Friday, March 29, 2013

Delicious Blasphemy

Passover Bag of 10 Plagues
Photo credit: girl_named_fred
My Mom is Catholic and my Dad is Jewish, so that makes for a lot of holidays. And a family that thinks ham is the perfect accompaniment to latkes. And Passover seders where the goyim far outnumber the members of the tribe. Some years, we've had over twenty people at my parents' seder and my Dad was the only Jewish person there. The rest are from my mother's side of the family.

This would have been S's first seder with us, and for some reason this stuck in my mind more than Christmas or Easter or St. Patrick's Day. We have family traditions for all of those as well, but I guess because it would've been her first seder ever, I had been looking forward to it. Maybe because we first starting communicating with her around this time last year. 

It didn't really affect my enjoyment of the ritual this year. She'd been acting out so badly towards the end that it was a relief not to have her there. The sameness is a comfort. We had the same confusion over people have the old and new edition of the haggadah that we've had since my parents upgraded. The same confusion as we hit the center of the book and discovered which people had a copy where the center sheet of paper had fallen off the staple. I got the church giggles like I always do. I door open for Elijah and when the little kids asked me what I was doing, I explained that Elijah is like the Great Pumpkin - we hope he's coming.

When my father's friend from temple sang Dayenu, I reminisced over my Great Aunt Jeanne who used to sing that song. 

In fact, that was the only part of the seder she was interested in. When I was little, we'd go to seders at my Great Aunt Gwenne's house and Gwenne and Jeanne would spend the entire time in the kitchen with the housekeeper, occasionally popping their head out to ask when we'd be finished, as if it was a complete surprise to them that we had all this reading aloud to do before we could eat. Then Jeanne would pop out to sing Dayenu and then go back to watching the chicken get drier. 

My Mom, however, has it down pat. At her first seder in the 70s, she made the shiska mistake of putting noodles in the matzo ball soup. My father's relatives ate everything but the noodles and passed their bowls back without saying a word.

But since then, the best seder meal in town. It pains me to say it, but her matzo ball soup is better than mine. If I find out it's because of bouillon cubes, which I refuse to use on principle, I can't be held responsible for my actions.

One more culture clash story. I went to Catholic school. One day, the principal swept through the school giving out detentions to anyone wearing the wrong color socks (white instead of green) or shoes (tan instead of brown) because that was so much more important than the girls smoking pot in the ladies room. Allegedly. And Spring is the perfect time to hassle kids about the same clothes they've been wearing since September.

The detention was for after school that day. I went to the principal's office to explain to Sister Helen that I couldn't stay because I had to go home and set the table for seder. The office was packed with kids and moms waiting to complain. So I just left. Never got in trouble.

Also? Clearly, I need to head over early and set the seder table next year. Because for the past two years my Dad has set two places at the inside of the corner where the two tables come together. Picture the inside of an L, then imagine pulling out the chairs to sit down and those two chairs would occupy the same space. Apparently, Dad expects us to change the laws of physics to perform a Passover miracle. Fortunately, someone usually can't make it at the last minute, so we don't need every seat. 

But after decades of setting a table for 20+ people (when we only had good silver for 12), I can't abide shoddy workmanship like that. Maybe he set one of those places for Elijah? But then what if Elijah actually showed up? What are we going to do then?

How is your Eastover doing? Share your tales of culture clash in the comments.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Go On Without Me

Go on creating
Photo credit: fotologic
I'm swamped with migraines, Passover and paying work, so here's some other stuff you can read until I can catch up with you.

Riveting story, and be sure not to miss the last section. An adult who was attacked as a child says that no amount of parental warnings would've saved him because he knew his attacker. This is only one case, but our culture of parental paranoia isn't enough to keep our kids safe, so maybe we should chill the fuck out a little.

Here's an excellent tumblr about male entitlement on public transportation. Of course, it's been highjacked by the whole "you should just ask nicely" argument. There was a whole #Iaskednicely thing on Twitter a few days ago that can be summarized thus: when women ask for their rights nicely, they often get yelled at, assaulted, raped, etc. 

Last year, I stuck my head out the window to ask someone in front of my building to stop yelling at the top of his lungs. He and his wife started screaming at me and he started waving around a police badge. I was in no physical danger, but was a nervous wreck for the rest of the day and wondered for days if he was going to show up at my door in an official capacity in response to an "anonymous complaint." 

So it's not OK for you to take up more than one seat until someone asks you to move because they may be afraid to for legitimate reasons. And you're not hung like Jon Hamm, so there's no reason for you to sit with your legs spread wide open anyway. And I'm willing to bet that Jon Hamm is too polite to sit that way, so you have no excuse.

Here's a great story about a visit to Ireland. And yes, I know I still owe you a recap of this year's Corned Beef Fest.

Commentary on the songs from Annie, the 1982 movie. I used to sing along to this with friends when I was around ten. Kudos to our parents for never interrupting us singing "Hard Knock Life" with threats to give us a few hard knocks if we didn't give it a rest already. We sang it a lot, is what I'm saying.

Don't know what we mean by "rape culture," or think we're full of shit when we use that term? This explains it nicely.

Read anything interesting lately? Share links in the comments.

Monday, March 25, 2013

And Then The Walls Started Bleeding

Just in time for Passover. How festive.

The truly miraculous part of all this is that it's not the fault of the guy directly upstairs from me. The last leak in the bathroom was them, well the last 2 leaks come to think of it. But this? Started on the 5th floor.

Four floors above me. From what the building's porter told us, the bathtub on the 5th floor overflowed at 2am, and the water made it all the way down to the lobby. What the hell they were doing that caused their tub to overflow at 2am is anybody's guess. I can only imagine how bad it was on the floors above me - the porter said that people were knocking on his door at 2am when it happened. We slept through it all.

We had more than just bleeding walls, though. There's a little hallway just outside the bathroom and when I turned on the light in the little hall, I heard water trickling and the light didn't go on.

Now, I don't have electrical know how, by any means, but even I knew that wasn't a good thing. So I called the management company to tell them that the light guy needed to come by and replace it. 

(Side note: what is UP with all these closed light fixtures that only take fluorescent bulbs marked "do not used in a closed fixture"? The kind that have four prongs instead of a screw thing, so that is definitely the only kind of lightbulb that will fit in that fixture. Either someone is insane, or is determined to make fluorescent lightbulbs last much less than the promised seven years.)

So the lady at the management company spoke to the owner of the building and he said that the porter was fixing all the damage from The Incident. This was before I'd spoken to the porter, so I had no idea what The Incident could entail. For all I knew the guy upstairs had gone all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on his family and it really was blood trickling down the bathroom walls. Well, except that I heard him talking to the porter at some point--I can hear this guy's cell phone vibrate, but right by the bathroom door, where the heating pipe goes through their floor/my ceiling, I can hear everything. Well, not bathroom noises, but the songs they sing the baby in the bathtub, the guy talking on the phone (while in the bathroom), etc.

Anyway, so the porter stopped by to check out the light fixture. I'm not sure if he has more electrical experience than I do, or less, because he was pretty sure that it would be fine if he just dried it out. When he took the cover off the light fixture, it was full of water and had been for forty hours or so. But yeah, OK, if you want to dry it off and try a new lightbulb, you go right ahead and have fun with that.

I have two uncles who are electricians, so I guess I could've called one of them to see if I should've been poised to dial 911 during all this, but that would've been rude. He dried off the light fixture with a towel, put in a new lightbulb and flicked the light switch.


He unscrewed the fixture from the ceiling and dried it off some more. He blew on the lightbulb connecter thing like it was a Nintendo cartridge. And he tried again.


Then and only then did he declare the light fixture broken and in need of replacement.

Now, I'm all in favor of trying everything before giving up, and it bugs the hell out of me that the entire light fixture is going to be replaced even though the dome and the other non-electrical parts are fine. It's wasteful, but they just don't sell them that way.

But (and my knowledge here is limited) I would think that electricity + water = bad.

Any bets on the next thing that's going to go wrong in my apartment? I swear, if it's locusts, they damn well better eat the roaches.

ETA: I checked with one of my uncles and as long as it wasn't salt water (and therefore corrosive), the light could've worked once it dried out and we replaced the bulb. It might still work now that it's had some more time to dry. But motors + water? That's a disaster. And now we know.

Friday, March 22, 2013

It's Hard Out There For a Techie With Two X Chromosomes

Computer Scrap
Photo credit: Investing in Gold
So the latest sexism in the tech industry kerfuffle has me thinking. Reminiscing, if you will about my days as a techie. If you didn't click that link, the short version is that Adria Richards overheard some guys making lewd jokes about dongles during a talk about programs to increase women's involvement in technology. Since this was in violation of the conference's code of conduct, she tweeted pictures of the offenders, asking the organizers to enforce their own rules. In the fallout, one of these guys has been fired, Richards has received rape and death threats and has been fired herself. 

If you read the comments to that Jezebel article, you'll see people accusing her of eavesdropping. 

Looks like someone skipped sexual harassment training. Because if they'd been in that day, they would've noticed that people are not expected to stick their fingers in their ears and sing "la, la, la," all day to drown out whatever crap you happen to be spewing within earshot. Not creating a hostile workplace means that I'm not allowed to come into the office and regale anyone with tales of my sexual exploits or gynecologist appointments. Because chances are someone doesn't want to hear it. The same goes for keeping your dongle jokes limited to snickers about the word "dongle." 

And not creating a hostile workplace means not treating your female co-workers as sex objects.

Such as:

Once upon a time, I worked for a manager who couldn't look me in the eye for more than three seconds without looking at my chest. While discussing work. In front of other people. As the only woman on the team, I didn't really have anyone I could ask if I was imagining it. Was my necklace that eye-catching? I was young, newly promoted and disinclined to raise a stink. Though I did casually mention in front of his boss that he was having me do his work for him (project plans, etc.).

At that same manager's goodbye lunch, he mentioned how he needed to paint his house (he was relocating and selling the house). Some of the guys half-seriously offered to help. They joked, "A. will go anywhere there's strippers," (There were several men at that company who went to a strip club at lunch). The manager turned to me and asked what I was doing that weekend, implying that I could help out by stripping instead of painting. I shouted, "Excuse you!" and got a big laugh. WTF else was I supposed to do? The guy was leaving.

At a different company, I was felt up during a goodbye hug from a co-worker on our last day. Our corporate overlords were shutting our office down, so I guess he figured he had nothing to lose. I could've made a stink, but I was so shocked that at first I thought it was an accident and I didn't want to embarrass him. Later, I realized that cupping does not happen by accident.

While being introduced to my new co-workers at one company, one guy looked me right in the chest. On the bright side, I was introduced to a lot of people that day, and only one guy did that.

While coming into the office one day, a delivery guy (being escorted by a security guard) turned to me and said, "Nice fucking rack." I was already in the elevator on the way up to my floor before what he said fully registered. My first thought was to have a quick cry in the ladies room and move on. Then I decided that was bullshit. I spent the morning on the phone tracking down who this guy was, what company he worked for and what his boss' email address was. And I let this guy's boss know what had happened and cc'd my company's head of HR, who took it from there. The delivery guy was put on a different route so I'd never have to see him again.

While I was making all those calls, one female co-worker commented that at least he was complimentary. I pointed out that this was an office building, not a bar. I mused to another female co-worker that maybe I'd misheard - the Iraq war was still in full swing then and maybe he'd said "I-fucking-raq". She rolled her eyes, and assured me that I wasn't an idiot and hadn't misheard.

I spent thirteen years working in technology, first as a tech writer, then as a systems analyst. Sometimes it was great, and sometimes it sucked for reasons that have nothing to do with sexism. We can't avoid corporate dysfunction. But we can stop acting like tech companies are He Man Woman Haters Clubs.

It's a computer. It doesn't care if you wear a suit. It doesn't care how well you mingle and schmooze with management. It doesn't care what you look like. It doesn't care if your genitalia is an innie or an outie. It doesn't care if you've been working since the days of punch cards or if you grew up with a silver smartphone in your mouth. It doesn't even care how good you are at World of Warcraft. All it cares about is that you get it right.

Because of this, technology should be the most egalitarian industry there is. And yet...

And dudes? The rest of us stopped snickering over the word "dongle" fifteen years ago. Are you still forwarding emails about the Good Times virus and the frankenchicken too?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Joys of Globalization

Globe Terrestre
Photo credit: BiblioArchives/LibraryArchives
Thanks to the internets, I can do my freelance writing and editing for people all over the world. A lot of writers lament that this means working for third world wages because you're bidding for jobs against people in India and the Philippines who can afford to work for $3 an hour. 

The problem with this line of thinking is that you get what you pay for. I know this because I have edited some things written by third world "English" writers. (I get that "food and swill" means "food and drinks," but I have no clue what "mauve and bear" was supposed to mean. "Wine and beer" maybe, but I'm not going to bet on that one.)

So there's plenty of work cleaning up other people's messes and working for people who have learned not to hire people who don't really speak English that well after all. My years as a techie also come in handy here - I insist on a wage that I can live on. I stayed employed during the dot com crash - you can't scare me into taking a pitiful salary.

My big complaint about globalization is that I'm always running behind. Because no matter when it is, it's already tomorrow in Australia. If I take the weekend off and start work on Monday, it's already Tuesday in Australia! If I get things done on Friday, who cares? It's already Saturday, and they won't get it until Monday, which is Sunday here, but still...

For someone who is perpetually buried under too much to do thanks to the backlog generated by migraines, this does not help my state of mind. I don't have clients nagging me to get a move on already. But it's already tomorrow in Australia, so I'm going to freak out anyway.

It's not like this is a completely new concept for me. In my techie days, I had noon conference calls with colleagues in the UK who were about to knock off for the day. Hell, I worked for Sony and it was always tomorrow in Japan and no one was upset about it. Possibly because my division had nothing to do with the head office in Japan. But still. 

Maybe it's being my own boss that adds to the pressure. Or maybe it's that the bar is set lower now, so I should be hitting it like crazy - writing or editing a blog post takes a LOT less time than designing a software system, and documenting the whole thing in a 1500 page document. Singlehandedly. (Oh yes, I used to be a total badass. As far as systems analysts go.)

Or maybe I'm just getting soft now that there are a lot more gray hairs in my roots than brown. 

I imagine that if I have a nervous breakdown, this is what it will be about. They'll find me running down the street (dressed in glorified pajamas, the freelancer's uniform), grabbing random strangers and telling them that it's tomorrow in Australia and why isn't anyone else more freaked out by this fact.

Seriously, why aren't you more freaked out by this?

What do you love/hate about the global marketplace?

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Unspoken Pact

Won't you be my neighbor?
Photo credit: Design by Zouny
Have you been watching the ABC sitcom The Neighbors? You really should. It's funny in a way that sitcoms haven't been in years. 

It's about The Weavers, a typical American family who buy a house in a gated community entirely populated by shipwrecked aliens who all dress alike (though differently each day) and have named themselves after famous athletes. The Weavers' next door neighbors are Larry Bird, his wife Jackie Joyner-Kersee and their sons, Reggie Jackson and Dick Butkis. They had me at the premise, and thank the comedy gods that it's for realsies funny and not hacky like Hot in Cleveland (seriously, why do I keep watching that show? Is Betty White really worth the bad writing?).

But I come not to praise The Neighbors (though, seriously, please watch it, so it doesn't get cancelled like Ben and Kate, which totally broke my little heart), but to discuss last week's episode (Sing Like a Larry Bird the ep. will start playing automatically when you click that). 

You see, I was always really glad that The Kid refused to watch The Neighbors with us because of Amber Weaver, the hostile teenage girl. The Kid didn't need any encouragement or new bad behaviors to model. This week, she staged a complete rebellion, refusing to be grounded, and encouraging her younger siblings to stop listening to the parents. 

Yeah, I lived that, although without the mini-revolutionaries gorging on ice cream. Clearly, I've recovered quite a bit because I was able to find the episode funny, but oh dear god, did I feel for the parents. They wisely decided to wait it out rather than play the "we're bigger than you" card, even though they could've easily tucked the little kids under their arms and carried them off to their rooms. In the end, they talked it out with the teenager (who was protesting an unreasonable parental decision) and talked down the little kids by explaining the unspoken pact.

The unspoken pact? To paraphrase, the kids obey and in return they get Christmas, birthdays, homework help, food, mommy's comfort and all the other good stuff like that.

Had I tried that on The Kid (or any trauma kid), the response I would've gotten would been something along the lines of "you're legally required to feed me and fuck that other stuff because I don't really trust or expect it anyway."

Good times.

Not sure where I'm going with this. Mostly just to talk about a moment when I actually had a moment of recognition. Wow, my life is reflected on this show.

It also illustrates what that study was saying a couple of weeks ago about how damaging it can be to let kids watch shows that are even a little above their age range. Imagine showing "Sing Like a Larry Bird" to a kid who has enough attention span to watch the offspring revolution and start emulating it, but not enough attention to watch how it ends. You'd be too busy talking the kid down off the chandelier to even watch the bit about the unspoken pact yourself, let alone use it on your own kid.

A plea for help: I recently installed IntenseDebate comments on this here blog.  But Blogger keeps going back to the old, default Blogger comment system. On Friday, I published a post, checked it immediately, and it was displaying the IntenseDebate comment system. Then an hour or so later, when someone left a comment, it was through the old, default system. If anyone has any idea what's going on and how to fix it, I'd appreciate advice.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Open Letter to People Who Need to Fuck Off

To the woman who went into the handicapped stall in the ladies room:
Seriously? You see a fat woman wearing a coat carrying two bags entering the ladies room right behind you and you still take the biggest stall? Even though you work in the building and are carrying nothing and are a skinny little thing? And you have to know from experience that there really wasn't enough room in the other stalls for all my stuff. Why? So you wouldn't have to suffer me and all my stuff walking past you?

Someday you will need to use the handicapped stall because you have a large suitcase, or maybe a couple of kids, or maybe even a not-too-visible handicap that makes using the higher toilet necessary. And when that time comes, some mere slip of a girl will jump in ahead of you, forcing you to wait or use a different stall. It's the circle of life, but with inconsiderate, unthinking people. The Circle of Jerks, without all the wanking.

To whoever designed the bathrooms in the building where the above happened:
Seriously, fellas and/or ladies? You have three stalls in there: one handicapped, one a little smaller than standard and one so narrow that I'm wondering if you designed it for people from a two-dimensional universe who are therefore flat. You couldn't have gone with two comfortably-sized stalls because why? Or made the sink area smaller? Or put a freaking coat hook anyplace in the entire bathroom besides inside the handicapped stall? You should have to mock these things up life-seized in cardboard and move around in the space before you sign off on building such a lousy design.

To the woman who got annoyed in Barnes & Noble that the sales clerk kept getting in the way of you surreptitiously taking pix of books so you could request them from the library, i.e. ME:
Dude, seriously? That whole shelving books thing is his job and you were not there to buy anything. I know how broke you are, but that's not going to keep Barnes & Noble in business, now is it? Chill the fuck out, me. And yes, he was moving so quickly that if you had been there to buy something, he would've jangled your nerves so badly that you would've had to leave empty-handed anyway. But you used to rush around like a crazy person in your 20s, annoying the hell out of everyone around you, even people your own age, so karma.

To the people responsible for the existence of whipped, spreadable cottage cheese:
(Note: if you are one of the people who eats spreadable cottage cheese, please don't fuck off, and instead explain the appeal and what you spread it on in the comments.)
Ew. Just, ew. Why would you think I, or anyone, needed such a product? This seems like something you'd dream up while hung over and out of cream cheese, but not cottage cheese for some reason. Why are you taking up valuable shelf space from other, more appealing, types of cottage cheese? Because you know what happens? Everyone buys all the normal cottage cheese, leaving this weird whipped stuff so if I need cottage cheese and that's all that's left, I have to buy it. And eat it. With a spoon  - you cannot make me spread cottage cheese on things. I am a New Yorker, goddamit. Do not fuck with me.

Anyone you want to tell off? Share in the comments.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dollar Store Haul

There's a dollar store around the corner from my apartment. I try not to go in there too often because dollar store = cheap crap that's going to break soon after being shipped to the US at great environmental expense. But you know how it is, sometimes you need toilet paper and can't possibly drag yourself two whole blocks to the drug store. Or you need refills for your mechanical pencil and there are no conveniently located office supply stores, so you decide to see if they have any. 

You're me in this scenario, of course. In real life you may shop in dollar stores all the time, and all power to you.

To my amazement, they had mechanical pencil refills in fine, medium and bold - for all your mechanical pencil needs. They were so easy to find that I couldn't just pay and go home. So I decided to look around and see what wonders the dollar store had in store for me.

My haul:

All the writing on this package is in a language I don't read. Except for the words "Eco Wrap" and "Made in China," which doesn't guarantee that the packaging is labeled in Chinese. Could be Korean, maybe? 

Anyway, going from the pictures, instead of messing with plastic wrap, we can use this thing to top bowls and cups, creating an airtight seal by pressing down in the center. Whoopie!

Hell, the thrill of figuring out what it does without being able to read the label is worth a buck.

I also bought this jaunty little hat, also featured in the self portrait above. I actually stood there for several minutes dithering over whether to buy this awesome little children's hairclip that I absolutely had to own, but did I really? 

For $1, I'm certain to get more wears per dollar out of the thing than the fancy fascinators I've bought myself over the years, so let's just congratulate me for not buying one in every color, OK?

I'm also considering starting a series of self portraits featuring accessories purchased at the dollar store. I did notice they had giant novelty sunglasses. (Are we seeing the other reason I don't go into the dollar store that often? Kid in a freaking candy store.)

Lastly, I found colorful mini clothes pins. Paperclips are for suckers! I haven't opened the bag yet, but these are totally going to be useful, I tell you. Ooh, I just thought of a way they can come in handy with my knitting projects too. So, totally useful purchase and not something that will sit unopened for the next six months. For realsies.

What's your best dollar store haul?

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Monday, March 11, 2013

I Hope Facebook's New Design Includes Flying Buttresses

Photo credit: stoneysteiner
The second Facebook announced that they're launching a redesigned Newsfeed, people started complaining about the change. Considering how much everyone hated the last redesign, you'd think they'd be looking forward to a new version, but no.

Me? My first thought was to hope that the new design would keep Facebook from being crushed by the weight of all the sanctimony I keep finding in my newsfeed. I have several hundred Facebook friends, including many "game neighbors" (people I've friended because we both play games that require players to send each other virtual building materials, or whatever, to play). I actually keep my neighbors' updates displayed in my newsfeed until they post something I really can't stand since they may post something game-related, and it's nice to meet people, especially when I don't have to leave my house to do it.

Come to think of it, most of the annoying stuff in my FB newsfeed comes from people I know i real life. Because I'm less inclined to just unfriend them or hide them. (And I did unfriend a game neighbor (a woman, even) for repeating the Rush Limbaugh bullshit about Sandra Fluke and how you can get birth control at Walmart for $10, so we should all STFU about how much it costs.) I engaged in some conversation with that dolt, but ultimately, there are more game neighbors where she came from.

Anyhoodle, so here's what I tend to find in my newsfeed:

  • Thanks and praise to Jesus. This is usually from people I went to Catholic school with. Where I decided that a parochial school education means that I've already gotten in a lifetime's worth of religion, so I can be done, their results varied.
  • Reposting of some stupid hoax. I, or someone else will post a link to snopes in the comments.
  • Status updates wondering why people don't just fucking check snopes *before* sharing something they read on their wall.
  • Smug declarations by vegetarians or vegans stating that theirs is the *only* justifiable diet. So far I've been able to refrain from sharing long, boring explanations of how my whole migraine situation makes either one of those diets impossible for me, even though for some people they cure migraines. Everyone's body is different, so...
  • Photographs of bacon, and other meat-heavy dishes. This once prompted my meat-loving brother to post a status update reminding everyone of how bad factory farms treat that bacon while it's still a pig, so enough with the bacon in everything trend, OK? When someone who lives in Texas says enough with all the meat already, you know things have gone too far.
  • Statements by radical feminists. Quite a bit of it is too complicated to understand at first reading before I've had my morning caffeine, but later in the day, I'm all over it.
  • Guys I know in real life referring to staying home with their kids while their wife is out as "babysitting." Sometimes, I point out as politely as possible that dude, it's not babysitting if its your own kids. Other times, I get sanctimonious myself. Other times I say nothing because I just don't have the time to get into a whole thing. Most people have a loooooong way to go to catch up with the radical feminists. It's like the rad fems are leading the herd and I'm trying to nudge a few more people in their general direction like a sheepdog. A feminist sheepdog.
  • Statements that support a political stance, but don't quite get it right. This includes "Real women have curves", because thin women are real too, and the body acceptance movement is about freedom of being judged based on our fuckability, not changing the definition of who's fuckable. This also includes an anti-abortion rights message (posted by a woman) displaying what has got to be a six- or seven-month old fetus complete with fingers and toes, and saying that it's a three-month old embryo.
  • Posts from fans about how someone or something is about to ruin, yes ruin their favorite franchise. Love the passion, hate how I can't watch anything anymore without thinking about how one of my friends would hate it. You'd really think that fifty years of Doctor Who and James Bond would've turned all my fan friends into zen masters by now - if you don't like something about it now, just wait a few years and it'll change. But no. Equanimity and fandom do not go together.
  • Pictures of abused animals shared by people who are against animal abuse.
  • Photos of corpses. This has included faked pix of Bin Laden's dead body, official photos of Ghandi laid out for his funeral, pictures of a hanging in Iran (posted by a group opposing capital punishment in Iran) and snaps from an open casket funeral, shared to illustrate how gun violence is killing our children. Because showing me dead bodies while I'm eating breakfast is totally the way to get on my good side.
Seriously, between all that and the dopey jokes, cat videos and people freaking out over local weather, I barely get to see what people are actually up to. I know that Facebook has been trying to sort through all the info for us so that we're not overwhelmed, but I fear that the result has been that we're left viewing a lot of sanctimonious nonsense simply because it gets shared and commented on a lot.

What do you see in your Facebook newsfeed that you could live without?

Friday, March 8, 2013

C is For Cookie, Baby

So I went a little crazy in the cookie aisle the other day. They had me at "Limited Edition" and "2 for $8" because sometimes those marketing tactics just work on me, OK? With all the bitchy posts around here, I think it's clear that I could use a fucking cookie. Or ten.

BTW, does it even need to be said that this is not a compensated post? No one is paying me to talk about Oreos to my tens of readers. And let's face it, if anyone made the offer, I'd probably be all "fuck you and your high-fructose corn syrup." But send me out to the drug store with instructions to pick up something sweet while I'm out, and then show me cookies with more cream filling than they even have in double stuffs and I'm your bitch.

Yeah, I'm a big ol' hypocrite, but I made quadruple stuffs. Except that these have more filling than double stuff, so I made quintuple stuffs, sextuple stuffs, maybe? I'm only willing to go so far to quantify my snack foods. Though I will say that chocolate-covered oreos are too chocolately. I don't think I've ever eaten one, but I'm still agin' 'em. Some things are just wrong. But cream filling, I have yet to discover an amount that is too much.

First you take them apart...

Then you make a super giant cookie!!!! Laughing a mad scientist laugh is totally optional, but does enhance the experience.

Reader, it was goooooood.

They also have this Neapolitan Oreo. The Big Mac of Oreos, if you will. Unsurprisingly, it tastes weird. And it does taste different depending on whether you eat it with the chocolate on top or on the bottom. 

Blogger pro tip: If you can't find any uncluttered surfaces in your home (OK, who are we kidding, WHEN you can't find any uncluttered surfaces in your home), place objects on your couch to be photographed, or simply crop the photo so close that no one can see all the vitamin bottles sitting right next to the plate of food. Just to randomly pick an example out of the air. Also use your cell phone, because blurry photos hide A LOT. I can't believe it took me so long to figure that out.

Share your current favorite cookie and blogger pro tips in the comments. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chaos Demon

PriMaL Goddess KRING
Photo credit: shannonkringen
In my pre-parental days, I liked to say that having a kid was like bringing home a chaos demon. Nothing ever goes as planned, and takes ten times a long as it used to. Plus, they're all slime and antlers. (Buffy reference, for those of you who didn't get it.)

This pretty much is how things shook out with The Kid. 

In one of Douglas Adams' books (I seem to remember it being one of the Dirk Gently Books, but HA says it was the fourth Hitchhiker's Guide book - I think HA may be right--Karl please rule in the comments), there is an incidental character who is a truck driver and a rain god. The truck driver doesn't know he's a rain god. He only knows that he hates the rain because he's never had a day without it because the clouds follow him everywhere lovingly pouring rain on him.

I'm starting to wonder if The Kid is some sort of deity of Things Going Wrong. I mean, obviously, the system really let her down long before she ever came to us. But then I took her to a therapist who kept insisting that she was acting like a typical teenager (um, no) and would split the 45 minute weekly session between talking to me and to The Kid (separately). So The Kid got 20 minutes of therapy a week.

Plus, she never got all the services she was supposed to because her coordinator failed to coordinate. And let us not forget the ridiculousness that was enrolling her in school

When she left us, her school changed her parental contact info everywhere except in the Board of Ed's computer. So for months, we got robo-calls telling us that "our child" had missed school, or letting us know about the upcoming bus strike. I finally had to call the school myself to have that fixed.

The bus strike had to do with switching bus companies. Apparently, the switch happened. Because you know what the new bus driver did? Came to my house after school on Monday afternoon to drop off a child who wasn't even on the bus. The Kid doesn't even attend that school anymore. They actually called me to tell me that the bus was downstairs with S. When I explained, quite loudly, that S was most certainly not on that bus and she doesn't live here anymore and doesn't even go to that school anymore, they apologized, saying that it was a new driver and attendant. 

I don't how that explains them trying to drop off a child who wasn't actually on the bus. Or why this all happened at drop off, but not at morning pick up.

But seriously, I'm really starting to think this child is the Goddess of Chaos, and little Minions of Chaos follow her around adoringly, making sure that everything associated with her goes ker-flooey. 

It's really the only logical explanation.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Think You Know Where You Can Stick God's Will

Unhappy spill
Photo credit: Arenamontanus
Something pretty fucking horrific happened in NYC last night. If you're not local (and most of you aren't), you probably haven't even heard. To spare you the clickage, a 21 year old couple was in a car service car on the way to the hospital to deliver their first child when their car was hit so badly that they both died. The baby was delivered at some point, but died overnight. The driver took off, so he may get away with this.

It reminded me of a post Mrs. G did on Derfward Manor a few weeks ago about phrases/expressions we'd ban if we could. Several people suggested "it's God's will" and "everything happens for a reason." Because if anything proves that those statements are bullshit, random acts of carnage like the above does the job.

Which reminds me of an etiquette book I read a few years ago. I was going to a fancy, rich people wedding and didn't want to make an ass of myself. But it turned out that the book was about how not to be an asshole. (Apparently modern etiquette is all about not making someone uncomfortable for using the wrong fork, so yay for progress.) The two things I remember from the book were:
  1. Instead of being all "sheesh, the nerve of these people trying to discuss sports with me when I don't care about sports!" it's nicer/less douchey to be polite and just have a conversation about something you don't care about, but someone else does.
  2. We really need to stop trying to put an optimistic spin on things at funerals. Like "at least he didn't suffer." 
Maybe that second one is an American optimism thing. But I used to be so guilty of that. But come on. Some one is dead, and people are sad about it, so we should just go with that. At least within the confines of the funeral home.

Which is why when a year ago today, when a college friend of mine died completely unexpectedly, I knew better than to try to comfort her husband. I called him the next day and said the only appropriate thing I could think of. Probably the only appropriate thing there was to say:

"This sucks."

It sucks so much I feel like stamping my feet until I tire myself out and can throw myself into bed like a cranky toddler. My friend, aka, the smug git who married his college sweetheart shouldn't be a widower. Not yet. But we don't live in a just universe, so...we really need an emoticon for "shrug conveying the futility of existence," but the existentialists pre-date emoticons, so we may be out of luck there.

I don't know that I have a point to this. But there ya go.

On a lighter note, The Bloggess has declared herself interim pope. And doctors have cured an infant of HIV, and the pictures accompanying the news story show adorable little baby toes.

Since I'm not actually bereaved myself, it's OK to cheer me up. Share links to happy stuff in the comments, if you please.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Open Letter to People Who Need to Fuck Off, Healthcare Reform Edition

Ethinyl estradiol
Photo credit: dno1967b
To the weasels in congress who created the provision that insurance companies had to pay for birth control 100%, but only those brands each insurance company itself decided to include in that coverage:
Wow, you really are a bunch of dickwads, aren't you? Was it really going to threaten future campaign donations *that* much to give us the full coverage you were saying you were? I still haven't forgotten how you all rushed to pass legislation to force insurance companies to cover Viagra as soon as it hit the market. But birth control? That takes major health control reform and you still don't give it to us completely. Weasels.

(Note: my insurance company is giving 100% coverage to some name brands, but not all generics. Neither version of the medication I'm currently taking is included on their list. Of course. Your results may vary.)

To the lazy asses in the media who reported the rules about the new law only applying to plans that started after the day the law went into effect, but never mention this little detail:
I guess you didn't find out until your health plan renewed and you got a little surprise at the pharmacy too. I'll bet your pharmacist had no idea why your insurance wasn't paying, just like mine didn't. Because if our journalists don't know bupkis, then how can we possibly expect the people actually billing the insurance companies for the meds to know what's going on.

To the customer service rep at my insurance company who told me that government created the list of 100% covered birth control brands, not the insurance company:
Nice try, douchenozzle. Planned Parenthood has several Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, so finding out the truth took all of fifteen minutes.

Some days there is just not enough hate to go around.

So who do you hate today?