Archive for the 'I’m not making this up' Category


Didn’t know this was possible.

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while we were “sleeping”

These things are happening:

First, we preach the moral high ground, but only apply our civil rights to ourselves. Isn’t part of the argument that civil rights are human rights, and should be applied to everyone?

And then we have a lot of people making a lot of money running our military “business” — and actually contributing to the people who are trying (and often succeeding) to kill our members of the military.

Meanwhile, politicians candidates the children representing the Republican party debate the relative sizes of their peni (?) while the world melts.

I could go on, but it’s too depressing.

Wake up!


oh, THAT’s what I’m doing

better pay

Getting them jobs.

I thought I was teaching them stuff.



today’s feminist non-rant, aka on my Facebook feed today



(click on the picture to read the article)

Then this:


(“…If you add up, in terms of the numbers of people, I would say that competing for [the] No. 1 [concern] would be violence against females worldwide. If you add up all the forms of violence, whether it’s domestic violence in this country, which is at an enormously high rate — I mean, the most dangerous place for a woman in this country is her own home, and she’s most likely to be beaten or killed by a man she knows — or it is FGM, female genital mutilation, or it is female infanticide, or honor killings or child marriage. … “)

and this:


Too bad that only the last one was from 40 years ago.

And somewhere else.



back to the 7th century; or the 1970s at least

Putin scares me. Just type “Putin and his quest for world domination” into your search engine and read a few of the links. I can’t help but wonder if we’re going to end up back like when I was a child, teaching our children to hide under their desks in the case of a nuclear attack. (Yeah, that’ll help.)

But ISIS and what it represents scares me more.

If you haven’t read Infidel yet, you should.

And this article is interesting. A bit long, but worth it, although I disagree with the author’s idea that we should encourage the “quietest” Muslim movement — I think the tenets of Islam are counter to those of modern civilization, and should be radically denounced.

I have this image as I drive down the road of men stopping my car at a stop light and dragging me out. Or being forbidden to work, or to have my hair or face seen in public.


(There were lots of these women in London when I was there last June. Beautifully made-up eyes, magnificent manicures, toting bags and bags from Marks and Sparks and Harrod’s. I couldn’t help but wonder why they were spending all this money on clothes no one would ever see, but I guess they have to have something to look forward to and this might be it.)

These concerns seem to be even more critical than the one for equal pay, or whether Beyoncé is or is not actually a feminist; and while less immediate, and we can all comfort ourselves (in the Western world at least) by its geographical distance from our actual lives, but I wish I were a screenplay-writer — there’s a kickass blockbuster dystopian book or movie here, where we’re all going complacently about our lives, trivializing the rising impact of “radical” Islam, until it’s staring us in our faces and we’re all back in the 7th century, where all the men have beards, all the women are property, and all of our children are raised to believe this is the One and True Way. Except it’s not purely a work of fiction, and it probably is something we should risk seeming paranoid about and actually do something.

And I agree with Sam Harris — liberals making excuses, while not actually addressing or distributing the threat to the point where it no longer exists, doesn’t help.








We Should Be Protesting, Too |

Can this “In 2012, 132 Americans gave 60 percent of the super PAC money spent”. . .

be true?


We Should Be Protesting, Too |



Grrrr. + a little from Jessica Valenti

Jill Abramson fired.

Yes, it’s personal.

I was told once, by a man (big surprise), that I would not be considered for a full-time professor position because my “demeanor” at that institution as an adjunct was more suitable to that of a tenured professor; in other words, I didn’t know my place.

I was told another time, by a different man (big surprise) that I would not be interviewed for a full-time position (at another institution where I had been working quite collegially for 6 or 7 years) because, while I seemed to have all of the requisite qualifications, he had concerns about my “collegiality” — despite the fact that I got along perfectly well with every single other person on the faculty except one, who everyone there knew was probably crazy.  A few days later, another (man) on the faculty told me not to take it personally, even though it was, quite clearly, personal.

In case you didn’t click on the 2nd link above, here’s Nora Ephron:“Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.”

I recently tried to hire a woman I knew as a student at a much earlier job, and then a friend-of-a-friend, both very accomplished violinists who perform with my local city’s symphony orchestra, to be involved in a chamber music group a trumpeter (male, but not in a  bad way) and I are trying to put together. The first is taking a year of reduced work to take care of her “babies” (3 and 1 1/2); the second demurred, too busy driving her children to soccer practice and piano lessons. I wonder why the women always demure, defer, (I did, too, for a while);  why the men rarely do. I know the husbands of these two women. There is no deferring involved.

It’s not just others turning the clock back; we turn it back on ourselves. I wonder if I’d had different role models — not even my mother necessarily, but women my age “going for it” when I should have been — if I would have made different choices. It’s definitely too late, in that there’s no turning back time (If I could. . . Cher?), and my son scoffed at my suggestion once that, if we took the right advice we could live a life free of regret, but I can’t help but wonder.

“One of the strangest anti-feminist stereotypes to me – among the Birkenstock-wearing and bra-burning – is the idea that we’re unhappy. Angry. Bitter. Both because the foundation of the insult is the assumption that women should be perpetually happy, and because the truth is that the culture doesn’t actually mind if women are unhappy – so long as we keep it to ourselves. Women’s distress directed inward – from eating disorders to feelings of inadequacy – keeps the status quo moving along, with diet pills selling through the roof and women asking for promotions far less often than their male counterparts. But when our dissatisfaction takes an outward turn, people get uncomfortable. Then, women’s emotions are ‘hysterical’ or over-the-top. Anything less than a bubbly disposition means that we’re ‘bitches.’ Hell hath no fury like a man who finds a woman displeasing.” (Jessica Valenti)





you’ve got to be kidding




the week in pictures

When a student of mine graduates from high school, I always buy them Michael Jordan’s I Can’t Accept Not Trying. I found the book way back in the ’90s, and found it to be inspirational and to resonate from athletics to music to life, as so many things do.

It’s been out of print for a while, so when I need a copy now I must buy them used. I have a student graduating, and an upper-level high schooler moving this year, so I just acquired two copies. Opening them up to write a little note, I discovered this:


Isn’t that sweet?

The book has never been opened.

Mark’s a loser. Mom clearly overestimated his ability to read, process, and appreciate the messages regarding tenacity, discipline, and commitment contained therein.

Is that ironic?

Actually, that’s not even the case, since Mark never bothered to read it. Mark didn’t even respect his loving and devoted mother enough to READ IT.

Mark’s a loser. Mom’s admiration is misdirected. I’m deeply saddened by the dismissiveness embodied in the fact that this book was sold to me for $1.99 (I paid a LOT more for shipping than I did for the book; is that ironic?), discarded by a thoughtless and inconsiderate young man.


Three guesses which magazine this is on the back cover of:

yoga thighs

 My letter to the editor:

I am profoundly disappointed by the photo featured on the back cover of the June 2013 issue of Yoga Journal.

I read the magazine as part of an ongoing pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life. A reference to, and picture of, a pole dancer does not seem to be in support of this.

I try to overlook the fact that the majority of your yoga models have super-model body types; I try to overlook the ads that feature women who are “skinny” rather than healthy and fit. But this seems to go too far. There are so many images in the media portraying unrealistic body types for women, sending subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle messages to women about how they should look and conveying the idea that women are primarily sexual objects. I would hope that YJ could be one place that didn’t.

I also like to leave the magazine out for piano students, friends, my daughter, to leaf through. This one I feel I need to hide. 

Kathryn Budig is finally clothed, but we have an image of a woman participating in the sex trade on the back instead.

It seems that more thought could be put into these types of things, and some editorial guidance might be more judiciously applied. 

Meanwhile, I will be looking for a different yoga magazine to subscribe to.



In pursuit of a balanced, meaningful, enlightened life, I planted some perennials and annuals and a bush and a tree yesterday. I decided, in my infinite wisdom, since I was planting some 4″ pots in the midst of a lot of very persistent ground cover, to use the small planting shovel.

Here is my right palm:

bruised hand

The circles are around bruises (the arrow thing wouldn’t make an arrow).

They really hurt.

I’m a pianist. This was really really stupid.

I could barely stand to push the cart at costco today, and this is NOT a commentary on the sizes of the packages contained therein (although do we really need to buy ziploc sandwich bags 600 at a time?).*

Hopefully next week will be a little less ridiculous.

*We are spending a lot less on groceries.


as if Van Gogh’s woolly balls weren’t enough, updated

More of this week’s ridiculousness:

Amber&FitchI will show this to my daughter. And then we will not shop there anymore. Ever. I will buy the A&F stuff she already has from her and burn it in the fire pit in the back yard. WE DON’T NEED MORE OF THIS!

Update: As if this isn’t offensive enough, here’s what the top of  the abc website page hosting a video clip denouncing this offensive statement* looks like:

Yeah, that helps.

Yeah, that helps.

So while the commentators show their support for all of the non-cool by being (appropriately) righteously indignant, the ad next to, and almost as big as, the video screen tells about the show that will teach us how to “live well” be “being and feeling beautiful.”



And then there’s this foolishness:


Wow. Contraception leads to all that. I must have been using the wrong kind FOR 20 YEARS.

This from a website called “One More Soul,” (not linking to it. won’t do it. find it yourself if you must, but I will not be privy to such heinous acts) dedicated to “Fostering God’s Plan for Love, Chastity, Marriage, and Children.

Trying to take a quick glance without looking at it directly, so as to avoid retching, raging, and/or breaking out in hives, I did notice one particularly insightful headline:

Abortion, Contraception Consequences on Display in Gosnell’s ‘house of horrors’


Because what EVERY SINGLE FERTILE WOMAN ON THE PLANET, actually, no, what every single person on this planet needs is necessarily AS MANY CHILDREN AS POSSIBLE.

Does anybody else notice that one of the symptoms of “Sexual Chaos” is the implementation of artificial reproductive technologies? So ya’ll listen and listen good — no sex unless you want to make babies, but if God doesn’t think you’re suitable parenting material heinhisinfiniteandunknowablewisdom will deny this blessing, and you are absolutely forbidden from doing anything about it, because, despite the fact that you believe it will bring you great joy, support a strong family life, and contribute to a long, stable marriage, it actually leads to individualism, hedonism, selfishness, and lust.

Oh, and there’s an article discouraging immunizations for children, supported by their step-by-step bastardization of an article published in JAMA.

Ugh. now I’ve looked at it directly, and must go wash my eyes out with oil of newt and kill a couple of kittens or some unsuspecting old person.

*In the abc news clip, they interview a “plus size” model — she’s probably 5’11” and maybe weighs 125 pounds. Puh-lease.


I’m not making this up

From my latest knitting magazine.



You can’t convince me that these people didn’t know exactly what they were doing.




Which is worse?

This guy.

Or this guy:


Am starting to wonder if it’s redundant to have Politics and Stupid People as separate categories.



Pretension, 2013


As opposed to from where every other winery procures its “winegrapes.”

(Autocorrect just tried to change “winegrapes” to “winger apes.” Yet another clue to the word’s ridiculousness.)

Happy New Year!!!


the gift for the man who has everything


Well, except for a pair of front-laced, hard-sole knee-hi boots.



why not take advantage of every possible opportunity

to raise our children to think in a “sexist” way.

Today’s opportunity, listed in my neighborhood’s “Community Enrichment Classes” brochure, for youth and their “favorite significant adult.” (INMTU*)

For girls: Sweetheart swirl.

For boys: Competitive Game Fest.

Guess the girls don’t like to play games and is it any wonder men won’t dance.

She looks like she’d like to play.

(Click on the picture to see a sampling of what Bing thinks someone looking for a picture of a “Girl in a Football Uniform” is most likely to be looking for. Wonder if the one has anything to do with the other.)


*I’m Not Making This Up


there but for the grace of music lessons go

Only Daughter had her first “orchestra concert” tonight. She actually asked me not to go. She took some violin lessons as younger youngster, and feels that the exertions of the 6th grade ensemble are, in a way, beneath her.

I went anyway.

(As a pointed aside, they’re not. Beneath her, that is. She had 5 teachers in 4 years because they kept moving away or graduating from college or taking so many out-of-town gigs she would have one lesson a month so she learned 1/4 what she should have, and absolutely nothing about how to read music much less how to understand what she was hearing.)

The orchestra did a fine job, all things considered. It was noted that there were approximately 75 musicians “on stage” and approximately 65 versions of any given note at any given time, but what’s a person to do?

One of the directors stood up at the end to thank all of the parents for going that extra mile (really? it’s “extra” now? shouldn’t it just be part of what everyone should be expected to do if they want to be a living, breathing, feeling member of the universe?) to support their children’s efforts to learn to play a musical instrument.

Okay, fine. Thanks are good. I’m fine. Really, I am.

Then he talks about the benefits — to the brain, to the person, to society, to the importance of students learning to communicate that which cannot be said in words; I start to think, okay, so he’s not a total doofus. But no, I “forgave” him too soon.

Wait for it. . .

“Maybe if more children learn to be thinking, feeling members of society, fewer of them would be flying airplanes into buildings.”

Oh. I had no idea. If only the terrorists had had music lessons.






Those darn trickers. . .

So much for the either/or aspect.



Richard Mourdock’s “Intentions”

So Republican candidate Richard Mourdock “struggled” with himself over this, and this was his conclusion.

As I read the first sentence, I convince myself that it’s not without a Zen kind of logic — you know, trying to find or make  something good out of something bad, stuff like that. And then I get to the next sentence. And now this is God’s intention. Allow me just to say that if his God thought it was appropriate to cause someone to be RAPED so as to create a child then this is a God I want nothing to do with.

There has to be a better way.

Click here to sign a petition telling him what an idiot he is, to keep on struggling, that rape is violence, and not some form of divine intervention.



oh, and have a nice day

Received this in my college-job email inbox tonight:

Greetings (Adjunct) Faculty,

Today was first overload and adjunct pay for Fall 2012. On 9/1_, your check should have reflected the pay for this academic year.

Attached is a Pay Calculation worksheet you can use to determine if your Fall 2012 is correct. The contract is posted online at http://www.xxxfaculty/*, starting on page __ (Appendix XYZ). Please take a few minutes, and run your numbers with this worksheet to ensure that you are being paid correctly.

Under NO circumstances should you respond to me asking questions on how do use the form, if your pay is correct, or to report problems. I teach computer programming and networking, and can barely spell deductions. I’m just the person sending you the information, the one who drew the short straw. I will not respond to any questions or replies.

However, if you do have problems, contact someone in Payroll or C W at culater@wedon’

Have a great weekend…and don’t reply to me 🙂

Faculty Association Secretary


Charming, isn’t it? Really makes me feel valued. Never mind that this secretary is certainly paid more money than any of the adjuncts with whom she is communicating, despite the fact that they probably have multiple advanced degrees, and can spell deductions as well as write complete sentences.


*Full disclosure: the 2+2=5 and culater@wedon’ were made up. The rest is a direct quote.




oh, *that* conflict of interest

Romney’s latest: Democrats should stop taking money from the teacher’s unions, as it presents an inexcusable conflict of interest.

Unlike all those donations from corporations. Guess that’s ‘cuz corporations are people too; but teachers, apparently, are not?

This, also from the article linked to above, is pretty precious as well: “I know something about polls and I know you can ask questions to get any answer you want.”

Like the ones you quote when you say you’re in the lead?

Just keep talkin’ Mitt. Just keep talkin’.



now that’s true leadership

“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” adding, “And we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow, something will happen to resolve it.”

Just as I thought.
Cluelessness, Powerlessness, Idea-less-ness as the latest campaign “strategy.” Who knew?
He has earned his inclusion in “Palinschmerz” — a category that includes all politicians who embody blatant idiocy on and off the political stage. Nice of him to do some of Obama’s campaigning for him.


Okay, on everything but that


Never thought I’d think there was something which would not taste better with bacon…but maybe…


speaking of missing the point’s version of a croissant “recipe.”

And I don’t think they were being ironic.

Kind of like the jokes about how to make a million dollars or win a Tony.

Haven’t read far enough down yet to know what I need unscented garbage bags for. Not sure I want to.

Feeling a little like I’ve stumbled into some kind of parallel universe where “recipe” actually means “joke.”


one of the darker sides of technology

In a report on this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from the March 5 New Yorker:

There’s a software firm by the name of Tibco, based in Silicon Valley, which has generated data-sorting software for companies such as Amazon, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, eBay airlines, and the Department of Homeland Security. They have also designed a program for Harrah’s, the well-known casino, which “can figure out when a gambler is about to encounter a loss of such magnitude that it will cause him to leave the casino and perhaps never come back. The casino’s Luck Ambassadors [I’m not making this up] will then offer the gambler a free meal or a ticket to a show. . .and distract the gambler long enough to entice him to return later, to continue losing money in palatable increments.”

Well, at least it’s palatable.



Not a war?

Sez who? (Lots of people; mostly male Republicans, but whatever.)


Just when you think it can’t get more ridiculous.

Maybe this can be a sign of hope?


me again, but this just couldn’t wait

March 7, 2012


It’s called a “wrongful birth” bill and it’s all about preventing women from having an abortion, even if it kills them. The Arizona Senate passed a bill this week that gives doctors a free pass to not inform pregnant women of prenatal problems because such information could lead to an abortion.

In other words, doctors can intentionally keep critical health information from pregnant women and can’t be sued for it. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, “the bill’s sponsor is Republican Nancy Barto of Phoenix. She says allowing the medical malpractice lawsuits endorses the idea that if a child is born with a disability, someone is to blame.” So Republicans are banning lawsuits against doctors who keep information from pregnant women so as to prevent them from choosing to have an abortion.

This bill is actually more disturbing than the Republicans seem to realize. Giving doctors such a free pass risks the lives of both the expectant mother and the fetus she carries. Prenatal care isn’t just for discovering birth defects and disabilities. It is also for discovering life threatening issues such as an ectopic pregnancy which often requires an abortion to save the life of the mother. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable anyway, but Republicans are allowing anti-abortion doctors to keep life threatening information from pregnant women all because they are obsessed with stopping any and all abortions. Women may not know they have a life threatening condition until they die on the emergency room table. And the doctor couldn’t be sued.

This is an egregious bill that will lead to higher mortality rates for infants and mothers. Doctors should be held accountable for not disclosing information learned from prenatal examinations. Pregnant women have the right to know if their future child is going to have a disability or if the pregnancy may require an induced abortion to save their lives. Any decision that is made as a result of the information is the mothers own. Doctors should not be allowed to make decisions for pregnant women as a way to prevent abortions. Women have the right to make their own health decisions and hiding critical information is irresponsible, unconscionable, and risks lives. In the end, Republicans are only putting more lives in jeopardy. They might as well call this the ‘let women die’ bill.


Happy International Woman’s Day.



a better use for our money?

It’s said that, all told, $6 billion will be spent on the 2012 presidential election.

I can’t help but wonder how many children that would feed, or educate, or pay health care costs for. How many factories or schools could be kept open. How many college scholarships could be provided. How many roads and bridges repaired.

Maybe if we gave money to the thing that we feel most strongly about, or that actually needs our support, rather than to the person we think will help get us that thing we’d all be better off.

Or maybe that’s just me.




Is this ironic?

Lost my driver’s license over the weekend.

Decided that in between 4 hours of teaching and rehearsing this morning and 3.5 hours of teaching this afternoon I would try to replace it online.

Went to the Secretary of State’s website, found this:

Oh, happy day! As I am a U.S. citizen, have a valid Social Security number, and my license has not expired or been cancelled, and is not “enhanced” (whateverthatmeans), so this should be no problem. Maybe I won’t have to try to squeeze in a trip to the DMV in a week during which I am working something like 60 hours.

So I click on the “ExpressSOS” link, and get this:

Do you suppose they’re being ironic?

They don’t actually expect that I’ve written this number down somewhere, do they?



so we should be happy, then

Yes, we should. Congratulations to Ms. Kilburn. I’m sure she’ll do a wonderful job.

But pardon me if I pour a little cynicism into the soup by posing two questions:

First of all, why is this the first female band conductor hired by a prestigious academy that has been operating for 50 years, an offshoot of an arts camp founded in the 1920s?

Secondly, (pointing out again that I don’t disagree that we should all celebrate these milestones), it still angers me that these ARE milestones, and that they warrant celebration.



Should it be exciting to see women moving into the “men’s” areas of the arts? For decades it was considered appropriate for women to play the piano (as long as it was only a “little”; it was not, appropriate for her to be “too good” or to seem to care “too much” or to try “too hard”). It was also acceptable for her to sing, and to study musicology. Eventually it was even expected that women interested in music as a career would be a piano or voice teacher, or study music education and teach in an elementary school.

It was NOT considered suitable for a woman to do something so vulgar as to play as a brass or woodwind instrument, nor strings (especially not a cello, as the sitting/instrument placement position would be unseemly at best.) Nor was it seemly for a woman to be a composer. Felix Mendelssohn claimed that his sister Fanny was a much better composer than he was, and valued her opinions and input regarding all of his musical compositions; but she was not “allowed” to published her own.  Clara Schumann was a concert pianist, but her “career” really took off after Robert’s hospitalization and then death from mental illness, probably because it was considered absolutely necessary for her to pursue this career in order support her family. When Gustav and Alma Mahler began their relationship, Gustav wrote her a letter, telling her that he was looking for a wife, not a colleague, and that it would only make things complicated if they were both to pursue careers as composers (can you imagine?). Amy Beach willingly gave up her performance career at the request of her new husband, and became Mrs. Henry Harris Aubrey Walker Beach.

A woman should certainly NOT be so presumptuous as to place herself at the front of an ensemble and tell the musicians, some of whom one could expect would be men, what to do and when or how to do it.

This from a blog post with the headline "Why Most Women Managers Are Bossy." The post is written by a man. Big surprise.


Just in case you think I’m being paranoid, let’s look at some numbers:

At the college where I teach there are eight full-time faculty plus the director. Two of them are women — the head of the piano area, and the head of the theory/composition area. Less than 25%.

At the college where my husband teaches women constitute 3 of 8 brass faculty, 1 of 7 piano faculty, 1 of 7 string faculty (harp), 3 of 7 woodwinds, 1 of 8 conductors (choral), 1 of 6 music theory, and 3 of 6 music education.

This is 10 out of the listed 49 full-time positions. 20%. This is shameful. Granted I haven’t included voice which is 3 and 3, or composition, which is 0 for 4. Hmmmm. Not really helping.

Just to pick another large school in my state with a reputable music program, let’s look at the numbers at the University of Michigan:  All ten conductors are male; two of the eleven jazz faculty are women, although five of the six music education professors are women (see?); two of fourteen full-time positions in percussion/winds/brass are held by women. Six of fourteen music theorists are women, so that’s pretty good, but really?

If we omit the music education professors, we have 10 out of 39. Still around 25%

I believe I pointed out in a previous post that even most of the VISITING performers to the Interlochen Visiting Artists concerts are men.

How can this be?

If you look around in a piano studio or a school band or orchestra or choir, or even at the most prestigious arts camps like Interlochen, the majority of the students are women.

Where do they go?

And why isn’t anybody else noticing, or doing something about it?

Oh, yeah. We’re celebrating.

I forgot.

Guess I was too caught up in my domestic tasks and my pre-menstrual/perimenopausal mood swings to notice.









what he said

Child poverty, athletes, and the question of fairness.


Does this bother anyone but me?

In the first speech Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio gave on the floor of the U.S. Senate, in June, he said: “We should never forget who we Americans are. Every single one of us is the descendant of  go-getter. Of dreamers and of believers. Of men and women who took risks and made sacrifices because they wanted their children to live better off than themselves.” Okay so far, except for the poor grammatical construction of the final clause. But then he continues: “And so, whether they came here on the Mayflower, on a slave ship, or on an airplane from Havana, we are all descendants of the men and women who built here the nation that saved the world.”

I wonder if the people brought over on the slave ships saw it that way.

And “saved the world”? From what?



more idiocy from the Republican Party

Maybe they should just go with the one person who actually seems to know anything.
Anybody know who that might be?


Black Tuesday

This is getting ridiculous.

Black Friday is now Black Thursday evening, and my husband saw people camped out in tents, on concrete LAST night outside a Best Buy.


Maybe it’s some kind of a joke.

Apparently this started like 12 days ago.

Didn’t the whole “Black Friday” thing originate as something to do on a long holiday weekend when you just couldn’t force yourself to eat yet another turkey sandwich or have another raving argument conversation with your über-conservative brother-in-law? What about Thanksgiving? You know, friends, family, dry white meat, dressing that the kids will complain about (is that celery?), cooking a meal for 6 hours that takes everyone 10 minutes to eat, nobody wanting to do the dishes?

Brad Tuttle, writing for Time, suggests that perhaps Best Buy is paying them.

I guess that makes sense.

I think it all just makes us look that much more greedy and materialistic.

We refused on principle by buying our new TV yesterday.*  That’ll show ’em.

* (the 2nd Olevia died a couple months ago — anybody know how I can get a piece of some class action lawsuit against this terrible company?)

And for your enjoyment, in honor of this family-based holiday: Ze Frank on Scrabble


well, that’s unfortunate

I’m in the middle of what is probably going to be my busiest week of the semester, so I don’t have time to write much.

I did run across something mildly amusing in an article published by NPR on the difficulties of losing weight. The article is titled: “Losing Weight: A Battle Against Fat and Biology.” Being a woman in her, ahem, mid 40s, one who finds that she can keep eating less than she used to and still weigh the same or more, and who has given up the “ghost” sotospeak in terms of losing that 15 lbs because she’d rather have 2 glasses of wine with dinner and eat ice cream once a week, I clicked on the link.

It wasn’t really all that great of an article. It didn’t tell me anything I don’t already know — mainly that your body wants to weigh a particular weight (given balanced, healthful eating, of course), and if you try to weigh less through dieting your brain will just basically flip a switch that tells your body to consume fewer calories so as to keep weighing the same. As they put it, a person who weighs 230 lbs and diets to lose 30 lbs will be able to eat less to maintain that weight than a person who has always weighed 200 lbs. (BTW, I don’t weigh anywhere NEAR 230 lbs. Sheesh.)


ANYWAY, the article included this paragraph:

“It’s a popular misconception, she says, that losing weight is “strictly a matter of willpower.” It’s a gigantic task, she says, because not only do we move through an incredible buffet of food spread before us every day, but we also face a battle with our own biological responses.”

The woman who was quoted is an obesity specialist. I can’t imagine she chose those words in order to try to be funny. (But, still, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!)(Okay, I won’t do that again.)(Well, maybe not for a while.)

I wonder if the “advocacy group for (ugly and) fat women” has filed an official complaint.




I can honestly say I had no idea.

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

I snort.

As if.



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.


how to eat more healthfully

PepsiCo is apparently on a mission to become the go-to guys for snacks AND nutrition (I’m not making this up) in the future. They are developing two lines: “Better for You” (well, duh, that shouldn’t be very difficult) and “Good for You.”


Does that mean we can expect substitutions such as






No, actually, (big surprise). The goal is to replace the fats, sugars, and salts in the snack foods and beverages that have contributed to rampant obesity in our country we have come to know and love with “flavor enhancers” that will just make us THINK that the potato chip is as salty as it used to be.

Oh, THAT kind of “better” for you.

More evidence that everything is, in fact, relative.


how do you know when the honeymoon’s over?

Last night Husband and I found ourselves home, alone, for the first time in weeks, and we spent the next two hours, yup, you guessed it, unwrapping marvels of modern engineering and setting them up on the counter. There were no passionate embraces, no shedding of garments, no fevered groping amid piles of cardboard detritus and bubble wrap.

Why, you ask? Is this an indication of a loss of passion? Are the flames of love dwindling? Have we grown tired of each other, bored, listless about what was once, not all that long ago, the driving force of our existence?

Well no, not really; at least I don’t think so.

Rather, the phenomenon can be explained by this single act:

Husband just bought a new espresso machine and coffee grinder.








They are very nice, and very pretty, and very intimidating, and I hope I don’t set the darn things on fire or run the boiler dry accidentally or forget to temperature surf before making my next shots of espresso. (Don’t ask.) (Okay, if you must know):

(Who knew?)

ANYWAY, these “marvels of modern engineering” (I was corrected, firmly, a couple days ago after calling them “contraptions”) came via FedEx yesterday. This was a relief, as the monitoring of the check-in points along the shipping route and the logistics of making sure someone would be home at the pivotal moment was taking up most of our free time.

They are, according to Husband, the best machines available at a comparably reasonable price, with 237 grinding options (I’m not making this up) available on the Baratza Vario grinder and solid stainless steel construction plus some other features I don’t understand well enough to list here on the Rancilio Silvia (we will call her Silvia for short) espresso maker.  (Husband actually launched into a long explanation last night, but all I heard was “Wuh wah wah waaah” like when the teacher talks on Charlie Brown.)

Last night, after the lesson on tamping pressure using a glass and the bathroom scale (I still don’t tamp hard enough, as my espresso comes out in under 15 seconds, and we’re aiming for a leisurely 25), and my ignored Dance of the Seven Veils, I fell asleep while Husband read the instruction manual.

He did wake me at 7:15 this morning. . .

with an expertly foamed cappuccino, followed by a lesson on appropriate grinding (!), brewing, and foaming technique.


He is very cute when he’s all professorial, and it was important that I learn how to run the MoME while home without him here as my barista.

I’m now working on my 5th and 6th shots of espresso, this time with milk that I actually foamed (last time it just got really really hot.)

I’m very proud.

I think they send the 2 lbs of coffee for “free” because they know you’ll use up one of them on Day 1 just practicing. Maybe they should include some tranquilizers to counter the effect of AlL tHaT cAfFeInE!!!!


if I had a million dollars. . .or 17.9

So I’m enjoying a quiet day at home, after a couple weeks of extreme busy-ness and yesterday’s Great Strawberry Project, (which involved picking and processing more than 30 lbs of strawberries,) leafing through the Sunday New York Times Magazine reading about the imminent demise of the lightbulb and looking for the crossword puzzle, when I encounter page 59, “Luxury Property Showcase.”

First offer is “The Bellingrath on Peachtree” —

Located in Atlanta’s epicenter, eight stunning 7,000+sf four-story residences, including private garden courtyards & terraces, 12′ ceilings, dramatic atrium stairwells, highest quality appliances and state-of-the-art security, starting at a reasonable $1,800,000. According to the “lots available/sold” graphic on the website, there are still some available, so remember the adage that he who hesitates is lost. If only it weren’t one of eight; it’s quite unreasonable to be expected to spend that kind of money to live in a house that looks just like seven others; kind of like wearing the same dress as someone else to the Oscars.

Next we have Old-World luxury meeting modern lifestyle made manifest in an Italian Cabinet Masters custom-built 6500 sf home, with European elegance demonstrated by its marble floors and custom mahogany “appointments,” (as in doctor’s? dentist? psychiatrist?) and including spectacular views of the Great South Bay (in Bay Shore/Islip, wherever that is). As if that isn’t enough to set your real-estate salivary glands adrool, it’s also a “nautical dream,” with 540′ of bulkhead, boat slips, jet ski lifts AND a heated pool and spa. All this can be yours for a mere $2,400,000.

What the ad doesn’t mention, but is included on the website, is the fact that there is also an indoor waterfall. Almost enough to make you overlook the fact that the house appears to be three separate houses which have, perhaps as a result of global warming, melted together.

I’ll skip over the details of the listings for East Islip/The Moorings (the South Shore’s “most exclusive gated community” [got to keep out the riff-raff, you know — like those people who pay less than a million five for their homes], and “closer than the Hamptons,” which allows you to be “on year-long holiday,” $3,400,000) and Newport, Rhode Island’s “Fairholme” (4+ acres, carriage house, Horace Trumbauer ballroom and staff wing [the indoor version of the gated community; wouldn’t want them using your toilet or anything], $17,900,000) to get to. . .

A “Classic Estate” adjacent to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel — 6-bedroom, French Country manor with guest house, 14,000 sf, stunning wine cellar, indoor and outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchen, swimming pool and 4-car garage. Was $14,000,000, recently reduced to $10,000,000. Details can be viewed at I’m not making this up.

Barenaked Ladies: If I Had $1000000



Read this.

And then join me in asking: Are you wordIcan’tsay kidding me?

Ten months later he’s still suffering from anxiety and withdrawal? From 10 seconds, ten SECONDS, in the dark when he was 10 months old?

How many think this woman saw dollar signs?

What a waste of resources, not to mention the poor soul who lost his job over entertaining an infant on an airplane.


police blotter

Heard on NPR this morning:

A police officer in Mason, Ohio, was alerted to possible trouble by the incessant barking of his police dog, which he had left in the cruiser while investigating a possible crime. Upon his return to his car, he found that there was a man standing outside the car, barking and hissing at the dog, provoking the animal’s response.

The man claimed that, and I believe I’m quoting here, “the dog started it.”

Now that’s mature.




seen on the street. . .

in Oberlin, Ohio:

A mannequin with the head of a bear, wearing jeans, a fisherman’s sweater and dark red scarf, on a vintage red bicycle, holding a purple pinwheel.




why is this MY problem?

Just read Cracking the Male Code of Office Behavior, from last Sunday’s New York Times, which discusses Shaunti Feldhahn’s book “The Male Factor: the Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace.”

The point of the book, and the article, is to describe how men work, think, and behave as compared to how women work, think, and behave, and to offer suggestions to women as to how they can best position themselves for promotion and advancement. Shaunti says: “Women who want to avoid hidden traps and break through the glass ceiling need to know how to shape the way men perceive them.”

We are advised that women should try to shut down their emotional responses to things like criticism, be careful not to push their own ideas too hard, and to try to avoid any implications of personality conflicts with any of their coworkers, as this will “. . .cause men to view that worker as less business-savvy and less experienced,” or even downright illogical. We should also realize that men are, by nature, quite insecure, and to take care to avoid inadvertently “hitting a nerve” so that the man won’t become defensive.

Ironically, male managers are often put out by women who try to be just like men — “it’s . . . distracting.”

Are you wordIcan’tsay kidding me?

Now, I’m not saying this isn’t true, mind you. I believe, in fact, that this is exactly what happens to a lot of women everywhere. But why is this OUR problem? Why aren’t men being asked to take steps to crack the “female code” of office behavior? Did we all get together at some point and decide THEIR way was the BETTER way? Trust me, if I had been at that meeting, I would remember it. And does anyone else sense the ludicrousness of asking women to shape their actions “just enough,” because, God forbid you go too far and try to be just like a man.

But wait, isn’t that what they were just asking for?

And THEY say WE’RE not logical.


Just Sayin’s first anniversary

Started this blog a year ago, plus a few days. (sorry, I was distracted)

Enjoying it so far; hope you are too.

Just looked back at a few of the early posts. Check them out if you haven’t — I’m particularly fond of the one re: Ms. Capuccine, and the handsome guy doing dishes.

Another favorite, although not quite so far back, was the one about Spanx for Men.

Thanks for reading!


faith restored

I find my faith in the goodness of humanity restored by the agreement Afghanistan is signing with the United Nations to stop recruiting children into its police forces. Even more reassuring is the decision to ban the common practice of boys from the age of 9 being used as sex slaves by military commanders.

Apparently this custom is more than 300 years old, and carried out openly in many communities.

President Karzai is motivated to end this reprehensible practice as it has resulted in Afghanistan being blacklisted by the U.N.

That seems like a good enough reason.



whimper of the pushover mother

I try to avoid reviewing things which I haven’t seen or read, and I have not read this book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua, so maybe I should just keep my opinions to myself. But based on what I’ve heard during her many recent interviews and read in the reviews, I’m pretty convinced that reading this book would not be a good idea for me. Not that I have dangerously high blood pressure or anything, but this could be just the thing to set me off.

This woman reports, with great aplomb, the following parenting pearls of discipline and motivation:

1. Her daughters are not allowed to waste their time participating in plays or sports (apparently too much a waste of time),

2. Her daughters are not allowed to complain about not being allowed to participate in plays or sports (perhaps out of concern that they feel, or **gasp!** express any emotion of their own),

3. If her daughter does not perform perfectly the next time she practices her piece at the piano her mother will burn all of her stuffed animals (because motivation by fear has proven to be so effective),

4. Her daughters must be #1 in every subject except gym and drama (apparently striving to be an Olympic athlete or Lynn Redgrave is not an appropriate goal),

5. Her daughters are not allowed to have a play date (Fun?!? Who has time for fun?!?).

When I first heard about this book, before I had heard any of the specifics listed above, I was interested — I am constantly trying to find ways to stimulate interest, passion, motivation, discipline, consideration, and respect in my children. I thought she might have some useful suggestions.

But the idea of teaching my children these concepts through berating, humiliation, and threats just doesn’t jibe with my own personal philosophy.

Does it do my child any good if I push him or her constantly so that they can achieve achieve achieve throughout their elementary and secondary educations? Am I then going to go to college with them to make sure they aren’t wasting my tuition dollars? I could share their dorm room with them, vet their friends, cut up their food. Maybe this makes me a typical “American” parent (said with a sneer by one of the commenters on the Barnes and Noble website); lazy, coddling, unworthy, but I’d rather my children learn these hard lessons the “hard” way, when there’s less at stake, then have them flunk out of Harvard because I forced them to go to law school when what they really wanted was to be a novelist.

It hasn’t escaped my notice that most of the students winning the scholar awards at Second Son’s high school awards ceremonies are Asian. Nor that my Asian piano students are also top students academically, studying in Chinese school on Saturdays, participating in at least one sport, at which they excel, and that they speak to their parents with respect and a complete absence of sarcasm. But I have also had adult Asian friends who bemoan their parents’ disappointment when they fail to achieve a difficult professional benchmark or reach the advanced age of 30 and are yet to be married.

Is it “American” (sneer) of me to want “only” for my children to find their bliss, achieve what they WANT to achieve, strive for independence, find happiness/fulfillment in the area, or degree of success, of their choosing?

There is a really funny line from Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, when the father is sending his sons to school for the first time, and sends a note with them telling the teacher that they are stupid and worthless, and to feel free to beat them as much as the teacher deems necessary. I was actually so amused upon reading this, with First Son when he was in 6th grade, that I copied it out and sent it with him to give to his teacher the next day. We were kindred spirits, and both had a good laugh. But only because it was so ridiculous.

Hmmmm. . .I wonder if she thought I meant it.





Borders on the brink

There’s a lot of concern that Borders, the store that really started the “sit-here-and-read-for-as-long-as-you-like” practice which led to every self-respecting brick-and-mortar book store containing a coffee shop/café and couches, may be in enough trouble to have to close their doors.

I’ve heard a lot of speculation, especially about that idea that most of their troubles have been caused by discount sales at BigBox stores, the spread of online-shopping, the nook, the kindle, the iPad, and the fact that Borders doesn’t have their own version.

I have a different theory.

I have never, in all of my years of trying, managed to successfully place an order online. Whether with or without a gift card, I really don’t think it can be done. You’ve written down your name and password, it doesn’t work. You have a new gift card you received from some generous piano students (thank you, btw), the numbers aren’t “recognized.” One time I managed to effectively place an order, I believe for Margarat Atwood’s Penelopiad, and several days later I received a travel guide to Zambia. I’m not kidding. When I called about sending it back in exchange for the book I had ordered (which was, btw, correctly listed on the invoice; apparently whoever was packing the book failed to notice that the title of the book on the invoice and the title of the book on the book had absolutely nothing to do with each other) I was told not to bother sending it back.

Imagine if they made that mistake for more than one customer a week.

That can’t be helping.

Guess I better hurry up and try to spend that gift card I got last month. . .maybe the collection of Saul Bellow’s letters. I’ll just create a new name and password so I don’t have to reset the old one that I can’t remember. Now I’ll enter those 16 digits from the back of the card. . .



In a related story: at a party last night a woman I had just met was carrying a book about herbs and spices she had recently loaned to our hostess. As a foodie, I asked her if I could have a look at it. She mentioned that she had heard of it, had checked it out at the local bookstore, and then went home and ordered it from Amazon. She says, with a little chuckle, “I probably shouldn’t do that, but it’s cheaper.” I wanted to say, I should have said, “you know, if, everybody did that, S_________’s wouldn’t be there anymore;” but I didn’t. I wish I had. I will next time. What is wrong with these people? Is it ALL about the $1.47 you can save by buying it from Amazon?



fund raising? or extortion?

Got this message from my daughter’s elementary-school “Webzine” today:

Friday, January 21 is $1 Crazy Hair Day at T____________!

Our Media Center needs some good old fashioned TLC and kids love “Fun Friday’s” at T_________.  Break out the gel, hair spray, wigs, wires and any other creative ideas to make some wacky hair-do’s.  We ask that each student donate $1 to participate and all collected funds will go into the Media Center Make-over bank to help purchase new decorations for the most-used room at T__________ – the Media Center!

Are they actually saying that I can’t send my daughter to school tomorrow with “Crazy Hair” unless she pays a dollar?


How poor ARE our schools, anyway? And do we even NEED new decorations for the Media Center? Can’t we just have books?

This is the 2nd year this has happened. Last year I actually wrote to the publicity person and asked the same question. Then I sent my daughter looking like this:

and didn’t pay the dollar.

I’d give them $5 happily if I weren’t being extorted for it.



“customer service” iii

I think of myself overall as a pretty accepting person. I’m not saying that I never get angry, but I try to choose my battles carefully, and only to rage when I’ve been pushed beyond reason. Of course, this happens fairly frequently when driving, as most people behind the wheel are morons, probably have difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time, and are too busy talking on their cell phones to pay attention to the task at hand.

I can also “lose it” when dealing with Second Son and his habit of leaving whatever dishes he’s used to accumulate at “his” end of the dining table for us to stare at grimly over our eggs and coffee in the morning, or when my dear lovely daughter waits until the last minute for the 457th time before collecting her belongings to head out the door for school or gymnastics or to go to her dad’s on Fridays.

But nothing pushes me over the edge like trying to deal with customer service people by phone.

So here’s the story.

I bought Second Son a videocamera for Christmas at Target. It cost $300, quite a bit more than I usually spend on Christmas presents, but I had helped buy First Son a computer, and Second Son is planning on going to college to study film next year, so I thought it would be appropriate and fair and I’ll just buy him less for his next 3 birthdays or something. I had a feeling he would maybe rather have an iPod touch, but thought I would encourage what I thought might be something more “useful” to him (as if!), and this way, if he had it in his hand, he might at least consider it. Therefore, I included a note with the gift that said “If you would rather have an iPod touch, do NOT open this package, and you can exchange after Christmas.” I purchased the camera with my Target redcard, to take advantage of the 5% discount.

You can all imagine what happened. He wanted the iPod touch, so badly in fact that he wanted to know if he could go to Target on Christmas Eve to exchange it. He goes to Target the day after Christmas (he actually sets his alarm so he can be there by 7 a.m. to beat the crowds; this is the boy we never see before noon on weekends). He takes the videocamera, the receipt, and my Target card. They accept the camera, but rather than credit the redcard and then put the iPod back on the redcard, obviously applying the same 5% discount they had applied to the videocamera, they credit it via a “giftcard” and then use the giftcard to purchase the iPod. Of course, they tell him, since they aren’t using the redcard for the iPod purchase, they “can’t” give him the 5% discount. Right. They “can’t” use the redcard to credit the original purchase, but they “can” use the redcard to charge the difference, resulting in the loss of the discount. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

He’s 17; he’s been taught to respect authority, plus he has a new shiny iPodtouchwithretinadisplay, so he says ok.

Well, not ok. I’ve been ripped off, and I’m not happy about it.

So today I finally decide it’s time to do something about it. As I review the original receipt before calling, I notice that I was also charged twice for the purchase of one movie. (Has anyone ever noticed how those mistakes almost always go in the store’s favor? Anyway. . .)

I get the phone number off the internet. I dial it. It’s 1:03 p.m. I weave my way through a tangled web of automated instructions, including entering the last 4 digits of my redcard and the last 4 digits of my social security number. (Has anyone noticed that these automated systems always ask for this information, but when you finally get an actual person they ask you for it again? Is this just a way to keep you busy so you don’t realize that you’re actually on hold for 20 minutes? Sometimes they ask so many questions I’m surprised they don’t ask what color socks I’m wearing or I have Prince Albert in a can.) Because of “high call volume,” there will be “an unusually long wait time.” I wait. At 1:14 I get a helpful young woman who agrees to put the 2nd movie, the one I didn’t buy, “in dispute,” assuring me that until it is resolved I do not have to pay that part of my credit card bill. Well that’s a relief.  I explain the rest of the problem (for full effect, go back and read the 2 paragraphs above which explain the predicament). Unfortunately, she is “not qualified to help,” but can forward me to “someone who can.” She helpfully gives me the direct number, in case the call is lost, and forwards me onward. I then weave my way through yet another tangled web of automated instructions, instructions which sound an awful lot like the automated instructions I followed at 1:03 p.m., and after another long wait, because of high call volume, I get Neil. I repeat my tale of woe (go back and read those 2 paragraphs again). He informs me that I have apparently followed the wrong series of prompts, and have reached someone who is unable to solve my problem. He forwards me on to “someone who can.” I find myself looped back to exactly where I started, so I hang up and dial the number Customer Service Representative #1 gave me earlier; remember? in case the call is lost? It is now 1:27. I’m not very happy right now, and I’m afraid it’s going to start being apparent in the tone of my voice. The last time I was this angry at Customer Service I pissed the lady at Comcast off so badly she twisted my internet service into so many knots it took 3 managers and 36 hours to fix it. So I take a few deep breaths, redial the number, follow the tangled web yet again, wait an “unusually long time” and end up with René. After repeating my tale of woe a 3rd time (go ahead, read it again; I dare ya’!) he apologizes that he can’t help me, and offers to forward me to “someone who can.” At this point I interrupt, tell him that I have spent the past half hour following instructions and prompts and waiting and being forwarded to people who are purported to be able to help me but can’t, and that I have no interest in being sent on yet again. He then apologizes for the inconvenience, and says to me, and I’M NOT MAKING THIS UP: “The reason you keep getting looped around is because that department is closed.” He then recommends that I call again tomorrow.

Do they do this on purpose? It’s $15; do they figure that if they jerk you around for long enough you’ll just give up? Is this Day 3 of their job training?

I’m calling back tomorrow. And maybe, in the process, I should offer to send them a bill for the time I’ve spent trying to remedy their self-serving fraud.

Grrrrr. . .

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