31 March 2006

Holy cow, Batman!

It's 72 degrees (22.2 C) outside. That's just... well, that's one of the things that makes me think there's something to global warming, but damn, it's nice out.

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There's no such thing as a chocolate milkshake

It's absolutely true. Sure, menus everywhere claim to have them, they'll even bring you a glass full of a thick cold concoction resembling chocolate ice cream. Don't be fooled.

Of course it is remotely possible that I live in my own personal Bizarro world where the chocolate milkshakes I order never taste like chocolate. I know what you're thinking... it's a syrup or restaurant issue. I assure you, it's not. Every chocolate milkshake I've ever ordered from any kind of establishment has not been chocolate flavored.

It's not just me either. On occasion, I have insisted my companions sample for themselves, and they've agreed with me.

Today's tasted like strawberry. Not a single swirl of pink in the whole mix. Not even a drop. At least I like strawberry; it has more kick than vanilla.

So why do I keep ordering them?

Good question.

I reckon it comes down to faith. Some day my shake will come.

Over four years have passed since I wrote this, and I can't remember the last time I ordered a milkshake. I guess I don't have faith. I'd rather have a smoothie anyway.

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29 March 2006

Tacos and the bear

The El Paso taco dinner kit has been one of my favorite meals my whole life. During the course of dinner, my mom asked my dad what Larry had had to say about the bear. Apparently the bear had left some paw prints on our neighbor's house and even in our yard.

"You mean you didn't bother to tell me there were bear prints in the yard? Where are they?" I asked, looking out into the yard hopefully; it was still light out.

"They're probably gone by now," mom said, "We've been walking back and forth there all afternoon."

I sighed. I'm always missing the bear. Over the years, my parents have seen him a few times, but there's no photos, no video, no nothing to console myself with.

We've even had the talk: Do you really want me to wake you up at 5:00 AM if I see the bear? My dad assured me the only times he's seen the bear, it's been very early and all he could really see was a dark lump moving around. Also, by the time he woke me up, it would probably be gone. Since I detest being woken up to begin with, I reluctantly decided "No" was the proper answer.

I finished my fourth and final taco as Mom started telling me about last night's episode of House. I wasn't really in the mood to hear it, so I nodded politely and cleared my dishes. They weren't done eating yet, so I spent a few minutes in the kitchen, rinsing my hands, and getting caramel calcium chews for mom and me. I ate mine and whacked hers onto the counter so it would stand on its corner edge. I set it on top of a jar of olives; the silver wrapper shone warmly and cast a diamond-shaped reflection on the gold cap.

I walked back into the dining room to see if any dishes were ready to be cleared.

Through the sliding glass doors, I noticed something large and black by the tree that holds the wire cord for lowering the bird feeder.

"There's a bear!" I exclaimed.

My parents both looked at me blankly.

"No, really. There's a bear!" I said, pointing for emphasis.

As they got up to look, the bear brought its forepaws to the ground and started walking. I ran into the living room to follow its progress. Sleek black fur with the brown muzzle, just like pictures of real bears, at least 7 feet tall standing. Beautiful.

"Grab your slippers and come out on the deck*," mom called to me.

The bear walked out of view, so I ran back towards the door leading out of the kitchen. Only because dad was in the way did I pause to slip on the scuffs Mom had bought me so I wouldn't ruin my socks walking outside. I didn't want to waste one second of bear time.

"What's Larry's number?" Dad asked me.

"Why would I know?" I replied, shoving the storm door open.

Mom was already outside. She walked back toward the door and addressed my dad, "What's Larry's number?"

"He's already looking for it," I said, striding to the end of the deck. She went in to find it.

The bear was loping into Larry's yard, but it stopped and looked back at me. I waved and said, "Hi."

Then it continued straight towards Larry's house. Mom reappeared in the doorway, phone to her ear and cables strewn beside her. "Where's it at now?"

"It's right next to his house," I answered.

Dad joined me for another look. "Where is it now?" he asked.

I was leaning over the rail and pointed. "See where the concrete goes out the back of his house. I think that black bit there... yup, he just moved. He's right behind there or he's still going along the back."

"This guy came out at dusk. He's a young one," Dad commented.

I had been thinking how big he looked.

He continued, "He didn't even try going for the birdfeeder. He went straight for the cables holding it up."

"Well, he's not dumb."

"No, he's not."

Dad went back inside and Mom came back out; she asked, "Where did he go?"

I told her what I'd just told Dad and added, "I'm not sure if that's part of Larry's deck, or if I'm seeing part of the bear through a railing. It's hard to tell in this light."

"That's Larry's patio," she offered, though I still wasn't certain what I was looking at.

The air was biting and the reward for standing outside had moved out of view. I was glad I'd put the scuffs on afterall; the deck was sure to be as cold as the railing.

I went indoors elated. I saw a bear!

*Our deck extends from the second floor of the house, so there was no danger in that suggestion.

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28 March 2006

A scale with 3 plates

At what point is there so little to lose that you can overcome the fear of making the wrong choice? Perhaps it's when the weight of indecision starts to become more burdensome than the fear.


27 March 2006

Little Creatures: Fred's Rescue (part 2)

(part 1)

When last we met, a wayward salamander dashed into my apartment to set up residence.

I tread carefully and peaked around corners. Several days passed with no sign of the beast.

Mom suggested putting out a saucer of water to lure the critter from hiding, pointing out that it would shrivel and die without it. It hadn't occurred to me and suddenly I was faced with an image worse than the slimy fellow running across my clean kitchen counters. Fred would not die on my watch.

I checked the sources of water in my apartment, even my plants, to see if he'd found refuge. No sign.

In the middle of my living room floor away from easy hiding places I set the oasis. I imagined capturing Fred while he lounged poolside, my styrofoam cup and envelope at the ready. (Somehow these were deemed appropriate salamander catching tools.) Instead, I discovered the evaporation rate of water in Florida this time of year.

By the third time I'd topped off his plate, Fred had become my invisible pet. Before I turned off the lights for the night, I'd tell him supper was ready in the living room.

Two weeks, no sign, and again all the water was gone. Hopeless. I removed the plate.

The week before I'd purchased one of those drain-sludge battling concoctions that I just hadn't gotten around to using. In one of those rare motivated moments, I pulled back my shower curtain only to see Fred, there in the tub.

I quickly disarmed my alarm and gathered my cup and envelope. Fred's a fast little dude though. I couldn't tell if he'd hidden on or under my shower curtain. I checked both sides more than once but just couldn't find him. With some reluctance, I peered into the drain with my flashlight. Impossible to say.

Through the course of the evening, I tried to catch him unawares in the tub but he hid steadfastly. There would be no Drano that night.

This morning, there was Fred hanging out on the green plastic as I took my shower. There wasn't much I could do at that point. I did my best not to splash soap in his direction. My cup and envelope were handy, but since my life philosophy is to sleep as much as possible, there was no time to act before going to work. I could only hope he would stay in the tub until I got home. Thinking ahead, I plugged the drain while I could still see him so that'd be once less place he could hide.

When I arrived home, two weeks of prep and practice under my belt, I was ready. My alarm was off, my door unlocked, and I had the element of surprise. A quick shake to the shower curtain and there he was in the middle of the tub. I hauled the plastic up and over the edge out of his reach. He scrambled but fortunately for me didn't seem able to climb all the way up the tub walls. With my trusty styrofoam cup, I tried to coax him in. No luck, a compelling adversary. Ultimately it was the envelope that saved the day. He climbed onto it so I could cover him with the cup and safely escort him outside. This time, I walked to the bottom of my wet, slimy, leaf-covered stairs. A cool, damp, Florida evening. A salamander's heaven.

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26 March 2006

Little creatures (part 1)

I wrote this a few years ago when I was living in Florida. It suits my mood today.

So it's been one of those late start weekends. You know, one where you sleep more than anything else. Sure, you get up, check your email, maybe watch some tv, but then you flop back into bed.

Round mid-afternoon, I'd finally showered and compiled my grocery list. I still hadn't had breakfast yet. Even though I was hungry, there was nothing here I wanted to eat.

I took a few more swigs of water, slipped my list into my pocket and set the alarm.

When I opened my door, I noticed one of the ubiquitous salamanders resting on my door frame. With some alarm, I tried to shoo it onto the landing outside. It started to move, I cried out, "No, no, no, no!" and then it was inside my apartment heading for my bookshelf. Apparently it didn't speak English.

In the following moments, all these thoughts crossed my mind:

If I don't shut the door, the alarm will go off.
I'm not sure the number I have for the alarm company is still right since they were bought out, and I haven't read through the new paperwork carefully enough yet.
If I shut the door and stay inside the alarm will go off unless I can make it to my room.
I don't think I have enough time to make it to my room.

I shut the door. Me outside. Salamander inside. I walked downstairs to post a letter and to give the alarm enough time to set so I wouldn't blow it by opening the door too soon.

I went back upstairs. Opened the door, looked around... no sign of my lizard stowaway...deactivated the alarm.

It was a baby salamander, relatively clear with black spots, much like one I'd discovered in my apartment a couple of weeks ago.

In that instance, it was late and I was freaked out by movement caught in my periphery. It sort of looked like some large centipede. I went to squash it first, missed, and then realized it was a baby salamander. Then it actually became more traumatic trying to capture it without injuring it. I used the old cover it with a container method. (Yes, I was too girly to pick it up.)

This was fine, except that I'd covered it on a vertical surface. Then the challenge was covering the bottom without injuring it. It was going pretty well till I had to deactivate the alarm so I could set it free outside. It wasn't dead, but it wasn't in the best of shape either. I really didn't want to repeat the experience.

At this point, I should mention that these salamanders are truly EVERYWHERE. I see them everyday skittering along the walls as I walk up the stairs. Just now one was sticking to my window screen outside. They don't usually hang out on my landing that much though. It's just these two little ones... god, maybe it's the same damn salamander. It would figure.

Anyway, I was still very much hungry, and there was no sign of the little bugger, so I went to the store. Later on I vacuumed thinking that might scare him out of hiding but no luck. So now there's this little salamander crawling around my apartment somewhere and it really could be anywhere since they can climb walls and stick to whatever. I'm at a loss.

I suppose I'll just have to resign myself to my new roommate who will eventually freak me out some day once I've forgotten about him as he makes his appearance likely at some deuced inconvenient time. Feh.


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Who would've thought some sheep pictures would arouse such magnitude of commentary? Not me.

23 March 2006

Life through music

This meme over at Kevin's struck my fancy, so I thought I'd play.

Band for a Lifetime:
Choose a band/artist and answer ONLY in titles of their songs.

The hardest part for me is picking the band. For this particular moment, I'm going with Sheryl Crow.

1. Are you male or female?
"Kiss that girl"

2. Describe yourself:
"On the outside"

3. How do some people feel about you:

"You're an original"

4. How do you feel about yourself:
"Crash and burn"
"A change would do you good"

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:
"The Difficult Kind"
"Reach around jerk"

6. Describe your current significant other:

7. Describe where you want to be:

8. Describe how you live:
"We do what we can"

9. Describe how you love:

"Good is good"

10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish:

"Strong enough"

11. Share a few words of wisdom:
"Live it up"

12. Now say goodbye:

"Let's get free"

Play if you like...

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22 March 2006

Pollen, baby powder, and now Wednesday

Change is in the air. The skies are grey and cloudy, but it's more than that; I can feel it: the puffiness, eye sensitivity, the interior nose tickle that's a precursor to sneezing, but instead of that satisfying release, my nose runs, I get a tissue, wash my hands, and the tickle returns. I've become allergic to Wednesday.


The Grey Goods

If you're a fan of Grey's Anatomy* and like dvd commentary, you should check out their free podcasts** and writers' blog. The music guide is something I wish every show had.

*The music off switch is on the right above the show title.
**The podcasts are also available for free at the iTunes music store.

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21 March 2006

Let ye be tided

While I struggle with the fog obscuring my muse, here's something I wrote a long time ago for you to read.


Sitting on the floor,
thighs next to my chest,
arms wrapped below my knees
in the corner formed by my dresser and the wall to my open closet,
a few times more, sucking breath,
fighting suffocation

for my absent love.
And then I was calm
as the fluorescent light flickered on.

Maybe I should keep going

If I stay up progressively later and later, eventually I'll cycle through the day back to a normal schedule, right?

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20 March 2006


I'm not sure what it is lately. The experiential fodder is there: the year I lived in a storefront, any of 4 cross country drives spanning from 1 week to 7 months plus a coastal North to South drive, work on film sets, and so forth. Most of these experiences present themselves as culled lists of highlights in my head, concise ways of explaining how I arrived somewhere else to someone.

When the inspiration is missing, it's just missing. A few of the drives bother me most in this regard, because I did feel like writing during the journey, even took notes in some cases, but once it was over, the feeling was gone, the inspiration dissipated.

What presents one memory as a clear and detailed anecdote, and reduces another to a couple of lines of exposition? It must be my relation to the experience. I have no pressing need to tell a number of stories, some tales feel overworn from their repeated tellings in person, and some things are just difficult to share. The things I do write about, I often have distance from through a lens of humor, or need distance from to dispel frustration. When an experience remains close and unresolved, perhaps that diffuses the clarity required to relinquish it.

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19 March 2006

Was I not already doing this for free?

There's really no end to what you can stumble upon on the internet. The descriptive portion of the one-liner sponsored link above my email inbox read: Completely track your menstrual cycles for free.

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Carnival of the Mundane VI

My post A Prelude to Bewitched is part of the latest Carnival of the Mundane hosted at Bread and Bread. Go check out some other entertaining tales.

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18 March 2006


If it's healthier for you to sit or stand up straight, maintaining good posture, why is slouching so comfortable?

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17 March 2006

Love rekindled

Doctor Who on SciFi.

There's just something very reassuring about that old theme song and, of course, the Doctor's blue police box.

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Chips and Dr Pepper

That's what I'm wishing I added to my dinner order. I was just about to head downstairs to scrounge up something to eat when Mom called and asked if I'd like them to pick up a sandwich for me from Panera bread. (You've gotta love online menus.)

I'm getting the cheddar broccoli soup and half of a Bacon Turkey Bravo sandwich. Hopefully not too much longer. It's been almost a half hour since she called. Hungry.

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What goes up

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 0:43)

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16 March 2006

For my amusement

We were driving home from dinner last week and in the course of conversation, I mentioned something I'd experienced in LA that was cool.

From the back seat, Mom said, "It sounds great. You should really move out there and give it a shot."

There was a pause while I tried to figure out her tone. Undecided, I said, "I don't even know how to take that."

It was a joke, a gibe, a tease, sarcasm, a dig, an irony-- something in this realm because she knows full well that LA kicked my ass hard, not once, but twice. And yet...

there are still many things I miss about it.

Four Things About Los Angeles

Four Jobs I've Had In My Life in LA:
Stock footage logger
DP (Director of Photography)
1st AC (Assistant Camera)

Four Movies About LA I Could Watch Over And Over:
L.A. Story
Dead Again
Laurel Canyon
Blast from the Past

Four LA-Themed Shows I Love(d) To Watch:
The Closer
Beverly Hills, 90210 - the early years before Shannen Doherty left
Laverne & Shirley - (ok, I preferred it before they moved to Hollywood, but that still counts right?)

Four Places I've Lived All Over L.A. (With Food Memories From Each):
Los Feliz: wimpy burger with fries at Fred 62.
Silverlake Hills: meeting buds at The Astro even though the food was never very good.
North Hollywood: having Zatarain's black beans and rice for the first time.
Santa Monica Hills: lunch at Real Food Daily with the friend who was putting me up at the time.

Four Places I Would Vacation At In LA:
Beverly Hills
West Hollywood

Four LA-Based Websites I Visit Daily
Citizen of the Month
There used to be others, but none of them post daily anymore.

Four Of My Favorite Foods Found In LA:
Pink cloud smoothie, The Juice Fountain in Hollywood on Vine
Stuffed french toast (the version with bananas and honey), Doughboy's on 3rd St.
Chocolate orange sticks, Trader Joe's, Los Feliz
Lebni, zahtar, #14 jack pita, and fava beans; Glendale Ranch Market

Four Places In LA I Would Rather Be Right Now:
Sitting in O's green comfy chair, listening to him catch me up while he fixes something to eat.
Overlooking the city from Griffith Park Observatory.
Brand library, Glendale
Hitting golf balls from the upper tier of the driving range in Griffith Park.

Anyone else who lived in LA but doesn't currently who feels like it.

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15 March 2006

Don't forget

Veronica Mars is finally back to new episodes, starting tonight at 9 PM on UPN.

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Why hieroglyphs?

In a comment to my last post, Neil said: Maybe you already wrote about it in another post, but I'm curious how you became so interested in reading hieroglyphs.


I have long been fascinated by ancient Egypt. Ruins of all kinds have always appealed to my eye, but the scale, magnitude, and beauty of ancient Egyptian monuments made them #1 for me. When I was growing up, I had an hieroglyphic stamp set. It's still around somewhere, probably in storage with my other stuff. I got a necklace with a cartouche containing the hieroglyphs for my name, but it didn't contain any of the "cool" symbols I was hoping for, so I moved on to a necklace with an ankh pendant I wore throughout high school and into college.

In my reading over the years, I became more familiar with the gods, goddesses and pharoahs, so I can pick some of their sculptures out when I visit museums like the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. It has the largest Egyptian collection on the West coast and also has a replica of a tomb built within it. It's very cool (if you're me).

A couple months ago, I saw a docu-drama about deciphering the Rosetta Stone which I really enjoyed. I intended to read more about Champollion's decipherment, but instead I discovered a couple of books on hieroglyphs themselves which captured my interest.

Learning hieroglyphs is just the latest element of an ongoing study occurring in fits and starts over years. I read and soak in what I find interesting and don't worry about forgetting details along the way. It's the pleasure of learning without the pressure of homework or exams.

Besides, they're fun to draw.

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14 March 2006


4. Twelfth Night, or What You Will by William Shakespeare (3/5)

5. Hieroglyphics: The Writings of Ancient Egypt by Maria C. Betro (3.5/5)

The use of the word "hieroglyphics" in this book (even the title) bothers me some because of its initial meaning. Books from a couple of decades ago make clear the distinction that hieroglyphs are the symbols and the language, while hieroglyphic is just an adjective relating to the script that's frequently misused. However, after consulting some current dictionaries, it's clear that hieroglyphics is just another word that's been misused so long that it's adopted the incorrect usage as part of its definition. The book was originally written in Italian, so it may not have been the choice of the original author.

Aside from that, the book is pretty good if you want to learn about individual hieroglyphs. The latter half of the text mostly devotes one page to each hieroglyph. The symbol is shown along with cursive equivalents in hieratic and demotic. The background and meaning of the symbol are given (if known) and are accompanied by a photographic example. Some of the examples could be better. In some cases, the thing the hieroglyph represents is shown instead of a written occurrencee of it.

6. Introducing Egyptian Hieroglyphs by Barbara Watterson (4/5)

The first half of the book provides very basic information on the origins of written language which I found pretty useless having already encountered it in other books. The second half is where it becomes worthwhile as the text shifts to instruction in the reading and writing of hieroglyphs. It omits the fact that hieroglyphs, like present-day handwriting, can vary in style from person to person, but it still gives a good overview. I'll need to check it out again to work through all the exercises and get a better handle on the grammar.

7. The Vagina Monologues (The V-Day edition) by Eve Ensler (5/5)

Easily the best thing I've read this year. In my rating system, 5/5 is reserved only for top favorites, books I want or do own, that I would reread multiple times. I read The Vagina Monologues yesterday, and already I want to reread it.

For some books, I skip introductions and post-chatter, but in this one, they're worth reading. The development of the play, the V-Day movement, and the effect it's had on other people involved with it is really compelling reading.

I remember the first time I saw part of the play. I was staying with some friends who had HBO during my longest nomadic trek back in 2002-2003. It had already started, but it didn't take me long to recognize what it must be. I didn't know what to expect, but it made me laugh. And then the next monologue was about a brutal rape, and I changed the channel. My HBO benefactors were three guys I knew from my film school and LA days. Good guys, but guys' guys. Their space was very male, and I just didn't feel comfortable watching it there- not that I find rape easy to hear about or see depicted anywhere.

It reminds me of My Dinner With Andre. What I recall most from that film are images that were never shown, just described.

In any case, I'm glad I finally got around to reading The Vagina Monologues as a whole piece. It made me feel like writing, and any book that can do that is good by me.

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13 March 2006

Pie, please

"Where do you put it all?" our waitress asked me pointedly. The question caught me off-guard, but the way she was holding my dessert hostage made her meaning clear. I looked at my slice of French silk pie and then at her. She was in her forties, around 5' 5", curvy with some extra heft throughout but of a common build to my eye.

Mom laughed and interjected, "You mean: how does she stay so skinny?"

"Well, I thought that but figured I'd just ask where she puts it instead," the waitress replied, setting my pie down.

They continued talking, but I was still trying to figure out how to reply. I was stumped with my own question: what had inspired her to ask in the first place. I was wearing baggy cargo pants and a loose long-sleeved t-shirt: within those clothes, my form could be almost anything. My thighs and hips are thicker than I'd care for, and I weigh more now than I ever have, but knowing all things are relative, I knew it wasn't a good reply. My logic shifted to what I'd had for dinner: two slices of vegetarian pizza with pepperoni, a ginger ale, and a bit of salad. Maybe she assumed I'd eaten more slices?

The waitress' face brightened with an idea. "Have you had any children?"


"Oh, then there's hope. Wait until you've had two, or four or five," she said relishing the idea.

Mom laughed with her, nodding.

Five? I just smiled and shrugged at the waitress. She walked away happily; she'd found the answer I couldn't.

I turned to Mom, rolled my eyes and laughed. "Well, we better not show her any of those shots of you in your bikini with Chris and me in the kiddie pool. You were skinnier then than I am now."

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11 March 2006

Shake it off

Yesterday I left my computer off, checked out a new Target, learned more hieroglyphs, lost a game of Scrabble, and cursed the SciFi channel's decision to put Battlestar Galactica on hiatus until OCTOBER after last night's season finale. As for Stargate: SG1 and Atlantis, they will return in July, but let me say I hate season finale cliffhangers.

Dr. Who starts next week on SciFi, so that's something. Well, mainly it lets my brother off the hook after promising for over a year to burn me dvds of the new British episodes.

I was going to say that I wasn't really feeling any better today, but after writing a bit, my mood is somewhat improved. A commitment to believing I'll feel better is often step one in shaking off a dark mood, if it's one that's possible to shake off.

In this case, the disheartening mood thrust a bunch of petty reasons forth as answers to why I blog. Actually, it was worse in a way because it took sincere hopes to extremes with envy and discontent transforming them into petty desires. When I started blogging, I wanted to see how I would fare when I shared my work and then maybe find some purpose and direction according to the result. I didn't have any hit count or number of regulars in mind, but as a regular reader of many blogs, it's hard for me to ignore the benchmarks other bloggers have achieved in less time that I've yet to reach. That's when it starts to feel personal, like a confirmation of my failure fears. How pathetic, ungracious, and self-indulgent.

I'm grateful for all the readers who do spend some of their precious time here. That you consider it worth your time means a lot to me. If all the people I've encountered throughout my lifetime have taught me anything, it's that most of them do not get when I'm joking or appreciate a regular dose of existential angst; you guys must be cool.

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10 March 2006


The long, drawn-out "Duuuude" that heralds a downer of a tale or happens to be the response to one, this I say now. Perhaps it's offered as my own solace.

I have of late, though wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth.

Such days my mind sinks the blogosphere into a virtual high school full of cliques, clowns, and one claire's desire to be popular.

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09 March 2006

Cleaning up

For the feed hungry, I've made subscribing to TTaT simpler while getting rid of a bunch of tacky banners from my sidebar. Just click the orange icon or text link in the sidebar and pick the reader of your choice to subscribe.


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07 March 2006


No, not mine. On a day with a breezy high of 37 degrees, the kid next door is out shooting hoops in his driveway. I've even heard that familiar thump, thump, twang on days it never climbed out of the teens. That's dedication.

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06 March 2006

And another thing

Having seen barely any of the films nominated for the Academy Awards this year, I'll leave my commentary at this: the music under the acceptance speeches was poor.

It was too loud in the mix, I didn't care for the music selection played (which no doubt contributed to the subdued ambience), and I found it immensely distracting.

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New rule, please

You shouldn't have to attend the wedding of someone to whom you were once engaged.

I just received the 'save the date', nay, 'save the weekend' notice today. That leaves five months to mull over the options. At least saying no to being maid-of-honor is already well behind me.



Lest you judge me solely on my last audio post, I feel compelled to point out the others are better. At least as I remember them. Yes, the vanity is taking hold a bit today.

They are all compiled under the link audioblogs in the sidebar.

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05 March 2006

Inarticulate much?

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 1:08)

Not my most eloquent to be sure. Vanity made me consider re-recording it, but then I decided to leave it be; such is life.

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04 March 2006

Enter the lion

The lowest temperatures of the season coupled with subzero wind chill have felt out of place this late in the year, but then I remembered the month. March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (at least in US folklore). I'm not sure what part of the country that really applies to. The mid-Atlantic and mid-west probably, because many a year the North-East still has snow through April and even sometimes at the beginning of May.

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03 March 2006

On to Egypt

3. Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: The Story of Egyptology by Barbara Mertz (3.5/5)

The title is accurate, so if you're not interested in Egyptology, this book isn't for you. If you are, it's quite good. There's a newer version of it out subtitled: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt; I suspect it boasts more photos.

It's also worth noting that Barbara Mertz is a very successful fiction writer. Under the pen name Elizabeth Peters, she writes my favorite mystery series about the character Amelia Peabody.

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It's an honor just to be nominated

Neil is hosting Carnival of the Mundane 5 over at Citizen of the Month. It's a sort of link-fest celebrating posts that relate ordinary things in a unique way. Neil explains it in more detail here.

My submission Question Mark, Jerk received the distinction of a nomination for the "Most Mundane Post of the Year" award.

OK, so the awards show is completely fake, but it's still pretty cool.

Go and check out some other great posts.

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02 March 2006

Storm rolls in

Outside my window, the snow is coming down so hard and fast right now that it looks like white rain. The trees beyond look like a faded black and white photograph.

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When it comes to underwear, I've been a die-hard Jockey fan for years. However, one broke day, I discovered that Jockey has a subsidiary company that sells the same* underwear, for less than I could buy Jockey on sale, under the name FormFit. While you might buy Jockey at Macy's, you'll find FormFit at Target.

*The colors and patterns may vary a bit, but otherwise the bikini briefs are the same.

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01 March 2006

March is Viggo

Yes, I have a Lord of the Rings calendar. It's small and only cost me two bucks or so when I got it.

Anyway, March is Viggo, so things are looking up.

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Life at 16: The License Test

steering wheelRumor had it that it was easier to get your driver's license in Southland than in North City. I lived closer to North City, but if there was a way to lessen the chance I'd have to parallel park, I was willing to try it. Every day of Easter vacation before my test, I drove the 30 minutes to Southland to practice.

I was having problems. The side roads were narrow, and I couldn't quite get my three-point-turns in three points without pulling into someone's driveway or hitting the curb. Both errors heralded failure according to what I'd learned in driver's ed. Only two days before my test, I finally started to get the hang of parallel parking. I was a wreck all week.

The day of the test, Mom and I arrived at the DMV fifteen minutes early. To pass the time, I read all the signs on the walls. And then I read them again several times over. The three-point turn was mandatory. So was backing up 50 feet.

When it was time for my appointment, the clerk informed us the examiner was running late, and there were still two other people ahead of me. I did my best to stay calm while she told me to go wait in my car.

shirt sleeveThe next half hour felt like a very long time. The day was unusually warm for April, and the sun was hot through the windshield; I started to regret wearing my lucky shirt: a rich blue, heavy, long-sleeved tee from Banana Republic. I shoved the sleeves up past my elbows, and looked at Mom in the rearview mirror. State law mandated that a parent, guardian, or driving instructor had to accompany minors taking the driving test. She looked more nervous than I did because of the waiting. In an attempt to lighten the mood, she joked that she'd hit the floor if I should be braking.

Finally, the examiner arrived, a gruff man with bristly salt and pepper hair named Zucco. He told me to start the car, and I told him to put his seat belt on.seat belt My cousin had warned me that they take points off if you don't mention it before you pull out; it didn't improve Zucco's humor at all. "Go ahead," he growled as he searched for the seat belt.

The engine almost didn't turn over because I hadn't touched the gas pedal, but I caught it just in time to keep the car running. He told me to drive into town. As I pulled out of the parking lot, making sure to stop before the sidewalk, I made sure he wanted me to go right.

"Yes," he huffed as if I was the dumbest kid and greatest imposition he'd ever encountered.

At the next light, a T-intersection, I was pretty sure I should go left and decided it was better to guess than to check with him. When he didn't comment, I started to relax a little a bit, but then a traffic light turned yellow right in front of me. The car came to a slightly jerked stop, but I tried not to worry about it as the test continued.

Pedestrians were everywhere since it was such a beautiful day; every few feet I was stopping at another crosswalk. Zucco instructed me to turn right onto the one-way street, Railroad, which I knew was shaped like a boxy U that ended back on Main Street a block behind us. I stopped at another crosswalk on Main and then as I turned onto Railroad Street, I stopped again for people who'd just started crossing from the far side.

"Go ahead, they don't have anything better to do," Zucco commanded gruffly.

I thought to myself, OK, guy. Chill. I continued driving up the street when he pointed out a space and told me to parallel park. On the LEFT. This was something I'd never done before. If that weren't bad enough, I had to pull up beside a wide truck which was in the space ahead of the one I hoped to back into. As it was, I wasn't very good at parking on the right in between normal sized cars. I decided not to give up and did my best. Unfortunately, I wasn't looking over my left shoulder. I cringe to think how stupid that must have looked, but in the stress of the moment, it just didn't occur to me. Mom told me later that she'd wanted to signal me to look the other way and had even almost hit the floor with her foot, but she'd restrained herself.

So, unaided, I commenced inching back and forth into the space. Zucco interrupted me, "Just pull out. The idea is to get it in in one shot and not disrupt traffic."

I kept calm by assuring myself that he couldn't fail me if I couldn't park on the left. Just around the top corner of the street, he told me to parallel park on the right, behind another truck, in front of a driveway. I tried but I knew I wasn't getting it. I was in the driveway and I knew it, and I was sure he did too. And then I hit the curb. He told me to pull out, so I figured that was it: I'd failed.

I checked for oncoming traffic and started to pull out when a car whipped around the blind corner. Hitting the brakes, I narrowly avoided an accident and figured now I'd flunked the test twice.

"You've got to stay awake and be alert!" Zucco shouted.

I drove around the rest of the block, and when we got to Main Street again, I asked him if he wanted me to go left (back to the registry).

"No, we're going to go around and park again."

This guy is really trying to torture me. As I drove down Main Street, he pointed out a space on the right in front of a fire hydrant. Warily, I surveyed his face, wondering if this was some sort of trick. Noticing my hesitation, he growled, "There's enough room."

It wasn't the reassurance I was hoping for, but by then I knew it was the best I could expect to get from him. I backed in without hitting the curb, but still close to it, evenly spaced between the surrounding vehicles, parallel: it was perfect. "Pull out," Zucco said, "and go back around the block."

As soon as I turned onto Railroad Street, Zucco was aggressively rolling down his window. Some people had double-parked since we'd last been around the block. "Hey! You can't do that!" he roared at a sidewalk full of tourists, "We're gonna send someone out to get you!"

This is what I drove an extra twenty minutes for? I made myself breathe calmly and stay focused on the road.

Once we got around to Main Street again, he told me to drive back to the registry. No three-point-turn, no backing up fifty feet? I've definitely flunked.

Exacerbating my dismay, the parking lot behind the registry was packed. The first two teenagers tested had only to make a u-turn to park right behind the building. I scoped out my options and clicked on my directionals, but Zucco shook his head and barked, "That's not registry parking. Park next to that jeep."

I shut off the engine and as he got out, he turned back to say, "Go in and tell the clerk you passed," before walking away.

I stared at the registry's door as it slowly eased shut behind him. "Did I hear that right?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes," Mom replied with a laugh, "Congratulations, honey."

For a few minutes, I sat there unable to move. I had been prepared to flunk, not to pass. My hand was shaking so badly that I could barely sign my name on my license. Once Mom and I were ready to leave, I refused to drive home.

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photo block

It's like writer's block, but different. Mostly it means any photo you might come across that you'd like to borrow has a clear copyright notice on it. I'm paranoid enough about my own photos being stolen without credit, and I don't want that tarnish on a story I'm proud of.

Yes, it's a drag I haven't posted it yet. I apologize. I do not mean to string you along. I'm just understanding why I don't post more pictures here.

Tomorrow, one way or the other. I promise.

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