Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Life's like that

So two things happened today, making me question whether in fact, it was Monday, and not Tuesday as my calendar insisted.

1. My blister popped. Yes, at 7:30 in the morning. I yelped. It was an accident. But it hurt. Almost as bad as the initial burn. And I did a little jig, ran for the neosporin, and yelped some more. I didn't manage to cut off the skin and debride it like all of the websites said to do. I lack sufficient courage for all that. So instead, I ran to Walgreens, which don't you know is like the best place in the world, and got some 'hospital quality' pads and adhesives to put over the healing burn. There was more yelping because even the slightest touch hurts; I have a whole new respect for people with major burns -- I mean, I always knew it was painful and awful, but I've also never had a second-degree burn before either. How people manage with so much of their bodies burned is amazing to me. And for those of you curious, the burn is currently about the size of a nickle and whitish, with an angry and jagged red border.

2. My rock climbing trip was cancelled. Yes, after my enthusiastic shout-out last night, the trip was cancelled due to lack of participants. WHAT IS WITH PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO HANG OFF THE SIDE OF A CLIFF? Anyway, there's another hiking trip going to the same location that same weekend, and they offered to transfer me into it. I hemmed and hawed, thinking that a 5-mile hike is going to be rather hard on my arthritic right hip (but then again, isn't that what Aleve is for?) and really, a hike on a fairly flat terrain around a gigantic rock isn't quite as sexy as scaling up the sheer vertical face of said rock. But I had my mind set on a trip, and so I switched over. I think it'll be fun anyway. In the meantime, my friend pointed me to a rock climbing trip in April at the same place that he's thinking about going on, so I may go then. THE DREAM LIVES ON.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Mountain madness

I was going to blog about my burn blister (caused by polenta-splashage while cooking and it could have been worse if not for the quick thinking of Florida Girl who said, "Put a lid on it!"), but Rocky said no, no, no, and veto'd my idea of posting a picture of said blister. So you can all thank Rocky for that non-post and non-picture.

Instead, I shall talk about making my current mountain obsession come to life. I've missed the Great Outdoors since moving down to Very Red State, and in December, I had a little taste of it when we did the Great Road Trip and I found a small trail to hike on. So I did some digging around and I found a rock climbing and camping trip that takes place in a couple of weeks. I was nervous about signing up, because, y'know, it's about DANGLING OFF THE SIDE OF A CLIFF, and it meant traveling miles and miles and spending time with people I didn't know. I'd almost talked a friend into coming with me, but he'd just come back from a ski trip and didn't want to do two trips in a row like that.

But I couldn't get the trip out of my mind. I was scared because it was trying something I'd never done before, potentially life-threatening and/or pelvic-smashing type activities. I wouldn't know anyone on the trip, so very possibly I could go an entire 72-hour period without speaking to anyone*. Finally I thought, "So what if no one I knows is going to be there? It's something I want to do." So I picked up the phone, my thumb caressing the raised numbers on my credit card and before I could back out, I bought myself a spot on the trip.

My excitement hasn't died down since. I can't stop talking about it, and anytime someone asks me what's new, I launch into this breathless soliquoy about the rock climbing trip and by the time I'm done, I bet they're sorry they even asked. I'm confident, injuries and all, that I'll still be able to make a good attempt at this rock. It's a new experience to have, something more to talk about than, "Yeah, still at the same job, yup, still living in the same place, nope, not really seeing anyone" conversations I seem to be having a lot lately.

Already, I have my eye on a trip this group is doing next year in semi-Red State -- a four-day hiking trip that involves a REAL LIFE BASE CAMP. And for people who know about my Mt. Everest obsession, they know that my dream is to go hang out at the Everest base camp for a few days**. It's not the same thing, but heck, I've never camped on top of mountain before, so that seems really, really cool to me, especially the part where it says "Breakfast, summit attempt" -- as if the summit isn't a foregone conclusion.

I'm making my own excitement and I like the way that feels. I'm not going to ask for company anymore to do things, and I'm not going to wait for someone to ask me. I'm just going to do it.

*And this is where RL people say, "Nah, that would never happen."
** Seriously. Just base camp. No higher than that.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


It looks like the South Dakotan abortion ban will be signed into law. Granted, it'll be struck down as unconstitutional and really is just a ploy to get the SCOTUS to reconsider Roe v Wade, but the fact that it bans ALL abortions -- including pregnancies caused by rape or incest -- and only has an exception for saving the woman's life is just disturbing to me.

I'm a firm believer in "legal but rare" abortions -- where we work to make sure people have birth control, understand the consequences of their actions, and get the health care they need and the information they need to make the right decisions; abstinance education is one solution, but it's not the answer because people are people. Nor is this outright ban on abortions the solution.

What particularly disturbs me is this sentence:

If a rape victim becomes pregnant and bears a child, the rapist could have the same parental rights as the mother, said Krista Heeren-Graber, executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

"The idea the rapist could be in the child's life ... makes the woman very, very fearful. Sometimes they need to have choice," Heeren-Graber said.

Just. Wow.

The thing is, banning abortion doesn't make it go away and the impact will be purely economic; the women who are least likely to have the education, proper health care and economic status to make a decision about whether to continue a pregnancy are the ones who will be most impacted by this law (and laws like it) and will suffer disproportionately.

What gets me is that there is absolutely NO empathy from the anti-abortion side for what a woman might be going through, why she would make a decision to have an abortion. My pro-choice stance is because I have NO idea why a woman would choose to terminate a pregnancy, what the circumstances are in her life, and what led to that pregnancy in the first place. I'm way too lazy and uncaring to consider these aspects of another woman's life, and hence, I'm happy to leave the decision to her (and anyone else she chooses to involve in her life).

I really wish the government would stop legislating what I can and cannot do with my body, with my life. If only the so-called 'pro-life' movement would spend this much time and energy on putting together a decent health care plan.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hail to the Chef!

This Italian-style polenta dish caught my eye, and it looks like something you might like too, Gail. Also, celebrity chefs share some of their healthiest recipes over here. I especially like the look of the gazpacho soup.

The problem is, now I have to whip something up for my dinner and I can't seem to think much past scrambled eggs at the moment. Anyone have leftovers or willing to entertain an extra guest for dinner?
Speaking of spoilers

I just watched a clip for this weekend's "Grey's Anatomy" over here and now I want to kick myself. It's a fine line between wanting desperately to know what happens before it happens and wanting to know nothing at all, so to be completely surprised/shocked/awed. That's how I feel about "Battlestar Galactica," which I completely avoid any news of spoilers, etc. There are people who want to know everything about a movie or a television show, and I admit to being, on occasion, one of them. But "Grey's Anatomy" is slowly teaching me that not knowing is the way better path to take.

I stayed completely off-line yesterday (go me!) in order to avoid being spoiled for the ladies' free skate. That meant getting off-line at work and ignoring the desire to check headlines after 3 pm, not listening to the radio in the car, and then not checking email or blogs at all when I got home. I didn't even go to the gym, instead choosing to work out in my living room, in case someone forgot their earphones and the results of the competition blared out. When it came to television, I watched part of "Survivor," but everytime it went to commercial, I immediately flipped to NBC, just in case the nightly news previews gave away the results.

It worked.

I was completely unspoiled for last night's figure skating program, where once again, the woman who managed to stay upright for the long program, won it all. That being said, Shizuka Arakawa performed magnificently, not a single bauble anywhere and I honestly think she has one of the most beautiful Ina Bauers I've seen. Sasha Cohen gracefully and elegantly rebounded from two disappointing spills, and I was shocked to see Irina Slutskya double a jump and fall on a triple flip. I was incredibly impressed by Joannie Rochette, the Canadian, and I like Fumie Suguri's long, though not as much as her short. The two youngsters -- Kimmie Miessner and Emily Hughes -- acquitted themselves well; they should hold up well for 2010.

Tonight's the skating gala, and I'm looking forward to that. I did already get all the results for tonight's races, but I figure a double-dose of extreme censorship was a wee bit much. Besides, I can only be deprived of the Internet sooo long before I break out into hives.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Howard Stern's Use of Profanity Jumps 34 percent. While the headline caught my eye in that "someone's got WAY too much time on their hands" way, this sentence made me chuckle: "This entry shockulated the "Shockulator" auditors most, with several people losing serious money in the pools."
Cent sense

I'm reading a prospectus on mutual funds and my eyes are literally and seriously rolling back into my head. Because of things going on in RL (tm), I thought this would be a good time to evaluate some of the finances and figure out what's what and where's what. Hence, the reading of the prospectus. I think I'm just an average Josephine when it comes to this kind of stuff; my dad's the rock star.

But the RL upheaval has necessitated the reading of the prospectus, and even though I do this kind of thing and under stand the concept of betas, expense ratios, etc., I'm still overwhelmed by what to do. Ideally, I'd like to forget about it all and hope for the best. It's possibly not the investment strategy that'll keep pace with inflation though, so hence, the bedtime reading.

My point is -- and I apologize for sounding incredibly arrogant here -- even with an MBA and a bachelor's in business and the fact that I spend chunks of my day working on financials, I'm still bewildered by this stuff. Should I pick that fund or this one? When should I sell out? Is my grid -- large, small, mid, versus value, cap, growth -- properly balanced? Is random Korean company a better bet than Pepsi? Should I pick Microsoft or Dell? How long do I hold 'em before I fold 'em?

It's for that reason I'm so incredibly convinced that diverting funds into personal accounts rather than having the whole chunk go into a Social Security fund is an awfully bad idea. No one has the time to read prospectus and re-balance their portfolios every month or even every quarter; you're doing good if you can get it all to make sense once a year. And what works this year may not work next year. It's the way of things.

Obviously, I'm ranting on an issue that's all but dead, but just doing this now reminds me how hard it is just to get the mix right, let alone trying to beat the stock market when the average Joe/Josephine is too harried by Real Life (tm) to sit down and actually figure out what's what.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Things that make you go huh...

Sweat Sock City has a "Graffiti Abatement Team" and they drive around in a sky blue van. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself this morning on the way to work. What got me was the GAT's presence in the historical neighborhood, which is SO not a hot spot for graffiti.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Some time ago, I had a conversation with a few friends about Hollywood. We were talking about stars we admire, and why. And honestly, if you asked me that question right now, I couldn't come up with an answer, but one particular star -- whom I know very little about and have seen only a few of his movies -- came up. One of his virtues, according to my friends, was that he didn't use his stardom for politics or to push a particular cause.

I hear a lot of criticism of celebrities who use their status to promote a subject -- whether it's antiwar (George Clooney), or anti-Taliban (a cause made famous by Maeve Leno, incidentally), or raising awareness in Third World countries (Angelina Jolie) -- but I don't actually understand what the downside is. If Richard Gere wants to free Tibet and testify in Congress about his knowledge, what's the problem?

The truth is, plenty of non-celebrities do a lot of great work for humanity every single day of the week, 365 days a year, but none of us pay attention. My friend Heather spent two and a half years in Niger, living in a mud hut, as part of the Peace Corps. She tells me about her experience, her other friends, her colleagues, but in the grand scheme of thing, Joe Public isn't going to pay attention to Heather. They're going to pay attention when Angelina Jolie decides that there's a crisis in Haiti and she's going to check it out. And as much as Heather learned and accomplished in Niger, there's more work to be done there than she can accomplish on her own and as who she is.

I don't mind when celebrities talk about their opinions on the war or who should be elected president. Just because someone is a pretty face wearing designer clothes doesn't mean they aren't entitled to their opinions or actions, and last I checked, we're all guaranteed by the First Amendment to say nearly anything we want to say. The only thing really these celebrities accomplish by these visits and their speeches is making us all feel a little more uncomfortable about the fact there are small tragedies happening every day around the world, some of them caused by leaders whom we've been asked to trust and consider infalliable.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pop culture

Reading: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Watching: "American Idol," "The Olympics"
Listening: Extraodinary Machine by Fiona Apple
Cooking: Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Valentine's Day

So I just had possibly the most embarassing conversation EVER with a total stranger. Seriously. I'm not going to go into it in gory detail, since it was so incredibly embarassing, but for those of you in the know: after feeling very sluggish this afternoon, I finally got up the nerve to confront the noisy neighbors.

So I was standing there, the door opened, and I opened my mouth to speak.



And the entire time I'm speaking, the heat is rising in my face, and all I can think of is, "Seema, you selfish girl, run away now, run, and invest in ear plugs for the remainder of your lease."

But I'd flung open the lid of Pandora's box and I had to keep going on, if for nothing else, the honor of the situation (such as it is/was), but man, I so wished the floor would open up and swallow me up.

I'm pretty sure my neighbor felt the same.

Why can't I have neighbors who just play loud music? Or set off the fire alarms like I do?

And then when I asked, just to be nice, if I was loud, he said, "You can have a party every day until 3 am and I wouldn't care. You're the one with the problem."


I'm just saying, building bookshelves and furniture* up against your neighbor's wall at 3 am in the morning is not the way to endear yourselves to your neighbors. Telling them about the fact they keep you awake, when you both know what you're referring to, that's not exactly a primo way to make friends and influence people either.

But I need sleep, dang it. I wish I didn't feel so conflicted about this, torn between respecting someone's privacy, but at the same time wanting them to understand how their actions are INTERFERING WITH MY LIFE IN A WAY THAT COULD BE DANGEROUS.

I don't think I can ever make eye contact with my neighbors again. Ever.

And couldn't be happening to a nicer couple: Cruise and Holmes deny break-up stories.

* Euphemistically speaking.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Michelle Kwan withdraws from the Olympics. I'm really sad to see this because even though I knew she was a long-shot for gold, I wanted to see her get her last shot. She's an amazing role model, a class-act, and I really admire people who keep on trying, even when others have written them off. I wish she'd ended her career on a more positive note, but what she's done today is emblematic of the kind of person she is -- putting aside her dream to do what's best for the country, and in the process, giving Emily Hughes a chance at the Olympics.

Mikee Celizic puts it beautifully over here.
Goodnight, and Good Luck

I saw this movie last week and the one word that clearly comes to mind when describing it is the one Newsweek used: stylish. From a technical and artistic point of view, and maybe even screenwriting, the film is very nicely done. The black and white print is crisp, clear, and the edges and contours of the actors and their surroundings are brought out in vivid focus. David Straithairn does a superb job as Edward R. Murrow, though never having seen the real man, I cannot judge on the make-up job. And there are sections of dialogue that are excellent, and a few laugh out-loud moments, but in general, the script relies heavily on videotape from that era.

The film fell apart for me in terms of the story. There really wasn't one. I was interested in the battle between Murrow and Senator McCarthy, because it's an era I hear a lot about, but know very little about. Besides, as some of you may have noticed (g), I have a passing interest in all things media-related, and so the politics and journalism aspect of this film appealed to me. The issue here was, there was no sense of urgency, or suspense, or what the stakes were for Friendly and Murrow other than they had to pay for their own television ads. Murrow went up against McCarthy in a few televised spots, but what was the real effect on him as a man? On Fred Friendly? On the people who worked with him? It's never quite clear. The only real victim in this film is Don Hollenbach, but his downfall wasn't directly related to the stories Murrow was putting out, so even that angle didn't work as well as it could have.

I'm not saying every movie needs to have a victim, but rather than having long spans of time when we're watching video of the stories Murrow told, it would have been more intriguing to learn about the people producing, to get a sense of how they were feeling. It's an ode to journalism, a message to today's reporters who seem to do everything they can do to not challenge the administration except where interns and cigars are involved, but other than that, it's just a stylish piece of film, with very little emotional involvement -- from either the audience or the characters.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


The zinfindel as California's official state wine? I like the sound of that. I'm a white Zinfindel kind of gal, especially of the Beringer* variety.

I'm not terribly crazy about red wine, though apparently it's something the discerning wine lover (such as yours truly, though hardly discerning am I) is supposed to appreciate. Chardonnay is my second favorite after the zinfindel, and Sauvignon Blanc is my least favorite of the white wines. My brother is a big fan of a Portuguese green wine, which I also like; if he stops by, hopefully he'll leave the name of it here in the comments (hint, hint).

* Incidentally, the Beringer winery in Napa Valley is absolutely gorgeous. I mean, they all are, but it was a special treat to visit Beringer because, y'know, I like their wine, especially their white merlot.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Vevy Intwesting

I know some of you rent from Netflix, so this article about 'throttling' will probably be of interest to you.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I was planning to review "Goodnight, and Good Luck" today, but instead, this caught my eye. Yes, I am incredibly and so easily distractable. The movie review will have to wait until Friday (no bloggity on Thursday).

Four jobs I've had

1. Lifeguard and swim instructor. The former sounds a lot cooler than it actually is (how many hours can you listen to kids playing Marco Polo, huh?), and the former was a lot more fun than I thought it would be.
2. Librarian's assistant. Which was way cool because I was right there when all the bestsellers came in and I never had to wait for them. And oh, it also helped pay off my debt to the library -- much in the way of late fees.
3. Newspaper editor. I struck fear into the hearts of reporters everywhere. Or so I liked to think. I was mostly a softy. Except for the one person I fired. And even then I couldn't get the words out. I handed him a letter.
4. Sandwich maker. Yup. I spent a summer making deli sandwiches. Once a cockroach was sitting in the cheese, and a customer pointed it out. So I gave the cheese to the prep person in the back, she flicked the cockroach off and handed the cheese back to me.

Four movies I can watch over and over

1. "Steel Magnolias"
2. "A Few Good Men"
3. "Top Gun"
4. "The Scarlet Pimpernal" (Jane Seymour & Anthony Andrews version)

Four TV shows I love

1. "Grey's Anatomy"
2. "Battlestar Galactica"
3. "Without a Trace"
4. "Commander-in-Chief"

Four places I've vacationed

1. London, England
2. Virginia Beach, VA
3. Barcelona/Madrid, Spain
4. Lake Tahoe, CA

Four of my favorite dishes

1. Yogurt, preferably plain and most preferably homemade by my mother
2. Margerita pizza
3. Chipotle burritos
4. Most Indian vegetarian dishes

Four sites I visit daily

1. CNN.com
2. NY Times
3. Washington Post

Four places I would rather be right now

1. Playing with the niecelet
2. In Boston, having coffee with my friends
3. Orlando, going shopping with Florida Girl
4. Mt. Everest

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

VCR Alert*

ABC is re-running the Superbowl episode of "Grey's Anatomy" on Thursday night (which will probably give ABC something close to a pulse on that particular night of the week). Details over here. If you haven't seen it, do! I haven't been this in love with an episode of television since... I don't know.

Did I just say I was in love with a television episode? No wonder I keep having taquito moments.

*Or TIVO. I know, I know, VCR technology is so 2000
Tech schmech

This article on premium email caught my eye. I've always thought it would be a Good Thing (tm) to charge people to send email, something nominal like one-hundredth of a cent or something like that. It wouldn't affect normal emailers greatly -- a couple of cents month, maybe, to send out emails (unless you're the type who sends out more than 200 emails a month). But it would get the spammers who send out thousands of emails a day, costing them $310/month if they sent out a thousand emails a day. If you use Yahoo and AOL's pricing of 1/4 cent, then it's suddenly costing spammers $1,000/month to do something they used to do for free and the more they send, the more it costs them* and maybe they'd have to cut down on the number of emails they send (or at least target them better; I, for instance, do not need Viagra).

Also, the ads for pizza supplies and pizza stones in the comments over here amuse me greatly.

*Acutally, this reminds me of those sales: "The more you spend, the more you save!" WTH? It's all proportional. If it's 10 percent off $50, then you save $5, but you've spent $45. If you spend $100, then you save $10, but you've spent $90. Sure you've doubled your savings, but you had to double your spending in order to do so. [soapbox]That's why it never makes sense to me when people say, "Oh, if I just buy this other pair of shoes I don't really need, I'll save $10 instead of $5."[/soapbox]

Monday, February 06, 2006

The taquito moment

"The Taquito Moment is the test you didn't know you were giving until the other person failed. Sometimes, it's an impossible test."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Meet market

The key to making new friends is making friends with people who have friends they are willing to introduce you to. I envision a party where the host invites 3 or 4 people with the caveat that they have to bring someone the host or the host-invitees don't know. So theoretically, the party would be a good mix of people who know each other and don't, so you'd avoid the problem of having a couple of people at a party who don't know anyone except the host, but also not so many new people that the host herself is flustered with trying to make conversation or connections between all of the guests.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Link of the Day

Today's LotD is provide by Florida Girl. The price of generic drugs varies from pharmacy to pharmacy. And because I'm naturally suspicious of things like this, I checked the link out on snopes.com and found that it is indeed true. So I guess the moral of the story is to comparison shop, even when it comes to generic drugs. Of course, if you're on an HMO like I am, and have been moved to the more expensive mail-order for 'maintenance' drugs (like I have been), then there isn't much choice. I promised not to get political, but really, there has to be something better than this.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


That saying about "always being a bridesmaid, never a bride"? I've never been either, and every now and then, not ever having been a bridesmaid kind of irks me more than never having been a bride*. Yes, I know -- I've saved hundreds of dollars on dresses, shoes, and all of the other ridiculousness that goes along with being asked to participate in a wedding. And then there's the fact that most of my close friends who have gotten married live clear across the country and it would have been a hardship to participate in their weddings as anything other than a proud and happy guest.

But being a bridesmaid is one of those milestones that nearly every girl/woman experiences, kind of like the prom. It's about having a dress you will never ever wear again hanging in your closet, the early morning session with a hairdresser molding your hair into an gravity-defying style, of being side by side with your friend on her special day. There's a lot to gripe about when it comes to this particular tradition, but the sentiment behind the asking, that's what I want to experience.

* Unless I meet Mr. Right, and then maybe not so much