Monday, June 27, 2005

Where in the blogosphere is Seema?

Just a quick head's up to all that I may not be online as much this week, as I have a writing deadline for July 1 and I'm nowhere near where I need to be. So, I'm giving myself a kick in the pants and cutting myself off from IM and blogging unless I'm able to meet my editing/rewriting goals each night (rough draft done, I just need to go through and fix it all). I still owe tons of email -- I'm sorry if you're one of the people I owe, I've just been swamped lately -- but I'll be away for the holiday weekend. I will try to catch up when I return. Things should be a little less hectic next week (I hope).

Saturday, June 25, 2005


In the below post, I misspelled Senator Clinton's name -- it should be Hillary -- and there are several typos. I apologize but for some reason, blogger won't let me post my corrected (and enhanced) version of the post.
Guess who's coming to dinner?

The other day I was asked to fill out a 'Get to know you' profile, and one of the questions was, "Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner?" This question is particularly dangerous, I think, or maybe I read way too much into it, because I think it tells a lot about who you are, what you believe in, what you like and enjoy. In the past, my answers would have been Jane Austen, Henry VIII, and even Tom Cruise, but it's time to move on and diversify from the first two and I'm afraid of ending up in a smackdown over the history of psychiatric drugs with the last. I was also concerned that my choices would reveal my left-leaning tendencies, and here in Red State Central, that's not something I like to reveal.

In the end, it came down to a reality-check. If I was holding a dinner party, what type of guests would I like? Intelligence, humorous, articulated, witty, talkative, poised, sophisticated, accomplished were the adjectives that topped my list. I'd also insert a profanity filter in there too, but with at least two of my chosen guests, I don't think that's possible. I also wanted a balance of male versus female, though in retrospect, I didn't do a good job with the ages. I think all of my picks are age 40 and above, and it was only after I picked my guests that I realized I should have included Michelle Kwan as one of my choices.

First on my list, and liable to incur the wrath of many, was Hillary Clinton. I picked Hillary because I find her fascinating. I'm amazed that so many people take so much time to activately hate her and I don't know why. I actually asked Righteous Right Winger at Very Big Publishing Company why he had a thing against Hillary, and his answer was, "Well, if you don't know..." Well, I don't know and I'd love to hear from Hillary why she thinks -- in an answer other than 'vast right wing conspiracy' -- why people dislike her. I don't know about Hillary as a person, but as a role-model, I appreciate her intelligence, her ambition, her desire, her drive, and her hard work. Laura Bush was the perfect first lady post-9/11 -- warm, comforting, maternal -- but it's Hillary who really excites me and makes me say, "I want to do that."

Second, I chose David Duchovny, of "X-Files" fame. This choice surprised me, but once his name flashed into my head, it made perfect sense. He's a smart guy, a good writer, nice to look at, and very funny. He can sometimes be a jerk, but if I had him sitting at my dinner table and playing by my rules, I'd ask him about how he wrote and directed several episodes of "The X-Files," what his process was in terms of coming up with ideas and navigating his way through the scripwriting process. I'd ask him what he found difficult, what he found helpful and what he'd do all over again. Then I'd ask him whether he'd tried his hand at the fanfiction -- maybe he's writing as FoxyGirl? The truth is out there, and there's no place like dinner to dig it up.

Third on my list was Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart totally cracks me up and I love that he's equal opportunity when it comes to making fun of politicians. I might be a lefty and voted for Kerry, but I thought it was pretty darn funny when Stewart aired the video of Kerry making a super long and slow statement about the death of Arafat. I think Stewart said something along the lines of, "Who knew Kerry had taken his campaign to Palestine?" I think we take politics way too seriously and Stewart's approach in highlighting the absurd behavior from both parties is a delight. I'd ask him what he really thinks about the Bush administration, the war, John Kerry, and because Hillary Clinton is sitting right there, I'd ask Stewart what he thought her chances in 2008 were. And while we're at it, I'd probably inquire as to Stewart's take on Tom Cruise, but maybe that's a better question for my next and last guest.

I chose Oprah Winfrey kind of out of desperation. Don't get me wrong. I like Oprah, but I don't love her like some people do. I enjoy her show and I think she has some good things to offer, and I wish she'd bring back her Book Club. That being said, I chose her because she's warm, articulate, and intelligent, and she'd had a lot going on in her life and somehow, she managed to persevere and rise above everything. That's admirable to me. I'd ask her how she got the motivation to train for a marathon and how she did it. Then I want to know more about the Hermes store incident, the best tip she ever got from her never-ending parade of experts, which celebrity is the most genuine, and oh yes, the question on everyone's mind: is TomKat for real and does she believe we really need to free Katie?

There you have it. My fantasy dinner. Now the question is, who is going to do the cooking?

Link of the Day: Watch clips of Jon Stewart on the 'Daily Show' here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Forecast: Flying pigs

I never thought the day would come when I'd agree with Justice Scalia on anything, but today's decision about property seizure for private development just seems... wrong. I'm sure there must be specific guidelines under how property can be taken and how it should be compensated for, but still, it doesn't seem right.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


How is it that I have a closet that's the size of some houses filled with clothes and I still have nothing to wear? This morning, I literally tried on EVERYTHING in my closet and was unhappy with everything. This skirt made my hips look too wide, this shirt had lost its shape, these pants needed ironing, this dress had deodrant marks on it, this skirt was too short, this blouse needed to be sent to the dry cleaner's already and so on so forth.

I'm very attached to my things, which means I never, ever get rid of anything that might still fit. I have clothes from high school and I swear, somewhere I have a pair of turquoise blue shorts and a purple t-shirt from middle school (and yes, I did wear those two together). The end result is a closet full of clothing that is starting to look old and faded, somewhat out of style, and perpetually wrinkly. I know I should go out and start getting some new things. My last major clothing shopping spree was two years ago, when I picked up a couple of blouses and some pants. Add to the fact that I'm cheap and let my dry cleaning JUST PILE UP and I hate ironing so half of my clothes are wrinkled -- well, you see the problem.

If I wasn't so cheap, I'd hire myself both a laundry service and a fashion consultant. The laundry service would take care of the dry cleaning, laundry and ironing and the fashion consultant would make sure I never left the house again wearing white socks and black shoes.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Colonel Mustard, in the library with the candlestick

I thought I'd explain the gun reference in yesterday's post. I can't remember where I heard/read it, but essentially there's a saying out there that "if you put a gun over the mantle in the first act, you'd better shoot it by the third." This statement is especially applicable in the short story form, where real estate is at a premium and every detail has to contribute to the overall story and move the plot and characters forwards. You can maybe fudge it a little in a novella or novel, but loose ends stick out in a short story and need to be dealt with before the words 'the end'.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Lather, rinse, repeat

jemima asked for some condescension tonight, and so I offered up, "SHOOT THE DAMN GUN AND WRITE ANOTHER STORY!" (And for Chekov flavor, you can add either a nyet or a da at the end of the phrase). Bonus points to anyone who understands the 'gun' reference; it is writing-related and good advice too.
The obligatory propaganda post

The media is only just now up and running with the Downing Street Memo, which is amazing when you think about ALL OF THE POLITICIANS WE COULD HAVE BROUGHT DOWN WITH THIS MEMO. Though, to be quite frank, I haven't read the actual document -- only excerpts the media has been doling out over the last month, but even so, it doesn't look so good for either Blair or Bush -- but what do they care? They got re-elected anyway and we the American people are way too interested in a runaway bride ($500,000!) to actually care whether the president might have lied to us. Next!

In other news, I'm struggling through "All the President's Men" -- the Watergate story as written by Bernstein and Woodward. I never actually understood Watergate and now that we know who Deep Throat is, I figured I should read this book that's been sitting on my bookshelf for years and years. Still, it's awfully hard slogging through -- for journalists, Woodward and Bernstein are kind of dodgy writers -- and every time H.R. Haldeman's name comes up, I remember Dave Foley's SNL version of him cackling with 'Nixon' over the secret tapes and all gravity of the situation is lost.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Geek tech

If you need to temporarily use an SMTP server that is not your ISP's, port 2525 is one way to get around any filtering/blocking your ISP might be doing. Now that I've figured that out, I should be getting emails out to people over the next couple of days (a bunch of emails in my 'unsent mail' folder just went out a few minutes ago). I apologize for the delay and reiterate my love for port 2525.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Who says you can never go home again?

Very Big Publishing Company and I have been engaged in a spat for the last 10 days. You see, it took a Very Long Time (tm) for VBPC to realize I had left the company. For two or three months after I left, I was still receiving information on health benefits and the subscription to one of VBPC's most popular publications (which, btw, I was glad about). The thing that got me all het up was when VBPC sent me a letter informing me I still had active accounts with them. I ignored the letter for quite a while because you see, I was under the impression -- given my last conversation with VBPC -- that all my accounts were closed. A couple weeks ago, I found the letter again while cleaning and noting the June 20th expiration date on it, I thought, Hmmm, I should probably figure out what that's all about. So I called VBPC's outsourced HR department and the conversation went something like this:

Me: You sent me a letter about open accounts?

VBPC: I need your PIN to tell you about the letter we sent you

Me: I don't have a PIN. I left the company in December. I have shredded every non-tax related document regarding VBPC.

VBPC: Well, I can't tell you anything without a PIN

Me: Can you at least tell me if this letter is something I have to worry about or is it just another administrative boondoggle?

VBPC: I need your PIN.

Flash forward 10 days; VBPC has allegedly sent me my former PIN via snail snail mail. Somehow VBPC has always managed to find the slowest possible way of communicating to employees. Hence, I didn't get my benefits package until more than six months *after* I joined the company.

Me: You guys were supposed to have sent me my PIN and it hasn't come yet. Can you at least tell me what's going on?

VBPC: Please give me your PIN

Me: I just *told* you...

VBPC: Okay, give me the following identifying information.

Me: ::gives identifying information::

VBPC: Ah, okay, that allows me to see your account. Yes, you have money with us still.

Me: I cashed out of those back in February. I'm no longer with the company. Where is this money coming from?

VBPC: We made a deposit to your account in March.

Me: ::headdesk:: I left the company in December

VBPC: Well, if you don't make arrangements for this money RIGHT NOW, we're going to tax you into oblivion

Me: Okay, don't do that, I don't like that idea. What do I need to do?

VBPC: I need your PIN

Me: ::headdesk::

Despite having verified my identity completely, VBPC refused to initiate a transaction without that four digit number (which, btw, is completely random and I never remembered it even when I was working there). Anyway, to make a long story short, I came home frantically and checked my mail. Still no PIN number. I was resigning myself to the inevitable: come Monday morning, Uncle Sam would get a huge chunk of money that I didn't even know I had in the first place. So I got online and fiddled around with logging into VBPC's HR site and on my second try, managed to log in, and was thus able to save my newly found windfall from Uncle Sam's greedy clutches. Who says you can't guess randomly at four-digit numbers and succeed? Powerball, here I come!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

On writing

From the writer, Robert A. Heinlein:

Rule #1: You must write.

Rule #2: You must finish what you write.

Rule #3: You must never rewrite (unless to editorial demand, and then only if you agree)

Rule #4: You must mail what you finish.

Rule #5: You must keep the story in the mail until someone buys it.

Dean Wesley Smith explains:

#1 kills those who think they want to be a writer but just can never find the time.

#2 kills those writers who are so afraid of having anything finished.

#3 kills everyone because of the huge myth that rewriting is critical. (Myth fostered by universities and people who can't write a saleable word).

#4 kills every writer with any kind of fear.

#5 kills every writer who thinks that someone else's opinion is more important than their own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Link of the day

Lamest Edit Wars on Wikipedia. I especially like the entry for 'exploding whales' and the discussion on petrol vs gasoline is priceless. Go forth and boggle.

Also, I'm way, way behind on emails and comments, so if I owe you, I apologize. RL has kept me mostly offline and I'm going to try to catch up this week, but no promises.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Road Karma

I'm always amused when people pass me on the road home from work. It's a bumpy, pot-hole mess -- like most roads here in Sweat Sock City are and any day now, I know I'm gonna find some Mini Cooper just plugging up one of those pot holes and then a huge Metro bus is going to roll right over it and that'll be both the end of the Mini Cooper AND the pot hole. Anyway, despite the obvious Mini Cooper sized pot-holes, people like to pretend the road home is the Indy 500 or something.

Today, this woman in a blue mini van got impatient with the Metro bus -- road rule number one, do not MESS with the Metro bus, the driver can't see you -- and decided to cut me off so she could get to wherever it was she was getting to faster. Luckily for me, I was playing 'avoid the pothole' game -- which, actually, now that I think about it, it's definitely like 'Frogger', you know, that video game from the 80s? -- and so I was going slow enough to avoid planting the front of my car in her blue mini van rear end. And as if to make a point to the Metro bus, Blue Mini Van woman revved up and stepped on the gas.

I'd have been more impressed if a) she'd been driving a hummer (a mini van is just not that intimidating), b) if she didn't have a lei having from her rear view mirror (again, so not intimidating) and c) if she hadn't revved up just fast enough to get to the red light 5 seconds before both me and the Metro bus.

Times like this, I really just want to stick out my tongue and say, "Na na na goo goo."

Thursday, June 09, 2005

True confessions

When I was 10 years old, I developed my first actor crush. I fell hard, oh so hard, for Tom Cruise. Even at 10, I recognized the power of a twinkle in the eye, a dimple at the edge of pouty lips, and nicely tanned six pack -- lightly glazed with non-smelly perspiration, of course (at least, in my fantasy world). It didn't matter to me he was short, because he was and would always be several inches taller than me. Thanks to Tom Cruise, I developed a lasting appreciation for beach volleyball* and leather jackets, and oh those Navy dress whites.

I stood in line to see "Jerry Maguire" for three hours on opening night, because heaven forbid I wait 24 hours to see my One True Crush. FG gave me a poster book of Tom pictures for my birthday. When Tom and Nicole announced their divorce, KC immediately emailed me and said, "Tom's free! Time to make your move!" By now you're all probably thinking I'm pathetic, but at some point -- maybe around "Vanilla Sky"? -- Tom started to lose his sheen, for no particular reason other than I was no longer 10 years old, and reality and fantasy are two very distinct things and it's hard work crushing on an actor when you actually know nothing about them except, Wow, CUTE SMILE. When I see those pictures of him jumping up and down on Oprah's couch, I think: how could I have possibly crushed on someone so freakin' weird?

LoTD: Free Katie!

* Top Gun's beach volleyball scene has got to be one of the best scenes ever. Boys of Summer indeed.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I'm not necessarily a fan of writing 'gimmicks' because there are times when the style overpowers the substance of the story or rather, takes the place of a plot. I do think, however, changing things up and trying something new every now and then to get a fresh idea of character, or setting or plot. So with that in mind, here are some 'gimmicks' I've tried in the past. Note, these are fanfics as my original stories are no longer available online:

  • Pronoun-only story -- this was atrociously hard to do and thank goodness I had one male character and one female, because I didn't use their names a single time during the course of the story. This is not a challenge I'd repeat.
  • The 'backwards story' -- Start at the ending and work your way to the beginning. Now this was a lot of fun to write, but very difficult as well. The story has to be able to flow in both directions, and the ending -- which is essentially the beginning -- has to hold the truth the rest of the story has been building up to. This is a technique I'd like to try again.
  • The second person -- This is one I see a lot of, and while I've moved away from the second person as a form of storytelling, I think it can be very effective in certain situations -- when the narrator wants to put distance between himself and the events going on in the story. Once you get over the weirdness of the perspective, it's a pretty straight-forward device.
  • First person, present tense -- I was once told that writing first person/present tense was a big 'no no' and should never, ever be attempted unless your name was, say, Hemmingway. But I've never met a writing no no I didn't want to challenge, and so I had a go at it and had a great time writing this. I'm not so fond of present tense anymore, but I do still like the first person a lot.
  • Alternating first person narrative -- Two different narrators, first person, present tense. This was a lazy way of getting into two and then later, four, characters' heads. This way, I was able to shift geography, time spans, and character emotions without giving the reader whip-lash. At least, that's what I hope I accomplished!
  • Spam Poem -- Like all of you, I get a ridiculous amount of spam, and I figured I'd put it to good use. Every line in this poem is honest to God taken from a spam letter I actually received. I might have fiddled a bit with a couple of words, but nothing major -- I tried to preserve the beauty of the original spam (g). I'm sure some of you may recognize some of the lines included.
  • Imitating a famous author's 'voice' -- This is another one that I tried, and don't have any intention of doing again. I enjoy Jane Austen and have read all of her novels several times, but even so, I found this incredibly difficult -- Austen is Austen for a reason. Still, it was fun and a challenge to imitate another author quite frequently gets you to focus on details and nuances that otherwise you might have missed.
  • The 100-word story -- I'm not terribly fond of drabbles, because they seem to be everywhere, but it's a good writing excercise. How much 'story' can you fit into just 100 words? Writing 100 words is easy; making it make sense and have a beginning, middle and end is a lot harder.
  • Lori's Evil Challenge -- Because it's well-known among the Mod Squaders that I love, love challenges, Lori gave me this one: write a story in which one character's dialogue has to be taken completely from a song. That's right, somehow one person has to speak in lyrics, the other person can talk normally, and oh my gosh, somehow it all has to make sense. It was evil, but I did it, not once, but twice, and there are a bunch of other Lori's Evil Challenge stories floating around.

I've answered a lot of other challenges over the years, but many of them have to do with song lyrics or Shakespeare or incorporate this element into a story or are less strange than the ones I pointed out above. I've also heard of 'all dialogue' challenges, though I've never tried it myself; hmmm, maybe that should be next on my list? So, what about you? What's the best (most evil?) challenge you've ever come across? Original fic challenges, if you've done them, count as well.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Have you written today?

There's nothing like fresh condescension to warm the heart, especially when one is 23 days away from a deadline and without motivation or story ideas -- in which case it's condescension mixed with salt and rubbed DEEP DEEP into the wound. Have you people no heart?

To be fair, if I were giving myself advice on breaking free from writer's block, I'd also condescend to myself and say, "Just write. Treat it like a job. 'War and Peace' wasn't written in a day." But I don't want to write like it's a job -- I've already got one of those from 8 to 5. What I want is some fun and dang it, I've already bribed the muse with chocolate and margaritas and she still won't come home. That's just WRONG, yo.

In the meantime, here are Writer's Digest's Thirty Hot Markets. Just because I'm not writing doesn't mean you guys shouldn't.

This entry was beta-read by jemima, who also believes in the muse

Monday, June 06, 2005

Living out-loud

A few years back, when I was still working at Very Big Insurance Company, I came in to work after being away for a few days and greeted my co-worker -- let's call her Polly -- with the usual, "How are you?" Polly and I, by the way, were never on great terms to begin with and I tried to keep my interactions with her as terse as possible for that very reason. So I expected that day she would say her usual, "I'm fine, you?" And then I would say I was fine and we'd move on with the day. Except that particular day, she said, "I'm getting a divorce." I stopped flat in my six-inch heels and I swear, my mouth was stuck in an O-shape for about five minutes.

"I'm sorry?" I said when I managed to get my jaw to work again.

"Don't be," Polly said, "I'm doing great." And her lips curled up into a smile, and then there was a little bit of tooth, and some crinkles at the edges of her eyes.

Over the next few weeks, Polly underwent this massive transformation. She got highlights, lost weight, bought a new wardrobe, and was thoroughly enjoying herself. At one point, she bought herself a huge bouquet of roses and put them on her desk "because I deserve them" and she didn't mean it in a pity party sort of way either.

Polly's behavior threw me. For some reason, I was under the impression that when one was divorcing, it was supposed to a be 'traumatic hide under the bedcovers and eat chocolate all day and wail on the phone to sympathetic girlfriends' experience until the pieces of one's heart managed to stitch themselves back into place.

Losing someone you care deeply about is never easy, but whatever other differences Polly and I had, I always admired how she allowed herself to only feel sorry for herself for about 30 seconds and then she got up and involved in her own personal renaissance. Bedcovers and chocolates sound comforting, but I know now that going out is the way to get past the hurt, disappointment and guilt. After all, if you're out having a good time, there's no time to dwell on what might have been.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Want a job?

Seen in the local job listings:

Social Butterfly

Are you great with people? How would you like to be compensated for it? International Company expanding operations World Wide. Seeking individuals with a great work ethic and ability to work directly with customers. Must be fun, outgoing, and confident. Strong people skills and communications skills a must! Management or Sales background a plus! No Telemarketing, No cubicles, Open/Fun work environment! Training and Travel available! Send your Resume and put your people skills to work for you today!

I sense 'sales' written all over this one, but it's got the catchiest title I've ever seen.

Link of the day: The Blogger Life Cycle

Saturday, June 04, 2005

The old dog learns a new trick

I've talked about my paper problem before, but in the interests of not grossing anyone out, I neglected to mention that the 'problems' also extended to clothes and dishes. There was a point in my life, oh about two months ago, when I had clothes covering nearly every available surface, including and especially the bathroom floor, and dirty dishes on the kitchen counter top, in the sink, and the dishwasher could be a toss-up. Today, I'm happy to report, I have cured myself of all three problems. There are no clothes on the floor -- not counting the duffle from this morning's aborted attempt at a 'hot' yoga class -- and the only dishes in the sink are the bowl and spoon from my snack of just a few minutes ago.

I had read somewhere that it takes 21 days to break an old habit and begin a new one. I had twenty-nine years worth of habit to break here (though I have to say, the dishes are very recent). I also had to break the mindset that when you live alone, it's okay to let things slide. There were so many nights, for no good reason, when I'd just leave stuff out because there was no one here to care. If my shoes were cluttering up the hallway, then that was fine -- no one was going to trip over them except for me. So I started simply -- I made it a rule and wrote it down: YOU CANNOT GO TO BED UNLESS ALL THE DISHES ARE PUT AWAY, THE CLOTHES ARE FOLDED OR HUNG UP, AND THE PAPER EITHER FILED OR SHREDDED OR THROWN AWAY.

Amazingly, once I started thinking that way, things started to get put away. I also made a rule that I would start paying bills the day they came, not a few days before they were due. That way I could get rid of the paper quickly and not have it build up and I wouldn't be sitting there wondering if I'd paid a bill not or stressing over whether I was late. I also started throwing away the junk mail right at the mailbox; the complex provides a trash can right there so there was no reason for me to bring the grocery flyers etc., up to my apartment.

Once I got used to having a clean apartment -- let me tell you, it's a joy to not step over clothes everywhere or coming into a kitchen full of dirty dishes -- that just became a habit with me. Now it seems weird if there are more than a couple of dishes in the sink and my dining table is virtually free of everything except what should be on that table -- placements, candlesticks and centerpiece. Of course, now I have a new problem: I can never find anything to write on.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Road rules

I was explaining my driving rules to my dad over the weekend, and they go something like this:

  • I never drive behind a bus, truck or any vehicle pulling a boat (or anything else, for that matter) if I can help it

  • I try my best to avoid driving behind any car with any of the following bumper stickers: W '04 or 'The Path to Hell is Lined with Liberals' etc. I have nothing against people supporting their candidate -- I just don't want to have to drive with that big old W '04 sticker in my face the entire time. Go ahead, you can call me a sore loser. By the same token, I don't like to drive behind anyone who has more than one 'Support our troops' sticker on their car; does having more than one sticker automatically make one more patriotic?*

  • I like to drive friendly, so if someone needs to merge into traffic or make a turn or something, I usually let them go (bumper stickers, btw, play no part in this rule; everyone deserves a break during their day, especially while on the road). The only exception is if they are driving a gratuitously large vehicle, in which case, I feel a deep-seated primal need to assert my small car rights into the mix and show Gratuitously Large Vehicles that I'm not afraid of their hulking monstrosities. When I say gratuitously large vehicle I mean: Hummers**, Ford F-150s (and anything larger than that), Escalades, Excursions and Expeditions.

  • On highways, I like to drive in the center lane if there is one. That way I'm not in the way of the maniacs who don't understand traffic doesn't move here in Sweat Sock City and wanting to go 70 miles an hour doesn't automatically make traffic go that fast and also, I'm out of the way of merging traffic.

  • I try to use my blinkers at all times. Every now and then I forget. I'm sorry.

  • I drive with the mind-set that getting there safely is better than getting there fast and because I stress out about getting late or lost, I usually end up leaving earlier than necessary -- especially if it's somewhere I've never been -- in order to have plenty of time to get lost and still not be late. Of course, this creates situations when I'm just way, way too early.

* The 'Support our Troops' ribbons irk me incredibly, and I can't completely articulate why that is. It's not that I don't don't support our troops, but I don't feel the need to advertise my patriotism to the world on the rear-end of my car. And while the ribbons only mention the troops, I can't help but think putting one on my car is also a tacit endorsement of the reason why they're over there and that's an impression I simply do not want to give.

**I don't know what it's like in other parts of the country, but in my neck of the woods and especially in my ultra-rich, ultra high class neighborhood, Hummers are the status cars these days and there are an amazing amount of them just driving around, threatening to overrun us small car drivers. I know things aren't great here in Sweat Sock City, but seriously, it's not downtown Baghdad. You don't need to drive a tank to go to Target!