Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last NaBloPoMo Post!

30 days! I did it. Two Novembers in a row I didn't miss a day. Woo hoo!

I will close the month, and the long weekend, out with a haiku or two. We just arrived home and it was a long drive in the snow which became rain south of Albany.

Here I am again
Back in familiar Jersey
And it's cold and wet.

Thanksgiving's over
And so is the long weekend
How quickly it flew.

I can't help but think
Our lives are also like that -
Flying by too fast.

When I was a child
Looking ahead to summer
It seemed like forever.

Now it just flies by
A few months of warm weather
Then winter is here.

(Sorry, think I'm having a little episode of Seasonal Affective Disorder here. Bear with me...)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Meaningless Meme

I'd like to thank Dr. Monkey for this meme, which I thankfully lifted from his blog. It is called the "Meaningless Meme." And, as he said, here are my meaningless answers to it:

1. Five names you go by:
a) Mauigirl
b) Uhuru (when I'm on
c) Mimsie (by my mother)
d) Mrs. DH
e) Idiot - by DH - because he pointed out that I had only listed FOUR names when it said "five names you go by." (Naturally he said that with affection.)

Three things you are wearing right now:

a) An old black shirt
b) Jeans
c) Skechers hiking shoes

3. Two things you want very badly at the moment:

a) To retire!
b) My dinner

Not necessarily in that order.

4. Three people who will probably fill this out:

a) DCup
b) Randal
c) Deb

(Consider yourself tagged, y'all!)

5. Two things you did last night:

a) Ate at an Italian restaurant in Whitehall, NY, called Roma Restaurant. It's been there since 1946! We eat there every time we come up. The staff is very friendly and the food is very good (and coming from a resident of Northern New Jersey, which is the Italian food capital of the east, that's a high compliment).

b) Blogged (what else?)

6. Two things you ate today:

a) Raisin Bran
b) McDonald's Quarter Pounder

7. Two people you last talked to on the phone:

a) My mother
b) DH (he calls me from his cellphone when I'm in the house)

8. Two things you are going to do tomorrow:

a) Drive back to New Jersey
b) Blog (of course - it's the last day of NaBloPoMo!)

9. Two longest car rides:

a) Bloomfield, New Jersey to Lancaster, Ohio to one of DH's cousins' wedding
b) Bloomfield, New Jersey to Nova Scotia (not counting the ferry from Maine to Nova Scotia - we had our car on the ferry, so it counts as part of the drive as far as I'm concerned!)

10. Two of your favorite beverages:

a) Red wine (although I no longer drink alcohol now)
b) Skim milk (yes, I really do like it).

Tomorrow we'll be back home and I'll start paying attention to current events again and go back to work on Monday. But in the meantime it's nice to take it easy. I hope you're all enjoying a relaxing long weekend!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Greetings from the Frozen North

We decided a few weeks ago that it would be nice to spend a couple of nights in the Adirondacks after Thanksgiving since we had a long weekend. We wanted to go check on the progress of the work being done on our cabin, as well as just get away from it all.

But we weren't sure what the weather would be like. After carefully checking the 10-day forecasts for the Lake George area, we decided it was safe to reserve a cottage at Adirondack Country Cabins, which we noticed when we were staying in the area in October. We had checked at that time and ascertained that they were open all winter and they allow one "medium sized" dog.

We invited DH's dad to join us since the cabin has two bedrooms. We took separate cars and arrived at almost the same time. There were traces of snow near the cabins but nothing major.

We had brought some new bamboo shades with us to bring over to our own cabin, so we immediately drove off to leave them there before it got dark. As we drove up the steep hill toward our property, we saw more and more snow along the side of the road and in the woods. By the time we got to the turnoff to our road we realized several inches had fallen in these higher elevations - and our gravel road was covered with it.

Even though other vehicles had apparently flattened out the snow on the road, it was so steep and icy that our car couldn't make it up the hill! We tried getting a running start, but to no avail. So we parked on the main road and walked in. Luckily it is only two-tenths of a mile off the main road to our property, and it wasn't very cold, so we made it with no problem. It's lucky Ed's dad is in such good shape - better than me, I might add.

Part of the new roof has been put on the cabin, the pine floors have been installed inside, and the deck has been finished around the back of the house and a gate added at either end, so Diva will be able to sit out there in the summer without being tied up.

We didn't spend a long time there under the circumstances - it was going to get dark soon and we didn't want to be walking down the icy road in the dark. But DH did take a picture of Diva and me in front of the cabin with his cell phone camera, so I thought I'd share it with you so you can see the snow.

One good thing: This has helped us make a final decision as to what type of car to get next: A Jeep.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Tradition

While I'm sitting here waiting for DH's parents to arrive, I am also waiting for the radio to play "Alice's Restaurant" at noon. It isn't Thanksgiving without it!

In case you miss hearing it on your own radio, here is a link to Arlo Guthrie singing "Alice's Restaurant" at the Guthrie Center in 2005. I guess his performances are copyrighted because there is no embed code provided.

Over at Firedog Lake they posted the scene from the movie which shows Arlo about 40 years younger than he is in this video. It gets better with every year he performs it.

We've gone to see Arlo several times and have seen him perform "Alice" in person. There's nothing like going to one of his concerts - it's not just the music, it's the stories he tells, that make them so memorable.

The most amazing concert we went to was at Carnegie Hall a few years ago for his "Arlo and Friends" Thanksgiving concert. Not only did he perform, but the remaining members of the Weavers, including Pete Seeger, performed, as did Peter, Paul and Mary, Richie Havens, and a plethora of other folk music greats.

If I were making up a new list of things I've done in my life, I'd add "Seeing Arlo Guthrie perform 'Alice's Restaurant' in person" to the list.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Meme for Thanksgiving Eve

I found this meme over at Beyond the Fairway and thought it would be a good post for the night before Thanksgiving.

To participate, just copy and paste in your own blog, and bold or color (mine are in red) all of the things you have done. Happy discoveries!


1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower

6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater

55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar

72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one

94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

While some of these experiences are more positive than others, all of our experiences contribute to our lives in some way. Some experiences are just glorious - others teach us a lesson (for instance, bouncing checks is expensive...or you shouldn't eat warm cole slaw...). But they all make us what we are today.

So, for Thanksgiving, let's give thanks for all of our experiences, as well as for our family and friends. And of course I thank Google Blogger (and the other blogging software programs!) for allowing me to get to know all of you!

Enjoy your turkey (or your vegan or vegetarian meal of choice) tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Sonnet for Paulson

I thought I'd branch out from haiku and attempt a more challenging format: the sonnet. Of course, it will not be the best example of a sonnet. For that you have to go read Shakespeare. But I did follow the required abab, cdcd, efef, gg rhyming theme and the 14 line requirement.

I was watching Rachel Maddow and she pointed out that the amount of money the Fed has already committed to the bailouts of the various financial giants in this crisis is greater than the money spent on the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the race to the Moon, the Savings & Loan Crisis, the Korean War, the entire New Deal, the invasion of Iraq, the Vietnam War, and NASA's entire budget to date - COMBINED. Oh, and yes - that is in inflation-adjusted dollars.

In the meantime, the CEOs of Detroit's carmakers came to Congress asking for a mere pittance in comparison to the rest of this. Admittedly, the car companies have been shortsighted in their planning and were caught in a bind when the gas prices suddenly skyrocketed. But they are not alone when it comes to blame. The government aided and abetted their dependence on trucks and SUVs through their favorable regulatory policies; and consumers bought them. So why don't the Detroit automakers, who employ so many hardworking Americans, who actually MAKE things (unlike the financial wizards who got into such a big mess) get a bailout from Washington?

I'll address this with my sonnet:

When in a panic Citigroup came calling
The Feds ponied up and gave them some cash
When the stock market kept on a-falling
Paulson decreed, "We must do something rash!"
But when it’s the car companies
Who are in dire straits,
Paulson's not in the mood to please;
Instead of doling out the dough, he waits...and waits.
Surely even he doesn’t believe
That the car companies are full of shirkers.
Could it be that it’s his pet peeve
That Detroit cars are built by union workers?
To white collar workers he gives much esteem
While blue collar workers lose the American Dream.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New Kid on the Block

Today was my first day in our company's new location. I arrived bright and early, before nine - which is relatively unheard-of for me - but I wanted to get there and see what it was like.

Our new location is in an office park and there are several nearly identical buildings, all with 2 or 3 different sections labeled with letters. I had been to a neighboring building before for a few meetings, but not to this one.

I figured out which building was ours, looked around, and hastily parked in a free space. There are four ways to get into our building: Two entrances labeled "Atrium D/E" (one North, one South) and two labeled "Atrium E/F." Our floor is in section "E" of the building. I walked to the building and entered at one of the "Atria" - the one labeled D/E.

Once inside, I had to choose which direction to walk so as to end up in the "E" section of the building. Of course it then took me 10 minutes of wandering around until I came upon the right part of the building and found my new office.

All of my boxes made it to the new office and I spent the morning unpacking files and the various detritus that I keep packing and unpacking from one office to another; a group picture of the Marketing Department taken at a 1994 picnic, old photographs, scraps of paper with important phone numbers on them, loose binder clips, a bottle of Purell, hand cream, and various other treasures I can't bear to throw out.

The day passed quickly. There were the usual glitches with files that didn't get transferred to our new computers, and the IT support people were running around all day helping people figure out the new computer systems, but by the end of the day all was well.

I spent the last part of the day updating contact information and moving things around on my computer. Before I knew it, it was pitch black outside and I realized I was one of the last people still there.

I gathered up my belongings and headed out. I tried to go out the same atrium that I came in, although I wasn't sure if I managed it.

Once outside, I looked around but didn't see my car. Everything looked different in the dark and my memory of the location was hazy at best, even if it had still been light out. The symmetry of the building and the parking lot worked against me; everything looked the same in every direction.

I started to get nervous. Unlike our old location, there is no 24-hour security guard station at this building, and once you're outside the building you can't get back in without using passcards that, when several were tested earlier in the day, had not yet been programmed properly and weren't working yet.

I thought to myself, "Well, maybe I came out the wrong atrium. I'll just walk to the next one and see if it turns out to be where I parked." I kept seeing cars that I thought might be mine, but on closer inspection turned out to not even be close. I had my keys in my hand and I kept pressing the "unlock" button hoping that my car would suddenly spring to life with the reassuring "tweet tweet" it makes when it unlocks. But I heard only silence.

No one else was around. The parking lot was deserted except for a few cars here and there. If my car were anywhere around, I would see it.

I kept walking. DH called on my cell phone wondering where I was. I explained the situation but reassured him that I was sure my car was here somewhere. But in the back of my mind I was thinking that at some point I would just have to give up and DH would have to drive all the way to my new location and pick me up and we'd have to drive around looking for my car. Then I started to wonder if maybe it had actually been stolen. Surely I would have seen the car by now?

I walked all around the building - at least twice. I passed the same cars that were so temptingly similar to mine and kept clicking on that unlock button, to no avail.

As I was approaching another atrium for the second time, I noticed it was particularly dark in this area. I realized this must be the atrium where I had originally exited the building, because it was definitely the darkest section of the parking lot.

As I was passing by a parking area surrounded by a hedge, I saw a glimmer of a reflection from a car behind the shrubbery. Out of habit, I clicked the unlock button on my key, not expecting any response. But lo and behold, my car tweeted in reply! Sure enough, there it was. It had been there all along, and I had probably walked right past it in the dark more than once, since it was hidden by the hedge.

Having wasted a good half hour searching for my car, I gratefully got into the car and headed out -- and promptly got lost trying to escape from the parking lot. Finally I managed to find the road leading out of the office park and made it home without further incident.

I think tomorrow I'll leave while it's still light out. It might be safer that way.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday Haiku

My last post inspired several comments about how important it is for us to continue to try to make a difference, and to keep thinking of ways to solve our country's problems. I certainly agree with that, make no mistake! I am just glad that we finally are going to have a competent administration that may actually know what they're doing - and is willing to listen to our ideas, for that matter.

So tonight I thought I'd do some haiku with that theme.

When Bush was in charge
He hired incompetent hacks
And useless cronies

When Katrina hit
New Orleans was in trouble
The Feds did nothing.

Bush gave to the rich
And took away from the poor
No more middle class.

But that's all over;
Barack Obama's in charge
It's a brand new day.

It won't be easy
The stock market is tanking
We're in a hard time.

People are worried
About their jobs and houses
Who can they turn to?

Barack Obama!
A president with brain power
Just what we needed!

His judgment is good,
His hires are all competent
He'll get the job done.

He wants our ideas
You can go to Change-dot-gov
Tell him what you think.

Supreme Court judges
Are another good reason
We all love Barack.

He may appoint three
What a difference that could make
Thank God they held on.

We all now have hope
That things can be different
Obama is here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Don't I have enough problems?

I've noticed a certain tendency in myself lately: Instead of just listening to the news and letting it flow over me, responding with a vaguely depressed thought, such as "Jeez, I wonder what THAT will do to my 401k???" - now I am actually trying to think of solutions to our problems.

I've found myself wondering, "Gee, should they bail out the car companies? What can we do to make them more competitive and not just give them money? Perhaps we can require them to promise not to make any more SUVs. Or maybe we should give them incentives to produce higher gas mileage cars. Or maybe..."

In other words, I'm internalizing the country's problems and trying to solve them as if they're mine to solve. This is not healthy! Let's face it, even if I came up with a great solution and posted it to this blog it isn't going to be noticed. (***Update: Thanks to Liberality and Fran for reminding me that if any of us DO have good ideas they want to suggest to the President-Elect, we should go to and send them to President Obama. I didn't mean to imply that we ordinary citizens can't make a difference.)

So I gave myself a good talking to, and reminded myself that President Obama is in charge. He is picking a team of experts who will be able to figure this out. Even David Brooks thinks he's making good decisions. (If I didn't know better I'd think he was secretly rooting for Obama all along and is relieved that he won.)

"Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists....And yet as much as I want to resent these overeducated Achievatrons (not to mention the incursion of a French-style government dominated by highly trained Enarchs), I find myself tremendously impressed by the Obama transition."

Brooks goes on to say, "Unlike past Democratic administrations, they are not just handing out jobs to the hacks approved by the favored interest groups. They’re thinking holistically — there’s a nice balance of policy wonks, governors and legislators. They’re also thinking strategically."

This is finally what we have needed all along. Some may criticize Obama for picking Washington insiders, but you need insiders to get things done. Jimmy Carter picked outsiders and wasn't able to be effective.

And I love that they are so smart and educated, and actually have relevant experience for their jobs. As Jon Stewart said back in April, "I not only want an elite president, I want one that is embarrassingly superior to me."

Well, thank goodness, we've got one. And he's appointing a whole crew of superior cabinet members to boot.

Maybe we'll actually be in good hands this time - and I can stop worrying about how I personally would solve the problems of the American car companies.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

For Everything There is a Season

Today marks the end of an era for me. It was my last day working at the Big Corporation.

Late last year, the Big Corporation had announced it was selling the division I work for to another company.

But between the legal logistics and the tax implications, it took a long time for the sale to go through. And because our division's functions were so intertwined with the Big Corporation's, the act of separating our businesses was like a brain surgeon trying to remove the intricately entwined tentacles of a brain tumor from a brain. But today the surgery was complete.

Tomorrow is moving day, and starting Monday the whole group of us will be working in another building about 5 miles away, for another company that I'll just call the Rather Big Corporation.

This was the last day that I went to the office I have been working at for nearly 30 years.

When I started working in this location, it was actually for a Somewhat Smaller Corporation. During the 30 years I was there, the company went through several mergers and buyouts, and finally was swallowed up by the Big Corporation. But the whole time, I was still in the same office building, with many of the same people.

I was only 25 when I started working here. It was my first - and only - job at a "real" company. When I graduated from college with my degree in Communications I was still immature for my age, and not very confident. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. After a couple of low-paying jobs at local businesses, I finally realized that if I ever wanted to move out of my parents' house and live on my own that I needed a job that paid more.

The one thing I was really confident about was my typing ability - and when I saw a job listed in the paper for a typist at the Somewhat Smaller Corporation, I applied, and got the job. I became a typist in the company's typing pool.

Yes, back then they had actual typing pools - a whole group of women in one room, typing away. It was like something out of Mad Men. People would come down from Upstairs and drop off handwritten documents to be typed and the supervisors would give them out to us one piece at a time. Each job would come with a time written on it - 30 minutes, 15 minutes, 60 minutes. I prided myself on being able to beat the time estimate.

Back then we didn't have a Xerox machine. If someone had to "cc" six or seven people, we used that special thin paper called onionskin, with carbon paper in between each sheet. It is hard to imagine that it was that primitive back then, but it was.

The "typing pool" was actually called the "Word Processing Center," because there were two - yes, two - word processing machines, which were used for form letters. But gradually all the old electric typewriters and IBM Selectrics were replaced with word processors. And of course the company did get copy machines, and the onionskins and carbon paper went the way of the dinosaurs.

I actually enjoyed this job immensely. I came in each day, was given work, finished the work, and left. There was nothing left on my desk waiting for me the next day, nothing hanging over my head, no guilt that I hadn't finished something.

However, after a few years of this, I did feel it was time to move on. By then I had met DH and he encouraged me to apply for an entry-level market research job that had been posted internally. I'd never had any training in this field but by then had more confidence and figured I could do the job. I got the job, and the rest, as they say, was history.

Thanks to the Big Corporation, I've had an actual career, and I have to say, to paraphrase what Garret Morris used to say about baseball on Saturday Night Live, the Big Corporation has been very, very good to me.

In the nearly 30 years I worked at this company, I made many great friends, learned skills I didn't even know existed - or which didn't exist yet - when I was in college, and let's face it, made a better living than I had ever expected to, based on my first two jobs! I was promoted several times, and had six or seven (I've lost track) immediate bosses. I've seen CEOs, presidents, vice presidents and directors come and go. I bowled on the company bowling league for 14 years. I joined Toastmasters and learned to actually enjoy speaking in public.

Thirty years is a long time. During that time, I met and married DH, we traveled to various countries, bought our house, made new friends, and joined a neighborhood association. I earned a certificate in Historic Preservation at a nearby college, and became a board member on the town historic district review board.

On a sadder note, during this time my grandmother died, DH's grandmothers both died, my father died, and we also lost several friends.

Many of the people I worked with are no longer at the Big Corporation. Some were laid off during the years I worked there, others left of their own accord; some retired, and a few, whose faces haunt me still, died too young.

For awhile after the sale of our division was announced, the enormity of the change did not really affect me. We were still in the same building, after all. Nothing had changed yet. We were busy getting acquainted with the new company and working on the transition.

But today, it was time. All the files were packed and my cubicle was empty. I turned in my badge and my parking tag to the security desk, and walked out for the last time as an employee. On Monday, life will go on at the Big Corporation, but one corner of the building will be empty.

Sure, I may be back sometimes to have lunch with friends. But it won't be the same. An era has ended and it has to be acknowledged. I started working in this building as a young woman of 25, and am leaving as a middle-aged woman of 55. A lot of water has passed under the bridge.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Awards! Killing Two Awards With One Post

Way, way back in September, Christopher very kindly awarded me the Brillante Weblog Award. While my thanks are late, they are highly sincere! Here are the rules of the award:

-Add the logo of the award to your blog
-Link to the blogger who awarded it to you
-Give it to at least 7 other blogs
-Link to those blogs
-Leave a comment for your nominees on their blogs

I happen to recall that many of my fellow bloggers have already received this award. So I'm not going to pass it on to seven other bloggers, as instructed. But I will pass it on to three and hope it isn't a duplicate! And here they are:

- Snave of Various Ecstacies
- Jess of I Was Just Wondering
- Sue J of Nailing Jello to the Wall

All three are brilliant bloggers and I'm honored to pass this award on to them!

And, in the meantime, Ruth of Ruth's Visions and Revisions has honored me with the Superior Scribbler Award! Thanks so much, Ruth!

So I'll use this opportunity to pass this award on to some deserving bloggers whom I don't think have received it yet. If it turns out that they have, well, the more the merrier! Here are the rules for this one:

*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post (above) and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.

Without further ado, here are the five bloggers I am passing this award on to (or should I say, to whom I am passing this award on?):

-Deb of Drivin' 55
-Quaker Dave at The Quaker Agitator
-Kevin over at Comrade Kevin's Chrestomathy
-Libhom at Godless Liberal Homo
-Dave Dubya over at Dave Dubya's Freedom Rants.

I highly recommend all of these blogs - they are all staunch members of the progressive blogosphere and their posts are always thought-provoking!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Cat's Eye View

Baxter here. It's about Time I had the Opportunity to Post again. Of course, I can't complain Too Much. My Female Human is involved in the NaBloPoMo thing and has had to Blog every Day this Month and sometimes she isn't in the Mood to take the time to let Me type. I'm kind of Slow. I'm really better with the Mouse than the Keyboard, after all.

Be that as it May, I am Here Now.

We had some Excitement around here tonight. That Dog kept barking and barking. She was being Very Annoying. Finally my Female Human made her go Outdoors in case she had to Go. It was Very Cold so my Human didn't go outside with the Dog to watch and see what she was doing.

Well, That Dog was out there for awhile and my Human kept hearing her Collar jingle but she wasn't coming back. Finally my Human went Out to see what was the Matter.

Well, it turned out That Dog had managed to tunnel under the chain-link Fence into the Neighbor's Yard. That Neighbor also has a fenced-in Yard or That Dog might have been Long Gone. (Darn, that would have been Great!) The Neighbor also has lots of fellow Felines who are Outdoor Cats. My Human didn't hear any yowls or barking so apparently the Cats made themselves scarce while she was over there.

The thing about That Dog is: she knows how to tunnel Under the Fence to get into the Other Yard - but she can't figure out how to get Back! The Male Human had to go around to the Neighbor's gate and open it and bring home That Dog on her Leash. She was Severely Chastised and has been keeping a Low Profile for the rest of the Evening, much to My Delight. I love when That Dog gets in Trouble.

Moving Today the Senate Democrats let that Lieberman Human stay in charge of his stupid Committee. What's it called? Homeland Security? They should change that Name. Sounds like something out of World War II Nazi Germany. (I watch a lot of the History Channel, that's why I know about it. No, I was NOT alive back in World War II. I am a YOUNG Cat.)

Lieberman gave credit to President-Elect Obama for saving his Hide, since the Obama Human had indicated he did not want to see Lieberman Punished for his Behavior during the Election Campaign. Lieberman said:

"'I know that my colleagues in the Senate Democratic caucus were moved not only [by what]...Sen. [Harry] Reid said about my longtime record, but by the appeal from President-elect Obama himself that the nation unite now to confront our very serious problems,' Lieberman said in the Capitol as those colleagues nodded in agreement behind him."

I know a lot of the Fans of the Obama Human thought that the Senate should have stripped the Lieberman Human of his position as leader of that Committee, or even kicked him off it completely.

But you know what? The Obama Human is crazy like a Fox, as the old saying goes. He now has the Lieberman Human right where he wants him! He owes Obama BIG TIME. So someday, President Obama will ask Sen. Lieberman for a favor. And he will have to grant it.

There's another old saying - "Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer."

And that goes double for this idea of having the Hillary Human be Secretary of State. He gets her out of the Senate where she could be a roadblock to legislation he might support that she might not agree with. And he gets credit from her Supporters that he gave her an important Position. Plus she does have experience and Worldly Knowledge.

He will have to be Careful though. Sometimes these things don't Work Out. For one thing, there's her Husband Bill to worry about. He's always kind of a Loose Cannon. Plus the Obama Human will have to make sure the Hillary Human carries out his own Policies, not hers. Of course, the other Advantage to having her as Secretary of State is - he could Fire her if he didn't like what was going on. He can't Fire her if she's a Senator.

So, as a Cat, that's My Take on things This Week. We will see what Else happens as the Obama Administration starts to take Shape. So far the Obama Human is one Cool Cat. I haven't seen his Fur ruffled one bit yet. It will be Interesting to see what other Appointments he makes in the next few Weeks.

It's been good Talking to You All again. So until next time, have some Catnip, relax and Celebrate some more that this Country is finally going to go in the Right Direction. It might even call for a Bowl of Cream.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Very Own LOLCAT!

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

I was in the mood for experimentation tonight, not deep thoughts. I meandered around the internets and took a bunch of quizzes they have out there (found out I am a libertarian liberal on one and a socialist on another!). Then I got on I Can Has Cheezburger and looked at the LOLCATS for awhile. Then I found I could make my own, which I'd never tried.

So here is Baxter, celebrating Obama's election, by looking to the future and seeing the hope ahead!

He'll be here for a real post shortly. He's getting Annoyed that I haven't invited him to Post lately.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Lazy Sunday Haiku Day

Weekends are for being lazy so I'm skipping the serious stuff. Like DCup, I'm having a non-political morning and doing laundry. Oh, did I say "morning"? Excuse me. It's 1:49 p.m. But since I just finished my third cup of coffee and am still in my sweats, I still count it as morning.

Last night we went down to the Ironbound section of Newark for dinner at a Portuguese restaurant we hadn't been to in awhile. We used to go down there every Saturday without fail back in the 80s and 90s, then somewhat less frequently in the past 8 years.

We even had a waiter we considered "ours." We followed him from one Portuguese restaurant to another when he changed jobs. He eventually stayed at one particular restaurant and we just kept going there.

But our favorite restaurant closed a couple of years ago, and our waiter retired, so we've been searching for a new favorite Portuguese restaurant. So last night we went back to another one that we used to go to occasionally, and realized we had forgotten how much we like the place.

It's called El Pastor (warning: turn sound down if you're at work and click on the link - it has music), and it attracts a lot of local folks with its good food and live music. People actually get dressed up and come here and dance! Lots of salsa music, tangos and various other exotic dance forms that I wouldn't have the least idea how to do. The couples who get out on that dance floor sure do though. It's fun just watching them.

Last night there was also a big birthday celebration for a gentleman who had just turned 94. He was out there on the dance floor all night with women of all ages.

Even though we didn't know a soul there, it was like being part of a big party full of friends we hadn't met yet! We'll definitely be back.

Finishing off with some Sunday Haiku:

The weather is gray
And a cold wind has come up
It is November.

Leaves have all fallen
They lie in heaps on the ground
It is time to rake.

The dog needs walking
The laundry needs laundering
But I sit and blog.

Sunday is lazy
Let's brew a batch of coffee
And just vegetate.

I'll read the paper
And not bother to get dressed
Until I have to.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Real Terrorists

Yes, as cartoonist Walt Kelly famously said, "We have met the enemy and he is us." It isn't those scary "Arabs" or those much-maligned "Islamist terrorists" who are to be feared. It is the home-grown hate groups that exist right here in the United States, who have no connection to these other groups.

What am I referring to? This: Obama Has More Threats Than Other Presidents-Elect.

According to the AP,

"Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before."

According to the article, there have been more threatening writings (both on-line and off) and other activities than have been seen for any other president-elect. Strangely, the Secret Service is cautioning the public not to assume these threats are "due to racism." Hmmmm. So what else is it based on when there are signs in Idaho talking about a "free public hanging," in reference to President-Elect Obama, a rise in racially-motivated graffiti, and worst of all, a rise of +2,000 members in a white-supremacist group the day after the election?

Thankfully, the investigations into the Obama-related threats so far have turned up no truly credible plots. But we must keep a close eye on these groups that threaten the future of our country, and the benighted bigots out there who just can't deal with the idea of a President who is a different race from themselves.

Most people who opposed President-Elect Obama have accepted the outcome of the election and are moving on. They acknowledge that he won and support him. Many even cheered his election as a step forward for America, even if they voted for John McCain.

It is those who refuse to accept this step forward and threaten the new President who are bent on destroying this country. They must be stopped before they do any harm -- they are the real terrorists we have to watch out for.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Meme - The Picture Meme

Thanks go to Deb at Drivin' 55 for inspiring me to do the same meme she did today.

It's the Picture Meme, and the object is to go to your 4th photo file, then to your 4th photo inside that file, and then post it.

Because it is Friday night, and I was just burned out from the week, I was really having trouble coming up with the energy to write anything lucid tonight. Everyone was already talking about President-Elect Obama possibly having asked Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State (which I think could work out very well - in reality, they do have very similar positions on most major issues and after all, her job would be to carry out his policies, not her own, anyway). Sue J had already written about Judith Warner's column in the NY Times talking about the feelings of those whose marriage rights had been ripped away by the passage of Proposition 8, which I thought really brought the human side of this tragedy to the forefront - how it made people feel, how it affects their children.

So that left me with nothing! Then I came upon this meme. So I am hijacking the meme and thereby saving my daily posting record for NaBloPoMo (and yes, I am going to cheat and turn back the clock on the post since it is actually after midnight and it would look as if I posted it tomorrow!).

Without further ado, here is the 4th picture in the 4th picture folder on my computer:

This is a mural in the interior of the beautifully restored Essex County Courthouse in Newark, NJ, which had a grand re-opening ceremony three years ago. DH attended the opening, along with some of our other friends, and took some pictures.

Below are some more of his pictures of the building, which was designed in 1902 by Cass Gilbert, the reknowned architect who designed the Supreme Court and the Woolworth Building, among others.

Sadly, when people think of Newark, New Jersey, they are more apt to think of urban blight rather than beautiful historic buildings. But Newark actually has a number of lovely buildings and some great architecture. It even has a Gothic cathedral, The Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart, that rivals Notre Dame (although of course it's not as old). If Newark were somewhere else, people would be coming for miles just to see this cathedral. Here is a view of it, overlooking Branch Brook Park during cherry blossom season:
Photo source: Jersey JJ

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Haiku Thursday and some lighter fare

Hat tip to Sue J for reminding me that I'd been meaning to post some of the funny key word searches that managed to lead some unfortunate blog readers to my site. (Check hers out, she's got some good ones).

In looking at my recent key word searches, these are the more interesting ones I saw pop up:

-fake diseases
-messiness is a sign of genius
(lots of people are looking for signs that messiness is a sign of genius - I guess we messy people are trying to justify our existence).
-obama boomer (Apparently I'm not the only one who noted that Obama IS a Baby Boomer)
-charmin lint commercial
-blogs on communication differences in males and females

-scary woodpecker poems (Scary woodpecker poems?! I know there's a scary bird poem by Edgar Allen Poe - but it's about ravens...)
-what does armistice mean?
-i fucked my mother-in-law (!!!)
-lebanese restaurant in potsdam
-palin wilderness nixonland
(A scary location)
-obama bush cousin cape cod (Obama has a cousin who's related to Bush and lives on Cape Cod?)
-pot boys democracy lyrics (Are Pot Boys a singing group? I'm so old)
-messiness and the state of mind (there's that messy thing again)
-marry late or never (Not bad advice for many)
-crabtree texas tech blowjob
-use disillusioning in a sentence ("I often find politics disillusioning." How's that?)
-palin maverick hard haiku
-lieberman wildlife chairman palin
-cat's eye, explaining the art
-youtude video barick obama (With spelling like that I don't think they got much from that search)

OK, now what to do with these? I know, I'll write haiku based on some of them!

No fake diseases
Ever really bother me
The real ones do, though.

Never fear you slobs
Messiness is a virtue
And a sign of brains

He may not claim it
But Obama's a Boomer
There is no escape.

Charmin is squishy
Leaves no lint on your hiney
So lovely to squeeze.

I prefer haiku
To scary woodpecker poems;
Maybe a sonnet.

This I ask of you
What does armistice mean?
Peace: lay down your arms.

Unlike Oedipus
I fucked my mother-in-law
So it's all OK.

Shall we meet again
At that Lebanese restaurant
Over in Potsdam?
(yes, the middle line had too many syllables. Too bad.)

It's a fearful day
In the Palin wilderness
Here in Nixonland.

Messiness alone
Does not really indicate
True insanity.

Who really cares if
You marry late or never
It's your life to live.

Under the crabtree
At his college, Texas Tech
Bill had a blowjob.

It isn't that hard
"Palin's not a maverick"
There! It's a haiku.

Looking at my cat
The artfulness of his eyes
They shine green at night.

Thus ends Haiku Thursday.

Tomorrow is another day of NaBloPoMo. We're almost halfway through November...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Proposition 8's Passage Due to Older People

There has been speculation that the large African-American turnout that helped elect Barack Obama may have had something to do with the passage of Proposition 8 in California. I am sorry to say I thought that may have been a factor myself, perhaps due to religious reasons.

However, Nate Silver, creator of, he who forecast Obama's election so accurately, says that this is not the case.

His assessment, based on exit polls, is:

"Certainly, the No on 8 folks might have done a better job of outreach to California's black and Latino communities. But the notion that Prop 8 passed because of the Obama turnout surge is silly. Exit polls suggest that first-time voters -- the vast majority of whom were driven to turn out by Obama (he won 83 percent [!] of their votes) -- voted against Prop 8 by a 62-38 margin. More experienced voters voted for the measure 56-44, however, providing for its passage.

...At the end of the day, Prop 8's passage was more a generational matter than a racial one. If nobody over the age of 65 had voted, Prop 8 would have failed by a point or two.

Silver expects that because it is the older voters who ensured the passage of Proposition 8, that eventually their influence will decline and same-sex marriage will be the law of the land.

"The good news for supporters of marriage equity is that -- and there's no polite way to put this -- the older voters aren't going to be around for all that much longer, and they'll gradually be cycled out and replaced by younger voters who grew up in a more tolerant era. Everyone knew going in that Prop 8 was going to be a photo finish -- California might be just progressive enough and 2008 might be just soon enough for the voters to affirm marriage equity. Or, it might fall just short, which is what happened. But two or four or six or eight years from now, it will get across the finish line."

Let's hope Proposition 8 is reversed a lot sooner than that, however. The lawsuits that have already been filed to invalidate the proposition may do the trick.

In the meantime, Connecticut began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today, a month after the state Supreme Court had ruled that gay couples could marry.

We must work to ensure that everyone has an equal right to marry the person of their choice and make sure that this issue becomes a priority in the Obama administration.

And if anyone missed Keith Olbermann's excellent and moving "Special Comment" on this issue, here it is:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day

World War I, or the Great War, as it was known in that more innocent time before we started numbering our world wars, was supposed to be the "war to end all wars." As we all know, World War II followed so soon afterward that we often forget all about that first war.

Today is celebrated as Veterans' Day to honor all of our veterans, as is appropriate. However, it is important to remember World War I and realize that Veterans' Day is commemorated on November 11 because it was on this date, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, that the Armistice was signed, ending this first, horrific world war.

The Times had an excellent editorial published yesterday, about World War I.

In it they reminded us that the best commemoration for the end of a war is to promote peace.

"What we are likely to have forgotten is the horror the Great War stirred in those who witnessed it. For many, the full horror dawned slowly, as they clung to a comfortable self-insulation. As Vera Brittain wrote in her memoir, “Testament of Youth,” we would “never be at the mercy of Providence if only we understood that we ourselves are Providence.” That is a hard truth to take in. She struggled with the things we still struggle with, especially ridding herself of the feeling that “what was going on outside our homes didn’t matter to us.”

To seek peace, to oppose war, to cherish memory is a way to honor veterans on this day of armistice, this Veterans Day."

In honor of all those who died in the Great War, I'd like to post some of the poetry of World War I:

In Flanders Fields
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Alan Seeger celebrated the heroism of the soldier:


I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air--
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath--
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows 'twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I've a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

But not all World War I poets extolled taking up the "quarrel" with the foe or celebrated heroism. Wilfred Owen, another World War I poet, wrote this poem on the futility of war and the fact that it's always the young who die:

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent maids,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

The language may be poetic or even archaic, but the meaning is as pertinent today as it was 90 years ago when the Great War ended.

To quote a more recent poet, Pete Seeger,

When will they ever learn?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Diva's Turn

Hi everybody! Mommy said it would be OK if I blogged today as she is busy, and Baxter isn't in the mood.

First, if you think this place looks kind of different, you're right, it isn't your imagination! Mommy said that since Obama's election, it is now a new day - so it's time for a new look for the blog! Hope you like it!

Mommy says she is having trouble getting used to the links lists being on the left instead of the right, but I'm sure she'll get used to it. I know how to get used to new things - I'm the queen of adjustment here! Get me to do something for a biscuit, just once, and I'll expect a biscuit every time I do that particular thing!

I don't have a lot to say about the election because we dogs don't think that much. But we're good at being happy about things, and I'm really happy about it! My tail has been wagging since last Tuesday! Baxter will have more to say when he gets his turn to blog, I'm sure.

One reason Mommy wanted me to post today is because she took pictures of me on Halloween and wanted me to share them with you. They put a witch's hat and a funny fluffy thing around my neck. I kept trying to get the fluffy thing off, because it tickled. They finally had to take off my outfit before I destroyed it but at least they got a couple of pictures! Do I look silly? If I do, I don't care, because I'm a dog, and we don't worry about that stuff the way cats do.

As for the political stuff, my biggest interest in what will happen during the next administration is, what kind of dog will President Obama get for his kids? This is a huge decision because it is very meaningful to so many people, and of course to us dogs. Whenever a President picks a First Dog, that breed becomes very popular.

Mr Obama says his daughter is allergic to dogs so that narrows down the choice a bit. But I wonder if this "Golden-Doodle" dog that they're thinking of is really all that hypoallergenic? Sure, Poodles are hypoallergenic, but I don't think Golden Retrievers are.

Heck, we Pit Bulls don't have much fur. I wonder if a Pit Bull would do the trick? I bet they haven't even though of one of MY breed. We are great with kids! Not only that, but picking one of us would be very symbolic. We Pit Bulls have to overcome lots of prejudice and myths about our temperaments in order to get back to being the "all-American dog" we once were considered to be before our reputation got dragged in the dirt. And Mr. Obama has had to overcome prejudice to get into the White House. Why not choose a Pit Bull and help repair our reputation as part of the Change he is making?

Speaking of which, for once there is good news story about a Pit Bull instead of the usual bad stories they always publish. Seems this stray Pit Bull saved a lady and her child from a mugger who threatened them with a knife! The dog might just be lost rather than a stray, but if they can't find the owner, the lady is going to adopt him! I love hearing good stories like that.

Well, whatever dog the Obamas choose I'm sure they are going to be great dog parents and the dog will be a very lucky one! I wish them all the best in their new life!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew

This is the mantra of Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

Today DH and I finally bottled the beer we made 11 months ago. Yes, we are homebrewers - not very frequent homebrewers, but homebrewers nonetheless.

It all started about 16 years ago when I saw an ad in a catalog for a beer-brewing kit. It was nearly Christmas, and when I saw the ad, I realized this was a perfect Christmas present for DH. So I ordered it and sure enough, he loved the idea. I had ordered the kit to make stout, so that was the first beer we made. It turned out well, but needed a lot of aging. I think we still have a couple of bottles of it. They may be ready by now.

We gradually studied up on the craft (incuding buying Charlie's book), learned various tips and techniques, and refined our methods.

Beer brewing involves a number of steps (see here for the basics). The first steps of boiling and fermenting are fun. They involve sterilizing the equipment, boiling the "wort" as they call it, throwing it into a large container, called a carboy (don't ask me why because I don't know), mixing in the yeast, and then letting it ferment.

We learned after the first couple of batches that it turns out better if you transfer the first batch into a second empty carboy and leave the first bunch of yeast that is produced behind. Then the second fermentation can take place over a longer period. In fact, as long as you keep it protected and sanitary, you can leave the beer in there for a long time. A very long time.

And that's what you do. Because bottling it is the worst part. It is the ultimate test of a marriage to bottle beer together. It involves siphoning, filling bottles, putting caps on them by hand with a hand-held cap put-er-on-er, rinsing the bottles off and then putting them away in the basement to age.

The siphoning involves a lot of "Watch out, it's full!" and "Jeez, it's spilling all over the floor!" "Dammit, I told you to STOP! Now look what you've done!" and other less printable comments.

At any rate, we finally procrastinated so long that it was almost a year since our last batch was brewed - a nice India Pale Ale - and we realized now was the time. For one thing, we had ordered a kit to make mead (which is awesome! It uses champagne yeast...) and we couldn't do that until we bottled this ale.

So tonight DH sterilized the bottles and we managed to insert the beer into the bottles without threatening divorce.

Ah, the feeling of satisfaction, of a job well done! Now we can make the mead - and start the whole cycle again.

Back to politics tomorrow. Food for thought: Why have all the GOP campaign people been trashing Sarah Palin? Possibilities: 1) They want to get rid of her because they think she is a detriment to the party; 2) John McCain wants to be able to go back to the Senate and hold his head high after a disastrous campaign and he wants her to take the blame to exonerate him; or 3) She really is as big an idiot as they say she is and they just couldn't contain themselves anymore.

It may be a little of all three.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Speaking of Change...

I think I'm ready to write about something other than politics today. It's Saturday, and I'm still basking in the euphoria of Obama's victory on Tuesday. Let's let things rest for a couple of days.

This actually happened last weekend when the weather was nicer than it is today, and DH was out mowing the lawn and I was indoors on the computer:

The phone rang as I sat at the computer, feverishly looking at every blog and polling website trying to piece together a feeling of certainty about the upcoming election.

"Hello?" I said impatiently.

It was DH, calling on his cell phone from the back yard. He said, "Come look at this caterpillar."

Most people would have said "What? Don't bother me about some stupid caterpillar when I'm busy trying to figure out who's going to win the election!" (Well, that's what you might expect ME to say, anyway, based on my usual reaction to interruptions from DH during a blogging session).

Instead, I said, "OK!" and hung up the phone, running down the stairs.

This is because I had suddenly become nine years old. When I was that age, we had just moved to upstate New York to a more rural area, and I had become fascinated with all of the wildlife in the area, which consisted of many more types of birds than I was familiar with, strange creatures in the back yard (groundhogs), and yes, caterpillars.

There was not a caterpillar that didn't fascinate me. I'd find them on bushes, trees, and shrubs, let them crawl onto my fingers, and I'd bring them home, along with a good supply of leaves, and put them in a jar with airholes in the cover. I'd watch as they spun their cocoons, and then wait while a miracle took place inside their little homespun houses. Then one day, a butterfly (or moth in some cases) would emerge, and I'd bring the open jar outside and let it go free to start the cycle all over again.

Naturally I had a Peterson Guide to Insects, similar to my bird guidebook, to identify the creatures I was finding.

We had a lot of milkweed in our back yard so I was always looking for the Monarch Butterfly larva, which is a colorful striped caterpillar that loves to chow down on milkweed. I did find one once. Another time I found two caterpillars that turned out to be Mourning Cloak Butterflies once they hatched.

Hearing the words, "Come look at this caterpillar" made me immediately start wondering what kind of caterpillar it was. The first one that came to mind was the Wooly Bear, since they are relatively common in this area.

Sure enough, when I found DH, halted in mid-mow so as not to cut up the caterpillar, there crawling obliviously in front of the mower was a nice Wooly Bear with the distinctive three colored bands - black at either end and a rusty brown in the middle.

I put my finger in front of him and he obligingly crawled onto it. Then I picked him up and took him over to the garden at the side of the yard, and tried to get him off my finger. He finally fell into the weeds and grass (luckily we don't weed our garden much!) and rolled tightly into a little ball of fuzz, as Wooly Bears are wont to do when feeling nervous.

Wooly Bears are known for supposedly predicting the severity of the upcoming winter weather. This one had a fairly even distribution of color, with the middle brown band taking up about a third of his length. This probably means a relatively average winter as I found pictures of Wooly Bears with much wider brown bands.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, a long-term study was done at Bear Mountain, New York, to determine if there is any truth in this old wive's tale, and apparently there is a certain amount of accuracy to it, although it certainly wasn't very scientific:

"Between 1948 and 1956, Dr. Curran's average brown-segment counts ranged from 5.3 to 5.6 out of the 13-segment total, meaning that the brown band took up more than a third of the woolly bear's body. As those relatively high numbers suggested, the corresponding winters were milder than average. But Curran was under no scientific illusion: He knew that his data samples were small. Although the experiments popularized and, to some people, legitimized folklore, they were simply an excuse for having fun. Curran, his wife, and their group of friends, who called themselves The Original Society of the Friends of the Woolly Bear, escaped New York each fall for the glorious foliage and the meals at the posh Bear Mountain Inn."

In 1988, the annual Wooly Bear collection was resurrected at Bear Mountain, conducted by the nature museum at Bear Mountain State Park. According to the Almanac,

"This fall, museum director Jack Focht will gather a dozen or so caterpillars, as he has done since 1988, and spread them out on the kitchen table of his "folklore consultant," Clarence Conkling. The two men will count the brown segments, average them, and declare another forecast from Woolly Bear Mountain. 'We're about 80 percent accurate,' he says."

Eighty percent? Pretty good for an old wive's tale!

(Actually, according to Mike Peters at the University of Massachusetts, it is more likely that the width of the bands is reflective of the previous season's weather rather than the upcoming winter's severity. But that's no fun.)

The Almanac is apparently a bit out of date, because the Times Record-Herald up in New York State says that Mr. Focht retired in the 90s and the counts stopped for awhile.

However, the Hudson Highlands Nature Preserve has apparently continued the tradition of collecting the caterpillars as a children's event. The prediction for this winter? Mild!

We'll take it!

(Photo courtesy of Cold Spring School.)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Day # 3 of the New America

Building on yesterday's post, I'd like to share a quotation a friend sent me that I thought was very appropriate:

"Rosa sat, so Martin could walk.
Martin walked, so Obama could run.
Obama ran, so our children could fly."

and now, some haiku - I'm too tired to write much today! But since it's NaBloPoMo, I MUST BLOG.

Palin is fading
And McCain is lying low
Obama takes charge.

"Still-President Bush"
As Jon Stewart likes to say
Keeps a low profile.

Rahm Emanuel
Is appointed chief of staff;

Is this good or bad?

My take on Emanuel? I think he's a savvy politician, he's someone Obama knows well and feels comfortable with, and he knows his way around Washington. Some have been critical of the choice, since it may not seem much like a change from politics as usual.

But make no mistake, Obama won this election not just because of his message of change. He is also a very good politician. And you know what? Sometimes you need to be a good politician to get things accomplished. That's how Lyndon Johnson got the Civil Rights Act passed. And that's why Carter wasn't so good as a President - he wasn't political enough.

I believe in Obama. I think he can balance politics with idealism and get things done in a practical way. He won't please all of the people all of the time but I think he will be a great leader.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The cheers are already dying down and the business of transition has begun. President-Elect Barack Obama (I love the sound of that), being his usual measured and organized self, is already well along in planning his transition team. He will be ready to be president on Day One, as Hillary Clinton liked to say. And even sooner, the way things are going.

But for now, I am not yet ready to give up the jubilation that accompanied his amazing victory and I am still thinking about what it means for us as a country.

In Gail Collins' Op-Ed piece this week in the New York Times she reflected on the euphoria that accompanied Tuesday's election results. She ended her column with the following thoughts about her (and my) generation, the Baby Boomers:

"Finally, on behalf of the baby-boom generation, I would like to hear a little round of applause before we cede the stage to the people who were too young to go to Woodstock and would appreciate not having to listen to the stories about it anymore. It looks as though we will be represented in history by only two presidents, one of whom is George W. Bush. Bummer.

The boomers didn’t win any wars and that business about being self-involved was not entirely unfounded. On the other hand, they made the nation get serious about the idea of everybody being created equal. And now American children are going to grow up unaware that there’s anything novel in an African-American president or a woman running for the White House.

We’ll settle for that."

My first thought was that actually, Obama IS a Baby Boomer. Born in 1961, he's at the tail-end of my generation, since the definition of the Boomer designation is to be born between 1946 and 1964. However, since Obama does not identify with the Baby Boomer generation, and so many members of younger generations claim him as their own, I'll let that go.

But Collins' column made me start thinking about the long road we have traveled to reach this place and time. We sometimes forget that so many things were accomplished by previous generations, and it is because of them that this country was able to put aside the past and elect Barack Obama.

Isaac Newton said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." This applies to the progress this country has made in the last 50 years.

Just a few of our giants - there were so many more - included President Truman, who integrated the armed forces; President Eisenhower, who enforced the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling; Martin Luther King, who inspired a whole generation of young activists to march and work for racial equality; John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy who promoted civil rights; Lyndon Johnson, who followed through and passed the Civil Rights Act; Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid; the folk singers of the 1950's and 1960's (The Weavers; Peter, Paul and Mary; Bob Dylan; Phil Ochs - and many more) who used music to change minds; writers such as James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, John Howard Griffin, and others, who explored the experience of being black in America; and of course, movies and television programs that exposed attitudes and changed perceptions.

In the 1960s we finally had television programs with African-American actors in them in lead roles, such as "I Spy" with Bill Cosby, "Julia," with Diahann Carroll, and Star Trek, which creator Gene Roddenberry ensured would depict an idealistic future where everyone was equal. African-American actress Nichelle Nichols had a lead role as the Communications Officer on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Television continued to play a key role in changing attitudes. When "24" came on the air in November, 2001 with an African-American, Dennis Haysbert, as President David Palmer, I think a lot of people looked at his calm demeanor, his wisdom and integrity and said "I wish THAT guy was President NOW!"

The feminist movement was happening at the same time, breaking down barriers for women as well. Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and others inspired women to continue the work toward equality that had begun back in the late 1800s with the women's suffrage movement. In politics we had Bela Abzug, Shirley Chisolm, Margaret Chase Smith, Geraldine Ferraro. In television, The Mary Tyler Moore Show showcased a single, successful career woman, followed by many other role models.

In 1972, Title IX was passed, making it the law of the land that "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." This changed the face of many educational institutions, especially in the area of sports participation, which helped women gain confidence and leadership abilities.

Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president took women one step closer to true equality. It also revealed that deep-seated sexism is still rampant. However, the next generation will rise above that and Hillary has broken the ice for the next woman presidential candidate - or perhaps she will still be back herself.

There has been progress in gay rights as well. The Stonewall riots really kicked off the modern movement for gay rights, in 1969. Since then, there have been many steps forward for gay rights, and there has been more openness about sexual orientation both in the community and in the media. The culture is finally changing, and many states have domestic partnerships, civil unions, and finally, marriage.

But there seems to be a tendency for there to be a step back taken for every step forward.

When he was campaigning for President in 1992, Bill Clinton promised to allow anyone, no matter their sexual orientation, to serve openly in the military - and then after he was elected he compromised with the infamous "Don't ask, don't tell" policy.

And when the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year and affirmed a right to marry for same-sex couples, the issue was immediately brought to the voters in Tuesday's election, with Proposition 8, which proposed to take that right away through a constitutional amendment.

Sadly, Proposition 8 and several other similar ballot measures in other states passed on Tuesday. In California, two lawsuits have already been filed to challenge the decision. Let's hope they prevail.

We still have a long way to go in terms of equality - for African-Americans, for women, and for the gay/lesbian/transgender community. Bigotry and hate are still out there, and we must be ever-vigilant against them.

But the election of Barack Obama has shown that we as a country can overcome hate, prejudice and bigotry and, as Martin Luther King said, judge others not "by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." And let's add to that, "not by their gender, not by their sexual orientation." Then and only then will this country be a country where everyone truly has a right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But electing Barack Obama has been an important step in the right direction.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Waiting for the Answer

So far so good here in New Jersey. There was a good crowd at the polling place when DH and I went to vote at around 11 a.m. - and a friend of ours who is a challenger said that there were lines early this morning and there had already been more people there than usually vote all day.

I was distributing literature (a legal distance from the polls of course!) at another location, and they had had a huge turnout as well. The people we were approaching were overwhelmingly voting for the Democrats. But of course in New Jersey this isn't surprising.

I'm more concerned about the swing states - and hear there are substantial problems in some of the key locations. Strange how this always happens, isn't it? Maybe not so strange. Well we can't put up with this again! Let's hope enough people voted early and enough people are willing to stand in lines when machines break down, and that no one is denied their right to vote!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Last Day

It's the last day before the election and a strange calm has settled over me. Gone are the butterflies in the stomach and nervous nail-chewing I was succumbing to yesterday. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Obama up +6 pts. and with a continued strong lead in the electoral college. On the other end of the scale, Gallup shows Obama with an +11 pt. lead.

Time has run out. The last speeches are being made today, the last frantic criss-crossings of the battleground states are coming to an end. The pundits have said it all and said it again. Now it's time for the rest of us who have not yet voted, to go to the polls tomorrow and cast our vote. Remember, even if there is voter suppression or fraud, the more of us who go vote for Obama, the harder it will be for the Republicans to pull off another "upset."

The feeling of calm that came over me reminds me of the day my father had open-heart surgery at age 86. I had done all the research I could on his condition, I'd pushed his doctor to procure a noted surgeon whose record I had researched thoroughly. My father was being operated on in a hospital with an excellent record for the type of surgery he was having. When he went into surgery, I wasn't nervous. I knew whatever happened would happen. But I knew I had done what I could do to make sure things went well. He came through the surgery and lived another 6 years.

Similarly, I feel as if Obama has done everything he could to win this. His strategy has been great, his ground game has been organized, enthusiastic and extensive. His budget has been huge and his advertising advantage overpowering. Sure, there was a gaffe here and there, but nothing compared to the kinds of things the McCain team has done during this campaign. I feel that Obama is as poised as a candidate can be to win. Now it's up to the voters, just as it was up to the surgeon and the nurses for my father. And, if you believe in an all-powerful Being, then that too.

Let us go forward into Election Day with all of our fingers and toes crossed and our knuckles knocking on wood!

Go Obama!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Days are crawling by
We await November 4th
Hope fighting with fear

Polls are looking good
But anything can happen
I am still afraid.

Fear of bad weather
The dreaded Bradley effect
Even voter fraud.

Diebold malfunctions
Late "October surprises"
Something might happen.

Trolling the poll sites
Viewing electoral maps
Or Magic 8-Balls.

Not until Tuesday
Will any of it matter
Then the vote is real.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Political Meme

As my first post for the month of November, I thought I would finally complete the Political Meme that Spartacus tagged me with way back in September. This meme was originated by Katie Schwartz and it is a good way to sum up my feelings on the upcoming election on Tuesday. Plus it gave me an easy way to complete my first post for the 30-day marathon of posting that is required for the November NaBloPoMo event! With no further ado, here is the meme and my answers:

1) What is your name (nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing), your age (range), gender, occupation, income bracket (range), how you identify (gay/straight/whatever)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (how many)?

My name is Mauigirl, I'm 55, I'm female, work in market research at a Big Corporation, and our household income puts us in the upper middle class bracket. I'm straight (strongly pro gay-rights), married to my husband DH, and we have no kids, just our dog Diva and our cat, Baxter, whose posts you will often read here.

2) What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?

There are so many, it's hard to know where to begin. One huge issue for me is the Supreme Court. The next president will probably be appointing 2 or 3 new justices to the Court and it is crucial that these justices are not people like Antonin Scalia or the other right-wing appointees. It's not just Roe v. Wade that is at stake, although that too is an important issue for me. It is our entire system of government, the checks and balances, the issues of privacy and civil rights, that are at stake here.

Beyond those key issues, there are also more day-to-day concerns, including the economy. I am tired of the gap growing larger between rich and poor, the CEOs getting their golden parachutes, the stock market being turned into a Las Vegas casino. I want to see the middle class maintained so that we don't turn into a third world country with the well-to-do blocked off from the angry poor by electric fences and vicious dogs roaming their grounds. I want to see children grow up with the right to a good education, proper healthcare and a real ability to pursue happiness. Right now, some have it all, and some have none of it.

I'm tired of this country wasting money on a war that didn't have to be fought, and in fact represents the first time this country has actually invaded another sovereign nation without provocation, as far as I know. I am tired of this country being looked down on by the rest of the world for our actions, which do not live up in any way to the founding fathers' ideals.

3) Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?

Where do I begin? In every way, the two tickets couldn't be more different. John McCain, whom I once respected, has disappointed me deeply by completely going over to the side of the right-wing base in his stances. Suddenly he is right along with them on the racial and class divisiveness that the GOP has been using in the past several elections. I had expected better from him. To have picked Palin is a sign of very poor judgment and I feel she is not only unqualified, but a slap in the face to all women. In addition I am very concerned about her far-right, "Biblical" views about gay rights, abortion, and science.

What I love about Obama is his judgment, his sense of fairness, his philosophy of looking at more than one side of an issue before making his decisions. I think his priorities are right, and he goes about things in a non-divisive way that is a refreshing change. I am not concerned about his "lack of experience." This is a man who reads, who has traveled much in his life, unlike the current president who hadn't been out of North America before being elected president. If there are any pockets of inexperience in Obama's background, he will make it up by choosing good advisers, knowledgeable people who are competent in their fields. Joe Biden is a good example of this type of choice. He is experienced, well-traveled, understands international affairs and never forgot where his roots were. They would be an excellent combination for the next four (and hopefully eight) years.

4) If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?

Simply: Down the tubes! I think we would have more economic distress, more wars, more gaps between rich and poor. I don't think I could stand to even live through it. I'd have to go live in the Adirondacks in hiding, holed up in our cabin with enough canned goods and alcohol to get me through the next four years!

5) Economically, where do you think this country is today and how do you think Obama/Biden can make a positive impact?

We are at a crossroads economically. The stock market doesn't work anymore, it has become a roulette wheel. People are losing their life-savings and are afraid to retire. I read that the sale of in-home safes is through the roof - people don't even trust the banks. The government is deeply in debt due to the bailouts and the Iraq war and it won't go away anytime soon. I fear for the future if we don't elect Obama/Biden. They will be able to have the intelligence and knowledge to make the needed reforms that we need. The GOP would just give us more of the same policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

6) In the past 8-years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what ways?

We have lost many freedoms in the past eight years - we have been illegally monitored by government agencies, the president and vice president have gained unprecedented powers, we have gone from having a budget surplus to a huge budget deficit. My retirement fund has lost over 40% of its value and that is probably the biggest effect I've experienced personally.

7) I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion. Of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all of that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. And what kind of message you think that sends to women?

Palin is the antithesis of everything I believe in. She is "pro-life" at the expense of the lives of the existing women who would be affected if Roe v. Wade were repealed. She is anti-science and anti-knowledge (believes in banning books, believes the earth is only 6000 years old, thinks dinosaurs co-existed with mankind, and is in favor of teaching creationism in schools). And her views on gay rights make McCain look liberal.

She is dangerous in her propensity to attack Obama and liberals in general, riling up her audiences to near-violence. McCain showed extremely poor judgment in choosing her and the message it sends to women is that he believed that just picking a woman VP candidate would get women to vote for him, which is the worst kind of sexism there is. I don't know any women who fell for it, either.

So that's it - I'm not going to tag anyone because I know a very large number of you have already responded to this meme. But if anyone out there hasn't yet been tagged with it, please consider this your tag and go for it!

Three more days till election day. The suspense is killing me.