Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
He questioned softly why I failed?
"For beauty," I replied.

"And I for truth, -the two are one;
We brethren are," he said.
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

WalMart and AC/DC

There are many reasons not to like WalMart, they take over small towns, they force suppliers to slash prices to a level lower than the cost of production, they help to fill the world's landfills with more junk...and so on and so forth.

The main reason I won't shop at WalMart is due to unfair labor practices. A large percentage of WalMart employees are given less than 30 hours a week of work. Typically an employee needs to work 32 hours a week or more to qualify for health insurance. This means that WalMart doesn't need to provide insurance to a fair number of employees. It means that employees are then insured by the state, so the taxpayers get to subsidize health insurance for the world's largest retailer. The other unfair practice is keeping employees working near 30 hours a week, making it more difficult to secure a second job to close the gap in hours.

People can tell me that WalMart is now doing all of these environmentally helpful things. This is, in my opinion, a last ditch effort in their losing efforts to compete with Target and is too little, too late.

Now what does this have to do with AC/DC? This is a band that is too "principled" to put their music on iTunes, yet they partner with WalMart making them the only retailer to sell their new album. I have tickets to an upcoming AC/DC concert in my area. I would love to hear the new album, I won't go to WalMart to get it. In fact, until I see some leading changes in the areas of environmental, social, and economic concern, I won't go to WalMart to get anything.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Review

I just got done reading this book and really can't say enough good things about it. Upon first glance the title did make me laugh, the book is really not funny though. This book goes to the heart of the issue regarding the working poor in this country. The author is from a working poor family and this is his demographic. I believe what he says to be true, this is a class of people who believes in hard work (even though it gets them nowhere), guns and hunting (if your from the city you don't like guns because your a lily livered wimp), church (God will save you from your sins and deliver you to a better life, sure as hell better than the one that most folks are livin' here on earth), and right wing politics (going to Harvard or any other Ivy League school is suspect, elitist, and not to be trusted).

The best part of this book was the chapter on guns. It got me thinking about this issue. The author was pretty black and white in terms of statistics. In home robberies, homeowners accidentally shoot a non-criminal 2% of the time compared with the police, 11% of the time. He also talked about how statistically most gun related crimes are due to drugs and then guns and if drugs were gone the crime rates would drop. It is just easier for most politicians to focus on the gun issue because the drug issue is so much more challenging to address. Women who face a dangerous commute are less likely to be raped if they are carrying a gun. Also, showing an intruder a gun and yelling, "Get the fuck out of my house" works in most cases. He also talked about how easy it is to be against guns when you don't have to do things like commute by bus late at night to a bad part of town, protect your children in a drug infested neighborhood, or walk through crime ridden streets to go to and from the laundromat to wash your work uniform.

If you want to understand our political machine today, this is a great read. No, this guy doesn't have all of the answers. He is a self-proclaimed socialist and that has often been enough to alienate him from some of his home folk, including family. This book stated things that I had thought about in a way that I couldn't have stated them myself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Burn After Reading

After much hoopla and not much forethought, I saw the new Coen brothers movie, "Burn After Reading." Let me start by talking about what this movie was about...uh I don't really know. I could summarize, a bunch of people who don't go together at the beginning of the movie are all together in some shape or form at the end after a lot of blackmail, adultery, boozing, working out, fighting, internet dating, stealing, divorcing, and murdering. I guess that about sums it up. The Coen brothers were able to work their typical magic of having you laugh one minute, then having your laughter abruptly interrupted by interspersing scenes of raw violence. Thankfully it lacked sappy tears and emotion, predictable and boring romance, and unrealistic love and expectations in relationships. This movie had all of the elements that I look for when I want to be entertained by the big screen.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Morning People

The world is dedicated to morning people. I am not a morning person. Over the years I have had to force myself to adopt to the routine of morning people. They are, after all, the ones that are in charge. If I don't adapt, I am called "lazy." Yes, I am lazy in the mornings. I am also cranky in the mornings. My hatred of mornings has fueled my caffeine addiction in order to make me more tolerable.

What would be wrong with a different sort of world? The world in two shifts. One for the early risers and one for the later risers. Both groups could enjoy success on their own time frames. I write this as I am recovering from one of the many colds I am sure that I will contract this season. I am not being a pessimist, but in my middle age it is a known fact that I get sick, sicker, and sickest when the school year starts and I am once again forced to adapt to the time frame of those PEOPLE.

The world would be a better place for me if I could work until nine or ten, come home and unwind, and start again the next day at the crack of nine or ten. It would be ideal if there were no social consequences for this. I would be happier and consistently healthier. I would be willing to bet that I would not be the only one. With the world working in shifts, most stores could afford to be open 24hours. The economy would probably do better, not worse if night owls were given there place in it.

Until utopia is deposited by magic on my doorstep, I will nurse my cold and sludge through my cranky AM demeanor with healthy doses of caffeine and blame those damn morning people through all of my scowling.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Poem, from Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong

The man under the bed
The man who has been there for years waiting
The man who waits for my floating bare foot
The man who is silent as dustballs riding the
The man whose breath is the breathing of small
white butterflies
The man whose breathing I hear when I pick up
the phone
The man in the mirror whose breath blackens
The boneman in closets who rattles the mothballs
The man at the end of the line
I met him tonight I always meet him
He stands in the amber air of a bar
When the shrimp curl like beckoning fingers
& ride through the air on their toothpick skewers
When the ice cracks & I am about to fall through
he arranges his face around its hollows
he opens his pupilless eyes at me
For years he has waited to drag me down
& now he tells me
he has only waited to take me home
We waltz through the street like death & the
We float through the wall of the wall of my room

If he's my dream he will fold back into my body
His breath writes letters of mist on the glass of
my cheeks
I wrap myself around him like darkness
I breathe into his mouth
& make him real

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walla Walla Wine Tour

This weekend I was fortunate enough to go with a great group of women to Walla Walla and do a little wine and food tasting in order to celebrate a friend's birthday. We had a great time, stayed in a cute little house and put about ten wineries under our belts. We developed a new term "the hang on" to describe a daytime hangover. This is fairly easy to get after doing some heavy duty tasting. The carved doors above are at Basel Winery a truly spectacular place. One could rent the entire house (eight bedrooms and a full sized pool). Beautiful view of the rolling, barren hills that characterize this barren climate (a great climate for grape growing) in Eastern Washington. These are the wineries that we visited: Basel Cellars, Gifford Hirlinger, Dusted Valley, Tertulia, Trust, Rulo, Three Rivers, Pepper Bridge, Fidelitas, and L'Ecole.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Beards and Blogging

Today I am going to blog about beards and why I hate them. I don't really like mustaches either and the beard/mustache combination really puts me over the edge. What got me thinking this way? It was a movie that I saw last night called "The Last Waltz." It was a cinemagraphic version of The Band's last concert. Fantastic guest stars to be sure! The year was 1976 and everyone looked like Grizzly Adams. Some even looked a bit like the mad professor. The music was great, the facial hair, hideous.

Now, onto why I don't like beards. I don't like them because I don't see how they can be clean. It seems like getting near a beard would be a good way to experience secondhand someones spittle or leftover food particles. The man doesn't have to be metrosexual to be sexy, but there is really nothing sexy about a beard. I have heard women say that they like the way a beard feels. I guess you could get this same effect by rubbing a Brillo pad on your face and it would be more sanitary. Beards may be sexy on a man who has spent a number of weeks or months in the out-of-doors getting physical and back to nature. It seems like the shaving of the beard upon introduction back into civilization should accompany the much needed shower.

I have friends who have beards and I do think that there is a certain kind of personality that carries a beard well. I mean it just seems to "go" with the man. No problem, I just don't want to have to get near it. My husband grew a beard once. It was straggly and stringy and it did not go with his personality. I told him that it didn't look good on him. It wasn't even a "healthy" beard. It took one of our friends quite innocently asking if he had joined the urban Taliban (the year was 2002) for him to go home and immediately shave it off. He left the mustache. This did not look good either. A friend of ours told him that he looked like a retired porn star. I don't know if it was the retired part or the porn star part, but he went home and shaved that off as well. My husband may not always have the best of taste. I am thankful for outspoken friends who do.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Women in the Workplace

I am going to blog a bit today about Sarah Palin. No, I am not making a political statement, coming out for the right wing and all of that. Sarah Palin is simply an example of the point that I am going to make with this entry.

A number of years ago I decided to give myself a very loose "degree" in women's studies. So I started reading all of the old feminist tomes, the ones that were popular in the birth stages of feminism, not the ones written when feminism became a bad word in the minds of most of the American public.

This is what I learned. At the time of its 20th century "birth" in this country, the feminist cause was made up largely of women with families, both the stay and home and working type moms who wanted a more equitable world for women. The heart of the ideal was that a woman, mother or not, could have any job that she wanted and not be penalized for it socially or economically.

It seems that Sarah Palin is a good example of this. Already the mass media is throwing criticisms about her ability to lead. They are trying not to say it, but the feeling is that she won't be able to lead or do her job well because she has small children. I can't help but noticing over and over again in our "progressive" world that this is never a question for men. At it's inception, the goal of feminism was to make this a possibility, for women to be judged on their abilities in all areas not just their abilities as a mother. It is also, according to the media, Sarah Palin's fault that her 17-year-old child is pregnant. I haven't gotten to the teen years yet in my parenting journey, but I have a number of friends, great parents, who have and they are surprising years to say the least. For those of you who remember being a teenager, you may also remember how much you knew about the world and how little your parents seemed to know of it.

Again, I am not making a political statement. Whenever the "old" premises of feminism are trotted out for examination, people are quick to dismiss this close inspection as political or social or emotional, anything but what it truly is. We are in a backlash era. I will watch the news and the political debates. I may even start a tally of the following:

How often will Sarah Palin's appearance be criticized in the media?
How many times will her daughter's pregnancy be blamed on her lack of skills as a mother?
How often will we have to hear about how she won't be able to lead effectively because she has a special needs infant?

It will be these types of references that will enforce my notion of how far behind we are in this country in the area of equal rights for women. Welcome to the backlash era of America.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cultural Traditions

In Lakota tradition, the woman signals divorce in three ways:
1) Move in with relatives
2) Move in with new man
3) Toss husband's belongings outside lodge
Maybe things were easier back in the "good 'ol days"

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What Kind of Parent are You??

I recently visited a long time friend of mine and her family. It was sort of a last minute visit. I was driving with my family, coming home from vacation and we realized that we were close to their house. Being the impertinent folks that we are, we rang up and asked if we could come by. They, being the gracious folks that they are said, "Sure and please spend the night." They then added that they had two foster children, brothers, ages 4 and 2 move in three days before.

This got me thinking. I have known my friend since she and I were about three years of age. So we have been friends for awhile. She is a very giving person. I told her outright that I thought both she and her husband and their three children were very brave to be doing this. I am much too selfish to undertake such a humanitarian gesture. Though I am a parent, I have remained selfish. Not as selfish as I used to be, but selfish nonetheless and a bit immature.

The truth of the matter is that I need time alone. If I don't get it, I will almost resort to lying, cheating, and stealing to see that I get my own space and peace every once in a while. I am also prone to going through long phases of needing more alone time and more often then I do at other times. I couldn't imagine for a minute being a foster parent. Not only am I selfish and immature, I just couldn't bear to get attached to a child or children who could be taken from me at any point in time.

So my thoughts are with my brave friend and her family. They have been preparing for this for a while (of course they thought that they would only be getting one child at a time) and so far they seem to be navigating these uncharted waters swimmingly well. These children couldn't ask for a better temporary home. I applaud their efforts to make the world a better place for children one, or two, children at a time.

New Beginning

One of my favorite people on You Tube.