Saturday, April 30, 2005

Interesting reading

Thomas Frank, who wrote "What's the Matter with Kansas?", has an interesting new article called "What's the Matter with Liberals?". It's thoughtful reading and I highly recommend it.

The backlash narrative is more powerful than mere facts, and according to this central mythology conservatives are always hardworking patriots who love their country and are persecuted for it, while liberals, who are either high-born weaklings or eggheads hypnotized by some fancy idea, are always ready to sell their nation out at a moment's notice.

And in response to all those montages and music videos of the John Kerry-John Edwards 'love fest', here's the site responsible for the 'marriage' of George and Abdullah.
Tech stuff

I've updated my side bar with a link to Uma's website. Kid's like 15 days old and she already has her own website. Some of us had to wait a couple of decades to get a website. Sheesh, kids these days.

The blog email updates haven't been going out. I'll reset the service again today, but I'm thinking about discontinuing it all together since it has been less than reliable. I'll let you know for sure if I do discontinue the email though.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Hee hee

The burrito lover in me got a kick out of this. There's nothing like eating a burrito the size of your head, yo, but a 30-inch burrito is positively monsterous.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

See the S car go

The management, namely yours truly, apologizes for the lack of bloggity lately, mostly due to an attack of RL and second, because I hurt my shoulder and back last week doing something not too interesting (use your imagination; I guarantee you, it will be more exotic than reality) and typing really, really hurt. But now I'm back, in mostly pristine condition, which is more than I can say about my car.

My car is at about 55,000 miles right now, which is pretty good for a car I bought in December of 1998. But that also means I'm 5,000 miles short of that magical number when my car allegedly is going to just disintegrate into a pile of spark plugs and timing belts and radiator fluid. Every time I go to the mechanic, he has this uncanny ability to just reduce me to a pile of goo (similar to what you might see beneath a car leaking radiator fluid, incidentally). He points out things, very casually, and says, "You're going to have to think about getting those OGEIJOIU done and by the way, that's gonna cost you $200 and while we're changing that, your factory manual says you should probably get FUEDNLIJ done too, and that'll be about $500."

The last trip to the mechanic was to get my car inspected. My car failed. For the first time ever. I ended up having to get new brake pads and windshield wipers -- minor things, incidentally -- but along the way, two different mechanics at two different shops managed to just completely unnerve me with a list of stuff that was going wrong. I was thinking the whole time, "I bought a Japanese car specifically so I wouldn't have to deal with misbehaving calipers or ornery water pumps." I went home and had a nervous breakdown and then I decided I needed to get me to an automotive class.

So I'm taking a class on Wednesday nights for the next month or so. The first class was yesterday (the 'survival' or 'basics' class was several weeks ago). The teacher passed around a shock absorber and said, "This is really easy to replace." The thing weighed as much as I do; there was no way I was replacing my own shock absorber. Then he's going on and on about changing your own oil, about replacing your own brake pads, about unscrewing bolts and replacing struts -- the list goes on and on. To hear him talk, my entire car is held together with just two bolts; no wonder the thing is going to just fall apart at 60,000 miles.

This coming class, we're supposed to work on our own cars. He gave us a list of tools we should have, including something called a spark plug socket. He also had an order list if we wanted to buy tools in preparation for the class. I was thinking of multiple uses for say, a hammer, which would make the purchase of a hammer worthwhile, but a spark plug socket? Let's be realistic. The chances of me climbing under my own car and changing out a strut is statistically nil. And you people know how I am in the kitchen and when it comes to assembling furniture, well, you know how that turns out. And this guy wants me to remove the wheels of my car and work on the brake system? Um, no?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bad TV, good TV

Some say watching television can make you smarter because of increased plot complexity (don't ask me what else was in the article; my eyes glazed over around page 3 and I had to find something less deep to read. Conclusion: I need to watch more television).

But really what makes me happy is the Parents' Television Council putting the worst examples on television online for easy access. Thanks, PTC! Now I know where to find the good stuff! (I especially love the warning on the media player: WARNING: Graphic Content!!! Do NOT push play if you don't want to see the explicit video!!!). My current fave show, "Without a Trace", makes the list twice, but it boggles my mind that "CSI" (the original, not the knock-offs) doesn't make the list at all, nor does anything aired in 2005. I feel let down.

And while we're going on with Bad Stuff Your Parents shwouldn't Approve Of, here's a list of banned/challenged books.

Don't say I don't point you to the good stuff now.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Behind the door, my life will be

Saturday turned out to be a spectacularly awesome day in a complete and unexpected way. I love days when you head out, the sky above is clear blue, and there is a brisk breeze to take the edge off the heat. I love that moment when you look at your watch and realize that it's nearly dinner time and you've been out and about since before lunch and you and yours still have the energy to keep going. It was like everything came together perfectly -- good company, good weather, and good food. A girl could not ask for anything else.

Friday, April 22, 2005


There's apparently a name for this thing I'm going through: quarterlife crisis. The last time I had a crisis, I got sucked into fandom. Now, I'm not so much into fandom anymore, but I'm always amused when I find RL mimicking fandom. Now I'm just waiting for the RPF/RPS to show up because where there's fire, there's got to be RST.

It all started with an extremely fawning article of Ann Coulter, which then caused people to go ballistic that Time magazine would even consider putting Coulter on its cover. Honestly, I take more issue with the completely freaky picture of Coulter on the cover; parents, cover your children's eyes for fear they be blinded by the skinny blonde's 10-mile long legs! Anyway, for the brief version of the current kerfuffle, go here, while Salon has an article about the article here. If you like to see the whole thing unfolding in real time, there's a list of links here (I plead injured shoulder as my response for not re-inventing the wheel).

Man. Never thought I'd see the day when I'd put Ann Coulter's name in my blog as I think she's a nut job. And to be fair, I think Michael Moore is kind of crazy too, but as far as I know, Moore has never suggested killing journalists or converting Muslims or other making other inflammatory remarks. I've heard conservatives say Coulter is just trying to be funny or trying to get people's attention with her rhetoric. It's hard to take a pro-life stance seriously when comments about wishing it was the NY Times office that was blown up instead of Oklahoma City's Murrah building are considered funny.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


I went to my first meeting of the French club last night. I had to bribe myself with chocolate cake to go, because I tend to talk myself out of things, but in this case, the meeting was at one of my favorite faux French bakeries with a chocolate cake to die for and if I ended up just embarassing myself all over the place, AT LEAST I HAD CAKE.

I got to the meeting a few minutes before 8, because I'm anal-retentive that way, but that also meant I had to skulk around the bakery looking for the French club. You would think it would be easy to find a bunch of Francophones in a bakery in the middle of Red State USA, but amazingly, no, it's not. So I ended up grabbing the local free newspaper and kind of stood around, pretending to read the weekend listings. Having a newspaper or other literary prop when going to a restaurant/bakery/deli by yourself makes you look a little less dorky.

In the end, I finally went up to the cashier next to the dessert section and asked if he knew where the Francophones were. He was actually really nice and told me the French people met outside and newsflash, I wasn't the only one roaming the bakery looking for them. Nice!Cashier actually ended up corralling a bunch of us lost souls and we then thanked him by standing in front of his station, blocking the entrance for other paying customers, and possibly driving Nice!Cashier nuts by repeatedly saying to each other, "Bon soir! Je m'appelle..." and asking each other to "Repetez, s'il vous plait." To his credit, Nice!Cashier didn't make us move and when I went to order my slice of chocolate cake, he even cut me a slice from a freshly baked cake. Now that's la bonne vie.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Choose life

"Que dit la loi? Tu ne tueras pas! Comment le dit-elle? En tuant!" -- Victor Hugo

My aversion to the death penalty is no secret, primarily because of the very real possibility of an innocent man being put to death. Since 1973, 119 death row inmates in the US have been found innocent. Some would say it's worth killing an innocent person or hundred to 'teach a lesson', but I'm not one of them. I'm much more in favor of locking these people up and throwing away the key. In fact, I'm very happy Scott Peterson will be spending the rest of his natural life in prison, so he can never, ever be free to forget what he did to his wife and child.

The US is one of only a handful of countries that still has legal executions. In 2004, the US ranked fourth in the number of executions -- behind China (3,400), Iran (159) and Vietnam (64). The US at 59 was still considerably ahead of Saudi Arabia (33) in number of executions and until recently, the US was one of only six countries, including Yemen and our good friend Saudia Arabia, that executed juveniles. These are not facts -- or company -- to be proud of.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

There is a Pope

The election was so short and sweet I missed the web-cams of the smoke signals. I'll let the Catholics debate Ratzinger is good for their religion. Me, I'm just happy to get on with my non-Catholic life.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The best thing

I love baby snuggling, the way she curls up right against me, one fist in her mouth, and the other flat against my chest, and her head tucked between my chin and my shoulder. And even though she's so small, she's warm and solid, and her eyes are open and wide, alert and looking around -- like a big question mark etched on her face. Really, there's no better moment in the entire world.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Blog rerun

Every now and then, I have a blog rerun. Not consciously, like the Valentine's Day one (which I forgot this year), but because I do -- believe it or not -- run out of things to say. The entry that was supposed to go here felt curiously familiar; only the wording was slightly different and I was thinking, "Whoa, I'm redundant in text as well as in spoken word." It was a humbling epiphany, let me tell you.

This blog is more than four years old. That's practically medieval in blog years, so it's no surprise I've started to repeat myself, especially as over the years I've gotten smarter about the blogging thing. No work, no super personal details or stories, and very few mentions of friends -- it kind of limits the playing field to explosions either in politics or the kitchen. Lately, I haven't been cooking that much, relying on Amy's frozen dinners, which are decidedly non-burnable/explosive and I've got nothing when it comes to politics; the country's managed to stay together for over 200 years through some weird stuff. It'll get through this 'weird stuff' too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Baby baby

While we're all sitting around for Baby G to make an appearance (she's taking her own sweet time, if you ask me), check out A Roshanda By Any Other Name and where do names come from anyway?

Monday, April 11, 2005

Good eats

I had tapas for dinner, which is possibly the most perfect way to eat a meal. Tapas is the Spanish style of eating many small plates of appetizers over a long period of time, and if you are in Spain, you start at 10 or 11 o'clock at night. We being in the United States started around 6:30 or so and went into 9, amassing about 5 or 6 plates and finishing up with a luscious dessert of tres leches cake -- which is possibly the most sinful and delicious treat around.

I first had tapas in Madrid a couple years back. We went from restaurant to restaurant, drinking sangria, and eating whatever the restaurant's speciality was, whether it be marinated mushrooms or tortilla -- the Spanish version is a thick omlet with potatoes. I felt the heat in my face and the lightness in my head as the sangria took hold, and then there was the rush of people around me as we walked out into the night, heading to the next culinary adventure. It was, in a word, perfect.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Another 'hair-rising' post

My God-given eyebrows and I parted ways during my freshman year of college. Before I went to college, I had thick, wayward eyebrows that curled and went every which direction, and practically came to the tops of my eye sockets. I didn't think much of them until I went to college, and my roommate -- let's call her A -- showed up with beautiful, arched and well-mannered eyebrows. I was amazed. Naturally, I did what any intelligent woman would do -- I invested in a pair of tweezers and plucked the living daylights out of my God-given eyebrows.

The end result was uneven, extra thin, kind of freaky eyebrows. During that time, I was also wearing glasses, so the freakishness of the eyebrows weren't quite so obvious on first sight. A suggested once I should probably go to a salon and get them professionally done. This was a news flash; as far as I knew, salons were only to get your hair cut and your lip waxed. I had no idea they did eyebrows too.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years was pretty traumatic. I was making the decision to switch my major and also to switch universities. I had transfer admission to UVA and I was ready to pack my bags and head south, bad eyebrows and all. It was also the summer I decided to get contact lenses, which is also a trauma, though one that's easy to get over. Getting contact lenses was a revelation. My eye doctor told me the world would be brighter and I should consider wearing sunglasses. Considering this was Vermont, where sunlight existed for like 5 percent of the time, I didn't actually take him seriously.

That was before I stepped outside and I could see the world in a clear and unadultered way, and for the first time in eight years, I had peripheral vision. That was way cool. And added benefit was when I went into a building, I didn't have to worry about glasses fogging up. And oh, when it rained -- which it so often did in the Happy Valley -- I didn't have to dream about little windshield wipers for my glasses.

I didn't end up going to UVA. A week before I was supposed to move down there, I backed out. I had already withdrawn from UMASS, so you can imagine the emotional upheaval there. Was I ever going back to school? Meanwhile, A and her beautiful eyebrows had found another roommate, and I was stuck in this weird limbo, though one I could see very clearly for the first time in years.

Thanks to the never ending bureaucracy at UMASS though, the administration had never processed my withdrawal and I ended up going back to UMASS with a new haircut, new eyebrows and new lenses. It was almost as if that summer I had decided to get rid of the dorky me with the long hair and the big glasses and start looking more like a sophisticated co-ed (actually, I'm still working on the 'sophisticated', but at least no one mistakes me for being 12 anymore).

Every now and then, I miss that girl, the one who didn't care about her bushy eyebrows, who never felt self-conscious about wearing glasses and whose favorite hairstyle was a single braid down the back. I'm torn between the way people think women should look and the way I feel comfortable. Once, when I was boarding the PVTA bus, I saw the driver hadn't shaved her legs. At an outlet store recently, the cashier hadn't waxed her upper lip. Most people would snicker, but my first thought has always been "You go, girl."

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The stuff of heroes

This is probably the greatest escape story of all time. Set during World War II and against all odd, 76 POWs escaped. How they did it is just amazing. I won't give away the ending to the story here, but it's a riveting read.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A question of 'fairness'

If it wasn't for Michelle Malkin, I would have never known about the new Zogby International poll showing overwhelming support for not removing Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. I couldn't find mention of this poll on any of the Alphabet networks, and when I looked for mentions of it on google news, I could only find the poll in Christian/pro-life publications. Even Zogby himself didn't have the poll on his site; he merely reproduced the article written by LifeNews in its entirety (you can read it here) so it's impossible to know what Zogby's motives and methods for this poll are and whether in truth, the questions are designed to test reaction to the Terri Schiavo case.

Malkin used the LifeNews' reporter's own words in characterizing this as a 'fairer' poll, and this is where I take exception. It's ridiculous to read these questions and not see them as poorly worded, using inflammatory language, and having an unavoidable bias that can only prompt one answer. It reminds me of the time I received a survey from [insert political party of choice here] and one question asked was, "Do you support education initiatives?" Well, yes. Mind you, the question didn't ask specifics, but rather a general overview question; no doubt, [political party of choice] was overwhelmed with the response to that question -- how much do you want to bet nearly everyone said yes?

The problem with questions like that is they lead respondents to a conclusion desired by the researcher herself and are not truly indicative of what the respondent actually feels. Zogby's questions are a perfect example of this. To wit:

If a disabled person is not terminally ill, not in a coma, and not being kept alive on life support, and they have no written directive, should or should they not be denied food and water.

The word 'disabled' is the first red flag in this question, the first answer as to the question of bias. 'Disabled' means many, many things to many different people, covering the range from chronic back pain to persistent vegatative states. It is impossible to answer this question 'no' without considering the wide gauntlet of definition; most sane and caring people are going to disagree with this statement (though, I would argue that the issue in this case was not so much a question of disability but rather who should make decisions for a patients and whether Congress overstepped its bounds; ask those questions and you'll get a very different answer).

Second, while the question isn't necessarily double-barreled, there is no reason to make the reader run through a maze of 'should or should they not'; in my opinion, that's bad question writing, especially when you can start a question with the word "Should..." and continue from there. The respondent is also forced to consider several factors all in the same sentence: not terminally ill, not in a coma, not being kept alive on life support, and have no written directive.

This poses a research problem as we don't know what factor is more important to the respondent than the other, what tipped their viewpoint into the 'no' column, not to mention the confusion the respondent faces in dealing with such a complex question. And indeed, without direct mention of Terri Schiavo within the question, I find it hard-pressed to apply the results of this study to her situation.

Going on to the next question: When there is conflicting evidence on whether or not a patient would want to be on a feeding tube, should elected officials order that a feeding tube be removed or should they order that it remain in place?

I don't know what it is with Zogby and his penchant for asking two questions in one. A good pollster would not do that. In addition, a definition of who 'elected officials' are is missing. Judges, such as the brutally vilified Judge Greer, can be elected. Tom DeLay, God bless his ethically misplaced soul, is an elected officials, as is Bill Frist. Once again, the question relies on the respondent to draw her own conclusions and definitions. 'Conflicting evidence' also assumes parties are conflicted and an independent source has not made an assessment. This question, however, is not quite as preposterous as the previous one, but again, with direct mention of Terri Schiavo, it's not easy to apply the results of this question to her case.

I'm not saying polls are without bias; polls do have a certain amount of bias and in any report, that bias is noted at the end and a margin of error is given to account for that bias. However, without a margin of error figure, what/who the sample population was, or even the original questions or context of the poll, I'm left with only the questions LifeNews has reiterated and from those, the word 'fair' is not the proper adjective to use in describing this particular survey.

Incidentally, Zogby had a new poll out on my favorite congressperson, Tom DeLay, yesterday; you can read it here, but note Zogby gives the sample population figures and demographics. Also note this line: But nearly 69 percent of people in the poll, including substantial majorities of Democrats and Republicans, said they opposed the government's intervention in the long-standing family battle. I'm just waiting for LifeNews' take on that.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Hair be dragons

I neglected to mention that I got my annual hair cut last week. Every year around this time, I do a massive chop of the hair in anticipation of the summer heat. The problem is, it's currently too short for a pony-tail and it refuses, REFUSES, to cooperate with my hair iron. If someone took a scalding hot iron to me, I'd straighten right out, but my hair is stubborn that way. It keeps curling and you'd think it'd at least have the consideration to curl in the same direction, but it doesn't, and the end result is hair that goes in every which way and cannot be tamed by any number of bobby pins, clips or rubber bands. The end result is I wake up looking as if someone had plopped a haystack on top of my head and even ministrations with the comb get it to look something like a deflated and lopsided Afro.

I tell you all this because I just watched "The Bachelor." I don't usually watch that show, but dinner was later than usual (slight disaster with rice and rice cooker -- long story and slightly embarrasing) so when I plopped down, "The Bachelor" was the only thing on (I don't have cable). There's something rather weird about 25 women competing for one guy who thinks nothing of making out with all of them. But that's another quibble for another day. My major beef with the episode was the hair. How do those women have such great hair? Even when given only five minutes to get ready, their hair springs to attention, as if all those blond-highlighted strands are proud graduates of Hair Boot Camp. Good hair and the opportunity to make a fool of yourself on television (I mean, c'mon, who wears a bikini to a first date?) -- it just doesn't seem right somehow.

Random fact: Apparently it was Jane Pauley who popularized the expression 'bad hair day'.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Take me out to the ballgame

So last night I went to see an exhibition game between the Home Team and a Midwestern team. When I told Florida Girl my plans, she laughed hysterically and said, "You're gonna be stuck in the game for five hours and you're never, ever gonna get to leave." I can't wait to call her and tell her how wrong she is. Her reaction reminded me of the time I broke my finger while in grad school. I called my parents up to break the news and my dad's reaction was, "You broke your finger playing basketball? But you don't play basketball." Well, whatever basketball playing I was doing got cut short by the broken finger; now I just mourn my broken dreams of becoming the first sub-6 footer in the WNBA.

That being said, yesterday's game was so cool, mostly for the mere fact I was watching from a suite. The previous year, I'd gone to see the Cubs with Old Ossbay, and while I got a great look at Sammy Sosa's back, I couldn't tell what else was going on. In this game, we were right behind home plate and I could see the entire diamond and all the action. Plus, the waiter in the suite was super nice and answered all of my stupid questions without dumping my Diet Coke refills in my lap. And the cookies! The giant cookies filled with chocolate chips and as big as my head! I'd watch the Home Team lose all over again as long as those cookies are around.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Cooking Shortcuts with Seema, guest starring Florida Girl

FG: So, I discovered a new, easy way to make crepes.

Me: Yeah?

FG: You take Bisquick, use water instead of milk, one egg instead of two, and add sugar. And then you put it in a pan and cook it all up.

Me: It might be easier to go to France and get them.
What's the DeLay?

Okay, so why is Tom DeLay still in power? As the days go by, Tom DeLay is starting to look and sound more and more insane. Now he's throwing a temper tantrum. Could we buy him a one-way ticket back to Texas already?

Friday, April 01, 2005


The 'deathwatch' that has taken over the media is alternately fascinating and ghoulish. Terri Schiavo had barely passed away before attention switched to the failing health of the Pope. For the latter, the news media was falling all over itself today, with CNN declaring around noon that the Pope had passed away, and then retracting. Just as CNN retracted, Yahoo! came out with the same story, and then retracted. Also in failing health -- but without the minute by minute updates -- is Prince Rainier of Monaco.