Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Twuth an' Justice

Monday I had jury duty. Massachusetts has a one day/one trial rule - serving exempts you from jury duty for the next three years. Alas, they moved the courthouse from the tremendously convenient building in EC (East Cambridge) to Woburn. So, I trundled out to Woburn (directions provided by Her Royal Highness TomTomasina, thank goodness, because I would never have found it on my own) and lined up at an obscenely early hour with the rest of the unwashed shivering in the cool, gloomy weather.

Finally it was my turn to go through security, where they impounded my blogger's friend, the digital camera, so I could line up again to receive a little randomly assigned juror number card. Once all 200 or so of us had been seated, we were treated to a little video presentation on jury duty. Although it was well done and somewhat interesting, the narrator of the first part (a Supreme Court Judge) was either not a native English speaker or was struggling mightly to control a severe lisp (in which case I apologize for my snarky sense of humor!) It ended up sounding like something from the Princess Bride. "Twuth an' Justice...."

The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...
[cut to Westley, Inigo, and Fezzik]
The Impressive Clergyman: And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva...
[cut to the trio again]
The Impressive Clergyman: So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
The Impressive Clergyman: Have you the wing?
[cut to the trio once more]
The Impressive Clergyman: ...and do you,Pwincess Buwwercup...
Prince Humperdinck: Man and wife. Say man and wife.
The Impressive Clergyman: Man an' wife.

Anyway, my "service" (which I spent sitting in a corner reading and jotting down ideas for a SAS paper) was terminated early when the trial I was destined for had a SDP (sexually dangerous predator) opt for a decision by the judge rather than a jury. Safe for another 3 years!

Fantasy Realized by a Hockey Mama for Obama

Forwarded to me from several people today.

Dear Friends:

We may have thought we wanted a woman on a national political ticket, but the joke has really been on us, hasn't it? Are you as sick as I am at the thought of Sarah Palin as Vice President of the United States?

Since Palin gave her speech accepting the Republican nomination for the Vice Presidency, Barack Obama's campaign has raised over $10 million dollars. Some of you may already be supporting the Obama campaign financially; others of you may still be recovering from the primaries. None of you, however, can be happy with Palin's selection, especially on her positions on women's issues. So, if you'd like to make your opinion known, may I suggest the following fiendishly brilliant idea?

Make a $5 minimum donation to Planned Parenthood. In Sarah Palin's name. A Planned Parenthood donation is tax deductible.

And here's the good part: when you make a donation to PP in her name, they'll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor.

You'll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send the 'in Sarah Palin's honor' card. Use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters:

McCain for President/Sarah Palin
1235 S. Clark Street
1st Floor
Arlington, VA 22202

Feel free to send this along to all your women friends as well as your men friends and urge them to do the same.


Monday, September 22, 2008

All Quiet on the Home Front

This weekend was a rare, quiet interlude in between my mom's memorial service, the SAS conference in Pittsburgh and jury duty. The "girls" went to the Union Square Farmer's Market on Saturday, which is a pleasant walk from Lamont Avenue, first stopping at the Biscuit for savory scones (Ciel sporting her fetching "What the Fluff" bag.) Next week is the famous "What the Fluff" festival in Union Square!

The market, as always, was entertaining and a source of unusual and tasty foods. Ciel treated us to lavendar lemonade and we all indulged in the great harvest of heirloom tomatoes on display. The musical entertainment of the day appealed to the many kids hanging around in the market (there were as many strollers as bikes parked in the bike rack!)

Afterwards, we stopped in at Sherman's Cafe for a funky brunch.

Jaime sped off on her bike towards Davis Square and Ciel and I stopped in at our local butcher shop, Savenor's, once frequented by Julia Child who lived a couple of blocks away from us. It's great having a source for good meat, fish and cheese - and bones for stock and soup. Bone Appetit!

Bonnie was able to savor the beautiful fall day as well, with two of her favorite walks (Harvard Divinity School and Danehy Park.) There was assiduous sniffing of pee-mail, grass swimming, sand bathing, and of course, a visit to the twin rhinoceri (sp?) near the Peabody Museum.

As my socks said that day, life is good.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

NESUG 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA

I spent the last four days in Pittsburgh, attending the NorthEast SAS Users Group Conference and geeking out. Pittsburgh is a pretty cool city, a lot more culture than you would guess, lots of bridges (rivers), lots of construction, and very hilly. LOTS of bridges!

Sadly, I did not get out and about Pittsburgh anywhere nearly as often as I would have liked, as I was a section chair at the conference and had five separate presentations to do.

I did take a few walks by the rivers, and went to a Pirates baseball game at a truly beautiful ball park along with 200 odd (well, yes, odd, but I mean around 200) fellow conference attendees. I guess the Pirates aren't so hot, so the stadium was nearly empty, but the view from the nosebleed seats was simply amazing.

One of my favorite areas was the PPG (Pittsburgh Plate Glass) center - it was stunning. I really liked the glass stegosaurus.
There were also some nice juxtapositions of new and old architecture, odd reflections, and some nice plantings here and there.

Of course, I had to indulge my lamppost obsession.

One early morning I discovered Crazy Mocha. I'm totally in love with their Breve (double shot of expresso with steamed half and half). Be still my heart! Of course, it might just still my heart with all the milkfat, but what a way to go....

The last night of the conference I won PROC TRIVIA (kind of like SAS Jeopardy) in the expert division, which was a good time. The winning question? What language was SAS written in between FORTRAN and C? (drum roll. . .) PL/1!
Next morning it was time to roll up the posters, hand out awards, pack up the SAS truck and head out of and for the hills.... Next year's conference is in Burlington, VT.

It's good to be home.

Drill, Drill, Drill = Kill, Kill, Kill

This strikes a chord in me.

"*Drill, Drill, Drill"*
By Eve Ensler, Author: The Vagina Monologues
September 5, 2008

I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks.
I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.

I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them.
It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.
But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.
Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan.
She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here to be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, "It was a task from God."
Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.
She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.
Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently.
She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States . She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.
Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.
Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.
I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S. , but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans.
It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction.
It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.
If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, "Drill Drill Drill." I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.

Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage.-Anais Nin
Kiss MY pitbull, Palin! She's a lot more feminist, intelligent and compassionate than you are.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

From the Heartland

On Friday, September 5th, a group of us ventured forth from the Boston area to bury my mother. Jaime was suffering from allergies and sported some "special" eyewear as she was unable to wear her contacts. I sported my favorite travelling neck pillow in the shape of an otter.

The "girls" (Ciel, Jaime and myself) attended a Reds game in the Great American Ball Park with Ben, Victoria and Michael. We must have brought the cellar dweller Reds luck because they soundly beat the Cubs behind some decent pitching by an ex-Red Sox pitcher. The stands were filled with stunned (and inebriated) Cubs fans.

The ceremony was held in beautiful Spring Grove cemetery, a 700+ acre arboretum and burial ground close to downtown Cincinnati, on Saturday, September 6th at 11:00 a.m, with many family and friends attending. Mom was buried in the Greeno plot. The weather was gorgeous and the crickets sang. The release of balloons, with Amazing Grace played on the bagpipes, marked the final goodbye to Mom. Ciel has produced a beautiful memory book which was well received at the ceremony and at the celebration of Mom's life afterward.

Also in honor of Mom, I downloaded a new voice for Le TomTom (now Queen TomTom) - The Queen of England. "One has reached one's destination...." Even JimJim agreed that Queen TomTom was a useful addition for trekking around Cincinnati.

On Sunday, I took Ciel, Jared and Jaime (and JimJim) on a tour of my past lives in Cincinnati, then we attended a brunch celebrating Barbara's 80th birthday! We could not leave Cincinnati without seeing my old favorite Krohn Conservatory - and then to a new landmark in Cincinnati, the Underground Railroad Museum, featuring one of my ancestors, John Rankin. (My mother was named Juliet Rankin Greeno, and her father was John Rankin Greeno.)

We returned home that night - and Bonnie is CONSIDERING forgiving us. Maybe.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Becoming Real - At last, at last

One of my mom's favorite children's books was The Velveteen Rabbit. The message of resurrection and redemption transcends the story, and elevates a nursery favorite to the level of the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. We'll bury Mom on Saturday morning, next to her mother, with bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. . . and she, like the Velveteen Rabbit, will be real to everyone.

* * *

"I am the nursery magic Fairy," she said. "I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved. When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them any more, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real."

"Wasn't I Real before?" asked the little Rabbit.

"You were Real to the Boy," the Fairy said, "because he loved you. Now you shall be Real to every one."

Monday, September 1, 2008

Seen Around Cambridge 9/1/2008...

Dog Day Afternoon. . .

The Return of the Pod People. . .

And, how convenient - recycling 2004's bumpersticker.

'nuff said!