October 29, 2004

Will this be another all-nighter?

My guess is this election will run a tad late next Tuesday evening. I’m a bit excited, too as Big Al is sending me to Florida next week. I may very well be in the middle of the action. I am little sad I won’t get to see it all go down with Mr. X., though. In our house, politics are akin to a sports event.

So, I did cast my vote earlier this week and did throw it in Kerry’s path. I voted mostly Democratic down the board for three reasons. Right or wrong they may well be, but here they are:

Pro-Choice: I don’t necessarily think abortion is the way to go when given the choice. I’ve wrestled with this issue often over the years, but just recently realized I’m pro-choice at heart and I best go with it. I firmly believe it is a personal choice. If it is made illegal, it still will NOT GO AWAY and the disparity between classes will rear its ugly head. The rich will be able to go discreetly to a highly paid doctor and the poor will be stuck again risking their lives on someone’s kitchen table.

Gay Marriage: It infuriates me when straight people declare that gay marriage will threaten the holiness and integrity of the sacred institution called marriage. HUH? Judging from the epidemic of divorces already occurring, I say give the gays a chance. Surely, they couldn’t muck it up much worse than we straight people already have.

The World’s Perception of the US.: I first faced anti-American sentiment nearly 15 years ago when I become very involved in the Muslim community at my university. While Bush did not create this current hatred, he did give it a face. Now, I don’t imagine Kerry is a silver bullet (it would take a few more Presidencies for the US to become the Muslims World’s New Bestest Friend EVER). However, I do believe that if Kerry is elected, it will help to a send a more positive message of Americans. We are not all Islam-hating war-mongers. Some of us actually understand that Islam is a beautiful religion that has been sadly and absurdly corrupted by a group of wackos. Sigh.

Now to the local issues. The primary reason I vote is really for the local elections. Let’s face it, Kansas is heavily Republican and my vote won’t count since Bush will get all the electoral votes (Down with the Electors!! Up with the People!!). However, my family has always been very involved in the politics of my city and I have seen first-hand that you can at least make a difference on a local level. For this election, there were several local issues of concern to me:

Bi-State Tax: The stadiums reside in Jackson County, Missouri. I reside in Kansas. Why should I pay for their stadiums? My state doesn’t get the revenue. I am behind Jackson County residents on the list for tickets and I have to pay more for certain things because I am not a resident of said County. Yes, the rumor is that half the tax would go to the arts, but frankly, I haven’t seen proof that will actually happen and George Brett’s smiling mug on TV isn’t going to convince me otherwise. Ultimately, the residents of Jackson County reap the benefits from the stadiums. Let them pay for it.

Sunday Liquor Sales: I voted for this, not out of convenience, but rather practicality. Surrounding cities already have Sunday sales, why should my city lose the potential sales tax revenue to them? I’m quite proud that even my teetotaler Grandma and great-aunt agreed with my logic when presented to them. (Did it change their vote? Probably not. But at least they agreed - that’s HALF the battle)

Tax Continuance for City Parks: I believe having nicer parks makes my city a nicer place to live which makes for nicer property values.

In the end, did all this voting make a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. In the end, what matters is that we simply have a SAY.

October 27, 2004

Are you a Fashion Victim?

A few years back, my friend S and I were shopping for shoes. Usually, we would pick the reliable and plain choices. However, on this special occasion, we decided to live a little and we each purchased a pair of incredibly cute black boots with a 4 inch platform heel. These little numbers were gorgeous and we were positive they would ensure us a spot on some Best Dressed list somewhere – surely. However, my dreams of hitting it big were dashed the first time I wore them to work. I found myself desperately cuddling up to a banister firmly with both arms after I tripped at the top of a staircase.

That incident came back to me as I have been reading an interesting piece of non-fiction called Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style by Michelle Lee . It examines the fashion industry and the history of fashion. I can’t say that I am a follower of fashion, but rather a side-line observer. Yes, I would like to be stylish, but I usually fall short of making the grade (an old picture of me ensconced in a purple and red velour mini-skirt set complete with purple legwarmers is a stark reminder). I generally don’t feel comfortable in trendy clothes (even when I was still wearing single digit sizes), so I usually opt for much safer selections incorporating jeans and black loafers. The fact that I loathe shopping for clothes probably doesn’t help my fashion predicament. I don’t mind the owning of clothes, I just hate the whole process of buying them. Oddly enough, despite the fact that I am not that involved in what I wear, I do still care what Madonna and Gwyneth are sporting. It’s fun to pick through the celebrity rags and pass judgment on those with a far greater clothes budget and imagination than I have.

I used to read In Style, but quit because I felt dumpy after reading the darn thing and it gave me the urge to spend money (as if to rectify the dumpiness). It frustrates me that a beautiful sweater I bought a few years back is considered out of style, even though I still feel like a million bucks when I put it on. Therefore, I was eager to read the book and give myself a Fashion Pardon. I wasn’t disappointed. The hamster wheel of the fashion cycle has picked up to such a fast pace (the author calls it Speed Chic), that now I don’t feel so guilty not following the trends anymore (ponchos be damned!). Yes, I admit I AM knitting myself a shawl, but I really wanted to learn the techniques employed to create one. The one complaint about the book is that the chapter on sweatshops really, really distressed me and the author didn’t offer any solutions. I was shocked at how pervasive this problem is – it’s not just confined to the Kathy Lees and P. Diddys of the clothing world. I guess I had thought the production process involved more machinery but apparently the pliability of fabric doesn’t lend itself easily to much mechanization of the process. I wish the author would have at least given some tips on how a consumer can reduce her purchases of sweatshop-produced garments. Regardless, I am glad I read the book. It was very educational and hopefully will allow me to make more informed fashion choices in the future.

Last week, I bought another pair of black boots. This time, I bought a pair that is plain, with a 2 inch heel. I may not be strutting my stuff in them, but at least I won’t be breaking my neck in them. My budget (and Mr. X) will thank me next year when they are still wearable because of their unassuming design.

October 22, 2004

Do you hang to the left or to the right?

I’ve been taking yet more accounting classes. What gooey fun it is to learn all about the recent updates for consolidation of variable interest entities (formerly known as “special purpose entities” until Enron ruined it for the rest of us). One interesting thing: I was sitting at a table with 3 other people (as has been the case for the other 2 classes I took recently). I have noticed in all 3 classes that I am the ONLY one drinking the water. I drank 2 pitchers of water all by my lonesome while my neighbors quaffed soda left and right. Doesn’t anyone drink water anymore?

So – how about this presidential election? I’m not sure what to think – I was a die hard Bush supporter until about 2 weeks ago. Not because I necessarily like Bush, but rather because I think Kerry has as much conviction for ANYTHING as my 3 year nephew does for bath time. This election boils down to a “lesser of two evils” question. The quandary is that the lesser of two evils is STILL an evil. I watch Bill Mahr on HBO religiously and he usually has a good panel with a fair mix of elephants and donkeys. His show is pointedly to the left, but I love watching the show because I always come away entertained and enlightened by having considered issues in a different light. However, the Bill Mahr show highlights something that bothers me about most Kerry supporters. They concentrate on getting Bush OUT of office without offering any truly compelling reasons for getting Kerry IN office.. What has Kerry done? What does he stand for? Yes, I think we should not be in Iraq, but Kerry hasn’t said he would pull troops out. I could see him using up all 4 years of his presidency blaming Bush. On the other hand, I don’t think Bush is such a prince of a guy, either. Bush has done such a creppy job that my 84 year old great-aunt, the descendant of a long-line of staunch, hard-core Republicans, is going to vote for Kerry. Now, she is afraid that “she is going to die a Democrat”. GREAT – now Bush is instilling this kind of fear in little old ladies?

I am still a little shocked myself that I am undecided. Mr. X is a tree-hugging liberal and I have always defended Republicans. Maybe, Mr. X has finally gotten to me (although, he aptly reminded my vote for Kerry would be for naught because there is no way in hell that Kerry will get the Kansas electoral vote. Thanks honey!). Regardless, it is my duty as an American to vote and I need to decide quickly. Big Al is sending me out of town the week of the election, so I am going to throw my ballot tomorrow. May the lesser evil win.

October 19, 2004

Why the chainsaw?

Um, yeah. I realize this blog has gotten kind of well, rather rancid. Sorry about that. At least it’s keeping in the theme. Last week was an overwhelming one, actually. Cat went missing again (retrieved his kitty a$$ from the old neighborhood and carted him back to the new one), I went out of town, work is hectic, the cat went missing AGAIN (retrieved his kitty a$$ from the old neighborhood AGAIN and carted him back to the new one AGAIN). To add to all the fun-ness, I had to take some classes last week. Since I am a licensed CPA (even though lately the only books I touch are the fiction kind), I am required to get re-educated every year. Imagine that! Furthermore, thanks to Enron and Bunch, I am also required to take an ethics course every year. Because that will make things ohhhh so much better, right?. Anyway, enough excuses. Blogging shall commence.

One of the great things about Big Al is that he celebrates Columbus Day and allows his minions to partake, also. To that end, the Husband (hereafter name changed to Mr. X to protect the innocent) and I decided to go to Boston over Columbus Day weekend for a visit with our friends. Rushing through the airport, I noticed a display of banned items – things you can’t take on the airplane. Most of the items were common sense – leave your toxic liquids and knives at home, folks. However, I was taken aback to see a freakin’ chainsaw displayed. Is that truly necessary? Has this been a problem? Apparently, while I’ve had people express concern over my blunt-tipped bamboo knitting needles that are barely longer than a pencil, others have been attempting to sneak chainsaws on board. My goodness.

Thankfully, we had an uneventful flight to Manchester, NH (the official hometown of Adam Sandler, by the way). I love New Hampshire, my blood pressure decreases as we cross the state line - I feel so peaceful when I am there. Okay, maybe not serene enough to quit nagging Mr. X, but hey, we can’t ALL be winners. We weren’t specifically going for leaf-peeping, but by the sheer virtue of just being there you get plenty of leaf-peeping in. The foliage was just gorgeous – it wasn’t in full display yet. This was almost prettier with the bold reds, bright golds and yellows contrasting with the green.

Our gracious hosts, S and A offered to come to pick us up at the airport and we eagerly accepted when Mr. X and I realized that we both thought the OTHER was booking the rental car. The airport in Manchester didn’t have a single car available. Probably due to all those damn leaf-peepers. When we left the airport all was going well until a cop with his lights flashing came up behind us, pulled a truck over in front of us and then stayed parked in our driving lane. I am an idiot and would have just driven around the cop, but luckily the driver A, is much smarter than I am and diligently pulled his car over. You see, we had encountered what amounted to a law enforcement wet dream. The cop was pulling over TWO vehicles at the same time. Is that even legal?? Did he have TWO guns to clock us separately? I think A was robbed! We were shocked, to say the least. Hopefully, A will contest the ticket because we have doubts as to whether he was speeding anyway.

Other than being pulled over by a cop who didn’t look old enough to drink, much enforce the law, most of the weekend was significantly more relaxing. We went to Marblehead MA, which is an adorable sleepy seaside town that has managed to attract tourists while still retaining its charm and local flavor. In contrast, we drove through Salem which was in full buzz due to the Halloween season. I can’t say we were compelled to stick around there. We arrived in Marblehead, parked, and walked everywhere thereafter (the streets are narrow and winding – parking is a bear). It was so relaxing to stroll through the neighborhoods on foot – the entire town has a lazy, calm feeling to it. Even the shops didn’t appear to be overly aggressive in their pricing and we found some reasonable buys.

After Marblehead, we went back to the house and began what would turn out to be a Quentin Tarantino Festival. I really enjoyed Pulp Fiction, but hadn’t seen his other films. We ended up watching Reservoir Dogs and both of the Kill Bills – Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I highly recommend watching both Kill Bills in rapid succession – what a great set of films! They were Tarantinto’s Valentine to Kung Fu. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to sit in the theatre after the Vol. 1 with such an explosive ending and realize you have to WAIT for Vol. 2. Luckily, our hosts S and A have a monster TV, so I don’t think I missed much from not having seen it in the theatre. Plus, you can’t make snarky comments in the theatre, which was half the fun.

The weekend was nicely rounded out with good meals – we sampled Indian, Tibetan, and some local offerings in the form of steamers and lobster rolls.

I was ready to come home, but I wasn’t exactly ready to leave, either. I always feel torn like that when I leave there.

October 5, 2004

Now, how about that fish?

I actually got my big bootie out of bed today at 5am to go to the gym. It was great! Earlier this year, I was consistently going to the gym 3-4 times a week. When I started traveling for work, that routine rapidly fell by the wayside. Now that I am not traveling and have settled into the new digs, I am looking forward to getting back into my workout routine. After an inspiring workout, I drove back through my old neighborhood – it’s the quickest way and has fewer traffic lights to boot. I decided to quickly park near my old house and see if I could find H. After 3 short shouts, I heard the little jingle of his bell!! What broke my heart was the rapid meowing he offered in return – he’s not normally such a vocal cat. While he was delighted to see me, he was NOT pleased about the ride home. However, when we pulled into the driveway, he happily scampered into the garage and the house. He quickly ate a snack, hung around for more petting, and then went about inspecting the house. However, before I left for work, he was eagerly waiting to be let outside again. Sigh.

When we went to Animal Control last week to search for him, we received a stern warning that we were NOT to let our cats outside to roam – there is a leash law. Sigh (again). I realize letting our cat outside is not an optimal situation, but we can’t let him stay inside 100% of the time. He came to us as an “outside” cat and goes stir-crazy if left inside for more than a day. We have him fixed and he gets all of his shots on a timely basis. Judging from the number of neighborhood cats visiting US, we are not the only ones letting our cat out. For the time being, I will keep him confined to the basement, garage, or rest of the house, but this is not a long-term solution. I just hope he doesn’t provide anymore blogging material.

Unfortunately, there will be no miraculous recovery of the fish. This isn’t an episode of Buffy, after all.

October 4, 2004

Am I a bad Pet Mommy?

I have managed to lose 2 pets in one week. My dear beta fish N. bought a one-way ticket to the big Fish Fry in the Sky last week. I went to his fish tank and tapped twice. Usually, he immediately swims to the top in eager anticipation for his shrimp flakes. But, Sob! He sat at the bottom with his fish eyes wide open – accusingly. As if it was my fault. But of course, it MUST have been my fault. I just haven’t figured out how. What really, really sucks about having a fish die, but not float to the top is HOW DO YOU GET IT OUT?? I never had a fish net, didn’t need it. So, I tried to pour out as much water as possible then dumped the whole mess into a trash bag. THEN, I did an artful, complicated jig to the tune of “I Am So Grossed Out”.

To add to the mass of guilt, my cat H. hasn’t been home for 5 days. Like clockwork, H. always shows up in the morning after a night of cruising the streets (granted, due to the fact he is fixed, his carousing is limited to looking, no touching). Anyway, the next morning he didn’t show up. I do wonder if the neighborhood cat chased him so far away that H. decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and hoofed it back to the old neighborhood. He is a self-reliant cat and only hung out with us because we petted him and provided a cozy bed in the spare bedroom. So, I have done the rounds of the neighborhoods (new and old) taping posters wherever there is a mailbox.

I guess I am surprised at how much I miss H – I mean, I knew I would miss him, but all along I had been telling myself that he would eventually disappear. I thought I had prepared myself emotionally for his eventual disappearance. He was a stray who showed up on our doorstep last year and we took him because he was such a sweet cat. We knew the chances of an older, male, black being adopted were nil. Although he was an incredibly friendly, easy-going cat, he was never a snuggly one and rarely sat on our laps. However, now when I look at his favorite chair and the bed in the spare bedroom, I can’t help but get teary-eyed.

I hate the “not knowing” part of H. being gone. At least I know where the fish is.