Friday, July 21, 2006

Rooting for the bad boss

The other night a few of my coworkers and I went out to have a few drinks and see the movie "The Devil Wears Prada," which is an adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's tell-all book about working at Vogue under Anna Wintour. As my 1.3 regular readers are no doubt aware, I have worked for numerous certifiably insane, Michael Scott-like women bosses. So I was prepared to loathe Meryl Streep's Wintour-with-a-shot-of-Martha-Stewart character, Miranda Priestly.

But my reaction to her was a bit of a shock. I actually found myself rooting for her.

Maybe it's just that Meryl Streep is such a completely amazing actress, but I thought she brought quite a bit of humanity to what could have been a one-note role. Naturally I'd be mortified if the first thing my boss did when she came in the door was throw her purse and coat on my desk. Or if she referred to me as a "fat girl." (Particularly if I was a size six!) But what I think a lot of women will find compelling about Streep's Miranda is that, lacking in interpersonal skills though she may be, no one in her company questions that she's the one in charge. And she cuts through the office bullshit and gets stuff done. Personally I admire anyone who can pull that off--particularly a woman in an ultra-high-stress job.

I guess the difference between the Miranda character and the nightmare women bosses of my old jobs is that Miranda actually knows something about her job and her industry. She knows everything about them, and she's not afraid to use that knowledge to further her agenda. Whereas the marketing director at The Management Consulting Firm that Must Not Be Named was clueless about pretty much everything, up to and including the fact that everybody in the place laughed at her behind her back. Her total inability to grasp the rules of professional etiquette never ceased to amaze. For months after I left that job, I would have a low-level PTSD reaction every time I thought about it, complete with thumping heart and sweaty palms.

But even so, when Anne Hathaway's put-upon assistant character in "Devil" abruptly chucks the job she's been killing herself to succeed at, it seemed to me like a cop-out. She doesn't want to devote her whole life to her job (who does?) so, just when she's on the cusp of real success (read: WAY more money, more trips to Paris, additional piles of designer clothing, etc.) she quits outright. To spend more time with her boyfriend, who vaguely resembles a Hobbit, and with whom she's already broken up. Does this decision ring true to anybody? If you were 22 years old with no commitments, wouldn't you stick around to bear the fruits of that success for a little while longer, before leaving to take the principled-but-lousy-paying journalism job?

Then again maybe I had this reaction because I know all too well how thankless the journalism martyr route can be. You think you're going to save the world, but what you are actually going to do is write about the local planning board for the princely sum of $24,000 a year, eat nothing but frozen Weight Watchers entrees (which you must buy on sale in bulk) and go into the office on Christmas Eve to listen to the police scanner in case there's a fire or a horrible car accident somewhere. That used to be me.

So if I was Hathaway's Andy, I would have totally taken the Valentino and the Jimmy Choos and stuck it out with Miranda, at least for a little while longer.

Growing up

Not only has the Peanut been binky-free for about five days now without major incident, but she also peed in the potty twice yesterday.

My baby's growing up!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Coming into the light

From Daily Kos, the story of a die-hard Republican reformed. With just a couple million more conversions like this--and, God willing, an actual free and fair Congressional election later this year--maybe, just maybe, we can save the world.

Visualize impeachment...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"This guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is."

This column gets it exactly right. You say you think W. is actually a smart guy, in spite of all appearances? You're lying.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Princess envy

From the moment the Peanut emerged into the world and surprised me by not being a boy, as I'd imagined for nine months, I vowed that she would be raised in a steadfastly feminist household. There was to be no foolishness with this Disney Princess crap. No Barbie unrealistic-body-image nonsense. By God, this kid would learn that there ain't going to be no knight riding in on a white horse. I was going to raise a strong woman who would love herself for who she is. Who wouldn't waste a minute putting her happiness in the hands of men, instead of deciding that, boyfriend or no boyfriend, she's going to be happy. On her own terms.

I still fervently hope to raise that strong woman. But in the meantime, to my horror, I fear there are going to be princesses afoot in my house.

This is because of what happened at our neighbor's daughter's 2nd birthday party this weekend. At the very end of the gift opening, the birthday girl received a dress-up set with a poofy, lacy, pink skirt and a tiara. She smiled with glee as she modeled her new outfit for her guests. I sat on the floor next to the Peanut and watched her reaction.

Her mouth hanging open slightly, her eyes widening in awe, the Peanut pointed toward the birthday girl. "TI-AAAA-RA," the Peanut said in a reverent tone, mimicking the word she heard the adults saying all around the room. Then she looked at me and pointed at her own head. "TI-AAAA-RA!"

I think I know what somebody wants for her own 2nd birthday later this year...

I suppose I will give in and get her the tiara and the poofy princess skirt, because I can see it's going to make her soooo happy. But that knight on the white horse -- he's history. He is never setting foot in my house.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Yesterday, during my work-at-home day, the Peanut's babysitter left once the Peanut went down for a nap so she could get some errands done. When my girl woke up, she was calling the babysitter's name.

"It's just mommy for the moment," I said, lifting her onto the changing table for a quick change. "Is it OK if it's just me for now?"

She stood up so I could pull her pants back up. "Mommy," the Peanut said, giving me a hug and resting her head on my shoulder. (She is so tall now that when she stands on the changing table, her head is a little bit higher than mine.) Then she removed her arms from around my neck, stood back and looked deep into my eyes. (Her eyes are like the darkest chocolate, melting out of the sweetest brownie sundae in the world.) "Mommy."


This is totally outrageous:

Big Dig Possible Defect Count Quadrupled
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By GLEN JOHNSON Associated Press Writer

July 13,2006 BOSTON -- Inspectors on Thursday quadrupled to 240 the number of possible ceiling bolt problems in a Big Dig tunnel where a woman was crushed by falling concrete, a still-closed section at the center of Gov. Mitt Romney's push to oversee the safety of the troubled project.

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority said inspectors found additional bolt assemblies that were separating from 3-ton concrete roof panels, raising the number of defects over previous inspections that found 60 defects. The earlier defects were enough for officials to order a sweeping review of every roadway, tunnel and bridge in Boston's entire highway system.

Michael Lewis, director of the Big Dig, said inspectors found 68 suspect bolt assemblies over the westbound lanes of a connector tunnel providing the main route to Logan Airport. Forty-five more were discovered in a lane carrying carpool traffic, as well as 69 in ramps connecting two interstate highways.

Because apparently every contractor involved in this project was just out to steal as much money as possible and avoid doing their jobs the right way, this woman's kids are motherless now, and her husband is a widower. Somebody needs to go to jail for this. Probably a lot of people should be in jail.

And here in Boston, how will we ever feel safe again driving through these tunnels? Completely freaking unbelievable.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

50 questions for your Republican friends

I found this in a comment on AmericaBlog and it is hilarious. So props to poster "Vegas Baby," whoever you are:

1. What are the top seven best things that the Bush administration has done?

2. Is the Iraq War is going well?

3. After three years thus far, when do you think Iraq might be able to "stand up" so that America can "stand down"?

4. For his part in the event, how would you rate the job the President did protecting New Orleans from devastation?

5. How do you think the rebuilding of New Orleans is going?

6. When Dick Cheney and the oil company and energy executives met in private to plan America's energy policy, how much of their goal was to benefit consumers?

7. Do you believe in the President's call for an Era of Personal Responsibility?

8. Since Republicans control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, how personally responsible are they for conditions in America today?

9. Why do you think they haven't been able to find anyone who can verify that George Bush ever showed up for National Guard duty in Alabama?

10. Would you want Donald Rumsfeld to plan your daughter's wedding?

11. Are you aware that no government in the history of civilization, other than the Bush administration, has lowered taxes during a war?

12. Are you married?

13. Do you personally feel threatened by gay marriage?

14. Since getting elected, do you think the President has been more a uniter or a divider?

15. How do you explain the President's approval rating going from a high of 90% to the current mid-30%?

16. Do you like the government collecting personal data on you without a warrant?

17. How much money do you have in your bank account, stocks and investments?

18. What's your partner's favorite sex position?

19. If you have nothing to hide, why aren't you answering?

20. Should we build a wall along the Mexican border?

21. Why isn't anyone building a wall along the Canadian border?

22. Does that terrorist gang arrested in Canada count as a threat?

23. If you shot someone in the face while drinking, how fast would the police show up to arrest you?

24. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding three years ago, would the guests still be there?

25. Even if no laws are broken, do you think it's okay to reveal the name of a covert agent?

26. During your lifetime, approximately how often have you changed your mind?

27. Why shouldn't people dismiss you as a flip-flopper?

28. Where do you think the Weapons of Mass Destruction might be?

29. Where do you think Osama bin Laden might be?

30. Is it fiscally responsible to cut taxes, increase spending and create a $9 trillion federal debt?

31. Are you glad liberals passed such programs as Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, women's suffrage, federal deposit insurance, unemployment compensation, rural electrification, child labor laws, minimum wages and the 40-hour work week?

32. What are the top ten best things that conservatives have given to America?

33. If you were on life support, would you want a doctor you'd never met making a diagnosis about you via remote television?

34. Do you think man-made greenhouse gases have anything at all to do with depleting the ozone layer?

35. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding three years ago, and guests were still there, how many factions would they now be split into?

36. How good is it that the terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was killed?

37. Are you aware that in 2002 the Pentagon knew where al-Zarqawi was and presented three separate plans to kill him, but the administration refused to act each time?

38. Is George W. Bush the kind of guy you'd want to sit down and have a beer with?

39. When he started talking about being a born again Christian, would you want to stay or leave?

40. Is Ray Romano the kind of guy you'd want to sit down and have a beer with?

41. Would you want him to be President?

42. Does the Administration have an environmental policy that benefits the environment?

43. Since George Bush campaigned for President strongly against nation building, in what ways are our actions in Iraq not nation building?

44. What's the maximum amount of time you'd want to spend alone with Dick Cheney?

45. After dismissing Saddam Hussein's old Iraqi army, was it a good idea to let them keep their rifles?

46. Would a policy that allows torture be something that makes you proud as an American?

47. Has the Mission been Accomplished?

48. Do you feel comforted that Dick Cheney is a heartbeat away from being President?

49. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding, and guests started fighting and were killed, would you expect to be allowed to view the caskets when they were returned home?

50. How glad do you think George Bush is that he's no longer active in the National Guard?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Holy crap

Nice to know we're so safe driving around the Big Dig. If you needed one more reason not to drive to Logan Airport, here it is.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Binky withdrawal

The Peanut had the shakes this morning--the withdrawal was bad. Mr. Fraulein had taken the binky out of her mouth before she woke up. Given that she's 21 months old now, we only let her have the pacifier while she sleeps, and even that we feel like we should start cutting back on once she was fully awake and realized that her beloved binky was gone, she was one unhappy Peanut.

She started whimpering, looking around for it. Within seconds this escalated into a full-blown tantrum, complete with tears streaming down her face, heaving sobs, and screaming. Oh, the screaming.


This continued all through diaper changing and dressing. Why were we such cruel parents, ripping her heart out like this? I tried to explain that she is such a big girl now that soon she won't need the binky at all anymore. I tried hugs and kisses. We attempted to distract her with sippy cups and cereal, but the sobbing continued.

Then we switched gears into ignoring the tantrum, as all the books advise. She decided to lie down on the floor in the hallway in front of her room. There she stayed while we finished getting dressed and packing her lunch. Finally, realizing she wasn't getting attention anymore, she picked herself up, stopped crying, and came into the kitchen to have breakfast. The binky was not mentioned again, even during the car ride to day care.

With any luck we won't see too many more binky-withdrawal-related tantrums like that one. Mama's heart can't take it!