Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Unlock the Door It Won't Save

Part I.

Part II.

Part III.

Continuing: Part IV.
I've been writing these posts so pressed for time I'm not sure every sentence features tasty verbs. Please forgive me. I don't usually write like I stuck my finger in a socket while sorting my silverware. Let's talk about the most important part of the Snow Day game: winning.

For me: we are in our house, which we leave on foot to shovel the sidewalk or to help someone else since our little town is full of elderly people and mommies with babies, some of whom are my relatives. Our indoor cats are warm, well-fed and play little ocarinas. Our outdoor cats have plenty of food and look okay. Pete obsesses merrily on an indoor project that doesn't involve injuring his back. We have plenty to eat. I am writing something worth reading. With or without electricity or running water, our house is snug and warm. Maybe we take long, luxurious naps. After a spectacular dinner, we cozy up on the couch with glasses of wine and our musical felines, and if the cable's working, we watch TV and our clothes drip dry by the front door. When we go to bed, we wish every day could be like this, and if the storm continues, we might even get a second snow day.

It may sound to you pedestrian and dull. To me, it sounds idyllic. I totally win!

Even if you live somewhere tropical, you can play this game. Are you prepared for a hurricane? A tornado? Another blackout? A flood? A more likely scenario: are you prepared if your town suffers an outbreak of flu and you're advised to stay home for two weeks? Could you do it? I like to think I shop carefully and keep a good pantry, but every week or so I run out of something, so plainly, I too have a lot to learn.

What do you think? Do you like this game?


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Or I Could Be A Millionaire

Part I.

Part II.

Continuing: Part III.
This morning, I shut the kitchen door on my way to the garage, and even before my hand slipped off the knob I knew I'd left my keys in the house, and that my chances of bicycling to work on time had just gone POOF! So I called Pete's cell and left a voicemail because he was in the bathroom, which I knew because I could see the second floor light on. After twenty-five minutes of shouting, "PETE! PETE! PETE!" I heard him grumble, "What?" - like I was nagging from the backyard. He stuck his head out the window. "Ya locked out? I'll be right down." Instead of my usual three small stupid things before breakfast, I did one large stupid thing just afterward. So what's in your car's emergency kit?

Believe it or not, there are websites and experts who can help, but in order for you to win your own version of the Snow Day game, you've got to take into account your locale. Miss Sasha lives in North Dakota. I'd like the state to send everyone shiny-shiny GPS pendants every September 1st, but as long as she prepares sensibly for extreme cold, long miles and a fussy toddler, keeps her cell phone charged and keeps a regular schedule, I'll worry less and that's important, because it's all about me.

Here in Crowded Mild Weather Land, if I drive my car into a ditch, tying up traffic, emergency personnel and tow truck drivers until past your bedtime, someone will violate local ordinances and dial 911 before my wheels stop spinning. Obviously, I should add a cheese platter and sandwiches to my emergency kit. It would really help if I had a reliable car, though: two days every month, one of my tires goes flat. In a new and exciting quirk: the tire won't re-inflate unless the car's jacked up. So how can I win with this much left on the board? AAA, and a willingness to abandon the car and hoof it. Fortunately, I'm seldom more than two miles from home, and I know I can walk that in 35 minutes, even with hip pain.

When that big blackout hit people mention, then laugh nervously about, my friend Audrey was in a meeting in Newark. She got up from the table in the dark, made her way down innumerable flights of stairs and walked in a mini skirt across the city to a ferry terminal, where a full ferry was getting ready to get under way. At the top of her lungs, Audrey shouted, "WHO DO I HAVE TO FUCK TO GET ON THIS BOAT?" A young deckhand said, "That'd be me, ma'am," as he helped her onto the boat, but then didn't say another word. Everyone was spooked. She walked from the opposite ferry terminal to her Prospect Park apartment and stayed there for three days. I mean, the bitch is fierce.

What are you prepared to do to get home? Are you prepared to stay in place, wherever you are?

Part IV.


Monday, September 28, 2009

All Sixes Sevens And Nines

Part I.

Continuing: Part II.
The more you think about it, the more it becomes clear that sometimes in an emergency you're going to be on your own or with one other person. Pete and I have lived where we do nearly our whole lives, so we're not surprised when the river rises over the small bridges or when low roads become fast-moving creeks. It happens now and then that I'm at work when the river comes up. I don't hang around and wait for the inevitable four-hour crush to drive two miles. I stupidly did that once in snow: lesson learned! When the weather map says it's going to snow for a whole day and the clouds deliver I'll be at my house.

You'd be surprised how many people think this is dumb. I bet they're out of milk and bread.

Listen, I try to be ready for predictable things, but I get caught flat-footed all the time. Yesterday, we drove down to Delaware to see Pete's elderly aunt and uncle. We thought we were having lunch, then heading home, but when we got there, no trace of lunch could be found. We'd had breakfast, but that was hours before. By the time dinner was ready, Pete and I were ravenous. I wanted to pick up the bowl of meatballs and pour them into my mouth, and it was really hard to not imagine us making growling sounds when someone else reached for the plate of sausages. We were unprepared for this situation despite the facts that we are hypoglycemic and this has happened with our retired relatives twice before. You know: we could've had a V8, but we didn't. Oops?

What if I can't get to my house, which I love love love and want to be in? The river between my office and my house sometimes floods four out of five nearby river crossings, and getting to that fifth bridge can serve as an IQ test, and this can happen when our skies are clear but North Jersey has had rain for two days or a sudden thaw. Surprise! A flood! But that's not part of our game. What is? Here in Central New Jersey, people get in cars and panic with the fall of the first flakes. If you drive, take cabs or buses, your job is to get off the road before people with their hair standing on end drive their giant SUVs into a ditch, tying up traffic, emergency personnel and tow truck drivers past your bedtime. If you take trains, keep in mind the Long Island Railroad, for instance, goes haywire when the tracks get wet. No, I don't understand that. Yes, I think we should all be able to take trains, but what the hell? Anyhoo: my mother's house is on the other side of the river and about two miles from my office. If I couldn't cross the river I still have places on higher ground I could retreat to. Bonus: mom's house has a wine rack I could find in the dark.

If I couldn't get home, I could still win the Snow Day game by retreating to a backup shelter I know stocks a pantry, a wine rack and warm clothes - but only if Pete is at home with the cats, and they are wearing little sombreros and eating meaty treats.

Part III.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Dome Back With the Bass

I'm not much of a game player, but I have a few favorites. My sister Daria and I compare grocery store register tapes with ferocious game faces and end zone dances; I play bumper cars with traffic on my bicycle twice a day and my crappy memory makes all of life a constant game of Concentration, but my absolute favorite is Snow Day.

Stuff's gonna happen. Weather's going to kick your ass now and then, and depending on where you live, in invigorating ways. Here in the eastern part of Central New Jersey, weather is fairly mild most of the time, but once or twice a normal winter, snow is going to tie up traffic and macramé brainwaves. The game has three parts:

1. Prepare.
2. Get home before I cannot.

When snow is in the forecast, I count on about half the people around me to head to the grocery store to buy bread and milk and the other half to forget they're out. Most people are not good at this game. But look: this is fun. Imagine yourself cozy inside your happy house for - let's say - two days, even three. What would you need? What would you want? What would make these three days awesome?

Cat Food
Cat Litter
Snow Melt (for the sidewalks)
Toilet Paper

Enough Extra For Additional People, Animals
Ability To Travel Locally
Warm Outdoor Clothing
Warm Indoor Clothing
Fun Things To Do, Including Each Other

Adult Beverages
Clean Laundry
Human Treats
Cat Treats
Mariachi Band!

It's a complicated bit of imagining. What if your neighborhood loses power in this fantasy? What if you find yourself stranded with guests? What if you, whoever and whatever you are, have to take care of an injured person? Can you do it?

First Aid Kit
Antibiotic Ointment
Clean Towels

Extra Blankets
Ability To Wash Dishes Manually

Power Generator

I don't have a generator and probably never will, but that'd be great, wouldn't it? Maybe. But then you have to store combustible fuel for it. Here, where power outages are few, far between and brief, keeping a generator is probably not a great idea. Where you live, it may be absolutely necessary. How do you feel about a mariachi band? So let's amend:

Drink Umbrellas
Festive, Warm Costumes

What, you think a party just happens?

Look, I've been broke. I don't mean out of pin money for the weekend, I mean ate once mashed potatoes a day while pregnant, and I have a rule: Every grocery list that includes ramen noodles must include paper drink umbrellas. Life is short! But everyone has a different definition of Need, Want and Awesomeness, and some things you can build into your regular life and count as part of the game. A really good example: batteries. Locate your flashlights at the beginning of October, replace all the batteries and store enough new batteries to replace what you're using in January, should the need arise. Bonus: you can feel very smug when a TV PSA asks if you've thought of it.

Another thing: coffee. I don't know about you, but I am going to be very unhappy in a situation where I'm denied some caffeinated swill. A power outage does not threaten my ability to make coffee, however, since I'm perfectly willing to build a fire in the backyard, boil water and use the french press to make coffee, which I can store in a thermos. Do I sound desperate? Maybe, but a warm drink on a snow day sounds like a basic need. So: charcoal or small logs, newspaper, coffee grounds, french press, clean water, a thermos or large carafe. Or: you could make the coffee before the snow hits and set aside. Fewer conflagrations for you! By the way, do you have a fire extinguisher?

Part II.


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where Do You Dare Me To Draw


Pete stands in the doorway in new boxer shorts and a t-shirt.

Pete: ...I was thinking we could go the grocery store and AutoZone and stop at the farm stand on the way back. You're looking at me funny.
Tata: Am I? I guess I'm a little distracted.
Pete: I'm wearing your underwear, aren't I?


Tata: I'd like to buy a case of this wine so my neighbors shopping at the drug store stop clutching their children when I buy three bottles at a time.
Young Liquor Store Clerk: Here you go. That's $54.75.
Tata: Thanks. My Handsome Prince just ran off to look for gluten-free beer, so I'll just stand here ...and ...look purty.

Then we laughed for different reasons.


Auntie InExcelsisDeo: ...and you, in your sweat pants -
Tata: These aren't sweat pants. They are stunt pants. I'm wearing them over jeans to keep my hip warm, but look - zip, zip, zip and they come right off!
Auntie I.: Don't they all!


Friday, September 25, 2009

It's Been Done Undo It

I want one of these to play with.

Learn more about this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You Stepped Out Of A Stranger

The headline above the article at Huffington Post:
Hollywood Cougars: Who Looks Best With Her Younger Partner? (PHOTOS, POLL)

The headline on the front page slightly different:
Hollywood Cougars: Who Looks Best With Her Younger Man?

That right there is a steaming pile of homophobic shit.

Crossposted at Brilliant@Breakfast.

Running Numbers From the Bar

Photo: National Post.

That's the Sydney Opera House, seen through the dust storm currently blanketing Sydney. I've never seen a dust storm. This picture doesn't make sense to my eye, but so few things do. In my misspent youth, there was a sense that reporters were supposed to report and the story was the story. Last night, Katie Couric interviewed Glenn Beck, which is like the ouroboros biting the back of its head, and, no, that doesn't make sense either.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Let Me Break You

2009 Astronomy Photographer of the Year series

Vincent Miu (Australia): Venus, Jupiter and Moon trails over the Nepean River (Runner-Up, Earth and Space category)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Smoke On the Horizon

Previously on Poor Impulse Control: Dad died in 2007 and left us homework. In 1997, a healthy portion of my shiny-shiny brain was wiped clean and I had to re-learn basics like Who am I? and How many fingers am I holding up? For a decade, learning was both everything I did and too exhausting to contemplate, so when Dad explained nothing and left us professional kitchen equipment, I was not so sure my brain was going to refill up with fancy thoughts. Surprise! Even a terrible functional memory is not preventing my brain from frothing over and thank you very much, do you have a towel?

Yesterday, Pete and I bought a food sealer contraption on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Oh ho, you say, Aquarius with Scorpio-Scorpio, you know better than to purchase appliances while Mercury is retrograde. Isn't your laptop kerflooey? Indeed, that laptop is a paperweight and I do know better but wait: dude, it was on sale, the box had been opened and the contents rifled, one easily replaceable part was missing and I had a coupon, so the contraption that was on sale for $139.99 - 20% for the coupon and 20% for the rifling = $83.99. But it's only a bargain if it works, so we restrained ourselves in the store and the parking lot and on Route 1 and across some back roads and while Pete fixed a plumbing emergency at Trout's house and through the grocery store and most of the way home. I may never have been so rational in my entire life. I don't know how you people do it.

See, the thing is I have this dehydrator. I don't know why Dad had it or what he used it for, but it sat in Pete's basement for two years before I said, Well, maybe I should sorta kinda probably attempt to figure out what that does, and brought it upstairs to try it. I've been drying fruit and herbs and vegetables and it's all been very interesting but about 1/4 of everything I dried turned blue and fuzzy. Blue and fuzzy in a sweater may be grand but in the pantry or the fridge it is alarming. Pete maintains that everything dried should sojourn in the freezer until employed. Well, crap. Potatoes went blue and fuzzy in Ziploc bags, tomatoes went blue and fuzzy in Ball jars. Up from the recesses of ancient memory bubbled some of Dad's advice: You need a vacuum food saver machine. Vacuum food saver machines are bitchin'. It was a very ancient memory.

When we finally got home, I set up the machine and discovered the easily replaceable part was actually inside the machine. I can set up things I've never seen before because I am mechanically inclined and members of my family are allergic to manuals. Most devices are pretty simple anyway as long as you remember they were designed by people who would rather be watching cartoons. So. I set up the machine, stuffed steamed chard into a bag and pressed the button. ZOOSH! The machine sucked the moisture right out of the bag and sealed the bag. It was all very loud, so Pete came in from outside and paraphrased an old Garrett Morris line: "I was driving by when I heard you using that appliance." Then I stuffed steamed beet greens into a bag and ZOOSH! Out went the liquid and the machine sealed the bag. The the Tray Full light went on and the machine would not seal, forcing me to read the manual. I am still recovering from this trauma, but I did figure out how to open the machine and empty the liquid from the tray, which is not very large. Note that beet juice looks great on hardwood floors.

Anyway, Mercury in retrograde is the time when people are supposed to backtrack and fix broken stuff or re-think plans that went awry. I spent the next hour sorting everything I'd dehydrated all summer, stuffing it into quart bags, using the machine, labeling everything and organizing the fridge. I was very pleased with myself and I discovered that apparently I have all the eggplant in Middlesex County, which is very exciting when one considers Pete won't touch eggplant. Guess what I'm eating all winter!

The machine is so loud I'm sure my neighbors were thrilled when I quit. This morning, Pete was still in bed when I took apples and beets out of the dehydrator. I'll deal with those later. In the meantime, it's worth considering what it means when you have gear that requires the purchase of further gear, which has its own accessory gear, and that I've alphabetized my fridge. I am learning a great deal at a crazy speed. Next week: I'm taking a class on cold frame gardening, another plunge for my brain. Hang onto your towel.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Time Today

Laptop kerflooey! Blogging will be limited.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Powers Keep On Lyin'

On Saturday nights, I now go to bed when I used to go out. For their parts, the cats seem pleased with this arrangement.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

At Home They Could Be Anyone

I've let twenty years of Limbaugh's bullshit go by without comment because ignoring that noise is better for one's sanity than engaging, but after yesterday, he should be hounded to the edge of society and shunned by outcasts. Media Matters For America:
...Rush took a caller who said the local police investigating the bus assault said today the attack was not racially motivated. Rush responded to these developments put out by the local law enforcement:
LIMBAUGH: I think the guy's wrong. I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism. I mean, that's the lesson we're being taught here today. Kid shouldn't have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses - it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama's America.

I don't even know what to say. That's so offensive it's hard to form a sentence in response. And yet, it is impossible to let that go by, because - finally, I see this now - ignoring Limbaugh is the same as silence, and silence equals consent.

Last night, Pete and I were talking this over when one of the tenants came home. I was blathering on a bit and the tenant interrupted.

Tenant: I just wonder why Rush would say that.
Tata: It doesn't matter why. It's so offensive there can be no reason for saying it.
Tenant: But I just wonder why he would say that.
Tata: No, there is no why that justifies saying this about those kids on that bus.
Tenant: This is like that thing in - what was it? - Paterson? where the town tried to impose a curfew and the ACLU filed suit but kind of shot themselves in the foot by admitting it was the black people selling all the drugs -
Tata: No, that's not what happened. That's backwards.
Tenant: Yeah, the ACLU got it backwards.
Tata: No, I'm not agreeing with you. I'm disagreeing with you. That is not what happened.
The American Civil Liberties Union has already successfully defeated several juvenile curfews in New Jersey courts, said Ed Barocas, legal director of the state ACLU. Adult curfews are usually associated with the imposition of martial law, which typically is restricted to emergencies, wartime or military occupation, according to the ACLU.

"An adult curfew is unprecedented in our state," Barocas said.

"It's just completely unheard of," said Jon Shane, a professor of policing administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. "Not to mention being generally unconstitutional."

I'm speechless, but not silent. I can't ignore this anymore. Let's start with the truth.
[Mayor Mark]Eckert said the city, police department and school officials will soon hold assemblies and communicate with parents and students in many ways about "character, good behavior and not tolerating bullies."

Plans for these events grew out of the attack itself and Belleville Police Capt. Don Sax's initial comment that the attack was racially motivated. By Tuesday, the department reversed itse;f and said the attack was a case of bullying.

Eckert said students aboard the bus told police that two students were involved in the attack.

"I can tell you preliminarily that the kids interviewed are not calling this a racial incident," Eckert said. "They are calling it an attack by two boys who have been picking on kids, regardless of color, for a long time. They've been bullies."

Eckert said Sax had "made a mistake. He let the media squeeze out an opinion (about the incident) instead of saying we don't have all the facts. He made a mistake, but he's normally a really good guy."

And Sax should be fired. Kids on buses get into fights. Since we put cameras on buses we've taken all the suspense out of figuring out who threw the first punch. Yet, we still haven't learned how to see for ourselves what happened or school authorities would have seen bullies pounding on a smaller kid and Sax would've known what to do. If they had, this would have been all over but the suspensions. But some fool shot off his mouth and released video. It's all bullshit.

But then there's Limbaugh. What can done about him now?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Regardless Of the Balance Life

Crooks & Liars:
Ezra Klein points out Baucus's dilemma:
Max Baucus will release the Chairman's Mark -- the official first draft of his bill -- later today. But things are not going according to plan. He's got a bill full of the compromises meant to attract Republican support, but no Republican support. Not even Olympia Snowe, at this point, has committed to backing the bill.

Meanwhile, the framework has conceded enough to the GOP that it's also losing Democratic support, including that of Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Finance Committee's Health Care Subcommittee. And Rockefeller says that four to six Democrats on the committee feel similarly. Baucus is thus caught between a rock and a hard place. The absence of any Republican support makes it hard for him to justify his compromises. And his compromises make it hard for the Democrats on the committee to support his bill.

I do three stupid things before breakfast, have an attention span shorter than a sugar-shocked toddler and dated enough crazy people to fill a post office wall, but even I know a few things Max Baucus should learn:

1. It's over between Max and the Republicans. When you still want 'em bad and hope they love you and wait up all night, Puddin', even if they show up they're on their way out the door. It's sad and all, but stand up on your own two feet and walk. Walk, baby!
2. Some folks look human but ain't. Look them in the eye and you'll see it. When a man tells the world he's going to vote against your legislation, believe it. He's not bargaining. He's dissing you in a deeply personal way, waiting for you to - again - walk away. Walk it, sugar!
3. We've seen the Republicans' true colors for decades. I hate to quote Miss Oprah quoting Miss Maya Angelou, but it's gotta be: When someone shows you their true colors believe them. Max - girl - your boots were made for walkin'.

Time and again, I watch the Democrats get out-maneuvered and I wonder: did these spineless fuckers not attend high school? Did they not have to stand up to bullies they'd have to face the next day? Did they not have to figure out how to push through crowds of lifeless dolts to get anything done? No?

Perhaps Congressional Democrats need a sophomore year in New Jersey public high schools to toughen them up. You know: because apparently governing has softened their skulls.

The Street And Back Again

What is it, besides beautiful? I don't know.

Video taken at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, by my cousin's uncle-in-law.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The City Tonight We're Finding

Know what's weird about Facebook, a platform for one liners so high anyone can swan dive? No one's funny.
Old Man: [uncomfortable silence at kitchen table] Someone, tell a joke...

I can't figure it out. The joint needs a piano, a player and a diva in a tutu. But not me. I'm all discombobulated. One of my relatives kept her children home from school so their delicate ears wouldn't be assaulted by the President's common sense message: work hard in school. I understand. She was raised by immigrants and she hates immigrants. She rails against Mexicans and goes to Mexico on vacation. She works in the healthcare field, has cancer and a $5000 annual deductible herself. It's simple: she's forgotten who she is and has lost her mind.

There's a joke in there someplace.


Monday, September 14, 2009

I Will Sing What I Say

The bedroom door is painted and hanging in place, brightening the dark end of the second floor hallway. I'll put another coat of brilliant white trim paint on the door where it is to touch up rough spots and to cover others where kamikaze bugs committed suicide in oddly large numbers. All the doors are white now, and though the job is only mostly finished, I don't twitch like Adrian Monk in a pukey pre-school when I open my bedroom door and look out.

Between coats, I worked on emptying four more slide carousels. After the first two dusty and mildewy trays, I learned to work outdoors at a high rate of speed and to keep a handkerchief where I could grab it fast. One day, I hope to be able to show you specific pictures and tell you what I know about them, but I can never really tell you their stories. What I can tell you is that these pictures distill a part of our lives we don't remember well, and show us as people we don't know anymore. Let me give you an example: I had forgotten that Daria, Todd and I started out life as Dad's models, and we were photographed often, doing anything, everything and nothing at all. In ten trays of slides and with at least six more to go, and with thousands of slides in cases, I have seen a dozen pictures of my nine-year-old self in a red plaid poncho posing against a neutral background, and I now recall that sometimes, when we had no plans, Dad set up cameras, lights and screens and took pictures of us over and over again, a little this way, a little that. Dad left the next year, and it was almost twenty years later that I found a Polaroid camera, took pictures of myself and forced myself to look, such was the aversion I had developed to seeing my own face. It was nearly unbearable to see myself again. I still have those pictures. It remains painful to look at them.

It is so literal: when Dad left, he took with him my ability to see myself, and I didn't get it back until I held the camera.

In the last weeks of his life and in the middle of another story, Dad looked at me sideways and said, Sometimes, I made the story more interesting than it really was. I tossed my head and we moved on. I learned the hard way to wait for proof, to wait for him to show me what he really meant when he offered me promises. I learned that he sometimes exaggerated or omitted details, and didn't answer questions he didn't like. It was like growing up with the Little Prince for a father, and watch out for those damn migrating geese.

In 1972, Mom, Dad, Daria, Todd and I drove up to Prince Edward Island for that total eclipse Carly Simon sang about, and Dad photographed the whole thing. Yesterday, I emptied the tray of images comprising the eclipse. Dad showed Daria, Todd, Dara and me these slides with the proviso that we zip our lips. He was weak. His need to show us what happened, why he left us, where he went was great and his time was short. He told us that his pictures were good. Some of the professional photographers didn't get images as good. A magazine we recognized but can't remember bought one of his slides. "Paid for the whole trip," he said. Yesterday, I brushed off the slides in this series and when I turned over one of them his name was printed in handwriting I didn't recognize. Suddenly, the story seemed more plausible.

Today, I emptied a tray of bright, clear pictures of Paris, 1973. My heart ached. This is a message from our father, who left his young children in the spring and never came back. I spent over an hour with these pictures of places I've only seen in books, and later, I felt as if I'd returned to my home from a great distance. I felt as if I'd been dreaming. I looked up from my work at one moment and a woman pushing a baby carriage stopped, walked up the porch steps to ask what I was doing. She spoke with a thick Russian accent about wanting to make her own artwork, which she will when she figures out how to sift every day for a few minutes to herself. Mostly, I just listened to her, because new mommies are very lonely. She introduced herself and left. It was an odd encounter, but working on the porch, I see a lot of those. On Sunday morning, the neighbor Pete and I refer to as Mr. Loud was running around his lawn with his small children. His next door neighbor came outside and they proceeded to have this conversation twenty feet apart, at the tops of their lungs.


Meanwhile, five or six kids were running around, screaming at the tops of their lungs.


And one very patient, loud -


It was like a scene out of Edward Scissorhands. I'd seen the slides of Paris many times, but with so many of the other trays in poor condition the clarity of these images was startling. The Arc de Triomphe rises into a clear, deeply blue sky. The girders of Eiffel Tower cast stark shadows on a brilliantly green garden. And there's Dad, with long black hair and a white print shirt. Who took the picture?

The other day, I remembered that the dark-haired man in the band looked so much like Dad that when we saw the album we asked if that was where he went on business trips. It's a funny notion now, but it made perfect sense to our child-minds. He sent us cards, letters and presents from wherever he went: dolls, candy, wooden shoes. When he showed us the slides before he died, he was angry, impatient and he felt sick. No one was happy, and he wanted us to be quiet. We - even Dara, who was 15 in 2007 and had been to Paris herself - were old enough to enjoy the pictures, but no one did. It was all very tense. While we were looking at the slides from Helsinkii, one image of something mechanical, oddly beautiful and out of place on a street corner came up on the hastily erected screen. Everyone was quiet and puzzled. I said, "That's a Wankel engine." At any other moment in his life, Dad would have pointed at me proudly and announced to whoever was listening that I was indeed his kid. This time he said simply, "Yes, it is."

When I saw this image yesterday, I saw myself.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Piper Blows And the Audience


In 1979, I stood near the uneven bars with my arms outstretched! Thank Christ a yearbook photographer was standing nearby!

In a fit of poor judgment, I joined Facebook. One of my sisters promptly published horrifying, nostalgic photos. I loathe nostalgia. Well, good to know that on one day in my life I had nice knees.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Stream Flows Restless To the Sea

My laptop just burped and took out a post. Huh. Such is my ennui that I can't be mad. As Siobhan often observes: computers are trying to kill us. It is their spiteful, computery nature. I pity you, though, denied my brilliance. I mean, crap.

Tonight in the dehydrator: zucchini and tomatoes from our garden. Our tomatoes, though plentiful, were often hollow or had black spots. The growing season was tough on tomato plants: dry, wet for two months, then dry again. We could have used two more rain barrels, which I guess we'll pick up over the winter somehow. Tomorrow, I'll take down the last three plants. Later this week, Pete and I have a leaf mulcher to play with. I can't wait to dress up like goalies and shred some foliage. If this is as awesome as it seems like it might be I'm putting flame stickers on our gardening gloves.

Tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to warming up the chisels and the heat gun and stripping our bedroom door. Eons ago, someone painted the door using brown sand paint, which is a giant pain in the ass to remove without the heat gun. I could sand until I retire and never get a splinter and chemicals make a big mess without making much progress. So it's the heat gun, the smooth movements, the careful concentration and kicking myself when I forget and burn my hands. But: my rewards are time to think, which I love, and that all doors on the second floor will be matching bright white, which meets my obsessive-compulsive needs. I like to be the most disorderly thing in every room.

Friday, September 11, 2009

And Hide Her Away From the Rest

This eruption is known as the first major explosive eruption of rhyolite magma in nearly a century, since the 1912 eruption of Novarupta.[7] Although there have been rhyolitic eruptions in the southern section of the Southern Volcanic Zone in the past, these are relatively scarce and there is no historic rhyolitic eruption of the magnitude of Chatén.

Dad died 1 April 2007 and gave his children homework. I took home the trays of his slides, carefully wrapped in plastic bags, and in plastic bags, the trays of slides quietly suffered the continuing ravages of time and mildew. I've half-heartedly shopped for a slide scanner, but left my credit cards in my wallet because a good scanner is pricey and I had my doubts about me. Some of these damaged slides should be restored by professionals, which is also going to be expensive. On Tuesday, my laptop fell into a soap opera-grade coma and the next day, I found myself confused by having time on my hands. I don't know what happened. I don't remember having an idea, but I must have. Next thing I knew, I was up in the attic, grabbing the slide sorting light and two trays of slides, and down in the living room, brushing away mildew and decades of dust. The slides now sit in labeled archival pages in three-ring binders in the same order they were in the trays, with nine or ten trays to go.

I forget, sometimes, the only thing in my way is me.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Rip the Sky of Ink And Gold


Miss Sasha: Mom, I'm working off a lot of kid karma.
Tata: What are you talking about, sweetheart?
Miss Sasha: I just spent the last hour scrubbing crayon off the TV.
Tata: Really? Didja use Brillo?
Miss Sasha: I think this makes up for some of the things I did as a kid.
Tata: As little kids go, you were very good, so it was a real surprise when you went totally bad later.
Miss Sasha: What about the time I wrote all over the walls?
Tata: You drew a city out of the letters of your name. That was how I knew you were smart.
Miss Sasha: Gotta go! Panky colored that TV in.


Tata: I am stupendously fat. Hormonal eating is my job! What can I do?
Doctor: So, what medications are you taking daily?
Tata: None.
Doctor: Besides calcium, what medications do you take?
Tata: I can't make me take pills so I eat lots of cheese and make my own yogurt, which is less personal than it sounds -

The doctor has known me a long time. He is trying to give me a way to break through my terrible lies.

Doctor: You were just in physical therapy. What drugs did they give you?
Tata: None. I refused. They looked at me just like you are. I told them exercise is always the answer.
Doctor: Exercise is the answer for - uh - lots of things.
Tata: Right, so about my being fat -
Doctor: Why are you here?
Tata: Because it's been a year since my last hilarious pap smear.
Doctor: Already? How time flies.


The unnamed university's gym dot the landscape, and none is as dotty as the one across the street from the library where I work. At the end of physical therapy, I emailed the gym's gatekeeper-dude about my fervent desire use the elliptical for fifteen minutes every day, but it was summer, the gym was closed and he was all like You wouldn't want me to lose my job, would you? Well, now that you fucking mention it, I'm trying to decide what sport I can become world champion of so I can sidle up to a Sports Illustrated reporter and declare what a douchebag you are. So I waited. Summer passed. Th gym opened. I appeared in the gym and presented myself to the gatekeeper, who ushered me to his student assistant, who was very broad.

Tata: I need a Fitcheck sticker. Whaddo I gotta do?
Justin: Here is the form. Here is a pencil.
Tata: Name, department, phone, relationship to the university... no heart condition... no strokes... not a 55 year old man or - what?
Justin: We just want you to know the - um -
Tata: The risks? Your form has just reminded me that having had a hysterectomy makes me a sexual suspect.
Justin: You have to know how to use - um -
Tata: The equipment properly because I'm more than 20 lbs. above what the insurance indexes say I should be? Exactly. Are the machines free around 11?
Justin: It's first come, first served.
Tata: At 11? Eleven thirty?
Justin: Between 1 and 3.
Tata: You can barely breathe, can you?
Justin: [coughs up a furball.]

Call it a hunch, but I suspect I might be his mom's age, and he'd rather chew off his own foot before answering the question, "Should Mom spend a little more time on the stationary bike?"

Dance And Have Some Fun

Let's pretend we're in our footie pajamas!
A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.”

The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.

“These are horrible choices,” said Walter C. Willett, chairman of the nutrition department of the Harvard School of Public Health.

...from his secret underground fort made of couch cushions. Kapow! Kapow!
Dr. [Eileen] Kennedy, [president of the Smart Choices board and fairy princess] who is not paid for her work on the program, defended the products endorsed by the program, including sweet cereals. She said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.

“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

...from her turret on the Barbie Dream Castle and Unicorn Sanctuary, no backsies!
“Froot Loops is an excellent source of many essential vitamins and minerals and it is also a good source of fiber with only 12 grams of sugar,” said Celeste A. Clark, senior vice president of global nutrition for Kellogg’s, which makes Froot Loops. “You cannot judge the nutritional merits of a food product based on one ingredient.”

Dr. Clark, who is a member of the Smart Choices board, said that the program’s standard for sugar in cereals was consistent with federal dietary guidelines that say that “small amounts of sugar” added to nutrient-dense foods like breakfast cereals can make them taste better. That, in theory, will encourage people to eat more of them, which would increase the nutrients in their diet.

...from her perch on the edge of the top bunk where her head is wedged between the guard spindles, and she is so gonna tell!
Michael R. Taylor, a senior F.D.A. adviser, said the agency was concerned that sugar-laden cereals and high-fat foods would bear a label that tells consumers they were nutritionally superior.

“What we don’t want to do is have front-of-package information that in any way is based on cherry-picking the good and not disclosing adequately the components of a product that may be less good,” Mr. Taylor said.

He said the agency would consider the possibility of creating a standardized nutrition label for the front of packages.

...from his ZOT! ZOT! ZOT! laboratory behind the bookcase, where he knows you've been eating his pet microbes again, loser!
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, was part of a panel that helped devise the Smart Choices nutritional criteria, until he quit last September. He said the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions.

“It was paid for by industry and when industry put down its foot and said this is what we’re doing, that was it, end of story,” he said. Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Clark, who were both on the panel, said industry members had not controlled the results.


Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.

“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.

...from his big two-wheeler in the driveway but not all the way in the street because Daddy said, you jerk!
Nutritionists questioned other foods given the Smart Choices label. The program gives the seal to both regular and light mayonnaise, which could lead consumers to think they are both equally healthy. It also allows frozen meals and packaged sandwiches to have up to 600 milligrams of sodium, a quarter of the recommended daily maximum intake.

“The object of this is to make highly processed foods appear as healthful as unprocessed foods, which they are not,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University.

Mom, why is my Ariel underwear all bunchy?

h/t: Wintle.


Monday, September 07, 2009

You Can't Stay Here With Every Single Hope

It's Sunday dinnertime. Pete's made yet another dinner for the record books. I spent all afternoon in the driveway, stripping ninety years' worth of paint off our tenant's bedroom door, so I've had a lot of time to think about this.
The resignation of Obama administration figure Van Jones, following controversies over a petition he had signed and his comments about Republicans, did not come at the request of the president, the White House senior adviser said Sunday.

"Absolutely not - this was Van Jones' own decision," David Axelrod told NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked if the president had ordered the resignation. The chairman of the House Republican Conference, Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, had called for Jones to resign or be fired.

"I think Van Jones did the right thing," Pence said Sunday about the resignation. "His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration."

Jones has frequently been dubbed a "green-jobs czar" for the administration.

There are a number of ways to understand this story. CNN offers one in the next paragraph. It sounds innocuous, if one is only half-listening:
"The president should suspend any future appointment of so called czars while the administration and the Congress carefully examines the background and qualifications of the more than 30 individuals who've been appointed to these czar positions," said Pence, speaking to reporters. "And the Congress ought to initiate a thorough inquiry into the constitutionality of this practice which has spanned Republican and Democrat administrations."

Well, that might make sense if the president's nominees weren't already being blocked by Republicans on the confirmation committees. To be clear: Pence is calling for the president to stop staffing his administration and CNN skips blithely past that point but lands here, so close to the truth:
One of the most prominent conservative voices condemning Jones in recent days has been FOX TV host Glenn Beck.

Jones is a co-founder of, a group that recently has been pressing advertisers to boycott Beck's program after Beck called Obama a racist.

Color of Change sends me email. I participate in CoC's campaigns because I agree with CoC's positions on media racism generally and Beck's racism in particular. So far: about 50 sponsors have removed their sponsorship from Beck's program but not FOX itself. This has pissed off Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes and Glenn Beck, because - and we should be clear about this - in their view, Black people should be quiet, subservient and politically invisible. CoC's campaign is the racist's fear come true: Black people in numbers and fellow travelers like me wielding economic power. Murdoch, Ailes and Beck are not taking this lying down. They don't care about Jones. It could have been almost any person of color. They picked a target, hounded him and forced him to submit. Still, there are different ways to measure what happened. FOX offers this coy tea leaf reading:
Jones' Resignation May Embolden Administration Critics

I'm not linking to that crap. You can Google it, if you feel so inspired. Jill sums up her take thusly:
The only question is whether Beck is really as utterly batshit crazy as he seems, or if Beck is the second coming of Andy Kaufman and this is all a kind of gonzo performance art that's gone completely out of control. But does it matter at this point, when the Obama White House has shown its complete willingness to dance to the tune of a party that has become now the exclusive province of racists, thugs, religious nutjobs, and other people you wouldn't want to run into on a dark country road?

Why on earth does Barack Obama care about what these people say? Is there something in the water at the White House that makes Democrats shut off their ability for independent thought and turns them into hapless slaves of Republican Mojo Mind Control? What the hell is going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Whatever it is, it's infecting the outside world as well. I was just listening to "Morning Edition" on WNYC and heard Leann Hansen say in regard to health care reform that "There doesn't seem to be a lot of support for a public option". And this is National Public Radio, that old supposedly liberal bastion. Either Leann Hansen has joined the ranks of Laziest So-Called Journalists in America, or the corporations that help subsidize NPR have given their marching orders. Or both.

Jane wants to know why the big-name liberal groups didn't come out in support of Jones, but left him to twist in the wind.
If these groups, if these liberal leaders, let Jones just hang there while Glenn Beck pounds his chest and celebrates the scalp, we have no liberal institutions. What we have are a bunch of neoliberal enablers who have found a nice comfortable place in the DC establishment that they don't want to jeopardize, a place on the new K-Street gravy train that they don't want to lose. Dropping Van Jones from their rolodex is a small price to pay.

If there is going to be a serious progressive movement in this country capable of standing up for health care against an industry that spends $1.4 million a day on lobbying, we can't just look to the members of the Progressive Caucus and say "hey, you, get something done." They need cover. They need to know that they will be supported. And people like Van Jones who have given their lives to causes we say we value like prison reform and environmental advocacy need to know that they will be defended, and not handed over to Glenn Beck as an acceptable casualty in the battle for K-Street dollars.

So to all you liberal organizations in the "veal pen" - this is your moment of truth. I get all your emails. And the next Common Purpose meeting is probably on Tuesday. If you can't get it together to at least put out a statement of support for Van Jones and condemn the White House for using him as a sacrificial lamb to right wing extremists that will devour us all if left unchecked, it's time to add "proudly liberal only when it doesn't matter" to your logo and be done with it.

At Jack & Jiill Politics, Jack laments:
Van Jones was one of the good guys. A really, really good guy. He used his education and his passion to combat police brutality and the massive, wasteful incarceration of so many of this nation’s young, brown people. Having fought in the trenches for so long, he saw an opportunity to build hope and jobs and tangible communities as the world responds to the climate crisis. He connected the dots and inspired action and had a vision. He was the rare outsider who got a chance to move inside, and move he did.

Van was the kind of guy that gave me real confidence in this administration’s seriousness. President Obama meets with generals every day and sees scary reports and wants to get re-elected. I can always make some politics-based allowances for his underwhelming actions. Van, however, was truly one of us. He got it. And to give someone like him power gave me more faith in the president. So when the lynch mob came after Van, it was a test. The same test so many Democratic administrations have failed time and time again. When the going gets tough, do you back your people, or do you fall back on excuses.

This White House, this administration and this president failed Van, failed its supporters and failed to honor the efforts of millions that got them into office in the first place. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it? When will this White House realize that nothing it does will ever be acceptable to the loud-mouthed, ignorant minority? When will it learn that you cannot negotiate with terrorists??

I’m heartbroken over Van’s departure because it’s these little meaningless concessions that undermine people’s faith in the system. You get folks all riled up about change. You empower a man who embodies that change. And they you let him be run out of office by fucking Glenn Beck? So Glenn Beck is running the White House now? Is that how it’s gonna be? Just tell me that I knocked on all those doors for nothing, and I can start the grieving process, but don’t pretend this will solve anything.

I can’t help but look at this spineless response and see it in contrast to the previous administration. You know how gansta they are? DICK CHENEY IS STILL TALKING SMACK!

Somewhere in the course of my reading today, which I should have been able to backtrack and find but couldn't, a Black female writer had written that Jones was punished by Beck for being a Black man breathing too loudly. (If you know who wrote that, please remind me.) I have been wondering since the Obama Campaign distanced itself from Jeremiah Wright if FOX News would be able to push President Obama apart from his supporters, and now the answer is clear.

I had a lot of time to think about this while I used the heat gun and the scraper, the orbital sander, the two coats of primer, two more coats of paint. The administration has made many false steps and mistakes along the way, but this is the one we will regret for decades. Bad laws can be repealed, bad policy will find its way through the courts and suffer reversal, but this is different. From the very beginning, Candidate Obama demonstrated a peculiar refusal to recognize the Republicans were not just trying to beat him. They're planning to kill him. Beck's taking Jones's job and reputation is just the beginning of a political nightmare that will make Clinton's impeachment look like a church picnic, and the worst part of it is that Mr. Obama is going to let Murdoch, Ailes and Beck do it. This weekend, the president could have called out Beck and stood with Jones, but he didn't. No loyal supporter could be without blemish, and no past is pure. No one close to the president is safe, and we will see them destroyed one by one when Democrats do not stand together. For all intents and purposes, the skinny kid with ten bucks in his pocket has stood up in the cafeteria and announced he'll be available for beatings every afternoon on the playground at 3:45.

What bully wouldn't take him up on it?


Saturday, September 05, 2009

If Everybody Had A 12 Gauge

Minstrel Boy said something that reminded me of this clever bit. The best joke is at the very end.


Friday, September 04, 2009

The Money's Gone Nowhere To Go

What's a comic to do when the humor writes itself?
The speech, which will be broadcast live from Wakefield High School in Arlington County, was planned as an inspirational message "entirely about encouraging kids to work hard and stay in school," said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to principals nationwide encouraging them to show it.

But the announcement of the speech prompted a frenzied response from some conservatives, who called it an attempt to indoctrinate students, not motivate them.

Omigod, conservatives now respond to stuff that hasn't happened yet, like they've just come back from the fuuuuuutuuuuuure armed with a pre-buttal.
Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said the speech is an effort to "spread President Obama's socialist ideology" and "justify his positions" on health care, the economy and taxes. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin claimed that "the left has always used kids in public schools as guinea pigs and as junior lobbyists for their social liberal agenda."

I KNOW! I had no idea CBS was writing satire!

Okay okay okay. Breathe, two, three, four. Okay, first: Presidents of the United States sometimes talk to the kids.

How'd that work out for us? Just another day at the office? No history-changing law-breaking by an American administration followed, right?

Okay, maybe Republican presidents shouldn't talk to children.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Faces At the Edge of the Banquet

The other night, we were cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and Pete groaned, "Oh noooo." Two bananas had turned to gooey compost and taken the Cuisinart Bread Machine recipe book with them. There was no salvaging the book. We faced the terrible truth: we were on our own.

Tata: Bread machine recipes?
Siobhan: King Arthur Flour is my go-to. I'm rocking the Ancient Grains Bread.
Tata: Why do you know this stuff?
Siobhan: Magic 8 Ball.

On Fridays, Pete and I take our time wandering around the farmers market - after we make a beeline for the bread guy, where every week we buy a loaf of garlic, spinach and mozzarella bread. It is so good the co-workers I've been dragging to the market also buy loaves they conceal from their mushrooming teenage children. A few weeks ago, I finally developed enough confidence in myself and the bread machine to suggest we make this bread at home, then I had a better idea.

Pete: I'd say we should find a recipe but you're incapable of following one.

That's not a swipe. It's the truth. Tuesday, I took this poor, defenseless recipe and made a sponge by combining the water, bread machine yeast and one cup of whole wheat flour. I covered it and left it huddled and alone in a big bowl under a clean cloth dinner napkin. After twenty-four hours, the yeast had bloomed a little differently than when I'd made sponges before, and the mixture was watery. I substituted molasses for honey, added 1/4 cup wheat bran and most of the other ingredients in roughly the correct order, with the sponge going into the bread machine last. Pete watched the dough come together and wanted to add some water, which we took from the draining spinach. In the meantime, Pete put olive oil and a mess of garlic cloves into a small saucepan to simmer gently. Then he said something terrifying.

Pete: I'm going upstairs to exercise.
Tata: What do I do when the machine beeps?
Pete: It's not going to beep for an hour and a half.
Tata: That's what's supposed to happen. What do I do when the machine beeps?
Pete: I see. The first time it beeps is for add-ins. Are you going to add anything to the dough?
Tata: Garlic.
Pete: I thought we'd put that in with the filling.
Tata: Yes, and in the dough. Cold & flu season is upon us, baby!
Pete: The second time it beeps is when you take the paddle out, but in this case, we're going to turn off the machine and bake in the oven. Got it?
Tata: I almost certainly don't, so go exercise and hurry back.

Pete retreated to the attic, which was very, very far from the kitchen, and almost immediately, the bread machine beeped. I tossed my laptop on the couch and sprinted to the kitchen as cats scattered, then gave chase. I fished garlic cloves out of the oil, mashed them into bits and tossed them into the bread machine. Pete came back down slightly fitter; we giggled like teenagers. When the machine beeped again, I tossed the laptop, cats scattered and gave chase, Pete grabbed the dough and I grated mozzarella. Pete rolled out the dough, laid out spinach, cheese and garlic, then folded the dough so beautifully I sighed. He brushed the top with the garlicky olive oil and sprinkled on kosher salt. Then we tried not to stare at the oven and growl, "COME ON...BAKE!"

We stayed up until 12:30 watching bread cool. We've become bread nerds. This summer, we started out jarring because we spent the last two summers learning how to jar. Then I dug out Dad's dehydrator and gave it a few whirls. This has not been an unmitigated success. An example: every dehydrating instruction ends with store in a cool, dry place. This summer, no place in New Jersey is a cool, dry place, so a whole pint jar of dried apples grew blue beards on their way to the compost heap. After that, we stored baggies of dried fruits and vegetables in the fridge, which was frustrating. One reason we chose to dehydrate was to build a pantry outside of the refrigerator. But, we're learning. The other day, I learned that drying parsley and oregano is a cinch, and some of those skills I learned in the seventies came in handy. Don't ask. Drying chives was much harder, and I'm considering repotting the remaining plants in kitchen-friendly, cat-discouraging pots. That will probably involve some exciting science I haven't worked out yet.

The bread is important. Spinach and cheese in wheat bread with garlic and molasses is actual food, by which I mean it's completely good for me. The other thing to consider is Pete's got thirty years in professional kitchens under his belt but not in breadbaking, whereas I am a complete idiot with or without a recipe book. This is a big step for us. It means that we are ready to take on more real-food breads. Even so, the joke's on me: next week, Pete's going gluten-free.

We will start over.

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Away Away And Be Joyful

This makes me SO HAPPY.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

You Won't Hear Me Leaving

Jim Bell
Executive Producer, The Today Show

Mr. Bell,

Yesterday, many news services reported you'd hired Jenna Bush Hager as an education reporter. This is offensive on a number of levels. Hager has no resume, no experience, no competency and nothing to offer. I'm afraid this hiring does not just betray NBC's political leanings; it also argues against your news organization's basic ability to gather news.

I have been watching your show for decades. Several years ago, I wrote to The Today Show twice to inform you that when Ann Coulter appeared on your show I changed the channel or turned off the TV. Ann Coulter continues to appear on your show. Recently, I wrote to tell you that Jim Cramer's presence also caused me to change the channel or shut off the TV. I should have mentioned, perhaps, that Erin Burnett's every pronouncement made me feel cheap and dirty, but some people like that. You should have disclaimers on the screen each time Cramer and Burnett speak, describing their culpability in the financial crisis, but even honesty is too much to ask. This, hiring Hager, is the last straw for me. NBC has lost all credibility. This is an insult to serious people of all kinds who train, hone a craft and polish their skills.

This morning, I switched the channel, and I won't be back until your organization does some very serious growing up. I won't hold my breath.

Sincerely yours,
Princess Ta

Sent to:

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