Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mary McCarthy's Memorial Service

I'm packing up a bunch of my books, so that my shelves will look less overstuffed when I'm showing my condo.  I thought it best to pack up my law books, in particular.  Thought I might get a better price if the buyers don't figure I'm a lawyer.  ;)

And in the middle of my law books, I found a thin little booklet, from the 1990 Memorial Service for Mary Abigail McCarthy.

She was a Clinical Professor at my law school -- which means she led some of the law school's clinical programs, where students represented clients under her supervision.  I didn't take her class.  I never even knew the woman.  But when she died, at only 41, of pancreatic cancer, I attended the memorial service in our law school auditorium.

I don't remember many of the speakers, but one of them has stayed with me these sixteen years.  Martha Flanders (whose name I credit here, since I'm about to quote her) was a close friend of Mary's, and a fellow student when Mary was in law school.  She told the following story (conveniently reprinted in the booklet):

Mary was the epitome of a person who, to use the European expression, is comfortable within her own skin.  I remember an introductory class in federal income tax, our 'favorite' course.  Our earnest young Professor Rollins was lecturing on the method of determining federal tax.  He was droning on and on about gross income, exemptions, adjusted gross income, deductions, and applicable tax rates, and simultaneously illustrating his lecture on the blackboard with an elaborate and incomprehensible calculation.

All at once, a voice in the middle distance intoned, 'Halt!'

Professor Rollins turned around, and Mary said, 'You lost me.'

Professor Rollins turned back to the blackboard, leaned down, and started going through his calculations from the bottom.  'Now, where did I lose you?  Here?' and he pointed to the bottom-most figure.

'No,' came the reply.

'Here?' He pointed to the next figure.

'No,' came the reply.

'Here?' he asked, hopefully.

And each time the reply was 'No, further back.'

Finally, Mary took pity on the young professor and said dryly, 'Perhaps you should begin at the beginning.'

Mary was sure enough of her intelligence to know that if she wasn't learning, it wasn't being taught.

I kid you not -- I have remembered (and even recounted) this story for sixteen years.  I remember it whenever I feel clueless when someone is explaining something to me -- and I think about Mary McCarthy and scrape up the confidence to say, "You lost me."

It's a little unusual, I guess, to be guided in life by a remembrance of someone I never knew.  Then again, maybe that's just a teensy bit of what a memorial service is supposed to do.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The NEXT thing I'm insanely proud of



The TV Show Meme

I rarely do memes around here, but I saw this one over at The Daily Snooze and just had to play:

The instructions are simple: change the color and/or boldface the shows you've watched at least three complete episodes of, and Bold and Italicize a show if you're certain you've seen every episode of it. You can add up to three shows to the list, but keep them in alphabetical order.


3rd Rock from the Sun

7th Heaven


Aeon Flux


Alfred Hitchcock Presents



Alien Nation

Allo Allo

American Idol/Pop Idol/Canadian Idol/Australian Idol

America's Next Top Model/Germany's Next Top Model


Arrested Development

Babylon 5

Babylon 5: CrusadeBattlestar


Battlestar Galactica (the old one)

Battlestar Galactica (the new one)



Beauty & the Beast

Beavis & Butthead

The Ben Stiller Show

Beverly Hills 90210




Bosom Buddies

Boston Legal

Boy Meets World

Brady Bunch

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Bug Juice

Chappelle's Show

Charlie's Angels



China Beach


Commander in Chief


Cowboy Bebop

Crossing Jordan


CSI: Miami


Curb Your Enthusiasm


Dancing with the Stars

Danny Phantom

Dark Angel

Dark Skies

Davinci's Inquest

Dawson's Creek

Dead Like Me

Deadliest Catch


Degrassi: The Next Generation

Designing Women

Desperate Housewives

Dharma & Greg

Diff'rent Strokes

Doctor Who (new Who)

Doctor Who (series 1-26)


Due South

Dungeons and Dragons


Earth 2

Earth - Final Conflict





Escape From Planet Earth


Everybody Loves Raymond

Facts of Life

Falcon Crest

Family Guy

Family Ties

Fantasy Island


Fawlty Towers



Flamingo Road



Full House


Get Smart

Gilligan's Island

Gilmore Girls

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

Green Wing

Grey's Anatomy

Growing Pains


Happy Days

Head of the Class



Hill Street Blues

Hogan's Heroes

Home Improvement

Homicide: Life on the Street


I Dream of Jeannie

I Love Lucy

Invader Zim


Iron Chef (Japan)

Iron Chef (USA)






John Doe

Kath and Kim

Knight Rider

Knots Landing

La Femme Nikita

LA Law


Laverne and Shirley

Law & Order

Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Law & Order: SVU

Little House on the Prairie

Lizzie McGuire

Logan's Run

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman


Lost in Space

Love, American Style



Magnum P.I.

Malcolm in the Middle

Married...With Children

Melrose Place

Miami Vice


Mission Impossible



Mork & Mindy

Murphy Brown

My Family

My Favorite Martian

My Life as a Dog

My Mother the Car

My So-Called Life

My Three Sons

My Two Dads

Mysterious Cities of Gold


Night Court


Northern Exposure


One Tree Hill


Parker Lewis Can't Lose

Perfect Strangers

Perry Mason

Picket Fences

Pirates of Darkwater


Power Rangers

Prison Break


Project Blue Book ("Project UFO" in UK)

Project Runway


Quantum Leap

Queer As Folk (US)

Queer asFolk (British)

Queer Eye For The Straight Guy


Remington Steele

Rescue Me

Road Rules




Samurai Jack

Sanford & Son

Saved by the Bell

Scarecrow and Mrs. King

Scooby-Doo Where Are You?



Sex and the City

Six Feet Under


Slings and Arrows


Small Wonder

So Weird

Sonny Spoon

South Park

Space 1999


Spongebob Squarepants

Sports Night

Square Pegs

St. Elsewhere

Star Trek

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Star Trek: Voyager

Star Trek: Enterprise

Stargate Atlantis

Stargate SG-1






Teen Titans


That Girl

That 70's Show

That's So Raven

The 4400

The Addams Family

The Andy Griffith Show

The A-Team

The Avengers

The Beverly Hillbillies

The Bionic Woman

The Book of Daniel

The Colbert Report

The Cosby Show

The Daily Show

The Dead Zone

The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Dukes of Hazard

The Ed Sullivan Show

The Flintstones

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Golden Girls

The Greatest American Hero

The Jetsons

The L Word

The Love Boat

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

The Mighty Boosh

The Monkees

The Munsters

The Mythbusters

The O.C.

The Office (UK)

The Office (US)

The Outer Limits

The Pretender

The Prisoner

The Real World

The Shield

The Simpsons

The Six Million Dollar Man

The Sopranos

The Suite Life of Zack and Cody

The Twilight Zone

The Waltons

The West Wing

The Wild Wild West

The Wonder Years

The X-Files

Third Watch


Three's Company

Top Gear

Twin Peaks

Twitch City

Upstairs, Downstairs


Veronica Mars


What Not To Wear (US)

What Not To Wear (UK)

Whose Line is it Anyway? (US)

Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK)


Will & Grace


Wonder Woman

Xena: Warrior Princess

Young Hercules

If you wish to play along -- and if you're reading this, consider yourself so challenged -- the easiest way to do so is to copy the list above to TypePad or NotePad so that the boldface or italicized formatting will not copy with it, then you can adjust as necessary on your own blog.

Y'know, what I found downright scary about this is how many hours I must have spent watching TV.

White Noise

Every couple of weeks, I have to do some boring work (using the computer).  It's actually mind-numbingly dull, and generally takes a couple hours.  Last week, I hadn't done it in quite some time, so I had about six hours to do.

I am not the sort who works well in silence.  OK, not true.  I proofread in silence.  But anything other than that generally needs some background noise.  And it's generally not the highest quality background noise either.  The other day, at work, I noticed that I was bopping around in my chair to some tunes on my iPod.  And then I acknowledged to myself that I was actually boogie-ing to "Word Up" by Cameo.  It's extremely good music to work to, but it isn't like I'd want to go to a Cameo concert and just appreciate the fine quality tuneage.  I just need something to be going on in the background to drown out nearby office sounds, and also to drown out the boredom.

Now, when I'm doing this update thing online, I generally put the TV on in the background.  But it's during the weekends, when TV is a vast wasteland of stuff I couldn't possibly want to even listen to -- and, what's worse, I don't have cable in the room with my computer.  So it's about ten broadcast channels of crap.  About a year ago, I bought a real cheap (thank you, Target) DVD player and hooked it up in here.  This has helped a lot.  Lately, I've been working while the TV played Rattle & Hum (Kinda like listening to a U2 album -- but with visuals!), and Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.  But really, even Bono and the Oompa Loompas (now would that be a great title for a band or what?) grow stale after awhile, and I needed something to keep me busy for six hours before I was even willing to attempt the project.

I ran out to Best Buy and searched the DVDs.  I didn't know exactly what I was looking for, but I figured I'd know it when I saw it.  Something that I'd seen before.  Something that wouldn't be affirmatively distracting, but which could go on in the background and help the time fly by.  Something I could look at when my eyes needed a break, and not feel like I'd need to go back to the beginning and give it my full undivided attention to appreciate it.  Something like...

Oh wow.  That's it.  That's exactly it.

The Die Hard trilogy.  On sale for $19.99.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Home Improvement Update

Last week, I cleaned out the cabinet in my dining room.  It was an extremely orderly process.  I boxed up all the videotapes; I boxed up a bunch of my snowglobes; I took the boxes to storage; I found nice new display and/or hiding places for everything else.  This way, once the place is recarpeted, I can re-place a few choice knick-knacks, and the room will be ready to show when I put my condo on the market.

Ah, memories.

The carpet guys are installing the new carpet on Thursday.  Today, to review, is Tuesday.  Other than one more box of books, I have not done anything else in the way of tidy packing.

No more time for that.  I have a few hours tonight and a few hours tomorrow night.  And a ton of stuff to get out of the way.  I opened up a box and just threw stuff in it.  Some of it is stuff that will go into storage; some of it I'll need Friday.  No time to sort.  No time to even sort out the stuff I should be throwing out.  Just throw it all in the box.  All of it. 

And roll the chairs and the filing cabinet into my bedroom (because that's not getting recarpeted).  And bring in the lamps.  Right now, there's a pile of junk the length of my bed running down one side of said bed.  Tomorrow night, I'll bring more stuff in on the other side.  But it's ok if I trap my bed -- just as long as I get all the stuff off the carpet and still leave a clear path so Jasmine can get to her litter box.

Poor Jas -- I'm gonna have to lock her in that very same bedroom while the carpet is being installed.  Ideally, I'll move her food in there too, but I don't think I'll have a scrap of floor left to put it down on.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

When Actors Attack

Saw a play today.  (I do that.  It's that whole theatre critic thing.)

The play was, "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade" (or "Marat/Sade" to its friends).

So, I mean, it is supposed to take place in an insane asylum.  The theatre itself has a big open space where the actors act, and seats elevated a few feet up, on three sides around the stage.  To enhance the whole asylum thing, the seats have been fenced off from the actors.  I was sitting right in front, on the center aisle (they kindly set aside a nice seat for me) so there was a padded railing to my left and a chain link fence in front of me.  Neither was high enough to block my view or anything, but they definitely created a feeling like we were caged in.

At times, the actors in front of me, who were (remember) playing insane people, would stand on benches right on the other side of the chain link fence, and lean on the fence towards us.  This was meant to be somewhat surprising and intrusive, but, y'know, I'm a well-trained theatregoer.  I know that the fence in front of me isn't going to fall down and result in an actor in my lap.  They've practiced this, y'know.  In fact, today was closing night.  They've done this show for weeks and there have been no reports of injury.  So, I mean, I didn't even flinch.

And then a character went crazy in the center aisle, so was banging on the padded railing to my left.  It was around this point, as the railing kept bumping me in the arm, that I realized the railing only LOOKED padded -- it was just a wooden railing with some fabric wrapped around the top.  The actor pounded on it some more and my whole seat shook.  Hey, whatever.  It's all part of theatre.  I didn't even flinch.

At the end of the show, things get a little ... out of control ... in the asylum.  One inmate charges the fence directly in front of me.  I still don't flinch.

I remain not flinching when the fence accidentally breaks free from its attachments, bends forward, and whacks me in the knee.  It remains there at a jaunty angle.  The next actor coming in our direction has the presence of mind to rip the fence down completely.  Now every other person in the audience is nicely caged in, while me and the two people sitting next to me are in front of a torn-down fence, eyebrows raised.

After the show, as the actors exit out the center aisleway, the one who'd knocked the fence over (and a couple others) come by to apologize to the three of us.

Of course, while everyone else has to exit by walking to the nearest opening in their fence, me and my seat-mates can just jump right down since our barricade is no longer there.  We're told to make sure we don't step on the nails (which had come flying out when the fence came down).

Nice to see actors so committed to their performance.  Besides, it's just a scratch.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm Insanely Proud of This

So, you're walking down my hallway, minding your own business, and you see this:

Whatever could it be?  Pull aside the curtain, et voila --

Yes, kids, I'm hiding my washing machine!  (And, yes, I'm also switching digital cameras.  The second pic has the accurate color.)

When I moved into my condo, my washer was hidden by a bi-fold door.  Which kept falling off its track.  I had it fixed twice, and the damn thing fell off again just a few days after each repair.  When I had the place painted, I put the door out on the balcony.  And left it there.  And then it rained.  And the door, which had been in pretty bad shape to begin with, started actually falling apart.  I ultimately tossed the door.

So, for the past few years, my washing machine was just sitting in a cubby in my hallway.  I never even thought twice about it, but the real estate agents who came over to give me estimates on my place suggested that I might want to, y'know, cover that up.  Said perhaps the place wouldn't show all that well with a washer/dryer just standing to your left as you walk down the hallway.

And so ... went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and purchased (and installed) the ensemble you see in them photos.

I am particularly proud of the curtain's color.  Or, I should say, the curtains' color, as I achieved that little glimmering-bronze-with-a-hint-of-pink thing by putting a cheapo tan curtain on top of a cheapo pink curtain.  The tan is suitably neutral, and the pink foreshadows the one pink-colored wall I have in the living room.  (And what's scary is that I actually planned that.)

Check one more thing off the prepare-my-place-for-market list.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Cautious Blogger Don't Blog

I reckon I'll be taking another blogging hiatus around February this year, as my producing-partner and I will be producing our theatre awards show again this year.  I hardly blogged about it at all last year -- other than a brief explanation of why I wasn't around, and an expression of total joy when it was over. 

I mostly didn't blog about it because I didn't have the time -- but also because I didn't want to blog about it in the off-chance someone who knew about it actually read it.  I very much doubt any of my regular readers are the folks I happen to be doing business with in the real world -- but, like, when we were having trouble getting our license to sell beer and wine, I wouldn't want any negative thoughts I might have had on the topic being read by someone who happened to have a second-cousin who is friends with a guy at Alcohol Beverage Control, if you get what I'm saying.  I think it's safest to assume that your 'blog is being read by the last person on earth you want to read it, and to withhold information accordingly. 

Co-producing an awards show is a very stressful business.  People tend to piss you off.  I will therefore say no more about it.  :)

Similarly, I've been a little tight-lipped about discussing my whole sell-condo-buy-house thing, because I'm, er, a little pissed off at some folks involved in the process.  And while writing about it and sharing it with you all would be cathartic for me (and perhaps a cautionary tale for you), it seems the more prudent course is to not identify any homes I may be interested in purchasing (and certainly not how much I'd be willing to pay for them) nor any of the players who happen to be ANNOYING ME just now.  Just on the really really really really off-chance that word got back to the people word shouldn't get back to.

I've read enough horror stories about 'blog content getting read by people it wasn't meant to be read by to know it's best not to risk it.  Which probably explains why people blog about their cats so much.

I Will Not Write A Weight Loss Blog. I Will Not Write A Weight Loss Blog...

OK, let's just take a minute to celebrate my belt.

Years back, I got a really nice Coach belt for a holiday present.  It was a medium.  I was a small.  I could sorta wear it -- on the tightest of five holes -- and there was still a little room between me and it.

By the time my little weight-loss journey started, I was wearing it (if at all) on the fifth hole -- the loosest one.

Today, I put the belt on, and I'm right at the middle hole.  Woo!  Tangible evidence of weight loss.

The less tangible evidence is that my scale, which isn't the most accurate thing on earth, is pretty sure I've lost six pounds and is contemplating 7 or 8.  I'm extremely happy about this.  Extremely.  Eight pounds down is a number I've never even seen since the time I bought the scale, so the fact that my scale is toying with showing it to me is a real big incentive to stick with the Weight Loss Plan.

I think the biggest surprise that I've learned during this whole weight gain/weight loss thing is how much of a difference a few pounds makes.  Especially on a person of my diminuitive stature.

Eight pounds down is, apparently, a solid "medium" waist, as opposed to a large one.  Eight pounds down is, according to the Body Mass Index, no longer "overweight" but at the very tippy top of "normal weight." 

Most importantly, it is two pounds away from ten pounds down.  I've decided to adopt the idea I saw when Queer Eye for the Straight Guy did a weight loss episode, and give myself a "spa treatment" treat for each ten pounds I lose.  (Makes more sense than a food reward.)

I am sure this weight loss thing would be going even better if my ankle wasn't holding me up in terms of exercising, but I'm still eating (and sleeping) way healthier and so far (knock wood) that seems to be doing the trick.  :)

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Before Beginning Any Exercise Program, Consult Your Physician

I am so annoyed.

OK, in case you aren't as caught up in my life as I am, here's the background.  About three years ago, I pulled a ligament in my foot.  I was ice skating regularly at the time, but I didn't hurt myself skating.  It was, instead, a freak theatre-going injury.  (Wore high boots, twisted ankle off of them.  Repeated about 6 times during the course of the same day.)  Anyway, I'd thought it was a strain or a sprain or something, but it didn't stop hurting, so I went to a Podiatrist, who said I'd pulled my ligament.  He told me to stop skating and wear a sports brace for six weeks.  At the end of the six weeks, he pronounced me "as cured as you're going to be" -- said my ligament was back at about 90% of what it had been before.  He said I could skate again, but warned me if I hurt it again, it probably wouldn't heal back to its then 90% status.

I tried skating, but I was so worried about re-injuring the ligament, I was really tentative and cautious -- and, as a result, skating was no fun.

Fast forward a couple years.  When I went with friends to Park City, I went skating for the first time in a very long time.  And it was great.  Ankle didn't hurt at all.  Thought I might look into skating again regularly.  In the meantime, I walk a lot with my neighbors, and always take the stairs and stuff for fitness.

Fast forward to my weekend away with dad at the healthy fitness resorty place.  When I met with the exercise physiologist, she told me to keep walking with the neighbors.  I'd mentioned the ligament injury and how that had kept me from skating, so she recommended the purchase of a "rock board" -- she said using it would strengthen the muscles in my ankle to compensate for the weak ligament, making it even safer for me to return to skating.  Sounded great.  I bought the rock board. 

Their shoe guy also recommended I buy them nice (expensive) new shoes with good arch support, because I pronate when I walk and this is likely negatively affecting my knees.  So, I bought the shoes. 

Every day, I either walk with my neighbors (wearing my new shoes) or do my ankle exercises on the rock board.

Until last week.  Last week, I went for a nice long walk with my neighbor, wearing my nice new arch-supporty shoes.  I even kept the shoes on for the next couple hours.  Got home and my ligament was killing me.  Ow.  Ow.  Ow.

And it hasn't stopped.  I don't know whether to blame the rock board or the new shoes or something else entirely.  All I know is that my stupid ligament is stupid reinjured stupid worse than it stupid was the stupid first time.  I've started wearing the brace again, and I hope it's helping (but it hasn't been that long so it's kinda hard to tell).  I think it would probably be a good idea to give up on the rock board ankle exercises until such time as someone other than an Exercise Physiologist with whom I've spoken for all of 20 minutes tells me that it's medically okay to use.  But what really roasts my cookies about the whole thing is that I can't even walk with my neighbors anymore, because I'm wearing the brace all the time, and that isn't particularly conducive to long walks.  Or stairs.  (Or going to Disneyland.) 

So, in my attempt to "strengthen the ankle muscles to compensate for the weak ligament" -- which, I hasten to add, wasn't even particularly weak at the time -- I've now killed my entire exercise program one measly month after it started.  Freakin' great.

I wuv my car

Good thing to have an SUV when you've gotta haul a bunch of stuff around.  Today's tasks included taking the first wardrobe box into my storage locker, and buying some huge plastic storage bins at The Container Store.  Both would've been impossible without the SUV.  As it was, I just plopped the seats down and had plenty of room to shove all that stuff in the back of my car.  Very cool.  (The full wardrobe box in particular never would've made it in my old car.)

Once I got the boxes home, I was delighted to discover I had guessed correctly on the size of plastic storage bin I needed.  (I believe the size in question is "big honkin'.")  But they were exactly the right size for me to fill with all of my spare bedding and linens and such.  This way, I can get all that stuff out of my closets -- and I'll have room to move all my breakables in there when the carpet installers come in a couple weeks.  Not to mention that my closets now look tidier.  I'd read that one of the things you ought to do when showing your home is to take some of the clutter out of the closets so they look bigger.  This I can do.  I need to wring every possible dollar out of this condo to get a good house, so I'm certainly going to do all necessary tidying.

Not exactly sure when I'll be able to get this stuff out to storage, though -- the facility is closed tomorrow for Labor Day and I've got shows to see Tuesday and Wednesday nights ... which basically means I'm going to have these boxes in the middle of my floor for the immediately foreseeable future.

Saw a lovely house today -- but it isn't in the running for possible purchase.  A friend and I just drove by and stopped in at the Open House, without having seen the price.  It was way outta my league.  But still good to see houses in different neighborhoods.

I can do a little more boxing up tomorrow.  I own over 20 collectible snowglobes (not the little crappy ones you get from tourist destinations, but the nice big, pretty ones -- many of mine are Disney ones).  ANYWAY, while there's no need to get them all out of here before showing the place, it wouldn't kill me to box up, say, half of them in advance.  Less to move when the carpet guys come, and I'll feel better knowing they're safe.  (I have saved all of their original boxes -- they're in my storage box in the garage.  I'll just box up the ten or so whose packaging is on the top of the stack.)

Saturday, September 2, 2006

It's Real

Once upon a time ... gosh, it was about twelve years ago ... I decided to leave the law firm at which I was employed and look for a new job.  I remember the day.  A couple of unpleasant things had happened at work that day, and, in my mind's eye, I saw an hourglass turn over.  I didn't know how much sand was in it, but I knew that when the sand ran out, I would be out of there.  Turns out, it took about four months.  But at that moment, that's when I knew that the decision to leave the firm was real and that I would be gone as soon as I'd found a better place.

I've been looking for a new house lately.  I've been thinking about selling the condo and buying a house since April.  I've been going to "open houses" for a few months, and I've had a real estate agent actually showing me stuff for about a month.  But even though, no contracts were signed -- nothing definite happened.

Today, after my agent took me to see a few more houses, I went to Home Depot and signed a contract to get my place recarpeted.  (It will cost a bit more than I'd initially thought -- because a roll of carpet is 12 feet wide and my living room is 12 1/2 feet wide -- but still.)  There will be new carpet in here in two or three weeks.

I called a handyman to make an appointment to fix all the other stuff that needs fixing before I put my place on the market.

Then, I went to the storage place and rented a storage locker.  I also bought some boxes.  Came home and packed up the first box of stuff.  Taped it shut.  Put it in my car to go into storage tomorrow.

And the hourglass turned over.