Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to make life better

On our first evening in Nowy Tomysl (aka "Beyond Poznan"),  we learned about Habitat Poland's partnership with an incredible non-profit organization called Barka (there's a bit of English info for you at http://www.barkauk.org). Barka is a non profit community in which people who are rebuilding their lives help themselves and one another rebuild their lives. Basically, it involves my favorite things on Earth, like rehabilitation, problem-solving, communal efforts, and the like. The people we meet have in the past had problems with drinking/alcoholism, homelessness, criminal activity, etc. Barka helps people get off the streets and change their lives for the better; they are taken into the community but also have a responsibility to the community. The key is leadership from within, so the leader of each little Barka community (you might say: commune) is someone who has himself struggled with these things, so he can relate and lead by example. Also, Barka sends people to the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, etc. to help Polish and other Eastern European immigrants who are struggling there but might be afraid to come back home, or unable because they've lost their job and are now homeless in a foreign country, and so forth.

So, Habitat Poland has a partnership with Barka. The house we are building is for a man who has successfully passed Barka's "Jacob's Ladder" program, and so he has been rewarded with a piece of land, on which he is (and we are) now Building a house where he and his wife and two children will live. As of now, they are living in the communal Barka house, so that was our staging area for the build, meaning that unlike many other Habitat projects I've worked on, we had actual house facilities around while building the new house, so that's a fun perk. And while Mr.Homeowner worked construction with us, Ms. Homeowner made lunch for everyone (us, the other Barka commune residents who work around the farm, etc. ) and we are talking delicious, here, folks! On the first day there were these potatoes with dill that I basically wanted to face plant into. And one day there was gnocchi... two kinds... oh my heavens. ..

Anyway, the point is that Barka is awesome and on Sunday night when we arrived in Nowy Tomysl, a different Barka community in the area hosted us for a barbecue to introduce the organization and themselves. They all told us their stories and we told them our stories and why we came to Poland and we cooked kielbasa over the fire and it was beautiful.

My old boss in my public radio days, JJ Yore, once explained his theory of life thus: Life is a series of magic moments, and we can look back and see the journey from moment to moment, kind of skipping the insignificant things in between,  almost like a physical path, and we must also be careful about trying to recreate the magic moments that are over, rather than just treasuring them in memory.
This "series of magic moments" theory has always stuck with me (even though I didn't actually follow the advice he was giving me on that specific occasion), and I'd like to couple that here with what Toni Morrison wrote in the dedication of her novel, Sula, that it is sheer good fortune to miss someone before they leave you. I have thought about that sentiment over the years, and Sunday as we ate and talked bilingually and broke bread with the inspiring founder of Barka and this little community, I was filled with joy because I was there, and because I was so happy that I was able to recognize the magic moment as it was happening.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

From Warsaw to Nowy Tomysl

What's more fun than a four-hour road trip with a bunch of people you have known less than 24 hours? Precious little, I'd say.

Don't you like our cute little bus?
After breakfast Sunday morning it was time to hit the road, leaving behind the buzzing capital (Warsaw) and heading west to Wielkopolska, or as I liked to think of it, to Beyond Poznan. Our Habitat build had been described as taking place in the Poznan area, but really we were driving almost an hour west of Poznan, what with having to take some back country roads once we got off the highway. Our true destination was Nowy Tomysl, and specifically our accommodations were at the Palac Wasowo, which is a really interesting place to stay (more on that later). The house we were building was in the tiny community of Marszewo, Nowy Tomysl, and more on that later, too. First of all, let's hit the road!

As I was riding across the middle of Poland, gazing out the bus window at farms and the occasional cow or church steeple in the distance, it struck me how much everything in Poland felt so normal to me. After doing my time in Asia, I guess I'm just used to world travels tending to involve a little
A little Poland countryside. Nice, eh?
weirdness thrown at you; when you go from the U.S. to live in China you get used to wondering what's going on around you half the time. And even in Mexico, where you're super aware you're in North America and things aren't particularly bizarre, there's still randomness strewn throughout daily life, like pedestrians running across the highway, or the impatient-to-pass headlight flashers, or the
persistent use of flashers (hazards) themselves, or the city buses that will stop for you, sort of, if you flag them down, sometimes. Stuff like that. Poland, on the other hand, does not seem to offer a lot of wackiness. Way to be normal, Polska!

It was pretty, and there was the requisite chatter and group bonding that happens, but also some reading and just relaxing as we settled in to our trip, and before long we had arrived at Palac Wasowo. You'll see (if you click the link) that it kind of is a palace, a full-on country manor, built by rich folks a few hundred years ago and now a hotel. Don't be too jealous, as we weren't in the most plush digs; the twelve of us stayed in the Gardener's House, so I joked that we were the hired help. Which, in a way...  No, seriously, though. If you are ever in Poland, take a little trip to stay at the Palac Wasowo. They have great meals, beautiful dining rooms, fun features like mini-golf and a horse-and-buggy ride on the grounds, plus recreation in the main "palace" building: sauna, a little pool, a billiards room. It was kind of like the Clue mansion.

All in all, Poland continued to welcome and delight us and feed us great quantities of quality food, and we were ready to plunge into our project. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Habitat team convenes

Well, after a few days of solo travel in Warsaw,  Krakow, and Oswiecem (where Auschwitz is), I met up with my Habitat build team of volunteers on Saturday, September 27th. My fourth Habitat build, my first time in Poland.  We gathered in Warsaw, meeting at the Hotel MDM, which by the way turns out to be a really cute place on the Plac Konstitucji (I always think a I'm spelling that wrong) whence a lovely view is enjoyed while one is eating one's breakfast and/or drinking one's beer in the restaurant/bar/breakfast buffet room. And what a breakfast spread, I might add. Yum! But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Saturday night was about gathering for the first time as a team, and so our Habitat local affiliate coordinator met us and led us around the corner to a fabulous little restaurant where we feasted family style, sharing platters of food with meats and pierogis and salad and all manner of things. We introduced ourselves and initiated our two team members who are doing their first Habitat Global Village projects. This group is twelve people plus team leader. There are three married couples, so that's half the group. A couple from Alberta (way north,  I pretend they live at the North Pole), a couple from Nanaimo, BC, and a couple from Idaho. Then there are the the men, from Florida, Colorado,  and Washington/Arizona (a snowbird!), and the women, from Chicago, from Michigan, and me. In addition to the variety of places we come from, several  of which you may have noticed are places I'M from, we are an interestingly traveled group, and we among  us have done dozens of Habitat projects.

Further details to come about our adventure...

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I arrived in Krakow at night, after a fun train journey on which they gave us free coffee, a free apple, and a free bottle of water. I've been told that we should buy/eat a lot of apples because normally apparently Poland sells a lot of apples to Russia and they can't right now because of EU  sanctions. Well, I am always happy to eat a lot of apples, but does that include a random free train apple?
The main train/bus station, Krakow Glowny, dumps you into a mall, Galeria Krakowska, which normally would give me heart palpitations (a mall?!!) but somehow didn't bother me in Krakow at all.

I stayed at a cheap place, the Goodbye Lenin hostel, which I give 100% for location as it was easy to walk from there to both the main  old square and the Kazimierz area. Everything is really walkable in Krakow, actually, but GBL gets extra bonus points for having a hostel cat. ISN'T THAT AWESOME?!

So, Krakow. My time more or less consisted of walking, walking, walking. There is tons of old, charming, interesting, and pretty stuff to do and see, from Wawel Castle to the Collegium where Copernicus studied.
I ate lunch at a Ukrainian restaurant, took a zillion pictures, toured churches that have been around for hundreds of years, and attended a "Macabre Krakow" walking tour at night that taught me history through ghost, vampire, and serial killer stories.

Come to Krakow! Walk around! Have a pretzel. Stay awhile.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Day in Warsaw

I have had my first taste of Warsaw, capital of the land of one- fourth of my heritage, and I think this particular world capital is doing a lot right.

Most of my time was spent in the area near Warszawa Centralna, the city center train station and hub. I also did a long walk through the UNESCO World Heritage old town and saw Plac Zamkovy, or Castle Square, before heading to Krakow. (But don't worry, Warsaw, I'll be back!)

One of my favorite things to do in Warsaw was to play a game I call Are You My Fifth Cousin? It's easy to play. You just look at the face of every person you pass and wonder if that person is related to you, or rather, how distantly.  I never actually win this game, nor do I ever lose.

I rode the subway in Warsaw! That makes... Oh dear, let me count... my 25th city train system? Maybe? I'm probably forgetting one/some.

Basically, Warsaw makes me feel welcome, happy, and productive. Everyone is buzzing about dressed for fall in lots of black,  doing their things, and it's big, and there was lots of sunshine. So I feel happy about Warsaw and can't wait to explore it more.

Meanwhile, fun fact: Chopin went off to live his composer life in Austria  or whatever and although he was buried there, his heart was returned, per his wishes, to be buried at a church in Warsaw. Really,  Fryderyk? I mean, I get the symbolism and stuff, but like, ewww. And this was well before medical flights express transporting organs for donation on planes in dry ice and stuff like that.

I'll be back in a couple days, Warsaw.

UPDATE: Further along in my trip,  I've been informed that it wasn't just Chopin's heart that was brought back, but that the lower half of his body was buried wherever and the upper half of his body was brought back to be buried here. I'm not sure if that makes it more or less grisly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eastern Europe, or
Everyone knows I am not a doughnut

I started studying German my freshman year of high school, and that was when I discovered my immense love for learning foreign languages.  Frau Glazner...wo ist sie jetzt?!  And now, finally, after all these years, I actually found myself in Germany.

OK, so it was a brief trip, but it was a whetting of the appetite for all things Deutschland. On my way to Poland for my Habitat for Humanity volunteer trip in Poland, I had a ten-hour layover in Berlin. Even allowing for airport time, that is still a full day to see a new city! By new, I of course mean, new-to-me, a city I haven't seen before. And what a city Berlin is.

And let me just say that if you ever have a ten-hour layover, or an eight-hour layover, or maybe even a four-hour layover, at Berlin Tegel Airport, I recommend that you, too, hop into the city, because that is one small airport with very little to do. I was like -- are we really in a world capital here? It was more like a Bali or Manila kind of airport, with fewer palm trees. There was a Starbucks, and cafes and stuff, but it was weird -- it was, you know, small and not carpeted and outside-y. AND, the best part is, it is super-duper easy to hop on the TXL express bus, which runs between Tegel Airport and Alexanderplatz. I hopped off at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, which you absolutely cannot miss, and which is a big train station close to the Reichstag, Brandenburg Tor, etc. and consequently a perfect place to hop off the bus. Did I mention the bus costs only 2 euros 60 euro cents each way? Basically, you have no excuse for not checking out Berlin on your layover.

The Reichstag building, where the Bundestag meets, has a famous and symbolic dome on top that you can visit, provided you register ahead of time (which I did do, online from the U.S., but more on that in a sec). It is symbolic because it is transparent, and the people can walk around it and look out at Berlin and also look down on the Bundestag, the government, representing the people, and the legislators can look up, and see the people watching them, and be accountable...isn't that nice? Anyway, I gazed upon it and saw the people walking up in the dome, but I ended up not going inside as instead I did a free two-hour walking tour of Berlin that turned into a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour, thus causing me to miss my Reichstag appointment. So, this whole Free Tour thing is now totally a thing, I have learned today. What will those millennials think of next? A young man (from the U.S., who lives in Berlin) led me and about 20 other people from a slew of nations on a tour (in English) from the Brandenburg Tor all around the area and he talked about the history of Berlin and it was, I must say, quite enjoyable. At the end, you donate whatever you feel like, and that's how the tour guides get paid. Lo and behold, upon my arrival in Warsaw, I find out they have Warsaw Free Tours as well--this company is totally doing its thing, and I daresay I approve.

Anyway, among the things I saw on my tour were the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, sometimes shorthand called Berlin's "Holocaust Memorial" although technically that's not correct because there are separate memorials to the murdered gays, the murdered Roma, the murdered disabled/handicapped, etc. The memorial is very interesting, and controversial. The architect did not want something that told people what to think so he created this space that is very interesting and moving, and you really are forced to kind of grapple with it. I am not sure I really want to explain it, because the artist apparently took that into account, that once someone reads a description or sees a picture, they feel less like they need to go experience a place, and I get what he's saying. Let's just say it's not really sculpture, more just like walking through stone slabs, and it is not a traditional display at all. I loved it.

We also saw "Checkpoint Charlie," which my tour guide called the "Disneyland of Berlin" although I find that insulting to Disneyland as it is actually the Times Square of Berlin, i.e., concocted for tourists and not real. Like, there's a sign there saying "You are entering the American sector" but it's not the original sign, and there are random people dressed up as U.S. soldiers (is that even legal? some people I know on Facebook would probably have a coronary at the sacrilege) so tourists can take pictures with the "American soldiers" at the checkpoint ... um, no. Just no. There were some interesting informative displays there, though, with pictures of all the dudes at the Potsdam Conference and stuff.

After my tour, when I was left to my own Berlin devices, I walked some more, strolled the Unter den Linden, had a currywurst for lunch, checked out a gallery with a nice display about Willy Brandt (former West Berlin mayor, activist leader, and Nobel laureate), walked around the Tiergarten, and basically enjoyed more gazing upon Berlin.

And then my whole flying-to-Europe-one-or-two-hours-of-sleep-it's-the-next-day-what-time-is-it? hit me and I was suddenly SO tired that I headed back to the airport at 2 p.m. instead of pushing it 'til the last minute for my 5pm flight. Flight to Poland! I am in Poland now!

And so far Warsaw is lovely, but I will tell you more about that in future days; for now just note that you should totally check out Berlin for a day because it's pretty and fantastic. And Germany is totally grappling with its history in a way that some other entities don't seem willing/able to do.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I remember when, I remember, I remember... when in the course of human events

Today, the 13th anniversary of the tragic September 11th/nine-eleven/World Trade Center however-you-personally-like-to-say-it terrorist attacks on multiple U.S. cities that caused the deaths of thousands, has turned into a veritable "Where I was when" fest on the ol' Facebook. Rather than add to that with a mere status update, I thought I'd give a quiz about where I was during some of the big news events of the Generation X Lifetime. I'll tell you my vivid memory of where I was when... and you see if you can determine what newsworthy event happened when I remember Where I Was When it happened.  (Small prize to the winner!)
note: events are in chronological order, which might help you figure them out...

1. Phoenix. Home sick from elementary school that day. Watching an Indiana Jones flick, I think on, like, The Movie Channel, in our Villa Rita house living room when Grandma called to see if we were watching the news. Since we weren't, she informed my mother what had happened, and needless to say Mom hurried in, shut off the movie, and turned to some broadcast network or other. How will I ever know what happened to Indy, mom?!?! Does he vanquish the enemy and get the girl and save the treasure or what? Before Setpember 11th, this event was often described as "my generation's" Kennedy-assassination-like moment, but I am going to demonstrate here that I remember where I was when I heard other news, too. This was the first biggie for people of a certain age (mine), though.

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

2. Phoenix. Chez Marcia, one of my high-school best friends. Watching a little after-school Jeopardy (nerds then, nerds now, nerds forever!) on the small TV set her family had on the kitchen/breakfast nook counter. A breaking news alert meant we never did get that final jeopardy answer, but instead watched several hours of harrowing reporting from people who were indeed in real jeopardy.  (Now both Harrison Ford AND Alex Trebek have been interrupted. Is nothing sacred?)

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

3. Provo, Utah. Walked into my friend Ranj's apartment and I distinctly remember being on the stairs next to her kitchen and she poked her head into the stairway to announce the news. She was either on the phone with her younger sister or had just got off the phone; said little sister had been plunged deep into mourning, for she had apparently just recently been to a concert where he waved at her... (She was probably already wearing black, though, to the best of my recollection of her wardrobe.)

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

4. Back in Phoenix. Working at Best Western's reservations call center one seemingly normal evening, and suddenly the call volume just plummets. Nothing. The phone lines aren't dead, but nothing's coming in. Finally a guy calls, and as we're checking out his double room and continental breakfast options, he asks, "Are you watching this?"  I warily reply, "Watching...what?" Ahhhh. That explains it. I had a 15-minute break coming up; naturally, everyone in the break room downstairs was glued to the TV. Not that there was really anything happening, but that was kind of the point of this one. What was going to happen? Anything? Just keep moving, as they say.

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

5. Phoenix. Listening to the radio this time, at home in the apartment I lived in with my mom on Thunderbird, getting ready to leave for class. I was an avid listener of the 106.3 The Edge morning show with Jayn Sayd and Dead Air Dave (Willobee having left for greener L.A. pastures). They read the news and I altered my morning radio routine just a little by turning on the living room TV to get some visuals and more details, though I kept the radio playing in the bedroom. And I totally remember lots of "Who's the Muslim?" speculation. (Not necessarily on the part of Jayn and Dave, just people in general.)

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

6. Phoenix, but just in town visiting, staying with Mom at her 19th Avenue apartment. Very recently returned from Cuba (by like a week), I was trying to practice my Spanish one night. We were watching this already-starting-to-develop story on TV, and I had insisted on keeping it on the Spanish news channel for a bit, so I could impress myself with my new language listening skills, as opposed to my previous growing-up-in-Phoenix life in which I had always cruised right by the noticias en espaƱol. Well, I was letting the details wash over me aurally when suddenly the newscaster upped the ante and I sat bolt upright. "Mom!" I said, then repeated (in English) the devastating new detail in all its finality, adding, "I think that's what he said?!"  She quickly flipped to an English news station, which confirmed the sad news.

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

7. Los Angeles. I had bizarrely fallen asleep with the TV on the night before, which was weird because at that time of my life I rarely if ever watched TV, let alone fell asleep with it on overnight. I had been drowsily continuing to sleep and drift with no real awareness of what the morning newscasts were saying until a sudden noise and clamor on the television was enough to jar me awake, around 7 a.m.. Took one look at the screen and then jumped out of bed and ran to look out the window, sure I was going to see bombs raining down from the sky over L.A., or some such thing.

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

8. Boston. It was a Sunday morning and I was on my way to work at Borders, which entailed me taking a quick bus ride from my house to Harvard station, stopping by the in-subway little Dunkin' Donuts for my coffee, then proceeding through the station to catch the red line of the T. The station had that sleepy Sunday morning feel, with only alternative-shift kind of commuters like myself passing through. I'm not sure I'd ever noticed that there even were little TV sets anywhere in that station, but that day I realized the Dunkin' Donuts workers were watching this oh-so-satisfactory-to-many announcement.

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

9. Andong, Korea. Way ahead of many of you time-of-day-wise, it was Monday morning for us. Brian and I were at home in our apartment, working on our various things. We often had CNN International on in the background, while also both being online; I was likely writing up and researching stuff for About.com, with multiple tabs open, and one of them was probably Facebook. In other words, the news suddenly came at us from several sources at once, but I definitely stepped out of our "study"/spare room into the living room where the TV was (and where Brian was) and we watched some footage of, as Brian called it (referencing his girl Miley), the "party in the U.S.A."

News Event? ______________  Year?  __________

10. Honorable mention: These two bits of breaking news weren't quite as major, no offense intended, but are memorable and particularly so for me because I was basically in the same place and circumstances, two years apart, for these eerily similar announcements. Both times, Brian and I were staying in our same beloved apartment-hotel in Phuket, Thailand. Both times, it just so happened that the TV was on with news in the background, I was focused on doing other stuff on my laptop, and Brian was lying  on the bed. Both times, the news appeared (thank goodness in English) on the screen and I said to Brian, "Hey, ________ Ho----n died!"  Both times, a similar tragic cause of death of not-that-far-apart-in-age people. 

News Events? _______________   Years? ___________

Well, ladies and gents, how did you do on the quiz?  And do you remember where you were when these things happened? 

Isn't it interesting to consider that in the course of all these newsworthy events, and despite my other ways of getting the news on multiple occasions, my reaction was always to get more details from television news? Talkin' bout my generation...I guess that's just how we do. (Some other generations do that, too.) Although I have logged fewer television-watching hours than many of my Gen-X cohorts, I recognize its place as a sort of "gathering" place for us all to watch, hear, learn, and experience when earth-shattering news happens. I used to think of breaking news on television as a kind of proxy for a town square, or suburban street, or dorm hallway, where instead of rushing out to say, "Oh my gosh, neighbors! This news!" we all watch from our own homes/workplaces and collectively experience it that way, and later talk face-to-face and remember together what we watched separately and yet kind of together. I suppose Facebook is kind of sort of where we do that now, although Facebook itself is still not really breaking news to us, just alerting us to "trending" things that we are all putting up there, news that we got from somewhere else first. Would I prefer to experience these things on my smartphone, tablet, or other handheld device? Abso-!@#$^&-lutely not. The time element is key: whatever was being broadcast over the airwaves, it was being broadcast at that time, and though some might have tuned in earlier than others, we then watched our many minutes or hours or days of coverage as they unfolded. Watching uploaded videos individually on our phones at our leisure removes that transmission (I'm sorry, millennials, should I say that "streaming"?) element from the collective experience. And although I have never really had to get earth-shattering news from the morning newspaper headlines, I definitely of an age where I liked to look to the morning paper for the details, the full story, the yellow ribbon on top of the front page of The Arizona Republic when the hostages in Iran were released (I was a tiny tyke -- that and John Lennon's death are basically the first news events that I remember, ever), or the Christmas Day end of the Soviet Union (who wants to blare TV news on Christmas? but reading the paper surrounded by a tree and opened presents seemed all right...)   I'm pretty sure I saved a few major The-Next-Day newspapers over the years, although I might have eventually recycled them, as I didn't find them while we were unpacking here in our new apartment in Chicago. We do have a television, though, and we watched Obama last night, talking to the nation about air strikes and ISIL...and so it goes, and so it goes.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Touchdown: Hail to the Walmart Shopper

Let's all look up the definition of "too little, too late" in the dictionary and find a picture of Walmart.

I'm just sitting here with some Kopinskis and some cats, doing my thing, you know, as you do, with the ol' television on in the background showing a little Detroit Lions game and whatnot (yes, yes, we moved to Chicago; we're back up in Michigan for a few days to attend a wedding and retrieve the cats) and along comes a Walmart commercial in which a parental figure can get all the things needed for life or whatever at !@#$&* Walmart (I'm a little sketchy on the initial details since I wasn't paying close attention, because a. background television b. Walmart) and here's his ten- or twelve- or whatever-year-old daughter and Dad can get the soccer uniform supplies and then cut to the cheerleading squad and Dad can get the pom-poms  at Walmart and so on, and then -- then! -- THEN!! How dare you, Walmart??!?! I shake my fist at you, you mighty behemoth of evil! You swine! YOU DUMB HORRIBLE... -- then, it's a football game. You know, good ol' MURR-ican football, and Dad can get the pigskin at Walmart, there it is in the top of his shopping bag, for his daughter to toss around. Get it? His daughter! Wants to play American football! And there's ol' Dad with his befuddled face, like "Whaaa-huh? My daughter? Oh gosh gee willickers, there she is on the field tossing the football, aren't I the swell dad." Girls can play football, too. (And get concussions). End scene.

Really, Walmart? NOW you've decided to be all cutesy-wutesy about the 'tween girls being able to hold their own with the boys? NOW? It only took you twenty years, right, no big deal! I HATE WALMART (everyone knows this) but the first reason I hated Walmart (anyone who has been paying attention knows this) stems from the 1990s when some jackwads protested a t-shirt (it's a t-shirt, OK, jackwads? gtf over yourselves) that Walmart (or was it Wal Mart then?) had for sale with Margaret from Dennis the Menace -- you remember Margaret? you remember Dennis the Menace, whom she forever tormented, and he bugged her right back? you remember how they were, what? FIVE? six? OK, so here's Margaret from Dennis the Menace on this t-shirt, arms widespread, proclaiming "Someday a woman will be PRESIDENT!" and much to Dennis' (and what's-his-name, the other boy, the friend's) chagrin, you know, Margaret thinks maybe it will be her, eh? And some total effing JACKWADS who are loser jerky dumb fat idiota stupid Walmart swine protested that this t-shirt (just so we're totally clear here, folks: it's a t-shirt) (with a comic strip character on it) went against family values (that phrase doesn't mean ANYthing!!!!!!!! at all!) and what did Walmart do? Why, pulled the t-shirt of course. Because when it comes to reactionary jackwad politics, Walmart is all like, sign me right up! Let's have some family values up in here! Let's not let a five-year-old fictional character fling her arms at the sky and say "Someday a woman will be president!" Because FAMILY VALUES!  I hate everyone in the world. But mostly I hate Walmart.

So, just no, Walmart. No. You suck, and you made a totally conscious decision to suck, and you cannot unsuck by making a commercial twenty years later now that everyone from Beyonce to Taylor Swift is a feminist. You missed the boat -- on purpose -- because you suck. You chose to be the suckiest suckers ever, and all you ever do nowadays is try to unsuck: "Oh, we sell organic meat now, blah blah blah. Oh, we help our employees with assistance programs now, blah blah blah. Oh we're so sustainable in the great environmental pit of doom that is China (where shopping Walmart is buying local, eh). Once the trendy yuppie gluten-shunning crowd makes enough noise we recalculate our figures and make a policy and for some reason everyone falls for it and goes Ahhhh, look at Walmart, they're on their best behavior... they're not so bad..." YES THEY ARE, PEOPLE. They are so bad. So. Bad. They are the ultimate example of not doing f*ck all to be awesome until everyone else has jumped off the awesome bridge and they are left with no choice. And now, they have apparently decided that little ol' Margaret can be president after all. Or at least maybe play in the NFL. Which is probably a more envied position in the U.S. of A. anyway, right?

 Hate. I hate. I have all the hatred. Walmart. !@#^$&*(#