Friday, July 31, 2009

a link, if you please

This is a great flashback in the history of sexist body image. In 1909, this woman lost 31 pounds to 'wear a really fashionable gown' and was subsequently divorced by her husband. The court sided with the husband.

Too funny:

Julie Pickett-Hall

Thursday, July 30, 2009

and now for something completely different

Yes, that is Will Ferrell. Posing suggestively. On his self-branded sunscreen.

What else is there to say?

Susan B Anthony of Khartoum

First up today is a story about a woman who arrested in Sudan for wearing slacks. The punishment for a woman wearing slacks is 40 lashes and an unlimited fine. Lubna Hussein is fighting her punishment in court, turning her arrest into a "test case" for whether to uphold or denounce this law in Sudan. Hussein has been publicizing her case and has invited journalists to her hearings to create some press about the issue.

She seems determined to fight this out and force the court's hand to do away with dress code laws. I was especially impressed that she is willing to resign as a UN employee so that her possible immunity would not affect the outcome of the case.

Mostly what encouraged me was this:
'Scores of women, some wearing slacks and jeans, attended the case. Some waved small placards with the slogan "Lashing people is against human rights."'

Way to be inspirational, Lubna Hussein!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

whaaaa? tanning is bad?

This doesn't seem like much of a revelation to me, but maybe it is to some people. Hard to say. In any case, very few people are going to stop tanning because a friend or family member prints out an article from CNN and waives it in their face.

If it were me, and a friend were trying to dissuade me from tanning, I would really appreciate a compassionate conversation. And maybe a free bottle of self-tanner ;).

Food for thought.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


A commenter over at The Park Bench coined this term and I think it's awesome. I too am a committed (Nathan) Fillionaire!

Just for funsies, a video.


Julie Pickett-Hall

Monday, July 27, 2009

weekend recap

Did we ever have a busy weekend! 6 kids, 2 movies, and a patio later it's back to work.

C's had his last baseball games on Friday, so that gives us some more time to finish up the patio, which is now ready for concrete. I did learn how to drive the bobcat this weekend, which was interesting. Not altogether hard, but a little unnerving when you lift the load up high to dump it. We spent all day Saturday digging, but it was a lot easier in the afternoon when things dried up.

Saturday night we rented "Confessions of a Shopaholic" which was a cute movie. Love Isla Fisher.

Sunday we went to church and lovely L brought a friend with her, and they talked about the mission trip they took last month. Everyone was reapply impressed with what they did there and what they had to say about it.

S spent the afternoon and evening Sunday dumping gravel, forming, and compacting everything for the patio so that we can have concrete poured next weekend. It will be so nice to have it all done and be able to relax back there, but I'll always know how much effort he put into building it.

Last night, D and I finally got together and watched Twilight. It's better than the book, I think. Edward is less of a creepy abuser in the movie and Kristen Stewart is very likable. Next on our list is Harry Potter 5, but we keep saying that we need to get to the library. S and I don't have kids next weekend, so we might be able to manage to get over there before next week. I also wrapped up Eclipse last night, so I'll have to start in on the last Twilight book this week.

Overall a busy weekend, but actually quite fun.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Friday, July 24, 2009

f!#@ing rape culture... grrr

So, by now we've all heard about the Roethlisberger rape case. There are so many things to hate about treatment of this case, I don't even know where to begin.

Suprise! ESPN didn't find the story worthy of news, "We don't think it meets our standard of reporting." -Vince Doria, ESPN news director

Really? This seems like a pretty big news story to me (and all other media outlets). It also seems like the kind of story that is necessary to examine so that we don't inadvertently condone rapist behavior among rich, powerful, famous sports stars. That would send a very unfortunate message, dontchathink?

Not only are we condoning this behavior in this way, but we're obscuring the fact that it happens, it's a problem, there should be certain consequences, and we need to talk about how prevalent it really is.

"When our media won't talk about rape, people think it doesn't happen, and the rapists face no consequences. That emboldens rapists." - Jaclyn Friedman
This Is What Rape Culture Looks Like

Next on the list of ire-inducing reactions: the victim blaming. Right out of the gate, you're going to get a proportionally huge number of people and media theorizing that the woman is a lying goldigger. That's original. This type of reaction makes women much less likely to come forward with serious accusations. To come forward like this is to expose yourself, your history, your mental state, your body, and your name to all manner of venomous attacks and continued victimization. The alleged perpetrater, on the other hand, is given the benefit of the doubt.

"It's her word against his, and really, who are you going to believe? The guy's a national treasure. The woman's just somebody willing to subject herself to public humiliation and intense scrutiny of her entire life in order to hold a man accountable for allegedly raping her. I think we can all agree it's obvious who's got the greater motive to lie -- that golddigging bitch! Case closed." - Kate Harding
When sports culture meets rape culture

When are we going to realize that the way we talk about rape greatly affects the possibilities for reporting and holding rapists accountable? At the very least, consider whether your teenage daughter is in the room when you call Andrea McNulty a lying slut, and then consider what you would want her to do if she were sexually assualted. I know I do.

Julie Pickett-Hall

The quick brown fox...

I'm generally a fan of woot, and I love shirt.woot for the hilarious memes and descriptions. This one was just too precious:

Bonus point for mentioning Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Quote of the Day

"If God had wanted man to play soccer, he wouldn't have given us arms."
Mike Ditka

Thursday, July 23, 2009


My awesome husband S has arranged to borrow everything we need to build out our patio over the weekend.

I'm so excited... this is a home-improvement project that we've been thinking about for a long time. The gist is that we have a concrete patio behind the house, but it's only big enough for the hot tub to sit on. No table, no chairs, just the hot tub. You can't even really open the back door without hitting the hot tub actually.

I've really wanted to expand the patio so we can move the hot tub away from the house and put our patio table out there. Just to be able to sit outside and read or eat dinner sounds so great! Plus the hot tub will still be right there, albeit on the other side of the back door.

Maybe S feels like I've been nagging him about it, but in any case he decided (in his typical impulsive way) to start in on it after work today. Sometimes his impulsiveness drives me batty, but in this case I just feel really lucky to have such a sweet hubby who would move earth for me ;).

In the end, he's got a bobcat lined up from some friends a church, a dumptruck borrowed from another friend, a load of stone coming tonight, a compacter from the plumbers on his job, a place across the street to dump the stone, AND a place to dump the dirt we dig up in the process. We have to pay for the stone, and obviously for the concrete, which will be the biggest bill of this venture. If it rains this weekend, we may have to wait until next weekend to get the concrete in, but we can dig, fill, compact, and form everything ourselves and have it all ready. I'm so excited!

We'll be having a hot tub and cookout party very soon!

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

not to belabor the point, but...

I was reading some background on what led Vyckie, of No Longer Quivering to the Quiverfull movement when I came across something that really tied into a conversation I was having with my friend A yesterday about Twilight.

The Quiverfull movement is a Christian Fundamentalist movement that encourages families to have as many children as God allows. They also stress patriarchal divisions in the household and homeschooling.

Vyckie and her husband, who were already fundamentalist, attended a "Bold Christian Living" seminar by Jonathan Lindvall:

"...he was quite radical ~ going so far as to explain that he did not allow his wife and daughters to leave the home unless they were accompanied by himself or one of his sons ~ and he also would not let his girls have driver's licenses because he wanted to protect them from the possibility of having to serve on jury duty which might entail their being forced to listen to all the sordid details of the lawbreakers' sin and debauchery. Interestingly, at the time ~ Lindvall's isolation and control of his wife and daughters did not come across as abusive at all ~ he seemed genuinely loving ~ protective and considerate ~ hearing him speak inspired me to wish I had such a strong, decisive, capable husband to take care of me and my children."

This was so reminiscent of the Bella-Edward dynamic that I couldn't help myself. Every time something like this popped up in Twilight, I had to set the book down for a moment and encourage myself. So I was especially shocked when A hadn't seemed to notice the damaging relational undertones to the situation. She didn't pick up on the underlying potential for abuse, and that really confused me. Maybe I'm more sentitive to the precursers for abuse, and maybe that's why I've never ended up in an abusive relationship.

Growing up in a small, conservative, rural town, it seems like a lot of people I know have endured at least moderate abuse of some form or another, and I've always felt so greatful that I've avoided this particular pitfall.

It really makes me wonder, are certain people more able to naturally detect abusive patterns, or is this something that can be learned? Shouldn't we be teaching teenagers these patterns? Whether it does any good or not, I really hope to use Bella and Edward as a teaching tool for the teenagers in our house.

I'm determined that if it's a learned skill, then these children will learn it now, before they set their own patterns for life.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Twilight, New Moon

Just finished up New Moon (Twilight was last week), and wanted to get some thoughts down before I read more and get the books all muddled in my head.

I personally find that the whole Edward-Bella thing is very strange and unhealthy. To quote one article, "one of modern fiction’s best candidates for a restraining order."

I'm right there with this reviewer. I didn't connect to Edward at all, and instead was constantly put off by his sparkly, manipulative tactics. I do really worry that young teenage girls who moon over these books are getting a really bad impression of a realistic relationship.

I'm also sick of reading about how "grown up" and "mature" Bella is for her age, when she clearly acts like a petulant ass of a child most of the time. Girls, really: you should not moon endlessly over someone you met like a week ago. You should never choose to spend every waking moment with a boy, or even think the words, "You're my whole life now." BARF! If I ever hear lovely L or her girls say anything like that I'm going to go all Buffy on any teenage boy within a 5-mile radius (just to make sure).

Also girls, you are smart and beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Bella is as boring as a cardboard box, and boring, self-conscious people don't stand out in a crowd. Dreamy, otherworldly boys are going to be drawn to confident, smart young women like yourselves, so live it up.

Lastly, you will go through breakups. It happens, and it's not the end of the world. Pick yourself back up and go play with the throng of other handsome, otherworldly (wolfy) boys that follow you around like puppy dogs.

Up to this point, Jacob is a great character. He clearly makes Bella feel less broken as a person and gives her butterflies in a natural, unmanipulative way. I'm sad to hear that he gets an asshole-personality transplant in the next book, but what can you do.

One more link to share:

I'm not saying that books are a bad read or that they "suck" persay, but they should be consumed with a balanced diet of actually strong heroines and a critical eye to damaged relationships. The story is compelling, if nothing else.

"... and then Buffy staked Edward. The End."

Julie Pickett-Hall

worst week

This has been a comically bad week so far, which is notable for only being Tuesday. It seems like every so often, I just have a series of memory lapses that are pretty troublesome. A few months ago I had the household accounts completely screwed up because I kept forgetting to pay things and transfer money from here to there.

This week so far, I've locked my keys in the car with the headlights on... leaving me stranded in the parking lot of the store with two gallons of milk, one of which was badly leaking. I then tripped and hurt myself, which I never do. When I finally got home I sat down to read a book, and the dog peed on me, which is also incredibly unusual. Our dog is very well-trained for a lapdog and goes out several times a day.

Lastly, this morning I managed to somehow lose my wedding ring. I can't even remember the last place I took it off, but I'm about 75% sure that it's in the house somewhere. I grabbed a replacement from my jewelry box before I ran out the door this morning, which made me realize that I also don't know where I put my mother's wedding ring. This could be a problem. I may be spending the next week tearing apart the house and every purse or bag I own looking for both rings.

So far I've managed to stay positive, but I can only anticipate more problems over the next few days. What other terrors will this week bring?

Update: I've actually found both rings. Mom's ring was actually in a reasonable and easy-to-find place, and my ring was behind the headboard. I must have lost it in my sleep, which stinks... it doesn't normally slip off.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Monday, July 20, 2009

weekend update

No luck getting the first Twilight movie this weekend, my friend D hurt her back and wasn't able to hang out. I did see my sister, watch C play baseball (while my hubby coached), went to a big local tractor-pull where my BIN was pulling his A-C in the 9k stock class for the first time this year. I think he was pretty nervous, but he did really well and got 2nd place.

Sunday we went to the 4-H fair where lovely L was showing the alpaca that she has been training with all summer. They won 2nd in showmanship and were Champions of the obstacle course! She also got a champion ribbon for her photography exhibit, which really was beautiful. Also while we were there, my nephew Cm won his tractor pull. We watched from the hill and he did a really great job, I think he won his class by 40 feet, and he's always the youngest one there (12).

Anyhow, it was a busy but very nice weekend. It's nice to be able to hang out with the hubby and actually do things together.

Hopefully I can get with D this week and watch HP 5 or Twilight1. I did have some time this weekend to blast through most of New Moon and hopefully I can finish that up in the next few days... more on the Twilight series later.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I heart Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter has an opinion piece in the Guardian, and it makes want to love him to pieces:

Titled The words of God do not justify cruelty to women, Carter speaks of his own struggle to release himself from the bonds of the Southern Baptist Church when they used specific verses from the Bible to ordain that women are lesser in the eyes of God.

"This was in conflict with my belief - confirmed in the holy scriptures - that we are all equal in the eyes of God."

Carter goes on, talking about religion in general as well as accepted, ingrained cultural attitudes that have the same effect and are driven by a willingness within the upper echelon of all religious groups to maintain this status quo:

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. It is widespread... Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries."

"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter."
(emphasis mine)

He goes further to talk about the effects. Besides the obvious: rape, slavery, mutilation, differences in education and earning ability, Carter notes that this is a problem that affects everyone in profound ways.

"It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for everyone in society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family."

Carter, along with a group called the Elders including the likes of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Muhammad Yunus, Kofi Annan, as well as Gro Brundtland, Mary Robinson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Graca Machel and Ela Bhatt, are calling for religious leadership to take a promonent role in ensuring equality and human rights.

"We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share."

What a great way to end the week. It's nice to go into the weekend feeling inspired and strong!

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

Go in Peace and have a great weekend.
Julie Pickett-Hall


On Dead Like Me (which I've been watching on Hulu), they imply that pet reapers are all children. That makes some sense to me, since I think a child would have a hard time coming to terms with taking the souls of people. But on the other hand, doesn't that seem cruel? A lot of children have a hard time with the loss of a pet. Maybe it's nice for them that they get to see the pet move on, but watching a bunch of pets die just seems like it would be sad for a child.

Nevermind that this means pets have souls, and the whole thing really raises the question of how these pet-reapers are replaced...

Maybe just dealing with cute pets all day would be nice though, unless you have old, angry lapdogs and the like.

I love the show anyway, but I hate being reminded that my pets are going to die.

Julie Pickett-Hall

movie night

Went and watched Public Enemies last night with D. It was a fairly good movie, and mostly historically accurate. I like how the public was so adoring of John Dillinger in the movie, but I'm not sure they went too deep into why that was.

D noticed that much of the movie was in extreme close-up, and I agree with that. It sort of made you feel like leaning back through most of it. All-in-all there were a lot of close-up and car scenes, and not very much development of characters other than Depp and Bale.

My absolute favorite scene was in the jailhouse between Depp and Bale. They had a short conversation, but it was very smart and snarky.

D and I might try and get the first Twilight movie this weekend to watch, since neither of us has seen it and we've both read the book. We might also look for Harry Potter 5, which D has never seen, so we can see 6 sometime soon. I haven't seen so many movies in years! It's so nice to have friends in town again.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jillian Michaels free video

I really like Jillian Michaels, and have 3 of her videos. The way she combines moves is really hard, but it makes a huge difference. Here is a taste of her style and some moves you can try:

Julie Pickett-Hall

...more court shenanigans

Turns out that story about the lawyer and his shoes is more interesting than I thought. The link I included then links to a Palm Beach newspaper, where we have the following two articles:

It appears that the discussion of the first article about the shoes of the defense attorney gave him the out to claim a mistrial on the basis that he was defamed by the article.

There's a lot going on here. The hand-wavers claim that the issue at hand is the dissemination of information about the case. The writer points out that this information is not private:

"Why? Because the court's are open to the public, and with rare exceptions, what goes on in the courthouse is not subject to whims of trial participants who may or may not want anybody looking over their shoulders."

Anything that's filed in the clerk's office and not marked specifically confidential is public record. The fact that people don't generally know, and that they don't walk down to the courthouse and inspect those public records, does not mean that publishing those records is a bad idea, or that the case "should" be closed before that information is revealed. Public inspection of those records has always been central to the very creation of these local offices, and the fact that it's inconvenient to carry out those inspections is probably a bad thing, not a convenience or a quality to be lauded.

There's another claim here, that the writer was wrong to publish anything about the case, and that it was his responsibility to prevent the jurors from seeing the article.

Lastly, I think the writer does a great job of pointing out that the defense attorney was simply using the tools and circumstance available to him to avoid a $2.2 million personal injury verdict. Because he's smart, and that's his job.

I find it hard to believe that the defense attorney would stand behind his assertion of defamation in any other circumstance, given his initial reaction to the writer. Also the fact that this was circulating around the legal community well before the writer posted his article, really leads me to think that the legal community thrives on a false secrecy, and would really prefer court proceedings to be completely confidential to protect themselves.

What would happen if the public at-large inspected these records regularly? I suspect we would have a more accountable legal system, they way it was intended.

Julie Pickett-Hall

shoes in court

A number of completely different stories about shoes in the courtroom have landed in front of me lately, which is terribly odd. Simply had to share!

This is an article about a motion to force counsel to wear shoes without holes in them, which is kind of funny:
The holier-than-thou shoes were apparently 'lucky'.

Next we have an article about women's attire in the courtroom, which includes railing against impractical but fashionable shoes:

The last one is my favorite for a number of reasons. This is an article about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, capturing her reactions to criticism of Sonia Sotomayer:
In it, Ginsburg responds to the notion that the men of the court will be unable to 'kick off their shoes' with women around, which she notes is unlikely, given that she is also apt to kicking off her shoes behind the bench. In fact, if she is slow to rise from her seat on the bench, people seem to worry that she's frail while she's actually searching under her desk for a lost shoe so that she can stand.

I'm not immune to the siren call of gorgeous but unlivable shoes, but I like to think that I keep it fairly reasonable. Wedges are a girl's best friend. In the end, it really seems that we like to think shoes *mean* something about the person or what they're trying to present, at the very least we try and construct that meaning for ourselves in our own wardrobe.

Do our shoes define us, or do we merely want them to? Do we judge shoes as harshly as we judge the cars that people drive? Really, just what's up with all the shoes in the blogosphere these days?

free stuff

Ok, it sounds hokey, but I troll around all over the internet for free stuff, coupons, whatever....

A few sites I really like (because I just cashed in on both of them) are swagbucks and epoll. Epoll is a survey system, they send you survey links via email and you build up points for each survey you take. I've just ordered a $10 amazon certificate with my points, so it works well, but the points take a while to build up. Since it's all email-based though, it's really worth it.

Swagbucks is a big thing right now, and the $5 amazon certificates are really easy to get. You should be able to get about one a month, but I haven't been that lucritive yet.

It's sad, but I also troll for online giveaways and such. I did actually win a workout DVD from sparkpeople earlier this year, but I think that's the only thing I've ever won! Sometimes it feels so dirty, selling out my email address for a chance at free stuff, but I've found a lot of sites I really love. Sparkpeople is quirky, but they have some great articles, motivation, and a really interesting blog. Check it out sometime.

Julie Pickett-Hall

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

to do or don't

It seems like people are endlessly trying to quantify what makes a marriage last and what prompts a marriage to fail. I don't really think it's that simple... There are some things that only a stranger can observe about your relationship, and some things that nobody else will ever grasp or understand.

This article is a little depressing for me, with a hubby who is older, with children from a previous (failed) marriage. These researchers would claim that we are doomed to fail, but obviously I don't think so.

In any case, I think it's fascinating how much we are willing to do to quantify what makes a good marriage with research and statistics, but sometimes we're so unwilling to do the simple (ok maybe difficult) things that keep a marriage viable, like communicate well. I do this myself sometimes, so it's not shocking, just telling.

Not trying to make a point about culture at-large, just musing to myself about where this all fits in the marriage debate.

Julie Pickett-Hall

pop quiz

Who plays Young Simon in a flashback episode of Firefly? (Hint, it's this person's very first acting cred on IMDB).

I was watching this episode last night with the hubby and can't believe I'd never noticed that actor before. Actually, he seemed oddly familiar, and then I caught his name in the credits.

Anyhow, I've been trying to slowly introduce the hubby to Joss Whedon... and Firefly is the most manly of the really good options. He's getting into it I think, so hopefully someday soon we'll be sharing a mutual love of all things Buffy. Baby steps.

Hulu has all the episodes of Firefly right now, which is awesome. If you need a refresher, indulge yourself:

Julie Pickett-Hall

hello world

Welcome to my blog. This is a new, general, multi-purpose blog, for my rantings and to collect information and thoughts that I want to put out there or keep around for a while.

Topics I'm interested in:
- classic and contemporary literature
- sewing
- jewelry-making
- finances
- couponing
- learning in general

I don't plan to spend a ton of time updating, but I love to write. Hopefully my life is interesting enough to have things to write about.... otherwise I'll just be posting links to external interesting things!

Julie Pickett-Hall