Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Is This Normal?

Hannah tossed a couple of questions at me today that I wasn't expecting for at least a couple of years.

"Why are all humans only boys and girls?"

I went with:
"Because you need boys and girls to make more humans."

"But where did the first one come from?"

Is it normal for little kids to think about these things? I know adults who couldn't care less (though there are some who would start wars over this particular issue).

So I told her that scientists believe that we evolved from other organisms and that it took us a long time to get to what we are now.

But I have no idea how to really explain that to an almost five-year old, especially when I'm pretty sure that this almost-five year old is a lot smarter than I am.

She let me off the hook this time, but I'll be ready for the chicken-and-egg question.*

* It was the chicken.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #10

Dammit #1:
I've mentioned before my distaste for the more litigious among us who have made it necessary for lawyers to write ridiculous things such as "Caution! Hot iron can burn eyes" and "Dramatization! Professional driver on a closed course," even when the car in question appears to be underwater. So I shouldn't have been surprised to see this notice on the tag attached to Argus's new bed: "Accessories not included." The "accessories" shown on the tag were a very large cabinet and a dog.

Dammit #2:
Why is it that the politicians who try to legislate "family values" so often seem to get caught with their pants down? And those who rant the loudest against gays and gay marriage seem to have more hidden in their closets than pinstriped suits and stuffed shirts.

Dammit #3:
Two of the top three (announced) candidates from the "party of family values" have three divorces and at least three affairs between them.

Dammit #4:
At the rate we're going, we're going to have the first presidential primary before Christmas.

Dammit #5:
Charlotte peed on Argus's foot. That's not my dammit and it wasn't today, but Argus asked me to pass it on.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Really--We're Just Laughing WITH you . . .

Thanks, K!

Talk About Starting Early . . .

It took 10 years, but Thomas has managed to turn me into a magazine junkie. We now get The Week, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Sunset, Men's Health, Women's Health, Fast Company, Esquire, Ode, Wired, and possibly a few others I can't remember at the moment.

Being a news junkie, one that I really look forward to is The Week, which arrives every Friday morning. But today, when I pulled it from the mailbox, it had a cover wrap announcing "only 137 shopping days left!" and "HOLIDAY GIFT SAVINGS" and "GIVE MORE GIFTS! Spread the joy!"

Now I wouldn't mind spreading the joy, especially to my friend who stops by the day before every election for a basic explanation of every measure and the background of each candidate. I don't mind helping--I like it, in fact--so she always leaves with the explanation (including why some are for and some against each), plus a little annoyance that I refuse to tell her which way to vote on any measure or candidate. But though she is a very intelligent woman, she is also a very busy woman, so I don't know that she has the time for another magazine.

All of this notwithstanding, I didn't need to know, more than a week before Labor Day, that I needed to begin panicking about holiday shopping.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


On why it takes her so long to get out of the car:
"Hannah! Get out of the car!"
"I can't, you have too much crap in here!"

On entering the car after our camping trip:
"Daddy, if I start to feel hungry, feel free to stop at a restaurant. And no garbage, please, okay?"

To Charlotte, mid-temper tantrum:
"You stop that! I was crying first!"

On going to her kindergarten Open House:
"I don't know about this. I'm feeling a little apprehensive . . . "

On siblings:
"I still think we should take Charlotte back. I want to be the only kid in the house. I don't like sharing her toys."

After dropping a toy for the third time:

"What did you say??"

"Hammock. I said hammock."

Kindergarten starts on Monday. I'm going to leave Thursday open for our first parent-teacher conference.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #9

Dammit #1:
Apparently, the Toyota Prius can do over 100mph. How cool would it be to go down the highway with Argus's ears flapping in the wind*? Kinda like an Eddie Izzard sketch. But, alas, it still won't fit a Great Dane. I think I've mentioned this before somewhere . . . And speaking of dogs:

Dammit #2:
Michael Vick.

Dammit #3:
The Bush administration just announced changes to the Children's Health Insurance Program that will make it harder for individual states to cover additional children. They're worried that the program is going to become a substitute for private health insurance. On a completely unrelated related note: In the United States, the poverty level for a family of four is $20, 650.

Dammit #4:
There is an entire cookbook devoted to the almost mind-bending combination of zucchini and chocolate. Together. In the same dish. And to think that I've been tossing all of the lovely zucchini at the end of our summers because I couldn't bear to eat another one and no one else wanted it either.

*Yes, yes. The dog and his head would be inside the car.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

No, no; it's not what you're thinking. I don't eat that much ice cream anymore.

No, my guilty pleasure is Go Fug Yourself, a blog that skewers the sartorial mishaps and wardrobe malfunctions of various celebrities, as well as the occasional "celebrity." Every once in a (great) while, someone will get a "Nicely Played," but the writers are at their best when they're being wicked.

It's not the skewering I like as much as the writing, which is almost always laugh-out-loud funny, and sometimes get-a-tissue-I-can't stop-laughing funny. (Never read it with a mouth full of coffee.) Take as an example this post wherein they imagine a conversation between Harvey Weinstein and a very badly dressed Alicia Keys, whom he has mistaken for Diahann Carroll:

"HARVEY: I haven't been so turned on by an older woman since you were on Dynasty. Those were some serious turbans. Serious SEX turbans. If you hadn't been Blake's half-sister, that could've been hot, I tell ya.

ALICIA: Did you just say "sex turbans"?

HARVEY: You're goddamn right I did. Listen, let's do lunch. Or dinner. Or brunch. Except I don't care for the cantaloupe, so maybe not brunch.

ALICIA: I don't want to be rude, but I'm not...

HARVEY: Honey, I want to be in the Diahann Carroll business. Let's make it happen. You look GREAT for your age, Diahann, although we might want to rethink that spelling. It makes my intestines throb.

ALICIA: How about we spell it "Alicia Keys"? I'm 27, and I'm a singer. Seriously, you have NO idea who I am?

HARVEY: Keys? Never heard of it. But I like the cut of your jib. Not the cut of your dress, though, we'll have to change the whole thing. And the shoes -- you look lost in 1988, like you're a bitch in search of a lily pond."

But you must read the full exchange and see the photo which inspired it. Then bookmark the blog because you won't be able to resist going back.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #8

It's been another busy week, as we're going through our first "back-to-school" season. So this is late. Again. Which leads right to

Dammit #1:
Someone needs to work a little harder to get The Weekly Dammit out earlier in the week. Oh wait, that would be me. So maybe my boss? Ah, same problem.

Dammit #2:
If you know me, you might not think that the news that Karl Rove is leaving the White House would rank as a Dammit. But if you know me, you also know that I don't trust that gerbil, nor do I believe the excuse of he wants to "spend more time with his family." That is the standard Washington excuse and is rarely the whole, or even the partial, truth. My (perhaps overly cynical) guess: He's been sent off to stir up more mischief in his on-going effort to build--and keep--a Republican majority. Since that's worked out so well.

Dammit #3:
We can't impeach Bush for two main reasons: 1) That would leave Cheney in charge, and 2) It seems that, in this era, we can only impeach a president for having consensual sex with another adult, that being the "misdemeanor" part. The high crimes (illegal war, illegal wire-tapping, illegal seizure and detention, violation of the Geneva Conventions, destroying the credibility and career of Colin Powell . . .) don't seem to matter anymore.

Dammit #4:
We still have 522 days before Bush follows Rove on down that road.

Dammit #5:

I think that's enough for one week.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

I use my cell phone for all long distance calls and have noticed a gradual deterioration in Verizon's service. Or perhaps I'm noticing it more now since I call my sister (in Georgia) almost every day. Last week, I twice lost the reception in my own house--in the kitchen by a large window, if you must know.

"Sarah? Can you hear me? Hello?"

That was the moment I realized that the Verizon commercials are not quite what we've been led to believe. Instead of the guy showing us that Verizon's service covers America from coast to coast, he is actually searching the country for a space where he can get a signal.

"Can you hear me now?"

"Only if I stand on the third tile from the door, sixth from the window."


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Boogie Shoes

We went to a wedding in Tahoe City this past weekend, where both girls took advantage of the opportunity to show off their dancing skills:


And Charlotte:

Of course, Charlotte stopped dancing as soon as she noticed that Thomas had the camera. But Hannah? We had to drag her out of there around 10:00. PM. She can't wait for the next wedding, which, apparently, will be Mommy and Daddy. You know, because she wasn't invited to the first one.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


A recent study by researchers at Stanford University found that kids as young as 3 were already being brainwashed by advertising in general, McDonald's in particular.

The kids, preschoolers aged 3-5, were given two "meals" at the same time: identical McDonald's food, with different packaging, one with the familiar McDonald's wrappers, the other with plain wrappers.

The result? Almost 77% of the kids preferred the fries with the McDonald's logo; the hamburgers were pretty much even; the carrots--you heard me, the carrots--split 54-23% in favor of the McD's packaging. (I must admit, I was surprised to see that the Happy Meals(R) now come with carrots.)

As Tom Robinson, the study author, noted, "[the] kids' perception of taste was "physically altered by the branding.'"

Kids' perceptions are also heavily altered by what they learn from their parents, and McDonald's is a fitting example in our house. Hannah once asked why we never went there and I told her that the food was really bad for you. She has translated that for anyone who asks--and some who don't--as "they have nasty food."

Now, we all know that it isn't nasty food; it's soooooooo good, especially when you're, say, 20-ish, staying out until the wee hours, followed by early shift waiting tables. Then it was all about the bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, hash browns and a pot of coffee. (Coffee home-brewed or at the restaurant, because, hey, I have to draw the line somewhere!)

Of course, after the article was published in the Mercury News, someone sent in a letter basically saying that it wasn't the marketing, it was the packaging. "Because presentation is everything, just ask any chef or home cook." Not in my house, but anyway . . .

So our kids are either 1) being trained to prefer high-fat, high-calorie food that is loaded with sodium (carrots excepted), or, 2) they're being trained to prefer the food equivalent of bright, shiny objects, no matter what they taste like.

Methinks that, either way, we're screwed.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Weekly Dammit, #7

After a brief hiatus, The Weekly Dammit is back!

Dammit #1:
The soundtrack to my life for past couple of weeks has been Ariel's song. I must confess, if I ever chance to meet that little mermaid herself, I might be sorely tempted to drown her. Hannah kindly drew a picture for me of a crying Ariel and a very angry Flounder glaring out at me. Just because I mentioned that I can't bear to hear that damn, er, darn, song one more time.

Dammit #2:
Joe Biden sent out an email yesterday to let us know that, not long before the bridge came down in Minneapolis, he had read "a remarkably prescient" passage from his new book, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics. Yes, the passage was about how, in a crisis, people jump in to help one another, but it just seems a little crass to use it in a fund raising email. Silly me. If the Hillary Clinton campaign can use a non-issue like whether or not Hillary was showing cleavage on the floor of the Senate . . .

Dammit #3:
A federal appeals court ruled that insurance companies don't have to pay for water damage resulting from the Hurricane Katrina-induced breach of the New Orleans levees, because "The policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God, such as excessive rainfall, and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches." This will save the insurance companies about $1 billion, but it means that thousands of residents and business will not be able to, or will have a significantly reduced ability to rebuild.

Dammit #4:
More than 10 million Americans suffer from chronic depression. Doesn't make it any easier.

Bonus Dammit:
I knew I should have saved some of the Dammits from The Weekly Dammit, #6.