13 May 2007

i'm a bright one, mother's day, kitten, gas....

so we have this awkward 6x3 hall area between our foyer and kitchen. when we (and by we, i mean will) pulled up the carpet last year to free the hardwood flooring beneath from captivity - said area was super bizzaro. there is this funky type of particle board looking stuff nailed down. basically, it looks as if every tenant since the house was built in 1920 has just added new layers of flooring upon the old, instead of pulling it up. same in the kitchen. between the three areas, the flooring is off by about a half inch to an inch.

this particle board has nail heads and bits of staple (that have become one with the board) still poking out of it from the carpet years. over the past year, i've stepped on one of these things more than once. owie. infinity. we don't let bebe near it and we keep meaning to do SomethingAboutIt, but... a couple of days ago i took a staple to the heel. it still is smarting like you wouldn't believe. then this morning, when it happened again, i'd said, ENOUGH!

from the basement, i could see that there was a layer of tile under the board. under the tile was another layer of board. then more tile, then the hardwood floor. so i got my trusty hammer and began pulling the board up. the tile was pretty cool - 50's or 60's, i'd say. about halfway through, i noticed the tile was chipping away and had grown brittle.

"hmmmm... i wonder if they used asbestos in floor tile, " thought i. i put down my trusty hammer and went a googling. yup.

i called some dude i found in the book and asked how i could tell if it was. no way to - without having it tested. he asked if the tiles were 9x9.


he said he thought for certain they most likely were, but that floor tiles containing asbestos didn't cause too much damage. he told me stop where i was. my impromptu diy euphoria melted away into an abyss of fear. asbestos is asbestos, after all. me no like it. now not only am i certain my jaw is going to lock up and i'm going to lose my feet to gangrene due to tetanus - i just know that i'll also be coming down with mesothelioma in 20 years. kidding. kinda. no, really. kidding. *knocking on wood.*

off i went to the hardware store for new floor stuff. when i got home. i went ahead and carefully pulled the rest of the board up after realizing that if i slid a knife under the tiles, they would come up in one piece. the concensus seemed to be that it was such a small amount, it couldn't possibly do harm. i then hepa-filter vacuumed the hell out of it, for good measure. it is all out now - and i just need to figure out how to dispose of it. any ideas?

needless to say, i've spent the last 6 hours trying to put new tiles down. i had no idea it is so tricky. have i mentioned i'm not very handy? resourceful, yes. handy, no. i'll have to finish it tomorrow after work...

and that's that.

a few minutes ago i got an email urging me not to buy gas on the 15th. ?!?!?! the only way that would be remotely effective as a means to force gas companies to lower their prices would be if people stopped buying gas for months, not a day. so people fill up on monday or wednesday instead - how is that even sticking to the man? i'll tell you how. it isn't. at all. say it with me - band aids for cuts that need stitches. we need to use way less gasoline - not take a break for a day. sheesh. i'd even go as far to say that an action such as this would end up hurting the indy gas station owners more than anyone else in the food chain. it would probably be wise to get used to prices like this - the end of cheap oil is very near:

in other news, me-ine had a poop!!!! his eyes are purrrfect and he's running about and playing like a baby kitty should. yay for meine!

and as per a little tradition of mine, in the spirit of mother's day and getting back to roots, i leave you with julia ward howe's mother's day proclamation - and a perfect piece i found by ruth rosen:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of

Julia Ward Howe


Mother's Day for Peace - by Ruth Rosen.

Honor Mother with Rallies in the Streets.The holiday
began in activism; it needs rescuing from commercialism
and platitudes.

Every year, people snipe at the shallow commercialism of Mother's Day. But to
ignore your mother on this holy holiday is unthinkable. And if you are a
mother, you'll be devastated if your ingrates fail to honor you at least one
day of the year.

Mother's Day wasn't always like this. The women who conceived Mother's Day
would be bewildered by the ubiquitous ads that hound us to find that "perfect
gift for Mom." They would expect women to be marching in the streets, not
eating with their families in restaurants. This is because Mother's Day began
as a holiday that commemorated women's public activism, not as a celebration
of a mother's devotion to her family.

The story begins in 1858 when a community activist named Anna Reeves Jarvis
organized Mothers' Works Days in West Virginia. Her immediate goal was to
improve sanitation in Appalachian communities. During the Civil War, Jarvis
pried women from their families to care for the wounded on both sides.
Afterward she convened meetings to persuade men to lay aside their

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe, author of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic",
proposed an annual Mother's Day for Peace. Committed to abolishing war, Howe
wrote: "Our husbands shall not come to us reeking with carnage... Our sons
shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them
of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of
those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs".

For the next 30 years, Americans celebrated Mothers' Day for Peace on June 2.

Many middle-class women in the 19th century believed that they bore a special
responsibility as actual or potential mothers to care for the casualties of
society and to turn America into a more civilized nation. They played a
leading role in the abolitionist movement to end slavery. In the following
decades, they launched successful campaigns against lynching and consumer
fraud and battled for improved working conditions for women and protection for
children, public health services and social welfare assistance to the poor.
To the activists, the connection between motherhood and the fight for social
and economic justice seemed self-evident.

In 1913, Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day. By
then, the growing consumer culture had successfully redefined women as
consumers for their families. Politicians and businessmen eagerly embraced
the idea of celebrating the private sacrifices made by individual mothers. As
the Florists' Review, the industry's trade journal, bluntly put it, "This was a
holiday that could be exploited."

The new advertising industry quickly taught Americans how to honor their
mothers - by buying flowers. Outraged by florists who were selling carnations
for the exorbitant price of $1 a piece, Anna Jarvis' daughter undertook a
campaigning against those who "would undermine Mother's Day with their greed."
But she fought a losing battle. Within a few years, the Florists' Review
triumphantly announced that it was "Miss Jarvis who was completely squelched."

Since then, Mother's Day has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry.

Americans may revere the idea of motherhood and love their own mothers, but
not all mothers. Poor, unemployed mothers may enjoy flowers, but they also
need child care, job training, health care, a higher minimum wage and paid
parental leave. Working mothers may enjoy breakfast in bed, but they also
need the kind of governmental assistance provided by every other
industrialized society.

With a little imagination, we could restore Mother's Day as a holiday that
celebrates women's political engagement in society. During the 1980's, some
peace groups gathered at nuclear test sites on Mother's Day to protest the
arms race. Today, our greatest threat is not from missiles but from our
indifference toward human welfare and the health of our planet. Imagine, if
you can, an annual Million Mother March in the nation's capital. Imagine a
Mother's Day filled with voices demanding social and economic justice and a
sustainable future, rather than speeches studded with syrupy platitudes.

Some will think it insulting to alter our current way of celebrating Mother's
Day. But public activism does not preclude private expressions of love and
gratitude. (Nor does it prevent people from expressing their appreciation all
year round.)

Nineteenth century women dared to dream of a day that honored women's civil
activism. We can do no less. We should honor their vision with civic

Ruth Rosen is a professor of history at UC Davis.

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