Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Gustav

I think it's very creepy that the Gulf Coast is getting ready for another big hurricane, just as it was three years ago. Actually, I hope it's not preparing in the same way as three years ago and I have faith that it's not. Is anyone else with me on this or am I being unrealistically hopeful that the Bush administration can learn from its mistakes? Maybe? No?

I remember that after the U.S. government let its people starve and drown in New Orleans in 2005, this country receive offers of aid relief from the rest of the world. This is from one of my blog posts of September 2005:

So the following countries have offered relief aid for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina: Canada, France, Germany, England, Australia, the usual U.S. supporters. Austria, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Greece have sent offers, too. But did you know that the great big rich United States is receiving offers of assistance from Mexico, Israel, Hungary, China, South Korea, Colombia and Venezuela? Now it's getting embarassing. Honduras, Colombia and Jamaica have also offered to send relief aid to help OUR U.S. citizens. We've even received pledges of relief funds from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka. And the Dominican Republic. And El Salvador.

I'm imagining Switzerland turning to the Netherlands and saying, "Hey, over in America thousands are suffering from having no drinking water. We'd better do something!" I'm imagining El Salvador turning to Honduras and saying, "Can you believe it's been four days since the hurricane passed and those people still have no food? We'd better get busy. I've got five dollars in my pocket, how much do you have?"

Jesus Christ on a stick...


It won't be that way again. It can't be.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

There are only two choices

1. I like Joe Biden. I think the Obama campaign made an excellent choice. Joe has several things Obama doesn't have, one of which is a sense of humor that plays well to large crowds! He's funny. I haven't noticed Barack Obama being funny, but I think that's because he too careful to be funny, like the way some people approach first dates. Joe's funny. I like funny.

2. If you're planning a wedding these days, I think you can pretty much name your price for services like photography, catering, etc. The economy is bad, no one's spending any money, and the wedding industry is hurting, too. I cast out a few emails to some wedding photographers for our party in September (this is our big chance to get some really good, professional photos of ourselves as a new couple). And then I couldn't get rid of these people! I kept getting emails and phone calls from these photographers who kept saying I should book soon before their schedule filled up. That line works once, but after the fifth contact attempt, you look desperate no matter what you say. This seems to be the right climate in which to be planning a big party. Just name your price.

3. Chicago had dry weather all week. Our company picnic was scheduled for Friday, 11:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m. I worked on the picnic committee for weeks and we anxiously watched the weather forecast, which predicted rain for Friday and Saturday. Rain on Friday, after a whole week of mockingly dry, clear weather? Finally, that morning, it dawned bright and humid. Yay! It had never rained and the ground was perfectly dry. We'd have our picnic!

I signed up to play the first games, which were all physical: three-legged race, egg-in-spoon relay, pass-the-sand. Incredibly, I was on the winning team each time! People started to say that Regina was the secret weapon. Is it because I work out every day and not everyone does? Was it my picnic enthusiasm and joy that the weather had held? I don't know, but I was on fire. In the raffle, I even won the prize I had my eye on: an overnight stay at a local hotel. What a great day. And there were more game to come.

Then, at 12:30 p.m, as I finished my first bowl of ice cream, the rain started. At 1:00 p.m. the thunder joined in and we had to abandon the picnic. In a full downpour, we dejectedly took down all the games, packed up all the prizes and slumped back to work.

Then at 2:00 p.m. -- too late to matter -- the rain stopped, the sun came back out and it went back to being bright and clear. It never even rained on Saturday, the other day it was supposed to rain. It was clear skies before the picnic and clear skies after the picnic. The only hour it rained all week, was that one hour it took to ruin our picnic.

Unbelievable. I was so disappointed. Does this confirm that it's a godless, random universe or that there is a "God" and he's a rotten b@#$%^?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More women are having fewer children, if at all

Here's Newsweek's article, "More women are having fewer children, if at all," with my comments in brackets:

More women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

[Yay, us!]

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent [I'm 42]. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, is the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns. About 4.2 million women participating in the survey, which was conducted from January through December 2006, had had a child in the previous year. The statistics could be used by state agencies to provide maternal care services, the report said.

[I recently heard on NPR that part of the hope for the future of the planet is if the wealthiest nations, such as some European countries and the US, have fewer children. Those of us that suck up the most resources per person, that is, some European countries and the US, need to reduce our populations in order to reduce the burden on our global resources. But maybe we don't need a population control policy if we women can just keep moving in the right direction here!]

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. [No way!] About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Unemployed women had about twice as many babies as working women, although women in the labor force accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of recent births. Only a quarter of all women who had a child over the past year were living below the poverty level.

Coupled with fertility data collected biannually, the report also revealed longer term trends, including how second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers.

[Oh, yeah, I support that data. By the way, if my grandmother was born in Mexico and my mother was born in the U.S., am I second generation or third? I thought the first generation was the generation that immigrated, making me third. But this article suggests that I'm second generation. Anyone?]

Friday, August 15, 2008

Always a bride, never a bride-to-be

Bob and I are sort of doing this whole getting married thing backwards. We got married in a civil ceremony last March, then we flew to Houston so he could meet my parents and family at a celebration in August and now I'm getting ready to have a similar party with Chicago friends in September. Because of pressure from others, I'm finally establishing a traditional bridal registry. Get married, meet family, do a bridal registry. This is my life.

I'm doing my registry at Macy's since that's easy for me. They've got lots of stuff and I can maintain the registry online. Note: Macy's gives you a nice red tote bag just for sitting down and saying, "I'd like to set up a bridal registry." It's great. You also get free gifts just for registering certain brands, but you have to be registering for hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise. It's the first chance I've ever had to get a free gift just for indicating that I'd like others to buy me stuff.

A friend of mine who got married 14 years ago said she kind of envies me because she'd love the chance to set up a registry all over again. She was 25 when she did hers and she chose a lot of things she's never even used. I'm imagining towel warmers and espresso makers, but I think she's also talking about dishes and flatware that really aren't her style. She got them because they matched the china she was inheriting and had the traditional style she thought she was supposed to own. Now she's old enough to know what she wants, but there's no one lined up to buy her bedding and houseware now.

So there's one advantage to getting married for the first time when we're in our 40's: Bob and I know what we like and what we really need. We're not clouded by visions of cooking exotic meals together with our Calphalon wok. We know exactly what our kitchen needs and it's not cookware (it's glassware).

As I sat there with my Macy's registry consultant, I saw another consultant helping another party. They were a young woman, an older woman and a young man. I guessed this was a (very) young bride with her mother and her (very) young husband-to-be. The guy sprawled in his chair, lounging in an orange t-shirt and dun-colored shorts. He looked like he belonged in a dorm room. The woman and her mother sat stiffly, focused on every word of the consultant's descriptions. I felt very glad to be there alone. I feel sorry for young brides whose tastes get dominated by a mother who thinks she knows what her daughter should want. Actually, what I believe is that many brides sacrifice their weddings to their mothers. The mother ends up deciding how everything should be, the bride doesn't really get what she wants, and then the cycle repeats when that bride grows up and has a daughter. It's as if each generation needs to create the wedding they didn't get to have because their mother took over their wedding. Actually, as I read over my theory I can see that it describes an extreme that probably doesn't describe every wedding. I guess it's possible that there are nice mothers, too, who let their daughters choose the kind of event (and life) they want. But I doubt that's the majority.

Later, as I wandered through the forest of stemware displays, I spied a different young couple. As the young woman evaluated wine glasses, the (very young) man picked up a heavy glass paperweight, shaped as a golf club head. He playfully held it up to her. She unsmilingly glanced at it and moved on. Poor kids. He was trying to make this boring task fun while she endured the pressure of having to outfit an entire household flawlessly when she doesn't really know what she wants or what she's doing. I'm so glad to be an old bride with no one accompanying me.

I was sure that Bob and I really didn't need anything anyway, but it turns out that he's ready to replace a lot of our bed and bath stuff, plus he wants drinking glasses that match. We each lived alone for a long time before we met, but because neither of us ever married or lived with anyone, we continued to use the mismatched stuff you accumulate when you start your temporary life and then never update. In our 40's, we're kind of living as if we're in our 20's and just moved in together.

On Saturday I will go back down to Macy's and get my bridal registry going in earnest. I've been married for almost five months. It's time to start acting like a bride-to-be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Whiny

I just re-read what I posted yesterday and it sounds whiny and defensive. Now I'd like to apologize for that. It's entirely reasonable for a readership to expect regular postings from a blogger who has previously always posted regularly. I didn't mean to come off as defensive.

I will try to post again before the end of the weekend. It does strike me as funny, though, that two of the people who have requested my return are bloggers who have sort of abandoned their own blogs (Yes, you, Obesio and Modigli). But I thank everyone for their interest in my continued blogging. I have NOT abandoned my project.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Trying to blog

I apologize to everyone for abandoning my blog, but what can I even blog about these days? I don't have time and focus for politics. The job hunt is over. Married life is going well and I don't even have anything to complain about. To write about the process of introducing my new husband to my family is too dangerous to do publicly (that's where we've been for the past three days because I don't say, "Mom, Dad, this is my new boyfriend." I say, "Mom, Dad, this is my new husband."). Writing about the process of getting ready to host a gathering at which I'll meet many of Bob's friends is also un-politic and I'm not comfortable doing that publicly, either. You see, everyone I know and am related knows about and reads my blog. I'll never put anything on here that will get me in trouble because I know that my audience is the entire planet (unlike those delusional bloggers who keep their identifying information off of their blog and think they're safe to spill it all. No blog stays anonymous and if you post stuff that you want certain people to never see, you're an idiot).

I haven't noticed anything going on in the general culture that has caught my attention and evoked a response. And this week I'll be be busy for the next three nights after work. My job goes from 9 a.m. to 5 pm. and there is no time at all for blogging on the job (those days are over). So what can I blog? When can I blog? I'm afraid this is it for another week. At least.