Friday, January 30, 2009

Spot on

This is Spot. See Spot run. See Spot get agitated and claw and bat at things. See Spot go and explore all the drawers and closets that are empty now as I pack stuff up to move. I tell Spot, "Spot, we're going to have a house. I think you'll like it." But those are human words, and I don't have proper cat words, and I don't think she understands.

This morning Spot will have a trip to the vet. She will stay at the vet for the day, and when she comes home, it will be to the new place. Then she can explore new closets and rooms. At least this is how it has happened before. Spot is the best cat in the known universe and loves new adventures.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

No place like home

I was searching online for the text of an old speech by Susan B. Anthony called "Homes of Single Women," in which she argued that every woman needed her own home, she just didn't need to have a husband in it. It's a lovely speech. I wish I could share it with you.

I was thinking of this speech because of the way my house is starting to resemble a home, thanks to help from my friends. On Sunday, several of us were remarking that 30 years ago, there were not nearly so many women with power tools and home repair skills.

I did, however, find the Google Books digitized version of Ida Husted Harper's 1898 book, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony. This is a very long book, but fascinating to browse through. And a very good reminder of how hard generations of women have worked so that we could pick up our power tools and work.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Another look at gay marriage

It is perhaps an understatement to say that gay marriage has never been my issue. I'm one of those old-fashioned lesbian feminists who tends to rant on the theme that marriage is a patriarchal institution, and why prop it up by taking part in it?

But over on happening here? janinsanfran has posted this interesting analysis: Marriage: what is it?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Almost magic

This is one of those times when there is so much happening that I would like to write about, but I am too busy living life to write it down. Next week I'll be in my house. The lease is up on my apartment. I think I'm going to make it, thanks to a lot of help from my friends.

It used to be difficult for me to accept help. Now it is a little easier, but I still don't know how to ask. Part of it is reluctance, but part of it is that asking for help is a skill, like running a photo copier, or attaching a compression valve to a copper pipe. It's a skill I need to practice. Fortunately, I seem to have friends with a knack of showing up when I need them. Yesterday my house was filled with women painting, cleaning cabinets, ripping up carpet, helping me diagnose the operation of my floor furnace. It felt like a miracle.

This week Barack Obama was inaugurated as president. My expectations have not been terribly high. He's a nice centrist Democrat who happens to be African American. If we want progressive programs and actions, we will have to develop and push for them. And yet, it's a wonderful thing that the United States has moved forward far enough to elect its first African American president. It doesn't mean the end of racism, but it's an important step.

In less than a week in office, President Obama has moved to shut down the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and rescinded the global gag rule. Soon he will sign into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program may be next. After 30 years of right wing backlash, it feels like a miracle.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Song by Oklahoma songwriter in the news

"This Land Is Your Land" Like Woody Wrote It -- thanks to Truthout. The whole post -- especially including the comments -- is interesting and ironic.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The pipes are calling

I am having the time of my life with this house, but anyone who might be reading this blog has noted that I'm not able to post as frequently as usual.

This weekend I'm fixing much of my plumbing. Or trying to. I've got about three different plumbing projects going on, and two of them, the further I went, the more complicated they got. If you've ever tried to do any plumbing, I expect you know what I mean. The good news is, I don't think my pipes froze when we had all that cold weather in the middle of the week. At least, I crawled under my house late Wednesday night after work and spent about 2 1/2 hours insulating the pipes, and I think it worked.

I used to have a private joke that I am not a plumber, but I play one on YouTube. Maybe I jinxed myself.

There is lots going on in the world right now. Here in the US, we're about to have a new president. What else is happening? If you've been paying attention, please let me know what's going on, because I'm just trying to keep my head above water here. Almost literally.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pipe dreams

Well, it's about to get really cold tomorrow night, and I'm hoping to keep the pipes on my house from freezing. It's going to be tricky, because I have so many leaky valves and faucets that it will be difficult to keep water dripping from the faucets.

So I was wondering, how cold does it have to get before there's likely to be a problem? About 20 degrees Fahrenheit, according to this page provided by the Newton BBS of the Argonne National Laboratory. The page--well worth reading in its entirety--includes this fascinating information:
When water freezes, it increases in volume about 9%. The ice then shrinks as the temperature decreases. The shrinkage is tiny, about 0.4% going from 30F to -50F.

As a side note, liquid water is densest at a temperature of 39.2F. The density differences at higher and lower temperatures are very tiny.
Cooling 39.2F water to 0F expands it only 0.01%.

Another note, there are at least 12 forms of ice. Most can be obtained only in the laboratory under high pressure.
The American Red Cross provides a page with practical information on Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes.

I'd better get cracking here, so that my pipes don't...

Monday, January 12, 2009

House passes wage equity bill, tell your senators to vote `yes'

Thanks to Echidne of the Snakes for pointing out this recent post at RH Reality Check.
The House passed both the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, restoring and establishing basic protections for employees who are subject to wage discrimination. The Ledbetter Act repeals the 180 day requirement, while the Paycheck Fairness Act protects employees from retaliation by employers if they bring complaints and allows them to sue for compensatory and punitive damages.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is named in honor of a woman who sued her long-time employer for sex discrimination, only to be told by the US Supreme Court that she had to file a complaint within 180 days of receiving the first discriminatory paycheck. Because of Goodyear Tire's policy forbidding employees to discuss their salaries, Ledbetter only discovered the discrimination many years later.

This week the Senate is expected to consider the legislation passed by the House that will remedy this situation. You can ask your Senators to vote `yes' by following this link.

The Library of Congress has information about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act here, and information about the Paycheck Fairness Act here.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Nation on the crisis in Gaza

In this thoughtful editorial, the editors of The Nation call for President-elect Obama to demonstrate strong leadership now to encourage Israel to take the necessary risks to bring lasting peace to the Middle East. They say that encouragement from Washington is necessary to bring about a solution that will offer dignity, and security both to Israel and the Palestinians.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Home Economics

I am having a wonderful time the past week or so as I frantically try to get ready to move out of my apartment by the end of the month when my lease expires, while also trying to get my new house fixed up enough to move into by then.

Sometime soon, I would like to learn how to do patient, painstaking, and beautiful work on my projects. As it is, I am probably too impatient and doing things too fast, and much of what I do is sloppier than I would like it to be. But it's getting done, and it's a thrill to discover that my house is being transformed into a home.

Most recently, I had a complicated adventure involving downloading the manual for my floor furnace from the Internet, crawling under my house, hiring plumbers, having help from a really nice installation guy from Oklahoma Natural Gas, and installing a new thermostat. But the good news is, the floor furnace seems to be working fine. I feel very fortunate and very pleased with myself.

Last night I also had another adventure correcting the installation of my outdoor faucet so it wouldn't freeze. The big difficulty was, I couldn't open up the little jar of plastic cement I needed to use.I had never learned the little trick where you bang all around the edges of a stuck lid to get it to open, so I had to swallow my pride, drive down to the Red Cup, and seek the assistance of a clever and muscular gentleman to open it. After that, the repair was pretty easy. Tomorrow when it warms up a little bit, I'm going to cut on my water and see if my plumbing's okay.

A friend of mine told me yesterday that I'm a brave woman. Which was very sweet of her. And that is how I'm feeling right now, brave and adventurous and clever. But let's face it. I am also very, very lucky. Through what is mostly dumb luck, I am getting house when lots of people are losing theirs due to little or no fault of their own.

In conservative circles, it is popular to blame the people who are losing their houses for their own troubles. But the truth has more to do with structural inequality in the US economy, where the most wealthy one percent of the population controls an increasing share of resources. Also, there has been massive mismanagement by government leaders and economic elites.

You can get the lowdown on how all of this came to pass by reading the Economic Meltdown Funnies, published as a joint venture by Jobs with Justice and the Institute for Policy Studies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tell Obama to work for renewed Gaza ceasefire

Feminist Peace Network has a link to a petition to tell President-elect Obama to end his silence on the situation in Gaza. When I followed the link to sign the petition, I found this interesting site dedicated to peace in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, happening-here? also has a good post on the situation in Gaza.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Heterosexual couples wrestle with role reversals after layoffs

Adrienne Gibbs explains why at Women's eNews.

As for myself, despite my long-term commitment to challenging gender stereotypes, I had to realize earlier this evening, that I had never actually used a cordless drill before. It wasn't necessarily pretty, but I got the smoke detectors installed.

Friday, January 2, 2009

May everyone 'neath her vine and fig tree live in peace and unafraid

As best as I can remember, this is the very first time in my life that I've ever replaced a broken window glass. The job I did wasn't pretty, but it worked, and I was thrilled and delighted. I think I'll be able to fix the other three broken windows before I get my gas turned on in my new house next week. Well, it's not at all a new house, but it's new to me.

I wanted to mention that Feminist Peace Network has had three really useful posts on the Israeli attack on Gaza: First, here is a commentary by Starhawk on Gaza. Next, here is a statement by Israeli women's groups. Finally, there's a report on the call by former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (also the recent Green Party candidate for US president) for President-elect Barack Obama to speak out on the situation in Gaza.

And now I'm going to post this before I fall asleep in the middle of my laptop. I've thought about starting a home improvement blog, but I'm not sure I can keep up with this one.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

If we want something better than a kinder, gentler globalization, we're going to have to work for it

Sometime when I'm not figuring out how to get my house fixed up enough to move into it, I might come back to this analysis by Walden Bello at Foreign Policy in Focus. Don't wait for me to fix my broken windows and get my gas and water turned on. Read it for yourself:

 The Coming Capitalist Consensus

Bello argues, that neoliberalism is dead, and that a kinder, gentler capitalist consensus is taking its place. After the meaner, rougher capitalism that has held sway over the past 30 years or so, that sounds pretty appealing, doesn't it? Bello thinks we should ask for more:
While progressives were engaged in full-scale war against neoliberalism, reformist thinking was percolating in critical establishment circles. This thinking is now about to become policy, and progressives must work double time to engage it. It is not just a matter of moving from criticism to prescription. The challenge is to overcome the limits to the progressive political imagination imposed by the aggressiveness of the neoliberal challenge in the 1980s combined with the collapse of the bureaucratic socialist regimes in the early 1990s. Progressives should boldly aspire once again to paradigms of social organization that unabashedly aim for equality and participatory democratic control of both the national economy and the global economy as prerequisites for collective and individual liberation.

Like the old post-war Keynesian regime, Global Social Democracy is about social management. In contrast, the progressive perspective is about social liberation.
I originally found this at Common Dreams, where I find so much useful and interesting information.