Friday, November 27, 2009

The Worst Books of the Decade--2000-2009

Oh, this will be fun.

(1) Breaking Dawn

(2) Eclipse

(3) New Moon

(4) The Saturday Wife

(5) Angels and Demons

(6) The Dive from Clausen's Pier

(7) Prep (I loved American Wife!)

(8) P.S. I Love You

Some of the books I don't like I was dumb enough to buy--I'm not necessarily listing them here because I didn't have good reasons to buy them (I should have known they'd be sub-par).  Some of these were either very popular or very well reviewed.

Best Books of the Decade--2000-2009

I have no qualifications (as mentioned many times before, I think).  So, in no particular order, here is a list of the books I thought were the best from 2000-2009:

(1) The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

(2) Middlesex

(3) The Time Traveler's Wife

(4) Everything Is Illuminated

(5) Bel Canto

(6) Atonement

(7) The Road

(8) The Namesake

(9) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

(10) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

(11) Case Histories, One Good Turn, When Will There Be Good News

(12) Harry Potter--The Deathly Hallows

(13) Paradise Park

(14) Water for Elephants

(15) The Plot Against America

(16) The World To Come

(17) The Life of Pi

(18) Anil's Ghost

(19) The Liberated Bride (even though A.B. Yehoshua bothered me by his sexism when I heard him speak in person)

And, that leaves room for books I might read in the next few weeks.  I may add to this list or take away from this list.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Should I pass on today's CSA share? Of course, not-I should get moving.

Today, after living like a sloth for the past several weeks (to be fair, coughing, low-grade fever, and intermittent nausea and indigestion contributed this this!), I'm supposed to drive a half-hour each way to pick up our farm share.  In this share will be:

Rutabaga (ok, big turnips, I can handle that)
Celeriac (yuck, I'm putting that in the share bin)
Potatoes (1/2 share isn't very many, surprisingly)
Brussels Sprouts (last week's were really good)
Watermelon Radish
Black Radish (these don't look appealing either)
Pie Pumpkins (pumpkin muffins! Though, they're not going to bake by themselves)
Blue Hubbard Squash/ Queensland Blue Squash
Butternut Squash
Collard Greens (more food to process-blanch and freeze-since I can't stomach greens right now)
Broccoli Raab (ditto)
Kale (ditto)
Baby Lettuce
I wish I was more excited about these choices.  I have to say that I thought there would be more carrots/parsnips/turnips...I forgot about the plethora of squash, all of which we still have from last week, and which I need to process, immediately.  I suggested doing so several times to the one who lives here not beset by nausea from cooking odors (he who got gas for me on Monday and made me fried eggs at 9:30 last night--I can't really complain!), but I guess I'm roasting then freezing the squash today.  I can't imagine what we'll do with double the amount.

We also need more regular food (eggs--the only thing I like eating these days, a great impediment to that elusive goal of living a vegan lifestyle, and garbanzo beans--dried and/or Eden Organic, BPA-free).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I still have a productive cough, and it has been over three weeks.  I also have nausea, etc., but that's a whole other story.  Today, I happen to have a bad headache, so coughing is pretty impossible.  I WISH I could have some ibuprofen.  That would be awesome.  Instead, I had a decaf soy latte with some chocolate (not a full-strength mocha--I've been mostly off sugar, but enough chocolate to help.  It did--a little.)

Perhaps having a detailed ultrasound next week (12 1/2 weeks by then) will help.  Perhaps all will be well, and there won't be any distressing markers.  And, I'll see a cute blob that will make me think--oh yes, this WAS a good idea for a slacker mom and dad to add to the family.  There is absolutely no reason why I should see two cute blobs so I shouldn't even have to worry about that at all.

I need to consider: acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic.  I've been too tired/too sick/too lazy to call any of those that I see (or used to see).  I would imagine any or all would help me more than the nothing that allopathic can do for me right now.  Waxing and a pedicure would also be nice--but, probably not as essential as getting rid of this damn cough.

I have new designer maternity jeans.  Same brand as my regular jeans.  I love how the Web site told me to buy a size bigger than my regular size.  I sort of forgot how my regular size was a bit loose.  So, going up a size is too big.  Perhaps at some point, food will be more appealing and I will fill these out just fine. They have an interior waistband like skinny kids do (not that I'm a skinny kid; indeed, I'm that person whom everyone always thought was pregnant while not pregnant)--with the place to tighten with elastic and buttons.  Wearing overpriced denim helps a little.  Ok, the waistband-thing just got lost inside.  I think that's a task for the patient one in the house--my husband.  That could also partially explain why they're not staying up at all (except even before I ruined them, they weren't staying up).  Perhaps it isn't too late to return them for the smaller size. 

I'm concerned that my regular shirts and jackets are starting not to fit.  Well, it is 12 weeks tomorrow.  They probably shouldn't fit.  I'm just not ready to tell people--who, by the way, are going to use this to explain away my mysterious long-lasting illness.  The difference is if I weren't pregnant, I'd be taking that ibuprofen, going to the gym anyway, and eating healthy food like greens (which is even hard to type without making me feel nauseous).  And I'd be closer to vegan than I am now (though I did have veggie scramble from Vegan with a Vengeance for breakfast--very good, except I might try it next time without turmeric).

Friday, November 13, 2009


No one reads this blog anyway so I can write whatever I want.

There has been no testing for H1N1 since June or July.  Yet, 20 million (!) people have had this disease.  On the other hand, we all still need to be vaccinated for this, because...?  I am so confused.

Personally, I've had a bad cold (well, a productive--yes, gross--cough for almost two weeks, regular cough for a week longer than that, mild aches, occasional headaches and sort throat, and low-grade fever).  My PCP's office will not test me for flu "unless I am sick enough to be hospitalized" because this practice was "told" not to by someone.  Told not to by whom?  The Department of Public Health?  The CDC?  The higher-ups at the practice?  Meanwhile, I'm 11 weeks pregnant (so, if anyone does read this, congratulations, you know the pregnancy status of a stranger or perhaps not if you're super-smart and figured out, hey, I know this person).  And have had extreme pressure to get an H1N1 shot from a group of formerly-crunchy midwives (and OBs).  One midwife, in response to my query about my symptoms, told me: (1) yes, there are many versions of the flu out there right now, some milder than others, (2) H1N1 seems to have different strains, (3) I should get the H1N1 vaccine ANYWAY because of the changes in the virus.

Wait a second.  The virus is mutating and I need a vaccine that was built on the flu as it was in spring 2009?  How on earth will that possibly help me?  Yes, I realize my chances for getting GBS are low.  And, yes, I realize that pregnant women have been hit hard by this flu due to its getting into the lower lobes of the lungs, etc.  And, yes, finally, I can get the almost-free-of-mercury shot.  My question is: WHY?  Why have a very-likely unnecessary medical intervention?  Half of my older child's class was out with presumed swine flu.  My kids have been coughing for WEEKS (with no fevers).  Are they likely to bring this flu home to me in March?  Seriously?  After we've probably already had it, and, if not had it, been exposed to it?

Is it at all possible that the Vitamin D we've all been taking has caused us to fight off the worst effects of this strain of flu?  That's what the Vitamin D research out there indicates.  (Here is a great article on the benefits of Vitamin D during pregnancy, noting the 25% reduction of viral illnesses:

If we're not testing anyone, except for those who are deathly ill or dying, it is very easy to say that everyone must be vaccinated.  Here is what is happening:  (1) We hear only about the tragic deaths from this illness and not about any milder form; (2) Thus, we all feel vulnerable and scared, because how do we know the same won't happen to us?  (3) We have no proof of any immunity since we have no confirmation that we've already had the flu (and those of us with milder illnesses are not even tested); and (4) Finally, even those of us who were told we probably had the flu are told to get vaccinated anyway because, really, who knows.

I don't believe that the vaccine is a means for population control or is going to be widely dangerous.  (See for a reasoned discussion on H1N1 and the vaccine.  My understanding is that he posits, in part, that we should aim for natural immunity as much as possible, even pregnant women, but understands why some feel more comfortable being vaccinated (particularly those with asthma, etc.).)

I do believe that the vaccine has been strategically withheld to increase demand.  And the way to increase demand is through fear.  That is good business.  And vaccine manufacturing is a business.  As much as I believe, inherently, that people in government and the medical professions want to save as many lives as possible, if there was truly the horrific risk we are presented with each day, that vaccine would have been made available much, much earlier than this.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cookie Monster Isn't Why Your Kid Is Fat

It's not Cookie Monster's fault that kids are obese. It is the fault of parents, low breastfeeding rates, advertising, less activity, less outdoor play, less free time, and probably, to some extent, genes. Please don't blame Cookie Monster.

Kids should be breastfed for a year (at least--WHO says at least two years) and moms who breastfeed longer shouldn't be harassed, they should be applauded. (How many extended nursers have obese kids? I'm very curious. I bet very, very few.) Bottle feeding, aside from formula being a second-rate product, expands a baby's stomach far too much. They can't say no to a bottle! They get overfilled, their stomach stretches, then it's a lifetime of wanting more, more, more.

Food-wise, I blame soda (high fructose corn syrup is bad, bad stuff), fast food, candy, and condiments (like ranch dressing). If your kid is already obese, read Disease Proof Your Child and Eat To Live. See

Friday, August 21, 2009

Expressions I Hate

I just read the word "peeps" so I have to comment. I hate that expression and I hate the word "tweeps". I hate how people say "my" peeps. And "my" tweeps. Typically, this is done in a way, especially on Twitter, to alert followers to something (when these are people that you yourself do not follow). Why do people have to use such condescending and possessive terms? You are not royalty. These loyal friends and/or followers are not your subjects. It grates. When I see "peeps", I hit "hide".

But, there is nothing worse, to me, that the expression: "My bad". Cringe. "Oh, I'm so cute that I did ______ . Tee-hee, my bad". I wish that expression would just go away.

My 7-year-old better not pick up that phrase. There are others I'd far rather her say. Some even worthy of an R-rating.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Yet another former classmate a roaring success

I wish those of higher intelligence, creativity, and motivation the best. I do admit to jealousy. I dream of winning the lottery, to make up for the zero-earning power I currently have. I can't gamble on the lottery for such crappy odds. I'd rather eat sushi every day than waste it on that. And so would my kids. There is food on the table, so they're not missing the first class travel or the summer home. Or the convertible.

Still, I hear about these former classmates, both high school and college: successful lawyers (I'm an erstwhile lawyer), doctors (why didn't I take my hypochondriac ass to med school after all?! oh yeah: dad tried to sell me on that as a 8-year-old and I rebelled early), authors (how awesome to write books all day long! Oh yes, creativity and skills are a must), inventors, tech-savvy individuals (never took a computer class past 7th grade--BASIC was sure fun), professors (in law, only straight-A's need apply: would my lowest Latin honors fool them?), etc. And, why did I major in English? Liking to read is NOT enough.

What I'd like to do: travel the world, children in tow. The best not-at-home-schooling experience ever. At least, I think it would be. Better than the kids' dream vision of home school--TV every day, all day long.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Some Thoughts after Reading Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman

1. My favorite quote from the book: "self-flagellation is not the crux of the paternal experience". Very, very true. Certainly, this house, there is no losing sleep over parenting decisions by anyone but me! On the one hand, I am deferred to (very often). On the other hand, I am judged (very often).

2. Why does AW have to make the point that her husband is not gay? It sounds like they have a great relationship. He admits (see Hadassah magazine) to experimentation. It sounds like he and AW love each other. Anyway, I just thought a secure wife wouldn't necessarily have to hammer that one home.

3. Did AW really say that she'd use a kid as a shield to protect her husband from a bullet? I read the NY Times story back when, and like many others, I was bothered. But, I don't remember reading anything like that (and couldn't find anything using Google).

4. I might not explain this exactly right. But, here goes. AW went to Harvard Law. She went there with the President! She is married to a famous writer! She had an awesome job! She's written many novels! Isn't that different than those of us who DON'T DO ANYTHING, and still hide the art supplies? Rely on Nick Jr.? Take kids out to eat lunch because there's nothing in the house? People like my kids--a lot--so I know my "job", such as it is, has been moderately successful (at least) so far. Yet, I feel like someone who is such a success professionally is not at all akin to your average slacker mom who is gripping too hard to her Gen-X roots. So, while my initial reaction to this book was, yes, great, someone understands! Really, I feel like my life is quite removed from the bubble inhabited by AW.

5. I found AW's description very moving of how they came to the decision for her to have an abortion. Especially how she explained that her husband felt that his belief that all would be well with the pregnancy had far greater consequences (should the child be unwell) in all of their lives.

6. Dodgeball. I sucked at that game, too.

7. I felt like AW relished telling us all what a geek she was, and what a slut she was. We can all think how "edgy" she is, and not at all a stereotype. Though, it, too is stereotypical.

8. AW's discussion of her diagnosis with bipolar disorder.

9. I liked the reference to Marmee being the perfect mother. Of course, she is! And that June Cleaver would probably be knocking back a gin and tonic. More like Betty Draper.

(I'm going to stop here, for now. Not sure I can come up with 18.)

I've lost the motivation to reach 18 points. I did want to mention that I think AW scrambled to make her book 18 chapters. Again, however, she WROTE a book and got it published.