Saturday, December 29, 2007

Here's A Suggestion: Try Not Breaking The Law For A Change

NEW YORK TIMES, Saturday December 29:

COALINGA, Calif. — When any of the 5,300 inmates at Pleasant Valley State Prison begin coughing and running a fever, doctors do not think flu, bronchitis or even the common cold.

They think valley fever; and, more often than they would like, they are right.

In the past three years, more than 900 inmates at the prison have contracted the fever, a fungal infection that has been both widespread and lethal.

At least a dozen inmates here in Central California have died from the disease, which is on the rise in other Western states, including Arizona, where the health department declared an epidemic after more than 5,500 cases were reported in 2006, including 33 deaths.

The disease has infected archaeologists digging at the Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and dogs that have inhaled the spores while sniffing for illegal drugs along the Mexican border.

In most cases, the infection starts in the lungs and is usually handled by the body without permanent damage. But serious complications can arise, including meningitis; and, at Pleasant Valley, the scope of the outbreak has left some inmates permanently disabled, confined to wheelchairs and interned in expensive long-term hospital stays.

About 80 prison employees have also contracted the fever, Pleasant Valley officials say
...
The epidemic at the prison has led to a clash of priorities for a correctional system that is dealing with below average medical care and chronic overcrowding.

At Pleasant Valley, officials say the outbreak of valley fever places a burden on the institution, requiring guards to escort inmates to local hospitals, where stays can last months and result in medical and security costs of $1 million and more, said Dr. Igbinosa, the medical director.

The disease also affects inmate morale, doctors say.

Gilbert Galaviz was convicted of murder and is serving a sentence of 25 years to life. Mr. Galaviz had been at Pleasant Valley for a week or so when he started to feel sick. “I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “My chest starting hurting, I had pain all over like somebody beat me up, and I would sweat bad at night.”
After six months, Mr. Galaviz is still weak, having lost 30 pounds, and is barely able to complete a lap in the prison yard. Earlier this month, he was attacked and his jaw broken.

“It wouldn’t have been like that if it hadn’t been for valley fever,” Mr. Galaviz said, his jaw still wired shut. “They wouldn’t have got me. It would have been the other way around.”

That Settles It: No More Sun-Dried Tomatoes Before Bedtime

I had an exam-anxiety dream last night.

You know the kind of thing. You dream you're back in college, about to take a crucial exam. But then you can't get there, because waterfalls or tigers or in-laws keep getting in your way. Then you get to the exam and realize you never attended any of the classes, so you don't know any of the answers. Then you think, Don't panic- just fake your way through! But then you realize it's a mathematics exam, or a chemistry test, or something else you can't possibly fake the answers to.

At this point in the dream I usually get a letter from my alma mater, saying they're going to rescind my degree. Frantically I try to think of ways I can go back to college and finish up. Only as dawn is breaking does it dawn on me: hey, what does it matter any more? Who needs the B.A.? It never did me any good before, why should it matter now?

Then I wake up, and I realize, shuddering with relief, that it was only a dream.

Except last night. Last night was different.

I was in a classroom, about to take an exam.I had no worries about the exam, except one: Someday, I thought, the powers that be would discover how easy this class was, and they'd take back all the credits. But I was still pleased with myself at this point. Because how many Irish Catholics had the foresight to sign up for this gut of a "Native American Studies" class? Just me, baby!

Then it dawned on me. What the heck was I doing in a Native American Studies class? What, did I think it was going to get me a job? Instantly I saw my transcript before my eyes. It was full of things like "Native American Studies." And "Middle English," and "Church and State in the Middle Ages" and "Introduction to Medieval Canon Law." Oh my God! I gasp. Where was accounting? Where was business management? Where was How To Get And Keep Gainful Employment? Where was anything that might actually matter it the real world?

Desperately I tried to start over. I wrote letters, I sent emails: Please let me be a freshman again! I promise I won't do another stupid thing like sign up for "Catullus and Cicero" when what I really need is "How To Make It In The Real World Despite Being a Writer Type"! I beg of you! Give me another chance!

Then I woke up. And for the first time, that old "thank GOD! it was only a dream!" feeling just wasn't there.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eye Opener

I ran out of eye cream a few weeks ago. You know, the stuff women slather on- or, as the instructions suggest, "apply with a tapping motion"-- as part of the eternal quest to beat back the clock. I ran out, and I didn't get a refill. Too many other things to shell out one's bucks for this time of year.

Today, in the spirit of post-holiday frugality, I dug out an old jar of "Multi-Peptide Treatment: Eye Cream With Antioxidants." If memory serves I bought it last summer, used some of it then switched brands (somebody was giving out free samples). What the heck, I thought. I'll use this old stuff up and invest in a new jar in, oh I don't know, March, maybe.

Good plan, right?
The only flaw: I couldn't open the jar.

I ran the lid under hot water. I ran it under cold water. I banged on it with a heavy metal object. No dice.

I brought it downstairs to the spouse. "See if you can open this," I said.

Again, no dice. Many twists and grunts later the spouse scowled at the label. "It's the multi-peptides," he said finally. "If it were just one peptide I'm pretty sure I could kick its ass for you, but I can't handle a gang."

I began to wonder if I really wanted this stuff anywhere near my eyes. I mean, labels aside, experience was telling me it was some kind of super glue. Which I 'm nowhere near decrepit enough to use on my face, thank you. Yet.

I called the company. They said they couldn't help because the product is no longer sold in stores. "We're all online now," the young lady said. "Maybe if you called corporate, they could help you."

"No thanks."

[Note to self: File this under "On the internet no one knows you're a dog, Exhibit A."]

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Murder In Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto was shot and killed in Pakistan by a man who then blew himself up, killing himself and some 20 other people.
According to the AP report,
"No one claimed responsibility for the killing. But suspicion was likely to fall on resurgent Islamic militants linked to al Qaida and the Taliban who hated Bhutto for her close ties to the Americans and support for the war on terrorism. A local Taliban leader reportedly threatened to greet Bhutto's return to the country from exile in October with suicide bombings."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Inspirational Schmalz

With the New Year looming DIH decided to do some soul-searching.

No. No. Let's be honest here. Let's rewrite that, with the truth.

Ever since the dog chewed the plug off the TV set and we were deprived of the Law and Order reruns that were a staple of our family life, DIH has found herself wandering onto the risky ground of soul-searching.

There. That's better.

On this Feast of St Stephen we are once again snowed in here in Minneapolis. The stuff is still falling, so anyone who thinks I'm going out there with a shovel yet can just sit back and wait. Take that, city ordinances.
So, having nothing better to do, DIH has begun the daily bit of soul-searching with the help of the Internet.

As I've mentioned earlier, DIH and a small group of hardy souls did a Bible Study course together last year. The course started out great, then kind of fell apart after lesson 12. Nevertheless we continued to gather and listen to the CDs because one of us had a killer cappucino machine and- um, because, uh, because we felt it was important to follow through.

We are about to embark upon a new course, this one a bit different. We think it will work out.

Just in case. however, I decided to do a little internet searching of Bible study courses, specifically those aimed at women.

And oh, dear God. What a wasteland.

Here's something called "Creative Ladies' MInistry." This is from their "themes overview:"

"Life In Christ—Good To The Last Drop: With coffee as an inspiration, this theme revolves around how having Christ in our lives can enrich our lives and the necessity of spending time with Him."
"In The Bag: With handbags and purses as an inspiration, this theme revolves around what we carry with us on a daily basis as a Christian woman."
"Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend: This revolves around being sparkly for Christ."

"Sparkly for Christ"? WTF?

But I can't leave out my favorite:

"The Wrinkle-Free Woman: With a starch can label as its inspiration, this theme can really be geared to a lot of different areas---Starch of honesty, Starch of faith, Starch of prayer, Starch of sweetness and kindness, Starch of concern and caring."

[Note to self- find out what a "starch can" is. Or don't, it probably isn't anything important.]

Then there's something called "Girlfriends Unlimited:"
"Make your church the place women connect... relax and refresh... share their hearts shape each others' lives."
They have a theme song! "Come on come on, girlfriend, let's have some fun grilfriend, you and me we can be a little bit crazy, don't you know God is amazing! Ooh, oo-ooh..."

Um... I'm gonna give that one a pass.

I gotta think about this. Maybe somewhere out there there's a womens' study and spirituality program that's right for me. Something with no "crafts," no polka-dots, and no goddam starch cans.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Again.

I posted this story a year ago at Christmas. I'm posting it again now, because I think that especially now, with teh primaryies a week away, it's a good story to bear in mind.

A Christmas Story

Well, here it is, Christmas Eve. The stockings are hung, the cookies are baked, the spouse has worn the camel suit (long story). All is ready for the celebration of the birth of the Savior. Gather 'round, readers, and Auntie Desperate will tell you a Christmas story.

I know a lot of you found this blog through Ann Coulter. So I'm going to tell you an Ann story.

Some years ago when I was living in NYC and Ann was far from famous, my husband and I gave an annual Christmas party. Ann always came, always with an entourage (mostly hopeful young men), and being Ann, she was always late.

Our Christmas party was always a big production, at least for DIH. There were always at least sixty or seventy people, and I made all the food myself (except the sacred lasanga- my half-Italian husband always made that), and did all the baking. Gingerbread men, butter cookies, lemon squares, cheesecakes, apricot rum tortes, chocolate layer cakes, almond paste laden pastries, all that good stuff. By the time it was all over DIH was pretty tired, and especially she was sick of being in the kitchen.

One year Ann arrived at the party just about the time everyone else was taking off. This took her by surprise I think- hey, it was only one a.m., where was everybody going? -- but she didn't take it personally. She looked around my empty living room and announced, "Well! Bet the kitchen's a real mess! Come on, Sue, let's go wrap things up!"

And with that, the lovely long-limbed Ms Coulter rolled up her sleeves and cleaned up the kitchen.

A couple of years ago we moved to Minneapolis. Not a lot of like-minded people here. But nice ones nevertheless, and as always we gave our Christmas party in our new home.

Most of our guests were liberal Dems. One of them,our next-door neighbor, was a professional LD. He ran a fundraising business for things like organic food coops and the like. Late in the evening he noticed a photo of Ann on a sidetable. It was one of her Christmas cards- a photo of her and Ronald Reagan, with the legend "Peace through strength on earth" scribbled at the bottom.

"Hmph! Ann Coulter! She's a [common expletive used by liberals referring to conservative women deleted.]!" said the man.

DIH tries not to take umbrage any more often than she must but nobody steps on my Ann, and certainly not in my house. "She's a very nice girl!" I retorted. "She always loved our Christmas party too. One year she even cleaned up the kitchen!"

There was silence in the living room.

Then my next-door neighbor spoke again.

"Well," he said, "I'm not going to be outdone by the likes of Ann Coulter!"

And with that, he cleaned up my kitchen.

Merry Christmas. all. God bless us every one.

Heartwarming, If Problematic

The AP is running a beautiful story about how an American sodlier adopted a special needs Iraqi orphan.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071223/ap_on_re_us/saving_ala_a

The only problem now is protecting the child, who lives with his adoptive dad in Wisconsin, from Islamic extremists who decide to take issue with his name. (He named himself Ala'a, which means "close to God." Which has to be blasphemous or something, right?)
Let's hope Santa doesn't bring the kid a teddy bear.

h/t Powerline

Ace of Spades, Hacking Victim

Readers of Ace of Spades HQ will notice a nasty little Christmas gift from some half-witted hacker.

The comments column has been replaces witha string of obscenities and gibberish

http://ace.mu.nu/, if you want to sicken your day.

Once again, all you lovely leftie kids: get a job, or a life, or something.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Lists

Favorite Christmas/ Christmastime movies:
Die Hard; National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (I think those two tie for first place): A Christmas Carol (the one with Alastair Sim, Peter Bull et al); Holiday Inn; Millions; It's A Wonderful Life; A Christmas Story.

Favorite Christmas carols:
O Come All Ye Faithful; God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen; Pueri Concinite (probably not technically a carol, but I love it); Sussex Carol/ On Christmas Night All Christians Sing; Hark the Herald Angels Sing.

Favorite things I've eaten so far this Christmas season:
The spouse's spaghetti and meatballs; Julie Cline's Christmas cookie assortment; take-out from Tum Rup Thai.

Favorite things I still plan to eat this Christmas season:
Costco chocolate layer cake- ohhh, baby; good bread and butter. I love bread and butter and had to give it up (pretty much) when the Spouse went on Weight Watchers.

Favorite things I hope I get a good excuse to eat this Christmas season:
Costco's chicken pot pie. Mamma mia.

Favorite bit of home Christmas decoration:
I like my tree. And I like my wall clock, the one with the three snowmen that plays a different Christmas carol every hour on the hour.

Least favorite places at Christmas:
shopping malls, airports, the Long Island Expressway.

Favorite places at Christmas:
The adoration chapel at church; my sister's house on Long Island; any place with food, friends and a fire. And the fire is optional.

I Don't Know Why I Didn't See This Coming

"New York Times, Sunday December 23- MACY’S SANTALAND and the tree at Rockefeller Center notwithstanding, many New Yorkers are not celebrating Christmas. In addition to our sizable humbug community, they include Jews, Muslims, Hindus and members of just about any other non-yuletide-caroling religion you can think of. (Not to mention atheists.)

"So don’t limit yourself to St. Patrick’s and other Christmas standards. Why not visit the city’s other houses of worship, many of which are less crowded but just as open and welcoming to the public. Here are a few you can fit into a weekend.

"Mosques come in all shapes and sizes in the city, from converted basement apartments to elaborate domed beauties. But if you’re going to visit just one, try the Islamic Cultural Center of New York, a domed mosque on the Upper East Side that opened in 1991.

"Prayers are called five times a day, which makes it pretty easy to be there for one. Non-Muslims can observe from the side of the intricately tiled prayer hall on the first floor (or they can remove their footwear and enter). The times change with the seasons, but the midday prayer is at 12:30 in the winter and 1 p.m. in summer. It’s an accommodation to the American tradition known as lunch hour.

"The jewel of the mosque, however, is the grand domed hall on the third floor, punctuated by a circle of lights hanging low from the soaring ceiling. It is used regularly only for the Friday midday prayer; at other times you’ll have to ask if someone can open it for you. The center also welcomes non-Muslims to its Islamic Forum on Saturdays at 1 p.m."

Am I the only one who ever wonders if the Times is into parodying itself?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Can't Decide If I Should File This Under "Blonde Jokes" Or "Ice Fishing"

A blond wanted to go ice fishing. She'd seen many books on the subject, and
finally getting all the necessary tools together, she made for the ice.

After positioning her comfy footstool, she started to make a circular cut in the
ice. Suddenly, from the sky, a voice boomed,

"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

Startled, the blond moved further down the ice, poured a thermos of cappuccino,
and began to cut yet another hole. Again from the heavens the voice bellowed,

"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

The blond, now worried, moved away, clear down to the opposite end of the ice.
She set up her stool once more and tried again to cut her hole. The voice came
once more,



"THERE ARE NO FISH UNDER THE ICE."

She stopped, looked skyward, and said, "IS THAT YOU LORD?"

The voice replied,

"NO, THIS IS THE MANAGER OF THE HOCKEY RINK"

h/t Carrie

Welcome Tony!

LONDON (Dec. 22) - Tony Blair, who often kept his religious views private while serving as Britain's prime minister, has converted to Catholicism , officials said Saturday.

Blair, who had long been a member of the Church of England, converted to the Catholic faith during a Mass held on Friday night at a chapel in London, the Catholic Church said.

"It can be confirmed that Tony Blair has been received into full communion with the Catholic church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor," the head of the church in England and Wales, the church said in a statement."

[h/t AOL]

Local News

A roundup from across the state. Enjoy.

"Ice conditions are improving after the heavy snowfall we received 2 weeks ago on the not yet established ice. Reports of up to 14 inches on some smaller shallow lakes but most lakes are still in the 8-12 inch mark. There is still some slush under the snow, but nothing to be concerned about. The walleye bite has been hit or miss with the unstable weather, but good reports of panfish bites have come in using minnows and waxworms."

Question: what the heck is a waxworm? NO, scrathc that- waht exactly is a walleye, anyway?

"We're seeing a lot more traffic on the lakes (only ATV, snowmobile, or foot) at this point. Reports are coming in from across the Metro Area, everywhere from out west in the Annandale Area all the way to St. Croix River, and everywhere in between. A lot people starting to get out onto their favorite first ice spots and fish getting caught! "

Question: caught doing what?

"Winter weather dominates the scene and is still making life difficult for anglers and spearing enthusiasts alike."

Spearers? They have spearers? Are any of them wearing loincloths?

"Walleye have been very active anywhere you can make a hole in the ice over six feet of water or more. Rattling type jigs have been producing well in the yet unsettled and slightly cloudy water. Look through your tackle box for reds, white and orange glow colors to dress up that minnow for the walleye."

But don't expect the minnow to dress up for you. You're not worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

From Our "The Mysteries of Christmas" Files:

Question: why are grown men impossible to shop for at Christmas?

Answer: because most men are like Miss Piggy. Who said it all when she said, "My needs are few, my wants are extremely expensive."

It all starts with Daddy. You're a little girl and you want to get Daddy something special. So you ask him, "Daddy, what would you like for Christmas?"

He replies, "Socks."

Show me one American father who has never requested socks for Christmas. I was buyng my father socks for years.

And why? Because when pressed for a different answer, it too was always the same: "Well, I'd like a Lamborghini, I guess."

Get that man another pair of socks.

Then you grow up and get married, and now you have a husband to buy for. The Spouse is a little more imaginative than my father when it comes to gifts, but not much. I could sit down and make a list of his favorite things right now. In fact, here it is.

Richard Vigilante's Favorite Things:

Paper towels. Automatic pencils (he has thousands). Waste baskets, the white plastic kind with the flip-up lids ( at last count we had seven). Brioschi (not as easy to find as it used to be). Underwear. Socks.

You can imagine how much fun it is to shop for a guy like that. Well, at least he's never asked for a Lamborghini. He makes noises about getting hold of a Mercedes some day, though.

That day will be some time past my own, I think.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm Not Endorsing, But....

...here's something else to like about Giuliani.

For over a hundred years St. Agnes Church in midtown Manhattan was a landmark for Catholic New Yorkers. Located a block from Grand Central Station, the place was God's gift to commuters: Feast day masses hosted thousands of churchgoers,daily masses hosted hundreds. On Ash Wednesday staff were posted at every turnstile in Grand Central, offering ashes to everyone who wanted them (and at New York speed, I might add). Confessions were heard for hours everyday- every day. The Blessed Sacrament was exposed for adoration every afternoon, with Benediction at 5 pm daily. DIH used to sing in a choir there.

Fifteen years ago, on December 10, 1992, St. Agnes burned down.

The news was a shock to the city. Newspapers and television covered the story for days. Here's one story from Sursum Corda magazine, summer 1998:

"It was an unseasonably warm December 10, about 2:30 in the afternoon, when office workers on the 32nd floor in the nearby Pfizer Chemical building first heard the insistent scream of fire engines. The sirens didn't stop. A thick smoke poured down the big avenue, down Second and Third, down 42nd Street, all emanating from the side street where St. Agnes has stood since 1873.

"At 2:30, Msgr. Clark was planning a benefit with two ladies over lunch, and they were lingering over dessert. Walking through Grand Central a few minutes later, he noticed the fire engines' incessant whine. the sound drew him to his home of many years. It was a four-alarm fire; firemen were everywhere. They allowed Msgr. Clark to dash inside to retrieve the Blessed Sacrament.

"There he found a most unlikely sight: Rudy Giuliani (now Mayor of New York), then working as an attorney in a nearby building, was wandering up and down the aisles looking for anyone who might have been overcome by smoke. He had already prevented two looters from stealing silver-plated candelabras."

There's just something about Rudy....

The Real One

">

This is the real ad. I like it. Especially the "wid'a big red bow."
Any bets on who's playing Santa?

Sorry about the double vision. Some glitch I can't figure out- yet.

Sabotage

Today's Drudge Report links to the holiday ads by all the major candidates- the ones they're going to run in Iowa and New Hampshire over Christmas. DIH watched all the ads, and concluded that Rudy Giuliani's was the only one worth watching. So, I decided to go to YouTube and link the ad.

It's cute, it's fun, it's got Rudy talking politics and fruitcake. And it was the only one that had Santa Claus, unless you count Hillary Clinton's offer of universal pre-K, which if Santa doesn't provide the taxpayer will have to. Anyone feeling like that much of a Santa Claus?

Then Rudy's ad was sabotaged.

The YouTube version of the ad has removed Rudy's holiday wishes from the soundtrack and substituted "you 're sick, you need help" over and over again- the point being, I guess, that anyone who supports Giuliani is a world-class sicko.

News flash, hackers: you're the ones with the problem. Get a job, or a life, or something. Heck, go back to school. And tell your mothers to take away your keyboards for a week.

Meanwhile DIH will search for the genuine ad and post it here ASAP.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

...And One of My Favorites

">" border="0" alt="" />
I love this number. I'd never seen the skit before, only heard it on CD. My husband, however, can act the whole thing out. He was a big Dino fan, ahead of his time- he was in grade school when this show was aired.

Merry Christmas!


"Straight No Chaser" of Indiana U. These guys are fantastic. h/tThe Anchoress

More On Lights

DIH is proud that she got her Christmas lights up early. And I did it without the help of "Christmas Lights, Inc." or whatever that company's called- the guys with cranes and cherry-pickers that prowl about my neighborhood seeking the ruin of utilities bills and bank accounts. Although I suppose if you're hiring ten guys with a crane to put up your Christmas lights, you're probably not too worried about your bank account.

No, I prefer to keep things simple. Simple, as in my childhood. When Christmas Eve meant us kids sitting on the floor in the livingroom, watching the lights blink on the tree as we twiddled our thumbs in the dark, waiting until it was time to go to Midnight Mass. We would have liked to have sat on the sofa, but my father was always stretched out on it asleep by ten pm. For me the gentle flickering of Christmas lights will always be bound up with the sound of my father's snoring. Ah, memories.

Driving my daughter to school in the early morning darkness, I admire some of the neighbors' lights. There are a few I don't quite get. One house has wavy strips of gold lights hanging from a dogwood. It looks like a bacon tree. Good news for the dogs, not exactly inspiring to the rest of us. Then there's the family next to the school, who a) thoughtfully leave their Christmas tree lit so the arriving kiddies can enjoy it but b) use those ultra-fast-flashing lights, the ones that make it look like the tree is having a seizure. Not exactly what a rattled carpooler needs first thing in the am.

I'm not sure how long my strands of Christmas lights will last this year. The dog seems to find them very tasty. I had to take her to the vet a couple of weeks ago for an x-ray. Her digestive tract was strewn with bits of chewed-up wiring. I've already had to yank down a few half-eaten strands. I just hope I still have a few left on the 25th.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kindlin'

We've all heard about the new Kindle device from Amazon. That little 10-oz. miracle that means we can carry our entire libraries in our tote bags, with none of the resulting nerve damage.

Well, DIH has decided to secure herself one.

This is not a decision made lightly. I had every intention of asking Santa to bring me a Tom-Tom or other navigational device to stick on my dashboard. DIH has no sense of direction and is perpetually getting lost. (Although I prefer to think of myself as the Highway Heraclitus: for all I know I've never driven the same road twice.)

So, navigational device was at the top of my Christmas list, Until I read about the Kindle. At $399. it costs about as much as a navigator, I think. But if I get the Kindle, at least I'll have something to read while I'm waiting for someone to come and find me, right?

Information about the Kindle can be found at

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FI73MA/?tag=despeirishhou-20-20

And I swear, I SWEAR I will never ever ever make anyone cut and paste in the New Year! Resolutin #1! I promise!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Stylin'

ROME (Reuters) - Italian film and opera director Franco Zeffirelli is offering his services to Pope Benedict as an image consultant, saying the German pontiff comes across as cold and needs to review his wardrobe.
...
"It's an issue I have been discussing with people who have key roles in the Vatican," said Zeffirelli, who has directed some Vatican television events.
...
Zeffirelli, 84, added that papal robes were "too sumptuous and flashy." "What is needed is the simplicity and sobriety seen in the other echelons of the Church," he said.


Benny! Baby! Can we talk?

I heard about that Zeffirelli guy saying he could help you out. Listen, if there's one thing I know, it's style, and I gotta tell you I love the man's movies, but clothes? Come on, he dresses like he's the reincarnation of Sinatra or something. You know, Ginzo-- uh, I mean, Italian. I love Italians. Viva l'Italia. Did I mention I did some work in Sicily once? On a picture for Cop'. Fabulous experience.

Anyway, back to the duds. Franco has a point: they're a little dated, you know? Even Tom Wolfe doesn't do the white suits any more. And don't take it personal, kid, but red just isn't your color.

You want something differe, something new, something that says "I am the NOW pope." Here's my idea: You go down in history as the first gansta holy fatha!

A couple of adjustments, that's all it'll take. We ditch the pectoral cross and get you something in diamonds. A big pendant of St. Pete's or something. And "IL PAPA" spelled out underneath. Do you love it? Do you LOVE this idea? You do, I can feel it. I can feel the love.

I notice you wear that little white skullcap. Tell the truth, is it so far from a 'do rag? One little change, big new image.

Red cape, uh-uh. We go with- ready ?- purple. Has that nice "pentitential" vibe to it- remember you're a German, you're supposed to be sorry, right?

All this is just for starters, babe. We'll talk about the hair later. I have a fabulous stylist-- I think his mother was Italian , you're gonna love him.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ICE!

I have a Pilates class in twenty five minutes.

Pilates classes cost money. If you miss one you don't get your money back.

But it is MINUS TWELVE DEGREES OUT THERE!!!

OK, it's zero. But the wind chill makes it feel like minus twelve, according to the US National Weather Service.

I'm sorry, I just think it's crazy to go out in weather like this. I don't care what Jack London says- "Cold begins at minus 20," my a--. Zero is cold. Minus twelve is too freakin' cold.

Pilates, they say, will eventually give me an incredibly strong and perfect body. But what's the good of having a killer bod if you're DEAD? Frozen to a well-toned, core-strengthened, HYPOTHERMIATED BLOCK OF ICE?

I'm not going.

I'm not.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Over the Top

Let's see, what was yesterday. Thursday. Library day. After I picked Sophia up at school we drove to the library and book browsed.

By the time we headed home it was dark. Nevertheless, the neighborhood was full of activity. People were walking their dogs, salting their sidewalks, practicing their cross country skiing.

And the humonguous house across the street was getting its Christmas act on.

I havent' written much about this house, but it is one of the wonders of the world. As in, I wonder why anyone would do that?

For the past three years the owners have been working on the place. They restored, remodelled, repainted. And it took a lot of paint, believe me. This house is about a gazillion square feet. Plus the carriage house, which is bigger than the house I grew up in. When I'm telling people how to find my house, I just tell them to look the house across the street. You can't miss it.

Don't get me wrong- the house is gorgeous, in a huge Victorian barn kind of way. It's just that I wonder how the members of the family that occupies it every manage to even bump into each other. You could get lost easy in a joint that size.

Anyway, yesterday they had the crew out, putting up the lights. I counted. I counted seven crew members and I think I missed a couple of guys on the roof. Plus a crane.
Sophia was delighted. "Oh, look! Look how fancy! Can we do that to out house?"

"No. We're going for tastefully understated this year."

Which means in part, of course, that in DIH's humble opinion you'd have to be nuts to climb up on a roof so you can staple a few strands of lights in place, ony to have to take them down a few weeks later. Risking life and limb for the sake of exterior decor does not strike me as quite in the holiday spirit. It strikes me as bonkers.

It also means I actually think my house looks kind of pretty. I laid a couple of strands of light in the windowboxes and lined the windows in Sophia's room with another strand. And you can see the tree through the livingroom window, and it looks nice and bright.

So to anyone trying to find me: follow the lights to the wonder of the workd, then look around for "tastefully understated." That's me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's That Time Again




Ah, December in Minneapolis! Sub-zero temperatures, a foot and half of snow on the ground- yes., it's definitely time to go out and play!

This is the lake in my neighborhood. They're clearing snow off the surface. After these little bulldozers are done another truck comes along and sprays water on the cleared ice, to make a smooth glassy surface for the skaters. [DIH is hoping to leave the impression she lives in one of those mansions in the background.]

Pictured at the top are the classy facilities thoughtfully provided by the city for said skaters. Hey, it takes a lot of hot chocolate to stay out there.

More From The Religion of Peace

AFP, Dec. 11- Friends and classmates of a 16-year-old girl who police say was murdered by her devout Muslim father in a Toronto suburb told local media Tuesday she was killed for not wearing a hijab.
Police said in a statement they received an emergency call at 7:55 am local time Monday from "a man who indicated that he had just killed his daughter."

The victim, Aqsa Parvez, was "rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries, but tragically passed away late last night."

Her father, Muhammad Parvez, 57, was arrested at the scene and will be formally charged with murder when he appears in court Wednesday, said police.

The girl's friends, meanwhile, told local media she was having trouble at home because she did not conform to the family's religious beliefs and refused to wear a traditional Islamic head scarf, or hijab.

"She wanted to go different ways than her family wanted to go, and she wanted to make her own path, but he (her father) wouldn't let her," one of her classmates told public broadcaster CBC.

"She loved clothes," another of her friends, Dominiquia Holmes-Thompson, told the daily Toronto Star. "She just wanted to show her beauty ... She just wanted to dress like us, just like a normal person."

According to her friends, Aqsa had worn the hijab at school last year, but rebelled in recent months.

They said she would leave home wearing a hijab and loose-fitting clothes, but would take off her head scarf and change into tighter garments at school, then change back before going home at the end of the day.

The victim's 26 year-old brother was also charged with obstructing police in the investigation.
h/t Breitbart via Drudge

Monday, December 10, 2007

People of Faith

I guess it's a better phrase than "I'm spiritual." I mean, come on, if you can actually speak that phrase you have to be corporeal, right?

Mitt Romney declared the other day that he would be true to "the faith of [his] fathers." I think he may be onto something there.

In fact, I'm considering coming out for the faith of my fathers, myself. That's right, the Druids. They were into trees and bushes and the parasites that grew on them. Like misteltoe.

But I'd have to start a reform movement first. No more misteltoe. Too awkward-making, misteltoe.

Unless you're really going to make a sport of misteltoe-shooting. Last time I was in a Carolina swamp a lady bragged to me that her daddy went and shot the misteltoe off the big oaks with a shotgun every Christmas. That's nothing, another lady sniffed, my daddy used a rifle.

So their Christmas traditions included blowing the brains out of defenseless plant life. I wonder if they could be talked into aiming at other plants. Like forsythia. Man, I hate forsythia. Bright screaming yellow - gives me a headache.

But I was speaking of misteltoe. And Druids. And Christmas traditions.

Maybe I'd better not get started on that subject.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Price We'll Pay

There has been a lot of jawboning recently about "the Huckabee surge." Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and evangelical preacher guy, seems to be an increasingly viable Republican candidate.

The reason for Hucakabee's surge, according to some pundits, is one mightily pissed-off bunch of evangelical voters. Huckabee is the only candidate, thye say, who has been consistently pro-life and pro-marriage. He's The Values Guy. And many Christians are so sick of having their values spit on that they're willing to vote for Huckabee.

Now, DIH does not have tons of political opinions,but one thing she has always known: the most important issue in this country is abortion. Period. Life or death. Not only for the murdered babies, but for all of us. If America does not do a 180 on abortion , if we do not pull back from this unspeakable sin and make amends for it, we will pay a terrible price.

This mornig DIH realized Mike Huckabee could be the price.

Good people will vote for this guy because he is sound on the Most Important Issue Since Slavery.

On the other hand, what's Huckabee going to do about the Islamic terrorists? Sing hymns at them? Start an "amen" corner in Mecca? Threaten them with a church picnic? "Have some chicken and ribs, Abdul! They're gooo-ood!"

Huckabee in, abortion out, terrorists in. Goodbye, America. it was fun while it lasted.

You read it here first.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'm With Avraham

From Ace of Spades:

"In a campaign that has spread like wildfire across the Internet, a group of Israeli environmentalists is encouraging Jews around the world to light at least one less candle this Hanukka to help the environment.
The founders of the Green Hanukkia campaign found that every candle that burns completely produces 15 grams of carbon dioxide. If an estimated one million Israeli households light for eight days, they said, it would do significant damage to the atmosphere.

"United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz called the environmentalists "crazy people who are playing with the minds of innocent Jewish people." He said the campaign would only convince people who do not light candles anyway.
"They should encourage people to light one less cigarette instead," Ravitz said."

Lying Awake Annoyed on a Snowy Evening

As a blanket of snow wraps itself around the city, muffling all the humdrum sounds of the streets, I lie in my warm, soft bed at night, pondering the question:

Who is more annoying, people who use their snowblowers at 11 pm, or the ones who rev'em up at 6 in the morning?

Nothing spoils the magic of a snowy winter evenign like the roar of a snowblower. And if you're like me, and you've been trying to tell yourself "snow is MAGIC, dammit! Magic!" ever since you moved here, you really can't afford to have the mood tampered with.

On the other hand, there are the 6 o 'clockers. Granted, they're doing a service by clearing the paths , in bits and stretches anyway. But blasting DIH out of bed is not a service. It's an evil, evil deed.

Go on up to the Great North Woods sometime, where the rich (and in DIH's opinion none-too-bright) build their vacation homes. Mention the word "snowmobile." Hear the torrent of hostility the word brings forth. Those nasty, noisy, smelly things are disturbing our pristine wilderness! And I ought ot be able to afford pristine! Where's my pristine, huh? What am I paying my taxes for? etc.

You never hear that about snowblowers.

My chief beef about snowblowers. of course, I don't have one. Did you ever price snowblowers? Nine hundred bucks for a cheap one. How many Mexican laborers could you hire for nine hundred bucks? It doesn't make sense.

So yes, there's some envy here. Shoveller's envy and all that.

I suppose I'll shovel today, later. Give the city time to call and threaten me with a citation if I don't. They love doing that.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Adios, Hugo

"CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - President Hugo Chavez suffered a stunning defeat Monday in a referendum that would have let him run for re-election indefinitely and impose a socialist system in this major U.S. oil provider.
Voters defeated the sweeping measures Sunday by a vote of 51 percent to 49 percent, said Tibisay Lucena, chief of the National Electoral Council, with voter turnout at just 56 percent."


"The thing is," the spouse muttered over his coffee at 6am, "Hugo Chavez might not care much about being a socialist, but he really cares that we don't care. And we don't. Who cares about a South American socialist, now that the Soviets are gone? Chavez can go ahead ruin his country all he likes, we still won't care."

Well, maybe Hugo find some other country to ruin. Congratulations Venezuela-and by the way, welcome to the twenty-first century.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Enchanted

Will wonders never cease. There's actually a terrific family fiml out there this week.

Disney's "Enchanted" can be read in a lot of ways. It could be labelled a send-up of the classic fairy tale, or an excuse to use as much of the talent of the team that brought you "The Little Mermaid " as possible. DIH prefers to see it as an affirmation of the miracle of true love. With production numbers.

Go see it, and bring the kids. You won't be sorry.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Henry Hyde

Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois died yesterday at the age of 83.

I can't say enough about what Congressman Hyde did for the cause of protecting babies. He led the fight against abortion on demand for more than thirty years. But I thought you'd be interested in the AP's description of his work:

" [Hyde] made a name for himself in1976...by attaching an amendment to a spending bill banning the use of federal funds to carry out abortions. What came to be known as the 'Hyde Ammendment' has since become a fixture in the annual debate over federeal spending and has served as an important marker for abortion foes seeking to discourage women from terminating pregnancies. Hyde was also a leader in passing the ban on so-called partial birth abortions, the first federal restriction on a specific abortion procedure."

Oh yeah. He "made a name for himself" all right. He guaranteed a lifetime of disparagement and ridicule from the mainstream media. He made sure he'd never be invited to the "right" parties or the "right" Hollywood fundraisers. And as for helping out those [evil music in background] "abortion foes" who are all out there [music swells] "seeking to DISCOURAGE WOMEN!! from [replace evil music with spa-style melancholy flutey crap] terminating pregnancies"-- well, we all know what kind of people the press means by that.

Me. You. Us.

Henry Hyde also led the fight against "so-called partial birth abortions." When, oh when will the press come up with another term for sticking a needle in a newborn's skull? I mean, come on, it must be annoying to have to refer to the "so-called' anything. Like the "so-called" twenty firts century, or the "so-called" planet earth.

Rest in peace, Congressman. You fought the good fight. Please pray that rest of us find the courage to follow in your footsteps.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Usual Suspects



I found this picture of The Usual Suspects in my files. They're wearing Tee shirts I bought them at the FBI last summer. (My kid is the last on the right.)
The fine print on the shirts reads "Federal Witness Protection Program."

Happy Talk

A group calling itself Mental Health America has issued a report on depression in the 50 states. Its findings and DIH's analysis follow.

a. The most depressed state in the country is Utah.
b. There are no martinis in Utah.

a. The second most depressed is West Virginia.
b. DIH has lived in West Virginia. Depression is the only reasonable response.

a. The least depressed, happiest state in the Union is South Dakota.
b. Almost no one lives there.

a. New Jersey ranks as third-happiest.
b. You ever been to Jersey? They wouldn't know depression if it were biting them on the a--, and it usually is.

a. The second-happiest state is Hawaii.
b. Surf's up!

a. Minnesota is sixth-happiest.
b. Passive aggressives usually are happy folks. They get to piss everyone off and then act all innocent about it. What's not to enjoy?

a. Louisiana is seventh.
b. Laissez les bon temps rouler, cher!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For That Special Felon On Your List

The perfect gift!

"Artist Lynn Fellman has a different sort of self-portrait on her wall. It features a curiously repetitive sequence of the letters A, T, C and G, a map of several continents and the stylized visage of an African woman. The woman whom she calls Eve is at the root of Fellman's DNA code."

Ms. Fellman, a commercial artist, will paint a picture of your DNA code for $765 ( $650 for the portrait plus $115 for the saliva analysis. Unless you got yours courtesy of the state, I would imagine). "For clients who want their actual likeness included, the cost is $1,800.'

Today's Star Tribune features several of Ms. Fellmans' works, DNA-inspired portraits of a person's "deep ancestry" journey. I'm no art critic, but for some reason they all seem to look like something out of "Lilo and Stich." Seriously.

But I have to say the colors are pretty, and if you want a conversation starter, well. A whole new kind of megalomania awaits you. Ms.Fellmans' studio can be found online at www.FellmanStudio.com.

In addition to her paintings she also features a line of DNA-inspired scarves and neckties.

In other news the New York Times reports that the Kyrgyz prime minister has resigned, after parliament refused to meet his demand for more vowels.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Climate Envy

This morning it was five degrees. Snow tonight, they say. Winter is back in Minnesota.

This afternoon I was in Barnes and Noble, buying some magazines. The pretty young thing at the checkout read the titles. "Creative Screenwriting, Writer's Digest...oh, are you a writer?"

"Uh huh."

"I just graduated with a degree in journalism. I'm taking a job in Hawaii next month!"

"Shut up," I congratulated her.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Refresh My Memory....

...when did Hillary's staff start planting questions "from the audience"?

Because last night, despite the lateness of the hour, DIH was thinking.

Hillary's writers write a question. They give it to a young woman, who recites it in front of the cameras.

Hello, Hollywood? Are you listening? Her WRITERS. WROTE. a LINE. Which was read. WITH CAMERAS RUNNING.

Forgive me for pointing this out but it doesn't really sound like the former First Lady supports the Wrtiers' Strike now, does it? Or am I the only one thinking "scab"?

You might want to think about this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Costco Rules!

Today's New York Times has a piece on how the "elite" of Washington (read "rich Democrats") have turned away from the toney caterers that ruled the roost for decades in our nation's capital, and have turned to Costco, the store where you can be a cheapskate and a glutton at the same time. And you thought Nirvana was unattainable.

Susan Lacz is the chief exectuive of Ridgewell's. Ridgewells' is DC's biggest caterer, known for its high prices and garish purple delivery trucks. Ms. Lacz is appalled at the current trend. “My gosh, it drives me crazy,” she said. “Some of the people I hear are going to Costco, I think, ‘Oh, you must be kidding me.’”

You wanna hear cheap? Check this out:

"The ultimate awkwardness, [Ms. Lacz] said, is when clients want to buy their food from Costco but disguise it: “They’ll say: ‘Why don’t you bring the fancy glassware, and we’ll get the rest from Costco. And could you put it on one of your fancy plates? Oh, and how about some of your fancy ice cream on top?’”

"Ms. Lacz said she was “not going to name names,” but that one of her best clients, a high-end retail store, told her, “We’re going to go to Costco and buy a bunch of stuff, and we want you guys to serve it.”

"To which she replied: “No, you’re not.”

How much you want to bet the people in question were Democrats? The truth is they're a cheap bunch when you get right down to it.

A couple of months ago DIH was in the local Kowalski's, an overpriced grocery store here in Minneapolis, known for its pleasant interior and little teeny tiny cups of free coffee. So I'm on the checkout line and who's in front of me? That's right, Walter Mondale. He pays for his stuff and then almost leaves without his check card. I said, "Hey Walter, you paying for my stuff too?"

You know what he says? "My goodness, no!"

I'm telling you. They're cheap bastards.

For the record DIH wants to say she was practically a charter member of the Arlington Costco, and she is proud to say it. That's right, like many another conservative DIH was out there, paving the way for a change in society long before your Sally Quinns or your Vernon Jordans would shop in the warehouse and admit it.

They're slow learners but at least they finally caught up.

Friday, November 23, 2007

...and Now, The Final Word:

Leaving home of friends who had us over for Thanksgiving dinner.

Tall blonde Midwestern hostess hands me two containers. One is empty.

TBMH: Here's your Servin' Saver. I kept the rest of that cranberry sauce. It was delicious.

The second container is full of a different cranberry sauce DIH thoughfully provided.

DIH: Don't you want to keep the rest of this?

TBMH: Oh, nobody liked that one.
'

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cranberry Thoughts

Cranberry sauce brings out the worst in people.

Oh yes, it does. You thought it was stuffing that did it, didn't you? Well, you're wrong. There's nothing like a cranberry sauce feud to get a family Thanksgiving off to a rollicking start.

You start out with you little nuclear family. You're a kid. The stuff comes out of a can, and you love it.

Then you start acquiring in-laws. And all of a sudden people want to "talk" about the cranberry sauce. As in, "We have to have a talk about the cranberry sauce." And everyone knows those "talks" only lead to grief.

Then your siblings start acquiring in-laws, too. And it might be that your nuclear family learned from the first in-law experience, and is thinking,"Maybe we should humor this group."

And now, of course, you're screwed.

Because in-law Batch #2, it turns out, consider themselves cranberry conossieurs. They would never dream of consuming canned stuff. Oh no. They get "creative" with cranberry sauce. They create cranberry "relishes" and "compotes." They add brandy and walnuts and God knows what. I was once threatened with pineapple. Seriously.

All this is why DIH is bringing the cranberry sauce to tomorrow's festivities- well, that and the cheesecake. And if the folks who invited us don't like it, well, fine, they can talk about us after we've gone home.

Go ahead, call me a control freak. There are some things it just isn't worth taking chances with.

The Day Before

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. DIH is thankful that she's not making dinner.

I am, however, supposed to make a cheesecake, to take to the people who are making dinner. DIH makes a killer cheesecake. This is not bragging. This is simple fact.

Not, of course, that everyone appreciates cheesecake. The million children who will also be in attendance at dinner tomorow will probably be happier with an ice pop and a bag of Mr. Chips. Let them, the little savages.

Despite the fact that I am not hosting a Thanksgiving dinner I did buy a turkey earlier this week. I suppose I should roast it. The alternative is letting it sit in the fridge taking up space until its expiration date is a distant memory. Maybe I'll cook it this weekend, then break it down for a year's worth of turkey curry. It's always good to have something in the freezer.

Especially now that the holiday season is underway. You know how it is- you go to work, you pick up the kid, you drive her to her piano lesson or whatever, while she's there you make a dash to the supermarket or the Best Buy or whatever, or you tear over to the lot to pick out your Christmas tree while it's still light enough to see the ones that don't have squirrels' nests in them. And then what happens? Dinnertime, and there's no food. So you order a pizza.

Do this a few times a week. Watch the scales tip. Hate self by New Year's.

No, this year's gonna be different. This year DIH will have a freezer full of turkey curry and lentil soup. No last-minute pizzas this time around, boy. I don't want five more pounds for Christmas.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Things You Never Want to Hear..

...while a contractor is working on your second floor windows:

[to his assistant] "Well, when you get Mickey Mouse and Goofy to work on your house, what do you expect?"

I just heard that. Just now.

And now a lot of banging.

Lord, the party never stops around here....

Will Wonders Never Cease?

"Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading" [NYT, today, headline]

"Americans — particularly young Americans — appear to be reading less for fun, and as that happens, their reading test scores are declining. At the same time, performance in other academic disciplines like math and science is dipping for students whose access to books is limited, and employers are rating workers deficient in basic writing skills."

FInd The Fun Phrase contest:

Well, DIH already found it. It's that "students whose access to books is limited." DIH can smell a demand for more federal funding a mile away. But presumably there are plenty of kids whose "access to books" is not limited who aren't reading, either.

Oops- that could be misconstrued. That could mean the teachers' union is screwing up on the instruction and encouragement front...

Forget I said anything.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No, That Would Be Mao

"JIANMIN VILLAGE, China — Last year, Chinese officials celebrated the completion of the Three Gorges Dam by releasing a list of 10 world records. As in: The Three Gorges is the world’s biggest dam, biggest power plant and biggest consumer of dirt, stone, concrete and steel. Ever. Even the project’s official tally of 1.13 million displaced people made the list as record No. 10. Today, the Communist Party is hoping the dam does not become China’s biggest folly." [NYT 11-18)

"Biggest folly"? Like, persecuting anyone who wore eyeglasses or taught school or played the violin in the 1960s, because they were, you know, "intellectuals"?

"In recent weeks, Chinese officials have admitted that the dam was spawning environmental problems like water pollution and landslides that could become severe. Equally startling, officials want to begin a new relocation program that would be bigger than the first."

But smaller than the "relocation program" formerly known as the "Cultural Revolution," right?

"The rising controversy makes it easy to overlook what could have been listed as world record No. 11: The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest man-made producer of electricity from renewable energy. Hydropower, in fact, is the centerpiece of one of China’s most praised green initiatives, a plan to rapidly expand renewable energy by 2020."

You gotta love those green initiatives. In fact, you gotta praise 'em. They make up for a thousand slave labor camps , don't they?

"The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming."

OMG!! You mean it's NOT the United States that's causing global warming? Hey- does this mean those Kyoto folks had their head up their heinies when they excluded China from restrictions- you know, the ones we would have had to follow? Nah, that can't be right. The Kyoto accords were a good thing, do you hear? Good, good, GOOD THING!

"Dams are much cleaner producers of electricity, but they have displaced millions of people in China and carved a stark environmental legacy on the landscape."

Hey, it's not so bad, is it? I mean, it's not like Mao's come back to life and ordered the destruciton of the landscape himself again, right? This time it was the environmentalists! And they're the good guys! So this wave of destruction is A-OK in their book!

Right?

Why The Hollywood Writers' Strike Is A Good Thing

"The Hollywood writers strike has claimed its highest-profile movie to date: Columbia Pictures late today announced that with the strike nearing its third week, it is postponing production of "Angels & Demons," the prequel to blockbuster "The Da Vinci Code."

"The decision comes as the Writers Guild of America continues to picket outside Hollywood studios and networks in a labor impasse that shows no signs of being resolved soon.

"In late October, as the strike deadline approached, Oscar-winning writer-producer Akiva Goldsman was hurrying to complete the latest draft of "Angels & Demons." He told The Times: "It's pencil down until midnight on Halloween," adding, "It's unavoidably intensely stressful, but it's the way of the world right now."

"Today, Columbia released a statement that called the screenplay "very strong" but added: "we do not believe it is the fully-realized production draft required of this ambitious project." Filming was to have begun in February." [LA Times, November 18)

If only they'd struck sooner....

The Jump on the Season

DIH is getting the jump on the Christmas season.

[Understand that when I say "the Christmas season" I also mean Hanukkah. But not Kwanzaa. Don't waste my time with Kwanzaa.]

I have hauled decorations out of the attic, sized up the ornament situation. Haven't sized up the lights situation yet. That takes a lot more fortitude than ornaments.

The reason for this, of course, is the amygdala.

At least I think I mean the amygdala. A therapist friend once told me there's a part of your brain that stores emotional reactions from childhood, or something like that. I think it's the amygdala. Anyway mine is chock full of memories of my father trying to deal with Christmas lights. It's not a pretty picture. You know that "fight or flight" impluse we're all supposed to have? Mine is permanently set at "flight" where Christmas lights are concerned.

My amygdala aside, I have also reviewed the Christmas music situation. The music situation looks good. I have tons of Christmas music. More than any decent person should have, really. I mean, come on, Connie Francis? And do I really need two renditions of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"? I should probably clear some of that stuff out.

As we all know, getting ready for the holidays early is a sign of virtue and wisdom. So you get your work started and you feel pretty virtuous and wise.

And then some jerk comes along as says "It isn't the Christmas season yet. It's the Advent season." WIth a little sniff or something.
And then you can just kiss your virtue goodbye, because there's no other way to deal with such people except with a very direct response. "Bite me" is a good one. Gets the point across, unless they're unusually dense.

I used to be one of those people who was horrified by the sight of Christmas things in the stores before Thanksgiving. Then I grew up and became the person in charge of all the Christmas stuff for my family- decorating, cards, travel, shopping, etc. Now I see Christmas gear in the stores early and I think "oh thank God, I've got to find a neon palm tree right away" and I get down to business.

And anybody who thinks that is out of step with the calendar of the Church season, I have two responses for you:

1. You're right. Advent comes first. Advent is crucial if we are to be truly ready for Jesus's birth. No Promised Land without wandering in the desert for forty years and all that.

2. I have ten years' worth of work to do in four weeks. Bite me.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Is Still Unbelievable

"A court in the ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is punishing a female victim of gang rape with 200 lashes and six months in jail, a newspaper reported on Thursday.
The 19-year-old woman -- whose six armed attackers have been sentenced to jail terms -- was initially ordered to undergo 90 lashes for "being in the car of an unrelated male at the time of the rape," the Arab News reported.

But in a new verdict issued after Saudi Arabia's Higher Judicial Council ordered a retrial, the court in the eastern town of Al-Qatif more than doubled the number of lashes to 200.

A court source told the English-language Arab News that the judges had decided to punish the woman further for "her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media." [AFP]

90 lashes for being in the car with her rapist. What's the penalty for being pinned to the ground under the rapist? She probably violated the dress code while being raped, too, wouldn't you think?

Wait, it gets worse. The rapists were Sunni Muslims, who run the show in Saudi. The victim was a Shiite. So I bet they can come up with some "violation of her class place" charge if they think about it hard enough.

In other news our good friend Steve is in Kuwait as I blog, waiting to catch up with the soldiers he'll be embedded with. Please pray for Steve's saftey!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Some Good News

Nuns facing eviction get help

An Episcopal order has agreed to take in the three women whose convent is being sold.
By Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 15, 2007
Three Roman Catholic nuns who learned last summer that their Santa Barbara convent would be sold to help cover the costs of Los Angeles' multimillion-dollar abuse payout have been offered a temporary home by an order of Episcopal nuns in the same city.

The three Sisters of Bethany will move around Thanksgiving to St. Mary's Retreat House, an Episcopal center near the Santa Barbara Mission, according to the nuns' spokesman and to a relative of one of the nuns. The center is a ministry of the Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity, an order based in Wisconsin.

The offer is temporary, but open-ended.

"They've been told they are welcome to stay as long as need be," said Rosemary Escalera Gutierrez of Hacienda Heights whose sister is the Catholic nuns' local superior, Sister Angela Escalera. Gutierrez said her sister and the others were grateful for the offer and relieved to find a place to live, even on an interim basis.

Escalera, 69, and two other nuns at the Sisters of Bethany house in Santa Barbara received notice in late August that their small convent, which is owned by the Los Angeles Archdiocese, would be sold to help pay for the church's $660-million clergy abuse settlement. The women were told they had until Dec. 31 to move out.

GO, ARCHDIOCESE OF L.A.!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

"The reason for all the fuss was a 20-year-old actress named Harriet Andersson, or, more likely, the discreet glimpses of her naked breasts and the charmingly broad expanse of her unclothed rear."
(New York Times, review of Ingmar Bergman's "Monika"(1952), re-released this year.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

ILVGLBLWRMG

Temps to hit 60 today in Mini-Apple. DIH is psyched. Take that, ice-fishers!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Fun and Games With The New York Times

DIH hates to ask such a tedious question on a Monday morning, but did anyone read the New York Times yesterday?
If you're not snoring already you will be when you see the headline:

"Broken Supply Channel Sent Arms for Iraq Astray."

zzzzz....
whah? Huh? oh yeah, I was blogging.

The article was on the front page, it was loooong and dull, about an Iraqi businessman named Kassim al-Safar. Mr. Safar is suspected of selling arms intended for Iraqi forces to anyone who would pay.

OK, now for the fun part! It's time to play Find the Most Fun Phrase!

And the nominees are:

"co-workers say he also turned the armory into his own private arms bazaar"

" with the seeming approval of some American officials and executives."

"his dealings were murky" ['murky.' Love that word. Wish I could have used it more often, back in college, say. Saves an awful lot of study time.]

"Nearly a half-dozen American and Iraqi workers say his gun business was an open secret" [DIH has to ask here: how many is "nearly half a dozen"?]

"Already there is evidence that some American-supplied weapons fell into the hands of guerrillas" ['there is some evidence' is another good one. Man, where were theses guys when I was writing my term papers?]

All of the above is just the windup. The good stuff doesn't come in until midway through the article.

And heeeeeere's the pitch:

"Many of those weapons were issued when Gen. David H. Petraeus, now the top American commander in Iraq, was responsible for training and equipping Iraqi security forces in 2004 and 2005."

Ah-HA!!! So when some Iraqi may or may not have been stealing stuff ( his dealings were "murky," after all- note to self: check criminal code for penalty for "murkiness"), Genreal Petraeus was in charge of the entire Iraqi security force! That makes him a corrupt official, doesn't it?!! GOTCHA, BETRAY-US!!!

Or at least that's the charge we can expect from the Times--eventually. The whole "Petraeus is a lousy commander" line is clearly as bust,so they're going to try for "Petraeus is corrupt." That could take a little buildup. Better to start on that one right away- it's only , what, seven weeks to the Iowa Cacus? Oops, make that "more than half a dozen."

My personal favorite part: if you go to the Times Archives to find the article you also get "Related Ads:"
» Iraq War
» Vietnam War Documentary
» Vietnam DVD
» Vietnam History
» Vietnam Lessons

Yeah, the Times likes to keep things orderly.

DIH has a suggestion: Let's start a pool. How long before the Times puts that in the lead paragraph? Before the Iowa Caucus? After? The books are open, everybody.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Say 'No' To Nyquil

HI. I'm Desperate.
[Hi, Desperate!]

Hi, um, I --well, there's no easy way to say it. I took some Nyquil.
[Awww...]

Yeah, And it's worse, I - I took it at four o'clock this morning.
[Gasps. Murmurs of 'intervention...']

No, no, I'm okay now. Almost. I'm on my fourth cup of Joe--

[You're just changing your drug of choice,, you know....]

I had to. I needed the antidote. I'm switching to Diet Coke after this one, I promise. At least I won't be adding sugar, right?
[understanding laughter]

Anyway, you all know the story but I guess I should tell it anyway. I just couldnt' breathe. Four in the morning and I was gasping for breath, I can't believe my sinuses got so stuffed so fast. I was fine when I went to bed! But I should have known better, I thought that nice relaxed feeling I had last night was a good thing, but...well, obviously, it just meant trouble was coming.

Finally I took the Nyquil, end of story. Nobody held a gun to my head. I just took it. Then I had to get up at 6 to walk the dog. All I can say is I thank my Higher Power there's no such thing as "Walking under the influence" laws in this state. Yet. I was just lucky I could find my way home. But that might have been the dog.

So now trying to put my life back together. Wish me luck.

Thanks for letting me share.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And So It Begins....

Ever have one of those mornings when you look out the window and immediately a horrified shriek bursts forth from your lips?

I just had one. And since I'm in the coffeeshop it was a little embarassing.

Reason for shriek: it's snowing. Big, fat flakes- as pretty as a snow globe. But DIH is not fooled. She knows what this means.

Find some place to store the patio furniture. Lug in the patio furniture. Call home repair guy and plead with him to please, please, please come over and install the window I bought last spring to replace the old one that didnt' shut all the way. Remember that feeling of solid, homeownerly accomplishment you felt yesterday when you finally called the gutter guy? Kiss that feeling goodbye, girlfriend. You're too late. Again.

OK, maybe not yet. It night stop snowing. It looks like it's letting up even now. But it will be back. Soon. And next time it won't be just a teaser, either.

Be afraid, ye warm-blooded mammals of the frozen North. Be very afraid.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Feel Like Harry Truman

WAIT! WAIT!

You can still vote! Until 2pm today!!! (Thanks, bb!!)

Vote, vote, vote for Desperate Irish Housewife!

The Results Are In

DIH extends her heartiest and envious congratulations to Dooce, winner of the Best Diartist title in the 2007 Weblog Awards. I had never seen Dooce's blog before but it's wonderful. Hey Dooce- I hear you're an ex-Mormon. That means this calls for champagne, right?

DIH tied for fifth place, which is not at all bad for her first time out of the gate. Thanks to all who voted for me.

If you go to
http://2007.weblogawards.org/polls/best-diarist-1.php

you can see all the results, plus links to the other finalists. Good stuff there. Hit the "Return to the 2007 Weblog Award Poll Navigation Page" line to check other results.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

#6 And Holding

That's my current ranking in the "Weblog" Awards.

I guess it beats 7,8,9 and 10. But still.

I've pondered the reasons for my mid-level ranking, and I keep coming back to the same thing: I should read my email more often. Also check comments more seriously.

Last week I got a notice that I was "Blog of the Day." Ha, I sez to myself. Do I look like I was born yesterday? This is obviously some ploy to get me to check out some phony website that will only get me in troulel again. (I haven't forgotten the Great Porno Hijacking of earlier this year. Make that the Not-So-Great-- no, make it The Repulsive P.H.)

So, I didn't check.

Then there's a message in the Comments section. "Good luck in the Weblog Awards!" Yeah, right, I muttered. Like I'm going to fall for that one. Obviously someone's trying to trick me into voting for a friend of theirs. What, I owe them something?

So, I didn't follow up on that one, either.

It wasn't until yesterday morning that I finally logged onto the Awards website. Reason: raw envy. I was cruising the blogosphere and noticed a number of my favorites touting themselves for the Awards. Man, I said to myself, that does it. What do I have to do to become a Famous Blog? What have these guys got that I haven't got, besides technical expertise and tireless reporting and style and wit and all that jazz? I have to know! I want to be Just Like Them!

So, that's when I checked the lists. And to my amazement, THERE I WAS.

When I got done running around the house whooping like a crazed Confederate I realized, "uh-oh... all these other guys have been garnering votes for days. And voting closes tomorrow. I gotta make up for lost time!" Which would not have been lost in the first place if only DIH were not so gloriously lazy.

By last night I was doing some calculations. I could have voted for myself six times by now. That would push the numbers up. And if everyone who voted for the blog in the #1 spot already votes for it again tomorrow, well, you got your geomteric progression there. And it would take a blogosphere physicist to beat something like that.

As to how I did in mere high school physics, let's not even go there.

Well,there's nothing for it but to keep begging- uh, plugging. Please go the the Awards website (linked here yesterday- scroll down and there it will be, just waiting for YOUR fingertip) and vote for DIH in the Best Diarist category. Then go check out the other categories and vote for those guys, too.

[Then add a note in their "Comments" sections telling them to vote for the Best Web Diarist in Upper Midwest. Me, me, ME!]

Okay, I feel better now.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

WOW!!!

Ahem.

AHEM!

Be it known to all present that

DESPERATE IRISH HOUSEWIFE has been named a finalist in the 2007 Weblog Awards!

That's right, little old DIH has been named in the "Best Diarist" category! She's on THE list, baby!

http://2007.weblogawards.org/polls/best-diarist-1.php

Go there and vote for me, me, ME!! And this is important- voting began last Thursday, and ends, like, tomorrow. The winner will be announced this Thursday. So you have to vote NOW. RIGHT NOW. You can vote once every 24 hours. As of now the guy ahead of me has over 660 votes. I'm next with like, 50. So please vote!


Thank you.

More Striking Thoughts

DIH spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning out her attic.

[wild applause]

Thank you, thank you. It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. [someone hums national anthem]

On Monday morning, DIH went to her Pilates class.

[awestruck gasps]

And on Monday evening, she went to her first tae kwon do class in five years.

[SHOCKED gasps]

The result of all this virtuous activity is DIH now has a cramp in her right thigh that requires her to scream every five minutes. So she has decided to work at home today, in order to scream in privacy.

But I have a plan. They're sure to notice I'm missing at the coffee shop sooner or later. I mean, who else hogs the sole electrical outlet for hours at a time? Yep, sooner or later some customer is gonna say, "Hey-- didn't this place used to have a certain literary , um, you know, tone? Or do I mean panache? What do you mean, there's no writer on the premises? Who am I going to consult on my choice of words? Has she gone on strike, too? What are we going to do about this? Meet her demands at once- offer her free java! And I don't mean house blend, I mean triple lattes! Extra shots! Whatever it takes, we've got to get her back! "

Oh yeah. Any minute now, they're gonna cave. I can feel it in my central nervous system.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Striking

The Writers Guild of America is now officially on strike. Not one of it 4,000 members will pick up a pen in servicve of television or cinema until the strike is settled.

The talk shows will be the first to go down. You can't have Jon Stewart just winging it up there every night. Soaps will probably be next, after a week or so of pre-taped stuff. Other TV stuff will go on as usual for the rest of the season, they've been filming in advance for a while. Movies won't be much affected either- stockpiled scripts.

All of this has DIH thinking. If the poor oppressed Hollywood writers who get paid in the six figures feel the need to strike, what about us unpaid struggling blogging types? The USBTs? Where's the justice for us? Huh?

"USBT Local #371 in Minneapolis refuses to accept another contract until she is at least offered one!"

"Until justice is served you moguls can keep your paychecks exactly where you've been keeping them all along! Fight the power!"

"Better working conditions! A desk at least, for pete's sake! Maybe even a filing cabinet! Free coffee in the coffeeshop- hey, who do you think has been giving that place a certain literary tone all year? Don't tell me that's not worth something! And where the heck is my Sitemeter? I want my Sitemeter!"

Wait, that last demand might not help the cause to much. Forget the Sitemeter. Just give me a place to plug in my laptop at the coffeeshop and we'll call it a deal.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Almost Heaven But Not Quite

New York Times, Sunday November 4
CHARLESTON, W.Va., Nov. 3 (AP) — At Marshall University, pagan students are now allowed to miss classes to observe religious holidays or festivals.

A new policy makes the university in Huntington, W.Va., with an enrollment of about 14,000, possibly the only college in the country to protect pagans formally from being penalized for missing classes, although many institutions have policies intended to protect students of every faith.

One Marshall student, George Fain, took advantage of the policy on Thursday, missing class in observance of Samhain, a pagan and Wiccan holiday honoring the dead.

“I think we may have opened a door,” Ms. Fain said of the policy. “Now that we know we can be protected, that the government will stand behind us and we feel safe, it’s going to be more prevalent.”

Putting aside the obvious- that for certain parts of West Virginia, paganism is a step up-- let's consider the implications of Marshall's new policy.

Suppose they go whole hog and let pagans have the run of the place. Would it really change things much? There must be a few tree-huggers there already, so hedge worship is covered, and any campus with fraternities already has its share of naked, drunken rites at midnight. And as for concocting sacred potions, somebody's grandaddy's got a still somewhere, so no worries there either.

Okay, so everybody would have to learn how to pronounce "Samhain," and students would learn when the equinox is. They might even learn what "equinox" means, which is grade school earth science stuff but DIH has learned never to expect too much from American education.

I don't know. I just dont' see any problems with this development. Am I missing something?

In other news DIH has decided she must give up the Butterfingers in the evening. When you start dreaming about Chief Justice Roberts driving a big rig, it's time to make a change.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Feel Better Now

"What we [writers] do is feel failed all day long. Because we all know that what's in our head is dazzling and what's on the page sucks." - William Goldman
[h/t Some Have Hats]

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Adult Edgeacayshun is Good For U

A few weeks ago I signed up for a screenwriting class. This was in order to force myself to rewrite a screenplay that I finished a year ago. I figured the goad of class assignments would get me moving again.

So now I have to read my next fifteen pages Thursday night. Which means I have to rewrite them this morning, because tomorrow is Halloween and I won't be home to write and Thursday is the class.

Yep. Motivation. I love it. Makes you get right down to work. Other writers might screw around with reading the paper or catching up on the blogosphere, or maybe even cleaning the house. But not me, boy. I get right down to business. Hit the ground running, that's my motto.

I like my motto. "Hit the ground running." Sounds like you've jumped out of a plane. Which if you decide to become a writer you pretty much have done, because what kind of idiot goes around jumping out of planes? I'll tell you what kind: the kind that decides becoming a writer is a really smart career move. The kind that wouldnt' listen to all those people who told her to go to law school or sell Avon or something, so she wouldnt' be throwing her life away--

But I digress.

About my screenplay. I think it needs a love interest. All movies need love interests. Even courtroom- drama- espionage ones like mine.

I hate love interests. Why do people have to go around screwing up perfectly good courtroom dramas with love interests? Yech. But they do help you do screenwriting-type things like reveal "motivation" and "character arcs" and s--t like that. I ought to know. I take screenwriting classes. Cost me a bundle, but hey, when I sell my screenplay that three hundred bucks will seem like a drop in the bucket, right?

I'll tell you one thing, when I sell my screenplay you won't catch me skiing at Aspen. I hear that's what your supposed to do, go skiing at Aspen and slam into Barbra Streisand on the slopes or something. The last thing I'd want to do is slam into Barbra Streisand on a slope. Let's not even contemplate that picture, it's too ugly. And loud. Very, very loud.

All right already. Back to the salt mines. I wonder who the patron saint of screenwriting is. I'd like a word or two with him/her. Like, today.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Repeat After Me: This Is a Bad Thing

New York Times, Monday October 29
NARSARSUAQ, Greenland — A strange thing is happening at the edge of Poul Bjerge’s forest...

Its four oldest trees — in fact, the four oldest pine trees in Greenland, named Rosenvinge’s trees after the Dutch botanist who planted them in a mad experiment in 1893 — are waking up. After lapsing into stately, sleepy old age, they are exhibiting new sprinklings of green at their tops, as if someone had glued on fresh needles.

“The old ones, they’re having a second youth,” said Mr. Bjerge, 78, who has watched the forest, called Qanasiassat, come to life, in fits and starts, since planting most of the trees in it 50 years ago. He beamed like a proud grandson. “They’re growing again.”

Now that the climate is warming, it is not just old trees that are growing. A Greenlandic supermarket is stocking locally grown cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage this year for the first time. Eight sheep farmers are growing potatoes commercially. Five more are experimenting with vegetables. And Kenneth Hoeg, the region’s chief agriculture adviser, says he does not see why southern Greenland cannot eventually be full of vegetable farms and viable forests.

“If it gets warmer, a large part of southern Greenland could be like this,” Mr. Hoeg said, walking through Qanasiassat, a boat ride from Narsarsuaq, a tiny southern community notable mostly for having an international airport. Two and a half acres near here of imported pines, spruces, larches and firs are plunked in the midst of the scrubby, rocky hillside next to the fjord, as startling as a mirage. “If it gets a little warmer, you could talk about a productive forest with enough wood for logs,” Mr. Hoeg said.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Showtime

Ahem.

This afternoon at 2:30 DIH will give a reading from her memoir, "Breakfast With The Pope," at the Harvest Moon Coffeehouse in St.Louis Park.

The reading is free and the coffee is kiler. All are invited.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Boo, baby.

It's Halloween. DIH loves Halloween. She loves ghost stories and stuff like that, even though they give her nightmares. She loves Butterfingers bars and any excuse to buy huge bags of them. On a not-enirely-related note, she LOVES graveyards, especially old one. Such fascinating placemy
This year we decided to throw a Halloween party. And for the past few days I have been up to her eyeballs in fake cobwebs, vats of chili, and of course more eyeballs. You can never have too many eyeballs, that's my motto.

So DIH has not been blogging much, as chili powder has a way of dulling her senses. As soon as I come to I will write again.

In the meantime if anyone has any good ideas for Halloween party music do please pass it on.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Catchphrase Material

October 22, 2007
Clinton Finds Way to Play Along With Drudge

By JIM RUTENBERG New York Times
"WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 — As Senator Barack Obama prepared to give a major speech on Iraq one morning a few weeks ago, a flashing red-siren alert went up on the Drudge Report Web site. It read, “Queen of the Quarter: Hillary Crushes Obama in Surprise Fund-Raising Surge,” and, “$27 Million, Sources Tell Drudge Report.”
...
Mrs. Clinton’s aides declined to discuss how the Drudge Report got access to her latest fund-raising figures nearly 20 minutes before the official announcement went to supporters. But it was a prime example of a development that has surprised much of the political world: Mrs. Clinton is learning to play nice with the Drudge Report and the powerful, elusive and conservative-leaning man behind it."

"Powerful, elusive." I like the sound of that. I wonder if DIH could ever land such a catchphrase.

I have "elusive" down, I think. I do all the right things there- forget to show up for meetings, barely recognize my kid's teachers, lose the portable phone a lot, and I still haven't figured out how to retrieve voice mail messages from my mobile. So I'm sure there are folks out there who think I'm avoiding them.

But "powerful." Now that's going to take some work.

Hm.

"DIH is an anonymous Internet muse who--"

Oh, right. My name's on this blog. Pity I didn't catch on to the anonymity game earlier. You can say some really outrageous things so long as no one knows where to find you. Me, I gotta be careful. I'm in the phone book, after all.

"I don't like to brag but I do have a key to the pantry of Holy Family Church's coffee room--"

Nah, that's no good either. Half a dozen people have that key. And I'm sure they're already eyeing me suspiciously.

"Mrs. Vigilante is the mastermind behind the notorious annual St. Nicholas Day Party and all the destruction ensuing therefrom--"

But since the kids only wreck my house I guess that wouldn't inspire awe. Maybe I should consider unleashing them on the city next time.

I'm gonna have to think about this. In the meantime I have a Pilates class to rush to. Which is supposed to make me powerful but so far has only made me sore. But hey, that's nothing. I promised my daughter I'd start tae kwon do again this week. Now that's gonna hurt.

Friday, October 19, 2007

And I Gotta Say

Thank you all for your support duting my strange blackout, or whatever this is. It was nice of so many of you to post a comment!
I still cannot access the blog from my laptop. I can access Blogger and put up new posts, and I'm using my husband's laptop to check the blog itself. But like I said, as long as no one's replacing me with porn I'm ok.

Break's Over

I guess. I'm back from my trip to the East Coast. Man, that was fun.

The occasion was the Eleventh Annual Telecosm Conference. This is a gathering of high tech eggheads and moneybags that takes place in some fancy resort every year around this time. DIH has not attended a Telecosm since the combined effects of 9/11 and the tech wreck made it a rather gloomier get-together than usual. So it's been six years, and thankfully things have cheered up considerably since then.

This year's Telecosm was held at the Sagamore Inn in Bolton's Landing, N.Y. on Lake George. DIH is not much of a one for lakes generally- no tide, no noise, no nothin' freaks her out a bit- but Lake George is amazing. 40 miles long, surrounded by the Adirondacks, totally nature preserved- there isn't a light on the shoreline after dark. Makes it easy to feel the place is essentially the same as it was thousands of years ago, when the first of the Mohicans lived in those parts, or at least what it was like three hundred fifty years ago, when it was the setting for "The Last of the Mohicans." Which makes you want to see the movie- uh, I mean read the book again.

The Sagamore Inn has been around since the early 1900's. Back then it billed itself as "a resort for nice people." Thank God the times have changed or DIH would never have been able to weasel her way in.

It still has that old-fashioned feel to it. There's a pool nowadays but it's small, the bathrooms are not as numerous or large as one would like, and the wood-burning fireplace in the lobby is actually important for warmth. Still it does its best to keep up with the times. There is a spa but, and this is very classy in DIH's opinion, no exercise classes. So no guilt about not going to them.

Instead DIH had a facial and a massage. For an additonal 35 bucks she could have sat in a bubble bath full of some mustard mixture, but time ran short.

There were two talks DIH planned to attend in between spa treatments and keeping the daughter occupied. The first was supposed to feature that guy who wrote "The Cult of the Amateur," you know, that book that says the Internet is ruining society because all these upstarts without PH.D.s or journalism degrees have the audacity to publish blogs. Naturally DIH was itching to take a swing at this guy, but- and this, i think- speaks volumes- at the last minute he didnt' show up. So score one for the bloggers there.

The second was the wrap-up address by the mesmerizing Carver Mead, major physics braniac from Cal Tech and all-around fun guy. DIH did get to hear that one. As usual she understood maybe five per cent of what he was saying, but it was a five per cent worth travelling for.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now What?

For some reason DIH is unable to access her own blog from her own laptop.

On the positive side, at least so far no porno site has come up in its place. But who knows.

Anyway I wonder if anyone out there is reading this.

Monday, October 15, 2007

GIMME GIMME GIMME!

The folks at http://2007.weblogawards.org/

Now accepting nominations for the 2007 Weblog awards. Nominations close today I think.

So it's probably too late, but...

If they happen to have a "Conservative Catholic Wiseass" category...

Well, you know the rest.

Insightful

Reader "Joke" responds:

"I bet the NYT war correspondent promptly published the kitten's whereabouts and daily movements for the benefit of all the mad dogs of neighborhood.

"After all, Dobermans have a right to know."

-J.

4:05

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Everything You Need to KNow About the New York Times' War Correspondents

"What Cats Know About War


By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: October 14, 2007
"IT was a bitterly cold night in the Baghdad winter of 2005, somewhere in the predawn hours before the staccato of suicide bombs and mortars and gunfire that are the daily orchestration of the war. Alone in my office in The Times’s compound beside the Tigris River, I was awaiting the telephoned “goodnight” from The Times foreign desk, eight time zones west, signaling that my work for the next day’s paper was done.

"That is when I heard it: the cry of an abandoned kitten, somewhere out in the darkness, calling for its mother somewhere inside the compound. By an animal lover’s anthropomorphic logic, those desperate calls, three nights running, had come to seem more than the appeal of a tiny creature doomed to a cold and lonely death. Deep in the winter night, they seemed like a dismal tocsin for all who suffer in a time of war."

Does DIH really have to say anything?
Please tell me I don't have to say anything.

Friday, October 12, 2007

SPEECHLESS!

AL GORE WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE!
BILL CLINTON HAS FIT THAT TURNS HIM INTO A TARANTULA!

DIH LAUGHING TOO HARD EVEN TO BLOG!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

And Speaking of 'Ridiculous'

"Thursday October 11- New York's iconic Empire State Building is to be lit up green from Friday in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid, the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar marking the end of Ramadan, officials said.
'This is the first time that the Empire State Building will be illuminated for Eid, and the lighting will become an annual event in the same tradition of the yearly lightings for Christmas and Hannukah,' according to a statement.

"Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month, is expected to be celebrated in New York from Friday, depending on when the new moon is sighted, and the city's tallest skyscraper will remain green until Sunday.

"Built in the early 1930s, the 443-meter-tall (1,454-feet-tall) Empire State Building was first lit up with colored lighting in 1976, when red, white and blue lights were used to mark the American Bicentennial.

"An estimated seven million Muslims live in the United States." [h/t Breitbart.com]


And why not? They light the Empire State Building up green for St. Patrick's Day, don't they? And like the Irish, the Islamists have done so much to build up the city....;

Uh-- um... let's try that again.

And why not? They light up the Empire State with red, white and green for Columbus Day, don't they? And like the Italians the Moslems have contributed so much life and liveliness to New York--

Drat!

And why not? They light up the Empire State with blue and white for Hanukkah, don't they? And given the Jewish people's astonishing contributions to the rule of justice in law---

Rats...

Wait, wait. I got it.

And why not? They lit the Empire State up with lucky clover green for one of those big Lotto drawings once, didn't they? And isn't life just a crapshoot after all? I mean you just never know when someone might crash a jet into a building and murder your friends and family, right? So what the heck! Go green for the end Ramadan! Eat up for Eid, America!

And remember, that feast could be your last meal ever.

I've Heard of Liturgical Dance, But This Is Ridiculous

"Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Thursday October 11- Joe Glowacki and his band will perform during a polka mass. Sunday, Sacred Heart Polish National Catholic Church, 420 22nd Ave."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bestsellers

This week's New York Times Bestseller List for "Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous" includes the following:

#1. The Secret. "...the key to getting what you want."
#2. The Weight Loss Cure "They" Dont' Want You to Know About.
...
#5. Secret Societies. "A professed psychic explores the influence of secretive organizations."


That settles it. DIH is going into the bestseller-writing business.
All I need now is a book proposal, right? Hmm...

"Your Secret Is Safe With Me." Everything DIH knows about the private lives of celebrities, but she'd never give away in a million years.

"I'm Not Telling." How DIH amassed her fortune is a subject best kept under wraps.

"Like I'd Tell You?" How DIH keeps her youthful good looks, volume one.
"For Me To Know And You To Find Out." Volume 2.

"Wouldn't You Like To Know!" DIH gives the key to influencing people in power- as if!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Absolutely Totally Shameless!

Self-promotion!

http://www.nationalreview.com

DIH has a piece today about "Gossip Girl." Enjoy.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Hot Hot Hot

For the past few days MInnesotans have been freaked out by the weather. Here it is October and it hit 87 yesterday. We in the Far North are all in favor of global warming, but this is ridiculous.

Nobody has the right clothes. The summer stuff all gets stashed in August around here, sometimes sooner. DIH herself was quite proud of landing some new corduroy pants and flannel shirts at a discount a few weeks ago. I mean, for once, I was ready.

I should have known I was making trouble. I should have realized that by uncharacteristically having my cold-weather wardrobe ready ahead of time I was virtually guaranteeing my fellow Minnesotans at least a warmish autumn and probably a mild winter as well . This happens all the time. One year I had the foreseight to buy summer sandals in April. Result: spent all of July and half of August in a hospital, where the sandals were not too useful. That was when I vowed never to be ready pre-season again. But I guess I just messed up this year.

The weather is also extremely muggy, and clearly getting on everyone's nerves. Yesterday was the school Fundraising Marathon. It's usually a pretty festive occasion. but everyone I talked to was in a foul mood. They ran out of coffee early, too, which made things even worse.

So I guess it was with a sense of irony that we were all belting out "Angels From the Realms of Glory" at the 11:00 mass. And that the same sense of irony that gave the soloist "Lullay, Lullay" for the meditation.

Merry Christmas, everybody. Cheer up, it's going to get cold soon.