Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Alpha Males Look Good

Interesting piece from The Guardian about how politicians are Alpha Males who must keep up their physical strength to hold their own in the political arena. They suggest Tony Blair's recent heart trouble made him stumble a bit in the eyes of the tribe.

More Dot Edu Folks

My dad used to say to me when I came home for vacations during college and GOD FORBID I would cuss, he'd get all red and say, "I'm paying good money for you to learn to swear like a sailor!" Actually I don't think Mount Holyoke had a program, nor did Columbia University for that matter, that made any pretense of instructing me in Nautical Language and Literature. I'd just say, "Sorry Pop!" and remind him that in fact , I was learning English, French and Russian and could swear as well as any member of their naval fleets in all three languages. I also looked pretty cute in one of those flat hats from the Russian navy. He did not appreciate my saucy retorts.

Anyway, I just took a peek again at my referrer log and I've got more visitors from such esteemed institutions as Berkley, edu, UCDavis.edu, Harvard.edu, Rice.edu, UMN.edu and others on my site tonight. Run! Get off my site! Get outta here! Your parents are going to be so pissed off at me if they find you're spending their hard-earned or borrowed tuition reading blogs. My parents are dead, so they won't take me to task over the Thanksgiving table, but I sure don't want YOUR PARENTS after me. Shoo! Back to your books. Hit the carrels. Study, study, study and pass those exams.

Thanksgiving Travel Tomorrow

Be really careful. I pick the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as the world's worst travel day. Everyone travels on that day for the most part. There are very few other days all year that have that level of concentration of travel. Even with a big holiday weekend, you can slip out Friday evening, Saturday morning, whenever and not miss a Monday holiday, but with Thanksgiving, everyone funnels into Wednesday. I hate it. I remember insane drives up from LA through the grapevine following the 5 north to San Fran or Sacramento. I can hear the cattle (and smell them) at Harris Ranch as I type.

We're off to Connecticut tomorrow, but thank god, by train, NOT driving.

Hi Dot Edu Guys

There are folks currently here on my site, if my referrer log is correct, from Princeton.edu, Wellesley.edu, AEUSD.edu and Hawaii.edu. Aren't you guys supposed to be studying for exams ... no wait, you're almost off for Thanksgiving vacation. Cool! Thanks for reading.

Rather Fascinating

I often see parts of things I've written on other people blogs -- people I don't know and who don't know me. I was just looking at a cut and paste edit of my Alpha Male 18 Lessons on a person's site. They cut out what they didn't like and kept what they did like. Total hatchet job actually.

I suppose as the author I could get all upset about that, but actually it's rather fascinating as you give your words away, it's every interesting to see what people do with them. When I was in school doing my masters' degree in writing (MFA) and we would critique a story, one of the toughest teachers made us do an exercise like that. We had to say where we lost interest, where we got interested and rip the thing apart in that way to show the writer where it worked for the audience and where it did not work.

This type of radical surgery is often very painful but also very helpful. I really like to hear what people think of my stuff and also feel as if it's no longer mine anyway, once I publish it, it belongs to readers and how they interpret it.

The original post did not credit me as the author, but others who commented did know my name and put a link up to the original source. This is a good neighborhood, this Net.

Ed Cone Daily Minimum Requirement

He's a favorite vitamin supplement of mine. Did you read him today?

All You Want For Christmas

When it comes to unwrapping gifts for the holidays, why not start by unwrapping your partner? Jodie over at ScoreBrowniePoints has the inside info.

Go on, guys, there's nothing wrong with a naked holiday, is there? Another bit of shecommerce for you all to enjoy.

Dear Dear Diary


Pink

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
Cuz you're the only one that I know who'll keep
Them

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
I know you'll keep them, and this is what I've
Done

I've been a bad, bad girl for so long
I don't know how to change what went wrong
Daddy's little girl when he went away
What did it teach me? That love leaves

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
Cuz you're the only one that I know who'll keep
Them

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
I know you'll keep them, and this is what I've
Done

I've been down every road you could go
I made some bad choices as you know
Seems I have the whole world cradled in my hands
But its just like me not to understand

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
Cuz you're the only one that I know who'll keep
Them

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
I've been a bad, bad girl

I learned my lessons
I turned myself around
I've got a guardian angel tattooed on my shoulder

She's been watching over me

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
Cuz you're the only one that I know who'll keep
Them

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
I've been a bad, bad girl

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
Cuz you're the only one that I know who'll keep
Them

Dear, dear diary, I want to tell my secrets
I've been a bad, bad girl

I've been a bad, bad girl

Can't Get It For Free

My new short story is finally on the newsstands in the new issue of Penthouse. Okay, here's the deal. A lot of you guys are feeling a little shy about walking up to the newsstand man and asking for it. If you're feeling a little bashful, you can get it here.

The newsstand price is $7.95. With tax, you're looking at about ... $8.25. If you want to Paypal me $15.00 or MORE -- my tip jar can use it -- I'll trot into Harvard Square, buy you a copy, slit the plastic, autograph it and mail it to you.

And as for you loyal fans who already bought an autographed copy of the first chapter of Alpha Male a few months back -- it's payback time -- I'm sending you a autographed Penthouse on the house. I really appreciated your support at that time. You'll never know how much.

Britt

Britt Blaser is writing some amazing stuff. Take the time to read it.
Every warrior knows that perfect safety is a fool's paradise. The premise of the current war on terror is that we can entertain our way out of the terrorist threat. It's entertainment to feel an illusory omnipotence that will hunt down every evil-doer and infidel–a kind of adolescent road rage, really. The old heads in your squadron know to protect such greenhorns from their enthusiasms, at least until they learn or die. "There are old pilots and bold pilots. There are no old, bold pilots."
I keep meaning to point out this post or that, but at this point, all I can say is, JUST READ EVERYTHING!

The Wonderful World of COBRA

Jeneane's post is a must read. This is what is really happening in our real lives in the really wonderful country. If she doesn't pay for COBRA, she knows she, her husband and her baby daughter are at terrible risk, but who the hell has that kind of money when there are so many other bills to pay? If you pay $1300 for COBRA, but can't eat or pay the rent, remind me how healthy you are anyway?!

And of course, she's lucky to even HAVE health insurance. So many of us don't have it at all.

Miss Spelling

Some day someone will explain how all our pern, I mean parn, I mean PORN now comes across your email inbox full of your standard filth but also full of misspellings. This I understand is a way for it to slip past filters, but it's so dumb.

I guess all these misspellings are supposed to look even filthier. If guess if you're Strunk and White, watching all these spelling and grammatical taboos get broken, might be so shocking they get you all in a lather, but I'm finding them completely LOL crazy.

I had email from a naughty young e-lady the other day that implored me to remove her clothes ... I think ... she said dramatically, "TAKE MY CLOTH OFF!"

I had to reply, "Take your own cloth off, and get outta here!"

Dervala's Urban Outfit

You can take Dervala out of the Canadian wilderness, but you can't take the Canadian wilderness and warm appropriate clothes off of Dervala. She recounts a misguided attempt to go urban by hunting down and slipping on a miniskirt. I bet she looked great but she decided to bag it in the end.

Brisk Morning Walk Good Night's Sleep

No surprise to me that a study reports getting early morning exercise helps you sleep at night. I have to wonder if the correlation is so direct or that something else is at work.

I've been walking a lot lately, and not just for exercise, but trying to see how many of my errands and real life activities I can do walking instead of driving. I live in a surburb of Boston where most people drive EVERYWHERE, so when I show up at a party or the store or meeting someone for coffee at Starbucks and they find I walked an hour or more to get there, they are stunned. I find it stunning to see how much of my life is structured around DRIVING EVERYWHERE which I hate.

I guess I feel a little like Forrest Gump lately. You remember he started running and just kept going. Once I start walking, some days I just want to keep on going.

Monday, November 24, 2003

D'accord, Jean-Yves


Donc, qu'est-ce-que tu racontes? Il faut que je blog en francais maintenant? D'ac, je vais essayer.

Je te remercie pour le ... WHAT THE HECK DO THEY CALL A LINK IN FRENCH .. oh yeah, le lien a Technorati avec Les 100 Plus Super Chouette Blogs Francais. Et merci a Loic aussi.

Voila. Ca va?

Ut Oh ... Key Lime Pie

Wow! That was a bad idea -- to look deeper into the Joe's Stone Crab website. They have a receipe section and a picture of their terrific Key Lime Pie. I'd kill for some.

When we were kids my dad used to drive us down to Florida for vacations in this old 1965 station wagon. We went nuts for the Key Lime Pie and of course, the coconut patties. I looked like such a weird kid. I had big green eyes, a very big head with a big big head of hair, straight, full, strawberry blonde -- completely wild when not in two thick braids -- and a stick body. I was sick all the time and a real 48-pound weakling for the longest tmie. I should dig up a picture around here somewhere. I showed my kid one a few weeks ago and it made him laugh and laugh. He thought I looked like those head bobber dolls.

Someone is eating a piece of Key Lime Pie somewhere in Florida right now and I am so jealous.

Ever Been To The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables?

What an amazing hotel. I had to go check it out once when I was working for a conference series to see if we would book it for an event. They put me in the bridal suite, alone. It was one incredible suite of rooms. I lost my luggage in the suite, because I didn't notice which closet in which room the the bell boy put away my bags.

They have a football field length swimming pool. I've never seen such a terrific pool.

It has some great history. BTW, if you're in Miami, go to Joe's Stone Crab for me. I love the creamed spinach there.

Ever Been To The Coke Museum In Atlanta?

It's really weird. For you guys that get off on brand, it's a helluva place. I left thinking, "they are making millions of dollars with sweet brown bubbly water. Go figure."

How Did People Used To Meet Anyway?

After reading that NYT Sunday Magazine piece about online dating, I suddenly couldn't remember how people used to meet before email and online stuff ... let me think back. Oh yeah, I met some of my early boyfriends ...

in college,
at my first job,
through family friends one summer weekend,
at a party at a friend's house,
at grad school,
at grad school,
at grad school,
and then my husband ...
he was a friend of a previous boyfriend and came to speak at a conference I was running.

I got a chance to know them, (and they me) by watching them, working with them, knowing their friends, even knowing some of their past girlfriends, long before we were doing anything intimate. But one thing that surprised me, reading that article is the "disconnectedness" and lack of social screening there is now, which you could rely on in the old days. Most of the guys I dated came through our social network so you knew a lot about them through family or friends or co-workers right off. There wasn't a sense they were just floating out there in cyberspace. That part is a little frightening. To really know nothing about someone ...

Romance 2.0

The story in yesterday's The New York Times Magazine by Jennifer Egan called Romance 2.0 about online dating really needed to bring blogs into the conversation. Seems like that is surely part of the mix. Focusing only on the personals and online dating services seemed pretty flat.

Hey Accordion Guy

How the heck did I miss hanging out with you at BloggerCon? I think it was a plot that Boris and Joi hatched, acting like big brothers -- trying to keep us both out of trouble.

Where do I sign up for accordion lessons, anyway?

Speaking of which, little known Halley factoid here -- I had an accordion when I was a teenager, but could never seem to get the hang of it.

Paper

Yes, I vote for PAPER.

Andrew Sullivan on the GOP and Dean

Am I getting mixed up or is Andrew Sullivan a liberal?

"The GOP has now no crediibility as a party of fiscal discipline or small government. It's just another tool of special interests - as beholden to them as the Dems are to theirs. Its pork barrel excesses may now be worse than the Dems, and the president seems completely unable or unwilling to restrain them. I know I'm a broken record on this but we truly need some kind of third force again in American politics - fiscally conservative, socially inclusive, and vigilant against terror."

And don't miss his essay on Dean.

I Pray For The Moms Today

I pray for the moms and all their kids.

I pray for the moms who worry about all of us.

I pray for the moms who cook for us, who clean for us, who care for us, who cheer us up.

I pray for the moms of soldiers.

I pray for the divorced moms.

I pray for the widowed moms.

I pray for the moms who've lost children.

I pray twice for them.

It's My Mom's Birthday

Miss you Mom. Kiss you Mom. Love you Mom.

Kathryn Suitt

November 24, 1918 - September 26, 1997

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Some Kid From Utah

I heard John Kerry's wife interviewed today and she made a crack about Dean having "some kid from Utah" who knew a lot about the internet but that didn't really mean anything.

No comment.

Cold Winds Will Blow

This morning the post I did about this book spoke to a very big problem America is facing -- the eradication of the middle-class in the US. Instapundit points out the outsourced jobs trend and it's political impact and then sends us over to this terrific blog and then don't miss this comment to that post:

I'm living this nightmare right now.
As one of nearly forty thousand aerosapce workers let go by Boeing, I know and understand what is happening quite well.
Most of the new 7e7 jetliner is going to be built overseas, and the remainder in right to work states who made big payoffs to Boeing for the priveledge.
It's simple. I cannot compete. It's not that I don't want to.
I cannot compete with a chinese or malay who works for 75 cents an hour. By the same token, I cannot compete with a BETTER paid Japanese worker, who's government is willing to shell out billions in development costs to Boeing to get the work. Instead of pressing for government action against airbus subsidies, Boeing gets it's money from foreign governments, and gives away American jobs as a reward.
Then it takes billions in taxpayer dollars for defense contracts and has those for dessert.

The upshot of all this will be increasingly vitriolic class warfare and political division.
I fully intend to participate when not busy trying to keep my family's nose above water.
I am in technical school learning to be a cook.
It's about all I could afford under the government program for aerospace worker retraining.
It probably won't be the last time that I belly up to the government's bar for a drink. The BEST I can hope to earn is half my former wages. And at 44 years of age, thats a hit. That means working until I am DEAD.
Yes,I have given up on the idea of retirement.
I don't like taking public money, and I don't like the idea of no retirement.
But America is no longer the land of opportunity. Sure, you can get lucky, or be born that way.
But I played by the rules of the game, and the rules have changed.
This is my adaptation to those new rules.
Don't like it? I don't either. You won't like the strife and social upheaval that are bound to follow either, the kind that always happens when an underclass is created an penned in with little chance of something better.
It will be the Gen-x's and those that follow on, the ones without wealthy parents who will lead the revolt. Outnumberd and out voted by greedy baby boom geezers (think the latest medicare bill, only a hundred fold more onerous)they will get tired of low wage jobs and onerous taxation and just opt out of the society that put them in that position.
Think of that. The baby boomers facing a redeux of their own 60's dissaffection.
It's going to be interesting, but horrible.


and the commentor's own blog.

The cold wind that will blow is the ongoing erosion of the middle-class and the social upheaval this will bring. It will not be pretty. Blogs will enable the story to be told. When it's clear that blogs are the tool -- they will see how radical they are. They will pull the plug.

BTW, anyone notice how many bloggers there are in Boston? Anyone notice the Democratic National Convention (DNC) is going to take place in Boston next year? Anyone noticing anything?

Don't Be Fooled

The weather looks great for the coming week here in Boston, but I bought a new sheepskin hat and sheepskin mittens because we are going to get walloped by a winter we've been managing to avoid so far ... just wait!

I've got my boots, hat, mitts, long johns all ready. I'm seen this routine before. I've got all my son's stuff at the ready too. The kids don't get to go out at recess time when it's cold (and fun to play in the snow) unless they have snow pants and all the other accessories. Even if it's blowing a gale and snow is dumping, as long as it's above 20 degrees, they have outside recess here all winter, IF they have their gear (snowpants, boots, mittens, hats, scarves). Nothing's worse than having to sit inside watching your pals playing in the snow.

All you warm weather parents -- can you imagine keeping track of all that clothing all winter? The worst part is that they leave one mitten here and one hat there and on and on and on. They never remember to bring home their snow clothes. By March, when it's still snowing, they have nothing to wear, but are still able to bring home another bout of flu for the family to share. :(

Still Ruminating

Just wanted to throw some pointers at Jeff Jarvis' notes on Andrew Sullivan speaking at the Online News Association Conference, in Chicago, two weeks back which are full of important ideas I'm still thinking about.

There's this:

: "I think it's going to get more revolutionary. We're going to see self-publishing of books... and taking power away from editors and publishers and media magnates."

: In the news media now, he says, the public "knows there is a man behind the curtain."



And this:

: What sets apart weblogs, he says, is economics: He talks about the economics of thoughtful journalism: The New Republic has never made money and loses more. The Nation doesn't make money. "And then I experienced blogging as an alterantive. It staggers me to realize that last week, AndrewSullivan.com... is now reaching more people online than the magazine I used to edit, which is still losing... hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. That's a big deal... We haven't just made the economics of journalism cheaper.... We haven't just lowered the barriers to entry to journalism, we've completely revolutionized it."


And this too:

: "I think of blogging as the first genuine innovation that came out of the Internet itself."

Way Tuckered Out

Steve and Sage and I were going to do dinner tonight, but I was so tuckered out, I asked if we could please rearrange, so we did. Meanwhile, I'll just have to wait a few weeks to cook up a One Pot Meal for them, but I think it will be worth the wait. By then we might have some real cold winter temperatures and we'll all work up a big appetite for home cooking. Thanks for being flexible, you guys.

In The Balance

I got so many interesting comments -- I mean emails, I know, no comments here -- this weekend about how people balance their lives after I wrote about balance. Much appreciated. Here's a few:

From Werner:

> I have found that balance in the way we want it is
> not something
> natural, and our stress about it it is more a thing
> in our heads. Like
> that we are OK if we manage to give all of these
> things our equal
> attention.
>
> Not that I am terribly successful at it, but when
> trying to balance
> things I like to borrow something from 'chaos
> theory'. Sometimes it is
> very difficult to see order (balance) at the level
> that you are looking
> at. If you look at a too detailed a level everything
> seem chaotic and
> you get totally overwhelmed by the chaos of things.
> To find the order
> you sometimes have to take one or two steps back to
> look at the 'bigger
> picture' and suddenly see order appearing.
>
> I find that for balance in your life the 'steps
> back' you have to take
> are steps back in time. While at a detailed
> timescale it sometimes seems
> as if you are not capable of achieving order and
> balance, it is
> important to take a step back and see whether you
> are able to achieve
> balance at the next level up, with maybe a couple of
> days or a week.
>
> Micromanaging a life is impossible; there are so
> many unknowns, plus
> that it is not fun. Or at least I think it is not
> fun to live your life
> with a strict schedule after day. Where is the joy?
>
> As you write it is important to let the energy of
> those things we think
> are fun charge our lives. It is almost more
> important than anything else
> we do. Without that we turn into sour, cynical
> middle-aged parents. And
> we can't have that can we. No fun at all.
>
> So what if you go totally overboard on skiing the
> first week when the
> slopes open again. Or take a weekend and watch all
> the 24 episodes or
> that television series on DVD. As long as you manage
> to find some
> balance at the next level up or the level above
> that.
>
> Of course there are deadlines, and your body reacts
> if you don't
> exercise for a few weeks. But not everything should
> be a deadline.
> Because this is life, not business.
>
> Evaluating our balancing act at the wrong timescale
> can totally stress
> us out. We typically pick a day as how to evaluate
> our balance. If you
> have done x or y that day you feel horrible. We hook
> up our lives to
> this notion of 'a day'. 'If I haven't done exercise
> today I feel
> horrible and I feel stressed all day because I still
> try to get to it'.
> Sometimes it helps to step away from cramming
> everything in a day and
> find balance the next level up. gets all these bad
> stress and panic
> chemicals out of your body, etc.


And this from Jerry:

>> I was
>> a single parent of three children and see that as a
>> primary issue. I had a
>> "work at home" job and daddy's time when working was
>> not to be violated. It
>> was of course but rarely and on the whole "the
>> schedule" worked fairly well.
>>
>> And I am not a "scheduler." But I got things done.
>>
>> I see the consulting work I did much like your
>> writing. You simply have to
>> set a time for it and do it -- regardless. I recall
>> that Hemingway was
>> religious about writing at the same time per day and
>> when a few hours had
>> passed he quit, something not always easy to do.
>>
>> I don't know if you are a "scheduler" or not. But I
>> found it useful for
>> doing my work and for guaranteeing time with my
>> children. Other important
>> things took second place and fell into a slot here
>> and there and always
>> seemed to get done.
>>
>> Your columns have made me think of what I could have
>> done better and I thank
>> you. But hating schedules as I do, I think that one
>> who leads and
>> interesting life must set certain priorities,
>> certain times, and see that
>> they get done. Scheduling everything is for fools
>> or those who have nothing
>> better to do than write schedules.

Adam Curry's Take on Michael Jackson

I like what Adam has to say about Michael Jackson. I'll say what I said before. Michael Jackson is innocent until proven guilty. So far his major sins seem to be the fact that he's wealthy, famous and an artist -- things that Americans secretly envy and resent.

And Rod's Rocking

And Rod's busy rocking and rolling his Saturday Night away. Some people have all the fun (and warm weather -- notice the pix -- I'm jealous). His blog piece satirizing my sports post is funny as hell.

Samedi Soir

That's an old French tune called "Saturday Night" and goes on to say "everybody loves Saturday Night." Here's what Skadz was up to last night. I guess I was all wrong about bloggers hiding behind their blogs on Saturday nights. They're all out partying after all.

Another Saturday Night

Betsy's Saturday nights sure sound like way more fun than mine. She's chilling champagne waiting for Catherine Zeta-Jones to drop by, while I'm just eating at Sandrines (which is terrific actually). Holy Mackeral!

Hey, Redhead

Wow, I've been getting a lot of email and blogging about my Saturday Night comment. Honestly, I'm home most nights as a radically early-to-bed-early-to-rise girl, but of course last night, after expecting to be home, I was asked out to dinner and a movie.

I liked your "out every weeknight" problem. It's getting more and more that way, isn't it?

Andrew Sullivan On Marriage

Sullivan's comments on ABC This Week on marriage were well-informed and well-founded. I especially liked "I don't want to marry anyone, I want to marry someone. At this point, we don't have the right to marry anyone."

George Will brought up the real problem with the heterosexual marriage issue -- this gay marriage legislation has little to do with stoping the cultural erosion of heterosexual marriage. Legislating the popularity and appeal of marriage is essentially unworkable. Conservatives should be thrilled that anyone in this culture wants to get married anymore -- gays or straights or anyone.

Instapundit On Marriage

Glenn has some great Alpha Male things to say about enjoying many partners BEFORE marriage. There's going to be a lot of talk about marriage in the next few weeks with the recent ruling in Massachusetts and David Brooks' op-ed on gay marriage in The New York Times kicking off the discussion. I think heterosexual marriage is disintegrating as an institution. It will be interesting when there are more gay marriages than straight marriages one of these days.

Andrew Sullivan On ABC TV This Morning

Blogger Sullivan will be on ABC's Sunday morning show at 10:30 am today.

Sunday Mornings

Sunday Mornings have two things going for them -- 1) the Sunday morning political TV programs which most informed people like to watch; 2) church. If you're a church goer, you have to choose between church and state, so to speak. [I guess that depends on whether church starts at 10:30am like mine does, the same time these political shows air on the major networks ABC, CBS and NBC.]

I have to wonder also if there is a split between men and women here and I know this is a generalization ... but at least in my church, there are more women attending church and I suspect more men home watching political TV programs.

I suppose Tivo allows us finally to choose church AND state, but I don't have Tivo. When I ditch church and learn more about the state of the nation by watching those shows, I'm always sorry I missed church and only feel like praying.

Hug Them Close

Peter Riddell's new book, "Hug Them Close: Blair, Clinton, Bush & The Special Relationship" sounds really good. There's a panel discussion of the book on CSPAN Book TV this morning. Sounds like a quick, interesting read.

More Good Guys From Vermont

An interesting piece by Danielle Stein about good guy Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's company SweatX. He's started a clothing line that is out to show the garment industry we don't have to manufacture clothing based on a worker-destructive sweatshop paradigm:

Thank goodness for Ben and Jerry. They are the men who have brought us Chubby Hubby, Cherry Garcia, and Festivus (a tasty new flavor named in honor of George Costanza's made-up family holiday.) They have given us chocolate-covered pretzels in our ice cream and have made us feel good about consuming a pint chock full of brownies and cookie dough merely by labeling it "Frozen Yogurt." They've given us counterculture references for flavor names and quirky commercials filmed in Vermont. And now they're giving us fashion.

Well actually, only Ben (he does have a last name -- Cohen) gets credit for this one. The ice cream king, who has long been involved in social activism, has combined his politics and his entrepreneurial talents in a clothing line called SweatX. The company's goal is to create clothing while giving workers quality of life -- paying them $8.50 per hour (much more than the average sweatshop factory employee receives) plus benefits, a pension, and profit sharing as well as top-of-the-line equipment and a pleasant environment in which to work. SweatX is out to prove that it's possible to be successful while still treating employees well. And in Los Angeles, a hotbed of sweatshops where workers are regularly paid less than minimum wage for long hours in unsafe conditions, this is a crucial message.

This new clothing firm, which will produce casual clothing like T-shirts and sweatpants, is perhaps the most hopeful step in the fight against sweatshop labor. Because there are many concerned people out there -- myself included -- who might deplore the way most of our clothing is produced, but who have few apparel alternatives. For instance, I know that Nike is a glaring example of abhorrent labor practices, so I avoid their products. But I don't have the statistics on most of the other clothing lines out there, and I would believe that many of the companies I do patronize are paying South American workers 15 cents per hour to make my cable-knit sweater. And for the average consumer who does not spend her life as a labor activist, it is difficult to avoid the products of all offending companies.

But SweatX gives us an entirely new angle from which to wage this battle. Instead of asking consumers to stop buying from companies with less-than-perfect labor policies, it invites us to support one that passes the test. Instead of making activism require a decrease in consumerism (which is an unsuccessful tactic in our consumer-driven society), it allows us to make a statement and simultaneously get cool stuff! Throwing a little support in SweatX's direction contributes to its success, and the financial success of a garment business that practices humane treatment of workers would serve as proof to the industry that its trespasses are inexcusable. And if the industry loses its justification -- that it needs cheap labor to profit -- sweatshops are on the way out.

SweatX seeks to market its clothing in sports shops and college bookstores, drawing on the recent increase in anti-sweatshop activism on campuses across the country (as is evident here at Cornell). But the director of the California Fashion Association, Ilse Metchek, was quoted in the L.A. Times expressing her skepticism that students would support the project: "Students protest. They yell and scream. But when push comes to shove, they go to Wal-Mart and buy clothing made in Saipan."

It's time to prove people like Metchek wrong. Many of us may not have enough willpower or alternatives to shun big clothing labels like Nike, but this does not mean we won't rally around causes we support, especially if they require little effort (often a prerequisite for college student participation) and result in cute additions to our wardrobes. Ben Cohen and his colleagues have created something that has both innovation and integrity, and they deserve our support.

Ben Cohen's SweatX has the potential to revolutionize labor practices in the garment industry. If successful, it could become the prototype for other companies who could no longer claim they can't turn profits without exploiting workers. But it's a new project and has yet to prove itself. As its success would mean progress for labor practices, its failure would mean regression. Support of this endeavor -- in the form of consumerism, publicity, whatever -- by college students is essential. It could make worker's rights the flavor of the future.

Who Will Tell The People

William Greider's earlier book, "Who Will Tell The People: The Betrayal of American Democracy" looks like another must-read.

When We Wake Up

Very interesting interview with William Greider on CSPAN about his book "The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths To A Moral Economy" and the future of American workers and American families.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

More Voting Information

I'm happy to return to the good old days of paper ballots which are counted locally in our neighborhood precincts. This link will make you wonder if there's any good reason or even enough time to implement electronic voting software. Sounds very questionable.

Wrapped


You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the scylla and charybidis
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger

I have only come here seeking knowledge
Things they wouldn’t teach me of in college
I can see the destiny you sold
Turned into a shining band of gold

I’ll be wrapped around your finger ...

.. Sting

Scylla and Charybdis

I guess you could have it worse than being between a rock and a hard place. You could be sailing along when you run into Scylla and Charybdis. (I think ... and I may be wrong ... it's pronounced like window SILL-a and CHAIR-ib-dis).

A Woman's Right To Choose Dean

So Blogumentary is very complimentary today, giving me high marks over at his site. The "his" I find out is Chuck Olsen. Thanks, Chuck, you're the best. I'm sending you an honorary Alpha Male award by the next post ... I mean, mail ... I mean, what did Yahoo call it in that spam warning they sent me? ... oh, yeah, "postal mail" ... never heard that before. I used to think of it as a letter.

Anyway, you note that I am a big Dean supporter. Actually I'm NOT a Dean supporter, or at least not yet. I really like Dean, but I worry maybe Dean won't like me ... that is, maybe he won't like me supporting him, I mean I just published a story in Penthouse. Maybe if I support Dean and then someone finds out that people who write stories for Penthouse support Dean, this won't help him one little bit.

Maybe if I say nice things about him, someone will get the wrong idea and I'll turn more Dean supporters OFF than ON, so I've tried to officially kindof NOT mention I'm a Dean supporter.

Also a lot of my readers tell me they really don't like me writing about politics, "stick with the sexy underwear links" they advise. So you see, I'm kindof in the proverbial no-woman's-land ... you could say I'm between a rock and a hard place.

Besides, it was a tradition in my family for all registered women voters not to spill the beans and tell who they supported until the very end of the race or maybe never. If they were going out leafleting for Eugene McCarthy for instance, they'd claim they were going to look at wallpaper swatches. We Suitt women were never ones to vault onto any bandwagon going by.

But I'll make you a deal, if you want, I'll go up to Vermont and see if I can meet Dean one of these days and then I'll even make it public if I decide he's the kind of guy I want running my country, okay? I'm pretty sure we'll hit it off, so stay tuned.

They Make Winter Look Fun

I guess getting wrapped up in a lot of soft fuzzy blankety clothes and then getting unwrapped by a fire isn't the worst thing ... hmmm. Maybe this season has more going for it than I give it credit.

The Big Saturday Night Lie

Okay, you guys. I'm outing all of us. I call this "The Big Saturday Night Lie" and you know what I'm about to say.

On Saturday Nights, round about 6:00pm, all the blogging slows down to a standstill.

Now, everybody knows that we're all PRETENDING we have a hot date and we're getting laid on Saturday Nights (and that only Gnome-Girl probably is). So fess up -- WE KNOW YOU'RE HOME ALONE ON SATURDAY NIGHT DOING NOTHING -- and from now on I'm sending my Saturday Night Spider out to catch you in the act.

Yes, I've been coding up a nasty little app that will publish an RSS feed listing who's getting it and who's not on Saturday Night. The only way to be spared this humiliation is to blog some cool stuff on Saturday nights for all our amusement.

Now the rare three or four of you who really are out getting it on Saturday night, you're all at risk too. My app can chase you dfown the street and moblog and audioblog your sorry ass all over town and show the world what you're up to, so you need to do some pre-posts in draft form, keep them ready for Saturday night and then release them early in the evening and then later when you get home and before you get the girl into the sack, got it? You know who I'm talking to, you listening? :)

But the BIG Saturday Night Truth is, it's always better to stay home on Saturdays and do all your partying and catting around on some other night when no one else is out. Restaurants, theatres, clubs are all too packed on Saturdays. I figure we should start making Wednesdays the Stealthy Hottest Night In Town from now on.

My To-Do List

I don't think we're ever kind enough to ourselves. I know I'm not. So I've gotten into this habit of putting really EASY to-do things on my daily to-do list. And then they get a big CHECK when I've done them. We just never give ourselves enough credit I figure.

When I injured my foot and couldn't walk, I suddenly realized how much we do every day that we take for granted. For instance, when my son and I would get out of the car and come into the house, I suddenly realized once I was on crutches and COULDN'T help him, that I was carrying piles of his stuff, backpack, art projects, lunch box and tons of mine, mail, purse, gym bag, groceries. When he had to take up the slack, he was surprised too.

We both started to appreciate all the things we do all day. We do a lot. We deserve credit.

So now my to-do list has things like

Wake Up
Decide to Get Up
Get Up
Find Slippers
Put on Slippers
Find Glasses*
Put on Glasses
Walk into Bathroom
Pee
Wash Hands
Notice Toilet Paper Roll Is Out
Extra Credit: Replace Toilet Paper Roll
Take off Glasses
Wash Face
Dry Face
Walk into Kitchen
Turn on Teapot
Walk back into Bathroom
Run Bath
Don't Forget Stopper
Don't Overflow Bathtub
Pick Out Cute Clothes for the day
Listen for Water to Boil Water
Make Tea
Take Cup Down From Cupboard
Pour Tea
Drink Tea
Put Cup in Sink
Extra Credit: Wash Cup Now
Etc ....


With this level of detail, you'll soon be pretty impressed with yourself and how much you're getting accomplished every day.

[*Despite eye surgery, I still need glasses for close-up work, but my long distance sight is killer.]

Come On, Write Something New!

When I go to other bloggers' sites I like and they aren't writing new stuff I get so annoyed. I sit here and yell at the screen, "Come on! Come on! Write something new! Write something new! Tell me something! Tell me something good! Give me some gossip! What's the word?! Come on!"

Weighing In The Balance

If you have something weighing on your mind, you are hereby ordered to watch an old movie on your couch for free today and eat chips or popcorn at the same time.

When All Else Fails

Of course, when all else fails, you can try simply horsing around. Maryam, you're a life saver!

Click on the far left one to get the party started. They all click on and click off. The tenor on the far right -- or is he a gelding? -- can be a little annoying.

Three Squares

Another way to balance your life my mom insisted on and lately I'm seeing the wisdom of it. It's so simple and so many people don't do it.

Ready. It's just so "d'uh" I hate to even write it.

Eat three square meals a day.

Actually I like the modern variation on it -- eat about six meals a day -- but weave those additional little meals around the basic 3 -- breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I try to eat

BBBBRRRREEEEAAAKKKKFFFAAAAASSSSTTTT

LUNCH

dinner

In other words, a big big breakfast, a big lunch and a small dinner.

If you live alone or are on your own for a day or two (travelling, for instance) it's easy to stop eating at meal times and just let it all slip. Not good. Suddenly you'll find yourself eating a candybar for dinner in some hotel room and then be sugar-high and up half the night when you should be sleeping.

I know it's so so corny, but my 95-year-old church lady friend swears by it and I have to take her suggestions for longevity seriously. She always tells me, ROUTINE, ROUTINE, ROUTINE and asks me when I'll be coming over for tea. She eats her three squares every day like clock work, and throws in a lovely tea time at about 4:00 for good measure. Nice way to live.

Balancing Act

I'm going to make a list of the tools I have hanging around my house that help me keep things in balance today. At the top of the list is execise. I know I go on and on and on about it, all the time here at H's Comment, but it's so important, let me indulge just one more time.

Yoga -- helps me feel my feelings in my body, literally helps me read my body like a road map to walk the path of my feelings, I see the smooth path of my spine most days, the rocky road of my upset belly other days, the construction site and ditch of my tense shoulders, sometimes a mess. I don't do anything very intense, just stretching and a little quiet meditation, but the ROI is amazing. It gives me a calmness I can't find anywhere else, and reminds me what matters and what doesn't. Of course, it tells you most of the things you're worrying about don't matter at all.

Walking -- another magical renewal activity which I always start in a lackluster way, not at all convinced it will make one bit of difference in my mind or body, but 20 minutes into it, I'm born again and ready to evangelize about how wonderful it is to just get out the door and walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk, walk.

Lifting Weights -- never used to care for this but now, there's something absolutely exciting about the precision it affords, to see all the edges and curves of the muscles of the arms, for instance, as you work your biceps, triceps, shoulders. And the thighs and glutes, what a fascinating architecture and source of stability and strength.

Swimming -- I'm going literally off the deep end these days when it comes to swimming. As a kid, I always loved to toss those diving rings into the water and race other kids to dive after them. I love to go to the bottom of the deep end and get something no one else can retrieve. I like the mind blur you get into as you do laps, the body getting into a rhythm, the mind washing away worry.

Skiing -- don't get me started! I mean, DO get me started. The season is almost here and I can't wait.

Skating -- I've been skating a bit lately and I forgot how much I love it. I feel like an angel flying by on wings on a lovely mirror. Whisk ...........shhhhhhh.

Running -- I only do it inside on a track because I'm still really careful with my foot that I injured this summer. I think of running as a mind game. I love surprising myself at a great distance attained I didn't expect to crack on one day. And I love a day where I'm tired or cranky or just useless, but I put in a decent showing nonetheless. I like to sweat and feel it run down from my neck, between my breasts, down my belly. Makes me feel tough.

Tennis -- I'm no good at all, but I love the running part and how foolish you feel when you didn't bother to move your ass fast enough to be in the right place at the right time to whack that ball back. It's so much harder than it looks.

Golf -- I never tried it until pretty recently. It's so hard! And it's so exciting with all the variables of weather, course, terrain, all those different sticks to pick from, the brainy strategy required, the quiet of nature, the threat of rain, the frustration of a lost ball, the funny shoes. It's really cool.

Honestly, I love any sport that gets me out of my head and into my body. My body is much smarter than my head most of the time. I need to remember that.

Balance

As some of you know, I'm writing a book and I'm finding it tough to balance the time to write with the time to exercise, time to work, time to parent, time to be with friends, time to eat, time to think, time to love, time to clean house and ... oh yeah, time to blog.

I was thinking about balance and how we can get so out of balance when we let one part of our life dominate another.

I was thinking about how emotional artists can be and that passion can easily steer them in the wrong direction -- and even when they are going in the RIGHT direction -- they can just go too FAR in that direction.

There's a lot to be said for passion, but it can get out of hand. It took me a long, long time to realize the side of me that can write passionate, emotional words was the same side of me that would make it a bit of a roller coaster to live in the world. It took me a long time to understand the electricity I can pick up from the world, funnel through my body, heart, mind down into a pen onto paper, or through my fingers onto this screen, that those bolts of lightning were a little dangerous to play with and were better left locked up in a box on my desk some days when I had a regular life to lead, drycleaning to drop at the corner shop, groceries to buy, bills to pay.

So I'm going to write a little bit about balance today, but not too much, just enough.

I've been thinking too about Michael Jackson and Phil Spector. Emotional artists going off the deep end, but then I can't be too quick to judge, perhaps they are completely innocent of what they've been accused of. But whether innocent or guilty, it's hard to fathom what it must be like to keep your life in balance when you're going through the challenges those two are currently facing.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Thing One And Thing Two

Off to the movies. This is a favorite book. Sure hope Mike Myers didn't wreck it.

About That New Company I Just Founded

I guess it's just not in the stars today. Thanks for the warning.
Are you thinking of going into business for yourself, dear Aquarius? You should be aware that being self-employed does not automatically mean you'll have more freedom. Of course, you'll be your own boss, but you'll also bear all the responsibility for the success or failure of your enterprise. If you quit, the whole thing will collapse. Think about it. Base your decision on reality not fantasy...

Locke On The Force-feeding Of New Age Hocus-Pocus

Chris Locke has been writing weird but wonderful bloggery over at Rageboy on how the multi-million dollar New Age industry markets their wares. There are strange forces at work in that business. And it's a really big business, not just a bunch of crystals, incense and a few old copies of Yoga Journal.

As If You Didn't Know -- Ed Cone Rocks

I'm sure you've all read it about 50 times by now, but I did want to mention, this is pretty incredible, and of course, Ed Cone rocks.

She's So Nice

I used to want people to think I was nice. I used to think if you convinced enough people you were nice, then, you were nice. I don't really care about that anymore. I know there will be people who think I'm very nice and also people who think I'm not very nice at all.

I started to realize lately that almost everyone thinks they are pretty nice. Even terrible, miserable, rude, obviously nasty people think they are nice. I bet Hitler really thought he was a nice guy -- a guy trying to make Germany and the whole world a lot nicer so other nice guys like him and their nice wives and nice children could inhabit a really nice country and world.

I think most women are brought up to act nice. When they fall from this state of grace, or out of "a state of nice", they worry there will be hell to pay. Often, they are right-- at least to the extent that their social connections will be strained and they value social connection. They want everyone to play nice.

I think all this niceness undermines our power. When you go into the ring with someone who is not at all nice and will pull every below-the-belt trick on you, you're dead if you're playing nice. Sometimes I worry that in the ring with such an opponent many nice women start the conversation by saying to the monster on the other side of the mat, "My, what a nice belt you have on. Where did you get it? The leather is very nice. May I take a look?"

Wham-o.

KO'd.

Not so nice.

Thanksgiving Again

The weather in Boston for November is weirdly warm. When I was a kid, I remember we all wished for snow by Thanksgiving. We've got highs in the 50's predicted for the next week, so I'll be surprised if we get any snow.

Have you started that "things I'm thankful for" list ... maybe I'll start with all the squirrels outside my dining room French doors, it's like a widescreen Discovery Channel live nut concert, very cool. Squirrels tails are really long, almost as long as their bodies and they seem to use them to balance as they scurry around. I love the shiny white fur halo around the edge of their (oh, hell, there's no better word) bushy tails.

Sad Puppet

The booking picture of Michael Jackson being smeared across the web this morning makes me sad.

I don't know what makes me more sad actually -- looking into the dark abyss of either 1) Jackson being a child molester (and btw, remember, he's innocent until proven guilty?) or 2) Jackson being innocent and some parents being so sick as to invent the whole story and drag their kid through such a media circus just to attempt to rob him of his money.

No happy ending in Never-neverland I'm afraid.

Public Interest Or Cha-ching Cha-ching?

The Daily Mirror is oh-so-concerned with the "public interest" all of a sudden. Yeah, right.

"We have acted at all times in the public interest and have been completely open about the subterfuge we deployed. ... Terrorists are not renowned for their honesty in filling in application forms for jobs like this."

To pretend their sleazy "BUTLER SNOOPS ON ROYALS -- WITH PIX!!!" enterprise was in any way motivated by informing the public of security risks or terrorism concerns at Buckingham Palace is laughable in the extreme.

Wicked Witch

Another quote from this weird facts page, "Margaret Hamilton, the wicked witch of the west in the Wizard of Oz was once a kindergarten teacher."

In fact, she was a kindergarten teacher at my school, Rye Country Day School, but long gone by the time I got there.

Remind Me What Privacy Means?

Can't the Queen of England have a piece of plastic tupperware on her table?! What, should it be made of platinum? I think these reports that she's old and tacky because she's got a yogurt pot and tupperware in her breakfast room are so obnoxious. Of course, she's old and tacky -- what news is that?! She was tacky when she was young and now she's old. If someone reported on your grandmother's breakfast room, would they come up with anything different?

How would you feel to find out someone working in the most private areas of your home for two months was a REPORTER and had been taking picures.?! That's the story. The headline reads, "Some Britons Shocked At Queen's Decor" but would be more accurately stated, "Most Decent People Shocked At Reporter's Intrusive Rude Behavior"

Birthplace of Winston Churchill

Just heard on a cartoon on TV that Winston Churchill was born in a ladies lounge at a dance. Is that true? Better check the Net ... on the assumption, perhaps flawed, that the internet is usually more authoratative.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Best Thursday Dinner Going

Can't resist Boston Baked Beans, hot dogs, Canned Boston Brown Bread with raisins -- the round kind -- and some green beans on the side, to keep us from getting scurvy. Perfect dinner.

Forward March

My son and I just took an hour and half walk into town, very simple, very fun and managed to get a good chunk of time outside today, before this early winter dark descended.

Robots Wanted

Lately I've been seeing job descriptions that are so insanely comprehensive and so demanding, that no human could possibly fill them. Of course the thing ends with some goofy language about the person being a self-starter and a high-energy team player.

High energy?! Try just plain high -- a person would have to be so pumped up on cocaine, going full-tilt 24x7 to accomplish half the crazy tasks listed in some of these job descriptions, I can't help thinking managers have flipped their lids.

The skills required for some of these wonderful jobs cut across skill sets that are so antithetical, they require someone nearly schitzophrenic in their ability to focus on tiny details and, of course, simultaneously be a visionary big picture person, oh, and yeah, btw, I forgot, you have to be a sales closer and also an engineer and do your own typing and have had 10 years of profit-and-loss responsibility and have managed a team of 25 people. [It's a given you know how to fix the copier and you don't require any benefits or health insurance.]

After a while, you begin to understand what managers are really looking to hire -- they don't want to hire humans, they want robots.

They've grown used to hiring 5 people, slowly or quickly laying off 4, forcing some poor idiot to do the work of 5 for a year or two, and now, it is revealed more and more, this idiot then trains his counterpart in India or China and he's cannon fodder as well.

So there is going to be a very interesting labor market in the next few years. Managers are actually going to need to hire some American human beings one of these days. Those managers are still going to think they can hire one person to do a five-person job. People will have lost so much trust in such companies, or already gone bankrupt a few times, that they would rather flip burgers in their own neighborhood than fly on the 15-hub never-direct flight to East Jesus, arrive in the middle of the night, spend what's left of the night sweating out perfect transitions for their Powerpoint slides in some crappy hotel room far away from home, working for one of these slave owners.

Of course the smart guys will build their OWN robots to take their place at work. They'll have better things to do than actually keep a job.

I Really Don't Know Clouds At All

Words I learned at school today:

Cirrus
Stratus
Cumulus
Altocumulus
Altostratus
Cirrocumulus
Cirrostratus
Nimbostratus
Cumulonimbus

Yahoo Email Marketing

Yahoo just sent me this email about how they will probably start spamming my account and the thing is in 2 pt. type to make sure I never read it, so I'm gonna post it here and read it later.

"Dear Yahoo! Member,

Last year we announced changes that affect how we communicate with Yahoo! members about Yahoo!'s own products and services. However, we have not yet implemented those changes for all our registered members. Because of your previous account settings, Yahoo! has not yet sent you marketing communications under the new program. Before we do, we want to remind you how to set your preferences, and let you know what has changed and what is not changing.

Background Information
Over the years, we've sent emails to some registered Yahoo! members about Yahoo! products and services. We've also delivered promotional messages to Yahoo! members on behalf of our marketing partners. When you first registered with us and created your Yahoo! ID, our system presented a single "Yes" or "No" option for receiving all types of marketing communications. At some point you said "No," and after that we no longer sent any of these types of messages to you.

In March 2002, we began rolling out an updated marketing communications system. Instead of just a single "Yes" or "No" choice, we created a new Marketing Preferences page where you decide:

whether you want to hear from Yahoo! about our own products and services, and separately, whether you want to hear from Yahoo! about the offerings of our marketing partners;

whether you want to hear from Yahoo! about certain types of Yahoo! products and services but not others (For example, you can select specific categories such as "Managing personal finances" or "Using Yahoo! for research and surfing the Web," and de-select other categories that might not be of interest to you.);

whether you want to hear from Yahoo! (or not) by postal mail or telephone, in addition to email.

When this updated system was first announced in March 2002, we told you we'd begin sending you messages about Yahoo! products and services across all categories, even though you had said "No" to messages under the old single choice system. We also told you that you could still say "No" to these messages by visiting your Marketing Preferences. But we did not completely implement this change until now.

What's Changing on January 1, 2004
Starting January 1, 2004, Yahoo! will begin to send you messages, via email or postal mail, about our own products and services. (We will not send you postal mail if you have given us a mailing address and have opted out of contact via postal delivery.) You can control the types of messages you receive by visiting your Marketing Preferences at any time.

What's Not Changing on January 1, 2004
As in the past, you will not be sent messages on behalf of our marketing partners. We will not call you on the telephone to market products or services. If you ever change your mind about any of these choices you can let us know by visiting and updating your Marketing Preferences at any time. Every marketing email you receive from Yahoo! will continue to include instructions for how to unsubscribe from more marketing email. And, as always, you can delete your Yahoo! account altogether at any time, for any reason, by going to the deletion page.

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information. We look forward to serving you.

Sincerely,

Yahoo!"


School Program

Last night after dinner my kid tells me there's an open house at his class this morning at 9:00. No flyer in his backpack, no listings on their school website. Just a mysterious open house.

I think of my mom when I was a kid. I had the habit of mentioning after dinner that I needed 32 cupcakes for my class the next morning and stuff like that. I must have driven her half crazy -- and she had 5 kids doing this type of thing, I've only got one.

And I don't think people who are not parents have a clue what it's like -- the relentless nature of taking care of kids and the relentless disappointment if you drop the ball for one event. And the idiotic crap the school expects you to do including selling wrapping paper door-to-door for school fund raising and other things that working parents can not fathom adding to their already way too busy lives. There are many disconnects between school as it exists now and the working lives of parents.

You are continuously competing against other colleagues who do not have the ongoing challenges of juggling a more-than-full-time-job (parenting) and a full-time job.

I remember reading a company brochure about sick kid benefits early on when my son was little and I was still doing a classic corporate grind job. They had an employee benefit that was like renting a loaner car when your car was in the shop, but this was a loaner mom if your kid was sick and you had to be at work. All sounded so modern and reasonable. If my kid had a 104 fever all I had to do was drop him off at this hospital day care facility conveniently located 45 minutes from my house in the opposite direction of work, then they would care for him and I could work all day and pick him up at the end of the day.

The brochure was so glossy and pretty. I kept turning it's many panels over trying to find the page that acknowledged NO KID WANTS TO SPEND THE DAY WITH A STRANGER IN A HOSPITAL WHEN THEY'RE SICK WITH AN EARACHE AND A 104 FEVER AND NO MOM WANTS TO LEAVE THEIR KID WITH ANYONE ELSE WHEN THEIR KID IS THAT SICK.

Ever see a movie where a sick kid calls out from their little bed "Paid Day Care Nursey!" instead of 'MOMMY?!"

Off to the 9:00am school program and lucky as hell I don't have a normal working person's 9:00am meeting that must be attended.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Boris on Gore -- The Other Gore

Boris's rowboat is zipping across an ocean of controversy. He's got notes on the Gore Vidal interview with Charlie Rose and it's really something to read.

All of it gives an American that tiresome feeling -- "Do we really have to wake up and look at what's happening here and admit we are in serious trouble and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?"

I know the day when Andrew Sullivan finally crosses the line is coming. His comments after his summer vacation in Provincetown were as close as I've ever seen him going "left" but I think there's a lot of left left in him and he will have to revisit it when his integrity is finally assaulted one too many times by the party of old baggy thugs currently running this country. He might be right-wing, but he's right-on and he's a blogger and he's gay and all of that adds up after a while.

Excerpt from the LA Weekly interview with Gore guaranteed to burn your eyebrows off if you get too close to the screen:

LA WEEKLY: ... So when it comes to this Bush administration, are you really talking about despots per se? Or is this really just one more rather corrupt and foolish Republican administration?

Gore Vidal: No. We are talking about despotism. I have read not only the first PATRIOT Act but also the second one, which has not yet been totally made public nor approved by Congress and to which there is already great resistance. An American citizen can be fingered as a terrorist, and with what proof? No proof. All you need is the word of the attorney general or maybe the president himself. You can then be locked up without access to a lawyer, and then tried by military tribunal and even executed. Or, in a brand-new wrinkle, you can be exiled, stripped of your citizenship and packed off to another place not even organized as a country — like Tierra del Fuego or some rock in the Pacific. All of this is in the USA PATRIOT Act. The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Hanged.

No Safety Zone When Devine's Up At Bat

Betsy Devine has written a zinger piece about the White House in 2023 with President Jenna Bush in charge. Yikes! And we thought things had gotten out of hand in the current White House.

Sideways World

I wrote a blog post about a sideways world last year and I think a lot is happening that supports my notion. I like hyperbole -- exageration that is. I like to float big factual ideas in fictional garments, just to get people thinking.

What this post talks about is a new radical reorganization of the world. It makes the Berlin Wall toppling look like kindergarten kids knocking over blocks. It's about a fundamental realignment of what the notion of community, county, country and cooperation will mean in our lives.

Joi Ito is very annoying.

Over in Japan, he's been writing things about OUR American elections. He's been writing things about OUR country. He's been, as usual, so far ahead of the curve and out in some place where politics and innovation meet, that none of us can figure out what the hell he's thinking or doing or SHOWING US.

He's showing us -- he may not even know this -- a very brave new world.

When he shows us his virtual town square -- the IRC chat channel where a world of people are connected simultaneously and cross all geographic boundaries -- he's showing us a new political way of thinking, living, inhabiting this planet.

When my friends in London or Holland or Japan start talking about voting for or against Bush, I stop and have to grant they have a point. They have a point because THEY get that we're going way beyond global here as a concept. We're going into "think global or think annihilation." Our new globe will feature nations of worldviews -- crossing oceans, hemispheres and time zones.

I don't think Bush misses this. I think his little globe features nations that go way beyond traditional borders -- his globe features big sprawling countries like Shell, Mobil, Yukos.

Strangely, by essentially eliminating the middle class in the US, he's helping many of us align with our sisters and brothers in the third world. Daily, I find I have more in common with other friends internationally than with the royalty in Washington.

We are rushing towards a Sideways World.

People Who Care

Glenn Reynolds points to Jeff Jarvis' great EXASPERATED post about Eric Alterman dissing blogs and finding it almost impossible to fathom that bloggers write for free because they care about their audience and about their colleagues. I have to smile. I love when Jeff says:

Perhaps, Eric, these are simply people who care. What a concept, caring. What a snotty attitude: Only the pros and a "tiny" number of others can do this. What crap. The whole thing is a bit hard to take but, as always, Alterman takes the cake.

I met someone yesterday -- a man -- and I was trying to explain what Halley's Comment was and especially the genesis of the "How To Become An Alpha Male In 18 Easy Lessons" posts I started about a year ago.

I started my blog when my dad was getting more and more ill in a nursing home after he broke his hip in December 2001 and his eventual death in April 2002. He never got up again. The posts were a way for me to understand this man -- surely this was my last chance -- who had been quite the Alpha Male for a lifetime and was now playing out the final act, curtain call, fade to black and all.

I cared about him. I cared about others in beds next to his -- many seniors who never had any visitors. I cared about a lot of people my age and younger going through the same wrenching time with their parents. I was writing for them and for me.

My blog was pretty sad in those days, especially right after he passed away, but things changed and soon there was a sunnier side to my blog as I began to meet many lively, funny, sexy vital men working as a conference organizer at Harvard. I was trying to figure out another mystery. It started with my dad but began to spread out into the world of men around me. Having worked in high tech for a long time, believe me there were a lot of men around me.

Something strange had happened to men. Feminism had left them out in the cold. All the wonderful Alpha Male attributes that my dad had been secure, confident and boastful in displaying -- his strength, his masculinity, his love of women, his flirtations with them, his "Me Tarzan, You Jane" maleness -- some how had become OFF LIMITS in this new generation of men. They were left with no place to stand. They had to apologize for what was basic and quintessential about their masculinity. It seemed really sad to me.

I wanted to understand it. So I blogged about it. I cared about these guys and I suspected that the ones I knew up close were experiencing things that MANY men I would never know, but might read my weblog, were experiencing. Boy, was I right about that. And the email started to pour in. Many of them were along the lines of "you're saying things I'm feeling but none of us men dare to say. Keep it up, thanks."

I explained to this new friend the other morning that the Alpha Male posts were like a kindof one-woman "welcome home from the battlefields of feminism"movement, (and I say that with all due respect to the very serious and honorable Vietnam Vets welcome home initiative.) I wanted to welcome men back to their wonderful maleness. Celebrate it. Tell them to stop apologizing for it. I wanted women to ease up on them, appreciate them, care for them, stop whacking them over the head with the essentially defunct feminist agenda. I wanted women to take their feminine power back as well, which I thought and still think is the very big upside for women as men also return to their better nature. Many women disagreed with me. So be it.

I thought we had all lost a lot of what was unique and wonderful about our differences. I simply felt the urgent need to write about it. I hoped it would make people think, make people laugh, make people think they were okay, not bad. I didn't make any money doing it back then.

I did make a little money recently selling autographed copies of the first chapter, but at $19.95 a pop, that was more of a lark and a way to try out Paypal, than become a captain of industry and generate piles of cash. (Believe me, it didn't, but I really appreciate you folks who bought that first chapter! Thanks again.)

Lately I'm getting more offers to write in other venues. It's flattering. I want to sell my writing, but I also want my readers to be able to come here at 10:30 on their coffee break and read new stuff for free, stuff I wrote just for them, because I know they care about me and I care about them. It's that simple.

Clean House

Okay, you can't tell me every square inch of your house, office or wherever you are right now is all clean and tidy. Take an hour and clean up, you'll be surprised how it changes your mood. Wouldn't be nice to be in a clean joint? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to find everything? Isn't today the day to give a stack of old newspapers or magazines the heave-ho? Just do it.

Back later. It's recycle morning here. Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

We're The Boys In The Chorus

Can't get enough of those Bugs Bunny cartoons.

This one, called "What's Up Doc" has the same cliches that every celebrity insider interview has -- not much has changed in 50 years.

Bugs is lounging by the pool in Hollywood as the gossip columnist calls to interview him. He starts with his parents spotting early acting talent in their baby bunny. Then he goes through the whole bit of trying to break out of the chorusline. Even the tantrum throwing as he finally gives up and swears, "I'm not performing again until I get the right part," and he walks off the set.

Soon he's starving and trying to get any work at all. A starving out-of-work rabbit looks pretty pathetic.

Finally he teams with Elmer J. Fudd (for some reason my son calls him E.J. Fudd, like they are old pals) and they hit the vaudeville circuit (see steamer trunks with Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago stickers glued on) and accidentally stumble on the tagline "What's Up, Doc?" which drives crowds wild. They don't even know why it works, but they certainly know that it DOES work for some reason.

I won't tell you the end ... but if you know anything about show biz ... what goes up, must come down.



Werner's Back

Great to see Werner's back from Amsterdam. Don't miss all his pix. Congratulations on all the honors.

Jeneane Ready For Double Angel Round

Talk about killer apps! Jeneane goes two better than MeetUp.

Credit Due

In the post below, I linked to an artist I discovered from another blogger. So let me give credit where credit is due. First, thanks to Boris (who thanks Aaron) for the link to Sam Brown. of Exploding Dog. I think his stuff is terriifc. I like this and this and this and this.

Overwhelmed?

I suppose I could dig up some weird information on the net about how some planets are in some weird alignment and weird vibrations are putting us all in a weird place ... but I'll just go with my gut on this and say ... ARE THINGS A LITTLE WEIRD AND OVERWHELMING OR WHAT?!

So many of us are still out of work, out of favor, out of cash, out in the cold, but here's the thing.

We really are turning a corner. It's one helluva of a long endless corner, but it's happening.

So here's my thought for today -- very AA I admit -- but really, take it one day at a time here.

Notice the nice things about this day ... and it might simply be a cup of coffee that tastes great.

And let me send this along.

Margaret, You Rock

Margaret is working hard at her exams and I just wanted to say GO GIRL! Sounds like AKMA's committing the sin of pride -- but it's hard not to be proud of such a terrific wife and incredible kids. We'll forgive you this time, parson.

Last Year Brrrrr

It was a lot colder round about this time of year, last year.

Of Fame And Fortune

I've had the blessing of knowing a number of rather well-known, if not famous and rather fortunate people in my life. They run the range from business leaders to writers, actors, painters, directors, news reporters, poets and bloggers. Some are men, some are women.

One is them was Oprah. I got a chance to be on her show after writing a letter to the book club about how much I liked the book selection for that show. I didn't have an inside track, I just wrote a letter. I don't know her at all well, I just know her from this experience. She had one thing in common with all the other successful people I've known. It wasn't anything particularly mysterious. It wasn't a strategy open to a select few -- it's available to one and all. She worked her ass off to get where she was and she is still working very hard.

I've met people who were making millions of dollars, who were recognized by anyone walking down the street. To a one, they shared this same capacity for working very hard. None of them got where they were by luck alone. Most of them got there by getting up early, getting to the place they worked first, before everyone else, working an endless day and often as not, smiling through it and making it look easy. Yes, some had big tempers and some weren't as hard-working as others, but most of them simply faced the fact that in a pinch, hard work, execution and delivery carry the day. Were they lucky? I'd say they made their own luck by working hard. Many err on the side of being friendly and generous and that makes other people want to work with them and for them.

I think of it whenever I have an attack of "they have it better than me-itis" -- I think of the bloggers I know who are on the alleged "A list" and I think of the hours they spend writing, speaking, trekking across the country on airplanes, taking risks and chances with their careers, the time they miss with their families and friends, the way they put themselves on the line continuously by even HAVING an opinion and stating it. There's no mystery to their alleged fame and fortune -- they work for it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Found The Halloween Candy

Just was talking to a girlfriend, Ruth, who I went to college with and love to chat with, we were going on and on. She's also a writer and a great one, so there's no end to stuff we can discuss.

But then ...

I found the leftover Halloween candy. I always hide it away from my son and suddenly find it some place strange.

I said, "I gotta go, I found the Halloween candy." She knows the drill. We're both moms. You have to steal the stuff before the kids get home and catch you with it.

It's been picked pretty clean. Kitkats -- gone. Twix -- gone. Plain Hershey Chocolate Bars -- gone.

Unfortunately, just a lot of Hershey's with Almonds. Not a favorite around here ... but they'll do in a pinch.

There Is A God

I found this post so poignant and endearing for some reason when it was published last week on Fleshbot. I found myself feeling slightly touched by it.

When we're all so busy shaving hair OFF these days, it's nice to know that some artist is laboring over a hot monitor cutting and pasting some pubic hair ON an unfortunate digital damsel without cover, just makes you feel like people still care about the little things. The little things that make us human. I can feel for her -- she just wanted to look like all the other girls in the locker room when it was time to put on her digital swimsuit.

Well, you know there is a God in Heaven when acts of selflessness, such as these, walk this world. Let's hope she doesn't get her hands on a digital Venus and waste the guy's hours of painstaking work.

When The Ice Cream Gets Whiskers

When you look into a box of old ice cream, that's been in the freezer too long -- say the quart size cartouche-shaped box of Neopolitan -- strawberry, chocolate and vanilla -- to find those white grandpa-ish ice whiskers sprouting, you must feel free to ditch the the whole box, when it gives you a wave of existential angst, as well it might. Just let it go. You just have to let some things go.

New York Snake Dance

Wonderful weekend in New York hooking up with a bunch of terrific bloggers but I have to describe this utterly mysterious thing that happened at dinner at The Oyster Bar.

First you have to visualize one section of the restaurant that has large horse-shoe-shaped counters -- about four of them. This is the most fun place to plop down and get a bowl of clam chowder or oyster stew. I like the UNSTUFFY feeling of the counter area, as opposed to the fancy-schmancy dining room seating. Each of these horse-shoe shaped counters holds about 12 people up one side and another 12 down the other. When the restaurant is in full swing, they are always packed and just like you would in any diner, you have to stand around patiently and HOPE to get a seat, or if you're really lucky, two seats together or if you're talking total miracle, three seats together.

I hadn't thought about this when I suggested dinner there on Saturday night with a bunch of bloggers. It was probably a dreadful choice as a venue, but I didn't really care, I just wanted to go there.

When we got there, there was one big problem right away. Out of the 4 counter areas -- 3 were closed. That meant we could only pray to sit in about 24 available seats and guess what, NOT ONE WAS AVAILABLE. Strangely, once we decided not to worry about it, everyone made a trip to the rest rooms and then returned, there were 2 seats available. Even more strangely, suddenly a few more seats opened up, exactly the number we needed and they opened up right next to our other 2 friends who'd snagged seats.

The plot thickens as three more bloggers arrive, I gulp ... and damned if three more seats didn't miraculously open at the far end of the snake chain of bloggers, just in the right place at the right time. Stranger and stranger.

Then one more blogger -- and this one on crutches -- so we really needed a seat, just one. And guess what -- yes, one more opened.

Two guys popped up towards the end of the meal, just as I was leaving and leaving two open seats. It was the most peculiar thing.

Great to see everyone. Thanks for coming down, up, over, across the river, over the border, wherever you hailed from. Sorry I couldn't stay long and late, but let's figure it was just a first meet-and-greet with many more to follow.

Monday Meeting Reschedule

To All Staff: The Monday Morning Editorial Meeting will NOT be at 9:00 today, but is rescheduled for 12:00 Noon EST to accomodate all those far-flung bloggers in Vegas for Comdex and those even further afield.

Kudos to Cory in the NYTimes Sunday Mag yesterday. All I want for Xmas is a roomba, oh yes.

And I did not appreciate hearing from the security guards at Mandalay Bay that three of you were being held for questioning after being chased naked through the lobby wearing a parrot , no wait, ... how did they put it, not a parrot, but "an extremely expensive rare cockatoo." BTW, the cost for letting the parrot escape is $2500, which the three of you can split. Try keeping your cockatoos locked up next time guys.

We have a new editorial assistant joining us as of today. Her name is Candy, now, folks be nice. She used to work at Penthouse and I know she can handle anything you throw at her. She'll be demonstrating how to load the lower paper tray in the new copier, with "the big paper" as you techy geniuses refer to it.

A brief reminder -- the deadlines on the Thanksgiving pieces are THIS FRIDAY, we try to publish these holiday treats BEFORE the actual holiday. I don't want to hear any excuses. I want to see rough drafts by this Thursday. Here's the list I have so far:

Locke: How Martha Stewart Killed Turkey Day
Ito: Remind Me Why I'm Giving Thanks Again
Weinberger: Why My Wife Wanted To Kill Me When I Invited 20,000 Dean Supporters To Dinner A Week Before Thanksgiving
Devine: Thanksgiving Feed: Dining on RSS and Politicoblogs For The Holidays
Doc: Holiday Rug Cleaning Tips

And feel free to stop asking me about my trip to NYC this weekend -- I'll be posting my trip report later today.


Friday, November 14, 2003

Flying High

Talk about windy! The things literally flying by in my backyard are making me laugh out loud. Like big plastic garbage can lids being chased by big plastic garbage cans and tumbling patio furniture being chased by falling leaves -- but wait, if they are falling horizontally at supersonic speed - I guess they are NOT falling leaves -- they seem to be leaves on a mission -- to end up in California or something. They are shooting by. And the noise -- a roaring wind noisy enough to feel as if it could eat us all in one bite. Ferocious!

Dean Event

David Weinberger's hosting a Dean event at his house next Tuesday night if I remember correctly. David, is it still on?

Big Snow Up North

Looks like our cold windy weather in Boston is piles of snow in Killington and Stowe. Terrific.

Gary Turner's Two

Wow! It's Gary's 2-year-old blog birthday. Mine's coming up soon(ish) too. Last year's 1-year-old party at Yenching in Harvard Square seems about 15 years ago.

AKMA And Margaret's Christmas List

Nice to know the priest and his terrific wife are making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who's naughty and nice, all for me. So what can I expect under the tree again -- the book, or an absolute male -- for research purposes only of course.

Hot Babe, Age 60?

Hey Fleshbot, help me out here. That lovely blonde babe on your site named Chloe has a link to a profile that mentions this pussycat was born in 1943. I mean, yes, plastic surgery is miraculous, but surely this is a typo?

I guess whoever said 60 is the new 35 had a point.

Roast That Bird

Hey, check this out. Early Bird, yup. It got me thinking.

I know so many moms who are NOT doing the bird thing this year. And I mean married moms, not divorced moms, but obviously I know a number of those too.

It makes me think about how many women are NOT living their mother's lives.

If my mom had said she wasn't cooking turkey and doing the slave thing in the kitchen at Thanksgiving all of us and especially my dad would have thought she had lost her marbles. Even the notion that all women like to cook or know how to cook seems to be going out the window.

I know a lot of women who are wonderful cooks -- hey, Nell, I was thinking of you. But I know a lot of women who would rather do anything else.

Sometimes I think we're watching the De-Norman-Rockwellification of America.

This is a time of extremes, the Bush administration with it's 1950's conservativism (and 1950's ancient leaders) against a backdrop of very modern non-traditional life.

Happy Holiday Stuff

All the catalogues full of holiday stuff are cramming the mailbox. Some are really lovely I must say, but what do we really need for the holidays? Check your list.

1. People who love us;

2. People to love back;

3. Warm place to live;

4. A little family or friendly fun.

End of list. Some candles are also nice.

Ratcliffe Relo

Mitch's site has relocated to http:// www.ratcliffeblog.com for your reading and listening pleasure. Updating blogroll links is really a pain in the neck, isn't it? It's a road to hell paved with good intentions to be sure. I always expect to get the thing done and find I've forgotten to bother.

So Mitch, thanks for the email to set me straight. BTW, can you post about all your blogs and which are which and which are dead and which are alive ... I'm still confused.

Just got lost reading all your great writing over there. The thing about the WSJ piece on Canadian Healthcare was particularly good.

Like The Weather


-- Natalie Merchant, 10,000 Maniacs

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lips as if I might cry.

Well by the force of will my lungs are filled and so I breathe.
Lately it seems this big bed is where I never leave.
Shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
Quiver in my voice as I cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away."

I hear the sound of a noon bell chime.
Now I`m far behind.
You`ve put in `bout half a day
while here I lie
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my lip as if I might cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?"

Do I need someone here to scold me
or do I need someone who`ll grab and pull me out of this four poster dull torpor pulling downward.
For it is such a long time since my better days.
I say my prayers nightly this will pass away.

The color of the sky is grey as I can see through the blinds.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again
with a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.
A quiver in my voice as I cry,

"What a cold and rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away?"
I shiver, quiver, and try to wake.