29 June 2006

Safe and Sound

I'm back from having lunch with the one and only, Citizen of the Month. Many people have theorized that Sophia is merely a figment of Neil's imagination. I'm here to tell you that's just not true: Neil is the figment. Sophia is a tremendously talented and insightful writer exploring and revealing the male psyche through humor. Who would've guessed?

Leafy trees

OK, maybe not, but it amused me to consider the possibility that someone would create such an elaborate secret identity.

In truth, I had an enjoyable lunch with Neil and Sophia. It was fun meeting them both and set an excellent precedent as my first blogger encounter. I hope I made a favorable impression. I was myself, of that much I'm certain.

It's strange to me that anticipating meeting new people should make me anxious, whereas I'm relatively at ease during the actual meeting (as long as there aren't too many people). What's that anxiety about anyway? Fear of being disliked, having nothing to say, boredom, disliking someone else, feeling clutzy, not good enough, wearing the wrong clothes, saying the wrong thing, offending someone? As I get older, most of these things don't concern me that much or even cross my mind at all when I feel anxious. Maybe it's been reduced to a Pavlovian response to the idea of interacting with new people, a vestige of shyness that at one time had more substantial roots. If that's the case, I should be able to train myself out of it, but I suspect that would require meeting a lot more people which still feels a bit daunting.

Maybe I'm transferring my large group anxiety to all cases of new people. At a party, it can feel like you're competing for people's attention. If you're not entertaining enough, they'll listen to someone better, while trying to be 'on' is jarring to my temperament. One of the things I love about writing is that I can get my whole thought out sans interruption even if it's a bit involved to express. Hmm.

One year ago at TTaT: A Prelude to Bewitched
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If I don't come back...

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 0:53)

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27 June 2006

The Neighbor's Cat

He likes to hang out in our yard and seems particularly fond of the whiskey barrel that contains some goldfish.
Neighbor's Cat

He usually looks pretty friendly, but today he seems a bit ticked off. Let's take a closer look:
Cat

One year ago at TTaT: tip of the week- changing health insurance; tip, part 2
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26 June 2006

Monday Mayhem

Traffic at 2:30 in the afternoon that's gone at 5:30. Nowhere to park. A pedestrian standing a third of the way across a crosswalk but not moving. A husband and wife rearranging myriad plastic bags in the back of their caravan as though they've done a massive grocery run, but everything's so fragile nothing can be stacked. And then after 7 minutes of my patience, she condescends to wave me off because they're not even leaving.

It's officially summer. Goddamn tourists.

(Nothing personal, Neil.)

One prolific day a year ago at TTaT: pickled beets, Another Sunday of Classys, osteospermum, At least 5-4 gets publicity, bugs do like the light
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25 June 2006

The Venture Bros.: Life after death?

Season 2 of The Venture Bros. begins tonight at 10:30 after the final episode from season 1 (available online this week here) at 10:00 on The Cartoon Network.

One of my favorite shows on Adult Swim, The Venture Bros. is Johnny Quest for adults with a sense of humor.

If nothing else, watch the beginning of last season's finale to see the Ventures return from seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Good times, I tell ya.

One year ago at TTaT: Un-friggin-believable, Where's My Inuyasha?
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23 June 2006

Not cutoffs 2: Entropy strikes back

More holes! More fraying! More chances for public indecency!

Coming almost instantaneously to a blog near you: the sequel to the somewhat disturbingly popular Not cutoffs.

When last we saw our intrepid hero, the left leg of her shorts had seen tough times...
shorts

...but now she's back with the right leg of her shorts, facing greater perils than ever!
not cutoffs 2

One year ago at TTaT: Not cutoffs, Eminent Domain
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21 June 2006

#28, ahead of schedule

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (4/5)

My roommate freshman year of college recommended this book to me. I read it then and enjoyed the story of a young man pursuing his own path in the search for enlightenment, but I think I appreciate it much more this, the second, time. Perhaps it's strange that I would be moved by this book when I'm so capable of dismissing the spiritual, but it's the journey that draws me in. Siddhartha makes choices few if any others in his position(s) would, but they're completely valid because it's his life. That's something to which I can relate.

The book is available here on the Project Gutenberg site.

One year ago at TTaT: The Caped Crusader
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20 June 2006

Hurdles

(April 6, 2002)

The first day I went back to the track to resume walking this spring, there were some hurdles aligned down the straight stretch of the fifth lane. I strode past them in the sixth lane as I always opt for the outermost if it's unoccupied.

With my second lap, they didn't look that high. Not impossible at least. I gauged them to be even with my crotch. In essence, I could just step over one without having to get on my toes or do a slight hop.

Lap three, I pondered the symbolic gesture of jumping hurdles as they relate to life. Not five in a row like some track star but just one.

On lap four, I pictured my second foot catching the top of the hurdle sending me crashing knee first into black asphalt. The last thing I need is to suffer through another long term knee injury. Maybe tomorrow, I thought to myself.

The next day I returned, and I swear the hurdles seemed higher, impossible. Someone's trying to tell me something.

As I continued down the track, the remaining hurdles seemed more like they had the day before. Hmm. With careful observation on my next lap, I discovered that the first few were indeed higher, almost waist level for me. Made sense they'd have hurdles of different heights, it's a high school track after all.

It wasn't until many days later when a knee-high hurdle appeared on the track that I actually indulged in jumping one. I did not crash though I could tell my form was not good enough for the crotch-high hurdles that preceded it.

Today, a couple of girls were playing with the hurdles on the grass by the side of the track. Some of the bars on top were lopsided as they endeavored to adjust the height. For the first time, I noticed they had push buttons on both of the vertical supports, much like I imagine the height of aluminum crutches are now adjusted. Every time I've been to the track the hurdles have always been set to their maximum height.

Adjustable hurdles, imagine that.

One year ago at TTaT: Is there Kryptonite nearby?, tip of the week- UK cell phone usage
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18 June 2006

Until the Violence Stops: NYC

If you're in NYC, more seats have been added for tomorrow's performance of A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer: Writers on Violence Against Women and Girls. Myriad talented writers and actors are involved; I'd go if I were there.

The show is part of a festival presented by V-Day called Until the Violence Stops: NYC which continues through June 27. Check out some events if you can.

One year ago at TTaT: Parlez vous?, tony pierce
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17 June 2006

And now for some cacti

cacti

One year ago at TTaT: Thirteen, Up!, No Ben Franklin for me
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15 June 2006

Relieved

I feel so relaxed now that I'm done shopping for my dad's birthday and father's day. I even returned the stress purchase I made last night after running around all afternoon not finding what I wanted. How hard is it to find a decent spatula for grilling? Fairly, if you don't want a whole set, don't want to spend $30 for one implement, and get suckered into new design features. Yesterday was the day of over-thinking it (though really most of the spatulas I looked at were weighted in very off-balance ways and had uncomfortable handles). Today was decisiveness, and it felt great after several days of similar runarounds for other items.

All that's left is wrapping, but I can do that later.

One year ago at TTaT: Cooler
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14 June 2006

Transformation

I like to believe that people are capable of change, but knowing firsthand how difficult it is, I find myself skeptical when it appears in some people, my brother for instance. Like many people, if you're not within a certain geographical proximity to him, within his sphere of daily life, you're not likely to hear from him.

He emailed me last night to ask if Dad's birthday was today (it's not, it's in a few days). I sent him the correct date, but today he followed up with a more substantive missive. This is a rare thing. Last month, he mailed Mom a Mother's Day gift which arrived before the day. His best is usually remembering to call during which he'll say something is in the mail when it isn't; the mentioned gift often has a way of never turning up. I used to be concerned that things were lost in the mail, so I'd email him for tracking and mailing info. After ignoring 3 or 4 of my messages, he would finally reply admitting he hadn't even mailed it yet. My birthday gift (if it comes at all) usually arrives a few months late along with the xmas gifts.

I don't know what to make of this seemingly more conscientious and thoughtful version of my bro. Several months ago, I decided to write off his birthday this year. I figured I'd still call and maybe send a card, but I would skip his gift and my sister-in-law's. With my niece, their birthdays all fall within a three week span providing additional hassle and financial strain to my broke self. I finally snapped, but now I'm feeling a little guilty because this seems like the year he might put in the effort. If I don't (their birthdays all fall the month before mine), he may not bother.

Ah, that's it though: I'm changing too. I can't put myself through a lot of effort when it's barely worth acknowledging to them even if he would respond differently this year. The gift isn't what matters anyway.

I reckon I'll see what my evolving self thinks of his as we go along.

One year ago at TTaT: Bad Title, Good Movie
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12 June 2006

Altered menus

I was standing in the checkout line at Walmart when my pocket started to vibrate. Ordinarily I would've ignored my phone, but I knew it was Mom returning my call. After a bit of dropout-induced confusion, I agreed to pick up dinner: a cheeseburger and fries for Dad, and a fish sandwich for Mom. I hung up just in time to hear my total and to complete the transaction.

Typically, I would've written down their order to make remembering it a non-issue, but my hands were full and I was pressed for time because I had another stop to make first. After a bit of searching at Staples, I found the thumb drive I hope my Dad will like either for his birthday or Father's Day (both this coming weekend), and bought it.

I strode back to my car, navigated the parking maze, waited for a cop to signal me forward past some construction, and pulled into the Wendy's parking lot. Even though it was dinnertime, they weren't busy, for which I was thankful.

The one car ahead of me pulled around the building as I eased up to the menu.

"I'll be with you in a moment," said a male voice emanating from the box.

"Ok," I replied cheerfully. I was grateful for a moment to figure out what I wanted and what they called their fish sandwiches.

I decided to keep it simple by getting the #1 combo meal since I was parched. Reading the rest of the menu, however, did not reveal the existence of a fish sandwich. I read it again. A chicken fillet is not the same thing. I scanned for a seafood or alternative sandwich heading with no luck.

"May I take your order?"

"Yes." It'll be fine, maybe they just ran out of space on the menu with the new stuff they're offering. "I'd like a #1, no onions, with Dr. Pepper."

"Would you like cheese on that?"

"No, thank you."

"Would you like to Biggie size that?"

"No, thank you."

The list of items materialized on the screen beside me.

"Anything else?"

"Yes. A cheeseburger and medium fries."

He interjected, "A classic cheeseburger or a junior cheeseburger?"

I glanced at the menu and said, "Classic."

"And was that medium fries you said?"

"Yes."

The list scrolled down the screen.

"Anything else?"

I took a breath and said, "Yes. Do you have a fish sandwich?"

"We only serve those during lunch."

"Oh." That's weird, but whatever. I scanned the menu again. If you felt like having fish, but it wasn't available, what would be the next closest thing? "Could I have a Homestyle Chicken Fillet?" It has 'fillet' in the title at least.

"I'm sorry, I'm out of those until the truck comes in tomorrow."

Damn, this is getting ridiculous. "Hmm... ok," I said buying myself some time to look over the menu again. Despite its lack of fish, it now seemed brimming with possibilities. Mom would be gracious about whatever I brought home, but I still felt the pressure to choose the right thing. "How about a Spinach Chicken Salad?"

Silence. They can't be out of those too.

Then the salad appeared on the screen. "Would you like the bacon sweet and sour dressing that comes with the salad?"

It sounded strange, but I could've sworn Mom had gotten it before. "Sure."

"Anything else?"

"That's it."

He relayed the total displayed on the screen next to me and asked me to drive to the second window. As I did, it suddenly hit me: Lent. He'd said, "Lent" not "lunch" when I asked about the fish sandwich. That makes even less sense to me, but whatever. I hope Mom likes her salad.

One year ago at TTaT: Perspective, It was not there
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11 June 2006

Brenda's return

The Closer returns for season 2 tomorrow, Monday, June 12 at 9 PM on TNT. The episode will be ad-free, so prepare your recorders or snacks accordingly.

If you missed season 1 (which rocked), it's out on DVD now. Kyra Sedgwick plays Brenda Leigh Johnson, a Deputy Chief of LAPD's Priority Homicide Squad with a knack for getting confessions that lead to convictions. If ever there was a show to convince you that you should always have a lawyer with you when you talk to the police no matter the circumstances, this is it.

I know there are a lot of crime shows out there, but this one is well worth checking out.

One year ago at TTaT: After Midnight
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10 June 2006

Original Broadway Cast Recording

I really wasn't expecting to see this today. Not to be confused with the movie soundtracks, volume 1 or volume 2. No, that's right, the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore romantic comedy The Wedding Singer is now a Broadway musical.

One year ago at TTaT: At Last!!! Audioblog #4!
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08 June 2006

Ah, so this is why

I'd been wondering what was prompting the inundation of the airwaves with Merck's "HPV can cause cervical cancer" PSA, but now I know. Today, the FDA announced its approval of Merck's cervical cancer vaccine. Calling it a 'cervical cancer vaccine' seems a little misleading to me, but obviously that sounds better than calling it a vaccine for 4 of 10 strains of HPV known to cause cervical cancer.
For it to be effective, it needs to be given before a person becomes sexually active.

That means preteens would be the ideal candidates for the vaccine.
Elsewhere, I read that: The Food and Drug Administration approved Gardasil for girls and women aged nine to 26. The FDA said a study in older women was continuing... which means that for now, nothing has changed for me (or nearly all the women I know) except that I've been lumped into the category of "older women" for the first time.

Still, it's progress, and in women's health, no less, so I applaud the scientists behind the vaccine Gardasil.

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07 June 2006

I've had it

When I was five, I announced to my family with great conviction, "I'm never getting married!" This is possibly the best pronouncement I ever made if all those tv mothers and their badgering can be believed because my family has never hassled me about it.

My mom perceived it as a five year old's way of saying she didn't want to be like her mother. I don't know if that's what I was thinking then, but since it's true in some respects now, I don't argue the point.

However, when I was in college, everything changed.

The thoughts are there, but I feel reluctant to type. It's so much easier to be righteous when you're not talking about yourself. It doesn't seem like that should be the case, and yet for myself I find that it is. What once felt like standing up for what was right still feels that way, but it also feels vulnerable.

Anyway...

Despite my conviction when I was five, I became engaged when I was a senior in college. Nothing so strange about that except that it was to a woman. We had matching rings-- puzzle rings, should've known that was a portent-- but otherwise it was a quiet, amorphous thing which we didn't even tell our parents. To us it signified a deeper commitment, but there was never a date, never a concreteness to it. In our case, this was a good thing because things fell apart six months later; but I find myself thinking that if it'd been more official, I might've seen it more clearly and gotten out of it sooner.

Actually that wasn't the first time I considered marriage now that I'm thinking about it. I was on vacation with my family in Rhode Island during a break from high school. We drove past a handsome young man on the sidewalk wearing a long black coat with thick, black, wavy hair. "I'm going to marry him," I thought to myself, watching him until we turned a corner. Alas, I've not seen him since.

In the past few years, many of my friends have gotten hitched, and I confess I find it disconcerting at a time in my life when I don't see myself ever getting married. Some of these friends are also bi, but they've all married men. As happy for them as I am, a small part of me finds their perceivably hetero marriages convenient. Their families can sigh in relief, "It was just a phase, afterall," as they throw their daughters the big traditional bash.

Not too long ago at Everyday Goddess, I read Liz's post on marriage, or rather on not getting married even though she's straight and possible spouse gender is a non-issue for her. I was really impressed by it because it hadn't occurred to me that someone who definitely won't be personally affected by same-sex marriage bans might be willing to give up her right to marry in order to emphasize her support for a same sex couple's right to marry. I think that's pretty damn cool.

All of the political ruckus has added to my sense that marriage is something of which I don't want any part, and yet, I still jot down tunes every now and then to add to my wedding playlist. I may never have occasion to use it, but if I do, I can rest easy knowing that I won't be stuck with "Why do fools fall in love" for the first dance because I didn't have time to think about it; I'll have music that inspires me to sing and dance.

Maybe things will be better in five years.

One year ago at TTaT: Rare Fortune
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05 June 2006

Summer reading (#27)

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (4/5)

I enjoyed the movie when I saw it some years ago. Recently, I saw a bit of it on tv and decided to read the book. There are many significant differences and simplifications to the story for the film version, but they are each enjoyable in their respective media.

The book has it all: action, adventure, romance, danger, betrayal, great fortunes, murder, even Napoleon and the stock market. You don't even have to check it out from the library (though I did), you can read it online or download a copy of it from Project Gutenberg.

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04 June 2006

Dipping a toe in

Drawing of an irisI commented recently that it's been quite some time since I've drawn. A friend's birthday is later this week, and knowing her fondness for plants, I spread out my raincoat and sat on a rain-soaked step to make this sketch today.

The final piece has color: purple with streaks of white and a bit of yellow at the base for the large bottom petals, lavender for the three middle ones, purple for the three upright petals, and green for the stem and leaves. I scanned it before that step since I didn't want flecks of crayon wax stuck to my scanner. I'm not sure which version I prefer though the precision of colored pencils would've been helpful (if I knew offhand where a set was). Nonetheless, I do like the way crayon reacts to the texture of the white linen paper I used.

Last year, I drew her a poppy. A few have just started to bloom with their spectacular orange-red petals with blossoms as large as my hand during the day. I may have to draw another one of those for myself.

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03 June 2006

Move yourself

Another hour on the bike today plus some stretching. Technically, I've fulfilled Neil's Move Your Ass pledge for the week though I haven't actually signed on. Initially, I was getting over the vestiges of illness, so I missed the first week. Now I just find myself reluctant.

The terms are simple enough: exercise for an hour twice a week, or pay $20 to charity and humiliate yourself on your blog for the course of four weeks. I can't afford it which would seem like a great motivator, but the threat of punishment is not one that will inspire me to continue after the term of the pledge is up.

If I'm going to work out, it has to be because I want to. For now, I am inspired and encouraged by the bloggers who have answered Neil's challenge. Once that wears off, I may have to resort to a reward system. ;]

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02 June 2006

Fanslaughter

After an hour on the exercise bike, I tried to return the fan that had been oscillating a breeze in my direction to its previous position. Most inadvertently, I assure you, I killed it.

First a screw popped out, and the head of the fan started to sag. With my left hand I supported the fan and with my right I reached for the screw. When I looked up, I couldn't see where the screw had come from, but I noticed the top of the plastic stand supporting the fan was horribly torn. The warping continued and then the head was free except for the power cord running to the fan motor. The head hung limply from the stand. I considered rigging it up with string so the weight of it wouldn't be pulling on the power cord but conceded that it wasn't salvageable.

I unplugged it and left. Fanslaughter, first degree.

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