Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Save the Ta-Ta's!

On the other hand (see below), this is an example of appropriate risque humor.

I can't endorse this organization since I don't know much about it, other than what Ta-tas says in its mission statement, part of which reads:
Ta-tas® Brand Clothing cares about women and their families. That's why we are committed to making a significant contribution in the fight against cancer. We do this by giving 5% of our gross sales to the fight against the disease. That means, with every sale, every item, every day, all year, every year for as long as we exist, we are fighting cancer from every angle we can. And since our launch in 2004, we have given almost $125,000 to the fight against cancer.
It's not a big company. But it appears to be a small company with a conscience. There's a lot of hilarious clothing and accessories on their website, so go check it out here, and be happy you contributed to a good cause.

Lusty Linda: Rape Ain't Funny, Fellas

Anybody seen this thing?

Well, with good reason, this "Lusty Linda" pencilholder is provoking the ire of feminist bloggers like Shakes and Jessica. Oh, for sure, when I first glanced at it, I merely shook my head ("Those silly boys! Such children!") but then I saw on the packaging that Linda has 8 "lusty sayings" and upon investigation ... well, the "harmless, funny joke" gets a bit more lethal.

Hating women isn't funny. And rape ain't funny, fellas.

Apparently Linda's "lusty" sayings are divided into a "good mood" category (you know, if she's been good, and you're in a good mood) and a "bad mood" category (you know, if you're feeling frustrated, like when some chick pisses you off). The user can switch Linda to the "bad mood" category, plunge his pencil in, and listen to Linda yelp, "Ow!" or "Help! Help!"

HAHAHAHAHA! That's soooooo funny. Not.

Some things simply don't belong in jokes. It's not funny, for instance, to hang a bunch of nooses in a tree as happened in Jena, LA. It's not funny to paint swastikas on a synagogue. And it's not funny to joke about rape. (Think about it: bad mood--sticking it to a girl--she yells "Help! Help!" That's rape.)

Here's one gadget that definitely needs to go into the trash.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Who's Your Inner European?

Your Inner European is French!

Smart and sophisticated.
You have the best of everything - at least, *you* think so.

French?! I was expecting Irish, but whatever. Oh, I mean c'est la vie.

For the Golfers Out There ...

If you get easily bored at work, this little game will distract you for hours, I promise:
Mini Golf

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pets, Not Partners

From Inside Higher Education:
When trustees of Palm Beach Community College reached a tie vote in August on a proposal to offer health insurance for the domestic partners of employees, the measure failed and advocates for gay professors and other employees were disappointed. Because the college only pays for employees’ benefits, the proposal wouldn’t have cost the college a penny, but would have opened up quality insurance at a lower cost for the partners of gay and lesbian employees.

Now — in a move that is seen as adding salt to those wounds — the college has added a new health insurance benefit for some (unmarried) household members of employees: pet health insurance.
It gets worse. Read on:
“Your pet is a member of your family — his quality of life is important to you,” says the promotional material from the veterinary insurance company.
Allrighty, then. Your CAT or your DOG is a member of your family, but your PARTNER is not, no matter how long you've lived together, no matter what your commitment to each other, and nope, not even if you're registered as domestic partners.

Well, this is just one more example of why it is we keep saying domestic partnerships and civil unions really aren't equal to marriage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Be Thankful for Horses

As I was preparing pie crusts and cranberry sauce today, I was thinking (as this time of year invites us to do) about the things in my life I am thankful for. The list includes my bright, dashing partner; my cats; my health; my job; my friends; and living in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. But another thing I'm thankful for are horses, such as the great Lost in the Fog (pictured here). I miss that speedy boy. Cancer is a scourge not just to human beings.

It may seem funny, but by far the most people I've "met" because of this blog have been horse racing fans who send me emails out of the blue. Horse lovers, it appears, are generous to a fault. There's a stereotype of racing fans being cigar-chomping men who've plunked down hundreds on a horse's nose to win and who couldn't care less about the horses otherwise. 'Tain't so! For sure there are some of those, but every single horse racing fan I've met adores the animals, admires and respects their athleticism, and even loves certain individuals--because surely horses, like anybody, have unique personalities. (I've only been through the shedrows at Bay Meadows once, but I distinctly remember Monty Armi's horse, Comstock Cat, sticking his head out of his stall as I passed by and poking my shoulder with his nose. He wanted a scratch right THEN and THERE. Who could say no?)

I wrote a week ago or so about my partner's and my fantasy about finding the means to retire Proud Patrolman. (The darker side of horse racing is that there are some selfish owners and trainers who will run a horse into the ground; this is not to say that Proud Patrolman's trainer would do that, but Proud Patrolman is getting up there in years--9--and that's kind of old for a racehorse. He's put in his time. He's earned a half million bucks over his lifetime running in levels just a notch above the bush tracks. Yes, he's a bottom level claimer, but he's got a huge heart, and it's high time he got to relax and just hang out in a pasture and munch on grass and be given peppermints to crunch.

There's a wonderful place in Glen Ellen, CA (Sonoma County), a non-profit ranch run by a woman named Pam. She'd take Proud Patrolman if we could pay for his board (which we can't). My partner and I are willing to buy the horse outright or at least help buy him (or claim him, if we must, but that's a mighty commitment for us--$4,000 if we have to claim, assuming he doesn't get placed higher next race since he won his last race. Darn it.) But it appears sponsorship of a sound horse is $150 a month; I'm guessing to board a horse is even more. So I am hoping we win the lottery sometime soon.

In the meantime, because I am grateful that Pam at GEVA does such meaningful and needed work, I made a small Thanksgiving donation through Paypal to GEVA. If you are a horse lover, or an animal lover in general, I urge you to do the same. Check out GEVA's website here.

Thanks for helping.

Pie Crust Ala Margo

Margo Moon, your wish is my command.

2 cups unbleached white flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter (keep it as cold as you can)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Chop the butter into small cubes and cut half of it into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the shortening and the remaining butter and cut them in, leaving 1/4 inch pieces. (This is what will make the dough flaky.) Sprinkle in the ice water, tossing lightly with a fork to moisten it evently, until the dough holds together.

Divide the dough in half and press into 2 balls. Wrap each in plastic wrap and let them rest for 4 hours (or longer) in the fridge. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the circles out. They will go into two 9-inch pie pans. Keep the crusts refrigerated until you're ready to fill and bake them.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Horse Racing with the Sopranos

This one is for the dressage fans who read this blog. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving

Normally my partner and I head out to her parents' for Thanksgiving, except for last year when we lived in Spokane--then we all drove (or flew) to Victoria, BC, Canada for a gathering instead. (And we got caught in a nasty snowstorm on the way back home and had to stay overnight in a hotel outside Seattle.) But this year, my partner has to work the day after Thanksgiving, and needs to go into work for a couple hours on Thanksgiving Day to set up, so ... I'm in charge of the food! Yeehaw! It's been quite a few years since I made a complete Thanksgiving dinner.

We went shopping for the food on Sunday afternoon, so the turkey's been thawing in the fridge. She almost conked me over the head for purchasing an organic turkey for $33. But hey! It's a free range turkey, no antibiotics or growth hormones, so eating it won't make my head as big as Barry Bonds's. That's gotta count for something. Also on the menu: stuffing, gravy, whipped yams, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, and pumpkin pie. Carb heaven. I'll make the pie tomorrow night and put it in the fridge (I like pumpkin pie to be cold), and the pie crust will be homemade. I have a recipe from Greens restaurant I've been using for years since it makes, hands-down, the flakiest, most wonderful pie crust I've ever tasted.

Oh, and of course there's champagne chilling as well.

Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Possesses Trillions Of Potentially Dangerous Atoms

The Onion

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Possesses Trillions Of Potentially Dangerous Atoms

WASHINGTON-"Iran maintains the atoms will only be used to form the building blocks of all existence, but we cannot afford to take that risk," DHS Secretary Chertoff said.

Barry Asterisk Bonds

I think we all know that Barry Bonds wasn't swallowing flaxseed oil or rubbing arthritis cream onto his body, and I'm pretty sure most of us agree he was aware of that as well. Looks like it's been decided that there's enough evidence to prosecute him for perjury and obstruction of justice, despite the fact that Greg Anderson never did open his mouth to tattle on his buddy. Probably Barry will plea out and serve a short prison term (hey, maybe George Bush will pardon him!) But here's what a friend and I were agreeing on this morning: the powers that be made Marion Jones give her Olympic medals back; so in all fairness, Barry Bonds' accomplishments post-1998 need to be expunged from the record books.

Hank Aaron, you're still the man.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

OMG, I Get to Introduce Adrienne Rich

My Dean left a message on my cell phone this morning while I was teaching, so I picked up my messages while I was driving home. This is what he said: "We would like you to introduce Adrienne Rich next March, if you can. She's one of the speakers in the President's Lecture Series ... " I almost drove off the road.

Adrienne Rich is a rock star to me. I was first introduced to her work in 1980, as a freshman in college, and as someone just coming out. The Dream of a Common Language was poetry that spoke directly to me (especially the floating poem, unnumbered, in 21 Love Poems, and if you don't know what I mean, I feel sorry for you).

Aside from being a fine poet and essayist, Rich also puts her money where her mouth is. Her professed politics and her actions are in synch. She turned down the National Book Award when she was offered it; instead, she allowed two other women poets to join her in accepting the award on behalf of all silenced women. Even Ole Bill Clinton was not liberal enough for her, and in 1997 she refused the National Medal of Arts, saying the aims of art weren't compatible with the cynical policies of the White House. But she slammed Dubya too. In 2003, she, along with a few other poets, refused to attend a White House symposium on "Poetry and the American Voice" because they opposed the Iraq War.

Rich is a highly respected poet and writer of international acclaim and it is simply an honor to be asked to introduce her. Now let's pray I don't pass out at the podium.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Proud Patrolman

One of my favorite horses is a 9 year-old gelding named Proud Patrolman. He's only a $4,000 claimer, but boy, does that horse have a huge heart. He runs only in the Bay Area (Bay Meadows, Golden Gate, and the summer fairs), but he almost always hits the board. Out of 66 races in his lifetime, he's won 15, placed 12, and showed 15. One of these days, I'm gonna buy that horse and retire him. He deserves it.

He races today at Golden Gate in the 5th, and he actually stands a good chance to win. Local DRF handicapper Chuck Dybdal even likes him to win. Let's wish him luck. I'll be watching the race from the Turf Club.

UPDATE: I couldn't believe he didn't go off as the favorite. Proud Patrolman went off at odds of 7-1, so I was naturally all over that! LOL He closed well, firing up the lane, beating the favorite by a nose: a true photo finish. That totally made my day. Way to go, big guy. Paid $15 on a $2 bet.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Biggest Oil Spill in San Francisco since the 80's

If you don't already know, California got slammed again by another environmental disaster--but this one's not an act of God, but an act of humans. Granted, this was on a smaller scale than the southern California wildfires (then again, humans were behind some of those, too). Anyway. On Wednesday, a container ship headed from the Port of Oakland on a morning socked in by fog--which is common here, mind you--hit the Bay Bridge.

Let me say that again. The ship hit the Bay Bridge.

The bridge is fine. The ship is not. It let loose almost 60,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay. Here is a picture of the water at the Berkeley Marina:

At least eight beaches have already been closed along the bay's coastside, reaching all the way from San Francisco's beaches (China Beach, Baker Beach, Fort Point, Crissy Field), to the Angel Island shoreline, and pretty much up to Richmond. In the opposite direction, the spill goes as far as Muir Beach into Marin County. And let me tell you, some of the beaches are BLACK. It's horrible.

Rescuers are pulling sea birds out of the water. Many of them, feathers slimed by oil, are dead. Other marine animals and fish may be affected as well, such as our city's harbor seals and sea lions, like the ones who hang out at Pier 39.

What hurts even more is that this accident was, most likely, avoidable. In the entire history of the Bay Bridge, no ship has ever struck it. Despite the fact that there was fog, captains piloting ships into the Bay Area have always dealt with this problem, and the captain of the ship that hit the bridge has been a bar pilot for more than 25 years. Besides this, in fog, navigation mostly depends on the ship's electronics, much like airplane pilots depend on electronics. (Consider how many planes land at San Francisco Airport in the same conditions. The fog wasn't so bad that flights in and out of SFO were cancelled that day.)

And airplane pilots at SFO deal with much less navigational space, from what I understand.

Capt. John Cota had a 131 feet wide ship. He was steering it between two support towers of the Bay Bridge. He had 2,210 feet of space to work with. He managed to hit one of the support towers.

Today I hear there is some question the captain had been drinking, or, since it was 8:30 or so in the morning, perhaps still intoxicated from the night before (shades of the Exxon Valdez!) Or perhaps he fell asleep. Or perhaps his job became so boring he was on his cell phone and let the electronics take over. Or, they failed. Who knows? There will have to be an investigation.

But according to the SF Chronicle, Capt. Cota has had four "incidents" of record involving investigations by the Board of Pilot Commissioners. (Then again, it was only four in fourteen years, and we all just love to beat up on a guy.)

I'm trying to be fair. In the meantime, my heart hurts.

A Reminder of the Need for a Woman's Right to Choose

From Yahoo News:
Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin — the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua's new no-exceptions ban on abortion.

Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late.
Isn't it grand? I've said it before and will say it again: anti-choice legislation kills women. Olga Reyes had a legitimate medical reason to terminate that pregnancy. (And note in this case that there is no chance the fetus would've survived anyway.) But nooooo! Let's compel Mommy to carry THIS fetus, even if doing so makes both of them die.

Sorry. This kind of thing just chaps my behind.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Rep. John Lewis on ENDA

A civil rights leader speaks eloquently, yet simply, about why passing ENDA is the moral thing to do. (The Religious Right, of course, is wrong.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Nashoba's Key Wins Horse of the Meet

The fillies are having a good year! This was sent to me by a local horsewoman:
NASHOBA'S KEY (Silver Hawk) joined the elite company of Light Jig (GB), Halfbridled and 2002 Horse of the Year Azeri as the only females to be named Horse of the Meet in Oak Tree's annual Media Poll since the category was introduced in 1996. A four-year-old California-bred owned by Warren Williamson and trained by Carla Gaines, Nashoba's Key ran her unbeaten streak to seven in the prestigious Yellow Ribbon, rallying to win despite an unfavorable pace scenario. Her skein ended when she finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1).
Let me add that the track at Monmouth was a mess that day and many good horses didn't handle the track well. There's also some question that jockey Joe Talamo was out of his league. Hmmmm. Maybe. But let's cut the kid a break--he's only 17 and he's done pretty darn well at Santa Anita, Hollywood, and Del Mar. Look, even Secretariat wasn't undefeated. Look for greater things from Nashoba's Key.

Toni Mirosevich's Pink Harvest

You must buy this book. I'd pre-ordered it from, and when it arrived, I tore into it greedily and was done in a matter of hours. Toni's writing is like that for me. On occasion, I'll stumble across her work in San Francisco Chronicle
--and I recognized some of the pieces in this book as having been originally published there--and I can count on having the same basic response to whatever yarn she may be spinning: towards the end of the piece, there'll be a sudden flash of insight. (Call it an epiphany if you must.) Sometimes it's pleasant; sometimes it's disturbing. Regardless, whatever it was that struck me will stay with me all day, and I'll keep coming back to it, turning the idea over in my head, no matter how whimsical the insight may've been.

Pink Harvest is a series of short creative nonfiction pieces, linked together either thematically or chronologically, or even loosely linked by a word that reverberates into the next story. Toni Mirosevich's brush reaches fairly broad--to Italy, Croatia, the Pacific Northwest, San Francisco, to home just south of the city along the Pacific Coast. Yet the book feels remarkably close; that's how brilliantly Toni is able to paint her world and bring you right into the very foreground. She writes about encounters with people: friends who grow apart, friends who come back together, friends who reveal a secret kept hidden for years. She writes about family: a political discussion with mom, or dad, who ekes out a living from the sea, yet recognizes how wealthy they are when he can show his daughter a small herd of white deer. Largely unsuccessful at prying out of her mother her Nana's stories of the Old Country, Toni seeks out the past in returning to Croatia (meanwhile cringing after the break-up of the Soviet Union that her name, Mirosevich, is so close to Milosevic, which leads to ruminations on violence and guns.) There's also the old man who dies in her neighborhood, leaving behind a home no one knew harbored a million-dollar view. Then there's the spat with his daughter over a writing table she originally hadn't wanted. Toni's partner, Shotsy, a nurse, always hovers on the edges, entering and exiting the narratives, but some of the stories must have come from conversations over dinner, after work: There's the story of the broken, alcoholic ex-Marine who torments his family. The unexpected, underlying message is simply to cherish them, to love them more. But lest that sound schmaltzy, elsewhere in Mirosevich's world, upside-down paintbrushes in a jar can become a heart-stopping insult.

Toni's prose is straightforward yet beautiful, never precious but dead-on descriptive. The book never sags or loses momentum. Every single story holds a surprise. These tales of happenstance capture, I think, what Virginia Woolf meant by "moments of being."

As I said, you must buy this book. Or buy two. Keep one and pass the other along.

[Full disclosure: Toni was one of my instructors at San Francisco State and also was one of my thesis readers, but since I've long since graduated (2001), there's no need for me to suck up. Although I'm sure I sound like a cheerleader, I'm speaking the truth. And, while we're at it, you must also buy her book Queer Street.]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good Day for Russell Baze

Frankly, I don't care for Russell Baze. It has nothing to do with him personally. But they don't call it "Baze Meadows" for no reason. He's always messing up the odds.

Even the worst horse in the bunch, it seems, stands a good chance at winning if Baze is aboard. So the odds always get skewed and the best horse doesn't win. If you're doing a Pick 3, 4, or 6, you always have to factor in Russell Baze. It makes for expensive tickets that really don't pay out that much.

But that's only at Bay Meadows or Golden Gate. Russell normally doesn't do much at any other track (so he's known as being a big fish in a small pond.)

Today, Russell Baze showed himself to be a truly great jockey anyway, 'cause I bet against him, figuring any fool can win up north in California. He had two mounts down south in the California Cup and won on both of them.

Good on you, Russell Baze!

Friday, November 2, 2007

California Cup

Tomorrow's the California Cup at Oak Tree, so let's hope I can continue my present winning streak. This time I'll pick at least two horses for each race, and note that last week it seemed my second choice won more often than my first choice. I'll also include two alternates in parentheses.

Race 3, Juvenile Fillies: Runforthemoneybaby and Ice Lady (Love Ya Bye and Cantina's Rose)

Race 4, Turf Distance Handicap Fillies & Mares: Imagine and Memorette (Easy Obsession and Rockella)

Race 5, Matron: Somethinaboutlaura and Bai and Bai (Fun Logic and Swiss Current)

Race 6, Distaff: Dancing Edie and Lady Gamer (Kalookan Dancer and Spenditallbaby)

Race 7, Juvenile Stakes: My Redeemer and Harlene (Sierra Sunset and If It Stays Fair)

Race 8, Sprint: Bilo and Wind Water (Johnny Eves and Excess Temptations)

Race 9, Mile: Now Victory and Jack's Wild (Epic Power and Joy's Comet)

Race 10, Classic: Lava Man and Celtic Dreamin (Bold Chieftain and Tiz Afire)

Race 11 (if you're doing a Pick 6): Brian the Bold and Warren's Scooter (Hy Temp and Apoplectic)

In the second race, Carla Gaines has Joe Talamo on an improving horse named Made the Finals. I don't think he'll be the favorite, and the DRF handicappers are largely overlooking him, so he could offer value. I'll probably toss some money on his nose and toss him in a superfecta with Raise the Heat, Iron Duke, and Yodelen Dan.

In the first, everyone says Flip the Penny should take it, but watch out for Lead Stealer, 'cause he just might do that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Horse of the Year

I'm sure Curlin will win 2007 Horse of the Year, and he deserves it, but it occurred to me this evening that special kudos should go to Rags to Riches. She's the filly who beat Curlin in the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown. Only two fillies have ever won the Belmont, the last having won in 1905. And, Rags to Riches stumbled at the start and had to recover, well behind.

Look at that stride! Gotta love a lady with long legs.