Friday, March 31, 2006

Daylight Savings Time

My husband's favorite holiday! It's all about the money, man!

Congress passed the first DST law in 1918 and repealed it the next year. Franklin Delano Roosevelt imposed year-round DST for three years during the Second World War. In 1966, Congress approved a uniform DST standard for the whole country. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon had the nation go on DST for 15 consecutive months in order to conserve energy. The last president to modify DST was Ronald Reagan, who advanced DST's start date to the first Sunday in April.

I recently wondered exactly why we observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). For some reason, I had harbored a vague notion that it had to do with farmers.

Well, it turns out that DST had nothing to do with farmers, who traditionally haven't cared much for it. They care a lot less nowadays, but when the first DST law was making its way through Congress, farmers actually lobbied against it. Dairy farmers were especially upset because their cows refused to accept humanity's tinkering with the hands of time. The obstinate cud-chewers wanted to be milked every twelve hours, and had absolutely no interest in resetting their biological clocks — even if the local creameries suddenly wanted their milk an hour earlier.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Phew!

Better. I started taking this steroid this morning, after the ivy continued to wind it's way up my right arm last night and it's already working. I also took this pain reliever to help me sleep through the night, and it helped me sleep through the night all right, and into the morning, long into the day. Mostly it was just groggy napping. Supposedly the medicine lasts for six hours, but it's been nearly 24 hours of fuzziness for me.

Anyhoo, blogging will resume when normality does, if there is such a thing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Itchy and scratchy

Leave it to about.com to answer most of my questions about poison ivy/oak/sumac, whatever it is that is causing me to reach around to my backside, stick my hands down my pants and scratch where my legs meet my bottom. I must have sat in it, but I still don't understand why one hip broke out relatively early and the other not until at least five days after, or how the sticky urshiol soaked through my cotton trousers.

The rash started with what I thought was a nasty insect bite on my ankle on Friday. I figured I'd picked it up at the zoo the day before. By Saturday night, my right-side rear end started itching and seemed to have a small rash. Delicate flower that I am, I assumed that I'd broken out in hives what with all the stress from living my perfect life and all.

It was either by Sunday or Monday evening my husband figured it out. Aha! Did you walk in the woods at your parents' place? Yes, and that was a mere two days before we went to the zoo. I was terribly relieved that no hidden stressful memory buried in my subconscious was poking itself out through my skin, and I was almost excited at the adventure. After all I was part of a new club.

Then I looked at the club pictures. In a smaller way, what happened to that man in that picture is happening to the place where I sit down.

This morning, two weeks since contact was made with the dreaded plant, I have a new rash spreading on my neck, behind my knees and blisters scattered about my body. I'm ready to quit the club.

But I did learn that it was captain John Smith who named the plant in 1609. Makes me feel a part of history. I guess that makes Tuesday, March 14, 2006, a date which will live in Bystander infamy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Catch him

I'd go to Ketchum, if I could, just like the song says, though for the longest time, I thought the line was "I'm going to catch him, if I can."
Cuban journalist continues hunger strike

Guillermo Fariñas Hernandez has been without food or water for 57 days in protest over the lack of internet access in Cuba. As one commenter put it on this blog, "Abajo Fidel!" (Via Bill.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Lazy Muncie

This video is making the rounds, as it should. It's a hilarious rap song made by two TV writers, at least one of whom grew up in Muncie, Indianna. Caution: F-word used twice (in rapid succesion), otherwise pretty clean and there's a cameo by the Garfield cartoonist.

Watch the video and consider not only what technology in the hands of individuals will do to empower people, but how it may change movies and television shows. Notice the one long shot in the beginning of Chris and Kirby's dialogue. They made this with one camera. No budget for a three-camera production and probably no time to direct that anyway, and still, it's an entertaining piece, which relies on solid acting, just like in the early days of television and movies. Let's see if we go back there. (Via Kausfiles.)
Fear of Jong

One of the things I'll miss about my gym is the comraderie of my instructors and the conversation it brings to the regulars. A lot of smutty talk, basically.

Once on a bike next to my instructor, we were talking about something and she mentioned, Fear of Flying, and I asked, "What's that about?" She was shocked I'd never read Erica Jong's "feminist manifesto."

"I'm just not into non-fiction," I said weakly. And that's one reason, among others, that I won't be reading her newly released book, Seducing the Demon: Writing for My Life.

As is written in today's Washington Post, " not everyone gets Jong and her particular brand of brash and bawdy honesty. She is alternately viewed as the patron saint of feminine sexual autonomy and the poster girl for runaway self-absorption."

I think I belong in the latter group. Not fair to write, without reading her any of her books -- I'm sure she was a very successful sexual partner, but with four marriages, and breaking up her college roommate's marriage (Martha Stewart), her sexual life must have run rampant over her non-sexual life.

But she's got new advice for feminists today: mentorship. "It's about taking the next generation by the hand and escorting it into the future."

Hmmm...think I'll take along some hand sanitizer on that walk.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

R.I.P.

Buck Owens, at 76.

Home office
What makes her home office even more amusing, other than the fact it's where she works on a secret webpage, is that last night she actually dictated a to-do list to me for her chores today:
  • build tent in living room, create sleeping space inside
  • play dolls
  • play dress-up
  • play doctor
All of this bossiness comes after she has her first loose tooth. (She asked if she could stop strangers at the grocery store and give the news.) Not even five and her adult teeth are pushing to make an appearance. Hard to believe.
Impeach Bush!

Is this page A01 Washington Post piece a story or not a story? Five paragraphs down:
It would be a considerable overstatement to say the fledgling impeachment movement threatens to topple a presidency --
Ah, well. Give us another page and a half of quotes from people who want to impeach him anyway, thanks.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Another conservative plaigerism scandal!

Before I even get to comment on how annoyed I am that The Washington Post is still treating people who live west of Virginia like aliens from another planet by starting a blog called Red State -- and then backtrack because it's not that bad -- their conservative blogger resigns over plaigerism allegations.

Where are the honest conservative bloggers? I mean, besides everywhere else?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraq - AlQaeda connection

Thank you, Bill. I did miss it:
SADDAM HUSSEIN'S REGIME PROVIDED FINANCIAL support to Abu Sayyaf, the al Qaeda-linked jihadist group founded by Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law in the Philippines in the late 1990s, according to documents captured in postwar Iraq. An eight-page fax dated June 6, 2001, and sent from the Iraqi ambassador in Manila to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Baghdad, provides an update on Abu Sayyaf kidnappings and indicates that the Iraqi regime was providing the group with money to purchase weapons. The Iraqi regime suspended its support--temporarily, it seems--after high-profile kidnappings, including of Americans, focused international attention on the terrorist group.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Right or wrong, our country

Interesting tidbit via The Corner:
Today is the 186th anniversary of the duel between Commodores Stephen Decatur and James Barron.

Decatur, who was killed, was the author of the now-famous aphorism, “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country right or wrong.”

So, a guy I used to know in NY interviewed Shepard Smith, and complained to me (it was during the run up to the Iraq War) that Shep had quoted this to him, and believed in it. And at the time I lazily agreed it was a dumb thing to say.

But I don't think so anymore. Our country is made up of a set of ideas, moreso than people, and I believe in those ideas and agree with them. So even when I don't agree with the policy of my country, if the policy was implemented properly based on our laws and electoral process, then, my country right or wrong. Absolutely.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Snacks
  • Stephen Green: "When Bill Maher thinks you've gone too far (as he tells Belzer at the end of the clip), then you're probably this close* to praising Kim Jong Il."
  • Bill blesses Ronald Reagan for this:
  • Meanwhile, the tax rate reduction reduced the tax payments of middle class and poor taxpayers. The net effect was a marked shift in the tax burden toward the top 1 percent amounting to about 10 percentage points. Lower top marginal tax rates had encouraged these taxpayers to generate more taxable income."
  • And I either have hives or poison ivy.
Bird flu

Lileks:
Should you be worried about bird flu? Yes. No. And maybe; it depends. Like the creatures who might bring the plague, it’s all up in the air. What matters is how you respond today. Should you:

Study the scenarios, lay in supplies, then get on with your life. If we panic, the birds have won!


Sunday, March 19, 2006

It's not you...

...it's me. Wait, that's not right. It is you. I wanna break up.

This morning I show up five minutes before spin class and see two new spinners plus all the usuals there and I think, I've got little chance of getting a spin-worthy bike. And I was right. I tried one for a while. It kept slipping, causing the crest of each pedal push to become unstable, loose and out of control. That's tough on the knees. Also, it was so tight that I couldn't recover on it without stopping altogether.

This is ridiculous, I thought. First of all, why should I have to test a bunch of bikes to find one suitable for a work out? I'm not a bike tester. I don't get paid for that. I left in a huff, refusing even to wheel that heavy bastard back to it's place on the other side of the gym because I'm also not a warehouse worker and as the bikes do basically nothing else but collect dust because all but five are usable, why should I do my gym owner the favor of returning it to its place after it failed me during class?

It's time to quit my gym. I mean really. How long have I been listening to my weary cycle instructor promise that new bikes or fixed bikes or new ball bearings or whatever were just a few days away?

I believe I've been waiting about five months, and just as in my personal relationships, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me for five months straight, I'm in definite need of therapy.

And a new gym. So, let's make that this weeks' project.

In search of: gym with goood cycle equipment, at least three spin classes a week, yoga classes and I don't want to pay more than $25 a month. Now then, people, disperse. We'll meet back here with what you've found. Good luck.
9000 words

But worth every one. Here's Matt Labash's take on New Orleans mardi gras. What a writer! Thanks Vodkapundit.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Gone fishin'

But before I go, here are a few road snacks:
I'll be back Wednesday, but probably not post til Thursday.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What's in style?

Tom Wolfe:
"There is such a thing as intellectual fashion--just as we get our clothing fashions--and often it does not mean anything more," he says. "One follows fashion in order to look proper, and it's the same thing with ideas."
He also wears an American flag pin just to freak out Manhattan intellectuals. You gotta love that.
Mr. Wolfe has a habit of using experience and anecdote to gird an argument or shade a meaning, and he carries on like this for some time. Then, abruptly: "I really love this country. I just marvel at how good it is, and obviously it's the simple principle of freedom. . . . Intellectually this is the system where people tend to experiment more and their experiments are indulged. Whatever we're doing I think we've done it extremely, extremely, extremely well." Silence. "These are terrible things to be saying if you want to have any standing in the intellectual world."
Indeed. No glass is half-full chatter among those groups even if things might be getting better:

• Health: Americans are living longer and healthier than at anytime in history.

• Safety: Crime rates have plummeted. In the last thirty years, there has been a 40 percent decrease in the number of violent crimes against women and a 67 percent decline in violent crimes against men.

• Income and Employment: More Americans are working today than ever before. Since 1967, per capita income has doubled.

• Well-Being: Americans overwhelmingly report being happy and satisfied with their personal lives. Americans are far happier and more optimistic than their counterparts in Europe.


Hey, bud.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Snacks
  • Medicare to now pays for gastric bypass surgery.
  • Bill is back!
  • I didn't know you don't just snap back after a heart attack.
  • Judith Warner is wrong, most women don't mind carrying the load when it comes to housework, which begs the question, when should an opinion writer research an opinion?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Dubai-bye

Here it is:

"DP World will transfer fully the U.S. operations … to a United States entity," the firm's top executive, H. Edward Bilkey, said in an announcement that capped weeks of controversy.

Relieved Republicans in Congress said the firm had pledged full divestiture, a decision that one senator said had been approved personally by the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The announcement appeared to indicate an end to a politically tinged controversy that brought President Bush and Republicans in Congress to the brink of an election-year veto battle on a terrorism-related issue.

A leading congressional critic of the ports deal, Rep. Peter King, applauded the decision but said he and others would wait to see the details. "It would have to be an American company with no links to DP World, and that would be a tremendous victory and very gratifying," said the New York Republican, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.

"This should make the issue go away," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

And that's exactly what Republicans wanted. The "issue"* has gone away with the U.A.E. left dumbfounded, I'd guess. Bush overplayed his hand by threatening a veto too soon, and the Democrats overplayed their hand by trying to get to the right of Republicans on this.

With the "issue"* gone, the Dems have become political losers. They can no longer show the public how much smarter they are than the too-trusting, free-market Republicans because the Republicans took charge and cancelled the deal. Nice. And the Repbublicans? Instead of leading on this issue, they were led. Instead of showing the public that nothing would change with DP World's ownership of port operations, they bent to the polls.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get a glass of water. I have bad taste in my mouth.

*Americans are afraid of Arabs.

Complaint department

Dear Gap Outlet,

Thank you for putting your spaghetti strap t-shirts with built-in bra on sale again (and in newer brighter colors as well!). I was delighted to find that you have made them slightly longer, thereby making them more usable for those of us whose tummies are no longer viewable to the greater public due to childbirth.

Unfortunately, middle age has caught up with me and the length of your t-shirts are hugging the sides of my newly formed (or is it just newly migrated) fat deposits, what is generally called a mid-life middrift or tire.

I therefore would like to return all of them, though they are slightly used, but as a bonus to Gap, I'll also send what's left of my self-esteem and delusions of regaining or keeping any of my youthful, lithe figure.

That should make us even.

Sincerely,

Disappointed at 39

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hey-I'm a woman!

I didn't know it was International Women's Day.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Shallow or just nervous?

If I say money instead of fame, what does that make me?
Snacks
  • Cathy Seipp is wrong wrong wrong on Reese Witherspoon's dress!
  • Stephen Colbert will not make you cool, but that doesn't mean Congress can't have fun with him. Congress people looking to get in on the blog phenomenon should focus less on starting their own blog and more on letting their staffers give interviews to bloggers, and eventually give interviews themselves. (Via Instapundit.)
  • Someday I'll work up the nerve to play a joke on the guy in the middle seat next to me, who, as soon as the door shuts, finds an empty row and moves to it. I will then follow him to that row and complain, "Yeah, I didn't like that row very much either."
Not Chrenkoff, but...

There's good news out of Iraq, though you have to go to the ends of the mediaverse to find it, or at least, Bill Crawford did.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Is Bystander still writing, or what?

I can't work up a good opinion lately. Most of my online writing has been through email or comments on other blogs, and even that's been light. My offline life is full, brimming with the stuff preschool days are made of -- diapers, ouchies, hurt feelings, spill after spill.

I feel less connected with the national dialogue, which is good because I could never change anything anyway, could I? The Oscars will be awarded tonight and I'll take little notice. The political debates will rage on front pages tomorrow and every tomorrow after with the conversation becoming even more shrill and more bitter, and I'll turn from it and toward the sweetness of my home life.

This week, in addition to three days of preschool, swim lessons, we'll have two playdates, a birthday party and a speech therapist session. Toolsday night for Gene, ice cream night, the gym, the gym, the gym. I'll try to remember to make an appointment to have the baby's ears checked next week.

I'm very much enjoying Home Comforts. In addition to telling me what I should be doing, Mendelson tells my why I'm doing it, why housekeepers have done these things for centuries and why we don't have to do some of them anymore, but some we really should try to keep up. For instance, spring cleaning originally was meant to get all the oil and soot from furnaces and fireplaces out of curtains and carpets and upholstery, off hardwoods and tiles, out of clothes and other fabrics that make a home after winter. Modern day solution? Central heat and air. Many people find spring (and fall) cleaning an emotionally cleansing experience, which is valid, but I prefer to clean drawers, cupboards and the like as needed, which is to say when it hits critical mass.

I'm also very interested in her thoughts on leftovers. Her Italian grandmother did not understand the concept. Once she cooked something in her household, it was eaten until it was finished, whether that took one meal or a few days of meals. I very much like the idea of eating a meal until it's gone. A good meal is a good meal. We give ourselves too much luxury, and thus waste, by allowing ourselves a different meal every night of the week, except for the designated night for leftovers, which look less appealing the longer they stay in the refrigerator, and thus, often get discarded.

I haven't implemented the one-meal-until-it's-gone system, but I have pushed leftover night closer to the night the meal originated. So far, so good.

When I lived in New York, my driving record was impeccable, mostly because, I almost never drove, but since I've moved to Texas, I've gotten two speeding tickets and this past week had one fender bender in the parking lot of my daughter's preschool. There was hardly any damage to the other mom's car; the corner of my fender is smashed, but, except for a broken signal light, it is drivable. No one was hurt, except for my pride because it was 80% my fault. I started backing out first but got distracted by the kids and took my eye off the direction my car was traveling. It made for an unhappy afternoon, but I was gratefully cheered by two of my best friends, the first being my husband who said, "No big deal. That's why they call them accidents."

The second was Becky, who is a hot-shot, rising star in the marketing department of a big credit card company/ bank; she wrote me the following:
Based on this description, it was her fault! Recall the Brady Bunch episode where Carol is involved in a fender bender. The person who starts backing out first has the right of way.
After I replied in the spirit of her hilarity, she wrote:
The very scary thing about this is that I made the Brady Bunch reference in complete seriousness. But I'm glad you got a kick out of it.
It's good to have good friends, even better to be married to one of them.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Election

My state district is having an election for a new representative. It's Jack Johnson vs. John Jackson. I have no idea who to vote for.
John Jackson: "It's time someone had the courage to stand up and say: I'm against those things that everybody hates."
Jack Johnson: "Now, I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man. But quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said."
John Jackson: "I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far."
Jack Johnson: "And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough."
Pre-fixes

Comapassionate-, Christian-, Neo-, Paleo-, now Crunchy! It's a big tent and everyone wants their own identity, lest they be confused with one of those kinds of conservatives. I think that's partly a symptom of the broad brush Conservatives or Republicans get painted with by the sympathetic unsympathetic media.

I stopped watching Boston Legal last year, K. Lo.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Me too!

Condi spins!
Nooooooo!

'Taking a break' is what people say before they break up with you. This is my fault - I should have left comments on how much I enjoy his blog, but I thought the greatness of his humor and analysis were self-evident, and didn't want to clog things up with my foolish utterances.

I wish I knew how to quit you, INDC Bill.

Update: I don't know why my trackback link above isn't working.
Brokeback Bystander

So, Brokeback Mountain was the saddest damn movie I'd seen in almost forever. It broke my no-sad-movies rule which I implemented b/c I get too upset and can't let it go and wake up dreaming about the sadness the next day. This case proved to be no exception, and it put a damper on my kids-free weekend.

Fortunately, while the kids were with Grandma, and I was nosing about some fashionable shopping areas in Plano with my huzzzzband -- dressed in my pink boucle tulip skirt with matching car coat and my new string of pearls -- I had the misfortune of having only an old pair of brown loafers to go with. It simply was not to be endured, but Gene rescued me in my footwear crisis by finding the exact pair of kitten-heel, square-toe, slingbacks that I had imagined (except it was in pink not brown, but it still matched!) in less than three minutes at that warehouse that calls itself DSW footwear store.

I gave him the information; he brought me the Liz Claiborne, despite the fact that I was lost among wedged sandals half a football field away. He said he'd had lots of practice the day before at a local Pick 'n Pull finding parts for the motor of his dreams.

It was a very cheering experience, and lost only 15% of its sexiness when he didn't pull out his debit card to pay for them.

Life's not perfect, but then, neither am I.