Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whatever you do, don't kick his seat!

It's a quiet morning here at Nutwood. Ken is out at a business meeting, and Sheeba is curled up on my lap. He must be very comfortable there, because we're watching lots of birds and a couple of squirrels out on the bird feeders. Well, the squirrels are trying to get to the bird feeders...whoever invented squirrel baffles deserves the Nobel prize! Anyhoo, the squirrels are coming right up to the door and looking in, and Sheeba is just staring at them. Apparently I have a very powerful lap!

I'll get up in a moment and get in my workout, but of course I had to check Facebook! Maybe it should be called Facecrack or Methbook instead. I think I'm doing pretty well with it, though, and not spending too much time there. (Famous last words, I know....) And guess what? Rahm Emanuel confirmed me as a friend! Get know how at the top, you type in what you're doing at the moment? This morning, I wrote that I was typing around the purring cat on my lap. Rahm wrote that he is reading the AD 70 Aramaic Bible found near the Golan Heights.

Well, aren't WE Mister Smarty Pants?! Jeez, I'm three months behind on my book club, and still working on the latest Stephen King book! As Detroit Mark would say, I keed, I keed. That's pretty impressive. It seems he's got a wicked sense of humor, too, because he put up an I Can Has Cheezburger picture in his gallery, with himself as the subject. (Warning: it contains the F-word, so if you think that seeing it will sear the eyeballs out of your head, don't look at it!) It made me laugh.

(And by the way, I'd be very surprised if the Facebook page is really Rahm Emanuel's. I doubt that he spends a lot of time on Facebook! Just so you all don't think I'm completely gullible!)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Getting carded

All I have left to do on the Christmas cards is put the stamps on, and that's going to have to wait till tomorrow. I need a break.

Since I haven't put the stamps on yet, I don't know the final count...but I think I'm going to have to do a little culling for next year. I've never kept track of who we get cards from, and that has never been an issue for me...but when you're doing 100+ cards, it becomes an issue pretty effin' quick! Printing labels has helped, but that's just a lot of cards to mess with. I think there may be some cousins culled next year. (Watch...I won't be able to do it, and I'll send out even more next year!)

One thing I didn't mention is what I do with the cards we receive. I cut them into small gift tags. Find the parts that don't have writing on them (usually the top part), cut them into rectangles and fold. I can't remember the last time I bought gift tags. However, I'd be willing to bet that most cards just end up in the landfill, so that's another reason to reconsider cards. I don't mean to sound like a Scrooge, I'm just experiencing card fatigue!

I reluctantly admit that I'm kind of digging Facebook. It's short and sweet, and I don't think it will take up as much time as blogs. Earlier today, I figured out how to import my blog entries (I'm interested to see if this one shows up there with no problem), I've received some plants and sent one, I got hit by a snowball, I've gotten two Christmas presents under my tree (I haven't opened them yet), I got a kitten, and let's see...oh yeah, an In-N-Out burger! (Yum!) I also signed up as a supporter of Rahm Emanuel, and sent him a friend request. He hasn't accepted yet. [sniff] LOL Rahm Emanuel on Facebook? Who knew?! I will probably give up Myspace because I rarely go there, but I want to make sure I can still get into my pal Jimi's music site.

Speaking of Rahm Emanuel, Sheria wrote to me that she'd heard that he may have been the one who got the Feds to move on Blagojevich (who was, of course, already under investigation). I did a little looking, and I couldn't find any confirmation of that. In fact, that rumor was denied (but not emphatically) by Team Obama. Darn, how cool would that have been? A chance for a tough (some might even say ruthless) Chicago pol to stop the corruption, and prove that Chicago politics is NOT synonymous with dirty politics. For the record, I don't believe for a moment that Team Obama was trying to make some kind of a deal with the governor. Even the wiretaps had Blagojevich saying that he wasn't getting anything from them. And frankly, I think they're too smart to make such a bonehead mistake. Did they talk to him? Sure, and that is to be expected. The guy was going to be replacing Obama's Senate seat, so they'd want someone in there amenable to the party. (If I recall, Emanuel's seat in Congress will be filled via a special election.)

In the meantime, the Illinois Attorney General has asked the state legislature to remove the governor from office. I hope they are able to do so, but there are questions there about innocent until proven guilty. I would guess that they'd try to say that he is mentally unfit to serve and remove him that way. Anyone who knows they're under federal investigation and continues to have such conversations has got to have a screw loose!

There was no comment from the governor's hair.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

May God have mercy upon my soul....

I've joined Facebook.

I have mixed feelings about it, because I really don't want to occupy my time with more computer crap, but Cousin Shane has been saying that I probably should, and he's found some people from his past through Facebook, so I took the plunge. Most of the people from my past that I wanted to find I've already found, so I hope I'm not opening up the floodgates.

I feel so ashamed. [sob] I tried to resist, I really did, but I just couldn't any longer. If only someone had told me, "You have to join Facebook!" I'm contrary enough that I probably would have said, "Oh no I don't!" (I have yet to see "Titanic" or read a single one of the Harry Potter books, because I had so many people tell me I "had" to.) But no...Shane just said I'd probably like it, and I read other bloggers saying that they'd joined...and before I knew it, I was wondering what I was missing out on.

I feel dirty. Like a used Kleenex or love glove.

I'm already liking it better than Myspace, though. It's much less cluttered and busy. I'm thinking that my Myspace account might be toast, French or otherwise.

In the name of all that is holy, what have I done?

What have I done?!

Self diagnosis

It's been Christmas card time this afternoon. I'm spent...and I'm not even done yet! I put a good dent in them, though. I'll be sending out about 100 of them, and I've got 75 or so ready for return labels and stamps (the easy part). I needed a break, so I'll finish them tomorrow. Besides, I think I was starting to get a little buzz from ingesting all that envelope glue. If you get a card from me, you will have a sample of my DNA. Don't say I never sent you anything!

Cousin Shane and I exchanged some emails last week about how we felt weird. Not exactly weird--we're always that--not really depressed, but...out of sorts? That's the best way I can think of to describe it. We wondered if part of it is winter setting in, and I figured part of mine was being out of town for a few days, sleeping in a different bed, etc. I don't know if Shane has thought about his doldrums further, but I was pondering mine, and I think I've finally diagnosed myself.

I believe I'm suffering from Post-Election Withdrawal Syndrome (PEWS). For a solid two months, I was consumed by all things political; during that heady time, I felt fully engaged with the process in our country. I read everything I could online, from local news stories to blogs. I had CNN on as soon as I got up and I watched it after Ken went to bed. I read the articles in Time thoroughly, checked the polls online daily, and exchanged emails, fast and furious, with friends concerning the election. I debated with my Dad, and like many other families in the country, we were divided on issues. Every untrue rumor about President-Elect Obama fueled my fire and raised my ire, and factchecking became a verb for me.

Now it's over. My guy won, and I'm happy about that, but I'm feeling a little bereft and adrift. Instead of spending time learning more about the issues, I have to resort to stories about Palin pardoning turkeys and then being interviewed while one is slaughtered behind her; an evil, manipulative, money-grubbing governor and his equally money-grubbing wife; and today, Joe the Plumber saying that he was appalled and angry at John McCain and almost jumped off the bus before it went over the cliff. Et tu, Joe? And just how schizo IS this guy? Get some therapy, dude. I think you might have dissociative disorder. Are you Sam or are you Joe? (Sing it to the tune of the Clash song!)

[sigh] Oh sure, there are bright spots like debating the bailouts, and of course, Rahm Emanuel. But I have to ask...why do the birds go on singing? Why do the stars glow above? And what IS it all about, Alfie?

Well, now that I know what is happening, I can forge ahead and go on with my life. PEWS is not life-threatening, but it can be temporarily debilitating. I'll be okay, I'll overcome it, and I can turn my energy into finding a place here for my in-laws to live, preparing for a kickass garden this summer, and tackling a project or two around here. I just need to make sure that in the next month and a half, my PEWS doesn't morph into Pre-Inaugural Stress Syndrome (PISS). That would be really bad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It IS a Better World!

I don't know if you all noticed this comment on my previous entry, but check it out:

Thanks for mentioning Better World Books! As a token of our appreciation, please enjoy the coupon code JHAL08 for a 10% discount. (Coupon good for a one-time use on or before December 31, 2008)

Jozi from Better World Books

How cool is that? Well, I wrote back to Jozi just to clarify the situation--was this just for me, or for my readers as well?

She wrote back:

So nice to hear from you! Thanks again for your rave review and for helping us drum up business! Please feel free to use this coupon code and share it with your readers (and your friends and family and their friends and family and… : )

I'm tellin' ya...this company is the greatest thing since sliced bread (and no, I don't work for them!).

So there you go: visit Better World Books and order before Dec. 31, 2008, and get a 10% discount by using coupon code JHAL08 or AKIN08. Share it with your friends and family and turn them on to Better World.

Happy reading!

An email from Better World

I've mentioned Better World Books before, and what a fabulous company I think they are. For those of you who are new to Nutwood, Better World is a locally owned company that salvages books that are slated to go to the landfill--often library books that are being taken out of circulation--and resells them. A portion of their proceeds goes to fund world literacy groups, and they used carbon free shipping. Shipping within the US is free, and outside of the US it's a flat fee of...I think it's $3.95. To me, everything about this company is good: they're a local company (I try to support locals), they save books from the trash pile, they help others to read, they're environmentally friendly, AND you can get a great price on used books! As Michael Scott would say, "It's a win-win-WIN situation!"

Anyhoo, I recently placed an order for some books, including another book club selection, although I'm woefully behind. This morning, I received an email:

Hello Beth,

(Your book(s) asked to write you a personal note - it seemed unusual, but who are we to say no?)

Holy canasta! It's me... it's me! I can't believe it is actually me! You could have picked any of over 2 million books but you picked me! I've got to get packed! How is the weather where you live? Will I need a dust jacket? I can't believe I'm leaving Mishawaka, Indiana already - the friendly people, the Hummer plant, the Linebacker Lounge - so many memories. I don't have much time to say goodbye to everyone, but it's time to see the world!

I can't wait to meet you! You sound like such a well read person. Although, I have to say, it sure has taken you a while! I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but how would you like to spend five months sandwiched between Hamlet (bipolar) and Fundamentals of Thermodynamics (pyromaniac)? At least Hamlet was an upgrade from that stupid book on brewing beer. How many times did the ol' brewmaster have one too many and topple off our shelf at 2am?

I know the trip to meet you will be long and fraught with peril, but after the close calls I've had, I'm ready for anything (besides, some of my best friends are suspense novels). Just five months ago, I thought I was a goner. My owner was moving and couldn't take me with her. I was sure I was landfill bait until I ended up in a Better World Books book drive bin. Thanks to your socially conscious book shopping, I've found a new home. Even better, your book buying dollars are helping kids read from Brazil to Botswana.

But hey, enough about me, I've been asked to brief you on a few things:
You chose Standard shipping.
You can expect your order to arrive in 4-14 business days.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email my friends in Customer Care at If you could please include your order number, that would be very helpful.

Eagerly awaiting our meeting,

The Old Wives' Tale (Modern Library Classics)
20th Century Ghosts
Heart-Shaped Box

So not only are they a great company all the way around, they have one hell of a sense of humor! I laughed out loud when I read that, and it made me want to order more books! (But I didn't...for now!) I've added their logo over on my sidebar and it's linked to their site. If you're looking for used books, it's a wonderful place to shop!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No more politics as usual!

I've got this thing and it's f***ing golden and I'm just not giving it up for f***ing nothing. I'm not gonna do it.

~~Rod Blagojevich

Even aside from the ferret atop his head, Illinois's governor is one ugly bastard.

The guy was arrested by the FBI today because he has apparently been planning on putting his job of appointing someone to replace President-Elect Obama's seat in the Senate to good use by trying to leverage a chunk of money, a lucrative job for both himself and his wife, and maybe even--get this--a job in President Obama's Cabinet.

Well, I guess it's good to have goals, isn't it?

Blagojevich has been charged with two counts: conspiracy to commit fraud (a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison), and solicitation to commit bribery (up to 10 years).

I know that the reputation of Chicago politics rivals that of Tammany Hall, but as our pal Jody wrote, this is just embarrassing, both to the fine state of Illinois (and here in South Bend, we have a close connection to Chicago) as well as to the President-Elect. I don't believe that P-E Obama had anything to do with Blagojevich's machinations, and I don't believe my buddy Rahm Emanuel (I bet he's going ballistic right about now) did, either, but this has to be as irritating to both of them and all of Obama's advisors as fire ants down your pants. (I'll tell you my story about ants in the pants sometime.)

As always, it amazes me that these assholes think that they are untouchable--apparently Blagojevich has known for a while that he was under investigation for fraud, and knew that the Feds might be listening in...which of course, they were. Gee, didn't you think they might be listening to your conversations, you numbnuts? The conversations where you talked about how this thing was "f***ing golden?!"

I sincerely hope they throw his ass in jail for the maximum time allowed--I'm pulling for 30 years! I am utterly and completely disgusted at seeing this kind of Machiavellian maneuvering, and I hope the Feds send a clear message that it is no longer acceptable to behave in this manner. To Blagojevich and others of your ilk: if you didn't get the memo, it is no longer politics as usual, and the American people are engaged and ready to hold you to standards to which you seem to have a hard time holding yourselves. Consider this notice given!

I'll be there

There's no Dust Bowl in these parts today. It's warm enough that it's been raining steadily all day, and with all the snow that was still on the ground...well, as Annie Wilkes would say, it's an oogie mess out there! Foggy, too. Ken has a late meeting, so I hope he doesn't have any problems on the roads tonight.

My pal Milwaukee Dan #2 wrote an entry about taking black and white photographs. (He's quite good at it, if you've never checked out his photos.) I commented that black and white photos have always intrigued me, because it seems that when you remove the colors, the contrasts and details are more apparent. Odd that this came up, because one of the lead stories on AOL today was about Dorothea Lange's famous "Migrant Mother" photograph.

The little girl on the left in the photo is still alive, still in California (where the picture was taken in 1936), almost 77 years old, and cleaning houses. In an interview, she stated that her family was ashamed of the photograph, because it showed how poor they were, but it made them all determined to work hard in order to never have to live like that again. The now-elderly woman told her tale of living in their car, unable to go to school or even to take a bath, and how their mother sometimes went hungry but made sure her kids never did.

One of my favorite books is The Grapes of Wrath, and I've read it a few times. (A piece of trivia: John Steinbeck is the one who coined the phrase "The Mother Road" in reference to Route 66, which the Joad family traverses from Oklahoma to California.) I wanted to learn more about the Dust Bowl migration and the plight of migrant farm workers, so a few years ago I found a book titled American Exodus which deals with the migration. It was a difficult read...not because of the reading level, but because it is such a tragic story.

Contrary to what many people believe, the Dust Bowl wasn't the sole cause of the migration of farmers to California. A severe drought happened to coincide with the Great Depression, and when farmers who made their living off the land could do nothing as they watched their crops die in the fields, many chose to leave their homes behind and make the trek to the "land of milk and honey," as the state was portrayed by many California farm owners. In 1933, unemployment in Oklahoma was 29%, and in Arkansas, a staggering 39%. They left in droves for California, and the resulting glut of workers meant that just like the crops in Oklahoma and other southwestern states, the California jobs dried up. With an overabundance of workers, landowners were able to offer incredibly low wages, because everyone wanted a job and was willing to take a little less then the next guy if it meant keeping their family from starvation.

Squatters camps sprang up at the edges of towns, with squalid living conditions, poor sanitation, and rampant health problems. The government camps established by the Farm Security Administration offered better conditions, but limited space, so the refugees formed their own camps, in which the living conditions were much worse. Before he published The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck released a pamphlet detailing the squalor in which thousands were living, especially when winter set in and there were no crops to be picked:

There is no work. First the gasoline gives out. And without gasoline a man cannot go to a job even if he could get one. Then the food goes. And then in the rains, with insufficient food, the children develop colds because the ground in the tents is wet. I talked to a man last week who lost two children in ten days with pneumonia. His face was hard and fierce and he didn't talk much. I talked to a girl with a baby and offered her a cigarette. She took two puffs and vomited in the street. She was ashamed. She shouldn't have tried to smoke, she said, for she hadn't eaten for two days. I heard a man whimpering that the baby was sucking but nothing came out of the breast. I heard a man explain very shyly that his little girl couldn't go to school because she was too weak to walk to school and besides the school lunches of the other children made her unhappy.

It's hard to imagine such conditions. But that wasn't all that the migrant workers had to endure. They were looked down upon by many of the local inhabitants, and "Okie" and "Arkie" were class epithets on the order of the N-word being a racial epithet. They were distrusted and hated and unwanted, and it was hoped that they'd just keep to themselves and not become a part of regular society.

But assimilate they did. With the arrival of WWII, many went to work in the California munitions factories, and for the first time in many years, were able to make a regular living, put food on the table every day, and a roof over their heads; that tragic chapter in our country's history was over, and was part of the reason for the growth of unions. (Although oddly enough, the independent migrant farmers had a deep distrust of and distaste for unions.)

I've always found this a fascinating topic, but especially so now that some in the media are wondering if we are on the verge of another Great Depression. From everything I've read, and from talking with my parents (who were children at that time), we are far from reaching that point. Things are not great right now, and I believe fixing this will involve growing the deficit before we can reduce the deficit, but we aren't in the dire straits experienced by the American refugees and others of the Dust Bowl era. I would hope that we, as a country, learned from our mistakes at that time: we cannot live beyond our means, we have a moral responsibility as human beings to not allow such suffering, and the government must step in to create jobs and make sure that people are able to make a decent living. Soon-to-be President Obama will be faced with a daunting task, but it is in our best interests as a country to realize that we cannot allow our country to spiral down to what we went through during that time. Job creation, including infrastructure work, will drive the economy. But it won't happen overnight.

I'll end this with a scene that never fails to choke me up...Tom Joad's soliloquy.

Source: Gregory, James N. American Exodus: The Dust Bowl Migration and Okie Culture in California. New York: Oxford University Press; 1989.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Vewy vewy quiet

A quiet day here at Nutwood, so I'll keep this short, just like me!

It's funny--funny-strange, not funny-ha ha--but a few days ago, I told Ken that I wanted to order another set of cotton sheets, because one set is starting to come apart at the seams in the pillow cases. Not real bad, but enough that I can tell they're on their last legs. Or cases. Or whatever. I changed the sheets today, and one of the pillow cases was split almost halfway...but this wasn't the set of sheets I wanted to replace! The sheets in this set are still fine, but I pitched that case. I ordered another set today, and got a great deal. 25% off, plus two extra pillow cases. Sweeeet! I got the blue set that is in the forefront of the picture. They're stripey! I almost got some yellow ones, but I tend to buy either white, pink, or blue sheets. Not only because that's what goes best with the colors in our bedroom, but because they're "cool" colors. I feel like sleeping on yellow sheets would make me feel hotter, and indeed, Ken's mom had yellow sheets on the bed we slept in, and every night I had to throw the comforter off of me! No lie!

I've gotten so I have to have cotton sheets. I love how crisp and cool they feel. I don't care if they're kind of wrinkly when you get them out of the dryer--you're just going to rumple 'em up anyway! Besides, I fold them well enough that they don't get all that wrinkly. Gee, I sound kind of picky when it comes to sheets, don't I? It's true!

Has anyone ever had satin sheets? When I was living on my own in Indy, I had a set. My bedroom was all black and white, very modern. (I got a little more girly later on.) I got some black satin sheets, and I remember the first time I made the bed and threw the pillow on the bed--it went sliding across the bed and shooting off the side! I cracked up. They looked pretty cool and felt good when you first got in, but they really weren't all that comfortable. I just get too hot at night! So does Ken. If Ken and I were to sleep on flannel sheets, we'd probably set the house on fire!

We watched "Iron Man" last night. We had heard it was good, but we were both very impressed! Robert Downey, Jr. looked great (come to think of it, he reminds me of our blog pal Marc [wink]), and it was just a lot of fun. They did a great job, and we'll look forward to seeing the second movie in the franchise.

I feel like I have more to say...I don't feel "written out" yet...but I'm not sure what it is that wants to come out. I'll just let it be and see what germinates.

Uh-oh...this just in from CNN. "Oprah vs. Palin." [insert dramatic music here] I don't know the whole story yet, but it would seem that Oprah wanted to have Palin on her show after the election but was...snubbed? Could that be right? Heavens to Murgatroid! You don't tug on Superman's cape; you don't spit into the wind; you don't pull the mask off the Lone Ranger; and you certainly don't f*** with the O-Woman! The repercussions will be numerous and far-reaching. This is a story of epic proportions. Ahh, I see. Apparently, the invitation was extended, but Palin chose to do interviews with Greta van Susteren, Matt Lauer, Larry King, and Wolf Blitzer. She turned down invitations from Oprah, Letterman, Leno, and Jon Stewart. Why am I 100% unsurprised? Oprah told the interviewer that she heard that Palin has a book coming out soon, "So maybe she'll want to be on the show then!" Oprah said it with a smile. Heh heh heh. It's like the spider and the fly....

Okay, off to germinate.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Attraction of Power/The Power of Attraction

I recently wrote about the Emanuel brothers, three very intelligent, successful, and powerful men. Ken tells me that I seem to be developing a bit of an obsession with Rahm. Does that mean I can't get this shirt, Honey? Ha ha! I wouldn't call it an obsession so much as a fascination with the appeal of power. Although I've never felt that I was all that susceptible to powerful men, many women are, and I wondered if men find powerful women as appealing. I thank you all for your comments, and I would like to expound upon a few. Let me say upfront that I don't mean to generalize, and I realize that there are exceptions to everything. I don't like it when people make general statements about women, and I won't do the same about men. My opinions come from my experiences, but nothing is ever 100%.

Myra said...
Could depend on the age & maturity of the man. I mean some men don't care what's on your on your mind, they only see the exterior...but who wants that type of man?? When we are smart, we're labeled as bitches. Unfortunately, its still very much a man's world, and maybe that is the problem!

I think Myra is right on a couple of counts. Age and maturity is definitely a factor, and the younger the guy, the more fixated they are upon the package rather than the contents. With age and experience comes an appreciation for depth and knowledge, and a desire to delve deeper into a person's mind. I have to disagree, though, with believing that if women are smart, we are labeled as bitches. I'm sure there have been those who think that I'm a bitch, but I've never really had to deal with that too much from guys. I'll get more into that in a moment.

Mark said...
First, do you have single sisters? I have found that my being able to add intimidates some folks ... but it does depend on where you fish, too.

No, Mark, my sisters are older than me and both married! Your phrase "depends on where you fish" is dead-on. If you (meaning people in general) are seeking an empty head, that's what you will get. If you want more, you'll learn to weed those types out.

Jamie said...
I think men want their women to be intelligent enough to have a conversation with at the very least.

Again, depends on what they're looking for. A "hm-hm" buddy or a relationship?

LJ said...
well, for some men, all they want is a breathing female who will put out and cook.

Very true. There are men like that. They aren't my type, though. Not by a long shot!

Cathy said...
You know what'll happen Beth? The men who DO blog won't answer that question anyway, for the same reason they think powerful women are castrating bioches. What they'll say out loud however is, "I love women who know what they want, can support themselves, speak their minds" etc, ad nauseum. Men don't want equals, they want a saint as a wife and mother, and a whore in bed. Same ole story.

I think that's a sort of cynical view, but I can understand why some women feel that way. Actions speak louder than words, and we've all been subjected to that sort of attitude.

Marty said...
Interesting question. I value intelligence and have little patience for stupidity (well, OK, it depends on the circumstances ... everyone does stupid things once in a while). This is going to sound sexist, but I'll say it anyway: I work with loads of highly intelligent, highly driven women here in Hollywood and -- while I respect a lot of them quite a bit -- some strike me as "bitchy." Sometimes it seems like they have to work that much harder, be that much more "difficult/demanding" to get ahead. Conversely, their male counterparts in similar jobs -- while equally driven or cut-throat -- don't seem as "tightly wound." So, I'm attracted by intelligence but, in my opinion, the smartest of the smart are the women who manage to rise to the top while remaining comfortable in their own skin.

Marty proved Cathy wrong by leaving an honest comment. As I replied to Marty, it's a very fine line for women...sometimes aggressiveness and power does come across as bitchy, so how do we juggle being competent, capable, and powerful, all the while remaining comfortable in our own skin (as Marty put it)?

Miss Ginger said...
Funny how many of your female readers responded to your question about men's opinion of powerful women, and how few male readers responded!. I feel I have sort of a unique perspective (lol!) My experience is that men like their women flirty, cute, silly, sexy, and a little risque. I have been to many, many, MANY, happy hours and cocktail parties where the men and women are discussing stimulating, intellectual, thought provoking topics with interest and respect from both sides. But as soon as "little miss bimbo" shows up rattling the cubes in her empty glass, then men all scrape their knuckles on the floor running to get her a new one, and by the time they get back the conversation has deteriorated to brain rot. And the men are all grinning like village idiots!

Also true. I bet I'm not the only one who has seen that happen, or has been the woman who got ignored when a leggy bobblehead gave a flirty wink. (I'm talkin' to YOU, Sarah Palin! Ha ha!) There are ways to get around that. More in a moment.

Anonymous said...
I don't think that power and intelligence necessarily have to go together. A truly intelligent person would not be involved in struggles involving power. However knowledge is power, but power does not incur knowledge.

I both agree and disagree with Anonymous's comment. Power definitely doesn't mean knowledge (I'm sure we can all think of a few current examples), but there are some fields in which intelligent people are involved in power struggles no matter what. Politics comes immediately to mind, but also health care. It happens all the time with doctors, and no matter what field you are in, there are often such struggles...some are more subtle, but you can find that undercurrent in almost any workplace.

I really enjoyed getting these perspectives on the issue, and it definitely is a thorny one. I thank you all for your input on this, and I think it's fun to have a frank discussion.

So here's my take on it. As I said, there will be exceptions, but I think that generally, men don't feel that powerful attraction to powerful women, and I don't see that changing. I think part of it is what a couple of readers touched upon--there are many times that powerful women are perceived as bitchy or manipulative, and sometime that's true. Yeah, I said it, but keep in mind that men can also be bitchy and manipulative! What slays me is that I know it doesn't have to be that way. Medical Technology and the laboratory field is one dominated by women, so I've had many female managers and supervisors. And I've had some damn good ones--women who were tough but fair and who knew their stuff so thoroughly that no one would really cross them or question their statements. That's a case where knowledge is definitely power.

I'd say there was usually enough respect there that the men didn't even think of the women that way. And that's the way it should be. I know that you can't take sexuality completely out of the workplace--we can't go against our wiring--but you should be able to stop objectifying people in such a way. Respect should be earned, no matter the manager's gender.

Outside of the workplace, it's just as thorny an issue. Miss Ginger is right--it's not uncommon to see men reduced to quivering blobs of empty-headed jelly by an equally empty-headed "little miss bimbo," as Miss G put it. Accept it and move on, ladies. Not every guy is like that, and it was my experience (in my younger, single days) that the ones you really want to hang with are the ones who want to hear some reasonably intelligent talk. It's been my luck in life that I have a deep-seated love of sports, and I was told more than once that I was the "perfect woman" because I loved sports so much! Ha! I'm far from perfect, believe me, but for many years, I was always more comfortable talking with guys than I was with women. I think I've kind of gotten beyond that, but I still remember get-togethers in my previous life when the wives were in the kitchen talking kids and food, and I was out with the guys debating various issues. At one particular party, I remember one of the women coming out and saying to me, "All us women are in the kitchen talking--maybe you'd be more comfortable in here with us!" Gee, do you think that was a subtle hint? I said, "Oh, I'm fine out here, but thanks anyway!"

That kind of attitude pisses me off as much as anything...that unspoken rule that thou shalt not talk with the husbands. Throw that at me, and I dig in. That was many years ago, and I've mellowed since then, but don't try to shove me into a niche of your own making, because I don't like being jammed into a tiny little spot that is way too small for me.

So why is it that many women are attracted to powerful men, but not vice versa? I think there is some genetic hard-wiring there that will be difficult, if not impossible, to overcome. In powerful, intelligent men, we see those who will provide for us and protect us. Women are expected to be the nurturers. For those of us to whom nurturing doesn't come naturally, it can be difficult to find our own pathways. My mantra for many years has been to be nothing but myself. I'm not an idiot and won't pretend to be one; I look okay and clean up well, and I'm not ashamed of that; I have opinions and I think that's a good thing, and I'm always happy to share! I could go on for a while about this, but this is already too long. Suffice it to say that I believe it is up to each of us to define our own lives and attitudes, and not merely accept the role that we have been handed. Who is assigning us to those roles, anyway?

We may not be able to escape our genetic blueprint, but what we do with it is up to us.

Havin' big fun at Nutwood!

Today Ken made an entry about Kiva, a website that allows people to make loans to various entrepreneurs around the globe. Microfinancing has become a hot topic, and great things have been done to help people provide for their families and to begin the climb out of poverty. It's interesting that this came up today, because I read a letter to the editor in our local paper today that questioned President-Elect Obama's statement about growing the economy from the bottom up. The person wrote something like how the heck does that work?! Well, this is how it works, Bub. If people are able to get a loan to implement an idea for a small business, they can grow that business and improve their lives. What an elegant concept! A Bangladesh economist recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for his microfinancing enterprise.

These are loans, not donations, and the loan will be repaid. (Of course, we'll just put that repayment back into another loan.) Today Ken set up a Nutwood Junction team at Kiva, and it is open to all comers. You can contribute as little as $25, which goes towards the loan amount that people have requested. You can view all requests, by focus area and location, and see pictures of the people requesting the loans and what they want to use it for. Today I helped a lady in Peru reach her goal to buy coffee plants and plantain plants. Ken and I have been having a blast, and were joking about how it's you browse through all the requests, you want to help so many of them! We realize that we can't change the world, but we can make a difference in a person's life. Ken isn't sending out email invitations to any of our Spotter friends, because we don't want to be pushy. But our group is open to everyone, and if you'd like to be added, send either of us an email: or

There's a link to the Kiva site over on my sidebar, and it shows random entrepreneurs. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out, and consider joining Team Nutwood! Breaking news from Ken! In addition to my lady in Peru, two others he made a loan to (before he started Team Nutwood) have reached their loan goals! This is supercool.