Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Broken promises

Oh pooh. I said I was going to try and post more often after opening this new blog and I've already fallen off the wagon.

But I think it's part of the whole blogging experience. There are cycles of creativity and productivity and I've simply hit a low spot.

A very low spot. A veritable sinkhole.

Externally I'm in a bit of a rut right now, between things. I feel as if I'm waiting for a shoe to drop and I've absolutely no idea whose shoe it might be, let alone the size or style.

It's easier to ride others' coattails; I love hanging at FireDogLake, so much easier to let Jane and ReddHedd do all the heavy lifting every day. But at some point I'm going to have to put my shoulder to the wheel and do something. I can feel the guilt building, nagging at me to do something more each day.

It's also a weather-related lull. Spring is still more than a month away, the Lenten season only beginning tomorrow. The sun sets later each evening -- but I don't often see it here in this clime. I'm the veritable groundhog, stuck again in a burrow until the season changes well and good for the better.

So what about you? Is it spring where you are, inside and out? or are you burrowed under for another bit like me?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Veep in deep

The Veep "accidentally" shoots a fellow hunter.

From here on there is absolutely nothing good about this story. It stinks like curdled milk and three-day-old fish on a summer's day in Dallas. How do we even begin to count the ways in which this reeks?

The 22-hour gap: WTF? There's absolutely no excuse for this, we can all agree on this point. But why? Was a key person in this story under the influence of a substance that would take a day to clear? Were they trying to get their stories straight? Heck, could they not come up with a story? Or was the victim not in the clear for that long?

The "group" of hunters: Why did it take even longer than the 22-hour gap to identify the third hunter? Why is the media repeatedly using the word "group" to describe two people (Dick Cheney and Pamela Willemore)?

The composition of the party: A divorcee ranch owner. An older man who does not appear to be married at this time. A woman sans spouse. The Veep, sans spouse. Which begs the question: where's Lynne Cheney? And why haven't we heard from her about all this?

The scenario: The initial stories make it sould like it was purely the victim's fault; the ranch owner, Anne Armstrong, says that the victim walked up from behind and spooked Cheney because he did not announce himself. Huh? If Whittington had announced himself, he'd have spooked the birds before the hunting dogs did. Later reports said the president was blinded by the sun; then why did he take a shot? Armstrong may have been watching from a nearby vehicle; then why did it take so long to get an ambulance on site (20+ minutes reportedly)? And why wasn't the Veep's personal ambulance right there at the ranch -- or was it? Why are there conflicting reports about the distance between the Veep and the victim? One early report says 30 feet, others say 3o yards; what is it?

The victim's condition: Why would a simple showering of birdshot require two nights in ICU? I can understand HIPAA laws requiring a patient's privacy to be protected, but a constant report of "stable" throughout two days in ICU?

The Veep's condition: There are some rumors circulating that it's really him in the ICU and not the hunting victim, and that this was an effort to keep people from demanding he step down for health reasons. There are other speculations that his combo defibralator-pacemaker "jolted" him in the field, causing him to reflexively shoot and hit the victim. Others wonder whether Cheney had a health crisis, perhaps a fainting spell, tripping and shooting the victim. He's not appeared on television since the incident. So what's his status?

The report: The Office of the Vice President let a civilian -- the ranch owner -- handle reporting this story. Huh? I can't imagine why the administration that prides itself on message control didn't take control of this instead of letting a civilian handle this. The civilian tried to position this as something that happens all the time, just a few tiny beebees exchanged between friends. As if.

The aftermath: Reporting has been all over the map on this event. Some of the handling by the OVP appears to be responding to reactions from the public, rather than simply reporting the truth.

The worst part of this debacle is that this is a little thing, no offense to the poor victim. But a Republican committee issues a harsh and unstinting report this week on this administration's response to Katrina. RawStory is breaking a report that Valerie Plame was working on IRAN; her outing by the OVP damaged considerably intelligence gathering on Iran's nuclear program. The NSA domestic spying hearing is still not complete, and the New-and-Improved Patriot Act is pending approval. Nor have we seen the documents that were demanded by Senator Harry Reid during his Rule 21 closed session back last quarter of 2005. All this is so much more threatening to us than a little bird shot and a Veep that can't shoot straight.

But here we are, hijacked by this story that stinks to high heaven, waiting once again for truth that will never come out of this administration.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bugged here

The eight-year-old brought a bug home last week, has been complaining of a runny nose, sore throat and a headache. He's been moody and tired, too.

And now Mom has it. He was just starting to come around late this past week when he decided to be more affectionate than he has been. This should have been the tip-off that the virus was ready to move to fresh meat, having exhausted its welcome with its current host. The little guy laid a big, sloppy, wet, dog-like kiss on me.

Bingo, viral load delivered.

All that nagging about sneezing into his inner elbow and handwashing for naught. For all their minuteness, viruses are incredibly savvy and smarter than the average mother.

Now who will be my object of viral tranmission, I mean, affection?

Stay healthy and keep your distance, whereever you are. Heh.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Salon Blogs: the meta-blog begins

Hey Salon Bloggers! Check out the new experiment and see what you think. I've set up a meta-blog for us to use until Salon gets its act together about its new blog space (ostensibly before the end of the year, heh, not holding my breath).

Dave Pollard, Mark Hoback, Paul Hinrichs, I've already sent you invitations to join as members of the meta-blog. Check your email boxes (probably in spam or bulkmail!) and see if you have them.

Art Jacobson, I'll send you an email invite shortly, still checking out the comment problem you had.

If you're a past or present Salon blogger and you want to join the meta-blog, leave me a note in comments along with current contact info. (Be sure to use caution posting email addy's so spambots don't pick it up.) I'm also going to rely on other Salon bloggers to spread the word, let others know about this.

Hope to hear from you about this!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tinkering in progress

Nuts. I tried to post a rather long piece yesterday, attempting to create an expandable post so that only a lead-in appears on the main blog and the body is expanded only on selection of a link.

I'm tripping over the auto-formatting that Blogger inserts into posts; it insists on embedding a begin-font tag all over the place, but no closing font tag. It's driving me nuts!

I guess I'll have to try using a post template so that the text on all posts is the same unless indicated otherwise, to try and override the default fonting.

Bear with me; you might see what looks like an old post appear between here and the previous post.

But enough about me -- how are you?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thinking Post-Friedan

DailyKos diarist judybrowni wrote a moving essay about the impact of Betty Friedan on her life; she talks about her mother's painful life and her own struggles through the women's movement.

Quite literally "moving", this essay; I am now moved to think more deeply about the lives of the women in my family. My mother has always been a bit restless; she went into nursing, one of the only acceptable careers in the late 1950's for women. She came from a very small town in northern Michigan; there wasn't much opportunity to learn about the rest of the world or travel, simply not much see or do. I don't know if the restlessness I felt as a kid and still feel emanating from her were borne out of an isolation or conditions over which she had no control.

Or was she simply hardwired that way?

She pushed the boundaries in more than one way; she one of a very few (quite possibly the only one) who went on to college after high school from her small town. She met a man a handful of years older who was from an unimaginable world away, going to a nearby college. It still amazes me that a local girl from "Yooperland" ran into a former Navy guy of Polynesian descent and got married. They left the north country not long after they had me, ending up in California.

I remember only little flashes and snippets of a plane ride, my infant sister upsetting everyone with her air sickness; I remember dancing wildly with my aunt in the living room of my grandfather's house to the Beatles' tune, I want to hold your hand. The dryer is running, the clothes spinning inside it. The weather is cold and gray. And that's all I can recall of the trip back to north country when my grandmother died in 1964.

My grandmother died of cirrhosis of the liver; she had a quart a day habit that eventually killed her. I don't know much about when it started. I know only that in my grandfather's eyes she was worth waiting for. He and another rival beau had shown up at the same time at her home to take her out; she took a very long time to come down stairs. Hours, if memory serves. And Gramps out waited the other guy. But I don’t know if she was already drinking then at that point in her life.

I really didn't have a grandmother, only the unfulfilled promise of a grandmother. I have pictures of a woman who wore plaid woolen jackets and chinos and dungarees that held me in her arms. I have inherited genetically what is probably her jaw line and her hair. In my closet is a wool, long-sleeved undershirt she wore along with a couple of scarves that came from her dresser; in the cupboard is a glass pitcher dating back to the turn of the century that she must have used. She left me nothing else, not even the provenance of the pitcher; perhaps as much as she doesn't exist for me now, I didn't exist for her then.

She worked with my grandfather in the gas station they owned; I wonder how much she did if she was lit every day. She must have managed around the house, perhaps with increasing help from my mother. My aunt tells me that her sister raised her; it says less about the twelve-year gap between these sisters than it does about the dwindling impact of my grandmother on their lives. It also explains to some degree the drive my mother had to leave her small town and move far away, binding herself to someone who was utterly unlike anyone she'd met before. It may even explain her restlessness of spirit.

There's something missing in this muddle of clues. Was it simply that my grandmother was genetically doomed to be an addict? I can't be certain, and other bits and pieces suggest otherwise. Her own mother lived well into her eighties and wasn't known to be a drinker, only for her stubborn refusal to speak anything but Finn. My grandmother was one of eight children; the others all died of what one would consider "normal" or age-related causes, save for the middle daughter. My great-aunt died as a result of a botched surgery for fibroid tumors while she was in her 30's. Perhaps this was a trigger to my grandmother's drinking, but I've never heard anyone in the family make this linkage.

Or was my grandmother simply depressed, self-medicating with another depressant? After reading judybrowni's essay, this makes more sense. A lot more sense; the concept resonates in my bones as an underlying truth.

None of the pictures I've seen of my grandmother are of a happy woman after a certain point in time. She is coyly smiling with my grandfather on their wedding day, laughing with friends one evening, but that's it. The rest of the pictures are of someone who appears withdrawn.

The place in which she lived could drive anyone mad. Snow piles up in the hundreds of inches from October through April, sometimes as late as May. The sun shines on average less than twelve days a month. The personalities around her were a motley collection, not unlike the cast of the television sitcom, Northern Exposure. (Heck, Grandma might have been Ruth-Anne's depressed twin...). The times themselves weren't conducive to expression, either. Uppermost Michigan didn't leave the Great Depression for decades. The economic drivers dried up permanently. Television programming was scant to non-existent, and what radio they could receive only reinforced the notion that the world was leaving them behind.

What would have happened if my grandmother had lived in time where she could have fled, been on her own, could have free to do so? What if she'd been free to divorce my grandfather could have lived in a post-Friedan, postmodern world? I have absolutely no reason to believe she didn't love him, but what if she wasn't happy with my grandfather and the life they had together? What if she'd really not wanted children? Again, I have no reason to believe this was the case, but there was no way for a woman to say so without enormous social consequence at that time.

I've missed having a grandmother; I've wished this not for myself. We don't miss what we've never had. But I miss her for my mother's sake; she had no one to model what a grandmother could be like, what a whole and healthy mother could be. She had no one who could help her reconcile the restlessness she felt, help her learn to focus on something other than society's expectations. My mother has been a bit of a rebel, more than willing to do the opposite of what was expected simply because it unconventional. I miss my grandmother for my aunt's sake, too; she became an űber-mother, was stopped only by nature from having more than six kids. I suspect her űber-motherhood was a response to the deficiency of maternal influence in her life.

Because they were so challenged by their circumstances, I've had to look away from these women at times in order to find other roles models. Society still does horrific things to images of womanhood and motherhood; I make a concerted effort to stay away from any corporate or commercial "programming" as to what I should do. (Gad, the crucifixion of Britney Spears as a mother has been disgusting. She's barely a girl herself, had a hothouse, over-processed childhood, and now her maternity and motherhood dissected and served up for entertainment. Agh.) I've had to build my own mother-figure out of a patchwork of women I've known.

The fact that I am raising a woman makes this job more important; we have conscious and open discussions about the nature of girlhood and womanhood, of motherhood. These are conversations I’ve never had with my mother and I doubt my mother ever had with her mother. Sometimes I catch myself stepping back and forth between being an observer-witness and being a woman, a mother and future grandmother; I wonder whether this is something that Friedan gave us, an ability to change our awareness of changing roles and the choices between them, feel less doubt about being a woman at any state in our lives. I know from Friedan's own words that she didn't see her womanhood as a series of either/or propositions into which she was trapped.

I am grateful I can share this sentiment.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A passing thought

It's been awfully quiet here in this new blog. I miss my Salon peeps stopping by whenever I posted in my old blog.

Had a passing thought, though, while contemplating this new-found quietude: maybe the trolls won't find me here.


There are tradeoffs for everything.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Unintentionally mute

There's been so much lately to write about, but the cosmos conspires against me to keep me from speaking out. Desktop dying, blog software failing, laptop limping along, relearning new software...

Perhaps it's a good thing that I haven't been able to speak, so to say. I'm furious; my outrage has no bounds. I can't even begin to put into words the anger I feel. What would I say that would be coherent? There's just much to be flat out pissed off about right now.

What frustrates me and enrages me even more is the sleepwalking -- the torpor of the drug that is every day living in America, that has blinded people to the truth. Even my spouse, the man with whom I spoon every night under the fluffy down coverlet of our suburban middle-class bed, plods along every day pulled inexorably by the demands of his work and the life he's constructed around it. He gets the news in little bits and pieces, soundbites in the car between pop tunes and flashes on CNN in terminal or the 6:30 evening news if he makes home in time catch it.

Nor does he have the time to research anything, is not a student of history or law, has no clue as to the source of any outrage that people like me or my friends feel. It's as if we live in separate worlds, in tandem, parallel.

There are times when I wish I lived in truly blue state; people assume because I'm in Michigan that this is blue country, that progressives can wear their hearts on their sleeves. Far from it. Rural areas of Michigan are red, red; I live in the heart of conservative fly-over country. I have to watch what I say and what I do, mind my manners to the point of suffocation. No bumperstickers on my car. No lapel pins. No badges. No T-shirts. I have to live the life of an manager's wife, be ordinary, blend into the scenery like a chameleon. I am white on white, a snowflake making no impression on the drift of snow around me.

This only increases my frustration, feeling like I must be invisible. And I have to be this way not only for my personal safety, but for that of my kids; I can't even encourage my kids to open and themselves. I've had to squelch any comments my son makes that are anti-administration, even though he is a tender eight years old and still acquiring the skills of discretion.

How is this acceptable? How is it okay for my kids to have to be something other than themselves? How is it okay for me to be unable to be myself? How can I fight my way back to what used to be normalcy in America?

I feel as if I am living in a science fiction movie, or a piece of speculative fiction.

Calls to mind this piece in particular: I have no mouth and I must scream...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Calling Blogger bloggers: need help with How-To

I'm recently migrated from Userland Radio; I used to have "categories", a method for posting content to subordinate pages that I could link on the front or splash page of my blog.

How do I do this in Blogger? Any help would be appreciated!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dear Enron Employees

Especially you, Matthew L*nh*rt...

Actually, I'm picking on Matthew (Matt? do they call you Matt?) because I've seen some of his emails; there are others for whom this message is equally suited but whose emails I've not yet read.

Dude, stop sending your f*cking personal emails from your work account. Really. If you worked for me I'd fire your *ss because you're too stupid to work at Enron. Let alone the amount of company time you piss away on personal emails. Gad, they're not even quality stuff, no conversations with friends about quantum physics or politics, just shallow fluffy stuff like pre- or post-vacation chatter.

Shocked that somebody you don't even know read your emails? You shouldn't be. Remember back in 2001, that little thing that happened with your firm? The implosion after all the high mucky-mucks little book-cooking scheme fell apart? Yeah, that little thing.

Well, the Feds did this other thing during the early phase of prosecution after Enron kind of fell apart, called "discovery", where they went and gathered a bunch of documents from Enron under a permission slip called a subpoena, to show how bad those so-called "smartest guys in the room" really were.

This included electronic documents -- like email.

Your email, specifically. Including your dopey jokes about pr0n and your feelings about spas, massages and the Caymans.

Because the Feds got them as part of the document production process in a criminal suit, your emails are now public record.

Your grandkids can now see what kind of a slacker you were at the office.

Dude. Really.

If I were you, I'd stop spending money on trips to the Caymans and start saving just in case you are unemployed some time in the near future.

I hear the energy sector is a good place to invest those savings. Am I right?



p.s. Umm, your friends at Eli Lilly, Citicorp and Deloitte, for starters, shouldn't answer you from those domains, either, unless it's purely about business. I sure hope you've got friends who are smarter than you.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tom Friedman: STFU already

I'm sick of his windbaggery. Friedman's on The Today Show this morning, literally pontificating about the U.S. and its "addiction to oil"[TM] and the Middle East. Host Matt Lauer lets him go on and on, rambling, rambling, lets him exhaust his hot air without forcing him to make concrete points about oil and democracy and the U.S. role in Middle East politics.

Gah. This *sshole apparently has no clue about his responsibility in relation to the current mess in the Middle East. It's idiots like him who were rah-rah about the Iraq War that encouraged this situation, and now he's making a buck off people who think he still has something relevant and prescient to say.

Just like his book, The World is Flat -- jeepers, wow, globalization! -- Friedman acts as if he discovered this concept. I'm surprised he hasn't tried to trademark that term before the White House gets to it. I can only figure that companies like NBC's corporate owner, General Electric, must be ready to cash in on the green movement and will now spend the bandwidth on promoting the same through useful tools like Friedman. Worse, Friedman onlhy belabors points he made in a previous book on globalization. I think we get the point now, okay? I only have to drive my Japanese-Mexican-American vehicle fueled with Venezuelan gasoline to the grocery store's produce department to buy Chilean grapes and New Zealand apples to get it.

What really frosts my chaps, above and beyond the annoyance of Friedman's general uselessness, is that the man who was truly prescient about the state of energy today and the politics that surround it gets little to no love. He wrote a book on the subject as a Senator, before he became Vice President, discussing our need to free ourselves from oil for the sake our environmental and national security. Forteen years ahead of windbag Friedman, forteen years ahead of the man currently occupying the White House, Al Gore was all over it, calling for a "global Marshall Plan" to head off the ravages to our environment and related political fallout.

This country elected the wrong guy after Bush I.

Don't even bring up the election of 2000.

Do yourself a favor and find a copy of Gore's book -- skip Friedman's hot air.

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