Sunday, December 21, 2008


It's blustery today. But you don't really expect any less from England - in fact, it's been quite mild.

Ryan and I have a deal. To use a phrase one of the evil hedge fund managers used to use, irritatingly all too often (read: at all), it's on the DL. So I'm certainly not going to publish it here.

Of course, Ryan'll probably read this and think, "What the hell is she talking about?" and then ask me, and then I'll tell him, and he'll say, "I don't remember making that deal."

The DL is where I was told to keep my insane "work"-related trip to Reno (loudly, so that everyone in the office knew that I was keeping something on this apparent "DL"). Out of some strange sense of integrity, I suppose I'd better not go into the details. Conversely, out of some strange sense of needing to get things of my chest I will enter some words that could be used in the formal description of the trip:

rude to the taxi driver
rude in general
supposed to be moving
"I can't wait to never go"
somewhat exciting
good story after all
...what's wrong with this country today and I can say that with utter seriousness and prove it, by using the current economy as evidence.
no artist I know would be caught dead there, even if it was part of an exhibit and I told them so
terrifyingly large
overuse of the word "burner"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Son House to the rescue: I get stared at on a train for an hour.

On the train from the Victoria station to Polegate, I had the very odd experience of being stared at for the entire trip. On the one hand, I think it's great that 19 year old boys think me attractive enough to stare at for over an hour, on the other hand, it was a little disconcerting to say the least, if not utterly distracting. Try reading a book when someone is literally leaning out of their seat staring at you. He moved seats 2 times to get a better view.

So, I fished my ipod out of my bag, found some Son House and stared out the window. To break the tension and relieve the boredom, I pretended to look suprised or interested at things outside or at the other end of the train, in an attempt to see if I could get him to turn his head and look at what I was looking at. It worked on several occasions, but the hard part was trying not to giggle in victory afterwards. I think he had just about worked up the nerve to say something to me when just around the time I had jammed my headphones into my ears, because as soon as I did that, he put his hands up to his face in an expression of utter defeat. Then he moved to the seat next to the one he was in (the second seat move) and continued staring at me through the space between the seats. At one point, he was leaning on the seats in front of him with his eye pressed up to that space.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For Nina's friend, Paul:

Someone found my blog using these search terms:

"Huell Howser, restraining order."

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Pirates Of The Caribean. Yes, it was terrible and I'm sorry I watched it.

I wish it was possible to make a film with loads of great special effects and awesome action scenes that didn't feature cutesy attempts at humour and irritating actors.

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Liberal Elitism

Call me a member of the liberal elite, but, well, um, duh (from Slate):

Places that went for Obama are richer and smarter than places that went for McCain.

I'm didn't just post this because I voted for Obama either. I'm not so delusional as to think that Obama is going to save the world like we all want him to. He did, after all, choose Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State. But still. A competent, well adjusted politician verses a past-it (who doesn't use email in this day and age?) toady* and his gun toting, uneducated hillbilly of a running mate who nobody (including the ) even likes?

*and before you even dare think the word "maverick" [shudder, shudder] and start claiming that he's not like other Republicans (he is, he really, really is), what kind of "maverick" allows this man to pick your running mate after being told "no" to your first and second choices.
Here are some pictures to calm you down.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Family

Wonderful though they are, are entirely and utterly predictable. I sent them an email several days ago, asking them what the want for Christmas. In my family, we have a tried and true method of wishlists. Everyone is responsible for submitting one and discussions take place between the other family members. No one ends up with something they didn't want or can't use. Sure, some of the spontaneity and creativity but that issue is mitigated by the fact that you get something you actually want.

So back to this email. I am leaving for England in a scant few days. I wanted to be able to get all my Christmas shopping done and be able to have sent the packages off yesterday. So I sent them the requisite email, then walked into Ryan's office and said, "I've just sent an email asking my parents and brother what they would like for Christmas, but I bet nobody replies."

Sure enough, 3 days later and not even a "Yes, sorry, I'll get to it later" response. Totally ignored.

The same thing happened at the beginning of the year, when I was trying get our trip to England in order - we were going for my grandmother's 100th. I sent out a long email about what dates we could go, how we would work out certain sleeping arrangements, what our tentative plan would be while we were there. Nothing. Nobody even mentioned to me that they received the email until I threw a fit about it.

I'm not really sure what to do, except not buy anyone presents.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Parsley Dumplings

me: Last night I made parsley dumpling soup.
MargoBee: ooh!
post the recipe? Please?
me: Sure.
MargoBee: I have parsley and veggies...
9:58 AM me: It's quite simple. Just start a simple broth and add your vegetables like you would any other soup.
10:00 AM While that's cooking, put 1 cup of flour, 1.5 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, about half a cup of finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Combine that, then add 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Then, after you're soup vegetables are cooked, drop golf ball sized blobs of the batter in the simmering soup.
10:01 AM Put the lid on for 5-10 minutes.
Then check them to see if they're done.
They should be puffed up and cooked through.
10:04 AM MargoBee: thanks!

Strange Things I've Found On The Internet

Well, to be fair, I did not find this thing on the internet. Ryan and I found it when we were standing in line at Michael's waiting to purchase a crochet hook. I don't recommend going to Michael's ever, let alone during this particular season but when you live in the middle of nowhere and it's them or Jo-Ann Fabrics for knitting supplies, you do what you have to.

I really needed a crochet hook to assist with the thumb making of a certain pair of gloves.

Anyway, we were standing in line when we saw a box containing this:
Now. You may ask what it is. Ryan did, even when he was presented with the name of the product: The Original Candle Warmer. For warming your candles. You know, the awful smelly ones that people inexplicably have in their houses (usually houses with valances). I always assume that they are there to cover up a worse smell. I assume the same about air fresheners. I find this category of product baffling - why don't you just clean your house regularly and possibly open a window every once in a while?

From the Candlewarmers website:

"From it's inception in December of 2000, Candle Warmers Etc. has dedicated itself to providing to the public a superior and safer way to enjoy scented candles without the need of lighting the candles."

"The only way to use a candle today is to use an Official Candle Warmers, Etc. candle warmer."

The only way to use a candle today is to not use it all, just let it sit around your house gathering dust and occasionally cooking it slightly on a hot plate, thus releasing the scent of sparkling cinnamon loganberry delight, which will almost completely cover the smell of your filthy, filthy house and no one will know that you haven't taken the rubbish out in over 3 months.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Today we went on a magical walk through icy, frozen Ithaca. We found, washed up on the shore of the lake:

A baby seat - I hope that it's contents had been removed before it was callously hurled in to Lake Cayuga.

A rock that had been engulfed by a tree - picture below

A DVD of the movie Noel, starring Penelope Cruz, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams - despite the fact that littering is terrible, I think whoever had the grace to hurl it into the lake must have been in the middle of a fit of public service. Have you even heard of it?

An oar - we discussed bringing it home and turning it into some kind of unique furniture piece or hanging it on our wall. I thought it would be a fun thing to keep in the bathroom to freak our our guests.

More pictures:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Arguing On The Internet: One More Entry Involving The LDS Church and Proposition 8

I came across this article in a Mormon person's blog - I was reading someone else's blog and this blog was linked to their blog. I think arguing on the internet is silly, which is why I did not leave a comment on the blog, but I do believe that ignorance is a terrible, terrible thing, which is why I chose to include it in my blog, with my own comments. The author, appears to have thought about the issue a great deal and I commend him for that. He also appears to have completely misunderstood what the issue was.

A crisp, cold vitriol is in the airwaves; must be an election year---and with it the caustic smell of heated brain cells. Good arguments have shaped this great Country; ideas that oppose in the extreme move actions that benefit the majority to somewhere in the middle.

[The word "country" is capitalised in every instance in this article. At first I thought it must be poor use of grammar, but on second thought, I realise that it must be some strange way of expressing beliefs, rather like when feminists use the word "womyn".]

And right now, we are in the extreme season waiting for more common sense on Prop 8 to blossom so we can all be friends again. The problem is not so much with media, but with the way we read media (or don’t). We tend to react to sound bites with fear, disgust, or self-righteous cheers (and jeers). It’s difficult not to react and vote emotionally. Scientists tell us that the Hypothalamus
[more poor grammar], the part of the brain that controls emotions has much more influence than the part of the brain responsible for logic and reason. That’s why men buy SUVs and women fall in love with men who do---logic might dictate that an SUV in Southern California is a waste of money, fuel, and environmentally stupid; and marrying a man that insecure and self-absorbed might leave the spouse of such longing to be cuddled.

[Actually, not quite. I'm not even going to bring up the argument that a lot of women buy SUVs, because while the author is oversimplyfying, I take his meaning to be "expensive, flashy cars". The reason why women are attracted to men with expensive, flashy cars is because they display perceived resources, the idea that he will be able to provide for offspring, much in the same way a peacock has a big flashy tail: a liability and waste of resources, but because of this, proof of the peacock's supposed infallibility. Things like being environmentally conscious don't really enter to the environment of evolutionary adaptiveness, so therefore can't really be counted as a reason why women should have better sense - they have perfectly good sense, evolutionarily speaking, as they are reading the cues provided to them with the tools that they have]

And yet those emotional decisions are made every day. Campaign managers know basic psychology-- a mediocre, emotionally charged campaign, beats a well-thought out, logical and reasonable campaign.

[Several months ago, I would have agreed. And then Senator McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate and Senator Obama won the election.]

Witness the Prop 8 campaign asking voters to say yes to legally defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Seems simple and logical enough: Men and women are biologically created to fit anatomically together to become “joined” as marriage defines. Now, that’s not to suggest that any other two or three or five people of any gender combination could never live happily and emotionally fulfilled together. It also doesn’t mean that a biological match makes an emotional one---that’s the mystery of love, and love and marriage do not always go together. But that’s not the point. We are talking about the meaning of words, and therein lies the bigger problem. The meaning of a word, one word can stall an entire judiciary system for years. A word can have so many meanings that it no longer means anything and needs an attorney to decide based on a client’s emotions.

Unfortunately, emotion leads many people away from civilities and mutual respect into using their personal beliefs to change laws that would better accommodate them whenever they feel threatened.

[I agree with his idea that "...emotion leads people away from civilities and mutual respect into using their personal belief to change laws..." but if the author truly understood the issue at hand, he might change his mind. Proposition 8 is exactly this, an emotional outcry that lead people away from civilities and mutual respect towards a change in California's constitution.]

At a little-league game we define those people as sore losers who “let their emotions get away from them.” Seems to be a lot of soccer-parents on both sides of the Prop 8 issue. And both are wielding the “Right to believe” stick; or “make it-fair-for-everybody” rule. Some are even absurdly comparing the issue to Women’s Suffrage and Equal Rights; an emotional sucker-punch if you ask me. Homosexuals may be discriminated against by individuals, maybe even communities (and for a time, the military
[I would argue are still discriminated in the military - how many straight members of the military are forced to live double lives?]), but there has never been a law on the books that prevented them from voting or sitting where they like on a city bus. No extermination order was ever issued against them [except Hitler's and Stalin's], as it was the Mormons.

[The addition of this last sentence seemed more self-serving than anything else - what have the Mormons, specifically, got to do with this?]

Hate crimes now merit a more egregious sentence and justice to all minorities is more attainable than ever before in America.

[So why stop now?]

Homosexuality even enjoys chic status among Hollywoodites, intellectuals

[What does he mean by intellectuals? People who read books? Is he referring to the words of Boyd K. Packer?]


[Well, they're just so emotional]

and on college campuses

[Seriously? Is he referring to LUGs?]

It’s hard to argue homosexuals being treated as second-class citizens when being out of the closet is so in. That gives the emotional victimization campaign about as much credence as “God will kill us all if we let gays marry” argument.

[This implies that homosexuals are homosexual because it's a fun fashion accessory. And while to Hollywoodites, intellectuals , artists and on college campuses , homosexuality might be accepted as just part of who someone is, that does not mean that the people in say, Provo, Utah, will do the same thing. The reason why one might think it's "in" to be gay, is because we live in a world where it is becoming increasingly more accepted and less of a big deal. So more people are coming out - people who would, in earlier times, have been forced to live double lives.]

A little common sense: Let’s have a look at the bigger and better things to worry about: Government. I know, it’s a nasty word right now given the missteps of our elected officials this past decade and again, that’s the point: They sent us to war, they failed to fight the war with enough resources, they failed to react to the worst natural disaster in our history; policies and pressure from both sides of the aisle plunged us into the worst economic depression since the great depression (few remember it, but many remember the scenes from Cinderella Man and don’t want to go there). It’s been a tough decade. Our government has failed us in many ways. And now we entrust them with a new definition and all the legal entanglements that will come with it?

[Once again, Steve, you've missed the point entirely. You complain about big government here and further on in your article, but what you don't understand is that Proposition 8 was about adding legislation. A vote against it is a vote against changing the California constitution. I can't understand how any self respecting republican couldn't see that.]

William Borah said: “The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments.” Well, I think we have been patient enough. Are we really prepared to propose a change in the definition of a word that will allow Judges and Legislators to parse meanings, create ever-burdening laws that clog our courtrooms and drain our tax dollars, our savings, our time---just to engage in the sophistry of “new definitions?” When will it stop? The slicing and dicing and diluting will only leave our passionate citizenry dispassionate, apathetic, cynical. When Bill Clinton was on trial for his moral misjudgments, he asked for a definition of “it”. What a bold obfuscation! Oliver North must’ve been his secret defense attorney---can’t you hear him: “No matter what, don’t make a point, or make one then retract it or retract a point of an unknown origin by definition of its locale in the present.” What a waste of tax dollars that trial was, what an exercise in obfuscation from everyone involved beginning with the crusade by Kenneth Star. Can you imagine the same type of trial being played out in courthouses all over the Country as they battle to apply a new definition of marriage to man and woman, but not with man and woman, and therefore what said parties of and/or are entitled to? What a calamity our judicial system will be if judges and lawyers and clerks are suddenly burdened with the task of redefining marriage, sexuality and all the implications foreseen, assumed, and perceived both publicly and privately.

[The only reason this would happen is because of the people who argue that homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. But I don't see how this is a reasonable argument for Proposition 8 - you don't want to vote against it because if it doesn't pass, other people will complain about it? I'm also confused as to how you equate grassroots movements to change a philosophy long held by this and many other governments to Bill Clinton sticking his cigar where he shouldn't have.]

John Adams wrote: “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” The same can be said of government.

[As it was, by John Adams when he said: "“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”]

Our system is already a Jabba The Hutt government---bloated, immovable, on the verge of cardiac arrest. Why feed it? Better to trim it down so it can get back to work for us.

[YES. So don't change the constitution. Exactly.]

Personally, and emotionally, I have enough faith in the American people that they will come to treat homosexuals as they deserve to be treated: with love, respect, dignity---much sooner without involving government intervention.

[By virtue of the fact that you belong to a church that breeds misogyny, misinformation and prejudice, I find it hard to believe that you are not, at least, naive, if not hypocritical.]

Now is the time to accept all human beings as human, to grant them the rights of legal companionship without imposing another redefinition into a governmental and judicial system already long-listed with frivolous lawsuits, absurd constitutional challenges and the clamor of self-interest groups. Now is the time for all of us, gay, straight, Christian, Jew, celibate, Atheist
and undecided [What an odd combination of categories!] to stand up for the bigger issue: we don’t want more laws, more interpretations, more filibusters, more sophistries. Now is the time to remember the words of Bob Wells: “For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.” The future of our democracy depends not on an appointed government, but on self-government. We can throw off the weight of an increasingly Orwellian system of laws and demonstrate our respect for each other without being ordered to. It’s time for homosexuals to stop acting like religious zealots,

[I think that it's time for religious zealots to stop acting like religious zealots. Also, I'm not really sure how homosexuals have been acting like religious zealots, any more than any person who feels that they have been wronged and then uses the democratic system of government to make a change such that the wrong will be fixed, is a religious zealot]

and religious leaders to go back to their core beliefs of love and charity toward others---more important than living and preaching a sinless life is loving all, even the sinner. It’s also time for all of us to be honest, to stop living the selfish lie… “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” (Oscar Wilde).

[Yes. So how is disallowing homosexuals to marry not imposing your way of living on others?]

The government is already in our pocketbooks and our facebooks. Do we really want them in our bedrooms? I’m certain we can come up with a solution that treats homosexuals fairly without spawning a Pandora department in the justice system and setting Gay rights back fifty years because of the resentment and reverberations this redefinition will cost. We talk about tolerance, but there are some things we should never tolerate: a compromise in our integrity, the abuse of power. Let’s also have little tolerance for the tyranny of stifling confrontations that would redirect our energies and our money into the bottomless sea of judiciary pontifications.

Emotionally, I wish prop 8 were only about being with the one you love---I’m all for that. But logically, I can’t see an already overloaded Justice [Again with the odd capitalisation!] system weighed down with the obligation of seeing to every lawsuit and counter lawsuit doing any community or individual any good at all---homosexual, heterosexual or otherwise. Common sense would dictate that before we take down any fences, let us be sure of what’s on the other side of the fence.

As obfuscation would have it, voting yes on prop 8 is a vote against a judicial Sisyphusean circus.

[Again, NO, it's a vote for it. It's a vote to change the constitution. That is more legislation, not less.]

So yes, let’s leave the definition of marriage the way it has always been, the way it is generally accepted in our society today so our judicial system and our public servants can devote their time to issues like Education, Poverty, Environment, and Taxes before there is a movement to redefine those words as well.

[Sure. Let's leave things exactly how they've always been and totally avoid progress in any way, because you don't want to deal with the paperwork. Redefining values, words, beliefs etc. is how people and countries grow move towards the greater good. Change isn't bad!]

--Steve Wunderli

Addendum, January 2009. The offending blog entry has been removed from the blog I found it on, instead replaced with a number of wedding photos. Did you know that Utah is ranked first in the nation for googling such terms as : "pornography," "naked girls," "striptease," "topless," "nude," "strip poker," "lingerie," "blonde" and "brunette"?

Friday, December 5, 2008

My favourite action hero: Huell Howser

When I lived in SB, I became a fan of Huell Howser. His grasp of the overtly obvious, his almost cartoonish mannerisms and accent and his terrible, terrible clothes. I love it when he does things he's been expressly instructed not to do. I could go on, but it's all summed up here in the Huell Howser Drinking Game.

Here's a clip of him talking to the border patrol - while the first bit is hilarious, what with the Mexican making a break for it while the interview is happening, make sure you continue to watch the whole thing, because the ending is classic Huell, with him repeating himself constantly while irritating/confusing his interview subject with inanity:


Here's some more Huell:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I remember when I first discovered Odetta. It was the first time I went over to John's house and he had this video of a big black woman with an unbelievably powerful voice. She strummed along, singing "Water Boy", her face curling and contorting and on the rests she would making this loud, barking noise like she was expelling all the air from her lungs. John kept rewinding the tape and we must have watched it seven or eight times. It was part of the beginning of my fascination with blues and folk Anyway, here it is via YouTube:

Here's some more:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Delicious Dinner plus an article about Pirates.

Apparently a cruise ship was attacked by Somali Pirates yesterday. I include this because everyone loves a good pirate story.
Tonight I was finally feeling almost well enough to make a proper dinner. My compromise was to use up not-quite-leftovers. I made a butternut squash gallette on Saturday for Thanksgiving II. Some of the filling didn't make it into pastry (as usual) so it lived in my fridge as not-quite-leftovers until this evening. I tossed the uncooked but sliced squash, apple and onion (already coated in butter, thyme, salt and pepper) in a baking dish with 3 cubes of homemade stock after preheating the oven to 400. While this was cooking I made some buttermilk biscuit batter, with the added deliciousness of cheddar cheese (I also periodically checked on the stuff in the oven, giving it a stir now and then and making sure that the everything was getting nicely coated with juices):

2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs cold butter
1/2 cup (or more) grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cup chilled buttermilk

I mixed all the dry ingredients thoroughly, then added the butter and cheese. I used a pastry knife to mix it all together until it was fairly coarse. Then I made a hole in the middle and poured in a cup of butter milk and started to bring it together. I found it too dry, so I added another 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Once it was a beautiful sticky dough/batter, I pulled the squash, apples and onions out of the oven (making sure they were done). I spread my batter over the top, making sure it was nice and even, pushing it up to the edges.

I put it back in the oven and did some dishes, interviewed a house sitter and then took it out (after testing it with a toothpick, making sure none of the biscuit topping stuck to the toothipick upon withdrawal). It was nice and browned on the top and the filling was bubbling and boiling. Delcious. Next time, I would prefer more filling, but since I made it out of not-quite-leftovers, I was a little limited.

This sort of thing can be done with all sorts of other stuff - just toss some vegetables in a baking dish with some liquid (the homemade stock works), some fat (olive oil, butter, etc) and flavour (salt, pepper, thyme - whatever goes best with your choice of veggies) and let it cook while you make the batter. You can make vegan biscuit batter by substituting soy or rice milk, so the whole meal could be vegan.

Hearty and theoretically, fairly quick.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Long Island Wal Mart Worker Trampled to Death

Umm.... this is just horrible. (That is a NY Daily News article).

Here's what Fox News (shudder, shudder) had to say:

"MINEOLA, N.Y. — A worker trampled to death when customers stormed a Wal-Mart for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving had no experience in crowd control and was placed at the entrance because of his hulking frame, police and a lawyer said Monday."

Hulking frame. Hulking frame.

I just don't even know what to say. This is just so ludicrously tragic.