Trouble Is A Temporary Thing

Fuck you, Jillian. My mother can catch a football, I can catch a football, and my sister Daria would kick your ass for thinking about reaching for the ball.

Dissing other women is NOT a great way to manipulate them into doing what you want them to do.

P.S. Wikipedia – indulge me, Poor Impulsives:

The enactment of Title IX has helped increase participation opportunities for girls and women in sports. Female high school athletic participation has increased by 904% and female collegiate athletic participation has increased by 456%.[21] An analysis of NCAA data shows that since the passage of Title IX, participation opportunites for collegiate female athletes of color have increased 955% (2,137 in 1971 to 22,541 participants in 2000).

A 2008 study of intercollegiate athletics showed that women’s collegiate sports has grown to 9,101 teams, or 8.65 per school. The five most frequently offered college sports for women are, in order: (1) Basketball, 98.8% of schools have a team, (2) Volleyball, 95.7%, (3)Soccer, 92.0%, (4) Cross Country, 90.8%, and (5) Softball, 89.2%.

In answer to the question “How many girls can do that?” where girls = female human beings under the age of 18, the answer is “A whole lot, more every year and fuck you, Jillian.”

Know When Or Where To Go

Jill breaks out some very exciting numbers that should make every person earning a paycheck sweat. Get ready to dab:

Many of us pay the employee share of our medical premiums with pre-tax dollars so that our taxable income is lowered by the amount of our premiums. If McCain wanted to stop this practice alone, that would be bad enough. But it goes beyond that. His “health care plan” would also treat the employer share of your health insurance premium as income on which you would pay taxes.

I just received my COBRA statement from my previous employer. The premium on my health plan from said employer is just over $1100/month for family coverage. When I was employed, I paid about $300 of that per month. Under John McCain’s plan, that approximately $13,000 cost of the health insurance plan would become taxable income.

Let’s say you are single, and your taxable income after deductions and exemptions is $32,000/year — not an unreasonable assumption for many working Americans who do not live in major metropolitan areas. Under John McCain’s “health plan”, your taxable income, if you had this insurance plan, would now be $45,000. So instead of paying about $4400 in Federal income tax in the 15% bracket (10% of the first $8025 and 15% of the rest, so his actual tax percentage is 13.75%), you would now be in the 25% bracket, and your Federal income tax liability would be $7594 (25% of the amount over $32,550 plus $4,481.25).

Now let’s take a higher-paid worker with the same plan; say, someone with a taxable income of $150,000/year. He’s currently paying $35,978 in Federal income tax (24% as an actual tax percentage. Under John McCain’s “health plan”, his taxable income is now $163,000. He just manages to squeak in under the $164,550 limit to the 28% bracket, so he isn’t bumped into a higher tax bracket. His Federal income tax is now $39,618 — a jump of $3640.

McCain’s “health plan” proposes giving these workers a $2500 tax credit to “help pay for the cost of health care”, which drops the tax increase on the $32,000 worker to $694. But that worker is still paying 2.1% more in taxes because the cost of the plan is now counted as part of income. For the $150,000 worker, this credit drops the tax increase to $1140 – an 0.7% tax increase.

So John McCain’s “health plan” is really nothing more than a huge tax increase on the middle class. The higher your income, the less of a tax bite you receive from having your health insurance premiums counted as income.

And that’s assuming your employer decides to keep providing health insurance.

This is about as important as an issue gets. I’m in a relatively secure situation and for me, this would mean choosing between health insurance and eating. I can’t imagine what it would mean to retirees on fixed incomes – or worse: I can imagine. We cannot allow this to happen.

Please read the whole thing.

And Antiquated Notions

I have no idea – zero – if this is a good idea or if somewhere, a bottle of tequila wonders what just happened. I will say that when I pestered Cablevision in vain to give me the NASA Channel a few years ago, I would have watched this all day every day just for the backup dancers.

h/t: MEW.

Burn My Shadow Away

Faster than I can hope to respond come things requiring responses. Some of these things are political, some not. I can’t write letters fast enough to suit myself, and sometimes I stop. Friday morning, I lay down on the couch and couldn’t get up until just about lunchtime. That’s okay, I was just watching Drusy stand on three legs and scratch the back of her head and I couldn’t do that, either.

It’s Sunday night. I believe the fever’s passed. What’d I miss?

Rockin’ On the Roulette Wheel

Desire is the craziest thing. You can want things for no reason you understand, but you can’t live without them. For a few days, the breeze smelled alternately like fresh air after a cleansing storm and bacon. I seldom crave anything heavier than melted cheese, which my every blood relative would eat off a garbage can lid, but a few times last week I caught myself wondering if the guy at the next desk might be better hickory or apple smoked.

Obviously, I wasn’t spending enough time with my garden.

I wanted a greenhouse the way other people want flat screen TVs, and one day last spring I got one. It’s like a plastic slip cover and wasn’t expensive. Pete built it in a snug spot against the house. It’s a lot smaller than it looks in the picture, above. Imagine our surprise, then, when we planted a few summer squash and a handful of spinach seeds in a big plastic planter, watered it between painting and moving and suddenly found THIS in the greenhouse. The dimensions of the shelf are 6′ x 1′. Double that, add a Y Axis and you begin to see the FEED ME, SEYMOUR aspect of this situation. Yesterday, I looked around for Rick Moranis. I mean, wouldn’t you?

All this foliage springs from this one planter. No, really! It’s two or three squashes, mushrooming in size, if you will – if you won’t, though, I’d get a machete. I’m not even stuffing them with plant food until they burp, but now that I’ve thought of it, that sounds like fun for everyone. I think I can terrify the neighbors with squash blossoms and Miracle Grow.

One point: these plants have produced more than a dozen blossoms and no squashes. We are thinking of ourselves as proud farmers of little oxygen molecules, and they are adorable.

In other news: a tomatillo plant someone gave us – was it Mom? was it Trout? – has taken over one end of the garden bed. I freely admit: this bushy giant surprises me every day. I’ve grown tomato plants since I could hold a shovel but I’d never grown tomatillos, so I planted this plant where a tomato would do really well. Good sun, good drainage, lots of water, but only about a foot and a half from anything else. Everything around it loves the attention of the bees but hates the bushy bushy tomatillo plant, which is threatening to out-produce the entire rest of the garden. Obviously, I adore this fantastic thing, which is now closing on seven feet wide.

I’m overjoyed! Next year, we’ll plant tomatillos again, and this time, they’re getting their own room. We’ll teach them to smoke and drink to stunt their growth. I’m hiding the car keys.

Friday Cat Blogging: Art In America Edition

The house needs a lot of work. I personally haven’t gone more than a day or two without paint in my hair since March, but the cats are new to this process. Tuesday, I primed a built-in shelf/cabinet whatsis in the bathroom that felt unpleasant to touch and impossible to clean properly. When I climbed down off the stepstool and started cleaning up, I discovered that someone was experimenting with a new medium down the hall and up the stairs to the attic. This is an extreme close up of a detail of the artist’s new work. Note the artist has eschewed classic signature technique for a more literal form of identification. Certainly, as a person who’d studied art for some time at an advanced level, I thought I would recognize the artist right away.

You know what you never want to see when you finish a project? Signs that another artist has touched your work. By the time I’d washed out brushes and put away drop cloths, I knew something was amiss. But what? I saw one experimental painting, much of which came up when scrubbed so I knew the artist was more interested in the performance aspect than the permanence of the canvas. When I examined both prospective artists and found both sporting sticky patches of art supplies, Pete said, “It’s bath time for our artists in residence.”

Everyone’s a critic.

Pressure on People – People On Streets

I’ve been walking to work again. It feels fantastic to get out of the car and into the sunshine. The Albany Street Bridge over the Raritan River is four lanes of car and truck traffic, a pedestrian walkway on either side of the bridge and crazy intersections on either end. The time across the bridge is probably three minutes max, unless it’s rained and travelers negotiate thoroughfare. So long as no more than two people walk abreast or one person meets a cyclist on the bridge, it’s fine. Fortunately, a lot of people walk and bicycle across this bridge. Unfortunately, humans walk at different paces and today, someone without a bell on his bicycle pedaled right up behind me to pass me on my right. I almost clotheslined him by accident, and I only like to be violent on purpose.

On the other end of the bridge, the messy intersection is not just dangerous, it’s a completely foreseeable accident waiting to happen. Immediately in front of me is the ramp from Route 18 N to Route 27 N, where the driver manual for this state would suggest this ramp constitutes a lane of its own, and it should be, except some wiseass put a stop sign on a stick. A friend used to say, “Stop signs are for people who don’t know how to drive.” In this case, a number of bad things happen here structurally that are merely amusing and uncomfortable, compared with the other side of the highway, where I expect to see gravestones line the riverbank any day now. On 25 June, I wrote the NJDOT the following love note. Watch as I pretend to be a Normal Person*:

To Whom It Concerns:

I walk or bicycle between Highland Park and New Brunswick daily. Hundreds of people do, many of whom use the trains to travel on the Northeast Corridor line. During the Route 18 construction, the section of Route 27 passing under Route 18 has become a dangerous, dirty place to travel. There are three separate spots where travel is very bad.

1. The ramp where Route 18 northbound where it intersects with Route 27 south is great for drivers. Everyone on foot or bicycle is subject to unstable surfaces, bad angles and arbitrarily placed signs. This leads immediately to:

2. A single-file width channel of wildly uneven surface where foot and bicycle traffic fight road conditions and lose every. single. day. I cannot stress how much I dread passing through this fifty-foot gauntlet. Someone is going to get hurt here, if someone hasn’t already. It would seem logical to try the other side of Route 27, since I have to cross to get to work anyway but:

3. Where Route 27 north intersects with Route 18 and Johnson Drive, someone on foot or bicycle is going to get killed. That stretch of road is so dangerous I wouldn’t let my worst enemy out of the car there.**

I would be delighted to conduct a walking tour of this site, should the occasion arise. The construction has gone on a long time, and will continue for the rest of our natural lives, so it seems. These little matters do not generate the kind of attention five-car pileups do, but that doesn’t mean a badly designed pedestrian/cycle path can’t cause the same degree of injury or death. These are real situations faced by people every day. Some of them are reparable. At least one of them (#2) is EASILY reparable. I hope you will take into quick concern the people for whom you’re building those sidewalks that go nowhere and put safe sidewalks where people actually travel.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I am certain I will be in contact with you again, possibly quite often.

Princess Tata

I signed the name on my passport, sheesh! But there’s more: this intersection sits no more than 150 yards from the office of US Representative Frank Pallone, and in no way can the staff be unaware of this situation. I’m certain of this because, before I started the big push to move about two months ago, I called his office weekly to ask what Mr. Pallone was doing about it. At first, the staff was dismissive. Several calls later, I made them an offer: send a letter to the DOT before someone gets killed because afterward grandmothers will call CNN and say, “He never calls, he never writes, he chews with his mouth open and he fucking knew because I told him it would happen. You look thin! You should eat.”

That’s no threat. I’m simply not that kind of gal. On a daily basis, I see whole families walk under that bridge and women push baby carriages. A highway sign promises construction will begin next Monday but last week it promised repairs to start on the 8th. These signs must be regarded with feelings of hope and dread: one of the unnamed university’s urban planners told me confidentially her department had to have a talk with the NJDOT about not closing the bridge totally because religious people cross it daily to attend services. The DOT had no idea. If not for the devout, hundreds of people who cross this bridge every day on foot or bicycle for other reasons would be out of luck indefinitely. What the hell? This has been going on for years. Seriously: what the hell?

*Stop laughing!

**And she is SUCH a bitch.

Out of Jesus You Could Make

Every Word of the Day from, which you should join and learn words because words are tasty, includes a snappy thought. Today’s example:

You can’t be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet. – Hal Borland, journalist (1900-1978)

I have been suspicious of a tree. It was a particularly menacing apple tree outside my bedroom window two blocks from where I live now, and never have I seen the like of it. In high winds, it practically glowered. On sunny days, I could feel its rage. One day, my boyfriend came home from art school and found me hanging out the bathroom window, snipping away at the tree’s most offending branches, though so many offended it was hard to reach highest dudgeon without a ladder.

Tata: I have to fix this so it can’t touch the house!
Him: Let me get the Polaroid. The gaze is masculine but paramedics will enjoy a photo essay.

Who doesn’t, frankly? Some time ago, I went looking for greener cleaning products. Larry, the little black cat no longer intent on stealing your soul, had feline leukemia and I had to be careful about in-home chemicals. Now that Larry’s gone to his fishy reward, I could polish copper pipes with hydrochloric acid if I felt like it, but why repeat antics? Anyway, Pete and I use this stuff to clean and moisturize the teak furniture Pete’s mom bought when he and I still had training wheels. It works fine, the scent is neutral, the wood looks content enough, but it’s nothing to write home about, as opposed to this –

– which is a REASON TO LIVE. Some time ago, we bought a bottle of this almond cleaner and used it in the apartment, which was very small and had a very tired looking floor, so perhaps any attention at all was a shock. The floor looked great and the apartment smelled heavenly. Suzette tried it and didn’t love the results. It seemed possible Method had reformulated – or something confusing: a second bottle we used at Pete’s house smelled okay, but the unvarnished floor was dull and the scent was nothing special. Then we didn’t see the product at that grocery store I terrorize and when we found it somewhere else, I opened the bottle suspiciously to smell what’s what.

Rapture, that’s what. Pete mopped the floor while I painted the upstairs hall on Sunday. Upstairs, I smelled almond oil, which was indescribably marvelous. I can’t say why this product may be alternately so-so and a gift from the gods, but so it appears. Before you buy it, give it a good sniff. It won’t make black light posters more exciting like chemical cleaners will. How does that fragrance make you feel?

Again Gonna Do It Again

Lost connectivity today, which was mostly okay because we wanted to paint the staircase hallway, straighten the screen door, sweep the foyer and the porch, air the rugs and clean up the garden generally after Tropical Storm Tillie, which tore leaves off trees and made muddy lo the bottoms of shoes. A great many of us have them, the poor, poor shoes. Though Friday night, I got some New Balance athletic scuffs with superlative arch support at Sears for 30% off.

Guess what color we painted the hall.


This Is Where the Party Ends

It’s been a long time since I saw anything this vile.

That clever man is a representative of the State of Florida on the floor of the Republican National Convention. I could go out on a limb and say that suit’s probably not this gentleman’s favorite evening attire, but why speculate about this one fellow when evidently more than one cognitively impaired douchebag thought this was excellent party gear? What is it?

It’s an alligator hat, with a likeness of Presidential candidate Barack Obama clutched between its jaws. I’ll admit: at first I didn’t recognize the image, since I’m from New Jersey, where we don’t know the difference between alligators and crocodiles because we know herpetologists who do, and they throw some steeeamin’ soirees. But ignorance of ignorance is a fleeting privilege, and this bliss left on the wings of Mercury.

I’ve lived in the South but I’d never to my recollection heard the words gator bait. What is this? Hunting alligators is dangerous. For a certain segment of the swamp-neighboring white population, it was a common practice to use black children to lure alligators out of hiding. How?

It is with regret and through clenched teeth that I inform you some people look upon this horror with such amusement and nostalgia that whole hosts of kitchy goddamn memorabilia exist to satisfy those longings for the Bad Old Days. And now, jackasses from Florida have aired this blot on American history as hilarious headgear. Not only am I proud to be an American in the twenty-first fucking century, but I am thrilled that no mainstream media outlet said shit about this to shame the shameless. It’s a beautiful goddamn world.

By the way, I’ve seen the fifties health film with the lady on fire. It warns against washing your clothes with gasoline.

No comment.

hat tip: Melissa, Petulant and InfamousQBert, who presumably have better hats.