mardi, novembre 29, 2005

you have reached a cheeky number

The cheekiness continues.

I tried calling Eric on Thanksgiving and misdialed his number as 011 420 776 2555.

I laughed when the recording said something like "You have reached a cheeky number. Please check that you have the number correct and then dial again."

Incredulous, I listened to (presumably) the same message in Czech and then heard it again in English.

san francisco's only independent pirate supply store

"While I was in San Francisco, I visited 826 Valencia, San Francisco's only independent pirate supply store."
- My friend (and neighbor) Rhiannon

And so began my education about 826 Valencia. It's a pirate supply shop that's really a front for a fab writing workshop. I'm just bummed that I missed the saltine whistling contest.

826 Valencia runs San Francisco's "only independent pirate supply store." Located in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, the store is the front entrance of the tutoring center and has the look and feel of an authentic pirate shop, selling pirate clothing, eyepatches, compasses, spyglasses, pirate dice, skull soapflags, and secret treasures. It features handmade signs, scattered around the store, offering such tongue-in-cheek wisdom as "Uses for Lard" (#5: "Lard Fights") and "Guidelines for New Shipmates" (#4: "No forgetting to swab"). Unsuspecting visitors are sometimes treated to surprise "moppings." Shoppers can also find back issues of McSweeney's literary journals for sale, as well as books published by Eggers' McSweeney's Press--including essay and story compilations written by 826 Valencia students.

A second writing center in
Brooklyn, New York, features a superhero-themed supply store. Additional 826 writing centers are located in Los Angeles, Seattle, Michigan, and Chicago.

826 Valencia is the name and address of a writing workshop and tutoring center in San Francisco whose aim is to help students ages 8-18 "with their writing skills, in the realm of creative writing, expository writing, or English as a second language." It was founded by Bay Area author Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, You Shall Know Our Velocity) and is run by a small regular staff along with hundreds of volunteers and Bay Area professionals. The center offers adult writing workshops, scholarships, drop-in tutoring for students, and in-classroom visits, among other education-related activities.
Via Wikipedia


Breakups are never fun. And in spite of how clean I happen to believe mine have been, I'm still learning a few things about them.

Case in point: A (male) friend recently contextualized why another guy broke up with me and then went to the trouble of trying to give me a soft landing, by enumerating how wonderful I was, two breaths after telling me he didn't want to be with me.

I suppose that's better than what one guy did to a girlfriend of mine earlier this year, though. The coward broke up with her via e-mail, after dating her (exclusively) for 10 months. Perhaps it's a good thing that he didn't take the powerpoint approach ...

We're nuts if we think that two people can be coldly rational about something that has nothing to do with reason.

Modern Love: Point 1: We Had Fun. Point 2: It's Over. Point 3: Get Lost.
Last spring I broke up with someone perfect. Perfectly, that is. Last spring I broke up with someone perfectly. I set out exactly which aspects of our relationship were lacking and why, meticulously charted our decline, and pared months of frustration and disillusionment to a succinct set of woes, all without uttering a word.

It was the most orderly way I'd ever ended a relationship and the first time I'd walked away from a breakup feeling richer for it. All told, it was a source of great personal satisfaction and accomplishment, until the moment it dawned on me that I hadn't managed to pull it off.

Like most people, I don't end relationships gracefully. In trying to make the final exchange sound less like a crushing blow and more like, oh, just another glitch in our madcap dating adventure, I end up expressing myself in the most blasé terms, with an overreliance on words like "nice," "fine" and "good." Of course my own head has been on the chopping block often enough, and when it's happening to me, I always think, I would never do this to anyone, not like this.

Yet when it's my turn to do the deed, some of what comes out of my mouth sounds, even to my ears, staggeringly unkind.

So when my last relationship started going bad, I decided I would come better prepared to the breakup by working out my delivery in advance. I began by jotting my relationship-related grievances onto a legal pad. Because this turned into an exercise of procrastination, months flew by until suddenly I had a new problem.

Though I had postponed the inevitable long enough to be certain that I was doing the right thing, I had also drawn it out to the point where human decency (and dating etiquette) called for a sensitively handled breakup. A breakup of a higher standard than the one to which I would have been held had I ended our relationship when I first realized we had no future.

Technically that would have been from the get-go: Nick was engaged to another woman. But after two and a half years of engagement he showed no signs of intending to marry. His prospective in-laws were growing impatient; his fiancée was becoming unnaturally preoccupied with china; and still, every Sunday, I would find him sprawled on my living room floor scanning the real estate ads for the ultimate bachelor pad.

When I would raise the issue, he would agree he wasn't being fair to her, then whistle at the cost of some West Village walk-up. It was unsettling for me to realize that by putting off the inevitable with his fiancée, Nick was doing the exact thing I was with him (but at least I was taking notes).

My notes began as sad, whimsical musings, graduated to heated accusations and then spread from there. Whenever I would home in on a particular problem, a hundred others would sprout up that demanded contextualizing.

I started having to rely on mathematical symbols and contrived a Pantone color chart system that reflected the range of my moods in his company. (To convey the magnitude of the project, lilac and heliotrope were two colors on which I commonly relied.) Soon I had filled my entire legal pad and turned to using scraps of paper I found around the apartment.

Every time Nick would leave the dinner table to answer his cellphone or disengage himself from a conversation to send an e-mail message on his BlackBerry, I would tear a sheet of paper from my appointment book or swoop in on a napkin and write down something new.

Finally, to contain the mess of notes I had scribbled, I stapled them to the sheets of my legal pad until I was left with a fat fan of mismatched papers: a rounded, tattered orb.

At a loss at what to do next, I called my sister, Tamara.

"That's great that you're putting so much thought into it," she said.

"Only I'm having trouble quantifying things," I confessed. "I've got more charts and graphs than I do complete sentences."

"Well, it's still helped you put things in perspective, hasn't it?"

A thought struck me then. "You know, I'm really tempted to just PowerPoint the whole thing."

I was half-joking. But in the silence that followed I thought: Why not? What could possibly show more serious consideration of the matter, more meticulousness, more care? Besides, I remembered distastefully, Nick was such a technophile. And that's when the feelings of resentment that had flowed so freely from my pen crept back into my head, and I sensed myself growing dangerous. After all the time he had decided to spend with his gadgets (not to mention his fiancée) instead of with me, it would be perfect. I wouldn't just be giving him a standard-issue breakup, I'd be upgrading us to the 2006 version.

In converting the contents of my paper orb to PowerPoint, I broke down my message into two parts. In Part 1, I mapped our relationship into four stages - "All Day in Bed," "Oh. You're Engaged?," "Avoiding the Obvious" and "No Substance" - each of which was broken down into substages (e.g., "We Start Sleeping Together," "So What if We Have No Future?," "Is This Another One of Your Things at My Apartment?," "It's Just Taking Too Much Energy" and so on).

An x-y graph conjectured how invested each of us was in our relationship throughout the aforementioned four major stages.

Part 2 meanwhile focused on our ups and downs and speculated as to why we even bothered. This I conveyed through a montage of photographs that blew up to reveal the gradual tightening of our expressions through time; the emergence of new lines; how much, essentially, our misery had aged us.

I designed the presentation to be narrated by subtitles that streamed across the screen at a pace just slow enough for Nick to read before they faded to black (which, incidentally, was another grievance of mine: the man was no speed-reader).

It took me several hours. Not long after I finished, Nick called to remind me we had dinner reservations for that same night. I hadn't forgotten.

We met at the restaurant bar, saddled up and ordered our drinks. After my third scotch and soda I said it: "Let's end things now, tonight, while we're a little buzzed and in good moods."

He paled, straightened, slumped. "Why?"

I reached into my bag and, nodding somberly, pulled out my laptop, resting it on the bar in front of us.

For the next 20 minutes Nick sat lighted by the screen's glow. Because I wasn't responsible for voicing the presentation myself, I started freely on my fourth drink while using my other hand to prompt each slide.

I am so right on about some of this stuff, I thought as the slides advanced. I watched his face for any change of expression, any dawning of understanding, any silent accord, but his features stayed exactly put. Either he was captivated, or, I more strongly suspected, this was again an issue of his reading pace.

When the presentation ended (with a bulleted list enumerating the many good times we had had, to end on an up note), I snapped my laptop shut and turned to face him. "Well?"

He ordered another drink, and we sat in complete silence for as long as it took him to finish it. I slipped my laptop back into my bag, paid the tab and hailed myself a cab.

My ride home was invigorating. Was it really going to be that easy? I replayed the night's events in my head in slo-mo. Then I re-replayed them, this time from Nick's perspective, imagining what he must have been thinking at the sight of that final slide and decided that, ultimately, not only had I done the most gratifying thing but by far the kindest.

Though, granted, my purity of intent and the manner of my delivery were questionable, the message was tame: there was a big difference between what I had angrily put to paper and what I had ended up using in the presentation. Because I had chosen my words more carefully in the latter, I had succeeded - or so I thought - in not just getting the job done but leaving him with a little something to consider.

ON entering my apartment and catching sight of the answering machine, I suddenly felt less sure of myself. The machine, indicating seven new messages by way of a furiously blinking red light, did not divine warm tidings.

I set my laptop down, walked over and hit "play." For a few seconds I heard Nick's breathing. Then, "You're sick." And again, "Sick." I slumped onto the couch and took in the next five messages, which, with varying degrees of tastefulness, communicated the same sentiment.

It hurt him more than I thought it would. I had started out honestly convinced that altruism had motivated me, that I had wanted to end our relationship precisely and painlessly and that this was the best way to do it. Then it got ugly; I got ugly.

Regardless of whether or not I was aware of it, I had a point I wanted to make before saying goodbye to this man. And now, having made it, there was no comfort in knowing I had proven myself to be exactly the type of woman he had always accused me of being and I had always secretly hoped I wasn't: emotionless and inconsiderate. I wondered what Tamara would say if I told her I had actually gone through with it.

In Nick's final message, by which time, thankfully, he seemed to be losing momentum, I thought I could hear the faint sound of his fiancée's voice asking if he had managed to call the florist, and I felt momentarily heartened. Everyone, I decided, has his own sick way of sending a message, and if mine hadn't worked, his certainly hadn't either.

google video rocks

Check out Google Video.
Then check out this blog: Google Video of the Day.
My buddy Aashish sent me this matrix ping pong thing a few years back. It's funny to see it online again. And proof positive that you can find just about anything on the internet ...
Running time: 00:01:42.
In the words of my friend Jen, TYB (There's Your Boyfriend).
Running time: 00:03:38.
And there he is again.
Running time: 00:00:32
Hypnotic Panama Canal time-lapse photography film by Stephan van der Palen, using his own time-lapse software.
Running time: 00:11:03.

samedi, novembre 26, 2005

o tannenbaum

Today, my dad and I bought my first Christmas tree. It's a seven-foot Aleppo Pine (pinus halepensis). The environmentalist in me couldn't stomach a cut tree, so my live tree is in its pot, waiting to be planted in 2006. My father even insisted on paying for it, and after putting forth the requisite protest, I let him buy my tree.

We got it home and decorated it with white lights and the silver and gold ornaments that I've been collecting for a few years now. It also includes ornaments that were gifts from friends and souvenirs gathered on trips to faraway lands.

I know that it's ridiculously early to have a tree up — but I'll be away at Christmas and want to enjoy it for several weeks. Today was also pretty much my last day of freedom before I become 'crazy grad student with one financial accounting group project, one very scary economics paper to research and write, and two wicked-hard exams, all within the next 23 days-girl.' Oh, and did I mention that it's my first tree since I was a kid?

I'm mesmerized by how beautiful it is — it's a good reminder that the simple things are often the ones that bring me the greatest joy.

Thanks, popi. I've had a big smile on my face all day, and I suspect that it won't go away anytime soon.

having a fit

Today, I accomplished my original fitness goal — to lose about five pounds a month for a year. It's not quite a year, but I've lost 63 pounds since last Christmas.

Weight is only one measure of my fitness and how on-track I am with being healthy. But the nicest side effect is being incredibly comfortable in my own skin. The outside reflects the inside and that's gratifying.

New fitness goals for the coming year include:
  • Running a half-marathon in 2006 (and, after seeing how that goes, perhaps upping the ante later that year).
  • Keeping my prolactin levels up.
  • Hiking the Inca Trail.

beautiful minds

As the former president of my junior high chess club (which happened to have more girls than boys in it), I'll wager that there would be no story at all if the chess players in question were male and sexy as all get-out.

Sex and Chess. Is She a Queen or a Pawn?
Vaness Reid, a 16-year-old student from Sydney, Australia, runs cross-country, plays touch football, enjoys in-line skating, swims and goes bodyboarding. She also has a cerebral side: she plays competitive chess. She represented Australia at a tournament in Malaysia in 2002 and played in a tournament in New Zealand this year.

While Ms. Reid is clearly no novice at the game, she isn't exactly taking it by storm. She is not on the World Chess Federation's list of the world's 50 top female players. In fact she is ranked 47,694th among both men and women. But Ms. Reid, who has auburn hair, light-blue eyes and a winning smile, is arguably the top player in the world based on a more subjective criterion: her looks. A Web site called
World Chess Beauty Contest ranks her as the world's most beautiful woman in the game.

The site was started earlier this year by Vladislav Tkachiev, 32, a Kazakh grandmaster who is ranked 83rd in the world, and his brother, Eugeny, 39. The younger Mr. Tkachiev, who appears in photos to be well-built and boyish looking, said they had started the site to raise the profile of the game. "Chess desperately needs some glamour," Mr. Tkachiev said. The brothers are not the only ones trying to inject some glamour, or at least sex appeal, into the game. Alexandra Kosteniuk, 21, a dark-haired, porcelain-skinned Russian grandmaster who is ranked fifth in the world among women and 525th over all, models and uses her Web site to sell photos of herself posing in bikinis next to giant chess pieces.

Maria Manakova, 31, who is the fourth-ranked woman in Russia and who is ranked eighth on the Beauty Contest site, attracted attention last year when she posed nude for Speed, a Russian magazine. She followed it up by posing for Maxim and the Russian edition of Playboy.

The efforts to spice up the game mainly emanate from Eastern Europe, whose players have long dominated the sport and where cheesecake displays are less likely to draw complaints about the exploitation and the objectification of women.

And capitalizing on sex appeal is also not exactly a new idea in competitive sports. Before Ms. Reid, tennis had Anna Kournikova and beach volleyball had Gabrielle Reese and soccer had Mia Hamm.

But chess?

Mr. Tkachiev said that the people who do not play the game have a wrong opinion about chess. "They think that it is only a game for those who are quite inactive and unattractive and aged," he said. "It is simply not true. This is a very democratic game for anyone. There are a lot of attractive people, whether female or male. We decided to show this side of chess."

So the stereotypes are wrong and always have been? Not exactly. "In general there are much more women in chess than before," Mr. Tkachiev said.

Other players agree. Steve Immitt has directed chess tournaments around the United States for more than two decades. In recent years, he said, he has noticed not only that there are more women playing but that they are better and more attractive.

Still, women are vastly outnumbered in tournaments. So their participation can be a distraction, drawing crowds around them, Mr. Immitt said. They can also distract their male opponents, some of whom do fit the stereotype that Mr. Tkachiev disputed. Mr. Immitt recalled a tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., in which a male player complained that his female opponent was a distraction. Mr. Immitt went to investigate.

"She was distracting," he said. "But there was nothing I could do. It was the beginning of April, right after spring break, and she was dressed appropriately for the time of year. It wasn't anything against the law. I told the guy, 'You are going to have to call upon yourself to overcome the distraction.' He ended up losing the game anyway, but I am not sure that was from being distracted."

One indisputably attractive woman who plays chess is the supermodel Carmen Kass, who was elected president of the Estonian Chess Federation last year and is dating Eric Lobron, a German grandmaster. But if Ms. Kass draws stares, it is not at the playing tables; she does not compete.

vendredi, novembre 25, 2005


After being orphaned from the orphan's Thanksgiving, I enjoyed an interesting and non-traditional holiday with a friend. The meal itself was a sunset picnic at Cardiff State Beach, followed by an intense effort to keep sand out of my crack at Moonlight Beach.

The menu:
Roasted garlic and goat cheese on rye toast
Grilled turkey breast sandwiches
Potato chips
Fresh cranberry and orange relish
Pumpkin pie

jeudi, novembre 24, 2005

the bald guitarist with bat wings

I went to the Thanksgiving eve JiveWire vs. One Nation Under a Groove at The Casbah with Jen.

Blasphemous Guitars, a thrash-metal Depeche Mode cover band, opened the night and was hilarious. At one point, Greg (lead guitarist) plead loneliness to Adam (lead singer), who responded by saying "any women who want to give Greg a standing lap dance on stage should come up now." This was the point at which Jen said "You know you want to go dance with the bald guitarist with bat wings."

Neither his wings nor his pleather pants really did it for me, and I stayed put. But I did contemplate it for about two seconds.

caring about the ground at jfk

Finals countdown: 25 days = Not having to care about either subject after four more accounting classes and three more econ lectures.
Vacation countdown: 31 days until a cold and wet December day, when I'll touch the ground at JFK.

mercredi, novembre 23, 2005

waiting and watching

One of my dealbreakers has to do with how someone treats a waiter. I figure that how you treat someone who is serving you says a lot about who you are. I'm not alone in that assessment.

Ever since Carl Jung's work on archetypes, there have been a lot of systems devised to categorize people, such as the Myers-Briggs personality test used often in business.

Here is a simpler categorization technique: take someone out to eat and watch how they treat the waiter. You will learn quickly that there are three types of people in the world, as follows:
  • "[Waiter: can I get you something to drink? Person: yes, let me think about what I want. (Pause.) How about a ginger ale? (Pause.) No ice please. (Pause.) And with a lemon. (Long pause.) Actually, do you have diet sprite?]" These are people who like to push waiters around, getting pleasure that there are some people they can "control", and show their power.
  • The second (and most common) type are people who are oblivious to the issue of the waiter's time: they are usually prompt in their answers, and they interrupt the waiter only when needed.
  • The third type are people who are sensitive to the waiter's time. They recognize that waiters are often very busy, and might even realize that most waiters find it hard to earn a decent wage. These people are very polite to the waiters: they smile and make very quick small talk, but let the waiter get to their work. The extreme form of this type almost never interrupts the waiter-- if they are brought the wrong food, they will sometimes just eat it!
~Which type are you?

please hold

I've been exiled to phone tree purgatory more times than I like.

And like many people, I'd give my firstborn for the keypad sequence to use bypass the phone system and reach a human being. Thank goodness for the NPR story on Paul English's IVR cheat sheet to reach a human.
Via NPR.

more than one way to be two

My friend Granger used to joke that suggesting a threesome was a sure-fire way to break up with a woman. If she accepted, it meant introducing a third party to the relationship, ensuring its demise. If she refused, then he also had an easy out.

A few months ago, someone in a committed relationship put the moves on me. It was an odd situation because there hadn't been any up-front communication about what the rules were for the couple and how I, the single friend, fit in that equation.

This week, I had a thought-provoking conversation on the whole "do-ask-do-tell" topic and then ran across this article on the new monogamy. Here are some excerpts:

Getting from here to there
For years, we have said—to each other, to our boyfriends, to people writing in to our advice column—that monogamy is a choice, and if you expect it to come naturally, then your relationship (or your shot at one) is doomed. In other words, don’t take monogamy for granted; take the urge to stray for granted. But then again, our underlying assumption was that of course you’d choose monogamy, because what other choice was there? That’s what happily-ever-after requires. Although we may crave a fling on the side, the thought of our partner’s doing the same is heartbreaking, and so we agree to fidelity in order not to drive each other crazy.

The flip side
If you’re partners in crime, it would seem, then there’s really no crime.

“I wanted a relationship strong enough for him to share his desires with me, even if those desires weren’t about me. Because what had really hurt in the past was not the indiscretions but that my partners had lied.”

Some groundrules
To our pleasant surprise, however, there is absolutely nothing skeevy about Siege and Katie. They’re smart, funny, polite, hip, attractive, self-deprecating, and affectionate with one another. And that’s the most disconcerting thing of all. Call us snobs, but it’s easy to dismiss suburban swingers who show up at orgies with a Tupperware container or Bay Area hippies missing the irony gene. But when a couple like Siege and Katie decry strict monogamy? It makes you wonder, How old-fashioned, socially programmed, and ass-backward am I?

These two can certainly teach most couples a thing or two about communication: They finish each other’s sentences and tease one another gently about the few times they’ve failed to follow their own simple yet strict rules. (1) The Vampire Rule: If they’re both in the same city, they have to make it back by dawn. (2) The Three-Strikes Rule: All pinch hitters must be interested in befriending both Siege and Katie (and vice versa); however, up to three solo dates are acceptable to warm someone up. (3) The Postcards Rule: If they’re seeing someone else on their own, they must bring home photographic evidence. (4) The Woman-Only Rule: Katie is bisexual, Siege is not—thus, for pinch hitters to meet rule No. 2, they must be female. (5) The Veto Rule: for Katie’s benefit, allowing her to rule out potential home-wreckers. (6) The Safety Rule: What some couples call “body-fluid monogamy,” i.e., always use condoms when having sex with a third . . . or a fourth . . . or a fifth . . .

Above and beyond the rules, what makes their relationship work, say Siege and Katie, is that they’re a team, and that comes before anything (hence the Three-Strikes Rule). In fact, this idea of working together came up repeatedly with couples who have tweaked monogamy: Part of the appeal, it seems, is a sort of “us against the world” vibe. More than one couple referred to their additional partners as living, breathing sex toys.

Woman + Man + ?
The most smooth-running nontraditional relationships, it seems, comprise a straight man and a bisexual woman who’s not particularly interested in men besides her No. 1 guy. “I wish I were bi,” says Siege. “It’d make things easier. But it’s like this island of old-fashionedness in my brain—I just don’t want her messing around with other guys. Because I don’t find men attractive, my only instinct would be to punch them.”

In fact, it’s rare to find hetero couples where the guy is willing to entertain even fantasies involving other men. Christen, a 33-year-old performance artist, says that neither she nor her husband are “conventionally straight,” so they ogle men and women together—like “pretty boy Mig from Rock Star: INXS.” But we found that male-female couples like this are few and far between.

It’s impossible to isolate a single explanation, but we’ll take a shot: Maybe women really are more sexually fluid than men—or their sexuality is simply more socially malleable. Or maybe this is just a particular brand of bisexuality; most of the women we spoke with said they are sexually, but not romantically, attracted to other women. And maybe this is a good thing, a sign that girls have more options, more pleasure, more of an experimental nature, more freedom overall. Or there’s the negative interpretation: Perhaps this is all a performance to turn guys on, Girls Gone Wild Gone Nonmonogamous. It could be that sexually speaking, women are just not taken seriously: Hot, yes, but as sex toys, not real romantic threats. (Who could trump the mighty penis?) As two women about to embark on what we hope will be lifelong commitments, we’re left wondering: Has the bar suddenly been raised? Is female bisexuality the latest way to be the perfect girlfriend?
These definitions are useful.

happy thanksgiving

Hope your Thanksgiving is peaceful, tasty, and includes a nap.

Meanwhile, don't show this to your two-year old.

Via Georgia

mardi, novembre 22, 2005

they're coming

I've been a fan of Savage Love (a NSFW sex advice column) for some time now.

I just got around to reading last week's column and loved the 'straight update,' especially his rant about the religious right lobbying to shelve the HPV vaccine, in spite of the fact that it will save lives:
Who ultimately gets to determine the government's position on the HPV vaccine? Thanks to George W. Bush, the Christian fundies do.

From The Washington Post: "The jockeying [around the HPV vaccine] reflects the growing influence social conservatives, who had long felt overlooked by Washington, have gained on a broad spectrum of policy issues under the Bush administration. In this case, a former member of the conservative group Focus on the Family serves on the federal panel that is playing a pivotal role in deciding how the vaccine is used."

"W" stands for women, he told us when he ran for president. But George W. Bush never said anything about standing for live women.

The right-wingers, the fundies, and the sex-phobes don't just have it in for the queers. They're coming for your asses too.

to (mine) own self be true

the life aquatic

This story, on how Fabien Zissou Cousteau (the grandson of that Cousteau) is using a shark-shaped submarine to study great whites, is proof that truth is stranger than fiction. That it was inspired by a Belgian comic strip — and that the sharks don't seem to mind— makes this even funnier.

Wacky scientists are hot, I tell you. Hot.

Ocean Explorer Becomes One With the Sharks
There have been many men inside sharks through the ages, but only one has wanted to be there, and his name is Cousteau.

The familiar name carries with it a well-established sense of seawater, science and showmanship. But this Cousteau is Fabien, the 38-year-old grandson of Jacques and an ocean explorer in his own right.

Fabien Cousteau is studying the behavior of great white sharks. They have gotten an unfair reputation as soulless killers, he said in an interview. Reading stories about shark attacks, he said, "It struck me about how much misinformation about sharks is out there." With a new documentary that will be shown on CBS later this year, he's out to show that they are, well, not exactly cuddly, but not evil either.

One problem with monitoring sharks, he said, is that it is so hard to observe them without affecting their behavior. The shark cages, the bait - it all adds up, he said, to footage of gaping mouths and churning water foamed with blood.

The idea for a shark submarine came to him, he said, from the adventures of Tintin, a comic strip character created by a Belgian artist. In "Red Rackham's Treasure," Tintin explores the sea in a shark-shaped sub. "I was 7 years old when I read it," said Mr. Cousteau, who was born in Paris but lives in New York.

He named his submersible Troy, for another animal-shaped vehicle with invaders inside. Piloting the 14-foot craft was not a joy. "Troy is definitely not for the claustrophobic!" he wrote in an e-mail message after the interview. He compared the experience to "being in a womb."

The interior is filled with water, and he uses a rebreather. He carried six hours of air on each dive, but would usually become uncomfortably chilled after a couple of hours.

Mr. Cousteau's gamble paid off, he said, when the groups of sharks he approached off the coasts of Mexico allowed him to cruise along with them. "The sharks were willing to be around us," he said. He found that some - perhaps not the brightest of the bunch - were apparently fooled by the swimming fake.

"The fact that it even remotely worked, remotely resembled a swimming shark, was really neat," he said.

marking time

While headed to my car last week, I noticed that the leaves on the sycamore trees are (finally) dropping, despite our schizophrenic weather.


"Everybody's got to leave their darkness sometime."
-Sting, aka Gordon Matthew Sumner (1951 - ), English musician and actor, in "I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying"

lundi, novembre 21, 2005

at a loss for words

I aspire to cheekiness.

Naturally, I think that the "cheeky not geeky" T-shirt being sold at the Scrabble world championship is terribly clever. But I'd prefer one that just says "cheekiness." Gratuitous tangent: When I was a little girl, my mother's pet name for me was chiqui, (pronounced like the English work "cheeky,") and short for chiquita (Spanish for "little one.")

Oh, I also wouldn't mind being a better Scrabble player. For now, I'll settle for being a good Boggle player and leave the Scrabble domination to Laura, Aaron, Brandon, and Cass.

Scrabble Kings Vie for Linguistic Superiority
In the end, the zobo and the ogive could not quite triumph over the qanat and the euripi on Sunday, and thus the contender was birsled - Scottish dialect for scorched or toasted.

It was with such linguistic acrobatics that the eighth World Scrabble Championships came to an end in a north London hotel, when Adam Logan, a 30-year-old mathematician from Canada, scored 465 points to beat Pakorn Nemitrmansuk, a 30-year-old architect from Thailand, with 426 points in the final game of a playoff.

two words

Minimum wage.

meet cass

Cass is one of my closest friends.

In addition to being smart, beautiful, talented, an amazing listener, and kind, she is also a great cook.

These are from Eleanor's birthday this weekend.

Can you please take the picture, already?
We're not drunk. Really.

this i believe: there is no god

"This I Believe" is a series of essays on values and beliefs by Americans from all walks of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed Penn Jillette's essay, There is No God. I'm struck by how he lives in the present and appreciates everyday gifts. That's a lesson for all of us, no matter what our personal beliefs happen to be.
So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.

Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.


Can a person change?

Can someone who (in his own words) did monstrous things in his past do more good for society alive than dead?

Today's Morning Edition story on Tookie Williams has me churning on these questions.
Crips co-founder Tookie Williams faces execution in California on Dec. 13 unless the governor grants him clemency. Williams, convicted of four murders, has become a noted anti-gang crusader, writer of children's books, and a Nobel Prize nominee while in prison at San Quentin.


Today's forecast calls for a high of 82° and a low of 48°. W.T.F.


I like people who are direct.

Welcome to my 'hood, where at least one of my neighbors is very direct.

dimanche, novembre 20, 2005

happiness is ...

... sleeping in on a Saturday (and Sunday) morning.

... hearing Dan Savage talk about his new book on NPR.

... crocheting at the gym and having a perfect stranger ask if my pregnant friend can "just put it [childbirth] off a little bit," so that I can have more time to work on the baby blanket.

... organic baby greens, organic sweet 100 tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, marinated artichoke hearts, and caesar chicken strips tossed in an olive oil vinaigrette and seasoned with a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

... watching an especially good episode of Six Feet Under Saturday afternoon.

... brushing Casey's belly and watching him play the (air) banjo with both hind legs.

... a Saturday afternoon at Wine Steals, celebrating Eleanor's thirtieth birthday with her, Cass, Jason, Tony, and other far-flung folks.

... congratulating Karen on her recent engagement while at dinner with her, Georgia, and Jane.

... recounting the 14-game Rummikub winning streak story to Cass and getting the low-down on why neither of us wear skirt boots.

... being completely unfazed at the thought of my parents house/Caseysitting for me while I'm on vacation.

... realizing that its 31 30 days until finals are over and 37 36 days until my vacation.

... seeing a box of Bentley tea in a store Saturday night.

... eating the inaugural breakfast (pumpkin pancakes) in Cass' beautiful new kitchen while singing along to Sting and the Indigo Girls and trying to figure out when This American Life will come on.

... walking around at the farmer's market in short sleeves and jeans and being too hot because it's 88 freakin' degrees on Nov. 20. Can you say global warming?

cass' pumpkin puff pancakes

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 TBSP melted butter
1 cup milk
1 TBSP honey
1/2 cup pumpkin (cooked and pureed)
2 egg yolks, beaten
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Sift dry ingredients together. Combine wet ingredients, except for egg whites. Stir. Fold in egg whites.

Serve with butter and maple syrup. (Or fresh whipped cream and apple/ pumpkin butter.)

Makes 8 pancakes.

samedi, novembre 19, 2005

spellcheck on aisle four

More fun for Anglophiles like me who love Britishisms ...

While double-checking the spelling of the word "bollocks," I ran across the English-to-American dictionary.


"Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own."
-Bruce Lee (1940—1973), Chinese American martial artist and actor

vendredi, novembre 18, 2005

isoquant inflation

Finals countdown: 31 days until I gladly forget that isoquants aren't something I'd do at the gym.
Vacation countdown: 37 days until I get empirical data on the scientist's doting threshhold and his analysis of doting inflation theory.

stitch and bitch

Serious props to Regina for hosting tonight's crochet stitch and bitch. The Chinese food was tasty, the plum wine divine, the homebrewed limoncello potent, the fireplace toasty, and the hookers fun.

Thanks to Susan A. for stirring the pot and ensuring that the conversation with Regina, Cass, Carol, Norma, and Melissa stayed in interesting territory (politics, religion, and sex) almost all night.

jeudi, novembre 17, 2005

balancing a hooker

Finals countdown: 32 days until trial balances cease to be so damn trying.
Vacation countdown: 38 days until I hang with a hooker.


While looking through some old files today, I stumbled on this image.

It's a detail of a photo from a series I did on orchids a few years ago.

great googly moogly

If you google the word "failure," the first site in the results is President Bush's biography.

Because many Google users would not find this amusing and would "assume that this reflects a political bias on our part," Google has kindly and defensively provided an explanation:

The Google engine ranks pages in order of popularity. Pranksters adept at Google-bombing can influence those rankings. Google doesn't like such pranks but doesn't want to "alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up."
I thought it was interesting that Michael Moore is second in those results.
Via Nancy and the SF Chronicle

diana's sangria

2 bottles red wine
1 liter (the large bottle) Orangina
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup triple sec
1/2 cup peach schnapps
Fruit (sliced apples, oranges, peaches, plums, nectarines)

Tip: marinate the fruit in the hard liquor for 4-6 hours.
Via Diana L.


"There's nothing new under the sun. The difference is how the furniture is arranged."
-My friend (and fellow Toastmaster) Teresa Jache

mercredi, novembre 16, 2005


peachy drinking

Finals countdown: 33 days until I kick, take, and drink with my fellow SchMemBA-ers.
Vacation countdown: 39 days until I meet the woman who's "sweet as a peach."

fellow traveller

Tonight I learned that a woman whom I greatly respect is taking a journey similar to one I began in April 2004.

I hope that she finds the same rewards along the way. And that she savors the strength that comes from being one's own person as she grows out of a relationship that no longer makes sense.

choosing love

"There is an attorney I know who always jokes 'I gave up Harvard for love,' but I really think it would sound even lamer to say 'I gave up love for Harvard.'"
-My friend Nancy Doig, on choices of the heart

Ah, the things we do for love.

I think Nancy's right. And Princess Sayako's story below appeals to the romantic in me. I guess the lesson here is to choose wisely, which isn't always easy in matters of the heart. I don't think it's as simple as using your head or your heart.

Japanese princess trades palace for apartment: With wedding to commoner, Sayako exits hereditary monarchy

Princess Sayako, the only daughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, wed a commoner in a private ceremony at a Tokyo hotel on Tuesday, losing her privileged status as a member of the imperial family.

Sayako, wearing a simple, full-length white silk dress and pearls, walked several steps behind groom Yoshiki Kuroda into a sparsely decorated room where the traditional Shinto ceremony was held.

The couple were greeted by a priest dressed in white silk robes. About 30 close relatives, including the emperor and empress, attended.

Rather than exchanging wedding rings, the half-hour ritual centered on the sipping of cups of sake rice wine.

Marriage to Kuroda, a 40-year-old urban planner, means Sayako, 36, relinquishes her title, swapping the grandeur of the Imperial Palace for an ordinary Tokyo apartment, and trading official duties for housework and the supermarket run.

She is the first daughter of an emperor to marry for 45 years.


"Exes have a funny way of becoming a thousand times more fuckable the minute they stop being the same inconsiderate fuckface who forgets to replace the liner when they take the garbage out of the can. It's like what they say about childbirth — the body forgets about the pain. Otherwise, people would never want to have a second child or get into another relationship. "
-Erin Bradley, in her "Miss Information" advice column on love and sex

mardi, novembre 15, 2005

running bs

Finals countdown: 34 days until BS statements are just things you write on a test in free-flowing prose, rather than in a tabular format.
Vacation countdown: 40 days until I'm walking (or running) in a winter wonderland.


On grad school, from a friend who is currently writing her thesis:

"The first semester, you're over it.
Somewhere in the middle, you go numb.
Then, at the end, you're over it again."

good times avec les voyous

You never know when photos from a crazy summer in France will surface ... welcome to my misspent well-spent youth.

Watch out for firemen's balls!
Quel souvenir! Oui. Les pompiers ont des très grandes fêtes.

The only way to drink beer is a liter at a time.
Quand ils etaient les voyous.
Liberated from mon ami Trevor's MySpace profile.

oh for fuck's sake

When putting one's lunch in one's messenger bag, one ought to ensure that said bag remains upright in one's trunk. Otherwise, the Chinese takeout box containing one's chicken Katsu Dan leftovers will spill sauce from the aforementioned leftovers all over the contents of one's bag, including one's planner, calculator, cds, checkbook, and accounting notes.

Fuckfuckfuck. It's a decidedly inauspicious start to my day.

lundi, novembre 14, 2005

godless economies of scale

Finals countdown: 35 days until economy of scale only means splitting a ginormous package of Costco toilet paper with Z and Mrs. Z.
Vacation countdown: 41 days until I break bread with a godless liberal, the fundamentalist agnostic, and a quaker couple.

i am i said

I'm grinning from ear to ear because my Monday has been fantastic so far.
  • Aaron stopped by with a video montage of baby pictures set to "Here Comes the Sun."
    • Cute photo montages of happy parents and baby: 1
    • 6 dewy-eyed women: 0
  • My colleague Chris surprised me with a beautiful gift: postcard plates. They are all vintage scenes of Parisian landmarks (La tour Eiffel, Sacre Coeur, the carousel at the base of Montmartre, and the Arc de Triomphe).
  • A database at work that was attacked by a virus didn't lose any data. : )
  • I just bought tickets to see Neil Diamond in December with my friend Geraghty.

two stops beyond barking

I love idioms.

While looking for the origin of the expression "dead to rights," I stumbled on these Wikipedia pages:
And I still love this site on British slang.

pimp my ride of the valkyries

My friend Nancy (and her husband Ryan) submitted their caption to the New Yorker for this week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest. They are finalists in contest #26 (the truck/symphony cartoon).

Check it out. And then vote for them, already!

dimanche, novembre 13, 2005

mr. fancy pants

This ebay auction is hilarious. This guy's writing is fantastic. The auction has given him some notoriety, $102.50, and more space in his closet.

DKNY Men's Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own Stylish. Expensive. Very much a bad purchase for me.
Item number: 8335653541

You are bidding on a mistake.

We all make mistakes. We date the wrong people for too long. We chew gum with our mouths open. We say inappropriate things in front of grandma.

And we buy leather pants.

I can explain these pants and why they are in my possession. I bought them many, many years ago under the spell of a woman whom I believed to have taste. She suggested I try them on. I did. She said they looked good. I wanted to have a relationship of sorts with her. I’m stupid and prone to impulsive decisions. I bought the pants.

The relationship, probably for better, never materialized. The girl, whose name I can’t even recall, is a distant memory. I think she was short.

Ultimately the pants were placed in the closet where they have remained, unworn, for nearly a decade. I would like to emphasize that: Aside from trying these pants on, they have never, ever been worn. In public or private.

I have not worn these leather pants for the following reasons:

I am not a member of Queen.
I do not like motorcycles.
I am not Rod Stewart.
I am not French.
I do not cruise for transvestites in an expensive sports car.

These were not cheap leather pants. They are Donna Karan leather pants. They’re for men. Brave men, I would think. Perhaps tattooed, pierced men. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say you either have to be very tough, very gay, or very famous to wear these pants and get away with it.

Again, they’re men’s pants, but they’d probably look great on the right lady. Ladies can get away with leather pants much more often than men can. It’s a sad fact that men who own leather pants will have to come to terms with.

They are size 34x34. I am no longer size 34x34, so even were I to suddenly decide I was a famous gay biker I would not be able to wear these pants. These pants are destined for someone else. For reasons unknown - perhaps to keep my options open, in case I wanted to become a pirate - I have shuffled these unworn pants from house to house, closet to closet. Alas, it is now time to part ways so that I may use the extra room for any rhinestone-studded jeans I may purchase in the future.

These pants are in excellent condition. They were never taken on pirate expeditions. They weren’t worn onstage. They didn’t straddle a Harley, or a guy named Harley. They just hung there, sad and ignored, for a few presidencies.

Someone, somewhere, will look great in these pants. I’m hoping that someone is you, or that you can be suckered into buying them by a girl you’re trying to bed.

Please buy these leather pants.

Questions from other members : DKNY Men's Leather Pants I Unfortunately Own
Item number:
Question & Answer
Q: I'm confused, is Donna Karan a rock star or a transvestite?
A: It's a very fine line, really.
Q: I have a friend that emails these types of auctions to me for a good laugh and I must admit, yours is the best I have seen in a long time. Your wording and demeanor are perfect. If I had the cake to spend on something I would never wear right now, I would buy them just for the simple fact you made me laugh that hard. I wish you made commercials on TV so I wouldn't be forced to channel surf when they came on. Kudos to you. Are all your descriptions this funny or is this a fluke? Your replies are excellent and this auction should be on Letterman or something. Good luck and thanks for the laugh.
A: I used to write commercials, but they're hard to make funny because the people who make the final decisions are idiots. But maybe you'll like or
Q: LOL. I once knew a guy who actually wore leather pants, loved them, and was very popular with them. That was 15 years ago...he was Italian...and my uncle's boyfriend. Enough said.
A: Italy shares France's reputation for adultery, leather pants, and aggressiveness to women. Except for your uncle's boyfriend, of course.
Q: Love the pants but . . . I wonder, how many thongs do you think could be made from them? Fruitcreek.
A: For Americans? 15. French? 45.
Q: Are these pants worthy of cruising for transvestites while in my Maserati? I just got one and need an outfit that would go with my new car.
A: I think leather pants would accent that mid-life crisis quite nicely.
Q: I just wanted to tell you that you made me laugh aloud! First, when my husband was in high school he apparently bought a white satin Michael Jacksonesque multi-zippered jacket from The Chess King under strikingly similar circumstances. I wonder if it is the same chick . . . Second, my husband and I recently hosted a white trash party, Trailerpalooza. We had been to a 38 Special concert and decided to knock off thier look. So we each bought pleather pants (though these beauties would have been perfect!) and I then sewed flame fabric to the bottoms, as if it was lapping up the legs. We also got leather jackets which we adorned with a bit of flame fabric. Well, somehow, I came out looking like a badass, but my poor husband looked like a homo. In fact someone actually said, -It's amazing how pleather makes Shari look so bad, and Rick so gay.- I wish I had a picture on my computer, because I think it would make you laugh! Anyway, good luck with the sale of your magic pants!
A: When I was a busboy at El Torito I remember a waiter who saved up hundreds for a replica Michael Jackson 'Beat It' jacket. Zippers everywhere. At the time I thought he was a god. Now I think he's probably buried in someone's tomato garden.
Q: Thank you for the inspiration. I am now thinking of ebaying every little thing....and I do mean little thing that I ever wore to be a man pleaser/enticer. That would have to include stiletto heels, leather bustiers, gstrings and the like.....hmmm, wait a that I think about it....I might have to bid on those pants and create an ensemble....for myself. Did I mention that I am 5'2?
A: Hello Senator Clinton.
Q: FUNNY!! I too have a pair of leather pants to sell and for very similar reasons. Mine also have severe case of closet shrinkage. Thanks for the laugh and happy selling. tom
A: Hmm. Maybe we know the same girl.
Q: I would like to be tough, gay or a rock star. Do you think purchasing and subsequently donning these trousers will help?
A: Probably not if you call them 'trousers.' A true rockstar would say 'pants' or 'duds' or something more rock-star-y, like 'ladykillers.'
Q: If they did still fit.. and I wasn't married, would you wear them for me? LOL.. best of luck!
A: Yes, but only if I was wearing a pink tank top and re-enacting Billy Squier's regrettable 'Rock me tonight' video.
Q: No question, just wanted to tell you this is the best listing i've ever read. I'm sorry it didn't work out with the short girl, but am so proud of you for never wearing these. :) Good luck with your sale!
A: Thank you. I'll be free of them in less than two days, and at least $76 closer to owning a yacht.
Q: I don't actually need the pants... and they wouldn't fit my less than womanly curves even if I could pull them off- but I could not resist telling you what a fabulous ad this is. While reason prevailed in the end, I was almost convinced to buy the pants if for no other reason than to see if I could be coy enough to get a man to wear them in hopes of a relationship with me... fabulous ad, just fabulous.
A: Sadly I lack the ability to sell people things they don't need - unlike Ron Popeil and The Sharper Image.
Q: You express yourself exactly like my ex-fiancee. I had to check if you lived in Boulder, CO just to see if you were him. I really didn't think anyone else had his matter of fact mixed with twisted humor personality. Ten years ago I was just ending our relationship so I was going thinking that possibly he bought these pants to try and woo a little waitress vixen with an IQ half that of her bust size. By the way, the last person that claimed that you were stereotyping, did you for some reason envision Dueling Banjos playing in the background with a man sporting a greased back mullet and a makeshift spittoon, and, of course, comfy leather pants, or was that just me?
A: Yes, the grammar and tone said 'Deliverance' but the leather pants in church said 'Wham UK'. So I'm confused.
Q: you enjoy stereotyping people that wear leather dont ya, you think owning leather is gay, let me tell you something i am not gay, i am not famous, dont ride a bike, and unlike i aint a coward. i do own 2 pairs of them, to me they are more comfy than blue jeans ever will be, i where them anywhere i want including church, no ones ever said nothing about them
A: More important: Do you need a pair of 34x34 leather pants?
Q: I am in a band, but do not wear leather pants. However, if I DID wear leather pants, your pants are the ones I would buy because your description is...eloquent and touching in a leatherish sort of way. May we post your ad on our site?
A: I think I answered this already, but eBay is asking it again for some reason. Thank you for being polite and seeking permission. Sure, you can post it. After all, I'm trying to sell pants.
Q: Bsack, I'm an editor for Poor Mojo's Almanac(k) (http://, a weekly online magazine now entering its sixth year of publication. We'd like to run the text of your posting, with the image of the glorious pants, as a rant on our site. May we do so? Our submission guidlines can be found here: (Long story short: we owe you a beer for one piece--provided you came to Ann Arbor or SF, CA to pick it up--or will reward you with a PMjA t-shirt after we've published 5 of your pieces.) Interested? Best, Dave . . . Editor and Technologist PMjA
A: Sure, if you don't mind that it's already on
Q: Well, it looks like you're going to sell them. They're too big for me anyway and I'm female. You're a great writer -- so natural, so funny. I think you should be in standup. Thank you so much for making my day.
A: Thank you for the kind words. In lieu of standup I post things on The hours are better and there's no drink minimum.
Q: For Mr. VBMX: If he were gay, he would know what boot cut means. What does VBMX mean?
A: I'm not sure. It sounds like a missile.
Q: Hi, Sorry I don't want the leather pants but just had to write and say I really had a good laugh at your description!! I really hope you sell them .... and not to a guy! Good luck! Jeannette
A: If you change your mind and want the pants, I'll be waiting patiently by the keyboard.
Q: Seen your ad on you gay? LOL Just kidding!! I would claim these on VBMX!! Now all the guys are gonna think of you as a sissy!! LOL!!! Good luck bro!!
A: Thanks. That's a lot of exclamation points.

breathing marginal analysis

Finals countdown: 36 days to not caring about marginal analysis.
Vacation countdown: 42 days until I can see my breath whenever I'm outside.

consider yourself warned

If you haven't been to Paris, this is just a weird cartoon. But if you've ridden le metro, you know that those doors hurt when they slam shut on your body. Just ask Tatjana.

Liberated from mon ami Trevor's MySpace profile.

samedi, novembre 12, 2005

p&l dancing

Finals countdown: 37 days to saying goodbye to P&L statements.
Vacation countdown: 43 days until I can dance stupidly with my favorite wacko liberal.


"A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five."
-Groucho Marx (1890 – 1977), American comedian


"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams — live the life you've imagined."
-Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862; born David Henry Thoreau), American author, development critic, naturalist, transcendentalist, pacifist, tax resister and philosopher.

I wrote these goals about four years ago. They are all still relevant and very much reflect who I am, how I see myself, and how I want to live my life. Much has changed since I wrote them, and I added one today to acknowledge the most important shift in who I am.

It's time to celebrate the fact that I'm living the life I've imagined.
  • Leave a legacy— make the world better for having been here.
  • Be rich in experiences and friends.
  • Live passionately, joyfully, and without regret.
  • Expand my worldview— live abroad and travel extensively.
  • Seek knowledge — constantly take classes and surround myself with interesting and intelligent people.
  • Achieve balance in all areas of my life.
  • Strive to be healthy — physically, emotionally, and mentally.
  • Take risks and be more spontaneous.
  • Enjoy the present— be here in the moment, doing this.

vendredi, novembre 11, 2005


"Happy-ness is ... being in trouble."
-My friend Allison Dolan, on my recent state of mind.

boot elasticity

Finals countdown: 38 days to never caring about elasticity (except for in my clothing) again.
Vacation countdown: 44 days to buy some boots, already.


My friend Ellie mentioned multi-shirking as a euphemism for procrastination today. I liked that, and then remembered this term: multi-slacking.

Similar to multi-tasking with computers, it involves engaging in a variety of applications on a computer. However, in multi-slacking, this definition is restricted to include one or more of the following: gaming, chatting, listening to music, web browsing (non-educational), hacking, pirating, posting on forums, watching videos, or viewing pr0n.
AP Comp Sci is the perfect chance to practice my multi-slacking skills.

jeudi, novembre 10, 2005

amadeus, amadeus

One of my favorite lines in Amadeus is Jeffrey Jones' complaint of "too many notes."

Can you distinguish Wolfy from Salieri?
Via Wacky Neighbor

ah, mcsweeney's

Reasons Bloggers Hate the Mainstream MediaBy William Wolfe (11/4/05)
Comments From the Crowd Gathering Around the Body of Phidippides, Reporter of the Greek Victory Over the Persians at Marathon, Soon After He Gasped, "We Won," and DiedBy Brian Hubbard (10/28/05)
What I Like About YouBy James Muldowney (10/28/05)
Rejected Bond GirlsBy Rebecca Waits (10/28/05)
My Rejected Cooking Show IdeasBy Dan Kennedy (10/21/05)
Leonard Cohen's Seven Immutable Laws of BusinessBy Ken Krimstein (10/21/05)
Other Places Jimmy Buffett Wasted AwayBy Chris Steck (10/14/05)
Subjects of "Light Bulb" Jokes That Will Probably Lead to Boring Punch LinesBy Peter J. Woods (10/14/05)
Five Ill-Fated Store NamesBy V. Einstein (10/14/05)
The Names of the President and the Members of the Presidential Cabinet According to the Etymological Backgrounds of Their First and Last Names, and of Their Middle Names When AvailableBy Jørgen G. Cleemann (10/12/05)
If Yosemite Sam's Curses Were Considered Real Profanity and Were Dubbed Over for Television in the Same Clumsy, Unconvincing Manner as 1980s R-Rated MoviesBy Martin Bell (10/7/05)
Ways in Which the Disinterred Corpse of Silent-Film Actor Lon Chaney Would Be a Better Vice President Than Dick CheneyBy Ian Adams (10/7/05)
As Yet Unrecognized by Microsoft WindowsBy Adam Chapman (10/5/05)
Fruit-Drink Flavors That Never Took OffBy Ben Weinberg (10/5/05)
Things You Would Say If You Had a Time Machine and Lots of Financial ProblemsBy Lynette Cain (9/30/05)
State Songs, If They All Suggested the Apathy of Idaho's "Here We Have Idaho"By Craig Robertson (9/30/05)
Ed Harrelson, Teen-Driver's-Education InstructorBy Sean Carman (9/30/05)
7 Habits of Highly Successful PeopleBy Brendon Lloyd (9/23/05)
Stories About My PumaBy Meg Favreau (9/23/05)
Companies at the Vanguard of the New Era in Christian MarketingBy Ned Rust (9/23/05)
What Thoreau Is MissingBy Shannon Peach (9/16/05)
I Can Never Recall the Name of Brooklyn's New Hip BandBy Dan Kennedy (9/16/05)
Methods Other Than Song by Which One Can Be Killed SoftlyBy Jonathan Holley and Emily Lawton (9/16/05)
Modern Air-Guitar AlternativesBy Steve McKnight (9/9/05)
Excerpts From the "Band Members Wanted" Section of the New York Musicians' Exchange (Circa 1987)By John Dadey (9/9/05)
Poker Terminology I Feel I Could Get Away With Saying If I Ever Played a TournamentBy Andy Sutherland (9/9/05)
Things Hagrid the Half-Giant Would Say If He Served Jesus Instead of Harry PotterBy Hart Seely (9/6/05)
Not-So-Good Names for Murder MysteriesBy Kevin Thoreson (9/2/05)
Places You Might Find JesusBy Jessy Henderson (9/2/05)
Directors' Commentaries From My DVD CollectionBy John Mancini (9/2/05)
Totalitarian Institutions That Would Have Been More Fitting for George Orwell's 1984, Considering How That Year Turned OutBy Patrick Cassels (8/26/05)
Chapter Titles From My Creationist TextbookBy David Ng (8/26/05)
Klingon Fairy TalesBy Mike Richardson-Bryan (8/22/05)
Things Koala Bears Would SayBy Tim Weinmann (8/19/05)
Other Poll Questions That May One Day Appear on an Unnamed Internet News Website, Given Its Recently Asked Question "Have You Ever Been in an Accident Involving a Plane?" Following the Air France CrashBy Tracey Harrington and Meredith O'Donnell (8/19/05)
Poorly Selling T-ShirtsBy Josh Knisely (8/19/05)
Elements Waiting Patiently for Inclusion on the Periodic TableBy Scott Gold and Katie McHugh (8/17/05)
Ways One Could, in Theory, Fight the SeetherBy Stephen Walsh (8/17/05)
Nonverbal Cues in Bizarro's WorldBy Ted Sanchez (8/17/05)
Things My Brother Has That I Don'tBy Scott Evan Newcomb (8/12/05)
Ten Precepts From The Art of War That Never Made It Past Sun Tzu's EditorBy John Kearney (8/12/05)
Acts Prohibited by the U.S. House of Representatives' Proposed Flag-Burning AmendmentBy James Erwin (8/10/05)
Less-Threatening Islamist GroupsBy Chris Wilkinson (8/10/05)

it's beginning to feel a lot like ...


Exhibit a: The leaves are finally changing colors and dropping off the trees.
Exhibit b: My house was a bit chilly when I stepped out of the bathroom after showering this morning.
Exhibit c: I just ate half a turkey sandwich and a piece of pumpkin pie for lunch.
Exhibit d: I've had 4 cups of tea today, because it's a gloomy, rainy day outside. Pity that I'm spending it at work. As I suck down more Tazo Decaffeinated Chai Tea, I'm thinking that there are so many better ways I could be spending this day.

Finals countdown: 39 days to freedom.
Vacation countdown: 45 days until I leave on a jet plane.

embracing my geekdom

"To thine own self be true."
-William Shakespeare

"I yam what I yam."

I found out yesterday that I got an "A" in my first class in grad school. I was over the moon for a few reasons, namely:
  1. I didn't think I had a shot at that grade.
  2. I worked damn hard for that A.
  3. It's grad school for chrissakes. I did well and I'm proud of myself.
I texted a friend (he has a Ph.D., by the way) about it and his response was hilarious:
"Hey Happy, that's terrific. (nerd)
You should be proud. (geek)
I hope you are out celebrating. (Like I'm one to talk.)"

My response was something like:
"No such luck. I'm in my accounting class right now.
And yes, I am a geek.
But a chic geek. With serious geek cred."

It's true. I've never made an effort to hide my intelligence. When I was younger, I was pretty obnoxious about showing my peers how much smarter I (thought I) was than them. It didn't make me any friends, but at the time, my social skills sucked (I'm an only child) and I wasn't a fabulous athlete or the prettiest girl in the class. For that reason, my brain became my stock-in-trade.

Nowadays, my interpersonal skills are much improved, I'm a well-balanced individual, and I've been taken down several notches. It's a function of discovering that although I'm a reasonably intelligent woman, I'm not the smartest person I know. I can think of at least 20 people in my immediate social circle who are much smarter than me, and I think that's a good thing, because there's a great deal to be learned from people like that.

Most of all, I'm at peace with my inner geek because I've realized that smart is sexy no matter how you slice it.

mercredi, novembre 09, 2005


"New York's pretty cool — it's almost like another country."
-My friend Noah Hansen, responding to the news that I'll be going to New York instead of Peru this year.

beauty in ordinary things

One of the best tips I ever got for taking better pictures was to get closer to the subject.

In this case, Ben used his digital microscope to get an extreme close-up of my writing on a CD. I especially like the bubble surface imperfections. I also like seeing how the ink dried in a narrower path.

san diego deviant

As my friend Jason put it, "the proposition process is like trying to kill a fly with a sledgehammer."

Although I voted with the majority of Californians on almost every issue on yesterday's ballot, I'm completely out of step with my fellow San Diegans on parental consent for abortions, teacher tenure, union dues, and who should be mayor.

Thank goodness for the other wacko liberals in this state who helped defeat 73, 74, and 75.

Take a look at this map, which shows how California voted on proposition 73, which would have required parental notification for abortions.

Note: The use of red and blue here is problematic, as blue on this map really is a conservative vote.
San Diego County ReturnsCounty Returns Statewide County Status
   Propositions                      Yes Votes   Pct.   No Votes   Pct.
  73 Y    Minor's Pregnancy            345,494  54.9     284,339  45.1
Statewide 3,130,062 47.4 3,465,629 52.6 Map

  74 Y    Teacher Tenure               350,893  55.4     283,306  44.6
Statewide 2,987,010 44.9 3,662,932 55.1 Map
  75 Y    Public Union Dues            365,475  57.8     267,699  42.2
Statewide 3,092,495 46.5 3,551,011 53.5 Map

  76 N    Spending/Funding             302,758  47.9     328,152  52.1
Statewide 2,522,327 37.9 4,115,388 62.1 Map
  77 N    Redistricting                296,146  47.3     329,799  52.7
Statewide 2,673,530 40.5 3,920,487 59.5 Map
  78 N    Rx Drug Discounts            284,930  46.1     332,924  53.9
Statewide 2,719,999 41.5 3,821,957 58.5 Map
  79 N    Rx Drug Rebates              233,053  38.2     375,726  61.8
Statewide 2,523,803 38.9 3,950,763 61.1 Map
  80 N    Electric Regulation          215,963  36.0     383,007  64.0
Statewide 2,189,126 34.3 4,182,374 65.7 Map
      Y - Proposition is passing
N - Proposition is not passing

mardi, novembre 08, 2005


live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is. - mary anne radmacher

les émeutes

Here's today's French word for the day, courtesy of my friend Chris: les émeutes. It means "the riots."

how to vote like a wacko liberal (me)

The views expressed here are my own, but the cheeky issue summaries are (mostly) stolen from Hilstah's friend Ethan.

If you haven't already, get out and vote!
CA Democrats -- Source for the state issues
CA Greens -- Source for the state issues

IssueWacko liberal saysMeDemGreen
73No abortions for minors until 48 hours after parental notification.NoNoNo
74Arnold is pissed at the teachers, so he makes working as a teacher a less attractive career option (longer time until tenure, easier to fire teachers).NoNoNo
75Arnold is angry at the unions. He wants to make it harder for them to fund political issues. It'd be better if this rule was enforced on all organizations and corporations, why single out the unions? Oh right, 'cause the unions don't like Arnold, but the Corporations do.NoNoNo
76Arnold wants unilateral power to control the budget on school and community colleges. See above issue about how Arnold is mad at the teachers.NoNoNo
77Let retired judges using outdated census information make redistricting decisions, as opposed to the current more open and voted upon system.NoNoNo
78Prescription drugs discounted the way the large pharmicutical companies want them to be discounted. So basically a discount program without any teeth. Seems to be known as the "Business written" discount plan.NoNoNo
79Prescription drugs discounted in a more measured and regulated way. Sorta known as the "consumer written" discount plan. If this plan is created it would cost the state somewhere in the 5-12 million dollar range, depending how much the state wants to push the program.YesYesYes
80A re-regulation of the power/utility companies. The good is that things would be re-regulated, the bad is that the people who would be in charge of the regulation (CPUC) are oft-criticized by consumer groups.

The downside is that various renewable energy folks say (reasonably) that it will set an upper limit on renewable energy use just at a time when interest in renewable is beginning to boom. While reregulation seems to be a good thing, it seems the people who crafted it did not consult with the renewables people. This stuff is complicated and is yet another example of why ballot initiatives suck. On the whole, we will be better off if this goes down and something better gets proposed.
Via Hilstah

the maudlin politico

There's a special election today in California and my parents, bless their (conservative) hearts, are working the polls in the town where I grew up.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I'm an über liberal who's passionate about politics. I come by it honestly — my mother was working as a diplomat in Madrid when she and my father met. (She was the cultural attachée for the Paraguayan government, which at the time, was a junta under Alfredo Stroessner.) And my father's always been a role model of civic engagement. So you might say that politics are in my blood.

The poli sci geek in me still smiles when I think about the '5' I earned on the AP US Government & Politics exam in high school. It's no surprise that I majored in political science, history, and sociology as an undergrad. Or that I've worked the polls five times. I used to volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, helping would-be citizens practice for their US citizenship civics exams. I've phone banked for several candidates and issues. I'm a religious NPR listener, New York Times reader, and all-around political animal. I belong to the National Organization for Women and am a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. And if I still had cable, you can bet your ass that I'd be watching Jon Stewart or Bill Maher right now.

I'm currently reading Sarah Vowell's "The Partly Cloudy Patriot," an insightful gift from a friend. As I laugh my way through the pages, I'm realizing that I'm not the only one who grew up weirdly fascinated by all things political.

When I was a little girl, I remember being very excited to go to the polls with my father. (My mother was not a citizen; therefore, she couldn't vote.) My dad's polling place was in a neighbor's garage. A large American flag was posted on the door and Popi and I would quietly wait until it was his turn to step into the booth with his ballot book and vote.

My childhood was also filled with current events. Each night, my dad would turn on the evening news and read the newspaper. Over dinner, my father and mother would talk about politics and world events and when I was old enough, I joined the discussion.

In 1987, my dad asked my mother and I where we wanted to go on our summer vacation and I said "Washington D.C., Williamsburg, and Philadelphia." My mom wanted to go to France (it was the 200th anniversary of the revolution), but that would have to wait. After all, I was a twelve-year-old on a mission to see American history first-hand and it was the 200th anniversary of the constitutional convention. That passion continued in Mike Black's US history class and I won more than a few trivia and history challenges at Cope Junior High.

By the time I reached high school, I took AP US History from Tim Knapp and AP US Government & Politics from Mike Ware. I read Supreme Court decisions with passion and debated my classmates and teachers. By my senior year, I was a raging liberal and my parents were even more conservative than they had been to begin with. Sidebar: My father is GOP or die. My mom is a fascist. I say that because her family supported Franco in the Spanish Civil War. And she's spoken fondly of the dictator's draconian policies. I should ask her about Guernica sometime ...

Anyhow, there's a moment in "The Breakfast Club" where the Anthony Michael Hall nerd character is being ridiculed for his really crappy fake ID. When asked why he has it, he says "so I can vote." Although I never got the fake ID, I can honestly say that I related to that sentiment.

I went away to college when I was seventeen. That year, I fell in love with Bill Clinton's ideas and the prospect that he and Al Gore might actually unseat George H. W. Bush and be the first Democrats in office in what seemed like forever. I got into interesting arguments with Reza Naima, who lived upstairs in my dorm and was a hardcore Libertarian and fellow U2 fan. I debated with my father, who planned to vote the party line, and with my mother, who was so disgusted with Bush that she decided to phone bank for Perot, even though she wasn't a US citizen. (Her frustration at not being able to cast her vote was what made her finally trade in her green card and become a US citizen. That, and the fact that she's always recoiled at the 'Resident Alien' label. I can't say that I blame her.)

The first time I got to vote, I was so proud that I actually got a bit dewy-eyed at the polls. I also distinctly remember a photograph on the front page of the Los Angeles Times my sophomore year, showing a snaking line of people queued up at sunset to vote in the first free elections in South Africa. The caption included a detail about how most of them had gotten in line well before sunrise. Later that year, I read about SNCC volunteers during Freedom Summer and learned the horrible fates of Emmitt Till, Michael Schwerner, James Cheney, and Andrew Goodman. Then, a few years after graduation, I recoiled in shock when I learned the inhumane way that Matthew Shepard spent the last hours of his life. Just a few months ago, I was introduced to the story of Alice Paul and the other Iron-Jawed Angels.

And that's why I'm headed to the polls today and exercising my right to vote, in spite of New York Times articles that tell me voting is a purely symbolic act. I'll do my best to keep from getting tears in my eyes when I sign the registrar's roster for my precinct. The truth is I'm secretly glad to be maudlin about it. I revel in goosebumps and feeling my heart in my throat as I step into the voting booth.