Friend of mine forwarded us this YouTube video, and we almost spit out our cereal this morning from laughing too hard. All in jest, of course...
Friend of mine forwarded us this YouTube video, and we almost spit out our cereal this morning from laughing too hard. All in jest, of course...
Just got back from a weekend in D.C., filled with the warm 'n fuzzies over the history and grand intentions of our great nation. Honestly, I had thoughts of fleeing recently; first, when faced with my dismaying freelancer health care bill each month and second, having to have the face of an insane, blathering t.v. idiot shoved in my own face everywhere I looked, along with the inanities of imitators and followers, grunting cruel lies, personal slurs and vague threats. (No, not Sarah Palin.)
It's a mark of how hard it is to disagree with the basic premise -- our health care system needs an overhaul -- that folks have to resort to incendiary, ridiculous stunts, instead of any kind of real discourse.
But D.C. reminds you that we have and will endure. Plus, I read the Dalai Lama's latest book, or one of them: The Little Handbook of Inner Peace, which is all about getting rid of your anger by finding compassion for fellow humans. I would try, I vowed, to find some common ground with this rabble, because I'm an idiot every now and then, too.
Then I read about this, and I'm right back in a nasty place of rage and contempt. Why do we cross the line, time and time again? Why are we so uncouth? Why are we always drinking the K*ool Aid? Is it just in this country, and if so, why? I know parlimentarians shout at each other in the U.K., but that's amusing rather than this, which is scary and primitive.
As we lined up for our scheduled tour of the White House last weekend, we were told there was a "delay" due to security reasons, which explained the crowds, guards with oozies and general angst. We are heading for a police state. Is that what you want? Thanks, yammering yokels, for handing this victory to Bin Laden.
The complicit silence of our leaders in all of this is even scarier. They're indirectly responsible, if not overtly getting into the act. Shame on all of you, on all of us. I should be protesting all of this myself, in the street somewhere with a sign, instead of plonking away at the keypad in the safety of my kitchen.
You'd think a place like New York, teeming with actors, gazelle-like models and other beautiful temptations, would be Divorce Central. (Certainly, some speak of it as a den of iniquity; I, on the other hand, just think it's a pretty damn fascinating place in which to live.) But according to the New York Post, "New York state had one of the lowest divorce rates in the nation last year, according to new Census figures. Only New Jersey and North Dakota had rates lower than New York state's 8.4 percent divorce rate in 2008, a number that dropped even lower in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island."
It just goes to show: You can't judge a city by its glossy, shiny, Sex-and-the-City cover.
It was time to update the girls' bathroom from fluffy rugs and pink checks to something a little hipper and more modern. I started with the light, installing a sleek tubular model from one of my favorite lighting designer brands, George Kovacs. (Too bad it's much smaller than the previous light, necessitating a paint job over the remaining white space that will probably take me months to cover.)
Installed a teak shower mat, which won't harbor dust, cat hair or dampness -- and never needs to be machine washed, hoorah. Now for the shower.
As you all know, I try to avoid heavy swathes of material whenever possible, as mold is darned hard to extinguish and those nasty neurotoxin pollutants, PCBs, are most likely to linger in house dust. Plastic might be fun and clean, and give the room an edgier look, but most shower curtains are made with PVCs, or polyvinyl chloride, and ooze phthalates, a nasty chemical that acts like a false hormone in our bodies and has been linked to developmental and reproductive problems.
What to do? Well, as it turns out, there are now eco-friendly plastic shower curtains. They're made from PEVA or EVA, which has no vinyl or chlorine, and is based on polyethylene plastic. It's not biodegradable, but is generally regarded as less harmful to use and to make than PVC.
I chose an Ecoplast brand PEVA curtain in a fun cats pattern, playing off the black-and-white photo prints already hanging in the room, from vitafutura.com. For $28.99 plus $7.98 shipping, it wasn't cheap; though certainly cheaper than nice fabric ones. When the curtain arrived (from Germany, where it's made, via the online retailer in Tampa), it had no odor, unlike PVC models. It is, however, a bit on the thin side, and has no grommets for hanging, which makes me worry that it will rip easily. Time will tell. It was nice and long, though, and completely watertight.
I'll finish the room with a Benjamin Moore Kitchen & Bath low-VOC paint in sunny yellow, in case you were wondering. When I'll get to it, that is.
The Verdict: At the outset, PEVA is a great alternative to PVC shower curtains.
The healthcare debate is coming to a full boil, and intelligent, productive discourse is headed out the window. Wasn't it just 10 months ago when the nation appeared to be celebrating the arrival of change? Plus ca change, and all that, it seems.
In the interests of having a sociological record, I thought I would chronicle a day in the life of one typically busy middle-class working mother, circa these days and located in a major metro area.
6:00 am - Slide out of bed. Only the thought of how quickly I'll be getting a Coffee People Jet Fuel K-Cup propels me.
6:15 am - After rejuvenating few sips, swing into action. Feed cats, who are deviously trying to trip me until I do. Furiously assemble lunch boxes (cheese sticks, water bottles, sliced ham, some crappy crunchy item, don't remember which). Wipe down counters, still filthy after last night's cooking. Lay out raincoats; check backpacks to make sure all items secure and ready for takeoff.
6:45 am - No time to shower. Dampen hair and blow dry for three minutes in attempt to get that "finished look." Results are limp and unconvincing.
7:00 am - Dab on some drugstore makeup. (No time or money to shop for the good stuff.) At least it's supposed to be organic. Throw on uniform: Black pants, sweater and loafers.
7:05 am -- Wake up kids. Kiss, kiss. Brush hair, distribute granola bars, soothe the clingy one, shout last-minute instructions to The Dude (check and sign Reading Log. Look for big trash bags at grocery story, as entire must now enclose their coats and backpacks -- the lice are back. Again.) Write out checks for school lunch tickets; tomorrow's Pizza Day. Lay out money and textbooks for Chinese class later in case I"m not back from the city in time.
7:17 am - Bolt for train to city. Make it.
8:20 am - Squish into standing-room only second train to get to city in time to buy tea before meeting. Somebody has bad breath. At least I didn't waste a hair wash.
8:55 am - Take my place at big conference room table. Check to make sure all buttons are buttoned and that I have appropriate paperwork. I do! Crumpled and stained by morning breakfast yogurt, but I do.
9:15 am - Please, please don't make me present our project list. Oh, I'm not ready for this. I don't even remember what's on it. How unqualified am I?? I simply can't. I won't. I want to sit here, quietly, and take notes, and nod. Oh, please. Oh...whew. Oh, thank you. What a splendid boss you are.
10:00 am - Ready to catch train home to continue the day's work from lovely basement office...but wait! Emergency item needs editing pronto. In the office. But first, another impromptu meeting. To go over that Project List.
11:00 am - Bolt for train home. Make it!
12:45 pm - Home. First, send out flurry of e-mails resulting from morning meeting. Shove down lunch salad. Solid couple of editing hours ensue. Clean stinky litter box somewhere in there.
3:00 pm - Kids return, graciously chauffeured today by The Dude. Riffle through backpacks. Sort school paperwork piles: To Pay, To Do, Ignore, and WTF. Hand out sliced apples and oversee homework, using whiteboard to illustrate intricacies of writing six-digit numbers.
3:30 pm - Cajole kids to sit down finish homework, already.
4:00 pm - Head out with kids to local store to purchase several birthday party gifts. Buy a Perfect Petzzz for some kid,whereby my own kid practically collapses in a fit of longing for one of the damned things.
You have a real pet, I point out. This thing just lays there and pretends to breathe, probably going through a couple batteries a day to go it. No matter; said child will raid her bank account for the animal. What can I say? It's her money. I give up. We buy it. I suck at teaching them about delayed gratification and money management, I really do. I'll worry about that another day.
5:00 pm - Dish out chicken nuggets for dinner. I don't have any veggies left in the fridge. I feel guilty, incredibly guilty, but at least they're the whole-wheat breaded, baked kind. Feed cats. Clean litter box.
5:30 pm - Prepare for magazine launch party, held locally, thank buddha. Bathe, and try to push ragged cuticles back using sharp implements. Planned manicure did not transpire. Luckily, I did find a half-hour yesterday to visit SuperCuts (damp hair trim, no wash, 10 minutes, $14).
In preparation, have purchased dress on e-Bay in an ambitious size (J.Crew silk, black, NWT, $85). Once pried out of its manila envelope and its resulting accordion wrinkles ironed to the best of my ability, dress is incredibly tight and pushes up my bosom practically to my ears. It will have to do. Feel like Scarlett O'Hara as The Dude zips and hooks me in, me gasping for breath. I sure won't be able to eat at the event. Fiddle dee dee!
6:00 pm -- Design business cards, which The Dude helpfully prints using our handy-dandy Home Business Card Printing System. So they're one color and have five words...I'm a minimalist.
6:30 pm - Reapply drugstore makeup, this time with a little five-year-old expensive eyeshadow thrown in.
6:45 pm - Issue last-minute instructions for The Dude: quiz spelling words, ensure kids do enforced daily reading. By the way -- isn't he a great guy? He is.
Another aside: Why do schools force kids to log or otherwise report on their reading? Every day? I can think of no better way to kill a love for reading than to make it homework. Anybody with me here?
6:50 pm - Console clingy child, who is crying because I won't be home to tuck her in. Her hair, wet from the bath, leaves a damp stain on the silk dress. Allow her to apply last-minute face powder (to me). Put lipstick on myself and her, which thrills her no end.
7:00 pm - Pop in car to go to magazine event. Car still stinks of sweat from Dude using it a half-hour ago to return from the gym. Luckily I used my little perfume trick - just a dab in the general vicinity of the upper thigh area. This ensures others will not choke on your perfume, but that you will release a nice smell when your plump thighs rub together under your dress.
7:15 pm - Have panic attack. Dress bodice is way too tight. Barely able to breathe.
7:30 pm - Grab glass of wine like a shipwrecked sailor going for the lifeboat.
7:45 pm - Talky, talky. Dispense homemade business cards. Editors and publisher are all younger than I. I'll be depressed about this later.
8:00 pm -- Wait -- is that one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey over there? By jove, it is! Wow, her lips are really, really plump. It is collagen? Silicone? And what the hell am I doing in the same room as one of the Real Housewives of New Jersey?
8:15 pm - See a woman I know; a former fellow preschool mom (of two) who is also a network news anchor. She looks flawless and calm. I do know, however, that she doesn't have to train it to work. They send a limo for her.
8:30 pm - Finally allow myself to eat an hors d'oeuvres. It tastes like cardboard; salmon salad runs down my chin, and a few bits of flaky pastry fall into my cleavage. It is such a bad idea to eat at these things.
8:45 pm - Bend over in the ladies' to clean out my cleavage, and my jugs pop almost all the way out. Shove them back in frantically. I simply cannot fathom why women would want to buy and surgically implant fake ones. Strap a half-bag of flour to your chest for a day instead, and see how it feels. Still want 'em?
9:00 pm - Time to leave!
9:45 pm -- Safely at home. Ravenously devour big bowl of soup, which watching, glassy-eyed, The Girls Next Door.
10:30 pm - At long last, sleep.
I realize the headline's overselling my tiny post, but it's seriously what I thought after reading this little piece of news from the New York Times' David Pogue (aka big-time tech journalist). It seems At&T has caved into customers' demands to get rid of that anachronistic advice at the tail end of outgoing voicemail messages: “To page this person, press five now.” Apparently, it cuts that pitch down from 12-to-15 seconds to 8.
Writes Pogue: "Wheels are turning at T-Mobile on this issue. Sprint already lets you eliminate the entire recording. Verizon, characteristically, refuses to respond."
It made me wonder, though: How else am I getting gouged?
• those extra charges that seem to pad every utility bill?
• those weighing scales for produce that, if you looked, appear to start at 1/4 pound?
• Metrocards that don't evenly give you a certain number of rides for a whole amount, so that you're left with cards that have extra an extra 25 cents on them when the fare is 10 times that?
The things that make you go, hmm ...
I just finished the weighty Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by the geologist/genius Jared Diamond.
This book should be required reading for every college student and book club out there. It's a brilliantly written and scholarly but digestible look at human society at critical turning points: Diamond examines and puts forth various theories on why flourishing ancient societies like the Maya and Anasazi vanished; and why others hung in there in the face of similar obstacles.
I hate to be a downer on a holiday weekend, but the takeaway is that basically, we're screwed. People keep having kids, way too many of them; agricultural production and other essential supplies inevitably fail to keep up. Very rarely do societies take stock of the natural resources they've got left and act either collectively or top-down to preserve them; the Easter Islanders chopped down their trees, to the very last stick, depriving themselves of fuel and native animals (potential food sources) of their living quarters. Whoops! Ended up dead!
Meanwhile, the elite of any society (and in the world) will fight hard to keep the lion's share of its wealth to themselves, come what may for the little people. (This puts so much into perspective, including our current wacko health care and environmental debacles.) Tribes on the Polynesian island Mangareva fought incessantly over one five-mile stretch of land -- the only cultivatable area left.
Anyway. The plebes, ignorantly, go right along with things until their very survival is threatened. Then we revolt, usually destructively. We'll tear down what we built with our own sweat and blood. But by then, it's usually too late.
Diamond offers a bit of hope as to how we might tackle our current environmental issues: Courageous leadership, long-term planning, the importance of maintaining a global economy, at the least. But the prospects, given our innate stupidity as a race, seem gloomy. We're just gonna consume ourselves to death. While writing this, I noted this Houston Chronicle story about how large fish farming will commence in the Gulf of Mexico, despite huge environmental concerns. Why? There's just no law on the books to stop it.
Take some antacids. Then read this book.