Sunday, August 26, 2007

That's Amore

Once upon a time, when I was a newlywed it was very hard to get me up in the morning. I was cranky and unsmiling and generally not real fun to be around. But Bobbers had a couple of tricks up his sleeve to get me to face the day with a better outlook. He would put the stereo on really loud with this song playing. (It was long enough ago that he put on a 45 rpm record on the turntable.)

Without fail it would make me laugh, or at least not snap at him. So ultimately it was probably more of a defensive measure for him.

In the decades since, the tables have turned and now Bob is the one who wakes up with a bit of a snarl.

So this post is for him as a pre-emptive strike against the Monday blues, with all my love.

Friday, August 24, 2007

iPhone blogging

Tonight I am convinced my beloved husband is trying to make me insane. He suggested I try to post from the iPhone. This means I have to type the whole thing with my thumbs. I guarantee it will be short. So there you are, my dear. You ask. I deliver. Now I have to go stretch my thumbs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not Sure I Like This

The Red Sox are "America's Team." So says USA Today in describing the multitudes of fans following the team, both at Fenway and on the road. On one hand, I am pleased that our local team is the most popular draw (especially over the MFYs), but on the other hand, it would be nice to keep them to ourselves.

Having said that, if the Sox were just a New England draw, I would never have met my buddies on "Surviving Grady". I can't imagine going through baseball season without them! However, the team's success has turned them into marketing gold. Everything is an opportunity for selling something...from the huge ads plastered all over the walls of Fenway Park, to the new Fenway Racing Team (NASCAR), to the fact that everything that comes out of the announcer's mouths on the game telecast is for sale. You know..."This is the Call to the Bullpen, brought to you by (fill in the blank)"

And you'd think that everyone in New England is required to own one of the following: a Red Sox hat, a T-shirt, or a car magnet, perhaps more popular than "support the troops" magnets in this part of the country. I thought it might be fun sometime to count how many Sox logos I see in a single 24-hour period, but it would be a ridiculously large number.

Perhaps the popularity of sports across the country is partly responsible. I did find that last time I visited my hometown during football season, it was awash in a sea of orange and black.

But whatever the case, let's hope the love of all things Red Sox translates into an excellent result in early November. Apparently the world is waiting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Way We Were

This is my family in 1967. My Mom and Dad, my two older sisters (I'm seated at left), and my brother. For a variety of reasons, it's rare to find pictures of us all together. And, of course, in the olden days, it was more of an occasion to be photographed. This was no exception, as it appears we were at a larger family picnic with my Mom's side of the family. I recently came across this photograph when I was scanning a stack of them to preserve electronically. Ever since, I've been intrigued with it.

During this particular summer, my oldest sister Mary Lou (standing, right) met her future husband, who she married less than three years later. At the opposite end of the spectrum, my brother was only three years old and just beginning his journey. The six of us lived under the same roof for only about five years altogether.

By the mid-1970s, my parents ended up divorcing, but went on to long-term, loving second marriages. If you look closely you'll see clues to their relationship near the end of it. My father is a bit buzzed (notice his right hand trying to hide the beer bottle) and attempting to pull Mom closer to him. While she's smiling, to me her body language is all about keeping him at arm's length. This says everything you need to know about their marriage.

My sister Nancy is seated at right. She was the coolest teenager I ever knew and I wanted nothing more than to be JUST LIKE HER. She had tons of friends, was a great dancer and wore the best clothes on her always-slim body. She was three years older than me but put up with me most of the time, letting me tag along with her and her friends fairly often. Everything I knew about being a teenager I learned from her.

What about me? I'm wearing a favorite outfit that was handmade by my mother. It was sort of a long, cotton tunic, worn with shorts underneath. That summer, Mom made two or three of these for me - all variations on the same theme with different material that I'm sure she let me choose. When was the last time you wore something sewn at home from a pattern? This is one of the few domestic talents Mom had, and at the time she often pulled out the sewing machine to make clothes for us.

If I remember correctly (it IS a long time ago), I received my first kiss that summer from a boy named Rick Holthaus, who sneaked out of his house during the night to visit. Because we didn't have air conditioning, I used to sleep on our screened-in front porch, often falling asleep listening to baseball games on the radio. Lo and behold, one night he came by and we did a little clumsy kissy-facing.

1967. It's very likely that our family car was a 1959 Chevrolet (the one with the giant wings on the back), and we didn't have color TV yet. I do recall we had a hi-fi and stacks of scratchy LPs. It also meant that at least one of my uncles was likely serving in Vietnam. 1967 also is remembered poorly for being one of the long, hot summers of race riots in my hometown of Cincinnati.

Always interesting to go back in time and look at my parents when they were younger than I am today. You always think of them as being so much more mature, having their shit together in ways we never will. In reality, they were just doing their best to hold it together to put a roof over our heads and get along. I give them all the credit in the world - none of us turned out to be jailbirds or prostitutes, so I guess we're doing ok. Right?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Busy Week, Miscellaneous News

Some people get distracted by shiny objects. This week I've been very distracted during my free time with the new iPhone. Between finally getting to know iTunes (the Master Software for Life Itself, I'm convinced), and downloading new music, the days have passed by very quickly.

I've missed such notable events as Karl's "resignation" from the White House. It's about time that the man moved on, after masterminding the collapse of the Chimp's second term. There is literally NOTHING he did that turned out well. Beginning with trying to keep poor Terry Schiavo alive, to attempting to privatize Social Security, to attempting to orchestrate the "marketing" of a war without end, the man has done nothing worthwhile.

In many ways, Rove is just like the New York Yankees. He's living on past glories and a reputation that is no longer relevant. And just like the Sox vanquishing that Evil Empire, we shall soon exile him to Texas (but not to Austin).

Also in the news this week was the Utah mine fiasco. First the collapse of the mine and the death of workers trying to help save them.

But we also find out that the guy in charge of mine safety in the Chimp's Administration wasn't even able to be confirmed by the REPUBLICAN Senate and was given a recess appointment. I know you won't believe it but he was an executive for an energy company, not someone who may have had the interests of miners at the top of his list (even though he was once a miner himself).

In a magical confluence of events, the owner of the collapsed Utah mine is also a Republican crony, who dropped names (like KY Senator Mitch McConnell) in order to get mine inspectors off his back. Who is McConnell married to? Why the Secretary of Labor who oversees mine safety. Hmmmmmm, wonder what they talk about over dinner? It's certainly not how they can improve mine safety.

Cronyism. It's what could kill many of us one day. I may be distracted by the electronic toys in my life, but I'm not completely blind.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conundrum No More

Seems my dear hubby reads this blog.

This year's birthday came with a great surprise attached in the form of a brick-sized black box. guessed it...was an iPhone! I've been spending a good part of this beautiful summer weekend getting to know it and iTunes a great deal better. Made a few mistakes along the way syncing everything up, but I think I'm getting the hang of this newfangled toy.

The usability factor of the iPhone rates high, along with everything that Apple builds. It's so simple I'm always surprised when the first attempt at an action doesn't go as expected. In fact, there were times I was making the action too hard...looking for a button that didn't exist, etc.

For me, the cellphone is the least of it, although I suspect I'll actually use it since it comes along with the other stuff. But, it's also a full-fledged entertainment tool, with the ability to play music, browse photographs (I put all 777 photos from the Ireland trip on it with tons of room to spare!), surf the internet, watch TV and listen to podcasts.

So, I'm hooked (and thankfully it kept me from watching the horror show that is the Boston Red Sox this weekend).

Thanks, Bobbers!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

"No End In Sight"

This movie opens near me on Friday, August 10, at the Kendall Square Theatre in Cambridge. I think I know what we'll be doing this weekend.

From the movie's website, here's the synopsis:

The first film of its kind to chronicle the reasons behind Iraq’s descent into guerilla war, warlord rule, criminality and anarchy, NO END IN SIGHT is a jaw-dropping, insider’s tale of wholesale incompetence, recklessness and venality. Based on over 200 hours of footage, the film provides a candid retelling of the events following the fall of Baghdad in 2003 by high ranking officials such as former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Barbara Bodine (in charge of Baghdad during the Spring of 2003), Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, and General Jay Garner (in charge of the occupation of Iraq through May 2003) as well as Iraqi civilians, American soldiers, and prominent analysts. NO END IN SIGHT examines the manner in which the principal errors of U.S. policy – the use of insufficient troop levels, allowing the looting of Baghdad, the purging of professionals from the Iraqi government, and the disbanding of the Iraqi military – largely created the insurgency and chaos that engulf Iraq today. How did a group of men with little or no military experience, knowledge of the Arab world or personal experience in Iraq come to make such flagrantly debilitating decisions? NO END IN SIGHT dissects the people, issues and facts behind the Bush Administration’s decisions and their consequences on the ground to provide a powerful look into how arrogance and ignorance turned a military victory into a seemingly endless and deepening nightmare of a war.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Democratic Candidates Debate

I'm keeping half an eye on the upcoming presidential election. However, I haven't chosen a candidate, nor have I watched many debates. Last night I happened to catch the debate sponsored by the AFL-CIO. It was actually very riveting because most of the questions were from real working people. An especially poignant question was presented by one gentleman who lost a third of his pension and promised health care for his family when the company he retired from (on a disability) went out of business. If your heart doesn't break when you listen to this, you're less than human.

If we could have more debates with questions/topics like this one, I think more people might pay attention to politics. Of course, I can hear you saying, "The politicians are just full of promises, or don't really answer the questions." Call me Pollyanna, but I think if more people took the trouble to ask these kinds of questions and become participants in the process, we could hold the politicians' feet to the fire and make progress.

Also, contrast the topics the Dems receive with those you the GOoPers cover: how to get rid of immigrants, how to restrict the rights of ordinary (gay) people, how to tell women to manage their own birth control, how to have corporations get richer while workers are tossed aside.

The difference is striking.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Quick One

Attention People of Minnesota! The Chimp did not visit Minneapolis today to help you recover from the bridge collapse. If you wonder why I say this, ask some former citizens of New Orleans who are still awaiting the help of the government.

Oh, you say Minnesota is full of white people?

Well, then. Excuse the interruption.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Le Changement est Bon

Upon first meeting my friend Susan you will be struck immediately by two distinctive features: her extra loud, boisterous guffaw of a laugh and her beautiful, stylish clothes. Look deeper and you'll see she is also smart, perceptive, sarcastic, well-organized, profane and loyal.

Susan and I worked together for about 10 years and I've always believed there is a sort of sisterhood between us. For instance, here are some of our commonalities:
  • We have a mutual disdain for the Bush Administration. In fact, Susan hosted many "Bush Bash" evenings during the dark days of 2003-5 before the rest of the country caught up to our way of thinking.

  • We share an obnoxious (and juvenile) sense of humor. Susan and I once spent nearly an entire meeting with a vendor talking like goats. (One of those "you have to be there" moments for sure.)

  • We have a similar lack of reverence, shall we say, for corporate rules. She speaks her mind too often. I wear the wrong clothes or make bad jokes at inopportune times.
But, in spite of our inadequacies, Susan and I actually did some great work together, and were once given an employee award from our company. And, by the time our shared work experience ended, we could read each other's minds. It was spooky that I could cover for her when I knew she was ready to explode. And, when I was just about to step on a land mine (usually of my own making), she would throw a body block and save me. It got to the point where we would just need a glance or a raised eyebrow and we'd come to each other's rescue.

It's hard to believe that we haven't worked together for nearly a year, and now we are preparing for an even bigger change. Susan and her husband are planning to relocate to North Carolina in the fall. Perhaps the fact that we haven't seen each other every day will make the transition easier. Perhaps the fact that Susan and Daryl will make North Carolina just a wee bit "bluer," will make me not miss them as much. Then again, perhaps pigs will sprout wings and fly.

I know they aren't leaving Boston until October, but I just wanted to say it's been a pleasure to know you both. We're going to miss you terribly. And when you've tired of southern hospitality, you know we'll welcome you home with open arms.

Bon voyage, mes amis!