lundi, décembre 26, 2005

christmas in newark

It was quite an adventure getting to New York. Here's what I mean:
  1. I reserved parking at 105 parking and pre-paid for the first night. When I pulled up to the lot three hours before my flight, the lot was closed, with a "full" sign in the driveway and no visible attendant. I was annoyed, but after 20 quasi-panic-striken minutes, I found parking with the good people at Wally Parker.
  2. I got to LAX with plenty of time to spare, was flagged for a crazy security check that included a pat-down from a wisecracking TSA employee, them emptying all my carry-on items, and measuring my crochet hooks and scissors. (I got to keep everything.)
  3. I called Ben, who couldn't stop laughing at the fact that I was still over two hours early for a domestic flight, despite the earlier misadventures that evening.
  4. I was called to the desk, wondering if I was about to be bumped and got a pleasant surprise: A free upgrade to business class.
  5. The flight was uneventful, other than the weird turbulence that can only be described as rollercoaster-like for the last hour.
  6. As we circled JFK for landing, we were told that fog and a problem on the ground meant that we'd be diverted to Newark. I called Ben and gave him the news.
  7. 20 minutes after landing at Newark, I was informed that I couldn't get off, as my luggage was checked. I called Ben and told him to sit tight.
  8. 90 minutes later, I landed at JFK two hours after the originally scheduled landing time, collected my things, and wished Ben a Merry Christmas.
The rest of the day was great, and included gifts at Penny's house and dinner with the Bybees.

vendredi, décembre 23, 2005

touching me, touching you

Geraghty and I both found this story on NPR's Web site after seeing Neil. I suppose I'm the only one that finds it ironic that a song by a "New York City born and raised" pop star is played during the eighth inning of every Sox home game.

The Mystery of 'Sweet Caroline' and the Sox
Morning Edition, September 30, 2005 · As a stadium anthem, it's not exactly "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Susan Orlean visits Boston's Fenway Park to unlock the secret connection between the Red Sox, their loyal fans and singer Neil Diamond's 1969 hit.

jeudi, décembre 22, 2005

pack up the babies and grab the old ladies

Holly Holy Sweet Caroline (bomp, bomp, bomp), good times never seemed so good. (So good! So good!)

Geraghty and I (along with 12,000 other people) rocked out with Neil Diamond and his 14-piece band at the Sports Arena tonight. I have to say that after 40 years, the man's still got it. He sang and spoke for two hours straight.

In spite of one friend who was openly derisive of my choice to see Neil in concert (you know who you are), I'm thrilled I went. In short, Neil rocks and is one talented (and totally effing cool) mofo. He even has a MySpace account. But I digress ... I hope to see him again (and take my dad with me next time).

The mixed crowd reminded me of the audience at the 2004 Simon and Garfunkel show. There was roughly the same proportion of older folks (30%), middle-aged people (40%), and a 20- and 30-somethings (25%). There were also some teenagers (5%) seeing the show, presumably with their parents. All 12,000 of us clapped our hands and sang together, like we were at Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show. Neil actually scored major points with me during that song, when he busted out the preacher persona and changed the lyrics to include "gay and straight" in his sermon on tolerance.

He also impressed me by being self-deprecating and humorous about his career, saying that commercial success meant eating three square meals a day and writing sappy songs while he worked on "the songs that mattered." He paid homage to his New York City, born and raised roots throughout the night; but during one deliciously schmaltzy juncture, I said "he's not New York anymore" to Geraghty. She (still being very New York) agreed completely and said "he's lived on the West Coast for too long."

The surreal Neil moment: To my left, the old woman two seats away pumping her fist in the air and shouting we're coming to America while in front of me, four scantily-clad T&A twenty-something women shouted the same thing, thrusting their hips from side to side like so many bump, bump, bumping go-go dancers on speed. Behind me, a pack of Australians in their late thirties also belted out the lyrics. All this transpired while the video screens flashed black and white newsreel images of immigrants at Ellis Island. It was so odd that Geraghty commented that she hoped everyone in the crowd pumping their fists actually understood the meaning behind what they were singing along to ...

Play Me, Neil. You are the sun, I am the moon, you are the words, I am the tune.

For those of you who missed tonight's unforgettable show, Super Diamond's playing the Belly Up on January 14!

mercredi, décembre 21, 2005

calling all wilco fans

Jeff Tweedy's playing several dates on the West Coast.

Vancouver: Jan. 31
Seattle: Feb. 2
Portland: Feb. 3
San Francisco: Feb. 8-9
San Diego (Spreckles Theatre): Feb. 11
Los Angeles: Feb. 12-13


"I've come to the conclusion that boys are stupid."
-Tommy Ishida, my (female) friend and colleague, on dating and relationships

annus mirabilis

2005 was the hundreth anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year."

He recalled 1905 as the year when "a storm broke loose in my mind." That year, he proved the existence of atoms, devised the theory of relativity, and laid the foundation for quantum physics.

I admire his sense of humor and the nice way in which he made the most complicated things relevant to a lay audience. I especially love these quotes:
  • "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
  • "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning."
  • "Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one."
  • "It's not that I'm so smart , it's just that I stay with problems longer."
  • "When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity."

mon bel amie

My fellow Francophile Diana sent me the most wonderful care package.

It contained several thoughtful gifts, including:
The score for Amélie
A big box of St. Louis sugar lumps
A lovely Mariages Frères loose tea
"Paris to the Moon"
A restaurant guide for Paris.

In all, a fantastique finals week surprise.

Merci beaucoup et Joyeux Noël à toi.

today's highs

This morning's NPR story on the New York transit strike grabbed my attention for a few reasons. I'm hopeful that it will be resolved soon because it's a rotten situation for everyone involved. And because I'll be there in four days.

Listening to the stories of New Yorkers walking 120+ blocks to work in "biting wind" and "bitter cold" left me slightly more grateful about my climate.

I may live in a cultural wasteland, but there is something to be said for wearing short sleeves and a light cardigan just a few days before Christmas. The downside: it has been so warm lately that Casey refuses to spoon with me at night.
Thanks for the map, Aaron.

mardi, décembre 20, 2005

la façade

Yesterday, someone commented that I "looked well-rested and relaxed" after our final exam. I'm not sure what kind of crack she was smoking, but I asked her to give me some, too.

Still thinking about it on the way home, I took this picture in my rearview mirror while waiting at a red light.


And so it ends with a whimper instead of a bang.

The final exam left most of us somewhere between deflated and irate. I came away knowing that I'd done my best, and that I won't be pursuing a career in quantitative economics. I felt better about my (qualitative) econ knowledge when I got my term paper back and saw that I'd earned a perfect score.

Afterwards, the MBA crew headed to chez Allison, got our collective drink on, and learned a choice Turkish idiom from Tuba.

For now, I'm free at last. Free to spoil my dear sweet Casey. Free to take care of last-minute Christmas shopping. Free to wash a mountain of laundry. Free to write my Christmas cards. Free to read a book for the sheer pleasure of it. Free to go to a concert. Free to leave town for my first vacation in 18 months. Free to daydream about the Fairytale of New York and a magical Christmas to come.

And free to slowly release the tension and dread that I've carried in my body and my psyche for the past few weeks. I yearn for sweet relief.

lundi, décembre 19, 2005

'tis the season to be scared of santa

My friend Jason just shared photos of his little boys with Santa. Kellen and Dillon are both smiling in the pictures.

Seeing the photos reminds me of a certain polaroid starring Santa and myself. My face is puffy and screwed up into a fearful smile. I must've been crying at first, but scared of my mother's wrath if the Kodak moment had been ruined.

It appears that I'm not alone. Check out the Scared of Santa gallery.

prisoners killing me softly

One of my econ classmates just slayed me with this note:

I was thinking, what if we all decided to do fairly poorly on the test. then I thought, yeah but someone wouldn't do it, and then I thought, that's a prisoner's dilemna! how appropriate. I think I might chart that out, hmmm, what would be the dominant strategy?
I'm thinking that I should heed another friend's advice re: my dominant strategy.
I’m not usually into violent imagery, but I think you should start channeling violent thoughts into this Econ test.

Be not merciful.

Kill it.

Eviscerate it. Slowly.

Make it suffer for all the joy it has taken out of your life.

Make its last moments on this earth filled with excruciating pain, pain so torturous that it writhes under your razor sharp #2 pencil.

Leave it in agony, worse than the agony known to the Sabine women, worse than the agony known to John Holwell in Calcutta, worse even than the agony of those forced to sit through the musical “Rent”…

what a year

Via Sandra

dimanche, décembre 18, 2005

in the name of love

"For being shrewd about doing good, for rewiring politics and re-engineering justice, for making mercy smarter and hope strategic and then daring the rest of us to follow, Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono are TIME Magazine's Persons of the Year."

Apparently, Bono can save the world.

canine dancesport: a primer

A good friend sent me this NY Times article on Canine Freestyle.

I was simultaneously flattered and horrified that he thought of me when he saw the article.

Nonetheless, I read beyond the (admittedly hilarious) lead, and thought it appropriate to report the following pertinent facts:

1. Blame Canada.
The sport, if one can refer to it as such, began in Canada in the 1980s.
2. Blame New York.
Or more appropriately, one Patie Ventre, a New Yorker who started the World Canine Freestyle Organization from Brooklyn in 1999.
3. Freestyle is "a middle-aged-women-in-dog-sports phenomenon."
7,500 United States dog freestylers, the overwhelming majority of whom are middle-aged women, can be found in clusters all over the country. A minority enter competitions, either vying on video or in national live events.
4. It's not swimming.
Some are advocating the label "K-9 dance sport" instead.
5. There's no such thing as couple dancing in dog dancing.
Hands and paws are not usually clasped. The dogs follow verbal or hand commands to twirl and circle, weave in and out of the handler's legs to form figure eights, do side steps and kicks or jumps on hind legs. The dirty, if open, secret is that dancing dogs are an illusion: the music is chosen to fit a dog's gait, or the spring in its step, or its best tricks, not the other way around.
6. There are online support groups.
And there are also plans to begin the (online) International Canine Freestyle College by early 2006.
7. The dog determines the song.
Dogs and their handlers walk in a circle, while measuring the dog's natural rhythm by beats per minute. The handlers then choose the music from a book that lists songs by tempo.
8. It provides focus for canine delinquents.
Kathy Morris, co-owner of Jump Start, said that freestyle complements other dog activities and can work wonders for some dogs that regularly misbehave.
9. Costumes are optional.
To maintain decorum, freestyle competitions keep the costuming of the animals to a minimum, though the handler can get away with dressing up like Charlie Chaplin for theatrical effect.
10. New steps! New steps!
The Canine Freestyle Federation and the Musical Dog Sport Association have philosophical differences over freestyle moves and issues like attire and how much dancing the humans should do.

The article is a great read. (I've included it below and highlighted my favorite bits.)

Some final thoughts ...
A. Reason 459 for my divorce: My ex would sometimes clasp Casey's paws and 'dance' until Casey, snorting and indignant, freed himself and ran to me.
B. See the canines in action at or
C. Get support at
D. I wonder if these ladies have ever choreographed a routine to "Atomic Dog."
Fetch! Roll Over! Heel! Now, Let's Dance!
GRETCHEN MAVROVOUNIOTIS considered the theme songs from "Ghostbusters" and "Footloose" before settling on "Can't Stop the Music" by the Village People. The disco beat, she said, is the best for her dance partner, since it best shows off his forward weave and counterclockwise turns.

"What I like," she said, "is fast-paced music to keep up his enthusiasm, so he doesn't get bored and just plod along. I also look for music where you have transitions, where you can put in some of the flashier moves, like back up, turn around and back through my legs."

Ms. Mavrovouniotis, you see, dances with her dog. In the world of canine sports and shows, what is formally known as freestyle dancing does not rise to the level of performance usually sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, which regards freestyle as entertainment.

"A lot of our performance events," said Daisy Okas, a spokeswoman for the club, "are geared to what the dog was originally bred to do." That would be things like herding and hunting, not dancing to disco music in a sparkly collar.

But the canine freestyle movement rocks on, despite doubters and deriders, and the fact that the average dog owner may never have heard of it. Originally developed in Canada in the 1980's, and then transplanted to the United States in the 1990's, freestyle, inspired by musical equine dressage, occupies only a small niche in the world of dog activities: about 7,500 dog owners in the United States who compete, take classes for fun or perform in demonstration and charity events, estimated Patie Ventre, who started the World Canine Freestyle Organization, from Brooklyn in 1999.

Today dog freestylers, the overwhelming majority of whom are middle-aged women, can be found in clusters all over the country, organizing clubs with dozens of members or just a handful, to learn moves from one another. Some take classes or invite experts from other cities for workshops and seminars. They follow up by watching training videos. A minority enter competitions, which are held each year, either vying on video or in national live events held across the country.

Ms. Ventre, whose group stages international freestyle competitions patterned after the judging and scoring of figure skating, so believes in the athletic skills required by freestyle that she envisions it, someday, as an Olympic sport.

"The teams can capture you exactly like Torvill and Dean," she said, referring to the British ice dancing pair and Olympic gold medalists Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. "That's the goal."

But while Ms. Ventre, 62, and Dancer, her border collie, may bring tears to the eyes of the audience with their waltz rendition of "Silent Night," (a video can be viewed at, there's no such thing as couple dancing in dog dancing; hands and paws are not usually clasped.

Instead the dogs follow verbal or hand commands to twirl and circle, weave in and out of the handler's legs to form figure eights, do side steps and kicks or jumps on hind legs. They also sometimes lose interest and wander off to sniff around. (A no-no in competition, just like excessive barking.)

The dirty, if open, secret is that dancing dogs are an illusion: the music is chosen to fit a dog's gait, or the spring in its step, or its best tricks, not the other way around. But when music and choreography are well matched, fans say, watching the connection between dog and person, and that final bow or dramatic leap into the handler's arms, can be an emotional experience.

The driving force behind freestyle, of course, is the dancing dog owner, a human breed capable of devoting huge amounts of hours, and kibble, to perfecting a synchronized step, and of explaining this pastime with a straight face.

"It's more like modern dance than ballroom dancing," said Ms. Mavrovouniotis, 43. "It's interpretative dance to music."

Ms. Mavrovouniotis, an engineer, said she had never danced much herself before she sampled a freestyle class about two years ago at the dog school where her two mixed-breed dogs, Apollon and Poseidon, took classes in manners and agility. She noticed that the freestyle seemed to suit them; Apollon appeared to relax around other dogs and Poseidon found an alternative to fetching, his first love.

Soon she was participating in video competitions and earning points for titles in the categories based on technical merit and artistic impression. Now she competes only with Poseidon because Apollon has a bad back.

The pair's next test is a video competition whose deadline is Dec. 31, sponsored by the World Canine Freestyle Organization, which is the largest group, with 1,000 members in the United States and 15 other countries. After spending about two months training Poseidon on his routine at her Irvine home in 15-minute daily increments, she performed for the video this week wearing a helmet, cargo pants and a reflective vest in honor, she said, of the construction worker member of the Village People.

Many freestyle adherents, however, say they are less interested in competing than in having a good time and bonding with their pets.

Donna Johnson, 55, said freestyle seemed like a calling for Huxley, her 1½-year-old golden retriever.

"Being a golden retriever, he's a showoff," Ms. Johnson said. "We tried agility, but he wasn't paying attention."

But in barely six weeks of freestyle classes, she said, Huxley has learned to focus on her and started work on weaving in and out of her legs, and doing spins and lateral moves, with a clicker as an aid and bits of liver as the incentive.

"To try to get a dog to go sideways is something else," Ms. Johnson said.

Ms. Johnson, who lives in Anaheim with her husband, Michael, said Huxley, who is rehearsing to the jazzy beat of "A Taste of Honey," as recorded by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, seems to enjoy himself. "His tail is up and wagging," she said.

But there's more.

"There's like a spiritual connection between the dog and the owner," she said. "The dog is looking for you for the tiniest little moves."

But Ms. Johnson readily admits handlers have more fun than their dogs. Freestyle, she noted, is "a middle-aged-women-in-dog-sports phenomenon," many of them empty nesters like herself.

There was indeed quite a bit of laughter and cheering at a recent freestyle class on the grass of Jump Start Dog Sports, a dog school in Orange County where both Ms. Johnson and Ms. Mavrovouniotis train their dogs. Nine women and a sole male handler took turns going around signposts as their dogs performed heel work and, later, their solo routines. Patty Wiedeman, the instructor, kept busy shouting positive reinforcement while changing discs on a portable CD player.

To pick out the right song, the teams have walked around in a circle and measured their dogs' natural rhythm by beats per minute. The handlers then choose the music from a book that lists songs by tempo.

Poseidon impressed everyone by weaving backward.

"Very nice!" one student shouted to Ms. Mavrovouniotis. "That was great. You're doing very well with him."

Huxley, on the other hand, was in no dancing mood. He ignored the infectious beat of "Funkytown" to pull on Ms. Johnson's sleeve and at one point jumped up to playfully tug at her chest.

"All right, put him in his crate," Ms. Wiedeman instructed. "He can come out later."

Kathy Morris, co-owner of Jump Start, said that freestyle complements other dog activities and can work wonders for some dogs that regularly misbehave. "They learn to focus on their owners instead of having their own agenda," Ms. Morris said. "Because of the quick moves they learn dexterity. And you can't get mad at your dog doing this."

Tippy Sheppard, the owner of Buvi, a black puli with a class schedule more crowded than that of an overachieving seventh grader, confirmed that her overly independent dog has been tamed by his circles and turns to Bette Midler's recording of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

"The dogs have much more opportunity to express themselves in freestyle than in any of the other things I've been involved in," said Ms. Sheppard, 62, a businesswoman who is married with two grown daughters.

To maintain decorum, freestyle competitions keep the costuming of the animals to a minimum, though the handler can get away with dressing up like Charlie Chaplin for theatrical effect. And among the main organizations, including the Canine Freestyle Federation and the Musical Dog Sport Association, there are philosophical differences over freestyle moves and issues like attire and how much dancing the humans should do.

"We want the dog to be the star," said Ann Priddy, a freestyle teacher in Richmond, Va., and the vice president of the Musical Dog Sport Association, which formed this year.

The efforts to define canine freestyle as it grows also include a possible name change.

"People think it's swimming," Loren Jensen Carter, founder of a two-year-old regional group in Arizona called Sonoran Canine Freestylers, said of the name "freestyle." She is among those advocating "K-9 dance sport" instead.

But Ms. Jensen Carter said that all the groups support one another in trying to advance their art form. Last April her group, with about 40 members, started online classes in choreography, music editing and other freestyle topics on its Yahoo site. She said there are plans now to begin the International Canine Freestyle College online by early 2006.

Ms. Okas, of the American Kennel Club, said even the traditionalists at the organization have allowed freestyle to warm up crowds before best-in-show performances.

"It's fun to watch," she said.

Ms. Okas said there is no evidence that the trend is about to take over the dog world. But she added: "People love their dogs nowadays. They're obsessed. You never know what's going to catch on."
Via Ben


11-year old Sam (Thomas Sangster) to his stepfather, Daniel (Liam Neeson) in "Love Actually:"

"Let's go get the shit kicked out of us by love."
-Richard Curtis, writer and director

samedi, décembre 17, 2005

patriot act provisions rejected

Christmas came early this year: the Senate refused to renew several portions of the Patriot Act on Friday.
Senate rejects reauthorization of Patriot Act
Failure of vote to pre-empt filibuster is major defeat for administration
Updated: 8:06 p.m. ET Dec. 16, 2005
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the nation’s top anti-terror law as infringing too much on Americans’ privacy, dealing a major defeat to President Bush and Republican leaders.

In a crucial vote early Friday, the bill’s Senate supporters were not able to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and their allies. The final vote was 52-47.

Bush, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and GOP congressional leaders had lobbied fiercely to make most of the 16 expiring Patriot Act provisions permanent, and add new safeguards and expiration dates to the two most controversial parts: roving wiretaps and secret warrants for books, records and other items from businesses, hospitals and organizations such as libraries.

vendredi, décembre 16, 2005

snarkiness, defined

snarky (adjective)
1. A witty mannerism, personality, or behavior that is a combination of sarcasm and cynicism. Usually accepted as a complimentary term. Snark is sometimes mistaken for a snotty or arrogant attitude.

2. Any language that contains quips or comments containing sarcastic or satirical witticisms intended as blunt irony. Usually delivered in a manner that is somewhat abrupt and out of context and intended to stun and amuse. Origin: Snark="snide remark".

3. Critical in a curmudgeonly sort of way.
First recorded in 1906. It is from dialectal British snark, meaning 'to nag, find fault with', which is probably the same word as snark, snork, meaning 'to snort, snore'. (The likely connection is the derisive snorting sound of someone who is always finding fault.) Most dictionaries label snarky as "Chiefly British Slang." But for the last five or more years, it has become increasingly common in American publications, maybe ones infiltrated by British or Canadian writers and journalists.
Inspired by B


It's the mother of all things scary, awful, and obscene; the trifecta of four-letter words. It's the evil econ exam.

Thankfully, it's not until next Monday night. And, as one friend reminded me, who really asks what your grades were in graduate school, anyway?

jeudi, décembre 15, 2005


"I still speed, but I'm not the fastest guy on the road anymore."
-My friend Aaron, relating why he doesn't get speeding tickets like he used to

mercredi, décembre 14, 2005

curb your male atavistic desires

Moby's no stranger to controversy. This time, he's outraged at Eminem over misogynistic lyrics.

The techno musician made headlines a few years back when he accused the rapper of promoting homophobia with his songs. Now, Moby is telling Eminem and anyone who promotes his "misogynistic" music: "you have blood on your hands."

Moby’s outrage stems largely from a case in which an Eminem fan and impersonator recently was convicted of murdering a woman and stuffing her in a suitcase. The man had just finished a karaoke performance singing Eminem’s music. In his video, "Stan," Eminem murders a woman he put in the trunk of a car.

"If a musician made a record wherein he talked about killing blacks and Jews would he get covered in the press and played on radio and MTV? If the answer is 'no' (as it should be), then why is radio and MTV filled with music that has lyrics about killing and brutalizing women and gays?" Moby asks on his Web site. "Any employee of a record company or journalist or radio programmer or MTV employee who has promoted and celebrated misogynistic or homophobic music should be ashamed. You have blood on your hands, and you should be deeply, deeply troubled at the culture that you’ve helped to create."

Regarding the murder case, Eminem has joked that he’s "completely innocent. I should be cleared of all charges" and has said that the "hype" surrounding the case should be good for his career.

11 days 'til christmas

So much for the dead of winter ... the orchid trees (Bauhinia purpurea) are still blooming.

As seen while walking to my office this morning.

i like viggo

Turns out that in addition to being an actor and a photographer, Viggo Mortensen's a fellow wacko liberal:

Viggo Mortensen blasts President Bush
“I’m not anti-Bush; I’m anti-Bush behavior,” Mortensen told Progressive magazine. “In other words, I’m against cheating, greed, cruelty, racism, imperialism, religious fundamentalism, treason, and the seemingly limitless capacity for hypocrisy shown by Bush and his administration.”

Mortensen also blasted the administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and discussed why he supported anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who has protested the war in Iraq since her son was killed there. “Cindy Sheehan and how badly Katrina was bungled are two shots to the heart,” he said. “I hope the beast does fall down soon."

mardi, décembre 13, 2005

commitment, italian style

I have a co-worker who lived in Italy for several years. When I asked how he was doing today, he responded by teaching me a fun phrase:

"Stabo abbastanza bene."
It's the subjuctive for "I'm okay," but literally translates to "I might/ could be somewhat well."

He added that this phrase is typically Italian — they always like to leave their options open.

bono and "senator no"

Bono dines with Jesse Helms
Rocker, senator discuss fighting AIDS in Africa

Bono and former North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms share a greeting at a pre-concert meal at the new Charlotte Bobcats Arena in Charlotte, N.C., before U2 played to a crowd of 17,000 Monday night. Since they were introduced several years ago, the archconservative Republican known as "Senator No" and Bono have become close allies in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Helms, who is 84 and suffers from a number of serious health problems, arrived backstage before the show and was joined by Bono for a casual meal. On the menu: grilled chicken, roast beef and salmon.

“It was nothing fancy,” Dodd said. “They ate in the cafeteria with the roadies and the rest of the crew.”

The two men talked for a few minutes about their work and what they have been able to accomplish and what still needs to be done, Dodd said.

Bono briefed the senator on DATA — or Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa — a nonprofit organization he helped found in 2002 with other activists to increase awareness of the crises in Africa.

Helms did not stay for the concert.

words I adore

I like the 'mouth feel' of many of these words. Some are obnoxiously fun to say. Others are here because I dig their meaning. And some ... some I like just because.

aged (a-jed)
bête noire
enfant terrible
fancy (as a verb)
fifth column
googly moogly
jones (as a verb)

yellow (cowardly)

lundi, décembre 12, 2005

captain faig's a wanker, right?

Well, not really. It's a pneumonic device that I use to keep the order of accounts (CAAPIIINFAIG AWUNCR RII) straight in my head when writing up a consolidation. It should come in handy later today, as I will be taking my accounting final tonight.

Oh, and clouds will drop rain in buckets maybe. CWDRIBM.

Then there's one classmate's clever way to remember how to eliminate excess retained earnings in a consolidation: RE are retarded and invest-inc is a whore (it gets done twice). Don't ask, you really don't want to know. It's quite a snoozer.

Accounting isn't sexy, but the words we use to remember what goes where are innocently filthy. They're also more fun than the pneumonic devices of my childhood: FOIL (math) and Elvis' Guitar Broke Down Friday (music).

huzzah!!!!!! hooray!!!!!! yippee!!!!!!

I just got some fantastic news from my dad.

He doesn't have skin cancer.

dimanche, décembre 11, 2005

in the spirit of thomas jefferson

While researching the EEP (evil econ paper), I came across Thomas, a search engine on legislative information from the Library of Congress.

samedi, décembre 10, 2005

taunted by my climate

Sunshine can be a curse.

It's gorgeous outside, but I'm stuck indoors writing this awful econ paper. I'm basking in the glow of my computer monitor in a t-shirt and shorts, feeling more than a bit mocked by the weather.

When Allison called to check in, we commiserated on our (lack of) progress so far. Then, we sang the following song:
"Oh, the weather outside is delightful
And the paper writing's frightful.
Since we've got no place to go ...
Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain."

Amen, sister.

vendredi, décembre 09, 2005

above us only sky

Several years ago, Liverpool renamed its airport for John Lennon. I love their motto.
Via Tess

have parka, will travel

It's only 16 days until I'm there. No telling on whether I'll be shovelling the stuff, though.

A man shovels a sidewalk this morning's snow storm, on the East side of Manhattan

Fast-Moving Winter Storm Turns Northeast White
A "vigorous" winter storm dumped fat, wet snowflakes throughout parts of the Northeast during the early morning commute, but the storm moved quickly out of the New York City region, giving way to sunshine, while New England continued to see snowy conditions in the afternoon.

Cars skidded into snow banks that formed quickly along major highways in the New York area, while others crawled along. Many school districts canceled classes for the day for the first real snow storm of the season for some parts of the Northeast. Airlines were reporting some delays on flights in and out of New York, Chicago and Boston, and advised passengers to check on their flights before heading to the airport.

The National Weather Service said the "vigorous but progressive winter storm" came in from the eastern Great Lakes, raking the Ohio Valley and western Pennsylvania with snow early this morning. It was expected to merge with another one off the Virginia coast later in the day.

Meteorologists said the region would see a total of 5 to 7 inches of snow for the day, less to the east than to the west. On Long Island, for instance, the snow turned to rain early this morning.

35 things you probably already knew about me

As I've received this from a few friends this week, I'm surfacing from writing the evil econ research paper for long enough to post this.

1. What time did you get up this morning?
Too early: o' dark hundred. (6 a.m.)
2. Diamonds or pearls?
Both, in spite of my friend Alexander's comment about pearls being congealed oyster mucous.
3. What was the last movie you watched?
4. What is your favorite TV show?
Drama: Six Feet Under is the best-written TV series I've ever seen.
Comedy: The Daily Show. Jon Stewart is one clever mofo.
Nowadays, I'm Netflixing both, because I don't have cable.
5. What do you have for breakfast?
Most days, I'll eat a CLIF bar, a piece of fruit, and tea (winter) or water (the rest of the year).
6. What is your favorite color?
Forest green/ British Racing Green
7. What is your favorite food?
Sweet: A fresh fruit tart in a buttery shell with the right custard. Or Susan A.'s Carrot Cake.
Savory: Thai, Italian, French, Indian, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese. Most anything that includes garlic and is well seasoned, but not too hot. (I'm not a spice girl and "feel the burn" isn't part of my food vocabulary. The bottom line: if a food is hot enough to make my ears sweat, it's just not worth eating.)
8. What foods do you dislike?
Avocado (just think — it means more for the rest of you)
Most mushrooms
Some fish/ seafood
9. What is your favorite chip flavor?
10. What is in your CD player right now?
Home (desktop) computer: Frou Frou "Details"
Work (desktop) computer: Paul Simon "Negotiations and Love Songs"
Laptop: Wilco "Summerteeth"
Car CD player: Ani DiFranco
11. What kind of car do you drive?
A dark green 2002 Toyota Camry
12. Favorite sandwich?
Depends on my mood and the season. Some faves:
Caprese salad on a baguette. (Fresh tomatoes from the farmer's market, with buffala mozarella, basil, olive oil, a touch of balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.)
Croque madame (ham, chevre, and an egg on gruyere-encrusted toast)
Tuna and cheddar with veggies on fresh squaw bread.
13. What characteristic do you despise?
In myself: Being overly judgemental.
In others: One of my dealbreakers is anyone who is inconsiderate (people who are rude to servers, smokers who light up in enclosed spaces, etc.)
14. Favorite item of clothing?
Anything soft. I'm very tactile and an admitted "soft junkie." I have some velour pants that are great. And a few yoga tank tops that just feel good against my skin.
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
Right now? Peru.
16. What color is your bathroom?
Zone 6 grey with a touch of blue.
17. Favorite brand of clothing?
Brand? Who cares? I pick things that look nice, feel good, hug my curves, and will hold up to how rough I am on clothes. Having said that, I've noticed that I buy a lot of jones new york at thrift stores. Not because of the label, but because I like the clothes. And "iron" is a four-letter word. Eff that.
18. Where would you retire?
Abroad. Ideally, Europe.
19. Favorite time of the day?
When I'm hungry, mealtime. When I'm sleepy, bedtime/ naptime.
20. What was your most memorable birthday?
30 was good. I threw a party / open house in my new condo four days after closing. 38 of you showed up between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
21. Where were you born?
Portsmouth Naval Hospital (Portsmouth, Virginia). But I was made in New York City or Madrid (I never asked my parents where, exactly, I was conceived).
22. Favorite sport to watch?
Underwater snail wrestling, Tivo'ed to avoid those pesky commercials.
23. Who do you least expect to send this back to you?
No idea.
24. Person you expect to send it back first?
Surprise me.
25. What fabric detergent do you use?
Method. It's an environmentally responsible company.
26. Coke or Pepsi?
27. Are you a morning person or night owl?
I'm best between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. But my circadian rhythm usually can be reset easily, so long as I get enough sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepppppppp.
28. What is your shoe size?
9ish (depends on the type of shoe).
29. Do you have any pets?
My geriatric (but spry) golden retriever, Casey. He has me very well trained.
30. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with your family & friends?
Ummm, no. Move along now, there's nothing to see here.
Everyone already knows my beeswax. It's on my blog.
31. What did you want to be when you were little?
A doctor. Elizabeth Blackwell was my hero. So were Pippi Longstocking and Anne of Green Gables.
32. Favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving: Food, friends, and four-day weekends rock!
33. Do you consider yourself political?
Why, am I being monitored? Hello?
I'm a liberal wacko.
34. Are you religious?
About my politics, but not about god or a higher power. As one friend puts it, he's a fundamentalist agnostic. It's an apt description of my own worldview, too.
35. What is the latest book you have read?
For pleasure: Sarah Vowell's "The Partly Cloudy Patriot"
For school: Managerial Economics

jeudi, décembre 08, 2005

art, truth & politics

I heard this bit of Harold Pinter's Nobel prize acceptance speech on NPR yesterday.

"The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them," Mr. Pinter said. "You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."
Part of me cheered and part of me winced as I listened, because although he's absolutely right in condemning the United States for our country's misguided foreign policy efforts of late, it remains a fact that many Americans don't support what is essentially one man's bizarre mission to wage war in Iraq.

Pinter's points, that America's foreign policy since World War II has been arrogant and that language is being used to obscure the truth, are irrefutable.
But my contention here is that the US crimes in the same period have only been superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged, let alone recognised as crimes at all. I believe this must be addressed and that the truth has considerable bearing on where the world stands now. Although constrained, to a certain extent, by the existence of the Soviet Union, the United States' actions throughout the world made it clear that it had concluded it had carte blanche to do what it liked.

Direct invasion of a sovereign state has never in fact been America's favoured method. In the main, it has preferred what it has described as 'low intensity conflict'. Low intensity conflict means that thousands of people die but slower than if you dropped a bomb on them in one fell swoop. It means that you infect the heart of the country, that you establish a malignant growth and watch the gangrene bloom. When the populace has been subdued – or beaten to death – the same thing – and your own friends, the military and the great corporations, sit comfortably in power, you go before the camera and say that democracy has prevailed. This was a commonplace in US foreign policy in the years to which I refer.

The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.

Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self love. It's a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, 'the American people', as in the sentence, 'I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.'

It's a scintillating stratagem. Language is actually employed to keep thought at bay. The words 'the American people' provide a truly voluptuous cushion of reassurance. You don't need to think. Just lie back on the cushion. The cushion may be suffocating your intelligence and your critical faculties but it's very comfortable. This does not apply of course to the 40 million people living below the poverty line and the 2 million men and women imprisoned in the vast gulag of prisons, which extends across the US.

The United States no longer bothers about low intensity conflict. It no longer sees any point in being reticent or even devious. It puts its cards on the table without fear or favour. It quite simply doesn't give a damn about the United Nations, international law or critical dissent, which it regards as impotent and irrelevant.
Having just read the speech, I have to say that the reporting on it fails to communicate the nuanced nature of his rant. In this sense, I feel like what has been reported doesn't acknowledge one of his points — the many (unorganized) Americans who are anything but complacent about the lies and misinformation put out by our current administration.

Not all of us are drinking the kool-aid. And thankfully, the latest opinion polls show that the majority of Americans have quit grazing at propaganda trough and actually don't support what our president is doing in Iraq.

i heard the news today, oh boy

John Lennon was killed 25 years ago today.

A few weeks ago, when I told Ben that I want to visit Strawberry Fields later this month, he told me that someone had dumped something like ten pounds of rose petals there that week. I can only imagine what it looks like today.

Lennon Lives
Even 25 years later, the details of his death come rushing back, like a flock of dark birds. It is early December in Manhattan. Shortly before 11 p.m. He's just turned 40, and recording albums for the first time in five years. He and his wife are returning from the studio. He insisted on going home without eating because he wants to see Sean, their 5-year-old boy, before bed. He steps out of the limousine, and someone calls out to him. People have been calling out to him since he was very young. Suddenly he is stumbling through the Gothic Dakota building's entranceway, and struggling up the steps to the doorman's desk. He is trailing blood. He is gasping, "I'm shot!" The doorman rushes out, sees that the killer has dropped his gun and kicks it away. Then the doorman starts crying. He turns to the killer. "Do you know what you just did?" Of course he does: "I just shot John Lennon."

In the surreal moments before the police arrive, Yoko Ono cradles her husband's head while the killer thumbs through "The Catcher in the Rye." The police pull up. They turn Lennon over and, at the sight of all the blood, a rookie officer retches. There's no time to wait for an ambulance, so they carry Lennon to the back of a squad car. A policeman bends over him and, trying to establish if he's conscious, asks a yes-or-no question that has taken the singer 40 years to answer: "Do you know who you are?" He groans. He seems to. At Roosevelt Hospital, however, Lennon is pronounced dead. Seven surgeons attempt to revive him, but he has already lost 80 percent of the blood in his body. The director of the ER steels himself to tell Ono that her husband has passed away. On the way to the hospital, Ono had ridden in a second squad car, begging a policeman repeatedly, "Tell me it isn't true, tell me he's all right." Now the man from the ER finds her sobbing, hysterical, unable to process what he's telling her: "Are you saying he is sleeping?"

As of Dec. 8, Ono will have spent a quarter of a century trying to do what the seven surgeons could not do that night: keep John Lennon alive. His murder was so shattering, and so universally felt, because it was brutal and incongruous—the man was a singer, a pacifist, a househusband—but also because there's always been a generation of baby-boomer fans, in particular, whose feelings for his imploring, serrated voice run so deep that it's as if they grew up not just with him but because of him. Still, building Lennon's legacy has been a fraught proposition. That's partly because he left behind a fairly small and uneven body of solo work; partly because the biographer Albert Goldman, having feasted on Elvis Presley's corpse, was thrilled to have a new legend to stick his fork into; and partly because Lennon and Ono had, in their love-struck desire to shut out the world, torched so many bridges.

mercredi, décembre 07, 2005

overheard in bam 308

H: "Check out Google Scholar."
A: (Busily analyzing data on Factiva.) "Huh?"
H: "I'm serious. I love Google. I'm having Google's baby."
A: "Fuck yeah."

mardi, décembre 06, 2005

oversexed french nouns

As a native English speaker, accents and proper pronounciation aren't the hardest part of learning French and Spanish. The hardest part is remembering what gender is assigned to each noun. When you add the fact that there's no foolproof rule for what words are male or female, things can get frustrating. But they can also be really funny when the gender of the word is counterintuitive.

Bra is short for brassiere (a French word), but a bra is actually un soutien gorge (which roughly translates to "a sustainer of the neck.") It also has a masculine indefinite article, which makes no sense, because we all know that man breasts are no fun. Likewise, a woman's blouse is un chemisier (masculine), whereas a man's dress shirt is une chemise (feminine).

To be fair, Spanish has much of the same gender confusion with these words: un sostén (meaning "sustainer" for bra) and un camisa (a man's dress shirt). But at least the word for blouse, una blusa, usually matches the wearer's gender.

I remembered these things when I ran across this David Sedaris spoken essay on NPR's Web site. It was done in 2000, right after the publication of "Me Talk Pretty One Day." I couldn't help but laugh as I listened to him talk about his own struggle with using the proper gender, and the fact that a vagina is masculine and the word masculine is actually feminine.
'Have you seen my wallet? I can't find her anywhere.'
In the second part of a series on life in Paris, commentator David Sedaris struggles to master the gender of French nouns, and in the process, learns some interesting things about the French language.
This language lesson is brought to you by the often-misused adverb "presently" and the letters ç, é, and ñ.

lundi, décembre 05, 2005

i'll drink to that

Diana's blog reminded me that the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on this day in 1933. (The 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, ending prohibition.)


When my relationships with loved ones (family, friends, a lover) are out of whack, all of me is off-kilter. Although I welcome substantive/ cognitive conflict because it usually leads to a better relationship, I'll gladly forego affective conflict.

It turns out that negative mojo not only takes a huge toll on one's psyche — it affects the body, as well.
Study shows quarreling couples have slower wound healing process
There is even more proof that an unhappy marriage is bad for your health, researchers reported Monday.

The stress that comes from discord appears to slow the initial production of a blood protein that is key to healing wounds, the report from Ohio State University said.

Quarreling couples studied in a laboratory setting had a slower wound healing process than when they were not arguing, as measured by how rapidly blisters healed. The blisters were deliberately inflicted on the test subjects by using a vacuum pump on the arm.

“Couples who demonstrated consistently higher levels of hostile behaviors ... healed at 60 percent of the rate of low-hostile couples,” said the report published in the December issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The authors said there is already a sizable body of research showing that marital disagreement causes adverse health impacts ranging from high blood pressure and depression to the ability to cope with heart disease and heart failure.

“Although loss of a spouse can provoke adverse mental and physical health changes, the simple presence of a spouse is not necessarily protective. A troubled marriage is itself a prime source of stress,” the study said.

The Ohio State study involved 42 married couples, aged 22 to 77. They were tested twice -- first in a social setting and then again when they were told to get into disagreements.

The authors said stress appears to slow the local, wound-site production of proinflammatory cytokines -- protein molecules produced by white blood cells that play a key role in the early stages of healing.

But the study also found that couples with high degrees of conflict had higher levels of the same cytokines generally in the bloodstream the morning after an argument, compared to those who were not in as much disagreement.

While greater early production at wound sites is beneficial, the authors said, a higher systemic level is harmful.

“Elevated levels of proinflammatory cytokines have been linked to a variety of age-related disease, including cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis ... certain cancers, and frailty and functional decline,” the study said. ”Moreover, inflammatory activation can enhance development of depressive symptoms.”

wilco rocks

Yesterday, I heard a song at the coffeehouse where I was studying and had to know what it was. The barista smiled when I asked and wrote down the artist, song title, and album. He then said "the rest of the album is also very good."

He wasn't kidding. I'm thoroughly enjoying Wilco's "Summerteeth." The music is lovely (rock, pop, and country music woven into a beautiful tapestry of sound) and the lyrics are cerebral. As one reviewer put it: "Jeff Tweedy's lyrics are a blend of optimism and melancholy. He's a true original. His songs can be catchy, thought-provoking, and bittersweet."

Faves so far:
Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)
I'm Always in Love
A Shot in the Arm
Pieholden Suite
She's a Jar


There's nothing quite like the ping-ping of new love. I'm honestly a bit sad to learn that there's a biological basis for why the insanity is only temporary.

Head over heels? Alas, it won't last.
Scientists say passionate love fizzles after a year
Your heartbeat accelerates, you have butterflies in the stomach, you feel euphoric and a bit silly. It’s all part of falling passionately in love—and scientists now tell us the feeling won’t last more than a year.

The powerful emotions that bowl over new lovers are triggered by a molecule known as nerve growth factor (NGF), according to Pavia University researchers.

The Italian scientists found far higher levels of NGF in the blood of 58 people who had recently fallen madly in love than in that of a group of singles and people in long-term relationships.

But after a year with the same lover, the quantity of the ‘love molecule’ in their blood had fallen to the same level as that of the other groups.

The Italian researchers, publishing their study in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, said it was not clear how falling in love triggers higher levels of NGF, but the molecule clearly has an important role in the "social chemistry" between people at the start of a relationship.

dimanche, décembre 04, 2005


"The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day."
-Gloria Steinem (1934 - ) is a Jewish American feminist and journalist and a spokeswoman for women's rights. She is the founder and original publisher of Ms. magazine.

getting my learn on

I spent this weekend in full-on study mode:
  • Editing and re-writing my accounting group project (a term paper) on FASB 131 that's due Dec. 7. At last revision, it was 14 pages, single spaced.
  • Starting to research and write my econ term paper that's due on Dec. 12, then talking through some of the concepts with classmates.
  • Meeting Allison and Justin at 976 and working through three accounting problems in seven hours. We only took one real break, when a bird flew into the sun porch and kept smacking into the glass windows. Eventually, we were able to get it back outside. Our final exam is Dec. 12.
  • Baking.
  • Taking a study break and celebrating JB's birthday by drinking kir royale with Turk and co. at David's house before the rest of the group went to dinner and I went back home to work on the accounting paper.
  • Getting over a nasty case of sinusitis.

serious(ly funny) bakers

Saturday was my second annual chrismahanukwanzice cookie party.

Allison, Cass, Diana, Margaret, Nolan, Susan, Tess and I baked dozens of cookies (gingerbread men, Mexican wedding cookies, peanut butter cookies, and Jen's sugar cookies). We spent the day in my kitchen laughing, eating, and swapping stories while we made and decorated the cookies.

The first chrismahanukwanzice cookie party.

overheard this weekend

toe the line
"Estrogenius triumphs over your preposterone." - Richard Lederer, host of "A Way with Words," to a male listener. The man had called in for an authoritative opinion to settle an etymological dispute about the phrase 'toe the line' he was having with his wife.

tough love at camp jeff
"This isn't 'Camp Allison' — you're at 'Camp Jeff' now. You need to get started on your paper." - Jeff to Allison, as he set her alarm for 6:30 a.m.

the interminable accounting problem
"We've got to finish this quick, like the chupacabra."

vendredi, décembre 02, 2005

jen's sugar cookies

1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir in:
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar

Combine ingredients and shape dough into a ball or log. Cover (wrap in parchment and foil or saran wrap) and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough and cut into shapes. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake 7-8 minutes.