Saturday, October 31, 2009

Live Blogging Halloween

If I had a twitter feed, it would look like this....

4:30 -- Reset the lights on my garage to go on at 6:00 rather than 7:00. The damn settings on the timer are anything but user-friendly, and it involved reprogramming it fully from the start. Can’t wait till 6:00 to see if I got it right.

5:00 -- Setting out costume so I’ll be able to change into it as soon as I’m done with trick-or-treaters and head to my friend’s party.

5:15 -- Looking for nail polish to go with my costume, I spot the, er, “facial depilatory.” Realize I meant to use that this morning. Wonder how scary it would be if I answered the door with white cream on my upper lip. Give it a go, hoping that no kids come before 5:30.

5:25 -- Whew. No kids. Although I may be having an unfortunate reaction to the depilatory. Lovely. Red marks all over my upper lip. THAT’s attractive. It’ll look great at the party tonight. If I were going as a zombie. Which I’m not.

5:30 -- No kids.

5:55 -- Still no kids. I may be consuming a lot of “fun size” candies this week.

6:00 -- Garage lights on! Victory!!

6:32 -- No kids at all. Not even the little boy from across the street. If he comes, he’ll probably got a whole handful of candy.

6:37 -- Turned on porch light. Checked from window to see if it screwed up the look of the spooky things in the windows -- porch light is out. Dammit. Too late to change the bulb.

6:40 -- Eh, could probably change the bulb with light from inside the house. Get new bulb from garage.

6:41 -- Go outside to replace bulb. Bulb has broken from its base and is hanging by a thread. Sigh. Go into garage for pliers.

6:42 -- Having now mastered the correct way to use pliers to remove a broken bulb, this takes no time at all. My next-door neighbors come by to say hello, and wonder where all the kids are (as they often come in busses from other neighborhoods). They think H1N1 fears might be keeping them away.

6:42 -- Neighbors leave, bulb base removed. I go back in the house for the new bulb. Which I promptly drop and shatter on the floor.

6:43 -- Back to garage for yet another new bulb. (Note to self: Go to Costco; running low on bulbs.) Insert new bulb.

6:45 -- Back in house to vaccuum bits of broken lightbulb. Cat already had cut her paw-pad on something yesterday, I don’t need her stepping on broken glass.

6:54 -- Done with cleanup. Porch light does not affect spooky stuff in window. Ready to go. Still no kids.

6:58 -- Am watching last night’s “Numb3rs.” Enjoyed the shout-out to the “Pie & Burger.” They DO have good pie.

7:07 -- Kids! Dad with a Batman, a skeleton, and a little girl dressed as a pumpkin. Too cute.

7:08 -- My cat is giving me the “WTF?” face.

7:12 -- Return of same family -- now mom (cat make-up) and another little girl. Batman and Skeleton watched from about 10 feet back; did not try to double-dip. (!)

7:47 -- More kids. May or may not have been the same skeleton; I’ve sort of lost track. But I’ve got to head off to the party, so didn’t say anything when one kid took, like, 5 candies.

7:48 -- Older kids now. One wasn’t costumed at all, but another one was in a nice chef’s outfit, carrying a lovely platter with a brain on it. Very nice work.

7:49 -- A mom with a tiny little ladybug who was too scared to even say “Trick or Treat.” (Or even “Thank you,” as her mom urged.) Sweet little thing, though.

7:50 -- Oh sure, NOW they come. Was planning to leave at 8:00 to be fashionable late to the party. Gotta eat dinner; feed the cat; and somehow put on my gypsy costume while still answering the door.

7:52 -- This last pair looked like they were eighteen? REALLY?

7:53 -- Refilled the candy bowl, as all that was left were Snickers. Note: Kids like Skittles better. (I tend to agree.)

7:55 -- Anyone seen my cat? Seriously. It’s not like her to sneak out the front door, but she’s not in her usual “the doorbell scared me” hiding place.

7:56 -- I’m used to seeing one adult with a bunch of kids -- here’s four adults with one little girl. And all of the adults have trick or treat bags!

8:01 -- Shit. Cat didn’t come out when I put out the cat food. She ALWAYS comes out when I put out the catfood. Last pair of kids were wearing signs labelled “Help the Homeless.” Tactless, maybe?

8:04 -- Damn. She’s not under any of the furniture. I’m not leaving this house till I know for sure the cat’s inside it. One of my outside motion-sensor lights is on. I hope she’s not out there.

8:07 -- I won’t freak. This is me not freaking. I know she knows more hiding places I do, but I have been opening the door an awful lot. I’ll just sit here and eat dinner and hope she shows up. Shit.

8:11 -- Four more kids. I’ve moved to the back-up bowl of candy. Still no cat.

8:16 -- Two more kids and an adult. Each kid takes one candy. The adult says, “Can I take three?” (Still no cat. The not freaking out isn’t working.)

8:24 -- More kids; more kids; no cat. I’ve got to shut down the Candy Store and get the hell out of here, but the feline hunt is still ongoing.

8:30 -- Porch light out; halloween d├ęcor put away. Closed for Business. Turned off TV so maybe I could hear the cat’s widdle bell better. “Jasmine?” “Jasmine??!!” Going to change now -- hope no damn kids come when I’m nekkid.

8:32 -- FOUND!! Kitty magically appeared while burshing teeth. Must hug her and kiss her and call her George.

I’m outta here y’all. Happy Halloween!

Feeling Grown Up

Ever since I've gotten the house, I've felt grown-up in ways I haven't before. It pretty much started before I moved in, when I'd drive by on Sunday nights just to put the trash cans out. It's a responsibility that I've never actually had before, and it's something I definitely have to do. I mean, if I miss a week, I'll have overflowing garbage for the next seven days. Nobody else is going to do it for me, and I can't just "make it up tomorrow."

Had the same feeling today when, in preparation for what may or may not be hordes of trick-or-treaters (I live in a very "holiday happy" neighborhood, so it's quite likely I'll be overrun), I went outside with a broom and actually swept up my entryway. It's been very windy of late, and the walkway to my door is sort of enclosed on three sides (well, four, if you count the skylight), so once leaves get in there, they aren't going anywhere. So, here's me with a broom, sweeping up about four dustpans full of leaves and random dirt. Because small children will be arriving soon, likely with parents in tow, and I want to make a good impression.

I don't want to say I enjoy doing chores (one look at the current state of my laundry hampers will disabuse you of that notion), but I do get a simple sort of high out of taking care of my house. Partly because it's my house, and partly because I'm doing what homeowners do.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Just a theory

I've been thinking a lot about television. Specifically, about what's on the television.

3 Law and Orders
3 CSIs
2 NCISes
Cold Case
Criminal Minds
Numb3rs
Monk
Lie to Me
The Mentalist
Castle
FlashForward
The Forgotten
24
Bones
even Psych
... and that's not even counting Cops and America's Most Wanted.


Look, I love a good police procedural as much as the next guy, but does anyone think 20 hours of these per week is a bit, well, much?

I have this theory -- it isn't a perfect theory (and it isn't a well-researched one, either) -- but I posit that there's a reason for this.

24 premiered in November 2001. And I expect the idea for that puppy had been percolating around for long before two months. But what a remarkable coincidence that shortly after terrorist attacks made everyone in America feel unsafe and uncertain, TV comes along with a freakin' Counter Terrorist Unit that is chock full of people who are able to make those hard decisions in order to get shit done. Damn. That's some good watchin' for a twitchy population.

I particularly like the idea of shows like Numb3rs and Castle, where it isn't exclusively police who are doing the crime-solving. "Yes, mathematician or novelist, you too can be part of the law enforcement effort." It's like we're all joining the same team -- and in applying our own unique talents to the problems at hand, we civilians can be just as good at crime-solving.

Think back to before 9/11. Think back to Rodney King and the riots -- and the time when we generally viewed the police with suspicion. Think about six Police Academy movies, when cops were humorously incompetent and only succeeded by accident. That sort of thing wouldn't fly now, because there's something in our collective subconscious that wants to see law enforcement be efficient and successful -- even against incredible odds.

I wonder how much longer we'll need this many shows to make us feel safe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four Hour Celebrity Countdown

Chatting with my mother (via cellphone) while driving home from work today (hands-free headpiece), she informs me that my horoscope was interesting today. ("Really? You read my horoscope?" Apparently, she does -- when the horoscopes are on the same page as the crossword.)

And, according to her local paper, today I am to have "an impact on the life of a celebrity."

My first thought was that I'd better drive extra carefully, because I imagine the most likely way I'll impact the life of a celebrity is doing 70 mph down the 210.

Well, I made it home with the A-List intact, leaving me with less than four hours to have an impact on a celebrity's life.

What was kinda funny about it is that my mother and I each had completely different takes on how what I do affects the lives of the rich and famous. I immediately thought "my day job," while she immediately thought "my evening job."

Yes, yes, I'm an A-student by day and a hooker by nig--

No, wait, that's not it. Lawyer by day; theatre critic by night. (Less, er, glamorous, I know.)

Now, as a theatre critic, I do, on occasion, review the work of famous people -- although, since when celebrities do stage work, they generally do it someplace other than an under 99-seat theatre in L.A., my reviews (which are written for a website, as opposed to one of the major newspapers) are not what they stay up late on opening night to read. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite pleased with my place in the L.A. theatrical community. (And, on occasion, I'll get some feedback indicating a show was improved by something I said, which generally makes me soar for about a week.) But one of my reviews impact the life of a celebrity? Not Bloody Likely.

As a lawyer, though -- I rarely blog about my work. In fact, I pretty much never blog about my work. I'm a happy little cog in the California wheels of justice (I would be a happier cog if we didn't have mandatory furloughs). But I'm also an anonymous cog; no documents ever leave the office with my signature on them (and I'm totally cool with that). I'm a part of the process of creating judicial opinions which interpret the law. Sometimes the cases that I work on impact only the specific parties to the case; at other times, the cases set forth general principles of law that are applicable statewide (or until a higher court says differently). So, could something I've worked on impact the life of a celebrity? Sure, it could.

Of course, I'll never know if it does. And they'll never know I was involved.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coming Clean

So, I was tipped off (by our new friend Janiece) to something called Blog Share. The concept (which I think is absolutely brilliant) is that you sign up, write an anonymous post, send it to Blog Share Central, receive in return someone else's anonymous post, and post it in your blog on Blog Share Day. In other words, you're an anonymous guest blogger at someone else's blog, while someone else is an anonymous guest blogger at your blog. You get to write something that, for one reason or another, you'd like to write, but you wouldn't necessarily want it written at your blog, where folks would know it's you. Sort of like Post Secret but on a really big postcard.

I signed up immediately. There's just so much stuff I'd like to write that would fit the bill, I couldn't decide what to write and send off to Blog Share. And then, because I'm me, I actually drafted something in which I tried to change my writing style, so that I wouldn't be recognized. (As though folks who read me here are going to go off and read every Blog Share post and try to hunt me down. Well, I hope you go off and read every Blog Share post, because I read a few from the last time this was done and they really do seem delightful.) (And there's still time for you to sign up if you're inclined to participate.)

But, here's the thing. When going through all of the random things which I could send to Blog Share, I realized that I've been holding out on you fine folks. There are definitely some things which I could blog about here, but haven't done so because they're embarrassing or silly or whatever. Well, no more. In an effort to reduce my list of Possible Things to Blog Share down to something manageable, it's time to just man up and spill. So. In no particular order:

1. Sometimes I look at my cat, and I'll be amazed that this adorable little furry being is moving around without batteries. I get all "wonder of life" about her, and then I think it's curious that I don't get that way about babies.

2. My only familiarity with current popular music is what I see on Dancing with the Stars or in TV commercials. I think Kevin Rudolf's "Let it Rock" (without the guest rapper bit) is the best song in years.

3. Sometimes I'll think, "You know, that's something I'll probably want to work out with a therapist," but I've never bothered to make an appointment.

4. You can pretty much replace "therapist" with "dentist" in the above sentence, and it will also be true.

5. There is a dress in my closet that hasn't fit in years, and has little chance of ever doing so. I keep it because it is my "lucky" dress.

6. I don't believe in fate, but I don't not believe in it either.

7. I have very flimsy curtains; I'm pretty sure the postman has seen me naked on weekends.

8. I am over 40 and still lust after cute actors. I feel better about this when I lust after actors who appear age-appropriate. (I am relieved to discover Simon Baker is just a teeny bit younger than me.)

9. I do some of my best work when I am insanely pissed off. It would be bad if my boss knew this.

10. I can't think of a tenth thing, and it's driving me as crazy Monk with a box of spilled dominoes.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Today's Lesson

After spending 20 minutes downloading AOL's software onto my computer (something I'd sworn, years ago, I'd never do again) just so I'd be able to "unsend" an email which really needed to be unsent, let me share with you the wisdom acquired by this little incident:

1. Take the high road.
2. Take the high road.
3. Always, always take the high road.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Free Toothpaste?!

I use a discontinued toothbrush -- a Sonicare Intelliclean, which was the result of some sort of partnership between Philips and Crest. It uses its own special Crest toothpaste that you sorta load into the toothbrush with little toothpaste cartridges. The toothbrushes are pretty hard to find (I had to get a replacement off eBay when my first one died), but I quite like them. For a time, finding the toothpaste was also a bit of PITA, but apparently someone has started selling it again. I'm nearly out, and I saw some toothpaste on Amazon. Great! A box of replacement cartridges was $25. But a twin-pack was $35. Clearly, I want the twin-pack.

I order the twin-pack.

Today, my (standard) big-box-from-Amazon-with-something-tiny-in-it arrives via the UPS man. I open the box and find, within, a single box of toothpaste.

I write Amazon customer service. I point out that I clearly purchased a two-pack. I ask them if they'd be so kind as to send me a second pack of toothpaste.

I received a reply. The salient points (each of which appeared to be cut-and-pasted from some Manual On Customer Complaints) were:
1. Sorry you're not happy.
2. Although your order was fulfilled by Amazon, your product was actually sold by someone else, and we can't control the inventory [although both single and double-packs still appear to be for sale on Amazon]
3. Because it's toothpaste, we can't accept the return [although it's in untouched cartridges still in a factory sealed package]
and
4. We'll be crediting your account the entire $35 purchase price.

This struck me as inefficient in a whole lot of ways. Clearly, sending me a second pack of toothpaste might have been a good way to resolve this. Offering me, say, a partial refund of half the purchase price (since I got half the toothpaste) also seemed reasonable. But, no, they told me to keep the toothpaste and they'd give me back my $35.

I came online to 'blog this as remarkably inefficient from an economic point of view. I mean, sure, free toothpaste -- but if someone in customer service was actually permitted to think for himself and engage me in dialogue, we probably could have reached a solution that was happy for everyone, rather than having them write off the entire purchase as a loss.

That was my purpose. About halfway through the post, I thought, "well, since the toothpaste is mine now, I might as well open up the box."

The toothpaste expired in August.

My house smells like poop

I decided to work at home today, so brought a big pile of work home from the office last night. As I pulled up, I realized this might have been a mistake. The gardener seeded my lawn with winter rye and covered it with steer manure. (He'd made a point that it was steer manure, as though I should be particular impressed by this.) So, quite naturally, my lawn (and therefore my house) is scented with Eau du merde.

The very sad thing is that I'm becoming acclimated to it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The answer, by the way

Wire in the Blood (Seasons One through Five)
Firefly (Complete)
Serenity
Ashes to Ashes (half of season one and counting)


is the list of everything I've watched while working out on my elliptical machine, since acquiring it back in April. It adds up to over 44 hours of working out, which isn't bad, really, considering I was barely able to do 12 minutes a day when I started. (Am now up to "at least 20," and have been known to go as high as 28 when the show is interesting and I'm not late for work. Which, by the way, pretty much comes down to Firefly on a weekend.)

I do work out when I'm late for work. I work out when I'm sick, too. The only things that would prevent me from doing my 20 minutes on that thing every morning are: (1) not being here; (2) having a plane to catch; or (3) court. (And, so far, I've woken up early enough on court days to fit it in there.) There's a very good reason for this -- I'm pretty good at starting habits, but I find they're very easy to break. And if I let myself get away with an excuse even once, they'll keep snowballing until the elliptical machine turns into a very expense clothing valet.

The TV helps immensely. I have the elliptical aimed directly at a television, with a (region-free, bless it) DVD player hooked up. And since I'm watching programs I really want to watch, I actually look forward to the exercise portion of my day. This is key. In fact, since I'm almost done with Ashes to Ashes (another week ought to do it), I've gone ahead and ordered more TV dvds to watch. Which I'm actually looking forward to so much, I may actually increase my workout time, just to get to them already.

I also enjoy the results. Not to say I've lost a ton of weight -- I've rather annoyingly plateaued and am struggling to get my body back into weight-loss mode. But it has definitely helped with my endurance. Indeed, when my folks were out here, we went for a walk to the top of my street (where you pretty much hit mountain) and I was quite pleased that I didn't have to stop for breath nearly as often as they did. (As for why I'm pleased that I'm in better shape than people in their seventies, well, I guess the desire to exceed one's parents' accomplishments is eternal. Even when it's petty.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Why am I here? I mean: HERE

Quoting the aforementioned Jim Wright somewhat out of context, he said today:

“Rarely, if ever, does a blogger make a living from blogging. There’s no payoff to blogging. The only reason to do it at all, unless you’re nothing but a narcissistic bastard, is that interaction with the readers.”

As this blog has something of a void in the reader interaction department, I think this may mean I’m a narcissistic bastard. This has led me to the standard Exactly Why Am I Blogging If Nobody Is Reading Me post.

Something else has led me to it, too – and I think I’ll find my answer in the intersection of the two lines of the thought. The second is a play I just saw – a musicalization of the 1912 young adult novel Daddy Long Legs. The premise for the play is that an orphan is given the opportunity to go to college, thanks to an anonymous benefactor, but Mr. Anonymous requires that the young lady write him monthly reporting on her life in college. Well, as these stories go, the benefactor isn’t exactly as represented and … no matter. The point is, she’s writing her intimate thoughts during her college years to a total stranger.

You know, I wrote my parents fairly often during my first year of college. Afterward, my mom bound up the letters in a booklet called something like, “My First Year At College (or at least, what I told my parents)” and gave it to me. I was kind of angry about this (sorry, mom) but was really able to explain why I couldn’t stand the fact that she’d saved the letters and given them back to me. I can now – by the end of that first year I felt like a different person than I had been at the start, and I was a bit embarrassed by the person who, at the start of the year, still dotted her “i”s with little circles (and then moved on to the “more adult” technique of omitting the dots altogether -- I actually thought about this shit then). Even the letters themselves were young – they were attempts at adult perception and commentary, but they were largely how I’d thought adults looked at things. And they had been written with the intent that my parents read them and then throw them the hell out. Posterity for this stuff wasn’t my intent – and I was mortified that the letters still EXISTED, and that they were all bundled up together – all that ignorance and awkwardness and attempts at adult posturing staring at me.

(Of course, now, more than 20 years on, it would be pretty cool to get a look at those letters and see what was going on inside my little Freshman head – but it takes a couple decades of distance to see what the value is, and REAL adult confidence to accept my own youthful silliness for what it was.)

Which somehow leads me back to why I blog. I know my parents read this, (possibly my sister), a few of my of my real world friends, and a few internet friends as well. (I’ve been told I have a few lurkers – “Hi, lurkers!” – but not loads.) I’ve yet to have a post that really “catches fire” on the web – and while the part of me that is a narcissistic bastard thinks that might be kinda cool – that isn’t why I’m here.

So, why am I here? Well, it’s certainly a CONVENIENT way of keeping up with friends and family who don’t live nearby. Anyone who wants to know what’s up with me is more than welcome to drop by and read about my daily existence. (And, unlike those letters in college, this *is* intended for public consumption. Sorry, but the public censor is turned on, folks. Hmm, I hope that other post doesn’t screw up any possible confirmation hearings in my future.)

Also, it’s a great tool for me. I think things out with writing. (Which happens to be extremely convenient for my job.) If there’s something bothering me, something going on that I just can’t figure out, I can blog about it and it somehow gets straightened out for me in the process. Or, if there’s something really, really pissing me off, writing about it helps get it out of my system, so that I can get on with other business. And when, after I put those thoughts or rants out there, I find kindred spirits – bonus! It's not a community, though -- just a fleeting momentary connection with another person who, on that topic, for that moment, thinks "yes!" (Or even thinks, "no!" and wants to tell me why.)

There’s also the rather unexpected benefit that I’ve picked up by blogging travel. As you know, I travel alone a lot, and journal daily when I'm away. And I’ve discovered that, in a very real sense, “the act of observing affects the observed.” KNOWING that I’m going to be blogging a trip affects the choices I make on a trip. And I find I rather LIKE the choices I make. When I decide to do something because I think it might be fun to write about it, it’s ALWAYS turned out to be fun to do it.

So, yeah. I love having readers. I love having even the POSSIBILITY that I’m being read. But, mostly, I enjoy having the outlet, and I strangely enjoy how the fact that my doings may be observed has actually improved what it is that I’m doing.

A Question I Doubt Anyone Reading Can Answer

(And now for something completely different)

What do the following things have in common:

Wire in the Blood (Seasons One through Five)
Firefly (Complete)
Serenity
Ashes to Ashes (half of season one and counting)

Hint: I'm rather pleased with the answer.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Judging book covers again, dammit.

(The Timing Is Everything preamble: OK, look. I've been meaning to post something like this for a couple of weeks now, and I just haven't gotten around to doing it. The fact that I am posting it now, when the subject in question has apparently gotten caught in some blogospheric shitstorm is pure coincidence. As for the shitstorm itself, I don't entirely know, and I definitely don't care. This latter because I've read enough to make my own damn judgment, which is, in some ways, the point of this post.)

Preamble over. Let's get down to business.

I read Scalzi's blog. You know this. And I frequently click his "Whateverettes" links, which are often good for a thought or a laugh. And one of them led me to an entry on the blog of this dude, one Jim Wright. The linked column was, in fact, worth a chuckle or two. Enough to make me poke around the 'blog a bit and see what else was there -- because while there are a lot of people writing out there on the internet, there are precious few who actually write well enough that they're worth adding to my regular daily "let's see what's up with them" website check. So I looked around.

And the first thing I saw ('cause it's right there on the front page) is the biographical information: "I'm a retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer. Nowadays I live in Alaska . . . ." And I thought, "Oh crap. Ex-Military living in Palin Country. He's probably one of them gung-ho, America-is-always-right, let's-go-kill-us-some-towel-heads-in-the-name-of-Jesus, racist, homophobic, gun-totin' nutjobs, regurgitating whatever he hears on Fox News."

(Too bad, though, because he writes well.)

And then I stopped. And I thought, "Am I really so closed-minded that I won't even bother reading someone because his politics are so different from mine?" Because, I mean, that's wrong. I've always said that I don't care if the President appoints an ultra-conservative to the Supreme Court, as long as the Justice is smart. Because smart people can be reasoned with. It's the knee-jerk unthinking ones we have to be careful of. So if this Jim Wright person is smart enough to write well, maybe he's smart enough for me to not write him off.

So I kept reading. I read posts about his politics and his cats. I read about the things that piss him off and the surprisingly beautiful things he makes in his woodshop.

Actually, the beautiful things he makes in his woodshop weren't the only surprising things I read about.

Like, um, his politics.

See, here's the thing about me: I don't meet a whole lot of military or ex-military on a daily basis. In fact, I think my most recent interaction with a member of the military was the dude who was sent by my cable company to fix my modem -- he was a Marine about to be re-deployed to Iraq. He tested my modem by running a Pro-War video he'd made and posted on YouTube. He clearly detested my liberal leanings, but (as I tend to temper my opinions around people who I've invited into my home, especially those who could easily kill me with their bare hands), he commented that I seemed like one of the "few democrats who isn't nuts." (I believe he thought this was high praise.) He was someone who ran off and enlisted on September 12th, and I wouldn't at all be surprised if the words "camel-jockey" have escaped his lips on more than one occasion.

My other recent interaction with a soldier was a fellow I sat next to on a plane, who seemed pretty reasonable, although he also seemed pretty dim. (Clearly an order-taker, not an order-giver.)

Beyond that, I guess my impression of the military has been formed by what I see on TV and the internet (which tends to focus on the failures, the water-boarding, and the puppy-throwing) and in theatre (a recent play which suggested that certain folks who are trying really hard to make this a Christian Nation despite the First Amendment, have decided that a really good place to get a foothold is the military).

So. What did I find in Jim Wright? I found what I haven't been seeing in the news and on the stage. A decent, thoughtful, liberal thinker who was also a proud American and a get-shit-done sort of ex-military officer. The sort of person who believes that unethical military acts reflect badly on the military and the country -- and who was also willing to put his life on the line as a member of that same military.

Let me be perfectly clear. There's always a lot of talk, among the liberal community, about how we "support our troops" even though we don't support the war -- and yet there's also this underlying feeling that between Abu Ghraib, splitting hairs on "torture," and the rest, there isn't a whole lot going on in Iraq and Afghanistan that we really want to support (although we never actually say it).

Well, what I found in Jim Wright is a member of the military I can be proud of. And I found, commenting on his entries, several other military and ex-military folks of like mind and attitude. And I realized, of course, that there have to be thousands like him, in Iraq and Afghanistan right now, doing impossible jobs with quiet efficiency, within the rules of law and the ethics of war -- folks who understand that having the American flag on their uniform isn't a license to do whatever the hell they want, but a responsibility to act on behalf of this country in a way that upholds its highest standards.

And I felt actually ashamed that I'd assumed an ex-military officer would be an unintelligent, neocon asshole. I felt a bit betrayed by my (otherwise reliable) "liberal media" for painting the military in that way. And, on reflection, I felt incredibly relieved that I'd been wrong. Not just because I now have a new 'blog to read, but because I've realized I can be proud of our men and women in uniform again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm not sure it actually matters

Just did an entire load of laundry -- washed and dried -- in my shiny, new(ish) kick-ass LG washer and dryer.

And it was only after it was done that I realized I had forgotten the detergent.

The odd thing is: my clothes seem pretty clean. I mean, the socks didn't smell or anything. And then I remembered that, forever ago, Cecil Adams did a test on "Laundry Balls" and discovered that while, basically, Laundry Balls don't do shit, they get your laundry about as clean as Tide does. Or, putting it another way, Tide doesn't do a whole lot better than nothing at all. You can find the whole story here.

Don't worry; I'm not giving up detergent. But, um, I'm not rewashing these clothes, either.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Absolutely the Coolest Thing About My Parents' Visit

So, my folks were visiting over the weekend. Went pretty well -- took my dad to the ball game (which, as previously noted, the Dodgers tanked) but we bonded over soft serve, so it was good; took my mom to the theatre, which was also good.

But the bestest part was on Saturday, when my folks came over to my house. My mom and I were sitting at the computer (I was showing her some stuff) and my dad was sitting on the sofa, watching TV.

Now, I have DishTV -- and since they've hidden BBCAmerica in their "Silver" package, and I got the extra HD channels, AND I just subscribed to Showtime (damn you, "Dexter," for costing me an extra $12.99), I've got over 300 channels cluttering up my guide. So I used the "Favorites" feature to make a personal program guide comprised of all 60 or so channels which I could conceivably ever want to watch. And I set the box so that it defaults to that program guide.

So my favorite part of my parents visit was when my dad said, "Don't you get Fox News on this thing?"

Um, no. Not on my program guide.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I've been meaning to show you this

This June, my parents celebrated their 50th Anniversary. They had a 1950s themed party to celebrate. We all came in costume.

A friend of mine agreed to make me a poodle skirt. We went down to the garment district to buy patterns and fabric. And when we were there, we saw a pattern that was better than a poodle skirt.

Thus:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Baseball!

(Peg demands updating. Sorry, I been busy. I almost blogged about my job the other day, because I was working at home and was just awesomely productive -- sitting here drinking about a gallon of tea and plugging away at what ultimately turned out to be a fairly kick-ass 45-page document. I like to think I'm quite good at what I do -- but, given the nature of my job (which is, basically, being an anonymous cog in the wheels of justice), there isn't all that much one can actually say about it without violating all sorts of very serious ethical obligations. And just coming here to post, "Yeah, I rock" isn't all that terribly interesting for y'all.)

So. Baseball. A friend of mine thinks of baseball as a sort of socio-economic equalizer. I mean, Dodger Stadium is a place where I can go, sit knee-to-knee with people of different races, classes, ages, genders, orientations, incomes, political ideologies, and any other demographic you might come up with, and be unified with the same common thought.

Which, unfortunately, happened to be, "You suck!"

Seriously. This game was not supposed to matter. The Dodgers were supposed to wrap up the NL West several games ago. They only needed one win (or for Colorado to have one loss) and couldn't manage to make that happen. All of sudden, they're starting a three-game series with Colorado and if they don't manage to pull together one freakin' game, the Rockies take the NL West.

So, my late-season not-supposed-to-matter game turned out to be a great big sold out affair, with people coming in from miles around to see the Dodgers clinch it ... or to fail miserably.

Guess which one we saw.

I'll give you a hint -- the Rockies scored two runs while we were still in the parking lot.

At one point, I noted that our (alleged) star hitter had four strike-outs, which was one less than the entire opposing team.

About the only thing left was the bonding experience. Guy next to us bought one of those six dollar bags of peanuts and was sharing with the whole row. People across the aisle were trying to take a picture with their baby, and the guy in front of me was making silly faces to get the baby to smile in the right direction. (And the biggest applause of the night went to the guy who did such a terrific over-emotional lip-synch to "Don't Stop Believing," the camera guys had him up on the big screen for the whole song.)

As we were heading out (with the other 54,000 people), the ballpark set off fireworks. (Apparently, they'd had them ready in case the Dodgers won, and dammit, they were gonna set off the fireworks anyway.) Some guys on the stairs in front of us yelled, "Woo! We lost!" which pretty much summed up the whole experience.