Monday, October 31, 2005

Bush, Miers, Affirmative Action

Of course President Bush doesn't like affirmative action. He, and many conservatives, consider affirmative action to be a quota system in which underqualified people get jobs they can't handle over more qualified candidates who have the misfortune of being white and male.

(Sarahlynn's snide aside: gee, that sound similar to another way that poorly qualified people get jobs they can't handle - cronyism.)

And you know what? He's almost right. Nowhere is Bush's version of "affirmative action" more obvious than with his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. If you nominate a candidate who is less qualified than other candidates just because she's of the appropriate race or gender, well, that insures that indeed "affirmative action" just sucks.

It also makes everyone else in the under-represented group look bad, as if this candidate is the best we have to offer.

Miers has not demonstrated the intellect or experience for the job. I'm not suggesting that she's unintelligent or lazy; she has achieved some pretty impressive milestones. But many of her biggest gains have been through "who you know" kinds of appointments rather that "what you know" appointments.

Just contrast her record with Roberts'. It's embarrassing.

I'm glad that she withdrew her nomination. More, I wish it had never happened. By nominating Miers, Bush made it look like there are no women who really have what it takes to be Supreme Court Justices, paving the way for his nomination of Samuel Alito Jr.

This year, with O'Connor's retirement and Miers' failed nomination, women took a big step backwards. So did affirmative action, which really is important and really does work, when it's understood and administered properly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Big Number

At some point today, this blog will host its 20,000th visitor. This is amazing, especially since it's under a year and a half old and I've set Sitemeter to ignore me. So, wow. If I could figure out how to tell who is number 20,000, I'd send you something cool from Northern Sun.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


When I say, "my boss," I am referring to any one of at least 3 layers of management. So if you were to hear me say, "My boss kicks ass," soon after saying, "My boss is a jackass," this would not be evidence of my fickle nature but rather a reference to two different people. But I don't post about work, so the issue will never come up. ahem.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Two Steps Forward . . .

What I love

Ellie is determined to learn to walk. For the last few days she's been standing up and walking to Paul or me over and over and over again, with a look of incredible pride on her face. She's getting much sturdier!

At yesterday's visit to the Audiologist and ENT, Ellie was more compliant with the behavioral hearing screening. She tested just below the normal range, and neither the audiologist nor the ENT were concerned. Her ears look good - no inflammation, no fluid, so they figure that the loud, raspy breathing from her cold (foreshadowing!) was probably keeping her from hearing the softer sounds. No surgery or sedated ABR indicated. Recheck in 6 months. Christmas came early!

It has begun. Last night Ellie had leftover garlic chicken mozzarella Alfredo for dinner. She's a big pasta and green veggies girl, not so much with the meat. When I was cleaning off her high chair last night, I found every piece of chicken larger than a pea stuffed into the drink holder. Why you little mischievous . . . I love it!

What I don't love

After our jam-packed weekend, my reserves were shot. So when Paul left on Sunday afternoon for a business trip, I was already running on empty. After two nights of Ellie's cold keeping us up (I told you!) I'm about to fall over. At about 2:00 this morning, I finally laid her down and told myself not to wake up unless she was screaming loudly enough to wake the neighbors. That would never work, of course, so it's very fortunate that she chose that very moment to finally sleep for 4-1/2 hours. I have my fingers crossed for a good nap today and a restful night tonight. I'm turning into Low-Patience Mommy, the toy all children want to return to the store.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


This was an intense weekend and we were busy almost every minute.

After work on Friday I had an appointment with my new OB/GYN (love at first sight!) then Paul and I headed out to a couples' wedding shower for a co-worker friend of mine. We left Ellie with my sister, who was visiting from Michigan, and my father, who graced us with one of his patented under-24-hour stays. We wish we could see more of him, but weekend visits are hard when Sundays are your big work days.

Anyway, Saturday morning was Ellie's birthday party. After naps, we headed out to Eckert's to pick pumpkins, ride rides, and eat a country dinner.

Sunday morning we went to another 2-year-old's birthday party, came home for lunch and nap, then headed out to the annual St. Louis Pug Party, made two trips to airport, and had friends over for dinner and The West Wing.

It was an insanely busy weekend. Perhaps most significantly, I started my period on Saturday morning, with all that implies.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Hammer

Here's why I don't think that the whole DeLay indictment is going anywhere.

I don't think that going after him for his ethical and financial misdeeds is wrong. In fact, I think it's the right thing to do.

But I don't think that it really matters. I don't think that people really care. We're so burned out on politics. Sure, what he did is wrong, but we've come to expect stuff like that. Those of us who've watched the news, or, you know, television, pretty much think that this is how business gets done in politics.

I'll vote for your bill if you give my nephew a job. Sleazy, sure, but this is the way the world works, right? It's not what you know, it's who you know, and all that. After Iran-Contra, the savings and loan scandal, Newt Gingrich, and yellowcake forgery, it's business as usual.

Plus, what he did wrong is pretty hard to explain simply. I mean, he didn't personally kill anyone (that we know of) or rape anyone (that we know of) and so some people listening to an explanation of Texas campaign finance laws might be thinking that, well, it all sounds pretty complicated so it's entirely believable that he just didn't know that what he did was wrong.

The part of the coverage that I enjoy most is when the media talk about how it took Democrats 40 years to become a bloated bureaucracy but it only took Republicans 10 years to accomplish the same feat and more. They are so very good at what they do.

Anyway, this is why I'm not enjoying the new season of The West Wing very much and why I didn't enjoy seeing The Capitol Steps late last year. I'm just so tired of it all. I can't imagine ever believing or caring as much again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Little One

Today, Ellie is two years old. Already!

She felt yucky Monday afternoon and wanted to be held like a baby. It felt so good to hold her like that again, even though her legs dangled way down where they used to fit snugly in my arms. Sometimes I just stand across the room and watch her. I love to see the wonderful little girl she has become, and is becoming more each day.

I have two cute Ellie anecdotes to mark the occasion.

First: We bought Ellie a little table and stool. I've started sitting her on the bench and serving her afternoon snack to her there. She loves it, and happily stays put while she's eating. After she finished her snack, she looked around for the best way to get out (she was pinned behind the little table). First she took her plate, cup, and toy off the table and gently set them on the floor. Then she shoved the table over. Very direct exit strategy! And, oh! The complex reasoning skills! She removed everything from the table before tipping it over. Amazing.

Second: Lizzi totally snitched on Ellie yesterday. Ellie said that she wanted me to read her a story, but then she got distracted by a reorganized toy box. I told her to come find me when she was ready for a story and went to the computer room to order a present for a friend. I heard Ellie coming down the hall and started to finish up my shopping. Then Lizzi came to the doorway and barked at me. She ran down the hall and barked again, then back to the doorway barking at me again. Lizzi barks at passersby from the front window, but she does not bark at the bedrooms.

"What is it, girl? Did Ellie fall down the well?"

I hustled off to see what Ellie had gotten herself into. Sure enough, I found that I hadn't latched a bathroom door securely, and all the toilet paper was in a huge mound on the floor, surrounding a perfectly happy Eleanor. Precious.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Disney Favorites

Every day, in every park, we each found something that we loved. And in the end, a few things stood out as our overall favorites from the vacation.

For Paul: Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney-MGM Studios.

For Ellie:
The Magic Kingdom: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party, and It's a Small World.
Epcot: Dragon Legend Acrobats
Disney-MGM Studios: Voyage of The Little Mermaid and Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage!
Disney's Animal Kingdom Park: Festival of the Lion King
And this was all pure love, people. She hasn't seen any of the movies, and the only character she "knew" was Eeyore, because daddy's a big fan so she's seen toy Eeyores and T-shirts. She was a little thrill seeker on the rides, wanting to go higher and faster. She fairly shook with excitement at the live shows. She tried to crawl up and join the Chinese acrobats. And she was terrified by a few things I thought she'd enjoy, like Fantasmic! and Mickey's PhilharMagic. She had a love-hate relationship with the characters. She was fascinated by them and wanted to go meet them. Then she'd sometimes freak out a little when they got too close. She was enjoying it all more by the end of the trip. And next time, I fear, we'll be in for a dose of Princess madness. Already, she chose a (plastic Mickey) bracelet and a (felt Eeyore) purse as two of her souvenirs.

For me: It's all food, baby. Restaurant Marrakesh and The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, followed by The Garden Grill, Liberty Tree Tavern, The Crystal Palace, and Flame Tree BBQ. And that's not even all of it, that's just the highlights.

But I don't have a problem (cough). Even though I know I couldn't stop, even if I wanted to. Which I don't, just so you know.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Disney Vacation

We had so much fun at Walt Disney World last month. Paul loved it, I loved it, Ellie loved it, and Disney loved us right back.

I think that late September has got to be one of the best times of the year to go. Because kids had recently gone back to school, the crowds were light. We never waited in line for anything for more than 10 minutes, and we got "priority seating" everywhere we wanted it.

Disney was introducing their new, all-inclusive dining plan, so by paying for our room and theme park passes, we got our meals thrown in for free as a special promotion. The money we saved by eating for free (Thanks, Disney!) we blew on a ridiculous quantity of loot. I am not usually a shopper, but I can wear out a piece of plastic when the mood strikes me. And when I'm giddy with magical happiness (at Disney World! with Ellie!); the piece of plastic is really just my "key to the world," not a real credit card; and the idea of money we must be saving on food keeps running through my head, well, here is the result (see figure 2).

There's a story about the NASA clothes, and it does not involve a trip to Kennedy Space Center. Paul shares it here.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Knock, Knock

Who's there?

Quiet Ines.

Quiet Ines who?

Quiet Ines blog.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Cost of Freedom

Today's annoyance related to magnetic awareness ribbons on cars:
Freedom isn't free!
This is more a critique of the message than of the ribbon itself. What on earth does that mean? Is it like those awful 9-11-01: We Have Not Forgot [sic] signs that one of our neighbors put up when we invaded Iraq?

I mean, I get this statement in the context of a World War II memorial. But why is it on cars everywhere all of a sudden? And what does it have to do with Iraq?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Adieu, Lexus

Some of you might remember Lexus from my kickass Bible study group.

She decided to leave the church because "politics doesn't belong in the church, and some here only preach love, tolerance, and acceptance to people who vote the way they think is right. Just because I don't share your environmental and social beliefs - I drive an SUV - " etc. etc. She left with an inflammatory email to the minister, clerk of session, and bible study leader, in which she admitted that no one "from the pulpit" or from our study group made any comments to her, but "others" did.

It's ironic, because at several points last year, I was considering leaving the bible study group because of her. I thought very seriously about asking the group leader to have a talk with her about keeping politics out of the group. Her opinions about poor people and abused women (they brought it on themselves) were more than I could bear silently.

In the end, I never said anything to the group leader (though I did speak up for the poor and abused women). And she left anyway, for a church where they wouldn't tell her how she should vote and what she should believe. Yes, she joined a local Roman Catholic congregation. So, I guess what she wanted wasn't a place where they wouldn't tell her how to vote, but rather a place that told her that she had to vote the way she already wanted to.

I have mixed feelings about her leaving. I'm glad she's gone because I think she was a bit of a toxic presence. But she was also a very active member of the church, who contributed a lot of good, and I'm sorry that she's gone too. I'm sorry that she never knew how she herself was contributing to the "political" atmosphere she decried, but glad that I never had an angry confrontation with her. A few days later, my strongest concern is that we'll bend over backwards over-compensating.

One conservative says that we're too liberal and judgmental, and no matter how far that might be from the truth in this particular case, we'll all try so hard to pretend that we're not - gasp! - liberal that, well, we just won't be. And that's too bad.

Because my liberal beliefs and my Christian beliefs are inextricably entwined. They are one and the same to me. And I couldn't belong to a church that didn't share my liberal beliefs. You know the ones:

The beliefs that really do preach acceptance of everyone. The ones that tell us not to be so quick to judge, to encourage compassion and empathy in our hearts and minds. The ones that tell us that our world is a gift to be treasured, not plundered and destroyed.

I try to be a liberal. And in this case I might succeed. Lexus, I hope you really do find what you're looking for.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Baby Talk

So that I don't forget these Ellie-isms when they go . . .

Ellie confuses some common words, largely because of the way we use them in our house. For example, towards the end of a meal we ask, "Ellie are you all done or do you want more?" rather than, "Ellie are you all done or do you want to eat?" So Ellie sometimes uses eat and more interchangeably. (She also uses "more" correctly in other contexts.)

A few weeks ago, Ellie loved her new stroller. Then we started singing a lot of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," and she's nailed all those body parts. So now when I ask her, "Ellie, do you want to go for a walk in your new stroller?" she looks up at me inquisitively and pats her shoulder.

My current favorite is milk. Whenever Ellie is thirsty, she asks for milk. If I offer her juice, she'll repeat it ("jzzzz") and make her sign for juice ("C" hand near the mouth). She flatly refuses to ask for water, though she will sip it when it's offered (she prefers to blow bubbles in water whenever possible). Still, her generic term for a beverage is milk. She emphatically makes the sign for milk, which involves closing a fist out in front of her, much like milking a cow. And she says, "Mup!" Sometimes it even sounds like "bup!" I'll ask, "Milk?" And she'll nod once, forcefully, and say, "Mup!"

Monday, October 03, 2005

Hello Again! Listen to me whine.

We're back from vacation. (Notice how I didn't tell you when we were going? That's my Internet skittishness showing through so you all did not come rob my house while we were gone; you could have gotten some impressive dust bunnies.) Our trip was wonderful, and I am going to blog about it, but first I am going to complain.

I have the flu. I'm already feeling a little bit better, but last night and this morning were . . . uncomfortable. And I don't think that Paul's got the right attitude about this. Now, I'm no angel of patience. I get irritated when he's sick; especially when he stays up too late and doesn't take his vitamins - if he's drawing the illness out, I have no sympathy. But the last time he was really sick, I took care of Ellie all day and let him lie abed to recuperate. Also, I made homemade chicken noodle soup.

Last night (through this morning, until I finally had the stomach to clean it all up myself) Paul left Ellie's offerings in (and on) the potty chair for me to peruse during my many trips to the bathroom - just want I wanted to stare at while I'm nauseous.

Paul's a morning person while I'm not, so he usually gets up with Ellie, feeds her breakfast, then brings her to bed to wake me up so that I can go nurse and dress her for school. He did the same this morning. I thought this was less-than-thoughtful, especially as I'd been up most of the night trying to lie still enough to appease my roiling stomach.

I thought he'd get the picture when I commented that I just wasn't up to being a human jungle gym this morning. He pulled Ellie over to the his side of the bed, then proceeded to play all kinds of loud games that involved bouncing on the bed. Ugh.

I feel all kinds of virtuous for mildly commenting that I thought she'd be happy to play quietly in her room while he showered (hint: leave!) rather than killing him on the spot. I didn't have the energy anyway.