Saturday, February 24, 2007

To the top of the world (or nearly so)

Alex Voy, whom some of you know from her fabulous Trek fics, is blogging about her preparations to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro this year. And you know me -- I'm a sucker for a good mountain story. So go over there and root her on. This is way cool.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Note to self

Never, ever say something remotely negative about a mutual acquaintance. It will never, ever end well.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Tech post

For the record, I have NO idea why some of my posts' comment boxes says 'archived' instead of 'comment'. Usually, that transition happens at the 30-day mark, not the 30-second-after-publishing mark. I'll look into it, but I doubt it'll bug you guys as much as it bugs me.

I can't always claim originality on my links of the day, so today's tip of the hat goes to a friend who shall remain anonymous (unless ze outs hirself on this blog): The Crusie Mayer Writing Workshop 2007. I haven't had a chance to look at in-depth, but it's an online workshop, complete with a syllabus and articles on what worked for the writers in question. This week, they're discussing Point of View, which can be a pretty hairy topic. The topics on the syllabus look pretty neat and relevant. With the disclaimer that I haven't looked at it completely and thoroughly in place, the quick review suggests this site could be a good resource for those of us who need a kick in the pants to get going again.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I found this site called Six New Things. Every month, it tells you about 6 new things to do/see/appreciate in 70 locations, mostly US and Canada. The things range from new stores to art exhibits to new restaurants. It looks really cool. Anyway, just a head's up. :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Lifty thoughts

I spend about 5 to 10 minutes of every morning and every evening on the elevator. The elevator in the parking garage is a 5-story ride and mostly filled with people just like me -- disgruntled that it's morning and that we're crowded into a little box and hoping that the door doesn't open one more time to let even more people on. The parking garage ride is usually very quiet and no one smiles or makes eye contact.

The office ride is much longer and can be more pleasant. It's a 59-story express elevator, which is a really, really long time to spend ignoring the other people in the elevator with you. Plus, you end up riding up and down with the same people every day and so there's casual conversation every now and then. Then there's another elevator after that and it usually is grumpy, whether it's morning or afternoon, because there's nothing express about it; you stop to let people off, to let people on, and the more people the slower your ride down.

All of these elevator dynamics change at quitting time as everyone makes a spirited beeline to the lobby. The atmosphere is much more chatty and we make room for more and more people to squish in, as if we're in a contest to see how many people can fit in a single elevator. It's like we all finally woke up at the end of an 8-hour day and are ready to get on with the business of being a part of life.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

I finally got around to seeing this movie this past weekend and it was a delightful treat, much better than "Thank You For Smoking", which I'd originally been more interested in. "Little Miss Sunshine" is the most dysfunctional family movie around, but it's charming and sweet and funny in its own idiosyncratic way. The movie takes the old convention of a family roadtrip and spins it around, populating its yellow VW bus with a stressed out housewife, a failed motivational singer, a gay scholar who just tried to commit suicide, a Nietsche fan who doesn't speak, a grandfather with more than a few vices, and of course, Little Miss Sunshine herself, the effervescent Abigail Breslin.

The humor in the film starts out on a subtle note and becomes more and more slapstick and more predictable as the movie progresses, but somehow that didn't bother me. On the contrary, my amusement level grows as the roadtrip from hell means these disparate characters are forced to interact with each other on levels they're not used to, and how their relationships change and how they work together to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pagent is wonderful. The acting is very good, the dialogue is sharp and funny (though a note here on some bad language and adult humor -- despite the young main character, it's not a children's movie). Definitely one of my favorite movies of the Oscar season.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

My hips don't lie

In December, my aunt and I were having a conversation about taxes and I said that I was planning to do my own and then have my dad check them over. I've been doing my own taxes since I graduated from college. I first started using the workbooks and worksheets and have since gone on to software. I equate the process to how you have to learn how to add and subtract on paper before you move on to the calculator. During the course of our conversation, I mentioned to my aunt I was compiling a list of things every woman should know.

A lot of the things we came up with seem self-explanatory but it's amazing to me how many women will flinch from doing them or even learning how to do it. Knowledge, I think, is just as important as experience. I know the process of how to change oil in a car but that doesn't mean I'm going to change the oil in my car. It simply means I know what the mechanic ought to be doing and how to check his work and make sure that he did install a new oil filter. It's nice to have someone else to depend on who knows how to do some of these things or to pay someone else to do the work, but it's not always possible or affordable. Plus, I think there's a special kind of pride that comes with independence, the knowledge you can depend on yourself no matter what.

Most of the things we came up with fall into typical male gender roles -- finances (taxes, investing in the stock market), car related (Jump-starting a car, changing a tire, putting air into a tire) or yard work a(mowing the lawn). Those are the big ones in my mind because so often I hear other women telling me they leave those kinds of things to their significant others. I hate to be a downer, ladies, but what happens when the SO is no longer around? Women outlive men and tragedy is not the time to start learning some of these things that we traditionally delegate because it's not what we women traditionally do.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Modest is as modest does

I've been fascinated by Lydia of Purple at and not just because of the appallingly long URL. It's like a peek into a whole 'nother culture. While I'm all about not letting it all hang out, I wonder if dressing this old-fashioned (no, 1901 was NOT the height of fashion, I'm sorry) doesn't attract even more attention than simply wearing a long skirt and a sweater set. I do think the dresses with bloomers for little girls are adorable. I just wouldn't want to wear them when I've reached the double-digit ages.

I also learned about Ladies Against Feminism today and Prairie Muffins. It was a very educational day. I like coming face to face with beliefs that are not my own, but in this case, there wasn't even a challenge. I can't even imagine living a life like that described in the Prairie Muffin Manifesto; I'm way too snarky, moody, cranky, and selfish to set a good example for anyone.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Microsoft is offering free 60-day trials of their new 2007 Office Suite over here. You can also find out which product you are over here. Not surprisingly, loquocious me came out as MS Word 2007.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


This story about the astronaut hunting down her rival for the affections of another astronaut is just so... weird. So Jerry Springer. I heard lots of people talk about it today, and most people just couldn't believe it and a friend opined that it was the water down in Clearlake (where NASA is) that caused the astronaut to get in her car and drive to Florida, apparently wearing a trench coat, a wig, and a diaper.

A woman at the Y kept saying, "But she's an ASTRO-NOUGHT, an ASTRO-NOUGHT. ASTRO-NOUGHTS don't do things like that." And because I couldn't take the high pitched capitalized pronounciation of ASTRO-NOUGHT for a second longer, I said, "This is what happens to people who hang out in places without atmosphere."

There was silence. Sometimes, I really do just kill a room.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Sunday

I spent most of Super Bowl Sunday with a massive headache due to standing way too close to a space heater Saturday night (this is my only explanation as a) I went to bed around 11, b) I didn't have anything to drink at all and c) I didn't inhale any second hand smoke). As a result, I was completely out of it for the game and it took me until nearly halftime to realize who was actually playing (I'm still not sure -- the Colts and someone else, right?). A friend tried to explain to me what a time-out was and why the red flag was actually yellow, but I was more interested in a bottle of Advil at the moment and waved off the explanation.

What I did enjoy was the halftime show -- Yeah Prince! -- and the commercials. My favorite commercial would have to be a Bud Light (Budweiser?) commercial when this couple is driving down a dark road and they pick up a hitchhiker who is carrying both a six pack and an axe. That was pretty funny. As was the Oprah and David Letterman bit. And a couple of the Dorito commercials. It's the first Super Bowl I've seen since the infamous Janet reveal and it was fun, but I was more than ready to call it a night after halftime. I'm sorry, football fans, but I just can't get into your game.

ps. Don't stand too close to an oil-fired space heater. You'll thank me in the morning.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Statute of Limitations

Anyone who knows me well knows there's nothing I like better than an all expense-paid guilt trip. I will feel guilty about anything and everything, some of it valid but mostly not. If I step on your foot by accident, you can be sure I'll feel guilty about it for the next two weeks and I will discuss to death whether or not you really accepted my apology and oh God, what could I have done better as to have avoided the foot-step in the first place?

But at some point, it's time to let go. Sometimes, I ruminate for only a few minutes, other times for hours, and every now and then for months and years. There's no hard and fast rule, but usually when it comes to other people, especially people I've cared about, the guilt lingers a lot longer. There are definitely ways I've acted, things that I've done, that I wish I could take back. Sometimes I felt forced into acting a certain way that was unlike myself, sometimes I did it all on my own with no provocation. The end result is that someone is hurt and it is, to an extent, my fault.

My goal is always to treat people the way I want to be treated. I fall short of that. When I fall short, I feel guilty. I'd like nothing more than to beg forgiveness from the people in question, but it's not realistic, it's not practical. Sometimes forgiving myself is really what's needed to move on. There's no reason to re-open a situation and discuss it to death, when there's nothing to be gained and even sadder, nothing to be lost. Especially when you take time into consideration, that the people who have been hurt have found their ways to cope and move on without you. There's never an absolution, but I'm pretty sure there's no need because what we want most from the people we hurt is the one thing they can never truly give us to our satisfaction.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

God sleeps in Rwanda

The Fainter and I went to see God Sleeps in Rwanda at the Holocaust Museum the other night and I've spent the last two days kind of processing the very idea that we were sitting in a HOLOCAUST MUSEUM watching a film about genocide that happened only 12 years ago and that there is a genocide going on RIGHT NOW in the Sudan. Sometimes I think we say we'll never forget and then we do, because it's happening somewhere else to people who aren't us and whom we have no real connection to. What I find incredible is how no one in the international community acted. Could someone somewhere have done something to stop the machete-killing spree? Who knows? It's impossible to second-guess, but to have done nothing at all...

The film itself is more uplifting than you'd think it'd be. It's about women in Rwanda, what happened to them during the genocide, and then how they've managed to move ahead and not only that, gain greater rights and equality in Rwandan society than they've ever had before. As someone pointed out on Tuesday evening, it's a tragic irony that nearly a million people had to die in 100 days in order for women to make these strides for it wouldn't have happened otherwise.

If you have a moment, you can send an email to your congress person about Darfur. If you go to, they have a form letter and all you have to do is fill in your name and your zip code and they'll send off the email. It'll take two minutes of your time. The one good thing here is that President Bush has recognized what's happening in the Sudan as genocide; President Clinton never acknowledged that in Rwanda until many years later. So while we have the President's attention, go ahead and fill out the email and maybe this time we can do something.