Thursday, October 30, 2008

Overheard in Minneapolis

I was enjoying a quiet cuppa coffee the other day while grading a few papers when I overheard a woman say something to the effect of the following:

"I've never given to a candidate outside of my district before now!"

If you're from around here, there's no doubt what she was talking about.


Here's a tidbit from his Wikipedia page regarding the Bachman debacle (highlight mine):

On the evening of October 17, 2008, Tinklenberg's opponent, Bachmann, appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews. She said she was "very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views," and called for the news media to "do a penetrating expose" on "the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?" Her statements about liberalism and anti-American views were quickly spread around liberal blogs such as The Daily Kos, Democratic Underground and The Huffington Post and the mainstream media. Outrage at Bachmann's comments led to nearly $440,000 in donations to Tinklenberg's campaign in less than 24 hours and over $750,000 in 72 hours. In response, Tinklenberg wrote, "The last few hours have been nothing short of astounding. Since Congresswoman Michele Bachmann appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball earlier tonight, there’s been a deluge of support unlike anything we have seen." His total fundraising before the Bachmann appearance was approximately $1 million, under $720,000 of which was from individuals.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Vote No on Prop 8!

Check out Looky Daddy's nifty advertisements promoting gay marriage.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Tale of Two Brothers

So I have two brothers. Twins.

They couldn't be more different.

One is gay, gregarious, effusive, and a democrat. The other is straight, somewhat stoic, undemonstrative and, republican.

I have genuine appreciation for both of them, but of course, being that I lean to the left, well, I suppose I have a bit more in common with the aforementioned gay one.

The other day I caught the other one on the phone and we, tentatively, began talking politics. Usually this is a mistake, but I came prepared and careful.

Let's face it, if you have a modicum of intelligence, you can't support a Palin Vice Presidency, regardless of the role you played in Vietnam (he is a Vietnam vet) or your long history in the U.S. Navy (he's a retired Lt. Commander) or your extraordinary success as a small businessman. As you can see, he has an excellent republican voter's resume. So much so that I'm not sure which came first, the resume or the political stance.

That is all to say that he does have a modicum of intelligence and I have a healthy respect for POW's as well as for libertarianism (in theory), so we have some overlapping ground on which to base a conversation.

So after a few Palin-digs, he says to me something to the effect of being okay with Obama until he mentioned "redistributing the wealth".


Of all the over-used, misunderstood notions in American history. . .

I responded that ALL politicians redistribute wealth. It's just a matter of whether you get Peter to pay Paul or vice versa. And, of course, whether you, yourself are Peter or Paul.

I wish I had read this week's New Yorker article by Steve Coll prior to this conversation.

It talks about Obama's interaction with Joe the Plumber in which he said:

I do believe that for folks like me who've worked hard but frankly also been lucky, I don't mind paying just a little bit more than the waitress who I just met over there....She can barely make the rent....And I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.

"The principle that Obama evinced, which most economists would regard as unexceptionable, can be traced to Adam Smith. In 'The Wealth of Nations' (1776), his seminal treatise on capitalism, Smith wrote: The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor....The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess....It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.'"

Dear brother, let's focus on the real issues at hand. The real issues that might actually IMPROVE the economy for EVERYONE (not just saving a few bucks for just a few of us to use to buy more iPods, G1's, or kitchen makeovers -- I say that as we both are doing so--the kitchen makeover--and I am dreaming of the new G1, just to point out that I am not immune to greed).

Instead, and again quoting from The New Yorker:

". . . . [S]uch as what sort of economic stimulus plan to enact, and in what stages; which policies might keep the most families in their houses at the least cost; how to restructure market regulation to bring credit-default swaps and other derivatives under government oversight; and how to coordinate global reform of financial and trade imbalances."

Anatomy of a Costume in an Economic Downturn

So given the 25-to-30 percent fall in the value of my 403b, we're focusing on retrenchment at the moment.

Translation: No "CONSUME FOR YOUR COUNTRY," patriotism in the form of a consumeristic economic plan here at the BioMom/Blogauthor household.

I even passed on my dream of having professional lights installed on our big pine tree outside.

So we've decided to help pass this value on to the kids in the form of "old-school" Halloween costumes.

What follows:
Diaper box: $0.00 (except for the emotional cost that I endured when Eight exclaimed that she was "saving that box for something" despite the fact that she did not know it existed 10 minutes prior to that moment).
Paints: $4.00 (with lots leftover for more easy-to-clean-up fun!)
Twine: $0.00 (found in the garage)
My time (opportunity cost): grading papers = -$500.00 (you did me a favor, Big, and saved my brain from going to mush!)
Being able to pretend you're a car, drive around and crash into things? Priceless.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Introducing Patek Palin!

Many of you inquired about the new dog popping up on the blog. He is FRM#1's new pet French Bulldog (here seen imitating Palin's Newsweek macro shot).

When she first sent pictures of him, I thought "WTF?" But when you meet him, well, let's say he had me at "SNORT!"

Nothing But Sincerity as Far as the Eye Can See

No Great Pumpkin there. We've got to move on to a new patch, in preparation for our annual neighborhood pumpkin-carving party. This year's theme: Carve For Obama! All blog readers are welcome, BYOP!

This patch clearly imported all of their stock.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Showdown at 34 Months

Big is 34 months today. For those of you not good with math, let's just call it three, although I think Big'd be furious that he missed his birthday cake and presents, but that's a different story.

He is soft and lovable, funny and diligent, stubborn and wild. When you ask him about his day, he invariably says "We went to the Dells" referring to a trip we took in August for the grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. He enjoys wearing "tony pails" in his hair, and wants a pink bike for his birthday.

And we had a HUGE showdown the other night.

I have a feeling that he and I will have to bump antlers once in a while just to release some tension.

Anyway, I've shifted my cooking toward the vegetarian as he still refuses meat and I'm sick of him eating only cheese, cottage cheese, fruit, beans and yogurt.

After a couple of especially made vegetarian meals with him simply refusing to eat,we got the book about dinosaurs and what they eat, and have spent some time on the page that shows the dino trying little bites of everything.

And then I made some delicious potato soup.

Still no eating.

Because I felt insulted* I decided that potato-night was the night that he had to be like the Stegosaurus and taste a tiny bit of his food. The potato soup.

We don't force our kids to do much. In fact, I have a deep belief that you really can't force your kids to do anything (try forcing your eight year old to NEVER have an accident or to not put too much sour cream on her burrito when you're not looking or etc. etc. etc. ). In true Alfie Kohn style, we try to get the preferred behavior to come from within them, so to speak.

So I'm not exactly sure where this came from other than that I was just SURE he'd love the soup if he just put a bit in his mouth!

Who wouldn't? It was just creamy, cheesy potato-y goodness!

Oh and salt. Salty goodness too.

I'm getting hungry even as I write this.

But no. He dug in his heels.

And I dug in mine.**

I resorted to positive reinforcement, tantalizing him with exquisite rewards: a family bike ride in the gloaming after dinner?


A back rub?


A bubble bath?

FINE: A banana split with whip cream and a cherry on top? All for one stinking lousy bite!!!???!!!

He would not eat it on a boat, with a fox or in the rain. He would not try that 'tato soup, oh what a PAIN!

Nothing. No, not nothing. I take that back. A bite in, and immediately out, squirting all over his face, shirt, table and floor.***

I resorted to the threat: No bike ride. . . . . An early bed time.


Finally, FINALLY, as I'm carrying him up the stairs to bed**** he relents, rushes back to the table, takes a bite and it's over. Sweet relief, we all hug and its off to the bike as though nothing had transpired between us at all.

I'll let you know how the Eggplant Parmesan goes.

*Note to self: this is never a good place from which to start disciplining your child.

**Second note to self: heel-digging is not the precursor to a good parenting moment. At least not post-1953.

***Thanks to Jane Yolen for giving him the idea with that ridiculous dinosaur and his half-chewed broccoli!

****Last and final note to self, carrying a child against his will is DEFINITELY NOT in the Alfie Kohn repertoire.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gender, Revisited and Reversed

In our house, we're all smitten with Amy Poehler (SNL comedian said to be the Carol Burnett of our time).

No, the kid's aren't watching SNL, they (and I) are huge fans of The Mighty B!

I bring this up because this is (almost literally) the only television that Big watches that has commercials. And we TiVo through most of them.

He'll be turning three in December and with limited commercial exposure, he's already got a grasp of gender.

While watching Bessy Higgenbottom as The Mighty B, he'll see commercials for what he immediately identifies as boy's toys and girl's toys. "WE NEED THAT!" He'll yell at the energetic commercials for the "shake up" cars and "THAT'S FOR GIRLS!" at commercials for those little pet-shop toys while I gently remind him that he could play with those too if he wants.

Interestingly, he'll choose a pink bike whenever available, and gladly walk around in Eight's old dress-up shoes with little heels, so apparently we've confined the roles to the television.

For him, that is.

This past weekend we went to our church's family camp (don't ask).

BioMom was telling us all about it on the way, how we'd be staying in a cabin with a few other families (!), one of whom had an eight year old girl and a four year old boy (the age of the girl turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration, she was six).

After contemplating in silence in the back seat for a while, Eight says:

I hope she likes me.

This kind of gender expression drives me nuts and I said so. I've always wondered if girls and boys tend to be different along these lines, with boys/men moving through the world wondering what interests them and letting their own preferences guide them. Girls, on the other hand, moving through the world wondering how the world is responding to them, and how to change/adapt/morph to that response.

I suspect I turn into an adult on the Peanuts shows for Eight when I launch into my feminist/parent-of-a-girl mantra.

Mwha wah, mwaa waah wah wa.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pre-Monthly Newsletter and Catchup on the Daily Tidbits

Big will be turning 34 months next week.

I thought I'd get a headstart on the post as I've neglected not only the monthly newsletters, but also the daily tidbits for quite a while. Big has changed so much, and so has my life, that it's hard to get my head around it at times.

Just the other night, some friends from ECFE came over who met Big when he was just 13 months (as an aside, they're moving back to DC to their delight and our loss). Anyway, one of the mom's noted that Big wasn't as 'wild' as he had been the last few times we'd gotten together.

Since this summer and his attainment of the ability to get out of bed at will, we've been struggling with some sleeping issues with him. He wouldn't go to bed, he'd get up in the middle of the night, etc. The other night I heard him get out of bed and wander down the stairs saying, in a low voice "hi." at regular intervals.

BioMom had this great idea to get him a real "big" bed in his room, rather than the toddler bed we borrowed from Cousin.

It worked. The first night he sacked out, spread comfortably, from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.


Of course, both he and I have had a transition back to work.

For the most part, as I previously discussed, this has been good for both of us. But in the middle of it, my department had a bit of drama over whether or not to vote to make permanent my part-time schedule. I thought this was going to be a no-brainer, but it turned out to be far from it. Eventually, I hope to write an anonymous article to the Chronicle of Higher Education about it all, but suffice it to say that many people, not least of which myself, are paying dearly for the vote that did, in fact, make it permanent (a 4 to 2 vote). I'll say more later, and maybe post my anonymous letter here for all of you academics out there interested in such mundane politics. Let's just say that I don't expect to ever be promoted again. Alas.

So that's what's held up the posts as of late.

I'm hoping to get more time and creativity in my life now.

Another Barack in La Crosse Pix

I'm the one right behind the teleprompter.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Metaphor for My Life

After waiting for four hours and then carefully choosing what I thought was a great place to stand, only about 100 feet from the podium. . . They put up his teleprompter.


Still though, his voice was completely inspiring.