Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Mornings

Almost every Friday I get a challah from our local bakery, Silver Moon and when I get one in the morning, when it's still warm, I have to walk in the door and put the challah down sloooooowly. The way it feels in my hands, the smell of it, there's nothing like. I literally want to bury my face in the thing. The whole Challah experience is really the thing that lets me know some sacred time is on the way, even if by "sacred" I mean I'm going to make a meal I know we're all going to eat.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The State of the Union?

The news in this post by Conor Friedersdorf (spell that ten times fast!) on Sullivan's blog isn't good, but it's worth reading.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Bookstore

Early this morning I was working on, well, my novel. (I've never said that out loud on this blog but I've been writing a novel and I'm trying to finish a revision before I start school. I digress.) So I was working on the novel and I came to a scene where my heroine, Lauren, is imagining someone in a book store picking up a book with her name on it. And then I thought, "My god! What are we going to do when we don't have bookstores anymore!" I admit it, I panicked. What ARE we going to do?

The E-reader is really here and electronic books -- they're exciting, they're light, you can take them anywhere as long as you have a plug for recharging. But how will you find new books if you never wander along a bookshelf? Granted a bookstore or library shelf can be overwhelming, but they're also exciting. You can find books you might otherwise never have read, books that would never get moved through the algorithm of "What else you might like based on what you've already bought." Our incredibly siloed world will only get more so and new writers will have an even harder time breaking through.

Of course, ever since I had this thought I tried to come up with an example of a book I've read recently that wouldn't probably pop up through one or another of my algorithms, a book that hadn't been recommended to me or that wasn't in a genre I'm very familiar with, and I couldn't. But still, you see my point. I know I'm just sawing at my violin when Rome is burning, but the smoke is so thick! I just love a book.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Here's to You, Mrs. Robinson

Last night I dreamed about election night 2008. It was so nice, even if I couldn't figure out why Barack Obama was driving a car without any secret service guys around. When I woke up this morning I told David about the dream, he told me that today is Michelle Obama's birthday.

Then we got to talking about getting new jobs, because Obama, of course, got a big new job in 2008, and then we started talking about how things probably weren't easy for the Obamas when Barack was an Illinois state senator in Springfield most of the time and Michelle was in Chicago working full time. David commented on how big a role Michelle Obama's mother played in their family life. And then I said this: "Imagine. If it weren't for Michelle Obama's mother, Barack Obama might not be president."

I think this might be true.

A million stars have to align for anyone to become president, whether he has a funny name or a plain one, whether you're a WASP or African American or whatever. But on some level, for Barack Obama to pursue a political career, his home life had to be in order. For his home life to be in order, Michelle Obama needed help. And because they lived in her home town where her mom still lived, and because Mrs. Robinson was and is able to play a very active role in their family, Michelle Obama could turn to her mom and her mom could help their lives go. And look where they went.

Even before I had kids I thought of birthdays as celebration days for moms, too. So happy birthday, Mrs. Obama. And, Mrs. Robinson, we owe a great big thank you to you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Tiger Mother

Of course many friends emailed the Wall Street Journal excerpt from Amy Chua's book. I've said nothing about it, because, well, what could I say? That's nice for her, maybe too bad for her kids, who am I to say what's what and I'll remember not to think my kids are vulnerable ALL the time. It is our great good fortune that Marjorie Ingall has written something about the Tiger Mother situation. Something right on. Read it here.

This Morning

So, I admit it. Last night, in my zeal to knit, I completely forgot about the President's speech and caught up with the nice cooks on Top Chef. It happens. Once reminded about it in an email ("did you watch?") I read it and watched a little today. Here's a round-up of reactions from serious bloggers the Daily Dish. I'll just say what my husband did when he finished reading the speech (he forgot about it, too). "Speeches don't get much better."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Conspiracy Theories and Crosshairs

Robert Wright has something to say about violent rhetoric and, more importantly perhaps, conspiracy theories. It's right here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention

A few months ago I read a memoir titled Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention, by Katherine Ellison. In it, Ellison describes what life was like for her the year she decided to focus on her older son and his ADD, a brain based disorder she shares. (In the LA Times, Ellison used "ADHD" to describe the condition she and her son have. For the purposes of this post, and the book, the difference doesn't matter.)

Buzz is one of the best memoirs I've read and one of the best parenting books. I haven't read that many ADD/ADHD books, but I'm guessing it's one of the best books about the disorder a parent or person affected by it in some manner shape or form could read. It's clear and honest about what it means to live with ADHD yourself and what it's like to try to help a child navigate life with it. In fact, my husband is reading it now and he read a line to me from it last night and I said, "I want to re-read that book."

Ellison is a wonderful writer and she portrays herself and her family members with compassion, grace, sarcasm, anxiety, and great good humor. She's no sugar-and-spice-and-everything-nice kind of mom; she is unafraid to show her nagging self, her impatient self, her demanding self, her worrying self. But she's so funny and real. She's trying really hard, like we all do. I wish I lived next door to her and I hope fervently that she'd like me. (Except that if I did I'd live in California and I'd have to drive everywhere.)

One of the most moving parts of the book is the year Ellison chose to pay attention to her son and his ADD (as well as her own) also happened to be the year before his bar mitzvah. The big event isn't the main focus of the book, but it's a big part of the family's story and it's so incredibly moving, well, I'm getting a little weepy just thinking about it. I won't write about what the bar mitzvah talk made me think about what I had to do for me and my family, but I will urge everyone to read this book. Even if you don't have a child with ADD or ADHD, there's something to be gained from wondering about the limits of equanimity and the role of the parent.

Note to Sarah Palin: Talk Matters

There will be a lot of people saying a lot of things about Giffords shooting and the role of the right and its rhetoric. Katie Allison Granju wrote a post on Strollerderby pointing out that if her kid said the things that Sarah Palin has said and put together a map with bullet targets on it, well, that could would be kicked out of school. I think that's something worth saying. (Plus it's short so it won't take long to read.)

Gabrielle Giffords herself made a similar point about the gun target map Ms. Palin offered America. See it here.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power of Reality TV

Reality TV can teach all kinds of life lessons. And, lucky for us, it might (fingers crossed!) also be able to end political careers.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Some News

So, here's an update from me. I'm no longer blogging for Strollerderby on Babble. Why? Because in a few short weeks I'll be going back to school, full time. The plan is that one day I'll be an elementary school reading specialist. My first step toward that is getting a Masters in Education/initial certification. I expect to continue blogging, but if a few more education posts start appearing, don't say you weren't warned.

Paper or Plastic?

In Marin County, they want to ban plastic bags and charge five cents for paper. Is paper better than plastic when it comes to its impact on the environment? According to Steven Joseph, it's not. Here's a quote from an article on the proposed ban:

He (Joseph) said an environmental report prepared for Los Angeles County concluded that negative impacts of a paper bag include 3.3 times more greenhouse gas emissions than a plastic bag; 1.1 times more consumption of nonrenewable energy than a plastic bag; four times more consumption of water than a plastic bag; 1.9 times more acid rain than a plastic bag; 1.3 times more negative air quality than a plastic bag, and 2.7 times more solid waste production than a plastic bag.

Did Whole Foods know this when they got rid of plastic bags?

For the whole article, which is well worth reading, go here.

Fences Might Make Good Neighbors

But they make for pretty bad immigration policy. Check out why. (The video is under a minute long.)