Friday, October 31, 2008

"Profound Ignorance"

Just read it for yourself.

Palin claims her First Amendment rights are threatened by criticism.

I looked at Canadian real estate listings today. I did.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Toxic People

I've known most of my adult life that my sister is a toxic person. Mostly I deal with it.

A few weeks ago, I asked what her youngest son wanted for his birthday. She said what he really wants is for my C to come out for a visit next summer.

That is SO not going to happen. Bottom line is that I do not trust my sister to take care of my son appropriately. Period. It's why, when C was sick, my brother was charged with the job to NOT let my sister get on a plane to come "help." (Later, after C came home, she stopped speaking to me for several weeks because I had not called her personally every single day to give her an update. Apparently I "didn't understand" how worried SHE was. I kid you not.)

Anyway, I came up with something of an excuse. Off school schedules and the kids' preferred summer activities probably would preclude such a visit.

I asked if there was anything else. She said she'd think of something.

On this nephew's birthday, I called during the day but he wasn't home yet. I wanted to call later in the day, but the day got away from me. Bad, I know. I was kicking myself. The next day, when my sister called me, I spoke with this nephew and asked what he wanted. Again, he said a visit by C.

I was not about to promise something I could not deliver. I danced around it best I could.

In the meantime, I got delayed sending a card or anything. I admit another bad on my part. Finally at the beginning of this week, I sent a card and a Borders gift card. Late, I know, but I did it. Remember this is the woman who asked me if I was sure my own son's birthday was on a different day - that is to say, she does not have a perfect track record in this department. I cannot count the number of times she's been late with gifts.

In today's mail, I opened a letter from her that was seething with nastiness about how awful it was of me not to give her son what he wants for his birthday, not to call him on his birthday, and not even send a card.

What. The. Fuck.

Of course, this explains why she hasn't returned my phone calls over the last week.

This woman is a piece of work.

At some point I should go into detail about her visit in July. It was...interesting.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another Day...

...another attempted theft of the yard signs.


Way back in 1992 we were in upstate New York with some friends a week of so before Halloween. We picked some pumpkins from my friend's mom's farm (there were growing on the manure pile from the seeds of the previous year's Jack O'lanterns that had been tossed there) and carved what we considered at the time to be the scariest possible faces: Ross Perot and George HW Bush.

This year, C thinks the scariest possible pumpkin faces would be Sarah Palin and John McCain. It would be pretty funny, and patterns are available online, but we've decided not to let him do it. We are not going to bow to the negativity in any way. We are not going to go to the level of the people who steal yard signs and rant about"forged" birth certificates. We aren't going to get petty.

(I'll get a little petty here, but I'm careful not to talk to the kids in that way.)

I bet this set of signs will be gone by tomorrow morning. We'll put out three more. And so on, and so on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Both Ways

If a certain event is not big enough for you to postpone a the already ambitiously timed release of major project (the dates for which are fully under your control - and let me be clear that I think the event in question IS big enough for you to delay), then it's not an acceptable excuse for you NOT to do what you promised for me - three weeks ago! - as I work in support of that project and its release.

Just sayin'.

Not a Political Post

Surprise! No politics today. Maybe I'm burning out?

First, to follow up: that boy who was injured on Friday? He's going to be okay. Phew, phew, and phew.

Between that and M's annual cardiologist visit tomorrow, I'm a tad anxious around kid health issues.

We haven't seen M's regular cardiologist since last year's visit in which he declared the status quo, much to our relief. We also haven't seen him since he handed my husband a prescription for an ace inhibitor for M in the hallway with little explanation a few weeks later and the subsequent 2nd opinion visit with another cardiologist (who declared the status quo, so no meds for M thus far).

Had a very interesting conversation with my mom on Sunday. We're in different worlds, really.

So mid-afternoon, my niece calls M to wish him a Happy Birthday. I hear snippets of conversation over the course of several minutes. Then M comes in and hands the phone to me. I ask if he has talked to both his cousins and his aunt and uncle. He says yes, and that it's actually Grandma on the phone. Oh, okay. My mom is visiting my brother and his family for the afternoon. Cool.

So I say hello and my mother proceeds to talk at me for ten minutes or so, not letting me get much in other than, "Yeah," and, "Uh huh." This is par for the course with her.

Then she says, "It was so nice of M to call me."

Me, after pausing a moment: "M didn't call you. A called M for his birthday."

Mom: "Oh, yes, his birthday is around this time, isn't it. I just assumed he tried to call me at home and when I wasn't there, he was smart to guess that I was here."

All I could say was, "Oh."

We hung up the phone shortly thereafter. I sat there for a few moments wondering what the heck had just happened. My mother and sister are both so good at making absolutely everything about them. Wow.

Oh, and at the moment, this issue with the music company just might work out in my favor. We'll see.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Letter

This morning I picked up five more Obama signs. I put out two.

Within those two I placed a letter in an envelope. I stapled the envelope to the sign so that just a 1/2 inch is exposed and on that exposed 1/2 inch it reads, "Dear Thief."

The letter reads:

Dear Thief,

Thank you for stealing our yard sign.

In addition to attempting to subvert the political process, showing a complete lack of respect to your neighbor, and being a poor role model to following generations of Americans (threats to the democratic process, all), your act of petty thievery will have the following benefits to the Obama campaign:

1. The number of signs in our yard will multiply. If you steal one, we’ll put up two more. If you steal two, we'll put up three more. And so on. Since there is a charge for every sign, this will result in more money flowing into the Obama campaign.

2. We will make additional donations to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee as direct result of the thefts. So, if Barack Obama addresses the nation on the night of November 4 as the President-Elect and thanks all who helped him get elected, he'll be talking to you, too. You will have helped Barack Obama get elected. Likewise other Democratic candidates for elected office.

Of course, we'll also be reporting the theft to the police, so don't forget to look for yourself in the paper in a couple of weeks.

Happy thievery, and thanks again,

Committed Obama Supporters

We'll see how long these two last.


Our Obama sign.


On my way to get two more.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I haven't written much lately about C's health in relation to his illness, or fallout from his illness. I didn't write about it much in the spring. The first spring I blogged was very helpful for me to process the many varying emotions around the experience. I still think about that time in our lives, though. I think about it every day. And I never quite know when something will trigger a reaction related to that time.

This afternoon when C arrived home from school, I was on the rowing machine. He told me about something that happened in the final minutes of the school day. Apparently an 8th grade boy was walking from the office to his class, jumped to try to touch the ceiling and lost his footing on the way back down, hitting his head on the floor (C described it much more graphically). The boy was placed on a Med-Flight into a trauma center in the city. The school sent out an automated phone message shortly thereafter, and there is no update on the boy's condition yet.

C doesn't know who the boy is, but is concerned. However, hearing this threw me into a panic attack while I was exercising. Suddenly my vision was tunneling and I was having a hard time breathing. Knowing that there was a local parent going through something so awful and scary at this very moment is what triggered it. I can manage the general but less specific knowledge that someone somewhere is going through such a thing, though it makes me uncomfortable and squirmy to think about it. Knowing it so concretely still rocks me right back to the seconds/minutes/hours in that PICU room when we didn't know whether C would live or die.

So, if you would, some prayers and good energy for all the kids and parents in this world going though a medical crisis. They could use them.

I'll let you know if I hear anything.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Kindred Spirit

This morning I noted a piece on Huffington Post about a Goldwater grandchild voting for Obama.

The name Goldwater still carries weight for many conservatives, both in and out of Arizona - and even though most current Arizona residents haven't been there long enough to remember or understand Barry's impact, much less remember Goldwater's department store where I worked during high school.

My friend eba was kind enough to send me a link to a piece about another Goldwater going Obama.

The last quote made my day:

“Coming from a political family, I had insight into a lot of things,” Goldwater Ross said. Of McCain, she said, “I don’t have respect for him.”

A kindred spirit, on so many levels.


This afternoon, I picked up the mail as we headed out to M's annual physical appointment. In it was the town's weekly paper.

In the waiting room I flipped through the newspaper. On the letters to the editor page, there was a letter from a town resident about the presidential election.

The letter was so to say this.... stupid! So full of innuendo and misinformation. Seriously, watching Fox news would be a step in the direction of real knowledge for this guy. Among other things, it claimed Obama hates the US and all it stands for, has no regard for the Constitution, is a racist anti-Semite Marxist, and on and on.

It also went on to question whether Obama was born in the US, claims his birth certificate is a forgery, other ludicrousness (if Obama were elected it would throw the country into a constitutional crisis, for example). Oh, please. That's all been settled ( has it all), aside from the plain lunacy of it. And it's McCain we should question on that front; McCain was born in Panama, and was only declared a "natural born citizen of the United States of America" by a special resolution passed by Congress.

For a pro-McCain letter, it didn't even say a word about a "pro" characteristic or issue of McCain's. Only anti-Obama vitriol.

I thought for a long time about a response letter - what it would say, and whether I even should. My husband came home, and he had the best response. We may actually do it. It would read:

Dear Editor,

Thank you for publishing Mr. O__________ brilliant letter last week. What excellent satire it was! We laughed so hard, our sides hurt.

Thanks again for making our day.


But also today, after only four days, someone tried to steal our Obama/Biden sign from the yard. During daylight hours. (It might have been the letter writer as apparently he lives in the immediate vicinity.)

My husband was able to secure it a bit more. We'll see. I'm just getting so very tired of the nastiness in this town. I've mentioned before that it's a very conservative town. Apparently one of the values they are passing on to the kids is that it's okay to harass and attempt to physically intimidate kids who support the other guy. Meanwhile, I tell my kids to focus only on the positives about Obama, don't go to that nasty level. C is handling himself very well - but I just wish it weren't like this.

Anyway, if the sign does get vandalized again, we will replace it and add one, but inside the new ones we will write a note. I'd love for it to read something like this:

Dear Scared White Guy with a Small P***s,

Thank you for your act of petty thievery. Your disrespect of the political process and those around you will have the following results:

1. The Obama signs on our yard will multiply. If you take one, we'll put up two more. If you take two, we will put up three more, and so on.
2. We will make an additional donation to the Obama campaign. Yes, that's right. You will be directly responsible for the Obama campaign receiving more money. And if, on the night of Nov. 4, Obama addresses the nation as President-Elect, he'll thank everyone who helped get him elected by making a donation. You will be included in that group; he'll be thanking you.
3. We will call the police and make a report, of course. Don't forget to look for yourself in the police log in the paper!

Happy Thievery.

Or maybe not.

And on that note, good night.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Healthcare for Fifteen

Yes, she needed new clothes. But did she need $150,000 of new clothes? And does she need that much new clothing? Her clothing allowance works out to over $2500 per day. PER DAY! And that's only so far.

The economy is tanking. Retired people are having to back to work, millions of people are without health insurance, millions are sliding into poverty, unemployment is going up and Sarah Palin is getting new designer clothing. The campaign says they intend for the clothes to go to a charitable cause after the election, but are they really going to Goodwill or the homeless shelter in Anchorage? Really? Let's put some GPS chips in the heels of those boots, shall we?

If she's really like us, she (or her staff) would have gone to Marshall's and TJMaxx and the sale racks at Macy's to scrounge out appropriate clothing. Or Target or Kohls or WalMart. Wouldn't it have been better to look good on a seriously tight budget, like the rest of us? What about buying carefully so that pieces can be rearranged and resused?That might have connected with real hockey moms.

Yeah, I'd love of $2500 Valentino jacket. Or to have my daughter hold my Louis Vuitton bag for me. Or to have $75000 to spend at Neiman Marcus. It would be great. I love Project Runway, but for me, as it is for most people, that level of expenditure it's total fantasy. Total.

But if I actually had $2500? It would go to something for the kids (braces, musical instruments) or house maintenance. A single item of clothing would be the last on the list.

Yes, you can argue that this is a trivial point, that there are bigger issues to dicuss (not that the McCain camp will, but there are). But I do think this is representative of some bigger issues. The GOP and the RNC are completely out of touch on what is going on out in the small towns they claim to love so much. The "real America," as they say.

"Real America" gets frustrated at the rising grocery bill while the items in the cart are shrinking in size and quantity and doesn't see the point of thousands of dollars for a jacket from a French fashion house (and wasn't it the Republicans and all the "pro-America" areas of this country who were so hot to rename fried sticks of potato "Freedom Fries" instead of "French Fries.")

And yes, I say this as part of the "intellectual elite" in the Northeast. I probably don't have a true idea of what it means to be in these struggling small towns - but I do have brains enough not to insult their intelligence by wearing boots that would feed their family for a couple or three months.

$150,000. Amazing. The yearly budget of some socal service organizations, I bet. Healthcare for fifteen. Teachers. And on and on.

And let's not get me started on Palin charging the state of Alaska for the whole family to fly and watch her husband in a snowmobile race.

If this political party can't make appropriate spending choices for the campaign, there is no way I can trust them for four years.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The One Thing That Bugs Me About Obama

There's an article in the New York Times today about the health of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates and what has been disclosed and what hasn't. It points out that there are a lot of gaps in the knowledge about the relative health of all the candidates - and the ability of these people to fill out their duties is an important issue. You can read the article here.

Much was said about McCain, because there is much to say about McCain - you can read about his melanomas for yourself. There's stuff to be said about Biden. We know nothing at all about Palin. And not much is known about Obama.

What we do know about Obama is that he was a smoker. When primary season first started, it really turned me off. I felt much better about him when I read that he had quit smoking.

But the Times article says this: "Mr. Obama said he quit smoking in 2007 when he began his presidential campaign. But he has “bummed” cigarettes since then, he has said."

How disappointing. I understand he's under a tremendous amount stress, but the idea, in this day and age, and knowing the risks, and as a role model to so many, that he's smoking at all, even occasionally, is so disappointing.

I'm no saint myself. I smoked in late high school and college. Not a lot, but I did. But it was when we lived down south amid tobacco farms, it all really started to gross me out. A lot. Then seeing how the big tobacco companies were behaving down there - ick.

Then there was C's illness in 2003. I am so fanatical about lung health now. The idea of a smoking president is not at all appealing. At all.

I wish Obama would quit once and for all. He may or may not. As a role model to so many - not to mention his own kids - he should. I suppose as long as he doesn't allow himself to be photographed smoking, I suppose I can reconcile it in some way. Wish I didn't have to, though.

I recognize that this is a personal thing - both Obama bumming cigarettes and my being upset by it. It is not health care policy, foreign policy, economic policy. And that IS where the focus should be right now.

See, I'm not blindly biased here. I am not denying flaws exist in my candidate of choice. But I am still going to vote for him. Between the history and relative health risks of McCain and history and health risks of Obama, I'm still pro-Obama.

Damn straight I am.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Looks on People's Faces

At this very moment, I am sitting in the parking lot at church. C and M had to be here early for choir and my husband is taking S to a birthday party. I had extra time, so I brought my laptop and am trying to catch up on a few things, mooching off the church's wireless in the process.

A family (that I barely know) pull in beside me. Now, these are tight parking spaces, but with a little finesse it's possible to get in just fine. I did. I have a larger vehicle. But even if you are exactly centered in the space, you need to take care getting out. Even if you have a compact car. You just do. And this is true for every single space in the lot.

So the woman in the passenger side opens her door hard, ramming it into my car. My whole car shakes. I look up. The woman doesn't see me - yet. She steps out of the car - her car door still pushing hard on my car.

Then she sees me.

I smile broadly.

She gets that "Oh, shit!" look on her face.

Then she smiles weakly and mouths, also weakly, "Sorry."

I nod.

I look down again and keep at my stuff.

People get such looks on their faces when you catch them doing something they know they should not be doing.

On that note, time to go into the service.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Wait. Aren't Smart Elected Officials a Good Thing?

I mentioned late last month that there is in initiative in the state to have civilian flaggers take over many police construction site details (not all, though). The police are angry (and behaving inappropriately), but this is the right thing to do. Extremely budget-conscious - and we are facing big budget issues in this state, just like every other state.

Close on the heels of the governor's initiative, our local selectmen (in lieu of a mayor and staff, we have selectmen - one of whom is a selectwoman - and town meeting) bowed to pressure from the police department and added language to their contract giving the local police full control over staffing police details. Meaning, no civilian flaggers here, and the police will continue to get $40 an hour overtime pay for listening to their iPods. Mostly, anyway. Great.

This week in the local paper there was a letter to the editor decrying this turn of events. And it was someone I know. Cool, I first thought, and set in to the first paragraph. I was actually thrilled that the writer and I had something in common!

Within three sentences, the writer, CS, was ranting about "intellectual elitism" of our selectmen/woman. Aside from it having nothing to do with the issue at hand, and since the selectmen/woman are of the same political persuasion as CS (and all of whom are in contrast to this house), I wondered, since when is it bad to have smart people running our government? And what place does CS have to call anyone intellectual elitists?

Let me tell you a little about CS: He went to an Ivy League university (the one in Connecticut) and has an MBA from a well-known local university (though not the H). He runs a hedge-fund from his basement. He drives luxury cars and belongs to a local private club. He's doing pretty darn well for himself and his wife and four kids (who are extremely adorable).

In short, he has no fucking business calling anyone "intellectual elitist" in a derogatory manner. I think the term is "the pot calling the kettle black."

My sister does this, too, and it makes me nuts. By many definitions, she is an "intellectual" (though not by mine) and she's definitely elitist. She is college-educated with some graduate school, is well-read, she's affluent and well-traveled, and so on. When she tries to complain about "intellectual elitists", it's just a touch hollow. Just a touch.

It doesn't matter whether you are rich or poor or educated or not, snobbery exists at all levels of our society. The poor can be snobs about the rich just as the rich can be snobs about the poor, the more educated can be snobs about the less educated while the less educated can be snobs about the more educated (and I think we are seeing that in this election cycle). Yes, I recognize the difference between snobbery and elitism, but I happen to think CS really meant snobbery since he is part of the "elite". I know it's what my sister means.

I don't know how to get snobbery out of the equation as we move toward the general election. It would be nice. What I don't want to take out of the election is intellectualism. I want smart people to run my country. I want people who can make bigger connections than I can, people who can understand the economy, foreign policy and health care at a deeper level than I can.

It is not wrong to want the smart people running our country. I will not apologize for wanting that. Ever.

And if that makes me an "intellectual elitist?" So be it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Cure All


When the going gets tough, the tough go for chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers.

From the Police Log

Friday, October 3

2:25 p.m. T------ St., suspicious motor vehicle reported in area of town hall. Officer reports it’s a paper delivery person.

10:10 p.m. A----- Ave., animal complaint. Caller reports cow in backyard. Farmer on scene and has cow in tow.

Saturday, October 4

6:34 p.m. P------- Road, noise complaint. Caller complaining of loud machine noise that is disturbing his party.

Sunday, October 5

2:12 p.m. M------- C--- Lane, animal control incident. Cat refuses to come down from tree.

Monday, October 6

8:53 p.m. L----- St., annoying calls. Caller reports receiving a phone call from an unknown party looking for an unknown party.

Trying to Be a Grown Up

Last year I mentioned an issue we had with C's French Horn (mentioned in the third bullet here).

Since that nasty experience, I've avoided the instrument company. I cringe with every check I write to them (and make sure - just as I did before all this - that the check is NEVER late).

This summer, C's teacher told me it was time to move up to a better instrument. I was confused. I was told when the whole instrument thing started that these were great instruments, would take them through, etc. Apparently that is not really the case, especially in French Horn land. Single French Horns are pricey enough; doubles are, that's right, almost double.

While I was first annoyed that this wasn't wholly communicated at the start (as I might have been one to just go for the better instrument to start rather than having to do this swap thing), my bigger concern was how to deal with the instrument company. I can ask the music department to be more upfront with incoming students at another time.

I researched double-horns online. Ouch. From a straight cost perspective, ouch. Buy a new one and keep paying on the current one? Not in the budget. (Especially since another added cost this year is that the small group instruction lessons we were promised through 8th grade have stopped and now all 7th grade and up musicians have to pay for weekly private lessons. School budget cuts.)

I knew that the instrument company claims to do trade ups, etc., on the same contract, so as much as I disliked the company, I made a phone call. I felt stuck by the rental contract. But dealing with people we don't necessarily like is part of being an adult. I'm trying to move on here, trying to be that grownup.

I left a message. No call back.

I called again. No call back.

I called three more times. No call back.

This week, C's teacher called them. She sent me an email this morning, and without telling me the entire conversation (which I suspect was nasty on their part), said I should not expect a call back. They are refusing to do further business with me. C's teacher is great and is rather floored at their response. She's had a bad experience with them before this, too.

If I return the French Horn now, it's a straight loss of $1387.50. Yup. Almost $1400. To buy the rest of it out so I don't have to deal with them anymore is $1276.50. Then I'd need to buy the new horn somewhere. I looked online about selling this one, and there appears to be a glut of French Horns available for sale (not a time people are buying, and a time when people are trying to sell lots of things in general). No matter what route I go, it's a loss.

And this company is taking advantage in a tough economic time, ignoring the needs of one of the music students it likes to claim is so important to them.

Looking back on that heated exchange last year, both sides said things they probably shouldn't have. I can see that. But I stand by my original issue of the company returning a "repaired" instrument to me with a pencil inside. I suspect the company is digging in their heels so much because they know they were wrong on some level. Whether it was the original error of the pencil in the tubing while they were resoldering a strut or accusing C of sabotaging his instrument, it doesn't matter.

I've thanked C's teacher profusely and left a message for the head of the music department about trying to do right by a student. Isn't that the bigger point here? Getting kids involved with music, and keeping them involved?

If C didn't actually enjoy playing his horn, I'd just be done with all of this. I would.

Oh, and that solder point? It's broken again.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NetFlix Season

C might say I am not a "true fan," but I can't watch the carnage anymore. Not tonight anyway.

If we continue to play like this, there will be but one more game this (formerly promising) season, and then it will be NetFlix season. I have 40 or so movies in my queue that need watching, and I doubt any can disappoint me - even send me into despair! - as much as these last two games have.


Sigh again.

Muffin Top

I have had just about enough of this middle age thing.

I am tall and not overweight. I am not underweight, either, but reside in the lower half of the preferred weight range for my height. My BMI is very good.

I eat healthy foods in appropriate proportions and enjoy the less healthy stuff in moderation.

I exercise - quite a bit actually. My exercise includes abdominal work.

And yet, I have a muffin top. One that seems to be getting worse.

I hear this is middle age hormones.

I am not amused.

I'll Take it Where I Can

Anne Lamott makes me smile.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Something I Thought I'd Never Do

I was in Girl Scouts growing up. I hated every minute of it. The girls in my troop were snotty and nasty. Though I was very good at selling cookies, I wanted out as soon as I started. My mother said no, and emphatically.

I realized shortly thereafter that it was a battle I would not win. Scouting was expected of me. Period. I would, somehow, some way, get my First Class ranking (a designation since retired from the program). My mother had been in scouts, my sister, other female relatives (and all my male relatives were expected to be Boy Scouts, and achieve Eagle). Notice I said "expected" not "encouraged." There was no way out.

So after years of those blasted troop meetings and camps and everything, I did the bare minimum to get my First Class...and immediately bolted for the door. I never looked back. I think it's kind of interesting that I dislike Girl Scouts so much since I ended up attending an all-female college and loving it.

While not as severe as my experience, my husband did not have a particularly good Boy Scout experience - although his brother did. My husband's parents, however, let him quit.

At some point through the years, my husband and I talked about scouting. Neither of us felt like it was something we wanted to promote to children of either gender. From a general comfort standpoint as well as political and moral standpoint, we weren't comfortable.

I'm not saying either organization is a bad one - they aren't. We just didn't feel comfortable buying into an organization that promotes discrimination (on the male side), or one that (in my experience) promotes narrowly defined gender roles (girls side).

When C brought home a notice about Boy Scouts six years ago and initially expressed interest, I didn't know what to do. I hemmed and hawed. I said we'd talk about it. Eventually he learned that most of his pals were not doing it, so his interest waned. Fine with us.

My husband and I talked about it again. We agreed that if it did come up again, we'd gauge our son's interest and if he really, really wanted to do it, we'd give it a try. But we wouldn't necessarily bring it up. The subject dropped completely.

M brought home the same notice a couple years ago and we ignored it. He ignored it. I thought we had dodged the Boy Scout bullet and only needed to avoid the Girl Scout stuff from now on with S.

But last spring, M decided he wanted to join Boy Scouts. At first, we thought it was a phase about wanting to spend more time with his best friend who was in a troop and it would pass. Nope. He declared again and again that he wanted to join. Finally we agreed to give it a try - in part because his best friend's mother is the den leader. She promised to take him under her wing, understanding our parental ambivalence.

Now we are in - and it's already kicking my butt. I was just putting in all the meetings into our family Google calendar and, oh my goodness, it's a lot. Not to mention I cringe whenever I have to take M into the local Catholic church for meetings (local Catholic leadership are an interesting lot).

M is so excited, though, and I am trying hard to respect that. We have not given him details about why we are ambivalent - or even that we are ambivalent. We've said since we are really busy as a family anyway, we just want to make sure he understand the commitment, and he assures us he does.

I know scouting is all about your group and the individual experience. I know people love it, and other people hate it. My brother and his son are involved with scouts, too, so M already has their (positive) interest in his experience. My sister, though she hated Girl Scouts as much as I did, loves Boy Scouts and was a leader for years. It could all be very different going forward and I need to keep an open mind.

But I still can't believe we're doing this.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Hitchcock Moment

There are literally hundreds of birds in the trees out back of the house.

They are making such a racket! The dog is freaking out.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It Sounds So Good

Getting lost amid the presidential debate this election season are ballot questions of all sorts. One question in particular on our ballot has been pretty much swept under the rug in the he said-he said drama of the Presidental debates.

Question 1 on our ballot asks whether we should repeal the income tax.

It sounds so good doesn't it? I agree! Wouldn't it be nice not to pay that tax every year?

I think that first thought is what promoters of the question are counting on. That first thought! Yes! Smaller government, yes! Circle in. Go on to the next questions, the presidential election, turn in my ballot and walk out the door.

At which point the voter stops and thinks. After it's too late. What did I just do?

How will roads and schools get funded now? What about the programs I depend on - whether I realize I depend on them or not?

We have a flat income tax rate here, comparable to Utah's, and the flat rate is even down from where it was in 2000. Yes, for some on the lower end of the income scale the tax is higher than in other states - but for people on the upper end of the income scale, it's a bargain. People call this state "Taxachusetts" but it's not, really. I paid far more in taxes as a percentage of my income when we lived in the south - the cost of living was actually higher, too.

Income tax revenue accounts for about 40% of the state's budget. Imagine your budget going down by 40% instantly. It would have a pretty devastating effect for most of us. And now that the global economy is in flux and revenues are down in other areas...gulp.

From a state perspective, think 40% less snow clearing in winter, 40% less of the bridge repairs, 40% less for already budget strapped schools, 40% less for food programs for the young and the elderly, 40% less for the justice system.

But yes, also 40% less for questionable programs. I hear that.

If the ballot question were about repealing income tax over time while providing for developing other ways to generate substantial, sustainable revenue for the state, I might be into it. But that is not what it is about.

I don't love paying taxes. I don't know anybody that does. While I think tax dollars could be spent more efficiently in some (many?) cases, I recognize that part of my role as a member of this society is to pay taxes that support our government and programs in my community. I do enjoy paved roads and police and fire services and the school my kids go to - things like that.

Unfortunately, if question one goes through - and it may if there isn't a concerted effort to help voters understand what is truly at risk - we are all going to suffer.

So here, I am, promoting typical "tax and spend" liberal values - because it's just not as simple as that. It sounds so good to repeal the income tax, but it's not. It's really not. Not right now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Remember 2004?

Remember 2004 when the Republican party was solidly behind W and the Democrats were grudgingly behind Kerry?

Have you noticed how, for the most part, that's changed? Republicans are grudgingly behind McCain (one ultra-conservative pundit famously promised NOT to vote for him) and the Democrats and fired up and (mostly) united in their support of Obama.

While I think allowance for and tolerances of differences of opinion are part of what makes the Democratic party a good place, the lack of unity (perceived or real) hurt the left in 2004. I admit I wasn't particularly fired up about Kerry - and I thought his speech at the convention in 2004, particularly the introduction, was a tactical error.

In spite of the rancorous primary races on the Democratic side, I think the Democratic party is united behind Obama, and that enthusiasm draws independent voters in this direction.

Granted, it took me a while to get here myself. By summer, I knew I would support Obama in the end, but it took until late August for my whole heart to be here.

I was a Hillary Clinton supporter, you see, and not just because she was a woman, or that she and I share a couple of experiences. She's so damn smart. She knows the issues inside and out and backwards and forwards. I knew that if she were elected she would do an amazing job. Not that I necessarily liked her in a "let's have a cup of tea on Wednesday afternoon" way, but I thought she would work her rear off for the American people, Democrat AND Republican.

But the primaries didn't turn out like I hoped (and I think sexism played a major role, just like the race issue is an unknown issue for Obama, sadly), and I accepted that I needed to throw my support behind Obama. What turned the tide for me for supporting Obama was how he handled the Palin pregnant daughter issue.

I wrote around that time about the expectations of political families, and I stand by what I wrote. And even though Obama could have made some great points about hypocrisy and reality in that situation, he didn't. He took a very high road, and I admire him for that. It turned the tide for me. Obama is the class act in this beauty pageant.

I know Obama is not perfect, and I am not about to claim he is. No single candidate is perfect. Every single one of them is flawed in some way - and some are showing more flaws every day! But I believe with my whole heart and brain that Senator Obama is the best choice for our country in the coming years.

So people, lets get out there and get our candidate elected. We need this. Our country needs this. The world needs this. Our children needs this.

That Didn't Take Long

The tshirt.

I'd consider actually ordering it, except that I prefer it read "That One '08" not "Thatone '08".

And that proceeds go to the campaign.

I may, though, work on my own and print it to iron-on transfer paper for M. He's been asking for a shirt of his own (since C has one).

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Excuse me, what?

Two words.

"That one."

Senator McCain, one of the major things you are going to have to do if you are elected President is work with people you don't like. Foreign leaders and Democrats, just to name a couple.

"That one."

But if you can't be civil to your opponent in this Presidential debate, I doubt your ability to be civil to and reach out to those on the opposite side of the political spectrum, or the opposite side of the world.

Monday, October 06, 2008

He Says Potatoe

In light of the current VP candidate on the GOP side and her verbal gymnastics, anyone else thinking about the Dan Quayle years?

Aliens Invade the Magnolia Tree

Imagine my curiosity when I looked up at the magnolia in the backyard and saw these:

I was initially concerned they were some sort of gall (like the wasp galls we had on some oaks in the spring). A Web search, however, seems to indicate they are immature magnolia fruits. Amazing what you find when you use "alien", "growth", and "magnolia" as your search terms.

Ready for a Closeup

Sunday, October 05, 2008

An Appropriateness Issue

We've had fun watching a whole lot of post-season baseball this weekend. I was sad to see the Cubbies go (though I have mixed feelings about Lou Pinella given his years in Tampa), sad to see the Brewers go (with Gabe Kapler there, their silly mascot - and that my mom spent a large part of her childhood there), psyched to see the White Sox step up, and now am biting my nails through the game about 35 miles north of here (and so pleased at my boyfriend's performance thus far - I was rooting for a grand slam in the 2nd, but I'll take that 3 run bloop).

What I am NOT enjoying is the commercials for V*agra, C*alis, and "Z*ck and M*ri Make a P*rno" (asterisks to try to fool search engines into not showing up here).

I mean, really. Are such ads appropriate for a Sunday afternoon? Am I doomed to explain what a "p*rno" is to my 4 and 8 year olds? And e**ctile dysfunction, too? I understand that there are plenty of target consumers among baseball fans, for both pharmaceutical products and the movie, but there are families watching, too.

And let me tell you - I really like Kevin Smith movies! Dogma, for all it's crassness, was also really rather smart - and a wicked piece of satire. Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy - they are all well-done movies. OKay Jay and Silent Bob strike back can go to the dumpster, and I never bothered with Jersey Girl, but for the most part, he's a director I respect. This movie may well be a decent movie, but it's subject matter isn't appropriate for family-time advertising.

So I've been really quick with the remote, but I hate that I have to be. I just wanna watch some baseball.

It Just Keeps Getting More Dumbfounding

WARNING: If you lean to toward the politically conservative, you might want to click Back. Now.

There's this.

I'm pretty sure that the quote was taken a bit out of context anyway.

That said, I think she just answered Katie's question about what she reads regularly.

And this.

Sarah must be getting speech advice from a lady in York, PA.

And this.

I'm thinking Katie was just as annoyed by you.

And this.

Yes, I realize this was meant to be a joke, but, really. Given where the polls are at all over the country, sounds more desperate than funny.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Where is James Carville When You Need Him Most?

In spite of my interest in, and ire about, the political race in the country, I've felt something was missing. Namely, those spot-on, edge of snark comments that cut straight to the heart of the matter.

We've been missing James Carville in the spotlight.

Oh, I know he's been around, but he hasn't been as vocal lately. His smart-folksy demeanor would be such a welcome counterpoint to the GOP's we-think-you're-stupid-folksy

I miss him.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mid-afternoon Munchies

Is there anything better than a piece of fresh, soft, slightly warm bread spread with softened (unsalted) real butter, then sprinkled with sea salt?

Didn't think so.