Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tooth

There is more news about the political situation in Wisconsin. With these recent developments, if Wisconsin were a movie, I would say the plot is getting overly complex. Just like when I watch one of those complicated intrigue movies, I can still differentiate the good guys from the bad guys in Wisconsin but I'm having trouble understanding how certain events fit into the overall narrative. I think it's time for a mind-clearing car chase, hopefully involving the capitol steps. I also feel a love scene might be appropriate. In a hot tub.

Changing the topic -- the kids will be up any minute and I'll make my extremely healthy breakfast, which is oatmeal with a banana, flax seed, wheat germ, and walnuts. I fully expect this breakfast to be the reason I will live to be at least 100 (although the amount of brown sugar I pile on top might dial that number back to 97 or so). Having kids has meant that I have developed a lot of healthy habits, some of them semi-unwillingly, to act as a role model.

One example is toothbrushing. Stella got a "tooth timer" from the dentist to help her brush her teeth for a full two minutes. I brush my teeth at the same time as her, and let me officially report that two minutes is way, way way too long to brush your teeth for. Two minutes is an ETERNITY of tooth brushing.When I am in the midst of a two-minute toothbrushing stretch, two minutes seems like enough time to accomplish many other important tasks, like picking up all the toys or maybe climbing Mount Everest without a Sherpa, which is about as complicated as figuring out where all the toys go, although I grant you that you don't need supplemental oxygen while trying to cram all the doll clothes into one drawer. At any rate, no Sherpas would be available anyway, because they'd all be flossing.

Two minutes! Can my teeth even take that kind of brushing? I'm a little worried that if I brush my teeth for a whole two minutes twice a day, I might erode my teeth to the point where they become little white nubs, and I'd have to take the walnuts out of my oatmeal since I couldn't chew them with my marshmallow-like teeth. (The question of whether I could actually chew marshmallows with my marshmallow-like teeth is an important one that remains unanswered.)

I'm wondering now if perhaps the two minutes that Stella is supposed to spend brushing her actually represent the amount of tooth-brushing she is supposed to be doing over a lifetime. Because that would make a lot more sense.

Stella is actually pretty interested in brushing her teeth these days, possibly in part because she knows she needs healthy teeth if she's going to be at the top of her game in biting her brother. This is part of months-long scientific experiment she has designed in which she continually applies negative external stimuli to Baby W via her (non-decayed) teeth, and measures the results. Don't you get it? I ask her. It's obvious -- when you bite the baby, he cries! In reply, she points out that once upon a time people thought it was obvious that flies spontaneously generated from rotten meat, and that only repeated experiments with reproducible results can help advance the field of science. I am looking forward to her completing peer review and getting published so we can end this experiment, although she's certainly welcome to re-use her data for as many articles as she would like. I am hoping to be listed as a co-author, along with the Sherpa.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cookie

The political situation in Wisconsin has fallen out of the national news, but let me tell you that here in the land of beer and cheese (oh, and SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIPS, don't want anybody to forget that) things just get weirder and weirder. To catch up: The bill that guts public sector unions in the state has a temporary restraining order prohibiting it from going into effect, at least in the short term. But the Republicans think they found a loophole and have declared the law in effect, although there is far from agreement on that topic.

Let's try an analogy to explain it: It's as if the drunken boyfriend (who in this case would be the Republicans) read the restraining order against him and decided that although it said he was supposed to keep away from the house, it doesn't say anything about the garage, so he shows up and starts mooning to his girlfriend, (who in this case would be, I guess, the bill) "Hey baby, can't we let bygones be bygones, that quorum never meant nothing to me anyhow," and then the cops show up, (who in this case would be, uh, -- boom! That's the sound of this analogy collapsing.)

So we might be having a constitutional crisis in this state, but at least there's always Girl Scout cookies. Or not. I got this email from David after he took the kids to a visit to his folks in Appleton.
My mom sent some Girl Scout cookies home with strict instructions not to let Stella eat them on the way home. They were meant for you. I did not let Stella eat the cookies on the way home. Nonetheless, they are gone.
They were probably Thin Mints, too, which stand head and shoulders above other Girl Scout cookies. The king of cookies, if you will. And they come in handy serving portions, where one sleeve = one serving.

While David and the cubs were gone, I had a whole evening to myself, which hasn't happened in a coon's age (where Stella = coon). I spent that time purging the last vestiges of maternity clothes from my closet. I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed at the number of baggy maternity sweaters I was still wearing 11 months (and 40 lbs) later. The problem is, when I choose my clothes for the day, I don't ask myself questions like "What clothes suit my mood today?" or "What fits well?" or even "What has the minimal socially acceptable number of stains?" No, I ask myself "What's on top of the pile?" And also, maybe, "What happens if I am recruited by the CIA and as part of an anti-terrorism effort, I am called upon to smuggle an entire frozen turkey under my shirt into a secure location?" Taking the maternity clothes out of my closet may yet cost me my chance to serve my country. But it will all be David's fault. Really, he should have left me some cookies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shakespeare

Stella told me that her ballet teacher read her class the story of Romeo and Juliet. Oh really? Romeo and Juliet made palatable for five year olds? How does THAT story go?
"Well, they fall in love." Right. Then what?
"Their families are fighting! They want to get married but can't!" Okay, so far this jives with what I remember from 9th grade, although mostly what sticks in my mind from back then is that the English teacher had to explain all the dirty jokes in the text to us, which is pretty ironic considering we were obsessed with dirty jokes. Any off-color joke you need to actually explain to 14 year olds is either far too complex for anybody's good or has simply passed its mid 17-th century expiration date.
"Juliet gets a sleeping potion." Yesssss?  And then what? Because as I recall, this is where the play gets especially heavy on the dirt naps.
"They run away together. The end."

This reminds me of the St. Patrick's Day parade last weekend, which I attended with some friends who have a boy Stella's age. Before the parade began, a guy skated by all the kids and families lined up on the sidewalk waiting for the huge parade. He was waving a huge American flag and wearing a bright red shirt that read, in capital letters, "FUCK WALKER." In case you have been living in a hole -- or Illinois, which we here in Wisconsin consider the equivalent -- I will tell you that this is a reference to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who's not exactly vying with Aaron Rodgers for my favorite Cheesehead of the year. I was trying to explain the political goings-on in Wisconsin to my mother, and I was struck by how much recent events here resembled a day-time soap opera: "The Governor introduced a bill gutting public sector unions and the Democrats fled the state to deny the Senate a quorum and they Republicans managed to pass the bill anyway, but now a judge has said that they might have done so illegally, and when Ricky wakes up in the hospital the first thing he wants to know is if Samantha really is his long-lost half-brother after a sex-change operation because if so, they're going to have to get the marriage annulled."

At any rate, the FUCK WALKER skater met with a variety of responses. Some parade-watchers gave him the thumbs-up signs, while others, particularly parents of kids who can read, were not thrilled. My friend gave the skater a big round of applause and when his kid asked the reason why, my friend said, "Well. He had a big American flag and I like the flag." Then Romeo and Juliet run away together. The end.

In a story not quite as tragic as Romeo and Juliet, Baby W got his first haircut this weekend. My mother and sister trimmed his bangs, and if you are wondering if it takes two adults to snip what amounts to about six or seven hairs total, they answer is a definite yes, particularly if the hairs are on the head of an 11-month old. They did a nice job and now his hair is out of his eyes, although I'm a little said that he is not able to rock out the Justin Bieber look anymore. The haircut makes him look more like a toddler and less like a baby. (Here I am referring to Baby W, not Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber looks like a baby no matter how his hair is cut.) Baby W is growing up! It won't be long before he'll be reading Romeo and Juliet for himself. I'll ask him to explain all the dirty jokes to me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Attachment

David and I try to practice Attachment Parenting, which is supposed to give your kids the loving foundation they need to grow into secure, emotionally functional adults. But we're discovering the downside, which is that in the meantime is that the kids are very, you know, attached. Perhaps you'll think less of me for saying this, but there are times that I wish we had instead tried to practice Give Me A Little Space Parenting. Many of those times involve a toilet. (Stella often complains that she "gets lonely" when she is going to the bathroom, and I guess she tries to make sure that I will not suffer the same horrible fate.)

Just like his sister, Baby W is a cuddle bug and likes to be close to me, particularly at night. This works great if you want to spend the night nursing and thinking about how sweet the baby is, how tight the bond of love is between us, and how fleeting childhood is. If you would like to spend the night actually sleeping, though, it works like crap.

It doesn't help that Baby W has developed an aversion to his co-sleeper, which I think of as sort of like a three-sided crib strapped to the side of my bed, but which Baby W obviously thinks of as Sing Sing. He usually starts whimpering the moment I put him in the co-sleeper, although last night he started whimpering right as I was lowering him in, before he was even technically "in" his co-sleeper. I pointed out that his actions violate Rule 147.2(a)(7) of the Parent-Child Governance code, which states that a child cannot start complaining about being left alone until said event has actually transpired. However this rule is rarely enforced, which is good, because if it were the prisons would be even fuller than they already are, and what's more they would be full of babies, which means The Shawshank Redemption would be a totally different movie.

The kids waking up all night long and wanting to snuggle makes it difficult for David and I to find time to do our own snuggling, if you know what I mean. When I see people with three or four kids, I want desperately to ask them how?? How did they actually have the opportunity to engage in the act that would be necessary to conceive those younger kids? Perhaps it was all done by post-it note, which is how things get done around our house. (I picture a vial left on the dining room table, with a note: "Pls use b4 10AM for optimum sperm motility. Best of luck, xoxo, P.S. can you defrost chckn for dinner?")

On the other hand, the difficulty of finding time to slip away with David means that our circumstances are perfect for me to declare my intention of pursuing secondary virginity, which is the idea that even if you engaged in premarital sex, you can abstain from sexual activity and renew your purity. Of course, it is not easy to achieve secondary virginity. One website I looked at urged people considering secondary virginity to "avoid intense hugging and passionate kissing" and warned that "anything beyond a brief, simple kiss can quickly become dangerous." Rest assured there are minimal dangers to my secondary virginity on that front. In other words, I'm in like Flynn!

Attachment parenting or not, I'm committed to getting Stella to sleep in her own bed, and hoping that Baby W will not nurse quite so often at night. While I'm at it, I'm also hoping that Stella will stop stomping on her brother's hands and that Baby W will stop pinching my waist flab between his fingers while he nurses. I will call this course of action Give Me A Break Parenting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Frightened

Stella is really enjoying being scared of things recently. The other day as we were walking downtown, she whimpered and clutched my hand. Turns out she was afraid of the cigarette butts on the sidewalk. So Stella will never be a hipster, since a hipster who doesn't smoke is no kind of hipster at all. Madison does support a respectable hipster population, though until we tag and release a few more specimens, it won't be clear whether it qualifies as a breeding colony, but I really saw the hipsters in their natural element on a visit to family in Portland last year. At the time, we had a spirited discussion about whether it is possible to be both a hipster and obese. (No.) My cousin also pointed out that a true mark of a hipster is that their clothes go from least expensive to most expensive, from top to bottom. So the hipster hat is a trucker cap he found by the side of the road, the scarf cost $6 at Goodwill, and by the time you get down to the boots, they're going to run $200 or so.

Stella is also freaked out by some glow-in-the-dark planets that she herself stuck up on the wall of her bedroom with sticky-tack. She was particularly frightened by Uranus, and couldn't stop talking about it. She repeatedly declared that "Uranus is creepy." Got that? URANUS IS CREEPY! Well, I've always thought so but I never expected other people to remark on my personal anatomy. Thank you, Stella, for providing me with additional opportunities to demonstrate that I have the sophisticated sense of humor of a fifth grade boy.

This would probably be the right time to mention that she is learning about space at preschool right now, so I made my own scientific contribution to the curriculum by teaching her the 'Girls go to Mars to get more candybars/Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider' rhyme. By doing so, I am following in the footsteps of thousands of years of mothers and daughters who pass hard-earned wisdom down by mouth through the generations. I'm also following in the footsteps of my third grade friend Jamie who taught me that couplet in the first place.

Baby W is doing well except that I have had to break it to him that the Wisconsin Governor and Legislature hates babies. Recent legislation severely restricted collective bargaining rights for public employees, and as part of that debate I have heard a lot of angry rhetoric about public employees "suckling at the teat" of taxpayers. Baby W is taking this insult personally since he prides himself on his impressive teat-suckling skills, and just in case I've forgotten his remarkable prowess, wakes me up several times a night to remind me. I know there's a lot of overheated political opinions out there right now, but I'm unclear on how it vilifies a class of people to imply that they engage in an activity that bestows the life-long health benefits that nursing does. Perhaps next the public employees will have their reputation dragged through the mud and likened to trans-fat avoiders, regular exercise, or fish-oil takers.

I've been posting a lot about Wisconsin, which might be boring to some who aren't familiar with the state. Feel free to tune out and go read some Texas blog, but keep in mind they use illegal migrant labor to write their blogs, minimum wage laws are routinely flouted, and the writers are exposed to hazardous, possibly cancer-causing pesticides and herbicides. And worst of all, their boots don't cost anywhere near $200.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roads

The kids are sick. So what's new? Sometimes we adults manage to dodge the the germs and sometimes we don't, but I often feel like I should just have the kids cough directly into my mouth so as to end the suspense. Due to excess booger production, Stella is picking her nose even more than usual these days, if that's possible. After months of hounding her about the habit, we've now gotten to the point where she sometimes puts a blanket over her head before picking her nose. Victory! I try to tell myself she is merely practicing her fine motor skills, as she lovingly rolls her new-found treasures between her fingers.

Speaking of victory, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has succeeded in passing legislation severely restricting collective bargaining rights of public employees, and increasing the contributions they are required to make towards their fringe benefits. He's also proposed a cut of more than $800 million to public schools. In general I think this is bad news, very bad news, but I'm trying to find a silver lining and I think I've got one: the number of highly-qualified babysitters who will work for peanuts is going to absolutely go through the (poorly maintained due to years of budget restrictions and deferred maintenance) roof. Think about it -- all those teachers getting laid off and looking for work when there is none! They will be POUNDING at my door, master's degree diplomas in hand, begging me to let them watch Stella and Baby W. They will be welcome to try to collectively bargain with me, just so long as they are clear that I will pay them in pocket lint.   For benefits, they are free to eat any unidentified food-like substances that they pick off the baby, something I catch myself absent-mindedly doing all the time.

The one area where the governor is proposing that Wisconsin spend its money is state highways. To sum up the governor's proposed budget: Down with schools, up with roads. Again, I'm trying to find a silver lining and I think I've found one -- forget biotech, truck driving is going to be THE growth industry of the future in Wisconsin. We are planning to save a lot of money by having Stella skip college and instead learn how to keep the shiny side up and the greasy side down. (This is trucker slang I picked up from one of Stella's library books.) Given how nice our roads are going to be in this state, it's definitely not too early to get even Baby W started on his CDL certification. He will also have to learn to refer to state highway patrol officers as "smokeys," but surely that's not too much of a sacrifice to make to help the state balance its books.

I just did some research on the internet to see how much truck drivers earn, and it looks like they average just under $40,000 a year. That's not bad, although I'm sure driving a truck can be hard, boring work. If there are truck drivers out there who are looking to make a change, I know a place that's hiring where you never get lonely and things are always different from day to day. The pay isn't great, but it's the benefits that really pull you in -- those bits of crud you pick off the baby can be really delicious.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sparrow

Yesterday I was picking up the living room so I could vacuum and I found a dead sparrow behind the recliner. This raises several questions, namely:

1) How long had the dead bird been there without me noticing? This bird could have died long before I saw it. Perhaps the bird has lain there quite a while, and due to the, uh, frugal temperature at which we keep our house, the bird became mummified much the same way people who lived thousands of years ago occasionally become mummified in the cold air of the upper Alps. Our sparrow would be like Ötzi the Iceman, but with feathers. Perhaps if we dissect the contents of its stomach, our bird can give an unprecedented view of avian diet in the Chalcolithic era.

This mummification theory was advanced by my mother, who is coming to visit in two weeks. When she starts casting meaningful glances towards the thermostat, I am going to really enjoy telling her to put on a sweater.

2) I need to pick up more often. This is not a question. This is a certainty.

3) How did the bird get into the house and how did it die? I have two cats, but they are not allowed outside, and I have a hard time picturing them doing harm to a bird. These cats are not fearsome predators. They spend their day and night meowing at the top of their lungs for no apparent reason.

These cats would be excellent guests on Crossfire or other political shouting debate-style television shows due to their ability to drown out opposing views. It would go like this:  "We need to break the power of the public unions because -- " "Meow." "--overpaid public employees who --" "MEOW." "-- unfunded pension liabilities --" "MEOW MEOW MEEEEOOOOW MEOW."

Perhaps their ear-splitting incessant meowing created powerful sound waves that crushed the bird's brain, much the same way that shock waves can be used to shatter kidney stones.

In news unrelated to dead birds, we are finally getting some traction in getting Stella to sleep in her own bed. Since we are hippie attachment-parenting wusses, I have tried to not use rewards as a parenting tool. But I finally caved and bought a box of peanut M&Ms to use in convincing Stella that it is okay to sleep as much as five, possibly even a whole six centimeters away from me on a separate mattress in the same room. 
The results have been phenomenal. Four days into the experiment, and she's already occasionally sleeping the whole night in her bed! Why did I come so late to understanding the power of chocolate-covered peanuts as bribes? I could have potty trained her in 45 minutes if I had taken advantage of the help offered by the Mars Company. Bribing African dictators with chocolate instead of weaponry would be cheaper, more effective, and less morally repellent, although occasionally stickier. And how many M&M bribes would it take to ensure peace in the Middle East?  A lot, I suspect, but not as many as it would take to get my cats guest slots on one of those political debate television shows. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Luck

There's still lots of protests going on in Wisconsin, in part in reaction to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's plan to cut three-quarters of a billion dollars from public schools. The other side is starting to push back, though, and last night we got a recorded robo-call on our answering machine warning us of "angry radicals" rioting at the Capitol. I am actually kind of excited to be referred to as an angry radical, and I am downright touched that they were generous enough to overlook the fact that I don't own a single pair of Birkenstocks. With two kids, a husband, a job and a mortgage, if I'm radically anything these days, it's radically boring -- so I was buoyed by the knowledge that at least someone considers me a danger. (Other than David, who of course considers me dangerously sexy.)

A reporter picked me out of the protesting crowd to interview, and my quote was included in a Reuters article that appeared on the New York Times website. My friends were amazed, given that there were by some estimates 100,000 people at the protest that day -- how did I manage to get picked out of the crowd? I had to explain to them the concept of The Cornelius Luck. Basically, when it comes to random occurrences, I and some other people in my family are extremely lucky. In fact, whenever I buy a raffle ticket and I don't win something, I'm befuddled and secretly suspect the drawing of being fixed. Every year I buy a ticket to the Big Brothers Big Sisters raffle, which has a grand prize of $50,000 and every year when I don't win, I go around glaring at people because SOMEBODY STOLE MY MONEY.

Some versions of the Reuters article that quoted me included a reference to my 10-month old son "Walton." I think Baby W (whose name is Walter) should demand a retraction. I mean, I know the public educational system in this state is going to be massively defunded, that we should expect extensive layoffs in local government, and health care for low-wage workers is going to be cut back. But by golly, there is some good news in this state, and that is that I DID NOT NAME MY SON WALTON. Let's take the silver linings where we find them.

At first I thought it was a problem that my is baby named Walter, since his name is just one letter different from Governor Walker's. But then I realized the potential for amusing Freudian slips. For example, I accidentally wrote in an email that the baby has a bad cold and "the twin tracks of greenish snot creeping out Walker's nose sometimes reach all the way to his chin." There's also lots of potential for diaper-related jokes -- something along the lines of Walker needing a change due to offensive load he's carrying. (You work out the exact wording for yourself, okay? I can't do everything around here.) Now I am going to type a bunch of capital letters because THAT'S HOW I ENDED THE PREVIOUS TWO PARAGRAPHS, AND I LIKE TO DO THINGS IN THREES.

I'm afraid that whatever becomes of all this strife, the state of Wisconsin will never be the same. I'm afraid that we'll lose our tradition of innovation in governmental service delivery, of protecting our neediest, and strengthening our middle class. Things could be worse, I guess. All these changes could be driven by a governor named WALTON.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Solution

For our flight to New Zealand, I wound up investing in a portable DVD player and a few classic Tom and Jerry DVDs. That was easily the best $75 I have ever spent in my life (except for the extra money I pay to have the vet make home visits, after I realized my cats were so scared of the car ride that they tend to poop all over themselves in terror while in the carrier and then leap directly into my arms once released).

Stella was entranced by the cartoons, making the very long flight so incredibly easy that I estimate the DVD player added 6 or 7 months to my life. If you do the math (a job I outsourced to an Indian subcontractor, since as a product of American schools I can't actually do it myself) that comes out to about $10 per month of additional life expectancy. Talk about a great rate of return! I think the "individual mandate" provision in Obama's health care plan should refer not to a requirement to carry individual health insurance but to own a portable DVD player and  maybe a couple of Warner Brothers DVDs. Our health care costs would plummet, there'd be no more need for health care reform, and we could find something else to call each other Nazis over. There's so many less-prominent controversies out there that it sees only fair to give some of the other issues a chance to divide us. Here's one -- proposed eradication of the Mediterranean fruit fly. Ready, set, polarize!

Look how naturally the topic led to proposed restrictions on public unions in Wisconsin! A lot has been said about Governor Scott Walker's efforts to slash take-home pay for public employees and break public sector unions, but I have a theory that I haven't heard advanced anywhere else. It goes like this: One week after the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl and a wave of good feeling unites all cheeseheads, the Governor kills the euphoria with his contentious proposal. That can't be a coincidence. Do you see where I'm going with this? Look, I don't want to point fingers, but somebody's got to say it: I think the Governor might be a member of the Chicago Bears in disguise.

But back to Tom and Jerry. I bought a disc of "classic" cartoons for Stella to watch on the flight to New Zealand, with "classic" apparently being code for "shockingly racist." Many of the episodes include a housekeeper character, a black woman shown only from the neck down who shuffles around in slippers and patched socks, with an enormous rear end the size of a Toyota Yaris. I thought about talking with Stella about  how this woman was portrayed, but then I would also have to discuss with her a whole lot of other things, like why it wouldn't be funny in real life if a cat accidentally ate a nail which then got attracted to a giant magnet  held by a mouse. And how in the real world, it's actually quite painful when your eyes bo-i-i-ng out of your head.

During our travel to New Zealand, Stella easily watched as many cartoons as she has in her entire life so far. The result was that she was cheerful, easy to work with, and a joy to be around. I think our experience could hold some lessons for how to resolve the impasse in Wisconsin. I hope that Governor Walker will listen to the voices of Wisconsinites as we express our opposition to his policies. Failing that, I hope he'll at least consider watching some Sylvester and Tweety.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Vs

I just returned from New Zealand, which United must think is a very dangerous country because they tried desperately to prevent me from reaching there, perhaps fearing that once in the country I would be subject to sheep-dipping. Then once I was there, United tried desperately to prevent me from returning on any of their flights, no doubt out of concern about what consumption of Wisconsin's cheese products might be doing to my arteries.

When I finally returned to Wisconsin, which has been rocked with protesters objecting to the governor's proposal to gut public sector unions, my sister pointed out that many of the curses I have been muttering under my breath about United might also apply the Governor. I will grant you that Governor Walker is definitely not my favorite public official. (That would be Michelle Obama, who I am still hoping to marry someday, when same sex marriage is approved. I am also looking forward to marrying at least one of my cats [I would probably choose the less-vomitous one], the Maldive Islands, and a nice cookbook or two, all of which could come to pass if same sex marriage is legalized, at least according to its opponents.)

But is Governor Walker really as bad as United Airlines? I needed some objective yardstick to compare the two, and decided to score them both in the context of the Seven Deadly Sins, with one point awarded per sin to whichever party has displayed the greatest faculty in that area.

My religious education being minimal, I have no idea what the Seven Deadly Sins actually are. David, on the other hand, has years of Catholic indoctrination under his belt, which he mostly uses these days to settle disagreements in bars about where pagan babies go if they die before they are baptized, and he managed to direct me to some resources. Here they are the sins, and the corresponding scores:

1. Lust: Did you know as many as three people can fit inside a bathroom on a United plane, if one of them is very skittish of strange toilets and needs to hold an adult's hand during the loud flush? The combined weight of Stella, Baby W, and me is 215 lbs, and we fit so tightly inside the bathroom we are practically wearing it. There's no just no way two decent-sized adults can fit in one of those bathrooms which leads me to the conclusion that the existence of a mile-high club is apocryphal, so United gets no points for lust.
As a Republican, I am sure Governor Walker disapproves of sex other than on special occasions like Flag Day (on even-numbered years) and Ronald Reagan's birthday, but he does have two kids. Deadly Sin Score: +1 for Walker

2. Gluttony: There's no gluttony on United, since they and other domestic airlines apparently believe that providing passengers with calories during a cross-county flight might cause them to pack on the pounds so precipitously that the jet's engines would be overwhelmed, crashing the craft catastrophically to the earth.

I have no indication that Governor Walker is a glutton. However, I think he gets a certain number of base points just for living in Wisconsin. And you can't tell me the guy didn't crack open a celebratory bag of Doritoes after the Packers won the Super Bowl. Deadly Sin Score: +0.5 for Walker

3. Sloth: United Airlines is so slothful that their planes often don't even leave the ground. It's a little-known fact that only seven United flights have actually reached their destination in 2011. (The rest are permanently grounded at O'Hare.) On the other hand, of the many, many complaints that have been lodged against Governor Walker, I have yet to hear laziness. Deadly Sin Score: +1 for United Airlines

4. Avarice: Nobody really knows what this means, so I am betting it becomes a popular girls' name soon. Deadly Sin Score: +1 for Stupid Parents

5. Wrath: Both United Airlines and Governor Walker incite considerable wrath on my part. Deadly Sin Score: +1 for David Having to Listen to My List of Complaints Against Them Both, and Although He Is Making Sympathetic Mmmm-mmm Sounds, I Notice He is Able to Read the New York Times Sports Page While Doing It

6. Envy: Wikipedia says that Dante defines this as "a desire to deprive other men of theirs." So for anybody following events in Wisconsin, it will not surprise you that I had to ponder on this for nearly 1/10 of a nanosecond before awarding the point to the appropriate party. Deadly Sin Score: + $3.6 billion for Walker

7. Pride: This has nothing to do with pride, but I wanted to make sure I awarded United Airlines a point for ruining Rhapsody in Blue by making it their theme song. Deadly Sin Score, +1 for United Airlines for Making George Gershwin's Music Into Something You Hear While On Hold Waiting to Find Out When Your Bag Will Get Back from Its Detour to Calgary


Using this methodology, it looks like Governor Walker of Wisconsin scores higher than United Airlines on the Sin-o-Meter. That does make a certain amount of sense, since the actions taken by Governor Walker will have a more significant impact on my quality of life than those taken by United Airlines. Governor Walker's actions have an even greater impact on my children -- not only Stella and Baby W, but any children we might have in the future, too. And while it's not that likely that we're having any more, I can tell you right now that if we have another girl, I'm naming her Avarice.