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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Monday, September 29, 2008

A Message from the Queen

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You will probably need to look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Alaska, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-'ise.'Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S English. We will let Mcrosoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'

July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

All junctions (not intersections) will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with ketchup but with vinegar.

The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

Hollywood will be required to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen.

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A happy and sweet New Year

It seems almost impossible to think of the next year as being sweet and happy. We've got elections to get through, the craziness of the economy after the bailout bill fails, for which I am very happy, and of course the playoffs. The Red Sox left today for Los Angeles, where they will play the Angels. The Sox have a rather long list of injured players and it's going to be a really tough playoffs against the best team in the American League this year. But, as usual, I have hope.

I'll be busy (obviously) for the next couple of days. So I hope that you are all well, happy, well-fed, and feeling hopeful during my absence.

At this auspicious time of the year for Jewish readers, I wish you all the most wonderful of new years, and may you be inscribed in the book.

L'shana Tova U'metuka

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sweet Challah for a sweet new year

I realized that Smitten Kitchen readers were coming here to look for my Challah recipe, and I was disappointing them as I don't believe I've ever posted it. So for you cooks who want to make the best darn Challah in the world, here is the recipe for you! This is the second recipe in the first Jewish Catalog (did you get that?), first published in the 1970's when I was in college. I still have my original copy. This is a very very rich Challah, very moist, very fragrant, and tastes like the olde country (not that I've ever BEEN to the old country, which in my case would be Latvia, but...). It is NOT pareve. If that matters to you (and it does to me) substitute Mother's Salted Margerine for the butter. It isn't quite the same, but it's close enough.

You can make this in a bread machine if you half the recipe. You can make it in your kitchenaid if you don't mind watching the poor machine struggle to mix up this much dough. Or, like me, you can make this stuff by hand. It will make 4 loaves, 2-3 round challah, and at least 3 braids.

The world's best challah

2 cups lukewarm water
3 packages yeast
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter or margerine
5 eggs
8 cups flour

Mix water and yeast in a superhuge bowl. Add 3 cups flour and 1 cup sugar. Stir with fork and let rise for an half hour in a warm place. I'm partial to my oven to proof this dough.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, measure five cups of flour, salt, and a half cut of sugar. Add the margarine/ butter and cut with a pastry cutter/knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

At the end of a half hour, add 4 beaten eggs to the yeast mixture and stir well. Mix will decrease in volume.

Add the flour-margarine mixture to yeast mixture and work in bowl. If sticky, add up to two more cups of flour. Knead well on a floured board until smooth and elastic.

Put in oiled bowl and cover with CLEAN dish towel, dusted with flour. Put in warm place and let rise two hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down. Knead lightly for a minute or two.

Divide dough into parts, depending upon how much challot you want. This recipe makes 4 small-medium loaves, 3 medium loaves, 2 large loaves, 1 superhuge wedding special.

Braid the loaves. Place on oiled baking sheets, cover and let rise in warm place as long as possible. Three to five hours is just fine. The longer you let it rise, being careful not to kill the yeast, the lighter your loaves will be. When it is done rising, brush the tops with beaten egg, add sesame or poppy seeds, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

I promise you, even though this might take a bit more time than your normal challah recipe, when you see the gluten strands and taste how sweet and rich it is with all those eggs, you're gonna be hooked!

Le' Shana Tovah

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Who shall live?

As we prepare for the Jewish new year, here is a thought provoking look at the recent past. Who shall live and who shall die are questions we think about during the high holy days. I believe this beautifully produced 6-minute video will give us all something to think about, Jewish or Gentile. Take a few minutes to watch it. Have a tissue by your side.

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Friday, September 26, 2008


Last week a friend of mine, a committed Jewish friend, passed around an email that claimed that Obama was 'bad for the Jews.' I sent her back a rather curt response about how this kind of rhetoric reeked of the McCain fear mongering, and that frankly I'm way more worried about my OWN country than I am about my country of origin. I love Israel with all my heart, but it's not falling down like a lead rock because of continual bad leadership and bad financial decisions made by trickle-down economists that refuse to see that their free-wheeling, anti-regulatory ideology caused this big economic meltdown.

So when I saw this at Daily Kos, I had to post it. I just had to let you know that Israeli citizens of all stripe are supporting Obama. They trust him. They trust his middle-east policies. They can't be scared off by born-again Christian fear mongering. They are Israelis. The strongest people in the world. And they don't need to be told who is the better candidate. Especially by McCain supporters.

These are the beautiful faces of Israel. Look at them. They hold the wisdom of their country in those shana punims.

Toda Rabah, mishpucha. Tov meyod!

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I'm so off my game

Well, so much for being bright and cheery. It's pouring outside, and that's just about what it feels like inside as well. One of the deals with losing several days of your life to illness and hospitalization is that everyone else's life goes on as usual, and once you're back in the saddle, it's expected that you've already caught up. Guess what, internets? I haven't caught up. I'm way behind and trying to get days worth of stuff done. Not that my children have been a lick of help, or even cooperative. Right. Like that's gonna happen. Instead I end up trying to call all over town to find the Boy, who had a meeting with a college counselor at 3 pm, but conveniently forgot it and took off with friends. Did he call first? Bah! Calling is for wimps and underclassmen. As a senior, he's not going to bother to call his mommy and report in. Consequently I have to leave panicked messages all over the city to get him home on time. Delightful!

Then I gasp because I realize that Rosh Hashona starts Monday night. Have I even thought about it? Of course not. Who has the time? I'm busy doing a bunch of other stuff like being sick and organizing my wayward kids. Panic ensues. I have to:

Hit the Kosher store and get provisions
Decide on turkey vs brisket
Make challah
Go apple picking
Clean up house
Eliminate cat pee stench from dining room
Start cooking
Cook all freaking weekend
oh, and find out where we can daven this year.

Good lord, when am I going to get this done? Tonight is Shabbat, which makes Sunday the earliest I can go shopping and really start cooking. We fortunately have pretty much everything for sides (sweet potatoes and a carrot kugel) but we still need apples. I hate to buy them if I can go picking. But with this weather, that's not gonna happen.

I think we're going to have a very low key Rosh Hashona this year. I'm sad about that, but what can I do at this late date? As much as I have increased stamina, I'm not back to normal at all, and I'm not going to get this done.

I'm so tired of having to do it all. It's only me putting the pressure on. My kids wouldn't really care one way or the other about the HHs. They like the food, but the rest of it? Blech. But I swore that when I had kids I would raise them in a Jewish home, and every year I seem to let a bit more slide. I've always made a beautiful Rosh Hashona and I'm sad that it might not happen this year at all. Is that OK? Is it wrong to want to provide a good Jewish experience for my kids in the hopes that they might want to carry on the traditions in their own homes? I know for most people, this desire for perfection with a Mom named Beth and a dad named Saul, two children (Elly and David) and a dog called Moishe isn't reality. I know this, but every year I want to make that experience for my kids. I wish I could rent a Jewish Dad for them, along with a Kosher cook that would prepare a scrumptious meal. We'll call her Bubbe. While she's cooking, Zayde will be setting the table and talking to Elly and David about Rosh Hashona in his house in Brooklyn during the depression. They'll be polishing the silver.

I know this is a dream world, where houses are beautifully decorated with Judaica, rugs don't smell like cat pee, kids are interested in their families, and Bubbe and Zayde are involved. I'm clear that this is never going to be a part of our lives, but there, someplace way back in my mind, there is some synapse that is saying "You need to make this for your family." It's not guilt. It's desire. Desire to provide them with a loving Jewish family. Desire to bring them a lifetime of good solid Jewish memories. Not memories of Mom exhausted in the kitchen while they complain about every single time they're asked to help.

I do the best I can. That's all I can do. But this mantra is getting really stale.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

I feel so much better

Well, I'm home from the hospital, and what an experience it was. Lots of ups and downs, but before I get started telling you what was going on, I just have to say that I have felt frustration many times in my life, but not being able to blog the last three days has been unbelievably frustrating for me. I cannot believe I missed my turn commenting on McCain's withdrawal from the debates and campaigning. Nor did I get a chance to comment on Palin's quick but silent appearance at the UN Women's conference. Or get to praise my own beloved Congressman Barney Frank for his again brilliant work on the 7 trillion dollar bailout. I love me some Barney. And Chris Dodd, too. Don't think I wasn't watching every second of it, though. I had CNN on the whole damn time I was laying in bed.

Thank you all so much for your good wishes and prayers. Apparently they worked very well because I'm feeling so much better!

So, anyhow....

I called my cardiologist on Tuesday after having been sick for about a week. I could NOT figure out what was wrong with me, but I knew I wasn't right. I was coughing and bringing up bloody mucus (sorry...gross), I was not just short of breath, I was OUT of breath all the time, and although those are common symptoms of being overloaded with water, I was taking huge doses of my Lasix and still not peeing anything out. Usually, I can just increase my Lasix when I feel overloaded, and that will get rid of the fluid that collects in my lungs, but this time it just wasn't working. Plus, I was experiencing aching muscles, stiff neck, stiff and sore joints, and running a slight fever.

On Sunday, as I posted, both kids came home with some kind of gastroenteritis/flu. One was barfing, the other was shitting. Both were feverish. So they both stayed home on Monday and the Boy stayed home Tuesday as well.

The Boy came with me to the ER after my cardiologist ordered me to go there asap. They took me in right away, and started the parade of med students/interns/residents coming in to look at me and ask the same questions over and over. That is so irritating. I know why they do it, and it's the right thing to do, but geesh. We got into an ER bed around noon, and the Boy left at 4:30 to stay with a friend overnight, and it seemed that I was going to be admitted.

They finally brought me up at 8 pm, and I was admitted to the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, which is a brand new building, just opened a couple of months ago. The building is pristine and every patient gets a big single room. The room was very posh, with a sofa, a recliner, and two TVs, one for the patient and another for the guests that can stay overnight on the sofa and recliner. There were questions and more questions from the nurses and the rest of the staff, and a bunch of residents with the attending came in about 9 to chat and listen to my heart.

At first they thought that I might have had a 'silent heart attack' or endocarditis because the chest X-rays showed a new strip of heart damage that looked like dead heart muscle. So there was talk of doing a cardiac catheter or even an alcohhol ablation. But that's surgery and I wasn't all anxious for more heart surgery.

The first night there I was up all night coughing and trying to breathe. So day two they kept me NPO from midnight to 4 pm while they tried to decide what to do. Meanwhile, my blood sugar, from being starved, went all caflooey and was making me dizzy, and I was slurring my words. My poor friend Ora called during the worst of it and I sounded like I had a stroke or was dead drunk. I wasn't either, but I was just going nuts from being food and water restricted. My body NEEDS water. And food.

So the team came in that evening and they were leaning towards the catheter, but wanted to try this new medication first. It is a med that is contraindicated with my regular heart med because they tend to do the same thing but not really as complementary as they could be. One makes the heart beat more slowly, the second does that as well as relaxes the heart muscle. My heart is very stiff and rigid and works very hard to present an outflow, so they thought adding this medication might be helpful.

And it was. The stuff was like a miracle! I slept the sleep of the dead last night, the best night's sleep I've had in forever. I woke up feeling so much better, no coughing at all, no mucus buildup, regular breathing. When the 12-member team came in around 9, they couldn't believe how much better my heart sounded, and my lungs were all cleared up as well, so they cut me loose.

However, I couldn't go home because the kids both had echocardiograms, EKGs and appointments with their cardiologist (my illness is congenetial and shows up after puberty) scheduled. Luckily, all the hospitals are connected with underground tunnels, so I had the transport guy take me from Shapiro, under the street to the regular hospital, then up on the Pike and over the Bridge to Childrens. Just as I arrived at Childrens, my friend Roxanne, who had picked up the kids, was marching over to find me because I had the insurance card and their blue cards and the hospital will not even talk to you until you surrender both.

Now, all of this sounds coordinated and pleasant and successful. Heh. Of course not. This is MY life we're talking about.

Problems: The Girl was supposed to stay home the first night, since she was sick and I didn't want to foist her off on anyone. I had a bunch of people checking up on her, but she decided to go to her boyfriend's house because she was 'scared.' Like I believed that for one second. After a LONG conversation with her boyfriend's mother, I agreed that she could stay there because 1) he would be in the basement and 2) she would be on the second floor and 3) the parents made it VERY clear that no hanky panky was going to occur since they already have been though this with another kid and have the grandchild to prove it. (Remember that baby shower...)

So she slept over there and then came home after school and invited the boyfriend over here, which is SO not allowed, and then had a friend who I cannot abide and KNOW FOR A FACT IS A THEIF, sleep over last night. If anything is missing, we know who stole it, This girl is SCUM and I don't even allow her in my house. Guess who is grounded?

And, to make things even more interesting, the Boy was awakened this morning to get to school, but he 'forgot' to get up and slept until 11:50. I must have called the house 25 times, and he didn't hear the phone. I did speak to the head of his program 3 times, and then had my friend Roxanne prepared to wake him up (she has two teens, she gets this) but then he woke on his own and called and I told him to get dressed and brush his teeth before R got there, but she arrived right that second, so he got to the hospital in slept-in clothes and pretty damn dirty. GROSS.

Not to be outdone, Worthless Pet peed in the house because I was gone. Or because the sun wasn't shining in the right place, or his food bowl didn't have enough kibble. He doesn't really need an excuse to be a big giant crabby piece of shedding fur.

Plus, Pepper will not admit I'm home and has been ignoring me. The dishes were not done the entire time I was gone, there is food residue everywhere, and I'm annoyed with the whole lot of them.

But I'm home! Yee haw. You know your life sucks when being in the hospital is more relaxing that being at home.

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Health Update

Ora here again. I just talked to M- she is doing MUCH better. Something definitely had happened to her heart because one of the walls was rigid and not pumping. The doc gave her a different heart med and the ticker is tocking correctly. She may !!!! be released today.

In any event, both kids have exhiocardiograms today at the same hospital and then appointments with a cardiologist. M will attend, either as a patient or a parolee. That doc is certainly going to take any issues with the kids seriously.

The room that she is in is in the new wing of the hospital and the rooms are fantastic (although dully decorated). She is on the 8th floor and can see all the way home. This is a single room with a sitting area for visitors with a sleep sofa, recliner, regular chair and a TV (in addition to the TV by the patient bed). The nurses are very nice, these are easier rooms to work in than the main hospital wing.

Maybe M will send her own update later- she is having computer withdrawal since the internet is down on the family library computers!
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

In the hospital

This is a guest post, by friend Ora. Our dear Margalit is very sick. She went to the hospital yesterday and they admitted her through the ER (with her docs waiting).

Originally, she thought that it would just be overnight, but now it's definitely going to be longer. There is a suspicion of a heart infection, but there is also something totally wrong with her internal chemistry since her blood sugar is totally out of control- and she's not eating anything.
She's scared and needs out prayers. All positive ones of any religion are accepted!
I guess the only upside is that once all the fluid leaves, she is going to have lost more weight!

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Sick is coming out all over

I've been sick for a couple of weeks now with some sort of low grade infection. I don't know what it is, I'm not really sick enough to go to the doctor. Going to the doctor just takes too much energy. Because part of this latest disease is aching muscles all over my body and extreme exhaustion. Plus coughing and the inability to breathe. Cause breathing is so optional.

Today the Girl comes home from school complaining that she feels like crap. The child is somewhat of a hypochondriac, so I nod and listen with empathy and then drive her to work.

By the time I got back, the Boy had some home and he was complaining about feeling like crap. Hmmm. He shares with me that, for the first time since he has been in high school, he actually pooped in the bathroom there. Like me, we're a poop at home family. We don't really like public restrooms. This means that his reportage is monumental. He spends the entire evening complaining and I decide to check for fever. The child is on fire.

Meanwhile the Girl calls me and tells me she's barfed at work 3 times. She only ate a salad, and it came right back up. So I'm thrilled to hear this, as I know that she'll be barfy all night. She's a real barfer, that one. True to my prediction, I picked her up, brought her home, and within 5 minutes she was roarking in the upstairs bathroom. She was so loud she woke up the Boy, and he sleeps through everything. It was no pleasant.

He goes back to sleep, she passes out on the chair in the living room, and because life doesn't suck enough, Worthless Pet comes downstairs and pees on the floor. Again. Because all the floors in the house were scrubbed today and nothing says "Pay Attention To Me!" like some rank cat pee.

Meanwhile I feel so crappy that I can't even eat. I had, in total today, 2 meatballs, 3 mushrooms, 2 tiny apples. The good news is, that scale keeps going down down down.

There is not enough calgon in the world to solve this. Tomorrow is going to majorly suck.

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The Masshole to end all Massholes

Dear Lady in the Silver Lexus SUV on Needham St.,

Do you REALLY think it's a good idea to be driving in rush hour traffic on the busiest street in the city talking on the cell phone with one hand while your pug sits in your lap? Does that really seem safe to you? Especially when you cut in front of me and with your only free hand gave me the finger because I had the nerve to be driving in my lane straight ahead and I was apparently in your way?

Did you also notice that you had children in the back seat of your humongous rich-lady mobile? Because I was just wondering if those children were of any value to you. I mean, if you want to kill them, why not just give them to someone else who wants them and knows that driving with a dog in your lap and a cell phone in your hand is a recipe for disaster. Just sayin'.

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NSFW: Sarah Palin

There is absolutely nothing to say, but watch it to the bitter end. The last few seconds are funny. You gotta admit, this is the best election ever for really bizarre jokes. YouTube has added such a great dimension to the election.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Time to talk about race

I saw this video on YouTube and had an interesting reaction to it. Although I sure do understand what the message is about, and to whom it is addressed, I have to question whether or not this is a good political call. Because, and this is a tough thing to say, but it's true, I believe that there are a huge segment of Americans who would be scared out of their minds by this video.

Americans who refuse to consider voting for Obama because of his race exist. You know it, I know it, and we're not really talking about it. But when I saw this video, all I could think of is how negative this would go over in white enclaves in the mid-west, the pacific northwest, and the south. A video showing the actual diversity in America is one thing, but this video focused on African Americans as if they are the vast majority in this country. Not quite factual, and a horribly scary notion for those who are still living in the Republican National Convention reality of old, white, and rich.

The point is, race is a factor in this election, even if we don't want to discuss it. Or even face it. I've met people in liberal Massachusetts who have called Obama the N-word and have said that they would never vote for him because he's black. They just won't even consider it. I know that I'm not alone, I KNOW that this happens all over the country every single day. In the coffee shops and diners, in corporate lunchrooms, in schools and in backyards we hear people speak these henious words and we say nothing. We don't want to start another race war. We just shake our heads and think "How ignorant" and "What a jerk" and move on with our lives.

Watching the RNC and seeing miles and miles of white faces concerned me. I started counting people of color that I saw. One night I was thrilled to see 5 black faces, 2 Asian women, and a Hispanic. That was the extent of the Republican diversity. It was shameful. It said to me, and to others who I spoke to that people of color weren't welcome in the Republican party. Not a big shock. It's always been that way. But after seeing this video I have to wonder if it's not just a not welcome sign hung out, but if the republicans are so afraid of people of color that they want to pretend they don't exist.

I don't know what it is. I don't have answers. I don't know how we've gotten to this point. I don't understand the fear of races other than our own. I don't get it like I don't get why people still hate the Jews or fear every Muslim.

What I do know is that I think this video would be a real negative for the majority of white Americans. Shameful as it sounds, it seems to be the case.

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Economics 101 wasn't my best subject

All this doom and gloom news about the economy has got me just as down and depressed as everyone else. But unlike a lot of people, I'm here to admit that I have NO CLUE as to how things got so bad. I don't really have a passion for economics (and I have to apologize to my brother the Econ major). I don't even have much of an interest in it. Probably because I don't understand it, and again...no money for speculation means I don't really care all that much. About myself, I mean. This whole debacle really doesn't affect me...yet. But with that $700 billion dollar buyout, you can bet your ass I'm going to be suffering more than anyone else you know. Because to pay for the speculation of the rich, the government is already promising to take away medicare, medicaid, social security and other social programs that we rely on. What a shock. Punish the poor. It's the American way.

This weekend I read as much as I could tolerate before falling into a stupor to try and understand just what the hell happened to the US economy. Honestly? I missed a lot. But then I found this post on The Daily Kos. This one I got. It's written for a little guy who wants to understand the history of our economy's woes, and wants to figure out how this could possibly affect them. The part that really got my heart a-pumping:

A secondary market for trading swaps exploded into existence, and swaps were traded with absolutely no consideration for the nature or quality of the underlying investment. Swaps changed hands a dozen or more times, growing in "value" as they went. Worse still, no one regulated who could buy a swap, so it was (and is) perfectly possible for a company to acquire swaps that theoretically cover billions of dollars in loans, even if that company doesn't have a red cent on hand to cover those swaps should the loans default.

How big did this market become? Here's business correspondent Bob Moon and host Kai Ryssdal on American Public Media's Marketplace from back in the spring.

BOB MOON: OK, I'm about to unload some numbers on you here, so I'll speak slowly so you can follow this.

The value of the entire U.S. Treasuries market: $4.5 trillion.

The value of the entire mortgage market: $7 trillion.

The size of the U.S. stock market: $22 trillion.

OK, you ready?

The size of the credit default swap market last year: $45 trillion.

KAI RYSSDAL: That's a lot of money, Bob.

As in three times the whole US gross domestic product, Bob. And the truth is that Moon probably underestimated. The unregulated and poorly reported credit default swaps may have actually passed $70 trillion last year, or about $5 trillion more than the GDP of the entire world.

So, are you starting to get an idea of just how big a genie Phil Gramm and his pals unleashed?

This article scared the shit out of me. I can read numbers. I know when the credit default swap market went absolutely batshit insane. The regulations that Phil Gramm and his best buddies John McCain and Alan Greenspan threw by the wayside have brought us to this horrible moment in US history.

I didn't get before that the bills passed by congress, some of them shuffled into other bills on the very last day of congress, were for the most part both irresponsible and benefitted companies like the Keating Savings and Loan and our largest corporate bankruptcy, Enron. Remember how those two institutions took money from all these elderly investors and just walked away with it. Remember the excesses of those companies, the parties, the perqs, the golden parachutes? Well, do you honestly believe that golden age of robbing the poor to give to the rich has changed? Not one whit. And Mr McCain is a part of the problem, no matter how much he wants to lie about it.

If you're a Republican (and why would you be reading my blog if you are?) HOW can you vote for a man who has publically robbed over and over again. No matter what else he's done, and there are many crimes in his background, this is a man who is proud of his economic policies, a man who thought until the economy melted down all around him that we were still financially strong?

Read the article. Find time to learn just what havoc these people have waged on us. Read it and get angry. Read it and be scared. And then read the provisions tacked on the latest bill that are unconstitutional, illegal, and likely to pass because the government wants to act fast.

Don't be fooled. This bailout isn't just about helping the economy. It's also about saving the rich from losing their money. Again.

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It's tough to eat when you have no dishes

I've mentioned that my son is a bit of a hoarder. Not so much of junk. Dishes. He eats constantly, and mostly he prefers to eat in his room where he can do whatever it is he does on his computer and eat at the same time. He recently installed some Skype-like program and now he chit-chats with his friends constantly with a bunch of food surrounding his desk. I wouldn't have much of a problem with this IF he brought the dishes back down.

However, he does not. They pile up, and all of a sudden I have no plates, cups, glasses, silverware, bowls, etc. They just disappear up into his room, which is so gross I really don't want to go in there.

He took a bunch down over the summer and he was pretty good about taking everything back down for a month or so, but lately the kitchen has been drifting upstairs again. So today I gave him an ultimatum and made him bring dishes down. He argued, as every teen but those on TV are want to do, but he went up and came back down with a pile of a dozen or so plates. He tried to claim that was all that was up there, but I knew better and sent him back up. Down he came with about 5 glasses, again claiming that all was now gone from his lair.

My friend was over, and she has about as much patience as an ant, and she got up and went marching upstairs with him. She might be small in size, but she's as intimidating as hell to my kids, and they generally do what she says. Funny that her kids won't listen to her at all, but that's another post. She's up there a while and I hear thumping and furniture being moved about, and down he comes with another armful of kitchen ware. All four of my pitchers were up there. Big mixing bowls. Coffee cups. More dishes. He's looking a might bit shamed, but she calls him back up for even more.

We made a deal that he would wash them at 5 pm, and of course he tried to wriggle out of it. But I got in his chunky little squishy face and read him the riot act and he washed most of his dishes. He filled the ENTIRE dishwasher, turned it on, and said to me that he's going to have to run at least one and maybe two more loads.

OMG, two loads of filthy dishes in his room. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS KID?

I know that this is typical behavior of male teenagers. I've heard it from countless moms that I know irl, I've read it on MCMM a lot, I know it's normal. I've spoken to his therapist about it and she, always being on HIS side, the bitch, says to let it go and just try to get him to clean up at least weekly.

She's really lovely and wonderful with him and we both adore her...but she IS always on his side, and that irks me a bit. Why don't I get any sympathy? I have to live with him!

In talking about it with my friend, also the mom of teenagers, we decide that teens are just brain poisoned individuals whose synapses aren't working quite right. Eventually they'll make better connections. Hopefully. But you parents of bambinis that are still dealing with potty training and preschool... you just GOTTA be prepared for this stuff. Because if you think you can MAKE a teenager do what you want, I've got a big bridge in Brooklyn that I've put on Ebay. Go make a bid.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Today my baby girl, the one I pushed through my nether regions and fed and clothed and protected though storms, school tsuris, and a bunch of crazy friends... that Girl....

Well, she told me she was going to a concert on the Esplanade, and I said fine because she's done that before.

What did she really do?

She went to Hempfest on the Common.

I am so proud.

At least she didn't get stoned. There were PoPo all over the place, she reported, with horses and they were busting everyone so her brilliant friends decided that maybe lighting up might be a dumb thing to do.

Now, I should be pissed. And I'm annoyed, believe me. But once again, she did EXACTLY what I have told her to do whenever she was stuck in a situation that she didn't know what to do. She called me, and told me where she was. "You're gonna be mad, but I didn't know where we were going. They told me we were going to a free concert on the Esplinade."

Of course, being me I already knew where she was. I looked up on Bostonist to see what bands were playing at this "rock festival" and instead found that Hempfest was taking place. So I wasn't surprised at all.

Plus, her "boyfriend" didn't tell his parents. Heh.

All I can say is that my mother's curse is working really really well. She cursed me to have a kid just like me. And I do. I would SO have gone to Hempfest when I was 16 if they had it. And I turned out semi-OK, right?

Laws sake, bless her heart! (I'm trying to learn how to be more southern in my talk.)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Snippets

I've been taking muscle relaxants for the past couple of days because every single muscle in my body aches. I can't decide whether or not I'm sick, or just in such horrid shape that even my fingers ache. Whatevs.

Conversation with the Girl in my car today:

M: So, how are you doing with that book? (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night)
G: I hate it.
M: Why? It's such a beautifully written book!
G: The guy is so weird and geeky.
M: But that's kinda the point.
G: (silence)
M: I mean, you get to get inside the mind of an autistic kid and see how he processes the world around him.
G: He's autistic?
THUD THUD THUD. Sound of mom smacking her head against the steering wheel.
M: Yeah, he's autistic. What did you think?
G: I thought he was just some weird guy droning on and on.
M: No, he's autistic. That's the whole point of the book, honey.
G: Oh. Well that makes sense.
G: Are you sure he's autistic. How do you know?
M: It says so in the book.
G: Oh. I didn't see that part.

And people wonder why I constantly bitch that she misses context. No freaking kidding.

On Tertia's blog, she was questioning her son Adam's inability to get time. I left a comment and said that the Girl still has no concept of time. She's constantly getting time totally confused, and it kinda drives me a little bit nuts.

This morning:

M: Why are you so GRUMPY?
G: The cats kept me awake all night.
M: That's impossible. Pepper was with me all night. We didn't even go upstairs until around 5, and then she was in bed with me until you got up.
G: No she wasn't. She was screwing around outside my door for about 2.5 hours.
M: Um, no. She wasn't. You came into my room about 5 minutes before the alarm clock went off at 6:45. She was with me until then.
G: No, she kept me up all night.
M: I'm not going to argue about this, but you're wrong about the time. She maybe played outside your door for 10 minutes, max.
G: No! It was for hours.
M: OK then. Moving on....

I love this girl with all my heart, but I worry for her future. Can someone with no concept of time and an inability to process so much of what goes on around her be an independent and successful woman? Sometimes it all just scares me beyond belief.

OTOH, she's doing great in school now that she has an actual schedule. The school however? Still a mixed up, disorganized mess. She got called into her headmaster's office for skipping ceramics. She was flabbergasted since she's already made an entire project. She marched him down the hall to the class and showed him her project. His response? "The teacher must not know who you are!" OMG, if I live through another two years of this insanity I think I should be given a gold crown.

Aaarrrrgggghhhhh... which is my entire contribution to "Talk like a Pirate Day" this year. I just don't have the energy, me mateys.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Who is the cutest thing in the whole wide world?

Why even bother to say you know who. You don't. Because it's Pepper. OMG, there isn't a day that goes by when someone in this house asks her who the cutest kitty in the whole world is. She's going through that gangly tween stage that kittens go through, where her length keeps getting longer, her legs keep getting longer, but she's as skinny as a rail. But that doesn't stop her from being the most energetic, cutest kitty ever. EVER.

She is pretty damn smart too, which makes such a change from the Worthless Pet. He's not cuddly, he's not all that bright, and next to Pepper he is looking exceptionally worthless. I mean, why get a pet that really isn't that into you?

Pepper has some very strange habits. One thing she loves to do is get into the bathtub and run around the entire border. I'm not sure why, but it's what she likes to do. Fast. Around and around and around. She also loves to get into the oval shaped laundry basket when it's empty and chase her tail around and around. Mostly at around 4 am. Because nothing is more fun than making lots of noise in the middle of the night.

I know when we got Pepper than more than a few people were concerned about getting another cat when we're obviously so poor. But, the thing is, she's brought our family together in ways that nothing else can. My kids are so madly in love with her that they sit together and gush over her cuteness for hours. We all just can't believe we have such a cutie pie living with us, and we talk about her endlessly. She's so lightened the atmosphere in this house, making us all more relaxed and happy. The tension relief is palpable. It's hard to believe that one teeny kitten could make such a difference, but she has. And I knew she would. My poor kids have lived for years with Worthless Pet and he's really done nothing to exite them. Oh, the Girl loves his fat tummy hanging down like extra baggage, and he'll snuggle with her, but he isn't the kind of pet that would bring a family together.

Pepper, on the other hand, is incredibly snuggly, sleeps with anyone who lays down with her, gives delightful "eskimo" kisses, likes to lick your chin, and is so lovey that she almost wants to get in your skin with you. This is a cat that is madly in love with us and lets us know that a million times a day. For the Boy especially, this is a major gift from God. He's never connected to another pet, but he is gaga over Pepper.

And that's why it's worth the extra expense to me. My kids have grown closer, they have something new to love, they're both much more responsible with the cats, and this is very good news.

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25 days to protect women’s health

George W. Bush has launched a new assault on birth control and reproductive freedom. This is the bullshit regulation that would allow people to refuse to perform services (e.g. distribute birth control) on the basis of their religious beliefs. I live in a predominently Catholic state. We've already had problems with pharmacists refusing to provide birth control and the morning after pill due to their 'religious convictions.' My response is thus: Assholes, if you don't want to perform your job properly, then get the fuck out of the pharmacy. Who do you think you are, determining what is right for anyone else? Mind your own damn business, do the job you signed up to do, or quit. Go dig ditches someplace. Your religion has no objection to that, does it?

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently proposed regulations that could seriously undermine access to basic reproductive health services -- including birth control and abortion. Instead of striking a careful balance between individual religious liberty and patients’ access to reproductive health care, the Bush administration has taken patients’ rights and their health care needs out of the equation. The Bush administration has once again forgotten those tried and true words from the Constitution (oh, I forgot, he doesn't NEED to follow the Constitution, he's above it) that decrees a separation of church and state.

This far-reaching proposal doesn’t need congressional approval. But, it can’t go forward without allowing for public comment. That’s where you come in.

The deadline for public comments is fast approaching -- September 20 -- and we have to generate intense opposition to these dangerous regulations.

I just sent HHS my comment urging them to stop efforts to block women's access to basic reproductive health services. You can do the same here.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Danny Miller at Jew Eat Yet posted this essay tonight. It is brilliant. Positively brilliant. I'm unfamiliar with the author, Tim Wise, but I plan to change that asap. This guy has incredible insight into why the election has meandered into some absurd passion play. Read it. Pass it along.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege
by Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.

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More on McCain tax lies

Sometimes I find a post somewhere that totally illustrates what I want to say. So why not share it with you here. I don't think we have many of the same readers and the information is too important to just glide over. We're talking about your money. You do want to keep track of your money, right? You don't want to just believe McCain's tax rhetoric without looking at the facts, do you? I didn't think so!

1) John McCain is a liar. The campaign, and McCain himself, have repeated over and over again that Barack Obama wants to raise taxes, and the media has uncritically reported it. Given John McCain's track record lately for telling the truth, I don't really want to take his word for it. Instaed, let's have a look at this tax-plan chart, from Chartjunk:

Is there more blue surface area on the chart, or more red surface area? First one to guess correctly wins a John McCain condom (not really, I never could get my hands on one).

2) The Washington Post doesn't understand averages. Contemplate this chart, covering the same data, linked here before:

It shows proposed tax cuts for various income brackets under Obama and McCain. As discussed at ChartJunk, the chart is flawed because it gives an equal amount of space to each bracket. However, what's worse is that the "Average Cut" line at the bottom makes no sense. What did they do to calculate the 'Average Cut'? They added together the nine numbers above and divided by nine. But that's idiotic. That's why we have something called a "weighted average," which is what you use when you have data points that apply to different-sized groups of objects. The WaPo's method is like saying: If 10 people are given a hundred dollars and 1 person gets $0, the average received by the eleven people is $50.

The "Average Cut" is not just misleading, it's wrong. It proclaims that John McCain will lower taxes overall more than Barack Obama will, when in fact just the opposite is true. Barack Obama's tax plan proposes larger cuts for the income brackets with the most people in them, and in fact, his tax cut is only smaller for the top 20% of earners. So let's recap: larger tax cut (than McCain) for 80% of the population, smaller tax cut (than McCain) for 20% of the population. I don't have the population numbers at hand (if someone gives me a link, I'll be happy to calculate the actual average), but what I've just said makes it clear (given the small difference margins) that the average tax cut under Obama will be higher than under McCain.

Let John McCain continue to proclaim that Barack Obama will raise taxes, and let's keep harping on his lies. Even now, his advisor are starting to sputter.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

WFMW: Almond Maple Granola

We love granola in our family. We're a granola atop yogurt, ice cream, and especially granola with milk for breakfast. As you all must have noticed, the prices of cereal products have skyrocketed in your local markets, so it's time to learn how to make your own granola.

It's amazingly easy to make, and the best thing is, you can add or subtract ingredients to your liking. You like pecans, not almonds? No problem, just put pecans in. You don't like coconut? Substitute dried cherries or cranberries. It's up to you what ingredients you want to use. Just make sure you're following the basic oats, oil, honey, syrup, sugar additions. The rest is up to you!


6 c rolled oats
12 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 c blanched slivered almonds
4 Tblspns dark brown sugar
1/2 c wheat germ
1/2 c vegetable oil (canola)
7 to 14 oz flaked coconut
4 Tblpn warm water
2/3 c unsalted sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt
1 c pecan pieces
1/3 c honey + or -

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees Spray 2 large cookie sheets with brims with cooking spray

2. In large bowl toss oats almonds, wheat germ, coconut and sunflower seeds. In a separate bowl whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, oil, water and salt. Pour the liquid over the oat and nut mixture and stir until evenly coated. Spread into prepared pans. Drizzle honey evenly over both sheets.

3. Bake 1 hour and 15 min in preheated oven stirring occasionally until evenly toasted. Cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Obama tax cut calculator

McPain keeps repeating the same lies about the Obama tax cuts over and over. McPain wants to convince gullible citizens that Obama will raise taxes for everyone. The truth is that Obama will raise taxes on those with incomes over $250,000. The rest of us will get tax cuts. To find out what your tax cut will be, here's a handy calculator. Use it, pass it along, and make sure that people understand that once again McPain is lying through his teeth. Even Fox news called him a liar. That's pretty sad.

The Washington Post came out with a chart that illustrates the difference between McPain's tax "cut" and Obama's tax cut. Hmmm, isn't it interesting. Can you guess who favors tax cuts for the rich while increasing taxes on the 60% of the working poor in the USA. I'll give you a hint. He's old, white, and choose a lunatic for his running mate. Um, yeah.

In other McPain news, "someone" has been push-polling Jewish voters in Florida. I'm sure it will happen in other battle ground states as well. The McPain campaign is just filled with scum. Push-polling is the lowest form of campaigning.

Want to know all of McPain's lies. Here's a site that will be listing them as they come in. So far, they have over 50 out and out lies by McCain. How far will he go?

Women against Sarah Palin has over 140,000 women declaring why they will not support Palin. Many are lifelong Republicans.

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My son the gimp

The Boy has been complaining on and off for the past month about his right knee. I finally took him to the ER, got an Xray, and was sent off to the Orthopedics clinic for an exam. He had an MRI, and today we had the appointment to get the pertinent information from the doctor. But while we were waiting for this appointment, he came home last week having hurt the OTHER knee, leaving him a functional cripple. The child was in agony. So in addition to learning the fate of the right knee, we were also going to have the left knee examined.

We delivered the MRI films to the doctor and then had a short exam where they determined that the left knee was also swollen and bruised. So both knees were Xrayed again.

Lo and behold, the right knee is injured. He broke his femur right at the end where the bone kind of ends in an upside down heart. That was so not what we all expected, but there you go. So they wrote him an excuse for missing PE for 6 weeks, which kinda bummed him because he likes his PE class. And they also recommended PT.

The left knee is sprained and he is to keep his weight off it. Ahem. What are we supposed to do, get him a wheel chair? Right now crutches aren't the answer, but he's keeping off his feet as much as possible. This is his dream come true. Laying on the sofa all day is right up his alley.

The one issue we have is that all the recommended PTs do not take our insurance. This is a major bummer. It means that I will have to call the insurance company, which could take up to half a day of being on hold. The joy of Mass Health. Hopefully there is a PT somewhere near us, because I'm not really wanting to cart this kid all over tarnation. I do have a life. It mostly consists of carting his sister all over the place. School, work, home, friends.... I'm not loving the life of a professional child driver. I don't even have a uniform!

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Lies Lies Lies Lies, yeah.

The McCain campaign seems to be imploding internally because of the lies and dishonesty within it's ranks. I think that Joy Behar of The View opened the floodgates by asking McCain why he was lying in his advertisement, leaving McCain stumbling for a response.

According to my son, the expert in Psychology, there is a difference between pathological and compulsive liars. I don't know which catogory McCain and Palin fall under, but I do know just how many lies have been confronted just since The View aired.

Karl Rove had to admit yesterday that the McCain campaign's lies and negative attacks have gone "too far."

John McCain is running the most negative and dishonest campaign in modern presidential history. He has demonstrated that he'd rather lose his integrity than lose this election.

It's right out of the Bush-Rove playbook. Unfortunately, as Karl Rove knows better than anyone, these shameful tactics have worked in the past.

The culture of corruption and dishonesty that has hurt America so badly the last eight years is playing an even larger role in McCain's campaign.

Just this past week, John McCain hired a Washington super-lobbyist to fill positions in a potential McCain-Palin White House. At least 177 lobbyists have been on McCain's campaign staff, and apparently he hopes to run the White House the same way.

Also this week, the McCain campaign continued to repeat a number of outrageous lies, even after watchdogs in the media called them "shamelessly misleading," "thoroughly dishonest," and "a toxic mix of lies and double-speak."

When Karl Rove says that McCain is lying and using double-speak, it's time to wake up and take notice. Rove had, up till now, run the nastiest campaigns ever in the history of the US.

They also lied about the crowd size at one of their rallies -- reporting 23,000 attendees when there were only 8,000

Even Fox news is getting on the bandwagon, grilling McCain's campaign manager about the lies McCain keeps repeating about raising taxes. This is great footage.

John McCain may also want to change his economic message a bit more during this potentially disastrous week for the financial sector.

On the campaign trail in Florida, the Senator said this morning that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," despite what he described as "tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street."

The line may seem like the GOP normal rhetoric, except for the fact that this morning, the McCain campaign released a television ad that began: "Our economy is in crisis." Moreover, with financial and job markets in crisis, and with Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy and Bank of America trying to take over Merril Lynch, it may not be the wisest political message to tell voters that the fundamentals are a-okay.

"You know," said McCain, "there's been tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street and it is -- people are frightened by these events. Our economy, I think, still the fundamentals of our economy are strong. But these are very, very difficult time. And I promise you, we will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. We will reform government."
This isn't so much a lie as total misinformation. Trying to convince people that the economy is basically sound is nasty. Yes, it's a lie, but it's also cruel and heartless when people are losing their homes and he's saying that they're irresponsible spenders and deserve the loss. Mr. My Rich Wife Bought My Seven Homes has not a whit of empathy for regular folks.

Meanwhile, in Alaska former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan said he resisted pressure by the First Couple to re-open an old case against a state trooper, who was in a hotly contested divorce and custody battle with the Governor's sister Molly.

Alaskan lawmakers are investigating whether Palin and her husband used the power of the Governor's office to conduct a personal vendetta against their former brother-in-law, whose behavior during the 2005 divorce was described by the Palin family as " threatening."

"She's not telling the truth when she told ABC neither she nor her husband pressured me to fire Trooper Wooten," said Walt Monegan, the Alaskan official whose dismissal by Sarah Palin is the focus of a state investigation known as "Troopergate". "And she's not telling the truth to the media about her reasons for firing me."
Troopergate is going to continue for a while. Personally, I can't wait for it to head to court at the end of the month. That's gonna be fun!

In a 20/20 interview, Palin told ABC's Charles Gibson she dismissed Monegan for poor job performance and that neither she nor her husband pressured Monegan to fire State Trooper Wooten. "We never did. I never pressured him to hire or fire anybody," Palin said.

But Monegan told ABC News.com he was summoned to a meeting with Todd Palin in December 2006, shortly after Sarah Palin became governor.

"I was called to her Anchorage formal Governor's office to talk with Todd Palin about an issue that was a private family matter," recounted Monegan. Todd became "upset," Monegan recalled, when told the allegations had already been investigated and the case would not be re-opened.

"When Sarah later called to tell me the same thing, I thought to myself, 'I may not be long for this job.'" But, Monegan said, he stood by his position. "I held the public trust. As Chief, I was responsible."

Governor Palin initially agreed to "cooperate fully" with the Alaska state legislative investigation but since being chosen as John McCain's running mate both she and her husband have refused to testify voluntarily. Friday the legislature issued a subpoena for Todd Palin.

McCain also admitted he knew Obama was not calling Palin a pig.

Did he call her a pig?" McCain was asked. "No, I but know that he chooses his words carefully, and it was the wrong thing to say," he responded.

McCain also cut off a question about the "Bridge to Nowhere," which Palin claims to have killed in Alaska even though Washington pulled back money for the project before she turned against it.

"The important thing is she's vetoed a half a billion dollars in earmark projects _ far, far in excess of her predecessor and she's given money back to the taxpayers and she's cut their taxes, so I'm happy with her record," McCain said.

In addition to her current requests, state budget documents show Alaska requested 52 earmarks worth $256 million for 2008. No where did McCain admit that Palin kept the money earmarked for the Bridge to Nowhere. Yet another lie?

And this ditty: Health Care for America Now (HCAN) - the unprecedented coalition of large labor groups, community-based organizations, women's groups, doctors, nurses, small businesses, think tanks, and leading netroots activists - released the following statement today in response to Senator McCain's repeated false claims that Senator Obama's health care plan will "force small businesses to cut jobs and reduce wages and force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat stands between you and your doctor":

"Senator Obama's heath care plan offers the American people and American business a choice. His plan allows individuals to stay with the private insurance they have now, choose a new health care plan similar to the one Congress has, or opt into a new public plan so we are no longer left at the mercy of the private insurance industry. His plan includes lowering health care costs for small business and allowing employers to offer health insurance by paying for it as a percentage of their payroll rather than continue to feed into the current system where premiums are completely disconnected from what a business can afford....

Health Care for America Now asks Senator McCain to level with the American people and stop lying about Obama's health care proposal." - Richard Kirsch, National Campaign Manager, Health Care for America Now

Lastly, there's this:

Looking at these four educational resumes, without knowing their race or their gender, who would you want to interview for a high powered executive position? You know, like President and/or Vice-President of the USA?*

Candidate 1:
Occidental College (Los Angeles) - 2 years studying Politics and Public Policy.
Columbia University (New York) - B.A. Political Science with a specialization in International Relations.

Harvard Law School - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude, Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law Review.

Candidate 2:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and a B.A. in Political Science.
Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

Candidate 3:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank 894 of 899.

Candidate 4:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester - Business Administration.
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - General Studies.
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - Journalism.
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester.
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism.

*1. Obama 2. Biden 3. McCain 4. Palen

Some great Sarah Palin links. See the anti-Palin rally in Alaska. It was larger than Palin's welcome home.

Learn about books Palin DID try to ban, and her views on dinosaurs, evolution, and Jesus's return during her lifetime. Will he go right to Alaska?

You can tune in to Ed’s Show to hear all about Palin's stances on women’s issues, foreign policy, wildlife, the environment, her track record as mayor of Wasilla, special ed, family matters and troopergate. Rep. Les Gara who posted here on that last issue, gave a good recounting of his feelings about the McCain people running roughshod over a bipartisan investigation, and slandering some really well-respected public servants in the process. The crowd got a little frustrated when he refused to talk about the possibility of impeachment, but that word can’t be bandied around without bringing down the wrath of the Republican ticket and it’s squadron of lawyers and spin-meisters.

Click HERE for the Ed Schultz Show website. And thanks to KUDO 1080, Alaska’s progressive talk station for making it happen.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

A baby shower tale

Today the Girl and I went to a baby shower. The brand new mom is 17 and a senior in high school. While everything you hear about teenage mothers is mostly drastic and negative, I'm here to report that with a strong family behind you, parents who TAKE FAMILY LEAVE (I'm talking to YOU, Sarah Palen) to help you out, a big support system from your school and your friends, it doesn't have to be a totally negative experience. Of course nobody is forcing this girl to marry the baby daddy. In fact, quite the opposite. He's bad bad news and they're trying to keep him out of the picture before something bad happens. And the new mom has a wonderful boyfriend now, whose mother was also 17 when she had him, and so new mom has support and more support from every angle.

The party was a lot of fun. New Grandpa cooked a huge bbq roast and chicken wings. There was an amazing rice salad with corn, tomatoes, red onion, red peppers, and a soy tahini dressing. There were a lot of other salads, deviled eggs (haven't seen those since my OWN baby shower), canapes including figs wrapped in proscuitto, lots of veggies for the Girl, fruit salad, etc. Of course there were cupcakes. One cannot have a party with cupcakes these days,

The new mom is terribly shy and quiet and didn't want to open the mountains of presents in front of everyone, but we all insisted, because everyone wants to oooo and aaaaaahhhh over tiny baby stuff. So she relented and we got to see all the loot.

This girl got so much stuff. It was amazing. People were so generous and thoughtful. Of course there was a lot of cute clothings, but there were also the useful gifts.

My favorite had to be something I've never seen before, but would have snapped up in a flash had it been available 16 years ago. A combination bath kneeler with a seat so you don't break your back trying to bath baby in the big tub. Brilliant!

Some of the clothes were so cute I just wanted to grab them and run.

This pack and play was more like a condo than a place to plop a sleeping baby. It had levels and cup holders for baby's latte. Amazing.

No more hanging the johnnie jump up from the archways. Now they seem to be a combination of a walker and a jumper. Since both of my kids spent hours jumping up and down, I like that this can be moved around to where mom is working.

Baby can rock out with this mat that plays music. I told the new mom she was gonna eventually hate that!

More clothing.

I know.... more!

Yup, more.

This bear did something but I don't know what.

This was an ingenious gift. Dishwasher proof name labels for the baby's stuff when he goes to daycare in three months (Are you listening Sarah Palen?) All his bottles, diapers, clothing, pacifiers, etc. can be labeled so they won't get lost. No more toxic sharpie!

A swing.

The front hall where SOME of the stuff was piled up.

Look at that face. Isn't he worth all this loot. Such a delightful baby. He's already sleeping at night for 6 hours. He's a keeper!

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

I've had enough with pickiness

I admit that I'm not feeling well, which makes me grumpier than normal. I've had a weather-related headache for a couple of days, I'm light sensitive and sound sensitive and in general feel like crap. So when I spend time going way out of my way to do something for my kids and not only do they not appreciate it, but they complain bitterly about how unfair life is and that it sucks to be them, I really don't have much sympathy.

Today I took the Girl shopping for clothes. She got her clothing allowance and we took off for TJ Maxx. As soon as we got there she started complaining. "I hate this store. It sucks. Everything sucks. I hate this. I hate that. I hate everything." You would not believe the negativity eminating out of that child's mouth.

She wanted jeans. She pulled out at least 15 pairs of jeans to try on. I took in 6, she took in 6, and then she started trying them on. Every pair sucked. This was too short, the color was wrong, this was too loose, this was too tight, the pockets were too ugly. It went on and on and on. I was about to walk out of the store because it was just ridiculous.

She needed polo shirts for work. I found two, and she complained that they were too long. She has to tuck them in, and she wants them to be an inch of two below the waist. But that isn't how they make polo shirts. So she had to complain about them for a while.

Then the shoes. Oh, the shoes. She needs new sneakers for school and a pair of black shoes for work. The shoes for work are supposed to be sneakers, but she has deemed it impossible to wear sneakers with dress pants. It simply will not do! So she tried on an entire cart filled with every black shoe in her size and rejected them all. Honestly, she doesn't get it. Nobody cares what you wear for work when you're behind a counter serving food. But she refuses to compromise, as usual.

On the way home I got this epiphany about this kind of behavior. It's exactly like a toddler only more verbal. You show her something, she hates it. NO! NO! Just like when she was two. It's the same damn behavior. I had no clue that I was going to have to live through the toddler years again, but sure enough, that's just what I'm doing.

Of course I arrive home to find the Boy had done none of the chores he was tasked with. That is because he had a friend sleep over last night. A friend he never even told me was sleeping over. At 10:30 I found out the kid was staying the night. I like the kid, but he practically lives at our house. Sometimes I just like it to be the family and not the entire teenage population of our city.

So the Boy did nothing because he was up most of the night with his friend, and is now fast asleep on the sofa. Laundry, garbage and cleaning up after himself in the kitchen await him when he gets up. But first he'll yell at me because it's ALWAYS my fault.

I need the giant sized carton of Calgon this weekend.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you don't vote, you're a moron!

My Scottish boyfriend gets more brilliant every day. If you're not a late night person, you're missing the best of television. Smart, hilarious, and adorable, Craig makes my evenings so much more enjoyable. As a brand new American, he's got the whole political system down here in the US. It's shameful that so many native born Americans can't learn from his example.

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Welcome to Autumn

I have finally admitted to myself that summer is over. It's time to celebrate my favorite season, fall. A new look, a new attitude, hopefully a new political party in the White House. You think I'd forget to get a political dig in there? Ha! No way.

I'm not done with the design, but I was testing it this morning and it was working the way I wanted it to, so I figured I'd put it up. I'm planning a bit of a reorg to take a lot of the stuff out of the sidebars. But in the meantime, no more red and black for you!

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This isn't usually my sense of humor but I found this hilarious. Enjoy!

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