Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday evening roundup

A clinic landlord fights harassment with loving attention.

We should keep Judith Warner's defense of the diet-imposing mom, and it's interesting that she excerpts different aspects of the article from the more damning assessments. Also keep in mind that there is another, smarter way to improve your child's health. And a better way to look out for her mental health.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


There are some crafty people in this world, and they truly outdid themselves with this year's Peep Show. Do go through all sixty photos... there's some amazing stuff.

I'm glad humanity found a productive, non-food use for Peeps.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Response to comment and let's smack down some dating BS

Ernessa, thanks for the perspective, and also for the recent link love. I have to admit that I considered linking to your post about the t-shirt test (which I now can't find) a while ago, but figured I had a reputation to uphold (for respecting my 'single' roots, not for hygienic standards).

Hope the Book Festival is cool. I went one day last year and it was a good time. Hope you're finding good local wine.

This writer is spot-on. I'm 34, going on 35, and I always refused to consider myself a hard sell. I'm in danger of getting on my soapbox here, and one day I'm going to give this lecture in full--I already started it in the post that spurred the comment--but ladies, value yourselves and drown out the noise. All kinds of women of all ages, body types, and beauty types happily couple up all the time; the only kind of women who don't, are women who don't know who they are and try to be someone else.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday evening roundup

Some of this stuff would be fine if it didn't market itself as health food.

Helicopter parents ruin Easter for their kids.

Rick Perry has a kind-of awesome sense of humor. Not as surprisingly, so does Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

The Onion on women GOP voters.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


When the bf and I first started dating, I assured him I'd keep him off the blog unless he pissed me off (like he did last weekend) or unless I was merely mentioning him in passing, as part of the context for other posts. This post will be an exception--he's the subject of these conversations, rather than a tangential detail, but it's not entirely unflattering to him. It's actually more about me.


Bf (indicating an ingredient on a menu): What is that?
A.: Oh, you know that. I have some in my fridge...
Bf: I can't identify half of what's in your fridge. To be honest, when I have to go in there [for example, for soy milk for coffee], I try hard not to look at what's inside.

We'd just left the Frida Kahlo photo exhibit. We talked about it a bit, but then it was quiet in the car for about thirty seconds. He put his hand on mine.

Bf: Are you tired?
A.: I'm okay, why.
Bf: It's just very quiet all of the sudden.

Yes, my friends: it takes about thirty seconds of silence on my part for my companion to start worrying about me. But here's what else I'll tell you: don't go changing; may as well date someone who loves how much you talk.

Sunday morning roundup

Please know that your beef comes with a hefty side of deforestation.

Europe's financial woes are being felt in the arts.

Frank Bruni brings us tales of humanity, compassion, and hypocrisy.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday evening roundup

I wonder if Texas legislators feel good about themselves for the ordeal they imposed on this grieving woman. I recommend reading her entire story here.

Jews don't actually puppeteer the government.

I didn't think I'd have anything good to post about Rick Santorum, but here it is. Incidentally, I was just in that area last week.

Who's calling us ugly??

I cuss out my cat all the time, but I try to keep it indoors.

Friday morning roundup

Wow, Mali?? F*.

I know it's politically incorrect to "blame" the parents for their kids' criminal activity, but you've got to wonder in the Zimmerman case. I can't believe this family is defending him. Don't get sanctimonious, parents; this isn't about stuff you can't control. I won't necessarily be able to keep my kids from screaming on a plane or throwing tantrums in supermarkets, but I can sure as hell let them know that should they choose to engage in seriously harmful shit, they're on their own.

Frank Bruni has a health-induced gustatory ephiphany:
You never really quite appreciate just what a cornucopia of food alternatives exists — just how many culinary directions you can set off in — until a few are cut off and you’re forced to re-route yourself. That’s a lesson that people with celiac disease and with diabetes have learned. It’s what vegetarians have long asserted. And it’s what gout is teaching me. In diet books, the word “substitution” comes across as some pathetic euphemism for “sacrifice” and “compromise,” a positive-spin noun born of negative circumstances. But substitution is indeed a plausible course, and not necessarily a punitive one. At breakfast, oatmeal thickened with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter can provide the same wicked indulgence that pork sausage does.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Phone call

I sent my parents an e-mail yesterday saying that they might want to get on getting their ticket. And also that bf and I will be sharing an apartment the week of the wedding, with each other and not with them. I called today on my barely-functioning phone to follow up.

Mom: I don't know. I just don't feel that well. I'm on antibiotics again, I'm always tired.

This reminds me a little of how mom backed out of visiting for Thanksgiving a few years ago once she realized that tickets weren't cheap. And once I'd already turned down other plans and bought a bunch of food because I thought they were coming. Mom has felt poorly, on and off, for the better part of three years. I'm not happy about this, but based on my mother's refusal to listen to logic (don't fast, get some sleep, etc.) I have chosen not to stress about what I can't change.

Mom: I talked to [the bride's parents]. They were understanding, said it would probably be stressful--there'll be lots of young people around, there'll be lots of shuffling from one place to another.

Translation: Bride's mom, a very, very close friend of my mom's, is well aware of mom's drama queen tendencies and isn't sure mom can/will tamp them down for the wedding. I actually don't think she's giving mom enough credit... well, at least I think she's exaggerating mom's willingness to create drama at someone else's family event.

A.: I'm sorry to hear that. I think you might have a good trip. But do what you need to do.
Dad: We're still thinking of going.
A.: I understand.
Mom: What's up with you?
A.: Lots. I refinanced, got much of the trip figured out, and ordered a smartphone.
Mom: Ok. What else is up?
A.: Is that not enough?
Mom: No, that's fine.
A.: Okay, good.
Mom: Anything else?
A.: No. You?
Dad: Work is busy. In a good way.
A.: I'm glad to hear it.
Dad: We'll keep you posted about the trip.
A.: Okay, thanks.

Thursday evening roundup

There are lots of reasons to eat less meat.

Young people don't care much about cars.

Thursday morning roundup

In Mexico, art serves to humanize crime victims.

Gail Collins wonders whether the gun lobby is a victim of its own success.

Do you suffer from a glut of useless kitchen gadgets?

Baby sloths are so cute that they're adorable even when pooping:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

If you're still eating industrially-produced meat, you need to get your head checked.

If you fall off the pier because you're walking and texting, you might want to get your head checked.

If you'd trade brains for breast size, you haven't any brains to spare.

More women are apparently changing their names upon marriage.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday morning roundup

Watch out for norovirus.

I can't speak to the accuracy of this paragraph of Frank Bruni's with regard to Catholics, but it definitely rang true with regard to many American Jews:
These Catholics look to the church not for exacting rules, but for a locus for their spirituality, with rituals and an iconography that feel familiar and thus comfortable. In matters religious, as in “The Wizard of Oz,” there’s no place like home, and Catholicism is as much ethnicity as dogma: something in the blood, and something in the bones.

These tips for dating a vegetarian are common sense. I'm so happy not to have these problems.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday morning roundup

One businessman's long-fought triumph over Greek red tape.

Can I just say that a couple of friends have given me crap over the years for expressing a preference for dating men who read fiction? I just sensed that there was something emotionally off about men who don't. Well, here's my vindication.

Also: bilingualism really does make you smarter.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday morning roundup

Gail Collins makes a great argument for keeping politicians out of our collective uterus.

A memo from our feline companions.

My parents tend to send me a lot of crap, but this video is awesome:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Why did I even feel guilty?

I was in the supermarket this morning, on the way back from my bike ride, when I saw a missed call and message from mom. I thought maybe she was ready to buy her tickets for this summer and had a question for me. She did, but not about tickets.

Mom: How do you crack those nutshells? I've been nearly breaking my teeth trying to get them open.
A.: What nutshells? What nuts?
Mom: You know, those nuts.
A.: You have a lot of varieties of nuts around the house.
Mom (to dad): V.! What are those nuts called? (To me) Pistachios.
A.: Mom! Why were you even trying to crack pistachio shells with your teeth? Use your fingers.
Mom: I can't! I bought these at [the Russian store]. They're small.
A.: Mom!
Mom: Yeah, you're right. I shouldn't be breaking my teeth. I'll try using my hands.
A.: Good.

I have almost 30k miles left after getting my ticket, so I offered them to the bf for his return flight. Did he get right on it? Was he at all excited about the prospect of saving $500 on the trip? I doubt, it because all he could muster was a four-word response to say he'd look into it. Do I want to stay with someone who becomes emotionally (and practically) unavailable for an entire month of the year?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Okay, this sounded more blogworthy in my head

My boyfriend and I--if our relationship survives March Madness--will travel to Europe this summer for a family friend's wedding. I'll go a few days early, to a nearby city, and train over to where the wedding is. He'll join me there. My parents are also going to this wedding, and they also want to travel to a nearby city or two. They're not sure which, but they're considering joining me, a few days before the wedding. This would actually be great: I'll have travel companions, and I'll have some time--about three days--on my own with my parents, and then the bf and I will have more leverage to do our own thing the following week when we're all together.

The fun part is getting there. I just booked my ticket on miles. I felt the obligatory Jewish guilt of doing so without consulting any of my travel companions, but we've been talking about getting our tickets for weeks--and I hadn't seen award seats for months--so when they showed up, I had to jump on it. The bf may be annoyed that I didn't coordinate with him, but I had to do what I had to do, and--yes, I know this isn't a healthy relationship approach--but I have some (March-Madness) annoyance to throw right back at him. This post isn't about coordinating with him--I bring up his role only to do justice to the complexity of the situation; it's about coordinating with my parents. Here's a timeline:

-December: Parents and I discuss going to this wedding, agree that we're all going. They're not sure where else they'll go (visit dad's sister in Germany? hit the Balkan beaches?), nor am I.
-January: I let bf know to start thinking about whether he'd be interested, and, if so, to apply for a passport.
-February: We should really buy tickets, but prices are very high. I rule out the Balkans, decide to save it for another trip; settle on three days in a nearby city.
-Late February: I tell my parents where I plan to go. Hound bf about the passport.
-Early March: I tell mom I'm going to buy my ticket soon. She says to find out about hers, too; I say I can only do that if she decides on her travel plans; she says she'll just do what I do. I say, "I don't think so; please figure out what you're doing. You're retired, dad will likely have retired; you haven't spent as much time in that part of Europe, so make the most of it." Separately, I tell dad that the bf will be joining me; he doesn't react. Over dinner with friends, I invite myself and bf to where they'll be moving in the fall. Bf better get on that passport.
-Last week: Dad decides not to retire (specifically, his company decides to find a way to keep him on); mom and dad definitively decide to join me in nearby city three days before the wedding, tell me keep an eye out for inexpensive tickets. I point out that I'm leaving from a different city. I tell mom that the bf will be joining me; she doesn't flip out. She does ask whether I've told the bride (yes, of course). I decide that bf and I will have to go to Costa Rica to visit the Sloth Sanctuary; perhaps because I don't declare my decision out loud, bf finally submits his passport application.
-Yesterday: Get back from my business trip; deal with paperwork for my refi; realize that I'm not getting into grad school; have another conversation with mom about how she needs to figure out what her travel plans are, because tickets are not going down, and she'll want more rather than fewer flight options (with efficient connections). She says sure ticket prices might go down. Then she lectures me about how it's okay that I didn't get into the grad program because good writers already know how to write--it just comes to them; for example, Pushkin cried when it was time to kill of Gherman. I remind her that she told me this every day over the holidays. To her credit, she meant it as a pep talk, and it kind of worked.
-Today: On a whim, I check to see whether there are award flights, and there are! So I buy them (see guilt trip above). I call parents before I complete the transaction. Mom says, "what? I thought we were going to that other city afterward?!" I said, "no, we've discussed this." My dad backs me up. Mom says, "okay, whatever," and proceeds to lecture me about writing and how Pushkin cried but had no choice but to kill of Gherman. I reminded her that we've discussed this and that we could discuss it again another time, but I wanted to complete my transaction. She concurred, I got my ticket, and I sent her, dad, the bf, and the bride my itinerary. Mom and dad will hopefully get their ticket soon. The bf may get his ticket when he emerges from his man-cave at the end of March.

This is one of my best friends getting married, and I'm going to be at her wedding. Out of the four of us, I'm the one who most wants/needs to be there. I was willing, but less than thrilled, to pay $1,500 to get there, so I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to pay ten times less. Why am I trying to convince you? You're probably on my side.

Friday morning roundup

Did you think Mr. Frothy Mix couldn't get any more clueless?

Are we setting absurd obstacles for foreign tourists?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday evening roundup

If there's any example of government meddling that can make me understand the ire of the tea party, it's this. Only that was a confused teacher, rather than government policy (just like it was a confused TSA agent who wouldn't let a nursing mom bring lactation supplies without first filling the bottles). All I will say is that any person--teacher or otherwise--who tries to feed my kids chicken nuggets better be ready for a lawsuit.

Oh, Date Lab. Someone give this guy a medal for not walking away upon discovering that his date was Not Blond.

Colbert on the politics of talking about climate change.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wednesday morning roundup

Latin American prisons (perhaps this doesn't apply to all countries, but the Times didn't make that exception) are a disaster.

Kathleen Parker reminds the presidential candidates that Southerners don't appreciate condescension. We've discussed how no group likes to be referred to by an associated food, but I will take this opportunity to point out that I'm in the south now, and I had the most amazing hush puppies yesterday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Monday evening rant and ramble

You can say many things about Rush Limbaugh, but at least with him, you know what to expect (misogyny). I don't know about you, but I don't generally expect outward misogyny from the Washington Post. So what the f* is this? The only thing Courtland Milloy didn't do was suggest that the source of all this anger among white women is PMS. White women make their voices heard through their unique access to wealthy men? What the f*** is that?? I had no idea that white women were immune to poverty, abuse, crime, unequal pay and other forms of job discrimination, and health risks. Not to mention disrespect. Did you know that bearing a child these days is akin to downloading a file? It's not like white women have a stake in women's health. Mr. Milloy would have you believe that only black women (not even Latina women?) are losing out on basic health care in Texas because of the loss of Planned Parenthood funding in that state? That this is somehow the biproduct of bickering among priveleged white women? What the hell is this:
For the white woman, perhaps, it is the fear of losing the rights that she’d come to take for granted that has led to the explosive displays of rage. For the black woman, thwarted in her drive to win some of those same rights, fear of not getting what she deserves is probably fueling a silent fury that will soon erupt as well.
I didn't realize that victories in reproductive rights were victories for white women only. Maybe I just need to read the Post more, because I've been really out of touch.

I'm business-traveling, so I have access to a TV... and HBO to boot. I started flipping channels at random and came to "Game Change." I did not find it, as some have said, flattering to Sarah Palin, but it is, nonetheless, sympathetic to her. I feel for her as a person (being away from her kids, having a son in deployment, being personally attacked) but I can't forgive her, as a politician, for plunging the level of national discourse and pandering to the lowest common denominator. I don't feel bad for her getting taken to task for being more ignorant of domestic and foreign policy issues, beyond the expectations for any citizen, much less a candidate for national office. The film does give you enormous respect for Sen. McCain and his advisors. I still disagree with them on some policies, but I respect him tremendously. Who I do feel bad for are those people who felt heard by a politician for the first time. I don't know that they're right in feeling so--they have access to elected representatives, even though they may not know it; perhaps their community organizers could help them with that. Or maybe they just need Courtland Milloy to tell them that they don't have any problems.

Other thoughts on the film here, from Capehart, Cohen, Bruni, and more Bruni.

While we're reading Bruni, here's him on how slut-shaming is an epidemic. It's also apparently illegal in Florida.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

Friday evening roundup

The Economist charts women's attitudes toward domestic violence, by country.

Bibi's 1944 analogy makes many Jews (including Israelis) cringe.

Can we talk about the immediately evident things that are wrong with this article? Since when is full time motherhood, for example, a life of leisure? And why is .1 percent a year a trend? Care to offset the story with statistics about families where women become the sole earner?

I can't speak for my fellow bureaucrats and Washington residents, but I certainly care about national forests.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I look awesome

Perhaps in honor of International Women's Day, I am taking the opportunity to take a counterstrike against the unfortunate trend of fat talk. The title of this blog will stay the same, since my mother missed no opportunity as recently as a few months ago to tell me that I'd gained weight, and who am I to waste my breath challenging her on something like that? But that's not to say that I won't tell you, so here it goes: I'm quite thin. I bring this partly up because several friends whom I hadn't seen in a while recently told me that I looked quite thin, and asked why that might be. I told them I didn't know, but I'll tell you what I'm doing and not doing.

What I'm doing:

-Eating a $hit-ton of carbs. Oatmeal for breakfast, rice for second breakfast, a sweet potato before I hit the gym, maybe a couple of corn tortillas (rolled with beans) after the gym, with an apple for dessert; a bowl of pasta for dinner, maybe some more fruit for dessert. I love carbs!

-Consuming a fair amount of fat (ground flaxseeds in my oatmeal; nuts or seeds as a snack; soy products; olive oil on my salad and pasta).

-Standing up all the time. I have a standing desk at work, and even though I often cheat (sit on another part of the desk), it does get me standing more than a chair would.

-Eating whatever I want, and drinking a glass of wine or two a day.

-Going to more restaurants than ever before in my life.

What I'm not doing:

-Counting calories, carbs, or grams of fat.

-Writing down what I eat.

-Eating when I'm not hungry.

-Taking supplements (apart from B12).

-Letting the presence of body fat preclude me from declaring that I look awesome.

International Women's Day roundup

You'd never know this based on public discourse these days, but men have sex, too.

Thought you've seen and heard the worst of old men trying to bully Sandra Fluke? Did you hear this:
Conservative cartoonist Gary McCoy depicted Fluke as a fat, middle-aged hypocrite bending over to scrawl her number on a men’s room stall stall. “Stay out of my uterus, government…that is, right after paying for my free birth control,” the caption reads.
All I can say is, thank goodness, this International Women's Day, women have a hell of an inspiration and role model. Let's hope a whole generation of young women take note of this brave, intelligent, articulate, dedicated, tenacious woman who has devoted so much of herself to standing up for women. Is there any doubt in anyone's mind--apart from those demented ones of Limbaugh and his cohorts--that her parents are proud as hell?

I agree with most of Lonely Planet's rules for air travelers, but I wish they would place some responsibilities on parents. Parents are to try to contain/comfort/entertain their children. If they are doing that and the children scream anyway, other passengers shall not give them dirty looks.

I don't know who these people are. I'm guessing they're people with kids, because otherwise they're just not great at managing their finances. In fairness, they may also be without health insurance, or they may be carrying a $hit ton of debt. I live in the DC area on a single income that is much less than the nationwide figure of $150k (and thus the regional one of $218,127.70), and yes, I know these are household incomes we're talking about, but still--I pay as much for housing than as multi-person households. And yet, I would say I can afford the basics, some extras, and some savings. Just barely, but I can. So, I ask you--exempting the whole child-rearing issue--who the hell are these people who think one needs $150k to subsist?

If you eat yogurt, you probably want to make your own.

Thursday morning roundup

Russian teenagers are committing suicide in droves.

Kerry on why posturing and pandering is not helpful.

Milbank on the politicization of gas prices.

Petri on Limbaugh's advertisers and what they say about his listeners.

Gail Collins devotes a full column to Seamus.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

If you've been confused as to whether you're a slut, here's a handy flowchart. Here's another question you might be wondering about, if you're a woman: are you a person?

Pattern alert: Limbaugh takes aim at another educated single woman.

Continue to enjoy literature written by women, but don't mourn the demise of the chick lit label. Can I just state that I was an early fan of "Bridget Jones' Diary," as I was living in Britain at the time the book was already big there? For all of you that have only seen the movie, the book is quite good.

The irony of complaining about gas prices.

Why shouldn't babies be in first class? What about being in coach entitles to you to extra pain? In all seriousness, the article makes a good point about winning the goodwill of fellow passengers by making a sincere effort to calm and/or entertain your child.

Wednesday morning roundup

Websites where one can report petty bribery are an excellent idea.

Dowd deconstructs the bloviaters, as does Jon Stewart.
The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Really, French people? Halal meat is your number one concern? Really?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday evening roundup

Who knew that international diplomacy was a lot like a playground?

Weingarten makes an excellent point about Sandra Fluke's testimony, which I highly recommend that you read (it is linked). Since that post can be a bit partisan, I'll follow up by saying that we need more conservatives like David Frum. And fewer like Patricia Heaton.

Don't fear the soy.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday evening roundup

The theological and commerical implications of the Limbaugh statements.

Capehart on how equal rights are equal rights. I especially love John Lewis's speech, spoken over a decade ahead of his time:

The first of these photos is especially breathtaking.

Y'all know I love a good Venn diagram.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday morning roundup

This family's case epitomizes the truth behind choice: nobody else can tell this woman what's best for her family; only she should, and should have the right to, make that decision.

What Russian election fraud looks like at the local level.

China-India border tensions heat up.

The Pearl family did not appreciate the posthumous baptism of their late son, but still managed a gracious response.

Fareed Zacharia recommends a reality-based Afghanistan policy.

The wealthy have a tendency to be less ethical. With exceptions, of course.

Free speech is free speech. Let this confused dude waste his money in Clarendon.

Kathleen Parker takes issue with Mr. Frothy Mix and his comments about college.

How to protect yourself from the new Google.

I find myself devoting much too much of this blog to human douchiness, so I want to take this time and space to human ingenuity and goodness by posting the obituary for Dr. Tina Strobos and the recent New Yorker piece on face transplants. The latter is quite long-winded, but it truly highlights the creativity, drive, and goodwill of the people involved.

On a related note, congratulations to the Smithie who won for best documentary!