Friday, December 05, 2008

Yodel-a-e-oooooo


Well, as my international blogger friends like to say, "one more sleep" until I leave for Switzerland tomorrow. I still have so much to do (to prepare not just for the work part, but also to get everything in place for those who will be helping take care of Lucas while I'm gone.)

I'm a little anxious (10 days is a LONG time to be away from my loved ones!) but also excited about the adventure and the presentation I'll be giving. I know this stuff like the back of my hand, so it's really fun to be able to show that off.)

I'll hopefully have some internet access and time to post from time to time. In the meantime, keep shopping on Amazon!!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Prepare-for-the-Christmas-Madness Eve

If you're going to shop via Amazon again this year, please do it through the links on my blog if you can!! Lots of vet bills again this year, and every little bit helps.

What have I been doing lately? READING MY KINDLE!!! I absolutely love it. Buy one for someone you love...



And Happy Turkey Day!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Panthergirl - International Woman of Mystery



Oh, I've been such a bad blogger this year. Between work, home and Facebook... I've just neglected my poor blog. Hope to turn that around soon.

But for now, I need the help of my traveling and international blog readers. I'm off to Switzerland from 12/6 to 12/16 on business. I am staying in FOUR different hotels (one night when I arrive, the Lady's First Design Hotel. Then on Monday I head up by cable car to the Rigi Hostellerie for my meeting in the mountains. Then, on the 12th, I head back down to center city to stay at the Ema House until Monday the 15th when I will move again but to a hotel near the Zurich airport (unspecified at this time) for one last meeting before I head home on the 16th.

WHEW!!!

What I need from you guys are ideas of things to do from Friday the 12th through Sunday the 14th, while I have down-time in Zurich. I'd like to take a little side trip to Lucerne, but am also open to ideas of things to do and see.

I'm going to try and learn a little more German than I already know (otherwise I'll be getting nothing but pens, pencils and kisses the whole time I'm there, in quantities from one to ten.)

Mit freundlichen GrĂ¼ssen ,
PG

Update: I'm going to spend the second weekend in Lucerne... hotel still undecided... all recommendations are welcome! I'm leaning towards "The Hotel", although one called "Hotel Krone" looks interesting too, but saw varied reviews on that one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A President We Can Be Proud Of



What can I say? Last night was more emotional for me than I had ever thought it would be. I knew I would be ecstatic to see Barack Obama become our next President, but I didn't realize how deeply moving it would be to witness. John McCain appeared to have recovered his marbles and delivered a gracious and beautiful concession speech. We didn't have to listen to Sarah Palin. And Barack's acceptance address just shook me to the core.

We are realists... we know that he is going to have a steep pile of crap to shovel us out of (thanks, Dubya). But if you didn't feel a collective raising of the country's spirit last night then you have to be dead inside. Even Sean Hannity admitted that his hotel REVERBERATED at the announcement of Barack's win.

The country is smiling this morning. The world is smiling this morning. And we can finally stop cringing when our President represents us to that world.

President Obama. Pinch me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bob the Hairdresser

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With all of the recent "Joe the Plumber" talk, I felt it was time to edit and re-post my list of people more aptly named for their professions:

Bob the Hairdresser
Jim the Personal Trainer
Bill the Accounts Receivable Mgr.
John the Plumber
Joe the Starbucks Barrister
Tom the Cat Groomer
Taylor the Seamstress
Chuck the Major League Pitcher
Pete the Gardener
Mike the Sound Designer
Jay the Birdwatcher
Sue the Lawyer
Mary the Justice of the Peace
Wanda the Travel Agent
Cosmo the Astronomer
Frank the Hot Dog Vendor
Patty the Short Order Cook
Penny the Coin Collector
Sandy the Lifeguard
Doug the Archaeologist
Jimmy the Burglar
Philip the Gas Station Attendant
Dolly the Mover
Cole the Chimney Sweep
Lily the Florist
Brad the Carpenter
Art the Curator
Mark the Graffiti Artist
Brian the Pickle Maker
Lou the Janitor
Earl the Web Designer (I love that one)
Jack the Auto Mechanic
Hugh the Hair Colorist
Willie the Director of Horror Movies
Laurie the Truck Driver

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meet the Press Delivers a Colin Blow

Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama was superb. I was SO delighted that he minced no words... about Sarah Palin, about McCain's judgement, about the tone of the attacks against Obama... none of it. If you didn't see it, please take the time to listen.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not a Master-debate

OK, so the "Town Hall" last night was pretty much of a snooze across the board. The format was horrible, the "rules" were stupid, and nothing much new was said.

My key takeaways?

First of all, McCain, I’M NOT YOUR FRIEND. If he said “my friends” one more time I was going to scream.

Second, McCain knows how to capture Osama Bin Laden but isn’t going to do it, or help do it, unless we elect him President? My, how patriotic.

Third, I almost spit my coffee out (yes, I needed coffee to stay awake during this one, sorry) when he referred to Obama as “That one.” How vile!!! Even for him.



Fouth, the best word for McCain last night was “curmudgeonly”.

Fifth: Obama missed a BIG opportunity with that last question ("What don't you know and how are you going to learn it?"). He could have said, “No President knows everything, which is why I’ve chosen an intelligent, experienced running mate and will continue to surround myself with intelligent, experienced people in my Administration.” Gazingo, Palin.

And last, when I saw McCain refuse to shake Obama's hand…. I was stunned.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Guilt by Association



What the current "guilt by association" tactic of the McCain camp drives home for me is that I could NEVER run for public office. You know why?

- Because I was friends with a girl in HS whose mother worked in a department store, stole credit card numbers and was charged with grand larceny. Her Mafia friends used their "influence" to get the charges dropped.

- Because I used to "pal around" with some shady characters at a local bar, some of whom would chat about their stints in prison (and here I thought "Shanksville" was a town in Pennsylvania).

- Because once, when I was in third grade, I went to a local candy store with a friend and she stole a pack of gum. I didn't report her to the police. I didn't do anything. As such, I silently condoned her behavior.

Now, you might say that anyone who would think that these past indiscretions disqualify me from public office is pretty desperate. Yeah, I think so too.

Enjoy the debate tonight.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Why Palin Matters

If I hear another pundit say "We don't vote for the Vice President" when pooh-poohing the incompetence of Sarah "Don't Confuse Me With the Facts" Palin, I'm going to scream.



Tom Brokaw mentioned Dan "Punchline" Quayle as an example of someone who lost the debate but was part of a winning ticket anyway.

Can someone PLEASE point out the fundamental difference here?



It matters because Palin's running mate is a 72-year-old, not particularly healthy individual which makes the chances of her winding up as President frighteningly real. Are you kidding me?

Thankfully, I think most people in this country (even if they aren't admitting it out loud) are not ok with that scenario. Sure, she didn't come out with any serious one-liners last night (except for the fact that she doesn't know what an Achilles Heel is), she had crib notes. She didn't answer several questions at all, but redirected to the talking points that she had boned up on.

If the Republicans are really so comfortable with her now, let her loose on the media FOR REAL. Have her do an open press conference. Put her on the Sunday morning news show circuit. Get her on The Today Show and let Matt Lauer have at her. As Campbell Brown so beautifully stated, it's sexist not to.

I'd like to be able to ignore her, but the VERY REAL possibility that this person could fake her way into the highest office in the nation scares the bejeezus out of me.

Unscripted

THIS is how you need to see her:


Watch CBS Videos Online



Yes, Sarah. The duck hunting accident was the WORST thing that Dick Cheney did. Uh huh.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

If I Were Moderating the VP Debate...

...here are the questions I'd be asking Sarah Palin:

1. Why do you appear unable to utter the phrase "global warming"? When did this term morph into "climate change"? Doesn't that imply that the earth could be freezing over? (like hell would before I'd vote for you)

2. If life begins at conception, will all American pregnant women be able to claim their zygotes as dependents on their income tax returns, under your (god forbid) administration? If not, why not?

3. How many children have you, personally, adopted? How many of those are non-white, crack-addicted, or the two-headed variety produced via incest? Yeah, I thought not.

4. How do you define "feminist"? I'm having a real problem with that one.

5. You intimated to Charlie Gibson that Barack Obama is probably sorry he didn't pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate. Do you realize, had he done so, that you'd still be an obscure Governor of a state of 250,000 people? Do you honestly think that you're a substitute for Hillary Clinton? "I knew Hillary Clinton, Governor, and believe me.... you're no Hillary Clinton."

Move over, Gwen Ifill...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Paul Newman




The very first man I had a major crush on....

I used to make out with my pillow and pretend it was him in "Hud". Hey, I was only about 10... give me a break! (my sister used to make out with the mirror...THAT was telling!)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What Would Sarah Palin Name YOU?




Find out here with the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator! Mine would be "Shove Maggot". Nice, eh?

Well, when your mother names you after the math class she probably failed* ("Trig"), you gotta wonder. Then again, the Little Rascals had a mule named "Algebra".

*See, "Alaska produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." Yeah, 3.5% is "nearly" 20%...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Biggest Political Rally in Alaskan History ...





From Mudflats:

"‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ Rally is HUGE!

I attended the Welcome Home rally for Sarah Palin this morning. Hooo. It was an experience. About a thousand (maybe) hard-core Palin supporters showed up to hear her speak at the new Dena’ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.

After shaking it off with a good double shot of espresso, and a brisk walk back to my car, it was time to head to the Alaska Women Reject Palin rally. It was to be held outside on the lawn in front of the Loussac Library in midtown Anchorage. Home made signs were encouraged, and the idea was to make a statement that Sarah Palin does not speak for all Alaska women, or men. I had no idea what to expect.

The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.

So, as I jettisoned myself from the jaws of the ‘Drill Baby Drill’ crowd and toward the mystery rally at the library, I felt a bit apprehensive. I’d been disappointed before by the turnout at other rallies. Basically, in Anchorage, if you can get 25 people to show up at an event, it’s a success. So, I thought to myself, if we can actually get 100 people there that aren’t sent by Eddie Burke, we’ll be doing good. A real statement will have been made. I confess, I still had a mental image of 15 demonstrators surrounded by hundreds of menacing “socialist baby-killing maggot” haters.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t tailgating when I saw the crowd in front of the library or I would have ended up in somebody’s trunk. When I got there, about 20 minutes early, the line of sign wavers stretched the full length of the library grounds, along the edge of the road, 6 or 7 people deep! I could hardly find a place to park. I nabbed one of the last spots in the library lot, and as I got out of the car and started walking, people seemed to join in from every direction, carrying signs.

Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

Then, the infamous Eddie Burke showed up. He tried to talk to the media, and was instantly surrounded by a group of 20 people who started shouting O-BA-MA so loud he couldn’t be heard. Then passing cars started honking in a rhythmic pattern of 3, like the Obama chant, while the crowd cheered, hooted and waved their signs high.

So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart, sit back, and enjoy the photo gallery. Feel free to spread the pictures around (links are appreciated) to anyone who needs to know that Sarah Palin most definitely does not speak for all Alaskans. The citizens of Alaska, who know her best, have things to say."

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blind Dating, Italian Style

For Photo Friday: Relationships, an appropriate rerun:


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One of the reasons I am so puzzled by my mother, who can be seemingly soulless, is because her parents were incredibly soulful. They were sweet and funny and extremely loving, and since they lived upstairs when I was a chld, I credit them with teaching me everything I know about being a good person.

My grandfather had a particulary interesting sense of humor. In February of 1907, he wrote a letter to a woman he knew in Italy. He had come to the US ten years earlier on the SS Barbarosa (I like to think of it as the SS Vinnie Barbarino), and was ready to get himself a wife. So, he wrote this letter asking the woman to send him one of her daughters. I don't think he was very much more specific than that. He sent a picture of himself, a handsome 21 year-old man with a full head of red hair. My grandmother (all of 17 years old), selflessly offered herself up as she knew that her mother was struggling to feed all of her children, and that making this sacrifice would help ease the burden. She did this knowing, too, that she might never see her family again.

She boarded the SS Patria on February 5th, traveling "steerage" which meant packed like sardines in the lower quarters of the ship, and arrived at Ellis Island after sixteen grueling days at sea.

After the immigration process, she was taken to the Bushwick section of Brooklyn to live briefly with a cousin. There, she met the man she was going to marry. The only problem? The picture he had sent was a little, er, outdated. He was, in fact, 31 years old, fat and bald. According to my grandmother (in her adorable little accent that she never lost) "I cry for a year!"

Probably due to the extremely reduced expectations that people of that generation had for happiness, they remained married for over 60 years. In all of that time, much of which was spent on the 2nd floor of our house, I remember them having only one fight... and that was a dispute over what the weatherman had predicted for that day.

She was a feminist before her time (even cutting her hair when she arrived in America and not piercing her daughters' ears. She refused to be bound by old-world traditions). He was the "mayor" of our block, playing with all the kids and tossing lit firecrackers at their feet while yelling "Dance-a! Dance-a!"

And so, I say "Salud" to Sal and Lucy.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Coming Together for Nie Nie



If you have not seen or heard the story of the woman behind The Nie Nie Dialogues, please click on the link to her blog. She is a popular blogger who, along with her husband, was in a plane crash and both suffered severe burns and remain in critical condition. Her blog readers have come together and raised over $100,000 to help them (and their four young children).

This story touched me in particular because of my own online experience with a community of women coming together to help the family of a women we "met" on a message board WAY back in 1996. I posted about this awhile ago, but thought I'd repost it today. Anyone who thinks that there is no such thing as the kindness of strangers really needs to read this, and read the story of Nie Nie as well:


I first went online (via AOL) in 1994 when I was pregnant with my son. At that time, AOL was more of a content site than an access site, and was filled with message boards on every imaginable topic. Since I was pregnant, I gravitated to boards about that and childbirth, and continued to read and contribute to them while my son grew. One board I read from time to time was the Infertility board, only because I was interested in the process of IVF (as opposed to the process of "ah crap! forgot to use my diaphragm!").

There was a woman who posted on that board named Heather. She was 28, and she and her husband had been trying to get pregnant for eight years. She had lots of fibroid tumors but had finally been able to have successful surgery to remove them all and was thrilled to be pregnant. Because of the unusual nature of her surgery, Dr. Max Gomez did a story about her on the local NYC evening news, complete with the happy ending...she was going to have a baby.

We all followed Heather's progress on the board...she was SO exuberant and couldn't wait to have this baby. Finally, her husband posted that she was in labor and that he would come back to report everything. And then, nothing. A day passed, two days passed...nothing. One of the women from the board ultimately posted that Heather had a baby girl via C-section, but had hemhorraghed seriously and was in a coma. Eight days later, she passed away. We were all devestated...some of us had successfully given birth already (my son was a year old), but some were still pregnant and terrified.

As a group, we tried to think of things we could do for her husband and family. We decided to hold a "memorial service" for her online, in a chatroom. We figured we could get about 50 women to show up. I knew that some of the women were "crafty" (not me) and came up with the idea of each woman creating a piece of artwork in a 6x6 square that the crafty women could turn into quilt pieces. Then, they would assemble all the squares and we'd send the quilt to Heather's daughter.

I remembered that Max Gomez had interviewed Heather and thought he would want to know that she had passed away. He was shocked and saddened when I called with the news. Then, I told him about what we were going to do for her daughter. In 1996, online relationships were not as common as they are today. I knew that what we were planning was pretty amazing...50 women coming together to support the family of a person they had never met.

He asked if he and a camera crew could come to my house and film the online memorial as it took place. Since he was going to interview Heather's husband a few days later, I offered to send along a few of Lucas' things that he had outgrown. The news piece aired and CNN even did a short segment on it.

As with most of my stories, this one has an amazing ending. Heather's husband called to thank me and stayed in touch via email. When he received the completed quilt, he sent pictures of his little girl hugging it. He became very involved with a national infertility group and, when I last heard from him, had married the woman who heads the organization. His little girl had lost her mother, but gained a new blended family with a stepmom and three siblings who love her.

What's that saying about doors and windows?

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Bizarro World

Many thanks to blogfriend April for directing me to this.

I love Jon Stewart.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder...and the Belly Larger




From the Chicago Tribune:

"Palin addressed teen pregnancy prevention in her 2006 run for governor, indicating on a questionnaire that she favored abstinence-until-marriage education over explicit sex education programs, school-based clinics and condom distribution in schools. The high school that Bristol Palin attended for part of last year, Wasilla High School, teaches abstinence in health class, its principal said."

I think all of this is just the tip of the Alaskan iceberg, and I can't wait for the rest of it to surface. McCain is a maverick, alright. And this should be a good indication of how he goes about making incredibly important decisions. He would have been better off throwing a dart.

I'm totally enjoying the conservative spin on all of this... "It happens in all families" (yes, I heard a delegate say that), "How wonderful that she's not having an abortion!" (and isn't it great that she has a CHOICE in that matter, people??). I've yet to hear the rationalization for this mother of 5 holding down a more-than-fulltime job and letting "strangers" raise her kids. I've spent enough time on various mommy-message-boards and took a shellacking for being the working mother of 2, having holier-than-thous asking me why I "bothered having children" if I wasn't going to raise them myself, etc. Now it seems that St. Sarah of Palin somehow escapes those judgments?

Anyone know how old the father of Bristol's baby is? Wouldn't it be just the best if he's 30? And how appropriate that the daughter of this modern-day Annie Oakley is having a shotgun wedding!

Hey look... I don't care who gets knocked up and whether they keep their baby or enter into wedded juvenile bliss. What I care about is this off-the-wall, impulsive choice-- a person who could EASILY wind up running this country if (god forbid) McCain wins this election and chokes on a chicken bone. (see? I didn't even make an old-man joke)

My sister had a great theory... maybe he really doesn't want to be President after all, and purposely sabotaged the campaign? Stranger things have happened...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Republican Logic




OK, so let me get this straight: women who supported Hillary Clinton are now going to vote for John McCain because he chose a woman to be his running mate? A woman who is the polar opposite, politically, from Hillary Clinton?

Based on that logic, men must REALLY be having a tough time deciding who to vote for. In every election. Which penis should I choose??

What an insult to women everywhere. Seriously.

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I wonder how the radical conservative SAHMs are going to deal with the fact that this woman has five children, one of whom has Down's Syndrome, yet she WORKS. She lets "someone else" raise her children. Curious to hear the spin on that one.

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I'm sorry to see both the Olympics and the summer end.

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Fall TV I'm looking forward to:

True Blood on HBO
Survivor
The Amazing Race
Dancing with the Stars (only because of the hilarious cast. As Joel said on The Soup this weekend, half the cast appeared on a 1978 episode of The Love Boat)
Ugly Betty
Grey's Anatomy (although I think this will be the last season, and probably should be)
Entourage
Nip/Tuck (not sure what the return date is, though)

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I sure hope the movie version of "The Secret Life of Bees" does justice to the book, but I'm not very hopeful.

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Might be taking my kids to the So You Think You Can Dance tour, because my company sponsors it! Waiting with bated breath (or "baited breath" as they say on the Internets) to see if I score some tickets. My two will be apoplectic if we get them.

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Best of luck to our friends on the Gulf Coast. The anniversary of Katrina and its aftermath is something we should never, ever forget. Bush should be facing criminal charges as a result of his inaction, and/or impeachment. But I forgot... we only punish Presidents who get blow jobs. Right.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Sunshine Boys

So, when I first heard that John McCain was considering Joe Lieberman as a running mate, I thought... hmmm... why does the image of those two bring something else to mind? What would that something else be?

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gotta Love ONN

Injury update: Thanks to all concerned readers who either commented or emailed about my hip injury. I did go see an orthopedist who said that if I were older, I would have shattered it. But right now it appears to be a massive contusion with a compressed and inflamed hip joint. I have to see him again on the 26th, but in the meantime have to stay off it. Going a little stir crazy.........



Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency

It would be really funny if it weren't true!!

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Where have I been? OK, I'm going to proceed as though someone cares. ;)

First, I have contracted Olympic Fever and therefore have been rendered housebound from 8pm to midnight. How can you possibly take your eyes off girls who are allegedly 16, but look like they are a year or two out of Pull-Ups?


Chinese Officials: Deadly Virus Sweeping China Is Just Olympic Fever

The timing of this illness is rather fortuitous, because I am also rendered housebound by the fact that my dog Kelso, whom you all know I love dearly, managed to pull me to the ground last Wednesday. I hit the pavement with my left hip, full force, and it was not pretty. It remains not pretty.

I had x-rays at one of those urgent care centers, where the doctor deemed that nothing was broken but that this would take "a month or two" to heal. Huh??

A little over a week later, I'm still hurting and can't really walk properly, so I think I need to go to a real doctor and maybe get an MRI. I'm no spring chicken, you know.

So.... that's where I've been. No excuse for not blogging, since my upper body and brain are allegedly still functioning. I can only blame that on Facebook, aka Internet Fun for People with ADD. (IFPADD)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Was a Blubbering Mess... and I'm Not Lion

I actually saw this on The Today Show, but the only good clip I could find was from The View. My apologies in advance for having to subject you to the women of The View, but the video is so worth watching if you haven't already seen it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Amazing Animation!



(Check out their others... like "Roof Sex" which is hilarious.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Separated at Birth?

Drew Peterson...





...and the Cowardly Lion.




And may I suggest to all women out there that they NOT marry anyone named "Peterson"? Especially if your name rhymes with "Stacey" or "Lacey"?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Finding Bullwinkle....NOT



OK, I've been a bad blogger. Facebook has taken some of my attention away, just simply because it's like blogging for ADD people. But I've been doing other stuff, and dealing with some yet OTHER stuff, and just not writing very much at all. I kind of miss it although I have to get my inspiration back somehow.

Here's the good stuff I've been doing:

Visiting Lucas at camp...



...with my lovely daughter...



Spending the weekend with her at this cool place in the Catskills called The Roxbury Motel.



It's an old motel that someone renovated into a snazzy themed but tasteful place (think "West Elm" on crack). You can read my review on TripAdvisor (which is a great resource, btw).

A few days later I drove to The White Mountains of New Hampshire with my SO and stayed here... (I'll be writing my TripAdvisor review soon...the place is amazing and can you say "steam shower"??? They have rooms with Jacuzzi tubs too, but our steam shower was even better than that)



...looking for moose...




Not finding any moose (the photo above was taken from a brochure...fooled ya, eh?), we played golf...



...and saw some covered bridges on the way home...





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The less fun stuff that has occupied my time involves brain chemistry (mostly anxiety) but I'm working that out (hopefully) because I have a history of agoraphobia and that can really put a dent in one's social life.

I've also been working. Which is not fun. But I'll leave it at that, because at least it pays the bills.

I've still been trying to reason with the Surrogate's Court to resolve the issue of my late ex-husband's life insurance so I can actually get some help supporting our son. It's been almost five years since his untimely (but not entirely unexpected) death, and the money is still tied up.

Bullying Update: The more dangerous of the two boys who have targeted Lucas is now being charged with two adult crimes (trespassing and assaulting a 72-year-old woman) so he might finally get the help/incarceration that he so desperately needs. The other kid (who kicked a boy in the testicles the same day the child returned to school after hernia surgery) remains at large (both live in our condos).

SO....... I've got a few more posts coming.... some movie/DVD/TV reviews... and a post about Fit-Flops. Yes, Fit-Flops. I spent $60 on these so I'd better look like Stacey Keebler by the end of the summer. Or else.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Car Tunes



What I'm listening to in the car these days (an hour and twenty minutes to and from work...music and audiobooks are key):

Book:


Just finished The Book Thief. If you have not read this book, get thee to a bookery ASAP. I strongly recommend the audio version, because as with The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, the accent of the narrator adds so much to the experience.

Have a few options for my next audiobook...Interpreter of Maladies, The Tenth Circle, The Thirteenth Tale (but I started listening to that and I know I have to read it, because there are too many names and I need to SEE complex books like that), Water for Elephants, or I'd be open to suggestions.

Music:



The "Weeds" Soundtrack: I just watched Season One and I'm totally hooked. Addicted. Got a monkey on my back. You get the picture. (some of the dialogue on this show literally makes me laugh out loud. My dog is puzzled.)

You're No God -- Laura Marling

The Yard -- Trolle Siebenhaar

What Would Jay-Z Do? -- Ben Lee

some surprise -- the cake sale

Up to the Mountain -- Patty Griffin

Tiger Phone Card -- Dengue Fever

Heaven -- The Swimmers

I Wanna Take You Home -- Nada Surf (factoid: I dated the lead singer. Nice guy. Happy for him that they really did get that record deal!)

Lucky Adam -- Merz

After Hours -- We Are Scientists

All You Need Is Me -- Morrissey

All I Need -- Mat Kearney

Wish I -- Jem

So Damn Happy -- Loudon Wainwright III

All Will Be Well (Demo) -- Gabe Dixon

Whistle For The Choir -- The Fratellis

Boom Boom Ba -- Metisse

The Way I Am -- Ingrid Michaelson

Sunny Road -- Emiliana Torrini

Careless Love -- Madeline Peyroux

Mushaboom -- Feist

Young Folks -- The Kooks

Young Love -- Mystery Jets

From My Heart To Yours -- Laura Izibor

Broken -- Lifehouse

Best Friends -- The Perishers

Always a Use -- Madeleine Peyroux

You and I Both -- Jason Mraz

Where to Start -- Elin Ruth

Where I Stood -- Missy Higgins

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who's Your Daddy?

Had he lived, today would have been my father's 89th birthday. Time to post this rerun.

daddymarianbaby

I've written a lot so far about my mother, and a little bit about them as a couple, but not too much about my dad. That's partly because while I have a lot of pretty horrific memories of him from my childhood, I know now that much of his bad behavior was driven by my mother and maybe even by clinical depression, and I have forgiven him.

At heart, he was a very warm guy. He really liked us as babies (good thing, because my mother handled us like we were radioactive), pretty much until we got big enough to block the TV. He had a really strong Brooklyn accent, which made me laugh even as a child. He said "Oil" when he meant "Earl", and "earl" when he meant "oil". I remember pointing it out to him once, but I think he clocked me one. He was a gadget freak. We didn't have a lot of money...he was a mailman afterall. But we always had new cars, air conditioning before anyone else, more than one TV before that was the norm, and electric EVERYTHING. Electric can opener, card shuffler, back scratcher...you name it, we had it. He even bought an electric cigarette-roller. That didn't work so well. (He didn't score the first COLOR TV on the block, though. My grandparents did! )

I think because I was the third girl and he was probably hoping for a son, he taught me everything I know about baseball, boxing, engines, and of course it was Sal who taught me how to handicap racehorses (a talent I displayed to a nun for Show & Tell in 6th grade). He even brought me to the track once and let me pick his horses, but I did a little too well and he thought it better not to bring me back.

One of the best things he left me with, although unknowingly, was a collection of bawdy 78rpm records by a singer named Ruth Wallis, the queen of the double-entendre. I found the records as a teenager, hidden at the back of his collection along with the Belle Starr ones. One was called "Johnny's Little Yo-Yo" ("Johnny's got the same little yo-yo...that he had when he was a kid") and "Loretta's a Sweater Girl" ("...how does she steal away each fella's heart? She's got two outstanding reasons...she's cute and she's smart!"). I played them, memorized them, and entertained the "troops" by belting them out on High School bus trips.

While his sense of "humor" could be mean (sending my sister to the hardware store for "elbow grease") and sadistic (burying hated lima beans in my ice cream), it has also provided us with running jokes that will live on through my kids. ("Sing by the window and I'll help you out.")

So, while there are a lot of mistakes he made that will stick with me forever (I cannot listen to the 10,000 Maniacs song, "What's the Matter Here?" without blubbering), I can also say that he gave me valuable gifts...humor, a penchant for trivia, a love for sports and movies and Soupy Sales...and he made his peace with me by loving my children.






A few years before he died, I found the perfect Father's Day card for him. On the outside it said: "Dad, you know how I drove you crazy for so long?" and on the inside..."I'm almost done."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Calling All Artists and Craftspeople to Help the Greyhounds!


Our local adoption group, Greyhound Rescue and Rehab, is having their annual picnic in June. It's not all fun and games (well, it's SOME fun and games) but there is also an auction to raise money for the GRR medical fund.

If you can donate an item of artwork (photo, painting, sculpture) or craft (jewelry, clothing, household item or dog leashes or collars (martingale style), PLEASE email me at mvpublic at mac dot com) right away. It's a great way to do something generous for the hounds, but also a way to promote your work! There is going to be about 110 people at the picnic this year.


As for the fun and games, here's a recent picnic costume winner:



And here's a timely rerun of "Myths vs. Truths about Greyhounds"!



Myths vs. Truths about retired racing greyhounds:

MYTH: People who own racing greyhounds just keep them when their racing days are over.
TRUTH: When a racer is retired (anywhere between 18 months and 6 years of age), an adoption group will take the dog and find a home for it. No one knows the exact numbers, but in some parts of the country and at some tracks, dogs are still euthanized when they can no longer race. Thankfully more and more adoption groups are springing up every day.

MYTH: Greyhounds, since they were racers, need a lot of exercise.
TRUTH: Greyhounds, since they are retired, just want to lay on your couch. They don't need any more exercise than an average dog. During their working life they raced (for 30 seconds) every three or four days and slept in a crate for 16-20 hours a day in between. These guys were sprinters, not distance runners.

MYTH: Greyhound are high strung.
TRUTH: HAHAHAHAHAHA. Stop, yer killin' me.

MYTH: Since greyhounds are relatively large, purebred dogs, they must wind up with hip dysplasia and other genetic maladies and have relatively short lifespans.
TRUTH: Racing greyhounds are bred for health and performance, not for looks and "personality". They have a life expectancy of 12-14 years and do not suffer from the health issues that other pedigrees have. And they still have great personalities.

MYTH: Greyhounds were abused, so they must be skittish and spooky.
TRUTH: While we don't love greyhound racing, the abusers are in the minority. Practically speaking, you wouldn't abuse something that you are counting on for your livelihood. It would be more accurate to say that in racing, greyhounds are inventory. They are not pets while working, so they need to learn how to be the object of your affection. They are quick learners.

MYTH: Greyhounds cannot live with cats or other small animals.
TRUTH: This is true for some greyhounds, usually the ones who were excellent racers and have a high prey drive. However, many are retired early because they didn't care much about chasing the lure, and go on to live happily in homes with kitties and/or small dogs. Mine is not cat safe, but is fine with small dogs. The adoption group will tell you.

Other truths you may not know:
Greyhounds don't have a "dog smell".
Many dog-allergic people (like me) can live happily with greyhounds.
Because they are on a strict schedule at the track, many are very easy to housetrain.
They make great apartment dogs. They spend most of their time curled up in a little ball.
Most rarely bark. Some never bark. Mine only barks when he sees a dog who is not a greyhound. (He's a 'breedist". What can I say?)


And maybe the MOST important truth about greyhounds if you are considering adopting:

They can never, ever, EVER be trusted off-leash unless they are completely fenced in. They can see clearly up to 1/2 mile away, and if they spot something of interest (even a blowing paper bag), they will "lock on" and go for it, regardless of oncoming cars, trucks or trains. Oh, and electric fences don't work with greyhounds. If you don't believe me, put the collar on, get in your car and drive through the electric fence at 45mph. You'll be, oh, about a mile away before you feel the shock.
If you are serious about adopting, you will (or should) go through a pretty thorough screening. If the adoption doesn't work out, you don't give the dog away or bring it to a shelter...you return it to the group. So, they like to be pretty certain that the dog will be right for you.

Bottom line: If you want an incredible companion, don't have the time or energy to raise a puppy, and would like what is basically a cat in a dog costume, then a retired racing greyhound may be the ticket!

If you can't adopt but want to help (adoption groups have to pay for all medical costs when a dog leaves the track, including neutering and dental work but sometimes repair of broken bones as well) click HERE and be sure to say that panthergirl sent you!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TOP COOK!!!!



In a thrilling turn of events, David Cook wins American Idol!!

He had me at "Hello"...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why I Love "So You Think You Can Dance"



Because unlike "Dancing with the Stars", which is moderately amusing, the dancing and choreography on this show are SICK... (to borrow a Shane Sparks term). The music is great (and real, as opposed to the muzak-reworkings offered up on DWTS), with a lot of indie and alternative choices that are worthy of an episode-by-episode soundtrack list.

I think it's sad that there doesn't seem to be the same opportunity for fame and fortune for these dancers (as opposed to, say, singers on American Idol). They are ridiculously talented, yet what can they really "win"? A spot in the background of a J-Lo video? (ok, sometimes you get to MARRY J-Lo as a result, but not usually). Unless they are a "triple threat" (sing/dance/act) they won't get a job beyond the chorus line of a Broadway show, but although that's steady and decent-paying work it's not "stardom".

What's with the double standard? Singers don't have to be able to dance... why are there only a handful of REALLY famous dancers who don't do anything else?

Discuss.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Book Find AND A Blog Find!

Found this through the fabulous Deni Bonet, who sent me to Marc Acito's blog, which is great in its own right. The premise of the blog is that he does something new every day and posts about it. This was actually done by his brother, so I guess the new thing was that he had never posted a video made by his brother before. ;)



Seriously, check out his blog. He's also an author and I'm heading over to Borders tomorrow to both see my daughter and to pick up a copy of his new book, The Attack of the Theater People.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Riding in Cars with Marge

Happy Mother's Day to all who are mothers, have mothers, or have made someone a mother. I'm reposting one of my favorite Marge stories for your Mother's Day pleasure.

Marge'sRide
Marge, on left, and pal

My mother Marge has been a continuous (yet unintentional) "sauce of entertainment" to the sane members of my family over the year. She comes out with the most inane and ridiculous things, usually at completely inappropriate times. (A recent example of this was posted here, but long-time readers of this blog are quite familiar with this trait.)

When we were kids, she loved bragging to us about what a popular teenager she was, how many guys were after her, and how she was the first girl in her neighborhood to drive and own her own car. She'd go on ad nauseum about how many hands she had to slap from her knee while driving. (hopefully the looker to her left in this photo wasn't one of her suitors)

The love of cars and driving is something that she and my father had in common, and on my dad's mailman salary we always owned brand new vehicles ("You don't want to buy someone else's headache!") which my father would eventually plow into the trunk of a car he was tailgating. (Once, he did it on the way home from the dealership. At 10 years old, I felt very much like Ralphie in "A Christmas Story" as I cringed through the stream of obscenities that followed.)

Anyway...fast forward to about 15 years ago, my parents in their 70s, driving their gold-package Crown Victoria (or, "The Police Car" as we like to call it) in Florida, with my two nephews (15 and 13 at the time) in the back seat. Sal was driving with Marge riding shotgun. Cruising down I-4 at 85mph, they had the front windows open all the way and big band music blaring. When the wind inside the car reached gale force, my mother turned around and yelled, "HEY...ARE YOU KIDS GETTIN' A BLOW JOB BACK THERE?"

I guess we know why she was so damned popular in that car of hers!


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Hey, do me a favor and go vote for Robert Leleux's wonderful book, The Memoirs of a Beautiful Boy!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Blow Up

Crappy weather weekend here, which means I'm catching up on some of my Netflix movies.


Ryan Gosling is one of my very favorite young actors. I loved him in Half Nelson and Fracture, but Lars and the Real Girl puts him right over the top for me.

If you think this is a silly film about a guy who falls in love with a blow-up doll, you couldn't be more wrong. It's a film about mental illness, compassion, and the about suspending disbelief: both for the film audience and for the characters in the movie itself.

I laughed at myself a few times as I wept for "Bianca". But the fact that I did is a testament to the wonderful cast and to the screenwriter. Don't miss this one.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Hilarious

The Good:

The letter I wrote to my local newspaper generated several calls to me from other parents who have been dealing not only with the same issue, but with the same KIDS. Some since kindergarten. The paper wrote a followup article, ran an editorial and published a letter from another concerned parent who has taken up the bullying cause, but ultimately pulled her child from the school district.


The Bad:

Lucas is now being targeted verbally by friends of these boys ("Alec said that he and Jimmy stuck their d***s in your face.")

The article is just ok. I think the quoted expert focuses too much on school situations, when that's only half the problem. He also implies that the victim needs to find ways to cope or to avoid being targeted. That's like blaming the victim of rape for wearing a short skirt. I'm also disappointed that they did not interview a psychologist about the effects of bullying on children.

Watch this:




The school says they are taking "appropriate action" regarding these incidents (another occurred last Monday), but due to privacy laws they can't tell me what. I spent an hour with the police who basically throw their hands up and say "We can only do what the law allows. And the law doesn't consider this behavior to be assault." They described an incident where a girl gave another girl a huge black eye, but when the judge said "Does it hurt?" she said not really, and he thew the case out. When it comes to juveniles in this county, apparently a bone has to be broken in order for it to be considered assault. Yet, one of these kids HAS broken a child's arm in the past and is still not incarcerated.

So, again, anything that occurs outside the school's jurisdiction seems to have no consequence.

My next step is to take letters from the other parents, other members of my condo (they don't only target children) and go to the County Attorney to see if we can get an order of protection for my son. We are also looking into the possibility of a class action civil suit against the parents. These people have children who aren't just "bullies". They have real problems and need medical treatment. Anything less is neglect, and in the meantime the kids are a public menace.

Maybe the District would like to fund private school tuition for my son. That's sounding like a good idea to me.

OK, now to the Hilarious.

You'll need to wear these:



to see this:



Although I didn't expect much, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the funniest movie I've seen since Team America: World Police. And I am proud to say that I was the only person in the theater who laughed at "I need to B my L on someone's T's".

Friday, April 25, 2008

License to Bully



Some of you may recall this post from two years ago about bullies on the school bus. Since that time, we've been dealing with other bullies in our condo community. I've had to call the police three times this school year due to actions taken against my son, and I'm sick of it.

Yesterday, our local paper published a letter that I wrote, hopefully to get the attention of other parents in the area and to call attention to the complacence of the police.

Here it is:

Parents: You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know About Bullies

Since the beginning of this school year, I have learned something I never knew when it comes to protecting our children: Your son or daughter can be harassed and assaulted by 12 and 13 year olds, but until those kids are over 16, or until they physically injure your child, the [local] Police can do nothing more than write up a report and talk to these kids and their parents.

If the assault takes place on school grounds, the school can suspend them. If it takes place on the bus, an incident report is written up. But if it takes place when your child is walking home from the bus stop, you’ll get “I wish there was something else we could do” and that’s about it. Once you let the school know that you’ve met with an attorney, they will agree to put your child on an “overflow” bus that drops him off at your door. (What is wrong with this picture? Why isn’t it the delinquent children that get put on the “special” bus?)

The assault can include throwing your child to the ground, punching him, sitting on him, menacing and even exposing genitals to him. It can include taunting, mocking, and verbally harassing your child, even in your presence.

The parents of these kids are either of the “my kid would never..” ilk, or bullies themselves. Some are alcoholics and some of these kids clearly need psychological and/or medical help.

But in the meantime, your child can be on the receiving end of some very destructive behavior that leaves him or her in a hyper vigilant state, fearful of playing outdoors and unable to enjoy a leisurely walk home from the bus stop on a beautiful day.

We all know about Columbine, about Virginia Tech, about the recent beating of a Florida girl that wound up on You Tube. Whenever these horrific incidents occur, you hear the refrain, “The signs were always there.” People begin to recount the behaviors that had been seen an ignored for years leading up to the “big one”.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my child to be a victim of “the big one”. I don’t want to wait three years, and I don’t want to get the call telling me that a 12-year-old who is twice his size has broken his arm. We need to protect our children now, and hold these bullies and their parents accountable.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wiseass 101


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In "honor" of the Pope's visit to the US, I just had to rerun this fan favorite:


Longtime readers of this blog know that I went to Catholic school for twelve years. Barring the "peep peep" joke from 1st grade, I was a pretty good little Catholic in elementary school. High school, not so much.

I was in trouble a good part of the time, never for anything hostile or hurtful but more for antics like collecting the dissected worms from Biology class and putting them in various appetizing places around the lunchroom. (including the Coke machine and in an unsuspecting girl's sandwich). I was sent to the principal's office for organizing poker games that sometimes ended in fistfights (hey, not me...it was those other crazy chicks!). I'd bring a giant Scotch bottle filled with pennies to school, tie ribbons around my sleeves and wear a visor for the poker events (staged on the filthy floor of the cafeteria). Remember, this was the early '70s...five card stud, not Texas Hold 'em.

When called out in Science class for who-knows-what, I enlisted two of my friends to join me in serenading our teacher, Mr. Arena (while sitting on his desk of course), in a plea to the tune of "Big Spender": "The minute you walked in the lab (boom boom)...I could see you were a man of demerits...a real five pointer..Hey, Mr. Arena! Take ....... this little demerit from me..."

For the outcome, read my 100 Things. ;)



I devised a way for us to go braless (under our white cotton uniform blouses) to drive the male teachers nuts. The nuns would actually approach us and say "Are you wearing a bra??" We'd glue little piece of bra-strap inside the shoulder area of our blouse and pull it out through the neckline and say, "Yes, Sister! Of course!"



Influenced by my still-in-the-closet best friend Andrew, I would also make decidedly inappropriate selections for book reports, like the one I did on a little missive called "Mother Camp" about transvestites and transsexuals. I still have the report, replete with all the frenetic red markings scolding me for not getting the book pre-approved. Hey, I thought it was really fascinating! A particularly juicy paragraph helped the reader (in this case, the prune-faced Sister Ruth Miriam) distinguish between the various types of "queens", including the "dinge queen, noted for having anal sex in public restrooms." That nun is probably STILL in an oxygen tent.

Anyway, I digress. What the papal visit really reminds me of was an article I wrote for the school newspaper entitled, "The Pope: Who Died and Left HIM Boss?"

Although I probably spent twenty-six thousand hours in detention, I think they secretly got a kick out of me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

That Was the Week That Was



Spent last weekend at Foxwoods/Mohegan Sun... the casinos on the reservations in Connecticut. The purpose of the trip was to see Santana in concert which was A-MAZING. I had seen Santana at the Fillmore East in 1970, and this was equally exciting. The opening act was The Derek Trucks Band, worth checking out if you love you some jazzy slide guitar. You can catch Santana in concert on RAVEHD (another one of the Zoom network channels). What I loved most was Carlos' banter and the AV show which highlighted clips from Woodstock and other early appearances. And if you don't get out to see live music much, doing it makes you realize why it's so special.

We also spent time in the casino (fun except for the disgusting cigarette smoke...yeuch!). I was up by about 100% at one point but lost it all. It was ok... I had planned for it. It was just nice to have some grownup time (we stayed out until 3AM on Saturday...haven't done that IN YEARS!)

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HOLY SMOKES. Did you see Fergie on Idol Gives Back this week? She looked amazing, she sounded UNBELIEVABLE... (I actually thought Ann Wilson was still singing because I had looked away, and thought "Wow... she really kept her voice!" and then saw it was Fergie!) and I want a pair of those PVC pants. The one-handed cartwheels put the whole thing over the top for me. Just awesome. (and how funny is "Band from TV"? Almost made Teri Hatcher sound good.) Anyway, I donated and tried to submit a request for a matching gift from my company. I got an email back stating "We do not match gifts to PETA or Greenpeace. Sorry." Huh??



And speaking of Idol... I was bummed to see Michael Johns go, but he'll do alright for himself. Still, Kristie Lee and Sayesha shouldn't have outlasted him.

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And still speaking of American Idol, the AI Karaoke game for the Wii is great!! You sing and then get critiqued by Randy, Paula and Simon. Hilarious. As I've posted in the past, my little guy loves to sing but gives "tin ear" a whole new meaning. Don't quit your day job, Lucas.



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Watched The Darjeeling Limited today. Initially I thought it was just going to be a fun and quirky/odd film but it really took a turn midway through that made it so much more than that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Jason Schwartzman looks exactly like a boyfriend I had when I was 16.

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