Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Could this be satan’s footprint?

On the state road I drive to and from work, one house has displayed a 4ft diameter peace symbol, outlined in white lights, since about 2001. It is not a holiday season decoration; it is up all year round, and always switched on by nightfall. Farther east on that road, also on my commute, is a white sound-proofing fence on which the homeowners have painted a bright blue peace symbol. I don’t know how long that has been there. Longer than I have been driving that road.

I like seeing them on my daily route, like little prayers for our best efforts to get through another Worldly day. Like… “wishing you peace.” “Hope today is peaceful.” “Dude. Peace, right..?”

When you live in a part of the world where you will not likely be raided by bordering warlords and left to die on the savannah, you may not think of having someone send you such a wish – “Peace,” as equal to, “make it home alive,” --until you make yourself read it that way.

So I was flummoxed by the story of the Colorado woman who upset the neighborhood equilibrium by displaying a peace wreath on her front door. Have you seen it? It’s about the size of a ottoman (the footstool, not the muslim. Don’t get distracted by theological puns). What would this neighborhood association have done with my neighbors?

I am thankful to my Quakerish friend for providing some of the research here. We do not share a general theology, but both of our ancestors were thrown out of Massachusetts, so I think this helps maintain our open exchange of spiritual ideas. With her help, I bring you the “more” you have wanted to know about this story.

The rule she broke was about displaying “divisive” flags or signs.
Most likely meant to read “Pride” and “Vote Democrat,” respectively, in the county where Bush/Cheney took over 60% of the vote.

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Lk 12:51) snap.

Reputed peacenik Lisa Jensen was formerly president of the home owners’ association’s 3 member board.
Don’t you already sense there is more to this story than we will ever know? And that it involves the kind of property-line, dog-poop, loud stereo, easement abuse skirmishes of your own neighborhood?

Notice that Lisa is listed as the homeowner in most stories and yet Bill Trimarco lives there too. A clue?
One theory: they took the 2nd place white wine ribbon in last year’s Archuleta County Fair Beer/Wine/Spirits competition (it takes an Internet to raise a ruckus) and I think we’ll find some bad blood there.
Or is it their unAmerican practice of Aikido?

“If you let one go up, you have to let them all go up.”
One of many comments of the currently serving board president, Bob Kearns. This argument was less successful at removing the confederate battle flag from the South Carolina state house.

“It’s an anti-christ sign.”
Prince of Peace.
Peace that passeth understand.
Peace be with you.
The peace I leave with you. That Christ, you mean?

Here’s a whole lot on that topic.

Here is another history that identifies Bertrand Russell as the initiator of the contemporary symbol, such as that on Lisa Jensen’s house. Bertrand Russell, of course, also wrote Why I am Not a Christian, which might be what has people confused. Or just Bob.

While we’re listing non-christian symbols, let’s add
Christmas trees

How does this neighborhood get through Halloween?

“Some people might have kids in Iraq…”
When I support the troops – should I pray for peace, or continued roadside bombing?
I’m only the daughter of a veteran. Perhaps their parents feel differently.

“Some people complained.”
Apparently, there is no proof of this. According to the Architectural Control Committee, there had been no complaints except from the Board Chair. The entire committee was fired by the board chair.

The Board has since backed down.
The Board has 3 members, 2 of whom would not comment during this story. I think they got to Bob with a sock full of pennies.

Oh, my, now that ain’t christian…

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dispatch from the Front

Product Marketing is apparently harder than you think.
"...designed with children in mind..." my ass.

The Baronness sends this photo from a recent conference.
These people should send me a cease and desist any minute now.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ned Nickerson, Emersonian

Nancy nodded. "You know that my friend Ned Nickerson attends Emerson College. The safari has been organized by some of the professors. Boys who are majoring in botany, zoology, and geology are making the trip. They're being allowed to ask friends to go at the students' rate. Bess and George and i have signed up. Burt and Dave, their dates, will be along too."

How did I live so long and not know that Ned was an Emerson man? Ok, not that Emerson. As evidenced by the majors in botany, zoology, and geology. Or that Ned is a football star. Or named Ned.

Through my current immersion in Nancy (see reading list sidebar) I have have come to enjoy her "chums," as they were once called back when she drove a roadster and wore a cloche.
These poor unsung Pips of youth literature, always dragging around stupidly after our heroine, while marvelling at the exotic wonders of the world, like Indian elephant trainers and opera singers. Nancy, who spoke French and reasoned on her feet ("Somebody must have put acid on the handle of my suitcase! It's eating into our hands!") tolerated them for reasons that were never clear. I think because they provided easy exposition.

"When you're with Nancy, interesting things always seem to happen," George frequently declared. Every heroine needs a lady-in-waiting. God bless you, George. Marcie. Midge. all the Heathers... George does all the hard work, like rowing the boat and carrying the suitcases, whenever Ned isn't around. Which is most of the time.

George's unnecessary cousin. Her purpose seems to be to be "cute," only she isn't cute, and "Carolyn Keene" (you have to read Girl Sleuth to learn more about "her") seems to put her there just to call her fat. Bess opened her handbag and brought out a box of crackers and a candy bar.
She plays the role Ice T does on "Law and Order," which is to talk a while so Mariska Hargitay can catch her breath. George would totally be hot for Mariska.

I wanted to find proof that Nancy ever refers to him as her "boyfriend." I couldn't, but there are more than 50 titles. Besides being some sort of science/football all-around Emersonian, he is also a fraternity man, who meets Nancy in book 7 just in time for the big dance.
When he goes missing in #45, at the hands of a villain called Swahili Joe (oh my), Nancy enlists the chums to his rescue just as his dark wavy hair is becoming disheveled. Fetch the pomade!
He neglects to thank her for untying him, or Bess for the crackers. Ingrate.
See if I buy anything from him at The Wall.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Can't talk now -- renouncing satan...

Miss Bender will be out of the office for the next week, as she is off to meet her goddaughter.

We have discussed before my tendency to stumble into other people's religious ceremonies (here, here, and here). In this case I will be speaking for an infant I will have just met (future perfect - that is soo hot) , so I hope she's ok with it. When you are only a month old, and haven't really met a lot of people, you might want to withhold judgement on some, but I know her parents, so I will do them this thing.

I will try to leave you with some distractions in my absence. So many things to link.
You should occasionally check out the links to the left; they are frequently updated to keep you interested, and there is a lot of new material on the blogroll.

Also, enjoy a few places I like to play between fresh material. Pace yourself. See you on the other side of the week.

Urban Legends reference pages - good for keeping up with which celebrity is currently reputed to have said "Get on the floor Lady" in an elevator.

The Etiquetteer - extracurricular to the Business Women's Finishing School

PostSecret - the purest thing on the Internet. I hope it never turns out to be fake

Librivox - free audio books. There is more in the public domain than you thought. And you can literally read The Riot Act.

Ok enough linking. I think you must have a deadline or something to get to.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Acceptable spellings until the steno pool catches up

Live steno-captioning is much more difficult than you think, and after the midterm elections there is bound to be some lag. Here are the new spellings I learned at the bar the other night.

Oh Peck: How much gas you can buy for a dollar. (Oy! Ill!)

Con ceed: to give up. (Con carne... with meat)

Win es: people who win. In New England.

Caswulltees: What happens when we're hunting Iwackees. heh-heh-heh

Pee lowsee: The Speaker's name. Until we upgrade.

Speaking of the Speaker, enjoy this SNL opening, while the link lasts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Merck is trying to scare you


At least 3 times a week in the local paper (and perhaps every day, but these are the days I read it) there is a full page ad trying to convince me I have shingles. Or I would have shingles... if I were just more cutting edge.

Herpes Zoster is our friend chicken pox all grown up. (Herpes Zoroastra is chickenpox that serves the Seven Bounteous Creations, but that's not important right now.) And Merck would like you take Zostavax for it. They would also like some help coming up with more creative names for medications, since "pox-B-gone" and "shinglex" were already spoken for.

So let's play... scare vs. care.

Merck: 90% of adults are at risk for shingles.
Fact: true, but according to this logic -
People who have had chicken pox are at risk for shingles.
90% of US adults have had chicken pox.

You are also at risk for a rhinovirus. 61 million of us will get one this year; only 1 million will get
shingles. 60% of them will be in their 80s.

Merck: "You should know that there is no way to predict who will get shingles, or when."
My God, it's like Communism!

Don't make fun - isn't it serious?
When you are 80, everything is serious. Shingles can also be life-threatening if you are immune-deficient. So is the rhinovirus. And a plate of eggs.

It hurts, though. I've heard that.
You have heard that from Merck: "The shingles rash can be painful"
NIH: "For most healthy people, the lesions heal, the pain subsides within 3 to 5 weeks, and the blisters leave no scars." Chickenpox wouldn't have either, if you had left it alone.

So what does the vaccine do?
Key point about vaccines - you have to get them before you have the condition. Otherwise, it does nothing. And since shingles reputedly comes like a thief in the night, you are thinking you'd better get it NOW.

What you want to do is measure your odds against getting shingles (3 in 1000 in the 40 age group; 10 in 1000 over 80) against your odds of getting vaccine side effects
33.7% redness
33.4% pain
25% swelling
painful skin rash

painful skin rash

I like this section:
"Zostavax is used to prevent herpes zoster virus (shingles) in people age 60 and older...Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. " He would like to write a paper about you.

Moreover, the people most at risk for a life-threatening case of shingles (or, as your Aunt Betty is determined to call it, "THE shingles") can't actually take the vaccine:
Do not receive this vaccine if you have:
leukemia, lymphoma, or other cancer affecting bone marrow;
HIV or AIDS, or an infection related to either condition;
active untreated tuberculosis;
or if you are receiving medicines that weaken your immune system, such as steroids or cancer treatments.

"There may be other drugs that can affect Zostavax."
Old people don't take a lot of those, do they?

And.... and... it is not covered by Medicare.
"In the absence of injury or direct exposure, preventive immunization (vaccination or inoculation) against such diseases as smallpox, polio, diphtheria, etc., is not covered."

$150 bucks for the one time shot. Or, get to your doctor within 72 hours of attack for anitviral medications.
Call it a gamble.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Things to love and miss about Ed Bradley

That voice
What is that accent? Broadcast speech by way of Philadelphia. All the 60 Minutes guys have such distinct voices, like old radio men. They also have...

Vietnam cred
Click here and play "Oh God! They're Going to Cut My Arm Off" You'll need sound.

Journalist and Jazzman

It takes some finesse to diversify the 60 Minutes magazine without being the guy who interviews all the Black people.

That earring.
Here is a man not of the generation of men who got pierced, unapologetically sporting his earring while confronting the corporate bigwigs about where they hid the money. One source says that Liza (with the proverbial Z) gave him his first stud. This deflates the story somewhat -- I would rather know that he got it in the Navy when crossing the equator -- but then he would not be the first man I fell for who was inspired by Liza.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Fireside Chat

What really happened:
Deval Patrick left a message on my answering machine, first acknowledging that automated campaign messages are annoying, then encouraging me to vote, and for him if I could. And I probably will.

What I imagined happened:
Half an hour later, the phone rings and it is Grace Ross -- not a recording of Grace Ross, but actually her.

"Good Evening, this is Grace Ross, candidate for Governor."

I pause from stirring the bechamel sauce -- because in my imagination I am cooking a proper dinner instead of eating Cape Cod Cheddar/Jalapeno chips -- take a sip of wine (really, beer), shrug, and say, "Well hello, Miss Ross. This is a surprise."

"Is this Caroline Bender?"

"Let's keep things formal," I say, because I've had a little wine. And it's my fantasy, so we'll do things my way.

"Of course, Miss Bender. Is this a good time to talk?" She doesn't wait for reply. "Our records show you're on the fence."

"It's true. Can you help me out with that?"
"Is it because you can't imagine 2 women in the State House?" she asks.
"Your records are lacking some key information," I say.
"Not because I'm gay?" a pause. "Or my running mate is disabled?"
I sit on the kitchen stool, all Dick Cavett-like. "I really don't worry about that," I say.
"What's holding you back??"

I get what the Green party is, and in spite of the slang meaning of rainbow party, I suppose its political meaning is also obvious. And the "Wildly Left of Most of America" Party is probably too on the nose. But wouldn't it be something if they could make it happen: fully funded education, universal healthcare, protected wetlands, reduced sprawl, not to mention a governor who wrote position papers that don't try to be all things for all people.

I tell Miss Ross that I worry that the legislature won't respect her, that the crony-ism of Massachusetts politics will keep her administration spinning in paperwork for the next four years. I tell her that I trust her activist leadership, but that I think she is better placed in the legislative branch, not the executive.

I am not sure where Deval Patrick is best placed. I don't know that one's first public office should be the Massachusetts state house. I am still looking for the proof that he has any idea how to go about, for example, "stimulating investment in and relocation to Massachusetts." No doubt he will be lead by the senate as well, but toward a place (one hopes) they both want to go.

Christy Mihos should just stay as he is - local entrepreneur annoyed that he is the last native-bawn Bay Stater in politics. I am not sure how long 2 45 year-old Harvard graduates have to be considered "outsiders," but apparently until they learn to say "jimmies." Christy should be happy 2 Harvard graduates decided to stay. But that almost sounded like something nice about Kerry Healy.

Grace is a sensible woman. As we hang up, she tells me she just wanted the ideas raised, and to be taken seriously, and to represent the working people, and I thank her for that. She asks if I have her vote, and I say I don't know.

At 7:12am, I don't know. I have no problem with the symbolic vote, especially in a state where another Deocratic vote carries little weight. I haven't voted for Kennedy in years. I don't vote against him; I just don't vote for him. I resent that he takes my vote for granted. And I voted Green in the last governor's race because Democrat Shannon O'Brien showed her true colors in the end, and that wacky gun-totin' Libertarian candidate whose name I can't even remember gave me the full-on heebie-jeebies. And there are those who say Mitt Romney won the day because I didn't vote Democrat. I say Mitt Romney won the day because Republicans actually vote.

Get out there. And be glad you are not in danger of being inked or shot.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Makin' Pies

This is the kind of entry that interests me a great deal, and you maybe none at all. But I don't charge you to this read this, and there are no intersitials, so skip it if you want.

Earlier I criticized the Union Products website as being inferior, and was going to make a point about other locally-owned industries of common household items (I myself have never bought), to prove that you don't have to be Nabisco to have a fancy-pants website.

"America's favorite pie." Really?
Then again, this is America's favorite sport, so I shouldn't be so skeptical.

18 flavors of 4 inch pie.
"A leader in the 4” baked pie category..."
Is Table Talk in fact America's FAVORITE?

Ladies and Gentlemen.... Pie Statistics.
You don't have to click that just yet; I'll do that for you. (Suburbia says this is my gift to society and that I should hire myself out to read legal documents and summarize them)

Table Talk is, in fact, the #4 best seller, according to the 2005 Census of Manufactures -- 5.6M in dollar sales that year -- hugely ahead of Krispy Kreme, which is not even Top 10.
Table Talk is a "snack pie," like Hostess and Entemanns and Little Debbie. The census distinguishes between snack, fresh, and frozen.

This would seem to challenge the claim of favorite, so I next visited The American Pie Council - "The country’s only organization dedicated to preserving America’s pie heritage and promoting America’s love for pie, year-round."
(italics mine. Is there is some organization doing it only part of the year? We must find them and rub them out)

topics from this year's Pie Council Seminar:
Sales in Today's Industry
What the Market Wants Today
Nutrition in Pies
Pie As a Marketing Idea
Ingredients for Today's Pies
Pacakaging Innovations
Shelf Stable Pies
Oh my, what are the unstable pies? Mmmm...neon and cinnamon...

Don't underestimate the power of the pie publicist, who can get 2 full morning zoo minutes of pie talk. I once knew an ice cream publicist. She'll back me up on this - morning radio is all about product payola. But for all that, the Council won't endorse a favorite.

I wrote to the fine people at Table Talk, to find out how many of America's favorite snack pies are made every day, but the sales coordinator did not reply. Perhaps I should have pretended to be a 7th grader writing a report for school. Or Opie and Anthony.
I was also unable to confirm the number of employees down-the-Talk, or any real business facts about the company at all, but leave it to eBay to once again have the last word on any web search.

Pie tins are collectible! One yankily-frugal description reads, "You are bidding on a vintage pie tin. The bottom of the pie tin says New England,Flaky Crust Pie,Table Talk,5c deposit." One must add, by necessity, "Oooo... haaaah?"

PS - this is a great song. If you're the downloading type, get this one.

One slice of pumpkin left.