July 2008 Archives

Once More Into the Falls


Yeah, selling a house and moving takes a lot of time, but not so much time that if a friend flies into the area, you can't drop everything and head to a nearby natural wonder, particularly if it's something as awesome as Niagara Falls. Having already written about why I dig the falls, I'll simply post these awesome pictures of me and Saviour Onassis on our recent trip to them, without going through all that again.

What Every Beacon of Liberty Needs

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check out this cartoon by Ann Talnaes,

Size Matters, But So Does Cleanliness

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Yeah, the whole selling a house and moving thing takes time. First of all, there’s the time involved in getting it ready to sell: time to hire painters and get the hell out of the way when they arrive with their plastic drop sheets and big buckets of paint; time to find someone to replace the loose tiles in the shower-surround and speculate as to why the previous owner didn’t use a standard size for said bath-surround and to wonder where the hell you’ll find tiles in this odd size; time to PAINT THE BLEEDIN’ BASEMENT ALL BY YOURSELF, which is one of the worst jobs I’ve ever attempted and one that took me FOR FREAKIN’ EVER and almost made me decide to stay put. (Though I did really like the floor I ended up with: I hated letting the paint-and-chemical tainted water run down the drain after I cleaned brushes, so I splattered and dribbled the watery paint remnants on the basement floor and made this Jackson Pollock-esque design. It was cool.)

Then there was the time involved in showing it. I simply could not--I was constitutionally unable to--let complete strangers inspect my house unless it was unless it was absolutely as clean, tidy and pleasantly scented as I could make it. So every time there was a showing, I would scrub and vacuum and open windows and light candles and cut flowers and straighten pillows and furniture. I would get a little upset if people showed up early for an appointment and caught me still at home, A) because I was almost always still scrubbing away and B) the outfits in which I clean the litter box aren’t the most flattering in my closet.

The good news about being home when the realtor and potential buyers showed up is that I got to hear what they thought of the place. “You are an immaculate housekeeper,” one realtor told me, with genuine awe in her voice.

The Sign Outside My House


Recently a sign appeared outside my house. It looks like this:


Of course this sign was preceded by an earlier sign, one that said "For Sale." The fact that the first sign was up for a mere month before the "Sold" sign was posted made me REALLY happy.

The fact that there has been this signage outside my house helps explain, I hope, why I haven't been as prolific a blogger recently as I've at other times in my life--OK, I've posted a lot of entries, but they've been short. Because, you see, there's been painting going on. And regrouting. And selling furniture. And lots and lots of cleaning. And getting the hell out of the house so complete strangers can walk through it and look at my stuff.

But that is all over, and I'm moving--soon. Which means posting may be even more sporadic until I get where I'm going and get settled.

Wish me luck!

Ape Language

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A few weeks ago, I took Dinah to the vet. While we waited in the aptly named waiting room, I looked at a book on photos of cats, and couldn't help cooing out loud in pleasure over photos like this one or this one of Koko the Gorilla and her various kittens. I came home and googled Koko, and learned that she asked repeatedly for a kitten and, when she got it, named it "All Ball" because it curled up.

I went looking for info on ape language after that, and found this fascinating video, which I hope you will enjoy.

Verizon Stopped Working For Me


Tuesday afternoon we had an intense, dramatic, kickass thunderstorm. It pummeled my plants and knocked out electricity all over town--and, it seems, my phone service.

When I noticed the problem, I called the phone company from my cell phone, who said that the diagnostic tests they ran revealed that the line was fine, so it was probably a problem with my house, and I should unplug all my phones from the phone jack and the electricity, leave them unplugged for five minutes, and then plug them back in and see if they start working, which seemed like bullshit to me but I did it anyway.

That didn't help, so then they told me to test a plain old phone that I knew worked at the "gray box" outside. Turns out I don't have a gray box outside; I have a gray box inside my basement, and it took me forever to find it. But find it I did, and I plugged a regular old phone into the test jack, and heard nothing, which meant it was the phone company's problem, and they'd have to fix it.

Some Reflections on the Fifth

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I love my country and I'm glad she exists--for all the ways we've fucked up lately, I still think the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and all that business was pretty amazing and very important, solidly positive developments in the story of humanity. Which is one reason I'm happy to celebrate her birthday. I just get really annoyed at some of the ways OTHER PEOPLE celebrate that birthday.

I'm talking firecrackers. I HATE firecrackers. Fireworks--you know, the big light shows costing lots of money and staged by professionals--are great, though I've seen enough in my life that they don't really fill me with excitement, and they certainly don't arouse the wonder and awe I feel for my favorite light show, the Milky Way.

But firecrackers, the little containers of explosives whose purpose is to make noise and leave a nasty smell, I just can't stand, and I can't stand people who go out in the street and set them off at all hours of the night. I am glad that I spent most of my life in states where the damn things are illegal, and look forward to leaving the one I currently live in, where they are legal. Which, if you ask me, is one more reason Pennsylvania is just back-ass-wards, along with its bizarro liquor laws and the fact that it elected Rick Santorum as its senator.

Worth the Bother Green Beans


I'm not one of these people who loves to cook. I like it just fine, and I've reached a point where I'm able to please my own palate most of the time, which is good because the place where I currently live is something of a culinary wasteland. But for me, the real pleasure afforded by cooking occurs at the table after the fact, not at the stove while you're doing it.

I rarely cook something that requires a lot of planning or preparation. There are really only two situations in which I do: if I'm feeding guests, or if I am making huge batches of some elaborate meal or dish which I can then freeze in individual servings, so that later, I can just microwave it and have a meal ready. I don't want more than 20 minutes to elapse from the moment when I decide I'm hungry enough to make a meal, and the point at which I sit down to eat it. I also don't want to wash too many dishes afterwards.

By those standards, this recipe for green beans should be something I don't make--and truth be told, I rarely make it. It's not that it's hard; it just takes a lot of time to cut up all the beans, and it involves dirtying a lot of dishes. But it's so good that I go ahead and do it anyway from time to time.

I will say that these beans are really good left over and chilled--if you can make enough to have them left over. When I make them for guests, there are never any leftovers--and when I make them for myself, well, I still manage to eat a lot of them.

Believe Him, It's Torture

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Well, if Christopher Hitchens, who has been an ardent supporter of the Iraq war, can admit that waterboarding is not "extreme interrogation" but instead is "outright torture," the rest of us should find it easier to accept that, especially after watching this video of what he underwent, the controlled nature of his experience with the technique.

Sexism, Subtle and Overt

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I was going to post a recipe for green beans today, but my inbox was too full of links to depressing stories about sexism, so the beans will have to wait. (They're worth waiting for, and I really will post the recipe, I promise.)

First of all, the sort-of good news: a graduate student named Sezgin Cihangir cares enough about sexism to study it and its effects. His doctoral dissertation concludes that "Women suffer more as a result of subtle sexism than as a result of blatant gender discrimination. The subtle forms of discrimination affect one's self-image, which lowers performance. Victims can come to think that they have been justifiably rejected." The findings aren't good news, but the fact that he has documented this phenomenon IS good news.

Now on to the bad news: Katha Pollitt writes about the Backlack Spectacular against women and feminism that she is seeing in the US, citing evidence including the fact that Washington University has given Phyllis Schlafly an honorary degree, that the supreme court denied women the right to sue over unequal pay, and women's shelters are closing left and right for lack of funding.

Kira Cochrane writes about the backlash in the UK, citing the unbelievable statistic that "the rape conviction rate in Britain has plummeted from 33% in the 70s to just 5.7% today, and that the 14,000 rapes reported each year are thought to be the tip of the iceberg - Solicitor General, Vera Baird, suggested that only 10%-20% of all cases are brought to the attention of the authorities." She also writes that

In interviews earlier this year, Alan Sugar, Amstrad founder, Apprentice star and government business adviser, repeatedly challenged a law instituted more than three decades ago. This law was one of the big wins of the 1970s feminist movement, making it illegal for women to be asked at interview whether they plan to have children, on the grounds that it is clearly discriminatory: a chance for employers to weed out any woman who wants to combine a family with work. "You're not allowed to ask, so it's easy," said Sugar, "just don't employ them."

Yeah. I have to go iron someone else's shirt now.


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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