Friday, March 30, 2007

Age of aquarius

I always wondered why, of all the astrological signs, aquarius had been singled out for this special musical treatment. As a child, I think I had an implicit belief that the "age of aquarius" meant bookstores where you could have your aura read, faceted glass unicorn statues, and usually somewhat smelly, often overly hairy 30 something year old vegetarians flitting about in kaftans or what is now described as "renn fest garb".

I now believe it had something to do with some sort of belief of the super-enlightenment of that generation. Typically arrogant of them, to assume that simply by a span of years around their births they were on a short cut to an enlightened and more highly evolved state of consciousness. I wonder if defaulting on your student loans was part of that?

As this evening turned into this night, I realized my friend Sharon would not be coming over as she had proposed. No call. Just later and later hours in addition to Sharon's typical state of being. Sharon is an aquarius. Not surprisingly, they abound. Yeah yeah, I know, odds are what like 1/12 of us will be aquariuses? Right? Except when I was in 4th grade, I noticed that a very large number of (annoying) girls in my class had birthdays in the late january to mid february range. For years I treated people with birthdays around that time of year with a bit of caution, like they might blow up or dissolve into a pile of goo at any moment and without warning. Eventually I learned to overcome my prejudices and I even dated some. Years later, I married one. And when my marriage broke up, I dated and then co-habitated with one.

I am about to swear them off. Tonight was just such a perfect return to the pile of goo feeling. It sometimes seems Sharon makes plans with me simply to abandon them. Not break, just discard. At some point I will touch base with her, if only because we work in the same lab. If I bring it up, she will have a loose and spotty story about why she wasn't here or couldn't will most likely start with "Oh what WAS I doing that night?" and conclude soon after with "Yeah, so I decided 'fuck it', you know?"

Age of aquarius indeed. Evolved apparently doesn't mean "civilized" or even "domesticated".

Thursday, March 29, 2007

"knocking boots"

"That's always struck me as an odd term for it" my fella A___ said the other night.
Seems he wasn't clear on why it is a word for sex. And so now we have a dilemma. Urban Dictionary offers it's usual variety of user given definitions. The key word being "variety" there. After I demonstrated to A____ what my conception of the origin of the term was (seems I'm a freak as I quite naturally assumed it was the sounds your boots or shoes made when you had sex with them still on), A____ explained (with lively gestures as well) what actions he figured the term might refer to. They included "when someone goes to take off their pants and they step on their shoes to get out of them fast..." which sort of loses something without the visual to go with it, and the action where one person's legs are wrapped around the other person's hips during a penetrative moment. Presumably, the penetrated person's feet would meet on the other side and knock.

But it strikes me that these may be silly. Any other thoughts or definitive definitions, or should I keep browsing through Urban Dictionary?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Good, bad, and ugly

Today's email.

Good: "The Spring fellowship checks are here! Come pick yours up." I never get a fellowship, didn't apply for one, wasn't told I'd have one, and generally assume I just don't get them. I wrote back and confirmed it though. I do indeed have a fellowship check. Whether it is meant for Spring or Summer is anyone's guess (this is how our department works) but hey, free money. So yeeha for me.

Bad: "There is no longer pre-reimbursement for the cost of your airfare." That was from a message about travel funding for grads. There are two or three bad things about this. One is that it makes it sound as if we all get any imbursement at all for travel. That is not true. Only some people get it, and then only some of the time. The parameters are often murky thus if you wish to travel to a conference, you need to pretty much be able to swallow all of the cost yourself lest you end up with a bill you can't afford and which there are no funds to cover even in part. Two is that anyone who will get money for airfare now has to wait until they get back, with a boarding pass, to get reimbursed for the cost. Grads have so little money that this might make the whole thing cost prohibitive even if there is money available. Three is the word "Pre-reimbursement" - which is nearly as annoying as the word "irregardless".

Ugly: My fella A___ inquired about a job as grad coordinator for one of our department's more popular courses. This job would entail running the TA meetings, helping get shit done, pretty much all the nuts and bolts of supporting TAs in a thankless and over-burdened job for a class which has far too much material and product for the time allotted (on the undergrad and grad side of things). My fella wanted to do it because as a TA for this class, he's seen a lot of things he thinks could be improved with a few measures or changes. He's worked as a TA for the class, worked as a GA for a university department which supports the class (it's a writing class, he worked for the writing people developing measures and evaluations of the efficacy of writing training, teaching, and learning in the class). And he's spoken with faculty who administer the course (mostly in name) about the class. So he applied. Makes sense. And he got an email today from the faculty member in charge of the course saying he could not have the position since it was apparent he wanted to "take control" of the entire course.

A lesson in all of these: Don't ask, don't speak, sink into the background as much as possible, and put yourself and everything you have out on a way over extended limb and ye may be rewarded. Make any kind of noise whatsoever or have the audacity to ask for something in advance and ye shall be spanked.

frickin' laser beams

Is it too much to ask for? Apparently not.

Michael Jackson is in discussions about creating a 50-foot robotic replica of himself to roam the Las Vegas desert, according to reports....On the subject of the robot, [Mr. Jackson] continued: "It would be in the desert sands. Laser beams would shoot out of it so it would be the first thing people flying in would see."

While I've found myself much less enchanted with South Park these days (ok, these years), this seems to beg at least a nod on such a show. Actually, it might be too much to parody. I mean, how do you make something this silly that much more silly? Seems like it's pretty close to the upper limit on silly already.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Youtube is where I turn to comfort after many hours of grading.
Remember, 12 discipels won't fit in a Pacer...

Study Links...

Interestingly enough, the last two weeks, we've been doing lessons on topics having direct relevance to this report, Study Links Child Care to Acting Out, in the Boston Globe.

Here are some excerpts from that story, not in order of appearance but in the order which makes the most sense here.

In the study, child care was defined as care by anyone other than the child's mother who was regularly scheduled for at least 10 hours per week.

Wow. That's kind of sexist. Ah well. It's something to look up in the article before I get too riled up. Could be the Globe has a skewed reporting of it. Especially considering the next set of statements.

Youngsters who had quality child care before kindergarten had better vocabulary scores by fifth grade, but the more time they spent in child care, the more likely their sixth grade teachers were to report problem behaviors.
The authors emphasized that the children's behavior was within a normal range and that it would be impossible to go into a classroom, and with no additional information, pick out those who had been in child care.

Ok, so the authors emphasized that the daycared children were impossible to distinguish from the non-daycared children by simply observing them, and that (presumably) even using whatever testing they used (um...teacher reporting?) the behavior of the daycared for children was within the limits of normal behavior.

But the Globe's headline is STUDY LINKS CHILDCARE TO ACTING OUT. Does it sound like they perhaps are overinterpreting this study's findings?

Maybe we should offer a class called "Don't Believe Everything You Read".

Sunday, March 25, 2007

cups of cake (III)

The much debated liners arrived Friday. It seems Max has new snack cups.

Here he is enjoying exactly the same dry food he has in his bowl.

It's so much more special in a cupcake liner.

Friday, March 23, 2007


Years ago:
Towards the end of my marriage, my exhusband Flounder and I went to Vancover for a conference. It was his conference, I was a spouse. Since this was one of those closed-type conferences (sponsored by some auto safety ex had published research on accuracy of accident reports - go Flounder!) I had two options. Poke around Vancouver on my own or go to some of the fun-filled spouse field trips the conference had arranged for us. I'm not great on my own and Vancouver was fucking expensive so I opted for the spouse package.

The fun-filled field trips were not quite fun since I didn't know anyone. To make matters worse, they all seemed to know one another already - happy to see one another and catch up on how Madison and Gregory were doing, which prep schools they had already picked out for the little darlings, and how many horse show medals the kids had won this year. It felt like Stepford Wives on the road. Like some kind of bizzare Lifetime reality travel show - "Plus One" or "Et Ux" would've been the title.

Thankfully, I found a cohort. She was a rather flat affected but quite nice woman who it turns out lived down the block from me back in MI. She was childless, like me, which put her a little out of the "in" crowd" although she did know them from past conferences. Her name was Lynn.

Lynn and I spent most of the "social" time smoking and talking about Ann Arbor. When she made her obligatory rounds with the other wives (she had attended these things before and apparently needed to do some social maintenance with the Uxes) I spent my time alone writing in my journal or taking pictures. It was beautiful there, and while the trips were not at all fun, there were at least things like heartbreakingly beautiful woods and parks to absorb my attention.

One of those beautiful places included some park or something with a huge suspension bridge. It was so narrow and so very long. I stood at one end of it looking across. The children were on it and would occasionally for fun rock the damned thing and make it swing. My chest thudded and the palms of my hands got sweaty just watching it. Each swing and sway made my feet tingle like there was an electrical current running under them.

I honestly can't remember if I even went out on the bridge. I know I thought about it. I know I imagined going out. I know stood at the foot of it and looked down at the rungs immediately near me, the ones still close to firm land and bridge anchors. I know I used the picture of those rungs to build the bridge in my head, to put myself out, considering each how each step would feel. After I adjusted to the idea of walking on it, I let myself forget each step and think just about each moment. "Wow," I thought, "I'm doing it! I must have gotten so far out..." and I turned to look back only to make the shameful realization that I was still in spitting distance of the bridge's entrance. There was a decision to continue, to convince myself I was tough enough to do it, then striding ("probably slinking," I thought) forward with a squared shoulders kind of bravado. Children yelled and shrieked, you know, that happy howl they can make. Under the howls and hoots, I could hear their feet hitting the bridge, see it bucking here and there. And small but heavy feet landed too fearlessly ahead of me while I was close to half way out.

What happened after that I am not sure of. And this is why I am not sure if I imagined all of it or if I did actually walk out.

Here and now:
There is a woman I know and like from the radio station I used to work at (I'm still on staff but only for sporadic projects and production work). Her name is Susan. I have met and chatted with Susan at staff and committee meetings but I interact with her mostly through the station email list.

This morning I read Susan's post of the day while I drank my coffee and decided if I should or shouldn't risk troubling my intestine with anything resembling breakfast. Susan posted about McDonalds trying to get the OED to drop the word "McJob". I wrote back that Mc- is now a productive prefix in the English language. In support of this I mentioned McCollege. There was some back and forth on list which lead to me to a tangential post (rant) about my McGrad Program and what I fear will be a McPhD.

Then I finished my breakfast of coffee and cigarettes and popped off for my last visit with my primary care doctor before she blows out of this wretched state (I'm very unhappy about that) and to briefly see my friend who got her biopsy results back from her mastectomy (I'm aslo unhappy about that). I cried on and off much of the way home. When I got home, I sat on the porch with one of the neighborhood semi-strays, a friendly black cat I've named Sylvester. I fed him and smoked, called A___ to come out and he took me out for lunch. He realized when he got ID'ed at the bar that he forgot his wallet. So we ended up with me taking him out to lunch and trying very hard not to sink into a foul mood. The wallet was part of the mood only in as much as it hurt to see how crestfallen he looked when he said "but...I had wanted to take you out" in response to my overly sharp laugh at him getting ID'ed and my reassurance that I could cover two sandwiches, a beer, and a soda.

I wanted to feel smitten and swept off my feet by even the gesture - which was quite sweet. But in the context of my mood, it was just another nice thing not working out as planned at the end of a damp, dirty, ambivalently bright March day.

We drove home sleepy with the sunlight turning appropriately sunny just in time for dusk. At home, we curled up with our cat and watched some old TV shows on DVD. Then I logged on with intentions to work on Tuesday's lesson plan or do some grading at least. In my email, I found a reply from Susan which I think summed up where I am right now with frighteningly exact accuracy.

It HAS to be frustrating and deadening and scary - like getting to the middle of a long swaying suspension bridge...

It is precisely like that, complete with not really knowing for sure if I am halfway out or still standing at the edge.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

much badness

My brother called me tonight.
"I just had a very emotionally draining dinner with mom" he began.
I assumed it was more of her usual shenaniganery. No. It was this. My mother treated this man. Although I keep my name (and hers) off this blog, since it's a criminal investigation I'm guessing I'm probably not supposed to say more than that about the details on that end which my brother related to me after hearing about it from our mother - so I won't.

However, I am concerned for my brother, who lives with her. Our mother's been through bad stuff in the ER berfore but it used to be if something horrific like this happened, she would deal with it through her counselor Dr. Jim Beam or his associate Mr. Jack Daniels. Our mother quit drinking, wow something like 9 years ago. Sometime between February of 1997 and Spring of 1998. It's hard to pin down because it was after I moved out and since quitting has been what is sometimes called a "dry drunk". She did not do rehab, counseling, or therapy in her divorce from the bottle. Her last patient who rattled her on this level was a very determined suicidal, psychotic young man. That was when she was still drinking. And boy did she drink. And boy did she not get any help to work through dealing with the trauma of the event. And boy did we all pay for that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

one toke over a Douchebag du jour (IV)

It started out as nice news. From The Boston Globe
HARTFORD, Conn. --A move to legalize marijuana for people suffering from certain medical problems cleared its first legislative hurdle Wednesday, giving hope to those who've been pushing for the bill for several years.

I read that and I thought "Isn't that great?" Then I read this part.

Rep. Arthur O'Neill, R-Southbury, opposed the bill on Wednesday. He said the federal government has classified marijuana as a drug with no therapeutic benefit. But O'Neill expressed frustration that authorities have agreed not to prosecute people living in the 11 states where medical marijuana is legal.

"I feel somewhat put upon as a legislator in the state of Connecticut to have to sort of stand up for a system that the federal government itself seems reluctant to stand up for," O'Neill said.

A quick search on State Representative Arthur O'Neill shows he seems to have issues with those who choose to inhale. As a member of the State legislature's Judiciary committee and Finance committee, he played a significant role in the death of a similar bill a couple of years ago. He voted against it, twice. But more importantly, when the bill managed to make it to the house floor for a vote and passed, he sent it off to be tied up in committee - where it died. Guess who voted against it, again, in the Finance committee? Yeah. Representative O'Neill. The moral of that story is if your vote is not enough to count in the majority when the tally is taken of 146 elected state reps, then try try again in a committee where your vote is one of only 39! (Yay!)

In fact, it looks like it went through the Finance committee ok. Seems O'Neill really is just in the minority. But that committee voted on it 5 days before the end of the legislative session. The last action on that bill reads "tabled for the calendar". I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess this means sending it back to committee that close to the end of the legislative session means O'Neill killed the bill.
Anyone who's a big fat politics nerd who knows for sure, please share.

Still...after mulling over Representative O'Neill's comments on this most recent incarnation of the bill, I have to say, while I might disagree with his persistent opposition to the bill, I think I can see it might be possible that one could maybe sort of respect a guy who's somewhat willing to stand up for something someone else makes the pretense of believing in. Especially when you consider who he's standing up against - quite sick people who just won't stop lobbying for even a chance at an improved quality of life. Those blasted, nefarious special interest groups. Lobbyists even!
Sweet jesus.

cups of cake (II)

Just a little before 10:30 last night, my cell phone rang. "Hello?" I said, sheepishly having seen the caller ID. My brother T____ wasted no time with a greeting "Are you near a computer?" he asked.
I was digging through the linen shelves. "Um, no, I mean yeah I am. But I'm getting a measuring tape right now."

See, I had forgotten to measure the muffin tins again. These aren't any old muffin tins. They are the jumbo muffin tins we bought so we could make big cupcakes. We did make big cupcakes and they were great but T___ decided they needed liners. The regular liners turned out to be too small and so nearly a month ago, T____ began his quest for the right sized muffin tin/cupcake baking liner. I have supported this quest but I have been putting off the measuring. Just not something I had time to do when I thought to do it and something I'd forget all about when I had the time.

A few weeks ago, he emailed me this link - an online outlet with all kinds of cupcake liners. I've felt a mild but growing guilt every time I've thought about having not measured the tins.

T____ continued on for a moment before he processes what I said. "You need to be, I just sent you something so check you email...wait, what about a tape measure?"
"The email" I reminded him "You sent it like two days ago saying 'It puts the measuring tape in the muffin does this whenever it is told!'? Well, I'm getting the tape now."
T laughed. "Oh god, it's about time! Ok well you have to go to your email and watch this."

I watched it.

He came back on. "That just doesn't stop being funny. This may be one of those things I need to watch many times in a row."

Throughout the conversation that followed, T____ played me the "ASs-TRO-PHYz-I-CIST" clip at least three more times over the phone. "wait wait, hang on....ASs-TRO-PHYz-I-CIST! bwahahahahah".

The conversation that followed was how to measure the muffin tin. See, this page my brother sent has many more liner sizes than I realized there were cupcake/muffin sizes.
A strong contender was "The circus freak" or "Circus cupcake" - it was least from the picture. It measures 2 1/4" x 1 3/8". One would think then that given the tallness of the cupcake, the 2 1/4 refers to the height.
"No, L___, what? How many? No. That's not it? Wait. No, it can't be" my brother alternately mumbled and decreed into the phone. No one was interrupting him but himself.
"T____ seriously, look at it. Oh except I just realized all of the ones that start with 2 1/4" are the same picture, regardless of the size of the second measurement. Shit....well still, I think the first number must be depth."
"Maybe it's diameter" my brother offered helpfully.
"We're measuring diameter. That's what I've been calling 'width'."
I called A_____ in to confer. After poking around a bit trying to see if he could help deduce the correct correlates for the measurements posted on the baking liner site, he contributed a URL for something called "Optimum muffin-tin sizes and corrected potential energy curves in the MSXα method. Application to the a1 and t2 curves for TiF4."

"as-tro-phys-i-cist" A____ whispered to me when I opened it in one window so as not to interrupt T____ who was still on the phone debating whether the first number consistently refered to the same muffin tin measurement across the many cupcake liner sizes listed on the site.

For the next half hour, T___ and I were stuck chasing down leads only to find more variables and few definitive answers. It reminded me of him and me shopping. We are hell on wheels in retail stores, which is odd since we both worked retail as younger people. Set up loose in a store and we will wreck something - completely unintentionally.

The cupcake discussion swirled on "Did you say ours was 1 7/8" deep by 15/16" wide?"
"The tape measure isn't marked into 16ths. Who the hell would go down to 16ths if there was no mark?"
"I think they are making this shit up."
"That's either like one inch or nearly two, if they got confused about 8/8 being one and double that being two."
"Hey you know what? Maybe it's fucking circumference and radius."
"Don't you love how they suddenly switch from non-common denominator fractions up top to decimals in the bottom set of liners?"

In the end my brother ordered a small set of these ones, which I suspect may be rather small. I told him if they aren't the right size, I'll use them to give the cat treats (the cat is on a restricted diet so "treats" are his regular food presented in novel ways...he truly does respond to this). This was an agreeable option for everyone.

All in all, it was one of the most enjoyable conversations I've had with my brother in a while.

pet food recall lawsuit

Yep. It's that time.
Toronto1 (talk of lawsuit)

I'm not going to debate the pros and cons of lawsuits as a form of regulation since the pain, frustration, and anger these people feel is too immense for me to even risk disparaging it with an academic debate on the topic. I've noticed most of the comments of people in this situation indicate that they felt guilty. Some have said that they couldn't help feeling they had "poisoned" their pets. I'd be just totally devasted myself. I'd feel exactly the same way. And I know I'd come out of it looking for my pound of flesh from what seems to be over-consolidated pet food industry.

If my cat didn't need prescription cat food, I'd be looking into making my own cat food at home. There are indeed sites out there with recipes for "homemade" dog and cat food. I'm not posting links because I am not in a position to evaluate the nutritional value of those recipes myself. Most of us aren't - which is why I strongly recommend, if you are considering homemade pet food as an option, you talk very explicitly about it with your vet before hand to ensure such a diet will provide the right amounts and kinds of nutrients your pet needs.

Monday, March 19, 2007

what to do about pet food?

I got a comment from someone looking for answers about what people should do if they have food at home that is part of the recall on pet food. Read on for a small selection of items I found in my search (search in NEWS in Google or Yahoo and use terms "pet food recall" + compensation; refund; and/or "veternary care")

But first...a request from me to you. Please make sure the store you shop at has clearly posted and comprehensive information on the recall. Names of brands should be up in several areas, but especially around the pet food. Phone numbers (FDA, Menu Foods) and website info should be posted as well. There are some people who live in the shallower and slower parts of the information stream, and those folks are more likely to see the info up at their local store than anywhere else. If this info isn't up where you shop, please take a moment and ask that they post it.

What to do (search results)
Illinois Fox 43:
PETCO is offering a full, no hassle refund on any of the products listed in the recall.
Tuite [spokesperson for Menu Foods] added that Menu Foods would compensate owners of pets that died, although she declined to say what the compensation would be. Pet owners who want to make a claim must mail documentation of their use of the affected products to the address on the company's Web site, she said.

Pet Dr. Marty Becker - what to do if you have recalled food (pdf) Q&A:
Q: What should I do if I have some of this pet food in my cupboard?
A: The FDA says stop feeding it to your pet. Many of the major store chains are also granting refunds for returned food.

(also from the same article)
Menu Foods has a consumer hot line at 1-866-463-6738 and 1-866-895-2708. The FDA is asking those with sick or dead pets to call FDA state complaint coordinators. A list of contacts for such coordinators is available at

who's on?

My favorite search recent search term: "My ex got married too soon"
I hear ya. I really do.

Since so many pet people are passing through the blog at the moment, I thought I'd put up some pictures of pets near and dear to me.

This is Smokey, A____'s cat. Smokey's doing that low walk where he can flip over and roll around at any moment. It's the the super-loving-kitty approach.

Max does drag. He also enjoys being combed, especially around the face. I should've named him Zsa zsa.

Rolling Flo. I pet sit for Flo sometimes. She's very sweet but I'm a little shy with her since her owners let her out and I've found dog ticks on her. Where there are dog ticks, I reason, there may be deer ticks.

My sister's cat Rose. This is Rosie enjoying some turkey. Rose is normally rather shy about doing things like standing up for me, but a little sliced turkey is a great motivator.

Max on my scanner. No cats or humans were harmed in the making of this image.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

pet food (II) - Stop & Shop

Yesterday I posted about the pet food recall. There are two more brands who voluntarily added their food to the list so be sure to check it out.

If you're looking for info about the recalled brands, here's the FDA site and here's the direct link to the Menu Foods website where you can access lists of recalled Dog Food and Cat Food brands.

If your pet is sick with symptoms of renal failure ( or "RF", acute RF in cats, RF in dogs and cats), contact your local vet immediately. If your vet thinks your pet's symptoms are food related, you can report it to the FDA. You can find the local FDA contact to do this through here.

Below is a post which is essentially musings about levels of action and personal responsibility. How much do you feel, how much do you take. Turns out for me the answer is "lots", at least about some stuff.

Yesterday after reading the news about the pet food recall and checking the list to make sure my cat's food isn't on it (thankfully so far it hasn't shown up), I went grocery shopping at the local Stop & Shop supermarket.

While I was there, I swung by the pet food aisle to look for kitty litter sales (big cat = big cat box). As I heaved my cart back down the aisle towards diary, I thought I noticed a guy pushing a cart with one of the brands of cat food which had been on the list. I went back and scanned the shelves. Yep, Iams was there. At the time I wasn't certain it was on the list but I thought it was (turns out it is) .

As I looked over the shelves of food, I tried to remember other names off the list but they kind of blend in together when you're trying to recall something you didn't explicitly study while you're hungry, almost done grocery shopping, and your brain checked out back at Chips and Soda.

I reasoned with myself, trying to talk me down from where I could tell I was going. I stood near the half and half and thought.
Maybe they took off the ones which were recalled and left the others. So there are some Iams out but not the bad Iams out.
Maybe I don't remember the list that well.
People do their jobs and they'd know which ones to pull. Who am I to....
Ah fuck it. I won't be comfortable until I satisfy my, well, whatever this is.

I headed off for the customer service desk.

It's not that I assume all people can be fucking morons. It's that I know all people can be fucking morons, sometimes about really important stuff even. That knowledge pretty well drowns out any faith that people's desire to (want to be perceived as trying to) do the right thing will be sufficient all the time. We all fuck up. You work in a hospital for 6+ years and you'll discover quickly that we all fuck up. This is not cynnical or pessimistic dogma. This is just life.

Thus, when I see evidence of a potential and likely fuck up in an area that is near and dear to me, I sort of can't live with myself until I satisfy my need to be assured that there is no impending fuck up. I want there to be no impending fuck up. Honest I do.

Thus, concerned by the presence of certain brands I vaguely recalled being on the list, disquieted by my private neuroses, and compelled my abiding belief in human falibility, I went to the customer service desk. I politely asked the woman about the recall and if she knew whether they'd pulled all the recalled lots or all the recalled brands because I thought I saw some brands of cat food on the shelf and in a customer's cart which had been on the recall list.

She had no clue what I was talking about.

A phone call to the manager later, it became clear at neither of them really had any idea about this. "She says she has some stuff that was recalled but they pulled it off the shelf last night..." the customer service clerk narrated to me with her hand cupped over the phone as the manager still spoke on the other end. She added "If there IS anything that hasn't been pulled or that we missed but it's part of the recall, it won't scan. It'll show up as 'not available'."

Mostly because I felt there wasn't much else to do short of starting to get upset all OCD style and partly because I wanted to believe them (because I sometimes yearn for the kind of conscience that would more easily allow me to act like a lazy "not my problem" sack without hating myself, and because I am aware my behavior in this kind of situation is or borders on socially inappropriate, and because I want to have more faith in people) I left. On the way home, whenever I thought about the pet food thing, I would replay for myself the customer service woman's reassurance and tell myself things like "See, just you getting all worked up. It's taken care of. You were acting silly really. From a good place, but silly."

When I got home two things happened. A___ fed the cat and I read the comment to my last post.

I thought about how the food we were feeding the cat that evening was bought weeks ago. It's typical you buy your pet food in advance. I dawned on me the recall wasn't just about what was at the store, it was also about what pet food was on people's shelves that might be part of the recall. And I started to wonder why the stores which sell brands which were part of the recall didn't put up info alerting customers. Or specifically, why the store I was in hadn't. It just seems like the right thing to do.

And so...yep. I called Stop and Shop. Talked to the same customer service woman again, who promptly connected me to the same manager she had spoken to earlier. The manager sounded a bit peeved. Not a shock. I was embarrased to keep bugging her but I thought about what if it was my cat who was about to chow down some bad food? I thought about a lot of stuff both for and against calling but I won't list it all here since it seems it's likely the usual garden variety OCD-driven-conscience train of thought.

The manager said "I checked. We had a recall. It's for dog food, not cat."
"Oh no, no no, it's definitely ca-" I began. She cut me off.
"Yeah well the one I got here is for dog food only," she continued, telling me that they pulled them last night, that the items wouldn't scan if there were any out, etc.
"Look" I persisted. I didnt' want to raise my voice so I just kept trying to throw discourse demanding words between her phrases ("look...", "listen...", "but (+pronoun)", "ok-but-listen".

Finally I got a break. "Alright but look....It's on the news. I'm looking at it on my screen right now. It's a huge recall - cat and dog food, and you guys have some of the brands up on your shelves. Can't you at least put up a sign with the number to call?"
No. Just dog food, she told me. Not her recall, she insisted.
Could you put up a sign, I started again.
We pulled the affected dog food, she told me.

All in all, it was a pretty quick call and I managed not to lose my temper. It turns out the knowledge that we all fuck up doesn't mean I hate people or see them in an overly negative light just on account of that. As a younger woman, I didn't separate these two things. I realize now I have two independent reactions to foolishness. What feeds the misanthropic coals which can sort of rush up into a raging fire rather quickly when I am short on resources like patience is when people adhere to ignorance, cling to foolishness, and in short, would rather maintain sometimes shitty, deeply selfish attitudes rather than take one small moment to examine their beliefs or practices, even the more superficial and immediate ones, even the ones which they are supposed to be examining - you know? That annoys me a lot. (golly, I sound nutty).
But hey, I'm getting better at not letting all that annoyance out at once. Good for me.

So not long after it began, the call wrapped up with reiteration, clear but tempered annoyance (mutual), and me finally giving up and hanging up.

I think I made it a whole hour or so before calling back....

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pet food recall!

Sorry, not to be an alarmist but really, eeek.

The company issuing the recall "....makes pet food for 17 of the top 20 North American retailers. It is also a contract manufacturer for the top branded pet food companies, including Procter & Gamble Co."

Below is a list of cat and dog food brands affected by the recall. For more info go here or call 1-866-895-2708

Cat food

Dog food:
  1. Americas Choice, Preferred Pets
  2. Authority
  3. Award
  4. Best Choice
  5. Big Bet
  6. Big Red
  7. Bloom
  8. Bruiser
  9. Cadillac
  10. Companion
  11. Demoulas Market Basket
  12. Eukanuba
  13. Food Lion
  14. Giant Companion
  15. Great Choice
  16. Hannaford
  17. Hill Country Fare
  18. Hy-Vee
  19. Iams
  20. Key Food
  21. Laura Lynn
  22. Loving Meals
  23. Meijers Main Choice
  24. Mixables
  25. Nutriplan
  26. Nutro Max
  27. Nutro Natural Choice
  28. Nutro
  29. Ol'Roy Canada
  30. Ol'Roy US
  31. Paws
  32. Pet Essentials
  33. Pet Pride - Good n Meaty
  34. Presidents Choice
  35. Price Chopper
  36. Priority
  37. Publix
  38. Roche Bros
  39. Save-A-Lot
  40. Schnucks
  41. Shep Dog
  42. Springsfield Prize
  43. Sprout
  44. Stater Bros
  45. Total Pet, My True Friend
  46. Western Family
  47. White Rose
  48. Winn Dixie
  49. Your Pet

Updated 3/18/07
News excerpt:
Menu Foods, the Ontario, Canada-based company that produced the pet food, said Saturday it was recalling dog food sold throughout North America under 48 brands and cat food sold under 40 brands including Iams, Nutro and Eukanuba. The food was distributed by major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Kroger and Safeway.

An unknown number of cats and dogs had suffered kidney failure and about 10 died after eating the affected pet food, the company said.

Two other companies — Nestle Purina PetCare Co. and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. — said Saturday that as a precaution they were voluntarily recalling some products made by Menu Foods.

Irish prayer/curse

Happy St. Patrick's Day

May those who love us love us.
And those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So we'll know them by their limping.

Friday, March 16, 2007

my problem is their problem

I just got bitched out for not making a meeting for TAs in my department. I missed it because I was sick and the meeting before had been a complete waste of time. It went something like "hey gang. we were gonna meet last week but it snowed out. so uh, well, there's really not much to talk about this week...sorry!" My guts were hell for days after. It's funny sometimes to think of someone needing to keep running to the bathroom, but when you're rapidly losing weight, you're exhausted all the time, and your skin is starting to itch and tingle because you are so fucking vitamin deficient, it just loses all of its humor.

The good news is I got a new drug which is helping. I am SO thankful for that. You know who realized the drug works for both migraine and the intestinal stuff? My neurologist? No. My GI doctor? No. My primary care physician? Nope. Me. I found it, I took the info to my pcp, and she said "oh yeah, that's a great idea." I should send them all bills for my time, huh?

The bad news is I've about had it. You don't see how rotten people are until you see them either in a rotten situation themselves or responding to someone else's. I think more the latter than the former because in the latter they can afford to act like shits and be insensitively uninvolved. And why not? It's not their problem. It's mine.

That's going to change. My new policy is my problem IS their problem. I contacted the office for students with disabilities on my campus to ask about starting the process of registering. I was advised not to seek help from that office a few years back by the (then) division head because she said it was easier and better if we negotiated things within the department. Maybe it would've been under her. At the time, I hoped it would be. I also hoped I'd have a unified diagnosis and treatment plan by now. It hasn't, and I don't. So fuck it. I've had it. I'm going to the people who are supposed to make sure that shit like this* doesn't happen.

* this is from my email to the disability service people.
I have received negative evaluations of my progress for two years now, even though for at least the first one I was on track academically. I have experienced negative responses from faculty members as a result of my tendency to self and other advocate, which advocacy is often informed by my own non-academic responsibilities as a result of my health circusmstances. I have been publicly "teased" by faculty who know I have medical problems for the personal accomodations I make for myself (e.g. standing through a talk due to hip pain on sitting, using a rolling bag for my laptop since I can no longer carry more than a few pounds). Moreover, I feel I have been pressured to disclose details of private medical information both within my department and to outside university offices like financial aid without any formal assurance of the privacy of this information or who will have access to it (and often with little effective accomodation, consideration, or assistance).

Regarding the faculty, I do not believe they take my condition seriously and therefore they do not believe what they are doing constitutes any sort of harassment. Since I have not officially registered or sought registration as having a disability due to the limitations my health place on me, their behavior does not seem to constitute anything actionable (although I certainly believe it is rude, insensitive, and unprofessional at times). I am not contacting the disabilities office to complain or for information on a complaint. I simply wish to get some help determining if my condition counts as something for which I can formally register as a student with a disability for and be given support and resources which may help to relieve some of the increased stress this situation is creating.

Apology for him...

...justice for her.

Elizabeth Seccuro was raped as a 17 year old freshman at University of Virginia in 1984. In 2005, she received a letter of apology from her attacker, William Beebe. Beebe sent it as part of step nine in his AA recovery. According to the AA website, step nine is where the individual strives to make "direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."

After a series of communications prompted by Beebe's letter, Seccuro decided to seek prosecution of Beebe. I applaud her decision.

The Hartford Courant reports that during the trial, "Prosecutor Claude Worrell described Beebe's decision to apologize as selfish, and said it traumatized Seccuro all over again. Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana responded that it was "sad and tragic" that Beebe's apology was depicted that way, and said Seccuro made a choice to respond to his letter."

The same article quotes Ms. Seccuro as saying "To me, this was never about step nine...Alcohol doesn't rape people. People rape people."

Amends pl.n. (used with a sing. or pl. verb)

Recompense for grievance or injury. See Synonyms at reparation.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Douchebag du jour (III)

Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, asks:
What if you could know that your unborn baby boy is likely to be sexually attracted to other boys? Beyond that, what if hormonal treatments could change the baby's orientation to heterosexual? Would you do it? Some scientists believe that such developments are just around the corner.

Later, Dr. Mohler states that
"Christians who are committed to think in genuinely Christian terms should think carefully about..." several points which include the following.
"If a biological basis [for homosexuality] is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use as we should unapologetically support the use of any appropriate means to avoid sexual temptation and the inevitable effects of sin."

This bothered some people and launched the douchebag into the fully public eye, you know as opposed to the one which is veiled by over-religosity. And I'm perpetuating his publicity. Bad me.

In defending his statements - mostly I think to the theocratic right who oppose any kind of genetic anything - Mohler was quoted as saying
"But I wrote the article intending to start a conversation, and I think I've been successful at that."

This reminded me a whole lot of some defensive statements from another douchebag, Larry Summers, now former president of Harvard University. Summers' justification for his remarks that someone oughta look into whether babymakin' biology is the real reason women don't get hired, promoted, or valued in math, science and engineering jobs was "I was trying to provoke discussion..."

Is it me or is "trying to provoke discussion"/"get you to think about it"/"start conversation"/etc. becoming a sort of catch all non-apology for being caught red handed acting like a douchebag? It reminds me of when I was much younger, under 20, and the boys I knew would say something offensive or which they felt was potentially embarrassing ("uh...well...I was just thinking...uh...would you let me take pictures of you like that?") and then, if the response was anything other than a resounding "sure baby" or a reassuring giggle, whine back "Jeez, it was only a JOKE!"

ass kicking

We have a unicorn in my lab. And as everyone knows, unicorns kick ass. Wait, apparently not everyone knows that.

A and I got the unicorn a while ago from a toy store in a strip mall near campus. It's a unicorn on a stick, like the old fashioned, perplexing child's toy "horse on a stick" (seems it's called a "stick horse" because "horse stick" could sound bad).

Our unicorn stick has sound effects. This is what made A and I buy it. I mean, we were playing with it anyhow, giggling like idiots in the store. When we realized that pressing the unicorn's ear results in a few moments of galloping noises which end in a series of whinnies, we had to get it.

And so now we have a unicorn. We brought it to school because it is often a toxic place and having a unicorn to look at and play with sometimes is helpful. We have many nice happy memories of people on the unicorn either in celebration or for cheering up. Today, it was for cheering up. I've been trying to fight off a first class bad mood all week.

I went over to the box where the unicorn stands. Justin, named after the unicorn in the Scrubs episode since it seems that the makers of that show understand the usefulness of having a comfort unicorn one can go to when one needs to. I went over and took Justin for a short spin. The other grads cheered us on, happy for the unicorn moment. The undergrad, however, was not impressed.

This is the undergrad who sits at the desk my officemates and I had set aside for a fellow grad student. The fellow grad student had transfered to our advisor but doesn't personally use the space we went out of our way (way out of) to make for him in our advisor's lab because he doesn't want to offend his former advisor by leaving the one remaining student his former advisor has in a lab by herself. It's politics and it's about sparing the professor's "feelings" (this professor has the range of feelings of a very small child - "cranky" and "full") at the cost of the feelings of us, the grads who moved all this shit around because we were told "hey guys, ____ is coming to the lab so let's make some space for him!"

This is the undergrad who works for the politically absent fellow grad student, collecting his data for him, and so this is the undergrad who sits at the desk we set up for our fellow grad in our office, who ignores her subjects when they show up, ignores them in that sort of bored receptionist ignoring way. This is the undergrad who, when she finally does recognize their presence, advises the subjects she is running for our politically absent fellow grad student to throw their shit "where ever" in our office without regard for doorways, walkways, or other people's space in this small area. This is the undergrad who quite often seems to be very put upon by things like us wanting to use our lab space for data collection on a day when she usually runs for our politically absent fellow grad student, by our coming and going through our office, by our eating lunch in our office, and by our sometimes talking with each other or meeting with our students in our office.

In my book, everyone can be put upon for no apparent reason at all. It's life, it's hard, you feel like huffing and puffing sometimes. I understand, truly. But the frequency of this undergrad's put uponness over things being done by people who are much more graciously putting up with the not terribly convenient circumstance of her working from our office (at best an irksome reminder of her boss's choice to be absent) is far too high, even for me.

This is the undergrad who was annoyed that I was playing with my unicorn, in my office.

"Ummmm, why do you have a unicorn in your office?" she asked in those tones which say "I'm saying 'why do you have a unicorn' but really, what I mean is 'that is like so stupid, it's totally gay. My gohhd, if I were getting my PhD, I wouldn't waste my time riding a unicorn around an office that has rainbow cut outs on the walls (gay!). I'd wear glasses and put my hair in a bun and I'd look very smart while I squinted at computer screens and pressed a pencil to my lip nearly chewing it but not quite. My office key and flash drive would be on a color coordinated cord around my neck, and I might also carry a clipboard, at least when I am running subjects...which is so totally beneath me' Now please stop fooling around for 5 minutes. I know it's your office and you're sharing your space with me simply out of misguided respect and concern for your peer who I am doing data collection for, but I simply must get back to squinting over and highlighting every second line of my reading for my Dysfunctional Personalities Types class."

I haven't touched the unicorn all semester, hell, I think not since I finished my first time teaching as an instructor last semester. It's not like we're always fucking off in there. Usually it's largely headphones and laptops. But now, I'm thinking of riding that unicorn every day she's in there. It's my office. I can ride a unicorn in it if I want to.

Here be treasure!

Oh look what I just found via Kate's comment. It's something new to make me laugh.
I'm potent, Now

Their mission statement reads: Objectifying human beings is wrong. But anthropomorphizing objects is just dandy.

I think today and tomorrow, and possibly Friday, need to be about laughing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

shitty day

Today was like yesterday but amped up. In short, it kinda sucked. Lab bullshit, interpersonal fuckery, and petulant faculty are some of the things that have kept me stressed. I've about had it with this shit. Oh and my doctor is leaving to practice in MA. I don't blame her, I'd flee this state too if I had somewhere to flee to. But it still sucks I have to find a new primary care physician. Sucks a whole lot.

One of the few things that keeps me here in my PhD program (not necessary keeps me going, but here at least) is that I have little confidence in the following:
Whether life/work would be better any place else
Whether I have the energy and physical ability to make a new start at a new job which would be anything more secure, rewarding, flexible, and higher paying than convenience store clerking (no offense to folks who work in those settings that kind of job barely makes ends meet, I could never work the hours I'd need to even squeak by, and I'd have a whole lot of useless education debt to pay off)

Right now, my head hurts and I hate a whole lot of people. Mostly I am disgusted with the petulant faculty. They should behave at least a little better since they have the advantages and luxuries of age (not too old, not too young, right smack in the middle), health, life and career experience, a fatter paycheck, some minimal degree of respect, and greater job security than the other people who have been acting like children today. But I cut slack for circumstances, and I realize that with my division going down fast, the other grads are in the same fithy waterlogged boat I'm in, whether they consciously realize it or not.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nap day

Among the many (many) things that make sense but we don't as a culture condone is this one. Nap Day. What a great idea. I didn't even know about it and I was participating today during the talk. That makes me feel all happy inside.

I'm still waiting for a chance to promote my suggestion for a celebration with presents like a wedding but for grown up people who aren't married. I'm feel quite certain that we as a society need this, and almost as certain that the best chance of it catching on is if it were promoted by a commercial entity. I don't have a snappy name for it but I think I've blogged about it before so I might have proposed a name then - though obviously not anything snappy or I guess I'd rememgber it.

Any suggestions? Something to cover "hey you've been living on your own for a while and you aren't married but you sure could use some home stuff" day. It'd be on a person's 29th birthday, maybe 30th although that has its own quasi rituals of hazing associated with it, especially for single 30s. To try to usurp that might be difficult. Hence my proposal for 29, but it's flexible. Really.
It's one of those days. I find I am writing and speaking as if I were being cross examined. Wtf. Guess I need another nap.


It was dark when my cat started crying this morning. Today is the first day back after break and last night I didn't sleep well.

At noon, there is a talk by a group of students I do not like. I don't like two of them on personal account, and the entire lot of them because I feel they act like trusting, simple children (even though two at least are more than old enough to know better). What they have is a shocking willingness to take shit. Or more appropriately stated, to eat shit and smile about it. Wanting to do that is repugnant to me (hence the wonderfulness of that saying I think) but wanting and pushing others to do it too....well that's where the person directed dislike comes in. Dare I say "loathing"?

When I have slept so unwell as to have managed to wake up in the congressionally mandated predawn hours of today, yes, I think I do dare say it.

Oh they better hope the talk is too boring for me to stay awake and alert through.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

how does it feel?

So how does it feel to find out your ex is getting married? How does it feel to find out another ex is getting married? From my experience as both the ex getting married and the one whose ex got married, it's sort of hard to put your finger on it. For me, it's a mixed bag of feelings that would sound like "err", "umm", and "eeeesh" if I were pressed to vocalize through them.

I heard about the most recent on Friday. At the time I didn't register the impact but since it's been skittering around in my mind all weekend, I'm realizing perhaps that immediate self assessment was premature. I think it is a good thing I have a shrink's appointment on Monday.

So let's count em up. I count three. Sure, there've been other guys I've dated who got married by now. Plenty of them. My first time guy, Army Bob, married a woman with the same name as me (and I married a Bob, Dr. Bob - one of life's wee tiny jokes). But Army Bob and I dated for less than a year and were totally out of touch as soon as it was over since I took off for college and he took off for the bottom of a bottle and signed up for the Army soon after. We had a few very minor interactions in the years after we broke up, and I only found out he was married many years later when we emailed briefly during his divorce before he went back to jumping out of helicopters over post 9/11 Afghanistan.

There was A.B., but that was an "on again off again" multi-state kind of thing, with the sum of "on" times adding up to a grand total of about 4 months, with 2 of them long distance. I didn't leave that relationship with any delusions that he had ever felt about me as I had felt about him. His marriage and my hearing of it was years and years and years after anything romantic between us ended, with plenty of time in there for any remaining hurt to have formed a nicely smooth scar.

Of the ones I know were significant on both sides, involved some objective signs of commitment, and which spanned more than 18 months, that leaves three.
Crazy, Flounder, and Tom.

Crazy psycho ex boyfriend (F_____) married my apparently equally crazy ex best friend (L_____). Both were significant relationships for me. I knew L______ from about 7th grade, was friends with her from 8th, and was best friends with her from at least 10th grade until my sophomore year in college. I met F_____ the summer after I graduated high school and he was my longest lasting relationship to that point. Also the most fucked up one ever. It lasted 2 years and some months, but taught me a lot about myself. Like that even at the age of 19 during one of the darkest periods of my life, I had the strength and clarity of mind and heart to ditch someone who was hot, talented, charismatic, and incredibly abusive. F and L hooked up about 6 months after F and I broke up and they got married just this past Fall.

Ex hubby Flounder got married within a month of our divorce being final. That was an "ummm", especially when I heard he had given her an engagement ring the month I moved out of our house.

And now Tom. We lived together for over five years, broke up and he had a new lady within a month (she's been referred to in this here blog before as "ass like an ibook" or "ibook" for short) Tom was seen on my campus flashing around ibook's picture and his "promise ring" a very short time later. They are getting married this summer, I was recently told, after something like a 2 year relationship, most of which it seems they were engaged (or promised) for.

I realize the timeline, both egocentrically for me and internal to their relationships, is a nontrivial part of my feelings about my exes getting married. It's the "right after we broke up" thing in part. But it's also the "you've only known her how long?" thing also.

Take Crazy F and my exBestfriend L. They got together way too soon after I dumped Crazy. I lost L as a friend because I couldn't live with knowing what horrible judgement she had. Crazy was abusive and she knew it. But they racked up about 15 years of courtship, breakups, reconciliations, and staged cohabitation before they tied the knot. I have to say, out of the three of the exes, theirs seems like the most adult timeline for marriage. I suspect it finally dawned on them that no one but them would be willing to put up with their respective whole lot of crazy.

As for the other two, I can only say eeeesh. I don't wish them ill, but I do find myself wondering what the fuck. Admittedly in both breakups, I had a new beau in short order. In both situations, I was totally smitten with my new fella. And I'm not 100% against marriage for myself or others, nor am I 100% convinced I'll never do it again. But as the saying goes, once bitten twice shy. I've been bitten twice, so I get legit claim to some serious shyness. When I reflect on the impact of those endings along with my upbringing, I sometimes think it warrants applause that I haven't developed an overt "philo-phobia".

Which brings me to the "errr" part. I question whether what I tell myself is a not unhealthy dose of hesitancy and skepticism is in fact an indication that I am poised on the cusp of embittered and jaded distance.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Peanut butter Cap’n Crunch

October 2000

Peanut butter cap’n crunch sounds come from the couch as we sit
filling this small room
so small, probably you’d think
it would be filled easily
but you try filling a room.
It's not all that easy.

She says “how was work?”
Not “I feel lonely”
or “do you believe in an after life?”
or “I wish I still liked kissing you”
or “stop chewing so loud”

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What I'm reading

My little brother sent me a link yesterday (it was part of the Coulter buzz). It's a blog called Joe.My.God.

Liking it so far....

Douchebag du jour (II)

It's that blitheringest of douchebags again, Miss Ann Coulter - coincidentally her recent exposure is tied to presidental hopeful and a past douchebag du jour, Mr. Romney.

Miss Coulter's recent "faggot" remark (which is costing her a bit) wasn't made in a campus auditorium concert sponsored by a handful of over-entitled college republicans who bring in hateful acts like Coulter (or my favorite, The Warrior) to validate their pseudointellectual rebellion against a system that they feel is run in a way that keeps them down (otherwise they each would have gotten scholarships, admission to ivy league universities, and maybe a stipend just for being an oppressed white).

Miss Coulter made her comment as part of her act at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Other speakers at CPAC included notable republicans Vice President Dick Cheney and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani (as if I didn't have enough reason already to think that man was odious).

In a recent TV interview (transcript here and here) about reaction to her act and her "faggot" comment, Miss Coulter advised young conservatives to follow her lead, saying "...I think the lesson young right-wingers ought to draw from this is it's really not that scary to attack liberals."

She also defended her use of the word "faggot" saying she used it correctly and that "It isn't offensive to gays. It has nothing to do with gays. It's a schoolyard taunt, meaning wuss. And unless you're telling me that John Edwards is gay, it was not applied to a gay person."

There's nothing inoffensive about Coulter using "faggot". Coulter does not self identify as or with the people the word has long been used to deprecate and villify. Coulter is not a symbol or result of an oppressive violently intolerant culture. She's a cause. It's just a joke, she says.

The comments of Miss Coulter, my douchebag du jour, reminded me of one of my favorite Dead Kennedys' tracks.

"Night Of The Living Rednecks" by the dead kennedys

....Ray's guitar broke. No, we won't play Rawhide, won't play anything.
We'll play the theme from the Dinah Shore show.
Who wants to be Dinah Shore? Who's alter-ego is Dinah Shore?
Oh, his fists didn't go up so quickly this time. Yawn...yawn..yawn.
Put those headphones on, it's be-bop time.

I want to tell you a story about the last time I was in Portland.
The night before we played at the Long Goodbye.
I was walking on the street about 10:30 at night.
A lot of people go to bed around here at 10:30 at night.

And well, I was walking along when suddenly these jocks in this
bright blue pickup drove up. It had KC lights, tractor tires,
everything but the CB. It was a life-size Hot Wheels car for some dumb rich kid,
right. Well, they drove up to me
and they yelled what dumb rich kids usually yell, "Hey, faggot,"
and showered me with some water.

So, I stood there thinking, what a bunch of fuckheads and picked up a rock.
Now, I waited, walked down about a block to
where the Kentucky Fried Chicken is, on Burnside,
and sure enough they drove around again.
They said, "Hey, faggot, where's the nearest McDonald's?" I said,
"I don't know" and they squirted me again.

So I threw the rock
and put a nice-size dent in their giant Hot Wheels car.
They screached to a halt in the parking lot of some department store,
who's name I don't remember, it's up the street from Fred Meyer,
and they got out their clubs and they ran after me, yelling,
"We're gonna kill you, you god damn faggot, we're gonna kill you,
you motherfucker."

So I got in a phonebooth by the Kentucky Fried Chicken on Burnside,
held my legs straight out like this so they couldn't open the door
to the phonebooth. So they began charging the phonebooth,
beating on it with their club, yelling,
"We're gonna kill you, you motherfucker, we're gonna kill you,
you god damn faggot." I just looked at them.

So, there was a crowd gathering by this time
and these kids were standing nearby and they said,
"Oh, look at him, he's insane." I thought, ah-hah, here's my way out.
I yelled at them, "Take me to a mental hospital right away.
I wanna be be put away.
Please put me away, c'mon, call the cops and put me away.
Please put me away now."

They said, "Alright, faggot, we're calling the police." So they called the police.
The cop comes out and I go, ah, my savior, I'm away from these jocks.
He opens up the door, "Get out of there, you,"
throws me up against the car, frisks me, shoves me in the back.
Then he goes over to the jocks, "Now what happened here?
It looks like we're going have to take him to jail
but we got to have the full story first"

So the jocks, who had an ace in the hole, ace in the hole
Take down on the bass, a little bit down on the bass. Yeah,
ace in the hole, and they go, "Well, goddammit,
the motherfucker put a dent in my truck, a $5000 truck, right,
so I got my club, I went out and I wanted to kill him.
I want to kill him. Let me kill him, goddammit.
Let me kill him."

So the cop made them go home, and he drove me home,
and he confiscated their club and my rock as further evidence.
And I thought, so this is Oregon, huh? Tolerent Oregon?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

where did you come from?

A while ago I signed up for this thing called "site meter". I wanted to know if anyone other than the usual suspsects is hitting this blog. Surprisingly the answer is yes. Hello lurkers!

No, I'm not posting the counter since this was for my info, to satisfy a personal curiosity and to check things like if my parents' town shows up associated with an IP address. So far no.

Anyhow, one of the features you get, if someone came here through a search, is what the search terms were. Here's the best yet: overly sensitive to female smell

No quotes in that search*, hence we have many words which, in isolation or various combinations, I'm sure occur on my blog with quite a high frequency.

For some reason, this made me think of the man test that is going around on email. It's a marketing gimmick so I hesistate to put the link up but, well, fuck it. It's not only offensive and funny (funny because I'm 70% manly it seems) but offers an interesting glimpse at the masculine identity stereotypes which are as stupid, damaging, and limiting as the female stereotypes I am more familiar with dissecting.

Go test yourself on "manly" knowledge and shit here if you must. But if you do, post your manliness score in my comments section because I'm dying to know who among you is more butch than me.

*A hint for doing your searches (I thought everyone knew this but I guess not). Type quotes around words you are searching for as phrases. E.g., "overly sensitive to female smell" and if that is too exclusive, try simply "overly sensitive" "female smell"

Monday, March 05, 2007

hippie import clothing store (I)

The hippie import clothing store was located not far from the state street theater, quite close to what I came to think of the multidimensional used book store (it had more rooms than it seemed it should or, I believe, could have had). The hippie import clothing store was right next door to to the dance club which according to my brother's recollection is alternately either named "The Mango" or "Tangerine".

One afternoon, my co-workers at the hippie import clothing store told me Leaf would be working with us that week.

"I hate it when Leaf is here," Sam said. "She sits on her ass. She doesn't DO anything."
"Wait, her name is [leef]? Is that 'L-e-i-f' like viking?" I asked.
"No, no...'" said Eva who was standing under the extremely large mermaid, picking through the cherry vanilla incense. Eva said "It's Leaf like tree," and held out her aromatic hands, fingers stretched into branches which she wiggled stiffly for emphasis.
"They named their kid 'Leaf' like tree? That's fucking horrible."

While we spoke of Leaf's arrival, I contemplated the girl's situation. Sure, she might suck to work with as much as the other employees seemed to think she did. And she might even be a rotten person. But how much of this could really be laid only at her feet? I mean, if ever there was a situation of mom and dad setting the kid up for shit, this was it. By this point, I'd been working at Leaf's parents' store for over a month. I'd heard and personally witnessed not good things about our employers, store owners N____ and B____. But finding out they had burdened their child with the name Leaf was up there for worst things I knew about them yet.

Maybe it's because I had grown up where I did - which very much wasn't here - that I thought giving your child a name like Leaf was a signal at least to the sensitive adults of the world that you were selfish to the point of cruelty. But maybe here it was ok, or at least less bad, to name your child something like that.

Here was Ann Arbor MI in 1996. We were downtown but away from the extremely undergraddy part. "The City" as people from the pokey towns around it called it. And why not? If they didn't come in for the congested football game days, they came during other super packed times like the annual art fair or hashbash. To them, I'm sure it looked like a city.

Here was where you were more likely to get hit by a spandex and hemp wearing bicyclist whizzing down the sidewalk than actual motor vehicle traffic since most of the time, the cars were caught in a web of perversely arranged oneway streets and power-pedestrians.

Here, there was a working class but it wasn't much like the working class culture where I grew up. Here there seemed to be a very large number of 18-25 year old refugees from the boring MI suburbs who were pissing off their parents simply by not being in college, simply by working a working class job for a working class wage, growing pot in the basement of a house shared with 4 to 7 other young people, and spending most evenings smoking happily on porches throughout town. Here you had some folks born into the working classes, raised in less suburban suburbs, people who were older and younger, but who collectively showed signs of having a larger degree of tolerance and wider range of social attitudes than what I was accustomed to from my rather parochial Irish/Italian south of Boston former ship building town.

Here, the working class households were the primary motivators for all the cool shit in town, like a 24 hour diner, bars without TVs, native plant nurseries, neighborhood/community art and writing projects, cooperative gardens, and those corner bakeries where if you volunteer to help out a couple of hours a week, you can get free bread. It had pockets of anarchists, open atheists, and self-proclaimed artists. Maybe, I thought, in a place like this, they could abide names like "Leaf". Where I grew up, if you'd named your kid that and sent her to public school, the kid was gonna get hit, physically or emotionally at least every week if not every day for no reason other than the residents' intolerant xenophobic inferiority complex attitude which caused them to necessarily hear names like "Leaf" as "My parents think they are better than you and yours (so please feel free to fuck with and/or smack me)."

I'd been living in Ann Arbor long enough to know that the exact context for judging the cruelty of her parents, my bosses, N____ and B_____ might need some adjustment. I hadn't thought I'd get culture shock moving from south of Boston to Ann Arbor. I knew the "r" thing would be a problem, but I had assumed it would be one way. I wasn't prepared for things like completely failing to understand a nurse's declaration to me that "mrrstrrr strrjrrs in room threethrrrrtifrrrr wants a vrrrrnrrrrs"

"So you go to school with Leaf?" I asked Eva. Eva filled me in on how Leaf was tormented by people at school and how Leaf herself was in fact quite mean to the few people who tried to be friends with her (like Eva). I couldn't help wondering if Leaf would've been less mean and less tormented had she been named something else. Spoiled, being raised by people who never matured past 17, and named as she was, it seemed to me Leaf was pretty much fucked from the word go.

I looked around the store, noting the nearly life-sized llama ("it's an alpaca!" N_____ had corrected), the half strung balinese instruments, the grateful dead batik-like printed wall hangings ("tapestries"), and the many mermaids, mercats, merdogs, and frogs holding mirrors hanging from fishing line from eyes N_____'s husband and store co-owner B_____ had screwed into the ceiling.

When they swung, I wondered how much coke B____ had done the day he installed them. I hardly ever stood under the large mermaid. Seeing others under it as its cracked and puttied body swung lazily over them made me feel a little funny, like the way you get when you're too close to the edge of a building.

Who the fuck would name their kid "Leaf", like a tree? These people would.

* = "Mister Sturgers in room three thirty four wants a Vernor's**"
** = Vernor's is a kind of ginger ale.