Saturday, August 30, 2008


I really have to do something about my hearing. I’ve always thought it was great but lately there have been signs of trouble. For instance, a couple of weeks ago I saw a tv commercial and I could have sworn they said the bagged product was an “incredible nut sack.” I couldn’t believe it. And I shouldn’t have, because shortly thereafter I saw the same product advertised in a magazine and I very clearly read the words “incredible nut snack.” Oops. Thank You Lord for the gift of patience with the world so that I didn’t get too undone with the degradation of society and the media and standards and everything.

And now, I’m innocently listening to NPR, and I hear a caller-in introduced as Anal Stopper. What? Were his parents intentionally abusive? Oops, again. His name is Emil Stopper.

Apparently aging attacks not only one’s physical senses, but it messes with your mind so that you’re hearing things at about 4th grade amusement level. Lettuce, turnip and pea.

Did I tell ya to stay tuned?

Did I tell ya to stay tuned. Geez. I had no idea what I was saying. As my mother often predicted, I am laughing on the other side of my face. Talk about shaking things up. I have so many thoughts about the Sarah Palin nomination for VP that I don't know where to start, and I don't think I can articulate them anyway.

Obviously, she is an attractive candidate. She looks good. Her life looks good. She handles adversity and opposition. She may turn out to be a superstar in an Annie Oakley cum Phyllis Schlafly kind of way. But what a shocker!

We have this huge country, home to 300 million people of all persuasions, ethnicities and situations, and we choose a leader whose experience and education are very narrow at best? It could work if she keeps things simple, which is the only way it WILL work if she ultimately becomes President. Reduce problems to the shortest statement, reduce government to bare bones, entertain no fancy innovation or strategy or goal. Just say "yes" or "no" and that will be that. It could work. It's just not what we were thinking.

There is still some hilarity though. Watching the tv talkers actually have to deal with a different scenario than the ones they have been debating is fun, although I do feel for their discomfort. Well, not ALL of their discomfort. Some discomfort I am enjoying.

I'm gonna have to let this play out a little before I decide what I really think. I had sworn off the Sunday talk shows, but you know I will be on the couch tomorrow for most of the day. Don't call me.

Friday, August 29, 2008

O, the hilarity!

So it’s 8:55 a.m. and I’m thinking “I have to get off this couch and get busy,” and anyway next up on MSNBC is Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter and commentator of whom I am not fond. Among those who waste as much time as I do paying attention to the political scene, she is often remembered as the author of the George H.W. Bush line: “Read my lips: No new taxes.” God, she’s looking old, and we know the makeup people worked on her because the unkind floor director gave us a shot of her in the beauty chair.

Noonan goes into her predictable but not wrong IMO critique of Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night, and then Andrea Mitchell (everyone knows she’s married to Alan Greenspan, right?) disagrees a little. So Noonan backs off a little but then she describes her notion of what the speech was not. She says it was not the usual litany of woes of a person who was not born with a silver spoon (or foot, if we want to recall old convention speeches) in his mouth. Her description is along the lines of “He was born with two heads and one of them was used for bowling......” and then something about a mother whose foot exploded and so on. And I'm thinking, Damn, she’s good when she’s unleashed and not trying to play some role and not simpering and flirting. But both Mika (Brzezinski) and Joe (Scarborough) are by this time face down on the table and laughing uproariously. They, like me, are probably sleep deprived and, worse for them, they are still in Denver, broadcasting from a train station and they started two hours before I even woke up.

It was a great break from the endless speculation about who will be the Republican pick for Vice President. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who's In, Who's Out

Who eats, who starves.

One of the metamessages of the coverage of the Democratic National Convention is the rearranging of the pecking order among politicians and those who make money off them. Of course, the media campaigns about blame and power have raged for months in both parties, but this week a lot has been made of the passing of the torch, the changing of the guard, the transfer of the gavel from Clinton people to Obama people. There are some generational and racial aspects to all of this, but in the main it's just what happens in politics.

Among the visible journalists there have been some handoffs and some fading stars too. Oblivion awaits some, and not a moment too soon in my opinion. I will not miss Tucker Carlson, the rich kid know-it-all magpie who was told, accurately in my opinion, by Jon Stewart that he and other Crossfire-ites were hurting the country. On Fox, new old names, fading names it appears, are Karl Rove, Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson. None of them has a reason to advocate for better governance. As losers in the game of politics, they mostly have reasons to advocate for anything that will put food on their own tables. Rising stars are beautiful young black women, especially those with unpredictable political opinions. The media's idea of diversity and a nod to change.

We should not be confused by the talking points and the ideology. The drama is not about making a better country or about democracy or liberty. As often as “the American people” are referenced in political discourse, they really are an afterthought. They are extras in the drama that is about who decides what. Did we not see that play out in the tragedy of Katrina?

Partisan politics involves picking a side and staying with it and lying your ass off if necessary to make sure your side isn’t blamed or bested in the public square. Participants may start with ideals and scruples, but few maintain them in the rough and tumble of back-scratching and deal-making. That’s why “values politics” so often goes awry. The very idea of trying to adhere to any religious ideal while dealing for the power to promote those ideals is unworkable. The result is some deliberate obfuscation where even negative things are framed in positive terms. The term “pro-life” signifies no reverence for any life except the unborn. There is nothing wrong with that position, but the naming is untruthful and there goes the idealism. Much more accurate would be to call a position that is obviously against abortion while it may be in favor of killing enemies and criminals “anti-abortion”, but that wouldn’t sell.

And it’s all about sell. If nothing is sold, no one eats.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Maybe it's not that bad

I think it was Monday when a bag of DOVE® Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate Promises (with almonds) got into my house. Now it's Wednesday morning, and I'm looking at the Nutrition Facts label on the empty bag. It says that a serving size is 5 pieces and that there are 6 servings per container for a total of 210 calories per serving. Well, I'm already a bit relieved. I thought there were way more than 30 pieces in the bag. Already I'm seeing the benefits of inflation as all good things are coming in smaller and smaller packages. It's not particularly good news that 120 calories of the 210 are fat calories, but then again my post-menopausal experience is that they ALL end up as fat anyway.

So I guess the fact to be faced is that within maybe 36 hours I have consumed an extra 1260 calories, which means about 15 extra miles of walking, ideally not up and down the aisles of a supermarket, where I got into trouble in the first place. "Buy one, get one free" is not always your friend.

But maybe it's not so bad. After all, the chocolate was the dark kind, full of heart healthy nutrients, and it contained almonds, a bonus in the health department. And because every piece was wrapped in lovely foil with an inspirational message on the inside, I have the start of a nostalgic tin-foil ball.

In random order (because I ate them in random order) for anyone who wants guilt-free and pleasure-free inspiration, here are the messages:

*Enjoy every day as though it was a spa day. (two of these)
*Take an extra deep breath whenever you need it. (two of these)
*Share a chocolate moment with a friend.
*Let your mind wander and dream. (four of these)
*Be a dark chocolate diva just for a moment.
*Take a moment just for yourself today. (two of these)
*Start a good habit today.
*Share our similarities, celebrate our differences. (three of these)
*A family that laughs together stays together. (three of these)
*Be good to yourself today.
*Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can. (three of these)
*Love is not getting but giving.
*Believe the best in others.
*Think of something that makes you laugh.
*Find little ways to make part of your day like a day off. (two of these)
*Love is the master key which opens the gates of happiness. (two of these)
*Share your DOVE® Dark with someone you love.
(Really, that was the last one I randomly flattened and typed. I know. It seems like a cheesey product placement ad kind of thing, but maybe it's a message from the Universe.)

Oh dear! I got chocolate on my keyboard.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In Memory of Susan B

The glass ceiling has another tiny ding in it. A week or so ago, my daughter was the only female to drive in a figure-eight schoolbus race at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio. Honestly, I didn't know about the figure-eight part, which of course means collisions, but I wasn't crazy about the whole idea anyway. However, when our "children" reach forty, I think it's time to let them make their own decisions. She wasn't the first one eliminated from the race and lasted a decent (I guess it's decent...what do I know about these things?) two minutes and came home unburned and unbloodied having had more fun than she has had in a while. And oh, yeah, it turns out that she is the first female EVER to have driven in those races, at least if we can trust the memories of those who frequent such events. I doubt she has set a trend though. The whole thing does raise a question in my mind about why there have been so few female race car drivers and why my child's desire to participate in last Saturday's event was so unusual.

Most people know I'm a feminist, and I define feminism as the belief that females experience the world differently than males and that their experiences and views are worth noting, not as "other" but as "equal." Today, August 26, some will celebrate Women's Equality Day. Fine. But there's still a ways to go.

In a local newspaper, "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" was recently reviewed thusly: "I've sat through plenty of chick flicks and I have actually liked some of them. But this movie, my friends, is poorly constructed and beyond any positive comments. It's an estrogen fest, which made it painful for me to watch. Only a female could appreciate this movie. Let's just leave it at that." Please know that I have no opinion about this movie or the original "Pants" movie, but I do find these remarks to be condescending toward chicks, estrogen producers, and females, especially considering the preponderance of testosterone-oriented entertainment that saturates the culture.

It’s a downhill and progressively dirty slide from the place where we find "the little woman" on her pedestal to the dark place where human female parts are used for whatever purpose or gratification is desired. Decried by President Bush, sex tourism in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, is still attracting males from all over the world, including the USA, and still involves children, many of whom come from desperately poor families. Rape as a weapon of intimidation is still common in war. Penises and other objects are currently being used to intimidate, degrade, and violate females of all ages, in the Congolese battle for power and natural resources.

Along the way there are attitudes like the one expressed in the movie review, that somehow women have different (and less worthy) standards than men. The less malign of attitudes and behaviors tend to be found in Western societies, but by no means is the United States of America a leader among Western countries. The USA was later than many countries in allowing women the vote, which of course means that all decisions made before that time, including those that claimed "states rights" did not necessarily represent the views of at least half the population. Eight-eight years after women gained suffrage, we still are outnumbered by men at all levels of government. At the present time, the right of a woman to make medical and ethical decisions about her body is in question.

It is a sad fact that no limitation on women's ability to fully express their gifts and desires could happen without the cooperation of other women. When we derive our power from males, when we judge each other, when we sell each other out, we are part of the problem, not part of the solution that our daughters and sisters are seeking and that the whole world needs.


Susan B. Anthony was born February 15, 1820 in Adams Massachusetts. She was brought up in a Quaker family with long activist traditions. Early in her life she developed a sense of justice and moral zeal.

In 1869, the National Woman Suffrage Association, led by Anthony, was formed to agitate for an amendment to the Constitution. This amendment was presented by Anthony and her successors to forty consecutive sessions of Congress. It repeatedly failed to pass. National attention and support came to the movement when Anthony was arrested and tried for voting in the 1872 Presidential election.

After Anthony's death in 1906, a phrase from her last suffrage speech, "Failure is Impossible," became the motto of young suffragists. Fourteen years later, in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified. Women had won the right to vote.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It was nice

It was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am on vacation!

I am on vacation! It's August, and I am on vacation. Of course, that statement made out loud invites the question "How could anyone tell? You're retired." OK, that's fair. But here's the thing: The United States Congress is on vacation, so there's less coverage of its shenanigans. The View is on vacation, so there are obviously no "hot topics" for me to consider. No sensible people are playing golf, so any guarding of my territory would involve confrontation with a crazy person, which I try to avoid. My job of keeping up with things from my couch is therefore less demanding. Ergo, I am on vacation.

What that means is that I wear bathing suits instead of underwear and read books instead of newsletters, junk mail and anything that really has no appeal. Because I haven't bothered to replace my dead answering machine, I will respond only to urgent family messages left on my cell phone and may or may not answer my land line. I will avoid anything that smacks of "getting things done," including making appointments or dealing with maintenance issues...unless the A/C or fridge breaks down.

I may thumb through magazines, but I won't read diet articles or celebrity nonsense. I have no need to "keep up" this month. I may not even do my daily Sudoku. I will swim and ride my bike, but to heck with the weeding and cleaning. I will eat out. I like the new Panera's, and I may go there every day for lunch, unless I eat at the Beach Club or don't bother to eat at all. My MP3 will provide a nicely portable soundtrack for my vacation. If I need to slow the pace, I may zone out with Turner Movie Channel, which I did last August, when it was added to our cable line-up. Last night they featured Marie Dressler, and I really got into the simple cinema of the 1930's.

I am on vacation.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Curb? What curb?

Can we talk? I have noticed a delicacy in some people's speech that I think really needs to be addressed. You hear a lot of this caution about offensive speech on call-in information-type shows on NPR, particularly if the shows concern animals or gardens. We're not talking Howard Stern here. You get the sense that some people don't want to admit the existence of bodily waste, not only with respect to animals, but definitely with respect to human life. I'm thinking that in some segments of society there's a real reluctance to admit how bodies work, even with the constant reminders we all naturally receive. Maybe this is why prunes are now known as "dried plums."

And yet a significant amount of attention and speculation was given the recent problem with "the facilities" on the Space Shuttle, not to mention the many ads on tv and elsewhere about bathroom emergencies and how to prevent them. There's definitely societal ambivalence around this topic. Some people are very concerned with being judged "not nice" if they speak even appropriate truths, while at the other end of the continuum are those who seize on the possible shock value of anything to do with excrement. And I just suddenly remembered an internal cleansing infomercial that was shown on WTOC the other day. Those men had no compunctions about going all the way there in description and discussion. I was horribly fascinated by their daring until I found the remote.

But the following is mostly for the NPR-info-call-in-type people: It is very, very rare for dogs and cats to "use the rest room". They take care of their needs in places that they choose, and few are instinctively drawn to tile and chrome. Many just relieve themselves out in the open in front of God and everybody. We all know what is being discussed, and in this age of graphic sex tapes and all kinds of out-there description, why can't we just admit that our pets need to urinate or defecate? Or take the "nice" way and say they need to relieve themselves? Curbing one's dog means guiding Rover to the edge of the street so he can do what he's called to do and one can clean up after him and no hallowed grass or tree is threatened. If we are talking about doggy relief, the curbing part doesn't work in a sentence like, "Please don't curb your dog on the beach" for the simple reason that streets and curbs aren't typical beach features. In fact, if you consider that the verb "to curb" by itself is synonymous with "to limit", there is every reason to curb one's dog on the beach.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rumble, rumble, toil and trouble

The neighborhood I live was "settled" in the early 1970's. I think it's going to be really nice if we ever get it finished. Once again I'm feeling the much-too-familiar rumble and vibration of heavy equipment. There is the sound of big stuff happening. I have no idea what is left to re-do, except my house of course and a few others that are too far away to be a disturbance. I am an update hold-out, as are only a few other people farther down the street who have also lived in the neighborhood for a long time. Yesterday, I spoke briefly with one, and I saw my future. She was in her robe at 2:00 p.m., and getting her mail with difficulty and a cane. When I asked her how she was, she said, "I'm ninety, you know."

For over four years, during boom times, my front view was of pickup trucks and dumpsters and, naturally, port-a-pottys. The lot across the street from me, which had always been a buffer in that it was intended to screen a large house on an adjoining lot, now has been developed. Oh, well. Divorce happens. Property is sold. Mcmansions are built (and abandoned as the bubble starts losing air). No one did anything that isn't within their rights. I'm clear on that. But updated codes being what they are, this large and elevated new house and its construction constituted a daily infringement on my right to privacy and peaceable enjoyment. Of course, one house didn't take four-years-plus to build. There was also the renovation, once, of the house next door to me, and before that there was the renovation, twice, of the house next door to that. There were others. And at least two swimming pools were dug. So we had dirt and dust and crashing and vibration. And, oh yes, the sound of AM talk radio against the rhythms of Latino dance music.

During much of this time I have been plotting my own revenge renovation. It started with a much-needed redesign of my "master suite." That design has taken a while, and as I contemplate the possibilities, the scope has grown. My house is one of those older, low-to-the-ground slab sprawlers. Why not go up, I say? Don't I need more storage? Why not a loft in the living room, just for books? In fact, why not use that loft as access to an expanded attic over the bedrooms. So now I'm drawing a new facade, which then takes me to the design of a breezeway to my new two-car-plus garage. The old enclosed carport would make a great poolhouse with a workout room and bath. Who will disagree? Did I mention the outdoor kitchen, where I probably won't cook any more than I do in the indoor one, but while we're making noise and raising dust, let's go for it.

Considering the pace at which I accomplish anything to do with home improvement, unless I can do it myself with simple tools, this is a pretty ambitious revenge plan, but it makes me feel good for a while. So humor me. And I might get it done. I'm quite a ways from ninety.