Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yeah! What She Said!

From HuffPost:
Nora Ephron

Bad Manners

I always love it when people in Washington attack people for bad manners. According to George Will, newly-elected Virginia Senator James Webb was guilty of bad manners when he was asked by President Bush how his Marine son was doing in Iraq, and responded instead by saying that he hoped the troops would be home soon.
"That's not what I asked you," said Bush. "How's your boy?""That's between me and my boy," Webb replied.
Will writes: "Webb certainly has conveyed what he is: a boor. Never mind the patent disrespect for the presidency. Webb's more gross offense was calculated rudeness toward another human being - one who, disregarding many hard things Webb had said about him during the campaign, asked a civil and caring question, as one parent to another."
This is truly Washington, in case you wonder what Washington truly is. Washington is a place where politics is just something you do all day. You lie, you send kids to war, you give them inadequate equipment, they're wounded and permanently maimed, they die, whatever. Then night falls, and you actually think you get to pretend that none of it matters. "How's your boy?" That, according to George Will, is a civil and caring question, one parent to another? It seems to me that it's exactly the sort of guy talk that passes for conversation in Bushworld, just one-up from the frat-boy banter that is usually so seductive to Bush's guests. George Bush once said to someone I know, "How old is that seersucker suit anyway?" and my friend (who should know better) went for it lock stock and barrel.
So finally someone said to George Bush, Don't think that what you stand for is beside the point. Don't think that because you're President you're entitled to my good opinion. Don't think that asking about my boy means that I believe for even one second that you care. If you did, you'd be doing something about bringing the troops home.
George Will thinks this is bad manners.
I don't.
I think it's too bad it doesn't happen more often.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Times, They Done Changed

Today I went with my friend Lorie to the lawyer's office to finalize the sale of my old house in Alto Pass. It's a relief to be done, but I guess I'm a little sad, too. I raised my kids there, and it has a lot of memories for me. But now at least I'm half the real estate mogul I was when I woke up this morning. Yay!

That's one less thing on my plate, and that frees up some energy to obsess about other things. Oh...and Lorie said she and Frank are thinking about building hunter's cabins out on their land out by my mom's. Hunter's cabins??? That wouldn't work for me on so many levels. I don't much like people, I don't like hunters at all, and I'm not the slightest bit interested in cleaning up after drunken bozos who come down from Chicago for a weekend of drinkin' and shootin' at shit.

Still, she thinks it might generate $100,000 a year for them, and she's ready to deal with the bozos if it'll mean a decent living. She's a brave woman.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who Could Make This Up??

I love my coworkers! Besides the fact that they're great techs and a pleasure to work with, they also are just the right amount of sick and twisted. And so, they pointed me to this story tonight:

Superior man arrested for relations with dead deer; not first incident
By Maria Lockwood, Superior Daily Telegram
SUPERIOR - A Superior man is in jail for allegedly having sexual relations with a deer carcass he found along the road.
On Oct. 11, Bryan James Hathaway, 20, pleaded innocent to assaulting the carcass, which a criminal complaint says he found it in a ditch along Stinson Avenue while riding his bike.
Hathaway currently faces a misdemeanor charge of sexual gratification with an animal, which carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and $10,000 fine. However, because of his previous conviction, he could be sent to prison up to an additional 24 months.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Douglas County Circuit Court, Superior Police Officer Adam Poskozim and two Department of Corrections agents met with Hathaway at his transitional housing residence in Superior Oct. 11.
The Superior man¹s clothes were covered with blood and what appeared to be deer hair and Hathaway originally told officers he had helped his father clean a deer.
Later, he admitted to having sex with the dead deer near Murphy Oil refinery. Hathaway said he was aroused by the sight of the deer in the ditch. He admitted moving its carcass into the woods, where the assault occurred.
Hathaway remains in the Douglas County Jail in lieu of $200 bail. If released, he is to have no contact with animals. His next court appearance is Nov. 16.
He was recently released from prison after serving an 18-month prison sentence for killing a horse. During an investigation of that incident, Hathaway said he wanted to have sex with the animal.
In April 2005, Hathaway was sentenced for mistreating an animal after shooting Bambrick, a 26-year-old gelding owned by Brenda Egan. Det. Sgt. Ed Anderson of the Douglas County Sheriff¹s Department has been in law enforcement for 28 years and investigated the incident.
"I¹ve never run across a personality like this,: he said. "I've never seen this type of behavior before."
Court records show Hathaway has faced other charges involving weapons violations and lewd behavior prior to the horse killing in December 2004 and the most recent charge.
In February 2004, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, stemming from an incident in October 2003.
According to testimony given during a preliminary examination to determine if felony charges were warranted, a Superior teenager testified Hathaway threatened to kill him and three friends, and pulled out a big gun and loaded it.
Hathaway had been calling the boys names prior to that and had injured the teen by throwing a metal object at him, the teen said.
In May 2004, City Attorney Frog Press filed a motion to admit information from Hathaway¹s juvenile record that included damage to property, disorderly conduct and lewd and lascivious behavior, while prosecuting Hathaway for disorderly conduct and malicious mischief.
Three days later, Hathaway pleaded no contest to the malicious mischief charge.
Maria Lockwood writes for the Superior Daily Telegram which is owned by Forum Communications Company - the parent company of the RiverTown Newspaper Group.
Published 13:41 Oct-19-06

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Stove

I'm going to go out on a limb a little, and say there's some sort of innate need within people to feel that our assholery is justified, while other people's assholery is just...assholery.

We can see it on a small scale in children, with their indignant, "But he hit me first!" and on a global scale with whole nations. I don't remember anything else about the reign of Archduke Ferdinand except that he was important enough to someone to plunge the whole world into a war.

"You killed our Archduke, we're coming after 20 million of you."

And I'll bet that felt appropriate at the time. I wonder if later, the leaders of Germany and Austria and whoever else was on the losing side of World War I used to lay in bed at night and say to themselves, "Oops. Maybe we overreacted a little."

Owning our assholery is tricky, in my opinion. There are two parts to it. There's an appropriate degree of ownership, in which we acknowledge the behaviors, and the feelings they caused in the lucky recipient. But then it's important to understand how we got there and as Two 'R' Lorri used to say...take a different road.

I know that it's easier for me to forget my anger because of my head injury. The exact nature of the event fades into the mist, and eventually disappears. Not resolved, but just...gone. The hard part, then, is to hang on long enough to find the lesson and not get back on the same road that got me there. Back in the old days, PHI (pre-head injury), I could feel the feelings, get over the anger, learn the lessons about avoiding toxic people and performing my own part in the dance, and stay off that particular road. Nowadays, I do well with steps one and two, but I forget about three and four. This invariably leads me back to the same places with their same toxicity. I get caught up in the same situations, and get to enjoy that same anger again and again. Sometimes it feels like Groundhog's Day.

My goal is to create a pathway in my brain to internalize the "The stove is hot. It's always hot. Stop touching it." message.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

More Festive Holiday Fun - Rebuttal

Ev, in her blog entry below, made the following statement, which I would respectfully beg to rebut ...

"Unfortunately, the Long Weekend Gods are smiling on Kwachie, but not so much on me. She's got temperatures in the upper '60's for hers, I get forecasts of snow. SNOW??"

I don't deny that I got the five sunny days, nor that Ev is being threatened with temperatures in the teens and snow flurries. My quibble is with the premise that the Long Weekend Gods are smiling on me. I think we both got the shaft from the Gods.

Hear me out.

Ev loves sunshine. She loves being outdoors. She actually enjoys puttering. I had/have absolutely no intention of doing anything this weekend of an energetic nature. If it were possible, I wouldn't do anything productive at all. My hopes and plans had nothing to do with outdoor activities, so all that sunshine has only served to make me feel vaguely guilty about stuff I probably should be doing. Had the Long Weekend Gods really been smiling on me they would have made it nigh on impossible for me to get out to the shed to drag in the Christmas decorations. As it is, every day that passes without a tasteful display of lights and holiday cheer appearing in our house is like a wagging finger of condemnation. It's all I can do to keep my head in my book and ignore it.

Then, too, there's the fact that when my work week starts again it will start with a vengeance ... and early. Instead of sitting here blissfully wrapped in a blanket, I'll be driving on icy roads in the pre-dawn chill.

I'd give Ev my entire quota of sunshine if I could, just to be able to stay home and watch the first snowfall of the season from the comfort of my recliner with a cat on my lap.


More Festive Holiday Fun

Well...we did the family bondage five days early, and I've been slaving over a hot blood bank ever since, so that's my excuse du jour for not blogging. Kwachie's excuse? Not as good as mine. :-) She made some breads and soups, read some books, and did some other things that people who get time off their jobs get to do.

However...the tables will turn again, as tables are wont to do. After a five day stretch of virtuous life-saving, I'll get a long weekend of my own to fritter away. And then we'll all be sorry.

My goal is to engage in that time-honored tradition of us Rural Assholes: setting shit on fire. We've got a conflagration's worth of leaves and sticks to burn. A veritable Armageddon of twigs in the backyard, shading the lawn's piteous attempts to photosynthesize. Tragic, eh?

Unfortunately, the Long Weekend Gods are smiling on Kwachie, but not so much on me. She's got temperatures in the upper '60's for hers, I get forecasts of snow. SNOW?? Maybe it's time to sacrifice a small flatulent kitty cat to the Long Weekend Gods.

But now it's time to get showered up for work. I'm hoping the conga line of people with sore bellies coming through the ER will taper off today. Maybe, like the drive-thru flu shot line, we ought to offer curbside Imodium therapy, with a set of special lanes for people who need a little more intervention...amylases and lipases on the left, stool cultures on the right and brittle diabetics who ate the pie anyway right up the middle.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

You Need To...Relax

Of all the hot buttons I know I have, maybe the hottest button of all is any sentence directed at me that starts with, "You need to..."

Before the fourth word even leaves the speaker's mouth, I am absolutely certain that no matter what it is, I don't need to do it. And really, It would take a gun at my temple to force me to do it...whatever it is. If that person were telling me I needed to hold my breath because the flood water is up to my chin, I think I'd still struggle with, "Don't tell me what I need! I'll hold my breath if, and only if, I decide it's what I need."

I mention this because, in the middle of an extremely busy and fairly stressful evening at my job, one of my coworkers stopped by my department and committed the two greatest sins in EvieLand: she messed up my bench and told me what I "need to do."

And even though I very much like my coworker...I like pretending I am the Mistress of My Own Destiny. If I identify it as a's a need. If you do...well...don't.

Luckily, Casey the Phlebot is a compassionate and non-judgmental listener. And if she thought I was a lunatic, she was clearly raised well enough to keep it to herself. I ranted for a while, offered to break some dishes for her, and then settled down like a big girl. But I'm stuck musing about the "you need to" my intellectual head, I realize it's just a phrase people use because the think it sounds less authoritarian than "I want you to...", but really, it's not my's yours. Be honest about who needs what from whom. Because my need is a cold beer, a good book, and a fluffy cat. If one of us needs a white cell differential on a bronchiolar lavage, it ain't me.

(Sigh)...semantics. It ought to feel inconsequential, but apparently I like my hairs split on a specific axis.


Pumpkin Roll, the Grassy Knoll of Holiday Foods

I feel a holiday food conspiracy coming on. Suddenly, everywhere I turn...Pumpkin Roll. I've lived through over 40 Thanksgivings in my life, and never once encounted a pumpkin roll until this year. This year I've already eaten it four times!

This year, everyone is talking about pumpkin roll, swapping recipes for pumpkin roll, and waxing rhapsodic about great pumpkin rolls through history. I think Washington crossed the Delaware on a pumpkin roll, K-Fed is threatening to release his sex videos with one, and O.J. wrote a book about how he would have made a pumpkin roll if he had, which of course he didn't, and he won't rest until he finds out who did. Honest.

So...although I have to work on Thanksgiving, I believe I, too, will jump on the pumpkin roll bandwagon this year. If all the other kids were jumping off a pumpkin roll...

Pumpkin Roll
Estimated Times: Preparation - 45 min Cooking - 13 min Cooling Time - 1 hrs refrigerating Yields - 10
1/4 cup powdered sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (optional)

Directions:FOR CAKE:PREHEAT oven to 375° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.COMBINE flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.BAKE for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.FOR FILLING:BEAT cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A' Hunting We Will Go ...

Last week was Deer Hunting Season. That magical week when flocks of Orange Vested Great Armed Hunters, sporting their Fall camo plumage, migrate south from Chicago in their Hummers and Escalades and proceed to erect tree blinds, drink excessively and fire off enough rifle rounds to quell the insurgency in Iraq. As the hunt draws to a close the younger, less experienced Hunters, anxious to prove their prowess to the Alpha Hunters, begin to shoot at anything that moves ... your dog, your cow, your horse ... you, if you aren't careful.

On Sunday we were privileged to witness the culmination of all that testosterone-soaked activity ... the Caravan of Carcasses! Yes, it's true. It's only my first year here, and already I've been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when the Great Armed Hunters returned to their northern caves bearing the Gift of Gutted Meat to sustain their families through the long, bitter Chicago winter.

They bear them home draped over the hood, tied to the roof rack, jammed in next to the ATV, piled on the trailer, stuffed into the trunk and stacked on Grandma's wheelchair lift. We saw one being hauled home in a boat, and I wished I could ask if it was caught with a nightcrawler or one of those little cheese ball things.

As the formation changes and one Hunter passes another along the migratory route, you can almost hear the honking and trumpeting.

"Mine's way fuckin' bigger than yours!"

"What a pussy deer!"

"My kid sister's got a bigger rack!"

"Fuck. I'll bet he didn't really shoot that."

I can hardly wait till Goose Season!


When the Linchpin Stays Home...

Anna-Jonesboro Defeated in Semifinal Round

by scott mees, the southern
ST. JOSEPH - The Class 3A prep football semifinal between Anna-Jonesboro and St. Joseph-Odgen was strange to say the least.The contest featured a blocked extra point, a missed extra point and one of the most bizarre touchdown receptions of the postseason.

The Spartans held on to nip the Wildcats 22-21 and advance to the state championship game."When you get into a game like this it's gonna be big plays that change the outcome of the game," said Anna-Jonesboro coach Brett Detering. "What makes it harder than anything is we made some mistakes and turned the ball over at times. In these big games you just can't do that and give the other team that many chances."

Trailing 7-0 late in the second quarter, Spartan quarterback Isaiah Olson threw a pass to Lukas Graves, but the Wildcats' Jake Pecord stepped in front of the receiver and looked as though he'd intercept the pass.But it slipped through his hands, and Graves trapped it against Pecord's back and took off for a 70-yard touchdown reception."We got a break on our first touchdown," said St. Joseph-Ogden coach Dick Duval regarding the long touchdown reception. "It's better to be lucky than good, and we happened to be lucky today."

The extra point try sailed wide left, and A-J kept a 7-6 lead at the intermission.

The Wildcats' Brock Bittle fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half after a hard hit, but A-J shut the door on defense. The Spartans' Nick Krisman missed a 33-yard field goal attempt.Later in the third quarter, Steven Houseman forced a Mark Gones fumble, and Dave Sanders fell on the football to give A-J possession at the Spartan 45.But Krisman picked off a Cerney pace and ran to the A-J 35. Several plays later, J.C. Ducey caught a 2-yard touchdown pass to give St. Joseph-Ogden a 12-7 lead.On the first play of the next drive, Cerney found Hileman who broke a tackle and outran everyone to the end zone for a 69-yard scoring play. Anna-Jonesboro took a 15-12 edge."It seemed like every time they would score and get up Hileman would come back with a big play and make something happen," Detering said. "The combination of Brad throwing the ball and Lucas catching has been a great combination for us since the playoffs started."

The Spartans added a field goal to tie the score at the end of three quarters. Gones broke through the middle of the A-J defense for a 48-yard fourth quarter jaunt that set up the go-ahead score.Once again, the Wildcats answered on their first play of a drive following a St. Joseph-Ogden touchdown.Cerney fired a pass over the middle to Hileman who broke to the outside, and he was gone for a 68-yard scoring reception. The Spartans blocked the extra point attempt that ended up sealing the victory.

"They were a lot bigger than us and it's not a great field out there," Detering said. "They had some big guys get a big push on one side and got the extra point blocked."Hileman's runs after the catch were outstanding, and the junior finished with four receptions (three were touchdowns) for 200 yards. Cerney passed for 286 yards but was intercepted three times.Gones carried the ball 35 times for 176 yards in the Spartan backfield.

Although Anna-Jonesboro's great season is over, Detering spoke about how special his seniors were this year. This game marked the last time linebackers Heston Hase and Sanders would wear the Wildcat uniform."I think our seniors overachieved a lot of people's expectations," Detering said. "They've always had a belief that they could play with anyone because they play with such great heart and such great determination."What I'm going to remember about these guys is they enjoyed the fight."

Early Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving came early for our family this year. We spent Sunday in Mattoon with Steve & Nan, Geoff, Sean, Dane and Katie, and many, many Roses.

Junie, Nancy's youngest sister, moved south from the Chicago area to Mattoon, in southern central Illinois. She bought a beautiful old house (built in the 1880's) in one of those tree-lined neighborhoods with brick pavement and turn of the century Victorians. I wish we'd managed to get a few pictures of her neighborhood, but I always feel like it's been a successful family get together if I manage to get one of the family. LOL...Oh, and I threatened to photoshop Dane out of the picture if he's not good to Katie.

I hadn't seen a lot of Nan's siblings in close to 20 years, so it was extra fun to discover that if you lose track of people, they apparently continue to grow older and produce children, who then manage to grow up and produce offspring of their own. All without me noticing!

Junie looked great, and her kids are incredible...friendly, intelligent, attractive...Hell, they even did her dishes! I was thinking on the drive home that at some point in the parenting cycle, you look at your kids and they're fully-formed people. I guess that's when you start to get an idea of how well you've done as a parent.

I missed having Carrie and Robbie there with us, but I gave out the address of Carrie's blog,, to all the vegetarians and potential vegetarians in the group. So Carrie, don't feel any extra pressure or anything, but the whole world is watching you now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

In Certain Circles, Two Is a Crowd

Because I'm the Queen of Personal Space Issues, this article resonated with me. I've worked with people from other countries most of my adult life, and I still find the cultural differences in personal space fascinating.

I remember how Denise used to ask me incredulously how I could stand to have Varsha so far into my bubble. I think the difference was that her distance was appropriate for her in her culture, so she was comfortable...and that made me more comfortable. But it sure took some getting used to at first.


From The New York Times:

November 16, 2006

CHANCES are that in the last week someone has irritated you by standing too close, talking too loud or making eye contact for too long. They have offended you with the high-pitched shrill emanating from the earphones of their iPod or by spreading their legs unnecessarily wide on a packed subway car.
But what makes you feel hostile toward “close talkers,” as the show “Seinfeld” dubbed people who get within necking distance of you when they speak? Or toward strangers who stand very near to you on line? Or toward people who take the bathroom stall next to yours when every other one is available?
Communications scholars began studying personal space and people’s perception of it decades ago, in a field known as proxemics. But with the population in the United States climbing above 300 million, urban corridors becoming denser and people with wealth searching for new ways to separate themselves from the masses, interest in the issue of personal space — that invisible force field around your body — is intensifying.
Scientists who say Americans share patterns of movement and behaviors to protect their personal space have recently found new evidence in a cyber game.
Researchers who observed the avatars (digital representations of the humans that control them) of participants in Second Life, a virtual reality universe, found that some of the avatars’ physical behavior was in keeping with studies about how humans protect their personal space.
In other words, the digital beings adhered to some unspoken behavioral rules of humans even though they were but pixels on a screen.
Humans tend to avert eye gaze if they feel someone is standing too close. They retreat to corners, put distance between themselves and strangers, and sit or stand equidistant from one another like birds on a wire.
The study, which was accepted for publication in the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior, found that virtual environments may be another platform to study physical social interaction. It specifically found that the unwritten rules of personal space are so powerful, people even impose them on their cyber selves.
“The fact that they show up in the virtual world shows how deeply ingrained they are,” said Nick Yee, a graduate student in the department of communication at Stanford University and a lead author of the study along with Jeremy N. Bailenson, his adviser. “We don’t think about them. They’re very unconscious.”
According to scientists, personal space involves not only the invisible bubble around the body, but all the senses. People may feel their space is being violated when they experience an unwelcome sound, scent or stare: the woman on the bus squawking into her cellphone, the co-worker in the adjacent cubicle dabbing on cologne, or the man in the sandwich shop leering at you over his panini.
But whether people have become more protective of their personal space is difficult to say. Studies show people tend to adapt, even in cities, which are likely to grow ever more crowded based on population projections.
Yet studies involving airlines show the desire to have some space to oneself is among the top passenger requests. In a survey in April from TripAdvisor, a travel Web site, travelers said that if they had to pay for certain amenities, they would rather have larger seats and more legroom than massages and premium food. And a current advertisement for Eos Airlines, which flies between New York and London, is promoting the fact that it offers passengers “21 square feet of personal space.”
While people may crave space, they rarely realize how entrenched proxemics are. Scholars can predict which areas of an elevator are likely to fill up first and which urinal a man will choose. They know people will stare at the lighted floor numbers in elevators, not one another.
“In order to overcome the intimacy, you have to make sure you don’t make eye contact,” said Dane Archer, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies proxemics.
They know commuters will hold newspapers in front of them to read, yes, but also to shield themselves from strangers. And they know college students will unconsciously choose to sit in the same row, if not the same seat, each class.
“If you videotape people at a library table, it’s very clear what seat somebody will take,” Dr. Archer said, adding that one of the corner seats will go first, followed by the chair diagonally opposite because that is farthest away. “If you break those rules, it’s fascinating,” he said. “People will pile up books as if to make a wall — glare.”
Edward T. Hall, an anthropologist and the father of proxemics, even put numbers to the unspoken rules. He defined the invisible zones around us and attributed a range of distance to each one: intimate distance (6 to 18 inches); personal distance (18 inches to 4 feet); social distance (4 to 12 feet); and public distance (about 12 feet or more).
But personal space is not merely a numbers game. Preferences differ from culture to culture. Scholars have found that Americans, conquerors of the wild frontier, generally prefer more personal space than people in Mediterranean and Latin American cultures, and more than men in Arab countries.
“In the U.S., it’s very closely linked to ideals of individuals,” said Kathryn Sorrells, an associate professor of communication studies at California State University, Northridge, who is writing a book, “Globalizing Intercultural Communications.” “There’s an idea that you have the right to this space,” she said, noting that it was born of a culture that prizes independence, privacy and capitalism.
Dr. Archer tells of a Brazilian man he interviewed who, when speaking to the American waiters with whom he worked, used to casually touch them for emphasis. The man’s overtures of friendship toward his co-workers were always rejected and he wanted to know why. So when business was slow he observed how the Americans interacted. And eventually he arrived at this conclusion: Americans hate to be touched.
“He’s absolutely right,” Dr. Archer said. “He figured it out by himself and no one ever told him. The sad thing about these nonverbal rules across cultures is you’re on your own.”
The Brazilian man’s experience also shows how people are quick to judge those who break the unwritten rules, unless we are attuned to the cultural differences.
John Bringardner, 26, a staff reporter at IP Law & Business, said that when he was studying philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris, he lived next door to an Algerian man who had a habit of standing mere inches from his face. “His spittle would get in my face,” said Mr. Bringardner. But he did not back away. “If it were an American guy that close,” he said, “it would have been a different situation.”
Yet it is rare for people to have confrontations about personal space. “No one will ever turn to the nice person from Italy or Greece and say ‘I like you but you’re standing too close to me,’ ” said Dr. Archer, who has videotaped strangers’ responses to personal-space violations.
Rather, they will likely angle and inch their bodies away from anyone they feel breached their buffer zone. Blood pressure may rise, the heart rate may go up and the palms may sweat, said David B. Givens, the director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Wash. “All animals tend to have an aversion to being touched by a strange critter,” he said.
Proxemics, however, is not merely about interactions between individuals. On a larger scale, it helps developers, urban planners and executives in various industries understand how people move through public spaces, how they shop, even what type of restaurants they find most comfortable.
Paco Underhill, the author of “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping” and the chief executive of Envirosell, a research and consulting company whose client list includes Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Starbucks and McDonald’s, discovered that most consumers will walk away from whatever they are looking at in a store if a customer inadvertently brushes against their backside, disturbing his or her personal space.
And so, what may seem like a minor behavioral tic can help department stores determine how far apart to place racks of clothes, bistro owners figure out how to configure the bar area and college campuses to design residence halls.
Yet there are paradoxes to personal space, and one is that people do not always want it.
“If you’ve gone to see a funny movie in an empty theater, you can appreciate the facilitative effects of the presence of others,” said Robert M. Krauss, a professor of psychology at Columbia. “We went to see ‘Borat’ and every seat in the theater was full, and I have no doubt that it enhanced our enjoyment of it.”
Being crowded in a dance club or running the New York City Marathon is far different from being packed into a train car during rush hour or stuck on a freeway (yes, proxemics has been linked to road rage).
“In these spaces, when you’re not commuting, you feel fine,” Dr. Givens said. But in both positive moments of closeness and those that make the blood boil, one tenet of proxemics is the same: the near presence of people is arousing. “It will enhance the amount that you enjoy things that are enjoyable,” Dr. Krauss said. “It will make more aversive the things that are not enjoyable.”
And when people want to avoid someone who is less than enjoyable, they employ a variety of tactics. Some scholars say this goes a long way toward explaining the iPod craze, which turns city streets and commuter trains into islands of individuality.
The same principle makes it easier to get close to strangers in low-lit places. “Visually, you’re not getting as much information,” Dr. Givens said, adding that if the lights were suddenly flipped on in a dim bar, “everybody would spring back.”
In general most people understand the rules of personal space and heed the cues. Then again, the world is littered with clods. As Dr. Archer put it, people generally view personal-space rules in one of two ways: “the wrong way and my way.”

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Of Cabbages and Kings

I'm beginning to notice a pattern to my blogging habits. I write less when I have PMS, oddly, because my head is so overfull that I can't organize my thoughts enough to post. As long as it's not the crazy kind of PMS, I sort of like this stage, because it seems to open some doors to some thoughts that I don't typically get to look at. And that's odd to me, since it's my own'd think I could look anywhere I want, anytime I want.

So when I have PMS, I tend to post articles that pique my interest, and less of my own stuff. The rest of the time, BOY, do I have opinions!

Here's some of what's in my head these days:
There's been a huge spate of parents dying lately among my peers. JoEllen, Angela and Deb for starters, and I know I've forgetten a couple because we decided it was five just this month. Part of it, obviously, is that it's just that time. We're in our 40's and our parents are in their 70's, and that's when people die. But I wonder how much of it has to do with the Holiday Season. Holidays are difficult for even the hardiest souls.

I read somewhere once that men tend to die right before their birthdays, and women right after, in a large part because of the way men and women approach the world. Birthdays, for many people, are a time to look back and make an accounting of how we've done in life, using whatever yardstick we measure success, relationships, children, possessions...whatever is important to us.

Men tend to be strivers and are looking ahead to that next thing. And they often die with some regrets...shoulda, woulda, coulda. Women tend to be feelers and processers, and to look for the meaning in things. The work they need to do to make themselves ready to die takes place internally.

So men frequently die in the days leading up to their birthday, apparently to unconciously avoid that last personal accounting, where they feel like they haven't measured up to their own definition of a life well spent.

Women frequently die right after their birthday, and see it as one last chance to see the people they love and get their own emotional house in order before leaving.

I wonder if that will change. Gender roles are blurrier, but our biological inclinations are probably pretty set in stone. Even when we switch roles, many women seem to strive professionally and yet hold back a part of their heads to fret about the nest.

As this parade of funerals marches on, I think I've noticed what astute people have already figured out: when our parents die, we not only lose our parents, we lose our youth. We lose the people who've propped us up all our lives, and now we're replacing them as the grown-ups in the family. What if we're not ready??

Our parents looked like the were born to be adults. They had mastered all the skills, and made it look effortless. Our generation seems to struggle a little. And when our parents die, it's sort of worrisome to me that the Universe expects us to pick up the torch, slip on the mantle of Parenthood, and be the generation that's in charge. EEEEK! Look at George Bush...we're not ready!

But probably we are. Probably our parents generation struggled just like we do. Katie sometimes says to me, "You know everything." And I think, "Kiddo, you wouldn't believe how much I don't know."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- fractures the time/space continuum for a couple of days, and lets us into some parallel universes. But I can see why no one actually LIVES there.


South African Parliment Approves Same-Sex Marriage

Can Illinois be far behind? The inevitable march to fairness. It's not nearly as dramatic as it seems. Like so much else in life, it's about standing up and doing the right thing, and trusting other adults to take care of their own relationships without governmental interference.

We saw a great quote the other day:

"Can I vote on your marriage?"

From The New York Times:
November 15, 2006

JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 14 — Parliament on Tuesday voted resoundingly to legalize same-sex marriages in South Africa, making the nation the first in Africa and the fifth in the world to remove legal barriers to them, according to advocates.
The nation’s highest court ruled last December that South Africa’s marriage statute violated the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights. The court gave the government a year to alter the legal definition of marriage.
That left the government with three choices: legalize same-sex marriages, let the court change the law by fiat or alter the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
Under the proposal approved by Parliament, heterosexual and same-sex couples could register marriages or civil partnerships. In a concession to critics, the law also would allow civil officers to refuse to marry same-sex couples if such marriages conflicted with their conscience.
If the measure is to become law, as both sides said they expected, it must be approved by the National Council of Provinces and signed by President Thabo Mbeki.
In many African nations, homosexuality is still treated as a crime. Some impose stiffer penalties for homosexual acts than for rape and murder.
And African leaders have regularly denounced homosexuality as immoral and a violation of the natural order and African culture.
Melanie Judge, the program manager for OUT, a gay rights advocacy group, said Parliament had taken a courageous stance in the face of strong political pressure.
Although some countries recognize civil partnerships between same-sex couples, she said, only the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada now allow same-sex marriages.
Ms. Judge credits South Africa’s liberal Constitution with forcing change. “This has been a litmus test of our constitutional values,” she said. “It forced us to consider: What does equality really mean? What does it look like? Equality does not exist on a sliding scale.”
Religious groups and traditional leaders proposed to nullify the court ruling by amending the Constitution. But their bill to define marriage as being between a man and a woman died in parliamentary committee. Steve Swart, a legislator with the African Christian Democratic Party and a proponent of the constitutional amendment, said the Parliament had ignored the views of ordinary citizens — and international norms.
“We are out of step with the rest of Africa and with rest of world,” he said. “The international norm is civil unions, as opposed to same-sex marriages. What happened today conflicts with the views of the majority of South Africans.”
He attributed the 230-to-41 vote for the measure to whip-cracking by the governing party, the African National Congress. One party leader was quoted this month as saying that the A.N.C. expected its legislators to support the bill, regardless of their personal beliefs.
Vytjie Mentor, the party’s caucus chairman, told a South African newspaper, The Sunday Independent, that there was “no such thing as a free vote or a vote of conscience.”
“How do you give someone permission to discriminate in the name of the A.N.C.?” he said. “How do you allow for someone to vote against the Constitution and the policies of the A.N.C., which is antidiscrimination?”
Still, Ms. Judge, the gay rights advocate, said the new provision allowing civil officers to refuse to marry gay couples was unconstitutional and would provoke legal challenges.
“We can’t be in the situation where civil officers can decide who they want to marry and who they don’t want to marry,” she said. “They aren’t able to refuse to marry a black person and a white person. Why are same-sex couples different?”
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ancient Crash, Epic Wave

These kinds of stories fascinate me, in a large part because it seems like complete serendipity that we live in a time when one of these apocalyptic events hasn't occurred. Bad stuff, yes. But the kind of thing that wipes out a couple of millions humans? Not yet. (knock on Lizzie's skull)


From The New York Times:

November 14, 2006
Ancient Crash, Epic Wave
At the southern end of Madagascar lie four enormous wedge-shaped sediment deposits, called chevrons, that are composed of material from the ocean floor. Each covers twice the area of Manhattan with sediment as deep as the Chrysler Building is high.
On close inspection, the chevron deposits contain deep ocean microfossils that are fused with a medley of metals typically formed by cosmic impacts. And all of them point in the same direction — toward the middle of the Indian Ocean where a newly discovered crater, 18 miles in diameter, lies 12,500 feet below the surface.
The explanation is obvious to some scientists. A large asteroid or comet, the kind that could kill a quarter of the worldÂ’s population, smashed into the Indian Ocean 4,800 years ago, producing a tsunami at least 600 feet high, about 13 times as big as the one that inundated Indonesia nearly two years ago. The wave carried the huge deposits of sediment to land.
Most astronomers doubt that any large comets or asteroids have crashed into the Earth in the last 10,000 years. But the self-described “band of misfits” that make up the two-year-old Holocene Impact Working Group say that astronomers simply have not known how or where to look for evidence of such impacts along the world’s shorelines and in the deep ocean.
Scientists in the working group say the evidence for such impacts during the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene epoch, is strong enough to overturn current estimates of how often the Earth suffers a violent impact on the order of a 10-megaton explosion. Instead of once in 500,000 to one million years, as astronomers now calculate, catastrophic impacts could happen every few thousand years.
The researchers, who formed the working group after finding one another through an international conference, are based in the United States, Australia, Russia, France and Ireland. They are established experts in geology, geophysics, geomorphology, tsunamis, tree rings, soil science and archaeology, including the structural analysis of myth. Their efforts are just getting under way, but they will present some of their work at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December in San Francisco.
This year the group started using Google Earth, a free source of satellite images, to search around the globe for chevrons, which they interpret as evidence of past giant tsunamis. Scores of such sites have turned up in Australia, Africa, Europe and the United States, including the Hudson River Valley and Long Island.
When the chevrons all point in the same direction to open water, Dallas Abbott, an adjunct research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., uses a different satellite technology to look for oceanic craters. With increasing frequency, she finds them, including an especially large one dating back 4,800 years.
So far, astronomers are skeptical but are willing to look at the evidence, said David Morrison, a leading authority on asteroids and comets at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. Surveys show that as many as 185 large asteroids or comets hit the Earth in the far distant past, although most of the craters are on land. No one has spent much time looking for craters in the deep ocean, Dr. Morrison said, assuming young ones donÂ’t exist and that old ones would be filled with sediment.
Astronomers monitor every small space object with an orbit close to the Earth. “We know what’s out there, when they return, how close they come,” Dr. Morrison said. Given their observations, “there is no reason to think we have had major hits in the last 10,000 years,” he continued, adding, “But if Dallas is right and they find 10 such events, we’ll have a real contradiction on our hands.”
Peter Bobrowski, a senior research scientist in natural hazards at the Geological Survey of Canada, said “chevrons are fantastic features” but do not prove that megatsunamis are real. There are other interpretations for how chevrons are formed, including erosion and glaciation. Dr. Bobrowski said. It is up to the working group to prove its claims, he said.
William Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont Observatory, compared Dr. AbbottÂ’s work to that of other pioneering scientists who had to change the way their colleagues thought about a subject.
“Many of us think Dallas is really onto something,” Dr. Ryan said. “She is building a story just like Walter Alvarez did.” Dr. Alvarez, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, spent a decade convincing skeptics that a giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
Ted Bryant, a geomorphologist at the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, was the first person to recognize the palm prints of mega-tsunamis. Large tsunamis of 30 feet or more are caused by volcanoes, earthquakes and submarine landslides, he said, and their deposits have different features.
Deposits from mega-tsunamis contain unusual rocks with marine oyster shells, which cannot be explained by wind erosion, storm waves, volcanoes or other natural processes, Dr. Bryant said.
“We’re not talking about any tsunami you’re ever seen,” Dr. Bryant said. “Aceh was a dimple. No tsunami in the modern world could have made these features. End-of-the-world movies do not capture the size of these waves. Submarine landslides can cause major tsunamis, but they are localized. These are deposited along whole coastlines.”
For example, Dr. Bryant identified two chevrons found over four miles inland near Carpentaria in north central Australia. Both point north. When Dr. Abbott visited a year ago, he asked her to find the craters.
To locate craters, Dr. Abbott uses sea surface altimetry data. Satellites scan the ocean surface and log the exact height of it. Underwater mountain ranges, trenches and holes in the ground disturb the EarthÂ’s gravitational field, causing sea surface heights to vary by fractions of an inch. Within 24 hours of searching the shallow water north of the two chevrons, Dr. Abbott found two craters.
Not all depressions in the ocean are impact craters, Dr. Abbott said. They can be sink holes, faults or remnant volcanoes. A check is needed. So she obtained samples from deep sea sediment cores taken in the area by the Australian Geological Survey.
The cores contain melted rocks and magnetic spheres with fractures and textures characteristic of a cosmic impact. “The rock was pulverized, like it was hit with a hammer,” Dr. Abbott said. “We found diatoms fused to tektites,” a glassy substance formed by meteors. The molten glass and shattered rocks could not be produced by anything other than an impact, she said.
“We think these two craters are 1,200 years old,” Dr. Abbott said. The chevrons are well preserved and date to about the same time.
Dr. Abbott and her colleagues have located chevrons in the Caribbean, Scotland, Vietnam and North Korea, and several in the North Sea.
Heather Hill State Park on Long Island has a chevron whose front edge points to a crater in Long Island Sound, Dr. Abbott said. There is another, very faint chevron in Connecticut, and it points in a different direction.
Marie-Agnès Courty, a soil scientist at the European Center for Prehistoric Research in Tautavel, France, is studying the worldwide distribution of cosmogenic particles from what she suspects was a major impact 4,800 years ago.
But Madagascar provides the smoking gun for geologically recent impacts. In August, Dr. Abbott, Dr. Bryant and Slava Gusiakov, from the Novosibirsk Tsunami Laboratory in Russia, visited the four huge chevrons to scoop up samples.
Last month, Dee Breger, director of microscopy at Drexel University in Philadelphia, looked at the samples under a scanning electron microscope and found benthic foraminifera, tiny fossils from the ocean floor, sprinkled throughout. Her close-ups revealed splashes of iron, nickel and chrome fused to the fossils.
When a chondritic meteor, the most common kind, vaporizes upon impact in the ocean, those three metals are formed in the same relative proportions as seen in the microfossils, Dr. Abbott said.
Ms. Breger said the microfossils appear to have melded with the condensing metals as both were lofted up out of the sea and carried long distances.
About 900 miles southeast from the Madagascar chevrons, in deep ocean, is Burckle crater, which Dr. Abbott discovered last year. Although its sediments have not been directly sampled, cores from the area contain high levels of nickel and magnetic components associated with impact ejecta.
Burckle crater has not been dated, but Dr. Abbott estimates that it is 4,500 to 5,000 years old.
It would be a great help to the cause if the National Science Foundation sent a ship equipped with modern acoustic equipment to take a closer look at Burckle, Dr. Ryan said. “If it had clear impact features, the nonbelievers would believe,” he said.
But they might have more trouble believing one of the scientists, Bruce Masse, an environmental archaeologist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. He thinks he can say precisely when the comet fell: on the morning of May 10, 2807 B.C.
Dr. Masse analyzed 175 flood myths from around the world, and tried to relate them to known and accurately dated natural events like solar eclipses and volcanic eruptions. Among other evidence, he said, 14 flood myths specifically mention a full solar eclipse, which could have been the one that occurred in May 2807 B.C.
Half the myths talk of a torrential downpour, Dr. Masse said. A third talk of a tsunami. Worldwide they describe hurricane force winds and darkness during the storm. All of these could come from a mega-tsunami.
Of course, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, Dr. Masse said, “and we’re not there yet.”
Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sung to the tune of ...

(Lyrics by M. Spaff Sumsion)

I used to be a master of the anti-gay crusade
Until a butch disaster blew my pastor masquerade
But if it's true I'm pounding more than pulpits, don't blame me
It's 'cause I caught my hooker-tweaker-stud's infirmity


Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
Worse than plague and bird flu crossed with osteoporosis
We were playing doctor and he gave this diagnosis:
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis

Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye
Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye

I found the perfect therapist - the kind that gives massage
I like to drive my Escort and I park in his garage
I swear he only serves me crank when all his coke is gone
And then he helps me straighten out my Peter, James, and John


Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
That's my greatest guilty pleasure next to Guns N' Roses
Good thing there's no ban on it in all the books of Moses
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis

Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye
Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye

It seems all pious public figures bugger on the sly
But Jesus loved republicans and sinners; so must I
Say "Holy moley, Mister Foley! That boy's underage!"
But I believe the congressman has turned another page


Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
Next time, better cut me off at handshakes and Mimosas
No more meth or men for me (at least in overdoses)!
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis!



Yesterday we had the time to indulge one of our favorite weekend activities and we went out sightseeing. We hadn't been to Alton - the "Most Haunted City in Illinois" - yet, so we drove the scenic Great River Road past St. Louis to check out the haints and antique stores. Very pretty town! It's one of those historic river towns that used to be inhabited by river barons, sitting high on a curving bluff overlooking the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. We drove along the brick paved streets admiring the magnificent old brick mansions and Queen Annes, restored to the colorful pallette that gave them the nickname "Painted Ladies." I'm sorry we were just a couple of weeks too late to see the trees in their full autumn colors, but they're already putting up the Christmas wreaths and the community Christmas tree ... and it was cold enough with the wind blowing off the rivers to seem timely.

We didn't see any ghosts, but we did stumble across the naturally mummified corpse of a human being, curled into a fetal ball around a chunk of wood planking and displayed in a three foot square glass box. It was unceremoniously piled on top of a bunch of dusty junk in the back warrens of an antique emporium, and I almost bypassed it as a weird statue. But on closer inspection we both decided it looked like an authentic desiccated dead guy. We also decided that it was grisly, disturbing and illegal. At least I'm pretty sure it's against the law to sell dead people in glass boxes ... and if it isn't, it should be.

The owner of the emporium chuckled in that "wink wink" way and said, "Oh that's not a real dead guy. It just looks like one." Ev replied that he was doing a damn good imitation of a dead guy and we left. It's been bothering me ever since, and I keep wondering if I ought to tell someone ... then I wonder who I'd tell.

We didn't buy the dead guy to decorate our foyer, although I'm reasonably sure he'll decorate the nether reaches of my brain for quite some time and we'll probably meet again in the middle of the night when I've eaten something that doesn't agree with me and I'm sleeping fitfully.

We also saw the worst name for a daycare center and the best name for a bar ever. The daycare center was called "Leonard Bo-Peep's," and although the other sign was on the front of a manufacturing plant in East St. Louis it just cried out for neon. I mean, really, wouldn't you go out of your way to stop in for a couple of drinks and a game of pool -- or something -- at the "St. Louis Screw and Bolt" ???


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Anna-Jonesboro Rolls Into Semis

By Todd Hefferman, The Southern
GREENVILLE - Lucas Hileman heard the footsteps, all right, prior to his fourth-quarter touchdown reception Saturday.The ones leading all the way to the Class 3A semifinals.

Hileman, Anna-Jonesboro's converted wide receiver, corralled a 52-yard pass from quarterback Brad Cerney to answer Greenville's only score of the day and help the Wildcats advance to the final four with a 30-8 victory. The former quarterback caught Cerney's pass just in front of the Comets' Jason Etcheson near the Greenville 20-yard line and raced the rest of the way to give his team a 14-point edge. Jon Pengress' kick made it 23-8 with 7 minutes, 5 seconds to play at Greenville High School."We needed another play to finally put them away, because they had a little run there for a little bit," said Hileman, who caught two passes for 83 yards. "The nature of it is, you try not to think about where the other players are. You gotta run for the ball, and you gotta make a play after it sometimes, so you can't really worry having to get hit when you go across the middle."

Not getting hit was a common theme for the third-ranked Wildcats (12-0), who will play at sixth-ranked St. Joseph Ogden (12-0) next weekend for a spot in the 3A championship game. The Spartans - quarterfinalists a year ago - topped Decatur St. Teresa 27-21 in Decatur Saturday. Undefeateds Plano and Manlius Bureau Valley, the defending 3A champs, will battle in the other semifinal.

David Sanders scored Anna-Jonesboro's first touchdown of the day on a screen pass in the left flat. Sanders took Cerney's pass near the Greenville 45, saw three blockers ahead of him, and made the right cuts to coast into the end zone without a Comet hand on him."I saw my center, Gary Potter, absolutely crush this guy to the outside, so I chose to go right into the middle of the field, and when I went into the middle of the field, I saw Lucas Hileman behind me," Sanders said. "So I knew nobody was going to catch me."We needed that score real bad, and we got it."

Greenville (10-2) capped its best drive of the day with a Josh Hulvey 1-yard plunge prior to Hileman's score. Ethan Willman cut the Wildcats' lead in half when he was able to take a screen pass from quarterback Josh Tebbe near the 2 and barrel in for the two-point conversion with 4:45 to play."It was huge, to be able to answer like that, because they'd cut it to one score at 16-8," Wildcats coach Brett Detering said. "Now they just had to get another score and a conversion, so they had a little bit of momentum. I think we got the ball out at midfield and were able to convert."

Hulvey and the Comets became only the fourth team this season to rush for over 100 yards against Anna-Jonesboro, as the 6-foot-1 senior went for 131 yards on 16 carries. The Comets finished with 170 rushing yards on 35 carries. Tebbe, however, wasn't able to bring Greenville back through the air, as he was picked off twice and finished 4-of-12 for 29 yards.Heston Hase added another touchdown for the Wildcats off a screen pass in the fourth to seal the game. Jake Pecord added a 66-yard score in the third to help Anna-Jonesboro equal the school record for wins.

The last time Anna-Jonesboro's football team hit No. 12 in the win column, it captured the 1984 state championship. Hileman was aware of the possibility of another title 22 years later, but said he wasn't looking ahead of St. Joseph Ogden."You try not to look ahead, but sometimes it happens. You just have to keep your mind focused on your next opponent," he said. "Each week it gets harder and harder."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Social Graces

It's traditional, when you work in the medical field, to receive small gifts and offerings from your patients when they come for a visit. Sometimes they bring a nice "Thank You" card after surgery. Sometimes they bring a box of candy for the office to share. Occasionally you have a patient who loves to cook, and then you hit the jackpot ... homemade cookies, empanadas or brownies. On rare occasions you reach the pinnacle of patient gratitude: dessert provided by a patient who owns a restaurant. In Tucson we had an Italian restaurant owner who brought Tiramisu.

Yesterday I learned that, here in the Heartland, they give the traditional Midwestern Gift of Meat! Barbecued ribs, to be specific. Yum!

Today I was having sort of a bad day and Ev cooked a pot roast. She says that the Gift of Meat is appropriate for all occasions and will fix almost anything. I can't help but wonder if apologies here are accompanied by the Bouquet of Meat. If so, make mine more of those fantastic ribs!


Conservatize Me

I was reading a review of a book at called:

Conservatize Me: How I Tried to Become a Righty with the Help of Richard Nixon, Sean Hannity, Toby Keith, and Beef Jerky

Which is a great title, and even a great idea for a book, but doesn't sound like such a great book. The author immerses himself in conservative culture, while simultanteously cutting himself off from NPR, the New York Times, and other liberal media sources.

He found the conservative standard-bearers to be a affable, congenial bunch in private, and a manipulative, hate-spewing mob publically. He noted the pandering to the lowest-common-denominator crowd.


And what a surprise that we can't have a productive political discourse in that environment. Maybe polarizing the debate makes it easier to win if you think your position is morally right. Maybe the top brass of the government doesn't think we at the bottom are sophisticated enough to "get" subtlety in a debate. If it's not a crack on the skull, we won't notice.

I hope the Democrats take their newfound power and use it to reinvent political conversation...but I don't think they will. I think they'll go with the time-honored, "We waited a long time, and now we've got ours" approach, and they'll be just as bellicose and pig-headed in power as the Republicans.

Go ahead, Nancy Pelosi, et al. Prove me wrong. I'll gladly eat some humble pie if you clearly state a vision and work towards what's best for the nation, not just what's best for the Dems.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Beginner's Swim

Regarding that last blog entry ... uh ... that was my fault. I mean, I'm the one that got the feces all over her because I'm the one who wouldn't give up believing that somewhere under all that crap there must be a pony.

Word to the wise: sometimes all there is at the bottom of a barrel of crap is the bottom of the barrel.

So yeah, I'm a slow learner. It took me three marriages to figure out I wasn't heterosexual, and it took me two years of muttering, "what a bunch of backstabbing liars and morons!" to figure out that I should remove the AOL message boards from my "favorite places" and turn my IM and e-mail controls to "not only no, but HELL no!"

But even a slow learner can be taught.

The summer I turned five my family moved from a small mining camp to the city. My parents bought a house in a neighborhood with a community pool and they signed me up for swimming lessons. I was too short to stand on the bottom of the pool and keep my head above water at the same time, so I learned to hold my breath and bob. What I couldn't do was the one thing that would get me out of Beginner's Swim ... I couldn't make it the length of the pool. I'd try mightily, but I'd always end up flailing and out of breath halfway down the pool, dog-paddling for the side and hanging on for dear life. This went on for three summers. Miss Green and I got where we just about couldn't stand the sight of each other.

Finally, one bright and glorious Saturday morning in the summer of my 7th year, we all lined up at the deep end of the pool like every other Saturday, Miss Green blew her whistle and we all dove in. I swam like my life depended on it. I stroke, stroke, stroked and kick, kick, kicked till my lungs felt like they were about to collapse. No one was more shocked than me when I nearly knocked myself unconscious slamming into the concrete at the OTHER end of the pool. I popped my head out of the water and looked around. I was the first kid to the end! I not only swam the length of the pool, I beat everyone else! At long last, after three years of struggle and shame, I would finally get that little fish pin and the certificate of achievement proving I was no longer a Beginner, but an Intermediate Swimmer.

And then I heard that infernal whistle blasting repeatedly and Miss Green's equally shrill voice calling out, "False start! Come back and do it again!" False start??? FALSE START??? This is Beginner's Swim, not the Olympics! I hated that woman in the red Speedo with a white-hot hatred, but I was not going to spend one more summer in Beginner's, and I would swim that pool all damn day if that's what it took, so I marched myself back to the deep end, hung my toes over the edge and put my arms in the starting position again. The whistle blew. I waited half a beat to make sure it was the real thing this time and I hit the water hell bent for Intermediate Swim. I didn't even make it out of the deep end. I just sank like a rock and Miss Green had to put down her thermos of coffee and dive in to save me.

The next summer I took private lessons from the nice man who lived two houses down and had a pool in his back yard. Today I can swim like nobody's business.

At seven years old I already knew there had to be better ways to spend a Saturday morning than dog-paddling to keep your head above water to prove something to people who don't particularly care about you anyway, especially when you suspect they might actually take some perverse pleasure in watching you nearly drown. I'm even smarter at 52.

So long, AOL. Hello, Advanced Swim!


Fool Me Twice...uh...I Won't Get Fooled Again?


I stupidly let some of the old AOL board's feces get on me again. I hope this last round was really enough for me to learn the old cliche about dogs and fleas. I know there is a metaphorical home for every lonely, crazed, unemployable, mentally ill shut-in...but I don't have to let it be inside of my home...or my head.

Maybe that should be the next tattoo. Carrie? Maybe in a tasteful spiral pattern around your waist?


Dixie Chicks Peck at Bush

From The Toronto Star:

Dixie Chicks peck at Bush
Nov. 10, 2006. 01:00 AM
VANCOUVER—Maverick U.S. country group the Dixie Chicks is still sniping at U.S. President George W. Bush, especially after his Republican party was hammered in mid-term elections.
The Texas band, which has felt a backlash at home for criticizing Bush's Iraq war policy, played a sold-out concert in Vancouver Wednesday night.
Lead singer Natalie Maines couldn't resist taking a shot at the humbled Bush administration as she praised her Vancouver fans.
"Either the beer is free or you're happy that Donald Rumsfeld resigned today," Maines said, referring to Bush's once powerful defence secretary.
It was one of several pokes at Bush by Maines.

Keb Mo'

This is not particularly timely nor important to anyone except me, but I just love Keb Mo'. I've been listening to him all evening, and I think everyone should. Get thee to his website!

Or if you're okay with burning in hell, download some of his stuff from Limewire. Enough to recognize his fabulosity, and the go buy it for actual cash. And then come directly back here and thank me for pointing you in that direction.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Code of the Callboy

From The New York Times:
November 8, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor



I ONCE had a friend who did sex work, which is a nice way of saying that he was a prostitute.
He was based in Los Angeles and one of his clients was a movie star. Not just any movie star, but a top male movie star. A sex symbol. This guy used to fly my friend first class to far-flung locales, usually to unwind after a big location shoot.

Sorry, but I can’t tell you who this movie star is. It’s not that I’m afraid of being sued or that I disapprove of outing. Nope, the reason I can’t tell you the name of this movie star is, well, I don’t know it. No matter how many times I asked, no matter how much I pried, my friend simply wouldn’t tell me the guy’s name. My friend wouldn’t even tell me where he was meeting his famous client, lest the places where his films were being shot offered a telling clue.
My friend took the callboy’s code of silence seriously.

Besides the sheer scale of the hypocrisy, the Ted Haggard scandal doesn’t tell us much we don’t already know about closeted gay or bisexual men; closet cases will take enormous risks to get their needs met and will often do great harm to themselves and to those they profess to love. What’s new in the Haggard scandal — perhaps we should call it a flameout — is the refusal of Mike Jones, a former male prostitute, to honor the callboy’s code of silence, the omertà of gay hookerdom.

On the Web site where Mr. Haggard is said to have found Mr. Jones, the callboys describe themselves as discreet. That’s their solemn promise not to blab to the wife, if you’re married; to the tabloids (or prying friends), if you’re a movie star; to your congregation, if you’re one of the most powerful evangelical ministers in the country. The fear that callboys can no longer be trusted will make the lives of men like Ted Haggard that much more lonely and difficult.
Back in the bad old days — the mythical 1950s, the era social conservatives pine for — most gay men were closeted, which made it relatively easy for them to arrange discreet trysts. You could rely on the discretion of your sex partners because they were relying on yours. It was the era of mutually assured destruction, both in terms of nuclear warfare and gay sex. Your partner couldn’t reveal your secret without revealing his own.

Needless to say, a sex life infused with cold-war-style tensions didn’t lead to many healthy or lasting relationships.

Today gay and bisexual men live openly, making the modern closet a much less crowded place. While once all the best gay men were closeted, now the only adults you find in the closet are the fearful, the pathetic and the hypocritical. The men you meet in today’s closet are the ones with a great deal to lose if their secrets are exposed. They’re gay men with lucrative careers that would collapse if they came out; gay men whose obscenely wealthy families would disown them if they lived openly; or gay men leading large congregations that would dismiss them if they knew the truth about their pastor.

A less crowded closet doesn’t just mean slimmer pickings for men like Ted Haggard, but unreliable ones as well. While once you could be certain that the closeted gay man you were sleeping with would still be closeted 10 or 20 years in the future, now you never know. The closeted gay man you entrust with your secret today may be out next year. As he has nothing left to hide, your secret is no longer safe. Better hope you parted on good terms.
Which is why so many powerful closet cases turn to callboys. It’s not just the callboy’s promise of discretion, but the sense that the old dynamics — mutually assured destruction — remain in force. A callboy can’t expose your secret without exposing his own. There’s still a stigma attached to selling sex.

So why did Mike Jones speak out?

Because today it is arguably more shameful and damaging to be a hypocritical closet case than it is to be a sex worker. Even those delighted by Mr. Haggard’s disgrace — disclosure: I count myself among their number — ache for his five children, all suffering now for the sins of their father. And let me be clear: their father’s sin is not his sexual orientation, but his deceit and hypocrisy. His sin is the closet.

When Representative Mark Foley flamed out, Pat Robertson said: “Well, this man’s gay. He does what gay people do.” That lie might have worked when most gay Americans were closeted, but it doesn’t work anymore. Seventy percent of Americans today know a gay person; for straight Americans, hitting on teenagers, hiring prostitutes and snorting meth are not things their gay relatives, friends and co-workers typically do. (Or not at appreciably higher rates than their straight friends.) An openly gay man is accountable to himself, his family, his partner and his community. He is free to form healthy relationships, which is why he is far less likely to be I.M.’ing teenagers or hiring hookers than some desperate closet case.

Ultimately it was Ted Haggard’s hypocrisy — railing against homosexuals and campaigning against gay marriage while apparently indulging in sex romps with a gay escort — that prompted Mr. Jones to shove him out of the closet. The homophobia promoted by Mr. Haggard and other agents of intolerance, if I may use John McCain’s phrase (he’s not using it anymore), undermined the callboy code of silence that Mr. Haggard himself relied on. Most callboys are gay, after all, and most are out of the closet these days.

And while most callboys will continue to respect a code of silence where the average closet case is concerned, the Ted Haggards of the world have been placed on notice: You can’t have your callboy and disparage him too.

Dan Savage is the editor of The Stranger, a Seattle newsweekly, and the author of “The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family.”


Baby Katie and I are home sick today. She's winning the Pillsbury Sick-Off, though. She's barking like a seal and has a fever. I just feel like my throat's on fire.

On the bright side, this is our chance to sit around in our jammies wrapped in blankets and watch movies with the cats. We watched Chocolat, and when Lori gets home we're going to watch The Eyes of Tammy Faye. It's a Netflix movie, and we have a policy here: We never, ever watch the Netflixes without each other. Some things are sacred.

It's an exciting life we lead.

Ed Bradley

Ed Bradley Yesterday? I'm not sure which. He was a fascinating guy. Very intellegent and articulate, and also fascinatingly hip and cool. I loved to watch his interviews. He had a sort of understated skepticism that cracked me up. He seemed very level-headed in his thinking, but also had an underlying air of badness that was fun.

My favorite Ed Bradley story of all time comes from my friend Tina. She was flying to Europe on the Concorde, thanks to the largesse of her employers. She's not a very comfortable flyer, and the drinks on the Concorde were free, so she was busy generating some liquid courage. All that courage tends to end up in the bladder eventually, so she got up to go to the bathroom. While she was staggering towards the back of the plane, she stumbled and fell. Into the lap of Ed Bradley. She cleverly said, "I know you! You're Ed Bradley!" And he gave her the famous Ed Bradley eyebrow of disdain and said, "Yes." And then lifted her to her feet, so she could continue her trip to the potty.

How's THAT for reflected glory? I know someone who got drunk and made an ass of herself with Ed Bradley. I think that practically makes me a celebrity!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Democrats have retaken the House, and maybe the Senate. Montana and Virginia are still too close to call, but I have hope.

Now, the trick is to...let me put this delicately...not fuck this up. I hope the Dems are acutely aware that they're going to be under the microscope. They'd better be pure in thought, word and scandals, mimimal pork and sane policymaking. They need to look like the Anti-Republicans.

Part of my Wishlist for America would be the restoration of the Constitution (remember habeus corpus?) and a little more federal oversight on big corporations, specifically pharmaceuticals, oil and financial corps. Maybe it's time to stop packing the agencies that oversee those businesses with execs from the very companies they're supposed to we keeping an eye on. Just a thought.

Anyway, it's going to be an interesting couple of years. I can't wait to see how Bush does with some opposition. He's such a petulant baby that I expect him to really freak out when Congress closes the Federal pursestrings to his pet projects. No more no-bid contracts for KBR? Blasphemy!

So now the Dems have got some work to do. Get out of that insane war. Start managing the deficit. Undo the corporate giveaways, lax environmantal policies and global bad will created by six years of Bush's cronyism.

This may require underwear worn on the outside.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Can It be Over Now? The Cows Are Heading Home!

And here I thought I'd have nothing to blog about tonight!

I'm staying off the topic of the election until tomorrow morning. I want to see what the final results look like before I get too excited. I've had my heart broken in the last few elections...I hate to start crowing too soon.

BUT...I'm sure this is some sort of omen. I was driving home from work (at 11pm) on a fairly major 55 mph two lane highway, headed south out of Cobden. There were lights on the other side of the hill ahead, so I slowed down a little as I crested the hill.

The first thing I saw was the police lights flashing. Then I realized that the police car was driving slowly, following four cows down the northbound lane. The cows were walking single file, and looked like they knew where they were going...and they weren't the slightest bit put out by their police escort.

So...Maybe the cows HAVE come home? Where's an omen-ologist when you need one??

And oh...this is yet another reason why I'm so glad to be home. :-)

I just got back from voting.

It was pretty easy here in rural Southern Illinois. Big paper ballot, big black magic marker, cozy voting booths with bedsheets hung up for privacy. Take your ballot in the booth, uncap the marker, color in the little circles. No Diebold machines, no chads ... just stay inside the lines and drop your ballot in the little box, then slap on your "I Voted!" sticker and make a little small talk with the curly-haired two-year-old in the cute sweater poncho with the little fall colored pom-poms. Like voting ought to be!

It was quick too. Fill in all the little circles next to all the Democrats. : )

And in anticipation of the overthrow of Congress, I stopped on the way home and bought Ev a twelve-pack of Schlafly's Pale Ale so she can celebrate in style after saving lives tonight. Should the election go in a way other than the way it SHOULD go, she can use it to drown her sorrows.

I'm going to ignore the post about the mouse in the house because I'm just a little bit freaked out about the whole thing.


Prairie Safari

I got out of bed this morning, poured a cup of coffee and came into the living room to read the New York Times online. On the way, I stopped to pick up Katie's hoodie off the floor. When I did, a little deer mouse popped out of it and took off running towards the kitchen. Slipper the Hunter Cat grabbed it and carried it into the bathroom to harass at his leisure, but has subsequently lost it amongst the cabinets, wastebasket, etc. I shut the door and I'm letting them resolve it the old fashioned way: with a fight to the death. Since I still hear bodies crashing around in there, I assume the battle is ongoing.

It's Mutual of Omaha's Wild Frickin' Kingdom in this house. But I want to be Marlin Perkins, who gets to wear the safari outfits and describe the bloodshed, and not Jim the Sidekick, who has to wrestle the 8 foot long alligator into it's cage while Marlin tells the folks about Mutual of Omaha's discounted term life insurance for seniors.

The crashing in the bathroom stopped, so I went to check on the Lion and his little Christian. The mouse was exhausted and sitting docilely in the middle of the room under the watchful, sadistic eye of the cat.

He was so docile, in fact, that he let me pick him up and carry him out the door to the field behind our house. When I put him down, he ran off, but I'm sure it's temporary. He'll be back. Now that he's had a taste of indoor livin', there'll be no keeping him out.

Oh well. Slipper will be glad to see him again.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Linguistic Big Bang

For the first time in history, scholars are witnessing the birth of a language — a complex sign system being created by deaf children in Nicaragua. By LAWRENCE OSBORNE

What a fascinating story! And what an odd confluence of events must take place to have a group of people come together with no formal language skills and be forced to create one.

For the right ambiance, this story should be read with Bruce Cockburn's "Dust and Diesel" playing in the background. Snag it from won't be disappointed.

A Love For the Ages

This is the arm of my elder daughter, Carrie, commemorating our unholy union.

Who needs gay marriage when your love can be immortalized on your children, right below the powdered sugar symbol?


Wildcat Pride

The Anna-Jonesboro Wildcats continue their relentless march to Illinois High School Class 3A immortality. They beat Alton Marquette 41-7 Saturday, bringing them to 11-0 thus far.

But the important question is... How did the band look?

Baby Katie, the Fruit of my Looms, plays some tinkly percussive instrument in the AJ Marching Wildcat band. Mostly, this is because there's no orchestra here, and anything's better than taking PE. But still, I think this entitles me to feel some AJ pride. Maybe it's the special way she tinkles her little bells that spur those boys on to victory. Maybe Katie is the linchpin to the whole undefeated season!


A-hunting we will go ...

If you were Mary Cheney would you go hunting with your dad?

The October Surprise this year has been a virtual kick-line of queerdom: embarassed queers pushing each other out of the Republican closet and into rehab with their lipstick smeared, yet another state paving the road to hell by letting queers marry each other, Doogie Howswer outing himself because he doesn't want people to get the wrong impression and assume he's straight ...

The war's not going so good, the Bush/Cheney approval rating is so low that voters are a threat to turn the country over to Democrats, Pat Robertson says it's all the fault of the homosexuals and those who allow them to live ... Mary Cheney is a big old lesbian ...

and Cheney's got a gun.


Wabbit Season! Dyke Season!

Dick Cheney's going hunting again, and this time he's taking his famous dyke daughter, Mary, with him. Apparantly he's healed from the trauma of shooting his best friend in the face, and he's ready for an outing with Mary. Although it's tempting to speculate about the political advantages of shooting her, in reality, Dick needs to shoot an awful lot of people to get out of the hole he and Junior have dug for themselves. Too many people are talking about where the bodies are buried...and it's hard to get them all to agree to a "hunting trip."

If this was Evie's Perfect World, the Bushies and Diebold would get caught tampering with votes, but it wouldn't matter in the face of the overwhelming rejection of the Republican Agenda.

Dick Cheney would be caught unawares on an open microphone talking about his plans for world domination and the assasination of his openly gay daughter.

Oh...and maybe George Bush would be recorded on someone's voice mail buying meth and scheduling a tryst with a gay male hooker.

Is that too much to ask?


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Quaking Bogs

I'm Kwachie, and Ev invited me to join her on her blog, so this is an introductory post of sorts.

To the right you will note a picture of Volo bog near Chicago, courtesy of Richard Seaman. It's the only official quaking bog in Illinois, and it bears a striking resemblance to one of our favorite places -- an area of Horseshoe Lake called "Wicker Dump."

Horseshoe Lake is as deceptive in its own way as the quakiest of bogs, covering (as it does) 1890 acres of Alexander County to an average depth of ... 2.5 feet. That's right, I said two and one half feet. But you'd never guess it's that shallow, since the water is roughly the color of strong coffee with a visibility of -- oh -- maybe a couple of inches.

Bordering the southern edge of the northern forests and the northern edge of the southern forests, we have an interesting mixture of flora, and Horseshoe Lake has been described as looking more like a Louisiana bayou than an Illinois lake. Bald cypress and tupelo trees, vast expanses of water lilies and prodigious amounts of duckweed make Horseshoe Lake a primary refuge for water fowl and migratory birds along the Mississippi River flyway. Not to mention it's a darn nice place to read and fish, and you can get a good greasy burger and a cold beer at Ouida's Bar and Grill next to the spillway.

So what do the Volo bog and Horseshoe Lake have to do with anything, and why is this post about quaking bogs anyway?? For one thing, after 50 years of living unhappily in the beige aridity of the Desert Southwest, I'm absolutely thrilled to live where places like these not only exist, but are sometimes found almost in my own backyard. For another thing, both Horseshoe Lake and yours truly may not look like they're from around here, but I'm glad we both are. I tell Ev all the time (although I'm still not sure she believes it) that moving to Southern Illinois doesn't feel like moving to be where she came from ... it feels like coming home myself.

But mostly I was remembering that way back when Ev and I were first dating she once compared me to a quaking bog. Having never heard of one, and having no idea what that might be, I wasn't sure it was a good thing, but she assured me it had to do with unseen depths and deceptive surface appearances -- and the more I thought about that, the better I liked the comparison. Now she says I ought to write about the things that go on under my particular surface. So here I am.