Friday, August 31, 2007

Recovering from Katrina

Here's a story that ran recently in a New Orleans paper, about my brother and SIL -- I might have mentioned them a few times. They got flooded out in Katrina and spent nearly two years in a FEMA trailer, while my SIL, basically on her own, with help from my brother on the weekends, and the rest of my family too, of course, when they could, rebuilt the house. They moved back into the house this past July.

The article makes them sound all peppy and can-do, which they are, mind you. But it downplays what they went through, the nearly two years of living in a trailer the size of my office at school (I have a very small office) and being jerked around by FEMA and the Road Home people until they were driven to tears and the heat and the misery and having to live with relatives for months on end...

Anyway, still, they're great survivors, Ben and Marlis, and I'm deeply impressed with what they've done.

And the house? Amazing.

Yes, and the Sky is Blue

Which is what I have to say about this:

Polk County Judge Robert Hanson struck down Iowa's prohibition on same-sex marriage Thursday.

In his 63-page decision, Hanson wrote that the statute excluding same-sex couples from marriage "violates Plaintiff's due process and equal protection rights for the aforementioned reasons including, but not limited to, the absence of a rational relationship to the achievement of any legitimate governmental interest." Therefore the law is "unconstitutional and invalid."

Also, I would like to say, about time.

Really, what rational reason exists for denying gay folk the right to marry?

Some religions think it's not okay?

So let their churches preach it to their congregations. This is not a theocracy, last time I checked. It's a free country -- anyway, we're claiming it is. It's a place where religions do not, in fact, get to make our laws, but where reason makes our laws. No reasonable objection exists for barring gay marriage, despite the religious right's many attempts to create one; therefore, yes, gay people should be able to marry.

It's a no-brainer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Whining Part III

Spent the day at various clinics, watching the kid get stuck and scanned and talking her off the ledge. She's only nine, but yikes can she panic.

We're looking at, among other things now, celiac disease. Massively life-altering but not so bad otherwise. I think I vote for that one if I can't have the Magic Unicorn. (That's the one where she's allergic to yellow peas, so we just eliminate yellow peas from her diet and....)

For the CT scan, she had to drink a barium shake. First off, she won't eat *anything* these days -- getting her to eat half a bite of banana for breakfast is like a three-act drama. So a two-pint barium shake? I look at the tech in dismay and amazement. Are you high? I wanted to inquire. I get three sips of water into her, I'm doing the happy dance, woman.

Second, apparently barium shakes do not taste very nice.

Nonetheless, by dint of much threatening and some judicious bribery (cost me three books afterwards at Books a Million) I got about a pint of it into her.

Then they stuck her so they could run her full of iodine. She actually didn't protest that part so much. This was after drawing the blood for the blood tests.

I don't even want to think about what this is doing to our medical bills.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

File Under

Conversations I Never Expected to Have:

The Kid and I have both picked up a head cold, here at the start of the fall semester...

Th kid, passing through the front room, and by my desk, sheds a used tissue, idly, on the bookcase by my desk.

Me: Hey!

The kid: (innocently): What?

Me: Here's a quiz for you. When you're done with a tissue, what do you do with it? (a) Save it for your baby book (b) Leave it on the bookcase because everyone wants to admire your used tissues (c)---

The kid: I wasn't done with it. I was going to use that tissue some more.

Me: Go and throw it away and do it NOW.

The kid: (rolls eyes)

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Here's a truly horrifying glimpse of the Winger Worldview.

Over there on WorldNetDaily, Ilana Mercer tells us why it's not a crime for Michael Vick to torture and slaughter his dogs.

They're his dogs, that's why.

Apparently if you own something, you have the right to do whatever you want to with it.

Dog fighting, which has been outlawed in all 50 states, is certainly uncivilized and cruel (although not everything that is immoral ought to be illegal). But even more uncivilized than Vick's alleged dog fighting violations has been the zeal among media pack animals to convict him. Vick is not a thief, a murderer or a rapist. Neither has he defrauded anyone. He is a gifted athlete – and an obviously aggressive young man, who may have channeled his abundant aggression into a blood sport, as men have done throughout time.

Well, you know, this is an interesting argument.

If you're a gifted athlete, you can do what you want?

If you don't rape or defraud anyone, it's okay to torture animals?

If men have done something throughout time, it's cool to keep on doing it?

(People think this way?)

Mercer continues:

Animal-rights activists share a humanity-hating agenda with environmentalists. The first would like ultimately to see the State proceed against anyone who slaughters, markets, experiments on, or even eats and wears animals; the latter wish to subordinate man to nature through codified law.

Human beings ought to care for and be kind to animals, but a civilized society is one that never threatens a man's liberty because of the callousness with which he has treated the livestock he owns. Members of a society in which peace and liberty are valued above all would have settled for boycotting Vick's games and merchandize. They might have urged the NFL to discipline, even fire, him. But they would not have called for his incarceration.

Now what now?

Environmentalist and animal-rights activists hate humanity? Say what?

We should never incarcerate folk for doing bad things to the livestock they own? Really? So if, say, a fella in Oklahoma sets his dog on fire in his front yard (as one did not too long ago, in a domestic dispute with his soon-to-be-ex-wife) we should just -- what? Say, well, shit, it's his dog, he can do what he wants with it?

Mercer should (a) reconsider her position. Animals are not sofas. They are not trucks. They feel and suffer, and this is why we don't think people should be allowed to mistreat them. As a society, this is what we have decided and this is what our laws say.

Also (b) someone who will set a dog on fire will probably do bad and evil things to humans as well. Someone who thinks it's nifty to torture and slaughter dogs the way Vick does probably doesn't think much of humans, either. Someone -- like, oh, Mercer -- who thinks animals can be shifted into the category of sofas, may just have no trouble shifting say, Muslims, may we speculate, into the category of sofas as well?

Another reason why we don't slide down certain slopes in actual civilized societies.

I'm just saying.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Well, yes...

This gets it right.

(Via Tom Tomorrow, of course.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Drinking Coffee

This essay here, on drinking coffee, has me thinking about the whole issue, not just of drinking coffee, though certainly, yes, of drinking coffee (I am an inveterate drinker of coffee, consuming at least two pots of Cafe du Monde regular grind with hot milk and sugar per day, and sometimes on the weekends a bit of rum or brandy stirred in), but of why, exactly (a) coffee is so vital to my world, our world, and (b) drinking coffee should make so many people so itchy.

Because seriously? If there is a substance on this planet that seems so obviously perfect, coffee is it. It does not intoxicate. It contains -- get this, my dudes -- antioxidants! The substance is good for you! Evidence is rolling in daily that it not only does not cause various cancers that AMA tries once to claim it did, it reduces chances of these cancers. And? Fewer cavities! Also? While doing all these things? It makes its consumers more alert, efficient, and smarter. Also?
More tolerant.

Just kidding. I just threw that last bit in there.

So why would anyone be hating on coffee?

Which -- yikes! -- so people ever.

I remember my father, the lectures I got. "You're not still drinking coffee?" he would demand.

"I am," I would declare.

He would frown. Put on his dad face. "You don't need it," he would say, fiercely. "You don't need that stuff."

Reason not the need! What do we need? Bread, water, air, heat.

And coffee.

Some religions, as you know, and not just the LDS, preach against consuming coffee. This one does not mystify me in the least. Anyone who has awakened on on cold morning and started coffee brewing, poured hot milk into the cup, stirred in sugar, and taken that first hit knows why the Jesus camp preaches against coffee. Who needs Christ when you have coffee?

Here is what coffee does for us, and does for us without cost: warms our bellies: fuels our minds: heats our brains: re-ignites our lagging spirit: sparks the low fire of the imagination: provides some small gift we can easily give to and accept from one another (want a coffee? Sure!): bonds the world. Coffee is humanism.

One of my professors in graduate school said he knew western civilization was in bad trouble when graduate students started drinking diet Pepsi instead of coffee. I laughed at the time. He scowled at me. "I'm not kidding."

He wasn't.

Also, he was right.

Get your mr. coffees out!

Save humanism now!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Heat!!

Make it stop!!

(1) 103 again today.

103 (sez weather page) for tomorrow.

I would sacrifice Virgin Ben's virginity (if he were within my reach) to make this stop. Which that is DESPERATE, y'all, because, ick.

(2) Back to the U. tomorrow. Not teaching. Workshops. My, would I prefer teaching. 103 degrees and teaching? Not such a good mix.

(3) I'd reading, as deep background for True Grit, a book called _Co. Aytch: A Sideshow of the Big Show_, a memoir written by a corporal on the southern side in the Civil War. It might be the best book I've ever read on that war.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I cannot bear the heat / Whining part 2

(1) It is still 105 here. Every day. The weather page says we're under SEVERE HEAT WARNING until tomorrow night, when it's going to break, and then we'll only have 97 as our high. Oy. I can't function! Malfunction! Malfunction! Even though we have AC and use it and even though we wear almost nothing inside (shorts and no shoes and wife-beaters -- that's me and the kid and I will not even MENTION what mr. delagar wears or rather does not wear) we are still so hot we can barely move during the day and at night it is one or two in the morning before we cool down enough to sleep. The AC cannot keep up with 105 degrees, and I can't turn it down far enough anyway, not unless I want a $500 electric bill this month.

(2) The kid is having belly pain. What does this mean? No one knows. She has had it since last spring. Gets worse after she eats. Gets better when she exercises. Accompanied by belching. No fever. She's lost four pounds since April, mainly because since it's connected to eating, she won't eat. She also won't watch TV or go to movies, since she's convinced it gets worse when she does these things. She's convinced it gets better when she reads, so, well, that's good -- I guess. Except for the bit about how she won't eat. Her doctor and I are flummoxed. We did an ultrasound today, and found nothing. Did bloodwork in June, and found nothing. Both prescription and over-the-counter acid reducers do very little. Aside from the obvious (that the kid is a whack) anyone have ideas?

(3) I have been trying to get my character down a street for THREE DAYS now. It's hot where he is, they're having a bad heat wave (hey -- I wonder why?) also he's drinking too much rum (the fuck is up with this?) and his kid is having issues (dude -- what's going on? Parallel universes, ya think?). Why can't I get him up the road? How do I get him up the road? What's the de-e-eal?

(4) It's too hot to cook here. What can we eat?

(5) Parents' meeting at her school tonight. School starts Monday. For her -- yay! -- but also for me. Oh, well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Save Me!

mr. delagar and the kid have discovered a new game, and a new way to drive mama insane.

It's my fault, actually. Last night near bedtime, while the kid was having her I-don't-want-to-go-sleep melt down, I discovered an undone puzzle in one of her magazines. You get a clue, see, and you have to find two rhyming words that fit the clue. Like...overweight feline? Fat cat. Treat at the beach? Sandy candy.

mr. delagar and the kid? They leapt on this. Ddn't have to worry about going to sleep blues anymore! Until one in the morning! I swear! They're trading these thing back and forth!

"Squashed head gear?"

"Flat hat!"

"Dessert in a Penthouse?"

"High pie!"

"Rejected reporter?"

"Despondent correspondent!"

"A poster for keeping record of intestinal mishaps?"

"Fart chart!"

Oh, indeed. It was charming.

And today it continues.

"Someone who harrasses old people?"

"Geezer teaser!"

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Weather forecast says 102, 103, 104 all week long, no rain, no break in sight.

I *hate* this kind of weather.

The kid and I go to the library* every other day, huddle in the dusk of the living room through most of the day, take our walks at sunset (when, even so, the heat is so fierce it hurts, scorching and burning the skin of our faces and feet), moving as little as possible while outside the sun blasts down, vicious on the leaves of the maple and sycamore in the backyard. Big Dog lies collapsed in the hallway, the coolest part of the house. Spike hide under the white chair, growling when I try to force him to go outside: not that I blame him.

I want fall.

*though, a bright point, the kid did find a brilliant book at the library this morning: It Was A Dark and Stormy Night, by Allen and Janet Ahlberg. It's so good we've read it outloud to one another three times now, and it is far from a short book. The kid's favorite part is the Thingy in the moat; my favorite is the socialist uprising among the brigands.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Little Mermaid

The kid is having *issues* with The Little Mermaid.

You'll recall we've been working on fairy tales, while we write a revision for that contest.


She is deeply upset at the utter travesty Disney perpetuated on HCA's "Little Mermaid." Not, mind you, that we wholly approve of HCA's original (cough*patriarchy*oppressed*cough) version of the story -- but DISNEY's abortion of a version!!

The kid is deeply upset. Nor do the cute songs and Sebsation the Sea Crab make up for the appalling revision. Not in her strict accounting, anyway. She demands to know why Disney would do such a thing.

I tell her I have one word for her.

She replies that Disney had better NEVER make a version of Romeo and Juliet. (Her favorite story, ever since she saw Shakespeare in Love with her daddy.)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Summer Break

I finished grading all the exams and essays from Summer II last night at just past midnight -- finding only one plagiarized essay in this semester's batch, but it was quite an effort -- calculated the grades, and got them in this morning, just under the wire.

Now I am done with teaching until August 20th, though I have to return for pre-school conferencing on the 17th. You will see this gives me, what, six days, free for writing and research?

What luxury!

I have just returned, btw, from taking the kid to the public library, to stock her up on Chelm books and poetry books, in the hopes of keeping *her* quiet so that I *can* do some writing and research.

We'll see.

It's going to be over 100 here, all week, also. So at least I won't be tempted to spend the week outdoors.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Testing, Testing

All right, let's see...

This is a test.

I've been working on that fairy tale, for the contest with the kid, and now I've opened a new blog, to post it on. Having trouble getting it to work...

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Fairy Tale for 2007

So mr. delagar and I belong to this writing group, that meets once a week in my shabby living room.

This means that, once a week, the shabby living room, and all attendant rooms, must be (more or less) cleaned up, since, even if we do live like wild monkeys, my bourgeois upbringing wants me to hide that fact.

Tonight's meeting, though, has been cancelled, since all the members have commitments elsewhere, which the kid found out last night, after we had cleaned up the house.

She flung herself on the living room floor in dismay. "Do you mean I cleaned up for nothing!!!"

"No, it wasn't for nothing," I said, lying patently. "It was because the house was in chaos. Now it's not. We don't just clean up because people are coming over, you know."

She gave me a look of open disgust.

"We clean up other times," I insisted.

"What's the point of cleaning up?" she demanded. "It'll be chaos by tomorrow afternoon again!"

"Well, then we'll clean it up again," I said.

"Why clean things up when they'll just be chaos again! What's the point of that!"

I laughed. "Welcome to your life, sweetness."

"Well, I'm not going to do it! I'll just live in chaos! I'm not cleaning up while some guy," she flung a look toward mr. delagar, who was rendering video, "sits around!"

"Ah," I said, because this was a separate issue, which I hadn't known we were talking about. "Well."

"I'm not!" she insisted.

"Don't marry a guy who's been raised in the patriarchy, then," I advised, not adding, good luck with that one.

I didn't have to, of course. She stood glaring at me.

"I'm not!" she yelled.

"No one is going to make you," I said gently.

She stomped away down the hallway.

mr. delagar, not having heard a word of this, apparently, went on fucking about with his video, wholly and entirely oblivious to us both.

Friday, August 03, 2007

R U Rainman?

Here is a test that's spose to tell you.

I scored a 21, which means I'm very nearly on the spectrum. Ha! Like I didn't know that.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Iraq Again

Because Echidne reminds us.

And don't miss swampcracker's rant in the comments.