Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Parenting At It's Best

Well, at least there are puppets in the movie, you know, to distract him from all the nudity.

Couple with their 5-year old son at the movie theater getting their tickets:

Father: 3 for Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Cashier as he’s ringing them up: "Um . . . you know it’s rated R, right?

Father: Hmm, well how bad is it?

Cashier, grinning: It’s . . . Um . . .explicit . . .hehehe

Father, looks down at this 5-year old: Well…he’s gotta learn sometime right?

--Potomac Yard Theater

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Only the Best On Craigslist...

to the guy doing my wife

To the guy doing my wife. You know who you are. Yes I know. No I am not angry, I would just ask a few things of you. After all you are giving it to my wife.
  1. Please stop leaving the seat up, I keep getting blamed and it is starting to get old.
  2. You may be giving me a chance to go fishing more often but please stop drinking all my beer. It is fine if you have a couple while you visit(god knows
  3. I drink plenty before I find her attractive), but please leave me a few as I have to be there longer than you.  If you do drink the last one buy more or leave money on the counter I will pick some up.
  4. Please replace the toilet paper when you use it all. For some reason my 5 year old son belives if its not there he does not have to wipe. We keep it under the sink, unless you can recomend a better spot?
  5. After doing my wife please use something disposable to wipe off with. The basket of clothes on the right is mine and the clothes are clean as my wife does not do my washing, I run out of time rushing to work. Last week my sweatshirt was crusty(thanks).
  6. Please do not tell my children that you are their uncle, they are young not mentally challenged.
  7. Please stop turning the heat up, You pay nothing and MUD is putting it in my ass, my wife may like it but I think it hurts.
  8. When she asks "do these pants make me look fat", say no. You may think giving a different answer will make her think twice about eating a gallon of ice cream a day but all you are doing is giving her a reason to go buy more pants that she will look just as fat in.
  9. Stop eating the baked goods. The brownies you ate were from my mom for my birthday. My wife has not cooked anything that good for years and if she does she will not share.
  10. Try shifting your weight when you sit on my chair. The recliner that I rarely have time for (soccer games and practice, basketball camp for the kids takes much of my time and I try to help with school work too)has a grove in it that forces me to roll to the left.
Lastly I would like thank you for taking her to lunch on Valentines Day. She was not as hungry as usual and only orded one meal.I may be able to use the money I saved to take the children to a movie. I hope you can help me with these items, it may become awkward if I have to confront her. If you can do this for me I will give you a heads up on when I will be gone and for how long so that you don't feel rushed.

P.S. I am going to take the kids to the Great Wolf Lodge on the 3rd of April for four days, I have abottle of vodka above the fridge if you find yourself low on beer.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If This Doesn't Make You Cry, Then You Don't Have a Heart

A Lifetime of Undying Devotion To a Life Tragically Cut Short

Crews Did Everything In Her Power to Help Boyfriend Battle Cancer

By Matthew Stanmyre
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, April 17, 2008; E01

Courtney Crews wiped the tears from her eyes and took a deep breath. She stared at the softball diamond in front of her, pulled the catcher's mask over her face and settled into a crouch behind home plate.

Every couple of innings, Courtney, a senior at North Stafford High School, gazed into the bleachers out of habit on this early-April night and searched the crowd for her boyfriend's face. She saw her parents, trainer, teachers, friends. But the only trace of her boyfriend, Justin Whitaker, were reminders of him.

The jersey number that Justin wore when he played varsity baseball for North Stafford -- No. 7 -- was stenciled on T-shirts worn by many in the bleachers. The number was taped on the bunches of balloons that were tied to each end of the bleachers, fluttering in the wind. It was written on the tiny lime-green ribbons that the entire North Stafford team had pinned on their left shoulders, the same ribbons worn by supporters in the stands.

Courtney, 18, tried to narrow her focus as she caught the 50-mph pitches being hurled at her. It was April 8, and Courtney, roughly 10 weeks from graduation, was supposed to be enjoying the final moments of her high school experience, getting ready for the senior prom and making summer vacation plans with classmates. Instead, she was at the end of a 22-month ordeal, nursing Justin through his fight against non-Hodgkin's T-cell lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer that attacks the immune system.

Justin made Courtney promise never to miss a game or an event at school because of him. She had organized buffet dinners, pancake breakfasts and talent shows to raise money toward Justin's medical expenses. She had struggled to sleep for even a few hours most nights, yet often would have to get up at 4 a.m. to work out with her trainer, a habit that had helped her earn a softball scholarship to Hofstra University. Courtney didn't miss a meeting of the Student Council Association, of which she was president, and she never strayed from her role as a big sister to her schoolmates and teammates.

"Courtney's definitely outside the mold of your typical high school student," said her leadership teacher at North Stafford, Leigh Swift. "Sometimes, when she's in my class, I'll look at her and I can't even imagine what's going through her head. It's so much for a high school senior to think about."

She was thinking about all of it during the game against Albemarle. Under the mask, Courtney's face was long and blank. The girl who never had wept publicly found herself sniffing back tears. She took in deep breaths, then exhaled hard.

A Perfect Match

Courtney and Justin met when they were 12 years old. In one of their first encounters, she struck him out in a Stafford County youth baseball game. Later that year, they became teammates on a local traveling team composed of the best players from the teams in the youth league.

Courtney was the only girl on the team, and opponents -- sometimes even teammates -- picked on her. Justin was the opposite. "He was very protective," Courtney said. "He would step in and push them off or tell them to back off."

There was no place in the world Courtney would rather be than on a baseball field, playing catch, mud caked on her cleats, infield dust darkening her face. Justin, who wore No. 7 in honor of his favorite player, Mickey Mantle, shared the sentiment.

After that baseball season, Courtney and Justin lost touch for almost two years. They went to different high schools as freshmen -- Courtney to North Stafford, Justin about three miles away at Colonial Forge -- but reunited when the schools played a football game in fall 2004.

During the second quarter, Courtney spotted Justin near the concession stand and rushed over to hug him. They talked in the bleachers for the rest of the game -- about baseball, school, friends -- and Justin walked Courtney to her car afterward. He asked Courtney to be his girlfriend, and she didn't hesitate.

"He seemed like the perfect guy," she said.

They grew closer as sophomores, after Justin transferred to North Stafford. Courtney didn't consider herself very girly, but she fluttered when Justin would open doors for her, or when she would wear a new pair of jeans for the first time and he would intuitively say, "Oh, those are new."

But Courtney also could be herself around Justin, lounging in a sweaty T-shirt or with her hair messy from working out. Just as soon as Justin would wrap her in a warm embrace, he would playfully punch her in the shoulder. "They were like good buddies," said Dave Gonier, Courtney's trainer.

They cleaned up nicely, too. In a picture from their junior prom, the couple glistened, Courtney with long blond hair perfectly coiffed, her big smile bursting, and Justin with dynamic eyes and a slick black suit.

Justin had made that year's homecoming especially memorable by the way he asked her to it. While Courtney was at softball practice, he plucked the rose petals from 11 flowers and made a trail from her driveway, into the house, up the stairs, down the hallway and onto her bed.

When she came home he was standing behind her bedroom door with one last rose and a bag of M&M's, Courtney's favorite candy.

Courtney and Justin had been dating for 22 months in June 2006 when he began having trouble breathing and found it difficult to swallow food. He felt a mass the size of a gumball on his throat. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors found several enlarged lymph nodes around his heart and neck. On June 12, they diagnosed cancer.

Alone with Courtney in the hospital room, Justin's first words to her were, "I'm going to lose my hair." Courtney told him she didn't care about that; she just wanted him to get healthy.

Justin was confident he would. Shortly after the diagnosis, when a doctor noted while extracting bone marrow for a test that Justin had particularly strong bones, Justin deadpanned in the crowded hospital room, "I'm a man of steel." He was wearing blue-and-red Superman boxer shorts at the time.

Justin assured Courtney that he would beat the cancer, and told her that they both needed to be strong -- for friends, family members and people at school as much as for themselves.

"I always wanted to be there for him, but that made it even more like, 'I'll never leave you because you're sick or anything like that,' " said Courtney, whose grade-point average this year is 3.8 and never has dipped below 3.5. "I just couldn't see myself without him."

'Nothing Was Ever About Her'

That summer, Courtney brought Justin strawberry milkshakes and Coke-flavored Slurpees when chemotherapy treatments left him too weak to leave the house.

When Justin returned to North Stafford in February 2007 for the second semester of their junior year, Courtney sold 300 T-shirts to students and faculty members that read, "Welcome Back Justin!" She walked him through the halls, her hand in his, and gave him kisses on the cheek when they would part ways for class.

Last August, Justin found another mass on his neck. A biopsy revealed cancerous lymph nodes in his armpits, chest, shoulders and lungs. Marcie Weil, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist at Inova Fairfax Hospital who initially diagnosed Justin's cancer, said the best option for a cure was a bone marrow transplant. The procedure would cost roughly $650,000, but it would allow him to receive extremely high doses of chemotherapy.

The treatment made Justin lose his hair. He developed painful mouth sores and his legs ached so badly that he sometimes walked with a limp. He lost his appetite. He had diarrhea. His bones throbbed.

"You see him slowly deteriorate, and it's torture," said Justin's father, Craig Whitaker, who raised Justin after he and wife Shelia divorced 13 years ago. "It breaks your heart into 80 million pieces."

Courtney helped inject Justin with medicine through a tube in his chest, then flushed the tube to keep it clean. She made trips to the doctor's office, where she would lay next to Justin on the examination table, snuggling close.

"When he got diagnosed with cancer she could have just said, 'Hey, you've got cancer, you're not worthy anymore,' " Craig Whitaker said. "And she has turned it around and been his best friend, best of everything."

The bone marrow transplant -- often a last resort for cancer patients -- did not work for Justin.

By January, the cancer had spread below his diaphragm. The disease was in his pelvis, abdomen, chest, armpits and bone marrow. At that point, Weil said, "There were no other options."

"There's times where it gets really hard," Courtney said. "Like those questions of why? Why him? Why now, during our senior year? I try to stay as positive as I can because I know he's positive. He helps me portray that strong image that I have."

Craig Whitaker's insurance covered 90 percent of his son's care, but with Justin's medical bills nearing more than $3 million, Courtney intensified her efforts to raise money.

In February, she spearheaded a fundraiser at North Stafford entitled "Dinner and a Show: A Night for Believers." The event included a buffet dinner, skits performed by students and a slideshow that made Justin burst with laughter. At the end of the night, Justin donned a graduation robe, walked across the stage in the North Stafford auditorium and received his high school diploma.

"On a scale of one to 10, Courtney's a million," Craig Whitaker said. "She cares about everybody else. It's never about herself. It was all about Justin, Justin, Justin. Nothing was ever about her."

A Final Promise

During a doctor's appointment in February, Weil asked Justin what he wanted to do with his life. The first thing he said was that he hoped to give Courtney a promise ring. Word quickly spread among those treating him, and a group of nurses chipped in to buy a white gold ring with a small diamond stud. It cost about $250.

"Justin lived for the day he could give Courtney that ring," Weil said. "That was the final, very important thing to him. He lived to give her that ring at the very end."

Two weeks ago, with his health in severe decline, Justin was set to travel with Courtney's family to a softball tournament in Virginia Beach. He decided that would be the perfect setting to give Courtney his promise ring. Weil infused Justin with two units of platelets to prevent internal and external bleeding. The platelets were "to get him through the weekend," Craig Whitaker said. "If we didn't, then he would have never made it through."

As dusk approached on March 29, just off the main strip in Virginia Beach, Justin took Courtney's hand and guided her down the beach and onto a pier that jutted over the Atlantic Ocean. The sun was dipping into the horizon, painting the sky purple, orange and pink. Justin held Courtney's hands, stared into her eyes and gave her the ring. "He told me how much he loved me and how much he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me," Courtney said.

Then Justin asked Courtney if she would marry him when they graduated from college. She said yes.

The weekend in Virginia Beach "made it feel like everything was getting better," Courtney said. "It gave me a sense of feeling like he really was going to push through and beat his cancer."

Two days later, on April 1, Justin spiked a 103-degree fever. Later that day, his father said, he began hallucinating. He had multiple seizures. He slipped into a coma.

As that was happening, Courtney was playing a softball game, batting 2 for 5 with a triple and an RBI during a 6-0 win over Riverbend. Afterward, she made the 40-minute drive north to the hospital, arriving at 1:30 a.m. and staying for nearly three hours. She left in time to work out with Gonier, her trainer, at 4:30 a.m., and made it to school on time.

Whenever Courtney's eyelids grew heavy, she thought of Justin, of how he never blinked during chemotherapy and never complained when he was poked with needles and confronted with a fate he didn't deserve.

"That's what's keeping me going," she said.

When Courtney entered Justin's room in the Inova Fairfax intensive care unit two days later, on April 3, Justin's face and stomach were swollen. Tubes snaked across his body to his mouth and wrists. He did not move, other than the subtle rise and fall of his chest as a ventilator pumped air into his lungs. She asked Craig Whitaker how Justin was doing. "He's dying," he said, tears in his eyes.

Courtney buried her face into the chest of Justin's best friend, North Stafford senior Zac Briley, and sobbed. The words shocked her. She couldn't believe that Justin's condition could get so much worse so fast, just four days after he had given her the ring.

Briley's birthday was April 7, and Courtney and some friends had made him a birthday cake and posters that morning at school. Before dismissal, she again made the drive to the hospital, knowing that Justin had been taken off life support at midday.

Around 4 p.m., Courtney kissed him on the forehead and said, "I love you." Teary-eyed, she left the hospital because she didn't want to see him take his last breath. Justin's parents and other friends and family remained in the room, where Justin died just before 5 p.m. Courtney's father called and told her Justin was dead just as she pulled into the driveway of her home in Stafford.

By 6:30, about 600 people had congregated at the North Stafford baseball field for a candlelight vigil. Some people sobbed, some wept silently.

When Courtney arrived, wearing a blue North Stafford letter jacket, she grabbed a microphone and the crowd fell silent. "I know we're all sad," she said, "but the last thing he wants to do is look down and see all of us in tears."

'Do It for Justin Whitaker'

The next day, between innings against Albemarle, Courtney stood off to the side in the dugout. Sometimes she would plop down in a chair and duck her head. Other times she would stand alone, staring into the distance.

"I think I can be strong enough to get through all of it because I have such a great support system," Courtney said later. "But I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to move on past the fact that he's not here."

Courtney had the option of postponing the game earlier in the day, but she firmly stated that she wanted to play. Justin would have wanted her to, she said. She had even slipped out of school during lunch to help prepare the field.

Courtney collected one hit and drove in a run during North Stafford's 9-0 victory. In the stands, Craig Whitaker cheered on Courtney. Each time she ran back onto the diamond between innings, she slapped a rectangular wooden board hooked to the chain-link fence that read "DIFJW," short for "Do It for Justin Whitaker."

After the game, Courtney walked to the baseball field, where she chatted with players and friends. Soon she was alone, still muddy and sweaty in her catcher's gear, gazing into the North Stafford dugout. There, in the far corner, a single white, orange and blue uniform hung from a hook. It was jersey No. 7.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Do Elmore City, Oklahoma, and Washington, DC, Have In Common?


So About That Tree of Liberty…

Sunday, April 13th, 2008


Tonight, a group of about 20 D.C.-area libertarians headed down to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial for some flash mob fun. The prank was harmless revelry: To ring in Jefferson’s birthday, we would meet on the steps of the memorial at 11:55pm, wearing iPods, then dance for about 10 minutes, capture the whole thing on video, and leave.

Courtney and I were about 10 minutes late, but by the time we arrived it was already over. The National Park Police broke the whole thing up just a few minutes in, punctuating their lack of a sense of humor by arresting one of the dancers (we’re keeping her name private at least until she’s released later this morning). She was cuffed, taken out to a paddy wagon, then booked and held at a Park Police station. Everyone I spoke with says there was no noise, there were no threats, and no laws broken (the park police I spoke with–including the arresting officer (who, oddly enough, denied to me that he was the arresting officer)–declined to say why she had been arrested).

The police refused to answer any questions, referring all calls to the communication number of the Park Police, which at this hour is closed. They also refused to give their badge numbers.

I’ll post some video tomorrow morning of two flash mobbers who say she was doing nothing at all–she was barely even dancing. Her crime was apparently to ask “why?” when the park police told the group they had to disperse. Note too that this was at around midnight. No one was bumping into tourists, or obstructing anyone’s way. I guess the only conclusion, here, is that it’s apparently illegal to dance on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial–even with headphones. You know, post 9-11 world and all. Harmless fun will be interpreted in the most threatening context imaginable. Whimsy and frivolity will not be tolerated.

Of course, the real irony here is that all of this happened at the Jefferson Memorial, in observance of Jefferson’s birthday. Go out to celebrate the birth of the most hardcore, anti-authoritarian of the Founding Fathers, get hauled off in handcuffs. The photo’s almost poetry, isn’t it? One of history’s most articulate critics of abuse of state authority looks on as a park police cop uses his elbow to push a female arrestee into one of said critic’s memorial pillars.

The people I spoke with say the other officer pictured in the foreground of this photo told the rest of the group to “shut the fuck up.” When one person politely asked why it was unnecessary to use the word “fuck,” the officer replied that if the guy who asked the question used any more profanity, he too would find himself arrested.

More from Julian Sanchez and Megan McArdle.

MORE: Sheesh. If you’re curious as to how we could be at the point where dancing is cause for arrest, read some of the comments at Megan McArdle’s site (link above). I guess an unlawful arrest is fine so long as the arrestee is upper class, privileged, and/or libertarian (because she’s probably a pot-smoker and/or illegal downloader, anyway!).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dogs vs. Cats

Entries in a Dog’s Journal








1:30 PM - ooooooo. bath. bummer.




Entries in a Cat’s Journal

DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another house plant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair…must try this on their bed.

DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was…Hmmm. Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time, however, it included a burning foamy chemical called “shampoo.” What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.

DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise. More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of “allergies.” Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird, on the other hand, has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait; it is only a matter of time……

When Good Makeup Goes Bad

Have Your Beauty Products Gone Bad?

Safeguard your looks with our what-and-when-to-toss guide

By Jessica B. Matlin
Good Housekeeping, May 2008

Do a quick check of any woman’s bathroom, and chances are you’ll find jars of rarely used face cream, the dregs of a favorite powder blush, and at least one tube of lip gloss squeezed within an inch of its life. Whether unused, or consumed to the last drop, squeeze, or swipe, these cosmetics are taking up shelf (and makeup-bag) space because we want to get every penny out of the precious dollars we spent on them. But this hoarding habit has a catch: Beauty products do go bad. At best, they stop performing as well as they used to; at worst, they can cause irritations or infections.

“Unopened, well-formulated cosmetics can remain stable for a couple of years at room temperature,” says Ni’Kita Wilson, a cosmetic chemist at Cosmetech Laboratories in Fairfield, NJ. “But the clock starts once you bring a product home and open it. When air hits the formula, certain ingredients start to oxidize and degrade.” What’s more, every time you touch your makeup or skin-care lotions and potions, you transfer germs to them — and, subsequently, to your face. Heat and humidity, which promote the growth of mold and yeast, are factors, too. That’s one reason the bathroom, though convenient, isn’t the ideal spot to store cosmetics. (High levels of airborne bacteria can contaminate beauty products, too.) A better place: a cool, dry linen closet.

Beyond the obvious signs — dried mascara or separated foundation — it can be tough to tell when something’s past its prime. (U.S. labeling regulations don’t require an expiration date on most cosmetics.) So read on for easy, expert, beauty-protecting tips on when to throw away what.

Face Makeup

Toss-it time: Six months for liquids; two years for powders
Insider info: You increase the odds of bacterial growth — and, hence, of breakouts or irritation — when you repeatedly dip your brushes and fingers into liquid foundation. Also, as it ages, foundation can go on unevenly, creating a streaky, inconsistent finish. “Oils rise to the top, and the consistency thickens,” explains New York City makeup artist Mathew Nigara. Powders present less of a problem because bacteria can’t grow where there’s no water. However, over time, powders with botanical ingredients like aloe or jojoba can become harder to blend and are more likely to crumble, as their trace amounts of water evaporate.


Toss-it time: Three months
Insider info: “A mascara tube is a dark, wet environment — the perfect breeding ground for bacteria,” says New York City optometrist Andrea Thau, O.D. “Preservatives in a mascara only work for so long.” Dr. Thau knows from firsthand experience: She once developed a sty from a makeup artist’s mascara wand. Plus, three-month-old mascara is a nonperformer. “It’s chalky and powdery, and any lengthening or thickening fibers often separate from the fluid, so the mascara stops going on in a smooth, even coat,” says makeup artist Cristina Bartolucci. To avoid hastening the demise of your mascara, never pump the wand — that pushes air into the tube, causing it to dry out faster. Instead, slowly draw out and twist the brush to scrape the tube’s interior and pick up product.

Eyeliner and Eye Shadow

Toss-it time: Liquid eyeliners, three months; cream eye shadows, six months; pencil eyeliners and powder eye shadows, two years
Insider info: As they do with mascara, bacteria tend to flourish in liquid-eyeliner tubes, and the product dries out. Pencil eyeliners have a longer shelf life because you can create a fresh, clean surface each time you sharpen them. (Just be sure to regularly sanitize your sharpener with rubbing alcohol.) Powder shadows, like pressed powders, are less prone to contamination because they, too, lack water (if you wet them, toss after six months). But aging eye shadows have performance issues: They get packed down, making it harder to pick up pigment with your brush, says Bartolucci.

Lipstick and Lipliner

Toss-it time: Lipstick and gloss, two years; lipliner, two years or more
Insider info: Lipsticks’ water content makes them potential mini reservoirs of bacteria. No surprise, they also dry out with age, says New York City makeup artist Tina Turnbow: “They no longer look creamy on the lips.” Long-wearing formulas may have an even shorter life span since they often contain ingredients that evaporate more quickly than creamier formulas. Pencil lipliners, like eyeliners, may last a little longer since putting them through a sharpener removes the old surface.

Nail Polish

Toss-It Time: One to two years
Insider info: When polish expires, the consistency turns gooey or stringy, says Ji Baek, owner of Rescue Beauty Lounge in New York City. Formulas are especially sensitive to temperature extremes and humidity, so avoid storing in the bathroom.

Skin Care

Toss-it time: Acne creams and other over-the-counter products that contain drugs are FDA regulated and usually carry expiration dates. But cosmeceuticals (products claiming to have anti-aging and skin-changing benefits) are not regulated, and once they’ve been used, they shouldn’t be kept for more than six months — or, if they’re in pump bottles, a year — says Wilson.
Insider info: “Some ingredients [such as vitamin C, retinol, and hydroquinone] degrade even more rapidly if they’re left in direct sunlight or exposed to air,” says Tina Alster, M.D., a Washington, D.C., dermatologist. Less frequently — but more alarmingly — certain products can actually become more potent over time, says Boston dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, M.D. The reason: Active ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid become more concentrated as their bases degrade, separate, or evaporate. And when proportions change, your skin may get irritated. To prevent problems, store cosmetics properly, discontinue use after six months, and look for products that come in a pump, which helps keep air out. Another option that’s starting to hit shelves: special jars that dispense creams through a tiny hole or slit when you press the top (an internal “floor” rises with each push).


Toss-it time: Six months
Insider info: Sunscreens are FDA regulated, and though they usually have expiration dates of at least one year, that date indicates the purchasing time frame, says Wilson: “When you open a tube, water may start evaporating, causing the formula to eventually become unstable. Once that happens, the ingredients are no longer evenly distributed, so you may get a lot in one dose, but nearly none in another.” Protect your tube by storing it out of the sun.

Hair Products

Toss-it time: One year
Insider info: Always close the caps of shampoos, conditioners, and styling products tightly. Otherwise, water and air can get in, breaking down the formulas or causing them to separate. (Good news for hairspray users: Aerosol cans are the best product protectors going, so sprays should stay good even longer.)


Toss-it time: Two years — or potentially many more
Insider info: “Eau de toilettes and perfumes can last for several years, as long as they’re kept out of humidity and sunlight,” says Robert Gerstener, co-owner of Aedes de Venustas, a New York City fragrance emporium. “Both of these elements can alter notes in a fragrance, which will then change the overall scent.”

Simple Stay-Fresh Secrets

  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly before putting your fingers into a product.
  2. Avoid reinfection. Stop using all eye makeup if you have an eye infection and lip products if you have a cold sore. The exceptions: lipsticks, lipliners, and eye pencils, which can be shaved clean with a knife or sharpener. (Just cleaning with a tissue won’t suffice.)
  3. Smell your mascara when you first purchase it. If you recognize that scent, you’ll know when it goes bad: Expired mascara often takes on a funny, chemical odor.
  4. Choose a cotton-tipped swab or disposable sponge to apply makeup to a pimple — and avoid double-dipping. Going back and forth from the product to the affected area with your finger or a sponge can lead to contamination.
  5. Try Timestrips ($14.50 for 50, timestriponline.com), stickers that “remember” when a product was first opened and alert you when it’s no longer wise to use it.

What About Natural Products?

For starters, they may have an extra-short shelf life, according to the FDA, because their botanical ingredients may be susceptible to microbial growth. (Think pure extract, oil, pulp, rind, or bark of plants, fruits, trees, or leaves.) What’s more, though natural preservatives like essential oils of cinnamon, orange, rosemary, and thyme can be potent, when used at low levels they may not be as strong as synthetics, says Wilson. An added problem for consumers: There’s no way to know how “natural” a product is, since the term is undefined and unregulated.

If you’re a natural fan, consider contacting the manufacturer about specific cosmetics. “Most reputable companies put their products — ‘all natural’ or not — through a microbial challenge,” says Wilson. Request the test results. (If the customer-service rep doesn’t supply them, ask to speak to the technical team.)

Your When-to-Toss-It Timeline

Every season: Toss your mascara and liquid liner
Every six months: Toss your skin-care regimen, sunscreens, and liquid foundation
Every year: Toss your hair products (except hairspray)
Every two years: Toss your powder-based cosmetics (such as pressed powder and shadows), lipsticks, and nail polishes

Find this article at: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/expired-beauty-products

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Shake That Colbert Bump-Bump-Bump

Annals of Improbable Research

Forthcoming from James Fowler in PS: Political Science and Politics
Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, claims that politicians who appear on his show will become more popular and are more likely to win elections. Although online discussions cite anecdotal evidence in support of his claim, it has never been scrutinized scientifically. In this article I use “facts” (sorry, Stephen) provided by the Federal Election Commission to create a matched control group of candidates who have never appeared on The Colbert Report. I then compare the personal campaign donations they receive to those received by candidates who have appeared on the program’s segment “Better Know a District.” The results show that Democratic candidates who appear on the Report receive a statistically significant “Colbert bump” in campaign donations, raising 44% more money in a 30-day period after appearing on the show. However, there is no evidence of a similar boost for Republicans. These results constitute the first scientific evidence of Stephen Colbert’s influence on political campaigns.
Update: See also Fowler’s LA Times op-ed for the popularized version with extra truthiness …

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Fix: Pin the VP On the Nominee

The Friday Senate Line: Schumer Sets Expectations?

Few politicians have the political chops of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Elected to the House in 1980, Schumer bided his time for the better part of two decades before coming from behind to claim victory in a hotly contested Democratic Senate primary in 1998. He went on to defeat Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R) in the general election. Six years later, Schumer took control of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and spearheaded the six-seat pickup that returned his party to the majority in 2006.

When Schumer speaks, we listen.

To wit:

This short clip, which was sent to donors as a thank you for their contributions in the first three months of 2008, is chock full of interesting nuggets when it comes to expectation-setting for the fall election -- not to mention amusing footage of Schumer striding around outside the DSCC building.

Schumer describes this election cycle as a "once in a generation opportunity" to significantly expand on the 51-seat majority Democrats hold in the Senate, noting that in places like Kentucky, Mississippi and North Carolina the party has real chances for pickups if the candidates can raise enough money to be competitive.

He adds that the small majority Democrats currently enjoy makes it difficult to push their agenda forward and that the only way to ensure a smoother path for the next Democratic president is to grow the Democratic caucus.

"Both Barack and Hillary have told me if we only have 52 or 53 or even 54 in the Senate they're going to have to trim their agenda, let alone get something done to change America," Schumer says.

One other point from the video, noted by the ever-vigilant Paul Kane of the Washington Post. If you watch closely at the end of the clip, the last number that flashes on the screen is "57". Is that the new high-water mark for Senate Democrats this fall? ...To be continued.

For now, you'll have to content yourself with the latest Senate Line. As always, the number one ranked race is the most likely to change party control in the fall.

The Line is meant as a conversation starter so use the comments section to offer your own thoughts on the races we've included or those we've left off.

To the Line!

10. Kentucky: Here's what we know about this race: Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) always run strategically sound and very well-financed campaigns; Bruce Lunsford is off to a solid start in his bid for the Democratic nod and his new television campaign, slated to start today, should cement him as the frontrunner in the May 20 primary. Here's what we don't know: How bad will the political environment be for national Republicans in November and how will that impact McConnell, the leader of his party in Washington? Is Lunsford truly a changed candidate from the guy who spent millions only to come up short in not one, but two gubernatorial primaries over the last five years? (Previous ranking: 10)

9. Maine: A new Republican poll seems to confirm what GOP strategists have long maintained about the race between Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Rep. Tom Allen: despite the Democratic-tilt of the state the incumbent starts out with a clear edge. Collins' current lead is certain to shrink as Allen spends some of the millions he has raised to boost his name identification statewide. But, will voters throw out an incumbent that they, by all measures, like? For that to happen, the political climate nationally and in the state will have to be a mirror image of 2006. That's a possibility but not a probability at the moment. (Previous ranking: 8)

8. Oregon: While we've been a regular critic of the metabolism of state House Speaker Jeff Merkley's campaign, we also are willing to give credit where credit is due. His decision to stop ignoring activist Steve Novick and start playing offense in advance of the state's May 20 Democratic primary seems like the right move. The primary challenge from Novick may wind up being a good thing for Merkley as it has forced him to up his game in advance of the general election race against Sen. Gordon Smith (R). Is Merkley ever going to be a "rock star" candidate? No. But, given the clear Democratic lean of Oregon and Smith's long voting record, he may not have to be. (Previous ranking: 9)

7. Louisiana: For all the talk among Republicans about how vulnerable Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) is to the challenge from state Treasurer John Kennedy (R), we've yet to see evidence that Kennedy is making any real progress. Landrieu raised better than $1 million between Jan. 1 and March 31 and ended March with a whopping $4.5 million in the bank. She has also aggressively, and somewhat successfully, courted Republican leaders and elected officials -- knowing that she'll need significant crossover support to win in the Bayou State. The demographics of Louisiana seem certain to make this a competitive race. But Landrieu is doing everything right at the moment. (Previous ranking: 5)

6. Minnesota: The Fix isn't big on "we told you so's" but, when it comes to the surprising strength of comedian Al Franken's (D) Senate candidacy, well, we told you so. Franken simply outworked and out-organized 2000 Senate candidate Mike Ciresi who opted out of the race last month after it became abundantly clear Franken would win the Democratic nod at the state party's endorsement convention. Ciresi's surprise departure kicks off the general election race between Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman (R) a few months before the incumbent would have liked. Still, Coleman is a very sound candidate and a recent Republican poll that showed him leading Franken by 6 points seems about right. (Previous ranking: 6)

5. Alaska: How can a state that gave President Bush 61 percent of the vote in 2004 and an incumbent who has held his seat since 1968 possibly be ranked this high on the Line? Because, despite Alaska's Republican nature and Sen. Ted Stevens' (R) seniority, the winds of change are blowing across the Last Frontier. The defeat of former governor Frank Murkowski (R) in 2006 by reform-minded Sarah Palin (R) was one early sign and the decision by Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) to offer a primary challenge embattled Rep. Don Young (R) this cycle is further evidence. Stevens finds himself under federal investigation over a substantial remodeling of his Alaska home that was overseen by an oil services company executive who has already pleaded guilty to bribing elected officials. A recent Hays Research poll showed that the scandal has impacted Stevens' once lofty favorable numbers; 49 percent of voters said they had a favorable opinion of the Senator as compared to 46 percent who viewed him unfavorably. And, did we mention Democrats have their strongest possible candidate -- Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich -- running against Stevens? A real problem for Republicans as long as Stevens is seeking re-election. (Previous ranking: 7)

4. Colorado: With neither Rep. Mark Udall (D) nor former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) facing a serious primary challenge, the general election for this open seat has been going on for months and is already starting to get nasty. For the next seven months get used to this race being painted as "Boulder Liberal" Mark Udall versus "Big Oil Bob" Schaffer. Good times. A recent Republican poll showed Udall with a twelve-point lead, although even Democrats acknowledge that may be a bit high. (Previous ranking: 4)

3. New Hampshire: Is Sen. John Sununu (R) this cycle's Rick Santorum? Santorum began his 2006 re-election bid trailing then state Treasurer Bob Casey Jr. (D) by double digits in polling and never made up any real ground as the campaign proceeded. All the credible polling we have seen in New Hampshire shows Sununu badly trailing former governor Jeanne Shaheen (D). Sununu is less branded as a conservative than Santorum was heading into the 2006 race but the New Hampshire Senator is also nowhere close to the fundraiser that Santorum is/was. The trend lines aren't good for Republicans here. (Previous ranking: 4)

2. New Mexico: As the June 3 Republican primary nears, the race between Reps. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce gets increasingly hostile. The latest point of contention? Whether or not Pearce and Wilson backed the closure of a New Mexico Air Force base. Pearce won a victory at the pre-primary convention last month, taking 55 percent of the votes from attendees and ensuring the top spot on the ballot in June. As the Republican race heats up, Rep. Tom Udall (D) continues to chill -- sitting on an huge warchest and double-digit leads over either Wilson or Pearce. (Previous ranking: 2)

1. Virginia: Every one assumes that former governor Mark Warner's (D) decision to run for the Senate in 2008 means he isn't in the vice presidential sweepstakes. Don't be so sure. Former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, a key Warner supporter, would love to be in the Senate and would almost certainly be willing to step in if Warner was named as the veep choice of either Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) or Barack Obama (Ill.). (Previous ranking: 1)

Friday, April 4, 2008

GW and the Architect

This is a clip from Karl Rove's speech and Q&A session during an event hosted by the GW chapter of the Young America's Foundation in E Street.

Only at GW.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Our GW Alumni Hard at Work


Event Info

Meet Mark Warner!
Time and Place
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
9:00pm - 11:00pm
Teatro Goldoni
1909 K Street, NW
Washington, DC

Contact Info




Please join us for a reception to meet
Governor Mark R. Warner
to benefit his campaign for U.S. Senate



Saying you will attend on Facebook will not guarantee that you are on the guest list. Please visit the above ActBlue page to register!


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Remember, Remember the Sixteenth of August

Please forgive these people their ignorance for just a moment.
See more funny videos at CollegeHumor