vendredi, décembre 31, 2004


In Japan, at the stroke of midnight, Buddhist temples nationwide ring in the New Year. The bells are rung 108 times, the number of Buddha's positive attributes. People eat toshi-koshi soba (literally "soba for crossing over the years").

Last year, I celebrated New Year's with Matt and Jessy. Jessy's mom is Japanese and they have a family tradition of saying 108 things that people were grateful for or that happened that year. We did the circle until the 108 things were said, and I vowed to continue the tradition.
1. My health.
2. Surviving my divorce.
3. Nurturing relationships.
4. Kind friends.
5. A warm home on this rainy night.
6. My amazing golden retriever Casey, who gives me unconditional love.
7. My father, and his way of always saying just the right thing.
8. Paris, and a life-changing month this summer.
9. Seeing Caen (the martyred city) and the American Cemetary in Normandy. Both showed me the true cost of war .
10. Gerard, the kind waiter in Caen, who wanted to fix me up with the guy at the table next to me.
11. Climbing the streets of Mt. St. Michel, and being grateful to not have waited until I was older to make that journey.
12. David Milroy, for talking me into taking the trip and for giving me the gift of the French language.
13. Marion de Koening, for teaching me about art and for helping me wrap my brain around its beauty.
14. Cass Davis, for talking me through the hardest decision of my life.
15. Diana Hussey, for inviting me to share in her big day .
16. Ophira Bergman, for quietly supporting my decisions and being so non-judgemental.
17. Diana and Ophira, for their courage to love. And almost making it down the aisle at San Francisco City Hall.
18. Being honored as Diana's matron of honor in their gorgeous commitment ceremony.
19. Tiana Fares, for great tunes to dance to at the ceremony.
20. Frances Hsieh, for walking me down the aisle at the ceremony.
21. Harrison, for a great makeover, live-in fashionista advice, and making me feel like I won the roommate lottery.
22. Eleanor Webber, for her fearlessness, late Sunday nights watching Alias, and creating crafty bitches.
23. Jennifer and Craig Sturak, for inviting me into their family at Thanksgiving. And Jennifer for so much free therapy.
24. Jen Beauchamp, for teaching me to take a compliment with grace and much free therapy.
25. Sydney Donahoe, for sharing her wisdom, for being gracious in the face of adversity, and much free therapy.
26. Rick VanderKnyff, for seeing my potential, allowing therapy from 23-25 at work, being incredibly flexible, and generally being the coolest authority figure ever.
27. John McCleary, for taking a chance on me.
28. Nolan Thomas, for reminding me to savor the finer things in life.
29. Reggie Toledo, for reminding me to laugh.
30. Georgia (and Grant) Gredvig, for sharing their home with me on New Year's Eve. And Georgia for being an amazing listener.
31. Holding Madelin Anne Gredvig on her first day in the world and seeing Maddy's non-stinky (it's true!) black poo.
32. Spending time with Harriet, Zoe, and Oli Subramanian on New Year's Eve at Georgia's.
33. Lynne Bush, for her insistence that I apply for the SDSU job, rushhour haiku, and the Livestrong bracelets.
34. Cindy Robinson, for helping me appreciate what I most definitely deserved, and for the Livestrong bracelets.
35. Colleen DeLory, for giving me the scoop.
36. Jack Beresford, for hiring me.
37. Suzanne Sterling, for mothering me and constantly shoring up my self esteem.
38. Coleen Geraghty, for reminding me that I might find love in a European city.
39. Sandra Millers Younger, for her resilience, her courage to rebuild, and her honest love of dogs.
40. Aaron Hoskins, for being the most genuinely nice guy I've ever met.
41. Denisse Roldan, for reminding me to stay focused on what's next in life.
42. Kevin Decker, for daring me to think about what's possible.
43. Jason Foster, for sharing his story of survivorship.
44. Steven Collins, for always surprising me.
45. Lyn Olsson, for sharing her 1000 cranes and the act of love behind them.
46. The fete des pompiers and that guy who danced with me. (I never did get his name.)
47. Laura Wentz, for an afternoon photographing the elevated walk and for helping me savor our apartment in the Marais.
48. Greg (Gregoire, G-Unit) Turk, for always being up for a new adventure and for introducing me to Nouvelle Vague.
49. Tatjiana Babic, for always making her own weather wherever she goes.
50. Becki Phillips and Kendall Rattner, for advice on the best falafel in Paris (Lenny Kravitz).
51. Trevor Huey, for surprising me after I thought I had him pegged.
52. Nathan Law, whose question helped me realize that there are scarier things than being alone for the rest of my life.
53. Kyle (Van Goghsie) Rollin, for his quiet fidelity to his girlfriend.
52. Tanner Rollin, 'cause he's fluent!
53. Kathy Wentz, for sharing her gift of song each day.
54. JulieAnn (Rennie) Sparks, for showing me what I can be like.
55. Lauren, who craves attention and deserves someone who will appreciate her.
56. Sean Donoghue, for his amazing Irish ballad in the middle of the Loire Valley.
57. Chic Jung, for his joie de vivre and wicked poetry.
58. Seeing The Magic Flute in the Bastille Opera House.
59. John-Bryan Davis, for the most beautiful Christmas letter I've ever read.
60. La Familia Orozco, for getting the singing started in the Loire.
61. Sunflowers as big as my head in the Loire.
62. Seeing what moved the Impressionists to paint.
63. The Louvre, the Orsay, the Marmottan.
64. Amboise and the visit to DaVinci's home and garden.
65. Susan Guerra, for phone calls everyday when I was at my worst. And laughter later.
66. Susan Arredondo, for her neverending kindness, love of dogs, and "it's Nolan's cocaine" carrot cake.
67. Renee Bivens and Dan (Black China), for fun shuttle rides and Jude-a-licious movies.
68. Treacy Lau and Dinia Green, for being role models with a sense of adventure.
69. Madame Claudine Yin, for improving my pronounciation immensely.
70. Michel, for reminding me that I'm a woman. And saying that my Spanish is so good that he thought I was a native from a Spanish-speaking country. (It's not.)
71. Rogelia Becerra, for introducing me to Cafe Europa and Nazar Hanna, for sharing his gift of music (Novamenco).
72. Jan Pretorius and Karen Purvis, for managing my money and my future.
73. John Hughes, for the gift of a livestrong bracelet. And for the best advice ever for phone interviewing.
74. Melissa Hagan Moore, for celebrating my first year being cancer-free.
75. Healy Vigderson, for a day at the Glen Ivy spa I won't soon forget.
76. Scott Araujo and Monika Lyssand, for the sweet way they share their love.
77. Tess Mann, for animated dinners and intelligent conversation.
78. Al Franken, for 16 hours of books on tape across Arizona.
79. Michael Moore, for Farenheit 9/11, a film that made Americans think .
80. Marta Prachar, for reminding me to take pictures everyday.
81. Lance Armstrong, for inspiring me to make the most of my survivorship.
82. Cherie Traylor, for her no-nonsense perspective and facilitating the best 90 minutes of my week.
83. Margaret Bergamin, for helping me see the future I'm working toward and Yvonne Gantry, for the story of her kiss.
84. Nanny.
85. PlanetDan, for laughs and intelligent commentary each day.
86. Karen Andrews, for good advice and the most unique French dictionary I've ever seen.
87. Diana Lai, for celebrating Bastille Day and her thirtieth birthday with me in Paris.
88. Betsy D'Ambrosia, for honoring her commitment to our country and serving in Kuwait.
89. The Husseys, for having the grace to come to Diana and Ophira's big day.
90. Geoff Graham, for being an incredibly competent Toastmasters
Voyagers president.
91. The anonymous guy at the shuttle to Mt. San Michel depot, for holding my backpack for the day and not taking anything.
92. Dido, who sings what my heart feels.
93. David Sedaris, whose clever writing makes me laugh so hard I cry. And who inspires me to be a better writer.
94. Holly Cartwright, whose generosity knows no limits.
95. Maureen Hatheway, who se love of travel inspires me to see more.
96. JoAnna Proctor, for holding up the mirror and giving me an "aha" moment.
97. The San Diego Public Library, for books on tape, movies, and the occasional (!) book.
98. Netflix, for more good movies than I'll ever get through.
99. Amorino, for making the most amazing gelato I've ever had.
100. Laura Haislip, for thoughtful conversation and a fun night out.
101. Maresa Archer, for suggesting the legal insurance.
102. Jim Herrington, for the tender way he wiped the tears off my face.
103. Terry Hewins, for being my Toastmaster mentor.
104. Alias, the best hour on television each week.
105. The Hillcrest Farmer's Market, for organic apples and flowers that make my heart smile.
106. Rick Steves, for the best travel advice ever. And RATP, for getting me everywhere (and providing kick-ass souvenirs) this summer.
107. Robert Doisneau, for black and white images that inspire me to snatch my own three seconds from eternity.
108. Eric Snow, for teaching me so much about myself. And for helping me be less judgemental.

jeudi, décembre 30, 2004

LA: fairfax and the getty

I spent today with Nolan and his aunt Brenda, who's in town from Florida. The three of us made a day of it in LA and enjoyed the farmer's market and grove at Fairfax and then headed to the Getty for the Cézanne exhibit and to see the current photographic exhibit. As much fun as I had, I just can't handle the thought of living there and dealing with that kind of traffic every day. So I've crossed it off the list of places I could ever live. But as I told Brenda, today was an uber-French day:
  • I ate crêpes.
    J'ai mangé des crêpes et une salade. "La Marie Antoinette" avec des fromage (emmenthaller), des jambon, des tomates et des oefs. Un (avec Nolan et Brenda) "Napoleon" avec des Nutella, des bananes et des chantilly.
  • I bought an Eiffel Tower cookie cutter.
    J'ai acheté un coupeur du petit gâteau de la Tour Eiffel.
  • I saw lots of watercolors by Cézanne.
    J'ai vu beaucoup d'aquarelles par Cézanne.

And I had a great time.

mercredi, décembre 29, 2004

the short bus AKA the bus with the white top

MsBeesKnees' riding the short bus of shame post is an all-too-perfect reminder of my days riding the bus to Cope Junior High in Redlands in 1987. That wretched place had more than its share of uber-privileged sociopaths, running around in Guess jeans and Quicksilver T-shirts, carrying those oh-so-popular Esprit bags.
As you've probably guessed, they weren't as accepting as MsBeesKnees' new wave kids:
"They didn’t seem to care that I rolled with the special ed squad, I was liked because I was me. "

But I'm not bitter ...

mardi, décembre 28, 2004

its pouring outside

It's winter weather, San Diego style. We lost power this morning for an hour or so, probably because of a downed power line. The rain's been falling in sheets and the wind is howling outside. And every so often, I hear hail beating against the windows.

But inside is another story. A warm cuppa tea and even warmer bed are the perfect antidote to the storm raging outside.

Now if I could only motivate myself to study for the GMAT ...

lundi, décembre 27, 2004

jason and cathy are safe (and presumably dry)

It was good to see that Jason and Cathy, friends on a 'round-the-world voyage, are in India, but safely away from the devastation of the coast. They spent yesterday stalking tigers in Corbett National Park in the Himalaya foothills.

samedi, décembre 25, 2004

christmas at nolan's

... was wonderful. Thanks for the amazing food and wonderful memories.

the one I sleep with


fun with photoshop

left: my eye (original image) right: my eye (with fresco filter)

c'est pas grave ("this is not serious")

C'est pas grave = Fun, parce qu'il est très drôle.
t'es un vrai winner?
tu es belge?

c'est pas grave
Via c'est pas grave

happy noel

I spent Christmas eve with D and Ophy, eating Japanese curry and watching the new extended version of LotR: Return of the King. Those extra 50 minutes were fun. But there's no way I could've handled 4 hours in a movie theater. No sirreeeeee.

I did make out like a bandit, though. I now wield the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment. And D and Ophy are finished with gift-giving to me for another year (it's an expensive gift, so it counts for my birthday, too). XOXOXO, D and Ophy.

vendredi, décembre 24, 2004

scared of santa

There are no pictures of me crying on Santa's lap. But there is one polaroid where my face is puffy and screwed up into a fearful smile. I can only imagine that I was crying at first, but then scared outta my skull at the thought of my mother's wrath if the Kodak moment had been ruined. And it appears that I'm not alone.

Check out this Scared of Santa site.

Via PlanetDan

barfy mchurlsalot

I found this post particularly timely, as I just gave my second Toastmasters speech:

Public speaking is a lot of people's worst nightmare, so I can totally
sympathize with this poor guy. But honestly, next time duck behind the news
desk if you feel a hurl coming on.

Via Planet Dan

a bollywood primer for the uninitiated

The film industry in Mumbai (Bombay) makes almost double the number of movies and sells a billion more tickets each year than Hollywood.

Bollywood movies are in Hindi, which is one of 17 national languages.
Most people in cities speak some English, but not everyone is fluent. Still, it looks cool to speak English, so a lot of Bollywood movies include English phrases like "Better luck next time" and "Rock and roll, man!" Since it's in the nature of escapist entertainment to be fascinated with the rich, a lot of Bollywood movies, especially these days, are about Indians who have struck it rich in England or America.
Via Wacky neighbor

an offer you can't refuse

Evan rocks. Another must-read post:
I hereby offer my first born child to anyone who can explain to me how George W. Bush will find $1-2 trillion for his social security plan.
My second child goes to anyone who can explain to me why we keep hearing that the plan will cost between $1 trillion and $2 trillion dollars. We can't narrow it down more than that? Give a trillion, take a trillion?
My life savings (all $7.20) goes to anyone who can explain to me how a man willing to burden future generations with trillions of dollars of debt is the leader of the party of "fiscal responsibility."
Fun with numbers: 1,000,000,000,000 to 2,000,000,000,000

the lucky spinster

Is seriously funny. Check her out:

it's not just a lifestyle, it's a birthright
Chinese take-out for one: $16.40
All five hours of Pride & Prejudice on DVD uninterrupted: $44.95
Pint of Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Crunch: $4.12
Not having to endure anyone else's presence: priceless

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's Spinsterhood.

i only put out for boys who vote left

Makes sense to me...

Okay, let me preface by saying that I know absolutely nothing about Australian politics but those zany Australians amuse me so! Check out Polichicks- the left wing political clothing label. Polichicks is based on the belief that being aware and actively involved in world politics is sexy and aims to provide a sexier alternative for those with something to say. They say, bring it on conservatives because they are gonna look hot when it comes time to do battle.

Via Dorian

video games will rot your mind (Toastmasters speech #2)

Speech originally given on Dec. 23, 2004
Award: Best speaker

Jeopardy theme song (5 seconds)

My palms were sweating as I stood at the podium. The audience was a hushed blur to my left. The house lights, that moments ago had been blinding in their brightness, were now dark. As the music wound down in slow motion, I desperately gripped the pen and wrote my answer (in the form of a question, of course).

You see, I've always been pretty good at trivia. For some reason, there's a slot in my brain for the stuff. And when I was 23, I hit the trivia jackpot - I was a Jeopardy! contestant.

But let me tell you how I got there.

As a kid, I really wanted to play video games, but my mother said: "Video games will rot your mind." She was wrong, of course, but we wouldn't know that until years later. She didn't care if I read books, though. So I immersed myself in the worlds of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Daniel Defoe, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. All that reading helped my vocabulary and would come in handy later in life.

The first time it paid off was in sixth grade. My teacher, Mr. Arlie Hubbard, had been a Marine in the Korean war. And once a month, the drill sergeant in him split the class into two teams, pulled out "the blue book," and asked us rapid-fire questions:
"Name the third planet from the sun."
"Which President wore dentures?"

For the first time, my classmates were actually cheering me on for being smart. There was another really smart person in the class: my arch-nemesis, Danny Padilla. He was just as smart as I was, but he downplayed it well enough to be the most popular kid in school. It was only a matter of time before he and I would go head to head in an all-out blue book battle.

Then it happened. One day, Mr. Hubbard took out the blue book, split the class in half, and we were off.
"Name the lowest place in North America."
"Where do the Norse gods live?"
On and on we went, Danny and I, one point separating his team and mine, until we reached a double overtime tiebreaker. It was our team's turn and Mr. Hubbard barked:
"How many sides has a hexagon?" I faltered and said "5?"
Mr. Hubbard said "no - team B- how many sides has a hexagon?"
Danny said "6" and Mr. Hubbard declared him the winner.

That night, I wandered into the living room after dinnerand saw that my parents were watching a show called "Jeopardy!" that was just like blue book, but for adults. I started watching it with them once or twice a week.

The habit continued into high school, and I was able to shout out more and more of the answers each year. One day, my mom suggested that I try out for the show. She sent in a postcard with my name on it and I was invited to audition for Teen Jeopardy in LA. I didn't make it.

Then, during my senior year in college, my friend David Radwin invited me to go and audition with him for college jeopardy. Neither of us made the cut.

Two years later, my boyfriend and I were watching Jeopardy when I commented that the regular game was so much easier than the college game. As if on cue, the television flashed a Web address for people interested in auditioning. A month later, we went to LA. We sat in the Jeopardy audience and took a written test.

This time, I was one of six people who passed the test. We played a mock game and did a one-minute interview, just like Alex does on the show. The hardest part was waiting for the question to be read and not blurting out the answers. I filled out a form and they said "don't call us, we'll call you."

I got the call three weeks later. After going through hair and make-up, I walked onto the stage with two guys. The uber-geek looked about 35 years old. The other one looked about 28 years old. I was feeling pretty nervous, and the contestant wranglers reviewed the rules with us:

Rule #1: The show is taped in real time, so there will be starts and stops.
Rule #2: Wait until Alex finishes reading the question before hitting the buzzer. If we didn't wait, we'd get locked out for one second, which was bad because there are only two seconds from the time he finishes reading to when the timeout buzzer rings.

We practiced with the buzzers, but both of the guys kept beating me to the punch. I suspected their mothers had let them play video games as kids.

By the time tape rolled, I was calm and ready to play.

At the first commercial break, Alex reported the scores and announced "And Happy is Happy because she was as much money as her two opponents combined." We continued in single Jeopardy and I even got the daily double right. I finished that round pretty strong, and then we cut to a commercial break.

In double jeopardy, I couldn't beat the guys on the buzzer and they caught up with me. It was anyone's game going into final jeopardy. But in final jeopardy, there is no buzzer, it's do or die. And I had the distinct feeling I would die when I saw "Crime Writers" as the category for final jeopardy.

I thought about my dad's advice to bet everything but a dollar, realized that I had nothing to lose, and did it. Then, we cut to a break.

We were back in a blink of an eye. The answer was displayed and the music started to play. I wracked my brain, but I couldn't think of the either of the names of the two women authors who were in the House of Lords in 1998.

Jeopardy theme (2 seconds). I scribbled my answer and then the game ended. One of the other guys got it right and then the game was over, and I was shaking hands with Alex and the other contestants.

When the show aired on Jan. 25, 1999, my mom called to say that she had just gotten a call from Mr. Hubbard, asking if that was the same Happy who'd been his blue book champion all those years ago.

I thought of the blue book and Danny Padilla and just didn't have the heart to tell my mother that things might have been different if she had let me play those video games, after all.

happily ever after (Toastmasters speech #1)

Speech originally given on Oct. 21, 2004
Award: Best speaker

"Happy? Your name is Happy? My dad had a dog named Happy."  (These are the first words my ex-husband ever said me.)

For some reason, when many people first meet me, they completely lose the ability to edit what comes out of their mouths. You see, my name is Happy Feliz _______.

Those of you who are bilingual (or are familiar with a certain Christmas Song by Jose Felicano) know that my name translates to Happy Happy _______.

My parents tell me that they chose my name as a reflection of their state of mind, and not as a predictor for my personality. You see, my mom wanted a boy and dad wanted a girl. They agreed that if I were a girl, I'd share my mother's initials - H F A.

My mother was named for her grandmother - Higinia, a very old-fashioned Spanish name --and since she had endured many childhood traumas with her own name, they opted not to saddle me with a name that kids would make fun of ... or so they thought ...

Happy Cat cat food came onto the market when I was in fourth grade. To be fair, my name was made fun of well before the cat food was released. However, there was (to my mind) a noticeable increase in negative attention my name got that year.

Perhaps that's why I told a girl at my dad's company picnic that year that my name was Christy. It started out innocently enough -- she was playing on the swings when I walked over and asked her what her name was. She told me hers and then asked me mine.

For a split second, I started to give the same old answer, but suddenly, I had a flash of inspiration. I probably chose Christy because that was the name of the most popular girl in my class. Whatever the reason, I gladly played with her for about an hour before my pleasant little fantasy of having a normal name came to a screeching halt because of something my dad said.

"Happy, lunch is ready. Come and get your hamburger."

I heard it her chortle and say "why did he call you Happy? I thought your name was Christy."

And there I was, with the blood rushing into my cheeks and my knees wobbling. Then I heard my father's gentle voice, saying matter-of-factly:
"Christy? No, her name is Happy."

At that point, I was intensely studying the grass underneath my feet and the ants marching toward the picnic tables in the distance. I just couldn't look at my dad. I picked at the stain on my shorts, desperate to not have to look up. And when I finally met the other girl's eyes, she was smirking.

Ten years later, I was at my then-boyfriend Eric's house, talking with his teenage cousins. Andrea was the first one to point out that if I married Eric, my name would be Happy Snow. Defensively, I snapped back that I would NOT be Happy Snow, since I would DEFINITELY be keeping my maiden name if I ever married her cousin.

Six years later, Eric and I were in Greece on our honeymoon, when we met a New Yorker with a wry sense of humor.

"What's your name?" he asked.
I proudly replied: "Happy _____-Snow," to which he said "Happy _______-Snow -- that sounds like nose candy."

To be fair, his WAS one of the more interesting comments I've heard. That's because people's reactions when they meet me vary widely. If they didn't hear me right, or think that it's not possible that my name is Happy, they will repeat my name, saying "Cathy?", at which point I say "Happy. H - A - P - P - Y." (For the record, my Starbucks name is Beyonce, because baristas can spell that.)

Then there are the others whose comments include references to Hoppalong Cassidy, Happy-go-lucky, or the question about my parents being hippies. Since I'm on the topic, I'd like to set the record straight. My father was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and my mother is a fascist. Literally. Her family supported Franco in the Spanish civil war.

I can't imagine two people who could be more opposite of flower children than my parents. They had planned to name me Hope right up until the very end of my mother's pregnancy. Then, for some reason, Happy Rockefeller was in the news. Happy Rockefeller was the second lady (the vice president's wife) when I was born in 1975.

The funny thing is that I don't think my parents ever intended for my name to be such a focal point in my life. But the fact is my name has a lot to do with who I am. It's hard for me to have a bad day because I'll get the "is happy happy today?" or "they should've named you grumpy." When I was younger, I would actually answer those rhetorical questions with a heated retort like "they should've named you rude."

But nowadays, I just smile and shrug off the comment, because it's hard to have a bad day when your name is Happy. It really is too much work.

For instance just this week, I had the opportunity to remind myself of how much energy it takes for me to be negative ... when I encountered a guy at the gas station that must have thought himself terribly original or clever (or both). I handed my credit card and driver's license to him and, after checking my ID, he handed me my card and said something like "do you have a brother named dopey?" Without skipping a beat, I just smiled, told him that I'm an only child, and walked back out to the pump.

In the last 29 years, I've had lots of nicknames: hapless, h-bomb, and my favorite, "ash" -- for the way that the letter "H" is pronounced en francais. And when I recently divorced, the paperwork included a blank for me to write what I'd like to be called legally.

Christy popped into my head, but the funny thing is, I didn't hesitate to write the name my parents gave me when I was born: Happy Feliz ________.

jeudi, décembre 23, 2004

two days 'til christmas

Last night, I feverishly wrote "Video games will rot your mind," my second speech for Toastmasters, tweaked it, and then memorized it. This morning, I was voted best speaker. Then I committed to having a first draft ready for the next time I'll speak within two weeks.

At noon, Nolan and I headed to Fashion Valley to meet Renee for lunch and a movie. We saw Closer, a dark movie that got under my skin for a variety of reasons. Later, we shopped and shopped and shopped. And I'm just glad to have finally bought some gifts.

mercredi, décembre 22, 2004


"All things can be cured by salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."
Isak Dinesen, 1885-1962, Danish writer [pseud. of Karen Christence, Countess Blixen]

feeling optimistic?

"For a rude surprise, peek under the lid of any great institution," writes William Falk, editor of The Week magazine.

Inside NASA, or a great teaching hospital, or the New York Times, you'd expect to find a whirring watch movement of brilliant people -- crisp, coolly rational, completely focused on their mission. Not so. The brilliant people are there, all right. But so are giant egos, petty agendas, irrational notions resistant to all evidence, and staggering feats of stupidity. In other words, great institutions are filled with people like you and me.
Via Sandra

mardi, décembre 21, 2004

wisdom from eleanor

... if someone doesn't serve you, you can let go of them, and you don't owe anyone an explanation, even them really. Its your life and you do have to be pretty conscious at times of who to let in and who to keep out.

note to self

1. You can't argue with how someone feels about a situation. It's a feeling, not a rational thing.
2. Approval does not equal support. And I don't need people to approve of my decisions, I just need their support.

I learned these things by quitting my book club last night. That's because at our last meeting, I felt judged. And it's an awful feeling. It didn't go as smoothly as I hoped, but I did learn several things about myself precisely because it didn't go smoothly. And now, I'm so calm that it's almost weird.

At the end of the night, I told everyone that I wouldn't be back due to time constraints (I'm only giving my time to things that are supportive) and that I didn't feel supported in this group because I had felt judged at the last meeting. Everyone else seemed cool about it, but one person just couldn't leave it alone. I was annoyed because the person questioned me (in public) about why I felt the way I did -- which made me feel like the only way for me to refute her was to get specific about who said what and be mean to people still in the room. And I wasn't interested in doing that. Then, she disagreed with my feelings. It was good to experience, because I think I finally know how Eric must have felt when I tried to rationalize a situation that he had strong feelings about. I learned that you can't argue with how someone feels about a situation.

I got the sense that she just didn't understand why I felt judged (she did admit that it was possible, but said that she hadn't intervened because she didn't hear anything that was objectionable). She then went on to say that she and "everyone familiar with the situation agree with [my] decision to get divorced." At that point, and I told her I didn't care whether people agreed with me -- I made the decision for myself, not for others. And then I told her that I don't need people to approve of my decision, I just need their support. She tried to drive her point home again and I realize that that must have been so awful for Eric to deal with from me for years. A lightbulb went on as I realized that she is coming at it from the perspective that if she agrees with something, then that means she's supporting the person.

What's that quote? "If I can't be a good example, let me serve as a horrible warning." That's me -- and the other person. But it makes me just that much less interested in having her in my life. She is a very generous person, but the bottom line is that not everything is about her and I'm tired of how selfish that perspective is. And I am being honest when I say that the things I can't stand about her are the things I despise in myself.

lundi, décembre 20, 2004

having children can wreck your marriage

Take note: "Children seem to be a growing impediment for the happiness of marriages."

So says the 2004 Annual Report of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, as quoted in the Dec. 16, 2004 Wall Street Journal article "And Baby Makes Stress: Why Kids Are A Growing Obstacle to Marital Bliss."

It's been known that marital satisfaction takes a dip after babies start coming. But the latest research shows combining marriage and baby is getting even harder. Marital satisfaction after the baby’s birth is actually 42% lower among the latest generation of parents, mainly Gen-Xers, than previous generations, says Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, based on a survey of 90 studies of 31,000 married people. Other research -- including studies by marriage and family researchers at the University of California, Berkeley -- shows one-third to one-half of new parents have as much marital distress as couples already in marriage counseling.
Via Aaron

its getting crowded here

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the entire world population was less than 2 billion people. Today, the current world population exceeds six billion (6,396,000,000) people.

Some demographics:

Via NationsOnline

dimanche, décembre 19, 2004

countries of the world name index

This index lists all countries and areas in the world in alphabetical order, with the official names and alternative names in English, French and Spanish country names as well as local names of the countries.

As of May, 2002: There are now 193 independent sovereign states in the world, 61 dependent areas, and six disputed territories.

samedi, décembre 18, 2004

how europeans refer to their own country

Update: It's official: the word for "what local people call a geographic feature" is endonym. A word that non-local people use is an exonym.

Yesterday, Sandra, Suzanne and I were discussing what the Japanese call Japan. Which led to this:
A map of Europe that lists the countries by the name that people in that country use.

I wish I had one for the rest of the world. For now, this will have to do.

jeudi, décembre 16, 2004

love rocks

I'm loving Harrison's new CD-- love rocks: a benefit album for the human rights campaign.

It includes many fab songs, but my favorite at the moment is "Wasted" by L.P.

WASTED (L.P./Kotch)
Don't waste it
It's only here for today
You don't own it
So you can't just give it away
Forever is half a moment away
So don't waste it
It's only here for today
Everything is waiting here

Don't mess with my heart, don't mess with my mind
Won't let you get us down this time.
You'll like what you see and take it from me
You'll learn to see it over time.
Get wasted on love, get wasted on life, get wasted on anything that's right.
Get wasted, get wasted, get wasted, get wasted with me.

It seems empty
I don't know what you expect
If you don't give
You're never going to get
Forever is half a moment away
You don't get
Back what you threw away
Everything is waiting here

seduction, japanese style

Sometimes, less is more.

In a hillside villa above Kyoto's ancient palaces and temples, guests reclined on cushions in a cedar-paneled room. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, gardens gleamed in the starlight. At the front of the room, geishas swayed to a shamisen's mournful twang.

"They show only a little bit of skin," a Japanese businessman sighed. "So erotic!"

Via Aaron's e-clips.

mercredi, décembre 15, 2004


Although profane, this did help remind me of basic parts of speech. And the versatility of a particular obscenity:

Via Susan G.

this does not inspire confidence

Airport security loses fake bomb in training: Screeners let 'bomb' travel from New Jersey to Amsterdam

NEWARK, N.J. - Baggage screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport spotted — and then lost — a fake bomb planted in luggage by a supervisor during a training exercise.

Despite an hours-long search Tuesday night, the bag, containing a fake bomb complete with wires, a detonator and a clock, made it onto an Amsterdam-bound flight. It was recovered by airport security officials in Amsterdam when the flight landed several hours later.

giant surf prompts Hawaii beach closures

Officials fear waves could reach as high as 50 feet

HONOLULU - Strong winds in the northwest Pacific Ocean sent towering waves crashing along Hawaii’s coast, prompting officials to close beaches amid fears that some waves could reach as high as 50 feet.

The National Weather Service put high surf warnings in effect for the north-facing shores of all the islands except Lanai until Wednesday night...

The agency advised residents to avoid the beaches and stay out of the water, but city lifeguards said they expect some of the largest crowds of the season to attend a seldom-held big wave surfing contest. The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is held only when the waves reach at least 20 feet; it has been held only six times in 19 years.

how popular is your name?

None of this is new information, but it’s nicely presented: popularity of first names in the US over the decades. The data is from the Social Security Administration, “based on samplings of applications for Social Security cards.”

You can probably guess my results:


mardi, décembre 14, 2004

mr. bean speaks. really.

Rowan Atkinson defended the right of comedians to poke fun at other people's religion last night as he joined the campaign against Government plans to create a new offence of incitement to religious hatred.

To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion - that is a right. That is a freedom. The freedom to criticise ideas — any ideas even if they are sincerely held beliefs — is one of the fundamental freedoms of society. And the law which attempts to say you can criticise or ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed. It all points to the promotion of the idea that there should be a right not to be offended. But in my view the right to offend is far more important than any right not to be offended. The right to ridicule is far more important to society than any right not to be ridiculed because one in my view represents openness — and the other represents oppression.

It’s all part of the debate a proposed bill in the British Parliament:

Under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, which will have its second reading in the Commons today, anyone judged to have stirred up religious hatred through threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour, would be liable to a maximum of seven years in prison.

Yeah, because by criminalizing insults you’ll make folks be nice and tolerant and happy.


lundi, décembre 13, 2004

the dude abides

Ah, the Lebowskifest.

And to think I just saw the Jeff Bridges photo retrospective at MOPA. Fun stuff, that.

Inspired by The Daily Oliver.

buy blue

For those of you who liked the Costco vs. Walmart campaign contribution article, here's a list of companies and their political affiliations.
Et tu, Vicky?
Apparently Victoria's secret is that she's a flaming Republican. Blue Christmas lists the political contributions of major retail chains, so you can stop putting money into their deformed, oil-soaked claws. Calvin, Anne, Donna, Tommy are all good guys. Even preppy old Ralph's playin' for the blue team.

And yes, I'm aware that this Vicky's business was an opportunity for a swell Bush pun. But I'm not going there.

Via Wacky Neighbor

yada, yada, yada

Sweet Fancy Moses! Who knew that these Seinfeldisms were out there?
Via Wacky Neighbor

dimanche, décembre 12, 2004


I don't understand our national obsession with the War on Terrorism, either.

I'm 29 years old and I've been cancer-free for 15 months. I'd never even heard of kidney cancer before my doctor spoke those horrible words. I'll never know what caused it or how to keep from getting it again. And it kills me that so little money is being put into medical research when the fact is that one in four people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

The federal government actually declared war on cancer in 1970. To date, they've spent less on that than they did in the first phase of the second War on Iraq. It's time to start funding the war on disease and providing healthcare for everyone inside our borders.

We CAN and MUST fight both wars. Too many lives are at stake.

That was my comment on this most eloquent post, from The Thin Blue Line.

563,700 people will die of cancer this year. Between now and sunrise Friday we will lose more Americans to cancer than we lost on 9/11. We will have 187 Cancer-9/11’s this year. In the next 14 months, more Americans will die from cancer than have died in every single American war in history…combined.

We as a country have become singularly obsessed with the issue of terrorism. Why don’t politicians ever base their campaigns on which candidate would do the best job fighting (insert your most hated disease here)?

Perhaps it is just because bombs are far more exciting to watch on television. Let’s face it: pretty explosions on the 6:00 news offer better entertainment value than watching a patient get his/her chemotherapy treatment.

Last week I attended a conference that addressed progress in the fight for cures against a particular form of cancer. I can not tell you how many times the doctors said “If we had more money, we could do x, y, and z.” How many American lives could we save, and how much suffering could we alleviate, if we fought disease with the same passion with which we fight terrorism? What could the medical community accomplish with an additional $200 billion a year? I’m not saying we should divert money from fighting terrorism for the sake of fighting disease. We can do both.

What if that money were put entirely in to preventive medicine so we could detect cancer early or prevent heart disease from ever occurring? How much additional money would the American economy save if we could pre-empt just a small portion of the ungodly medical bills that accompany ungodly diseases?

How many Americans would suffer less if they had access to basic healthcare?

Sure, we already put some money in to disease prevention/cures and healthcare. Yet we don't even come close to providing the resources that the gravity of the situation demands.

And this isn’t just about money. It’s about ideas. We need to have a national discussion on how government can be most effective in fighting the war on (insert your most hated disease here). We need to develop a national strategy to fight disease as urgently as we need to develop a national strategy to fight terror.

I have always been a foreign policy guy. But can we stop pretending that terrorism is the only threat to our daily lives? It is far more likely that our lives will be altered by a cell gone bad than by a Muslim gone bad.

samedi, décembre 11, 2004

the nightmare before christmas

Whilst cruising the usual blogs, I ran across this :
It's Bush, dusted in glitter, and ready to compliment your christmas decor.

Finally, George W. Bush is where he belongs: strung up in a tree. Okay, that was maybe a little harsh.

And it's only fifty bucks.
I never realized how much Bush looks like Liberace.

Via PlanetDan

vendredi, décembre 10, 2004

you go, girl

I heard Wangar Maathai on NPR this morning and was inspired by her thoughtful answer to a question about what folks will say about an environmentalist getting the peace prize. Her response was something to the effect of: The Nobel Committee has made a visionary decision in awarding the prize to someone who is looking at a pre-war [preventative] notion of peace, rather than a post-war [reactionary] viewpoint.

The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize accepted her award Friday to the beat of drums and dancers that broke with the usual stodgy ceremony, and urged her audience "to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder."

But Kenyan Wangar Maathai warned that if the environment is not protected, peace would forever remain endangered.

the life aquatic with steve zissou

I caught an early screening with Denisse, Georgia, and Chad.

All I have to say is see this movie. And then buy the soundtrack.

But the shoes are sold out. Sorry, Denisse.

mercredi, décembre 08, 2004

beyond belief

Many folks confuse religion with morality. And I think that is especially the case with those seeking public office. It still floors me that Kerry was reamed on his response to the abortion question because that made him "not Catholic enough" -- to the point where the Vatican wanted to bar him from receiving the sacrament of communion. And oh yeah, there was all the hullabaloo about Howard Dean who dared to state that "religion didn't inform his public policy views."

Now, there's finally a voice of reason from Dorian:
Atheism is career suicide for U.S. politicians. A moratorium on God talk might level the playing field, prevent religion from being used as a political tool, and get them to stop hating on my boy Howard Dean. So which one is it: politics or propaganda? God does not endorse your political party. Nevertheless, there are many Christians who believe putting God-professing lawmakers in political power will bring about radical social change. They must have forgotten that this method has already tried and failed. It was called the Dark Ages. And that is how the Protestant movement began.
Via Dorian

compassion, perfect action, fearlessness

With Aaron and Suzanne's help, I hung Tibetan prayer flags (Lung ta) in my office yesterday. The flags are especially meaningful for me today as I think of one friend in particular. And I'm hoping she will feel happiness again soon.
Tibetan prayer flags are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. For centuries, Tibetan Buddhists have planted these flags outside their homes and places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry the beneficent vibrations across the countryside. Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity.

Dharma prints bear traditional Buddhist symbols, protectors and enlightened beings. As the Buddhist spiritual approach is non-theistic, the elements of Tantric iconography represent aspects of enlightened mind, i.e., compassion, perfect action, fearlessness, etc.

Dharma flags may be placed either inside of a building to increase the spiritual atmosphere or outdoors where the wind can carry their prayers. Traditionally, they are fastened to eaves or sewn onto ropes to be displayed horizontally or they are fastened to wooden poles for vertical display. Sets of five color flags should be put in the order: yellow, green, red, white, blue (from left to right or from bottom to top.) The colors represent the elements: earth, water, fire, cloud, sky.

The color of a prayer flag and the symbols printed on it create a prayer or offering that the wind distributes to the world each time it brushes against the flag. The Tibetan word for a horizontal prayer flag is Lung ta, which translates literally as "wind horse." The prayers of a flag become a permanent part of the universe as the images fade from wind and sun. Just as life moves on and is replaced by new life, Tibetans renew their hopes for the world by continually mounting new flags alongside of the old.

casting bread on the waters

A friend of mine lost something very precious yesterday. My heart is heavy and my thoughts are with her and her husband.

consider me comforted, part deux

For those of you wondering what the results of Sunday's bake off were like, wonder no more:



Special thanks to Sandra for helping dismember the gingerbread man.

lundi, décembre 06, 2004

top ten words of 2004

According to Merriam-Webster, the top ten words of the year are:

10. defenestration
9. sovereignty
8. partisan
7. peloton
6. cicada
5. hurricane
4. insurgent
3. electoral
2. incumbent
1. blog

Via Dorian

musings on B. and S.

First there was Jennifer S. (The cool Jennifer S. -- not the other one.)
Then there was Jen B. (Can you say "Fun Friday"?)
Then there were "the Jennifers." (I think Rick started it.)
And then there were "the 'fers." (Susan A.'s contribution)
But now, there are "the J's." (Nolan's contribution)

I lump them together partially because they came to work in the same place within weeks of one another ... and I lump together because they are two smart, vibrant, funny, caring women whom I'm glad to count as my friends. They (along with Sydney) held many group therapy sessions with me when I needed them most.

Thanks, Jen and Jennifer.

dimanche, décembre 05, 2004

get a little closer

After the baking adventure, I headed north to see "Closer" with Renee at Fashion Valley. We got into the theater fifteen minutes before showtime, but only the we'll-hurt-our-necks-because-we're-too-damn-close seats were left. I thought that was ironic, but decided to keep my mouth shut, since I was the reason we were so (relatively) late in our promptness.

So we exchanged our tickets for "After the Sunset." We watched the movie with maybe ten other people, all of whom we suspected had not wanted to get too damn close to the screen and lovely Jude.

consider me comforted

I spent a great rainy Sunday at Chez Nolan. Nolan, Reggie, Jen, Jennifer, and I made gingerbread men and lots of sugar cookies. And, Nolan and Reggie fed us a kick-butt lunch, consisting of a fresh Caesar salar, chicken and rice stew (Filipino comfort food), pannini (feta, broccoli, onion, and tomato fritatta with cheddar melted on top of rye spread with black olive tapenade). Mamma Mia!

samedi, décembre 04, 2004

the graphic stylings of ken jennings

I didn't watch a single night of Ken Jennings' record-making Jeopardy! run.

That's because I was a Jeopardy! contestant seven years ago and saw the micro-mini stage and parabolic camera angles in the studio. But before the magic was over, I did think about how I wanted to write my name on the blue screen.

And I love that Ken wrote his name differently for every single appearance.



"Suffering arises from attitude.
The world is neither good nor bad.
It is solely our relationship to it that makes it either one or the other."
Lama Govinda

vendredi, décembre 03, 2004

jeudi, décembre 02, 2004

FDA panel delays approval of new female sex drug


Not enough safety data exists to OK patch, officials say

NEW YORK - A hormone patch that works to restore a woman’s sex drive should not win government approval until more studies are completed to determine the drug’s risks, federal health advisers recommended Thursday.

Several members of the Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee said they were not satisfied with the number of women studied so far, the length of the studies and the modest benefits of the drug.

Procter & Gamble sought to market the testosterone patch Intrinsa to women who lost their libido after their ovaries were removed. The company told the committee that significant safety concerns had not come up in clinical trials and that there was no reason to delay approval of the first drug for female sexual dysfunction.

an ode to the election

The election is over, the results are now known.
The will of the people has clearly been shown.
We should show by our thoughts and our words and our deeds
That unity's just what our country now needs.
Let's all get together. Let bitterness pass.
I'll hug your elephant.
You kiss my ass.
Via Susan G.


Apparently, I'm "just a little bit wicked."
Via Sandra

mercredi, décembre 01, 2004

you say potato

Now I know how the French refer to their holy rolling Jesus freaks ...

C'est une grenouille de bénitier.
She is a fanatical churchgoer.
(Literally: She is a holy-water basin frog.)