Thursday, March 30, 2006

Protesting and Children


"Oscar DeLeon, a parent of three children in the protest, left work to watch the march.

"I support them. They've got their rights," he said.

Alvin High School Principal Kevon Wells, who also watched the group, said the students will be treated as truants. Punishment can include after-school detention and being assigned to an alternative school campus, he said."

Students do have rights, including those listed in the Bill of Rights. So, yes, they do have the right to peacefully assemble and to petition the government for redress of their grievances.

However, rights have responsibilities. I wonder if the students are as aware of those as they are of their rights? And, are they aware that actions--even lawful, Constitutionally protected actions--have consequences?

Are their parents?

There is a reason why we, as adults, place limitations on some of the rights of our children.
Our children do not always recognize consequences or responsibilities. So we, as adults, must educate them. (At the Warren, we're currently educating DD#2 on the consequences of not doing homework--her responsibility. It is a difficult, tedious process. )

Will Mr. DeLeon accept the consequences of his children's actions--that they will serve detention because they were truant? Will Mr. DeLeon accept being docked for missing work because he chose to watch his children march? If he does, then his children will learn about their responsibilities as adults in a democratic republic and not merely their rights.

Will Principal Wells decide that the ad hoc civics lesson was more important than the children being in class? If he does, what will he do the next time?

(H/T: Michelle Malkin)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Ideal Advanced Degree

You Should Get a PhD in Liberal Arts (like political science, literature, or philosophy)

You're a great thinker and a true philosopher.
You'd make a talented professor or writer.

Actually, I "discovered" my ideal field as a senior in college: the History of Science. It was a relatively new field back then and one I'd never heard of. But it covers two of my major interests.

Unfortunately, by then I was so ready to leave school and get on with my life, I couldn't stand it!

(H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic)

Where Am I? Seattle?

22 days of rain so far this month, matching a record set in 1983. If it rains tomorrow, as predicted, that will be 23 days of rain, matching a record set in 1904.

In February we had record highs and ski resorts in the Sierras were considering closing before Easter. Now it looks like we might have skiing through June.

The good news: no drought conditions this summer. And if you've ever wanted to visit Yosemite to see the falls, this would be the year.

The bad news: everything is wet and gray and generally dreary.

Tolerance in San Francisco (or Signs of Sanity Surface)

Published in Letters to the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Editor -- So a bunch of kids come to San Francisco to "celebrate" the fact that "it is cool to be Christian" and Assemblyman Mark Leno tells them San Francisco doesn't want them in our city celebrating? What is he thinking? With the misery in this world and the constant bad news that kids are in serious trouble, the city doesn't welcome kids who are celebrating their religion?

San Francisco does welcome them, indeed with open arms. Tolerance of diversity has always been our trademark and that diversity does not discriminate in our city!

Would Leno tell St. Francis he is not welcomed?


San Francisco

Angela would know. Her father, Joseph, was Mayor of San Francisco. Angela was, herself, a Supervisor and has run for mayor a couple of times. Her grandparents met because of their familes were dislocated after the 1906 Earthquake (and you don't get much more San Franciscan than that!).

Compared to Angela, Leno is a carpetbagger.

Separating City and Cardinal

Let's be clear... I am (usually) proud to be known as a native San Franciscan. My family's roots, on both sides, go back four generations. But lately, I don't know. Who are these people and where did they come from?

Unfortunately, I don't actually live in The City. We can't afford to. So I can't vote these folks out of office. I can only shake my head in dismay and wonder if sanity will ever return to my world.

And, just for the record, not all residents of San Franciso disagree with Cardinal Levada's values.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

When San Francisco's Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution last week condemning the city's former archbishop, now Cardinal William Levada, for a church policy barring adoptions by same-sex couples, the action drew widespread media attention.

But the news didn't change plans for an official city delegation that traveled to the Vatican for Levada's installation as cardinal and presented him Friday with a glass paperweight etched with the official seal of the city.

Now Supervisor Tom Ammiano, a gay Catholic who sponsored the Levada resolution, and other supervisors are wondering how such an apparent contravention of city policy could have occurred and whether any rules governing San Francisco's seal were broken.

"I think it is a significant breach," Ammiano said Tuesday. "You can't be cavalier about things like that."


The question of whether to attend the ceremony marking Levada's elevation to cardinal was a thorny political issue for San Francisco officials after news broke this month that the Catholic Church would no longer permit its charitable organization to allow children to be adopted by gay and lesbian couples.

The controversy prompted Mayor Gavin Newsom to cancel a trip to the Vatican and Ammiano to introduce his resolution, which stated that Levada "is a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city and of the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear."


Newsom spokeswoman Darlene Chiu said the city's official response to Levada's appointment as cardinal was mapped out months before the controversy over same-sex adoptions erupted. Chiu said the gift presented by Veronese was produced by the city's Office of Protocol, is typically given to visiting heads of state and should not be considered an official seal of the city.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Movie Review: The Legend of Zorro

In this sequel to The Mask of Zorro, it is 1850 and California is voting to become part of the United States. Of course, it is just before the Civil War and if California joins as a Free State, the delicate balance between the Free States and Slave States will be upset.

Don Alejandro de la Vega (Antonio Banderas) is a quiet, intellectual, almost effete nobleman. But when the bells of the mission toll five times, he becomes Zorro, the fox, who rides to the rescue on his horse, Tornado, fighting injustice and ensuring the security of the common folk who love him.

Dona Elena de la Vega (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is Don Antonio's wife, who is not very happy when her husband becomes Zorro. In fact, they have a huge fight because Don Alejandro is not quite ready to hang up Zorro's sword.

They have a son, a precocious boy named Joaquin, who idolizes Zorro and doesn't think much of his father.

Amidst this family drama, evil men plot to hijack the vote, preventing California from joining the Union and ultimately destroying the United States.

Banderas and Zeta-Jones have terrific chemistry together. Their dialogue, especially, has some witty one-liners and rejoinders, along with the tension that comes with any marriage. The horse that plays Tornado is a scene-stealer, especially one that pays homage to Lee Marvin and his horse in Cat Ballou (Marvin won an Oscar for his performance and noted that the credit really belonged to the horse). The young actor who plays Joaquin is perfect--not too smarmy, not too precocious. The fact that he speaks Spanish is a plus.

My major complaint with the movie is the lousy job they did with California history. I mean, how difficult can it be to realize there wasn't any Confederacy in 1850? Or that the capital of California was in Monterey, not San Mateo? (I suppose I should be happy that the writers didn't make the capital Sacramento.)

However, this is strictly a fun movie: lots of great fights and swordplay, lots of gymnastics, Zeta-Jones wearing elaborate gowns with plenty of decolletage and her hair long. Not quite as cartoonish as the Disney version, which I grew up with, but a bit more exciting.

Not a bad way to spend a couple of hours at home on a rainy afternoon.

On the March Hare scale: 4 out 5 Golden Tickets (for the type of movie it is).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

March Madness--7th Grade Style

Last night was the first game of the CYO Girls' Basketball season for DD#2's team. She hates basketball because there's too much running and the game moves really fast. However, she needs to be more active physically (there are weight issues in our family) and the coaches really stress fitness. And every year her game improves. So I signed her up. I told her that she only has to play until she graduates and then she never has to pick up a basketball again. But at least she'll have the skills in both basketball and volleyball for pick-up games later in life.

Her coach--who was also her coach for volleyball this year and is just a really terrific guy--came over to Hubs and I.

"The rest of the team is over there," he told DD#2. "Why don't you go stand with them."

She went off and he motioned for Hubs and I to stay.

"I have to tell you this," he said. "Tuesday, DD#2 was having a bad day. We had words, but she took it pretty well and it wasn't anything major. On Thursday, after practice, she came up to me and apologized and admitted that she had been having a bad day. I was really impressed by her maturity."

That was so nice to hear. And its nice to hear that although she hates basketball, she still gives it her all. Well, most of the time, anyway. Once again, she's better at it than she thinks she is.

The game itself was exciting. Our school is not a basketball powerhouse. We have great defense, can steal the ball, but can't shoot worth beans. Fortunately, our first game was against a school that is very similar to ours. (Hubs and I watched much of the preceding game. "Are you sure those are 7th Graders?" Hubs asked. "Yes," I replied. "We're in trouble," he said.) The score was pretty close and the girls kept up the pressure for the entire 60 minutes. And they were very aggressive. I commented to one of the moms during halftime, "Remember when they used stand there and let the other team keep shooting?"

"Remember when they couldn't remember which basket was theirs?" she countered.

That was only four years ago.

Usually they get more aggressive in their playing as the season wears on. I might have to stock up on ice packs.

DD#2 didn't make any baskets, but she did foul twice. In our house, fouls are okay--it means you were near the ball, in the mix of the play.

And they won.

Friday, March 24, 2006

RIP, Desmond Doss

From the Mudville Gazette comes news that Mr. Doss passed away at the age of 87.

Mr. Doss was a Medal of Honor winner during WWII. He was also a Seventh Day Adventist, and thus would not carry a gun, nor a bayonet, nor eat meat, nor take any life. He could have been a Conscientious Objector, but he declined.

Here's the link to Mr. Doss's story, care of Chaotic Synaptic Activity.

Mr. Doss was truly an American hero and uttlerly self-affacing, which is why is remained relatively unknown during his life.

(H/T: The Mudville Gazette)

Girl Talk (Guys, You've Been Warned...)

Yesterday, the underwire in my bra broke through the lining and poked me every time I tried to use the keyboard.

Guess it's time to buy a new bra. Actually, I need two of them because another one is wearing out.

I hate bra shopping. Hubs doesn't understand that. But then we have different opinions on what, exactly, bras are supposed to do. I'm interested in support and comfort. Let's just say that's not high on his list. ;)

The bra that just died is a T-back bra I bought specifically for a sleeveless sheath dress that was cut a bit higher on the shoulder and a bit deeper in the back than a tank top usually is. I am old-fashioned enough to believe that straps of undergarments should not be exposed. The other bra has narrow straps and smooth cups for the tank-style sweaters that I find I wear a lot these days, as I never know quite when a "personal summer" is going to hit.

The problem with shopping for a bra is the fit varies among manufacturers. All 36Bs are not the same. And then there is style: demimonde? decollete? full cup? lightly padded? pushup? (Yeah, that's what I want for work--a bra that emphasizes my boobs!) Am I full-figured? Am I in-between? The other problem is price. I am a cheapskate. If they expect me to pay more than $20 for a bra, it better do more than merely "lift and separate!"

Long gone are the days when my mother took me to Penney's and a blue-haired matron wearing cat's eye glasses, a pencil behind her ear, took the tape measure from around her neck and proclaimed me a 32A. Who then followed said matron out of the dressing room to a case, opened the drawer, and handed my mother a box containing a white cotton bra in the appropriate size. Which my mother handed to me, saying, "Try this on and see if it fits." I know, I know--there are stores out there now who also claim to have "fitters." But I have yet to see one. At least, one who is willing to sell me a $20 bra!

Because I am so particular about fit, comfort, and function (known in our house as the "jump test"), I cannot shop with someone else. My daughters lose patience. My husband heads for Fredrick's.

Meanwhile, I just won't wear that sheath dress...

What Type of Writer Should You Be?

You Should Be a Joke Writer

You're totally hilarious, and you can find the humor in any situation.
Whether you're spouting off zingers, comebacks, or jokes about life...
You usually can keep a crowd laughing, and you have plenty of material.
You have the makings of a great comedian - or comedic writer.

Well, I certainly try to find the humor in every day life. But I've found that much of what I think of as my "humorous" writing doesn't come off that way. It needs my voice to give it the necessary touch of irony. I'm not sure how to get around that with the printed word.

(H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Please Pray for... friend, Susan, and her husband, John. John's medical condition has been precarious for years and it looks like he might have started on the long journey home.

How Not to Build With LEGOS

So the U.N. uses this image:

Then quietly removes it from their website after complaints that the Lego implies the Danes are racist.

LEGO's Response:

"LEGO goes to the UN

"LEGO is very surprised about the company's very recognizable product is being used in connection with racism. LEGO's communications chief Charlotte Simonsen explains that they will now get in touch with the UN. "This is problematic, to know that this poster should include LEGO connected with racism or as racists. We really have to wonder that the UN didn't let us know in advance when LEGO has previously worked together with the UN's Refugee Commisson on a campaign" said Ms Simonsen.

"Danish Peoples Party leader, Pia Kjærsgaard, finds the UN poster unacceptable. "One would have to be more than usually naive to not see that this is an outrageous insult. It is my assumption that they have tried to symbolize the Mohammed-cartoon crisis as something very Danish". She feels that this is the latest example of how the UN has over time lost its founding values."

Why is anyone surprised? This is the same U.N. that panders the Arab nations whenever it can, condemning Israel and failing to condemn anti-Semitism.

This is also the same U.N. that pays only lip service to the idea of copyright, trademarks, and patents--which LEGO most certainly (probably on all three counts.)

IMHO, LEGO should go after the U.N. for use of a trademarked item without permission. And take the gloves off while doing so. While someone at the ad agency might have dreamed this up, someone at Turtle Bay signed off on it.

(H/T: Michelle Malkin)

A Different View of Charlie

"Actor Charlie Sheen has joined a growing army of other highly credible public figures in questioning the official story of 9/11 and calling for a new independent investigation of the attack and the circumstances surrounding it."

--Charlie Sheen Questions Official 9/11 Story Website

Excuse me? Charlie Sheen a highly credible public figure? Did Charlie share his stash with these guys or what?

(H/T: Michelle Malkin)I

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Troop Withdrawal When?

"Bush has adamantly refused to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Asked if there would come a day when there would be no more U.S. forces in Iraq, Bush said, "That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq.""

--Courtesy of Terence Hunt
AP White House Correspondent

Kind of makes me wonder what our deadline is for withdrawing troops from Germany...

Dante and a Coffee, Please

This article in the San Francisco Chronicle is awe-inspiring! And it shows that high school students--even poor, disadvantaged, immigrant high school teens--aren't intimidated by a challenge.

They are, however, intimidated by ignorance.

Three cheers for Ms. Taylor!

Book Review: Mansfield Park

According to the Introduction of the edition I read, Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s second longest book and one of her “darker” books.  There are certainly no comedic characters in it, as in Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice.  

But since I didn’t read the Introduction until after I read the story, I didn’t know any of that.  (BTW, I wholeheartedly recommend reading books that way, especially The Classics.  For one, most of the Introductions or Editor’s Notes or Explanations contain spoilers.  For another, these books were entertainment long before they were “Literature” and should be read that way.)

Fanny Price is the “poor relation” who lives at Mansfield Park with her uncle and aunt, Lord and Lady Bertram, and their four children:  Tom, Edward, Maria, and Julia.  Fanny is a bit younger than Maria and Julia—about three years.  All three are of marriageable age, although Fanny is a bit young at the beginning.

There is also another aunt, Mrs. Norris (I wonder if she served as the namesake of Argus Filch’s cat in Harry Potter?  Hmmm…).  Mrs. Norris is the one who actually suggests that the Bertrams take Fanny in, but then refuses all responsibility for her—except to remind Fanny constantly how lucky she is to be at the Bertrams, how grateful she should be, and how inferior in every way she is to Maria and Julia.

Fanny, who is shy and retiring to begin with, absolutely fades into the woodwork in this environment.  The only person at Mansfield Park, the Bertram family estate, who sees there is more to her, is her cousin, Edmund.  Fanny falls in love with him, but is too shy to let him know.

Mary Crawford, sister to the pastor, comes to live at the parsonage.  Her brother, Henry, is a frequent visitor and they soon become friends with the young residents of Mansfield Park.  Hormones rage (in a very genteel sort of way), feelings are hurt, flirtations abound.  And each of the young people makes decisions affecting his or her future.  

I found myself feeling very sympathetic about Fanny.  Who wouldn’t be intimidated in such a household, especially as a poor relation?  Lady Bertram means well, but is indolent (a much richer word than merely “lazy”).  Aunt Norris is truly vicious.  Lord Bertram leaves to take care of business in Antigua and only begins to see what is really going on when he returns—but that acknowledgement is reluctant and almost too late.  Fanny’s crippling shyness and fear does not allow her to defend her decision about whom she will marry and she suffers for it.  (Jane Austen is not very easy on parents in the three novels I have read.)

This book was not as easy a read as Pride and Prejudice.  The consequences of the characters’ actions were more serious—which made them more realistic.  There is much more tension in this book between doing what is right and indulging yourself; between love and social status; between infatuation (or desire) and duty.  Since Hollywood is not much interested in these considerations—or the fact that one choice precludes another—you won’t see this novel made into a movie any time soon.  (In fact, the only two film adaptations I found on IMDb were U.K. productions from 1983 and 1999.  And the 1999 production was panned as being unfaithful to the book, especially the character of Fanny.)

On the March Hare scale:  3.5 out of 5 Bookmarks.

Next up on my Austen list:  Emma, I think.  

Monday, March 20, 2006

7-11, Illegal Immigrants, and Manicures

Our new deacon was introduced during Mass this Sunday and he gave his first sermon.

“[The local warehouse store] is filled with SUVs,” he stated, “and people are looking for bargains. And then there is 7-11, where poor people have to shop and pay a premium for what they buy.

“Southland Corporation and Halliburton make profits,” he continued. “Illegal aliens cross our border from Mexico, trying to grab the umbilical cord here and make a better life for themselves. A scared, young soldier [because, of course, old soldiers are never scared—ed.] is in Iraq, wondering how he found himself there because the recruiter said, ‘Be all you can be.’

“Can I have an ‘Amen!’” our new deacon said to the congregation who drives SUVs to the local warehouse store, who work for corporations that make profits, and who have sons and daughters working in Iraq.

He had to ask twice before he got a very, very weak “Amen.”

“Why are profits so terrible?” I wanted to ask him.

I have personal experience with the importance of profits. Because of lack of profits, I have had my wages frozen—with three different companies, two fairly large and one a small, family-owned operation. I have been laid off twice because of lack of profits. I have witnessed two companies declare bankruptcy—one came out of it, the other did not. If a particular store does not make money, the company closes it. Sometimes that will be merely an inconvenience, such as when the local chain store (and informal community center) in my town recently closed. Sometimes, however, the store is the only place to buy milk, bread, diapers, and a cup of coffee on the way to work. It may be the only place open at 11:00 p.m. when the baby is crying because of a fever and you need liquid Tylenol. Or formula.

Southland Corporation has to pay its employees. They have to pay for electricity and natural gas. They have to pay for insurance to cover their losses due to shoplifting and to robberies. They have more storefronts than the average warehouse store (which, because of its size, tends to be in a remote area), and so higher leasing costs. These costs are reflected in their prices.

And investors in Southland, which include pension funds as well as private citizens, expect to have a return on their investment as well.

Our deacon has an “outside” job. He works for the County. So his experience with profit may be a bit different than mine.

“What is Mexico doing to make life better for their citizens?” I wanted to ask. According to the CIA World Fact Book, Mexico is rich in the following natural resources: petroleum, silver, copper, gold, lead, zinc, natural gas, timber. They are lacking the infrastructure needed to take advantage of these resources. But is that the fault of the United States? Corruption, usually in the form of bribery, is systemic and widely acknowledged.

Over $16 billion is sent to Mexico from immigrants, legal and illegal, living in the U.S. This is Mexico’s second leading source of foreign exchange, after petroleum. Most of that is spent on basic necessities by the families in Mexico, not saved nor invested. That’s also $16 billion not invested in the U.S.

Once again, we come back to that nasty word: profits. Without profits, companies—or countries—can’t save, can’t invest in the infrastructure necessary to modernize, to increase production, to make goods and services cheaper and more affordable. When the leaders are skimming the profits, the situation becomes very grave. It is convenient to have a scapegoat, a neighbor that will never miss whatever it is you are stealing from him: jobs, cash, quality of life.

Illegal immigrants do not do the jobs Americans won’t do. Illegal immigrants do them cheaper than legal immigrants. (I don’t understand why ethnic organizations, ostensibly concerned with the welfare of their members, aren’t doing more to restrict illegal immigration.) I washed dishes in my college dormitory because it paid more per hour than working check-in at the door. My dishwashing job also brought home the fact that for some of the permanent employees, washing dishes was their livelihood, not merely a way to earn pocket money.

So what does all this have to do with getting my nails done?

I have had, maybe, three professional manicures in my life. I know many women who “get their nails done” almost religiously every two weeks. I always thought it was kind of silly—after all, my fingers are typing or plunged into dishwater or chopping vegetables or cutting meat or scraping something gross out of a drain. Why would I spend good money on something that I was going to ruin in a day or two?

My outlook changed, though, when a friend of mine started to get her nails done regularly.

She and I are a lot alike (according to our husbands). We camp, we hike, we play guitar, and we work on computers most of the day. We haul gear and food in and out of our cars with the guys. Our hairstyles and our makeup—when we wear it—are simple.

A couple of summers ago, she and her daughter (who is a year older than DD#2) went out and had their nails done. It was a spur-of-the moment decision, made, in part, because “the boys” were at Scout camp and getting your nails done was such a girly thing to do. They enjoyed it so much that they continued. Every two weeks, they have a mother-daughter date at the manicurist.

I thought, “What a neat thing to do.” And I’ve begun to look for mother-daughter activities that are special. Because of school policy, DD#2 can’t wear nail polish. So our activities usually center on shopping at different craft stores for whatever projects have caught our fancies.

My feelings about manicures—and about profits and illegal immigrants—changed when my perception of their purpose changed. Profits are not “evil” when I realized my paycheck was tied to them. Illegal immigrants are as much a result of the decisions and governing practices of the Mexican government as of the decisions of the U.S. And manicures are as much about bonding as they are about vanity.

Our new deacon and I have differing perceptions of the purpose of at least two of those. Will I have the chance to discuss those differences with him? Will those differences come between us, preventing me from hearing what he has to say and vice versa?

I’ll let you know after his next homily!

Friday, March 17, 2006

My Favorite Irish Joke

Q: What's the difference between and Irish Wake and an Irish Wedding?


A: One less drunk.

(Having been to a few of both, I can testify that there's a lot of truth to this joke!)

(H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic--because why should she have all the fun?)

How Irish Am I? Hey, I Bleed Green!

You're 70% Irish

You're very Irish, and most likely from Ireland.
(And if you're not, you should be!)

Would have scored higher if I knew what Gaelic Football was. Now I've got to go check it out! But one of the questions was: You have a sister named Catherine, Elizabeth, or Mary. I have two sisters. Both of their names are listed! (I also know a Mary Katherine AND a Mary Elizabeth.)

Meanwhile, my French grandfather and my German grandfather are rolling over in their respective graves! ;)

(H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

St. Paddy's Day, Corned Beef, and Fridays in Lent

So DS#1 was driving me to BART again today and he had the radio on to one of his stations. And one of the morning DJ crew was reading news clips. One that caught the attention of the one of the DJ's was this: several bishops have given dispensation so that The Faithful can have meat on St. Patrick's Day, which happens to fall on a Friday this year.

DJ#2 immediately gets on his high horse, ranting about how he doesn't understand how (meaning the bishops, I presume) can just go around giving dispensations. "I mean, either the Bible says or it doesn't say..." And that's when I lost track of the conversation.

I should be used to the woeful ignorance of morning DJ's in particular and the media in general about the rules of meatless Fridays for Catholics. I've tried to explain it to Hubs, who is not Catholic. And he still doesn't get it.

But, still, to bring the Bible into it?

Note to dimwitted DJ: St. Patrick was born several hundred years after the Bible was written. So it would be pretty difficult to find a passage that explicitly states that one may not eat meat on Fridays during Lent--which hadn't been invented yet-- except when the feast of a saint--who has yet to be born--falls on a Friday. Then it's okay to eat corned beef and cabbage (did the Jews have corned beef yet? Or cabbage?)


I'm sure The Curt Jester could do something with this idea, though...

Sex After 40 (In Which I Digress--A Lot)

"The actress [Sharon Stone--ed], who turned 48 last week, looked stunning as she arrived for the world premiere of Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction in London's Leicester Square.

She said the film, which promises even more nudity and 'kinky stuff' than the 1992 original, proves that women over 40 can be sexy.

"In America we tend to erase women after 40, and it's a period when women become their most interesting. They are sexual in a different and alluring way," added the star, who recently became the face of Dior skincare."

--Daily Mail (UK)

So now we need to be nude to be sexy???


Count me as one of those women who is on the far side of 40. I'm also lucky in that I look younger than my chronological age. Okay, and I often act much younger than my chronological age. My excuse for the latter is the same as when I was a girl and my mother would admonish me, "Act your age!"

"But this is the first time I've been this age!" I would protest. "How am I supposed to know how to act?"

Be that as it may, on with Ms. Stone's assessment of her role:

"This film expresses that sexual allure in an unabashed and provocative way - in a way that is gritty and dangerous and quite presumptive."

To be honest, all I need do to be provocative to Hubs is wear a T-shirt. Or wash dishes (what is it about women at the sink that turns men on? Is hot, steamy water and bubbles an aphrodisiac? If so, Dawn is a heck of a lot cheaper than Chanel No. 5.) I don't need to be "unabashed and provocative"--thank goodness! I don't want to have to think that hard.

Most of us over the age of 40 need a little structural help for breasts and buttocks that have succumbed to the effects of gravity. Much like most men over the age of 40 are follicley-challenged on their heads (what is the evolutionary purpose of ear hair?) and who need a "skosh" more room in their Levis, especially around the waist and thighs.

"Being comfortable in your own skin" applies to those of us who are pausing to enjoy the view from the top of the hill (don't rush me! I'll move downhill in a bit!), both figuratively AND literally. On my 40th Birthday, I decided to make peace with my faults. I am never going to be Grace Kelly. I will never learn to modulate my voice. I will always have to watch what I eat and exercise. I will always have a sarcastic sense of humor (although I have learned to be careful of when I display it). I will always be a Roman Catholic Girl Scout geek tomboy who often leaps before she looks. And who will do just about anything other than keep house, although I do enjoy being a wife and a mother. (Can't show my daughter how to sew, but I can explain pH for a science project...)

And when I turned 50, I stopped apologizing for myself. I wear skirts and nylons to work because that is what I feel comfortable wearing in a business environment. On the weekends, I often don't wear jewelry--and that includes not wearing my wedding band. Hey--I drive a minivan (covered with Girl Scout and Boy Scout bumper stickers), have a parade of children following me, and a balding, pudgy guy with a gray beard talking to me about car payments, college tuition, and what-are-we-going-to-do-for-dinner. I need a ring to show I'm married, too?

The Anchoress summed it well: "Women in America are not “erased” without their owacquiescencece to it. Women who run for botox at the first wrinkle or who get their faces pulled so tight they can’t close their eyes, or who constantly have themselves “primed” invalidate themselves. They signal to the world that the world’s obsession with youthful beauty is, in fact, a correct and legitimate obsession. They disown themselves and all the gifts and wisdom that come with age by obliterating any evidence of it."

Wasn't Women's Liberation about liberating ourselves from "ageist" ideas about beauty? That the wisdom of a crone had as much value as the physical appearance of a maiden? (Although I hate the word "crone." I much prefer "Dame.")

There's a certain softening around the edges that happens with age. Helen Fielding, in Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason, has a wonderful scene where Mrs. Jones talks to Bridget about The Velveteen Rabbit. Bridget later kisses Mark Darcy "on the top of his head, where his fur is getting thin." Love--and life--wears us out and breaks us down, making us comfortable in the process. Comfortable with ourselves, which, in turn, makes us comfortable to be around.

I'm okay with that--that's why I buy "relaxed fit" jeans.

(H/T: The Anchoress)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

J.K. Rowling's Updated Her Website

Check out J.K. Rowling's website. She's added new "Easter Eggs"--I've found one so far and added a page to my scrapbook. I haven't been able to figure out what to do with the other three I noticed. The portkeys are different and some of the rooms have changed. She hasn't updated her diary since February 28--she's worse than me! (Okay, she also is writing a book and has a new baby, so she has an excuse.)

Anyway, it's something to do while waiting for Book VII...

Sometimes They Surprise Me--P. VII

Because we dropped the truck off for servicing last night, DS#1 had to drive me to the BART station.

"Don't step on my robot or my graduation paper," he warned as I climbed into the front seat.

"Graduation paper?" I looked down on my feet. Yep, there was an official looking form in the footwell of the car--along with some other papers. DS#1's filing system is more disorganized than mine.

"Yeah. Apparently I'm entitled to a ceremony and everything," he replied.

"So when is your application due for Cal Poly?"

"June 1," he replied.

He knew. Which means he has checked it out and is planning--really planning--on moving on to a real University. He's been at the Community College now for four years but has really been a serious student for the last two-and-a-half.

"Yeah, I had to get that working-and-going-to-school thing out of my system," he admitted. And he had to move beyond his group of high school buddies.

He's getting an AA and a certificate in Electronics from the Community College. He hopes to go to Cal Poly next spring--he wants to finish up all his lower division math and physics first. Even if he doesn't get in, this is still progress. DS#1 is smart, but he has trouble focusing, especially if he's bored. He doesn't like to ask for help; he doesn't like to admit he doesn't know or that something is tough. He's also a quick wit, which he's used more than once to get out of trouble or doing what he's supposed to.

I didn't get any details about graduation, other than the fact he has the form to complete. I hope he does--it would be nice to have some proof of accomplishment after four years! :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Paper for Sale!

The Contra Costa Times is my local paper. When Hubs and I first moved out here, the Times was a thrice-weekly freebie, mostly concerned with shopping ads, news about our neighbors, wedding announcements, and the all-important Youth Soccer and Little League baseball scores. Gradually it grew into a "real" paper, seven-days-a-week with a special Sunday edition, and we had to pay.

The publisher, Dean Lesher, was a local resident and philanthropist. Because he lived in the area, the paper reflected many of the regional issues that were (or should have been) important to residents of Contra Costa County. After his death, the paper was sold to Knight Ridder and the focus became more global and less regional. More of the articles were taken from national wire services and fewer from the neighborhood reporters.

Knight Ridder sold many of its papers to McClatchy News Service and McClatchy is looking to sell some of the smaller papers that don't fit its marketing vision. The Contra Costa Times is one of those.

Contra Costa is one of the largest counties in California and has been growing tremendously over the last 20 years. Jobs have moved out of San Francisco and Oakland to the campuses of Contra Costa where land and taxes are cheaper. CoCo County doesn't have the cachet of San Francisco or Santa Clara, but it is home to some of the movers and shakers of Fortune 500 companies like SBC, Clorox, and Chevron.

I wish that whomever decides to purchase The Times appreciates the need for a newspaper in the area that is truly local in scope. I don't need to read about the trials and tribulations of churches and schools in New York or Tennessee or Texas. I want to read about what is going on in my own backyard.

Parochial? You bet. For national news, I have the San Francisco Chronicle, the TV networks, CNN, Fox, The New York Times, and all the websites I can handle. I want to know what's going on where I live, not only because the local issues affect me directly, but also because I affect them--or have a better chance to.

Besides, over the years I feel like I've come to know some of the feature writers and critics. While they might not be quite like family, they are familiar friends, even if I don't always agree with their opinion.

Just Added: Day By Day

One of the reasons I read Captain's Quarters daily is for Chris Muir's comic strip, Day By Day. Mr. Muir is kind enough to provide the code to download (upload?) his strip every day. And, so, I finally bit the bullet and did it.

And whaddaya know? It looks like it worked! Whether it will keep working--well, we'll find out shortly.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy Mr. Muir's sense of humor as much as I do!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Yep, this is snow. On Mt. Diablo. In the Bay Area. Hard to imagine that we had 70 deg. F weather just a few weeks ago.

The kids were a bit disappointed that the snow didn't stick to the ground where we live. But, after seeing pictures of the 30+-car, multiple fatality accident that happened in the wee hours of Saturday morning, I'm okay with it!

Me et Henri IV

When I was growing up, I rebelled against being part French. It had given me a last name that no one could spell or pronounce, got me in trouble with teachers who figured that since my family had kept the French pronunciation of our last name I must be able to speak French (this continued through college), and who, on the whole, seemed to be pretty snotty.

So, of course, DS#2's middle name is that same last name I fought with for 25 years.

Ligue Henri IV is a fraternal organization based in San Francisco. Originally, members were from the Berne Region of France (not too far from Lourdes), where Henri IV was from. They are sheepherders. Or, as my grandfather used to claim, French hillbillies.

Some of their descendants still bear traces of their peasant origins. We're built solid and low to the ground. The men have barrel chests; the women ample hips. Most are brunet with olive skin that does not burn easily. And for some reason, we have prominent noses, as can be seen in the picture of Henri above.

DS#2 got the nose as well as my name, although he is much taller than most of the men on my dad's side of the family.

Once a year, the Ligue hosts a banquet. Although my dad is gone, one brother is a member and my mother is the widow of a member. We sing The Star Spangled Banner and La Marseillaise. The pastor of Notre Dame des Victoires sings a French grace (I can manage the Sign of the Cross in French--that's about it!). The Counsel General says a few words about the friendship between the Americans and the French. The President of the Ligue makes a speech--lately, it's been in English, native French speakers becoming rather scarce.

But, really, my family goes because it's an excuse to leave the kids at home, dress up (it's a tuxedo and evening gown affair), eat, drink, talk, and dance. There is a nod to the traditional French culture, including a slide show that inspires me to visit this area--someday. (Sadly, my dad never made it back to the village his grandfather came from.) It's also one of the few events where the older women proudly wear their fur coats--and this past Saturday night, it was cold enough to justify wearing one!

But all is not stiffly formal. One of the most popular dances is "The Chicken Dance" where folks flap their arms and wiggle their hips and spin around in circles while the music plays faster and faster.

Perhaps if the French were to dance this in Paris, they would be able to laugh at themselves and resolve some of their issues.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

27 years ago today, Hubs and I married. After the wedding, I asked him how I looked as I walked down the aisle.

"I don't know," he confessed. "All I knew is that when you reached a certain point, I had to move to the altar."

We also discovered that we both were really nervous--until we said our vows. Once we had made our commitment to each other, we didn't have to worry about whether we were doing the right thing. The decision had been made; it was time to move on.

Our kids shake their heads at the two of us and wonder how we ever got together and why we put up with each other when it's absolutely obvious we drive each other crazy.

What can we say? It must be LOVE.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Movie Review: Dancing at Lughnasa

This is definitely a "chick flick" movie at The Warren: a lot of talking, not much action, no real resolution.

Five sisters live together near Donegal in 1930's Ireland, along with the young son of the youngest sister. Their brother, a missionary priest in Africa, comes home. He is very much changed, though the oldest sister, Kate, believes that with rest, food, and family, he'll soon be himself again.

In fact, it is a summer of change. A new knitting factory is opening that will replace the need for the gloves hand-knitted by two of the sisters. Kate, a local school teacher and the primary breadwinner, loses her job. The boy's father drives up on his motorcycle and tells the boy's mother, Chrissy, that he'll off to fight the fascists in Spain. Rosie, who is mentally challenged, is convinced that she is in love with Danny Bradley and he with her. However, Danny is currently married to someone else.

The five women bump against each other, irritating each other and supporting each other in the ways that only sisters can. And maybe that's why I enjoyed this movie so much: it reminded me, in lots of ways, of my relationship with my sisters. (If I ever need an honest opinion about myself, I ask them!)

And through it all is the boy, who is trying to sort out the mysteries of the adults in his world, whose actions don't always make sense to him.

The acting in this movie is superb. Meryl Streep, as Kate, is quite impressive and displays her talents for accents and character. Catherine McCormack, who played Murren in Braveheart, is Chrissy: sassy, sweet, vulnerable, tough. Michael Gambon plays the brother, Father Jack. And I realized that he is perfect in this role--just not my idea of Dumbledore. The rest of the cast is excellent; not a false note among them. And, of course, the cinematography is gorgeous. It is, after all, Ireland.

On the March Hare Scale: 4 out of 5 Golden tickets.

On the Waterfront

Linda Chavez, a columnist at Townhall, writes about a problem I alluded to in this post on the Dubai Ports World buyout of P&O's Terminal Operations. The problem is the International Longshoreman's Association (the ILA).

That the Mafia has close ties to the ILA is an "open secret" in the steamship business. Cargo "shortages" are not new. Containerization has curtailed much of it, but stuff still disappears. (Once an entire refrigerated container of frozen meat destined for the Mediterranean loaded on the ship in Savannah and disappeared after the ship arrived in New York. The empty container was eventually found on the dock.) Where the loyalties of the Mafia are is uncertain.

I have not studied the Mafia extensively and do not pretend to be an expert. However, from the little I have read about them, it appears that the Mafia's primary loyalty is to itself in general and to their Family in particular. There seems to be a certain quid pro quo expected in dealing with the Mafia. Forget that and you disappear. Or are publicly dead.

Would Mafia leaders sacrifice Americans for a price? Or does their concept of "Family" include the country of their birth? I can see where their honor would not allow any "outsiders" to harm the U.S., especially the cities where they live. On the other hand, there is money to be made. And if the Mafia leaders feel insulted or slighted, all bets are off.

But now that DPW has backed out of the port operations deal and "some American" company will take over, port security, port operations, and who's controlling the labor will fade into the background. No one wants to tackle this particular hydra. Frankly, I don't blame them.

I'm On the B Team!

Which just goes to show that

  1. Flattery does work.
  2. Their standards aren't terribly high. I mean, I didn't have to show them proof of my baptism or recite from the Baltimore Catechism or name the last six Popes or anything!
Seriously, I'm looking forward to hanging out with fellow bloggers, most of whom seem to share my slightly out-of-focus sense of humor.

Got Cookies?

What do 12-year-old Cadette Girl Scouts do during a Cookie Booth Sale on a rainy Sunday afternoon?



And this:

(3.50--the price of a box of cookies)

and this:


and, finally, this:

Besides playing with my new digital camera, the girls also managed to sell 105 boxes of cookies.

Not bad...

Your Values Profile


You value loyalty a fair amount.
You're loyal to your friends... to a point.
But if they cross you, you will reconsider your loyalties.
Staying true to others is important to you, but you also stay true to yourself.


You don't really value honesty.
You do value getting your way, no matter what.
And if a little lying is required to do that, no problem.
A few white lies never hurt anyone (at least, that's what you tell yourself!)


You value generosity a fair amount.
You are all about giving, as long as there's some give and take.
Supportive and kind, you don't mind helping out a friend in need.
But you know when you've given too much. You have no problem saying "no"!


You value humility highly.
You have the self-confidence to be happy with who you are.
And you don't need to seek praise to make yourself feel better.
You're very modest, and you're keep the drama factor low.


You value tolerance highly.
Not only do you enjoy the company of those very different from you...
You do all that you can to seek it out interesting and unique friends.
You think there are many truths in life, and you're open to many of them.

I was a bit surprised by the results, especially in Honesty. I've always thought I was a rather honest person. But I also don't want to hurt anyone's feelings--so I often follow the advice passed on to me by a friend that his father had passed on to him: "Never pass up an opportunity to keep your mouth shut."

Which, as you can see by this blog, I don't do quite so well, either!

(H/T: Julie D. at Happy Catholic)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Book Review: About A Boy

If this title rings a bell, it's because it was made into a movie a couple of years back with Hugh Grant in the role of Will. IMHO, it was one of Mr. Grant's better roles.

Marcus is 12. He and his mum have moved from Cambridge to London, where they are building new life--including a new school. And where the kids at his old school were tolerant of Marcus's peculiarities, the kids at his new school aren't. He's having a difficult time blending and his mother, Fiona, is no help. She is a hippie-type who loves Joni Mitchell and Bob Marley songs, who thinks that paying attention to fashion is a waste of time (people should love you for who you are inside, not for what you wear), and who is a vegetarian. Furthermore, Fiona is having relationship problems of her own.

Will is 36 and has perfected the art of living on the surface. He might not be happy, but he is, he thinks, "content." His father was a "One Hit Wonder," writing a Christmas song (Santa's Super Sleigh) that brings in enough money so that Will has never had to work.

Marcus upends Will's carefully constructed life. In return, Will shows Marcus how to blend in. Both are surprised by love: Will falls in love with Rachel and begins to understand why someone would want to open themselves up to the mess in life; Marcus with Ellie and begins to realize that sometimes toughness hides weakness.

Nick Hornby, the author, alternates between Marcus's point-of-view and Will's. But it is never jarring, even at the beginning before Marcus and Will meet. The story takes place over a couple of months and at the end, both Will and Marcus have grown up. The ending is not as "neat" as the ending of the movie, but just as satisfying. And we learn more about Will's relationship with his father and why Santa's Super Sleigh is both a blessing and a curse.

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 bookmarks.

In Honor of Mel

When I wrote the poem below, I was conciously imitating Mel's tone and something of her style. Her poems usually rhymed; mine don't. This is definitely a song parody, something that Mel appreciated, if she didn't often write herself.

This poem won a First Honorable Mention for Humor and I actually sang it (and even stayed on key!) when I shared it at an Open Reading. I mentioned I was thinking of Mel when I wrote it. Mel loved it!

(sung to the tune of “Home On The Range”)

“Adolescence is from ages 11 to 20”
--Dr. Doreen Jones

Oh give me a home
Where the hormones don’t roam,
Where the children all happily play.
Where never is heard
A sarcastic word
And the dishes are all put away.

Home, home is so strange!
Who are these people in my hall?
They trip on their feet,
They don’t smell so sweet,
And when did they get so tall?

There is homework to tend,
Dirty laundry without end,
And practices involving a ball.
The oldest one’s phone
Has only a tone—
You think that maybe he would call!

Home, home is so strange!
Whose voice is that answering the phone?
Red hair is now black,
The fridge’s been attacked.
What I’d give for five minutes alone!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

In Memoriam

On Friday, February 22, J. Mel Smith passed away. She was the treasurer of the Ina Coolbrith Circle at the time of her death. More importantly--to me, anyway--she was an outstanding poet.

Mel hated her given name: Jean (pronounced the French way: Zhon) Melville (a family name--she was related to Herman Melville). Her husband, who preceeded her in death, was a professor of history at Stanford University and at the University of California, Berkeley. His specialty was Japanese history and they lived for several years in Japan in the 1950's. She collected frog pins and loved hats.

Her poetry was dry and witty; her rhymes clever and often unexpected. Many of her poems dealt with every day life: love, motherhood, being a wife. She was generous with her praise and with her laughter.

Mel told me that she most enjoyed my "mommy" poems--the ones inspired by the antics of my children. She was working on a chapbook (a small, privately published book of poetry) that was going to feature her "domestic" poems. The book was going to have as a title the Japanese word for "Playing House" (Mama Deska? I wish I could remember...). And she was going to dedicate it to me.

I was--I am!--extremely flattered. But, unless the manuscript is going to be published posthumously, it will only be a memory that Mel shared with me.

There's more about her on the Ina Coolbrith Circle website.

Mel was one of those women of my mother's generation whose devotion to family and whose contribution to society is often overlooked or disregarded by modern feminists. After all, she was just a stay-at-home mom who followed her husband halfway around the world and back, who helped proofread his books and articles, who raised two children, who stuck by her husband through his descent into Alzheimer's, and who kept writing until the end.

I'll miss her.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Which Flower Are You?

You are a Rose:

You are creative, sensual, passionate, and bold.

You pour your heart into everything that you

do. Alluring and gifted with strong sex

appeal, you very easily draw people in with

your animal magnetism.

Symbolsim: The rose has always been a flower

heavily loaded with symbolism. In general it

symbolizes desire, passion, beauty, and


Which Flower are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

(H/T: ukok's place)

How Suburban Can You Get?

This Saturday just past was our parish school Auction. This is a Big Event that raises a significant amount of money for the school and helps keep the tuition at the-arm-and-a-leg level rather than at two-arms-and-a-leg. Hubs was working Security for the event, so I had to drive myself.

The theme was Roman Holiday, so I put on my basic long black dress, draped a piece of red satin across my body and (with DD#1's help) fastened it with a pin, put a make-up, hiked up my skirt and hopped into the minivan and drove myself to the event.

Other than dinner, we only spent $40.00 for a knife set (we were outbid at the Silent Auction) and $10.00 for drinks. During the Live Auction, we were slack-jawed with shock at how much people were bidding for the different items. I didn't even have a chance to think about bidding--the prices started at Wow and went to Are They Crazy??? in about a minute.

We sat with friends whose sons graduated last year with DS#2. Two of the couples still have a child left at the school--like us. One of the couples did win the new truck in the raffle--it was nice to see someone win who could really use it!

DD#1 used the knives last night. They are so sharp, she nearly cut herself. I've got to admit, it's knid of nice having a good set again!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Book Review: Plainsong

First a rant…

The author, Kent Haruf, does not use quote marks.  At all.  Ever.  Which makes it very difficult at times to figure out if someone is speaking or thinking.  Or if the same person is speaking.  

And this book is a National Book Award Finalist?  It wouldn’t have gotten past my 8th Grade teacher!  

Okay, now I feel better…

The book starts with this definition:  Plainsong—the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times; any simple and unadorned melody or air.

(I guess that’s why Mr. Haruf didn’t use quote marks.)

Plainsong is a “slice-of-life” novel, primarily about nine months in the life of six people who live in ranch country somewhere in the Midwest.  The chapter titles are simply the name of the character (or, in the case of Ike and Bobby and the McPherons, characters) whose viewpoint (or viewpoints) is presented.  Gradually, the characters and the threads of their story come together.

But the novel just ends.  Mr. Haruf makes no attempt to resolve any problems or issues.  In a way, the ending is much like real life:  if I stopped telling the story of my life today, there would be many loose ends.

Similarly, there is very little backstory.  When we first meet Guthrie’s wife—who is the mother of Ike and Bobby—she’s in bed in a dark room.  Later, she moves out, and then moves to Denver to live with her sister.  We are never told why she does this; she just does.  Mrs. Jones lives with her father, who suffers from dementia.  We are not told what has happened to Mr. Jones or why Mrs. Jones’ father is so worried that someone is stealing his money.  Mrs. Jones does tell some of the McPheron brothers’ history to one of the characters, but we are not told how Guthrie came to know them or why his help is expected.

There’s not much drama in this story, emotional or actual.  The characters wonder, but don’t seem to reflect much.  Actions which should have some kind of emotional resonance are simply presented with kind of a “take it or leave it” attitude.  The cover of the paperback copy I read is dominated by gray storm clouds and that’s the color I’d give to this story:  gray.  The characters seem to act real and true to their natures, but I never felt that I got to know more than their surface.  Which might have been Mr. Haruf’s point—but I’m not sure.

On the March Hare scale:  2 out 5 bookmarks.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A Marked Woman

I live in a very liberal, very secular part of the country. I work in one of the most liberal, most secular of cities. So why is it that when I go to Mass at one of the Downtown churches they're full?

Today was no different. I was a little bit late getting to noon Mass and was directed by a kindly usher to the basement because the Mass in the main church was full. The basement wasn't much better. I stood in the back, surrounded by my fellow Catholics. Some were dressed casually; others had designer suits. There were the older generation--white-haired, many immigrants. There were those my age. And there were the younger generation--20-somethings, 30-somethings, coming to Mass, receiving Ashes not because their parents made them, but because they wanted to. I am always surprised to see them, and always grateful that they are there.

This was not much different from those I've experienced over the years at other Downtown Churches. Indeed, some of these parishes depend on nearby employees to keep their budgets in the black. The Paulists even have special Services of the Word in local conference rooms to accommodate all who wish to observe Ash Wednesday.

As we left the church, our foreheads marked with the ashy cross, I thought how like viruses we were. Our numbers diluted as we spread out throughout The City, we bear our mark, identifying us not just as Christians but as Catholics Who Believe in a world that more often than not mocks our belief. We will smile as yet another person says, "Hey, your forehead is dirty!" We are making Our Statement.

One man stopped one of us, asking "Is the church nearby?" The man stopped turned and pointed back from where we had just come, "It's a block that way." A couple of blocks later, I was the only one who hadn't turned into an office building.

Perhaps tonight on the train there will be a few more marked like me. Perhaps someone will see my forehead and remember that, yes, today is Ash Wednesday, and there are services at Church. Perhaps they will go. Perhaps a faith will be rekindled. Perhaps a cruel memory will be revived. I don't know, will never know.

But for one day--for one half of one day--I wear my Faith on my forehead for all to see.

Senator Boxer Speaks!

From the website of The Washington Times (

"These port operators are intricately involved in port security," Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, told him. "I think this whole deal is fraught with danger, and I'm going to oppose" it.

Why is it that every time Senator Boxer (the “junior” Senator from California) opens her mouth, she sounds like an idiot?  Is she really that stupid or is she a victim of unfortunate quoting?

Dear Senator:

At this very moment, the Government of the People’s Republic of China controls port operations in the second largest terminal in the world.  In case you are unaware, this Government has nuclear weapons and has threatened to use them against the Republic of China, who was—last time I checked—our ally.  This terminal is in your own state.  And you had nothing to say against the deal.

BTW, citizens of the aforementioned country have died trying to escape, including loading themselves into shipping containers.  Most don’t survive the journey, due to starvation, dehydration, and lack of ventilation.  I also know of at least one instance where a citizen of the aforementioned country swam from his fishing boat and stowed away on another vessel.

Don’t you think this is dangerous?  Aren’t you worried about the PRC smuggling a nuclear weapon in?  Or terrorists?  No?  Then, why not?

Until you can adequately answer those questions, perhaps you should not make any public statements about the Dubai Ports World deal with P&O.  

A Constituent

Celebrating Ash Wednesday

This weekend I mentioned that Ash Wednesday was coming up.

“You’ll have to make spaghetti with meatless sauce,” I told DD#2.  (Wednesday is traditionally spaghetti night here.)

“Are we having cheese tortellini?” she asked.  “We always celebrate Ash Wednesday by having cheese tortellini!”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase celebrate Ash Wednesday before.  I don’t think of Lent as a time of celebration, although some family anniversaries and birthdays usually fall during Lent.  When I was growing up, Lent was a somber time, a time to reflect on the pending Crucifixion of Christ and His Resurrection.  Before beginning His public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days and nights in the desert, and then was tempted by the Devil.  Lent was our time in the desert, our chance to wrestle with our own small demons.

Celebrate Ash Wednesday?  Why?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that DD#2 was right.  We should celebrate Ash Wednesday.  For it is by the Crucifixion that we are saved.  We are about to witness the ultimate Act of Love, the fulfillment of the Covenant God made with His People, after the Flood and on top of Mt. Sinai.  

We have been Chosen.  We are Saved.

Isn’t that reason enough to celebrate?

Monday night, I bought cheese tortellini, just for today.