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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sh*t just got real


See that bug? In the photo? That's a hornet. Hornets are huge, they're angry as hell, and they hate everything. Guess what? We have them in the front yard of our house.

Normally, I have a cavalier if not humorous attitude toward our insect invaders, even the deer flies. But when you start talking about wasps and hornets, sh*t gets real. I am allergic to wasps, and I don't even want to know what would happen if I was stung/bitten/mauled by a hornet.

My husband and I were standing in the shade of the garage, admiring our two clean cars. We drove my Camry up to see my dad and stepmom Saturday, and the grill, headlights, and windshield were like a Civil War battlefield for bugs. Legs, wings, blood, and a myriad of insect internal organs were splattered everywhere. After my wonderful husband washed (and detailed!) the Camry, not a bug gut was to be found. As we stood, basking in the shininess, he told me about what he thought was a horsefly that tried to murder him earlier. Then he pointed out towards one of the small trees.

"There! That's one!"

I squinted into the sun, and backed way up.

"Uh, that's not a fly."

"What is it?"

"That's a hornet. Sh*t just got real."

We watched, mostly terrified but slightly fascinated, as two hornets began fighting in midair. You could almost hear them growling. Let me put this in perspective: Hold up your thumb. Now, imagine a really pissed off bug that has a stinger and armor on part of its body flying inches away from your face that's the size of your thumb. Now imagine two of them.

In China, they have giant killer hornets. According to this article on CNN.com, Asian hornets are attracted to sweat, the smell of alcohol oozing from pores, and people running. So, if one comes at you, just stand there and glare at it. They also have venom that destroys red blood cells. See? Sh*t just got real.

We have no idea if the flying, stinging, pissed off behemoths in our yard are Asian killer hornets, or just regular killer hornets. I'm not sure it matters. Nothing that big and that angry should be able to fly. My husband tried spraying one of them with bug killer. The hornet bared its teeth, flew into the tree, and zoomed back into the grass.

"What in the world do we use to kill them?" my brave husband asked.

I muttered to myself, removed my gardening clog, and tiptoed onto the driveway. I could be brave, too! Until the hornet turned in midair, locked its rage radar on me, and flew directly at my face. At that point, I screamed like a banshee and dove back into the garage. Courage be damned, I want to live.

One of my favorite cartoons is this one: the anatomy of a wasp. It's a very accurate representation of what used to be the angriest bug in our yard.



Now we have hornets. My guess is, you can use the cartoon above for hornets as well, but include "on steroids and bath salts" next to each descriptive. The arse dagger would become "arse Tomahawk Missile."

If anyone needs me, I'll be hiding under the bed.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Michele Bachmann spews hypocrisy on "Crossfire"



Michele Bachmann recently appeared on "Crossfire," to discuss immigration. Many other websites and blogs have covered her segment, and oddly, all those articles read the same: Michele Bachmann Compares Child Immigrants To Rapists and Murderers. Now while Rep. Bachmann did mention (briefly, and without any details whatsoever) a University of Minnesota college coed who was, according to Bachmann, raped, murdered and mutilated by a "foreign national," what she really went on about was a bus accident. A bus accident that killed four children, caused by a woman named Alianiss Morales. 

Rep. Bachmann should have done just a wee bit more research into Alianiss Morales. It seems Ms. Morales may have purchased her identity in Puerto Rico, something Michele Bachmann didn't mention. Imagine how much more convincing her argument would have been if she had stared down Van Jones, and silenced him with the story of Alianiss Morales. Of course, then Jones could have retorted with:

"Did she buy that identity to work at Swift?"

At which point, I am certain Rep. Bachmann would have responded:

"That's not in my district, Van."

Let's get to the hypocrisy. Van Jones introduced Rep. Bachmann by calling her "probably the most compassionate person in the U.S. Congress." He went on to mention her foster children. That's it. Van Jones, allegedly a liberal with his head screwed on straight, believes Michele Bachmann is probably the most compassionate person in Congress because she and her completely heterosexual husband, Marcus, took in foster children. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was sitting on the supposedly liberal side of the "Crossfire" table, also weighed in by defending Rep. Bachmann:

"I would like to come to her defense, because this is two beautiful ladies. One is a Republican, the other is a mother and a compassionate person."

What? When I think of Michele Bachmann, the word that does not leap immediately to mind is compassionate. Cruel, hypocritical, homophobic, conniving, bigoted, ignorant, racist-those are the words that leap immediately to mind. 

For those of you who read The Bachmann Diaries, you may have noticed I never, ever include one thing in my satirical take-downs of Michele Bachmann: the rash of teenage suicides in her district that began in 2009. Nine teenagers took their own lives, so many that the public health department labeled the Anoka school district a "suicide contagion area." Some of these students, like Justin Aaberg, were gay and bullied, others, like Samantha Johnson, were thought to be gay, and were bullied. Many other teens either attempted to take their own lives, or expressed suicidal thoughts. 

Do you know what the "most compassionate person in the U.S Congress" did in response to this? Nothing. Not a thing. Her silence was so deafening that during the 2012 presidential campaign, Nancy Pelosi told the media:
I would think that if she wanted to be president of the United States, she would understand that this is a larger issue than whether someone is gay or not, but as to whether someone is harassed and bullied to the point of seeing no way out. (source)
Michele Bachmann doesn't care about those four children killed in a 2008 bus accident either. When the accident occurred, Rep. Bachmann did not, as far as I can discover, make a statement to the press. She didn't donate blood, or champion the fund set up to help victims and their families. But when she realized she could use those dead children as political fodder to bolster her attacks on immigrants, suddenly, Michele Bachmann cared. 

Rep. Bachmann is anti anti-bullying legislation. She gave a speech in 2006 on the floor of the Minnesota House against anti-bullying legislation, saying in part:
What will be our definition of bullying? Will it get to the point where we are completely stifling free speech and expression? Will it mean that what form of behavior will there be — will we be expecting boys to be girls? (source)
What you have to understand about Michele Bachmann is she doesn't care about anything except Michele Bachmann. Much like most politicians, especially those "compassionate conservatives." This is the woman who accused Huma Abedin of being a terrorist by falsely linking her to the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the woman with a lesbian stepsister, who rails against the LGBT community. This is the woman who says, about the LGBT community:
Our children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it, and that’ll be very soon in our public schools all across the state, beginning in kindergarten.
It’s part of Satan I think to say that this is 'gay.' It’s anything but gay.
This is a very serious matter, because it is our children who are the prize for this community, they are specifically targeting our children. (source)
Van Jones and Rep. Charlie Rangel didn't do their homework. To call Michele Bachmann compassionate is ridiculous. To me, that was the most horrible part of the "Crossfire" segment. While Van Jones did begin calling her out eventually, both he and Rep. Rangel made sure to point out Bachmann's "compassion." 

I would suggest Van Jones and Rep. Rangel read a few articles on Michele Bachmann, perhaps starting with this one. She is anything but compassionate. 





Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A walk with my son

Hiking in Lutsen, MN


I don't get enough exercise. I can't jog, I can't afford to join a gym, and frankly, exercise bores me. But I love to walk. Coincidentally, our son does not get enough exercise either, simply because there is nothing to do here for teenagers. When he was younger, he and his friends were outside every day during the summer. They rode their bikes, hiked in the woods, played a strange form of baseball, ran, jumped, screamed, and generally had a blast.

So Monday afternoon, I asked my son to go for a walk with me. He said yes, and off we went. We chatted about the girl whose mom told him he can't spend time with her daughter because he's an Atheist, how he only has two more years of high school left, and Webb Institute. He wants to be an architect, and he loves ships, so Webb seems like a great place to investigate.

We had a great conversation about language and accents. We talked about junior level chemistry, and how he hopes it's not like freshman chemistry, because he prefers blowing things up to lectures. Well, who doesn't? He told me he wants to read Al Franken's book, "Lies, And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them." Funny thing about that-the only part of the entire book that gives me pause is the quote from Bill O'Reilly's fictional novel. Excuse me, I mean Bill O'Reilly's one and only LABELED fictional novel. Ahem.

My sixteen year old son went on a walk with me. As we rounded the bend in front of the house, I thanked him. He glanced at me and said "For what?" "For going on a walk with me," I replied. "Most teenage boys wouldn't want to go for a walk with their moms." "It's fun to talk to you," he said, while running across the street, laughing.

Someday, when I'm older and grayer, I am going to look back on today, and add it to my wonderful memories. I have a lot with this child. Teaching him to roller skate, feeding giraffes at Binder Park Zoo, reading Tomie Depaola together (and meeting Tomie Depaola together!), seeing he and his stepfather become the best of friends, and watching him grow from infant to toddler, and from energetic kid to really amazing young man.

I never take the relationship I have with my son for granted, especially when I see other teenagers with their parents. Angry, disrespectful, disdainful, sometimes cruel. Now he's not perfect, but he's by far the nicest young man I know.

And he went for a walk with his mother.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Bachmann Diaries: We're Suing Obama!


Dear Diary,

John Boehner has finally found his backbone, and is moving forward with the Republican lawsuit against Barack Hussein Obama. Holy God, it's about time. Since that colored uppity socialist Chicago thug was elected, he has acted more like a king and less like a president every single day. Do you know what he's done? He's ignoring Congress!

Now, given that on the evening of Obama's first inauguration, members of both Houses met in secret to figure out to ruin his presidency, you would think we would have made more headway than we have. HOMOS can join the military, HOMOS can get married, women are killing babies for fun, and poor people have food. It's just wrong. America was built by rich, white men, and should be run by rich, white men. And rich, white women. Like me.

So, Boehner told the media that Obama has not executed laws the way a president is supposed to. Look at how President Reagan did it. When Congress told him he couldn't fund the patriotic freedom fighters in Norway Nicaragua, he and Oliver North, one of my heroes, went around Congress and did it anyway. That's a really bad example. Wait. NO, it works, because when Obama does it, it's to take away our rights to be protected from HOMO government contractors and contraception. When President Reagan did it, it was to save the world from the commies.

In 2010, when the patriots in the Tea Party swept the liberals out the door, we vowed never to let Obama get anything done. How DARE he do things anyway? Doesn't he understand that Congress makes the rules? And if we want to try and overturn Obamacare 567 times, then we will. If we want to block immigration reform, we will, because our constituents hate Mexicans, unless they're mowing a lawn or cleaning an office building.

The White House press secretary, Josh Earnest oh there's an interesting last name for a liar. Anywho, he said most Americans wouldn't support this lawsuit, because it will be paid for with taxpayer money. Well, ya know what? I'll betcha that most Americans would rather pay for a lawsuit to stop Obama from destroying this country than pay for birth control for that Sandy Fluke girl.

I went on Neil Cavuto's show to talk about this lawsuit, and he yelled at me. He asked me where my rage was when Democrats were going after President Bush for his executive orders. I don't remember that happening, because just like President Reagan, President Bush used his power to save the world from Islam. Obama invites terrorists like that awful Common into the White House. Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush never pal-ed around with terrorists. I bet Obama has signed an executive order to help Bill Ayers.

I know we'll win. We just have to present it correctly to the country, and frankly, I'm shocked that Neil Cavuto doesn't support this. It's a great plan! Yes, it might take longer than Obama has left in office, but it's a great way to win votes for ME in 2016. See, that's my focus right now, Diary. Marcus says I should be more concerned about the possibility of going to prison, but I know Jesus won't let that happen. I am destined to be Ruler of Godlandia, and with Holy God's help, I will win in 2016. And what better way to do that than by riding in on a wave of anti-liberal sentiment, white supremacy, and camps for HOMOS and the poor?

Well, I have to wax Marcus's back. We're going to the lake tomorrow, and he wants to be smooth so his tan is even. I will keep you posted on the lawsuit, and my campaign.

Hugs and kisses-Queen Michele, future ruler of Godlandia.

*To see Neil Cavuto yell at Shelly, click here for the Politico piece.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My son the Atheist meets his first Christian bigot


My son is an Atheist. My husband and I were raised Catholic, and while I am a liberal Christian, my husband is sort of "whatever." Our teenager is a full-blown, 100% non-believer, which is fine with us. He respects others who believe in a deity, but he doesn't respect people who hate in the name of their god, or refuse to accept proven science like evolution. And he is not ashamed of being an Atheist.

This morning, my son showed me a series of texts he received from a friend we'll call Kylie. Kylie and her parents are conservative Catholics, and when my son told Kylie he is an Atheist, she was less than pleased. She told her parents, who told her she and my son couldn't have any sort of close friendship or relationship. Kylie agreed, and was flabbergasted that anyone could go through life not believing in God.

At this point, I was just listening to him tell me the story. Then he showed me the texts Kylie's mother sent him. Yes, her mother got involved with this conversation, telling my child that you have to believe in God to go to Heaven, and "this"-any kind of serious relationship between Kylie and my son-would be really tough. In other words, believe what we believe, or you can't see, date, or be friends with our daughter. I saw red. As I tapped my fingers on my desk, I wondered what kind of parent would raise a child to discriminate against people who either don't believe in God, or believe in a different God than they do.

I told my son to ask Kylie to have her mom give me a call. Then I called my husband at work, to see if I was overreacting. My husband is firmly planted in logic, and I often ask his advice if I think I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. In this case, he agreed with me completely. What Kylie's mother had done was absolutely offensive, totally inappropriate, rude, tacky, and I had every right to tell her that. And when she called about half an hour ago, I did.

I asked her if she had texted my son. She said she had. I then said:

"You texted him about God? And Heaven?"

There was a rather lengthy silence, then she replied she had. To my credit, I never raised my voice, I never called her a name (thank you, brain filters); I was very calm, but very firm. I made sure she understood she had crossed a line, and I told her not to contact my son again. She never said a word. She knew. She had to know that a mother contacting a teenage boy to tell him being an Atheist is wrong was a horrible thing to do. She had to know this phone call was not going to be pleasant.

There are a myriad of things I wish I had said (isn't that always how it works?). I wish I had told her that people like her are the reason my son is an Atheist, the reason we don't go to church, the reason I struggle with my faith. I wish I had told her brainwashing your kid into believing what you believe is wrong. I wish I had told her that my Atheist son is a better person than she will ever be, because when he has kids, he will never tell them they can't befriend or date someone who has a different set of religious beliefs. I wish I had told her that people like her remind me of the Taliban.

But I didn't say any of those things. In a civil fashion, I told her never to contact my son again, and that her behavior was highly inappropriate. The nerve of that woman astonishes me. I would never, in a million years, presume to lecture someone else's child about religion. I believe what I believe, my son believes what he believes, and we love and respect each other. And if my son falls in love with a Muslim or a Jew or a Wiccan or a Christian or a Buddhist, as long as that person is kind and loving, not just to him, but to others as well, then we will love her, too.

Kylie will never fall in love with anyone other than the type of man her parents approve for her, because that's how she's being raised. A belief in God is all it takes to win the hearts of Mom and Dad. I think we all know at least one person who claims to believe in God, but walks a path never trod by Jesus. A path of bigotry and bullying, of hate and small-mindedness.

My son just met one of those people. To his credit, he's fine. He was pretty "livid," as he put it, but we talked it out, and he's okay now. I'm not. This is my only child. He is bright and funny, empathetic and kind, and he did not deserve this woman's derision. Oh she did what fundies always do: prefaced her attack with "I don't hate you," and told him how much she enjoys hearing him play in the marching band. Then she told him he's not going to Heaven, or hanging out with her daughter, because he doesn't believe in God.

Well, Kylie's mom, I'd rather raise an Atheist than a religious bigot any damn day of the week. You can take your sanctimony, and your holier-than-thou attitude to church on Sunday, and tell White Conservative Jesus what a good Christian you are. And while you're doing that, I'll be spending the morning experiencing the joy and love that really represents Jesus. Oh, and bacon.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mint means Mojitos


Five or six years ago, my husband and I went on vacation to Clearwater, Florida. In July. We are never doing that again. I lived in Orlando for ten years, and I should have remembered what late summer is like in Florida. But somewhere in my head, I thought "It's on the coast; it won't be so bad." Holy hell, was I wrong.

The ocean was the temperature of bathwater until you swam waaaaay out past the buoy, and then of course, you couldn't touch the bottom. My husband sped out into the cooler water while I, visions of "Jaws" dancing in my head, wondered if it hurt to have a snaggle-toothed behemoth rip off your leg.

We both broke out in hives or some sort of rash from the sun and heat. Walking from the hotel to dinner was an adventure, as we ran across the street because the heat from the asphalt hurt. But the one thing we discovered that made up for the suffering? Mojitos.

Over the weekend, my husband discovered mint growing by the side of our house. And he practically skipped into the house, grinning from ear to ear, holding a bunch of mint in his hands. "Look," he said, "mint!" I immediately started working it into pies and thinking about dessert sauces. He shook his head. "Mint means mojitos."

You have to understand: we don't drink. We both used to, but now that we're a wee bit older, we just don't care for the taste of most alcoholic beverages. The exceptions are a summer ale that's made right here in Minnesota, and mojitos. We each had one every night we were in Florida, and more recently, tried the strawberry mojitos at Applebee's. I don't recommend them.

So yesterday, I purchased ingredients for this most beloved beverage. Which meant wandering the liquor store, searching for white rum. I didn't even know that was a thing, white rum. My son and I walked up and down the aisles, stepping around grizzled old men who were using a shopping cart. That made me kind of sad. We found white rum, I bought limes at the grocery store, we already have sugar and obviously the mint, but I forgot the club soda. It's okay, though-we're not making them until Saturday.

Here's the recipe I'm going to be using. I'm thinking of making a simple syrup instead of using sugar, only because the syrup will dissolve more evenly. You can infuse the syrup with mint, or any herb that goes with the drink you're making, for an even more intense flavor. I found this recipe at All Recipes.com.

Makes one mojito.

10 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 Tbsp white sugar, or to taste
1 cup ice cubes
1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
1/2 cup club soda

Place mint leaves and one lime wedge in a sturdy glass. Use a muddler (no, you can use a long-handled spoon) to crush the mint and release the mint oils and lime juice. Add two more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release more lime juice. Do not strain. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice cubes. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with the club soda. Stir, taste, adding more sugar if desired. Garnish with remaining lime wedge (and more mint, if you like).

If you have a favorite summer cocktail, let me know in the comments. Throw in a recipe if you like. And I'll let you know how the mojitos turn out.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Tylenol versus guns



As I was trying to open a new bottle of ibuprofen with a paring knife, my son wandered into the room. He stopped to watch me struggle, and asked why everything has some sort of safety seal. I put down the bottle, wiped off the paring knife, and started telling him about the Tylenol killer.

In 1982, seven people in Illinois died after ingesting cyanide-laced Tylenol. The entire country was paralyzed by fear, and hospitals were overrun with people who believed they had been poisoned. Prior to the Tylenol killings, safety seals were not required on any over-the-counter medication. Now, you can't find anything without one.

Seven people perished at the hands of an unknown killer. There is one suspect-James Lewis. Lewis spent thirteen years in prison for sending an extortion letter to the makers of Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson, but maintains his innocence regarding the cyanide poisonings.

The FDA responded to the Tylenol poisonings by implementing stringent, new guidelines for safety regarding over-the-counter medication. "Do not use if seal is broken" messages now appear on almost everything we buy, from pain reliever to juice to lipstick. Our government took the Tylenol killings, and the subsequent "copycat" incidents seriously, and changed hundreds of products' packaging and labeling for our safety.

According to a paper published by the CDC and verified by Politifact, between 1981 (the year before the Tylenol murders) and 1998, 620,525 people in the United States died because of a gun. This number includes suicides and accidental shootings. In 2011 alone, 32,163 people met their demise at the hands of a gun. We have more mass shootings, more accidental shootings, the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, and yet, our government does nothing.

Why is that? Why did the poisoning of seven people in Illinois inspire the FDA to take immediate steps to safeguard the public, while gun violence seems to inspire silence and apathy? Is it because everyone takes OTC medicine at one point in their lives, but not everyone will come in contact with a firearm? That's what Richard Martinez thought. Mr. Martinez's son, Christopher, was killed during the rampage in Santa Barbara in May of this year. He told the media during a raw and gut-wrenching statement that you never think this will happen to your kids, until it does. And here in the United States, it's happening far too often.

Those seven victims in Illinois are mourned every day by their families and friends. It's all the more frightening knowing the person or persons who laced those bottles of Tylenol with cyanide has never been caught. From that awful mass murder came stringent safety guidelines, better and safer packaging, and a sense of security, knowing that when tragedy strikes, our government will take the necessary steps to ensure we are safe.

Unless we're talking about gun violence. When the subject of how to stem the tide of mass shootings and deaths by gun, suddenly no one has any real solutions. It's too hard, it's too complicated, it simply can't be fixed. The NRA is too powerful (as opposed to the pharmaceutical lobby). The gun manufacturers can't afford any changes (as opposed to Johnson & Johnson, who pulled $100 million worth of product off the shelves in 1982). Our Constitution says we can own all the guns we want, and your dead kids don't trump that.
We desperately need our government to understand that gun violence is a public health issue, and it is an urgent one. I just have no idea how to do that, who to talk to, what politician, if any, is taking this seriously. Oh, they speak about it, and wring their hands, but are any of them brave enough to stand up to the NRA and the gun extremists in this country? Not so far.

This is why November is so important. We need to get right wing extremists out of Congress. Send the Tea Party and the NRA-bought politicians home this fall, and help elect representatives who will actually represent us, not corporations. We need sane gun laws, and the only way to achieve that is to have folks in DC who have the courage to fight for us, our safety, and the safety of our families.

Take a few minutes and really study this graph put together by Mother Jones. The Tylenol murders resulted in sweeping change, aimed at keeping us safe. Why does gun violence result in nothing?