Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Vote, ya moron.

All right, that's IT.

I have tried to make this journal my cheerful, happy non-confrontational place, but sometimes a girl has just gotta blow her top.  And I am freakin' sick and tired of hearing (and reading) excuses from people as to why they don't bother voting.  Bottom line:  If you don't vote (assuming you are legally entitled to do so), you are a poopyhead.  There, I said it.

OK, first off, yes, I do have the right to call you a poopyhead for not voting -- because your decision to not vote affects me.  Look, I don't mind if the candidate I don't want to win ends up winning if he's actually the people's choice.  (I won't be happy about it or anything, but if that's the will of the people, I'm good with it.)  What I can't deal with is if the wrong guy wins because the people who could have made a difference were too stupid or apathetic to get out there and vote.

Now, here are some of the so-called reasons I've heard for not voting, and why they won't fly:

- I'm not informed, and I don't want to cast an uninformed vote

OK, first of all, let me be really clear here.  I'm only talking about the Presidential election.  That one -- and, somewhat less directly, your votes for senators and congresspeople -- are your only votes that will affect me.  Frankly, I don't give a damn whether you vote for your local representative on your School Board.  What I'm talking about here is that you go to your polling place and knock one little chad out of your ballot.

Now, maybe you feel like you aren't informed enough about the two main candidates for President.  Go out and get informed.  Geez, people, you live in the United States of America.  On a daily basis, you get the benefits of its highways, its air traffic controllers, its minimum wage laws, its border patrol officers, its due process protections and thousands of other goodies that come with citizenship.  Do your freakin' duty and get informed.

It isn't difficult.  Click on George W. Bush's website or John Kerry's website.  Both set forth the candidates' positions on pretty much any issue you'd be curious about.  If you're too lazy to actually poke around a website, you can just go to Presidentmatch.com which (if you click on "compare") will give you a great big chart on where the candidates stand, or (if you click on "Q&A") will ask you what you think about the issues, and then tell you which candidate best fits your feelings. 

What I'm trying to say here is the whole "I'm not informed" thing won't fly, because it is so astonishingly easy to get informed.  Less than 30 seconds with the PresidentMatch Chart and you'll easily be able to figure out who shares your views on whatever issues matter the most to you.

- I don't live in a "battleground state," so there's no point in me voting

I blame polls for this one.  And all of the polls are based on people who are expected to vote.  Bottom line is that the majority of people in any state are not expected to vote -- and if they'd just go out and vote, they could turn any poll result upside-down.  If you and the rest of your non-voting pals went out and got yourselves counted as people who would be expected to vote, well then, congratulations, you're in a battleground state.

And one other thing -- we don't determine elections from poll results.  If we did, once there was a clear majority in the polls, we could just inaugurate the winner as president and not bother with the whole voting thing.  But we do bother with the election because polls are not infallible.  So ignore the polls and go out there and vote on the assumption that your vote will matter -- because if nearly everyone in a "blue" or "red" state didn't vote on the assumption that the election was already determined in their state, the few people who actually went out and voted would decide the whole thing.

- There's so many lies out there, I can't figure out the truth

Yes, there are lies out there.  Public Action Committees are running attack ads against both candidates which are, in some cases, not true.  And candidates may say things they think you want to hear, rather than what they actually believe.  And related to that are campaign promises which can't possibly be kept -- because the President can't get new laws passed without the consent of Congress.  So, yes, there's a lot of bull out there you have to dig through.

That said, there are some significant differences between the candidates and their philosophies.  When you read that (for instance), Bush wants to outlaw partial-birth abortions while John Kerry does not -- you can pretty much take that difference to the bank.  Grab another issue you care about:  Iraq, taxes, minimum wage, gay rights, privatizing social security ... these dudes have really divergent positions on these issues.  And even though, if elected, they might not be able to put into effect all of the things they stand for, that doesn't mean these aren't actually the positions of the candidates and what they would like to accomplish.

So, put the attack ads to one side, realize the limits to campaign promises, and look at the truth.  Then cast an informed vote.

- I don't like either of the candidates

Welcome to America, buddy.

Seriously.  Nobody agrees with either of the candidates on everything.  There's very likely at least one thing about "your" candidate that makes you want to vomit.

But, look at it this way -- that guy is "your" candidate because there's even more stuff about the other guy that you vehemently disagree with.  Don't you owe it to yourself, and your country, to do the best you can to make sure the guy you hate the most isn't elected?  Suck it up and vote for the guy you hate the least.

And here's the bonus -- if the people who don't vote start voting in droves, the candidates will realize that people like you are part of the electorate, and therefore people they should be catering to.  In other words, if you vote, you're more likely to get candidates who are more appealing to you in the future.  If you don't vote, nobody will ever bother running a candidate you'd really like, since, as far as the political parties are concerned, you and your interests don't exist.

- I don't have time to vote

Register and request an absentee ballot.  Fill it out one evening in the comfort of your home and mail that puppy in.  Easy as pie.


Interview last week led to a follow-up interview today.  (I wore tights, thanks very much.)  Got offered job.  Accepted offer.  Will start 11/1.


Monday, September 27, 2004

Paging the Fashion Police

I had to wear a suit to work last Thursday.

I haven't worn a suit to work in years.  But I was interviewing with a potential new boss, and I wanted to make a good impression.

(I had known this day would come for a number of months.  I even bought a new suit just to be ready.  Because, Lord knows, my old suits don't fit anymore.  Besides, I don't think those suits with the great big belt on the outside of the jacket are still as hip and happening as they were in the early 90s.)

My problem, however, was not the suit.

My problem was the shoes.

Well, no, that's not entirely true.  My problem was what to put on my legs before I put my feet in my shoes. 

Specifically:  panty hose, or the lack thereof.

I think hose -- or stockings of any kind -- are "out" now.  I never actually got the memo to that effect (and I'm sorry I missed it, as it would have been cause for a real celebration) -- but I haven't really seen anyone wear them anymore.  And when I say "anyone," I mean both real people and anyone being photographed on a red carpet someplace.

So, I'm gonna go hoseless.  My legs are pasty as milk bottles (tanning in the sun has been "out" for at least 20 years) and painting myself bronze has never really been my thing.  Oh well, there's nothing for it -- pale legs on parade.

Which brings me back to the shoes.  I can't wear open-toed sandals to work (and I certainly can't wear flip-flops -- which are probably responsible for putting the last nail in the pantyhose coffin -- but I still can't put my brain around the idea of wearing them anywhere indoors).  ANYWAY, the open-toed sandals are out both because it is late September and because, well, I didn't get a chance to get a pedicure and the polish remnants have crawled halfway up my toenails in a way that is, let's just say, something less than the "together" professional image I'm trying to project here.

Closed shoes, then.  Pumps.  Them, I got.  But it's 90 degrees outside, and naked feet inside pumps in 90 degree weather at a job interview are going to, y'know, sweat.  And stick to the insole.

Conveniently, I've got a bottle of that Odor Eaters stuff.  It's like talcum powder.  Or corn starch or something.  So, I unscrew the top and sprinkle a little bit of the stuff inside each shoe.

And then a whole pile of the powder comes pouring out into my shoes.  I'm trying for the shoe powder equivalent of "a pinch," and I end up with about a quarter cup in there.  I try to dump some of the excess and end up sending white streaks all along the heels of my black leather pumps.

I wipe down the outside of the shoes with a tissue and, cautiously, insert my feet.  A cloud of white smoke comes out and covers each shoe.  I wipe them off again.  By now, I really have to leave for work so I won't be late.

As I go off to my interview, I am still leaving little clouds of Odor Eaters powder behind me with each step I take. 

All things considered, I should've just worn the damn panty hose.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Better Late Than...

Yeah, ok, my sister.

She's four years older.  I am told my parents had us four years apart so that they wouldn't have two kids in college at the same time.  Boy, we messed that one up -- with me skipping a grade and both of us going to grad school.  Heh.

ANYWAY, I've been reading everyone else's stories of accidental (and not-so-accidental) sibling violence and sibling abuse ... and although my sister did give me that scar on my forehead you can still see today, I'd rather tell the tale of the very first time she babysat me.

Mom and Dad left Joyce in charge and I had direct instructions to do what she told me.  Yeah right.  I don't remember what I did, but we hadn't gone too far into the evening when Joyce decided to order me to stay in my room, and I decided not to.

There were no locks on our doors, so once I'd gotten out a few times, Joyce decided to barricade me in my bedroom.  She closed me in my room and started piling stuff outside the door so I couldn't open it.  Toys, games, various small bits of furniture ... they all got piled outside my door, all the while I sat on the floor in my room, crying and begging her not to do this.

And she ignored me and kept piling things.

And when she finished, and was really proud of herself for all the work she'd done, I opened the door and walked out of my room.

She'd forgotten the most important thing -- bedroom doors open inward.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Not Quite The Homework

If I were at home, I'd be posting something swell about my sister, coupled with an adorable photograph of cute sisterly selves.

But I'm not at home, because of ... my sister.

Today started out normally.  I had all sorts of plans to go to work, go to dinner with a friend, and make my way to Yom Kippur services with the aforementioned friend.

Around 9:00 a.m., my sister calls.  My sister and her husband had planned to go to Arizona to spend Yom Kippur with my parents.  (I had come for Labor Day instead.)  But she called this morning to report that her husband was feeling really sick, and to ask if I would come to Arizona in his place.

Fast forward through:  throwing clothes in a suitcase; applauding myself for always keeping that "bathroom bag" packed ("just in case I need to leave the country in a hurry"); calling someone to take care of the cat; going to work; several phone calls with my sister while she, in turn, made several phone calls to the airline; an hour and a quarter drive to the airport near my sister (as opposed to the one near me); and, presto, 8 hours later I'm on a flight to Arizona.  With my sister.  Because she asked.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Pray to Play

We here in Los Angeles are facing a little religious issue.

See, the Dodgers are ... just barely ... leading the NL West.  Yes, kids, we're in the thick of a pennant race.  Although, overall, in the past week or so, the Dodgers have, um, well ... the lead that used to be 7 games is now a game and a half.  (And really, that it's actually 1 1/2 rather than just 1/2 is a matter for some celebration.)  So what I'm saying is:  it's kinda close.  The second place team is the San Francisco Giants.

We have this player named Shawn Green who is a person of the Jewish persuasion.  Friday night and Saturday day are Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the Day of Atonement.  Friday night and Saturday day, the Dodgers play two games.  Against the Giants.  You see where I'm going with this.

Green is, apparently, a fairly observant dude.  Meaning that the last time he took off for Yom Kippur, he broke a 400+ games played streak.  He plans to sit out at least one, and maybe both, of the Giants' games.

This is getting a lot of press.  A lot of people calling in to radio call-in shows think Green ought to just play.  (A lot of Jewish people calling in to radio call-in shows think he ought not to.  Mostly because kids of this generation don't know who the hell Sandy Koufax was.)  I figure that it's Green's decision, and my opinion doesn't mean squat.

Although I would point out one thing to those who think he ought to play:  You obviously have no concept of Jewish guilt.  Just how well do you expect him to play when he's hearing his mother's voice in his ear saying, "What?  You think a game is more important than going to shul on Yom Kippur?  Did I raise my son to give up on the Day of Atonement just because his team is slumping?"  Professional baseball is not easy.  If your heart isn't in the game because you feel like you should be someplace else, you're not going to play very well.  I seriously doubt Green's bat is going to be on fire if he's standing there feeling like he's let down his family, his God, his faith, and the generation of Jewish kids to whom he may well be a role model as well as a sports hero.

Bottom line:  He shouldn't take off the games just to make a "Jewish role model" sort of point.  But if he genuinely believes he should be in temple, as he apparently does, there's really no point at all to having him be anywhere but there.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Yes, there IS such a thing as a stupid question

So, I go to the Hollywood Bowl last night for a concert.  (I was going to hear the Lord of the Rings symphony.)  I took a Hollywood Bowl shuttle bus to get there.

There was a guy seated behind me on the bus.  He asked his date, "Do you know what orchestra is going to be playing?"  She doesn't know.

As we pull up in front of the Hollywood Bowl, we pass this great big Hollywood Bowl marquee, which announces "John Mauceri and the HB orch" will be playing tonight.

Guy behind me sees the sign.  And then he asks, "What's the HB orchestra?"

Monday, September 20, 2004

Spider Solitaire Update

I'm getting better at Spider Solitaire, and I don't know why.  This intrigues me. 

It's happening in the same way I would learn a move in figure skating from practice, without any real knowledge of the miniscule adaptations I was making that enabled me to complete the step:  can't do the move, can't do the move, can't do the move, can do the move -- and I don't think I'm doing anything different.

That was a new feeling for me, because I'd never really taught my body to do anything.  And here was my body learning stuff behind my mind's back.

But with Spider, I appear to be teaching my mind how to do something -- but I am still equally clueless about what I've learned. 

When I first started playing Spider, I played the easy (one suit) level a few times.  I won, of course.  Easy level Spider teaches you the rules of the game and little else.  (You might get some vague idea about Kings being a nuisance, but that's it.)  The real challenge for me has been Medium difficulty (two suits).  For the longest time, I had a winning percentage hovering somewhere around 20%.  One in five.  It was more like luck than skill.

Recently, I tried my hand at a Difficult (four suits) game.  I'd tried before with no success.  And this time, I again did not manage to get even one line from King to Ace.  But there was something I picked up while doing it -- some sort of trick about manipulating cards that I'd missed when playing two suits.  I returned to the Medium level and instantly got better.  I kicked my winning percentage up to 26% pretty quick -- I think I'm probably winning 1 in 3 now (it's just taking a while for the statistics to catch up with me).  There's something I understand now that I didn't understand before. 

But I'll be damned if I know what it is.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

Three comments on the Emmys

1.  For Pete's sake, AOL, some of us live on the West Coast, where we get these things tape-delayed.  Could you not put the winners on the freakin' Welcome Screen until after it's aired out here?  Sheesh, you postpone the announcement of the weekly Survivor loser until we've seen it, you'd think you could show the same courtesy with respect to Emmy winners.

2.  OK, wait... they'll play off Jeffrey Wright talking about the AIDS crisis in Africa in order to make more time for Garry Shandling's pitifully unfunny sketches?  There's something wrong with their priorities, there.

3.  And an explanation for those of you who don't happen to watch the Tony Awards:  Elaine Stritch won a Tony for her stage show whose adaptation just won her an Emmy.  At the Tonys, they cut her off during her speech -- not just playing the music loud, mind you, they cut off the woman's mic so she couldn't finish.  It was a huge deal in theatrical circles, where Stritch has something approaching Living Legend status.  Some people even started using the word "Stritch" as a verb meaning "to cut off someone's acceptance speech."  (E.g., "Why'd they Stritch Jeffrey Wright?")  So the fact that she said she'd go on until they drag her off ... well, that was just freakin' hilarious, if you happen to know the back story.

Geek Report!

Saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  I was predisposed to like it, and I so totally did.

You remember when Star Wars came out (the first one? y'know, back when they were good?) and people of a certain age talked about how it was a throw-back to the serials they used to watch.  Ditto Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Folks -- like my folks -- liked these pictures because they reminded them of the type of film they'd watched growing up -- excepting, of course, that Star Wars and Raiders had the benefit of a few more decades of technological advancements.

Sky Captain takes things a giant step forward -- it isn't just a film in the non-stop-adventure style of the old serials -- it is a stunning computer-generated recreation of every image we associate with films of that time:  the beautiful blond woman with her hat askew and the frame of light streaming across the lower half of her face; the arms of a crowd pointing to the sky (at a 45 degree angle) as some unknown terror approaches; the map of the world over which our hero flies when travelling to a foreign destination -- the whole package is there.  Even if you haven't seen a ton of those films, Sky Captain reminds you of things you never knew you remembered.

The characters are exactly as they ought to be:  Jude Law as the charming British daredevil aviator; Angelina Jolie as the tough-as-nails military heroine with whom our hero shares a past; and Giovanni Ribisi as the science nerd sidekick.  (The unfortunate weak link is Gwyneth Paltrow -- as the spunky reporter who forces her way into Sky Captain's plane and, hopefully, his heart.  Paltrow perfectly looks the 1939 part, but as soon as she opens her mouth, she doesn't fit in the time period.  Someone like Nicole Kidman could have blown this part away.)

The plot is a little thin (no thinner than half of the world-domination plots of James Bond villains), but the plot is so not the point.  The point is sitting there for 100 minutes with a huge smile on your face, marvelling over each and every image in this live-action old-fashioned comic book. 

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Homework -- Meaningful Music

For this week's homework, John Scalzi poses this doozy:

Weekend Assignment #24: Tell us what the first song was at your wedding reception and why you chose that song. If you're not already married, tell us the song you would like to have played first at your wedding reception. Also, for the purposes of this assignment, those of you who have had commitment ceremonies can join in the fun (it's that whole "we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, and now we're going to dance" thing).

This may be hard to believe, but despite the fact I'm a person of unmarried femaleness, I haven't given great thought (or, indeed, any thought) to what my fantasy wedding would look like, be like and (as relevant here) sound like.  Fact is, all I care about wedding-wise is to have the right groom, thanks very much.

And, song-wise, I would want it to be a song that has some sort of meaning for me and my spouse -- not just something I think is a cool wedding song.  And since the role of NZ's spouse has not yet been cast, I don't think I can really answer the question.

That said, I tried to think of songs that I like, which would be the sort of music I'd want played at my wedding.  And one sort of leapt to mind -- both because I dig it, and because it would most likely get a laugh, which is really what I'd be aiming for in a situation like this.

So for our first dance, could you please crank up REM's "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)."



Thursday, September 16, 2004

When Good Writers Go Bad

Just to follow up on a comment below...

Tammy asks:  "And you're still reading it why?"

An excellent question.  I'm still reading it because I always read one book too many from an author I once liked. 

If I pick up a book by someone I've never read before, and it isn't any good, I'll give it up without finishing it, with no problem.

But if I pick up a book by someone whose prior work I've enjoyed, I'll read it to the end -- even if it's bad -- because I'll still hold out some vain hope that this book will regain something of the former glory of the earlier book(s). 

I could give you a list of authors who I've given up on after that "one book too many."  In fact, they probably outnumber the authors I read who are still putting out enjoyable books.  It happens so frequently that an author goes bad, I sometimes hesitate to pick up the newest book from an author I still enjoy, dreading the thought that this is going to be the book that ends our "relationship."

Katherine Neville, the author of the piece of crap discussed below, wrote a lovely little book called The Eight.  (How to describe The Eight?  Take Foucault's Pendulum.  Dumb it down.  Dumb it down some more.  No, a little more than that.  OK, now add a car chase.  That's The Eight.)  The Eight was a great read -- very engaging, with a terrific plot that could easily keep you entertained on a cross-country flight.  There were a few signs in The Eight that Neville's writing might be problematic.  It had a few too many "arm out of the socket" scenes.  (Those are those scenes where the heroine is oblivious to what is actually going on, so some man grabs her by the hand and pulls her out of the way of oncoming doom, leaving her safe, but yelling, "What's going on?" as she is pulled after him.)  This sort of thing drives me nuts, but the plot of The Eight was so strong, I overlooked it.

I am halfway through A Calculated Risk, Neville's next book, and I will likely finish itbecause I can't yet decide whether the plot is worth sticking with (despite how much I otherwise abhor the writing).  Were it anyone else's book, I'd toss it aside immediately.  But Neville wrote The Eight, so I have a reason to hope that the payoff of A Calculated Risk plot-wise will be worth the effort.

But I'm sure it won't be.  And then I will add her to the ever-increasing list of "Authors I Used To Read."



Tuesday, September 14, 2004

I guess I'm sexist

I hate ... hate, hate, hate ... books by women authors.

No, not all books by women authors.  Many of my sisters are fully capable of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and creating something well worth reading. 

The ones I'm complaining about are the books by women for women -- the ones that play into some messed up sort of image of what women want to read -- which is itself based on some messed up sort of image of the lifestyles women must fantasize about.

They usually involve women who come into contact with remarkable men.  The sort of man who can figure out how to reprogram the computer which operates our nuclear missiles while he's waterskiing across the Atlantic.  On his way to teach a cooking class in Paris.  Oh, and he's madly in love with the heroine -- well, not overtly in love with her -- he's more the sort who would pine over her, fly her to Japan in his private jet for supper, show her a wonderful first-class life she didn't even know existed, and then let her fall asleep in his arms as he delicately carries her back to her room, tucks her in, and leaves her in bed with a single red rose and a thank you note.

I'm currently reading a book that is such a horrible offender, I can't help but think it's farce.  (Katherine Neville -- A Calculated Risk.)  It's making fun of this genre, right?  The author can't seriously believe I'm buying this, right?

I swear, I should have put it down the moment I read the flashback scene where our heroine met the man in question:

     'May I help you, little girl?' The soft voice was just behind me.
     I nearly jumped out of my skin;  I felt my lip trembling from the sudden fright as I swallowed and turned.
     There stood the most amazing-looking man I'd ever seen.

Little girl?  I'm sorry.  This is the basis for a relationship that, dollars to donuts, is going to end up in a bedroom.  The annoying paternalism continues.  After this stud-muffin takes our narrator for a mystery drive, she tells us:

    I awakened, what seemed like hours later, with my head in [his] lap.  His coat had been removed and tucked in around me, and he was absentmindedly stroking my hair.

Aw.  Just warms your heart, doesn't it?  Like she's a little puppy or something.

Well, not a total puppy.  Their relationship also dances around the other side of the Offense-ometer, when he later responds to her with this gem...

     "I have an emotion myself, that's about to be used," he told me, shoving me into the car.  "It's the emotion of anger--and you evoke this emotion in me so frequently, I wonder that I haven't taken a bullwhip to you yet!"  He slammed the door.

Oh, take me, baby.  I'm yours.

To be fair, this is not the only messed up image of women this author is using.  She also gives us the African-American best friend who calls our heroine "Sugar," cusses like a sailor and tells the protagonist that when she goes to New York she should,

     "Hit the theatres, buy some exotic rags, meet new faces, eat designer food--get laid--you know what I mean?"

(Of course she knows what you mean.  Who doesn't?  The stereotype is bad enough, but would anyone talk like that and think it was subtle?)  Oh, and this is the same person who, when she gets stopped by police for speeding, she, well, ... take a look...

     "My ... what an attractive uniform, officer!" [she said], rubbing the fabric of his jacket between her fingers.  "Are these a new design?"
      The officer dropped his book, and she picked it up quickly and handed it to him with a smile.  I thought he blushed, but I couldn't be sure.  I'd never seen a cop who was a match for [her].

Seriously.  Did we not get past the whole flirting-your-way-out-of-a-traffic-ticket somewhere around Cannonball Run?

It isn't just that I find the book utterly implausible; it has worked its way right up to genuinely offensive.  The idea that there's anyone out there who thinks this is the sort of story I'd view as good escapist fiction is nuts.  That a woman thinks this is how women want to imagine themselves is deplorable.

Monday, September 13, 2004

An Emmy First ... No, Second

Found myself cruising through this year's first crop of Emmy Award winners.  Although the big telecast is next week, they already gave away the "Creative Arts" Emmys the other night, and a few of them are in categories I actually care about.

I found it particularly notable that "Monk" won for Best Theme Song.  This is interesting because "Monk" won for Best Theme Song last year.  It was a different theme song.  I checked the archives.  No TV show has won for Best Theme Song twice. 

I usually don't pay much attention to things like the Emmy for Theme Song -- but this particular story is one I've been following for about, oh, a year.

Like I said, "Monk" won for best theme song last year.  You wouldn't have noticed "Monk" celebrating this -- the Emmy win wasn't exactly trumpeted on their website or anything -- because, by the time "Monk" had won the theme song Emmy, it had already replaced its theme song with something else.  (Can you imagine what the press release would have looked like?  "'Monk' is proud to announce the Emmy award win for its theme song, which it has since stopped using in favor of another song we like better.  But, um, way to go, first composer!")  It's gotta be a little embarrassing when you decide to replace your theme song and then someone goes and gives you an award for the original one.

And "Monk" was suitably embarrassed.  A second-season episode contained a reference to the theme song debacle -- a woman complained that her favorite TV show should never have changed the theme song; she liked the original theme song better.  (Probably would have come off as more sincere had the woman not been a deranged murderer, but still.  It's the thought that counts, no?)

And now, a year later, the suits at "Monk" who decided to ditch the original theme song finally get to say "I told you so," as the song they chose to replace it also picked up the Emmy.  Good for them.

(I still like the first one better, though.)

I am such a girl.

Walking to my car today, I passed a limo exiting a driveway.  The driver saw me approach and said, "Your limo is here."  I chuckled slightly and crossed in front of him.  As I walked by, the driver said, "I only said that because I wanted to see your smile."

And I chuckled again, and, as I have been programmed to by my set of X-chromosones, blushed furiously and smiled again.  This time on purpose.


It isn't like total strangers harmlessly flirt with me on a regular basis, but it has happened a few times, and whenever it has, my response has always been the same.  A slightly-embarassed smile.  A small moment of self-doubt as I think about how unprovocatively clothed I invariably am, and that line that starts, "Men seldom make passes at..."  I mostly wonder what compels a guy to throw stray compliments at total strangers when the only thing he's going to get in return is a smile and laugh.

I'm pretty much over the self-doubt.  I don't really suspect that the fellow in question thinks I'm completely unattractive and has decided to flirt with me out of some sense of pity for the girl with the glasses and the unremarkable outfit.  I've come to accept that dudes like this limo driver genuinely like, for whatever reason, to make a girl smile.

The next step, I suppose, is figuring out exactly WHY I smile every damn time.



Thursday, September 9, 2004

Homework: Time, Time, Time, See What's Become of Me

So, for this week's homework, Scalzi gives us the following thought-provoker:

Weekend Assignment #23: 100 years from now, your great-great-great-grandchild has been assigned to write a school report on your life and times. Help him or her by putting five things in a time capsule. The five things could include something personal or something that typifies the times we live in. One catch: It can't include a version of your AOL Journal (because that would be too easy, that's why).

Extra Credit: Put something in the box that would believe would be completely puzzling -- something they'd look at and say "What the heck is this?"

I thought about this one all the way home, and I came up with...

 - My "pocket Constitution" from Law School.  I need to put something in that represents my lawyerness, and the pocket Constitution is an easy choice.  An anthropologist with a decent sense of imagination will look at this particularly well-worn copy (as well as the decision to seal it in a time capsule) and infer it meant something to its owner.  It isn't just something to signify, "Oh, she's a lawyer," but also to indicate our country's past, its acknowledged mistakes, and its greatest aspirations.

- A photo of my cat and (perhaps) a few pieces of her furry little coat.  OK, yeah, I love my cat.  And what better way to know someone than to see what she loves.  I'd include the fur sample so that my descendant can touch the same soft fur that I pet daily -- and besides, maybe they will have mastered pet cloning by then, in which case, "here, have some kitty DNA."

- A few of my favorite theatre reviews.  When I'm not a lawyer, I'm a theatre critic.  I would want to put a few of my best reviews -- those that really convey my passion for a particular production -- in the time capsule. 

- My Disneyland annual pass.  Because fun is a big part of my life.  And because I'm certain someone 100 years from now would understand a Disneyland annual pass.  I have no doubt Disneyland will still be standing, although I'm sure annual passes will have gone the way of "E" Tickets and been replaced by an even more efficient way for the Mouse to separate you from your money.

- A little metal puzzle.  I love puzzles.  I think it comes from my love of mathematics.  I keep a few gadget-type puzzles on my desk at work.  They're good to fidget with, and they also serve as a reminder to keep pushing to get a solution -- and if one thing doesn't work, try looking at it from a different angle. 

Extra Credit:  If size is no object, an airport metal detector.  If it is, one of those signs from the airport -- the ones listing all the prohibited items, telling you to take your laptop out of its case, and suggesting you take off your shoes before passing through security.  For many reasons, I imagine that people 100 years from now would take a good look at this routine part of 2004 existence and laugh their butts off.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004


Just wrote a very nice entry and AOL ate it all up.

After I wrote the entry, AOL asked me to sign on.  Which was really weird, as I was already signed on and was, in fact, updating my journal from within AOL.  So I gave it my screenname and password (as though I'd been signing on from the web) and then it logged me in and gave me an error about how only journal owners are allowed to add entries.

And I'm all, "Dude!  I am so the journal owner."  I mean, I'm logged into AOL as the journal owner twice -- once because I'm logged on AOL, and again because I did the web log-in thing from within AOL.  But it refused to post.  And it wouldn't let me "back" out to my Add Entry screen so I could save what I'd written and try again later.

All of which is by way of explanation why I'm not taking the time right now to redraft the entry it just took me an hour to write.  I had intended to write on one topic, and then something else came up, and since it was on my mind, I wrote about that.  And even though AOL ate it all up -- the fact is that now that I've written it, I don't have that great big need to write about it any more.  Weird, that.

Well, I'd better post this before AOL eats this entry, too.




Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Quick Post -- Loose Ends

1.  So, didja watch "Amazing Race"?  Didja see zorbing?  Isn't it cool?  Innit?

2.  And why didn't I go sledging?  Harumph.

3.  Oh yes, I'm sane.  That's right.

4.  I was away this weekend.  Spent Labor Day with my folks in Arizona.  Missed my cat something wicked.

5.  She may or may not have missed me.  She meowed for me around 4 in the morning last night, which I'm pretty sure was just a check that I was still here.  Then again, she bit me (hard) tonight for no reason.

6.  Labor Day with my folks was fun.  I think the highlight was the horseback ride.  It was at sunset.  Watching the sun set from horseback in Arizona is pretty darned spiffy.

7.  And my Dad came with me.  Onna horse.  Said he hadn't been on a horse since his honeymoon 43 years ago.

8.  Which is pretty funny, as he and my mom were married 45 years ago.  (Someone got chewed out for that, let me tell you.)

9.  This, by the way, gives me about five years to plan one heck of a party.

10.  Oh!  And the place we stayed at had a waterslide.  Weeeeee!

11.  And we went to a nearby casino.  Dad won about ten bucks playing blackjack. 

12.  This was very nearly enough to pay for breakfast for the three of us.

13.  I sorta miss those $3.95 breakfasts in Vegas.  Nice to know they're still in business at the Native American casinos.

14.  Oh, and speaking of Native Americans -- did you know you could buy Dreamcatchers and Kokopelli jewelry and all sorts of Native American trinkets at the Phoenix airport?

15.  Excepting they're all made in China and clearly marked, "NOT MADE BY NATIVE AMERICANS."

16.  And I'm wondering exactly what sort of good a Dreamcatcher is going to do when it was made in some factory in China.

17.  Not that China doesn't have its own perfectly good spiritual traditions and all.  Just that -- well, to the limited extent I believe any of this stuff works -- I can't imagine that something can be instilled with whatever powers the Native Americans think it might have, when it was constructed by folks who themselves don't believe in it.

18.  Come to think of it, I think that the powers that Dreamcatchers have are pretty much based on the user of said Dreamcatcher believing in it.  And since I wouldn't believe in it unless it was actually crafted by folks for whom it was something more than a cheap piece of junk to sell in an airport, I'm going to say that such Dreamcatchers would be totally useless.

19.  Good thing they were marked.  I wonder if there's some sort of law in Arizona:  If you're going to sell something that people might assume was made by Native Americans, you have to say if it wasn't.

20.  Note how nice and politically correct I am, making every effort to say "Native American," instead of "Indian." 

21.  A point that was clearly driven home when the family who accompanied us on our horseback ride was actually Indian.  Y'know, from India.

22.  So our Sioux guide was all, "You're Indian?  I'm Indian too."  Heh.  Just look at the linguistic confusion born from one minor little navigational error.

23.  Oh!  And we saw actual wild horses.  The real thing.  Mustangs.  Very cool.

24.  Well, I probably wouldn't have found it all that nifty if I hadn't seen Hidalgo.

25.  So, y'know, there can be an educational payoff to lusting after Viggo Mortensen.

Friday, September 3, 2004

Next up...

So, what am I planning next that I'm so excited about?

Well.  See, I have a lot of vacation time coming up so I was trying to find something to use it on, and the perfect (well, I hope it'll be perfect) thing just fell into my lap.

I kept looking at all sorts of vacations on the internet (I'm my own internet travel agent and I pride myself in finding "impossible prices" on things that are otherwise, well, somewhat out of my price range) and I wasn't finding anything that seemed right for me.

Like, I could get a really excellent deal on a cruise from LA down to Mexico -- a real party boat, with lots of discos and booze and such.  And, despite the goodness of the deal, it really wasn't for me.  I've never been much for discos or booze (and certainly not with total strangers) so I couldn't imagine why I'd want to do that on a vacation.  And I didn't want a vacation where I just went someplace and paid lots of money to look at all the pretty sights without doing anything, either, and then I found...

"Adventure cruising."  Eeee!

I'll be taking a week-long cruise on the Columbia River (pretty much following its length from the Pacific to, say, Idaho).  And I'll have a chance to kayak, and hike, and jet boat, and whitewater raft, and see all sorts of nature (and also just sit around and take a deep breath and marvel at it).  All that, and they serve cookies and milk.

I just signed up for it the other day, which doesn't leave me a whole lot of time to get into "vacation shape," as it were.  My attendance at the gym has dropped off these past few weeks, and I need to make sure my endurance is back up to "soft adventure" levels.  I mean, there's four opportunities to kayak on this thing.  (Up till now, I haven't even gone kayaking twice in the same year, so I gotta be ready to paddle.)

Very exciting.  (And motivating.)  So... after my relaxing Labor Day weekend, I'll be all set to jump back into what passes for "training" in my world.

Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.  :)

Thursday, September 2, 2004

Homework: Photoblog

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

>Weekend Assignment 22: Got a photo you really love? Show it and tell us why. It'd be nice if the photo was one you haven't shown on your site before, but doing a repeat of an especially meaningful picture is groovy too.<

No problemo.

Actually, I have the exact photo in mind, as it has been waiting to be posted in my journal from the very beginning.  A long long time ago, I got an email from AOL saying my journal was being considered for the Editor's Picks and asking me to submit a photo.  I chose a photo and submitted it -- it's a photo that sums up everything this journal is.  I chose it on the theory that if my journal was selected as a Pick, I would then write an entry explaining the photo (and therefore the journal).  I wasn't selected as a Pick.  Recently, I was again told I was under consideration as an Editor's Pick, and I sent the same photo.  Still have not yet been chosen.

No worries.  With John's assignment, I have a perfectly good excuse to post the photo and the explanation.

This is me...

... after an "Introductory Scuba Dive." 

Once upon a time, I took a vacation to Australia.  As part of the trip, I took a one-day cruise out on the Great Barrier Reef.  It was, in a lot of ways, a life-changing sort of experience.

In the first place, it was quiet.  Relaxing.  Up until then, my standard vacation protocol would be to go to New York (or some other place "where the plays are") and try to cram as much theatre as I could into a weekend.  But on this particular day trip, I spent a good deal of time lying on the deck of the ship, staring at the sky.  And it was wonderful.  Calming.  Centering.  (Which is the sort of word I never imagined I'd use, much less something I'd actually feel.)

And in the second place, there wasthe Introductory Scuba Dive.  The cruise offered several ways to see the Great Barrier Reef -- one of which was an introductory scuba dive.  They said it was very simple -- there'd be good old-fashioned regular air in the tank, you wouldn't go any deeper than ten feet, and you'd be with the dive master at all times.  I thought about it and (considering that my other alternative was snorkelling, which I'd never been particularly good at) decided, against my standard "better judgment" to give it a go.

The result is that photo up there.  Taken at the end of the dive, when I was climbing on board the boat.  (It was, in fact, moments after I had discovered how freakin' heavy a tank of air can be when it doesn't have water conveniently supporting its weight.)  Observe the smiley face.  The genuine glee.  The sense of accomplishment at having succeeded at something I'd never tried before.  The total happiness at how freakin' cool the Great Barrier Reef is when experienced up close and personal.  The face that says, as Donkey likes to put it, "Let's do that again."

I started this journal just as I'd started taking a few more steps down the path begun the day this picture was taken.  It's all about me getting to know this side of myself, which I hadn't known existed until one day in the Great Barrier Reef.

(As it happens, I've just lined up the next step in the journey.  I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2004

Quick TV Alert

OK, y'all gotta watch Amazing Race next week.  The previews show the contestants zorbing.

And (thanks to various spies all over the internet) it appears that they were zorbing in New Zealand -- at the original zorb location in Rotorua -- where I personally went zorbing!

So watch next week -- so that you can see what it's like to bounce down a hill in a big plastic ball (as my photos so totally do not do it justice).