30 September, 2006

I Think I Just Signed My Own Death Warrant

I just got a call from a lovely woman named Hazel.

She asked me to serve on the church's Publicity Committee.

In 2009.

While I readily agreed, I somehow feel that tempts fate just a bit.

I know that when Man plans, God laughs. Perhaps since this plan is one of service to God He will laugh a bit less. However, if tragedy befalls me prior to 2009, you all know the real reason.

When Blogging Is Stealing

I read a lot of web logs. My favourites are the ones where people take the time to write out their thoughts or tell a short story. Sometimes I enjoy videos. I also enjoy well-researched and informative pieces written by someone who knows their material.

I'm a writer. I have good days and I have bad days. There are posts on here that flowed out of my brain via my fingertips as fast as I could type. There are posts on here that reek to high heaven. But I wrote every blessed one of them myself. Where I did not write something I credit the author with the web-accepted practice of hotlinking. That, after all, is the whole point of a web log.

Here's the problem. I'm also the daughter of an English teacher. My dad built bookshelves in our basement, and my mom kept her teacher's editions of all her middle school and high school literature texts on those shelves--within easy reach of her avid reader daughter.

This poem is called Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening. I first read it in a unit on Robert Frost in one of my mom's literature textbooks when I was seven. Back then I didn't get the death symbolism at all. But I loved the poem and had parts of it memorised off and on. Robert Frost is one of my favourite poets. As lame as that may sound. As unhip as that may sound. So to see his work copied on another blog without attribute and under a different title burns me up.

It's stealing. It is, in effect, telling everyone that the web log author themselves composed the poem.

I know Frost doesn't need me coming to his rescue. But I'm protective of the idea of intellectual property, maybe irrationally so. And in all the definitions I've seen of Fair Use, copying an author's entire work without attribution falls clearly outside the doctrine of Fair Use and well into the realm of sneakthievery.

Update: I realise it doesn't matter to some of the commenters on this thread. But I did check and the poem itself is most definitely still under copyright protection.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

"Everyone" may know that Frost wrote the poem. The law still says that you have to label it, as in the above example.

29 September, 2006

How To Tell People You're Pregnant, Part II

Ever since I wrote the previous post about telling people you're pregnant without them wanting to kill you, I've gotten all kinds of hits. Many people are googling "how to tell pregnant" and coming here. Each day I get at least two visitors, and at least 10 google hits for this.

It would seem that fertility of body does not necessarily equal fertility of imagination. So for those of you looking for fantastic and clever ways of announcing your successful meeting of sperm and egg, I give you the following tips. Some of these are my own, some have been gleaned through many years of spending time on fertility groups. I claim the good ones. The others are someone else's fault. Naturally.

Say It With Food

Fix the unknowing partner a delightful meal of baby back ribs, baby carrots, and baby corn. Set a vase of baby's breath on the table. Wait for him to figure it out. When he doesn't, dissolve into a pile of tears while wondering how you could have allowed such an ignorant fool to impregnate you. Cry some more while pondering what kind of selfish child you're about to bring into the world. When your befuddled mate asks you what's wrong, simply scream "I'm pregnant, you idiot!!!!" through your tears.

Say It With A Romantic Fire

Build a roaring fire in your fireplace, and open a bottle of sparkling cider. Softly lean in toward your partner and lovingly kiss him. As the fire dies, continue to stoke the flames with now-useless brochures for expensive trips you will no longer be able to take. When your mate begins to wonder why you just set fire to your Cozumel plane tickets, dissolve into a pile of tears. How could you have become pregnant by a man who doesn't understand that e-Tickets have largely negated the need for paper ticketing anyway and that thing you burned is easily replacable at no cost to you. When your mate asks what's wrong, simply scream "I'm pregnant, you idiot!!!!" through your tears.

Say It With Jewelry

Take three pregnancy tests. When they all come up Positive, wear one as a pendant and the other two as earrings. Wait for your mate to notice. When he instantly catches on, dissolve into tears at the thought of the fact that he seems a lot less happy than you thought he would. When he asks what's wrong, simply scream "I'm pregnant, you idiot!! And I smell vaguely like my own pee!!!" through your tears.

There you go, folks. Those ideas should get you started.

Southern Festival of Books

It's that time again! The Southern Festival of Books is coming in two weeks.

The list of sessions is now online.

Some interesting sessions include-oh nevermind. There are too many to list individually. Go check it out!

There are still also many volunteer opportunities available.

Feminism: Flirting Your Way To The Top!!!

As a feminist of a certain flavour I'm all for women being integrated into the various corporate paradigms. Which is a fancy way of saying that I think women can hold the same jobs as men. The thing that gets me in trouble (okay, one of the things that gets me in trouble) is that I think women should achieve these positions of power in the way that men do. They should work hard and prove themselves worthy. If they want to buy into the (often very true) theory that more deals are made on the golf course than in the board room, the women should take up golf. And no, Golf doesn't mean "Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden." That would be an urban legend.

I don't think it's feminist to flirt your way to the top. I'm sure we've all seen it happen. The woman who homes in on the men in the room and talks to them from under her eyelids, with a hand on their forearm. I saw this little play enacted not too long ago and it reminded me of how much I despise this tactic of self-advancement. Now of course the first reaction of all you who read this is to think it is because I'm a bitter old crone who couldn't charm a dolly out of Santa, so I'm jealously putting down all the prettier girls who've both got it and flaunt it. Not true. First off, I'm not that bad looking and I have a pretty decent set of headlights, so If I wanted to go down that road I could. Unfortunately I also have a pretty decent set of self-worth and am not so eager to pimp out my feminity. Especially since I've also got a pretty decent set of grey matter.

What bothers me about the whole kiss-up is that it amps up sexuality in the workplace in a way that sends mixed messages. We cringe at the thought of a man telling his female subordinates that they will get a raise or promotion if they have sex with him. So why do we not cringe at the the thought of a female telling a man that he might get to have sex with her if he gives her a raise or promotion? Because that's what's happening. That's what all those signals mean.

Both situationsa are nasty combinations of sex and power. One abuses power for sex, the other abuses sex for power. It's craven.

28 September, 2006

Why Was I Sent This?

I honestly can't figure it out. Why send this to me? If any of you see my husband, ask him.

I would ask him myself but I have to finish this row.

Elitist Snotface Part II: The Great Food Stamp Debate

If I had categories I would just start one called "The Chronicles Of An Elitist Snotface" and be done with it.

Over at her hip new joint, Ivy has a post about food stamps. I was going to comment there, but I'm a week late in doing so, and I have too many comments. Besides, I feel as though I need to defend part of a post I wrote on the 4th of July about the topic.

I said (in part)
the woman in front of me buys four cases of soda, a cake, hot dogs, buns, ice cream, whipped cream, cookies, frozen pizza and twinkies. She pays for this with food stamps. ... The libertarian in me thinks that what she buys is her business. But the taxpayer in me is really ticked off. I think that when we are told that our money is being taken from us by force to feed the hungry, we have a certain level of peace about it because we picture starving children drinking frosty glasses of milk while eating an apple. I personally don't think of cakes, twinkies and Tropicana Fruit Soda as the largesse I would like to provide to the hungry.

Over at Ivy's new place she has this to say:
I also pointed out that it was pretty dang rude to be staring around at what everyone else was buying and their method of payment ... The only change I would like to see with the food stamp program (and this may already exist, I don't know) is to have cooking and nutrition classes strongly recommended, if not required.

So there are two things I want to address from my Elitist Snotface podium. The first is the seemingly-childish issue of looking at what other people have in their carts and why I am nosy enough to do so. Especially when I don't like it when people do it to me. Why do I look at what other people are getting and how they pay for it? Well, for starters, most of the time I'm just staring off into space in the checkout line. Sometimes "space" coincides with the conveyer belt. I shop at one of those stores where you have to unpack your cart to the conveyer in advance of the checkout person. So all your food is splayed out in front of God and everybody just like those pictures of Suri Cruise in Vanity Fair. I don't generally notice other people's food, but when it is really wierd-seeming it does jar me out of my reverie. In this particular example the woman bought a cake from the bakery decorated to look like a giant hamburger. You notice that sort of thing. And then I saw everything else. Jealousy plays into it, because I was there on a limited budget stretching my dollar to get one nice treat for the Fourth. The piles of food this woman had made me envious. When she paid for it with food stamps it made me mad. Still does. And as nosy as it seems to be looking at other people's food, I do so simply because I think it is far more ethical than reading a magazine you don't intend to pay for. This drives me up all four walls when other people do it in line around me. Again, not strictly my business but there you go.

As for teaching nutrition classes to people with food stamps, it sounds like a good idea. But those classes will and do cost more money. The money in the food stamp program is not limitless. Would you rather see more people in need receive food, or fewer people receive both food and an education on its proper consumption? Me personally, I'd rather that more hungry people eat. Which is why I'm firmly in the camp of making food stamps restricted a la WIC. Because being able to by an $18.00 decorated cake with money entrusted to you for your nutrition is not good stewardship. Yes, I know the argument--what if it was her kid's birthday?/Doesn't everyone deserve a treat now and then?--and I counter with this. You can bake a cake for a tenth of that price. You can buy a not-as-fancy cake for half that price. And frankly, I who pay things with money we fight hard to earn, have learned that you can't always get what you want. Treats are nice but they come after necessities. It will always be my belief that Food Stamps should cover necessities. Cakes and candies and fizzy drinks are not necessary no matter how loud PMS screams otherwise.

Belated Happy Birthday

My friend Lydias birthday was yesterday.

Happy birthday to Lydia.

Wherein My Body Betrays Me

When people have food allergies, it's usually kind of a good thing in a roundabout way. It can keep them away from foods that are not the best thing for you. Allergic to nuts? Snickers bars are off the table. Allergic to dairy? Bye-bye Ben & Jerry!

I appear to be developing an allergy to carrots.

Carrots. That ubiquitous diet food, that healthy snack, that "don't reach for the candy, reach for the carrot!" carrot.

Apparently if I were a donkey you were trying to manipulate, your little reward for my good behaviour would kill me. And how would that make you feel, you donkey-slayer?

Twice in the last week and a half, I (as part of an ongoing campaign to reform my public image) have eaten carrots. Both times I've come away with a sore throat, a severely swollen tongue and body aches. So it's either the carrots or someone at church was feeding me cat hair on the sly.

How like me. I'm like one of the misfit kids on the Wonka tour. Little roly-poly four-eyed brunette who gets ejected from the factory because she won't eat her veggies.

I wonder if this means I can't watch Veggie Tales. Is there even a carrot in Veggie Tales?

27 September, 2006

Fat Monica

I may be, with this post, reaching the nadir of lame blogging. Because I'm actually writing about a TV show that has been off the air for years. When it was on the air, I didn't have a blog. So now I'm trying very hard to think of a reason to write about a rerun. I guess since Lindsey wrote about Roseanne the other day I don't feel so bad about a brief discussion of Friends.

I've seen every episode of Friends that ever aired. It was one of those shows that was uniquely timed with my life--much like A Different World. The sextet on Friends was the same age as me, facing the same life choices and circumstances. I related to them on one level and fantasized about their life, about the way TV has of blunting the rough edges of reality. So I like the show, and I don't mean to be too harsh.

But I could honestly do without the "Fat Monica" episodes. Each and every last one of them are horrible. Watching Courtney Cox Arquette prance around in blackface a fat suit makes me cringe. The one-note jokes are bad in their own right. Watch the fat girl dig a semi-crushed candy bar out of her pocket. Watch the fat girl eat in every scene. Laugh at the fact that the fat girl can't find a man to sleep with her.

I can't honestly say if I'm more bothered by the fact that Fat Monica is such a one note character or the fact that I've secretly feared for many years that "Fat Monica" was how all skim people view a fat woman like me. I spent a lot of years not going to parties because I didn't want people to see me eating and jump to the conclusion that eating was all I did. I've largely gotten over that. I eat at parties now (as all those at Ivy's can attest. I no longer care if someone sees me checking out at the supermarket with two pints of ice cream in my cart.

But whenever Fat Monica shows up on TNT or Fox or TBS I get a little bit skinked all over again.

I Was Just Tired Of Looking At Black and Orange

I Am An Elitist Snotface

Is this a good idea? Do we truly want to encourage Bram666, Vampire In Training to vote?

I'm so torn between the philosophical beauty of a democratic republic and the cold hard reality of letting some people have an equal say in the process.

Ultimately I believe that equality is the essence of Americanism, and that the ability to vote responsibly is the greatest exercise of that equality. But the older I get the more I feel like registering people to vote without giving them any further access to information is like handing out drivers' licenses without a road manual. Or being saved at a Billy Graham crusade. (Oh yes. I went there.) You've given people a first step without follow up. (Now is the time for all of you who've been to a BGCrusade to step in and point out that they now do intensive followup with new converts. This would put my mind at ease.)

We can Rock the Vote, we can Get Out the Vote, we can even MySpace the Vote, I guess. But until we educate the voters I am sorely tempted to view these grassroots efforts as nothing more than a compromisation of every educated, pondered and serious vote out there.

I look forward to all of the comments and emails telling me that I'm wrong.

26 September, 2006

That Girl Down The Block Is Cheaper

I have a hard time placing a value on my work. That's the worst part about being a freelancer. I find myself wanting to give away my services as often as I charge for them. Not because I'm so very good-hearted, but because I have a hard time believing that I am worthy of being paid a going rate. Given all the articles out there about "how to ask for a raise" and "making what you're really worth" I suspect I am not alone in this.

After many years I've come to believe that the majority of employers understand this quirk of human nature and eagerly exploit it. Twice I've worked in companies where I started as a temp and continued to earn temp wages while performing management-level duties. It's cheaper for the company who hires you (obviously) and in many cases a temp comes from a different budget than a full-time employee. Part of our current employment culture is to rely heavily on an arsenal of 'temp-to-hire' workers to whom the company is not fully accountable. It's good for American business and shareholders because it decreases costs and increases profit margin. If you're the poor fellow or gal whose been a "temp" for a year and a half, it's less lovely.

This brings me to the latest announcement regarding Michael Rosenblum's VJ Revolution And Dance Party. I think Mr. Rosenblum has some good ideas and sees some possibilities. Yet every time the topic has come up, the pay scale seems to be the hitch. As Terry Heaton comments

His most pressing need now is for an Executive Producer for D.C. ... The pay isn't much, especially for the market sizes where the test is being conducted, but that's seldom the point for a start-up.

I seriously question this rationale. Even the biggest companies realise that they can't bring temps in for the executive level positions. It would seem to me to be more common sense to invest the cash in a seasoned Exec Prod with finely-honed chops, ready to take on the establishment with knowledge gained from within the trenches. I can understand the rationale for paying less than scale for novice product, but the knowledge to be an Executive Producer is not earned without expense and should be compensated.

This is coming to be my main problem with Mr. Rosenblum's Revolution. He talks grandly of his large paydays (and, admittedly, losses) yet he doesn't seem to believe much in trickle-down theory of employment. Yes, we have a video revolution. Will there be large paydays in it for anyone?

Lunchtime Inanity or Patience Finally Pays Off

~ Wanna hang this on your fridge? Come on. You know you do.

~ Would someone please explain to me who John Mayer is? Why did he get 10 minutes of coverage on CSI without being killed?

~ I have been obsessing over a certain house since we moved to Nashville years ago. It always fascinates me whenever we drive by. I've sworn to Hubster on several occasions that I will see inside the house before I die.

Whadda ya know? Lo and Behold! It's for sale. And you can see nearly every room online at this website. Good thing, because I lack the $2.7 million purchase price. And even if I had $2.7million I can think of other things to spend it on. I will, however, spend many lunch hours using these photos to reconstruct this house in The Sims 2

This brings to mind a question. How come when you look at the photos of the most expensive houses it seems like, more often than not, the people who can afford them aren't necessarily gifted decorators?

Who Benefits? Fox or Dean?

Yesterday I talked about my email from Howard Dean, which was basically a solicitation for donations to the DNC. One of the parts of the letter that I didn't mention was this:
The future of our party, and of our country, depends on the ability of Democrats to get a strong national security message out in all 50 states this year. Donate to make it happen and watch President Clinton fight back now:

Surprise surprise. The DNC has turned the Clinton Smackdown into its version of the PBS tote bag. I mentioned to Hubster on the way to the grocery store yesterday afternoon that I thought it was not the best idea the DNC had, what with copies of the video available all over the internet. Then we started talking about something else.

So this morning I see via Sharon Cobb that the video has been pulled from YouTube. Sharon has this to say:
I suspect R. Murdock will ignore fair usage and charge an arm and a leg for use of this footage. He's up to something. I've never seen Fox remove a tape from YouTube.

Is Fox News the sinister one here? Claiming the right to something they own? There are a lot of blogs that have exploited fair use to its limits and beyond, by constantly posting whole texts of interviews and other blog posts. And YouTube clips without further comment. Fox was claiming their property.

And then of course, there's this. The DNC can't charge for content it doesn't own, but the form is set up in such a way as to get the big money donation and then give you a fine-point link to ThinkProgress' hosting of the video.

Sorry, Sharon. To me it looks like the number one party looking to profit from this video is the DNC, NOT Fox News. And even if Fox News did want to profit from it, it's their property and their right.

I Am Sick Of Lance Armstrong.

Cycling used to be one of those sports that only a a few of us cared about. Then came Lance. Never mind that he will never never never be as good a rider as Eddy Merckx.

I realise that cycling's ratings have gone through the roof--well, the cycling-version of a roof--since Lance. But during all the TDF coverage this year, I don't think Phil and Bob and the other guy could go five minutes without reminiscing about Lance. Who has retired. At least poor Axel Merckx has escaped most of the inevitable comparisons to his father. They were too busy comparing Axel to Lance.

Now that Lance let his life get rapidly out of control retired, I was hoping to hear less about him. But no! Now he's running in the New York City Marathon. Why? Get this. To raise awareness of his cancer foundation. My man, please. Have you been anywhere in America and not seen at least 30% of the people wearing those yellow bracelets? You have already achieved what we marketing people call 'saturation of brand awareness'. Livestrong is the Coca-Cola of cancer foundations.

I guess I should be happy that he's made the news for some reason besides his increasingly screwed up love life. But somewhere deep inside me I realise I'm developing an Armstrong allergy. He's becoming cycling's version of Elizabeth Taylor, spiralling out of control while desperately clinging to past accomplishments.

25 September, 2006

Shocking Spousal Revelation

This afternoon I had one of those moments usually reserved for Lifetime Television. One of those moments where Valerie Bertinelli finds her husband's credit card statement complete with three front-and-back pages of porn charges. Or Meredith Baxter-Birney-Baxter finds a locket that proves that her loving husband used to be a woman called Angela.

I have been married to the same wonderful man for more than 15 years. In fact, next month will be the 17th anniversary of our first date. He is the neat and tidy version of our family, the one who still irons. (I myself am partial to Downy Wrinkle Releaser.) Hubby is the person who stays grounded while I do the 'off with the faeries' thing.

So when I uncovered his hidden secret I was floored. It was the last thing I ever expected to hear him say.

It all started with a phone call from the church, asking if we would be willing to help with the babies on occasional Sundays. I was honestly flattered to be asked. I'm actually quite good with babies, insofar as they remind me of particularly fluid-filled yet hairless cats. I joke. I love babies. Although when my sister-in-law saw me interacting with her firstborn, she couldn't keep the surprise from her voice. "Kathy, you're good with babies!"

Yes, I am. And so I said that I would happily mind other people's children four times a year for a very limited amount of time. Watch me be a hero! And Hubby eagerly joined me.

That's when the revelation came.

"I" he tells me somberly "have never in my life changed a diaper."

Wha?!? How can you be thirty-mumble and have never changed a diaper?

"I never had the opportunity." He quickly followed that up with a profuse eagerness to learn. Which I believe. If ever there were a man who would embrace diaper-changing as a part of manhood it is The Hubster.

That's what surprises me. Here's a man who would happily change a diaper yet doesn't know how.

The things you learn in a marriage.

My Email From Howard Dean

Ol' Howard periodically sends me emails. I guess that's because I'm on the Democratic Party's email list. They usually involve Howard's desire for me to give the Democrats money. This I do not do. I'm not crazy. Political ads drive me nuts. If I were to give scratch to either major party it would be somewhat like paying somebody to hit me about the face and neck. Besides, if I were to give money to a major political party, it would probably not be Howard's. Yet I find his emails interesting. Like today's.

The most interesting part?

You know that Democrats have a real plan for destroying Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, fixing the mess in Iraq, and really securing us at home.

They do? Really? Pray tell, Howard, what is it? Because, frankly, I think most of us would like to hear such a plan. These things you mention--destroying al Qaeda, cleaning up Iraq and keeping the homeland secure--are the fondest wish of most of us out here. Or so I've been told by everyone I talk to.

This is why I continue to be frustrated by Two Party Politics. Howard claims to have a plan for Making Everything Okay Again. Will he share his plan with the rest of us? Ha! Like a TV preacher bent on building an amusement park, Howard holds out on us. If only we Send Money Now, Howard promises to use the overflowing coffers of the Democratic Party to defeat the Empire and re-establlish the Jedi Order get the Republicans out of office. Presumably once Howard's team are in office they will then reveal to us their Master Plan For Making Everything Okay Again.

Right. Because solving our problems is a party thing, not a nation thing.

I want real ideas, not the promise of ideas to be revealed later.

I want real solutions, not the rumours of solutions that could be.

So, Do I Haul Hinie To Franklin For My Art?

I am not Van Gogh. That is obvious, since I'm sitting here contemplating the loss of time and gas money. Like that even approaches an ear.

The Writer's Room workshops are once again being held at The Factory in Franklin. Every Thursday for six weeks. $35.00 a session. Part of me desperately wants to go. Being a writer in a room of writers is one of the few times I'm really relaxed.

But hasn't anyone heard that being a writer is not a well-paying gig? In fact, most writers make more money conducting workshops and seminars than from their actual published works. Or so it seems, because I'm forever getting emails and flyers advertising A Fantastic Creative Opportunity For Only $175.00. That seems to be the tacitly agreed-upon amount. It sounds comfortably affordable without making the recipient feel like the workshop is just gonna tell them something they could read on the Internet for free.

Is it ironic that Steven King is basically giving away the same advice? Sure On Writing isn't free, but at eight bucks it's a darn sight more affordable. King, though, is a lot more financially successful with his writings than the majority of workshop hosts.

And yet, I crave writers' workshops for the same reason that some people like to drink in bars. Yes, you can get the beer cheaper at Kroger and drink in front of your TV. But the bar--and the workshop--are social gatherings. You meet people with similar interests. If you can call "beer" an interest. Granted, $175 is a steep cover charge. (It's also the discount cost if I pay for all six weeks of Writer's Room Workshops. I'm telling you, someone out there loves that figure.)

CSI: Can Anyone Explain This To Me?

Imagine my surprise at firing up the Tivo last night, only to catch an infomercial for Cirque du Soliel. Neither mystery seemed to be really compelling--or really solved.

And what was the deal with Grissom and Sara? Help.

24 September, 2006

This Bodes Well

In six and a half hours I will be teaching Sunday School for the first time. I've got a really great lesson worked out.

So the school of thought would be that I should get a good night's sleep and awake refreshed. With that in mind I went to bed at 10:00. Which is like sundown in my world. Unfortunately allergies (mine and my dog's) caused me to be awake by 1:17. I got up, re-read my lesson and then decided to take a bath to unwind.

That was when (and where and how) the centipede bit me on the side of my left boob/breast/knocker/mammary gland/headlight/jug.

Can I just tell you that this sucker HURTS!?!? It feels sorta like a cross between a bee sting and a spider bite. I'm sure it'll be no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But when you're trying so hard to be your best and be bright and cheerful, having a painful welt in that location is not the happiest of coincidences.

The good news is that the centipede is d-e-d. Ded. The bad news is that it has totally killed the "kick back and relax in the tub" vibe I had going. And looking up "centipede bite" on the internet is just not a relaxing thing to do. Apparently there are giant centipedes in the tropical rainforests that kill small children. Since my stinger was about 2 inches long I don't think he fits the "giant" bill. And I myself am a fur piece away from small. Yet....

23 September, 2006

Could We Have Done Any Worse?

Twice now I've stolen blog topics from Hutch. Seriously, maybe you just ought to read his blog. But this one is too good to pass up.

It is time for the biannual event known as Bin Laden Death Rumour Time.
Although it seems with this guy the rumours of his death are repeatedly exaggerated, I wouldn't mind if this time they stuck.

I know that a lot of folks have been frustrated at Bush's lack of concern over finding that murdering sack of scum, and I share their feelings to a degree.

But I've also seen how sometimes God knows better than we do and can be capable of taking care of things without our help.

In this particular case, if this rumour is true, I think once again God has proved Himself.

Because they say that not only is the evil whackjob dead, but that he died of typhoid. As I said at Hutch's, I can think of worse ways to die. But only two. Because while being hanged, drawn and quartered is just the height of cruelty, and dying while being buried alive scares the crap out of my claustrophobic self, typhoid involves such heartwarming symptoms as body aches so bad as to make you think your body is breaking, high fever, delirium and my favourite part--literally crapping yourself to death.

The diarrhea at end-stage typhoid is so bad that in old books I've read the doctors and nurses who treated typhoid patients have described the screams of a dying patient as "the screams of hell." The diarrhea is mostly blood and pus by the end. The intestines are so weakened by the typhus that they will sometimes tear open, spilling poisonous blood, feces and pus into the abdomen, thus causing untold agony.

It's how Shakespeare died. Not that he deserved it. Although I stand by the fact that Romeo and Juliet is a sucktastic play.

But man, if we had caught Bin Laden what would we honestly have done? Given him medical care, three hots and a cot until his trial. And then he'd be in prison, or dead from lethal injection. Which, yes, I know you anti-death penalty folks think the hot shot is a pretty raw deal. But honestly, can you say that it's anywhere near as awful as your entire lower body dissolving into a puddle of pussy diarrhea?

Not that I want to rejoice in another person's pain or anything. But unlike Steve Irwin, I think that perhaps this guy had/has it coming.

22 September, 2006

Kroger: The Grocery Of The Damned or Sir, I Don't Care To See Your Penis

I swear to you, I'm not meaning to steal Hutch's thunder with the Kroger blogging. But I just spent the most frightening and irritating 28 minutes of my week at the Hermitage Kroger, and I just have to tell someone about it.

First off, I think that for every time in my life that some person has looked at my Venus of Willendorf body and asked me "when [I'm] due" I should get one freebie of parking in the expectant mothers' space. Especially when there are three vacant ones. I never have yet done so, but there are times that I think to myself "Heck, I expect to be a mother some day" and wonder if that counts as well.

When all is said and done, discretion is the better part of my valet and I park in a fully-legal spot. Which is where this story gets interesting.

I go in, buy my pepperoni, mushrooms, salad dressing and Milk Duds and then rush out to my car. I need a bathroom and don't want to sully Kroger with my bodily functions. Only problem is there is now a guy beside me. We don't know him but we know him. He's driving a sportish car that he's gunked up with stickers to look more expensive than it actually is. Like we think if he has a sticker for Nos that his hooptie would actually make it in a street drag. Yeah. Uh-huh.

He then makes it halfway out of his space, just enough to be angled right.behind.ME. And then Oppenheimer notices the Sprite can on the top of his geniusmobile. Stop, open door, reach up to get the Sprite. Oh no! Guess what?!?! He knocks the can off the top of the car. (Keep in mind that while this comedy of error is going on, I have GOT.TO.GO.POTTY) Obviously this seventy-five cent can of soda has a Wonka Golden Ticket inside, because Oppenheimer decides to get out of his car, leaving the door hainging open, so that he can retreive it.

Only problem is that he's made himself extremely comfortable by unfastening his pants. He and I have a similar problem I guess. He meanders in his unfastened pants across the parking lot in search of his holy grail can of shook-up Sprite. Guess what happens when he finds it?
A) He stands behind my car to wipe all the asphalt and gunk off it.
B) He opens it.
C) It sprays all over him.

(The spraying part did not lessen my bathroom need.)

So at this point I feel much like Alan Shepard on his maiden Mercury shot. Just as I was contemplating the Shepard Solution to my personal problem, my friend the soda sommalier decided to actually finish backing out of the parking lot so I could go home.

I swear I hate Kroger.

L'Shana Tova

At Sundown this evening, Rosh Hashanah begins. As it is Shabbos there will be no shofar blown, but it will still be the start of the new year.

I always prefer the Jewish New Year to the Gregorian one. Our January 1 date seems arbritrary, falling in the dead of winter, just as all the festivals have ended. It's the most anti-climactic holiday imaginable.

Rosh Hashanah, on the other hand, celebrates the New Year as starting shortly after the time of harvest. What better way to celebrate hope and promise than when surrounded by the fruits of your labour in the field? Our culture, several generations seperated from agrarian lifestyle, has lost most of the concept of harvest--of a time of bounty. I don't think it's an accident that most ancient religions revered this time of year as sacred. I chuckle to myself when I read things about people liking September as the start of something, almost always linking it back to their memories of starting school. There's a degree of that, but there's also the memory of our genes, with thousands of years of celebrating new beginnings at harvest. Whether you are descended from the Jews of Israel or the Druids of the British Isles you come from a people who rever the fruits of the land as a sign of something greater.

Falling hard on the heels of Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. After that is Sukkot. Together these fall feasts represent newness, the cleansing of sin, and the bounty of the Lord. It's a great object lesson for Jews and their Christian cousins alike. The Lord consecrates these three days as reminders of redemption and plenty. As each of the three fall feasts occurs, I'll be writing more in depth about them.

But for today, beginning at Sundown, revel in the concept of a new year. Eat apples and bread dipped in honey as a symbol of the sweetness of the days to come.

21 September, 2006

You Sound Like A Gay Kermit The Frog

Now that's what I'm talkin' about.
Between My Name Is Earl; The Office and Grey's Anatomy, I feel totally entertained by highly excellent television.

The funniest thing about The Office was the riff about being able to purchase Gaydar at Sharper Image. Because a few years back such a device was actually marketed to the gay community. Hey, I thought it was funny then. It's still just as funny.

Sista, I hope you are still good and hooked on Grey's because it's back. I've even forgiven them the fugliness of the Prom episode.

More TVs Than People

A new study shows that the average home has more TVs than people. (No, Jason, they don't mean you.)

Speaking as a person who lives in a two-person house with 3 televisions allow me to just point out one thing, tangentially related to my earlier post.

A TV costs anywhere from $50 (used) to $100,000. Or whatever outlandish cost my dream projection full-wall thing is these days. Even the schmansiest vidtube on the market is a bargain when compared to cost of raising a child.

No, my basement TV doesn't replace the love of Eustace and Sissy. But it keeps me happily married and away from having to watch Dirty Jobs. So what if we have more TVs than people? TVs don't sass back--unless you watch The View--and they don't have to have braces, either.

How To Tell People That You Are Pregnant Without Making Them Want To Kill You

Today is going to be a day of helpful instruction from your humble host.

First off, there are more people struggling with infertility than you may think. That couple who seems happily childfree may have wanted children for years. That couple who already has two or three children may desperately want more. There are just a whole heck of a lot of people out in the world who want babies but for some reason or another cannot have them right now.

If they're anything like me they struggle between disappointment and acceptence.

But honestly, in the years that I've dealt with the disappointment I've had a realisation. That realisation is that people all around me will still get pregnant, and they don't have to apologise to me about it. Really. I love it when other people get pregnant, as long as they're not my underaged nieces. I would much rather see anyone I know happily have a child than deal with the pain of not being able to.

I know, though, that those around me always wonder how to tell me. And I'm fairly sure that for every person who gets pregnant there is at least one fertility challenged sister/best friend/coworker who casts a shadow over the good news of the newly-expecting. So allow me to enlighten you.

1. Just tell them. "Hey, we're pregnant."

You'd be surprised at how well this works. 90% of the time folks like me see this coming anyway. And we like to be treated as though we are still members of polite society.

2. Don't make any references to the ease of conception

See, this is the tricky part. While "Hey, we're pregnant" works just fine, following it up with "....and it only took ONE TRY" or "I guess our plumbing's working!" is what most people would consider tacky. Especially when your audience includes people who have had a try every other day for years and/or whose plumbing is most definitely NOT working.

3. Don't follow up your annoucement with an inquiry into the fertility of your audience.

People will be happy for your pregnancy. But that in no way obligates them to answer rude questions like "So when are you guys joining the club?" I know the temptation for announcing pregnancy to infertile friends is to then politely enquire about how their process is going. But I am being honest when I say that for many people in my boat the one thing that keeps us able to be happy for you is by keeping the focus ON you. I can be happy for your pregnancy, but when you follow that up immediately with reminding me that I have a tender spot it might make me cry. And that would ruin your announcement for both of us.

No, we don't expect the rest of the world to keep it sewn up. Really.

A Few Random Thoughts

.....Blogger says there is a scheduled outage at 4PM. It then asks me to click to "learn more". What more is there to learn? The service will be out. At 4:00 pm.

....Is it just me or is it ironic that Wilford Brimley spent years advertising oatmeal and now is advertising diabetes supplies? The connection between a high-carb breakfast and insulin dependancy is not lost on me.

....Is Jericho the same show that we watched last year, when it was called Invasion?

....Note to Fox Broadcasting: After you cancelled Reunion abruptly and with no resolution, what makes you think I'm gonna watch Vanished?

....All the critics who have called House the best thing on TV apparently didn't receive their screener DVDs for The Wire.

....If I ever am in charge of a print magazine, please have me executed if I decide to put those silly cardboard pieces in between the pages.

....Man, Wilford Brimley sure is hanging in there for a good long spell. And he looks the same as he did in The Natural. Was he born an old man?

20 September, 2006

Mumble Mumble *smack* Mumble

I tell ya *mumble* *mumble* ladies *mumble* got me *mumble* goods lay you out *mumble* good *mumble* all y'all.


Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank Bobby for stopping by my blog today. He's joining me to wish Ivy a happy birthday.

If It's Funny, Is it Okay?

The plus side of having a TiVo is that you can watch a show at a more leisurly pace. Which is why I didn't watch Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip until last night.

First crack out of the box, I loved it. Yes, Aaron Sorkin is a brand. He's sort of like Ovaltine. You either really like him or you can't stand him. I happen to really like him.

One of the things I like about him is that he dares to show something different than a stereotype in his writing. He's very good at seeing both sides of the issue, and even when he comes down on the side opposite mine--which happened several times on The West Wing--I appreciate him for the gentlemanly way he handles things. Most of the time.

One of the leads on this new show is a comedienne on the late night variety show who is also a devout Christian. (I think she may be a take-off on the Christian girl from SNL whose name is either Victoria or Veronica and whom I don't care to look up right now.)

Spoiler Alert For TiVo Owners Who Haven't Seen The Show

In the pilot we find out that Harriet--the Christian--broke up with Matthew Perry's character because of an ongoing fight they had about her singing on The 700 Club. "You sang for a bigot!" he shouts angrily. "I sang for his audience" is her rejoinder. It's clearly a fight that has no end. But the part that made me take notice was a few moments later when she tells him that she supported a controversial sketch on their variety show called "Crazy Christians". Matthew Perry's response is this:

"The 700 Club is not a comedy show."

Which leads me to formally pose the question that has been in the back of my mind for some time now. Does calling something "comedy" make it okay? Granted, we didn't see the "Crazy Christians" sketch, presumably because we had to sit through Three 6 Mafia instead. But from the title alone it sounds as though the CC sketch may have been just as bigoted as Pat Robertson on his worst days. So is it okay if it's funny? Minstrel shows were often funny. Amos & Andy was often very funny. But were they okay? I'd endeavour to say "no". Broad stereotypes exploited for laughs now seem more than a bit crass.

I have to admit that as a more conservative person we don't use humour in the same way as the left. The left uses smarmy humour (see John Stewart) and the right uses bombast (see Rush Limbaugh.) Yet repeatedly the defence on the part of the left is "we're a comedy program", followed by a bit of eye-rolling at anyone who takes it all too seriously. I guess I don't see much difference between the two. Both Limbaugh and Stewart use oratorical skills in lieu of reasoned argument (bombast v. humour) to make a point. Yet one is supposed to be okay because we can laugh at it.

I've said before that the whole comedy thing reminds me of a cruel girl who was a year behind me in high school. Stephanie would say the meanest things to people and follow it immediately with "Just Kidding!" I think of Jon Stewart et . al. in the same way. Not all their stuff is mean, of course, but they often use humour as the sugar coating to make their barbs slide down. Maybe I've gotten too old, but I really don't think "funny" excuses everything.

19 September, 2006

Tip #1: Try To Sell Them On A Happy Ending

I had the pleasure of meeting Kay Brooks at the last WKRN Blogger Meet-up. I enjoyed her company, so I'm loathe to point something out that may appear critical of her position. But I have to, because it makes me laugh.

She is a proponant of the English-Official proposals in front of Metro.

And she has this to say about it:

One of the very foundational things that unites any country is language. The ability of language to unify a people goes all the way back to the Tower of Babel.

I would just like to point out that if you are trying to convince someone that your idea is a good one, it's probably not a good idea to highlight something that ended in cataclysmic destruction as your key example.

Stupid Stuff About Stupid Stuff at 3:30am

I know I've been railing a lot on "The Media" (that's like saying "they") for having non-stories. But you have to admit that when you open your browser at 3:15 am and the top story--not entertainment news, top story in ALL news--is that Scarlett Johanssen is proud of her curvy figure that we've reached a level of absurdity that will just crack you up.

In other non-news news, I have a problem. We stopped watching 24 after Season Three. Somehow I have to break it to my husband that I will need to watch this upcoming season. There are certain people I will watch in anything because I'm such a big fan of their work. I sat through both Mystery Men and Ocean's Twelve to see Eddie Izzard. Now that he's a new villain on this season of 24 I feel duty-bound to watch. The good news is that James "I'm Ridiculously Tall But Still Annoying" Cromwell will be playing Jack Bauer's long-lost papa. (Didn't they make a Raiders Of The Lost Ark about this already? ) Maybe my loyal viewership will be repaid by watching Cromwell suffer an agonising death. Or at least a torture scene. I liked him as an actor for about 93 minutes--the amount of time it took him to play Farmer Hoggett in Babe. But everything else I've seen him in I've wanted to smack him. What was that will o' the wisp accent he did in L.A. Confidential? Dude, are you Irish or not? And then he was a total idiot in Star Trek: First Contact. Honestly, his performance in that made me embarrassed for the Star Trek franchise. Right up there with Quark and Whoopi Goldberg.

Of course, I can't be the only person wondering why the 24 team didn't get Donald Sutherland to play Jack's Dad.

18 September, 2006

Sunday School Blues

Tim and I are teaching Sunday School for the first time this Sunday. Our class, which once held 10 couples, now has 3.

The size isn't a problem for me necessarily, as I'm a firm believer in the "where two or three are gathered" form of Bible Study.

I just wonder what has turned so many people off of Sunday School.

I understand being put off from the worship service for one reason or another--either the music or the preaching is not to one's liking.

But I'm still trying to figure out what it is that turns people off of the traditional Bible study in a Sunday school setting. And I'm looking for ideas about making adult Bible Study more vibrant and applicable to the participants.

This post probably looks like one of those dreaded "trolling for comments" things. It really isn't. I know I have a lot of you who read and have opinions on How We Do Church. I'd like very much to hear your opinions on How We Do Sunday School and How We Could Do Sunday School better.

Smiling On The Way To The Graveside Service

I've always wanted people to get a bit of a grin at my funeral.

Connie Lane tells a wonderful anecdote about the smile a dear friend left for all his mourners.

It sounds like she may be right. Heaven is a brighter place with him there.

Dear Biased News Media

I am so tired of your bias. It is obvious to me that you are driven by one interest and agenda and I'm tired of it. I know people say there is no bias in the various news outlets, but that just isn't true. It's as plain as the glasses on my face.

You people are biased toward the lowest common denominator.

Why else have we heard nothing about the goings-on of the world? Why has the top story for at least four days been the string of autopsies performed on an airheaded alcoholic betittied blonde's late son?

You obviously think we cannot handle continued coverage of Darfur, the Sudan, inhumane diamonds, and that little land war in the middle east. You think we need to be lulled into complacency with endless stories about Genius Autopsy men flying in to figure out how a kid died.

We're on to you.

The Expanded Universe

I realised something at church yesterday. In a very pathetic way I have become much like the most recent Star Wars Trilogy. People who know me in "real life" are free to greet me and talk to me as they always have. But if they want to know the backstory--if they want all the details of my week--they read my blog.

I had more than one moment of weirdness where folks in the middle of conversations alluded to something I hadn't brought up that morning but had written about here. It's as though the blog is the comics and the animated series approved by Creative Director George Lucas. If you read my blog you'll find out that General Grievous was a lot worse than he seemed in Episode III. I sincerely hope that my real life isn't as yuck-o as Episodes 1-3, but there are times I feel as annoying as Jar-Jar Binks.

At lunch I told my theory about The Expanded Universe to some friends. They questioned whether the live me was the real me or the blog me. I said "this [live me] is the real [one]" without thinking. Or using brackets. I did think about it some more and I have to say that I really do think it's all me. When I set out to write this blog it was to be a completely honest writing exercise. I use my real name and I write the way I talk. I don't embellish things to "make the story better" and I try to be really honest about my emotions. Even on days where I'm really cranky and probably shouldn't be having a yard sale.

So if you meet up with me in real life you'll be surprised with the thrilling action sequences and the dazzling special effects and the makeup. But you still get a pretty good handle on the overall story and characters over here.

And once again I'm awake way too early.

16 September, 2006

Liveblogging The Great Yard Sale Experiment

5:30 am

Mornings are cold. Do people not understand why God gave us beds and Saturday mornings?

6:15 am

We have all the heavy stuff out. Will anyone give us $20 for the seed spreader? Will anyone give us $1 each for the backyard tiki torches? The suspense is killing me. Either that or the fact that it is COLD and I am OUT OF BED.

6:55 am

Tim makes me take down my handwritten "All Sales FIRM until 1:00PM NO negotiations" sign. In his words: We can act inhospitable. We don't have to look it, too.

7:15 am

First Sale! Yahoo! Dude gave us $5 for the fireplace stand. I hope his dog doesn't pee on it. Not that that's happened before or anything

7:20 am

HOA board guy who is responsible for the sale came by to check on us. Is he running for public office? If I get a 4/C brochure in the mail, I'll know for certain. He earned my ire by looking at the various old Macs for sale and asking "Are you into computers?" Not that it's a bad question. But why did he ask Tim and not me? Like I wouldn't be into computers? Dude, if you're running for office you just lost my vote. Oh, and way to scare off the day's first Old People Sale Hobbyists.

I tell you right now, if the greatest joy of my retirement years is trawling strange suburbs for someone else's crap please shoot me now.

7:30 am

More sexism. Where is Gender Parity in the world of yardsales? Our neighbour just asked Tim how he got roped into this. Tim is the driving force behind this. I go along for the sweet green cash but he's the one whose been running through the house all week trying to find stuff to sell. He even tried to price Quinn at one point. Maybe it had to do with the fireplace set being peed on.
World of free people: Women can be computer nerds and men can dig on having a yard sale. Billy can play with Barbies and Susie can play baseball. Was I the only kid who got a copy of "Free To Be You And Me" by Marlo Thomas et. al.?

8:07 am

I could never be a prostitute. This business of standing outside waiting for someone to give a paltry sum for something they could get a better version of somewhere else is not my cup of tea. Still holding at $5.00 profit. Right now that makes our wages roughly equivalent to one of Kathie Lee Gifford's little sweatshop children. If Tim buys our neighbours' telescope we'll actually be $5.00 in the hole. For those of you not into story problems that means our neighbours want $10 for the telescope. Why do I feel as though they've been using it to look into our windows, and now that it's for sale is only because they're burnt out on our nudity. Again, I could never be a prostitute.

8:28 am

I'm promoted to Management! That means I can sit in my office and goof off while someone else does the grunt work. I will occasionally poke my head out and give Performance Evaluations but there will be no raises this year as times are tight for the company.

9:32 am

Well. We've downsized. As usual, management is the first to go. I was offered a position out on the line, which I've grudgingly accepted. I am apparently a very bad retail clerk. Sample dialogue:
Random Guy: How much for the DVDs?
Me:(silently in my head) Can't you read the big sign?
Me: (outloud) $3.00 each or $10 for 4
RG: I'll give you a dollar each. That's what I can get 'em for other places.
Me: Good for you. They're $3.00 each or $10 for 4
RG: I'll give you $20 for all 16
Me: (silently in my head) Get bent.
Tim: No thank you.

The good news is that we are up to $21 profit...no thanks to my curmudgeonly sales tactics.

10:56 am

I have no understanding of what people want at a yard sale. What hasn't sold: my Spirit of Nashville posters. My brand new leather photo albums and scrapbooks. What has sold: skeins of yarn at twenty-five cents a piece. Really, people? Really? You want old yarn?

We're doing very well with the English-As-A-Second-Language crowd. The bulk of our $45 intake has been from either Spanish-speakers or a couple of indeterminate Eastern Bloc origin. The Eastern Bloc couple wanted me to break $100. I was sorely tempted to point out that if I had change for $100 I would not be sitting in my garage on a plastic adirondack chair all morning to sell yarn for a quarter.

11:36 am

A Faith Based Conversation
Me: Well, are you at peace with your Lord? We just broke $50.
Tim: I'd be more at peace if He'd come down and buy something. Do you think the Lord needs a Party Chip & Dip tray?

12:18 pm

Celebrity Sighting!!!!
I swear to you. Principle Skinner's mother was just here!

1:11 pm

There's no way I'll make it to Smyrna in time. We're still going full-tilt boogie. Which means one person every 5 minutes. Man. I wish I'd held on to my management position. Then I could duck out early.

At 8:00 when I didn't think anyone would buy anything, Tim told me it was "a marathon , not a sprint." I didn't know he meant that it was like the ORIGINAL Marathon where you die at the end.

5:15 pm

The end of the line. We packed all leftovers at 2:18 and headed to IHOP. In 15.5 years of marriage, this was one of the few times where we ate without lingering. We both realised that this was the first food we'd had today. Banana-Caramel French Toast? Thumbs up! Thank you to the man who bought our seed spreader. You also bought our lunch!

We came home and fell straight into bed. Not for hot passionate lovemaking. It's not as though the old yarn and dye-sub printer were huge aphrodisiacs. We were exhausted. I cannot believe we worked this hard for $138. I'm not even going to do the per-hour math.

Both the seed spreader and the tiki torches sold. We had to go down to $10 on the spreader and throw in half a bottle of oil on the torches, but they're all gone. Sayonara!

The good news is that I still have all my Spirit of Nashville posters--and they'll be making their way to an eBay near you. Unless you are a newly-married demolition contractor. I'll spot you 2 as a (relatively crappy) wedding present.

Why I'm Dreaded My Yard Sale

This is only the third yard sale I've participated in as an adult. In the two weeks since we've known about it I've been thinking of it solely in the realm of the possible cash we'll net and the clean spare-bedroom closet we'll be left with. The magical thinking of my happy little mind completely skipped over the heavy cardboard boxes and piles of price-tag labels as if they were a high school cafeteria vegetable medley.

Now here I sit, mere moments from the (too early) arrival of the first Professional Yardsaler of the day. I'm steeling myself against the inevitableness of the next 8 hours.

If the past is any indication, our first customer will look like a cuddly grandparent but act like an IRS agent-slash-appraiser. Expensive leather photo albums that I'm selling for $3.00 (they retail for about $28) will be manhandled and scorned. Grandma Herbert Hoover will then look at me and say "I'll give you five dollars for 3 of these."

I fell for that the last time we did this. I was so enchanted by the thought of someone handing me a five dollar bill for some crap out of my spare bedroom that I said "sure!" This time I know better. This time I'm biting my tongue so I don't say what I want to say.

So I'm allowing myself to say here what I can't say to the people in my driveway this morning.

1. This is not Marrakesh. I've already priced these things ridiculously low. I've already dickered with you in my head and put my rock-bottom price on the tag. Suck it up.

2. Honestly, if you cannot come up with a full dollar for that brand new package of $12 stationery then just walk away. I won't starve if you don't give me a buck.

3. Why would I sell you my lawnmower? Look around, Oppenheimer. Do you see even one other mower in this garage? Better yet, look at that lawnmower. See how it's pushed back behind several shelves, has a smattering of grass clippings stuck to it and has no price tag? Those are all firm indicators that it is not for sale.

4. I know you've been to my neighbours' houses already. I know one house in particular puts their literal actual physical garbage out and asks outlandish prices for it. I understand that you don't want to pay $10 for a child's old push toy, especially when the handle is broken and you can reach in and pull the little pop-up balls out from the plastic dome. But the stuff I've put out is good retail merchandise that I have from when I worked in that industry. Don't act like I'm a draconian money changer for asking more than a quarter apiece.

5. I hate you.

6. If you have to wear one of those allergy masks, then maybe going to yard sales shouldn't be your primary hobby. Things at yard sales can be dusty. I myself have bad allergies. You can not con me into giving you things cheaper because you "feel an attack coming on."

7. Seriously. I hate you.

8. This yard sale ends at 2:00. Your chances of me dickering on price are greatly increased if you are here at 1:30 and I don't feel like hauling the boxes of stuff back upstairs. It is now 5:30 am. This is a dicker-free zone.

There. I feel better. I'm still probably going to end up selling things for dumb prices. But at least in my head I'm happy.

UPDATE Just look at that title. What?!? Lovely "pick whatever tense you want" writing, huh? What can I say? It's 4:00 in the morning. And Blogger doesn't have a Grammar check. Not that I'd use it if it did. Speaking of grammar check, you know who's always finding the grammatical errors in my post? My mom. And she's a grandma. So it cracks me up that I get a real Gramma Check from time to time. Gramma, trust me. You can try and try but I'll never be able to learn the difference between lay and lie. (See! It rhymes!)

15 September, 2006

It's The Official Language, Buckaroo

Lots of talk lately about "official" languages and whether we need one and whether it's fair that English be the one we pick.

And when I sat down to write this post it was going to be something completely different. It was just going to be a boring yadda-yadda about how we took Casey to the betternarian and the leg is healing.

And then I realised that this post should be as much about how we all use language to our own purpose and how even those of us who have a fairly good grasp of this bastard son of a tongue of Rome and Germania and Kells still morph the language into something else.

Call it Tim W. Lite

Our house has its own distinct langauge that all four members of us understand. It doesn't sound wierd to us, but it's not any English you'd recognise elsewhere. And I'm betting that we're not all that special or unique--that other households do the same thing.

We take the furkids to the betternarian. (He's the dogter who makes them better.) We shop at The Kitty Cat Store. (Food Lion has that big funky cat in the logo.) We give the furkids skyjuice to drink. You know it better as "water".

We have built in bookshelves in the livingroom. Because we keep our onyx chess set there it has become known as "the Chess room."

For eight and a half years we lived in an apartment with one bathroom. When we'd go out if one of us needed to use the facilities as soon as we got home we'd tell the other that we "needed dibs." So now, 7 years later, we live in a house that has three bathrooms. And we still say "I need dibs"--translated: I have to pee really bad.

And on and on and on. There are hundreds of examples of how our small social group has built its own language. I think that's both thrilling and telling. Language lives on its own and can't be stopped. Words turn and melt together like a puddle of crayons in the sun.

Take the word "Buckaroo". It's one of those hearty Western words that reeks of English a la Matt Dillon and Miss Kitty. I can't hear "buckaroo" without imagining a John Wayne swagger. Funnily enough, the word itself is a corruption of the Spanish word vaquero.

I love English. It's like a playground and a candy store. Whether or not we make it the "official" language is beside the point. It's a living thing that won't be held in by regulations.

Friday Randomness

1. Back to the vet this morning. It appears we're going once every two weeks, so they can measure the height of the fundus and check for fetal heartbeat follow the progress of the lytic bone lesion and guage its response to antibiotics. I was moving in a world of blissfull ignorance until a phone conversation with the vet on Monday. He said "unfortunately cancer is not off the table" which either means that there is a probability that Casey may indeed have cancer or that the doctor doesn't want to be sued if cancer were to eventually turn up. Either way I'm dreading this like the plague. Or cancer. And to answer Shaun Groves' post from yesterday--even if it is cancer I understand that the Lord can work through it.

2. Big yard sale here tomorrow. When I say "big" I mean "fantastically wondermous." Just at our Villa Gorilla there will be:
--several old Macs
--brand new leather photo albums & scrapbooks
--high quality journals and blank books
--brand new recipe boxes
--photo frames
--Andersen Thomas Vintage Nashville prints

So if you are into garage sales, come to the Hampton Hall Community Yard Sale off of North New Hope Rd. in Hermitage.

3. I consider myself a Kevin Smith fan, having seen all of his movies except one. After last night I can now say that I have seen 'Mallrats". I now understand why Smith apologises for that movie repeatedly.

14 September, 2006

Is Katherine Coble Really A Conservative?

Somebody had to ask. (Besides my brother) And since no one really cares, I figured I'd ask all on my own.

Because even though I consider myself to be quite conservative, I'm once again parting with my compatriots on an issue. I get that we--Conservatives--are supposed to be all up in the love for Wal-Mart.

1. They are a non-union shop. (Boo, Unions!)

2. They create jobs. (Yay, Job Growth!)

3. They employ vast numbers of underskilled labour. (Yay, Work Not Welfare!)

4. They sell stuff for cheap. (Yay, Low Prices For OverTaxed Americans!!!)

5. Their store colours are Red, White, And Blue. (Yay, American Flag!)

Frankly, I'm glad they're a non-union shop. That's good. But having worked there, I still think that they actually make the case for unions stronger. I was asked on a few occassions to do work off the clock. I watched my hours reduced from 38.5 to 27.5 to conform to their new "full-time" policy. That's also a way they hire more people. Instead of having 50 people work 38 hour weeks, they'll have 80 people working 27 hour weeks and then boast about the 30 extra jobs they created. This is good?

Yes, they employ underskilled labour. And they'll let you know it, too. I can't count the number of times I heard a manager at our Sam's tell someone "well who else is gonna hire you?" as a way to get that person to do something outside of any normal job description. Like working off the clock. The working off the clock thing is insideous, because my experience of it was never "open your register at 8:00, but don't clock in until 9:00." It was usually catching someone right as they were taking off their coat, expressing some emergency like getting a pallett unloaded quickly, and then letting the person clock in after they were done. That happens, but then your manager is supposed to sign off on an early write-in on your time card. Guess what our managers repeatedly "forgot" to do? And when you'd remind them it was usually greeted by a "who else would hire you?" reply.

And then of course there's all the other good stuff about crushing suppliers that I've babbled about before.

So, while I approve of the Red, White and Blue I'm gonna have to take one step further away from the True Conservative Camp as they lionise Wal-Mart.

Thank heaven for other Libertarians. They post things that make me feel like I'm not dreaming. From our local W.:
Sure Walmart has low prices that are good for poor people. But they also make people poor by refusing to pay what a decent price for the things they sell.

McGreevey And The High Cost Of Selfishness

Well, Governor McGreevey is back in the news.
Former Gov. James E. McGreevey revealed during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was having an affair with another man while his wife was hospitalized for the birth of their child...The nation's first openly gay governor told Winfrey he believed he was in love with the man, who would become a central figure in his downfall

While large numbers of folks are no doubt going to celebrate the fact that Mr. McGreevey is at long last being true to himself and his long-suppressed desires, I'm going to stick to my original opinion. The same one I held when Mel White came out of the closet a while back.

Despite the supposed triumph of these newfound selves, there is little mourning for the brokenhearted women and children left behind.

You Know What Just Occured To Me?

I have no idea why I'm so into Disney World. This is the time of year when I get a bad craving for a trip down to Orlando. We've gone the past two years around this time, but decided to take a break this year. Sick me, sick dog and hospital bills are precluding our annual trip. I don't mind, really, because I feel so very adult. Grown-ups prioritise.

But I'm still vastly homesick for Disney World. And that means I was looking through some of the best Disney World pictures on the web and was struck by something. All of my favourite rides are essentially dioramas. Granted, they're big ol' fancy dioramas with sparkly bits and cheery music. But they are still, when you get right down to it, the same thing I made for my 3rd grade class about Little House In The Big Woods. What does it say about me that I'll gladly give thousands of dollars to visit Dioramarama?

13 September, 2006

Lime Rickey

This is a post of various things, and I didn't know what to call it. So I called it Lime Rickey. I don't drink, but if I did I'd order Lime Rickeys because they sound like an obnoxious drink. And I wanted to say "Lime Rickey" without ordering one and this seemed as good a place as any.

1. Happy birthday to Patrick, the person who is most responsible for my having a blog in the first place. In a neat twist he and his brother were born on the same day...some years apart. Kinda cool.

2. Am I the only person who has no idea who they are gonna vote for in the Senate race? There is no Libertarian candidate (shocker!). I don't want to vote for Corker because I don't want to send the message that I'll support you if you happen to get an (R) behind your name, even if you are about as (R) as JFK. And while for awhile I was tempted to pull a lever for Bo Heyward, I'm having a hard time putting my name behind a guy who thinks that ACLUSux.com is a responsible link to have on the front of his campaign page. Granted, I'm not always a big fan of the things the ACLU does, but "ACLUSux.com" sounds like the adventures of a semiliterate reactionary 17-year old. What's next? Wrestling? Oh, and it goes without saying--or maybe not, since I'm saying it--that I will not vote for Ford. That's a really big tree he's fallen from, and while he's a green apple I'm betting we'd see more of that Ford Crunchy Goodness the longer we had the baby-boy Senator in office.

3. My other dog was sick for most of the night and I was up with him. Bad things come in clusters. That's why there were 10 plagues in the Old Testament, I think. Because one bad thing is a fluke, two bad things are a pain. Many bad things make you sit up and take notice.

4. We are having a community yard sale on Saturday. I will talk more about it later, but think about coming by. There will be all kinds of non-typical goodies for sale, including several Andersen Thomas Vintage Nashville posters, some DVDs and some computers.

Western Civilisation, An Open Letter To, Uh, Everybody I Guess

Pardon me for lacking the diligence and wherewithall to track down the other ninety-two letters from various people that have led to this post. But today, reading Aunt B.'s open letter to Roger Abramson, I'm compelled to say something.

I'll keep it brief.

I can't speak fully for Roger or Kleinheider or even Mark Rose (who appears to have started this whole thing), but I can speak for myself.

Women talk about women's rights a lot. Women don't have as many rights as men or as many opportunities. It's better for us here in WC than in, say, Egypt--a country long ruled ably by women, ironically.

When various people talk about women having it better in Western Civilisation than other places that is in no way an acknowledgment that women have achieved the culmination of their status. It is merely said to acknowledge that the entire multimillenial process of defining the nature of personhood has now reached a point in its development where women are treated far better than in other places. For that matter, men are treated far better as well.

Before the rise of Western Civilisation, you were either a diety--and ruled over men--or a lowly serf/villein/whathaveyou who lived and served at the pleasure of the earthbound gods. The point of WC was a long course of philosophical flowering that slowly acknowledged the humanity of everyone, the right to self-governance and the rights of free association.

For all the bad that women have it, there is still the stark fact that until a few men put their names to paper and a few more men took minie balls in the flesh that these very concepts of equality, self-governance and freedom were unheard of. For anyone. I don't think it's a bad thing to acknowledge the great debts we all have toward Jefferson, Paine, Avicenna, Marx, Hegel, Plato, Socrates, et. al. In saying that I acknowledge the superiority of Western Civilisation I am in no way pronouncing it "Complete!" We've a long way to go for a great many people. But we do have here all of the ingredients to get there.

12 September, 2006


I'm convinced they called their company that for a reason.

Because they knew when they started cranking out computers that they were the genesis of temptation.

Have you seen the new iTunes? The new iMac? 24 inches. 24. That's 3 good men right there.

And now you can watch movies on your iPod. The sinister thing is that I didn't ever even think about caring to watch movies on my iPod. But now that it's out there I can't be dissuaded. Must Upgrade iPod. Must Watch Films On Teeny Weenie Screen.

I was surprised when I first started reading The Corner, because I used to think that crack cost a lot of money. Did you know you can get a vial of crack for $10? This means that my Apple habit is WORSE than crack. You can not get a vial of Mac for $10.

I am pathetic in my lust for shiny new Apple products.

Assorted Biker News, Off-Colour Joke Included

Well, Floyd Landis has come out swinging

Howard Jacobs, attorney for 2006 Tour de France Champion Floyd Landis, today submitted a Motion for dismissal to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Independent Anti-Doping Review Board. The specifics of the submission support Landis’ long-held innocence and argue that tests conducted on the athlete’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ urine sample from Stage 17 of the Tour de France do not meet the established World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) criteria for a positive doping offense.

Okay, then.

And in other news, Lance "My Life Is Rapidly Going Downhill" Armstrong is rumoured to be dating one Paris Hilton.

As they've been saying in the Cycling boards, this is one of the few times that Lance won't be first to ride into Paris.

New Blogger, Or How I Fake Like I'm Cool

I am not cool. I am a fusty lady who lives in Hermitage and knits and talks to her dogs. I eat canned bean soup and TiVo Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Dan is cool. Dan and his wife just moved to East Nashville-->where all the cool people live. They love horror movies and Halloween and collect wines. Dan builds fixed-gear bikes (Fixies).

I've known Dan for a lot of years. He used to be a luthier for a local luthier employer. How cool is it to say "luthier"? I would have loved that job, just so I could tell people I was a "luthier". I like hanging out with Dan and his wife because they are great company, a lot of fun and make me feel like I move in an orbit of coolness. Visiting them is like dropping by the Cool Store to get a shot of hipster grooviness.

The one cool thing I've done (stretching the definition of "cool" here, by about 1000 times) is have a blog. That was the only area where I could possibly out hipster Dan.

Not any more. Now Dan has a blog. And wouldn't you know that his blog is cooler than mine?!? I talk about things like stuffed monkeys and old ladies with hats. Dan schedules cycle-beer runs.

So, anyway, check out East Side Cyclist, the blog of my (much cooler) friend.

That Movie, My Movie

I did not watch the controversial 9/11-was-Clinton's-fault movie. I just can't watch 9/11 things. I found that out when I tried to watch Flight 93 on the History Channel on the 4th of July. I felt like a voyeur on other people's pain. I felt angry and impotent. That's probably the same reason I don't watch Project Runway.

Why did they make this movie? Who decides what movies get made? I've been thinking a lot about Michael Rosenblum's speech and it's further ramifications. I have finally admitted something to myself.

I don't want to make little movies with small cameras. I never have. I enjoy watching those things (Blake, I'm talking to you) but they aren't all of what I want to see. If Mr. Rosenblum's revolution means a steady diet of low-budget vids, I'm afraid I'll have to pass.

The Walter Mitty in me has always had a dream to produce a grand epic miniseries of Ken Follett's The Pillars Of The Earth. I've seldom come across such a human story with such a grand scope. Now that we have computer animation, the cathedral at the center of the story would be much less expensive to produce. It could be done, given the tools. Since I ended up not going to film school, I'll just have to content myself with sending messages through the Jungian grapevine, hoping some enterprising movie person will take the ball and run with it.

That's my fear about this revolution. After Guttenberg we saw some of the greatest literature in the world of mankind flower forth. Dostoevsky. Nabakov. Eliot. Shelley. I fear the revolution a la Rosenblum would give us the equivalent of a filmic world full of leaflets.

11 September, 2006

Am I The Only One?

I'm already having a case of the Mondays. Big time.

And it seems like with the e-n-d-l-e-s-s recap of 9/11 stuff today that it's just making things worse.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to forget. I don't think I could ever forget.

I just also am starting to feel that familiar grip at the pit of my stomach and that anxious squeeze around my lungs.

Those days after 9/11 were hard. Everywhere you went. There was NO escape. Typically escapist media--television, magazines, some blogs--were given over to the shell-shock, fear and rumour.

We were only on the edge of one of the ripples, but we still plunged headlong into some really hard times. In fact, while it's been "five whole years", we spent about 3.5 of those years struggling uphill.

All this coverage today brings back the sense memory of what it was like to be at the base of the hill. And I can't figure out why we are doing this to ourselves.

My Funny 9/11 Story

Well, it's funny to me if not to anyone else. And it certainly isn't funny for one person in particular. But as everyone shares their "where I was" story, the where that I was and the where that this person was makes for a chuckle.

I was working for a large stationers', but we didn't do any work that day. The first three hours were spent in our conference room watching television. In a room of 45 people that day I was one of two people who had actually heard of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. Heh. Things change, don't they?

When the shock wore off, the Executive Assistant began calling all our sales staff. None of them were supposed to be on the road, but we wanted to make sure that none had scheduled a quick trip on a then-doomed flight. She ably counted noses, and soon we realised that one was missing. Where was JM? No one knew. It didn't help that his wife called around 11, frantically asking if we'd cancel his meeting so he could come home.

Meeting? What meeting?

Well, the sales meeting you all sent him to in Texas, of course.

Only problem was that the only "Sales Meeting" in Texas involved JM meeting carnally with one of the other sales staff. And his flight home was cancelled. So there dude is, stuck with his mistress in a hotel in Texas and not only does his wife know about it but every single employee in his office is hip to his most unfortunately timed booty call. He's banging one of his employees--diddling while Rome burns.

I can only imagine what that guy thinks whenever people recount "where they were" on 9/11. I was in a conference room. He was in L----- M------, and fixing to get in hot water.

Update As I look at this entry back to back, comparing it to the Timbo McSweeney tribute I wrote earlier, I'm struck at how 9/11 just really laid the dual nature of mankind out there with no comment. There were heroes like McSweeney, cads like my sales guy and (saddest of all) children who were smack in the middle of becoming something.

Timothy Patrick McSweeney--A 2996 Project Memorial

I do not know this man. If his life had worked out the way he planned, I most likely would never have heard of him. He would probably have spent part of the morning taking his younger son Patrick to the First Grade. He'd be spending these last days of summer around the pool in his backyard.

But on the same Tuesday that I stood in a conference room with 45 other people, all of us glued to the television, Timothy Patrick McSweeney--Timbo to his many friends and sprawling family--went into Tower One to assist burn victims.

I realise this is an old refrain, five years later, but I am still in awe that there are men whose hearts are large enough to walk into burning buildings for strangers. And I can't get over the fact that these very special men, this rare commodity of strength melded into kindness, are often lost to us for that very reason. They care enough to go into burning buildings.

I'm writing about Timothy Patrick McSweeney, because he did not come out of that burning building alive. A devout Catholic, Mr. McSweeney took an earlier-than-expected trip home to his Lord that day. His pain was soon over. The heartsore sorrow of Debbie McSweeney, left alone to raise three small children, might be mellowed into less of a keening rage. Five years later means that Dennis has now learned to ride a bike. Margaret has learned her multiplication tables and Patrick, a baby when his father worked the longest overtime, is learning to read. I don't doubt that all these sweet moments have a hollowness without Daddy there.

The human cost of 9/11 will echo through generations. But every time I mourn that cost I will remember Timbo McSweeney. Because the thing that will save humanity is the heart that will risk everything to save the lives of strangers. The cost is great, but the wealth is infinitely greater.

This Tribute Was Made In Conjunction With The 2996 Project

10 September, 2006

Breaking News: Jarvis Highlights Our Herd Of Monkies

Once again, the WKRN meetup rated a mention at Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine.

Jeff likens us to a herd of monkies.

(Perhaps my whole Stuffed Monkey Club was even more appropriately named than I thought....)

09 September, 2006

::Cue Exasperated Sigh::

Our meetup this morning was covered by Steve Safran of Lost Remote.

Mr. Safran has this helpful thing to say:

How is it that, in a room of 25 – 30 local bloggers, nobody is liveblogging this? Come on, gang. A local station is reaching out. It’s worth writing about.

How is it? Okay. I'll tell you how it is.

Much is made in all quarters about this New Media Revolution and how Everyman can storm the Bastille of old media. Yet what Mr. Safran and those of his ilk fail to realise is that not every blogger owns a laptop.

The way I see it, 25-30 of us were up early on a Saturday morning, taking time away from our families and busy lives to continue our strong partnership journey with WKRN. Yes, WKRN was reaching out. Yet the Nashville blogosphere has always reached back enthusiastically. At last count 5 of us blogged the event postmortem. On our hard-to-schlepp-to-the-GEC desktops at home.

I've heard both Terry Heaton and Mike Sechrist make much of the rising power of Citizen media. They've always seemed to respect us--if not our current positions, our potential. However it's inevitable that most people, like Mr. Safran, who are entrenched in Established Media adopt a bit of a patronising attitude toward the very people they ostensibly celebrate.

It takes all kinds to make a revolution. And some kinds won't have a laptop.

Thoughts On The WKRN Meetup

Wow. Deep title. Well, it was a much deeper meetup than I expected. Much of the usual crowd was there. People look different fresh out of bed vs. unwinding after a long day's work. Always generous, our hosts at WKRN provided a bountiful spread. Always timid, only about half the bloggers actually ate something.

The surprise for me was that there were four speakers and a long and dedicated lecture portion to the morning.

Mike Sechrist, WKRN's GM, spoke briefly about the history of WKRN's relationship with bloggers and the continued positive financial rewards the station has reaped from its association with the local blogosphere. The specific example he mentioned was their large ratings share in the double-broadcast of the Titans v. Packers game. Because the idea for that double broadcast came directly from respected blogger Roger Abramson, Mike rightfully credits his station's windfall in part to the blogosphere. He then touched again briefly on News 2's hopes to expand into the citizen journalism and citizen video content arenas.

Terry Heaton--always great to see him--was back briefly from Dallas and filled us in on the continued breaking of ground spawned by News 2's unique embrace of New Media.

Michael Rosenblum, the third speaker, was very much a surprise and kept the crowd entertained with colourful recountings of the history of communication and the new renaissance he sees in infancy as The Means Of Production are made more accessible to the masses. It was a bit of Karl Marx meets Spaceship Earth.

Mr. Rosenblum's envigorating speech was followed by a representative of Pheedo, an RSS-advertising services company. Pheedo's business model is one of brokering adspace onto individual blogs' RSS feeds.

I've been mulling these various presentations over in my mind for some time, and I think what I have to say is probably a bit of an echo of what others are saying in segments around the blogosphere. I've no doubt that some form of communication revolution is bubbling under the tarpit of mass media. But the disconnect, the problem, the Wycliffe-burning was clearly illustrated by the latter two speakers this morning.

Mr. Rosenblum represented everything that is hopeful and enthusiastic for New Media Distribution enthusiasts the world over. No longer is production of entertainment limited to the Media Rockefellers and Gettys. Any dude with a camera and a dream can create a multi-million dollar windfall series like Trauma: Life In The ER (Mr. Rosenblum's entree into CivVid--Civilian Video). But honestly, Mr. Rosenblum is not just any dude with a camera. He's based in New York. He has had previous network employ. He had a buddy he could call at the Learning Channel. Most Dudes With Cameras lack these three key elements when they sit in front of Final Cut with their own personal Amblin's.

Pheedo represented the cold hard reality of modern New Media. IF you advertise, IF you have enough readers, IF advertisers can be successfully solicited it is possible to earn $50 a month for your original content. Don't get me wrong--$50 is nothing to sneeze at. But it's a far cry from the multi-millionaire utopia Mr. Rosenblum spoke about. And that is the disconnect.

Yes, you have wonderfully talented people producing phenomenal new content every day. Not because they want the money but because they are compelled to write. Compelled to play music. Compelled to film. You see the best and worst of people's striving out here in the trenches. Some of the best stuff I've read this year has been free. Great writers writing because they must write or die, not because they were on the staff of Harvard Lampoon and now goldbricking on the staff of The Simpsons. I'm a writer. I am part of the write or die camp. I do this for nothing, and any comments I get are as great a payment to me as a check. Cash money'd be nice of course, but it's not flowing in abundance from the struck rock of Established Media.

Will there ever be money in it for groups like the Nashville Blogosphere? Frankly, I think there could be. But I really think that as long as we're still competing with the older business models of established print and video networks the best way for a blogosphere like ours to cash out would be to sell bundled advertising. Advertisers may not care about my 150 hits a day. But think of me as one page of the magazine. Think of Sarcastro as another. (Yes, this is one odd magazine.) Think of John H. as another, and yourself, etc. Would advertisers buy space in a block of blogs like this? I think they would--at least more readily. In my husband's work we see the complete glut of ad space available. I don't think microadvertising is the most workable model right now. I'd be most excited to see some type of sphere branding that would, like a liferaft, tie a bunch of blogs together for floating a more exposed ad buy.

Until then, if any of you camera-savvy people want a writer for your WKRN submission give me a holler. I lack a camera and come up a bit shy in overall telegenicness. But if you need the words, I got 'em.