Monday, October 31, 2005

New SC Nominee En Route 

Word's out that at 8 am today Pres. Bush will be nominating 3rd Cir. Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito, a more polite and soft-spoken version of conservative model Justice Antonin Scalia.

Conservatives are expected to be thrilled. Progressives - not so much.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:01 AM
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Sheryl Swoopes - Out Is In 

WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes has officially come out. Whoo-hoo! I've been a fan of Swoopes since her college days. I had a tape of her last NCAA championships for years - I probably still have it in a trunk with the VCR and the rest of my tapes.

Along with her continuing sponsorship by Nike (which has affirmed their continuing support), she is also the newest face on Olivia Cruise's celebrity roster. She's already done an interview for the Advocate, yet to be published.

Any chance of a cameo on The L Word in Season Three? We can only hope...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 7:20 PM
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bad Idea. Really. Bad. Idea. 

While wandering the aisles of Target yesterday in search of items for use in my kitchen mini-makeover, I came across what has to be the worst soda idea I've ever seen: candy corn soda. This is from Jones Soda, that hip and edgy soft drink company. This is a little too edgy for me. I can't stand candy corn in solid form, and I'm certainly never, ever going to let a liquid format of it pass my lips.

Speaking of wandering the aisles, I should point out that part of what made this a good weekend to redo the kitchen is that it involved my wandering the aisles of Lowes - something The Girl absolutely can't stand. She can wander for hours inside a clothing store like Ralph Lauren, but get her near a home improvement store and her skin crawls. Just the opposite for me. I had a marvelous time walking the aisles, checking out the various outdoor fireplace/fire pits, refrigerators, drawer dishwashers, power tools, shelving options... You get the picture.

The woman at the check out counter confused me momentarily when after she gave me my receipt she inquired, "You don't have a cart?" *I stare blankly, before answering,* "No." "Are you going to be okay carrying all that?"

I had four 3-foot shelves (I ended up returning one, as I hadn't noticed that it was missing its hardware - how embarassing), and a small plastic bag containing two screwdrivers and a small toolbelt. And I had managed to carry these items loose all around the store and up to the counter before she bagged the smaller things. Did she think I had timed it so that I just made it to the counter before my muscles completely gave out?

"No, I'm fine, thanks. Have a good evening," I replied as I picked up the bag in my right hand and slung the shelving under my left arm and walked out to the parking lot.

I might not have been surprised at such a comment from someone in a chi-chi clothing store, but not from a woman working at a home improvement center. Doesn't she know about women actually being capable and self-sufficient? They should make that part of their employee training. Or she should watch Toolbelt Diva.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:52 PM

Kitchen Nightmare No More 

The Nightmare
Originally uploaded by RSLS.
This is what part of our kitchen looked like this morning. But The Girl is away for the weekend, so I put into action my secret makeover plan. Yesterday I went out to Target and Lowes, and came home with a new microwave cart, three wall shelves, some shelf liners, two new phillips head screwdrivers (the old ones were terribly worn, and did more harm than good), and a toolbelt that I just couldn't resist. This project was inspired by unemployment viewings of Toolbelt Diva on the Discovery Home channel. I also picked up some long-lasting lightbulbs for the front and back doors. They've both been burned out for some time now.

This baker's rack is now in the basement, and the cluttered table next to it is in the office. To see the whole story, check out the Kitchen Mini-Makeover Tale photoset. As always, remember that the slideshow option doesn't show the running commentary. Instead, click on the first photo in the thumbnails to see the larger view and description, then click Next under the thumbnails on the right to move through the set.

Warning - the Before photos are not for those appalled by clutter! TCU, you'd better sit down before viewing.

I'm curious to see how long it takes The Girl to notice when she gets home tomorrow...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 5:23 PM
Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Parking Community 

I've recently taken to driving in to school rather than taking the T, especially since I'm not coming from work any more. The hotel garage across the street from school accepts parking validation from school, which if you park after 5 pm drops the price from $14 to $8. Given that I don't have a T pass this month, and with the construction problems on the Orange Line (slow, crowded shuttle buses after 9:00 officially, but really after 8:45 or even 8:30 sometimes) pushing me to take the Red Line, and given that going that route would cost me $7.50 ($1.25 each way on the T, plus $5 to park at Alewife) and take me an hour to get home, I've decide it's worth the extra 50 cents to park at school and get home in under 30 minutes.

So far after classes I've validated the ticket on the way out of the building, walked over to the hotel and taken the garage elevator pretty much alone. Maybe one other person. Not last night. It was like a Red Sox game letting out. There was a mob of my classmates waiting for the elevator. When the first one came, two of us just decided to wait for the next. By the time that one came the mob had refreshed. It was quite jovial and communal, though. Clearly there's this whole parking garage subcommunity of which I was previously unaware.

As I approached my car I realized that I had neglected to get the validation stamp, so I headed back to the elevators. Just as I got to the doors, another mob disembarked. A few chuckled and asked what I forgot, and I told my tale of distracted woe. This one woman said, "Just tell them you forgot. I mean, look at us - do we look like hotel guests? We're obviously students!!! I never pay full price when I forget!"

So I went back to the Jeep and got in the long line for the ticket booths. Usually I just drive on up, but given the crowds, it took a while. I explained the situation, the guy asked for my student ID and he wrote the number on the ticket. On my way. And I've now bonded with a whole new set of classmates.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:44 PM
Tuesday, October 18, 2005

NH Foliage 

NH Foliage
Originally uploaded by RSLS.
The Girl and I set out on Sunday for our Fall Foliage Tour. Check out the photoset for all the shots and full commentary.

Remember - if you choose the slideshow option, you only see the pictures. If you want the commentary for each photo, click on the first picture in the set, then click Next under the thumbnails on the right.

There's more than just pictures of leaves. It's a road trip.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:43 AM
Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fall Foliage Tour 

Since today the sun has finally decided to show up for the first time in weeks, and it coincides perfectly with the peak fall foliage in New Hampshire, The Girl and I are heading out for our annual Fall Foliage Tour. Our primary destination is Wolfboro, NH, in the Lakes Region, and then we'll fan out from there.

Pictures (hopefully) to follow...

Posted by Beth Henderson at 10:07 AM
Saturday, October 15, 2005

Deadline DOA 

So I'm at school right now, all set for the American Constitution Society matinee showing of Deadline, the documentary that followed George Ryan, then-governor of Illinois, through his examination of the state's death penalty system, and his eventual suspension of the death penalty, blanket clemency to all death row inmates, and pardons to a few.

We've got snacks and beverages, a number of people expressed their interest and intent to attend, and I've got the whole AV logistics up and ready to go.

And I'm all alone. Not even any of the other executive board members bothered to show.

So the question now is, how long do I wait to see if any stragglers come in? Or do I just watch it myself? Sigh.
UPDATE (7:19 pm): Someone else finally showed up around 10 minutes after the start time. She lost track of the time in the library. So the two of us munched on snacks, had some soda, and watched the first 7 chapters of the DVD. Unfortunately, then the DVD refused to play chapters 8, 9 or 10. I tested it at home, and it's the DVD, not the player. But we had a pleasant time and interesting conversation. So there.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 1:59 PM
Friday, October 07, 2005

Pumpkin Throwing Extravaganza 

Last weekend The Girl and I drove up to New Hampshire for Alumni Weekend at her alma mater, New England College. We stayed with one of her college roommates, Special K. It was a fabulous weekend, but particularly noteworthy was the pumpkin throwing. I know, you're now asking, "What?" That was exactly my reaction when The Girl first mentioned it. I was asking if I could wear the same outfit during the day that I was planning on wearing out to dinner that evening, and she suggested I probably wouldn't want to wear the pinstripe blazer to the pumpkin throwing event. She said she wished she'd had the camera handy to take a picture of my expression as I repeated, "Pumpkin. Throwing. Event?"

Not A Freak recently posted her thoughts on Martha Stewart and pumpkin rowing, which sounds entertaining, but this was something again. Once we hooked up with Special K and headed on out to the airfield for the Henniker Pumpkin Throw of 2005. This event started in 2001 by the guy who owns the airfield. There was lots of free food, plus a small airplane and helicopter that were taking people up for rides. But the main feature were the two trebuchets, one by the host and one by students at NEC. The students were working very hard on theirs, spending a great deal of time pulling, measuring the ropes, tying things off, etc. There were about a dozen of them in charge of pulling the ropes to load the thing up, and they were all straining. Before they got ready to go, Bob (the host) wrangled a handful of little kids to pull the single rope on his streamlined contraption (mea culpa, I did not have my camera with me - maybe next year), he locked the mechanism and the kids went back to watching. Then he loaded a pumpkin and (after clearing the area behind just in case) casually unleashed his creation, which elegantly swung around and sent the hapless pumpkin in a graceful arc over the field and towards the targets. It was quite a sight.

Eventually things were ready to go over at the NEC trebuchet. The rope handlers (all with gloves) tugged and strained on their twin leads while the pumpkin was loaded. On the set signal of "RUN AWAY," the handlers all released the ropes and scattered in all directions. Good thing, too, because the counterweight dropped, dragging the pumpkin in its little sling but then the pumpkin fell from its sling before even leaving the ground. The trebuchet continued on its wobbly path, but not in a smooth gliding fashion - more of a herky-jerky, side to side motion, with all connectors creaking. When it reached the top of its arc (when the pumpkin would have gone on its way had it stayed along for the ride), apparently the machine felt it was obligated to throw something, so it broke off the top half of itself and chucked it several feet ahead. The entire thing then continued its creaking, rocking, wobbling activity until it finally came to rest.

The students then gathered for pictures, got some food, and everyone watched Bob launch many more pumpkins over the course of the afternoon. We took our leave after a few, but the party seemed ready to continue throughout the day.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:38 AM

I'd Rather Be Kayaking 

RSLS Jeep in Orleans
Originally uploaded by RSLS.

Last month I took a few days to go to the Cape. Being out on the water sure beat the hell out of sitting in my former cube. When I got back, several people commented that unemployment looks good on me - I had gotten lots of sun and ocean air.

The house belongs to a friend of my family. When my parents moved into the neighborhood in which I grew up, my sister was four years old. One of the neighbors down the street got wind of their arrival (this was 6 years before I was born), and marched up to my parents' house, introduced herself and her child in tow, and said, "I hear you have a 4-year old. Perhaps your 4-year-old and my 4-year-old can be friends." And so they were. And so they still are, almost 50 years later (47 in fact, but "almost 50" sounds more dramatic).

Check out the whole photoset of the trip here.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:03 AM
Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Supreme Court Decisions 

Pat Buchanan is currently the guest on NPR's Here and Now, and the topic is Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers. Buchanan's position is that Miers is in no way qualified to sit on the Supreme Court, and the "moral, cultural and social decisions" that are decided there.

Funny, I was under the impression that the Supreme Court made legal decisions, and that the conservatives are generally in favor of the justices leaving the moral, cultural and social decisions to the legislature, as the elected representatives of the people. I guess that's only when the moral, cultural and social decisions are those on which the justices and the conservative powers disagree.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 12:10 PM
Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Where's the Rational Basis? 

Hopefully it won't even get out of committee, but a bill currently in the Health Finance Commission of the Indiana General Assembly would severely limit access to reproductive technology and to court-determined establishment of parenthood. Among the requirements a woman seeking such technology as artificial insemination are:
  • Marriage to a person of the opposite sex
  • Proof of participation in church or faith-based activities
A court being asked to establish parentage of a child born through reproductive technology would require the assessment certificate and another certificate from the physician, stating that the woman met the requirements.

No parentage could be established in court to a parent who had been convicted of such crimes as:
  • Murder
  • Reckless homicide
  • Neglect of a dependent
  • Felony battery
  • Drug offense
Now I'm merely a constitutional scholar in the making, but I'm pretty sure most of these requirements would be an infringement on a fundamental right, and could be fairly easily shown to be in conflict with established case law. This isn't a case of the state refusing to fund access to technology - it's a flat-out bar on access.

Senator Patricia Miller, chair of the Health Finance Commission, supports the bill. I've been trying to locate the full text of the bill, but have not been successful. I'll give it another go tomorrow, but for now I'll have to rely on the news article. (UPDATE: Here's the link to HFC004, courtesy of Chaotic Goodnik)

A separate bill (HB1684) authored by Rep. Van Haaften would require the state, group health insurance plans and HMOs to fund diagnosis and treatment for infertility, for the birth of one child, including use of artificial insemination. No restrictions appear on that bill.
UPDATE (10/6/05): "The issue has become more complex than anticipated and will be withdrawn from consideration by the Health Finance Commission," she said.

State Sen. Patricia Miller's entire statement regarding dropping the proposed bill.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 9:46 PM

Static Justice 

Pres. Bush today held a press conference to defend his nomination of White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Regarding her judicial philosophy, the president had this to say:
"I've known her long enough to know she's not going to change, that 20 years from now she will be the same person with the same judicial philosophy she has today," Bush said. "She'll have more experience. She'll have been a judge, but nevertheless the philosophy won't change, and that's important to me."

So apparently in the president's perfect world, not only is the US Constitution a static, stagnating document, but the people who hear cases are also static, stagnating entities who never change, even over the course of 20 years. Good to know that the ability to learn and grow not only are not important qualities in those the president appoints to high office, but actually are qualities to be shunned and avoided in those individuals. Explains a lot. Like why Justices Thomas and Scalia are his ideal justices.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:16 AM
Monday, October 03, 2005

Unemployment File 

This being not only the first day of the new term of the Supreme Court, but also my first official day off the payroll of my former company, I made the requisite call to the Dept. of Unemployment and Training. After being on hold for about 15 minutes, I answered the required and optional questions, received instructions, and can start filing for unemployment starting on Sunday.

I'm in the big time now, baby.

Posted by Beth Henderson at 3:39 PM