Wednesday, November 26, 2008

No Turkeys Pardoned Here

Watch the guy in the background. He gave me the biggest laugh!

Second biggest laugh was when Sarah Palin said, "I still have my values and convictions," and I realized she and I weren't thinking of the same convictions.

Monday, November 24, 2008

In Honor of Thanksgiving Day

I am thankful for many things, amongst them the funny images friends e-mail me. You realize, don't you, that before Al Gore invented the Internet, the following types of images were photocopied? On paper? In black and white?

Let us take a moment to reflect on how far we've come and how wisely we are using our technology. Then enjoy the following. (I get them every year but they still make me titter.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... The Subject is Race

Oh, come back here. We can discuss race. For me, it's not as controversial a topic as religion, politics or how girly lil' Zac Efron got added to People magazine's "Sexiest Man" list.

This week Oakland Athletics bench coach Don Wakamatsu was named the new manager for the Seattle Mariners, making him the first Asian-American manager in major-league history.

Call it a character flaw, but baseball puts me to sleep. Whenever I'm forced to attend a game, I enjoy visiting the concession stands, waving to the mascots and doing anything but watching the play. So I don't usually follow MLB news, but Wakamatsu's hiring caught my eye because he's Asian-American like me. (Except he has a Japanese-American father and an Irish-American mother, and all my descendants hailed from a pre-melamine China.)

A poster on a message board that I frequently visit posed this question:

"Do you consider Wakamatsu an Asian, a hapa (popular nickname in Hawaii for a half-white person), or White? If he had a Caucasian last name, would there be a big deal of his background?By the same token Tiger (Woods) should be Asian because he is 1/2 Thai."

How would you answer this?

I like questions that force me to use my brain cells. So I thought and thought (and no, it didn't hurt!) and here's my take: I would be lying if I said I were blind to race. Just the fact that a name like "Wakamatsu" caused me to read the sports section is proof of that.

When I watched an interview with him, he looked and sounded like a good ol' Texas boy to me (which is what he is right now, living in Texas with his family). But in other interviews, he also has discussed the internment of his father's family and other Japanese-Americans during World War II, something I was very pleased to see addressed by a prominent sports figure. So in my mind, he is Asian because he has publicly identified himself as such. As for Tiger Woods, I don't know. Has he ever discussed being Asian? I really don't know, as I don't follow golf, so I don't view him as anything.

Mixed-race issues are pertinent to me because both my kids are half-Chinese, half-Scandinavian. And they look it. Do I see them as Asian or white? Neither, because I see them as my darling kids. (And on bad days, as the little heathens who turn my hair gray.) They don't pay much attention to race on a day-to-day basis.

But there are reminders. They root for the Asian contestants when watching Survivor, as does my white husband. And they've become very accustomed to checking the "Other" box on forms that ask for ethnic backgrounds.

We live in a very mixed-race community so their ethnicity is no big deal, but I know that at some point in their lives they will probably travel through areas where they might get called out. And if that happens, I hope they have the confidence, backbone and social skills to handle the situation. I also hope they'll continue to be able to view people as people first, and race as just another interesting facet of the game.

Photo Brad Vest / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday is also Beefcake Friday

Went to see Quantum of Solace today with some gal-pals. It's not your typical chicks-outing movie, but as one friend says about Daniel Craig, "When I look at him I feel all yummy."

I'm not big on the James Bond franchise. When I was a kid, Sean Connery was already in his 40s and therefore ancient to me and Roger Moore reminded me of an old guy with warts. When Timothy Dalton was cast as Bond, I said, "Who?" and when Pierce Brosnan was Bond, he was good to look at but not drool-worthy.

Daniel Craig is a new Bond: Tormented, heartbroken, a loose cannon. And BUFF, but not in a cartoonishly large way.

I really enjoyed the movie. There were so many pros: Non-stop action, creepy villains, interesting plot and smart women.

Cons: He doesn't remove his shirt. Not even once. What's with that?

Do you think I should ask for my money back?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More Deep Thoughts ...

... about my butt.

Last night I took my kids to Bingo Night at school and, for nearly two hours, we sat on these hard plastic seats. They're round, attached to the long folding cafeteria tables and were obviously designed for tiny little butts that can't sit still for very long. When I got home, my rear end let me know what it thought about those seats by sending little messages of pain throughout my back.

I can't help it if I have no padding on my butt and, believe me, that this is not a good thing. You'd think that all those glutes and lunges I do in my workout class would add some curvy muscle to it, but noooo ... it just gets flatter. My butt is so flat it's nearly concave. My butt is so flat it's the stomach I've always wanted. My butt is so flat I could wear my jeans backwards. My butt is so flat Christopher Columbus would have fallen off the edge.

And yet there is jiggle. I'm not sure what's jiggling back there when there is no padding. It's the ultimate cruelty, kind of like telling a flat-chested woman that she still needs to wear a bra.

As a farewell thought, here's Maxine:

Friday, November 7, 2008

Free Straitjacket Friday ... Crock-pots Rule!

Today's topic is crock-pots and why they rule:
  1. You throw your food in and forget about it for a few hours.

  2. It allows you to leave the house while dinner is still cooking.

  3. It tenderizes tougher cuts of meat.

  4. They make the house smell really good.

  5. Mine is red.

I start off with this:

After several unwatched hours, I get this:

I also like to make split pea soups in my crock-pot. One of my girlfriends stuffs uncooked manicotti shells with a spinach-ricotta mixture, places them in her crock-pot with a bunch of marinara sauce and then has a magically delicious meal hours later. I recently made hot apple cider for a large group of trick-or-treating kids by pouring a whole bottle of apple cider into the crock-pot and adding a few cinnamon sticks. Several hours later, our thirsty and cold group came back to the house and there was hot cider all ready to go.

Who else uses a crock-pot? Let's hear about it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Change is Good

Now that Barack Obama is our president-elect, I am feeling much more optimistic about being an American, something I haven't felt in years.

Change is good, and one thing that I hope changes is our economy. I'm predicting that the election will cause Americans will feel more confident about their futures and this will result in them going out and shopping, thus giving our economy a bit of a kick.

Of course, the downside is that money is tight nowadays (for many people, including yours truly), so how do you balance between spending to invigorate the economy and avoiding putting yourself into further debt? While I feel lucky not to have a crushing mortgage payment, high medical bills or heavy credit card balances, I do have to budget carefully and walk that cash tightrope.

One thing that has really helped me has been to differentiate between "wants" and "needs." When it comes to buying things other than groceries, I try to give myself a 48-hour cooling period to think about the purchase. Sometimes, for higher-priced items, that 48-hour period extends to several months. Sometimes I end up forgetting all about it. Most of the time, I eventually realize I didn't really need or particularly want the item that badly.

I'm also trying to pay cash for most things. It's too easy for me to whip out that little plastic card so what I've been trying to do is to take out a certain amount of cash at the beginning of the week and make that cash last all week. When the cash is gone, so are the purchases. Some weeks it works better than others.

The Consumerist Web site ( offers some great tips and inspirational stories on becoming debt-free. Click here to read some of these posts. It's good to know that there are specific steps I can take and to read that these tips have actually helped people who were once deeply stuck in the hole of debt.

photo © Darren Hester for

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