Thursday, October 30, 2008

from the mouths of babes

I received a call from E's 4th grade teacher while I was at work today. Those are lovely calls to get, aren't they? "Hello! This is Mrs. L. Is this a good time for you to talk? I need to talk to you about an incident with E today."

I should point out that I'm good friends with E's teacher. She didn't sound overly upset or anything, so I didn't freak and simply said yes, this was a good time and please tell me what happened.

The 4th graders put on a Veteran's Day program every year at our school. It's very nice and usually brings a few tears to every eye in the auditorium. Anyway, they were practicing the song "God Bless the USA" today, and Mrs. L told me she noticed that E and her good friend were just sobbing and sobbing. She pulled them aside, very concerned, and asked them what was wrong. My dear, sweet E told her this: "Next week is the election and if John McCain is elected, he's really old and has cancer and if he dies, that means Sarah Palin will be president and then we're going to have to move to CANADAAAAAA!!!!!" (sob sob sob) E's friend was sobbing because she was going to miss E. E was afraid she wasn't even going to get to perform the Veteran's Day program with her class because she would be moving either to Canada or somewhere else overseas.

Oh geez.

I started to apologize profusely to Mrs. L, but had to stop because she couldn't hold back her laughter any longer. "I'm sorry - I don't mean to laugh but. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH" etc., etc., etc. "I think you might ..." hahahahahah" etc.,e etc., etc., ...need to reassure E"....bwahahahah..."tonight. Unless you're really going to move to Canada."

"I think I need to stop shooting my mouth off in front of my kids" I said.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

turning point

My husband made me cry tonight. He did. (and I will continue to remind him of that).

He came home and told me to watch a couple of youtube videos. Remember the WHASSUP!!!?? commercials from (OMG) 8 years ago??

OK. Now watch this one:

I believe they're the same actors.

This totally took me by surprise and I burst into tears, somewhat stunning poor DH.

Sixteen years ago, I was very young. I was single and so naive and idealistic and when Bill Clinton/Al Gore were elected, I cried. I'd gone to the local Democratic Headquarters on election night and felt the love and the optimism and I ate cake in celebration with other democrats. (I also remember hiding from some guy that wanted to date me. LOL. I was pissed beyond belief at him for interjecting something so stupid and unwanted into something I felt so incredibly strongly about. This was a night about the FUTURE and the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and um, not so much about who to go out for pizza with.) No, I never went out with him and I successfully avoided him that night, though I left the festivities earlier than I would have otherwise. But he didn't ruin my fun. I went home and watched the returns and I cried and cried and felt like there was intelligence in the world again after all. Later, I drove to DC in January for the inauguration festivities and ate NY cheesecake and danced with friends. I felt more optimistic about the world than I can remember feeling since.

Next Tuesday holds the opportunity to surpass that feeling of optimism. I will either fall in love with my country all over again or I will... I don't know what I'll do. I saw announcements for work in atmospheric chemistry at York U. in Canada a few weeks ago. Maybe I should look into it. I don't know if I can bear it if John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected. I cannot understand how there is even a possibility of that happening. WTF is WRONG with people?? Seriously? I don't understand. John McCain was someone who held my respect before he nominated doo-dah know-nothing fluffy bit of meanness Palin. The thought of her holding the position of Vice President of the most powerful country on earth is in the realm of horror movies. Seriously. How can anyone that thinks not be scared as hell by the thought of her running this country? OMG.

Turning point.

It's baaaack!!

Four years ago, I was on tenterhooks over the 2004 presidential election and the chance to stop George W from having a second term. I wasn't raving over John Kerry, but I certainly liked him, and he was orders of magnitude better than the alternative. So one evening during the long, long, long election season, I found myself in front of the computer drinking a bottle of wine and watching snippets of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911". (I'm sure I've told this story before). Somehow, my credit card ended up in my hand and then I was at the Kerry campaign headquarters website punching in a donation between my heaving sobs at what a wreck the war in Iraq was, and at my fears for another 4 years of the Bush administration. I learned a valuable lesson that night.
Wine, credit cards, and the internet is a combination best avoided.

I clicked "submit" on the donation page and immediately got back a "Thank you for your generous donation of $2000.00 to the Kerry campaign!"
It took a few seconds for it to compute that somehow, an extra zero had appeared in my donation. Thus ensued a stunned silence, rubbing of the eyes, disbelief, and then one of the fastest sinking feelings in the pit of my stomach that I've had to date.
To make a long story short, I was able to straighten it out with the campaign the next day, and they cheerfully removed one of the zeros, after laughing at me (not with me but at me).

I thought that was the end of that particular story.

This last weekend, I got a phone call from the Democratic candidate running for the US Congress in my local district. I mean, I got a call from the candidate himself. I thought that was surprising. We chatted for a long while, and he started telling me about his stance on the current financial crisis. He mentioned Obama's tax plan and said something to me like "You know, taxes won't be increased on families making less than a quarter million dollars a year. Now, I don't know if you're in that bracket or not - you very well may be."
(Um. OK.)
I told him I was not but that if I were, I would not waver in my support for that sort of tax increase one bit. I then told him I was an atmospheric scientist and that I was especially concerned that the current financial crisis would put the global environmental crisis down the priority list. He immediately assured me that this was the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE in the world to him and that he'd campaigned on it for years. It was in all of his stump speeches for the last 5 or 10 years or so. (Oh, really? FWIW, I couldn't find the word mentioned on his website, though his support of alternative energy sources was quite prominent, in a vague sort of way)

Anyway, he then asked me if I would contribute $2300.00 to his campaign. I immediately burst into laughter, which I don't think was quite the response he was looking for. I recovered enough to tell him I didn't have that kind of cash sitting around and asked him for his website, which he was happy to share with me.

Today, I received a letter from him, again asking for $2300.00 for his campaign, or at least, for a smaller donation of $1000.00. What the hell?

It finally occurred to me that my erroneous extra-zero donation has returned to haunt me. It must have remained on the list of donors to the Democratic Party, and he's targeted me as a money-bags. I hope he's not counting on it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

autumn rites

Systematic disassembling of the pumpkins begins.

(I ADORE the color of baked pumpkins)
The seeds are currently soaking in salt water overnight in preparation for toasting.


and then creamy pumpkin soup with cinnamon (YUM):

There's still lots of puree left, and I'm not running out of ideas for what to use it for - I'm only running out of time.

In other pumpkin news this weekend:

A good time was had by all.

Friday, October 24, 2008

polling website

Here's a site someone showed me yesterday, that has more information on polling and statistics and projections than you could possibly need to know.

I swear I'll try to stop with the negative political posts now. It's just so hard to stop when there is so much material showing up daily.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


But wait!!! More hypocrisy!!!

Another popular RNC smear of Obama: "That one" is associated with ACORN, that evil no-good group associated with the most massive perp of voter fraud E.V.E.R.
No politician worth anything would associate with them would they?? Since Senator Obama represented them in their attempt to carry out the motor-voter law in Michigan, that proves that he's BAD BAD BAD. Right?

McCain, on the other hand MUST be lily-white pure as snow, since he's the one spreading this wealth of information, right?

Oh look! Here's a video of the KEYNOTE SPEAKER at an ACORN meeting just two years
ago!! Hmmm. I wonder who it might be?

"What makes America special is what's in this room tonight."
Was he speaking in code?

lies lies, dirty lies

How is it that my 12 year old son so clearly sees the hypocrisy of John McCain and that 40-something percent of Americans don't (or won't) see it?

Let's look at his latest charge. Barack Obama is a (gasp) socialist because he wants the wealthiest what - 5%?- of Americans to pay a little more tax. Socialist!!! Socialist!!!

Senator McCain. How about this - before you start with the pre-programmed political soundbites, you should probably make damn sure that whatever it is that you're railing against is something that you yourself don't support. You don't want to come across as hypocritical or anything, you know.

Here's John McCain in HIS OWN WORDS.

This one is even more fun. It's from the Daily Show and Q and I just watched it together. (The sheep-thing was a little uncomfortable, but he's nearly a teenager. I was good. I managed.)

Stop! Stop! Your lack of ethics is showing!!
Watch to the end.
John McCain (during 2000):
"Here's what I..I really believe. That when you are ... reach a certain level of comfort, that there's nothing wrong with paying somewhat more."

And what is it again, honorable senator, that you are bashing Barack Obama for? I forget. Something you totally disagree with, SURELY.

Bah. No.Respect.Left.At.All.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I can't stand it

My political posts these last few months have focused almost exclusively on the travesty that is otherwise known as Sarah Palin. I figured enough was enough, and I've tried to lay off. But I cannot stand it anymore. You may (or may not) remember something I posted last month about Governor Palin's answer to a question posed at a stop for cheesesteaks in Philadelphia. The question dealt with whether the US military should cross the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists. She responded (I'm quoting): "If that's what we have to do stop the terrorists from coming any further in, absolutely, we should." I used that as an example of her utter lack of preparation and knowledge about this campaign (not to mention foreign policy) because her answer was in line with what Senator Barack Obama believes, and not what Senator McCain believes.

OK, keep that little episode in mind and consider the following from CNN news today:
Sarah Palin’s pointed criticism of Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda Tuesday morning included a swipe at Obama’s stated commitment to strike at terrorists inside Pakistan’s borders if they are in the sights of the American military.

“Senator Obama has also advocated sending our U.S. military into Pakistan without the approval of the Pakistani government,” Palin said. “Invading the sovereign territory of a troubled partner in the war against terrorism.”

Oh, the hypocricy, the ignorance, the ridiculousness of it all simply boggles the mind. I wrote about a dozen posts in my head during my drive home from work today, all in response to similar ridiculousness on the "honorable" (dripping sarcasm) Governor Palin's part. I'll limit it to just this for now, since my original intent was, after all, to try to lay off. But gracious. What boggles my mind even MORE is that there are actually people out there who intend to vote for her. She could be running this country. Are these people, in fact, actually ok with that idea? (faint)

Edited to add: I just checked out a friend's blog who is discussing and comparing the RNC's (and McCain's very vocal) stance on earmarks versus the incredibly honorable Governor Palin's actual actions. Check this and this if you're interested.

Edited again because I posted the wrong link up there under the "something I posted" line. (See how frazzled I am??!!)

never too old

I made my kids come with me to the pumpkin patch after school yesterday. They complained about having to leave the house...but I didn't hear any complaints when we were there.

Trying not to have fun on the hayride. It was us and a bunch of 1-2 year olds and their parents. You can see how miserable they are.

Careful selection.

Handsome son.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

random things from my weekend

Look what I did:

Applesauce! ...made from the apples I brought home from the Apple Festival last weekend. I also made an apple crisp (which, apparently, only Q and I like, and like it we do, especially with a dollop of vanilla ice cream melting on the top). I made apple pancakes this morning, and I'll be making a butternut squash/apple soup this evening. There will still be some left over, but I picked up a caramel dip at the store this afternoon, so I'm guessing the kids will be able to handle the rest.
Oh - lesson learned. I tried canning with none of the specialized canning equipment. As a result, I discovered all these special items have been invented for a reason and will be well worth the purchase. I also learned that it hurts like h*ll to put a finger in a pot of water that is at a "rolling boil."

I had a nightmare last night that Barack Obama pulled just 35% of the vote in the election. It was terrible. I had knots in my stomach at the vision of Sarah Palin being sworn in as "my" elected leader and was therefore in a pissy mood all morning long.
On that note, thank you Colin Powell, for turning my mood back again by telling it like it is, for calling out John McCain on his fear-mongering campaign tactics. The "terrorist" thing? The "socialist" word? Give me a f*cking break. If you cannot articulate the reasons we should vote for you and instead resort to attempts to scare votes out of the public, you have lost even the last shreds of respect I had left for you. Act like a grown-up. I'm done with the middle-school name calling thing, thankyouverymuch.

I'm not going to say anything about the game tonight. No jinxing allowed. I will say that Jason Varitek picked a helluvagood time to rediscover his bat.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I am a bad person

Yes, it's true. I'm mean and petty and emotional.


The Red Sox were down 3 games to 1 in the best-of-7 ACLS playoffs. The game started at 8 pm last night. I opened the Zweigelt. I made the chicken wings. (Odd combination, I know, but it seems to work its mojo). I put on my Red Sox tank top. (It has to be the tank top - not even my Mikey Lowell jersey - but the tank top). I was good to go. But no one else in my family was. DH was busy trying to fix a fan in one of our computers and hadn't even changed out of work clothes. Q was watching some silly Discovery Channel documentary. E was playing with Littlest Pet Shop toys. I persisted. The Sox fell behind. I emailed virtual sorrow-drinks with J. I demanded that everyone else in my family start contributing. DH just laughed at me. E ignored me. I demanded that she use her powers. She still ignored me. I was M.A.D.

When the Sox were losing 7-0, I'd had enough. I was quite childish. I stormed through the house yelling at people. E still refused to use her powers. (Heh - you know when you joke about something, but only mostly joke?) I drank too much of the Zweigelt and fell asleep. Stupid baseball. Stupid superstitions. Stupid everything.

Headlines this morning:

"One of the best comebacks ever"
"Biggest postseason comeback in 79 years"
"...historic...wild, whacky, wonderful"
"NOW do you believe?"

For the love of Pete.

I didn't make coffee for DH this morning as usual as a form of punishment. I'm not sure exactly why I'm punishing him, but it feels right. I TOLD you I'm a mean person.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

getting old

Dear Everyone,

There is somebody in my life that is expecting me to do something for them tonight. I can't remember who you are or what it is that I am to do, but I clearly remembering thinking through my week and focusing on Thursday, with a response to you of something like "Thursday should be fine. I have nothing scheduled, so Yes. I can."
Your face and the deed have totally escaped my memory. Please send a reminder!



Monday, October 13, 2008


At work, we're undergoing a radical transformation to our computer support. I won't go into a huge amount of detail, so suffice it to say that we're transitioning to a grossly inefficient, inept, costly program called "ODIN" (outsourcing desktop initiative something-or-another). Rather than it be the responsibility of each researcher to determine when he or she requires updated computers and/or software, and what the best "bang for the buck" system might be best suited for our needs, we are now required to all filter everything through a contractor that, for an outrageous fee, will purchase the computers we need at their inflated prices at the time periods they deem is necessary. So for the last 6 months, we have been going through the "transition" period, consisting of personal interviews and ordering of the new systems we are paying for (many times over).

As another example of why I do not think I am paranoid that I have become the epitome of an afterthought, at this time, ODIN has announced it has completed all of the interviews and transitioning required for my division. Oh. Except for - me. In my case, not a word, not a request for an interview, not an email has come my way. Despite sending multiple emails and talking in person to our POC multiple times, asking why the hell I was being ignored (in more polite terms than that), I have yet to receive a SINGLE correspondence from ODIN. I feel like I'm in a glass, sound-proof room and I'm pounding on the walls in abject frustration while the rest of the world on the other side is eating bon-bons out by the pool, and occasionally laughing at the naive dork in the glass room who is going nuts. You KNOW I will be receiving a bill for service too. Wanna take bets of if I decide to pay it or not? Did you see "Horton Hears a Who?"
"I am HERE, I am HERE, I am HEEERREE!!!!!!!"

It just seems ridiculous. I mean, what the hell?

On the non-work side, I reduced my volunteer work from president of the PTA to chair of a single committee (Reflections - for those 'in the know.') I called everyone who indicated on their beginning of the year volunteer forms that they would be interested in helping. I had a committee meeting at my house and determined concrete responsibilities for each person.

Nada work, nada email, nada response to multiple requests for updates on whether they've finished up what they told me they would do.

I suppose I never should have veered from the pessimistic view that you can't trust ANYONE. Seriously. We're pretty much on our own in this world. If you want something to be done? Do it yourself. Nobody is going to take a second out of their day to make things easier for you.

Those who expect that will be the case are naive dorks. Like the one in the soundproof glass cage over there. She's learned this lesson many times over but keeps returning to run into that brick wall again and again. I'm not sure if we should laugh at her ignorance or pity her for her naivity.

What. Me in a bad mood? Ya think?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Our trip to the Graves Mountain Apple Festival marks the beginning of autumn for my family each year. We drove up there today with some friends.

It was pretty warm and the colors weren't all that spectacular, but it was a beautiful day and we had so much fun hanging out with our friends. Here's a photo of the kids eating candied apples while playing in the stream. They spent most of the day digging enormous rocks up from the bottom of the stream. I'm not going to argue with cheap entertainment.

Here's the view I enjoyed a lot of the afternoon from flat on my back on our picnic blanket - after a lunch of brunswick stew, cornbread, applesauce and apple butter.

When they weren't digging rocks out of the stream bed, the kids performed acrobatic stunts off of bales of hay.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

dissed and pissed

Bluntly put, I'm tired of being dissed.

I'm nice enough that apparently, people believe they can sweep me under the rug at their convenience and I'll be OK with it. "That Jen, she'll understand."
The problem is, that it's happening to me too much lately, and I'm getting a complex. Worse, I'm getting pissed.

I don't think I'm being paranoid.

As just one example, I called the local Barack Obama office this morning and asked them if they had any yard signs. "Yep!" was the response. I asked for their hours so I could go pick one up, and the lady told me what they were.

So this afternoon, we drove up there and I hopped out to get a sign. It was very crowded inside - I think there was a group preparing to go canvass some neighborhoods. I made my way into the office and a black gentleman asked me what I needed.
"I need to pick up a yard sign" I said.
He looked me over. "Are you on a list to pick one up?"
I was puzzled. "Uh, I called this morning and asked and was told I could pick one up."
He picked up a yard sign, and looked at me again. "Let me go talk to these people about it" he said.

Just then, another gentleman walked in (also black). The first man paused. "Hey," he greeted. "Can I help you?"
The second gentlman pointed to some brochures. "I was wondering if I could pick up some of these."
"SURE!!!" the first gentleman said. "Do you need any yard signs? And can I get you some bumper stickers?"

(Me, thinking -> What the hell?)

He then proceeded to chat with the the second guy for a good 5-10 minutes, all the while holding the yard sign that he was so unwilling to give me. I positioned myself so he could see me. He turned. I did it again and forced him to catch my eye. After he had finished chatting with gentleman #2, I stared right at him, pretty much speechless at this point. He handed me the sign and said, "Why don't you just take this."

Was I not the right color? Not the right gender? Again - What the hell?

It's a good thing I'm such a strong Barack Obama supporter. This certainly doesn't change the way I feel about him or his candidacy. It did, however, give me pause. I've never viewed his candidacy in the context of race. It's just not been an issue for me. But today did make me (re)realize the ownership that many blacks feel toward Barack Obama. Actually, I can't blame them. But I also don't think it's right or appropriate. I don't think Barack Obama sees this election as a black/white thing. Perhaps I'm being naive.

In any case, it was also just another example of me being made to feel like an afterthought in the lives of people I know. Gah. I'm about done with that. I deserve better.

what works for us

re: the Red Sox win last night in the first game of the ALCS versus the Tampa Bay Devi... er, the Tampa Bay [silence] Rays, and in the series versus the Angels last week

1) Austrian wine (Zweigelt)
2) Hot chicken wings
3) I wear my Red Sox tank top, DH wears his jersey
4) I drift in and out of sleep in the 9th inning (This is not something I PLAN to do or want to do, but I just can't stay up!

We'll do our best to continue the trend tonight.

PS to Kira: Despite the animosity between Red Sox Nation/Coco and the Rays, I actually like them. It's just that we're PLAYING them, so I've got to be snotty.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Trick or Treat!!!

I love Halloween night in my neighborhood. I love watching the little ghosts and frogs and cheerleaders skittering down the road with their pumplins full of candy and treats. I love the goblins and the monsters. And this year, I've met the cutest little monster ever, named Trockle. Here he is:

Trockle is the creation of Holly Jahangiri (author) and Jordan M. Vinyard (illustrator), and can be purchased from 4RV Publishing. The little monster is in the middle of his Trick or Treat tour, and I am excited that he has agreed to stop by here today!! To help him feel at home, I'm providing him with some of his favorite foods:

Eat up, Trockle!

Hey, there are prizes at this party!!! See information on what you can win and how you can enter after my review of the book below.

Stephen is a little boy who, like every child I've known, occasionally has trouble at bedtime. In the dark and quiet of night, a child's imagination has much room to work, and Stephen is certain that there is a monster under his bed. Despite his mother's assurance that the monster repellent spray she used under his bed would rid his room of any creepy crawlies, he insists that the monster is there nonetheless.
We are then taken to that other world: the world beneath Stephen's bed. And lo and behold, we find that there is indeed a monster living there. This isn't the monster that children fear, however. We learn that Trockle is as afraid of Stephen as Stephen is of him. Trockle's mother comforts her little monster while lovingly convincing him that the little boy above his bed is nothing to be afraid of.

My children have always loved books. They are older now (9 and 12) and love science fiction and fantasy, and stories about dragons. When they were little, they loved all kinds of books, but would always have those select favorites that I would read to them at night - every night. Trockle would have been one of their favorites if it had been around back then. The illustrations are big and bright and fun. Trockle is fun - especially when he describes the things about Stephen that scare him. The story will be a comfort to children with active imaginations and who have their own monsters under their beds.

One of the things that I appreciate as an adult is the message of tolerance in this book. Here you have a human boy and a little monster who live in different worlds but must cope with the idea of something strange living so close to them. Isn't it almost always the case that our imagined fears are worse than reality? Once we have been thoroughly introduced to both Stephen and Trockle, we find out that despite the obvious differences (one eye versus two, clean and cozy sheets versus a smelly old gym sock, sticky dirty hands versus neatly trimmed green pointy fingernails), the two have more in common than either of them would guess. If we would all take the time to learn about those who are different than we are, I imagine we would be surprised at the number of connections that are there.

So let's celebrate with Trockle and Stephen! Join the party!
There are prizes! Here is information on the prizes and how you can enter the contest:

Grand Prize: A customized Halloween short story featuring your child (or grandchild, niece, nephew, or friend) with Trockle - written by Holly Jahangiri and illustrated by Jordan Vinyard.
(Note from me: I think this is SO COOL!!!!)

Second Prize: A $20 gift certificate to

To enter, complete the following steps:
(1) Purchase a copy of Trockle directly from 4RV Publishing between 12:00 AM October 5 and 11:59 PM October 13, and

(2) Send an email to with your answer to the question posted at Holly's blog.

You may enter as often as you like, but all completed entries must be received before midnight on October 13!

Winners will be announced at and at

The winners will be chosen randomly from all correctly completed entries (see "To enter" above) and winners will be notified by email.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Grand Prize winner will need to work directly with the author and illustrator to create a memorable gift for that special child. To include the child's likeness in the illustration, you will need to provide a digital photo upon notification that you have won. Every effort will be made to deliver the prize prior to Halloween, but circumstances beyond our control may prevent that and we do not guarantee that it will arrive by October 31.

Time to bring out the desserts. Trockle and Stephen, you should ask your moms if you can have some first. Everyone else enjoy, and thanks for stopping by!!!! Trockle will be here all day today. Leave any questions for him (or for Holly) in my comments...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

tomorrow's visitor

This is Trockle, the cute little one-eyed monster with pointy green fingernails that is the subject of the book called "Trockle."

Trockle will be visiting this blog tomorrow as part of his virtual Trick or Treat book tour. Be sure to stop by! Don't be afraid. He's really not all that scary. Just ask Stephen.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

ouch ouch ouch

(this drawing is from

"It's time that normal Joe six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency..."

Governor Sarah Palin in radio interview with Hugh Hewitt.

Let's play a word-association game. What or who comes to your mind when I say


Here are some of my answers:
The guy down the street with a beer belly who walks around showing his butt crack.
"King of the Hill"
"Family Guy"

I've gotta say. "Vice President of the United States" doesn't spring to mind for me.

The media has been reporting this as Sarah Palin trying to appeal to Joe Six-Pack. I don't read her answer that way (I listened to it too, and I'm sticking to my interpretation).
"...finally represented IN the position of vice presidency..."

I am offended that she thinks we're stupid enough to want "Joe SixPack" as our leader. You want a leader to be the best of the general public in order to best serve it. You do not necessarily want a leader to be representative OF the general public, particularly if you characterize the general public as "Joe Sixpack". Or at least those are my ideals. (I'm not the only one.)

The stupid, it burns...