Miz Shoes

I’m Not Finished

Like father, like son.

"I can understand tempers flaring, but I don't want to contribute to that. I'm not going to participate in the blame game." - President George H.W. Bush responding to criticism of slow federal assistance following Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992.

"The results are not acceptable. We'll get on top of this situation." - President George W. Bush responding to criticism of his administration's assistance following Hurricane Katrina.
And another thing I'd like to see addressed in the press is the ecological impact of all those oil rigs in the Gulf that were tossed around like so many matchsticks.

Of course, anyone who objected to drilling in that body of water was a nut-case, tree-hugging, pinko, patchoulli-wearing looser. (That would be me, yes.)

But now what? Here's a little story from the Associated Press, all four sentences of it.

"NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A huge oil spill was spotted near two storage tanks on the Mississippi River downstream from New Orleans, state officials said Friday.

The oil was seen in a flyover to the Venice area by the Department of Environmental Quality.

"Two tanks with the capacity of holding 2 million barrels appear to be leaking," the department said in a statement.

No further details were given."

Oh, I hate this administration; I hate the ultrarightwingneocons holding his puppet strings; I hate what this country is becoming.

I'm off to have still another drink and see if I can quit grinding my teeth.
Miz Shoes

An Assortment of Things

One of the things I learned at the mall was that, among the great unwashed, the plural form of the computer mouse is "mouses". Where are the mouses? Do you have wireless mouses? Like that. Don't ask me why, because I haven't a clue.
One of the last customers I had was adamant about finding a new Mighty Mouse.

Lame Ass Customer: "Do you have any of the new Mighty Mouses?"

Me: "Well, we have a couple on display that you can play with, but I'm afraid that we're out of stock."

LAC: "You don't have any?"

Me: "Uh, no... we are out of stock."

LAC: "I was here yesterday and you didn't have any. They told me that you were getting more in today."

Me: "Be that as it may, we are out of stock."

LAC: "I know what that means.* When do you expect another shipment?"

Me: "Well, every time a box comes in the back we all crowd around to see if there are any inside."

LAC: "Look, did you get any more today or not?"

Me (giving up): "Yes. We did. But we sold them all. We are out of stock."

* Thinking to self, if you DID know what that meant, this conversation would have been over two questions ago.

On a related note, when I was on the train yesterday, the guy in front of me had the telltale white cord of an i-pod trailing out of his ear. I poked him in the shoulder, held up the plug of my own headphones, reached over, unplugged his headset and swapped his for mine. Then I plugged him into my i-pod. We listened to each other's music for about ten seconds, showed each other our screens, and then swapped back. It was very cool. He was a khaki-clad, serious glasses-wearing sort of guy, and he was listening to Sting. I was dressed in a sensible work dress, in olive drab, and wearing scary-pointed toed shoes. I was listening to Tom Petty. I'm going to have to do that (swap i-pod jacks) more often with even more random folks.

Finally, here's a scary, scary photo for you.


Little Steven, baby, what happened to your neck? Please tell me that all that weight is for your role on the Sopranos. Eek.

The only good thing about this photo is that it accompanied a story that said that a judge in New York stayed the eviction of CBGB's saying that the landlord was just as culpable in not noticing for four years that the club was underpaying its rent as the club was for not noticing that the rent had increased. She even went on about what a landmark and historical site CBGB's is, which leads me to believe that she might have been walking around in the late seventies with purple hair, too, just like me.
Miz Shoes

Our House

The day the RLA and I viewed this house, it was raining. The glass barn doors to the pool deck were open, and the house, with its dark Dade County Pine ceiling, was as cozy as a summer camp cabin. The rain misted through the screen over the pool deck, and it was almost like it was raining inside the house.

We were thoroughly charmed, and didn't see the other things like the do-it-yourself projects that had been done poorly. We bought the house.
To this day, thirteen years later, I love this little place in the rain. I woke up this morning at six, planning on driving up to Jupiter to meet with my brother and the estate lawyer. That plan soon ended when I discovered we were in the outer squall bands from Tropical Storm Arlene.

We did a conference call instead, and I was ensconced on the sofa, coffe mug in hand, cozy little house around me.

Good thing, too, because my brother is a greedy, grabby idiot and had I not been in the zen womb of my snug little cabin, I probably would have been leaning over the lawyer's desk slapping the cowboy hat off my brother's head.

Here's the deal. I want to buy his half of the family home, so that I can live in it. He wants to sell it to me, but either wait until Mummy dies and have the house appraised then, betting on the real estate bubble still inflating, or do it now, cash in his hand and the fact that I'm only semi-employed be damned. Or, he says, if I can't scrape the bucks together, maybe we should (read "You, little sister, should") empty the house and rent it out. We could put that money aside and when Mummy dies and I'm ready to leave Miami (where I brought her to live because he couldn't be counted on to take care of her) then I can let him have all the rent as part of the payment I make to him for the house.

Heaves a sigh. Contemplates the coziness of my little house. Sips coffee. Pets dog. Waits for blood pressure to lower.

He has a wife, you know.
Miz Shoes

Conspicuous Consumption

Working in a mall store has caused the scales to be removed from my eyes. The state of civilization in America has deteriorated to degrees I never imagined in my safe little ivory tower of public, not-for-profit service.
Item the first:

The posture of American youth is appalling. I have never been exposed to such slouching and round shoulders, ever. I spend my days wanting to shout "Stand up straight!" at ten minute intervals. These teen-aged girls have dowager's humps and they have barely hit puberty. They hold their necks extended, leading with their chins, and their shoulders curve around as if to meet in the center of their clavicles. It's just not healthy, but then

Item the second:

Neither is their weight. And let me tell you, I can see every ounce of extra fat rolling over their low-slung jeans, extruding out from under their cropped tops, and oozing out of their decolletage. In my day (which is to say, the sixties) not a one of those girls would ever have gotten laid, or even let out of the house with so much fat showing. And, as in primitive societies where fat is counted as a display of wealth, so it seems to me in America. These girls are blissfully unaware that a pouchy stomach, or a pair of love handles are not attractive. They parade this avoirdupois with pride. Or at least as much pride as their slumped shoulders and pigeon necks can portray.

Item the third:

Money is no object in appeasing our children. I sell, among other things, the best toy in the world: i-pods. I say they are toys because the majority of purchasers are mothers of young, nay, very young, children, and they are not buying them for their own use. They are buying $200 electronic devices for their eight-year-olds. I suggest to them that a shuffle, with no moving parts, half the cost and a storage capacity of 120 songs might be sufficient for the little darlings, but no. These mothers and grandmothers want the real deal. Just a question, but wouldn't you be better off spending that money on, say, summer camp, where the children would be out of doors, learning to oh, ride horses, or play soccer, or any other activity requiring physical movement and interaction with other children?

And why does every little monster who comes in have a cell phone clutched in their sticky little mitt? What about personal supervision in person? Not that that seems to matter because we have

Item the fourth:

A small boy, with his mother at the local grocery store. He is wearing a full Darth Vader helmet. It contains electronics to make his voice sound like the filtered basso profundo of James Earl Jones. Not to dwell on the price of such an object, or the appropriateness of letting your child wear such a thing in public, um.... if you are going to encourage your child's imagination in emulating a movie character, shouldn't you be guiding him (or her) towards the HERO? and not the slayer of innocents? Darth Vader, in case you've been living under a rock for the past thirty years, is the Bad Guy. The Very Bad Guy. Just because he repents in the third act, and kills the Emperor, he's still had a long run of being the most evil creation in the whole Star Wars saga. So, here's the question: Why would you want your six-year-old to pretend to be him? And not just pretend with a stick and a pillow case, but with very expensive, electronic toys that you had to purchase to enable him?


We are a nation of instantly gratified swine. We don't teach our young manners, clothing sense, correct posture, or the value of money. Our youth are indolent, arrogant and spoiled. And then we wonder why.
Miz Shoes


This is a touchy entry. After all, we here at Girlyshoes try so very hard to be politically correct at all times, and the epithet JAP (referring to Jewish American Princesses) is so not PC.

On the other hand, being Jewish, and as the youngest grandchild on either side of my family and a little girl to boot, a certifiable princess in my own right, I feel that I can take liberties where others may not.
Having said that, let me also say that I am so not a JAP. Never have been. I cook, clean, enjoy relations with my husband and do not require massive amounts of jewelry in order to do so. I have always worked outside the home, and not as a charity volunteer, although I also do charity work. I do not shop as a competitive sport and I do not have a standing appointment for acrylic nails. I have never had plastic surgery, nor do I intend to. So there. Furthermore, my nose is my own, original model, as is my hair color.

Now that we have the ground rules, if you will, let me say that I have spent the last three days in the company of JAPS, and the last two weeks trying to pry information and money out of another set of same, and I can honestly say that I'd rather poke myself in the eye with the charred end of a sharp stick than do either ever again.

The three days at the bead expo were wonderful learning and shopping days, except for the time spent with a woman who can best be described as a Dowager Princess. She was needy, demanding, a know-it-all, requiring constant attention from either her co-students or teacher, engaged in extended one-up-manship and bragging and made me want to convert to Episcopalian, just so I could sigh and say "Not our kind, dear." She was dreadful. Her daughter was somewhat better behaved, but utterly clueless as to polite conversation.

In response to my question "You did recieve the thank you note I sent after my father died?" she said (and I fucking quote) "Yes. And it was such a sob story that I felt even worse after I read it."

Yeah. My life last year was pretty much a sob story, and if you think reading about it sucked, try living it, beyatch.

The Dowager and I actually shared a work table in our class on day three, and I was tempted to shove her Ott lamp down her throat. The first few hours she complained non-stop about the teacher's instructions to use double thread. The teacher kept saying that if you found it hard to work, use the thread and strand count you preferred. It was more entertaining for the DP to bitch, and so she did. I finally said to her, why don't you stop complaining and change threads? So she did, and the next three hours were spent gloating over how utterly fabulous her work was, and talking about how much better it was to work with her choice of material rather than the instructor's.

The second interaction with a company of JAPS involved my latest tallit commission. The little princess apparently did not like one piece of fabric that I used and it so upset her that her bat mitzvah was nearly ruined. She had to have a dress maker install a piece of fabric over the offending two and one half inch wide stripe, before she could go on. The matching tallit bag was salvagable only by turning it inside out, which she was able to do because I made it with no seams showing.

Not that she or her mother have had the courtesty, despite e-mails from me, to tell me any of this. I have it third hand, from a cousin who happens to be friends with the mother. I also have not been paid.

I am expected, I have been led to understand, to remedy this atrocity for them. It seems that't the princess doesn't like purple at all, and the fabric stripe in question was a strip of magenta silk brocade, the brocade pattern being leopard spots. She felt that the color was more correctly defined as purple, and she hated it. The leopard was more than she could bear, and she just broke down in tears and rage. Or so I've heard, third hand, as I said.

Check out the offending fabric

And here it is in place, so you can see the proportions

I'd also like to point out that the only direction I was given in making this, was that the girl was a princess, and as such needed some sparkle and glamor.

OK, fine, so their idea of sparkle and glamor and my own don't match. Is that any reason to stiff me on my fee, or to not contact me with complaints and concerns?

I didn't think so. Bite me. I'm off to work.
I was in training for the past two whole days, and as a result, exhausted. The RLA took me out to dinner last night as a reward. Our first choice was an excellent little family-owned Middle Eastern restaurant. I was looking forward to the tardig. We sat down in the pleasantly uncrowded dining room and started to review the menu.

And then it started. (Warning: do not read further if you have a weak stomach.)
There was this noise. It was coming from the table to my left, and directly across from the RLA. It sounded like... I don't know what. It was definitely WET. Slurpy. At first, I thought maybe the man behind me was blowing his nose. But the sound went on and on and on and on. Much longer than possible for a nose blow. And it was so WET, so bubbling, so liquid and viscous at the same time. And I couldn't tell if it was a noise from going in or going out.

It sounded a little like someone was eating oysters on the half shell. Very liquid oysters. Not on the half shell so much as maybe on a saucer full of brine, and they were trying to slurp up all the brine, while holding the oyster at bay with their tongue. Wet. Slurpy. Bubbly, yet slimy.

Then the noise stopped, and I looked around to see what was on that table, but I couldn't quite make out anything out of the ordinary. I went back to my menu.


What. The. Fuck. I turned around again, and the man at the table seemed to be moving his head back and forth like he was.... sucking something off a plate? But I couldn't see a plate. I finally asked the RLA, who was facing him.... What in G-d's name is he eating? What the hell makes that kind of disgusting noise?

The RLA turned a lovely shade of gray-green, and said:

"That's his nose. He's blowing his nose."

Except blowing isn't the right word. Having very, very extended, very, very wet, slurping sort of burbling exhale like you might hear in a movie if the alien had gotten it through the lungs but wasn't quite dead yet and was coming after the hero at a gallop is a better description, but still misses the unholy horror of that noise.

The RLA and I looked at each other and bolted. I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat there again.

We went to a new Cuban restaurant over on Dixie Highway, and I marched off to the loo to wash my hands. When I came back, I almost fainted, because, sitting at the next table was a man almost identical in appearance to the disgusting noise man. I looked at the RLA and he just shook his head. Nope. Not the same guy, just a little too much synchronicity and coincidence in the universe.

The pan con lechon was delicious.
Miz Shoes

About Hats

This has to stop, people. I mean it. Don't make me come out there and snatch those gawdawful trucker hats off of each and every one of your heads and beat you about the head and shoulders with it.

Once and for all: If you have all of your teeth, and none of them are brown or green, if you and your family are not the punchline in a Jeff Foxworthy joke, then you should NOT WEAR THE TRUCKER HAT.
Furthermore, if it has a brim, the brim should be worn over the brow, thereby shielding the eyes from sun and glare. See any photo of Humphrey Bogart, Ernest Hemingway, or even Jimmy Buffett.

Wearing them backwards, while appalling, is still more acceptable than wearing them askew. Askew is not a viable fashion statement. Are we clear on this? NOT. A. FASHION. STATEMENT. Ever. Even if you are nominally a celebrity.


Maybe I need to repeat that.


It doesn't look cool. It only looks stupid.

And this trend?


Of wearing trucker hats not only askew, but too small? Are you people trying to make my brain explode, or force me to poke myself in the eyes with the sharp end of a charred stick?

It isn't even acceptable on a cartoon character. In real life? It is just wrong.
Miz Shoes

He Has A Wife, You Know

The first time I heard the "Biggus Dickus" routine from Monty Python's Life of Brian, I was driving down Canal Street at about three in the morning, and I started laughing so hard that I had to pull over until the clip ended.
At the end of the routine, after the poor centurion has chewed his own lips off to prevent laughing in Caesar's face, Michael Palin says, with perfect comic timing, "He has a wife, you know.... her name is ... Incontinentia..... Incontinentia Buttocks." And the centurion looses it, and laughs and Brian escapes in the ensuing havoc.

I bring this up because my brother has a wife, too. I don't talk about my brother on this blog because I just don't expose that much of my real life here, no matter what you may think. You can interpret from these sentences whatever you choose. I will mention, however, that she is not funny, at least funny hahaha.


A couple of weeks ago on "Deadwood" one of the characters said "Fuck the future." and the response was "You can't fuck the future, the future fucks you."

I think that needs to be my new motto, embroidered on hand towels for company, and cross-stitched into a nice little sampler for the walls.


Well, I only came to say I must be going. And so, off I go to the studio and the sewing machine and the silk that calls out to be made into something of magic.
Miz Shoes

Bread and Circuses

The Rude Pundit has all there is to say about the horrible spectacle that has just (I hope and pray) ended. I suspect we'll keep hearing more and more in days to come, but I hope against hope that it's over.

Now that the media circus is shutting down outside the hospice, I hope we can get a little focus on some other stories I've seen buried in the back pages of my local rag.
Item 1: It is important to remember, in the coming days, as the right wing will start to demonize the judge who wrote this, that Judge Stanley F. Birch Jr. is generally conservative, and was appointed by President George H. W. Bush. The Shrub's very own daddy, and no milquetoast liberal his own self.

"In resolving the Schiavo controversy, it is my judgement that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the Legislative and Executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers' blueprint for the governance of a free people -- our constitution.

"I conclude that Pub.L.109-3[Congress' March 21 law] is unconstitutional and, therefore, this court and the district court are without jurisdiction in this case.

"Because these provisions constitute legislative dictation of how a federal court should exercise its judicial functions, the act invades the province of the judiciary and violates the separation of powers principle.

"When the fervor of political passions moves the Executive and Legislative branches to act in ways inimical to basic constitutional principles, it is the duty of the judiciary to intervene. If sacrifices to the independence of the judiciary are permitted today, precedent is established for the constitutional transgressions of tomorrow. Accordingly, we ust conscientiously guard the independence of our judiciary and safeguard the Constitution, even in the face of the unfathomable human tragedy that has befallen Mrs. Schiavo and her family and the recent events related to her plight which have troubled the consciences of many."

Got it? Separation of powers. Violating the principles of the Constitution.

Item 2. This was published in yesterday's New York Times. It is an op-ed piece written by a Republican.

In the Name of Politics
By JOHN C. DANFORTH, Published: March 30, 2005

St. Louis — BY a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.

Standing alone, each of these initiatives has its advocates, within the Republican Party and beyond. But the distinct elements do not stand alone. Rather they are parts of a larger package, an agenda of positions common to conservative Christians and the dominant wing of the Republican Party.

Christian activists, eager to take credit for recent electoral successes, would not be likely to concede that Republican adoption of their political agenda is merely the natural convergence of conservative religious and political values. Correctly, they would see a causal relationship between the activism of the churches and the responsiveness of Republican politicians. In turn, pragmatic Republicans would agree that motivating Christian conservatives has contributed to their successes.

High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.

In my state, Missouri, Republicans in the General Assembly have advanced legislation to criminalize even stem cell research in which the cells are artificially produced in petri dishes and will never be transplanted into the human uterus. They argue that such cells are human life that must be protected, by threat of criminal prosecution, from promising research on diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and juvenile diabetes.

It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.

I do not fault religious people for political action. Since Moses confronted the pharaoh, faithful people have heard God's call to political involvement. Nor has political action been unique to conservative Christians. Religious liberals have been politically active in support of gay rights and against nuclear weapons and the death penalty. In America, everyone has the right to try to influence political issues, regardless of his religious motivations.

The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.

When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.

Take stem cell research. Criminalizing the work of scientists doing such research would give strong support to one religious doctrine, and it would punish people who believe it is their religious duty to use science to heal the sick.

During the 18 years I served in the Senate, Republicans often disagreed with each other. But there was much that held us together. We believed in limited government, in keeping light the burden of taxation and regulation. We encouraged the private sector, so that a free economy might thrive. We believed that judges should interpret the law, not legislate. We were internationalists who supported an engaged foreign policy, a strong national defense and free trade. These were principles shared by virtually all Republicans.

But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.

The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.

John C. Danforth, a former United States senator from Missouri, resigned in January as United States ambassador to the United Nations. He is an Episcopal minister.

Item 3. Privatizing the Border Patrol. This story makes me think of Kevin Costner's agonizingly bad "The Postman", because I think that it could be the genesis of that film's army. You know, the cavalry led by the lunatic former copier salesman.


TOMBSTONE, Ariz. (AP) - Hundreds of volunteers, some of them armed, are expected to take up positions along the Mexican border Friday and begin patrolling for illegal immigrants - an exercise some fear could attract racist crackpots and lead to vigilante violence.

Organizers of the Minuteman Project said the civilian volunteers, many of whom were recruited over the Internet, will meet first for a rally in this one-time silver mining town, then fan out across 23 miles of the San Pedro Valley to watch the border for a month and report sightings of illegal activity to Border Patrol agents.

Minuteman field operations director Chris Simcox described the project as "the nation's largest neighborhood watch group" and said one of the goals is to make the public aware of how porous the border is.

Jim Gilchrist, a retired accountant from Aliso Viejo, Calif., who organized the project, said that some volunteers will carry handguns, which is allowed under Arizona law, but are being instructed to avoid confrontation, even if shot at.

Still, law enforcement officials and human rights advocates are worried about the potential for bloodshed.

Critics contend the project may attract anti-immigrant racists and vigilantes looking to confront illegal immigrants. At least one white supremacist group has mentioned the project on its Web site.

"They are domestic terrorists that represent a danger to the country and could promote a major border conflict that will have serious ramifications and consequences," said Armando Navarro, a University of California-Riverside political science professor and coordinator of the National Alliance for Human Rights, made up mostly of Hispanic activists.

Michael Nicley, chief of the U.S. Border Patrol's Tucson sector, said the volunteers are "not the kind of help the Border Patrol is asking for."

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever said he fears immigrant smugglers might open fire on the volunteers.

"I wouldn't anticipate that people of that persuasion would act or react any differently to anybody, citizen or law enforcement alike, if they were confronted and felt like their cargo was in jeopardy," he said.

The project's organizers gave assurances the volunteers will be closely monitored. "If it gets to a situation where someone's life is in danger," said David Helppler, Minuteman security coordinator, "I will end the project."

Project organizers said they expect 800 to 1,000 volunteers. How many might actually show is unclear; similar efforts in the past few years flopped. One of them drew only about a half-dozen people.

On Wednesday, the Homeland Security Department announced that it is assigning 534 additional agents to the porous Arizona border to help keep out potential terrorists and illegal immigrants.

The 370-mile Arizona border is considered the most vulnerable stretch of the 2,000-mile southern border. Of the 1.1 million illegal immigrants caught by the Border Patrol last year, 51 percent crossed into the country at the Arizona border.

Some people in this town nearly 30 miles north of the Mexican border, best known as the site of the 1881 shootout at the OK Corral, are eagerly awaiting the volunteers' arrival.

Tombstone Mayor Andree De Journett thinks of the volunteers as tourists and said they could boost the local economy.

"I've met five or six of them, they haven't been too bad so far," he said, estimating that 500 extra visitors staying for a month could spend $10,000 or more locally per day.

Marilynn Slade, Tombstone's city clerk, said the more attention drawn to illegal immigration, the better.

"The vast majority of the people feel that the feds should be dealing more aggressively with the problem," she said. "There's a huge, huge cry down here."

Item 4: The Draft is Coming, The Draft is Coming. This from Cox News Service.

The United State' all-volunteer military will reach its "breaking point" in Iraq by mid-2006, two experts said, but U.S. and Army officials have rejected plans for a draft

By Bob Dart

Washington - If American forces aren't pulling out of Iraq in a year, a draft will be needed to meet manpower requirements, military analysts warned Wednesday.

With recruitment lagging and no end in sight for U.S. forces in Iraq, the "breaking point" for the nation's all volunteer military will be mid-2006, said Lawrence Korb, a draft opponent and assistant defense secretary in the Reagan administration, and Phillip Carter, a former Army captain and an advocate of conscription.

"America's all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world," Carter concluded in the March issue of Washington Monthly.

Korb is a seniour fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and a senior advisor to the Center for Defense Information. Carter is an attorney who writes on military affairs for Slate.com and other media. They debated at a symposium on the draft Wednesday.

While conceding that the Army, Marines, National Guard and Army Reseve -- the branches serving most in Iraq -- face recruitment difficulties, military officials have denied any ploans to revive the draft, which was replaced by an all-volunteer force in 1973.

"The 'D-word' is the farthest thing from my thoughts," Army Secretary Francis Harvey said at a Pentagon press briefing last week. He said the all-volunteer force has proved its value and applauded the performance of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When you get over there, there's no difference between the active, the Reserves and the National Guard. The quality is high across the board... It's seamless," he said.

During his reelection campaign, President BUsh declared flatly that he would not reinstate the draft. And there is little support for conscription on Capitol Hill.

"Today, no leading politician in either party will come anywhere near the idea -- the draft having replaced Social Security as the third rail of American politics," Carter wrote.

However, the analysts said that the all-volunteer army is on the verge of "breaking" under current circumstances. The 3rd Infantry Division based in Fort Stewart, Ga., and the 4th Infantry Division based in Fort Hood, Texas, are among the units that are being sent back for a second tour in Iraq.

The National Guard and Reserves historically depend on men and women leaving active duty to fill their ranks, Carter pointed out. But they're not going to join if it means they will be sent right back to Iraq in an activated unit, he said. Military men, women and machines are all suffering from repeated deployments.

Korb, assistant secretary of defense for manpower from 1981 through 1985, said the current rotation is unfair to the "patriotic" men and women who voklunteered for military service and are stuck in a cycle in and out of Iraq. SInce only a tiny segment of the populace is sacrificing, there is no poitical pressure to change the system, he said.

"If you had a draft right now, I think you'd be out of Iraq," Korb said.

The American society "hasn't gotten the message that we're at war," agreed Carter.

"Those at peril are completely divorced from those in power," said moderator Mark Shields, a syndicated columnist and TV commentator.

--- And here I (Miz Shoes) would like to point out that if the Bush administration hadn't made it illegal to show our own war dead, if this war was on TV like Viet Nam was, if President Bush even once went to a single military funeral, then maybe the American public would know that we are at war. A real, horrible, killing war.
Miz Shoes

Terri and the Pirates

Yesterday the Herald featured yet another story about Terri Schiavo and her disfunctional family. Who knew that she had so many sisters and brothers? But there they are, fomenting civil disobedience and giving us such questionable quotes as this:

"If she is in fact dying so peacefully and easily, why not allow a camera in there to videotape it? This is heinous, what's happening, absolutely heinous. This is absolutely barbaric."
And you know what? I agree with him, except I would apply that statement TO him.

Who the fuck would want to allow cameras to film someone you love dying?

Let me tell you people, I was with my father when he drew his last breath. He was not alone. He was surrounded by family. We loved him. It was as peaceful a death as one could have under the circumstances. There is no way in hell or on earth that I or any of my family would have wanted it taped. It was not fucking beautiful. It was heart-wrenching. And private. Private. Maybe the Schindlers should go look that word up in a dictionary and take themselves out of the spotlight and grieve in private.

Then we have the assertion by her parents that she tried to say "I want to live." What she actually "said" (maybe) was "AHHHHH WAHHHHH".

I want to live. I want to die. Water....

AHHHH WAHHHH. Or maybe it was just ahhhwahh, the only verbalization a person who's merely got pinkish jello where their brain used to be can make.

Let me translate: I want you all to go away and leave me in peace.
Miz Shoes

Where Did You Learn To Drive?

That's what I was shrieking out of my car window as the woman in the gold SoccerMom van put it in reverse and started backing down the spiral up ramp at Dadeland Station Mall.

No. Really. In. Reverse. On an UP-RAMP. With me driving a stick right behind her. And a really big Mercedes behind me.
REVERSE!!!! On an UP-RAMP!!!

Are you insane or just stupid? I don't know the answer, because, although I was screeching that and more out of my open windows, she had hers closed and was totally oblivious.

She got off the ramp on the same floor I did, but whereas I parked, she merely circled the (empty) level and then went back on the ramp and went up another leve. Which was a pity, because I was ready to go nose to nose with her and demand the answers to my questions.

1. What the fuck is wrong with you?
2. Where did you learn to drive?
3. Are you insane or just stupid?
4. Were you on a cell phone, too?

This is the same mall and the same ramp where just two weeks ago I saw a woman stop. STOP. Like, park. On the up-ramp and change her baby's diaper in the back seat.

Oh, yeah. What is there to add to that?
My GirlCousin and Star have, independent of each other, decided that I should do this.
That is the Martha Stewart Apprentice, of course.

And I gave it serious consideration for about fifteen minutes. Then it struck me: "What if I win the audition, and have to actually play the game?"

Granted, my twelve years at the hospital have given me super powers in the areas of toxic work environment, backstabbing and evil axis building, and granted, those could come in handy in a "reality" TV competition, but the bottom line is, I'd have to be on TV.

Eww. And ewwwwww. And maybe a retch or two. I don't want to be on TV. Ever. And certainly not in a situation where the editors have plenty of footage to cut together to make me look like an even bigger bitch than I can accomplish on my own. And let me tell you, I do just fine with that, thanks.

Reality TV series all have archetypes: The Bitch, The Bimbo, The Backstabber, The Nice One, The Smart One Who Loses The Game Despite or Because Of Being Smart. I have enough problems with my personality as it is, I do not need editing to accentuate the negatives.

I often say that I am like asparagus; people loathe me or love me and there is no room for indifference. Great. I should go on TV and try that phenomenon out with a few million people all at once.

Um, no.

Or worse, I could get on the show and actually last for more than a week. I could get into the show. I could want to win, and my naturally competitive nature could be unleashed. Bad idea. Bad idea for me, bad idea for anyone in my path, probably great TV. Ick.

So, despite urging from family and friends, and despite the fact that the whole concept of trying to be Martha's avatar appeals to some really dark part of my soul, (Oh, come on, be honest with yourself. Wouldn't you want to go out and abuse the gardeners? Stand around and complain that the exact shade of lilac you wanted the living room to be painted is not the one that is now on the walls, and they have fifteen minutes before air time to fix it...) I think that I shall have to pass on this chance for fame and fortune.
The RLA did a street show this past weekend. It wasn't on a street, though, it was in a garden. Specifically, Pinecrest Gardens, or, as it was formerly known, Parrot Jungle. The parrots are gone, as are the flamingos and cockatiels, but the giant feral iguanas are thriving. It is mating season for iguanas, because they were turning bright orange. Nothing like a six-foot long bright orange lizard to make your day. No, I do not have photos. Please.
The RLA sold three pieces of work, to R&MJ, which we could have done without the additional cost of a booth fee. The hottest seller at this show was Cuban art. Each artist was more Cubanisimo than the next. We were between a woman who painted very vividly colored canvases of Cuban coffee makers and conga drums, and a man who painted Cuban markets and cigar-rollers' houses.

Mostly they weren't selling their original paintings, though, they were selling prints of their paintings. Not just any prints, mind you, they were selling Giclees. I kept hearing the patter, as one or the other explained to their buyers that Giclees are like modern lithographs, or serigraphs.

For the sake of clarity, I'd like to give you dictionary definitions of those three terms.

Serigraph: Silk-screening, which is also referred to as serigraphy or screen printing, is a centuries-old process that originated in China, It is, in essence, a refined version of a hand stenciled process. The image is divided, as it were, by a color, with a screen corresponding to each shade of ink that will appear on the final surface-paper, canvas, fabric, etc. The ink is applied to a screen, transferring to the paper only through the porous segments. A separate screen must be created for each color. On average, it takes between 80 to 100 screens to create a serigraph. The elements are hand-drawn onto mylar and photographically exposed onto each screen. Inks are matched to the hues of the original and custom mixed. Each edition takes approximately eight weeks to complete: four to five people handle the several stages of the process, and 80 to 90 percent of the production time is devoted to making color separations and the screens.

Lithograph: The process of printing from a small stone or metal plate on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank area is ink repellent. The artist, or other print maker under the artist's supervision, then covers the plate with a sheet of paper and runs both through a press under light pressure. The resultant "original print" is of considerably greater intrinsic worth than the commercially reproduced poster which is mechanically printed on an offset press. Color Lithography or Chromolithography is the process of using several stones or plates (usually one for each color). The result is a color lithograph, which differs from a print which is hand-colored after printing.

Giclee: A computerized reproduction technique in which prints are created using a very high quality inkjet printer. The word Giclee itself is French, and means spurt or squirt, however the spray is more like a mist, each droplet being the size of a red blood cell. The inks come in various grades of water-based dyes. It is very important to use UV glass with these prints, because being printed with dyes, which historically are not very colorfast, they can fade quickly.

Do you see the difference? Lithography and Serigraphy are both hands-on, labor-intensive techniques requiring time and skill. Giclees are INK JET PRINTS people. INK JET PRINTS!! Like, from that $99 Epson printer on your desk. And most of these guys don't even use archival inks or paper, which means that that reproduction you just shelled out $250 for is going to degrade and fade.

Unlike, say, the $90 original, hand-drawn, ink on paper that the RLA did and had framed in a museum-quality frame which you did NOT buy.

I started getting a little snippy about it by the afternoon of day two, telling prospective buyers that everything in the booth was an original, never reproduced, no Giclees, and once it was bought, it was the only one of its kind, period.

Nobody got it.

There was one guy who came in to the booth, and just raved about the RLA's work. He spent a lot of time looking. Then he went next door and bought a painting of a conga and another of a cup of Cuban coffee.
Miz Shoes

Another Observation

I go to the gym several times a week, to work out with the Marquis de Steve AKA Nic Cage, my trainer. The gym has a very small area for parking, and so people end up around the corner, down the street, whatever.

But some people are too good for all that, and so the gym has a valet. A valet, people. For the gym. Where you go to work out. So, like, doesn't that mean that you could hike your skanky ass a block or two to get into the gym to work up a sweat?

Am I missing something here?
Something else that I don't get is how women with no body fat anywhere else, can think it looks natural or even remotely attractive to have two huge canteloupe halves on their chests. You can't have tits without ass. Not naturally, at any rate.

For more information about that and why you should have a hand lift if you are going to have that many face lifts, go to one of my favorite guilty pleasures: Awful Plastic Surgery.
Miz Shoes

I Got Your Complaints…

My Sony handheld blew its backlight, so I sent it to Sony to be repaired. The system worked wonderfully: I made the repair request on-line, they e-mailed instructions for sending it back, the UPS store knew what to do, the shipping tracking worked flawlessly, and I was sent updates on when to expect the delivery of the repaired product.

Except, the final update said that the handheld had been delivered to my front door at 6:23pm the prior evening. Which it had not been. I should know, I'd been home.
So I called UPS to ask where, exactly, did their driver think he left my Clie? They couldn't tell me, but told me to stay in touch with Sony for further updates. Now, it wasn't in Sony's hands anymore was it? Why is UPS' fuck up Sony's problem? Not to mention my own problem, since I'm the one missing a handheld.

I told the RLA about it, and he wandered off to walk the dogs. Came back with two dogs and my UPS package. The driver had left it on the front door step of the house next door. The driver had also written the address of the house next door on the box.

I haven't bothered to tell either UPS or Sony that I found my own missing package, because I feel like someone else should have the pleasure of figuring out that the UPS driver is an incompetent idiot.

This guy has thrown packages marked "Fragile" over my fence, pitching them a good six feet into the yard. Then I've filed claims for the broken goods. This guy delivered a clearly labeled package to a house that looks, for the most part, abandoned.*

Today, the RLA and I were out buying frames for his upcoming show. We tried to shop at Pearls, but the clerks were rude, the gumball machine ate my quarter, and the service desk employee refused to make eye contact with me. So we put the pile of merchandise we were going to buy on the nearest horizontal surface and left.

Not making eye contact is a huge annoyance to me. I don't care if you are busy, and I'm going to have to wait for twenty minutes until you can take care of my question: acknowledge that I exist, and tell me how long the wait will be. I can deal with that.

The pharmacist at the local CVS turned his back on me, and refused to talk to me, even though doing so would have solved the mystery of my mother's medications. I had nothing better to do, so I refused to leave the desk until he waited on me. It was a stand-off that lasted two hours. Really. Two fucking hours. He even helped some Pinecrest Princeling who wanted advice on what over-the-counter anti-itching cream he could use for his cat.

When I finally got my mother's meds, I stalked off to find the manager, and told her, in no uncertain terms that this was the first, last and only time I would ever be doing business with her establishment. I also said that I didn't know if the pharmacist was a dick to everyone, or I was just special, but that his attitude was not conducive to her bottom line, thankyewverymuch.

Finally, I'd like to say this about the job market today: what ever happened to a note that says thank you for your interest, interviews will be scheduled blah blah blah, or thank you for your interest, but not a snowball's chance in hell... Or even a phone call. An e-mail that says your application has been received, the process will take
yaddayaddayadda amount of time.

None of the above. I could be sending resumes into thin air, for all I know. Really. America is becoming a service industry country and we have all the service skills of roadkill.

I'm done complaining. For now.

*OK, so I'm being judgemental about the neighbor's lack of yard care and piles of construction rubbish where his front lawn should be. So sue me, I live in the fucking 'burbs, OK? Lawn care is a big issue around here.

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