Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Parents of teens: What would you do?

My Girl has been babysitting for a year now. She works with a family that lives nearby so she can walk there. They have 3 children, 15 month-old twins and a 3 year old. She is more of a mother's helper than a sitter, as there is always one other adult there. Sometimes it's the mom or the day, but mostly it's Grandma. The Girl loves this job, and she's very attached to the babies. Tonight she came home and said that they had let her bathe the twins and put them to bed all by herself, so they're grooming her for sitting on her own. Which is great, and I really support this for several reasons, chief amongst them that she's earning her own spending money. She's definately learning the value of a dollar, and this makes me happy. I also think that it's important for young women to know what taking care of a baby is really like, and to learn realistically that it's not like playing with dolls. I also want her to know about changing diapers and feeding babies so when and if she has her own children, she'll feel comfortable about those tasks.

I babysat from the time I was 11 until I was out of grad school, and I think that's probably the reason why I didn't go through a lot of the new mom shock that so many other mom's go through. I took care of a newborn from birth until he was 19 months old, so I knew first hand all of the infant stages of poop and vomit, etc. My eyes were wide open going into this parenting thing. And that's been very helpful for me, as I'm hoping it will be for the Girl.

Today, when she got home, she was all excited. The family has to attend a wedding on Cape Cod in 3 weeks, and have asked her to go with them. She'll care for the twins while the older child and the parents attend the ceremony and reception. I think she can handle this, and I'm fine with it except.... the mom never asked me. She asked the Girl before she mentioned it to me, so now I feel like we're committed to this. I think she should have checked with me first.

I'm excited for the Girl, as this is a great opportunity for her to make some serious spending money, and it will be fun, too. The babies aren't tough to handle, they know her very well and like her, and she's very psyched to do this. I think it's great but.... there is this nagging thing that says, "Hey, don't I have a say in this?" I know it's part of her growing up that the Girl gets to make plans without my consultation, but this is going away for an overnight where she's going to be wholely responsible for the twins. I know she can do it. That's not the issue. I have implicit faith in her resources, and I know she knows how to ask for help when she needs it. She'll be fine. It's me... I'm not so fine.

Is this a separation thing, or is this just me being overprotective? I'm not sure. But it's going to eat away at me until the mom calls me and tells me the plans. I need to know what hotel they're staying at and what the room configuration is going to be. I need to know about how the Girl is going to get food, and if there is some downtime for her to explore the beach or anything fun. I need to know what they're going to pay her so I don't think they're taking advantage of her.

I just need to know the plans.

Man, I'm such a mom.
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Friday, September 29, 2006

Shilling for eX-Links

From the people who brought you BlogMad, kinetiq is rolling out there next project. eXlinks.net is a exponential link growing site. They are not giving out the details on how it is going to work until it launches but rest assured, it definately has potential. They say the key is in the algorithm. I don't have a clue as to how it's going to work, or even if it IS going to work, but I was an early adapter of Blogmad and I've been so pleased with them, I've removed all the other traffic-growing sites from my blogroll. I only surf Blogmad when I'm looking for new blogs, and there are plenty of interesting ones to view once you refine your viewing options. (I got rid of all the righty, pro-Bush blogs!)

eXlinks looks to be a great tool for bloggers, webmasters and marketers to increase incoming links and boost page rank or traffic.

By signing up now, you are guaranteed a spot in the beta rollout. So try it. You might love it!

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Betrayed by our government

On Thursday, the 28th of September, the United States Congress
declared itself officially invalid.

This will not be reported factually in any mainstream morporate mews media. It is clear that the corporate media outlets have no interest in the reality of U.S. Law. You will see reports from the mainstream media today touting that the Congress has passed Bush's Terror Bill. What they will not tell you, is that by passing this bill, the U.S. Congress has officially abdicated it's right to govern.

This is a dark day for United States, darker perhaps than we have seen in the last half a century. Darker even than Watergate and the Vietname debacle. Those who understand the implications of the United States Constitution will know that we are now operating completely without representative government. The Congress, by voting such on this Bill that is blatantly in violation of the United States Constitution, has declared itself an invalid and illegal body of governance.

Don't believe me? I'm not surprised, but that doesn't make it any less true...

From the Constitution, Article 1, Section 9:

"The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases or Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

This is immediately followed by the statement,

"No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed."

If you are not familiar with Habeas Corpus, let me direct you here, here, and especially here for an explanation of this part of our constitution. The following statement, pertaining to ex post facto law, means specifically that the Congress is NOT AUTHORIZED to pass laws that retro-actively allow crimes to go unpunished.

The attempt by the Congress to pass ex post facto law, authorizing the President's use of illegal torture tactics, is unconstitutional in and of itself.

Simply because the majority vote was secured DOES NOT MEAN this law is valid, or that it can be legally enforced in the United States of America.

What the congress has done in this instance, has been to drive a wedge between themselves and the people of this nation. They have assumed collectively that the President's personal ideas hold more validity than the voice of the people. This is an incorrect assumption. They have not polled the people, they have not allowed the people to vote, and as far as I know, they have made no effort to find out what their constituencies support with regards to Habeus Corpus. Where was the discussion? Where did the American citizens get to voice their opinions, other than in the blogosphere. And where in the Blogosphere did they get the idea that people actually support this corrupt lying government negating the US Constitution? The law of the land. Where? When?

Article 5 states clearly that the Constitution may be amended, HOWEVER, specifically, "NO AMENDMENT WHICH MAY BE MADE AFFECT THE FIRST AND FOURTH CLAUSES OF IN THE NINTH SECTION OF THE FIRST ARTICLE..."

It doesn't get any more specific than that. In Article 5, the section of the Constitution where Amendments are outlined, and the process to Amend the Constitution is laid out (Amending the Constitution is the ONLY way to change it legally), this wording is there to specifically protect the right of citizens!

So where does the torture bill specifically conflict with the Constitution, you may ask? Simple, the very next article down, number 6, includes not only the War Crimes Act, but the Geneva Convention Accords when it states without question that: "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding."

A warning to the Congress of the United States of America.

"We, the people, understand and defend our constitutional rights. If you choose to fore go our rights in the interests of your self or your party leader, you forsake your actual employers, and you commit treason against your country.

You commit these acts at your own peril, and in absolute ignorance of the words written to you by the brave men and women who founded this land of Democracy.

The people are not outside of the law in abolishing the Congress, should we so choose. The Congress IS outside of the law in attempting to stop such an abolition, after the evidence displayed yesterday, laid out within this article.

We will not tolerate the degradation of human life, we shall not accept torture as a policy, we do not 'buy your premise' that torture 'helps' our nation, and we have every General currently serving in the United States Armed Forces, and every General retired in the past decade backing our rightful claim to the governance of this nation.

This is not a threat of illegal action, this is a reminder, that the law protects the people, even in the event of the collapse of government.

If you, the members of Congress, think you can argue this issue, against the will of the citizens of this land, I will certainly see each and every one of you this November at the polls. Should our votes be stolen, I will see you in the courts willingly. Failing that, in the name of the United States Citizenry, and our Rights to Freedom, Due Process, and Self Governance, I will meet you in the federal courtrooms. I will do this legally and validly. Millions will rally to the cause of freedom, and this government will be reclaimed FOR the citizens, OF the citizens, and BY the citizens.

The choice is entirely yours, United States Congress. It is you who act outside of our law, and who defy our constitution. It is you who attempt to validate ex post facto law, and to ignore the War Crimes Act, International Humanitarian Law, and Geneva. You do so at your own peril, both politically and morally. You do so without the support of your constituents, and you do so against the law of the land. You assumed that the citizens of this country were too apathetic or stupid to care, but you're wrong. I care. Millions and millions of us care. And we vote. But not for you, Congressional thieves.

It is you who have abdicated your power of governance. You have until November to set things straight. After that, I'll be waving to all of you in the unemployment line, those of you who are lucky enough to escape serious jail time for your crimes against America, that is.

I will leave you with the most important words you can read today, U.S. Congress. They were written specifically for you. Pay them heed, as they are not a threat. These words are a promise, once fulfilled in full with the blood of our fathers. If necessary, this promise will be validated again."

From The United States Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Such has been the patient sufferance of these citizens of the United States; and such is now the necessity which constrains us, and bids us alter our former System of Government. The history of the present President of the United States of America is a history of repeated injuries to the citizenry and usurpations of governing power, all having in direct object the establishment of absolute Tyranny over these free States. The Congress has joined in these crimes of their own free will. This has been proven, and the facts have now been submitted to a candid world.

History will judge us all, both the Congress and the voters. Please contact your senators and representatives and let them know how unhappy you are with this terrible turn of events. If they voted for this crap, let them know you'll not be voting for them come their reelection. Make sure you make it clear that you do not support going against the US Constitution. Oh, and write the White House and well. Not that it does any good, but the more actual letters (snail mail, not email is what counts) they receive, the more they have to log in your protests. Let your voice be heard loudly and clearly.

  • To read the Constitution of the United States for yourself, go here.
  • To read the Amendments, go here.
  • For the Declaration of Independence, go here.
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Lost Discussion Thursday

OK, it's really Friday. So sue me.

Did you do your homework and watch the clip I assigned last week? Let's discuss, shall we? I liked the ending a lot, where the filmmakers seemingly got caught eavesdropping on the "meeting". I thought that led to an authentic feeling. But what did you all think of the hints in the clip. I feel like we all have a bit of a better understanding of the Hanso Foundation and the history of the experiments on the island. Plus it gives more of a complete picture of the different experiments and what failed. I liked that this was 'leaked' before the new season starts.

If you haven't had the time or energy to watch last season's DVDs in time for the Season 3 opening next week, take a look at this site, which has some great spoilers, hints, mysteries solved, etc. It's a fun site.

In case you've forgotten, here's a summary of the Season 2 finale, "Live Together, Die Alone," which took place after 65 days on the island:

  • Desmond reappears, drifting back to the island on the sailboat that Libby had given him in a flashback. "Why'd you come back?" Jack asks. "Do you think I did it on purpose?" Desmond replies.
  • Desmond declares, "We're stuck in a bloody snow globe. There's no escape!"
  • Locke and Eko argue about the validity of the hatch and its omnipresent button. "You're a slave to that, just like I was," Locke says. "It's not real; we're only puppets."
  • Kate thinks the Others are disguising themselves to make the castaways "think they're hillbillies," when they might be far more sophisticated.
  • Michael admits he is leading Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Jack into a trap so the Others will return Walt.
  • Sayid, Jin and Sun sail to the other side of the island and discover a statue with only four toes.
  • Shot with paralyzing darts, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and Jack are captured.
  • Desmond believes that he and the electromagnetic field of the hatch crashed Oceanic Flight 815.
  • With Desmond's help, Locke blocks Eko from the hatch and lets the clock count down to prove that it was all a nightmarish psychological experiment. Eko gets dynamite from Charlie and tries to blow open the doors, without success. The hatch explodes like a mild atomic bomb, turning the sky a deep violet.
  • Henry Gale appears to be a leader of the Others. When Michael asks, "Who are you people?" Henry claims, "We're the good guys."
  • Henry releases Hurley and tells him, "Your job is to tell the rest of your people that they can never come here." Then he instructs one of his assistants to put hoods over the heads of Jack, Kate and Sawyer.
  • The Others give Walt back to Michael and send them off into the horizon in a boat, supposably back to the real world.
  • Charlie and Claire kiss and make up after a season of bad behavior from Charlie.
This site has complete transcripts of the episodes if you haven't had time to watch every one, or if you need some prep work before next week.

This site had a lot of interesting information, like who is Alvar Hanso's daughter. It also has this post, which gives you plenty of reading on the meaning of the numbers....

Here's a fun QUIZ you can take to find out what a dedicated Lostie you are. What was your score?

Here's a teaser for you. Boone is coming back. I'm not sure if it's just in flashbacks, or how he appears, but he's in the cast for the upcoming season. What do you think they'll do with his already dead character?

My comments: I don't believe that Michael and Walt will ever escape from the island. I think that they'll have a lovely tour of the island's circumference and will end up at the Lostie beach, where they'll be treated as outcasts. Especially by Hurley. I don't think I would want to be on his bad side.

I think the numbers will end up being something fairly benign, especially if they do equal the julian date for March 1948 as the speculation on the 'net seems to believe.

I think the rivalry between Sawyer and Jack will escalate as they try to escape with Kate from the Other's hideaway. Plus, I am guessing that they'll learn enough info about the Others to confuse us even more. As old mysteries end up being solved, new mysteries will start to appear.

I can't wait for the new season. In the meantime I've been watching Heros, which I like a lot. I think it could be an interesting as Lost. And I love the Japanese transporter guy. Man, is he adorable or what?

What are your theories for the next season? Anything you need to get off your chest before we start with the updates and commentaries?


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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Naming names on your blog can haunt you later

There was a rather chilling article in the Boston Globe today regarding blogging that got me to thinking and worrying. All of us vent, and as bloggers, we use our blogs as a public forum for venting about people that annoy us. Some of the braver bloggers amongst us, and I don't count myself in that mix, name the names of those that annoy us. Oh, I tend to blather on about politics and I certainly use the name of political figures often here in Margalitaville, but I don't tend to name names of my coworkers or neighbors or other folks that I can bitch and moan about.

We're all familiar with the dooce phenomenon. Heather Armstrong, known as Dooce, was fired from her job when her employers found her blog and read all about themselves. Since then, being dooced has become a blogging term, and it's happened to countless people. Most of us have learned to be very careful when blogging about work, although I read one blog often that is all about a person's job. I'm just waiting for her to be dooced, because she's fairly transparent about herself and her coworkers. Not my problem.

However, according to the Globe article, people being hauled into court to testify about their venting rants on their blogs are finding their words are coming back to bite them in the ass. So far, I haven't had to appear in court to face printouts of my blog, but there have been certain posts where I could imagine such a scenario happening. That's making me very uncomfortable and I've found myself going back to look at what I've said. So far, everything has been anonymous to the majority of my readers, but not to the people I've been so stridently crucifying here. Had there been a law suit, I could see my words being used against me in some manner. Which scares the shit out of me.

What about you? When you're ranting, is it apparent to the people you bitch about that you're writing about them. Do you write things with easily identifiable descriptions about your neighbors or your kid's teachers? Have you bitched about something that could come back to bite you?

I'm planning to be more careful in the future.
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Keith Olbermann bashes Bush in real style

Have you seen these two snippets currently featured on YouTube? The first is Bill Clinton's interview with facist Chris Wallace on Fox Crap "News". Wallace tried mightily to ambush Clinton and blame him for 911, and Clinton finally said what we've all be thinking for so long: Fox "News" is biased, shills for the Bush administration, and lies like a rug. Clinton was fabulous. He attacks where it's relevant, he explains rationally and calmly, and he just evicerates Chris Wallace and the Bush administration. If you haven't yet watched it, sit down with a cuppa and have yourself a few minutes of fabulous political parlaying.

Then, watch Keith Olbermann's commentary on the Wallace/Clinton interview, where he stands up for Clinton and then goes to town on Bush, calling him many fabulous names like crazed and a propagandist and then saying that Bush is the worst President since James Buchannon. It's just unreal. FINALLY, someone comes out and says what Bush is really all about, a lying sack of shit surrounded by bullys and sychophants to do his dirty work.

There's one more Olbermann clip that isn't yet on YouTube (or I can't find it), but here it is on photobucket. Honestly, this man should get the Nobel Peace Prize or something. He is just not letting Bush get away with anything anymore, and than goodness that someone is finally standing up and telling the truth. You gotta wonder if the nutty rightwingers have a hit on Olbermann.

All of these clips are not to be missed. They'll give you a glimpse into the future, when the truth starts to pour out and people in the media stop hiding behind their networks and start telling the truth about what a sham our government is.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another major milestone today

Sometimes I still think my children are toddlers with pudgy hands that grab for mine as we cross the parking lot. I see them crumbling cookies into the sofa, drooling on the cat, climbing onto steps just to jump off them, and looking to me for guidance and answers to the many renditions of "Why?"

And then I wake up and realize that I'm in an Ambien stupor and my children are really independent people with lives of their own. They still need me. Who would make them dinner if I weren't here? Who would nag them incessently about the dirty pair of ankle socks that have been on the front stairs for three frigging weeks that nobody will claim? Who would protect them from stupid teachers and rotten administrators? Yup, they still need me.

But what they want isn't a nagging mom. They want a sugar daddy. Because when every other sentence starts with "Dude, you know what I want? I want...." then what they really want is someone with a huge fat wallet full of $20 bills to soothe their aching desires. That is so not me. I'm the queen of "no".

But sometimes you gotta break with tradition and go to the store and actually buy them stuff, for they continue to grow, the ungrateful wretches. Today was such a day. We had to return something to Marshalls, and get the two of them 'school shoes'. Thank God they have FINALLY outgrown the need to wear sneakers everywhere. I'm so not a lover of the sneaker. Even the Boy's Converse All Star collection is starting to wear thin. Needs trump desires, so off we set to my local bargain emporium.

The Girl only wanted ballet slippers. Fine, let her freeze her little toesies off. She picked out a pair of gold lame and a pair of silver lame. Evidentally she thinks she lives in Las Vegas. They were cheap, so we went with the gold. They're actually adorable with jeans.

The Boy is in love with his Converse board shoes, but they have actual holes in them so they had to be replaced. He wanted the exact same type of shoe, but ended up with some Tims in a sorta-kinda same style.

The Boy also needed a white shirt for Yom Kippur. He refused to wear plain white, and that's ok with me. As long as the shirt is mostly white, I'm happy. We looked and looked and finally found a shirt that we could all agree upon. But it had french cuffs. French cuffs! Lordy, my baby is becoming a man. With french cuffs go cuff links. Is that one word or two? Who knows, because I've never had the slightest bit of interest in cuff links in my entire life. But we needed a pair and Marshalls had a few on sale, so we looked. He picked out the most expensive ones right away but settled for the cheapest, which are perfectly acceptable square silver and will be fine.

However, my heart isn't fine because this is yet another big milestone for me. This summer was the time when he officially grew out of boy's clothing and started looking in the men's department. This isn't easy for me. For some reason, when the Girl moved from children's to juniors, it was less of a shock. Maybe because men's clothing looks so much older and bigger than children's. No more trucks and froggies on his shirts. He's a man. He wears a tallis. He has several ties.

But his hands are still pudgy and he still hugs me every single night before bed and tells me he loves me. Best of all, he still sits in my lap. Yes, he is way too big, but I don't care. He's still my baby.
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Maybe I'm related to Marie Antoinette?

Although I have much more of a sweet tooth than I care to admit to my physicians, we don't keep a lot of sweets in the house. When my kids want candy, I have them buy stuff I hate, like Swedish Fish and KitKats so I won't be tempted at all. It usually works well, but there are those days when I have such a hankering for something sweet I can barely think about anything else. Why are sweets so damn addictive? Why can't I learn how to wean myself off of them for good? Why do I need to have sweets sometimes, and other times I can wave them away (not that I do, but I could if I wanted to.)

Tonight I had such a frigging jones for cake. I just wanted pound cake. Chocolate marble pound cake. No frosting. Just nice, heavy pound cake. You know, a pound of butter, a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, and maybe 10 pounds of pure fat on you butt pound cake. Unfortunately, I have not been to the grocery store in 3 weeks, and we are low on food. Low would be putting it mildly. We're kinda outta some food, and we have plenty of other food. Milk? Gone. Eggs? Gone. Butter... not enough for a pound cake but enough for toast. If we had bread, but we don't because the bread machine fried and I can't really get into store bought bread. Except for Iggy's and I can't afford to eat onion foccacia every day. Nor can my butt. I need a new bread machine.

The thing is, I was too damn lazy to make a cake, even with a mix. Because I'm perpetually tired these days. Plus, I do have children that can follow simple directions on a box most of the time. They can help bake a cake. I make dinner, they can bake, right?

Wrong. They would not bake me a cake. Not the meyer lemon cake mix, not the chocolate cake, not even scones or muffins. Because they hate me, and also because they are lazier than I am. What does a household do when everyone is so lazy that we just hope someone will ring the doorbell with a cake. That could happen. Really it could!

Even when I bloop and pretend to cry, they will not bake me a cake. They are mean children and I no longer like them. I ask for so little... the garbage taken out once a week and the cans returned to the yard. Dishes washed nightly. Replace the toilet paper roll (like that's EVER happened) and put the seat down on the toilet. Clean your room at least once a quarter. Help me fix the garbage disposal when it breaks down (daily event) and of course, laundry. Is that too much? Am I too demanding to expect two 14 year old kids to do simple chores?

Then why will they not make me a cake? Am I not deserving of cake? I think I am. All I want is cake. Or cupcakes. Or even scones or muffins. A baked good. A danish. Something sweet.

Tomorrow, when I pick up our prescriptions at the dreaded Walgreens of Hell, I will buy myself M&Ms and I will not share them. They are going to be MINE. All mine. Heh Heh Heh.
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Monday, September 25, 2006

What the hell happened to women?

You all must have noticed that women have drastically changed in the past 20 years. It isn't that feminism is dead, per se, it's more like feminism is kinda hibernating, waiting for someone to stand up and bring it back to life eventually.

Instead of smart, thinking women as role models, we've got Paris Hilton, who admitted she's dumb. We've got a bunch of dim-witted celebs, and we've got Oprah. Me, I'm not groovin' on this example of feminism at it's best, 2006-style. I don't like what my daughter has picked up on as being important to women. She can name about a million designers, pick out a pair of jeans on another woman's butt from 20 paces and name the brand, tell whether a purse is a real or fake Louis Vuitton, and name every actress on every TV show she's ever watched. But she cannot tell me about the reproductive rights debate, or the glass-ceiling issue at the workplace.

Lately, there's a lot of press, blogging and media, about the Brazilian. Who has one (Lindsey Lohan), who is getting one, who has tried one and said never again, and best of all, whether it's a full, landing strip, or arty design. It's alarming but amazing to me that an entire generation of women want to go back to looking like prepubescent girls. How did THIS become a fashion statement? I'm not against a bit of a trim and a cleanup in the bikini area during the summer when it's not all that cool to have a beard hanging out the sides of your bathing suit. Heck, I'm right there with you. But having some complete stranger waxing my cootchie? Nope, not gonna happen in this lifetime. But it is happening a lot on teenage girls, and that bothers me.

Maybe, just maybe, this new product will be the next fashion statement for those women of a 'certain age' who need a bit of a vajayjay overhaul. Because we all know how important it is to look like a natural redhead not only on top of your head, but where the truth is revealed.

Gack! What the heck is wrong with women that we feel the need to dye our pubic hair, for those that still have public hair. When did the pubic area become an area that needed updating and change in order to be appealing? I've heard that labiaplasty (NSFW) is the latest must-have plastic surgery. We're cutting and waxing and dying our way back to being a tweenager, prepubsecent and supposidly sexier. Isn't this akin to admitting that men are more attracted to very young girls, so we need to make ourselves over to appeal to this depravity?

Why do I think Germaine Greer is rolling over in her grave whilst Gloria Steinham is working on a new radio venture and has yet to face this crisis amongst women? We need a new hero, women. And it isn't gonna be Condoleeza Rice or Anne Coulter. We need someone to represent women. Any suggestions?
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Large iced coffee...cream and no sugar

See the title? Large iced coffee, cream and NO sugar. That's pretty clear, right? I mean, I order it at least a few times a week at the same Dunkin Donuts on Needham St. It's always the exact same order.

Large. Iced. Coffee. Cream. And. No. Sugar.

This is not rocket science. It is a large cup of ice with coffee and cream, hold the sugar. It is not a demanding "I want a skinny soy pumpkin Venti latte with 3 shots, no whip..." That might be hard to remember, especially if your English skills are limited to almost nothing. But an iced coffee large with cream and no sugar. If your job is to make coffee all day long. You should be able to make this, right?

Well... it's not quite that simple, evidentally. Every frigging time I go into my local Dunks, they get the order wrong. Sometimes I get hot coffee with no cream and sugar. Or maybe an iced coffee with cream AND sugar. Or a small iced latte with sugar. Or a Mocha Latte. You never know. Because what you order and what you get have absolutely no relationship to each other.

I used to think it might be because I talk fast, so I slowed my order way down. "I'd...like...a...large...iced...coffee...with...cream....and...NO...sugar...please."

Well, that was a pipe dream. I still got various coffee drinks, but not what I ordered.

Today I asked for my usual, a large iced coffee with cream and NO sugar. I got the large. I got iced coffee. I got cream. And I got sugar.

I'm a diabetic. I really don't want sugar. But they can't seem to understand this. I don't ask for regular, and I emphasize NO sugar. Really I do. But I get sugar all the time.

I used to return the drinks and ask for it to be made correctly, but I gave up on that right quick. Because they would just screw up the next one, and then the one after that, and eventually I'd end up with a hot coffee because I just gave up.

We have another Dunks close by, in the Highlands, but that one has a creepy clientele, so I try not to go there. However, the Needham St one happens to be right next door to Newbury Comics and since the Boy thinks that he should live there instead of our home, we tend to spend a lot of time there. They sell baseball cards, you know.

There is no manager to complain to at Dunks. Or, if there is, s/he sure isn't in plain sight.

The thing is, I like that Dunks. It's kinda a joke now, the "Guess what drink Mommy is going to end up with today" game. But geesh, someone give these poor people some English lessons. They really need to understand simple orders in order to do their jobs.
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Wave bye bye at the people, honey

When my kids were little, like toddler age, I couldn't take them anywhere. Granted, there were two of them and only one of me, and being outnumbered all the time, even by crafty 2 year-olds was kinda embarassing. But still, they ran in different directions, both had the devil in them, and they thought it was hilarious to watch me trying to run after them. Hahaha. Plus, they were LOUD. Oh, so freaking loud. There was no volume control at all, even after I called the hospital to ask where it was. Imagine my shock and horror to find that shouting WAS their only volume.

Once they got a bit older, I started taking them places again. The easiest place was shul, because they could run up and down the long hallway, and go outside into the courtyard with a bunch of other kids and play Mother May I. It's ok in synagogue for kids to come in and out, as long as they're quiet and respectful. So in and out they did come, leaving tot shabbat and then Jr congregation to check out what was going on in the main sanctuary.

But there were still problems. The Boy tended to melt down if he couldn't get his way, like in Boston Chicken asking for both chicken and macaroni and cheese, something we don't do (mixing milk and meat in the same meal). Besides making sure that we never entered a Boston Chicken again until he was about 12 solved that problem, but the meltdowns still did happen.

When we moved back from CA to MA 4 years ago, it was easier taking them most places, but the Boy, man he is a tough one. There was a period of time, before all his neurological issues came to light, when I couldn't really take him places at night because he would get so wound up that he just monopolized the conversations. He would go at top volume and never let anyone get a word in edgewise. This certainly didn't go over well with most people, but especially with members of my own delightful family, who had no patience or understanding at all about his issues. It was tough, because the more he wanted to fit in, the more he talked, and he just didn't get what a pest he was. And we've never been invited back. No, really. It's true. We're totally shut out, even on holidays.

So we worked a lot on social skills and being more open to other people's opinions, etc. Not that he's perfect, not by a longshot, but he's learned over the years not to be such a monopolizer of conversation, and not to argue incessently, or to correct people's grammatical errors. This has made him much more likeable. So we can go places and he can behave without meltdowns, and without driving everyone else nuts. This is a HUGE step forward.

Tonight we had dinner at a friend's house for Rosh Hashona. Well before we left, he asked me if it were ok for him to take a small dose of his ADHD meds. Wow, that was a major breakthrough for him. Major! He actually acknowledged to himself that he needs to settle down right when his meds wear off, and this was so great for me to see. He took his meds and was absolutely charming this evening. Quiet and well mannered, very polite, and very respectful of others in the conversation whilst participating himself. He did a great job.

But the greatest job was sight unseen until after we came home. Our friends have a 16 year-old autistic son who has some pretty severe emotional issues. This past summer he spent 8 weeks at a special camp where they worked on his social skills as well as manners, behavior management, and basic conversation. He got back and started a new school in a sheltered program that emphasizes social skills and behavior management. The change from last spring to this fall is very noticable. He's doing GREAT. Really really great.

The Boy spent time with kid upstairs on the computer and game cube, and usually it's a real chore for him because of the kid's issues. The Boy, who has known this kid his whole life, is very good about being understanding and trying hard to get along. But tonight the kid asked the Boy if he wanted to play, which was different. And up they went and spent a couple of hours doing whatever they were doing, without an argument and without someone hogging the game controller.

When we got home, the Boy said to me, "Wow mom, A's social skills are really much better. He's way easier to get along with and he let me have a turn with the controller without me even asking. It's great to see how much he's improved!"

Which is good. But what really got to me, what brought me to tears, was how much they both have improved, and how much easier it is to have a nice dinner without someone throwing a fit. I'm so thrilled for both of these boys. It makes my heart sing to see that they can deal with their own issues, and boy, they both have them in spades, and yet spend 3.5 hours together and feel good at the end of it. That is markedly different, and for that I'm so thankful.
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Friday, September 22, 2006

Helping unusual children with schooling

Catherine at Her Bad Mother asked for a Call to Action a while back. She wanted to know what people were doing as activists to help make the world a better place. I was hesitant to post what I do, because it seemed self-serving and against the tenants of tzedakah, the Jewish way of giving. But since my clients know who I am, I figured why not give it a whirl.

I've been an activist my entire life. I was a red diaper baby and was born going to protest the injustices of life. I've marched on Washington for Abortion Rights twice, and have attended protests recently against the slaughter in Darfur and Harvard's invitation to the former President of Iraq. As a kid I protested Ronald Reagan and especially Richard (BOOOO) Nixon. I volunteered for MassChoice, the abortion rights grassroots movement in MA. But those political things are not what I'm all about, it's just something I do because I need to have my voice heard when the world is heading towards disaster.

My real passion, and the thing that I do that seems to be the most righteous of my activist activities is to volunteer as an educational advocate for twice exceptional children. What kind of children, you ask? Twice exceptional kids are children that have tested in the Gifted range but also have learning disabilities that can range from emotional challanges to neurological disorders. These are children that are the most ignored and poorly served by the public school system, mainly because the schools can claim that the children aren't working enough below grade level to get services. And most parents just buy that crap and don't argue with the school systems until it is pointed out to them that the schools have a vested interest in keeping a child out of special education. Special education is very expensive, and every child that carries a 504 or an IEP costs the schools much more than another student.

There are many ways that schools can manipulate testing data to deny 2E children special education services. They can 'misread' the testing data, or use tests that will not show the learning disability. This happened to my daughter and I saw first hand what a crock it was. They can also refuse to acknowledge outside testing, and the school psychologists are not really qualified to work with exceptional children. Most don't know about Giftedness, nor do they understand the learning differences that came with a 2E child.

What I do is to help parents fight the school systems. When a parent calls me, I refer them to special schools for outside placement, or I recommend certain testers that work exclusively with 2E children (there are very few of them). I will attend IEP meetings and open my mouth to speak up for families that don't know the educational laws. I research particular school systems to learn what law suits they have had, which are pending, and which might pertain to a particular child. I can arrange at-home tutoring for children that can't handle school because of bullying or for physical reasons. I can help arrange special residential or day programs for children in crisis. I work with both Mass Dept of Mental Health and DSS to find help for families in crisis. I also advise families on how to deal with school systems that are essentially OK, but have teachers that will not follow the child's IEP. This is not uncommon, and can drive parents nuts. If you recall the teachers that tried to do this last year to my daughter, and the outcome, you will remember who was successful. Hint: it wasn't them!

I do this because I'm the parent of twice exceptional children, and I have seen first hand what the school systems have tried to do to my kids. I'm formidable and I will literally fight to the death for my own children. But many parents can't do this. Or won't do this. I was talking to a woman today about her 2E child and his IEP review is upcoming and she was just going to accept the school psychologist's testing. I told her that this was unacceptable for her particular child and that school system. She needs to find outside testing, so I referred her to someone I know in Rhode Island that is a 2E specialist. The testing will be much more accurate and the accomodations will be better suited for her child.

This past weekend I was researching and recommending special schools for a child that was forced out of his schools collaborative and the superintendent "forgot" to inform the parents. When school started, this child had no place to go. So the parents are terribly upset and the school system realized it's screwup and gave them three schools to chose from. Well, those weren't the BEST schools for this child's particular issues, so I spend hours researching which schools might be better, which schools have rolling admittance, and which schools would take a child that age.

I love doing this. It's the best work I've ever done and I can't even begin to tell you how much it means to me to hear that a child I've helped has gone on to success in a new school setting. This is really a gift from my heart and I invite any of you who have 2E children to contact me if you need help with your particular schooling situation, even if you homeschool.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

L' shana tova

As the Jewish New Year approaches, please allow me to wish you Happy New Year. This Friday night starts 10 days of repentance. It is the Jewish New Year called Rosh HaShanah and culminates 10 days later in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a solemn day of fasting and praying to G-d to forgive us our sins. During this period we contemplate our lives over the course of the past year and ask G-d to forgive us for our sins against G-d, and the people in our lives. In our tradition, we must also seek the forgiveness of those we harmed or hurt in any way. In between Rosh HaShonah and Yom Kippur are the Days of Awe called Yamim Noraim, a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are written in on Rosh Hashanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. The actions that change the decree are "teshuvah, tefilah and tzedakah," repentance, prayer, good deeds (usually, charity). These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Accordingly, I am asking everyone in reach of this post to forgive me for anything I may have done or failed to do this year which brought any grief or hurt whatsoever. Including words said on this blog which should not have been said and failing to act when I should have acted. I wish each of you, your families and love ones, Jew and non-Jew alike, a year of health, peace and happiness. I pray that there will be peace in the world and that we can learn to live together as brothers and sisters.

L'Shana Tova
May each one of you be inscribed for blessing in the Book of Life.
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Something has been bothering me

I've had something on my mind for a while now, and it's just getting to me. Recently I had a conversation with someone who told me that he didn't read newspapers or watch the news because it was 'too depressing' and he really didn't want to hear it. I'm sorry, but this is just blind foolishness, and I just do not get it.

What it seems like, at least to me, is that people with that attitude are so self-absorbed that they can't see outside their own little sphere because if it doesn't involved them, well, then maybe it's just not worth their effort. For me, an avowed news junkie, I can't understand how anyone can turn their back and close their eyes to the rest of the world. There is so much good going on in the world, for sure, and although the media tends to overemphasize the negative, pretending that there isn't a world beyond your own little life is ugly and selfish.

How are children supposed to learn compassion if they can't see the way the rest of the world suffers? Recently there was a program on PBS about 7 children from different countries and their schooling. There were children from the poorest nations that struggled so desperately to get a second grade education. Then there are our kids, who get a free education and mostly don't appreciate how lucky they are. If they could see with their own eyes how much the third world struggles just to find food and shelter, then maybe they could grow up with a sense of obligation to the world and not just to consumerism.

How can a person vote if they don't read newspapers or watch the news on TV? Are they choosing on looks? On clothing? What criteria does an adult have if they refuse to learn anything about a candidate? And more importantly, doesn't it scare you a little that someone who is ignorant of the candidate's platform is voting in the first place? Do you think this is how Bush got into power?

Can you tell me why a person is proud of their ignorance? This guy said that he doesn't like to be informed. It doesn't matter to him. He says has enough stress in his own life (and believe me, his life is pretty picture perfect) and he doesn't need any more. Puhleese! There is such a thing as being a responsible global citizen. And there's such thing as being a self-absorbed neophyte. Me, I'm into being and raising global citizens. I want my children to understand different cultures and ethnicities. I want my children to get that we live in a global society, whether we like it or not, and as global citizens we must attempt to understand even what we don't agree with.

Finally, I wonder how a person that professes that ignorance is bliss can live without knowing what is going on in their own community. It's bad enough ignoring the entire world, but when you don't read a newspaper or watch the local news, how do you know what your neighbors are doing? How do you understand things like where your tax dollars are going and why? How do you live in a community and not know who the heros are, who are the people that save lives, who your neighbors are that need help? How can you live like this? I'm sorry, but I think this is a reprehensible attitude. There is just no excuse for ignorance. None.
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Oh lordy, when things go awry

Today I had a 'important' conference call. Isn't it interesting that what other folks deem 'important' is often, to you, really not all that important? The point being that I had already gone through this particular document that we were discussing, had edited it, had a meeting about it, and had agreement on some of the changes. But when we had the conference call today, the call that was supposed to be a half hour in length, but actually ended up being an hour and forty-five minutes long, the changes we had agreed to were not in the document. Grrrrr. What's worse? I have no headset, and so I had the phone tucked between my chin and shoulder for the entire time.

Now, my shoulder, she is on fire. FIRE, people. Fire.

Because the call went on so much longer than I had expected, the rest of my day fell way behind. I had to cancel a doctor's appointment, I didn't have anything ready to make for dinner, I hadn't tracked down the Girl who was very late coming home, and I had paid no attention to the Boy, who was home sick with a terrible migraine. Plus I had promised him we could go to the Apple store and return his IPOD which has already broken. Those things are such lemons. We now have 2 broken Ipods at home. And I still have NOTHING to wear to shul this weekend and had hoped to make a trip to Marshalls because the Boy has outgrown every dress shirt he owns...again.

Then, as I was making dinner I see that the Boy commendeered my blog and decided to post. I knew I should never had shown him how.

So now I have to play catch-up, but we have a conference call every day, and I need to be able to keep them to a reasonable amount of time. It's painful otherwise.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Boy is Back

And now, back by popular demand, it's The Boy! (cue inspirational talk show music).

Hello ladies and gentlemen this is the boy. For those of you who don't know me very well, let me fill you in, I am amazing, incredible, stupendous, fabulous,smart, gorgeous, and just a little teencie bit egotistical.

I can't really say why I'm posting on my mom's blog, except that it is out of boredom. I have been well lately in case anyone is worrying about, which I'm sure you are, Right?

Anyways, I guess I'll tell you about today. I woke up feeling like crap, I got dressed, I went downstairs to get all my stuff together for school, and then the migraine started up. It was one of those headaches that just starts up and then does not want to go away no matter how much Tylenol you take. And then the nausea came (blechhh), don't you just adore nausea, isn't it wonderful. So I called in sick and proceeded to go to sleep until noon.

After I woke up I played my xbox for about 45 minutes which made me slightly less miserable but made me bored. So then I went back to sleep until 4. when I woke up I went outside and sat on the porch with mom until the girl got home at 5. I have pretty much been watching TV, and surfing the net since until I decided to post this. I hope my complaining doesn't bore you, because that would bum me out. Dinner is on the table so I have to finish up. So I bid you all farewell and goodnight (exit stage left, cue inspirational talk show music).

The Boy
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Go Deval, Take a hike Kerry

Deval Patrick won the primary tonight, making me one happy camper. But Kerry Healy? She's already attacking him. She's dirty politics at it's most sickening. She's the Republican we all love to hate, and she deserves that hatred in my opinion. She needs to get her mouth washed out with soap on a daily basis. She's untrustworthy, she's constantly playing up the negative, and like every other Republican I can't abide, she believes that the word liberal is a bad word. Frankly, I believe that the people of the commonwealth are sick to death of the Romney/Healy neglectant style of governing, and she's not going to be our new governor. I sure hope not. I'll work for Deval Patrick to slay her campaign right back the the sewers she belongs in.

Can you tell how much I hate her?

The candidate I voted for didn't win for Lt. Governor, but I'm happy with who did win. The Mayor of Worcester, Tim Murray is now going to be our Lt Governor Democratic candidate. I was supporting Deb Goldberg, but I'm really not complaining. Murray is a good guy. I just wanted a Jewish woman to be in power in our state, and I liked Goldberg's record in Brookline, and her empathy for the less fortunate was obvious.

What a fabulous ending to Talk Like a Pirate Day, right me scurvy mateys?
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Aaarrrrrrrrrrrr, me mateys

Today be Talk like a Pirate day. Avast swabbies and make sure that you don't get to walk the plank by talkin' like those blundering British. Your job ahoy is to plunder, pillage, and otherwise show your piratude. Aye Aye, Maties.

Did you watch the opening of WifeSwap tonight? This is an account of the real story by Mad Miss Sally, the pirate wench highlighted on the show.
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Monday, September 18, 2006

Painful Primary leadin

Today is the Massachusetts Primary. We have a governors race, a Lt. governors race, and some smaller state offices. No senators or congressmen this time around. There are three major candidates for governor: Deval Patrick, Chris Gabrielli, and Tom Reilly. I am a rabid supporter of Deval Patrick. He's the best of the three, by far, and for once, I'm not voting for the lesser of two evils. I really like the guy and I believe that he gets the decimation that the Republicans have done to this commonwealth in the past 10 or so years. I also believe that he will be a governor that is present and accounted for day after day, unlike our current governor Mittens, who spends most of his time either cutting some social service or running for President out of state.

As in most places, the weeks leading up to the primary are filled with commercials. We only had one real unpleasant bout of negative ads, and guess who started it? Why Kerry (the beyotch Lt Governor) Healy, who started attacking Chris Gabrielli because he stands up for stem cell research. Her accusation? That he only put a positive spin on stem cell research because he owns large blocks of stock in a biotech company that could profit from the passage of a stem cell bill. Ulterior motives on Gabrielli? I don't really care. I need the research for my diabetes. Healy got shot back by Gabrielli who accused her of being anti-elderly (amongst one of many groups she has worked hard to disenfranchise and defund) and quoted her saying that the elderly were 'overhoused'. Oh yeah, they should be sleeping under the overpasses like the homeless? She's a head case.

My kids just can't take any more commercials. Gabrielli's two mottos are: Solving Problems. Getting Results. We don't know what the problems are, and we sure don't know if his solutions are good or bad results, but I guess that doesn't much matter. He so does not have my vote.

The third of the demo triumverate is Tom Reilly, the statehouse insider, former Lt Governor, former District Attorney, and all around greasy Irish pol. His ads like to point out that he has lived in the same house in Watertown for 26 years. Big frigging deal. Does that make him fit to lead? He also put out a negative ad saying he was the only one of the three candidates to submit his income tax return to public scrutiny. Silly me, I don't much care how much a candidate made and what his deductions were. I care about what they're going to do for the state. He's ranking last in the polls, and for good reason. He's a jerk.

I'm excited to vote for a candidate that is leading the polls, that I actually like and believe in, and he actually has a great chance of winning. Plus, if he ends up running against Kerry (the beyotch) Healy, he's going to be our next governor. Which would be so excellent!

So, if you live in MA... go and vote. Don't forget. That's DEVAL PATRICK.
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Lost Discussion Thursday is moving here

If you're here from The Reign of Ellen, and wondering if I am going to host her Lost Discussion Thursday, yup, I am! Although she didn't make any real plans with me, I'll probably do just what Ellen has been doing, posting my opinions on the show, and then opening it up for comments. I promise I'll make my initial post shorter than the comments I usually make on Ellen's site because I don't want to scare you off, and I hope to attract a lively audience that has lots to say on this third season of Lost.

In preparation (and no, this was not planned) we've been watching Season 2 on DVD for the past week. Shout-out to Netflix for sending us the disks quickly. I'll try and do as much of the past season this weekend and next week so I'm fresh for the October premier of Season 3.

The week before the premier, I'll do a catch-up session of Seasons 1 and 2 for those that are new to lost, or have forgotten some of the more salient points. In the meantime, you have homework. You must watch this. And we'll discuss it on Thursday.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping that Ellen feels better and will return to posting quickly, because I'll miss her a lot. I'm sending her my best vibes. And a smootch!

I'm so psyched. This is my first time having a regular weekly topic!


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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Amazing Race roundup

A new season of my absolute favorite reality show started tonight. There were 12 different groups to start with, and in a tip of the hat to Survivor, there were a lot of ethnic couples amongst the contestants.

They started off in Seattle, arriving by floatplane to be greeted by Phil and to start the race. First clue tells them to get to the airport and book one of two flights to Beijing, China. What a great start to this race!

There were 6 couples on the first, United flight, and 6 on the second Korean Air flight. There was supposed to be an hour's difference between the two flights landing, but it ended up that the United flight was delayed and landed late, equalizing the couples.

They had to get a taxi and find a restaurant, and because there was a roadblock only one person could compete. They had to pluck fish eyeballs out of fish heads and eat them. I guess they weren't as gross as other eating challanges because nobody barfed.

From the restaurant they had to get a cab to the Forbidden City and find a specific gate where they would get a time for the next leg of the challange. The times were 7, 7:15 and 7:30, with 4 of the first two, and 3 of the last time. The last group to come in got to pick a Last Team tag and were eliminated even though it wasn't a pit stop. Team Koran lost this leg, and were sent packing.

At the specified times each team had to hail a pedicab and choose either to learn and perform a type of Tai Chi Gong dance routine, or to build a brick square in the market place. Two teams, Team Gayboys and Team Cheerleaders chose to do the dance. All the other teams did the brick work.

Once they finished their tasks, they had to take a cab to the Great Wall which was the first pitstop. They had to climb up the side of the great wall using a climbing rope with legholds. Team Disabled had a lot of trouble with this, but made it up in great time and came in 3rd. The first team to come in was Team Druggies, former drug addicts and male models. Team Hicksville, the coalminer family from Kentucky, did a lot better than we thought and ended up in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, Team QuickyMart, the Indian couple that I really liked, came in last and were eliminated.

Team ChowMein, the two very buff Asian brothers, are going to end up doing well, but they didn't have a great first start. I think they have to grow up a bit and start relying on their wits.

Teams I didn't really care about were Team BeautyQueens, comprised of Miss NY and Miss California, Team Cheerleaders, Team Cohaugs, the father and daughter from Rhode Island, and Team Hiphop, the two black women who were going to 'git it ON' with Team Disabled (woman with prosthetic leg and her prosthesis maker/boyfriend).

As we get further into the season, I'll learn more about each Team, but for now, I'm sort of rooting for Team ChowMein now that Team QuickyMart were voted off.
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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Two heads not necessarily better than one

I've mentioned before that I blog elsewhere for my job. Sometimes it's really hard to switch back and forth between the two heads I need to have to do this. My work head is filled with research and finding all sorts of technical stuff related to security and identity authentication. It can be dry at times, but mostly it's interesting verging on frightening. Every time you see one of those stories of credit card hackings and internet fraud, that's what I'm working on. But when you blog for a business, you can't blog the way you think, just blurting out words like you can on your personal blog.

I like to think that much of what I blog about here is thoughtful and not just rolling in off the top of my head, but heck, we all have those days when there is just nothing. Nothing at all. Life isn't always filled with interesting tidbits, and sometimes what is out there is either overblogged to death, or of little interest to an international audience. Because I've seemed to have gained quite an international following. Why? You got me. But I do.

One obvious difference between work and personal blogging is vocabulary. You just can't swear on a work blog. It's a no-no, and even replacement words like frigging and fricken are frowned upon. I've never been told that by my employers, but it's obvious, right? Well, I think so anyways. The other thing that is different is comments and stats. I am so not into caring about the stats of the work blog. The people who read it are interested in that topic, and that's probably a limited set of folks. Stats are never going to break dooce's record and that's fine with me. Ditto for comments. I get comments, but my coworkers are there to respond. I don't have to with every comment. Phew!

I like blogging for work. It's a lot of fun and because it's a topic I'm fairly passionate about, I feel like I can cover the entire range of discussions, from biometrics and international identity cards to MySpace abuse. But when I'm in a space to blog about security, I'm so not in a space to switch over to blabbing here.

Which is a very long-winded way of saying "I've got absolutely nothing."
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I guess it had to happen eventually

Today the Boy discovered Iron Maiden.

Donations gratefully accepted for payment to the asylum where I plan to be heading soon.

Iron Maiden? What did I do to deserve this?
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Thursday, September 14, 2006

It's been quite a while

I can't even recall the last time I posted about the Worthless Pet. He's been especially Worthless through the summer, spending the vast amount of his time either outside keeping the back yard clear of all offending bugs, rodents, and other scary things, or sleeping upstairs in the hottest place he could find. But, as all good things do, there has been a real clear end of summer this week. It's been chilly and today it rained.

Worthless Pet firmly believes that rain is all MY fault, and I should be punished for it. It it's warm summer rain, he'll go out and wander about and then slip under the front porch for a nice private snooze. But when it gets chilly, well then we all should suffer because he's distressed at the temperature change. And suffer we do.

This morning I awoke to the stench. You know, that really stinky smell that lets you know right off the bat that they are annoyed with you and will continue to tell you this with every single ounce of their furry little bodies. My boy, he peed right in front of the spotless litter box. Not IN the box, in front of the box, all along the wall.

Using Simple Green and paper towels I got the worst of the mess cleaned up, and then sprayed with an odor neutralizer. Which sorta kinda works on a good day. Which was not today.

Then I noted that he had also sprayed someplace in the dining room area. I don't know where because the floors are dark wood and so I had to spray the entire perimeter of the room. It sorta worked, but not...not so much. So I'll be spraying again, and using all sorts of extremely expensive products that supposidly discourage further marking. Does it work? Not really, but if you have to toss money away, why not do it at PetSmart?

I just don't get why this damn cat has to do the same thing EVERY spring and fall. Like my children, he doesn't seem to transition well. When spring arrives, he'll mark up the whole house until he's allowed outside for long periods of time. And then when fall arrives and it's cold and he needs to spend more time indoors, the same damn thing. You would think he would get a clue, as he's about 10, but NO. Because he is a Worthless Pet. But at least in winter he gets so desperate he allows you to hug him for maybe a minute or two.
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Brigham and Womens has podcasts

My cardiologist at Brigham and Womens Hospital is featured on a podcast on cardiovascular health here. There are also podcasts on infertility and osteoarthritis.

I think this is so cool. For many people it is very difficult to go see a doctor right off the bat. It's a lot easier to listen to a podcast and get some general information about the signs of a disease, and how to fight that disease using diet, exercise, and simple tips.

A few years ago, the only contact you could have with your doctor was by waiting for a return phone call. Now you can email your physician and get a response fairly quickly. All your records are available online, which can be quite scary but patients can't get into those databases. But isn't it a ton more convenient when your doctor can look up all the correspondance between the various specialists you see, never mind write prescriptions online and send them directly to your pharmacist.

You would think that eliminating all that paperwork would reduce the price of a visit, but nope, that's not going to happen.

I do, however, like that the hospitals are holding a lot of informational seminars for patients, as well as offering classes on various topics like handling your diabetes, what to expect from infertility treatments, exercise for knee and hip pain, and then of course, there's yoga. Me, I'm signing up for Ways to Improve Bladder Health.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I've been totally remiss, and other matters

Former Texas Governor Ann Richards died today. I'm very saddened by that. She's always been a big hero of mine. She was a tough lady that went far with a big mouth and big opinions and a love of the little guy. For a while, she made Texas less of an embarassment. But of course, that's long gone. While governor she vetoed legislation that would allow people to carry concealed handguns, automatic weapons and "cop-killer bullets." She also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the destruction of the environment over the Edwards Aquifer. Hmmm, gun control and environmentalism. No wonder she only served one term in Texas and was replaced by that paragon of virtue and reformation, the Shrub.


The second televised debate between the candidates for governor of MA was held tonight. As usual, Deval Patrick held steady and came out the winner. I have got to ask, what kind of campaign is it when Chris Gabrielli only says that he's got no platform other than he gets "results". Um, are they GOOD results? Bad results? Results that don't matter at all? We don't know. We do know he gets results, though. And that's supposed to make me want to vote for him. I think not.

Tom Reilly... your head is too big for your body. You look strange. Besides the fact that your yet another Irish pol that's way too intimate with how things are always done in this state. The only time I ever had contact with you was when I wrote you about my experience with dishonest movers when you were the district attorney. I asked you to investigate what these movers had done, not only to me, but to hundreds of their customers, by holding our goods hostage as they 'went bankrupt' only to be bought by another person in their organization. They were crooks, I had all the proof you needed to investigate them. What did you do? You told me to buzz off because your office wasn't interested in this scam. So you lost my vote and I'd never ever even consider you for the leadership of this commonwealth, especially after suffering through Mitt's reign of terror.


Goodbye Toby. I really liked you a lot. I'm glad Delana didn't win because honestly, she's kinda skanky for me. Lukas, I never really got why you were so popular, but then again, I already did 1980 Billy Idol. Please promise me you'll lose those white sunglasses. They are horrible. I think you did a great job with the band, and hopefully this will boost your career. Delana, working with Gilby...um...uck! And now onto The Amazing Race. And Survivor. Because I'm a whore for popular culture and I have to admit, I find the latest twist of dividing tribes by race intriguing. So far, I can't really see it as racist because it is pretty equal at the start. But if the white tribe wins... which won't happen because they are going to merge the tribes. But if it did....

On the topic of reality shows, this summer's Big Brother was so good. But internets... Janelle didn't really NEED that extra $25K prize. Danielle and George both really needed the money. I think they should have gotten it. But nope, it was a popularity contest and honestly, Janelle was shafted by Erika and should have been in the final 2 with Dr Will. The fact that Boogie won, well it's just the way it all turned out. I'll miss Dr Will though. That man is pure entertainment.


Today I was reminded that I've never introduced you all to an integral part of our family, for which I apologize profusely. Internets, meet Bluebear. Bluebear, meet the Internets.

Bluebear has been in our family longer than the children. He was a gift to me years ago, and when the babies came, the Boy got to keep him in his crib. He glommed onto Bluebear with a grip that still exists to this day. Bluebear is well traveled, he's quite the cosmopolitan bear. What he most liked to do is to hang out on the Boy's bed and view the world from the window. Sometimes, like today, he makes it downstairs for dinner, and spends the evening watching TV and smiling. He's always smiling.

Bluebear is kinda flat because for years the Boy used him as a pillow. He no longer has a chubby tummy and exhibits the flattest ass after mine in our household. He's got a few holes made by our former and much less Worthless Pet, and a few worn spots made by extra loving when the Boy got upset. If you look at Bluebear's ear you'll notice it's kinda bent and worn. The Boy used to fold it over with his chubby little hands to comfort himself.

Bluebear will probably attend college with the Boy. I can't imagine a time when Bluebear and the Boy were separated for long periods of time. They kind of go together, even when Bluebear is left to his own devices for days at a time. The fact that the Boy still sleeps with his lovey is very comforting to me.

The Girl also had a lovey, Piggy, but Piggy suffered some severe internal injuries about 4 years ago, and was laid to rest when the Girl was around 10. Piggy was beloved, but not in the same way as Bluebear, nor with the same intensity.
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Lonelygirl15: what a hoax

For months she held many thousands of her readers enthralled with her escapades over the internet. She pretended to be Bree, a teenager and the daughter of very religious parents who was homeschooled. Her only way of reaching out to the 'real world' was through her computer and web cam. And she did a masterful job of spinning quite a tale, hooking thousands who waited breathlessly for her newest installment.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, there were rumors that Lonelygirl15 wasn't really who she said she was. The webcam images were too slick, the episodes seemed scripted, and people started speculating that this was perhaps leading up to some kind of advertising campaign or a TV show or something.

Today, the truth was revealed in the NYTimes. Our LonelyGirl15 is actually a 20 year old actress named Jessica Rose, and the vidposts she created were actually the brilliant idea of two filmakers who plan to continue the site even after it was exposed in a wild internet search for evidence of the hoax.

I always love a good hoax. It's one of the things that I love most about living near MIT, because their hacks are the best evah! I'll go way way out of my way to view a hack. My favorite was the police car placed on top of the dome. It was priceless!

This was a good hoax. It lasted a long time, it drove readers crazy trying to prove that it was indeed a hoax, and it was complex and inviting, drawing in everyone from the techno geeks that Bree was going after to pretty much everyone else who owns a computer. A lot of older teens were watchers, and I've read that it was a very popular site with day traders. Who knew?

I wonder what the next big hoax will be?
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

OK, back to trivial matters

You know what really stinks? And I mean that literally. When you put on what you're sure are clean clothes, and you go about your daily business out and about, and then you notice that, um.... you kinda smell funny. Like your clothes sat in the washer a bit too long before they hit the dryer. So you smell halfway like a dirty dog and halfway like a dirty little boy. It's not pleasant.

The Boy is already having homework issues. It's the third fricking day of school and we've had two major tantrums and one assignment completely undone. This is so frustrating. I cannot impress upon him how important homework is, and how lucky he is to have the opportunity for a free and appropriate education. He doesn't care. He just does not want to do homework. His meds have worn off and I can't get him to sit still, never mind concentrate. We see the Pdoc this afternoon.

We have a new home health aid. Her name is Pentecoster and she's from Cameroon. She made me lunch today. Oh. My. God. This woman can cook! Then I find out that she's taken a culinary course and wants to open up a restaurant once she's brought her husband and children to the US. She's been here for 3 years without them. Three years separated from a 7 year old son. My heart was broken as she showed me photos of her husband and youngest son.

We've all had some weird stomach bug that seems to get passed along from one to the other for days now. You can now call our family the Farty McFartsons. We are not pleasant people right now.

Today I'm fighting with Mass Health again. I actually believe that they only hire employees that are on the bottom half of the bell curve. These are not bright people. No matter how many times I explain the situation, they don't get it. It is getting really depressing.

I'm going to try and win one of those Martha Stewart homes. Not that I want to live in Cary (BTDT) or Atlanta, but those are some nice houses.

Stoked to watch the finale of Supernova. It's nice to let go of the heavy and get back to some rock n roll, isn't it?
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Monday, September 11, 2006

But the tears won't stop

I'm terribly sad today. I thought that it would be easier as time went by, but in fact, it's almost more difficult than it was 5 years ago. The blogging world is filled with tributes to those people lost in the 9/11 attacks and each tribute brings tears anew. When I go through my bloglines and find a blog that doesn't even mention 9/11, I move on. I can't be bothered today with light thoughts about trivial things. Today, for me, isn't trivial at all.

Like so many of you, I can recall to the second all the events of that fateful day 5 years ago. We were living in California, and my friend Claire called me around 6 am and said "We're under attack, turn on your TV." I headed downstairs so as to not wake up the kids, and turned on CNN. I was struck dumb by the horror I saw. The North Tower was in flames, there were people pressed against the windows in the upper floors, and bodies were raining down on the sidewalk below as people jumped to their demise.

Then the second plane came flying over Manhatten, and I watched in disbelief as it too slammed into the South Tower. At that moment it became apparent that this was indeed a terrorist attack, an attack on my country. Then the Pentagon, and Shanksville. It was like a horror movie in slow motion. The North Tower fell and hour and 42 minutes after it was initially struck. Then the South Tower fell. The clouds of smoke and rubble, toxic debris, flew down the streets as people ran from it choking. School children near Ground Zero were herded out of their buildings but their parents didn't know if they were safe or not. People living in downtown Manhatten had their windows blown out, and had to leave their homes. There was no ground transportation and thousands of people walked over the bridges to get home. Cell phones didn't work. Land lines didn't work.

The sky was a stunning blue, the day a perfect early fall day in NY.

The Girl heard me go downstairs and joined me. Then the Boy came down too. We all watched as the second plane hit the South Tower. I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. We watched the TV until it was time for them to go to school. I sent them to school, even though I knew that many people would keep their kids home. But I felt that it was important to make their world as normal as possible, even after such a calamity. Much like when I was a kid, oddly the same age that they were that day, and JFK was shot. I came home for lunch, found out what happened, and then was sent back to school. It seemed right somehow.

When the kids came home, I was still watching the TV. Over and over they showed the same scenes, and each time it was like the first time. I couldn't believe what was happening. As the story became more in depth, it turned out that the hijackers had taken off from Logan Airport in Boston, and that they had stayed at a seedy motel in my city the night before they took off. That motel is no longer there, having been replaced by a huge Avalon apartment complex this summer. I don't think I could ever live there. The site is too auspicious for me.

On Sept 12 I was supposed to get written conformation of a job I had accepted, a position that I was very excited about taking. The head office of the company was in NYC. Needless to say, that offer was recinded as the company struggled to decide how to proceed. The high tech bubble was in full burst after 9/11, and those of us out of work had to face the realization that we would probably never work again in the kinds of positions we had prior to the attack. So in a weird way, I was also a casualty of 9/11. That date became the start date of our financial decline.

Later on that day I found out that my friend Nina had been in the city for work, and had to walk home to Long Island. And the next day I found out that a former coworker of mine had been killed on Flight 11 as he headed towards a business commitment.

As time passed and the government turned this national tragedy into a reason to go to war with a country that wasn't even involved in the destruction, I got more and more cynical. I used to believe in government, even though the Nixon and Reagan administrations. And that wasn't easy. But now, I can't even think of what morons we have leading this country, and how they have destroyed the perception of the US in other countries. I feel that the policies that Shrub and his nutcase advisors/cabinet have perpetuated have increased the number of terrorists at the same time doing little to make us more safe. I'm so disgusted with the way this whole situation has been handled, and I see further terrorism within our borders.

That's why I'm so sad. Rather than learn from our mistakes, we just keep making more and more errors. It makes me afraid for my children's lives. It makes me so angry.
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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Honoring Maj. Clifford L Patterson, JR

As a participant in D.Challener Roe's 2996 memorial to the 2996 victims of 9/11, I am honored to introduce my readers to Major Clifford L. Patterson, Jr of Alexandria, VA. Maj. Patterson was killed at the Pentagon, where he worked as budget officer for the Resource Management division. The Department of Defense reported a total of 125 service members, employees and contract workers died in the September 11 attack on the Pentagon building.

I didn't know Major Patterson. All that I know about him was gleaned from the many tributes to him written by coworkers, family, and friends on the various 9/11 Memorial sites. From my reading it was obvious that Maj. Patterson was much loved and respected by his fellow army buddies. He had friends back from the ROTC at Howard University who posted what an outstanding leader he was, what a great sense of honor he felt in participating in the Army ROTC whilst attending Howard as an honors student.

Other people conveyed the love he had for his wife Tamatha and his two young sons Cody and Leon. One such note was from a day care teacher who said that Maj. Patterson was a very friendly and talkative guy who loved to laugh and share funny stories about his kids. It was apparent that he was not only a great and supportive husband to his wife, who is also in the Army, but that he was an active participant in raising his boys.

Many of the tributes came from people who reported to Maj. Patterson in his various guises as an officer. One fellow wrote how he was from Florida and was freezing in the Kentucky cold (lucky he wasn't stationed in Alaska, huh?) when Maj. Patterson recommended that he drink a cup of coffee, and then afterwards to him to buck up. The soldier said he would never forget how caring Maj. Patterson was as he told him to stop whinging and get with the program.

The only photo I could find of Maj. Patterson was his official Army photo, but I wish I could have found more. I feel like I want to see that smile and hear that laugh that so many people had written about. But all I have is the official photo, and the official record of his life, which I've included below.

Maj. Patterson was a Distinguished Military Graduate from Howard University in 1991 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the infantry. His assignments included Bradley platoon leader, Scout platoon leader and company executive officer for 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry, and Battalion S-4 for 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry; commander, Charlie and Headquarters companies, 1-502nd Infantry Regiment, Fort Campbell, KY. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Staff Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Southwest Asia Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Infantryman Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Parachutist and Air Assault badges. He was assigned to the Office of the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of The Army at the Pentagon. He served in The Army for 11 years.

Maj. Patterson was the son of Clifford L Patterson of Wheaton, MD and Sandra W. Patterson of Silver Spring, MD. He was the brother of Renee Patterson of Laurel, MD., Tanya Patterson of Fairfax, VA., and Miranda Steele of Suitland, Md.

He was laid to rest in Section 64 of Arlington National Cemetary in the shadow of the Pentagon. Survivors include his wife, Capt. Tamatha Patterson, and sons Leon and Cody. We will not forget him.

To view additional memorials, go here for the complete list.

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Shame on Harvard

Did you know that President Bush allowed a known terrorist, the former president of Iran Mohammed Khatami to enter the US this week? Did you know that Khatami spoke not only at the UN, but was invited to speak at Harvard today? Did you know that I will never, ever give Harvard one more penny in donations as an alumni? All of those statements are accurate.

Yes, today the city of Cambridge hosted a famous terrorist to speak to students "lucky" enough to win a lottery for tickets. Oh boy, what fortune. And while Harvard prepared for this event, the Governor of MA, Mitt Romney, who I hate with a passion, did the only thing I've ever agreed with him about. He refused to provide any state police protection for Khatami. His reasoning? Why should the taxpayers of MA pay to protect a terrorist? I agree, why should they?

Also, the Jewish community and Harvard community were gathering support for a protest today, that started around 3 pm. The Girl and I attended the protest despite the fact that I was feeling so poorly that I could barely stand up. But this event was really important to me, and we stayed through the whole event and I'm proud to say that we went, we had our voices heard (loudly) and we did so peacefully, unlike those folks in San Francisco last month.

When the motorcade drove by, the people all yelled Shame on Harvard and loudly booed Khatami. I think he probably got the message as they got stuck in traffic right in front of a huge bank of signs and protestors. Oh damn, and he can't kill them. Shucks, I bet his day was ruined.

There were several hundred people in a small space outside the Kennedy School, right outside the Charles Hotel. People were asked to bring signs, and some of them were really creative.

The signs were not supposed to be on sticks so nobody could get hurt. It was an interesting bunch, quite a few elderly and boomer families, a lot of Persians, plenty of Kippot on the men, and lots of kids. It's great to see the kids. I'm such a firm believer in teaching kids about democracy and standing up for their rights. My kids have been protesting almost since birth.

There were some people who were there because they have relatives fighting in the Middle East and wanted to make sure that it was known that although they support the troops, they are disgusted with this stupid war. There was also this guy below, who was the only supporter of Khamani and was being decimated by an Israeli guy in the crowd. Oh, and there was one lone, sad supporter of "Palestine" who was escorted out by the Tactical Police. Poor thing, didn't figure out how to guage her audience very well. She was loudly booed.

People handed out small American flags, a suggested reading list for the contemporary American, and talking points about "Tough Questions about Iran" and some of Mohammed Khatami's key quotes. My favorite, as always, is, "historically as well as morally Israel is not a legitimate state." Says Who? Not the UN, in probably the ONLY positive thing they've ever said about Israel.

Here's another one: "It is now clear that the joint position of Iran and Syrai against the Zionist regime was the correct one. The Zionest regime defies any logic." Now really, is there ANY logic at all to Iran's government?

Lastly: "If we abide by real legal laws, we should mobilize the whole Islamic World for a sharp confrontation with the Zionist regime...if we abide by the Koran, all of us should mobilize to kill."

Mr. Bush, WHY would you let someone like this into the country? Someone who has killed hundreds of his own countrymen, students, women, and children? A man who likens Hezbollah to "a shining sun that illuminates and warms the hearts of all Muslims and supporters of freedom in the world." Well... really? I support freedom and I sure don't support Hezbollah. And neither do you, Shrub. So please, make it clearer. Why was this man allowed inside our borders? He is nothing but a terrorist, and supposidly we don't allow them to enter the US anymore.
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