Sunday, August 31, 2008

Why you should pick a fat girl

Because they actually do stuff.

I was just reading a rather fascinating post about a kind of woman I have never been; the
Amazing Girl. The sort of artsy, spiritual, "dance like no one is watching" female that men tend to go all soppy over. I bear them no malice, really; one of my best friends was one, and her un-judgmental, fond appreciation of me was an anodyne after years of minimal friendships. They serve a genuine purpose.

But it made me start thinking about the frustration I have with another large portion of the female gender - the Prettyskinny Woman. I'm not referring just to every woman who is thin and attractive; rather, the smaller percentage who figured out years ago that nothing would ever be required of them, and as a consequence, make no effort to be able to do anything useful.

Here's an example of what I don't mean. I know one thin, beautiful woman that on first glance might be considered a primary candidate for the Prettyskinny label; but she is a public school teacher who helps care for a sibling who is confined to a wheelchair, in an uncomplaining, gracious and calm manner that awes me. I doubt I could be so unflappable in the face of such a commitment.

No, the sort of woman who is a Prettyskinny is like one of the girls who I sing with occasionally - she shows up late, is inattentive, makes no effort to keep her music in order so she can move from song to song in a reasonable manner... and yet has the voice of an angel. She must continually be "brought up to speed" while making no actual effort to do so herself. She is popular and lovely, and as far as I can tell, incapable of practical application.

This is the sort of woman who has always had the admiration of others, and as such, has not needed to develop any practical talents or skills; no, someone else will always take care of it for her. She would like to do something "artistic" with her life, but rarely makes the effort necessary to actually succeed in the arts. She can't really clean, cook, handle tools, scrub, change diapers, lift heavy boxes, or sew. That all sounds like stereotypical domesticity, but really, even in this modern world, you need to know how to do most of those sorts of things to live life. We're not yet in Logan's Run.

I had a Prettyskinny roommate once who drove me up the wall - working on her 3rd BA degree, coming up with a new idea for an easy and yet glamorous occupation every other month or so (travel photography... modelling... acting in an national commercial so she could live off the proceeds for a year... getting into the chorus of an opera company...) and living in a state of such slovenliness that we were continually finding ants in the kitchen. I'm no pristine housekeeper by any means, but you couldn't see the floor of her room.

We butted heads early on, and I realized that we should have parted ways on the day we moved into a larger apartment with a third friend. I had arranged to pay 2 friends to help us move, and as we three carted loads of boxes and stuff out to the truck, she sat on a chair in the living room and watched us. I have never fought with anyone like I did with her. To this day, I believe that our mutual animosity continues unabated, although occasionally I am overcome with remorse for my unchristian behavior and judgmental spirit towards her. I haven't seen her since we all moved out 8 years ago. But for me, she became the prime example for that sort of semi-useless woman.

So let's then look at the other end of the womanly spectrum - the Highly Accomplished Fat Girl. Never worshipped like a Prettyskinny or appreciated (unless she is funny), she has learned a number of skills to make her useful, and hopefully, absolutely necessary. Amazing cooks, seamstresses, babysitters, masseuses, accountants, designers, set builders, teachers, comedians, etc. She has developed every talent, every skill she can so that she will find a place in society. She has to be twice as good just to register as acceptable.

And she has the added bonus of Depth. Years of sorrow and disappointment at being passed over or disregarded has made her stronger, more patient, more self-aware and wise than a regular woman. Particularly when fat from her youth onward, she doesn't mind growing old and losing her looks that much, because she never had the looks to lose. You don't miss what you never had.

So when torn between a slender beauty and a fat woman, after examining their general qualities of personality and skills, if all things are equal... pick the fat girl. She will be a greater benefit in the long run, be it as wife, employee, or friend. She may not inspire you to write poetry, but she will know how to squash spiders on her own without calling for help.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


My friend Kathryn Stinson and I have been working on a book for about 6 months now about Gifts and Gift-Giving. We decided that part of the process (and as a way to build up interest) would be to start a blog where we could work out some ideas, and maybe collect stories from people that would help illustrate our points.

I should mention that this is NOT a Martha-Stewart-Real-Simple-Style-how-to sort of book; there will be ideas, but we also want to address the historical, philosophical and psychological aspects of Gifts and the traditions (good and bad) surrounding them. And to be funny whenever we can, as well as incoporating such concepts as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.

So I beg you to please visit the site, and make comments and share your own stories of the best gifts you've ever gotten, as well as the worst. We promise to blog at least twice a week, so please check back! (and scroll down to the bottom so you can read the earlier posts...)

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fascinating Search

I think I may be geeking out about economists!

I have been tasked with finding the birthdates of all 112 presidents of the American Economic Association, and it has been hard going. Some were easy - Wikipedia filled in that info on about 50% of them. But some we only had the year, not the date, and others were as though they had never existed.

I have to detail the search I did on just one of them... E. Goldenweiser, president in 1946. No clue on his first name, year of birth, etc. I found several economics-themed sites with the initials E. A., so folded that in... then discovered some with E. Alexandrovich... then one with Emmanuel Alexandrovich, still in economics. I then found a citation from congressional hearings with the Federal Reserve Board that implyed he was an employee, which gave me more background.

I then went on (using a 2-week free trial) and did a search on the full name. I found a list of various records with variations on his name, and then found this draft card for WWI:
A Statistician for the government. And his birthday. I cannot tell you the THRILL I had when I finally discovered this; a little like finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Someone who has not been thought important enough to develop a Wikipedia page for, or to have an online obituary for, and yet here he exists again in the world of 2008, even if only for me around lunchtime on a Friday. I also found his draft card for WWII, where he lists that he is working for the Federal Reserve. I can't find his obituary yet (he died in 1953), but I have found an index online that lists it... just not the actual text!
It took me almost an hour, to find all these little tiny bits of information, and this was my reward. He emigrated from Kiev, Russia, became a naturalized citizen and americanized his middle name to Alexander.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Honest Truth Can Be Ugly Sometimes

Or selfish.

I love this article, and I have done many of the suggested techniques in conversation, but not with any conscious awareness of feigning sincerity... but under closer evaluation, yes. I have feigned sincerity. I apologize.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Kitten + Ferrets + Bag = LOL

Absolutely delightful! You can almost see their little thought processes...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Valuable Lessons Learned

  1. It is important to be careful when removing the oil cap on your car, as you may drop it into the engine.
  2. Wadded-up paper towels are not a safe or suitable replacement for a missing oil cap.
  3. Wal-Mart does not carry replacement oil caps.
  4. It is ill-advised to go within a mile of Wal-Mart on Tax-Free Weekend in 90+ degree weather.
  5. Artichoke hearts are never where you expect to find them in a grocery store.
  6. A rolled-up sock serves reasonably well as an oil cap in a pinch.
  7. The Toyota dealership Service Department on Hwy. 96 closes at 5 pm on Saturdays.
  8. There is a well-stocked AutoZone located on Columbia Avenue in Franklin.
  9. A replacement oil cap can run around $5.

I have come to deeply appreciate AutoZone. They always end up giving good advice, and helping me make cheap repairs on my own. I literally drive away feeling a palpable sense of Joy: I always learn a new skill or useful piece of information (i.e., one can actually replace their own headlight lamps!), I'm relieved that a pressing repair/replacement has been made, and I feel strong and capable for having managed a car issue on my girly own.

Cars can make me more anxious than almost anything else (except my tendency towards hypochondria); I have actually had a panic attack and passed out at one point when my car was in the shop after a long, incomprehensible period of overheating (and ended up being a massively expensive repair). So to go and take the steps to successfully fix something on my car myself always is a combination of relief and pride.