Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh, Rachel, how do we love thee?

Tonight, when Keith Olbermann did the toss from his show to Rachel Maddow's, he mentioned that she had beaten Larry King in the ratings the entire previous week. I don't know how big a deal that is. King is popular but past his sell-by date, and I am sure his numbers are heavy in the all-important 66-95 year old demo. But it sure seems important, and I've read that she is now the #2 evening draw over at MSNBC behind Olbermann. The two of them provide a knockout punch for lefties, and fans of true journalism, everywhere.

That doesn't cover the real reasons, though, for the nearly-fanatical following Maddow has developed. If you read, or have read, comments about her across teh intarwebz, especially regarding her new show, you've seen that she gets an enthusiasm totally out of proportion of her aw-shucks demeanor. Why does she get this? Why do men AND women, straight AND gay, get crushes on her? (Me, it started with the short haircut. Rowr.)

First, notice that she's the hero of people who read and stay informed. No one has properly estimated the power of a grounded woman with a sharp-as-a-knife mind, and here is Rachel Maddow proving that legions thirst for a drink from the tap of Rhodes scholarship. She's smart. Smarter than me and you put together. But she doesn't have an ego problem. She's not only the smartest person in the room, she's also someone you'd have a beer with. She's someone who will laugh at your jokes but keep you in line, who will hear your tales and not twit you, who just may well laugh at that thing you did where you said, "Hey! Watch THIS!" and dissect exactly how stupid it was. She gets us to examine ourselves, laugh at ourselves and others, and she affirms our confidence while getting us to admit we're maybe not so perfect.

She's also the androgynous dream date for millions. Well, maybe thousands. She's an object of desire but utterly non-threatening. For straight women (I am guessing), she's the friend, the buddy, the compatriot who is all about the feelings and thinking through things. You know she will listen and give advice both. She's perceptive of human ways, but she's non-jealous, non-possessive, non...attached. For gay women... Well, let's just file that in the FREAKING OBVIOUS folder. For gay men? She's sort of a substitute man, and I don't mean that in a sexist way. (Like there's any other way to take that.) My feeling on this is that she's the androgynous (again that!) person a lot of people wish they could be; if she were a man, virtually unchanged, a lot of men would be in love with her brains, her cheer, her competence, her clarity. She represents for us all an icon of what we wish we were, and what we wish to love: complete personally and professionally and untainted by her own fame.

As far as straight men: well, she will always be the Other, the Unattainable, the Yearning, the Unrequited. Boys, she's NOT for us. She's for the girls. But those of us who straddle the gender lines--not just those who wish they could have sex with lesbians because it's a challenge, or because they can't imagine anyone turning down their masculine charms, or who are envious of anyone who gets to have a kind of sex they don't--she is the ideal. All the reasons I gave above are true, but here's the rest: in a big way, she's a GUY. Not in terms of equipment, but in attitude. She keeps it simple while competently handling the big issues, her emotions reside in the same home as ours, she cuts through the dross to the quick, she can be fanciful but she's grounded, she makes decisions responsibly, and yet--because she is female, ignoring that she is a lesbian--she exists somewhere within the universe of possibility. (The right man and all that.)

But in short, she's what we wish we could be. We wish we could have the clarity of purpose that she does, her substance, her foundation, her commitment, her intelligence, her application. She's a dream for many of us, a liberal goddess who fills every fantasy of who we want and who we want to be, unencumbered by society's restrictions but respectful of society's rules. She trips our triggers in myriad ways, all of them good.

Rachel? I'm free. Call me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Desks? It's about desks?

Okay. I just got through watching Mike Huckabee's speech. Here's the thing that baffled me. The story about the desks. Let me 'splain... No, let me sum up. Here's the story in a nutshell:

Martha Cochran(e?), a teacher somewhere, had her kids come in on the first day of school to a class bereft of desks. She said they wouldn't get their desks until they figured out how to earn them. Long story short, the entire day passed and the kids made bunches of guesses, all of which failed. In the meantime, kids called their parents on their cellphones (making this a recent story), and they called news organizations. By the time the last period had come, all four local networks were there covering the story. In the 6th period, she finally said she would tell them about the desks. She went to the door, called out, and in came 20 veterans in uniform with 20 desks, who put them all into place. She then said that there was nothing they had to do to earn the desks, because the veterans had already done it for them.

Okay. I didn't even have to Google it to know this was bullshit, though I did Google it. You would think that with 4 local networks handy, there might be some mention on "the Google." There's not. But even if it WERE true, I would want to ask:

Where did you hide the 20 veterans so that no one noticed them the entire day?
How did they know to come into the hall at exactly the right time for you to call on them?
Didn't they have to be fed at some point?
Wouldn't the news organizations, or the office, or students, or SOMEONE, have noticed 20 veterans in uniform hanging around the school?
How did you line up 20 desks in the hall without anyone noticing, especially the students who sit in them?
What if you had had more than 20 students in class, which is most often the case?

See, I'm a teacher (sub, but nevertheless). This just SCREAMS "Snopes" to me. One, you wouldn't get away with it, and two, you couldn't hide this for some big theatrical moment. It just doesn't happen. Especially with 4 networks and their cameras skulking about.

I think Mike Huckabee told a porkie.

You can't hide it! GOP Convention Edition

Just a quick thought as I watch the ongoing GOP morass they are calling a convention. Two things you can't hide:

1. Hundreds of empty seats. The delegate seats are full, sure, but the levels above the floor are sparsely attended. And what this means is...

2. The speeches are sparsely cheered. Carly Fiorina, who was fired from Hewlett-Packard, just gave a speech full of applause pauses and hooks. Problem? Very little cheering at the pauses or in general. Her speech was accepted with what can best be called gracious apathy.

All the Sarah Palin stuff I would like to cover is already aflame at Daily Kos, TPM, and other blogs. There's little question in my mind that this campaign is going to self-destruct. That they're already reaching for the "sexist" label to any criticism of Palin is telling. It's like the POW issue: it's the go-to when any criticism arises. I hope the American public is smarter than that. I already know the GOP True Believers aren't, of course, but I have hopes for the swing voters.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An odd thought about seasons

I just read a note on one of my gardening groups that a member in Montana is going to try to harvest her entire garden because it might snow tonight. In September!!! But it got me to thinking about the bittersweet, melancholy feelings I have about the turn from summer to fall, from fall to winter, and the first snowfalls. The silence, the chill, the puffs of breath, the slow waltz of snowflakes in descent.

You know what would be sweet? If winter were so short I looked forward to it. :)

Monday, September 1, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Barack Obama Rescues New Orleans

SEPT 1, 2008 (ROOTERS) - In a display of party unity, Democratic Party presidential nominee Barack Obama today used his angelic powers to blunt the impact of Hurricane Gustav on New Orleans.

"It wasn't easy," said a visibly drained Obama, wiping stigmata from his palms. "But I believe in the fairness of the political process and am determined that everyone have a fair say in this election season. I was disappointed that the Republicans wouldn't have the opportunity to present their platform to the American public."

Obama has used his powers before, but rarely, as the "recharging" period afterward is lengthy and involved. The last manifestation before today was the 2005 World Series, in which he willed the White Sox on not only to victory, but a wire-to-wire first place season. Previously, his neophyte powers had been misdirected, causing Florida to go to Bush in the 2000 presidential election.

"I thought I was making the butterfly ballots easier," he said, "but I royally screwed that up. I had to take SO many seminars after that. That's why I couldn't do anything about Katrina. I was still on probation."

The McCain campaign was less charitable, though. "Show-off," said Tucker Bounds while pushing pins into a doll. "He won't show up for a debate, but he 'saves' New Orleans to 'help' the Republicans. Right. If John McCain could have done it, he would have, but he couldn't, and Obama knows it. That's why he gets all the press."

Obama expressed hope for Mr. McCain. "It's never too late to learn to use the Force," he said, drinking a goblet of water transformed into wine. "He simply needs to learn how to let go."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On a serious market democracy?

Here's something that's been bubbling up in me for a long, long time. I have friends who are very, very conservative. One of them, my friend since childhood, visited not long ago. We've jousted over the years on issues and always felt a spirit of camaraderie anyway. Another is a woman who is more on the right than I am on the left. Now, I mention them because I have been listening to and reading comments for a long time about free-market capitalism, of which these friends are adherents, and a comment at the Daily Kos focused it a little more sharply for me today. I have to ask, then: which is more important, this country or the free market?

I hate to impugn anyone's patriotism. God knows I've been on the receiving end of that for years as a liberal, which (thanks to Fright Wing media manipulation ever since Reagan) has become synonymous with radicals, terrorism, and anarchy. But I honestly wonder when Adam Smith free-market capitalism became synonymous with America.

Since when does the United States Constitution prevent regulation and direction in the market? Both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin expressed deep misgivings about the excesses of capitalism and its threats to a truly free society. As it is now, after 19 years of Republican rule (27 if you count Clinton, the proto-Republican), we have determined that in terms of maintaining a free society, free market capitalism does not work.

What got me to write about this was the AT&T party for "Blue Dog Democrats" during the Dem convention. Rep. Steny Hoyer denied that it had anything to do with Congress having given immunity to telcos from civil suits over FISA violations, but that's a lot like saying the water is not the reason you're going into the swimming pool. This is just the latest example of massive corporations having bought the American system entirely, reducing the voters to simply approving one or another choice supported by Big America, Inc.

The response, as I have heard from Smith capitalists, is that as long as corporations and people have the money, they have the right to do with it as they will. I do not agree. Nothing in the Constitution says you have the right to subvert the democratic process because you have wealth. Nothing gives a corporation the right to despoil the environment for future generations. No one has the right to pollute our air and water for the simple love of excess.

Jefferson wrote that the American government was to provide for the common welfare. Today, as jobs have moved overseas, as our environment turns into garbage, as judges maintain that "free speech zones" ("freedom cages") are entirely legal, as media corporations determine the news that moves out to us, as transnational corporations suckle off the American tax dollar without paying taxes in return (Halliburton, I am talking to you), as all of our lives are bought and sold for cheap by soulless corporations, it's time to ask: Which is most important to you...your country or the free market?

They aren't one and the same.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

"surgical strike"

How often are surgeons called upon to make missile strikes? I mean, really?

Hillary Promises: "This Shiv For McCain"

AUG. 26 (ROOTERS) - In a widely-hailed speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention, former candidate Hillary Clinton held aloft a blade once destined for the back of Barack Obama and promised: "This shiv is now reserved for John McCain."

The blade, which has a long Clinton family history, is slender yet strong, its handle a simply-tooled ash with ivory inlay. "There was a time," Senator Clinton said, "when this would have gotten me the Presidency," alluding to the vice-presidential nomination she had expected. "That possibility is now past. In the name of unity, I now promise that this blade will find its home only in the back of John McCain, should he be fool enough to be elected."

The blade, which had been unadorned, is now laser-engraved with the legend, "Unity '08" and a picture of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton shaking hands.

Rumors had arisen in the days after the Clinton concession that she was angling for the vice-presidential spot. Less speculated on was what has been referred to as "Roman succession" and "the breaks." However, since Biden accepted Obama's offer of the vice-presidential spot on the ticket, any internecine plots on Clinton's behalf were rendered moot. Speculation exists that her promise to lay aside any revenge slaying is contingent on an appointment to the Supreme Court.

Senator McCain, campaigning this week at the Mars Cheese House in Wisconsin, vowed not to let her come near. "Not that I ever have," he added. "She's trouble."

Monday, August 25, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Joe Lieberman's Ego Nominated for Republican VP

SEPT. 4, 2008 (ROOTERS) - John McCain stunned voters and colleagues alike today with the nomination of Joe Lieberman's ego as his vice-presidential choice.

"Joe Lieberman has the support of many voters in this country," said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers. "He brings in a lot of Jewish voters, traditional voters, and swing voters. However," he added, "a lot of his positions lose us traction among traditional Republican voters. For instance, he's pro-choice. We can't lose the fundamental Christian vote. So the next best thing was to nominate his ego."

Lieberman's ego, which has previously been seen to be impervious to criticism and electoral challenge, was gratified to be on the ticket.

"I see this as a great step forward for independents who have ambition but no scruples," said the ego. "Without being tied down to any policy or morals, we can accomplish great things. Such as getting elected."

The Obama camp was swift to respond. "It's not fair," said a spokesman. "We have to contend against one of the greatest egos in American politics, and if it gets elected, we still have to deal with Lieberman's policies in the Senate. We're filing a protest and issuing a strongly-worded letter."

Unknown is whether the ego will carry with it Lieberman's speaking habits. Mr. Rogers insisted, though, that they are working to eliminate all traces of sonorous monotony from the voice of the ego.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"NOW I can vote for Obama"

There were questions about whether Obama could gather together the Hillary voters who felt disenfranchised when she lost the race. There were suggestions that Hillary voters would turn to McCain, or third party candidates, or simply stay home. Hillary supporters were talking about protesting the convention, and even recently there was speculation that somehow Hillary was going to try to steal the nomination away from Obama.

Pundits also speculated on whether Obama could win unless he put Hillary at his side. He needed her experience, both on the campaign trail and in the office. Without her substance, he would fail. Speculation was that if he chose someone without the standing, substance, and energy of Hillary, he would fail. If he did not include Hillary, he would lose the female vote, he would lose the older vote, the blue collar vote. Without Hillary, he would fail.

I don't say this with any animosity to the Hillary camp. I'm reflecting the words of the newspaper pundits, talking heads, and more than a few bloggers. But I believe the turning point has come. I have a friend, a woman and a Hillary voter, who had previously asserted that there was no way she could vote for Obama. She cited the many reasons that others do: his lack of experience, his associations, and one thing no one had really pointed out--that there had to be some dirt about Obama not yet dug up. She never bought into the obvious nonsense (he's a Muslim!), but she had serious questions about him and was either going to vote third-party or stay home.

Today, after Biden was announced, I received an e-mail from her. The subject was, "NOW I can vote for Obama." Biden turned the tide for her. His working-class roots, his foreign policy experience, his intelligence, his character made the difference. Choosing Biden showed Obama's good judgment. Biden gets respect. He's plainly on the side of the working man and woman, and, really, all women. He has the gravity that completes this ticket.

I am convinced that a great many Hillary voters will see the Biden choice with the same relief. All right, their candidate didn't make it--but Obama chose wisely. He has reassured the Democratic voter that he does indeed know what he's doing. He's made it clear to the Hillary voter, the kitchen-table voter, the working voter, that he's heard them and still intends to look after them. iCal it: this is the week Obama won the Presidency.


OCT. 12, 2008 (REUTERS) - Tropical Storm Fay has settled into the living room of Mr. and Mrs. Manny Glickstein of Ocala, Florida.

The Glicksteins, a retired couple originally from Great Neck, NY, were throwing a dinner party for their friends, the Feldmans, to celebrate Mr. Feldman's ascension to the chair of the math department at the University of Florida Ocala when Fay showed up at the door unannounced. Fay, which brought a bowl of spinach dip, was awkwardly invited in.

"What could we do?" Sally Glickstein was quoted as saying. "Fay's applied for tenure."

Unknown still is when Fay intends to leave. Although most of the party guests have already gone home, Fay is reported to have spotted a copy of Scrabble™ in the den closet and enthusiastically asked if anyone would like to play.

"Manny is such a Scrabble™ maniac, too," said a weary Gil Feldman. "But he's so SLOW."

Indications are, though, that Fay may leave, as the only beverages left in the house are some bottled water, a little orange juice, and coffee, and it's just too late for coffee.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good deeds in a weary world

In the past couple of weeks, two people I know and love did things which amazed me. I wish I had been there to see them. Especially when one of them was Andy, my dear friend of over twenty years. He's not the physically bravest of people--being targeted when you're young tends to do that to you. But a couple of weeks ago he was in downtown Minneapolis, about to cross a street, when he saw a man on the other side attacking a woman. I won't share his private thoughts with you, but safe to say he was alarmed and frightened. This man was pulling the woman's hair and beating at her, and no one was helping her out.

Now, Andy could have been like anyone else on the street, minding his own business, and he had every right to fear for his own safety if he intervened. But as he said, he was brought up that you don't hit women, so when he crossed the street and the man hadn't continued, Andy walked up to him and hit him...with an umbrella.

Don't laugh. Really. Andy hit him hard enough that the umbrella handle broke. The man was stunned enough that he backed away from the woman. Andy put himself between the man and the woman and wielded the umbrella like a sword, keeping the confused and enraged man at bay until the sirens were heard. (At which point, like a coward, the man ran.) Andy had saved the day. I just don't have enough words to express how proud I am of him. He not only did the right thing, he did the brave thing knowing that he could get hurt himself. That takes courage, and he has it. He's on my Best Persons in the World list now.

The other is my nephew. He has a similar story. The other night he was coming out of a movie theater with a friend and saw a man apparently choking a woman in the parking lot. There was a small bunch of frozen onlookers. Just as one guy said that maybe somebody should do something, Kyle charged up and pulled the guy off the woman. He said later that he didn't seem to be actually choking her, but grabbing her in a way that looked like it. And it turned out the guy was mentally handicapped and the woman was his caretaker. But Kyle put himself between the guy and the woman and kept him at bay until the cops showed up.

I'm just as proud of my nephew, though to be honest, he's a lot younger and a lot more muscular than Andy. He doesn't take crap from anybody. But when other people were wondering what to do, he stepped in and did it. He saved that woman from possible, real damage. (I bet she called the agency for another assignment in the morning.) You have to do the right thing, and here are two people who did so without hesitation. I am proud to know them.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Solar Energy Breakthrough

For copyright considerations I won't reprint the article here. But the article states the obvious: virtually free, limitless energy. What it doesn't say is what this could mean for the global environment. Just imagine if, in ten years, this is engineered so that solar batteries collect energy to power our cars as well as our houses. For many of us, we would make the shift in lifestyle to adapt to shorter-range vehicles, perhaps leaving long-distance travel to trains or whatnot. Within ten years, global emissions could be drastically reduced as coal plants are shuttered, cars convert to zero-emission energy, and the only combustion engines would be those necessary for long-distance travel such as trucks and trains. It wouldn't eradicate all carbon emissions, since there's not really a way to substitute for airplane travel, for instance, but it could potentially slow global warming within a few decades.

As long as Exxon doesn't crush this or gain control of the technology, that is.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We interrupt this long absence for an important thought

Okay, so we all know UFOs are alien spaceships, and we're all okay with that. But isn't it about time someone told these aliens that their ships look a little, well, out-of-date? I mean, that saucer look is SO 1950s. You'd think they could come up with something more, I dunno, zippy, maybe that looks like a Stealth fighter, or at least really shiny like the one in "Starman." What would be really cool is if we got a UFO that looks like a Klingon Bird of Prey. I think THAT would wake some people up.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Oh yeah...

And the Supremes decided we do have habeas corpus after all.


Hey, George: I got yer noncombatant status right HERE.

Being an uncle rocks

I am going to keep this short, short, short. All I am going to say is: for the moment, the custody battle is resolved. It was looking like it might go ugly, but certain realities got it resolved, nephew's daughter is coming home to live with us. In fact, she's already here.

When my nephew's marriage broke up, and his wife left with his daughter, it was a blow to him but also to me. Despite some flaws around here, I had gotten used to thinking of this house as a family, and wanted it very badly to continue. I missed my great-niece like crazy. She's a bundle of fun, smart and willful, and the opportunity to help bring another little person through childhood and into adulthood was wonderful and exciting. Then, suddenly, gone. Now she's back, none the worse for wear, and things feel right again. Maybe her mother isn't here, but at least the house feels like a family again.

I feel sorry for his wife. I do. I can't think of anything more wrenching than a mother letting go of her child. That really bothers me, and I wish circumstances were different so we could all exist in the same space. We can't, though, and what we have now is the next-best thing for everyone involved.

This is a substitute for all the political crap I could be writing, by the way. Right now nothing of any great importance is happening politically (except for the Supremes deciding that rich candidates have special rights poor candidates don't), and there was something about gun rights, and someone called Barack Obama "John Kerry with a tan," and a few other things, but you know, that all gets hashed out endlessly in the blogosphere. If I have a unique viewpoint on that, I'll let you know, but in the meantime, this is just the latest news from Scotsylvania.

Has it really been eleven days??

Monday, June 16, 2008

I wish I didn't have to blame fibromyalgia

I've written a little on it before, this fibromyalgia thing. It's a weird, sneaky disorder. Sometimes it leaves you alone sometimes it wallops you, and sometimes it's just, well, more subtle. Take the exhaustion that comes from it. It's so everpresent that sometimes I don't notice when it's getting worse. I knew it was making a comeback after about three weeks of leaving me (mostly) alone; in the last two days there were two "attacks" (the ones that mimic low blood sugar episodes), but they were weak.

Last night I slept about ten and a half hours. That alone tells me just how tired and sore I was, especially since my sleep was restless. But after I woke up, made my coffee, sat at the computer for a while, and got ready for a job interview this afternoon...I fell asleep again. I was just plain worn out. The exhaustion came over me and I couldn't stay awake.

I wish there were a better reason for this. I wish I had been outside working all day yesterday, or that I had been compulsively been working on some sort of project, or that I had gone on a tear of cleaning up my house. But none of that is true. Exhaustion just hit me. There's little way to explain to people who don't suffer from this the emotions that come from this: regret, guilt, anger, frustration, sadness, depression, and no small amount of shame. Shame, that is, because I still feel responsible for having this. I still feel it's something I should just be able to overcome, that all I need is a swift kick in the pants, that somehow this is a result of choices I have made and not forces beyond my control. It's hard not to feel that I've failed my responsibilities rather than having been overwhelmed with one of the most invisible, crafty disorders in the world.

It seems that it might be better if it actually came with some obvious physical deformity, because then people would know you're not faking. As it is, you suspect that's what people think, because you wonder that yourself. Am I faking? What's wrong with me? Even in the middle of its worst, you somehow suspect you're just being a pansy. But believe me, when those attacks hit, I know better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Latina in the Cialis ad?

Freakin' GORGEOUS. (Remember, I'm middle-aged.) I'm in lust. But what's the deal with Cialis takers sitting in bathtubs in meadows? It shows up more than once in their ads. They mash, they canoodle, then they sit in tubs in the middle of nowhere.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sitting in the garden on a near-perfect day

I only say near-perfect because there's no such thing as perfect. It's pretty close right now, though. Boo said earlier how wonderful it is, and it is. 77 right now, a little breezy, hardly a cloud in the sky.

The last few days have kept me from really doing anything in the garden. I was out of town for four days, in which we got torrents of rain...and when I came back it was hot and muggy enough that I wussed out on weeding. Well, that got the best of me, for sure, because the weeds out there are MANY. As in, much. Mucho. Lots. Well, they were, at least, until I weeded, and now it's not so bad. I love my scuffle hoe. :)

The excellent thing is that my early-planting experiment, which some of you may remember (with the Wall-o-Waters and the homemade milk-jug and pop-bottle greenhouses) has astounding results. Here it is June 10th in Zone 5b, and those tomatoes are already as high as my hips and blossoming! (And I am 6 feet tall.) The tomatoes set out normally are about a foot and a half high. Guess what I'll be doing with ALL my tomatoes next year. :)

Had some casualties, though. Not a single dill seed produced. Culprits? Birds, I think. They seemed really pleased with my dill patch once it was planted. Some of my patty-pan squash didn't come up, and the same with muskmelons and cucumbers. Short story: planted them in mid-May, and while we didn't get a frost, we had two weeks of wet, cold weather. I checked the seeds near the end of the month. Rotted in the ground. Same with the herbs I planted. Not much of anything. So...a quick trip to the nursery (Vite up in Michigan), a little resowing, and there are now some muskmelons, cucumbers, and patty-pans, as well as rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram...and a couple ornamental peppers by the front door on the porch.

The potato experiment (tires and trash can) is a mixed bag, though. The trash can taters are thriving like crazy, but the one stack of tires? Not so much. I think I just finally overextended them. I filled in dirt one last time and the plants never came up again. Maybe I'll put some squash or something in there, too--hate to see something like that go to waste. The other two tater tire projects, though, are also thriving--only two tires high. Maybe I'll even get a couple of taters.

2 waves of poppies, coral belles are incredible, and the, uh, let's call them "native grasses" are doing just fine.

Tomatoes by June! It's not just a hope, it's a rallying cry!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Just a quick note while I am doing things other than blogging

Have you ever noticed that when John McCain smiles, he looks like he's following someone else's instructions on how to do it?

Look, everybody else was all over the Clinton/Obama thing like flies on rice. Or something.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts...folding!

Check Countdown, check Dan Abrams on MSNBC, check USAToday: Dunkin' Donuts removed an ad featuring Rachael Ray because the Fright Wing blogosphere got its tits in a knot over the SCARF she was wearing. Seriously. I am not making this up. They got all upset that the scarf she was wearing in the ad looked like some sort of Arab scarf and threatened a boycott unless they removed the ad. And DD, being the corporate weasels they are, caved rather than face the loss of one donut sale.

America: Hell. Via handbasket. Here ya go.


I'd like you to take a look at the new Yahoo group I just created: Victory Gardens It's a simple idea: putting together gardeners with time, resources, and ability with the poor, the infirm, the elderly, and so on to help bring a little joy of gardening into everyone's lives. My idea is that someone out there who can't garden because of arthritis, or who can't even afford a single tomato plant, or just can't get around well, can have even a small plot with a tomato plant because there's a gardener nearby with extra starts, or a supply of compost or topsoil, or a day a week to help.

It's not going to be perfect. The group isn't for the perfectly capable to get free help, or those without time to get someone to do their gardens for them, or for the greedy to get more than their share. It's also not for the greedy to prey upon the poor and charge them for services or goods, and it's not for businesses to network. It's for the fortunate to help the less fortunate. That's it. Weeding through the dross to get to the good is going to be a pain, and I know it. But I believe that at least some people will do the right thing when they have the chance, and hopefully this group will get them together.

Let's work together!

A break from silliness for ridiculousness

Okay. I haven't read the new book, "What Happened," by Pinata Scottie McClellan yet, so admittedly I am talking out of my ass. I have, however, listened to many talking heads on the television and on teh intarweb commenting about it, about how shocking it is, how he threw Bush under the bus, and how he's revealing all manner of things we'd suspected ("Bush eats his own boogers") but never known for fact. Scottie's position, in effect, is that everybody lied to him so that he would pass on propaganda to the American people, and this disillusioned him, and now he is telling the truth. So let me get this straight:

1. Everybody gave Pinata Scottie false information.
2. We should believe him now because he was an insider.

Am I the only one who has a problem with this logic?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An uncle's lament

Last week, a "for rent" sign popped up on the lawn of the house next door.

This didn't really surprise me, but it disappointed me. The family that had been living there was not friendly: they had moved into the house, it seemed, on the strength of one month's rent plus one month's deposit, and left as soon as that was used up. That possibility was something I just didn't take into consideration, though, and I tried to be friendly to them. Waved, said "hello," and so on. I didn't get much response. But after a bit, the one boy who lived there responded to me. He told me his given name, which I forget, and some other name, which I also forget, but he told me that everyone called him "Pank." When I mispronounced it "Pink," he corrected me. It was "Pank."

There started a two-week friendship that had potential to be much more. He was a good kid. Talked about his little brother (three or so years younger) a lot, talked about the things happening with his mom and her boyfriend, talked about his grandma, but mostly he talked about the things he found fun. For instance, his bicycle--a small child's plastic toy. He asked me if I could fix its broken wheel, and I did. Same for his little brother's bike. He asked me what I was doing in the yard, and I told him in ways he could understand. We marveled together at the carpenter bees swarming around my redbud tree. He asked me how to move the sticks in the yard. He showed me how fast he could navigate his bike around them. And as he warmed up, he began to show the pure joy of having someone older to talk to, of having an uncle who would listen to him. He wanted to borrow the wagon (previously used by my nephew and niece, Jeffy and Rachel) sitting in my yard, and I gave him the plastic dinosaur toys inside. This thrilled him, and for the next few days he was going up and down th sidewalk in the wagon, playing with his little friend DJ, taking his brother for rides.

Then, one morning, the wagon was sitting in the front yard abandoned, a skateboard (whose?) in it. The house next door was quiet. As I went outside for the mail, I looked anxiously over. I listened for the sound of young voices. I waited for running feet on the sidewalk. Then, the sign appeared. "For Rent," followed by a phone number. They had gone.

Ahead, it seems, of any obligations, of any entanglements that might involve getting credit reports attached to their names. They lived in one house as long as they could and moved on. No wonder they had no intention of knowing their neighbors. But there was a good boy there, and his nickname was "Pank." He had a good heart, he was fun, and he was eager to meet people friendly to him. For a very short time, I was there as I was for my sisters' children, an uncle who saw a child with needs and stepped in to fill a gap. I hope he remembers me when he grows up. Failing that, I hope that the kindness I showed him gives him a little softness, a little compassion, in the edge his life will have. I hope that couple of weeks made a difference.

Me, I'm sad. So much potential, gone like a flame in the wind. But I hope that for a breath of his life, I made a difference. Sometimes, I think that's all we've got.

A great day slipped in amongst a chilly day

Ahhh, just a short note. There are no significant advances in the garden, no ribs planned, nothing like that. But it's unexpectedly chilly today--it's just 52 where the high was supposed to be 62, still low for this time of year--and I am out in my yard. Now, I am siting in full sun wearing a dark blue hoodie, and this matters...because I am all toasty-warm while breathing in clear, chill air and soaking in the green of leaves all around me. It's almost a dream, really, because this is exactly what I love...well, just below a flourishing garden full of tomatoes and peppers, of course.

The school year is winding down. Finals are tomorrow and Friday, then comes a pointless last-day on Tuesday. I have no idea if there'll even be work the next three school days. But for now, everything is fine.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


...that I can only plant so much. :)

Today I finished up my planting, pretty much. There are two or three
more spots where I can put starts, since the ones I put out there
failed, but otherwise all my tomatoes and peppers are out. I have a
bean tower up and a ring of Blue Lake green beans planted, as well as
five hills of cukes and a couple more hills of patty-pan squash. Also,
one more hill of Amish muskmelon, though it may be too shaded to
produce. Put out some basil in the row-ends that I had available,
using leftover seeds from last year (still on the stalk). Also planted
my small patch of Fernleaf Fiddleneck, a bee-attracting annual.

Dangit! To ($*(*#*!!! with fibro! I want to get out and plant more,
but I only have so much property! I want to plant brassicas, and
jalapenos, and pumpkins, and watermelons, and Hutterite soup beans,
and lima beans, and paste tomatoes, and...and...and... But I only have
a small part of a quarter-acre!

If anyone can ever bottle the joy of gardening, I'll invest. :)

An Obama Landslide?

Here's one of the indications why:

Daily Kos

Essentially, when the REPUBLICANS think John McCain is a few Legos short of a "Space Shuttle Set," and when they think Barack Obama is "brilliant," you know you've got a winner.

I love being in a good mood

Here's why, in short:

* Barbecued ribs yesterday. The leftovers are still excellent. I am close to developing a style and flavor I consider my own.

* Gardened all weekend. Everything is planted. Actually, someone on one of my Yahoo gardening groups is promising me her leftover starts, and I have room for maybe, uh, two or three of them. But there's tomatoes, peppers, patty-pan squash, green beans, cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, and some herbs. I overcame fibromyalgia to put in raised beds...YES!!! Now comes the fun part: watching them grow, and doing the little bitty things to help them. Tinker, tinker, tinker.

* The Sox beat San Francisco two games in a row, and right now are ahead 4-2 in the top of the 6th. And Mark Buehrle hit a fabulous single yesterday--I mean, a really great single that came close to being a double. Reminded me of the day I saw Milt Pappas hit a home run about thirty-five years ago.

* Am reliving my "If I Ran the Zoo" fantasies...regarding my own retail store. More as it becomes more possible. (Someone want to lend me a few thousand bux?)

* Obama is succeeding despite the Fright Wing Noise Machine's efforts to turn him into some sort of 1968 Black Panther Muslim America-hating hysterical radical.

* The MSM (main stream media) may actually be paying some sort of cursory attention to John McCain's flip-flops, lies, diversions, attacks, and unsavory connections. (Pastor Hagee, anyone?)

* My cat did not take the momentary opportunity to escape the house and get out into the Big Wide World.

* I've allowed myself a little beer. A little. For today.

*Hockey playoffs are over. I think. Are they? Did they start?

Things are just generally going well. How's that for a post?

UPDATE: Sox 13, Giants 8. Three-game sweep on the West Coast. I want a double-header! LET'S PLAY TWO!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Garden stuff

The respite from fibromyalgia goes on! After work, I felt good enough to finally do some of my planting. I know some of you plant by the cycles of the moon, but I plant by the cycles of my job, if it's not raining, and when I feel good. As They Might Be Giants sang in their song "Triangle Man," "When they meet it's a happy land!"

So the front is planted. Thanks to the seed savers for borage, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, and marjoram! Mixed some Starbuck's grounds in with the soil, raked it out, sowed, and watered. Even felt good enough to do the part way in the back close to my fence, where I put in a butterfly mix, dill, and summer savory. (The dill will be interesting. I had some dill seed I got from an organic spice dealer MANY years ago...I'm talking, well before there was an Internet! I never used it, but I had so much that if one seed out of a hundred germinated, I'll have a decent patch. I also put in some seed from 1999 and fresh from this year. It'll be fun to see what I get.)

Also the Yukon Gold taters are FINALLY coming up in my tire gardens...the peas, radishes, and spinach seem to have stalled (too much mulch, not enough compost is my thought)...and the store-bought taters are continuing to work their way upward. I stopped adding dirt to the ones in the trash bin, but I'll still add some to the ones in the one tire patch. Oh yeah--and took the pop-bottle cloches off tonight, since the tomatoes inside were cramped and threatening to grow out of the spout. Oops. :)

It's still a little chaotic, but it's looking good. Crossing my fingers, tomorrow will see me put up the raised beds, my bean tower, and plant my cukes and patty-pan squash. And more basil. :) Oh yeah--and BBQ ribs tomorrow, too. Damn, I have got to get me some beer!


Thursday, May 15, 2008

I actually wanted...

I was going to ramble about a few things, but I am too tired to think. Would've covered: Bush as a douche for his "appeaser" comments, McCain doubly so for repeating it AND naming Neville Chamberlain, gardening a little because the fibromyalgia subsided for a couple of days, the Democratic victory in Mississippi against a GOPer using Obama as a weapon (Daily Kos) presaging an Obama win in November, John Edwards being a stand-up guy and having the prettiest hair I've ever seen on a man, Bush as a douche for lying about quitting golf (after saying he gave it up as his big sacrifice for the war), maybe some thoughts on the revelation that Einstein called religion a "childish superstition," and kudos to Chris "Tweety" Matthews for ripping apart that know-nothing right-wing radio talk show host on his show, but I'm pretty beat.

Days like this, frozen pizza rocks.

Ramblin' guy

This week's comic:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Political OCD

One of the indicators of the obsessive-compulsive personality is all-or-nothing fixations. This is something I was told years ago, and I know this well because I am obsessive/compulsive in a lot of things: food and beer for instance. We become either all for something or all against it; we love something or hate it irrationally; we either do the whole job or nothing at all. As a for-instance, some years ago I was athletic, rode my bike almost 20 miles a day, and obsessively trained to become the best cyclist in the world. Of course, my knowledge was well short of my vision, and one day it became clear just how wide the gulf was between my daydreams and my capabilities. From that day on, cycling was ruined for me. If I couldn't eventually become the best in the world, I wouldn't do it at all.

As we head into the 2008 elections, I see a lot of this happening on both the Democratic and Republican sides, more so with the Dems. On the GOP side, they already seem to be getting over it. There was the initial surge of "If it's McCain, we won't vote at all" or "If it's McCain, we're voting Hillary." But as expected, the reality of the political landscape is hitting the GOP voters and the likelihood of a Democratic presidency is corralling them into lockstep again. Make no mistake, by November every GOP voter will be voting McCain. 

But on the Dem side, I don't know what we'll get. There's a particularly rabid support for Hillary that I find disturbing. Here's a link to an article about whether Obama will choose Hillary for his VP: New York Observer More than the article, read the comments. Are some of them astroturfers or Flush Rimjob's "Operation Chaos" flunkies? I don't know, but if they are genuine, the vitriol coming from some Hillary supporters is really frightening. If Obama doesn't choose Hillary, they'll vote for McCain? Are they insane? Everything that Hillary supposedly stands for--such as universal health care and abortion rights--are things McCain is resolutely opposed to. But they've taken the position that if they don't get their way, they'll sabotage the election.

In what way is that a rational response? It reminds me more than a little of the Apple fanbois who post MacDailyNews, among other sites. No one can say anything negative about the object of their obsession lest they be condemned. And frighteningly enough, it reminds me of the rabid Bushies who cannot tolerate even the slightest criticism of the right wing. Now, since I've admitted to being OCD myself, I will admit: if she somehow becomes the nominee, I won't vote for Hillary. This is because I simply cannot believe she would make a good president. I don't think she would. She is too divisive, too self-interested, and contradictorily too dependent on public opinion to truly lead. But does that mean I would vote for McCain? Not on your life. I couldn't imagine a realistic scenario where McCain would get my vote. I'll vote Green, or some other third party, but I can't vote for Hillary or McCain. I can't vote for another unitary executive.

But that doesn't mean I want to punish the Democratic Party for not nominating Obama to the point of voting for the enemy. That's irrational. The hatred from some Clintonistas toward Obama is almost savage, and it's rooted in the Clinton arrogance that they were owed this election, that Obama has taken away their divine right. It's a righteous rage of the sort we saw from the GOP when Bill Clinton was elected. They were enraged, offended, indignant that anyone would take away their God-given right to run the country as they saw fit, voters be damned, and the Clintonistas are too. They're cloaking it in feminist terms--a vote against Hillary is a vote for misogyny--but for those rabid supporters, there's something deeper. It's as if it's a blow against their identity. By removing the object of their affection, the voters are hurting them personally.

This political OCD-ness has been ruling the political land for the last 16 years and we need to get away from it. My support for my candidate does not mean America should be punished if he does not get elected. My patriotism is not wrapped up in one person. If the person I dislike most gets elected, I will still support my country and hope for the best. I want America to do well. When Obama gets the nomination--which is about as certain as such a thing can be now--I hope Hillary's supporters can abandon their irrational hatred of the man and vote for the best course for this country, not for a scorched earth.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

First in an unevenly contributed series!

First Blog Entry...just rambles

I hate introductory posts. They always sound too much like a sales pitch. I'll just start and, if you read enough of these, you'll learn what you need to.


A weirdness in the Hoosier State: Ron Paul signs. I have NO idea why the Paulies are still promoting this guy. By that I mean that they were, as of Tuesday at least, *still* putting up new signs for this guy. I don't know if he was even on the ballot in yesterday's primary, but I saw a great big Paul sign on the way to Chicago yesterday. (It covered up the "US out of the UN" sign that's normally there.) My nephew told me he saw one on his way to work last night that wasn't there the day before. What is it about Paulies? Don't they have a clue that his horse was dead before the Republican race even started?

Ron Paul. Because 519 crazy Libertarian types can't be wrong.


I'm really psyched about how well Barack Obama did in yesterday's primary here in the Hoosier State. He lost? Au frere, mai contraire! Indiana is probably the hickest state north of the Mason-Dixon line and east of the Pecos. Up here, our people ain't too fond of the coloreds. And still they came out in the hundreds of thousands to support the first African-American man running for President! Indiana might, just MIGHT, even go blue in November. Think about THAT. The last Dem this state went for was Lyndon Johnson, and he was a Texan, after all. 

It says great big long Chris Matthews-sized rants about how much a uniter Obama is. If he can pull together enough voters in Indiana to essentially break even in the primary, he's got the Big Mo. I've wanted him to be President ever since I cast a vote for him back when I lived in the North Suburbs, and he's fulfilling everyones dreams about him.

Plus he stopped smoking. Now he is...COMPLETE.


It hasn't been a good week for the garden. Let me tell you: fibromyalgia SUCKS. I don't care how many doctors doubt its existence, I have one who confirmed that I have it and I can tell you that it sucks mightily. I've been fending off attacks the last week that have virtually incapacitated me. Saturday and Sunday were going to be my days to till the garden, but I could hardly lift my arms without shaking. Same with Monday. Then last night I got walloped with the worst one yet. They come out of nowhere, start with a little pain and weakness in the lower back of my shoulders, then spread out to where I am shaking, sweating, and hardly able to move. Totally unpredictable. It's as if I am running a marathon and hit "the wall" by just picking up the garden hose or walking outside. 

It's always worse in summer, too. Whee!


You know, that's enough for a first blog. Maybe in the future they'll be more focused. I kind of doubt it. We'll see.