06 May 2006

The rules of poop

Mr. Stapler was unaware of the Girls' Rules of Pooping in Public Restrooms. Apparently guys just go into a stall and let fly. Who knew pooping could be so simple? Not me!

For girls, it is different. It all boils down to (though using the phrase "boils down to" in a post about pooping is probably an unfortunate conjunction) not letting anyone know you are pooping. Why not? Because we are girls, that's why. Isn't that reason enough? You just can't.


1. Try to find a one-stall restroom.

2. If you can't obey rule #1, hold it until you get home. I know that might be 3 days, but believe me, it has been done.

3. If rules #1 and #2 are out the window, you must find an unoccupied restroom.

4. Sneak in, do your thing and get the heck out before someone sees you.
5. Under no circumstances make noise. What, do you want your girl license taken away?

6. If someone comes in, you must stop what you are doing and hold so still that you cease to exist.

7. If you are caught in the circumstances of Rule #6, you have 2 choices: flee quickly before the other person can come out of their stall and see your shameful face, or stay in the stall until they are long gone and can't identify you as a Public Pooper.

8. If you are on the way out of a stall after pooping, you may not make eye contact with anyone as you exit. If you do, you may both burst into Flames of EmbarrassmentTM.

9. You may never, ever just have pooped when your boss is entering the restroom or run into your boss if she is leaving after having pooped. If this happens, the universe collapses in on itself and all existence ceases. Please be very careful about this.

This whole post was spawned by an incident in the bathroom at work yesterday. I went in and there was a woman standing in the restroom talking to someone who was in a stall. The person in the stall was obviously pooping. And they both just kept talking.

I fled, because it was apparent to me that the Poop Police would be there any minute to drag some people off to jail, and I didn't want to get swept up with them.

Saturday night

I packed up the dog and went down to Mr. Stapler's last night. I had a story assignment for the newspaper in his town this morning so it was all very convenient. Will write for money, that's me. I can use the money. That 85 bucks will buy almost half a tank of gas!

Mr. Stapler and I get along fine now that we don't live together. We are both much cuter in small doses.

Despite what I may have said in the past, he is really a lovely person. Let me tell you a story to prove it.

A couple years ago he bought a guitar off Ebay, a 12-string electric that belonged to a professional musician whom we will call Mr. X. Mr. X had a couple hits 20 years ago or so. Mr. Stapler likes his music and really liked the guitar.

Bob, a guy Mr. Stapler had played in garage bands with back in college called to say hi and mentioned that he was working as a road manager for some musicians. One of them was Mr. X.

"Wow," Mr. Stapler said. "I own one of his old guitars." And he described it to him.

Bob went and told Mr. X that a friend of his now owned his old 12-string.

"That guitar got stolen from me in the 80's at a gig in the Valley," said Mr. X.

Mr. Stapler had tried to do due diligence before he bought the guitar. He had tracked it back to a music store, but the store had changed hands and they couldn't tell him anything about it.

"What are you going to do?" I asked Mr. Stapler.

"I have got to give it back," he said without hesitation.

He didn't have to. He had friends - one of whom is a lawyer - who told him not to. But Mr. S. never faltered. He got in touch with Mr. X and drove down and gave him his guitar back.

Yeah, it was expensive. Yeah, he didn't get a reward or any money back. No, he can't afford to replace it. But that wasn't the point. The point was that he was doing the right thing, restoring a little justice to this battered and beaten-down world. So that is what he did.

I know he will never tell this story, but I think it deserves to be told. That Mr. Stapler, he's ok. Just not to live with.

04 May 2006

Just in time for mother's day, all you moms out there can go to Salary.com and irritate yourself by calculating what your salary would be if you got paid a fair wage for everything you do. Then you can print out a check (unfortunately non-negotiable) and put it on the fridge to remind everyone.


Speaking of moms, Mrs. Fortune finally (after 9 long months) is one. She had her baby boy, Jacob, on May 2. And guess what? She had the most beautiful baby on earth! What a surprise! She is back blogging already and promises to have pictures up soon.


Apparently Rosie O'Donnell had to swear to keep her hair longer to get a job at The View. Why? It seems that short hair would remind everyone that she is, yes, a lesbian. Shocking! Does a lack of hair make you an automatic lesbian? Mrs. Kennedy , Liz at Granny Gets A Vibrator and I seem firmly planted in the hetero camp (though with me you never know - I am about as hetero-unnormative as you can get, with my Subaru Forester and my hiking boots).


Combat operations have been over in Iraq for three years now. Strange, I hadn't noticed.


If you thought Stephen Colbert's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner rocked, you can go say "thank you" to him over at Thank You Stephen Colbert.org. Almost 50,000 other people already have.


From the "Duh" file, found somewhere on the Internet that I have since forgotten:
"Sexual images subvert young men's ability to think. In a money game, men who were shown pictures of lingerie or sexy women accepted disadvantageous deals more often than did men who were shown nonsexual pictures." So when you need to go make a major purchase, ladies, dust off that halter top and save a few bucks. The oldest trick in the book.


It's Webby Awards time again. No, I'm not nominated. I'm sure that must be some kind of mistake. You can go vote for the People's Voice awards. The voting is kind of a pain. You have to enter a confirmation code for each vote, and because the anti-auto-fill-in font is so bad, you often can't tell what it is supposed to be...nevertheless, it's a good place to find good sites you haven't heard of before.


Day Six of not drinking. It's not like I was a major lush or anything, but my little glass of red wine in the evening had crept up to 2 glasses...or sometimes 3 if it was a special occasion - you know, like an odd-numbered day of the month or if I had had to listen to the guy in the next cubicle click his pen for over 4 hours that day.

I decided I wanted a better life instead of feeling all blurry at the end of the night. I wanted to be more in touch with my real emotions instead of covering them with alcohol. I wanted to give my liver a break and I wanted to walk my talk as a spiritually growing person.

I have managed to make it past the wine dept at Trader Joe's without too much difficulty. But I have to admit that this better life stuff is kind of a trudge at times. Like when I look at the empty spot where the bottle of gin used to be in the freezer, then at that basket of lonely limes.

03 May 2006

My 'hood

I live one mile from the beach. It is warm year round here. The surfing is good. The people are friendly. We have tons of great restaurants. Fresh guacamole is piled high and the tortilla chips are made fresh.

Why don't you want to live here, then?

Let me show you.

This house

A one bedroom, one bath, 576 sq ft I-kid-you-not quonset hut built in 1948 and presently located on a really ugly street is $379,000. Marked down from $390,000.

It's hard to see in the picture, but it is made of corrugated metal. This I have seen with my own eyes.

So enjoy where you are, and come here on vacation. I will take you to the fun places.

Big Vegetarian Fun

I got my photo taken with The Big Tofu at the Los Angeles Tofu Festival. Do I know how to party or what? (I'm afraid the answer is "or what.")

The good red stapler and the lame red stapler

When I signed up for this blog, I wanted the address redstapler.blogspot.com. But nooooo - take a look at the lame site to be found there.

So I have to content myself with redstapler23.blogspot.com (the 23 is for Michael Jordan, of course - because he could fly, that's why) while Mr. Exclamation Point squats on what should be my little blogspot.

Life ain't fair. It's just fairer than death, that's all.
- William Goldman

02 May 2006

How low can you go?

Check out this hatchet job that American Baby Magazine did on Mrs. Kennedy's fairly straightforward and sweet baby labor story.

What a horror. First they give her baby story a tabloid title, then they accompany it with a picture of a toilet. What a nightmare. Is it any wonder that writers don't trust editors?

01 May 2006

Girls Kick Ass!

I got a smile the other day when I read a news story yesterday about a teen girl who fought off an attacker using her karate skills. I will bet that was a surprise for Mr. Attacker.

It makes me wonder, though - if one in ten (or eight or four) women is going to be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, why the hell isn't effective self-defense taught to every junior high school girl?

It's not like we dont know how to teach effective self-defense. I know because 15 years ago I took a powerful, fabulous, life-changing class. Even after all these years, I still feel I could defend myself in many situations.

The program I went through asks all its grads to follow up with them forever if they become involved in rape or assault situations. The stats are pretty good. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the women were able to use their skills to leave the situation without harm. In some cases, the women fought back and won. In a very tiny fraction, the women made a choice to let the assailant rape them because they felt that was the best decision to preserve their lives. But even then, the women felt like they maintained some power because they had a choice.

I took the class because of my friend "Tessa". She had been incested as a child and raped as an adult. She was a nice, funny, smart person. She was also a deeply hurt person. She had the wary look of a dog that is used to being kicked and beaten. Even when everything seemed to be going ok, she expected it not to be.

She told me that she had flashbacks and recurring nightmares and night terrors about all the things that had been done to her. She had been in therapy forever. She was a recovering alcoholic and addict.

When she told me she was taking the class, I figured it was another step in her healing, like therapy and AA and NA were. I listened politely about her training, but there was nothing that made me think I would ever participate.

Then she invited me to her graduation and I went to support her. Graduation was actually the last class of the series, where all of the women in class took turns getting attacked and defeating their attackers.

I thought these attacks would be like a karate demo, with someone doing a few standing punches and kicks, no big deal.

I was so wrong. First of all, the muggers – the male teachers in the class – wore these huge padded outfits with a giant mushroom helmet that made them all look like scary undefeatable supersized space aliens.

The simulations were full-strength, full-volume rape scenarios with the muggers screaming obscenities and threatening the women. Often the women got knocked to the ground or started out lying down as if they were in bed and had awakened with someone already sitting on top of them.

Sitting in the audience, I felt like I was going to faint. The monstrous, looming, threatening muggers. The women, who looked tiny by comparison, bravely facing them, kicking and hitting not stopping until the muggers were knocked out, then bouncing up off the mat, happy and smiling. Deafening cheering from the graduates and the audience. It all made my head spin.

My face got hot and blotchy, my vision got blurred, and I burst into hard sobs a couple times when it was Tessa's turn because I knew they were re-creating scenarios that she had already lived through - except this time she got to fight back and win.

Somehow, in the midst of all that, I decided that this was something I had to do even though I didn't think I could afford it. The instructors set up a long, generous, interest-free payment plan for me.

Six weeks later, I was lying on a gym mat in my sweats on a Thursday night, my pulse racing about 160 beats per minute as I learned to elbow my attacker in the face.

The class met for the next four Saturdays and those weeks were some of the craziest and best of my life. I would get up early, cut off my fingernails so I wouldn't break them fighting. Then I would head to the dojo for hard, sweaty, emotional training.

We were taught to reach way deep inside ourselves for strength that we didn't know we had. We yelled as hard as we could, kicked as hard as we could, got knocked down and pinned down and still kept fighting.

The dozen women in my class heard each others secrets. Most had been molested or raped. One had been stalked for over five years and was so paralyzed by fear that her face muscles were immobile as a statue. We came together and supported each other, cried, sweated and fought proudly together.

It wasn't easy. It was hard. We had two serious injuries. One student dropped out from an injury. The other tore a ligament in her arm and learned to fight one-handed. I learned to fight blind, since I didn't have contacts and for safety's sake, couldn't wear glasses. I can't see my own toes without my glasses on. Fortunately, muggers are big.

But I did it. And it changed my life in so many ways. The best was that I learned to say "No," something many women never learn. Want to trample my boundaries? No. Want to keep me in a situation where I feel I am being disrespected? No. Want to sexually harass me? No, no, no.

I HIGHLY recommend Impact or Model Mugging style courses. They are expensive but WORTH IT. They teach full-contact, full-speed self-defense - they are designed to defend against the most common rape/attack scenarios. NO!

If you like the internet the way it is

Please sign MoveOn's petition to save the internet. Preserving net neutrality affects all of us users.

If you want the Internet to be like TV, with content controlled by a few large corporations with just a few dusty corners roped off for the public, do nothing.


My sis sent over this photo of why bike teams should always wear black shorts. Enough said.

Day Without an Immigrant, Ventura County style

How is the May 1 Day Without an Immigrant going where you are?

All the stores are closed on La Avenida except for one liquor store. All of them. Grocery stores, tire stores, bakeries, restaurants. The cafeteria at work was just serving grill food, no hot prepared food.

There was only about 60 percent of the usual traffic on the way home, too. This led me to think: I don't know if I would like less immigrants. But I sure as hell would love fewer people.

30 April 2006


If you hate the president (and who the heck doesn't, at this point?) head on over to Crooks and Liars and watch the video of Steven Colbert at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Ejole! Colbert tears them a new one. The room is plainly shocked to hear so much truth in one sitting. It is about time.

Warning: The video is huge and will cause you pain and suffering if you have dialup. In any case, the low-res WMP version is probably best for anyone who doesn't have a T1 line.
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