Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Birthday Buddies. Or not.

CNN’s candidate profiles offer a surprising bit of information.

Hillary Rodham Clinton was born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois.

Dennis Kucinich was born on October 26, 1947 in Chicago, Illinois.

Except that it doesn’t seem to be true. Other sources indicate that Kucinich was born on October 8, 1947 (in Cleveland).

A leading news outlet making an error? I’m stunned.

(I'm also bummed because I was considering the astrological consequences of two presidential candidates having exactly the same birthdate and place. Oh well.)


This I know:

There are not nearly enough orange Tootsie Roll Pops per bag of Tootsie Roll Pops.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursdays are Lonely Without You

Spoiler alert: If you haven't seen the final episode of Mad Men or you haven't seen any of it but plan to watch in rerun, don't read this post!

Last night I had that odd feeling that something was off, the feeling we get when perhaps we've forgotten to brush our teeth or lock the door or turn off the stove.

Or watch Mad Men.

Sadly, there's no Mad Men to watch. At least not until the reruns begin or summer 2008 gets here: the season ended last Thursday.

Wandering around the 'net, I've found a few brouhahas (0r might the plural also be brouhaha?) about Peggy's "surprise" pregnancy.

Surprise? Raise your hand if it hadn't crossed your mind. Uh-huh. That's what I thought.

For some, it wasn't the pregnancy but the fact that Peggy herself didn't seem to recognize she was with child.

TV Guide had a thread running on this; I don't know quite where it is now and don't really feel like looking it up, but for every two people who screamed implausible! Mad Men has already jumped the shark! was at least one who had a story like the two I'm about to tell.

In 1971 I worked with a woman who told me the story of her first pregnancy: she had no idea until she went into labor. She'd always had irregular periods and continued to spot during the pregnancy. She didn't gain much weight and hadn't begun to attribute it to a possible pregnancy. How did she account for all the wiggling in the belly? That I don't remember. She gave birth to a full-term child.

This one I can directly verify. Ten years ago last month my 14-year-old niece gave birth at home. Until the child arrived, her mother (my sister) had almost no idea, nor did anyone else in the family. C looked a little chunky (as did Peggy) but not nine months pregnant and my sister had even asked her once if she was pregnant. The girl denied it. In this case, it apparently wasn't full denial on the pregnant girl's part, but denial regarding dealing with it. C's doctor told my sister that these invisible pregnancies aren't all that uncommon when the pregnant girl/woman has a strong reason to deny that it's happening. The mind is an interesting, interesting thing. C's daughter A was full term and healthy despite no prenatal care, and today is a sassy, active ten year old.

In Peggy's case, she was living in an era when women just didn't know much about their bodies. She'd obtained birth control pills, but we all remember just how helpful her doctor was, don't we? And (going on fuzzy memory) I believe Peggy first slept with Pete within days of obtaining her pills.* (We are all assuming it's Pete's child, yes? If it's not, that would be jumping the shark.) Having been given no real information, Pegs probably thought those pills were magically protecting her, not knowing that they take some time to fully kick in. Recall her insistence that it was impossible.

More evidence that not only is Peggy's denial real but that her unknown-to-her pregnancy is not some impossible event: a nurse rather quickly says she'll call psych, as if this is a common occurrence.

Next summer seems so far off...

*Reading the episode 1 synopsis on the show's website, it appears it was the same day, although there's no mention whatsoever here of Peggy's actual visit to the gynocologist. Odd, since the synopsis is quite detailed otherwise.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In which Bitty gets a guest-starring role at her tied-for-favorite blog

The other day Waveflux (Phil) made some pertinent comments about the relationship between writing and weight-lifting, but as an aside demoted "setting and time" to the B-list of writing elements.

I got all huffy.

And Phil turned it into a blog post.

I wish I could say this was brilliant, but it's kind of like an auto mechanic knowing which wrench to use.

(The other blog with which Waveflux is tied for favorite is Shakesville, but since he's a contributor there, I guess Phil is number one.)

An integral part of the next contract for actors on Lost should be...


The only question is, should the actors demand them or should the producers demand that the actors use them?

Fires, part 3

Marine Son is fighting the fires.

Indian Princess and Baby A remain at home, feeling secure that they're far enough away from the flames. I hope so. My greatest comfort lies in the fact that they live in military housing, and the Marine Corps will evacuate their own if it's necessary.

But Baby A is breathing polluted air through lungs that have only been operational for 34 days.

So Grandma Bitty ordered an air purifier, and after an initial delay in the UPS system, the package is back in transit, due to be delivered on Tuesday.

Get it there on Tuesday, or even sooner -- that's what I want Brown to do for me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tales from the Second Life: Why Opera Is Not My Thing

Today's Question of the Day at Shakesville was custom-made for me. My comment seemed to be blog-post length, so I decided to add it here, too. Three posts in one day. Am I back, do you suppose? Anyway, here's my tragic opera tale.

When I was in high school, I managed to meet one of my fondest high school goals (just about the only time I did): I made the elite chorus. I don't have that fab a voice, but I can sing on key, so there you are. The cornerstone of the chorus, I suppose. I was so excited; our chorus director was beloved by all, etc. The chorus was chosen in the spring. I couldn't wait to return in the fall, when we took our new positions.

However, over the summer the chorus director moved into administration. Administration!!!

We faced a dour, disillusioned soprano when we returned, a woman who clearly had other plans for her life, a woman who never tired of warning us not to make her raise her classically trained voice.

She had a singing partner in her other life. To this day I can't remember if he was Mr. Fish or Mr. Trout. Whichever he was, we students privately called him by the other name.

It happened in a church basement somewhere in Baltimore. Dour Soprano booked our chorus all around the area to do Christmas concerts, and one night she booked The Trout to sing along with us...without telling us. I stood front and center, right next to him. When he launched into his overblown rendition of whatever Christmas carol we had on the program, I. Lost. It.

Bent-over-double-wetting-my-pants-getting-the-hiccups lost it. I couldn't stop couldn't stop couldn't stop. I had the hysterics throughout the song, right there in front of all those little old ladies who were groovin' to "Silent Night" or something like it.

The Trout probably had a very fine voice, but I simply can't hear opera without revisiting the moment of my greatest public shame.

Alanna, I hope we can still be friends.

Postscript: I once voluntarily heard Roberta Peters in concert, so maybe I'm not completely opera-phobic.

Fires, part 2

This satellite photo, found on signonsandiego.com, the San Diego's paper's website, offers a better look (better than what I'd seen before) at where the fires are...and aren't.

Marine Son is now off fighting the fires; another map I found suggests that Alpine has not been involved in the flames (this time).


The CNN map showing the southern CA fires is grim. I'd paste it in, but rather than being a photo, it's an interactive map. In essence, Marine Son, Indian Princess, and newborn A, in Oceanside, are surrounded.

Marine Son says that within hours he'll be on the way to help with the fires in some way. Indian Princess and A are at home. Marine Son says, using his best upbeat voice, that they'll "be fine," which is the way Marine Son speaks to his mother, even in the face of disaster.

According to San Diego Fire Battalion Chief Bruce Cartelli,
It will not end ... until it reaches the ocean or the winds turn around.
I asked Marine Son what, exactly, they were being advised to do. Should all of SoCal go stand in the ocean?

Marine Son says his best friend has a boat and they'll head out in that. I don't know if he's kidding or not. If he (and presumably friend) are fighting the fire, I don't see the two wives and the newborn launching the boat from what will probably be seriously crowded boat ramps.

I've had a pen pal in Alpine (east of San Diego) since 1979. I don't have her phone number (pen pal, remember?) and the last e-mail address she gave me is no longer valid. When I was visiting there in the summer of 2005, she took me around and showed me the charred areas from the last big fire, and told me the rather dramatic story of how a neighbor saved all their homes.

I have to wonder if her lovely home still exists.

Here's the latest from CalFire on Marine Son's fire:

Rice Fire
Rice Canyon
San Diego County
This fire has burned 6,100 acres in Rice Canyon in Northern San Diego County. 500 homes have been destroyed and another 30 have been damaged. 2,500 homes are threatened. The town of Fallbrook has been evacuated. Camp Pendleton and Oceanside are threatened. 170 firefighters are assigned to this fire including 11 CAL FIRE staff.

I hope Glenn Beck is happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In the category of memos that don't apply to me:

"The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced yesterday that the 2008 Social Security wage base will be $102,000, an increase of $4,500 from the 2007 wage base of $97,500."