Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where Dating Shows Have Never Gone Before.....and NEVER Should Have

Once upon a time, there was "The Dating Game". Fans tuned in during primetime TV hours to watch a contestant ask three hopefuls questions in order to choose one of them for the covetted date. Simple concept, neatly packaged in thirty minutes.

Then, a decade later, we got "Love Connection". Why not bring in audience participation AND a description of the date we never got to see with its predecessor? Instead of the euphoric and hope-filled meeting scenario, why not find out what happens AFTER that, for better or for worse? Oh, and with the added bonus of Chuck Wollery asking the questions that drags the dirt out from under the rug?

Could they ever have seen where that was ultimately going? If they could, Chuck would have been booted from the business long before any of the participants picked their potential partners.

I blame VH1.

Ok, I fully admit that shows with variations on "The Bachelor" certainly did contribute to the out-of-control spiral these programs have taken. Who can forget "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" and its disasterous results? However, VH1 had to take that giant leap into the completely ridiculous first with "The Flavor of Love". VH1 forced its audience to watch Flava Flav in "The Surreal Life", and the network should have noticed something about his completely incomprehensible train of thought there. Instead, the creators of VH1's programming decided to focus the scrutinizing lens on the frightening "convenience of the moment" relationship that "blossomed" between Flava Flav and Brigitte Nielson. It was only a matter of connecting a few dots before you got "The Flavor of Love"--and more than one cycle to boot. Then, because VH1 realized that the network couldn't justify the break-up of every one of Flava Flav's love connections, whether staged or genuine, so someone must have thought "why not bring in a chick-oriented version?" and "who better to use but someone completely outrageous from the previous show?" Voila--born is "I Love New York", currently in it's second run. And, for the rockers out there, so you don't feel left out, your consolation prize was "The Rock of Love" with Bret Michaels.

Each one of those shows had its share of hard-core personalities, cutting their way to the top, mostly for fame and recognition than the subject of the program. There were outrageous moments, people and events you don't expect, and lots of alcohol to go around.

However, nothing compares to "A Shot at Love" with Tila Tequila. NOTHING. Gotta give it to MTV for taking a VH1 concept and infusing just enough of Jerry Springer into it to truly take it to a level it never should have gone. It's actually a lot like that scene in "A Christmas Story" where the kids are standing by the pole and one of them is daring another one to press his tongue onto the frozen metal surface to see if it will stick. The two of them are going back and forth in the "I dare you" volley, until one of them skips the "I triple dare you" and goes for the "I triple dog dare you" instead. What happens? The kid is forced to lick the lamppost and out comes the fire brigade to get it off. Similarly, MTV skipped the seemingly logical next step in the process and creating a same-sex dating show and went straight for the absolutely outlandish in the form of Tila Tequila. Tila apparently is having trouble choosing between men and women, so MTV jumped on that and created a dating free for all where men and women compete for Tila's love. More alcohol than ever before, a physical fight after every elimination, and participants who make you wonder where they came from (and when they will be returning there so we never have to see them again).

Yet another reason why networks like VH1 and MTV should go back to doing what those little letters stand for--showing music videos, featuring musical performances, and generally staying entirely out of the creative programming world.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Update: Reason Number One Has Emerged

1. Being constantly reminded in situations with family, friends, or embarrassingly large groups of people that I don't know that I don't have a job that I can support myself on regardless of the huge amount of paperwork, legwork, etc. I do and have done to remedy that situation as quickly and efficiently as I possibly can so everyone will JUST SHUT THE HELL UP.

Thank you, cue curtain drop.

Top Ten Reasons I MUST Move Out

10. The mysterious disappearance of belongings--anything from catalogues to clothes could be hanging in plain view one minute and never to be seen again the next.

9. The "food" problem--I may take advantage of a home cooked meal every now and again, like everyone else, but after spending fifty dollars on my own grocieries only to find them incorporated into that meal when my ultimate goal is to cook for my own needs is rather self-defeating (and poverty inducing).

8. The fact that my room is a general dumping zone for every other family member's unidentified and unclaimed belongings even though it's general area is about ten feet by ten feet.

7. The time frame anything I want to watch is actually being displayed on the TV screen is limited to when no one else is around.

6. Heating, during the winter months, is apparently not necessary overnight, even if my room is right over the garage and poorly insulated.

5. Phoebe, my mother's cat, is being driven farther and farther into cat psychosis due to the general molestation by my cats "in residence."

4. Visits home by my sister require a constant compromise of car transportation, regardless of the fact that I work eight hours a day full time.

3. If I am switching cars with other family members, and sometimes several times over a short span of days, I will inevitably have to fill up the gas tank in every new car I get into.

2. Reminiscent of my late teen years, my father remains in a semi-awake state for how every many hours I am out at night in order to more effectively demand to know where I went and who I was with when I return home.

You know, I don't think there is any number one reason. Perhaps "personal desperation" should be it. Back to job searching.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Paths to There

So, what does someone have to plug into a search engine to find your blog?

A number of things don't surprise me, such as: madness in the seventeenth century, for example, which pretty much characterizes my life in five words or less. However, upon examining some google searches that have brought recent visitors by, here are a few things that do:

less than reputable characters, family guy from College Park, Maryland

insults for redheads from Washington state

self build castle john mew from Colchester, UK

paul o grady heart attack from Cambridge, UK

younger and younger looking from the United Kingdom

the longest piece of cloth worn ever from Auckland, New Zealand

And, my personal favorite:
nicest ass in the world from Piscataway, New Jersey

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Company-less Misery on the Weekend

It has always been extraordinarily difficult for me to tell the difference between "allergy symptoms" and "infection." Regardless of the fact that neither experience is either more or less miserable than the other, the prospect of "allergy symptoms" always has the advantage of a higher comfort level associated with it. At least I know a change of scenery and a dose of Benadryl, and moments later I'll be good to go.

Not so in the lingering illness category. I distinctly recall an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show from the 70's where Mary had caught a bad cold, and in between sitcom-style disasters, she described the cumulative cold experience as "three days coming, three days here, and three days going." This statement has colored my interpretation of the length of time one suffers from the nasty little microbes.

It also helps if you have a misery-topping condition in memory recall at times like these. I generally look back five years ago when I realized I had mono. I have no idea how long I actually had the virus before the announcement of a positive test result came back from my doctor. I do recall a rather odd sleeping pattern for a few weeks prior--namely, that I was sleeping every free moment I had. I chalked this up to depression due to the nature of my job (I was selling tickets to the museum--a monotonous task that required hours of visitors needlessly complicating the short, simple ticket selling process). One throat culture and one blood test later, and I faced the prospect of being off my feet for an awfully long time. You always hear about the sleeping problems associated with mono, but what they don't tell you is how ridiculously painful the initial throat swelling can be. One gland had increased to the size of an egg in my neck--you could literally see it--and I couldn't swallow anything without waiting until the peak period two hours after taking at least four advil. I usually float these memories through my head while I am waiting for those three Advil Cold and Sinus liquigels to take effect after a long night of congestion, coughing, and sinus pain.

My first interpretation of the latest bout of symptoms fell in the more relieving allergy category. I worked on Wednesday, and at the end of the day, my manager asked me to sew up a canvass bed that had just had the filling replaced. These "beds", of which there are many, are exposed to ship conditions and New England weather patterns year-round, nautrally resulting in extensive mold growth of all species and varieties. Although the filling, which is usually straw, gets replaced, the canvass rarely does, and at this point, fumigation would not irradicate more than half of the organism population living on and in the bedding. After sitting with the bed in my lap for about two hours, I certainly felt the incoming throat inflammation. I put the bed away at the end of the day, drove home, and arrived feeling very "disinterested" and tired--uh-oh. THOSE aren't part of the allergy experience. I woke up the next day, and I couldn't remain in blissful ignorance any longer. I had caught something, and I would be stuck with it for at least another few days. Brilliant.

Well, we have just passed day four of the virus' attack, having taken a day off from work to remain home--a day I didn't want to have to take at all.

The serious kicker in this is a short conversation I had with Tom, my coworker, last week. He had brought in a large bottle of hand sanitizer and placed it on a shelf over his space in the lounge, kindly offering me the use of the contents if I wished. I thought it was good preparation for the oncoming slaught of children in a few weeks, but at the present, a handful of groups and travelers were our only visitors. I also remembered the year I had two bouts with bronchitis within three months--and I thought "you haven't been ill in two winters, you'll be fine." Yeah, Tom, should have taken you up on that offer....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Me versus the LSAT

So, I'm going to take the LSAT at the end of September. Of course, the end of August signals the arrival of the official "freak out" time. Yes, it is still four weeks away. However, there is something about a test that requires an officially acquired fingerprint on the registration card that ignites one's nerves rather early on.

What do you do? Buy as many overpriced instruction manuals from Borders as you possibly can. Make sure they include attention grabbing validations of their content, like they are published by "The Princeton Review", they include at least one CD ROM for good measure, and they assure you that you will "crack the test" after synthesizing their strategies.

Basically, the LSAT includes three main parts. One is a writing sample, so you can't do much about that ahead of time--only the pricey LSAT prep course could assure you of writing sample success. The other two sections that are left are: argument analysis and logic puzzles.

I figured since argument analysis will be a little more section by section, I would leave that off and take it in chunks. The logic puzzles, on the other hand, are patterned very much the same way, so mastering them first assures you of a good score on two sections of the test even before you go into the arguments. That mastery always provides the much needed confidence boost going into something as complicated as the arguments section, so I figured I would take them on first.

The logic puzzles give you a set of items or people and then a set of conditions based on the situation they are placed in. For example, the premise may be: a restaurant features a different entree every evening, starting on Sunday and ending on Saturday. Then, you get a list of entrees and a set of conditions: each entree is featured exacctly once, the veal gets served on Monday, the spaghetti is served the day after the lamb, etc. After that, you have to answer five or six multiple choice questions based on the puzzle.

The first one is always the same: Which of the following is an acceptable order for these items based on the premise and conditions? The easiest puzzles always are the ones that have a specific event or item at a certain time or place in the puzzle. For example, if we use the restaurant premise, one of the conditions could be "the veal is always served on Mondays". At least then you have something to go on. Other puzzles just give you "if "this", then "this"" conditions. Then, if you bother to diagram the stupid thing, there is nothing to diagram.

I worked on this in the local library today, and after about six sets of these questions, I was ready to fall alseep. The LSAT people should let people go if they manage to get a whole set associated with the same puzzle right. Regardless, the sheer repitition will bore people, perhaps to death. Maybe that's why they fingerprint you ahead of time. They can put your registration certificate on top of your body bag and they can identify who you are no matter what state you choose to test in.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Todays News

Mississippi has officially won the distinction of being the fattest state in the USA. The tidbit of information that officially surprised me the most involved the existence of fried pickles, and the fact that this was actually considered "food".

In an effort to reduce diaper use, some parents are participating in a "diaper free" movement. This apparently means that parents teach their children the art of body language to signal the need to relieve themselves. One woman said she had to explain away a lot of odd looks in a public restroom when she was holding her daughter over a sink so she could relieve herself. Perhaps these onlookers were more concerned about the fact that, in a room full of toilets, she chose the basin in which patrons attempt to cleanse themselves of the possible ill-effects of having used a public facility.

About time, huh? This kid finally hacked the iPhone off of the poorly reputed AT & T network. He then apparently sold the model for a car. As for me, I would have held out for more.

Amy Winehouse's father-in-law is calling for a boycott of her recordings until she and her husband seek help. Her daddy may think she's fine, but there's more than one opinion that counts.

In an attempt to lure men to a health food website, the link advertised "what all men should eat" in such a way as to imply the same thing that everyone from hair dye companies to cigarette makers do--"you'll get laid if you (insert action here relating to product)." It turns out that men should be eating pretty much what everyone else is eating to be healthy. Yey food pyramid.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And...."Trench 'N' Fun"

This was the result of overwhelming boredom in one history class--my friend, Lindsay, and I actually had enough time to bring out the Crayolas and create a board game.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How "Trench 'N' Fun" Came Into Being

My fifth grade teacher certainly had her favorites, and I wasn't one of them. Since neither my friend Lindsay nor I fell into her perfect cookie-cutter package of what an eleven-year-old girl should be like, we were more or less "ignored with intent" in the same fashion a cat will sit with its backside in your general direction with the occasional glance over the sholder if dinner is later than expected. Regardless, we fell into the "accelerated student" category, and this entitled us to the occasional project on the side, such as writing and telling stories to the Kindergardeners or reading additional books. However, this didn't excuse us from a lot of class-wide activities, such as the collective reading of the "fifth grade book" that year, Johnny Tremain. After the volumes were first distributed to the class, our teacher started reading the first chapter to us. What could have taken only half an hour--double that at the most--took a murderously long period of time to complete because she stopped to explain every word longer than two syllables to everyone in the class. Because we were all of mixed abilities, I am sure there were students who needed that guidance, and of course that help should be made available to them. For those of us who were on a faster track, well, we generally amused ourselves by reading on ahead or creating board games on the back of our math book covers.

Fast forward to eighth grade. That year, we did a lot of history-oriented projects with one entire unit focused on the American Civil War. The teachers divided us into groups of eleven or twelve, each group made up of randomly chosen students. Like most of the other over-achievers, I could expect perhaps one other student on my level in the group. And yes, that is exactly what happened. As a result, I was busting my ass for not one or two other students, but nearly a dozen of them, because I simply did not want to end up with a low grade averaged in with all of my solo work.

These two situations, and many others, were brought to mind when I read an article today in Time Magazine about how the school systems were leaving genius students behind. I think it goes much farther than that--I think the whole company of over-achievers are left holding the ball on their own. I didn't get out of a mixed ability classroom until I entered high school, and like any other team-oriented exercise, the goings-on of the classes as the years went by were always geared to the proverbial weakest link. This meant hours of reading books, a la Johnny Tremain, the explaining of instructions for projects and crafts over and over again, and lots of "group projects" where the teachers hoped less hard working students would "learn something" from their counterparts that exhibited the early signs of a high work ethic.

Since over achieving students can handle most classroom work without too much trouble, they are usually ignored in a mixed classroom while an overworked teacher focuses on the students who need the extra help. The teacher is forced to create lesson plans that all students can participate in, regardless of what they can (or in many cases are willing to) do, and as a result, many over acheivers finish them long before the rest of the class with little to do in the meantime. Most over achievers are also the best behaved kids in the class, so even though they may be individually or collectively bored or unoccupied, the teacher can reasonably assume that they won't be drawing on the tabletops with indelible marker.

It isn't only that they are ignored, it is that they are essentially "used" by the teachers as teaching tools for other students that is even more inexcusable. Teachers divide students into groups and deliberately mix ability levels so that other students can "learn by example" from their peers. Many times the only thing that separates an over-acheiving student from others on the grade school level is how hard they work--not their abilities. How many of the "smart" kids out there knew someone on the bottom of the class that they knew was just as talented, but who refused to do any homework? Putting groups of students together like that gives the less hard working kids a chance to coast and gives the over achieving kids a heart attack, forcing them to pull more than their own weight for the same grade. Oh, and if anyone out there can remember grade school with any clarity--was there ever a time when a student saw an overachiever and thought "oh, yeah, maybe I should work that hard, too...."? Or was the picture more like this: over acheiving student furiously writing out how to complete a project while other students talk to their friends, throw bits of paper at each other, and talk about what is upcoming next weekend?

The interesting thing about "No Child Left Behind" is that it demands that schools bring up students that sit on the lowest levels. I think it is fantastic that money is being allocated and programs are being developed that allow more students to learn and participate in class. However, the danger is that this is becoming the only focus, leaving over acheiving and bright students essentially to fend for themselves. What's the solution? I'm sure there isn't one because if there were something clear-cut, it would have come to pass in our classrooms long ago.

And if I hadn't had free time in grade school, "Trench 'N' Fun: The World War One Experience" board game wouldn't have graced the back of my history book.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Can I help you?

The good thing about having weekdays off is that you aren't competing with hoards of people when you go shopping. On Saturdays between the hours of 10 am and 10 pm, you are guaranteed to end up standing at the end of a line of half a dozen teenage girls, each one purchasing one item, and the items cumulatively standing at a value of fifteen dollars. The first one will step up to the cashier, and in order to make it clear to everyone in the store, who she believes must be paying attention to her, that she is "with them" behind her and certainly not uncool to the point of shopping alone, she will toss in the occasional comment in on the conversation inevitably going on behind her and in front of you. As they each make their purchases, they will gather to the side of the counter as one at a time join them, and before too long, you'll have an assembled mob there, making more noise collectively than all of the people in the food court nearby put together. By the time you get up there, you'll be adding a trip to the nearby CVS for ibuprofen and bottled water to your shopping trip.

The drawback to weekday shopping is that you will walk into a lot of nearly deserted stores with a lot of very bored sales clerks restocking already well-stocked racks of shirts and slacks, checking through empty changing rooms for articles to rehang, and just generally standing in packs in varying corners of the store. As soon as you walk in, they take notice. By the time you wander to the first rack of attractive looking potential buys, a lucky representative is already on his or her way over to you. You pick up one shirt to give it a once over. By then, you're being greeted in a warmer fashion than you would greet your mother if you hadn't seen her in ten years, with a lengthy announcement following about the latest sale. Sometimes, the pitch is short and you can get on with your shopping. You must assume that in those cases, the salesperson is either not very enthusiastic about making the same announcement over and over or perhaps that he or she has done the unthinkable insofar as to put himself/herself into your shoes for a minute to realize you just want to get on with your errands. Other times, it goes on for a while even if you have made the polite acknowledgements that should signal your desire to be let alone.

Perhaps it is over enthusiasm for the job. Perhaps it is just that person being completely dense.

Today, I went into an Old Navy to look at the summer sale. The crowd wasn't large, but unlike most of the mall stores, there were more than two people in there. I was looking through a table of pullovers when a store clerk, a guy, approached me.

He greeted me, as I expected, and told me the shirts I was looking through were half off. I had observed the sign, but I thanked him for the information.

He asked me "are you planning on purchasing this on your Old Navy charge today?"

I had to admit that I didn't have one. I knew what was coming.

"Well, if you open one today.....(insert shopping benefits here)."

"Thank you, I'll think about it," was my reply, and I turned a few degrees in the direction of the table, prepared to go back to my previous activity.

"I could start one for you right now if you like. I just need a driver's licence and a debit card."

Sigh. Obviously my less-than-straight answer and body language were not enough.

"No, thank you. I need to think about it. I don't often shop in this store," I stated, hoping this additional information would indicate that I wasn't entirely interested.

Then, he gave me a list of the other stores that are affiliated with Old Navy. I thanked him for letting me know, and I again tried to return to leafing through the tops.

"We don't get commission for this, you know," was his next statement. He had sensed my indifference finally, and as opposed to considering the idea that maybe I just didn't want an Old Navy charge card littering my already overstuffed wallet, he thought I just didn't want a hard working store clerk to reap the benefits of my business.

I insisted that I already knew they didn't get commission, which was the only way I could think on the spot to combat the indirect accusation. Finally, he rounded out the conversation with a generic closing statement and I could return to what I was doing--if by then, ten minutes later, I still remembered what I had been doing in the first place.

In comparison, when I went to the Clinique counter in the Macy's on the other side of the mall, after I asked the clerk for her card in reply to her offer of a makeover, she immediately closed the appointment book she had strategically pulled out, took out her card, circled her name and the phone number on it, smiled, and handed it to me with a "I hope to hear from you, thank you for your purchase" without a hitch. She probably figured that I wasn't willing to commit, but since she treated me so politely, I wasn't going to go home and rule the option out because of anything she had done. On the other hand, I would consider it an insult to my personal pride to ever sign up for an Old Navy card at this point, given I put up so much of a fight so that I didn't have to do so.

At present I am Old Navy charge card free, and I probably will call for that makeover.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guess Wrong and...

After a long meeting in the morning, I walked down from one of the administration buildings at work to the "visitor" level where people pass from an exhibit space and gift shop into the "environment" the interpreters work in. The gate sheilding the back of the building, where the interpreters stroll through to get to the break space, was open and a truck was parked just outside of it. I didn't think much of it, and I walked through the gate.

I was met by this guy operating what looked like a power washing hose. He looked at me in a rather funny fashion as I passed by, intending to go into the front door of the gift shop.

"Do you work here?" he asked when I gave him the "what the hell are you looking at me like that" facial expression.

"Yes, why?" was my quick response.

Well, apparently, he was covering the outside of the building with chemicals--and based on his tone of voice and his "you stupid idiot" glance as he turned back to his work.

I immediately retorted, "So, where's the sign?"

He, of course, ignored this. He had placed yellow and black "Caution" tape on the visitor side, but nothing at the gate where employees had access. In addition, regardless of the presence of harmful chemicals, he was in a t-shirt and a pair of jeans--apparently top quality protection against the consequences of exposure to his poisonous mix.

I always enjoy the irony of moments when you are made to look like the moron because someone else was a moron first. And that moron is too much of a moron to realize it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Road Karma

I don't think there is one road out there in the entirety of New England that is NOT under construction right now. Roadwork closes lanes on almost every major highway in the area, sometimes two of three, it can narrow these lanes to barely the width of today's average monster-truck-esque SUV, and it has made the whole city of Providence look like a demilitarized zone. On a recent trip to work, after battling my way up Route 95, I came across a set of familiar fluorescent signs announcing a line painting project ahead. Traffic slowed. We were again reduced to one lane. However, as we approached the merge, it became apparent that the obstruction had nothing to do with line painting. Instead, two lanes had been closed because someone's car, now in a state of wreckage, straddled the other two lanes after what looked like a fairly serious accident (for the car--the company looked like they were all Ok).

What a deja-vu moment.

A few years ago, I was living in downtown Plymouth, and I had to present my landlord with the rent for the upcoming month. My roommate finally bit the bullet and gave me her half, so on my break, which started at about 11:20 in the morning, I drove over to the realty he worked for to drop it off, still dressed in costume. On the way, I noticed a rather larger-than-usual volume of traffic in the downtown area, so instead of make my way back to work on the same road, I continued up the way a bit to catch the highway running south.

At about 11:50, I got on the highway at Exit 9. I quickly passed Exits 8 and 7, but just as I was climbing the hill in between Exits 7 and 6, I ran into a wall of traffic. I chalked up this slow-down to the line painting that similar signs warned was ahead.

12:10: I haven't even gotten over the hill yet, so I can't see what's ahead. Each car is moving up by inches at a time.
12:15: I am obviously going to be late returning to work, so I call my manger. I didn't expect a sympathetic response, and I didn't get one. I mean, how many people have used the "I'm stuck in traffic" excuse to cover up the late rise in the morning or the overindulgent lunch?
12:30: I am finally on the crest of the hill. I can see ahead that ALL three lanes have been closed ahead and a police officer is routing the entire bulk of Route 3 traffic off onto Exit 6, which would put them all through downtown Plymouth.
12:45: The inching process continues. I finish my iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts, my only sustenance available.
1:00: A problem arises--the natural result of the ingestion of a caffeine-infused beverage is already starting to lightly pressure my bladder, and I am no where near the exit.
1:30: Although slightly closer, there is still no indication that I will be getting off the highway anytime soon. I call work again to report my progress.
2:00: Ok, desperation calls for new a new strategy. By now, I can start to estimate time. I am probably at least 45 minutes from the exit, and I have no idea how long past that point I will be stuck on the road. I still have my empty coffee cup. My back seat has tinted windows all around, and I am wearing the long skirts that characterize the pilgrim costume. I put the car in park. No wanting to miss any newly available centimeters that will open up between my car and the car ahead of me, I climb quickly into the back of the car.
Ahhhhhh.....sweet relief.
I close the cup, tieing it up in a plastic bag in the back and I return to the drivers' seat. I am fairly certain, given the expressions on the now familiar faces in the cars around me, that although they may not have been able to see anything, they certainly know what was going on in my vehicle.
2:30: Another call to work. I am sure that I am entirely disbelieved, and I suggest that the radio be turned on or the news watched for verification of my story.
3:00: I am finally on the exit ramp. There are more line painting signs ahead on the highway, but there is no indication of whether that, or something else, was the cause of the traffic problems.
3:45: I pull into the parking lot behind my apartment building. Although I am only about 3 miles away from work, I have given up the quest. I tell the people at work not to expect me back. I lie down on the floor of my living room in a moment of necessary recovery.

At 5pm, the news programs started up, so I turned on the TV. Thankfully, there was the story. And line painting was no where involved.

A cement truck driver, casually ignoring the warnings that the left lane was closed ahead, was zipping down the highway, and only at the absolute last minute, thought to change lanes to the right. He was probably thinking that the other vehicles would either naturally get out of his way when he made the quick lane change, as most truck drivers do, but a car riding a little too close on his right--which he apparently "didn't see" (or ignored is more like it)--prevented that course of action, and he flipped the truck between Exits 6 and 5. One of the passengers in the car went to the hospital. This happened at about 10 in the morning, and the bright idea the police came up with was to divert three lanes of highway traffic through one-lane and multiple-stoplighted downtown Plymouth. Apparently, no one was in a rush to remedy this situation because it took until 4:30 for the mess to be cleared--the longest time I have ever heard to accomplish this task.

I am now convinced that somehow "line painting" is an invocation of the existence, or non-existence of road work karma. If your highway has been a good highway, everything will go smoothly, but if your highway has been difficult to drive, backing up traffic, knocking your car's structural integrity with uneven pavement, it's an opportunity to purge it's many sins with one, huge mess of immense proportions. At least it gets to start over afterwards.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hoya for Reunion Weekend

Last weekend, I attended my five year college reunion. I had signed up for it, having misread the website dates--exchanging what was the first weekend of June for that in July. Because I was quickly approaching a deadline at work, I had originally planned to work through the weekend, and at first, I decided against going all together. However, a turn of events and some available free time changed my mind, and although I missed the initial festivities on Friday, I raced up to Worcester to make it for the evening formal events on Saturday night.

Holy Cross is built on one of Worcester's seven hills, which means everything is on an incline. Because of how physically taxing it is to get from the bottom of the hill to the top of it, the student population at Holy Cross can be reliably tapped by the scientific community for proportional evidence of an obesity gene. The sign at the gate instructed new arrivals to drive to the top of the hill to retrieve their registration information, however, when I got there, I discovered that the operation had moved to another building farther down the hill--quite a walk away. I managed to acquire the information I needed, get to a room on campus I had paid a small sum to use, get dressed into something at least somewhat formal, and make my way down to the dining hall for the dinner.

I will now rate the different parts of the experience on a scale from 1 to 10. 10, of course, being way beyond my wildest dreams and 1 indicating an utterly amazing waste of time and resources.

The Campus: 8
It was always a beautifully landscaped place, and it continues to live up to that standard. New buildings have been added, too, and all in keeping with the original architecture of the school. Of course, that doesn't mean that the dorm we were all staying in had in any way been updated or improved on the interior since about 1975.

The People: 9
I got to see pretty much all of my good friends from school with only a few exceptions, and they were as good company as they had always been. I was particularly happy to see my friend, Pat, with whom I haven't spoken much since graduation.

The Dinner: 3
The quality of the meals served on campus were always a subject of criticism when we were living there. We had hoped that since it was a "formal dinner" that some quality would have been infused into the cuisine. Those hopes were vastly misplaced.

The Prayer: 2
Yes, the college is a Jesuit-run school, so at least one of your classmates is bound to have become a priest since graduation, and who better to ask to say the blessing? Unfortunately, his long-sought-after mastery of the Bible and all its contents rather stood in the way of anything that could be described as "meaningful".

Weight Gain: 5
Although I can speak for my own friends in that there was no dramatic body change of any kind (in fact, everyone looked about the same, frankly), some of your more stick-thin types in days of old had packed on about thirty pounds since graduation. Again, it's all about the uphill terrain.

The Music: 5
"Pandemonium", the hired band, was fairly good with a few misses here and there. They lose points, however, for warming up for two hours while we were trying to consume the meal the college served us with their amplifiers up past the 11 mark. Elizabeth, one of my old roommates, commented that perhaps they were trying to play in a really postmodern fashion.

The Energy Level: 7
I am only gathering this on hersay, but from what I did hear, Friday night was the "go all out" time frame. People were up until 5 in the morning playing beer games in the hallways and out in front of the dorms, and then, suddenly the next day, the participants realized that excessive alcohol consumption at 27 years old isn't quite the same experience the next day as it was at 22 years old. As a result, some of the company were a little drained by the time I got there, and I was only sorry to have missed the more exciting evening. However, they managed to pull it together for the second night in the end.

Drunken Brawling: 8
Props here goes to the class of 1987 who I hear ripped it up huge at the end of the band's performance. Nothing like "unfinished business" twenty years on. I also heard a report from my roommate for the night, Elizabeth, that she had woken up to a fight erupting outside of the window in which the main theme was "you slept with my wife" presumably before the said woman was the wife in the first place.

The Cleaning Crew: 10
Now, I can't speak for what I didn't see, which was the clean up in the dorm after the weekend was over, but I can say that after most of the company had retired to bed at about 7 in the morning, a crew came through and neatened up in front of the dorm where there had been at least 800 empty beer cans, corresponding boxes, and even an emptied keg. By the time most people were up and running, there was no evidence of the ale orgy to be found.

Overall, an exceptional experience and quite a throwback in many ways. I don't think I could have taken it all for more than a weekend--it would have got tiring and dull--but it was good to see everyone, and I hope that it won't be another five years before I see some of them again. I drove home through some miserable weather really glad I had come out there.

Next Reunion's topics: Ugliest children, Mismatched couples, FipCup at 32, and Further downward spirals of weight gain.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I was in my bathroom this morning, deciding whether or not to curl my hair, when I heard the words "Have a Happy Period" from the TV set closest by.

Have a happy what?

Apparently, one menstrual pad/tampon company decided that in order to market itself more effectively, the newest line of pads will include what amounts to a baby wipe attached to each individual package. You take the new pad out and lo and behold, you can get that "shower-clean feeling" as a bonus for buying their product. First of all, I have never gotten a clean enough feeling from what amounts of a small, moistened towellette to classify it with the "shower" genre, and second, and more importantly, WHO came up with that marketing campaign?

My answer--it must have been a guy, regardless of the fact that the voices that advertize feminine hygene products are never masculine. A woman would have slammed that one down right way--the implication that a wet towel could, in any large scale way, turn what is at least three days of living hell into a "happy" experience.

However, there is, of course the OB line of tampons, which, although "designed by a woman" are completely without applicators. Given that omission, I tend to believe that is more a gimmick than a reality.

On the ligher, and local, side, Buddy Cianci, former Mayor of Providence and subject of the book, "The Prince of Providence," has been released from prison, and Steve Laffey, who challenged the incubent Republican Sentor last fall, has published a book that he claims Rhode Islanders will love. If that is the case, you would hope that more people would have voted for the man.

At least the weather is good, and my cats are happy, although there has been a significant reduction in the local chipmunk population of late for whom I have become primary gravedigger.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Escape Attempt

My sister came home for her "spring break" from school in February. Usually, whenever any of us kids have to travel somewhere by plane, we ask our father to do it for us. Since his work takes him all over the country on a regular basis, he has a quick and easy program on his computer that makes it happen in the most efficient manner for the right price. This time, Heather did not stick with her original travel plan. She changed her tickets from a United flight to a Delta equivalent--similar timing, arriving in the same, why the change?

Well, one very small thing distinguishes these two reputable airlines. United will not allow pets to fly on board. Delta, with a few exceptions, will.

Heather arrived at the airport with a very small plastic cage in her purse. Inside were two fairly substancially sized hamsters--a male and a female. The female was dubbed "Nevens," although I am unclear as to what this name represents. The male carried the very plebian name "Hamster," given he was a replacement for his predecessor, Kenevil, who tragically died upon meeting up with a friend's pet dog that still retained some hunting instincts. Heather brought them upstairs and put them into the bathroom that she and I share. Half an hour later, I entered the bathroom only to find one hamster present. Nevens was comfortably lodged behind the toilet by the door. Hamster, on the other hand, could not be found. We looked through every room on the second floor save one--our parents had retired to bed leaving one of the doubled doors to their room cracked to allow access to the cat population. After hours of searching, we concluded that he must have gone in, and we had to abandon our efforts.

At about 6:30 in the morning, my father presented a sleeping Heather with Hamster. He had gotten up at his usually early hour to find Hamster in an overturned can of peanuts on the carpet by his side of the bed. Fortunately, he did so before Harriet, our oldest and most capably mouse-catching cat, came into the room, sniffed out the peanut can, and followed the scent to the closed door of Heather's room outside of which she sat for the next few hours.

Heather flew out to Colorado the following weekend, leaving Hamster and Nevens in our temporary care (although I beg to ask how temporary). Because the two of them did not get along, we gave them each their own cage. Nevens has her own space with a removeable plastic top and a few nooks and crannies she likes to sleep in. Hamster, the most athletic of the two, has a wire cage that is higher than it is wide, but it includes a wheel in which he will run for hours to make up for the lack of floor space.

Their cages are cleaned once a week. A few weeks ago, my mother brought both of them downstairs and proceded to change their fluff and add extra food and water--a process the hamsters, as hoarders who enjoy filth, never quite appreciate. She finished Nevens' cage last and left it on the countertop overnight. The next morning, the entire top of the cage had been removed and Nevens was nowhere to be found.

A search was immediately mounted. At first, it was concluded that she must have been injured by the fall from the counter to the floor and perhaps limped off somewhere nearby. However, an inspection of the all of the closest undersides of cabinets and appliances revealed nothing. My father put out small piles of food in random places, and they all remained untouched. Ironically, there was never a point when they assumed that one or more of the half a dozen cats in the house had got a hold of the innocent creature and brought it to an untimely end. As the days went by, the active search became a recovery mission. Nothing turned up at all. We resigned Nevens to the long line of unsolved residential mysteries.

One evening, my mother and I were sitting in the living room--it had been about five days since we had last seen Nevens. My mother turned down the volume on the TV set--she heard scratching somewhere, she claimed. Once the set was no longer interfering with this scratching sound, I also heard it, but I thought it was the printer on the second floor resetting itself in the usual "contacting the printer planet-like" manner. However, my mother was not content with that explanation. She walked over to the opposite wall and peered into the air conditioning vent on the floor closest to the TV. Lo and behold, there she was, scratching about on the metal grating under the floor plating. She reached in and brought out Nevens. With very little protest, Nevens was returned to her cage five days after officially breaking out. After a quick nibble, a little water, and some rummaging of the new fluff, she was comfortably asleep in her usual spot as if nothing ever happened.

So much for having a house full of felines.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare was promptly placed on top of her removeable cage top to prevent a repeat of the recent events. Due to good behavior, that has been downgraded to The Joy of Cooking. If this trend continues, the American Heritage Dictionary is next.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bits and Pieces

Ah, May. And now, we, the population of New England, are finally getting a taste of the weather we would normally associate with this time of the year. There are blooming trees. lots of flowers, even leaves *almost* out and full grown now. The sun even makes varying appearances over our little cluster of six states.

Finally, the website upon which so many of us spent our winter working has been put online. If you're interested, please see The Mayflower Story. To allay any confusion, this is not about the famous voyage of the pilgrims in 1620. Instead, this website focuses on the journey of the Mayflower II, part of the exhibit on the waterfront belonging to Plimoth Plantation. Check out the web clips along the path of the voyage--we really focused on those in particular. This summer, the remaining members of the crew from the 1957 voyage have been invited to the US for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary this year of the ship's arrival. We will hopefully be sailing the ship this upcoming July as a result. I have never seen the ship sail in person, actually, for all the work I have done at Plimoth Plantation, so regardless of where I am by that time, I will certainly at least make an effort to see it happen.

So, Tony Blair is finally stepping down as PM in the UK. When I first went over in October of 2005, I remember the whole election process of a new opposition party leader--something that I completely did not understand given my background. Eventually, David Cameron was elected to this post, and although a little slick for my tastes (and obviously with his "eye on the prize"), I can see how his charisma will win him votes. I am curious to know if there will be an election following Blair's departure, which was something hinted at but not confirmed by last fall. If so, I can clearly see David Cameron go up against Gordon Brown, and therefore, winning the election.

I have decided to go to my five year college reunion. We'll see how that goes.

Wasps have decided that the eave over my main window is the best place to create a comb complex. The combined forces of my hose and my bottle of Raid says otherwise.

Well there you are. I hope all is well out there with the rest of you.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Definition of "Emergency"

I always marveled at the contradiction that is the "Emergency Room". The very name implies a place of urgent and immediate action, where things are swiftly remedied in an efficient manner. Of course, if anyone has had that sort of experience in the ER, I would rather assume that some unfortunate accident befell you in the Twilight Zone forcing you to visit the establishment.

I never gravitated towards the ER television series, either. I think there are only so many times a show can advertise its next installment as the "most shocking" or "most unbelievable". As the true-to-life Emergency Room requires about three hours of your precious time during which you will mostly be sitting with elderly people watching "As the World Turns", it isn't the picture of the utter chaos of human Armageddon, either.

Lots of pilgrims end up in the Emergency Room for one reason or another. Even before I joined the on-site cast, one interpreter came into the Visitor's Center with his hands entirely bandaged. He had been working in the Village that morning, when a large group of teenagers with a Christian school entered the small confines of the house in which he was sitting. The hearth, right by the door, was being tended through the obstacle course of new visitors, who were trying to pack themselves inside for want of warmth and entertainment. All of the girls had long skirts on, and given the cool, overcast weather, a number of them wore either tights or nylons. One student, standing with her back to the hearth fire, took one unfortunate step backwards and the hem of her skirt lit up. It would take only seconds for her nylons to be sacrificed as well, but the interpreter present was quicker to act than think. He dashed over to her, dodging furniture, people and props, grabbed the bewildered girl, put her over his lap and literally beat the fire out with his bare hands. The result was first, a charred skirt with literally an eight inch gaping hole, second, a pair of very burned and blistered hands leading to a trip to the local Emergency Room, and third, several days off for the altruistically injured interpreter.

Fortunately, I was never physically compromised by working in the Village between a few singed petticoats, a handful of cuts, and even sitting on a nest of yellow jackets (there has never been a moment during which I was more grateful for the several layers of wool covering my lower quarters since then). I did accompany my friend, Lori, to the Emergency Room after her having been stepped on by a cow. She was leading Rose, the local livestock, from the grazing field outside of the town gates back into her pen, when both of them stepped in the same place at the same time, the cow's reflexes slightly behind her own. She said a white light flashed and she crumpled in the field. Thankfully, this was observed by another interpreter, Asia, who quickly sounded the alarm to get the nearest and most capable help. Although the Emergency Room was close by--perhaps a mile or so--none of us wanted Lori to go alone, so I drove her there. We arrived at about 4:30 and the whole process ended five hours later, during which she was x-rayed. The damage amounted to some wear and tear due to crushing, but nothing actually broken.

If something WERE broken, I am certain we would have been in there until at least 10.

The local interpreters knew where we were, and most of them stopped by for a while. I think the Emergency Room went from inexplicably stagnant to lively. No need for a weekly series.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's Cold, a Cold, and Cadbury Creme Eggs

So, it's April, and that little weather icon under my Yahoo mail account displays a bright, yellow sun unobstructed by clouds. No matter how hopeful this report or the scene out of my window appears, the little number on the temperature guage hasn't gone above 40 degrees, and since there isn't an additional wind icon, after being deceived by the pictoral report and walking out into the wonderland of your back yard, you are suddenly bombarded by bright light transposed over chilly air only exacerbated by a brisk breeze.

At times like this, I am thankful NOT to be working on the Mayflower. The people who work on the Village site don't know how good they have it in their little, one room mud huts with a fire glowing in the hearth until they are forced to do a ship rotation. A ship rotation generally encompasses about four months at either the beginning or the end of the season, so you either start out in the miserable, cold weather or you wrap the season up with it. On the few occasions I have had to be down on the waterfront this year, each time I looked up from the pier to the half deck--the highest point on the ship seen by visitors--and saw a wool-clad interpreter taking the few opportunities to do their thing that the trickle of available visitors afforded.

Of course, out of no where, I have acquired some kind of sinus infection/cold. I felt it coming on the other day when I was out shopping for food at the supermarket. I don't like shopping on Saturday because everyone else is doing the same thing, and no matter how many people there are out there in one place, their lack of awareness of others around them only increases with the numbers around them. In Shaw's, this amounts to people parking their shopping carts in the middle of aisles while they stand in the middle of the now reduced space and have an inner debate about whether to buy Rice-a-Roni or Uncle Ben's. Seeing this over and over again inspires in me what I consider to be a locked-on-focused state of mind. I will walk through the store and have a game plan in my head--knowing what I will pick up, where it is, and determining what the most efficient means of getting all of my items in the shortest amount of time. This time, I was completely zonked out--and it took about an hour for me to get everything I needed. I went home and immediately took a nap. I could feel the beginnings of what I thought was a cold coming on, but I attributed them to my allergies given I had cleaned the apartment earlier that day.

And now, after getting through the whole winter without a single cough or sneeze that could be attributed to a lack of good health, I am experiencing that "rising" effect that happens after something starts in your throat and moves into your head. My choicest form of relief from this state is Advil Cold and Sinus. However, because a tiny proportion of the population somehow managed to make an illegal drug out of medicines like Advil Cold and Sinus or Claritin, I have to wait in line at the pharmacy counter behind a host of senior citizens, ask for the medicine when I finally get there, be scrutinized by the pharmacist, have my driver's lisence inspected, be forced to sign on a screen for the box, and then, ten minutes later, be bestowed with the coveted medicine by a reluctant pharmacist. And when you're not feeling your best, this song and dance is even more irritating than it normally can be.

Oh, well, at least Easter candy is on sale.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

But I'm (insert age here)

There's nothing like living outside of parental scrutiny after subjecting oneself to it for six months after being free to roam the world for a year's time.

I went to see a play in Boston called "Well" on Saturday night. One of the notably striking lines in the performance had to do with how things suddenly "change" as soon as you walk back into your parents' house. It's as if you are passing through a time warp upon stepping over the threshold--you're back in your teen years and your parents are back treating you like no amount of subsequently gained life experience or education had any positive effect on you since that time.

Although you may have successfully lived internationally without desperately calling home for help, somehow if you don't come home within a twenty-four hour stretch, parental panic ensues. It doesn't matter how many times you told them you were going out and didn't know when you were coming back again--even if you got really ambitious and gave them a play by play of where you were going when and with whom, you'll still get the "where the hell are you?"
phone call at some point and you better hope you aren't in a situation in which that may cause you some embarrassment.

Then, you arrive home and must directly confront the situation.

"Where were you?"
"I was out--just like I said I was going to be."
"And you didn't come home until now?"
"(Instert parental title here), I'm (insert age here)."

The funny thing is that when you were anywhere between 14 and 18 years old, the assertion of age only served to enhance your parents' arguments: of course they are going to call you, you're only 14 or 17, etc. However, this gets increasingly harder to justify after you hop over the 21 line. Once you start putting in numbers over 25, then, it just sounds ridiculous. In my case, if this is my mother--and she usually does most of the quizzing--I'll make a point of the fact that she had already had me (her first child) by my present age. That usually places a pause in the conversation.

However, it goes on--this time, the car is somehow brought into question. Now, two months ago, my brother brought our Toyota 4-Runner to my parents' house with the front of it in a semi-crushed, somehow hanging-off-of-the-body-of-the vehicle state--and with a broken window to boot given someone had recently stolen his stereo. I think it was in the shop for between three and four weeks to repair everything. The cost more than likely outweighed the value of the vehicle. When my mother starts calling my brother to "check up" on the state of the 4-Runner on a daily basis, then perhaps I will entertain the "where the hell are you?" phone call under this line of reasoning. Since I am sure you assume this does not go on, and indeed your assumptions would be well founded, and since every time someone asked about the 4-Runner after it's longer-than-expected absence my mother's reply was "oh, someone stole my son's radio and broke a window to do so" rather than "my son crashed into a median on Route 1 inflicting 3500 dollars worth of damage on the front of the car", I am rather inclined to dismiss it.

When I took on a film project at Plimoth Plantation for the Mayflower II's 50th Anniversary, I had to think practically. I worked on the film clips for the upcoming website for three or four days, and many of them ended long after 5 pm only to be tackled again in the morning. I still had my commute to contend with both ways, too--about an hour, maybe more, each way. Since I was working for such a low pay rate, I asked to be housed in lieu of the cash, and they agreed. I moved into a room in a house the museum owns, and I didn't anticipate the amazing benefits thereof--NOT ONE "Where the hell are you?" PHONE CALL. I could take a week's vacation to Tahiti and no one will think to call with the underlying "be home soon" demand implied. I have a roommate for part of the week, and normally I don't like sharing my living space with someone else, save in the case of significant others. However, what I did notice this time was that didn't matter at all--I could do all the basics without scrutiny and somehow, as soon as I walked back over that threshold and out the door, the invasion of the life of a normal 27 year-old stopped.

Thought for the Moment: Yes, counter-lady at the local liquor store, I know you recognize me. I've come in on and off over the last four years as a patron of your establishment. However, somehow, it must make you feel better about yourself to demand ID from me every time I intend to purchase anything from you. The first time, certainly, I understand that. In addition to first-time getting-to-know-yous, you had to put me through the ringer about the format of my driver's lisence. I'm sorry it didn't match your books suitably, although I swear I have no control over my home state's decisions as to how my lisence appears. I am also sorry that since the format change, I retained a copy of my old, laminated version that I can also present to you with the same ID number, the same birthdate, and lo and behold, a photo of the same person on it so if you get excited about being able to give me trouble about my purchase, I can nip that in the bud before it builds too high. And yes, I know, reluctantly, you have to allow me to buy my bottle of white wine because there is no room for reasonable doubt that I am somehow under 21 after presenting you with two forms of ID. I also know that I took additional fun out of the process for you by also carrying my passport with me, just in case a third confirmation of my birth date is in order. However, as time passes, my age only moves farther and farther away from the 21 year threshold rather than closer to it, so the longer you ask me for my ID and the more forms of that ID I bring to you, the person who looks increasingly like an idiot is you rather than myself.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Then, Then and Now

It's March--or it will be for another few days. For some reason, this prompted me to think in a "where we are now" fashion.

Age: 2005: 25
2006: 26
2007: 27

Corresponding Cards: (to find the cards that correspond to your years, simply add the digets in your birthday together for the year in question--for example, if your birthday is the 21st of March and you wanted to find your card for this year, you would add 3+2+1+2+0+0+7 to 15, then add 1+5 to 6, working your way down to a single diget number with the exception of 10 in even years--and check the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck).

2005: The Hermit IX meaning prudence in some cases, but also corruption, roguery, dissemination, concealment and fear.
Accurate? Yes.

2006: The Wheel of Fortune X meaning good fortune, success, and increase.
Accurate? Yes, if the year is viewed as a whole.

2007: The High Priestess II--which is actually my "card", so that has added significance.
Basically, it is one of the few in the cycle that can really be read to be my year in that things should come together somehow to achieve a personal goal. The card itself has an element of mystery and combines both wisdom and passion.
Accurate? Let's hope.

Relationship Status:
2005: Living with long term boyfriend. That relationship would end in the middle of April.

2006: Nothing in March--living in York at University with mostly younger students and no tangible dating prospects.

2007: We're working on that ;-).

Where Living?:
2005: Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
2006: York, United Kingdom
2007: Saunderstown, RI/Plymouth, Massachusetts/anywhere else I travel

2005: About to restart as a Colonial Interpeter at Plimoth Plantation on the Mayflower II full time.

2006: Full time student finishing my second term at the University of York

2007: Putting together a fundraising film at Plimoth Plantation and job searching.

Farseeing Goals:
2005: Get into graduate school.
2006: Get out of graduate school.
2007: Get a job with a living wage.

And now for something completely different:

Ahhh...sun, lovely water, beautiful, vivid colors--who could ask for anything more? Well, at the time, I certainly could have. These were taken on the south side of Newport, RI in February when it was about 10 degrees out with a wind chill of about -17. I think I managed to stand there and snap five or six shots before I ran for the car.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ok, Harriet, You Win...

The cat in the foreground is Harriet, the proverbial queen bee of the cat population here in this house.
Unfortunately, Harriet needs a little extra care every now and then. In the first place, she is a diabetic and requires insulin injections twice a day.
However, her injections never subject her caretakers to potentially severe bodily harm. As long as you "ask" her if seizing her by the neck and thrusting a needle in her neck is Ok, she will at least refrain from punching a hole in your hand with one of her very capable, razor-sharp teeth.
Her "pet peeve", so to speak, is grooming. She has flakey, oily skin that will gradually produce mats in her fur as it sheds. In my experience, if this isn't caught pretty early on in the process, they will knot closer and closer to the skin. It isn't our unwillingness to help her that gets her to this point--instead it is the fact that we realize, from personal experience, that we put ourselves in the way of near-eminent bodily harm if we try. On Mother's Day, two years ago, I called home from work on my break only to discover that my mother had been quickly transported to the local hospital only minutes before because she had made the poor decision to attempt to comb Harriet only to be bitten, hard, to the bone on her hand with the subsequent threat of infection.
Tonight, I took a good look at Harriet, and with mats peeking out here and there in her black fur, it was more than evident to me that yet again, this hazardous task required a new attempt. I knew what I was up against, so I held Harriet with one hand while I utilized the offending implement--the hated "cat brush"--in the other. I managed to get a lot of the chunks of clumped fur out. Every now and again, she would contort her body in such a way as to try and physically make me regret my seemingly adventurous and altruistic decision. This was proving ineffective to her cause, and twenty minutes into the session, I had about half of the matting off of her, and she was in a "no-win" situation on behalf of her cause.
Ah, but how I underestimated Harriet.
She had twisted her body so I was holding her by the scruff of her neck, her head against one of my folded knees and her back end by the other. I was determined to pull off the last clump of fur that made up a huge mat on her left side. Then, I felt something warm on one of my legs. Yes, in a seemingly fully dominated position, even Harriet had her own ways around it. Harriet, the only cat smart enough to know her name, who recognized a seemingly large vocabularly of words, who never did anything "bad", had peed on my right leg.
So much for the "last resort". I suppose it is different for all of us. She was immediately released to her much desired freedom. I, on the other hand, had to strip, wash myself off, and find something else to wear.
I should have brought out the scissors.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Now You See It...

When I went to Norwich last May, I wanted very much to visit this church--St. Andrews. It was the parish in which John Robinson, the "pilgrim's" preacher in the Netherlands, got his start before being ejected from his post for being too "reformist" and making the journey to the continent with his followers.
I was disappointed when I arrived because the church was closed due to some emergency, announced by the florescent paper on the black door in the top photograph. No, I didn't run up, stealthily remove the offensive sheet, and then retake the better, unobstructive shot.
I've been working on film clips that will be going on a new website, and in a step by step process, my manager, Ben, and I learned how to manipulate film and photos with a very in depth program. We've been able to change around words so that statements are clearer, edit smooth transitions between cut film clips, and even use some creative brain power to cover up some more stubborn bits and pieces. Likewise, I started to learn how to use my own photo editing software on my photographs. That stupid paper on the door always drove me crazy whenever I saw the above photo after I took it. Today, I figured out how to take it out.
After Ben and I finished the editing, he said he would never believe what he saw or heard on an edited piece of film again. I don't think he is too far off the mark.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Adventures in Software

Remember the days when you purchased a computer and it came with all of these discs representative of all of the programs that were pre-installed on your computer? Remember when you could just buy new software for updated programs or for new one you wanted to put on your computer?

Ah, gone they are, along with the "safety" of SPF 15 sunblock and the assurance that a gallon of gas would indeed cost less than a value meal (chips and drink included) at Subway.

Upon receipt of my new computer, the first thing I noticed was that there was a minimal quantity of "useful" stuff that came along with it. Everything I identified as a CD-rom was an "upgrade" of a program already on the computer or something I didn't want to use anyway. In order for me to acquire the stacks of back-up discs I used to get, I have to perform a "back up" on the system myself. Oh, and with no indication of how many discs that may take, either.

Windows Vista? Yeah, technobabble blogs that will make the Blogs of Note list long before mine will have LOTS to say about it, and may even debate the pros and cons of it for you. However, the only difference I can see here is a bubble with a Microsoft flag in it where the Start button used to be. If you want to see all your programs, instead of a list that appears off to the side for you with all of them on the screen on the same time, you have to scroll through a list of them. The one disc included in the package with this laptop was to update Vista, and it came with a nifty little remote control that would fit right into a port in the computer. However, in order to use it, I had to upgrade from Windows Vista Home Basic--which does nothing more incredible than Windows XP--to Windows Vista Ultimate, which cost.....drumroll.....two hundred dollars.

Your computer needs two basic sets of programs (unless you fell for the chic commercials with the dorko versus the cool guy representative of a PC and a Mac computer respectively). One is your word processing/office program set--and we all need at least to be able to type and print a document. The other is virus protection/computer security. The makers of this software smartened up some time ago and had their programs installed on your computer with an ever-present (and ever-reminded) expiration date. Therefore, I can use the newest version of Microsoft Office--which only really includes the four basic programs--for sixty days.....oh, wait, not quite. Apparently, the Microsoft tekkies have done it again and after watching endless car ads that offered a warrantee that covered either a certain number of miles or a certain number of years--whichever expired first, they decided to offer their own "compromise." Instead of being able to access the Microsoft Office programs for the sixty days on the icon, I can only open each one of the programs a certain number of times. So, the "subscription" expires either in sixty days or after I open the programs the alotted number of times. upgrade to the "full, unlimited version"? Another 150.

I can say that Norton, the security software, was originally installed for sixty days as well, but they included a program key that without any additional cost, once entered, opened the program for a full year.

Oh, and I did receive a printer, and a pretty good model at that. Too bad the software included to install the printer on this computer wasn't compatible with Windows Vista. Way to go, HP.

*Disclaimer*: Unfortunately, I have just transferred to the new version of Blogger--well, I was more or less compelled to given as soon as I signed into old Blogger, I was immediately transferred to a page that would not allow me access to my Dashboard unless I did the upgrade. I am not sure if anyone else has had trouble recently, but this is the first time Blogger has allowed me to sign in in about a week, and I am not even at my home "port." Therefore, I apologize if I fall short of stopping by any and all sites of visiting Bloggers.

Has anyone else had trouble?

Sunday, February 25, 2007


You notice very mundane things when you're out of work and have been for some time.
  • A day encompasses a lot of time.
  • Thinking too much becomes an understatement.
  • So much time, so little to do, and yet, nothing gets accomplished.

My most recent jobs completed:

  • I purchased a new laptop. My theory regarding Dell computers, given I have owned a number of them in my time, is that they are made very much like cars that have a four-year warranty--to start to break down after about a year and a half. My Dell laptop slowed to such a crawl recently that it was impossible to restart the computer in less than ten minutes (that is no exaggeration). After consulting Consumer Reports, I decided to go with HP this time. So far, so good.
  • Of course, the new purchase meant that I had to transfer all of my files, pictures, documents, and more to this computer, which has taken hours, but far less memory.

Last night, before I actually fell asleep, I picked up The Four Agreements again. In the case of any book with some wisdom to share or some insight to give, I always find myself reading it straight through first, and then, later on, rereading relevent bits and pieces of it. This time, I found myself going back over the section regarding making assumptions. When you're stuck with your own company a lot and little more than that to focus on, it is easy to completely dream up scenarios and explanations in one's head regarding anything from momentary glances to convoluted situations. I think I have found myself doing that most often when I disbelieve that I will receive closure any other way. At least if I "explained" it to myself in my head, then, I could create some scenario where I wasn't to blame or where things came out right in the end. I don't think I have ever once really "accepted" something if there was a missing piece or if the puzzle was hopelessly incomplete.

On a less deep note:

Bad Movie for this evening: "Cutthroat Island". A horrible pirate epic starring Geena Davis. Who cares? Ships, lots of gunfire, tropical locals, even a monkey called King Charles. How can you possily go wrong.

Recent Good Movie choice: "Dances With Wolves". Yeah, yeah, Kevin Costner--I'm sure he has a hate-site out there somewhere. However, the scene was captivating--and truly the only time I can say I have ever thought as much about the American Plains. The self-discovery theme was extremely well developed, and the incorporation of Native American culture (Sioux in this case) was as much an incredible experience as an educational one. There are scenes in that movie that I will never forget and I know will touch me. It's the type of movie that, although long, deserves one's full attention, and at least in my case, I came out of it knowing that enough of it will stay with me that another viewing will not be necessary to refresh my memory so much as it would be to enjoy the film again.

Ugh, exhausted, and back is hurting. How is everyone out there?

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I was again peeling through some old photos and I realized that I never did anything with the pictures I took when I briefly visited Dover in Kent. The city itself wasn't particularly impressive (apologies to any and all Dover residents who read this blog--if there are any, which I doubt), but the castle overlooking the famous white cliffs was a fascinating place, used for literally thousands of years (from the Romans to World War II) and with evidence left by nearly all of its inhabitants. Although harder than one would imagine to get a good view of them, the white cliffs were certainly a memorable sight, as was the countryside that extended out from the city proper, panoramically visible from the Castle complex.

View overlooking the city from Dover Castle

View to the northwest on the wall, one of the Gate Towers

Dover's white cliffs

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Second Tier Photos

Today, I thought to go through some of my photographs from England. When I took a lot of them, I saved them, and some I labeled, but just like anything else, after their "time" on the memory card in my camera had come and gone, I didn't think on a good number of them again. I am not sure why this is the case, but I was most impressed with the sky in England--it may have been how the clouds were formed or how the sunlight came through them and the surrounding scenery, but every time there was a sunset, it was always impressive. This one was labeled as sometime in April of last year, and it was taken overlooking the soccer field outside of the dorm system I lived in.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Letters Never Sent...

Dear Control-Freak Drivers,

I realize that we live in a world where no one else matters more than yourself. I also know you manifest this manic tendency in multiple ways. First, you may catch a glimpse of me driving along just over the speed limit coming up behind you--and see a younger chick driving my car--and automatically assume that I must be "taught a lesson" about safe driving by you behind the wheel of your overstuffed family vehicle with "Baby on Board" sign proudly displayed on one of your stylistically tinted windows. Your reaction under these circumstances is usually to slow down to three or four miles per hour under the speed limit, ultimately endangering the many bundles of joy that are in your car as my frustration gradually extends into the "road rage" category. Or, on the other hand, you may see me coming and know that you are going to force me to hit the brake rather hard if you pull out from Stop and Shop a spilt second before I pass you by (with no one behind me, I might add). As a result, you, with all of your superior years on the road before the gas shortages of the 1970s, wisely decide to turn onto the road in front of me anyway, and then drive exactly at the thirty-mile-per-hour speed limit all the way down the one-lane road extending between me and where I live. I applaud your efforts to deserve the smug look on your face as I sail by you as soon as a second lane appears in either of these circumstances. It's always nice to feel superior, even for a few brief seconds, and especially in environments where the people you've ticked off can't say anything audible to you when you pull your mean-spirited jaunts. I'd like to inform you that I have contacted the Department of Transportation and formally proposed that all cars be fitted with a radio system whereby I, the offended party, can simply type into the computer your lisence plate number and then immediately be connected to the audio system inside your car to tell you what an incredible ass you really are. I feel that this may be the only way you may think twice before impeding my progress on purpose just to feel that little bit better about yourself you apparently need.

Dear Self-Obsessed-Facebook-Profile-Editor,

I admit, yes, I did ask for it by "friending" you online, so I only have myself to blame for the multiple repeat appearances of your name on my "News Feed" every time I check the website. I also admit that Facebook is only one of a number of websites that force people to share information about themselves in inordinate dosages. However, I hate to inform you that I do not believe anyone on your friend list is that interested in your 50+ "Notes" about yourself and your opinions or the continuous updates of your "Status" which include mundane details such as dish washing. I know that the endless searching you do to find "Groups" that truly fit your personality and interests should be acknowledged by the world as a whole, given the list of them extends at least halfway down the long page you have filled out about yourself. Regardless, I must alert you to a few observations--one, that you must spend too many hours in front of a computer given the amount of time that it takes to produce those multiple gems of personal information on my "News Feed" every day. As a result, you may adulterate such important things as your sight and your relationships with actual breathing people (some of whom are on your friend list and may want to see rather than read all about you). My advice? See if you can go one full twenty-four-hour period without "perfecting" your personal information on Facebook. Yes, I know, baby steps toward the goal of actually combatting this obsession, but progress is progress nonetheless. God forbid you go out into the real world and meet someone who may be more talented or perhaps even more interesting than you are.

Dear Self-Important-Woman-With-Too-Much-Time-And-Too-Little-To-Do,

Yes, society is funny isn't it? Since it became unpopular to employ or even own a servant staff of your own, I know circumstances have compelled you to find other targets for your sense of personal superiority. These mainly come in the form of staffpeople at your more frequented establishments such as Panera or Starbucks. However, I regret to inform you that no matter how many times you make an appearance at one of these local businesses, the people there aren't looking for when you are going to come in that day. In fact, this may actually extend to the staff not setting things up to your liking for when you do ultimately arrive. Because of a long morning rush of caffine-deprived small-time-suit-wearers, the Starbucks staff may not have quite gotten around to refilling the milk dispensers, for example, and perhaps, they may not "learn something" from your lecture about how "it is NEVER like this" whenever "YOU" come in for your non-fat, half-caff latte. Outside of the statements themselves, you may be surprised to find out that few people are going to take a forty-something upperclass socialite who is "supported" by her husband wearing a Prada version of camoflage cargo pants, Chanel sunglasses shaped like a box, and with hair dyed that shade of red that insults real redheads everywhere seriously. In fact, you may be shocked to discover that a simple "please" and "thank you" (don't tell me you didn't watch Sesame Street growing up) may get you all that you need or want and may even earn you a smile from the staff when you do come in again. You're more assured to get that result under that premise because otherwise, when you return and you turn your head away for one split second, you don't want to know what the barista is putting in your drink.

The above are letters to people you always "wished" you could send, but ultimately could not because you probably didn't fall into one of the types of categories that would compel doing anything more than waiting out your aggrivation at the actions of other people. I encourage any and all forms of liberation of such frustration. What's a blog for?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Oh, yes, I spent my New Years in the company of---Barry Manilow.
Well, not exactly...
Last summer, Lindsay and I created the "Bagging Barry" plan, which essentially meant that we intended to go and see his show in Las Vegas and spend the New Year in the city as well--the New Years' celebration being entirely secondary to seeing Mr. Manilow, of course.

As you can see, we were successful in this endeavor.

Above we have Barry singing "Mandy" at the piano and below it, Barry singing one of the classic hits from the 1960s off of his newest CD. Yes, Lindsay and I were, by far, the youngest attendees in the audience. We even had to instruct our closest seated neighbors how to get the glow sticks, handed out to all of the audience members before the show, to actually glow. In a phone message left by me after the concert, I described it as having "lots of music, lots of passion..." and Lindsay handily added in "lots of boas..."

We stayed at the Monte Carlo on the Strip, although the sheer size of these places there makes distance seem rather deceiving. It can take about twenty minutes to get from one place to another because you are literally "passing" the places on the way for such a long time.

On New Years, the most interesting elements involved included one fifty year old guy who had taken the time to write "Show your Tits" on a piece of cardboard with a green marker and was showing it to all who passed by, a bunch of "The End is Nigh" Christians holding signs condemning just about everyone and everything (one even had his own wooden cross, life size) holding up foot traffic in the streets, and the simultaneous fireworks let off at a few of the hotels at midnight.

We also saw "Mystere" by Cirque de Soliel at Treasure Island. It really is characteristic of the surrealism associated with the troupe. However, the surprising thing was the audience participation element. An "usher" made occasional appearances from the beginning to the end of the show, generally harassing audience members. Lindsay, at one point, did exhibit extraordinarily good judgement, given an "infant" in the form of one of the performers rolled a large, rubber, orange ball in the direction of our row, which was stopped by a railing in front of us. The "infant" indicated that he wanted the ball returned to him, so Lindsay stood up and pushed it back. Of course, this only prompted him to roll it again, and Lindsay refused to perform the same office a second time. A more compassionate audience member a few seats away obliged, only to become the "infant's" designated "Mama" for the rest of the show. Well done avoiding that fate, Lindsay.

Lest I be accused of putting off my "tag" for yet another post (now only understanding for the first time what the tag actually means), I shall leave off for the present.

"When will our eyes meet...."