October 22, 2014

All elections are important

In less than two weeks, it is Election Day. Sadly, most of you will not be voting. Even during a presidential election, only about half of eligible voters go to the polls. Only HALF. For what is called "midterms" (in reference to the middle of the presidential 4-year term) we Americans who are all kinds of gung-ho about democracy in other countries, average about a third. That's right about a third of all American citizens over the age of 18 will be voting in this year's election.
For all of you over-18-year-olds who aren't registered to vote: WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?!?
For all of you who are registered but will fail to vote for whatever lame reason: WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU??!?!
For all of you who are registered, but will be unable to vote because of new requirements at the polls that you are unable to meet: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PEOPLE IN A DEMOCRACY DON'T VOTE.
Not only does not voting allow you an extra 45 minutes of free time on the first Tuesday in November, but it also allows lawmakers whose views represent only a narrow margin of the electorate to gain office. And then they get to decide where to spend your tax money. And how many times we need to invoke God when pledging allegiance. And who should live. And who should die. And what you can do with your body. And what you can't. And who can vote. And where. And when.
And then, you look around to discover that the America you thought you lived in, is actually not there anymore because two-thirds of it decided that voting wouldn't matter anyway. And by that time, they would be right.
Don't let this happen. VOTE.

October 21, 2014

What can we do to change that?

I wish we lived in a world that did not value youth and beauty over wisdom and confidence.

October 20, 2014

And a glow-in-the-dark rat

I like my Halloween spooky. Not terror-scary. Not gory-scary. I don't like fake (or real, for that matter) blood. I don't like the fake-Jason (or real, for that matter) jumping out at you with a chainsaw. I also don't like the cute ghosts and giggly ghouls that people decorate with. Smiling jack-o-lanterns are one thing. Smiling mummies? Not so much. So my Halloween decor consists pretty much of skeletons and tombstones. Creepy, a little spooky, bloodless, and not cute.
Boy am I getting picky in my old age!

October 16, 2014

Storing up for winter

It's that time of year. Yep. All the evil squirrels are storing food for the winter. In case you thought you might strike a blow for the cause and deprive the insidious creatures of a meal or two, think again. These guys are pretty good at food storage.
  • "[R]ed squirrels will hang fungi out to dry between tree branches so that it keeps better over the winter."
  • "[S]quirrels can tell the difference between red oak acorns and white oak acorns and store them accordingly."
  • "[They] store pine cones by the score in secret larders where the seeds remain moist and have little chance of germinating."
  • "When its stores of pinecones and nuts gathered during the summer and fall run low, the squirrel scores the bark of sugar maple trees with its sharp teeth, allowing the sap to drain." 
Removing some acorns and peanuts from some hidey-holes isn't going to frighten these guys at all.

October 15, 2014

Sexy-schmexy

*both videos NSFW = language


This is why I get pissed off at "sexy" Halloween costumes:


And this is why I don't:

I don't know which one is right. Our clothing choices should be based on only our own wishes, but my disgust of self-objectification forces me to question WHY anyone want to deliberately offer their body parts on display.
Then I think, it's her choice. And as a feminist, I support it. But should I? Or should I point out how she is objectifying herself?

Whatever it is, I will say that none of these sexy costumes (or skimpy clothes) EVER make a woman slutty. (In fact, I'm not even convinced that lots of sex and/or sex partners makes a woman slutty. Certainly not any sluttier than a man.)
Still, should we encourage "sexy" clothing as freedom, or discourage it because it is reinforcing sexual objectification? WHAT IS THE RIGHT ANSWER?

October 14, 2014

Boo-tastic

We're getting down to the wire on Halloween and I need a costume idea for the office. Obviously, it has to be something I can work in. Ideally, it will be cheap, creative, and comfortable.
Not in the running:
  • Sexy Oscar the Grouch (or any other sexied-up Sesame Street character)
  • Zombies (a little over this nationwide obsession. Also, most of these just make me want to vomit.) 
  • Anything that shows belly. (nobody wants to see that)
  • Anything that involves technology (remember: cheap.)
Oh, what the hell, I'm cutting two holes in a sheet. Do you think it needs to be white?


October 13, 2014

Perfect weekend

We took a wonderful walk along the river near here this weekend. Fall isn't quite here yet, but it's creeping in.

 

October 9, 2014

Every Food has its Day

Does every food have its own day?
Yes.

Last week, we happened to be at Ikea on National Cinnamon Bun Day. (25% off all cinnamon buns and the entire store smelled DELICIOUS.)
Yesterday was National Pierogi Day.
Today is National Moldy Cheese Day (Yes! Really!)
And there is even a National Liver and Onions Day. (I'm not going to celebrate that one.)

October 8, 2014

The big God picture

Did anyone see the verbal sparring between Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on Maher's program Real Time? Did anyone NOT see it after the Inter-webs got a hold of the whole controversy.
Maher has a bone to pick with Islam as a religion and does it regularly. He is vocal in his antipathy for all religions, but he seems to hold a special hatred for Islam. I will grant you that most Muslim countries seem decidedly less liberal than the U.S. But at the same time, the fundamentalist Christians in the U.S., while a minority, are at least as conservative and repressive in their values as the more restrictive Muslim countries.
I don't understand why Maher keeps arguing that we should oppose Islam any more than we should oppose ANY religion that tries to govern. The best thing Thomas Jefferson ever did was the 1st Amendment. Religion has NO place in government. Whether you are a Ultra-conservative Christian or a Sharia-law Imam.Your spiritual beliefs, no matter how devoutly held, do not entitle you to tell me what MY spiritual beliefs must be. Nor should they ever be used to oppress any portion of the populace. (In that Maher is right, we should all  --liberals and conservatives alike-- be horrified at laws that allow a woman to be executed for adultery. Or forbidden to leave the house without a male relative to escort her.)
But Christians in this country have just successfully limited my right to control my own reproductive organs and he didn't seem all torn up about that. Frankly, if I had to choose between the Old White God-fearing Man laws that declare me a murderess if I use an IUD and wearing a headscarf but having control of my own womb, I'll take the headscarf.

So why we should be more upset about Islam when fundamentalists worshiping any of the traditional patriarchal Gods all want women silent and subservient?

October 7, 2014

Foggy bottoms

Have you ever noticed how a truly dense fog gives a sense of timelessness? All sounds are muffled. Objects seem to resolve before your eyes. And you get the impression that it would not be surprising at all if King Henry and Abe Lincoln and Rudyard Kipling all appeared as you walk through the soupy mist. In addition, the edge of anything (here it would be Lake Erie) becomes the edge of the world.
It's no wonder it is imbued with so many magical qualities in literature.

October 6, 2014

Too cool

I was a failure on the Friday Book Blog last week.
I am also a failure on the annual heat race. We woke up to a 60°F house on Sunday and overcast skies so we caved and turned on the furnace. Nine years ago, I lasted a lot longer. Old age.

October 1, 2014

More of this

Let's go back in time a hundred and twenty-five years or so when people lobbying Congress produced bills that created Yosemite National Park. (As opposed to Keystone Shale Oil Pipeline)

Happy birthday Yosemite!
Wikipedia Commons user Amadscientist
Wait! Not that Yosemite. THIS one! Happy birthday Yosemite!

September 30, 2014

Look what I found!

I've been to the Cleveland Museum of Art countless times, but every time I go, I find something else to amaze me.
Vase Bertin, c. 1855

Our neighbors have been living next door longer than we have been here (which is a long time), but I still found something new in their yard.
Fairy tunnel c. 2014
Maybe the adventure in life is small new discoveries. Tomorrow I will discover a new kitty on my calendar. I will take a picture of it also.

September 29, 2014

My accomplishment

I had the day off today, and despite the fact that I'm fighting an insidious sinus/ear thing, I managed to FINALLY repair the damn window pane that I broke two years ago with my unruly elbow.
In our old house we have true divided-light 6 over 6 windows wherever the previous  owners didn't replace them with horrible casements. They have the annoying storm/screen track windows attached to the outside (thankfully! brrrrr!), but the inside remains original. Previously, opening the dining room window I managed to somehow put my elbow completely through one of the panes of glass.
We patched it with saran wrap and scotch tape. Yes, we did. We then left it that way for a year.
Last year when we were wandering the aisles at a large home improvement store, I noticed that they had panes of glass. "What size do you think that window is, Honey?" "It's just the one pane. It can't be bigger than 8x10. Get that one and we can cut it down if we need to." A plan.
The flaw: turns out each pane is 9x12. huh.
Today at our local hardware store, they not only sold me a pane of glass, THEY cut it to my exact specifications. (Which the giant home improvement mega-store was unwilling to do.) I brought it home, scraped the remnants of the putty out, bent the points back, inserted the glass (with only the tiniest cut to the side of my finger), re-bent the points to hold it, and caulked the whole thing in.
I am a home improvement DIVA! Now I am in danger of breaking it again just because every time I walk past it, I have to give it a giggly little tap because it isn't thin plastic wrap anymore.

September 26, 2014

Friday Book Blogging

On a Friday!
My favorite of the week was Christopher Fowler's The Invisible Code featuring Bryant and May. This is the fifth time I've tipped Fowler for his Bryant and May series. At this point in time, my concern isn't that I won't love one of the stories, but that the characters will die of old age ending the series.
The stories are excellent, the plots are sufficiently convoluted. But the best thing about them involves the tidbits of London history and folklore peppered throughout.

September 25, 2014

Stop

In 1930, Dorothy L. Sayers introduced us to Harriet Vane. She became (instantly) the love interest of Lord Peter Wimsey. What I find remarkable about Sayers  portrayal of her incredibly forward-thinking characters in 1930 is their attitude about sex. For those unfamiliar with the book Strong Poison that introduces Harriet Vane, a brief synopsis: she is being tried for the murder of her lover and Lord Peter rushes to her defense after falling madly in love.
I like that Harriet doesn't fall into his arms just because he works to prove her innocence. In fact, she actively fights her attraction because gratitude is not a good basis for a relationship. Also, Harriet is self-sufficient financially, and independent. She is characterized as having relinquished her views on traditional marriage for the sake of her lover, but once having made that decision refused to waiver from it.
Notable of Wimsey's stance on the issue, at one point when Harriet turns down an offer of marriage with the argument that she has had a lover and therefore (in 1930s parlance) tainted goods, no longer a virgin bride. Peter comes back with, "So have I. Several in fact. It's the sort of thing that could happen to anyone." In 1930. 

85 years later, we're still hung up on that virgin thing. Everytime I see those creepy "pledging my virginity to my father until I marry" pictures from Purity balls, I'm reminded that we are letting others dictate our sexuality.
Stop.

September 24, 2014

As info.

I am generally not an acquisitive person (except for shoes --I can't have enough shoes), but I want an iPhone 6.
Now.
(despite all its "defects" Ha!)

September 23, 2014

Fall weather

Crisp

Crisp fall day
Crisp autumn leaves
Crisp ripe apple
Crisp baked bread
Crisp* new shirt

Crisp began its etymological life meaning curly. Back in the 1200s, the only thing that was crisp, was a head of hair. Now hair is one thing that's never crisp (unless you have a bad run-in with a curling iron). My favorite use of the word, for a cool bright snappy day, is only about 200 years old.


*Isn't it interesting that the more you type a word, the less "right" it looks?

September 22, 2014

Gold Flower

It's chrysanthemum season!
  • The name "chrysanthemum" is derived from the Greek words chrysos (gold) and anthemon (flower).
  • Yellow or white chrysanthemum flowers of the species C. morifolium are boiled to make a sweet drink in some parts of Asia.
  • Chrysanthemum leaves are steamed or boiled and used as greens.
  • Small chrysanthemums are used in Japan as a sashimi garnish.
  • Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium) is economically important as a natural source of insecticide. Pyrethrins attack the nervous systems of all insects, and inhibit female mosquitoes from biting. 
  • Chrysanthemum plants have been shown to reduce indoor air pollution by the NASA Clean Air Study.
  • In some countries of Europe (e.g., France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Poland, Hungary, Croatia), incurve chrysanthemums are symbolic of death and are used only for funerals or on graves.
  • In the United States, the flower is usually regarded as positive and cheerful. 
  • In Australia,the chrysanthemum is sometimes given to mothers for Mother's Day.
  • "Chrysanthemum Gate" is taboo slang meaning "anus" (with sexual connotations).
  •  In China it is one of the four symbolic seasonal flowers.
  • Chrysanthemums were first cultivated in China as a flowering herb as far back as the 15th century BC.