Sunday, December 31, 2006

Fuck Your Seat Belt

Friday night, my sister and I went out with our friend Dennis to meet up with some other friends at a ska show. My sister drank a lot so I needed to be the driver but we had her car. I started driving and realized that I didnt have the seat adjusted quite right so I pulled into the parking lot of a McDonalds.

I was standing outside of the car trying to figure out how to use the eight million controls on the seat to get it right. There was a car full of drunk guys parked in a space three spaces away from us. They exchanged words with another car that was waiting at the drive-thru window. I don’t remember any yelling though or anything that sounded angry. Out of the blue, the passenger in the car at the drive up window pulled out a gun and shot several shots at the car next to us. I didnt see this but Dennis did and he told me later. After they fired the shots, the car squealed out of the parking lot.

It was truly a surreal moment. No one in the car next to us was shot nor did it look like any bullets actually hit the car. All of the guys who were in the car got out and started to check the car for damage. I jumped back inside my sister's car. She was screaming that I needed to get out of there. I put the key in the ignition and went to put my seat belt on. My sister screamed, "Fuck your seat belt, GET OUT OF HERE!" So that is what we did.

Anyhow, this is a gun incident that just reminded me how really very afraid of guns I am. I will admit it. I dont like guns.

I have mixed feelings about the gun control issue. I think most gun owners are responsible people. I can think of legitimate uses for guns even if that use is simply a hobby of target practice. But christ, it sure would be nice if we lived in a world without guns. If I thought gun control could actually accomplish that, I would probably get behind it even.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Life Without Cookie

So things are weird at my house without Cookie around. Brooke is just so good that in some ways it has been nice, i.e. I can take Brooke more places because she is better behaved and I can take her for walks without bothering with a leash because she’ll walk on heel and come when she is called.

But then, everything just seems so empty without Cookie. Brooke is a wonderful dog but her personality is more subdued than Cookie’s was. It has been too quiet at my house what with no one barking at the cat or demanding treats or whatnot.

It also has kind of sucked because Cookie really kept the cat in line. Now that Cookie is gone, the cat is doing all of the things she wasn’t allowed to do before. She is coming into my room in the middle of the night and waking me up by biting me. She is running out of the door to go outside when I let Brooke out which wouldn’t be a problem except she likes to do that at 11p when I am ready to go to bed. She has been eating the dog food again. The Cat is OUT OF CONTROL!

Ah well, I guess I just miss her.


I haven’t really felt like writing much lately. I haven’t really been reading many other people’s blogs lately either. I have given the matter a lot of thought and I think that this is mostly due to some seasonal depression I am experiencing.

This year’s depression might not actually qualify as a clinical depression. I mean, I am still functioning ok for the most part. But what has happened to me is that I find myself feeling very numb most of the time and kind of blah. I am watching a lot of movies and a lot of TV and I am reading some books albeit nothing that demands too much thought. I have been playing a lot of Soduko which I enjoy because it takes less thought than writing a blog post.

Seasonal depression is the kind of thing that can sneak up on a person especially if it isn’t the dark suicidal kind but rather the kind where everything just becomes a big effort. It is funny because I didn’t really know it had hit me until I noticed that my lotto fantasies had changed.

Usually, I dream about traveling the world and going on adventures or, in my less selfish moments, about the charity work I could do with that kind of money. But lately, I have been dreaming about winning the lotto and then…well…doing nothing. Not moving, not going on a vacation, just sitting around and watching movies. Yeah, that’s right folks: My current lotto fantasy is to quit my job and go on the Netflix 10 out at a time plan!

I hope spring gets here soon

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yes, I am a mess (and I have one too!)

God bless the New York Times. I have been kind of down lately but to be honest, I havent been spending a lot of time cleaning up my house. I used to when the house was new but now that it just the same old house where I live, I have found other things to do with my time.

And the clutter just keeps coming. And the truth is that some times I feel guilty about it which is different from the times when the mess actually starts bothering me. So from now on, I am only going to spend time cleaning up the gross things (like you know, I'll do the dishes before things grow on them and I'll clean the bathroom). I am not going to worry about the clutter at all unless it actually starts to bother me.

Next month's journey of self discovery: I will explore why I feel the need to get permission from the New York Times to be a slob. ;)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dog's Death

Cookie died while I was at work today. But I think she had a good last week.

Last Tuesday, she had a very bad day as I talked about in my last post. I was seriously going to take her into the vet to be put down last Wednesday. But then she seemed to get better – a LOT better. She hadnt been eating her dry food so I bought her a bunch of mushy food and I bought her her favorite snacks. It was almost as if she thought, “Well, I *was* going to check out but now that the service around here has finally gotten better, I think I’ll stick around for a while.”

So I didnt take her to the vet last Wednesday and instead I took her up to the lake. That is one of her favorite places and I thought she could get worse any minute and it would be nice if folks got a chance to say goodbye. But she didnt get worse, she got better. We even took a short walk that night. I took her back up to the lake on Friday. She was so excited to go that she did her little happy dance that she always would do where she would turn in circles and bark at me to hurry my ass up because we needed to go to the lake RIGHT NOW!!!

She had a really nice day at the lake on Saturday with my folks while I spent some time with a friend. Then I picked her up and brought her back home where she jumped on the couch and watched squirrels out of the window with my other dog Brooke. She went on a few adventures in the yard but mostly she slept (very peacefully). I spent some time rubbing her belly while lying in bed watching movies which is pretty much what we did Sunday too. She had to go outside a lot because her medication made her thirsty. I kept feeding her all the mushy food and special treats she wanted to eat and she seemed to be enjoying that, even going so far as to stand in the kitchen staring up at the cupboard where I keep the treats until I walked in and gave her some (which I did, of course).

Anyhow, she was doing so well that part of me thought that maybe I should tone it down with the ‘giving the dog whatever she wants’ thing because although I really loved Cookie, I know that she was just the sort of dog to take advantage of such a situation. I know this because she wasnt really my dog. She was my uncle’s dog or maybe it would be better to say that he was her person. There was no doubt who was in charge between the two of them and it wasnt my uncle! At my house, Cookie generally had to content herself with bossing the cat but she did that with such gusto it was hilarious.

But then this morning, she had a really hard time getting outside to pee and she wouldnt take a treat from me when she got back in. I came home for lunch around 3p and she wouldnt get out of bed nor would she take a treat from me. I pet her for 10 minutes or so before I had to go back to work. She didnt look in pain but she didnt look particularly well either.

And when I got home at 8p, she was dead.

I found a box in my basement and put her in it and then put the box in my car. I think my vet can arrange a cremation so I’ll take her there in the morning.

This is a picture I took of her a month or two ago.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not Blogging So Much Lately

I havent really felt much like blogging lately. Mostly because it is becoming clear that my dog, Cookie, is dying. I don’t know how many posts about that I can bring myself to post. It is what I am thinking about most of the time though.

I thought she was a goner for sure yesterday. She wouldnt get out of her bed. She was drinking water but wasnt peeing so she was getting very bloated. She wasnt eating. She wouldnt even take some salami and that dog LOVES salami so I knew it was bad. Then all of a sudden in the middle of the night, she wanted to go outside so I let her out and she peed and peed! Then, this morning she was STARVING so I fed her some canned food and she gobbled it all up!

So, she lives. For now.

It is funny too how easily one can allow one’s mind to slip into denial about things like death. When she was eating this morning, I caught myself thinking “oh thank goodness, she is going to be ok” But she isnt going to be ok for long I am afraid.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Bad Moon Rising?

As I drove home from work tonight, the moon was rising. It was this huge orange ball hanging just above the buildings of downtown as I drove down Michigan Ave. I couldnt stop looking at it, it was so beautiful. It didnt particularly match my mood though. It was at peace while I was still wound up from my day.

I have been stressed out at work because it is the holiday season and we get really busy and my bosses get especially worked up about things.

I have been worried about one of my dogs. For the past week or so, she has been very lethargic and hasnt been eating much. On Saturday, she collapsed outside - she just walked out onto the porch and fell over onto her side. I had to carry her back into the house. She recovered from that episode but collapsed again on Monday. Then she got better. Then she got worse. Finally, I took her to the Vet on Wednesday morning.

He said that she has a problem with her spine. It could be a tumor putting pressure on it or it could just be a bad back. He said that there was no point in taking an x-ray because at her age, if it is cancer, there is no point treating it (she is 13 or 14 years old). So the plan is to put her on prednisone to treat what is most likely causing her symptoms if it isnt cancer. If she has cancer, she will get worse and will most likely die in a month or two. If it isnt cancer, she should get better.

So far, I think she is getting better. She has seemed like her old self since starting this medication yesterday but it is only two days so who knows? The medication makes her thirsty though. When I came home at lunch, she had had a small accident (just a few drops really), most likely out of excitement that I was home *finally* to let her out. I think I will have to restrict her water while I am at work. That is hard though. I mean, I know that I don’t like being thirsty but then I don’t like having to piss really bad when there is no bathroom available either. Oh well. The truth is that I hope like hell that I’ll have to worry for a LONG time about making sure she has lots of opportunities to get outside.

Still, sometimes death seems so unfair to me which is funny because death is probably the most fair thing there is in the world. Every one gets a death.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fatties told, "Put down the cookies or else you will be POOR"

This weekend I read an interesting article in the New York Times that just left me shaking my head at how crazy our culture is about fat people. Basically this was an article that showed several different ways fat people experience discrimination in our culture and how that discrimination often results in fat people having lower incomes and less wealth.

Now, none of this is any great shock to me. Discrimination is part of our culture and as a fat person, I have experienced it.

But one might wonder how a respectable newspaper might approach this issue. Will they present this as a problem with our society? Or will they take a neutral objective stance and just report the facts? As it happens the NYT didn’t take either of the above approaches. The theme of their article seems to be “Health scares haven’t seemed to motivate people to lose weight, let’s give them some extra incentive by telling them that being fat will mean that they will be poorer than they otherwise would be” Here is the opening to their article:

"As you snatch a couple more Christmas cookies or down another eggnog, you might be thinking about what those extra calories will do to your health. But have you considered what they will do to your wealth? The sugar and fat will add pounds, which can lead to heart disease, diabetes and a shortened life span. There is another consequence to packing on extra weight: being fat costs money — tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime."

Surely the only reason anyone is fat is because they don’t have enough information about the consequences of being fat: The health risks, the discrimination, etc. I mean, no one would choose that right? So either fat people are lazy and are staying fat because they are too lazy to get up off their asses to take a walk around the block OR They are ignorant about the effects of being overweight OR being fat isn’t as much of a choice as people might like to think. NYT appears to take the view that if only they told us poor fat people that fat people are discriminated against and that discrimination has an economic impact, we’ll get off our fat asses and put down the Christmas cookies and eggnog. *rolls eyes*

Next the NYT will tell homosexuals that they can go straight and minorities that they should blend more with the mainstream culture.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Can I pass Eighth Grade Math???

It wasnt until after I took this silly test that I realized that I already knew I could pass eighth grade math because I already passed eighth grade math. Yup, I passed that sucker in the tradional time in one's life to pass such things: EIGHTH GRADE. Whew. If I had remembered that earlier, I could have saved myself a whole five minutes :)

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

Thursday, November 30, 2006


I was born in Detroit in 1968 which is just after the big riots of 1967. The 1967 riots, everyone tells me, were the big turning point for Detroit: the beginning of the “white flight” and the beginning of some serious hard times for the city. As it happens though, my white family didn’t head off for the suburbs until 1985.

Still, I lived the first 17 years of my life in that city. Most of my K-12 schooling was in Detroit Public Schools which is why I still find myself chuckling when folks talk about how they MUST live in the suburbs because of the good schools. But of course, I don’t have kids but I imagine that if I did have kids, I wouldn’t haul booty to Ann Arbor just because they have a better school district. But whatever, this isn’t a blog about education in the city vs the ‘burbs.

This is a blog post about culture and about art and about how there is just something really cool about Detroit that few people other than natives seem to get. But sometimes they do get it and when they do, it is a pretty cool thing to see. I had one of those moments today when I read an article in the New York Times about the new Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.

I am really looking forward to checking that place out. I hope they are able to capture some of the character of Detroit there. I think it is in a good location for that sort of thing.

Monday, November 27, 2006


This essay in the NYT got me thinking about my dogs and how much they influence my life. I cant leave them home for longer than around 8 hours. I mean, they arent like kids and I can leave them when I go to work although on my new schedule, I have to come home to let them out on my lunch hour. If I need to go someplace that will require me to be away from my house for longer, I have to find a pet sitter (and I am lucky in that regard because my parents and my sister are both willing to do it).

I have to walk them. They have ruined my furniture. They have farts that can peel paint which they often like to let loose at night while I am sleeping which causes me to wake up sputtering and coughing. I often find myself walking around town with a bag or two full of poop. They bark while I am trying to watch movies. They kill animals and then bring them to me. They get skunked

But I honestly cant imagine life without ‘em

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Thanksgiving Report

It pretty much went well this year although I had *another* pie incident. I told my mother that she would have to give me complete pie autonomy if she wished me to cut the pie and to her credit, she did just that. This year however, my cousin swooped in and decided that I wasnt cutting the pie correctly. I just let her take over though so it was no big deal. Later, when I was describing this all to a friend, she said “I don’t understand, how can you cut a pie wrong”. My only answer was that obviously I am not the one to ask. Maybe next year I will take a video of me cutting pie and take a video of my mother or cousin cutting pie and then post them online to invite the internet to compare our techniques and perhaps give me some pie cutting tips ;)

Otherwise, it was a fabulous dinner. There were 22 people there and we all manged to sit together at the same very long table. That was interesting. After dinner and after dessert, we had a bonfire outside. It was a shame that I had to work on Friday because I was having fun sitting outside around the fire but I guess that is life.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gearing up for the holiday

Thanksgiving dinner is going to be at my parents house again this year. My mother always gets really stressed out when she hosts and I think that is going to be especially so this year because there are going to be 22 people there (and five dogs*). So I have a plan:

  1. I am going to go to my sister’s house early in the day because she is having before-dinner drinks over there. We are going to give our three dogs a very long walk so they will be good and tired before the excitement of the turkey dinner and all of the people.

  2. I have bought 15 bottles of wine and 4 bottles of Asti (my mother’s particular favorite holiday drink). After my sister’s thing and as soon as I arrive at my parents’ house, I am going to uncork some wine and then I will do my best to make sure my mother’s glass is kept filled up. Some people get mean when they get drunk but luckily for me, my mother gets NICE when she gets a bit tipsy. What the heck, I’ll make sure to have a couple of glasses of wine too just so that we are all on the same page.

  3. As soon as dinner is over, I am going to get up and start clearing the table and getting the coffee and pie ready. My sister is also going to take this approach and most likely our sister-in-law and brother will also help us - my sister-in-law because she is helpful and my brother because my sister and I have always made it clear to him that if she and I have to help after parties, he has to too. Consequently, he has not grown up to be the kind of guy who would go watch football (or whatever) after dinner while the women-folk get to clean up the great meal that they cooked. I hope my sister-in-law appreciates it *snort*

  4. I have to work on Friday so I have a perfect excuse to leave early.

*Which reminds me of last year. Some of the neighbor dogs had come over and someone let them into the house by mistake which got all of the other dogs really excited. So there were seven or eight dogs running through the house and barking as some of tried to shoo them outside. My Dad was standing in the living room with his glass of bourbon talking to my cousin. He says to my cousin: You know what? I don’t even own a dog!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

This Week in Boobs

Boobs: There were a couple of stories in the news this week about boobs.

The first involved a mother in Vermont who was asked to get off a flight because of breast feeding. Ok, I will admit it. I am not totally comfortable when women breast feed in front of me. Surely this is because at least part of me has bought into the whole patriarchal idea that boobs are primarily a sexual part of the body. The thing is though, in reality, they aren’t. Breasts are primarily for feeding children. It is inexcusable for an airline staff person to tell a woman not to breast feed on a plane. This is ultimately a cultural issue and the problem is NOT women who breast feed in public, the problem is a culture that sexualizes a body part so much that people like me end up having a distorted view of the very purpose of boobs. Interestingly, the solution to this cultural problem is to encourage women to breast feed in public. For as uncomfortable as I sometimes get around breast feeding, I have become much less so as I have been exposed to it. Oh and I don’t mind mentioning that breast feeding on planes is a particular place where it should be encouraged. You see, breast feeding helps kids equalize the pressure in their ears. Which makes them more comfortable which in turn leads to LESS CRYING. Trust me, when I see a woman breast feeding on a plane, there is a part of me that wants to say to that woman, “Thanks for making my flight better!” Loud crying causes me way more irritation than my discomfort with breast feeding does!

The second major boob story this week involved silicone breast implants. The FDA has lifted the ban on silicone breast implants. What I thought was interesting about this story was that for cosmetic surgery, the cut off age is now 22. That seems strange. I mean, we let women vote when they are 18. We let them drink when they are 21. But they have to be 22 in order to get a boob job with silicone boobs? I assume a younger woman can still get a saline boob job. It just seems weird. OH well. As it happens, I am not a big fan of boob jobs for cosmetic reasons but then, I have always had really big tits so I have no idea what it is to go through life with small boobs in our culture where breasts are valued so highly as sexual items. Still, when faced with stories like this, I find myself wishing that women could learn to like their bodies the way that they happen to be. Even so, I imagine that women who are younger than 22 are perfectly able to make their own decisions about their bodies even if they might make decisions I would rather they didn’t even feel the need to make.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Things That Don't Annoy Me

I have kind of refrained from blogging for the past few days for a couple of reasons:

  1. I have been lazy and have been watching a lot of TV. Also, I bought some books over the weekend so I have been reading a lot too.

  2. I havent had anything much positive to say. I have found myself irritated beyond belief by small things.

That second one got me thinking though. I mean, I have been kind of hard on myself about being negative and being irritated by so many things. But then it occurred to me that while more than the usual number of things are bugging me at the moment (a condition I have decided is due to a lack of sunlight and the prospect of being at the threshold of a long dreary winter), there are many more things that are NOT bugging me. For every one thing that is going wrong there are many more things that are going right. So...I will make a short list of four or five things that are going right.

  • The powers-that-be pulled up that stupid unused railroad crossing on Michigan Ave at Lincoln St.. Even though that happened a few weeks ago, I am still swerving my car to avoid the potholes that were always there and have always been there for the entire six years I have lived on this side of town (except of course, for the day or two after the road crews would patch them up). I will say this though, every time I swerve and then realize that there is solid concrete under my car instead of an old falling apart railroad crossing with perpetual potholes, I get a little giddy with happiness.

  • I am finding that I have plenty to do and plenty of people to do things with. I am not bored or lonely.

  • I have already done some of my Christmas shopping and the rest is going to be easy easy EASY. You see, I decided to make a commitment to spending as much of my Christmas budget at stores located in the City of Ypsilanti as possible. I don’t know why I didnt think of this before. This means, no going to the mall (which I hate) and no driving long distances only to wait in long lines at some impersonal chain store. Fa la la la la la, no more Christmas bull shit for me. No siree, it is going to be unusual and unique gifts from hip local establishments where I don’t have to worry about parking or long lines. (Although I wouldnt mind the long lines at those places)

  • I like my hair most days.

  • I got a fun post card from a couple of friends who are staying in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Still Just Hanging Out...

I went back to Detroit last night and hung out with the old gang again. I think one of the nicest things about reconnecting with old friends is being reminded why I liked them so much in the first place. I had forgotten how much fun this bunch can be.

Brent gave me a CD with some photos he took last Wednesday. I picked a few of my favorites although I pretty much had to leave the ones with Anna off the blog since she doesnt want to be all up on the internet and shit. I snuck one in but you cant really see her face so it should be ok.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yay for the Internet

Hmmm. I was quite pleased when I woke up this morning. I got to log onto the internet and find out how very very well the elections went yesterday for the most part. I wasnt happy that Proposal 2 passed. But ok, I am sure that programs can be designed to help the same people in need and I am sure they will be so, hopefully, this proposal wont have a huge impact on people. We'll see though.

I ended up spending the rest of my day far away from my computer and the internet but I was only able to do that BECAUSE of the internet. You see, I was talking on the phone to a friend of mine and we were talking about some mutual friends of ours, some of whom I havent seen in 20 years! She mentioned that these folks were on MySpace of all things. That's right, MySpace - the online hangout of teenagers everywhere. It seemed silly to me to create a MySpace page but I did it anyways. And lo and behold, there those people were. Some of these folks I had tried to find over the years via google even but unsuccessfully. And there they were!

So I went and hung out with them today. It was really nice.

I'll post some photos later.

Oh yeah, and that rat bastard Rumsfield resigned. That was the icing on the cake of my day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

November 7 - Election Day 2006 (How I am voting)

Governor – I think that Jennifer Granholm has done a very good job as our governor. I think she has been fiscally responsible during hard times. She hasn’t done anything terrible like the previous governor did. I think she works hard for the state. She will be getting my vote. I want to point out too that sometimes she says things that are soooooo stupid that I find myself cringing. I think she means well though and I think she is like a lot of people and just not all that great at off the cuff witty repartee. I used to think that she was stupid but then I started paying closer attention to what she was doing and what she was saying that wanted to do. No, she is not stupid. She is probably the best governor this state has had in my lifetime. Plus DeVos is connected to Amway which is one of the only corporations in the world I think might be more evil than Walmart what with their pyramid scheme marketing that scams their own customers and all. Maybe if we elect him we can call up Ohio and tell them that if they can sign up West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania in our new Tax Revenue pyramid scheme, they can be rich (assuming of course that each of those states signs up two or three others). Soon Michigan can be funneling tax revenue from ALL 50 STATES into our coffers and we will be RICH RICH RICH! (or not)

Attorney General – Only vote for Michael Cox if you hate gay people. If you want to know just what I mean by that, read THIS

U.S. Senator – I will admit that I don’t know much about Michael Bouchard. I will also admit that I am going to be very lazy about this race and vote for the incumbent because she hasn’t done anything that I didn’t like or at least I haven’t noticed her doing anything that I haven’t liked. So, Stabenow gets my vote for sure.

15th District Representative in Congress – I’ll vote for John Dingell although I am tempted not to. I don’t have any particular reason not to except that I liked it better when he was someone else’s representative in Congress and we had Lynn Rivers.

18th District State Senator – Liz Brater. I get literature and pamphlets from her once in a while. I always think her views on things are pretty close to mine and when they aren’t, she seems to have good reasons for taking the positions she takes.

54th District State Representative – Alma Wheeler Smith for pretty much the same reasons as I like Liz Brater.

In the local races, I guess I am voting for Paul Schreiber for mayor and Brian Robb for City Councilmember since no one is running against either one of them. I guess that election really happened in August since there are no Republicans to speak of in Ypsilanti apparently.

And here are some opinions I have about the proposals.

Proposal 1 – This is the first of a couple of proposals to amend the state constitution to put budget constraints on the state government. Generally I think that is a bad idea because who knows what the needs or desires of the people will be in the future? Still, I value conservation and recreation and keeping those programs. So I am kind of on the fence about this one although honestly I am leaning towards voting no on it. I would support, however, regular old laws made by the regular legislature and signed by the governor that would earmark money for state parks and the DNR and whatever else.

Proposal 2 – The one that would ban affirmative action programs. This was a hard one for me, believe it or not. When I first heard about this one, I thought that it sounded like a good idea. I think I thought this because I wish we lived in a world where affirmative action programs are no longer needed. But then I took a long hard look at things and I have decided that discrimination still exists and so as a State, we are not quite ready to give up on affirmative action programs. But maybe someday we will be.

Proposal 3 – Part of me wants to vote no JUST TO PISS OFF The Nuge. Part of me wants to vote no because I don’t like hunting. But I figure that since I love eating the flesh of dead birds myself, far be it from me to stop others from catching their own. So, I’ll be voting yes on this one.

Proposal 4 – This is the one that will keep the government from using eminent domain to seize property that they will then turn over to a private business. I can understand why it is sometimes desirable for governments to do this. However, I also can understand why a home owner might not like it when that happens. I mean I wouldn’t like it. So the main reason I like this proposal is that it still gives the government a way to seize property but it requires them to pay 125% of the value. I think this will provide some disincentive for governments to use this power and I think that is a good thing. But if the project is important enough, there is still a way to get it done. So, this one gets a yes vote from me.

Proposal 5 – This is the one to give money to the schools. I hate schools and I hate teachers too. Oh and kids. And puppies. Just kidding. I am still going to vote no on this one for pretty much the same reasons I am going to vote no on proposal 1. I think that schools are important but I also think that other things like police departments, fire departments, public health departments, community mental health agencies, etc are important too. I fear that this proposal jeopardizes all of those other programs.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Worldwide Feminism

One thing I have learned over the years is that it is pretty easy, as an American, to forget that there is actually a world out there beyond our borders populated by people who dont want to be Americans. It is also easy to forget sometimes that while human beings the world over are very similar and generally want many of the same things, others might take a different road towards achieving those things.

Anyhow, one of the great gifts of the internet and blogging is that it gives me the opportunity to occasionally read blogs written by people from other parts of the world. One of my favorite blogs is written by a young Iranian woman named Proshat. It is a blog I encourage everyone to check out if for no other reason that to serve as a reminder that there are good people in Iran and that there are women there with a voice. We live in a time where our leaders here in the USA refer to this country as part of "an axis of evil" and the possibility of war with this country is anything but far fetched. We all need to remember that there are GOOD PEOPLE there as there are good people everywhere.

Anyhow, this post of mine really isnt to talk about Proshat (although she is wonderful). It is to talk about a post I found from a link on Proshat's blog written by a friend of hers, Sunnaz. Sunnaz writes about feminism in Iran (in English!). It is a rather interesting view into the feminist movement in an islamic society.

She writes:
Islamic history offers modern feminist role models (instead of western ones that are alien to them and generally viewed as a tool of patriarchal capitalism). These Islamic role models are used to accommodate present needs.

I thought this was particularly interesting. It is pretty common for feminists here in the USA to assume that our cultural context is easily applied to every other feminist movement in the world. And yet, how can it be? Issues like wearing burkas or wearing the hijab are examples of things most western women simply cannot grasp fully . It is important for us to remember that while we might wish to support women all over the world, we must allow them the space to create movements themselves because such movements will be more likely to work well within their particular cultural framework.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Same Thing We Do Every Night, George

My friend Henry sent me this picture he drew recently. And even though I did not really get the joke until it was explained to me because I have never seen Pinky and the Brain, I still thought that the RAT reference was appropriate.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On the pressure to be pretty...

I was reading a post today written by chicalookate where she writes: "The return of leggings... Why? (If I can see your celulite your pants are too tight.)"

It reminded me of a post I read recently about being pretty*. A post which was inspired by a discussion about leggings.

Erin at A Dress A Day (a fashion blog) writes a post that sums up exactly how I feel whenever discussions about fashion faux pas crop up.

She writes: But what does you-don't-have-to-be-pretty mean in practical, everyday terms? It means that you don't have to apologize for wearing things that are held to be "unflattering" or "unfashionable" -- especially if, in fact, they make you happy on some level deeper than just being pretty does. So what if your favorite color isn't a "good" color on you? So what if you are "too fat" (by some arbitrary measure) for a sleeveless top? If you are clean, are covered enough to avoid a citation for public indecency, and have bandaged any open wounds, you can wear any color or style you please, if it makes you happy.

I have always felt somewhat uncomfortable when discussions come up about how people look and especially discussions about the clothes people wear but never have been able to verbalize well why I feel that way. This post says what I would have said if I had been able to come up with the words. No one owes it to anyone to be pretty or to dress a certain way. The only time I have personally heard such comments directed at me have usually been at the beach when people will sometimes remark that they think that fat people should just stay at home rather than subjecting normal people to the site of our fat rolls (a condition that apparently can ruin some beach goers whole day) and I have always felt that it seemed pretty arrogant of them to assume that I would have any interest in improving their aesthetic appreciation of the beach rather than being there for my own enjoyment.

*hat tip to Body Impolitic for the link.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Battlestar Galactica Character Gets Fat

BattleStar Galactica

I don’t get the Sci Fi channel so I have to download Battlestar Galactica from iTunes. I finally got around to downloading the first four episodes of Season 3 this weekend. It is as good as ever and better in some ways. It is a brilliant show.

But I do have one quibble with the writers. At the beginning of the first episode they apparently wanted to show that one of the main characters had lost his edge and had become weak and “soft” and not as capable of being a leader as he had been previously. The writers wanted to show all of this quickly and apparently didnt want to waste a lot of time. So how did they accomplish this? Why, they made the character gain weight of course!

This character then gets wake up calls as people close to him point out his weight to him and admonish him for “being weak” and for “getting soft” while making it clear that one of the main symptoms of that is his weight. Only one character says anything at all that kind of separates the issue of weight and personality flaw by saying something like “you have gone soft and I am not talking about the weight” but otherwise, it is pretty clear that the weight is being used as a plot device to make it VERY CLEAR to the viewer that this character just doesnt cut the mustard anymore and isnt a leader. He is fat because he is weak (and only weak people get fat). He is fat because he is having trouble making hard decisions and is thus “soft.” Interestingly that term “soft” is pretty much the same as calling a guy a “pussy” and is as much a reference to body fat as it is a reference to femininity but I will excuse the patriarchal language because the show has so many women characters who are portrayed in such strong ways. The point is though that this guy’s character has a major defect that is visually apparent. We might not notice his flaw except that it made him fat. .

Over the course of the first few episodes of the series, this particular character goes though some soul searching and eventually regains his mental edge and his leadership potential. The story arch of this character’s struggle ends with him making a comment about how he has an appointment with a jump rope: the clear message being that now that he has regained his edge and has become a leader capable of making hard choices again, his body will soon follow. Because of course fat people can just lose weight by jumping rope a little bit and because, of course, a person with leadership abilities and good decision making skills wouldnt allow himself to remain fat.

Now, of course I realized that the writers might not have intended any of that as a slight against fat people. And I think that having a character gain weight is a valid way of showing that a character who formally worked out enough to be rather buff has stopped doing that for whatever reason. But in the absence of any fat characters on the show who are shown being strong and good leaders, it makes the use of a weight gain to show weakness particularly stinging to me.

But other than that, HOLY COW is this season shaping up to be amazing. If you havent watched this show yet, get out and rent the first couple of seasons. Do this even if you generally don’t like Science Fiction as a genre because this show is a well written drama that gets into some pretty interesting issues: abortion, election stealing, occupied nations, religion, etc.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Chadwick Florest (I think)

Fall used to be my favorite season because it is hands down the most beautiful time of the year here in Michigan. Plus it is the season that has Halloween in it and that is a whole holiday that revolves around dressing up the way you really want to and eating CANDY. Lately though, I think that summer is my favorite season but Autumn is a close second and even though the days are shorter and colder than in summer, there are moments of breathtaking beauty that almost make up for not being able to go swimming and see sunshine.

I pretty much drive the same route to and from work every day and I have driven that same route pretty much every day for years. Every fall, I notice this place because I drive by just at the time when the sun strikes the red leaves of this bush in just the right way. I kind of like old signs too. Every year I tell myself that I will stop and take a picture of it but I usually either forget my camera or am too eager to get home after work so I dont. This year, however, I finally took the picture. I am glad I did too because I have learned that old signs like that can disappear overnight and then they are lost forever.

Monday, October 23, 2006

OH those crazy senior citizens!

Sometimes my family is goofy. This was an actual exchange between my
father and his sister.

Aunt Ann: So? Are you coming over to my house for Christmas?

Dad: Sure, when is that?

Aunt Ann: Um...December 25th

Dad: So it is the same as last year? Oh good.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Church of the Slot Machine

I am an generally an atheist. But every once in a while, I have a moment where I find myself wondering if just maybe...there might be a God/Goddess/Higher Power, etc. Mostly is because of some long talks with a friend of mine who believes that God sends people into our lives or puts us into situations in order to teach us something. And while I don’t actually believe that, I do occasionally ask myself, “If there were a Goddess and she put me in this situation, what is the lesson I am supposed to learn”? And then there are times when the lesson just seems oh-so-obvious. I had a brief moment of that tonight...

I went to Detroit with a friend to go to one of the casinos there. I went even though I think that I have a personality that could be prone to developing a gambling problem. I probably shouldnt go at all but I *really* like it. I like it enough that I can justify my losses as an entertainment expense as long as I can keep control of myself while I am there in the casino.

Money is a little bit tight for me this week so I told myself that I would only allow myself to lose $20. $20 is an amount, btw, that can be lost in a casino in a matter of seconds if one is not careful. But no matter, I can nurse my $20 by playing the low denomination slot machines which generally means that since I am not risking much, I don’t stand to win much either. But that is ok. Still, it is hard for me.

Anyways, I had $100 in my pocket because earlier in the day, I went to the bank and got out that $100. But I pretty much need $80 of it for the rest of week for things like buying lunch at work and for buying VERY IMPORTANT things like...oh I don’t and beer. At any rate, after a couple of very enjoyable hours in the casino, I had lost $12 or so but I found myself in a state of mind where I wanted more. I could feel the $80 burning a hole in my pocket. I kept having a compulsion to just put it all in a slot machine and go mad. There is something about all those lights and ringing bells that makes me feel I just must put the money into the slot machine.

So there I was with “MUST PUT MONEY IN SLOT MACHINE” running through my mind like some kind of crazy mantra. But it was getting late and I was resisting the urge to see how fast I could lose the rest of my money in a slot machine.. I chose that moment to remark to my friend that it was probably a good time to leave because she had won $70 or so and I had only lost $12. I told her too that we HAD to go because I was feeling like I didnt want to be in control anymore and if I lost that $80, I was going to be grumpy and no one wants *that*! I even said something about how I thought I could be the type of person to have a gambling problem.

And just then a haggard looking woman walked up to me and asked me for a dollar. And I thought, “Now there is a person with a gambling problem.” Because I imagine that she must have lost everything but even after that couldnt bring herself to leave the joint. The timing was perfect too and certainly firmed up my resolve to quit before losing more dough. And I have to admit that if I did believe in God, I would think that woman was sent to me just then to help me as I learn to control at least one of my bad habits.

But I don’t belive in God so I suppose it was just a fortunate coincidence for me (although not fortunate for the woman begging money on the floor of the casino).

Monday, October 16, 2006

An Ypsilanti Pizza Review

Cici's Pizza

I skipped lunch today. That is my excuse. You see, I was *really* hungry when I drove by that new Cici's Pizza Buffet place. I decided that pizza sounded good for dinner and somehow the rumbling in my tummy turned my brain off. Otherwise, it might have occurred to me that the pizza in a place located in the same strip mall as WalMart, that advertises an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet for under $5, might not have the best pizza in town.

While I was waiting for the pizza I ordered, I took the opportunity to take a look at their buffet. It seemed pretty straight forward. There were three kinds of tossed salads differentiated as far as I could tell mostly by the type of dressing they put on the lettuce (italian, ranch, or ceasar). There were some uninspiring looking breadsticks and some decent looking desserts. There were around a dozen different kinds of pizza and also pasta with a choice of marinara or alfredo sauces.

I decided to get a medium pizza "to go" since I wasnt in the mood to eat in. I ordered just a plain old pepperoni pizza because I believe that pepperoni pizzas are the pizzas to judge all other pizzas by. If a place can make a decent pepperon pizza, it is a good bet that all of their other pizzas will pass muster too. I have to say that after eating a slice of the pizza I ordered, I immediately realized how Cici's might be able to turn a profit on their all-you-can-eat buffet because I realized that one slice was about all I could eat of this pizza. The dogs liked it though but they eat cat poop at every opportunity so I wouldnt take it to mean much that they liked it. Although I havent eaten Domino's Pizza in years, I think that this pizza might be even worse or at the very least along the same vein. It isnt entirely uneatable and might appeal to someone who just wants something bland that tastes like cheese and tomato sauce on cardboard. I will give Cici's one thumbs up though. They do seem to use a pepperoni that has *some* flavor to it. Not enough to make it worth anyone's while to actually go there though.

Domino's Pizza

I have decided to include Domino's Pizza in my review mostly because I think it is one of the world's great ironies that one of the world's largest sellers of bad pizza could get its start in a town like Ypsilanti Michigan where there is good pizza everywhere. Before going to Cici's, I would have said that Domino's makes the WORST pizza in town but now I think they might have a run for their money.


The truth is that I have only had a proper pizza from Aubree's a couple of times. I seldom seem to order pizza there anymore though because I usually seem to end up there during happy hour when their Calzones are half price. But Calzones are really just folded up pizza so I feel qualified to write a review of Aubree's pizza.

Generally I think that Aubree's Pizzas are pretty darn good. They might even be the best pizza in town. The crust has a nice texture and flavor. The sauce has character. The toppings are of a quality one would expect from a good pizza. All in all, a winner. I would even say Aubree's happy hour half price calzones are the best pizza value in all of Ypsilanti except that I usually find myself having a couple happy hour mojitos or martinis or whatever the drink of the day happens to be so I end up spending more money than I would otherwise and sometimes have to walk home afterwards. Oh well, the atmosphere is good there and I usually go with friends so it is all good. In fact, I can honestly say that Aubree's is one of my favorite places to meet up with folks.

Mr Pizza

This is a local chain but you know what, it is pretty darn good pizza. It isnt very expensive either. The have all the usual things that make a good pizza. Good toppings and good sauce. It is their crust that I like the best though. It is all nice and crispy on the outside but really soft on the inside. It is strong enough to hold the toppings without tasting like cardboard. I probably eat their pizza the most because it is so cheap and so close by that I can easily take advantage of their pick-up specials.

Mr Pizza has a menu that includes a lot of non-pizza items and also has a catagory that I like to think of as "things we can make out of pizza dough." My very favorite guilty pleasure from that section of their menu are the cinnamon sticks which are pizza dough with cinnamon sugar and vanilla icing. It is sugar shock in the extreme so I dont get it very often but if you are jonesing for some sugar, it is one pretty good way to get it. I like those things more than I like donuts.

Happy's Pizza

This is a pretty new place over near the corner of Michigan Ave and Ecorse Rd. I tried it a few months ago right after they opened. I dont have much to say about them . Their pizza was decent but not as good or as cheap as Mr Pizza's which is it's main competition. Like Mr Pizza, they have a huge non-pizza menu. Basically, my opinion of them is that you wont go wrong there but why bother when Mr Pizza and Aubree's are only blocks away?

Tower Inn

This used to be my favorite pizza in town when I lived on College Pl. just a couple of blocks away. I loved it. And for some reason, I havent eaten there even once in the last six years since I moved ALL THE WAY ACROSS TOWN to where I live now. I feel bad about that since ALL THE WAY ACROSS TOWN is probably less than a mile.

Tower Inn has that whole EMU campus thing going on. There are always lots of students in there and that gives it a nice atmosphere, imho. It is also the only place I can think of in town where one can get a greek pizza with gyro meat as an item *and* get an order of OPA! cheese too. Plus they are right by Ypsilanti's famous water town (hence the name, I imagine). So I guess I want to give them an honorable mention even though "I havent eaten there in six years" might not be the glowing review they deserve.

That is it folks although there are lots more pizza places in Ypsilanti. If there is one thing that is nice about Ypsilanti, it is that there are no shortages of places to get good pizza. So where are your favorite places to get pizza?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Some Thoughts on Feminism

One of the things I have been thinking about a lot lately because of some discussion I have read on various feminist blogs has been about make up and girly things and how those fit into feminism or how they don’t as the case may be. A lot of discussion has been around how such things are not tools of empowerment but rather survival skills in a patriarchy. Many are saying that it is perfectly reasonable for a woman to employ traditional trappings of femininity in order to gain power from men since it is still one way to do it. Some say that since women now have other options, options that result in women actually being seen as capable, they should leave the trappings of femininity behind. Others say that one should just do what one wants to do and should wear makeup and get married or whatever they else they want to do as long as they recognize that when other women chose not to do those things, it is a valid choice. I have to admit that I am in that camp. I simply cannot bring myself to get offended when another woman shaves her legs or puts on lipstick.

The discussion brought up some other thoughts though. One blogger, while talking about her love of things feminine made a comment along the lines of “no one ever accused me of being a feminist because I couldn’t find a man” (I cannot for the life of me remember which of the dozens of feminist bloggers I read who said that so I apologize for not giving credit.). That particular line got me thinking more about feminism than any other thing I read. Because you see, to me…lipstick is just lipstick and shaving one’s legs is something a person either does or doesn’t do and generally I don’t think about it too much unless I feel that I am being judged for not wearing makeup and not often shaving my legs or not having a man in my life as a romantic partner. You see, the thing of it is…I think that I am a feminist because I cant get a man. Seriously. (we will all just forget for a moment as I often do that when I say that I cant get a man, what I really mean is that I cant get a man that I want. I suppose if getting a man were my only concern, I could choose someone I am not interested in)

Ok. So here is the thing. By and large, I have been rejected by the patriarchy. I get no power from men. Men do not generally pay me compliments. Men generally do not ask me out. Sometimes men treat me badly because of how I look. Some women do too but they are usually women who get a lot of positive attention from men. Like it or not, getting a lot of attention from men gives women power in our culture. Less so than in times past but even today a woman can trade her beauty for economic security. It isn’t an accident really that most women’s economic position rises considerably with marriage. Men’s economic positions also rise with marriage but there seems to be less of an effect. There are other less obvious ways that women often find their self worth attached to the attention they get from men. I see this everywhere. From the shelves of books at the bookstore with instructions on how to get a man or how to keep a man to the comments made by single women along the lines of “Lots of men want me, I am single because I want to be” which may be true but still acknowledges that the attention of men is a valuable thing for a woman. (And to be fair, the attention of women can be valuable for a man but it seems different to me somehow and I am sure it is a power differential I am sensing)

Men, for whatever reason, are often attracted to women who take an effort to appear feminine. Now, of course there are all kinds of women who don’t wear make up and dont shave who still find themselves shacked up with some guy. I will just say that if one happens to be very overweight and also chooses not to wear makeup, high heel shoes, feminine clothing, etc that one’s odds of finding a guy drop considerably.

At any rate, at some point in my life, I stopped internalizing the bad messages our patriarchal culture was giving me that I was somehow not deserving because of my body or my choice be somewhat hairy and without lipstick on a regular basis. I stopped being offended by the phrase “women in comfortable shoes” since I generally like to wear comfortable shoes. What is wrong with comfortable shoes? Eventually, I decided that the real problem was outside me and that it was a problem with the culture at large and it was feminists and feminist writing that helped me see that. It was feminists who helped me take all of that self-loathing and put it outside me. And at some point I realized that I could starve myself and spend more time than I wanted to molding myself into a version of myself that was more approved by our culture OR I could just be the me that I have learned to love. I could learn that it is ok for a woman to choose to be herself even if it means not attracting a man. That was a very freeing moment in my life because once my sense of self worth was no longer in any way attached to attention from males, I could stop worrying about the lack of male attention I was getting and I could start paying attention other, more important, things.

And so…I have accepted that I am a single woman. But being a single woman has also made me appreciate feminism all the more. You see, married women do not feel things like the wage gap as much as single women do because their household’s incomes include a man’s income although I imagine that divorced women and especially divorced women with children feel the wage gap even more than single women do. Being single has made me appreciate the advances that have been made by feminists before me. I can have a job that is something other than being a librarian, a nurse, a teacher, or a social worker. I can own property and get a mortgage. I can vote. In short, I can do everything I need to do in order to have a fulfilling life even without a man.

More than just that though, being a single woman has given me a point of view of the outside looking in. There are a lot of amazing women in the world who have been blessed with incredible good looks, who get lots of positive attention from our patriarchal culture who have managed to still see all of the things I see. There are men who have managed to become feminists too. Those men and women are amazing. I don’t think I would have been one of those women though. I suspect that if I were given lots of power by the patriarchy, I would probably have used it for evil instead of for good. I think I needed to be challenged strongly in order to form my views in a way that was different than the patriarchal culture I was brought up in. I needed to be a woman in order to understand male privilege. I needed to be fat in order to understand how unfairly fat people and fat women in particular are treated in our culture. I say this because even with the challenges I have been given, I still accept at least some of the patriarchal notions of our culture. But I am working on it.

I know that is a thought somewhat far away from “is it ok for feminists to wear lipstick” but there you go. Sometimes I start in one place and end up someplace completely different.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I didn’t quite do all of the things I needed to do in order to get ready for the cold but I did a lot of them. Enough that I know my furnace is working and all my windows are shut and the room air conditioner has been put away. I still ended up scraping some ice off my car with a credit card this morning but hey, that’s life right?

Today we had our first snow and some of the snow even stuck to the ground for a bit. That is soooo Michigan. It was in the high 70’s on the weekend and now, just a few days later, it is snowing. We will probably have a few more warm days before winter sets in for good. But then it is darkness and cold for months.

I have been pretty busy lately and exhausted after work. So I haven’t been blogging much. It isn’t really that I don’t have the time, it is that I am usually mentally gone at the end of the day. I still think about all kinds of things but seem to have trouble putting them into words.

I will try to do a more meaningful post though. I have some interesting thoughts kicking around.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Getting Ready for Winter

I am getting ready for winter. I have a lot to do. I did one thing this weekend but an important thing. I went to Costco and bought enough toilet paper to last me until Spring. It might seem like a silly thing but trust me, there is some kind of weird thing that happens around here whenever a heavy snow is forecast: People run out to the store and buy toilet paper and water. It is weird. I might say that I dont get it except I can imagine that one time a person simply doesnt want to have to run to the store because they ran out of toilet paper is when there is a foot of snow on the ground!

So now that is done. The rest of my list is just more chores:

  • Bring in the air conditioner from the bedroom window. I think I am safe and wont have need of it until next summer.
  • Close up the upstairs bedroom. I am going to put plastic on the windows up there and also close off the vents. No point in heating it more than I have to. It didnt even occur to me to do those things last year. I hope doing that will make my heating bills a little lower.
  • Put up plastic sheeting on all windows except the front window that the dogs like to look out of.
  • Change the furnace filter and turn the furnace on to make sure it works. Yup, once again, I had all summer to change that darn filter and once again, I wait until the last minute :)
  • Mow the lawn.
  • Find the snow shovel
  • and maybe find the ice scraper for my car. I know I wont get around to this one but I always put it on my list in the hopes that maybe one year, I wont find myself trying to scrape frost off the windshield with a credit card on the first big frost.

Sometimes when I look at my list, I have to remember to be grateful that I dont have nearly the preperation for winter people in the past used to have. I dont have to put up food for the whole winter. I dont have to cut and stack enough wood to heat my house for a whole winter. I dont have to do a lot of things. Yup, things could be a lot more difficult for me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Literacy: A Lost Art?

Some years ago, I came across a website about someone named George who did tech support. I do tech support and since my job is to take escalations from the people who answer the phones, I sometimes would get frustrated by the cases escalated to me. They don’t always contain the information I need. Sometimes basic troubleshooting steps are left undone, especially if it is a newer person answering the phone. I always loved the George website because I could always take comfort in knowing that no matter how badly I had it, no one I worked with was as bad as George. Because while sometimes people might be lacking in technical knowledge or might not have basic troubleshooting skills, at least they were literate and I could understand them.

No so anymore. I don’t know where some of these people have come from but I am constantly amazed at the cases that get escalated to me. We have not one “George” either but at least a half a dozen of them, not counting the two people for whom English is a second language. I mean seriously, these people are functionally illiterate. They cannot spell. They cannot write in complete sentences. They cannot figure out even the most basic things. In fact, they are so bad that when I recently visited the George website because they reminded me of it so much, I realized that George would be an improvement!

Now I realize that my bad habit of not editing my own posts on this blog really means that I shouldnt be shaking the grammar and spelling stick at anyone else. I am often sloppy and lazy in my writing. And yet people seem to understand what I write for the most part. These people at work are beyond terrible.

It makes me wonder about the current labor market. I mean Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the ENTIRE COUNTRY. While the entry level tech support jobs don’t pay especially well, they pay a lot better than places like WalMart or McDonalds. One would think that basic writing skills would not be too difficult to find. But apparently that is not the case. Still it has me wondering about the labor market in my area. Is there a shortage of people with a basic education? Is this some kind of fluke or a sign of a larger problem?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

So Yummy

I am not a person who naturally eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. It isnt that I don’t like them, it is just that I like other things, like chocolate chip cookies, more. So I have to sneak them into my diet. I make sure I always buy them when I go shopping so I have them lying around and I do things like cut raw celery up so that when I am hungry, they will be the easiest thing to eat. I like to think of it as making my laziness work *for* me.

So I want to share my latest yummy dish which gives me a triple whammy of fruit serving and fills me up enough that I count it as a whole meal. I take three apples and cut them up. I am lazy so I usually leave the skins on but I’ll admit this is better if you bother to peal them. I put the cut up apples in a bowl and I put a small pat of butter on them followed by a shot of dark rum and some cinnamon. I microwave it all for 3-4 minutes until the apples get hot and soft. Then I take it out and put granola and maybe a little plain yogurt on top. YUM!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nothing Much Happening Here

I have been in a bad mood for the past couple of days which is OK. I sometimes just get into bad moods. But this time, I don’t have any particular reason to be in a bad mood or at least I don’t have a reason that I am especially conscious of. It is possible that I am avoiding something emotional somewhere. Or it might be that my new work schedule is particularly bad for my tendency to get depressed when the days are shorter. I think I will have to find my full spectrum light. Oh well, I am sure it will all come to the surface sooner or later and then I and my good friends Ben and Jerry can have a little pity party and it will be all cathartic and wonderful and I can embrace some glorious sadness that brings me to my knees ala Sarah McLachlan.

I have been mostly pretty anti-social since my return from my vacation which is ok because I think I needed some alone time. I did go up to the lake last weekend where I found the road closed. So I parked my car in a nearby subdivision and walked in and chatted with the neighbors who were also the workers because that is how things are done up there. If the road needs fixin’ the guys on the street do the fixin’. They seemed be enjoying themselves though driving a tractor and spreading gravel all over the place. Some guys dig that kind of thing I guess.

I have been filling my time watching Rome, an HBO series. I had high expectations for this TV show since I am quite fond of all things from Ancient Rome. I even took Latin in high school which allowed me the privilege of reading De Bello Gallico in Latin. Rome is one of the few European cities I have actually visited. But I find that I don’t love this show as much as I expected and I think it is because some of the historical licenses they take bug me. I suspect that if I didn’t know as much about Roman history as I know, I might find myself enjoying it more. As it is, they keep to history for major plot points so I know what is going to happen. I mean, it wasn’t a surprise to me when Caesar crossed the Rubicon and entered Rome nor was it a surprise to me when he found no resistance there. But then there are details they change to make things more interesting and that bothers me too. Oh well. I think I would have preferred an entirely fictional drama with Roman characters that were not of historical note.

On a more local note, someone finally bought the house next door to me which has been vacant for the entire six years that I have lived in my house. And luckily for me, the new owner of the place seems very nice. She has a couple of kids who are nice too. I think she and her family will make a nice addition to our block. Whatever fears I had about some jerk moving in there are gone now and it makes me happy to see such a nice family move in.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

RSS Feed

I just wanted to mention that I have placed a button near the bottom of this page to make it easier to subcribe to this blog using a favorite RSS feed reader, bloglines. I'll post it here too:

Subscribe with Bloglines

I have found that using an RSS feed reader has made blogging much easier for me. It allows me to read blogs that arent updated frequently without needing to check them every day. It also allows me to keep everything somewhat organized.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Fun Blog in The Tradition of Found

I have been under a lot of stress the past few days. It is AMAZING how much damage a simple little command like "del /s *.*" can do to a server. The very best part was knowing who the idiot was who would do such a thing (slowly raises hand). Le Sigh

At any rate. I was in serious need of a laugh to day and decided that goofing off on the internet for a short break was probably going to save my company money since I cant do too much damage while reading blogs. And I came across just the medicine I needed. A blog written by someone with the sort of mean humor I love soooooo much. Yes, I am clearly not the only idiot in the world.

Left Behind at the Fishbowl

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Phone Company

There is one practice that seems to be very common these days that I particularly dislike. That is the practice of offering an "introductory price" for a period of six months to a year for a service and then jacking up the price at the end of the term. Especially since companies (and in particular, AT&T) dont always make it obvious either that they are doing that or what the actual full price is. I clearly is a practice designed to charge people who dont pay close attention to their bills extra. Or to charge people who dont know that they can get the introductory price back if they simply ask. Ok, it must be a practice that works for companies like AT&T or else they wouldnt keep doing it but it just smacks of "Let's SCREW the customer" to me.

Now, usually, because I am very much aware of this practice, I am good about calling them up before my term expires and demanding the introductory rate for another period of six months to a year so my only cost is the time I have to spend on the phone waiting to talk to someone (usually between 1/2 hour to an hour). But this year when my special introductory rate for my DSL expired, I forgot and got charged the full price.

That alone would have made me angry because I dont like paying money I dont have to plus it would have reminded me of how much I hate this practice in the first place. But this time I got especially angry because it appears the the full price is more than FOUR times the rate I was paying before!

I wasnt happy about that at all so I called AT&T and spoke to just about the rudest excuse for a customer service person in the world. She was so bad, she was almost comical. Now, it might be true that I just unlucky and got someone who isnt good at her job and who will soon be dealt with by a corporate culture that values both good employees *and* their customers. But honestly, I dont think I have *ever* gotten good service from AT&T. The really sad thing though is that as far as I can tell, the alternatives arent any better. *sigh* The practice of the intro rate followed by the jacked up regular rate is an industry standard.

Part of me wonders though what would happen if someone started a phone company with a decent pricing structure and good customer service. Would it change the world?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vacation - Part 2 (California)

I spent the fifth anniversary of 9/11 on a train that I boarded with no security checks. There is no hassle getting on a train and that is one of the many reasons I prefer to take the train. There are about a million other reasons too. The seats are bigger so one doesnt feel quite as smooshed even in coach. Interesting people take the train and I always enjoy talking to them. There are retired people who have the time to take the train (usually found in the sleeper cars). There are students who cant afford to fly (always found in coach). There are families who are taking the train in order to give their children a different experience. There are people like me who simply just like trains.

There is something isolating about being on the train. Unless one buys a newspaper at one of the stops, there is simply no news of the outside world. No radio. No TV. And certainly no internet. This turned out to be especially nice for me since I was able to spend all of 9/11 without hearing EVEN ONCE of a certain event that happened five years ago on that day. Later, on the 12th, I stopped to consider how lucky I was that I could do that. That no one I knew died that day so that now, 9/11/06 could be a day just like any other day to me.

I slept well on the train and arrived in Berkely in the morning of the 12th. Caleb came and picked me up and we called Nathaniel and met him for breakfast.

After breakfast, Caleb and I drove up to Sebastopol where I pretty much was a lazy slug for a couple of days although, when Caleb came home one day with some tomatoes from his Dad's garden with an interesting shape, I encouraged us all to play with our food.

In the mornings a couple of days a week, Sophie goes to school. Here she is with her lunch basket. No vinyl lunchboxes for kids in this part of the world!

Anja is going to school some days too. I am not sure exactly what she thinks of that.

Thursday night, Caleb's parents invited me to their house for dinner. This is a photo of Caleb's sister Nisha and her son, Liam, doing an art project with Anja. Anja is very talented I think. She certainly has an interest in art anyways. Which is good for me because I LOVE art and maybe I'll be able to get her to go to art museums with me when she is older.

On Friday night, Nathaniel came up and Shannon's friend Karen came over. Even though there were five of us, we tried to play euchre anyways with me and Karen being a team since she'd never played it before. Unfortunatly for Nathaniel, no one else but him stayed sober and everyone else started having trouble playing the game.

On Saturday, we went to the beach.

Then Nathaniel and I drove down to Berkeley so we could get up early on Sunday to go sailing with six of his friends. It was very fun. Nathaniel's friends were all very nice. The boat was nice. The weather was perfect. It was warm even out on the water so I didnt have to wear my sweater or anything. We sailed around Angel Island and went by Alcatraz and under the Bay Bridge (twice) as we went around Yerba Buena Island. This is a self portrait of me on the boat:

This is a pretty boat we saw on the water:

This is Nathaniel on the boat:

Unfortunately, my camera died while I was sailing so I didnt have any more photos. Which was too bad because after sailing, Shannon came down to pick me up and she and I headed over to San Francisco for Gary's birthday dinner.

Gary chose a restaurant on pier 39 which is a pretty touristy place. It would have been fun to walk around there but I was a jerk and didnt wear my boot because I was sick of it. But I still managed to do a little last minute shopping for a birthday present for Gary and was happy to find a fun little store with all kinds of SF tchotchkes where I *really* restrained myself from buying anything too tacky.

Dinner was nice and I sat on the end of the table with Beth and Mike (Gary's parents) so I could hear about their road trip to SF. I love road trips and those kinds of adventures so the conversation was great. We all ordered crab legs which is also a favorite dinner of mine and all in all, it was a nice evening.

The next day, Gary and Beth and Mike, came up north where Shannon and kids and I met them in Bodega Bay where we spent an entire afternoon sitting on the beach there talking and yacking. I love beaches and whenever I go to one, I always wonder why I dont spend more time going to beaches especially since I live in a state with so many really cool public beaches. Maybe I'll take the dogs on a road trip this fall to some beach on Lake Huron or Lake Michigan?

Ah well, that is pretty much the gist of the trip. I'll leave you all with one last picture of Anja being silly

Sunday, September 24, 2006


And here is another message brought to you by the Committee to Point Out the Fucking Obvious...

From this morning's NYT:

Spy Agencies Say Iraq War Worsens Terror Threat

Published: September 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Click HERE to read the full story

Next, our government will spend money on studies that show that the grass is green, the sky is blue, roses are red, violets are blue, etc.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Vacation - Part 1 (Seattle)

I somehow managed to limp my way onto the plane in Detroit. It was a totally full plane as I expected but the ativan did what it was supposed to do and I didnt freak out and actually had a pretty relaxing flight. My foot swelled up a LOT though on the plane since I couldnt elevate it.

So I pretty much spent the first few days in Seattle sitting around on my friend's couch visiting and watching TV.

I did go out for a nice birthday dinner though, with Chris and the three B's (Beth, Barry, and Bridget). Even though birthdays arent such a big deal for me anymore it was still fun to spend my 38th birthday with friends. I forgot to charge up my camera though so no photos.

I dont have any photos from my day spent with my friend Ali either because like a dork, I forgot my camera. We had a really great day though. Still, it is a pity that I forgot the old camera because Ali is looking really HOT these days and I would love to share her great beauty with everyone. We didnt do anything too touristy but, rather, hung out in a bar eating fried pickles that were made specially for us by the cook. Have we started a new trend in Belleville WA? I have a feeling from the cries of "Fried Pickles? How GROSS!!!" that we have not. But people, listen to me. Fried pickles are one of the world's greatest bar foods. No lie.

Ali was kind enough to take me to the local urgent care where I was able to get a nice brace/boot thing for my foot. It was funny because the doctor asked me, "What were you on when this happened?"

I replied, "Ativan"

She looked puzzled for a moment and then said, "No, I meant what kind of surface were you on, like concrete or carpet?"


Later on, the three year old of the house (who is cute as a button) decided that my special boot was just a whole mess of fun!

I spent a day with my friend Marc too. We drove all around the pretty countryside north of town and I pretty much admired the scenary and we talked and talked which I enjoyed quite a lot. We stopped a nice park where I picked wild blackberries and had a little mini-picnic. It was a nice day.

Barry and Beth and Bridget took me out for a nice dinner on Friday night (9/8) to a place with a nice view of the Seattle skyline and nice fish dinner and clam chowder type stuff.

On Saturday we went on a road trip to the beach. I love the beach! Here is a self portrait with Beth in the background.

And this is Bridget full of the kind of joy only a three year old can have. I often wish I could be as free as that. Well, maybe I can but it seems to take more of an effort in my old age ;)

Later, we all went to Westport which is an actual real live working fishing town.

Sunday 9/10's big adventure was to the dog park. Chris joined us again and here is a shot I liked of Chris and Barry enjoying watching the dogs.

Finally, on Monday, Barry kindly drove me to the Amtrak station where I boarded a train for San Francisco. I got lucky and was able to upgrade to a sleeper for about 1/3 of the price of getting one in advance. I love taking the train in a sleeper car! I didnt take a whole lot of pictures on the train but this one is pretty representative of the kind of view one can get when one is in a town. I would have taken photos of all the beautiful scenary we passed (Mt St Helens, Mt Hood, etc) but I was too busy enjoying it if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Before the Vacation Story

I dont like flying. I have gotten over most of my fear of actually dying in a plane crash and such but have found that I still suffer from quite a bit of anxiety when flying. A lot of this is a weight thing. I mean, I know I am going to be crammed into a really small space and the odds are good that I'll be crammed next to someone who resents my size. While on one level, I dont particularly care about what other people think, on some other level I must care an awful lot because the idea of it gives me fits of anxiety.

So, I decided to ask my aunt who is an MD for a Rx for some ativan. She recommended that I take it at home first to make sure that I dont have some unintended reaction and I did just that. It made me relaxed which I suppose is the point. I got so relaxed that my foot fell asleep and I didnt notice. The phone rang and I jumped up to get it and got half way across the room before I realized that I was dragging a dead weight of a foot behind me. I kept walking anyways and ended up stepping on it funny, twisting my ankle and falling on my ASS.

I spent the next week barely able to walk but still trying to get everything done before my trip. I took a photo of the bruise on my toes but forgot to take one of my ankle. It was the size of a baseball!

Looking back on it now, it is kind of amazing how very much in denial I was about that injury. I guess because I was afraid that if I admitted that I was in pain or actually injured, I would have to cancel my trip or something. I dont know. Maybe I just didnt want to admit that I could get hurt like that doing something dumb like going on a trial run with the ativan in my own living room. Later in the trip, I just started lying to people about it by telling them that I hurt myself trying to climb Mt Everest ;) I am *sure* folks bought that one!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Home Again

Well, my whirl wind tour of the northern part of the west coast is over and I am back home in not so sunny Michigan. I had a fabulous time and will, of course, bore everyone with lots of photos and accounts of the trip.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Work Sucks!

I am going on vacation for a while so I don’t know how often I will get to post to the blog. Check back in a couple of weeks dear readers!

I really need this time away from work too. I have been hating it more and more. I know that makes my work suffer but I still get pissed when I get a bad performance review. It is tough too because I think that most of the review was unfair although I also know that my work has suffered lately. I will own the bad attitude, that was a fair remark. I do have a bad attitude. Still, getting punished for a bad attitude always reminds me of that "The beatings will continue until morale improves" joke. But ok, whatever. I'll take the bad attitude comment. Some of the other ones though just seemed very off base. If there is one thing I hate, it is when someone writes in my review that I don’t have confidence to do things. I saw that written there: “Lynne doesnt have the confidence to try new things.”

I just had to ask, “what makes you say that? Up until a couple of months ago when I was specifically told to concentrate on the things I know and do well, I was trying all kinds of new things. I am capable of doing any job in this department and I am capable of learning any task”

Ah...frustration. This is the second review I have had with this particular supervisor and this is the second time this has been on my review and I cant really figure out why. I mean, do they *really* want me to swagger around the department telling everyone how awesome I am the way some of the guys do? Yeeeeah... I might just have to start swaggering around essentially telling everyone how big my dick is because that is the only thing I can think of that my co-workers do that I don’t that has anything to do with confidence. I mean actually doing tasks outside of my comfort zone apparently doesnt cut the mustard when it comes to confidence.

Anyhow, I am angry right now. Angry at them for being such bad managers but mostly angry at myself for not taking more initiative and for not kicking myself in the pants and for not lighting a fire under my butt to get the fuck out of there. I am not sure why I am being so lazy about that. Fear I guess. I don’t know. I just need to keep reminding myself it is a dead end to put energy into hating the place and into wishing it would change when it so obviously isnt going to change.

I wrote a letter to Cary Tennis about it though. That was very cathartic!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Last Year

Last year, on this day, I sat in a fancy hotel bar in San Francisco with some friends talking about Katrina and it's impending arrival in New Orleans.

Vacation - All I Ever Wanted

Whew. I haven’t had much time to blog lately and that is going to continue to be the case for the next couple of weeks.

My friends Terry and Jen have been in town from Hawaii and it has been really nice seeing them because they are awesome. The good news for them and for me is that they have sold their place in Hawaii and are moving back to the mainland. While they aren’t moving back to Michigan and will most likely move to Florida, it will still be much easier to visit them in Florida than it is to visit them in Hawaii. Plus they’ll be able to get back home to Michigan more often so net result is that I will see them more than the couple of times I have seen them in the past five years that they have been in Hawaii.

Also, they are planning a great trip for next summer and I have decided that I am going to do whatever it takes to go on the trip with them. I will eat ramen noodles and will continue to reduce my spending so I can afford it. They are going to fly to Beijing and spend a couple of days there, perhaps with a side trip to The Great Wall. Then, they are going to take the train to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Hoooo. Now is that a trip for someone like me who loves taking the train or WHAT? I figure that I will never be able to find someone else who would take that trip with me so unless I want to do it by myself, I’ll have to go when they go. Taking this trip means that I’ll be driving my beat up VW forever but what the heck. Would I rather be a person in a brand spanking new VW or a person with a beat up old one who once went on a great adventure?

Speaking of vacations. I am getting ready for my next little adventure which also will include a small train trip. Yes, I sure love riding the choo-choo. I am going to Seattle to visit friends and then I am taking the train from Seattle to San Francisco where I will see more friends. Finally, I will fly home to Michigan just in time for the best part of autumn. Life could be worse for me I suppose.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You Can Never Go Home Again

They say you can never go home again. But today I came across a real estate listing for the house I lived in from the time I was six or seven until I was seventeen. Ok, my mom stumbled across it and emailed it to me which kind of makes me wonder if she has the same habit of pouring over internet real estate listings and virtual tours that I have. I mean, I used to never understand how some married men could be into internet porn until I became addicted to internet real estate listings. I can look at them for HOURS. And I have a house. I even love my house. It is a nice house but I always like looking at other houses. Go figure.

But I digress. So this house, in Detroit, is pretty much the place that holds most of my childhood memories. I think I was six when we moved there but I might have been seven. My first memory of the house was after my parents bought it but before we moved in. Our old house was only a few blocks away. I walked home from school regularly with my friend Anna. My parents had shown me house and I sort of knew where it was so I figured that Anna and I could take a detour on the way home from school. But darn it if I couldnt find the sucker that day. I dragged poor Anna all over the neighborhood looking for it and eventually ended up one block over saying to Anna "I swear, it was here before. Honest!"

When we first moved in, I had to share a bedroom with my sister. But my folks decided that it would be better if we each had our own bedrooms since we were getting older. My Dad spent a lot of time finishing the attic into what became a seriously fabulous bedroom for a teenager. It had a bathroom and it was it's own floor so my music had to be pretty loud before it bothered anyone (that seemed to happen a lot anyways though). I wont mention though the hideous color *cough* lime green *cough* that they decorated with but it WAS the 70's so I suppose they can be forgiven. That bedroom was bigger than some apartments I have lived in. One of the really neat things about it was that my Dad built in a secret compartment and I made a little time capsule of stuff and put it in there. There is a part of me that would love to go see if that stuff was ever discovered but maybe it is just something best kept in my memory.

I had my second kiss in that house. I had my first real date come pick me up from that house. I learned Latin and Algebra while living in that house. I danced in that house. I plugged up the basement toilet by dumping the cat box in it. I set the garage on fire. I slid down the staircase in nylon sleeping bags. I ran indoors. I put on puppet shows. I covered the walls of that bedroom with posters of rock stars. I laughed a lot. I cried some.

My dad once commented that I would probably never live in as nice of a house again because they just didnt make them like that anymore. And while I love my current house (built in the same era, btw) and wouldnt even know what to do with 3000 sq feet as a single woman, I have to say that so far, my dad has been right. I have never lived in as good of a house as that one.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Walking the Line

I have been thinking about personal responsibility today and how much we control things in our lives. There are the two extremes, of course, either taking responsibility for EVERYTHING or taking responsibility for NOTHING. I don’t think either one is particularly healthy and that the best course lies somewhere in the middle. The trick is, however, to know where.

Sometimes it is tempting to take responsibility for every aspect of my life. It is a place of great power and control. I can choose to let my feelings get hurt or not. I can choose to change aspects of my life that bother me, or not. Even though I don’t particularly like my job these days, knowing that I am there because I choose to be there is helpful. I can do a lot of things to take care of myself and knowing that is power. Real power. Not power over other people because ultimately they don’t matter, but power over myself. I can choose how I view the world.

But sometimes it is possible to take control in the wrong way. It is easy to hear a report on the news of a women getting raped all the while thinking, “That cant happen to me because I don’t walk around alone at night” I mean, victim blaming is all about trying to believe one has control over everything. I might struggle to control the uncontrollable.

The other extreme, of course, is when I take responsibility for nothing and I sometimes find myself at that end of things. It is nice in a way because once one really believes that things are inevitable, the struggle against those things ends. Life becomes a river just flowing along with me just bobbing along in the current. Rapids? No trouble...just bob on through. It works for a while at least until I get stuck on something. Then it is just powerlessness. Boo Hoo, I hate my job but I need the money. Boo Hoo, I feel lonely and it isnt my fault for not calling anyone. Boo Hoo I bounced a check and had to pay a fee at the bank. Boo Hoo, I hate George Bush being in the White House. Boo Hoo my dog pulls on her leash. Boo Hoo The world doesnt like fat people. Boo Hoo Boo Hoo BOO MOTHER FUCKING HOO. (Well you get the idea)

The thing is, of course, there actually are things that I have no control over. But, probably, most things I can either control totally or at least influence. I cant help it if a tornado hits my house but I can listen for the siren and haul booty to the basement. I cant help it that the world doesnt like fat people but I can choose not to let that hold me back. I cant help it that the bank charges outrageous fees but I can balance my checkbook (although I know darn well that I wont but I could and that is what counts).

So I know that balance is possible but I never seem to get it right. Oh well, one thing I have been learning is that I get better at such things as I get older. At the rate I am going, I expect to be perfect by the time I am 102. :)