Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Where are you from? How do you know?

My linguist friend and I had an interesting discussion last night about who was more "from LA," the future Mrs. Linguist Friend (who has lived in South Carolina for two decades but was raised in LA) or my old college roommate Melani (who was raised in Lynchburg, Virginia but has lived in LA for the last five years.)

He said it's where you were raised and that of course your formative years shape who you are the most. I can see some truth to that, but I said where you decide to live, giving as examples of how the future Mrs. Linguist Friend makes her own food, gardens, and has knitted herself a sweater with multicolored state map on it while Melani bitches constantly that she's not as pretty as the other women in LA, complains about the food everyplace but LA and is in general far more given to both trendiness and complaining than she used to be.

CC has always pretty much been a Northern Virginian/Washingtonian. Raised here, chose to live here. The CSO is in no way a guy from Charlotte, North Carolina. But I know people who grew up in, say, Great Britan, who still seem basically British.

Ok, so what cultures do y'all come from? Which influence who you are the most?


Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Dangerous Minds

Imagine the sort of person who spends their vacation figuring out potential crime scenes. Where you could hide someone, how you could dispose of a body.

You're thinking about roughly CC.

Little bit creepy, little bit cynical, fascinated with mysteries and something of a schemer by nature.

The Chaliceboss is opposite of that person, a sweet-natured, socially and religiously conservative, mother of two who wears Christmas sweaters all December and actually saw that "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" movie.

And she just came back from Aruba full of stories about how one could dump a body just anywhere and the sharks would eat all the evidence.

I expect this stuff from ME, but geez...


Does anybody else here dream movies?

Last night I dreamed an action movie, or really half of one. My college has a music festival every year and I dreamed that these punks with AK-47s took over the music festival and were holding my college hostage.

The most logical thing would be to call the cops on my cell phone, but this was clearly an action movie, because instead I escaped into the woods (by diving into the lake and swimming there) and was planning to live there for a few days and sneak back in and save the campus, rescuing TheCSO in the process. The "living in the woods" part is especially ludicrous as CC has all the forest survival skills of Zsa Zsa Gabor.

I'd met a few people in the woods whom I hadn't known well or gotten along with while in school and we'd formed a resistance movement that was equal parts Justice League of American and Breakfast Club. I'd taken out one of the guards and gotten his AK-47 and snuck back into the woods.

I don't even watch action movies, but this is about how they proceed, right?

Anyway, it was about then that I woke up.

One time this spring I dreamed a horror movie where, I swear, zombies rose from their graves at Arlington National Cemetery, were marching through DC disguised as a Veteran's parade and were going to take the White House. I knew about it and was trying to stop it, but nobody believed me. My linguist friend would later point out that the zombies might have done a better job RUNNING the government than some people.

I'm a little confused as to why someone who herself prefers funny movies like "Joe vs. the Volcano" and "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion" or smartypants movies like "Cold Comfort Farm" and "Tea with Mussolini," would be dreaming this other stuff. And why am I dreaming movies at all? I mean, can I not get away from formulaic plots and Hollywood production values even in my dreams?


Small victory

Down 1.1 pounds. At this rate I will look damn good by the time I'm 50.

Yes, getting up at 2:20 a.m. to weigh oneself sounds like something out of a Lifetime movie, but I swear I was awake anyway.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Quote of the Day

That was offensive. And lame. So double offensive."

-The Office

who has noticed that the Boss on The Office is like a parody of Jennifer Beautiful's ex-husband, but has decided not to tell her.

CC's church marketing idea

Last night, the Chaliceparents and the CSO and I took the ChaliceRelative out for dinner for her birthday. Conversation, as it often does, turned to my parents' church, a kickass Gothic cathedral right off Dupont Circle in downtown Washington.

The minister is a hippie, and not the cool kind like Edie. He thinks guitar music is just the thing for making a Gothic Cathedral homey.

My mother's big complaint is that the man has little respect for history. (To be fair, this is my mother's complaint about a lot of things.) My mother said that she'd tried to talk to him about doing things in a way in line with the church's history and original mission and he'd blown her off. If the church isn't doing well, then the old methods must not work. So let's rearrange the pews!

CC said "Well, couldn't you try a recruiting campaign more in line with the church's original history?"

The church's origins, which of course can't appear on the website because Pilgrims is too cool for that now, are that there used to be northern Presbyterians and southern Presbyterians, but there was no Southern Presbyterian church in Washington DC. So the Rev. Andrew R. Bird went all over the south, hat in hand, collecting money to build a southern church. (If I sound like I've heard and told this story a million times, it's because I have. I hope they still tell the kids about that.) At Pilgrims, the pews have little plaques saying they were donated by this or that southern presbyterian church. It's way charming, I swear.

When I was a kid, my mother took me around to each stained glass window (they are arranged in classic cathedral style, with the childhood of Jesus on the left up front and going around the church to the crucifixion on the right front. The ascension is at the back of the church, keeping the minister properly inspired) and explained who was in it and what it meant and that Andrew R. Bird's granddaughter died when she was four and the little girl in the blue dress sitting next to Jesus in the children's window is her. I've repeated this tour many times for friends of mine visiting the church.

Anyway, so my suggestion was, we look back to our original mission. We're a church in Washington DC who was put together to minister to pilgrims. My particular hammer when it comes to marketing is direct mail because I write it sometimes for my job.

My idea was to get the presbytery to give us a list of every presbyeterian church in the south. Then, the minister writes a letter to the ministers of those churches, politely saying "If someone from your congregation is moving to DC, tell them about us and give us a call. We'd be happy to help them out in their transition and be a spiritual home for them. Leaving home is scary and ministering to pilgrims is part of our mission" Send said letter out. It will probably cost a few hundred dollars to do and ministers might file such a letter away and keep it for years until little Suzie announced that she'd gotten into Georgetown, at which time the minister might remember it.

The ChaliceMom was THRILLED, saying that was a great idea, it could actually turn up some new members, it was well in line with the church's mission, and was the sort of thing hippie minister should be thinking of.

The ChaliceRelative, who was always one for raining on parades, said she thought it would be awful because to send something like that to the southerners would be reinforcing the denominational divide that the Presbyterians fixed about 1966. ((A fix engineered, by the way, by Dr. Randy Taylor, who might be my mother's hero. A former Pilgrims minister (who married my parents while he was there,) he went on to head the denomination. He came to speak at my college when I was there and I told him about them firing Mary-who-Dances. He didn't intervene, but he did talk to her and talk to some people in the church and try to work things out. Heck of a good guy.)) My impression is that nobody cares about the denominational divide anymore, but the ChaliceRelative clearly does, so I didn't tell her that.

Anyway, the conversation went on with the Chalicerelative arguing that my plan would be in some way racially offensive for a reason I never quite understood. But it was an interesting conversaton.

who was going somewhere with this story, but has now forgotten and has to go to work.

We Americans just hate science, don't we?



Good reading

CC finds herself really enjoying The So-Called Neighbor Saga, in which iBeth recieves a petition that her neighbors have written objecting to the color of her house, and then goes around confronting the ones who signed it (and thanking the ones who didn't.)

Given how quick I am to sign petitions typically, I suspect she will find a few pissed-off nieghbors and a bunch who objected a little bit but wouln't have said anything and mostly just signed impulsively.

CC has never lived with a homeowner's association, but theCSO has. When we pass someone who has, say, a bathtub Virgin Mary in the front yard, theCSO likes to say:

"Gee, nothing says 'I don't have a homeowner's association' like that!"


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Oh my goodness

I have discovered that if I balance just right,

I can blog and instant message while on the ski machine AND watch Boston Legal.

This is a good day in the physical fitness history of my life.

Atoning for half of an extradietal peanut butter sandwich. And blogging. And watching William Shatner and Candace Bergen snarking on each other. At the same time. Life is so good.

You kids did NOT tell me...

Apparently, Seminarians are a wild bunch. The always amusing Society of Mutual Autopsy has a lighthearted essay on the subject.

I have to admit, ministers must walk a weird line. Circa 1966, my high school best friend's mother went to the doctor on an army base. She married the doctor a year later. I know that doctors and ministers could use their positions of power in an abusive way, and I guess the possibility that they could means they shouldn't ever.

Of course, I've gone to the church of a minister who regularly used his congregation for a dating pool, dating three different women. He made a tacky joke from the pulpit about one of them (though he didn't give her name.) I thought that was awful. But joke aside, I didn't necessarily have a problem with his behavior. I thought he was major icky and wouldn't have dated him myself, but hey, whatever.

I guess the joke is the problem, though, and how things like that tend to happen because we're all human and human beings sometimes behave badly when their relationships go south.


Ps. I cannot WAIT to see The Corpse Bride. I heart Tim Burton.

Run that by me again?

Said about Fred Phelps:

I wouldn't normally give this crap any kind of attention, but it really gets to me that there are actually people out there who think God capable of hatred. No matter what one's image of God/Goddess/Spirit may be, it seems to be inherently cognitively dissonant to claim that God hates anyone. How arrogant, to claim to know the mind of God.

I don't like him either, but I see a logical disconnect here.


Hire a famous novelist

Neal Pollack is looking for work.

This is kind of depressing.


Bell curve debate

Andrew Sullivan has started it again. If you need to be able to argue that the Bell Curve is bogus, here you go.


Saturday, August 27, 2005

CC's favorite hippie.

Hung out today with Edie-who-sells-books. She keeps a list of my interests and favorite authors and has a cubby for me where she stashes things she thinks I would like. My erotica collection, which I kind of started by accident but which has continued to grow, got two additions including a book of short stories about passion among married people. (And her not having to put erotica on the shelves is probably good.)

Her used bookstore actually has a sign on the wall that says "Hey y'all, got any erotica or trout fishing books?" And credits me with the quote because I called that out one day several years ago as I walked in and Edie thought it was cool, so she put it on a sign on the wall.

It's just that sort of place.

Today she asked if I were interested in 300 playboy magazines from the 1970's on for a buck apiece. Umm... No. Books of dirty short stories are a collection. Old magazines are just junk. (Yes, someone with lots of money could probably make a profit on Ebay with those. If you'd like to take them off Edie's hands and do so, shoot me an email on my chalicechick at gmail account and I'll give you her number.)

Edie is an affable hippie whose political views decorate her store in the form of bumperstickers on the bookcases. Old guy conservatives come in to by civil war histories and comic books and end up hitting on her anyway though because she's really quite lovely. She has a voice very much like Madeline Kahn and in a casual conversation once mentioned that she sleeps naked, a fact I relayed to the CSO the next time he was having a bad day.

"If all hippies were like Edie," the CSO just said "I'd be OK with hippies."

I am Edie's favorite stringer and she will buy books from me on my reccomendation. I will sometimes go to sales and buy books for her and I have a running list of authors she's looking for on my blackberry at all times. I fight dirty at booksales. I wear a tanktop and a pushup bra because one time distracting the guy across the box of books from me for one second was all it took for me to score a particularly nice copy of The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Recently, I've decided I need a complete set of first editions of the Horatio Hornblower novels for life to be complete.

Guess I'll just have to hang out with Edie even more.


Science snark

Gotta love it.

who was apparently feeling very political today. The fact that most of this morning's posts are pretty liberal may come from the fact that CC wrote some of them in Trader Joes.

Trder Joes doesn't take American Express. Grr. The last place I went that didn't take American Express was in Ohio. Actually, nowhere in Ohio takes American Express. Trying to buy stuff with an AmEx card there is like trying to get your Volvo fixed in New Orleans, which, trust me, sucks.

Greta, Greta, Greta...

No, really, missing white people ARE big news. The biggest!

She says that we have an epidemic of missing people. "Hooge!," as Trump would say.

CC seems to notice an epidemic of DYING people, but that's nut big enough for Fox News.

Have I mentioned how much I heart mobile blogging?


Yes, John McCain is a cool guy

But he's really quite conservative.

who has had to make that point several times over the last few years and thought she would strike pre-emptively this time.

And he likes Philocrites, too!

John Stewart rocks my world.

Wanna see Christopher Hitchens get his ass handed to him on the Daily Show?

Here it is in quicktime.


Questioning the standard liberal view of things, or as we call it here at the Chaliceblog, "Tuesday"

If we're bitching about the fact that poor people can't get fresh vegetables, why do we bitch when Wal-Mart wants to open up a supercenter with a grocery store downtown?

I don't want one in my town, but there aren't a whole lot of poor people in my town.

Thinking back to the Wal-marts I've been to, I know that upper middle class people hate them.

Poor people seem to love them.


Ps. I know it's Saturday. Tuesday's a funnier day.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Adults rule!

3 of the 5 top-rated movies are rated R. Two of those for sex.

Upshot: It's getting profitable to market to adults again.

Thank goodness.


The Universe shifts out of Alignment

Shania Twain has made a good song.

I know, I just heard it and I barely believe it myself.

Like all her music, one imagines it will be at its best when performed by a drag queen.

But still "(Men are like) Shoes" is an actual good song.

And all the little devils are wearing ice skates.


The Afterlife.

Both Unity and Peacebang have written about the afterlife recently, and it have been on my mind, too. I was planning to finish Alan F. Segal's Life after Death before I wrote a post on the afterlife, but it's sort of a slow read and I've been busy.

When I was a kid, I was not allowed to attend adult parties. My parents only ever had one. They didn't have a lot of friends and this was people from their church. But in parental desperation for adult time, they threw a cocktail party and sent CC to bed. (Her brothers weren't born yet.)

Naturally, I spied on the party.

Years later, it occurred to me that my first imaginings of the afterlife, which featured a bunch of adults at a party on a really big cloud drinking multicolored beverages and talking animatedly, everyone in modern cocktail clothes except for George Washington, who is for some reason in his Army uniform, were really of that cocktail party

Heaven was adulthood.

This is the clearest example of my theory that for those of us who are somewhat theologically unsophisticated, our vision of heaven gives us something we think we are missing in life, even if that afterlife is, say, eternal freedom from stimulation.

At some point in my college years, I figured out that my island is sort of an afterlife vision as well.

Katy-the-Wise and I were talking about the afterlife one time and she said she couldn't imagine a heaven that wouldn't get boring. I think of my childhood vision of an eternal cocktail party and have to agree. Her theory is that the only form of heaven one could really stand is eternal contemplation before God. I am a somewhat visual thinker, so as soon as Katy said this, I imagined her sitting alone in a movie theater, talking to the screen to a God who communicates in the picture and the sound. I like to think she gets popcorn. When Peacebang and I were discussing this, she noted that probably a theater that allows smoking would be good, too.

I think eternal contemplation before God sounds like an interesting afterlife. I think having our souls, who aren't us anymore, join some sort of collective force for good, is also possible. The idea freaks me out, though. I don't want to be a soul that's not me bouncing along the either, at one point bumping into a soul that's not my linguist friend or a soul that's not Jennifer Beautiful. Our personalities and our lives might not be significant to the eternal force, but as far as I'm concrned, they are all we've got.

The souls in the force for good thing is beyond what I can deal with right now, and the contemplating before God seems lonely. I can't get my head around the concept of God as the eternal BFF.

So I've decided there's a pre-heaven. This movie theater has a lobby. And all my pals are there. You can wait there as long as you want, eating snacks and playing video games and hanging out with your friends. When you're done with working stuff out from your life and are ready to contemplate, then your show starts.

I've already challenged Peacebang to pinball.

who was about ten years old when her friend's mom, Jane, died. Within a year, the friend's dad, Leroy, married Sue. Whether Leroy would hang out with Jane or Sue in the afterlife is something that bothered me as a kid. I finally decided that Jane would have him Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Sue would have him Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Sunday everybody would hang out as a family. At 27, this is still the best I can do on that one.


The Modo Blog has a cool post on medical malpractice.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

OK, to be truthful, I actually sort of enjoy saying "I told you so."

Because I did.


Alas, poor Voricks

The poor California couple whose lives have been screwed up by John Loftus should sue.

Somebody emailed me Loftus' home address and I thought about posting it, but I'd hate to be wrong.


Tell it.

We all know that CC gets rather zealous on the subject of church not being the place that tells you what you want to hear politically.

Today, Peacebang gets her wrath on about a related topic, being told what you want to hear religiously.

Though I have special dislike for the practice when it is about politics, even doing it religiously doesn't work for me.

After the church I grew up in fired Mary-who-Dances, my first stop was the MCC since I figured that since gay issues drove me out, the MCC would be a good place for me.

They were just way too happy over there. And I'm sure those people needed to hear that everything they did was just fine with God (and in a choice-of-mate sense, I'm sure they are right, but they preached it in a far more general lovey-dovey sense than I am comfortable with), but it was all too happy-yet-theologically conservative for me.

Call it my Presby roots, but I like to be afflicted and challenged in church. It doesn't feel right when I'm not. I usually bitch about having to hear about how the congressional Republicans are trying to ruin social security* and other sermons that tell me that "See, the liberals ARE right."

But really, having my own theological comforts so relentlessly catered to isn't any better.

Anyway, upshot is: Peacebang's post kicks ass and takes names.


* Ahem. Let's be clear. Some congressional Republcans pulled for it, but it was the lack of enthusiasm among congressional Republicans that killed SS reform. And frankly, SS reform would have given us Al Gore's lockbox and it was always going to be voluntary. It wasn't the best deal for everyone and it wouldn't have saved SS. It likely would have given the government WAY too much power over the stock market.

But it wasn't the level of political evil a social policy should have to be to get talked about in church.


So a few weeks ago, I read on an old BITB comment that you could find the worst UU website ever by googling Unitarian thong. So I did it, which got me the UU church in Las Vegas. Their site didn't look all that bad to me, so I assumed I did something wrong. I was having a distractible sort of day, so I didn't keep looking, but just went on to do something else.

Tonight, I showed theCSO the last post basically to get his OK on the fact that it paints him as a city planner rather than a fighter. He reads Fausto's last few comments on the "Bad Unitarian" post and decides to find out what the original Unitarian five points were as he shares my disdain for the UUA seven principles.

He decides to google Unitarian Five points, and, of course, as he types the first few words, Google cheerfully offers to complete the phrase "Unitarian thong."

Silently, he gives me the funniest look I have ever gotten.

"I love you," he says.

OK, sleeping. Take four.


Zoning restrictions

So around the time of CC's third attempt to go to sleep tonight, theCSO climbed in to bed gleefully declaring that the new comprehensive plan for Fairfax County is now online.

Oh joy.

He says I should read it and he will quiz me. I suggested he summarize the high points, but he says he will email me the whole thing.

For practice, he asked me where in downtown McLean the county was planning to put in a traffic circle and I got that one on a lucky guess.

We TIVO county council meetings.

It's safe to say that we both played way too much SimCity as kids.

It was about then, then being about 2:30 in the morning, when we heard banging around downstairs. Arguably CC would be the bigger threat in a bar fight, but researching weird noises in the night is theCSO's job.

He comes back up to report that I might want to come downstairs.

An obviously intoxicated Oliver was there with a friend whom I hope was his ride. He was searching through his old stuff for some identification papers.

"Guess what! Mom and Dad bonded me out! I'll take care of Grandma for a month so Mom and Dad can come stay with you!"

Oh joy.

Taking things in a stride given that the trial is in like three weeks anyway so likely this will solve itself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I don't get it.

Tomorrow CK starts a cabbage soup diet. Like one would expect from someone who has the self-discipline to only eat cabbage soup for a week, she's skinny.

The concept of recreational dieting blows my mind.

Down two pounds this week at the cost of several yummy meals. Oh well.

A bad Unitarian?

The receptionist at my office is Mormon. She needed a place to stay for labor day weekend. Labor Day weekend the CSO will be in Atlanta at DragonCon, so some company would have been nice. I was telling another Mormon friend that I was considering asking her if she'd like to crash in my guest room.

The friend said that this wasn't such a great idea, that Mormons have a very different lifestyle. So I was like "OK, I'll cancel the orgy for that weekend, come on, a house is a house."

Then she asked if I had any rated R movies on the Tivo. I honestly hadn't any clue. I don't pay attention to movie rating. Why would I?

OK, so she was probably right that I'm not suited to have Mormon houseguests unless I give the house a real looking-over. But what got me the most was what she said next,

"I watch rated R movies anyway sometimes, I'm a bad mormon."

I said something lame about how given the way Jesus talked about those sorts of behavior restrictions, he likely would have been on her side. Right then she got a cell phone call and when we started talking again, we talked about something else.

The concept of being a "bad mormon" and that she thinks she is one still bothers me. She delivered the line in the tone of one who is trying to sound blase about something serious. I'd probably say it the same way if I thought I were a "bad Unitarian."

Which leads me to another question. We don't have "bad Unitarians," do we?

What do we get out of not having them? What do we lose?

To some degree, I think that not having rules for living is a good thing. Most of the Mormons I know whom I've discussed these things with have a general "I want to be a good Mormon, but life keeps getting in the way" cast to their thinking. Sometimes, the kids just won't go to church. Sometimes, divorce is the only option. Etc. It's probably good that we don't make people chose between faith and lifestyle.

Yet, at the same time, I've never thought of myself as a "good Unitarian," either. I am, as Unitarians go, pretty zealous, but the same can be said for anyone else who has a blog on the subject. Being a Unitarian is a comparitively big part of who I am, I think, compared to most UUs I know. I really do give issues of faith a great deal of thought, and not just because that raises my page hits when I do. (Though it does.)

But I'm still bugged by the whole interaction. Part of me wants to say to my friend "Hey, you live a really good life. And seriously, I think God has bigger things to worry about." another impulse almost wishes that, as a UU, I could have some sort of objective standard to tell me how I'm doing in my faith.

But then maybe with scales and bank balances, life gives us enough objective standards and it's good that UUism gives us an arena where it is OK to hang loose a bit and see what develops in the long run.

Still pondering this stuff. Obviously.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

TIVO comment

"House" is kinda hot. But every episode of his show has exactly the same plot.

Still, I laughed at the following dialogue:

Dr. House: Are you Jewish?
Woman: Yes
Dr. House: Is it true what they say about Jewish foreplay?
Woman: Two hours of begging?
Dr. House: I heard four.
Woman: I'm only half Jewish.


Evolving the discussion

OK, just about every post I've seen on the UU side about evolution has been to some degree sneering. And that's fine. We're blogs. Snark is what we do.

But at Tapped, Matthew Yglesias gives the actual survey numbers.

People believe we should be:

Teaching evolution only 12
Teaching creation only 23
Teaching intelligent design only 4
Teaching all three 55
None of these 3
Unsure 3

Umm... Wow.

So, as Yglesias notes, those of us who believe in evolution only are seriously in the minority. Perhaps it's time to stop sneering and start actually discussing these issues?

How do we get these ideas across?

The sneering doesn't seem to be working.



I actually did get as indignant as I was supposed to reading this article. I mean, my opinion of Utah justice is not high and even I was a little apalled at arresting the paid security guards at the door (who had been confiscating drugs) for drug posession.


Assassination: Cheaper, yes, but not a precedent we want to be setting

I was going to write a post on assassination but Fausto wrote a better one.


Asked and answered: Clarifications on Cindy Sheehan

All of the responses I've given over email and on here summarized in one big post.

1. I do not support the war. I don't like protests and even I marched against it. That having been said, I think Sheehan's insistance that we pull out immediately is naive. I also basically support Isreal as an imperfect copy of Democracy in a very un-Democratic region of the world. Other than that, as far as I've read, she and I are more or less on the same page.

2. Yes, what happened is awful. Were she my friend bitching to me across my kitchen table, I would totally be there for her and not criticise anything she had to say. But she has deliberately chosen to become a political symbol. In criticizing her, I am taking her seriously.

2.5 Her marital problems and changing opinins are irrelevant to her message. Her lying to CNN about the email is only relevant as evidence that she may not be the great symbol for us that we want her to be.

3. The "being the mother of a soldier gives her special wisdom" card that people keep playing is a very dangerous one for the democrats to use. Let's not kid ourselves, most soldiers grow up in families that have the sort of values that produce soldiers. Those families are mostly Republican. Trust me, there's an even more sympathetic mother with a son who, say, died a hero saving his buddies, with pro-war views waiting in the wings for the right moment. The more liberals say "But she lost a son, she has moral authority,"the more we set the stage for her.

4. What I object to about Sheehan is her tactics. She is using emotion rather than reason and more importantly using religion as a political weapon. When the president wouldn't meet with her, changing her demands to asking him to pray with her was tactically very clever. It has gotten worldwide attention. The press has gotten across the "President won't pray with the mother of a dead kid" message very well. But I object to her using religion to score political points and beat up the president. Yes, the President does the same thing. Nearly this entire blogosphere objects when that happens. We should be objecting when our side does it, too. It's wrong.

5. To over-simplify, Anti-Semetism is being against Jews. (Yes, I know that "semite" can mean Arab. But we're going with the commonly-understood definition and I said I was oversimplifying.) Anti-Zionism is being against the idea that Isreal has the rights to the portion of the Middle East that they want.

6. Yes, I've seen the "Cindy Sheehan is a prophet" post. I don't consider her a prophet because so much of what she has to say on the "Who cares about the Iraqis and the Israelis? Just bring the Americans home!" front is so very shortsighted, which is the opposite of what I think a prophet typically is.

But let's assume for a moment that she is a prophet. From what I've read about prophets, most of them are not ready for primetime politically. She's already lied to Anderson Cooper about an anti-Zionist conspiracy to rewrite her email to Nightline, again, a story that would have been more believable if she hadn't sent several copies of the email out.

If we want to treat her like a prophet and learn from her, OK.

But we should not be confusing her with a Messiah, and I think that's what we're doing.


Monday, August 22, 2005

A new college ranking

Washington Monthly is doing something interesting. They are ranking colleges by how much good they do for the world.

Of course, CC's alma mater St. Andrews was nowhere near the top of that one, either, though, for what it's worth, they are doing a neat thing on the Black Mountain poets in October. I would go, except I expect that would lead to lengthy exposure to hippies. As y'all know, I'm allergic.

Anyway, I haven't read enough about the Washington Monthly's project to completely endorse what they've done, but they are smart folks over there and it's worth taking a look at. They seem to have taken a thoughtful approach and I look forward to my paper copy arriving.



Had a long night full of unsettling dreams.

(Don't you hate it when someone gives you a note in a dream and you wke up before you can read it?)


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Gee, I thought it would be funny...

but it turns out that at least the first one is post-secret-level depressing.

Masturbation Horror Stories.


Clean house, boring blog

Sorry guys, I went on a little manic spree yesterday, deciding after Grandmother duty that I was going to paint my dining room and rearrange the furniture myself. It was wacky. Thing is, it looks great now. I did faux plaster walls, moved an oriental carpet in and moved the fugly chair in as well, covering it with a brown cloth. I bought and hung brown drapes and moved the first bookcase from the library down. Soon I will move some more and line the walls and have a really spiff study.

I moved the dining room table into the living room, took out the leaves and am calling it a desk. Probably at some point, I will swap the piano and the new desk, which will put the piano back in here. But even on a manic spree, I wasn't moving the piano.

Anyway, upshot is, my dining room looks awesome. The rest of my house is slightly yuckier from all of the clutter that got moved in, and my foot has been unhappy about my having dropped a table leaf on it, but I will survive.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

The whole Sheehan mess

I hereby offer to subscribe to the first non-nutjob news source that runs similar-looking pictures of the Terri Schiavo Pilgrimage and the Cindy Sheehan pilgrimage next to each other because that would be funny. I wonder if anybody was at both.

I really don't like this woman. Yes, asking Bush to pray with her is giving him his own medicine. It's also treating religion as a cheap political tool. And it's tacky.

I can't say that she's a nutjob anti-Zionist. I can say that she keeps sounding like one

Am I emotional? Yes, my first born was murdered. Am I angry? Yes, he was killed for lies and for a PNAC Neo-Con agenda to benefit Israel. My son joined the army to protect America, not Israel.

and that has won her some pretty strange friends.

(Yes, I know she claims she didn't write the letter that way and some scary anti-zionist made changes to it before sending it on to nightline. Would be a more convincing argument if she hadn't sent other copies of the original version to other people. Slate looks into it here. )

I guess part of the issue is that as much as one would like Cindy Sheehan to be a symbol, she's a person.

But as effectively as she is using religion, emotion and all those other things liberals are supposed to be bad at, I'm still kind of grossed out by her.


Friday, August 19, 2005

Work Nerd.

How sad is it that the three bosses at my firm either took the day off and left at noon, and one of them called to say the rest of us could leave at four, and I'm still here because I had stuff to do*.

Pretty damn sad, that's what I'm thinking.

Other sad things:

  • I actually defended Tyler last night in class because he was thinking his way through a math problem out loud and the other students apparently decided that I was going to say "yep, that's right!" and move on or something because they kept interrupting him with questions.
  • Desperate Housewives won my poll with 62 percent of the vote
  • I just realized the (fully clothed) Asian lady on CK's calendar is Michelle Malkin. I peeked and next month is Condi, who, despite my toothism, I'd rather look at.
  • I drove Stupid Dog home from the hospital. He was wearing one of those Elizabethan collars one puts on a dog to keep him from chewing himself. My big worry was that people looking into my car would thing I was one of those lame people who dress their dogs in silly outfits.

OK, printer is done. I'm sending some faxes and going for sushi at the sushi place I think of as Caligula's because after you've eaten at their buffet, you feel like life can offer you no pleasure that you haven't seen.

*No, blogging doesn't count as "stuff to do" but I'm printing a big document so my computer is sort of busy.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Unitarian Universalist with humanist leanings suggests you read about the agnostic Hindu going Kosher

Ever wondered about how keeping Kosher works??

CC has.


Alone in the House Tra-La!

I love and adore my dear CSO, but I am so happy to have a weekend to myself.

Right now, all I can hear are the birds and crickets. Boris, one of the cats (lest there should be confusion), is cuddled at the end of the bed and I am starting to feel the first flickers of a long-awaited chilling out.

Stupid dog is still at the per hospital soaking up money. Boris and Disco are fed and life is good.

I wonder if the TIVO caught tonight's CSI...


Balance in all things

Since I posted the thing about the Baptist Easter Pageant I hated, here's something I wrote two years ago about a UU play I didn't like:

Today in church, the "sermon" was a play written and performed by members of another local church.

The actors clearly meant well, and their acting was reasonable, but the play itself was, well, appallingly bad.

Not only did it beat you over the head with the point, which was as subtle as "the Patriot Act is really bad and will destroy everything loveable about America," but it had the corniest dialogue ever.

We're talking it took place in the town of "Ashcroft Falls." The heroine was the town librarian and the villain was a small town cop who spoke in dialogue reminiscent of Andy Griffith having a really, really bad day. Needless to say, the cop didn't even attempt to give a reasonable argument in favor of the Patriot Act.

It was the sort of thing that would have been sort of cute in an RE class of precocious 10-year-olds but was truly sad to see done by adults. I am mortified that they are actually putting it on public access TV so the entire community can see a bunch of UUs acting like partisan buffoons.


Admit it

You think this woman is a little bit cool.


This would be sweet

Too bad it's a hoax


Birthright UUs

By Jeff's description, I feel like I was raised UU. I wasn't, of course. But my anger at Christianity was mild and short-lived. You can see it at about its worst in a snotty but sort of funny essay about Baptists when I was about seventeen. (A professor friend and her daughter had thought that this church was having a spring concert. It turned out to be this weird pageant. To a presby kid, a gold fabric heaven seems pretty fucked up.) Anyway, that is literally as bad as I got right there on that page.

Yet, like Jeff, I've known lots of converted UUs who have gone on being snotty ex-Christians for years. (And I also see new people come in who love having freedom, but don't really grok the reason component of our faith tradition.)

Also, Jeff suggests that people raised UU aren't interested in making a big deal over whether we're a religon or not. (That we are seems obvious.) The core of our tradition. (It's a core of method rather than a core of belief, but of course it's there.) What should we do with the roots of our tradition? (Know them, use them, but still be us. Calvin comes up less in the presby church than one would think.)

So I do feel like I'm a "birthright UU" in the sense that Jeff talks about. And on beliefnet there was a lady who had been raised Unitarian who flung every one of these reasons at us as a reason why UUism sucks.

One could argue that my deal was that while I wasn't raised UU, I became a UU pretty young. And that this lady was angry at the rest of the world, too, so why not be angry at UUism.

My guess is that it comes from several long conversations with Katy-the-Wise I had in the first month or two I was going to a UU church. I wanted to learn about UUism, not take the first UUism idea I heard and run with it.

But if some people raised Presbyterian can get here, and some people born Unitarian don't, maybe it isn't about where you were raised.

What is it about then?


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Dog update

Dog is in surgery. Is expected to recover but be very expensive.

Am aware, yes, that "my Siberian husky used the glue that we're using in redoing our house to ruin my oriental carpet" is the definition of "luxury problem."

Back to work.


Totally Anonymous Poll: Camel Birth? Or Desperate Housewives?

PB writes in her blog post about that Weeping Camel Movie

It's slow-going, but if the sight of a half-born camel colt's hooves hanging out of his agonized mama's hindquarters doesn't grab you, definitely get back to "Desperate Housewives."

Sounded like a good topic for a blog poll to me.

Camel placenta? Or Eva Longoria in one more tacky lace nightie?
They let Felicity Huffman ACT? Please, the camel
Bree Van de Kamp is my future self. Besides, I hear Terri Hatcher will deliver a camel baby in season two anyway. Put me down for "Housewives"

Free polls from


Stupid Dog's Midnight Snack


Why CC was so cranky at work on Wednesday

You may recall that, like a good kid, I was going to go to sleep.

No such luck.

At 2 a.m., the CSO shakes me awake.

"We've got a problem," he said.

We have never, in our nine months of marriage or our five years of relationship before that, had a problem that necessitated waking CC up. CC sleeps badly and the CSO respects that, to be truthful even more than she does. To him CC's sleep is sacred, a fact that mildly freaks her out as when she was a kid, her father's sleep was sacred and her father hasn't turned out so well. But that's another confessional.

Upshot: Some guys who work for the Chalicemom who had been hired on the weekend to do some work on our house and garage had left something called "Gorilla Glue" lying around someplace and Stupid Dog had chewed open the container, leaving a big glob of glue on CC's Oriental Carpet that she got from her grandmother, who got it from CC's Great Uncle Woody's trip to somewhere nobody remembers 20 years ago. In looking on the internet for how to clean the rug before CC saw it and went postal, the CSO discovered that Gorilla Glue is deadly poisonous to dogs and expands in their little dog bellies, killing them in a slow and vomit-filled manner.

CC sleepily suggested calling an Emergency Vet and waited in bed until TheCSO came up to say that Animal Poison control had said that Stupid Dog needed a vet immediately.

We came downstairs and while the CSO got Stupid Dog, CC briefly mourned the carpet, examining the spot that will always look like a circle of glue four inches in diameter and sniffling for a moment before reciting the homeowner's Greek chorus: "We'll put a lamp over it."

The vet was very nice and very reasonable about the fact that we know nothing of this dog's past as he had been abandoned at our house by CC's other brother Jason (the semi-employable chef who only goes to jail for things like driving with a suspended liscense.) For awhile we had three unemployed chefs living in our basement, which was not nearly as cool as one would think as it turns out that Chefs regard cooking as work and when they are off the clock eat only Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

When the chefs left, the dog stayed. When we asked Jason what the dog ate, he said "Deer."

We asked what he name was and Jason wouldn't tell us. So we named him after one of CC's clients. Jason would later freak out and say the dog's name was "Wolf." Too little too late. As far as his vet is concerned, the dog has the very fine name we gave him and as this incident has us facing the fact that we now own Stupid Dog, soon he will have a dog liscence under that name as well.

At 3:23 a.m., the vet told us that she's not sure if the lump in Stupid Dog's stomach is food or, well, glue. So Stupid Dog is getting a $600 night in the vet's for observation.

We went for breakfast.

"I'll have scrambled eggs, whites only. And toast, but dry wheat toast. A diet coke. And can I get fruit instead of hashbrowns? And bacon. No, just regular bacon."

So now I am back home, having left a message for my boss and hoping to catch a nap before I transfer the dog mid-morning to the non-emergency pet hospital which will be cheaper.

Damned dog.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I'm beat

I should have lots of cool stuff to say, and I do, but keeping my eyes open long enough to type is going to be a problem.

Maybe I'll be better in the morning.


Monday, August 15, 2005

CC as a Southpark Character

Too cool.


Kickass Post

Left Coast Unitarian has a very good post here that I will comment on in greater length after work.


Grr. New York Times editorial.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Judith Miller is a princess. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Judith Miller is still a putz and "If she is not willing to testify after 41 days, then she is not willing to testify. It's time for the judge and the prosecutor to let Ms. Miller go." is bizarre logic. The comparison of whichever high-level asshole Miller is protecting in the Bush administration to a whistleblower at a factory is straight-up laughable. Recognition that people Miller worked with in other countries are in danger and may die/ have died because this secret got out needed to be part of the editorial for it really to examine the issues fully. To duck the complexity and hang onto a moral standard that they are defining to mean they can write whatever they want is so much crap.

If we had a sheild law, it probably wouldn't help this woman as nailing someone leaking the names of CIA agents and protecting sources that have given you permission to testify would likely both be exceptions.

Think of it this way: As long as she's in jail-she's not out finding this next great source that she can share with the administration, only to discover after a few thousand more people my age die that Iran didn't have WMDs either. (Ooopsie!)


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sorry, CC, your life isn't interesting enough, but maybe if you were pretending to be Eleanor of Aquitaine...

Yet another UU blog is saying that our blogs aren't properly amusing him. How odd. He says that in looking at a bunch of blogs he sees only personal confessionals and politics screeds. Still odder.

I suppose that both of those happen here, though my most recent personal stuff has mostly confessed that I find I am having to really struggle to be the ever-flowing teat of nurture and unquestioning love that women are supposed to naturally become when there's a sick old person around. That's not a confessional in the typical sense, but I'll give it to him anyway.

Still, even giving him that, I am totally baffled as to how he could read our blogs and come up with the idea that those two are all or even most of what we do.

His suggestion is fictional blogs, historical fiction blogs and alternative history blogs. This is under, one assumes, the theory that if Fausto is a cool guy and Paul Revere was a cool guy (two premises I agree with), then a blog where Fausto pretended to be Paul Revere would be twice as cool. That math doesn't work in my head the way it apparently works in Dan's.

Anyone who finds the idea of a fictional character blog that interesting is welcome to check out The Lotion and the Basket, which is a woman pretending to be Jame Gumb, the serial killer in Silence of the Lambs. No greater Silence of the Lambs fan than CC walks this earth, and she thinks the writing on the blog is good as people pretending to be serial killers go, but still, something about a fictional blog leaves her cold.

A guy wrote a pretty famous blog as Julius Caesar. Again, well-written. Again, leaves me cold.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if you want people to do something with their blogs and are planning on getting snarky about it, at least be nice and:
  • Check out your local RSS aggregator and verify that your claims about what they are currently doing are really fair
  • Google to see if five thousand other people aren't already doing it and
  • Hop on blogger yourself and try your suggestion out to see if it's really, really hard to do well.

Personally, I find people writing about their own lives interesting enough.

who, yes, is aware that Master Yoda's Blog kicks ass. It's the exception that proves the rule.

Sounds great on paper

My grandmother duty intersected with my cousin's yesterday. She had brought along her eleven year old daughter, who has actual potential to be cool. The kid was complaining that she still hadn't done her summer reading.

I nearly said "Don't put off your summer reading to the night before the first day of school or you'll end up like me."

And then I thought "Yeah, you'll end up a party planner married to a guy who is much cuter than you are."

So I made fun of the Scarlet Letter instead. Eveery kid hates the Scarlet Letter. it went over big.


Saturday, August 13, 2005

Morticia would be proud

Philo is talkin' about Environmentally Correct Funerals. One of CC's college friends wants to be buried stark naked with a seed in his hand.

Were that legal, I would be totally down with that.


Was it a God? Was it your subconscious? Does it matter?

On how I think Humanists should treat people who have had an encounter with the holy. From Gatheringwater's ever-pouring coffee hour thread.

I'm pretty standard issue humanist as far as I know, and I do tend to approach such things with skepticism. But I'm not rude about it. I do believe that sometimes our dreams are significant to what's going on deep within us. (E.g. I dream often of saving people and protecting people and indeed the tension of wanting to save those who cannot be saved or who do not want to be saved is a major one in my life.)

While I think that is a psychological deal and not a spiritual deal, I have respect for it as a process.

Online, there's little point in getting into such things unless you've known one another for a long time. Offline, my general standard is that people who ask God constantly for minor things and talk about it tend to think the world revolves around them in other arenas. But people who have had one significant experience needed to be told something.

I'm not willing to call it God, though I might not tell them that. But I am willing to help them out.


Indrax is my new BFF

The comments are fixed.



Posts that make you go "Aww..."

I certainly didn't expect to find one on the official blog for Family Guy, but there it was.

who didn't believe Our-Hero-Charlie-the-Vanquisher the first seventeen times he told her to watch Family Guy, but loved it pretty much from the moment she caved and watched it. Except for the fart jokes. CC hates fart jokes.

Must I defend THIS GUY to the death, Mr. Voltaire?

I've never liked the man, but I must admit that I'd rather see Garrison Keillor pulled off the air for better reasons.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Update on the comments function.

I still can't make them work. If anybody who is really good with blogger wants to give me a hand, I'm not too proud to accept it.



Grandmother's back at home with my parents. I have a day off from Grandmother duty though tomorrow I will be over there. Kinda bums me out because the American Museum of Visionary art is having a sale tomorrow. I probably shouldn't be spending the money anyway, but goodness that place cleans out my soul.

It's sort of weird that I one of the more effective people for grandmother duty. I can often talk her into eating, something my cousin has never achieved. (But then, my cousin does tend to talk to people like they are small stupid dogs.) The nurses encouraged me to come around, saying she is better when I'm there. "She likes you," one explained.

And Tyler was back in class last night. Last week, I called my supervisor at the testing center and asked her if she'd talked to Tyler about why he was taking the class again from me when apparently my teaching didn't work last time. "He says he likes you," she reported.

Funny, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be popular.


Ps. I do have opinions on religious humanism, of course. I'll get to that tonight maybe.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The stars are against me

This was my horoscope this morning:

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

After mating for the first and only time, a young queen ant burrows underground, where she lays about 20 eggs a day for 10 years. Sometimes you remind me of her, Cancerian--lately, for instance. You have been animated by an almost insatiable drive to create. You've been spinning out little miracles and making everything fresh again and again and again. The astrological omens say you'll need to take a break soon. Do this under your own power, please, so that fate doesn't have to force you to do it.

Does that sound like blogging or what?


Is it just me? Or did she look at me funny? Is she mad at me? What could I have done?

Today Grandmother may come home.

I'm a little paranoid myself, but my visits to Grandmother have me really sort of worried about my own paranoia. (Can one get more self-involved? Oh well.) I've always been a little bit paranoid. When the bosses at my company all meet together and have a hushed conversation behind closed doors, I always find myself worried that the company's future or mine is tanking.

I've always told myself that the paranoia was a healthy thing. If your boss is in a bad mood, you might not be the cause, but you might be, so you better work harder and behave yourself at work.

But Grandmother, wow. Every nurse is out to hurt her. (Though once the anesthesia went away, she stopped thinking that the African-American nurses were ESPECIALLY out to get her, to our unanimous relief.) The doctors want to steal her money. We want to hurt her. It's really depressing to be around.

I'm making it a minor life goal to be less paranoid. I think it was J.D. Salinger who came up with the phrase "reverse paranoia" for the concept that everyone is secretly conspiring to make us happy. Probably a good idea to keep on one's mind, if only as an antidote.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Some people...

This article is just one more piece in the continuing puzzle I'm trying to solve about how other people's financial lives work.

How DO other people may age afford to go out drinking? I used to go out drinking one night a week to a bar with no cover charge and I was still dropping like forty bucks in drinks and tips that one night. (Now thanks to my stomach getting really sensitive to alcohol, I usually have maybe half a drink because more will make me queasy and more than that will have me puking like a Freshman after her first kegger.) But lots of people I know seem to go out three of four nights per week and most of them work in crappier jobs than mine.

Other people my age seem to be able to afford to drink and buy lots of clothes and vacation all the time. I don't get it. Credit card debt can't explain it all. Maybe it's just a perceptual thing.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Worked and taught, and spent much of the time in between waiting for a call that never came. So I'm tired and a little cranky.

My students were inquisitive, asking me why certain answers were wrong. This is a good sign as they are comfortable with me and really thinking about the reading comprension work we're doing. But it was also kind of irritating.

Two of my students are nurses in my grandmother's hospital and both offered to look in on her. I love my students. They do cool stuff like that. One time, I had one at Johns Hopkins look into the girl who tried to steal the CSO while he and I were at different schools. (She'd told the alumni magazine that she was at John's Hopkins, which I'd hoped meant that she was a janitor at John's Hopkins. No, she's a graduate student. Kind of amazing that Johns Hopkins let in a girl who bombed organic chemistry three times, but whatever.)


Creative Types

One of the things I do for my job is creative. I design invitations.

It’s not rocket science, but I’m really good at it.

I often come up with the themes for parties, sometimes I just do the design work. I used to design newspaper ads, so I have a clue what I’m doing when it comes to white space, leading the eye through the ad, etc. My invitations look different. They are fun or sophisticated or whatever, reflecting the mood that the client is looking for.

When trying to come up with a theme or an invitation for a particularly tough client, sometimes I will walk around the office, asking people who don’t look busy what images they associate with the state of Georgia, for example.

The accounting/HR lady recently sniffed “You never like my ideas.”

And I said “Well, often people do come up with ideas that I can’t use because they don’t work well visually with what the client wants. But sometimes the conversation sparks other ideas,”

She said “It’s not my ideas. My ideas are fine.”

And I said, “If I tried to come up with accounting ideas, I probably would come up with some things that sounded good to me, but wouldn’t actually work with what the accountant who wanted an idea needed.”

“That’s different.”

“I don’t know why it would be,” I said, keeping my voice gentle.

“My Gone with the Wind idea would’ve looked really nice.”

I said, “Well, a Gone with the Wind invitation with the words written in script across gates or columns that suggest Tara is a possibility, but your specific idea of an invitation with Rhett and Scarlett on it is something we can’t really do. When people hear ‘Rhett and Scarlett;’ they think of Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh. Gable and Leigh’s images are copyright and we can’t use them. And two other people aren’t going to look like Rhett and Scarlett to most people.”

Besides, CC thought, it’s quite likely that actual Georgians don’t even like GWTW anymore and just put on a show for the Japanese Tourists and it is unlikely that a male congressman is going to want a theme that is so feminine.

Anyway, she was still being pissy and I let it go. I won’t bat around ideas with her again. But it is striking to me how people in non-Creative jobs often think creative work is easy and something that just anybody can do.

who just did up something for a client who wanted a "more futuristic font."

Sinful chocolate cake. No, really, sinful.

You may get the drift from the previous post that I've been in better moods.

Grandmother duty was at least short last night. I got out by nine or so and she scratched nurses, not me. I offered to hire somebody to come out to Fairfax Hospital and "give her a special manicure" but the nurses kindly said it wasn't necessary.

I swear to God I could never be a nurse.

Later on, I was talking to my smart friend Pam who mentioned that she had been to a Godiva store earlier that day. I said I felt I had no business in them and she asked "why?"

I was moved. Someone sure must have to love me a lot to ask that question. And she did it without snickering, too.

On that front, things are slowly improving. But slowly.

This may seem like a stupid question, but I'm asking it anyway.

Does God want us to diet?

I'm not running out to rent a Christian exercise video or anything like that, but that eating badly could actually be sinful has been on my mind. Some months ago, I gave my definition of sin:

It’s something you do, anything you do, that distances you from what makes you a good and useful person.

I am a less good and useful person when I feel sluggish. It's hard to confidently fight for justice when in your heart of hearts, you suspect you look like a Hobbit. Fixating on food means that much less brainpower is spent on more important things. And, of course, I will certainly be less good and useful if I die younger, not that I've seen any really great advertisements for old age in the past few days.

So that chocolate cake may literally be sinful.

Nobody ever said that living a good life was easy.

Really in the mood for scrambled eggs and bacon, but about to eat Total Raisan bran with skim milk for breakfast. Fie on virtue!

Oh, those poor mistreated union truck drivers

Paul links to a badly thought-out rant by a poor white male truckdriver who complains bitterly that the poor white men of America would just LOVE to vote for a Democrat that was really looking out for the interests of lower-middle class working people.

Gee, I bet he would LOVE a candidate who really wanted to take steps against outsourcing and was even going to offer tax breaks to help companies that had outsourced and then foud it wasn't working out to vome back. A guy who wanted to offer a manufacturing jobs credit and a hiring credit to encourage companies to expand and who also wanted to increase the minimum wage. A candidate who had new ideas, liike starting a major project on renewable energy that would have meant tons of jobs and could have theoretically gotten us to a point where we were no longer Saudi Arabia's bitch. Wouldn't employer-provided prescription drug coverage be nice? And an expansion of unemployment insurance? And a guy who voted "yes" on a bill to allow members of the Department of Homeland security to unionize? Bet people like Fred would love a guy with a 91 percent AFL-CIO voting record.

Of course, they had a guy like that in JOHN KERRY.

But, gee, Bush talked such a good game about patriotism and surely a man who wants to keep gays from having rights and women from having abortions must have American values? Right?

So people like Fred voted AGAINST Johhn Kerry in droves.

Poor whites were, again, suckered into voting against their own interests.

I'm sorry geniuses, if you want liberal candidates VOTE FOR THE MORE LIBERAL CANDIDATES and then running as a liberal will be worth it.

But as long as poor whites are voting with their prejudices and not their brains, it's NEVER going to be worth it.


Monday, August 08, 2005


I stopped by the hospital twice yesterday, but grandmother has been better and not needing 24-hour supervision, I'm still beat, though. I'm revising my opinions as to what constitutes "old person time" as she was yelling well after midnight and had started again before I got there at eight.

Our congregational retreat is coming up and I find myself really looking forward to it.


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mid-movie Dukes of Hazzard review

So far, 90 minute roadrunner cartoon.

But I wanted escape and I`m getting it.

Helps to be southern.


CC and the discerning Pagans agree...Nora Ephron sucks

So there.

A top ten list I wrote like five years ago and had totally forgotten

I'm looking through the B-net archives for salvagable stuff and I found this.


Top ten things you should NEVER say in a Ringling Brothers Job interview

10. “You know what they say about guys in big shoes? Yup, Few attendance problems.

9. “Bozo was gay. I have proof”

8. “Ringling Brothers Clown College? Nah, I learned my clowning from a Sally Struthers course.”

7. “What do you mean Katherine Harris has my makeup design copyrighted?”

6. “Hey, you're pretty cute. Want to go for a ride tonight with me and 47 of my friends?"

5. “All work and no play makes Poopsiebop a dull boy.”*

4. “I also host fashion shows with my daughter Melissa!”

3. “So I had this idea for balloon animals that would be REALLY strong and could prevent STDs in a pinch…”

2. “Okay, on my first night in the show, can I do a shout out to my homie Ol’ dirty Bastard?”

1. “Want some pie?”

a very tired,

Report from Grandmother Duty

The hospital called and my grandmother is giving the nurses trouble. So my mother, cousin, aunt and I have divided into six hour shifts. Six to midnight are my official grandmother-watching hours tonight. I have my laptop and a lunchbag with a cheese sandwich and a coca-cola in it. (I looked in the fridge for a portable vegetable, I swear.)

My shift of Grandmother-watching began, well, with me watching her sleep. Sometimes, she opened her eyes and looked around like a confused baby bird, but she never responded to my "hello," so after awhile I just watched quietly.

The first Batman movie is on the television and I am struck by the straight-up gorgeousness of Danny Elfman's orchestral score.

I sort of fear hospitals and watching my grandmother in this condition is sort of creepy. It probably adds to the weirdness that my choice of reading material was "Salvation on Sand Mountain," a reporter's story of his experiences with the snake handlers of Scottsboro, Alabama.

We had our own little southern moment in here when an African-American nurse had to move my grandmother's leg, which was apparently painful for her. I found myself wishing that an ER nurse would swoop in with a large syringe and shoot my grandmother up with 20 CCs of a drug that would make her politically correct.

My whole life, my grandmother has used the expressions "colored man" and "colored woman." But she'd never said, well, that.

My apology in the hallway was laughed off, of course. "She's 92!" the woman said as if that were an excuse,

My defense of the nurse, which amounted to "I'm sure she didn't mean to hurt you, Grandmother, and PLEASE talk like a decent person" has my grandmother muttering curses about my future children and literally giving me the evil eye.

Goodness, I don't even give the finger.

Now she is calm and vaguely biblical-looking in her pale blue gown and white sheets. She's still not speaking to me, which is fine, though I sort of wish she'd stop giving me the "I'm an old person who has been wronged" look. She had me tie a corner of the sheet to the handrail, insisting that I tie it tightly. It was OK with the nurse, so I did it. As I tied, she grandly pronounced "You'll know that you didn't get it tight enough if it doesn't save me."

I find myself fantasizing about her somehow staging a grand escape from the hospital room and that by my seemingly insignificant action I have somehow enabled awful deeds, like the prison guard who accidentally gives Hannibal Lecter a paperclip. I think Danny Elfman music inspires such thoughts.

I went down to the cafeteria and got myself another soda and came back to find my grandmother railing against the injustice of having her blood pressure taken.

She has repeatedly asked for my aunt Barbara, who has no cell phone and apparently picked a bad night to go out to dinner. Poor woman now has three messages from me with grandmother yelling at the nurses in the background, At least this time she had a white nurse, so all she yelled is "liar!"

Grandmother is calmer now, but still looking like a pissed-off baby bird.

For awhile, she was telling me to mail imaginary letters. Telling her that I had done so seemed to help. But an hour or so ago, she started to scream at my brothers, who she is hallucinating. I'm sure she's REALLY popular with the other patients now.

I am sort of fascinated by hallucination. I remember late night, soft-voiced phonecalls with TheCSO that ended with him falling asleep. For a few minutes before he did, he would be half awake and describing his dreams. It was seriously cool.

A few times, Grandmother has yelled curses about someone named Harry. I quizzed my mother on this one and she said during her shift, she had read the new "Harry Potter" book to my grandmother. My discriminating taste in literature must be genetic.

Tomorrow, I am SO bringing a sleeping bag.


Ps. Heard the new White Stripes song on the radio tonight on the way home. It kicks ass.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The Vegas Option

Ever since I read Laurel Snyder's essay a Slut for Faith, which is about people who aren't religious yet throw religious weddings, I've been sort of torn on it. I don't like her tone. She writes in the essay that she probably comes of as judgemental, and she's right. She does.

I also fear that she's talking about me, the humanist who got married in a Presbyterian church. Now my wedding was humanist, mind you, but the service did take place under the watchful eye of the Ascension window at the Church of the Pilgrims.

God was not mentioned in my wedding, but it was a religious wedding in a humanist sort of way with non-theistic bible readings and a focus on our responsibilities to one another and to other people. I am deeply religious in my way, but my way is not my mom's way.

As the CSO is a kid of divorce, we actually has a lot of religious leanings to contend with:
  • CC, a UU of humanist theological bent.

    • The CSO, also basically a UU, though he thinks the UUA speaks for us too much so he hasn't officially joined.
    • The ChaliceMom and ChaliceDad. Presbyterians
    • The CSOmom, a non-denominational Christian who has been to several different churches in the Charlotte area. Last I heard, her favorite was a liberal Baptist church, but she in no way considers herself Baptist.
    • The CSOdad, a Lutheran.
    • Assorted Grandparents and other relations. Mostly Lutheran on his side, I think, all Presbyterian on mine, except my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Hale (My dad's sister and my mother's sister's second husband) are both into all things Quaker.

    It also came down to who we would get to marry us. CC, as she has mentioned, has a bad habit of befriending ministers. Our choices included:
    • Mary-who-dances, a lesbian Presbyterian minister whose firing was the impetus for CC to stop faking it as a Presbyterian and actually find some church where people believed what she did. Of course, we got married in the church that fired her so that would have been weird.

    • Lindsey-of-the-Overalls, a beloved Southern Baptist friend of CCs. A Baptist wedding would have nicely appalled my mother but wasn't really what we were looking for.

    • The very good minister of the church where CC currently attends, whom we don't know well.

    • the Minister of the Church of the Pilgrims, who preaches like William Shatner. (OK, he was never seriously considered)

    • Katy-the-Wise

    In the end, the choice was obvious, especially when Katy was willing to fly up to perform the ceremony mere days before the Conference on the Free church.

    The ceremony was held in my mother's church because when I suggested otherwise, I got a speech that began with "You were baptized in that church! I was baptized in that church! Your father and I were married at that church! And you're thinking of getting married somewhere else?" and went on for awhile.

    Ok, ok, we got married in her church.

    The point of all of this is that, well, modern weddings are like this. We're not talking one family being Baptist and one family being Episcopalian and cultural hilarity ensuing. We're talking about a wacky mishmash of cultures and traditions.

    There will always be marriages of the kids of two Jewish families, two Pagan families, two Methodist families, etc.

    But I don't think that's the norm now, and I don't think there's any way it's going to ever be the norm again. So do we kick God out of every wedding?

    We also have the further confusion that these traditions are about more than religion. My mother didn't give a damn about me coming back to Jesus. She wanted me to get married in that church because that church is where members of my family get married. I feel like I should mention here that my mother and father fought like hell to keep that minister from being forced to resign. To them, that incident was the church they love doing a very bad thing. But that church is their life and that bad thing is not the sum total of what that church is to them. My mother has been a member for her entire life. My grandfather helped start the place. To get married somewhere else would have been about more than rejecting my childhood faith, which I've already done. It really would have been taken as a slight on my family.

    We've been talking a lot on the blogosphere about what constitutes expropriation from Christianity and I think that is the central thrust of what Snyder also is getting at. I would never dream of smashing a glass at the end of my wedding, though as a tradition, I think it is seriously cool.

    But I wasn't escaping to Vegas to avoid the conflict, either.

    For the CSO and me, it was more about finding common ground and focusing on shared values. Admittedly, it is a lot easier to cherrypick from traditions that don't have a set script for the wedding, but as far as I can tell, Judaism and Christianity are a lot the same outside of actual ritual. That Snyder couldn't come up with something that would resonate with people of both faiths is a little mystifying to me. If you're talking about the same values and reading poems from whichever faith that resonate with both of you, is the ritual itself really the important part?

    This is to some degree a very Unitarian problem for this woman to have and while I'm not crazy about her solution, I'm aware that mine doens't exactly cut it either. But running of to Vegas to avoid the conflict, literally or not, just doesn't strike me as the way to go.

    Ps. Don't kid yourself, lady. EVERY bride considers running off to Vegas. MULTIPLE times. But when you're standing there with tired feet and a ring on your finger and your mother's sister's husband is telling your linguist friend about how the wedding was really sort of Quaker and your ten year old groomsman cousin is bragging on how he got to escort your husband's sister and she's "the HOT bridesmaid" and your mother and your favorite college professor are chatting and looking on with joy as your husband cuts a rug with his Momma, you realize that the wedding isn't really about just you. You made your commitment in front of God when you took care of him when he was sick, when he bought you flowers one time when you depressed, when y'all agreed to accept one another's annoying relatives as your own. The wedding itself is about joining two families and two communities into one. Hard to do that in Vegas by yourselves.
  • Heh.

    Panera's network won't let me look at PG's site Half the Sins of Mankind.

    They think you're posting porn over there, PG.


    Wi-fi sweet wi-fi

    Not being able to blog from home has put me in serious withdrawal, so this morning I headed for Panera to finally blog for a bit and eat a soufflé. (Panera's soufflés are not great soufflés. But as food goes, they are still pretty good.)

    My family is being stressful again. I'm noticing that as people go to jail (both brothers at this point) and to the hospital (grandmother,) their pets are starting to concentrate on the remaining law-abiding and healthy relations. In addition to our cats Boris and Cool Disco Dan, the CSO and I are now responsible for Stupid Dog and my old college cat Agatha.

    Agatha is a great cat and may be my favorite cat I've ever had. I stayed with my grandmother for the summer between college and grad school and when it came time for me to make to New Orleans for Grad school, my grandmother gave me the Old-Lady-in-a-big-empty-house-alone speech and I with great regret let her keep Agatha.

    So now I'm back to looking over Agatha, which is more a pleasure than a chore, though at least Stupid Dog lives in my house. Still, driving a couple of miles to feed Agatha and let her in and out works for me and lets me keep an eye on my brother's friends who are staying there. (Cue the impending trouble music)

    When the ChaliceRelative goes in for her knee replacement, she will leave two cockatiels and a small yappy dog in her apartment. I'm hoping my mother will take on those.


    Friday, August 05, 2005

    Luxury Problems

    Bob Novak on CNN yesterday, pre-temper tantrum:

    A lot of my trouble in the world is they've doctored my makeup and they colorized me in a lot of newspapers on my picture. i sympathize with her.


    Ps. Couldn't resist ragging on CK just a bit about how Novak, you know, should know better than to work blue.

    She sighed and said "Yeah, I guess James Carville can do that to you."

    I pretty much had to concede the point.

    Happy Friday

    The CSO's and my network is still not letting me send email or post blog posts from home. The CSO swears it is a problem Verizon is having, not something with the new network.

    Last night was a long math class, but was Tyler-free. Math is, of course, the section Tyler needs the most help in. Ah well. Horses to water.

    CK, Hazel and I went to a bar right after work and I had to scramble to make it to class on time, but ultimately did. Still, we have a standing appointment to go get something tonight when we can have a real talk about things.

    Our usual bar, the bar-that-sucks-less-than-one-would-think, is too far from my class, so we went to a newer, cleaner, less smoky bar. The waiters flirted. I like this new bar, but suspect everybody will want to go back to the old one. Ah well.

    Random thoughts on stuff UUs are posting:

    Modoblog is right The Quaker Economist rocks.

    I would seriously love to get the Bible Video game that Lof-Fi Tribe is talking about. If I turn up a copy, I will totally play it and review it here.

    Jfield raised a kcikass question about to what degree non-Christian clergy can speka on other religions without doing the much-maligned "speaking FOR other religions" that nobody wants to do. Boy in the Bands responds well.

    That history channel thing on evolution looks cool. I probably won't watch it, though. Somethign about educational TV doesn't work for me.


    Thursday, August 04, 2005

    From the other side of the desk.

    I'm teaching GRE classes at night these days. (Ah. Mortgage.) And I feel the need to vent about Tyler-who-should-rot-in-hell.

    TWSRIH reminds me very much of a college friend I had. Lots of people called my friend "Jesus Boy," because he was short and skinny and pre-Raphealite-looking with long hair and a long beard. (We once performed a very elaborate prank where, in the middle of the campus tree-lighting service on the lake, we floated a standing Jesus Boy across the lake on a low raft. He used my sheet for a loincloth. I didn't ask for it back.)

    Anywho, Jesus Boy is now an off-and-on Grad student. That TWSRIH is taking a GRE class implies that Tyler ASPIRES to do what Jesus boy is doing, which is a whole new category of scary.

    Jesus Boy was the man. He lived next door to the model room that the admissions office showed new students, so he put up signs on his door telling students why they shouldn't come to the school. When the college advertised for a new dean of students, he applied and asked his professors to write him letters of reccomenation for the job. During hurricaine FLoyd, he and his buddies tried to build a hanglider. I'm laughing just writing this remembering how cool he was.

    Well, it turns out that when you're the teacher, having a guy like Jesus Boy in your class is a big pain in the ass.

    Tyler, the Jesus-Boy-heir-apparant, took my GRE class last summer. At my testing company, we have a guarantee. If he still didn't feel ready after the first class, he could take it again within a few months. He didn't take advantage of the guarantee. He's paying for the class again, or rather, in true Jesus Boy fashion, his dad is.

    I politely informed my center manager of this, suggesting that he might be happier in someone else's class. I mean, I'm a good teacher, but if my style of teaching didn't work for him, maybe he's happiest with someone else.

    No, he LIKES my class.

    So he's back for another six weeks, being a wiseass and yelling out all the answers he already knows since he TOOK THE SAME CLASS LAST YEAR.

    It seems unprofessional to inform the class that he's a retread. So far, I've simply put up with him yelling out the point I'm getting to before I get a chance to make it, responding only by mildly advising the ladies in the class to not go see "The Crying Game" or "The Sixth Sense" with Tyler.

    But grr he's annoying and so far not telling the class that the only reason he knows all the answers is that I told him what they were last year takes more self-restraint than CC is typically known for having.

    who, in hear heart of hearts, still thinks Jesus Boy was pretty cool.


    I’m in a good mood for no rational reason as yesterday was not an especially good day. We had a slightly embarrassing but ultimately minor issue at work, the ChaliceRelative called and gave me the standard lecture about how my sainted brothers have been through so much and I proved myself a bad Granddaughter by for the second day in a row not making it over to see my Grandmother in the hospital.

    I teach tonight, so I will probably go see her Friday.

    Last night, CK and I went to an event planner event and drank free Margaritas. (I know, I know, rough ol’ life being CC.) I met some cool people and we swapped “living in Washington” stories. (E.g. The bartender who explained that if a guy in a nice suit tells you that he can’t tell you what he does for a living, you should ignore him, he’s a putz. But if there’s a guy dressed really plainly who looks sort of hardcore and you’re talking about bars and he brings up one in Kabul, go ahead and give him a free drink, he’s probably done a lot for his country.)

    Too cool.

    I really don’t get out enough. I should do that sort of thing more often.


    Wednesday, August 03, 2005

    Livin' on Old Guy Time

    My linguist friend, is, in fact, an old guy.

    He is quite accepting of himself in his oldguyness. He is an old guy in the same sense that CC is an young woman. It's an essential part of him and aspects of oldguyness are a central part of who he is. He is that specific sort of professorial old guy who will drive to Michagin to shop for books but has lost weight recently because easting anything other than turkey and crackers is too much trouble.

    CC is a young woman, let's not forget. She worries about what she's going to do wtih her life, wrestles with whether being a "good wife" is an antiquated notion and what it means to her, and all sorts of other stupid stuff young women worry about before they mature enough to get over themselves. She lusts after Johnny Depp. She wears sexy spice girl shoes. Her standard sleeping hours are midnight to 6:30, with frequent insomnia breaks in the middle.

    She mentions this because old guys do not sleep those hours, especially in the summer. (In fairness to my linguist friend, he sleeps a lot less during the school year.) At my linguist friend's house, we would get back from dinner, talk for awhile, then sometime between nine and eleven, he would announce that he was going upstairs to bed. Now, my linguist friend's house has no giant TV and his internet connection is...gulp...dialup.

    So CC would go up the guest room, bringing along a trusty book, expecting to read for three hours before finally nodding off.

    And she'd be out like a light.

    In the morning, sometime between seven and eight, she'd hear him in the bathroom across the hall. But we all know that good houseguests give their hosts some time to shuffle around, so she would linger in bed for a bit longer, letting him do his morning stuff, finally getting up when he went downstairs. Really, lazing around was the least she could do.

    And the thing is, I felt great. Full of energy, lots of fun. I'd bounce out of bed right then a happy girl. Energized, ready to go book shopping or look at art. I was so much fun on vacation, y'all.

    Yesterday, I flew in early, worked, grabbed dinner, taught class, then headed home. I canoodled with the CSO, baked some cookies for work and called my linguist friend to give him the obligatory "I got home OK" message. We talked for a bit then he said "Well, I'm headed off to bed."

    It was ten. I decided to try keeping up this old guy time thing, so I curled up on the couch. (The CSO was tinkering with our netwok in the bedroom and insomniacs often have several chances to switch beds.) I stretched out on the Fugly Couch and put a comforter over me.

    And then I lay there.

    And lay there.

    And lay there.

    And got up and watched an episode of "I want to be a Hilton" and worked on a story I'm writing and did laundry.

    By midnight, I was in bed, I swear.

    Oh well.