Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wednesday Funnies

Flying Spaghetti Monster

And a moral debate: When someone sends a humorous e-mail that so aptly yet unintentionally describes the sender, is it funny, ironic, or sad?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Tuesday Trivia

I've got one more day until my vacation. And I forgot to take my meds this morning.

The College Board “recentered” scores for the SAT in 1995. If you took your exam prior to 1995, your scores today would be approximately 80 points higher on the verbal section. If you scored below 600 on the math section, your score would have increased between 10 and 30 points; if you scored between 650 and 720, your score would have decreased by 10 points.

In 2004, 37 million U.S. citizens were living in poverty. That’s 1.1 million more than in 2003. Almost 4 million more than in 2000. (

According to a national survey, one-quarter of people in the United States have a mental illness requiring treatment; only about half of those people will receive treatment.

Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome: Volume 42 is the least popular book on Amazon under Classics: Roman. Love Hina (Book 5) is the least popular book under Contemporary Fiction. The Automatic Millionaire was the number one business book on the New York Times Bestseller list this time last year. Today, it ranks #1073 on Amazon.

And on 30 August, 30 B.C., Cleopatra committed suicide. (History Channel)

Fighting the Man

The family of pioneering astronaut Gus Grissom has been trying to get NASA to give them his 1961 Mercury spacesuit. NASA says the suit is government property and an artifact that should be kept at the Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida.

Enter Amanda Meyer, space enthusiast and co-captain of her school's debate team. She believes she has a compromise and, after launching an Internet petition drive, has spent the summer writing and calling NASA, the Smithsonian Institution, Congress and anyone else she can think of. (From CNN)

Okay, so this isn't going to save the world. But how awesome is it that a 15-year-old girl is doing this? And how smart is she, too? She came up with a compromise to have the Smithsonian "lend" the suit to the Grissom museum. Too bad the "adults" in government aren't as smart and caring as Amanda Meyer.

Go sign her petition, if only to encourage Amanda to stay smart and keep caring.

Monday, August 29, 2005

On the Pile

I've got some airport and flight time to fill this week, plus four days OFF WORK (and a weekend), so I might actually read some of the stuff that's on my pile this week.

American Dream by Jason DeParle
In case any of you were worried that I was giving up my self-induced depression by reading too many happy children's books, I added to the pile a downer about single mothers and welfare.

Collapse by Jared Diamond
And in case the suffering of poverty-stricken women and children isn't depressing enough, I've got one about the collapse of civilization.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
So I admit that I want to read this book solely because it has one of those super-cute grosgrain ribbon belts on the cover. And I covet those belts.

I'm Thinking No

If a bunch of extreme neo-conservative zealots move to South Carolina and secede from the United States, will anyone actually care?

I'm willing to help them pack for the move.

Monday Meanies

What the hell is Jessica Simpson wearing?

What happened? Did she and Nick get it on in the limo on the way to the VMAs? And then as revenge for her boffing Jackass, Nick didn't tell Jess that her top wasn't back on?

Also, can someone tell me when Lindsay Lohan turned 40? And became Kim Catrall.

Friday, August 26, 2005

True Confessions/Weekend Plans

I’ll just come out and admit the following:

I’m listening to John Denver’s “Definitive All-Time Greatest Hits” as I type this. “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” makes me homesick.

I got a coworker to steal a brownie for me from an Indian buffet. Let’s just say that neither of us will be recruited for the CIA.

No matter what I write below, the truth is that I’ll probably spend the entire weekend watching Alias. I never should have rented the first DVD. Now, even though it is so bad, I’m sucked in. It’s 24 all over again.

Friday Afternoon/Evening
* Stop at the library to pick up two books that are on hold for me: Collapse by Jared Diamond and American Dream by Jason DeParle.
* Take a post-work nap
* Ignore the pile of library books and other books and magazines.
* Watch DVDs instead. Other than Alias, I have Vera Drake, Hoosiers, and Buffy Season 5 Disc 2. I'm quickly running out of Riley episodes.
* Maybe go to the gym. Maybe.

* Take Rowen to the dog park. I’ve had to keep her isolated for more than a week because I suspect that she had kennel cough (I didn’t take her to the vet for confirmation because I didn’t want to spend $30 on an office visit only to be told that it just has to run its course. And, yes, she has been vaccinated, but vaccines aren't 100 percent effective), so she is literally bouncing off the walls.
* Clean the kitchen and bathroom.
* Launder my clothes and sheets and towels.
* Obsessively check the electric meter to see whether having a new a/c unit installed made any difference.
* Pay my bills. Most of which are overdue.
* Escape the heat at a movie matinee. Followed by a trip to the bookstore to read the gossip magazines. Although, really, there hasn’t been much good gossip lately. Even the celebs are taking August off. Or maybe my apathy is getting worse. I just can't make myself care about Vince and Jennifer.

* Go to the gym in the morning.
* Take Rowen to the dog park again.
* Go into work to make up some time from this week and get my office in order before I go on vacation.
* Go to church. I’m signed up to man the social justice committee booth at the ministry fair after mass.

Are you as bored reading this as I am writing it? And if I were smart, although we’ve established that I am not, I would save this so I wouldn’t have to retype it each week. Seeing as it’s the same thing every single weekend. Sigh.

Once Upon a Time . . .

I was smart. Really. I had actually activity going on in the grey matter between my ears.

Now not so much. By way of example:

Yesterday, I saw a post on that referred to the definition of nonplussed. Every time I tried to follow the embedded link to the definition, my computer would freeze and I'd have to Ctrl-Alt-Del myself out of it. And every time, I would go right back to the site and try again. I did this multiple times yesterday. I did it again this morning. Until it finally dawned on me that the link led to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. And I have the print version of the dictionary sitting on my desk at a relaxed arm's length.

I have no hope of getting into grad school.


I'm it! Thanks, Bearette24!

Ten years ago, August 1995

I would have been between my freshman and sophomore years of college and just about to turn 19. I was interning in the marketing department of a defense contractor that made armored vehicles. Yes, working there goes against all my values. But they paid $10/hour for 40 hours a week, and I got to do real work rather than the usual photocopying and coffee fetching. I was one of two women on what was referred to as “Mahogany Row,” the executive wing of the building named after the nice furniture. Most of the men were post-40, former military, and very conservative. I did not fit in. I wrote a marketing analysis of military bridges, which I knew nothing about, but it meant that I got to spend a lot of time with the company librarian, and librarians are always my favorite people. Despite the conservative, corporate atmosphere, my sarcasm and subversive bent didn’t go entirely unused. The department director and I shared a disdain for trendy management techniques. The company was very into the Total Quality Management (TQM) method. The theory behind the method was to reward employees for finding innovative and efficient ways to perform tasks. One of my assignments was to create elaborate presentations to get TQM points for completely inane things, like reorganizing our supply cabinet or replacing one desk with another. I was young, female, and full of bullshit, so I got us a lot of TQM points that summer.

In the evenings, I interned at a local news station. That was when I began to think that maybe I wasn’t cut out for journalism.

Five years ago, August 2000

I was living in a mid-size one-bedroom apartment in the ghettos of Alexandria, Virginia, in an area that was on the cusp of gentrification. It’s now fully gentrified. I started the month working for an organization that was fighting the tobacco industry. When I started in the anti-tobacco movement, I was fired up about it, particularly the grassroots advocacy among teens, and I had taken this job to work in youth advocacy development. I had the coolest job title I will ever have: Youth Empowerment Manager. Except that, in reality, I was an overpaid babysitter. By August 2000, I was cynical about my job and the organization for which I was working. I was working as many as 80 hours a week, traveling constantly, and totally burned out. I also had decided that I no longer wanted to work in public relations/marketing. I wanted to be an editor. I had been taking courses in the evenings and applying for positions. At the end of July, I interviewed for a job at an education magazine. I then immediately left for a youth summit and a two-week road trip through the southeastern United States. But I wanted the job at the magazine. So I called about every third day to check on the hiring status. I made so much of a nuisance of myself that they finally hired me. So I ended the month working at the magazine.

One year ago, August 2004

Six weeks prior, I had moved to Austin on a whim. I had never been here and didn’t know anyone here. At the beginning of August, I didn’t have a job. I had started out looking for a writing position, but by this time, I was desperate for anything. I was going on lots of interviews, only to be told I was one of 200 or 300 candidates. I was beginning to wonder if moving to Austin was a huge mistake and spent many evenings on the phone to my parents in tears as my credit card balances ballooned and my self-esteem shriveled. Finally, I got two job offers at the same time. One was an editing position at an education publisher; the other was as the marketing director for an employee benefits firm. The one offered regular hours and familiar work; the other would have been longer hours and scarier terrain. I had my reasons for taking the first one. Those reasons no longer exist and I’m not sure I made the right choice.

Yesterday, August 25, 2005

I woke up, dressed, took Rowen outside to pee, fed Rowen (she only ate half), and went to work. I was in a terrible mood when I got to work. Thursdays are my Storytime days---I read and sing songs with 4-year-olds at a local daycare. That always improves my mood. After Storytime, I went to Starbucks for an iced tea and a banana nut muffin. I know Starbucks is evil, but I can’t help myself. And there really aren’t any other options near where I work. I went back to work. Surfed the Web, did some work, bitched to my coworkers about not liking work, went home. I was back in a foul mood, so I took Rowen outside to pee and then took a nap while Rowen danced around the bed trying to get me to play with her. I got up, watched three episodes of Alias on DVD, ate a cookie for dinner, put dinner out for Rowen (I swear she’s anorexic), took Rowen outside again to poo, took a shower, and went to bed.

Tomorrow, August 27, 2005

The weekend. Yay because I don’t have to go to work. Boo because it means long hours of feeling disappointed in myself and trying to fill the time. I’ll probably take Rowen to the dog park at some point. I need to clean up the apartment because I’m leaving for a trip back East next week. I’ll watch lots of DVDs and read and tell myself that I should write but won’t.

Five Snacks I Enjoy

Animal crackers
Utz potato chips

Five Bands That I Know Most of Their Lyrics

Oh, this is going to be embarrassing.

New Kids on the Block (I haven’t listened to them in fifteen years, but I still know the lyrics)
Dixie Chicks
Terri Clark
Joss Whedon (not really a band, but I know most of the words to “Once More With Feeling” and the theme to Firefly)

Five Things I’d Do With A Million Dollars

Pay off my parents’ house
Pay off my credit cards and my debt to my parents
Buy a small house on the Eastern shore with a yard so Rowen could run and play and I could get another dog to run and play with her
Take a year off to read and write
Use the rest to fund sustainable development projects (building schools and dispensaries; funding microcredit groups)

Five Places I’d Run Away To

County Cork, Ireland
West Virginia

Five Bad Habits I Have

Picking at my cuticles
Cracking my knuckles
Chatting at work
Compulsive book buying

Five Things I Like Doing

Watching my puppy

Five Things I Wouldn’t Wear

Sheer tops without a camisole
Short shorts

Five TV Shows That I Love

Can these be ones from the past? Because I don’t have a television anymore.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
The Wire
Law & Order (but only when Jerry Orbach was on it)

Five Movies That I Love

Again, this will be embarrassing.

Legally Blonde
Bring It On
Hotel Rwanda
The Goonies

Five Famous People Whom I’d Like to Meet

Marc Blucas (ya’ll knew he’d be on here)
Cal Ripken, Jr. or Eddie Murray
Joss Whedon
Margaret Atwood
Toni Morrison

Five Favorite Toys

This one is hard. I don’t have a lot of toy-type things.

Mr. Squeaky Frog (one of Rowen’s toys that I’ve repaired multiple times and finally retired from play)

I give up. I can only come up with three right now.

Five People to Tag

I’m going to skip this one because I’m a misanthropic shut-in and can’t think of anyone to include. But feel free to tag yourself.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Get Ready for Domination

MBNA is taking over the world.

I already have two of their credit cards with ginormous interest yets. But every time I try to apply for a new card with a special balance transfer rate, I get to the fine print and discover that it's an MBNA card. And, of course, they won't let you transfer a balance from your enormous interest rate on one of their cards to another one of their cards with a lower rate.

Bastards of capitalism.

It's Bush's World

We're just trapped in it.


Stepping up their response Tuesday to an anti-war movement that has gained momentum in recent weeks, President Bush and his aides said that heeding the wishes of protesters to withdraw troops from Iraq would "weaken" the United States' broader efforts to combat terrorism.

All together now: The war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorists and never will. I mean, does Bush even believe his own bullshit anymore or he is just going through the motions?

Bush made his remarks in a surprise appearance during a vacation day at an Idaho mountain resort.

So glad that my taxpayer dollars are paying for Bush's vacation at a mountain resort so he can gladhand campaign contributors and get a nice photo op with a bunch of WWII veterans.

He argued that the views espoused by Cindy Sheehan, mother of a slain soldier and the founder of an anti-war encampment near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, did not represent the opinions of most of the military families he has met.

Well, there ya go. I can just picture him sitting in his ranch with his eyes closed and his hands over his ears: "Lalalalala. I can't hear you. Lalalalala."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just When You Thought It Couldn't Get More Absurd

Could the Bushies be any tackier?

It's not like they've ever shown any compassion for the families of the dead (see Schiavo, Terry). But putting propoganda on gravemarkers?

I'll pay the inscription cost if someone will put "Died for Bush's Greed and Arrogance" on the marker.

Our Coward in Chief

So Bush can take time out from his vacation to go to Utah and Idaho to speak to people who support the war, but he can't go ONE MILE from his ranch to speak to those who question it?

Tuesday Trivia

These are some things I learned from Harper's (Sept. 2005):

Number of anti-globalization protesters who were tortured last year by Mexican officials: 19

In New York State, 79 percent of students graduate from high school in four years in districts that are majority-white; in districts in which the majority of students are black or Latino, only 40 percent of students graduate in four years.

Hedgehogs do not like tidy gardens.

Amount the U.S. spent last year on mosquito nets to fight malaria in Africa: $4 million.
Amount the U.S. paid a consultant to conduct "social marketing" of mosquito nets: $7.6 million

A physicist calculated that mass worldwide conversion to a vegetarian diet would do more to slow global warming than cutting back on oil and gas use.

Women are most likely to be unfaithful when they are ovulating.

A study of umbilical-cord blood from ten babies found an average of 200 industrial chemicals in each child.

Postwar Kosovo has received 23 times the amount of international reconstruction aid that postwar Afghanistan has received. Kosovo has 24 times the number of peacekeeping troops as Afghanistan. According to the CIA World Factbook, Afghanistan has more than 6 times the land mass and nearly 3 times the population of Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro). In Kosovo, at least 70 percent of the population is Christian; in Afghanistan, at least 99 percent of the population is not.

Monday, August 22, 2005

On the Pile

My posts this week will most likely be fewer, shorter, and less frequent (yeah, I heard that sigh of relief). I'm getting ready for a trip back East next week, and I need to get some work done before I go if I want to come back to a job.

The Abortion Myth by Leslie Cannold
More reading for the possible op-ed. It's a lot of research for 600 words, but I know I'm going to be slammed for taking a liberal stance in a Catholic newspaper, so I want to have as much information as I can find.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
Fourth in the Narnia series. Rereading the series has sparked my curiousity about the symbolism and mythology behind the stories, so I picked up C.S. Lewis, Spinner of Tales: A Guide to His Fiction by E.K. Gibson and C.S. Lewis: The Companion & Guide by Walter Hooper at the library.

I also bought the latest issue of Harper's, which has a fantastic piece by Jonathon Kozol (who is apparently one of the 100 people who are ruining America, along with Eminem, Barbara Streisand, and Al Gore) on the resegregation of schools, and Ode, which always has intriguing articles on sustainable development and aide programs that are working. And the new Yoga Journal arrived in the mail today. I may save that for the plane ride.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Weekend Plans

This is another one of those weekends where it would be easier to list what I’m not doing than what I am. Not because I have so much to do, but because I have so little and no idea how to fill the 57 hours.

Anyway, what I do know is . . .

Friday Afternoon/Evening
* Leaving work as early as possibly (hoping for 3.15ish) to go swimming at the gym.
* Spending an evening in with the puppy, some DVDs, a stack of reading, perhaps take out from Whole Foods.

* For once I’m not going to the dog park because Rowen is contagious in a big way. And unlike some people, I won’t take my sick dog where she could infect others. Instead, I’ll get up super early and take her to the greenbelt or McKinney Falls for a walk.
* A trip to the library. I’m going to pay off my fortune in fines and then get me some books. I also need to exchange my Storytime kit for a new one.
* Maybe a movie in the afternoon seeing as it is going to be blessed hot here in Austin.
* Maybe a post-movie trip to the bookstore to read the magazines for free while sipping an ice tea and eating something sweet.

* Taking Rowen to whichever place I didn’t take her on Saturday for an early morning walk. Or maybe around the neighborhood if I’m being lazy.
* Going to the gym for some form of exercise. Most likely the eliptical machine. No weights for another week so that I make sure my back is okay.
* Maybe making it to church for once. It’s been months. Bad me!
* Pax Christi meeting. At which I'm the youngest by at least two decades. Where are all the other faith-based social justice advocates under the age of 50 in Austin? It's the same in all the social justice groups in which I'm involved. We’re watching Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story. I’ve seen the movie before. Didn’t care much for it even though Dorothy Day is one of my heroes. The Long Loneliness is on my list of books that everyone must read.

Other than that, there’s cleaning to do and crafts to make and puttering to putt. Somehow I’ve skipped straight from 25-years old to 80-years old.

Different Strokes

One blogger's chic is another's fug.


Cindy Sheehan left her vigil outside of G.W. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, to attend to her mother who had a stroke.

And, really, I wouldn't put it past this Administration to have engineered this somehow.

Your Morning Outrage

Remember my girl-crush on Jennifer Weiner? Still going strong.

Understand that I’m thrilled to be thought of as the apotheosis of anything. It’s a much cooler title than working mother. I also think Lucy would get a kick out of being referred to as “spawn” (nicely Satanic undertones, plus a little more decorous than “crotch dropping.”)

On a related note: What the heck?

Teri Polo and Peri Gilpin spread the Love in a Lifetime original movie. The duo is set to star in For the Love of a Child, a chick flick based on the true story of two Nobel Peace Prize nominees who rescue abandoned and abused children. The tearjerker airs in January. (from E!)

Okay, so it's a Lifetime movie. But calling a movie about two Nobel Peace Prize winners saving abused children a chick flick? And if it happened to be two men in the lead, would it be a buddy flick? I think not.

Update: Rowen

Rowen's cough has almost gone away, but I'm not sure if that's a good thing. She's not hacking away anymore, but she's also not bringing up any phlegm. Although I'm happy not to be cleaning mucus off my carpet, I'm worried that if she doesn't cough it up, she'll get more sick. I'm going to take her off the cough medicine this afternoon and see what happens.

Update: Electric Bill

The saga continues.

I've called the electric company to reread the meter; they found that their original reading is correct. I looked at the meter myself and had to agree.

So I called them back and asked what the problem could be. They looked at my month to month usage and concluded that it had to be my a/c and heating unit because I was showing huge spikes during the cold and hot months and steep declines during mild months.

I called the office at my apartment complex and asked to have the a/c filter changed. They did that, and my meter reading went UP for that day (the temperature also has spiked the past two days, so . . . ).

I called the office again and asked them to check the a/c unit. The maintenance man claims that he checked the unit and checked every other major appliance in my apartment and they were all working fine and not using any more energy than they should. I'm not entirely sure that I trust the maintenance man because he also tried to convince me that I would use less energy if I set the thermostat at 73. Huh?

The maintenance man is supposed to go back today to check whether my unit is cycling correctly and whether the thermostat is reading the temperature correctly.

In the meantime, I talked to a neighbor who has the same type of apartment as I have, and her bill was almost identical to mine.

So I may just be living in the least energy efficient apartment ever.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


No wonder I have such good vision.

Apartment Managers

They are going on my list of bad people. Along with car dealers, health club salesmen, and the person at AOL who kept me on the phone forever trying to convince me to stay with them even though I had explained that I was moving to a small African nation.

Two days ago, I called to ask when my a/c filter had last been changed and was told that it hadn't been changed for at least as long as I have lived in the apartment. Today, when I called to find out the exact date of the last change, someone else swore that the filters were changed every three months. Except I've never gotten a slip saying that someone has entered my apartment, which they are required to leave.

Anyway, they are now going to check the a/c unit itself to see if there are any leaks or maintenance issues.

Anyone have any other ideas on what could be causing my electric bill to be so high?

Are We Surprised? No.

In a memo dated February 7, 2003, three senior department officials -- noting the U.S. Central Command's focus on military objectives and reluctance to take on policing roles -- warned that "a failure to address short-term public security and humanitarian assistance concerns could result in serious human rights abuses which would undermine an otherwise successful military campaign, and our reputation internationally."

How much more evidence will it take to bring the Bushies down?


J. Michael Fay has something to say. And we all need to listen.

Report From Crawford

Okay. I give up. The manifesto just isn’t going to get written. With more peace events and sick puppies* and just trying to have a sort-of life, I’m feeling a little spun this week. I’m a total creature of habit, so even the tiniest change to my routine puts everything off-kilter.

Here’s the abbreviated (sort of), just-the-facts (with a little editorializing) version Crawford:

Events began for me on Friday night as I dashed around town stocking up on protest supplies and road-trip sundries (lest we get stuck somewhere for more than 15 minutes; yes, I’m a former girl scout). Despite my promise to myself that I would go to bed very early, I was up very late making signs. I made one with “Real Texas Don’t Hide,” which was a big hit at the rally.

Saturday was an early morning to meet the caravan at a pre-arranged spot and a pre-arranged time. Unfortunately, sometimes that whole waffling criticism of liberals is entirely too true. In trying to please everyone, the organizers had added later departures. So only three of us showed up for the 8.00 a.m. departure: me, Lopez!, and a wonderful woman named Maggie whose son is getting sent to Iraq. Also there was a local news team preparing to do a live feed to their morning show. The former PR girl in me wanted to find the organizers (who hadn’t bothered to show up), smack them hard, and then crawl into a hole in the ground. Finally, one organizer did show up to drop off the sound system, which we wound up taking to Crawford because we were the only ones there. The live feed was kind of a bust, but the organizer and myself did taped interviews that were used in a later broadcast. And no, I’m not telling you where to find the clip.**

The drive up to Crawford was uneventful; we only got turned around once, which is amazing for me and which I blame on Texas’s inability to put up proper signage on its roads.

The action in Crawford started around 11.00 a.m. or so, when shuttles began bringing people from the vigil site to the rally site and cars began filling the parking lot. People were coming from all over the States: Oregon, California, New Mexico, Vermont, Virginia, Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma---and those are just the states that I encountered.

The rally was held in a small park near the center of town and down the road from the Crawford Peace House. By the time the program started, at least 300 people were gathered and we had run out of parking spaces. Not a bad turn out for a day on which temperatures were approaching 100 and the humidity was pushing the heat index above that.

The rally itself consisted of speakers from Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families for Peace, Iraqi Veterans Against the War, the Crawford Peace House, and Code Pink. It moved surprisingly quickly; no diatribes, no attempts to rally the crowd into silly chants.

Across the street and down a little bit were about two dozen Bush supporters staging a counter-protest, but there wasn’t any confrontation and everyone was respectful of one another. Except for one redneck yahoo who drove his truck up and down the street in front of the park, waving a ginormous flag and playing bad country music. Is there anyone who really likes “I’m Proud to Be An American”?

After the rally, we went back to our cars and caravanned to Camp Casey, named in honor of Cindy Sheehan’s son who died in combat in Iraq. We were fortunate to be toward the front of the caravan, so we got there quickly, parked, and walked about a quarter mile down to the camp. Camp Casey is really in the middle of nowhere. It’s just ranch fields as far as you can see. So I’m not quite sure why the locals are claiming it’s such a disturbance. Who are they disturbing? The crows?

Along the side of the road were the crosses, Stars of David, and whatever that Muslim symbol is called, with the names of fallen troops on them. The camp itself is a bunch of pup tents along the side of the road, tables for the various groups involved in the effort (see above), cars, and a mini-grocer that is supplying food and water to those camped out and the protesters who come to visit. It kind of had the feel of a really disorganized town fair or a really big family reunion.

The cops tried their best to keep us off the roads and any private property and occasionally made pronouncements about where we could stand or how to park our cars. At first there were only about three or four officers there and I think they were feeling a little overwhelmed by us. Eventually nearly a dozen more police cars showed up.

We did get to see Cindy---at one point I was standing two people down from her---but she was constantly being bombarded with phone calls and cameras and people wanted to say hello or share their stories, so I didn’t even try to say anything to her. Besides, all I would have said to her is “Great work! We support you!” and I think she figured that one out from the huge crowd gathered.

After about twenty minutes at the camp, we were ready to go, but then we looked back at the road and the caravan of cars was still stretched several miles back. The road was rather narrow---and made even more so by the cars lined up on both sides of it---so we decided wait until everyone had arrived. That took about another twenty minutes or so. I lost count of the cars somewhere around 100---and that was only those in the caravan, not those already at the camp.

Best estimate of number of people at Camp Casey: between 700 and 800. I tried to find someone who was in charge and keeping track of these things. But surprise, surprise: No one was really in charge or bothering to keep any kinds of statistics. My type-A personality was in hyperoverdrive at the chaos.

So that’s the report from there.

In other news, last night I went with several coworkers to a “candlelight” vigil on a pedestrian bridge near downtown Austin (the wind was too strong for most of the candles to stay lit for more than minute or two). The Statesman is reporting that between 300 and 500 people were there; I’m putting it at closer to 700. The crowd was just enormous. Again, everyone was very positive and peaceful, yet also very determined that this war has to end. Once the sun had gone most of the way down, we attempted to light our candles and processed down a spiral ramp at the end of the bridge, which made a beautiful picture---all these people quietly walking with their candles and signs and flags.

This time, no Bush supporters were around, and the only disturbance were some bikers and runners who need to get over themselves.

Pictures of Crawford are here; I’ll post pictures from the vigil soon.

And I know this went kind of long---longer than I had planned---but at least I left out all the “why the progressive movement is screwing itself” analysis.

* Add to the reasons why I should never have children: It’s just too hard when your little one is sick. I think I’m more upset about Rowen being sick than she is. But every time I hear that hacking cough, I just cringe for her.

** I think Modam may have found the clip, which would explain his disappearance. Really, I don’t look that hideous in person! Or when I’ve gone to the trouble to shower, apply make up, and comb my hair.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

You Really Don't Care

But I do. And it's my blog.

Marc Blucas has finally been cast in a new movie.

On the upside, I can continue my crush. And it can't possibly be worse than First Daughter.

On the downside, the film also stars Bai Ling/Ling Bai and Taryn Manning. And while normally I'd be loathe to see anything that featured the captain and first mate of the S.S. Fugly*, I'd pay good money to hear Marc read the phone book.

Also, it looks like some tiny, independent film that will, at best, get limited release (read: It won't make it to Austin), so I'll have to bide my time until the DVD comes out.

*I know I'm not exactly the stylin' hipster, but, well, c'mon. Look at them.

Update on the Update

So still no report from Crawford. I went to Old Navy instead because I desperately needed some pants that don't cut off the circulation to my bottom half. And I needed to restock on the perfect white t-shirt. It's the perfect fit, the perfect weight. And I've gone through half a dozen of them this summer thanks to Rowen's muddy paws and my inability to drink an ice tea without spilling it. Really. I think I need to get myself some of those sippy cups for toddlers.

And the report isn't likely to get written today. Rowen has kennel cough. So I spent the hours of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. listening to her cough and cleaning up the post-cough vomit. So I'm a lot bleary-eyed and cranky this morning.

Tonight, though, is a nationwide vigil for Cindy Sheehan. For Austinites, I'll be at the vigil at the pedestrian bridge on Lamar at 7.30 p.m. Or visit to find a vigil in your area.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Uh Oh

Someone found out my secret.

After a couple months in Rome, the charm of having all those little family shops ran out and I got very tired of going all over the place to find simple things at reasonable prices. There were days when I would have sacrificed all the piazzas in Rome for a Walmart.

Three Cheers for the Washington Post!

Chalk one up for the good guys.

The Washington Post is withdrawing its offer of free advertising for an organized event by the Defense Department to memorialize the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the newspaper announced.

The Post backed out of the agreement after critics said the event . . . would have a pro-war slant and that support of the event by the newspaper would compromise the Post's journalistic integrity.

The paper said that it instead will make a donation directly to the Pentagon Memorial Fund, which is raising money to build a two-acre contemplation park in honor of the 184 people who died when a plane crashed into the Pentagon in 2001.

Other sponsors include Stars and Stripes newspaper, Pentagon Federal Credit Union, Subway, Lockheed Martin, The Washington Post, WTOP Radio Network, and ABC WJLA-TV Channel 7 & NewsChannel 8

So no more eating at Subway. And if you live in the DC area or know people who do, please write to the other media outlets to ask that they also withdraw their support.

Full Story

Update: Electric Bill

So I'm an East Coast girl. And back East, unless you have big bucks for some fancy schmancy luxury condo, you won't have central a/c or heating in your apartment. You'll have a small window unit for the summer and a radiator for the winter. My parents' house has central a/c and heating, but it was their job as the adults to make sure that the house stayed standing and functioning, and I didn't give much thought to any of it beyond turning off lights when I left the room and not leaving windows and doors open because "We're not cooling the whole neighborhood."

So this whole central a/c and heat thing is kind of new to me. And apparently, I should be having the filter replaced every 3 months or so. I've been in my apartment for 9 months. The filter has not been replaced that entire time.

I think we may have pinpointed the problem.

I don't wanna be a grown-up anymore.


I know you are all eagerly waiting---salivating, even---for my report from Crawford. Well, I don't have it written yet. I started writing it, but it turned into a longer reflection on the progressive movement, which I will post so you can ignore it.

In the meantime, I have posted some pictures* from the rally and Camp Casey to a flickr account. I hope the link works.

*Note: These pictures were taken with a digital camera that I had never used before and I was having problems seeing the LCD in the bright sunlight. And I haven't done any editing to them yet. So please excuse the really poor photography.

Monday, August 15, 2005

They're Back!

It's been way too long since we've had any updates on Tom and Katie. But finally, through the investigative prowess of Star (why have they not won a Pulitzer?) Magazine, we have some news. Sort of.

So anyone else notice how quickly this relationship disappeared from view once their movies had opened? Not that I'm implying that the whole thing is a publicity stunt. No implying about it.

On the Pile

I'll post my report from Crawford later today. For now, here's what has been added to the pile for this week.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
The third in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It's just so good.

The Impossible Will Take a Little While ed. by Paul R. Loeb
I'm dipping in and out of this collection of essays on finding hope in the quest to save the world.

Writing the Mind Alive by L. T. Metcalf and T. Simon
Yet another in a long line of self-help books that will get half-read and never applied and will not solve my problems. But that won't stop me from starting it. Or the one after it.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Cindy Sheehan

In her own words.

Photo of the Day

I don't even care if this is Photoshop'd. Image via WOW Report.

Weekend Plans

Anyone want to guess what I’m doing on Saturday? As for the rest of the weekend, here it is.

* Nap. For a variety of reasons, this week has been exhausting. So tonight is going to be mostly about relaxing and getting to bed early.
* Dog Park. So that I’ll feel a little less guilty about keeping Rowen cooped up in a cage all day Saturday.
* Reading. For a long time, I was struggling to get into any books. Suddenly, I have several vying for my attention: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Democracy Matters; The Impossible Will Take a Little While; Justice on the Grass . . . .

* Rally in Crawford! As I’ve said before, if you can come, please join us. If can’t, please contribute in any way you can, even if it’s just prayers for Cindy Sheehan and the others keeping vigil with her.
* Lying on my back, wishing to any deity who will listen that I hadn’t been so stubborn as to spend a day driving and rallying when I still have a bad back.
* Taking Rowen to the dog park. Possibly buying her a new guilt toy.
* Baking a dessert for Sunday.
* DVDs. I’ve got a couple of Buffy DVDs on the way from Netflix, as well as Manufacturing Consent and Farmingville: POV.

* Sleeping in. No matter how much Rowen protests.
* Going for a walk with Rowen, if my back can take it. Otherwise, the dog park. Again.
* Party with my social justice buddies from church. Okay, more like gathering with them.
* Going to bed very, very early.

And at some point in the weekend, I’ll talk to my parents and hear all about their wonderful, fabulous cruise around the Baltic Sea.

Update on Crawford

For those just tuning in: Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a serviceman killed in Iraq, has traveled from California to Crawford, Texas, to ask that President Bush speak with her about the reasons for the ongoing war. Bush has refused to see her, so Cindy has set up camp on the country road to his "ranch" where he is on vacation.

This is a report from a volunteer who went to the vigil site:

Greetings to all! It is midnight Thursday. Robert and I have just returned from Crawford. When we were there last Monday-3 days ago, there were about 20 people and a small encampment. There were media calls coming in fast and furious. It was a quiet yet determined small group of supporters. Today there were over 75 cars and over 150 people from all over the country who came in to support Cindy Sheehan. All had stories of hearing about Cindy on the news, dropping everything they were doing, getting in the car and coming to Crawford to support Cindy and meet her. People were arriving continuously streaming in to come help from all over the country

One couple drove in from Los Angeles. They brought white crosses. They lined up the crosses 3 deep on one side of the county road leading to the Bush ranch. The crosses are set in the ground for over a quarter of a mile. It was a gut wrenching sad sight to see these crosses lining the road. As far as you could see there is nothing but open grassy fields-cow pasture and blue sky. The crosses stand out alone against the open sky. There were constant comments from on-lookers wondering how George W Bush sleeps at night as he flies over in his helicopter looking down at these crosses. He has flown over several times in the Air Force One helicopter. Volunteers were busy placing the names of the fallen soldiers who lost their lives in Iraq on the crosses. A sad and solemn task that was not completed when we left at 9:30pm tonight.

Condi Rice and Rumsfeld arrived at the ranch today. Rumor has it that George W's entourage will finally have to drive by the encampment tomorrow. So far he has been flying in and out and has not used the county road.There is alledgedly a neighbor hosting a fundraiser party for Bush tomorrow. We saw catering trucks arriving at the Broken Spoke Ranch today where the event is being held. The Broken Spoke Ranch is only half a mile away and in view of the Sheehan encampment. If they leave the ranch by car they will have to drive by the crosses and encampment to get to the party.

Today I quickly went to work helping return media calls. There are 4 people now assisting with this and scheduling interviews for Cindy and the other parents of fallen soldiers who have arrived to help.We were receiving calls from all over the country and world. I met a reporter emailing a report to Germany. Cameras from MSNBC, People magazine and, CNN, to name a few.TV, newspapers, radio station calls were pouring in. For every call I took 4-5 calls would come in while I was on that call.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference sent in a minister today to assess the situation to see what they could do to help. He gave a sermon on the importance of non-violence and said some very inspirational things. SCLC will possibly be sending in more help and representatives from their organization the minister told me tonight.

The level this action that Cindy Sheehan started from an idea she had last Saturday has gathered momentum exponentially and is truly explosive and miraculous. In my opinion she is giving voice to the outrage,frustration and upset many Americans feel about this war and all the actions and policies the Bush administration has instituted against the will of the majority of the American people. What I saw today were people from every walk of life, age and race. They all care deeply for their country and are upset about the direction this president has taken us in. All were there to help, to do something, anything to stop this war and bring our troops safely home.

The opinions and observations I have expressed in this account are mine only. I do not represent Cindy Sheehan or anyone else. After visiting and talking with the folks who showed up in Crawford this is what I came home with. I only wish I could do more. All we are missing out there for now is someone to cook vegeterian meals for Cindy, AND for Bush to have the guts to walk out his gate and talk to Cindy.

If you haven't done so already, please take five minutes of your time to sign a petition, write a letter to your local newspaper, or call the White House (202-456-1111) to demand that President Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan.

Soapbox, Part II

Any suggestions for what I should write on a sign to take to the rally in Crawford?

August, Bloody August

This is why I'm going to Crawford on Saturday.

(Warning: I'm stepping up on my soapbox.)

See, I'm sort of conflicted in my opinion on Iraq. I'm certain that we never should have attacked and that the attack and subsequent occupation are textbook cases of absolutely no planning whatsoever. I took a half dozen international affairs classes my freshman year of college (back when I was an international affairs major) and I could have predicted most of the problems with the Bush plan.

I'm also certain that the Bush Administration has failed our troops. They haven't provided the necessary training, equipment, and armored vehicles---despite having known for more than a year that people are dying because of a lack of these three things. They "support" our troops in rhetoric only.

I'm certain that Bush has lied and continues to lie to and deceive the U.S. Congress, the American people, and the international community. No WMDs have been found and there's never been any evidence to suggest that they existed. The real price of this war is being disguised by requesting funds in special legislation rather than as part of the Department of Defense's budget. Conditions in Iraq are worse than when we invaded. And getting the truth about Gitmo and the prisons in Iraq is nearly impossible.

But I'm not so certain that pulling all our troops is the right thing to do. Like it or not, we created this problem. And our troops may be the only thing preventing complete chaos and civil war in Iraq. What Bush failed to mention when he was whipping the country into a war frenzy is that nation building is a very long, messy process that requires a commitment of troops, money, and technical assistance over many years. If we pull out our troops now, we risk a major humanitarian crisis and an increase in anti-American sentiment, (History lesson: The roots of the September 11 attacks go back to when we encouraged Afghanistan to resist Soviet occupation, which left the country's infrastructure completely devastated, and then reneaged on our promise to help in reconstruction.) not to mention destabilization of the entire region.

So why am I going to Crawford? Because the Bush Administration has not once acknowledged any accountability for this mess. Because they are doing nothing to improve the situation. Because they are acting like the war is over when troops are still dying by the dozens each month. Because they want to chalk this one up in the win column when, with the most generous interpretation, it's a draw. Because they have formed an oligarchy in which the vast majority of U.S. citizens are completely shut out---the same citizens who are losing their lives or losing their sons, fathers, brothers, husbands in this war. Because the media has stopped asking the tough questions and prefers to chase down runaway brides than to investigate a corrupt president. I'm going because if I don't, then I'm no better than the members of Congress, the media, and all the others who prefer to bury their heads in the sand than confront the problem.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Someone is doing some really useful research.

A Small Action

I'm becoming increasingly cynical about the people's ability to change anything in the United States. But I'm not quite ready to give up.

The following is from Working Assets:

President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush are spending their five-week vacation this summer at the ranch in Texas. Meanwhile, Cindy Sheehan's son Casey won't be spending a five week vacation anywhere this summer -- he was killed in April of 2004 outside Baghdad.

Cindy Sheehan recently traveled to Crawford, Texas, to ask for a meeting with the President. She was stopped by the Secret Service about two miles away from the ranch, and has set up camp there to wait for some free time in the President's schedule. She's hoping that the President can find 15 minutes to meet with the mom of a soldier who gave his life in service to our country.

Cindy is asking that the President explain how sacrificing more troops in the Iraq quagmire will "honor the sacrifices of the fallen." She's also asking that the President explain just what is this "noble cause" he keeps saying we're fighting for in Iraq, and if it's so noble -- why aren't his daughters enlisted in the fight?

Unfortunately, the President has not yet agreed to meet with Cindy. It's also recently been reported that when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrive at the ranch on Thursday, Cindy will be arrested as a "threat to national security."

Please take a few minutes of your day to send a letter through Working Assets or to sign on to an advertisement being placed by in the Crawford newspaper.

Fellow bloggers, please include this on your sites as well.


And again I say, Amen!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Just a Reminder

Only two weeks left to buy my birthday present. In case you've forgotten what I want:

* A Team Prozac t-shirt. (Jr. B or R, large, spring green)
* A subscription to the Utz chip of the month club.
* Anything that comes in a pretty blue box.
* Pink wellies.
* This. This. Or This.
* Chocolate!
* A donation to CRS, Save Darfur, or the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

It's Raining. It's Pouring.

Again. And with any luck, Rowen is rolling around in the rain and the mud as I type.* I have the one and only dog who likes thunderstorms. Because rain is just water coming from a different direction. And the lightning is so pretty.

My bad back is her good luck: she went to doggy day care today to work out some of that puppy energy. I love my dog, but sometimes I just need her to not love me so much.

* The day care has, on occassion, had to hose Rowen off to figure out which dog she was.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

On the Pile

I've added a few readers (and chased away quite a few, too!), so I thought I should reiterate my disclaimer for the weekly On the Pile listing: These are the books that have made it from the general stacks and into the pile next to my bed. Being on this list does not guarantee that the book will be read. Or opened, for that matter. Many of the books will be sampled, put down, picked up again, and so forth over the course of years.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
I finished The Magician's Nephew last week and keep planning to start this one. Except that I've found that it's very hard to read when lying on your back with your legs up the wall and when doped up on super-doses of ibuprofen. And my bathtub is not a comfy, lie-back-and-read-in-the-bubbles bath. If I ever get my own place, the very first thing I'm doing is renovating the bathroom.

Machete Season by Jean Hatzfield
Justice on the Grass by Dina Temple-Raston
Yep, I'm back to my depressing reads on genocide. Machete Season tells the story of the genocide in Rwanda from the point of view of the people doing the killing. Justice on the Grass looks at the trials of three journalists who helped incite the genocide and asks the question, What is the limit of free speech?

Note: Temple-Raston also wrote A Death in Texas about the murder-by-dragging of a black man in Jasper, Texas.

The War on Choice by Gloria Feldt
Being read for background material for an op-ed on creating a progressive---and effective---agenda to reduce abortions without eliminating a woman's choice. I'm finally coming out of the closet as a pro-choice Catholic. Let's see what happens. Speaking of which: Huh?

Happy Birthday, Rowen!

Rowen is one year old today! Yay!

Unfortunately, she'll have to wait for her birthday celebration because I'm still feeling ucky from a bad back and possibly toxic levels of ibuprofen.

This is what she looked like when she was 8 weeks old:

Monday, August 08, 2005

Guess who finally got a wireless card for her laptop?

Guess who found out that she has a free---albeit very weak---signal in her apartment?

Guess who is really excited about all this because a back injury has her stuck in her apartment? And she doesn't even have any junk food.

So do think Advil is really serious about that whole "do not exceed six pills in a day" thing?

Friday, August 05, 2005


A little something to get the girls---and maybe the guys (who am I to judge?)---through a Friday afternoon.

Weekend Plans

It’s raining. It’s pouring. Which means I’m going to be snorin’. As if I weren’t enough of a shut-in*, today’s gloomy skies and rain are a good excuse to curl up in bed with stacks of reading material and some DVDs. And starting at approximately 3:23 p.m., that’s exactly where I’ll be. Or I’ll be standing outside in the rain trying to convince Rowen that standing outside during lightening storms and saying hello to skunks are both very bad ideas. Maybe I’ll just give her another one of my shoes to eat.

The rest of the weekend is more amorphous. Among the things I plan to do sometime between this evening and Monday morning:

* Take the car to a mechanic for a fluid check/change and an inspection.
* Drive Rowen to the dog park and set her free.
* Take Rowen to the groomer so her coat will be a little less stinky and her nails will be a little less lethal. This also will double as her birthday gift from her grandparents who are enabling my descent into crazy spinsterhood by sending birthday cards to my dog. They also send me cards from my dog. Wonder where I got the crazy from . . .
* Come into the office to make up a couple of missed hours from this week.
* Stalk Michael Schaub, who has foolishly given me a clue as to his home address.
* Play with various arts and crafts. I thought I had the book cozy all done, but when I took it off the needles and wrapped it around the book, I discovered that I did indeed have a very nice book cozy. If I wanted to cover the OED. Unabridged.
* Clean my bathroom. Ick.
* Clean out my fridge. Ew.
* Go the gym. I might even exercise while I’m there.
* Maybe go to a movie. I kind of want to see The Dukes of Hazzard and Wedding Crashers. I definitely want to see Must Love Dogs. Oh, and Crash and March of the Penguins and Murderball. Let’s upgrade this to a definitely.
* Study for the GREs. Haven’t been so great about actually doing this.
* Obsess about my electric bill.
* Nap.

*I’d be way more offended by this comment if it wasn’t so true.

Comic Books!

So goading my lurkers into posting through blatant insults didn't work. Maybe sucking up to them will.

Rainy Day Dreams

Can I be this woman?*

"My usual practice is to cycle to the shop for a stately visit in the early afternoon, when I flex my stockmistress muscles over re-order from sales and tut at the trail of undone chores, before settling down to my never diminishing pile of newspaper books pages and literary periodicals. Selling is shopping. Shopping is stocking. Stocking is reading reviews and swallowing them whole."

*Once again, my lack of anything original to post has led me to steal from Bookslut.

Vanity Fair

I'm not the only one in a love/hate relationship with VF.

Except that as punishment for being a subscriber, I have to wait a couple more weeks before my copy shows up.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Do As I Say

I should so be an advice columnist. 'Cause I'm really good at solving other people's problems even if I can't do squat about my own. (Scroll to the third comment)

For the Geeks


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

So Cute!

Awwwwww. It's a baby panda!

I wonder if Rowen would get along with a panda . . . .

That's It

I'm going to live in a yurt. Because Austin Electric is truly evil.

Last month's bill was scary. This month's bill made me cry.

And I don't understand. I keep my thermostat set at about 83 degrees---and occassionally even higher than that. I don't have any windows open. I keep all the blinds closed all day. I don't turn on a light unless I absolutely have to. I avoid using appliances as much as possible, and I unplug most of them when they aren't in use.

So how is my electric bill so friggin' high? I don't get it.

And they are no longer answering their phones. I either get a busy signal or put on hold for eternity (as defined by more than 10 minutes---at which time, I tried to put the phone on speaker and cut myself off).

Monday, August 01, 2005

On the Pile

Books! Books! Books!

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
This is one is already off the pile; I read it in a single Saturday. Reminiscent of Judy Bloom, but the author pulls a few too many of her punches and makes giant leaps in plot. But I did get caught up in it and cried at the end---two major requirements for a young adult novel.

The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell
I keep hearing how great Sarah Vowell is, but I don't listen to NPR (I know, I know. I'll flog myself later.) so I haven't really been exposed to her. But this one was on the paperback book table at the front of the store and the back cover (I know, I know. More flogging for me.) promises Canadian Mounties, Tom Cruise, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Like Life by Lorrie Moore
If you aren't reading Lorrie Moore, then go flog yourself.

Also catching up on past issues of Vanity Fair, Mental Floss, Harper's, and The Atlantic. I was told today that The Atlantic's fiction issue is not included in my subscription (what?!), so I'll be making a stop at the bookstore after work. And I'll try to resist the urge to pick up this.