Friday, April 28, 2006


Sometimes it is hard to know to what to blog about. Ideas and thoughts pop into and then out of my head quite frequently. So rather than picking one topic, I’ll just bring up some things that have been on my mind.

Beautiful vs Ugly Dumpsters

I am stunned by a recent post over on Ypsi-Dixit about the city of Ypsilanti spending $150,000 for two dumpster enclosures. That seems like a pretty high cost for something apparently mostly for aesthetic purposes. Even under normal circumstances, I would probably question this amount. But here we are in a situation where the city is talking about stopping services that I would consider way more important than making sure our dumpsters look pretty. It is just little things like bus service and the like. Besides, the city has totally missed a golden opportunity to be hip (I mean, we are “Hipsilanti” after all). The city could have invited artists to paint the dumpsters. Even if some artist painted something ugly on it…it would wear off eventually anyways. I am sure there are artists who would be willing to do this gratis. Heck, *I* would do it pro bono if no one else wanted to although my artistic abilities are questionable. Basically, I am just saying that ugly dumpsters are the least of our city’s problems.

Narcissistic Musings about my Ass

I had another Doctor’s Appointment for my wound. It is still not healed. But it is getting there and the doctor told me that she thinks that it should be totally healed within the next week or two which means I should be ok to go swimming by Memorial Day weekend. That is, of course, of the utmost importance to me because I love swimming and I haven’t been swimming since I was in California in February. I just really want to go swimming.

Rising Fuel Costs

It is interesting to watch people’s reactions to the rising cost of gasoline. A friend sent me a petition that Jennifer Granholm is getting people to sign. Click Here My thoughts on this are mixed. I think it is nice that Granholm is trying to do something at all since this is obviously an issue the people who elected her care deeply about. But I don’t think this particular petition will do much good. And even if it did, I am not sure it would be good for the world at large for people in the United States to be encouraged to continue wasteful habits of fuel consumption. Also higher gasoline prices encourage a lot of good things in the long run…especially if they stay high and stable. High fuel prices encourage research into alternative technologies, they encourage dense populations. They encourage more public transportation. On the other hand, this particular transition will hit poor people more. High gasoline prices might lead to more public transportation sometime in the distant future but in the short term, it wont. It will just make it so that it costs poor people more money to get to work.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I think everyone knows how I feel about lawn mowing but just in case...

I really really hate mowing the lawn. When I first bought my house five years ago, I had this foolish notion that I would be able to mow my lawn with a non motorized push mower. Ugh. In the first place, it wouldnt mow the grass if it was too high which meant that I had to mow *twice* a week in May and June. In the second place, it always left my lawn looking like it had just had a bad haircut. In the third place, it was a little bit more of a workout than I was looking for.

I have a pretty big lawn and with the push mower, it would take me an hour to do the front and two hours to do the back. It is *really* hard too. I have thought about putting an ad in the paper advertising a miracle new environmentally friendly workout and then having people come over to pay me to mow my lawn for ½ hour at a time. It is a good plan except for one major flaw. Anyone with a lawn can get a non motorized push mower for practically free because a lot of poor suckers have acquired them without realizing how hard they are.

Then I bought a battery powered electric mower without considering that I dont have a garage to store it in. I have a shed but there is no place to charge it up there. That meant storing it in the basement. Which meant lugging all 500 lbs of it up and down stairs every time I wanted to mow the lawn. Eventually I mowed over a brick or something that was hiding in some tall grass and broke it. I still have it and probably need to offer it up on Freecycle because I am sure there is someone who would be interested in it if they are the type who knows how to fix things. I spent many hours and at least a hundred dollars in spare parts trying to fix it myself though so it might actually be useless. But, if anyone who reads this wants it, email me at slynne##at##slynne[dot]com or leave a comment here.

After the fiasco with the electric mower, I started renting lawn mowers. They cost around $25 for a half a day which is all I need to mow my lawn front and back. This method of dealing with the lawn actually worked pretty well for me for an entire summer. I didn’t want to buy a new lawn mower because I was pretty sure I was going to be able to fix my battery powered one (oh foolish me). The drawback was that the mowers I was renting didn’t fit into my car well which made it a pain in the neck to pick up and drop off the mowers. The advantages of this was that I never had to do anything to take care of the mower. I never had to check the oil or fill it with gasoline. I didn’t have to clean it after I used it. I didn’t have worry about sharpening the blade. There are advantages to this method.

Also, I did the math and realized that I had spent around $200 renting mowers over the course of a season and it would have been more except that I borrowed my parents’ mower whenever they went out of town. This is something they don’t officially know about even though I totally bent the blade while trying to mow near my steps. I had to replace the blade and then act dumb when my father said “It is the funniest thing, the blade on the lawn mower was in really bad shape at the beginning of the year and now it looks almost brand new.”

“I think that some kinds of blades sharpen themselves on the grass while you mow” was my reply.

Yeah, I don’t think he bought it.

So, realizing that I am a lawn mower abuser and that serious familiar strife would occur if kept sneaking the folks’ lawn mower and that I would waste my money if I kept renting them, I decided that I would buy a more traditional mower. I picked out the toughest mother f*cker I could find: A bright shiny red Toro. I figured that if I could get it to work for just one season, it would almost be cheaper than renting. And that sucker worked just great until nearly the last mow of the season. Then the drive part broke. That is the part that propels it so I can turn lawn mowing into just a ridiculous walk up and down and up and down and up and down my yard. I can still mow with it but it isn’t as easy.

But I will most likely mow my front yard either today or tomorrow. And so begins lawn season.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Better look "healthy" if you want a job

I was reading an article in the Free Press today about getting fit on a budget. It is for the most part a very good article and I was very impressed that they got through the whole article without mentioning weight or obesity or fat. This was not typical of many articles on fitness I have read that usually throw in a paragraph about our country’s so called "obesity epidemic" as some kind of scare tactic.

But there was one short paragraph about why a person who is unemployed might want to make an extra effort to get fit:

"If somebody looks unhealthy, it makes it even more difficult to get hired," Pawlak said. "And if somebody comes in who looks like a real health risk ... that speaks volumes to an employer."

This one really got me thinking. I mean how does one LOOK unhealthy. I mean, what are the physical characteristics that would lead an employer to think that a perspective employee looked unhealthy? This is especially so when most diseases don’t really have obvious physical characteristics. Maybe I am being unfair but based upon some recent online conversations with people, I suspect that when Mr Pawlak says that someone looks like a health risk, what he really means is that they look fat and/or underweight.

It is just a subtle thing but it reminds me of the employment discrimination many studies show that fat people face even in states like Michigan where weight is a protected employment class. It may indeed "speak volumes to an employer" but I think it is important to note that what a person's physical characteristics happen to be do not necessarily speak what the employer hears. There are employers who would let a person's gender speak volumes (she is going to get pregnant and quit) or who would let a person's race speak volumes (those people are lazy and never make good workers) too. It isn't right.

I could think of only one other physical characteristic that would alert an employer to the health status of an employee: age. Older Americans are yet another group who often have trouble finding employment and I suspect that at least some of that discrimination comes from a fear that older people will cost more in the health insurance department.

Which isn't to say that telling people that they need to be as fit and as "healthy looking" as possible is necessarily bad advice since on an individual level it probably would improve their chances of getting a good job. Ditto advising older job hunters to cover the grey and botox their wrinkles. But I think that as a country, we need to do whatever we can to reduce incidences where groups of people face real employment discrimination. Perhaps, in this case, it might be time for the government to take over providing health care for employees. At the very least it would eliminate much of an employers incentive to discriminate based on how "healthy looking" a prospective employee is.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Easter Sunday

My family is Russian Orthodox which meant that we had the big Easter thing to today instead of last week. When I was a kid, I hated it. I wanted nothing more than to be as much a part of the main stream culture as I could be and celebrating Easter on the "wrong day" was just something I didnt like. I didnt like how my family celebrated easter differently than other cultures either. Other kids got candy and goodies in their easter baskets. Our easter baskets consisted of keilbasa, butter shaped like a lamb, home made easter bread (Pascha Bread), ham, salt, honey, pascha cheese (cream cheese with sugar and some other stuff added), horseradish, and hard boiled eggs.

But now that I am an adult, I have to say that I love most of the things about myself that are different from the mainstream. I love that I call my grandmother "Baba." I love that everyone in my family are serious connaisseurs of horseradish and that even I (the world's worst gardener) have a whole horseradish patch in my yard that I planted after Easter last year. I love that Easter is on a different day. And I *really* love that darn Easter basket. Because there is nothing quite so yummy as Pascha Bread with butter and honey sitting on your plate next to some keilbasa and horseradish that is so strong it stings your eyes and makes you go HOLY JESUS!!! whenever you eat it.

So what does that all mean. I dont know other than that an athiest can apparently still appreciate Easter Sunday.

Christ has risen y'all

Indeed he do.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Exposing my Dark Side

I had a really nice conversation with a friend of mine recently about how people often have a trouble noticing their own biases against other people.

We talked a lot about how each of us were brought up in upper middle class households. We both have highly educated parents. And we both have a strong bias against people we consider to be in a lower socio-economic class than we are. I brought this up because recently I picked up a book at work called White Trash Etiquette because I thought it would be funny. And it *is* funny to me. My bias against such people makes the jokes funny. I mean, I love the joke about how tornados and white trash divorces are the same (either way, someone is losing a trailer and yes I am laughing RIGHT NOW). I have a beer bottle in my bushes and I often joke about it being my "white trash" accessory.

This particular bias is very acceptable in our group of peers. When someone makes a joke about trailer trash, I think it is funny. I laugh. When someone goes on a rant about the "goddamn Bush voting trailer trash" there is a part of me deep down that buys the stereotype. This is true even though I know a lot of people to do or have lived in mobile homes and not a SINGLE one fits my stereotype. I do this even though since I have been the butt of many fat jokes and stereotypes, I know how hurtful such behavior can be.

I am not sure what to do about it. I think the world would be a better place if people didnt have such biases. My friend suggested that even though it might be impossible to totally get rid of even the biases in ourselves that we have noticed (never mind the ones we havent noticed yet and I am sure there are plenty), we can do our best not to give such messages to the next generation. Then she said that is why she wont allow the use of the phrase "trailer trash" in her house or around her kids. It makes sense to me. So I am going to pay closer attention to what I say and think and I will do my best to spot instances where I see subtle bias in the media.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Immoral Lifestyle I Lead

The Immoral Lifestyle I Lead
One thing I do find very funny (funny odd rather than funny ha ha) is the way people moralize about fat. I have noticed that often people who are very critical about other people in our culture moralizing about others when it comes to their sex lives or whatever will turn around and do it themselves when it comes to fat people. There is a real puritanical aspect to it.

There is a notion that thin = virtuous. It is more than just a cultural standard of beauty. It is that people believe that thin equals healthy and healthy equals virtuous. People cannot believe that fat people can be healthy. They cannot believe that person who exercises regularly and eats a healthy diet can be fat. They believe that being fat is the fault of the fat person and that if the fat person were more moral (i.e. had virtues of self-control, moderation, etc) they would be thin. People who would never ever think it ok to ask a person to deny their sexual desire by waiting until marriage to have sex or to only have sex with people of the opposite gender even if they are gay, have no problem moralizing to people that they should deny their hunger and starve themselves to fit into a cultural ideal body weight.

This point was really brought home to me recently with the TV show LOST and the character Hurley. Last season, it was really great to have a non-stereotypical fat person on the show. I loved it when he was accused of hoarding food and it turned out that he wasnt. He was just fat. But it turned out that people just couldnt buy it. Fans who were somehow able to suspend their disbelief about such things as polar bears on a tropical island, people having visions of dead people, people surviving that plane crash, crippled people suddenly walking, and a fricking monster in the woods...simply could not believe that a fat guy could land on a tropical island and stay fat. There were thousands of letters to the writers and editorials in entertainment sections of the news. So the writers changed the character to fit the stereotype more. Oh well.

So I realize that probably many people reading this are shaking their heads and thinking that I am crazy and in denial about life and the immoral lifestyle I live. Some people probably think I am lying about the amount of exercise I get because the belief that no one can be fat and exercise regularly is very strong. And some people probably think that the idea of a fat person talking about being healthy but still fat is so funny and delusional that it is worthy of a skit on SNL.

Even so, I'll keep talking about this stuff, because I think that talking about health and our attitudes towards health are ok. I think fat people need to know that they *can* be just as healthy or nearly as healthy as thin people if they make significant lifestyle changes and that those changes are worth while even if they dont lose enough weight to be considered thin.

And if I am wrong and the lifestyle changes cause me to lose all the weight, I will be the first one to admit that I am wrong.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Doctor's Vist (*again*)

I think I might have found yet another source of my perpetual doctor anxiety. I have had lots of opportunities to explore this lately because I have had five doctor’s appointments in the past four weeks. Most of them have been because I had a small surgical procedure done and then busted open the wound. They couldn’t restitch it and it is bad enough that they want to make sure it heals ok without getting infected.

Anyhow, I had another appointment this morning and I didn’t want to go because the wound is still not healing at a rate I would consider appropriate. Now granted I have never had a wound that was this deep before so I really have no idea how long it is supposed to take for it to heal. But it has been two and half weeks since the initial surgery and a week and half since I busted open all the stitches. Anyhow, the point is that I didn’t want to go to the doctor’s office this morning because I feel like this wound is a test and I am failing. Basically, for whatever reason, I have “test anxiety” about an ouchie on my butt.

Of course, it sounds silly once I say it out loud (or write about it in my blog). Still, it really hit me when I went in today and the doctor mentioned that it looked like I might be starting to develop an allergy to the tape and I felt all defensive about it. I think a lot of this has to do with a meme in our culture that people who get sick often get sick because of stuff they do. People are blamed for their illnesses. Which is totally stupid when one really thinks about it!

Anyway, I guess my Stuart Smalley affirmation of the day will be:

I am not responsible for the ouchie on my butt or for any allergies to tape that have resulted from my diligent care of the previously mentioned ouchie. And gosh darn it, people like me!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

A Dangerous Nation

I just want everyone to know that there is a country in the world that is dangerous. Their leaders are irresponsible. They use military force inappropriately. They have demonstrated that they will use military force inappropriately in the very recent past (like within the past 5 years). They do not honor the Geneva Convention and commit human rights violations every day. They have nukes. Even now, this country has plans to use nukes to bend another country to its will. This is a country that needs to be stopped but because it has chosen to build its military at the expense of social welfare programs that could have benefited its people, it is not a country easily dealt with from outside. Diplomacy does not seem to be working. We have to do something to encourage the people to rise up and overthrow their current wicked regime (nonviolently, of course, by voting them out of office).

I am not sure I need to mention the name of this country but I will say that its initials are U. S. and A.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A kind of sucky weekend that ended on a high note

I had a pretty hard weekend. On Thursday evening, I busted the stitches in my leg so I had to go back into the doctor’s office on Friday. The cut was *really* deep but luckily wasn’t infected at all. They said that they couldn’t stitch it up and that I had to spend the weekend not sitting on it. That pretty much meant lying in bed on my stomach for the second weekend in a row.

I wasn’t too worried about it because I had the entire fifth season of Six Feet Under and a couple of good books. And I could take my computer into bed with me since I have a wireless network. It helped that the weather was nice too so I just propped open my backdoor so the dogs could come and go as they needed. So I started watching Six Feet Under and even though it is a really good show and I enjoyed watching it, it was really sad and I found myself weeping uncontrollably for a good part of the weekend. Yeah, that’s right over a TV SHOW. That is how good this show is though. I know “puts me into a terrible depression” probably isn’t the kind of review most people would think of as good but really, how many TV shows can be as touching as that?

All that sobbing and sadness started to make me feel really lonely. And sometimes when I feel really lonely, I don’t take care of myself and call people. I get into this funk where I need people to call me. But no one did. Not even one phone call all weekend which only made me feel even more lonely. It was weird too because usually at least ONE person calls me on any given weekend just to chat. Finally, on Sunday evening I was in about as bad of a space as I have been in a long time so I decided that it was stupid to just expect people to know they should call me. Not to mention that I am usually the kind of friend who doesn’t call people as often as I should anyways. I picked up the phone and it was dead. No dial tone at all. Bleh. So I turned on my cell phone and sure enough there were three messages there from people who had tried to call my land line and hadn’t gotten through. I guess I was loved after all.

One of the calls was from my friend Jen in Hawaii so I called her back but got her husband Terri who is also a friend of mine. We talked for a good hour and a half and that was really nice. They are thinking of moving back to the mainland which means it will be a heck of a lot easier for me to see them. Also, they are planning a trip back here to Michigan later this year. Yay.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An Interesting Development in Local Politics

There are lots of cool things going on here in Ypsilanti. I am not being much of a participant as an observer but it is neat to know what is going on. First, there is the whole Keep Ypsi Rolling thing being led by Ypsidixit. I have been pleasantly surprised to see that she really is making a difference with her efforts. Then there is the fact that someone actually got up at a city counsil meeting and spoke in favor of urban chickens, an idea I think would be great for the city even though I dont think I'll be getting any of my own.

And now, finally, I heard a rumor that another one of Ypsilanti's more famous bloggers is running for city council. Ok, not so much a rumor as the blogger standing on my front porch with a petition. All I can say is that I hope he wins. I not only signed that darn petition but I will promise right here that I can probably be persuaded to help the campaign both with volunteer time but also financially. I wont name the blogger just yet because I dont want to scoop anyone else's blog but if you are a regular reader of local Ypsi blogs, you will most likely know soon enough (if you dont already since as I mentioned this blogger is going to door to door and catching people eating ben and jerry's peace pops in their nightgowns)

The Second Big Fat Carnival

I havent had time to read all of the submissions yet but if it is anything like the last one, it will be worth a look.

The Big Fat Carnival at This ain't livin'

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Queen's Quay

I am not much in the mood for writing today so I thought I would post a photograph instead. I wasnt sure which one I would post but then my sister in law sent me a nice email which reminded me of some photos I took when I first met her in Toronto last summer. We went for a walk on Queen's Quay and for some reason I ended up sitting there for a while waiting for everyone and I took this photo.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I have been reading some interesting blogging about a recent incident involving Cynthia Mckinney and her recent altercation with a security guard on the hill. This post is not about that incident as I don’t really have much of an opinion about it since I don’t feel that enough information has been presented for me to judge her or the security guard in question.

This is a post about the subtle racism and sexism that I see in others and maybe even in myself a little bit. I am not talking about the overt racism like the comments of Neal Boortz but rather just the things that are hard to notice. I have noticed that a lot of blogs on the right have picked up on this incident and part of me wonders if their focus might be related to race. But then I also think that if my representative in congress (John Dingell) were to do something similar, it would probably get a similar amount of attention. I think so but I don’t know so.

And then there is the outcry in many of these blogs that if McKinney dares to suggest that this incident *could* be related to race she is “playing the race card” or whatever. Maybe she is. Maybe they are correctly pointing out one small bit of black privilege. I think about how reaction would be different if a white male congress person did the same thing. He wouldn’t be able to say that the guard was stopping him because of his gender or race. But he also would know 100% that the guard didn’t stop him because of his gender or race. Mckinney simply doesn’t have the luxury of knowing that. The guard himself probably doesn’t know if his decision to stop her had anything to do with her gender or race because often such thinking is done on a purely subconscious level.

And why might McKinney “play the race card” so to speak. Maybe it is purely for political gain if that kind of rhetoric goes over well in her district. But maybe she really feels a sense of discrimination. There are 13 other black women in Congress out of 535 members of the House and Senate. That is not a representative sample of the total number of black women in this country. There are only three reasons why such a group is so under represented in such high power positions. Either white men really are superior to everyone else and are getting into Congress solely due to merit (unlikely), or white men are more likely to want to be in Congress than other groups (slightly more likely than the former theory but still pretty unlikely), or there is actually discrimination somewhere in the process (very likely).

I have no idea how to deal with this racism in our culture other than to talk about it and point it out where I see it. The big problem though is that there are probably a lot of areas where it exists and I don’t see it.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I had some very minor surgury on friday to remove an abcess from my leg. Now this was a procedure involving my skin so the cut isnt too deep. It isnt a very big incision (maybe a couple of inches) as these things go. But it is right on the part of my thigh that I sit on which also happens to be a part of the thigh that rubs against the other thigh when I walk. So, basically, it hurts when I walk and it hurts when I sit down. The only position where it doesnt hurt is when I lie in bed on my stomach. Luckily I have a TV and a DVD player in my room so I was able to keep myself entertained somewhat over the weekend. And also luckily, I have a wireless interenet connection so I can easilly bring my laptop into bed with me.

The pain isnt severe or anything. I have had menstrual cramps that were much MUCH worse. I checked out the wound this morning with a hand mirror and it is healing very well with no infection. And yet, it is making me very whiney and I am finding it difficult to focus on anything else. That is why there will be no thoughtful blog today. Basically, I am a total wimp. I am letting a minor but nearly literal pain in the ass keep me out of commmision for a while at least as far as thinking about things goes. I have dragged myself to work and stuff.

Oh well. What is life if you cant let yourself feel wimpy about things once in a while, right? ;)