Friday, May 28, 2004

I have a confession ...

...I'm wearing men's shoes right now. I love men's shoes. They're sturdy and well-constructed and they usually have sensible soles, not like the tippy, pointy, clickity-clackity and downright dangerous devices that many women feel compelled to own by the dozens. (I had a co-worker who would habitually stuff her pudgy feet into downright ridiculous shoes and then teeter around all day saying "Y'all, my feet hurt." When I would tell her it's because she was wearing bad shoes and she would say "But they're so cute.")

The biggest reason I love men's shoes is--here's another confession--I have Fred Flintstone feet. They're wide, square slabs. My patas were made for sticking through the floorboards of a prehistoric car and giving it a running start. If I were ever in a Quentin Tarantino film he most certainly would not devote as much screen time to my dogs as he does to Uma Thurman's.

Anyway, I got this particular pair of men's shoes the other night. I hadn't originally set out to buy men's shoes--I had every intention of finding a cute but sensible pair of women's loafer-style or topsider-ish everyday casuals with soft soles. I suppose if I had been willing to visit every store in several malls I may have been successful, but as I have little patience for shopping I wanted to walk into an all-purpose shoe store, get some shoes, and then get on with my life. But after an hour of searching desperately for anything in the women's section that wasn't stupid looking, clearly made for Uma Thurman or a broken ankle waiting to happen, I started throwing longing glances toward all the loafers and topsiders in the men's section.

So I meandered over, trying to look merely curious and not like some sort of freak woman who has a men's shoe fetish. I doubted I'd find my size anyway--usually the lowest men's size I see is an 8, while the highest size in the boys' section is 6. So when boys' feet become men's feet do they just skip right over size 7? They had several styles of Sperry Topsiders--which is what I really wanted--but no 7s. But right before I was going to give up I saw a single 7 on the side of a box at the very bottom of a stack. The shoes were canvas Ocean Pacifics in a topsider style and they fit beautifully.

The women at work noticed immediately that I was wearing new shoes when I showed up yesterday. They pronounced them "cute." When I announced that they were men's shoes my co-worker Tracey exclaimed "I'm glad I'm not the only one who does that!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Hey to the Super Nova Scotian ...

I was just catching up on some of the blogs I read--it’s amazing how one little week off can throw you off your schedule. So Andrew, a Brit living in Nova Scotia, wrote a piece about how hard it is to stomach all the blanket “I hate Americans” attitudes and remarks he hears.(You may have to scroll down to May 20--his permalink doesn’t seem to really be permalinking.)

As an American I really appreciate what he wrote--I feel like he was sticking up for me and others like me--but it’s kind of sad that in a way I completely understand the knee-jerk reaction people have against Americans. That’s not to say that I think it’s defensible to engage in that kind of stereotyping against an entire country full of people, but I’m very aware of the ugly face the United States displays toward the rest of the world and how we could appear to be a bunch of fat, arrogant, selfish, isolationist bastards. And as all stereotypes are reinforced by selective perception, when someone meets an American who’s not necessarily all of those things that person is seen as the exception. But let that person display a hint of any unpleasantness, and they’re perceived as reinforcing the stereotype.

Even though I’m American I have my own stereotype about Americans in general. I frequently interact with smart, worldly and considerate Americans who deplore what the Bushes, Rumsfelds, Halliburtons, Wal-Marts, et al, stand for. But more often, daily in fact, I’m confronted with bigotry, ignorance and jingoistic patriotism from people who are only concerned with how much it’s costing them to fill up their SUVs with gas. Just the other day Mark remarked that one reason he has so few friends is that sooner or later everyone he meets says something heinous that makes him not want to hang around them anymore. I pretty much feel the same way. (And of course, the American response to everything I’ve just written would be to say “Why don’t you go to Cuba, then?” because it’s typically American to not be able to take any criticism. There I go stereotyping again.)

But I do appreciate the fact that if I were to show up in Nova Scotia and book a room at The House Of Leaves Bed And Breakfast, my hosts would welcome me. Hey, I can even point out Nova Scotia on a map!

It's too damn cold ...

Winter lasted too long and summer has swooped in very early. Yesterday's 93 degrees was a record high for that date, and this month's average high will probably be a record as well. And I sit here freezing my ass off.

I'm involved in a silent passive-aggressive battle over the office temperature with a co-worker. She likes it bone-achingly cold, and I can't stand being cold. There are two ceiling vents in our office, conveniently located just to the right and to the left of my desk. When I'm not in the room she opens them both way up, so when I return I'm blasted with chilled air. When she leaves the room I close them. This has gone on for many months, and finally on Monday I hammered out a compromise by speaking some of the few words actually uttered in our silent battle. "I'm going to keep one of these vents closed because I'm not going to sit here being bombarded by frigid air," and then I jumped up on a desk and closed the vent. She said OK and hasn't reopened it since.

So that leaves the thermostat wars. We have an actual, accessible working thermostat in our office, way in the back room where all of our expensive and temperametal printing equipment resides. She often sneaks back and bumps it down to 70 degrees or so--which to me is a barbaric temperature, especially when the vent that blows the super-chilled air is right above my desk. So until I see an opening to go back and bump it up to the perfectly civilized 77 degrees or so, I'm forced to wear a fleece jacket and turn on the little contraband space heater I keep under my desk. I may have to bring in a pair of socks as well, because when it's 90+ outside I don't generally wear them and my ankles suffer in the office's arctic chill.

The office isn't the only place I suffer during the summer. Stores are always way too cold. Movie theaters can be torture if I forget to bring a jacket. On days when I ride the van pool I have to remember to bring a jacket because most of the other van pool riders want super-chilled air blasted upon them. Obviously I'm perfectly normal ... so what's wrong with all these people?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

I've got nothing ...

I am suffering by a writers block caused by a complete inspiration overload. How so? Have you ever gone into a video store with absolutely no idea what you want and then not been able to make any sort of decision because the choices are way too numerous? My brain is jumping with thoughts and opinions but I just can't pick one and stick with it long enough to say anything coherent or pithy about it. This happens to me a lot.

Many of my thoughts keep swirling back to an article I read yesterday about why Americans are so fat. We eat all the time and we eat the wrong things and we sit on our asses! OK, I try very hard not to do these things of course ... my weight is OK at this point in time, (although of course I am a woman so I always want to be skinnier, but when I weighed less than I do right now I noticed that my ass became completely flat and I hated it ...) but not according to the BMI tables, which put people like Jennifer Anniston at the the upper edge of the desireable weight range. Now that's just fucked up. But then would I take the fact that the whole BMI thing is a really stupid way to gauge health and turn it into an entire book that calls the current alarm over obesity a "myth?" I doubt it, although I'll admit I haven't read that book yet.

Meanwhile, I want desperately to eat sensibly like Jane E. Brody, except my big problem is that I don't like to cook and I'm not a huge fan of salads.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Sunday, May 23, 2004

I'm back ...

Actually, I got back Thursday and I've been meaning to post all weekend but I never got around to it. We had gone sailing, but because of the prevailing wind direction, by Wednesday the water level was so low that we couldn't get our boat out of the slip. So Thursday we decided to just pack it in and come home. We had gotten out to sail a couple of times, done a little kayak excursion, hung around Oriental a bit and sat on the boat reading, relaxing and drinking Coronas, so the vacation mission had been accomplished anyway.

We had no television or internet connection on the boat, and although we picked up a newspaper or two and listened to NPR on the radio every now and then, I felt very away from it all. It was good. The only news that felt like it directly affected us was the weather, so we had to check in on the computer voice that reads the National Weather Service marine forecast. Otherwise we figured that if the world ended sooner or later we'd run into someone who'd let us know.

When I got back there was an e-mail waiting for me from a guy named Chris, who's doing a very interesting honors project for his English major: The Encyclopedia of Sex. His mission is to compile and categorize every sexual word he can find. He's looking for submissions, so stop by and help him out if you're so inclined.


Saturday, May 15, 2004

Gone fishin' ...

Not exactly fishing ... actually, there will be no fishing involved whatsoever. But I'll be away for a week. I'll take pictures, and maybe I'll even get around to posting them.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Disturbing things ...

I've logged the most visitors I've ever ever in one day, and three quarters of them are looking for a link to the video of Nick Berg's beheading. It's not here. I'm not linking to it because honestly, I'm wishing I hadn't watched it. I had no idea it would be so disturbing--I had once seen video of the Taliban beheading women, but compared to this one those seem almost like euthanasia. No, if you want the link you're going to have to go to Empire Notes, where he also has a link to an older video that, although not as gruesome, disturbs me as much as the Nick Berg video. It's of American soldiers killing a writhing, wounded Iraqi and then cheering about it. One of the soldiers says "These guys are dead now, y'know? But it was a good feeling. And afterwards you're like 'hell yeah, that was awsome, let's do it again!'"

Quick quote of the day ...

Well, OK, so it's actually from yesterday: "Should we really be reduced to defending ourselves by saying at least we don't behead people?"

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The picture of compassion ...

This just cracked me up. (No LA Times account? Use this login: Member name: bunchopants, password: pantsss.)

"The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" ...

Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes has a better commentary on the SF Chronicle article I mentioned yesterday. I said once before how much I value Empire Notes, and it bears repeating. Mahajan referred a few days ago to Sy Hersh as "the last reporter in America," but I think Mahajan is doing an admirable job himself.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

And then there's this ...

"...the trouble with Abu Ghraib was that it was all too consistent with America's models of incarceration."

Just another rant ...

An article in the SF Chronicle points out that the gruesome video showing the beheading of Nick Berg is interpreted by people as supporting their view of the US war against Iraq, regardless of what that view happens to be (i.e. selective perception.)

So while someone like me thinks, "See? This is what I predicted would happen if the US imperialists went off putting matches to the powderkeg that is the middle east ...," the hawks are thinking along the lines of Tom DeLay: "They're not soldiers, they're monsters ... and we are not going to rest until every last one of them is in a cell or a cemetery." The thing is, neither he nor his cronies has any idea whatsoever who "they" are ... which is exactly what has made this war a war against the Iraqi people. Iraqis are all potentially "them" in the eyes of the US military, which is why Iraqis are being picked up en masse in random sweeps and at checkpoints and then tossed into places like Abu Ghraib to be worked over in an attempt to learn something, anything about who and where "they" are. And the truth is that "they" are a miscellany of sects and factions who probably have very little in common but a shared outrage at the giant mess the US has made of their home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I just ate a bison ...

...and boy am I full. OK, not a whole bison, but I did eat bison today. Melanie and I went forth to forage for our lunch in the wilds of downtown Raleigh, and we decided to check out a new place called the Dakota Grill. Sandwiches and burgers and stuff, and all the burgers are available with bison, venison or elk in lieu of beef. I had a "Bison Fighting Sioux Taco." Bison's pretty good ... tastes like chicken.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Better, mostly ...

I'm back at work today, woo hoo. I'm feeling OK, but unfortunately things are really busy at work, leaving me little time for fun and games like this here blog. So I'm going to have sort of a "guest blogger." Last Tuesday when I offered gmail invitations in exchange for participation in a little meme thing I was doing, I got a reply from Marcos in Argentina. Since he has no blog (yes, there are a few people in the world who don't), I told him just to answer the questions and I'd post them in my blog. He did, and then I got sick and never really had the energy to do much but talk about how sick I was, so I never got around to posting his answers. I'm posting them today, but here's the tricky part: he's much more comfortable writing in Spanish, which is in fact what they speak in Argentina, so I'm going to translate his answers. I'll post the Spanish and the the English, and anyone who wants to quibble with my translation skills can write to me at my spiffy gmail address.

1. Is there an issue that you rarely or never discuss with co-workers and casual acquaintances because the discussion will get too heated or emotional? What is it?

Si, creo que no me gusta hablar de temas personales, como problemas sentimetales o algo asi, debido a que necesito un sierto nivel de confianza con una persona para poder hablar en profundidad de esos
temas.

Yes, I think I don't like to talk about personal topics like problems of the heart and such things, because I need a certain level of trust with someone to be able to speak in depth about these things.

2. If you're not currently single, this applies to the days when you were (or just pretend you are for the purposes of answering): You've just met a very attractive person ... Is there any one characteristic, attitude or habit that would automatically cancel that person's prospects with you?

SI!, definitivamente no me gusta las personas que fuman, si alguien fuma esta automaticamente descartado, detesto la gente que tiene ese vicio, no soporto el olor del cigarrillo, y menos cuando la persona
lleba ese olor en su ropa siempre.

YES! I definitely don't like people who smoke. If someone smokes they are automatically ruled out, I detest people who have this vice, I can't stand the smell of cigarettes, and even less when a person always carries the smell on their clothes.

3. Is there a question that you really like to be asked because you like telling people the answer? What is it (and the answer!)?

mmm, bueno se podria decir que SI, me gusta mucho hablar de computadoras (soy adicto!), asi que cuando alguien me hace una pregunta respecto a algun problema tecnico con su pc me agrada mucho :).

Hmm, well one could say that YES, I really like to talk about computers (I'm an addict!), so when someone has a question regarding a technical problem with their pc I really enjoy it.

Thanks very much to Marcos for today's blog fodder!

Friday, May 07, 2004

Let me bore you some more ...

Still another sick day, only today I awoke convinced that what ails me is actually strep throat, so I decided to go to the doctor. They did a "rapid strep" test, which came back negative, but unfortunately the negative results of that test are only 50% accurate (positives are closer to 90% accurate). The doctor said the symptoms point to strep, however. So I could do a throat culture which wouldn't be ready until Monday, and either start antibiotics today (but I'd have to finish 10 days worth even if it's not strep) or wait until Monday but possibly pass the weekend in great pain ...

... Or I could skip all that and get a penicillin shot, of course, which is pretty much considered a one-hit cure ... well of course I want the penicillin shot! Why wouldn't I? Well, people don't like shots, she said ... "Bring it on," I said "I love shots!" So they gave me the shot, which had to be done in the hip, but here's the thing: I hardly felt a thing. Beyond the initial needle stick, which is usually the easiest part of a shot, I felt nothing. Shots usually sting or burn ... this one was completely painless. So now I don't think they actually gave me a shot. I think the doctor figured "She's sick, she wants it to be something that we can make go away, so we'll give her a fake shot and she'll think she's feeling better." I mean, my hip isn't even sore where they gave me the shot. There's a notation on the little sheet they write on under the "Injections/Medications/Immunizations" category, but for all I know it's medical shorthand for "Fake Penicillin Shot." Plus, this is the cheapest doctor's visit I've had since back in the days when medical insurance actually covered anything: $22.80. These days they charge you that much just to sit in their waiting room.

I do seem to be feeling a little better ...

Thursday, May 06, 2004

I'm feeling better, but I'm still boring ...

I spent another day at home, mostly sleeping or sitting and staring out on my deck (it was a gorgeous day--I could have gotten so much done if I'd had the energy). Anyway, I've still got nothing interesting to say. Nyquil is a hell of a drug. I'll probably go to work tomorrow, so perhaps I'll be alert enough to write something half-decent.

I do want to note that nothing lights your stats on fire like the word "gmail." I had the highest number of hits in my history on Tuesday. The last time I had such a traffic spike was when I mentioned William Hung. I wonder what happens when you mention William Hung and gmail in the same entry?

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

I have nothing to offer today ...

I'm sick. There's no excitement here today so you may as well go somewhere else. My illness is nothing exotic or exciting, just a cold, but it was bad enough to make me stay home. I really don't like it when people bring their germs to the office to infect the rest of us, so I figured I'd practice what I preach. Besides, I really did need to stay in bed. I took Nyquil as soon as I woke up this morning and slept until 2. Now it's 8:30 and I'm going back to bed. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Yes, "meme" is just blogspeak for "chain letter" ...

Here are frograbbitmonkey's answers to my meme questions.

Holy crap, y'all ...

I was kidding about selling the gmail invitation on e-bay ... but it turns out people are doing just that. It's just an e-mail account, folks!

No more gmail!!

Well, that didn't take long ... now I'm wishing I had sold the invitations on e-bay instead of trading them for participation in a silly little meme. Congratulations are in order to frograbbitmonkey, who promised to post the answers to my questions on her blog sooner or later, and Marcos from Argentina, who doesn't have a blog but was the first person to respond. I sent him the questions and I told him I'd post the answers here if he sends them to me. I know that's not in keeping with the original spirit of the meme, but I'm working with what I've got.

I'm still contractually obligated to the meme to get one more person to play along, but now that I'm out of gmail invites I've got nothing to offer ...

Today's reading ...

I hate linking to articles in Salon because you have to watch an ad before you can read their articles (or pay $35/per year), but this article, "Guantanamo on Steroids" is worth watching an ad for.

And make no mistake, when George Bush said he was "disgusted" by the revelations about Abu Ghraib (and probably every other detention facility in Iraq), what he meant was that he was disgusted that someone took photos and they got released to the press. Otherwise everything would have suited him just fine. If things go his way we can probably look forward to the same things happening here (oh wait, they already do.)

Get your gmail here ...

A lot of people seem to be a bit miffed that they can't get a gmail address. I had no idea it was anything to covet--I get the offer every time I log in to my Blogger account, so I signed up because I figured I could use yet another free e-mail address that's not spammed up yet. So I am now bunchofpants@gmail.com. What's more, I can send out some invitations to join to other people (I don't know how many--it says "a few friends.") So, anyone who wants to be my friend and get a gmail invitation can participate in this meme so that it doesn't just wither and die on my watch.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Just mo' stuff ...

Blogspot came back ... they had an outage of some sort.

Anyway, I forgot to mention one very worthwhile show that I only watch when I remember to tape it (I don't usually stay up late ... it's past my bedtime right now): Chapelle's Show. My answer to everyone now when things aren't going my way is: "I'm Rick James, bitch!"

Technical difficulties ...

My blog has disappeared from blogspot. I'm just publishing this post to see if I can make it reappear. Talk amongst yourselves ...

Don't kill my TV, just make it better please...

I'm down to about one hour of television per week. Not because I have some holier-than-thou notion that watching television is evil and that I'm somehow better than everyone else for not watching, but because there is only one hour of programming I like enough to remember to watch every week. It's Fox's Sunday nights 9-10 pm lineup: "Malcolm In the Middle" and "Arrested Development." I keep hearing that "AD" will probably be dropped by Fox because even though it was a critical success, the ratings suck. It figures--me liking something is like the kiss of death. If I discover a food product I really like, it's usually discontinued after I become dependent on it (I was devastated when Space Food Sticks disappeared from the shelves). I'm the reason there were only 6 episodes of "Police Squad." When I was a kid, there was a show that lasted one season called "When Things Were Rotten." I'm the reason it only lasted one season.

Anyway, last night there was no "Arrested Development," just two (new!) episodes of "Malcolm." On last week's "AD" they had teasers for the nest episode, so I'm hoping they will have at least one more before the season ends ... unless they're saving so they have a season opener in case they continue.

At any rate, I know there are more important things going on in the world than some sitcom, but all I'm asking for is one lousy hour a week of decent entertainment.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

More from the home front ...

I feel like bragging spreading a little beauty, so let me show you what's been going on around here:

Clematis


Sweet William


Siberian Iris


Rhododendron


Sniff...

Nobody wants to play. I'll just take my meme and go home ...

Saturday, May 01, 2004

War at home ...

I have a rant brewing about the Bush administration's attempts to award itself the rights of a military dictatorship, as well as other recent revelations, but I'm feeling too demoralized to tap it all out on the keyboard right now. I'm also a little tired after having done battle against poison ivy all morning.

Every time my face itches now I'm convinced it's a poison ivy rash. The pestilent weed creeps into my yard over, under and through the fence from my neighbor's yard. This is the neighbor who is dead, so there's no one minding his yard. His son Howard drops by now and then and plans to sell the house, but right now it's just in unoccupied limbo. Even when it was occupied no one minded the yard, so the poison ivy has become quite well established and every spring it launches an invasion into my yard as well. So after pulling all the bits from my side of the fence, I went over to attack it on its home turf. I wore long pants, long sleeves and gloves, but I could never be sure that the evildoing weed hadn't just brushed against my face or taken advantage of the occasional gaps between the end of my sleeves and the top of my gloves.

I had to take out a lot of innocent civilian vegetation to get to the enemy. There were wisteria vines (which I really like so it broke my heart to have to hack it away), climbing roses, English ivy, miscellaneous viney things, common privet and a few other woody shrubs, all intertwined with the poison ivy. I kept saying to myself "I have to destroy the village in order to save it." It's actually a little true--I want the poison ivy gone, and I may actually resort to chemicals to do it, even though that goes against my whole organic approach to the garden thing. Roundup and its ilk takes out the civilians along with the combatants, so the lovely wisteria would become the ex-wisteria. My hacking may have been beneficial, however, because everything was in need of a good pruning.

At any rate, it was impossible to get it all, and if you leave even a tiny rhizome it will come back. So I'm sure I'll be back on the battlefield by summer's end.