Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Continuing Adventures of Kitten Bunnyfoot

[Voice over] From out of the Old West comes Kitten Bunnyfoot!  Protector of the unprotected, chaser of small beams of light, destroyer of weak-willed cat toys, she's Kitten Bunnyfoot!  Loyal to a fault, precious to the max, totally insane for about four minutes a day, she's Kitten Bunnyfoot!

Today's Adventure:  The Unexpected Surprise and the Unfortunate Event Which Followed.

Take it away, Kitten Bunnyfoot!

Yeah, ok, so, the other night, I barfed on the living room floor.  In three puddles of varying size.  My human noticed it the next morning when she got up to feed me.  She cleaned it up with a bunch of Kitty Mess Wipes, moaned a little about being late for work, showered, and left for the day.  Totally forgetting to feed me!  This sucks.  Whine, whine, whine.

That's it for Today's Adventure.  Join us next week for another thrilling episode!

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Homework: Money, money, money

For this week's homework, Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #36: I have a mug on my desk with $70.65 in change in it. What should I do with the money? The only unacceptable answer is "give it to me." Honestly. You can do better.

Extra Credit: If you've got a picture of your own loose change storage device, show it.

To which I respond:  $70.65, is that all

I have rather a lot of change, in various stages of rolledness.  Here's the change I've already rolled -- there's $87.50 of it, and it's only pennies, nickels and dimes.  (I've sold several rolls of quarters to my boss -- she gave them to her daughter for the coin-operated washing machines at college.)

I've also got coins that are partially sorted and waiting to be rolled (pennies in one jar, quarters in another -- the nickels and dimes are still partying together) ...

and, finally, the containers that haven't been sorted yet.  This assignment surprised me on this one, as I had the taller container in plain view on my shelf, but I found the stouter one when I was taking out the rolled coins to take pictures.

(That's, of course, just the stuff at home.  I also have a coffee mug about half-full of quarters, and a tin two-thirds full of unsorted other coinage, at work.)

As you might have noticed, I don't spend my change.

When I was in college, I needed to save my coins for laundry (the washers took quarters and the dryers took dimes -- I ended up filling my pockets with nickels whenever I went out and gave a few to the homeless people who'd ask for money).  By the time I was out of school, saving my change was a habit, and I then decided to make a conscious decision to never spend change and save up that money for charity.  (It's really easy to get in the habit of always paying with bills and saving the change.  It makes your wallet lighter, too.)

Once I made this decision, however, the two sticking points have always been rolling it (I hate giving up nearly 10% to Coinstar) and figuring out which charity should get it.

As it turns out, I now know what I'm going to do with my change this time around.  I doubt this will help John with his dilemma, but I'm happy to share my current project...

Last year at about this time, I was on vacation in Fiji.  One of the things I noticed there was how astonishingly expensive books were.  I mean, there was a paperback copy of the first Harry Potter book in the hotel gift shop (which wasn't the cheapest place to buy stuff on the island, but still) for, like, over $20.  Thinking about it, it made some level of sense -- I mean, they don't have a publishing house anywhere on Fiji, and probably have to ship everything over from Australia.

On my trip, we visited one little island and met the locals.  They were extremely poor, but very nice and welcoming.  And spoke English.  And I thought, "Damn.  My mom used to teach elementary school.  I bet just one of her classes would have enough gently-used copies of Harry Potter to give one to every kid on this island." 

So, we contacted the school and it turns out they're always looking for charitable things for the kids to do -- and they think a book drive for Fiji would be great.  And I contacted the cruise company who took me to the little island in the first place, and they said that if I sent the books to their main office in Nadi, they would take the books out to the island. 

The one sticking point seems to be the same one that keeps books so expensive in Fiji in the first place -- the cost of shipping books to Fiji.  Shipping heavy boxes of books out there isn't cheap.

But I bet I could send a lot of books with all my spare change.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Only Because I've Been Asked. Twice.

Yes, Jews celebrate Thanksgiving.

(As a rule of thumb, if the holiday has nothing to do with Jesus, we're good with it.)

(Besides.  It's an eating holiday.  Who doesn't like an eating holiday?)


Am I the only one who is way not excited about the Seinfeld DVDs?

You might think I should be.  I watched the show regularly when it was on -- but I was a little late to the party, so watching the first and second seasons on DVD would probably fill in a few gaps.

But the fact is, I lost interest in the show after the last episode.  In a huge way.

I mean, here's me, tuning in to the antics of these four people on a weekly basis -- and then the show, in its last episode, makes a point of pointing out what lousy self-centered people they are.  And I thought, "You know what?  You're right.  Why am I wasting my time watching these losers?"  I mean, there's no point in quoting lines from the show when you're quoting lines from jerks.  And why should I feel sympathetic to them when they get themselves in trouble when, now that I think about it, they pretty much deserve what they get?

Prior to the final episode, I had enjoyed tuning in every week -- whether the show was new or in reruns.  But after that, I never watched it again.  Not in syndication, not ever.

I've never known a show to so clearly kill itself for me in a single episode.  Perhaps Jerry & the gang felt like it was necessary to point out to the audience that we'd been watching characters who were really just terrible people -- but it had the effect of chiding us, the viewers, for actually enjoying it.  Result:  an instant case of the "I don't care"s.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bad Techno Day

Y'ever have a bad technology day? 

I'm not talking about the electric razor attacking you like in that Twilight Zone episode.  I just mean one of those days where every freakin' dial and meter is letting you down.

This happened to me on Friday.

Thursday night, I turned my cell phone off before bed.  Woke up Friday morning, turned the phone on, and it gave me the "low battery" alert.  Impossible.  The damn thing was showing a near-full charge when I shut it off the night before.

And then I got in my car to go to work -- and had half a tank of gas.  This, too, was weird, as I'd have sworn it was only a quarter tank when I left it last.  I'm not really complaining about extra gas, but how did it get there?  Did someone just GIVE me an extra quarter tank of gas for no reason?  Or were my dials messing with me?

And the worst thing of all -- when I turned on my ipod to continue my random stroll through every track I have, instead of picking up where I'd left off halfway through, it started all over again at song 1 of a brand new shuffle.  ARGH.

Not the day to operate heavy equipment, that's for sure.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thank you, thank you very much

This week's assignment:

Weekend Assignment #35: Tell us something you should be thankful for -- but that you're usually not. After all, it's easy to be thankful for all the things you know you should be thankful for: Your family and friends, your home, the good things that come from living wherever (and whenever) you do. So try stretching a little and think about something that you're thankful for that you usually don't think much about at all. It can be serious or silly; it's up to you. You just have to be genuinely thankful for it -- once it comes to mind.

I'm thankful to Al Gore for inventing the internet.  Kidding!  Although I am certainly thankful for the invention.

But, when you get right down to it, as much as I love the internet (and I truly, truly do), I think I am even more thankful for, um, feminine protection.  And I'm not talkin' stun guns, people.

Hmm, I wonder which one is more likely to make Scalzi's list...

Huffy Kitty

The past few days, Jasmine has been extremely clingy before I go to bed.  I normally close the bedroom door and sleep by myself, while she goes off on her merry kitten way and does whatever she does (sleep a little, hunt down the treats I've hidden for her, and run psychotically around my apartment a few times). It's a good arrangement.

Every night, as I approach the bedroom door to let myself in, I am the victim of a "drive-by catting."  Jasmine comes tearing down the hallway and jumps in my direction -- sometimes managing to tap my thigh with her soft little paws -- and then keeps right on running.

But lately, she's been staying after the drive-by.  She circles through my legs and brushes up against my ankles.  An impromptu petting session doesn't make her leave.  She really, really wants to be let in the bedroom at night.

I've been petting her and loving her and talking sweetly to her and locking her out.  The other night, she wasn't falling for it.  I eventually had to throw a toy down the hall and let her scamper after it.  When she was down there, I sneaked into my bedroom.  I felt horribly guilty about this.  Jas had been so excited when I threw the toy -- she thought we were going to play!  And I was just distracting her so I could slip away.  Mean, mean human.

So, last night, I played with her a lot, and gave her extra treats.  And then I thought:  why not let the sweet purry little princess stay in the bedroom at night?  All she seems to do when I'm in there anyway is curl up under the bed.  Where's the harm in the aforementioned curling if I happen to be in there sleeping?  (Besides, she's gotten past her previous tendency to attack my water glass.)  It's been a while since I tried letting her in, and she REALLY wanted in, and she's so cute, and so sweet, and has the cutest little pink paws, and I just love it when she's all joyful and ...

When I hid the treats for her to find, I took one and placed it in plain view on my bedroom floor, and left the door open for her.  It was as engraved an invitation as I could come up with.  Jasmine couldn't believe it.  She was cautious at first, and kept peeking around the corner to see if I was really letting her in the bedroom at night.  When I spoke encouragingly to her, she dove under the bed, thinking she was hiding where I couldn't get her.  I said, "That's fine, baby.  You can stay there."

Well, lemme tell you.  Although she takes no interest in me when I'm awake, apparently a sleeping (or nearly sleeping) human is extremely fascinating.  During the first hour, I was twice awakened by little paw sounds near my head -- I opened my eyes and was staring right at kitty nostrils.  Things calmed a little after that -- and while I'm sure I got SOME amoung of sleep, cat action had me awake and looking at the clock on nearly an hourly basis.

She got under the blankets with me.  She's been playing on (or under) my bed for more than a year, and has always been afraid to go under the covers -- even when I lift them invitingly.  But not last night.  Last night, I was minding my own business when all of a sudden I was awakened by kitty whiskers tickling my thigh.  I love the warm little ball of fur all curled up next to me, but it's hard to sleep when, with every breath she takes, the little whiskers gently scratch up and down.

At about 5:30, she was back outside the bed, clawing the mattress.  "Jasmine, no."  Claw, claw, claw.  "Jasmine, NO!"  Claw, claw, claw.  Two hours till my alarm goes off.  I think about how valuable two hours of interrupted sleep are.  I pick her up -- wriggling -- and set her outside the door, and close it.  Go back to sleep for what I HOPE is two solid hours of snoozing, but (dammit) my nose is congested and it's hard to fall asleep.  I eventually get an hour or so.

7:30 alarm.  I open the door to let Jasmine in for our morning pet-fest.  She doesn't come.  I call out.  She doesn't come.  I peek out the door.  She's stretched out in the hallway, just a few feet away.  Staring.  Sulking.  Extremely peeved. 

Yeah, her and me both.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Radio Me

Funny that John Scalzi would have his random mix entry, seeing as I've been doing the random mix to end all random mixes for the past week or so.

See, I listen to, basically, two kinds of music:  showtunes and silly 80s hits.  Sure, there's the occasional Beatles CD in there, and an unusual amount of REM -- but, other than that, it's pretty much Broadway and "Walking on Sunshine."

To keep my head from flying off because of the mood swings, I generally have two playlists I switch between -- a "showtunes" list (which has showtunes, the occasional movie soundtrack, and an occasional "pop" song your parents would swing dance to); and an "upbeat" list (largely 80s hits, some rock, and one or two showtunes that are too perky for the showtunes list).  These lists are, of course, comprised of the Greatest Hits of My iPod.  There's LOTS more tunes on there -- complete albums and all that.  But I generally just pull up one of the two playlists and let the iPod shuffle through my favorite tracks.

A week ago Monday, I accidentally hit "play" without selecting a playlist.  The iPod cranked up some random song of the 720 in my music library.  I kinda liked it.  Well, of course I would.  With one or two unfortunate exceptions, everything on the iPod is there because I wanted the whole album.  So I don't have anything against the tracks I usually don't listen to.  I let it play.  I let the next track play.  And the next one.

We're about 8 days into the experiment and I'm on track 347 ("A Part of That" from "The Last Five Years").  I'm nearly halfway through and I plan to finish the whole set.  While I'm listening, I'm keeping notes on which tracks I want to add to the playlists and put into more regular rotation.  This because I'm a totally anal Type-A personality.  (Duh.)

I'm gonna post a list of ten tracks it played in a row -- but before I do, I want to point out that I have issues with exactly how representative this thing is.  I took down a list of 10 and was surprised to find two tracks by the same band.  I took a second list of 10, and there were two tracks from the same Broadway musical.  (And there had been a third track from that show in the first 10.  Meaning that in 20 songs out of 720, it selected THREE tracks from the same show.)  And, of course, even in that 20, there was a LOT of stuff that wasn't represented at all.  So, I mean, while this IS a snapshot of ten songs that randomly came up on my iPod, it isn't exactly a representative sample of the music I listen to.

And it is...

1. Painting Her Portrait -- Jane Eyre (that'd be a musical)
2. Hazy Shade of Winter -- The Bangles (that's a cover.  I have the Simon & Garfunkel original, too.)
3. Treat Me Right -- Pat Benatar (love that one -- especially when I'm at the gym.  Nothing like sweatin' to Pat Benatar)
4.  I Landed on Him -- Floyd Collins (that's another musical -- about a guy trapped in a cave)
5.  You Don't Know This Man -- Parade (a musical -- about Leo Frank, the Jewish guy that got lynched in Atlanta for killing little Mary Phagan, a girl who worked in his pencil factory.  Man, I listen to some upbeat musicals.)
6.  Pirate Jenny -- Kurt Weill:  The Centennial Celebration (well, ok, but it's FROM a musical -- Threepenny Opera.  I think I have four different recordings of Pirate Jenny, so this track probably IS representative)
7.  No Good Deed -- Wicked (musical -- based on the book of the same name, you know the one, about the Wicked Witch of the West)
8.  Pity the Child -- Chess (and that would be a ... musical!)
9.  Angels of the Silences -- Counting Crows
10.  Good Time -- Counting Crows

While I won't give you the second list, I will mention that it included, "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" from "Avenue Q."  That show has the BEST song titles.

Monday, November 15, 2004

That's odd.

So, Friday night, I saw a play.

(That part wasn't odd.  Y'know, what with me being a theatre critic and all.)

After the show is over, I stand up to leave, and my knee starts hurting.  Not the usual tightness from having been sitting for awhile, but actual pain.  You know, like how it would feel if you fell on your knee.  (Exactly how it would feel if you fell on your knee.  I used to ice skate, you know.)  I went home and elevated it and put ice on it and dealt with it just how I would have if there had been an actual injury, although there wasn't one.  (I'm certain I would have remembered falling on my knee.)

Next day, totally normal.  Right as rain.  I even went on a walking tour that morning and there was no problem at all.  Chalked it up to Random Weird Pain and forgot about it.

Cut to Sunday.  I'm getting dressed.  I put on a skirt and it strikes me that flat shoes would be a bad idea.  I slip on my boots (nice heel) and head on out.  To the theatre.

And it's like a replay of Friday.  I didn't do much walking -- just sitting there in the theatre.  And my knee started hurting again.  Thinking back, I'd been wearing some shoes with heels on Friday, too.  Seems like there's something about wearing a high heel that whacks my knee out of alignment and causes pain.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.  And if anyone even thinks the word "arthritis" in my direction, I'm lopping off heads.


Sunday, November 14, 2004

This Week's Homework -- The Living Room Concert

Better late than never, I present my answer to this week's homework, in which Scalzi asks:

Weekend Assignment #33: You can have any person, past or present, sing any song for you that you want. What is the song, and who is singing it for you?

Extra credit: Name a singer you wish you could sing like, but can't. So that means even those of you with excellent voices have to pick someone you can't sing like.

All righty then.  It's something of a two-parter, as I couldn't really decide.  I mean, my favorite singer in the whole wide world is an Australian musical theatre type named Anthony Warlow, about whom I drooled in an entry last year.  (He's really, really good.  Pull up this link to his "Jekyll & Hyde" on Amazon and listen to the sample from, say, track 2.)  So my first thought is that I'd want Anthony Warlow to sing for me -- and, frankly, I don't care what, although I'd lean toward something Sondheim-y.

And then I thought -- well, that's all well and good, but if I had one person come into my living room and perform for me, it would have to be...  well, did you know that Hugh Jackman won a Tony this year for a musical called "The Boy from Oz" in which he played Peter Allen?  And he did a great big booty-shaking finale of "I Go to Rio"?  You put Hugh Jackman in my living room performing "I Go to Rio" and I don't think I'd stop smiling for weeks.

As for the extra credit, I, um, can't sing.  It's horrible for someone who loves musical theatre as much as I do.  I would love to be able to perform, but I completely lack the ability.  But when I sing along with recordings in the privacy of my own car, I prefer the great big songs and imagine I have a great big voice.  So, I think I'd like to sing like someone like Cher -- she might not be so hot at the delicate interpretive moments, but that girl can belt.

Thanks and "Hi"

Firstly, a big thanks to Anna for plugging me in her journal.  And also a thanks to everyone who dropped by because of the aforementioned plug.  Thanks for visiting.  Feel free to poke around.  I love company.

I also appreciate all of the comments (sympathetic and, er, gently mocking) regarding my unfortunate hair growth situation.  (Hormones?!  You say it's hormones?  But, but, but ... I shouldn't be producing the type of hormone that puts hair on your chin.  Isn't that one usually, y'know, confined to folks with a Y-chromosone?)

The entries around here aren't always like that (my next post -- the answer to this week's assignment -- is gonna be a little obscure), but, rest assured, I'm certain some other embarassing moment is waiting just around the corner for your reading pleasure.  :)



Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Bearded Lady

All right.  I'll admit it.

Every once in a while, we delicate female types occasionally will sprout a hair upon our chins.

A single, lonely little hair.

We pluck it out before anyone notices.

The other day, while washing my face before bed, I noticed such a hair. 

It was about two-and-half inches long.

No, it wasn't the cat's.  It was clearly growing out of my chin.  And, given its length, it must have been at it for a long time.

This concerned me.  Have I been walking around with this big old hair sticking out of my chin for the past six months?  (Have all of my close friends been too polite to mention it?)  Lord, it must've been there during the job interview.  "Gee, she seems like a good worker, but did you notice that huge hair growing from her chin?"  "Give her the job, and try to slip her a pair of tweezers."

Oh man.  I'm dying of shame just thinking about it.  I have therefore chosen to believe that, in violation of everything I know about the science of hair growth, the damn thing just sprung up overnight.  (It was probably stress related.)  That's right.  I had the follicular equivalent of "Jack and the Beanstalk" on my face. 

Yes.  It was magic.  Yuh-huh.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

On the Road This Morning

As I'm driving down the freeway this morning, I feel something itching at the front of my neck.  I reach my hand in there to scratch and find the tag of my sweater.  In the front.

I am wearing my sweater backwards.


I need to turn it around.

I figure I can do this while driving.  I pull my left arm out of the sleeve.  I reach it out the bottom of the sweater so's I can still steer.  I then pull my right arm out of my sleeve.  I grab my sweater and prepare to swivel it around 180 degrees when...

...I see the motorcycle cop.

Real quick, I pull the sweater down.  My arms are still coming out the bottom and the sleeves are fluttering around with no arms in them, but I'm trying to act as normal as possible.  As though everyone drives with their elbows pinned to their waist and their hands poking out the bottom of their shirt.

The cop continues on his way without incident.  As soon as traffic backed up, I took both hands off the wheel, swiveled my sweater and jammed my arms into the proper sleeves.  By the time I was finished, traffic had already started moving.

But not in my lane.

The car in front of me wasn't moving.

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure the driver was watching me in his rear-view mirror.


Reason #12 Why I Miss My Old Boss

My old boss was a person of the female persuasion, while my new boss is not.

Thus, my new boss will not accept the following excuse:

"Sorry I was late, but my boots made this outfit look slutty, so I had to hunt down a clean pair of nylons."





I Wuv My Bed

I do.  I wuv it so much, I try to extend my time in it.  Every morning, when I wake up, I let the cat in, and she jumps on the bed for a morning pet-fest.  Then I reach into the nightstand, take out my laptop, toss it on the bed, and do my morning e-mail check.  (Usually the cat is in my arms at this point, kneading on my arm.  She chose to curl up on the other side of the bed today, which freed up my arms to type this entry.)

The whole process is about an extra half hour in bed.  It's not sleep; it's just me snuggled under the warm cozy blankets, listening to the radio and enjoying the pleasures of cat and modern technology. 

No wonder I'm always late for work.

Monday, November 8, 2004

Oh. My.

Er, I just poked around the internet on tire separations.

Forget the whole "thank goodness I wasn't majorly inconvenienced" thing.  Seems I was incredibly lucky that I did not, in fact, lose control of my car when the tire separated on the freeway.


Thank you, Fate

Around 4:00 today, I realized I had a couple more hours of reading to do at work.  I went to the vending machines to buy a Coke, figuring I'd need it to get through the work.

By the time I returned to my desk with my 75-cent Coke, I decided I was a total idiot.  I could just take that work HOME at read it from my sofa.  Where I could have all the Coke I want, a cute kitten nearby, and a raging fire in the fireplace.  Not to mention avoiding all the traffic -- which looked to be bad as it was threatening rain.

So, I put the Coke in the conference room fridge, packed up, and drove home.

On the freeway, five miles or so from home, my car starts vibrating.  Bouncing a bit at every revolution of the tires, as if I have a flat.  It starts softly, but at freeway speeds, it gets pretty intense.

Intense enough that I think I ought to stop off at a service station once I get off the freeway.

I keep going, and, as the vibrating continues, I start to wonder whether cruising along at 60 miles an hour isn't such a hot idea under these conditions.  The car doesn't seem to really ENJOY these speeds, and I'm thinking I ought to, y'know, humor it.

I pull over into the slow lane and tool along just around 50.  I'm about 3 miles from home.  I wonder if I ought to punch my hazard lights, drop to about 30, and inch my way off the nearest offramp.

I'm just about to go for the hazard lights when I hear a POP from my tire.  I grab the wheel really tight waiting for the inevitable spin-out from a blown tire, but my car keeps going straight.  Just with lots more vibrating.  And a very soft ringing metal sound, as if my hubcap or wheel is actually INVOLVED in the driving process now.

I get the heck off the freeway, pull over at the nearest curb, and inspect my tires.

Look, I'll be the first to admit I don't know all that much about cars.  But I *do* know the difference between a flat tire and a non-flat tire, and, well, this tire wasn't flat. 

I even poked at it a little.  Looked normal.

I get back in the car and get back on the freeway.  I continue the two miles to my exit with no further incident, and pull into the gas station.

Gas station guy asks if he can help.  Why yes, he can.  My car feels like I'm driving on a flat, but the tire isn't flat.  He takes it for a test cruise around the block.  We're barely out of the driveway when he says, "You've got a separated tire."  This, I'm told, is what happens when the rubber on your tire just splits.  I need a new tire.

Gas station guy sends me to Discount Tire Center just down the street.  Tire Center Guy charges me about $72 for a new tire installed while I wait.  He says there's just enough time for him to replace the tire before they close at 6:00. 

I sit in his waiting room, doing my reading for work.  And I think about what a phenomenally GOOD thing it was that I left work early today.  Imagine how much more fun this would have been if my tire had separated after dark, while driving in the rain, and I hadn't diagnosed it until long after the Tire Center had closed.  The mind boggles. 

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice...

Saw the preview for the next Star Wars movie, and damn if it wasn't all that and a tub of popcorn.  Looked like it had everything I wanted in the movie -- good plot, really awesome battle sequences, lots of action, lots of pathos, and James Earl Jones (who I hope will take over relatively early in the movie, rather than having a final now-he's-Darth-Vader cameo).

I'm trying not to get excited about it, though.  I mean, I liked the previews for the other prequels well enough, and those films kinda, y'know, blew.  I've got to keep reminding myself that just because Lucas can snip together two and half minutes of movie to make an exciting trailer, doesn't mean the other ninety-five minutes of movie won't be dominated by Jar-Jar Binks or the worst romantic dialogue in filmmaking history.  Heck, for all I know, it could be Jar-Jar Binks delivering the bad romantic dialogue.

Based on track record, I have to assume this movie is going to be just as bad as the others, until I hear otherwise.

But my inner geek is still psyched.

Saturday, November 6, 2004

This week's homework -- I'm the boss

I was very tempted to skip this week's homework assignment.  I've been holding my tongue on a lot of political-type things because I like to think of my journal as a happy friendly place for childhood stories and kitten pictures.  But, y'know, what the heck.  This is what I think.  Dissenting comments are always welcome -- but remember, if you don't keep it civil, I have the delete button and I'm not afraid to use it.

This week's assignment, then...

Weekend Assignment #32: Congratulations! The American People have elected you President -- for one day. You are allowed to make one Executive Order. What is it? What can you do with your executive order? Why, anything you want (which is a little more power than the real President gets) I was going to make the proviso that your executive order can't run contrary to the US Constitution or any major Supreme Court decision in the last 30 years or so, but you know what? Most of you are grownups. I'm going to make the assumption that you can handle supreme executive power responsibly. So, no limits. You make the call.

Extra Credit: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America's highest civilian honor. Give it to someone.

My one and only executive order would be the following six words:

"America is not a Christian nation."

By this I mean to address the recent disturbing trend of politicians (and citizens) to seek to govern this country by their interpretation of the Bible.  I am of the opinion that there is absolutely no place for that sort of thing in this country.  The document that we should be looking to for guidance is the Constitution, not the Bible.

I don't mean to say anything against Christianity or Christians.  One of the founding premises of this country is religious freedom, and I'm all for it.  I'm a big supporter of faith and I heartily respect the people who choose to live their lives as they believe God would have them do so.  But there's a big difference between that and trying to impose one's own religiously-based moral or ethical judgments on the rest of the country, and I'm having none of the latter. 

I used to think such an executive order would not be necessary.  I mean, the First Amendment is pretty clear about Congress making no law establishing a religion.  But it appears that certain folks in power (and others with political clout) are starting to think that Congress can legislate from the point of view of a particular Biblical interpretation.  That's not what our country is about.  There's a little principle in there about protection from tyranny of the majority -- and even when it is a well-meaning, faith-based majority that truly believes in the righteousness of its position, that majority has just got to suck it up and "live and let live."

In practice, what my executive order means is religious-based decision-making should have no place in legislation, judicial decisions or judicial appointments.  You want to argue against abortion, or gay marriage, or stem-cell research?  Fine, be my guest.  You want to argue your religious objections to these things while discussing them with friends, family and strangers on AOL-J?  Knock yourself out.  I would never dream of restricting anyone's speech, religious-based or no.  But when Congress gets down to actually making laws about these things, arguments based on religious authority have no place in the debate, and should carry no weight.

As for the extra credit, I would give the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gavin Newsom.  The Medal of Freedom was given to Rosa Parks in 1996, for sparking the civil rights movement by an act of civil disobedience.  I hope that, someday, our nation looks back on what Mayor Newsom did for gay marriage the same way.

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

The Long-Awaited Pumpkin Photo

And the equally long-awaited pumpkin story.

I hadn't carved a pumpkin in years.  I think the last time I carved a pumpkin was, um, when I didn't carve it.  One year, when I was, oh, in junior high, I had a sleep-over party just after Halloween.  And all my friends had our sleeping bags stretched out in the living room, and we all got in the bags and went to sleep.

And, in the middle of the night, we heard something.  Something weird.  Something ... deflating.  In the darkness, I reached my hand over to a nearby shelf and felt something wet.  I screamed.  Turns out an uncarved pumpkin -- leftover from Halloween -- was giving up the ghost then and there.  It had sprung a leak and begun oozing out the bottom.  Scared the bejeezus out of us.  And it was pretty gross, too.

I don't think I carved a pumpkin since then.  There have been major improvements in pumpkin-carving technology in the interim.  My last jack-o-lantern had triangle eyes and a smile with three teeth.  (And my dad had to carve the round part of the smile.)  Now, kids use stencils and pumpkin-carving knives and end up making silhouettes of rock stars.

This year, I downloaded a stencil.  I still didn't have a pumpkin-carving knife, but I did have knives of different widths and other kitchen tools at my disposal.  And the product of my efforts ......

That's a cat, in case you can't tell.  I blame the photo and not my carving skills.  I tried to take the picture in the dark, so you could see the creepy orange glow in its eyes, but my camera has a very enthusiastic flash (and by the time I realized the problem, I'd already, um, tossed the pumpkin).

STILL, I am inordinately proud of it.  For my very first grown-up pumpkin, it's not bad.

Things I Am Peeved About This Morning -- Part Two

(The non-election part.)

1.  Last night, I tried to post a photo of my pumpkin to the journal.  Couldn't do it.  AOL said I could not access FTP.  Peeved.

2.  This morning, I heard that "Big Ol' Jet Airliner" song, and they just skipped the record at the naughty word.  I heard "funky [click] going down in the city."  Very peeved.

3.  Welcome screen advertising on AOL?!!  I can't read my mail without seeing the Ford Commercial (and hunting for the "close" button in tiny type at the bottom of the screen).  Look, the banner ads and pop-ups are irritating enough, but you do NOT mess with a woman's morning email check.  Amazingly peeved.  I've seen the TV ads.  AOL says that they listen if any member has an idea for how to make the internet better.  OK, here's an idea -- LET ME READ MY MAIL WITHOUT HAVING TO CLICK THROUGH AN AD!

Things I Am Peeved About This Morning -- Part One

To be clear -- I am disappointed in, not peeved about, the election results.  I would have very much (very very much) liked to have seen a different result.  I'm, in fact, very nervous, in a lot of ways, for the direction in which this country is going.  But, again, not peeved.  People voted, the votes were counted, we've got a result.  I believe in the system, and take some level of comfort in the fact that it worked.

There are things I am peeved about, however.

-I'm peeved that after all of the attempts of MTV, Michael Moore, and the "Vote or Die" campaign, all things considered, the number of 18-24 year-olds who voted is about the same as it was last time.

-I'm peeved that my political party did not nominate an electable candidate.  I blame Iowa.

-No, really.  I'm not so much peeved at the electoral vote system -- what I'm peeved at is the PRIMARY system.  Specifically, the non-simultaneous-primary system, by which people in just a few states are given an inordinate amount of power over deciding who the parties will actually run.

-I'm peeved at the exit polls, which predicted results before voting had closed in some states.  And were extraodinarily wrong.

-I'm also peeved at the pre-vote polls.  A few years ago, we had a proposition on the California ballot -- can't remember what it was -- might have been the one to eliminate affirmative action.  Pre-election polls said it was a dead heat, too close to call.  (Ditto the exit polls.)  But when we actually voted, it won by a landslide.  The talking heads concluded that people lied to pollsters -- they were too embarassed to admit they were voting for the option that was considered "politically incorrect."  But in the privacy of the voting booth, they voted for it.  Where was the lesson learned from this?  I am peeved that the pollsters are still relying on the old paradigms and not trying to account for the fact that people tend to lie when they're voting for what appears to be an unpopular option.  (And if they can't account for it, they ought to just give the heck up.)

Monday, November 1, 2004

This Space for Whining

So, this day was my first day with my new boss (my old boss inconveniently retiring).  It was going pretty well -- despite the rather large amount of work he gave me -- until about 4:30 when I kind of, um, accidentally deleted the entire document I'd been working on all day. 

Took me a little bit of time to recreate it.  Ended up not going home until about 8:00.

Logged on and tried a journal entry (about my Halloween and the cool pumpkin I carved).  Midway through, my hand skipped, hit a bizarre key combination, and ended up not only deleting the entry but also disconnecting me from AOL entirely.

Came online again, frustrated, to write this entry.  Got a few lines into it when the phone rang.  Picked up the phone.  Computer went to sleep.  By the time I hung up, I came back on to finish the entry.  AOL appeared to be connected, but when I tried to do anything, I got a Host Not Responding error.

Screw it.  I'm going to sleep.