Thursday, November 30, 2006

the sky is falling

South Africa becomes the fifth country to legalize gay marriage. I didn't see that one coming and I was very surprised to see Spain among those that have legalized gay marriage as well. Canada, Belgium and the Netherlands are no surprise, but SPAIN? Maybe there is hope that a segment of the US population will finally wake up and realize they are treating their fellow Americans as second-class citizens. It ties my brain in knots just to figure out how on earth the marriage of two same sex people can in any way be detrimental to me or anyone I know. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you can't blame the death of the institution of marriage on people who legally cannot get married.

So way to go, South Africa! Ten years ago, you were persona non grata at the international dining table and now, you, the country with the least equality in the world, are showing the world, including countries that declared more than 200 years ago that "all men are created equal" just how far you've come to treat everyone fairly.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I guess that's why they call them the blues

Today at the gym, I was reading Glamour magazine while biking to the sonorous tones of Katie Couric in Amman. I was thumbing through the magazine filled with things I'm not really interested in such as designer purses and make-up and thinking, "I really want to give these models a sandwich" when I saw an article about 'dating down'. Estatic over an article that wouldn't require an investment of money or time spent in the bathroom painting my face when I could be sleeping, I started reading.

Conventional wisdom suggests 'dating down' is going for someone who isn't on the same level as you -- educationally, professional, whatever -- but the article (written by a guy!) suggests that 'dating down' means you're with someone who isn't treating you the way you deserve to be treated. 'Dating down' means you're settling for someone who doesn't really see you or understand what you need. I thought that that was a pretty cool idea. I mean, how many times do we make a list of criteria, hold it up to a person and say, "Check, check, check," and overlook the fact that they have a completely lousy personality and treat you like crap? Maybe basic humanity and consideration ought to be the only check box needed. Life's too short to 'date down'.

I really need to read Glamour more.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Once upon a fantasy

A friend and I were discussing recently just how much easier our love lives would be if we were in a Bollywood movie. For one thing, we'd have beautiful and colorful clothes that we could change into at a moment's notice* and regardless of wind, snow or humidity, we'd have shampoo-comercial quality hair ALL THE TIME. We'd be able to declare sing poetically of our love for each other in sonorous voices during spontaneous trips to really exotic places. But most of all, in Bollywood, true love is held in deep respect by the parties involved and if you don't hear from the object of your affections, it's probably because he's been languishing in jail for 22 years to protect your honor. There are always complications and obstacles on the path to true love in Bollywood, but nothing that cannot be danced through resolved in three hours. In real life, we all come to our senses sooner or later, but it's never as pretty as Bollywood, and the happy endings are never quite so guaranteed.

*My all time favorite Bollywood music video.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Good eatin'

Don't remember if I posted this recipe here before, but I just finished whipping up a batch for about 50 people, and thought, "Hmmm, maybe I should blog it..." In other words, I'm devoid of any other content, thanks to a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch. And to give credit where credit is due, this is from Jeanne Lemlin's "Simple Vegetarian Pleasures", which I highly recommend.

Mediterranean Rice Salad

Serves 4 as main course

2 1/2 - 3 cups cooked white rice
1 (16 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed well and drained
3/4 cup finely diced feta cheese
2/3 cup diced roasted red peppers
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 tsps dried
3 scallions, thinly sliced

The Dressing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic gloves
black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

1. Combine the rice, chickpease, feta cheese, peppers, parsley, dill and scallions in a large bowl and toss well

2. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Pour the dressing on the rice mixture and mix thoroughly. Let sit at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours before serving. Serve at room temperature.


Hope you all had a good holiday!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gobble gobble

Just wanted to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you are taking to the friendly skies or roadtripping it.

I think my friend was messing with me when he sent me a link to a Dickensian version of the Christmas Shoes video in an attempt to cheer me up. Well, gee, thanks, now I'm completely and thoroughly depressed. And because misery loves company and it's the season of sharing and giving and giving and sharing, I share and give this video to you. With love, of course.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Memory lane

Probably only of interest to the Trek fanficcers out there -- readers and writers both -- a rec thread on TrekBBS more than a year ago. Some good recommendations in there, among, um, other things.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


"Do you know how hard it is to put pantyhose on a dead woman?"

Friday, November 17, 2006

Christmas shoes!

And it's not even December yet! I swear to God, Christmas is earlier every year. There used to be a sacred line one did not cross until the Friday after Thanksgiving. That's when the wreaths and lights went up and the shopping for the tree commenced. Christmas carols before Thanksgiving was unheard of. And yet, this year, the department stores started putting out their red and gold finery before Halloween and horrors of horrors, today I heard the dreaded "Christmas Shoes" on the radio.

And after years of ranting about "Christmas Shoes", I have a confession to make, and you have to forgive me, excuse me, because I was weak, and I had just come from the gym and you know what it's like when your stomach is imploding in on itself because it's starving and your muscles are all tingly because you've beaten them into submission. You know this feeling, you know it makes you weak, and the fact is, I FELL for the stupid carol. So there I am, driving along my beautiful tree-covered street and feeling this unfamiliar lump forming in my throat, this dryness in my throat, and just maybe, just maybe, my contact lenses are feeling a little moist.

I changed the radio station after a minute or two, but I'm quite haunted by this experience, mystified even. It's kind of like those "Little House on the Prairie" eps that are so over the top that they've landed on the other side and yet you still cry. You still cry because it's like this escalation that grabs you by the heart strings and just won't let go even though you have every right in the world to protest because your emotions are dragged through the wringer for no earthly good reason. I'm still a firm believer that there are certain things that are easy to 'feel' and people -- songwriters, poets, writers -- fall back on those crutches every single time because let's face it, who isn't going to be moved somewhat by the image of a poor little child trying to do right by his momma on her (potentially) last Christmas on earth?

I might have fallen for it this time, but I see through you, "Christmas Shoes" and your treacly maudlin story. You got me this once, but never again, because in the end Lori summed up the carol the best: "Ewww..."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Back in ye olde ice age...

Okay, so maybe not so far back, about 30,000 years, give or take a thousand, how about that? Anyway, I have a soft spot for Neanderthals as I feel they are highly misunderstood and get a bum rap, despite the fact they were probably a lot more civilized, cultured and caring than we ever give them credit for. So I'm always excited when there are new developments in Neanderthal research and here's the latest. Still no word on whether humans of the homo sapien variety and Neanderthals ever cross-bred, but apparently our DNAs are pretty similar to each other. Pretty cool.
All I want for Christmas...*

Microwave egg boiler! Thanks, Jemima, for the head's up!

* For newcomers to the blog, here's why this is the best possible gift for me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Lost in translation

I've been listening to Sarah McLachlan's* CD, "Afterglow," pretty much every day in the car, mostly because I can't stand morning radio which is really a contest on just how RAUNCHY you can be before 8 am. Anyway, I've been listening to the CD and in particular, two songs -- number 5 and 8. Number five is my favorite, though I 'feel' number eight more closely (and no, I don't know their actual names, well, not number 8's anyway).

Anyway, the other day, I was humming along with number five to the refrain which I thought went something like this: "I'm a dreamer, waiting to happen, waiting for someone to come wake me out of my trance..." And I thought, how cool. How very very cool, this idea of a dreamer waiting to happen, it's just filled with possibilities. It's John Lennon's world just a nudge away from bursting into a reality of blue skies, hills scattered with daisies, all in a world where the lions kiss the hares good night. And the more I thought about those lyrics, the more I loved them, and the more I listened. Number 8 soon was relegated to a one-time spin on the CD player, while number 5 got to go around at least twice, if not being charmed into a third time.

Well, the other day I actually went and looked up the lyrics to number 5, which I now know is called "Trainwreck." The actual lyrics are: "Cause I'm a train wreck waiting to happen, waiting for someone to come pick me up off the tracks."


I miss my adorably deluded Sleeping Beauty bursting with hope and anticipation. Fairy tales don't usually have imagery that quite possibly end in a pile of blood and bones because in the end, when the sun is low in the sky, Prince Charming always rides up on his magnificent steed to save the day**.

I'm scared to find out what the real lyrics are to number 8. I think for now, the title and lyrics are going to remain a mystery to me. Sometimes, it's better not to know.

* Also known as 'she who launched a thousand songfics'.
** One of these days, the princess is going to save the day. You just wait and see.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

My heart is drenched in wine

I've been thinking a lot about feelings, or specifically the way you feel when someone treats you a certain way. I think sometimes there's a disconnect between the way someone thinks they're treating you and the way you feel. For a long time, I used to push those feelings away, like if I felt hurt or marginalized, that it didn't matter and that I was just being judgmental and difficult.

Now I realize that feelings are feelings; you feel a certain way (good or bad) because of something someone did to you or said to you and it's not a multiple choice test -- there's no 'wrong' or 'right' feeling. People say and act certain ways, whether consciously or not, to send you a signal of some kind. Sometimes, they aren't even aware of what they're doing, but the end result is the same -- you feel *something*. There's a saying: "People might forget what you said or did, but they'll never forget how they made you feel."

There are a couple of situations in my RL right now that I'm not feeling so good about. The people involved might think they are doing/have done the right thing, but their motivations don't change the way their actions made me feel (even if I could rationalize it and believe me, I've been much effort into trying). In one case, I'm actively working at trying to change my situation for the better because I do have some element of control and I do know things could be worse. Much worse.

The other situation, I have nothing except for the residual feeling and as much as I don't want to, I know I need to walk away and not look back. This will be my third clean break this year, and that makes me incredibly sad (and at least question my ability to judge people). But at least I'm getting smarter and recognizing that I deserve to be treated in a certain way and am not willing to put up with less.

By now, you should know by that I really, really, really love the Daily Show and it's primarily because of segments like this. Bye, bye, bye, Donny! Move fast or the door's gonna hit you on the way out.*

* Yes, I know I'm late with the clip, but not figuring out how to get the show to play on Comedy Central, I have to wait until they show up on YouTube. And really, Jon Stewart is always funny, except for maybe when he's hosting the Oscars. But still. Watch.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day

Dan Froomkin over at the Washington Post posted an excerpt from a new anthology called "Operation Homecoming" over here and I was touched by the soldier's point of view. This essay was written by Sgt. Sharon D. Allen. Note: profanity alert, but I think it's necessary, and I think it's worth reading.

"Everyone says they are supporting us, but sometimes it seems that civilians have no idea about who soldiers really are. This, too, we all agreed on, that people back home have no concept of what troops go through. We're not robotic killing machines. We're regular Americans, just doing our jobs. This war has really tapped the National Guard, so the average soldier out here could be your mechanic or your plumber. Maybe your dentist. Or the girl at the cash register. I think we're all pretty proud of what we do, and, at heart, we're all patriotic. But we're not brainwashed, and we have differing opinions."

Thank you to our men and women in uniform for all you've done and for all you do.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Hilarious. Panera Bread thinks a burrito is a sandwich. Uh... no.

"Tomorrow, you’re all going to wake up in a brave new world, where the constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones created in a stem-cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags, where tax-and-spend Democrats take all your hard-earned money and use it to buy electric cars for National Public Radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants. And everybody’s high!"

-- Colbert Report

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Night, lift up the shades

For those of you who don't know, I went to Europe alone this past October. I went alone because I really wanted a vacation and because there was something I needed to know, I couldn't wait until a friend was available to go with me. I did a lot of research ahead of time and I've been to Europe many times so I had no problem in terms of knowing how I'd get around and what it'd be like there. What I was uncompletely unprepared for was the kindess of strangers.

I met a lot of wonderful people while I was in Germany and Czech Republic. I remember people telling me before I went that they were afraid that I would get hurt -- not physically, but emotionally -- and that there would be no one to help me when/if that happened. After all, here at home where it's safe, I have an extensive support system and wonderful friends and family who would drop pretty much everything to give me a hand and a shoulder when/if I needed it. Over there, I'd be alone.

I won't lie and say that emotionally, it was all wine and roses. I had one bad day when honestly, I had no idea whether I was coming or going and whether I had made a horrible mistake in flying overseas in the first place. I was on a tram in Prague, it was dark, no one spoke English, and I was completely lost. That morning, I'd left Berlin and felt completely lost and emotional because I was in a train station by myself and feeling like a fool. And I did what I always do when I feel out of control: I cried.

Two bathroom attendants who don't speak English comforted me. They were so sweet and they didn't even take the full 80 cents from me (the charge to use the bathroom). They were just the first of many wonderful people I met. On the train to Prague, I shared a compartment with five women who were on their way to Dresden for vacation. They offered me some of their baked goods; I declined because I wasn't hungry, but I thought it was sweet. After Dresden, two Germans and an Austrian entered the compartment, and we had a nice conversation for the rest of the way. When I arrived in Prague, it was 4:30 in the afternoon. I got on the tram as directed and then I was lost.

I kept riding the tram with a wary eye towards the darkening sky. I asked someone if I was going the right way and he said no, I needed to get off and go the other way. So I did. And I realized that this too was not correct. So I asked another woman and she said I needed to get off at the next stop, take another tram to another stop and then walk to my hotel. She was sweet enough to get off with me at a stop a couple past her own and walk me to the platform before taking off. However, her directions didn't make sense to me. Finally, I just got a taxi and after some hijinks there, I got to my hotel a little after 7 pm in the evening.

In my vacation memory, this weepy, stressful Friday doesn't exist.

Saturday morning, I met a wonderful Indian family with a 21-month old daughter. They invited me to spend the day with them, even inviting me back to their rental apartment for dinner. They then walked me back to my hotel. It was a really nice day. The next day, I went on a guided tour and spent most of my time with a British couple who were just as into pashmina shopping as I was. On Monday, I met a Slovenian woman who was also alone and we ended up spending the day together. We had tea with an Irish mother and daughter and then lunch with a Bosnian woman. All in all, it was a very nice, international experience. And the best part of it is, the next time I visit Eastern Europe, I already have friends and places to stay.

So if anyone is planning to go on vacation and is scared to go alone, I say, go for it. I say go for it and have a good time. You're your own boss, you can make your own schedule, and you can do what you like. And what I discovered during my time in Prague, I was never alone. I met amazing people who were happy and generous to spend their time with me. If I had gone with friends, as I always do, I would have never met these people, and I would have been the poorer for it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Woo hooo!

Can I just say how wonderful it was to wake up this morning and know that we were no longer under one party rule? And then this late Diwali/early Christmas continued with the resignation of Rumsfeld (six years too late, but whatever). And Nancy Pelosi as the first female speaker is just the cherry on top of a very satisfying sundae.

ETA: This day keeps getting better. Democrats take the Senate.

Dems, don't mess this up for us, okay?
Confidential Aside

Robby, I tried to email you back twice at your work address, but it bounced. I'm not ignoring you, honest! I'll try to call you this weekend or email me from another address that will work. Mucho gracias.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day

Vote! And remember, the status quo is what got us into this mess in the first place. Saying the same thing over and over again isn't a plan. Staying the course isn't a plan. Unwillingness to change, listen or readjust according to new information isn't leadership.

Fifty-one percent of the country got it wrong (I'm sorry) in 2004. Today's the day to say enough is enough and that we want oversight in government and that we're not a religious theocracy governed by a bunch of hypocrites.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Jon Stewart has fun at John Kerry's expense, but along the way, makes a good point.

Election day

I voted by mail yesterday and for the most part, I went Democrat. I voted for the independent for governor because I can't stand our current governor and his main challenger I'm not terribly impressed with either. Generally, I vote a straight Democrat ticket, with the occasional vote for an independent candidate. If there is only a Republican or Libertarian candidate, I don't vote at all in that category. I was dismayed to see on our ballot this year that there were only Republicans and Libertarians running for judicial positions. Gah.

In the eight years I've lived in Very Red State (tm), no one I've ever voted for has won. Never. And yet, every time an election rolls around, I diligently fill out my ballot, stuff it into its carrier envelope, put two stamps on it, and off I go. I like to think I'm part of that little bit of blue oasis in the middle of the state, the metaphorical middle finger to the rest of the state.

But. Yes. Despite the fact it doesn't count, I did vote. You should too. This Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Friday, November 03, 2006

How could I forget?

I just woke up from jetlag and realized that it's November! Which means it's time for the annual writing torture fest called National Novel Writing Month. That's right. In the month of November, you can join thousands of other insane people and attempt to write a novel -- that's 50,000 words, people, or something like 1,667 words a day.

In this venture, it's quantity that matters, not quality, and this is evidenced by the fact I've done it three times -- finished twice -- and I've not looked at any of the three works since because I'm quite frankly terrified of what is in them. I do know one of my characters once went on a mad baking spree because I was utterly at a loss as to what I could do to get to the magic 1,667 number for the night. How does one fix several paragraphs describing the merits of chocolate chip cookie recipes? I ask you.

I haven't done NaNo in a couple of years, but it's one of those experiences that I think everyone should try once. It's really quite freeing and if you do finish, it's very much an accomplishment to be proud of, even if you can't show it to anyone. So, go go go!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Autumn in Prague

Europe -- Berlin and Prague 079
Europe -- Berlin and Prague 079,
originally uploaded by seemag.
The Church of St. Lawrence on Petøín Hill in Prague. In the background, you can see the city of Prague, and the river Vlata.