Friday, November 19, 2004

No Love for Gonzales 

Writer Robin Givhan, of the Washington Post, actually made me laugh out loud today. I had to tell my coworkers what I was laughing at.

I was laughing at this.

Monday, November 08, 2004

It's fall in Washington, DC 

Two weeks after the Marine Corps Marathon and the evidence is still evident all over town.

"Itchy feet?" Move to Florida, or Ohio 

A fellow-blogger gives sound advice for the those whose "love it or leave it" urges have appeared post election. Lily also has some first-rate perspectives on redefining morality in a way we can all deal with and correcting the left's bruised image.

Dangling Modifiers and Sour Grapes 

While the internet is full of conspiracy theories and theorists, I am going to go ahead and admit that my perspective is limited. I live in an area that went "blue," as expected. My friends, mostly geeks and freaks, tend either to lean left or to lean everywhich way- left (D), far-left (Green), and whatever direction Liberatarians lean. Despite what people think, (my brother-in-law included) we do not draw and quarter the Republicans.

I think that the fact that I expected a Kerry victory can be attributed to the fact that I am out of touch with middle-America. The middle of the country, so firmly in the red, must have a much different concept of what should be than I do.

It makes me sad really, because I really don't understand their reasons. I don't understand how stumbling and babbling gets translated into "plain-spoken." I don't understand how someone who has actually been in a war gets rated lower on foreign policy than someone who declares war, but hasn't been in one.

To be fair, I expected a narrow Kerry victory. I didn't think he would slide home or anything. I just thought he would eke it out. I also think the Democrats backed the wrong horse. Historically the American public favors Governors over Senators. There must be an inherent suspicion associated with those who have already been to the Hill.

I don't understand President Bush. What looks like strength to some just looks reckless to me.

I won't go off about stolen elections, polling problems, disenfranchisement, the promises of small government, the realities of my rent and my pocket book, or the picking and choosing amendments. I'll just say, I don't like being painted as amoral or unpatriotic for voting from the left. I love my country. I just want different things for it.

On the upshot, if AP keeps dangling modifiers for four years, at least we'll be entertained:
Assured of four more years in office, President Bush returns to the White House after four days pondering his second term at Camp David.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I'm somebody, who are you? 

I voted today.

It went well. The new voting machines are very simple, although mine was full of unnecessary directions. Things like
[Paraphrased]Please use caution when using scroll buttons, so you do not accidentally register an incorrect vote.
Now, to begin with, there were no scroll buttons to be found anywhere on my screen. I realize this feature is probably included so that if you have fifteen people running for county sheriff, they can all fit on one "page." When they aren't needed the scroll buttons simply disappear.

It's still a problem though, because the geniuses who set it up should have had the sense to design the page so that the button to submit you vote was nowhere at all near the scroll buttons, thus completely eliminating the possibility of Grandpa-Republican-War-Veteran accidentally voting for Ralph Nader and the Toke-all-You-Can party because Grandpa-Republican-War-Veteran-has-low-vision-and-Graves-disease-
but-still-thinks-stem-cell-research-is-wrong was simply too shaky to hit the right damn button to begin with and had no chance of finding the scroll buttons much less keeping his hand steady long enough to operate said scroll buttons and certainly would never ask for help because he is too proud to admit he can't see the ten-point type that the text about the scroll buttons is in anyway. *breath*

That being said, I don't think there will be too many problems this year, but I think the problems that come from the new system in the long-run will be new and scary. When I came out of my voter booth I dropped my hotel-key-like ballot into, no shit, a wicker basket that had to be either supplied by one of the volunteers, or it was simply already in the quaint little Middle-school library, and simply got used by eminent domain. A wicker basket... the mind reels. Just how long will it be until someone starts dropping refrigerator magnets into our sophisticated collection receptacles? Will they target the poor neighborhoods?

"Magnetic disenfranchisement." You heard it here folks.

Oh, and did I hear correctly that the votes will be sent by electronic transfer? Cause that's not a hacker's paradise or anything. Oh-my-God, Nader does have a chance!

Finally, and anticlimactically- I miss the booths. The new stations are essentially very large suitcases on stilts. They are designed to be carrels, so they are semi-private, but to be honest, I like the curtain. When I vote, I do not want anyone to see anything but the back of my legs. That is how it should be. No one to see you making faces at the screen, scratching or shaking your head, or swearing quietly to yourself for failing to operate the scroll buttons correctly. Nobody scrutinizing your face for some glimpse of how you voted. Standing shrouded, unable to see the foot-tapping strangers waiting for you to relinquish the station. Nearly total anonymity. I miss the curtain.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Jesus Christ 

No, seriously. Jesus Christ.

I saw Him yesterday- walking down Constitution Avenue. He looked nothing at all like any of the conventional images of Jesus. No white robe, no beard, no sandals. But he was dragging a very large cross.

Jesus was wearing a long-sleeved button-up shirt in tight royal-blue plaid with hints of yellow and green. It sounds awful, but it's not a bad shirt. He's also wearing blue jeans and white Nikes. He had short brown hair, tanned-but-not-dark skin, and a decent gate for a man dragging a cross.

He doesn't appear to be protesting anything. He's by himself, no entourage, no fans or fanfare, no signs, no explanations. Just a man with a very large cross resting on His left shoulder, as He walked eastbound down Constitution.

The cross is nice, as implements of crucifixion go. What I mean is, it's well constructed. It looks heavy, and it has nicely beveled edges. It's the kind of cross that might be part of a church display or sign. It has a metal plate over the joint that appears to be original, not a repair. It isn't heavily ornamented. The wood of the cross is a bright pecan color.

Speaking of Christ, who knew that this piece over at Killing the Buddha would make me dislike Bush less? Don't get me wrong, I'm voting for Kerry. I just find it nice to have an answer to, "What can he be thinking?"

Thursday, October 28, 2004

First Amendment? Huh? That's the One About the Guns, Right? 

... access to Bush's events has been unusually tightly controlled and people who do not support Bush's reelection have been removed.

Policing Is Aggressive at Bush Events
To Some, Protesters' Arrests Recall Vietnam War Era

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 28, 2004; Page A07

Lindsey Coy and members of the Cuba City High School band wait anxiously for Bush to arrive on Tuesday. Students were warned not to wear pro-Kerry buttons or make rude interventions.
Campaign Diary
Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Lucian Perkins are spending this week in Milwaukee, collecting images and impressions from the battleground state of Wisconsin.

So much for Freedom of Assembly, Free Speech, and Freedom of Expression
The ACLU may have some detractors, but in the end, they're even willing to stick up for those who have spoken out against them. That's how it should be.


"In the last Presidential election, 15 million women between 18 and 34 did not vote."

In 2000, 43.8% of U.S. Women did not vote.
In 1998, 57.6% of U.S. Women did not vote.
U.S. Census Voting and Registration

I was watching Iron Jawed Angels on HBO the other day, and it occurred to me... someone worked really hard to make sure I could vote. I don't just have the right, I have an obligation.

Some Interesting links:

Intense Efforts Underway to Mobilize Female Voters - Women's E-news

"Votes for Women" Suffrage Pictures 1850-1920

National Archives: Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan:
Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

League of Women Voters

Friday, October 22, 2004


In the past, I have gone into my polling place with no idea who or what was on the ballot. It's a terrible way to vote.

This year my local ballot has:


President of the United States
Passenger Pachyderms endorses John Kerry for President, in this- a not-even-vaguely swing-state.


I believe I am voting for Barbara Mikulksi, because I am unimpressed with Maria Allwine. Still researching. I know, I know, eleven days, get on it!

House of Representatives
I haven't exactly figured out my district yet. I think it's 7, where the Green party candidate has made a pathetic attempt at anything. Still working on it.

Justice of the Circuit Court
No idea.

And two ballot questions involving procedures for election and removal of county council members and commissioners.

If you live in Maryland, see what's on your ballot.

Vote Third Party! But not for President. Seriously people, let's work on walking before we try the marathon.

Relevant to Nothing 

In college I broke the covers off of the heating units in my friends dorm rooms. They asked me too.

Our rooms didn't have individual thermostat controls, so it was anybody's guess how much heat you were going to get in your room. Except if you broke the cover off of your unit, there was a control inside, in the form of a bolt that could be tightened or loosened to adjust the heat. So I broke everyone's heaters for them.

Why? Well, because I had tools. Not a lot of tools, just an average sized "handy-man" kind of tool-box with some wrenches, a hammer, a set of six screwdrivers, and some pliers. I also had a small socket-wrench set and a pair of wire-strippers, which Dad gave me when I asked for the screwdrivers. (He got me those, too. I never asked why the socket wrench set came with them. I still don't know, but hey, they've come in handy.)

At the time, I scoffed the idea of having a "woman's tool-kit." They sell them, you know. They are prepackage kits full of pink-handled tools in a pretty pink case. Now, for starters, I hate pink. (Don't give me that look, I like plenty of other girly-shit. I wear make-up, and the occaisional dress and such, I just have my own tools and don't like pink.) I didn't understand why tools couldn't be universal. A red-handled screw-driver suits me just as well as anyone else. Plus, my father had instilled in me an almost patriotic adminiration for all-things-Craftsman, so any tool manufactured by anyone else was clearly untrustworthy.

Craftsman doesn't make pink tools.

Only now do I understand... and I'm thinking about buying myself a nice pink tool kit.

Why? Because the advantage of a pink tool-kit is not that it is for women. The advantage is that men won't steal pink tools.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Mrs. Pachyderm, I pressume. 

I am...


I feel the same, but with more jewelry and new towels.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

God Bless America 

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said.

"They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
President George W. Bush

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

3:30 a.m. 

Statler woke up in the middle of the night and paced across the bedroom. He was hot. It was muggy. He flopped down on top of the air vent. Cool air conditioned bliss blew out. He rolled on his back and stretched.

Things began to go wrong. His neck was pinned to the floor. He pushed himself up on all four feet. His rabies tag still attached to the vent, he ripped the vent cover out of the floor. It hit him in the head. More panic! Now it was chasing him! He tried to shake his head but it butted into the computer desk. The vent cover caught the cords to a telephone and a small desk fan. They fell on him. He became tangled in the charger for a cordless phone, MORE PANIC! He fled the room still wearing the vent cover, and fell unceremoniously down the steps. The phone charger release its hold part of the way down the stairs.

He came to a rest under the dining room table, shaking and confused.

George leapt out of bed about the time that the dog was falling down the stairs. He didn't know anything except there was noise and panic. He went to investigate, adrenaline charged and prepared to beat the crap out of an intruder. As he ran into the hallway he flipped a light switch, the light went on. He thumped quickly down the stairs and flipped a light switch. The same light went back off. He swore. More switches, more light.

When I got downstairs George was laughing so hard he couldn't stand up straight. He almost couldn't see for the tears. Our Golden Retriever was laying on the floor in front of him- shaking, and still wearing the vent cover. George steadied the vent cover and removed the collar from the dog. As he pulled it away Statler gave the vent cover a half-hearted bite of contempt, complete with a little growl.

Statler recovered from his shock very quickly after that.

But George was still laughing when he got home from work the next day.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Silver Boxes 

Jon, of Blog One Another writes this post about an article called We Know More Than Our Pastors: Why Bloggers Are the Vanguard of the Participatory Church

The post made me think about the best sermon I ever heard. There aren't many sermons I remember with the clarity that I remember this one. I remember the Sodom and Gomorra Christmas sermon, but only that it was a Sodom and Gomorra Christmas sermon. I do not remember if it had a point. I remember a pastor hammering home a "Roadmap" analogy at a wedding to a point of ridiculousness. But in general I remember very few for their content, their writing, their meaning, and their message.

Silver boxes I do remember. I remember, in part, because the sermon was accompanied by a mnemonic. Each family, or single, in attendance that day received a small silver-wrapped box, with an equally tiny yellow gift-bow. Mine took up residence in my car, where it remained as a constant conversation piece. A reminder of a loftier goal to which I wish I was better at adhering. The box, close to five years later, has actually moved into a new vehicle, only slightly the worse for wear (the bow may need replacing).

While I see the value of a Quaker-like exchange of religious principles on-line, the e-church does lack a principal foundation possessed by a more concrete church, and that is community.

While an on-line community might give me an opportunity to explore my faith and open my mind, it would not give me an opportunity to help with repairs on a house, owned by the church, and occupied by a refugee family. It would not give me the opportunity to sing hymns on a peaceful morning in a green garden full of smilers and well-wishers. It would not grant me opportunities for $4 all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinners and the opportunity to see badly written plays badly performed by twelve-year-olds. It would not provide me with a list of toilette items needed for the local homeless shelter, with a convenient drop of time and location. It would not be the same.

The church where I heard the "Silver Boxes" sermon was St. Matthews UMC in Bowie, Maryland. I don't live in Bowie anymore, and I have not found a comfortable new "home church." The church where I heard the Sodom and Gomorra Christmas sermon was my late grandmother's church. The "roadmap" sermon was part of a wedding I attended at a Baptist church, and was a temporary lapse in an otherwise competent writer's skill.

The Passenger profile I promised 

The blouse is a sheer floral fabric. It raps tight around her middle, but is flows at the top and drapes on her arms. It is lined with a cream-color camisole, and the sleeves are translucent, showing her arms nicely. She's wearing very light tan capris that are a bit too long to qualify as capris. They look soft, like brushed cotton, and the fit her well. They aren't too tight, but are form-fitting. She's tiny. I would say 5' or slightly less and very thin. She looks Japanese to me. "To me" is a relative term. I am not always able to discern the differences in Asian and Pacific island ethnicities, but I believe her to be of Japanese descent. Her long, straight, black hair is gathered in a low, neat pony tail, held in by a pretty barrette of abstract design. It is brown and what looks like carved bone, but could very well be plastic. Her hair probably reaches the small of her back, but now is resting just above that because she has her head down, looking intently the floor and her feet, flip-flopping in nice leather tongs.

She is crying.

Her companion drapes his right arm around her, guiding her through the Metro Station and whispering softly to her. When he talks to her he bends his head in toward her ear, but keeps his eyes up and on the crowd, so that he can continue to navigate the pair through the station. He is compassion and all the strength she seems to be lacking right now.

He looks fine in his black suit, white shirt and subdued black and dark grey patterned tie. Shoes polished to shine and suit without even the slightest wrinkle, he is urban and stunning. His hair black and full. It is parted to one side, and cut neatly, short on the sides, long on the top. I would place his descent as Korean which I, of course, could also be wrong about. He's a good six inches taller but manages to not tower over her.

She pulls her head up, looking more collected for a brief moment. She exhales. She is okay. She inhales and cannot bear the weight of her breath, as she drops her head again. Her shoulders shake inaudibly. He draws her in closer and whispers some more. He places her in front of him and slides her onto the escalator, keeping one hand on her shoulder as they descend.

I go on in another direction, awed by the beauty of the couple, in this brief and insignificant moment.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Circle is Too Small 

You'll forgive me but... Holy Crap!

Maria Teresa Thierstein Simoes-Ferreira Heinz Kerry met her current husband at a sustainable environment event to which the first Bush sent her. Daddy is indirectly responsible for introducing Junior's competition to his wife. That's just beautiful, and somehow disturbing.

Information is from Guardian

(The Kerry's are kind of the Brady-Bunch, aren't they?)

Oh well, I guess an introduction isn't to much to ask from an, albeit distant, cousin.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The Reagan Funeral 

The crowds that formed to file past the Reagan casket, lying in State in the Capital Rotunda, were amazing. People standing in the heat, and then in the rain, for hours on end, waiting… I'd love to say they were waiting to pay their last respects, but some people were there to gawk.

I know it was hot. I know. But it was a funeral. If someone showed up a funeral for a member of my family in denim shorts and a t-shirt, I would not speak to them. Possibly for a long time. It would be tempted to throw them out on the spot.

If you're there to pay your respects, be respectful. Otherwise you're just there to gawk.

Some saw the event as a significant piece of history that they didn't want to miss, which might have been okay outside the Capital. It might have been okay on the Mall and at the misting station the city set up to keep people from falling out. It was not okay inside the Rotunda. Inside the Rotunda, Reagan was somebody's husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Inside it was a real funeral, and it's not okay to wear the Mickey Mouse T-shirt.

I know the heat was oppressive. But if you must wear shorts, is it too much to ask for a nice clean appearance? I'm not asking for suits and ties, but I know that it is possible to present dignity and sobriety for a situation in what can still be considered relative comfort.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Reading, Ratings, G.I. Joe, and Monte Cristo 

I moved up in the TLB ranking as soon as I stopped posting. What do you suppose that means?

Well, instead of dutifully writing my blog, I have for the last few weeks, been reading. I'm working, at last, on a long list of must reads that in all probability will take me four years to get through.

So far this summer I have read:

Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury- because I thought it timely
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Lady Chatterly's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence, which comes much closer to pornography than I would have expected. Nicely written, higher themed pornography, but porn nonetheless.

I also took a stab at Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, but I'm afraid I just couldn't get through it.

Right now I am working on Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. Not my genre, but we'll see how it goes.

I will probably add some more Dumas and Lawrence (take what you will from that) to the list, because I really enjoyed both. I'm glad I read Fahrenheit from a social perspective, but I won't be seeking any more Bradbury. It's a little too absurd for my taste, in an Edward Albee way.

The renewed interest in reading isn't really the cause for my absence from the blog. I just needed a little break really. I needed some time to build up some more things to write, though I have been sitting on my observations of the city during the Reagan funeral for a month now. I also have a few choice Passenger profiles, a throw-back to what I used to do with my blog.

The weeks have been filled with visits to and from family and friends, at first refreshing, and then exhausting. Wedding preparations are going nicely, but I've started to notice that September is creeping up fast. Beyond my normal melancholy for seeing the summer go, I begin to realize that my time for gathering the funds for said wedding is drawing to a close.

Oh, and it turns out, I'm GI Joe. I never played with GI Joe, but I do have a mint-in-box Bob Hope.
gi joe
You're GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip!! You're
strong, tough, and know how to kick some ass.
Don't forget though, no matter how manly you
think you are, you're still just a doll. God
Bless America.

What childhood toy from the 80s are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

In which I, once again, feel the need explain the concept of "misappropriation of funds." 

Your grandfather gives you a five dollar bill and says, "Here, have your Dad take you out for some ice-cream."

You, dutifully, go to Dad and say, "Dad, Grandpa gave me five bucks to get ice-cream. Can we go?"

Your father says, "You should put that in the bank."

You respond, "Well, Dad, I simply can't do that. This money was given with the expressed intent that it was for the purchase of ice-cream. If I don't plan on buying any ice-cream, now or in the future, then I'm obligated to return the gift to Grandpa. Re-appropriating the ice-cream money for another purpose would be illegal, no matter how well-intended."

And that my friends, is why the money for the new stadium can't be used to support education.

(Now, if Grandpa hands you the same five dollars with the instructions, "Put this in your pocket, don't tell your Grandmother," then it is a different matter entirely.)

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