Monday, October 31, 2005

I read a book! I read a book!

I love to buy books, but don't often make the time to actually read them. (Far too busy reading blogs, dammit.) This month, though, I read a new book, Dan Savage's latest: The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family.

Savage, of course, writes the internationally syndicated sex advice column, Savage Love, and wrote the incisive and entertaining book Skipping Towards Gomorrah.

In his new book, he examines the issue of same-sex marriage as he and his partner Terry wrestle with the idea of getting married (or getting "Property of..." tattoos) as their tenth anniversary approaches. Savage also looks into the general institution of marriage, the conventions of monogamy, and the real-life marriages, divorces, and relationships in his family. Although many of the reviews have focused on the issue of gay marriage, I thought the book had just as much to say about the meaning of plain ol' straight marriage.

I strongly recommend The Commitment to anyone with an interest in love and relationships, straight, bi, or gay. Buy it, check it out of the library, or borrow my copy—but read it. I could ramble on about the book, but I'd rather you just read it yourselves, okay?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mr. Tangerine strikes again

When you blow your nose, do you ever take a look at the tissue to see what you're dealing with? Sure you do. If you check a baby's dirty diaper for color and consistency to monitor his health, why wouldn't you give your snot a cursory inspection as well?

I have a slight cold, so when I blew my nose last night during the baseball game, I had a little look-see. "Are you reading tea leaves there? Can you predict the future?" Mr. Tangerine asked. This made me laugh. Hard. Did you ever try to blow your nose while laughing? I daresay it's impossible. (Is his comment riotously funny, or is it one of those "you had to be there" things? 'Cause I couldn't stop laughing.)

Anyway, I took a good close look at my used Puffs, but it did not reveal the outcome of the ball game. What good are boogers if they won't tell you the obvious, that the White Sox would win Game 4? Sheesh. I've got to work harder on this prognostication thing.

I think Ben may be able to tap into these powers, too. When he wipes his butt, he always swipes the paper all the way around (I know: ack!) so he can see what he's working with. I'm going to start asking him to foretell the future in the poop smears on the TP.

Join us, won't you?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why I don't buy my kid toys at Wal-Mart

When Ben was home sick for a few days last week, he watched a lot of TV (because I'm a good parent!) and thus saw a lot of commercials. One of his favorite advertised items was a big green car that kids can drive on their spacious suburban lawns, and the car is a Wal-Mart exclusive (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?). Every time the ad came on, he said he wanted to buy that car at Wal-Mart, and every time, I told him we don't shop at Wal-Mart (aside from the fact that we don't have room for a car that size and he wouldn't have a good place to ride in it, us being urbanites and all).

Why don't we shop at Wal-Mart? Because when I read this NYT article, my eyebrows were often arched sharply upward and my mouth was agape in response to what I was learning. Wal-Mart's executive VP for benefits, M. Susan Chambers, wrote a memo to the board of directors with her suggestions for ways to minimize benefit costs. Chambers had a lot of creative ideas to convey. Like adding physically strenuous work to every job description to keep those expensive unhealthy people from even applying for jobs. (Cashier? Excellent job for someone with limited mobility. Cashier who also is required to gather up carts? Those with a bad back, bad knees, or mobility problems need not apply.) I'm sure Wal-Mart could find a way to get around the Americans with Disabilities Act, but could they be bigger assholes?

As at most employers, people with more seniority get paid more than new employees in the same job. Many employers like to reward loyalty and minimize turnover. Wal-Mart's Chambers points out that someone with 7 years of experience costs the company 55% more than a new employee, but is no more productive a cog in the Wal-Mart machinery. Sacre bleu! At least, the NYT reports, "she stopped short of calling for efforts to push out more senior workers."

In the memo, Chambers did acknowledge that "our [health] coverage is expensive for low-income families, and Wal-Mart has a significant percentage of associates and their children on public assistance," and that 46% of the children of Wal-Mart employees are uninsured or on Medicaid.

How about that new health plan Wal-Mart ballyhooed this week, the one that costs the employee as little as $11 a month? Keep in mind that employees signed up for this plan could face $2,500 or more in annual out-of-pocket expenses, on an income of $17,500. But whatever plan the employees manage to afford, "The memo noted that 38 percent of Wal-Mart workers spent more than one-sixth of their Wal-Mart income on health care last year."

I do feel fortunate that my closest Wal-Mart is a lot farther than multiple Target stores and Costco, and that I can afford Target prices. Makes it a lot easier to be a pollitically correct shopper...

Monday, October 24, 2005

I know what you like

What captures the fancy of the Orange Tangerine crowd? What brings out the commenters in droves? Three things, apparently: sandwiches, boobs, and toilets. Are you proud of yourselves? Often only one or two of you respond to something Important, but sandwiches? Everybody's got something to say. That's fine, really. I don't mind. But if this blog became a three-topic site—Orange Tangerine: Eat Sandwiches, See Boobs, Poop—would my traffic soar or plummet? I like to think y'all love me for my mind, and I'd appreciate it if none of you would disabuse me of that notion. (My vote for most horrifying sandwich from the previous thread: peanut butter and mayonnaise. And I love PB. It's the mayo combo that is so off-putting.)

You don't seem to love the puke posts quite so much, but I've got one for you anyway. Ben is a savvy, smart kid who likes to figure out how to work the system. Since kindergarten started, every now and then he asks, "What if I throw up at school?" He's just trying to figure out what he has to do to get a free pass to stay home from school. (Even though he enjoys school, particularly the hot lunches.) I was determined to send him to school on Friday, after he'd spent three days home from school with a fever, cough, and laryngitis, and had advised him of this Thursday evening. So Friday morning, before he even got out of bed, he asked, "What if I throw up?" Two can play that game; "They'll see if you're really sick to your stomach and going to throw up again, and if you're really sick, they'll call me and I'll pick you up. But if it's just a one-time thing, you'll stay in school." (Probably a total misrepresentation of school policy, but I don't want to encourage him to try to outwit me vomitously.) He got out of bed, walked to the bathroom, looked in the mirror, made a dreadful face, and proceeded to throw up in the sink. Without even gagging himself! Just by thinking about it, the kid made himself throw up! (There is no limit to what he can accomplish in life with will power like that.) I assured him he was fine and gave him cough medicine and ibuprofen. He brushed his teeth, got dressed, and went to school. He was totally fine after school—running, scampering, and whatnot. (The footnote is that then he started having this incessant dry cough that led to repeated mini-pukes the last two evenings, but hey, it's totally unrelated to the make-a-face puking.) Apparently he even told his teacher that he'd thrown up, and he reports that she replied, "Oh, okay." I can't believe I didn't get a call from the nurse's office after that, but I imagine he was acting so perky the teacher didn't think he was any sicker than I did.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Recipe blogging!

We went to a family party this weekend where the entrées were rigatoni and Italian beef sandwiches. Ben loves pasta—indeed, noodles of all kinds—but he was also drawn to the sandwich rolls beside the pot o' beef. He insisted on having his pasta in sandwich form, asked for seconds, and then had another pasta sandwich for breakfast the next day.

Pasta Sandwich


1 sandwich roll
1 scoop of pasta with sauce


Spoon pasta onto roll. Serve.

Of course, there are many other sandwich options to suit every taste. As a kid, I liked a good ketchup sandwich: ketchup spread on white bread. A friend of mine reports eating mayonnaise sandwiches. And you can't beat the simplicity of a butter sandwich.

What's your favorite nontraditional sandwich?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Drat, do I have to support American Girl now?

Although American Girl started off with the promise of girl-centric books, I haven't been a fan of the product line since downtown Chicago became infiltrated by hordes of well-off women and children bearing American Girl Place shopping bags filled with overpriced dolls and matchy-matchy clothes for girls and dolls alike. And the concept of special seating for dolls at the AGP restaurant? Ick. Whenever I encounter yet another group of AGP acolytes on Michigan Avenue, I express gratitude that I don't have a daughter and will probably never be beseeched, wheedled, or cajoled into going to the mecca that is American Girl Place.

The American Girl company now faces a boycott by Don Wildmon's American Family Association and Ann Scheidler's Pro-Life Action League. Why? Because American Girl is raising money for Girls Inc., a nonprofit group whose stated mission is "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold." So what's the problem? Scheidler says, "While Girls Inc. has some good programs, they also support abortion, oppose abstinence-only education for girls, and condone lesbianism." Lawd ha' mercy! Not that!

Girls Inc. has been around for 140 years and serves 800,000 girls, most of them from low-income families. They also support women's rights. According to their website, "Girls Inc develops research-based informal education programs that encourage girls to take risks and master physical, intellectual and emotional challenges. Major programs address math and science education, pregnancy and drug abuse prevention, media literacy, economic literacy, adolescent health, violence prevention, and sports participation." How controversial!

Now, you can buy all the American Girl dolls you want, but the money that goes to Girls Inc. is from their sales of "I Can" wristbands. Why not save yourself the trouble of buying another rubber bracelet and just donate to Girls Inc. instead?

Another grand idea: Mr. Tangerine asks, "Where's the American Boy Place?" He wants a place he and Ben and a doll can go, all three of them wearing matching outfits. That would be lovely, wouldn't it?

Master plan progress report

According to a new Gallup poll, hardly anyone under the age of 30 is opposed to interracial dating. While less than half of the old farts over the age of 65 approve, 95% of the 18- to 29-year-olds do. Roughly half of the people surveyed have dated outside their own race. Go check out the stats in the article if you don't believe me.

Phase 1: Acceptance of interracial dating. Status: Nearly complete.

Phase 2: More interracial marriages. Status: Work in progress; pockets of resistance remain.

Phase 3: Creating a superrace of multiracial people*. Status: Hey, I did as much as I could. It's up to the rest of you now.

*'Cause everybody knows that mixed-race kids are, on average, at least 40% better-looking than their parents, not to mention they've got a greatly reduced risk of genetic diseases.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Wow, that's a lot of repression

Over at Tertia's blog, it turns out that a lot of people would rather do things like constipate themselves for two weeks than generate a #2 in the same household as a romantic partner. Tertia used to race home from her future husband's place on the freeway to get to her own toilet, and still demands bathroom privacy. There are people who refuse to poop at someone else's house, or anywhere away from home. There's a woman who was too embarrassed to get out of the bath she was sharing with her man when she had to pee, so instead she peed in the tub and turned the water yellow (nice!). I never once heard my dad pass gas or burp, and there were two results: (1) wicked halitosis, and (2) early death. I'm telling you, the heart can't take so much stifling. It's not healthy.

On the other hand, some couples will have farting contests, I learned in Tertia's comments area. Somebody else has a mother-in law who is "so proud of her farts, she'll walk into a crowded room, say loudly, 'Your attention, please! A moment of silence!' She'll fart, dramatically, then say 'you may now continue,' and leave." (That woman is my hero.) There's one woman who farts in front of her husband, which distresses him, but she's doing it to avenge his farts.

We're a pretty relaxed family here in the Maison Tangerine. Those of you in the total-repression camp, I beg you: Loosen up before it's too late. Now, I'm not saying you should pull the Dutch oven trick or anything—that's just cruel to your bed partner—but life is too short to be all angsty about tooting and depositing logs.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Oops, she did it again

Remember the evangelical Christian couple that was featured on a cable show, "14 Kids and Pregnant Again!"—the Duggars from Arkansas? Julie at A Little Pregnant had a nice write-up of the show back in February. Well, apparently the Lord wanted Michelle Duggar to have yet another baby, because kid #16 was born this week.

What do you reckon over a dozen pregnancies and deliveries does to a woman's body? And is there any chance that Jesus will see fit to bring on early menopause?

As is the Duggars' wont, they went with another J name (though one of their past choices is arguably not really a J name), giving them this lineup: Joshua, 17; John David, 15; Janna, 15; Jill, 14; Jessa, 12; Jinger, 11; Joseph, 10; Josiah, 9; Joy-Anna, 8; Jeremiah, 6; Jedidiah, 6; Jason, 5; James, 4; Justin, 2; Jackson Levi, 1; and newborn Johannah. I'm not sure the household needed a Johannah when they already had a Joy-Anna, though. Or a Josiah on top of Joseph and Joshua. If the Lord doesn't serve up a timely dose of menopause, I really hope the Duggars get to use some great J names they've neglected thus far. Jehoshaphat, for one. Jezebel. Judas. Jethro Tull. Jemima. Job. Jibberish. Jesus. Not to mention a Jim Bob Jr., named after the dad, because that would be a proud legacy to carry on.

For all the infertile people who are told that maybe it's God's will that they not have children, ain't it lovely that the Lord is giving their allotment of children to the Duggars instead?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Blogroll additions

Okay, I don't have time to both tell you about these bloggers and add them to the blogroll template, so for now, I'll just tell you about some men who merit your attention. (I'll do the women another day.)

Michael Bérubé Online: Michael Bérubé's a liberal professor of literature and cultural studies at Penn State. He's a brilliant writer and can be savagely funny. I admit I skip the deeper theory and academia posts, but there's so much more. Plenty of politics, plenty of life in general, all adroitly described. My pal Kristin's Sexy Mind concept is displayed aptly in Michael Bérubé. I forget how I first chanced upon his blog—maybe via comments at Bitch Ph.D.? The comments at Michael's site are packed with smart people, so they're a good read, too.

QWMaine: Maine is smart and he always makes me laugh. Who else covers all-important issues like pythons trying to eat alligators, the sociology of Waffle House, and much, much more? I liked his comments on Mona's Barbaric Yawp and now check his site just about every day. Sometimes several times a day.

The Assimilated Negro: He's just a baby—only been blogging for a month—but he's got him some chops. Chops with the hippity-hop, to boot. He came recommended by Maine (see above).

Big Monkey, Helpy Chalk: Rob teaches philosophy out east and writes about ethics, politics, and sometimes the female orgasm (I don't know why, as I haven't read his 11-part series on the topic yet). I followed him home from his comments over at Bitch Ph.D.

It all makes sense now

You remember that dream I had a month or two ago, in which I ended up playing volleyball in the pool with a wet t-shirt? And I didn't know what it meant?

I may be clairvoyant.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hello, I'm back

Best invention ever: DVD players for cars.

Remember those long, boring hours driving cross country on vacation when we were kids? Playing roadside bingo, getting carsick from trying to read? Seeing this great land of ours through the car window and realizing how dull the vast majority of it is? (And I love nature, I do. But let's be honest: One hour of Midwest often looks a hell of a lot like the previous hour of the Midwest.) The endless "When are we going to get there?" whines?

And now, you bring a bunch of movies and the kids watch them, sitting quietly, thoroughly entertained, and the grown-ups can talk. The grown-ups are still left to note such highlights as exotic license plates and what color cows that farm has compared to the last herd we passed, but at least the whining is greatly reduced. Technology rocks.

Observations: Not only do I have some issues with the treatment of livestock much of the time, but I also have issues with the smells that emanate from the farms with animals. A handful of sheep stink plenty—I hope I never have the opportunity to smell one of those vast factory farms with pigs. There are those who say big cities stink; to them I say, I will see you a garbage truck and raise you the manure from a herd of cattle.

Here is one bizarre thing from my trip: My mom, my sister, and our kids had dinner at Applebee's in a farming/meatpacking town in Minnesota with some old family friends. We fought over the check and my family lost the battle, so my sister offered to leave the tip. Our friend chided her for trying to leave a generous tip: "You're not in a big city here. It's different in small towns"—apparently, in small towns, people tip like cheapskates? Anyone familiar with this rural tradition?

It is good to be home.

Friday, October 07, 2005

See you in a few days

I'm heading out this afternoon for an extended-family trip. I can't say I'm looking forward to the water park, or to the theme park at the Mall of America, or the many hours of driving in a vehicle with three kids, but I'm sure Ben will have a fantastic time. It'll be great to finally see my friend K.'s house in Minneapolis (she's the one who's been keeping me supplied with Paul Krugman twice weekly since the NYT started charging money—the one who loves men like Hendrik Hertzberg and Charlie Rose), but I reckon I'll be jonesing for the internets and their many fine entertainments.

So. Until Monday night, be good, my dears.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Beautiful kids

Seeing the kindergartners playing together and lining up to go into school each morning is a highlight of my day. Gather together 160 kids of all colors, nationalities, and religions, and watch them interact as if they've never heard of bigotry, bias, and racism. See the spectrum of skin colors: the dark brown kids and the medium brown kids and the light brown kids and the olive kids and the pale-skinned kids all chase each other before it's time to line up; in line, the differences they note pertain to who has Spider-Man and who has Star Wars on his backpack. Even the diversity is diverse: the Asian kids include South Asians, mainland Asians, Filipinos, Asian kids adopted into American families, and mixed kids. The "African-American" kids include just that, as well as kids whose families immigrated from assorted African nations; there are assorted mixes in this group, too. As for the kids labeled as Hispanic, some speak Spanish at home, some speak English at home, some are black, some are various mixes. Even the white kids are a diverse group, with some of the kids hailing from European-immigrant families. (There's also a dad with horn-shaped jewelry in his piercings who shaves the top of his head. His daughter? She wears as much pink as anyone.) I assume that many different religious traditions are represented, too, though they're visible only on the Muslim girls who opt to cover their hair. And the kindergartners' families cover a range of income levels. The school enrollment forms ask parents to pick a single ethnic descriptor for their kids; what do you suppose the Peruvian mom and German/Chinese dad put down for their kid? Or the parents of an Asian/African-American kid? I hate the "pick one" forms; they're so retro, so inaccurate. But I love this school.

After Ben's tryout in the gifted class last week, they pronounced his work "not quite there." Ben was pleased to return to his homeroom, because (a) the gifted class's teacher gave handouts that were "too hard," and (b) he knew the kids there already. (And I'm glad he'll get the exposure to Spanish. "Buenos dias!" he tells me each morning) They tracked the kids into language/reading groups last week, and he's in the highest group below the gifted class (together with a few kids from his homeroom). For two hours a day, he's with a different teacher for language—and the boy is already learning about sentences! (He ended his name with a period one day.) Legible printing continues to elude him, but we're working on it. Someone was telling my mom that back in the day, kindergarten was for learning the ABCs and how to play well with others. Ben mastered that in pre-K, so I'm glad he's moving on to words and sentences. After that? Crossword puzzles. I have high hopes.

The first inkling of gentle anti-atheist bias has cropped up on a worksheet page. Ben was supposed to color in all the pictures of things starting with the letter A. He was going to skip the winged, haloed girl because he though the angel was a fairy, which most certainly does not start with A. Pfft! (I passed up the chance to explain to him what an angel is.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pony up, people

There has been a tiny clamor for me to post the photo I submitted to the Blogger Boobie-Thon. Sadly, a tiny clamor won't get a wet-shirt picture on this blog. I will need a more rousing clamor. Let's say...15 comments on this post. And each comment must contain a true confession. What do you say?

Celebrity baby name alert

According to this snarky report, Nicolas Cage and his 20-years-younger wife Alice just named their baby boy Kal-el. For those of you who are not geeks, Kal-el is the original Kryptonian name of Superman, from before he landed on Earth and got adopted by the Kents.

Poor kid. His middle name is Coppola, so it looks like he's really stuck with this Kal-el moniker.

If I ever had another baby boy, I would name him Mork.

No comment

This blog is listed third in the search results for the query can i eat orange while i'm pregnant.

And sixth for the query grandma sex preview page (the page hit here is columnist Clarence Page).

Okay, I'm doing it!

Two of my blogging pals, Lisa and Mona, have been known to post photos of their tremendous semi-clad bosoms. I've been contemplating joining their quietly exhibitionist ranks, but I kept sitting on the contemplative fence. But then Maine hit on the idea of alerting his readers to the existence of the Fourth Annual Blogger Boobie-Thon—the blogosphere sends in their chestal portraits, and the Boobie-Thon folks collect donations for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and, this year, the Red Cross too. You can view most of the pictures for free, but if you want to see the nekkid boobies, you'll have to pony up a donation.

I'm doing the Walk for Hope later this month, but dammit, I can do more! So tonight, Mr. Tangerine will help me choose the best wet-shirt photo to send in to the Boobie-Thon. It's for a good cause. Better yet, two good causes. (One good cause per breast.)

Anyway, the Boobie-Thon is going on this week and this week only (through Saturday, October 8). So far, they've raised about $3,700, putting them on course to match last year's total of about $8,700. So go visit Boobie-Thon, see some pictures, donate some money, and get the specifications for submitting your own photo (that goes for you men, too). Don't delay!

The Boobie-Thon photos are posted anonymously and link-free, though, so you won't know which one's mine unless I post it here too...