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Japanese beetles

Hi again! You all were so helpful on the last post that I was wondering if you'd be able to help my mother with a problem she's had since moving to Virginia. My mother loves roses, but she's been having a really hard time with them the last few years. It seems her area of virginia (northern, stafford) is plagued with Japanese beetles. This year a climbing rose that she'd planted about five years ago was swarmed by the nasty buggers and literally eaten to the ground. Having suffered that injustice, it caught a fungal infection and there was no saving it.

Every year my mom sets out japanese beetle traps in both the front and back yard to catch them and they do catch quite a few, the problem is that as many as they catch, there are always more to attack her roses, so she doesn't find them an effective way of dealing with the problem.

If you guys have any tips to share, that would be great. She'd love to be able to plant roses again!

Alright Folks

Alright Maties,

this is the end, I'm leaving tomorrow for T-stan and will henceforth be posting only in mass emails. I gave everyone the opportunity months ago to sign up, and if you haven't, then too bad ;) I might get to post on this, but I sort of doubt it. All entries will be friends only, of course.

Anyway, this is just a heads up not to expect comments on your journal or even very regular posts from me. I hope none of you mind having a very inactive journal on your f-list, but I'll try not to be offended if you do have a problem.

Peace and Elbow Grease,

As of tomorrow, T-one month to staging

I haven't written much here about the whole "getting ready for the Peace Corps thing." Mostly because aside from packing, there's not much that I can prepare for. I'm not all that well traveled in terms of countries visited, but hot damn, I sure have relocated or moved enough times in my life that this might be easier for me than it will be for volunteers who haven't moved around as much. That and being sort of a half breed definitely brings some experience with it. My mother may only be German, but there are some significant differences between German and US culture. Namely food and hospitality. That and the fact that as a younger kid I got the, your mom's German, is she a nazi? question all the time. Yay, stereotypes! Meh, I think I'll do alright, it's not like all be the first one in my family to leave my state or live in a foreign country. I mean, my dad is in Iraq right now. That and I'm so all about the cultural exchange. People ask me where the heck Turkmenistan is and I get to give them the lecture on the silk road, the soviet union, and pre-islamic beliefs... it's awesome. I have to say that when I tell people where I'm going and I get NO response because they never even have a clue that the country exists, I'm a little dissapointed. I mean, if I told poeple I was going to Africa, their eyes would light up with recognition, but since it's "Central Asia, Turkmenistan specifically" the answer is always, "Near China?" when I then tell them which countries it borders, their eyes get a little bit bright because they've heard of those countries, but I have the sneaking suspicion that they still don't know where they are. *headdesk* I guess that's part of the cross cultural exchange, teaching people geography for the sole purpose of explaining where you're going.

Speaking of, I sent him a picture of my clothes from Shukr online (they're comfortable as all hell), and he replied by saying that he's given his friend some money to buy more attractive clothes for me in Iraq. Cool beans. I just hope I don't end up with too many clothes. I'm not really worried about the "too modest thing" because aside from feeling embarassed around other volunteers for maybe 5 seconds, I don't think it will hurt to be over, rather than underdressed. Right now I have a lot in terms of underwear and socks, but I've really only packed 2 blouses that I may or may not bring with me, a shirt that will look fabulous with pants, 2 skirts, and a pair of jeans. I think that's pretty reasonable so far. The only thing I may go overboard on is shoes. I have so many birkenstocks (dress shoes too) that I really want to bring, but I'm not sure if I should pare them down to one or two pairs. As of right now I'm bringing black shoes, brown shoes, tennis shoes, and a pair of dress sandals. Considering that I've decided to pass on the hiking boots and coffee grinder, liquid shapoo, as well as peanut butter (ew), I think I'll live. I only have about 30 pounds packed as it is, which is hilarious when you look at my two suitcase type things. Sooo funny. It's like toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear, socks, and this pathetic pile of clothes. All my knitting will fill that out though ;) I bought three "knit kits" that I thought would be great fun to complete as well as a case for circular and straight knitting needles. Dean is going to kill me when he finds out I need more DPNs. Heh.

Aug. 16th, 2006

So "the Malcontent" had this to say for my reaction to Sullivan's use of MGM:

And bravo to his reader for admonishing him for trying to rhetorically piggyback “male genital mutilation” onto “female genital mutilation.” Having seen many victims of the latter and firsthand and what it does to them (oftentimes outright ostracization), such a comparison is beneath contempt. But Andy’s been a pretty contemptible guy these days.

He says he “agrees” with almost everything his reader said. So will he quit using the term “male genital mutilation”? There’s about as much chance of him giving up “Christianist.” He just loves the sound of his own voice.

Oh, and now that I'm not so tired, I just looked at Sullivan's response to my email and he's NOT getting the point. He's STILL using the term MGM. Anyway, here it is:
I agree with everything this reader says, but one. FGM is exponentially morally, medically and psychologically worse than MGM. It's an evil practice. But it is untrue that MGM "may diminish male pleasure." It drastically decreases male sexual sensitivity. In the era of AIDS, some parents may believe that diminishing their child's future sexual pleasure is worth the benefit of extra protection from HIV. But the trade-off exists.

I wonder how this "trackback" thing works?

OMFG I'm famous!

Ok, so Andrew Sullivan made this post calling male circumcision male genital mutilation. It pissed me off, so I wrote him about it and he posted it on his website! Woot! here's what I wrote:

"I realize that you may find male circumcision to be heinous and unnecessary, and for the record I agree with you, but I find your use of the term MGM to be completely distasteful. By using the term MGM, you're piggy backing on the FGM (female genital mutilation) cause and comparing male circumcision to FGM, which is dishonest to say the least. While male circumcision may diminish male pleasure, the vast majority of FGM results in the complete removal of a woman's clitoris and in the most serious case, infibulation, the removal of clitoris, all labia, and the closing of the wound into the size of a matchstick. As a result, both menses and urine pass through this hole and infection is often the result.

Childbirth results in severe tearing, and, unlike male circumcision which decreases the rate of HIV transmission, infibulation increases the risk. In short, one cannot compare male circumcision with FGM, because by doing so, you're merely making FGM look more innocuous. I urge you to find pictures and compare the two, you'll probably regret the comparison you're making."

The link is here if you don't believe me.


Funny link, gross story

Only two people sign up, eh? I have like 30 people on my friends' list and only two bother... interesting.

Anyway, this is hilarious, I'm sure you'll love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ_mlwnAmr0
It's someone describing the movie march of the penguins.

Now, for the really gross story. If you are faint of heart, I suggest you stop reading right about now. So Dean, a friend of his and I are hanging out in DC. I'd ordered a pasta dish with mussels, scallops, and shrimp and found the whole thing very difficult to eat because it all tasted so fishy. Flash forward to five hours later or so when we're at a hookah bar at two in the morning. This place is clean enough and their shisha is outstanding. I'm having a great time until I start to feel really nauseous. I can't shake the feeling so I run off to the bathroom, where the first thing I smell is the incredibly strong odor of urine. The toilet is leaking into a tupperware container and the floor is wet. I sit down, hoping I'll be all right and as soon as I do I'm up again puking into the sink. There was no time to think about the toilet, no time to turn around. I give it three good heaves and I'm feeling immediately better. Turn on the sink to wash it all down and... fuck, the sink's clogged. I water the putrid mess down, hoping that will help, but the sink just fills and fills. I'm picturing these poor hardworking people who work there having to clean up my vomit at five in the morning when all they want to do is go home and crawl into bed and a wave of pity washes over me. I want nothing more than to bolt out the door, but I feel I owe these checker playing, coffee making, sleepless men something and I start thinking fast. Maybe I didn't think hard enough, because I started to scoop the vile stuff out of the sink with my bare hands and put it in the toilet. I tried in vain to remove the stopper, but alas, it was not a model that would allow it. So I continued on with the scooping, realizing only when I had a little over a scoopful left, that the sink would not magically drain itself and that given another customer trying to wash his hands even with the absence of soap, my dinner would resurface in all its glory. In a panic, I start looking under the sink for something, anything that could save me from the shame of having to run out of there at four in the morning with guilt tattooed on my face. Aside from eight million stacks of toilet paper, I see a plunger and the hope for my salvation. I'd never seen a plunger used on a sink before, but it couldn't hurt, so I started plunging away at the mess. When I heard the "burp" of air moving through the pipes my chest swelled with victory and I once again resumed my tactic of washing it down, taking time to plunge it down now and again as well. At this point, I'm so happy I'm going to get out of this undiscovered that I have no shame in picking up the larger pieces and flushing them down the toilet. I even dry off the floor with a wad of toilet paper, give the toilet a wipe down and take one last look at the sink before I go back to Dean and tell him we should leave ASAP. I promise you, dear readers, that I was not in the slightest drunk for this saga. With any luck, that will be the grossest episode involving a public toilet or sink that I'll ever have to endure.

I told you it was gross.
As probably most of you know by now, Dean and I have
received our invitation to Turkmenistan for TEFL and
> Health Extension leaving September 29th. We thought
> that a mailing list would be the best way to
> communicate with everyone because Peace Corps sets
> some easily broken rules for websites.
> We already have our address for the first three months
> in the country. It will change after this period, but
> for whatever reason we may choose to keep our previous
> address. Mail takes anywhere from 2-3 weeks to get
> there, although it has been known to take months. All
> mail is "inspected" in the central post office, so
> it's probably best that you not ask questions about
> the political climate here or send that Economist
> article about Turkmenistan. Discussing politics going
> on in the US is ok. If you want to send letters, to
> make sure I'm getting all so that I can tell if any
> are missing, please number your letters. If you are an
> especially kind soul and want to send a package,
> padded envelopes are better than boxes, once again
> because of "inspections." It is important that you
> write down everything that you send on the customs
> form, because if it's not on the form, it "disappears"
> easily.
> Dean and I will probably have access to the Internet
> about once a month or maybe even less. We plan on
> typing all emails on the laptop at home and then
> bringing them to an Internet source to post. For this
> reason, some of the emails you get may be very long.
> It may also be best to communicate via snail mail, so
> that Dean and I have time to devote to the mass email
> and don't get lost in a tangled web of backed up email
> messages. This doesn't mean don't send us emails, if
> there's something urgent or something that you're
> afraid that you'll forget, shoot us an email and we'll
> do our best to reply. The Internet connection will
> likely be very slow, so please don't send any forwards
> or pictures (send them through the snail mail, we'd
> love to see them!)
> Ok, so on to our new address (be very, very glad that
> Turkmenistan no longer uses the Cyrillic alphabet).
> PCT Miriam Rush and PCT Dean Shaffer (either/or works
> too)
> US Peace Corps/Turkmenistan
> PO Box 258, Krugozor Central Post Office
> Ashgabat, 744000 Turkmenistan
> please write "par avion" and "via Istanbul" on the
> envelope. It will otherwise be sent through Moscow,
> and that's not a pretty sight.
> It'll take a while for mail to get there and it might
> be nice to receive some letters in the first week or
> so, so if you begin writing now, that simply means
> that we'll get to hear from you sooner.

Houston recap

So I have two journals now, I tend to use the paper one more than this one, simply as a matter of convenience. It seems a little more natural to write about life... and stuff on paper than it does in a program that checks my grammar and spelling periodically. So I am alive, and I have been writing, but just not here.

I thought I would let everyone know right off the bat that I have been invited to serve in Turkmenistan. I'm going, of course. It's sort of anti-climactic because I've essentially known since November which country I would be going to barring medical mishaps and the like, which we did have and overcame. It's all good though. Now that I actually know where I'm going there's a lot of apprehension as to what it will be like, but I've been reading the three blogs I could find of Peace Corps volunteers in Turkmenistan and that helps quite a bit. They definitely don't have a blast all the time, but crying and uncertainty aside, they generally seem to be staying beyond a year. I'm pretty sure the real excitement will kick in when I start to pack... packing also means that I'll have the opportunity to buy things. I've sort of been holding off for a while on purchases--even food, and it's really surprising to me how much my life revolves around consumption. Not as much as a lot of other people, because I've never been the kind to go to a store just to look at crap knick knacks, but still a large part. Anyway, buying things for my journey will certainly make me feel like I'm actually going and that this whole thing is not some fantasy of mine used to keep the real world at bay.

My ten day vacation to Houston, Mississippi, and Louisiana is over. I had a blast. Seriously, a blast--this even despite the fact that I was popping ib profin left and right. The first few days we hung out and played games, watched tv and movies, and ate an enormous amount of food. We had a lot of Tex-Mex, Indian, Sushi, and Asian, as well as French (don't ask). Actually, the first full day in Houston we met Jeanie and Ed, Dean's mother and her husband from Columbus in the largest liquor store in Houston. Nothing like that has ever happened to me and it was totally weird to meet someone under those circumstances. I'm not kidding when I say that our meeting was a complete accident. They were there for only a few days to celebrate Ed's mother's birthday and we hadn't been able to get in touvh with them via cell phone, but somehow managed to run into one another nonetheless. We agreed to have lunch with them and had a fairly good time, food aside. On the first day we also went to the Hong Kong market which was my idea of a real grocery store and managed to snag some Durian Fruit. We tried it, and despite everyone's promise that it tastes better than it smells, I must say that I am not a fan.

After a really enjoyable time in Houston, we headed to Mississippi to visit my grandmother, where we had the best peach cobbler ever. It was seriously, seriously good. Grandma, Chris, and Brian had a little bit too much to drink and decided that now would be the perfect time to shave his head. Despite my earlier warnings to Grandma, they first tried to use Veet, which is kind of like Nair except that it comes with a squeedgie. When it started to burn, they washed it off and decided that maybe razors would be the way to go afterall, but they were too "silly" to trust themselves to do it. Thye called Varina, but not having faith in her abilities, and Varina being really nervous about doing serious injury, I woke up to hollers and hoots of laughter in time to shave Brian's head. So there we are in the kitchen at 1:30 in the morning with a bag full of disposable razors, in our pijamas, laughing and shaving Brian's head. How awesome is that? It turned out great and he didn't have any cuts on his head at all. Woot! Go me!

A few days later we all headed to Louisiana to stay with Brooks and Jeb and tour New Orleans. We walked around the city, got soaked in sweat and humidity, bought really neat shoes in the bazaar, drank hurricans on the go, and had really great coffee and bignettes at the cafe du monde. It was a lot of fun, and probably more enjoyable than when I went as a youngster because there was more that I could do and see. Jeb showed us some of the flood damage in New orleans and it was pretty intense. It was basically up to the second story and the water lines in most houses was really obvious. I'd already seen pictures along the coast of Mississippi, but because the damage there was more along the lines of complete and total destruction and most of it had been cleared up, there wasn't much to see unless you knew what to look for. In New Orleans, most things were still there, but messed up beyond belief. At Jeb and Brooks, Dean managed to earn his nickname (no, I'm not saying what it is), and the first night was spent drinking beer and playing ping pong and pool. The day we left for Houston we had a shrimp boil which was delicious and so much fun. I love standing there in front of a pile of shrimp, potatoes, and corn piled high on a spread of newspapers and making a complete pig of yourself as you try to shell and eat shrimp as fast as you can, not to mention the fact that the spice really catches up with you. Dean had never been to one and at first he was a little freaked out at the fact that he would be eating the vein and popping the head off the shrimp. He relaxed as soon as he managed to put a pile on his plate and actually peel one, although he did get much faster towards the end.

If any of this sounds like I'm bored or out of it, it's because I'm sitting on a plane with a pretty good case of the dummies. We went out last night with a bunch of Chris' friends to Cafe Adobe and had a few drinks and appetizers. We then headed out to a karoake bar, but because that was so crowded we seriously couldn't walk, we headed to the gay club right next door. I'm not much of a dancer, and while I may think I'm a better dancer after a few drinks, I certainly know better. It was fund anyway though and the strobe lights and smoke effects were a lot of fun. Dean really really enjoyed being out on the dance floor (but then he wasn't wearing 3 inch heels like I was) and he had a few encounters of the not so straight kind. When he was at the bar getting another drink, a guy came up to him and asked him how old he was, when Dean told him twenty three, he squeeled with glee and asked if Dean wanted to party with them. Dean had to let him down easily and tell him that he was there with his wife. There were these massive beefcakes dancing in front of a wall of water and in the bathroom there was male erotica playing over the urinals. Dean said someone even checked out his willy while he was relieving himself. Good times, good times.

So here I am, wedged between two people on a plane typing in my e-journal and deciding whether or not this is a college length essay. Perhaps for mideterms, but I doubt finals. I'd need to add about four pages to it for that. It should certainly be interesting for you all to read it (or scroll through it- I doubt many of you will read it, unless you were there or somehow involved). All in all though, I'd say that this entry is done, stick a fork in it.