Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Random 10

You know the drill. Take out your iPod and set it to shuffle mode. Tell us the first ten songs that appear. And no fair leaving out ones that make you look like a dork or adding in ones that you think make you look cool.

Here are mine for the week:

  • Vatican Rag; Tom Lehrer (Do we need more evidence that mathematicians are quirky? I thought not.)
  • I Get Around; The Beach Boys (Ok... it's stupid, but I use it for working out.)
  • Testify to Love; Avalon (A friend calls this "Jesus is my boyfriend" music. Yeah, I suppose.)
  • Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season; Jimmy Buffett (And here we go with another season...)
  • Lies to Me; Chris Isaak
  • Beyond my Wildest Dreams: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris
  • Keep on Rocking in the Free World; Neil Young (If only we had one of those...)
  • There She Goes; The Corrs
  • Let's Ride Again; Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (another stupid one, but it's in my cycling playlist for the gym. I'm thinking that, as they say in The Princess Bride, "I do not think that means what you think it means.")
  • Really Scary Spice Girls; The Capitol Steps

Thursday, August 24, 2006

If you want to be happy for the rest of your life....

If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty women your wife
Go for my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you

That's the Jimmy Soul song from the early 60's. I guess the idea was that the ugly woman would be so grateful to a man for rescuing her from spinster-hood that she would compensate for her ugliness in other ways. The aught-six version is somewhat different. According to Forbes, guys shouldn't marry career women; we are just nothing but trouble.

Michael Noer writes:
Guys: A word of advice. Marry pretty women or ugly ones. Short ones or tall ones. Blondes or brunettes. Just, whatever you do, don't marry a woman with a career. Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage....Recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it.

And, oh yeah, "your house will be dirtier".

Let me get this straight. This is news? It's hard to balance full-time employment, disproportionate child-raising duties, disproportionate house-keeping duties, and for good measure, the fact that we do all of that for less pay than our similarly-employed husbands bring home. Yeah, we knew that. But the solution offered here is really novel. Rather than saying, "guys, get off the bleedin' couch and dust something," he says, "don't bother marrying these girls." (That's not a quote from him; that's me being sarcastic.)

So, his interpretation of the data is that guys can't/won't/shouldn't have to step up to the plate. Wow. That's sexist. We'll see how many guys point that out. Girls, don't marry a lazy-butt man, who's threatened when you point out inequities in real-life social structures (for example, the marriage one happens to be in).

Noer doesn't specifically address the question of whom should guys marry. One assumes it's women who will stay home, clean, raise the children, never stray, and above all, never comment on inequity within marriage. Now, I have been a stay-at-home mom. We are not all -or even mostly- docile, boring, uneducated, and trivial women, thank you very much. Nonetheless, what a sad and truncated vision of masculinity Noer offers when he suggests that guys can't handle a woman who has a career.

Added later.... Forbes has pulled the article from its website. Now, this is interesting. It seems to me that the article and author deserve ridicule and counterpoint -but also support from the Forbes editors. Why publish it, if you aren't going to stand by it? Boing Boing has screen shots of the original article, if you want to see it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Oh, for the love of God....

I mean that title literally. What, in the name of all that is holy, are we doing????

Fr. Fred Daley, a parish priest and long-time Call to Action member, was informed by Catholic Relief Services that he will not be allowed to minister with them because of his public identity as a gay priest. This notice came just weeks before he was to leave for Lesotho to assist with HIV/AIDS ministry. Fr. Fred states that Archbishop Mohlalisi of Maseru, Lesotho told Catholic Relief Services that Daley's sexual orientation was not a problem for the diocese.

The decision by Catholic Relief Services not only discriminates against the gay community, but also against the people of Lesotho who are now deprived of the ministry Fr. Daley would have offered. Interestingly, when I was shopping around for an international service placement for this year, no one at CRS asked me my sexual orientation. Fr. Daley isn't being punished simply because of his sexual orientation; I'm sure there are plenty of gay priests working for Catholic Relief Services. He's being punished because he won't hide it. I wonder what would have happened if I, a straight and very married and sexually non-threatening to say the least, woman had refused to disclose my sexual orientation. It's the opposite but oddly parallel, situation. We'll never know, I suppose.

Call To Action, in partnership with Fr. Fred, asks you to write to Catholic Relief Services and request that they issue a statement that they will not discriminate against volunteers or applicants who have publicly acknowledged their sexual orientation.

Bishop Robert Lynch, Chairman of Catholic Relief Services Board
c/o Diocese of St. Petersburg
PO Box 40200
St. Petersburg, FL 33743

Mr. Kenneth Hackett, CEO
Catholic Relief Services
240 W. Fayette St.
Baltimore, MD 21201-3443

I poked around briefly and couldn't find e-mail addresses for either one. If someone else finds something, please let us know. I'm also tempted to take this one small step forward, using an old trick from Mary's Pence. We used to have fake dollar bills -bright red- that said essentially that the homily of the day trivialized women and this person was withholding contributions because of it. You tossed it in the collection basket, hoping that the parish volunteers who count the money were interested and confused enough to report the occurrence to the homily-giver. When the annual collection for CRS comes around -and I don't know the date- I could be willing to toss an explanatory note as to why I'm withholding a donation this year into the basket.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

That's him in the pictures off to the right -the tall one in the cap and gown, not the baby in the blanket! My baby is 22 today. Twenty-two years ago at this moment, I was holding my one-hour-old baby. Do not even ask me where the time went.

No thanks to his parenting and with great credit to him, he's a fabulous man. Happy birthday, sweetie!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Growing It Alone

I've alluded to this coming year being one of big change on the home front, but here's the deal. The long-suffering spouse has a sabbatical this year. (We still tell time in school-years around here. The new year starts in a week or two.) He really needs to do this. He really needs me not to get in his way. So, he's going to the University of Minnesota for the fall semester and Swarthmore for the spring semester, and I am not. This is going to be very strange.

Slowly, slowly it dawned on me that I could do something interesting myself this year. I don't have to just hang out in the corn fields and live my quiet little life. Nope, I can at least live my quiet little life somewhere interesting. So, the plan started to develop.

And it's turned into this. I'm going to be hanging out in California for a few weeks in the fall semester, organizing the social justice projects at a friend's parish. They have a homeless shelter, a domestic violence shelter, a soup kitchen, a food pantry, and more. It's an amazing effort for a single parish. But, it's an economically depressed area and the services are needed; they couldn't just sit around and do nothing.

Unfortunately, all the good will in the world doesn't make for good programming. As math-boy would say, it's necessary but insufficient. So, I'm going to spend some time there training community leaders, re-thinking, and seeing if I can bring some order to chaos. I'll be home in time for Thanksgiving, to organize the holidays for the family. I'm not much for tradition-for-tradition's sake, but come the holidays, I'm helpless. I want it all. Just so. The enormous tree that doesn't actually fit in the space we have, the parties, the stockings, the wassail... all of it. And the knitting, dear God, the knitting. If I start now and knit in my sleep, I might finish it all. Maybe.

Then, in the spring semester, there's talk that I might be going to India. It's not definite yet, but there's a project to get children out of child labor and into school, and the school needs a consulting social worker. That could be me. We'll see. So, I might be blogging from afar this year. Dave's version of this starts in a few weeks; mine won't start until October. It'll either be great or a debacle; I don't see much chance of an in-between outcome. Cross your fingers.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

What Planet Do I Live On????

The political situation is already so nutty that my mind reels, and it's hardly just begun.

Last Friday, Sen. George Allen (R-VA) called a young man in the audience on his "listening tour" a "macaca" -a racial slur meaning monkey, in case that wasn't obvious. He followed up with "welcome to America". Edifying. Irony being the force it is, the 20-year-old audience member was, of course, born and raised in Virginia. He's of Indian descent, so his skin color is different from Mr. Allen's -thus "justifying" the assumption that the young man must be an immigrant. As though, even had he been right and the man was a recent immigrant, that was reason to call someone a monkey.

A few days later the Allen campaign did offer a back-handed apology. Nonetheless, in a reasonable world, Senator Allen would be an embarrassment to the Republican Party and the country. This is the man who displayed a noose in his law offices, displays the Confederate flag at his home, and opposed the creation of a holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Yeah, he's a prize. But he's running with the support of the Republican Party, and he's ahead in the polls.

I freely and a little proudly admit that my pull with the Republican Party is non-existent. However, there is a concerted effort to keep this faux pas front and center. Among other things it has given a struggling (and admittedly a little unimpressive) Democrat a chance in an important Senate race. Mr. Allen is free to be a bigot and free to talk about it, but it seems sad to me that bigotry is selling as a platform of a candidate for the United States Senate. That we can work to change. Color of Change is sponsoring a petition drive asking the Republican Party to withdraw support from Sen. Allen. In a reasonable world, they wouldn't want to be associated with this sort of behavior. We'll see. Follow the link above if you want to sign the petition.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Random 10

You know the drill. Take out your iPod and set it to shuffle. Tell us the first ten songs that appear -and no fair leaving out ones that make you look like a dork or adding in ones you think make you look cool. Here's my list for the week:

  • It Is Well; 4 Him
  • Grand Canyon Suite; Aaron Copeland
  • Ideas are Like Stars; Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • Woman of my Time; Rachel Nelson
  • Stand by Me; Rockapella
  • Ireland's Call; Phil Coulter
  • Hey Pretty Girl; The BoDeans
  • She Will Have her Way; Neil Finn
  • Love Come Down; Heather Sullivan
  • I'm Going Slightly Mad; Queen

It's a weird list this week. Obviously I recognize all these songs, but they don't present the clearest picture of the music I listen to. No matter, I suppose.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Car-Free Thursday

No matter how you measure it, August is not turning out to be a good car month. So far this month, the car has cost $2550 -and that doesn't include gas. Of course, sometimes that's going to happen; maintenance now could offset huge costs later. But still. Just yuck. It will take a boat-load of bicycling to offset those costs. Truth be told, though, insurance covered some of those costs, so we only paid $800-ish. But still.

And today is supposed to be my car-free day. Not being entirely dim, I chose a day that I don't need the car much anyway. Except today it's going to be interesting. Our next-door neighbor has been slowly, inexorably passing away over the last few weeks, and he's back in the hospital. I saw him yesterday and it's clear that he's just plain done. Whatever effort he was exerting to stay here is no longer available. All we can hope for now, and it's no small thing, is the grace of a happy death. I can get to the hospital on my bike easily enough. What I can't do is transport his also-elderly wife on the bicycle. Should she need a ride, that takes priority.

Moreover, I have a slightly embarrassing injury of the backside, which makes riding uncomfortable. So I'm stuck with short rides until it gets better. Getting to the hospital is no problem. Getting to the hospital fast could be something of an issue.

So, in short, when I started this silly little plan of mine, I knew there would be days when it was inconvenient. I told myself I would work through those days on the bike -and I will. Unless.... you know, I don't. People do come first, and I can have a car-free day tomorrow, if it comes to that.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Sentence Commuted

Ashraf Kolhari has been spared. I don't know that we made a difference, but I do know what would have happened had no one done anything. And I know what we would have become had we stood back and essentially watched while she was buried and stoned to death.

After receiving a petition with signatures from over 100 Iranian women's rights activists and 4,000 concerned individuals, Iran Ayatollah Shahroudi has stopped the execution of Ashraf Kolhari, a mother of four who was sentenced to death by stoning for having sex outside of marriage. One must notice that, really, these numbers are quite small. The encouraging reframe to this situation is that it apparently doesn't take all that much public outcry to make a difference -which turns out to be a good thing, in this case.

Kolhari’s fate is not completely clear yet, however, and the practice of stoning in Iran is still legal. There's clearly still work to be done; dreadful things could still happen to her and to other women. Vigilance, action, a little well-placed outrage... it's all important.

Right This Very Minute....

So, right this very minute, what can I do to make the world a better place? Well, I could make a decision to be gentle and loving with all the people I encounter, but I'm thinking more along the lines of something that's within the realm of the possible. And I'd like to tell you that today will be a bonus car-free day (Thursdays are my typical no-car day.), but that's not going to happen either.

But here's what I can do. There's been a pile of books on the table by the back door embarrassing amount of time. They're duplicates, for heaven's sake! I'm going to take them to Duck Soup Coop, which is a Bookcrossing site. This silly little almost-zero-effort task will simplify my life of clutter, clear space on the bookshelves, and share these books with other people. I get a little kick out of Bookcrossing's "all the world's a library" attitude. And while I'm there, I will drop off the small mountain of plastic grocery bags that accumulate no matter how hard I try. They're still plastic, but at least they'll be reused as grocery bags.

What are you going to do today?


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's My Blog-iversary

Yes, it's been a year -and that naturally means that my brain is completely empty. Honestly, I have nothing to say today, except that it's my blogging-birthday. Oh well.

It's been a year and I'm delighted with some of the changes for which the blog has been the inspiration. I've made some changes that are making my life more consistent with my principles -and damn principles for being hard to live up to, anyway ;) Mostly these change are small things like fair-trade coffee and the world's cutest bicycle. Some things still elude me; I've got a disposable water bottle sitting here right this minute. So there's still plenty of work to do. I've also met some important-only-to-me goals about writing more and reflecting more. Heck, I even went back to church.

And I've "met" a small community of thoughtful, committed citizens that would have crossed my path in no other way I can imagine. I'm very grateful for that. That's been the biggest treat of all.

And next year promises to be another transformative year, that I hope to find the courage, energy, and time to blog about. The long-suffering spouse and I are "celebrating" (sarcasm there, in case you missed it) our 25th year of marriage by living separately for a year. This is ridiculous on the surface, but I think it will work out. OK, actually, I'm terrified, but there it is. He has interesting and important tasks to work on, as do I. And they're all tied (as has our life together been since before we were married) to the school year -and the new one of those is right around the corner.

So... to another life-changing year. Thanks for being there with me.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sticks and Stones

I know that it can be glib and too easy to point fingers at the other side of the world, criticizing their treatment of women when our own is far from perfect. So, having claimed to be sensitive to that issue, I'm going to do it anyway.

Ashraf Kolhari, an Iranian mother of four, has been sentenced to death for having sex outside of marriage. Kolhari was convicted of having an affair after the Iranian court system refused to grant her a divorce from her husband. The sentence of stoning could be carried out at any time.

And it's hard not to notice that this crime is not committed alone. What happens to the men also involved in the crime of sex outside marriage? Background information about this practice and this particular case can be found here: Amnesty International.

Please, act now by writing to the Iranian government and the United Nations, demanding that Iran stop the cruel practice of stoning and commute Ashraf Kolhari's death sentence. Try this link if you want an easy way to get your letter sent: Feminist Majority.

According to the Islamic Republic of Iran's penal code, women thus convicted must be buried up to their chest and stoned in a manner that increases the victim's suffering and prolongs her death. Stones are deliberately chosen so they will “not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones. Eight other women in Iran reportedly await the same fate as Kolhari.

In 2003, worldwide protest averted the stoning of Amina Lawal. Lawal, a Nigerian single mother, was also convicted of sex out of wedlock. We do have the power to save women's lives. Please join together, once again, to protest death by stoning and to protect the dignity and integrity of women's lives across the globe.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Friday Random 10

I'm back. You know the drill. Set your iPod to shuffle and tell us the first 10 songs that show up -and no fair leaving out the ones that make you look like a dork.

Here are mine for the week:
  • My Blakean Year; Patti Smith
  • Hope Has a Place; Enya
  • The Swan from Carnival of the Animals; Saint Saens via Christer Thorvaldsson
  • Weep No More; Jimmy Buffett
  • Upstage Rhumba; Jimmy Buffett
  • A Love That Will Never Grow Old; Emmylou Harris, from the Brokeback Mountain soundtrack
  • Dancing with Tears in my Eyes; Novaspace
  • Try; Nelly Furtado
  • Crescent City; Lucinda Williams
  • Nocturne for Piano in C Sharp Minor; Chopin via Joshua Bell

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sinking.... trying to swim

I have to learn this again, every time I go away for a few days. You pay and pay and pay for those few days off. My desk looks as though every single person who had a project they didn't want to do dumped it on my desk. Every meeting I missed (and social workers have too may meetings, let's just make that clear) assigned me tasks, and the magic laundry and dusting fairies seem not to have done their work on the home front.

So, my brain has temporarily run dry of blogging subjects. I'm going to pull myself together. I can't say with any certainty, but it could even be tomorrow. Hope springs eternal. In the meantime, go read my friends' blogs. They have their usual brilliant thoughts to share with the world.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Honey, I'm home!

Mamapalooza is over and all went well. Pictures will be posted here, there, and everywhere soon. We returned slightly earlier than planned, because the boy-child was unable to get off from work today. So we red-eyed it, and got back home this morning at about 4. The poor dear, he's been at work since 7:30 (I hope) and the rest of us can sleep the day away.

There was no descending the grand staircase into the ballroom, thank all that is holy. There was no tiara wearing, except by the birthday girl and in the privacy of her own home, which is totally acceptable birthday behavior, I think. Tiny Thomas, the nephew born 3 1/2 months premature, is fabulous in every way. It is possible that I have more pictures of him than of the birthday festivities. My other nephews are fabulous and cute and smart, too. It is apparently impossible to get a good cup of coffee in Birmingham, Alabama. Certainly there is none to be found in my mother's corner of that town. Should you ever find yourself in a car with my son driving, take prophylactic Dramamine. You won't get queasy and you'll sleep through the worst parts. That's all I know at this point. I'll report back when some more of the dust has settled.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Today is Your Birthday!

It's a song. Can you hear the music????

And actually it is. But what I really was referring to is the fact that Saturday is my mother's 70th birthday, which has become a bit of a Southern-belle event. Think a fairly absurd cross between Cinderella and The Age of Innocence, with possibly a little Gatsby thrown in for good measure. It's not a great match for this Birkenstock-wearing, bike-riding girl who's been looking all day for the make-up that she used to have somewhere.....

Cross all your fingers and toes that this event goes well. I'm off to Alabama, where I will -I am given to understand- wear a tiara. Only for my mother, I swear by all that is holy. If I didn't basically like her -if she hadn't put up with ME lo these many years- I swear I'd show up wearing what I'm wearing right this minute.

I'll be back on Tuesday. If you don't hear me from, I broke my neck descending the grand staircase into the ballroom.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm Easy to Entertain Today

I saw this on VirusHead's blog and just had to share it. It's an animated cartoon re: the NSA's illegal wire-tapping, done to the tune of "I Just Called to Say I Love You." Depending on your privacy and your boss's tolerance level, it might not be work-safe.