Thursday, July 26, 2007


Hello, all, I'm back. I am finished the book and since I have no way of discussing it here without spoiling it, all I will say is that the 7 straight hours I spent reading the book were very enjoyable. Your mileage may vary.

I feel like I've missed a lot in the last few days. It was just Harry Potter that's been taking up my time, but I've been out and about. I'm supposed to be working on my story but somehow I don't seem that motivated to do something about my summary paragraphs and I feel very much like cheating and just saying "the end". But then I think, if JK Rowling did that, we readers would feel totally gypped. Not, btw, am I insinuating in any way that JK Rowling and I have anything in common except for maybe a love of coffee houses.

So how about you? Have you read the book? Was it worth the wait? The anticipation? And please, out of consideration, no spoilers.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Beginning tomorrow evening, I shall be offline. Well, offline as much as I can be. I'm hoping against hope that I will NOT be spoiled for Harry Potter and one of the only ways to assure that is to stay off the computer and not read the newspapers or watch television. As it is, the New York Times has already published a review of the book, and spoilers are everywhere. Some media outlets are better than others when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I don't want to take the chance.

I will get the book on Monday (hopefully) and it's gonna be a sprint reading session. So I'll see you guys when I'm done reading!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


I find this comment thread between the liberals and conservatives very interesting, if not a wee bit frightening. I'm amazed MikeB hung in there as long as he did (the 'liberal' voice) and he made some inappropriate comments, mho, but I also find it scary how many people still believe that Iraq and Al-Qaeda had ties to each other pre-9/11. The misinformation is disheartening, truly is.

The saddest part of this whole comment thread is that there really is no room for polite discourse. You question George Bush, and your Americanism is questioned. Of course, it's a conservative blog, so I suppose it should be expected; I have no doubt a liberal blog would flay a conservative for showing up on that blog with the opposing viewpoint. It's for that reason that I'm not a big fan of either politically conservative/liberal blogs. They pick their talking points that'll appeal best to their audience and cherry-pick the stories that'll support their viewpoint and don't bother ever saying "Oops, I was wrong that time" or post a story that might, just might, give another point of view. I'm not a big fan of the name-calling that goes on on either of these blogs. I know it makes for colorful reading, but it's just aggravating and disrespectful, mho.

I also believe political blogs do a major disservice to their readers, who don't get the whole story because they're too busy getting their news from either Michelle Malkin or Daily Kos. Conservatives will argue that they need blogs because the MSM has been leading them astray, but I'd argue that the bloggers have been leading readers astray (liberal & conservative both). These blogs subsist on a population of angry people of both political persuasions who are so incredibly convinced of their viewpoint that the minute that viewpoint is threatened, they have no choice but to attack. It's so very sad.

*Please, Kosvo wasn't so much an invasion as an intervention and many years late too. Gee whiz, people.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Writer's block

It's not so much that I have writer's block -- I have lots of ideas and phrases running through my head at all times -- but that I despise editing with a passion. I mean, I really, really, really, really hate editing. There was a time when I didn't mind it, when I actually looked forward to the process, but now, it just grates on my nerves big time and the only way to avoid this necessary evil is to not write at all or do what I've been doing lately -- edit as I go along. Those of you who have been there done that know that the 'editing as you go along' process is not the wisest because it turns you, the writer, into an automatic self-critic and once you start second-guessing yourself, the story is not going to get off the ground.

I have a story that started off really well, even included some dialogue, but the last half of it is nothing but paragraphs of writing right to the anti-climatic end of the story; and yes, it reads as tediously as it sounds. The lazy in me is tempted to just leave it at that and slap a "the end" on it so I can move on to the next project which will be infinitely splashier and more exciting, but the critic in me is wagging her finger and saying, "Now, now, now, don't cut corners." What to do, what to do? In the end, quality's got to win over getting something done quickly, because if I'm not proud of it, then there's no point in sharing it with the world, right? So back I go to flesh out my lackluster endings and add in dialogue and detail and bring my sketchy paragraphs to life so my settings and characters 'pop'.

That doesn't change the fact I still hate editing.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Car talk

Here in Sweat Sock City, it's become a rage to have valet parking at restaurants, upscale ones and the not so upscale ones. It actually makes me a little crazy because I can park my own car -- an act I engage in at least four times a day. And then I show up at this restaurant and I have to give my keys to some guy I've known for about 2 seconds and trust them to park my car for me. It especially aggravates me when the restaurant in question has a huge parking lot -- such as the newest, hip spot just down the street from me. Huge parking lot and it's all valet. And not free valet either.

I don't get it. Is this some service that people really need? I understand in cases where the weather is bad or parking is hard to find, but in places with their own lots? I don't get it. It especially irritates me because most of these places, you'll spend at least $15/person for dinner, probably closer to $30, and then you have to also pay the guy to do something you can do yourself. Depending on the place, you're lucky if you can get by with $5 to the valet. It's just like a local big movie theatre complex here -- they charge you $3 to park there.

I no longer frequent places with valet parking or if they do have valet parking, I check around to see if I can park on the street. In a couple of cases, the weather was so bad and the only option was valet, I drove out and went to another restaurant entirely. Needless to say, I also don't go to the movie theatre where you have to pay to park (another movie theatre in downtown where you do have to pay to park, validates your parking ticket for you, so it's all good).

I bet valet parking adds some kind of 'status' to a restaurant and probably attracts a up-scale crowd. I'd really like to see some studies on it, because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only who is aggravated by this particular growing trend. I'm also curious to know how many people choose not to go somewhere because you have to pay for parking.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pretty as a lady bird

RiP, Lady Bird Johnson. The legacy she left this country might seem simple, but could hardly be considered trivial.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sweet dreams

Spend the night at IKEA! Can you imagine? It reminds me of that time in high school -- I'm pretty sure it was senior year -- when someone thought it'd be a great idea to have a class sleepover in the gym. You can imagine that no one got any sleep at all that night. I remember lying in my sleeping bag, debating the meaning of life with my friends as the shadows danced themselves into weird shapes on the cinder block walls. Things get kind of trippy in a high school gym at 3 am in the morning and when you're 18 and think you know everything there is to know.

Anyway, I have a hard time thinking about spending more than an hour at IKEA, let alone an entire evening, but if they'd throw in the flight to Oslo along with the bedsheets and bathrobe, I'd totally be up for it.
Semantics, schemantics

I realized I used the word 'megalith' in this post in regards to the upcoming release of the last Harry Potter novel. I really meant the word 'juggernaut'. I'm eagerly looking forward to the book, even though I have very little memory of what happened in the last one, or even the five books preceeding it. I'm not a huge Harry Potter fan, probably pretty low on the scale, but I love the idea of being part of a huge reading community and devouring a book voraciously in a way that I haven't since, say, high school. These days, I tend to go at a very languid pace of about 3-6 pages a night if I'm lucky, and every now and then, I'll spend about 30 minutes reading.

But Harry Potter, well, that's a force of nature to be reckoned with and my speed will be dictated by the fact I don't want to be spoiled at all as to what happens and hence, I will need to read quickly to avoid from finding out the ending before I get there myself. This means I'll have to quarantine myself from all forms of media (::sniff::, Today Show), and maybe even people... In preparation, I've been trying to up my reading pace to about 10 pages an evening. We'll see how it goes. Since this will be a quiet weekend with no plans, I might spend a big chunk of time building my reading 'muscles', so I'll be game-ready when the book comes out next week...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Shakespeare had the right idea

Apparently that judge in DC who is suing some drycleaners over a pair of pants to the tune of $54 million isn't giving up, even though his case was dismissed a couple weeks ago. The whole thing is ridiculous and you got to feel for the poor drycleaners who have, literally, been taken to the cleaners with this case. There's defense fund for these guys over here, so they can keep up with this increasingly nutty litigatious judge without losing their shirts. Really, with all the stuff that's going on in the world, I can't believe this guy is going absolutely ape**** over a pair of pants.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Pop Culture

Reading: Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
Movie watching: A Very Long Engagement starring Audrey Tatou
Television watching: What Not to Wear
Listening: Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks

I've been reading a lot lately and these are some of the other titles I've read and do recommend:

Return From Troy by Lindsey Clarke
One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead
I Love You, Nice to Meet You by Lori Gottleib and Kevin Bleyer
Four Queens by Nancy Bazelon Goldstone

I've checked out a lot of books from the library, but I read so slowly these days -- about a book every two weeks -- that the number of titles I started and not finished is immensely long. I am, however, greatly enjoying "The Inheritance of Loss", which is unexpected. Next on my list is Resolute by Martin Sandler and Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, but of course, that's without taking the megalith that's Harry Potter into consideration.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Rain, rain, go away

It's been raining non-stop for weeks now and it can stop at any time. There's this funky smell hanging over the city (hence my endearing name for it) because the storm drains are backing up pretty quickly and the drainage ditches that criss-cross the city overflowed their banks today. Fun all around. I'm watching a line of storms right now coming up from the south and whether it comes here or turns northward, it doesn't really matter. It's soggy no matter where you go.

I steered clear of any water on the streets on my way home from work today. I had to detour a lot because so many roads and intersections were under water, but that's okay. I had a high water experience about 10 days ago and I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown right there and then in the middle of a flood intersection. I got through it and pulled into a parking lot to wait it out, but once is enough for me. It's not worth the risk -- not to me, not to my car, not to anyone around me. Waiting*, as far as I know, has never killed anyone. But yet, I keep seeing truck after truck going into water that's at least as high as their grills. It's mystifying to me.

*for high water to recede, that is

Monday, July 02, 2007


So the other night, outside of a local sushi restaurant, I'm introduced to this woman. She looks vaguely familiar, her name is vaguely familiar, but it takes me a few minutes to figure out -- well, actually, I have to ask her, "So what do you do?" And even before she opens her mouth to respond, I had a sudden vision of torrential grey sheets of rain, cars stalled out beneath a gray overpass, and this woman knee-deep in water, cowering beneath an umbrella. It's in this moment of soggy clarity, I realize she's a journalist for the local NBC affiliate. "You're the one who's always standing in the rain when it floods!" I exclaim. "Oh gosh, I always feel so bad for you."

At least I didn't say, "Wow, you look really different without your raincoat and floppy rain hat..."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

What's going on

So it's been a rather eventful week. I returned from a business trip to Philadelphia late one night after being delayed on the Philly tarmack for 2 hours. It was hot, hot, hot in Philly that day and when people from the deep south say it's hot, well, you know it's got to be hot. So I was not quite awake the next morning when I drove into work and got caught in a very strategically placed speed trap just half a mile from my apartment. Most excellent.

So I'm sitting there at the side of the road, fuming and wondering just how it was after four years of driving down this road, how did I not know the speed limit was not 40 mph, but rather 30 mph? The cop wasn't that nice to me either. He not only handed me a doozy of a speeding ticket (12 miles over the speed limit will cost you $188 here in Sweat Sock City), but I was also the lucky recipient of not one, but TWO citations, that in total add up to another $350. Luckily, one of the citations -- proof of financial responsibility -- I'll be able to get knocked off. The insurance card in my car expired in May and I'd neglected to replace it with the new one. So that's easily taken care of. The second citation, well, that's going to be interesting to deal with.

I never changed my driver's license address when I moved to Sweat Sock City four years ago nor when I was in Ye Olde University Towne six years ago. Instead, I put the parental units' address on my license, deciding that until I figured out where this tumbleweed was going to land, I wanted to have a permanent address. Well, the cop didn't buy that explanation and gave me a stern lecture: "You're not a child anymore, you don't need to rely on your parents." Methinks someone doesn't have a good relationship with his parental units.

Anyway, I went online to DPS to change my address and found out that my current address is way too long for the address bar and there's just nothing I can do about that, short of going to DPS in person (I'll call in the morning to find out what's what). So now I'm not sure what to do. My court date is on July 20th, which means I have 20 days to procure a new license to show to the judge and hopefully get my $100 fine on that waived. Except that it takes 15 to 20 working days to get a new license, which means if I can't do it online, I'm out of luck. ::sigh::

As for the speeding ticket, I've decided to accept responsibility and plead guilty/no contest (I was, after all, speeding) and petition to take a driver's education course. It'll still cost me some change, but if I successfully complete it (and this will be my third* time through, so I have no doubt I will pass it), then I avoid having this ticket on my license and no points will be added to my driving record -- which is very important to me, because I do have a clean driving record (no accidents in the past 6 years, one speeding ticket five years ago).

The lessons here are:
* Don't speed
* Make sure you have an up to date insurance card in your car
* Make sure your license address matches your insurance card

The first time I took it was for the insurance discount; we get 10 percent off our insurance premiums on successful completion.