Saturday, March 31, 2007

Msing Something

So, honestly now, I'm in a bit of a quandary. Not that that would bad per se - it's a nice word really; sounds like a sort of Lewis Carrollesque* type place with improbable animals floating around and talking in mathematical riddles. Besides, it's not really a big quandary, it's just a sort of niggling one (another fine word).

*How sad am I to Google Lewis Carroll to make sure I had the correct number of r's and l's, while misspelling quandary twice? Oh, and on Carroll? I got it right all by myself.

It's filling out forms that gets me. What am I now? Not Miss... haven't been that for a very long time and I don't really want to try now. It would sort of be like putting on a pair of jeans from high-school: an uncomfortable fit, and sadly inappropriate. I know some widows (NOT a nice word) use Mrs still, but that entails explanations sometimes. So - Ms? But I don't really like Ms. It's got baggage of its own for one thing, and for another it's really pretty ugly. It looks all truncated and angry on the page, and spoken it's just a nasally buzz.

Throwing out a fourth category just for women seems a little selfish though when men have to make do with the catchall Mr. Besides, political correctness has lumbered us with too many cautious alternatives to labels and conditions and things. Still maybe it's the answer.

The question is, what?

I suggest: Msn't

Monday, March 26, 2007

Random Monday Notes

Piercings, tattoos, unwashed hair, goat-inspired facial growths and saggy black clothing even in combination still cannot overcome a genetic heritage of baby-fat cheeks and a slightly receding chin. Sorry, you just end up looking like a slightly cranky but still lovable hamster.

There is no minor sin more egregious than that of not flushing a public toilet. Just saying.*

*note... sin is magnified if the toilet stall in question is the Prime Toilet Stall, the one whose door still latches and everything.

Americans are unbelievably naive. Apparently we're all stunned that a woman who spent her adult life in a slow, very public journey of self-destruction somehow managed to die of an accidental drug overdose. I mean, who saw that coming?

I still believe BBC news headline writers are superb. Viz today's use of, "EU snaps up Gaza croc woman," to sum up the story of a Palestinian woman trying to smuggled live crocodiles under her dress.

ETA: To get credit for massive self-restraint.

I did not post on the display order of the following books:
"Wine for Dummies" "Sex for Dummies" "Potty-training for Dummies"
however, truth forces me to admit that I've changed the order...

AND I'm not really posting on the man on Antiques Roadshow from Mobile Alabama who attended an auction to buy shawtguuuuns and ended up with 'spensive blew joooars.' Well, not really....

... okay, I AM! I'm posting on this man because he's amazing! And his expensive blue jars are worth $4,000. Wonder how much he would have paid for the shawtguuuuns?

Friday, March 23, 2007


I couldn't believe what I saw this morning. Haven't seen one of those in years - in fact I thought there was only one in the world (who would make two?). I only saw it for a moment; it turned left and lumbered away. But it was enough to spark off the automotive memories.

We had a lot of cars in our time. Quickly adding up... 12.5 in our marriage of 15 years (the .5 is for a mini-van neither of us wanted that we drove for two weeks before finding out it had multiple-personality disorder and was also probably a bio-hazard. The kids loved it). It started before that though, and I present: The Cars We Dated In.

19-scary-something Brown Cutlass Pimp Car: First car Kirk every drove me home in. It was his father's actually since Kirk had just gotten back from Thailand and hadn't yet replaced his own car that had been stolen while he was away.

Anonymous Tan Truck: Actually, this belonged to one of Kirk's best friends, the one I called Wookie. They had thrown a lot of egg-crate foam things in the back to make it more comfortable, and spent happy afternoons four-wheeling out in the desert. Wookie's main goal was to crack the heads of the unfortunates in the back against the ceiling. He was very good. My main memory of this truck though is that with great determination we managed to kiss extensively under those circumstances. Can't imagine now how we did that - suction?

Yellow Datsun: Hideous car, constantly breaking down, and fitted out with furry gray seat covers. However, two important things about it - one, it's the car we got engaged in (Halloween night, Kirk dressed as a punk-rocker. The driver's furry gray seat was always a little purple on the head-rest after that night) two, it introduced me to Kirk's amazing ability to kill cars viz: 'Kirk, my dad's VW made that noise right before it threw a rod. Do you think we should check it?' 'Nah, it'll be fine!' *catastrophic clunk and complete engine failure* '[unmentionable verbiage]'

Green Van: Wookie replaced his truck with this. Really awful thing - a sort of avocado green with a white stripe all the way around it. But it was huge, he could throw all of his camping gear AND all of his friends into it, and it had tinted windows. We called it The Love Melon. I think I only rode in it twice - it also came with a very unusual smell.

But that's what I saw this morning - a Love Melon sailing down the main street as though it didn't know how anachronistic it was. And the first thing I thought?

I cant wait to tell Kirk I saw this thing!

I have my anachronistic moments as well.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Media Conspiracy

There was a while there when I was pretty sure the media was out to get me. Well, there was the day or two when they were literally out to get me, and camped outside my door and tried to film my children and shoved business cards in my friends's hands, but that was different. This is the entertainment media - specifically television.

Surely I'm not the only one who noticed, but for a bit wasn't there a time when half the schedule looked like:

"Cold Case Files"
"Without a Trace"

Then I think there were about a dozen or so versions of CSI (CSI Tulsa! CSI Baton Rouge!) and... for heaven's sake, how many Law and Order versions are there now?

Thank goodness a lot of those didn't make the ratings and have, well, disappeared.

Now we're mostly back to the reality shows about how tough it is when someone takes away your toilet paper, because it's lots of fun to see how people cope with real trials.

Yeah. I'm pretty sure the media is out to get me.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Used Up My Brain At The Interviews

So I only broke down and got a cell phone recently. I finally decided that yes, regardless of all the excellent arguments to the contrary, it might be a reasonable idea to have the kids able to contact me in an emergency. Also I've found it handy when being picked up at airports and things as rides can then actually find me. Who knew?

But the whole cell phone thing isn't quite part of my psyche yet, so when packing to leave I tend to have at least four panicked moments of where's-my-cell-phone. This time I got smart though, I called myself.

Now, luckily I had taken the phone off silent (interview) mode, and returned it to just-barely-ring mode, so if I listened really really carefully I would be able to hear it. Probably. So I dialed myself. Now, I'm a reasonably thoughtful guest, and this would be a long-distance call. I didn't want it to actually go to voice mail or anything, so I had to let it ring four times and then hang up really quickly.

I spent several rounds of this wandering through the place, thinking 'is it getting louder? No, I think it was louder over here...' then wandering back again. I had definitely ruled out the kitchen, dining-room and bathroom, and was standing in the bedroom wondering if I should look under the bed for the third time, when I noticed something.

Yes, I found it.

In my pocket.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

pantyhose postscript

Does anyone know why certain airlines put pantyhose destruction booby traps on their seats?

Bad enough that the man next to me was hogging the armrest and infringing at least two inches into my personal space, but when I shift my left leg back a bit I'm suddenly struggling in the grips of a strip of super-velcro that's seized my calf and wont let go! I can either try to release the tiny hooks one by one without further damaging the pantyhose, or do one great rip (sort of like tearing off a bandaid) and resign myself to an enormous hole on my left leg. I settle for middle ground and end up with no holes or runs, but a sort of fuzzy/liney effect on my calf.


The rest of the flight went well.

Until the armrest hog next to me began to snore.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Why I'm not going to post about pantyhose

I did think about it, and felt I should do it because I kind of sort of promised at the end of the last post, but you all don't need to know that, do you?

You don't need to know that I'm 5'7" and I weigh... I dunno... about 125 or 130 pounds or so? Which puts me right on that marginal place between one pantyhose size and the next one up.

(Which brings up the point that I think clothes manufacturers, at least those for the southerly areas of the body, go by area covered more than anything. So with my shape I have a choice between either fall-off-the-hips too big around, but long enough to cover my socks, or just fine around the waist, but flashing my knees to the world every time I sit down. I am particularly irritated that my super-cheap Costco flannel comfy pants leave my ankles to the cool breezes! Stupid clothing manufacturers...)

.... so anyway, the point is you don't really need to know that I am chronically torn between two imagined pantyhose extremes. In one, I buy the smaller size and have that horrible feeling that they'll shoot off towards my feet with a "twang!!!!" right in the middle of an important meeting. In the other, I end up with the larger size, hoisting the waistband up to my armpits in a vain attempt to avoid elephant wrinkles around my knees and ankles. Neither has ever happened, but they could, and dithering between two equally dreadful outcomes makes pantyhose buying a dreadful ordeal.

Aren't you glad I spared you?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Modifying Insanity

I like to think I'm not the only crazy person out there. Surely there are others like me, others who say things like "hey! Let's completely cover a bodice with hand-beading for a six-year-old's halloween costume!" or "gee, it really does sound like a great idea to design and craft a dozen or so three-dimensional, watercolored pop-up invitations to a birthday party!"

So, I'm going to just assume that somewhere out there is someone else who decides it's a brilliant idea to cut their hair mere days before two major job interviews AND to do it themselves. For those people, the following tips:

1. Start with very long hair. This leaves much room for error.
2. Try to finish with slightly less long but still quite long hair.
3. Particularly keep #2 in mind every time you go to 'even things up' because that's the sort of perfectionism that results in unintentional mullets.
3. Cut your hair dry if possible. For those of us blessed with naturally curly hair (and let's all spare a moment now for that little girl in the Peanuts who probably only had that brief period of time to actually like her hair) straighten it if you can, if not, sigh and just do the thing wet. But dry is good since you can see at once what damage you've done.
4. Cheat. In my case this involved looking like a complete idiot while juggling scissors, comb and a metal ruler.
5. Cut small sections that are close together in both latitude and longitude - that bit should probably all be about the same length, right, and possibly around the same length as the bit next to it... and so on.
6. Nice tip is to twist the little sections tightly up, then cut on the twist. This makes the cut a little less AUGH! IT'S A HUGE STRAIGHT BOX OF HAIR!!
7. Cut on a day when you have at least three days before leaving for said interviews. That way someone else can come along and fix whatever you did.

However, if once I wash it and fuss with it it still looks like it does at the moment, I think I might have just gotten away with it this time. I look pretty good!

Tune in tomorrow. I might have really exciting tips about buying pantyhose.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Ms Direction

The building in which I work (ooooh, I'm a grammar goddess! Did you see that "in which" construction?) has a few peculiarities. There is the unfortunate tendency to leak when it rains which I've mentioned before, but that's structural and apparently nothing can be done. But there's a really strange bit that no one has an explanation for. (darn it, lost goddess status by ending sentence with 'for')

When you head out of the stairwell, you're faced with two options, unsurprisingly, right and left (okay, West and East for the fussy). But someone, in their wisdom, decided that all the East offices would be odd numbered, and all the West would be even.

This has, oddly enough, caused a little bit of confusion.

So there is a large sign posted just outside of the stairs saying, in firm white text: Odd ---> and so forth. Clearly this isn't enough, because beneath it is often a paper sign shouting in bold "Odd numbered offices are to the LEFT do not remove this sign." Naturally the sign has to be replaced every few weeks or so because some bright button takes it down.

This, in theory should be enough, but at least once a day some poor lost soul with big pathetic eyes shows up at the front desk and lisps "Th'cuthe me, but I was looking for..." and has to be pointed gently in the right direction.

Note that this is three levels of intervention - two signs and a front desk gargoyle whose sole job (okay, not sole job, but part of job) is to intercept the lost and forlorn and reorient them. However, nothing overcomes the inherent cluelessness of two sub-categories: the undergraduate, and the text-book salesman.

To get to my door you have to really try. You have to go through the front door, down the hall, round two corners, all the way to the end and to the left (dang, I just led the stalkers right to me!). Yet at least once or twice a week some poor lost lamb pokes its little head around my door and bleats "is this [instructor/professor]'s office?" and then has to be firmly sent on its way.

But the undergraduates are nothing compared to the text book people. These folks have little wheely bags that either contain samples of their wares (Anthologies! Grammars! Criticisms!), or possibly bribes in unmarked bills (this honestly just now occurred to me. Believe me, I'm frisking these people thoroughly before I let them go next time.). The men all look a lot like Gil, the sad act desperate sales-guy from the Simpsons, while the women all look like the frighteningly successful real estate woman from ditto. They have a firm, we-workshopped-this-knock address to the door, and a beaming, freshly Crest-stripped smile when you answer. Most of them, when you announce that no, you actually are not someone who will be assigning a text book for an upcoming course, will give you an insincere but rapid farewell. But not the last one.

"I'm sorry, I'm the web designer."

"I see. So you don't teach any classes?"

"Well, I think they'd notice if I tried."

"Do you try?" (hopefully - hey, she might still be a target!)

"Um, no. You see, they wouldn't pay me if I did that, and no one would be in the class, so I'd just be talking to myself."

"Oh." Dejected, but trying to make the last five minutes less than a complete waste, "well, if you did teach, what would your specialty be?"


"Sales and marketing. I'll let you know if I decide to list the course!"

And... poor guy... he thanked me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


It's funny how context changes things, how something has an entirely different meaning simply because it's plonked down next to one thing or another.

Take the Rolling Stone issue that has Ryan and Kirk's story in.

The cover headline, the one meant to sell the issue, is "FALL OUT BOY (in white outlined red type, serif font, all caps) The Fabulous Life, the Secret Torment of America's Hottest Band" which must relate directly to the cover image.

Now, I admit I'm, older - (00h, watch me rationalize!) slightly above the age of Fall Out Boy's primary marketing audience and therefore my reaction to their branding is just possibly both outside the desired effect and not of interest to their handlers/image boffins. However, the picture, in context with the headline made me immediately figure that the secret torment was perhaps directly related to Far Left Guy's lousy taste in glasses, his slightly rat-nibbled facial hair, and his unfortunate do, or Center Left Guy's inexplicable desire to resurrect the 80's fedora (none of us need that), or Center Right and Sex God For the Band Guy's... sorry, kind of stupid tattoos (come on, "unlovable," combined with heart-shaped lock, combined with coffin combined with wings?) or even Far Right Guy's utter lack of personality.

But then, add that headline to the boxed in story below it: "Death of a Contractor: Greed and Murder in Iraq's Lawless Desert" and, well, doesn't it sort of make any fabulous life or secret torment these 20-some-year-olds might be coping with a little... well... trivial?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Constructed Criticism

At the coffee shop:

Earnest Girl 1: It's just irresponsible to keep talking about it. Everyone should, like, shut up about her.

Earnest Girl 2: I know. How many times do we have to hear about her now? It's not like she did anything important.

Earnest Girl 1: Exactly. Like, she didn't, like, cure anything or anything. She didn't, like, speak for peace or have a cause or anything.

Earnest Girl 2: Yah. I mean, she like, had really big boobs.

Earnest Girl 1: Yeah. And they weren't even real, you know? So, she's like famous for something that was all fake.

Earnest Girl 2: For real?

Earnest Girl 1: What, you thought those were real?

Earnest Girl 2: No, I like, no...

Earnest Girl 1: Serious. Like, look, I'll google it, they're so fake!

Earnest Girl 2: Oh my god! Look at those!

*** several minutes of expository dialogue complete with Googled illustrations on: silicon vs saline, how many sizes up is too many, incision sites and scarring, tasteful vs non tasteful enlargements (DD appears to be the deciding line) and whether art in nudity should or should not depend on the natural state of the accessories in question, all directly relating back to the individual under discussion***

Earnest Girl 1: And they still, like talk about her all the time. I mean, give it a rest.

Earnest Girl 2: I know. I'm so over it. I don't know why they don't just, like let it go.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

People Watching - Bookstore

I remember hearing an actor once... somewhere... in some context I can't remember now... saying they've met people and thought, if I tried to put that on stage, no one would believe it, it's too extreme. Nice to know it's not just my town!

Book store the other day, doing some quiet work, the chair next to me was taken by a man about sixty-five. He was wearing high-heeled boots, big stacked heels at least three inches high. I admit, he worked them though, not a stagger, not a wobble, complete confidence. And even with the boots he was still a good inch or so shorter than I.

He snuggled himself firmly into the chair and screwed tiny ear bud headphones into his ears, then turned his ipod up to full. Immediately, the music took him. He writhed, he quivered, he shimmied in his chair while the tinny tones of whatever he was listening to drum-thumped audibly.

He had exceptionally long, slim fingers, and as the music rose and fell he tapped out rhythms on his "learn Spanish!" cd-rom box. This sort of performance is usually accompanied by a deliberate lack of awareness: eyes firmly closed, person utterly oblivious to the world around. Not him though. He kept craning his neck around to see who was watching, trying to catch people's eyes.

Since I was right next to him, I was the obvious victim. But I'm one of those, "oh please, don't embarrass me by pointing out your humanity, 'cause then I'll have to admit to mine," people, and I'm practiced in this sort of thing. After all, I've managed to avoid Hari-Krishna man for over a year now. So I quietly worked on my computer as though there wasn't an ear-muffled concert going on a few feet away, as though Carmen Miranda minus the tutti-frutti hat hadn't plonked herself down in male form in the chair next to mine. He escalated, I added a frown of concentration. He began chair-dancing subtly closer and closer to my side. I shifted to present him with 10% more of my back.

Eventually he got fed up and stood to leave. I didn't have a clear victory though. As he got up he stretched extravagantly, and when I looked involuntarily up he winked broadly.

"Don't you just love the Monkees?" He asked.

Oh, I do, I really do.