Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mom is psychic

Mom is also concerned about microbes moving around in her head, which isn't funny, but that's another issue.

Mom asked about F. yesterday (the day before we officially broke up), for the first time ever; I just said 'he's okay.' Tonight (after the breakup), she asked "what else was new," so I told her. She was initially nice--offered to come stay with me (I told her I was fine, and I am). But she added that she had a feeling about it since Friday or so.

Mom asked why; I said we were too different, and though we'd tried to stretch our connection over those differences, eventually, it wasn't worth it. I invoked her story about why she left her first husband ("it took a forklift to get him off the couch!"); she laughed. It didn't take long before she moved on to telling me I was too smart for my own good, and that I could be 'softer,' more "kitten-like." To which my dad said (to her, facetiously), "just like you."

Times opinion roundup: Don't f* with the nuns

Kristof and Dowd. See also Lisa Miller's piece in the Post.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday evening roundup

This journalist makes valid points about much media coverage of Africa, but the piece would be more effective without the sanctimony. How Swiss does your watch have to be to be a Swiss watch? Some people have their heads so far up their own a$$es that they can't appreciate that some people prefer and/or rely on public transportation.

Friday morning roundup

Helene Cooper and her family bore witness to Charles' Taylor's carnage. What's to be read into China's recent foreign policy shifts? I couldn't have said this better (than Andy Bellati); we all know that internet comments scrape the bottom of the barrels of decency and constructiveness, and the commentary about "diets" is no exception. The comments on the Times' posts on veganism were just depressing, and some of the vegans were no better than some of the haters. I once dated a vegan (before I was one), and was horrified at his dependence on processed foods; he did the food system few favors. I have a 'paleo' friend who agrees that processed foods are a disaster. Yes, high levels of meat consumption are also a disaster, but I'd like us all to stop sniping at each other online and have civilized discussions about the impact of certain foods on our bodies and on the food system? Without ad hominem attacks and faux or misleading nutritional claims? Couples are clashing over what to blog, what not to blog. I've agreed not to post any pictures of F., particularly of the series of him, bonding with Gracie Cat.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

Just say no to Dow weed killer. This is funny and not funny at the same time because it's so on-point. Guys, you have to be careful about whom you sleep with, lest you end up fathering a child with someone really f*ed up. I love penguins.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday morning roundup

Catholic groups: when your Church is welcoming Holocaust deniers, and you're petitioning against Desmond Tutu, you may have a credibility problem. Joel Salatin responds to McWilliams with more sanctimony than accuracy. Pesticides can kill the people who farm our food and live near those farms.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday morning roundup: Corporate social responsibility edition

Okay, I kind-of feel for New England fishermen, but they have to realize that not only is sustainability important to the world and their longterm livelihood, but people shop at Whole Foods so they care about sustainability. So don't complain about WF's' changing its policies "just" to make the "green people" happy.

Oh, Walmart; cover-ups only get you so far.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday morning roundup

Honor your journalists today.

Accusations of media bias have lost all (or at least a lot of) meaning.

The Church, while embracing a holocaust denier, tells nuns to f* off.

Is there a moral imperative against meat consumption? Since I'm keeping score this week: Jon Stewart slammed tofu last night.

I love, love, love NoVa's Asian markets; I have an H-Mart frequent shopper card; and yet, even I couldn't stand Great Wall supermarket. Partly because there are so many Asian markets here and most stay out of legal trouble, it's odd to read the Times' take from a local perspective.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Not becoming my mother (apologies to Ruth Reichl)

By now--if only by way of Saturday's post--you know I don't want or expect sympathy for working late. When I tell you that I got to work at 7:30 AM three days this week, and left around 8pm two days, it's only so you understand how not in the mood I was this evening, as I was walking home from the metro around 8:30, for mom's being herself. In this case, "being herself" entails continuing to complain about something after I've offered her a most reasonable solution. I know--I am not a guy--I know that sometimes people like to, need to talk just to talk, without getting advice, but mom was actually seeking advice. In her typical, "okay, but not that... what else have you got?" way. And I was in no mood. And the fact that mom couldn't gauge my mood once I told her that, at 8:30pm, I was just getting home from work, only annoyed me more.

Mom: Where are you?
A.: I'm just getting home from work. I'm walking from the metro. If I get cut off, it's because the battery's low.
Mom: Listen, I've been getting these obscene phone calls in the afternoon. They started a few weeks ago and then stopped, and today they returned.
A.: Is there a number?
Mom: No.
A.: Okay... don't answer the phone.
Mom: I didn't, but they kept calling.
A.: That doesn't mean you have to answer the phone.,
Mom: But I want them to stop.
A.: Then stop answering the phone!
Mom: But... but... [sigh] I guess we can talk about this more when you get home.
A.: No, we can't. When I get home, I'm eating and then crashing. Was there anything else?
Mom: I guess not.
A.: Okay, let's talk this weekend. For now, don't answer the phone.

I let dad know afterward that he could probably set up the phone to block unlisted numbers. Speaking of dad, yesterday, he had me shaking my head. See, I'd sent him that article about how Russians don't respect Russian cuisine, because I thought he'd find it interesting. I sent him very basic, specific instructions for logging into the article with my account. Username: my e-mail address; password: [password10!]. Without the brackets. Without any extra punctuation, actually, because I thought that would confuse him.

Then, when we talked, he told me it took him forever to figure out how to get into the article. It just didn't cross his mind that the string of letters, numerals, and punctuation following the term "password" in my e-mail, was actually the password. E

And so, even though I figured dad would have trouble with this, the whole thing still irked me. Almost as much as it irked me that once he got in, he read a sentence or two and dismissed the entire article as an essay on the various types of solyanka. But I digress.

My dad's not stupid. He's an electrical engineer, a good one. For someone so smart, he is remarkably slow on the uptake and remarkably bad at following instructions. It's infuriated me many times. And this low-stakes event probably irked me more than it normally would have because I recently went through the same kind of thing with F., over the higher-stakes matter of travel planning. I had sent F. very detailed instructions about calling the airline from which he bought his return flight (ask why your reservation still hasn't been ticketed, be prepared to provide certain information). Actually, I sent several, detailed messages with instructions (in an attempt to impart a sense of urgency); after about three of these, he finally called. The wrong airline.

As I relate to F.--as our relationship progresses and we encounter a greater need for logistics, and thus, higher stakes and greater potential for frustration--I make a conscious effort to not become my mother. Mom nags dad all the time, and some of that time, she's right about the core matter at hand. It may be tempting to dismiss her as a relentless nag, but when I have to deal with dad, I often understand where she's coming from... not that logistics are always smooth sailing with her. But dad is the way he is; mom's nagging has never made him more attentive to detail or less frustrating. I'm not suggesting that she should let it all go, but what she does, doesn't work. So, my challenge is to relate to F. in a way that works. Like my dad, he's a great guy. These frustrations are not deal-breakers... but they can really grate on a relationship if left unaddressed, especially as the stakes get higher and things get crazier. I now know that the first step is communicating my expectations and needs in a non-sarcastic tone, even when I feel that sarcasm is more than warranted. I make a point to release any trace of sanctimony. Example of a sarcastic, sanctimonious statement: "Is it too much to ask, for the one thing I ask you to do for planning for this trip, to actually read the instructions I sent you?" An example of the opposite are hard to come by; they're not intuitive to me, they're not what were modeled to me when I was growing up. It's just what I know, even though I know it doesn't work. She can go on and on and on about how she's the only one who ever does anything around the house, and dad and I just roll our eyes at her (largely because it's not true and never has been). It's like she needs that role. I don't need, or want, that role.

Thursday morning roundup

NATO is not where it needs to be.

Why is the police more interested in shutting down this woman's business than finding her assailant? What about this case?

While we're on the topic of policies and culture that f* over women, see the case of this Moroccan girl who killed herself and this complete abomination in South Africa.

I'm glad they caught the guy, too, but is an iPad worth three days in the hospital?

Would any other northern Virginians be interested in secession? Let the rest of the state fend for itself, rather than leach off our our economy only to f* us over?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday evening roundup

What most surprises me is that Ted Nugent appears remains relevant in any way.

Validation for those of us who have been happily misusing "hopefully" all along.

I didn't realize it was debate veganism week. I can poke many holes in that first writer's arguments and her unsubstantiated claims (soy damages the thyroid?? since when?). If B12 is the biggest issue, it's not hard to get B12 supplements. As for those other nutrients, they are plentiful in a balanced vegan diet; as for pregnant and nursing women, most are taking lots of B complex supplements anyway. The concept of "complete" protein has long been debunked, and just because animal sources of protein are "more efficient," doesn't mean anyone needs that much protein. I could go on. For more resources about carrying and feeding vegan children, see Dr. Holly Roberts' book, PCRM.

Wednesday morning roundup

Maureen Dowd reiterates that the mommy wars are a myth, a construction by the media.

I've always been skeptical of the food desert phenomenon.

Colin Spencer on why people hate on vegetarians:
Although the right to eat in any style one likes has not been a much-discussed issue, at least in huge public forums, vegetarians — along with people whose eating styles differed from the norm for religious reasons — were long treated as a minority, especially, notes Spencer, since the advent of Christianity.

He’s written that the story has long been one of “persecution, suppression and ridicule,” because vegetarianism is “not simply a criticism of meat-eating but a criticism of power … Not to eat meat, or to frown on the captivity and killing of animals, went to the heart of society.”
See also this piece:
“The people who want to shift to a more vegetarian diet find they face physical constraints and mental constraints. It’s not very accepted in our society not to eat meat.”

Look no farther than the second New Yorker article in the same issue to slam vegans:
Upon joining CouchSurfing, you are instructed to compose an online profile, delineating your philosophy and mission, the skills you can teach others, your favorite music, movies, and books, and so much else that you might as well be applying to college... I’d selected Fielding and my other hosts after scrolling through hundreds of profiles, winnowing out those whose narratives included the words “party,” “vegan,” and “free spirit,” and the phrases “I believe in the journey,” “Never stop learning, never stop loving,” and “Burning Man.”

On a more practical vegan note, don't be intimidated by claims that it's too hard (also from the Times article above:
Substitutes like almond milk and rice milk can shock the taste buds, and vegan specialty and convenience foods can cost two to three times what their meat and dairy equivalents do. And new vegans quickly discover that many foods in grocery stores and on restaurant menus have hidden animal ingredients.
The first statement is irrelevant (you don't need specialty or convenience foods) and not really that true; the second one is entirely accurate. In the case of supermarkets, you have to be vigilant about reading ingredients (recall my warning about Trader Joe's soy cheese), and even I can slip (bought some veggie sausage patties with egg white in them, also at Trader Joe's). Restaurants are rough, this is true.

The article goes on about adjusting to tastes and substitutes, and my advice there is to quit chasing after 'fake' versions of the foods you know (I grabbed the sausage patties as a once-in-a-while thing, to serve with a homemade, delicious tofu scramble that I bet would convince an egg-eater (F., for one, is sold on it)).

As with many things in life, this is an area in which to go with the Times rather than the Post. Don't Dionne and Gerson sound positively, bipartisanly tortured by their low-carb delusion?

Jonah Lehrer on creativity:
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Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday evening roundup and response to comment

Meat is still unsustainable no matter how you produce it, and pink slime is the least of your concerns.

I'm very impressed with the way Carolyn answered this letter. We were just talking about this, i.e. how single and/or childless people get the short end of the event/gift stick. I'm certainly not counting, but I would get pretty annoyed if there were an important professional event in my life and the people whose weddings I went out of my way and budget to attend are all, "sorry, it's too much of a pain." It would be different if this were an annual event, but it seems like it's a special, one-time occasion.

Response to comment: You should totally contact her and tell her that she's way to good for that guy, and that she came out ahead in the whole thing. No, I don't know her or know anyone who knows her.

Very quick Monday morning roundup

How to teach your kids to eat (hint: no chicken nuggets or pudding cups).

Does Date Lab go out of its way to select douche bags? F. says he would, for the entertainment factor. Don't even get me started on this: "I don’t typically connect with people that haven’t traveled much — leaves a big void in the conversation." (What does that say about you?") But this kind of thing fits a pattern: "She’s cute, [but] I wouldn’t go much further than that." This is ironic but not surprising; click on the link: she's ten times better looking than he is.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another installment of, "how I know I'm dating the right person"

A.: It's been out there for less than 12 hours and it's already been hit by bird poop.
F.: Those birds are out of control. They get my car every time I park around here.
A.: Well, they'll get your car whenever you park outside.
F.: No, these aren't your everyday birds, these birds are really gross. What are they eating? They must be eating McDonald's stuff that gets left on the ground. Gross.

The latest in annromneygate

Bruni, Klein (flip-flop alert!), and Hirshman.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Adventures in humility

Usually when I start to feel sorry for myself because I'm tired and swamped, I have nothing to complain about, i.e. I'm running from a theater performance to a ballet performance to an outing with friends to a bike ride. This morning, I had some much less exotic adventures on my plate: I had to renew my license in person (for the eye test), open a bank account, and redeem a Groupon out in Landmark. I also had to get a patio umbrella base in Kingstowne, which is why I decided to just hit Franconia for the other errands. This all took hours, partly because of returning traffic into Old Town. I left the house around 8:30 and got back after 1pm.

I couldn't really be annoyed, because I passed the eye exam with no issues (I was worried that I'd get a restriction, would have to drive with glasses, but it was fine). The wait was bad, but not awful. It was the wait at the bank that got to me. See, I'd closed Citi when they threatened to levy monthly fees, and I closed Suntrust when I refinanced (monthly fees without the accompanying mortgage), so I no longer had a brick and mortar bank. And I needed one. I just got a big check from Suntrust for unused escrow, and wasn't about to mail it for deposit. But I digress.

The guy opening the account for me was asking me about my job. He had to ask where I worked to open the account, but he was asking because he'd soon be in a market for a full-time job. He was getting his MBA--commuting a ways to school and work--and feeling despondent about the job market. All I could say was, 'hang in there, things are looking up.'

Then I went to redeem my Groupon at the AT&T store. The guy looked tired. It was his second job. He'd worked all night--in demolition--and then all day, at the mall.

After my round of crazy errands, I could go home and take a nap (well, do yardwork is the reality, but a nap is possible). That's quite the blessing.

Saturday morning roundup

At this point you've already read all you need to about annromneygate, but here and here are some worthwhile words on the matter.

Thankfully, WashPo had a writer brighter (or at least more insightful) than Alexandra Petri address Ashley Judd's essay.

Oh, how Ariel Levy disappoints me:
If “The Joy of Sex” was like “Joy of Cooking”—though in some ways it was closer to Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” what with its strong authorial voice and affection for elaborate undertakings, to which Comfort assigned French names like pattes d’araignée, cuissade, and feuille de rose—“Our Bodies, Ourselves” was like the “Moosewood Cookbook.” Everything in it was healthful, enlightened, nourishing.

Here’s a trick you might try at home sometime: pick almost any recipe in the “Moosewood.” Now add bacon. You will find that the addition of this decidedly unwholesome ingredient makes the food taste much better. “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” likewise, lacked a certain trayf allure. The revised edition of the book—even the original—is a fantastic resource for educating young women (and very sophisticated girls) about their physicality. But as an erotic reference for adults in 2008 it’s a little vegan.
Friends, I've always been bewildered by this claim that bacon makes everything better, and this isn't the first time that claim has made its way into a sexual metaphor. I can't speak to the effectiveness of the sex books (nor that of the bacon lube), but I can assure you that the Moosewood's recipes are absolutely lovely as is. Now, had Ms. Levy formed her metaphor around which book's instructions--like those of the Moosewood--are too complicated for everyday execution, that would have been the start of a meaningful discussion.

By the way, in case you're sick of hearing it from me, hear it from James McWilliams: there's no such thing as sustainable meat.

What war on suburbia??

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More stuff for you to think about

Excellent piece on the faux phenomenon of creep-shaming. Reminded me of dealing with RM, even though the issue never explicitly came up.

Why do Russians hate Russian food? I admit I am not a huge fan.

Wednesday evening roundup

Malawi's new president has wasted no time in being awesome. Bring on the female presidents!

At her request, I'm going to criticize Alexandria Petri's mediocre writing without referencing her appearance. She's not a great writer. I often click on her columns because they're on topics of interest... but she often-but-not-always squanders the space and just rambles on. It took me half-way through the column to understand what it was about, and at that point, I was angry about the substance of her argument. Can't actresses (1) be judged by their skill as well as, if not instead of, their appearance and (2) not have every change in facial puffiness scrutinized? If her point is to complain about the quality of Ashley Judd's writing, that's one thing; if it's to argue that Ms. Judd has no right to complain and/or publicly philosophize about media attention to her appearance, that's another thing entirely, and that thing is a load of crap.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I heart Paul Rudnick

And I heart these two Shouts and Murmurs. Pair the latter one with the The Daily Show video from this morning.

Tuesday evening roundup

Women of childbearing age would do well to move out of Arizona, where, among other things, doctors may soon be free to lie to you when you're pregnant.

This rudest-countries thing is a load of crap. I've found most French people exceedingly polite. And no, Russians aren't perceived as rude because of linguistic differences; it's cultural differences.

Tuesday morning roundup

Fakhra Younas's very sad story just got much sadder, with questionable potential for resulting social change.

What you might take away from this, even though you probably shouldn't, is that people pushing strollers too massive to get by will get violent to clear their path.

Food stamps alleviate poverty.

Jon Stewart asks the Jews to meet him at camera 3:
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Monday, April 9, 2012

Somewhat frivolous Monday evening roundup

You may want to focus on this first letter to Carolyn, but I'd like to direct your attention to the third, which makes me really sad. It makes me sad that people save up for diamonds, much less delay life events because they are saving up for diamonds. Look, I like bling as much as the next girl, and I understand the concept of symbolism and--historically, anyway--collateral. Get the ring you can afford and move on with your life.

The debate over Jessica Simpson's pregnancy weight also makes me sad. I mean, the fact that J-Simps is a celebrity makes me sad, but even sadder is the fact that a woman's weight--particularly pregnancy weight--is a topic of public discourse. It also makes me (continually) sad that people couch catty comments as concern for someone's health.

AT&T (was) negligent, so I (was going to) filling a complaint with the FCC

Update: I have since been contacted by an actual human, with a brain, at AT&T. Of course, this was only after I got a third message offering me the same $4.99/month service to block selected phone numbers. At that point I was just dejected and sent them a sad-in-tone note about what's happened to their customer service. At which point a human with a brain contacted me, apologized for the earlier debacle, and said he would deal with the spam text (and credit my account).

Recall that article I posted about the proliferation of spam texts—particularly the sentence in that article that purported that cell phone companies are supposed to be helpful in dealing with spam texts:
Mobile spam is illegal under two federal laws — the 2003 Can Spam Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which set up the Do Not Call Registry in 2003. The major wireless carriers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Bell Mobility and Verizon Wireless — all also offer ways to report the numbers on their Web sites and can block numbers. A number of apps for Android phones also promise enhanced spam text filtering.

Spammers, though, are endlessly inventive. Mobile carriers and filtering software can detect when a large volume of spam is sent from one phone number, and when the texts try to get someone to click on a Web site.

So spammers are turning to large banks of phone numbers, regularly changing the Web sites they try to get consumers to click, and blasting their messages from the Internet using “over the top messaging systems,” which let them send millions of messages cheaply. The minute a carrier blocks one number, spammers simply start using another.

Even before I read that article, I expected AT&T to be helpful (after all, why would you want to annoy your customers?) Keep in mind that I just signed a two-year contract with AT&T—I was off contract and could go anywhere, but I’ve been an AT&T customer since I’ve had a cell phone (i.e. for over a decade) and saw no need to switch, even as the brand name became associated with various other companies.

I pay AT&T for a whole bunch of minutes, most of which I don’t use. Fine. I accept the terms of that arrangement. I pay AT&T for a bunch of data that I don’t use, because I use more than the much lesser amount allowed on the next lowest plan. Fine. I do not pay AT&T for a texting, because I don’t generally text; I pay them $0.20 per text sent and received. I accept the terms of paying for texts sent, but I resent paying for texts received. I can’t control who texts me, so why should I pay for it? I’ve come to terms with paying for the odd text received, but I really, truly don’t see why I should have to pay for spam texts. And I don’t see why AT&T shouldn’t help me report and thwart spam texters.

So on March 22, shortly after I signed my contract, I received, and reported, a spam/phishing text message offering me a Walmart gift card. I asked AT&T to credit the $0.20 out of principle and also asked them to report this as spam. In response, AT&T offered to change my number for a $36 charge and also tried to sell me a $5/month service to select callers to block. Because it’s not like spammers change numbers and you can predict where the next spam is coming from. But I let it go, because I didn’t have time to deal with it. Until I saw the Times article and thought it was my civic duty to report this spammer. I imagined that AT&T would be interested in stopping this spammer, in protecting its customers from illegal phishing, etc., so I shot them an e-mail pointing out that their initial response to my concerns was not helpful; that I would like them to report that number; and that I would like my $0.20 back.

AT&T’s response was to—sit down for this—defend the spammer. Get an eyeful of this idiocy from Daniel D.:

Please be aware that these other companies aren't owned by AT&T. The other company may believe that you are interested in their messages. Please be aware that most of them send text messages to your number and if you don't respond properly (they normally include how to stop it), then they will continue to send you messages. I apologize that we are unable to waive those charges. Waiving this fee won't stop the other company from messaging you.

Are you f*ing kidding me? What doesn’t he understand about spam? Or does he think I'm stupid? Can you imagine if Google handled e-mail spam that way? If I never asked for this company's services, they have no business texting me. My cell is on a national Do Not Call registry!

Can you imagine elderly people at the end of phishing scams complaining to AT&T and getting this bullcrap in response?

I wrote back to thank AT&T for sending the same unhelpful information twice, even after I’d informed them that it was unhelpful the first time. I also informed them I would be reporting them to the FCC. Here’s what else I’ll do, if I get more spam texts: shut down the messaging option on my phone. I’ve thought about doing it anyway, because anyone text to that number (rather than my Google voice number) is an unsolicited text. My friends know where to find me. I’ve not done that so far because I didn’t mind swallowing the odd charge, but I’m getting to the point where I don’t want to turn an extra penny over to AT&T.

Monday morning roundup

When I say things like, "I'd have a mind to shoot that guy, too," I don't mean that I should be able to. I mean the law should discourage me. This whole article is about what's wrong with "Stand Your Ground," and I generally agree, but--see my previous post about teaching children that actions have consequences--getting drunk and beating down a family's door at 4AM has consequences. No, I don't think the guy who did that should have been shot, but I'm not outraged that the guy who did it--whose wife and baby were in the house, and whose door this guy had already beat down once or twice that morning--hasn't been charged.

There's a handy Droid app that monitors data usage. It's called data watchdog or something.

Weekend craziness

Saturday was not insane, just busy enough--events back to back--that I wasn't up for waiting any more than I had to for the Metro. I did download a trusty Metro app that a friend sent me upon reading my earlier post, and on Saturday I learned to consider human factors when using it.

On Saturday morning, a friend with a truck helped me haul a in-store-pick-up dining set from Home Depot. The dining set will remain in very heavy boxes until the bf (that's getting old, isn't it; let's call him... 'F.') returns from his Easter weekend to help me set it up, but in anticipation of it--it's a very nice set indeed--I decided to really clean up my back yard. But first I really had to clean up my front yard, which was bringing down the neighborhood. So my Saturday was up, paper, yoga, Home Depot, mow lawn and weed front yard, quick lunch, metro over to a play that would run nearly four hours, and if up for it, join some friends on the SW waterfront for cherry blossom festivities. Well, I wasn't up for it, even though the play was very good. I felt like going home. I whipped out my trusty metro app to figure out the next train time, was very excited that I would make it... except that there were a bunch of tourons blocking the entrance to the nearest stop. There would be no passage. Resigned to that train leaving without me, I decided to walk to a less crazy station and to enjoy the beautiful day for the next ten or so minutes between trains by texting/e-mailing outside. So a minute or two before the train would depart, I headed into the station and down the escalator--the one of the two whose left side wasn't being blocked by idiots. I was wearing heels, which clacked, and moving fast, because really, I didn't have much time to spare. But, close to the bottom, all of the sudden, a small child stepped right in front of my. I braked suddenly, nearly falling over. Her father or grandfather moved her out of the way, but said to me, "don't run her over."

Now, people, what's wrong with that?

I said, "I don't intend to, but it's hard when she steps right out in front of me."

He said, "like I said, don't run her over."

Had I had more time to spare, I would have leveraged that teachable moment and pointed out to the parents or grandparents that that would have been an excellent opportunity to teach the child the importance of watching where she's going. A very good skill that's not taught nearly enough. You can't just go stepping to the left on a busy subway system. Of course I'll do my best not to run her over, but why don't you do your best to prepare your child for the realities of coexisting with other traffic, foot and otherwise, rather than having words for someone who nearly fell over not trying to step on your kid?

I'm serious. Teach your f*ing children to watch where the f* they're going. It'll make for a safer childhood and even adulthood.

Sunday was insane, but not in an altogether bad way until the evening, when I went to a play that was neither terribly easy to get to, nor worth the trek. The advantage of an evening play, though I get so tired as it goes on, is that it gives me most of the day to get things done.

I started Sunday with my usual bike ride, but had little time for the usual post-ride chilling with the paper: the backyard beckoned. I took the pickaxe and started weeding. I weeded for hours, hacking at and pulling out big tufts of grass. I took a break to put some stuff in the oven--my rice, beans, sweet potatoes, tofu, and vegetables--for lunch for the week, and went back to weeding. I weeded until I started getting tired enough that I was hitting my ankles with the pickaxe.

I then vacuumed, took out the trash, took out the recycling, dealt with the food, threw my laundry in, hopped in the shower, and set out to Target for kitty litter with less than two hours to spare before I'd have to head out. Alas, Target was closed for Easter because apparently they have no Jews in their employ who'd be willing to work that day. Perhaps the day is so miraculous that cats don't need to poop on it.

Got back, saw a missed call from my parents, called back. My mother asked what I did that day, I said mostly yardwork. Then, for the second time in as many weeks, she lectured me relentlessly about how I just had to see the live telecast of La Traviata, who cares if I had other plans, cancel them. I told her I had to go, was running off to see a play. I then folded my laundry, had a quick dinner, and drove to the play. Yes, drove. Even I won't f* with Metro on a Sunday night, especially when there's a line change involved. Parked, got to the theater almost just in time. As I was waiting to enter the theater, my phone rings, and because I never learn, I answer it.

When I say I never learn, I mean, I think, "mom knows I'm really pressed for time, so she wouldn't be calling me unless it were urgent," when the reality is that as far as mom is concerned, everything is urgent, and there's no convincing her otherwise. I'm serious. Recall this conversation from years ago:

A.: Hello?
Mom: Hi.
A.: Mom, I'm in the middle of something. Is this urgent? If not, I'll call you back.
Mom: Let me just tell you that Smith called me asking for money! Imagine that! The audacity!
A.: Mom, that's not urgent. I. have. to. go.
Mom: Well, let me just tell you--
A.: No. Goodbye.

I could go on (and on) about how mom really does not consider that I have things going on, ever. She'll volunteer me to pick something up from a friend of hers in the area at a given time, or plan a visit without telling me, because it does not cross her mind that I might have plans. Or she'll call me and start expounding on some customer service complaint, with the intention of having me write a letter about it, without it crossing her mind that I'm out and about and in no position to remember the details. But I digress.

Minutes before the show started (a show mom knew an hour ago I was running off to):

A.: Hello??
Mom: A. Since you're doing yardwork, don't forget that you have poison ivy out there.

At least it's not about a complaint letter she needs me to write. But c'mon. Don't you think I know I have poison ivy in my backyard? I mean, that poison ivy has made my life hell more than a few times, and F recently caught some trying to help me eradicate it.

A.: Yes, I know there's poison ivy. I have to go, the play starts in a few minutes.
Mom: It doesn't really ever go away--
A.: I know, mom. I. have. to. go.

I suppose I should be grateful... she's just looking out for me, but all I could muster was annoyance. Which is often the case when there's potential to be grateful because she's just looking out for me. I guess gratitude can share the emotional landscape with annoyance.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday morning roundup

Stephanie Coontz reviews, questions some of the conclusions of, "The Richer Sex."

Also see this contribution to the 'men are more than walking penises' canon.

Really? Wireless carriers are supposed to be helpful? Because I reported some text spam to AT&T--a message I had to pay for no less--and all they did was offer to change my phone number for a high price and sell me a monthly service to block numbers. I'll now report both the spammer and my carrier to the FTC.

Let's agree that unsolicited statement gifts--whether it's a shaving kit for someone you find too hairy or a charitable donation as a wedding gift to a couple you find too wealthy--are in bad taste.

I love Miss Manners, but I'm not sure why anyone turns to her for dating advice. You also just want to shake this woman and say, there are no guarantees in life, much less dating. No one's going to admit to you on a first date that they're there to trash your finances. No one wants to deal with that and there's no shortcut for screening against it. There are all kinds of people out there.

On that note, people who slam online dating need to realize that it's at least no worse than any other way of meeting people. Bf and I were just talking last week about how our respective friends who'd tried to set us up (with other people) were comically misguided, usually because there criteria were, "they're both single." In one case, one of my friends wanted to set me up with someone because I'm "a talker" and he was pretty quiet, so I would apparently have more time to blab indiscriminately. The point is, by all means let your friends know that you're interested in meeting people; but you may as well also meet people in other ways, too.

Darn it, the Times has figured me out and wants to make me pay for access, so I don't know what they have to say about the parenting-by-nationality debate. It's mostly about how American parents are over-involved.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thursday morning roundup

I actually agree with Josh Ozersky on this one: truffle-oil kids are worse than chicken-nugget kids.

The Onion on women voters.

I don't know when--at what event that was supposed to be entertaining--I so wanted ninety minutes of my life back as I did last night at "Arias with a Twist." The puppetry was cool, though the execution could have been smoother (black-costumed and -masked puppeteers worked okay against a black background but looked silly against the red one that invoked hell, as if we weren't already in it). The puppetry was cool; the show was ridiculous.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Oh, Kathleen Parker! You're so reasonable (which is not to say right) so much of the time that, unlike your rabid conservative colleagues, you manage to just sneak things in there. And by things, I mean nefarious assumptions. Take this:
The public opinion research firm QEV Analytics conducted a private poll for the Catholic Association and found that 59 percent of unmarried women think birth control should be handled like any other drug, rather than offered for free. Among married women, the number was 67 percent.

Who said anything about birth control for free? The issue is covered by insurance. Like any other drug.

Mmmm, changing the terms of the debate like that, making coverage sound like socialism. Sneaky, sneaky.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday evening roundup

Grist went all out for April Fool's Day and caught some flack from some humorless environmetnalists over this gag, which I didn't even think was that good. This one, on the other hand, was awesome. Possibly as good as last year's.

This is a joke, right?

Funny, I was just saying to the bf, let's see if we can get seats together for the return flight, because we may be pretty f*ing sick of each other, but better the annoyance we know, and at least we know we're not 300 pounds. Cue PCRM's new ad.

Now that I have a Droid, I'm both impressed with the apps available and dismayed that there isn't an app for that. There's no app to tell me whether pink lady apples are back in stock? There's a WMATA mobile site but not an app--nothing to store my most commonly-frequented Metro stops so I can quickly pick one and see when the next train is? No Randall app to provide snarky narration as I go through a museum? There's a market for this stuff, people!

In unrelated news, Charles Shaw Chardonnay--I'd opened a bottle to cook with over the weekend--is better than I remember it being.

Tuesday morning roundup

Early, structured intervention mitigates trauma in children. Also, overprotection is damaging to kids.

The Administration's fear of being tarred as an overregulator is cramping the FDA's style at the expense of public health. If you want to read more about the regulation debate, this time with regard to food safety, and have a very high tolerance for puns, see Dana Milbank's column.

A more effective way to prevent abortions.


An excerpt from Judith Thurman's profile on Shiaparelli & Prada:
Schiaparelli was thirty-seven and Prada was thirty-nine when they delivered their first collections. But experience of the real world, which was a man’s world for both of them, made them intolerant of female passivity and desperation. They don’t really care what makes a woman desirable to men. Their work asks you to consider what makes a woman desirable to herself.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mitt Romney is challenged to get real on national security.

A debate over the nature of French anti-semitism. I go with the less simplistic point of view.

Who was Vaclav Havel?

This mom is such a piece of work that Carolyn asks her whether she's kidding.

Feel free to split infinitives unless you're not allowed to. And, as we've discussed, feel free to start sentences with conjunctions and end them with prepositions; I just did.

Monday morning roundup

Consumption of bottom-of-the-food-chain fish is no longer sustainable.

The physics of the presidential candidate field.

Deluded parents think they're helping their kids by publishing their works of non-genius.

So much to say about this trend toward apparent submissiveness. I listened to a career webinar the other day that urged women to tone it down, because men found our voices shrill. It's even worse in the field of relationship advice: tone down your alpha female, be nice. Gag me.