Friday, December 28, 2007
For pete's sake people, pleeeease, vaccinate your children.
I participate in these online forums for babies born in May 07. Yes, my baby wasn't born in May, but he was supposed to have been. Anyway, on both the US and British equivalents, there are a number of parents who have chosen not to vaccinate their children. Generally, the discussion forum etiquette is to not criticize. I skirt the line already and I knew that I couldn't reply and be civil. These are threads I've seen today:
American scenario in which I paraphrase:
I want to give up pumping breast milk. It's a pain. It takes a good part of my day and I only get 8 oz a day for my 7 month old son. But the thing is, I haven't vaccinated my child so my husband is on my case saying that what's a little bit of time when it's our son's health on the line? What should I do (support only please)?
OK, sweetie. I'm a big breastfeeding advocate, and I would gently (hopefully) encourage anyone with a baby under one to stick it out a little longer. But I gotta admit the pumping thing is a pain in the ass and frankly I probably would have given that up ages ago. But kudos to all the pumping moms who are able to do it. And for sure, your hubby probably doesn't understand what it's like to have a machine slurping at your bosom, so I'd discount his opinion slightly.
Yes, I also believe that breastfeeding helps with immunities and it's part of the reason I continue to breastfeed Buddy.
But breastfeeding is not a magic bullet. It does NOT GUARANTEE against your child catching infectious diseases. If it did, do you think infant mortality pre-vaccines and pre-formula when babies breastfed would have been quite so high? If it did, do you think we'd have epidemics and stuff? We'd all be drinking little bottles of breastmilk daily.
If you don't want to pump anymore, fine. But please, vaccinate your child.
I think my 4 year old son has measles, he's been (a run down of measle like symptoms). I asked the doctor what I should do? He said not to worry, but to keep my son away from old people and those who haven't been inoculated. Now my baby has a fever, too.
I feel bad for this woman. I do. I hope it's not measles. I hope it's just a little snuffles that goes away tomorrow. But she'd be a lot more sure it wasn't something serious if she had vaccinated her child.
And you know, I'd be a lot more sure that Buddy wouldn't be exposed to measles before he was old enough to get the shots if she and a lot of other people had vaccinated their children.
We saw Borat. Rubbish. Can't believe I spent money on the DVD. He should be slapped for rudeness. The character on his old show was pretty well conceived - but in the movie it was executed lazily. Only the bear head and the line "We support your war of terror," were any good. And continuity...did anyone notice he went to DC and then to a local tv station in Jackson, Mississippi (without naming it - but they did show the weather chart - and everybody knows that Yazoo City is in Mississippi) and to Virginia and then to Jackson.
He's goin' to Jackson and people gonna stoop and bow.
We saw Magicians. Written by the writers of a British tv series Peep Show - one of those Brit specialties in cringe humor - so funny sometimes I couldn't breathe while watching it - and co-starring Robert Webb and David Mitchell - the stars of same Peep Show - it plays off some of the same riffs. Not quite as uncomfortably funny, it was still pretty good, enjoyable. Watch it.
Last night on broadcast tv, we watched The Queen. It was watchable. Interesting reliving the time after Diana's death. Helen Mirren was soo much better than all the rest of them, why did they get that James Cromwell guy to play Prince Phillip. I normally like him, but he just couldn't wear the part.
I'm reading pretty slowly these days. Buddy has started to take an interest in the things we take an interest in. Like the tv remote control or books. Buddy likes to grab books. Buddy likes to tear pages. Buddy likes to eat books. But I have fairly recently completed Wicked. I thought it was pretty good. If you kinda like the whole Oz thing and maybe have read one or more of the original books and you're over the age of 14 - like a mature 14 - then I would recommend it.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
We didn't pay much for our DVD player. We bought the thing at ASDA - a supermarket chain owned by WalMart. We bought it because once during a trip to the dump I found about 30 ring binders full of porn DVDs. Clearly a local production company was having a clear out. Now, I have to say I'm not a big fan of porn or the porn industry but also not being one to sniff at dumpstery-goodness, I thought - this must be a sign. A sign to get a DVD player. Because up until that point the Vol-in-Law was having a one-man boycott on DVD players because of the the artificial segmentation of the global market into DVD regions through a mere twist of code - just to extract the maximum consumer surplus. Code which some poor Swede went to jail for cracking.
But when you've got 2 binders full of dumpster porn (we randomly selected two - it just wouldn't be right to have a whole shelf of the stuff - that would be trashy) you gotta have something to watch it on. So we bought a cheap DVD player and 8 Mile with Eminem which was super discounted.
Thanks goodness Mr Marshall Mathers. It turns out that they weren't porn DVDs at all, but rather CDs storing files of porn movie cover art and promotional materials.
And I really enjoyed watching 8 Mile. And we returned the nasty promotional materials whence they came.
How's that for an O'Henry twist?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Last night, for Christmas Eve dinner, I marinated pork loin in Dale's sauce (smuggled from America)and oven roasted it with acorn squash, a sliced fennel bulb and a sweet red pepper. I also baked a quick cheesy grits loaf (or polenta if you must).
It really didn't take very long to prepare - it does take a while to actually cook. I did pre-cook the acorn squash as it takes a little while to get to the perfect soft/sweet stage.
I just coarsely chopped the veggies, so mine didn't end up that pretty - but this dish could be presented beautifully.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
So yesterday, I finally dragged out the real tree baby camo outfit. And dang if it wasn't just a little too small. My mom paid full price for that outfit down in Loretto, so we wedged him into anyway.
Before he was born, I had planned on a little photo shoot - putting the baby in his real tree camo in the leaves - captioning it "Where's the baby?" But he mostly sleeps during our walks in the park and I couldn't really justify dragging him out of his cosy warm blanket just for a funny picture. Though I did think about it.
He was wrapped in his new fleecy Vols blanket, before we put it on him I asked the Vol-in-Law if he thought hunter camo goes with Tennessee orange.
"I dunno," he says. "Shall we be the first to try it?"
It was very cold and the lake was frozen over
And the pond was frozen over, too. And we learned that ducks either can't read or just think that it won't happen to them.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Mostly it was fun. But sometimes it wasn't. Sometimes people weren't as nice as they could have been. Like the guy who threatened his wife because she ordered a big ass live blue spruce for their entry foyer and he was gonna pop her if it scratched the marble tiles. (It was a questionable choice of tree, but hardly an excuse for domestic violence)
Another time, I saw this mom tell her kid who was - I don't know - seven? - that he could pick out any tree in the lot. He was a thoughtful little guy and he wandered amongst the trees and picked one out. It was a good tree. Even, full, of a harmonious conical shape, nice good limb development for optimal ornament hang-age. Well, I can't remember, but I do remember being pretty impressed with his choice. On the other hand, we didn't have many duff trees.
All the trees were hung up with twine from the marquis frame, so the kid pointed out his tree and Bruce (a co-worker) and I cut down the tree and started to take it over for the fresh cut to the base. Now once we make that fresh cut, you have to buy that tree - that's the rule. But mom comes out and directs dad and kid inside to look at the poinsettias - and tells us that she really wants this other tree instead.
The tree is really no better, really not that much different. But mom's the one with the money, so we do what she wants and we don't say anything.
Bruce and I feel bad about it, so we work quick. Normally the fresh cut and the baling will be more or less a one person job, but we worked together so that we could get that tree baled up and tied onto the roof of their car before the kid comes back out again.
We were just tying the last knots on the luggage rack when the kid comes up to us and says, in a quiet voice. "That's not my tree, is it?" He seemed more resigned than upset. We could have lied - cheerfully. We could have. But something about the way he said it - we just looked at each other and said "No, it's not." And the kid was not surprised, it clearly wasn't the first time something like this had happened.
Anyway, I swore when I had a kid, this would be something I'd never do. If it mattered that much to me, I wouldn't offer a choice. Cause a kid can tell his own tree even baled up and tied to the roof of a car.
Chris is wrestling with the things he said he'd never do as a parent. Like use the tv as a mollifier. I think I said something like that, too. Plus we agreed we'd stop swearing. Well, that hasn't happened. Never say never. But I'm still sticking with my promise not to pull a stunt like the Christmas tree swap.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
With Your U.S. Passport, the World is Yours!
Not your key to the world, not the world is your oyster, not you can see the world...but no - the world is yours (exclamation point!), for the American was given dominion over the earth. Note how for once the globe is not centered on the continental United States - see how the non-US territories are ours.
Note also the old style abbreviation and capitalization styles. Interesting. You'd be forgiven for thinking this flier is a relic of our unreconstructed past. But I don't remember getting one of these. And the passport pictured is of the new style - with integral electronics - that's what the little eye-ish symbol means. Well, that or it's the mark of the Illuminati. Hard to tell.
Monday, December 17, 2007
My mom has been visiting and we've been out and about seeing the sites and sounds and smells of London and environs. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style.
I'm pretty tired, 'cause what with my entertaining duties and all I'm not managing to get my 20 minutes of snooze during the Rockford Files. (It also works with other old crime solving series) It's my sleuth sleep. I need it. Buddy is still waking in the night to eat. We're almost to the point of serving him three meals a day - so maybe when that happens he'll start sleeping through again.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Seriously though, of those four - which is the least bright? Did you say the Irish fellow? Shame on you. You're not allowed to say that anymore. It's racist. The Irish have their own box now to tick on forms. You can't have said Scottish or English because they have different cultural stereotypes. So it must have been the Welsh guy. He must be the stupid one.
The thick Welshman was a new stereotype for me when I came over here. I had no idea. But it's pervasive. I once had a long, long conversation in the first class smoking carriage of a train to York with a Welsh fellow. We traded secrets about how we'd played on our regional accents (I can still sound Southern if I want to) acted dumb and gotten away with - if not murder - then free bus fares and out of traffic tickets and used it to gain advantage in sales. How we laughed. How we garnered the sulking, resentful looks of the English on the train. Surely, they didn't think the Welsh really were that stupid, surely they must have had some suspicions all along?
In an age of offense, there do still remain some groups it's ok to pick at. Groups which it's still OK to make fun of - like Redneck Southerners or Welshmen from the Valleys. Hey, it's all for a laugh right?
Apparently so. The Adverstising Standards Agency has rejected a series of complaints about an ad which cast less than flattering light upon the Welsh intellect:
The advertising watchdog has rejected 21 complaints about a commercial which featured a Welsh team in a quiz show. Complainants said the advert for Welsh firm Brecon Five's vodka presented Welsh people as of low intelligence.
It showed a woman called Jones getting a question about a philosopher right, before a voiceover that said: "That's not what you'd expect from Wales".
Hardy, har, har.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled it was light-hearted and unlikely to cause widespread offence.
Well, it's not likely to cause widespread offense outside Wales, I guess. I mean, I admit - I'm not offended and my mother's maiden name is Welsh and all.
And in other news from Wales, this story also struck me funny.
Warren Gatland [the new Welsh rugby coach] has dismissed the notion that there is a widespread drinking culture in Welsh rugby.
Mwwwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. ROFL, LMAO
That's not what I'd expect from Wales. Or rugby players.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Mostly floral tributes are just flowers, a wreath, maybe a heart shaped wreath. But sometimes they're little works of art that capture something about the personality of the dearly departed.
I can certainly say I've never seen a Star Trek floral tribute so I was quite excited. I told the Vol-in-Law about it and the Superman one I'd seen the same day.
ViL: On the same grave, I suppose?
ME: Oh, yes. You don't see many like that.
ViL: I guess geeks don't die very often.
ME: Or maybe they usually don't have enough friends to actually bring floral tributes.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
But then I did remember something I had bought online. Something that might fall more into the stupid than the crazy category. This was my contest entry:
I bought a house for frogs. We found a bunch of tadpoles near my in-laws house in Scotland and my husband carried them down to London on the plane. We dug out a pond for them in our garden - but they needed some place to live after they got legs, right?Yeah, of course when I bought the frog house the dollar hadn't slid into the latrine storage area so it wasn't actually a forty dollar frog house - but it was still stupid enough. I mean any money spent on a house for frogs is stupid money. After all, how would they know the house was for them? I should have bought the $5 sign that said "Frog house".
So, I bought a frog house online. It was really cute, with a thatched roof and everything. It wasn't forty dollars cute though. (I'm an idiot). And the frogs? After the first storm they hopped away and we never saw them again.
My cats enjoyed sitting on the forty dollar frog house for a while and sharpened their claws on the thatched roof. And now, it's forty dollar mulch.
You can see a corner of the thatched roof here in the lower left hand corner of this picture.
And I do know what some of you must be thinking - Did she buy that paint-it-yourself gnome online? If so, why is she going on about the frog house being the craziest thing ever?
Well, I didn't buy the paint-it-yourself gnome - online or anywhere else. My mom did, online. That's what we got for Christmas last year. The now inhabit a very, very dark corner of the garden. Next to the frog house.
Anyway, you can add your own entry up til tomorrow over here.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
We were only a little bit late leaving the house, but we didn't reckon on the fact that we'd have to queue up in the rain (stupid really) or that all the sidewalks and the road in front of the embassy were completely torn up as part of a "beautification" effort. The US Embassy is one of if not the ugliest buildings in that area of London, and it takes more than a new forecourt and little bit of window cleaning to beautify that thing. If I weren't afraid that it might be construed as a terrorist threat, I'd say that only a stick of dynamite could beautify that building. But anyway, why lie? They're not beautifying - they're bolstering the security cordon, which does need doing.
Another couple nipped ahead of us in the queue, so we were a couple of minutes late for our appointment, otherwise we'd have been there on the stroke of eleven.
Now, when I say appointment, I assume that means we'll meet up at the appointed time (or slightly later since I'm punctuality challenged) and we'll discuss stuff and then we'll part having accomplished something.
When the Federal Gummint says appointment, they mean that's the earliest that you should show up to wait in their well appointed waiting room.
A few words on the waiting room. It's oddly transatlantic. The snack machine is stocked with oreos and Hershey bars and pretzels and Reese's Cups (American snacks not usually found in British vending machines and Scottish shortbread and flapjacks (oaty bars).
The signs say "Please place your rubbish in the bins" and "Please place your trash in the bin".
There were a few toys in the corner and posters suggesting that we register to vote and a lot of families with small babies who looked they'd already been waiting a very long time. A very, very long time. And if I thought that long waits for officialdom were bad when I had sudoku and a novel to keep me occupied - well, with a little baby they're that much worse.
We also waited a long time and I had rehearsed my explanation of why I didn't have the exact dates of my various entries and exits from the US. Like my one evening trip over the border to Ciudad Juarez. I can't recall the exact date, but the buckets of Corona were mas barato.
Anyway, I don't know exactly what checks they do - but they didn't want my high school transcripts (though it was interesting to see how my memories of high school matched up with my permanent record) Nor did they want the sordid tale of the one night in Mexico and the buckets of Corona and goodness knows what else. But they took the papers away and deemed that I qualified as sufficiently American to pass my rights along to Buddy. We swore or affirmed some stuff and paid a lot of money - almost $200 for the paperwork including first passport and £15 for the new passport and social security card to be sent to Master Buddy Vol-in-Law. And then they told us that Buddy was indeed American - and with this finding he had, in fact, been American all along.
We were warned - strongly - by the Consular official not to lose this very important piece of paper. And we tried, very hard, to give him a look like "Who us? Do we look like the kind of people who would lose such a thing?"
And one day, son you could be President
Or maybe not. I had heard that if you got this retroactive citizenship certificate, that meant that your child wouldn't be denied the opportunity to sit behind the desk at the Oval Office just because that American was foolish enough to be born on foreign soil. On our explanatory paperwork that accompanies the certificate of a Consular Report of a Birth Abroad that proves that Buddy was always American is this nifty little paragraph:
Running for President or for Congress
Legal scholars disagree whether someone born overseas to a US parent or parents is considered a "natural born Citizen" one of the Constitutional requirements to become President of the United States. The courts have never made any definitive ruling on this section of the Constitution. One US Senator introduced a bill in October 2004, however, to clarify what this term actually means. If this bill becomes law, your child would definitively be considered a "natural born Citizen" of the US and therefore could run for the White House. At ay rate, as an American citizen your child can indeed run for Congress, even though born overseas,....
and then the kicker
...but he/she would still have to meet the Constitutional residency and age requirements to run for the House or Senate.
So no matter how well your little tot can press the flesh and work the room and raise money and no matter how bright you think their political future ought to be they still have to wait til they're way past kindergarten.
But I guess the point is, it's never actually been tested by the courts. Anyway, I wouldn't want Buddy to be President. I wouldn't want those pesky reporters looking into Mommy's colorful past. And besides, who would want to vote for a guy who said:
My fellow Americans, I end tonight where it all began for me- I still believe in a place called Tooting.
Buddy's first passport pictures
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Apparently, being called English is a racial slur. Can I demand prosecution of the judges or magistrates who've handed down this silly sentence for declaring that being called English is offensive? They've offended me and my English son.
Actually, I'm not that bothered about the English bit. What really bothers me:
The former lorry driver[Michael Forsythe], who is originally from Northern Ireland, but lives in Powys, Mid Wales, called Lorna Steele an "English bitch" during an argument after he collided with her parked vehicle in the Welsh market town of Newport in February.
Why is it OK for a probably big and burly trucker to hit a woman's car and then call her a bitch. I'll admit that "English" wasn't the right label for the Welsh woman, but it's hardly the end of the world. I'll even grant that out of the mouth of someone from Northern Ireland, English does carry a bitter weight (whether they be Protestant or Catholic). But the hurtful, hateful part is indisputably calling that woman a bitch.
I can't tell you how many times I've been called Canadian*, and I'm tough enough to take it. I've been called Yank**, too - and while I do find that offensive, I haven't called the cops yet. But I'd be worried if someone hit my car and called me a bitch. To use that word is aggressive and offensive in anyone's book. It's usually meant to offend and when used by big, strange men it's usually meant to physically intimidate, too.
I've noticed this before. Why is it OK to be misogynistic - but even the slightest, tiniest touch of "racism" is deemed worthy of 10 weeks in the poky? I'm not calling for the use of gender-based slurs to go on the books as a crime (we've got more than enough "hate" legislation as it is). But I bet his use of the b-word went without comment.
I'm not defending Forsythe's behavior. Far from it. He sounds like a nasty man. But I'm inclined to agree with him here:
Forsythe has attacked the prosecution as a waste of time and money, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
"I find it unbelievable that I've been prosecuted for this," he said. "I've travelled all over Europe as a lorry driver and never had any problems with anybody and now they're officially calling me a racist.
"It's political correctness gone mad."
* The Canadians, rather churlishly, do seem to take offense at being called American, so a lot of Brits use Canadian first since we Americans don't seem to mind.
** As a Southerner, I really don't like being called a Yank. But I usually just try to explain to the offender what they've done.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Anyway, I'm very proud of myself for having made it this far. After all, I've had pets that haven't made it this far. Mammal pets, I'm ashamed to say. And pets aren't nearly as much trouble as babies.
Still, I know that getting this far isn't actually the universally recognized benchmark of success. And I also know we haven't done everything right - for example, it's 10pm and Buddy is watching a Canadian crime drama. That's not right on so many levels, but it's keeping him quiet.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
This was taken before the SEC Championship game yesterday. Clearly Buddy and Smokey don't think much of our chances. And boy, were they right - but not by much. The Vols did pretty good for themselves. I'm down, but not cussin'. Heck, considering the way things started out - I think the season ended pretty well.
And you know what was the best thing? I actually got to watch the game - via pay per view at College Sports TV. The website's a little clunky and streaming video is never crystal clear nor very big - but I was actually watching live. Awesome.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Drink muddy water, sleep in a hollow log
Than be down in Atlanta, treated like a dirty dog
- Jimmie Rogers
Nope. I don't care if we are treated like dirty dogs. The point is Tennessee is playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Y'all might not like the way we got there, y'all might think your team should be there, y'all might not have liked the bumpy, hard, hole pocked road to Atlanta - but we made it.
Holy Cow - who'd a thunk it after those losses to Cal and Florida and that humiliating stumble down in Tuscaloosa? Goodness, come again, who'd a thunk it after those nail biting, nauseating overtimes and missed field goal triumphs against ...cough...Vanderbilt?
And if Smokey can sneak away the bone of the SEC Championship, y'all can call him a dirty dog, y'all can say we're undeserving. That'll be just fine.
This toothbrush has been on reserve for a few years. It's still in its original packaging and it sits on top of our bathroom cabinet, visible but out of reach. The Vol-in-Law occasionally asks me if it's time to open up that toothbrush. Nope, I say, not yet. Not yet. We've got to wait until the right moment.
The right moment is almost here.
He asked me this week if the Vols win in Atlanta if we can open the toothbrush. Yes, I said. If Tennessee wins, I can open the toothbrush.
OK, I just want you to know, before anyone starts with any toothless hillbilly slurs that I've been using other toothbrushes. Orange, yes, but not any special Tennessee Vols toothbrush.