Archive for October, 2011

31
Oct
11

midlife crisis stage 7 (8? 135? who’s counting?)

As far as I can remember (being too lazy to walk into the other room and get “the book” in order to cite it directly) women go through various “brain” stages, almost entirely dependent upon hormonal changes. (I know, right? So much for thinking we’re “making decisions” or “finding ourselves.” Apparently we’re all just victims of estrogen and/or testosterone and/or progestogens; oh, that’s funny, at first I typed protestogens — Dyslexics of the world, untie! —  is that Freudian?)

So teenage years are rebellious, as burgeoning women fight for freedom and independence and search for sexual identity. (Again, I’m not quoting, I’m “remembering,” and probably citing as much from personal experience/memory as from anything any psychiatrist or sociologist said.)

The twenties are dominated by an ambitious tendency, gradually ceding into “mommy brain.”

In her thirties, a woman is wrapped up in nurturing her children, while perhaps trying to hang on to (by her fingernails, probably, if the first priority is any priority at all) her professional identity.

In her forties a woman begins to look beyond all of the people she has been taking care of and starts to think about taking care of herself.

In her fifties (supposedly, I am despitewhatyouallmightthink NOT THERE YET), a woman becomes quite “selfish” — looking to have HER needs met, and a last sprint/gasp professionally, so to speak, before the retirement years set in.

I don’t even want to think about what might happen in the sixties. I’m having a hard enough time with the fact that I’m going to be 47 in a few weeks, which is a helluva lot closer to 50 than it is to 40 and actually seems a helluva lot older than 46. Just sayin’.

Is this funny? I think so. But maybe that’s just my “Indecision Nucleus” talking. Oh, and btw, women can spell. Snap!

Anyway, I find I’m belying the 50s expectations in that my professional ambitions are waning. Yes, there’s a part of me that is kind of tired of being “mom” (sorry, Hannah) and ready to move on — looking forward to years with Husband and travel and beautiful meals together without anyone wrinkling up his or her nose and asking if it’s “spicy” or why we can’t eat hamburgers like normal people. (At the same time I would likeitverymuch if Only Daughter stopped trying to figure out how to be 18 and was just 10 for at least a little while longer.) But I’m finding that I just kind of want to do my job, be respected and paid fairly for it, and then come home and take a nap on my couch or knit or beat OD at Rummikub or get a dog or something.

Speaking of which, we might be getting a dog.

I’ve found a breeder that I know of and therefore trust who has a new litter of Coton’s — hypoallergenic, good temperament, small, and local, so I can visit and become acquainted with the puppy rather than adopt from a rescue (enough of that, have been on that emotional roller coaster for several weeks now) or buy from someone in another state and have the pup shipped sight unseen.

I’d post a picture, but the breeders aren’t very “techie” so there aren’t any available. Am hoping to visit next Thursday, so will keep you all posted.

Here’s a “generic” Coton”

Can a dog be cuter than this? I didn’t think so.

ANYWAY,  see? I can’t even keep my mind on my “work.”

Ha.

I’m supposed to be planning Friday’s seminar right now.

Instead I’m drinking way better Scotch than I can afford (thank you, Husband dear) and wondering if there are 30 Rock reruns on cable.

So much for professional ambitions.

And the funny thing is, I don’t really care.

Although maybe that’s the scotch.

31
Oct
11

heard, at dinner, Halloween 2011

Only Daughter: So Willow Smith is famous and like totally shouldn’t be because she’s only 10 and wears really stupid clothes.

Me: Well, why do you suppose she’s famous?

OD: Her brother, Jaden, was in that Karate movie.

Me: Oh, so that’s Will Smith’s daughter. She’s famous because her parents are famous, and are apparently willing to allow her to make a spectacle of herself to exploit the publicity opportunities.

OD: Yeah, but she’s famous.

Me: There are better, more important things than being famous.

OD: Like money?

I’m so proud.

(When I harumphed, she said, “candy?”)(It is Halloween after all, and she did give me her [lone, miniature] Babe Ruth and [lone, but super size] Butterfinger. Such a good girl.)

In a related story, what’s up with this hairdo?

This has to fall under the “you don’t have to do it just because you can” category.

Sheesh.

30
Oct
11

this week from the road, seen from Saturday

the starlings swarmed and swooshed
around their favorite overpass

and the fog drifted in waves across the road
like from a machine on a dark and windy stage,
while leaves flung themselves from branches
and danced around the car

I drove you to the airport Thursday
morning and sometime around this afternoon
tired of the company of my own silence

on my way to dinner with a friend
the moon slipped through a snip in the fabric of the
pale-blue metal of the sky,
the sun having laid its ribbon of pink
along the horizon
and that big oak on the right side
of the road shone with its black shadow light
as a single handful of rain slapped against
my windshield

I used to long to be alone
and now you are always here
glowing like a coal at the center of me

when I put my steak into the pan last night
on its bed of salt and pepper
the flame caught a drip of fat or
a grain of salt, and
seared a thread of my sweater,
I noticed it from the corner of my mind
and then it was gone;

is the edge always, just, right there?

come home

28
Oct
11

the tree of life

Just finished watching The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain, with a few brief and puzzling appearances by Sean Penn.

First of all, I feel I must stress that I have no problem with poetic moviemaking, powerful symbolism, or beautiful cinematography. What I do have a problem with is the fact that the director, Terrence Malick, seemed to have two irreconcilable goals in the making of this movie: trying to tell a compelling and powerful story about a complex character and the family at his mercy, and trying to incorporate every powerful moment or image Malick has experienced since childhood.

It’s kind of funny that I ended up watching this tonight, because I was thinking, literally just a couple of hours before, about whether it would be possible to tell the story of a life through a series of songs, or pictures; whether the changes in feeling and ambition and perspective that mark one’s passage through this life can be reflected adequately without a narrative.

This is what Malick seems to have tried to do, but I don’t think he did it very well. There are too many gaps in the narrative — principally, which son died? and at what point in the rest of the character’s lives? If you want to do it poetically, you need to do it all poetically.

Instead, when he gets to a point in the story where he doesn’t know how to tell it, he just cops out, and opts instead for montages of creation-of-the-earth-à-la-2001:A-Space-Odyssey, or crowds of people “coming to the water.” Then, when the images seem to have tried the last possible shred of patience from the viewer, he returns to the story at some point in the future (or, even more frustratingly, cuts to the closing credits). I guess we are all supposed to feel that the “story had been told” (did it not matter? was it supposedly obvious? is it too pedantic of us to want to have a vague idea what’s going on?) and are just so flippin’ happy to be done watching volcanos and dinosaur/bird/pterodactyl things poking each other with their beaks we won’t mind or notice.

Didn’t work for me.

Should have watched The Third Man.

The opening monologue, though, is lovely — apparently two writings called “The Way of Grace” and “The Way of Nature.” Anybody have/know the text?

28
Oct
11

today in politics

Today’s headlines re: the Republican candidates.

Just what this country needs; someone who can’t manage their own campaign.

But we all know what we really need, more jobs. Maybe Rick Perry has the answer. (If you click on each ad banner it will take you to the whole article.)

But then there’s this:

Meh. Details, details.

And then, last but not least, the stalwart long-suffering “front runner,” Romney.

Oops. That wasn’t the one I meant.

That’s funny, I didn’t even do that on purpose.

Here.

This all just makes me tired.

I actually got an email from People or the American Way a few days ago, with this in the subject line:

“Is it time you ran for office?”

I snorted and thought, as if! What sane person wants to run for office. And then it occurred to me.

Exactly!!!

In a related story, I re-posted this on facebook today, from a post that I can now attribute to Axis Mundi:

When Egypt’s people protested, we supported them. When Libya’s people protested, we supported them even more than we supported Egypt. When our people protest, we ignore them, shoot them, gas them, beat them, arrest them, and make fun of them on TV, the radio, and the internet.

As an American, how do you justify this?

And a friend replied:

we cheered and supported them in their fight over tyranny, and for a chance at maybe democracy, although that remains to be seen. I think our protests are seen as something altogether different and can’t be compared as apples to apples. If we are to avoid bankruptcy, drastic measures must be taken, and unfortunately, that means tougher times.. And yes, we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor. Some things won’t change..Sorry..I think that’s why so many look at our protesters as a bunch of sob asses
I fear he’s missing the point.
Maybe some of these protestors are “putting on airs” by comparing the plight of the American middle class with the plight of Arabian people oppressed by brutal dictators — this is unfortunate, and regrettable; but at the same time, I believe it was Goethe that said that none are so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe they are free. Our “democracy” is a fallacy, with our government being sold off to the highest bidder, and his statement that “we will always have the rich, as we will always have the poor” made me first wonder if he was actually quoting Jesus. (Knowing him as I do, I doubt it.) But when 1% of the population controls 40% of the wealth of the country, and the government is for sale, we’re all in trouble. A nation can only thrive with a thriving middle class. And while I count myself lucky that I’ve so far managed to keep my head above water, my children fed and housed and educated, I am exactly that. Lucky. The fact that I’ve earned a Doctorate and have 20 years of professional experience in my field, and the best I can hope for is piecework as an adjunct with no salary, no benefits, and no security is only one piece of the pie chart that shows the trouble this country is in.
Basta. It’s past my bedtime.
26
Oct
11

i might have to buy this book, or make an appointment with a psychiatrist

On the blog Good Mom/Bad Mom, Jenny Lawson posts about season-appropriate “children’s” books.

I have to admit, at the risk of revealing myself to be an unimaginative, drudge-like stick-in-the-mud (what does that expression mean, btw? Am I stuck in the mud? Then shouldn’t it be “stuck-in-the-mud”? Or if it’s an actual stick, like from a tree, in the mud, what does that have to do with anything?) (what was I saying?) (oh, yeah), I’m not really all that interested in books about zombies.

I did think that the book “Monsters Eat Whiny Children” looked interesting, if for no other reason than to leave it lying around the house to intimidate piano students who don’t practice enough and come with their excuses polished and ready.

A commenter suggested “Daddy Drinks Because You Cry,” which I thought sounded really funny in a Family-Guy-inappropriate kind of way. (Aside: I love Family Guy, but never got into the habit of watching it because then my sons would watch too and I would have to wrestle with the urge to laugh uproariously over something immensely inappropriate so as not to be a “bad example.”)

But apparently this book doesn’t actually exist. (In the interests of “research,” I checked. I wasn’t going to buy it. I wasn’t!)

Speaking of inappropriate. . .

I commented after Jenny’s post that I thought this book looked kind of whimsical, despite the likelihood that it included some black humor; but that it also reminded me of my grandma in her early 90s.

Then I clicked on the image of the cover, expecting a book about, well, dinosaurs. It is what’s illustrated on the cover after all.

But this is the first page that came up when I clicked on “See all 6 customer images.”

This is some kind of creepy. Like someone has been watching me slowly but systematically killing each and every one of my house plants over the past 15 years, and is sending me not-all-that-coded nor all-that-subtle messages.

(Notice, in the banner, the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. This is on purpose. And symbolic. I have one plant left in my house, a Zu-Zu, which is reportedly “unkillable.” I believe the exact terms were “thrives under benign neglect.” [Although now that I do a little more research, this is apparently a fallacy. Nice. Thank you, Lowe’s.] Recently 5 of the 8 stalks died. 3 persist, despite the odds. What can I say? It’s a gift. We were, recently and briefly, in the process of adopting a rescued Havanese. I was afraid they were somehow going to research my houseplant history and find me wanting. Despite the fact that my children and pets seem to survive; except for fish, of course.)

ANYWAY

The next four pages of the book go like this: (I’m guessing in sequence, although I might be making assumptions [it wouldn’t be the first time]. If it’s not the sequence found in the book, it should be.)

I know, I know, this should be sad. I remember my grandma saying how alone she was. It was really, really sad. It was.

But it’s just funny to me. Maybe because it shouldn’t be. Or maybe I’m just hopeless.

Me, to Husband: “Is there something wrong with me that I thinks this is so funny?”

Husband: “I don’t think so.”

Hmmmm.

26
Oct
11

guess which is which

On my way to bed last night I fetched my phone from wherever I had left it and noticed I had 2 text messages, one from each son, each away at their respective colleges.

Guess which is from “First” and which is “Second”

Text message A:  How do you make those baked home fries so delicious?

Text message B:  Guess who has ibs?

 

I’d offer a prize for the winner, but it’s a) just too obvious and b) I’m broke.

Ah, parenthood. Who knew it would be this much fun?

 

 

25
Oct
11

sugarsugar followup

Decided, in the interests of research and my obligation to provide as complete of a story as my schedule will allow, and to follow up on my last post. I just went to the sugarsugar.com website.

I find some of the publicity particularly interesting/thought provoking.

Let’s start here:

SugarSugar.com is for generous men looking to spoil, and dynamic women looking for financial support with bills, or who just need some excitement in life! Started by a real sugar baby, SugarSugar.com only accepts true, proven sugar daddies and sugar babies, and provides a staff of sugar dating experts to help you find the perfect mutually beneficial arrangement.

Okay, so obviously this hasn’t been written by an English major (big surprise). “. . .generous men looking to spoil. . .” like old fruit left in the back of the fridge?

“. . . and dynamic women looking for financial support. . .”

And this isn’t prostitution because?

And I wonder what criteria are used to qualify as a “proven” sugar daddy or sugar baby. Maybe I don’t want to know.

Then there’s:

Men: join the only dating site where women outnumber you by 8-to-1.

One has to wonder why a man would require that kind of odds. Call me cynical, just don’t call me late for dinner

And then the icing on the cake:

Also, I’ve got room for another Sugar Baby around Scottsdale, AZ, who’d be interested in accompanying me on big nights out on the town. If you’re interested, you can email me personally at paul@sugarsugar.com, or, of course, find me on the site.

My first question is what kind of self-respecting woman signs up to be “another,” the local attraction, so-to-speak, like people who have several houses and have to keep a wardrobe of clothes in each closet. But maybe I’m asking the wrong question by including “self-respecting” in it in the first place.

I can think of a lot of accomplishments that might bring me satisfaction and pride: writing a novel, winning the Nobel Prize, having emotionally strong and personally successful children, beating my husband at Scrabble or tennis. Being a “Sugar Baby” is certainly not one of them.

Now I imagine a lot of these “Sugar Babies” are fun, energetic, cheerful, attractive women, (I sincerely doubt they make the “cut” if they’re not), maybe without a lot of prospects in terms of intelligence, education, professional opportunities, (I speculate, of course; my apologies if I’m stereotyping or offending anyone), who have decided that their best route to financial security is to find a wealthy man to marry. Kind of a Pretty Woman for the internet age. (Absolutely dreadful movie, btw, DREADFUL. Julia Roberts should be ashamed and/or embarrassed. As should Richard Gere, for that matter. Sheesh.)

Here is a clip of some of the SugarBabies for sale who are available.


I guess if it doesn’t work out, they could get a job at Hooters.

Reminds me of a story my husband tells.

A friend of his is at a Blood Drive to donate blood. As you may know, this generous act requires the potential donor to fill out a questionnaire about his health, and a survey inquiring as to whether he has participated in any questionable behaviors which might lead to blood-borne diseases.

Interviewer: “Have you ever paid for sex?”

Friend: “Does jewelry count?”

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

But seriously.

Have we really come to this?

So again, in the interests of research, I decided to investigate who they might suggest for me.

The first page included 9 “SugarDaddy” prospects. Three of them declared their worth at less than $50000, occupations included prep cook, student, wood finisher, and party DJ.

According to “Angelena,” becoming a SugarBaby can bring you an allowance of $3,000-$5,000 per month. I’m guessing that figure varies.

I’d ask where the SugarMommies are, but that seems, on many levels, to be a stupid question.

Never mind.

24
Oct
11

seriously?

I can honestly say I had no idea.

Husband says: “Didn’t think of that, did you?”

I snort.

As if.

24
Oct
11

a plan that just might work

Got this from facebook today.

I think this is a brilliant plan. If they’re going to make laws, they should live by them.

If you agree, share it.

Warren Buffett, in a recent interview with CNBC, offers one of the best quotes about the debt ceiling:

“I could end the deficit in 5 minutes,” he told CNBC. “You just pass a law that says that anytime there
is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.”

……
The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why? Simple – the people demanded it. That was in 1971 – before computers, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took one (1) year or less to become the law of the land – all because of public pressure.

Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address
list and ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really
should be passed around.

_*Congressional Reform Act of 2011*_

1. No Tenure / No Pension.
A Congressman/woman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they’re out of office.

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise.
Congressional pay will rise by CPI or 3%, whichever is lower.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

7. All contracts with past and present Congressmen/women are void effective 1/1/12.
The American people did not make these contracts with Congressmen/women; Congressmen/women made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, it should not be a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work – our Presidents do.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S.) to receive the message. You may not agree entirely with all these points, but this is a start – don’t you think it’s time?

23
Oct
11

a sign of what we all should fear

Art Pope, who inherited from his father of a chain of discount shops known as Variety Wholesalers (basically a smaller but still incredibly profitable version of WalMart), is systematically purchasing legislative seats in North Carolina. (Click on the picture for a link to the whole article.)

He claims this is all done out of completely altruistic motives — rampant capitalism and the creation of wealth as the system that will save the world. His explanation of the existence of poverty and low incomes is that these are merely a factor of youth and poor education, but “usually, as people get older. . .they [will] save and retain wealth, and [eventually] work their way up.” He also claims that most poverty exists as a result of “self-destructive behavior.” Tell that to the nearly 33% of the minority children living in his state who are living in poverty. What were their self-destructive acts, one might ask? Being born to the wrong parents?

Meanwhile, he funds  battles (even more easily than he did before, thanks to helpful decisions like Citizens United) that put people who think like him into state government and on school boards and as trustees of major universities where budgets are cut and one of the best integration systems in the country is decimated, seeming completely to miss the point that he has made earlier — that a lack of education is one of the things that keep people from prospering.

And never mind the fact that he was born into wealth, status, and privilege, and that the “work ethic” that produced most of his wealth comes from the parents he was born to, the writing of the will that passed it on to him, and the people who work for his company at minimum wage.

He claims to be both a “traditional conservative” and a “classical liberal” (whatever that means), and that his philosophy is based in his belief in the “marketplace of ideas.” Meanwhile, he machinates the drastic cutting of university budgets, followed by a benevolent offer to donate millions of dollars to fund programs that would turn liberal-arts educations into “personal creation of wealth” trade schools.

So many voters have been beguiled by the (family foundation-run) Civitas-sponsored robo-calls and misleading-to-the-point-of-racist-sexist-and/or-libelous postcards deposited into their mailboxes that Republicans have gained a majority in the North Carolina legislature for the first time in a hundred years.

Pope reassures us, though, that there’s plenty we can do about it. If his opponents disagree, they’re welcome to “fund their own side.”

Because all those people working minimum-wage jobs and/or struggling to put their children through colleges that are getting more and more difficult to afford have the resources to do so.

We’re selling our country, and the running of it, to the highest bidder. When will we stop being sheep? When will we stop believing every ridiculous lie told to us by the people with money we all secretly wish we had? When will we hang up on the robo-calls and throw the postcards into the trash where they belong and actually bother to research the people for whom we are being asked to vote? And where are the true liberals — those who believe in both economic opportunity and social responsibility, those who recognize both the benefits of a free market and its perils, those who can frame our arguments in compelling and actionable terms, those who not only believe that we have a moral responsibility to make this world the best we possibly can for everyone but who can help us recognize that what is best for each of us is what is good for everyone?

I thought it would be Obama. I’m not sure anymore, especially because he seems to be so busy being conciliatory and careful he never really seems to stand up for what I’m sure he still believes in. But I am sure that it isn’t any of the current Republican candidates either, and I am constantly perplexed by the centrists who voted for Obama, are disappointed in what has or hasn’t happened since his election, and think that Rick Perry or Mitt Romney might be a viable alternative.

Meanwhile I’m too busy trying to scrape together a living from my three part-time jobs to participate in marches on any street, and am tiring of the flooding of my inbox by petitions that need to be signed and worthwhile causes that need donations. Where is all that wealth I’ve been educated for (doctoral degree) and work for and still can’t seem to accumulate while I pay down my $120,000 mortgage and try to put three kids through college?

Or maybe having three children without a multi-millionaire father and business to inherit qualifies as “self-destructive.”

21
Oct
11

caveat emptor

So, I blogged a few days ago about buying a couch.

On Tuesday, my husband and I went to get it.

We were very excited.

We brought it home, carried it into the house, unwrapped it from the sheets of foam, discovered that the legs were cleverly hidden inside a zippered pouch underneath, assembled it, and put it into place.

It looked very nice.

I arranged the pillows we had bought for it, and we stepped back to admire.

I then went into the kitchen to start preparations for my piano class, and Husband carried the sheets of foam to the dumpster after wrestling the old couch down to Second Son’s bedroom.

Twenty minutes later Husband was walking through the living room, and Sophie, our tiny Siamese, jumped down off the couch. He heard a ripping sound, and went over to look. One of her back claws had ripped a series of scratches/holes through what we had thought was leather to the polyester backing underneath.

Three important things have been learned this week:

1.

“Bonded leather,” despite the similarity of the name to “leather,” is not.

Here’s the description of the couch from the Worldmarket website:

Here’s a description of “bonded leather” from Wikipedia:

I don’t suppose this is a commentary on the American family, and “daily family use” implies a family who won’t ever sit on the couch because they’re so busy volunteering at their local homeless shelter, raking their neighbor’s leaves and/or studying for their MBA?

2.

WorldMarket apparently manipulates the comments/reviews portion of their website.

I wrote this review, on Tuesday, the 18th, on their website:

Your Rating: 1 stars
Headline: DO NOT BUY THIS COUCH

Cons : Tears Easily
Describe Yourself : Midrange Shopper

This couch was in our house for 30 minutes and had 4 scratches through the “leather” to the polyester underneath, a result of our 9 lb. Siamese cat jumping off it once. (She’s not “Wolverine.”) We were told on the phone that this does not qualify as “daily use,” and that they probably won’t be able to give us our money back.

Don’t be fooled — Bonded Leather is not leather, but a fancy name for cheap, useless vinyl. Am so upset I probably won’t buy anything from World Market for a long time.

This is the ONLY review of this couch on their website, also submitted on the 18th, which just appeared today:

You can be comforted by the possibility that they didn’t completely disregard my review. I noticed yesterday that items which, the day before we had bought the couch, had been described as “leather” are now labelled as “bicast leather” (another form of leather “product” that isn’t, really, leather). So apparently, the reviews come in handy for them to make sure they cover their proverbial a$&es in how they describe their items.

3.

Store managers are a lot more willing to take returns when you talk to people at the corporate office.

And one thing, which I always knew, but apparently forgot:

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

**********

On a happy note, we found a beautiful Italian leather couch at a local furniture store which has been dramatically reduced, albeit still ~ 5 times what we paid for this plastic one, and which we can order in our choice of leather colors. I’ve always wanted a purple leather couch, and this is a gorgeous purple — not Barney purple, or Grape Nehi purple, but the color of a glass of a rich French burgundy wine.

This may end up being our Christmas present to each other.

The only bad part of it is, Husband has to wrestle the old couch back up to the living room for 8-10 weeks while we wait for the dream couch to arrive.

 

 

 

20
Oct
11

what are YOU lookin’ at? UPDATED

Conversation in the car today:

Husband: Why is that yo-yo driving so slowly?

Me: Probably talking on his cell phone. Oh, no, look, he’s getting into the left lane so he can turn into Hooter’s. Probably thinking about his “dinner.”

Husband: I ate at a Hooter’s once.

Me: Yeah, I know, I know, for their really good “hamburgers,” like people guys who “read” Playboy for the interviews.

Husband: No, really. I was on a tour with some hockey guys for a tournament and there was a big playoff game and this was the only restaurant that was showing the game on TV.

Me: So you stopped at a lot of restaurants and made inquiries, huh?

Husband: (dodging the question) You know, I didn’t really notice anything all that special. I guess the waitresses were pretty, and they wore really short, tight, shorts.

Me: And had really big boobs.

Husband: Well I guess some of them might have; they can’t really hire based on that can they? Wouldn’t that be discrimination?

Me: I think it’s not discrimination if they say it’s one of the job qualifications.

Husband: But do they have to be big to be “hooters”? I mean, you can have little “hooters” can’t you?

Me: (long silence while I decide how to respond to this ridiculous question)

Husband; Well, no, I guess you can’t. It doesn’t really matter, though, if you’ve seen one set you’ve seen them all. (UPDATED: Should have said this in the first place; this is one of the many reasons why I love him.)

Me: I imagine there might be one or two men in the world who might disagree; more of a “so many boobs, so little time” kind of a thing.

Husband: (awkward silence while he wonders if I’m going to blog about this)

Me: I am so blogging about this.

UPDATED:

Looking for this:

Found this:

Perfect.

If you click on the picture you get a link to an article about discrimination suits being brought against Hooters, mainly by men (poor babies, they’re always treated so shabbily). But the next-to-last paragraph and the last sentence of the article just kill me every time I read them.

“Certainly they have made decisions on who is and who is not eligible for serving positions but that is the appeal of the restaurant. The food is at best mediocre so the main reason to go to the restaurant is, well, the boobs and without those the company will likely suffer a significant decline in their patronage, something which could be devastating in this economy,” said Scrape TV Legal analyst Gabe Hawthorne. “The issue for the courts though is whether or not they are employing prejudicial employment practices. If big breasts and nice legs constitute a significant part of their business model then they could end up with a win, but if they define themselves as a restaurant then they are going to run into trouble.” (Despite temptation, I have decided not to fix the punctuation problems from the above quote.)

Advocacy groups for ugly and fat women are reportedly also watching the proceedings very carefully.    

“Ugly and fat” women have “advocacy groups”? How humiliating do you suppose it is to petition for representation? It’s Hooters. The whole business model is based on the exploitation of pretty, well-endowed, young women. Are ugly, fat women wishing they could work there? Why would any woman want to work there? “Yes, please, sign me up to be gawked at, groped, and treated like an object.” Thanks but no thanks. For that matter, if men want a job, put them in short-shorts and subject them to weighing and measuring (relax, I meant pecs and waist, but okay, maybe that, too), stamp “I am a piece of meat” on their forehead and let them deliver all the hamburgers they want.

Just sayin’.

17
Oct
11

Dulera

To treat your asthma symptoms.

Will not replace a rescue inhaler.

Inclues ________, which may increase the risk of death from asthma symptoms.

Well, that sounds like a good idea.

17
Oct
11

pinterest

Just managed to “score” an “invitation” to join Pinterest.

I’m not really sure what this process is supposed to represent. Being the mildly cynical sort, I can’t help but feel that the manufactured experience of petitioning for an “invitation” is supposed to make you feel like you’ve gained access to some kind of exclusive club.

And at the risk of sounding paranoid, if I link my pinterest board to my twitter or facebook accounts, is there any way of knowing whether pinterest is pillaging all of my personal information for some nefarious reason?

(You know, just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean the world isn’t out to get you.)

I do often feel that much of our time is spent shouting and waving our arms, like the chronic middle child: “Me! Me! Pay attention to me!” We write on facebook about what we’re doing today or what we’re eating or what we’re thinking; we write on blogs to rant or rave or muse. We spend a lot of time talking, but not a lot of time listening.

I’ve often wished my posts would trigger even more conversation, although I’m wondering if maybe it has something to do with how/what I write, and whether I could invite more discussion somehow. Without a trace of irony, I ask, any suggestions?

I do spend a lot of time reading, fiction, New Yorker/Sunday New York Times. I also spend a fair bit of time talking, primarily to my students, but also to my husband, daughter. I don’t think I spend enough time talking to my friends. Or my sons.

I’ll have to do something about that.

Meanwhile, if you have a pinterest account and are willing to share it, please post it in the comments.

You can find my board at http://pinterest.com/sheriji/pins/

 

 

 

 

15
Oct
11

soupy sundays, except on saturday, and not soup

Have to go to a conference tomorrow, so won’t be making soup, and won’t have time to post any recipes. Thought I’d post today’s instead.

But first — our day. Husband and I went and bought a couch:

Cuz the one we have is squishy and poorly made and falling apart, and this one was $200 off and we decided that if you only spend $300 on a couch you don’t mind if somebody’s (ahem) piano students climb all over it and stuff.

I really wanted red or purple, but they only had it in “espresso,” so we bought 4 throw pillows, in various colours and embroideries, which cost $90 altogether. Not sure this ends up being a good deal, but you can’t just have a brown couch.

Then we bought groceries. Grocery shopping has been fun since Second Son, a.k.a. Eating Boy, has gone off to college and is eating his money’s worth of (room and) board. We have been spending under $200 every week, even last week, when we bought $96 of wine that would have cost $192 if not on “special”. We call this “saving money.”

This week our groceries added up to almost $300. Maybe partially because we spent/bought so little last week, but we also bought $20 worth of lobster tails and $25 worth of tuna steaks because they were having this aMAzing seafood sale (see? “saving money”); and $12 worth of pistachios because I love pistachios and have decided not to eat gluten for a few weeks to see if I feel better (hypothyroid; it sucks) and am trying not to eat potato chips. We also splurged and bought $7 worth of pine nuts — about a half a cup. Why are these so expensive? And where do these pine nuts come from? Are we negotiating with some really hard-core squirrel unions or something? Are they that hard to grow?  I’m going to sauté green beans in garlic-y olive oil and lemon juice, and then sprinkle 7 pine nuts on top for “flavor.” I’ll let you know if it’s worth it. (It totally was.)

(Do you ever get the feeling that pretty much everything I do, personally and/or professionally, revolves around what I’m going to eat and/or drink next?)(Yeah, me, too.)

Then we came home and raked some more leaves. We live in the forest, and there are a lot of leaves, and there are still a lot of leaves in the trees, but if we wait until they all fall there are too many to rake, so we did what we call stage 1. (Although I did stage .5 yesterday when I raked them all off the driveway so my poor little Prius could make it up the hill without slipping. Wet leaves = snow when you live on a hill.) Husband and Stepson did the front yard, and I did the sidewalk (for the second time today) and the deck and the back path to the compost pile. It was quite windy, so leaves were swirling around me in great wooshes of golden light, and the air is just cold enough to feel crisp and fresh without being so cold to need a coat. Especially when you’re working hard raking. It was lovely. Except for the fact that it felt like I was throwing a half a ton of leaves over the fence onto the compost pile, it was fun. (It probably wasn’t quite that many, but it was a lot. And I’m allergic. And I have a bad back because First Son weighed 10 lbs. 10 ozs. when he was born I’mnotmakingthatup and 30 lbs. when he was a year old but he still wasn’t walking because he couldn’t get his girth off the floor so I carried him around on one hip and walked like someone who has one leg 3″ longer than the other one for a really long time. So yeah, there were a lot of leaves. And I’m a big baby. I like to say “I’m a delicate flower” but Husband usually just snorts before he remembers that he thinks so too. Anyway.)

I have Husband’s permission to post our salmon recipe. This may actually be, basically, why I married him (see two paragraphs above; NOW the secret’s really out!!!) That and his mushroom risotto. And, well, never mind.

The Best (some call it Only) Salmon Recipe Ever

For a 1 1/2 – 2 lb piece of salmon filet:

Chop 1/2 – 3/4 c. olive-packed sun dried tomatoes (the more natural, the better; we do our own; I know, we might be psychopaths)

Chop 1 bunch curly parsley really really fine.

Sprinkle 10 cloves of garlic with a generous amount coarse salt and chop fine.

Mix these three things together and drizzle with olive oil until it kind of holds together.

Stir and cover and let sit for AT LEAST 2 hours.

Put the salmon skin-side down on a piece of foil with the edges of the foil folded up to make sides. Cut through the salmon flesh without cutting through the skin — make a cut down the middle lengthwise, and then slashes every 2-3″ crosswise. Stuff the slits with the tomato/parsley/garlic mixture, and then pack the rest of the stuff along the top of the salmon. (Don’t put this on the portion Stepson will eat, because he will just scrape it all over into a pile in the corner of his plate, and you can’t just throw that away, it’s like $7 worth of sun-dried tomatoes.)

Cook on the foil over red-hot coals (close the lid of the grill) until salmon is thoroughly cooked — 15-20 minutes probably, depending on the thickness of the flesh.

Serve with brown rice (we like organic short-grain) and a lightly-chilled chardonnay.

Apologize to everyone you sit next to the next day because of the garlic aura with which you are surrounded.

It’s totally worth it.

For dessert we’re having Pomegranate Gelato

Mix the seeds from one Pomegranate with a cup of water and simmer over low low low heat until the seeds are pale and soft. (Or you could be a little less of a psycho, and buy the POM stuff.)

Mix 2 c. whole milk with 1/2 c. sugar and 1 1/2 T. of cornstarch. Whisk until foamy. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbly and foamy (don’t boil it over).

Remove from heat. Drain the juice off the pomegranate seeds into the milk mixture.

We were pouring brandy off of raspberries after 6 weeks, so we squeezed 3 c. of raspberries through a cheesecloth to get the brandy and raspberry juice, and added that to the milk mixture. If you don’t happen to have some of that handy (ha!), add 1/2 c. of raspberry, cranberry, or cherry juice.

Chill.

Process in an ice-cream maker until frozen.

Put into a plastic bowl, cover, and then put in freezer ~ 1 hr. before serving.

14
Oct
11

do I even want to know. . .?

“Representative Michele Bachmann’s law education sought to combine traditional teaching with charismatic Christian belief.

. . .where she got this “law” degree from?

Ummm, no.

Sheesh.

Crap. Curiosity got the better of me, and I’ve now discovered that her study of law was pursued at the venerable institution of, you probably guessed it, Oral Roberts University.

Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, Deliver us from Michele Bachman

Here’s a quote from the school’s dean at the time of her matriculation:

The aim. . .was to train the next generation of legal minds to “integrate their Christian faith into their chosen profession,” and to “restore law to its historic roots in the Bible.”

Hmmm. Is it just me, or does that sound an awful lot like the goals of Islam.

Apparently, at a forum last month in South Carolina, she criticized President Obama’s policies on health care, immigration and education as unconstitutional, saying the 2012 election would turn on how candidates interpret “’that sacred document.’”

The constitution? “Sacred”?

So much for the separation of church and state.

Even if I think I know what I think she thinks she means, the use of the word in this context makes me cringe. Oh, let’s face it, she just makes me cringe. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d like ANY candidates for presidency who are supported by more than 5 people in this country not to be stark-raving idiots.

We can all be comforted by the fact that the school ran out of money and closed in 1986.

At least there’s that, then.

Finally:  “Oral Roberts University was chartered in 1963 as an educational home for charismatic Christians, and placed a particular emphasis on the Spirit-given ability to speak in tongues.”

Oh! That’s what she’s doing!!! Why didn’t somebody tell me? At least that makes sense.

13
Oct
11

What?

H.R.358, would allow hospitals to refuse to provide a woman lifesaving, emergency abortion care…even if she will die without it. And they call it the “protect life” act — is there no end to their cynical, self-serving, politicizing, marketing bullshit?

And this has passed the House? Seriously?

So they are saying, in all earnestness, that the life of the unborn is more valuable than hers?

Do you suppose they take into account the possibility that she is already alive, and “viable,” and may have a husband, or even, perchance other children who might need her? No. I didn’t think so.

Is it possible that I’m so out of touch that a majority of Americans actually support this sort of thing and I not only don’t know it but I can’t understand it?

And we’re not even addressing the complicated issues that abortion presents, including the possibility that it may be approached in a frivolous way by people who don’t consider the consequences of their not-all-that-well-thought-out actions. I personally think that abortion is tragic and regrettable, and would hopefully be avoided by myself and everyone I know or care about because of the psychological and emotional pain I imagine it would present. But we’re talking about old men making these decisions for women, and we’re talking about women whose lives may be at stake, and we’re prioritizing the potential life of an unborn fetus over the life of an actual person, and we’re using money, or, rather, the withholding of it, to make our arguments for us. This is pathetic, and reprehensible, and unforgivable.

As I tweeted recently (albeit that time about the fact that Canadians wanted former president George W. Bush arrested, and I didn’t even care why), yet another reason to move to Canada.

I just can’t live with these people. And I’m writing this from my iPhone because I still don’t have internet. And I’m so upset I’m not even sure I’m speaking in complete sentences anymore and I’m trying to read it on a 3 inch screen, so it’s just making me claustrophobic and even more pissed than I already was.

I’ll edit tomorrow.

13
Oct
11

annoying for a reason?

First of all, can I just express how disgusted I am that it’s Thursday and I still don’t have internet at home. It’s been out since Monday morning; a technician came last night and tested it and for the two and a half minutes he was there it was working, and then it wasn’t working anymore. Someone’s coming again tomorrow. Hopefully he/she will be more effective than the last guy.

I have also been promised a wiring upgrade, which is supposed to help overall speed, although, at this point, I would just like to be able to get my email, even if via pony express.

Two questions.

1. Is it someone’s job to sit in a room somewhere and either compose or find the most irritating music on the planet to play over the phone line while the customer is on hold? It’s almost a guarantee, if you weren’t irate enough over whatever has prompted you to call in the first place, that you will be Irate Enough by the time you actually get a live person on the other end of the line.

I understand that they want us to be comforted some kind of signal that we are still, actually, “on hold,”  but I wonder if that could be communicated through some soft intermittent clicks, or maybe Tony Bennett or Caetano Veloso or someone.

My theory is that they want your “on hold” experience to be as painful and irritating as possible, as this may cause you just to give up, thereby requiring them to hire fewer customer service people both to man the phones and to actually do any repairs.

2.  What is up with the continuation of “monopoly” practices in divvying up internet service providers to limited areas? As far as I can tell (through my careful research done over 10 minutes yesterday via iPhone) I have two options, and they cost virtually the same, and both have approximately identical reputations for rampant “down” time and indifferent customer service. I thought we were in America, the land of the free access to all and sundry companies-who-want-my-business, where, if I’m willing to spend my money, I can have whatever I want.

Oh, that’s right, that’s just in politics.

Silly me.

Apropos of nothing, I made granola this morning.

It’s delish.

Here:

 

Mix 6 c. raw, whole oats (not the instant kind, the coarser the better) with 1 c. whole wheat flour, 1 c. sesame seeds, and 1/2 – 1 c. chopped (start with sliced) almonds.

In a blender, blend 1/3 c. each canola oil, real maple syrup, and honey + 1 T. vanilla or 2 T. orange juice concentrate until the mixture is opaque and thick.

Pour over the oat mixture and stir to coat.

Spread in two cake pans, and bake at 300˚ for an hour, stirring every 15-20 minutes. (it might take 5 minutes or so less)  Mixture should be quite brown, but may still be a touch moist until it’s cooled completely.

Cool completely. Add 1 c. of dried fruit of choice (we like dried cherries; chopped apricots, apples, raisins work well too.)

Really really good, and way cheaper than Kashi cereal or store-bought muesli. Plus it’s WAY lower in sugar and fat, because I’ve cut the liquid ingredients significantly from most recipes.

Great with soy or almond milk.

 

 

11
Oct
11

monday blues, and tuesday

Yesterday was a very demoralizing day. Spent a lot of time teaching classes of students who seem to be either catatonic or apathetic (how does one tell the difference, one might ask?). There are a few scattered among these who seem to care, which makes trying to get through to the rest even more difficult — I don’t want to lecture the class, I don’t want to make those who are invested squirm in their seats, but I just want to shake most of them.

Came home and taught piano lessons to children of all ages — four hours that flew by compared to the two hours of class that dragged. It seems most of my professional aspirations were to teach at the college level, but, ironically, most of the students in college can’t be taught at that level after all.

And no internet at home, going on two days, after weeks of intermittent and frustrating outages. So I can’t post midterm review documents on blackboard, I can only check my email through my iPhone (although my new ZAGG/mate keyboard makes this much easier to type, it’s still not that easy to read more than a few sentences on its tiny little screen), and I can’t write on my blog unless I sit in my office at school, so here I am.

Some great articles in the Sunday NY Times I’d like to recommend.

Wall Street Protestors and who should be listening

What the world lost when Steve Jobs died, and whether we can ever find it again
(I fear not.)

And yet another example of how the world of working women still hasn’t really changed, and what we all should do about it

09
Oct
11

Beef, Potato, and Leek Soup

Dice half a large onion and sauté in a little bit of olive oil until softened. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 large beef soup bones, and 6 c. of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for hours and hours. (I took an hour-long nap, graded a set of papers, put homework and quiz grades on Blackboard, made brownies, read the Sunday NY Times, and wrote the previous post.)(It’s been a good day.)

Cut the dark green part off of 3 large leeks and discard. Cut the rest of the leek in half or quarters lengthwise (depending on its circumference), and then slice. Put into a colander and rinse really well, getting all of the dirt. (Don’t underestimate this part of the job. I have never seen as much dirt in, on, or around a vegetable, as I do in between every onion-like layer of a leek.)

Peel, slice, and mash 3-5 cloves of garlic.

Dice 3 large white or red potatoes.

Sauté the garlic and leeks in olive oil until soft. Remove the soup bones from the stock, and add the garlic/leeks and potatoes, cooking until potatoes are completely softened.

Blend the soup in batches in a blender, then return to the soup pot; or, if you prefer a heartier soup, cut the potatoes a little smaller when you dice them, don’t cook quite as long, and skip to the next step without blending. Just as good!

Add several handfuls of coarsely chopped baby spinach (optional), and salt and pepper generously. Heat until the spinach wilts.

Serve with a nice Sauvignon Blanc or an unoaked Chardonnay.

 

09
Oct
11

“family values”

Republicans claim this as one of their main platforms, but let’s get something straight.

They’re “pro-life,” by which they mean:

protecting CEO’s salaries and millionaires’ rights not to pay taxes are more important than teacher salaries,

best of luck to you or your spouse procuring full-time work which includes health care benefits,

and oh, while we’re at it, (Romney’s latest), we’re going to cut federal support for Planned Parenthood, so not only are we not going to allow you to have an abortion, we’re going to make it more difficult for you to procure affordable contraception.

So while “we” can’t be bothered to make contraception or STD testing available or affordable, you can just keep having those babies !!! (the more the merrier, until the planet collapses under our collective weight?), and how you feed them, educate them, and keep them healthy is your own problem.

And never mind that offering these services to people in the first place saves money; we’re not that gifted in long-sightedness.

Just like the decision not to cover prostate cancer screening, or the fact that my HMO only covers $85/year in blood work, which is inadequate just to monitor my thyroid condition. Guess it would be better/cheaper if I took inadequate levels of medication and ended up with a thyroid tumor or in a coma?

Is it really that difficult to understand that spending a little bit on things like preventive screening and contraception saves a lot of money in the long run? Seems like something an 8-year-old would understand.

 

 

 

 

08
Oct
11

stage mom 101

This morning I took Only Daughter for her “photo shoot,” available by approval at the low-low price of $100, and including one year of representation by a local Modeling Agency.

They were “shooting” 52 kids, which generates $5,200 for them up front. This occasion is on a recurring basis, every four months, with “Little Models” being required to have new photos taken every year so that they will be “up to date.” The agency also takes 20% of each booking fee.

You do the math.

Okay, I signed up for it, I shouldn’t complain about it, so I won’t.

I’m hoping this can be something that’s fun, can earn a little college savings money (80% of her “net”) and a little pocket money, but only if it doesn’t interfere with her school, my work, or her positive self image.

I did have a little taste of how easy it could be for this kind of thing to take over your life.

For instance, I absolutely live for Saturdays. It’s the only day of the week I don’t have to set my alarm, and “sleeping in” (albeit only to 8:30 or 9 usually) is such a gift to me – not to wake up to the alarm, but to sleep until I wake up, putter around in a few hours in my pjs over numerous cups of espresso, make waffles for breakfast, read, knit, allow the day to unfold. Alas.

Anyway, I had to set my alarm for 6:50 this morning. And then we had to “get ready.” Now they didn’t want anything fancy, but she needed to shower, with me helping, so her waist-length thick Korean hair could actually, for once in the past two years (since she’s been taking her showers by herself) have all of the shampoo rinsed out of it. And then I had to trim her fingernails and toenails (not because her toes would show, necessarily, but because apparently her mother doesn’t love her enough to keep her groomed; oh, that’s me, hmmm, anyway); then I had to lotion her (Korean skin = dry skin) and put vaseline on her lips (Korean skin = dry lips) and then I had to dry that hair. That took a while.

At one point I sent her off to eat breakfast, and then remembered that I wanted to put a little concealer on this little tiny itty-bitty barely-visible-to-the-naked-eye pimple that she was worrying about, so I called her back to the bathroom. I heard her sigh from 25 feet. I challenged her on it: “Did I hear you sigh at me?” OD: “No, I didn’t sigh.”

Harrumph.

I think if this is going to happen on a regular basis she is going to have to learn how to do all these things for herself. I don’t want to be That Mom.

Speaking of That Mom. . .

We drive to the location of the photo shoot. It’s in what looks to be an abandoned factory. I only find it because the pin on my maps.google gps tells me I’m there, but I don’t really believe it until I pull in and see the photographer in the weeds with a blond little toddler in an argyle sweater.

As we are exiting the car, a woman in a ginormous SUV roars up and parks next to me. We walk up the steps to a landing of sorts, and there are some chairs there, so we sit, thinking this is where we should be. The woman (I’ll call her Dinah in honor of Lindsay Lohan’s mother) breezes past me, two blond children in her wake, and starts to enter the “factory.” I say: “Oh, do we need to go in?” Dinah: “Hmmm”

Okay.

So we follow her up the stairs, where we find a women in a large scarf at a make-shift desk, surrounded by children and parents, handing out little slips of paper on clipboards for us to fill out. The photographer has followed us up, and is asking for 3 more kids to photograph. I volunteer that Only Daughter is welcome to go with; I will complete her form and be right behind. Dinah sighs, her mouth in a perturbed and superior pinch. The other moms and dads say hello, admire the babies in their little suits and denim jackets, smile conspiratorially over our children’s heads; except Dinah, who fusses around her children’s hair and drops names with the photographer.

Whatever.

What is it about certain demeanors, facial expressions, attitudes? Would it have been so difficult for her to tell me, someone who obviously didn’t know what to do or where to go, what I needed to know? And why do I react in such a way? Maybe she had a fight with her husband that morning, or just found out that her sister has breast cancer, (tiny mean voice says “Or maybe she’s just a bitch”); who really knows?

When I called Husband to tell her we were done, I told him about her, including a sentence I’m not proud of: “It seems she’s living vicariously through her semi-attractive children.”

OMG: I’m a bitch too! (She started it.)

I will have to be careful about this.

I would like to be the kind of person who had all of this happen and didn’t think twice about it. Who didn’t even notice it enough to mention it.

I Do Not Want To Be That Mom.

Is that enough?

*****

Apropos of nothing, except that we went to the farmer’s market today:

Brussels Sprout Slaw, c/o the New York Times Sunday Magazine

Run 1 lb. of brussels sprouts* through the slicing blade of your food processor (the shredding one will turn them into little tiny bits).

Toss with:

1/2 c. coarsely chopped scallions

1/2 c. coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Mix 1/2 c. mayonnaise with the juice of one lime, 2 T. fish sauce, and ~ 1 tsp. sugar.

Stir into the veggies and chill for a bit. Sprinkle with a few more scallions and some unchopped peanuts before serving.

I have never ever ever liked brussels sprouts until today, and I have a theory why. The farmer at the market this morning told me they take 110 days to mature. I think the ones bought at the store are probably not allowed to grow to maturity, and are therefore tough and/or bitter. These taste quite a bit like cabbage, only greener, if that makes sense. The slaw is fantastic.

07
Oct
11

seriously?

1. Senator Brown posed nude for Cosmopolitan to help pay tuition for law school?

2. Senator Brown, when questioned about Elizabeth Warren’s statement that she kept her clothes on, and took out student loans to pay her bills, responded with “Thank God”?

3. Cosmopolitan carries pictures of naked men? Since when?

But seriously, Credoaction.com circulated a petition this morning asking Senator Brown to apologize. It went on for two pages.

I have just a couple of questions.

First: Are we so short on attention span or lacking in commitment to an idea we must have a link to click on every three column inches or we won’t be bothered? Is it too much work to scroll up in an email? The problem is, if you’re like me and don’t really like to be told what to do or what to think, by the third iteration you’re probably just feeling irritated and/or rebellious. (No. I don’t wanna. You can’t make me.)

And, while his comment on her supposed level of attractiveness may be what is making some people angry, isn’t what we really should be getting angry about the fact that he could pose nude and dismiss it with an offhand comment while any woman doing the same thing wouldn’t be elected township clerk?

It seems to me like this is all just a bunch of noise to distract us from some of the real issues at hand.

Why don’t we talk, instead, about what Ms. Warren said so eloquently, and which, as far as I can tell, remains unanswered?

 

My feelings about this, this pathological avoidance of actually talking about things that actually matter, are being fanned by the latest statistic:

So, while police posts are closed, and our roads and bridges crumble, and unemployed benefits are cut, and disadvantaged college students limp to class because they can’t afford health care for their chronic neurological problems, and art and music programs are removed from schools, and teacher’s pay is cut, CEOs who make four hundred and seventy five TIMES what the average worker makes shouldn’t be asked to pay more in taxes.

And this opinion is popular among the masses because ???

I DON’T GET IT!

Sorry, I’ve gone way off on a tangent.

Or maybe not. Tangents seem to be the method of choice by most politicos to deflect actual conversation, actual decisions, actual acts. Better just to talk about stuff, and say a lot of things that don’t matter, or don’t mean anything.

Mitt Romney, today: “If you want a president who wants the United States to be the most powerful nation in the world, I’m your man. If not, well, you have that President already.”

Oh, that.

The questions of a) what makes a country “powerful,” and b) why does the United States have to always be the MOST powerful (isn’t that what kind of pisses off everybody else about us?) remain to be answered.

Maybe tomorrow.

 

07
Oct
11

breaking nobody’s records but my own

Just noticed this today on my blog stats.

Not winning me any awards, or generating any advertising or anything, and maybe, as my husband would say, small beer, for some of you, but kind of fun to me.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

06
Oct
11

what we’ve lost

I mourn, often repeatedly, when the world I know loses someone who still has a lot to offer.

Jeff Buckley comes to mind.

07 Lover, You Should Have Come Over

Going a bit further back, Robert Kennedy.

And now Steve Jobs.

I know I’m “late,” his death “old news,” but I had a busy day, and this is the first chance I’ve had to really sit and think and write.

I’m typing this on a MacBook; I just checked my Twitter account on my iPad. I used my iPhone for email and texting and phone calls at least 15 times today. It’s not even the devices themselves, but the elegance and synergy they provide and represent. My contacts and calendar files scroll like a rolodex, my “files” go into file folders, when I send a text to my son I can read every text, in consecutive order, (amusingly, in little speech-bubbles like those in cartoons), that we’ve exchanged since the last time I emptied the file. The virtual world he has created works the way the real world does, which makes things intuitive and easy and fun.

And then there’s the aesthetic. Things are clean, sleek, clever; from the way the power cord wraps around it’s own self-contained brackets to the way the pages in the iBook “fold” and “turn” the way a real page turns. The keys click just enough when you type on them, resolution is crisp and rich and realistic.

It’s been said all along, and especially today — he was a visionary, a genius, not for the grade point he didn’t earn at the college he dropped out of, but for his ability to learn from mistakes, make new opportunities for himself, and judge well what the world wanted/needed next.

You’ve probably all watched it/read it/heard it today, but today I heard his 2005 commencement address to the graduate class at Stanford (an audience apparently quite amused by his confession that he never graduated from college, and that quitting college was one of the “smartest” things he ever did), and a few things really hit home for me.

Especially these:

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

and

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

If the measure of a successful life is what I seem to think it is: that you have done what you loved, and done something good for the world, you have been a resounding success.

Good-bye Steve. We thank you, and we’ll miss you.

 

06
Oct
11

weird

Did she hear me?

And is it redundant to put this in both the Palinschmerz and the Stupid People categories?

And active at what?

Let’s hope it limits itself to:

or

At least then only the wildlife gets hurt.

06
Oct
11

missed “marketing”

Received in the mail yesterday, a rather ominous and official looking notice.

Make: TOYOTA

Model: PRIUS

Year: 2009

REQUEST FOR ACTION – IMPORTANT VEHICLE INFORMATION ENCLOSED

WARNING: $2,000 FINE 5 YEARS IMPRISONMENT OR BOTH FOR ANY PERSON INTERFERING OR OBSTRUCTING WITH DELIVERY OF THIS LETTER

Wow.

This must be serious. Another recall? More problems?

No.

They’re selling me insurance.

First of all, shouldn’t there be some kind of a fine for pretending that your letter is delivering some kind of crucial or life-threatening information?

Secondly, do they really think that, now that they’ve manipulated me and/or treated me like I’m an intellectually-challenged four year old, I’m going to buy insurance from them?

Seriously?

 

05
Oct
11

do you hear that giant sucking sound?

The latest reports show that Rick Perry raised $10 million in the last 3 months. Mitt Romney, $18 million, Obama $86 million in the 3 months before that.

I can’t help but think what a tremendous waste of resources this is. You might as well just flush it down the toilet. It’s money spent on “public service” ads: ads that don’t really say anything about people who change what they think or mean or say they’ll do depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Meanwhile, 12,000 Michigan families will lose their jobless benefits in 2 weeks, more than half of our state police posts are closing, and Europe’s about to implode under the combined weight of Greece, Italy, and Ireland.

Wonder how many people $114 million would feed.

This system makes me sick. Nobody’s listening to the voices of the people, nobody’s looking out for the country or the world or any of us. They’re spending money so they can win, so they can protect the interests of the people who helped them get elected.

I jut heard that Steve Jobs died today.

Now I’m too sad to think.

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

Sigh.

05
Oct
11

oh where, oh where. . .

. . has Sarah gone?

Does anybody know?

I’d like to be happy about the apparent dearth of Sarah sightings, but I can’t help but feel some kind of dread, like she’s just hiding around a corner somewhere waiting to make some dramatic, whiny, incoherent reappearance.

Oh, and I left off vapid. How could I forget vapid?

 

03
Oct
11

“privacy” in the age of email

Has this ever happened to you? You’ve written a casual email to a colleague who either knows you really well or is either equal to you in “rank” or only slightly above. This email then gets sent on to the “boss,” sometimes very deliberately, sometimes quite casually, say, as a way to clue them in to the discussion thread without having to take the time to write it up from scratch.

BUT, the way you worded the email to the colleague/barely superior is not at all the way you would have worded the same thing to the person now reading your exact words.

Example: our college has instituted a flagging policy, where instructors are encouraged to go to the online class rosters for each of their classes and “flag” any students who seem to be falling behind — poor attendance, poor performance on assessments, etc. so that the counseling center can contact them and try to “help” them. When this request first came through, I read the message that included the suggestion that we were being encouraged to do so, (therefore, it seemed to be implying that it was not required,) and, because I communicate these concerns directly to the student whenever I feel it is appropriate, I ignored it. A couple of weeks later I got a reminder from the counseling center, at which point I emailed back, saying that I already took care of this directly with students as necessary, and that I thought this practice seemed a little more appropriate to middle school, (I may have used the term “babysitting”) and may also work against our efforts to encourage students to be self-motivated and self-aware. This message was then forwarded to my department head by the person at the counseling center, on a message that was not cc’d to me, at which point I received a message from my department head asking if I needed assistance learning how to use the program.

I was then immediately concerned that I would seem to be a teacher who doesn’t care about her students’ success, which is very much not the case, and I felt I needed to go to great lengths to justify my position — a position I maybe would have expressed a little differently if the conversation had originated with the department chair in the first place, but which now made me sound defensive.

This was only one of several of these types of experiences over the past couple of years, one of which included a forwarding of a message on which I had written “confidentially” right before making a frank observation of a student’s perceived level of commitment.

This practice is troubling, in our age of email, when passing someone’s words on is as easy as a click of a mouse, and maybe deserves a little more time to stop and reflect before doing so.

I’m considering adding a privacy request to the bottom of my emails, much like those used by attorneys and other people who have the right, no, the obligation to expect privilege, although mine would be worded in a more please-and-thank-you sort of way.

Something like this:

This message (and any attachment) has been intended only for the person(s) to which it has been addressed by the sender, and any cc’ing has been done openly. It would be greatly appreciated if you would respect my privacy, and my right to address individuals in an individual way, by not forwarding without my knowledge or permission, and I will do the same for you.

Does this seem savvy, or defensive?

 

 

02
Oct
11

fall’s bounty

Here are some recipes from our autumn weekend, enjoying the fruits of the season.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

adapted from Willow Bird Baking

I like more pumpkin-spice flavor in the bread itself, so I added a few things.

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread

To make the dough:
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1/4 c. white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. (+ maybe a little more) unbleached flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Filling:
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 T. unsalted butter

Glaze:
2 T. unsalted butter
1/8 c. brown sugar
2 T. milk
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. rum or brandy

Directions:
Make the pull-apart bread dough: Grease and flour an 8×8 square baking pan and set aside. In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and until it starts to darken, swirling around in the pan occasionally. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Set the saucepan aside for another use later.

Stir spoonfuls of the pumpkin puree in to cool the butter and milk mixture. When the temperature has lowered to around 110˚, stir the sugar and yeast in and let it sit for a few minutes. Stir in the rest of the pumpkin, salt, spices and 1 cup of the whole wheat flour. If you haven’t already, fit your mixer with a dough hook. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, starting with the wheat, stirring between each addition. Keep kneading with the dough hook on low speed until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes with a mixer). I used home-made cooked pumpkin, so my pumpkin puree was quite moist, and had to add at least another 1/2 c. of flour to get it to the right consistency. It should be somewhat sticky, but spring back when touched.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size. Mine took longer because my pumpkin was a little cold and it cooled the dough. (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)

Make the filling: While the dough is rising, whisk the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves together in a small bowl. Toward the end of the rising time, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown it as directed above. Remove from heat.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread: Knead a sprinkling of flour (about 1 tablespoon) into the dough, deflating it, and re-cover it. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes. This is important, or it’s way too springy to deal with. Flour a large work surface and turn your rested dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing (I had to do this twice during the process).

Spread the browned butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks.

Cut the dough into 6 strips the long way with a pizza cutter. The best way to do this and have it come out evenly is to cut the rectangle in half, then cut each half into equal thirds. Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 8 even portions. Place these portions one stack at a time into your greased loaf pan like your filing papers, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to double in size.

While dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan). When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top (if you take it out at light golden brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark). Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze: In your saucepan, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and rum or brandy, and whisk it to a smooth consistency.

Assemble and serve: Use a butter knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.

Pan-fried Trout with Spinach and Almonds

Mix 1 c. coarse cornmeal with lots of salt and pepper and 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper. Cut 4 trout filets off the skin. (It works best if you work your sharp, fileting knife in under the fish flesh on the short end until you can get a good hold of the skin, and then pull the skin while holding the knife securely. This should take the fish right off the skin. It worked so surprisingly well I was disappointed when I ran out of fish to de-skin.) Pat the fish filets dry with a paper towel, then dredge in the cornmeal, packing it a bit to help it stick, and put on a cookie sheet that you then put in the fridge until ready to cook.

Brown 1/4 c. of sliced almonds in a dry non-stick skillet.

Clean ~ 1 lb of baby spinach and remove stems. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, and then throw the spinach in and toss around until wilted. Put into mesh strainer to drain.

Allow the water to cook out of the pan, then add 1 T. butter and 2 T. of olive oil. Let it get good and hot, then pan-fry two of the trout filets at a time, ~ 2 minutes per side. Serve each filet on a small bed of spinach, sprinkle with 1 T. of the almonds.

Healthful Apple Strudel

Strudel dough:
Whirl 1 c. wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add 1 egg, 2 tsp. melted butter, and 1/4 tsp. vinegar and whirl until it’s all moist crumbs. Warm 3/8 c. milk to just barely warm, and pour through the opening in the top of the food processor bowl with the blade running. Allow to process for up to a minute until it forms a nice ball of dough. Pour out onto a well-floured cloth, roll to cover with flour, and cover with a bowl.

Filling:
Mix 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. brown sugar, 3 T. flour, and 2 tsp. cinnamon. Peel and slice very thinly, 4 c. apples (firm, tart ones are good, but we used just-picked Honey Crisps and it was fantastic!). Stir the apple slices into the sugar/flour mixture until well coated. Add 1/2 c. raisins and 1/4 c. chopped hazelnuts. Stir again.

To roll out dough:
Roll and gently stretch the dough to a 12-16″ square. Be patient, it will happen. Brush with 1 T. of melted butter. Fold in half into a rectangle, brush top with a bit more melted butter. Fold that in half into a square. DON’T BRUSH THE TOP WITH MELTED BUTTER. Roll and gently stretch the dough until it’s back to the size you started with. You want it thin thin thin, but you also want to be able to maneuver it and not have it tear, so be gentle.

Pour filling out just this side of a line down the middle of the rectangle. Leave an inch or so on each end, and a few inches at the edge by you. Dot with just a little bit more butter and sprinkle with brandy.

Fold the ends of the dough up over the ends of the filling, and, this is where it gets a little hairy, oh-so-carefully roll the whole thing up like a jelly roll*. Use the cloth you’ve rolled on to help you. When you get to the end, position a large cookie sheet behind the strudel still on the cloth, and keep rolling the strudel right on to the pan. Phew!

Brush the top with milk and then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar. You can cut slits, but it will probably “explode” in the oven anyway, so don’t worry about it.

Bake at 375˚ for 35 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream, plain yogurt, or homemade whipped cream.

*I love this expression — it’s in recipes all the time, and no one I know has ever in his or her life made an actual jelly roll. Yet we all know what is meant. Cool.

Sorry I don’t have pictures of the fish. Too much to do all at once, and then it gets cold quickly, so we ate it instead. Drank a delightful dry riesling with it. Yum.

Happy fall!!!

My allergies are actually killing me, so I’m thinking maybe I wouldn’t mind maybe one teensy weensy hard frost?

Gulp.

01
Oct
11

Huh?

In my continued quest for logic in advertising, I present:

Am I missing something? What’s unexpected about this? A dark-haired, blue-eyed, attractive man in a suit jacket in front of a darkened city skyline advertising men’s cologne. Are they being subtle/subtly clever, and whatever we imagine this is supposed to be what’s unexpected?

I don’t think so. I think that’s giving them too much credit.

And then there’s this one:

As you can see, the ad is touting their “quality” service, of such high quality that it will surpass even your highest expectations; I imagine this service comes at a price. I can’t help but wonder how much extra it costs for a seat inside the plane.

In my quest for that one, I found this one:

for all you "I like Asian women" out there*

*Look how hard the poor girl has to work to stick out her “hip.”

I actually was a little disturbed the other day, as I was reading the front page section of last Sunday’s New York Times. On one side of the crease: Egypt’s Military Leader Testifies at Mubarak Trial, Bahrain Vote Erupts in Violence, Libyan Fighters Renew Attack on Qaddafi’s Hometown — facing page, find your magic in an extensive selection of Bella Bleu by Effy diamond and sapphire rings; next page: Monitoring Rights in Chechen Region, a Month at a Time — on same and facing page, Circa will take your unwanted diamonds off your hands and Macy’s will help you find your magic, yet again, this time through their Top Ten Origins skin-care products.

I can’t help but wonder if maybe we’re all just a little bit more than spoiled.

On the way to a rehearsal the other night, Only Daughter in the back seat as there would be no one at home with her, NPR is reporting on the new Kindle Fire® and we’re passing a homeless man with his walker and scraggly beard and cardboard sign. Only Daughter commented on how sad this juxtaposition made her feel, and wanted me to go back that way and give him the rest of her tuna salad and crackers but I would be late, and on the way home more than an hour later, so I didn’t.

I think I should have. I wish I would have. I wish I would have handed them over when we went by the first time, even if the green light at that ramp is only 10 seconds long and the drivers of the 25 cars in line behind me would have been ticked off and honking.

********

In a not-really-related story, Second Son has come back for his first weekend home since college started with “only” 2 loads of laundry (he’s learned, now that he’s paying for it himself, that he can actually wear something more than once) and the news that a) he’s perfectly fine using the community bathrooms (he’s a bit of a germaphobe/borderline OCD hand-washer) and b) he’s a rabid sports fan; but just for his college team. Husband: “The indoctrination starts early.” Something extra for all those tuition and room-and-board dollars.




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