Sunday, July 31, 2005

Conversations with Florida Girl

Florida Girl, for those of you may not know, is one of my closest and dearest friends in the whole wide world. We went to college together, and despite the fact we live nowhere near each other, we talk pretty often and are probably just as close as we were then. About five years ago, we went to London together for 10 days and I wrote down one of our inane flights of fantasy in my travel journal and it went something like: we were going to buy a sheep farm in Ireland and we were going to buy a 1,000 sheep and sell sweaters. There were other things, but I remember the sheep farm thing the most because a) I don't like animals, b) I know nothing about sheep, c) I know nothing about making sweaters and d) I'm not so big into dirt and manure.

I didn't say we always made sense.

Case in point. Today, Florida Girl called me just as I was walking out the door for a lunch date and because it was Florida Girl, I dawdled just a few minutes so I could hear all the particulars of her busy Sunday morning. She was talking about having to edge the lawn, mow the lawn, and was planning to buy gravel and plant some bushes.

"You know," she said, "you should buy a house and then we could talk about these things. You could give me pointers."

"You want me to buy a house so I can tell you what to do with your house?"

"You're such an over-achiever, you'll probably figure out the best way to do everything and then you can tell me all about it, and it'll be easier for me."

"So let me get this straight: in order to make your life easier, you want me to buy a house?"

"It'll be so much fun."

In case you're wondering, I currently have no plans to buy a house. Even if I do so covet the red-brick townhouses springing up like weeds on my street.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A strange, sweet music

Last night, I scored tickets to "Phantom of the Opera" very unexpectedly and very last minute. I'd been fully prepared to spend my Friday night watching BSG and installing DSL, but a friend called around 7 pm. "Are you free? Do you want to go see Phantom? Meet me at the theater. It starts at 8." Since I only live minutes away from the theater, it wasn't a big deal and I managed to get there on time.

I first saw "Phantom" more than ten years ago in Montreal. It was February, bitterly cold, and I'd never been quite so grateful as when we sat down in our plush seats to watch the show. I didn't quite 'feel' the show until "Angel of Music/The Phantom of the Opera/Music of the Night" and then, as I watched the 'boat' slide across the stage in a misty blue fog, illuminated by candles, my breath caught in my throat. I felt a thrill then that has never been duplicated or so profoundly felt. Yesterday, I'm happy to say I felt that same shiver go down my throat as I watched the Phantom lead Christine down into his dungeon.

My favorite musical sequence still remains "Angel of Music/Phantom of the Opera/Music of the Night", but this time I also appreciated the intricacy and color of the set, the fine detail to attention, and the pyrotechniques. When I saw the show in Montreal, I was seated in the last row of the theater, and there was half a pillar in my way, and so I definitely missed some things. This time, I saw and appreciated it all. It was truly a beautiful and spectacular production, and I am so glad to see that it after all these years, it still managed to retain its romantic spot in my heart.

Music rec: Celtic Woman -- I heard these guys on PBS and oh, such beautiful voices, such lovely arrangements of music, and just really calming and lovely music. Do check your local PBS stations to see when the concert will air in your area.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work

You know how that saying goes? You can't always get what you want, but sometimes, you can, and today I got my wish: the Bush Administration has done away with the phrase 'war on terror' and replaced it with the catchier 'global struggle against violent extremism'. The NY Times trumpets this Wag the Dog moment with their headline: "U.S. Officials Retool Slogan for Terror War". I don't know about you all, but knowing the Bush administration's marketing department is working overtime to develop a slogan that properly describes current events makes me feel so much safer. Now if we just get Willie Nelson to write us a theme song, I'm sure the Al-Qaeda weenies will run for the hills, their AK-47s and machetes tucked between their legs.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Oh, the humanity!

I was knocked off line because my phone line went kaput. I came home to discover not only was my phone ringing off the hook -- because it was crossed with a home builder's line -- but also everytime I called out, it helpfully dialed the same number I was calling twice. Which meant when I was on the phone with Ma Bell, I was talking to a representative, while in the background I could hear, "Your call is important to us. Please continue to hold." And when Ma Bell called me back, in the background was the operator, admonishing Ma Bell telling her to hang up and please try the call again because the line was busy. Ma Bell then told me the quickest she could get someone to fix my phone was 7 pm on Wednesday.

People, I was looking at more than FORTY EIGHT HOURS WITHOUT THE INTERNET. The phone, not such a big deal, because most people call me on my cell these days. But without the Internet? Monday, I was fine, because I only had about 30 minutes between the time I came home from work to when I had to leave for my swing dance class, and then I didn't come home until close to 10, and ended up chatting with the Maternal Unit and eating chocolate covered coffee beans until about 10:30. Just for the record: eating chocolate covered coffee beans at that hour is a Very Bad Idea (tm) and should not be attempted at home. And then, because I was WIRED, I ended up watching the second half of a Dominion War arc and then when I couldn't sleep that night, I woke up around 2 am and watched another Dominion War arc ep. I tell you, people, there is NOTHING like a DS9 bedtime story when the sheep just refuse to do their job.

Anyway, the whole sleepness night IS relevant, as starting early this morning, the phone started ringing off the hook for the home builder. And as I was fast asleep (finally), it was rather annoying. Especially because of the whole dual phone thing -- I'd pick it up, and get the busy signal and some confused person asking for the home builder; needless to say, they couldn't hear me over the busy signal. Around 6:50, I gave up on the possibility of an extra 10 minutes of sleep and got up. I also ignored the phone which kept ringing through MY THIRTY MINUTES WITH KATIE AND MATT.

During the day, I kept checking Ma Bell's website, and it kept saying there was a repair report out on my line and that it would be fixed by 7 pm Wednesday. I fully intended to come home tonight, absolutely antsy and pulling my hair out and then, of course, curling up in a ball on the floor in withdrawal. But I went to yoga first, so when I came home, I was actually pretty well relaxed and oxygenated. And hungry. And what do you know, Ma Bell had called and said she fixed my line! Of course, my voice mail was full of hang-ups of busy dial tones, but that didn't matter, because Ma Bell had come through, had delivered MORE THAN SHE PROMISED, and my line was fixed, and I didn't have to worry about another 24 hours without Internet and I'm glad it got straightened out before my DSL ordered arrived. Sheesh.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Word play

The editing continues, and the sheer amount of 'saidisms' is driving me absolutely nuts. On a single page, I've used: confirmed, ventured, confessed, interrupted, pointed out, warned, charged, reasoned and commented. Oh, the sheer pain of it. This is an easy enough edit to make -- I'm just taking the 'saidisms' out and when I go back through, I'll fix the actions/dialogue to make it flow better.

The other issue coming up (other than bad grammar) is the liberal use of adverbs. My current line of thinking is that adverbs should be used sparingly and that the action/dialogue should reveal the information instead of relying on the adverb to convey what the feeling/emotion/action/etc is. So I'm taking the adverbs out across the board -- again another easy edit to make.

A high school teacher once marked us down half a letter grade if we used the verb 'to be' more than twice on a page. At first I disagreed very strongly, especially when I got my first red-lettered D. But over time, I came around to his way of thinking. When I was sitting there, trying to eliminate 'to be' from my writing, I discovered how to construct stronger, shorter, more active sentences. I still try to limit my use of the verb and I may use that same rule for adverbs -- no more than two per page -- and see what happens. As for 'saidisms', I don't know if there's a rule of thumb -- maybe just a couple times throughout the entire story (this is a short story, about 12,000 words) -- or do away with them entirely. Anyone have an idea?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Last post of the day

Really, I'm in a bloggy mood -- I haven't blogged this much in nearly year, I don't think. But I swear, this is the last post of the day as I have to go to dinner and there's a whole funny story associated with that plans that probably wouldn't translate well in virtual life, otherwise I'd tell you all about it. That's the problem with virtual life and real life sometimes -- the people don't always know each other and the nuances of both are missed on the other. But really, what I was coming back to say -- even though I should be in my car DRIVING -- that this here is an interesting article on how some major publishers are using the Internet to publicize their authors. Also, on a scary note, Nora Roberts has just completed her 159th novel and unlike Danielle Steele, her books are actually good.

And now really, you guys are somehow going to have to get through the rest of Saturday without a post from me.
Here I am, once again*

The previously aforementioned completed first draft (now if that isn't a mouthful!) has inspired me to go back and edit an older piece, a favorite of mine, and reading through it, it reminds exactly why I don't like re-reading. I just find it amazing how in several years my punctuation, grammar and style can change so drastically; I do think I'm more correct now than I was then and thank GOODNESS, I have discovered the goodness of contractions. So in a nutshell, here are the 'mistakes' I picked out during the editing of this story:

1. Contractions good. Very, very good. There are situations where contractions won't make sense, but in general, not using them stilts the dialogue.

2. Someone is speaking, the comma only comes after the 'said' or the 'saidism', and not after something like: He laughed, "You know what I mean." There should be no comma after laughed.

3. And speaking of 'saidisms', get rid of them. Eviscrete them. 'Said' is a perfectly good word to use and should be used many, many times.

4. Sometimes less dialogue is more, especially when chunks of dialogue are whiny. Whiny gets old after a while. Characters ought to be flawed, but there's a fine line there.

5. I'm the queen of redundancy and while I've gotten better at it, going through this story leaves me feeling tired, as if I were writing memos for Very Big Insurance Company, where the style was very often: This is what we're going to tell you, now we're telling you, this is what we've told you.

* Pop culture quiz! What's the reference?
Le weekend

It's Saturday and I woke up at 6:35, just like that. Why can't I wake up during the week feeling that wide-eyed and bushy tailed? It is a mystery. I managed to get a story finished and off for comments this morning. I was feeling procrastinatory (is that a word?) but I put myself on a timer and ended up just writing until the time ran out. At the end of the session, I had a completed first draft.

The hard part about writing, I think, is getting started. First drafts are never pretty or easy; I don't believe anyone who says they are. First drafts mean getting the stuff out there, ignoring the inconsistencies, the weird sentence formations and imagery, and wildly out of character moments. First drafts have a lot to do with swallowing pride and just getting the words and gist of the story out there. Draft two is the nuts and bolts, fixing the major plot issues and refining the prose. Draft three, I think, is where everything needs to come together and draft four is the final. Of course, not everyone works this way -- I think writing is very individual and some people are happy with just two drafts. I'm never happy. It's a big reason why I don't re-read my older stuff -- I see Bad Things (tm).

That being said, I feel good about having a first draft of a story that I could think about submitting for a sale. I really want to concentrate on writing professionally and that may mean I can't spend as much time writing for fun. It's a weird shift in mindset, but I think it's a necessary one and I've noticed other fanficcers taking that step -- to focus on professional publication versus spending time writing stories that won't sell. I've learned a lot from fanfic and it's a far cry to say I'm retiring; I refuse to say that. If a fic comes to mind and I have to write it and it doesn't take time from my professional aspirations, then yes, I will write it; it's just no longer going to be my focus.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A spoonful of sugar

In the fall of 1997, I was starting my senior year of college. It was supposed to be the best year ever, but it started in the most horrible way and it felt suddenly like there was this world moving around me and I couldn't bring myself to be a part of it. It was the year I entered school as a size 10 and left as a size 2. It was the year I learned what grief was all about and how it can rip your heart out and turn you inside out.

During all of that time, Florida Girl was -- as always -- there, but it was another friend -- Bean -- who seemed to know exactly how I was feeling. She had gone through something similar only a couple years earlier and around her, I didn't have to explain. I clung to her during that first semester. During the holiday break, my grandmother passed away and then a few weeks later, Bean's father passed away suddenly. She came back to school, and this time our positions were reversed. We spent time together, away from the others, because as helpful as all our friends were and no matter how caring and loving, we had this thing -- this massive amount of grief -- that they could not understand and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we even wanted to share.

On one of those occasions, we went to the grocery store. It was a bitterly cold day in February and we took the bus. I don't know if we couldn't find Florida Girl -- our usual ride -- or if we just decided it would be a trip just for the two of us. I'm guessing it was the former, as grocery store trips were always a big deal and a group activity. Anyway, that day, we ended up at Stop and Shop and as we were standing to check out, I noticed some cupcakes in the bakery. They were the typical grocery store cupcakes -- 75 percent frosting, 25 percent cake. The frosting was bright blue and swirled up to a little point at the top. I knew at that moment I had to have one. Bean considered just for a moment and then she picked one up too.

We stood out in the cold, with snow about shin deep, and the wind beating at us. The grocery bags were at our feet, and we couldn't see the bus. We stood there and licked the frosting off the cupcakes, and I'm pretty sure we both had frosting all over our faces. We laughed that day, and it's one of the few clear recollections I have of that year -- the two us, beneath the gray sky, eating the scariest looking cupcakes on the face of the earth, and suddenly all the things that were eating away at us were far, far away.

Yesterday, Bean emailed me to say she's bought a plane ticket and she's coming to see me in October. At the end of her note, she wrote, "We should make cupcakes." Over the years, 'cupcakes' have become our code word, our shared secret message to each other when we need to just be and not be fussed over. I think in that moment, we were truly content because we didn't have to pretend we were fine -- we were -- and we weren't thinking about anything else except how ridiculous it was for two twenty-somethings, just months away from graduation, to be licking frosting off cupcakes. And when Bean wrote "We should make cupcakes", it made me smile, because it's one thing to have a memory you cherish; it's another when you realize the other person holds that same moment with similar regard.
Taking the plunge

Today, I picked up the phone and I called the DSL people, and even though I strenuously -- STRENUOUSLY -- object to some of their policies, I ordered DSL. People, I'm gonna be SO on the INFORMATION SUPER HIGHWAY*. I know you guys are sitting there saying, "Well, what took you so long?" Would you believe it was FEAR? FEAR OF TECHNOLOGY? Last year, I actually ordered DSL, and then the box came, and the box was as big as my television and I just PANICKED. I opened the box and there were instructions about taking your computer apart, about buying this piece of hardware, of installing this kind of software, and I swear, every geek cell in my body just IMPLODED. I grabbed the UPS shipping labels out of the box, sealed it back up and sent the whole kit and caboodle back to whatever Tech Hell it had come from.

This time though, no such luck. I am being forced to adapt because my father has made the decision to drop dial-up and go to DSL. How does this affect me, given that the parental units live three hours to the west of me? For the last few years, I've been piggy-backing on their dial-up connection. For me it was a great deal, as I got to zip along at a rather speedy 50.6 bps. For my parents, not so fast -- top cruising speed for them was around 26.8 bps. My father finally decided he could not take the slowness anymore and dumped the dial-up and ordered DSL. Which meant I could either stay with his ISP and switch it over to my name, or face my fears and order DSL (which now costs the same -- $14.95/month -- as the ISP). So despite the fact I'm frequently irrational, I did the rational thing and ordered the DSL. If there's one thing that conquers my fear of anything, it's finding a good bargain.

*Another phrase that also needs to be banned from the lexicon, and I will try not to use it in my blog again.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Say what?

The other day a dog lover and I were discussing the reasons why I don't like dogs. Yes, I know it's unAmerican to not like dogs, but there you have it. Dog Lover was trying to convince me of the wrongness of my viewpoint and with full confidence said, "When you get a dog, you'll love it."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

As the press turns

I'm about 400 pages into Harry Potter, but while I've been reading like a mad woman, Stuff (tm) has been happening in the world, apparently. I hear Karl Rove got kicked off the front pages because the President has nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court. I don't actually have an opinion on Roberts yet, because I don't know enough about him to form one. I do admit to not understanding what "legislating from the bench" or "activist judge" means; those phrases are starting to grate on me, much the same way as "weapons of mass destruction" and "war on terror" do; begone from the lexicon already!

Also, at dinner tonight, my attention kept getting drawn to the flat screen television mounted above the diners. It was tuned to ABC, and "Brat Camp" came on and I got a kick out of the labels slapped onto each of the kids: 'Angry Punk' 'Self-Destructive Teen', 'Steals from Mom'. I was greatly amused, but no one else seemed to share my amusement. They were too busy outing me as a liberal Democrat (I 'fessed as my undergrad alma mater pretty much blows my cover), but then they pronounced me "good people anyway." By that pronouncement, there is more than one of me. Now tell me, what is scarier than two Seemas? Not much, I don't think.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The real magic

When I got my futon, I moved my IKEA chair into an unused corner of my bedroom. Along with a halogen lamp and a foot rest thingy, it made up my 'reading corner'. At one point, I even had a green basket (a gift from The Fainter) filled with magazines at the foot of the IKEA chair. It looked very nice; I just never actually sat down and read it in.

This past weekend, I've on a reading binge. I've always loved to read, but the last few years, it's been more like a book a month -- reading time has been reduced to a few pages every night just before I fall asleep. But something sparked in me last week. I think it was when I was putting my name on the waiting list for the latest Harry Potter and I realized I could peruse the whole library catalog from the comfort of my home office and have the books waiting for me when I got to the library. I went a little insane :-)

Today, I picked up my copy of Harry Potter from the library. Amazingly, for being 274th on the waiting list, I got the email notice on Saturday itself. But before there was Harry, I ran through The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. Both books, btw, are well worth reading as the prose and character nuances are amazing. At any rate, since Thursday, I've sat in my reading corner, read two novels and the first two chapters of the new HP and it's been fun and wondered, why don't I do this more often?

Here's the other thing: I don't remember much about the fifth HP book and I'm afraid to look up a summary in case of spoilers. So if someone knows where there's a fifth book synopsis without spoilers and will tell me about it, I will love you forever and ever. And now, Muggles, I'm off to see just how much of a dent I can make in the latest Hogwarts hijinks before I'm forced to call it a night.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Holy left foot, Batman!

Thanks to the efforts of my uncle -- for saving the article -- and Kiran - for scanning the picture -- I hereby present to you the infamous foot picture. Yes, people, you are reading the blog of possibly the only person in the world who has had her foot and ONLY her foot published in the Small Business section of the newspaper. You got to love Sweat Sock City Chronicle.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Don't it always seem to go*

Wednesday night, some of us went out for tapas at this really popular restaurant in this really popular part of Sweat Sock City. I was SO excited because I managed to score a parking spot right across the street from the restaurant, and I snagged the spot even though the sign said "For Arcade Customers Only. All Others Will Be Towed At Their Own Expense." In retrospect, a tow sign isn't half as scary as the one on the Brandenburg Gate, warning you away from the East Berlin. But I digress.

I was able to watch my car from the window of the tapas restaurant, and prepared my friend for the possibility that I'd have to jump up from my seat and run after a tow truck. Obviously, I didn't get towed, and the evening ended well at a faux-French bakery where we enjoyed dessert and coffee. The story really begins the next morning when I pulled into work and realized that my wonderful, choice parking spot had also been the wonderful, choice spot for birds. So off I went at lunch to a nearby gas station to get a car wash. I paid $6 for 'the works' wash, which, incidentally cost the same as the 'express' wash; I think the marketing at Exxon needs a little work. I'm just saying. Either way, I wasn't terribly happy with the wash as it left some bird souveniers on the hood.

Anyway, an hour after I got my car washed, the skies went black, and opened up like no one's business. I stood there at the windows, completely aghast, as rain PELTED the pavement, the rain drops smacking up from the puddles, and thunder and lightening boomed and crackled. And this went on for HOURS. Parts of Sweat Sock City flooded. We hadn't seen rain in a month and then all of a sudden, gallons and gallons overflowed the streets and pushed the manhole covers up from the road. When I went home, the rain had slowed to a light sprinkle, and I checked out the hood of my car; the rainstorm had pretty much finished the job Exxon had started. Man. For $6, I could have had a burrito.

* Bonus points to anyone who figured out today's pop culture reference

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Thing the First: The Fainter now has me on 24/7 Judith Miller/Matt Cooper/Robert Novak/Karl Rove 'duty'. In the course of fulfilling my obligations, I came across the transcript of Scott McClellan's press briefing from yesterday. It's possibly the most unintentionally hilarious thing I've read in a long time. Poor Scott. He's either been caught in a lie or he has been duped by people he trusted.

Thing the Second: I really, really, really don't like the phrase 'first annual'. I mean, really, how anything that's happening for the first time be 'annual'? It's only annual if it happens a year after the first time. When you stick the word 'annual' after 'first', it implies a hope and a promise that this event is indeed going to happen next year (and nowhere is there ever an asterisk with the words 'unless we bomb'). Call me a pessimist, but I think 'annual' should start with 'second' and go from there.

Thing the Third: I have a confession to make. Watch this space. No, not THAT kind of confession. Sheesh, people. I'll give you a hint. It's where I've been spending my free time. No, no, not there either. Man. You people.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

On a lighter note

It feels weird to abruptly switch gears and go from talking about Al-Qaeda to movies, but A-Q already gets more attention -- and legitimacy -- than they deserve, so I'm going to talk about the movies.

This weekend, I finished watching one of my favorite Hindi movies, Guide. This is just one of those films I've always adored, and even though I've seen it several times prior to this weekend, this is the first time I really understood what was going on. It's a more complex storyline than most Bollywood pictures, and a good chunk of the movie is in flashback -- which I never realized until now -- but I've always been struck by the lead actors and oh that musical score. I love Waheeda Rehman's youthful exuberance as she dances in the temple -- barefoot! -- in Aaj Phir Jeene ki Tamanna Hai. It's the ultimate sign of freedom -- she doesn't care what society thinks, she just wants to be herself. My other favorite song is the ballad, Gaata Rahe Mera Dil, with the lovely scenary and possibly in that song, both Dev Anand and Rehman are in full bloom. I also like that the usual conventions of Bollywood films are turned upside down in this movie and the ending isn't typical whatsoever in that the hero, Raju, dies.

Dev Anand's Raju is complex and flawed; he starts off as a good guy and then gets drunk -- literally -- on success as Rehman's Nalini/Rosie's career takes off. In the ultimate act of redemption, he sacrifices himself to end a drought for a starving village. That he dies in Nalini's arms is about as romantic an ending as this film is going to give. In a typical Bollywood film, he would miraculously rise from his deathbed, proclaim his love for Nalini, and then they would dance off into the sunset together. The ending also takes on a spiritual and philosophical bent as Raju gets closer and closer to death and in the process, exorcises his own demons.

I understand I've probably spoiled the movie now for anyone who wants to see it, but it is over 40 years old (g) and yes, it has its cinematic and storytelling weakenesses. That being said it's an amazing film, and really, just that one scene of Rehman in her sky blue sari, running through the temple, with Lata Mangeshkar's voice soaring (surely in its heydey -- the only other Mangeshkar song I think is more perfect than Aaj Phir Jeene... is Khabi Khabi from the film of the same name) is worth the 3 hour viewing time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Attack of the weenies

The thing about Al-Qaeda that is seriously annoying -- I mean, other than the mass murdering aspect of the organization -- is that they don't actually seem to have any goals in life other than to end up in a blissful place where many, many virgins wait on them hand and foot. And since they don't have any goals in life, they're bent on disrupting everyone around them who might be trying to make a change for the better. Forget the jihad on the 'infidels', apparently fellow Muslims are fair game too as evidenced by the execution of the top Egyptian envoy to Iraq.

If I had a chance to sit down with Osama Bin-Laden and his goons, I'd ask them straight out, "What is it that you're actually trying to gain by killing all of these people?" I don't buy the whole "we hate America" argument and I'm not particularly enamoured of the President's "they hate freedom" argument. It's not necessarily that Al-Qaeda hates freedom or America, but rather that they don't have anything else to do. I mean, how bored do you have to be to have lost all love for humankind, and hell, your own life that you are willing to strap on explosives, get on a crowded bus, and blow yourself up? Especially if you don't actually accomplish anything? To me, that's not a fight against 'freedom' or America or anything else -- those people who are pissed off because they don't have any other way to be.

Other terrorist organizations like the PLO and IRA blew things up, but they also had a political wing, and an aim in mind. Al-Qaeda doesn't have a list of demands and it doesn't seem like they want anyone else to have an opportunity to better themselves; hence, they're attacking Iraqis who are training to be soldiers and police; Osama, dude, if you keep killing Iraqis off, we Americans aren't going to be leaving any time soon, which no doubt, is gonna make you even more purple-faced than you already are. But logic isn't the name of the game here. AQ may be many things, but rational isn't one of them.

Wanton destruction without a list of demands, well, that's just a waste of resources -- expending energy, capital and skill sets in missions that don't actually produce a return of any kind. Acting all pompous and "We bring the infidels to their knees", well, that's bravado. Newsflash AQ: Western civilization is still here. Maybe Al-Qaeda just likes chaos, maybe they like playing David to what they see as Goliath -- Western Civilization -- or maybe they just like getting attention. They're probably high fiving right now over the bombings in London saying, "Ha! We did it again! We terrorized people."

Sorry, Osama. Sorry, Zarqawi. Hate to disappoint you, but you don't scare me because you are all a bunch of weenies. If you're gonna fight a battle, at least be man enough to show your face in public and heck, maybe even think about pulling up a chair to the negotiating table and telling us just what it is we need to do to make you go away. Stop with all of this cave-hopping nonsense. The fact that you can haul butt through Afghanistan and Pakistan tells me you've got some game in those frail bones of yours, but honestly, Osama, I think you're lazy and it shows in your 'work'.

Al-Qaeda goes after soft targets because it's easy and they don't even make a pretense of wanting anything of all the murder, mischief and mayhem. They have beheaded many people, and in some cases, made demands that were obviously not going to be met by various governments. Al-Qaeda in those cases was either optimistic or just plain bent on spilling blood that it just kept on kidnapping and killing. It wouldn't have matter if President Bush had said, "Let's go home, boys," after the first American was captured. Al-Qaeda would have killed him anyway and then found something else to get pissed off about, because that's what they do.

I'm still a firm opponent of the war in Iraq. I don't think the war in Iraq has made us safer. Rather, it has moved Americans to a place where they can be easier targets for the jihadists who clearly don't want to have to work at making their non-point and who have nothing to lose and nothing to gain. You can bet Al-Qaeda is thrilled to pieces to have so many of the infidels in their midst, making it so easy for them to find something to do. It doesn't occur to Al-Qaeda that maybe they ought to take up bridge-building or figure ways to restore water and electricity. Progress isn't what Al-Qaeda is all about and until they find a hobby that doesn't involve killing and maiming, we're stuck with them.

The sad fact of the situation is, our brave men and women over there are taking the heat for us. Sign up for the Army these days and you're essentially volunteering to be a target for Al-Qaeda. But there's a courage in deciding that something must be done and working towards a goal and regardless of my feelings about the Iraqi war, I admire those people who are over there shouldering the burden for the rest of us. Working towards change means something. Fighting against change because you're too scared to accept the premise that you might be actually benefit from opportunity and new ways of thinking, well, that's not a quality that's attractive to virgins. I'm just saying.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Another day

The bombings in London today reminded me how vulnerable we truly are, but more to the point, how appalling the behavior of one person to another can be. I look at the carnage, the twisted carcass of metal, and wonder, "how on earth could any human being do this to another human being?" It's a purely rhetorical question, because there's no answer out there that would satisfy me on any level.

The bombings certainly got the world's attention. Striking at London, that romantic and ancient city on the Thames, once the greatest city in western civilization, and the capital of an empire where the sun never sank below the horizon. It came on the day after the announcement London would host the 2012 Olympics, it came on the morning Tony Blair, that poor embattled prime minister, was going to chair some meetings at the G8. There's no question Al-Qaeda -- or this European version of it --has some sense of timing.

The bombings in London and elsewhere -- how can we forget this many people (40) and more die every day due to suicide bombings in Iraq? -- convince me that the 'war on terror' is not winnable. That's not pessimism, but reality. It's impossible to fight people who have no fear of death, who have no ethical bounds or conscience and who seem to have nothing better to do with their time than dream up increasingly innovative ways to kill the maximum number of people.

Somewhere along the line, we ticked someone off and these are the consequences. It doesn't matter if we go into Iraq and Afghanistan or Palestine and say, "We're here to help." It doesn't matter just how much purple ink you make available, how many jobs women can now hold, or that a country is no longer under the rule of despotic and cruel men. What matters is there are people out there who find it easier to hate and kill than to be productive and energetic to further themselves and their own in this world. The tragedy of that mindset has been clearly shown to all of us --from Bali to New York City, from London to Kashmir.

It never ends.

Link of the day: British reaction to the bombings

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Yoga yogi

I came into yoga class today and instead of the usual "hello," I got, "That was YOUR foot!" Lest you think this is the new way people greet each other in Sweat Sock City, let me back up seven days. At the last class I attended -- I go to yoga every Tuesday after work -- a photographer from Sweat Sock City Chronicle was there taking pictures for an article on the studio and its owner. He took our names, and then spent 45 minutes taking our pictures. I managed to tune him out most of the time, even when he was sitting RIGHT AT THE EDGE OF MY MAT, as I'd forgotten my hair band, and my hair was in my face about 85 percent of the time (see downward dog pose).

After he left, we kind of mused about what the pictures would look like, and was it really a good idea to give this guy permission to slap pictures of our sweaty selves all over a newspaper with a circulation of 3 million? Anyway, I had my uncle on Sweat Sock City Chronicle watch, as the photographer had told us there would be a pictoral spread to go with the story. My uncle never said anything about seeing the spread in the newspaper, so I assumed it hadn't run until I got to yoga today and was greeted with, "That was YOUR foot!"

Turns out, out of all the 80 gazillion pictures taken that day, pretty much the ONLY picture the newspaper published was my size 8 Wide un-pedicured foot. From the way my foot is angled in the picture, I assume it was Warrior One pose, which is an infinitely cooler pose than JUST MY FOOT. At least the photographer had the kindness to at least leave in a bit of my yoga pants (just the part covering my shin) and of course, my lime green yoga mat -- which is how the identification was actually made (that and I would have recognized my bony toes, complete with peeling pink nailpolish anywhere).

The worst thing is, the picture doesn't add anything to the story and it's so very boring, considering all the other photographs that could have run instead. No back bends, no Eagle pose, no Cobra -- just to name a few of the poses we did during the 45 minutes the photographer was there. I can't see how a picture of MY FOOT would inspire anyone to come to yoga class (most likely, it would scare people away -- "I'm not going to any class that has THAT FOOT enrolled!").

That being said, I couldn't find a picture of my foot on Sweat Sock City Chronicle's homepage, so if my uncle has saved the paper and I can find a scanner, maybe I'll post it here for you all to see. I mean, THREE MILLION PEOPLE have seen my disembodied foot; I totally would feel AWFUL if you guys couldn't share in my foot's grand debut in the newspaper.

p.s. Any Sweat Sock City residents reading this blog, if you have Sunday's Small Business edition, check there for The Foot (tm) and if possible, I'd like a copy, scanned, if you could please. Mucho gracias.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Shout out

I have SO much to talk about, starting from my reaction to W's speech (which I was going to post on Thursday evening if it hadn't been for my ISP's decision to suddenly CONSOLDIATE without telling anyone) and then my reaction to O'Connor's decision to retire (YIKES!), and then the All-American women's final at Wimbeldon which just completely rocked in every way and since I love underdog stories, it was SO much fun to watch two underdogs play some awesome, awesome tennis. Congrats to both Lindsey Davenport and Venus Williams for giving us a three-hour slug fest, three sets, with a 9-7 (Williams) score in the third set. Now that is how a championship should be played.

But mostly, I just want to know what's up with people STILL thinking all these year's that Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA is a patriotic song. Poor Bruce. He writes a song about a guy going to Vietnam and just having a hard time, but he sings the words SO incoherently, all anyone can understand are the lyrics 'Born in the USA'. The upbeat tune doesn't help either; if you can't understand anything but 'Born in the USA' set to an really rocking tune, then it's not so complicated to understand why Ronald Reagan used the song for campaigning purposes. But still, Local Radio Station (tm), knock it off your 'Patriotic Weekend' playlist.