Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve At Last

... and time, once again, to make some New Year's resolutions.

And why not? Sure, a zillion polls tell us no one takes NYRs seriously. That they're all broken by January 2, if not sooner.

But DIH believes in making them anyway. St. Paul urges us to "put on the new man" every time we open our eyes and spring or stumble out of bed to face another day. How often does the culture we live in offer St Paul a little support? Not too often, I'd say.

So take advantage of the opportunity and give the "new man" a try. Personally I've always wanted to wake up a completely different person, so I'm going to give it all I've got.

Um... okay, so , resolutions. I have one so far: check the calendar. I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Tuesday. Consequently missed my Wednesday afternoon hour in the adoration chapel. This happens more often than I'd like, and probably accounts for the angry glares I get whenever I set foot in the chapel. Sorry, guys. Will try to do better in 2010.

Another resolution: stop talking to self in shower. Realized yesterday my daughter is listening to every word. Could spell trouble.

Hmm.. I seem to be running out of steam on the "new man" front. Must give this some more thought.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stock Tips! Travelers' Tips! Underwear!

We are off to JFK airport for the flight home. I wonder if they'll insist on checking everyone's underwear. In light of the recent terrorist attack- botched, thank God- on that flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, DIH is prepared to make a few predictions for the New Year. Get 'em while they're hot, investors, the early bird gets the worm and all that:

1. Victoria's Secret will have a record-breaking year. They will introduce a new line of traveler's lingerie that will be guaranteed to dazzle the eyes of the entire Homeland Security department. One peek and the most case-hardened agent will beg for more. Tip: smile sweetly and say "Only if you promise to let me catch my flight, handsome."

2. Fruit of the Loom, on the other hand, will show disappointing sales, as travelers of the male persuasion give up on underwear altogether. Which they've always wanted an excuse to do, and now they have it.

3. Look for special deals in catalogs such as Brookstone and LL Bean Travel Edition.

4. Other specialty catalogs aimed at folks in the terrorist biz will emphasize flame-retardants. Unfortunately they will not also emphasize stupidity retardants. Sigh.

5. Makers of Mormon underwear are holding their breath.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This might be the only chance I get today to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Remind me to tell you about today's family feast, which will consist of some of the most fought-for, hard-won Italian sandwiches that ever existed.

Right now I must try to maintain the delicate balance of letting my daughter do the kid-Christmas thing and not waking up the whole house. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Whew!

Family gathering #1 yesterday. It was also a big-deal foray into Manhattan before Christmas. And I must say, we got our money's worht.

It's a special moment watching you child's face the first time she sees a man being led away in handcuffs by police. I remember my first time. What a moment that was!

And that warm feeling you get when you see a beautiful chocolate lab suddenly going nuts in Penn Station. I love the way drug-sniffing canines get so happy and excited when they get a whiff of illegal stuff in a passerby's bag. Really, you would have thought someone had just pulled out a favorite tennis ball and a Chukker.

And perhaps most special of all: when a former governor of New York walks into your restaurant. This is a real learning opportunity for your fourth-grader. "Look, sweetie-- that man was Governor! Say, 'Merry Christmas, Governor!' Good girl! Okay, now he's a few yards past us. Now we say, 'What an idiot!' A little more softly though. Well done, darling!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas, Part 1

Here on LI. We were lucky- we timed our trip right between two blizzards. It's interesting to hang out with people who think a "white Christmas" would be romantic. You wonder about people like that.

Today is the foray into the City. We are meeting up with the spouse's extended family for an annual lunch hosted by a generous uncle. I was going to dress up for this but then I remembered the joys of walking across town in December, so I will adjust accordingly.

OK, let's be honest here: Does anyone out there ever think "extended family gathering today" followed by "oh goody"?

If so please contact DIH and tell her your secret. Or, as usual, she will settle for a few of the pills you're popping.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Find Your Happy Place

For better or worse, Yahoo has published yet another "happiness" poll. This one ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia, from number one happiest to most miserable.

I don't know about anyone else but DIH was not in the least surprised by the results. Number One Louisiana, for example. Come on, they have New Orleans. And they don't call it "The Big Easy" for nothing. A few years ago Po Bronson wrote a book about how to find out what you should really be doing with your life. One of his conclusions: Avoid New Orleans. People there are just too happy, to the point where they lose all ambition and decide the only way to live is to just sit back and relax. Try forcing yourself through night school with that attitude.

Number Two: Hawaii. Is anyone surprised by this? Anyone? Anyone? Is that the sound of crickets chirping I hear? Thought so.

And we here in the Twin Cities are pleased as punch that Minnesota falls at #26. Dead center. Smack in the middle. Life here is kinda good and kinda not-so. But we're not complaining, nuh-uh. It's not so bad, and that's good enough for us. (but we can't suppress a little chuckle seeing Wisconsin is #29.)

And she is most definitely not surprised that NY-NJ-CT make up the bottom three happy places. No one in his right mind in NY would describe himself as "very happy." It would only make people talk. Also no New Yorker is ever going to yield one iota of his God-given right to kvetch whenever the mood strikes him. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Here's the list. Find your happy place.

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. Mississippi
7. Montana
8. South Carolina
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Alaska
12. North Carolina
13. Wyoming
14. Idaho
15. South Dakota
16. Texas
17. Arkansas
18. Vermont
19. Georgia
20. Oklahoma
21. Colorado
22. Delaware
23. Utah
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. New Hampshire
28. Virginia
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Massachusetts
44. Ohio
45. Illinois
46. California
47. Indiana
48. Michigan
49. New Jersey
50. Connecticut
51. New York

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bells, Bells, Bells!

Okay, Now I Need Some Eggnogg.

On second thought, forget the nog, just give me a large rum, quick.

Are Deer Stupid Or What?

The Key to a Successful Social Life

One of the main social features in DIH's life is the school carpool line. Every afternoon the moms line up their minivans in the parking lot, stick a number in their windshields and wait for their assigned kids to come tearing out and hop in the car. The system works, usually-- I've only gotten the wrong kid once.

In warmer weather the carpool lane is a hub of social activity. Moms turn off their engines and venture out, and catch up with all the news: whose kid has head lice,which teacher is handing out tough grades but good cookies, etc.

In winter it's different. Way too cold to hang around a parking lot. I mean, really, minus three? It's insane.

But yesterday one mother braved the cold. I watched in awe as she climbed out of her Expedition and went up and down the rows of cars, chatting with everyone.

By the time she got to me I could no longer contain my curiosity. How was she keeping up a schoolyard social life in this weather? "What's your secret?" I demanded.

She glanced around. Then she leaned towards me and said in a low voice, "Long underwear. Sam's Club, eleven bucks- changed my life."

Well since DIH is all in favor of changing her life, today I intend to hit Sam's Club. If you see a short red-haired woman out in the cold occasionally tugging at her waistline, that will be me, in my new armor.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Courtside

On Saturday the Holy Family Crusaders 4th-5th grade girls' basketball team played the team from Good Shepherd. I forget what they're called. It's not "sheep" or "flock," I'm pretty sure of that. All it said on their jerseys was "Good Shepherd." So much for the fear factor.

We played them at the gym of Holy Name of Jesus School. HNOJ has an enviable parish setup. A new building with a huge vestibule, perfect for after-mass socializing; a library, a "fireside room," (has a gas fireplace- nice!), a "youth room" with overstuffed sofas and big-screen tvs, even something called a "handbell room." Plus the school, of course.

The one thing they apparently felt the need to skimp on was the gym. It is tiny. Parents who want to watch their kids play basketball must squeeze themselves against the walls to keep from being called as extra men on the court. When a ball goes out of bounds it lands in the lap of a lucky spectator. If the spectator is unlucky, it lands in your face.

For DIH nothing quite brings back the old school memories like getting smacked in the kisser with a largish ball. As I recall it happened to me in every major sport. I've been nose-busted by volleyballs, basketballs, soccer balls, you name it. And I never even played any of those sports. The ball just seemed to find me. When I think about it it's no wonder I never played team sports. I was always on the injured list before the season started.

Anyway. HF played GS with glorious results. Out 4th graders kicked the c--p out of theirs. Not bad for a team from a school that doesn't even have a gym. Not to mention a "fireside room." Or a handbell room, or even a handbell.

What we do have is killer instinct. This is no easy achievement for a group of mostly polite little blonde girls from stiffish German Catholic homes. The woman coached the fourth graders last year spent the first six weeks teaching them not to say "oh excuse me" every time they bumped into another player. They still have a ways to go, of course; only one or two of them know how to steal a ball, and they probably feel guilty about it. But still. Progress is progress.

And we won, damn it. GOOOOOOOOOOO CRUSADERS!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What DIH Is All About

DIH is all about making people feel good. So as part of her mission, she offers today's weather forecast for her home town.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
Lat: 44.89 Lon: -93.22 Elev: 834
Last Update on Dec 10, 7:53 am CST

A Few Clouds

-4 °F
(-20 °C)
Humidity: 71 %
Wind Speed: SW 8 MPH
Barometer: 29.84" (1012.6 mb)
Dewpoint: -11 °F (-24 °C)
Wind Chill: -19 °F (-28 °C)

There. Now don't you feel better?
Unless you live here, too.

One More Time

I can't get enough of Straight No Chaser. Can't wait to get their album!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Day

There was no school today due to the global warming. Ha! Just kidding. It was a snow day. Sophia and I played with the Nintendo Wii, made a big pot of chili and a spice cake, and, the biggest news, we made our first loaf of bread together. It was stunning success.

Now we are going to reward ourselves with ravioli and P.G. Wodehouse. And hope the forecasters are just trying to scare us with the wind chill figures.

Copenhagen? We Have A Problem

Minus ten with the wind chill and snow drifts covering the car.

WHERE IS MY GLOBAL WARMING???

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Straight No Chaser Does It Again!

Let The Misery Commence

There is nothing quite like word of an impending blizzard to spur DIH into action.

For example. Yesterday she bought rock salt, de-icing fluid, and enough butter and sugar to make roughly 200 pounds of cookies.

This is the only way she knows how to deal with Minnesota winters. Bake a lot of goodies and run like a maniac on the treadmill. (That way it all evens out.) By the time spring arrives, she's too exhausted to care. And the prolonged sugar coma is an easy way to pass the time.

Winters are long in my part of the world. Every year I ask myself, Why did they decide to build a city all the way up here again? I suppose it has something to do with the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi being a few miles north of town. But really, is that a good enough reason to stay? We're not really worried that the Canadians will send a flotilla down to New Orleans, are we? Let somebody else keep an eye on the Canadians.

The first major snowfall of the season is expected to begin this afternoon. DIH will keep you posted.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Mystery Solved, I Think

Lately I've been having a string of nightmares. The nightmare, in fact. You know the one I'm talking about (and no, it's not the naked one). It's that dream where you're back in college, and you walk into a room to take an exam. All of a sudden you realize: You can't take this exam-- you skipped all the classes! And all the reading! You're screwed!

You feel the panic rising in your chest. Then you remember: hey, how do you think I got into college in the first place? That's right, I can b.s. like nobody's business. I can bluff my way through this exam. Problem solved!

Then they hand out the papers. And you realize b.s. won't work this time. Because it's a science test. And you can't b.s. science. You can't. You actually have to know stuff.

At this point DIH usually wakes up in a cold sweat.

This morning, however, the cold light of dawn (well actually it's still dark here in Minnesota until about 10 am, but the metaphor still holds I think) brought a whole new light to bear on this classic dream.

Maybe you can b.s. your way through a college science exam. Look at the Climategate crew. Everything you need to learn about faking it is right there.

Incomplete data. Faulty- no, let's call them daring- computer models. Stacked juries, rigged "peer reviews." And to give the whole thing real scientific authenticity, get a few gorgeous Hollywood stars to speak up for you. Actors know everything about b.s. That's how they make their living. There's gold in them thar hills!

So the next time you have that "oh no I never finished college because I failed my science requirement" dream, take a tip from Michael Mann and Phil Jones. Try this in your dream: Rig your data. Hire Gwyneth Paltrow to tell the world how important your fake data is. Then make a documentary film about it. (This is a lot easier than it sounds- anyone can make a documentary. Just ask Laurie David.) Cute polar-bear shots go a long way in the scientific community, trust me.

DIH promises you will wake up a new person.

A champion liar. Maybe an Oscar winner. Or even a Nobel Prize winner.

Hey, come on- it's happened before.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Sounds Minnesotan...

... and hey, he was born in Duluth. A little holiday cheer.

But I guess it's too late to tell Bob to lay off the weed.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Why Anyone Would Hug A Tree I Cannot Imagine

The tree is up. Against all odds, I might add.

Our enormous fake pre-lit Christmas tree is now standing in its appointed place in the corner of the living room. It took about five days to a)find it, b) drag it down from the attic (seriously, it's a big tree), c) put it together and d) get all the lights to work.

Naturally the last part was the tricky part. The one that had four adults and one child scratching their heads for hours while the pointier tree branches scratched our fingers to ribbons. The one that sent a grown man up to his study, clutching his chest and pressing his fingers to his carotid artery.

DIH has come to the conclusion that Christmas trees hate us. Come on, be honest- can anyone look back on his childhood and say "Ah, those beautiful evenings when we put up the Christmas tree, when peace reigned in our homes and Dad most certainly did NOT scare the c--- out of his kids by exhibiting behavior and language no child should ever see from an adult at close range!"? Anyone? Anyone?

No, I didn't think so. DIH can still feel an asthma attack coming on at the sight of a strand of Christmas lights. To this day she has to fight the impulse to flee when the tree makes its way down the attic stairs.

It's no good saying "well, Christmas lights are so much better today! I mean you don't have to replace a whole strand if one bulb goes out anymore!" Sure, it may be true. In theory. But there are still these mysterious brown-outs and blinks no one can account for. And to every red-blooded American male, every blink is like a slap across the face with a chamois glove. His pulse quickens; he sets his teeth; his hand goes to the hilt of his sword. Show me the man who does not look on the Christmas tree light as his natural enemy. I want his secret. Or at least one of the pills he's popping.

Anyway, now that we have all the lights working- and not even our electrician friend can explain why-- we figure we'll have to keep the tree up until they burn out. just to make it worth the struggle. I may not even put any decorations on it- I'm afraid to touch the wrong branch at the wrong time and knock the lights out of commission. Which would necessitate running away from home pronto.

Sigh. Some things never change.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

So That's What Happened!

Make Mine A Large-- And Keep It That Way

Via the New York Post:


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A 38-year-old former Miss Argentina has died from complications after undergoing cosmetic surgery on her buttocks.

Solange Magnano, a mother of twins who won the crown in 1994, died of a pulmonary embolism Sunday after three days in critical condition following a gluteoplasty in Buenos Aires.

Close friend Roberto Piazza said the procedure involved injections and the liquid "went to her lungs and brain."

"A woman who had everything lost her life to have a slightly firmer behind," he said.

"Panda Bars"

I got a robo-call from my daughter's school on Friday. I have come to dread these robo-calls; they're always bad news. Like , "Surprise, your kid has the day off because the pipes burst." And I do not mean, the bad news is the problem with the pipes.

Lately, though, they've been about heartbreak. This call was to give me the details on the wake the church was hosting for a young man who died. A kid, really, barely in his forties; seven lovely children and a beautiful wife. One of those things that make you wonder. Is there a God? DIH's would have to be, Yes. So, proceed to the next question: Is He doing drugs? And finally, WTF?

Anyway, the call informed me of the time and place of the wake. Then it added "All families are asked to bring three panda bars. Please drop them off at the church."

"Panda bars"?

I played the message a second time. No; no, not panda bars. "Panzer bars"? It sounded more like "panzer bars."

Since even a social incompetent like yours truly would hate to screw up at a wake, I had to find out what a panzer bar was, quick.

The only clue I had was "bars." What kind of bars did one serve at a wake?

In DIH's family of course the answer is simple- we are an Irish family, after all- but this is sober Minnesota.

Bar cookies?

This answer brought its own confusion. Why would anyone care if the food served at a wake was a bar cookie or not? What's wrong with -- I dont' know, name it. Drop cookies, rolled cookies, cutout cookies, little teeny pastries with drops of jam in the middle? And what about Oreos? What's wrong with Oreos?

Well. As this was the Thanksgiving I had vowed not to lift a finger in the kitchen, I would have to find bar cookies at the store. So I drove to Sam's Club.

The only thing that could possible qualify as a "pan of bars" (as I had by now translated the robo-call's message) were brownies. Which I almost bought. But then I thought, Shoot, everybody's going to bring brownies. There aren't any other bars here. What do I do now?

Answer: I bought three trays of regular cookies, then dropped them off at the church under cover of darkness. If anyone was going to take the heat for bringing non-regulation "pans" to the wake it wasn't going to be me.

At the wake I did a little sniffing around. "Panda bars?" I murmured as I passed through the crowd. "Anyone? Anyone? Panda bars?"

A fellow exiled East-coaster-- well, okay, Ohio, but at least it's east of here- stopped me. "I got that call too. It means 'cookies.' Sometimes 'batch of cookies.' It's another one of those Minnesota things. Like 'hot dish.'

"So why couldn't they just say 'cookies'?" I said. Not adding, of course, "YOU KNOW LIKE ANY OTHER FREAKIN' NORMAL PERSON??!!"

She shrugged. "You know how it is."

Yeah, I know. You betcha.

Sigh.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Kickoff

Snazzy new graphic (right) courtesy of The Curt Jester. Nice, huh?

If you don't know what an Advent wreath is or what it symbolizes there are lots of respectable Catholic blogs out there that can tell you. Somehow it just doesn't feel like DIH's place.

Look, If You Didn't Want Me To Come For the Holiday, You Could Have Just Said So

From today's NY Post:


A retiree visiting his son on Long Island for Thanksgiving got a smelly -- and nearly deadly -- surprise yesterday when a section of lawn gave way, dropping him neck-deep into a cesspool.

Eduardo Matos, 71, from Puerto Rico, fell into the sewage at around 11:30 a.m. outside his son's Deer Park home.

"I was calm . . . If you panic, that s- - - will suck you right in," he said.

Matos managed to keep his head above the muck until he was pulled out by his son and daughter.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Public Service Announcement. No, Really.

Some months ago I decided to become hipper. So I set up a Facebook page.

The page immediately picked up a virus. It has been posting all sorts of weird stuff.

I have contacted Facebook; they assure me the account is cancelled; Nevertheless I am still getting angry emails from Facebookers telling me to stop cluttering up their mailbox with "The Truth About Acai" and such.

Short of raiding the Facebook offices I dont' know what else to do about this.

If anyone has any bright ideas, I'm all ears.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hide The Decline!

The Only Holiday Cooking Post You'll Ever Need

This time of year we are inundated with holiday cooking posts. Bloggers far more experienced and clever than DIH are happy to tell us all their culinary secrets: what makes Grandma's turkey so special (see previous post for the low-down on that), whose traditional family recipe for cranberry sauce is best, why the look of joy on the little children's faces brings tears to Mother's eyes when she serves up that hideous concoction of yams and marshmallows (let me just say here and now: YECH!).

DIH, on the other hand, has found the answer to true holiday dinner bliss for everyone. Ans being the generous sort she is she's going to share her cooking secret with you:

Don't.

Don't cook. Don't thaw, brine and roast the turkey, don't peel and parboil the potatoes, don't roll out so much as an inch of pie crust. And for God's sake don't do that yams-and-marshmallows thing.

For the past two years DIH has called the local snooty grocery store a week before thanksgiving. She then gives them a credit card number. Then the day before Thanksgiving she drives over to said snooty store and picks up a cardboard carton, plus an large unwieldy shopping bag. The unwieldy bag contains her turkey, cold but fully cooked. The carton contains everything else: masked potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole- which she never tried before but actually kind of likes-- and some cranberry sauce. Plus a handful of dinner rolls.

I can hear some of you now. "Sybarite!" "Spendthrift!"

As to point #2, the whole shebang costs 99 bucks. That is considerably less than she would spend if she went to Costco with the intention of putting the Thanksgiving feast together.

As to point #1, you betcha. When other moms are running themselves ragged in the kitchen DIH is happily sitting with her feel up, sipping a Bloody Mary and watching the Macy's parade. Beat that, do-it-yourselfers.

You do have to do some work, of course. Preheat the oven, stick the various pans into it at the right time so everything is done at once.

But the food was great, with the added benefit of DIH not having on her conscience the knowledge of how much butter went into every dish. (Except the potatoes. They stick about a pound of unmelted butter on the top of the potatoes. You're supposed to stir it in when the potatoes are ready. Hey, who am I to argue with a professional chef?)

So that's my recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving. I cant' wait to see what I can get for 99 bucks at Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Another Item For Your Gift List

From today's LA Times:

Twitter-equipped bathroom scale tells the world how much you weigh
November 10, 2009 |

The most embarrassing new tech product of the year just got more embarrassing.

[You've heard] about the Wi-Fi Body Scale, the first bathroom scale equipped with a wireless connection to send your weight and body fat information directly to your Web page and iPhone.

But weight, there's more.

Today the French company behind the scale, Withings, announced it has added Twitter capability to the scale, enabling the user to automatically tweet the weight/fat info to followers.

In a news release, Withings declared the Twitter function would be a great help to users, "further motivating them by sharing their progress with followers."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Search Is Over!

Looking for the perfect gift this holiday season? Look no further. Here it is.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"Dear Angela- Um, about next week...."

"President Barack Obama has RSVPed “nein” to Chancellor Merkel’s invitation to Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. " -NRO

FROM: Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D. C.

Dear Prime Minister Merkel,

Thanks for the invitation to observe the anniversary next week. Gosh, it was just so sweet of you to think of me! But I just can't make it this time. It's tough, you know, what with the health care thing going on here, plus the fact that I don't speak Berlinian- what if I got lost on my way from the airport? Who would I ask for directions?

Besides, you just know Michelle would absolutely insist on bringing a gift. And no offense, Angie, but you're a little hard to shop for these days. Sure, back when the Wall was still up I could have just grabbed some cigarettes or toilet paper and you would have been thrilled, am I right? But now, well, I'd probably have to compete with whatever the Brits are bringing. And trust me,they give some snooty gifts. On the bright side, you can sell them on eBay. Maybe even swap 'em for some decent earrings. (Oops- I shouldn't have let that slip. Be a pal and don't tell Michelle!)

Besides, the girls are in school that day. And you know I could never leave them out of such a historic occasion. It's either piss you off or piss off the powers that be at Sidwell Friends, and frankly that school is costing me WAAAY too much to risk not having the entire faculty on my side, just in case of, you know, a problem or something. You have no idea about Quakers, they can really go for the jugular if the mood strikes them.

So, anyway. Have fun observing the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. I'm sure it'll be, um, historic. Will the ceremony be conducted in East Berlinian or West Berlinian? Just curious- I like to toss off little factiods at the dinner table.

Your friend,

Barack Obama

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Once Again the Japanese Offer An Improvement

Thursday was Global Handwashing Day. Am I the only one who missed it?

Oh well. Thank God for the Japanese. Here's a helpful video.

Friday, November 06, 2009

California: One Sinking Ship The Rats Will Not Leave

From today's LA Times:


L.A., Beverly Hills move to ban declawing of cats
November 6, 2009 | 1:31 pm

"The Los Angeles City Council, in a preliminary action, voted unanimously today to ban the controversial practice of declawing cats, which council members described as unnecessary and abject animal cruelty.

The vote was also a repudiation of the state Legislature, which earlier this year voted to bar local governments from banning the procedure beginning Jan. 1.

"I don't think we should allow people at the state level to dictate to us our local actions," said Councilman Paul Koretz, who sponsored the ordinance.
Said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who owns three cats: "The bottom line is, you take the claws out of a cat, you take away the cat."

The council is scheduled to take a final vote on the ordinance Nov. 17.
The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved a similar ordinance Thursday night. A final vote in that city also is expected Nov. 17."

Election Commentary

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sick Days

"Mom? Moooommmmyy?"

"Mph?"

"My tummy hurts."

If your "parenting style" is anything like mine, this is a line that makes you want to tear your hair out.
It tells you nothing useful, like a fever does. "Fever! Bingo! You're sick, get the Motrin, you'll be fine in no time!"

It sounds so miserable, and you know there's next to nothing you can do about it. Sure, you can ply the kid with ginger ale and chicken broth, but you wonder how long before the child figures out you're just playing guessing games here.

It even rouses your suspicions. A 'tummy ache?' Is this about your child's actual physical health, or are we talking 'I don't want to go to school'? And how big a heel does it make you out to be if you decide the kid is faking and you turn out to be wrong?

A few weeks ago we saw the doctor about a tummy ache. After hinting that it was probably all my fault ("this could be a behavioral issue, the child responding to parental anxiety"), the doc concluded, "Kids get tummy aches. Like adults get headaches. It's just one of those things." Which was very helpful.

DIH does not like "tummy aches." She probably enjoys them even less than the little girl who is currently languishing on the sofa behind me. We are going to see the pediatrician this afternoon, and hope this time we get some answers.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dog Haiku Tuesday

Oh to be a lab
And go on shedding one's hair
Yet never go bald

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hate Crime!

Yesterday President Obama signed the newest anti-hate crime bill into law.

The Washington Post explains, "The legislation extends provisions first passed in 1968 that make it a federal crime to target individuals because of their race, religion or national origin."

Hm. "National origin."

In light of the new law DIH feels it her patriotic duty to report the Minneapolis Star Tribune as a suspected hate criminal. The evidence is plain as day, in today's paper.

To wit:

"A star-studded version of the holiday classic was announced, then canceled, at Minneapolis' Orpheum Theatre. The production, with F. Murray Abraham billed to star as Scrooge and James Garner narrating as Charles Dickens, was to have run in mid-December... But the Minneapolis engagement was scotched when producer Kevin Von Feldt could not come up with the second deposit to secure the venue."

I know sensitive readers are as appalled as I was. But as the fellow said, the only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good bloggers to do nothing.

So I'll say it. I'll say what everyone else is afraid to say:

"Scotched"?

Yes, you read that right. It's right there in the entertainment section. "Scotched." Used here to mean dumped, torpedoed, screwed up beyond redemption, all f'ed up.

Honestly, DIH is still trying to recover from her shock. But in the meantime I put out some feelers to local leaders of the Scottish-American community to get their reactions.

Drew Laird of the Braveheart Single Malt and Rugby Club in St. Louis Park was the first to respond. "Cursed be the Strib's grandchildren," he spat. "The Scots gave this country the finest whisky known to man. And Andrew Carnegie, to boot. Every schoolchild knows that one. 'How do you get to Carnegie Hall?' 'Practice!'It's part of the fabric of American humor."

Mungo Dirk of the West Southdale Country Club agreed. "Scottish Americans have more than done their part to build the Twin Cities. We don't deserve this kind of disrespect from the Strib."

DIH pointed out that Minnesota is generally considered more culturally Nordic than Celtic. "That's just the problem," Mungo said. "Minnesotans love to golf. I see more pathetic Norwegian golfers in my job than you can shake a gnarled stick at, but do I kick 'em off my course? Certainly not. I'd never say no to that kind of money."

DIH then directed Mungo to the nearest dictionary. "Look- here it is, 'scotch; to hinder or prevent. Synonyms are thwart, frustrate, spoil, baffle, and--- and--"

I could not suppress a gasp.

Oh.
My.
GOD.

"I believe the word you're looking for is 'queer,'" said TrueMan Kapote of the Twin Cities Lesbian and Gay Lingua Alliance. "Yes, we hear it all the time. So and so 'queered' a deal, and so on." He sighed. "And you know, I think that could be the saddest part of all this. Everyone knows 'scotch' is a code word for 'queer.' So much for linguistic respect from our journalists."

"Wait." DIH reached for her trusty OED. "Look- here's an etymology. It says the word 'scotch' comes from the Middle English 'scocchen'- to cut.'"

TrueMan rolled his eyes. "Honey," he sighed, "if you believe anyone at the Strib owns an Oxford English Dictionary, you'll believe anything."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Little Help Here?

OK, somebody explain this to me.

President Obama is about to set new emissions standards for American cars. SUVs and big vehicles will become obsolete, and everyone will have to drive around in those stupid little "smart" cars.

Enviromental types cheer. We're saved!

On the other hand:

The Minnesota state legislature just voted to make booster seats mandatory for all children up to age 8.

I believe the number of booster seats you can fit into a "smart" car is zero. DIH drives a Subaru Outback and she can do three, tops.

This means:

In Minnesota at least, entire fleets of "smart" cars will be required to transport one soccer team to practice.

Which means at best a break-even scenario on that plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Plus ticking off anyone over 5'2" who has to cram himself into a "smart" car. And believe me, this is a tall state (not enough Italians in the gene pool, I guess).

Result: more pollution, more ticked-off drivers, more cranky kids who resent being treated like their baby brothers as they are strapped into booster seats. More tempers flaring on the soccer field. More irate parents getting in the coach's face, more kids "accidentally" cleating each other...

Oh, dear. The Beautiful Game is about to get very ugly.

Thank you, DFLers!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Best Wishes, Graduates!

Joe Biden gave the commencement address at Wake Forest University yesterday. I'm telling you, the man knows how to win friends [h/t THe Corner]:

"I believe so strongly, as you may recall when I was here in October, not in you particularly but your generation, that I don’t have a single doubt in my mind we’re on the cusp not only of a new century but a new day for this country and the world."

The Vice President continued:

"Not in you particularly, because hey, let's face it, I'm at- where am I? Wake Forest? Where the hell is Wake Forest? Seriously, you're like, the rejects from Chapel Hill, right? Or maybe Duke. Duke, there's a good school. Too bad you guys didn't get in there. Oh well. Like I said, there are other people in your generation besides you people, which is a damn good thing in my opinion, since if there were only you lot we'd be completely screwed. Hey, Happy Graduation, losers!"

And remember, we just could not have Sarah Palin for VP. Not smart enough.

Hard Times at the MOA

Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Mall of America, the largest shopping mall on Planet Earth and a Minnesota landmark. This is a big deal, as DIH a) is too cheap to pay full retail for anything and b) cannot stand the Mall of America.

This last probably warrants some explanation.

If there is anyone outside the Twin Cities reading this, I bet there are some things you didn't know about the MOA. For instance. Did you know the Mall of America is home to the largest underground aquarium in the world?

And did you know that having an aquarium in your basement makes your whole mall smell like a swimming pool?

If you're ever in the MOA and you order a diet Coke from some little stand, you will note it carries a faint taste of chlorine. (Note to self: next time say "no ice.")

Usually there are large groups of Japanese tourists milling about. shopping for all they're worth. Yesterday I saw exactly one Japanese person. She was wearing a surgical mask. I thought it was to deal with the chlorine smell. Then I remembered: swine flu.

Sophia and I were looking for shoes. Geoxx shoes, for her. They're expensive shoes, but we figured it being so near the end of the season maybe we'd catch a clearance sale.
There was no clearance sale at the Geoxx store. But as soon as she saw we were about to leave, the young woman behind the counter offered us 25% off on anything in the store.

For a while there yesterday I felt good about the recession.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Little Sympathy, Please

..for President Barack Obama. He had to sit on that dais last night pretending he thought Wanda Sykes was funny. How many people do you know who could do that?

Or maybe he wasn't pretending. Maybe he really does think Ms. Sykes, whose outstanding performance as the voice of the cross-specie-ing skunk in "Open Season" will go down in the history of great skunk performances, actually is worth a laugh or two. Hey, he married a woman who thinks it's smart to spend $540 on a pair of sneakers. It's possible.

Anyway. It's been said but DIH will say it again: Wanda Sykes, outspoken lesbian, did a great job of sucking up to the man who said he's against same sex marriage. Hip hip hooray. Maybe she'll put in a good word for Carrie Prejean, who only echoed the President's feelings.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Good Advice

DIH has been browsing again. And she came across "100 Little Tips to Help You Live to 100."

This list sure is helpful. Drink more water, take a vitamin pill, don't forget your fiber- can't argue with that, can you?--eat your fruits and vegetables. Just like Mom always told you.

The farther you go down the list, though, the more problematic "living to 100" gets. Take tip #27: "Sweep and vacuum the entire house every other day." If you have to do both, you either need a new vacuum or a new set of kids. Take your pick.

#30: "Turn on some music and dance. No one is watching." Oh yes, they are. Remember that.

#44: "Avoid lingering in large groups of people in cold and flu season." Best achieved by hiding under your bed from September to June.

The real recipe for disaster, of course, is found under the "mental health " tips. Someone tell me how you can do all these at once:

#62: "Spend more time with your family."
and
#76: "Surround yourself with only good people who have your best interests at heart."
Clearly these people have never met my family.

Or
#85: "Adopt a mantra that will brighten your mood"
and
#86 "Stop worrying about what other people think of you."
Especially if you go around chanting a mantra to yourself at the supermarket.

I like #93: "Don't live in an area known for extreme weather or earthquakes." I'm trying to think of such a place. Hawaii comes to mind, but they have tidal waves and volcanoes. Italy, earthquakes. Ireland, rains all the time. And most places have winter.

Looks like I'm screwed.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This Morning's Belly Laugh

MSNBC Not Only Gushingly Covers Obama's *Lunch Order* (He's So Human! He Eats Hamburgers!), but They Cover Up His Order of Dijon Mustard- Ace

(See www.ace.mu.nu for more)

I love Ace of Spades.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dom Deluise RIP

I've been trolling YouTube but I can't find my favorite Dom Deluise memories. The time he told the story about how when he was a child he accidentally wiped the painted face off the Baby Jesus in his mother's Nativity set. How he convinced Kermit the Frog to go to Hollywood.

I've been making Dom's "Mamma's Meat Sauce" for years, from his cookbook "Eat This, It'll Make You Feel Better." Also "Mamma's Marinara Sauce." They're both fantastic.

I never had the nerve, though, to attempt "Mamma's Sunday Sauce." The one that takes 10 Italian sausages, 6 pork spareribs, 20 meatballs and a braciole. Plus another pound of pork.

But now, I feel I should give it a try. In Dom's memory.

He made me laugh, man.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Buzzing Lower Manhattan

..as Air Force One did the other day.

As the powers that be go on dickering about what would constitute a proper memorial for the World Trade Center, destroyed by Islamic terrorists eight years ago, let us reflect on one simple fact: There is nothing New York cannot handle with the help of its citizens and a few strategically place anti-aircraft guns.

On the top deck of the new Trade Center, for example. Also on the Chrysler Building. And let's not forget the Empire State Building. Somebody's got to protect midtown.

Do we really wonder if AF-1 would have gone for that unannounced photo-op if Manhatten were properly outfitted?

Times like this, it pays to remember some of the great moments from "Casablanca."


MAJOR STRASSER: Are you one of the people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?

RICK: It's not particularly my beloved Paris.

HERR HEINZE: What about London?

RICK: When you get there, ask me.

STRASSER: What about New York?

RICK: There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade.


Somebody read that to whoever authorized that idiotic photo op.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

UND Update

h/t American Papist:

Statement by Father John Jenkins on the Laetare Medal

The following statement from Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, is in response to the decision by Mary Ann Glendon to decline acceptance of the University’s Laetare Medal:

“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.” (University of Notre Dame Office of News & Information)

The following statement was issued immediately thereafter by Desperate Irish Housewife:

"OK, OK. I'll take the medal. It must be worth something melted down. And since it looks like Father Jenkins has already done that..."

More on the New Evangelization

So we're enjoying our Minnesota-Italia dinner-- sauteed marinated chicken breast, ratatouille over pasta with parmesan, simple green salad, a cheap but nice bottle of vino-- when there's a knock at the door.

It's two Mormon missionary boys, or I suppose I should say elders, wanting to talk.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," says DIH, "we're in the middle of dinner."

(Thinking, Damn, where are the Bible Babes when you need them? Because this could be fun. Besides, DIH was well into her second glass of the aforementioned vino. Who knows what gems of theological wit she might have come up with?

(But no. Dinner is dinner. End of story.)

The Mo boys leave.

DIH returns to table. And has an afterthought. And acts on it.

I ran out into the rain (it's raining here in Mini-Apple) and left a note inside one of the boys' bicycle helmets. "Guys- thanks for your work on Prop. 8! Fight on!"

Which I am hoping made their evening of attempted evangelization in the rain a little more pleasant.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Send the Freshmen Out For Gin!

No- make that champagne!

Yesterday American Papist (http://www.americanpapist.com) reported that Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard law professor and former US ambassador, has informed the University of Notre Dame that she cannot, after all, accept the school's Laetare Medal at the commencement in May.

Why? Because... but let her tell it:

"...as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award [President Barack Obama] an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it."

This is good news. Since UND has decided to have Barack "Kill The Babies" Obama as its commencement speaker, it's nice to know there are people out there with the character and integrity to let out a big "I'd rather share the stage with a rabid squirrel."

Father John Jenkins, president of the university, issued a response to Ms. Glendon's refusal:

“We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision. It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible.”

But all this brings up the question: who will the "deserving recipient" be?

DIH has looked up "Laetare Medal" on the web, and according to her research the award does not include cash. Therefore she is not personally interested.

There's another downside to being named the new recipient: you gotta come up with an acceptance speech fast. Glendon started working on hers last year. The new honoree has barely three weeks to write something classy, memorable, with a whole lot of "let's-forget-the-Glendon-thing-ever-happened."

Sheesh. Who they gonna call?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Couldn't Let This One Go

"On inauguration night, Barack and Michelle will make their first stop – and dance their first dance – at a ball that will be Webcast to living rooms and community centers around the country as part of the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s plan to make this the most accessible swearing-in in history." [Politico]

Wow. And I thought inaugural balls were boring enough live.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Well, a whole new calendar is on the wall and it's time for some resolutions.

DIH resolves to either get a new computer or take this one in for a major overhaul.

She further resolves to complete a writing project in the next six weeks.

To which end, unless something irresistible comes up, she is going on hiatus for a while. She figures staying off the internet will give her an extra sixteen hours a day to write.

Wish me luck, readers. See you in a few weeks- I hope.

Fondly, Desperate