A little bit of the fog has lifted

I was really not happy about taking remedial math, and I suggested in an earlier post that I already knew the stuff we were learning. After tonight's class, I have to take it back. Simple concepts I thought I understood before? I really didn't. I am so glad I am in remedial math now. The teacher is perfect - she seems to understand that for me, math is a foreign language, so the first thing we are focusing on is learning the vocabulary. I already feel more confident.

I wonder if the prices at the pump have anything to do with the new rationale for the Iraq Invasion

According to this nifty table I found at Foreign Policy.com, 21 separate rationales to support an invasion of Iraq were publicly expressed between September '01 and October '02 (which adds, btw, to the already stellar credibility of the Downing Street Memos). You know what's missing from the table? The rationale a great many liberals believed was the actual one.

Yes, according to George W. Bush, that blood being spilled is for oil after all.

I suspect this has less to do with a desire to come clean about the dishonest case he made prior to the invasion as it does with a desire to capitalize on people's frustration with the price they are paying for gasoline.

If every vote was an I.Q. test, everyone who voted for Bush failed. He's a fuck-up of massive proportion.

Recently watched movies

I recently signed up for Netflix, since we've cut down on cable, and we occasionally like to watch something.

First movie we rented was Bottle Rocket, the Owen Wilson/Wes Anderson penned indie movie, produced by such no-names as James L. Brooks and Richard Sakai. It's not the most exciting or hilarious movie ever written, but I enjoyed it enough to watch it twice. The story, like other Anderson/Wilson collaborations, is almost entirely character driven - the plot is not a top priority. This is not a tightly crafted tale, it is loose as a goose. I like these kinds of stories - it feels a bit like you're peeking in at bits and pieces of real people's lives.

The second was Finding Neverland, which surprised me by being an absolute tearjerker. I like Johnny Depp well enough, but I'm not one of those people who worships him. Kate Winslet, however, I adore, and she was lovely as usual (although perhaps a bit underused) in this film. The kids were great, the story and direction were both terrific, but I wept through the last third of the film.

I wish I could be more descriptive, but I'm hopped up on drugs - my allergies contributed to a sinus infection, and I'm desperately trying to stay awake right now.



My classes started yesterday, which is why I haven't been posting much. (I also don't have much to say, the situation in New Orleans is just awful, and I'm just disgusted with Bush, who should be embarassed to proudly proclaim how he's cutting his 5 week vacation short by two whole fucking days! Too bad this wasn't an election year, and LA didn't have more electoral votes, they probably could have gotten funding before the disaster under those circumstances. And too bad the LA National Guard is fighting in the desert with amphibious vehicles.)

I had my Remedial Math class last night, and it was very nearly as boring as every math class I ever took in high school, only more so because I already knew all the stuff we were covering. (Place values, people. That's how retarded at math I am - I took the placement test and apparently, I'm at the place value level.) On the pro side, the teacher seems lovely, and she has a melodious Jamaican accent. On the con side, it's math, and math and I have never really connected. I keep reminding myself that this is my fresh start in the subject, so try to get along.

Oh, I also found out that the book I paid $80+ for was printed without chapter 5, so the school had to photocopy chapter 5 for us. Nice proofreading there, publishing company.

Tonight, I had my dessert class, Madrigals. I took Madrigals last semester, and I had a very nice teacher who kind of sucked at teaching, and the evil soprano section that created a tense atmosphere and just killed all the fun.

When I got to school tonight, I was waiting out in the hallway and these two adorable girls introduced themselves to me, asking if I was the teacher. We started talking, and it turns out they know Sio, because they just graduated from her school. And to know Sio is to love Sio - one of them asked me how I raised someone as wonderful and nice and friendly as Sio. (I cannot take credit - she was delightful and perfect at birth).

Someone came and unlocked the door, and we all filtered in the classroom, and it was just wonderful - we were all talking and introducing ourselves and we just clicked. There was discussion of who the teacher would be - and then the director of the music department walked in with our new teacher, who had just been hired not 5 minutes beforehand.

The new teacher: about a thousand times better than the old teacher. She took charge, she was excited about the class, she was specifically excited about doing madrigals (last semester we didn't do any madrigals) - I loved her immediately.

Everyone had to sing a line of a song so the teacher could make sure we were in the right section, and every single person in the room had a *fantastic* voice. There is a boy in the tenor section whose voice almost makes me believe that not only do angels exist, but that they take the form of a chubby Puerto Rican boy who doesn't have to shave his face yet. After class, a very cool looking dude approached me to tell me how cool my voice is. That just doesn't happen to me (cool looking dude approaching me, cool looking dude speaking to me, cool looking dude complimenting me - none of those things happen to me.)

Now I am so pleased that I decided to sign up for the class. I would enjoy even a crappy music class, but now this looks like it's going to be good.


Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon....

All I want is loving you and music, music, music!*

It's the Music Meme - in this case, I found out about it from Norbizness. Go to Music Outfitters and search for the year you graduated from high school.

I wrote some of my thoughts in the comments thread over at Norbizness.

An interesting alternative meme was to look up the top 100 from when you were 13 years old. Here, I must confess, we hit upon a few songs I am still quite fond of.

11. Tainted Love, Soft Cell
16. 867-5309 (Jenny), Tommy Tutone
67. I Ran, A Flock Of Seagulls
68. Somebody's Baby, Jackson Browne (only because it reminds me of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which I saw when I was 13)
79. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Police (probably my favorite song by The Police)

In 1983, I was very into popular music, because I loved a lot of the songs that were in the top 100 that year:

10. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), Eurythmics
11. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, Culture Club
13. Come On Eileen, Dexy's Midnight Runners
17. Hungry Like The Wolf, Duran Duran
18. Let's Dance, David Bowie
23. She Blinded Me With Science, Thomas Dolby
25. Little Red Corvette, Prince
26. Back On The Chain Gang, Pretenders
32. Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye
33. (Keep Feeling) Fascination, Human League
36. Mickey, Toni Basil
41. 1999, Prince
42. Stray Cat Strut, Stray Cats
48. Dirty Laundry, Don Henley
51. Goody Two Shoes, Adam Ant
52. Rock The Casbah, Clash
53. Our House, Madness
55. Is There Something I Should Know, Duran Duran
62. China Girl, David Bowie
84. (She's) Sexy + 17, Stray Cats
91. Pass The Dutchie, Musical Youth

By the time 1987 rolled around, I was no longer listening to popular music.

*I'm channeling my mother, who has a song to go with any word you mention.


It was more wholesome back then

I had to go grocery shopping this morning (no matter how much you feed them, kids never stop being hungry - keep that in mind if you ever think about getting one). The soundtrack in the grocery store this morning was a bunch of songs from the 50s and 60s. I heard Under the Boardwalk, and I Got You (I Feel Good), and then I heard a Golden Oldie I've never heard before. I had to stop and listen to make sure I wasn't misunderstanding the lyrics, but I was right - the song was called Shaggin' the Night Away.

I can't find the lyrics online, but there was something about "me and my baby, shaggin' the night away".


No, there's the pouch after all

I suddenly feel so devolved.

Friday Night Name that Movie, TV or Oscar Wilde quote

Yes, I am going to steal this topic, but I'm going to perform it in my own unique...what's the word? Idiom! Name the movie, the TV show, or identify the quote as being one of Oscar Wilde's, and win a prize!*

1. How wonderfully eccentric while at the same time being a complete waste of our time.
2. You know, they tell ya to never hit a man with a closed fist but it is, on occasion, hilarious.
3. Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
4. You know, I wish my parents played Mozart when I slept because half the time I don't even know what the heck anyone's talking about!
5. I don't need none of yo' tired ass country club, ya freak bitch!
6. She can't act, she can't sing, she can't dance. A triple threat.
7. Your Majesty, you're like a big jam doughnut with cream on the top.
8. My ox is broken!
9. America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up.
10. They had this look in their eyes, totally animal. I think they were young Republicans.

*Prize may be your satisfaction at guessing correctly.

school days (I know, I already used that title. What can I say, my inspiration level is *low* today.

Yesterday was Monkey's first day of third grade, and she said it was wonderful. She made a new friend - a girl who just moved to the U.S. from somewhere in Europe (Loki is not as nosy or as pushy as me, I would have asked the girl where she was from, and if I knew a phrase in that language, I would have said it, because me=dork), and she is thrilled that this year, she gets to be a Book Buddy (they pair a third grader up with a kindergartener, the 3rd grader reads to the K student), and, of course, they prepare for the CT Mastery tests, which they take next year. I still don't understand why they must give the mastery test at the start of the 4th grade year, before kids are fully back into the swing of school.

She came home with a boatload of papers for me to fill out and sign, an acrostic poem (M is for magnificent musician! A is for amazing at art!), and an insistence that she was going to bring lunch this year instead of buying lunch.

Today was Sio's first day back at school, and she was planning to start her day by changing her schedule. I hope it went okay.

Speaking of Sio...her best friend slept over on Tuesday, and they went back to school shopping, and one of the things Sio bought based on her bff's recommendation was a pair of thong underwear. What a proud day in a mother's life, when she sees her daughter's first thong. Let me pause while I wipe away a tear, *sniff*.

I feel less pouchy all of a sudden

I suddenly feel so, I don't know, evolved.

No matter how large a mammal they say I am, I will always feel like a humble and probably slow-moving sloth on the inside.

(You have to love an animal that is named for one of the seven deadly sins.)


Let's Take Pat Out

And I don't mean assassination or kidnapping.

While CBC is a cable channel in my neck of the woods, it does air on broadcast channels on Sunday mornings, and in some parts of the U.S., it is a broadcast network. So let's start complaining about the obscene and indecent words of this madman, and start complaining to someone who can (won't, but can) do something about it: the FCC.

They do state that obscene broadcasts are prurient in nature, but I looked up the definition of prurient, and I think we can make a case:

Main Entry: pru·ri·ent
Pronunciation: -&nt
Function: adjective
Etymology: L prurient-, pruriens, present participle of prurire to itch, crave; akin to Latin pruna glowing coal, Sanskrit plosati he singes, and probably to Latin pruina hoarfrost -- more at FREEZE
: marked by or arousing an immoderate or unwholesome interest or desire; especially : marked by, arousing, or appealing to unusual sexual desire
- pru·ri·ent·ly adverb

emphasis mine - if calling for assassination (or even the laughable assertion that he really meant kidnapping, which, hello! is also illegal) is both immoderate and unwholesome, and therefore fits the FCC definition of obscene and indecent.

What I need is context - broadcast dates/times, station call letters - that I can send along with my complaint, so the FCC can do a proper investigation.

Of course, what we really need is an avalanche of these complaints to be sent, so it becomes a story on its own, which would hopefully give the FCC an incentive to do something, even if its a paltry slap on the wrist.

The address for making an FCC complaint is:

Enforcement Bureau
Investigations and Hearings Division
445 12th Street, Room 3-B443
Washington DC, 20554

Good news for New London

The sub base stays open!


School days, school days

Tonight I went over the my community college and signed up for my remedial math class. (While I always tested well for math aptitude, my practical ability - and my effort- has always been poor, to say the least).

I also picked up my book, which I wasn't able to buy used because the faculty is using a new book for this class this semester. I didn't really glance through it or anything, just brought the book home, and after dinner, I scanned through it.

I'm going to sail through the early part of this course, judging by the book. The book appears to be designed for those who have never gotten past the Sesame Street level of mathematics. I was feeling a little resentful that I have to take this class, and also really pissed off at myself for doing so poorly on the placement test, but then I decided I was just going to take this as a fresh start in the subject of math.

It is kind of shattering to realize that I really did waste my potential by ignoring my studies in high school. I did have some extenuating circumstances - my father's alcoholism and abuse and my mother's codependence and mental illness really killed a lot of my confidence and esteem and energy. Now I only have myself to blame if things go wrong, so I have to promise myself that I will not let myself down.

Pat Robertson

I keep reading about Pat Robertson's fatwa against the democratically elected leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. And it's all well and good that Robertson's call for assassination is creating a shitstorm. But I have to ask: what will happen next?

I'm guessing that Robertson will either issue a tearful non-apologetic apology for how his words were misunderstood, or that he will just lay low for a while.

But this guy is a thug, and he should be receiving some earthbound retribution for his evil words and actions. Maybe The 700 Club and the CBC needs to be sued for inciting violence or Robertson needs to be arrested for soliciting a murder.

I suspect, however, that he will weasel out of this circumstance

Online writing workshop

This is slightly old news, but the Phantom Professor is offering an online writing workshop on her blog.

My answer for assignment 1 is in the comments, and if it sucks, you should know that I spent maybe 45 seconds on it. (As always, my enthusiasm for a subject does not necessarily translate into action).

I'm looking forward to participating! It will hopefully be a good warm-up for my second year of NaNoWriMo.

Two irritating things before 10am

1. The air conditioning at my office is broken. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a huge problem for me, as my boss likes the temp so low that my hands get numb, but I managed to get a beautiful sunburn while I was at the beach yesterday, and I'm feeling really hot already.

2. One of my co-workers had received several nominations from some high-profile people to sit on a GIS committee. Although the committee is supposed to be non-partisan, he was rejected because he's a registered Democrat.


Sorry, women of Iraq

Shakespeare's Sister (and many other fine blogs) have linked to articles about our latest failure in Iraq.

Yes, apparently in our zeal to defeat the Islamic Fundamentalists who weren't in Iraq, we have conceded that Iraq will now be under Islamic law.

I was over at Political Animal a little while ago and he had a post up (I can't link to it right now because his site is apparently down) that asked "Can we win in Iraq?"

It's a trick question, Kevin Drum. We lost the war before a single bomb was dropped. We lost the war when Congress voted to give the incompetent Bush administration authority to invade. (The American people lost in a much larger sense when the 2000 election was stolen.)


Back on an even keel

I am feeling much better today, after getting my free coffee, reading Serenity #2 and the last section of Tom Perotta's "Little Children" (which should have been depressing, actually...no happy endings, but you know, the characters had realistic endings, and that's okay with me), and then spending the rest of the day with my sister-in-law, who is both incredibly optimistic and upbeat but also has her feet squarely planted on the ground. I love her to death.


Stress levels have steadily increased

Well, the day did not go as planned, because my husband, who I love dearly most of the time, was a schmuck. He didn't listen to Sio, and he didn't notice the note she left, and so instead of going and relaxing at a picnic, I was driving around town looking for a "missing" child who wasn't actually missing, but was, in fact, exactly where she said she was going to be, doing exactly what she said she was going to be doing.

When Loki came by to pick me up from work to go to the picnic, he mentioned that Sio disappeared and he didn't know where she was. He then proceeded, as we were driving around looking for her, calling all her friends, to go through every possible horrible thing that could have happened to her. I started off unconcerned, because she is such a reliably good kid, but within 45 minutes or so I was a nervous wreck, as we called friend after friend who had no idea where she was.

So I'm home. No picnic, no fun evening with my funny friend, no good times, no relaxation. True, there is at least the pleasure of relief in knowing that my child is fine, but I really wouldn't have had to worry if the schmuck didn't screw up in the first place.

Stressed out

I can't post anything useful today because my stress levels are insanely high, due to a combination of no exercise (it was too cool to swim yesterday), no money (I have less money in the bank account than I've had since the late '80s, when Loki and I both worked part-time jobs making $5-$6/an hour), PMS, and just general worry about the near future.

But in a few minutes, I'm leaving work early to go to our company picnic, where I will get fed and get to swim and maybe get to relax a bit. And tonight I'm meeting my friend Leslie to hang out at Borders, and I'm sure I'll relax even more, because she cracks me up. And I'll be able to have a drink because my frequent coffee buyer card is fully punched, so I'll get a free beverage. And then this weekend we are celebrating my niece's 13th birthday, so that will be another meal I don't have to worry about and good times hanging around with my sister. And then I have the day off on Monday so I can use the $19 in my pocket to get back to school supplies for the kids.


October 2001

I remember October of 2001. I would still look up everytime I heard a plane, making sure that it was at the proper altitude, thousands of feet above me, and not careening downwards. October 2001 was when my mother and my sister visited New York City for the first time since the 9/11 attacks. My mother worked in the financial district before she got married, and she was working there when the World Trade Center opened. They wanted to pay their respects to the dead and to pray for the families of the victims.

In October 2001, America was still in shock over the brutal attacks that occurred on September 11. We were united in our resolve to capture Osama bin Laden, the man behind the attacks, and bring him to justice.

Unfortunately, our president was focused on another target altogether.

Newly declassified documents reveal that while the nation was still freshly in pain over the 9/11 attacks, the president was focused on going after a guy who had nothing to do with them. Even while Bush was talking big about "smoking him out" (him being OBL), he was planning regime change in Iraq.

In my view, this strongly implies that Bush was planning to attack Iraq no matter what. And it also suggests that Bush exploited the attacks on 9/11 as a means to getting the war he wanted.

And make no mistake - the war that we have in Iraq is the war Bush wanted, because there was no planning for the post-war period, despite the fact that government experts warned about the lack of post-war planning. If Bush didn't want an insurgency, he would have planned for how to deal with one. Well, maybe that's just the way reality based people think - Bush's world is one where he ignores inconvenient facts.

And, though I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, it also makes me wonder if this desire to change the regime in Iraq also drove policy prior to the 9/11 attacks...it makes me wonder if the Bush administration didn't ignore the August 6, 2001 PDB, but instead decided to use it to further their Iraq agenda. I don't think that is an unreasonable question to ask.

Rantus Interruptus

I was feeling pretty satisfied after my rant (post just below this one) about potential Supreme Court Justice John Roberts and his disdain for the concept of Equal Pay for Equal Work. And then I had to go read Ezra, who pointed out that Roberts' response was actually directed towards the idea of comparable worth, which, although not nearly as radical or offensive in my opinion as it is in Ezra's, is not quite as offensive as deriding equal pay for equal work. (My main complaint about the concept of comparable worth is not about its redistributive qualities, but that is reinforces that some jobs are traditionally women's jobs and others are traditionally men's, and there is no method for increasing gender diversity for either of those jobs.)

Still, I feel some of the wind has been taken out of my sails as far as my rant against Roberts. However, my point about the Republican war against women still stands.


We wouldn't want to raise a fuss

I was just reading about Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' disdain for the concept of equal pay for equal work.

Three women, including now Senator Olympia Snowe, sent a letter stating their concern about the fact that women received only .60 compensation to every dollar that was earned by their male counterparts. Roberts was not happy about GOP women getting so uppity:

I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept. Their slogan may as well be, 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender.'"

Because believing that a person should be compensated based on their ability, not on their gender, is the same as being a communist.

He gave the standard concerns about how women leave the workforce, seniority, blah, blah, blah - whatever, it's a lot of crapola.

First of all, women's wages weren't lower because they started a job at equal pay with their male counterparts, but left to make babies, and they missed out on a raise or a promotion while they were gone. Woman have historically been given lower starting wages then men, even when both the man and the woman have the same package of skills and experience. Now, women who give birth usually do leave the workplace for a time, although I know a lot of women who went back to work as soon as their six weeks of maternity leave was over. (Six weeks, that's only one week longer than just one of George Bush's annual vacations.) No weight is given to those women's contributions while they are at work, even working women are seen as just baby making machines who are eventually going to get knocked up and leave, so why pay them equal pay for equal work?

It's also an interesting contrast to another group of people who leave the workforce - those who are called to duty in the military. Those people are mostly male, and they have a special law that not only protects their jobs (if they follow standard procedures and are honorably discharged), but protects any raises they would have received while they are serving their country, and protects their seniority.

Now, I don't want to take anything away from those people who are called into service, but I don't think shooting people in far off lands is any more important than raising the future citizens of this great country of ours. Clearly, Roberts' does not value the job of having and raising children, because he thinks all women should be punished because some women have the temerity to leave their jobs, even if only temporarily, to push babies out of their filthy woman parts. (And this doesn't even touch on the fact that only women are expected to sacrifice their education, time and money for raising children.)

It's part of the continuing war against women being waged by the radical right-wing Republican party (RRWR). Women cannot win - if you work, you are paid less money, you are castigated for not being home with your children where you belong, and you are called selfish and uncaring. If you stay home, you better have a well compensated husband, otherwise you aren't getting any help from the government - if you can't afford to feed your kids, you should get a job or three and quit whining! At the same time, they are trying to make it impossible for women to control their own reproductive systems so they can have a freaking choice about whether or not they want to have a kid in the first place. At first, I was going to write that they just don't want women to have sex, but it's more than that. They don't want women to be free to make any choices of any kind about their own lives. There is only one acceptable path in life for women, from the RRWR party's perspective: grow-up, get married, be a submissive wife and make as many babies as your husband decides he wants to have.

And to just top that delicious shit sundae with a cherry, the Democrats don't think it's worth fighting over. Do they understand that political capital isn't the same as cash? This is a subject worth debating and arguing about. Democrats, you can't win if you don't put up a fight!

Here's the info to contact your representative in the Senate.

Depends what they mean

Over on my homepage, which is msn.com because I'm too lazy to change it from the default that our systems guy set up, there is an "article" about Celibate Celebrities, headlined: Celibate Celebs: Some Aren't Promiscuous, which has me slightly confused. They are either saying that some celebrities who claim to be abstinent are merely not promiscuous, or that there is no ground between being abstinent and being a slutbag whore.

Either way...seriously, this needed to be written? There was no other silly celeb story that needed to be told today?


Is this the LCD for women?

In my office, we frequently get discount tickets or free invitations to various events happening in and around the Capitol Region. We have a lot of elected people who walk through our doors, as well as town managers, public safety personnel, and politically active citizens - they tend to be people who are more likely to attend events.

Late last week, the office manager sent around an e-mail to let us know she had a book of dicount coupons for the upcoming Women's Expo. I thought to myself "hey, I'm a woman, maybe I'll check this thing out!"

My first inkling that the lowest common denominator position of contemporary womenhood was way out of synch with my own interests was the top billing given to one Peter Reckell, "Bo Brady from Days of Our Lives". The second was that one of the big freebies that women can get at the Expo are free psychic readings. By the time I got to the fashion shows and facials, I was definitely feeling out of step. I mean, I dont' have a problem with fashion, I like to look good, and while I've never had a facial, but I wouldn't mind getting one...(but not that kind of facial, you sicko perv!), but my concerns and issues as a contemporary woman are more directed towards balancing work and home, finding a way to pay for college, maybe a workshop on how to do home repairs, or how about a political discussion - I mean, our very control over our own reproductive systems is in jeopardy right now, I bet that might be of some interest to some women.

Now, there are going to be some things that might be interesting. One of the keynote speakers is Carol Evans, who will be speaking about balancing work and motherhood - she's the CEO of Working Mother Media. But I'm willing to bet she's going to have lots of ideas that help women who are in high level, well-paid jobs. I don't have to work 60 hours a week at my job to keep up with anyone, but I also can't just leave to take my kids to a doctor's appointment or to chaperone a field trip - I have to carefully plan my time off and hope that no one gets sick when I'm not scheduled to have a vacation day. That isn't a problem for the women in my office who have Master's Degrees - they aren't paid an hourly wage, so they can come and go as they need to.

(Sidebar - when Sio was 5, I was getting calls from the school nurse on a daily basis about her - she had asthma, and she was forever overexerting herself and not taking her inhaler in time to prevent an attack. I lost my job because of all the time I had to take off to pick her up from school, and this was with Loki and I sharing the burden - I was only going every other time they called. It didn't matter that I was one of the top performers in my department - my boss, who one time actually told me that he would accept nothing less than perfection from me, didn't like the fact that I valued my child more than I valued my job. What a dick that guy was.)

Then there is this blurb about another of the speakers:

Crystal Andrus: Genuine Health USA Seminar Title: Transform Your Life from the Inside Out! Seminar Description: In this exciting workshop you'll learn all about Simply . . . Woman! A week-by-week body/mind/soul total transformation program that encompasses every facet of a woman's life. From your daily demands and frustrations to your wants, needs, and fears, this revolutionary plan elevates the experience of weight loss far beyond the physical. With steps, which are gently laid out over 12 weeks, this workshop effectively empowers you to take back control of your health, discover your passion, override your fears, and create a life filled with joy and serenity-thin thighs are just the by-product!

Silly me, I had no idea that the path to serenity lay in thin thighs!

There are going to be some good things there. A lot of health organizations are going to be there to spread information about women's health issues. They are having a lot of cute little giveaways, like a trip to Jamaica, a massage, and raffles for tai kwon do or jukido classes. Who doesn't like getting freebies? But I know these types of events are supposed to appeal to the average or typical woman, and that's just something that makes me feel out of step.

I don't care too much for money

My title must be true, because if I liked money, I would probably hold onto some of it.

I got to thinking about economics this morning after reading the Carnival of the UnCapitalists over at Shakespeare's Sister. More specifically, I got to thinking about my personal economics after I paid the mortgage and checked the bank balance, and realized that not only are my kids not getting the traditional back to school outfit this year, I am now fairly certain I will not be able to take a class myself.

Things are getting bad here in working-poor land. Our only car just passed 100K on the odometer, and celebrated by demanding we spend what will likely be upwards of $600 on some repair work (Loki thinks it's the transmission; I think it's the timing belt - perhaps Fixer and/or Gordon could give me an idea of what it might mean when your car is hesitating as you drive?). In the meantime, I'm bus(s?)ing it, and Loki is getting rides to work from my sister, and we're reimbursing her gas costs.

In addition, Sio is taking 3 AP classes this semester, which cost $60 each. For one of those classes, we had to buy a textbook which cost $137.00. When we bought the book, I had to wonder if any other moderate to low income families have bright children who don't participate in AP classes because of the associated costs.

I've already cut the cable bill, and I've been clipping coupons (although I find that a lot of the time, I can spend less just by buying the store brand.) I could cut the water bill by having some plumbing work done, but I can't afford to have a plumber come out right now. I am not looking forward to winter this year, because our old house needs insulation and new windows, and I can't see a way that we are going to afford either before it gets cold.

I'll have a good cry over these money woes, but I have some ideas for raising a little cash.

1) When I get home today, I'm putting together a load of clothes to sell to the consignment store - I am way overdue at weeding out old clothes of Sio's and Monkey's, so this is a good chance to do some cleaning and make a little cash.

2) I have a file folder at home with our medical co-pay receipts, prescription receipts, receipts for OTC medications recommended by the doctor, as well as receipts from Monkey's daycamp program, all of which I can get reimbursed through my Section 125 plan. That might even be enough to pay for my class. I have to tally it up to see.

3) Although I hate carrying debt, we can always put the car repair cost on our credit card. I normally pay off the card every month, but our car has to get fixed.

4) When the car is fixed, I need to pull out the bike for trips around town. This isn't always easy for me, because my hip does not rotate at all (it's essentially immobile, which means my back ends up picking up the slack). But as gas approaches $3.00 a gallon, it becomes harder to justify getting in the car for errands that rarely pull me more than 3 or 4 miles from home.


I was a childhood sexist

This post over at Shakespeare's Sister has got me on the nostalgia and navel gazing train.

As I wrote in the comments, I was a big ole butch tomboy when I was a child. I'm sure many of my elementary school classmates would be surprised that I'm not a butch lesbian right now. (My high school classmates would likely say "Who? Maureen...? Nope, not ringing a bell.")

My sister likes to say I was a born feminist, but that's not entirely true. I was very aware at a very early age that girls were not treated fairly, and I was *pissed off* about it. I tried to fight it, but eventually I decided it would just be better to be a boy, because girls sucked!

I had to be forced, kicking and screaming, into dresses for family photos. I learned how to handle a hurley, played baseball, and roughhoused with other boys. I have a vivid memory of hiding in a grove of trees with R & K (boys), looking at the dirty pictures in National Lampoon magazine, and finding the nude women wonderfully titillating. That's what I liked about girls when I was little - I liked what they looked like. Otherwise, I despised their weakness, their shrieking when they encountered a bug or a worm.

Now that I'm an adult, I'm still not like a lot of other women that I meet. I'm not a tomboy, or even a little bit butch. I prefer skirts to pants, I wear make-up. But now, as a mostly heterosexual married woman, I truly love women. I love my sisters, I love my girlfriends. I love the sisterhood of my online acquaintances (can I call them friends? I think of them as such, but I don't want to presume anything.) I know so many young women who proudly say that most of their friends are guys, but I can't say that. Most of my friends are women. And I am happy about that.

Serving the country

This story has been pretty widely blogged today. Most of the blog posts I've read have focused on the first couple of paragraphs:

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

But the part that caught my eye was at the end:

Jason McCamey, 19, got support from his family when he told them he wanted to join the Marines.

His dad, Don, 46, who had served in the Navy from 1983 to 1986, joined the Pennsylvania Army National Guard shortly after his son enlisted. Jason's younger brother Sean, 17, a high school student, has joined the Army Reserve.

"I taught my boys you should serve your country," Don McCamey said.

I was a 17 year old senior in high school in 1987. I had acceptance letters from Sarah Lawrence College, Hampshire College, Wesleyan University, Amherst and UCONN. I couldn't wait to go to college, and I pictured myself sitting in a Joseph Campbell lecture on the picturesque Sarah Lawrence campus, only 45 minutes from Broadway; or roaming the tunnels at Wesleyan, maybe getting into the Eclectic Society.

But my father was in an evil, whiskey inspired mood when he filled out the financial aid forms, and I was devastated to find that I did not qualify for any financial aid...in fact, my form had been rejected entirely because of my father's answers.

So in May of 1987, I had no prospects. I thought about the military many times. Although I was a punk, and was generally anti-any kind of establishment, I was well aware that the meritocratic system of the military would be beneficial for me - the structure alone would have helped me enormously. But Reagan was still president, and I didn't trust that bastard - or his likely successor - to use the military for anything but advancing their political agenda.

I read Don McCamey's statement, and I think to myself: I think my kids should serve their country. I think *all* citizens should serve their country. But under the Bush administration, it's not even my country anymore. And even though I have no idea how we're going to pay for college, I would fight my Sio if she said she wanted to enlist. Because the guys in power now treat the military like they are little plastic figures on a RISK board - they are just numbers of troops, pieces to be shuffled around as needed (or more accurately, as they so desire; screw the actual places where our military could be useful.)

I am proud of any young man or woman who wants to serve their country - when I see men or women in uniform while I'm out and about, I thank them for their service (I've picked up the restaurant tab for a table of soldiers more than once, although I do usually do it anonymously, so I'm kind of embarassed to mention it here). It's a noble thing to want to serve your country.

Too bad the Bush administration is just making suckers out of these kids.

Because if you join the military under Bush, you're just being used to further an agenda that is degrading the quality of the United States. We are torturers now. We don't care about due process or civil rights. We smear and slime the mother of a young man who died serving his country. I am deeply ashamed of what Bush has done to my country, and I am furiously angry at all those who support him.

Thank you, John Howard

If you check out the sidebar on the right, you will see that instead of an endless stream of blog names, I now have a compressed section for the Indie 500. My sidebar looks so much less cluttered now, and I have to thank John Howard for sending me the code and instructions.

ETA: Of course, I just checked to see if they were working, and they just link right back to the blog, so I did something wrong. I tried deleting the code and adding it again, but then the code just showed up on the blog, so that can't be right. I must have made a mistake. Any suggestions? John Howard?

I also added my e-mail address in case anyone has a burning desire to e-mail me.

(Sidenote: for some reason, I always want to write John Howard's full name when I refer to him. Maybe it's because I know so many men named John IRL, but the author of the hottest blog on the internets is always John Howard to me.)


There's been a lot of talk on the blogosphere about NARAL, both pro (scroll down) and con.

I wanted to write about it here, but then I read Digby (scroll down), and, as usual, he is right on the money, and has articulated my own feelings on the subject more eloquently than I could (and with less swearing).



Okay, on the one hand, this seems like it could be a good thing for the Democrats. I mean, no one really likes Cheney, he has that perpetual sneer, he doesn't know how to dress for formal events, and the less said about this*, the better. And that isn't even counting the fact he is pure evil.

On the other hand....President Cheney?

No. Just, no.

*my theory (in the gross-me-out contest at Shakespeare's Sister to figure out what exactly Cheney is packing in there) was that it was a colostomy bag collecting his leavings, which would be used in an sexually-motivated enema given to someone (but I can't remember who, and I'm too lazy to search the archives at Sis' site for more than 3 or 4 minutes. I apologize profusely for even thinking that, let alone sharing it, but I'm very competitive, so I really wanted to gross everyone out.

Added to blogroll

and I'm embarassed by how long it took me to do this. The Heretik is outstanding, and you should be reading his blog instead of my piddling contributions.


What the fucking fuck!?!

As in "what the fucking fuck!?"

"Hey, you know what would be a great way to honor the 3000 people murdered on 9/11?"

"What way, Don?"

"We should have a great big fucking party with country music, y'all!"

My own idea for honoring the victims of 9/11?
Catch the fucker who is responsible for it, you fucking incompetents!

I'm such an addict

You scored as Simon, the Doctor.

Simon, the Doctor


First Mate Zoe


Inara, the "Companion"


Captain Malcolm Reynolds




Kaylee, the Mechanic


Jayne Cobb, resident bad-ass


Shepherd Book


Wash, the Pilot


created with QuizFarm.com

Yeah, my sister sent me this Firefly quiz, and she and I both came out as Simon, although I think I'm much more like Mal.

How many chest x-rays is that?

As I was getting ready for work this morning, Loki was listening to NPR, and a story came on about the EPA changing the rules for radiation levels at the proposed nuclear waste site at Yucca Mountain. I said to Loki "don't tell me they've decided that people who live near a nuclear waste dump can handle more exposure."

But yes, that is the case - the now ironically named Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a standard that would expose residents of Yucca Mountain to anannual radiation equivalent to a chest x-ray. Or so they say. Energy policy lobbyists are thrilled with the announced change, which makes me very nervous for the people who live in Yucca Mountain.

The EPA says that the average American is exposed to 300-400 million millirems each year, and they want to allow the nuclear dump to release no more than 15 million millirems annually - that's in addition to the 300-400 million the people in that are are already exposed to.

At least, that's the standard for the first 10,000 years. After that, the dump can release 350 millirems into the atmosphere - more than doubling the amount the people of Yucca Mountain are exposed to - and UNLIMITED AMOUNTS of radiation into the groundwater.

Maybe they've decided that's acceptable because by then, no one will want to live anywhere near Yucca Mountain, or that no one can live near Yucca Mountain because that's where you get cancer and die. Or maybe they figure that Rapture's gotta come before then, so who gives a shit?

The EPA is accepting 60 days of public comment, so here is the info on how and where to make a comment.


Lincoln would kick that fucking elitist George W. Bush's ass

Republicans are always happy to remind people that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. They like to gloss over the Civil Rights movement that essentially caused the parties to swap sides, the racist Dixicrats siding with the Republican party to keep minorities down.

Abraham Lincoln, as every American child should know, gave a mighty fine speech on November 19, 1863. You know the one I'm talking about: a brief but perfect speech that ended with this sentence:

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

that phrase that I bolded - that is a beautiful sentiment that perfectly describes what Democracy should be. Government of the people, by the people, for the people. That is what America is supposed to be.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bush would rather have a dictatorship - after all, democracy is hard work, and considering his brainpower, he probably has confused the governmental system of democracy with those guys who sometimes make a stink about him and his buddies (not often enough for my taste, but any disagreement is too much for the Greatest American Dictator.)

Right now, Cindy Sheehan is displaying her citizenship by asking for an audience with the guy who is supposed to working for all Americans. She is angry, and righteously angry, in my view - her son Casey was killed for the war Bush had to have, and the war he lied to have.

Cindy Sheehan deserves answers. America deserves answers. Bush is supposed to be working for us, but so far, all he's given us is death, torture and lies, lies, lies. (And if you fucking dare to say "but what about tax cuts", you are so craven and morally bereft that all I can say is you should be ashamed of yourself.)

Bush is using a previous meeting with Sheehan to get out of his responsibility (that seems to be a habit of his, doesn't it?) for facing her now. President Coward doesn't want to face anyone who isn't already on his side, after all.

You know, if George Bush was really proud of his war, and he really felt like he was doing good things, he wouldn't be so afraid of facing his critics.

But this is what you get with George W. Bush: a fancypants elitist (PDF), to the manor born, who is a big phony as he pretends to be a regular guy, just clearing brush on his ranch on his 5 week long vacation, just like every Joe Sixpack.

Now Bush is really revealing his cowardice - he is planning to say Cindy Sheehan is a threat to our national security if she doesn't go away.

Abraham Lincoln once wrote to a woman who sacrificed five sons to the Civil War. He spoke to her with dignity and respect.

Lincoln said "I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save."

Bush tells a mom who lost her son in Iraq that she is a national security threat.

Lincoln must be spinning in his grave about how far the Republican party has fallen.

Good Stuff

Kung Fu Monkey has a righteous rant and a warning for those who are pushing so-called Intelligent Design: you're sending our country down the crapper!


Quick review

Sio and I caught most of the Ben Folds/Rufus Wainwright show (we were late to the concert because A. I tried to do too much today, which caused us to get a late start and B. we hit traffic on the Mass Pike that held us up for about 20/30 minutes.

This was Sio's first concert, so when we got to Boston, I dropped her at the Bank of America Pavilion (corporate sponsorship, sucking the poetry out of life every day), and I went to park. I got all discombobulated coming out of the parking garage, so I missed a big chunk of Ben Folds : (

What I did see was Ben Folds in top form, which is how he is everytime I see him live. I love that little man. But boo! there was no encore! I think he was feeling a little under the weather, so I forgive him.

I did get to enjoy Rufus Wainwright's whole set. I think Rufus is an artist who is best appreciated live. He's unbelieveably charming and adorable and clearly belongs in the spotlight. And for me, his songs take on so much warmth when I see him performing them. I think it's because his voice is not one that I immediately enjoyed listening to - he has mushy diction, his voice is both throaty and nasal, but I think he's a fantastic songwriter, and in person I find myself appreciating the positive qualities of his vocal performance - the emotion, the range. Plus, he is delicious to look at, according to Sio. I feel maternal towards him, I just want to give him a hug and have him tell me about his day over some fresh baked cookies and tea.

Highlights of Ben Folds: I missed his cover of Dr. Dre's Bitches Ain't Shit, but I won't shed any tears, since I did see it the last time I saw Ben. So my highlight would have to be One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces, a song that I play on my way to work in the morning because it revs me up. Another highlight: Ben conducting the audience on the harmony section of Not The Same - I love it when he actually climbs on top of the piano. And I love every single time he pushes his glasses up owing to my geek fetish.

Highlights from Rufus Wainwright: I was thrilled he played my current obsession, Hometown Waltz. He also played a new tune, one he thinks is going to be a big hit. It's called Between My Legs (Rufus: "it's about a landmark"). But my two favorite numbers were Memphis Skyline, his ode to Jeff Buckley; and his performance of Beautiful Child, which was kind of thrilling. And I am always, always impressed with his tuning - he must have perfect pitch, because the dude is never, ever out of tune.



So Bush is taking his month-long, August vacation again. How very European of him.

I was looking back at some of Bush's previous August vacations.

Last year, he cut his vacation short so he could keep the job that gives him so much time off.

Two years ago, he returned from Crawford refreshed, renewed and restored, so he could tell us all about how well things were going in Iraq.

Three years ago, Bush went on vacation while the stock market went diving.

We all know what happened when Bush went on vacation four years ago.

It's a little galling to see how much vacation Bush takes from my perspective, as someone who has to save vacation days for when I get my hip replaced because the small office where I work does not have any short term disability insurance.

Then again, I'm sure fucking the whole world is exhausting.

I likes what I likes

Paul wanted to start a questionnaire (which people are still calling memes, to my great annoyance) about 10 songs you're digging right now.

List ten songs that you are currently digging ... it doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're no good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the ten songs in your blog. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

I'm not going to bother to tag anyone because people seem to get irked by getting tagged, although I love getting tagged because any evidence that people are aware of my existence boosts my self-esteem.

Also, I tend to listen to one artist at a time, and I often listen to one song over and over again, until everyone in my family is utterly sick of that artist and that song. I'm only going to list a couple of songs because there are only a couple that I keep coming back to right now.

Landed by Ben Folds off his latest CD, Songs for Silverman
Ben Folds is a classic songwriter - sweet melodies, catchy piano riffs, lyrics written with simple language in his distinctive voice, sometimes humorous, sometimes bitter and angry. There is a particular type of song that Ben Folds excels at writing, and that is the Break-Up Song. Looking over his discography, I am struck by how many of my favorite Folds songs are about a break-up. There is the quiet realization that you don't matter to your ex in Selfless, Cold and Composed. The pissed off and humorously juvenile rage of Song for the Dumped. The bitterness and pain of Smoke - and all of those are only on one CD!

Landed is about the end of a relationship, but it is optimistic and hopeful - the end of the relationship in this song means the protagonist is free, and I feel that freedom surging through me when I listen to this song.

Well I opened my eyes and walked out the door
and the clouds came tumbling down
and it's "bye-bye, good-bye, I tried"
And I twisted it wrong, just to make it right,
had to leave myself behind.
Now I've been flying high all night.

Hometown Waltz by Rufus Wainwright off his latest CD, Want Two
Somehow, this song, with the strumming banjo and an accordian driven melody, has enchanted me. Short and sweet, simple and wise, recorded with Wainwright's sister, mother and aunts, and it captures something that is sort of an overriding theme in my life - you can't escape your past, and everything you came from is always a part of you.

You travel the world and find all the answers
Everything operates on the unattainables
And then you hear your mother laugh attached to the phone
Could have walked around the block 'cause all roads lead to

That's all I can list for now. I've got some CDs that I haven't given a real listen to yet, including Ted Leo and the Pharmacists latest and Le Tigre, but right now, these are the two songs that are in my head and in my heart.


Speaking of bats...

Shakespeare's Sister had this post up about bats, and if you read the comments, you will read a fond reminiscence of my childhood, when my sister and I would stand outside at dusk, standing still while the bats flew around us. We thought it was very cool.

Interestingly enough, as I was sitting here playing freecell on the computer (because I have insomnia), out of the corner of my eye, I saw something flittering around, and I looked up and there was a bat flying around my kitchen! Would it surprise you to know that I did not say "cool!"? No, I believe I shrieked a very high pitched scream and then let out a stream of expletives. Bats outside = cool. Bats in my house = fucking hellshit, not cool!

I will either attempt a capture and release, or I will run up the stairs and close all the doors behind me. The cons to my second plan include waking up to find the bat was captured by one of our cats, who will most definitely not attempt a release, unless I mean release as in "release the bats organs from within the confines of its skin."

Off to look up the incidence of rabies in CT bats.

Phew, I'm feeling less anxious now.

UPDATE: Not for those who don't know want to know what happens on Wild Kingdom when predator meets prey.

First, I opened all the doors on the main floor, to provide ample exit opportunities for our nocturnal visitor. Then picture this, if you will: your intrepid blogger, dressed in cotton pajama pants featuring a purple hibiscus print on a fuschia background and a non matching blue t-shirt, a pair of black boots, wearing a grey knit hat with earflaps, wielding a large stainless steel bowl in one oven mitt clad hand and a large frying pan in the other oven mitt clad hand, as she approaches the the swooping mammal with all the enthusiasm of a Young Republican headed to the recruiting office.

For what seemed an interminable amount of time, I attempted to herd the bat towards one of the exits. Then Casmir, our older cat, came hopping down the stairs, and before I could stop him, he jumped up and caught the bat in his mouth. He didn't play with it, he just bit down hard, and then acquiesced when I told him to drop the poor creature. I scooped up the bat and took him way out back, to the point where our backyard meets the backyards of 3 of our neighbors - a small no-man's land that no one rakes or trims or fertilizes, we just leave it as a boundary between our yards. And there I unceremoniously dumped the poor bugger, because between the bat and the dark and spiderwebs I walked through to get through the yard, I was seriously freaked out already.



How do I compress part of my blogroll? I would like to clear up some of the stuff on the right-hand side of the page (which is why I made all the headlines wordier, of course), but I would like to continue to keep the many fine blogs on the right blogrolled, primarily because it will be too much effort for me to go through, see which blogs are still being actively authored, and clean out the ones that have been more or less abandoned.

If you know, please explain it to me using as little jargon as possible.

Because I can't resist a mutual admiration society

Somewaterytart's blog, SomeWateryThoughts, has been added to the blogroll.

Bush to world: fuck you!

The spoiled brat gets his way.

Bolton says he is "honored and humbled" to get the appointment, providing further evidence that Republicans don't understand what words mean.

The article pissed me off because it says that Democrats were unable to prove that Bolton's temper and bullying were actually improper intimidation and harassment. I disagree. Just reading a single account can show any sane person that Bolton engaged in activities that would get you fired as the manager of Wendy's. But today's Republican puts their party above their country, so it's okay to intimidate and harass if you're a Republican.

BTW, does anyone else think of Monty Python's Flying Circus when they hear the name Bolton? I think it was in the Dead Parakeet sketch that they go to the "Other Pet Store" that isn't in Bolton, but is in Notlob. (Although my memory might be fawlty. Sorry about that.) My first thought when I see his face is "Notlob".

Ohhhhh, now I get it

I always wondered why the Irish American Home Society chose to have their big Irish festival the last weekend in July. In my personal observations, Irish people are amongst the most heat sensitive, sweatiest people in the world - I was sweaty even in the dry heat of Las Vegas. So I always wondered why the Irish Festival was held during a time that was almost guaranteed to be sweaty weather.

But it all came clear today when a pagan friend of mine wished me a Happy Lughnasa. Traditional Lughnasa festivals lasted from July 15 to August 15, but the official Gaelic holiday of Lughnasa is today, August 1st.

Interestingly, the festivals celebrated to the sun god Lugh have something in common with the Seinfeldian holiday Festivus - feats of strength are displayed at both. And to bring this full circle, apparently Festivus was invented by an Irish-American, who no doubt would have been sweating his ass off at the Irish Festival this weekend, had he been there.