Friday, December 31, 2004


Happy new year, everyone! Wishing everyone a prosperous, safe and wonderful 2005!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

A modest proposal

Rocky suggests we cancel the President's $40 million inaguration and instead give the funds to the tsunami victims -- deaths which now number 120,000 if not more. After all, wouldn't that be a greater use of the funds, rather than throwing a 'been here, done this four years ago' party?

Also, some companies will match your donation in kind. If your company will not match, find someone whose company will and make your contribution through that person; you can easily double your contribution that way. Thanks to Sheetal for the suggestion.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami relief has set up a one-click donation to the American Red Cross here. As of this posting, people have donated $3.4 million dollars to the relief effort in a total of 558,617 payments -- that's an average of $6 apiece, but what a help that total sum ought to be towards rebuilding the stricken nations.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Season of giving

According to the CBS Evening News, the count of the dead in the Indian Ocean vicinity is estimated at 59,000 and could rise. When I try to put that number in perspective, I think of the town where I did my grad school -- the population of that 'little' town is 60,000. Entire families, livelihoods, possessions, everything, all gone in a blink of an eye. The water has receeded now, but because of the widespread destruction and loss of human life, the danger isn't over yet. There is little in the way of potable water and there is lack of sanitation in general. The bodies are rotting in the tropical climate and there is a danger of disease outbreaks.

Many relief agencies are banding together to help. Some say this will be an effort that will take billions of dollars and years to overcome. Some of these countries -- the Maldives, for instance -- are difficult to get to on a good day, and now it's almost impossible. These agencies need money more than they need donations of clothes or other physical items. If you are interested in helping out, check out the list of agencies mounting relief operations here. They will accept as little as $5 -- which for those of us in the US equals to a cup of coffee and biscotti at Starbucks.

Monday, December 27, 2004

I'd like to teach the world to sing

Once a year at Very Big Insurance Company, the company would hold a picnic for all employees and you'd basically get most of the day off from work. There would be games, contests, free food, and we'd all get some kind of silly gag gift (I still have my lei from the last picnic I attended). One year, my department decided to enter the karoke contest and somehow, I got myself involved as one of the main singers. We decided to sing "My Boyfriend's Back" and we had a whole dance routine worked out, and the main vocals would be split between yours truly and two other people. We practiced several times after work and I had a tape made so I could belt out my part in the car.

The day of the picnic came and my co-worker A. came to watch our dress rehearsal. Until I saw A. sitting there, I was very confident. And then all of a sudden it hit me: I was getting in front of 1,800 fellow employees and singing. I think I forgot the words to the song right there and then and I couldn't even do the little cute dance we had practiced so hard. I wanted to back out, but since I was doing one and half of the lyrics on my own, it wouldn't be fair to my co-workers. I was nervous and miserable, to put it mildly. But somehow, I got the dress rehearsal together and A. nodded approvingly and said we were good and he was sure we were going to win.

Before going on stage, I kept wiping my palms on my white polka-dot navy blue sundress and my heart was thumping and I kept turning to C., whose idea this all had been, and mumbling under my breath. She kept saying things like, "Seema, I can't hear you!" A few minutes before showtime, A. came up to me. "Hey," he said, "I just wanted to wish you good luck." I just kind of gave that half-smile you give when you're afraid of opening your mouth because otherwise your chattering teeth are going to fall out of your mouth. "Thanks," I said. And then he gave me a bit of advice, that to this day, still makes me smile when I think about it. "Good luck," he said. "Don't be afraid to be loud, remember to enunciate and for God's sake, don't forget to breathe."

There were ten teams that competed that day. I'm not sure if we were last or not, but we were pretty darn close. Still, it was a lot of fun, and pretty much marked the beginning and end of my on-stage singing career. You can still, however, hear me in my car.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Baby, it's cold out there

I hope this post finds you all bundled up and snug and with family. I'm baking cookies right now, so the whole apartment has a nice cookie-smell to it, which thankfully is taking over the gas and scorched remnants of quiche smell which pervaded just few minutes prior. For those of you who don't know, quiche and I have been having a difference of opinion lately, and the quiche has the upper hand. Mostly, it doesn't go cake-y (I'm not sure what the scientific term for it is) and so I mostly end up with quiche soup.

But I am the eternal optimist and I keep thinking, "Okay, today will be the perfect quiche." Then, just to prove me wrong, the quiche batter slops over the side of the pan and on to the bottom of the oven, where it promptly turns into black charcoal. So not only do I not have quiche, I have a vindicative oven that reminds me of my struggle with quiche every time I turn it on. From me to you, I hope your cooking endeavours for the holiday and the new year don't turn out quite as exciting as mine.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Best o' blogs

This was the first year I really ventured out into the blogosphere, past the safety of the Mod Squad and checked out the Wide World of Blogging. A lot of people have a lot of things to say, and among those were a few who managed to make me laugh and cry at the same time. So, in a nutshell, here's what I read this year and why I think you should read them too (in no particular order).

  • Chez Miscarriage written by getupgrrl was my introduction to the world of infertility blogs. I got sucked in and soon, I was making the infertility blog rounds regularly, including stops at A Little Pregnant. It's amazing to me how these two women combine sorrow and grief with humor and how very real they seem.

  • I discovered dooce in a 'best of blogs' book, the title of which now escapes me, but it had something to do with not lunging across a desk and throwing something at your co-worker, no matter how disgruntled you might be. Anyway, so I read about dooce in the book and I laughed. So I started reading and got sucked in both by the humor and also the honesty. Dooce is a daily stop and I'm especially fond of the Picture of the Day, especially the Leta pictures.

  • Martini Republic is a blog for my liberal lovin' heart. Just when it seemed as if the blogosphere had been taken over by shrill Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity fans, I stumbled across Martini Republic and thought, "Here are some people who think just like I do." I enjoy the intelligence and snark of the discourse, and the 'MSTing' current events in a way that makes me alternately furious and hysterical with laughter. Now if it was just called Margarita Republic...

  • And finally, last but certainly not least, Baghdad Burning, an Iraqi girl's view on what's going on in her country -- honest, straight-foward and unfettered. We think only of the American bodycount, but as the author of this blog so eloquently reminds us, there are people of other nationalities dying and suffering as well. It's always good to understand what the other side is going through.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


I'm allowed to be annoyed today because I was up three hours past my bedtime yesterday because of the yippy yappy dog, who started wailing around 6 pm when I came home and continued to bark -- hoarse-throatedly, I might add -- until past midnight. At one point, I called the main office to complain, but they told me that the courtesy officer has gone bye-bye and I'd have to call the police. Calling the police seemed a bit harsh, but it was midnight, I was tired, and that dog was barking on the other side of my bedroom wall. So, I wrote the owner an anonymous note letting her know that her dog barks incessantly and it would be much appreciated if she could do something to, y'know, make it stop. You'll be proud of me: I didn't threaten to call the police if she didn't, but believe me, I was thinking about it. Funny, about 10 minutes after I taped the note to the door, the dog stopped barking.

Thanks to less than 7 hours beauty sleep, I'm cranky, cranky, cranky. Which means ordinary things that don't bother me rank high on the irrit-a-meter. One thing, however, that always, always gets me going are the "I would have done X just like you but I was too busy" excuses. I get them often at during the holiday season. "Oh I would have sent you a Christmas card but I was too busy" or "I don't do cards anymore because they stress me out, but thanks for yours." There's also the pre-emptive e-card -- "I'm too busy to send you a card this year but here's an e-card for you." Gee, thanks.

I sent out about 30 cards this year. I don't get 30 in return, nowhere near it. And I'm not whining. I choose to send cards every year because I like doing it and it's a tradition and it's the one time of the year when I go through my address book and get in touch with everyone I've ever said hello to. I don't mind I don't get 30 cards in return. Would it be nice to be on someone's mailing list? Sure. But none of this stuff ought to be an obligation; do it if you want to and if you don't, a simple 'thank you', if anything, suffices -- there is absolutely no reason for an excuse, especially one which claims a) stress or b) busy-ness. It makes those of us who tried to do something nice for you feel like crap, as if we weren't worth 37 cents and the few minutes it takes to scrawl "Happy Holidays and all the best for 2005."

I bet you all wish that dog doesn't bark again, huh?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

This one is just for jemima

There is nothing to report. Absolutely nothing to report. And if it's on the internet, it must be true.
Only three shopping days left

So, what kind of parker are you? I'm a 'see it and take it' parker, preferably as far away from humanity as possibly, mainly because I don't want my car nicked (though it has been -- several times) and the excercise does me good. I admit to the 'stalker' method, though, at my favorite Tex-Mex place, as the parking lot there is frequently stuffed to the gills and the neighboring places have now started cracking down on those of us who used to sneak a spot in their lots.

I'm just glad that, between now and Christmas, I won't have to hit a store and believe it or not, that includes the grocery store -- I have food, baby! While the rest of humanity is cruisin' the parking lots o' doom in search of that last minute perfect gift or bargain, I'll be hibernating. On my futon. As if there were any doubt.
And we're baaaaaaaaack!

The management apologizes for the technical difficulties of the last few days. The management also thanks her brother for the upkeep of this site and all of the administrativia and tech details associated with it. This is all.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Ribbons a go go

I've spent a lot of time on the interstates and highways of this city -- tentatively renamed City of Opportunity, but City of Continuous Construction would probably be more accurate -- and I've noticed what I can only call a fast-spreading 'plague': the 'ribbons' affixed to the rear ends of vehicles. The 'ribbons', which are rubber magnets, in the shape of ribbons, started off innocuously enough: yellow with the words "we support our troops" on them. Every now and then you see a pink one and I haven't yet figured out what the purple and black/gray ones are. Lately, I've been seeing ribbons done up in the American flag -- sometimes with the stars replaced with crosses -- and the word runs from the original "We support our troops" to "God bless America and support our troops" to the more vehement "We support our president and our troops." Apparently one ribbon isn't always enough to get the message across; some cars have two or three, with any combination of the above mentioned designs and sentiments.

I'm going on record to say I'm never, ever going to put one of these ribbons on my car. To me, the message is incomplete and I certainly cannot stomach putting something on my car that associates the American flag with God, for instance, or one that equates supporting the president and the troops as patriotism. "Support our troops" is too loaded a phrase to me; in my mind it means I support the war in Iraq and that a true patriot must support the troops, no matter what the conflict. Unfortunately, there is no ribbon for my brand of patriotism which says, "I support our brave men and women on the ground, but I do not support the why of their conflict. I support our troops' right to not be sent into a war based on bad information and unilateral action. I support our troops' right to be completely prepared and outfitted and be sent in the numbers necessary to win and secure the peace. I support our troops' right to know why they are risking their lives." So you see, until that ribbon comes out, I cannot possibly put something on my car that means something other than what I've said above.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Off limits

Florida Girl* said the other day she would be uncomfortable reading this blog, because she said she would rather hear news from me in person. I tried to tell her this isn't that kind of blog. I don't actually announce anything here -- well, I should probably tell you that I've been sitting around for the last five days because I'm on vacation and I'm on vacation because I have a new job, so no more Blimpkind stories for you!

I started blogging back in 2001, when blogging wasn't cool yet. I tried it because my brother said, "Oooh, new! Shiny!" And I thought, "Hmmm, maybe I do have something to say." Some days, I have nothing to say. I think you know when those days happen. Since I started blogging, the content has changed. I used to blissfully blog about co-workers, friends, things that were happening in my RL -- I don't do that so much anymore. I've learned, over the years, some things just shouldn't be pixelly immortalized, not without a written and signed waiver.

Things you will never read about in this blog:

  • Specific details about where I live. Some of the 'net savvy have probably already figured out this site's billing address; I don't live there. Just so you know.
  • Details about family, unless they specifically figure into a cooking disaster. In which case, it's all good.
  • Work. Not a good idea to blog about work in excruciating detail, however tempting it might be. My co-workers might seem like characters out of a novel, but they are real people with feelings and if news of the bloggity ever got out, well, I'd be in a world of hurt and potentially unemployed too.
  • Personal issues. You're not going to hear about doctor's visits here, or anything else that could be classified as TMI. If I don't know you in RL or consider you a close online friend, the laundry stays off the web. You never know when this stuff came back to bite you in the rear.

I admire people who can be completely open in what they blog about. They seem to have real personality, lives that are a lot more exciting than mine because they always have something to write about. Because there are subjects and people off-limits in this here blog, unfortunately, I may have to subject you to a never-ending litany of when eggs and pancakes go bad, as well as the continuing adventures in IKEA.

* Florida Girl wanted a mention in the blog. I should say, as a caveat to all this, if the subject willingly and readily agrees to be immortalized here, it's all good. But in general, no no no.
The paper chase

I've talked about my inability to throw things out before, and when I talk about 'things', I'm specifically referring to paper. I hoard bill stubs, credit card receipts, random slips of paper with directions and grocery lists and phone numbers written down. And all of this paper -- along with sandwich bags filled with Cheerio crumbs -- is stuffed into the deep recesses of my purse.

The first thing you must know about my purse is that it was purchased about five years ago, when I was carrying around a brick-sized cell phone. These days, my phone is a very slim, back-pocket slippable device, and it gets lost in the cavernous depths of my purse -- especially with all the discard sandwich bags and receipts crushed and smushed into the bottom.

Yesterday, I met a friend for dinner and she was running late, having encountered our city's favorite hobby: construction and re-routing as a result. I thought I tossed my phone back into my purse after getting her call, but later, I couldn't find it. As a result, while waiting for my friend at the restaurant, I started rummaging through my purse and paper started falling everywhere. When I took out the bags of Cheerio crumbs, the mother I was sharing a table said with a nice smile, "Must be nice to get away from the kids for a night, isn't it?" There you have it, people, the naked truth: I carry more Cheerios in my purse than anyone without children has the right to.

I realized that I couldn't possibly empty the contents of my purse on the table, not without a) causing great embarrasment to myself and b) getting thrown out of the restaurant for littering. I really didn't want to get thrown out; it's the one Mexican restaurant in town with vegetarian rice and beans! (Well, aside for the burrito places, but I digress). So I stuffed everything back into my purse and went out to continue searching for my phone. Which I found, in my car, because somehow, in the dark, I had overshot the cavernous depths of my purse and dropped the phone behind the purse. Suffice it to say, I was very relieved and resolved that very night to clean out my purse.

I came home, dumped all the stuff out (well, almost all, because this morning, I found another stash in one of the pockets) and discovered receipts from a couple years ago, receipts from establishments now defunct, receipts with the ink worn off them, cards to various eateries in various cities, and loose change. I also found the Listerment dissolveables that constantly go missing, especially right after going to the pizza place for lunch and chomping down on garlic bread. Since I rarely do anything with receipts, it's amazing I keep them at all. The best invention ever was not only pay-at-the-pump gas stations, but also the fact you can choose whether you want a receipt or not. And now I must go and finish sorting through the newest assortment of receipts I have found.

And on that note, I must go, because I have eggs cooking in the kitchen and making strange noises. That's all I need: eggs exploding all over my paper-covered apartment.

Monday, December 13, 2004


Scott Peterson is getting the death penalty. Call me a bleeding heart, but somehow I'd get more satisfaction out of plopping his ass in prison so he can be someone's girlfriend for the next 70 years, not to mention, it'd give him plenty of time to think on just what a sick guy he really is. Bottom line: lethal injection seems to be too good for him.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Weekend update

I had a lovely time with A. this weekend, though it did take time to get my driving confidence back and I remained rather agitated the whole weekend over the incident. However, we ate a lot -- tried two new restaurants -- and we walked a lot and then had a mini-"Sports Night" marathon and shared our mutual love of Felicity Huffman.

The week stretches out in front of me -- all that time, no definitive plans. I have some financial issues to take care of, and then some other errands that need to get done (including *finally* cleaning the mess in my oven, courtesy of my last stab at a quiche). I'm thinking about having company for dinner Saturday -- well-salted, of course -- and now that I have a hand mixer, some hard core cooking making seems to be in the future. And oh, maybe even watching a movie in the middle of the day. OH THE INDULGENCE!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Reason #284 to not talk on your cell phone while driving

Last night was supposed to a quick and easy drive to the airport -- which is about 30 minutes away from me. It was anything but. Since I don't normally drive on highways, I had no idea about the massive roadwork and the 'right lane only' situation, which meant for about 15 minutes, I was just sitting there. By the time, I got free, I was mildly panicked because the plane theoretically had already landed and I was still 20 minutes away. I had thoughts of my friend sitting there forlornly wondering where I was at. To compound the trouble, I had left her cell number at home -- I have a new cell phone and haven't transferred all the numbers yet -- and I had no way to let her know I was on my way. And then my cell rang and without thinking, I grabbed it, and in the process slightly swerved into another lane. It was my friend in Florida and I just said, "Can't talk, on the road," and hung up. But the damage had already been done.

There was another car in the lane I'd swerved into -- a white four-door Nissan Maxima with four people in it. I hadn't hit them, but I *had* cut them off in my moment of inattention and they were pissed about it. They cut into my lane, slowed down considerably, and I moved into the left lane to overtake them. Before I could do so, they cut back in my lane and slowed down again; the two people in the backseat were staring at me. I cut back into the right lane, and they came right with me. Feeling freaked out, I slowed down and gradually cut all the way to the far right, and the Maxima, which was now ahead of me, actually slowed down *so* much, they put their blinkers on. At that point, I realized they were not going to let me pass them. No matter what I did, they were going to be dogging me. So I did what no good driver should ever do: at the very last minute, I took the first exit that came up. Luckily, since it was 10 pm, there was little traffic and I didn't cut anyone off in my wild swerve to the exit. I stayed on the feeder road until the next exit, and when I came back on the interstate, the Maxima was gone.

It was really scary. My heart was pounding and I was on the verge of tears. The whole time the situation had been going on, I had been trying to dial 911 on my cell, but couldn't quite manage the driving and dialing at the same time -- especially since I already had one car load of people pissed off at me. It was my first experience with road rage and it was scary enough -- no need to do it again, thankyouverymuch.

I'm still agitated over the situation because I don't know what that car's intentions were. Were they trying to scare me? Annoy me? Force me off the road? Shoot me? Also, in true Seema!fashion, I've been replaying those 2-3 minutes over and over in my head and what I could have done to avoid the situation. I shouldn't have reached for the phone or I should have left the house earlier so I wasn't flustered about getting to the airport late. In the end, it comes down to me making a mistake by taking my attention momentarily off the road, but that the Maxima made the bigger mistake by retaliating so violently and that I did the right thing by eventually getting off the road (if they had followed me, I probably would have turned into a shopping center -- thank GOD for Christmas and late shopping hours! -- and called 911 from a parking lot). Yes, 12 hours later, I'm still shaking, but I'm very, very grateful to be home in one piece. If any of you are in a similar situation here are some tips on dealing.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

War stories

On my second to last day at Very Big Publishing Company (tm), I didn't leave work until about 10 pm. Some of you may not find that odd -- you work those hours regularly. The really good thing about this job was the incredibly regular hours. Get there by 9 am, out the door between 5 and 6 pm, and never have projects carried over to the next day. So our shock was palpable today when 6 came and went, and then it was 7, and ohmigod, 8 and oh hell, 9, are we ever, ever going to get out of here?

Things started to get a little crazy around 9. The DC office was banging their collective heads against the wall, I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to laugh or cry at the long list of Oracle codes the tech guy IM'd me. "Update Oracle manually!" he suggested. And I suddenly saw a night reaching into the wee hours and tears seemed to be the way to go. But our tech people pulled a miracle and I didn't have to update Oracle manually, and when one of my tables came out blank -- repeatedly -- we decided to call it a night and go without.

The point is, the night was a war story. One of the tech people in DC IM'd me to say, "I'm banging my head repeatedly against a brick wall. Nothing is happening." And then someone else IM'd me to say, "I'm laughing hysterically. I cannot stop." I IM'd Big Boss at one point and said, "Tell me hte truth. Are we on 'Candid Camera'?" We all left tonight, feeling as if we'd done the best we could, that we'd gone above and beyond the call of duty and maybe the issue was missing some information, but at no time did someone say, "I quit." Everyone hung in there until Big Boss said there was no use, the table was going to be stubbornly blank, and everyone should go home.

Situations like this, you feel closer to the people you work with. You remember that feeling of hysteria, the OHMYGODICANNOTBELIEVEWEARESTILLHERE laments, the camaraderie, the brainstorming, and the pulling together. It's the type of situation, when years down the road, you're sitting around and you say, "Remember that night when the database went down? When all the reports came out blank? Remember that night when we were so into what we were doing we were actually crazy enough to think about updating Oracle manually? Remember?" I like that feeling, that we believe in what we do is so important that no one is willing to let go until it's absolutely necessary. And more importantly, I like that through it all, we managed to retain our sense of humor.

I'm not going to miss the job, but those are some great people I work with. I just wish it wasn't on the second-to-last day of my tenure at Very Big Publishing Company (tm) that I got to see just how very cool and graceful they are under pressure. Things happen for a reason, and I think tonight's catastrophic database failure happened so I could see what I'd been wanting to see all along. I'm going to miss these guys.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Where's my statue?

The 2004 Weblog Awards have arrived, but this blog is not even in the top 6750+ of blogs*. I'd have an inferiority complex about it but a) I have a futon now, b) I have Doubletree cookies, c) with two weeks to go to the holidays, I have managed to avoid hearing that dismal and putrid "Christmas Shoes" carol, e) dooce has a new Leta picture up but more importantly f) I have all of you who stop by, leave comments and email. But I really hope I'm at least in the top million of blogs... that'd be so cool.

Also, speaking of awards, that gruesome twosome -- Joan and Melissa Rivers -- are baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Man, I'm glad they aren't here to critique my wardrobe; today, the iron and I just didn't get along and I went through two pairs of pants before I said hell with it and threw on jeans, even though it's Wednesday which is not the same as Friday which is the day when everyone wears jeans. I can just hear those two yappering now: "And here comes Seema! Isn't her hair big today? And oh my, aren't those shoes from Plymouth Rock? And honey, didn't you know chunky jewelry isn't for every neck? And tsk, tsk, tsk, brown lipstick? Doesn't she know this season's color is wintermelon berry?" So yes, add that to my list of blessings: I don't have to worry about getting critiqued by Joan and Melissa Rivers, because I'd probably have to just curl up in a blob on my futon, under a blanket, and never, ever step foot in public again. Thank God they don't know about the mismatched shoes...

*Actually I was rather disappointed to see two of my favorite blogs not in the running -- Chez Miscarriage and Martini Republic. I'm terribly curious how they picked these blogs for inclusion. That being said, I think there are some very, very good blogs on the list. I voted, did you?

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


Dwelling on regret is so much more comfortable when you have a futon. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

The futon love

I know, I know, it's the third entry in a row about the futon, but if you had my futon, you too would be blogging like a mad woman, because I am in love, completely, totally, with this futon and all I can say is, "Where have you been for the last 18 months of my life and what took you so long to get here?" See for yourself just how attractive the newest member of my living room is (just imagine that with a hunter green cover with grape-colored pillows with pretty gold-green triangle patterns on them). And did I mention the mattress? It's nearly a foot tall and oh so comfortable. I sat down, intending to just test it out, before heading to the shower, and people, I didn't move for the next three hours. I may never leave the house again*

Putting the futon together was fairly easy but it's not a job for one person. There were three of us, and having an engineer to decipher some of the instructions was very vital. It was indeed easier than piecing together IKEA furniture except for the part where wood is very hard and a Phillips screwdriver just doesn't cut it. I recommend, for all of your futon building experiences, an electric drill. I would also recommend the engineer, if you can find one.

Other things I learned:

1. Futon salespeople will negotiate. I got them to drop $60 off the marked price just by telling them I would buy today if they could match the price of a store down the street (much gratitude to S., for suggesting we ought to try negotiating and then getting the ball rolling).

2. Get a thick mattress. The default mattress on the futons are little more than a 6-inch foam pad which will undoubtedly get crushed over time. A nice firm mattress with more cushioning will last longer, and will be more comfortable -- especially if you are using the futon for daily use (whether for sleeping or as a couch).

3. It's not difficult to assemble the futon, but it's nearly impossible if you try it on your own. Some places charged a flat delivery/assembly fee, but the place I went actually gave me the option of delivery only or delivery and assembly -- with a $30 difference between the two.

4. Armrests rock. Do not let anyone tell you that you don't need armrests. You so need armrests.

5. Take S. and R. with you, because they totally rock.

*I also spoke in caps for a very long time because my futon love is so strong that only caps can TRULY TELL HOW I AM FEELING RIGHT NOW!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Futon! Futon!

So I'm standing there in the futon store, just completely bowled over by the fact I've actually made a decision, that I'm buying a futon, and then Futon Sales Guy says, "What's your phone number? I need to give it to the delivery man." And for the love of Tom DeLay, I have no idea. So I said, "(555) 222-5084." When I got home a couple hours later, I had finally figured out that the last four digits of the made-up number I'd given Futon Sales Guy were actually a combination of the last four digits of my my cell phone and my home phone both. So then I had to call the futon place and admit that I do not know my own phone number.

The delivery people -- who were scheduled to arrived between 6 pm and 8 pm -- called at exactly 6 pm. When was the last time your delivery people actually called when they were supposed to? Heck, or even showed up between the appointed hours? People, my futon was here at 6:20 pm. I have futon pieces all over my living room floor. I don't even know where the futon is actually going to go and if it weren't for company arriving Friday, I might actually leave the futon in its various boxes and plastic wrappings right where they are so I don't actually have to deal with rearranging my hard-to-rearrange living room. I will keep you updated on this front: S., R., and I will be assembling the futon tomorrow; I've been told assembling the futon is easier than assembling IKEA furniture (S. reminded me that if building IKEA furniture was one of the challenges on this week's Amazing Race, obviously building IKEA furniture is not for the light of heart). We also have the example of R's mother in front of us -- who singlehandedly built a futon and English isn't even her first language. This ought to be a piece of cake, yes?

Friday, December 03, 2004


I'm going shopping for a futon tomorrow. This is very scary because a) it involves making a decision and b) it involves spending money. I'm not very good at either (except where Casual Corner is involved, in which case it's entirely too easy to whip out the credit card). S. is going with me and she vows that we are not returning home until the futon has been purchased. So far the one thing I've decided on is that my futon must have arm-rests. I mean, what is a couch without arm-rests? Where are you supposed to put your feet when you're sprawled out watching television? And even if you are the type of person who never, ever lies down on a couch, then for goodness sakes, you still need arm-rests so you can actually rest your arms.

I've ruled out IKEA for my futon needs, which is a good thing because a) it involves walking through a store the size of 2 football fields and b) half of this city seems to have nothing better to do on the weekend than visit IKEA and to exacerberate matters even further at the World's Largest IKEA outside of Sweden, there's reason c: flat furniture fits nicely under the Christmas tree! Anyway, IKEA's futons not only lack arm-rests (People! You can engineer a complete kitchen to fit into a box three feet by one foot and somehow you cannot design a futon with arm-rests?), they are also kind of... weird lookin'. This means no IKEA stories for you people! (but maybe, more blog entries about shoes and godawful Christmas carols).

Hopefully, when I blog at you next, I will have purchased not only a futon frame, but a cover and a mattress as well. Miracles are known to happen.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Setting the record straight

As the holidays draw closer, I've noticed one of the top searches that land people here is 'Christmas Shoes' -- ie yes, that
carol. I know I'm just provoking more visits by blogging about this insidious song once again, but I cannot reiterate just how much I want this song to go far, far away from the airwaves. People, there will be no love for 'Christmas Shoes' here, none at all. This blog cannot possibly endorse a song that advocates a "no shirt, no shoes, no salvation" policy.

I reiterate a section of my post on the subject, orginally archived here:

For me, songs like "O Holy Night" or "Come All Ye Faithful" or "Joy to the World" are more about the Christmas spirit than this tear-jerker of a song. I know I'm supposed to be moved by the image of a dirty little boy counting out pennies to buy his dying mother a new pair of shoes "just in case she meets Jesus tonight" but the logician in me wonders why not a bowl of soup? How about some medicine? Maybe a doctor? Why new shoes of all things?

Then you've got the guy who helps the boy out. I don't know what his story is, but obviously he hasn't got the Christmas spirit until he finds himself guilted into giving the little boy the rest of the money to buy a pair of shoes for his Momma. Frankly, I'd take this guy a lot more seriously if he offered more assistance than just buying a pair of shoes, which according to the boy's sob story, are basically useless to this poor family (other than the joy of making Momma look beautiful for Jesus, I guess).

My other question is, how did this boy get to the store? Did he walk? Did someone drive him? And why didn't the nice man who gave him money to buy the shoes give the child a ride home? And I don't buy that the guy now knows what Christmas is all about. He assuaged his guilt a little by handing over a few bucks, but really, what did he learn? That in order to meet Jesus, you have to have new shoes? That's not Christmas spirit; that's just materialism rearing its ugly head once again.

So, I'm sorry, 'Christmas Shoes' lovers, for you must be sorely disappointed. But if you can explain the song to me in a way that makes sense, I'd appreciate it!

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Absolut NaNo

I crossed the finish line, just barely, around 9:15 pm CST, with a few extra words to spare (to account for any word count funkiness). The last two thousand words were courtesy of Isobel Neville, who literally died for the cause. The novel has been validated and this trek is over. Until next year.
The days of yore

I'm always into neat Royalty sites and here's one on Romanov Russia, including pictures of the mysteriously gone missing Amber Room. It's a very complete site and very well worth pursuing, though I'm going to restrain myself, as the last time I ate up a site like this, I found myself sucked into the NaNo blackhole. No Romanov novels for me!

Tonight, btw, is the last night of NaNo. If all goes well, I will cross 50,000 words tonight. Only some 2,500 more to go...

Monday, November 29, 2004


'Crying' dogs at 5:22 am who keep on crying for literally hours (it was still crying at 8:45 am when I left for work). In case you think I'm heartless, I do feel sorry for these poor, poor dogs who have to sit at home by themselves while their owners go and earn the dog food for the day. But that doesn't change the fact I'm sleepy and cranky. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

NaNo update

The last 10,000 words are the hardest and don't let anyone else tell you differently. This is when contractions disappear, when characters are consistently referred to by first and last names, where flashbacks appear quite often, and redundancy is encouraged and necessary. I fear my novel. You should too.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Yesterday, at party number three of the weekend, I asked one of our guests, "So, how are things going for you in Denver?" She looked at me blankly and for a freak moment, I wondered if she wasn't the one who lived in Denver. After all, I'd just called a 17-year old girl by her 13-year old sister's name, so it was very possible that I'd gotten cities mixed up too. It turned out, however, that I did get the city right and therefore, I plunged ahead and said, "I was in Denver in May. I thought about giving you a call but there wasn't really time." More blank stares. So I skulked off to the living room where my brother and J. were hanging out.

"I think my conversational skills are lacking," I told my brother.

"Why is that?" he asked.

"Because I just asked S. about Denver and she looked at me as if I'd suddenly sprouted horns and had green skin. Lately, I don't seem to be able to talk to people properly."

My brother considered and then said, "Have you thought that maybe the people you're talking to aren't giving you anything to work with? Maybe they're the bad conversationalists."

My New Year's resolution, therefore, is to not automatically assume everything is my fault, that failures and mistakes can often be shared. That's not to absolve myself of responsibility, mind you, but often I kneejerk apologize and let the other person off easy because I'm so often falling all over myself to say sorry as many times as I possibly can. So maybe that's really two resolutions: 1) Fault can be shared and 2) Stop being the first to apologize.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

As the blender turns

Last weekend, I decided to make soup. The weather was cold and gross -- think dark black clouds that just hung around. The soup started out well enough; I chopped green beans, potatoes, onions, carrots, and garlic and had them artfully arranged on a plate. Then came the sauteeing and taking jemima's advice, I used vegetable oil, instead of my usual olive, but I think I must have dumped in a gallon of oil because I swear, the onion slices started doing the backstroke. I kind of gulped and kept going, waiting until the onion was translucent, before adding the carrots, potatoes and green beans, in that order.

I then opened a can of stewed Italian-style tomatoes, which needed to be blended. I grabbed the blender and its assembly from the dishwasher, screwed it together and then put it on the blender stand, tossed in the tomatoes and hit the on button. The blender blended, but when I lifted the jug, the thing started to leak red tomato everywhere. I kind of shrieked and dumped the tomato puree into the soup pot, but so quickly that some of it actually splashed onto the stove and also into the grill in the middle of the stove. Note the jug was leaking the whole time. Distressed, I cleaned up all of the tomato puree and then put the blender in the sink, which is when I realized that I had destroyed the blender assembly.

Now, you have to know the history of the blender to understand how catastrophic this is. My mom's Osterizer came into my possession a couple years ago, on the basis that she would buy a new blender sooner if she didn't actually have one. Plus, I wanted a blender of my own to make soups (this was when I was still delusional enough to think I had culinary skills). So I ran off with the Osterizer, and my mom went on a quest for her blender. She bought and returned no less than five blenders before settling on her lovely, shiny blender. And now, after all of that searching and experimenting, I had broken her less-than-one-year-old blender.

Anyway, my mom accepted the loss of her lovely, shiny blender with equanimity and I vowed to find her a replacement part for her assembly. The conclusion of the story is that Monday, when eating some of the leftover soup for lunch, my mom found a piece of the rubber ring in her food. ::headdesk::

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Let's hope your culinary delights are less adventureous than mine! Travel safely and be well.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shoe fly job

My first job search took place during my senior year of college. I had a beautiful new suit (purchased at Petite Sophisticate; who knew this purchase would signify the beginning of a decade-long addiction?), resumes printed on cream-colored linen paper, and what I hoped were killer interview skills (which included staring very hard at the interviewer and hoping he or she would blink first). Since I was in the business school at the time, we had our own career center. To put in for a position, you would drop your resume into an envelope next to a job posting. If you were lucky, when you came back the following week, you would see your name listed on a new piece of paper, saying you'd be selected for an interview.

When I bought my suit, I'd traveled out to West Springfield, which is where all the haute-couture was. I hadn't thought, at the time, to purchase shoes. So on my first interview, I went all dressed up but with my black dress shoes on with the half-inch heel (most recently immortalized as the basket-weave style shoes here). I felt rather self-conscious, as all the other women who were lined up, waiting for their interview, were wearing shoes with heels of at least 3 inches or more. I had to console myself with the thought that at least my pantyhose hadn't 'run', like another girl's had at the knee.

Interviews came and went, and for a long spell, I got lots of first interviews and no second interviews. But I was optimistic. It was still early in the first semester and I still had a whole six months to go before I really had to worry about unemployment. I won't lie though and say it wasn't somewhat ego-shattering when I saw the same people over and over getting second interviews. One of them was a woman named Colleen, who was also a marketing major. She was tall, lithe, pretty, a sorority girl who always seemed to have her hair perfectly in place, in spite of the harsh western Massachusetts wind. Somehow she managed to avoid having white salt spots on her black pumps, and never ever did her lipstick smear off the corner of her lips. I also think she was immune to chapped lips. My friend Sarah and I -- blessed with unruly hair and an inability to apply make-up -- were irrationally annoyed with Colleen.

One day, I landed that magic second interview. I nearly flipped when the company -- a large semiconductor company -- telephoned. I called Sarah and she said, "I bet Colleen got an interview with them too." The interview was to take place at the company's headquarters in New Hampshire. It would be an all-day thing and I just knew that this was my job, and I decided I finally had to do something about the shoe problem, especially if Colleen was going to be there. We didn't have a whole lot of selection in terms of shoe stores in Amherst or Hadley, and I didn't have to time to bus it all the way to West Springfield and my friend was unavailable to give me a ride. So I ended up going to a Major Discount Retailer and purchased the only pair of professional-looking pair of black high heels they had; the only problem was they were a size 9 and my foot is a size 8.

It turned out that Colleen hadn't been granted a second interview with the company, and I thought I was doing well with the interview until the moment we were walking out from the Mexican restaurant where we had lunch and I realized that my size 9 heels were flip-flopping on my feet and I was in danger of tripping on the snowy pavement. I slowed my gait considerably, and for the rest of the afternoon, all I could think about were how obscenely large my shoes were and I was going to fall flat on my face. And I did, figuratively, because my mind wandered for the rest of the afternoon, as I wondered if the recruiter had noticed that my shoes were too big, and I kept worrying whether they would actually fall off. A few weeks later, I got a 'Dear Seema' letter from the company. It was the first of many rejections I would receive that year.

Incidentally, I ran into Colleen again about three years ago at Logan Airport. I had had a crazy day in the city, having been up since 5 am, and had just learned that my plane back had been delayed for hours and I wouldn't get home until close to midnight. I was a nervous wreck and as I slumped in my chair, the woman sitting next to me said, "You were at SOM at UMASS, weren't you?" And it was Colleen, wearing a nicely tailored suit, not a hair out of place, and writing thank you notes in her lovely handwriting. Picture me in my faded blue jeans, with the fraying cuffs, a purple t-shirt with a newly acquired oil stain on it (courtesy of lunch in the North End), and my hair going every which way. She was wearing shiny black shoes and I was wearing sneakers. I wanted to explain to Colleen there was a reason I looked this awful, that I'd started my day at 5 am at the beginning of the Green Line, that this was my second trip to Logan that day, that I'd gone all the way to Alewife, and then back to South Station, and to the North End, back to South Station, and now to Logan. But she spoke first.

Colleen said she was on her way to Atlanta, that she had recently gotten married, and she was an executive with a start-up. Then she asked me what I was up to, and I said I'd been to Boston for a friend's wedding, that I had a job at an insurance company I enjoyed and I was looking forward to starting my MBA in the fall. She nodded and said, "I always knew you'd be successful." And I felt like telling her, "Don't you know I'm the girl who wore mismatched shoes to her baccalaureate? Don't you remember I'm the one who didn't wear high heels for her first few job interviews and I could never get my lipstick to go on right?" But that's not what Colleen remembered about me, so maybe the shoes weren't as big of deal as I'd made them out to be. I realized I was trying too hard and being hyper-aware of every little inconsequential detail, rather than on the big picture. It's a lesson I'm still learning.

I never wore those size 9 shoes again, by the way, and when the annual Christmas drive came around, I put them in a plastic bag and dropped them into the barrel, hoping they'd prove lucky for someone else.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

All blogged out of a job

And yet another blogger gets canned for blogging however indirectly about her workplace. Another reason why anonymity is good and not talking about your workplace is even better. Theoretically, a company cannot come after you for your legal, after hours activities, but if you do anything that can put the company in a bad light, they can terminate you (after all, your employment contract is 'at-will', ie you can leave at any time and they can let you go any time). Another lesson to the wise in all of this is, if you're gonna sell ads on your blog, for God's sake, don't approach your employer.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Good day

This wasn't the blog post you were supposed to get today, but blogger decided to start its maintenance at the exact time I hit 'publish' and alas, that post was gone. It was of a highly personal, confessional nature -- not the usual type of stuff you see in this blog -- and I can't help but think that Blogger was giving me a sign of some kind.

I've had a good day today. I didn't realize how much I needed a 'mental health day' until I woke up this morning and realized I didn't have to go to work. It was also weird to be out and about with the other people who didn't have to go to work. I went to a yoga class, and it was not crowded, the teacher was nice, and didn't laugh when I finally, finally lost my balance on that evil pose -- the one when you balance on one arm and leg and hold the other arm and leg in the air; you try it, you'll fall over at first, I promise. Then I treated myself to a nice French lunch, because I had a hankering for potato soup. Then came an X-Files indulgence (g), and a nice nap, and then playing on the Internet. No writing got done, but that's okay.

Maybe another day, when I feel braver, I will reconstitute the post Blogger ate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Oh for the love of Tom

It's good to have loyal friends, isn't it, Mr. DeLay? So much for 'hardwork, loyalty and perserverance.'

Live to eat

A few years ago, S. and I treated ourselves to an amazingly exorbitant dinner. We were celebrating her new job at an internet start-up and my promotion at Very Big Insurance Company. We went to an Italian restaurant which had only 14 tables and one 'seating'. We had no reservations and were in luck when we grabbed the last table. Dinner was very leisurely -- if memory serves, we spent about three hours at the restaurant, from appetizers to dessert. We also ordered a bottle of wine and they actually brought us two bottles and allowed to select the one we wanted. The waitress came by every 30 or 40 minutes and so we didn't feel as if we were being rushed at all. Due to the unique 'one seating' nature of the restaurant, the ambiance and pace was all very European. And despite the $120+ bill for just the two of us, we both thought that was a marvelous evening.

Work pressures are getting to both of us now, so S. suggested this morning we needed another exorbitant dinner out. I've spent the last 10 or 15 minutes going through restaurant menus and sending her IMs. "Is a restaurant with a $275 bottle of wine expensive enough for you?" I asked. She IM'd me back, "Getting mighty close." What ideally I'd like is an ambiance similar to our first expensive dining experience, with a slow, easy pace, and just really good food. Unfortunately the restaurant we dined at in the Big City to the West has closed and the restaurant that lives there now has bottles of wine considerably cheaper than $275.

I'll keep you informed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Waiting for jemima

The NaNoing continues and I'm happy to report, despite taking the weekend off, I am on track to finish precisely on November 30. However, I've got to start thinking about upping the word count -- probably closer to 2300 or 2500 words a day so I can take two weekends off in a row. We'll see -- if I don't get there, I may have to actually fit in some late writing time amidst all the festivities.

Monday, November 15, 2004


Two things you must know about my day today:
  1. I had two cups of coffee in rapid succession
  2. The city I live in smells like gym socks

I had two cups of coffee this morning because I had to be work at the ungodly, should be illegal hour of 8:30 for an orientation class. I dragged myself half-asleep into the conference room, equipped with coffee and a cheese-filled croissant -- by the way, these should also be illegal, just for the sheer goodness of them. During the first hour or so, I finished off my cup of coffee and all would have been good if the computer equipment hadn't chosen to fail right there and then. All of us made a dash for the kitchen and/or bathroom, and instead of going for the decaf like I should have or even a cup of tea, I poured myself another cup of coffee.

I was halfway through the second cup when the jitters hit; it was almost as if all of my red blood cells had decided to take on the white blood cells, and with the platelets and plasma hanging off to the side cheering madly, my arteries and veins were suddenly turned into the biological version of the Grand Prix.

People, you could have put me on one of those hamster wheels and I would have generated enough electricity to power this sprawling Hummer-inhabited metropolis.

After class was over, I thought the best thing to do to relieve the jitters was to head across the street to the Vietnamese restaurant which makes The World's Best Vegetable Spring Rolls (tm). As I stepped out into the gray, muggy day, I got the full aromatic assault: wet gym socks.

Think of your gym locker room. Think of the way it smells after an aerobics class lets out. Think of all of those sweaty people in their sweaty clothes and then imagine the air conditioning going out and then, for good measure, air circulation suddenly stops because your sports club is just evil that way. Think about that and now you know how this city smells.

To make a long story short, I did get my spring rolls, which tasted lovely, and I got rid of the jitters. But I'm afraid, given the current weather reports, the gym sock smell is here to stay for the next week or so. Oh, if there were ever a city that needed a Glade plug-in.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Forgive me, for I am weak, but fellow 'blues', here's a Guide To Recovery 11/10/04 and a Winner takes all, to put it all in perspective.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Black shoes

Someone recently suggested I treat myself to a new pair of shoes. Whenever you get news, this person said, of a good nature, one should buy new shoes. I'm a rare species of woman: I'm not terribly into shoes. My shoe buying habits tend to be of the last minute, and only when my existing shoes have started to come across at the seams, and the big toe is sticking out the front end. Once, I wore a pair of loaters even though the sole had virtually separated from the moccasin and water was seeping in, soaking my feet. I also still have a pair of sandals that because of an incident involving gallons and gallons of rain and a plastic bag were nearly consumed by bacteria; I dropped the sandals into a bucket of bleach, scrapped off the bacteria, and voila, I can still wear them.

Added to my inability to actually stop wearing shoes until they fall apart, I also have a tendency to buy black shoes because I'm firmly of the belief that you can never go wrong with black; it matches everything and is mostly always appropriate. I do have one pair of navy pumps, but only because I have two or three navy suits. But everything else -- from loafers to dress shoes to high heels to sandals -- it's all black, baby.

Years ago, I read the poem Ithaka at my high school baccalaureate. I wore a new dress that day -- black with little pink flowers. It was my biggest public speaking gig ever. I was nervous. Yes, I'd recently graduated from the Dale Carnegie class, but I was still most happy when no one noticed me at all. And somehow, peer pressure did me in and I had volunteered to read a poem in front of my 200 fellow students and their friends and family. Before I left the house, I made sure my dress wasn't caught in my hose, that I had a copy of the poem, and in a moment of vanity, left my glasses at home; I wasn't driving, and I figured if I couldn't see the audience, I couldn't freak out. The last thing I wanted to do was freak out in front of 80 gazillion people.

The baccalaureate was held on the campus of a local college. As my family and I walked from the car to the church, I looked down and noticed, for the first time, that I was wearing two different shoes. On my left foot, I was wearing the aforementioned black moccasin that was falling apart and on my right foot, I was wearing my black dress shoe (basket-weave pattern, if you were really wondering). So much for freaking out at the podium -- I freaked out right there in the parking lot. My mother reassured me, saying that if I hadn't noticed that I was wearing two different shoes, no one else would either; after all they were both black, weren't they?

The key point to keep in mind was, I was not wearing my glasses and I was assuming the 80 gazillion people in the audience all had 20/20 vision and instead of listening to my reading of "Ithaka", they would all be pointing at my mismatched -- albeit black -- shoes and laughing; you know the old adage: You can learn a lot from a person from her shoes. I could just see us all at our 25th high school reunion and the class president saying, "Remember Seema? She couldn't even match her shoes for baccalaureate, is it any surprise she's matching David Hasslehoff's record as the world's oldest lifeguard?"

I'm happy to report I got through that incident without anyone noticing -- or remarking, as the case might be -- on my mis-matched shoes and I didn't faint or freak out at the podium when I read the poem. Also, I stopped lifeguarding after my sophomore year of college, so David Hasslehoff never had to worry about competition from me. Now, I never, ever leave the house without giving my shoes a once-over, because just like people wake up in a cold sweat thinking they've missed an important exam, I always think of myself as the girl with two different shoes on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


While I'd vowed to set this blog 'politics free', I couldn't resist this particular site: Sorry Everybody.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Nothing to see here

NaNo is one of those brain-eating endeavours and I'll be darned if I have more than two brain cells to rub together at this point in my word count (not to mention, time of the evening). My current word count is just over 16,000 words and I'm pushing to hit the 20,000 mark by Thursday (Friday/Saturday are definitely out writing-wise). To remain on schedule, I need to hit 25,005 words by Monday. It's around this time when Stuff (tm) starts happening to your characters, when descriptions become curiously long, when people suddenly go around calling each other by their full names (by 35,000 words, you start inserting middle names as well). There are plenty of ideas in the forums for those of you interested in just how nutty this project can get.

Some other time, we'll talk about the psychology.

Monday, November 08, 2004

New music

I picked up some new tunes over the weekend, including Yash Chopra's Veer Zaara, Devdas (aka the most expensive film ever made), and Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham. I've been pretty happy in general with the selections. "Veer Zaara" is excellent -- somehow, Lata's 75-year old voice seems to fit the score well. I also picked up a compilation of A.R. Rahman's hits (includes selections from "Rangeela" and "Bombay", among others), but I haven't listened to it yet. I've got "O Mere Sona Re" in the car, which was packaged as a 'revival' of some classic duets, incuding the title track (which I think I actually prefer the modern version of) and one of my all-time favorites, "Sawan Ka Mahina."

Sunday, November 07, 2004

My fingers are tired

I am caught up. For those of you wondering, that's 8,000+ words done this weekend, many of them used more than once, especially the word 'countenance'; it sounds very 15th century, doesn't it?

Saturday, November 06, 2004

In the kitchen with Seema

Today's lesson: Charcoal pancakes in 9 easy steps

  1. Use leftover pancake mix, if you have it. Ideally, the mix should have a gray tinge to it. If it doesn't have a gray tinge to it, let sit for a week -- covered -- in the fridge and come back to this recipe next Saturday.
  2. Put stainless steel pan on stove, turn burner up to HIGH
  3. Find olive oil and don't measure the amount needed to grease pan because the pan is very, very HOT. Dump in liberal amounts of olive oil.
  4. Stir up the batter to make sure that gray mixes with the beige colored part of the mix so that everything is gray
  5. Dump batter into stove. Watch in fascination as olive oil bubbles OVER the edges of the batter.
  6. Try to flip the pancake over. Realize that the oil is keeping the pancake from solidifying. Fight with the pancake until you manage to somehow peel it up off the pan and realize it's kind of flat and fried. Realize pancake has absorbed a bottle's worth of olive oil. Remember olive oil is good for the heart.
  7. Drink a bottle of red wine while you make the second pancake. This time, turn on the fan over the stove just to avoid setting off the fire alarm (unless, of course, you are wondering if the batteries in your detector are still good, in which case, this step is optional. Not the red wine though -- it's good for your heart*).
  8. Struggle to flip the pancake again. When the burner is on HIGH, you see, things cook faster than the speed of light, especially gray pancake batter. Panic when you see the charcoal, flip into a plate. Burn fingers pulling off the burned bits. Realized it's neither cooked nor fried all the way through.
  9. Eat anyway, dosed heavily with Vermont maple syrup, with a side of orange juice. Serve in front of the television, preferably in front of an episode of the X-Files you haven't seen before. Think, "This is the worst damn breakfast I've ever had," but keep eating anyway because of children in Africa and all that.

Tune in next time, viewers, when we talk about how to make absolutely tasteless Indian food!

Friday, November 05, 2004

101 ways to procrastinate writing your novel

I'm still shaking off the election doldrums and have spent the last couple of days, reading and responding to blogs, and generally commiserating with the other 48% of Americans who wondered what the hell happened on November 2. All of this, you see, is an excellent way of avoiding NaNoWriMo, that annual 50,000-word slug fest. I'm about 3,000 words behind at this point; I suppose that's what the weekend is for, to make it all up. In the meantime, for any of you participating in the annual event or just looking for writing tips in general, here's a nice link on plot and story.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

An open letter

Dear America,

I'm finally able to pull myself together and write to you. I admit, after seeing the results of the presidential election this morning, I felt as I've been kicked in the gut and this tremendous sense of despair and sadness came over me. My reaction stunned me and honestly, many of my fellow liberals said the same thing. No one expected to get overwhelmed by emotion, no one expected to feel as if they had suddenly lost all hope. That's not what America is supposed to be about, but somehow, for the 55,554,114 of us who cast our vote for John Kerry, we've been feeling anything but hopeful -- no matter what CNN says.

Now that I've been through the five stages of grief over this election, I feel like I can finally tell you, the 51 percent of of you who selected George W. Bush as our president, why this election mattered so much to the rest of us, why we took the results as hard as we did. Contrary to popular belief, this election could never have been about who could handle Iraq, terrorism or the economy better -- whoever took office would be stuck with a royal mess to clean up. Perhaps Bush is better on Iraq; after all, who better to manage a debacle than the person who got us into it in the first place? Maybe the economy will perk up, maybe it won't -- President Bush, for the record, you can keep my next tax cut; just make it so my health insurance premiums go down and that I no longer hear of friends and family getting laid off. And terrorism, ah, for the love of Pete, America, don't fall into the trap of believing this is a war that can be won. You cannot win against those who have nothing to lose, who are fueled by hatred, who see glory in death, and have no heart, not even for their own fellow countrymen. And so perhaps Bush may not mess up so badly these next four years as he did the previous four, when I look at these issues in this particular light. Yes, America, I'm rationalizing, because without hope, it's all I've got left.

I've been thinking about my unanticipated emotional response to Kerry's loss long and hard because while I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, I didn't sink into despondency when the Supreme Court finally handed him the White House. I felt sad, yes, when Al Gore conceded, but nothing like the tears that threatened when I returned to my desk and found an IM from a co-worker waiting. She wrote, "Kerry is conceding. I can't believe he won't wait for Ohio." But what was there to wait for? Statistically, Ohio could not be won. We didn't need a replay of 2000 when the election was declared in the courts, and Kerry recognized our system did not need another such blow. And in that moment, as that tenuous hope called Ohio drifted away, I sank into my chair, and just stared at the screen, thinking about the elation in all of those red states and wondered why I felt so out-of-control sad.

America, this election mattered because we now have a Republican majority in Congress and a Republican president in power -- a president whom I once thought could be a moderate, but now I know differently and the disconnect between what Bush promised us in 2000 and what he delivered rankles hard. I did not feel this despair back then because I believed Bush when he said he could be a uniter, I believed him when he said he could be compassionate conservative -- I fell in the same trap as so many people, America, and I didn't even vote for the guy. This time around, America, I'm afraid I don't have the ability to extend the benefit of the doubt; I've seen what he's done, what's he's capable of, and America, frankly, I'm frightened.

The fear stems because those of us who are socially liberal see the very real possibility of erosion in our constitutionally-guaranteed rights due to the fact checks and balances have been all but wiped out. I tried to take heart in the fact Barack Obama was sent to Washington, D.C., in a landslide and I smiled at my co-worker who has been wandering around the office proclaiming, "Clinton/Edwards '08." I have to say, at this moment, 2008 seems a helluva long way away.

A lot can happen in four years. A new Supreme Court Justice -- maybe even as many as three -- will be appointed. The issues of abortion, affirmative action, death penalty, the issue of religion in public forums and gay marriage will be among those on the court's docket. Already, 11 states -- including two 'blue' ones -- have approved anti-gay marriage amendments to their state constitutions. For shame on you, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and Utah, for essentially creating a second-class citizenery. For shame on you for falling into a trap of social values, for believing what other responsible, mature and law-abiding adults do in their own time has a bearing on your life and values.

I'm not surprised to see states like Mississippi, Georgia and Arkansas embracing such an amendment, but Oregon, Oregon... and with a conservative government in power with the ability to appoint similar-minded justices who will have long-term effect on the policies of this nation, who knows how long such state-sanctioned intolerance will go on? You see, America, this is what those of us who supporting Kerry feared the most and what we will continue to fear through the next four years.

America, the majority has spoken and you have selected George W. Bush as your president. Some of you will insist he is my president as well; he is in the sense that he leads the American people and I am an American. But in no way does he or the party he represents stand for my values or beliefs; as such, he isn't 'my' president at all. So many people decided this race based on 'morals' -- morals dictated by religion -- rather than what made economic sense. So many people cast their vote on whether gays should be allowed to have the same rights as the rest of us, rather than looking askance at a man who led us into war on a lie -- a war which has yielded us nothing but chaos, increased threat of attack, and more than 100,000 dead, Iraqi and American/coalition casualties together.

America, I love you, I honestly do, even though I'm not feeling very kindly towards 51 percent of you (and especially the one of you who stole my Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker not once, but twice). I'm a relatively mild-mannered person, so don't worry, I'll get over my righteous indignation and despair soon enough, so I can start talking and living with you again, hopefully in peace and respect. I do want us to be able to moderate this divide, America. I want us to be able to see we're so evenly divided, that some compromise ought to be made, that we ought to somehow figure out we're all in this handbasket together and we've got to make it work.

But I do want you to know, America, that I do not want you to dicate how I live my life or what decisions I can and cannot make concerning my own health. America, you've chosen someone who has advocated smaller government but greater intrusion in our personal lives. You've chosen someone who has said it is okay that a certain segment of our population cannot have the same rights as the rest of us. You've chosen someone who prefers giving tax-breaks to the rich, rather than helping me -- us -- figure out why my health insurance premiums have risen 15 percent in one year. Forgive me, America, for I don't understand what you were thinking.


p.s. No, I didn't select the previous poems purely on a whim.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Another poem

I'm so, so, so sorry to wimp out on you guys, but I've just been so caught up in the election, that I haven't had time to come up with new material. I've also started my NaNoWriMo novel, and in an attempt to match the good pace set by jemima, I've fallen short on the creativity side. But I do like poetry and tonight, rather than sharing an entire poem with you, I'm sharing one of my favorite stanzas with all of y'all (complete poem can be found here:

The Lady's Yes

Yes !" I answered you last night ;
" No !" this morning, Sir, I say !
Colours, seen by candle-light,
Will not look the same by day.

-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I Voted... Did You?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Monday poetry

The NaNoWriMo word count is zero; I'm already 1,667 words behind. It's also late, so I cannot give you the proper blog entry you deserve; but as Ms. Austen once said, it's rarely my good fortune to treat people as they deserve. So, on election eve, I have no politics for you, no insight, no predictions, only poetry. Enjoy!

Ozymandias of Egypt

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on those lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

-- Percy Bysshe Shelley

Sunday, October 31, 2004


I'd considered keeping this blog politics free past Election Day -- maybe a woot! or two if Kerry does actually manage to eke it out and my escape clause says Tom DeLay is always a fair target -- but then Rocky* pointed me to an interesting essay Alara Rogers posted in her Livejournal, and it's possibly the most articulate essay on the contradictions within the Republican party I've read. The comment which provoked Alara's response is here and Alara's two-part response is here and here.

Also, observers from the global community will be monitor this year's election. How has it come to this? That this country, this country that holds itself as the beacon of all that's good and fair and right has fallen to such levels we cannot even be trusted to elect our own officials? And if it's the case we cannot be trusted with our own democracy, the democracy we've invented, how are we to be trusted to bring it to other parts of the world? How do you do advance democracy through the world when all credibility has been stripped away?

Some people would argue that given the global situation, why change course? Why not keep the man who gave us this mess, this lack of credibility, in the first place? After all, why change horsemen in the midst of the Apocalypse? But I think that's exactly why we need to change. We need someone who can see clearly, who can process information, can shift through various opinions to come to the right conclusions and isn't so blinded by advisors who have their own agenda.

It's too late to pull out from Iraq; there's no way we can do that now. The question is, do you want the guy in charge who pushed everyone away and said, "We and our Brit buds can do it on our own, hell with the rest of you,"** or do you want someone who is the choice of the European Union -- the second largest, if not largest -- economy in the world? Of course, most people would say they don't want the EU or the rest of the world making choices for the US, but just think about what it means if the EU endorses Kerry; it signifies their willingness to talk to him and perhaps there will be progress made on advancing the 'War on Terror'***.

As much as it pains me, I believe George W. Bush will declare victory Tuesday. I believe he will win this election because of a steady diet of mis-information, of obscuring the issues that matter to the regular American Joe -- health care, jobs, economy. He has drawn his support on social issues that rarely affect the mass majority -- abortion rights, gay marriage****, to name two -- but have a great polarizing effect on the country. I believe people think the 'War on Terror' can be won if you are dogmatic and refuse to admit you may have made a mistake by taking your eye off the prize, Osama Bin Laden. When you consider how many people still think there's a link between 9/11 and Iraq, it's no wonder Bush will win Tuesday. He's got the psychology of the American electorate down -- he says we can win against terrorists, he says he can keep us safe, he drapes himself in the American flag and values. And on Tuesday, 51 percent of the nation will believe him.

The one thing I share in common with W is my desire to never admit any mistakes I may have made. I especially abhor having to correct this blog. But I say now, if I have to rescind this entry on Wednesday, Nov. 3, I'll be more than happy to apologize to all of you for being wrong about the outcome of this election.

But not Tom DeLay. Never for Tom DeLay.

* This post is All Rocky's Fault (tm)
** Oops! I forgot Poland!
*** I really, really, really, really, really despise the term 'War on Terror'. It's like nails on the chalkboard. It hurts me, preciousssss, it hurts me as much as, if not more than, 'weapons of mass destruction.'
**** It's ridiculous to blame the very people who can't get married for the fact Britney Spears can get married/annulled on a lark or J. Lo who has single-handedly boosted the wedding economic sector. I challenge you to show me a couple whose marriage is less sacred because two men or two women got married in Massachusetts; in which case, I say to you, that's a man and woman who ought not have gotten married in the first place.
The calm before the storm

I've reactivated my NaNoWriMo account and will be participating this year. My original intent had been not to do so, but the truth is, I have a lot of fun with NaNo, and this year I don't feel as stressed to actually make the 50,000 word mark. That's not to say I'm not going to aim for it, but it's not like last year, where I was determined to make up for falling short in 2002.

My favorite part of NaNo is the forums, which I highly recommend checking out, even if you aren't participating. By mid-November, they go completely wacky and I love some of the ideas people put out for stretching their novels to that magical 50,000-word mark. My tactic, some of you may have noticed, is food. The first year I participated, my original character became a gourmet cook and cooked, cooked, cooked her way through the novel; needless to say, with all of the cooking there was, there was also lot of eating (also a random singing of "Moon River", but, whatever, desperate times call for desperate measures). Last year, I did a fanfic novel, X-Men, and there wasn't quite so much eating; fanfic, I think, is easier to do for NaNo -- it really does write itself.

So after trying original novel in 2002 (still unfinished), fanfic in 2003 (also unfinished), this year I'm going for historical fiction. I've decided to throw research out the window and just write the parts I know off the top of my head; post NaNo is for accuracy. I just feel that I will never write this story unless there's some kind of deadline and I should go for it while the enthusiasm for it still exists.

Anyway, good luck to everyone trying NaNo! Happy writing to you! Remember, you only need 1,700 words a day to make it through! (p.s. Ignore the AIs who come out every year and have word-counts of 25,000 on the first day; no dbubt, their characters are doing nothing but reading menus and cookbooks to each other).

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hello, Pot!

Some people just don't get it:

"I've never had a campaign where the entire nation has tried to destroy my name," [Tom DeLay] told the Houston Chronicle. "They are going after me in the most personal and vindictive way. It's gutter politics."

I'd have sympathy for DeLay, if the guy himself didn't excel at "gutter politics." We're talking about someone who's got three ethical violations under his belt, and has made some very blatant and aggressive power grabs in the last couple of years, in an attempt to disenfranchise Democrats in Texas and increase Republican control of Congress.

Full article here.

Friday, October 29, 2004

I am weak

I know Rocky is going to read this post and say, "I told you so!" and sometimes, I think I do this just so she can have that honor (why isn't it that I never get the chance to tell people "I told you so"?). I've said over the past month that I wasn't planning to go through NaNoWriMo again -- that alternate rush and agony of writer's block/flow, you pick. Last year, I hit the 50,000 word mark in less than two weeks and that unfinished story still sits on my harddrive; I was too exhausted to make it to the 50,001st word. My goal in NaNoing last year was to accomplish what I failed to do the previous year: finish. In other words, it was like climbing Everest or running a marathon -- something you do once just to say you have done it.

However, in the last couple of days, my brain has been eaten by a story idea, this time based on Anne Neville (interesting article here on both Isobel and Anne).

The literature on Queen Anne Neville is few and far between; she and her much maligned spouse, Richard III, for some reason don't capture the imagination like the Tudors, for whom novels exist aplenty. Of course, there is the Sharon Kay Pennman's marvelous The Sunne in Splendor and I also enjoyed The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy. Both cover Anne Neville impressively, and usually I'd be content to just re-read over and over again, but for some reason, I have a nagging urge to write a story myself set in this time period. jemima points out that there's actually a market for historical fiction as well.

The key to being successful to this endeavour however is needing an outline of dates and events. I know enough just off the top of my head to hit the highlights, but I'd like to do more than that. Now, the question is, do I write Anne Neville's story from her perspective? Someone else's? At any rate, research is required, and unfortunately, a few of my history books which I require are not with me. But hey! No one said a 50,000-word novel written in 30-days with a Thanksgiving holiday in there had to be accurate!

Something to think about; I think it'd be sad, actually, to let November go without NaNoWriMo eating the brain. So if all goes well this weekend and I can get an outline of dates and events put together, sign me up.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Blimp Kind the Third

The Blimp Kind (first seen here and here) returned to our smoggy skies today (along with a helicopter gunship, probably taking aerial footage of any of the 80 gazillion CEO trials going on in this city). Today, it was a MetLife blimp, and my fascination with the Blimp Kind dissipated quickly as once again, the Blimp Kind just didn't see us and I was sure that I was going to meet my end at Snoopy's paws.

We all stood there at the windows, yelling at the Blimp Kind, and gesturing wildly. The problem is, our windows are tinted and while we can see the Blimp Kind, they cannot see we the people (obviously, as it doesn't seem as they can even see our 50-story tall building surrounded by other Very Tall Buildings (tm)) and so I suggested perhaps I should whip out the whistle from my emergency kit as a last resort.

People, you have no idea how many things go fly in your friendly sky during a day. I mean, until you are up in the sky with those fly sky things, you just have no idea. And every now and then, just when we've settled into a sense of calm, an Apache helicopter or F-14 buzzes us, probably just to remind us that they are out there, our tax dollars at work. I feel safe immediately when a helicopter gunship roars by, especially after the windows stop rattling.

Admittedly some parts of this city are a war zone, but I didn't think it was so much so that we needed heavy duty artillery. Meanwhile, while the Air Force is circling downtown, the Blimp Kind lurch in our direction in a manner that can only be described as 'drunken' or 'near sighted.' But for what it's worth, I'm glad the Blimp Kind are up there; they serve as a nice speed bump for the roarin' Tomcats.

Link of the day: Create your own terror alert.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


This blog officially endorses John Kerry for president. Yes, I do know it's a vanity for a two-bit blog such as this to make a bold statement of endorsement, but I feel it's important to stop dilly-dallying and say it: I want John Kerry to be our new president because America needs change and I believe John Kerry is the man who will effect that change.

Former President Clinton summed up the differences between the two main candidates perfectly when he said, "If one candidate's trying to scare you, and the other one is trying to get you to think, if one candidate is appealing to your fears and the other one is appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope." John Kerry wants us to think about what he can do for us, and he offers us hope that things can be better, that we do deserve better than what we've been given in the last four years. Fear should not be the deciding factor in this race, but rather the qualities of a man who has devoted more than 20 years to public service.

John Kerry is a man of strong character and intelligence. He's a decorated Vietnam veteran, who risked his life when others avoided service. He speaks clearly, intelligently, coherently and is a skilled orator. He is a man who values information and many opinions in order to make his decision; he revises his thoughts, not because he's inconsistent or 'flip flops' but because he knows there are no black and white answers, that gray areas do happen and changing information requires revising approaches and agenda. Contrary to George W. Bush's claim, Kerry is not, in fact, the most liberal senator in Congress. According to, a non-partisan site dedicated to uncovering the truth about all of the spin in the campaigns, Kerry is actually just left of his party's center. Also, according to FactCheck, Kerry has also been consistent on his Iraqi war stance.

Kerry supports not only the social issues important to us, he also will work hard to make sure we are taken care of on the financial and educational issues as well. Kerry proposes health care reform -- including coverage for all Americans -- as well as protecting a woman's right to choose. He will work to create new jobs and opportunities here in the United States, rather than shipping them overseas. He will work hard with our allies overseas to stabilize Iraq and reduce the threats posed by North Korea and Iran. He believes in protecting the environment and energy independence and has plans for education, including tax credits for college tuition. You can read more about the specifics Kerry's "Plan for America" on his site. John Kerry believes strongly in one America, not one for the rich and certainly not a separate one for the poor. He and John Edwards will work together to create that one America; they will work together to renew the hope lost in jobs, wages, health care -- the financial issues that really matter.

President Bush may be a man of strong conviction, but he does not deserve a second term in the White House. During his four-year tenure, Bush has started two wars in an attempt to make us feel safer. The war against Afghanistan was justifiable; we were going after Osama Bin Laden, the man directly responsible for the 9/11 attacks. As of yet, however, Osama Bin Laden has not been captured, and there are not enough troops on the ground in Afghanistan to finish the job there properly.

Iraq started the doctrine of pre-emptive war and the war itself was based and sold to the frightened American people on a false premise. There is absolutely no link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein; as such, George W. Bush lied to the American people when he implied there was one, and in this war, the reasoning for which shifts daily, over a thousand US soldiers have died, and the Iraqi civilian death toll is between 13,909 and 16,033 at this writing. In addition, Bush developed no plan to secure the peace; our presence in Iraq will continue for years now, at a cost of billions. Despite the heavy cost in financial and human resources, it's impossible to say whether the United States is any safer now than it was prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Bush also produced the following results:

  • 1.6 million private sector jobs lost since Bush took office; 800,000 net jobs lost.
  • 4 million more people living below the poverty line;
  • Healthcare premiums up 55 percent, while more than 5 million people have lost their health insurance
  • $89 billion worth of tax cuts awarded to the top 1 percent of income earners
  • A $236 billion surplus turned into a $422 billion deficit

Those are the highlights; you can read more here, along with the appropriate citations. Some facts also from this Salon article.

There are many reasons why people cite Bush as their candidate of choice. For instance, there's a perception Bush will be strong in his response to terror; we are, after all, talking about a President who did initiate two wars in less than four years. A new pro-Bush suggests electing Kerry will benefit the terrorists because Kerry allegedly cut intelligence expenditures; these statements are misleading, as it seems Republicans, including CIA Director Porter Goss proposed even more stringent cuts than Kerry ever has. The President even opposed the creation of a Homeland Security Department for 9 months or so after 9/11, before 'flip flopping' and agreeing such a department could be created.

However, here's an idea neither candidate will mention: the 'war on terror' is virtually unwinnable. Other countries -- Israel, Spain, the United Kingdom, Russia, for instance -- have been fighting terrorism for a lot longer than the United States has been. Taking on this global fight cannot and should not be a unilateral action. The only way to even make headway is to bring allies to the table, to treat them with respect and understand that they are sovereign nations with their own ideas on how to spend their valuable resources, both in financial and human terms. The Bush administration has made multilateralism virtually impossible; with John Kerry in office, there is hope some of the allies may come back to the bargaining table and perhaps, lend a hand to stabilize Iraq.

The next president may also have the honor of electing a Supreme Court justice. This is an issue that has virtually gone unnoticed, but the recent thyroid cancer diagnosis of Chief Justice William Rehnquist has brought the issue to the forefront again. Among the major consequences is the fate of Roe v. Wade -- a landmark ruling that surely could be overthrown if Bush is re-elected and able to appoint a justice. The potential nominees and consequences are listed here.

George W. Bush has had his four years in office and we've seen what he's done during that time. The American people deserve better, so much better. Vote for change, vote for hope, vote for John Kerry on November 2.

Monday, October 25, 2004

The Flu Boo Boo

I was going to write about politics today, about some unpopular opinions re the presidential election, but instead, I thought I'd talk about the flu vaccine, which apparently is FUBAR, which roughly translates to: Only Members of Congress Qualify*. And I know you're reading this and saying, "Well, Seema, we knew this. How are you so far behind the times?" And it's true, and I apologize, but I was standing in line waiting for my flu shot all this time.

Well, before you beat down the HTML of my blog, I rescind that last comment; I actually haven't had a flu shot in years, if ever, due to my non-exclusion in a high risk category. Every year, I play that dangerous flu roulette -- will the bad little germies take me down or not? So far, knock on wood, I haven't been seriously ill since The Great Stomach Ailment of 1999, which was positively one of the most horrible experiences ever (you can thank jemima** for intervening and thus sparing you the gruesome, up-chucky details of the five-day long battle, but I can tell you a 24-hour "Seventh Heaven" marathon featuring "The Best of Ashlee Simpson" would be less traumatizing than enduring suddenly leaky orifices and achy joints I didn't know I had).

In the meantime, to put this post back on its original politicky and less disgusting bent, I say: Vote on issues that matter! We need someone who will be tough on the flu, who will stand up to that true Weapon of Mass Destruction! Vote for a candidate who will fight vaccine contamination wherever it is so we don't have to fight the flu in the streets of Phoenix or Atlanta! I'm just sayin'.

Link of the day: Man has bird flu.

* Congress update; fair and accurate, that's what this blog strives for (with apologies to FOX), and so I feel it's fair to let you know Congress did donate some of their vaccines. Also, update on the actual flu situation here.

** It's also jemima's fault you got the flu today and not the politics; the politics will resume tomorrow; feel free to hit the snooze button.