Monday, December 31, 2007

Be With You Night And Day

Happy New Year, Poor Impulsives!

Look upon these dumpsters and weep with envy! I never know which is garbage day!


Sunday, December 30, 2007

That Will Grow And Bloom In You

This morning, Miss Sasha called from the hospital, where she was most displeased with the cuisine. "Mommy," she opined, "They've got me on a liquid diet. Herbal tea, apple juice, Jell-O. Also: the baby was born at 1:30 by caesarian. I hate my doctor. Grandma and Papa are at a wine tasting and promised to smuggle in wine that wasn't pre-tasted. Call everyone and tell them the news."

"What," I asked, "That Grandma and Papa are on a liquid diet, too?"

"No, that I could use a pizza. DUH!" So I called Trout and Siobhan, who have been Miss Sasha's mad aunties, are fully on board with my plan to raise this new kid with frequent help from Archie McPhee - because who doesn't need itty bitty rubber chickens? - and wield credit cards with abandon. I made a few more phone calls, then made the one that made my day.

Tata: Guess what! Miss Sasha had the baby!
Grandpa: Everyone's good? She's all right?
Tata: Yup! Everyone's very happy!
Grandpa: That's wonderful!
Tata: Hey, Grandpa! I'm a grandma!
Grandpa: You're a - [wild laughter] Hey, Grandma!

I'll drink to that.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

An Ace Card Coming Down On the Rocks


Friday Cat Blogging: Caturday Editiion

These are the pussycats of my neighbors. The little red one is named Finn. I can't remember the name of the giant gray kitty, which is embarrassing. She adores me!

No, really! She loves me to pieces.

For the past week, I've been off work at the unnamed university, where offices are closed. I really needed a break from the confines of the office, where one of my co-workers is deeply depressed and has been for some time. I tried talking to her about depression and how it makes us feel helpless, angry and anti-social. Caught in the feedback loop that is believing something is wrong but nothing can be done about it, she actually argued with me that everything would go on as it had. The best I could do was introduce the topic into conversation, so when I had, I walked away. A minute or two later, the woman who sits next to my depressed co-worker gently put a xerox down on my desk: an article called Adversity Has Been a Familiar Force in My Life. Thus, we trap the depressed in the prison of our denial because their illness calls our health into question.

The family store has been another matter, as Anya and I sometimes rang up purchases and gift-wrapped, as fast as we could for hours on end leading up to Christmas. Since then, the store has been a little more normal. I'm getting ready to go there now. Topaz and Drusy are being very helpful. They're napping in the other room, as opposed to untying my sneakers as fast as I tie them - unless they're not sleeping. Pete suspects they're building a rocketship behind the headboard. I keep saying nobody's that neat, and I'd certainly be vacuuming up little tools.

The pussycats keeeesss!

The large gray cat used to be part of a matched set of large gray cats. They weren't just large. They were LARGE. When you have two cats at a combined weight of about 50 pounds you have a reason to fear for your china. And the china cabinet. Fortunately, they were mild-mannered and never nabbed the car keys. Last winter, the other large gray cat took the dirt nap, and recently, Finn came to live with my neighbors, who dote on him endlessly. They described him as a kitten but if he's a kitten I'll eat my shoes. I'll keep my wager to myself, though: Finn's got it made, and I'm not the kind to let the cat out of the bag.


Friday, December 28, 2007

You See Your Gypsy

The building on the right was designed by I.M. Pei.

Yeah. In town, he could've gotten much better drugs.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sitting In A Nest Of Bad Men

Pete's a far better photographer than I am, so when I took a pile of pictures from the spot above the river I wasn't surprised when I didn't get the city in the frame. Ah well. My city, shrouded in fog, disappears before one's very eyes. The city I loved is gone, anyway, a victim of corporate greed, and my first clue that I should leave was when the artists moved away. I held on, and my city disappeared. For the last few months, it's been on my mind that this was the place Dad was young, and where life once held such promise.

Ah, a person can believe in the soul of a place even as the lies pile up - not in New Brunswick, but in some places, yeah. Yesterday, Pete and I drove around in circles on Route 9 until we found the right Shore road to take us to the Jackson Mills Mall. We wanted a giant food processor as our present to each other. Christmas has been exhausting physically and emotionally; fortunately, the one song guaranteed to make me burst into tears played on the PA system at Le Grand Chef. Note: smart shoppers give you plenty of room to browse when you're a soggy mess.

Years ago, the way I coped with losing Morgan was to act as if he'd died, and now he's engaged to be married to someone I've always liked. It's as if my crystal ball exploded. Pete and I got a really great deal on the 12-cup Kitchenaid.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Let Me Take You There

Pete and I prepared for Italian Christmas Eve for two days, not to mention the shopping and crepe-making that went on weeks ahead of time. It was a long series of firsts for us: Pete's first Christmas with us, our first without Dad and the first time Daria's husband Tyler bought sweaters in his own size in actual colors. I'll explain later. It all worked out fabulously, though at any moment it all might've gone straight to hell - but, you know, with a nice bolognese. If you're wondering: the manicotti was the best of my illustrious career and I'm still shaking my head. Yes, that's what's rattling. Hush!

Pete took dis beeyootiful piksha I thought yous might enjoy.

There's always a story to tell. At the moment, I can't tell it. I will, though.

I will.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Make Your Life So Sweet

Just give me one more day, please.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Your Heart Is Full Of Unwashed Socks


Sunday, December 23, 2007

So Try Another Flavor

Busy! busy! busy! today reworking and revising the menu for Italian Christmas Eve. Tomato sauce for the manicotti is cooling on a back burner. The crepes are thawing. Pete's dashed out for fresh herbs. We have a thousand things to do today, but they're all tasks I've looked forward to for weeks. I enjoy wrapping presents and rolling manicotti and fussing over details of grilled vegetables on a gorgeous platter. Plus, there's time for a much-needed nap. On Friday, when I was too tired to lift my arms, I called out for pizza. When the pizzeria got the order wrong, I nearly burst into tears, a ginormous hint that I was long past exhausted. Other than last winter, I'm not the teary type.

Bonus picture of fog hanging over the river and obscuring the city. I assure you that New Brunswick with its bland skyline sits there beyond the water. I can see parts of it from my living room window, perhaps because they're about a half mile to the left of this section of the Raritan and surrounded by the orange plastic fencing one sees during lengthy construction works. You can't miss the orange.

I've never planned the menu for Italian Christmas dinner before. and it will be our first without Dad. Daria and I are determined to get through it and New Year's Eve with a minimum of drama. My stomach flutters a bit. Outside, snow may be falling.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Is Pointed At Me

A Pleasant Solstice to you.

Today, we begin a new project Pete and I are excited about: 180 Days. One of us will take a digital picture from the same spot at the same angle every day until the next Solstice. We'll publish the pictures on PIC every day (unless I am, say, on a boat in the Caribbean). The view is of the City of New Brunswick from the sidewalk in front of my apartment. Pete took this picture this morning. We discovered last night there's no way to take these pictures at night because the city photographs at night on my camera like a distant Christmas tree fire.

So. The city sits on the other side of the river and through the trees. We will see more of it, then less. The place where we photograph from may change a bit. We shall see what we shall see.

I urge you to pick a place, take your digital camera there and try this experiment yourself.


Friday, December 21, 2007

We'll Dress Just Like Minnie Pearl

In other news:


Daria hates gift-wrapping, so I proposed my handing her a pile of cash and letting her cruise through the stores while I wrap all her presents. She's wavering.

No, really. Help!


Friday Cat Blogging: Teenage Hopes Arrive Edition

Topaz, you may recall, came to me with respiratory issues manifesting in the form of a weepy right eye. The vet promised me the condition bothered me more than it bothered Topaz so I let it go. As the temperature dropped, hatches were battened against the weather and the apartment felt snug, then stuffy. So did Topaz, who seemed to be constantly sneezing. On Wednesday, when I opened my bedroom door in the morning, the apartment felt like an oven and the sound of Topaz's breathing was louder than the TV. I brought home a humidifier and set it up to run constantly. Minstrel advised what I pretty much guessed I should do, then the Chinese medicine consultant at the health food store agreed: eucalyptus drops in the humidifier. This morning, Topaz sneezed a bit but not much and was cranky enough to resist my efforts to wipe away a bit of snot. So: things are looking up. And speaking of looking up -

Topaz sits at Pete's feet all the time and gazes up at him with all the sticky emotion one hopes to avoid in a torrid teenage love affair. Tuesday night, I was working on something and Pete said, "Get the camera." Though Topaz usually sees the camera and takes a powder, this time Topaz sat still and blinked out her message of awkward, gooey love. Mostly, Pete ignores this peculiar source of unguarded affection, which reminds me that in high school he went out with the beautiful, shy blonde girl everyone stared at and sighed. I had forgotten he must have had awkward girls in pigeon-toed droves staring at him like this.

Yesterday was the longest day of my life, I think. I just have to get through today and then I'm off until 3 January; crucial, as I am running on fumes. Wednesday morning, I dragged a case of Joint Juice to my office, plus two packages to be mailed out, lunch and oranges for my co-workers. It was too much for me to carry, really, which I discovered during the quarter-mile trek from my car to the library. The wind was blowing in great gusts. I put up the hood of my coat and threw my messenger bag over my shoulder, which pushed hair in my eyes. I balanced the whole load and set off, pretty much blind. A minute later, I realized I was standing on a 30' sheet of ice in 2" heels, carrying more than I should. I wish I had this on video for you. You would enjoy it. I've recovered nicely!

Somehow, I got across the street before the case of Joint Juice shifted. Instead of plummeting to the ground it flew up in the air. I juggled it - juggled it - juggled it, then BLAM! It slammed to the sidewalk and one side burst open. I burst out laughing. A wide-eyed, almost hysterically earnest young woman appeared out of nowhere and helped me gather up the little cans. Still laughing, I said, "You have to admit: this is pretty funny." She exclaimed, with deep feeling, "I have an exam. THANK YOU." After she disappeared - whoosh! - back into nowhere, I toddled another fifty feet before I heard the shopping bag in my left hand tear. I put the bag down and marched into the library, where a man I know pretended not to be wetting his pants at my misfortune. He took the box of Joint Juice. I went back outside, gathered up disintegrating shopping bag and its contents. Then I went downstairs to tell everyone I was having a bad day with containers and should in no way make coffee. Fortunately, the office was out of bottled water.

Pete looks at Topaz and in his best Jan Brady voice says, "Drusy, Drusy, Drusy!" Pete claims Topaz has a Drusy doll stuck full of pins. As you can see, our long-legged princess doesn't seem to care - not when there's festive tissue paper to steal and destroy! Gift-giving holidays are a boon to the pussycats, who try to help with these chores. Tuesday night, Drusy stole and de-ribboned presents as fast as I wrapped them. I couldn't get mad about it, though. She looked so happy, vanquishing the raffia. I almost didn't have the heart to steal them back.

I have agreed to catsit for the people upstairs again. They bribed me with homemade pralines so good I wanted to slap them for the extra pounds on my butt. So next week: double your pleasure, double the cats.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Stars Were Just Like Little Fish

The Knife, We Share Our Mother's Health

I love this band with my whole black heart.

Who remembers the other reason I would love this?


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Your Haunted Social Scene

From Wintle, our field reporter in the Land of Do-Goodery:
Yesterday was the last day that Amazon could guarantee delivery by Christmas. Therefore today is the first day the procrastinators shop!

Don't want to give clutter to someone who has an uncluttered life? Don't know how to gift to someone who so impresses you that you somehow suspect they wouldn't appreciate a singing fish for their den? Want to kiss your bosses ass, but don't know the slightest thing about what they like? Looking to get with the cute new receptionist with the Suicide Girls tattoo?

Christmas (and their ilk) conjures up dread in the souls of many. There is a cultural imperative to stoke the coals of capitalism by giving things to family, lovers and other people who wield power over our dreams and aspirations. Tribute must be given. A "thoughtful gift" is required. You tried the Barnes & Noble gift cards last year and it didn't go over all that well, really, did it? Something new. Something different. Something that will get you laid.

The web site Changing the Present allows you to pick from a myriad charities (some really fun and unusual ones), nicely organized by category. You donate to the charity through the site. They send 100% the money to the charity (you pay the credit-card fee), plus they can send you (or the recipient) a nice physical card announcing the gift (Since yesterday was the XMas deadline for that, you might want to go with the eCard option). You get a statement for tax purposes. They even have an application for facebook addicts. Pretty cool, huh?

If you want more details you can read them here.

He's always miles ahead. Thanks, Wintle.


Monday, December 17, 2007

A Spot On the Sidewalk In the City


Pete has a cold but we still have scads to do, so yesterday, whenever possible, he held still and stayed warm in front of the TV. I made yogurt for the week, then made crepes for the Italian Christmas Eve manicotti. When I emerged from the kitchen, Pete was watching The Sand Pebbles. At intervals I didn't understand, film guys sitting on film guy chairs would talk about the historical context of the movie, which was the Yangtze River in 1926. Let's just say it was a bad year to be an American imperialist, but an even worse year to defend American imperialism on a Navy gunboat, especially if you weren't an American. This movie is full of torch-wielding angry mobs.

Gritty. A minute or two after the end of this clip, the student-soldiers marched into the square and stood at attention for a while, looking for all the world like boys playing dress up. Our ingenue skipped lightly down the stairs and I said, as Candace Bergen, "Who wants cookies?" Then I went back into the kitchen to make breakfast. When I returned to the living room, where Pete was stationed on the couch, with breakfast on giant plates, one of those angry mobs was chasing Mako down a pier. I got a sick feeling and ducked into the kitchen for my coffee. A minute later, that mob had caught Mako and was in the process of torturing him as his shipmates looked on helplessly from a safe distance when this happened:

Tata: What the fuck is going on here?
Mako: [Screaming]
Chinese Character: Poor Po-Han! Someone should shoot him.
Mako: [Screaming]

No white man would suggest such a thing; thank Christ the Chinese guy is there to think outside the procedural box. Steve McQueen grabs a gun and runs somewhere for a clear shot. Richard Crenna chases him as if to stop him. Steve McQueen takes aim and hesitates. He loves Mako!


Steve McQueen shoots. Mako recoils, obviously dead. I spend the rest of the day trying not to throw up.

Tata: Have you seen this movie before?
Pete: My parents took us to the drive-in and we sat in the back seat.
Tata: How old were you?
Pete: Six or seven.
Tata: Jesus Christ. That same scenario came up in The Cowboys and made me sick for weeks. I'm almost afraid to ask what they were doing to Mako.
Pete: It was the death by a thousand cuts. Can you imagine bleeding to death by a thousand cuts?
Tata: I would never have guessed that from what we saw, and I saw too much. That's going to bother me for a while.
Pete: They cut a lot out. That scene's been bothering me since I was a little kid.


The unnamed university employs a man who does one thing, and one thing only: he removes gum from sidewalks. This is his whole job. Each day, he goes to buildings on campus, of which there are a great many, and scrapes gum off the sidewalk. Though I've worked at the unnamed university nearly all of my lengthy adult life, I had not encountered this man until a couple of months ago, when I was startled to realize the sidewalk leading from the street to the library was generously dappled with gum. Since then, I have stared at this walkway many times. There's gum everywhere I had not noticed. It would not occur to me to stand next to a garbage can and drop gum on the ground. It's an idea I would not have, and though the thought disgusts me, apparently a lot of people can have the same disgusting idea, at least in passing.


There is no excuse for torture, and no excuse for defending it.



Saturday, December 15, 2007

And Countless Screaming Argonauts

Let's play a game. It's called What Happens Next? Here is our game's logo. I stole it fair and square from an image bank because I like the implication that thinking can keep you very busy!

Okay, you be you and I'll be sitting on this glamorous bordello-red couch with patterned swirls while the pussycats make crunchy sounds with vivid green tissue paper but if you don't play with them they might leave you alone long enough to play this game but only if you don't have mackerel in your pockets, which you don't. Our first question: got any gum? No? Okay, moving on, then.

1. Lucky you! Your new neighbors are a married couple named Ricky and Fred. They have two daughters named Lucy and Ethel. In this scenario, your marriage is suddenly:

a. far more exciting, as you and Ricky exchange shibari tips;
b. DOOMED! DOOMED! DOOMED! by teh gay death bomb;
c. irrelevant, but your wife sure is nice. Look! She took over rice crispy treats!

What happens next?

2. You share an office with a gentleman observing Ramadan. After a few weeks, he looks a little worn out. Do you:

a. construct a scale model of the solar system to determine sundown in your zip code;
b. offer him a pork chop and apple sauce, isn't that swell?
c. make lively conversation to pass time. Have you seen the spring schedule at MOMA?

What happens next?

3. The best restaurant in your neighborhood is Oaxacan, and the food is so good you dream about the tamales. You only speak English but the staff, being from Oaxaca, does not. For lunch, you:

a. learn enough Spanish to get delicious tamales;
b. get frustrated and stomp off to McDonald's;
c. Dos burros carne asada, dos tamales con puerco y dos horchatas. To go, por favor!*

What happens next?

Let's look at our scores, shall we? If you chose a. in any situation, you're on the right track. If you chose both a. and c., congratulations! Not only will you have a peaceful neighborhood, see good art and eat great food but you are cosmopolitan and get along well with others. Enjoy the tamales! You've earned them! I'm afraid that if you chose b., you've got a little work to do on polishing your karma. But when you do: tamales! Huh? Huh? Yeah.

*I am not claiming to speak Spanish. That would be douchy of me. You could take back my tamales for such a claim.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Cat Blogging: Dancing Days Edition

It's as if I caught them in a motel room.

Topaz is so ashamed! After I took this picture, Drusy sprawled across Topaz in a most possessive manner and Topaz closed her eyes. I surmise that after I left for work catnapping transpired, though I suspect there may also have occurred noshing, scampering and playing with toys. This is some life. I'm keeping them in the manner to which I'd like to become accustomed, and if it weren't for the fishy canned food I wouldn't nibble on a bet I'd feel truly outsmarted.

Topaz found my arrangement of Dad's cookbooks to her liking and declared this spot the one where she lounges and stares at me. Sometimes, she sits and stares at me. This is less unnerving than when she sits and stares at something I can't see, but more unnerving than when, as now, she appears to be stalking me. As you may guess, I'm pretty big prey. I could be delicious, but we don't know for sure. Either way, I'm wily and uncertain I want to be caught.

In a previous life, I was a Biblical Revisionary artist. Thus, I can possess that image of Nastassia Kinski without apology. You, however, are on your own.

The other day, I turned my house upside down but couldn't find Drusy. It's a simple matter: sometimes I count cats to make certain my furry captives haven't dug their way out. Darla counts ears and divides by two, but I'm just not brilliant at math so I count up one Topaz and one -

- one -

Hey, where's one Drusy?

Then I panic a little. The first time it happened, I panicked a lot for about 45 minutes before calling Siobhan, who assured me the pussycats might like me but they love the free food. Because I hadn't seen a cat curled up inside the catcurledup furniture thing I didn't look there, though that's where Drusy was the whole time. When I found her she looked at me the way dogs look at ceiling fans. Thus, whenever she's invisible you'd think I'd make a beeline for the furniture whatsis. I do not. So the other day when I found her curled up and photogenic I was surprised and pleased: one Drusy. Ahh.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

On Arrival, Fighting For Survival

My brother Todd cannot resist forwarding emails about interesting gadgets, geegaws and contraptions. It's practically genetic. Dad was all about the kitchen whatsises. I have a pile of 'em and it's going to take years to figure out if I can use them as cooking implements or installation art.

Todd forwarded the image of this ladder and I'm hooked on it. It might help you to know I'm so small I'm almost spherical, and I can barely see what's on the first shelf in my cabinets. My kitchen contains an old 4' wooden ladder the cats use to sharpen their claws and I use to find the vital wheat gluten; a dollar store stepstool that - hilariously - collapses randomly and a nesting chair Topaz sits on when I'm cooking so she can stare at me with those huge liquid eyes. In my kitchen, this thing would be both useful thingy and decorative objet. Todd's email did not suggest a manufacturer or distributor of this item, so I can't guess its price. Ah well. I could investigate further - perhaps in the spring, when I can afford to indulge my curiosity about whatever's on the top shelf in my cabinets. Until then, I hope it's incubating nicely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Of Juniper And Lamplight

This week, Pete and I are packaging jams and jellies we made for shipping. I feel nervous for our glassy little darlings as they travel to Arizona, California and Cape Cod, but go they must, to be followed out of the nest by others in a day or two, to California, Utah and New Mexico. We have family in these places. Some recipients will see the significance of what we've done. Some will make toast and wield a spoon with abandon. We cannot say which is which, but one never can, which is half the fun. Merry Joyous SolstiKwanzHanukkaMas to everyone; to all, a Happy New Year.

This morning, I was thinking of wayward and lovely Isadora Duncan. You will note that baby had the temerity to not be born when I wanted him to, which of course sets the tone for a lifetime of scandalous public behavior. Personally, I suspect he'll arrive on the 18th, if only because that would inconvenience me terribly. Rejoice! The banks are packed and the stores mobbed; the madding crowd will render me predictably homicidal. But, you know, it is better to give than to receive and I won't be changing any diapers, so I'll suck it up and sally forth. This kid might pick my nursing home. I should invest, don't you agree?


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Got My Electronic Dream

Some days, I sit down to write with a topic or a conversation in mind. On those days, blogging is utterly effortless. Oh, look at me, I think, I'm a natural! Blogging is my life, and I've revolutionized the way words can be used to describe my wonderfulness. You will be pleased to learn there are other days, when staring at the blank Blogger screen humbles me properly and if that doesn't do the trick there are yoga poses specifically designed tame the rampaging ego. My teacher smiles when she says, "And now, Ta's favorite: the seated forward bend."

We can't really gauge our true size in the world. We can't. We overestimate our importance and understimate our potential; we march like giants and crawl as infants do. What are we and what are we doing? What are the effects of our actions? We cannot tell. This, like brevity, is the soul of lingerie. I mean, what else explains the persistence of boy shorts in the wardrobes of women with womanly hips?

Astrologically, today is a very special day. We don't have to talk about the constellation - oh, tee hee already! - of signs, portents and other crap; suffice it to say, I've told Miss Sasha that today's the day I'd like a grandbaby. It would be convenient for me. I'd like to get started on the project of both spoiling the little guy rotten and dressing him like Joey Ramone. Heaven knows I've been patient, but even my patience has its limits.

Well, it's lunchtime and I've got dinner plans. Let's hope I don't have to make a stern phone call before tea.


Monday, December 10, 2007

We Sweep With Threshing Oar

Last week was a little tough for me and this week threatens to be a little tougher. I'm following the writers' strike with rapt attention; half the time, I literally shake my head in disbelief.
For instance, Peter Chernin is privately telling Hollywood that the producers plan to quit the talks any day now. That they have no intention of coming back with another streaming proposal "until we are close". And that they'll only give a better electronic sell-through formula "at the last minute" when a contract with the writers is virtually signed.

These quiet remarks by the Fox/News Corp No. 2 are the complete opposite of what the AMPTP is telling the WGA around the bargaining table.

This is lying and stealing, plain and simple, which you expect from a corporate executive in Chernin's position. I have no sympathy for him or his shareholders. I have much sympathy for union members trying to make a decent living for themselves and their families, knowing that if their lines break, another union, then another after that will break, too. I hope we all see by now that we have to support each other and refuse to cross picket lines where we find them or what's left of the middle class in America goes straight into the old circular file.

Even so, there's good news. Minstrel Boy's got a new niece to spoil rotten, which prospect made me joyous all weekend. One of my favorite magazines has - improbably - gone online. And when you're sending out packages hither and yon, please give a thought to our care package project:
Black/brown t-shirts and black socks
crystal light packets
individual size beef jerky
energy bars
lip balm
sun screen
foot powder
baby wipes
hand/antibacterial soap
individually wrapped hard candy
phone cards
blank greeting cards/letter writing materials
sunflower seeds
assorted snack items

You can send some items, all these items, a case of any one kind of item. They will be grateful for what you send, regardless. Also: they especially want hand sanitizer and baby wipes.

Not on the list: I have heard that eye drops are also prized. Books are also great.

Donations can be dropped off or mailed to:
Airman & Family Readiness Center
706 Washington Ave
Bldg 10122
Vandenberg AFB, CA 93437

Got any good news you want to share with the class?

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

My Voodoo Working

Johnny reports from the snack front:
I initially came out strongly against energy bars because every one I saw was some variety of chocolate. Chocolate this. Chocolate that. Chocolate the other thing. You broads with your chocolate give me a pain. If men ruled the world, there would be no chocolate. You'd be able to buy raw meat-flavored birthday cake, except birthdays would be outlawed, because you broads are the only ones who care about them. When was the last time you saw a man start to cry on his thirty-ninth birthday because he only had only one more year before he turned forty? You'll see that the day you hear a man ask if these pants make him look fat. That said, carrot cake clif bars are pretty good, and they're a godsend for busy important executives like myself, who can eat one for breakfast while sending out important executive emails like this one.

And speaking of what I eat, I decided not to eat octopus again after I saw this.

I'm almost certainly smarter than chocolate.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

Bishops and Fishops and Rabbis and Popeyes

Sorry to disappoint, Poor Impulsives, but pussycat pics will come somewhat later. Last night, Drusy walked around Pete's shoulders against the back of the couch, then settled across his crossed arms. Pete's more of a giant floppy dog guy than a tiny cat man, so at first he was perplexed and awkward. I said, "Unlike many animals and most people, Drusy is entirely open about loving us with every fiber of her furry being. It's perfectly okay to kiss her back." And that, in a way, is how things should be at my house: one giant, happy canoodlefest, as opposed to this salami party.
The College Republicans at the University of Massachusetts are hosting an event called "All I am Saying is Give War a Chance." It is devoted to the "costs, necessities, consequences, and benefits of war." The speaker is grizzled warrior Jonah Goldberg. Is there anything more outright ludicrous than a bunch of combat-avoiding, prime-fighting-age College Republicans and Jonah Goldberg sitting around in Amherst chatting with each other about the Glories and "benefits of war"?

In what perverse, backward fucking hivemind does this -

- offer an opportunity to this fucking coward -
ON AND ON [Jonah Goldberg ]

Of all the emails Cole has received because of this silly brouhaha this is the one the great scholar sees fit to post:
"I wouldn't rush to pack your bags. But if you actually do get an oppurtunity to verbally castrate this weasel, ask him if he truly meant "In the weeks prior to the war to liberate Afghanistan, a good friend of mine would ask me almost every day, "Why aren't we killing people yet?" And I never had a good answer for him. Because one of the most important and vital things the United States could do after 9/11 was to kill people." '

He looks to be of military age. Ask him why his sorry a** isn't in the kill zone."]

For the record, I did in fact mean it. I wrote it here. As for why my sorry a** isn't in the kill zone, lots of people think this is a searingly pertinent question. No answer I could give - I'm 35 years old, my family couldn't afford the lost income, I have a baby daughter, my a** is, er, sorry, are a few - ever seem to suffice. But this chicken-hawk nonsense is something that's been batted around too many times to get into again here. What I do think is interesting is that out of the thousands upon thousands of emails I've gotten from people in the military over the years, maybe a dozen have ever asked this question. Invariably, it's anti-war leftists who believe that their personally defined notions of hypocrisy trump any argument and any position. Meanwhile, the military guys have been overwhelmingly friendly and very often grateful for the support we offer around here.

- to do this?
Lecture: All I am Saying is Give War a Chance

Sometimes, I hope there is an afterlife - not because I'm anxious to compare polyester tracksuits with the demon next door but because I want to be there when God patiently taps the fingers that created parallel universes and says, "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do."


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Up With Your Rules

This morning, everyone in the tiny cul de sac by the Raritan River believes that I am a hand-painted moron. I suppose I am. I mean, you absolutely haven't lived until you've ducked out for a bottle of wine and locked your keys into your motor vehicle with the engine running right in front of your apartment, and all you can say is, "How is that even possible?" There's also this:

Tata: Are you going to break into my car?
Tow Truck Dude: No.

He reaches into a tool box and grabs a hammer.

Tata: I am not using that on my JerseyChickMobile.
TTD: Well, I don't want to break your windows!
Tata: Then DON'T, crazy man.

To be fair, the Tow Truck Dude would probably say you hadn't lived until you've driven the wrong way around a roundabout to be greeted by an ice-scraper wielding little old lady with a ladder over one shoulder, blurting out hot ones like, "This isn't even the FUNNIEST problem I've had all day," and "If you'd arrived ten minutes later, my legs would've been flailing out that living room window."


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Satellite Faster Than the Speed Of Light

During November and December, I fall into a glamorous torpor we can attribute to the cold and the dark. Last winter was a little different, as the weather was unusually warm and I was out in it, walking everywhere. This winter, I feel as if I'm drifting from job to job and task to task with little ambition and less focus. Frankly, the only reason I didn't call out this morning is that next week, when it's colder and darker, I might feel worse. Then again, at least I'm accounted for.
A British man who reappeared five years after he was thought to have drowned in a canoeing accident has been arrested on suspicion of fraud, police confirmed Wednesday.

Police, who are trying to piece together the movements of John Darwin over the last five years, have made a public appeal for information over his whereabouts.

Darwin, a prison officer and former teacher, was declared dead by a coroner in 2003, 13 months after he went missing.

But on Saturday Darwin walked in to a police station in central London and told officers: "I think I am a missing person", a spokeswoman for Cleveland Police, the local force investigating the case, told CNN.

Few things are more suspicious than CNN's punctuation but one of them is a guy who's not sure he's missing!
According to widespread media reports, Darwin told police that he did not remember where he had been for the last five years.

He was later reunited with his two sons, Mark, 31, and Anthony, 29, who released a joint statement saying the reappearance of their father was "a huge shock."

The statement said their mother, Darwin's wife Anna, who is believed to have moved to Panama last month after selling the couple's home in Seaton Carew, had also been informed of the news and "was delighted to hear it."

That's Wifespeak for "I am SO going to kick his ass for what he did to our kids." Oh, and Darwin's dad's going for the belt!
Darwin's 90-year-old father Ron said the last time he saw his son was just a few days before he went missing, he told his local newspaper, the Hartlepool Mail.

"The people were in to put in a television and he was round for a chat, but the house was full. He said 'tell you what dad, see you later,' and I said 'cheerio' and that was the last time I saw him," the newspaper reported the father as saying.

His father said he was looking forward to seeing his son and giving him "a nice hug and kiss."

I have said that depression and medication wiped clean my memory and dropped at least four years of my life down the rabbit hole, and let me tell you: that story is often greeted with blank looks. This guy is in trou-ble! But back on Planet Claire, where you and I can check our wallets and know where our mail's being delivered, a friend of Poor Impulse Control recommended and volunteered to try it out. You remember Kiva:
Kiva lets you connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on, you can "sponsor a business" and help the world's working poor make great strides towards economic independence. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates from the business you've sponsored. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back.

Our test philanthropist reported over a month ago that his loan had already been repaid. He was startled by the rapid repayment and pleased with the whole experience. I'm sorry I neglected to account for results. You understand. I'm daydreaming of hibernation and dancing pic-a-nic baskets.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You Always Were Two Steps Ahead

Yesterday, I walked out of the unnamed university's library and into the maelstrom. The sky overhead boiled, a raging, filthy gray, while off to the north: tranquil blue. I marveled for a moment at the almost comical angle the light took across the streets and through the trees.

"Things just haven't been the same since someone dropped that house on my sister," I said. Then I drove to the orthodontist. Speaking of driving, my favorite road trip ever puts it in gear every Monday night on the Science Channel, as three brainy characters drive around, checking out green technologies other brainy characters have brainly geared up. Look at this amazing episode guide:
Deep Fried Diesel
Monday, November 19 at 10pm et/pt
Get in the van with Chris, Nobu and Micah as they convert their diesel guzzling bus to run on pure vegetable oil, learn to make bio-diesel and explore cutting edge hybrid vehicle technologies.

Human Power
Monday, November 26 at 10pm et/pt
Nobu, Chris and Micah get the solar tech lowdown from California solar pioneers, install a panel to their bus, build a bike out of bamboo and then head to Oregon test drive the The Human Car.

Sun Power
Monday, December 3 at 10pm et/pt
Chris, Nobu and Micah battle veggie engine trouble on the road to exploring solar concentrators, micro-hydro power generation, state-of-the art lighting alternatives and solar ovens.

Dirt Rules
Sunday, December 16 at 3pm et/pt
Big trek to the Mid-West where Micah, Chris and Nobu install a floating wetland made from recycled bottles, see how to turn food waste into methane gas, learn about urban agriculture, and build a green roof on their green bus.

Last night, Pete and I watched Human Power and Dirt Rules. The floating island thing looked brilliant. I totally want to install some in the Raritan River and claim them in the name of France. Earth worm farming is great, great stuff and I'm utterly inspired by the green roof technology. Plus, our hosts are utterly charming at every turn. They helped me put my finger on what's bothering me about the public discourse regarding energy: the American public is waiting for oil companies and utilities to solve this problem without any public involvement. The public is used to going about its business, and fully intends to do so now.

This is not the ad that makes my skin crawl but it's from the same agency and certainly the same campaign. BP - now "Beyond Petroleum" - and DuPont want you to know they've partnered up to head off an oil-based Apocalypse, and your consumer future is secure. There are so many things wrong with this I'll stick to one little sticky point: the oil companies are the major beneficiaries of the Iraq War. Not us. Not the Iraqis. The oil companies. You can say that by extention we benefit when things go well for the oil companies but that's like saying if your drug dealer's rolling in it your future of shooting up is secure.

The thing Invention Nation gently points out is that the oil companies cannot offer a solution to America's oil problem unless they get out of the oil business. I don't see anyone rushing to do that, do you? Nope. The solutions to our energy problems will come from people and businesses who see the future clearly. The solutions will come from people like you and me, who see that this addiction corrupts and contorts, and we want to be free of it.

Dick Cheney doesn't get the ruby slippers if you don't give them to him. They're yours. You have the power. What will you do?


Saturday, December 01, 2007

And We Lived Beneath the Waves

My work week increased by five theoretical hours last week, which translated to five actual new hours this week. I'm not complaining. Honestly, I can't muster the attention span to formulate a complaint. I languished two invigorating days with a fever, holding up my hand and miscounting my fingers. Sometime soon, I'll add a new family member to my shopping list, and with any luck, one day he and I can shop online for motherboards, machine parts and amorphous goo - all of which will render UPS safety geeks speechless. It's going to take cash. I'm saving up.

On the other hand, I don't know where the last two weeks went. I wake up in the morning behind the chore chart eight ball, and I don't know where I can wedge in time for exercise or housework. My apartment is not spotless. It's actually quite spotty. I do not approve! Worse: I'm having trouble concentrating on writing. A little side project I've been working on languishes. Today, I decided: that's enough of that! What of that project is ready to go should go, and I should quit standing around with my mind blank. That's only funny in the funny pages.

Monday, I go back to the orthodontist after an absence of about six months. At the orthodontist's office, I am a celebrity! I am loved and admired because I am happy and bring treats. I love my straight teeth and make jokes, but teeth do not stay where we put them and my teeth are making more moves than Allied Van Lines. Thus, I am baking oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and walnuts.

Bon appetit!