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07 January 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Any gym queen can tell you when the New Year arrives.  The onslaught is heralded by a scraping of pens across multi-layer annual contracts followed quickly by a stampede of the resolute to local health clubs.  The gyms are swamped for fifteen days with sweaty folks in Snug-L-Fit Hanes gymwear, new iPods and overworked trainers.  Then, like a run of grunion, they disappear back to the confines of overstuffed chairs and houses, leaving behind gyms silent as graveyards or KMart without Martha Stewart.

Even in Maine, where prospective licensed drivers must demonstrate the ability to operate a vehicle with one hand on the wheel and the other holding a cigarette, health club memberships spike in January. 

I am no advocate of New Year's resolutions.  I may, from year to year, think that perhaps I won't wear a particular shade of eye shadow or I might finally reduce the number of unopened boxes of shoes in my closet.  But I know, come February, I'll need a new pair of party shoes.  As a well-intended friend once said, "If you want to know what you are committed to having in your life:  look in the mirror."  In my situation, I should be looking in the shoe closet, but the quote still has merit.

Waiting until January 1st to make a change is a delaying tactic - like inviting an trick out to lunch instead of just saying over the phone that you may have given him an STD.  We delay because we know we really don't want to do it.

That said, I am making a change for 2005.  For five years, I've more or less tried to post to daily.  There are a few months where life intervened, but you'll find a long string of posts if you care to look.  It is time for me to turn my creative pursuits to something different.  This year I am going to a) write a book, b) create and attempt publishing a book of photographs, and c) find a man who wants to marry live with me and help replace the siding on my house. 

This year I will be writing for just once a week and posting the new entry each Monday.  For hard-core Sister Betty fans, you can still see Crazy Helga live every day and soon join the Crazy Helga Spotters Club.  At the end of the year you can fork over $20 and buy my book.

Now, time for the gym.

10 January 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I don't think school children take field trips much anymore.  Field trips joined music and art programs in the graveyards of budget cuts and exaggerated insurance premiums.

My schools featured three primary field trip destinations:  the symphony, the United States Geological Service and the Purina Dog Food Factory.

The local university was rather well known for its symphony.  It isn't difficult to gain such a reputation in a part of the world where the nearest city of more than 5,000 people is 150 miles away and the locals think music is best enjoyed with a premium malt beverage.  Each year the symphony presented some program under the name of "Bubble Gum Pops" which translates roughly into "Get Dressed Up to Ride A Bus and Then Sleep for Two Hours."  I never understood why musicians took so long to tune their instruments and once tuned played such boring music.  Once I reached the age of ten, The Flight of the Bumblebee was ruined forever.

The United States Geological Service (USGS) perched on a hill overlooking the high school.  The USGS was cool.  The lobby featured a six foot high globe of the moon constructed entirely of photographs from lunar landings, a display case with real moon rocks, seismographs ticking and charting the movement of the earth, and guys who told interesting stories about dinosaurs burned in lava.  Unlike the symphony, I didn't have to get dressed up for this field trip and the "Government Property: No Trespassing Signs" gave it an aura of secrecy.

The plant manager at Purina always took us on the same tour:  first to the room where technicians checked incoming grain for acceptable levels of pests; then to the place where train cars dumped corn onto conveyor belts; and finally to the production floor where women in white shower caps dropped coupons in open bags before a machine sewed the bags shut.  The last time I toured the Purina Plant, my parents were busy taking my puppy to the pound.  I learned how dog food was manufactured and how cruel parents can be in a single day.

Of all these places, the USGS was best and I looked forward to those field trips...they were certainly better than the trips we took to the Purina Dog Food Factory.  Then again, Purina always gave us free samples and those cheap bastards at USGS never did give me a moon rock.

18 January 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Disney will shortly release yet another princess film.  The plot is familiar and recycled - unpopular and outcast girl suddenly discovers she is heir to a throne, is selected from the other drab girls by a stunning prince, or learns overnight she can perform a sport without any previous practice or talent. 

These princess films conveniently forget the only remaining monarchies consist of Middle-Eastern puppet governments where princesses exist in bhurka-clad harems or powerless European relics with unruly princes inclined to wear outdated uniforms.  In princess films, royals come from far away lands where men still wear felt pants and the locals have decent health care.

My sister-in-law tells me princess films are "every little girl's fantasy".  Is the fantasy of the child or the fantasy of the mother?  Does Mom look at Dad in his overstuffed recliner with his distended belly and say:  "Fuck I hope my daughter is really a lost child of royalty."

If we were honest, we'd tell little girls they face a high likelihood of three divorces, two children, twenty additional pounds below the navel, a cloned house in a faceless subdivision, a moderately priced minivan and a career outsourced to India.  What are the odds of Julie Andrews rescuing any particular girl versus the odds said girl ends up on welfare?  Call my bookie, I'm betting on the crack addicted hooker.

There is no comparison for boys.  No filmmaker has stories of princesses rushing in to save a drab boy from oblivion.  Boys can be wizards or spies, but so can girls.  In fact, every wizard or spy movie pairs a boy with a girl.  When it comes to being rescued by royalty, the genre exists solely for girls.  Feminists have lost the war to Prince Charming.

Disney seems to endlessly recycle this dreck because it provides a lovely fantasy compared to a life spent wandering through malls comparing cheap Chinese goods in one store to cheap Korean goods in another.  Even I would don a poofy dress and wander the halls of a castle to avoid another trip to Wal-Mart.  (Then again, I might don a poofy dress just for an afternoon at the mini-golf course.)

If I had a daughter, I'd spare her the fairy tale nonsense and buy her a book about a chick who made her own life - Abigail Adams, Madeleine Albright, Amelia Earhart, Sylvia Earle, Wilma Mankiller.  Or maybe I'd just show her a bottle of TrimSpa and explain how real American princesses are created.

23 January 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

See the blizzard live from the comfort of your own home via Sister Betty's Live Streaming Internet Camera from Portland, Maine.  Brrr.

31 January 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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One of life's greatest mysteries is why airlines can transport pets in the cargo hold but not children.

I am unconvinced that being able to produce either viable sperm and ovum is sufficient to entitle the bearer to create children.  Many heterosexuals are quick to vote for any regulation governing men who have sex with men; cast a glance at reproductive freedom and the straight folk are ready for revolution.  Most states spend more than a third of annual tax receipts to provide free education and services for children.  Certainly this cash expenditure gives us some right to regulate who reproduces, in what quantity and for what purpose.  Failing this, we are justified in minimally regulating where and when we are exposed to this vicious offspring.

Conceptually, children are a wonderful idea.  The idea, however, fails when placed under the control of modern parents who seem to have abandoned any sense of public decorum or behavioral controls.  Once dubbed with a "My Mommy is So Creative" name like Hybiscus or Tyler, these children are set lose on the world while their parents grow obese complaining about being overworked. Spend twenty minutes in a supermarket, theatre, or airliner, and you too will be ready to suffocate the little bastards with a cheap pillow. 

While I can't expect congress to ban all reproduction except that necessary to maintain a sufficient supply of workers, and then only from highly qualified parents, I will settle for some laws banning children from any public accommodation including, but not limited to, airplanes, supermarkets, theaters, sit-down restaurants and any place where single adults gather in groups of more than three.

If my cats can survive a coast to coast journey in the pressure-controlled airliner cargo bay, then so can a five year old.  Traveling in upscale cargo bins equipped with DVD players like the minivan back home, the mindless little rats will hardly notice they've moved.


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