Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Few More Things I've Never Understood

I've already mentioned anti-Semitism, cake mixes, and people who think Shakespeare is too hard to understand and also insist on using nothing but the King James Version of the Bible. Here's some more.

* The attaching of guilt to food--for example, "guiltfree menus" at restaurants or "eat all you want without guilt" advertisements. This doesn't make any sense to me. The only way I would ever feel guilty eating something would be if I were to eat something that belonged to someone else.

* Women who get angry if their husband or boyfriend doesn't give them a present on their birthday/Valentine's Day/Mother's Day/whatever--or worse, get angry if he doesn't give a good enough gift; or worse still (and I've only known one or two women this bad), get angry if he doesn't send the Valentine's gift to their workplace so their coworkers know they got a gift. What are these women, queens demanding tribute? I'm all for men treating their wives like queens, but gifts should be graciously accepted as gifts, not angrily demanded as your due. And in the case of the women who want their Valentine's booty in public, rather than private--how shallow can a person become without drying up completely?

* Women who trash their husbands to other women. Not only is it disrespectful and makes them look bad, but I'll bet they'd have a fit if they heard their husbands criticizing them to other people. Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you applies in marriage at least as much as anywhere else.

* People who date, live with, or marry people they don't trust. Especially marry. I wouldn't want to sleep in the same house with a man I didn't trust, much less tie my economic future to him.

* People who say "I hate water". That's like saying "I hate air".

Viva la France! (And Ireland)

Yesterday Reuters had an article about experts pondering the "high" French birth rate--1.9 children per woman, the second highest rate in Europe. Leaving aside the sad fact that a below replacement level birthrate (replacement level in modern industrialised nations is 2.1) can be considered high in today's Europe and leaving aside my suspicion that non-assimilated Muslims may account for a lot of France's birth rate, I want to say "Hurrah for France!"

I know it's popular among many Americans to mock and criticize France and I'll admit to having repeated some French jokes since the Iraq war (before that my response to friends who repeatedly made those jokes was, "Why do you pick on France? Have you ever met any French people?"), but there are things about France that even a conservative can love. High on the list for me is that they showed some (un)commonsense and forethought back in the seventies about a potential scarcity of oil and built nuclear power plants; it's my understanding they now they make about 80% of their needed power with nuclear plants. Possibly due to more of that forethought, they've offered some incentives to child-bearing and are now less close to dying out than most other countries in Europe. Also I've heard creditable people say that, whatever their problems, the French have done a better job of keeping down the fomentation of Islamic terrorism within their country than the British have.Their cultural heritage--especially pre-twentieth century--is nothing to sneeze at, their language is beautiful (even if a French teacher and Francophile I used to know did describe it as "Latin spoken by ignorant peasants"!), and even people who don't like the French are apt to like their food.

And then too French immigrants contributed to south Louisiana culture. It's not a coincidence that the only feast descriptions I've ever been moved to read aloud to my husband were Peter Mayle's mouthwatering description of the dinner he was invited to at a neighboring farmhouse in Provence and a description of some cross-country walkers stopping for a meal in the backwoods of south Louisiana and, when the proprietors heard they weren't accustomed to that food, being given a sample of everything they had (all washed down by real Coca-Cola in a real glass bottle kept so cold it had bits of ice in it; it's Uncle Pookie's idea of heaven.)

I'm not saying I'll never repeat another "cheese-eating, surrender monkey" type joke, but I'm glad the French are having babies and wish they'd have even more.

Oh, and BTW the Irish are having the most babies. At 1.99 per woman, they're almost at replacement level--Go Irish!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Don't Know About Its Accuracy, But It's Pretty

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)

The Traditional PrincessYou are generous, graceful, and practical with both feet planted firmly on the ground. You tend to be a little on the old-fashioned side. You value home, hearth, and family life and love to be of service to others.

Role Models: Snow White, Maid Marian

You are most likely to: Discover a hidden talent for spinning straw into gold.



Uncle Pookie's One-line Review of Scary Movie 4: "I gave up staying home, doing the taxes, and giving the government money for this?"


FYI, something I discovered when making my Easter dessert: Milled flax seed, mixed with melted butter and a bit of cinnamon, makes a decent substitute for a graham cracker crust for cheesecake; I mostly prefer crustless cheesecake, pies, and quiche myself, but I found this tasty.

I also tried a new (to me) product called Altern. It's an artificial sweetener for cooking made of maltodextrin and sucralose. I got it because the store was out of Splenda in the bag, and it seems to work as well as the Splenda. It's probably worming itself into my cells and killing me even as I type, but then I figure all the artificial sweeteners are killing me, just doing it differently and (it is to be hoped) a mite more gradually than the white sugar would.


I found this site months ago, and I can't remember if I linked it back then. It's too big for most of us to be interested in all of it, but I especially like the Insane Projects page; I think it represents what would happen if you combined Auntie Suzanne and Uncle Pookie into one person and gave that person more energy than either of us has.


I blogged a while back on the coming revolution in bra technology. Here's something sort of related--a post about the effect of chest shape on bra fit. Do check out the link to the breast augmentation site. It shows why, even with good-sized breasts, some women don't have impressive cleavage.


Funny product siting: Sugarfree Honey. Obviously this is imitation honey, but they put the word "imitation" in smaller letters than the rest, so you're apt not to see it until you've already said "what?"


Of interest only to people who like looking at old and/or exotic clothes: Oriental Costumes Their Designs and Colors. Lots of plates of traditional clothes; in most instances, you can see the structure of the garments really well.


Someone posted this list of quilting acronyms on PatternReview:

FIUF: finish it up frenzy
WOMBAT: waste of money, brains, and timeS
EX: stash enhancement excursion
FART: fabric acquisition road trip
PIGS: projects in grocery sacks
PHIB: projects hiding in boxes
STABLE: stash accumulation beyond life expectancy
HSY (pronounced "hussy"): Haven't started yet
Brazen HSY: years-old HSY

The applications go far beyond quilting. Let "stash" refer to something other than fabric--say, gaming modules or DVDs--and we could be talking about many different hobbies, and WOMBAT, of course, refers to many management decisions I've encountered over the years.

I have some "serious" sewing projects planned (not to mention the ongoing PIGS and PHIBs), but what's a to-do list for if not constant expansion. So here's a couple of possible "silly" projects (possible meaning I may possibly think about getting around to doing them one day) I've found.

A free penguin pattern. Uncle Pookie likes penguins and the example ones are awfully cute.

Tea-cozy, with or without irony. I've been trying to wean myself off drinking so much iced tea and, as a tea-free life is out of the question, I'm trying to up my consumption of hot tea; admittedly this plan has not faced a Mississippi summer yet. Maybe a tea-cozy would lend a certain something to the whole tea-sipping experience? If I can come up with a theme that isn't too terribly twee. I remember Sarah Kellerman (one of Charlotte MacLeod's series characters) once made fancy tea-cozies, so maybe a convivial codfish or something in homage?

(Actually, what I really need for my cute little metal pot is a handle cosy. When I asked the clerk wouldn't the handle conduct too much heat, she claimed it was made of a special spage age alloy that doesn't conduct heat well. She may have believed that, but t'aint true.)


This isn't exactly a miscellanous, but HAPPY EASTER!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Best Quote and Strangest Thing

Best Quote I've Seen Lately:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were
faced with the practice of "suttee" - the tradition of burning widows on the
funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We
also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their
necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will
build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow

(Mark Steyn column 3/25/06)

Strangest Thing I've Seen Today:

McCall's 4103. It's a children's pattern for a gi, basic pull-on pants, and what looks for all the world like a scrub top. The gi I understand--lots of children take karate or other martial arts classes--and a child could wear the pants just about anywhere, but how many children need scrubs? And why is McCall's catering to the niche market of children hospital workers when the company doesn't currently carry so much as one pattern for men's basic fly-front, zippered pants?

Random Thoughts

Seersucker is an odd word. It sounds as if it should be either an insect or an obscure insult from a fantasy novel.


As far as I can tell, my kitchen garbage can has only two states--empty and completely full; I have never seen it, say, a third full. I wonder it it's some sort of reverse Schroedinger's cat thing.

I wonder if the most lasting result of my reading Rod Dreher's Crunchy Cons will be that I'm haunted by the term "voluntary quadriplegia".


Another thing that haunts me is Jung's (?) line about how everything that irritates us can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves. It often wanders through my head when I'm--again often!--irritated by some petty thing or other. What does my irritation say about me?


Community is very important, but any place-based community will have one or two people who just don't fit in and never will. Humans may be social animals who work best in packs, but some of us are lone wolves. In the Renaissance, I would have been that eccentric woman on the outskirts of the village, happily talking to the toads and plants, who, if she were sufficiently unlucky as to her time and place, ended up on a fire. Valuable as it is to bloom where you're planted and to learn to get along with people you might not have much in common with and all that, I have a lot of sympathy for the guy who strikes out for Alaska to be a hermit in the wilderness.


I've seen beautiful older women (two famous ones would be Sophia Loren and Maureen O'Hara), but neve a cute one. Until recently. I was watching Rosemary and Thyme and UP remarked of the now 60-ish Felicity Kendall (whom we both know from the delightful Good Neighbors), "She's cute." He's right, but I might not have thought it possible for a woman that age to be cute before I saw her.


We often say/think how fragile life is--how one seemingly light blow to the head can kill a cat or a man, a tiny clot of blood can fell someone in otherwise perfect health, etc. But at the same time, it can be very hard to kill a person or an animal. Look at how much effort it took to kill Rasputin or how even a caterpillar will fight when you try to knock it to the ground to step on.


Green tea probably doesn't count as a St. Patrick's Day food.


I wonder if the women who obsess over dress size would be helped by stopping themselves saying, "I am size 12" (or whatever) and instead saying "I wear size 12".... Then again, probably not. I've heard of women who won't let a friend sew them something, because they would have to buy a pattern in a size larger than their RTW size--never mind that the physical objects, unlike the numbers attached to them, would be the same size. That kind of obsession is probably beyond any help vocabulary juggling could provide.


Are more people suddenly saying "if I was" instead of "if I were"? Everywhere I turn this past week I hear/read someone saying "if I was". When I mentioned this to him, Uncle Pookie had something to say about "bundling", but maybe there were always so many people using this construction and I just never noticed until now.


Heard from Uncle Pookie: "I don't have a sarcastic bone in my body. My cartilage, on the other hand..." Change that sarcastic to smart-assed and it's a perfect bon mot.


Why when we say "martial arts" are we always talking about traditional Asian fighting skills? Martial arts should describe all the martial skills, modern as well as old, Western as well as Eastern. An American recruit in basic training is learning martial arts, yet when we say martial arts we picture Bruce Lee or the kids in the local tae kwon do school.


Perfectionism is a more complicated problem than it might seem (saying "Just lighten up!", while sensible advice, won't cure it) and perfectionists often have what's called poor self-esteem, but I wonder if sometimes there isn't a bit of arrogance in the mix too--"I'm too good to make a flawed product or perform badly." You have to be humble to be willing to make a mistake.