Saturday, July 31, 2004

Things that go zoom

I meant to blog about my day at Very Big Amusement Park (tm) last weekend when it happened, but then politics ate my brain and the blog and you all never got to hear about my day at the park. So, yes, last Sunday, I treated my cousin -- 18-year old male -- to a day of fun under the sun. And when I say 'sun', I don't mean that golden orb that smiles down on you benevolently à la The Teletubbies, but more of an insidious "let's burn you and your 80 million gallons of 45 SPF sun block to a crisp."

People who say you can't melt in the sun are wrong, wrong, wrong. They have obviously never been south of the North Pole. I'm just sayin'. You know it's all going terribly wrong when you look down and see rivers of blue-white lotion just running down your legs. It's like the sunblock is jumping ship. It's saying, "Baby, it's so hot out, you're on your own and we're getting a beer." So there I was, with blue-white streaks all over my legs and arms, shiny sheen of perspiration on my face, and my 18-year old cousin was pointing at Yet Another Ride That Goes in Circles Endlessly (tm).

I'd like to also say at this point that when an 18-year old kid who has a genuinely good heart and is very good in general says, "Oh it's not so bad," you have no earthly reason to doubt him. Because he's a good kid. However. Once you're in a Very Big Amusement Park, the "good kid equals insta-trust" corollory no longer exists. In fact, the same genuinely good-hearted kid suddenly turns into one of those people, who, when asked, will always tell you that you look terrific in that pair of black pants, which could also double as a parachute in case you should ever have need of a parachute. But I digress.

Genuinely Good Kid (tm) kept pointing out various rides and saying, "It's not so bad." And then we stood in the hot sun for forty-five minutes and as we got closer to the front of the line, I could hear the screaming and I realized it wasn't screaming from fun, no. This was that other kind of screaming, the Oh my God, my 18-year old cousin just lied to me and I'm so going to be wearing the contents of my stomach on the outside of my t-shirt kind of screaming.

I tried to distract myself from the Spinning Rolling Plunging Fast Moving Ride (tm) by concentrating on my feet, which had now roasted themselves into what one line-waiter helpfully termed 'well done.' He also added that he liked his meat well-done and by the way he was licking his lips, I got the impression that after 45 minutes in line, the sun had addled his brain, and he now had perverse designs on my feet. Given that I wanted to get away from the Feet Eater (tm), my brain and I parted company when I made a flying leap into the car for the Spinning Rolling Plunging Fast Moving Ride (tm).

Things got bad when the ride operator came by and shoved the harness - a nice plastic metal thingy - right into my gut. She wasn't smiling. In fact, she was wearing an apron and a face mask. I looked back at the line but Feet Eater was still grinning madly at me. I clutched the harness tightly. I looked at my cousin. "You better be right about this," I told him. Genuinely Good Kid (tm) smiled cherubically and said, "It's not that bad." Ha.

Then the ride started. Backwards. And suddenly we were being shot up a lift. I glared at my cousin. He was smiling. I said, "You didn't tell me about this shooting up to a top of a Very High Mountain (tm) thing." And he said, "It's not so bad." And then before I could answer, we plunged down. When I say down, I don't mean a gentle slope like Kilamanjaro or Everest. No, no, this was a straight down vertical drop. The track raced up at me, my stomach was in my throat. And suddenly, we were at the bottom and I let out a sigh of relief until we started spinning. Upside down, sideways, and still hurtling at the Speed God Never Intend Human Beings To Travel At (tm). And then, not only we were we still upside down, the stupid cannon thing had come back and we were being shot back up the not-Everest/Kilamanjaro slope, except this time, we were doing it backwards. You think going forwards is bad, going backwards? Gah. It's 80 gazillion times worse.

I got off the ride with wobbly legs and my stomach mostly intact. I retrieved my brain from non-smiling Ride Operator (tm). Feet Eater was grinning at me and said, "How was it?" And I just smiled at him and said, "It's not so bad."

We were at the park from 10 until 3, when we got rained out, while waiting for Another Ride That Goes Violently Fast. By then, I was already this close to losing my stomach as it was dreadfully hot, and we'd been on those silly swings which went round and round and round and round and round and round. And just when I thought the Smiley Water Fritzing Ride Operator was going to let us off, she said, in her cheerful voice, "Let's go again!" And I wanted to scream, at the top of my lungs, "Get me off!" But she couldn't hear me because we were going round and round and higher up off the ground than God Ever Intended. I couldn't help but regret that I'd left my parachute pants at home.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Looking out for you

In all of the political haze, you might have thought I'd forgotten about you, dear blog readers. But know that your safety, your comfort, your well-being, is incredibly important to me. As such, I bring you important information on preparing for emergencies. Be well, my friends.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I promise, I promise, the political stuff will stop soon, but I got a kick out of this exchange between Michael Moore and Bill O'Reilly when shown this morning on one of the news programs. I think it's very revealing. - The O'Reilly Factor - Moore: Bush 'Didn't Tell the Truth'

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

New Kid on the Block

The 'D' party in Boston continues, with speeches from the Last Great Liberal and the man who energized the democratic base. But it was the new guy from Illinois, the guy whom I'd never heard of until tonight practically, who captured my head and heart. Barack Obama, who spoke for the first time to a national audience, who managed to weave together a heartfelt and brilliant speech.

Here's where Obama got me: In the end, that's what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism here-the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don't talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

Lucky Illinois, lucky America, to have such a man on its side.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Rallying the troops

The party faithful are throwing their version of a 'D' party in my beloved Beantown and they brought out the big guns on the first night -- Al Gore, President Carter, Senator Clinton and President Clinton. I missed Vice-President Gore and President Carter because I was at class, but I caught the tail-end of Hilary Clinton's speech, and then came Bill himself -- nothing short of masterful. As the line goes, he had me at "Good evening."

The key line of Clinton's speech that got me was when he said "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." I had said I wasn't going to watch the Democrats go through the motion, but for 20 minutes, I was standing in the middle of my living room -- not sitting, mind you, but standing -- and nodding so hard at the television that you could have mistaken me for a bobble head doll. Tonight, I was a member of the choir, I was seated right in the center of the 'amen' corner and I'm not ashamed.

The truth is though, none of this theatrics and party is for me. I already believe and fall in line behind the party's propaganda. I always have. Line, hook and sinker, they've got me. This is for those who don't know which way to vote, who they prefer. As Bill Clinton put it, there are two strong men who both love their country, contending for the highest honor the United States can possibly bestow on an individual and we have to decide whose love and respect is greater and stronger. Most of us would prefer that our patriotism not be a contest, but that's exactly what it is today and you have to ask yourself if a Vietnam vet who understands what it means to go to war versus someone who did his level best to stay out of war takes home the presidency come November.

And in November, the quesiton we have to answer is: do we want to keep the status quo -- which means further unilateral action, increased deficits, erosion of the right to make personal decisions without government interference, escalating health costs, decreased environmental protection and continued concentration of wealth in the hands of the few -- or do we say, "We've tried your way and look where it's gotten us. This isn't the Wild West, this isn't the time or place for the cowboy mentality." If you're like me, you'll say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." It's time for W to saddle up and return home to Crawford.

We've given the Republicans four years to do something we could be proud of. We didn't tell them to piss off the world. We asked them to protect us, but we didn't give them permission to unilaterally invade another country without provocation, risking the lives of our soldiers and costing countless lives of Iraqis. Until this war, not a single American had died at the hands of an Iraqi; as such, what did nearly a thousand of our troops die for? What did over ten thousand Iraqis die for? If this fact -- separate from the deficit/health care issues/job training/tax cut etc., issues -- alone does not make voters angry, I don't know what will. And if this administration continues to be unapologetic of the why and will not give us the straight answers that we deserve, then they should not be in the White House. It's that simple.
Teresa Heinz Kerry's shove it 'controversy' has me baffled, because it's hardly as rude or inappropriate as the vice-president of the United States asking a senator to go commit an anatomically impossible act. If someone can explain to me the difference, I'd be very grateful. (Unless, of course, the reason is that it's just a slow news day, a phenomena with which I'm very, very, very familiar).

Saturday, July 24, 2004

In the kitchen with Seema

I made a Mexican dinner the other night, and here's the very easy, very yummy black bean quesadilla recipe. The Spanish rice will appear in tomorrow's edition of this blog.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 (10 ounce) package frozen corn
12 (12 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tsp vegetable oil

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat,and saute the onion and garlic until soft. Mix in beans, bell pepper, tomatoes, and corn; cook until heated through.

2. Spread 6 tortillas with equal amounts of the bean and vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with equal amounts of the Cheddar cheese, and top with the remaining tortillas to form quesadillas.

3. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place quesadillas in the skillet and cook, turning once, until cheese is melted and both sides are lightly browned.

Hint: If you're like me and are no good at flipping tortillas with stuff on them, it's easier to fold one tortilla in half and put the filling in between. It's a whole lot less messy than putting two tortillas on top of each other.


Friday, July 23, 2004

This is the end, the absolute end, I promise, of the hype on the "terrorists making a dry run" story, but I give you the Salon's The Hysterical Skies. Note: You'll have to watch a brief video to read the article and amazingly, it's one for the new book, "House of Saud, House of Bush."

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Soapbox Stance

At work today, I had an interesting non-exchange with a co-worker. He handed me an article to read (never mind that this week I'm working two jobs and therefore have twice as many deadlines to meet during the day) and when I didn't jump to read it immediately, he told me the gist of it, along with his editorial remarks on the subject. The gist of it was that he believed in racial profiling. I don't. So I didn't say anything at all and went back to work. Two seconds later, he sent me an instant message with the gist of what he had to say on the article again. Perhaps he thought I didn't understand the verbalization of his opinion and that I needed in writing. I ignored the IM.

Now, my thinking was, we didn't agree at all on the subject and I didn't have the time or passion to argue with him. Especially at 9 in the morning when I was still recovering from having company the night before. Later on, I felt somewhat guilty for remaining absolutely quiet. Some people would argue that I have a right to my opinion, just as he does, and I have every right to speak it. I think that's true to an extent. But I didn't see the point of debating the subject at all since we were clearly at polar opposites and we'd only end up agreeing to disagree.

My one regret is that I didn't say politely to him, "I don't agree with you and let's leave it at that." My gut feeling though is that he'd try to engage me in conversation further on the matter and clearly, once again, it'd be like beating my head on a brick-wall, which, given that I'm working two jobs right now, I don't have time to be doing. So my main dilemma is whether I was rude by my complete silence on the subject. I think he even saw me toss the article in the trash, even though I didn't mean to be overt about it.

Eh, an evil part of me wanted me to remind this guy who is so proud of his family's support for McGovern way back when that racial profiling is more of a conservative viewpoint than liberal. Now that would have made him mad for sure!

Links of the day: Bush and Blair keep howling about Saddam as well as an editorial from The Nation: An Error of Supreme Dimensions

A wee bit more on the topic, because you can never beat a dead horse too much: Clinton W. Taylor on Nour Mehana & "Terror in the Skies" on National Review Online
I thought it was only fair to link to the article that pissed me off so thoroughly yesterday: Terror in the Skies, Again? Looks like flying 'Arab' and 'with friends' and 'using the bathroom' is officially a no-no.

Also, here's a nice little quote as I want to spare you the pain of reading this hysterical, high-strung woman's article: shouldn't a group of 14 Middle Eastern men be screened before boarding a flight? And while we're at, why don't we screen every group of more than 4 people, hmmm? And then there's this kicker: The 14 Syrians had been hired as musicians to play at a casino in the desert. Adams said they were "scrubbed." None had arrest records (in America, I presume), none showed up on the FBI's "no fly" list or the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists List.

(in America, I presume). If that doesn't give you pause, I don't know what should. The presumption, the assumption, that people of Middle Eastern descent or who look like Arabs are automatically terrorists is amazing and just scary, scary scary. You get the feeling that Ms. Jacobson, if she had her way, would just about outlaw flying as anything or anyone other than blue-eyed, blond-haired Protestant/Catholic. Because, y'know, no non-Muslim or non-Arab could possibly be dangerous.

And my favorite part? The author uses Ann "we must convert the Middle East to Christianity" Coulter! Ann Coulter, another hate-ridden, bile-spewing, off-her-rocker and irratonal columnist as a source of information. Gah. That's all we need -- give the crazy woman some validation and an 'amen' corner for her intolerance.

While I'll never deny the need for intensive screenings and increased security checks, I question the wisdom of automatically deciding one must be a terrorist based on appearance. Who's to decide what a 'terrorist' looks like? Yeah, the odds favor one ethnicity more than another, but this is a Melting Pot country -- we have a lot of people of lot of different backgrounds. I think it's ridiculous to assume that people are terrorists because they might have Arab descent. Especially when they pass muster on various other security checks that airlines and the government has in place.

If you're interested, the story continues here. Where, despite having passed security, having been checked out, she still assumes they are terrorists.

I have to say, if this is an example of an 'aware' American, I want no part of it. I'd like to suggest an alternative descriptive phrase: 'bigoted' American.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The future is so bright

Those of you who are chained to your laundry may be interested in self-cleaning clothes. Especially of those of you with teens or who tend to leave your laundry in the dryer overnight with dire results (g).

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Special edition double blog

Oh my: Jackson to be father of quadruplets
Places to go

You wouldn't think infertility or miscarriage would be funny, but 'getupgrrl' -- an infertile woman -- has done her best to make it a laughing matter at Chez Miscarriage. A couple of posts of note are here and here. Also, if you read through old entries, you'll also find information on some new legislation being proposed by the Bush administration that is frankly scary. Check it out.

Monday, July 19, 2004

re: yesterday's entry, no, I don't know if the thong comes with the dress. And really, would anyone want it that much?

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Your fashion cents for charity

The Official Gillian Anderson Website is offering up one of Gillian's gowns for auction to benefit neurofibromatosis. When I see dresses like this, I can't help but wonder, with all the money and fashion designers these actors have access too, how do they come up with a monstrosity like this?

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Up the hill both ways in the snow

Blogger now has a WSYWIG editor, which is so very cool for days when I'm feeling lazy, but I can't help but feel nostalgic for the notepad days, the days before editors when damn it, we wrote our HTML by hand. Every now and then I feel the urge to code by hand once again. As much as I love Macromedia's Dreamweaver, sometimes it's too easy.

I often liken WSYWIG editors to calculators -- I don't think anyone denies that you have to learn how to add/subtract/multiply/divide before bringing out the heavy artillerary. I feel the same way about HTML. WSYWIG is fine and all for a quick down and dirty job but when it comes to the heavy lifting, I go back to ye olde NotePad.

Friday, July 16, 2004


Have you ever wondered what Bush would look like if he was a girl? Warning: Scary, scary, scary. Do not view while drinking or eating. Not responsible for choking, damaged keyboards, or nightmares.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Go Patriots!

This Land Is Your Land as sung by John Kerry and George W. Bush. You'll like. I promise.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

As American as apple pie

I don't really have much to say -- it's not easy to come up with new material to blog about every day. Especially interesting material. I'd be happy to reprint my non-existent grocery list here for you, but I'm pretty sure that'd only be worthwhile to those of you suffering from insomnia. And as for the grocery situation, it's not improved much because I can't be bothered to go to the store during the week. However, I'm happy to report I have enough pasta in my pantry to feed the country of Uruguay.

Speaking of Uruguay, are you watching The Amazing Race? Tuesday nights, 10 pm EST, on CBS. Seriously, Best. Reality. Show. I was seriously considering applying for it, except for the little detail of not being terribly adventurous with food (don't even remind me of red-bean ice-cream!) and having this thing about high places. But you should watch. Really.

Speaking of high places, the Blimp Kind are back. This time, the Blimp Kind are cruising in style in a patriotic-themed vehicle (prounounced ve-HICK-cal in the military), courtesy of Ameriquest. If you're not consolidating your mortgage or buying a house, you're unAmerican! And oh yes, while you're on their site, don't forget to enter the contest to win a trip to the 2004 World Series because there is nothing more patriotic than a baseball game, preferably watched while consuming apple pie. You can also take the trip with some baseball great I've never heard of, but there's nothing here on whether you'll have to spend time with the Blimp Kind. So go. Enter. And don't say I never offer you opportunities to show your patriotism.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The State of Seema

I am back and I warn you, back away slowly and no one will get hurt: I am sleep-deprived, painfully and critically so. I'm also hungry. The reason I'm hungry is that my refrigerator is empty. This should be no surprise to some of you. I haven't been to the grocery store in nearly a month. However, it wasn't supposed to be a problem until I left my dinner on the counter top in the Big City to the West -- 3 hours away. Instead, I came away with a big bag of Cokes, lemonade and Ozarka water. This is a good thing; I hear people can live longer without food than they can without beverages and it's a fair bet to say that I'll be very well hydrated from here on out.

I had a writing revelation last night. Ed McMahon showed up at my door and said, "You're finally in!" I think he was talking about a book, but I'm not entirely sure. I was too busy boggling over Ed McMahon in my dream and the fact that he had the gumption to show up without a million-dollar cheque. So, despite the fact Mr. McMahon didn't come through with a million dollars, I invited him and said, "I'm 'in'? Where am I 'in' and how did that happen?" He didn't quite answer the 'where', but he did answer the 'how'. Ayn Rand, he said. "You must go back to Ayn Rand." So now, not only does Ed McMahon not show up with a million-dollar cheque at my door, he also has become suddenly and scarily telepathic -- he knows I've given up on Ayn Rand, that I've stumbled one too many times over her self-promotion and countless examples out of her books. I don't know how he knows I've written Ayn Rand off, but Ed McMahon knows.

I woke up then, after the dream, and realized that this wasn't even a very complicated sign. The sign was pointing west and saying, "Go, young woman, and outline. Go with plot-theme, come up with a climax. In short, young woman, know what you're writing and you'll get 'in'."

And en classe today, one of my classmates was horror-stricken to discover multiple tenses in a sentence and another classmate lamented, after going over rules for cities/states/countries/islands, "Do French people get these right?" My main contribution to class today was calling 'snail mail' les lettres des escargots. Somehow, it doesn't have the same ring to it.

I have over 300 pieces of spam. And no, not the edible kind.

Also, those of you who receive this blog by email, I've fixed the connection problems so the email will start up again. Sorry abot the lapse in service.

And now, dear people, it's time for bed, but in the morning, I shall forage for sustenance in order to maintain the strength to outline my way through stories according to the rules of Ayn Rand.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Geek Whimsy

I was thinking the other day that it'd be really cool to come up with a sort of recs system for sites like mine that have a certain number of fics covering a certain number of fandoms. I envision a database that allows you to pick characters, fandom, plot versus no plot, romance/gen/het/slash/angst/humor, and rating. Once you put all the variables in, it comes back with a story or two that fits your particular need at that time.

So maybe 'recs' isn't the right word -- perhaps, it's a customized offering depending on what the reader wants to read. That way, people wouldn't have to shift through, say my Paris/Torres angst, if all they really wanted was Paris/Seven love. Scrolling could be kept to a minimum and perhaps the reader could customize the site to feature only the stories she likes to read. Honestly, frightening as it is, perhaps someone could customize my site for All Janeway/Chakotay (tm) all the time. Hmmm?

And places to go: The Debunking of Fareneheit 9/11.

And on that note, good night moon.

Monday, July 05, 2004

You can take it with you

Confession time: I'm a pack rat of epic proportions. When people line up to write my biography, there will no confusion, no mystery, no unexplained phenomena/motivations in my life. This is because I save every single piece of paper I've ever received. Seriously. There is paper everywhere -- in my car, in my apartment, in my office, everywhere. Yellow sticky notes, notebooks, scraps of papers, backs of envelopes, bills from 1998, you name it -- I've got it. If you ever sent me a letter or postcard, it's in a shoe box at the top of my closet -- I now have about 8 shoeboxes with letters going back to 1988, if not before. Other people collect stamps or postcards, I collect paper and seriously, am so not picky about the type/style/quality. I basically subscribe to the philosophy of "more = better."

The reason this all comes up is this weekend, I cleaned up (and note: the word 'clean' is being used very loosely) my stuff at the house, because my bedroom will probably go to my cousin and his daughter, aka Purple Bunny Niece. In a corner of the bedroom, I've had about 4 or 5 boxes of stuff just sitting there from my move last summer. Going through the boxes, I found my phone book from Grad School Town, my lease signed 3 months before my first semester, a receipt for gas from 1998, four very beautiful cheat sheets for statistics, and a phone number on a piece of paper -- but no name to go with the phone number (btw, if you've been waiting for me to call you for at least two years now, and I haven't, it may be that your name and phone number are in two different places).

Amazingly, in those boxes, I also found stuff from undergrad (now 6 years in the past), and high school (a decade ago). So this is all paper I've schlepped across three states and five towns and several residences. I assume if I looked hard enough, I could probably find paper from when we were overseas. The thing is, most people use moving as a way to get rid of stuff. Me, I just toss all the stuff into a box, put duct tape on it and stick it in a corner and hope no one ever calls me on it. Forget burying a time capsule in the front yard of your school -- just hire me and I'll turn your entire place into a mausoleum of receipts, expired insurance policies, test papers, random newspaper clippings, grocery lists and envelopes with cryptic messages/phone numbers scrawled on them. Archeologists will love you for your consideration.

So, while a bunch of stuff got shredded and tossed, the rest got put into an Eddie Bauer bag and was dragged back here, ostensibly for me to go through and figure out what all of this paper is all about; my mother even helpfully threw in a couple of binders to I can get myself somewhat organized (A co-worker at Very Big Insurance Company once said I was the most organized person he ever met and that it was no surprise I could always find what I was looking "because it was all in the same place." Who needs file folders and binders or drawers when you have perfectly good desk space? Hmmm?)

Incidentally, I have tons of paper here too -- I've stopped using all but a corner of my dining room table because the rest is covered in bills/notices/flyers/coupons, stuff that I've somehow formed a deep and meaningful connection with and thus, cannot bring myself to throw out. After all, you can never have too many coupons to Linens 'N Things.

Hello. My name is Seema. And I have a paper problem.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Play Time! I made it 63 meters. How far can you go, hmmm? No updates to this space for the next 3-4 days. Be strong. Go see jemima for content in the meantime or my newest favorite blog: dooce. Or alternatively, see what basic right the anti-abortion movement is attacking now. So until Monday evening, ciao!