Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 66)

Many of you have asked me to get a video of Em feeding Murray. You see, usually Em feeds Murray on the fly, without my noticing. Both parties make out under this arrangement: Em gets to appear as though he’s eaten everything on his plate, and Murray gets fatter and fatter and fatter. Last week, I decided to sit there with the video camera and let them do their thing. This is what ensued:


My son will either end up with an immune system like that of an android, (which is to say impenetrable where germs are concerned) or he’ll be allergic to everything and air within the year.

And now for the caveats!

1). When you see me nudge the highchair closer to the piece of waffle, it wasn’t so that Em could then eat it. I assumed he would feed it to Murray again. I feel I must explain myself because I get the feeling I may get nasty email for this one.

2). We have lost almost all control of our animals. I have no clue how to keep them off the kitchen table, counters, shelves. We’re hoping that once we finally settle down, we’ll be able to shut them out of our eating quarters entirely. In the meantime, if you happen to know of an experienced cat whisperer, let me know.

3). I know I state otherwise, but I actually don’t think this is at all gross. But this is coming from someone who was given milk straight from a cow teat when she was a little girl by none other than her father. I was raised in dirt, around animals, fish and chum, poop and even mildew. Nothing earthen was off limits for my brothers and me. That said, I did edit the part out at the end of the video where I mutter, “I’m going to go to jail for this, aren’t I?”

The Internet makes me nervous, I suppose, makes me second guess myself.

Voting As A Primary Caregiver.

Here in New York we weren’t allowed to hit the polls early. I’m anticipating long lines tomorrow. I’m wondering how other stay-at-home-moms are doing it (or have done it). Do you have a story to tell? Ideas? Suggestions? I have to bring Em with me. And while I’m hoping he behaves himself as long as we’re in line, I can’t promise anything.

Perhaps Election Day should become a national holiday, so that whomever goes to work for a living can stay home while the primary caregiver gets out to vote. While employers face charges if they don’t give their employees time off to vote, babies don’t have to follow the law.

If they can’t give the nation the day off, maybe they should have a “Fast Track” option for those of us with toddlers who really don’t enjoy being confined to a stroller for very long. Not that I’m looking for special treatment or anything. ;]

Edited to add: Early voting could go nationwide. Maybe in four years, this won’t be an issue for SAHMs and Dads after all.

Teen Pregnancy Linked To Sexy TV Shows?

RAND Research has linked teen pregnancy to watching a lot of television. The study shows that the more sex (on TV) a teenager watches, the more likely it is for that teenager to get pregnant or impregnate.

That makes sense, right?

Here’s my problem with it. Could it be that the kids who are watching more television are getting pregnant because he or she spends less time with communicating with his or her parents? Could it be that parents who are more likely to plop their kid in front of the TV are less likely to communicate regularly with their children?

I always feel slightly irritated by how studies such as this one get reported (I haven’t read the study firsthand) because I think the report becomes an obstacle at getting to the heart of what the real problem may be.

Is it in fact true that children that watch racy TV shows are more likely to have sex, or could it be that children who watch a lot of TV are less likely to spend that time communicating with his or her family?

If the goal is to lessen the number of teen pregnancies in America, I think figuring out why it’s happening should become our top priority. And quite frankly, I’m not convinced that the problem has to do with what they’re watching and instead has to do with why.

But my opinion still isn’t quite ripe. I’m open to debate.

VIOLENCE AND TV (A late addition to this post.)

I’m about to admit to something that probably seems contradictory to the top half of this post and state that I do believe that watching violent TV shows (and playing violent video games) can lead to violent behavior. Perhaps I’m naive where sex is concerned? I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I do not believe that humans are inherently violent—that violence (or lack of compassion) is a learned behavior. I do believe that humans are inherently sexual, however.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t feel that parents can do much to keep teenagers from being curious about (even craving) sex. I do think we can control how educated our children are regarding the topic. I have always thought that when it comes time, I would talk openly to my son about sex. I am not nearly as liberal when it comes to violence, however.

Obviously, my opinion on the matter is still morphing.

Amex Cuts 7,000 Jobs. What Would You Do?

American Express is cutting 7,000 jobs. Jobs are being slashed everywhere and that has me thinking…

What would you do if you lost your job tomorrow? Do you have a savings? Do you have enough to cover six to ninth months worth of all your expenses? Would you be OK for a while? Would you have a place to go? I am anxious to hear how stable people are. (If you leave a comment, feel free to do so anonymously.)

Designated Driver.

Many people have suggested that the turnout for this year’s election among college aged students will be huge. I am not trying to dispute that. That’s not the point of this post. But I do think that what some of the skeptics are saying is indeed very possible. The best way to illustrate this is to share a personal story.

In 1996 I was a graphic design student at Penn State University. It was November of an election year. Bill Clinton and Al Gore were running against Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. I arrived at the studio on Monday morning. Monday came and went and then election day arrived and I was still working. I hadn’t showered or slept since Sunday night. I ate whatever my classmates were having delivered. Lanny was beating us up again with tight deadlines and impossible projects. I did not plan for days ahead. I definitely didn’t plan for weeks. And in theory I cared about my future, and the future of my country, but when it actually came down to voting, I was willing to put that aside. I had a project due Wednesday morning and as the hours slipped by, it became clear to me that I might not meet the deadline. I was tired, scared and most of all exhausted.

I was in the computer lab when the phone rang. It evening. A classmate opened the door, “Michele, phone’s for you. I think it’s your mother.”

I am one in a family of five. I have one younger brother and one older brother and two parents. We all get along amazingly well—all of us. I adore each and every one of them. I could write wonderful things all of them, but to most it will just come off as some biased and affectionate attribution. Just know that they’re incredible people.

They’re also Republican. (With the exception of my younger brother who is a registered Independent but he generally leans toward the Republican side of the ticket come election time.)

I am the lone Democrat in my family. I always have been.

“Did you vote?” She asked.

“No.” I grunted back. “Been too busy. Haven’t seen outside since yesterday morning.”

“You have to vote. It’s no excuse.”

“I don’t have time. I just don’t.” I was fighting back tears. I was so tired. The LAST thing I wanted to do was go and waste precious minutes—minutes I needed to finish the project—voting.

“You make time. This is important.”

“I can’t walk all the way down there. I have a project due in the morning. I am going to be up all night. Walking down there and then waiting in line and then walking back will take too long. And someone told me that it’s raining.” I whined.

“I am going to come pick you and drive you there and wait and you will vote and then I will drop you back off. No excuses. You have to vote.”

My Republican mother was insisting that her Democrat of a daughter vote.

“FINE!” I grunted.

“I’ll be outside in 20 minutes.” She hung up the phone.

My mother drove fives miles in the rain to pick me up and take me to vote. And I simply must illustrate to you how simply absurd this was.

Exhibit A:

The Visual Arts Building is represented by the blue square. The voting station I was to report to is in red.

Yes, you’re assuming right. It’s a very short distance. It’s a quick walk. I do that each and every day now toting a baby and sometimes five bags of groceries. But then I found it impossible to justify taking a few precious minutes out of my busy class schedule to get my ass down there and vote.

My laziness to this day astounds me. What on earth was I thinking? Or not thinking? Is any project that important? Any professor? How could anything be more important than voting? And I feel so silly that my mother came to pick me up. Believe me, I am well aware of how irresponsible I was. But I was in college and my days were filled with small and immediate deadlines. And at the time my president was my design professor.

While I think every college student has every intention of voting this Tuesday, I also think it’s naive to think that they will do so. College students may have their heads and hearts in the right place most of the time, but I think it’s easy to say one thing and then lose track of that time or decide it’s not as important as the immediate project at hand. I am not suggesting that all college students do this, but I can’t imagine that I am alone with my experience, as shameful as it may be.

In my case, I was lucky to be living near my parents when I was in college. Because if it hadn’t been for my mother, I never would have made it down there to vote. I had EVERY intention on doing so, I really did, but I just know I never would have made it happen. I know it to be true but I am not proud of that truth.

My mother waited in the car and I cast my vote. The rain continued to fall as I walked back to the car. It felt really great to be outside. I cleared my head for the long night I had ahead of me.

“Thanks.” I mumbled. I really meant it.

“You’re welcome.”

We sat in silence for a minute, listening to the sound of the wipers push water to and from.

“You do realize I voted for Clinton, right?”

“Yup. I kind of guessed.”

“Had you not done this, he would have had one less vote.”

“Yup.” She answered.

“That’s kind of funny, mom.”

“I know.”

Whether you’re a Republican (like every other member of my family) or a liberal leaning freak like myself, please get out and vote this year. Don’t say you don’t have time or that you don’t care. Don’t be a loser like me. And since my mother did such a smashing job at getting Clinton elected by insisting that I vote for him in 1996, I think I owe a ride to my fellow Americans, particularly those who are in college.

Do you need a ride this Tuesday? I will come pick you up—Republican or Democrat—I don’t care who you’re voting for. But you have to vote.

Halloween 2008

We went to the Greenpoint children’s Halloween party yesterday. Beforehand, we stopped by our friend, Caroline’s, for hot cider and pumpkin cookies. While the kids ran around in the backyard, I took a few pictures. Channon lent us the outfit because the idea Toby and I came up with fell through. Nevertheless, I think he made an excellent octopus.

What are the chances I can get this puppy on Murray tomorrow?

(This is for my parents, who are in Mexico. I think.)

Invest In Happy Memories.

Greg Mankiw breaks down tax on investments.

In a nutshell, unless you’re the type of person who makes it now and spends it now, both candidates’ tax plans suck for you. That’s not to say that this is entirely their fault or that it’s something they have control over. This is a fault of how our system is set up.

If you have a second, read this.

(Thanks to Missy for the link.)

Sending Hate Mail: A Tutorial

Let me begin by saying that I’m no expert on the subject of hate mail. I haven’t ever sent hate mail to anyone. It’s just not my style to open an empty mail message and write about how much I hate someone. But some people do it. Some people compose dreadfully cruel letters. Perhaps they need to get something off their chest and writing it down makes them feel better. Perhaps they get high on the adrenaline rush. I guess those people and their actions make some sense.

It’s the people that actually send the message that confuse me. What brings them to press send? What type of response are they hoping to invoke? What type of person opens a new window, composes a lengthy, hateful message and then sends the message to someone they haven’t met before?

This person remains a mystery to me, so I do not claim expertise in this area. But I have been on the receiving end. So pretend I’m like a male gynecologist; I may not have the parts firsthand, but I’ve seen enough to make some sense of it.

Today’s post will hopefully act as a basic tutorial regarding the dos and donts of writing decent hate mail.


OK, that’s cool. So, you hate this person. Believe me, there have been a few people I haven’t been too fond of over the years. I have grown so annoyed, sometimes I’ve stopped reading a person’s Web site all together. Crazy, right? Actually looking away from someone or something that fills you with hate isn’t easy. I mean, who in their right mind wants to avoid someone that makes them angry? Who in their right mind wants to avoid something that makes them feel like hitting caps lock?

Sometimes, whenever I feel angered by something I read online, I go for a jog or a walk. If I am unable to do that, I’ll put everything down and read to my son or sit with my cats, because no matter how badly I feel, they always make me smile.

If none of that works, I vent to my husband and he usually shakes his head and makes me feel silly for caring at all, which in turn makes me stop caring so much.

Try and find some other way to calm yourself down even if it requires the use of an illegal substance.


You’re mad. I get it. And all the bubble baths and yoga breaths in the world aren’t going to calm you down. You simply must write that email! Before running off to some anonymous email client, I really think that you should use your own email client and name. Why? Because it makes what you’re saying matter. Otherwise, you sound like a coward.

I really think you owe it to yourself (and the object of your enmity) to give a name. I speak from experience when I say that those who write anonymously are seen as cowards. After the initial “Wow! They did NOT just write that!” wears off, it becomes downright amusing. Your mail is shared with friends and spouses and everyone gets a chuckle out of it. Your mail is then filed away in a folder called “Cowardly Douchebags”.


Alright, so, you’re not one to leave the light on during sex. You have no desire to share your name with the person you hate. You hate them so much, you wish to anonymously let them know. Let me at least help you pick the right anonymous email client.

I have received email from both Anonymous Speech and Send Anonymous Email. I have also gotten hate mail from impromptu email accounts like Janehatesmihow666@hotmail.com. To each their own. If you want sign up for a new Hotmail or Gmail account, by all means, do so. That’s what people have been doing for years. But there are sites designed specifically for this purpose.

I went to Anonymous Speech today and discovered that they are currently moving to Malaysia and their site is down.

If you wish to anonymously write them letting them know how angry you are, I might suggest using Send Anonymous Email instead.

Any site whose number one selling point is “catch a cheating spouse husband or wife” is a surefire winner in my book. Who needs wedding vows, communication and trust when you have this passive aggressive, highly retardable way of finding out if your husband is sticking it to another woman?

You might as well pick the most passive aggressive site you can find. That way you’re in like-minded company.


Now you’re ready. But before you write your hate mail, I would like to suggest following a couple of rules first.

1). Do not use the caps lock.

It’s weird. I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s just weird. You’re weird if you write in all caps and you already have two strikes against you (you’re sending hate mail and you’re sending hate mail using an anonymous client.) If you turn on the caps lock, you’re out entirely.

2). If you wish to belittle someone, show some validity.

I once had someone write telling me that I SHOULD JUST GO TO NEW JERSEY ALREADY!

I was baffled by this. It was by far the most bizarre email I have ever received. It went on for pages and pages about how I was pathetic and that New York hates me and that I just don’t have what it takes to live here. Finally, she just started yelling at me and told me to move to the suburbs. She ended her rant by voting me off the island and sending me to NEW JERSEY ALREADY!!

While some folks think having to go to New Jersey is like the worst thing ever, there are about 8,685,920 who disagree.

Make it count, people! If this is the type of argument you have prepared, you may want to sit down and ask why you’re so upset. Ask yourself if it’s really about that person at all.

3). Your mother’s ugly and she dresses you funny. FACE!

Empty insults should be removed. YOU’RE A RACIST! or YOU’RE A NAZI! are both overused. It’s right up there with calling someone fat or retarded or fat and retarded. Unless this person is actually a member of the KKK or they were seen at one of the recent Midwestern GOP political rallies, don’t call them a racist.

(Also along these lines: telling someone they are going to Hell, New Jersey, or that they are an anti-American, liberal terrorist.)

4). Unless you’re perfect AND you’re a parent, do not tell someone that they are a terrible mother.

This is a no-brainer. I don’t need to explain this one. Just don’t do it. We all know there are some people out there who are abusive toward children. If you are out to save the children, I might suggest donating some of your extra time—the time it takes you to send hate mail, for example—to a local children’s charity.

5). Don’t make caveats.

Letting the person know that you don’t really read their site, but you stopped by just for today, is unnecessary. Leave things like, “I don’t usually read your site and I regret it now…” out of your hate mail. It says stalker. It reminds me of some dialogue from Howard Stern’s Private Parts.

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.

Pig Vomit: How can that be?

Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?

Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.

Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?

Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

You know you read their site, they know you read their site, you don’t need to tell them how often you don’t read their site or how embarrassed you are that you don’t read their site. About 75% of the hate mail I receive includes a declaration about how the sender doesn’t normally read my Web site. There’s no need for it. You’re right up there with the folks who say things like, “I don’t hate gays, but I really can’t stand seeing two guys hold hands.”

6). Don’t call someone what they are in an attempt to hurt their feelings.

Things like “YOU STUPID VEGAN!” or “YOU BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL!” beckon a “Yeah, so what?” response. If this is all your hate mail is going to say, I highly suggest avoiding it entirely.

7). Use hard returns.

This falls in line with caps lock. Some people write long hateful posts without giving the reader a break. This is tiring and you look insane. Hit return. It helps get your point across and the recipient doesn’t pass out.

Combining caps lock and refusing to use paragraph breaks is hateful all its own. So I might suggest just copying and pasting a continuous stream of UPPERCASE Lorem Ipsum into an email.

8). Read it out loud.

This may be the most important rule. Before you send that hate mail, read it out loud. Because if you can read your email out loud and not feel like a giant loser, then it’s either OK to send (and will therefore help said recipient) or you need to get your head examined.

But in the end, the choice is yours.

Tuesdays With Murray (Chapter 64)

Murray enjoys Em’s sloppy bubble bath seconds, which Em finds fascinating.

(A few things about the video: Murray’s nickname is Myrtle. I have no idea why or how that came to be. The bubble bath is harmless for both baby and cat. See California Baby if you’re interested. Lastly, the blow-up protective covering seen in video is probably the best purchase we made in recent months—a must have and cheap as hell.)