Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The debates unnerved both candidates. When he was preparing for them during the Democratic primaries, Obama was recorded saying, "I don't consider this to be a good format for me, which makes me more cautious. I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me … answer it.' So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f---ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."
My other son called from Richmond, where he's a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, and he told me that the students there were flooding the streets, singing, yelling, beeping car horns, setting off fireworks, etc. A half hour later he called me to let me know that he was in the middle of an impromptu parade, that they'd shut down six lanes of traffic on Broad Street, and were marching together toward the Capitol. When they got there, the crowd stopped and sang The Star Spangled Banner.
The significance of this celebration, in Richmond, in the state of Virginia, where our nation was founded, in a city that was built on the slave trade and slave labor in the tobacco plantations of the Old Dominion, was almost overwhelming. Nick said, "We've come full circle."
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
"More than 5,600 people, mainly Virginia Tech students, are registered to vote at precinct E1 in Blacksburg of Montgomery County in Virginia. That number is nearly double what the state law allows for polling stations and the lack of an additional polling station is causing substantial delays. In addition, the polling place is 6.5 miles away from campus at a tiny church located off the main road. There is no street sign marking the turn off to the one lane road. There are 30 parking spots for the thousands of voters expected to turn up at precinct E1.
A few months ago in Montgomery County, the registrar of elections issued a statement warning college students that if they registered to vote at school, they could forfeit scholarships, lose health and carinsurance and negatively effect their parents' tax status. The registrar retracted the statement when it was disproved by the Internal Revenue Service, major media outlets, legal and voting rights experts and health insurance companies."
"I learned in just those three hours that this election is not about what we think of as the "big things."
It's not about taxes. I'm pretty sure mine are going to go up no matter who is elected.
It's not about foreign policy. I think we'll figure out a way to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan no matter which party controls the White House, mostly because the people who live there don't want us there anymore.
I don't see either of the candidates as having all the answers.
I've learned that this election is about the heart of America. It's about the young people who are losing hope and the old people who have been forgotten. It's about those who have worked all their lives and never fully realized the promise of America, but see that promise for their grandchildren in Barack Obama. The poor see a chance, when they often have few. I saw hope in the eyes and faces in those doorways. "
I recently got an email from Cox cable telling me that they want me to upgrade my modem. I was good with that because it’s their network, and they know what works best - or at least they should. If they want to replace my original modem for free and it helps streamline their network, why should I complain?
I followed instructions to the letter but it didn’t work. I tried for an hour to make it happen, but because I wasn’t interested in spending another hour on the phone with one of their service people, I emailed them a note saying that if they want me to use the new modem, they will have to send a technician to my house.
I know a lot about computers and networking, but why should I spend my time doing their work?
This is a very common practice among technology companies. They expect users to do their fine tuning. They send a new product to market, software in particular, and wait for comments to come rolling in. They incorporate these fixes and send out patches and updates or even new software.
To thwart this, I always wait a few weeks to upgrade any software or suggested hardware because I know there will be patches or alterations coming along, the result of users bringing problems to the company's attention. I waited the usual several weeks after the modem arrived, didn’t get a follow-up email, and then installed it. My system isn’t fool proof.
From the company’s perspective, it’s free R&D. They get non-employees to do work without pay. I’m tired of this attitude. Get the product right and don’t expect me to troubleshoot it for you. We don’t tolerate this attitude in other consumer products, so why do we tolerate it for computers, software and internet-related services?
(Microsoft wonders why people aren’t flocking to Vista. This is why.)
If I hear from Cox cable, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, I put back my old modem and it works fine. It’s their loss, not mine.
Susan Brophy, Democratic strategist:
I am doing Obama visibility with three friends and here's the report from the corner of George Mason Drive and Leesburg Pike in Arlington: about 35% of the people beeped in support of Obama, from all walks of life, although there seemed to be slighly more support going south; three people gave us the finger and three people gave us thumbs down; Obama seemed to have a lot of support from Fed Ex drivers and people who were driving and talking on their cellphones simultaneously; one Obama supporter threw Snickers at us, which at this time appear not to be tainted. We are changing locations because we have been promoted to door-knockers.
Monday, November 3, 2008
From a recent MTV interview.
Sway: I know people have piercings, tattoos. Eric, in particular, is talking about a ban on sagging pants. Do feel like people should be penalized?
Obama: Here is my attitude: I think people passing a law against people wearing sagging pants is a waste of time. We should be focused on creating jobs, improving our schools, health care, dealing with the war in Iraq, and anybody, any public official, that is worrying about sagging pants probably needs to spend some time focusing on real problems out there. Having said that, brothers should pull up their pants. You are walking by your mother, your grandmother, your underwear is showing. What's wrong with that? Come on. There are some issues that we face, that you don't have to pass a law, but that doesn't mean folks can't have some sense and some respect for other people and, you know, some people might not want to see your underwear — I'm one of them.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
....Hester was a natural, graceful athlete with a passion for fly fishing, scuba diving, paddle tennis, tennis, and golf. She was a self taught guitar player, and the harmony when she sang was pure beauty. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to the charity of your choice. P.S. She would appreciate it if you would vote for Obama.
Friday, October 24, 2008
No one involved in the study has ventured a theory about the cause or causes of the trend. Is it women who are on the younger side of middle-age and are crunched and overwhelmed between kids and work and maybe aging parents? Is it women whose kids are gone and who don’t have enough to do anymore? Is it women who never had kids? Or never married? Are any of those things relevant to the numbers?
The findings of this WHO study were both disturbing and reassuring to me. Disturbing, because it’s shocking to hear that so many women are taking their lives. But in a perverse way, it was also reassuring because maybe it meant I wasn’t alone. Maybe I wasn’t the only woman of my age, 56, who was having a great deal of difficulty figuring out what to do with a life that was stretching out in front of her for probably another 30 years and which looked terribly empty.
Once you’re past menopause, there’s an upside and a downside. On the upside, you’re happy about not having the monthly annoyance, or worrying about birth control, or coping with surging/waning hormones. But the downside is that -- if you married and had kids -- now you’re right up against the fact that a whole phase of your life that had consumed so much of your time and effort and heart – bearing and raising children – is done. Finished. That’s it. And it’s a long time between now and the possibility of grandchildren.
Last week my husband was away with a bunch of his buddies. Every year they go to a beach house in Rehobeth where they, for reasons that are unclear to me, enjoy just setting up their laptops and writing during the day (they’re all writers) and going out to dinner at night. That’s it. (Well, there might be some drinking involved too.) Sometimes they fish. I’ve never heard that they actually catch fish and judging from the pictures I’ve seen of them when they’re up to it, it’s not surprising. But that’s all they do. Write and eat and drink a bit and fish in a lame-ass way.
Usually when he’s gone, I have the week planned out with all kinds of projects – one year I painted the walk-in closet in our bedroom (which isn’t much work at all because it’s no bigger than a regular closet, really), another year it was painting one of the bedrooms. I wear sweatpants and a ratty T-shirt every night, leave the dishes in the sink and the bed unmade, and enjoy watching all the shows on MSNBC from six o’clock on without the husband periodically walking in and asking how I can stand to watch the same people screaming at each other over and over again about the same damn things.
But this year it was different. I wasn’t happy my husband was gone. I wasn’t relishing the time to myself. But on the other hand, I wasn’t missing him either. It was like – meh.
I rented a couple of movies. I watched Rachel Maddow at 9 o’clock and then again at 11 o’clock just in case I missed anything. I moved the living room carpet a couple of inches because where it had been annoyed me. I cleaned the bird’s cage.
But I just couldn’t get motivated to do anything more than that, even though there were lots of things that needed to be done around the house that I could have turned into projects.
So, as I was lying in bed last night, thinking about the week, I realized that there was this big chunk of my life gone that I really missed a lot. And it was my kids. Not who they are now, although I really love who they are now and actually enjoy talking to them and doing stuff with them still. But I missed who they were way back when they were so small they had to climb on top of my feet to reach me. Or when they’d get all worked up over something that only a two-year old would care about. Or when they’d run towards me when I picked them up at pre-K. I just missed those toddler years.
I missed being the center of their lives. And I missed knowing exactly what it was I was supposed to be doing with my life, which was raising two boys so that they knew right from wrong and were capable of kindness and generosity and knew that it was enough to have a roof over your head and food on the dinner plate because if you had that, you were lucky.
If you’ve ever been a mother you will understand it when I say that you will never ever again be so completely and unconditionally loved and needed. And no matter how much you love your husband, or your friends, or your family members, or the people you work with, there is no-one you will ever love that completely and naturally and unconditionally either. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. What else is ever going to be that compelling? Or absorbing or engaging?
So, it’s not surprising to me that other women my age might have a great deal of trouble figuring out what to do with themselves once their kids have left home. What else is going to compare with raising them? Isn’t your life work done? What’s left but marking time?
Maybe I’ve trivializing the numbers from this report and they have nothing to do with whiny, middle-class moms like me missing their kids. Maybe it’s women to whom truly horrible and devastating things have happened, like losing a job, or being left for someone else, or not being able to live with a painful, chronic disease, or just being overwhelmed by having to work so hard just to stay in place.
But I know, for me, it’s just wondering, at 56, what I’m supposed to do with myself now.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Upon arriving at the Hamilton County Board of Elections in Cincinnati to vote early today I happened upon some friends of my mothers - 3 small, elderly Jewish women. They were quite upset as they were being refused admitance to the polling location due to their Obama T-Shirts, hats and buttons. Apparently you cannot wear Obama/McCain gear into polling locations here in Ohio.... They were practically on the verge of tears.
After a minute or two of this a huge man (6'5", 300 lbs easy) wearing a Dale Earnhardt jacket and Bengal's baseball cap left the voting line, came up to us and introduced himself as Mike. He told us he had overheard our conversation and asked if the ladies would like to borrow his jacket to put over their t-shirts so they could go in and vote. The ladies quickly agreed.
As long as I live I will never forget the image of these eighty plus year old Jewish ladies walking into the polling location wearing a huge Dale Earnhardt racing jacket that came over their hands and down to their knees! Mike, patiently waited for each woman to cast her vote, accepted their many thanks and then got back in line (I saved him a place while he was helping out the ladies).
When Mike got back in line I asked him if he was an Obama supporter. He said that he was not, but that he couldn't stand to see those ladies so upset. I thanked him for being a gentleman in a time of bitter partisanship and wished him well.
After I voted I walked out to the street to find my mother's friends surrounding our new friend Mike - they were laughing and having a great time. I joined them and soon learned that Mike had changed his mind in the polling booth and ended up voting for Obama. When I asked him why he changed his mind at the last minute, he explained that while he was waiting for his jacket he got into a conversation with one of the ladies who had explained how the Jewish community, and she, had worked side by side with the black community during the civil rights movements of the 60's, and that this vote was the culmination of those personal and community efforts so many years ago. That this election for her was more than just a vote...but a chance at history.
Mike looked at me and said, "Obama's going to win and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Robert Farris Thompson, an art history professor at Yale University, has spend his academic career tracing the roots of African aesthetic traditions in the art and music of North and South American and Caribbean cultures. Flash of the Spirit, probably Thompson’s best known book, published in 1983, was the first to explore the African concept of coolness. (If you have any kind of interest in American culture, it is a must read. There is no way to understand American music -- blues, jazz, rock and roll -- without understanding that it is as much African as it is American. Maybe even more.)
While I was poking around the Internets, I discovered that Thompson has a new book coming out at the end of the month. Aesthetic of the Cool: Afro-Atlantic Art and Music
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The really nice young lady who came to the house from Fairfax County's Animal Control said that he was a male juvenile black snake. If he were mature, he'd be around 3 feet long and as wide around as a hot dog. I'm glad he was still a teenager.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Here are the cars in his driveway. I'm not sure if they are all his. Someone who lives nearby told me that he has a "group house," and that "hippies" live there with him. I've also been told he's a janitor at a local elementary school. He's a regular at the neighborhood association meetings but I've never known him to speak up.
The thing about my neighborhood is that it's transitioning from one generation to the next. Like a lot of places where the price of real estate has risen far beyond what the original owners could afford now, Salona Village has a fair amount of children of the original owners doing what I call, sheltering in place. The mortgage has been completely paid off by their parents, so it doesn't cost anything for them to live there. They can't afford to move out and live nearby, but they're not making enough money to keep the place up, so it falls into disrepair.
Their are 2 equations that apply in my neighborhood:
Equation Number One:original owners + children elsewhere = teardown, and
Equation Number Two:
original owners + children sheltering in place = suburban blight.
So, we have these absurd real estate conjunctions. Like our hippie, plaid-shirted, group-homey janitor's house, above, next to something like this.
And it's hard to tell which one is more f*cked up.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
You would think that this has no relationship to this story, but it does, because one day, our middle son came home looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary. Or in his case, someone who knew he had come up with a parking maneuver so astounding in its ingenuity and boldness that he would leave Larry breathless, astonished, and totally unable to come up with anything better.
Let me lead you through this triumph of male one-ups-man-ship. It's a trip from our house to the post-office. A normal person would go out to Old Chainbridge Road, take a right onto Elm Street after the light at Old Dominion, and be there in a minute or two. But that's not how you do it when you're competing for King of Parking Lot Maneuvers.
You start out up Kurtz Road -- this is the main road that leads out of our neighborhood. The direction you are heading is completely opposite to the direction of the post office. But no matter.
Once you're in the Salona Village strip mall lot, you drive a little bit, past the Treasure Trove and Green Matter and almost to the McLean Family Restaurant and there is the opening to Chainbridge Road.
Then another left into the post office parking lot. That's Parking Lot Number 5.
Of course, by the time you get there, it's taken you 10 minutes or more, because of speed bumps, waiting for traffic to clear to make all those left turns, and in general, just going much more slowly than you would if you were driving down a regular street.
But damn! It's a 5 Parking Lot Maneuver.
Larry was never able to surpass it.