I5BOTD 2/28/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

GOP Spotlight

because someone needs to shine a light on the cockroaches currently infesting our government.


New to the blogroll

Hello, Shakespeare's Sister

Flip-flopping like a GOPpy

Caught on Tape is where you can go to see Republicans in the House who have publically declared their support for Social Security flip-flopping, on tape.

I am represented in Congress by the excellent John Larson, but my mother is in Rob Simmons district, and currently, Social Security is the only thing keeping her going.* I don't know if anyone reading (or if anyone *is* reading, but that's a whole other post) lives in Connecticut, but Mr. Simmons is a Republican who has had to get a whole lot more moderate than I believe he actually is, to stay in office. He was challenged by Kevin Sullivan in November, and it was a very close election (lots of attack ads funded by out-of-state GOPers didn't help, but Sullivan did great considering the many disadvantages a challenger has).

I'm not his constituent, but I will be contacting him to let him know how I feel about his flip-flop.

*Did I tell you, if you are out there, that my father is in jail? No? I'll have to talk about that at some point.

I5BOTD 2/25/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Marching Orders

Well written, good graphics, from a California blogger.


I'm doing it

I'm getting my hip replaced.

Ever since I stopped taking naproxen, my daily pain index has gone up dramatically. I'm walking with a cane all the time, I can't shop anymore (especially grocery shopping), my range of motion has decreased, and last night, (and here's some TMI, for those with sensitive minds), Loki and I could not enjoy our favorite sexual position because I couldn't do it - we are essentially down to boring old man on top, and I'm a gal who needs some variety in her life.

So I called the doctor and made an appointment. Now I need to lose about 30 lbs. (Although I have cut way back on my caloric intake, my exercise level has dropped, so I've gained about 15 lbs.), and I should probably get some dental work done prior to having the surgery, since dental infections can seed infections of artificial joints. As much as the idea of surgery scares me, going to the dentist is about 1000 times worse.

Oh, and I need to save about $2000, too, because I don't have short-term disability at my job, so I will have to take some unpaid time off from work.

I am both terrified and excited, which usually means I'm doing the right thing.

I5BOTD 2/24/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Peaks and Valleys

Another fine blog authored by a woman.



Okay, I'm trying to add Steve Gilliard to my blogroll. I've looked at it about 50 times now, pasted it back in again, copied another blogger who is on my blogroll and pasted in Steve's information, and no matter what I do, he is not showing up.

Any ideas?

I5BOTD 2/23/05, now with more estrogen

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Gia's Blog

Chosen specifically because it's authored by a woman.

I was over on Political Animal and Kevin Drum asked the quarterly question, "Where are the women political bloggers?" A lot of the women who have already answered this question several times over, jumping up and down screaming "I'm right here!" got kind of pissed off that no one paid attention the last time they answered this question, and this brought out the inner misogynist of the moderate Democratic male in the comments thread.

I think one of the main reasons that the women (myself included) were pissed off was that the reason that the men believe women don't have political blogs is because the women don't like the vicious, down and dirty fighting that politics brings with it. And then, when the women were showing how they were not above a good political fight, the men got dismissive and obnoxious, talking about hormones and bitches and hysteria. It was ugly.

I'm not a really confrontational person. Growing up with an abusive alcoholic father, I developed sensitivity to and accommodation of bad moods and anger as a survival tactic (if daddy was cranky, it was time to be the good daughter, otherwise I might get punched in the face). Then I married a guy who thought I was going insane when I fought the way my parents fought, and I had to learn how to control my temper so we could actually have productive arguments, that usually result in resolution of the conflict.

But the internet actually makes it much easier for me to have a political debate, because I have time to make my argument, to think about how I feel and what I want to say. I went back to Kevin's blog this morning after thinking about the subject of woman bloggers, and maybe the comment thread is no longer active, but I had my say. I think the political blogosphere can only benefit from the diversity of viewpoints that are out there, including women and black people and Asian people and Hispanic people. I'd like to see the big liberal bloggers take a more active role in increasing the diversity of the political blogosphere, because they actually have the power to do something about it.

I think it is shameful that the liberal/lefy side of the blogosphere has so many outstanding female voices that are not highlighted and promoted. Like I said over at Kevin's blog, Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin are the most popular female political bloggers on the TLB's ecosystem, and I think that's awful. How about some of the big bloggers (who happen to be almost entirely male) give the lesser known bloggers (many of whom are women) a hand up that ladder?


Pain and suffering, viva la vida!

I don't have time to get into it right now, but I want to link to this post at American Street because the topic resonates with me. Read it, think about it, we can talk about it later, okay?

Opera stories

I was just over at Bitch, PhD (which I will also add to the blogroll if I can ever figure out what's going on with it), and she posted about how her son PK (Psuedonymous Kid) made her stop and listen to La Boheme because it was beautiful.

I've never given opera a fair chance - I think the music is often incredibly beautiful, but the voices are not always appealing to me. However, I know a few opera singers through my church gig, and in person they all have tremendous voices.

When I first started singing with the choir, we had a tenor section leader who was literally and metaphorically larger than life - a mythological character writ human. Matthew was about 6'6" tall, and looked like he could have been Thor, or a Hell's Angel - long blonde hair, dressed in black leather, with piercings and tattoos. He had 4 older sisters and 4 younger sisters, and he was born on February 29th. And his voice was extraordinary...probably not the perfection that a lot of opera fans seem to go for, but rough from cigarette smoking, touched by some heavy drinking and hard living, and imbued with a tremendous sense of humor. Despite the Hell's Angels appearance, he was a working opera singer, and he's traveled around the world a couple of times, often playing Pinkerton in M. Butterfly.

He was married to a lovely and gracious soprano. (I don't think they are married anymore because Matthew, like many dynamic and interesting men, had trouble keeping his penis between him and his wife - he couldn't stop himself from sharing it with another woman. I love Matthew, but like all the rest of us humans, he's far from perfect.)

Anyway, one year for our pops concert, Matthew and his gorgeous wife sang the Clock duet from Die Fledermaus. Monkey was sitting in the front row, and as soon as the first note came out of Matthew's mouth, Monkey's hands clamped over her ears. She has never recovered from her first experience with opera, which she declared to be "too loud".

Oh well, maybe someday.

I should have done this months ago

Steve Gilliard has been added to my blogroll. I think Jeanne D'Arc, Digby and Steve are the three best writers of any kind of blog.

eta: And yet, he is still not showing up on the blogroll, despite the fact he is in my template, which I republished. I'm working on it, it's right behind fixing the links to World O'Crap and What She Said.

I5BOTD 2/22/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is a slight change of pace, because it's not really a lesser known blogger, it's a well-known and really excellent blog, authored by someone who has perfected the rant:

The Rude Pundit

Chosen because it's a great blog, and he has a nice tribute up to Hunter S. Thompson, which tells of his encounter with the gonzo journalist himself.


A real day off

I didn't have to go to work today, thanks to Washington and Lincoln, and I had the most "off" day I've had in a long time.

I am still, at 8:15pm, in my pajamas. I brushed my teeth and combed my hair, but I didn't bother to take a shower. I finished Good Omens (which was excellent, very funny, and I'm pleased that Terry Gilliam is slated to direct the movie), replied to an e-mail from my old friend Greg, who I wrote about in a previous post (I tracked him down by remembering his siblings names, and then finding that one of them had a website with an e-mail on it - I e-mailed him, he e-mailed Greg, and voila!), Monkey's best friend J came over for a couple of hours while J's mom went grocery shopping, and when she picked up J she took Monkey over her house for a few hours, we played with the dog*, surfed the web, watched the tube, came back and surfed the web some more, made some dinner, and now I'm back here again. This is the laziest day I've had in while - I can't remember the last time that I was healthy and didn't leave the house at all.

*On the subject of the dog....our guy is a Basset Hound, which I highly recommend for temperament (he's very sweet, good natured, not the least bit destructive), but must discourage for training (so hard to train...we basically take one steps forward and three steps back). After about 3 months of Cooge reliably doing all his business outside, he suddenly won't defecate outside anymore -- well, he will, but he saves some for inside. He doesn't do this while we're out of the house, when he is confined to the kitchen, but only when we're at home. He doesn't seem to get that we don't want him to do this, because today he just squatted down and did it right in front of Sio. Advice is welcome.

New to the blogroll

Please welcome What She Said

I5BOTD 2/21/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Backup Brain

I enjoy reading their college search posts. Even though Sio is only a sophomore, she is already on the college hunt. Her guidance counselor helped her come up with a list of colleges that she should consider based on her grades, test scores, and her career plans, and it looks like the author of this blog has a child who is considering some of the same schools.


Visa? No, I'll pay with my sense of how much I'm worth

Nice catch of Allan "Objectivist" Greenspan's idea of how to fix social security over at Sadly, No!.

Apparently, giving people the sense that they might have some wealth, which will make them feel wealthy, is just what the doctor ordered, even if in actuality they have squat.

Greenspan's a smart guy who knows that people pay attention to what he says, so I don't think he used such weaselly language without a damn good reason. And I suspect that reason is that the fix that Bush hasn't quite come out and told us about is going to do bugger all to insure that people in this country don't retire into poverty.

Happy Birthday, Molls

Today is my niece Molly's 4th birthday. She's sort of my de facto godchild, even though we didn't go through any religious ceremony or anything, but SIL gave her my name as a middle name.

Molls is a special kid. She's an enigma wrapped within a conundrum and all that. My theory is that she is almost entirely left-brained - she lives in an almost entirely imaginary world, where she is a horse or a cat or a dog, and my friends, Molls is a method actor when it comes to her playing. When she's a dog, she's not a dog who talks - she's a dog who eats out of bowls on the floor and pants and tries to scratch her ears with her feet. She would probably try to pee and poop outside if SIL would let her.

Anyway, Happy 4th birthday, Molls!


Since we're celebrating birthdays, a huge happy 33rd birthday to Atrios, who I just realized is not on my blogroll, and I can't imagine why.

I5BOTD 2/18/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Mockingbird's Medley

I was just randomly clicking on blogs to find one to highlight, and this one already had a post up for today's date, with a nice story about a baby hippo that survived the tsunami and has now bonded with a very old tortoise. There's a cute picture of the two animals together.


I5BOTD 2/17/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:


written by a journalism professor. I hope the link works - last night I had no problem accessing his blog, but today, on a different machine, his screen goes black after a few seconds. If you get to read it, it's interesting and a topic of much interest these days.

Also, just a quick note that I'm super busy today, so this may be all you hear from me today. I'm sure you will survive, if not thrive, without me.



Beautiful bit on The Daily Show tonight. Stephen Colbert, er, Ted Hitler mentioned DailyKos, Americablog and Atrios.

Bush budget a big "fuck you" to the poor

Most days, my job is pretty dull. Make coffee, make copies, fax stuff, collate, mail stuff, help the people with Master's Degrees figure out how to operate the folding machine, answer the phone, swallow my frustration at people who don't seem to be able to answer the question "would you like to leave a message in her voicemail?", enter data, drink coffee, listen sympathetically to my co-workers complain about each other....ad nauseum, day in, day out.

But then there are days when I have meetings, which I enjoy only because it means I get out of the office for a little while, sometimes I get a free lunch, and occasionally, the meetings are interesting.

Today, we had a meeting about homelessness in the Hartford region. We had a speaker who works with an advocacy group for supportive housing. His specific responsibility with this group is as a lobbyist at the federal level, so he printed out a bunch of information about the Bush budget for housing. Despite the fact that the HUD page has a blurb about how the wonderful Bush administration has given just oodles of money to solve the problem of homelessness, the fucking asshole Bush administration has actually cut tons of money from the budget. They've moved Section 8 away from HUD into the Commerce Department (because surely people who have no experience dealing with housing problems are the best ones to fix the problems). The same group of people who use the services that are being cut are losing other services at the same time, from child care and education programs to health care programs.

Anyway, one of the people at the meeting, a woman who has been working on housing issues for 40 years asked the speaker if there was some sort of "grand plan" that the Bush administration was going for, something that she couldn't see from the information she had in her hand. Our speaker told her that the only grand plan that he can see is that they want to cut everything, and let each state and municipality deal with the problems however they can - he quoted Grover Norquist's bathtub statement and then he said "basically, this is an economic group that they just don't care about". There was a lot of angry discussion, including some input from people in Economic Development, who one would think might be more conservative, who are frustrated at the fact that effective working programs are being decimated and in some cases eliminated altogether.

And this is just going to make things worse where we live. Crime will increase. Health problems will increase. The lessons that this country has learned are being flushed down the toilet, and our country is going to go with them.

This is why I loathe the Bush administration - because I love my country and they are fucking it all to hell.

I think he's already won the 2005 Koufax for Most Humorous blog

Yeah, it's The Poor Man again.

I5BOTD 2/16/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is

The Core 4

Primarily selected because they have a Cartoon of the Day, and I love cartoons.


I5BOTD 2/15/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Upon Further Review...

I like his sense of humor.

I renounce my sinful ways

Because The Poor Man has shown me the light.

(I haven't written anything about Gannon/Guckert because others are doing such a great job, but here's my brief opinion: I think Karl Rove* likes to suck dick, so that's how Gannon got ahead, no pun intended.

*He shore do got a purty mouth**

**Yes, I did watch Deliverance this weekend


My first foray into opera

After 2 classes, my Madrigals* teacher gave me a solo - she wants me to sing "Embarme dich, mein Gott" from J.S. Bach's Matthaus-Passione.

I am slightly skeptical - while I am very comfortable singing sacred choral music, my solos at church are usually on gospel songs, or my least favorite genre of music ever, contemporary Christian (blech). I always thought that was just because my voice is not well trained - I took voice lessons for a year or so in my early 20's, but I quit once I achieved my goal at the time, which was to smooth out the transition between my head voice and my chest voice - I used to have a range that turned whispery somewhere around G#, whereas I now have a strong range of nearly 2 octaves.

Anyway, I'm digging the Bach - it's a gorgeous piece. This is sung by Peter, when he realizes that he's betrayed Jesus 3 times before the cock crowed, just as Jesus told him he would. (Why is it sung by a contralto? I don't know. I think the contralto voice just sounds so mournful, perhaps that's why its a better fit than a countertenor.) It's a lot of work for me - I am really trying to focus on improving my breath control (I've been lazy, singing in a choir - I just breathe whenever I want to because there is always someone else singing) and feeling the emotions of the music and the lyrics.

But now I wish I could get in touch with one of my best friends from high school. Well, we didn't go to school together, we met at Wesleyan University's Center for Creative Youth - Greg was there for Music, I was there for Creative Writing. I'm not even sure how we met, but he was one of my very best friends for the remainder of my high school years. He lived in East Hampton, CT, about 10 miles away from where I lived in Hebron. He was a huge opera fan, which didn't make his high school years any easier.

He also loved to hear me sing, which I always appreciate - even my own family gets tired of listening to me from time to time, but when Greg and I went out anywhere, he would just ask me to sing one song after another.

We lost touch while he was in college - he went to Yale, and we spent a lot of time together his freshman year, but then he buckled down and I got married and had a kid, and then I moved and lost touch with him. I'll have to see if his parents still live in East Hampton - maybe they can give me his address, and I can let him know that I'm finally looking into opera, like he always wanted me to.

*The class is totally misnamed. We aren't doing a single madrigal so far - we're doing a Russian dirge that has a basso profundo solo that goes to low A flat (and friends, that is a low note) and Dies Irae from Mozart's Requiem.

I5BOTD 2/14/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:


Nice use of pix on this blog.


I5BOTD 2/12/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Nebraskan Liberation Front

It's pretty easy for me, here in my blue state of Connecticut, to be a liberal. But to stay blue in a red state is something that takes effort, and I applaud all the blue people who are outnumbered where they live.


Fast Boats

Steve Gilliard has presented a challenge to the reality based community. He's asking people to write an op-ed for their local paper on the topic of Social Security. The deadline is February 21.

I'm going to spend some time researching the issue and write an op-ed from my perspective, as a 35 year old female. This is going to be a real challenge for me - my eyes tend to get glassy when I read economic stuff - I have trouble with number related concepts - but it's important.

RIP, Arthur Miller

Story here.

The IKEA Dilemma

Kevin drum has a post up about the IKEA experience, which reminds me of my love/hate relationship with this company.

Connecticut got its first IKEA last October, and my sister-in-law and I went shopping there one Saturday. Susy loves shopping more than anyone I know, and I had heard good things about IKEA furniture from my friend Julie.

It was a complete madhouse, of course - we could hardly see the building from our parking spot, and the place was crawling with people. The parking lot had as many license plates from out of state as it did Connecticut plates.

I didn't pick up any furniture, but I got a paring knife, a couple of storage boxes, some curtains and some teacups. I waited in a ridiculous line, and the cashier rang up my purchases, and I wrote a check.

That's when the problems started. My check would not process through their system. We called the cash manager over, and she was quite possibly the least helpful customer service person I've ever dealt with. I didn't have any cash or cards with me, so Susy put my stuff on her credit card and I wrote her a check for it.

That was it for me and IKEA. I vowed never to shop there again. I went home, hung the curtains, washed the teacups and put them away, and then, every time I use that damn paring knife, I would curse IKEA, because I love that paring knife, it's perfect for me, and I hated IKEA for making such nice, inexpensive things and then having such wretched customer service.

And then, I just couldn't help it, my bedroom needed curtains, and everywhere I went, they were so expensive, so I went back to IKEA again. I will never embrace them wholeheartedly, but I have to grudgingly admit that I kind of like shopping there.

And Susy got the number to the floor of the warehouse from an overly helpful customer service person, so when she wants something specific, she calls first to make sure it's there. She was kind enough to give me the number as well.

I5BOTD 2/11/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

Freedom Camp

The author of this blog, teh l4m3, has not been at it for very long, but he's off to a great start.


Loki's mother is the only right-winger still left in the family. She's kind of an odd bird. Sheila's a twin, and she's always been submissive to her twin sister Sharon, who is, I've been told, completely and 100% evil. Loki's parents got divorced about 20 years ago, and Sheila ended up marrying another right-winger, a guy who we will kindly refer to as a controlling, snobby, arrogant jerk, and trust me, that's being generous.

Thankfully, Sheila and Jerk live 3000 wonderful, long miles away. But this has left a grandmother gap for our kids and for Loki's sister's kids. So Loki adopted Anna, a sweethearted tiny Polish woman he works with. Anna is a doer - she never sits down, she is productive every waking moment. She makes pierogies and galumpkes and won't take no for an answer, no matter how full you are.

Last night was Anna's 65th birthday, so we went to her house to celebrate. Her son and grandson had a basketball game, so we missed them, but her friend Maria was there with her hot son Tulik. (Tulik is so good looking he actually took my breath away. He was lovely, too - funny and charming.)

In the half hour we were able to stay, we toasted "Nastrovya" about 15 times, and I drank more than I have since last May, when my high school friend Therese got married. I had Hennessey, Southern Comfort, Stoli, some kind of Polish beer (and I don't like beer, but this stuff was pretty good) and some kind of liqueur.

So I was lightly toasted when I got to choir practice. It helped me out a bit, since I am singing a solo at the 335th birthday of the church, which is next Sunday, and I'm singing a gospel song which asks that I improvise over the choir. I found it easier to set aside my New England white girl ways and cut loose with a couple of shots of cognac in me.

Anyway, nastrovya, Anna, I'm so glad you are a part of our lives!


I5BOTD 2/10/05

Today's blog was chosen because the blog is named after a character from the comic book and movie Mystery Men.

Please, read and enjoy Mr. Furious.

(btw - you might start getting the feeling that I am a geek. This is not true, and as my proof I can state unequivocally that I have never seen even ONE Star Wars movie. However, I am a geek appreciator - I am quite fond of people who are obsessive about their hobbies (see "Committment" post below or in the archives, depending on when you're reading this), because it's a quality I lack, for the most part.)

I suddenly feel so evolved

Thanks to you few, you proud, you band of people who linked to me, I'm now a Flappy Bird in the blog ecosystem.


I5BOTD 2/9/05

Today's Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

From The Ministry of Truth

Mainly because the blog reminds me of Loki, who is an astronomy buff.


Bushspeak to English translator?

I think it might be a field to consider - I suspect it will be a growth industry in the next few years.

Of course, I am talking about the brilliant oratorical stylings of one George Duh? Bush:

via the brilliant Digby

Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised.

'Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

'Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.'

I tried to do a little parsing myself, to figure out what the hell any of that meant.

On the table: big cost drivers:

how benefits are calculate (sic)

Whether or not benefits rise based on wage increases

Whether or not benefits rise based on price increases

Okay, - what Bush is saying here is that his people are looking at the big costs of Social Security, which they believe to be how benefits are calculate (again, sic), and whether benefits should increase based on wage increases or get cut based on wage increases, and whether benefits should increase based on price increases or decrease based on price increases.

Series of parts of the formula being considered,

With personal accounts those (??which??) change

Idea is to get closer to what has been promised

I admit - I'm stumped as to what he means here. I don't know what changes with personal accounts, and right now, Social Security delivers exactly what it promises, so what's the prob?

There is a reform that will help solve red

Finally, I can agree with Duh?. There is something that needs to be reformed, and it definitely involves the color red.

I must ask, in all seriousness: is this man on drugs?


After randomly visiting a few of the new blogs listed to the right hand side of the page, I've decided to highlight a new one every day (that I manage to get to the computer).

Todays Indie 500 Blog of the Day is:

The Disgruntled Chemist

Chosen for several reasons:
  1. I've been helping a friend edit her book about the environment, so environmental issues are much on my mind lately, and this blog has information about global warming.
  2. He/She has a beautiful response to untethered wingnuts - totally calm and rational. As someone who has a fiery temper, I really admire that calm response.
  3. Sio is planning to go into Chemistry, and this blogger is a Chemist (even though the untethered minds on the right don't think you can be a Chemist if you are a graduate student.) I may need to solicit this blogger for advice on schools, careers, opportunities, etc. in the near future.
Read! Enjoy!

If I were a children's book written by maurinsky, where would I be?

I have a vague recollection of sticking this book, written expressly for a much smaller Monkey, in a drawer somewhere in the house. I want to submit this book to a contest sponsored by the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

While I'm not a naturally gifted artist, I can be creative at times. This book was illustrated with a series of collages illustrating the big adventures of a tiny Monkey.

Any ideas?

Pedestrian complaints

Unlike nearly everyone else who lives in suburban Connecticut, I am a regular user of public transportation. I take the bus home from work nearly every day, and to work many mornings*. I take the bus to school. If we're home on the weekend and want to get out of the house, we leave the car and walk to the bus stop.

And I have a big complaint about my pedestrian time, in particular, the time I spend walking from work to the bus stop. Spitting. Men, this is a complaint I have to direct towards you, because I have never seen a woman spit in public. Every sidewalk is an obstacle course, covered with splats of saliva and snot. Does that sound unpleasant? It's fucking disgusting, is what it is.

Things like this made me wish I had a son, because I would teach him not to spit in public.

Please stop spitting. If you must, find a trash can, or step into a public restroom and use the toilet. Please.

Next time on Pedestrian complaints: Why do we even bother to have Walk/Don't Walk signs?

*Loki and I go in the same general direction in the morning, but there is no bus service to his job, so he must drive. We carpool when he manages to get ready early enough.


Allow me to brag about my kid

My dear oldest child, the one who was born when I was a mere teenager, the one Catholic Family Service told me was doomed because I wasn't going to give her up for adoption, yes, that one, Ms. Sio - well, she had an exciting day today.

(Let me just add that I am too proud of her many and varied accomplishments to think about how I feel about the two exciting things that happened to her today on a political level)

1. She spent some time with a recruiter from the CIA, who said that based on her records, she would be an excellent candidate for joining the agency, particularly in the areas of science and technology, or espionage.

2. Several of her teachers nominated her for a National Leadership Conference that is taking place this spring in Washington D.C. Sio was very excited about the itinerary, although I did tell her they probably wouldn't like it if, when she meets Dubya, she tells him exactly how she feels about him - that's the kind of thing that would get the CIA watching you, but not for recruitment purposes. However, the conference also comes with an exciting price tag, so unless she gets a scholarship or we win the lottery (highly unlikely, since we never play), she may not go.

I can already tell that my stomach will be queasy at the thought of my baby in the CIA within the next 12 or so hours, so I'm just enjoying the warm glow of pride while it lasts.

Groundhog Day

Oh, I meant to post this a few days ago.

Here in beautiful Manchester, CT, we have our own groundhog, who lives at the Lutz Children's Museum, named Chuckles. While Punxatawney Phil may be the official rodent weathercaster of choice, Chuckles is a local sage, well worth listening to.

Our local newspaper, the very excellent Journal Inquirer, featured Chuckles prognostication on the front page of the paper this past Wednesday. The headline read:

"Chuckles Does Not See His Shadow: Spring Around the Corner"

And just below that, the headline writer with a sense of humor wrote:

"Bear in mind, Chuckles is blind and deaf"

(Chuckles is very old now, so he's suffering from diseases related to aging that most groundhogs never get to experience.)

Tempting Snow

Last night, we got more snow. I went out to clean off the car, and I realized that this was the snow I'd been waiting for.

Most of the snow we got this year was either really powdery or really hard. But this was wet and sticky. In other words, this was snowman snow.

I seriously contemplated calling in sick today so I could build a snowperson or two in front of the house. Monkey and I even got started building one, since she had a 90 minute delay for school. But time got away from us, and we only have the bottom third of our snowperson completed. I'm hoping the snow is still good for building when I get out of work.

Indie 500

I just added a shitload of blogs to the roll, under the heading Indie 500. These are other bloggers who opposed Gonzales as AG.

They may not all stay in the blogroll, because I haven't visited them all yet, so I don't know if they are all bloggers that I want to be associated with, but we're starting off agreeing that torture is bad, so I can at least assume they are better human beings than Joe Lieberman.


'Holy' Joe? Your 'yes' vote says 'NO'

Joe? Holy Joe Lieberman? You are done.

I was pleased to pull the lever for you when you ran for the Senate. You did a fine job as the AG of Connecticut, and I thought you would do a good job in the Senate.

I started to get a little worried when you started your moralizing about video games. I got a little upset when I wrote to you to complain about it - I mean, here you are, a powerful Senator, and you are focusing on a topic that really should be the responsibility of parents - and I got a form letter back thanking me for my support. Clearly, your office was not registering the opinions of your constituents. I wasn't happy about it.

But I have to admit, I was a little proud (although also a little worried - it didn't seem like a good strategy) when Al Gore chose you as his running mate. I was proud that a fellow Connecticutian was going to be the first Jewish VP.

And then you gave up the fight. You and Al Gore were clearly the winners, and you just let it go.

And then you voted to give Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq.

And today, today you voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales. This is a man who boiled complex legal issues down to one sentence summaries so his benefactor didn't have to read too much. Because of Alberto Gonzalez, people who were mentally retarded, who were not given the best defense possible as is required by the law of this great country, and people who were truly repentent, were killed in the name of the State of Texas. This is a man who called the Geneva Conventions quaint. This is a man who drafted a legal memo that gave our military the okay to torture people.

I know you think of yourself as a moral man. But torture is immoral, full stop. There are no conditions under which torture is moral. It's immoral when Saddam Hussein engages in torture, and it's immoral when the United States engages in torture.

Today, you gave your full approval to torture. You condoned torture. That makes you morally depraved, as depraved as the people who raped prisoners with fluorescent lights, as depraved as the people who put naked men on dog leashes, and even as depraved as Saddam Hussein and his rape rooms.

You bring shame to the state of Connecticut. You bring shame to the Democratic party. But mostly, you bring shame to yourself. It doesn't matter how devoted a family man you are, or how devoutly you attend Temple and observe the Sabbath. You are no better than those who actually performed the acts at Abu Ghraib.

I cannot wait to work for the person who challenges you in the next election. If no one else will, I will. Because Connecticut deserves better than a torturer to represent us in the Senate.

May the spirits of those who have been tortured haunt you for the rest of your days.

Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be administrative assistants

There are a lot of sucky things about my job. Executives often feel free to order you around like you're a well-trained poodle - no "please" or "thank you". You get left out of staff meetings where decisions are made that affect everyone in the office because "we just need you to grab the phones!" People hand you huge projects 10 minutes before they *must* go out in the mail. Or they hand you huge projects that *must* be completed "today, before you leave", when it's 5 minutes before you're supposed to leave.

But one of the things I find most frustrating is when they give me busy work, work that is a waste of anyone's time. For example - 30 minutes ago, the Director gave me a file folder and said she needed 30 copies of everything inside of it for a 2 o'clock meeting. There was a memo on top, then 3 separate sections that were about 20-35 pages each, each section stapled. So, without further instructions, I made a judgement call, and made the copies the same way they were in the file folder: 2 page memo on top, section 1-30 pages stapled, section 2-25 pages stapled, section 3-35 pages stapled. I collated all 4 sections together and paperclipped them all together.

10 minutes ago, the Director came running over to me with the stack, and said that the 2 page memo on top had to be stapled together, so could I please set aside what I was doing (which was given to me by another Director, and was in the "must go out today before you leave" category) to do this crucial stapling.

So this was my priority, given by one of my bosses: set aside the revenue generating project you are working on, and take apart each one of these packets to staple the first two pages together.


On the other hand, I did get paid over $16.00/hour today to staple things together, so it could be worse.

Yeah, it's not enough to make it worthwhile.

State of the Kitchen

I did not watch the SOTU address last night. I am one of those Bush haters, I can't even look at the man, and it turns my stomach to listen to his voice. It's easier to control my rage when I read the text, which I plan to do later today. I particularly want to read up on his so-called Social Security reform, because I thought it would be a bust, but Jesse is leading me to believe it's even worse than I anticipated.

Instead, I focused on the state of the kitchen. I have been making major inroads in combatting my naturally slovenly ways. I washed the dinner dishes (which was easy, since we had leftovers...mmmm, Shepherd's Pie), reorganized one shelf in my pantry (I think I was overdue in throwing out the oregano that had been with us since 1993), washed all the counters, and swept and washed the floor.

So the SOTK is pretty good.


The Talk

Monkey and I had 'the talk' tonight. It was hilarious. We were eating dinner, talking about my SIL, Susy, who has found herself unexpectedly pregnant. She already has 4 children (who were planned), and was on the pill, but somehow got herself knocked up anyway. She and BIL are both pretty happy about it, particularly BIL, who now feels his sperm are somehow embued with superpowers.

So Monkey asked how babies are made. She had asked once before, when she was really little, and I sort of gave her a quick rundown, without involving any words like penis or vagina.

Tonight must have just been the perfect night for her to ask, because we got into all the details. At first, she was confused about where the man puts his penis, and pointed to the back door, which caused Loki to choke on his food, and strongly suggest that the back door is a one way street - poop goes out, nothing goes in. I left it there, because I really was not willing to get into the subject of anal sex - our topic was procreation, and that's what I was going to describe.

To her credit, while Loki was choking and Sio was covering her face with embarassment, Monkey was totally cool about the whole thing. After describing physically how it happens, we sort of added the context that I endorse for my children: sex is a wonderful activity to be enjoyed by adults who are committed to one another. We talked about the possible negative consequences of sex - unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases. We talked about how her private parts are hers and no one is allowed to touch them. I let her know that if she has any other questions, she can come to me and I will be honest with her. And we suggested that she not share her newfound knowledge with any of her school mates, because this is the kind of thing kids should learn about from their parents.

At the end of the conversation, Monkey was laughing about the whole thing, and then she paused and said "So Susy had sex with S. (BIL) 5 times? I'll never be able to look at her again!"

Man, I love that kid.

How will this affect their GPA?

A Texas state senator has proposed a law that would require schools to grade children on their weight.

(Just a side note: while I am not obese, I'm on the chubby side, and one of my mortal fears is that one day I will recognize myself in one of those "from the shoulders down" shots. You know the ones I mean - where they are reporting on the TV news about a weight related item, and they know we can't rely on our own imaginations (or our own mirrors, for most of us) to conjure up a fat person so they show some poor unsuspecting schlub who was probably just raised in a house with poor eating habits (like me!) and haven't been able to break the lifelong habit. I hate those shots.)

There are so many reasons why, as Americans, are fat, and I don't think this state senators plan would make a dent, even if it did pass, which it probably won't.

But there are policies that would benefit the general population, family friendly policies that would allow for a less ridiculous pace of life, that would encourage lifestyle choices that could impact our fattiness. Family leave, for example. There is evidence that breastfeeding can reduce the likelihood of obesity later in life - I think this is because the baby learns to recognize when it is hungry and when it is full, something that isn't quite as easy when the baby is on a tight, measured feeding schedule, where they are supposed to eat X number of ounces every X number of hours. From my own anecdotal experience, my diet improved dramatically when I was nursing, because I had a strong motivation to eat well - my babies were getting their nutrition from me.

And of course, parents themselves need to take responsibility for what is in their house. We don't have soda in my house because it's a complete waste, nutritionally. It doesn't help you, and it certainly can hurt you. And I don't just cart my kiddlywinks to their various activities, I have physical activities of my own - I swim 2 to 3 times a week for 2 hours each time.

I would also think the state senator might take a look at some of the other issues she mentioned: that many of the students in Texas don't have health insurance. Or how about taking a look at school lunches - they tend to be of minimal nutritional value.

I'm not preaching from the altar here - I am far from perfect on the food issue myself. Too often, I rely on more processed food than I would like (because of time issues), and I have perfected the art of ignoring side dishes - we often just eat a main course with a salad on the side - less veggies than I would like to serve, but I just can't get my act together.


I am a big fan of TV shows on DVD. There are a lot of series I didn't watch because I was busy doing other things (parenting stuff, community theater, living life with other humans instead of sitting in front of a screen). Now that my hip is in such bad shape, I can't do a lot of the things I used to do, so I am more inclined to waste time watching the tube. Watching shows on DVD is perfect because I can avoid commercials, and I can schedule the watching on my own time.

One series I recently purchased is Freaks & Geeks. I didn't catch this show not only because of NBCs capricious scheduling, but because when it was on the air I was involved in two different community theater productions, Three Short Plays by Christopher Durang and A Little Night Music. F&G was a great show, and the DVD is ridiculously abundant with delightful extras - there are commentaries on every episode, and you can feel the love that everyone associated with the show has towards their collaboration. It's a critically acclaimed show that many felt was cancelled too soon, but it's one absolutely perfect season, at least they never declined in quality.

Speaking of declining in quality, I spent much of the ridiculously cold weekend watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2, on DVD. I didn't start watching this series until it was in its 4th season, so I had to buy the previous seasons to catch up. Season 1 was okay, but Season 2 and 3 were mostly fantastic (On the plus side: Surprise, Innocence, Passion, Becoming Parts I and II. On the minus side: Inca Mummy Girl, Bad Eggs, Go Fish (seriously, what were they thinking?). Unlike a lot of fans, I really enjoyed the show until the tail end of Season 6 - I confess, I really liked Buffy & Spike together, so I was only disturbed by the ridiculous magic=drugs storyline they gave Willow. I probably won't even bother buying Season 7, because it was like a different show completely.

Angel was on a different track than Buffy entirely. I think it started slow and picked up steam, and each season was on the whole better than the season before it.

But here is where I commit heresy: Firefly was, in my opinion, the best of Joss Whedon's creations. I know, Buffy's an icon, Angel's cool, but Firefly was so much more complex than either of these shows. Buffy and Angel both touched on the gray area between good and bad, but Firefly lived in the gray. I think the show had the best acting, the best sets, and the most potential of the shows Joss Whedon created. Of course, it's easy to talk about the potential of Firefly when it was cancelled halfway through the first season. I actually shed tears when I heard it was cancelled. I am trying to not get too excited about the movie, Serenity, so my expectations don't get out of control. I will be there on opening night, though.

My only complaint about TV on DVD is that some shows I would like to watch again are too damn expensive. X Files, Six Feet Under - I'm looking at you.