Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Rest in peace, Jerry Orbach. Passed him on the street once in my old neighborhood, Inwood. That's the northern most part of Manhattan, near 200th Street. There was plenty of room for production vehicles to set up and they often did right in front of my building. I enjoyed his work on Law and Order very much.
Posted DEC 29 2004, 7:32 PM CDT (link here)
The system to monitor the system:

Headline:

Recount in Ohio Narrows Bush's Victory Margin

True enough. Paragraph six out of the nine:

Kerry gained 734 more votes in the recount, and Bush picked up 449, mostly from disqualified ballots that were counted in the second tally because hanging chads had come loose when ballots were handled again or rerun through counting machines. That put Kerry 285 votes closer to Bush. The president's victory margin declined by about three dozen more votes when some counties adjusted their certified vote totals.

Emphasis added.

Posted DEC 29 2004, 12:43 PM CDT (link here)

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Holiday travel: Great picture illustrating the airline mess this holiday. What would you do? I think I'd just go to Walmart or Target, buy a few things and wait for the airlines to mail me my luggage. I pretty much have to do that anyway when we drive around Texas and Oklahoma visiting three sets of grandparents. We always leave something at home or at their place. Or worse yet, take something that's not ours. It's very difficult to manage domestic life on the road, especially when you have a husband to help, not a staff. I don't want to micro-manage him, but I need him to help, and I do want him to remember to pack socks for the baby.

Miss E. got a new suitcase for Christmas, two days early so that she could use it on the trip. She insisted on packing it. She stuffed pants and various matching, and not-so-matching shirts in the main compartment. In the smaller zippered detachable backpack, she packed her Mr. Potatohead, a six-inch ruler she'd gotten at school, her Elidel, two hair scrunchies she never wears (but just in case), a few pony-tail holders, a plastic Santa, two Fisher-Price little peoples that were giveaways at the mall, and a myriad of other things that she rarely uses or plays with, but decided she might need. Painfully cute.

I let her take it all, but insisted on socks and underwear as well. I'm such a mom.
Posted DEC 28 2004, 6:33 PM CDT (link here)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Nineteen degrees and snow on the ground. Hurray! It's a white Christmas in North Texas. We, however, are leaving today for Grandma's house, where , Grandma just reported, there's no snow on the grownd. Ah, well.

Yesterday, was Miss E.'s Christmas program and party, where my Scroogie mood gave way to tearful, blithering idiocy in the land of cuteness. Ms. Marybeth's pre-school class sat in a semi-circle, criss-cross applesauce, singing and doing hand movements to Christmas songs. One kid sang every note at the top of his lungs. Miss E. did her usual--sang, but was too distracted to participate in many of the hand movements. At one point she lifted her skirt to check something on her stomach. A kid two spots away, to the pained expression of his mother, kept laying down, kicking the wall behind him, and picking his nose.

After the program, the recently out-of-diapers children were all well-behaved and somewhat shy and self-conscious with their juice boxes and snacks and sugar cookies, as were most of the parents hovering benind them making polite conversation with one another.

Nikita, is that your daddy?

Uh huh.

Is he the best daddy in the world?

Uh uh.

Kids are great ice breakers.

I, after rushing in from the snow and ice with a shoeless baby in an oversized adult winter hat, tried to break a little ice myself by noting aloud that I really should buy winter wear for the baby. Houston winters are in my blood; I'll never be prepared for what's to come anywhere north of there.

Well, if there's one New Year's resolution I can make, it's to try to do better.

The pre-school party ended with Merry Christmases and more snowfall. We made a bee-line to Target for some seriously cute baby winter wear, and though I had one more stop to make, I couldn't make Snort wait for lunch and a nap, so home we went where Tech Support met us soon after. The Techmobile, not being very trustworthy on ice, he finished his day's work from home.

Later, while Miss E. enjoyed rest time in her room with a new Santa book, Snort and I ventured once more in the snow--this time both of us in shoes and hats--for Tech Support's last gift, and it was there in front of Panera bakery at Vista Ridge Mall in Lewisville, late in the afternoon, lightheaded and dizzy from Christmas cheer neglecting myself at breakfast and lunch, I bought a blueberry muffin small cake and swallowed it whole. Not helpful to my diet.

Next year, I'll try to do better.

Merry Christmas, dear readers! I hope to have more interesting posts in the future!
Posted DEC 23 2004, 12:08 PM CDT (link here)

Monday, December 20, 2004

You must try this!
Uh, you take six pears and cut them lenthwise into quarters, scoop out seeds.

Melt a stick of butter in oven proof pan, add half cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, can't remember how much but around a 1/8 tsp cinammon, 1/2 nutmeg and one tsp vanilla. Plus, 1 tblsp bourbon if you've got it.

Add pears to it and baste

Then put the whole thing in the oven on 375 for about 15 to 30 minutes, or until pears are tender.

Remove from oven and remove pears from pan.

Add cup of cream to pan and boil on medium until the drippings carmelize.

Pour over pears and add about cup of coarsely chopped (lightly toasted?--I didn't toast mine) walnuts.

It was delicious!
Posted DEC 20 2004, 2:41 PM CDT (link here)
If you read this WaPo article on how tough it is to be in the black middle class, and were left feeling dissatisfied, like I was, read Mickey Kaus today. He makes some valid criticisms of some very weak reporting.
Posted DEC 20 2004, 11:54 AM CDT (link here)

Quote of the day: Wouldn't you feel degraded to be seen in the company of a cowardly lion?
Posted DEC 20 2004, 9:56 AM CDT (link here)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Good grief, I'm going to die an old woman in the gutter! That's IT! Christmas is cancelled! Here are five scenarios from the Sunday Journal (subscription required?):

You retire with a plump nest egg and a raft of wonderful plans, only to be hit with a brutal stock-market decline. Your investment losses, combined with your need for spending money, wreak havoc on both your portfolio and your retirement dreams.

Inflation takes off, so you need more and more income to cover your cost of living. Problem is, the income from your bonds, your company pension and your immediate annuity are all fixed, so every year brings a further cut in your standard of living.

The markets are kind and inflation is benign, but you live far longer than you ever imagined. Eventually, your savings are depleted and all that remains is your monthly Social Security check.

To guarantee yourself a stream of lifetime income, you sink your nest egg into an immediate annuity. Soon after, you fall terminally ill. Result: In return for your hefty annuity investment, all you receive is a few years of income.

Worried that you will outlive your savings, you spend your golden years scrimping and saving. Now, at age 94, you have a huge portfolio, but precious few fond memories.

Sound frightening? It gets worse. If you try to protect yourself against any one of these five nightmares, you almost invariably leave yourself vulnerable to one of the other four.

If you invest heavily in stocks, for instance, you should have plenty of money later in retirement -- if you don't get wiped out by a vicious market crash. Similarly, if you load up on bonds and fixed annuities, you won't have to worry about a stock-market crash -- but you could see your standard of living eviscerated by inflation.

Well, they do list six different things to prepare for the above nightmares. In a nutshell, 50 percent in stocks, 25 percent in "money-market funds and short-term bond funds." The rest? A "mix of high-quality bonds, inflation-indexed Treasury bonds, high-yield junk bonds and foreign bonds, and then funnel the interest payments into your cash reserve.Alternatively, you might sink part or all of this 25 percent into an immediate fixed annuity that pays lifetime income."

Still, I'm not sure I can enjoy the next forty years worrying about the next forty years.
Posted DEC 19 2004, 6:32 PM CDT (link here)

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Nice work by Vodkapundit noticing a piece in Christian Science Monitor about low morale and dessertions by the "thousands" in the military was not sourced. He posts a UPI report that says the number of dessertions are actually decreasing.

Whose the proud editor at CSM?

Posted DEC 18 2004, 11:15 AM CDT (link here)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Our culture simply does not support breast-feeding 100 per cent. Too bad because:

A groundbreaking study published earlier this year indicates that nursing can reduce the risk of death, including by SIDS, for babies younger than a year old...

..Exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months and prolonged nursing afterward benefits children by reducing the occurrence of diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis and decreasing the risk of obesity, leukemia, asthma and lowered IQs, according to the Journal of Public Health. Mothers who breast-feed longer also see lower breast cancer rates, the Journal said.

Found this part of the article interesting too:

Breast-feeding numbers are growing nationwide, but America still has one of the lowest breast-feeding rates among developed countries, even though at least 28 states, including Texas, generally protect a mother's right to breast-feed in public.

But experts say the cleavage clashes with a culture that worships sex, such as the breast buffet at Hooter's or TV characters who flash with maximum exposure. That's a deviation from the strait-laced Victorian age, when it wasn't unusual to see a photo [wait a minute--a photo?] of a breast-feeding mother showcased above the fireplace.

Emphasis added. Well, I'm in the process of giving it up, with my son at 7 and a half months. It is extremely inconvenient, running home every hour and a half to two hours, or finding a hiding place. Plus, my little guy is a giant beast, fitting into 12-month clothes with the physical reflexes of a seven-month-old. He's rough on me, and I got infected with a painful little sebacious cyst (blocked sweat gland) due to him I suppose.

The owner of the restaurant in the above story, who kicked out a breastfeeding mom because she refused to cover up, claims she was quite immodest. I wonder if that is so. With my first baby, when I lived in Austin, I became quite comfortable breastfeeding in public, and very proud that I could breastfeed at a restaurant table with no one taking notice that I had done so at all. Still, though I was careful nothing showed, I always took care to cover up, lest someone take offense anyway.
Posted DEC 16 2004, 7:39 PM CDT (link here)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

My oldest sister instilled in me the importance of gentleman always carrying a hankerchief--"Dad always carries one"--and I, having married the most gentle of gentlemen, except for this one failing, bought him a set for Christmas one year early on in our relationship. I haven't seen them since that Christmas, until he recently put them among the items to be sold at a future garage sale. Miss Manners makes the case for them here:

Extending the visibility of hand signals is not limited to running along the train platform miming "I can't bear to let you out of my sight." It can also be for attracting attention while screaming, "You've got the keys! The keys, the keys! Open the window and toss me the keys!" to the departing passenger who smiles from behind the glass and waves back.

Anyone who might have occasion to declare "Don't shoot -- I surrender!" should be sure to carry a clean white handkerchief, although under the circumstances, a dirty one might do. The same is true of those who might like to notify passing helicopters and ships that they are not lolling on desert islands for their health and very much want to leave now if someone would be kind enough to offer them a lift.
It must have been a let down to get that as a Christmas gift, but the gift was brimming with good intention. Last year, Tech Support got me a wireless mouse as a Christmas gift. (Aside: Colleen's Tech Support got her the same thing, so it must be a well-discussed gift idea among those in the programming industry.) The wireless mouse is a great frustration-reducing element to my desktop life. The wire on the wired mouse was too short and I struggled with it daily.

Perhaps if it had come in cashmere I'd have been more excited about it. Cashmere is more romantic, but certainly not as useful and daily life-altering (although enough cashmere sweaters might yet change my life!). Dave Barry makes the case for Christmas gift-buying men here:

The Wise Men, being men, didn't even start shopping for gifts until the last minute, when most of the stores in the greater Bethlehem area were closed for Christmas Eve. The only place still open was Big Stu's House of Myrrh. So the Wise Men showed up at the manger, handed their baby gifts to Mary and then headed for the eggnog.

Mary looked at the gifts -- which were not wrapped, nor accompanied by cards -- rolled her eyes, tossed the gum resins to the goats (who ate them) and said, "Next Christmas, we are going to have some gift-giving rules." But the Wise Men didn't hear her, because by then they were over by the crib trying to teach the baby Jesus to pull their finger...

..your standard man, at this point in the Christmas season, has purchased zero gifts. He has not yet gotten around to purchasing an acceptable gift for his wife for last Christmas. He did give her something last year, but he could tell by her reaction to it that she had not been dreaming of getting an auto emergency kit, even though it was the deluxe model with booster cables and an air compressor. Clearly this gift violated an important rule, but the man had no idea what this rule was, and his wife was too upset to tell him.

It is important to remember, when you untie the ribbon around your auto emergency kit this year that your safety, well-being and comfort was what was foremost in your gentlemen's mind this season. That thought alone makes me merry.

Posted DEC 12 2004, 4:18 PM CDT (link here)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Holy Toledo, they're both sleeping. Right now. At the same time. If I could get this to happen every day, I'd ...why I'd ...probably just surf the net.

Milk comes from a cow.

Yes, and this milk is called condensed milk.

Condensed milk comes from a condensed cow.

Not much else to tell, Miss E. said she wore a big smile on her face today at school and that her teacher Ms. Marybeth liked it and hoped to see it again. Can't do better than that.

I'm disappointed to have very little to report. Not much going on. Just the usual suburban child-rearing thing. My sister said that's a good thing, and the way I feel today, it is. The house is moderately clean. The tomato soup I made on Sunday is thawing and tonight is ice cream night. Can't do better than that.

Wish I could though. It's been fifteen months and my friend's husband was turned down after four interviews for yet another job. I've never felt so helpless and the best advice I could give, because she asked, was that they try to be kind to one another. That's no easy task under such strain, I remember.

We're almost three years out of Tech Support's lay off and just getting back to normal. But the lay-off stays with me and that makes it hard to spend. I do though. For instance, we have a fancy parmesan cheese grater, of the Olive Garden variety. What could be more luxurious than that? I could use the flat metal grater, which scrapes my knuckles, but there's something about turning that crank that makes the food taste better, more gourmet. Parmesan is Miss E.'s favorite type of cheese, and if that brings her a smile tonight at dinner? Well, like I said, can't do better than that.

Posted DEC 1 2004, 4:08 PM CDT (link here)

Cold and flu season: Miss E. is on the fourth day of her third (or fourth?) fever since September. It came with a tummy ache, about which I was initially doubtful. "My tummy hurts" can also be interpreted the following ways: I'm hungry, I'm feeling shy, and I'd rather not.

But then she got a fever so I called the doctor because last year I called the doctor on her third feverish day and Doctor Jill said if I had come in within the first two days, she could have treated her flu, but as it was her fourth day on the fever, we'd just have to wait it out. We waited eleven days.

So this time the nurse said come in--it's probably not the flu, because there's no runny nose or achiness, but it may be strep, which sometimes causes a stomach ache. Nurse Jaimie swabs the throat; the doctor also ordered a urine sample. I take Miss E. to the potty room, and as it is her first time, she has no idea what's about to happen. She lets it all go before I could get the cup under her, but I catch one very small drop. From that Jaimie, detects white blood cells. Further tests are required but they need more urine. So, an 8 oz. pedialite is brought in. Nothing. I give her eight ounces of water. We try. Nothing. I give her 12 more. Mojave desert. Eight more ounces. "My bottom doesn't need to!" Fine. Eight more ounces. "I can't."

So we head to the store to pick up a prescription for me--I have a big red lump in my---wait for it--breast! It's a blocked milk duct from nursing. It's sore and about the size of an acorn. Still--Holy you-know-what! My nurse simply phoned in the prescription, didn't bother to have me come in. Remain calm, Bystander.
Are you tired? Run down? Need to lie down? Do you feel a fever coming on? Now that you mention it, I have been feeling like I need to rest lately, I say to the various mastitis websites. You too could have mastitis, esp. if you have a big, red, acorn-sized lump in your breast!

I'm on anti-biotics now, but it hasn't gone down yet. Hopefully it will by tonight, and I can enjoy a lump-free birthday dinner out.*
Anyway, a couple of breakdowns in tears while Miss E. and I are at the store, a pink balloon from an concerned employee which flew away as soon as we got outside. You know, the usual. We return to the doctor's office and voila--a fine sample! Annnnnnnddddd ...it's normal. All that water and waiting for nothing. Well, not nothing. We can rule a few things out.

Call Tech Support. Please p/u pizza on the way home.
And a balloon. Pink.

So, two days later, after a normal strep test, and normal urine sample, her fever this morning was 102.9 and she has started talking like a boxer who's had his nose punched one too many times. I think, though we tried hard to avoid it, we may have the flu in this house. Again. Perhaps I should have insisted on the flu test.

Three fevers since September! What do working parents do? Well, sometimes I work from home and if not, my husband and I just trade off using our own sick days or vacation days, says my friend Colleen. Yeah, but still!

*Since Tech Support and I have birthdays on consecutive days, twice the usual amount of greeting cards come in. The baby in Miss E. came out because she couldn't understand why everyone was getting a birthday card, except her. It was hard not to laugh at her distress, but I assure you, concerned readers, I was very sympathetic and shared my cards with her.

Posted DEC 10 2004, 2:55 PM CDT (link here)
There are excellent conversations going around the web about journalists' first amendment rights to protect sources. It's good enough for NYT's reporters, but if you're in your pajamas with nothing but a modem and dial-up connection? MSM lawyers have their fears.

I've been scanning my usual reads for more links on said topic, but got distracted. Find 'em yourself! Or when I run across more, I'll post them.

Posted DEC 10 2004, 1:26 PM CDT (link here)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

From the department of should I laugh or cry: "We're making such a big mess," said Miss E. to her father as they brought in wood, kindling and paper to make a fire. "Mom will have to clean it up!"
Posted DEC 5 2004, 7:10 PM CDT (link here)

I didn't look at either of the sites the WaPo story, Images of Fighting in Fallujah Compel at Different Levels with the subhead, "Bloggers Display is More Graphic than a Militay Slideshow", because it seems like an attempt to draw atttention to unhappy Iraq war pictures without actually taking the pictures or doing the work. There are plenty of bloggers who criticize the Iraq war all the time and probably get more hits than the subject of this story, though not often in pictures, but does WaPo make a Sunday "story" out of them? They didn't even get the name of the guy behind the blog. So, what's this "story" about--the blog, or the pictures posted there?
Posted DEC 5 2004, 4:30 PM CDT (link here)
Hey Bloggers! Could we stop using the word 'Orwellian?' That question goes to people who comment on blogs as well.

Thanks.
Posted DEC 5 2004, 12:37 PM CDT (link here)
There's a fisking of NYTs editorial on UNSCAM here. I can't get through the entire thing because I can't get past (passed?) this sentence in the editorial:

"Thus the primary blame for allowing Iraq to accumulate illicit billions lies with the United States and other Security Council members..."

I'll just punctuate my thoughts, as no words can express: ?
More: "Everywhere it says "Cotecna" replace that with "Halliburton" and everywhere it says "Kojo" replace that with "Mary Cheney" and then imagine what position the Times would be taking."


Posted DEC 5 2004, 11:57 AM CDT (link here)