« 2005 June | Main | 2005 April »

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Important Cultural Observations for Our Time
I was glad to know that 958 people in Massachusetts are still saying "tonic."

From the Archives
On a sunny day in autumn, the dump in Hollis, NH always seems to be packed with people. My mother has always said that the dump is the social hub of the town. Nearly everyone in town passes through about once a week: perhaps that’s what makes it such a popular place for political campaigns.

That Saturday had political campaign leaflets and a group of schoolchildren selling candy bars to raise money for the elementary school playground. As I pulled in and started hauling recyclables, these kids asked if I would like to buy a candy bar for their cause. I told them “in a minute,” as my hands were full and people and automobiles were teeming around me, each more eager than the next to get this smelly job out of the way and get on to more fun things.

Having dumped my paper goods, I moved back to the table to ask the kids about their cause. Somewhere during my fledgling work experience and law school, I became something like a grandmother in my own eyes: I like to have kids explain to me what they are selling and exactly why. Not that I have ever seen a child who is raising money for a bad cause, I just like to know that they know what it is they are doing beyond selling sugar.

I didn’t get very far in my interrogation, because the mother of some of the children was holding a tiny kitten in a fold of her sweatshirt. I was instantly captivated, thinking that this must be a new addition to their family that they couldn’t bear to leave at home while they spent the day outside.

I was wrong. The woman explained to me that someone had abandoned a litter there at the dump and along with passing out the political leaflets and selling chocolate her little group was trying to get harried Hollis residents to take them home. With the skill of a snake-oil saleswoman, she handed me the little tabby and smiled an angelic smile of wonder as we both discovered that he had double paws with claws of velcro.

The double paws did it. As a child I had always wanted a cat with those four-wheel drive feet. Within a few impulsive moments, I had made the decision to take him home with me - forget about the fact that I had been living with Mom since my graduation from school and subsequent job hunt. Forget about the fact that it’s not practical to take on a pet when you don’t know where your life will lead you in a month. I had to have him.

As I looked up from this appealing baby, everything slowed down a bit, movie-style. I saw other people holding kittens - these people were laughing and talking with the children, infected by the kids’ energetic enthusiasm and softened by exposure to the tiny felines. Suddenly, other people didn’t seem to be in such a hurry to get the Saturday dump run over with. They smiled at me, as my new little tyrant scrambled up to my shoulder. The kids offered to help me with my bottles. A man traded me a cardboard box that was sturdier than the hastily reconstructed one from my own trunk. Surrounded by garbage and noise, the helpfulness and good cheer of the people of my hometown reminded me of the good things of small town life.

Simon is grown now - he sits on my lap with typical feline stolidity, no longer that purring baby who rolled over onto his back and waved outsized, oven-mitt paws at my distant face. But he still looks up at me with steady, trusting eyes. He is a lasting reminder of my hometown. Where else could you go to the dump and come home with a baby?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day Gardening Extra
The "Back 40" - where the sun-loving plants like to hang out:

The herb garden:

A hanging garden, study in scarlet:

Lavender plants. Also, Henry the cement turtle:

We visited the National Arboretum yesterday. The koi just inside proved to be very popular with my fish-loving husband.

Picture007.jpg Picture008.jpg Picture006.jpg The little ones proved far more adept at glorping up pellets than the big ones, which made me wonder how the big ones stay big. (In case anyone is worried, we were feeding them the Arboretum-approved fish food.)

Friday, May 27, 2005

Very Important Information
Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend
I have a complicated relationship with some books. I have old favorites that I reread. These books range from classics to the less demanding class of literature. I reread mostly for two reasons: the first is comfort. I have old favorites containing lots of humor and fairly unambiguous happy endings. They provide escapism, pure and simple. Then there are the books I reread to put my head in a different place. These generally fall into the category of "classics" - the writing is uniformly excellent, the music of the language itself tends to change the way I write and even the way I think. I hear myself thinking in the measured, wordy cadences of Dickens or I reframe the things I see and hear in the wry sarcasm of Austen.

The classics may frustrate or confound me, but they have yet to disappoint. Not so with the less durable forms of literature. I recently reread a book whose cover is worn and creased. I have owned it since my college years and it has followed me around through many parts of the country. It has several story lines which converge and thread together. The characters in the various story lines are very different in outlook, upbringing, employment, and aim. I used to reread that book on a fairly regular basis. I would even sometimes reread just one of the story lines, picking over the thick paperback to lift the thread of one character out because that was what seemed the most comforting at the time.

My recent rereading of this book was a huge disappointment. The characters seemed like manipulated game pieces on a big board, shoved around to suit the omniscient narrator's whim. Supposedly wise characters behaved irrationally when it suited the plot, supposedly intricate plans gone awry were referenced without any indication of what those plans were, leaving me suspicious as to whether the author had any idea of what they might be either. A truly inexplicable love at first sight is resolved by a happy ending contrived from a deus ex machina loophole. My memories of the book, which smoothed over the rough edges and skipped over the plot gaps, were better than the book itself.

I would have been happier leaving that book in my memory, rather than bringing it into the present's light to expose its flaws. But it is there now, sitting in the glare of the spotlight of my current tastes and knowledge. I am doing my best not to sit in judgment of the youthful selves who loved it, because I know that what I loved then and what I am irritated with now are not the same. I loved its spirit of adventure and the play of new ideas then. I find its technical flaws and overwrought romanticism unbearable now. But what is most sad is that my shelf of comfort reading is now one book lighter.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Bad Website Catalog, Neat Cutlery Jewelry
Plus, you get to use The Tick's battle cry of, "SPOOON!!"

-- Thanks, Rana!

Google Searches v. 8
Good morning all -- after days of cold, rain, and other assorted weather ickiness it actually looks nice outside. Of course, I have been sitting here doing the mental equivalent of making a paper-clip chain, so I am falling back on the glory of Google to help me out of this rut. (Volume 7 is here)

injectable heroine - Get away from me with that syringe, you sick freak.

burger king pickle whistle - I find it rather impressive that WoT is on the first page of this search. I am not sure why, but there it is.

plural of geranium - Miracle of miracles, it's "geraniums." I think any non-ironic use of the term "gerania" should probably merit a sound beating with a first edition hardback of Onward and Upward in the Garden.

nobody here today typing - Someone is obviously a fan.

will smith’s house - Oh, for crying out loud, people. I have gotten several of these - I am not sure what upwelling in the public consciousness suddenly caused such curiosity about his living arrangements. I am not related to that famous Mr. Smith and I know nothing about his house.

jill - For some inexplicable reason, on the day this search came in my site was the number 2 Google result. With typical Googly whimsy, I am not even in the first few pages now.

home repair; on my walls behind pictures yellow stain - This is almost disturbingly poetic. I vacillate between intense curiosity as to what problem this person was trying to solve and an intense desire to never know.

bohemian babe clothing - Heh. I wish. I went through a fairly bohemian stage, but am mostly just preppy as all get out now. It is far more practical for me.

typing games that are sports - The 100-yard Smith Corona sprint? Nope. Sorry. I got nuthin'.

exploding prairie dog - Ouch. That's just gross. However, I can use this search as a sneaky excuse to plug explodingdog.com which I love.

hollywood ruined kabbalah - Oh, let's just not go there again, shall we?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

June is Coming - Get Prepared.
Adult Women! You have nothing to lose except your minds!

Change Your Shorts, Change Your Life*
Sometimes it takes a brain a bit of time to catch up with current events. I ceased to be employed in conventional terms about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have gone from being frantically employed in job-searching to mostly self-employed and somewhat less frantically employed in job-searching. I have a tidy little business these days, and while I am not crazy about the feast or famine nature of self-employment, I cannot honestly call myself "unemployed" either.

Having taken that piece of information completely on board, and having a semi-superstitious belief in the power of suggestion, I looked at my daily category of "Unemployment" and decided that I am done with it. It does not represent reality, and it certainly does not represent my ambition or my aims. So to heck with it. "Daily Life" is now the default and I will probably create new categories moving forward.

One of the limitations of iBlog (the blogging software that this fine website uses) is lack of ability to assign multiple categories to a single entry. I have heard the Movable Type siren song and its ability to assign multiple categories to one post for some time, but I don't have anyone tech-savvy enough who loves me enough (e.g. will help me for free) in order to get a MT site going, which requires some knowledge of the arcana of PHP and SQL. Checking out a PHP/MySQL book from the library caused a minor short-circuit in my brain, so I soldier on with iBlog, one category at a time.

But I am going to start walking my talk and acting like I have some control over future events, even if it is something as minor as a blogging category.

* Yes, Richard - the title is for you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Poem Generated from WoT
Writing or perhaps even
admits to my
own adoption I waited for information? Sounds
crazy .Saturday
I made my Husband as a
nearby airport. No, Not
Star Wars I hate it At that
was awake for
piece, and the word
I do! not even
a course this is it
together, as you the type
the sight
of them
to the two an
ankle I was an unlovely one way,
I may 18, 2005 Rain And
head Joni Mitchell, Twisted
knees, ankles... all it anything
else. can be making everybody
insists that extended silence means I heard
of activity , I
can be able
to the intensely hot, muggy summers
the actual essay portion
of what else can
come out
as well.

Generated here.

Sunshower Window Box
Today is a writer's block sort of day. So I'll share the photograph of yesterday's sun-shower and the window box on the front porch (click thumbnail for full photo):

I wish the photograph could convey even half of the movie atmosphere the rain, the sunshine, and the mist evaporating off of the pavement gave the afternoon. The colors of the trees and the flowers were more vivid than usual. The dog, out for his evening constitutional, blinked up at the bright sunlight while shaking the rain off of his coat. Even he seemed confused and delighted by the odd weather.

Monday, May 23, 2005

"I've Got My Tinfoil Hat On." (Link is to Flash movie with sound)

Orwellian Yoga
"...So why should I feel sorry
If they just couldn’t understand
The idiomatic logic
That went on in my head..."
-- Joni Mitchell, "Twisted"

Knuckles, knees, ankles... They're all the same, aren't they? They have a certain percussive resonance, to be sure, but despite all being joints they would make for a very easy Sesame Street game of "which of these is not like the other." However, you wouldn't know it from the nonsense that sometimes falls out of my face-hole when I am teaching. It is one thing to tell people to straighten their knees. How you straighten an ankle I am still puzzling out.

Other times I unwisely and inadvertently attempt minor tongue-twisters like, "the fingertips and the knuckles where the fingers meet the hands." This can come out as, "the fingle uncle handle foogle." The problem is, I know what I am trying to say. My brain is going one way, my mouth has an agenda of its own, and my ears are not paying any attention at all until the class looks at me with wrinkled foreheads scrunched into puzzled frowns. The uneasy laughter is also unsettling (Don't worry - she only sounds crazy).

Saturday I made my crowning goof, though. I usually say, "Press all four corners of your feet into the floor." On Saturday, I said, "Press all four feet into the floor." Instantly, I got the quizzical expressions and confused laughter. For once, I didn't skip a beat. "Yes, folks - this is Orwellian Yoga. Four legs good, two legs bad."

Friday, May 20, 2005

Apologies for the no-post yesterday. My schedule went a wee bit crazy on me.

It is raining today - soft, drumming, soporific rain. And yet, my horoscope says to cut back on the caffeine. Obviously the astrologers and the meteorologists need to get it together, as there is no way I can cut back on caffeine when the trees outside are going shhhwwwooshhhh, and the rain is going thrumthrumthrumthrum.

It seems that a great deal of them Internets is buzzing with reviews and mini-reviews of Revenge of the Sith, so it seems like an appropriate time for me to make a confession: I have not seen "Star Wars" I and II. We even own "Episode I" (Thomson Financial sent it out as part of a series of ridiculously expensive promotions a few years ago -- that was about six months before they started laying people off. Hmm...). I watched about 20 minutes of it, got horrifically bored, and went to bed. From what I have heard of the movie, it appears I got bored just before the point where most people segué from bored to annoyed, so I suppose I got off lightly.

But this weekend is unlikely to contain movie-viewing (most weekends are unlikely to contain movie-viewing in our household -- we've even fallen behind on our usual "one movie per quarter" quota). Aside from the normal round of Yoga, I am going to be attending a fly-fishing course this weekend. Yes, you heard me correctly. John asked if I wanted to try it, I gave it some thought and said, "Why not?"

You can stop laughing now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A Scanner, Some Old Patterns, and...
Take Me out of the Ball Game
Do you know anyone who brags about having been picked first for sports in school? Neither do I. To go even further, I don't think I know anyone who even admits to it.

When I was a youngster (insert cackling crone-voice and the ominous squeak of a rocker), sports were insanely important. They were important to the schools I went to (why? I do not know - it's not like we got funding for being good at field hockey), they were important to my classmates, and because they were a key source of daily shame and embarrassment, they were also important to me. Most team sports are founded on one thing: running. This is a thing I am particularly, spectacularly bad at. I am slow. After just a few yards, my legs begin to feel like tree trunks, and using them to propel me into the air and across a few feet only to do it again on the other side, repeat ad infinitum, seems ludicrous. The spectacle of me lumbering slowly after a small white ball, stick in hand, while my teammates on the sidelines turned several shades of purple screaming at me to "GO!" was an unlovely one to say the least. And on the individual scale of my own ability, field hockey was the sport I was good at (I had good stick skills - if I could just get there in time, the ball wouldn't get past me. It was the small matter of me getting there that was the problem).

As a result of all of this spectacular inability, I was almost always chosen last for those scrimmages or gym-class games where the two shiny, popular jock-types get to be the "captains," picking their friends (other shiny, popular jock-types) in descending order until it was just another girl and I. Always the same two. Once, recognizing the obvious, a gym teacher selected the other un-sporty girl and me to be the "captains." This was an abomination - a reversal of the usual order which had the inverse effect I am sure she intended. We did not feel better about ourselves. We knew we were still the last choices for the team. The only result of this bit of stunt casting was to make us feel even more conspicuous in our lack of athletic ability.

All of this maudlin remembrance is to this end: I know I was the last one picked, and there were mighty good reasons for it. Kids are Darwin's little darlings, competitive to the core, and I was picked last because while I may have been "fit" by objective standards (heart rate good, in shape, whatnot - these small, private school sports programs do not let you escape without doing your share of activity), I was unfit in competitive terms.

So why is it that now whenever there are reminiscences of school-sports-past, I never hear anyone say, "Oh - I was always the one who did the picking," or "I was always picked first," or even "I wasn't ever picked last or first, but always somewhere in the middle." Everybody insists that they were picked last. Even allowing for the self-selecting nature of my geeky circle of friends, this is not possible. I suspect that age and time have worked their miracles and what was once cool is now a source of mild embarrassment.

Do I have to finally admit that all of those people who told me it wouldn't matter one day were right? Dang - I hate it when that happens.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Love Child of Edward Gorey and South Park
Making Fiends (link is to Flash site with deliciously weird animations - thanks to Rana for the tip!).

Diversity is Edible
Now for the actual essay portion of today's entry. Occasionally, John and I talk about where we might go next. "Next" is the misty future, by the way - usually spoken of in ten-year terms. It was ten years out there when we moved here, and it's ten years out now. Just so you know -- we have no immediate plans to pack up the critters and the geraniums and head for some distant outpost.

Obviously we have people that root us here. We like it here for a lot of other reasons as well: the area has cultural attractions coming out of every orifice, aside from the intensely hot, muggy summers the weather is reasonable, and there is a significant amount of diversity as well. "Diversity" is one of those words that sounds rather noble in the abstract and is sometimes hard to meaningfully define in daily life. Well, I've got your diversity right here - it's called the "Grand Mart" and it's our local multiethnic grocery store.

I had been to the Grand Mart once before, but our friends Alicia and Guillermo had never been, so the three of us went there last night. Alicia loaded up on Indian and Mexican goodies and Guillermo inquired after guanabana fruit (too early in the season, but I gave myself and the other two an earworm singing "Na- naaa, nananah -- guanabana -- Nah, nana-na..." If you don't know what I'm talking about, I can't help you.)

Unfortunately, the cameraphone does not have the resolution to show you the curry leaves and the two types of Mexican cheese and the fresh turmeric and all of the other lovely eatables. I was also afraid of taking the photograph of the insanely hostile checkout girl, who seemed to want to kill her cash register with every stabbing push of a button. However, this is the type of thing I would madly miss if we were to move to someplace more homogenous.

Hanging from the Monkey Bars
First off, Happy Birthday TIM!!! It's been - what - 28, 29 years since third grade? We have much better superheroes now than we did back then - wanna come over? I'll be Fray - who do you want to play?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Very, Very Scary.
I wonder how many legitimate queries this site gets. If it is a number greater than zero, color me terrified.

Leaf Life
It is truly a beautiful spring around here. Too bad it seems to be making everybody completely miserable.

John is upstairs sneezing great, booming, colossal sneezes. Just about everyone I know has been affected this year, regardless of what their allergy profile has been in years past. The human population is suffering mightily. Yet I turn my reddened, bleary eyes to the back porch and see my migratory geraniums settling happily into their summer home, herbs variously stretching for the sun or tumbling out of their tub, and John's tomatoes and peppers which practically grow as you are looking at them. Turning to the front of the house, the pink azaleas are in full flower and the white ones are revving their engines. More geraniums are extending stiff, woody stems which will soon be tipped with colorful blooms, and the hostas dance happily in the breeze.

So why must the plants' happiness cause so much malaise in humans? I do not know - I just hope for rain to rinse some of the pollen from the air and assuage my irritation with the sight of happy plant life.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Don't Ask.
I was desperate to find a random thing. (Link is to flash file with sound)

Cynicism? Me?
Driving down the Beltway yesterday, I heard a caller on the open phones session of the Kojo Nnamde Show refer to the flight of the misguided Cessna as "the attack." Attack? Not even the news media, howling for a juicy story, is calling it anything but a mistake. I could more credibly call his use of the word "attack" an "attack" on my moving automobile (Imagine the scene - smoking Beltway wreckage and me saying, "His use of the word 'attack' was the direct cause of my eyes rolling back in my head, officer, which caused twenty-seven car pileup.")

Another caller compared this incident to JFK Jr.'s nighttime crash and insisted that light planes not be allowed into the air without a battery of instruments. Right. These guys weren't in danger of crashing due to sudden darkness at noon - unless it was due to terror of having scrambled fighter jets appear around them to escort them to a nearby airport.

No, no - the really frightening thing is that the DC Police department were not alerted to the incident until it was almost over - and then it was only by accident. The Feds are evacuating Congress (Blackberries all atwitter) and the way the DC Police finds out about this is when a Capitol Police intelligence official called in to the DC Police headquarters for information. (I would love to hear the tapes of that call - "Err... A plane what? Where? Wait a minute -you're calling me for information? Sounds like you have more of it than I do!")

At least the breakdown in communication was caused by an innocent mistake - I'm very sure it will all be fixed from here...

ETA: I had meant to include a link to Doghouse Riley's description of the stellar media coverage during the "attack." So there it is.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Okay, Now this Explains a Lot
I am capable of lots and lots of speech.

Okay - those of you who know me offline can stop laughing now. Yes, what is written above can be considered a bit of an understatement. I do not just love the written word - I love words. I love ideas. I love talking about them and listening to others talk about them. My loved ones know that extended silence means I am ill or very tired. It is rare that I do not have something to say.

Many have also noted that I tend to wave my hands around a lot when I talk. Don't stand too close to me when I am saying something - I might just inadvertently poke your eye out. All of this gesticulation looks especially silly when I am on the phone, as it happens whether someone can actually see me or not.

It appears there is a reason for all of this literal hand-waving. Apparently, wafting my digits to and fro allows me to access language more fluently. So, for those of you who laugh at me when I dabble my dactyls during a particularly fertile verbal riff, remember that they are simply playing the mental keyboard of my vocabulary. And for my father, who once insisted that if my hands were gone I wouldn't be able to speak - well, Dad, it seems you may have been right.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

There's a tiny cuteness dart in my skin. Ouch. There's another...

My husband, as we say in New England, is wicked smaht. He has passed his second semester in his masters program with straight A's. I am married to a man with a 4.0 GPA.

This is definitely a good thing on many levels: first of all, it makes all of those evenings where he came home, ate dinner and watched the "Daily Show" in 20 minutes ("Welcome to the Daily Show!"...ba-boop!...crunch..."I'm going to study.") worthwhile. Secondly, it increases the odds of scholarship funds. Lastly, it is fun and fantastic to see him excel at this.

When I graduated from law school, Mom was in the process of considering the phrase, "I'm proud of you." She disliked the way it seemed to co-opt the accomplishment of another person. By being "proud of" someone, it seemed like you had some share in their achievement. She especially found it odious when that other person had nothing whatsoever to do with the accomplishment or perhaps even had (either intentionally or ignorantly) impeded it. At that point, she started saying that she was "pleased for" anyone who had achieved something special.

So, I'm pleased for John. He's definitely done something here he can be proud of.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A perfect gift for all your "Is it really paranoia if they're truly out to get you?" friends.

Beginnings, Endings, and Babies
I sometimes wonder how many compelling stories are left incomplete in our lives (no, I won't go into the question of "what is completion?" at this point). Yesterday, I had a serendipitous moment - I heard the follow-up to an NPR story I had listened to about a year ago, the story of a woman named Suzanne who was seeking to have a child. The first installment of her story was sad, but not uncommon - in vitro had not worked for her, and she was reconsidering her options.

In this segment, she was exploring adoption. I have had something of an adoption-convergence lately. Mimi Smartypants' story of how she and her husband adopted Nora can still bring tears to my eyes. One of my close friends has learned more about his birth-family recently. Professor Z wrote a lovely and heart-wrenching account of her own adoption and life on Sunday. And yesterday, the story of Suzanne came in through John's car-radio as I waited for him to run an errand.

We had a "driveway moment" when we returned to the house, sitting in the car to listen through to the end of the piece, and the beginning of another story.

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Specificity of the Internet can be Overwhelming.
...Especially when you find a website completely devoted to shoelaces and the tying of same.

It is a horrible paradox that the weather just now is so beautiful, the sun is shining so brightly, the leaves are so green, and yet the majority of the Smith household feels so rotten. John is barking like a two-pack-a-day seal, the dog has been showing signs of pink paws, and I spent far too much of last night in that semi-insomniac place where you slowly realize you are awake, you have been awake for quite a while, it is two in the morning, you can't get comfortable, and awake is really not where you want to be at the moment. I suspect that John was awake for a good part of the night as well.

The cause for all of this misery? Pollen. The same green, lovely trees that look so wonderful are releasing huge amounts of pollen into the air. On our way to a christening party yesterday, John even fancied that he could see a yellow haze hovering over the horizon. I told him he was mentally extending the yellow haze off the hood of my car.

I know, others have it much worse in the world, and I must whine about pollen. What else can I do? The lack of sleep means I am too tired to think about anything else.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Oedipus, Schmedipus - Love Your Mother.
Busy Work
Occasionally, in my never-ending quest for the elusive full-time job, I get a variation on the question of "busy work." How do I feel about it, is it okay with me, etc?

It is almost as stupid a question as my least favorite interview question of all time. Here's why: unless you are fabulously wealthy and powerful beyond all conception, it's highly likely that busy work is just a part of your life. (Note that I am defining "busy work" as separate from "make work," which is that evil and unnecessary task that someone gives you just so you have "something to do." Busy work is just tedious stuff, often administrative, which is needed to keep the wheels of whatever machine you labor for rolling.) In my daily life at home, I have checkbook balancing, laundry, and general tidying-up which count as busy work. In my freelance job, there is keeping track of hours, billing, and monitoring payments. It is busy work, the lot of it, but entirely necessary.

So, if such administrivia is a necessary part of life, why ask about it? Granted, there are slightly fewer of these tasks around when you have administrative help, but woe to the person who doesn't know how to fill out a Fed Ex form if that help is sick or assisting a higher power and does not have time for you. You'd better wrap your head around the concept of coping yourself pretty darn sharpish if you want to get the job done.

In my last full-time job, I once even heard someone moan about doing their travel expense reports. He was a friend, so I looked at him funny (if he were not a friend I would have been more diplomatic - see what friendship gets you in my world?) and asked him why on Earth he should complain about this task. After all, the regular work of our jobs entailed "relationship management," which is work that is always open-ended. You are never finished in your quest to make sure the customer is happy, and they could get very unhappy tomorrow, next week, or five minutes from now, so you'd better have a good line of communication open. With such a never-ending task in front of you, I asked my friend, isn't it nice to do something which is not only completely finished when you hand it in, but you get money later? Busy work in that situation was a welcome change from the ever-shifting status quo.

Therefore, off I go this morning to have a strategy meeting at a client's. By the end of it, I am sure I will long for some soothing busy work.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

No... Just, No.
Better entertainment has been produced by a junior high.


I woke up incredibly cranky this morning. I had been having a dream about being completely over-committed, so it is probably not such a shock that I wasn't sunshine and flowers at five-thirty, but it was really not fun.

John has been away for almost a week, attending a conference. He arrives home today and I am ecstatic, for both selfish and unselfish reasons. The unselfish reason is that I know he is tired of traveling and wants to be home. The selfish reasons are that a.) I miss him, and b.) I will be glad when I have his help with the household stuff. Since he has been gone, we have had one fishy burial at sea (why is it that we can keep "difficult" fish like neon tetras alive, while supposedly hardy guppies croak?), with only one human to cater to him the dog has gone from mildly tetchy to completely ballistic, and Dash has resumed his morning door-scratching, having figured out a way to pick at the door while not standing on the ScatMat.

That cat is lucky that he's cute - waking me with wailing and scratching is not a wise move, especially when I have had busy, crazy, cranky-making dreams.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Speaking of yesterday's little flutter over apostrophes:

Flunky #1: She asked for what?

Flunky #2: A tee shirt with her own catch-phrase printed on it.

Flunky #1: Are you going to get it for her?

Flunky #2: Yeah - but I'm going to make it into a little joke.

(Disclaimer - the above conversation probably never happened, but a girl can dream, can't she?)

Climate Control
If I were to teach a little kid about direction and elevation and the differences they make to climate, this would be the time of year to do it. We've had a cold spring, with frost mantling the higher ranges of the grassy "island" in the center of our cul-de-sac. The grass goes from wet and green at the edges to cold, brittle and white as the mound rises. And yet, plants which shelter close to the house are fine - even the herbs in the tub out back.

The front of our house faces North, and we are surrounded by trees, so we are partial-sun/shade gardeners. All down the street, azaleas are exploding in scarlet, white, and pink blooms. Our most advanced one is barely unfurling a few petals. Our neighbors directly across the street have peonies which I covet with envy as green as the new leaves of the trees on our street, but their south-facing house has the sun for growing peonies and ours does not.

As mobile animals, we have a poor conception of what the differences in shade, direction, and elevation can do to climate. We exclaim about how cold it is in the shade and move to the sun, rubbing our arms and shivering. Plants do not have the same luxury of rapid movement: they can slowly reach their faces toward the light, hoping to get there in time, their slow progress impeded by the lack of the thing they seek.

I look across the street at the bright blooms and savor my mammalian quickness as I dart around our local nursery, making shade-hardy selections from the vast array. I also watch my own azaleas' slow flowering and know that my neighbors will appreciate these blooms when theirs are gone.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

...And Ted, the Bug
Pivot Questionnaire
We started TiVo-ing "Inside the Actors Studio" (you have no idea how much the absence of an apostrophe confuses and upsets me). It struck me that the Bernard Pivot questionnaire that James Lipton uses is an eminently bloggable thing (not only that, but I'm never going to sit on that stage and answer it, so why not here?). Feel free to answer the questions yourself in the comments.

01. What is your favorite word?
Are you kidding? There are too many - but for today, I'll just say "marvelous."

02. What is your least favorite word?

03. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
Music - specifically vocal harmony

04. What turns you off?

05. What is your favorite curse word?

06. What sound or noise do you love?

07. What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of Dash clawing at the door in the predawn hours

08. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

09. What profession would you not like to do?

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Your grandparents are waiting for you

Monday, May 02, 2005

What do You Get When You Slam Three Annoyances Together?
You get a funny.

Whole, and Nothing But
You think you're so holy and truthful, but really it's only abominable conceit.

-- E.M. Forster, A Room With a View

A friend's LiveJournal reminded me of the quote above. My friend was recently on the receiving end of some cutting criticism, delivered under the label of "brutal honesty." How reassuring that is - to get smacked in the head in the name of friendship so pure it can withstand any blow! How delightful to know that my friend's Upholder of Truth believes that the bonds of their relationship are strong enough that he might spare himself any concern for the feelings of his fellow man!

The truth is a fine and honorable goal. I believe in truthfulness and honor. But I have also seen some who tell themselves that their reverence for the truth gives them license to kick others when they are down. Perhaps I am not being charitable when I say (quite truthfully) I believe that these people value petty sadism above honesty. Or perhaps they are just lazy. It may be easier to say, "You look like hell," rather than inquire if someone is feeling well. Notice that the statement, "You look like hell," might indicate that the person making the statement is concerned for the welfare of the hagridden recipient. It might also represent a cheap scoring-off of someone who's eyes have clearly packed for a long vacation. But if you care for the recipient of the comment, why put them in the position of guessing what your intention might be? If you care for them, you take the time to phrase the same sentiment a bit more gently.

If I have my suspicions about the hurtful/"Truthful" people, I have my reasons. I was once in a relationship with someone who clearly thought that communication was a game, played along similar lines to the rules of cross-examination in a court. If you were not clever enough to catch that your question had not been answered quite in the way it was phrased, he had by his own narrow definition not "lied." Did it matter that trust, caring, and decency went out the window? No, the one god was Truth, and Truth reigned supreme.

I would just like to go on record that I believe such people are infantile, petty, toxic jerks. What's the matter? I'm just being honest.

My Husband Likes the Extras
And because he likes them I bring you one to honor Mr. Scalzi, who loves his wife very much indeed.

Is it too smug to say I have similar good fortune to Mrs. Scalzi's? If it is, I don't care.