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


  • 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.



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.

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"

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 grĂ¢ce
. 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.