November 29, 2009


My family is doing Thanksgiving today because my brother and dad had to work on the real holiday.  And I got such a chuckle when my mom called to ask how I make my cranberry sauce.  I'm just glad she didn't call me in the middle of the night!

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November 25, 2009


Two years ago, I wrote about something my father did that I found completely selfless and the true essence of parenting: he lent me his glasses.  But I never wrote the post I could've written six years ago when my mother did the same.

My husband and I hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner when we lived in Germany.  I had called my mother ahead of time and asked for all her recipes and how to cook a turkey, stuffing, gravy, and just about everything.  I got started on Thanksgiving morning, thinking that I was squared away, but once I began cooking, I realized I still had several questions.  Questions that couldn't wait several hours until Mom's time zone caught up to morning.

And so I gulped and picked up the phone.  I called my mother in the middle of the night back in the US to have her walk me through some last minute snags.  (Like what in the hell I was supposed to do with the neck.  Turkey neck is about the grossest thing I can think of.  I'd rather have a mouse in my kitchen than deal with a turkey neck.  I am already freaking out that I have to touch one tomorrow.)

My mom wasn't upset that I interrupted her sleep, she never acted put out, she just answered my questions and helped me keep on cooking.  And poor mom had to make her own dinner in a few hours, now on much less sleep.

I have been feeling cold feet lately, worried that I might not be a good mother, that I might not enjoy it, that I will be overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I am taking on.  But when I think of these times that my parents still selflessly help me out, even when I'm an adult, I figure that they wouldn't do that if being a parent weren't rewarding.

Thanks, Mama.  And if I need help tomorrow, at least we're only one time zone apart this year...

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November 20, 2009


I've got six weeks to catch Karl Rove...I might make it, if I didn't exhaust my light reading during this batch.

50)  The Road To Serfdom  (F.A. Hayek)
The previous nine books have been largely fluff, so I decided I needed to do some mental calisthenics of my own.  I thought Capitalism and Freedom was an easier read, but this wasn't as dense as I'd been warned.  And I'm glad I read it.

49)  Everything Bad Is Good For You  (Steven Johnson)
This was an interesting book, the premise of which is that popular culture is making us smarter, not dumber.  It's the reassurance I need after watching Idiocracy!  Johnson argues that people are doing more mental calisthenics these days from playing Sim City vs playing checkers or watching complex shows like 24 compared to the old Dragnet.  He argues that our leisure time is spent following more complex forms of media, which work to make us smarter, counter to popular wisdom.

My favorite anecdote was this:

Several years ago I found myself on a family vacation with my seven-year-old nephew, and on one rainy day I decided to introduce him to the wonders of Sim City 2000, the legendary city simulator that allows you to play Robert Moses to a growing virtual metropolis.  For most of our session, I was controlling the game, pointing out landmarks as I scrolled around my little town.  I suspect I was a somewhat condescending guide--treating the virtual world as more of a model train layout than a complex system.  But he was picking up the game's inner logic nonetheless.  After about an hour of tinkering, I was concentrating on trying to revive one particularly run-down manufacturing district.  As I contemplated my options, my nephew piped up: "I think we need to lower industrial tax rates."  He said it as naturally, and as confidently, as he might have said, "I think we need to shoot the bad guy."

48)  The Apostle  (Brad Thor)
I think I might've liked this one better than The Last Patriot.  Blasphemy!  And now I'm out of Brad Thor.

47)  The Last Patriot  (Brad Thor)
Like the Da Vinci Code, but for Islam.  I think I may have built up the excitement too much over the past two years, but it was still enjoyable.

46)  The First Commandment  (Brad Thor)
I'm on my way to The Patriot, finally.  I liked this one, as usual.  A very good use of Biblical plagues...

45)  Glenn Beck's Common Sense  (Glenn Beck)
I enjoyed this book, but I am finding that right-wing nutjobbery just doesn't do the same thing for me that it used to do.  Back when I read Larry Elder or Dinesh D'Souza for the first time, I had never been exposed to writers who said the things I was thinking.  Now that I surround myself with likeminded people, these books aren't as shocking as they once were.  Still worthwhile, but they don't pack the punch they once did.

44)  Crazies to the Left of Me, Wimps to the Right  (Bernard Goldberg)
I liked Bias better, but this was a quick read and relatively entertaining.  I also read it in about a day.

43)  Never Again  (John Ashcroft)
My aunt lent me this book while I was visiting my grandparents, and I read it in a day.  I enjoyed reading about the rationale behind the PATRIOT Act and other aspects of 9/11 that I was too clueless to follow at the time.

42)  Eaters of the Dead  (Michael Crichton)
I finished the previous book on my flight out to San Diego and started this one on the way home.  It was unlike his other books, and not really my favorite, but it was OK.

41)  Sphere  (Michael Crichton)
I needed a quick book to read on the airplane, so I always reach for Crichton.  As usual, he didn't disappoint.

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