Wednesday, December 26, 2007

pfft

Usually it's a bad idea to b.u.i. (blog under the influence). Like drunk dialing there's danger of verbal droolage. HOWEVER, it's a rare and glorious opportunity to test your spelling skills and spew skewed truth. Happy Holidays, people. I'm having a great time. I made some fucking awesome food. And pies. Strawberry-raspberry LATTICED pie. A thing of fussy beauty.

Really. I'm having an exceptional holiday. A few days off. There were enormous cast-iron cooking implements under the tree for me. They fill me with the joy of oversized sturdiness. I am basking in the renewed wonder of having truly kick-ass offspring. I am stupid happy to be spending a few days off with Barbara. While I don't love everyone, I'm dangerously close to that. Which is why I'm staying home tonight. Lest I become to publicly effusive. There's nothing worse than being hungover and hating everything and remembering how you were drunk and loving everything the night before. Too much contrast. It gives you a headache.

Feliz Navidad mortals. Happy mythical infant deity celebration. I must go lie down now. Or is it lay down? I can never remember.

P.S. Unlike the string of fuckups that were my Thanksgiving experience, the past four or five days of intensive cooking produced almost universally positive results. Dishes behaved like they should have and came out out of the oven like Rockettes--kicking in perfect unison. Desserts bloomed in flaky, creamy beauty. The eggplant parmigiana was a personal best. But I am fucking exhausted and refuse to cook for at least a week.

P.P.S. So much more to tell you but, alas, the alcohol has breached my brain's sleep center, forced its way in and is in the midst of a full out mutiny. I am folding like a deck of cards...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

really pathetic stuff

Did you know there was a World Rock-Paper-Scissors Society? With competitions? In which people devise strategies to win?

What could be more lame than this? Let's see. Button-Sewing Olympics? A Light-Bulb-Changing Race? The Keyboard-Cleaning Relay?

I'm concerned. Are any of you out there in RPS training? Are you flexing your digits right now and peering into your opponent's eyes for hints of paper?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

but the humble pie tastes perfect

I pull out all the stops for the holidays. It's a cooking marathon and I'd like to think that I regularly cross the finish line with the upper ten percent of contestants. Perhaps hubris was my undoing.

Or maybe it's just because
sometimes things go wrong. And take a bunch of other things with them.

Over the past five days I have planned, shopped and scheduled. I have mise en placed with the best of them. This meal seemed destined for the record book. But no. And I'm not going to give that pansy-assed little whimper, "this has never happened before!" Of course it has. But not with cooking impotence this...potent. And never while sober. Whining is a slappable offense but one's limp culinary ego demands at least a bit of over-analyzing:

  • equipment issues - 1. When it calls for a full-sized food processor, the junior size won't do. My first double pie crust batch was processed into cookie dough crammed as it was into that small container. 2. When a stand-alone mixer is the tool specified, you might as well cede the fight. Kneading the dinner roll dough by hand was like coaxing cooked oatmeal into a diorama of Native Americans flipping off a party of Pilgrims.
  • ingredient issues - Weak yeast looks remarkably like virile yeast from the package; and no, it didn't need to be "proofed" because it was "instant" yeast, just like Cooks Illustrated requested. And I checked the date–it was fine. Hockey pucks instead of dinner rolls. Crimes against bread are worthy of kitchen exile. And the butter was so ready! What am I going to tell the butter? Tears swimming in its little yellow eyes...
  • recipe problems - My first America's Test Kitchen disappointment: you can NOT pre-bake a pie shell without pie weights! Try it like they suggest and you'll end up with crust sliding down the pie pan sides into an unappetizing pancake-y dough puddle. Swimming in melted butter (a quality incredibly appealing in most dishes and random encounters but never in pastry).
  • user error - I took my eye off the prize for five minutes and my "Pie Off" entry* got singed! It was the perfect double-crust apple pie. Crust rolled out beautifully (unlike the other one**) Tart and sweet apples coupling in a buttery, spiced, lemon-zested mound. Top crust evenly and ornamentally pierced, adorned with a wee cunning apple appliqué all egg-white-shiny and sugar-sprinkled. Edges charmingly well-fluted. Ten inches in diameter and practically hemorrhaging fruit goodness–it was magnificent. Didn't hear the timer. Didn't hear the fucking timer. Edges scorched. Appley-qué singed. I tripped over my feet with the finish line in sight. I brought my A Game and choked, people. CHOKED.
It's not that there weren't promising moments of ecstasy. The rice pudding is positively fuckable. The bread stuffing is outstanding and the mashed potatoes are so creamy rich it looks like you're wearing lip gloss when you're done eating them. The pumpkin pie holds great promise (I snort haughtily at your pumpkin pie derision, Mr. Damon). But mind-blowing, screaming culinary orgasm it ain't. Okay, so the finish line isn't the only thing, pleasure should be measured along the way...however, a meal like this should leave one's taste buds hankering for a cigarette. A whole pack even. Sigh.

I have high hopes for the second turkey. Yes, we got two. Brined and buttered as the first one was, I completely killed it. Completely. Twenty years of cooking good-to-great turkeys and I decimated my first turkey this year. This time I'll pay closer attention. It's 425°F for the first hour and 375°F for the second. Not the other way around, you dyslexic, flour-dusted moron.

Still, in spite of setbacks, I've managed to have fun. Real laughing fun. A tribute, without question, to Barbara's twenty-one years of influence. She's the real deal. Optimistic in the face of all things burnt and runny. Everything will taste great. The ingredients say so. And we'll be with friends and that's the reason Thanksgiving is a great holiday. There will be eating and drinking and making merry.

*My friend Eric is having a Pie Off. First ever. And I talked all sorts of sports-laced smack about taking down his soy-boy, weak-assed apple pie with my behemoth crusher pie. Stuff
this in your pie-hole, and so on and on. Folks, I'll be going down in flames with an entry that looks like it has third-degree burns. Not fatal, mind you. Just disfigured. Stop staring.

**The "cookie dough" pie crust had to be patched together like modeling clay. Then tediously smoothed to lose the craggy look. Of course, the pie that came strutting like top model down the pastry runway was the one that I didn't give a shit about. Leftover ingredients thrown into a small rectangular (pie are rounded) pyrex dish. I brought no love to this pie. Pierced the word FUCK into its overworked top crust. And it is perfect.

Thanksgiving Postscript: So, of course, everything tasted great. The second turkey revived my poultry-maven reputation. Our guests didn't care that half the pecan pie crust had slipped down under the filling like an annoying old stretched-out sock works its way under the arch of your foot. The dinner rolls never rose anywhere near what the recipe indicated but in a what-the-fuck-do-I-have-to-lose kind of way, I threw them in the oven and the cold little lumps blossomed into completely edible rolls. Methinks 'twas a Thanksgiving miracle. Oh, and Mike? the pumpkin pie was ALL that. Company was great, food was quite good (in spite of aforementioned setbacks) and all and all I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

omnivorously yours

My good friend Eric is a vegetarian. He corrects people who brag about being carnivores that they are not carnivores, they are omnivores. Right again, my flesh-shunning friend. (Sometimes I affectionately call him soy-fucker.)

Much to the relief of friends and family, I have just finished reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I can now stop boring you with commentary about the "book I am currently reading" and race right over to waxing philosophical about the "book I just finished reading." It's a win-win for me.

But seriously, my tendency to verbosity aside, this has been one great read. It's a book about food origins, food industry and man's relationship with food. Not what some might call a page-turner but there were times I really couldn't wait to find out what happened next. I love his examination of the food industry. His willingness to face his flesh-eating nature head on--slaughtering chicken on a poultry farm or hunting boar in a forest.

The odd thing about people's reaction to my comments about this book is that they all wanted to know if I was going to become a vegetarian--as if fear of vegetarianism was a good reason to never pick up the book. Funny. I am a passionate fan of the barely cooked rib eye and fairly sure that it would take at least 2 or 3 books to pry the bloody steak knife from my hand if that is, in fact, possible. Yet even I had a moment of hesitation prior to reading lest the horrors of the food industry (and horrors they are) rob me of this and a perfectly grilled chicken breast.

But the book has changed my attitude about food. Perhaps in part because being a meat eater is not the equivalent of agreeing with the inhumane treatment of the creatures we eat. However, right now, the biggest impact for me is the consciousness of removing as many of the steps between food being harvested, caught, slaughtered and my table. The less traveled and processed the food is, the healthier it will be. I have all but eliminated prefab foods (cereal, mixes, frozen meals, etc.) and try to purchase ingredients in their rawest, freshest forms locally.

This does of course, increase my food prep time. But cheap, fast AND healthy is rare. Usually you only get two out of the three. I'm okay with the trade-off.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

mini-sabbatical

I'm home sick today and yesterday. And homesick is a lovely accident of meaning. I've worked through much worse viral infections but the need to take a break was too powerful to ignore this time.

When I have the opportunity, I surround myself with as much silence as I can. No television, no radio, no music and precious little conversation. It is, without exaggeration, like gulping cold water when extremely thirsty.

I try to suspend linear thinking and guilt as much as possible. I roam from activity to activity without a road map or checklist. Read, clean, walk, write, eat, nap and think, reflect, ponder. There are moments of such clarity and focus that I feel I am on the cusp of great insight. I believe those moments eventually accumulate and become something tangible.

This smattering of thoughts produces random commentary. Like this stuff.

Ironic meets moronic
Military Inadvertently Recruits Gays (via Mombian)
You've got to love this oversight.

Riverbend returns
Riverbend of Baghdad Burning has made her first entry since escaping Iraq on September 6th. I have not written about this blog because I have been overwhelmed by how to begin. Let me just say that no blog entry but hers has ever compelled me to go back and read each post in chronological order--which spans from the beginning of the war in 2003. She is a gifted writer chronicling an enormous tragedy.

Employment or not
We received this email two days ago at work:

A staff reduction in the five percent range, through layoffs and the elimination of open positions, is scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, October 29 and 30, 2007. If you have any questions regarding this program, I encourage you to contact our Human Resources Department.
Ah, yes. So many ways to be vague. What does the five percent range mean? Do you think that by the time this letter was scanned (weird) and released as a jpg via email they didn't know who was going to get axed? Methinks not. They could have said 78 positions or 5.2% cut...which would have felt less range-y. Of course, the dates of this five percent range reduction are pretty clear. So. Is that for fair warning and preparation? Or just to make the 95%-range retained grateful and quiet after the fact? And that whole offload onto the HR Department is just hysterical. They should call HR Departments SD Departments for Spin and Dodge--so adept are they at avoiding the real questions and churning out copious amounts of (earnest-sounding, supportive-like, diversity-dripping) verbiage that answers Not. One. Question.

We are uneasily assured that the online division is not going to be impacted. But I wouldn't take that hope to the bank. I am not, however, that concerned. It is like natural disaster, prepare as well as you can and accept you don't have control over anything after that but the clean-up.

Not that the rest of us are stupid
Thanks to Dave for posting this: The Boy With The Incredible Brain
This is so phenomenal in part because captures how little we understand about our brains. Which means our intelligence potential is exponentially greater than we currently know. Yes, greater can mean more destructive, too. But I find this potential a source of great hope.
[Now if you could just show me how to embed video in my blog, Dave, I'd be very grateful. Because I lost interest after the preliminary foray into the land of
how to post a video to your blog. This reassures me somehow, as the writing is more compelling for me than the technology. Of course, this from a woman who owns a pair of 1GB USB stick earrings and knows how to use them. That's 1GB per ear. And thank you Sal, for ratcheting up my geek cred.]

Corpses and calamity
Watched the fifth (final?) season of Six Feet Under recently. Overall, this has been a great show. Probing death and drama in fresh ways. Well, for the most part. I found this last season completely maddening. It gave me crisis fatigue. I became unfazed by car accidents, wild animal attacks or hints of incest. Adultery made me yawn. Nasty infighting and psychotic episodes were passé. I found myself praying for spontaneous combustion or bestiality just to stay focused. Not one person in or around that family was not on the verge of some enormous existentially-destructive event. What were the writers thinking? Anyway, the final episode was great. A little artificial in the wrap-up but novel and refreshing after the preceding apocalyptic overload.

Offspring
So as not to confuse this arena with anything vaguely mommy-bloggish or brood-motherish, I often hold back a little on kinder-commentary. However, my "baby" turned 26 this past week and both she my firstborn continue to delight and challenge in ways that astound me. This might be construed as gushing by some of you. If so, my suggestion is to go read something else right now.

For some people, having grown children with whom you can discuss fetishist subculture or share the discovery of stumbling simultaneously on the word autochthon thousands of miles away from each other--for some, this might not be a brilliant feather in their maternal cap. It is for me. Whether it's philosophy or language or criticism or art or politics or dirty jokes or a million other peculiarities of human culture, I have these two bright, insightful people who bring to me and accept from me ideas and laughter and conundrums. In an unarticulated young woman's musings, these are the children I dreamed of.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

ringside seat

Saturday. The day Productivity and Introspection step into the ring. And get good and bloodied in the process. It's not a pretty fight. Nor orderly. Clean the house? Read a novel? Do everything and drop exhausted at the end of the day? Or blog about the conflict and accomplish nothing at all?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

the wurst puns

Sometimes work is a fount of inspiration. This from the Wurstfest* website history page:

The first year it was “Sausage Festival”...later “Wurst Week”...and finally “Wurstfest”. What he thought would be a typical small town festival was conceived by Ed A. Grist , who was a practicing Veterinarian and City Meat Inspector.
Dr. Grist. Who midwifes Bossie's offspring and labels it Prime Veal Cutlet all in one visit. Did I mention his name was Grist?

*"The TEN Day Salute to Sausage"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

read this

Today is my birthday. I came home worried/sad about work. Birthdays don't depress me but this was one of those blue days that just happened to land on my birthday. Then I read this. It jolted my life back into perspective.

Friday, October 12, 2007

congratulations doris and al

Doris, it's about time.
Al, tell them to suck on this.

fucking liars

US kills 15 women and children in Iraq
Article in Forbes today.

BAGHDAD - A US air strike north of Baghdad has killed at least 15 women and children, one of the largest losses of civilian life in a single American operation since the war began, the military said.
And the US military response?
We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while Coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism, said military spokesman Major Brad Leighton.

These terrorists chose to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence.

Lying sacks of shit. Everyone is a terrorist after they're dead. They're suspected insurgents just before we shoot or torture them. Poor and deadly logic. Extremely fucked-up justification: We killed the women and children because the "terrorists" chose to hang out with their families and well, our aim sucks.

Out. Out. Hillary, you hear this? Get us the fuck out.

Those poor people. Goddammit, what are we doing?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

diy

I've got rust flakes in my cleavage (such as it is) and dried caulking under my nails. My knuckles are scraped and I want to pummel the technical writer whose step-by-step instructions gloss over a critical point at step 3 which has me undoing steps 11 through 4. It's hard to understand why I love home improvement. But I know when the sink is installed and there are no drips left, I'm going to sigh my diy sigh.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

epiphenita loves an epithet

From Overheard in New York
Sep 10, 2007

Tourist lady, very slowly: Uhhh, can you... Um, excuse me, can you... um, tell me where... that place downtown... I think it's, ummm...

Lady suit, interrupting: Christ on a crutch! What are you, Canadian or retarded?!
--4 train, Wall St station

From passiveaggressivenotes.com via Sir Dave-the-Widget-Whore:





It's a blessed day in foul-mouth land when two shiny new ways to swear show up like manna from cursing heaven.

Christ on a crutch I can't wait to use Soyfucker.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

bravo, bravo

Luciano Pavarotti died today. He is a man who brought opera to the masses. My personal, unexpected love affair with opera was very much connected to him. Bravissimo, you incredible man.

Postscript: I wasn't going to include this since I didn't actually hear it with my own ears...but it's too good to pass on. One of my coworkers was chatting with this older woman at work who, while sweet, does not always get her facts right and she asked him, Hey, did you hear that Paparazzi died? Seriously. She really says stuff like this. It's just too good.

go iowa

(Not straw polls, silly. Homos.)

Great entry about the Iowa judge who ruled that anti-gay marriage laws are unconstitutional. For those of you philosophically opposed to clicking on the link:

...he applied the U.S. and Iowa constitutions to same sex couples precisely as worded.

The Iowa Constitution states, "The general assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms shall not equally belong to all citizens."

That echoes the substance of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which holds that no state may deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Note that neither document says equal protection of the law only applies to popular parties, or to those whose lifestyle is approved of by the majority. It applies to everyone, equally. Anything else is legislated discrimination.
In response to religious arguments against the judge's ruling:

Some opponents say this is an example of the country turning its back on its Christian traditions. But that is a false assertion. The United States is not a Christian nation, and never was intended to be one.

For proof, look no further than the Treaty of Tripoli, which became the law of the land in 1797, eight years after the Constitution became effective. President John Adams, with the unanimous support of the Senate, signed the treaty, which stated in part "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion."

...religion ought to have no impact on the law, just as the law ought to have no impact on ...religion. That's what the First Amendment says, in plain language. And it's what Americans, religious and secular alike, hold dear about our system of government.

I'm so damn proud of Iowa.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

gop glop

Watching the veritable implosion of the Republican party: Rove, Gonzo, Snow, Craig, etc. is like a conservative lemming-fest, they are all but tripping over each other in their headlong rush to the cliff. Schadenfreude, despite what some of my glass-housed friends would say, is not my favorite pastime. However, when the unctuous, hypocritical and holier-than-thou take a well-earned nosedive...well, I'm going to sit on the sidelines and applaud gleefully.

Larry Methinks-the-Lady-Doth-Protest Craig read a "prepared" statement about how not-gay he was, beginning with "I want to thank you all for coming out..." One has to wonder if having that many Mormons in a state actually forces Irony to move away (anywhere but south to Utah, of course). To compound the politician's awkward denials, several blow-and-tell stories have been surfacing that indicate Minnesota's finest were not just hanging out in the john trying to pass all that cheese.

And one final (for the morning) note about the crapulence permeating Bush, et al., specifically about Condoleezza Rice, from the NY Daily News:

And while Bush sometimes introduces her as "the most powerful woman in the history of the world," he also considers her "like my sister." Thus, at a briefing, he skipped over the gory details of the rape and torture committed by Saddam Hussein's sons, explaining: "I didn't want to say [those things] in front of Condi."
Does this alarm anyone out there? That the Secretary of State is being spared the details of heinous, politically significant crimes because the President doesn't want to offend her feminine sensibilities? We come this far to be taken seriously and professionally, only to be treated like demure debutantes. This, my friends, is unfuckingbelievable.

the great land grab of aught-seven

Well, we did it. Bought the property next door after thirteen years of hoping that it would come up for sale at a time when we could more or less afford it.
Woohoo!
We're land barons.
Overlords.
In debt up to our asses but happy to have doubled our little stake here in the Houston Heights.

P.S. The Monday after the Friday closing brought dramatic electrical storms to our area of the state. Lightning struck the house diagonally across from our new acquisition. Five big-ass fire trucks, several ambulances. The occupants were all okay and the house had no serious damage. But it fucking made my heart stop. Lightning is not really one of the short-term contingencies that we've budgeted for...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

overheard in new york nails it

When I'm Not Traveling with My Softball Team

Lesbo: I'm just sick of everyone stereotyping and treating people based on race, sexual orientation, or whatever.
Staight woman: Yeah, it's hard to avoid.
Lesbo: I know! And it's like 2007! Everyone's gay or lesbian. The stereotyping is everywhere -- school, the gym, work.
Straight woman: Oh, where do you work?
Lesbo: Home Depot.
--4 train

Saturday, August 25, 2007

you didn't ask but here it is anyway

EPIPHENITA'S SUGGESTIONS FOR RAISING HEALTHY CHILDREN:
Communication

  • Don't use baby talk. They're children, not morons.
  • Get off the fucking cellphone and listen to them.
  • Teach them not to whine by not paying attention until they speak without puling. Jesuschrist, I could smack the shit out of several of my coworkers' parents for giving their kids attention for whining. It's just a bad, bad habit.
  • Accept that they will disagree with you. Insist that they learn to voice disagreements civilly. Which means they can tell you that you are being unfair but they can't tell you to go fuck yourself.
  • After they are given a chance to communicate their objections and after you really think about what they have said, make a motherfucking decision and get on with it. It's your job. Don't continue to piss around about your decision. You will come across like the limpdick that you are.
  • Don't curse around them as much I do here. But if you slip, explain that you can drive and they can't. Ditto for cursing until they learn the time-honored rules of when not to curse. (Btw, it's never "cussing." No self-respecting foulmouth calls it "cussing." For fucksake.)
Discipline
  • Physical punishment is never really justifiable. It is an indicator that you've run out of ideas, not that you're doing the work of God. Resist the urge to smack them. It's not effective and sends a terrible message.
  • That said, if you run out of patience and ideas and swat little Trixie's bottom, calm down and forgive yourself. She learned you have a breaking point, she will survive. If, however, you run out a patience, pick her up and consider throwing Trixie across the room: set her down and get some professional help. Immediately.
  • Not hitting is not the equivalent of not disciplining. You are the goddamn parent. Stop sniveling and asking your children if it's okay that you do your job.
  • When you take them out of the house, teach them to behave. They may be the center of your world but they need to learn that they are not the center of your fellow diners, shoppers or pedestrians' world. Curb your precious.
  • If you must be on the phone, or otherwise occupied, expect them to entertain themselves without interrupting you. (Use your common sense. A 3-yr old might only be able to play quietly for 5 minutes without needing you. A 6-yr old might be able to occupy himself for 15 minutes or more.)
  • Teach them that feeling bad for hitting their sibling with a lamp is the appropriate response. They can learn to be sorry for something without you turning guilt into some evil tool of manipulation. (My children feel I have work yet to do on this one. After all I've done for them.)
  • Say you're sorry when you fuck up. But don't grovel. They don't want that much power over you.
Learning
  • Turn off the TV, computer and video games REGULARLY.
  • Make them play outside. Really, not virtually.
  • Read to them. Make books the prize.
  • Sing to them. They don't give a shit if your voice is scratchy and flat.
  • Teach them. Science, politics, art. Expose them to ideas. Take them to experience shit firsthand: museums, zoos, government houses, industrial kitchens, etc.
  • If you're so disposed, get a pet or plant a garden with them.
  • Don't think you need religion to teach them about spirituality and ethics.
  • Teach them that they are a part of a larger community. They are self-centered because that's their survival skill. It is up to us to widen their view.
  • When they start school, impress upon them that being a student is their job. Treat their job with as much respect and high expectations that you should have for your own.
  • Give them opportunities for creative play. The hackneyed example holds true: an empty appliance box may be a much better gift than a new dvd.
  • Let them learn about problem solving. This means that you must back out of the picture often while they struggle.
Stereotyping
  • Stop gushing over how delicate, pretty and tiny your daughter is and focus on her intelligence, strength, talents and accomplishments.
  • Balance out what your son gets about "being manly" by praising his nurturing (sorry, it's a gaggy word but that's what I have) behavior. We may even get some healthy fathering out of this one.
Nutrition
  • Feed them sanely. Occasionally the fast food siren song is too strong to resist. Once in a great while (I would suggest once a month is too much) go ahead and put some extruded nugget food in front of them. But for the most part, balance out their diets with as little processed, over-sugared, fat-laden food as you can. You don't have to mill your own organic rice flour, just make sure they get the four food groups as simply as possible.
  • Don't allow them to become picky, whiny eaters. For the love of god, don't let them turn their noses up at vegetables while they slurp down kool-aid and eat french fries. This is your job. They will learn to enjoy healthy foods if you don't give them sugary-fat crap alternatives. And they will eat if they're hungry.
General
  • Assume they will not, and should not, lead the life you wished you'd lived.
  • Don't try to undo every mistake you feel your parents made. Fate will kick your ass.
  • Remember that your goal is to produce an independent, secure, whole adult. Which means your goal is to make your job obsolete. Knock your ego out of the way.
  • Laugh a lot. And if you're a hater like me, laugh hard at yourself in addition to laughing at others.
  • Stop trying to analyze and codify (read justify) every behavior. Human beings are not that linear. Junior may be a little shit today because he woke up that way, not because he ate a fucking cookie yesterday or because his dignity was bruised when he wasn't allowed to throw his classmate off the monkey bars.
  • Most of all, tell them that you think they hung the moon; that they are wonderful. Hug them. Even when they stink. Especially when they stink. Make sure they know, no matter what, that your love for them is not contingent upon anything they do or don't do (you may like them better if they do what you want, but obedience can not be the deciding factor in your love or they will become stunted little misfits).

    Seriously. This may be the only part that makes a difference. Children survive horrible situations intact because someone (parent, grandparent, aunt, etc.) loved them unconditionally.
Unloading all my sage advice would be cathartic, vindicating and self-righteous if I hadn't fucked up so much along the way. My children, however, seem to have weathered my failings without too many scars. In the land of realistic expectations, that screams success to me.

weighing in on the feminism/stay-at-home debate

So Violent Acres has pissed off a legion of mothers and mother-defenders again. Her essay was entitled, If You Are a Stay-At-Home-Mom without Interests Outside of Your Kids, Hobbies, or Marketable Skills, You are NOT a Feminist

God, I love her. Of course, she paints with a wide stroke and seems to enjoy enraging the mommy-bloggers. Who could resist? I mean any adult who still refers to themselves as a "Mommy" should be mocked. But back to the point. The point is that choosing to be a stay-at-home-mother is not a good reason to never do anything else.

I was a stay-at-home-mother for almost five years. I loved taking care of my small children. But I never considered that important job an 18-year commitment to being at home. First of all, the domestic part almost drove me to shove Legos in my eyes. Second, I had dreams for myself that couldn't be satisfied by tending those two endearing, however demanding, children. Not to mention that children also deserve parents who don't shackle them with the "you are my whole world" millstone. Last but not least, I needed to converse regularly with other adults about anything BUT raising children.

Aside: Don't get your maternity panties in a wad, oh you stay-at-homes. Working outside the home is no indicator of feminism. I am continually amazed at how many women in positions of power (in corporate and non-profit organizations) still use the obnoxious feminine-wiles approach to management. I'm equally offended by women who mistreat/abuse their employees and hide behind feminism when someone calls them a bitch. Being a strong leader and being a cunt are not the same thing. Coquettes and Bitches do not feminism make.

how long i have waited

When I first saw this t-shirt, I knew that someday, if I believed strongly enough in the gods of irony, I would live to see this happen:





Amanda Lynn Bailey was arrested July 31, in Tampa, Fla., on drunk driving charges for the second time since April and was taken into custody wearing this T-shirt. She was charged with driving under the influence and driving without a license.

I have been rewarded for my faith.

queer theory applied to war

No. This isn't going to be some philosophical treatise on the heterosexism and war. (I'm not that well-researched and you're not that patient.)

The Queer Part
Here the deal. Most queer people look like, well, most straight people. With some fabulous and delicious exceptions.









Fabulous:


Delicious:


The way you change the uninformed is to inform them, right? Come out. It can be as simple as one of those ubiquitous rainbow stickers (gag, yes, but I have a variation on my vehicle), telling your cube neighbor that you are a dyke, faggot, trannie or biwhore (modify for your own world) or referring to your significant other as partner or lover or anything but my friend. (Those first three options suck, in my opinion, but not as much as the fourth. We have not come up with anything better yet, so use what you've got.)

Demystify/put a face on the boogieman. And liberate yourself in the process.

The War Part
So if this war makes you want to scream "The Emperor is NAKED and he's mowing down civilians and civil rights." Then, goddammit, come out about it. Seriously, do something. Bumpersticker. T-shirt. Letters to your congressional leaders. Send money to progressive organizations committed to change. Tell your neighbor.
Protest.

I'm jaded about the political process and I'm not sure protesting on the street is the key to change. But I sure as fuck know that:
  • sitting at home crying over videos of maimed Iraqi children, or
  • raging silently over the revisionist bullshit pouring our of the mouth of that moron at the helm
isn't going to change a goddamned thing.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

file under "i wish i'd have thought of that"

Teen:
So, this one time I got kicked out of Barnes and Noble for moving all the Bibles to the 'Fiction' section...

--74th & Columbus

Saturday, August 11, 2007

my avatar salutes hillary

Ah, shit, I couldn't help it. Here's my Simpsons avatar. I'm convinced that someone will (and should) do their psychology thesis on Simpsons avatar creation: how we see ourselves as cartoon characters and how that perception measures up to how others see us. My daughter created one and the resemblance (actual and symbolic) was uncanny.

This morning we went to see Hillary Clinton speak at the Communication Workers of America hall. Aside from the entertainment being way too religious (read: Southern Christian) and long, Hillary's stump speech was impressive. She is painted as so cold in the media and that's not at all how she came across. She's smart and strong and would make a great president. The Democrats have a respectable bunch of candidates. It gives me hope.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

this should cheer you right up

Fell off the (sane) wagon and watched network television last night. The good thing is that I didn't have to wait for the morning hangover to chastise me. No. Commercials and talentless hosts are like drinking Big Daddy's Ass Burn Hot Sauce after your ulcer perforates. Instant feedback that you're ass deep in a bad idea.

Have you seen the new McDonalds' ads? Soulless marketers trying to convince us that McDs offers a healthy menu by spelling their name with fresh produce. The golden arches made out of grape tomatoes. Brought to you by the godfathers of extruded foods and slicked-up colons.

Tried to find my happy place this week and last. Fucking door was dead-bolted. Could only access my Almost Happy Place: where you dream about but never really get to smack anyone. Don't know why I'm having such a fucking hard time lately. I blame it on the dizzying cocktail of


  • medications playing whack-a-mole with my moods,
  • work that makes me feel hollow,
  • stealth hormones cruising my system,
  • powerful heat and weak air conditioners,
  • pervasive and often unfounded money angst,
  • way too much:
    • political awareness,
    • food industry awareness,
    • health industry awareness, and
  • a growing fear that I've lost my way.
And, nutballs, I'm not talking about my spiritual salvation here. I'm talking about the desire to do what I love being replaced by inertia. Lethargy. Perhaps, godhelpme, ennui.

Please file this under self-indulgent caterwauling and either forget about it or quote from it when I get too high and mighty. It won't stop me from pummeling you but think of how much you'll enjoy pissing me off.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

symantec or syphilis...give me a minute to decide

Had the most blindingly bad tech support experience ever last night—and I've racked up some major time on the phone with techies in my nerdy life. I went to the Symantec Norton Anti-Virus for Mac product page and clicked on upgrade. Purchased the product and as I was about to download, I realized that the product upgrade was for Windows machines. Go figure.

After some unforgivable web maze shenanigans, I found the support "we'll call you" form. The only positive part of this labyrinthian nightmare was that they called me within 5 minutes.

I'm not sure that I can put into words how abysmal my Symantec customer service experience was with one earnest but inept CSR named Maximus. Almost breathtaking in its shititude.

Here's a brief not-verbatim* selection of my torturous conversation with Max (and godhelpme, this really is a prime example of why outsourcing tech support to other countries can be even more maddening than dealing with lousy support in your own culture):

(we're at least 15 minutes into this ordeal by now)
Max: Okay, I need to log this information.
Me: (waiting)
Max: Okay?
Me: Yes. Sure.
Max: Okay. Please hold on while I log this in.
Me: Fine.
Max: I apologize for the inconvenience.
Me: (waiting, because I felt by this time that I had given him the immense amount of support and loving assurance that he apparently needed.)
Max: Hello? (almost panicky-sounding) Are you still there?
Me: Yes. Yes, of course.
Max: Okay, okay. I'm almost finished. Just another minute. Just another minute.
Me: (swearing silently) That's fine.
Ten minutes and 10 repetitions later
Max: Okay. You will have a refund in a couple of days. In 4-7 working days.
Me: Uh...okay. So you said I can just order the Mac Upgrade with you, right?
Max: Yes. I need to go check with my manager. Okay?
Me: Sure.
Max: You hold and I'll go check.
Me: Fine.
Max: I apologize for the inconvenience.
Me: Really, it's fine. Go ahead.
10 variations on this theme and 5 minutes later:
Max: I cannot order this for you to download but I can tell you the web address and help you order it online.
Me: That's alright, I already have the site open. That's how I found the [superlative] tech support [I am presently enjoying].
Max: (Begins what scarring experience now tells me will be a 10-minute explanation about why he can't do what he said he could do earlier. The bowing, scraping and overexplaining is so homocidally tedious that I will spare you the verbiage. I cut him off.)
Me: No, really, Max, it's fine. I'm on the site right now and I'm not going to have a problem. Thanks. That's all I need.
Max: You will be receiving an email about this customer support. (Unbelievable. Add more filler here. Lorem ipsum...) Are you happy with the support I have provided? (etc. ad nauseum)
Me: Yes. Yes. You bet, Max. Everything is great. Gotta go now.
Max: Have a good day, I mean have a good evening. You have been a very nice customer...
Me: Bye-bye Max. (click)
No kidding, this experience dragged on for 30-40 minutes. Every minute of it longer than the previous. If I hadn't been concerned about making sure he refunded my account (and I won't be know if that's actually happened for a few more days) I would have just hung up.

Norton had already been irritating me with their pester bot programs and their bullshit policies. This was the coup de grâce
. I'm done. My friend Dave recommended ClamX instead and I'm willing to try some random cephalopod- pelecypod-inspired freeware rather than ever deal with Norton/Symantec again.

*not verbatim because I don't monitor my own conversations. Evidently I don't give a fuck about quality assurance or training.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

overheard at work

"intertwingled"

Some people might think this is kind of cute. You know,
intertwined becomes comingled. Twingly. But in the serious attempt at corporate bugfuckery that spawned this oral plop, it's not.

addendum (referring to a project):

"I'm going to be working towards it but I won't be working on it...if you know what I mean."

No, really. Corporate crapspeak. Every fucking day. I deserve a commendation for staying the fist of death.

not to impune the reputations of my favorite gamers

Tough Talk from a Guy in a Dungeons and Dragons Tee

Old man: Let the people off the train first! Let the people off first! You know the rules!
Young man: Sir, this is New York. There are no rules. You're living in a fantasy world.

--1 train, 110th St

Sunday, July 29, 2007

sundry school in three panels

You know how you could just watch a hundred Simpsons episodes just to see the creative way Matt Groening changes up the family rush to the couch part? I feel the same way about Red Meat titles. Here's a happy Sunday Red Meat for y'all who missed church this morning. Again.

post-eugene-post

Spent a long (but not long enough) weekend in Eugene, Oregon visiting my kids and hanging out with their friends. I love that I have children who can pre-sort the masses for me and cull out the best contestants. Almost without exception the people they like and respect are people I would want to count as my friends. And I was not disappointed. What a great time.

Of course, I'm fairly awash in post-visit blues. Not overwhelmingly, just normally. I like/love these two humans I helped usher into the world. They are (and I know this is not always the case with the fruit of our loins) my people. Bright, complex and funny. Full of intensity and ideas. Lovers of language and food and faraway places. In spite of my selfish moments of missing their presence close-by, I am delighted that they choose to take on the world in their very different but inspiring quests. Sigh.

blogs, blags, blugs

I don't care if everyone has a fucking blog and it's all sooo trendy. The people at dailykos.com and wemakemoneynotart.com have enriched my life to the point that I can't imagine a world without this medium. You have to sift through a lot of shit but there are gems out there, people.

P.S. I almost forgot the inspirational Jesus of the Week site. This week's jotw (7.28.07) is as rich as always. Jesus the gymnast. Doing the crucifix. Oh...well, jesus, this is awesome.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

some nyt disappointment

From fair.org this entry:


A Meet the Press appearance offers insight into the source of misinformation so frequent in New York Times columnist Brooks' writing. His citation of Times reporter John Burns when asserting that postponing withdrawal would "prevent 10,000 Iraqi deaths a month" prompts questioning from fellow guest Woodward, if not from their "bulldog" host:

Woodward: "10,000 dying"... where does that come from?

Brooks: Well, A, it comes from John Burns. Second, it comes from the national intelligence...

Woodward: Well, no, he doesn’t say 10,000.

Brooks: Well, no, no, but it talks about genocide.

Woodward: Yeah.

Brooks: So I just picked that 10,000 out of the air.

Meanwhile, epidemiologists who have applied the standard tools of their profession to Iraq and concluded that the death toll under U.S. occupation is approximately 15,000 a month do not have David Brooks' access to the mainstream media discussion.

Once upon a time we could depend on the New York Times to be the last word in unbiased, hard journalism. Those simpler times are gone. While there may be much that the NYT still does well, the difficult work of ferreting out the truth is back to our own hunting and gathering. That's serious work. Maybe it always was/should have been up to us to investigate, but christ, it would have been nice to depend on a few professionals out there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

new yarmulke for your putz

The Houston Press cover article this week is entitled "The Fantastic Foreskin." First of all, kudos to the clever writer who penned that. Anyway, the article is about circumcised men who feel that they are "missing something" and employ all sorts of weights and pulleys to "create" a new beanie for their little guy.

Hmmm. I am pretty adamantly opposed to circumcision, even though I succumbed to pressure and had my son circumcised twenty-odd years ago. (Actually, it was witnessing that procedure that cemented my opposition to this archaic and unnecessary practice.)

However, reversing the process seems problematic. Like making a turtleneck out of a scoop neck by stretching it. Seems like the end result would be...I don't know, ill-fitting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

tidbits

Holy Shit
I was doing some research...okay, I was stumped on a NYT crossword puzzle clue (Will Shortz can shake his finger at me 'til it falls off–I'm okay with that.) and stumbled upon these two pontifical gems:

461-468 A.D. Pope HILARIUS
468-483 A.D. Pope SIMPLICIUS
In light of the recent reversion to the Me Catholic | You Heathen categorization of the world (thank your Herr Benedick), I yearn for simpler, more hilarious times.

Another epiphenita
I have come to the conclusion that successful relationships, by that I mean mostly happy and somewhat long-lasting, are not primarily the result of love and common interests but of complementary dysfunctions. You find someone who can tolerate your nose-picking and whose toenail biting does not make you homicidal. Done.

Handmade
There's a site called The Letter Project based on the simple premise that everyone deserves to get a letter. No gimmicks, no advertising. Just some guy named Rick who will send you a letter if you ask him. Handwritten and unique. The only way you can "support" the project is to send Rick stamps. I so love this idea, I sent him some new lighthouse stamps with a letter of my own. Within the week I received a real letter. A truly lovely letter about what I wrote to him and his bike ride that day. I am moved beyond explanation by this uncomplicated gesture. I will write him back. Perhaps a greater tribute would be to make it my goal to regularly send handwritten letters to others...

State of the Nation
An idiot* monkey throwing his poo around still retains a modicum of cute. A retarded* ape with a machine gun, mowing folks down while throwing his shit around has rounded the bend to diabolical. Time to find Marlin, Jim and the big tranquilizer dart.

*let's not insult the regular primates, people.

Monday, July 09, 2007

you wonder why women love gay men?

A man writes to Dan Savage about his shameful sexual attraction to fat women. Dan Savage writes back and, among other things, tells him "You're a cowardly, hateful piece of shit." [5 July 2007]

I love Dan Savage.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

trompe tower o jesus

You know, I do love me some trompe-l'œil and some Jesus of the Week. Somewhere in my stony non-believing heart, a happy little song is playing for this one. It's all about creating illusions to deceive perception. Yeah, that's the way Christianity looks to me...

What are these three ladies doing strolling past
a twenty-foot Jesus with their heads down?
Is that one chica talking on her iPhone?
Pay attention, girls! Jesus is right above you on a brick wall
looking like He's gonna drop the Bible on your heads!
—jotw

Friday, July 06, 2007

bulletin to houston motorists

Signal first. Brake second.
Assholes.

discovery channel deja vue

The frogs are back. This is the third night of relentless trilling. Now I know why we eat them.

wow

I don't have cable, so I missed this special commentary Tuesday night (July 3, 2007) on MSNBC. But I do have access to YouTube. Watch this incredible response to Bush handing Scooter Libby his Get Out of Jail Free Card by Keith Olbermann. It's been so long since I've witnessed a mainstream television or print journalist be this honest (about anything, not the least of which is Bush's exponentially disastrous presidency), I could have wept. Some might say it's easier to criticize now that Bush's numbers are in the toilet...so how come we're not hearing much more of this? Like, every single day?

While I'm on my pinko commie fag liberal rant, go see Sicko. Really, stop pissing around about it and just go.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

oh ye goddessless

Street preacher: Oh, you poor ladies. You are on your way to Hell. Stop holding each other like that! Don't you know that lesbianism is a sin?
Girl: Dude, that's my mom!

--Jay St

Saturday, June 23, 2007

file under "o" for omg

From the sorbet of sites, have one between each political blog:

Ghetto chick: Excuse me! Excuse me! What's the name of the towers that got knocked down?
Incredulous passerby: Umm . . . The World Trade Center.
Ghetto chick to thug boyfriend: See! I told you it wasn't none of that twin towers. You thinking of Lord of the Rings.

--Vesey St

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

tuesday morning pick-me-up

Once again, from OverheardInNewYork.com:

Older man hugging younger man: Wassup, my nigga?
Younger man: Dad, cut it out. We're white.

--Leonard & Lafayette St

This shit slays me.

Monday, June 18, 2007

holy shit, something REAL

Weasels 'n Polecats
I've come up with a ferret analogy of why some of my co-workers make me absofuckinglutely crazy. I like ferrets. Mostly from a distance and behind glass but occasionally in the flesh as well. I believe if I had to cohabitate in close quarters with them, however, I'd swell up with hives and homicidal urges. So it's a proximity thing. Once in a while a potential irritant is tolerable, perhaps even likeable. Increase the exposure to 9 hours a day with only a fabric covered divider and well, you see where I'm going with this.

Playing-nice-with-others theory aside, the fact is most days I ought to be annoyed at the mindless, spin-saturated, jargon-rife patter. It is insulting and fucks over language and meaning. It is a sacrilege to truth and direct communication. For example, a direct quote I heard with my own bleeding ears:

"[let's have them]...take a very detailed, cursory glance."

Sweartogod. And that's just the surface rash. The real carcinogens dwell beneath the surface.


When someone shovels conference room-loads of bullshit and everyone around them fawns: Isn't she smart? Isn't he corporate material? it's all I can do to keep from standing on the "desk" surface of my demoralizing miniature cube and scream, "But the Emperor is Naked and He Has a Hard-On and Why Can't You See It"?

But, you know, that way unemployment lies...and this approach would have me standing on restaurant tables, car roofs and government agency countertops and the whole thing makes me too weary to bark.

Commentaterheads
Now, the latest trend in online news is to invite the public to comment on editorials, stories and whatnot. The rationale behind this is wreathed in inclusiveness and the voice of democracy and it makes me want to puke. First of all, the impetus behind this is like the impetus behind most noble crap: money. Page clicks, in this case. Give people the ability to publish their two-cents or just read the two-cents of their "regular guy" neighbor and you get more page clicks. More page clicks attracts more advertisers. Please don't make me connect any more dots.

And there's the other part of this hot new approach that sickens me. You see, the idealistic believer in democracy who has a cube of her own in the mayhem that is my head gets pummeled whenever I read the puling, lobotomied comments. Bovine troglodytes with keyboards. Racist illiterates and simpletons manipulated by fear. The self-righteous and the smug. These are my fellow Americans (insert your own country). From these lowing masses would be chosen a jury of my peers. It's another thought that chills me into staying my hand everyday.

Is that a voice in the wilderness?
Then I read something as real and raw and bullshit-free as this blog: Violent Acres*. A woman who writes about the idiocy of the war on drugs. She tells the self-pity-free, flat-out horror story of her childhood and how the system didn't just fail her, it rubberstamped her abusers.

And I, non-believer and skeptic, understand for just a moment why people form congregations.

I love that this woman doesn't give a shit about my approval. I love that she doesn't hesitate to say riotously "unladylike" things. She's not interested in playing fact wars. She draws conclusions based on her experience and observation and can't understand why so many people can't fucking do that. She doesn't think she's a good writer and in that she's dead wrong. Her writing has power and cohesion. She doesn't invite comments. I understand that. I write for the two-dozen people I've invited to read my cerebral, foul-mouthed opinionated diatribes, and it took forever to decide to publish anything to the "world."


V, you fucking rock. And I think you're full of shit and right on.

*I wholeheartedly thank my good and anonymous friend for this gem of a link and several others. My life is richer because of you.


houston mid-june a.m.

Our vehicles were sweating this morning. Not dew-covered. Dew implies something cool and refreshing. When you wake up to a humid 75°F, it's sweat. Warm, oily car perspiration.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

pink dispair

dailykos
There's a blog I really like called the dailykos.com. Markos Moulitsas Zúniga began the blog in 2002. For me, he has all the progressive credibility credentials: ex-military, fled El Salvador as a child with his family, educated, informed, intelligent and articulate. Yes, it's liberal and so am I and of course, I don't take every word as canonized truth–it's just more information than I'm ever going to get from corporate media.
He has a bunch of contributing editors to his site and I generally find the writing and links very informative.

pink pinko baby
And I love that bloggers can periodically include bits of their personal lives. Someone once said that all politics are personal and that simple cliche bears repeating. The human element can be as strong a bond as philosophical agreement.


I read with mixed feelings this entry about his two-month old daughter which features a picture of the beautiful baby. I am as big a fan of infants as some of my sisteren are of puppies and kittens and the like. Even wrinkly red,
vernix-caseosa-coated, meconium-extruding newborns are irresistible to me. Which is why my feelings are mixed. She is a lovely child. But as I looked at the photo I was dismayed at the pink, puffy-sleeved, sweet-sweet-sweet embroidered dress/blouse she was wearing for this special photo.

Ach. I love pink. But when we dress our babies in hyper-gendered outfits we handle them differently. We place exagerrated emphasis on gender importance. We handle the spun-cotton-candy-sugar like spun glass. We handle the navy blue-clad more...firmly. I can't seem to make many inroads on this issue with even my most progressive acquaintances. I get their "oh, she's on her feminist rant again" tolerantly amused faces.

There's nothing wrong with the delicate or the rough-and-tumble. However, let's seriously question the one-or-the-other approach that saturates gender perception.

get a gun, daddy
In addition to the traditional portrayal of femininitude, were the predictable comments about having a daughter:

When you have a boy, you only have to worry about 1 penis.
When you have a girl, you have to worry about five million penises.

It's always amusing to see my friends have to pull out the daddy card and be that scary man that scares off the boyfriends. A buddy of mine is already talking about getting a rifle, and his daughter's only a year old.
Well, shit. These are supposedly non-conservative, untraditional commenters. These are the liberals, feminists and progressives. And while some add disclaimers to their references about "sugar & spice," there is wistful attachment to these traditional descriptions.

When you begin with the premise that the world is chock-full of penis-wielding intruders and little girls must be protected by their daddies, you strip away the potential survival power that a female might have and replace it with fear and helplessness.

This isn't just about pink dresses.


renegade ex-mormon with coffee

Letter I recently wrote to my daughter:

as luck or coincidence would have it, the science of sleep came up in my netflix queue and arrived the same week as the 25th "anniversary of my wakefulness." June 14th, 1982: i was told i had narcolepsy and that diagnosis (and treatment) marked a dramatic change in my life.

but i never stopped loving the feeling of falling asleep.

the movie was enchanting. especially the corrugated cardboardness of it all. and how could one not delight in cotton-turned-clouds? anyway, it's making me rethink my "chaos" and how much i love having creative materials around me.

love,
mom
Narcolepsy is comedy fodder. And it should be. It's a quirky disorder that doesn't kill you but can muffle much of life's bright color if undiagnosed. But, it is a funny problem. I am grateful to the quacky internist who suggested that I might have a sleep disorder. I would have been hard-pressed to accomplish a third of what I have done in my life thus far, in that sleepy state.

Re: this post's title
Having been raised Mormon, I was ironically barred from the only non-prescription and universally available stimulant: caffeine. When I discovered coffee after my diagnosis (it was the only alternative to prescription drugs that were not an option while breast-feeding aforementioned daughter in her infancy) my system seized upon this substance. I was AMAZINGLY awake. And my virginal digestive system was in an uproar. Good times.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

if i spend too much time trying to figure out this post's title i'll never get it written

Not enough people are talking about impeaching Bush. What more does he have to do before we slap our collective forehead and say WTF? I say impeach the bastard. Then, try him for war crimes. Any other world leader with his arrogant, murderous audacity would be dragged in front of an international council and unanimously condemned.

I've been learning a little bit more about a blogging legend who passed away last week. Steven Gilliard was the founder of thenewsblog.net, died at 42 and left a big hole in the progressive blogging community. As I researched the life of this intelligent, informed man, I was amazed at the persistence of so many dedicated political bloggers out there. Ferreting out all the empty or inaccurate news and dragging it into the open. Don't they get overwhelmed by the insanity and deception? Maybe they do but I'm so glad they're out there digging around the morass of fear-fueled and lackluster media reporting.

So I'm on an RSS feeding frenzy lately. Fair.org and dailykos.com have joined the well-loved Rude Pundit to fill in some of the big holes in our glassy-eyed media reports. If I have to see one more homepage story about American Idol or Paris Hilton I will leap off the edge of my cube sohelpmegod.