Thursday, December 21, 2006

More birds at the birdfeeder

I'll post them a little smaller this time, because I realized the larger-than-life pictures in my first birdfeeder post had a Hitchcock vibe. (Don't look now, but THE CHICKADEES ARE COMING TO GET YOU!!! BIRDS! BIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRDDS!!!)

The titmouse isn't coming to get you, but he's thinking about it.

The nuthatch is too hungry to go after you.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Phil's birthday

You might wonder why I go to DC so often. It seems to have become the gravitational center of Justin's group of friends. Several of his good friends live there, and another is trying to get a job there. We might end up there eventually, although the street system and I are going to have to work out a few issues first.

So Saturday night we celebrated Phil's birthday in Dupont at Buffalo Billiards. It was a surprise. And it's a testament to the generally oblivious nature of guys that we did not ruin the surprise, despite the fact that we are not a group of people very good at keeping secrets. And by "we," I mean Justin.

Phil was surprised to see Zeke, who was supposed to be in Florida.

And Danny, who was supposed to be...wait, he lives in DC.

And he was surprised to see Justin, and his ever-rampant beard.

Jen, Phil's betrothed, planned the whole thing.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas cards

One of the small pleasures of this time of year is replacing last year's Christmas card photos on the refrigerator with new ones as they come in. (We will contribute to all your refrigerators one day, I promise. As soon as we start having kids.)

I just want to tell everyone who's sent a card - and you know who you are - this year's pictures are really beautiful. Everyone looks better at thirty than they did at twenty. The expectant moms are cute pregnant ladies. The next generation is looking less like toddlers and more like kids. And everyone looks truly joyful. You guys are awesome.

Monday, December 18, 2006

What's up with this?

Again, I apologize to my Seattle friends for having much better weather than you. But really, how can I even think about baking Christmas cookies under such circumstances?

[ducks as friends from Seattle throw food that spoiled because the power was out too long]

I really like living in Virginia in the winter. It might snow. It might be seventy degrees. What it will not do is rain for weeks on end.

Around Capitol Hill

We were in DC this weekend for our friend Phil's birthday party. I just brought my little point-and-shoot camera this time, but I got some nice pictures. It's been unseasonably warm and sunny here. Sorry, Seattle friends.

Monday, December 11, 2006


When I was in elementary school, I was really interested in birds. I knew every species of bird that could conceivably appear in a suburban Northwestern backyard and did a science project on birds. Now I'm in a new place with different birds and decided it was time to get into birdwatching again.

(Aren't birdfeeders interesting? What an odd intervention in the cycle of nature, that we would feed birds for no other purpose than to look at them.)

The first bird I saw on the patio taking advantage of ambient scattered birdseed was a song sparrow. The first bird I saw actually using the feeder was a downy woodpecker.

The first birds I photographed were these house finches:

There are only two perches, so another finch was waiting to get a piece of the action.

And naturally, someone else showed up.

The squirrel tried all sorts of angles to get at the feeder but couldn't find one that worked. I felt sorry for it, so I put out some cornbread. Not that this cornbread turned out very well, so maybe I'm not doing it any favors.

The cats love the birdfeeder. I'm not sure they understand that if they stand right by the window drooling, it intimidates the birds. The squirrel doesn't care, though.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blogroll additions

I've been slowly adding to my blogroll, in no systematic fashion, but I wanted to mention two blogs in particular. I recently discovered that the senior and associate pastors who were at my old home church, Bethany Community Church, back when I lived in Seattle, both have blogs. They are not your ordinary evangelical pastors. Richard Dahlstrom at Rain City Pastor recently wrote about evangelicals who are breaking out of their one-party identity. Scott Becker has moved on from Bethany to work on a PhD in Christian ethics and is blogging about his struggle with cancer. His most recent post is on health care as a moral issue. I'm reminded of how blessed I was to know these two extraordinary people during my last few years in Seattle, and I'm glad I'm able to keep learning from them from all the way across the country.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The AAR: Religion and the 2006 elections

I'm finally reviewing my notes from a session at the AAR on The Role of Scripture in the 2006 Elections. (Actually, it was an SBL session, if I recall correctly, and it was more on religion in general in the 2006 elections, but you get the idea.) The panel, consisting of Anna Greenberg, Terry Eastland, John Podesta, Missy Daniel, and Shaun Casey, said a lot of substantive things, and I'll just mention what I found most interesting and memorable.

  • The panelists agreed, as most people have agreed, that the 2006 elections didn't indicate a fundamental shift to the left on the part of the electorate, but rather a combination of disenchantment with the Republicans and the Democrats' success at targeting candidates to specific races without the expectation that they'll meet all the usual criteria of the party platform.

  • A number of Democratic candidates, such as Heath Shuler and Ted Strickland, were able to convey their religious convictions in an authentic and persuasive way and were clearly comfortable speaking religious language, in contrast to most Democratic candidates in recent years. (There's Obama, too.)

  • Shaun Casey (whom I liked a lot) made a few good points: that evangelical youth culture is more pliable and less focused on wedge issues than their parents; the hope for swinging the electorate is in the middle (yay!) (rather than invigorating the base, I guess); Republicans overreached on immigration and lost ground to Democrats (true, especially given that Catholics are the swing vote and we tend to be pro-immigration and other social justice-y things); and the concept of framing according to George Lakoff (whom he refused to name) has a "highly frustrating and demeaning" view of religion, but fortunately that moment seems to be past.

  • John Podesta noted than when Kerry was asked in the 2004 debates about how his religion would inform his public service, he gave exactly the same sort of answer that Kennedy did, i.e. he tried to play down the influence of his Catholicism on his political action. Except that, oops, it's not 1960 anymore. That is, now nobody's worried a Catholic candidate will be too Catholic, but not Catholic enough. (Although it remains to be seen whether the same holds true for a Mormon candidate.)

  • Terry Eastland noted there aren't any obvious evangelical candidates on the right. He named Frist (who's decided since then not to run) and Brownback (who evidently is) as outlying possibilities. John Podesta was the first and I think only person to mention Giuliani (whom Justin likes), but seemed convinced that he's too out of step with the religious right to get the nomination and might cause a third-party break. (Which, if it's a centrist party, is fine with me. But I think McCain's more likely than Giuliani to run as a third-party candidate if he doesn't get the nomination and a very conservative Republican does.)

I went to another panel on religion and politics called "Progressive Politics and Religion: Has the Left 'Gotten It'?" (an allusion to panelist Jim Wallis' book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, which I'm just beginning to read), but I don't feel like talking about it at the moment because 1. what the heck am I doing anyway? it's past midnight, 2. my notes are much more fragmentary, and 3. I was alternately very intrigued and very frustrated, probably because, you know, I'm not really a progressive. But I'm on their email list now, so I'll see where that gets me.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Why I celebrate Christmas on December 25

Yes, I know Mithras' birthday is December 25. Yes, I know about the winter solstice. Yes, I know about the Saturnalia. I got the memo. Thanks. In fact, I minored in Obscure Greco-Roman Religious Cults for my MA, so I knew about it all even before you sent the memo.


It's Advent. The nights are getting longer, the days shorter and colder. I had to take in my rosemary last night because it was so cold. I forget every year how early the evening comes, how easy it is to wander out to do a few errands and come back in the dark.

This leads to a sense of urgency and anticipation: How much longer do we have to wait until the days lengthen again?

And then, on the darkest night of the year, a star brightens the sky; a child is born, the most joyous of human miracles in any circumstances, and all the more because that child is God made flesh, who will suffer when he reaches adulthood but for now, for one glorious moment, is suspended in that moment of beauty and wonder at tiny hands, tiny feet, born to a girl who did nothing special but to assent to the angel who burst in on her ordinary life and announced how, in nine months, her world and the entire world would change.

Somehow it just doesn't seem the same to celebrate all that in April.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


I finally posted a recipe at De Re Coquinaria, the long-neglected recipe blog I started last year in anticipation of having a real kitchen again and then forgot about when I finally did have a kitchen (Deanna's been more faithful). Last Christmas I got several cookie recipes from Justin's Aunt Ann, all passed down from her grandmother, Grama Graves, but it seemed kind of silly to post Christmas cookie recipes right after Christmas, so I saved them until this year. Not that it has to be Christmas to bake cookies. But there is something really nice about putting some Christmas music on the stereo and baking cookies, especially if one's husband, who barely tolerates Christmas music, goes to Washington DC and leaves one stranded without a car and nothing to do except clean the kitchen and bake things in it.

When I was in college, I made my first batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch, which turned out so not as horrible as I expected that I kept on baking them. (My apologies to anyone who was afflicted with the infamous Yellow Chocolate Chip Cookies.) My mom never really baked things, so I'm not sure where I got that from. Justin's family bakes, though. His dad makes these marvelous crescent rolls (also a Grama Graves recipe), and the first Christmas I was in Chapel Hill, I helped Gomma and Gompa, Justin's paternal grandparents, make stollen. (That's why we never baked growing up; I'm not the teeniest bit Scandinavian.) They also gave us my beloved stand mixer, without which I do not know how I survived all these cookie-baking years. I didn't even have a hand mixer until a few years ago. I don't know what I was thinking.

Anyway, this is why I want to have kids: so they can grow up and have kids, and we can all gather together in the especially fabulous kitchen I'm going to have by then and bake things and eat them. That is the true meaning of Christmas. Well, actually, it's not, but I'm sure if Grama Graves had been a wise man, she would have brought the baby Jesus chocolate krinkle puffs, and there would have been plenty left over for the shepherds, too.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The history of the world in a four-day weekend

One thing I love about Justin is how he can explain the Vietnam War or Middle Eastern politics to eleven-year-olds. And we were both impressed with how much they already knew.

Monday, November 27, 2006


We are back from DC and Ithaca. We left before the AAR was over, which might have been precipitous as I'm sure there were many people I could have seen in DC but didn't, but it was nice to spend the time with Justin's family and friends. We got back at 10 PM last night and I'm still not fully recovered, so I'll post more about our trip when I'm feeling more energetic.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

To DC, and beyond!

We're headed to DC tomorrow for the annual AAR (American Academy of Religion) conference, and thence (I said "thence"!) to Ithaca for Thanksgiving. I can't think of anything exciting to say about all that, but I'll probably have pictures and/or stories to share from the road.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More true to life than the Meez

Juliet and Justin as South Park characters!

Do your own here.

Hat tip to, like, pretty much everyone at DC Blogs. I don't remember where I first saw it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The election, a week later

Well, almost a week later. It's a week later in Europe! Of course, they didn't have our election.

  1. Justin feels I should reiterate that driving in DC does not actually endanger our marriage. Of course he's right. An eternity of driving in DC would not diminish our love. But we do have really delightful exchanges like this:

    Justin: Turn there! Turn there! Why didn't you turn there?
    Juliet: I didn't have time!
    Justin: Yes, you did!
    Juliet: [exasperated] Do you want to drive?
    Justin: I've been offering to drive for the last ten minutes.
    Juliet: Oh, right.

    Thanks a lot, Pierre L'Enfant, you homewrecker.

  2. My confusion about how large the majority is in the House is, I believe, due to two different numbers floating around: the number of seats Democrats gained from Republicans, and the majority they have as a result. Obviously the majority isn't as large as the total number of seats they gained. I mean, obvious if you've done math since graduating from high school, which I have studiously avoided, due in part to my traumatic history with calculators.

  3. The 2008 presidential race has shaped up over the past few weeks as follows: Mark Warner dropped out, which is a bummer because the apparent shift to center-left would favor him. Russ Feingold dropped out, which means not-Hillary on the left is...Al Gore? John Edwards? (I don't get the appeal of Edwards. Justin described him as a Ken doll. I've never understood the appeal of Ken dolls either. Or Kennedys. Kennedys all look weird to me, like a cross between a leprechaun and a pug.) McCain and Giuliani are officially exploring the possibility of running for president, whereas before the election they were only thinking about exploring the possibility of running for president. That's one less layer of calculated noncommitment, see? And there's Barack Obama too. I don't know what to make of him except that he's the Democrats' best orator since Clinton, and we could all use someone who's easy on the ears right about now.

  4. Ann Althouse has had a lively thread about how moderates brought Democrats to power and Democrats had better recognize. I agree. I'm a moderate who voted for Jim Webb, which makes me one of about 9000 people (last I saw the numbers) who put him ahead of Allen. Therefore I am one of the relatively few voters responsible for the Democratic majority in the Senate. Democrats, go make me a sandwich.

    (I'm not sure what else I even want from the Democrats. But a sandwich sounds nice.)

More spam box haiku

lampshade placenta
revisions window appears
something to look at

lean and mean is in
hello, I want to know you!
tell me, good or no?

abhorrent active
metabolic abundant

* * *

The following treats from my spam box are not haiku (or, for Anne, haikudoodlum), but I found them amusing:

1. Subject line: California...fled. [Indeed.]

2. Sender: Victor Putz. [That's not very nice! You'll have to have known me since my college days to appreciate this.]

Saturday, November 11, 2006


  1. I'm starting to add blogs to my blogroll by people I don't know in real life, partly because I like having the links handy, partly because the people I do know are indecisive about having blogs. If you want to be there, I'll add you if I like you enough. A long blogroll makes me look cool. It's all about compensating for not being one of the popular kids in high school.

  2. I have this icon now in the DC Blogs live feed that's based on my current template, which is fine, except that I've never found a template I like, so who knows how long I'll keep this one. My dream masthead (while I'm fixated on this mountain thing) is to have the Cascades fading into the Blue Ridge, since, you know, they look totally alike. Of course if we move again, I'll have to get a new masthead.

  3. I changed my blog description, which, at two lines, was bumping into the red line on some browsers (and by the way, the red line doesn't appear on every computer, which is kind of weird), but I'm not happy with that, either. "And no one heard at all, not even the chair" is from "I Am I Said," by Neil Diamond, which Dave Barry called one of the worst songs ever. And it is. But it's about the emotional trauma of feeling torn between one coast to the other, and I understand that, although come to think of it, I don't really want to live on the west coast again, so maybe I don't. Anyway, what's a snappy one-liner that'll sum up my blog and look nice transposed over some mountains, some snowy, some not so snowy?

  4. I probably shouldn't add a permanent link to my Meez because it's so myspacey and twee, but I put so much time into getting her just right that I really have to show her to you. I love how 1. I get to bring a cat into my virtual library and 2. the cat's all like GET ME AWAY FROM THIS CRAZY WOMAN WHO'S RUBBING HER FACE ON ME!

(Dude, if I do lists, they appear in a different font. Another reason I don't like this template. Bleaghle.)

November 11

Justin's great-great-great grandfather's grave in Clear Lake, Minnesota.

For the first of our ancestors on these shores who served our country, for our grandfathers who served during WWII and the Korean War, for those who have served in decades since and are serving now; for those who have given up years of their lives in the cause of freedom, for our country, for the citizens of our country, and for all the people of the world, we observe this day.


Friday, November 10, 2006



I sort of bumbled into this job for next semester as an adjunct instructor at a community college about an hour from here. They had my CV on file from last June, emailed me to ask if I'd be interested in teaching, and then told me I was hired as soon as I said I was. The pay is exiguous; it pays for gas and probably little more than minimum wage once you calculate how many hours I'll spend lecturing, grading, and doing prep, but it's good experience. I'm a little intimidated because it's an introductory religion course from a comparative perspective, and although you'd think, gee, I have a masters in comparative religion, I really prefer the historical/theological/scriptural perspective from which I've studied religion since I started my doctoral studies.

This, however, combined with my tutoring (which hour for hour is much more profitable) should provide our little human-feline household enough income to pay for most of our basic expenses. That's nice.

I went up there today to fill out paperwork. It's a nice drive, especially today when it was 75 degrees and sunny, although I'll be doing it in the dark for much of the semester.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Still in DC

We went over to Phil's place in Dupont for a couple hours. And it's not like we can get out of this maze anyway.

Word on the street is that Rumsfeld's resigning. I hope he's replaced with someone more effective at getting Iraq in shape. This could be the best thing to come from the election.

I realized that for once, the results in the state I live in probably turned out pretty much the way I voted, except for ballot measure #1, which is kind of a big exception.

If you need something to make you happy, look at Cute Overload. Here at Girl With Flat Hat, we like all the fluffy animals.

The morning after

Well, the best possible result would be for Justin to win the election pool, but I don't think he will. He didn't predict the House would go so far for the Democrats.

Oh, but what does this mean for the country, and for Moderate With Flat hat?

1. Overall, a divided government is probably a good thing. More gridlock means less spending, I hope.

2. I'd have preferred the Senate flip rather than the House (it might yet--Montana and Virginia are still too close to call) because the House might initiate impeachment proceedings and I think that would be bad for the country and for Democrats, but a lot of the new Congresspeople are moderates, so that might not happen anyway.

3. Justin's saying Democrats have a thirteen-seat majority in the house (it might be as high as eighteen), which is not a lot. (11:55: I'm apparently really off on that. It's more like 24 seats, or more. I'm really tired.)

4. Lieberman's victory makes me very happy. Mostly because I believe in rule by the people (=Democrats) and not rule by Democrats (Democratcrats) who thought he was obligated to drop out of the race because of a small majority in the primary by a teeny percentage of Connecticut voters and therefore deprive the majority of people who, as it turned out, did prefer having the right to check his name on the ballot.

5. A very severe anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment passed in Virginia. By a lot.

We're heading out soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Latest election results

Santorum concedes.
Lieberman retains his seat. (We are moderates; hear us roar!)
Cardin is probably winning in Maryland.
Chafee makes nobody happy.
Allen seems to be winning Virginia, but it's really close.

Our long-awaited Chinese food is finally here.

11:26: Justin calls the House for the Democrats. Senate looks to be staying slight majority Republican. We are eating cake.

11:57: With 99.1% of precincts reporting, Allen leads Webb by less than 2,000 votes. 25,567 voted for the Independent Green candidate; 2,263 wrote in votes. Hmmm.

12:08: Justin emphasizes that a lot of the Democrats who are winning House seats are moderates. Jove's mom (former speechwriter for Kucinich) calls and Justin tells her, "Tag! You're it!"

12:28: Webb's leading on the Virginia website with 99.26% of precincts reporting. This will probably go to a recount.

12:55: Everyone who's not spending the night is headed home. Still too soon to know for sure which way the Senate will go. Now the buzz is whether anyone will challenge Pelosi for Speaker. I've been hopped up on coffee for the last sixteen hours, but I'm fading. Whoa, FOX is predicting Democrats will pick up 30 to 35 seats in the House. Washington and Montana Senate seats go to Democrats. Other Senate seats, including Virginia, too close to call. News will be waiting for me when I wake up tomorrow.

Live Virginia results

Here. Reload often.

Allen leads Webb with a little over half the precincts in. All the ballot measures (one anti-gay marriage, two that were convoluted but sounded okay) are passing. Goode (rhymes with dude) leads Weed (heh, weed!) by a lot.

We're waiting on Chinese food. Busy night for food delivery here in DC.

We interrupt our election night coverage...

...for this important update on Girl With Flat Hat's hair.

Justin took this picture right after my haircut. It's the best of my hair itself, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with it because of the double-chin action going on.

So I took some pictures of myself. I kind of like this one.

Live from DC

Justin and I are here, east of the Capitol, for our Election Night Extravaganza!

It took us four hours to drive here from Charlottesville, pick up Jove from work, and get to his apartment. DC traffic is heinous. And when you're coming in on 395, and you're looking for the D St. exit, it would be nice if there were an actual sign for the D St. exit. As far as we could tell, there are several signs saying it's coming up, but no signs for the ramp itself. It's happened to us twice that we've ended up on like New York Avenue or K St. or something. Washington, take some of the mad government money swirling around here and buy some signs so Justin and I don't have marriage-endangering arguments every time we drive here. (Actually, it wasn't so bad this time, but why take any extra risks?) Thank you.

Before we ditched town, we participated in the electoral process.

I took that like ten minutes ago. Digital cameras and high-speed Internet are awesome.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The things that really matter

My best friend Heidi brought her son Benjamin into the world yesterday evening. All ten pounds and two ounces of him. Without drugs. What did you do yesterday?

Have a happy election!

We'll be spending tomorrow night with our cable-equipped friends in DC. Justin's sent in his picks for competitive Congressional seats. His friends have a pool going, but a number refuse to participate because they're convinced Justin will win, with all the time he spends mapping the political landscape. I'm planning on baking the same almost-flourless chocolate cake that I made two years ago for election night when we were in Berkeley. Everyone went home sad, but hey, at least they had cake. Girl With Flat Hat officially endorses cake in 2006. As for your other election day choices, you're on your own.


1. Pay attention to what kind of Democrats win. If it's moderates, and they're the ones who seem to have the best shot, that might not be quite the mandate the party base is expecting. (Speaking of mandates, did ~51% somehow become a mandate in the last two years? Why are so many Democrats calling Lieberman "selfish" for continuing his Senate campaign despite [barely] losing his party's nomination when so many Connecticut voters seem to want the chance to vote for him? If you want voters to have fewer choices, who's being selfish? Reason #1,862 I'm not registered with either of your stupid parties, you sycophantic partisans.)

2. I heard (but from Fox News, so who knows?) that Republicans have rapidly made up ground in the most recent polls. I want this to have to do with Kerry, just because I'm still feeling snarky about that, but it could be for other reasons: the Saddam verdict, last-minute campaigning, Karl Rove activating his Secret Victory Machine of Doom at the eleventh hour...

3. Justin, who knows more about the history of politics than anyone in Charlottesville except Larry Sabato, says he can't think of a two-term president whose party didn't lose Congressional seats in their sixth year. So I'd say if Democrats don't kick Republicans' skanky butts six ways to Sunday in this election, especially given Bush's abysmal popularity and mediocre performance, they had best rethink how they run campaigns before 2008.

Less politics and more flathattery after the election, I promise.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Local Democrats are doing better at GOTV

I don't know how it is in the rest of the state, but here in the greater Charlottesville-Albemarle metropolitan area, the Democrats have gone to the following efforts:

1. Put a card on our doorknob to tell us to vote (for Jim Webb and Al Weed)
2. Had our local delegate, David Toscano, call us in person (not a recording, a person!) to tell us to vote (for Jim Webb and Al Weed)
3. Put a table out on the Downtown Mall with free Democratic campaign materials, including the ever-popular-with-the-kids WEED bumper stickers! (Oh, they say Al Weed? Oh, okay. Never mind we just took six of them. Carry on.)

Meanwhile, not a peep from the Republicans, unless they were behind that recorded abortion "survey" I hung up on a couple weeks ago. I thought Karl Rove was going to hunt us down and drive us to the polls with cattle prods. Maybe they heard that Justin was threatening to write in Macaca for Senator and decided we weren't faithful enough.

Two more days! Boy, this is fun!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Quick survey for my evangelical friends

If you're around this weekend:

1. Had you ever heard of Ted Haggard before this week?
2. If a stranger asked you your religious affiliation, would you use the word "evangelical" to describe yourself?

Thanks in advance.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Don't argue with me, or I'll cover you with phlegm

This is the stub of a Girl With Flat Hat FAQ. Nobody ever asks me questions, but if you want to ask one, here are all the answers in one handy place. (And seriously, I have snot coming out of me in shades of green that don't ordinarily occur in nature. Don't mess with me. I can do anything right now except talk. I can definitely find you wherever you are and cough on you.)

Do you really wear a flat hat?
No. I just like that statue in my profile.

Is this a blog about politics?
No. But I post about politics sometimes. Probably too often.

What is this blog about, then?
It's partly a way for several friends of mine in Seattle who read it to keep up with my life, partly an outlet for "creative writing" in the sense that I used to do but rarely do anymore, partly for me to vent. It has no theme. Any attempt to discern a theme will drive you to insanity. Don't send me the bill from the psychiatric ward. I'll get phlegm on it anyway.

Are you a Republican or a Democrat?
Neither. I don't submit to your arbitrary categories!

Well, are you registered as a Republican or a Democrat?
Neither. Never have been. I asked for a Republican ballot in the 2000 primary so I could vote for McCain. Otherwise I've always voted as an independent.

Have you ever campaigned for a Republican or a Democrat?
I stuffed envelopes for a local candidate for state representative when I was in high school. He was a Democrat, but he later switched parties. Probably something to do with his being pro-life even as a Democrat.

Just freaking tell me what party you identify with before I come over there and kick you.
Okay. I'm Republican, sorta. I think a lot of Republicans currently in office are loathsome people, but I happen to agree with Republicans more often than I agree with Democrats, so there you go.

Do you have friends you disagree with politically?
Of course. You don't?

But if someone disagrees with you, doesn't that mean they're evil and stupid?
No, it means they have a different way of seeing the world and draw different conclusions from what they see. Or else they are evil and stupid. That's always a possibility. But all my friends are smart and nice.

If I use a word like DhimmicRAT or RethugliKKKan, does that make me clever?
No. What are you, like, in seventh grade?

Who should I vote for?
I don't know. They're all kinda lame.

I like your pictures. What camera do you use?
I use a Canon Digital Rebel XT and an assortment of lenses that I spend too much money on.

I don't like your pictures. Please stop posting them.
Is someone holding a gun to your head and making you look at them? No? Strange, that's what it sounded like.

There's something you haven't written about that's far more important than any of the silly things you post about. Will you post about it?
No. Get your own damn blog.

What if it's a post about saving all the starving malarial children in Zaire or something like that?
Well, maybe. But it's not called Zaire anymore.

You didn't answer my question. Where do you live so I can ask you in person and/or strew your yard with rotting vegetables?
I don't have a yard, so there! But you can email me at the address on the sidebar.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The last of fall

These tomatoes are not long for this world, as it's supposed to get down to freezing the next few nights. Time to try making fried green tomatoes.

On Kerry

I have a few thoughts I'll make as non-partisan as I can. (Which still isn't very non-partisan. I'm not gonna lie. I don't really like Kerry. I don't much like Bush either. Since I didn't live in a swing state in 2004, I didn't feel obligated to vote for either of them. God bless write-in slots.)

1. If Kerry hadn't said anything noteworthy, what would've dominated the news cycle instead? Probably George Allen's goons roughing up a Democrat here in Charlottesville. The Allen/Webb campaign has already drawn intense national interest for its competitiveness and drama (I mean drama in the lame junior-highish sense), and Kerry blew a great news story for Democrats by shifting the attention to himself, with only a week to go before the election, no less.

2. There are those Kerry defenders who think he doesn't need to apologize for what he said. (What's odd is that his defenders don't agree on whether he was "right" in the sense that he was talking about Bush getting us stuck in Iraq because he didn't study hard enough in school [notwithstanding Kerry's similarly lackluster Yale GPA--let's just settle this right now: you and I, dear reader, are smarter than BOTH these bozos], or right about what it sounded like he was saying about the troops in Iraq. If you can't agree on what he was talking about, isn't that in itself indicative of a problem?) In this case, when Kerry's reputation isn't on the line but his party's is, it doesn't matter whether he was right. Kerry needed to apologize as soon as he realized he'd caused a kerfuffle and get out of the news as soon as possible, for the sake of his party. No, he's not running for office, but he's still the public face of the Democratic party, as their most recent presidential nominee. I doubt nearly as many people know who the DNC chair is, or who the House minority leader is, as know Kerry was the last Democrat to run for president. I don't mean that he actually is representative of mainstream Democratic opinion, just that people are likely to perceive him that way. What he says matters, not just for Kerry, but for all Democrats, and they have a lot at stake this year. (I doubt that ultimately this incident will make much difference by itself, but it compounds the public image issues that Democrats as well as Republicans have. I can't think of an election year in which discussion of actual, you know, policy was more important, and in which less of it has taken place.)

3. Kerry's just a bad politician. He would be much more savvy if he'd had his belligerant response to the Swift-Boating and his meek response to the controversy surrounding his recent comments. I am operating on the assumption that he was foolish enough to say something unintentionally that would alienate a lot of people, but not so foolish as to intend to say what came out of his mouth. I don't think he can be not foolish, though. "Not foolish" entails not giving your political enemies their material in the first place, and then spending two days making the situation even worse. Kerry has decades of political experience and ran for the highest office in the country. He should know by now how the game works.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

News flash!

Kerry apologizes for comments about troops in Iraq.

National Council of Teachers of English demands apology for split infinitive.

I'm not sure I want this campaign season to end. It's so entertaining! Not in the least inspiring, but entertaining.

Oh, and happy feast of All Saints. I'm headed to church in a few minutes to sing "For All the Saints" the one time a year we get to do it, in my raspy sick voice. At least, as an alto, I can claim it's sultry.

Quote of the day

Eddie Izzard: "I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from."

Reminds me: Must put more Eddie Izzard DVDs in Netflix queue!

(Thanks, Gmail!)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Things that are making me cranky

1. I'm sick. There is some snot involved, but generally it's the sort of cold I don't get very often, where I feel exhausted, lethargic, and generally hideous. This happens to be at the same time that I'm helping several students prepare for their midterm, so I really can't not tutor unless I'm completely incapacitated.

2. I can no longer access my Washington bank account online. It's the one I use the most. Boo to Bank of America. Five years since I left Seattle and they still haven't synchronized all their fragmented computer systems. Get on the ball, Bank of America people.

3. We are using Netflix, which is cool and I highly recommend it. What's not cool is that the postal service doesn't always or even frequently deliver or return movies in one day like they're supposed to. And last week they just decided one day not to deliver mail at all. I feel like we're not getting as much out of our Netflix subscription as we could (although it's still a good deal) because the movie turnaround isn't as fast as it should be. Boo to the U.S. Postal Service. What happened to that neither rain nor sleet nor snow thing? It's like seventy degrees and sunny right now, anyway.

Tonight is, of course, Halloween. If we get trick-or-treaters, it'll probably only be a few, and I don't want a bunch of leftover candy (well, I want it, but I think it's a bad idea to have it), so we're going to turn off all our lights and pretend we're not here and hopefully not get toilet paper or pumpkin shards all over our...whatever. The nice thing about a condo is there's not really much to vandalize.

Friday, October 27, 2006

What should I do with my hair?

I am getting a haircut tomorrow morning. I'm way past due.

Justin likes to brush my hair sometimes, which I don't. It's kind of sad. I have long, thick, wavy brown hair. It's probably my best feature. I don't like using products on it, washing it more than necessary, or putting any time into it at all, really. For the past year I've just been pulling it back in a sort of scrunchied poof most of the time, because otherwise it just gets everywhere. I shed more than my two cats do. So my husband, who doesn't begrudge me most of my excesses but doesn't often suggest I splurge on anything in particular, told me to get a haircut. A good one.

So I'm going to Bristles, the salon where my bridesmaids and I did our facials, pedicures, manicures, eyebrow waxes, and wedding hairstyles. I haven't gotten a haircut there. But I've never gotten a haircut in Charlottesville. The last time I got a haircut was two years ago, when I was in Seattle for Thanksgiving. Yes, it's been that long. My hair grows slowly, but still.

Part of the reason I know it's time for a haircut is I hate all the pictures that have been taken of me this year. (Or maybe that's because of the 20 pounds I've gained since the wedding.) This is an older picture, shortly after my last haircut, which I thought was okay but not great. I'm the one without a beard.

So what should I do with my hair? I'm thinking something between chin and shoulder length and low maintenance. But I'm not really good at these things.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


What's the first thing that came into your head when you read the title of this post? I mean, the very first thing.

The first thing that popped into my head was "metrosexual."

"Metronatural" is the new slogan for the city of Seattle.

Well, it's not that far off, I guess. (?) Don't get me wrong, I like metrosexuals. I had crushes on several of them back in my single days. [Editor: No, they were actually gay.] But will reminding people of metrosexuals get people to visit Seattle? I don't really think so. Move there, yes. Visit? Do people from Oklahoma really want to visit the Emerald City (there was nothing wrong with that slogan, now, was there?) to see metrosexuals?

The second thing that popped into my head was that the regional transit system had started using biofuels. Which would be cool (and maybe they are), but that's a little specific for a city slogan.

Oh well. I'm not really the target market, anyway.

What you really want to see is a picture of the slogan on the Space Needle. Everything looks good on the Space Needle. Christmas lights, enormous crabs, you name it.

I got the link from my dad, who keeps me up to date on what's happening in my hometown.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The other Washington, and the Washington that no longer is

I was born in Seattle, and knew from a young age that I lived in Washington. In the manner of all young people I knew very little outside my immediate surroundings, so I didn't always understand that there was another Washington out there. And why would I? My Washington produced planes and apples and software; the other Washington just ran the country, and how hard can that be? It can't be as hard as they make it.

Anyway, I have been thinking recently of how I learned about The Other Washington, because it's tied to some of my earliest memories.

There was this burger chain in the Northwest called Herfy's, which now no longer exists. (Long Google-researched digression: Except it does again, but the new Herfy's restaurants aren't related at all to the old chain, they just use the old name and logo, and apparently also have good burgers. Herfy's is not to be confused with Herfy, the name of a Saudi Arabian fast food chain. Who knew?) Herfy's used to have Happy Meal-like kids' meals called Wacky Burger Boxes, which (props to Google again) predated actual Happy Meals, although both existed when I was a sprout. I remember that one of the Wacky Burger Boxes had an elaborate cartoon about our Washington and "the other Washington" with a lot of "Washington slept here" type of jokes that I didn't sufficiently appreciate at a tender age. As I dimly recall, the cartoon ironically (I now realize) cast our Washington as the real, famous Washington, and the one on the Potomac as just this place that happens to have the same name, but none of the real Washington's charms.

Yeah, I know the payoff on that one wasn't worth it. Sorry.

Another long digression, in case you thought I was The Good Child: When I was about four, around Christmastime, I expected one day that my parents would take me to see Santa at the Aurora Village Frederick & Nelson and then take me to dinner at Herfy's. (There are three, count 'em, THREE northwestern institutions in that sentence that no longer exist, at least in their previous form!) But for some reason we didn't go, maybe because I had just made up that we were going and they hadn't actually said we would. I still do that. So I pitched a fit and lay on my bed sobbing and screaming "I WANT TO GO SEE SANTA AND GO TO HERFY'S!" for a few hours. Then I finally got over it and meekly emerged and ate my ordinary, boring, home-cooked meal. Chicken, I think.

Imagine how much more miserable I'd been if I'd known about Frangos then!

Eventually I grew to realize that if I told anyone who wasn't from the Northwest that I was from Washington, they would think I meant Washington, DC. Now I just say I'm from Seattle, except technically I grew up outside the city line and only ventured Into the City (reminds me, Istanbul is from the Greek for "into the city," eis ten polin) on special occasions, field trips and such, because it was, and remains, rather a pain in the neck to drive from Shoreline and park downtown. But college and onward I lived in Seattle, until I moved to Virginia. And now I say I'm from Seattle, because naturally if I say I'm from Washington, people will think I'm from the other Washington...I mean, the other other Washington, the one that runs the country. And I know enough people who live there now that I think maybe it is that hard to run the country, or even if it's not, maybe it's good that so many people go there to do it anyway.

Amazon never ceases to amuse me!

I just ordered a new translation of The Five Books of Moses by Robert Alter from Amazon. On my Amazon homepage it nows shows me this book, along with two other similar books (the Tanakh and the NRSV translation of the Bible), and underneath images of each it says:

These phrases occur frequently in each of these books: "one ram"

No kidding! Must be all those instructions for sacrifices.

A little popup window from Amazon explains:'s Statistically Improbable Phrases, or "SIPs", are the most distinctive phrases in the text of books in the Search Inside!™ program. To identify SIPs, our computers scan the text of all books in the Search Inside! program. If they find a phrase that occurs a large number of times in a particular book relative to all Search Inside! books, that phrase is a SIP in that book.

So evidently "one ram" is a phrase you're unlikely to find in any book other than the Bible. And that's probably true. How often do you use the phrase "one ram" in ordinary conversation? "So I was walking by this sheepfold" (you were?) "and this one ram was looking at me funny, so I was like, 'You lookin' at ME, ram? I can kick your furry little butt!'" Or whatever. I just made that up.

Monday, October 23, 2006

DC Blogs

At some point in the next week or so, Girl With Flat Hat should be added to the DC Blogs live feed. No, I don't live in DC. But apparently that's okay. I go there sometimes. I also write and photograph places in Virginia that DC residents might visit when they're not doing inside-the-beltway things like running the country, and I'll probably do more of that if I think more people might read it.

I'll be blogging from DC twice in November: once for the Election Night Extravaganza with Justin's friends (who, unlike us, have cable, and like us, are obsessed with politics), and once for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion.

Meanwhile, since I have nothing to say, I'll distract you: look at the pretty leaves! (Um, ignore the lens flare.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Laura in the news!

In this article about co-ops.

I never lived in a CHUVA house because I have cats. And now I have a husband. But CHUVA is cool, as are the people in it.

More from Ivy Creek

It's fall!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Spam box haiku

Laundromat mildew
Say goodbye to extra pounds
Housewives distasteful

Sturdy as an oak
Jigsaw puzzle contribute
Blackbird enlistment

Burn brother-in-law
Hearing-impaired ceramics
Make her worship you!

This will be secret
Make your fat friends envy you
Disregard scrawl

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NoVa vs. RoVa

There's a cute piece in the WaPo style section comparing Northern Virginia (NoVa) and the rest of Virginia (RoVa). Charlottesville is in RoVa, geographically speaking.

There are such gems as the following:

· In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.
· In NoVa, people spend their dough at Starbucks, shooting the breeze. In RoVa, people spend time in the breeze, shooting does and bucks.
· In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.

Um, this is how people in Charlottesville talk about the rest of the South. The farther I push into what you'd think is the South as conceived by people who don't think they're in it, the less certain I am that any of the redneck hillbilly stereotypes actually exist. I know they do to some extent, after visiting 43 of the 50 states, including all the Deep South, but even most residents of RoVa, I'd guess, live within reasonable driving distance of a Starbucks and can receive NPR on the radios in their aging American pickups. (There's an NPR affiliate in Wise, which is way out in that pointy western part of Virginia, in the middle of Appalachia.) The point of this article is to emphasize how NoVa is far more liberal politically than RoVa, which in a general sense is undoubtedly true, but to conclude that it's all Dukes of Hazzard south of Arlington is dopey.

There are several pages of comments on the article similar to mine. I'm being nicer.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I recently got one of those on-campus (excuse me, on-Grounds) jobs that involve getting paid to do things you only have to do a small percentage of the time. You know those. (I remember now that my promotion of sorts from the circulation desk to book mending at the undergraduate library at the UW involved more work, because I was always doing something, either mending books or searching for lost little books in the library. You know, when the library database shows the book has been on the shelf since 1973 but it's not there, so you have to go into the stacks and mind-read previous shelvers, to determine if someone accidentally put it under BX instead of BT, or didn't notice it was 163.52, not 163, or something like that. That was kind of fun. Juliet Crawford, book detective. All I needed was a sidekick.)

(Geez, my digressions are long.)

So I am supposedly tutoring student athletes in this course I taught a few years ago, except that I started my job right after the first exam, so nobody's come in for tutoring yet. I was sort of expecting some people might come in after they got their tests back--the first exam is always inteded to put the fear of God in you so you'll do better the next time around--but no luck so far. I've also had a bizarre schedule due to "reading days" (aka a long weekend in the last throes of good weather), an Eric Clapton concert in the building where I work, and of course football.

I'm working in a brand-new arena with offices and instruction space downstairs, and of course there's already a shortage of space because that's what always happens after you've spent several years building a multi-million dollar facility. The first two times I was here, I was in a nice, very small classroom-type room, which I shared with another tutor last week (she also didn't have anyone to tutor). Today I'm in someone's office, and the door is open, which is cool because I want to look welcoming in case someone does come in for tutoring, but there are a couple of (I assume) coaches pacing back and forth among the students who are studying at tables right outside my door, and it's making my nervous. I feel like they're going to demand I do 20 pushups if they know I'm blogging instead of tutoring, but nobody wants to be tutored, so what can I do? (Besides, you know, study.) I'm having nightmares of middle school PE all over again. Make it stop!

Friday, October 13, 2006


The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded today to Muhammed Yunus, a Bangladeshi economist who pioneered the idea of microcredit, small loans to people living in poverty in third-world countries so they could start businesses.

In the AP story circulating among numerous publications, a familiar face appears:

Worldwide, microcredit financing is estimated to have helped 92 million families last year alone, according to Jove Oliver, spokesman for the Microcredit Summit Campaign, part of the Washington-based Project Results Educational Fund.

Yay Jove! And yay Muhammed Yunus!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Justin and I are politics junkies and have been looking forward to the 2008 presidential election since the night of November 2, 2004. But then, who hasn't? I mean that we have closely followed the possible candidates in both parties in an effort to predict the future, which of course is always unpredictable.

So...Mark Warner is dropping out of the race, which is a bummer. Warner was elected governor of Virginia in 2001, my first year here, and he was an enormously popular centrist Democrat in charge of a pretty red state. He was term-limited out of office after four years. I didn't really follow Virginia politics when I lived here from 2001 to 2004, but I was impressed when I moved back here and heard him speak on the radio for a couple of weeks in a row before he left office. He's a sensible guy. He could probably have appealed to a lot of people, once he got over the national name recognition issue, which is not a small obstacle, but then our last Democratic president was a governor of Arkansas, and who follows Arkansas politics? (Besides us, and Arkansans.)

He cited personal reasons for dropping out, which would be enough for almost anyone not to run for president, but on the other hand, he was cozying up to the left wing of his party at the Yearly Kos just a few months ago, so it is a little...suspicious? Oh well. This gives us junkies something to chatter about, as if we didn't already have enough.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Camping pictures

I apologize for the lack of flathattery this past week. I don't really have a good excuse.

I didn't really get much proof of actual camping, e.g. tents (which Kris and I set up on our own, in the dark, while the guys bought food). But here is a picture of the little camp stove Kris and Jove brought:

There were some extremely cool mushrooms. I mean, cool-looking, not cool as in what happens when you eat them, though that might also be the case.

Justin stripped to his boxers and hopped into a swimming pond, then started declaiming in Greek:

Pretty fun, all in all.

Monday, October 02, 2006


We went camping this weekend with our friends Jove and Kris at Martinack State Park on Maryland's eastern shore. Pictures forthcoming.

Seattle skyline by night

(Tried to post this a few days ago, but Blogger ate my post for some reason.)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Seattle from Kerry Park

My friend Michele patiently obliged me while I shot a bunch of pictures from Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill. It wasn't perfectly clear, but you can still faintly see Mt. Rainier to the right of the skyline.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Seattle Public Library

I have mixed feelings about it.

On the one hand, I like that it's a gigantic atrium. I am a big fan of natural light and taking as much advantage of it as possible. I'm not in love with our Ikea bookcases, but they are white, which is nice because they keep the man-cave brightly lit and conducive to daytime reading.

On the other hand, what's up with this?

The escalators are fluorescent yellow. The chairs are bright orange. Everything is really stark and industrial-looking. I don't imagine it would be a relaxing place to study, although I'm pretty picky about library environments. Alderman gives me the heebie-jeebies because the ceilings are only like seven feet high and I get claustrophobia. (Part of it's my West Coast-rooted fear of earthquakes, although that's much less of a concern here.) My ideal library would be decorated in muted tones, with comfy squishy chairs, rather like the Suzzallo Graduate Reading Room, but less cavernous. I don't remember much about the incarnation of the Shoreline Public Library that existed when I was just learning to read, but I do remember it being very...brown. And that was fine.

Also, call me old-fashioned, but when I walk into a library, I expect to see, you know, books.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Seattle Center IV

This is the Space Needle reflected in the EMP again. I like reflections, especially interesting juxtapositions of age or style. Here it's the futuristic (as of 1962) Space Needle and the iridescent amoebic EMP.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Even more from the Seattle Center

I guess it's a series. Seattle Center III: Balloons at the Fun Forest.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

EMP and the monorail

Daily pictures are back!

I haven't been inside the EMP yet, but the outside is really shiny! That's the Space Needle reflected on the iridescent side.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

On the way home

(Paragraph shamelessly copied from an email to Deanna)

We're in DC with friends right now, discussing at the moment how many of us are part Native American, and whether any of our ancestors owned slaves, and waiting for the Mysterious Apocalyptic Pizza of the Parousia which, like Jesus, has been coming soon for like the last two millennia.

Monday, September 18, 2006


We arrived here Friday and have spent most of the past few days with Justin's family. His dad was released from the hospital about a week and a half ago, having finally had surgery after contracting meningitis and another infection while he was in the hospital for the fluid leak. Fortunately he's feeling a lot better now, and friendly people have brought or sent food (a LOT of food) and flowers.

Today Justin and I drove around the Finger Lakes area, stopping at Glenora Wine Cellars for lunch and some wine. We're taking home a bottle each of Bobsled Red, which is kind of sweet, and Seyval Blanc.

The weather was splendid, low eighties and fairly clear. We also went to Taughannock Falls, which Justin says is beautiful any time of the year but is especially nice now with the leaves starting to change.

And, of course, with us here and Whitney on this side of the pond, there was the obligatory family picture. This was possibly the most sedate photography session we've ever had.

This is the silly version.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Cats in Brooklyn

There were a bunch of black and white cats wandering around Erik and his neighbors' backyards in Brooklyn. These two were interested in me as long as I couldn't actually reach them. In the background you can see another one.