flightless hag

A chronicle of the adventures of birdwoman: a lonely, talentless freak who wanders the internet in search of entertainment.

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Location: Philly

I'm a 40-something married white female, survivor of weight watchers, avid reader of pulp. Dogs (not cats), extreme right (handed, not politics), ENTJ, alto, wanna-be knitter.

July 31, 2005

The Ark of Subaru

I’ve written before about the errant ox sensor in my car. Last week, the check engine light came on again.

It wasn’t because my gas cap wasn’t on tight, either.

Long story short, the garage tells me I have bad cats in my car.

I say, bad cats, meow meow?

Mr. Fixit laughs, and says, catalytic converters. That’s why the intermittent check engine lights.

So, several hundred bucks later, the bad cats have been replaced by good cats.

But I, birdwoman, am not quite at ease. I say a cat is a cat, and no birdwoman worth her bird brain trusts a cat…


July 30, 2005

Trust In The Force, Luke

So, we did this addition onto our house last winter. Our one-car garage became a bedroom/reading room and bathroom.

To furnish this room, I bought a day bed. That’s a twin bed that kinda looks like a couch.

Underneath this bed, there’s a rollaway twin that pops up to the height of the day-bed (theoretically). This gives you a king size bed.

However, the pop-up bed we got pops up to about 3 inches higher than the day-bed. Awesome.

So, my brother says, “give me the outline of the foot of the bed. I’ll make it some lifts.”

Last weekend, he delivered four bricks of wood with indents for the foot of the bed.

Last night, I finally got around to trying them out.

We put the first one under. It looked wobbly and like it wouldn’t support. I say, “This is never gonna work.”

John says, “Trust Larry. He knows what he’s talking about.”

We put the second one on, same results.

We put the third one on, balance starts to occur.

By the fourth, I was eating my words, and wondering if we’d even need the screws that Larry sent along. (Of course, we used them. I’ve learned my lesson here. Larry said to put the screws in, so we did.)

The big test? Pull out the pop-up. … … … It worked!!

Thanks Larry!


July 27, 2005

Misconstrued Lyrics (I)

Here at Spacely’s, I’m on a production team. So when the dookie hits the fan, it’s my team that gets out the latex gloves, bounty towels and windex.

As you can imagine, just about every email we get has a subject line of “Help!” or contains the word “Urgent”.
It’s gotten so that old Foreigner song is our theme song. (We couldn’t even manage something cool like “Bad Boys Bad Boys, what chu gonna do?”)

And every time someone whistles, hums, plays the mp3, I think of Patti S. Back when this song was popular, and we were kids, we were listening to it on the way home from choir practice. And I swear, she thought the word was “virgin”

“Virgin, Emergency.
Virgin.. Virgin… Virgin… Virgin… Emergency!”

And I still ponder to this day, what on earth would a virgin emergency be? Chastity belt rusted, and you gotta take a dump? Dragon on the way, nary a knight in sight?


Score: David 2, Goliath 0

“What’s so small for you is so large for me. If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll make you see.”
Suzanne Vega, Rock In This Pocket

I’ve been following
this story (reg. req.) in the Inquirer on and off for a few years.

Back in 2003, Drexel offered a one year Masters of Business Administration. One of the big draws for this degree was the promise of a 12-day business/education trip to China. Many of the students in this class were drawn to the program with the thought that it could be a foot into that particularly lucrative door.

However, along came SARS.

As the students were preparing to go on the trip, they got wind that Drexel was considering canceling the trip, because they didn’t want to mitigate the risk presented by SARS. (And, to be fair, at the time, there were all sorts of quarantine threats. Also, no one really knew what was going on with the whole disease – Many doubted China was telling the truth about its source, fatality rate, and rate of contagion.)

The students made an appointment with the Dean of the business school and asked to be included in the decision making about the trip. He said they would be, but the next thing any of them knew, as they were celebrating a going away party, they were told to un-pack their bags. Trip was canceled.

The students got peeved, raised a fuss. They had paid their $40K tuition, been promised a trip to China, and wanted that trip. Drexel said they’d do something else. They had a weekend seminar at a hotel, Chinese meal included. Nice.

The students sued. They won.

In the penalty phase, the jury got to decide what penalty Drexel should pay, if anything.

The jury decided, again, in favor of the students. The students who didn’t attend the weekend seminar were awarded $3,464, which was the published cost of the trip. The students who attended the seminar were awarded $3462.01.

That’s right. The jury decided that the weekend seminar with the spiffy dim sum was worth exactly $1.99. Pretty funny, eh?

I’m sure the muckety-mucks at Drexel find it hilarious.


July 21, 2005

Tradition..... Tradition!!

OK, so let's say you're in a family that has some weird habits.

You turn mirrors backwards when someone dies.

You throw the first piece of dough into the fire when you're baking bread.

You don't know why you do these things: just that Mom did them, Grandma did them, and darn it, you're gonna do them, too.

How about some more traditions? Like... You light candles on Friday nights. You don't mix meat and dairy when cooking. You don't eat pork...

These are starting to sound a bit more familiar, right?

Recently, I read a wonderful book called Blood Secret. It's a story of a girl who finds herself in a family with these traditions, and who figures out, in a mystical way, that these traditions exist because her family is Jewish. Only, they don't know it. (My review is up on Amazon, if you're interested in more hot air from me on this book... )

Kathryn Lasky was inspired to write this book by an article in the New York Times, I believe it's the one transcribed here, about the crypto-Jews of New Mexico. These are Jews who were hounded through the middle ages through Europe, ran to the new world, and finally, to the Indian frontier, trying to escape persecution, pretending to be or actually adopting the Catholic faith as a matter of self-preservation. But they always kept some of their Jewish traditions.

Now, I know nothing of Jewish history but what I've read here. But it's utterly fascinating, in an "oh my god how did they live through that" kind of way. (and this doesn't even come near Hitler's holocaust!)

Once again, it makes me wonder. Those who have these zionist conspiracy theories - if Jews are so powerful, how come they're afraid STILL to come out of the closet, per say, and admit their own heritage?

If nothing else, read the NYT article. It's worth the effort! (Now, there's a sentiment you won't read from me often.)


Here's To You, Mrs. Robinson

I was listening to the radio today, and they were discussing the case of a 23 year old teacher who slept with a 14 year old student.

The student was male.

The teacher was female.

I know that the knee-jerk reaction is "teacher should go to jail." But, the reaction is much stronger when that teacher is male. No matter the sex of the student. Why is that?

A few years back, I was reading this book (yeah, I do that sometimes) called The Reader. It's a relatively short but pithy book, written by a German man. (It's also the only book on the original Oprah list that doesn't make you want to commit hari kari.) Our Hero is a fifteen-year-old male who is having a lascivious affair with a much older woman.

When Mr. Schlink was discussing this on the Oprah show, one of the women in the audience remarked on the fact that this was statutory rape, that the woman was taking advantage... and the author remarked that he only heard this comment in America. That, in Europe, it is a rite of passage for a teenaged-boy to get busy with an older woman.

What think you? Normal? Do you have the same reaction if the teacher is male vs. female?


It’s Fun To Play at the YMCH

So the Heir and the Moth both go to daycare. What else is one to do with one’s offspring whilst pushing the buttons at Spacely’s Sprockets?

Our daycare is standard. They’ve got a few great teachers, mostly good teachers, and a high turnover. They cost a lot, but the goslings are safe. I don’t ask for much more.

But they do.

They’re always asking us to come in and do something with the kids. Come to a party. Come read to the kids. Volunteer your time.

Dude, if I had time, I’d be spending it with my kids. I work 25 miles from home, and daycare is next to home. (John also works 25 miles, but in a different direction.) If they want me to volunteer for an hour, it’s 2 hours, minimum, from work for me. This is not easy: Mr. Spaceley gets awfully upset if my desk is vacant for long periods of time!

Yet, somehow, I get guilted into it. Monday, after having my crown ripped off (no, not my princess crown, either) at the dentist, I went and read a story to the kiddies.

Today, I’m going with the kids to their swimming activity at the YMCA. Yes, I’ll be on a schoolbus for the first time in like 15 years, singing along with Village People.

I figure these two things put me in the black for at least six months.


July 16, 2005

The Suspense is Over; I’m Exhausted

Well, I did the most juvenile thing last night. I waited in line at my local Barnes and Noble until 12:30 am. I got my grubby hands on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (sorry, too bloody tired to look up a hyperlink for you). I decided to read enough to quench my questions (OWLS? Umbridge? Etc) and ended up looking at a clock that read 4am. Mind you, I usually get up around 4:45. Not smart at all!

But I have a wonderful husband who enables my habit by taking care of the goslings and letting me sleep.

I don’t dare admit this little action to my mother - when Order of the Phoenix came out, my niece did the very same thing and my mom was, like, totally disgusted that she was sleeping til noon because she had stayed up til 6am reading. And she was a teenager at the time!! I have NO EXCUSE!!

Well, I’m off to join a small discussion board to ooh and aah over what I read last night.

One tiny, irrelevant but must-be-shared side note: we got Chinese food last night. My fortune: “Birds are entangled by your feet, and men by their tongue.” That’s right – it called me a bird. Excellent.


OH BTW Mike if you read this: I missed Beansie’s birthday. Work has become the place of hell, and the store where her present is coming from closes by 7pm daily. But they’re open today!! Check the mail next week!

July 13, 2005

Tell me, what’s right?

I was reading a story in the Philly Inquirer this morning (reg. req.) that totally torqued me.

This story is a question of consequences, responsibility, and rights.

In June, a young girl killed when struck by a motor vehicle. The driver didn’t stay around to report the damage. The police eventually found said vehicle and proved that it was, indeed, the weapon that killed the young girl. But the owner of that vehicle refuses to talk to police about who was driving the vehicle when the accident occurred.

Let me say that again. The owner of the car, who, by the by, has a record of driving under the influence, refuses to tell police who was behind the wheel of her car when that car mowed down a kid.

Now, I fully realize that one cannot coerce her into talking. It is her right to remain silent.

But, Good Christ, it is not RIGHT of her to remain silent.

It reminds me of
the case of Tom Druce, former Pennsylvania Representative, whose car struck a homeless man. (Caution: read at your own risk. May cause excessive anger.)

He, too, fled the scene. He used his position and means to get himself a sentence of two to four years.

That’s right.

He killed a dude, tried to cover it up, then ended up coming clean only to receive a slap on the wrist. The real knicker-twister in this case is that the creep, last I knew, was avoiding serving his term while living at home (swanky Bucks County) and working a cushy job, while his appeals were pending. Yeah, he has to wear a dog collar or something to make sure he doesn’t “run”. But otherwise, Martha Stewart did harder time than he did. And, last I checked, she didn’t kill anybody.

So, I’m going to add my voice to many on the blogosphere. Who’s gonna stand for the “rights” of the victims, here? Whether it’s a homeless Vietnam vet or a cute kid just starting life, they’re certainly not getting any justice.


July 12, 2005

50 Things I Love About Philly In No Order Particularly - #40

(Like the title says, this is a list of things I've loved about philly, in the 17 years I've lived in this area. Also, like the title says, they're in no particular order. It's also not an inculsive list. These were just the first fifty that popped into my head. I'm gonna dish one up fresh, weekly. Also, I've started at the "bottom" to keep you tuned in. It's part of my nefarious plan for readership. Mwa-ha-ha-haaaaa.)

Washington Crossing

OK, so it’s not really in Philly, but it’s a local landmark. Washington Crossing is – well, just what its name suggests – the place where Washington et al crossed the Delaware River.

It’s a cool little place, very country-ish for its proximity. And it has a really cool lookout tower.

It was there that, back in 1997, John and I, and two of our friends, went to observe the Hale-Bopp comet. We drove up that “mountain” road – hey, we’re back east, and not in the Appalachians, either, but it is a really big hill for the area – on that cold but clear early-spring night. We took our binoculars and trained them on the comet.

Then we got in the car, and went back home.

But it really is a cool place! And a cool memory!

(side note, I really did look, and I didn't see ANY mother ship coming down behind the comet!)


July 08, 2005

Welcome To The Monkey House

So, I was driving into work yesterday, listening to the XM Radio. A song comes on that’s quite catchy (kinda like Ebola…). The chorus, “And it’s money that will make the monkey dance.”

Now where on earth did that lyric come from? What made that songwriter put that particular image in his head?

I understand “
brass monkey”, “monkey on your back”, and even “shock the monkey” – though that one gives me frightening mental images.

But money making a monkey dance? Whack, I say.

And what is this fascination with monkeys? How many songs are about kangaroos? I know of none. Marsupial racism, that.

I’m going to get to the bottom of this. Right after I eat a pint of chunky monkey.

(notice, I couldn’t find any good way to work in the spanking of said mammal… until now. No monkey post would be complete without it.)


July 04, 2005

Of Lechery

The post below has inspired a conversation in the dusty aviary.

I’d always thought of a letch as an old man who ogled little girls. (side note here, is it kind of weird that lechery has its base in the Germanic word to LICK? Yukk.) But apparently, it’s not just inappropriate sexual thoughts. It’s any strong sexual thoughts. So, I guess most people are letches.

So, we were discussing my guilty feelings upon ogling one I thought was so much younger than I. I tried explaining to John. He looked at me with confusion. He didn’t understand my guilt.

“Men look at this differently than women,” he patiently explains. “We realize that as long as it is not making anyone uncomfortable, and we don’t act on it… well, it’s natural for us to look at young women that way. They’re titillating.” (no joke, he used that word. Talk about ironic!)

So, all of you readers older than 28 – is it natural? Should you feel guilty?


Oops! I Did It Again!

Hope that doesn’t get that bad Britney (redundancy alert) earworm stuck in anyone’s head.

I went to the movies with my movie buddy on Saturday night. I paid $9.50 to see
Batman Begins, which I almost totally loved. Detractions? I really, really hate wanton destruction of beauty in movies (eg: Any temple or city or beautiful house in The Mummy or it’s Returning sibling). And I wasn’t so hot on the ending. It was almost like they were like, “OK, that’s enough movie. Let’s just leave now." Katie Holmes’s character had a rod the size of the Washington Monument up her arse. And, of course, I spent a few hours feeling like a lecher ogling Christian Bale who must be at least 10 years younger than I am. Sigh. That’s what I call guilty pleasure.

As I figured it was a night out, I treated myself to some M&M’s and some diet coke, which cost the equivalent of a wedding feast in Ethiopia.

At the end of the flick, what do you know,
War of the Worlds was just starting across the hall. So I got to see that, too! Just take the cost of M&M’s and coke as my ticket, guys. It was a good rollercoaster, refreshingly free of the clichéd Jeff Goldblum-like geek who saves humanity against the stern opinions/orders of the constipated, old, white Generals. And Spielberg didn’t veer from the book too much. It was good, scary fun.

Batman was better, though.

All in all, quite a fun evening. And the traffic wasn’t too bad because all the crowd gluttons were downtown, trying to get a glimpse of the Black-Eyed Peas or something.

Aren’t you jealous?


Update: He's only 3 years younger than I am, so I'm not such a dirty old birdwoman, after all!

July 02, 2005

White Boys In The Sun

So, here’s the heir and the spare. You can tell from the Moth’s day-glo skin that we’ve seen a lot of sun. You’d never know that John got a pool pass for him and the boyz to use while Ma is still off pushing the button at Spaceley’s Sprockets.

See, Florida is mighty pretty. But not as pretty as my boys!


One-Horse Town Makes Big Time

You know, I was kinda surprised to see my hometown on the front page of Philly’s main newspaper. Was there a flood? Locusts? Nah.

I don’t think we got this much press when the F-5 tornado ripped through 10 years ago, leaving mass destruction in its wake.

So what’s got the world on its ear? That redundant being, the
philandering politician.

Years ago, my mom’s hometown (Montrose, PA) was made famous due to the cold case file of my kind-of-cousin (hell, we’re all related up there, somehow) killing some dude in a
“hunting accident”. I remember watching cold case files or something like it and seeing this familiar story… and sho’ nuff, there’s Dr. Scher, defending himself against the murder charges.

Sorry, but Don Sherwood diddling some lady and possibly slapping her around just isn’t news to me. Hell, it wasn’t news to me when it was the President of the United States and the woman was barely as old as his daughter.

But imagine my surprise when Gables Donuts gets a first page mention in the Inquirer?! I guess the reporter was impressed (as she should be) with the quality of Gables’ products. Yummy.

Dammit, now I’m hungry!