Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lead Dog Syndrome

On my daily commute, I see the "usual suspects" and the usual - once foreign, now common-place - behaviors. Cell phone conversations that slow the driver ahead of you to a crawl; women putting on make-up (the mascara in the rear view mirror always annoys me for some reason); men balancing a newspaper with their coffee cup as they drive; my husband's all-time favorite: teens texting as they drive... And the most recent behavior I've witnessed, I've decided to christen "Lead-Dog Syndrome." I've had huskies for most of my adult life. Huskies are outstanding sled dogs, and from what I'm told about mushers, they know a good lead dog when they see it. That's the dog who always wants to be in front. Always. No matter where the dog is in the formation, the one who ends up being "lead dog" is the one who is bound and determined to make its way to the front and stay there. Today, on the way in to work, I saw the most aggressive exhibition of that syndrome. Mind you, on one of the routes I take, it is an interstate highway, though the part near my home is a 2-lane road. It's narrow. There's a big old valley on one side, and a forest preserve on the other side. And very low guard rails. And no where to go if some idiot is driving like his or her shorts are on fire. Anyway, this person (I didn't catch the gender because of the movement of the vehicle) was in one of those small cross-over autos. And the driver was zipping in and out between us - no signal of course, because that might have been courteous or (gasp!) safe. The driver actually didn't get very far because he or she was only getting ahead one car at a time, and this 2-lane highway does have stop lights on it. What causes this? What is the point? Are you really getting that far ahead? Do you know how absolutely annoying your behavior is? And shouldn't you get a safer hobby - like, say, maybe fire-eating? Traffic on this road in particular is very congested for a number of reasons: increase population; route change because of construction; high volume of large trucks. This driver didn't give a hang. He or she was GOING TO BE IN FRONT if it killed him (or her) - or anyone else in front of that vehicle. I would suggest to those who absolutely insist on being in first do one of a couple of things: get up wayyyyyyyyyyy earlier than the rest of us so you have the road to yourself; find alternate routes that nobody but the geese are using; or, my personal favorite: deal with the fact that if you do want to get to the head of the line, sign up for the Iditarod. I hear there's plenty of space on that trail.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is too much.

I'm supposed to be in a very "valuable" demographic, at least as far as one Democratic contender for the presidency is concerned. I'm a woman in her 50s. I'm college educated, have a Master's Degree and I'm white. And I am so far out of her preferred demographic that it's not even funny. Especially now. Hillary Clinton, the woman who's gotten the farthest in any presidential contest in this country, has just, in my opinion, torched herself. Well and truly torched her chances of any sort of victory. Well and truly alienated any thinking woman or man in his or her 50s. Commenting on the reason for her not dropping out, she brought up the assassination of Robert Kennedy in California. The 40th anniversary of that killing is coming up soon. On the heels of Ted Kennedy's recent, devastating diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor. And, when the comments elicited the righteous outrage they deserved, her spokesperson in essence said that (a) Hillary didn't exactly say that; and (b) people were "reading too much into that." Hillary herself noted that she was just quoting history. No. Well, yes. Yes, she WAS just quoting history. But she was quoting - and invoking - the most bleak and painful aspect of our history as a nation. Our history of killing our leaders is long, considering the actual age of our country. We are, after all, only 232 years old. And during that time, people who have either mental imbalance or some weird sense of their own importance or the importance of their own agenda, have tried (often succeeding) to kill our president. The list of those killed: Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Kennedy. The list of those attempts: Jackson, T. Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, Ford, Reagan. Let's not forget that RFK and MLK also gave their lives. And they weren't presidents - they were, however, leaders. So. She's put out there what, probably, many people have worried about. But many of us who may have, and still do have, concerns about this do not have a worldwide platform upon which to air our views. We keep them inside, or talk about them to close friends. She "put it out there in the air" as my guitar teacher says. And then subsequent namby-pamby pseudoapology? Did she ever stop to consider that the same whacko that might consider putting a bullet in one candidate's head might well target her? Or, since her "sniper fire in Bosnia" fantasy, has she become immune to the power of a gun?

What is absolutely astounding is the thought that any of us who are old enough to remember the dark times in our history would want them even brought up again! I was a kid in the 60s. But I clearly remember where I was when JFK was killed. I think all of us who are old enough remember that. And all of us are determined, no matter what the past 8 years have been for any of us, to NOT go back to those days where it seemed that our politicians were killed before they could get going. And who knows what it was that they could have accomplished, if they'd have lived. How different would the nation be if each and every person on that list of "successful" attempts had lived his full allotment of years? It was remarked that Hillary is a "professional politician." Well, maybe so. But I don't like her particular version of the game of politics. And I don't appreciate being lumped into a demographic of people who "will" vote for her just because of her - or my - gender. Hillary, you stepped into it up to your hips. There's no graceful way to exit this particular bit of self-inflicted sniper fire. It's time to fold up your tent and go home. Maybe Bill was right in a recent Chicago Tribune article. Maybe it's actually going to be Chelsea's time. And not yours, because you've proven by your many mis-steps that you're just not ready for prime time. Not now, and possibly after all this, not ever.

...And here's Mamma!

Here she is, in all her maternal glory. Pappa divebombs anyone or anything foolish enough to get close. Although they let the goldfinches feed right next to them.


This is a nest - apparently, Mamma Robin has decided that our bird feeder makes a perfect spot for her nest. What a "bird's-eye" view we'll have for the fledglings!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment, May 14, 2008

Here's the link. Pass it to everyone you know. Yes, it IS that important. This is the most cogent, coherent, pithy and precise comments on the current Shrub in the White House that I have seen in a long time. I try to comment on general things, but this one commentary says a lot to me. Can 2009 get here any sooner?