28 January 2004

In my world, it's the weekend! Yayster!

And here's why: In the last three days, I have managed to clock in 30 hours. Yesterday I was at the center at 7:30 am, and today I was in at 7:00 (which means that I have to leave my house at 6:35 AM -- my commute's been longer since the cops have focused their attentions on speeders on I-40 in the canyon between Albuquerque and Tijeras). It goes without saying that I am exhausted. I have to spend my entire weekend (Saturday - Monday) in Santa Fe at a conference (LAME!), and so I am taking tomorrow off to give myself a little weekday weekend.


Today I learned a lot about bats!

For example:
-- Without bats, we wouldn't have tequila, for bats are the only pollinators of the agave plant
-- Bats are number ten on the list of most common carriers of rabies. Number one is pet dogs. You hear that, people? You are more likely to catch rabies from your dog than from a bat!
-- There are more than 1,100 species of bats in the world, from the largest (the gigantic flying fox of the South Pacific, with a wingspan of six feet) to the smallest (the bumble-bee bat, which weighs less than a penny).
-- Of these, only a very few can alight from the ground. Because they don't have feathers, most bats can't get enough lift to take off from the ground, which is why they hang upside down.
-- When you see scary bats in movies, they're FRUIT bats! They're hungry for rotting fruit, not for blood.
-- There are three species of vampire bats, all of which live in Africa. These bats drink the blood of cows and chickens, but only take two teaspoons of blood out of the animal (at the most), and the donor almost never notices.
-- Vampire bats are helping humanity, because their saliva contains an anti-coagulant that's been beneficial to people with heart problems.
-- Bats aren't blind. They have perfectly good vision. Many of them do echolocate, but they use this tool in addition to their sight.
...and lots more!


One particularly horrifying article in Mother Jones is about Grover Norquist, who is the "national ward boss for the right."

"We plan to pick up another five seats in the Senate and hold the House through 2012... and rather than negotiate with the teachers' unions and the trial lawyers and the various leftist interest groups, we intend to break them."


Or this:
Norquist calls it the "Leave-Us-Alone Coalition," a grouping of gun owners,
the Christian right, homeschoolers, libertarians, and business leaders that he has almost single-handedly managed to unite. The common vision: an America in which the rich will be taxed at the same rates as the poor, where capital is freed from government constraints, where government services are turned over to the free market, where the minimum wage is repealed, unions are made irrelevant, and law-abiding citizens can pack handguns in every state and town. "My ideal citizen is the self-employed, homeschooling, IRA-owning guy with a concealed-carry permit," says Norquist. "Because that person doesn't need the goddamn government for anything."

Of course -- whether intentional or not -- he says the ideal citizen is a guy. Because I'm thinking that women still need the goddamn government to protect them. As well as, you know, poor people, sick people, old people, young people, people with different skin colors, and people with different religious beliefs, not to mention wildlife and the few wild places left in this country. It hurts my heart. The scariest thing is that this man is extremely powerful in Washington. Powerful like Karl Rove wants to be his BFF.

Powerful like

"At Rove's request, Norquist flew to Austin for a private meeting with the
then Texan governor and presented the agenda he wanted George W. Bush to back:
broad income-tax cuts, school choice, the privatization of Social Security, tort reform, and free trade."

Powerful like

"Norquist's goal is nothing less than a well-oiled national, state, and local
political machine that can roll over and crush the last few bastions of Democratic Party support."

Powerful scary.


On a slightly more cheerful note, this article about a man who works undercover as a car salesman. It's extremely long, but very compelling. The author describes the psychology of sales, as well as the spooky beer-can-crushing testosteroney atmosphere of the high-volume dealers. If you're not so interested in the narrative, you can skip to the end, where he sums up some of the things he learned that might help you not to get totally screwed next time you buy a car.


Today at Crossroads (the alternative high-school):

Me: (after staring at the classroom map of Africa for the last five minutes of class) Hey Mr. Bond, that's a pretty old map there, huh?

Mr. Bond: Why?

Me: Um, Zaire??

Mr. Bond: (smiling) Whatever do you mean, Molly?

Me: I'm pretty sure it's been the Democratic Republic of the Congo since I was in high school.

Mr. Bond: Do you know that in seven years, you're the only one who's ever noticed that?

Random Student: Dude, you're smart!

Of course, I admitted that I wouldn't know anything about Africa if my best friend hadn't moved there. Thanks, Ali!


Along these lines, I'm always looking for good books about Africa. Any suggestions?

my list so far:

Gordon, Sheila. Waiting for the Rain.
Jones, Ann. Looking for Lovedu.
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Poisonwood Bible.
Malan, Rian. My Traitor's Heart.
Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy.

...and I've been meaning to read Achebe's Things Fall Apart since I was 15! Maybe that's what I'll do over my "weekend."


And finally, apparently my mother was educated by the Sisters of Loretto! Who knew??

Happy weekend!

25 January 2004

oh my gosh...



The other day, I went to this amazing Chinese restaurant called the China King, which has the biggest buffet ever, and you get unlimited trips to the buffet for five dollars. Jennie and I have been there several times (she took me there for lunch my last day at work before Christmas), because there's nothing Jennie likes better than lots of inexpensive, good food.

At the end of the meal, of course, the waiter brought us fortune cookies. I wouldn't say that I'm superstitious, exactly, but I am always on the lookout for signs. Eager to see what the universe had to tell me, I cracked open my cookie.

This was my fortune:
Aunque sea un pequeno regalo significa tanto para alguien hoy.

I stared at it in disbelief. My fortune's in Spanish??

As best I can translate, it means Though it will be a small gift, it will mean a great deal to someone today. Er, or something like that. My Spanish is pretty rusty.


So I had this dream in which I gave birth to my second child. I named him Nathan Peter, and he was dark brown (and a little fuzzy). My first child was named Basil, and he was light-colored. Note that my mother's dog is named Basil, and he came first in our family, and my dog, while not named Nathan Peter, is dark brown and fuzzy, and he came second. This makes me think that my unconscious mind confuses babies and puppies.

Anyhow, so I had these babies (puppies) and I took them shopping. At the store, I was carded, and for the life of me I could not get my driver's license out of my wallet. After much struggle, I finally gave the checker my credit card as ID and left. When I got home, I was unloading my truck, and couldn't find my babies (puppies). Note that I expected them to be in the uncovered bed of my truck. I couldn't figure out if I had left them at the store, or if they had blown out of my truck while I was driving.

Moral of the story: Molly Backes is not allowed to have children!


I talked to Ila yesterday! As talking to anyone from home does, it made me both happy and sad. Happy, because it's so great to catch up with my far-away friends! And sad, because I wish I were closer, especially when my far-away friends are going through a rough time of it.

Hats off to Ila Grace Gates-Thomas, who is great and who has a pretty live journal about muppets!


Kevin just finished his first real collaboration with Zander Cannon (Zander wrote, Kevin drew), called The Mustache and Topcoat Club. Zander is a Grinnell College alum who's also a cartoonist, who also lives in Minneapolis, and who also has a studio in the Handicraft Guild building, but who isn't (strangely enough) related to Kevin.

Several years ago, Kevin had an internship as Zander's assistant, and was able to sneak a few secret messages into Zander's book (with Alan Moore) Smax.


In other news, if the classicists just marketed The Metamorphoses as the Days of Our Lives of Ancient Rome, I bet a lot more kids would go for it. Seriously, the plot twists are weirder and the characters more impulsive and insane than the soaps could even dream. Days, for example, has never had a character be cursed with never-ending hunger so that he was forced to eat his way through his fortune, then sell his daughter into slavery to buy more food, and finally eat his own flesh.


You know the scene in movies where through a series of hijinks (usually but not always involving clueless people, like dads or kids, being left in charge of the house while mom's away) suddenly the washing machine or dishwasher goes crazy and starts spewing huge mountains of soap suds and water all over the room, eventually filling the entire room with bubbles?

Yeah, well. Apparently that really happens.