Sunday, September 29, 2002

Just an aside. We were watching the movie "Mission Impossible" this evening on TV, a movie I will always call "Fun with Masks". During one of the breaks a political ad for Mary Landrieu, up for re-election to the US Senate, came on. She carried on about how she was a family person like her constituents and always voted FOR Louisiana, and had two kids and a husband like other normal Americans, and how she was an experienced and all-around good girl to have as a representative, normal fare.

She ended her speech with the line (from memory, I can't find a transcript), "Louisianans can be sure that I take Louisiana values to the Senate."

"I don't think I would have said that on TV," said Lyman.

"What?," I asked. "Oh, you mean . . ."

He meant that the lawyers of our past governor, Edwin Edwards, are now considering appealing his prison sentence for racketeering charges to the US Supreme Court.

Ms. Landrieu has been active in politics in Louisiana for many years, as daughter of "Moon" Landrieu, mayor of New Orleans in the 1970's, as a state representative, state treasurer for eight years, gubernatorial candidate, and now, senator.

I know of no reason to question her particular honor, but she might have chosen better words.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

To be fair to Mr. Possum's readers I should provide an example of the interface between a pubescent daughter and a menopausal mother. I called daughter Erin in Dallas, and her older brother told me she was out on a date. I can only reach my sister by mailing to a post office box in northern Vermont. She moved there shortly after her release from the Sisters of Charity Rest and Rehabilitation Institute in 1999. I miss her still.

We have tentative plans to meet in New York City sometime next spring, but I refuse to go unless she stays on her meds and off the sauce.

Alex Del Castillo points to pictures of flooding in south Louisiana and Mississippi after tropical storm Isidore.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Our reporters on site in Gulf Shores tell us that the beach eroded badly everywhere. This afternoon, the road was flooded around Papa Rocco's, Waterville, etc. Condos in the West End were evacuated. Beach erosion was especially evident from the West End to the Convention Center. The canal is high. They mentioned no noticeable serious damage to businesses.

They met the reporter from the Weather Channel about a block from the Pink Pony Club and took his picture. Then they walked up and down the beach taking pictures of damage.

In other news, Lucy was not one whit happy about being restrained in a towel while strangers assaulted her with a Dremel tool. The vet trimmed her beak and toenails with the Dremel, then held her down while assistants clipped her flight feathers with scissors.

The vet said that she wasn't a mean bird, and did very well for her first visit. You couldn't have told that to Lucy, who was left panting. Two or three more ventures like this and her disposition might change.

She returned home to a quiet afternoon of R & R.

Alex Del Castillo, of New Orleans, is circulating e-mail with advice for all Louisianans during the hurricane season:

EVACUATION ROUTE: If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned out. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver's license; if it says "Louisiana,'' you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

(Via A Dog's Life)

Our home is about 180 miles north of New Orleans, and in this storm we have so far received only three inches of rain and little wind.

On the other hand, our renters in Gulf Shores, AL, are having what they call "an interesting experience". They were up all night. The storm was worst at about 3 am for our couple, which was when the waves starting eating away at the condo lot. It knocked out parts of the walkway to the beach and ate under the swimming pool about two feet. The pool has not collapsed so far. The trees and buildings appear to be fine.

Later this afternoon they will be driving out to take a look at what is happening around town.

In the meantime, it's time to get dressed and take Lucy, our avian companion, to her first vet appointment to have her flight feathers and toenails clipped. This might get a little rough.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I knew it wouldn't take long to find something like this (from the Portland Mercury News):

TO THE EDITOR: Driving down Burnside I saw my first Coors Light "Here's to Twins" advertising campaign. Since then about 20 of these fucking billboards have popped up, and I can't drive from one end of Portland to the other without being bombarded with that sexist, misogynist shit. In an era when we criticize the Taliban for forcing women to wear burqas, we're perfectly fucking happy to let corporations create advertising campaigns that make women sex objects. No one DEMANDS that women dress or act that way, we just call them frigid dykes with no sense of humor, womanhood, or social skills if they don't. Where are the U.S. forces now? Get in here and fucking LIBERATE ME.

Ms. Anonymous

Or how about this:

To: Coors Brewing Company

I am deeply offended and surprised by your Coors Light ads with scantily clothed women. What does that have to do with beer? Would a woman be attracted to a man only because he holds a Coors Light in his hand? Ridiculous. Your Coors Light billboard ad posted all over Portland, Oregon that says "Here's to twins" is horrendous. It depicts two silicone filled to overflowing blonde twins with tiny shirts, and breasts smashed together in a very un-sisterly way. I am apalled by the ad because "twins" is a play on the slang used for breasts, and what do breasts have to do with beer? I and many other women AND men are sick of seeing fake breasted, under-nourished, fake tanned, fake hair colored women being plastered all over media ads and sold to us as desirable. Again, what does any of this have to do with your beer? I would never buy your products or support you in any way, and I am publishing this letter on many websites to help get the word out. Wake up, good old boys. If integrity doesn't matter to you, then maybe a huge dent in your bottom line will get the message through. We don't want to see sexist and exploitative ads anymore. Where have you been? Have you not noticed this this is a new age and consumers are smarter and more aware and will not be influenced by your condescending ads? If anything, you will convince people to do exactly the opposite of what you had intended. Don't you realize the huge responsibility you have to young people not to propagate these age old and worn out images? Do you really want to alienate half of your market (females) and maybe even more (intelligent males)? I hope you will reply, and moreso, remove those offensive, tasteless, mindless ads. How about using a little creativity and not just putting the status quo on a billboard over and over again? Why not try to sell your product based on its merits and not some old sexist cliches?

Maybe it's age, maybe it's marriage, maybe it's easily accessible sex with a sexy guy (see "marriage"), but the Coors twins don't trip my PC trigger.

They're young, beautiful, healthy and cashing in. More power to'em.

EDIT: I do see that the letters are addressed to Coors, not the twins, but the money has to come from somewhere.

I will not be buying Coors Light, regardless of the campaign, because when I (rarely) drink beer, it is usually Grolsch. Those snap-cap bottles are perfect for vinegar-based pepper sauce. Pepper harvesting can be a pretty boozy process around here.

Last night we watched Monday Night Football and dined on Chef John Folse's recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Neither of us have been great fans of meatballs in the past, but when friend Glenda asked us to download this recipe for her we tried it and loved it.

Since we are only two, this recipe makes enough for four meals, with ample left over for light lunches.

UPDATE: Perhaps it's not correct to say "dined on the recipe". That would have been a little light, though still palatable with the addition of last year's home-canned tomatoes. Better "dined on Spahetti and Meatballs prepared according to the recipe by . . ." Now that sounds tedious . . . Oh, forget it.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Speaking of abayas, here is a resource for your every need. Check the customer comments. Here is one:

I received your goods today and just wanted to pass on my thanks - I am thrilled - all the garments, veils etc. more than live up to my expectations - thank you. Being able to obtain goods such as these, in this speedy way, makes hijab much easier - I can't sew and have no interest in learning!! I shall definitely be ordering more goods shortly.

Sometimes I think the blogosphere gets too caught up in thinking of Muslims as "other".

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Credit Steven Den Beste with alerting readers to this story about a Jordanian woman who, fed up with being harassed by three young men, took off her abaya and beat them to submission. Witnesses cheered.

So do I.

Friday, September 20, 2002

Colby Cosh, a young Canadian journalist in Edmonton, takes a place in my blogroll because he very patiently answered an odd query of mine regarding a Canadian band I had seen on PBS in 1999.

I had forgotten the name of the band La Bottine Souriante.

It's a 9-piece brassy band that does traditional music with a rollicking twist. Mr. Cosh wasn't familiar with the band himself, but offered additional search clues so that I spotted them within 15 minutes after I spent all last evening reducing my distance vision. Thank you, Mr. Cosh.

If you click on "cd" at the band site above, then scroll down to number 6 under the Cordial cd, you can sample the sort of music that intrigued me so much.

The power of the blogophere is incredible.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

From the Philadelphia Inquirer comes this story:

The folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have put a Chester County church on notice that its annual pig roast is unchristian and will be the subject of protest unless the church agrees to serve vegetarian food instead.

The roast is part of an annual country fair set for Saturday at Hibernia United Methodist Church in West Brandywine Township. It is an otherwise tame affair with craft tables, balloons, games for children, an antique car display... and more than one roast pig.

Note that region, West Brandywine Township in Pennsylvania.

When will they carry their pious protests to Mansura in Avoyelles Parish, LA? It is home of the Cochon de Lait Festival (that would be Suckling Pig Festival) each May.

I don't really recommend such action. Them people down there ain't too particular about what they eat, just so it's tasty.

Their response to being called "un-Christian" might also encourage PETA protesters to leave them alone.

UPDATE: The Philly link should be credited to Obscure Store.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Lyman's son visited from Dallas this weekend. Michael is a graduate of the Arts Institute of Dallas, a reportedly excellent DJ, and a master of audio software. He introduced us to the remix of an Elvis tune, A Little Less Conversation, that was used in a Nike commercial for the World Cup.

Here is an article about the song.

Here is a review.

Here is the mp3 file.

I can't wait for more, and I'm no Elvis fan.

Oh, my goodness. I just received fan mail!

Wal-mart also sells a battery-powered fan/light in the camping supply
section, about $14. A bit of comfort insurance for my invalid mother
(do they make a battery ceiling fan? Hmm), and as it worked out, we
had no more power failures this summer /after/ I bought one.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Abuse of bloggers

I am an abusive blogger reader. Here, where writers are expending precious resources to communicate sometimes difficult thoughts, baring controversial opinions, elucidating (for me) obscure points of history or speaking softly of love of family and children, I mine nuggets of throwaway information for purely selfish and mundane reasons.

Take for instance Megan McArdle's blog Live from the WTC. Ms. McArdle spends hours explaining the intricacies of economics viewed through the prism of her studies in the Chicago school of economics. She is widely known and appreciated for succinct thinking and writing on issues such as social security, welfare and markets.

What have I learned from her writings? From a throwaway log entry and a comment by Dan Hartung, I learned that Wal-mart sells a remote-controlled fan on a stand for $32.95. It can be controlled from up to 25 feet away. One now sits in my invalid Mother's room, so she has a little control over her environment.

So much for Milton Friedman.

Matt Welch is one of the most thoughtful journalists I have ever read. He is a thorough researcher. He might be partisan at heart, but he lets his research take him to sometimes surprising conclusions. He writes of many subjects, including Czech politics and UN sanctions in Iraq. From his many writings, I gleaned that California fish tacos are a treat. I cajoled and chided him until he gave me the framework for the recipe for fish tacos.

So much for Vaclav Havel.

Now we come to James Lileks, that provocative and amusing columnist, nostalgist, fierce American, loving husband, caretaker and teacher of famous, precocious Gnat. He is a writer so skilled that he can make near seamless transitions from watching his daughter eat to a dissertation on art theory to an indictment of terrorists in one easy blog lesson.

From Mr. Lileks I take refrigerator diagnostics. There is a leak from the refrigerator onto my kitchen floor. In Mr. Lileks' experience, a leak was caused by a blocked drain in the freezer-defrost mechanism. I checked our freezer, and, by darn, it's the same thing.

So much for exquisite and touching writing.

The manual for our Kenmore recommends removing the ice formed on the bottom of the freezer and around the drain, then forcing a solution of two cups of hot (not boiling) water and one teaspoon of baking soda down the drain with a meat baster. That's right, a meat baster. As Louisianans we use the Cajun injector more often than a meat baster, so the bulb on ours was cracked. No suction.

We had to buy a new meat baster to repair our refrigerator.

How ordinary, how bizarre.

So, thanks to all you hard-working writers out there. You're having an effect on our lives, though not what you intended.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

There has been a great brouhaha about women bloggers in the blogosphere of late.

By and for women interested in college football, I have linked Kristen Kwan's Block in the Back because I think it's just way too cool that a Harvard research associate in biochemistry is married to a woman who loves college football enough to blog about it.

And it's just too apt a name to pass up.

Geaux, Kristen.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Recovering from our whirlwind tour of home improvement facilities in Gulf Shores, I missed Mr. Greg Hlatky's (A Dog's Life) post on Sunday, September 8. Mr. Hlatky turned 46 that day.

I'm just behind you, sir, coming in February. Please don't fret so. It sets a bad example for your juniors.

I haven't talked about the September 11 attacks. Other writers have covered every aspect of every news story that has emerged from that day. I stand in full support of the war in Afghanistan, more tentatively in support of war in Iraq.

I grieve for the families and friends who lost loved ones that day, and all the days after, and those that will be lost in days to come.

Lord, have mercy upon us all.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

I do not like to shop. I especially do not like to shop for ceramic tile. Oh, it would be fine if I could start from scratch, beginning with the floor, like a good decorator. But to try to match existing colors in furniture and countertops and stuff can be a challenge.

For some reason, the trend in tile colors runs to pink. I have little use for pink. Pink is for cats' tongues and babies' ears, not the balcony floor.

I need grays and greens and blues -- cooling colors to match the surf, and, incidentally, the furniture and the kitchen countertop and the existing tile inside the condo.

Why not use the same tile as inside the condo, you ask? Because it has been discontinued. There are only 7 pieces left in the universe, and they are mine.

The procedure is: go to the store, pick up three or four or six tiles that are acceptable, take them to the condo, lay them on the balcony and watch them turn pink in the sunlight. Return those to the store, pick up four or five more and watch them do the same.

Carolina White? Nah, baby-doll pink.

The building color is not particularly pink, so why do the tiles deceive so?

Enough of that, the selected color is "Glacial Tundra", an 18-inch porcelain tile with shades of gray and green with too much hint of brown, but we've reached the stage where the perfect is the enemy of the good. It's bought and paid for and should be installed at the end of next week.

I hate shopping.

We arrived at the condo at about 12:15 am.

Lucy, the 1 year-old Solomon Island Eclectus, was good as gold the whole trip. She didn't scream or flutter or show fear throughout the tire repair fiasco. Tools and air guns, she took in stride. Staying up 4 hours past her bedtime didn't faze her much either. She was obedient and quiet during the whole stay.

She is terrified by seagulls, though.

We parked her playtree in front of the sliding glass door to the balcony. One night, someone on one of the lower balconies fed the gulls, which brought them swooping and calling outside our windows. Lucy leaped from her tree and took off at a dead run to a spot behind the couch to hide. I picked her up and put her on my shoulder, which usually calms her. When I sat down, she jumped from my shoulder and tried to burrow into the corner of the sofa. She has never been so frightened of anything. She didn't calm down until we put her in her cage for several minutes.

Little does she know that she has the voice to put them to flight. If she ever learns, we'll never be able to stay there again.

From Vidalia, LA, there are two convenient routes to the Redneck Riviera. Either way, there's a pretty drive through the Homochitto National Forest in Mississippi. Beyond the forest, you can take 98 east through Hattiesburg, MS, and drop down to Mobile, AL, or you can take Hwy 55 south to I-12 to I-10 and go east through Mobile. 98 is a country road with not much traffic and long stretches of nothing but farmland and forest. The other route takes you through Hammond, LA, down to Slidell outside of New Orleans, then along the Gulf Coast.

Either route takes about five and a half hours.

We started later than we wanted on Tuesday, about 2:30 in the afternoon, to arrive in Gulf Shores no later than 8:30 pm. Lyman decided to drive the interstate for variety's sake.

How prescient of him.

So, we're driving along I-10, coming upon Gulfport, MS, about 7:20 pm and the car begins to shudder.

"This road sure is rough," says Lyman. The car shudders more.

"Maybe it's not the road, " says Janis.The car is bouncing along and the Lucy is beginning to fluster.

"It's not the road," says Lyman.

We pull off at the next exit and drive into a truck stop with a large parking area.

I drive loop-the-loops around the lot and feel no shudder, Lyman can see nothing wrong from the ground. Lyman takes the car up the road and feels the shudder again. Yes, it's the tires and it's 7:30 pm in a small southern town on a Tuesday night. Happens to be a truck repair business in the very lot we are in. We ask if they can help, no, they're closing up, but there is a tire repair place at the next exit that's open until 8 pm. It's 7:40.

Back to I-10 with the emergency flashers at about 50 miles an hour.

We pull into Coastal Tires in Long Beach, MS, at about 7:55. There are customers ahead of us, but the tired, uncomfortable pregnant girl in the office assures us that we'll be served. In fact, the place is open until 9. We wait for about an hour. Lyman has the young man look at the two front tires. (All the tires are less than 30,000 miles old.) The young man, husband of the girl in the office, pronounces them shot and replaces them. It's after 9 now. We drive up the road a piece and the shudder is still with us. We turn around and go back to the shop, where our boy is trying to eat a little supper, and have him look at the rear tires. They're shot, too. The boy replaces them as well.

We pay up and Lyman says, "If this doesn't work, I'm coming back and have you change the spare."

The boy laughs and says "We'll do that, too."

At 9:40 we're back on the road to Mobile.

We didn't have to do the spare.

The moral of this story is rotate and balance your radials every 3,000 miles.

Monday, September 02, 2002

Off to 'Bama

With the parrot goes a travel cage, a small perch, a personal fan heater for her baths, a playtree, several kinds of food and her special toy that she sleeps beside in her big cage. Just like a human baby.

Lucy has traveled this route once before, and had no rest because she is curious to the point of nosy. For some reason, Mobile Bay is especially fascinating to her.

We will also carry luggage, household needs, a cooler (no Louisianan travels more than 50 miles without a cooler), and two good-sized boxed light fixtures. People criticize those of us who drive SUVs. Stuff that in your Accord.

This is a business trip, organizing renovations for November, and replenishing kitchen odds and ends for the couple who will rent a month from September to October.

Back this weekend. Y'all have a good week.