Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Breath of Snow and Ashes

The suspense is killing me. My favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, released the latest book in her Outlander series today. Of course, if I could have afforded to fly to DC for a book festival over the weekend, then I would have been able to buy advance copies - but I'm not that rich. I can barely afford the book in the first place. I've been waiting for it for almost four years (since the previous novel came out), and the fact that I still can't read it is killing me. I know I could stop at a bookstore or a Wal-Mart on my way home tonight, just so that I'll have it. But when I get home I'll have about 10 minutes before life creeps in - tonight it's a friend coming over for dinner (not my idea) and to watch the new tv show that I was all excited about until I realized that it premiered the same day as my book. Tomorrow I'll get off of work just in time to drive up to choir practice. Thursday I'll get home around 7 PM - and that will be the first chance I get to sit down and read my book. Because I refuse to do this in 10 minute increments, snuck in while I'm stirring a boiling pot. I want to be able to sit back with a glass of wine - or a bottle or two - and read the entire thing. Hmm..I'd better get a bottle of wine for my husband too. The last time I disappeared with a book he disappeared with my wine.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Commander in Chief

It's been a while since I actively tried to keep up with a TV show; between work and class, I'm rarely able to sit down at the same time on the same day of the week, week after week, to follow a group of people through the drama that is their collective life. I've always wanted to go back and watch The West Wing from the beginning, but have to content myself with catching reruns here and there, never knowing what season I'm in. Each show is good on its own, but if only I could get the whole picture. This fall season, I'm making the effort. Geena Davis is starring in Commander in Chief, and I can't wait for it to start tomorrow night. No, this is not going to turn into a feminist rant (my husband snorted when I told him about the show - "no woman would ever make it from VP to Pres", he assured me, "because some crazy person with a gun who thinks women can't handle it would shoot her first." Whatever. It's a TV Show, not real life). I love Geena Davis, and I think that after all of the movies/shows on Matters Presidential over the years that it's time a good actress gave the role a try. I'll save the feminist discussion for another time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Reading over my last post, I realized that I sounded a little overzealous. Yes, I believe that over-population is something the world needs to be concerned with. And although I have chosen not to have children myself, I can still understand something of the need to have them: to watch a part of myself grow and become their own person; to know that part of myself will live on; to be able to love a person simply because they are a part of myself, an extension of my life, an expression of the love I feel for my husband. The fact remains, though, that as part of the educated world I believe this is a responsibility as much as a right. To have a child simply for the sake of having one is to do a disservice not only to the child, but also to the world that that child must live in. I come from a fairly large family by today's standards, and I love each and every one of my nieces and nephews, to say nothing of my siblings and my stepson; perhaps I love them more precisely because I know I won't have children. Where is that line between love and social consciousness? When does one have to begin thinking of the world as it will be in the future and not just the world as I wish it to be? Comments, anyone?

What the world needs now is...

...more babies. I probably should have caught this a while ago, but Benedict made his announcement in the middle of the Katrina coverage, so my mind was on other things. The pope wants people to have more babies. I'm not sure why I'm surprised - I mean, the Bible is pretty explicit about this kind of mandate with the whole "go forth, be fruitful and multiply" thing. But today the world is quickly approaching overpopulation in some places. If a country actually manages to have a negative population effect on the overall surplus, then I think they should get some extra tax breaks, or maybe something really useful like free coffee. The point is, the world's population is still growing at an alarming rate. The poorer countries are the most over-populated because of a lack of medical knowledge and birth control. So let a few countries get a little behind on the baby-making process; the rest of the world will need the extra space. Or better yet, people could adopt the children that are at thousands of orphanages around the world - those children need love and support too. In fact, most of Europe has gotten it's population under control (their kids are taught things a little more useful than "just don't do it"). Even Zimbabwe has managed to cut it's birth rate almost in half in the past 20 years; how was one of the poorest countries in the world able to do this?
"The major reason for this drop is seen as a result of measures taken soon after independence to ensure all children, including all girls, had access to a full education coupled with the development of a wide and effective primary health care network."
Hmm...so with education and health care, women can learn to protect themselves and keep their family healthy? What a novel idea! So the point is, I think it's a little irresponsible of the Pope to say that just because the more developed countries are beginning to see a lower birth rate than they have to play catch up with the rest of the world. These countries are getting it right without any help, and the Pope is trying to throw them back in the dark ages. Or is he maybe trying to just counterbalance the Muslim population?

Russian Periodicals

It's no surprise when newspapers and journals up their subscription rates, since so many people can get online and read the news for free these days. As the number of people who are actually willing to pay for their news drops, people have to pay more; it's a simple thing to understand. One of our (few) English-language Russian periodicals is going through the same crunch - and has doubled its rate for next year. So that means that someone has to decide if it's worth all of that extra money. I don't know the first thing about reading/speaking/understanding the Russian language , and really don't have to in order to figure this one out. But looking for information on Russia has inevitably led me to a bunch of things written in Russian. Looking at the Cyrillic alphabet is totally different than looking at something in a foreign language written with an Arabic alphabet. If I look at, say,a French newspaper, I immediatly know that I don't understand it and move on. My eyes can make out the letters, but they are are too many of them put together with too many little accent marks all over the place. My brain says "don't even bother" and moves on. If I look at something written in Russian, however, my brain is stunned for a second. The letters look somewhat familiar, and surely if I squint at it enough, they'll rearrange themselves so that I know if I'm looking at something I don't understand or something that I can make some sense of. After a half of a second my brain sends the message "no, you still don't know what this is" and moves on. But for that half second I'm convinced I'll figure it out. It's kind of like reading something by looking at it in a mirror - it takes your brain a minute to understand that everything is reversed. Only with all these Russian papers, nothing ever clears up. Now, after two hours of this, when I switch back to English it still takes my brain a half second to decide If I can understand something or not. I think it is definately time for lunch.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Very Sad Story...

about a whale.

End of a Weekend

It's been a quiet weekend around here. StepSon had bronchitis, but modern medicine took care of that quickly. I had more than 7 hours of classes this weekend (all deeply mired in the ever-important Library Theory that could put anyone to sleep), but have happily resusitated myself with a few rum-spiked coffee drinks. And the Husband is happy because the new season of King of the Hill starts tonight. All is good with the world.

Friday, September 16, 2005

That Brilliant Church

I wanted to vent a little over Bush's once again inept attempt to excuse his behavior (and, I dare say, his very existence), but instead, I'll leave this link and the topic for later consideration, as I have other disturbing news to think about. I read this a couple of weeks ago and thought "surely not," but apparently it's true. The Catholic Church, apparently having either too much or not enough time on its hands, has decided that the simplest way to deal with the sex scandel is simply to keep any homosexual man from becoming a priest. The NYTimes reported today that each of the over 200 seminaries in the US will be reviewed. Two of the questions that seem particularly insulting to me:
"Is the seminary free from the influences of New Age and eclectic spirituality?" 'whether faculty members "watch out for signs of particular friendships".'
Also in the article is a warning:
"Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to male targets - like altar boys or junior seminarians - than to girls"
If they manage to keep all gay men out of the priesthood (they will even bar men who have been celibate for more than 10 years), what kind of message will that send out to the rest of the world? The Church should be one of the most loving institutions in the world, and instead it is seeking to make a group of men scapegoats for the real issue - the men (whatever their sexual orientation) that they train who have problems. Those are the men that should be sought out. But to assume that these men must be gay, or that all gay men have the potential to participate in these crimes is a gross over-simplification of the issue - and a horrible misrepresentation of facts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Almost Unbelievable

This story is one of the saddest that has come out New Orleans. It's about a doctor who made the decision to end her patients suffering; knowing they would die if she did nothing, she gave them lethal injections of morphine. This touches on many sensitive issues, none of which have easy answers. If I were dying a slow and painful death, I know that I would chose an easy way out without a moment's hesitation - I am quite the coward when it comes to pain. But do I want someone else to have the power to make that decision for me? Do I want it to become too easy to do, so that people can legally be killed simply because it's cheaper and/or easier than trying to keep them alive? What if I don't have the power to communicate my wishes, and someone else makes the decision to give me a lethal dose of medication? The summer before my senior year of high school I worked on the cancer floor at a local hospital. I saw many older, dying people. Some were in extreme pain, some weren't. Some were alone, some had large families. Some had been waiting for the end for a long time, and wanted it to come. Some would fight for as long as they could. One woman's daughter had brought a grandchild to visit. The little boy was only 5 years old, and the dying woman knew that the only memory her grandson would have of her would not be pleasant. Another man was thankful for each and every visit that his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren made to see him. He said that he had seen them more since he went into the hospital than he had in the previous two years. I don't know what the answer to this should be. It obviously has to be an option for everyone, or an option for no one. Is it worth keeping those who would use the situation unethically away from the possibility if that means that people suffer unnecessarily? Making a decision to end a loved one's life would be no easier than standing by and watching them suffer.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Making Some Room in My Life

That's it. After 5 years 8 months and 6 days, today was my last day at J's. Finally leaving the restaurant world is going to be soooo easy - I've been ready to get out for a year or more (I sound like I was in the mob or something) - but still..... What about all of the free food? There's no way I'll ever be able to get all of the free Medium Rare Prime Rib that I want anymore. And what about all of the wacky people you get to meet? Like the hat lady that comes in twice a week - each of her hats has at least one fake bird on it, and we can judge her mood by how many birds are present on any given day. Or the man that used to come in 5 nights a week that said in his English accent"My name is Lord Devonshire, but you can call me Mr. Devonshire" His father was supposedly an Earl, but he was a real jerk - then he got arrested for something crazy and we found out he wasn't even really British! And there's no denying that my bosses have given me some great presents! Gift certificates to day spas and the World Market, great bottles of wine, lunches that they cooked from recipes they created while in culinary school... And yet, I can't wait to be gone. I'm tired of the cutthroat atmosphere. The idea that nothing any member of management can ever do will be good enough, but that they had better give 250% (most of the time at the expense of their families), or else they'd get chewed out even more than their daily quota called for. It's never about the people that work for you or the people that you're serving food to. It's all about the bottom line, percentages and how much food has disappeared over the past week. If it could be a job that was about food and people (two of my favorite things in the world), restaurants would be fun. Instead, they're all about the money. I still think that everyone should have to work as a server for at least 6 months of their life. There is no other job that teaches you so much about the public; no other job that teaches you how to treat total strangers with the respect that they deserve simply for being alive; no other job that teaches you how to appreciate the little things that people in public service do to make your life better. Waiter Rant is a great blog on the idiocies of the public in general, with some sterling examples picked out for specifics. After 11 years and 3 months working in restaurants, thankfully, my time is through.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From around the web...

The Boring Page A little wacky, but believe it or not, it has also been translated into more than 10 languages...including Pig Latin. What kind of fruit would you be?....I'm a Golden Orange: "as bright as the sun, as tart as the moon. Strong and centered, happy and shining...you lead a healthy and exciting, open and vigorous life." Some of Alabama's crazy laws that are actually still on the books:
  • Dominoes may not be played on Sunday.
  • Persons may be placed in jail for up to five years for shooting a hole in a penny.
  • To be a dominatrix is illegal.
  • A US citizen can take possession of any foreign, uninhabited island, as long as it contains bird droppings.

although Kentucky has some better ones:

  • Throwing eggs at a public speaker could result in up to one year in prison.
  • One may not dye a duckling blue and offer it for sale unless more than six are for sale at once.
  • It is illegal to fish with a bow and arrow in Kentucky.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Well, that didn't take long....

I knew that they'd find a way to make a link between 9/11 and Katrina. How many terrorists does it take to construct a hurricane? Answer, anyone?

Feeling a little better

This is a great piece, all around. I'm already feeling better. But dare I believe?
"If there’s an upside to Katrina, it’s that the Republican agenda of tax cuts, Social Security privatization and slashing government programs is over."
And I think I'm going to love the Saturdays that I have to work at the reference desk for 8 hours, letting me wander the internet, blogging to my heart's content.


My ASS!! {rant on} The people who run this country are growing more asinine by the day. The America Supports You Freedom Walk is an occasion and an event meant to honor not only the thousands of Americans who gave their lives on 9/11, but also the people who had to put their lives back together again after losing a loved one, the people who risked their lives that day to save others - and are still risking their lives through their chosen professions. In a way, I believe this honors all Americans - or tries to - by reassuring us that this IS still our country and that we WILL defend our rights. Trust george's gang to mess up a day that should be dedicated to honoring freedom - after all, if they weren't protecting us from being on our National Mall at an event meant to honor all Americans while demonstrating a few of our freedoms - well, who knows what would happen? So here's what they're going to do. They're going to keep people off of the Mall - they'd probably be there for the wrong reason anyway, and we'll have enough people sign up to get a good photo-op. Oh, and as for the signing up thing - you'd better plan a few days in advance. You had to sign up by 4:30 yesterday if you wanted to participate. And you could only sign up online. So if you lost your home due to a national catastrophe - say a terrorist attack or a hurricane - and you have no way to access the internet (there are a surprising number of people that still don't have regular web access), then you're just out of luck. And don't even try to show up the day of the walk and think they'll let you join in. You might just get arrested. Of course, we all know what's really happening with this. george will find a way - in fact, he probably has an entire payroll's worth of people looking for the way - to turn this into a "stay-the-course-in-Iraq-for-national-security-reasons" speech. oh wait...I think it's already happened... {rant off}


I don't even know what to say about this. Or I do, but I don't feel like writing that much right now.

A Piece of Good News

But now for a little good news.... Part of the PATRIOT Act (regarding librarians and a gag order when they receive a National Security Letter) has been ruled unconstitutional. Can we all start to breathe a sigh of relief, or will our government find a way to take away this victory, too?

Dick and Disappointment

What I would buy if I were rich enough....just to give me the pleasure of watching and listening over and over again. and then I'd want to get a video of the same situation starring george instead of Dick. That'd be better than getting my hands on Park Place and Boardwalk simultaneously. This has been a rare light-hearted moment in a week full of disappointment. I've been surprised that among all of the emotions I've felt over the Katrina disaster - anger, helplessness, rage, bitterness - there has been a measure of disappointment. I've asked myself why. How can they still have the power to disappoint me? Disappointment implies expectations. By now, I thought I was past expecting much goodness and decency out of the Bush administration. At every turn they've made decisions that seem contrary to everything that we hold dear as a country - or, for that matter, everything we hold dear simply as human beings. So how is it that after almost five years of their meaningless posturing and back-slapping I can still be optimistic enough to hope that when it really counts, when thousands of people are on the line and there is actually some good that they could accomplish if they just lifted their hands and made a few phone calls (don't get me started again on the ones who were in New York living it up with...{deep breath}...), when people are - again- looking to george for guidance...how can I still hope that he'll step up to the task and act.....well, presidential? And I think the disappointment stems from my feelings of anger and helplessness. I've done all that I, personally, can do. I've given time, food, money, etc. , and when I ran out of resources I called a few people and asked for some of theirs. I know that the government can do more - they could have done more at almost any point along the way. Even while the hurricane was pummelling the coast, there were actions that could have been taken. This is a big country, folks. I've felt helpless at my lack of abilities, and anger at those who have the abilities and yet aren't using them to anything near the fullness of their potential. I say "they" because all though george is their Master of the Dark Rights, there are people who could have made a difference. The head of FEMA for instance - whose sole purpose in life should be to anticipate disasters of this magnitude in order to be able to more fully take charge when they occur. The people around Bush who could have said "maybe you could end your vacation a little early - since you've already set the record, and all - and try to help people out." And doesn't dear ol' Dick ever do anything?

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

He made it look so simple

My sister has already noted this story in her blog, but it definately bears repeating. Gore, the man who rightfully won the election in 2000, used his personal money to charter flights for people out of Chattanooga. He may not have inspired the nation a few years ago, but I bet he sure inspired some people when he put them on that plane. This article describes what Gore did:

"On Sept. 1, three days after Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Simon learned that Dr. David Kline ... was trying to get in touch with Gore.

Kline was stranded with patients at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. "The situation was dire and becoming worse by the minute -- food and water running out, no power, 4 feet of water surrounding the hospital and ... corpses outside," Simon wrote. Gore responded immediately, telephoning Kline and agreeing to underwrite the $50,000 each for the two flights ..."

"None of the airlines involved required a contract or any written guarantee of payment before sending their planes and volunteer crews," Simon wrote of the American Airlines flights. "One official said if Gore promised to pay, that was good enough for them" ...

About 140 people, many of them sick, landed in Knoxville on Saturday. The second flight, with 130 evacuees, landed the next day in Chattanooga."

I think that, just as with george, the man's actions speak for themselves.

Update: CNN finally got ahold of this story too, read it here. Let's hope that more people take note of what he's done and give him the credit he deserves.

Celebrate a Birthday

"World's Unlikeliest Bestseller" I love the Guinness Book of World Records. It's a book that contains more wonders than just about any other book on earth. I love bits of information that really have no value in and of themselves - besides being the winning Q&A in trivia games. So, celebrate a birthday, and take the Guinness Quiz.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


It started out as a perfectly normal Saturday morning in Domesticity Central. It was one of the weekends that the StepSon stays with us, so we were up late the night before watching all kinds of movies that only teenagers love (e.g., Dodgeball for the 199th time) or want to watch immediatly before going to bed (Carrie, followed by some movie so horribly gruesome I don't think the producers even bothered to name it). Satruday morning, it was breakfast followed by yardwork, which is where the uh-oh moment came in. StepSon didn't want to mow the yard. I have to admit, I'm with him - there is absolutely nothing fun about cutting the grass, only to find that you've become so sweaty that half of the grass is now stuck to your body. My husband, luckily, had the foresight to have a son so that we would not have to do such horrible manual labor ourselves. StepSon frequently disagrees with this view of the world. As his arguments escalated in pitch and volume, I found myself saying something that I swore would never cross my lips. "watch your tone...." Uh-oh. For most people, that means nothing. However, at one point in my life (I think it spanned about 5 years), my mother said those three words to me on at least a daily basis -probably because I, like many people in that age vacuum between the ages of 12 and 18, could inflect a mere two or three words - fewer, if the situation called for it - with enough sarcasm, disrespect and hostility to make a saint want to shake me. I came to hate those words. They reminded me that I wasn't quite at the point in my life where I could express myself as angrily as I wanted. I was old enough to have very definite ideas of how my life should be, and young enough to have no idea how to get there or make other people agree with me. I'm not one of those people who mind the fact that I'm saying things that my parents once said - after all, I haven't gotten to the point where I'm telling him to turn down his music. Still, it is a little disconcerting, to hear your mother's voice come out of your mouth for the first time. Maybe this weekend I'll try her famous "life isn't fair" response.....

Friday, September 02, 2005

Loss for Words....

I have resisted, so far, the urge to write down all of the wonderfully creative names for Bush that I have come up with over the past few days. Which is a pity, really, because some of them were quite good, and I'd like to remember them and possibly use them again. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure my mother reads this blog, and I'd hate for her to be shocked at her baby girl's language. I may be on the verge of losing my control, because of this. Unbelievably, our president has decided that we don't really need to get help from other countries for help with the effects of Katrina. All of these countries from around the world (including CUBA for the love....) have offered help. How does he respond? "Thanks, when can you get here?" Nah. Here's what he says: “I’m not expecting much from foreign nations because we hadn’t asked for it. I do expect a lot of sympathy and perhaps some will send cash dollars. But this country’s going to rise up and take care of it.” To be fair, it's not just Bush that's acting like an idiot. Cheney's AWOL (for national security reasons, I'm sure...), we're all admiring Condi's new shoes, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi both had some dumbass...um, I mean... riveting comments for Anderson Cooper . Thank goodness the government has everything under control.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Pirate Day

Something happened to my husband a couple of years ago when we saw the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. It really affected his brain. His son was similarly affected, and - I found out later - so were many more men. They all left the movie talking like a pirate. I'm not sure what part of the male psyche makes them want to drink like crazy, kidnap beautiful women and sail away into the sunset with canon blasts ringing in their ears. In fact, I really don't want to think about it for prolonged periods of time, considering I did marry him after he went through the pirate phase. I'm pretty sure it's the same part of their brain that makes them talk like cowboys after seeing a John Wayne movie, though. And I'm kind of grateful that I was born without whatever gene makes them lapse into loony bits of arcane dialects. So what brought on the Pirate thoughts? the fact that I discovered an entire day devoted to being a pirate: Talk Like a Pirate Day is September 19th. And for the truly hardcore (or desperate) there are the pirate Pickup Lines available for use.