Wednesday, May 31, 2006


I havent really been a very good friend to anyone recently.

It kind of started when I had that thing on my leg removed and then busted the stitches on my wound. Every day at work was eight hours of pain and by the time I got home, I just didnt feel much like talking to anyone face to face so I didnt.

But I cant really blame that entirely. Part of it has been that kind of inertia that everyone gets from time to time. I stopped calling people back and then they stopped calling. I know that I have hurt people's feelings with my lack of effort but luckily so far I have been able to talk it out with the ones who have let me know that they were annoyed with me or hurt. Repairs have been made and all is well again.

I am really thankful for the friends that I have. One friend called and left a worried sounding message on my machine which got me thinking about this stuff. I have called a couple of old friends to whom I havent talked in forever and that was really great. Sometimes good conversation can be very energizing! Every time I meet an old friend, I am reminded of why I liked them so much in the first place. I generally pick pretty awesome people to be my friends. One of the the best moments in a recent conversation was when I said to a friend "I dont remember who told me this but one of my friends one said, 'blah blah blah'" and she said "That was me!" and it was just so cool although I dont know why. Because I have internalized so many friendships maybe?

Anyways, I guess it is pretty easy to forget that friendships, like all relationships, take work. It isnt hard work and it is very rewarding but it is important. We have so much technology to help us do it too and yet it is still easy to let folks slip through our fingers, isnt it? Sometimes I think about that because a hundred and fifty years ago, if someone moved to a place like Seattle or San Francisco, it usually meant that the people left back east would never see them again. EVER. And yet, people still kept in touch and wrote letters that took weeks to arrive. I guess I dont have much of an excuse then huh?

Monday, May 29, 2006

We All Know Our Own Hearts

One of the themes I have been reading about a lot around this Duke rape case is one of being falsely accused and about how terrible such a thing is. I think it is a terrible thing to be sure and if anyone accused of raping that woman has been accused falsely, I do genuinely have sympathy for them. But what few people seem to be mentioning or maybe what I think that not enough people are mentioning is that very often in that case, the people who talk about how terrible it is to accuse someone falsely turn around and accuse the rape victim of being a liar and being the sort of person who would falsely accuse someone of such a terrible crime.

In an odd coincidence, I read a short blurb in the New York Times about some letters around Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre where Bronte apparently considered rewriting her accounts of the Lowood School in response to threats from a former headmaster of a school she attended. One might presume that since he so obviously saw himself and his school in her work that *he* was not so much falsely accused of anything. But that is neither here nor there. I read that and decided it might be fun to re-read Jane Eyre since it was a favorite of my childhood to the point where I used to sit at breakfast and then pretend the oatmeal my mother served was the terrible burnt porridge from Bronte’s account of the Lowood School. (I am sure she loved that).

I came across a lovely quote that just seemed to fit with my thoughts about how it isn’t easy when people believe false things about a person. In this case, Jane’s friend Helen is comforting her after the headmaster of the school accuses her publicly and falsely of being a liar. Helen says to Jane:

"If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends."

It is really such a beautiful sentence. And one I find very comforting during those times in my life when people have thought ill of me unjustly. I know that actually being innocent is more important than having people believe that you are although I will admit that having people believe things about me falsely is just about one of the most annoying things in the world to me. I would rather get slivers under my fingernails!

As for those people at Duke. I think that every one them knows deep in their hearts if they are guilty or innocent. If they happen to be innocent (and fwiw, I am kind of siding with the rape victim on this one), then I hope they know that actually being innocent is more important than people believing you are. Being a person of character is more important than being thought of as a person of character. And a person of character will never ever be without friends.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Just Stuff

  1. That beer commercial with the slogan “you poke it, you own it” is so wrong on so many levels, I cant even stand it. I saw this during Wednesday night’s episode of Lost and I found myself slack jawed and staring at the TV. Did they *really* just say that. Ok ok, beer commercials are kind of known for being seriously male centric but this one really takes the cake.

  2. I had Zingerman’s for lunch. I don’t care what anyone says, they make the best Reuban I have ever had. Hands down. Is it worth $12? Mmmm. I guess my answer to that is that sometimes it is. Today, it really was.

  3. I think we are going to have the nicest Memorial Day weekend we have had in a long time. I am soooo spending a good chunk of the weekend up at the lake. I hope I don’t have any run-ins with the nasty neighbor woman up there. Her family are summertime people and Memorial Day weekend marks the first weekend they will be there. It has been nice not having them around and I suppose that if one has to have terrible neighbors, having the kind that only show up on weekends during the summer is the kind to have. I guess I will have to be extra special careful to keep Cookie under control. I’ll get a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that she HATES the sound of a barking dog and also that Cookie hates being tied up so whenever she is tied up, she barks and barks and barks. If the neighbor lady complains to me about the noise, I guess I will just state matter of factly “she always barks when she is tied up.” If she takes it further, I might do the fake sympathy thing and put an overdone look of concern on my face and say something like “Yeah, it is really hard to deal with noises one finds annoying. I really hate the sound of screaming kids and motor boat engines”

    Or maybe I will take the high road and just put Cookie in the house if Cookie’s barking annoys her. I mean that is what I would do if any other neighbor said something to me about her constant barking. But even if I do take that route, I will sit back and imagine saying snarky things to the neighbor because that is almost as fun *and* one still gets to be the better person and all that jazz.

  4. I think I have cracked a crown on one of my teeth. It doesn’t hurt badly and I have a dentist appointment next Tuesday. But I have to admit that I am worried a little because if the crack gets worse, it could be really painful and it is a holiday weekend. Also, I am worried because this crown cost me $800 or so and I am worried about how much a new one might cost. My insurance will pay for half and I do have the money to cover it but $400 is a lot of dough to me right now and having to spend it on my teeth will mean not spending it on the new clothes I need.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

You Cant Go Home Again

Last night I had to go over to the North side of Ann Arbor for a Grex board meeting. I used to live over on that side of town and used to take walks through the woods in a park over there called Sugarbush Park. I figured that since it wasn’t too hot, I would bring the dogs, leave them in the car during the meeting, and then we could all go for a walk in the woods before dark.

I wish I had charged up the batteries in my camera because it was an extraordinarily beautiful walk. There were ducks in little woodland ponds. There were these really beautiful pink flowers on the forest floor. And oddly, lots of women out walking who all in one way or another resembled my mother (that was kind of creepy actually). I walked by the house I used to live in and noticed that they were doing some pretty major renovations. I kind of wondered what they were up to. I always thought it was an ugly house but maybe they’ll make it nice.

I went over to the play area where a LONG time ago, Gary and I sat while blasting Wagner on the stereo from the house on the other side of the park. That was such a funny moment in my life. One thing I regret about getting older is that I have become much more boring and thusly have fewer such moments. While the world (and certainly my current neighbors) probably are glad that I no longer feel the need to test theories such as “you can turn up your music as loud as you want to and if it is Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries no one will call the cops to complain”, I had so much fun doing stuff like that that I miss it. I guess I don’t miss it enough to actually do any of that stuff again but still I miss being the sort of person who WOULD do stuff like that.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I watched a very cute movie the other day called Duma. One of my favorite actors, Campbell Scott was in it. For reasons I don’t know, I often confuse Campbell Scott with Campbell McGrath I am not sure why I do that but I have often found myself going on and on about how dreamy and hunky I think Campbell McGrath is to some friend who just gives me a blank stare until they finally say, "Who is Campbell McGrath?" I say, "you know, the movie star. He was in Roger Dodger and The Secret Lives of Dentists." Then they ask, "Do you mean Campbell *Scott*?" and I slap my hand against my forehead and roll my eyes. Oh duh. Yes, Campbell Scott. I think he is rather dreamy but even more so with a fake S. African accent. But Campell McGrath might be dreamy too for all I know and besides he wrote the best poem about a 7-11 (Capitalist Poem #5) that I have ever seen and that has to count for something right?

Monday, May 22, 2006


I have been in a bad mood for most of the weekend to one degree or another. I havent called anyone back or replied to emails. (sorry folks, it doesnt mean that I dont love you!)

I am not entirely sure what it is about but I think I might be fighting off a cold that seems to be going around at work. I would much rather be a little cranky than have a full blown cold so really I am not complaining. More explaining.

So, when I am cranky, I become very intolerant of other people. I dont know what to do about that. I know that constantly yelling WILL YOU PLEASE STOP SNORTING YOUR SNOT! is probably just as annoying to people as the original snot snorting. But, Jesus Christ! It is bugging me today. To be fair, I think that both of the offenders are making an effort but like a lot of habits, it is hard to break.

But of course, when a person wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, they will find everything annoying (and by wrong side of the bed, I mean the side that is in the Eastern Time Zone. The right side of the bed would have been on a beach in Hawaii.) Today, a guy in my department came to me to ask me a question about what to do. I assume he came to me rather than someone else because I am an expert in the subject he was asking about. Now granted, I did have a bit of a tone with him because I am feeling cranky and his arrival at my cube meant that I had to take off my headphones thus subjecting myself to THE SNOT SNORTERS. He asked me a question about what to do about a particular problem and I told him what to do. He didnt like my answer. He argued with me about it and I was NOT in the mood for that. So I pretty much said, "well you figure it out then"

He decided to go over my head and take the issue to my boss who, of course, dropped the thing into my lap. So what did I do with this problem? I did *exactly* what I told this other guy to do and because I am a Goddess and know a whole hell of a lot, it worked and solved the issue. Damn, that pissed me off.

This happens to me all the time. People come to me and ask me a question. Then, they dont like the answer I give them either because it involves having them do some work or because it doesnt make sense to them. If I try to explain why I am telling them to do something though, they often don’t seem to want to stand there and listen . So they refuse to do what I recommend and then the case eventually lands on my desk where I fix it by doing exactly what I said to do in the first place. Sometimes I wonder if this is because I am a woman or if they do this sort of thing to everyone else on the team.

Anyways, it bugs the shit out of me.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reason #94 why it is nice to live alone

If you happen to be a person like me who likes to sing but cant remember the words (or the tune) to any song, living alone is a big plus. Also, if you happen to be the sort of person like me and you mow the lawn and then decide to take a shower, you might feel inspired to sing in the shower and since, if you are like me, you will find yourself in the shower unable to remember the words (or tune) to any song, you can choose to make up a song.

Today original shower tune, sung to an audience of two dogs, a confused cat, and a bird who decided to sing along, was called "I hate mowing the lawn because it makes me stinky"


Friday, May 19, 2006

On my mind...

I haven’t much felt like writing here in this blog lately. I haven’t been doing much to be honest. Mostly I have been observing events and reading other people’s blogs and web forums here and there. As such, I have all kinds of half formed thoughts in my mind. Since that is what I have been thinking about this week:

  • This one comes from the “Be Grateful for What You Have” Department: George Bush and the current administration are terrible. Really terrible. But they don’t hold a candle to Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe I heard on the radio that Zimbabwe currently has an inflation rate of over 1000% and 80% of the people are unemployed. People seriously cannot buy even basic necessities and large segments of the population are already malnourished and are facing starvation. I am reminded of a quote by Coleman A Young which I would have turned into a Friday cat blogging feature if I had some extra time to doctor up a photo of my dog Cookie who graciously plays the part of my fictional cat “Hizzoner”. Anyhow, this is what former mayor of Detroit, Coleman A. Young had to say about Robert Mugabe:

    ”A mean sucker. He doesn’t have a civil service, and he can shoot people if he wants to, I guess. I can’t do that”

  • Some people I know are embroiled in some relationship drama. It reminds me, naturally, of relationship drama I have been involved in before. And when I reflect on that, I am reminded of how much I have changed over the years. There was a time when my behavior was less than desirable and frankly was out and out unacceptable. But I am not like that anymore and I have a lot more respect for boundaries than I did in my early 20’s. I am actually quite proud of myself and of my behavior during my most recent…shall we say “dramatic period”. I’ve learned that even when one has one’s feelings hurt so badly that it even results in physical sensations similar to having been punched in the gut, one can still control one’s behavior while allowing oneself to fully experience the hurt. I have also learned that controlling one’s behavior helps in the healing process too since distance from the drama really helps a person heal faster. Plus there is the added advantage of not constantly having regrets.

  • I was able to mow most of the taller parts of my backyard earlier this week. My front yard is still below the 10in city guideline. And lucky for me because it looks like the city came and mowed the lot next door. I suspect that it was the city because most of the vacant lot next door is fenced and the gate is locked. When the city mows, they only mow the part that isn’t locked behind the fence and that is what happened on Wednesday. Thankfully, they didn’t attempt to mow my lawn. It looks like the weather will be clear this weekend so I’ll be able to mow the front lawn which will mean I’ll be safe from the roving city lawn mowing team for at least another week and a half. Whew
  • Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Newsflash: In a patriarchy, some men feel entitled.

    I had one of those annoying moments this morning where something said on the radio kind of pissed me off. It is funny because usually on the way to work, I listen to a station that plays music and has an idiot DJ because I found that arriving to work all pissed off probably wasn’t a good thing.

    This DJ was talking about the news that Paul McCartney and his wife of four years, Heather Mills have decided to split up. He said that Heather Mills at sometime or another made a statement that she felt she deserved to be in the limelight as much as her husband. This DJ first laughs in that “oh how can she be so stupid” way. Then he starts in on how the marriage was probably doomed from the start because Heather Mills probably expected to have a egalitarian marriage with McCartney who is A BEATLE. He actually said that any woman who marries a guy like McCartney should expect to take a subservient role because if she didn’t, there were 10,000 women waiting to take her place. His tone through all of this was one of envy.

    This DJ’s views on marriage apparent reflect our society’s views. The idea is that a man with power in his career can expect to also have power within his marriage or other relationships with women. The man is the head of the household. There is a culture where women trade youth and beauty for money by marrying rich men but beauty and youth are often transitory (I mean, no one stays young forever).

    The power differential in many mainstream relationships was something very obvious in a movie I watched over the weekend: Shopgirl. There was a relationship between a young beautiful woman and a rich older man. The difference in the power structure there was very obvious to me. He really called all the shots because he simply didn’t need the younger woman. He didn’t need her financially. He didn’t need her emotionally. And mostly, he just acted entitled to being in control and the shopgirl automatically accepted it.

    And that is it really. It is that so many men that I know have a sense of entitlement when it comes to things like relationships and that so many women accept this without question. Now of course, not every relationship I see is like this but a lot are and I move in a crowd of very liberal and enlightened people who generally accept feminism, who think the likes of Caitlin Flanagan are ridiculous. And yet, there is still that sense of entitlement.

    My best example of the entitlement thing is one time, several years ago, when I still thought I might have kids someday, I was talking about what I would name them. I had first and middle names picked out for at least two boys and two girls since I figured I wouldn’t ever have more than two kids so I wouldn’t ever need more. One of the people in the conversation asked what I planned to do if the father of these future children wanted to have a say in the names. I said that I figured that he could either pick their last name or their first and middle names and that if he *really* had his heart set on giving the child a particular first name or something, I would be willing to pick the last name. There were lots of horrified gasps that I hadn’t considered it automatic that the child would have the last name of the father.

    I don’t know. I guess that is how it is when one lives in a patriarchy. But I think that they way it offends me so much is good really. I used to always feel awkward when such things were discussed but it never sat right with me but now I know why. I don’t like all the power that so many men have over women and I really don’t like their sense of entitlement about it.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Why I have become the most boring person in the world

    I have become the most boring person in the world.

    It all started about a week ago on a bright sunny day. It was one of those spring days when everything is perfect. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. The sky was a perfect shade of blue that I have seldom seen except in Michigan in the spring and fall. The sky was the kind of blue that makes a person want to just leap up and jump in.

    I was at work and ran into a co-worker I dont see around too much anymore. I dont talk him daily the way I once did so like everyone else in the world who isnt sure of how to start a conversation, I used the age old time testing 100% guaranteed ice breaker, The Weather. Really, It was a totally innocent, "Hey, nice day, eh?" I didnt mean anything by it...not really.

    But his reply turned out to be a forecast of total and complete horror. He said, "I heard it is going to rain for a week"

    I laughed him off and told myself that surely he must be exaggerating. I mean come on! A whole week. This is Michigan. The weather never stays the same *that* long. And even if it were to rain every day during a week, it surely wouldnt rain *all* day. There would be dry moments.

    But there werent. It has now rained every day since last Wednesday and the forecast for the next two days is rain. And it hasnt just rained but it has rained ALL day, every day. It has rained so much that every bit of the world is GREEN. The grass is all bright green. The leaves on the trees are all green. The weeds by the side of the road are green. GREEN GREEN GREEN. Green is my favorite color but enough already!

    Of course, all of this rain is causing the lawn to grow...and GROW! The truth is that even though I mowed the front lawn only a week ago, it is in danger of looking unkept and some small parts of it might get to be 10in tall which means that the city could come mow. My backyard is even longer but luckily cannot be seen from the street so I am (hopefully) protected from any complaints. Still, I worry that on Wednesday morning the city will come around to mow while I am at work. I cant mow when it is raining and I cant mow when I am work and the first time when it will be dry enough for me to mow and when I have time to mow will be Wednesday evening.

    I have become obsessed with this rain and the mowing and have found that I am almost completely unable to talk about anything else. Oh, it used to be that I could go to a party and talk about all the current events of the day but not anymore. Conversations with me at the moment would go like this:

    Them: So what do you think about the government listening in on our phone conversations?

    Me: Oh, that isnt so bad. Not when compared to when the government comes and MOWS your LAWN with NO WARNING whenever even one blade of grass gets close to 10 inches tall.

    Them: I am so worried about all of this torture in the world.

    Me: Yeah, eight days of rain is certainly torture. Did I mention that rain makes the lawn grow?

    Well, you get the idea. Dont invite me to any parties until the sun starts shining and my lawn is mowed. It really is for your own good and the welfare of your other guests.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    The Lawn Police Strike Again

    A recent post over on Mark Maynard's Blog really has me hopping mad.

    You know. I am not so sure I want to continue living in the City of Ypsilanti anymore and the reason I am not sure I want to live here is because of the City government. I am really tired of the sleazy way they deal with their lawn ordinance. Basically, they just show up and start mowing with no notice and then they send out a HUGE bill for their services. Well maybe that isn’t fair as they probably published a public notice buried in small print of a local paper. But that isn’t much of a notice. They aren’t very good about publishing public notices on their web page although I am not sure a public notice is really enough notice anyways.

    It just seems so sleazy to publish a notice in a place you know hardly anyone looks before mowing peoples’ lawns for them and charging them 3-4 times the going rate for lawn services. It makes me very angry when this happens. It makes me angry when it happens to me and it makes me angry when it happens to my fellow city residents. It especially makes me angry because this apparently happens when people aren’t really in violation of the city’s 10” ordinance. It also makes me angry because the ordinance is very unfairly applied. I know of several city lots owned by prominent people who have “wildflowers” and “ground cover” in their extensively landscaped yards that surely are at least as much of a refuge for vermin as the slightly tall grass over at Casa Fremont or Chez Maynard. You see, that “refuge for vermin” line in the ordinance is really probably just there to make the ordinance seem objective. But really it is an ordinance about aesthetics because if it weren’t, there would be whole fields of blackeyed susans, tiger lilies, forsythia, violets, and myrtle mowed down every year since those kinds of plants provide habitat for wildlife just as much as other plants.

    I guess when I really examine my beliefs about that, I find that when it comes to lawn care, I am pretty libertarian. Yeah, it might bug me if my neighbor has an ugly yard but I don’t see it as my right to actually do anything about it just because I don’t like it. Well, I suppose I have a right to put a privacy fence up to block my neighbor’s yard from my view and I certainly have a right to stand around in my yard tut-tutting about their inferior yard care, but I don’t think I should have a right to go over there and demand that they stop having such an ugly yard. (not that I think any of my neighbor’s have ugly yards, mind you..)

    Oh, I'll probably end up deciding that it isnt enough of a reason to move and I'll probably stop being so mad about this soon enough and then I'll remember why I like Ypsilanti and why I generally do really like living here and stuff.

    Maybe this year I'll take my lawn mower over some city owned property somewhere that has tall grass. It wont be too hard to find as there are lots of city owned parcels of land that dont seem to be maintained well. Then I can mow it and have a friend take some photos of me mowing it. I could present the city council with a bill for $135 and copies of the pictures during the public portion of the city council meeting. That probably wouldnt accomplish any change but it sure would make me feel better.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006


    I dont have time to blog today because I have been spending my time watching This Video.

    It reminds me of how much I used to like putting crazy pop music on my stereo and dancing around like a fool! This is a perfect time for me to find this video because I have been trying to find ways to get my body moving that I enjoy and I cant believe I totally forgot about how much I like dancing all crazy. All I can say is there is going to be a fat lady GETTING DOWN to the boogie at my house tonight!

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Texas Ranch House (post 2) *warning spoilers*

    I finished watching Texas Ranch House and have a few things to say about the series as a whole. I was really impressed with how it showed real people in real management situations. I wish I could make the managers where I work watch the show although I am not entirely sure they would be able to see why Mr and Mrs Cooke were bad managers and even if they did, I dont think they would see where they have similar faults (eerily similar actually). But of course, there is no way for me to get the managers to watch the show other than saying “Hey, instead of watching the basketball playoffs, you should watch Texas Ranch House on PBS” To say that didn’t go over well would be something of an understatement at least judging from the uproarious laughter that occurred directly after my suggestion. Oh well. I tried. But, since I think it is fun to critique others, especially when they are managers, I’ll give a quick critique of what I saw on Texas Ranch House.

    The very first thing I think that Mr Cooke did that was wrong was that he never made it very clear to the ranch hands that he and Mrs Cooke were running the ranch together. This led to all kinds of very sexist behavior both on the part of Mr Cooke and on the part of the ranch hands. I found myself seething every time I heard the ranch hands make remarks about how Mr Cooke needed to stop letting Mrs Cooke influence his decisions because they were essentially saying that Mr Cooke should stop being so pussy whipped. The whole concept that if a man allows a woman to influence his decisions is really terrible. But I think I can understand some of the frustration. Because they had a situation where they were told that Mr Cooke was in charge and they were to talk to him. It was apparently clear between Mr and Mrs Cooke that they were making decisions together and to Mrs Cooke’s credit, whenever Mr Cooke seemed to forget that, she let him know right quick! But even so, it was Mrs Cooke who was making some of the really bad decisions and the ranch hands never really had a chance to address anything to her directly or even indirectly.

    This was because one of Mr Cooke’s big “rules” was that he would not tolerate disrespect. Then, he actually did fire someone because that person was ranting about Mrs Cooke. What made that particular firing really bad was that it was the cook, Nacho, who was fired. Nacho, as it happens, was a really bad cook. He wasn’t hygienic enough and might have been making the ranch hands sick. The Cooke family never seemed appropriately concerned about this but did try minimally to get the cook to cook healthy meals. I think they could have tried harder and then failing that, perhaps fired him for bad cooking. But no, he was fired for talking trash about the WomenFolk. Had I been a hand on that ranch, the message would have been that I was so unimportant that a person who was making me sick was not fired but a person who verbally said something insulting about Mrs Cooke that was *accidently* overheard was fired. Yeah, not a very good feeling and not one that would make me give a shit if the business was successful.

    So while I think it was a bad idea for Mr Cooke not to make it clear that Mrs Cooke was essentially a “co-manager” , I think I could sort of understand the ranch hands’ frustration about the situation. Because as bad of a manager as Mr Cooke was, Mrs Cooke was much much worse. Most of the really bad decisions were either her decision solely or generally her idea. She really reminded me of one of those managers who seriously get on a power trip. She seemed to have no idea that the ranch *needed* the hands. She wanted them working hard from sun up to sun down. She did not like it when they had fun and I believe she was behind the decision to take away the ranch hands whiskey when she believed they were having too much fun. This wasn’t a decision based on work performance but on the noise coming from the bunkhouse. Mrs Cooke said several times that she didn’t feel that the ranch hands gave her the proper respect and maybe they didn’t but she never seemed to have any clue about the concept that respect is really more of something a person earns rather than something someone is due because of their rank or position in society.

    There was one scene where Mr and Mrs Cooke had a meeting with all of the ranch hands about their bad metrics. In their case, they hadn’t claimed enough cattle. In our case, we were off target of some other metrics (since I don’t happen to work on a cattle ranch). This meeting seemed to be called when the Cooke’s noticed that the ranch hands were starting to sleep in and were coming back in the middle of the afternoon for naps. This is one of those hard calls because they were trying to be historically accurate and in those days, hands would work 12+ hours a day. So it in this context, it wasn’t unreasonable for the Cooke’s to have high expectations of the hands. The way they handled it though was just wrong. Basically, they gathered everyone and read them the riot act. IMHO, they really drove a wedge between management and labor right there. In fact, I thought the Cooke’s were very lucky because the reaction of the hands was to simply ignore them and to keep working at the same rate they had been working at while a lot of people might have tried to be very passive aggressive by doing as little work as possible while appearing to be busy. Oddly, the Cooke’s felt this meeting was a great success even though it cemented an action by the hands that happened later that probably would ultimately doom the ranch to failure.

    At the end of the show, Mr Cooke ended up firing yet another of the Ranch Hands. He had made a deal with that particular hand that the hand could buy a horse for $25 out of his wages. Earlier in the show, that hand along with the horse in question had been kidnapped by Native Americans. Mr Cook refused to pay ransom for the hand but did agree to give the Native Americans some cattle in exchange for four horses. Unfortunately, Mr Cooke only got three horses because they counted the horse the ranch hand was riding as one of theirs (since they had rightfully taken it according to their custom). They let the hand go for free.

    Mr Cooke decided that the horse belonged to the ranch hand at that time and therefore he had bought it back in the transaction. But I think that horse didn’t belong to the hand at that time and that Mr Cooke was being pretty sleazy to expect that hand to assume that kind of risk. It is the business owner in most cases who assumes the risks of the business. In cases where employees do, it is usually made clear up front (i.e. that some of their compensation will be in the form of profit sharing or stock options or whatever).

    The hand was understandably angry when Mr Cooke pulled this business of not selling him the horse at the price originally agreed and the hand pretty much said that he was leaving the ranch on the horse anyways. Mrs Cooke insisted that this hand be fired because of his disrespect (familiar theme with her as it happens). So Mr Cooke fired the hand. However, because of his earlier actions and because this hand was the sort to earn real respect from his fellow employees and because the foreman was a good enough manager to get all of the hands to form a very cohesive team, all of the other hands decided to quit too. Every last one of them walked out. And that doomed the ranch. Because you see, the Cooke’s apparently thought that getting a whole new crew would be easy but skilled labor apparently wasn’t quite that available in 1867 Texas. Without their labor to do the work, the business would be sunk.

    That seems to be a common attitude even among modern managers. I know that I have often felt that I, and my fellow employees, have not been treated as if we are valued. In fact, I sometimes think that the managers here believe that if they ever were to treat us like we have value, it would make them less powerful. But that isn’t so in my opinion. I think that it is possible to get employees invested in the success of the business. Employees who care about the success of the business tend to work harder and also tend to get more satisfaction from a job well done. The Cooke’s could have done a lot to foster that sort of thinking among the hands but they didn’t. I think that it would have been really easy to do it in their case too. Instead of constantly giving out the message, “you have to work harder because we are the bosses and we say so”, they should have been saying “we all need to work harder so we can meet our numbers and have a successful ranch because then we will all be successful”

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    International No Diet Day

    Today is International No Diet Day.

    I have been working a lot on coming to terms with my weight and on eating in way that isnt weird and disordered. I am doing this because I believe that dieting has been bad for my mental health and perhaps for my physical health as well although perhaps less so for me than for other people. I actually stopped going on formal diets about five years ago after yet another failure with Weight Watchers. I generally found that I just dont like regimented eating (counting calories, or points, or whatever). But I still had some aspects of disordered eating. I catagorized foods into "good" and "bad" and often felt extreme guilt over eating bad foods.

    I also hated my body with a loathing I have never felt for another person on this earth. I often had a hard time looking in the mirror. I am prone to seasonal depression anyways but my hatred of my body and the powerlessness I felt about it seemed to make my seasonal depression much worse. I needed medications just to function.

    And then I started reading a lot of writing. Things written by some of the most amazing people in the world. People who write over and over and over that being fat is ok. Being fat isnt a death sentence. Being fat doesnt mean a person is unlovable. Being fat isnt immoral. People who write about how poorly fat people are treated in my culture which allowed me to finally stop internalizing all those messages.

    I started to feel a lot better about myself but I didnt do anything to stop my disordered eating. My denying myself of "bad" foods until I was so miserable that I just didnt care anymore so I would overeat those forbidden foods. Finally, I came across a book about eating disorders called The Diet Survivors Handbook. It was just one of those books I picked up in the free book room at work and I almost didnt pick it up because the word "Diet" was in the title and I was pretty clear that I didnt want to go on a diet. What I found in this book though was some pretty practical advice about how to unlearn a lot of bad eating habits. It contains some very practical steps to learn to eat intuitively and to stop overeating.

    Have I stopped overeating? Probably not but even in the last few months, I have been kind of amazed at my progress. There have been little milestones. Take today for instance. I decided to take my dogs on a walk to a park which is a little farther than we usually go. I thought I might like to stop at the ice cream store on my way back so I took a couple of bucks and put it in my pocket. My dogs and I walked all over and then on the way home I realized as we were passing the ice cream store that I wasnt hungry and really wasnt in the mood for ice cream. I was able to do this because I know that ice cream store will still be there later on and if I feel like getting some I can always go back. I know that if I do decide to go out later for ice cream, even if I drive the two blocks to the place, I wont feel guilty or bad about having ice cream.

    I know that seems like a silly thing to a lot of people. But trust me, in the past, had I given myself permission to have ice cream, I would have gone into that store and had ice cream whether I wanted it or NOT! Because if I had skipped it, I might not have given myself permission later on especially if I had rewarded myself for my self control over avoiding the ice cream. Walking by the ice cream store today was NOT an exercise in self control. I simply chose not to eat something because I didnt want to eat it.

    Anyways, like I said, I have a long way to go. I still dont completely love by body. I still have weird food issues sometimes. But I know that I wont be on a diet today or any day.

    virtual button by largesse

    Thursday, May 04, 2006


    I stayed home from work today which disrupted my routine a bit. I forgot to take my garbage out. But it got me thinking about garbage and about recycling (which I only do in a very limited way).

    We live in a wasteful time. But generally, I have to admit that I do not worry too much about garbage. It gets picked up from my house once a week and goes to a landfill somewhere. At least I hope it goes to a landfill rather than an incinerator because I think that landfills are probably more environmentally friendly than incinerators. I used to say that I would never want to live near a land fill but then I realized that I already do live sort of near one. (There is that big one where all the Toronto trash goes) and I work near one that Ann Arbor used to use. Landfills, believe it or not, are not dangerous. I don’t think that we are running out of landfill space but even if we were, I know that in flat places like where I live, we could make mountains out of our trash if we wanted to. And ok, we already have built “Mount Trashmore” someplace Downriver.

    So what of this “green” mantra we hear of all the time: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? Here are my thoughts on that.

    Reduce: I think it is probably a good thing for all of us to reduce our consumption. I have been certainly trying to reduce mine. But this isnt because I am worried about garbage or landfill space. It is because I think it takes a lot of resources to make things in the first place. I also am learning on a personal level that over consuming makes one a wage slave. The more I can simplify my life, the less I have to work. And frankly, my own labor is a resource I care very much about conserving. I have a long way to go certainly but theoretically, the more I reduce my consumption, the more money I can save and the earlier I can retire. Also, the less I consume, the less resources I use in the first place. That includes everything from raw materials to labor. I firmly believe that humans are efficient enough that most people can probably get by working about half as much as we already do. I also believe that the reason we don’t work less is mostly because we have been brainwashed into believing that we need more stuff.

    Reuse: I try to reuse things as much as possible. I stopped buying glasses a while ago and now when I break a glass, I usually replace it with a jar. I have found that jars are generally more sturdy than the kind of drinking glasses a person buys at the store. I kind of like their shape too. It might not be the height of drinking ware fashion but it works for me. I reuse plastic bags. Sometimes I wash out those sturdy ziploc ones. I reuse the grocery store plastic bags when I go dog walking. Generally though, my reuse of items is motivated more by the fact that it means I have to buy less than by a concern about those items ending up in a landfill.

    Recycle: I don’t recycle anything other than bottles and cans and then only because of Michigan’s bottle deposit law. I generally think the bottle deposit law is a good idea but not because it forces people to recycle. I think it is a good idea because it keeps people from littering and when they do litter, it provides other people with an incentive to pick up the litter. Judging from the trash that regularly gets thrown into my front yard, I wish there were some way to have a deposit on fast food containers but that is neither here nor there. There are two main reasons why I don’t recycle. They are:

    1. I think it is a waste of my labor. (Which if you wish, can be interpreted as laziness)
    2. I think that for most items, recycling does more harm than good. Sure it saves space in landfills but at what cost? Curbside recycling eats up a lot of fuel since often it is a second truck that picks up the recyclables. It takes a lot of energy to process the recyclables. Some things like paper recycling have a process that is less environmentally friendly than farming trees and making paper from pulp. Generally there are two things that probably make sense to recycle. They are aluminum cans and glass. Most of the aluminum cans and glass that I use get recycled when I return those items to the store to get my deposit back. I don’t feel that the benefit of recycling what is left is greater than the cost of having the recycling truck come to my house to pick those things up.

    What is funny though is that my sister seems to really want to recycle but there isnt any curbside recycling where she lives so I have offered to let her come use my bin and I even offered to throw that one wine bottle a week I am likely to consume into it. Our plan is that I’ll leave it out on my front porch and she’ll come on Wednesdays and put her stuff in it and carry it down to the curb for me. Mostly I figure that recycling will make her feel good and letting her use my bin makes me feel good which is more of a benefit to me than the knowledge that letting her do it kind of supports the very wasteful curbside recycling program that I think does more harm than good.

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Texas Ranch House *warning spoilers*

    I generally do not like reality TV shows. I seldom can stand them for more than one or two episodes. That is unless they are the history based ones they show on PBS!

    I am currently watching the latest in these which is airing this week on PBS. This one is called Texas Ranch House and the premise is that there is a ranch family and their hired hands in the year 1867. They have to herd and then eventually sell enough cattle to pay the mortgage and everyone’s wages. It is really quite an interesting show.

    One of the first things I noticed is how bad a manager the ranch owner is. He is TERRIBLE. He reminds me a lot of my own managers where I work and it is interesting watching him walk the line of utter failure and limited success. I mean, it is only half way through the show and he has already fired two people (one of whom he fired for “disrespecting his family”). A third left and others seem on the verge of throwing in the towel but seem to be staying because this is really such a great opportunity to learn about what life might have been like on a west Texas ranch just after the Civil War. As I watch this show, I cant help wondering if other management techniques might be better.

    Another thing I noticed is how a bunch of 20th century men can become so blatantly chauvinistic when put into a situation where there are highly defined gender roles. The cowboys are down three people and they absolutely refuse to accept help from a woman who is willing and able to do the whole cowboy thing. They keep talking about how they don’t want her on their team because “she has something to prove.” At least one of them has mentioned that it isn’t “woman’s work” to herd cattle. Amazing!

    So now I am hooked and I cant wait to see the second half of this series. Will the ranch be successful? Will that woman from the house get play “cowboy”? I sure hope so! Will the ranch owner stop being such a dick? Will his wife chill out?

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Slice of Life

    I woke up late this morning and had to hurry getting ready for work. Actually, I woke up at my normal time but because there is a lot of construction going on right now, I have to leave for work a good 15 minutes earlier than usual to assure I make it to work on time. I am so not a morning person. I left for work five minutes after I should have but managed to have one of those rare commutes where I managed to catch every light and not get behind any slow people until I was nearly to work.

    I got behind a slow person but when I went to pass them on the right, the jerk in the Durango behind me saw me put on my signal so they swerved into the other lane and sped up so I couldn’t get over. That was annoying but since the Dodge Durango is like one step below a Hummer it is hardly surprising that the driver was an asshole. Not that I should talk. I drive a VW Jetta which according to Car Talk is the number one car of bad drivers in that their listeners say that most times when they see someone who is a bad driver, they are driving a Jetta. Still, I didn’t put on my turn signal to tell the other driver that they should hurry up and get into the other lane so I couldn’t get over. I am beginning to understand why in so many places, people are reluctant to use their turn signals.

    Yet, even though the Durango got in front of me, I still managed to get to work on time. I don’t have much to say about work at the moment even though I spend the majority of my time here. I guess I feel like most people feel about work. It isn’t thrilling me. I feel underappreciated and underpaid and trapped by my own reluctance to find another job. I guess it is the usual midlife crisis thing. This could be just a paycheck but it exhausts me so much that I don’t often end up doing much after work. I don’t know what else I would like to do though other than to not have to work at all which isn’t a very realistic goal. I did end up having a good conversation with a former co-worker who suggested that I get a job that involves more physical activity. I might be just as tired or even more tired when I get home but it would be a different kind of tired. I think I know what he means. It would be the kind of tired I get after hiking in the woods for miles or after I spend a day at the lake swimming. A good tired rather than the mental and physical blah tired. It is a thought.

    So…I will go home in a couple of hours. I will stop on my way home and I will buy a lotto ticket because I love lotto tickets. I know it is throwing money away but it is just a buck and I get so much entertainment from it. I will also fill up my gas tank and I will try very hard not to have too much sticker shock at the total which I expect will be in the neighborhood of $30-$35 bucks. Then I will read some and watch some TV. Maybe I will call a friend. I know I will worry about the state of the world but generally will feel insulated in my house. I love my house and when I am inside, I feel very safe. No wingnuts in there!

    And that is pretty much a slice of my life.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Mouse in the House

    I had a mouse living in my kitchen. My first instinct when I realized that I had a mouse was to simply live and let live. I resolved not to leave food on the counter and would just let the mouse do it’s thing because mice are cute and I figured it would be kind of like a pet that I didn’t have to take care of. But then I would occasionally find little mouse poops on the counter and that really grossed me out. So…I resolved to get rid of the mouse.

    My parents gave me a this thing they got from the Sharper Image catalog that emits high pitched noises and keeps the mice away. It actually works…sort of. It kept the mouse off the counter where I placed the weird noise emitter thingie but the mouse didn’t leave the kitchen and instead started prowling the floor. This was less gross since the poops were on the floor and not the counter. I would occasionally find them in the dogs’ dishes too but I figured that while that is something that grosses *me* out, it probably was considered a benefit by the dogs who also like to snack out of the kitty litter box whenever they have the opportunity. In fact, if dog food manufacturers were actually marketing their products to dogs, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dog food bag with a label that said “New and Improved: Now with added mouse poop for flavor!”

    Still, I wanted the mouse gone. I was trying to figure out how I could set traps on the floor without the traps snapping the noses of dogs when my elderly cat *finally* caught the sucker. I was sitting in the other room when it happened. I have read that cats like to teach other cats how to hunt and will often bring a wounded or stunned mouse back to the other cats so they can have an opportunity to hunt the thing. I have also read that cats occasionally think of their owners as cats and so it must be with mine as she brought that live mouse over to me and deposited it in my lap. I jumped up screaming and the poor thing landed on the floor and made a run for it. As it found safety under the easy chair, my cat gave me a “why did you let it get away” look and then tried to reach the poor thing by reaching her paw under the chair. She eventually gave up and I suspect the mouse made it’s escape some hours later when the cat went to bed.

    I haven’t seen the mouse since then. Also since then, I have not seen any evidence of the mouse. No mouse poops on the counter or floor. No chewed upon boxes. No nothing. I suspect that to a mouse, finding oneself in the jaws of a cat (even an elderly slow one) is quite a deterrent. Possibly even more of a deterrent than the Sharper Image anti-rodent noise maker. Still, I am keeping that sucker on just in case some different mouse is thinking of taking up residence in my kitchen.