Friday, June 30, 2006

Politics and blogs

Funny how it is that after I say I'm not going to discuss politics, I always do. But I thought I'd explain in a little more depth about why I don't spend that much time anymore reading liberal or conservative blogs and why I've been shying away, for the most part, from discussing issues in my blog.

The first is a question of time and information. I still read about 6 newspapers a day, but I'm not as well informed as I was even six months ago. It took me forever to figure why everyone was frothing at the mouth at the New York Times, and then I couldn't even muster up the enthusiasm to read the story in question (I got the gist of it from The News Hour on PBS).

The point is, I don't like to talk about things I know nothing about.

Second, bias is evident in liberal and conservative blogs and that annoys me. I don't need to read Daily Kos or Michelle Malkin to know what their spin is going to be. I already know, so why waste my time? There isn't going to be anything original, only spouting the same old same old that their fans and adherents require. I want to be surprised and convinced, and biased forums aren't the place to get an objective view point. I'm not interested in reading what the choir has to say ("Stop triangulating, Hillary! Iraq bad! Marriage for everyone!), and you can only read so many "Bush is good! Questioning the war is unpatriotic! Down with the NY Times!" before you have to wonder, "Do these people have anything else in their playlist?"

To get a clear idea of what's going on, I'd have to read more than six newspapers (and the six I read daily are all US based, and unfortunately, none are from the midwest). A friend of mine was recently talking about the kidnapped Israeli soldier and how there are aspects of the story the western media isn't covering. Which makes sense to me as most of us can't keep straight what's going on in our own towns, let alone untangle the varying details of complex disputes in another country entirely.

The point is, every story is missing some element. You'd have to read an Israeli newspaper to discover what's missing from the story. Then you'd have to read a Syrian paper to get what's missing from the Israeli story. And then something from the UK, perhaps the Financial Times, to get the European view. Eventually, you'd get the whole story, but who has time for all that? Who can keep it all straight in their mind? And for me, as a former journalist, I *need* and *require* all sides and points of view in a story before I feel comfortable putting an opinion down in writing. Once it's in this blog, it's out there, available for people to debate and object to, and I'd better know my stuff. Right now, I don't.

As such, most opinions I currently hold about the current state of the world are probably half-assed at best and I don't want to embarass myself in public. I could fix the inadequacies by reading political blogs, but I'm not interested in parroting the party line. It's that simple.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Wearing flip-flops may be damaging to your career.
The blogging credo

Some of you already know this or figured it out already, but in a nutshell, this blog:

* is pretty much a summation of what I'm thinking and feeling the minute I sit down at the computer and open up the blogger screen. There's not a lot of forethought or drafting that goes into the entries. The blog is about me, it's an extension of my personality, and what you see here on the screen is every bit me. Unfiltered, uncensored, and not always as well thought out as it ought to be.

* is unapologetically liberal. That being said, you're not going to find a whole lot of rants again the Bush administration and now that Tom DeLay, my whipping boy of choice, has been retired to Virginia where hopefully he can do no further damage, there probably won't be a lot of anti-Republican stuff here (Sorry, fellow liberals -- there are others out there who do it way better than I do). Oh, except for Ann Coulter. She's fair game because she's just... out there.

* doesn't have theme. I occasionally post links to new stories I find interesting, but there's not really a rhyme or reason to what I post except for the fact that I found them interesting. I've got the attention span of a gnat so one day you might find fannish links here and the next day it might all be political news stories. Again, not looking for anything in specific -- just the bright and shiny.

* is PG-13. You won't find any bad language here, and I only put a PG-13 rating on it because I'm liberal and on rare occasions, I will voice my support for things like gay marriage (or civil unions) or abortion rights. I'm pretty sure I have other unacceptable opinions, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind that any discussion of could possibly ruin children for life. Parents be warned.

* does not discuss work. Yes, I'm that paranoid and you won't find any stories about my current place of employment in this blog. Past places of employment, namely Very Big Insurance Company and Very Big Publishing Company, on the other hand, are fair game. I will leave it at yes, I'm employed.

* All RL people mentioned in this blog know they're fodder for me and most honestly don't care. I asked one friend recently if she ever thought about that when we went out, that there was a good chance I could go home and blog our conversations. She said no. Me, if I knew I had a good chance of starring in a blog, I'd totally be scintillating and witty every single moment of the outing in hopes of a few minutes of pixelated online glory.

* Talk to me and I'll respond. Within reason. Death threats, spam, stupid comments -- I reserve the right not to respond to those.

* and yes, those pop culture entries are days when I really, really can't think of anything blog about. It happens. And yes number 2: I do 'can' entries for later use. Please forgive me. Sometimes I need a vacation from the interwebs. Scary, but true.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I took a few days off from the interwebs. No, I wasn't doing anything particularly interesting or time consuming; I just didn't log on. Which is very weird, because as most of you know, I don't have access to email or blogger etc., at work, so if I don't log on at home, I simply don't see the emails. There was a time when I was totally obssessive about checking email. And now I realize, I went from Sunday to Wednesday, with a COMPUTER RIGHT THERE, and I never turned it on.

Don't ask me what I was doing instead of blogging at you guys though. I haven't a clue.

In other news, TWO separate people in the space of ONE hour used the term "fussball" on me. Context told me they were talking about soccer so I'm guessing "fussball" means soccer in German. Because yeah, there's this thing called the World Cup going on.

The last time the World Cup was on (I say it like it's a television show and not this major international event played in stadiums around the world or somewhere -- I don't really know how this World Cup thing works), I was in France (check archive entries from May of 2002 to July of 2002, for those of you who missed my trip and are curious. Or not) and World Cup fever was sweeping the nation. We got into a little bit and we'd often check in with the locals to find out how the US was doing. The US actually did well back in 2002. This year, they fell to Ghana. No, I don't remember who they lost to in 2002.

I haven't been paying attention to soccer because I've been watching and DESPAIRING as the home team does its absolute darndest to NEVER win a single game. I mean, seriously. I've never seen a team so skillfully and elegantly snatch defeat from the jaws of victory EVERY SINGLE FREAKING TIME. Saturday, I was watching, and I was ready to go do something productive like mop the floors (ha!) because the home team was doing so well -- leading 5 to 1 -- and I thought, they're gonna win. Ha! That's when the bullpen came to the rescue, because heaven forbid if the other team can't hit the ball until seven innings in. And if that wasn't bad enough, they fell badly to another team, after being ahead, and then losing something like 100 to 2. And then there was that home game I attended where the not!home team scored 8 runs in the first inning and a half. Needless to say, the pitcher -- poor kid, but REALLY! -- was relieved halfway through the second inning. I hate to say it, but the home team is breaking my heart.

My brother suggests switching to soccer. At least then, the heartbreak comes around every four years, and not five days a week for six months of the year.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Stranger than fiction

Most of fandom has been gripped by the unauthorized biography of Msscribe, even those of us who know nothing of the people involved. It's just a crazy, crazy story, but meticulously researched and well-written about events that happened years ago. I was struck by the investigate quality (which reminds me very of my awe with "The Smartest Guys in the Room" -- which I highly recommend for anyone wanting to know what really happened with Enron), but at the same time, the story illuminates that true aspect of human nature that all of us feel, but none of us really want to admit feeling: the need and desire to be liked, to be part of a group, to be loved, admired, and respected. Most of us wouldn't go as far in that respect as Msscribe did, especially not with something so life unaltering as fandom (okay, some people may very well disagree with me on that fact).

I am fascinated by the story from a purely social anthropological view. Fandom is one of those places where you find instant community, a refuge from the trials and tribulations of the real world, where you can pretend for a while that RL isn't happening around you, but mostly it's the place to go to get instant adulation and adoration. You can make friends and some of these friendships actually have legs and are not fleeting. You post stories, and whoa, someone writes to you almost instaneously. Who wouldn't feel good about that kind of thing? Who wouldn't want to be a part of that? And who wouldn't want to take the average 3 to 5 pieces of feedback per story and turn into something amazing -- y'know, to be that author, no matter what s/he writes, gets 1,000 pieces of feedback?

I'm not saying that msscribe did was right, because hurting people to the extent that she did over something as trivial (to the non-fannish world) like sitting at the fannish table with the cool kids is twisted on so many levels. But the story is fascinating because it does illuminate psychology and in a way, makes me rather uncomfortable. I'd like to say I'm in fandom for the fic, for the experience of writing, but that's not entirely true. While I might say publicly and often that I write because I want to write, I'm also lying to myself. But while I admit to the desire, I also admit to wanting the feedback and friendship and awards to be genuine.

But I think the impulse and desire to belong is so incredibly strong that it's hard to push back those feelings of insecurity, especially when there's a blatant hierarchy, when you can see where people are succeeding when you are not, and you wonder, "What do they have that *I* don't?" There's a certain amount of patience required to succeed at pretty much anything you attempt in life, whether it's professional or personal or fannish, but time and time again, we see people do stupid things to get themselves ahead, at least temporarily. That's what happened at Enron, when temporarily beautiful financial 'fixes' elevated the company in a way that made it prettier, brighter, and more shiny than anyone else on Louisiana Street (not, btw, that I'm equating fandom with the debacle that was Enron, since Enron ruined lives in ways that cannot be quantified).

So is it better to succeed wildly and beyond expections on a fleeting and false basis, or is it better to toll steadily in obscurity, hoping one day, one day you'll get ahead and be able to claim what everyone who arrived before you already has? The good thing about the latter is that if you never attain it, you don't miss having it. But dang, it'd sure be nice to experience that high.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Take me out to the ballgame

I voted for the AL and NL All-Star Game. ::headdesk:: I apologize to everyone in the league that is not mine (ours?), as I have no idea who is cool on the Yankees, or White Sox (well, boo to the White Sox, actually. Boo boo boo!). So I did some kind of random picking thing until I got to the AL and then of course, I voted completely for our boys, including my favorite -- number 11. I didn't, however, vote 25 times as we're allowed too. Voting once, I think, is crossing the line enough.

On our way back from the game Thursday evening, The Fainter and I were discussing -- as we're likely to do -- the idea of 'clickage', or specifically the phenomena when a happily married someone says something along the lines of, "Oh I knew s/he was the one the moment I met her/him."

Over the years, I've always wondered about the how. I've been out on dates and for the first few, there's this glimmer of hope, and then I'm forced to concede that while all looks good and well on paper, while all the evidence points to the fact I should like this person more than I do, I... don't.

I speculated to The Fainter that maybe the "I knew" comment comes of the hope we all have when we're meeting someone for the first time, no matter how many someones we're meeting for the first time. In that first 30 seconds during the greetings exchange, that's when you envision an entire life with this person, the fact you're going to tra-la-la happily off into Neverland, and finally, finally you can get off the dating Mercedes-Benz. Of course, that's all before you realize the person sitting across the table from you is crazy/mama's boy/boring/fill-in adjective of your choice.

But at least you had the thought when you first met, and that's what makes the "I knew" statement years on down the road so deliciously romantic -- that the initial spark of hope can and does become something greater and worth waiting for.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Of interest to Kizmet and possibly to others as well: AT&T rewrites rules: Your data isn't yours

Also, here's an interesting one of the war over the cervical cancer vaccine: Defusing the war over the 'promiscuity' vaccine.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

If I have to tell you one more time...

Here's an article on how difficult it is to cancel an AOL account. I had a heck of a time getting rid of mine a few years ago, and even had the rep tell me that I would no longer be able to use the AIM handle I'd been using for years once I cancelled the account; that turned out to not be the case. Also, AOL billed me after I cancelled the account. They waived the bill after they realized I hadn't used the account in over a month.

And on a semantic note, here's an interesting language blog.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

This DSL coil

I got my renewal DSL letter from AT&T the other day, offering me the option of renewing my same package without a contract at $34.99/month, up from $14.99/month, or if I was eligible, twice-as-fast package for $17.99/month. Yeah, I don't get it either. Anyway, I'm not eligible for the twice-as-fast package for $17.99, which leaves me contract-frei come August, though with a $20 bigger chunk of change leaving my wallet every month.

Now the thing is, I can afford the extra $20/month -- that's just one less dinner out a month; no biggie since I've cut way back on eating out anyway. But it's the value of the deal I'm missing and that's what gets me. I mean, there are new subscribers out there who are paying $12.99/month for the same package that I'm currently paying $14.99/month for. There are people out there who will be paying HALF of what I'll be paying come August for a better quality, faster product.

It's easy to justify an extra $3 in price when you know you're getting something that's twice as good as what you have for the price of a coffee and biscotti. However, it's not easy to come to terms with a price increase of more than 230 percent for no discernable value-added benefit? For people to agree to a price increase, you have to be able to put forth a strong case as to why; putting in the same letter that some people may be eligible for a lower price on a swifter product is not the way to win and influence customers into staying. Bad AT&T, no biscuit for you!

Why should I pay more for less? Would you? I mean, SERIOUSLY. Does AT&T think we're all on crack when it comes to this kind of thing? specially when there are other kids in town who may be offering something better. I'm not sure whether AT&T is just really cocky and thinks people love their service SO MUCH that they just won't dream of switching, or that consumers are too lazy to check their options, do the math and realize there are cheaper options out there.

I called Earthlink, the other major provider of DSL in my area. They're offering a DSL package for $12.95/month for the first six months and $29.95/month for the next six months. That's a savings of $160 over staying with Yahoo. And the rep also told me they'd waive the equipment and activation fees if I signed up. What's there to lose?

I do plan to call AT&T and let them know, because the whole deal makes no sense to me. As a consumer, it's irritating because it's kind of like of seats on an airplane. You know the person sitting next to you might have paid twice the price of your ticket or half the price of your ticket, but since you don't know for sure and you don't know how much exactly, and there are so many other variables -- you win some, you lose some -- you can't put much stock into it. But AT&T isn't bothering to even hide the ugly truth.

My ultimate goal is to stay with AT&T -- because on this point, AT&T is probably correct: I *am* lazy and don't want to switch -- and either keep the $14.99 rate or if I'm really lucky, get the $12.99 rate. I'd even take the $17.99 rate. But the $160 a year I'd save with Earthlink is a significant chunk of change. That's 80 kolaches at the Kolache Factory, 40 mocha lattes at Starbucks, 20 dinners out, 10 t-shirts at Ann Tyler or a plane ticket to Florida. If AT&T isn't willing to deal, then my option is clear cut. I go to Earthlink. Of course, I might run into a couple of days of no Internet access come August (wah!), but I can be strong. Indeed I can.

Here's an article about 11 cousins who gave up their stomachs after learning they carried a gene that causes stomach cancer.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Writing descriptors

Like the word 'said', writers are constantly looking for ways to describe their characters aside from the usual fallback of pronouns and the characters' name. Occupations, hair coloring and relationships are the usual culprits. For instance: "The blond ran down the hall" or "The plumber pulled up his pants" and "His girlfriend pouted." All of these are fine, like everything else, in moderation, and it goes without saying using these kinds of descriptors is the anvil equivalent of 'telling, not showing'.

Descriptions of 'the red head' or the 'blond' are, mho, the worst of the three types of descriptors. Hair color is very rarely an element of plot or character development and is one of the easiest ways to describe a character's appearance; hence, constant mentioning gets annoying because it adds little, if anything, to the actual story.

Repeated use of the descriptors also runs the risk of reducing a character to that one phrase: The blond, the girlfriend, the plumber. These are all characteristics of the characters -- they are not *the* characters -- and indeed, these should not be the only elements of the characters we're told about (or rather, shown).

Thursday, June 15, 2006


While leaving the gym:

Boy: Don't be mad at me.
Girl: I am.
Boy: I saved your life.
Girl: But you said things that hurt my feelings.

I am dying to know a) what he did to save her life and b) what he said that was so bad that the act of saving her life was completely invalidated. Suggestions are welcome.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Up above the clouds

Mt. Everest has been in the news a lot lately. This morning the "Today" show interviewed the American who rescued Lincoln Hall, who amazingly survived a night out in the open, just a couple hours from the summit. You can read about it here. Also, another climb disputes that he left David Sharp to die on the mountain. You can read about that story here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Orange clouds raining in my head

Reading: The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
Watching: Le Divorce
Listening:Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos

Nothing more heart-stopping than having passed the 10,000-word mark on a story and then accidentally hit CTRL-X, right after hitting CTRL-A. Thank God for the undo button.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thar she blows

The first tropical depression of the season.

The Tupperware problem


egg splat 001
Tupperware, anyone?
Easy on the taste buds

My new favorite treat is roasted red peppers and while you can buy them in a jar, I find it pretty easy and cheaper to just roast them myself -- especially when you have a fabulous sale like we did last week where red peppers were 2 for $1, rather than the usual 1 for $1 (green peppers were the usual 3 for $1).

To roast red peppers, I cut them in half, remove the seeds and stems from the inside, and usually wash them again just to make sure there's nothing clinging to them. Removing any stickers is also extremely advisable. I put the red peppers on a cookie sheet, cut side down, and put them in the oven, set on broil. I usually wait until that familiar scorched scent fills my kitchen and dining room before I check on them. The more charred the skin the better, I say, and all of y'all know, if there's one thing I do great in the kitchen, it's burning things.

Once the skins of the peppers are completely blackened, I remove them, and then using tongs, drop them into a plastic bag -- I usually use the same one they came in from the grocery store -- and then I tie off the bag and let the peppers sit for as long as 30 to 40 minutes. Once the peppers are cool to the touch, I peel off the charred skin -- it usually comes off pretty easiy - and then occasionally, I give it one more light rinse to remove any remaining ash. Chop up the peppers, and voila, you have a very tasty treat for sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and salads.

Today's link of the day is provided by Lori: a cooking blog called Chocolate & Zucchini.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This time with feeling

Best. Bookism. Ever.


"I was just saying," he interposed.

I'm so not making this up. You can find this example and other worthy ones in Richard North Patterson's Balance of Power.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Captains blog too, y'know

Jean-Luc Picard has a blog over here. I read the first entry and that was as far as I got before my "Canon Alert! Comma Alert! Character Alert!" klaxons went off. But all of that is understandable when you consider what various 'fleet members have to go through, day by day, while on the job, and with very little outlet for their various pent-up emotions. I'm glad JLP is blogging. Even Starfleet captains need somewhere (Sorry, Deanna) to air their feelings "after another hard day commanding the Enterprise."

When I first moved into my dorm more than 10 years ago, I knew three things about my living arrangement: first, and foremost, I knew my roommate because we'd chosen to live together when we met at orientation, second, we were living in the honors dorm, and third, it was a coed dorm. The last was one of those theoretical pieces of knowledge, the thing that kind of buzzes by you when you're in the thrall of picking out new sheets for the extra long beds and discussing who's bringing the television/stereo/refrigerator.

So when we moved in that first day, we (and mostly our parents) were horrified to find out that our room, at the very end of the hall, was surrounding by guys. Guys across the hall, guys diagonally across the hall, guys next door. The guy across the hall was watching the US Open finals, and I was immediately drawn to the match, but my mom said, "No! Don't go in there! Don't ever go in there!"

Out of the ten rooms on our floor, only four -- including ours -- were girls. Over the course of the year, we -- guys and girls both -- got to know each other, overcoming our mutual fears of the opposite gender, and become very good friends. We got along so well that most of us never left that floor and finished all four years of college in the same dorm rooms we moved into as freshmen. I'm still good friends with most of the people I lived with that first year in college.

The guy across the hall, the tennis watching guy, turned out to be one of my closest friends in college, and he's the one who got me into journalism, and has made quite a name for himself in newspapers these days, including an appearance on the Today show a couple months ago. The guy next door, well, starting our sophomore year and to the day we graduated, we ate breakfast together every Saturday and Sunday. It was our thing, mostly because no one else would be up early enough to go with us. Today, he's a successful consultant in the DC area. And finally, the guy diagonally across the hall, I don't know where he is today, but he still makes me smile when I think about him.

We'll call him Doug and Doug was... well, he wasn't the LL Bean or J.Crew wearing type like the rest of us. Doug wore skirts. Regularly. When we asked him why, he just shrugged and said they were comfortable and didn't chafe like pants did. The skirt-wearing wasn't the only thing odd about Doug, but it was the most obvious one that people commented on. The skirt thing wore off pretty quickly because we were more fascinated by another aspect of Doug's appearance that to this day still remains unexplained.

During our first semester junior year, a freshman moved into Doug's room. Two weeks in, he passed out meeting notices for the Young Republicans club -- that we had such an organization at the East Coast's answer to Berkeley was a surprise to all of us -- and said, very politely, "I would love it if you could make it." He was so sweet that none of us -- almost none of us -- had the heart to tell him as a group, we were probably the Young Republicans' worst nightmare: pro-choice, anti-gun Clinton voters. The quality of the food in the dining commons was possibly the only thing that could arouse any kind of passionate political response in us. When it came to taking a stand against watery eggs, acidic melons, and undercooked bacon, we were *so* on-board. Protesting the new GLBT dorm on campus came a very distant last place to any of a million other concerns we had going on.

"Someone's got to tell him the truth," my friend the journalist said, staring at the flyer in his hand.

"But he's so sweet," Florida Girl said. I frowned at her. Of course she would call him sweet; she didn't have to listen to "I Saw the Sign" and "All That She Wants" 80 gazillion times a day. In the end, we all politely declined, but the invitations didn't stop coming, but somehow, we were always too busy to attend the meeting.

The kid discovered the truth about his doormmates accidentally. It was an unusually warm day for October, and most of us had ditched the turtle-necks for t-shirts. Then out comes Doug wearing his three-tiered paisley skirt in red and orange, complete with a little bell on the drawstring. The kid's eyes bugged, his mouth opened, but no sounds came out. Doug walked down the hall, past all of us. When Doug turned the corner, the kid slinked up to us and said, "Did you see what I saw?" And my friend, now the consultant in DC, said, "You noticed Doug only has one sideburn too?"

At the conclusion of the semester, the kid moved out, never to be seen by any of us again.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

From today's Opinion Chat on the Washington Post:

Arlington, Va.: Somewhere there's a gay immigrant sneaking across the border while burning the American flag and singing the National Anthem in Spanish who is totally having the worst day of his life. Osama bin who?

Every time I read that quote, it totally cracks me up. It almost makes up for the bad taste in my mouth left from Ann Coulter's appearance on the Today show this morning.

While I don't want to pay too much attention to the woman (because she's quite frankly scary, and if Today wants a conservative viewpoint, what's wrong with Laura Ingrahm or Mary Matalin? At the very least, they are logical, rational and intelligent women with good solid facts backing up their argument), her comment about 9/11 widows was completely and totally awful. But the scary part is, there are people who will actually agree with her, despite the fact she is completely vapid and cannot seem to offer a coherent, logical or intelligent opinion about anything. Honestly, if I hadn't been so disgusted with her comments, I would have been embarassed for her since she was clearly out of her element.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Odds and ends

Last night in chat, we were discussing a long-ago Newsweek article that said single women 40 and over had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than getting married. Lori (one of last night's chatters) pointed me to this blog entry on the Newsweek article, which is infinitely more intellectual than anything we were discussing last night.

And in light of George W. Bush's sudden, albeit politically motivated, interest in the Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, I thought I'd point people in the directoinn of Stephanie Coontz's book, Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. It's eye-opening in so many ways and before anyone goes on about Donna Reed and "My Three Sons" being the cornerstone of American society, this is a must-read.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I just signed up for online banking. Completely freaks me out. Like, I know that I'm so 1999 when it comes to this stuff, but there's a certain amount of comfort (and annoyance) that comes out writing checks, stuffing them into envelopes, slapping on a stamp, and dropping them in a mailbox. That's conventional, that's security, AND it's supporting the USPS. But cheapness wins out every time and the bank is offering this for free AND offering a rebate if I pay 3 people through online bill-pay. How about that, money for nothing?* There's nothing I like better than a good and even profitable deal.

*But the bank can keep the chicks, free or otherwise.
The end of times?

The 'significance' of this coming Tuesday.

If you're planning to see the X-Men movie and haven't already done so, you need to stay until the very, very end of the credits for the 'easter egg' scene.
Said bookisms

In recent days, I've come to realize not all said bookisms (or, alternatively, saidisms) are made equal and some are worse offenders than others. Saidisms like 'request' or 'asked' or 'observed' are so much more easy to slip by the reader than $10 words like 'extrapolated', 'expositioned', 'caterwauled', and 'ejaculated' (the last one is particularly tiresome and unfortunate). I'm not particularly fond of 'rejoined' either. That being said, it's still not a good idea to use them; even once a page can be jarring. Plus, most of the time, using a word other than said is redundant when combined with the actual line of dialogue. To wit:

"I'm sorry," she apologized.

"I would like five tickets to the play," he requested.

"The grass is green and the sky is blue," she observed.

"How about we get married?" he proposed.

"I'll be home for dinner," she promised.

"I'm so sad," he wept.

"Don't take my diary!" she caterwauled.

You get the point. It's clunky writing, can often sound silly, and in the above examples, can fall victim to the 'tell not show' pothole. The characters' dialogue, for the most part, should state exactly what's going on in their heads at that moment and what their next action will be. There's no need to back it up almost immediately with a 'saidism'.

Here's a more in-depth article on the evils of 'said bookisms'.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Boss lady

In my short career, I've had six bosses. The one I remember (other than the infamous Ossbay) and admire the most was boss #2. What I liked about her was no matter what, she had a sense of urgency when it came to dealing with her employees. If you walked into her office, no matter how simple the request, she immediately put everything aside and gave you 100 percent. And then she took action right then and there. You needed something from executive? She picked up the phone and called. You wanted authorization for a significant capital expenditure, done. The phones could ring, email could come in, but at that moment, she made you feel like you were the most important issue she had to deal with.

I try to do the same thing in my work life. It's not always easy because you're being pulled in 80 gazillion different directions with conflicting priorities. But I do want people to think when they're standing/sitting in my office that my attention is completely focused on them, that I'm not thinking about anything or anyone else except for them. I'll even shut the door -- despite the open door policy -- if I need to (or rather, if they need it shut). I also like immediacy of getting things done when the person is right in front of me; that way I can be assured that I've done what they need me to do so they can get on with their job. Boss number 2 often told us that she never wanted to be in the way of progress and I like to think that I work the same way. Some days, the most important thing I do is getting out of someone else's way.