Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Habitual choices

Not only am I a creature of the Paleolithic, I'm also one of some very deep and ingrained habits. I literally do practically the same things in the same order every single day. Any little upset to the routine and I go all cranky. It's unbelievably sad just how routinized I am. To give you an example.

Every morning I wake up at the same time to the same CD: 7:30 am to Sarah Brightman's "Harem Tour" CD. Even if I wake up before 7:30, I lie there and wait. And even when the CD comes on, I don't actually get out of bed until My Imagination comes on; some mornings, when I'm particularly eager to get out of bed, I will actually hit the fast-forward button twice to get to the song, I'll listen and then I can get out of bed (Yes, I actually have to listen to it all the way through before I get out of bed).

And then it's a stumble to the kitchen to put the kettle on for coffee so by the time I finish in the bathroom, the water is boiling. I like to watch the last 15 minutes of the Cosby Show and about a half-hour of the Today Show while drinking coffee. I get cranky if I miss the 8 am headlines with Anne Curry. I get really upset if more than two of the Today Show hosts are missing on any given day, like today, when only Matt Lauer was there; 8 am is still not late enough to take Campbell Brown, lemme tell you. Ironing happens at 8:30, along with hair etc., and I'm out the door at 8:50 am at the latest. If I'm out any later than 8:50, I start to get agitated, even though I'm not technically late at work until 9:30 and I live all of 2 miles from the office.

I listen to the same CD in the car every day -- Kuch Kuch Hota Hai -- and I listen to tracks 1, 2 and part of 4 on the way to work. Coming home, it's tracks 6, 7 and part of 8. Every now and then I might deviate and substitute number 5 -- which is a fairly fun and upbeat song -- for either song #4 or song #6. (BTW, a friend from college once visited me and I had Sarah Brightman's Eden in the car for his entire visit; he return a few months later and Eden was still in the CD player. My friend nearly had a conniption on the spot).

I park in the same spot every single day at work and I always take the stairs down the parking garage to the skywalk. I get cranky if the usual guard isn't by the door to wave and smile at me; the other guard doesn't seem as friendly somehow. At the office, first thing I do after logging on to AIM and the stock exchange ticker, I check my email. Then it's a quick check of the day's headlines etc., and by around 9:45, I'm ready to start working. Sometimes we run down to the Mexican place for a breakfast taco. My work day is also fiercely regimentated, with several deadlines over the course of the day. The afternoon deadlines are the killer ones, and I start to get cranky when we get close and there's work still left to be done. Sometimes I'm fearful, that because I am such a creature of routine, that if I'm working a routine job, one of these days I'll just turn into some automaton or something.

At home, after work, the routine is usually either to head to class/gym or a walk with my friend in the evening. Then it's back home for dinner and I watch one episode of the X-Files every night (two episodes on Saturday and Sunday). Then, if there's time after doing homework for class or my 'reading time' -- usually about an hour in the evenings -- I'll get online and see what's going on. Then it's time for a shower, and more reading in bed. In the morning, I get up and do it all over again.

Lately, the one change has been I've been doing some homework in the mornings. I think that's a remnant of my grad school days where homework used to go on until close to midnight, and then I'd wake up super early in the morning, around 6 am, to keep going. Somehow, I'm still more alert and eager to do homework first thing in the morning. Bills, btw, also get paid first thing in the morning. Also, Tuesdays are starting to turn into television nights at my friend's place, as she's got cable and I've got a thing for Outback Jack.

So there you have it. The life of Seema, aka the cure for insomnia. (Why yes, I have run out of things to blog about).

Sunday, June 27, 2004

My own personal Paleolithic

When I whip out my cell-phone these days, the expressions of horror on people's faces is almost too much to handle. They stare at it, with a mixture of awe and disgust, and they say, "What is that?" The question itself is silly; Alexander Graham Bell set up the first telephone exchange in 1878 and surely, even for late adopters, everyone must know what a telephone is by now, yes? However, my cell phone is a novelty, because it's a model from 1999 and (gasp!), I'm still using it!

Add to that that I don't own a digital camera (or heck, any camera at all), my stereo is over a decade old -- high school graduation present -- and my television is getting close to that age (21st birthday present). I do have a fairly nifty DVD player, but that's because of my brother, but my VCR is also from the last century. I still listen to tapes, I don't own an IPod or a scanner, nor do I have any intentions of getting either. I don't have a nifty plug-in hard drive, or 80 gazillion CDs. I still record on VHS because I don't have TIVO, nor do I have digital cable; only the networks play at Casa Seema. No high-speed internet either here -- I'm proud to say I've been on dial-up since 1991. Go me!

The thing is, the fact that I choose not to upgrade myself is a personal decision. Why spend $200 on a new phone when the one from the previous century still works? Seriously. Call me. You'll see that I'll pick up. The phone works great. I find that the Kodak disposable cameras coupled with SnapFish solves the digital camera problem (a problem I was actually unaware I had until someone informed me that I was so behind) and as for the high-speed internet, well, maybe it's the right choice for you, not for me. I'm happy for you, and you should be happy for me.

I think it's cool some people like to go out and buy new stuff and constantly upgrade. I like that they have that confidence and desire. I don't. I'm very much of the opinion if that it works fine, then there's no need to replace it. Also, if I've gone without for a while, I don't ever see the need. Except for the ironing board -- I went without for quite a while and finally, I had had it; push came to shove, the wrinkles weren't coming out, and I needed an ironing board like no one's business. I love me my IKEA ironing board, because I genuinely needed the board and I use it almost every morning.

I like to keep life simple and uncluttered. I don't want to be out there getting the latest Blackberry or worrying that my phone just isn't cool enough. So I download something 30 minutes slower than someone else -- heck, I was going to be online anyways for that amount of time, so what's the difference? So don't worry about me, sitting here typing away on a 'slow' connection. I'm doing just fine. As long as one has the basics, the Stone Age can be a very nice place to be.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

More write stuff

In response to my post below on writing, Alex Voy responds: " How about the end of 'A Tale of Two Cities' -- "It is a far, far better thing I do" etc ? "It" and "thing" may be vague, but they make a great line that remains with anyone who's read the book. Maybe Dickens could afford to break the rules."

I thought I should clarify what I meant by the limited use and vagaries of "this," "that," "it," and "those." Words like the ones I just mentioned are not necessarily specific in meaning unless the author makes the meaning specific. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use them -- it just means you should take another look to make sure you cannot use something more specific instead. For instance, you can write "I'm going to pick them up tonight" and the reader is left wondering, what is them referring to? You can qualify it either with "groceries" -- ie, "I'm going to pick the groceries up tonight" or have a previous sentence between so specific that the second one doesn't necessarily need to be so.

Example: He moved the chair so I could sit in it.

It's obvious 'it' refers to the chair in the above example. Something less concrete than that would be:

I sat down on it.

Sat down on what? A rock? A bench? A sofa? That's all I really meant by saying "it" et al were vague if not set up properly. And in the above example, it doesn't take much more effort to write "I sat down on the chair" and the reader will understand immediately what a chair is.

It's always better to be more specific rather than not. "Rose" is more descriptive than "red flower," "golden retriever" more specific than "dog", etc. Ayn Rand says there should be no question about what you as the author really mean by the words you use. If you say "rose", you do not mean a "lily," etc. There should be, in other words, no subtext unless you as the author intended for there to be so. That way there's no need for the reader to interpret anything other than what you've intended to put there.

Friday, June 25, 2004

CNN.com - Trojan virus attacks popular Web sites - Jun 25, 2004 -- in other words, why Mozilla is a superior browser to IE.

Once again Ellen Goodman says things way better than I ever could.

In other news, you may now officially call me 'Noah'. I'm contemplating asking MTV's "Pimp My Ride" to turn my trusty Corolla into a boat.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

On writing

I picked up The Art of Fiction by Ayn Rand from the library yesterday. The book is highly recommended by jemima.

What I appreciate most about this slim volume is its logic and clarity of purpose. Most of all, it all makes perfect sense, especially when it comes to using language as objective rather than subjective -- that there should be no hidden meanings or motives in the word choice, thus eliminating all debate of whether indeed there is subtext. I finally understand what my 12th grade teacher was all about when he harrangued us to become specific with our meanings, rather than using vague terminology such as "it" and "that" and "those", for it allows us as readers to draw our own conclusion when the writer herself isn't clear and specific about what she means.

About theme and plot, Rand makes it very clear that characters must have choice, that they cannot react to what happens to them, acceptance of fate, if you will. If things simply happen and for that reason the character moves in response, then that's boring -- that's not what we as readers want to read. Indeed, it makes the job as a writer harder because then it's necessary to come up with several things that just coincidentally happen to the protogonist and where's the interest and promise in that?

Rand writes: "Coincidence is always bad in writing, and it's disastrous in plot writing. Only lesser plot writers, usually bad mystery novelists, characteristically employ coincidence, though some great writers, like Hugo, are guilty of it at times. But it is to be avoid at all costs. A plot represents free will and a man's achievement of, or at least struggle, for his purpose -- and coincidence is irrelevent to anyone's choice or purpose. It can happen in life, but it is meaningless. So do not write the kind of stories in which conflict is suddenly resolved by a natural disaster, such as a flood or an earthquake that conveniently kills the villain at the right moment."

We often refer to these coincidences as plot devices or deux ex machina, but sometimes it's just plain silly. Stranding two unlikely people on a planet or causing injury to one so another has to take care of the first and in both situations, undying love is finally confessed -- these are occurrances of coincidence, contriving a situation that forces an outcome, rather than allowing for a natural one. In other words, the author shows her hand very clearly in such a scenario and the ending is a foregone conclusion. And as such, the suspense is eliminated and the story uninteresting to the reader.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Respect the H

En classe today, we were introduced to the Germanic H and the Latin H. Somehow, I muddled through Very Many Years (tm) of French without being aware of the existence of either a Germanic H or a Latin H. But there is a never a dull moment when it comes to French grammar (I have a very haphazard approach to French grammar to begin with, forgetting most of the rules and just throwing articles and genders at a page/conversation and hoping one of them sticks) and hence, I should not have been surprised by the sudden emergence of a second H.

The second H -- the Germanic H -- is also not pronounced, a la the Latin H; however, unlike the Latin H, there is no liasion with the Germanic H. Hence, a Latin H will blend together with its article -- le, la, les -- wheres a Germanic H has no blending, no liasion. An example of a Latin H is l'homme -- man -- and a Germanic H would be Le Hollande (the country). The first example is literally pronounced lohm, while the second is Le Ollande. Got it?

Apparently the Germanic H is prevalent in English too. Words like hero and heir are Germanic -- we don't pronounce the 'h' for those words. The Latin H in English is in words like 'hair'. I'm so glad I take French lessons -- finally, I'm getting some English grammar lessons!

In other news, il fait pleut beaucoup. In other words, living in a swamp is vastly overrated and I've never seen so much rain before in my life. Unfortunately, it's going to rain all through the weekend. This is no good because a group of us are going to the amusement park on Sunday and it'll be no fun getting rained out. I also had the experience of driving very slowly through 'Lake University' as a good chunk of the road at the university was under water. However, a Honda Civic ahead of me made it through with no problems and I'm proud to report my sturdy and dependable Corolla was also able to ford the water.

The one good thing about the copious rain is that many large flying critters with at least six legs met their end on my windshield this past weekend; this rain thankfully eliminated bug guts from the wipers, winshield and whatever that front grate thing is on a car. Also, that nice layer of pollen that accumulates every now and then, that's gone too. Cross car-wash off my list of things to do, thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I have six invitations for Gmail. Please leave a comment with your email address if you'd like a gmail account.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

A question of faith

The recent UN report on WMDs in Iraq has all sorts of spin attached to it, depending on what parts you read, what parts you didn't. Some reports on what the UN came up with were more accurate than others but don't take it from me -- read the report yourself and judge for yourself.

My personal interest in this story stems from this misleading story published by the World Tribune News -- a story with a headline that's guaranteed to attract attention, but with no actual content to back up the headline. But yet, it made the airwaves, specifically on Rush Limbaugh's show, where he trumpted on air that "There’s a piece in the World Tribune today—one of the papers in the United Kingdom—exactly as theorized on this program early on," he said on his radio show. "It’s unconfirmed, but it’s a story that many of the weapons of mass destruction are at present buried in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon."

I did a little more of my own digging on the World Tribune since in general, for a news organization, it seems rather shoddy and haphazard work. To slap such a wrong headline on a story is nothing short of irresponsible and perpetuates the idea that media is biased. Yes, there is very much a liberal slant to most media, but news flash: conservatives do it too. You can read more about what the World Tribune really is here, but in general, just poke around a little bit and you'll see that even the National Enquirer is a more reliable source of information.

But. Back to Rush. On his website, he had transcripts of the phone calls he took regarding the above article (unfortunately the transcript has disappeared off the front page and I'm not masochistic enough to become a member of Rush's fan club and look for it -- you'll just have to take it on faith that I'm accurately reporting here) and one caller said re the article that the liberals won't believe it until they get an exact address of where the WMDs are.

And I had to stop right there. Did they actually read the article or just the headline? And in response to the caller's snide comments about the unbelieving liberals, my response is, So what? When you declare war on another sovereign nation based on a certain intelligence and perceived threat, when you pre-emptively do so without the support of much of the world community, when you embark on a mission that will eventually cost hundreds of American lives and thousands of Iraqi lives, what is so wrong with demanding proof? Must we always believe our politicians, regardless of party affiliation, and take it on blind faith? Or rather, as members of a democracy, isn't it our right and obligation to demand the facts and explanations?

A friend once told me he believed the president because the president has intelligence we don't have access to. That very well may be the truth, but given the high cost, given the questions raised, what is the president waiting for? For George W. Bush, he could shut up a whole bunch of yappering liberals and handily win re-election if he just showed us the proof. The fact that more people were concerned about the cigar affair Clinton had the bad judgement to enter into and not the blood price being paid on Iraqi soil is nothing short of stunning. If we can say that having an affair with an intern and lying to one's wife and child makes for a lousy president, what do we say about a president who tells a story that costs more than just hurt feelings? Who do we hold accountable and why is it wrong to not do so?

There will always be the 'left' truth and the 'right' truth and what we really need is somewhere is in the middle. Each type requires a certain amount of blind faith and allegience to the standard bearer. Sometimes though, it's good to break away and ask. And more importantly, read beyond the headlines and do some of your own research. You'll be surprised what turns up when it's no longer just a matter of faith.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Harvard Professor: Liberal Media is No Myth -- this is the text of the Business Week article cited in the earlier entry (below) today.
The way of the media

I'm always interested in how media covers a particular story and what inherent bias there is in the story itself. Business Week had an interesting article about whether there is a leftist/liberal slant in the media and came away with the conclusion that yes, there is; in fact, my favorite news source, Newsweek, is possibly the most liberal out there. What was surprising about that article was that FOX News, considered the Bush cheerleading squad, isn't quite as conservative as people think it is. ABC News and The News Hour with Jim Lehrer were considered the most balanced news outlets out there, according to the article.

So what's this all leading up to? We all read what we want to read and we get the information our sources give us. We go for the comfort zone of not necessarily having our ideas challenged or the way we think questioned; consider it a media-sanctioned 'amen corner'. We can give ourselves a little pat on the back every time the media outlet of our choice validates our own opinions. There's no reason to question or dig deeper because hey, we got what we wanted to get, and voila, end of story. Another opinion and ingrained. The only way to get out of that is to spend the time to read numerous sources of news -- Google News makes it a lot easier because it collects news from around the world and you can read varying world opinion and why, oh why, is it such a bad thing to read opposing views every now and then? I do read conservative blogs/media just because I'm curious to know what's going on on 'the other side'.

Here's a good example of the difference between two outlets with very different slants and agendas. CNN's lead story's headline reads: 9/11 staff: No al Qaeda cooperation with Iraq. The World Tribune's lead story's headline reads: U.S. wants armed security guards for Olympics team. Which is true? Which story is more accurate? Who knows? I like CNN because it agrees with me and so I feel validated -- no link and hence, I stop right there. ETA: Even FOX News is carrying this story prominently on its front page.

It's interesting that we need the 9/11 commission to issue a report on this after Cheney and Bush both said not too long ago that there was no link between Iraq and Saddam. Yet 75 percent of Americans persist in believing that was a link. You can't have it both ways -- one or the other side of the media is lying and we'll always believe it's the other side -- the conservatives accuse the liberals of covering up the ties, the liberals accuse the conservaties of creating ties. Me myself, I prefer the World News which reported a couple months ago that Saddam and Osama are actually lovers -- now there's a story I can get behind!

Just something to think about.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Things that annoy me

Because it's been that kind of day. In no particular order.

1. Drivers who treat parking lots and parking garages as their personal Indy 500.

2. People who double-dip. You break off a piece of bread/chip, dip, eat, and then you take a clean bread/chip, dip, eat. See how easy this is?

3. Hitting every single red light on a 5-mile stretch of road, especially when there is no traffic.

4. Thongs hanging out over the waist band of jeans. Please. Only one person managed to successfully carry off the underwear on the outside of her clothes thing. You are not her.

5. Very private Top Sekrit cell phone conversations carried out in public. TJ Maxx? Not the place to break up with your boyfriend. Seriously. Don't do it. Yes, he might be an idiot, but we think you're one too.

6. Chairs reclining all the way on an airplane so that suddenly my drink is in my lamp and a perfect stranger's head is in kissable distance. Why, hello there.

7. The common cold. Seriously. Not quite the plague but just as evil and debilitating.

8. Running out of toothpaste when you have no spare toothpaste.

9. Companies with no idea of customer service when you are paying them monthly for a service that they cannot successfully carry out on a month-to-month timeline.

10. 100 percent humidity.

As my crankiness persists, I reserve the right to further update this list with More Things that Annoy Me (tm). You are welcome to share your personal grievances/annoyances with me as well. I'm just in that kind of whiney, ranting mood. Why yes, you should back away from the crazy girl; try not to make any quick movements.
Link number two: Broadcasting the personal. Amen.
Being Bilingual Could Protect Your Brain.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

What's for dinner?

A better question would be, what's not for dinner? With 4+ hours suddenly erased from my week due to my class starting up this week, I dragged myself to the grocery store in preparation. Mind you, I'm still infected with the plague and muscles I didn't know I had are screaming in agony. But a girl has to eat, so off to the grocery store I went and when I came back, I made the following items:

  • Marinated mushrooms
  • Oriental green beans
  • Gazpacho soup
  • Feta cheese and potato patties
  • Red onion and goat cheese pastries
  • Tomato & Mozarella pasta

I had also planned to make an apple pie and red onion and pepper fusilli but I ran out of steam at that point. I won't be back home until close to 10 pm tomorrow night, and given that I'm still infected with the plague, I probably won't get around to the fusilli and the pie until Tuesday night. It really depends on how the other things I made hold up -- if I can get to Thursday without running out of food, I'll be very, very happy.

If any of you would like the recipes for any of the above, please let me know and I'll post them -- am too tired to blog them now -- but the soup and the mushrooms are both served cold and are perfect for hot weather. For the pasta, the tomato and mozarella 'sauce' can be made ahead of time and can be marinated -- just mix it in with the pasta hot off the stove whenever you like. The red onion and goat cheese pastries are super easy and super light and super tasty -- phyllo dough is the bestest substance on the planet, I've decided.

Gazpacho is an acquired taste, and I like mine pretty well pureed, but my blender refused to work today, so instead it was rather chunky -- still, it's perfect for a hot summer. I had the most trouble with the potato patties because I steamed the green beans over the same pot I was boiling the potatoes in -- except I didn't let the potatoes boil long enough, so I ended up having to microwave the potatoes to soften them up and then mashed them with my fingers; the leftover goat cheese went into the potatoes as well as the feta, but it all seems to have worked out just fine.

And now, for the second time this week, it's bed before 10 pm. Though, still later than last week, when I hit the sack around 8:15. Now that's early. And on that note, good night, moon.

As a corollery to Wedding Bells, I give you Rush's third divorce. File this one under 'ironic'. I guess if you have the right to get married as many times as you want to, as long as it's the person of the opposite gender, there's no harm done in getting tired of one spouse and trying on another. One of these days, Rush and J. Lo should hook up and exchange war stories on how they turned marriage into a hobby, rather than a lifelong thing.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Wedding bells

I'm always pleasantly surprised by people's consideration for other's people's time, so I'm extremely grateful to the Chortler for coming up with a J. Lo Wedding Tracker. You no longer have to depend on moi for J. Lo updates -- go there and the Chortler will tell you exactly who she's married to at any given moment in time. For instance, the time now is 10:17A.M. and Jennifer Lopez is currently married to LARRY KING. So now you know.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Spin doctors

I was pointed in the direction of this article this evening with the headline trumpeting "UN inspectors: Saddam shipped out WMD before war and after." I was able to immediately discount the article based on my status as a card-carrying bleeding heart liberal but it was a misspelling (Destionations) that really did me in -- politics aside, I cannot take a journalistic organization seriously if they cannot even spell the word 'destinations' -- because obviously, if it hadn't rated on google news, how could it possibly be true?

After much searching, I did find some more articles on the issue here. What fascinated me was the spin. In the World Tribune article, it says Saddam was shipping out the WMD components before the war began last summer and continued to do during the war. However, the World Tribune article also says Perricos also reported that inspectors found Iraqi WMD and missile components shipped abroad that still contained UN inspection tags.. In other words, the stuff we already knew about. As my boss would say, that's not news if we already knew about it. Reading other articles on the subject which show up on google news seem to make it clear that this exporting of WMD components has been actively taking place over the last year -- under US watch -- from unguarded and unsecured locations in Iraq.

A story from Pakistan says Perricos briefed the Security Council on his recent report that showed satellite pictures of the engines discovered in the Netherlands and a site in Iraq stripped of its equipment, possibly by looters. To me, it sounds as if the World Tribune is trying to make a tenuous tie between Saddam and looters, ignoring the fact Saddam was probably way too busy crawling from spider hole to spider hole to export metal out of Iraq. The Indianapolis Star reports Equipment and material that could have been used to produce banned weapons and long-range missiles have been removed from Iraqi sites since the war started and shipped abroad, the head of the U.N. inspectors office told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Since the war started. Key words to note. Who knows what Saddam was doing with his WMD program before while under the watch of the UN, but since the US has kicked the UN inspectors out in March of 2003, who's keeping an eye on the WMD potpurri? Aren't we ostensibly over there to make the world a safer place to be and meanwhile, WMD components marked with UN tags are being hustled across the border and sent to the Netherlands (among other places) under the eyes of the liberators themselves?

I'll concede Iraq and Saddam had the components to make WMDS at some point in time, but is that enough to pre-emptively declare war on another sovereign nation? Especially if the World Tribune is right and they were being dismantled and shipped around the world in the early part of 2003 -- if the WMDs were dismantled, then Saddam did what he was supposed to do and we had no right to go in there and kick him out of power, no matter how big a beastie he was. You can't go into another country pre-emptively saying, "Oh, he's got WMDs" and come out saying, "We're liberators and we've saved people from Saddam." Great. Now if it's saving the world from the classroom bully we're so keen on these days, I humbly submit that perhaps the Sudanese would appreciate some liberation as well.

We'd be hard-pressed to find a direct threat to our security from Saddam's regime, considering that Saddam probably had higher priority targets on his hit list than the Americans. In truth, the only people who really needed to fear Saddam's WMDs were the ones who lived under his tyrannical rule -- the Kurds -- and also his neighbors, the Iranians and the Kuwaitis. We ought to be more afraid of the Saudi Arabians, where most of the 9/11 hijackers came from. We ought to be more afraid of North Korea, which is ruled by a crazy dictator who admittedly has nuclear weapons and WMDs, but we can't win a conflict with North Korea, nor does North Korea have oil. If you're going to pick a fight with a bully, it makes sense to pick one you can beat up easily and figure out the reasons for throwing the first punch after the fact and hope no one notices.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

New neighbors

In this age of rather sterile "who the heck lives next door to me?", I've taken to identifying inhabitants in my complex with the vehicles and/or pets they own. For instance, I was quite familiar with the big beautiful dog who lived across the way until recently, but never saw his (her?) owner ever. And now, a Hummer has moved into our complex.

The Hummer is all black, and is huge; I imagine someone of my size would need a ladder to get into it -- the size you find on a fire-truck will probably do the trick. It literally takes up two spots on the first floor of the garage; while the owner is inconsiderate enough to drive a tank in the face of rising gas prices, I do have to give him (her?) props for a) parking on the ground floor so the weight of the Black Beast doesn't crush all the cars on lower levels and b) for parking next to the often stinky dumpster since no one else wants to park there.

Still, I can't help but wonder what possibly must be going on in the owner's mind that he (she?) feels the need to drive around the city in a hummer? Granted, this isn't Mr. Rogers' neighborhood by any stretch of the imagination, but I didn't think it was so bad that even going to Target these days required such armament! Every time I drive past that vehicle (we-HICK-cahl in the military) on my way to work, I wonder what exactly does the owner do in his (her?) spare time that necessitates a hummer? Since it's hopefully not to make trips to Target, I'm forced to concoct romantical adventures of the swashbucking and bodice-ripping variety -- though with more leather and steel than your standard romance novel allows for.

One option is that Hummer!Owner is searching out various potholes, traffic jams, and closed intersections. In cases like this, it makes total sense that this person needs a Hummer -- intersections are quite frequently closed here for traffic, usually at major highway interchanges -- and driving over the cars in your way would be a good way to get out of such a pickle; in fact, it's probably something the emergency service workers ought to try. I know I'd feel a lot safer if I was being driven to the hospital in a tank rather than a tin can. Probably get there faster too.

The other option is that Hummer!Owner is interested in covert operations, though how you can be stealthy sneaky in a hummer is beyond my comprehension. I suspect if indeed Hummer!Owner is in covert operations, he (she) works at night. I deduce this because the hummer is black, not camuflauge, in color, and beyond that, we don't have much in the way of trees in this part of the world -- well, except where the rich people live, but that's another story entirely. So if you're going to be sneaky, I'm not sure the Hummer is the way to go, but it's one explanation -- the armor is certainly there.

Plus, the Hummer is always there when I leave for work around 8:50 am, so this also leads me to believe that either a) Hummer!Owner sleeps in because he (she) has been saving our city from either Those Who Walk In the Dark or Potholes/Traffic James, or b) Hummer!Owner is completely depressed by rising gasoline prices and realizes that he (she) has to take out a small loan every time he (she?) wants to drive the tank around.

Your thoughts on why people would drive a Hummer are greatly appreciated. And if you tell me to go to Target or Wal-Mart, I'm going to hurt you. Anyone who has the money to spend on a gas guzzling Hummer really ought to be shopping at say, Tiffany's or Saks Fifth Avenue. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Write about it

I just wrote an email to Colgate Oral Care about their new toothpaste completely decimating my mouth, wah! This is not the first time this has happened and A. very kindly suggested I should start writing down the names of toothpastes I have allergic reactions to so I do not buy the the toothpaste again. Currently, my symptoms include botox-style lips, tiny tiny ulcers all over my mouth, and skin burned off my newly enlarged lips. I have switched back to regular Colgate; if the past is any indication, it'll take about a week for this situation to heal. In the meantime, I've discovering that eating and drinking is my new form of masochism -- nothing like a burning tingle every time you eat a piece of bread or drink wine!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Home sweet home

So I'm back! I'll give further details about the Boston Meander of 2004 at another time, but suffice it to say, I wandered my way through the cow paths -- in 10-inch platform shoes, no less -- and still managed to avoide getting smushed by the T. I also had the honor of meeting the Mac, which undoubtedly would be the highlight of any trip to Beantown.

However, it's getting home that's interesting because that's when you find out what's been going on while you were incommunicado. I was feeling sorry for J. Lo because of her break-up with Ben Affleck, but I shouldn't have worried -- J. Lo has gotten married again and this time to singer Marc Anthony. And oooh, there are reports of Baby Lopez too. Wedding pictures, for the curious, are here. Don't worry about not being able to see J. Lo's face clearly or at all in these photographs and don't despair that her wedding cake-style dress is not described in enough detail to get one of your own; wait six months, and no doubt, Jenny from the Block will be giving nupital bliss a fourth go around. Lucky for Jennifer Lopez, three strikes and you're out doesn't seem to apply to marriage.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Leaving on a jet plane

Jemima wants to know, "Is planning with Seema always this complex?" The answer is yes, but tentatively I have plans. It's all still complicated and messy in my head because nothing can be simple, not in Seema!world. That being said, I'm really looking to get away this weekend and just forget about stuff. My stuff and me will be wandering around Boston for the next few days. Your regularly scheduled blog programming will resume on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Good things come...

So right, the apartment odyssey is officially over and not a minute too soon. I was really, really looking forward to some good news, and just having something good happen, y'know? And I came home today, fully prepared to cough up the increased rent amount and voila, note on my door and voice mail on my machine -- they are renewing me at the same rate I've been paying for the last nine months! Whoohooo! I so didn't expect that considering just how far below market value I am, but they came through.

So glad I waited, so glad I didn't jump the gun and sign another lease on Saturday at one of the less superior apartments. And also, so glad I didn't get a free moment yesterday to call up and say I'd rent at the higher rate for 6 months. By waiting, this all paid off handsomely. Very, very nice and I'm thrilled to pieces -- I love my apartment and I love my area; I had no idea how much until I was forced to look around and just see how lucky I was. More importantly, I don't have to move in the month of July. This, my friends, is big.

And now, I must sleep, because I'm no longer as young as I once was and staying up all night (seriously) and then finally deciding to try and sleep at 6 am only to wake up at 7:30 to go to work -- well, it's not quite the lifestyle I can handle these days. It's all Rocky's fault (tm).

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Lost in translation

Tonight was my placement test. I was actually pretty calm going into it, even when they handed me the 60-question examen and then said there would be an oral en francais component. I figured that the oral would be a piece of cake, that I'd stumbled on the written part. For, you see, writing in French has never been my strong suit. I managed to avoid grammar for my last two years in high school by going into the literature track. Which means I can read 16th century French lit and speak well, but cannot write to save my life.

Well, it was the exact opposite. I did fine on the reading and better than I expected on the written part. The meltdown came during the oral part of the examination. I lost it about thirty seconds after Madame said bonjour and it was all downhill from there. It was frankly quite embarassing. Especially the part where I couldn't remember the word for brother. ::facepalm:: The word for sister? Right there at the very tip of my tongue, but not brother -- frère, yes, yes, I've got it now, but what good does it do me now? If I'd had half a brain, I would have invented a soeur on the spot.

Trust me. It gets worse. Much worse.

I couldn't remember the word for 'little'. Couldn't remember 'petit' to save my life -- I was fixated on the same word in another language. Every time I tried to come up with a word, this other language which I most recently heard yesterday came to the forefront and gained ascendency over poor French. Madame was staring at me in a mixture of horror and pity. I thought about talking about the war of languages in my head, that one language was fighting for supremacy over the other and was winning, but then she'd think I was psycho and I'd end up kicked out of the program and across the street at the World Famous Medical Center (tm), with a padded room to call my own and a wardrobe entirely consisting of white garments with lots of buckles being the uniform du jour. See? I can so come up with the right words not under pressure. ::nods::

I honestly think it should be okay, in foreign language classes, to substitute words from other languages at a moment's notice when the right language doesn't come to mind. I'm just sayin'. The results come out on Friday, I think, and I'm a little pensive about what it all will mean.

It was... so not good.