Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Walmart

I found this bloggingheads discussion between economist Dan Drezner and Micky Kaus framed the left-right debate on Walmart fairly well, although I think it's not much of a debate.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

No such thing

Apartment living, Manhattan style:
BEN SNYDACKER is just 21, and a freshly minted New Yorker. Tall and brash, he’s enjoying his third month in his new job, as a sales assistant for Virgin Records, and his new apartment, a minute space creatively described as a two-bedroom in a rank 19th-century tenement building on Avenue B that he shares with a college roommate (monthly rent: $2,600).
Hey, it's expensive to be hip! Even when I was looking for living space in Manhattan in the late 90's, I ran into rents like that, but the Alphabet Avenues were supposed to be where the hippies lived, and everyone knows hippies can't afford that rent, so who's moving in now?

I lived most of my New York life in Upper Manahattan, just south of the Bronx, near the Cloisters. That I was above 96th Street sparked much derision from the fashion set, but I didn't care. It was a three-bedroom with one roomate who spent only fall and spring weekends there. A long subway ride from mid-town to be sure and an expensive cab ride, but my share of the rent was only $500.

When my husband and I decided to move in together, we spent weekends pounding the pavement on the Lower East Side. Ninth Street was particularly beautiful and when we stopped a Russian landlady to inquire about vacancies, she scoffed, "Huh! No such thing."

One Sunday morning we called up an on a listing and the broker met us on a corner down by the Fulton Fish Market. The apartment was beautiful -- fourteen foot-high ceilings, four eight-foot high windows, a loft in the living room and bedroom, and real red brick walls. Directly across from the East River, it was the first building in Manhattan to have electricity and I think it used to house fisherman. We starry-eyed lovers did not notice the FDR Freeway between the river and our window, nor did we notice the stench of fish, but then it wasn't summer yet and finally, we didn't notice that the apartment was over the Paris Cafe.

On the second floor of this elevator building, our front door opened up to a long and narrow hallway which led to a full bathroom and kitchen before opening up into the living room. I was proud of that apartment, all 500-square feet of it.

But it cost me more than the current mortgage on my 2050-square foot home in a neighborhood with good schools. You can't really call the South Street Seaport a neighborhood so much as a hybrid of a touristy mall and a dirty, dank forgotten fish locker.

Still, there was a little restaurant about three blocks away under the Brooklyn Bridge called The Bridge Cafe; it was a little out of our price range, so we'd split meals at the bar -- oh, at least three times a week. Kenny was our favorite bartender and very generous with portions. Thinking about their polenta-stuff portabella mushroom makes my mouth water, but I'm sure it was taken off the menu years ago.

Before we left -- and I'm sorry if I'm repeating this story -- we commissioned a local artist to paint the restaurant for us. It was a supremely romantic gesture, I thought, and we spent a lot of money. Alas, it was stolen in the move from New York to Texas. I have, at least, my memories, though.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Snacks

I can't decide if I qualify as a career girl or not in this hurriedly de-posted Forbes article, but Don't Marry a Career Girl!
If a host of studies are to be believed, marrying these women is asking for trouble. If they quit their jobs and stay home with the kids, they will be unhappy ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2003). They will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Social Forces, 2006). You will be unhappy if they make more money than you do ( Journal of Marriage and Family, 2001). You will be more likely to fall ill ( American Journal of Sociology). Even your house will be dirtier ( Institute for Social Research).
Uh, regarding that last part ...I don't think my house could get dirtier. (Via Bradley J. Fikes in the comments section of Cathy's World.)

Here's a prank on Best Buy, which initially struck me as hilarious, but now I'm not so sure. Eighty "agents" show up wearing Best Buy's uniform colors and hang out in a Manhattan store answering questions of unwitting customers.
Security guards and managers started talking to each other frantically on their walkie-talkies and headsets. "Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!," one employee shouted. They were worried that were using our fake uniforms to stage some type of elaborate heist. "I want every available employee out on the floor RIGHT NOW!"
(Via Dorkafork.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Long flex fuel post

Below is a list of flex-fuel compatible cars sent by my husband Gene. We have a couple of gas stations in our area that sell it. It's currently about $2.46/gallon, but it's priced differently depending on where you live. Enjoy! P.S. I have a new post just below it.

Information below is from: http://www.e85fuel.com/

All vehicles below are SELECTED VEHICLES ONLY. Please see www.e85fuel.com for specific information on how to check your Vehicle Identification Number for E85 compatibility, or check your Owners Manual before using E85.

Daimler Chrysler

2007

4.7L Dodge Durango

4.7L Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Series

4.7L Chrysler Aspen

4.7L Jeep Commander

4.7L Jeep Grand Cherokee

4.7L Dodge Dakota

3.3L Dodge Caravan, Grand Caravan and Caravan Cargo

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan

2006

4.7L Dodge Durango

4.7L Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Series

2.7L Dodge Stratus Sedan

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan

3.3L Caravan & Grand Caravan SE

2004 – 2005

4.7L Dodge Ram Pickup 1500 Series

2.7L Dodge Stratus Sedan

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan

2003 – 2004

2.7L Dodge Stratus Sedan

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Sedan

2003

3.3L Dodge Cargo Minivan

2.7L Chrysler Sebring Convertible & Sedan

2000 – 2003

3.3L Chrysler Voyager minivan

3.3L Dodge Caravan minivan

3.3L Chrysler Town & Country minivan

1998 and 1999

3.3L Dodge Caravan minivan

3.3L Plymouth Voyager minivan

3.3L Chrysler Town & Country minivan


Ford Motor Company

2007

4.6L Ford Crown Victoria (2-valve, except taxi and police)

5.4L Ford F-150

4.6L Lincoln Town Car (2-valve)

2006

3.0L Ford Taurus sedan and wagon (2-valve)*

4.6L Ford Crown Victoria (2-valve, except taxi and police)

5.4L Ford F-150 (3-valve. Available in December 2005)

4.6L Lincoln Town Car (2-valve)


2004 – 2005

4.0L Explorer Sport Trac

4.0L Explorer (4-door)

3.0L Taurus sedan and wagon (2-valve)

2002 - 2004

4.0L Explorer (4-door)

3.0L Taurus sedan and wagon

2002 - 2003

3.0L Supercab Ranger pickup 2WD

2001

3.0L Supercab Ranger pickup 2WD

3.0L Taurus LX, SE and SES sedan

1999 and 2000

3.0L Ranger pickup 4WD and 2WD

3.0L Taurus LX, SE and SES sedan

1995 and 1998

Many Taurus 3.0L Sedans are FFVs

General Motors

2007

5.3L V-8 engine Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD

5.3L Vortec-engine Avalanche, Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon & Yukon XL

3.5L Chevy Impala (LS, 1LT & 2LT)

3.5L Chevy Monte Carlo (LS and LT models only)

5.3L Chevy Express

5.3L GMC Savana

3.9L Chevy Uplander

3.9L Pontiac Montana (Offered only in Canada and Mexico by special order)

3.9L Saturn Relay
3.9L Buick Terraza

2006

3.5L Chevy Impala (LS, 1LT & 2LT)

3.5L Chevy Monte Carlo (LS and LT models only)

2005 - 2006

5.3L Vortec-engine Avalanche

5.3L Vortec-engine Police Package Tahoe*

2003 - 2006

5.3L V-8 engine Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD

5.3L Vortec-engine Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Yukon XLs

2002

5.3L V-8 engine Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-ton pickups 2WD & 4WD

5.3L Vortec-engine Suburban, Tahoe, Yukon and Yukon XLs

2.2L Chevrolet S-10 pickup 2WD

2.2L Sonoma GMC pickup 2WD

2000 - 2001

2.2L Chevrolet S-10 pickup 2WD

2.2L Sonoma GMC pickup 2WD

*Fleet vehicles only.


Isuzu

2000, 2001

2.2L Hombre pickup 2WD

Mazda

1999, 2001-2002

3.0L Selected B3000 pickups

Mercedes

All vehicles below E85 compatible.

2007

2.5L C230 Sedan automatic AND manual transmission

2005

2.6L C240 luxury series

2003-2005

3.2L Mercedes-Benz C320 sport series

Mercury

2006 – 2007

4.6L Mercury Grand Marquis (2-valve)

2002 - 2005

4.0L Mountaineers

3.0L Sables

2000 - 2004

3.0L Sables

Nissan

2007

5.6L Titan V8 engine

5.6L Armada V8 engine

2005 - 2006

5.6L Titan V8 engine

I've picked out your Christmas present

We are almost at the end of our second week of school, and I already need to start a new file folder to hold the avalanche of paperwork my daughter's elementary school has sent home. I'd like to thank the small forest that gave its life for, among other things, alerting me to the North Texas Volleyball Association, which I think -- I can't quite make out -- she's too young to participate in.

This morning, as I walked with one of her classmate's mothers back into the neighborhood, she reached in her purse and pulled out a note from the teacher that had her reporting for Classroom Mother duty tomorrow. She was mystified. Remember all those forms the teacher made us fill out the other night while we were listening to a thirty-minute monologue over the public announcement system by the principal, I asked her? That's how they get you!

Yesterday (I think it was -- it's all a fog to me now) we received one Illuminescents 8 1/2 x 11-inch tri-fold brochure; one Gifts of Nature brochure filled with pictures of gorgeous perennials and annuals; one Celebrate the Season Christmas 38-page holiday gifts catalogue; and one brightly colored two-page slick of fantastically-fanciful fun stuff that my daughter can win if she (ahem) sells enough of the preceding stuff.

And two order forms, due date: a week and a half.

Tonight my husband and I tried to break it to her gently. With our social skills there's no way she's winning that scooter, much less the plastic doohickey that comes with selling fewer than five items.

On the other hand, the private pre-school my son attends isn't even trying a fundraiser this season; they sent home envelopes requesting $40 cash.

In any case, each of my loyal readers, at least those I see during the holiday season, will be receiving a lovely scented candle come December. Happy Kwanzaa.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

File under: True Enough!

Kate O'Beirne: Despite his ancestral history with polygamy, "Should Mitt Romney join a 2008 race that included John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and George Allen, the only guy in the GOP field with only one wife would be the Mormon. "

Monday, August 21, 2006

Mike Godwin

I met him once a long time ago. Here's his take on net neutrality. (Via Instapundit.)
Flex fuel

I just have the feeling I should link and blog about yesterday's Washington Post article, though I have little to add. It's all about Brazil's switching to sugar-cane-based ethanol fuel and how U. S. automakers are researching and developing flex-fuel technologies. A few weeks ago, there was a WSJ article on the same, which highlighted the President's interest in it. Momentum's growing, I guess. My husband is very encouraged by this kind of thing and posted some information at his office on which cars can take flex fuel and where it is being sold near his office. Right now, it's cheaper than unleaded. Hmm... I'll ask him to send me the list.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Afghanistan, problems still

That's a lot of schools:

Insurgents have targeted schools, burning 144 to the ground over the past year and forcing 200 others to close following threats against teachers and students, according to officials. More than 200,000 children have been unable to continue their education as a result.

The insurgents say that educating girls is against Islam and oppose government-funded schools for boys because they teach secular subjects besides religion. Targeting schools is also considered a tactic to shake the authority of the U.S.-backed government.

They don't like women, do they?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

On friendship

Here's an essay on friendship surviving political disagreements and other slings and arrows:
Of course, in the hothouse world of the New York intellectuals, few if any would be ready to concede that an adversaryÂ?s Â?value judgments are just as good as mine,Â? let alone forgo the right to catechize. So when Norman Podhoretz turned away from his radical-Left politics of the late 1950Â?s and early 60Â?s, arguing in print that America was on balance a good place in which one was fortunate to be living, the walls crashed down around him. He was looked upon by his former friends, he writes, Â?as a dangerous heretic, which I certainly was from their point of viewÂ?Â?just as, he adds, Â?I considered them a threat to everything I held dear, which they certainly wereÂ?and still are.Â? Those friends who did not think him stupidly or evilly wrong considered him insane. Â?No wonder,Â? he concludes, Â?that there is hardly a one of my old friends left among the living with whom I am today so much as on speaking terms, except to exchange the most minor civilities if we happen unavoidably to meet (and often not even that).Â?

Here is the question Ex-Friends raises in high relief: for what ideas would one be willing to give up oneÂ?s friends?
"The hothouse world of New York intellectuals." I like that. Well, it's not always their intellect, but their neuroses, as James Lileks pointed out, that gets in the way of reason.

It's also not always New York intellectuals.

Speaking of friends, yesterday one sent me to this website that sells one product a day at a great price. Yesterday, it was some sort of MP3 player for $12.95, plus $5 shipping and handling. By the time I sent the link to my husband to get his input, the MP3 player was no longer available.

So, today, I had to watch television at the gym while running on the treadmill because they don't have CD players like my old gym and because I don't have an MP3 player. A River Runs Through It was on A&E. You remember -- life is like a box of chocolates, and a river runs through it. I never really understood the plot to this movie. I think it's everyone loves the lively and funny, good-looking younger brother, played by Brad Pitt, but he's kind of a jerk.

The movie is kind of like Out of Africa -- lots of pretty scenery, not much on action. (I once didn't get hired as a flight attendant by an airline that flew from Washinton D.C. to South Africa and it might have been because I kept doing Meryl Streep impressions saying, I served drinks on a 767 out of Africa...) Anyway, the older brother looks familiar, so I looked him up. I thought for sure he was the guy who played Bree's pharmacist boyfriend from Desperate Housewives.

Just shows you what I know. Not him at all. But I'm not crazy (yet). They do look alike.
Don't miss

Dont miss Dorkafork's review of Samuel L. Jackson's Snakes on a Plane. Excerpt:
The movie begins where you might expect, the super secret origin of "the Snakes" and how they got their "on a Plane" powers. There's also a flashback where we see Samuel L. Jackson's father being killed by a snake on a plane. This makes Samuel L. Jackson's frustration at being on a plane with muthaf*@#in' snakes much more poignant, and sets up a revenge angle.
Be sure to check out the Snakes on a Plane trilogy posters.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

All about me

Sigh. The high school in a neighboring town has a sign alongside the road which read 104; it was 11:00 in the morning, so I'm skeptical of that temperature reading, though it is supposed to reach that, at least, today. We're over thirty days this year with triple-digit temperatures, trying to beat 1980's record of 46 days, though earlier in the century there's a year that beats that. I must remark how grateful I am for air conditioning. Living this heat wave would be very different without it.

For instance, I probably wouldn't be jogging on a treadmill. Recently, I accomplished my short-term goal of sustaining a 5.5 mph run--with 6 mph intervals every five minutes during the first half--for forty minutes. My friend Becky, who's a runner has been coaching me over email and writes that I should continue that for a few weeks before I add any speed.

It's a funny thing, the human body. One day last week, my body and spirit refused to cooperate and I power-walked a good deal instead of jogging. And for the next few days I remained unusually soar sore, so I took three days off. On my return run, I was strong, confident: no one could catch me (except those who can run 5.6 mph).

I hope to bring my jogging comfort zone up to 6 mph consistently. But even without reaching that level of consistency, my resting heart rate has plummeted to -- are you ready for this? Forty-four beats per minute. 44! Seems too low to me. What does Google tell me? Hmm. Not a lot, though, now I know subtracting my age from 220 gives me my maximum heart rate, But wait! This page throws in the variable of the resting heart rate and gives me a higher maximum heart rate, at least I presume it does because the chart starts with a resting heart rate of 50, not 44.

But enough about my hair! What about my dress?

The heat makes the walk from the car to the elementary school and the wait outside the front door a drippy, sweaty one. This year, parents are no longer allowed inside to pick up their kids. Terrorism, child-napping and all.

The other day, my five-year-old, who is in kindergarten, said, "You know, Mom, I was just thinking today that--you know, and I didn't say it but I was thinking it -- what a long time we were here in school and when do we get to go home? You know, but I didn't actually ask that."

I told her I understand and that her feelings are normal. What else is there to say? Well, I also told her how easy it's been to keep the house neat while she's at school, and I gloried excitedly about how her brother returned to early-afternoon napping quite easily, after a summer of being too busy playing with her for early napping.

I think she was happy for me, but was not really able to revel in this triumph.

Speaking of the little one, he's been quite the cuddle monster since his sister took off for school. He gets to go to "school" starting next week for two mornings a week. I think my joy will also be one which only I can truly celebrate.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Journalists kidnapped

Two Fox News journalists were kidnapped in Gaza.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Abby Cadabby

I've often wondered why Sesame Street didn't have any lead female muppets, and I chalked it up to the physicality of upper arm strength it takes to manipulate a muppet while giving it voice. Turns out I was wrong. Sesame Street producers apparently couldn't think of a politically correct way of personifying a female muppet without fear of stereotyping. (Scroll to the very bottom.)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

What I don't get

Here's what I don't get about the Center for Disease Control's growth charts that pediatricians use to measure children: both my kids are about in the 70th percentile for height and 50th for weight. Now, that's relative to other children their age, right? So, what does that really tell me about whether they're at healthy weights? (BTW, I don't need the chart to know that they're healthy. They look fine.) But what if I did need the chart?

The Harvard study, published in the July issue of the journal Obesity, looked at extremely chubby infants less than 6 months old. Their weight adjusted for height placed them at or above the 95th percentile on standard growth charts, a cut-off point the researchers set for being overweight.

A 6-month-old baby boy just under 27 inches long - an average length - would weigh about 17.5 pounds at the 50th percentile and more than 21 pounds at the 95th percentile, according to the growth charts.

The research examined data for more than 120,000 Massachusetts children up to age 6, but its most notable results have to do with infants. Previous research has documented a sharp rise in the percentage of overweight preschool children without separating out results for babies.

The data showed that in 1980, just 3.4 percent of infants less than 6 months old were overweight. By 2001, it was 5.9 percent, and researchers think the trend has continued since.

Are heavier peers skewing the data, so that 70th percentile today might have been the 60th percentile ten years ago?

Or should I have worked harder to bring my 'D' up to a 'C' in college statistics, so I could have dropped the class altogether and saved myself from these types of questions?

Discuss.
I'd say honest reporting

From the Philadelphia Daily News:
"They call Connecticut the land of steady habits," a jubilant Lamont told cheering reporters. "Tonight we voted for a big change."
Emphasis added and hat tip, James Taranto.

Update: I should point out that my headline answers Taranto's question, "honest reporting or freudian slip?"
Castro, the movie

Written and directed by James Lileks:
The malcontent, the street brute, the intellectuals who mistake their neuroses for insights – they’ll remember you, and speak in your name. But they will be few. There was no such thing as Castroism, after all. Only Castro. In the end it all dies with you.

“Eventually it will come down to this, my friend: history will note that the people in the American jails at the tip of this island ate better than the average Cuban.”

Monday, August 07, 2006

Turn and face the strain

Cathy Seipp once remarked that she couldn't understand women who cry when they send their children off for their first day of school, that instead of being sad, they should feel like they've accomplished their duties and deserve a sense of satisfaction for a job well done.

Well, I don't mind feeling misunderstood. I have been crying all summer at the prospect of sending my little girl to public school kindergarten. Full day kindergarten, mind you. A week from today that day is upon us, and I still tear up thinking about it.

It's not the fact that she's growing up that gets me. Heavens, no. I find child-rearing more enjoyable the older she gets. We're both excited about the new experiences and adventures she has before her. It's the fact that I have to let her go--make that shove her--into childhood's fiercest jungle.

While some have nothing but fond memories of those early days, mine are, uh, less than fond. For instance, one of two kids in my first grade class did not get invited to Suzie Q's birthday party. And the other one wore thick glasses and--I think--training pants. I still feel nothing but confusion about that.

Then there's not being able to run to the top of the slide without using my hands. Sorry -- club membership denied.

There are all kinds of stories like that fill my memory book and I attribute some of them to my introverted personality, which my daughter seems to have inherited. So sending her to the lion's den does not really excite me the way it might --oh, an ex-cheerleader or ex-basketball star.

Public school -- make that any school--will certainly educate her in the law of the jungle, which she'll need if she's to become Tarzan. I get that. I also get that vaccinations will protect her from measles, mumps and rubella, but I still cried holding her down--as she writhed underneath me--while the nurse stuck that needle in.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Gone fishin'

Back in a few days.
Going gray

This writer thinks more women in Texas dye their hair than other places. That sounds right to me. As I start to go gray, I'm considering becoming a club member:
Andre Nizetich, president of the California-based American Board of Certified Haircolorists, agrees with the more conservative numbers and believes that about 35 percent of women ages 18 to 60 color their hair. He said that most start in their 30s to cover the first signs of gray. They stop in their 50s because they're tired of the hassle and expense, have been married for at least 20 years, and figure "my husband loves me the way I am."
Do you dye for your husband or for yourself?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Feds jail blogger

Earlier this year, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Mr. Wolf to testify before a grand jury and turn over video from the demonstration, held in the Mission District on July 8, 2005. The protest, tied to a Group of 8 meeting of world economic leaders in Scotland, ended in a clash between demonstrators and the San Francisco police, with one officer sustaining a fractured skull.

A smoke bomb or a firework was also put under a police car, and investigators are looking into whether arson was attempted on a government-financed vehicle.

Mr. Wolf, who posted some of the edited video on his Web site, www.joshwolf.net, and sold some of it to local television stations, met with investigators, who wanted to see the raw video. But Mr. Wolf refused to hand over the tapes, arguing that he had the right as a journalist to shield his sources.

I don't know how to feel about this.