim, is jewish. When we can't see an impediment, but only possiblity, we will have truly arrived.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

let's hear it for hillary

Let's hear it for Hillary. Her historic motion on the floor of the DNC, where she made the motion to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation, was a classy move. She did not get what she wanted out of this race, but she took what she was dealt and handled everything with dignity, grace and courage. Far better in defeat, Hillary rose to the occasion and earned her place in the history books.

The cynical might say she was saving her own political future, but I think she was sincere. If she can't be the one in office, she really will do everything to see that the next best choice (in her eyes) does win. I think Hillary cares deeply about the future of America. And she really is fearful of what a McCain presidency could bring. Four more years to drive the economy down, increase the gap between rich and poor, and lower our stature in the world even further.

I hope that people heard the words this week, and took them to heart. No how, no way, no McCain!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Proud to be a Democrat!

Last night I watched the very moving tribute to Teddy Kennedy, and this morning I was able to finally see Michelle Obama's speech from the DNC. I am so very very proud to be a Democrat today. Kennedy' accomplishments outweigh his personal issues by a large margin. He has been a force for positive change in this world, and he should be proud of what he has managed to achieve.

And Michelle Obama? What an incredible woman. She is educated, articulate, poised, accomplished. I think she hit a home run with her speech last night. She humanized the candidate, and gave us a window into their lives.

The Dream does live on!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

politics as usual

I am disappointed. I thought that with Obama and McCain running, we would have a relatively clean campaign. More focused on the issues, less on personalities. No smears or swift-boating.

I was wrong. It looks like the next few months will be nasty as hell, as we gear up for November elections. It bothers me, mostly because I care a great deal about the outcome. I want Obama to win. I really truly do. I don't just think he would be a better president than McCain -- I think he would be a great president. I admire him. I think he's the right man for our time.

And so it bugs me when there are personal attacks on him. I don't want his patriotism constantly in question. Nor would I care if he was a Muslim. When did being Muslim become a bad thing, anyway? How insulting is that to Americans who are Muslim that it is used almost as a swear word in politics? and why all the attacks on Michelle Obama? is it because she is educated? successful? good-looking? loves her husband and children? WTF?? We'd be lucky to have her in the White House, in any capacity.

So, I hope people will weed out the facts from the fiction, the truth buried in the mire... so we can get the President we should have, and not the one we deserve.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

26 YEARS!!!

Today is our 26th anniversary. On August 14, 1982, my husband and I got married. We were young, stupid, a little scared, and terribly terribly lucky. We somehow got it right, despite all the odds against us. And it just gets better every year.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

maybe I shouldn't read about food

I am about a third of the way through The Omnivore's Dilemma. I've read enough of it to know it will be an infuence on me. I should explain that when I was 8 I read The Jungle and didn't eat hot dogs for over 12 years as a result. A few years ago, I read Fast Food Nation, and you guessed it, have virtually given up fast food. I say virtually, because there are times when the universe conspires to make sure that's absolutely all that's available to you.

Books still have that power, that with the right alchemical combination of words, they can change you. I don't think it's a bad thing, mind you. I probably needed to ditch hot dogs and fast food.

Sometimes, though, there are unintended consequences. I had a hard time eating an ear of corn the other day. It somehow had taken on an evil tinge for me. A beautiful, fresh ear from the farmer's market... and then I slapped some butter on the sucker and took out my revenge for it ruining the planet.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

the pot and the kettle

George Bush admonished China yesterday about its lack of freedoms, and its treatment of political dissidents. WTF???? Did the man forget Guantanomo Bay? Mister Secret Wiretaps is telling other countries to loosen up?

China has a repressive government, and it does need to move forward with more rights for its citizens. I just thing George Bush has absolutely NO CREDIBILITY WHATSOEVER when addressing these issues. And the world does not love hypocrites... I'm sure his comments will play really really well in the middle east.

And it will be interesting to see how he is received at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games, after insulting his hosts.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

a new leaf -- again

We are back from Boston (and Cambridge). We had a good week. Lots of interesting stuff at the Web 2.0 conference, a good visit with friends, and the man-child had a wonderful time being independent and all grown-up at camp.

Now we are back to reality. It should be interesting. Back on the exercise and diet wagon. And on a budget, seriously. We suck at this, but I think we are motivated enough this time to make it work.

I'm back to making menus for the week. It keeps us eating fairly well, and cuts our food budget significantly. This week the menu is pork with many flavoured sauce (stir fry pork with broccoli and tofu in a brown sauce), chicken with red beans and rice, chili cheese dogs (low cal version with turkey chili, lowfat cheese, lowfat dogs for me), chicken fajitas, and fish and scallop chowder (fat free milk, flour and creamed corn make the soup base instead of heavy cream, butter and flour).

I've got low fat tuna salad on 9 grain bread, cherries, and weightwatchers cheese for lunches... the tuna salad is pretty good: tuna packed in water, finely grated carrot, celery, finely chopped green pepper, chopped dill pickle, hard boiled egg, soy mayo and yellow mustard. Ends up being about a third veggies.

and breakfast is either kashi go lean with almonds and banana, or oatmeal with blueberries and almonds.

Exercise is walking this week, and then wii fit added to the mix next week, and hopefully some core work the week after. I want to get the exercise routine firmly established before school starts in September.

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 25, 2008

big week coming up

We have a big week coming up at my house, or rather, NOT at my house. Our son goes to sleep away camp for the first time. He is spending a week in the dorms at Harvard, attending the New York Film Academy. He's going to be learning the basics of digital film-making. He is accompanied by his two best friends. One friend's parents are driving the boys up to camp, and my husband and I are picking them up and bringing them home.

I'm going to a conference in Boston on web 2.0 for higher ed. So we will be about half an hour away from our son. Work will pay for our hotel and travel, so it works out nicely. I'm looking forward to the conference. I haven't attended anything in my field in years. I did speak at one conference last year, but I only went for my talk, and left afterwards.

We love Boston, so my husband will find plenty to do while I am attending my sessions, and we'll have some time to wander around together in the evenings and on Thursday. Friday we are going to get together with old friends who live nearby. It will be great to catch up with them and hang out a bit.

Any travel is good. And a break from routine is even better!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

things I've learned

I am 46 today. As is usual on my birthday, I try to take a little time for self-reflection.

So, in no particular order, here are some things I've learned in 46 years:

if it sounds too good to be true, it is
never try to fill an inside straight
condoms leak
never go to bed with someone you don't want to wake up with
good friends are essential
if you have to choose between head and heart, go with heart
timing is everything
luck is everything else
everybody needs to feel valuable
everyone has a story -- and they are all interesting
don't walk barefoot on hot pavement
you have to like yourself or no one else will be able to
men have an entirely different definition of FAT
laziness can hurt you
procrastination almost always works in your favor
be careful when you put on suntan lotion to not miss a spot
let your bait sit a minute so the fish can get to it
the error you don't check for is the one most likely to occur
some prices are too much to pay
sometimes you can't afford to save that much
playing the lottery is like throwing dollar bills in the trashcan, but more fun
education is always worth it
don't cook barefoot
the smoke always blows in your direction
you can be wearing too much perfume
laughter is the best medicine
it only hurts the first time someone calls you ma'am
change your oil
eat your vegetables
keep track of your keys

the world is amazing, stop and appreciate it

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Go see The Dark Knight. Go see it twice. Don't wait for video. See it in the theater with a great big crowd of people, at night. Definitely at night.

Heath Ledger has created the ultimate Joker. No one could do it better. Ever. I don't see how anyone could even try...

Thursday, July 17, 2008


WOW. 14 years ago, I had a baby boy. That single day event changed my life forever. And I can't tell you how glad that makes me.

Our son is a good kid, and he is becoming a good man. This summer has been an amazing burst of development for him. He is getting himself to day camp at a nearby university, by taking an MTA bus. He voluntarily got a haircut, told me when he needed new shoes, is helping me carry stuff so I don't stress my elbow, is making polite conversation when necessary, and in general is just more responsible. We can hang out together now, and actually enjoy each other's company.

He's taught me a lot: more patience, taking my time over things, stressing less about the little things, that time passes much faster than you can possibly realize, that the people around you need more than your presence, they need your participation, to give to the needy, respect the differences in how people's minds work, that people can surpise you. That you can love way more than you thought you could. That you can worry more than you thought you could. And that you can enjoy the detours way more than you thought you could.

Happy Birthday, little one.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

lightning fast response to crisis

Let's hear it for the G-8. In response to a world in crisis, they have agreed to halve greenhouse 2050! WOW!! Over 40 years from today. Do they really think you could call this a goal? 40 years is more like someday, or when I get around to it, or eventually. It surely isn't a "we've got to do something, and quickly" type response. Do they think that food shortages and water shortages and catastrophic weather are going to get better over that time period?

In 40 years, I could have water-front property --without moving. I could finally have that summer place in the tropics that I've always dreamed about, right here in Maryland. I could have grandchildren who have never seen a tree, or been outside in the daytime, or breathed pure air.

World leaders? I don't think so.

Monday, July 07, 2008

surrounding myself with good people

This weekend was mostly devoted to social stuff. We went to a neighbor's party on the 4th of July, and then hosted our own cookout on the 5th.

While I have done many stupid or short-sighted things in my life, I have done one thing well. I have surrounded myself with good people. The people I've picked to be in my life are there because they ADD to my life. I am immensely richer for their friendship. The people life has placed in my path -- my neighbors, my co-workers, my relatives by marriage -- are wonderful.

Now I have to find a way to make more time for all of them. That is my biggest struggle these days. To carve out enough time to just hang out with the people I care about. What I get out of it is so huge, though, that I know I'll find a way.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

trying to do the right thing

As many of you know, I am waiting, not so patiently, for a SmartCar. I have a reservation on the waiting list. I paid my $99 for my slot on the list. And. I just got my "delivery date" estimate. Now this is only an estimate, I am told. I could get the car sooner, or later. My date is

October 2009 to December 2009

No, not a typo, believe me. Because I couldn't believe it either. So I asked the company if this was a mistake. They said no. It really would be more than 18 MORE MONTHS to get the damn car.

You know, I am trying, really trying, to do the right thing. I want an environmentally sound car for commuting. One that I can afford. One that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and another leg. And doesn't have huge environmental disposal issues, like the hybrids do with their batteries.

Why is this so freaking difficult? How did we get to the point where a small, inexpensive, fuel-efficient vehicle is like the holy f*ing grail?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

court has clause trouble

The Supreme Court apparently has clause trouble. Seems the whole militia clause was ignored in today's ruling about individual rights to handguns. The Constitution guaranteed our right to have guns to serve in a militia, not to an absolute right to handguns. The DC ban on handguns has been struck down, even though handguns have no purpose in a militia and no purpose in a home other than killing folks. With something easily concealable.

If you want to defend your property, buy a shotgun. Handguns are an abomination in a civilized society. Oh right, we aren't civilized....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

nothing like other people's problems

There really is nothing like other people's problems to make you realize you don't really have any. A friend is struggling with her teen. Mine just thanked me for cooking dinner, because he realized that "he never thanks me, and he really appreciates all the great food I make for him" WOW!!!

I am bummed by a long series of physical therapy I have to have for my neck/near frozen shoulder (which is causing my elbow issues). And then I talked to a friend at the office who is getting traction for her neck and back 4 times a week. Now I don't feel so bad.

Really and truly, it's all good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

this is f***ed

Okay, this news bit is just f***ed up. Seriously. 17 girls at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts are pregnant. All are under 16. And they got that way on purpose. Because, you know, like, they made a pact. And that's like a promise, you know.

And like they can't get in trouble if they all do it, right? I mean, like, how could their parents get ticked off, when it's not just one kid, but like, a whole group of kids.

Wonderful. Just wonderful. And the school nurses just resigned. Because they couldn't get permission to dispense birth control to anonymous students. You know, you would think they not only would have been given permission, they would have been applauded. Because clearly these kids not only need access to birth control, they need COMPULSORY birth control...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

new threats to American safety

Beware -- our national security is once again threatened. In San Francisco, the state of California permitted a lesbian couple to get married, after only 55 years together(!) And in Vermont, people are swimming nekkid. In front of children.

Make no mistake, our values are being threatened, being undermined by the great liberal - press conspiracy. If we don't fight them, what will happen next?

Good lord, people might become tolerant, or even worse, accepting of the rights of others. We might decide marriage is a good thing, even between two queers. And our kids might find out what naked people look like. That'll turn 'em into perverts. And then they might grow up and marry a pig, or a dog, or something.

So be vigilant. Defend our right to be narrow-minded, prudish Americans.

Monday, June 16, 2008

we're all fine!

Just a follow-up, for those of you who expressed concern. We were touched by all the well-wishes, btw. We are all okay.

My sweet husband is bruised, but on the mend. Some of the stitches come out tomorrow night and the rest go away on their own. He has to go back for some more dental work, but the worst of that is over.

My nerve tests came out okay -- I have triceps tendonitis and golfer's elbow and the swelling was pressing on the nerve. I'm scheduled for some PT, but I should be fine.

Thanks again to everyone who called and emailed!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

life interfering with my relaxation!!

Usually this is the time of year when I start to kick back and RELAX; enjoy the nice weather and more laid-back atmosphere.

Unfortunately, life is doing its best to keep things interesting. I am working half days this week to rest my elbow. More on that after my drs appt tonight. Our dear son is in the hectic last days of school, with ceremonies, half-day dismissals, parties and the like. So I am playing Chauffeur/Mom in a big big way.

And my husband did a face-plant off his bike last night. 2 hours in the ER, stitches, late night trip to the pharmacy. Today is the dentist and then new glasses (his got run over). He is miserable -- can't eat, can't get comfortable. I feel horrible for him. He is incredibly incredibly lucky though -- he wasn't wearing a helmet, and he landed on his mouth instead of his noggin.

I want a large lemonade and a damn hammock!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

status update

I got a 96 on my paper and an A in my Art/Mythology course. I have no idea how. I thought the paper was awful, and was counting on my presentation grade to pull me to a B or C....

My elbow is ulnar nerve neuritis. I have to have nerve conduction tests on Wednesday. This is not good news, nor is it terrible. It just sorta exists in short-term suckage...

The Spud, our wonderful son, graduates from 8th grade on Thursday. On to HIGH SCHOOL!!!

The weather has been beautiful. The spouse has been wonderful. Life is good, despite the bumps.

Friday, May 30, 2008

good break, but no luck

The geekend went great. The Indy movie was okay, not great, but okay. Balticon was fun in a low-key kind of way. The days of staying up all night are long gone. I enjoyed the panels, the movies and anime I saw, and just hanging out with friends and family. As usually happens when I go to Cons, I now have a renewed desire to write. It usually fades pretty quickly.

Problem is, my elbow isn't much better, despite the rest. I went to the doctor yesterday, to get my referral, and am going to the orthopedist today. But I pretty much know the drill-- rest,and type less. Right now, while I am feeling the urge to write (which I can only accomplish by typing, no longhand for me), this is particularly frustrating. And of course, I have huge projects looming at work, and no end of keyboard time in my future.

Still, I loved the break.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

taking a break, geekstyle

I took a few days off, to rest my RSI-riddled elbow and fingers. So I have 5 and a half straight days of leave. Tonight, it's dinner with friends, followed by Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. Tomorrow afternoon, we take off for Hunt Valley and Balticon 42. WHOOO-HOOOO! Total geekfest. I'm gonna just take it easy, try not to do much with the computer for 5 straight days. Oh, and our WII FIT arrived I might do some pseudo-exercise/game playing with that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

good luck senator!

Send some good thoughts Teddy Kennedy's way. He hasn't always been a good guy. But he has always been a truly great Senator. He has tirelessly fought for the poor, for the disabled, for equal rights for all, for protection for the disenfranchised. He is a true "liberal", and I think that's high praise.

I wish him all the best as he battles cancer.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

gray gray day

It is raining in Maryland again. This is the soggiest May we've ever had. I think it's really affecting my mood. Normally, I am a glass half-full kind of person. I think things work out, generally. Today, I was bummed enough to start looking at my short-term disabilities benefits.

The thing is, I have an RSI -- tennis elbow caused by typing. I am sitting in my office with a heat wrap on my elbow. Two days ago I had x-rays taken of my right hand. I also had lots and lots of blood tests, to look for arthritis, lupus, etc. Pretty much everything checked out fine. But I wake up every morning with the fingers of my right hand swollen at the joint, and very very sore. Guess what? Another RSI... seems my tendons dislike typing. A LOT.

So my work is hurting me. It's not damaging me. Nothing like carpal tunnel, where the affects get worse and can become permanent. Nope, this is just pain. But it is discouraging. I should really take a few weeks off, and let everything rest. But I don't want to burn sick leave for what is basically an owie. Ditto with short-term disability. I'd rather not use it for something this minor.

It's a gray, gray day.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

got my new toy

I got my new toy -- an Asus EEE PC. It's a fully-functioning laptop, running Linux. It weighs less than two pounds, cost less than $300, and is about the size of a paper-back book. It has built-in wifi and a very small qwerty keyboard. I got it for checking email, surfing the web and taking notes in class. It will also be my main travel PC.

I can't do programming on it. It really isn't suited to photoshop, typing for long stretches of time, or really serious work. So it's perfect.

Monday, May 12, 2008

that after the deadline feeling

I turned my paper in on time, although it truly sucked. No amount of extra time would have improved it though -- I just don't do fact-based research papers very well. I like philosophy, literature, stuff where I can spin theories and prove my point.

Now that the paper is turned in, I have that feeling -- the after the deadline feeling. Depleted, aimless. I can't really seem to focus on anything, just want to drift in the sea of "done". Read some trash. Watch bad TV. Sit on the front porch and have a beer in the sunshine.

I guess its nature's way of forcing a re-charge. You just don't have the energy or the impulse to do anything for a while.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

happy mother's day

To all the moms -- happy mother's day!

Being a mom is one of the two smartest things I ever did (and yes, the other one was marrying my hubby). Beats out going to college, getting into computers, absolutely everything.

It's funny -- I don't see myself as traditional, and I'm definitely no girly-girl -- but wife and mother are my top two.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

same old song

I am still working on my paper on greek mythology. When I first started studying the myths, I thought the greek gods were outrageous in their misbehavior. Larger than life figures with larger than life failings.

I thought so, but recent news articles made me re-think that. Recently, an Austrian man was arrested for keeping his daughter imprisoned for over 15 years, and fathering six children by her. Persephone, maybe? Olympian incest?

A Baltimore teen was just convicted of raping and murdering his 4 year old cousin. Truly a headline plucked from Greek tragedy.

A polygamous sect was raided, in trouble for their practice of forcibly marrying off young girls to older men. Again, right at home in Athens, 500 BCE....

So do we ever progress? Are we stuck in the same place as our Greek and Roman forbears? Do we sing the same old song, over and over and over?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

its term-paper time, again

It's term paper time again. My paper is due on the 12th, so to my way of thinking, I am a little ahead. I have started on my "works cited", I have read a stack of journal articles and skimmed a pile of books. Just finished Sophocles "Trachaia" and Euripides "Children of Herakles"... the Euripides was awful, but the Sophocles was fairly good. I also re-read Hesiod's Theogony. But things haven't really gelled yet.

I am writing about Herakles, not because I have a particular affinity, but because that's the slip I drew out of the envelope. I already did my oral presentation, which went fairly well. What we do with the subject is up to us. I am focusing on apotheosis, since it's a fascinating aspect of the myth.

Heracles is born of mortal mother (Alcmene) and an immortal father (Zeus). He lives his life as a mortal, albeit an extraordinary one. At the end of his life, when it is clear he is dying (accidentally and painfully poisoned by his wife), he has his own pyre built. He climbs in while still alive, and is burned alive. Zeus zaps the pyre with a thunderbolt, and the "mortal" part of Heracles is burned away. His mortal soul goes down to Hades, and his immortal self is swept away to Olympia, where he joins the host of Immortals.

He was worshipped by the Greeks as a hero, and as a diety, with separate shrines for both and separate forms of ritual for each of his roles.

My paper focuses on this transformation from man to god, after a horrible and painful death (sound like anything familiar?) and what purposes it served for the Greeks/what it said about them. Or it will focus on this, once I actually manage to get it all down on paper. Probably on the 11th, if I follow the usual pattern...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

found a new acronym

I love this one -- HIPPO

an acronym for Highest Paid Person's Opinion... ie, I can't actually order this yet, I'm waiting for the HIPPO to decide


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

what do you think...

about what's going on in Texas at the FDLS compound? We have a duty as a society to protect children. And so part of me says, YAY for the authorities stepping in and doing something. But it also feels like religious persecution... these folks do not live like us. They believe things we don't. And it makes us uncomfortable.

But where do we draw the line? I'm an atheist, more or less. And many folks in this country feel that is not only wrong, but intolerable. Should I be arrested for depriving my child of the BIBLE? There are folks that would argue YES, that I am endangering his well-being, and his soul.

I don't happen to have a problem with polygamy. I don't think it really works well for most folks, and it certainly wouldn't work for me, but if all the parties are consenting adults, go for it.

I don't agree with the FDLS stance on husband's rights, either. But if the adult women, and the adult men agree that the husband is ruler; again, go for it. I don't have to live that way, so no skin off my nose.

The issue comes down to choices and freedom, and how much we allow. My gut says adults should have all the freedom they want, as long as it doesn't bump into anybody else's rights. And children have the right to be protected from wrong-headed adults, until they are old enough to make their own choices.

as a side note, and I mean way aside the freedom issues, does anybody but me wonder where the FDLS folks get the money to support all those kids, and do all that building???