Monday, September 28, 2009

Wal-Mart, Symbol of America

I am horrified, although I don't know exactly why, I shouldn't really be all that surprised about what I read in the paper this morning. About half of the respondents in a new poll chose Wal-Mart as the institution that best symbolizes America today. Personally, I think Wal-Mart is the institution that best symbolizes what is wrong with America today, but I guess that is just my opinion. What do I really have to say about this? Don't the findings speak for themselves? Yet, some people still need to ask why I am a cynic? The article pointed out how other companies like Google, Microsoft, and Goldman-Sachs were "left in the dust" on this one. I would like to point out that the companies that were "left in the dust" are also companies that have a more educated work force than Wal-Mart, they are also companies that do much of their hiring from overseas, does anyone besides me see a correlation here?

Despite its reputation for good bargains, Wal-Mart makes me think of things like labor exploitation and forced price cutting. Are these the "values" we want to continue to be known for throughout the world? Like our primary education system, the focus seems to be on mediocrity. No longer a nation known for the futuristic foresight of innovative greatness, no not us, our symbol of "success" according to some Americans lies in amassing cheap quantities of materialistic goods that can be consumed in the moment. This points to a value of success not based on quality, but based on our ability to bulldoze the competition and live cheaply in the moment.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Humane Society Walk

My oldest daughter, two of her friends, and two parents participated in this walk today and it was a fun event all the way around and for such a good cause! We don't own a dog, but our neighbors were nice enough to share theirs with us during the walk. Only later did I find out that we could have registered to walk a shelter dog, maybe next year. Terrific weather, terrific day, and terrific turn-out. When I last looked the Humane Society had raised over $90,000.00 from this event.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I Understood by Katha Pollitt

When I was a child I understood everything
about, for example, futility. Standing for hours
on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls
I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform
this pointless task, and all the others? I knew
about snobbery, too, and cruelty—for children
are snobbish and cruel—and loneliness: in restaurants
the dignity and shame of solitary diners
disabled me, and when my grandmother
screamed at me, "Someday you'll know what it's like!"
I knew she was right, the way I knew
about the single rooms my teachers went home to,
the pictures on the dresser, the hoard of chocolates,
and that there was no God, and that I would die.
All this I understood, no one needed to tell me.
the only thing I didn't understand
was how in a world whose predominant characteristics
are futility, cruelty, loneliness, disappointment
people are saved every day
by a sparrow, a foghorn, a grassblade, a tablecloth.
This year I'll be
thirty-nine, and I still don't understand it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Unexpected Good Read

I just got through reading an excellent book called "Expecting Adam" by Martha Beck. This is not a new book, it was published about ten years ago. It is a memoir about Martha's pregnancy with a Down Syndrome child. Martha and her husband were both graduate students at Harvard University at the time (1988) and they had an 18 month old daughter when Martha found out that she was expecting again and that she was carrying a "Down Syndrome fetus." She was 25 years old. What would you do?

The prevailing thought on the Harvard campus at the time was that such a fetus should be aborted. Martha decided not to do this. Her pregnancy journey was quite a spiritually compelling one. I have heard that sometimes women are open to such experiences during a pregnancy, but had never heard or read about a long duration of such an "experience." It seemed, in reading the book, that not only was this pregnancy blessed, but that the fetus, Adam, had picked these two people to be his parents.

Coincidentally, Martha was studying social sciences and women's studies at the time. During her pregnancy with Adam she was in a class where the debate was about advances in obstetrical technology. One student brazenly informed the class that women had a social obligation to terminate any pregnancy in which the fetus was deformed.

When Martha's son, Adam was a child she watched him help an emotionally traumatized young girl go on a carnival ride. She thought about those student's words from years before and of a couple of notorious Harvard geniuses including the unabomber and a South American dictator who maimed and killed people. If Adam was on one side of the debate and these Harvard geniuses are on the other, what kind of world are people who think that the pregnancy of any child who might not be "perfect" hoping for?

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Poker Face

I learned how to play poker on Saturday night. My dad is a poker aficionado of sorts. He and his friends still get together to play. Instead of meeting at 8:00pm on a Saturday night, they now meet at about 4:00pm on a weeknight, some of them toting walkers and quad canes to the event. I have always associated poker with my dad and time that he spent with his friends and have thus been a bit slow in learning how to play.

Last Saturday marked the end of my lethargy in learning the game of poker. While battling what has now turned into a miserable head cold, I dragged myself from my prone position a few blocks to my neighbors house, the site of the event. Thinking that I would only socialize a bit and then head home, I surprised myself by saying, "yes, " when asked to join a beginners game. This was great, the beginners game was perfect, nobody knew what they were doing and thus I did not slow anyone down with my steep learning curve. I started having so much fun that I even forgot how sick I had felt earlier in the evening.

At any rate, I eventually was lured away by the social aspects of the evening. My friend, who took over my place at the table, came in second. I like to think that I helped to boost her level of success, not bad for beginners luck.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shouts & Murmurs: Easy Cocktails from the Cursing Mommy:

Although I do not swear constantly and fanatically, a friend of mine sent this to me and I found it to be hilarious, plus I actually could relate.

Shouts & Murmurs: Easy Cocktails from the Cursing Mommy:

Shared via AddThis

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Drinking Our Way Through Seattle

Last night I went out, spur of the moment, after a very long day, for both of us, with a friend in order to celebrate her birthday. We were talking about blogs, the Julie Powell blog specifically, and we wondered what kind of blog we could create and decide to add our idea to my existing blog. The idea being to drink our way around town. Now, this does present a few challenges as we really don't get out all that often. But, it has been decided that when we do and we enjoy the product, I will blog about it.

Stir Martini Bar was where we found ourselves last night. In addition to a wonderful food menu, Stir also serves up some pretty fantastic drinks. They use excellent vodkas which, needless to say, go down more smoothly than many other vodkas out there and makes it easier for one to get up and go to work the next day. Here is a list of the drinks that we sampled:

Bellevue Blue: Belevedere vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin, and Blue Curaco
Baby Shea: Titos vodka, Lillet, Orchard Apricot and lemon juice
Purple Flower: Sapphire gin, St. Germain, Creme de Violette, and Lavender soda
Sake 75: Pearl Plum vodka, Sake, sparkling wine, and lemon sour
Pink Fizz: rum, Triple Sec, muddled orange, lemon and cherry, Grenadine, and Sprite

For Dessert:
Drinking Chocolate served with a homemade marshmallow (I am going to have to try this at home. Last night's marshmallow really helped me see the value of going homemade)
Chocolate Martini-standard mix

Pretty luscious fare I know, but it was her birthday after all!
The other great thing about the evening is that most of it was spent during after-hours Happy Hour and the drinks were less than half-price.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What I did Last Night

Part of the evening involved watching this man perform shirtless, yummy! I love girls night!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Greatest Show on Earth

We went to the circus last night. The Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey "Greatest Show on Earth" circus and it was fun. Now I am a self-described "non-circus" person with the exception of the acrobatics that make my palms sweat and those were spectacular. What surprised me the most is how much I actually enjoyed the animal parts of the circus. The horses were gorgeous and the performing dog show was, in many ways, similar to the one that we saw in Sea World San Diego a few years back and I really enjoyed that.

All in all the only downer part of the evening was the group of sour faced protesters stationed at the main entrance and the fact that the circus wasn't actually held under a big top, but that is a different story. Since reading "Water for Elephants," I have been entranced with the notion of the big top. Also, I am old enough to have seen an actual circus under a big top and *sigh* I do miss those old fashioned things. Anyway, back to the protesters. I am given to understand, after completing my cursory Internet search, that the law suit that RBBB circus has managed to keep out of the courts since 2000 is indeed going to court. This suit involves alleged mis-treatment of the elephants.

On many levels I do consider myself to be an animal activist. But I think protesters, even a small group of them, at the circus is ridiculous. I realize that many of them have never travelled outside of the U.S. and been to countries where elephants are used as domestic labor and often treated very cruelly. It is certainly easier to station yourself outside of the doors of a commercial event in your own hometown rather than deal with the abuse of international animal trade. I get that.

But, in my humble opinion, the circus has gone quite P.C. since the big top days of old. What benefit does it give them to mis-treat their elephants. I might add, that at $60,000.00 per year for maintenance, these elephants are a huge investment for the circus. Like I said, I didn't expect to enjoy the elephants, tigers, horses and such as much as I did. I thought that I would be sitting in my seat thinking how much nicer it would be for these animals to roam free, not that they ever could, being too domesticated, at this point mind you.

At any rate, perhaps, probably, maybe there has been more recent elephant abuse in the circus. That is not up for me to answer. I know that the protesters at this event had a picture of one elephant and held posters proclaiming that this one elephant had been beaten to death. If that is true, than of course it is a damn shame. But their evidence was sketchy and limited and seemed a bit fabricated to me. It also disturbed the children and not in a good way. The animals on the floor inside of the event were beautiful and treated well during the performances.

Yes, people have come to enjoy animal free circuses. I am a fan of Cirque de Soleil. I did mention that I enjoy palm sweating acrobatics did I not? But as a sometimes old-fashioned American, I would I think miss the animal portion of RBBB circus. How many decades has this circus been around?

I hope that the outcome of the upcoming trial is fair. And if circus training practices need to change, than change they should and this may mean animal free RBBB circuses in the future. In the meantime images of painted elephants in India with numerous scars and limited nutrition will come to mind when I think of animal mistreatment, not the stunningly beautiful creatures that I witnessed at the circus last night.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

School is Back in Session, Drive Safe!

This is my daughter doing her safety patrol duty at our local public school. Last week, during the first week of school, there was an accident that occurred near the school and thankfully not near a crosswalk where children are patrolling. The cause of the accident was lack of attention and speed. Please remember to drive carefully in school zones. If you need to go through a school zone on your way to work and you are late, take another route. If this accident had occurred a block later than it did, a child could have been seriously hurt.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole Over The Rainbow

We saw a rainbow driving home from our camping trip today and it made me think of this song. This is my favorite rendition and Hawaii is one of my favorite places on earth.

Trying to Eeek out the Last Bit O' Summer

We had a wonderful camping weekend here at this little State Park. What a great place! And to think that I had never heard of it before. When I attempted to fill the group site that I had reserved here a couple of months ago, I was under the impression that Labor Day weekend would be nice and sunny. It usually is, has been for years, it seems. Not this year. Our small, but wonderful and very dedicated group, camped bravely through two nights of rain and wind. Yesterday was sunny and we enjoyed a beautiful day at the beach only to be beset with on and off showers throughout the evening which led into a torrential downpour as we were wrapping up the campfire. As tempting as it was to risk it and spend a third night, on again, off again morning showers convinced us that it was better to pack up our soggy shelters and enjoy a day doing indoor activities around the coast and head home towards night. That way we would all feel like we got a full extra day. We did. Now everyone is tired. Our wet gear is hanging in the laundry room, our tent is set up drying in our yard, and now I get to enjoy being in my own bed without the fear that my shelter may blow down upon me. Happy Labor Day.