Thursday, August 31, 2006


This is a visual summary of the three insects which "attacked" me Saturday.

I'm sure they feel the same way, but still, when you have to battle a praying mantis stowed away in the back seat of the car with the cardboard recycling, watch a broken-legged cicada hobble around 39th Street's sidewalk and then find a giant grasshopper on your clothes you're airing out on the porch after a night of taking them to bars, it just adds up funny.

Big buggy eyes everywhere. . .

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Just east of some big city

Tonight, folks will be a'gatherin' to discuss big ideas - things like Freedom, Democracy and Greatness. Alors, Voltaire is dead, mes amis, along with Rousseau and even the more visceral Cortes. I wasn't there, so I don't know if the romantic notions we assign these men, whose placement in time made them "englightened" is deserved, only that they are considered gods, especially since one of their idealistic creations is the U.S.A.

In an August 15 article that might not be up on the Star's site anymore, an AP writer describes the Overland Park Minuteman chapter and their mission to rid the local area of illegal (Latino) immigrants.

I was struck by the logic employed by one of the quoted men, Ed Hayes, 64, "grandfather." He asserts that immigration status can be determined based on a person's English language skill.

He said:

"If you go to the stores on Saturdays, they're full of people who are legal immigrants, I'm sure. But many of them don't speak our language and you can be assured that they're illegal."

You can be assured that there are a lot of people around here who can't speak English. A certain old Italian-American man, who shall remain nameless, frequently comes to our office to place classified ads but can barely string a sentence together in his heavily-accented broken English.

Plenty of the Vietnamese refugees who came here in 1975 or since then to join their families, did so at the ages of 30 to 50 years old. Their English is not great by any means, I can say based on experience as a teacher exposed to bunches of cultures and language levels.

Some Somalis who have lived here a decade are not able to carry on multi-sentenced conversations.

And I found Mexicans in Mexico who knew perfectly communicable English just based on their watching bilingual broadcasting of American movies and shows.

So I take exception to the view of another man featured in the article, Greg Thompson, also of Hayes' generation, the "bored baby boomer afraid of his own workforce." He describes his training technique:

The Minutemen pick out people (based on their skin color or use of Spanish or ?) and then ask them a series of "simple questions," such as "what is your favorite food?" If people can't answer, a Minuteman is to assume they are illegal and report them to the boss or the cops.

Excuse me, did I just lose my right to refuse to answer some dumb cluck's irrelevant questions?

I'm getting itchy. Little picky bumps of self-righteous discontent are starting to brew under my skin, and I'm getting irritated enough to play at protest. . . .I have brown eyes, so it's not inconceivable that if my Spanish were to get really, really, really good (roll eyes and say "right!"), I could pass for someone foreign or even illegal. It doesn't neccessarily have to be Spanish, but Minutemen right now wouldn't bother with a French or Russian or even hijab-wearing girl right now, would they?

"My favorite food is salsa, mothertrucker, now get out of my space!". . .creepy invasive male. . .

I'm glad the Minutemen named Kansas City a so-called "sanctuary" city (along with Houston), because I don't fancy living somewhere police randomly stop people and ask "papers, please."

When we can't keep people from crossing over freely, even when they are convicted criminals or smugglers of drugs (which I imagine Hayes and Thompson to fear), what is the point of running around attacking people at work and tagging them "illegals?" Yup, yup, yes, it's against the law to cross over without paying the proper ticket-seller, I know. The legal lines are a bit backed up then, wouldn't you say?

That the Minutemen questioner crew also targets employers is a balanced approach, I suppose, to a singular goal. The work-givers do complete the cycle and prove content to soak up the cheapest labor and allow others' wages to be "driven down." Tell me, laborers of Kansas City, has your wage kept up with the cost of living?

Mine has not, but I'm not competing with Latinos. A market is a market is a market. In publication, as in neighborhoods, we seem to be co-existing, and we cross over from time to time culturally. We all have to adapt to get on with things. However, it's much more than language that separates people. Language, in other words, is really not the strongest barrier.

Anyway, should you care to hear "the British are coming!" straight from the horse's mouth or its other parts, I'll make you aware of this:

Help Defend: The Nation’s Borders.
Help Protect: Personal Freedoms.
Help Keep: America and the “State of Missouri” Great.

Membership and Sign-up Meeting
When: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 7:00 PM
Where: Comfort Suites Hotel, 19751 E. Valley View Parkway,Independence, MO.(South of I-70 at Exit 17, west of Little Blue Parkway.)
Who: Members, guests, anyone interested in current immigration and border issues, open to the public.

For more Information Contact Us:
Minuteman Civil Defense Corp
“Missouri Chapter”
P.O. Box 2241
Independence, MO. 64055
(816) 478-0942 or (816) 522-3858


Disclaimer: I'm probably too much of a bigot to show up there myself; I'm afraid of "those people."

*(a description that might make you giggle, if you look at things from the buddhists' point of view, or that of a whale, perhaps)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mexican cement

Everyone has favorite foods, and if they're like me, those change over the years. I recall being addicted to white bread-and-hard salami sandwiches in high school, so thick that the ounce-conscious me of today would have said, "um, you know, that meal represents at least two servings of meat. . . ."

When I was slightly younger, I remember eating about seven Oreoes and a glass of 2% milk on a near-daily after-school basis, and there are strong pre-adolescent memories of ice cream with Cool Whip and Hershey's syrup backgrounded by "She-Ra, Princess of Power" cartoons.

Television, tons of sugar - by America's trends, I should weigh about 250 pounds. Even though during my first year of college, I used to eat dinner, plus three bowls of cereal, plus ice cream over cake, plus sometimes a grilled cheese sandwich in the dining hall, by the grace of genetics, I am not fat.

Eventually, I'll go to the lab and get that cholesterol count done, but let's say that right now, my food of choice is "anything with tomatoes and especially hot peppers."

In other words, I love salsa, I love corn chip products* and recently, I've started in on the bean thing.

A friend of mine who is slightly older than I and thinner, used to amaze me several years ago with the fact that she would bring refried beans to work for lunch. She's not Latina, and neither am I. Back then, I really relegated such fare to "only when it comes slopped on the side of a plate of Mexican food, usually sprinkled with some white cheese and destined to make me gassy and angry later because I ate them after finishing the very-big-enough main dish already."

In the 80s, a babysitter used to make tostadas for us, but I think it's because it was a cheap way to feed four kids.

However, in recent times, I've found that a can of beans (which now come in non-lard varieties, fat-free or "vegetarian") can become quite satisfying for a munchaholic when mixed with fresh jalapeños and other vegetables. A little can costs about $1.29, however, and is only a few servings, especially if they are dished up as part of what goes in the beef, etc. tacos/burritos/whatever one is sharing with ones family of two.

So, imagine my happiness when one day at the Northeast Price Chopper, I saw a whole cart full of 10-pound bags of pinto beans, discounted to $2.

The "El Guapo" beans hung out in my car for a long time after that. Carrying ten pounds of beans up three flights of stairs is something that's very easy to procrastinate, when other perishables are calling out or after work every day when "I'm just too tired" and inevitably lugging other stuff.

Besides, I was hoping someone would notice. Also, I'm one of those people who justifies keeping random stuff in the car "in case of emergencies," and dry beans seem like something you could suck on during the apocalypse to keep you busy and semi-nourished.

For the record, the El Guapo pintos were produced in Iowa.

The directions for how to transform cute speckled beans into the pastey mash I came to know as the "frijolitas" served every morning with the tortillas and eggs when we stayed in Tangancícuaro a few holidays ago were printed in English and Spanish.

I can do this, I said to myself.

It's a simple process, and I've made other beans before. What takes the longest is waiting until you have three solid hours to devote to the task, since waiting for pintos to cook down takes, well, a couple of hours of stove-time.

A few Saturdays ago, I had time.

Since this post is so dragging on, I will summarize my observations:

1. waiting for beans to cook is boring. . .you can fall asleep and burn down the house, if you're not paying attention
2. even though the recipe didn't call for salt, you really have to add a lot, otherwise, well, refried beans taste just like they look, umm, like mud
3. mashing up beans "with a large spoon" after they're cooked requires the strength of an ox (and is where the third hour goes)
4. I need someone Mexican who can tell me how much salt/water/chili powder really goes in them
5. refried beans, when being prepared by a novice, have a tendancy to "get everywhere," leaving fun blobs of concrete-like starch product on walls, towels, cookware, etc. but unlike meat, are so easy to clean up it's charming
6. as you might guess, I still have a lot left

* (I really only like one kind of corn chip, Art's blue corn ones, which are perfectly pure and have probably one-hundreth the salt that, oh, say, a Tostito or even a Silva's does, so I hope the Gutierrez family never, ever stops making them.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Did hell freeze?

Wow, our FDA - famous for approving medications that can kill you - finally followed suit of at least 40 other civilized nations who, like me, have been watching its ridiculous politicial stalling all these years, and approved a common chemical form of contraception.

So, U.S. women (who over 18, the rest of you should cover your ears and remember that it's not legal to do it until you can vote), you can now buy an over-the-counter "Plan B" super-pill, A.K.A. "the morning after pill" (or "f**k! the condom broke" pill or, as I've seen a few friends use it, the "I presume this person is disease-free and choose to accidentally forget what day my cycle is on until the next day when I start feeling remorse" pill).

In 89 percent of cases, it prevents implantation/impregnation when used within 72 hours of unprotected sex, and you used to have to go search for a danged Planned Parenthood to get it. Since most of us have "emergency sex" on weekends or abroad, this emergency contraception was heretofore sitting behind a big, insulting wall.

This ain't no RU486, though, so if zygote is created, well, "Plan B" won't work. . .they say, but read any usual package of birth control pills and you'll get confused like a Conservative that it could.

You'll find EC behind the counter with the Sudafed. . .wait to go on that spree - it won't be out there (except from your doctor/PP) until "the end of the year."

And even the president said it was o.k.


This is just to say (that I'm not William Carlos Williams),
but that I am also already "Autremollusk" over there on the sidebar,
if you didn't already know,
and that that shell is where I have placed the books meme,
should you care to read it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Thanks, God

. . . literally. Finally, humans have gotten, it seems, close to figuring out how to make stem cells without killing embryos (that are already destined never to grow up into bigger humans anyway, but that's another story).

And, well, it may be inefficient to just take one cell, and those particular researchers did get rid of the embryos from which they took the single-cells, and, of course, there are those who will argue:

. . . .that the new procedure solves nothing, because even the single cell removed in the technique could theoretically grow into a full-fledged human.

I think it's weird that federal funding bans research that harms human embryos, yet the same government allows people (approx. 1,000 a year in the United States) to use fertility methods to help identify lethal/severe birth defects in embryos, when clearly, like all in-vitro fertility treatments, pre-babies are created that are not brought to term.

This procedure, known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) takes one cell and checks each 10- or 15-cell embryo for the defect. Likewise, stem-cell researchers also can take just one cell to grow their stem cells, rather than the more efficient way, that kills the five-day embryo outright.

So, are there just freezers and freezers full of "didn't make it" in-vitro creatures sitting around somewhere "unharmed?"


The g-darn "network cable unplugged" just as it was publishing!

I can't take this much longer. . .

United States of False Advertising

We're all familiar with the commericials, should we be of the "I watch TV" type, in which Cingular Wireless touts itself as the network with the fewest dropped calls. . .don't know how that can be, while Verizon proclaims to have the largest all-over network. . .just that Sunday, while talking to my brother, who is a customer of the little orange man team, our call was disconnected twice.

The service was poor all around. He was calling from the middle of Kansas, with a Texas number. His "customer service" person was trying to make up some fancy explanation about why that would be a reason, but we say, a tower is a tower, and are left with only the explanation that maybe it's interference from Fort Riley.

My phone company has never not delivered on its weak little promise of my "getting more," as I got married shortly before buying such a thing as two phone numbers that can talk to each other without counting. Never have we overstepped our minute-limit; however my being under 30 (no - wait, that's not true, and I don't have an I-Pod either, so I can't say I'm technologically young and sound) - anyway, I've overtexted almost every month. . .at least since 2006 started.

No, I'm not going to pay five more dollars a month to make that stop. I'll do better next time, I promise. Of course, when I dial the "tell me how many I have left number," all I ever get is an unsatisfying "stick it" (this network function can not be completed).

Is it true like it is on "CSI" and "Prison Break" that the evil G-men and other enemies of my state of mind can't intercept texts?

By the way, my blog is not a reflection of my efforts. . .a whole bunch of wondrous thoughts and junk are still trapped in my head, due to the fact that every time I try to upload a photo here, my browser crashes (Safari; this now is coming from Explorer on the slow PC, and the Explorer solution on the Mac is also unsatisfactory, as the damn thing won't load at all and leaves out the insert photo icon when it did, once. I'm not even confident this is getting up.)

I hate computers; my sources tell me that "something's going on on the Internet." Something like "we're all gonna pay" and "hey, why can't I navigate to that government site anymore?"

Anyone else notice? Is it true that MySpace is going to charge, too?

Good thing I saved the pigeons and the Underwood, eh?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

August progress

Such is the fate of all things juicy: brown withering and bugs.

Now that the primary election is over, and once again we see that only 12% of people care (in Kansas City, Mo), we can look forward (?) to the onset of fall when I won't have to go through six hours of delerious fever and active nausea just because I was outside for three and a half hours in the sun without "adequate" breakfast. (I guess, what else is there; there is no zygote nor fetus or other noticable parasites besides bright red ankle-biting insects I think jumped on me from concrete when I was staring at that parking lot sunflower.)

Yes, I drank water, a quart in fact.

Somehow, though, I came out in worse shape that this fellow who tried his luck in the Cliff Drive Classic on Saturday in Northeast, against men who shave their legs and wear slick spandex clothing.
I guess commuting to work on two wheels makes a difference?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Find the frog

Remind me

How does raising the interest rates on my existing consumer debt help offset the fact of inflation? Productivity is low and labor costs are high and we are all more likely to lose our jobs. . .those in the trucking industry report that there isn't anything to ship around, despite the usually-heavy summer season. We'll know more when they start getting the Christmas 2006 items to the warehouses this month.

Since June 2004, "the Fed" has raised rates a quarter-point 17 times, taking it from that sweet one percent, 46-year low! to the "it's okay if you want to buy Certificates of Deposit, I guess" 5.25 percent.

So, sure, it's better for us all to dump more money towards banks, creditors, etc., while core inflation (which does not include the things that eat up most of the household budget anyway - energy and food) "rose by 2.4 percent in the 12 months ending in June, the fastest clip in 11 years, and above the Fed's comfort zone of 1 percent to 2 percent."

Forget "the Fed's" comfort zone, we're looking at an 8.25 percent prime!

If you see me "not eating" or "not doing" anything that requires fossil fuels (like blogging - why haven't they invented a laptop I can wind up like those radios yet?), you'll know why.

Dang, I shouldn't have skipped that "It's all about you" free lunch at the Barreto Family Funeral Home this afternoon.

I know there's a Day of the Dead cultural level of different comfort with such things and all, which I may not automatically share, but eating lunch inside a chilly marble mausoleum/chapel in which walls some people are "resting" was just a bit difficult the last time I tried.

If you think you have what it takes to see a memorial park for a park, swing by their Hispanic/Samoan Fiesta Luau on August 19. It won't change interest rates, but there will be free food and entertainment and tours of the famous peoples' graves in Mt. Washington Cemetery.

Awl nostalgia

Yes, I desire to "return home" to ballot-stabbing.

Wow, leave it to Diebold to turn a fun time with a punch card and stylus into a throw-back to some of our worst memories of sitting in sweaty desks hunched over a standarized test with a hard, non-mechanical pencil cramped in our fingers.

At least with voting there is no time limit. (I don't imagine it would take one 13 hours to figure the new system out, though my poll line was the least efficient I've seen it, my election judges dull enough to require two minds to determine what to do for Voter A whose name was not on the list but who had changed his address over four weeks ago, he said.

(Isn't that one of the most standard scenarios? Call the Election Board, darn it! It was funny that one of the judges said, "what's the number?" Good freaking gracious.)

I burned through my whole pencil-tip blackening in the huge ovals, and I didn't even cast a vote for the unopposed chumps or certain others I don't want to support either way. The "voting booth" was a three-sided screen propped on a bumpy, plastic table.

The ballot, three times as big as the punch card, was a graphic design disaster that made me doubt, as I left the church/polling place, that I had even cast a vote in the 10th District state senate race. I do have an opinion about Flaherty, I. Burnett, Klumb and Justus. . . .oh well, I'll never know.

I don't like to sit down and vote, either, so I didn't, and that was uncomfortable. Not as bad as the cold metal chair I avoided, but still, not fun.

Guess I should have used the touch-screen?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Other persistent things


As seen in the East Bottoms but known north, south, east, west, top, bottom, outside and 'round the inner world that is each human body's universe. . . though sometimes spelled differently.

Viva la diversité et liberté. . . and graffi-tay, too.