Monday, September 29, 2008

Shana Tova!

My dad sent me this one! (Ignore the ad at the end.)

Friday, September 26, 2008

In This Week's Email

Sarah Silverman--I've stopped counting how many times I've gotten it, not to mention the blogs, Twitters, Facebook updates, etc..

I'm actually not such a Sarah Silverman fan, but I liked this one. Except I am proud to say that I have no doubt my grandparents would have voted for Obama. Well, no doubt about two of them, and I would have browbeaten the others into it, so, yeah, Sarah, you're onto something. (M, I think you're OK with your grandparents too--then again, they're not in Florida...)

Uninformed Thoughts on the Current Situation

1. I really don't understand this.

2.  I'm not even sure I have a gut feeling.

3. But I have a little bit of a gut feeling that we are proposing to spend 700 billion dollars to save big corporations, and that doesn't sit right.

4. I also feel that $700 billion for bailing out the economy will mean, if not now, then soon, big budget cuts for all the things I care about like roads and schools and health care.

5. Uh, where's the $700 billion going to come from?  More debt?  That can't be good.

6. On the other hand, my instinct is to trust Chris Dodd and, especially, Barney Frank.

7. But Robert Reich says they were caving.

8. And, if the conservative Republicans are against it, that might be a reason to be for it.

9. I'm quite sure that McCain is being a jackass.

10. I definitely think they should debate.

11. I truly fear that however this plays out, it will leave me without a job, given what I do and how I'm paid.

12. OK, must stop thinking about it again, because my head hurts and my stomach feels all nervous.


About once a year, I drive M to school (S drives her slightly more frequently, maybe four times a year, in dire weather). Today it was raining, and I wanted to go to the gym, so I OFFERED to drive her to school, which was a great shock to the system, but she got over it.

First we drove around the block and picked up D (lots of one way streets in our neighborhood). Then we drove by the bus stop, and there was E, so I picked her up too. She said that Other M, whose (single) mother leaves early, was still getting dressed, and by now it was quite late (i.e. driving time, not bus time), so I made her call Other M and I got on the phone and said "finish getting dressed right now and come downstairs, I am picking you up in one minute," and we drove around the block again and picked up Other M.

So I drove three seventh graders and one eighth grader to school. First we talked about how small the sixth graders are this year (because we saw a very small one at the next bus stop), and they insisted in complete earnestness that the sixth graders were getting smaller and would brook no consideration of the possibility that they were getting bigger.

Then we talked about Parent's Night, and the super English teacher. D said her mother doesn't like him because he's not challenging, and she likes him, but she agrees he's not challenging. M and I were fairly dumbfounded. M said, "but he had us interpret that poem," and D said they interpreted poems all the time last year. Then she and E started talking about the books they read last year--The Cay (how middle school can you get?) and something else--so I asked how many books they read last year. Five. They read five books in English. Do you know how many books M read in English? None, and, yes, I was irate at the time. So maybe we just have further confirmation of the extreme suckiness of her sixth grade teachers, and yet a school that allows such sucky teachers to teach, with no apparent curricular supervision, does not get much in the way of props from me.

On the other hand (hint: this is a sarcastic on the other hand), M did read a book a day under her desk. In fact, choosing what book to bring to school was always a major piece of the pre-school routine. So reading did happen, albeit of the Gossip Girls/Ruth Reichl type. I think, though, that I'm happier to have that reading happen after school...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I'm a Happy Mom

This morning I was writing a post in my head based on E's school open house (is it open house week for the rest of the world? we had E on Tuesday, M tonight; friends of mine in other towns were last night, Tuesday night; K's, in a whole different state and a private school, was Tuesday...). Anyway, that post was about theory and pedagogy and reality, and maybe I'll write it later, but for now I just want to say: I LOVE M's teachers this year! Her English teacher? The kind of guy who changes kids' lives, truly. One mom went up to him after his presentation and said her son had never talked about English in seven years of school, and now he comes home every night and goes on and on about English. The guy made me want to teach middle school English--and I hate middle school! Her math teacher? Challenging and engaged. Science teacher? All about intellectual independence and science in the world. World geography? Africa, Asia, geography in the news, Israel and Palestine, cultural literacy. I am blown away.

Academically, sixth grade was dismal. Her teachers were old and grumpy. Most of them had been sixth graders back when the sixth grade was in the elementary schools (i.e. a long time ago), and they treated their students like little kids. Silly projects, boring math worksheets, spelling words--spelling words in sixth grade! This year already she has done a group project on a Sylvia Plath poem that involved an interpretive essay and poster. Sylvia Plath! She got a grade I will not share with the internet on a math test which is not a good thing, but shows that her teacher is determined to push them. She is all about the scientific method. Content! Quality teaching! At the Town Middle School! A great miracle happened here!

Another good thing is that most of her teachers are fairly new to her school, which means they are somewhat removed from recent major controversies which is all to the good--the longer-term teachers are, for the most part, embedded in both old ways and old resentments, which was very much to the bad. (Sorry about the crypticness, but...take my word for it, you don't want to know the details.)

All in all, I'm glad M has made it to this year! And, like the title says, I'm a happy mom!

I'll Take Katie

Which of these women would you prefer for Vice President?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chris Rock on Letterman

Another good one. (Is it worth me posting these things, or has everyone already seen them?!)

In Praise of Hannah Montana

Here are some reasons why we like Hannah Montana:
  • Miley Cyrus is truly a talented comic actress.
  • Billy Ray Cyrus is totally comfortable in his cheesy, long-haired (no-longer-mulleted) skin.
  • The other actors are also very funny.
  • The show hits just the right balance between ridiculous and well-valued.
  • The show does have good values (friendship, family, all that good stuff).
  • Billy Ray Cyrus captures the bemusedly befuddled determination of those of us who aren't quite sure we're grownups, yet seem to have acquired almost-grownup children, and are trying to do our best.
  • Did I mention that it's funny?
I think the people who complain about Hannah Montana have not watched it.

[This post is the result of a dinner-table conversation fully participated in by all four of us, who were in general agreement--and also agreed that Zack and Cody are very funny as well--but it ended with S, head in his hands, complaining that the world is ending and we were discussing the merits of Hannah Montana, which seemed to be an additional sign that the world was ending, but we all laughed at him. Nevertheless, I felt chastened for my superficiality.]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ayelet's New Project

Love Obama? Want books? [link from C, one of my Ayelet degrees of separation]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reginald Shepherd, RIP

Oh, I am just distraught.  I just found out that Reginald Shepherd died almost two weeks ago, and we hadn't even known he was ill.  I will come out of the anonymity schtick sufficiently to say that he was an old friend of S's, a complicated friend and friendship, and they have been out of touch for a while, but knowing he existed, living his difficult life and writing his incredible poetry, was just, well, it wasn't even something one thought about, just something that was.  The world was a better place because Reginald Shepherd wrote poetry in it.  And now the world is a worse place.  

And S is asleep, and in the morning I need to tell him.

This is Reginald's last poem

I am unspeakably sad.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Last weekend, Aunt M came to town for a family event.  "Have you made the double chocolate layer cake from Epicurious?" she asked.  Why no, I hadn't.  And I'd been thinking, lately, that it was time to make a chocolate cake, and that was even before Libby commented on the recent absence of cakely chocolateness.  And, not only that, but my mother-in-law's birthday was coming up, and although my sister-in-law had announced that she was taking care of dessert, I had a sneaking suspicion that, in the press of events, she might welcome being relieved of that responsibility, which, indeed, she was.

So all things conspired to make Double Chocolate Layer Cake imminent, except for the matter of pans.

"You need to try it," said Aunt M, "because the recipe says 10-inch pans, and I don't have room for more cake pans." (Aunt M has the world's smallest kitchen, in which an outrageous ratio of cooking to kitchen takes place, but I can see her point about the cake pans, especially ten-inch cake pans, as will become clear).

Given my cake-baking history, I assumed I had 10-inch pans, but, given my cake-baking history, I knew to check the night before baking.  

When it turned out that I had no such pans.  Luckily, however, I have a private restaurant supply outlet.  Namely: "Honey, can you bring home some 10-inch pans?"  

Well, it turns out that 10-inch pans are not so much the standard: S had to search the restaurant, and the two he turned up...well, let's just say they needed to be scrubbed.  They were also enormous.  Ten inches may not sound like much, in most contexts (hush your dirty minds), but cake pans?  Let's just say there's a reason we cake bakers have a full complement of eight- and nine-inch pans, but are hard-pressed to break out the ten-inchers (I told you: hush!). Let's just say that if all we made was ten-inch cakes, well, there'd be an awful lot of cake around (which, come to think of it, wouldn't be so bad...but I'm getting ahead of myself).

Cake pan challenge solved, I faced the chocolate challenge.  The recipe called for Callebaut, but all I was thinking was semisweet as I stood in front of the wall o' chocolate.  Oh, and I was also thinking three ounces for the cake and a pound for the ganache, which makes 19 ounces, which is an awful lot of chocolate when you are looking at a wall o' chocolate that retails for an average of $19.00/pound, in three-ounce bars.  Um, not the moment for Green and Black or Scharffen Berger.  But Ghiradelli?  Lindt?  Eh, I wanted something better than that.  Eventually (really, you'd think after all these cakes, I could make a chocolate decision more quickly than that, but apparently not), I settled on Icelandic chocolate for $9.00/pound.  I mean, why not?  But then, over in the cheese department--who knew--there was Callebaut for $7.00/pound (more or less).  What to do?  Why was I agonizing about something so ridiculous?  Pick up the chocolate.  Put it down.  Walk away.  Go back.  Regret leaving phone at home so it was impossible to call S (probably a good thing for S).  Went to the checkout counter.  Wait!  The  Icelandic was 45% and the Callebaut 52%--plus cheaper.  Callebaut, it was, with Valrhona cocoa, just to make sure I wasn't being too frugal.

The making of the cake was quite boring, which is to say pleasant.  Really, it's a very easy cake, aside from the outrageous quantities of ingredients--2 1/2 cups sugar?  1 1/2 cups cocoa?  (That's Valrhona, to you.)  And then there's the eggs AND the oil AND the buttermilk (and the vanilla, except not in this cake, because, I forgot it--and, to tell you the truth, nobody missed it...why do chocolate cakes always have vanilla anyways?).  Really, it was all quite a happy, easy story, even with the ridiculous amount of batter (I have never seen the KitchenAid so full in my life--truly--the batter was an inch over the top of the blade).  It took exactly an hour to bake perfectly, and my those were some tall ten-inch cakes.  We were just heading for happily ever after (and you know this buildup means really we weren't).

The ganache was fine too, except chopping A POUND of Calleabaut in an inch-and-a-half-thick chunk is kind of a drag.

And then it was time to put the cake together.  Strips of wax paper on the cake tray (remember?  so that the frosting can drip onto them, and then you pull them away and have perfect cake on clean tray?).  First layer--down!  Ganache in middle--spread!  Second layer--perfectly plopped atop first layer!  And, man, that cake is tall.  And, pound of chocolate and all, that ganache is barely enough.  But still, it's spread and all, and looking attractive, and I insouciantly go to pull out the strips of wax paper, and...galumph.  Or perhaps...kachunk.  Or maybe...splurk.  Yes, the little crack in the first layer which I had noticed but dismissed became a canyonic crack, leaving a crust of cake heading out toward the side of the tray along with the wax paper it was supposed to let go solo, and the top layer slumped down atop the canyonic crack, and we were seriously in the realm of aesthetic and structural collapse.  I poked; I prodded; I maneuvered wax paper; I tried knives and spatulas.  I felt like a high-level Lehman executive round about last Saturday.

At that moment, S called, saying he was on his way home, and I gave up and left it for him.  He got home, looked at it, gave it a desultory poke, and said it was fine.  OK, so maybe Lehman is an exaggeration.  Merrill Lynch?

OK, let's swap hyperbole for realistic honesty: from one side, it was a gorgeous, tall, delightfully-frosted beauty of a cake; from the other, it was a cake with a slumpy gouge on the side.  So what did we do?  Why we kept our best side forward, of course.

And how was it?  I have to say, it was incredibly delicious.  The cake part was practically black: incredibly moist and full of chocolate in your mouth, but not overwhelming, as in everyone wanted to eat it forever and most people had seconds.  The ganache was fine--it was a delicious ganache, but even in the eating, I continued to feel that there was not enough of it to balance the grand enormity of the cake, and I just had an instinct that a thick layer of mocha butter cream might be the coup de grace.  So we'll just try that next time.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Work Footnote

So I just had the "I can't work for you anymore" conversation with the client I don't want to work for any more.  Actually, I told her the truth: my two big clients got bigger this fall, and between work for them and other freelancing, I truly can't work for her: don't have the time and don't need the money, except I left the money part out.  I also left out the part about how working for her has driven me kind of crazy (in a small-job-you-don't-have-to-worry-so-much-about-except-for-when-you-do sort of way).

Here's the part I wasn't expecting: she said I was the best person they'd ever had in the job, and she thought it was a perfect fit.  She also said she understood, and I said I would help them out till they found someone else, which I'd always planned to do.

Then I hung up the phone and felt really bad about the whole thing, especially me thinking she wasn't happy with me, and the implications for my whole self-esteem thing and all that.

Then S pointed out that she needed to learn how to give positive feedback.  And I was all, yeah, maybe it's not my problem after all...

Facebook Update

The stranger?  Went to high school with me.  A few years younger.  Very vague recollections, stimulated by C.

I guess that's what Facebook is all about.

(I will say that it is one of my general expectations in life that I remember everyone, because mainly I do, and that nobody remembers me.  But maybe not.)

Women Bosses

A long time ago, I worked for a man whom I adored.  He had some weaknesses, but he was a great boss for me: supportive, helpful, appreciative.  Then he hired a woman to be his #2, and she was supposed to supervise me.  There was him at the top, then her, then about seven of us at the same level, each of us supervising dozens of people.  So I was supposed to work with #2 Woman, not #1 Man, and it was not good.  

First of all, I resented not having so much access to #1 Man, who was such a good boss for me.  Second of all, #2 Woman was a nasty harridan.  She really was: nobody liked her, everybody hated her, she should have gone and eaten worms.  So I struggled with her, and felt abandoned and on my own, but did a fine job with my work anyway, but did not do so well with her, in fact once I even had to walk out of a management meeting in tears, which is not a good thing.  

At some point in our struggles, she told me I had problems with women in authority, and I was incensed.  I did not have problems with women in authority; I had problems with her!  But it was one of those comments that stays with you, and makes you question yourself--or at least, it stayed with me, and made me question myself.  Because you know me: I am all about the women and the feminism and the respect and the positive working relationships, except that I am also all about the impatience and the non-suffering of fools and the frustration.

So do I have a problem with women in authority?  I'm not quite sure.

Let's leave out pre-full-time employment, because back then I was pretty lowly and generally effective at my lowly tasks and thus not particularly concerned with bosses.

Post-college job #1: Worked for woman I had worked for in college who sought me out when I graduated and offered me a job.  Adored her, learned enormous amounts from her, remained friends long after I left job (still holiday card friends, but too far away to maintain real friendship after 20 years).

Job #2: Worked for woman, everything great.

Job #3: Worked for Man #1 and Woman #2.  Results detailed above.

Job #4: Worked for man I adored in job with a lot of autonomy.  He was quite similar to Man #1: very smart and thoughtful, but kind of low-key and very much about empowering others.  Respected me and let me do what I wanted, but respect was mutual, so I always consulted him and followed his wishes, even as I did what I wanted.  One other thing I will say about both these male bosses is that when I told them what to do, which is a habit of mine, they did it.

Job #5: Worked for psycho female alias Anna Wintour.  Worst boss ever, as generally agreed to by everyone who was ever in her employ, not to mention widely-read (as per Google ranking) newspaper articles.  Refused to take terrible treatment. Left.

Job #6: Worked for woman I liked, under man who was completely incompetent but liked me, in bad work environment.  Clashed subtly with some other powerful older women.

Currently I am consulting, and the three main people I work for are all women.  One I adore and respect, and two I have difficulty with.  With one of the two, it is my fault: I do not like the work (and am about to get rid of the client), so am doing the bare minimum, so am making her nervous, so she is always harping on me, which annoys me, but, like I said, my bad.  The other is frustrating many people besides me.

Conclusion: Oh god, I don't know.  I can spin this for or against me.  The primary facts revealed here are, I think: 1) I have worked for/with a lot more women than men; 2) I am not good at working for people I don't respect and/or people who do not treat me with the respect I feel I deserve; 3) such people have, in my experience, mainly been women; but 4) there have also been many women with whom I have had great working relationships (also my record of lateral relationships and relationships with subordinates is generally good, though definitely not perfect).

Hmm, I'm getting bored of this post, so I will just say that I don't think I am off the hook altogether, because I think there is probably a feminist analysis to be made of how women respond to each other's competence.  The women bosses I have had difficulty with--could they be threatened by my competence and feel the need to assert themselves over me? I'd say, in several circumstances, yes.  Could I hold women to a higher standard of competence and thus be more easily frustrated with women who do not meet my standards?  Probably.  Could I, unconsciously and against all my overt principles, treat men with more respect and deference?  Oh god, I hope not, but maybe.

Really, all I want is to work with respectful, highly competent people.  It doesn't seem so much to ask...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

OK, Now I Think I Get It

The best piece I've read on the financial situation. Or perhaps I should say, the only piece I've found readable and comprehensible.

Isn't it obvious that deregulation is the issue here? How can Palin say it's corruption?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Renovation Dreams

This week they are painting.  M's room has bright blue walls and lime green eaves.  There was skepticism, but it looks fabulous.  E's room has three violet walls and one fuschia.  Again: skepticism disproved.  In our room, I was aiming for a barely there blue green.  It turned out more there than I intended.  But S and the girls think it's perfect, and, once I inhabit it, I'm sure I'll soon forget about my intentions.

The space is now finished enough to imagine living in it.  The six-foot-long, 22-inch-deep tub is in place, and I dream of lying back, hot water to my chin, looking up at my skylight.  In my dreams, the tub is clean.  Now, the hall, bathroom, ceilings and trim are a bright white (Simply White, if you know your Benjamin Moore), the trim is shiny, the angles are sharp, and it all looks impeccably modern and clean.  I imagine that once we move up there, we will live in bright, light cleanliness.

But alas, I know we will still be us, and the dust will collect in the cracks, the shoes will lie abandoned in the hall, the steps will become staging points for things we want to take upstairs, some day, and the books, oh god, the books will pile up and fall down again, into sprawling, open-paged heaps, just as they do in every other room of the house.

A new house, even half a new house, offers such promise, such hope of being different: new space, new beginning, new life.  

I don't really have an ending to this post.  To lament the inevitable failure would be to bemoan how we are, which really isn't that bad.  To embrace it would be to accept how we are, and really we should be better.  To say that it will not be as I imagine, but it will be...itself, great, whatever...can only be trite.  So I'll just say that, whatever happens, the blue, lime green, violet, and fuschia will be perfect.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Facebook Dilemma

What do you do when someone you don't think you know friends you on Facebook with a cheerful personal but not that personal note?  I mean, if you click on the link to see their profile, you end up friends with them, but then what if you don't actually know them?  Clearly this does not bother those who have 579 friends, but I don't think I want to be Facebook friends with people I don't know.  I guess, if I don't recognize the name, I either don't know them, or don't remember them well enough to care to be friends with them on Facebook.  So I ignore the request?

I am going to go straight to hell

for the way Anne Lamott makes me want to throw up.  Except I'm Jewish, and we don't believe in hell.

Edited to add: Now this, this makes me feel better.  Still probably going to hell.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hi There, First Place

Nice to see you again. [OK, game just ended, standings aren't updated yet, but I have to go to bed, and, as always, if you care, you know what I mean.]

Celebrity Athletics

I tried to get Jenny to take this one on, as it's really more her bailiwick, but she declined, so I'm afraid the onus is on me.

And I'm afraid that means we must discuss J. Lo's triathlon, the one which rates its own blog, 196 Google news hits and about a gazillion other Google results, the one which she has trained for assiduously, with the honorable aspiration "to make my babies proud" (because, you know, a mom who has completed a triathlon is what every seven month old yearns for) (especially when it means that she spends hours every day training, instead of gazing and cooing), the triathlon that totalled a half-mile swim, 18-mile bike and four-mile run, in which she came in, uh, not so much the fastness?

OK, stop.  Stop.  STOP.

You are a not-so-fast athlete yourself (this is me who is the you here, not you--I'm chastising myself, you're just listening along).  You support everyone who attempts athletic challenges (really, you do: you deeply disapprove of those fast marathoners who disapprove of the slow marathoners, like the seven/eight/nine-hour ones, because, for god's sake, the fast marathoners are already drinking beer before the slow ones come along, and why should they care, and getting through 26 miles is impressive however you do it).  You are all about the personal best.  What's with the J. Lo hate?

Uh, it's not so much the J. Lo hate, it's more the J. Lo disdain.  I mean, come on, I could do that without training.  This is not so much the impressive athletic feat, people.  This is the media opportunity.  And a way to get paid for losing baby weight.  And, look, it works.

Now, the Katie Holmes marathon?  I was down with that.  So she was not so the fast, that's fine.  She didn't send out press releases, she just showed up, ran her marathon, and everyone was all, hey, there's Katie Holmes, running her marathon, without a bra, and then she went away.  Bully for her.  

But this J. Lo thing?  Bah...

(On the other hand, I'm all about Katie Price, who is famous for doing absolutely nothing except having big boobs and being famous, though at first when I started reading the article, I was all "who's this Katie Price, and how come I've never heard of her?" but then I realized that she is JORDAN, and of course I know Jordan, because when we lived in London, everything was all about Jordan, and, really, I like my media opportunism pure, not tainting us real not-so-fast athletes.) 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What does it say about me

that I find Ben Stein's column more compelling than that Eve Ensler rant my friends keep sending me?

That I care more about regulation than polar bears?  Because I think maybe I do.

How Much Do You Think Tina Fey Practiced?

Enough, for sure, because she nailed it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

She's a Cross Between Bush and Cheney

But why did the Times print this article on Saturday, not Sunday?!

Edited to add: Duh, there it is on Sunday's front page above the fold.  But usually when they publish online the day before, they put Sunday's date on it.  My bad.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh, Man

How can the Daily Show be on vacation?  I need sanity.

Political Notes

Due to a busy, productive, enjoyable day of work (which entailed leaving the house at 7:10 in the morning), I did not learn about the lipsticked pig debacle until the end of the day.  Perhaps the McCain campaign and the media need to find themselves some busy, productive, enjoyable work.

I have now received the Women Against Sarah Palin email six times (and counting).  How about you?

The thing I find most upsetting about this election is neither John McCain's determination to do whatever it takes to be president, regardless of his professed convictions, nor Sarah Palin's politics (that debunking? anyone who was truly paying attention knew all that stuff, and it doesn't make her any better).  

What bother me most are the structural parallels between what I'll call, for lack of better terminology, us and them.

We treat our guy like a rock star; they treat their gal like a rock star.

We find Sarah Palin inconceivably horrifying; they find Barack Obama inconceivably horrifying (really, they do--go read the conservative blogs, or even the comments on The Caucus).

We spread Sarah Palin rumors virally; they spread Barack Obama rumors virally.

We believe what we want to believe; they believe what they want to believe.

Of course we believe that we're right (I certainly do); but so do they.

It bodes ill for all of us.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Mamma Mia

M is listening to Abba ("S.O.S.") which reminds me that I never blogged about Mamma Mia which we finally saw on Friday night.

Best part: E's full-body grins when she was particularly amused.

Whenever Meryl Streep's histrionic hippie was on screen, the movie was divine, especially if she was with Pierce Brosnan, and ESPECIALLY if they were singing, and ESPECIALLY when they were singing "S.O.S.".  I recall seeing some review which talked about how pathetic Streep was, but I thought she was having a grand old time, just putting it all out there in prime camp Abba fashion.  Ditto for Christine Baranski and Julie Waters.

The young people father/marriage plot?  Eh.  And it brought down the movie, I thought, from the sublimity of Streep et al to, well, eh.

Still, we had fun.  I mean, it was Abba.

Other People's Dreams

I know: they're boring.  And it's even worse when they're partial and fragmented, but this was so weird I just had to write it down.

We were up on top of a very high mountain, all snowy and craggy, kind of K2 like.  Altitude sickness was a danger, but the other problem was that the tide was coming in, and where we were camped was going to be under water.  S had gone off, I think to get the plane or the boat which would get us out of there, and I was trying to clean up the campsite and pack, worrying that I was going to get altitude sickness.  

Then somehow I had these three tiny naked mice in the palm of my hand: tiny, they were maybe the length of half a finger.  It seemed imperative that I take care of them, but I didn't know what to do with them, and I had so much to do.

A man went by, in some kind of limping crawling fashion, and he seemed like the obvious solution, so I asked him if he wanted some mice.  He looked at me like I was crazy, and said of course he did not want mice.  I looked down at the mice in my hand, and then I realized that while I'd been worrying about mice, the tide had almost come in, I had become almost delirious, and I needed to get across the remaining sand while I could.  So I dropped the mice down into the snow cliff below.

I can't help thinking this has something to do with Sarah Palin.  Or with me not having my priorities straight.  Or with getting rid of things that I really shouldn't be worrying about (which is something I am strongly considering).  Or perhaps just with being a spacy coldhearted bitch.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Life In The Post-Feminist Playground

E (explaining why it's OK for her to wear a long dress to school tomorrow, even during recess): Boys run around the playground.  We sit, chat, and play house.

Just shoot me now.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

Renovation Update



The walls of the front hall seem to be caving in.

But my contractor pats me on the shoulder and tells me they'll fix it.  I heart my contractor.  Plus he's hot.  Kind of like Jon Stewart.  Only not.

Thursday, September 04, 2008



Double Standards

What would we do without Jon Stewart?

Google's New Browser

I think Chrome reads my mind.  Seriously.  I just went to look for a website that I don't think I go to that often, and I had only typed www., which I type all the time, and the first thing to come up was the website I was looking for.  Creepy.

Other than that, I'm pretty impressed.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

One More Thing

Victory in Iraq? What does that even mean?

Politically, I'd say it means they've crunched their numbers and decided their best bet is to get out their base, whatever it takes.


Competent speechwriter. Textbook work. Hit all the buzzwords.  Namedropped the right swing states.

But man, she's smug.

And how come that baby's always asleep, especially with all that noise?

And why on earth did McCain go out there?

And don't even get me started on the dye job that is Cindy McCain.

Bat Mitzvah About Face

Started stressing about numbers.

Abandoned elegant restaurant.

Going with Shriner Sons of Mason Elks Hall.

Checking out deli catering menus.

Anyone know a fun, cheap band in East Coast Big City?

I Don't Have to Blog Today

Because Dawn wrote the exact post I was going to write. Thanks, honey.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Meg Cabot Gets Indie Cred

M is reading the fifth Princess Diary book. She just announced that it mentions the Donnas and the Sahara Hot Nights within two pages. Wow.

You Knew I Wouldn't Be Able to Stop

When the historians take on this election, years into the future, or perhaps it will only take till next year when the reporters go on leave to write their books, they will discover that the signal issue in this election was not, as we all thought, either race or gender.

In the primaries, when we had a white woman senator from New York facing off against a Black male senator from Chicago, it was race and gender (and whether Obama is from Kansas, Hawaii, or Indonesia, he came into this election from Chicago).

But now, with the entrance of the white woman governor from Alaska, the issue has shifted--as I believe the issue has truly shifted in our country, as identity politics fades away into economic politics--to class, and, in particular, to class as mapped across the urban/rural divide which, in the last election, was the truest indicator of voter preferences (you could also call it, and somebody recently has, though I can't remember who, the cosmopolitan/local divide, which is easy to frame as hierarchical, though it really isn't) (and yes, I mean class in the complicated culture/education/career way, not simply the financial way--yikes, maybe I'm turning into David Brooks).

Race still matters, gender still matters (I'm still not David Brooks), but despite McCain's apparent belief to the contrary, he has a lot more in common with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama than he does with Sarah Palin (and Bill Clinton has a lot more in common with Sarah Palin).

This is where liberal bloviators risk digging us so deep we lose an election we should by all rights be winning. The Palins are like a whole lot of American families, probably a whole lot more American families than the Obamas are (and I say that as someone whose family is a lot like the Obamas--I'm guessing my girls' bookshelves look a lot like Malia and Sasha's, and I'm guessing all their bookshelves are a lot bigger than most--but also as someone who spent eight years right smack in the middle of the heartland, with a lot of families who look just like the Palins). And while I do believe that a lot of people will vote their policies not their identities in the coming election, at a certain point, if your identity is being battered, you can't help but want to stand up for it.

Which is why things like this and this, from the heart of the liberal elite (one definitively, and one I'm just assuming), are so completely counterproductive.

The Republicans are doing it to themselves this time around. Let's just sit back and let them do it, without putting ourselves in the position of appearing to be to blame. Argue that McCain's terrible vetting of Sarah Palin shows his bad judgement, argue that Palin flip-flopped on the Bridge to Nowhere, argue that abstinence education does not work and the vice president of a 72-year-old president should have more foreign policy experience than living across the sea from Russia, read this, but leave lifestyle and cultural politics out of it.

Edited to add: Bob Herbert, I'd definitely rather be Bob Herbert than David Brooks.

And Now For Something Completely Different

I want a Raclette grill! I loooooove Raclette, though part of the fun is scraping the melted parts off the big block o' cheese in a mountainous environment, which would be hard to recreate at home, at least at my home... [link from M]

What Has Become of Me?!

Today I'm even down with Brooks (his argument makes a lot of sense, except for the fact that, in typical Brooksian, "I'm so post-everything" style, he leaves out gender, which is kind of like talking about Obama without mentioning race--note to world: we're not there yet, people).

Mostly, though, I continued to be dismayed by the judgementalness of the mommy and liberal blogospheres and the overwhelming tides of self-righteous hypocrisy on every side of the spectrum (I've been sickly fascinated by the response of the right, though hanging out over there will make you despair of everything). Stuff happens in families; nobody is immune; she may have bad politics, but...oh god, I'm starting to repeat myself, so no more Sarah Palin unless something new happens.

Maybe I'll have some middle-school drama for you later.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Todd Palin had a DUI

when he was 22? Oh my god. So totally not relevant to anything. Do you know any trustworthy intelligent adults who had DUIs in their youth? Uh, I do (sorry, no identifying characteristics this time, but it wasn't me). I'm guessing if we vetted the reporting staff of the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Fox News, we'd find quite a few youthful DUIs. And it wouldn't matter!!!!

God, this whole thing is going to turn me into some kind of raging discreet moderate!

But We Can Still Talk About Palin's Positions

Libby is right: Rebecca Traister is totally on it, as usual. Which gives me the chance to point out something else I've noticed about Palin: she's not as simplistic as people want to make her out to be. I should have links here, but I don't feel like putting that much energy into this post, so I'll just point out that saying creationism should be taught alongside evolution is different from saying evolution should not be taught, and according to Traister, she has not been a huge advocate of abstinence-only sex ed, as people are insinuating. Maybe she's just being politically savvy, and there's a raving wingnut deep inside, but I don't think so. I do think joining a group called Feminists for Life has meaning, meaning that's complicated and as difficult for lots of pro-lifers to deal with as it is for feminists to swallow, and meaning that Palin seems to be walking as well as talking.

There is a lot wrong with Sarah Palin as a potential vice president, if you have my kind of politics, but demonizing her into a right-wing caricature is not going to get us anywhere.

Palin Pregnancies

I guess sometimes a belly is a bump, and that's all I'm going to have to say about Palin pregnancies (barring unforeseen--but at this point not unimaginable--further revelations).

Anything else--she should be home with the baby, she should have been home with Bristol, she shouldn't have flown home from Texas, she shouldn't be putting her kids through this--is mommy-driveby territory, and I won't go there (at least in public), and I don't think the Democrats or the bloggers or anyone else should either (except maybe Jon Stewart) (because aren't you just dying to see Jon Stewart, even though you know it's very very wrong?).