Two things I read today:

1. From my employee handbook
Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with stress.
-- ALA Freedom to Read statement

2. From em's blog
Successful life forms are characterized by diversity, so changing environments don't wipe them out. That diversity often extends to sexuality. Thus bisexuality and homosexuality are characteristics not of twisted nature, but of generous nature.
-- Susan McCarthy
It sounds like the orthodoxy needs all of us weirdos - very cool.


Bad news, a conundrum, and two book picks

[graphic ripped off from Powells]


A Twisted Christmas

I just got hooked into a radio interview with Twisted Sister. They're promoting a new Christmas album
twisted christmas
which is just like you'd imagine. You can listen for yourself here or here.

A couple of years ago I was driving home after a long day of familial holiday bliss and found just what I needed on NPR: John Waters talking to Terry Gross about Christmas and Christmas music. The songs he chose were awesome for a variety of reasons, either by catching a time and place in a nutshell, or by scoring a ten out of ten on the kitch scale or by being just so cloying and precious that a person needs to lie down for a while afterwards.
a john waters christmas

And while I was at Amazon.com grabbing images, I spotted another choice sampling of not-too-sweet holiday goodness. rockabilly christmas

The gas station calendar girl is just a bonus.


War story season

Cut-and-pasted from an email written last June

Reading The Cider House Rules this week is a fortunate coincidence.

It is war story season around here - my grandfather's destroyer was bombed and badly damaged, with thirty dead and missing and forty more hurt, in early June 1944 near New Guinea. I first heard the whole story in 2001. I've been working to get as much of the story down as possible (he has written about it too) and so when Grandpa started to tell me the story anew on Saturday night, I listened carefully and took notes. I put all my energy into learning the story for almost two hours and was staggering around exhausted afterwards (this was after nine hours [at work], you see).

On the drive home the radio was off, I had so much processing to do. My head was full. After a long quiet walk, I wrote down as much as I could, just to get the too-much-data feeling to stop pressing against the inside of my skull. It's not just my grandfather's war story that I needed to re-rationalize from the mish-mash in my mind, but my experience as a listener too. And then there is the question, is this kind of story good for anything? (Besides Grandpa's peace of mind.) (Besides as a feature in The Martial Times or whatever those war-glorifying magazines call themselves.)

And then I finally figured out, I'm reading The Cider House Rules, I can relax, there's no rush.

John Irving got his grandfather's medical stories when he was alive and his papers when he died, and out of that stew came a story about an old abortionist. Hell, a Hollywood-palatable story about an abortionist and the place that legal and safe abortions have in society. So I can see, it doesn't matter, I don't have to do anything but listen and remember. Maybe I'll tell the story someday, in some form. Maybe not. If nothing else, I'll have something to say to my middle aged nieces and nephews at family reunions in the 2050s.

A piece of Grandpa's prewar story

Cut-and-pasted from an email written a few days after Thanksgiving

I'm very lucky, I have living, lucid grandparents and I get to have some laid back sitting around time with them. Tonight over the last ot the apple pie, Grandpa was telling me about 1941 and his first job in Tulsa.

This part of the story I already knew: It was 1941, Grandpa was seventeen and done with high school, and he was fighting with his dad every day. His mom's folks had visited over the holidays and invited him to come stay in Tulsa and get a job at one of the aircraft plants. One day he'd had it with his dad and decided to go. He asked the Tobias, Nebraska greengrocer (also a neighbor - Tobias, Nebraska is six blocks long and four blocks wide) if he could get a lift when the grocer drove to Lincoln the next morning for produce. The greengrocer told him yes, and five minutes later called my great-grandpa Dick. Dick counted to ten (or whatever parents did in 1941) gave Grandpa permission to go, and put him on the train to Tulsa himself.

Here's the part that was new to me tonight: Grandpa had to take some classes before he qualified for a job building airplanes. In the meantime he was assistant frycook at the city bus terminal for thirteen dollars a week and his evening meal. He went in at five and assisted the cook until eleven, when they shut down and he started to scrape and scour the grill. He finished work just in time to catch the last bus at midnight.

Prohibition was still going strong in Tulsa (god knows why) and people came into the bus station to get hookups with bootleggers, through the bank of public phones and through the staff. My grandfather's grandmother was a member of the Women's Christian Temperance League and never knew that her husband, a finish carpenter, had a little flask tucked into the back of his car behind his toolbox. (It helped with his rheumatism, apparently).


A geekgirl goes shopping

I finally put my finger on why I've barely been on my bike lately: I'm waiting for my balaclava to resurface, the one that fits under my helmet and warms my ears and keeps the wind from going down my collar. But it's been lost for a year and is probably gone for good and I need to ride my bike.

So today, after a crunchy-as-opposed-to-smooth job interview, retail therapy was just the thing and I was in the neighborhood anyway so I stopped by the huge evil outdoor store at the mall. I scanned the bike dept for bargains (none). I scoped out the Born display, to check; Born still isn't making the Blundstone-style boots I want, dammit (I still have my pair from three years ago but the dog kinda ate the top inch off the left one the third week he lived here).

I stood there between the longjohns display and the three aisles of hats, you'd thing there would be a gradation between underwear and hats where the base layer balaclavas would be, but no, so I asked a guy-in-store-smock where? He sent me upstairs to the alpine skiing department (haven't they heard that this is Nebraska?) I found my balaclava, no problem. Found one better than the last one, which was lightweight and perfect for Eugene; the new one is lightweight to ear level, fleece from there down. Uberdorky but very functional.

There in the snow department I tried on some gaiters, it's hard to justify a pair of nice boots just for snow (shh don't tell, this place is a desert), and it's hard to justify a pair of cheap and crappy boots for any reason, so gaiters over the everyday Keens are what I need for the nine days a year I need them. But not the ones I tried today, which had dumb dumb dumb fastenings/adjustings.

Hoping for better gaiter options, I wandered over to the hunting department. They had just the most beautiful things, hats with dangly leafy bits, and gaiters with snow camo printed on, and mossy oak hats and mossy oak t-shirts and mossy oak baby p.j.s and mossy oak boxers and mossy oak arm warmers (sold separately, $14 per)

and then I found the Filson. O my god why didn't anybody tell me? Beautiful beautiful beautiful wool flannel jackets, I've never seen anything so beautiful. Finished wool two layers thick, a cape merging into double-sleeves. I tried one on, naturally. When will the stores acknowlege the nerd girl customer who shops uni-sex-ly, who digs the boxy boyclothes but needs a mirror to see them in?

Too bad I don't have three hundred dollars to spend on a coat. Too bad that even if I spent that three hundred dollars, Filson's is a guy-only line and the sleeves would cover my thumbs.

Oh well. Someday.

There were deerhunter hats too, there in the deerhunter department. Who'd have thought?


Cyclists be pedestrians

Originally uploaded by travelinlibrarian.


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