Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Blogging for two

While laziness plays its part, another main reason why I haven't posted anything since November (!) is that I'm in a family way! Knocked up! Great with child! In trouble! So of course I want to spend my spare time meditating and speaking softly to my child, not staring at a screen.

KIDDING! Christ. But I did decide that I didn't want to post on Facebook about it. I guess it felt like announcing "I had sex, and I have heartburn!" So by extension I didn't blog about it, because that's the Interwebs too.

But now I have progressed well beyond the just-had-sex-and-heartburn phase. Now it's much more like there is is a tiny alien visibly trying to poke its little tentacles out of my stomach. So that's a fairly public situation. Plus, the time seems to have flown by, and the alien is scheduled to actually emerge into the world in ... 3 months! I feel like I can now barely remember what the earlier stages of the gestation thing were like, which is a shame I suspect. So, here I am back again to intermittently document the experience.

Speaking of Alien, I have actually not seen that movie, but I HAVE seen that other classic in creature-emerging-from-human, Rosemary's Baby. My dear A will surely recall that when she was pregnant with her older son, I could not go 30 seconds without making a Rosemary's Baby allusion. Satan is his father! Those food cravings are because the baby is Satan! Etc. That was super tactful of me. Sorry, A!

But anyway, now that I am the one with the bun in the oven, I am happy to say that Rosemary's Baby does not seem relevant. I don't have any suspicion that Mr. TA pimped me out to the devil. Or that people who offer unsolicited advice are in league with the devil. Or that my doctor (actually, midwife) is either buddies with the devil or is super sexist. Or that Mr. TA is going to be pissed if I cut my hair short. Or that I'm going to want to eat raw beef. I think these are all good signs. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WTF, Glee

I have just recently watched the last two episodes of Glee.  In addition to my usual complaints (stomach-churning mood swings between self-aware humor and gooey saccharine forced emotion, nonsensical plotlines), this most recent bullying arc is leaving me befuddled to the point of wanting to throw something at the TV.  Surely I did not just miss the part where Mr. Schuester tried to do ANYTHING about one of his students being constantly bullied?  I mean, other than tell him that he should not let it get to him?  If they're saving it for next week, and Mr. Schuester has some big musical Come to Jesus moment when he realizes he should have done something and apologizes, I guess that will be consistent with the consistencly level of the normal plotlines, but still.  So. Annoying. 
The Kurt actor has done a good job with the whole thing, though.  Good job, dude. 
Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blogger month, oh my

Andrea has been all over the blogging-every-day-in November thing, and now even M, who had previously been letting her blog die a natural death, is back on the train.  Thus inspired, here I am!  I've already missed 1/3 of the days in November, but even if I only post 4 times this month it will be more than any other month this year.  
M's post about the Erica Jong article in the WSJ got me to actually read the article, and the companion piece/rebuttal by Erica's daughter, Molly.  I agreed with Erica's "attachment parenting is a trap for women" thing--how can you have an adult life if you think you have to spend 24-7 focused entirely on your child?  And it seems to be 98% women who do this (Mothering magazine--whatever it is, it's not gender neutral.)   But she lost me when she started to ramble about celebrity adoption and Sarah Palin.  It seemed almost like the WSJ had told her "we'd like to use pictures of Angelina Jolie and Madonna along with your piece, can you work in some mentions of them?"  Also, whereas "attachment parenting is a trap" is a critique of a societal pattern, the Angelina/Sarah stuff is very blame-individual-women-for-the-world's problems.  Retro stuff, Erica.
But what was really interesting was Molly's passive-aggressive gem of a response.  She's basically like "My mom didn't pay any attention to me because she was traveling all over the country carrying on with various men and trying to stay famous, and I needed a lot of therapy, and I would never do that so I'm a stay-at-home attachment parenting guru.  But I totally appreciate that my mom made enough money to allow me to do that."  WOW. 
But most of all, the juxtaposition of the two articles was annoying because it made the whole discussion into a women-blaming-each-other fest.  Neither Erica nor Molly mentions where Molly's dad was while she was getting raised by nannies, or where Molly's kids' dad is doing while she helicopter parents and resents her mom all day. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Directions: an ethical dilemma

I have a dilemma.

On the one hand: I hate asking for directions. For instance: this
summer when Mr. TA and I were on vacation in Vienna, at one point we
were walking around the same block multiple times, gawking at the map
and at the street signs, totally unable to find the architecturally
significant building we were looking for. A man came up and asked, in
English, "Do you need help finding something?" And I said "No,
thanks." Without even thinking about it. I think it's some kind of
desire to seem in control of things, and to avoid getting emmeshed in
a discussion with a stranger. Both very stupid reasons, I know!

On the other hand: when I see lost tourists in DC, I have a strong
urge to offer them directions. I like the idea that they will have a
positive interaction with somebody in DC.

BUT, is that really it? If I were them, I would not want me to offer
me directions. So by doing it, am I really just engaging in a power
trip, making myself feel superior to the dumb tourists?

I thought of this the other day and felt chagrined. So, the next time
I saw lost tourists I ignored them. This became harder and harder as
they walked around Dupont Circle in the same direction as me,
squinting at the street signs and asking each other, "Does this one
say New Hampshire Avenue? Does the next one say New Hampshire?"

Arghh! I could easily have told them which one was New Hampshire.
But then, they would eventually find it if they kept walking around
the circle. What do you think--should I offer tourists directions?
Or should I perhaps take this as a sign that I should not be so
stubborn about asking for them myself?

Monday, October 04, 2010

"Fetal origins" headline FAIL

"At Risk From the Womb"?  Really, Nicholas Kristof/New York Times?  I bet you a million bucks that the embryo/fetus would be at much bigger risk without a womb.  And, a womb is not really a decision-making entity, so when you say "at risk from the womb" you are implying "at risk from the woman in charge of the womb, so wouldn't it would be better if somebody else were in charge because she might make bad decisions or be stressed out or something."   And, the actual information in the story makes it clear that, in fact, it's stuff outside the womb that there is evidence affects "fetal outcomes"--floods, war, environmental pollutants.  So I think your headline writers need to step away from the blaming-the-lady-with-the-womb party. 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Deep thoughts re traveling

I have been traveling for work today.  Here are some related insights: 
1.  I know I should boycott Arizona, but I had a layover in Phoenix and my custom of getting a Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza (or whatever they're called these days) while killing time in an airport won out.  The moral outrage, she is weak compared to the tummy.  
2.  The language that airline employees use when making announcements is really odd:  "We DO ask that you store your smaller personal item underneath the seat in front of you," "We DO appreciate your patience during the boarding process," "We WILL ask that you pay with a major credit card."  Normally you would only use that kind of emphasis if someone had questioned whether you really meant what you were saying:  "You don't really appreciate my patience!" "Yes, I DO!"  So I guess that's apt, then.
3.  The hotel I am staying in has Guest Laundry Rooms, for which I am grateful.  I am even more psyched that the washers and dryers are the EXACT SAME ones as we had in the dorms in college.  Speed Queen Commercial Washers and Dryers!  With the coin slots and everything!  It takes me back.  There was some way to rig them so the quarters (or something that substituted for quarters?) stayed in the slots and you didn't have to pay, but I don't remember what it was and probably wouldn't try it even if I did.  
4.  There is something nice about having a rental car and your own hotel room and being able to set up your little world however you want, and to watch TV in bed.  I am not going all George Clooney in Up in the Air, though, and I will see if I still agree with this in 13 days, when I am still at the Executive Inn and Suites by the freeway in Oakland.  (In case you want to look me up.) 
5.  The time zones got away from me and I forgot to call before it got unreasonably late, Mom and Dad.  Sorry.  Talk to you sometime this week.   

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cubicle/Walt Disney paper dream

I had a really weird, vivid dream last night. I was working on a big paper that I had to finish in order to graduate from law school or college, not sure which. I had rented a hotel room to work on the paper, but the room was actually a cubicle with a fold-out bed in it. There were several other people in adjoining cubicles, also working on papers. At some point in the dream I was telling someone what my paper was going to be about, and I said with excitement that I had decided to write about Walt Disney because I had already written about him before. (I wrote an autobiography about Walt Disney for a Gifted and Talented class assignment in 5th grade.) I said I was going to focus on both art history and math as they related to Disney films. The person I was talking to said that was a bad idea and maybe I should rethink it. I then realized that it was, in fact, a bad idea and went back to my cubicle/hotel. The cubicle was so full of paper that I couldn't fold the bed down.

And I am not even feeling stressed out about work, and my office is pretty clean! What does this mean? I woke up feeling grateful that I don't have to come up with topics to write papers about anymore, so I guess that's a good insight.

Friday, September 10, 2010

No back to school, thank God

Last night I had my only "back-to-school"-type experience of the year,
and holy crizzap did it make me relieved that I don't actually have to
go back to school.

The tutoring program I volunteer at restarted after summer break, and
I got a new student since my last one graduated (sniff). It works
like this: the tutors sit on chairs pushed up against the wall of a
hallway, like we are waiting for a job interview or to get asked to
dance. The students who need tutors are in a room around the corner
with the coordinator. Every 5 minutes or so the coordinator comes out
with a student, calls out a tutor's name, and introduces them.

Last night I sat there for about half an hour until I got my student,
and by the end of this period it dawned on me that I was REALLY
nervous. Would we like each other? Would her parents like me? Would
I be able to help her? Would she have behavioral problems or a
learning disability? Would she get into college? Was there still
time to change my mind and leave?

And it occurred to me that this is only a tiny fraction of the
nervousness that I used to experience before a new school year.
Sometimes I have a hazy nostalgia for how the experience of going back
to school, how everything was new and it was like starting over, but
this was a helpful reminder that in fact many of those experiences
were SHEER TERROR and starting over SUCKED. Looking at the
back-to-school Ikea catalog is plenty of new excitement for me now,

Friday, July 30, 2010

Luddite technie FAIL

Last weekend at the fantatic wedding of my friends A and A, someone used my iPhone to take a picture of me wearing a strapless dress and a plastic Viking helmet.  The dress was not visible in the picture, so as far as the picture was concerned, I may well have been wearing nothing but the Viking helmet.  I thought the picture was fab, so I set it as my contact picture for myself in my phone.
I am not sure exactly what I thought that setting a contact picture meant, and then I forgot about it.  Today while taking care of bizness in my work email, my cursor passed over my name in the Gchat thingie.  (My work uses a Gmail-based email system.)  To my horror, the Viking helmet picture popped up!  Aghast, I clicked on "Edit picture" and then chose "No picture."  Whew!  
But no!  A few hours later at work, I saw that the Viking picture was still there!  Here began an insanely long process of repeatedly removing the picture from my Gchat thing, only to have it reappear immediately.  Eventually I figured out that the picture was not assigned in my Gmail preferences, but on my phone, to my work email address as a "contact."  Whatever.  I finally got it to go away.  But now I am not sure whether it was visible to everyone else at work for the last week.  Shudder. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ebooks and independent bookstores

Today on my lunch break I went to Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle to buy a guidebook for an upcoming vacation.  With vacay on the brain, I had been thinking about whether I should buy a Kindle or Nook or whatever those things are called.  Even though I generally dislike the idea of reading a book on a computer-ish device, the idea of being able to fit a zillion books in one small space is appealing, packing-wise. 
So I asked the woman working at the checkout counter whether Kramerbooks sells eBooks.  She said (not unkindly) No, that's the antithesis of everything we stand for, and directed me to a cartoon on the subject posted on the wall.  The cartoon made the point that the qualities eBooks are striving to accomplish--indestructability, lendability, ability to read "offline" without recharging--have already been achieved in actual books.  Not untrue!  But they left out "ability to pack 15 of them in my suitcase."
So now I feel like if I buy an eBook machine maybe I am screwing over independent booksellers.  But surely they should be able to get in on the act?  Is Kramerbooks' antipathy an ideologial thing, or do Amazon, etc. bar indepent booksellers from participating in the eBook market?  (And does anybody have any recommendations for good vacation books--preferably in paperback?) 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Hot in the Sitcom Kitchen

OK, so I may need to somewhat walk back my statement that that Hot in Cleveland is not "dated."  The other night I watched a double-header of Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, and goodness there are some striking parallels. 
Such as:  both shows use a kitchen set with a small table in the foreground.  I can't think of a single other TV show that has used this setup.  It seems so unique that it almost must be a shout-out to GG -- or is it just an attempt to be realistic about how an old house in Cleveland would be laid out? 
There is also the more obvious Betty-White-and-three-other-women-over-the-age-of-40 parallel.  Mr. TA (joining me in most of the double-header) pointed out that in HiC, Betty White has kind of taken over the Estelle Getty/Sophia role from GG.  This led us to start trying to draw more parallels between the characters.  Arguably:
Betty White = Sophia (old, curmudgeonly, cracks one-liners) 
Valerie Bertinelli = Rose (happy/ditzy)
Jane Leeves = Blanche (slutty (arguably?), has an accent)
Wendy Malick = Dorothy (This one doesn't work as well.  Tall?)  
But then, you could sort of do the same thing with Sex and the City:  
Charlotte = Rose (ditzy)
Samantha = Blanche (slutty)
Carrie = Dorothy (looking for love)
Miranda = Sophia (The practical one, I guess?)
Alternately, this might just mean that all these shows are using variations on some pretty old-school stereotypes--the virgin, the whore, the mother (and the other one, I guess).  That's definitely dated. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hot in my living room

I watched the first episode of Hot in Cleveland, and that was some funny shit.  Not just Betty White, although of course she was fabulous (and I am not just saying this in a recent-bandwagon-jumping SNL fan kind of way--I have loved Golden Girls and the Mary Tyler Moore show since Betty White just barely qualified for AARP membership).  The other characters were funny too--I especially liked the bit where whatshername kept licking her arm because she'd eaten chili fries the night before--and they have a believable rapport with each other.  Do not listen to the reviews that say it's "dated" because it's a sitcom with a laugh track--they really just mean the actresses are old.  Which is the point!  They're old in Hollywood, but in Cleveland they're hot.  It's funny because it's true (and that is Hollywood's loss, not Cleveland's.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Step away from the email!

In the last couple of weeks I have had occasion to observe two different small email lists, a neigborhood one and a sports team one, devolve into bitchfests of fairly epic proportions.  It is not that surprising when people post rude or cruel comments anonymously on the internet, but I was surprised to see a comparable level of asshattery on small lists (a few dozen people each) of people who actually know each other and/or live very near each other. 
People on both lists have suggested that the problem is email itself, and I think that is probably right.  When people talk In Real Life, even if they are really pissed off, most of the time the human conflict-avoidance instinct, combined with the urge to not look like an dickhead, kicks in to keep everybody vaguely civil.  But when it's just you and your computer screen, you don't see anybody's surprised or hurt or bemused expressions when you start to talk like a crazy person.  So it's easy to work yourself into a later of self-righteous anger and to make dramatic pronouncements that you just would not make in person.  Then the problem becomes self-perpetuating, because once somebody has tossed some rude or email thought out there, other people get annoyed that somebody is clogging their inbox with nonsense or has destroyed their beloved email list, and they start to pile on too.
Anyway, this is all fairly depressing, especially since I conduct such a large portion of my life on email.  I'm not sure if there's anything to be done other than to throw out the occasional "I think everybody on this list is great and we would all get along fine if we were talking in person!"  But that kind of only goes so far. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

SEQUELS Sequels sequels

(Re blogging:  I have gotten into a bad habit of almost never blogging, and then doing it only when someone comments about my lack of blogging.  So, this one's for you, Sita!) 
I saw both Sex & the City 2 and Iron Man 2 a couple of weeks ago and, in a case of seriously low expectations, found both of them a lot less objectionable than the originals.  But I am worried that this is a bad sign. 
To review:  Iron Man 1 pissed me off greatly because the message was:  In order to become a superhero who will usher in world peace, all the arms-deaing Robert Downey, Jr. character needs to do is invent a super advanced weapon system that is shiny and red and he can wear and lets him fly, like a man-shaped Corvette with guns and wings. 
But in Iron Man 2, when Robert Downey, Jr. tells a Senate committee he is responsible for world peace, it's supposed to be obnoxious and over the top, not, like, totally true.  Refreshing!  And once that issue was addressed, I was able to just enjoy the rest of the huge-metal-things-colliding and Scarlett-Johanssen-as-a-ninja-who-moves-in-inexplicable-slow-motion elements of the movie.  Escapist fun! 
And Sex & the City 1 pissed me off in a less political, more personal way because Carrie ended up with Big even after he dumped her at the altar.  (Ahh, but the personal is political!  Like how Carrie marrying Big is relevant to ... well, who knows, but that's probably a separate blog post.) 
But by SATC 2, the philandering, commitment-phobic Big had been replaced by a Bigbot homebody who wants to get takeout and watch TV in bed.  Not believable, but I no longer despised him.  And once that was clear, the rest was ... well, not good exactly, but it kept me amused.  Sometimes unintentionally.  And sometimes (as with Samantha's making out in public in Abu Dhabi and then getting arrested for it) in a horrified-giggling kind of way. 
So it seems I prefer the sequels because they omit something I object to, even though they don't have anything else much going for them.  That's not great -- it's like eating only chicken fingers and cheese quesadillas, or something.  (And I do like a cheese quesadilla.)  Not sure where I'm going with this.  Should I perhaps watch fewer big-budget movies that are bound to be fairly mediocre?  Or should I just not think too hard about why I like them or don't like them? 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

OMG CLE you're killing me

I am watching a CLE (continuing legal education) webinar about the legal ethical implications of the interwebs.  I'm sure if I watch more of it I will learn that I should not be blogging about the CLE class.  But OMG, the person talking just said all of the following: 
1.  "I actually went on a Twitter page once."
2.  "I don't know if those of you who are watching this on the web..i...sode can see this" (while holding up a newspaper). 
3.  "LinkedIn is for professional networking." 
4.  "Twitter is limited to 140 characters or less." 
5.  "Blogs now allow comments."
I feel super tech-savvy. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I care whether Elena Kagan's gay

(Note re blogging: I almost didn't notice that I hadn't written anything for two months, but now I am inspired by Andrea's reinvigorated blogging, and, let's be frank, by her saying my last post was funny. I'll do ANYTHING to be called funny. ANYTHING. Warning: the following post is probably not funny.)

I am really annoyed by all this "Elena Kagan shouldn't have to disclose her sexual orientation" commentary. People who say this do not actually mean "disclosing her sexual orientation," they mean "disclosing that she is gay," and it only makes sense in a world in which people are punished for being gay. For instance, every married nominee brings their family to their confirmation hearings, to sit there behind them as huge blinking signs of heterosexuality, but nobody thinks that is TMI. If there were no homophobia, sexuality wouldn't be something to be "disclosed" or not; it would just be a fact that's out there about a person, like where they went to college.

And it does matter if she's gay. If she were gay and out, that would be excellent because the other Supreme Court justices would be forced to deal with the existence of at least one gay human being in their lives. (Not that "diversity" always makes them see straight--the two Jewish Justices were recently unable successfully to explain to 5 Christians that the cross is a symbol of Christianity.)

But if she were gay and closeted, that would be weird and disturbing. I mean, yes, there is homophobia in the nation at large which explains why many people do not come out, but girlfriend is from a pinko family in Manhattan, has moved exclusively in lefty East Coast circles her whole life, and is 50, not 20. If she had not found the courage to come out by now (or, put another way, she had decided to keep an important part of herself hidden all this time, maybe so as to limit the kinds of ammunition people could use if she were nominated for something someday) it would make me suspicious about her trustworthiness and priorities. Plus, closeted gay public figures tend to be totally delusional.

Of course, I am totally late with this post because this morning a good friend of hers gave an amazingly awkward interview to Politico to prove that Elena's straight. Sooooo very straight!! For instance, "Walzer recalled 'discussion about who she might be interested in – the usual girl talk stuff-- talk about how to get his attention.'" Ack! Maybe I want to modify my opinion here--the fact of your sexuality should not be "private"/hidden, but most of the details past that probably should be.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sweatpants gratification

My college boyfriend used to say, "If you wear sweatpants, you've given up on life." He said it not just as a general comment about the world, but rather to me when I was wearing sweatpants around the house. I'm pretty sure that at least once, he said it to my mom (when she was wearing sweatpants). This was not the only problem with that relationship, but it ranks up there.

Flash-forward 10+ years to last Friday. I met a friend of a friend at a happy hour, and he was wearing a suit, and green cotton socks. My friend and I were pointing out the folly of this, and I said, "There's nothing wrong with those socks, but you should wear them with sweatpants, not a suit." He said, "If you wear sweatpants, you've given up on life."

OMFG! My entire ill-fated college relationship flashed before my eyes. If more than one person held this view, was it possible my X was RIGHT? I do not currently own any sweatpants--they have been replaced by flannel PJs with Ralph Wiggum on them--but the thought still haunts.

Luckily, my friend J is much smarter than me, and when I told her this story she immediately said that they must both have gotten it from the same source. "It was probably a Seinfeld line or something," were her words. A quick Google showed she was exactly correct: in the pilot of Seinfeld, George wears sweatpants, and Jerry says:
You know the message you're sending out to the world with these sweatpants? You're telling the world, "I give up. I can't compete in normal society. I'm miserable, so I might as well be comfortable."
So not only are my ex and this other dude both just repeating a very old line that they probably don't even know is a line, but the sweatpants thing is referring specifically to wearing sweatpants outside the house. It's totally irrelevant to my life. I feel pretty awesome about this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I am a highly accomplished individual

In the last 3 days I have accomplished the following uber-impressive feats:

(1) Done the first 3 days of P90X. Yes, it's that ridiculous EXTREME workout system you may have seen advertised on infomercials and this disturbing website! It involves a dude in a man-tank, wearing a lot of bronzer, saying "BRING IT" a lot! The DVDs include lots of plugs for a company called Beach Body and a line of "recovery drinks"! But dude, if I stick to doing even the majority -- even the plurality, really -- of 90 days of vigorously exercising for an hour a day, I will be in about 1000% better shape than I have ever been. I can tell it's working already because it hurts when I stand up from my chair. BRING IT!

(2) I made a tablecloth! Mr. TA got me a sewing machine for Christmas (because I ASKED for it, not because he thinks I should engage in lady activities, of course), but then I got kind of lazy about it, i.e. I didn't even open the box for a few months. But I was re-inspired by Dr. Frankenbaby, my dear friend who has somehow managed to make the adorable Baby E and raise her to the point where she can already sit up, while at the same time starting an awesome mommy blog in which she reprises, among other things, her highly impressive sewing and other DIY projects. I am realistic about my abilities, so while Dr. Frankenbaby takes on turning her Lab Partner's old shirts into adorable baby dresses, I started with the more accessible project of hemming a flat piece of fabric. And I did it! I forgot to take pictures -- maybe I'll do it later -- but it is really big (it's for when we use the leaves to extend the table, such as if we have more than 4 people over to eat), basically rectangular, and has (more or less) mitred corners.

Tune in next week when I fix global warming and get Obama's agenda passed. BRING IT!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Godfather and the Pacino/De Niro switcheroo

I have flipped by The Godfather Part II a couple of times in the last month or so, and it has helped me realized why I am always confusing Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. It's because somewhere along the way, possibly starting during this movie, they started to switch bodies. To wit:

Pacino (now): Frizzy-haired, craggy, gaunt, looks exhausted.
De Niro (now): Kind of pudgy face, looks amused.

But! In the Godfather II days, it was all bass-ackwards:

Pacino (then): Smooth-haired, smooth-faced, looks like he used to have inner peace but now it's under siege.
De Niro (then): Good cheekbones, attractive, looks like a moral man forced by circumstance into a life of crime.

If you were going to pick which young guy would grow up into which old guy, you would totally switch them around. See, I'm not just ignorant about classic actors (or Italian-Americans)--it's just that my understanding of them is deeper than everybody else's.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Tomorrow will mark Day #6 that I have not gone in to work because of the Snow that Ate DC. Yes, it's true, DC is wussy about weather, but in its defense, it's only half just straight up warm-climate-dwellers' hysteria; the other half is a lack of plows, which I guess is a reasonable financial decision in a place that rarely gets much snow.

Anyway, I am very happy to report that I am close to achieving the thing I yearned for but did not accomplish during my month off between jobs in December: boredom. When I was little my brother and I got bored all the time and would follow my mom around, asking her what we should dooooooo. I hadn't felt that for about 25 years, so at first I wasn't sure it had returned. But in retrospect, it is clear that the first twinges set in today when Mr. TA and I walked to Target to buy toilet paper even though there are zillions of closer places to get it, just so we'd have a longer walk and more stuff to look at once we got there. It intensified this afternoon when we did our taxes--the first time ever they have gotten done before April. And just now we played a board game (they're not called that for nothing!) Yay, boredom!

The question is, what happens after you get bored? Do you watch dumb TV to prolong the experience, or try to end it quickly by taking on a bigger project (cleaning closets, reading a novel)? Mom, what should I doooooooo?

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Here is what I don't get about the Superbowl ad with the football player and his mother talking about how she decided not to abort her pregnancy even though doctors told her she might die if she didn't: it seems off-message for "pro-lifers." Is their target audience really women whose lives are at risk? And is their goal really to convince those women that it would be immoral, and should be illegal, for them to have an abortion to save their own lives?

If not, then the message of the ad is: she was faced with a CHOICE and she made the CHOICE which others questioned but which was the right CHOICE for her. If that is the message they are cool with, then perhaps I have been misunderstanding things.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Supremely depressing

I have a number of happy things I've been meaning to blog about--my new job is going well (I think), and I agree with Andrea that The Hangover was great even if arguably one should be offended, or whatever.

But the thing that has now gotten me off my butt to actually write something is my anger/disappointment at the Supreme Court's decision to ban cameras from the gay marriage trial in California. The majority opinion (by the 5 usual suspects) reads like this: The sweet people who advocated for Proposition 8 have already gotten picked on big-time by all the mean gays and their nefarious supporters. Now the gays have brought this big mean divisive lawsuit, and the Prop 8 suporters will get picked on way more if people can watch them testify. We don't like cameras in the courts anyway, and particularly not when the public is interested in what's going on in there. Oh, and in case there's any confusion, we think the district court judge is bending the rules for the plaintiffs, and he will probably continue to do so up to and including when he rules that there's a Constitutional right to gay marriage, and we will not hesitate to smack him down then either.

As Slate pointed out, it's totally reminiscent of Bush v. Gore--5/9 of the Court is sticking their hands into an issue they would normally never get involved in because they don't like the political outcome, and then pretending like they don't have any choice but to get involved (certiorari what?) and to call 'em as they see 'em, even if they've never called it this way before and never will again. It's aggravating that, as in that case, the dissent is super polite about it and doesn't just lay it out there that this is what's going on. Not that it would do any good, but it would be more satisfying to read.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best/Worst of the '00s!

The end of the decade feels much more salient for me right now than the end of the year.  The end of 1999 seems, in that cliched way, like just yesterday--didn't we just fill up the tub with water in A&E's apartment in Inwood so we'd have drinking water when the world ended, then head out in our chunky heels and matte lipstick for Times Square, although we'd get sidetracked by some bar containing pool tables and questionable gentlemen?  Ahh, good times.  So here are some assorted Top 5 lists for the Zeros:
Personal Top 5
1.  Meeting Mr. TA (aww)
2.  Regular vacations with friends from college
3.  Formation of cult/urban tribe (whatever you want to call it) in DC
4.  Evolution from boring jobs to stressful jobs
5.  Getting into law school  (for law school itself, see below)
Top 5 Moving Pictures on Screen
1.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2.  The Wire
3.  The Big Lebowski
4.  Bridget Jones' Diary
5.  DVD commentary tracks (as a genre)
Top 5 Things I Hope I'll Never Have to do Again
1.  Having random roommates
2.  any Bush presidency (I'm looking at you, George P. and Jenna)
3.  Moving without paid assistance
4.  Going to Lubbock
5.  Law school
See you in the Tens!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twilight, a very bad movie

I took everybody's advice and did not read the Twilight books, but my curiosity about the phenomenon got the better of me, so yesterday I watched the (first) movie. 
Oh.My.God. it was bad.  Luckily, I found it literally laugh-out-loud bad, rather than just annoying bad.  Here is the movie:  Bella, a shy, pretty girl, moves to small town in Washington state.  She speaks only in monosyllables and generally looks surly or nauseous, but everybody immediately loves her, and she acquires a group of nice, funny friends.  All the boys in her group of friends ask her to prom, and she acts irritated and says no.  This does not upset the group dynamic, and instead the boys ask the other girls in the friend group.  Bella goes prom dress shopping with the girls but makes it clear she is uninterested in their whole silly prom thing.  She really only wanted to go so she could buy a book about Native American myths, because ...
Edward is a pale, cute boy who acts like he is going to vomit when Bella's in his vicinity.  She stares back, also looking like she's going to throw up.  They do not flirt; instead they act angry at each other.  He does stuff like follow her around all the time, save her life repeatedly from various perils but act pissy about it, and have very cold fingers.  She does some detective work using the aforementioned book, as follows:  she opens it to a random page, reads one caption ("The Cold One"), then Googles that, and discovers--Edward's a vampire!   She confronts him--angrily, nauseously--and he angrily and nauseously admits that he IS a vampire.  Further, for several months he's been sneaking into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep, and he has a very strong urge to kill her because her hair (or her blood? unclear) smells delicious. 
Now--ta da!--they're totally in love!   
Uh oh, now another vampire wants to follow Bella around and has a strong urge to kill her, but this is not OK because Bella is already Edward's special tasty ladyfriend.  Then more peril for Bella ensues, Edward saves her again, and Bella and Edward go to prom.  Ta da! 
I may spend the rest of my leisure period rewatching Buffy, to get Twilight out of my system.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Beaucoup vacation haiku

Toolstein commented on my two-day absence, and flattery will get you everywhere, so here I am. I am on Day 2 of my Lady of Leisure interlude, and so far it's pretty great. Let me tell you about it in haiku, shall I?

Getting up at ten
Is better than getting up
At seven, no doubt

Daytime yoga class
Do these people not have jobs?
Who knows. Must be nice.

DVD player
Died during first Mad Men show
It is a cruel world

Researching Blu-Ray
Is not what I want to do
But I am selfless

Maybe I should clean
Whoa, where'd the afternoon go?
It gets dark early

Tomorrow I will
Make dessert for a party
And watch Gossip Girl

Want to play hooky?
We could drink Bloody Marys
Let me know, I'm free!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Last day of work!

Today is my last day of my current job!  Which I have been at longer than I was in high school!  So far it's like any other day, except with less work to do and more papercuts from packing up boxes.  Cleaning out my office has been a little disconcerting.  I like to think of myself as an organized person--so being faced with incontrovertible evidence that, in actuality, I am a person who leaves an invoice sitting in my in-box unopened for months because I assumed it was just a copy of something I'd gotten by email, and who has dirty socks I dont even remember owning in my filing cabinet, is making me reassess my self-image a bit. 

In other news, if you are in charge of organizing an office holiday party to which you are inviting the new employees who have not yet started, please do not send an email to everyone in the department, including the new people, suggesting that the new people "reply all" with information about their favorite books, movies, etc. so that whoever has them in the "Secret Santa" exchange will know what to get for them.  Holy god.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Bad tipping will out

Many years ago I read someplace that Tiger Woods was a bad tipper.  There is a special place in hell reserved for rich people who tip poorly.  It could be that that place looks something like the inside of a fancy house in a gated community where you watch your reputation slip through your fingers on TV while you wait for the the mysterious scratches on your face heal and hope no more of your girlfriends leak voicemails to the press, and that your wife doesn't decide to use your golf clubs to "rescue" you again anytime soon. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Math would help you win The Amazing Race

SPOILER ALERT:  In The Amazing Race this week, the only team in which the players are always kind to each other -- Harlem Globetrotters "Flight Time" and "Big Easy" -- got eliminated because Big Easy didn't know math.  Here's why you should pay attention in math class, kids! 

Technically he did not need to know math--he needed to figure out how to unscramble the letters N, A, R, F, Z in a "Kafkaesque" challenge involving a bureaucratic nightmare in Prague (dozens of ringing phones, repeated filling out of forms, etc.)  (So, absent math,  you could have figured it out if you'd recognized that "Franz" is a word, but I could see not noticing that because of the whole it-might-be-in-a-different-language thing.)  The more annoying brother in the Evil Gay Brothers team told Big Easy they'd work together, but when Annoying One figured it out, he would only tell Big that the word started with an F. 

What a douchebag!  But, OK, a word that starts with an F, and has four other unique letters.  Combinatorics, my favorite branch of math from my olden days as a math major, teaches us if there are 4 options for the second letter, then there are 3 for the third letter, 2 for the fourth letter, and only 1 for the last letter, the number of possible words is 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24.  Twenty-four words!  Even if it took 2 minutes to fill out the rest of the Kafkaesque bureaucratic form, it would only take 48 minutes to go through all the possibilities.  Instead, Big Easy got totally flustered and the Globe Trotters took the 4-hour penalty rather than complete the challenge.  The HUMANITY!  The LACK OF MATH SKILLS!

Now The Amazing Race is left with the aforementioned Evil Gay Brothers, the Whiny Miss America and her Excessively Patient Husband (accompanied by their unofficial sidekick, Their Interracial Relationship), and the Two Boring Blond Ones.  I guess I am rooting for the boring blondes out of a lack of options.  So sad!  Globe Trotters, I hated to see you go. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving! (and Star Wars)

Looks like my "posting every day in November" thing has fallen apart a bit.  I blame it on the sleepy chemicals in turkey.  And,  the anticipatory laziness that gripped me before actually eating any turkey in the days before Thanksgiving.  In fact, I was so anticipatorially lazy that I did not help AT ALL on Thanksgiving, either with cooking or cleaning up.  Instead I busied myself by "entertaining" my 9- and 11-year-old cousins by watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back back-to-back.  Great babysitting, self!   

I was surprised to find that I didn't remember the plot of the Star Wars movies in that much detail, or the amount of cheesy acting and technical nonsense dialogue.  As the Phantom Menace and those other Whiny Anakin movies demonstrated by way of contrast, George Lucas was lucky Harrison Ford et al were so good in the first few.  Also:  the version we were watching was the "remastered" one released 5 or 10 years ago, and the stuff that was changed from the original was HIDEOUS.  In the scene when Han Solo shoots the bounty hunter in the bar, they've changed it so the bounty hunter shoots first.  The whole point is that Han is a badass and not particularly burdened by moral considerations!  Also, why would the bounty hunter miss at nearly point-blank range?  Then in the very next scene, when Han goes to get his ship to take Luke and Obi Wan to Alderan, who shows up but Jabba the Hut, looking shiny, computer-generated, and nonthreatening, to tell him "oh, ok, you can pay me later."  This totally dilutes the threat of the unseen, offscreen Jabba who sends bounty hunters after Han. 

So George Lucas produced awesome movies despite himself.  Good lesson for us all.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fact-free breast cancer discussion

The kerfluffle over the new mammogram and pap smear guidelines has emphasized for me the remarkable lack of facts in the public discussion about most things.  Before deciding whether to be pissed off about these guidelines, I think there are lots of things you'd have to know:  Is there some kind of standard way for assessing whether a screening test is worthwhile?  Was that used here?  Are there actual health risks to getting a biopsy that turns out to be a false positive?  It seems weird that they would say unnecessary "anxiety" was a reason not to screen people, because in weighing anxiety vs. death, anxiety seems like not a biggie; does "anxiety" always factor into recommendations about health screenings?  How is it weighed?  (1000 anxious people > 1 dead person?)  There was a lot of attention paid to the fact that these new guidelines didn't consider cost; but (while they're at it with considering anxiety) shouldn't they throw in money too? 
Admittedly I did not spend all weekend looking for the answers to these questions, but I didn't see the answers to ANY of them in anything I read.  Instead there were hours of Sunday talk shows with people yelling crap at each other about rationing, their family members who got breast cancer, and the general idea of "science," but nothing about what that means. 
Of course, when I have to make a decision about something like at what age I will start getting mammograms, I will probably make the decision in a totally impressionistic way, and will actually limit the amount of information I try to find out because the more information, the more confusing it will be.  But I would like to think that somebody would know that information.  Perhaps this is one of those disillusioning things about becoming a grownup.  :(