Same job, different uniform.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Condoleeza Rice is in Idaho.

I feel safer just knowing that.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

girlfriday: of beltways and belties

Do you find yourself drifting between the exhilarating whirl of the city and the self-abandon of the country?

I love them both. Holding elevators for executives; absorbed in the micro-universe of the lunch line; brushing shoulders with strangers; crowding around a table in a fashionable restaurant, gorging on pasta and drowning in wine; inhaling the intoxicating mixture of diesel, heat and the disconcerting proximity to the car beside you.

Cut away to acres of blue flax spread flat and wild across the vanishing dreams of aging farmers. Nestled in the trenches of the neighboring corn field, a fox I've seen once, through the dim lense of my headlights, lives and feasts off Grandma's hens. Down the lane a family of an Osprey nests atop a powerline. Blissful paradox. She flies away from the nest as I near. I linger. She won't return until I've moved on.

A cow escapes and trots foolishly down a backroad.

The others watch. I wonder if they're afraid to be on the outside. Or if they're wordlessly rooting for the escapee.

Sunsets are savored from Elizabeth's patio or shared with friends on the porch. When it's cold we sip coffee until our head swims.

Further out, Snowy Egrets preen on federally-protected wetlands.

The worlds collide when, on the dusty back road near the county line or shoved between a semi and a Lexus on the George Washington Parkway, an almost imperceptible wave reveals that we are kindred spirits.

Exhilaration is finding energy, and strangely, peace, in both worlds.

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

And I smiled to think God's greatness flowed around our incompleteness,
Round our restlessness His rest.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Food Teaser

About a month ago, GirlFriday, at my urging dedicated a week on this blog to food. I promised I would blog on the subject as food is, well, one of my favorite things ever. Only I didn't post on the subject. As I understand it, at least one reader of this blog was very disappointed, not to mention this sites host. So in the next week or so, I hope to make up for my delinquency. (Hopefully, I will not overstay my welcome on this topic . . . but don't count on it. I really love to eat.)

I want to start with some background and a couple comments on the All American food franchise.

First, as I stated before, I LOVE to eat. When I'm done with one meal, I am ususally planning my next even while my stomach groans. My brother has often found this fascinating and when we are together he usually askes me at least once, what my thoughts are on dinner before I've put the last bite of lunch in my mouth.

Second, I am not a picky eater. My husband debates this, and I am not so blinded that I can't see his point, as his explanation of "picky" is defined by the fact that at any given time, I will not eat just anything or go to just any restaurant. I ususally have put a fair amount of thought into what I really want to eat at that moment. If it's a hamburger and fries, then by gosh, McDonald's will do just fine. But if it's not, then that's the last place I want to go. Even at breakfast in my own home on any given weekday morning, I carefully weigh weather I want yogurt with granola, a bagel with cream cheese and an egg, or plain old Rice Krispies. It's rarely the same from day to day.

That said, the much more traditional definition of "picky eater" is explained as someone who has a fairly extensive list of food items that they will not entertain. FOR EXAMPLE, my husband who I think is a somewhat picky eater will not eat pecans, almonds, walnuts, shrimp, crab, lobster, any other shellfish, cream cheese, most soft cheeses in general. Further, he doesn't care for entrees that mix fruit and meat together (i.e. - no Sunday ham with the pineapple on top; no pork chop with a cranberry infused sauce), he'd prefer not to eat ravioli, doesn't much care for mayonnaise, and his sense of adventure with regard to food doesn't go off-road much. (In his defense, he is a good sport, and he'll eat at any restaurant of my choosing, even seafood restaurants. As he is quick to point out - "they always have chicken on the menu.")

So far, the only foods I REALLY put my foot down on are olives (no, it doesn't matter what color they are or what country they are from - they are all "yuck!"), artichokes (unless they are in dip - then I love them), black licorice, and root beer (the WORST of the four). I like healthy food, but I like fast food too. I like food you eat with your hands, and food that you eat with several different types of flatware in several courses. I like big meals, small meals, meals that are quick and meals that take hours to eat. I love Indian food, Mediterrean, Italian, German, French (despite myself), and good old American. Sweet, salty, tart, bland, spicey. I pretty much like it all.

All of this is to say that for the most part I am not a food snob. You can find a good meal almost anywhere in this country (as our expanding waistelines clearly indicate), but don't go looking for diamonds at Wal Mart. So, one of the things I'm going to do in the next week or so is "review" some food franchises that I consider to be above the mark. Laugh if you must - none of these are making Zagat's - but by gosh you can find a meal at these restaurants that will make your toes curl if you know what to order.

Some of my favorites are Macaroni Grill, Cafe Ole, Blake's Lotaburger (Albuquerque, NM), Dion's Pizza (Albuquerque, NM), and my all time favorite, Cracker Barrel.

Talk to you soon.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Darn it.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Larry Grant: the Not Republican

Larry Grant's website claims that "he also is committed to working with both Democrats and Republicans to rise above partisan rancor and find real solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems." (Translation: We can count on him to be socially liberal.)

This is inconsistent with what you'll read at Red State Rebels and Grassroots for Grant, penned by Grant's blog manager, Julie Fanselow. Together these blogs are focused on demonizing Republicans in general and the Bush Administration in particular.

Simpson, Crapo and Craig are regular targets; men with whom Grant, if elected, will need to work alongside to "find real solutions." Instead of finding common ground with them, something his Republican-leaning voter base is looking for, he is attacking the Idaho delegation--not based on their values or voting record, but by tying them to the corruption of others. Grant is trying to create a bogeyman of the Republican party and tie Bill Sali to it.

Not exactly high-minded.

How does Grant expect to earn our trust while he builds his campaign not, as he claims, on leadership, but on cultivating partisan rancor?

Will his tactics work? Perhaps Grant is counting on the 1st Congressional District to overlook the issues in November and just have a good pout.

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The More Things Change...

My friend Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall Be Punished is nay-saying the Vice President's visit to Boise on behalf of congressional candidate Bill Sali.

The usual line is being used: This is a big race. (Kos says so.) Sali is a wacko. Larry Grant is a moderate.

And, of course, by moderate, we mean there is room in his tent for everyone who agrees with him. Christians, if you believe his campaign staff, are fools and need not apply.

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Some days the only thing that seems right is your hair.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Learned Lessons, Observations Made

Mowing a stranger's overgrown lawn with a riding lawn mower missing its bag is not a favor. Resist the urge.

Flashlights at night in any context are creepy.

You know you work an office job when a small raking project leaves three blisters on your hands.

Guessing at what you're ordering at a Japanese restaurant occasionally turns out well.

girlfriday readers do not get excited by political posts. Apparently.

Good friends are hard to find. It's amazing how precious they are once you have them. It takes a while to realize that you do.

Farmers are cool.

I spotted a family of Snowy Egrets, an Osprey, a bunch of hawks and very possibly an American Bittern in the space of one week. What a good week.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

How to Lose an Election: Insult Your Voter Base.

Julie Fanselow, Larry Grant's formidable blogging guru, is not doing Mr. Grant any favors.

Idahoans (around 80%) largely identify themselves as religious. Of those claiming some sort of religious identity, 79% of them align themselves with some form of Christianity. These are among the voters who will show up to vote in November.

In a district like the 1st Congressional District, which has been a Republican stronghold since Chenoweth trounced LaRocco, Democrats have to be cautious about maligning voters' religious values. One of the primary ways to win votes is by persuading voters that your values align with their values. You lose voters by insinuating that they are simple-minded and dangerous.

The Grant campaign seems to think that it will win this election with posts like this one:

Meanwhile, the Bible thumpers have obviously been stuffing the ballot box in an online poll at the Idaho Statesman. Go have your say. Then get back to the real work you are doing - you know, whatever it is you do to really make the world a truly godlike place, instead of wasting government's time, money, and energy on heresies like this.
In July I referenced a separate post of Ms. Fanselow's where she suggested that "radical fundamentalists appear eager to remake the United States into a theocracy" because she hypothesized that Christian radio stations may be trying to secure radio frequencies proximate to those where NPR is traditionally found. Christians are stealing listeners!

And the Religious Right is accused of developing conspiracy theories.

It strikes me that the religiously devout, to Julie and the Grant campaign, are petty hypocrites worthy of elementary name-calling. And based on my reading of Red State Rebels, the religiously devout are simply politically active Christians who disagree with Julie.

It doesn't bother me that Ms. Fanselow may be alienating Grant's voter base. It's just too bad she's doing it in the name of secularism.

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Go figure.

I write nothing for days except an oblique post about The Cave, and today my hits are way up.

Why doesn't anyone read it when I actually have something to say?

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Cave! The Cave!

We all live in the Cave.

Oh yes you do!

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Lois E. Lane: What's in a Meme?

1. One book that changed your life.
"The Last Battle" by C.S. Lewis

2. One book you've read more than once.
Romans in the New Testament -- is that cheating?

3. One book you want on a desert island.
The Bible -- and that's definitely cheating since there are 66 books in all.

4. One book that made you laugh.
Pretty much any of the Harry Potter books can make me laugh; they're not known for their humorous tones, but I think Rowling has a great sense of humor.

5. One book that made you cry.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Lee and "The Chosen" by Potok both did.

6. One book you wish you had written.
Ya, pretty much anything by Jane Austen.

7. One book you wish had never been written.
"Satanic Verses" ... only because I got sick of hearing about it night and day when it was published!

8. One book you are currently reading.
Um ... well, I am reading a Bible study by Max Lucado. Otherwise, I'm out (sad, I know). Soon I will start a book given to me by ihearttexas called "Aha."

9. One book you've been meaning to read.
"Les Miserables," which my husband gave me about a year ago and I have yet to crack open. It's huge, people!

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What's in a Meme?*

Julie, to hear is to obey.

1. One book that changed your life.

The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis. Or The Nanny Diaries.

2. One book you've read more than once.

Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

3. One book you want on a desert island.

The Holy Bible. And Plato’s Republic. By the time help arrived, I would have begun to understand the first chapter.

4. One book that made you laugh.

Scoop by Evelyn Waugh. “A major in Wales challenged him categorically to produce a single authenticated case of a great Crested Grebe attacking young rabbits.”

5. One book that made you cry.

Charlotte’s Web. It is my earliest recollection of crying at the end of a book. Anne of Green Gables, Lord of the Rings, The Last Battle, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and everything by C.S. Lewis followed.

Didn’t I cry at Little Women?

6. One book you wish you had written.

Pride and Prejudice.

7. One book you wish had never been written.

In answer to this I have read answers: The Communist Manifesto, Main Street and anything by Nicholas Sparks.

I cannot answer the question. I don’t read bad books.

Ah, that felt good.

8. One book you are currently reading.

A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanaucken.

9. One book you've been meaning to read.

Atlas Shrugged. It is long. And it is written by Ayn Rand. Still, I feel obligated.

10. Now tag people.

girlfriday contributors. You read. Now write.

*I don't know what a meme is either. But it's catchy. Pass it on.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Courtesy of My Grandpa


As we struggle to understand the surge in violence in the Middle East, it is important for those of all faiths to recognize Four Religious Truths:

1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's chosen people

2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian World.

4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Weirdness Abounds. Still.

She writes. "My little sister respects me enough to ask for my opinion on random importances. Weird. My little sister, who is nothing like me, yet shares nearly everything with me; who knows me probably better than anyone else in the world. Who knew my snobberies, cruelties, idiocies, pretensions, and loved me anyway."

Last year, on my little sister's birthday, I indulged.

"At 23 she seemed unaffected by our rocky adolescent relationship. In place of the shy, cherubim-faced little sister whose personality was so maddeningly contrary to my own, a compassionate, intelligent cherubim-faced woman suddenly appeared to nod her head knowingly, argue persuasively and love me unconditionally."

How many people in your family can you call best friend? Maybe this number is infinite.

Ibid has discovered what we all learn over time: our siblings are better than we are. Or at least, they are so much more than we thought.

It is weird. But is so much more real than I imagined.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Weirdness abounds.

There are Amazonian River Otters that are between six and eight feet long. Mom saw them on the Discovery Channel and now I know they are out there. They feed on Piranhas, Anacondas and Dom DeLuise. Their paws are bigger than my head.

There are these to haunt your dreams, too.

"I wouldn't want to build a summer home here, but the trees are actually quite lovely."

Speaking of rodents, there is a dead squirrel in the road outside my apartment. And it stinks. I just noticed it and wonder if it was the squirrel I photographed at the base of the tree a few weeks ago. It makes me sad. Some of my neighbors are weird; the little brown rodent felt like a friend. Or a very distant cousin that was nice.

Superman is a long movie. There is an extended version you can rent; eight minutes of never-before-seen footage. I don't remember all the glowing Kryptonians. Like characters from Tron. Whoever wrote, "Look at me quivering, like a little girl, shivering" should be beaten. S & L's romance was generally wasted on me as a child; I remember the precariously-perched helicopter, yellow taxis and the earthquake.

This looks better on screen than it does on the shelf. A good purse is hard to find. And afford.

Justin Timberlake "sort of respects Kate Moss." "I remember the first time it was reported that I smoked pot...I was like, y'all don't?...I think you lose once you start trying to analyze what people like." You're right. Kate Moss is really a free-thinker.

This guy has a blog called, "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

Weirdness abounds. You find it in yourself, too. Along with a lot of other stuff.

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Friday, August 04, 2006

girlfriday: my job may be humble, but

This poor soul was fired from her job at Blue Banana in Wales. Fired via text message.

This is progress? This is keeping in step with youth culture? By acquiescing to the demands of the smallest, crudest tendencies of some?

You don't respect me when you assume I am trite.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Am I crazy...

...or is the woman pictured in this story NOT Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Check it out before they change the story and tell me what you think!

Update: Too late. They fixed it. Here's what the picture was:

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Wherever You Go...

Jonah Goldberg was in Idaho today. Boise particularly.

Ann Althouse drove through. It was Southern Idaho but I suppose it counts.

And we all live here.

Where are YOU?

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It is the modern problem, Lewis wrote, that the preacher "has to preach the diagnosis--in itself very bad news--before it can win the hearing for the cure."

There is a level of absurdity in the blogosphere in response to Mel Gibson's drunken tirade that borders on hysteria. And it has nothing to do with politics.

Ann Althouse is one example.

"What artist has ever crashed like this? Not Michael Jackson. Not Woody Allen. Not O.J. Simpson. You've shown an evil heart and it changes the meaning of all of your artistic work. How horrible!"

This is foolishness, but it has nothing to do with Mr. Gibson.

Does Ms. Althouse labor under the impression that because she doesn't suffer from the particular vice of bigotry, she is untainted? And what is to be said for the three unrepentant men she includes in that sentence?

She continues in the comments. But I think we know that he actually is a bigot. That's a terrible thing. It's a worse act to murder two people, of course. But a man can lose control and murder, and though I want that man to pay the price, I will forgive him. What Mel Gibson has revealed, however, is the very structure of his mind.

And you have revealed yours.

Bigotry, recently elevated to an unforgivable sin it seems, will not separate you from God, but unbelief will. And at the core of unbelief is a false sense of assurance that your heart is not as black as your neighbor's.

Ms. Althouse is disconcerted because she wanted to believe better of Mr. Gibson; she expected more. I empathize with this. Few of us will express regret at the actions of Paris Hilton or Kate Moss because they don't stand for anything.

Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. The disease is infectious; I suffer from it. But it has a Cure.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

girlfriday: laying down my weapons of minor destruction

I cannot decide if email is more a butter knife or a sword so I have settled on the answer both.

It is a weapon, but it is such a lame one.

Its dangers lie in its function as an expression of our trepidation and false sense of familiarity.

Regarding trepidation. A few years ago, I shot off an email to a colleague who was (in my judgment) harassing one of my employees. I reasoned that a paper trail was more important than a face-to-face conversation. And, I was uncomfortable confronting her.

Her boss immediately called me to his office. Call her. Never handle sensitive personnel issues through email. Deal with this a different way. He was and remains a good friend. It was excellent advice.

Making phone calls to, let's say, raise money, reprimand an employee or colleague, or decline an invitation is uncomfortable at best. I am guilty of acquiescing to this discomfort; email has made it so easy. It is a battle to overcome this instinct and sometimes I lose. Pick up the phone, I tell my itching fingers.

As a convenience I am thankful for email. It is hard to overstate its usefulness. But crucial conversations demand a mode of communication fitting to the occasion. When we read, we insert our own inflections into the writer's voice. Email does not allow any room to manage this. If the subject matter is sensitive, if your palms are sweating, you know you need to close Outlook. Now.

Regarding familiarity. How well do you know the recipient? Email is strictly a way to communicate unless both parties have agreed to it as a mechanism for transacting business. Avoid relying on it when corresponding with strangers.

Do you really want to get a hold of someone? Unless they have specifically requested otherwise, be ready to abandon electronic communication and get that person on the phone. They have a phone number, don't they? Call them.

Beware the familiarity of email. It is a pretense. Occasionally it serves the purpose of creating a quiet distance between angry parties; a conversation would escalate into a fight. This is the exception, not the rule.

Email may have become commonplace, but people haven't changed.

They still want to be individually acknowledged.
They expect a real apology.
They want to be asked for things.
They want to be formally dismissed.

Email is so final, too. Like a bullet.

In the last month, I've received at least two emails about me that were not intended for me. I read them; there was no taking them back. Fortunately these offenses were minor; I was amused. I hope the writers were embarrassed, but I'll never know.

They didn't call.


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