I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

30 March 2007

While You Were Out: Pat Called About your Odometer Test

Before you get all worried, let me reassure you, my odometer test was fine. (Didn’t know I was a car, didja? Well, if the GenderGenie folks had an AutoGenie writing test, maybe I wouldn’t be able to hide it any longer!)

Last week I started to notice strange pain in my chest. My muscles felt like they do when I’m stressed—perhaps similar to an anxiety attack?—all tight and uncomfortable. But, although I felt like I should be having shortness of breath, I didn’t. Weird…

It started to happen each evening, and I kept ignoring it. In the sense that I’d mention to the Consort “Oh, I’m feeling that weird feeling again…” and then I’d actively ignore it. So that he’d sleep lightly and be able to sense if Something More Ominous happened at night while I was asleep.

By this Tuesday, he insisted that I should have a doctor check it out, because anytime your body reacts in an unexpected way (as opposed to an expected way: you work out, you twist, you ache), that’s probably a message from your core to GET THINGS CHECKED OUT. On Wednesday, I called the doctor’s office and said I wanted to schedule an appointment, because I was having chest pain.

“We can fit you in next Wednesday at 10:40.”

[??!!!!!] (Can I just say? When we come back from new Hampshire, we are so finding a new practice.)

I gently asked if something like chest pain didn’t deserve a more rapid response, but no, I was reminded, if it was serious, I could go to the walk-in clinic (where I would wait 2 hours before I got to see a Nurse Practitioner, who wouldn’t be able to do anything, and would suggest I make an appointment to see a doctor). Ho-kay.

The receptionist called back about half an hour later and miraculously had found me an open appointment at 10:40 this very day! (I think someone got a bit of a talking to there at the scheduling desk.) It wasn’t, of course, with my regular doc; this one was a very nervous little man.

When this pain happens, do I feel clammy? No. Do I feel nauseous? No. Do I feel dizzy? No.

The doctor said, maybe it’s my heart. He said, let’s do an EKG. So we did an EKG. The nurse who did it kept apologizing, “I’m sorry for touching you,” for EACH and EVERY of the eight or so sticky patches she placed around my chest, and even for the two they stick at your ankles. (Lady, I’m at the doctor’s office, I’m in one of those gowns, I expect to be prodded and poked, it’s really no big deal!) When everything was attached, with the proper apologies proffered, she told me to hold still, pressed a button, and PRESTO! We were done. What a lot of prep for a tiny bit of test.

Ten minutes later, the doctor came back in and said my EKG was “beautiful.”

The doctor said, maybe it’s a lung clot. He said, let’s do a D-dimer test. So we did a D-dimer. The associate who drew my blood was chatty and professional, and didn’t apologize for sticking me with a needle. (Phew!)

The doctor came back in one last time and said the results should be in by that afternoon, and he’d give me a call. If it wasn’t a clot, then he thought it was probably “something in the chest wall.”


“Something” like what? A tumor? A bone fragment? What?

Like maybe, a pulled muscle. (Phew!)

The test results weren’t called in to me by Wednesday evening, but I figured at least it wasn’t my heart (because I had beyoooootiful EKG results), and if it had been a lung clot, they’d have called me immediately, so I felt no worries.

Yesterday afternoon, I saw the note Impera left me (see the title), and called the nurse, who confirmed the results were normal (she didn’t say I had beautiful blood, but that’s OK, it would have been creepy if she had).

This morning, I went to the chiropractor, and she poked and prodded my sternum (Ow!) and confirmed that yep, my upper chest muscles were all in a bunch. I must have overdone it when I helped rake out the winter leaf crap in the yard last week.

Bingo! I won't be raking leaves ever again.

29 March 2007

Today's Link Theme Is: Selection

1. The US Postal Service will be putting out Star Wars stamps, and you can go vote for the design you like best. (They'll ask for your email, but it's just so you can vote only once per day). Go select your favorite. (Please! Because when I went, the one with most votes was Darth Maul. Yuck! BTW, I voted for the original Obi-Wan Kenobi.)

2. Mother Jones is running a quiz called "Iraq 101". Fifteen questions to see how much you know. NOTE: You have to keep track of how many you get right, because it doesn't do it for you. Go select your multiple-choice answers and see how much you know. (In fairness, I should disclose I got 9 out of 15.)

3. Anna at The End of Motherhood? shared a link to the Gender Genie, which supposedly predicts if an author is male or female. Paste in some blog text (or any other writing) and it will select your gender. (Incorrectly, for me, I might add. I inserted some blog posts, and I came up male in 2 out of 3. Ahem.)

28 March 2007

I Wish I...

... lived in San Francisco and visited the Vancouver zoo.

Word Wednesday: Mosquito Coast

Have you ever heard of the Mosquito Coast? … Maybe?

It was a movie with Harrison Ford, but I didn’t like it (Han Solo as a crazy self-taught scientist, who can’t even say “nuclear” right, and who bullies his family into moving to the jungle? I think not!).

But it is really a place: It’s on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua. Most North Americans have never visited there because for such a long time Nicaragua was the US’s Public Enemy 1B (with Cuba as PE 1A). The resultant poverty and international alienation is staggering. But anyway, this isn’t a political post…

Would you want to visit the Mosquito Coast? Not with a name like that, surely. Sounds awful. Guess what? It isn’t the Mosquito Coast because of what you’ll find there. Well, it is, actually, but not because of what you think.* The name is derived from the name of the native people who lived there: they called themselves the Miskito people.

I enjoy etymological (and, also, entomological) mismatches. It’s amazing how many explanations make perfect sense but can still be completely wrong.

*Although, having been to Guatemala’s Atlantic Coast, I can’t imagine it is much different that what the insect’s name implies: hot, muggy, and buggy.

26 March 2007


I would very much like to know what exactly pharmacists do that requires 5 years of training. This ignorance on my part is a bit shameful, seeing as the founder of one of the national US chains of pharmacies went to the Consort’s university, and their pharmacy program is considered very good.

I completely understand the craft and knowledge and time that were required back in the day, when a doctor’s prescription had to be compounded by hand by the pharmacist, who mixed powders and liquids into medicaments for the patient.

But in today’s world, where large pharmaceutical companies manufacture and package the medicines we are prescribed by doctors (after lunch visits and special gifts delivered by pharma reps), so that at most, a pharmacist seems to be a pill counter and bottle labeler, or, perhaps, a take-the-blister-pack-off-the-shelf person, I wonder WHY, after seeing my doctor fax the prescription to the pharmacy of my choice, and giving that pharmacy 30 minutes (a bit more than the “15 to 20 minutes” they always tell you it’ll take when you bring them a prescription to fill) to get the darn blister packs off the shelf, when I arrived, the pharmacist was doing a cosmetics exchange (isn’t that what your darn cosmetics counter is for???), and told me that yes, she saw the fax come in but she hadn’t had time to fill the scrip yet, so it would be…

…FIFTEEN TO TWENTY MINUTES until my prescription was ready?

YES, I made my displeasure known. Although I didn’t, as I wanted to, suggest that I go behind the counter and get my own darned medicine seeing as filling prescriptions for people who weren’t there was so much more important than filling the scrip of the person standing right there.

But I believe my cranky response is more than forgivable.

You see, my prescription was for Diflucan.

25 March 2007

The Butterflies Say: Mhuway su' balay!*

Highway shut for butterfly travel

The migration is only one of two mass butterfly movements worldwide...
Taiwan is to close one lane of a major highway to protect more than a million butterflies, which cross the road on their seasonal migration.

...Taiwanese officials conceded that the decision to close one lane of the road would cause some traffic congestion, but said it was a price worth paying.

"Human beings need to coexist with the other species, even if they are tiny butterflies," Lee Thay-ming, of the National Freeway Bureau, told the AFP news agency.

Three of Four, this one's for you. Your comments** in my post the other day bummed me out, only because I agree with you. It's not happening here, but at least someone in the world is looking at the big picture!

*"Thank you!"
**I don't know how to link to the comments, so go to the post, and then click on the comments link.

23 March 2007

SP10 Contest #1

Several of the Secret Pal hostesses, including mine, are running a contest right now. It’s Friday, I’ve got nothing scintillating to blog about, Spring Break is coming to an end (*sob*), so here is my entry.

1. You must have your questionnaire posted where your pal can easily find it.

I posted my letter just a few days before this round started, and you can read it here.

2. I'd like to see what you're all working on! Please make a post, where you pick one of your favorite current projects and explain why you love it so much! What yarn and pattern are you using? Who is it for??

One of my favorite current projects”?! Hah! I am typically a one-project-at-a-time gal. I did spend some time last week knitting some stuff for my spoilee (to be blogged about another day). But really, the only thing I’ve been working on lately is this:

Looks like a big glob of nothing, right? Wrong! Here’s a closeup:

Do you see it yet? No? Well, how about if I zoom in a bit more and boost the color (you may have to squint your eyes, too):

See? It’s three scallop shells! Yep, I’m probably about halfway done with the Fiber Trends Seascape Shawl. I’m using KnitPicks Shimmer in Deep Woods (I find it humorous that I’m making a sea shawl in woods color). It’s variegated, so I’m afraid the design won’t be as visible as it could be (and dang it, I warned myself against using variegated yarn in a lace project when I finished my socks last spring! [I should pay attention when I give advice]).

I’m enjoying this project because I’m learning so many new skills: it’s my first full-length lace project, I’ll also have to make I-cord (which, believe it or not, I’ve never done before), and do some picot edging.

And it is going to be for me. Me, me, me!

Now, to get it finished before the season’s over…

22 March 2007

"Subject to Debate"

We have been subscribers to The Nation for as long as we have been married. Over the years, we’ve tried giving it as a gift to a select few, but it seems no one in our family is as enlightened as we are (or, perhaps another case of keeping the peace within a household?). I have, in fact, freaked out a family member when I noted that I get my real news from The Nation. “Don’t you think they’re a little biased?” I was asked. Hell no! They are the only journalists who are willing to call a spade a spade, and I am glad to get that little packet of newsprint joy every week.

Well, I am glad to get it every week, but the joy comes not so much from the articles (which are wonderful, when I have a chance to read them), but from the Katha Pollitt columns and the Frank W. Lewis cryptic crossword puzzles.

I truly believe that, as long as I do The Nation’s cryptic puzzles, my brain is doing Olympic training in Alzheimer’s Prevention. (My worry is that, because Frank W. Lewis recently celebrated his 98th birthday,* I’m not 100% positive he’ll be around until I reach 80. That would be very bad, indeed.)

Katha Pollitt is the only columnist, anywhere, I read religiously. I figure that even if I don’t get to anything else in a particular issue of The Nation, the fact that my subscription dollars go to subsidizing the salary of an unabashed feminist and straight-talker is enough to take the sting out of the weekly columns written by that whacked-out neocon, Charles Krauthammer [*Hack! Ptui!*], that my local newspaper forces on me. (Yes, I know, I don’t have to read them, but … that face … that spooky holier-than-thou dried up old prune of a face! It’s enough to haunt one on the nicest day of spring.)

This is all a very long intro to saying:

If you haven’t read Pollitt's piece in the most recent issue (by the way, the content is all free at thenation.com, and no sign-in is needed), please take a moment and read it now. You won’t regret it. (Let me rephrase: You may not all like it -- or you may not like all of it -- but you can't deny that at least it’ll make you think.)

Europeans Do It Better

*Maybe I’m deluding myself and it was his 100th, I don’t know. Let’s not talk about it, OK?

21 March 2007

Word Wednesday: Adjectives Are Not Nouns

Welcome to today’s edition of Word Wednesday. I would like to discuss something that has irritated me for a long time. Ahem.

It isn’t botique (“bow-teek”), it is boutique (“boo-teek”). If that’s too difficult for you to say, then, please—for the love of all things mellifluous—just call it a shop.

Heckler: Hey! That’s pronunciation, not language use!

What? No. It’s a mis-use of language….

Heckler: This isn’t an appropriate use of the “Word Wednesday” label! I want my money back!

I assure you, if you do a quick online search for botique, you’d be shocked at how many links come up…

Heckler: Excuses, excuses! What kind of a scam are you running here, anyway?

Now, listen, you—

Heckler: Re-do! Re-do! Re-do!

Oh, all right, then! I’ll find something else here in this sheaf of notes …*shuffle shuffle* … Aha! OK, you rude person, here’s something that’s being misused more and more lately:

“Have you been to Saudi?”
“When I lived in Saudi, we used to …”
“The meeting between Palestinian factions began this morning in Saudi…”

People, can we please go back to calling it “Saudi Arabia”? I mean, it’s only five syllables, the same number as in “The USSR”, and we used to say that all the time. Five syllables is not so much. Think of how lucky we are that nothing newsworthy happens in Equatorial Guinea!

Saudi is an adjective. From the name Muhammad bin Saud, the man who began it all back in 1744. (And aren’t we lucky that in 1902, Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud re-captured Riyadh, the Al-Saud dynasty's ancestral capital, from the rival Al-Rashid family. Otherwise we would have been very tongue-tied saying Al-Rashid’s Saudi Arabia [sort of like Ruth’s Chris Steak House].)

You don’t go visit an adjective. You don’t live in an adjective. And peace meetings are not held in an adjective. They’re held in a place. Saudi Arabia. Say it. Saudi Arabia. Type it. It’s a good mouth workout (and typing workout). Don’t short-shrift your speaking/typing skills. Saudi Arabia. Our language shouldn’t always reduce to a common denominator. Saudi Arabia. Words need to make sense.

And Saudi (n.) doesn’t.

(Not-so-random segue: To the person in Riyadh at server address 212.24.224.# (Gulfnet KSA ZAJIL) who got to my blog yesterday via a technorati search for "trixie teen" +"amateur softcore": I may not know what the precise Wahhabi punishment for onanism is, but I'm guessing it's pretty nasty. But that's nothing compared to what I would do to your sorry ass if you come back here again. Understood?)

19 March 2007

"Spring Break": A Pondering

Some people stay home during Spring Break.
Some people travel to far off lands.
Who has more fun?

Some people choose their vacations for action and adventure, feeling the thrill of fast living in dangerous places:

Some like to try exotic foods,

prepared in traditional old-world style:

Some search for art in the everyday, knowing that a little afternoon light can turn any scene into something beautiful:

Some like to see wild animals, and remember not to feed them (especially the rarely seen Pasta-Lickin' Dog)

But whatever they do, people on Spring Break like to enjoy a delicious meal with their family:

Some people stay home during Spring Break.
Some people travel to far off lands.
Who has more fun?

Copycat Crafter

The problem with visiting hardcore crafting sites, I find, is that I very quickly adopt whatever these crafters make as the next “must make” item on my list. For example, if you browse the archives of soulemama or disdressed, you’ll notice that these folks like to make bags. Out of fabric (not leather or plastic). On their sewing machines (well, OK, and their sergers). They talk about strange materials called Timtex. They make it look easy.

So for the past three months or so, I’ve had this niggling desire to make a bag. I’d go through our collection of market shopping bags several times, looking at how the straps were made, considering the alternatives of no bottom (just two pieces of fabric sewn together) or deep bottom (with a width to the space inside the bag [does that make sense?]). If I had a moment to spare, I'd make an inventory of random fabric scraps I had in my messy craft closet, figuring out how many would work to make a sturdy sort of bag.

Then, I actually measured my favorite bag, to get a sense of how much fabric, how much interfacing, etc., I would need if I were to reproduce it. A coupon I received in the mail from the local fabric store, combined with some free time, completed the slippery slope I had been building up for myself to slip down. And slip down I did.

I made a bag:

I used some leftover fabric from my Christmas apron-making. I used some stiffer duck (it's a type of fabric, people -- jeez!) for the bottom. Also, because I don't have a serger, I lined the thing with some calico:

I told my conscience (aka Impera) that I was making this as an experiment, and that I already had a recipient in mind. Good thing I told my conscience, otherwise I would probably have been tempted to keep it for myself. This was very fun to make, and only took about two hours to put together. Plus, I think it would be quite handy for a Farmer's Market run:

(What, don't you all keep half-gallons of organic milk displayed in your dining rooms?)

18 March 2007

17 March 2007

Spring Break, My A**

Originally uploaded by friuduric.

We had temperatures in the 70s last week, my friends.

Today, this is what we see. (It'll be all gone tomorrow, but still!)

Why can't we have Spring Break a bit later, say, in April?

16 March 2007


Sorry I've been a bad blogger. I was busy finishing two projects up yesterday, and this afternoon I went and had a massage (a birthday gift from Split Sister, Three of Four, and Cowgirl, way back in January; THANK YOU, guys!).


  • I smell of coconut (and I don't mind)
  • We're having nachos for dinner, with nary a super vegetable in sight (and I don't mind)
  • The Consort and the girls have had a full day (aka a "crazy day") of World of Warcraft questing (and I don't mind)

    Now, where's the bottle opener? Tonight, I feel like having some wine.

    What a perfect way to start Spring Break!

  • 14 March 2007


    There was a friend of Trixie’s whose family would do Hi/Lo at dinner every night: What was the high point of your day, what was the lowest. Here are my Hi/Lo from last night:

    Going to the all-city invitational middle school music concert last night and seeing so many different kids doing something they love: playing music. Being happy that I live in a multicultural city where I would see:

  • Every continent represented. From helping out in the schools, I know a number of them are first-generation immigrants, too.
  • The Surfer Dude (although where he catches wave here in the midwest, I don’t know) playing violin.
  • The two girly-girls playing bass.
  • The kid with the shaved head (except for a small topknot’s-worth, which was strategically laying right down in front of his eyes) playing viola.
  • Girls represented in all instrument sections, even the traditionally “male” percussion section.
  • Boys represented in all instrument sections, even the traditionally “female” flute section.
  • Watching the percussionists move from snare drum to xylophone to snake shaker, all within a single piece.

    The two-days’ worth of warm weather we’ve had, which means all sorts of people are spending more time outside and thus I would hear:
  • Speakerboxes booming at 9:00 pm.
  • Cars honking at 9:30 pm because the drivers are too lazy to go ring the darn bell.
  • Big dogs barking at 9:45 pm, because their owners figure it is warm enough out that they can stay out there for a while.

  • 12 March 2007

    Secret Pal 10

    Dear Secret Pal,

    Welcome! Please, make yourself comfortable. This is my third round of Secret Pal, and you can see how I’ve answered the questionnaire for Round 8 and Round 9. You can also browse the labels Secret Pal and Exploits in Crafting (I've just made the switch to New Blogger, so the back-labeling thing has been a bit of a pain). I’ll try to incorporate any changes in the questionnaire in this letter.

    As you will soon notice, we are planning to spend the upcoming school year in lovely New Hampshire. The Consort will be spending his sabbatical year (he teaches university) writing a book, and, both of us being East Coasters, we have been missing real mountains, so figured this was a good way to get our mountain “fix”. Our two girls, however, have adopted the Midwest (despite both having been born in California, and having lived in New Jersey and North Carolina in their wee days), and they consider the upcoming year as The End of The World As They Know It (And It Ain’t Fine) (not really, they’re starting to come around). I said “As you will soon notice,” because, although I haven’t yet talked about this on the blog, I am starting to freak out about the mechanics of the move. We have to CLEAN THIS PLACE UP (meaning, mostly, ALL THE CLOSETS AND THE BASEMENT, OH, AND THE LIBRARY, AND THE LIVING ROOM AND THE KITCHEN) so we can rent it out while we’re gone, we have to FIND A PLACE TO LIVE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE (this may be a bit of a problem because the landlords have to BE OKAY WITH A DOG, A CAT, AND A RABBIT), we have to GET THE GIRLS REGISTERED FOR SCHOOL OUT THERE, making sure that THEY CAN KEEP UP WITH THE PROGRAMS THEY HAVE STARTED HERE.

    Yes, and let's not forget WE HAVE TO FIND RENTERS FOR OUR HOUSE!

    Phew! Sorry for shouting; like I said, I’m starting to worry a bit.

    Anyway, this means that I’m having to rethink my upcoming knitting. So I will give you my wishlist, but I’m seeing this wishlist sort of like the Christmas list you make up when you’re six years old, and it’s 67-items long, and Santa probably won’t bring you anything on it anyway, because, really, at six years old you don’t quite understand the concepts of “excess” and “decadence”, and “living within your parents’ means”, but the fun part is writing it out in all its glory. Yes? Okay, here goes:

  • I would like to own a ball winder. I know nothing about brands, quality, things to look out for, but I did notice this one, which was on sale last time I looked.

  • I have purchased the Simple Knitted Bodice pattern. But I don’t have the yarn. They suggest Tilli Thomas, but that stuff is $38 per skein, and there is NO WAY I would ever wear something that cost that much in materials; so I’d totally be expecting a different yarn choice. It looks like I’m right between the size L and XL, and I would make the long-sleeved version. In olive (because I have no imagination) or maybe a dark blue – a lapis lazuli-type color? And, I'm totally not into sequins. Crystal beads, yes, sequins, no.

  • I also have the Winter 2006 Interweave Knits, which I got because of the Nantucket Jacket on the cover. I’d want to make it long-sleeved (it’ll be chilly in NH!), so I’d need more yarn than they say, and I’m thinking, oh, how about a nice Cinnamon Stick color (like I said, no imagination), but again, a different yarn selection would be perfectly fine (I’d be making it in the 46.5 version).

  • I really like the idea of socks, but mine are always a bit big. I would love to do a toe-up pattern, if you know of a good one.

  • I’d also like to try short-row heels (I’ve only ever done heel flaps).

  • Of course, sock yarn to go with these patterns would be swell!

  • Do you have any idea of what I could do with one skein of worsted lorna’s laces?

    Oh, by the way? I seem to be an extremely slow knitter. I started this sock on Super Bowl Sunday (February 4). I’m not even done with one! (Oh, and the Hogwarts colors? Not done on purpose.)

    Although part of that is because I’m working on a lace-weight shawl (which I’m not going to post a picture of just yet). Doesn’t look like much yet, but, hey, I’m up to 236 stitches per row, and I started with 6.

    Thank you for reading, and I look forward to SP 10.

  • My New Favorite Way to Cook Eggplant

    1. Preheat oven to 375.

    2. Wash your eggplant.

    3. For each 1.5 lb. eggplant, peel 3 cloves of garlic and slice them longways into 4-5 pieces.

    4. Make slits around the eggplant and stuff each slit with a piece of garlic.

    5. Place on a baking sheet and roast for about an hour.

    6. Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, cut off stem end, peel off skin, and chop up.*

    Why it is my new favorite way to cook eggplant:

    a. No peeling raw eggplant (the peeler always gets stuck in the eggplant flesh).

    b. No oil needed to fry up eggplant cubes.

    c. The garlic pieces. After the hour in the oven, you get sweet, roasted garlic bits in with your chopped eggplant. Yum!

    * I roasted some whole potatoes at the same time. The chopped egplant and cubed potatoes then got mixed in with sauteed onions, cumin, tomatoes and peas, and it turned into an Indian-style stew. With fresh homemade yogurt swirled in. (And rice on the side.)

    09 March 2007

    Too Much Info

    There is such a thing as too much information.

    Our culture is not as polite as it used to be.

    Put those two bits together, and you get trashy news. The news outlets are racing to the bottom, and today’s example is the publication of the pillow-talk emails sent by the two lovers in the Lisa Nowak / NASA love tryst imbroglio. I won’t be posting links because, first, it’ll be easy enough for anyone to do a quick search to find the articles I’m talking about, and second, the links, being news links, probably won’t last forever where they are now.

    Here are the newsworthy facts. A married woman with three children had an ongoing affair with a co-worker. Her husband moves out. At the same time, her lover leaves her for another woman. She falls apart, makes a cross-country journey to either confront her rival, kidnap her rival, or kill her rival—who really knows at this point?—and becomes front page news. She remains on the front page because she is an astronaut (well, because she’s a woman and an astronaut), and because her lover is also an astronaut.

    Is this really news? No. It could be, if we learn something about the stresses of the culture of NASA, or if we find some weakness in the psychological support provided (or not) to people serving in the armed forces, specifically in the space program, and take steps to fix those problems. Otherwise, it’s just a personal affair of the heart.

    So could someone please explain to me the necessity for the world at large to have access to the personal messages sent back and forth by the two bystanders in this fiasco, the lover (William Oefelein) and the rival (Colleen Shipman)? Their family, their co-workers, and especially all of us strangers, don’t need to know how they corresponded with each other or how much attraction they felt for each other.

    I felt this same repulsion with the secondary news accounts that came out of Abu Ghraib. Lynndie England was having an affair with Charles Graner. Yes, this was worth knowing, because they were both involved in the inhuman treatment of Iraqi prisoners, and their relationship explained why England was front and center in some of the more infamous photos, and why she had access to parts of the prison that someone with her job normally shouldn’t have. But what use at all was it for us to know she was pregnant with her boyfriend’s baby? None at all. It was just titillating gossip that everyone, even the New York Times, felt was newsworthy. *

    Relationship gossip about the human failings of people who make poor choices is not news. I wish more news outlets remembered this.

    *I even emailed the Public Editor, because at the time I thought they would take a question about the approriateness seriously. Unfortunately, they didn’t. I just got a pat response from the assistant to the Public Editor, not really addressing my question at all. That was the last time I paid any attention to the Public Editor at the NYT. Pffft.

    07 March 2007

    Twenty Dollars

    For all my big talk about living alternatively, I’m as susceptible to the ravages of age as the next person. For example, back in December I went to an actual hair salon rather than one of those “Quick Cuts” type places that I’ve always gone to. Because I wanted to look (as) good (as I could) for the big family Christmas. While there, I cursed once again the two bands of gray I have over my ears. It’s not noticeable until I put my hair up, but those two bands wash out any vivacity I have and make me look, yes, old. Yuck.

    The stylist suggested color. I noted my previous bad experience with hair dye (when I first started noticing gray)—the brown faded to red, and I was forced to continue dying so as not to have a bright dye line as it grew out. Implied in all this was the fact that there was no way I could spend the money on a professional dye job, on a regular basis. (I solved the dye dilemma by getting one professional dye back to my original dark brown [which meant that I looked like Elvira until the black faded to brown], and then swearing I would never *ever* dye again. I would just live with the touches of gray [this was before the arrival of the Bands of Doom].)

    Then the stylist whispered the word “low-lights”. This is the same thing as highlights, but you foil a darker color, rather than a lighter one. I had never heard of this. I was intrigued. “Only $5 a foil,” she whispered. Then rang up my sale of haircut (twice as much as the Quick Cuts price), fancy-pants shampoo, and conditioner (I was visiting family and wanted to look good, remember?).

    Through all of January and all of February, every time I put my hair up before going to the gym (the gym with perky co-eds, remember), I’d see the Bands of Doom and think, “Old!” Followed by the memory of a whisper, “Low-lights…”

    Today, I went and, as well as getting another non-Quick-Cuts haircut (the salon sent me a discount coupon for my birthday, the sneaky bastards), I got four foils of low-lights (two for each band). The stylist suggested a few foils along my part to cover the gray there, but I stood firm. It’s not gray in general that bothers me, in fact I like my gray. It’s those Bands of Doom that I hate. So “we” only did those four.

    It looks terrific! I love it. I am hooked and I’m not looking back. The gray is still there over my ears, but it doesn’t call attention to itself.

    But I suddenly have the strong urge to sew up a couple of dirndls out of recycled fabric to make up for this…

    Last SP 9 Package Arrived!

    Originally uploaded by friuduric.

    You may remember that my Secret Pal in the previous round was planning a vacation in New Zealand right at the end of the exchange, and we agreed that the last package would arrive technically after the end of the exchange, so she could include things from her trip.

    Well, we just got the box, and are we all spoiled! Imagine if you will a selelction of Cadbury chocolate treats, which I didn't photograph because my herd swarmed them like they hadn't eaten in three weeks, and the remainder would have made a pitiful sight. Look at that very cool handpainted boucle yarn for me, and the cute Paua shell necklaces for the girls. The color choices were superb, Secret Pal!.

    And, feast your eyes on those lovely coasters with Paua shell decoration. We've been needing coasters for a long time, but I just couldn't bring myself to buy the melamine things I saw everywhere. These are gorgeous, Secret Pal. Thank you so much!

    06 March 2007

    In Which I Speak Without Thinking

    Friends, I think I made a mistake this morning. And I fear it will come back to bite me in the butt.

    I was on the phone with my mother, and we were chatting (Which is a miracle in itself. Most of our phone conversations end up with me making monosyllabic answers; my mother is Queen of Details, and my life is not so interesting that I can be asked more than once a week, “So, what’s up?” and have something new to say). She asked if we had seen any good movies lately (Which she rarely does. We don’t normally have the same taste in movies, I don’t watch the TV shows she does [The Today Show, Oprah, Blah blah], and I am way more to the left of the political spectrum than anybody else in the family).

    “Yes!” I said. We watched Little Miss Sunshine this weekend, and I thought it was really very good. Alan Arkin definitely deserved the Oscar for Supporting Actor, and I totally agree that the writing was worth an Oscar as well. I’m sure everyone else in the known world has already seen it, but in case one of you haven’t—go out and rent it. I’m sure you’ll like it.

    Sure, Alan Arkin’s language is not peppered, but dripping, with fuck!s, but that has never stopped me from letting the girls hear that on screen (It’s not like I have ever been able to keep a clean mouth for more than a few hours anyway.) Sure, the grandpa snorts cocaine, but it’s not like the character gives you a “how-to”, and the two scenes where powder is visible are short and he never acts high in front of his granddaughter, and he’s got a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he’s become a cocaine addict at this point in his life.

    Sure, Uncle Frank (played by Steve Carrell) has just attempted suicide and the family is now on a suicide prevention watch, but his character is very open about what’s going on in his life, and there’s no melodrama to it. (Plus, Steve Carrell is fabulous in this role. A depressive gay Proust scholar, what more could you want?).

    I love the tenderness in the three supporting male roles (crotchety grandpa, suicidal Uncle Frank, and the classic teen angst-ridden older brother). It sneaks out at just the right moments to turn these characters into something beyond the stick figures they could have been under a less well-written screenplay or by less professional actors. I really think everyone should see it. (And, the beauty pageant denouement is beyond good. Olive’s routine was just perfect. Perfect!)

    Except … well … (warning: spoiler coming)

    The grandfather dies halfway through. So I’m afraid my mother won’t like it. See, when Richard Harris (the first Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise) died, and my mother asked me if I had heard, I said, in all naivetĂ©, “Well, yes, but at least he lived a nice full life. He didn’t die young, and he was part of some very good filmmaking.”

    “What?!!!! He was only 72! I’m not that far off you know!” At the time, she was 61, folks. But the idea of death is definitely more on one’s mind at the age of 61 than during one’s late 30s.

    Ooops. Maybe Three of Four or Split Sister can watch it with her. Oh, and, guys, make sure you watch it with her early in the day. Because I really think the movie is a must-see. But, I think I might have stuck my proverbial foot in my big fat mouth. (Which I realized only after our phone conversation was over, of course. Darn!)

    05 March 2007

    Rosqro the Rat, July 2005–4 March 2007

    It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Rosqro “Rossi” the Rat . She died quietly in her sleep during the night, after having enjoyed Saturday evening watching Twelve Angry Men with her family. The death was unexpected and quick. Her owner, Trixie, shed many tears despite her family’s assurances that there was no blame to be taken in this death.

    Saved from an infancy of despair as a potential snake meal from a local pet shop, Rosqro grew up with a cheery disposition. She was always looking for fun, and her easy-going nature won over everyone who met her. She never complained that her name was misspelled more often than not (her name, spoken “Ross-cue-roe” would often be written R-o-s-c-u-r-o, despite the fact that it is perfectly within reason for it to be spelled, as it should be, as Ros-q-ro). She was always happy to eat the apple cores and vegetable bits brought to her, and loved to clean off her office-mate’s desk of cracker crumbs whenever she was let out for a romp.

    Rosqro will remain in state at the Chest Freezer Morgue until spring thaw allows for a proper burial in the garden.

    Cheerful officemate, exuberant playmate, faithful confidante. She will be missed by all.
    Rest in Peace, Rossi.

    01 March 2007

    A Use of Barbies I Can Live With (edited!)

    There's a conversation going on at The End of Motherhood about raising enlightened children; and as one would expect, the subject of Barbies came up. After Impera was born, my mother ended up having to buy her new granddaughter clothes from the boy section of the clothing store, because I was adamantly against dressing my girl in pink.

    Time passed, and I refused to accept Barbies, as gift or otherwise. Family was warned. Hell hath no fury like a mother superceded, they knew, so no one crossed my path.

    But then.

    But then, we introduced the girls to garage sales. We'd give our little 3- and 5-year-olds 10 cents, or 25 cents, that they could use on a typical Saturday jaunt. They would learn how to hold off buying the first thing they saw, we figured. They'd realize that it's not necessarily the first garage sale that has the best loot. They'd also learn to bargain (although that bit backfired when adults would melt when asked by a 4-year-old how much a HUUUUUUUGE stuffed hippopotamus [bigger than her] cost, and they'd tear off the label that said $5 and respond, "Oh, I think this one is selling for ten cents!")

    In this way, they began to acquire Barbies. These Barbies had seen better days, and had a habit of falling apart. (I reneged a bit on the Barbie gift embargo, but the vast majority of their Barbie stuff is second-hand, at best.) Let me introduce you to some of them:

    The princess has lost an arm, but that doesn't detract from her personality; our surfer dude used to have a stiff neck, and he learned that not getting with the groove just resulted in a torn-off head, so now he's a lot more laid-back; Blondie has long braided hair, and doesn't let her goiter problem, let alone the loss of her limbs, to detract from a fun life; Cherry-Dress girl survived an attack of the rabid Monster Dog, but still has a smile on her face; and Tutu Girl is a terrific mentor in learning to live a perfectly good arm-free life. (Even the Barbies aren't quite sure how to tell Headless Girl that she's going around naked and using a leg [not the cane she thinks it is], but they figure, heck, if she's happy, that's all that matters.)

    Now, the Barbies have decided to grab life by the horns and live life to the fullest (thanks, in no small part, to the miracle of Duct Tape). Which is why you can see them in a production of Barbie the Vampire Slayer*; written, produced, and with cinematography by Impera and Trixie. (It's actually a flickr set. Not a video. Sorry I wasn't clear! - PI)

    Because, as long-time readers know, we're all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    *Note: Understand that although the casting for the part of vampire is regrettable, it really was the only option, seeing as the girls have a total of three Kens, and Joss Whedon and his group had already defined the look for Xander and Angel through their own casting decisions.