Same job, different uniform.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Autumn is . . .

looking through your purse to find your grocery list and finding instead the now completely shriveled, dried up, and disintegrating leaves that your three year old son stuffed there after plucking them from the street, carrying them around all morning and deciding he couldn't bear to part with them when we got back in the car yesterday. He has now long forgotten them, but they made me smile all over again this morning, so I don't even mind that I will have to dump out my purse to divest it of "leaf crumbs."

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girlfriday:decorations for the criminally insane

Halloween is an excuse for adults to act like children. It is an occasion to be foolish and other and it doesn't do most people any harm. I no longer fear it as a day of the devil, though it's probably exploited in this way here and there.

Undoubtedly the least sinister but most distasteful use of the day is the application of gore in decoration (I use the term loosely).

Jack O' Lanterns, leering and magical, are pleasant, almost nostalgic in nature.

Stuffed bedsheets dangling in nooses from giant oaks, skeletons in varying stages of torture and death, poorly constructed tombstones dotting front yards--are tasteless.

Christmas was the exclusive exterior home-decorating holiday when I was growing up. Never content with anything less than extreme, Americans have taken to displaying every piece of commercialized junk that the nearest dollar store will produce. Halloween dominates.

The unfortunate trend has found its way into the office. Doors are draped in glowing bulbs painted to resemble eyeballs.

Witches are hanging from doorknobs.

Our neighbors even attempted to attach a giant, stuffed, motion-sensitive tarantula to their office door, but gave it up when the blasted spider wouldn't shut up.

Is this beauty? If not, why are we applying it to our walls and homes? For fun. As a diversion.

Yes. But when did fun dissolve into mere tackiness?

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The Fox is On the Town, O!

A fox lurks in the shrubs beneath my window.

It darts away when I drive up. I pause, stunned. Was I sure it was a fox? The bushy tail is hard to mistake. Still. I live in the heart of downtown and a fox is hunting cats on my street.

Happy day!

I dash down the street and watch it scamper through the alley.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My reason for posting is twofold:

1) JEB's last post was girlfriday's 500th! Her prize? A crock pot.

2) You know that guy who does the dialogue for the best ad campaign EVER, Budweiser's "Real Men of Genius"? Have you noticed how ridiculously hard it is to take any other commerical seriously that uses his voice? For example, he is currently the narrator for a commercial for that new drama on ABC with Taye Diggs. It's supposed to be all serious and dramatic, talking about how Diggs' character keeps living the worst day of his life over and over. Except this Budweiser dude is the voiceover, so it all sounds like a parody. It's hilarious! What was ABC thinking? He's also on a Ben Gay heating patch ad, which also ensues hilarity.

I apologize. But don't think this will be my last post on Advertising. I still have two years left of school.

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Friday Night Lights

Can you see me here, begging, dragging my knees across shag carpet to ask you to tune into this show so NBC doesn't kill it! (Next Episode, Monday, October 30.) It is so good and so worth your while. You don't have to love football to watch.

Here's what you get:

* Small town life that isn't made up, put down, laughed at or condescended to
* Football games up close and personal
* Brooding teenagers
* Southern drawls
* Teenagers with manners (who knew!)
* Teenagers with character (those too??)
* Kyle Chandler as the coach - tousled hair, worried expression, nice "jawline"
* Movie-like tight shots and the entire show shot in letterbox
* Wind sprints in the pouring rain at night
* Lines like this (shouted at kids doing wind sprints in the poring rain at night): "You think you're somethin' 'cause you got a free piece of pie a the diner last night!!!???!!! Well you're NOT!!!"
* Diner shots of people eating pie they paid for
* Booster Club parents who you want to punch
* Kyle Chandler (have I mentioned him?)
* Dueling quarterbacks
* God (no really, they pray before games)
* Pretty cheerleaders named "Lila"
* Sexy cheerleaders named "Tyra"
* Interior shots of homes that look like the homes you and I live in, not the homes of people living on Hollywood sets
* Tear jerking moments like the one when quarterback Matt Saracen's dementia-addled grandmother is brought back home to the house they share, after walking into someone else's house and taking a bath. She cries against his shoulder as he walks her to the front door.
* Very few shots of IPods or Playstations
* Men teaching boys to be men
* Football

Tune in! Next Monday, Oct. 30!

P.S. - B, K, and L in Austin, if you are watching "Dancing with the Stars" instead of this then you have no business cheering for the Longhorns!

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Vast Vilification of Wal-Mart

Am I the only one who is sick and tired of hearing and reading about the evils of Wal-Mart? The company is regularly flogged publically - by condescending urban city councils, local governments, and most recently the FDIC who denied Wal-Mart's application for banking status, putting a moratorium on further applications for 6 months, after approving the same thing for the likes of Target, Pittney Bowes, and Volkswagon.

Maybe I am the only one who is sick of the trend - because alot of people from all kinds of economic, social and political backgrounds seem to agree that Wal-Mart is the devil. And I don't personally love the place.

But I'm willing to admit this about myself with regard to my Wal-Mart sentiments: they smack of a kind of bigotry towards what we in America like to call "white trash." And I'm wondering how many other folks are actually disguising this exact same feeling with rubbish like, "It ruins small communities." Really? Name one? Or "they don't pay their employees enough?" Hmm. Okay, show me where they pay their employees substantially less than any other business that does the same thing they do? Or "they don't have good benefits packages?" Oh, well, I bet they are heck of a lot better than the benefits packages that employees of all the "mom and pops" we are so fond of eulogizing could pay their one or two clerks. I'm betting most of those places didn't even HAVE benefits packages.

Don't get me wrong - I like the idea of little indepent boutiques and businesses that sell all kinds of specialized items. But, well, frankly - I can't afford it. And neither can a lot of people. And if Wal-Mart wasn't in business, we wouldn't be able to buy all that stuff we are so fond of. We'd just do without. Which is fine. But if we are "doing without," then those "mom and pops" go out of business - with or without a Wal-Mart around. And it's not like those places were employing some vast workforce - they weren't. Wal-Mart does. And it does pay their employees as well as can probably be expected for the kind of work they do.

There isn't one of us out there who would pay a person who runs items across a scanning window and then hits a button to total it all up, $10 an hour if we had our own little "boutique." And stocking shelves? If I had to pay someone $15 an hour to do that, I'd just do it myself and that would be one less job in the marketplace.

So see - all this is pretty logical. And if given the same set of circumstances most of us would rationally act in our best economic interest. And yet, daily Wal-Mart is vilified as an evil American enterprise that does nothing but ruin the American economic landscape, trash communities and force their employees to use medical welfare.

And I say: what we really don't like about Wal-Mart is two-fold: some of the kinds of people we see shopping there and unfettered consumption.

I won't go into detail here about the "kinds" of people shopping there. You know what I'm talking about. Those of us who like and can afford boutiques think that somehow we are at least a teeny bit better than those of us who have to buy the "Jaclyn Smith" collection. Who knows if "those" people are really the majority of folks who shop at Wal-Mart. I doubt it. And even if it is, why do we give ourselves a pass here? An allowance to harbour this animosity and to set ourselves above any of those folks?

And as for unfettered consumption? Look inward, friends, look inward. We in America love to shop and buy and own. We shop and we shop and we shop. We buy food in grocery stores and gourmet markets, in upscale eateries and fast food restaurants, in Wal-Marts and Targets and gas stations. We buy shoes and clothes and sporting goods and books and toys and coffee and 2 X 4's and eye hooks and carpets and furniture and candles and stuff and stuff and stuff and stuff and STUFF! (There is a Dr. Suess book there somewhere I'm sure of it!) And it 'aint the fault of Wal-Mart that we do.

They are just capitolizing on it.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 21, 2006

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

30 years ago I today, I was . . .

. . . okay, well, I wasn't even alive.

But my mom was.

And she was holding a brand new baby girl who would turn her life upside down.

Her very first daughter.

The Teaser from Weiser.

My favorite oldest sister.

Happy birthday, gf.

Love, Teebs

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday, October 20, 2006

The eve of a milestone.

More to come.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another Dedication to GF

I've got a mountain to climb before I get over this hill
I've got the world to unwind before I ever sit still
I've got a hard row to hoe before my seed is sown
I've got a long way to get before I get back home

I've got so much to put down before that's all she wrote
I've got so much to give for my heart ain't so broke
I've got to find myself where I can never be alone
I've got a long way to get before I get back home

There's an ocean of reason that I cannot explain
There's the weight of the world like a ball and a chain
There's a black hole inside that I fill up with stones
I've got a long way to get before I get back home
I've got a long way to get before I get back home

There's a man I've never met before who looks a lot like me
There's a little place called heaven that I'll probably never see
There's a thing called peace of mind that I have never known
I've got a long way to get before I get back home
I've got a long way to get before I get back home
I've got a long way to get before I get back home

Bob S.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For girlfriday

"Sometimes He Comes in the Clouds"

These are the places I was so sure I'd find Him
I've looked in the pages
And I've looked down on my knees
I've lifted my eyes in expectation
To see the sun still refusing to shine, but...

Sometimes He comes in the clouds
Sometimes His face cannot be found
Sometimes the sky is dark and grey
But some things can only be known
And sometimes He comes in the clouds

Sometimes I see me, a sailor out on the ocean
So brave and so sure as long as the skies are clear
But when the clouds start to gather
I watch my faith turn to fear, but...

Sometimes He comes in the clouds
Sometimes His face cannot be found
Sometimes the sky is dark and grey
But some things can only be known
And sometimes He comes in the clouds

Sometimes He comes in the rain
And we question the pain
And wonder why God can seem so far away
But time will show us
He was right there with us, and...

Sometimes He comes in the clouds
Sometimes His face cannot be found
Sometimes the sky is dark and grey
But some things can only be known
And sometimes He comes in the clouds

-Steven Curtis Chapman

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eat Your Heart Out, Ibid

Ma Vie:

Je vis ma vie.
Le matin, je me réveille.
La nuit, je me couche.
J’apprends mes leçons.
Les leçons de ma vie sont compliquées.
Chacune est difficile.

Si je vivais jusqu’à l’âge quatre-vingt-cinq ans,
Ma vie, que m’apprendrais-tu ?
Comment être seul ?
Comment dire au revoir ?
Comment aimer les personnes qui m’aiment ?

Si je trouvais mon enfance,
Mon enfance, que me dirais-tu ?
« Sois indépendante ! »
« Joue ! »
Cette fille, cette petite fille,
Qui est moi.
Cette fille qui devra grandir.
Qui fera des erreurs.
Je viens de la voir,
Mais elle est partie.

Pendant qu’elle s’est,
Elle est moi aussi.
Un jour quand nous nous rencontrerons,
Elle n’aura pas vu le monde.
Elle n’aura pas appris la sagesse.

Lors de mon enfance,
J’aurais dû l’aimer.
Avant d’avoir grandi,
J’aurais pu joué plus.
Mais, quand j’y étais,
Je voulais être dans cette vie.

Dès que je pouvais quitter mon enfance,
Ma vie devait arriver sur un tapis rouge.
J’ai dû me dire un mensonge.
J’ai dû être ignorante.
Dans mon enfance,
Si j’avais trouvé les clés de l’univers, J’aurais fait quoi ?

J’imagine mon avenir,
Celui qui pourrait être.
Ma vie qui est une possibilité.
La femme qui est une possibilité.
Est-elle une mère ?
Est-elle heureuse ?

Je la vois, elle me dit,
« Sois. . . »
Mais, je ne peux pas l’entendre.
Sa voix est devenue un écho.
Cela qu’elle ne pouvait me dire,
Celles-là qui sont mes leçons.
Les leçons qui doivent être apprises
Après avoir vécu
Ma vie.

--Written by the only remaining fluent French speaker on the blog, the Baby Whisperer herself. (I'm still laboring over "Ma Vie.")

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Afternoon Levity

"I think Jesus is my favorite Superhero. I mean there's Aquaman, but I don't like his costume . . . " Bob Schneider

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

"Hullo Mole! Hullo Rat!"

I have got it into my crazy, mixed up head that friendship is limited in its capacity as iron, sharpening.

With a sweet jolt, a devoted little Rat (accompanied, as these things always seem to be, by gentle conversation with a loved one) reminds me otherwise.

"Still snuffling, pleading, and reluctant, Mole suffered himself to be dragged back along the road by his imperious companion, who by a flow of cheerful talk and ancedote endeavored to beguile his spirits back and make the weary way seem shorter."

That beguiling. The loving, urgent tugs that draw us onward, upward.

What a magnificent thing a friend is.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

The older I get the more right Solomon becomes.

Der Flugplatz had an interesting post on this.

Knowledge brings sorrow.

I reflect on this painful truth. For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Paul endeavors to know nothing but Christ crucified. So it seems that still, somehow, the Cross looms.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

girlfriday: thanks for what?

Have you noticed how we often conclude our letters and emails with "thanks?"

Dear Suzie Chapstick:

You are getting evicted. Please call us with questions.

Writer Untrained in Letter Writing


Dear Suzie Lipstick (close cousin):

I will call you with information as soon as I have it.

Thank you,
Writer Untrained in Letter Writing


I am not grousing. (I'm convinced this is one of the few remnants of good manners left in our impolite age.) I do find it amusing though.

Gratitude is generally extended for services provided or kindnesses shown. Sometimes we thank someone in advance. What we do not do is end our statements with thank you. "See you tonight. Thanks!" Or, "I'll call you when I get there. Thank you."

We write this way because we don't know how to end anything. Endings are awkward. We're afraid to be perceived as terse or formal.

Don't be afraid anymore.

Reading the trite closings lodged in the dozens of emails I receive every day is exhausting. Words are beautiful, but only if they're well used. Do not be afraid to STOP WRITING when you don't have anything else to say. End your sentence and hit send or lick the envelope.


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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Trash

That's where 450 old emails just ended up. I selected them, pages at a time, and clicked delete.

I feel liberated.

ADDED: It gets better and better. I feel empowered. I am responding to emails and then deleting. I am keeping my Inbox count to a minimum. In short, I should have done this a long time ago.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dear Helen,
Dan Williams was at your funeral.
I wish you could have been there.

It was a tribute to you that he was there. Was Larry LaRocco there? I didn't see him. But Dan was. Approached by Graham Paterson, he was invited to join your staff in the front row. He did. It was at once comical and touching. He paid his respects and I think everyone felt that they were his respects.

Your grandson Dominick got it right. "She treated the dusty cowboy sitting at her dining room table, and probably getting dirt all over the floor with his dirty boots, with the same respect she had for a colleague in Congress. There was no front. Only Helen."

Butch Ottter, visibly moved, offered a kind of prayer, ending with the hope that "you would be proud" of your replacement.

Larry Craig recalled your work in the Forestry Subcommittee; work that survives in the form of the Healthy Forest Initiative.

Four of your grandchildren read tributes from dignitaries like Henry Hyde and Newt Gingrich. But it was the tributes of those who knew you best, those with less at stake than Hyde or Gingrich, like Ron Paul and Todd Tiahrt and your son-in-law John Keenan, that would have touched you most, I think.

There were themes: Your grace, your respectfulness, the love and kindness that you approached everyone with--even your enemies. The passion and frankness that inspired your voters; the unwavering faith in God that inspired your friends.

Everyone was there. Former staff members, like Chief of Staff Keith Rupp ("I always knew I'd come out for her funeral. I just assumed it'd be 2o years from now."), flew in from far and wide. Afterwards we swapped stories and raised a ruckus. As per usual. Only you weren't there to stop us.

We were stoic until they rolled the video tribute. The images of you--as a child, as a mother, as a grandmother, in three tumultuous elections, in Congress, in retirement, on the ranch, with Wayne--lept to life. For once, The Idaho Statesman got it right.

Idaho already feels empty without you.

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We rest our case

Here are links to the three recent obituraries Patricia Sullivan has written since Helen Chenoweth-Hage's. Bet you can spot the distinction between Helen's and theirs within 20 seconds...

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Life must fall somewhere between believing that circumstances are divinely ordained, miraculous even, and feeling utterly alone in our choices. I fail to see how it can be only one or the other.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Faith in Action

If you're a regular reader, you'll recognize the signature of a frequent commenter, GTB.

He is a favorite of ours, primarily because it is an honor to have such a distinguished writer and poet haunt this quiet little corner of the Internet (to say nothing of his jewel of a daughter that reads, too).

I know he would agree that Christianity is the hardest thing in the world. And the most blessed. She is at her loveliest when she is most Christian, most like Christ: discovered in the posture of loving service. Oh that God would grant such a heart to me.

Mr. B illustrates in his token manner.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

"They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts."

White supremacist was not among them.

Ms. Sullivan replies, and there is so little that is true, commentary would be superfluous.

Ms. Barbour,

Thank you for your note. I'm sorry you did not like the article but perhaps you are not aware of how obits are written at the Washington Post.

[snip]Since there are so many ex-congressional representatives, and most of them seek an obit in the Post, we always ask what made this Representative stand out among the other 434 members of her time? For Rep. Chenoweth-Hage, it was her support of the militia after Oklahoma City, the "black helicopter" hearings, her colorful quotes about endangered species and her proposal to ban federal agents from federal land. I would also add in her comments about the racial makeup of her district, which were common sentiments expressed by some of the anti-Semitic and white supremacists in the militia movement. I didn't mention, as the New York Times did, that she supported the states rights position of the South in the Civil War. All these positions paint a picture of a woman, a member of Congress, who held beliefs far to the right of not just "middle America" but of traditional Western conservatives. I lived in western Montana for 11 years, and covered the militia movement for a significant portion of that time, so I have some familiarity with these topics.

This note may not change your mind, but I hope it gives you additional information. Thank you for writing, and reading.

Patricia Sullivan
Staff Writer
The Washington Post

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A Death and an Outrage

Have you stumbled across the "obituary" by Patricia Sullivan at the Washington Post? There goes five minutes of my life I won't get back.

Even in death, her opponents cannot bypass an opportunity to mock and malign her. Now one reporter has does so under the guise of penning an obituary.

Helen would have anticipated this, I suppose.

Did you read it? Aren't you offended by this nonsense? I urge you to write Ms. Sullivan (click here). Death is not the time to sling mud.

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The Idaho Statesman is waxing sentimental

They are remembering Helen Chenoweth Hage, a political figure its editorial board criticized, ridiculed and never endorsed.

"The political debate will be a little more tame and a little less interesting without her. Things feel emptier already." In death she has become an icon, a woman "always true to [her] beliefs and never dull..."

At times, Chenoweth-Hage was a contrarian voice of common sense. "Our borders are wide open and yet they're shaking down a 66-year-old white grandmother they greeted by name," Chenoweth-Hage told the Statesman's Dan Popkey in 2004, criticizing a federal policy on airport pat-downs. "There shouldn't be that kind of search without reasonable cause."

For a moment I try to imagine Helen's reaction to this tribute.

Love many.
Trust few.
Always paddle your own canoe,
she told me.

I doubt she would trust the Statesman now. But true to her style and character, she would thank them for being gracious and respectful, if not a bit late.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Non-political; non-inflammatory quote of the day:

From my 3 year old at dinner time, holding his cup of grape juice: "Dad, did you know there are some houses that don't have purple juice??"

It's all relative my friends, it's all relative . . . .

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She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It's a name for a girl
It's also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything

Grace, she's got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She's got the time to talk
She travels outside of karma
She travels outside of karma
When she goes to work
You can hear her strings
Grace finds beauty in everything

Grace, she carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips
She carries a pearl in perfect condition

What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things"


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Thursday, October 05, 2006

"So I walk upon high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below.
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down.
'Cause it's the world I know.
It's the world I know."

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A Book Club for Bloggers

Speaking of Velvent Howitzers, Julie at Lone Prairie has helped launch an online book club.

"The first book, the book for the month of October, is posted and ready for you to read and discuss. It is, of course, A Canticle for Leibowitz in honor of the blog post that I wrote that got the ball rolling. I've posted some thoughts and questions I had in reading the book, and I will likely add more as they come to me. "

I remember when my book club read A Canticle for Leibowitz. I never really read much in my book club. In fact, I didn't go.

"If you are interested in taking a more active role in the blog as far as helping select books, post the monthly discussion on the book, and help out with the blog in that manner, let us know. We'd love to get as many involved as we can. If you're a blogger, perhaps you would consider spreading the word on your blog. That'd be really swell of you."

I am pretty swell.

Click here for more.

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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Velvet Howitzer

My former boss and friend, Helen Chenoweth-Hage, was killed in a car wreck in Nevada.

A woman of supreme character and warmth, she was probably the most misjudged person I have known. Maybe in her death her friends and enemies will meet to salute the tender-hearted, tough-as-nails Congressman and listen to the story her example tells and let go the rancor.

A few of us knew her. We'll be thinking of ways to remember her.

See you on the Other Side, Helen.

ADDED: In case you haven't yet, go the comments. There are the stories there that I had hoped would be told.

And Ms. Lane brings Mrs. C. back to life.

MORE: The Washington Post rakes us through the mud with a bitter, classless article that wouldn't pass for anything less than a scathing editorial in any magazine other than the Post.

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