December 03, 2002
Nonetheless, I have Barbie wallpaper on my work desktop.
Boston booked! Another leg of my Neil Finn winter tour confirmed, this time with Jen in attendance, and possibly the beau. Now I just have to get tickets for our Philly venture.
December 04, 2002
A brisk walk to work
A brisk walk to work today. My path takes me through Bryant Park, which is behind the gorgeous New York Public Library. A cluster of people by the fountain caught my eye, and I paused, struck by the sight that had captured them. During the night the falling water had frozen into a dense, crystalline chandelier of ice. Amazingly, the water was still flowing, falling into the pool below where its force kept the icy crust from forming completely.
Despair, Inc. This is a
Despair, Inc. This is a real company, with real products. Hilarious! Love the Demotivators and the Pessimist's Mug. As a joke, the company applied for, and received, a trademark for the :-( symbol. [Muchas gracias to the Escribitionist for the link.]
Method of Exercising a Cat. This, folks, is a real patent, although I am unsure of the seriousness of intent. But it's not cheap to apply for a patent, and the process is long and difficult - it takes years! Apparently I've been in violation for quite some time.
December 05, 2002
I just don't get the
I just don't get the whole bobblehead craze. Some guys in Minnesota are selling all manner of things Lutheran, including the Martin Luther Bobblehead. Handily, the box it comes in also doubles as a gelatin mold, so you can make Martin Luther Jell-O! I suppose there must be ones out there for Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed as well. [Thanks to Obscurestore for the heads up.]
December 09, 2002
There is the very real possibility of the subways being shut down next week. There's no way to overstate how bad this would be for the city, where many people don't even own a car, even outside of Manhattan. Those of us who live far out enough to commute by railroad will be okay - we had a talk in the department about who will keep the library going while the rest of us struggle to get in. Looks like I'll be doing extra work getting our daily serials checked in and circulated until the person who handles that can get to the office. It's actually illegal for the strike to take place, and the mayor will undoubtedly invoke the relevant statute. But the union(s) will strike anyway, in spite of the penalties that action would generate. The worst thing is that the strike will hurt the people who can least afford it, and it's not as if the city's financial crisis isn't already about to implode.
December 10, 2002
The merging of puzzles, mosaics,
The merging of puzzles, mosaics, Lego, and the personal touch : the Lego Mosaic. You upload a picture, tweak it how you like, and the Lego people will make a mosaic out of your image, which you then put together yourself. Oodles of fun!
December 11, 2002
A notorious spammer is getting all kinds of junk snail mail after some enterprising folks on the message boards at Slashdot dug up his home address. He cries, "They've signed me up for every advertising campaign and mailing list there is....These people are out of their minds. They're harassing me." Boo frickin' hoo! And the guy has the nerve to sic his attorney on the anti-spammers. How is it legally any different from what he's doing, and profiting by doing? Here's the story.
December 12, 2002
Dating is Really Really Hard
No matter what your age, no matter where you are - the process of finding a significant other, whether for right now or for life - it sucks, frankly. No, I was not one of those glittering social butterflies flitting about breezily, effortlessly gathering the boys like so many cards in a deck. I was, and still am really, a broody introvert, a wallflower of little generic, let alone particular, beauty - I'm more Mary than Eliza Bennet. I saw my friends seeming to date effortlessly; though I was happy for them, at the same time I was achingly jealous and felt more alone than ever. I felt left behind, that I had become an acquaintance of convenience, though I'm sure I was no picnic myself. I threw my energies into stillborn situations - morphine relationships that ultimately went nowhere, except for humiliation and heartbreak. What I should've realized sooner is that I needed to leave my friends to their newfound loves and carve out my own life, and make a happy one of it, regardless of whether I should gain someone's notice.
Of course, after swearing off the whole damn mess, and inflicting my own bit of pain, that's when I met Scott. It really is something of a minor miracle when you like someone and he, or she, actually likes you back.
So what prompted this line of thinking? Having read and watched Sex and the City, and recent articles about women having sometime boyfriends and girls in high school being lesbian lolitas in order to seem more attractive to guys - I realize my sheer dumb luck in climbing out of that pool. I am that much more determined not to be one of those Smug Marrieds who are all about their perfect lives of nauseating bliss.
It makes me incredibly happy to know that two of my dearest friends have recently found people they like. Because I want everybody I love to find their special someone.
December 13, 2002
I'm a Gryffindor! Guess
I'm a Gryffindor!
Guess I should get around to seeing Chamber of Secrets. ;)
I am now LadyCrumpet.com, so please note and revise your links.
December 15, 2002
Although I haven't written about it much, I've been following the news regarding the potential transit strike, which would kick in at 12:01 am tonight if the union decides to go through with it. Everybody here can't help but talk about it, and everybody's got their own take on it. Although these things happen, it seems hard not to be suspicious when you're stuck waiting an inordinate amount of time for each leg of your subway ride, and you only have minutes to spare to get to your railroad train, and it's the week before a possible strike.
There are those who are sure it's going to happen and are relishing the potential epic drama of it - the sight of people walking the city's bridges en masse, or riding their bicycles or carpooling - and everyone grumbling in typical New York fashion yet perversely enjoying the fact that we're tough enough to take on any hardship and no one's gonna bring us down. The mayor, who just bought a mountain bike for his commute from the Upper East Side to City Hall, is rather fixated on emphasizing how New Yorkers are going to die because the streets will be so clogged with traffic, emergency vehicles won't get to them in time. These are the people who don't want to think anyone's got one pulled over them - they know what's really going on - and don't even try to tell 'em otherwise. Then there are others who think the rest are Chicken Littles, small-minded rabble who don't have anything better to do than make idle speculations. They're going to sit back and enjoy being right, because the strike's not gonna happen. Everybody's making their predictions, but no one's betting money on it.
The more I've been reading about it though, mostly through the Times, I'm beginning to see why the transit workers are willing to stomach the penalties of gutwrenching fines against both the union and themselves (two days' pay for every day they're on strike). For instance, the MTA sends inspectors to check on employees who've called in sick, actually going to their houses. There are thousands of citations issued for all kinds of infractions, as if the workers are high schoolers in need of detentions. For tranporting more people and working with older equipment in dirtier and more dangerous situations than the railroad employees, the transit workers make less money. The MTA does claim, however, that although they make less money, their pensions are better. And why, even though the teachers, police, and firefighters got double-digit pay raises (that they all had to fight for, certainly), are the transit workers the ones being asked to make the sacrifice because the city's finances are going down the toilet? And it's not like the mayor or the governor, who is really the head of the MTA and should be more involved in this fracas, have come to the negotiating table.
Somewhere between the union's position and that of the MTA and the city, something can be worked out that everybody can live with. They've got to. It seems that the union would be more willing to work with management if they didn't feel treated as second-class (in comparison to teachers, the police and firefighters). It would have been the right thing for the mayor to have attended the funerals of two workers who died on the job in the last few weeks. The pay is obviously important to them, but it seems that what they also really want is to be accorded the same level of respect for the work they do in transporting millions of people safely and effectively, getting people to where they want to go.
As for me, I am selfishly hoping we'll have a little strike, at least long enough to get me out of having to have my project turned in on Tuesday. Ok, kidding, kidding!
December 16, 2002
A pop quiz:
The transit strike
a) won't happen, and my project is due tomorrow.
b) will happen, and my project is due at a later date.
c) will happen, but only after my project is due.
Answer: I'll let you know (because I'm sure you care). I'm between A and C.
Issues of respect have been addressed, so now it's all about the money. Negotiations continue. Between the countdown clock and the all-night coverage (which I did not stay up to watch) and talk of serious snow, the news has been unhelpful on both counts. I walked to work, the sun was shining, the air was temperate, there were police directing traffic and lanes cleared for bicycles - and I'm here at the office after a weekend of being cooped up in the lab and only having to show for it a bunch of articles and links that need to be massaged into a complete research guide. Soy un perdador as Beck might say. Guess I better start up on the caffeine this morning.
Happy Birthday, Jane!
Today is Jane Austen's 227th birthday. I raise my cup of coffee to you.
December 19, 2002
Quick answer: A
As we all now know, a strike was avoided, thank goodness. I lost sleep, but now I don't have to procrastinate over another project.
Tonight is my firm's holiday party. I hardly know anyone except those from my department, and frankly, I want to get away from squares who are perpetuating the librarian stereotype. I plan to try bourbon & coke, or bourbon & ginger ale. Maybe even both. Zeebah and I can sit back and snicker as people around us create gossip for tomorrow. And there'll be hors d'oeuvres! Not just pigs in blankets, mind you, but serious hoity-toity party food. Woo hoo!
Trains of thought The original headline today was going to be "Loop de Loop." Having no idea how it's spelt (yes I'm feeling pompous and Anglicized today), I thought I'd try a dictionary. That didn't work, so I went over to Google. The answer still eludes me at present, but the journey was not unfruitful, as listed below.
The lyrics to a childrens' song "Loop de Loop" (aka "Looby Loo" - how horrid).
And lastly, I learned of this through random blog-hopping:
December 20, 2002
Open bar and dim sum appetizers. One bourbon & ginger ale, three vodka tonics, and a sip of someone's woo-woo (a concoction with peach schnapps and cranberry juice, and something else I think) later, Lady Crumpet and her coworkers boogied on the dance floor to the Go-Go's, the Ramones, and the B-52s. Unfortunately that was one song apiece. The rest of the tunes were older oldies, no surprise, given the average age of the office crowd. I wonder if it's occurred to anyone yet that one could probably musically combine the Electric Slide and the Macarena and make a whole new scary dance hit. However, Zeebah and I found a way to dance to Sweet Caroline - yes, the Neil Diamond song, which I do like, really.
Bush Administration to Propose System
Bush Administration to Propose System for Monitoring Internet (NY Times, 12/20) They are "planning to propose requiring Internet service providers to help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users."
December 23, 2002
Linking Liability The article discusses the legal risks and proposes statutory immunity for linking. Currently, an individual could be subject to legal claims such as libel, invasion of privacy, or trademark or copyright infringement - just for providing a link.
Don't Link to Us! This blog by David E. Sorkin, a professor at the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, provides "links to sites that attempt to impose substantial restrictions on other sites that link to them." Public ridicule of stupid linking policies - what a great idea.
Don't Read Us According to its description, the Office of International Information Programs (IIP):
"is the principal international strategic communications service for the foreign affairs community. IIP designs, develops, and implements a variety of information initiatives and strategic communications programs, including Internet and print publications, traveling and electronically transmitted speaker programs, and information resource services. These reach--and are created strictly for--key international audiences, such as the media, government officials, opinion leaders, and the general public in more than 140 countries around the world." [Emphasis added]The Office, part of the Department of State, provides a list and links for its publications. Its aims for cultural diplomacy include Writers on America, a recent collection of essays by contemporary writers, including four Pulitzer Prize winners, who explain how some aspect of America or being an American has influenced their writing. But don't read them - they're not for consumption by an American audience.
December 24, 2002
This or That Tuesday, Holiday edition
1. Opening presents...rip 'em open with all abandon, or carefully open, preserving the pretty paper for recycling? If the paper's ugly, then I rip with abandon. If it's pretty, I open it carefully so I can save some of it for the scrapbook that I'll keep someday.
2. Do you and yours take turns, opening one gift at a time, or does everyone just rip into everything at the same time? Nobody takes turns; it's chaos in the living room, with the family dog barking excitedly.
3. If you get something you don't like...do you try to return it, or keep it so as not to hurt the giver's feelings? So far, the only thing I've returned is a Mariah Carey greatest hits cd; it was just something I had to do. But no one's given me anything so heinous that I couldn't put it somewhere and forget about it.
4. Do you spend the holiday at home (yours or someone else's), or do you go out and eat, see the newest movie, whatever? It's been a weird couple of years for us, so we try to do something outside the house. Our first year in New York I took Scott into the city, and we ended up seeing The Straight Story. Last year we visited my family. This year, since we can't go anywhere, we're gonna hang with Zeebah, Lauren and Sarah and we'll honor the day with an outing for LOTR: The Two Towers. (Woohoo!)
5. What do you do with Christmas cards after the holiday is over? Save them, or toss them? Save them! The ones I care about, anyway.
6. Cook Christmas dinner, or does someone else do that? Hah. Somebody else.
7. It's Christmas Eve, and you have run out of wrapping paper. Do you go out and buy more, or wrap the rest of the gifts in the Sunday comics? The comics, or tissue paper. I have rubber stamps so I can decorate plain surfaces.
8. On Christmas morning...up at the crack of dawn, eagerly anticipating the loot...or would you rather sleep in? Crack of dawn when I was a kid, but these days we sleep in. I still like the early Christmas mornings, though, when the whole day is ahead of you, and your favorite people are going to be there to spend it with you.
9. Do you want a white or a green Chrismas? The people who are all dreaming of a white Christmas better also be dreaming of shoveling all that white stuff. A light powder's okay by me, but the stuff that makes getting around a burden I'm not so keen on. Not when I have to go to work the next day.
10. Going to church on Christmas...yes or no? Going to see The Two Towers is my form of worship.
"Wir glauben ans Christkind"
Or, "We Believe in the Christ Child." Pro-Christkind is a group in Austria that seeks to remind their fellow Austrians that the Kristkind, the Christ child, is the true spirit of the holiday, not the more commercialized Santa Claus. The site's in German, but you can easily run it through a web translator and get an approximation of their message.
The Establishment "Claus" : A Selective Guide to the Supreme Court's Christmas Cases A "lighthearted guide to the literature concerning the Supreme Courtís analysis of the Establishment Clause as it relates to the Christmas holiday."
December 26, 2002
'Twas a good day, mostly. I got up early-ish, turned on The Yule Log, but with the volume down so I could play my own Christmas music. Nothing like hearing The Waitresses song, Christmas Wrapping, which was on just as I wrapped Scott's presents. I had to shoo him back to bed until I was done, so they were all nicely pretty for about, oh, two minutes.
Scott's mom knows me so well - among other things, she gave me a teapot wall calendar while Scott got a CD of Sinatra Christmas music (from the Capitol years, so "it doesn't suck" according to the dear husband). We popped in a tape of Meet Me in St. Louis and watched that for a bit while opening gifts and making phone calls to family.
Brief moment of "Arrrgh" here: I don't understand why my family cannot be bothered with a damned answering machine. They were home yesterday, but since I used a calling card for the phone call, the Caller ID indicated the call was from Denver. Since they "don't know anyone in Denver" they didn't bother to answer the phone, not even my sisters, whose cell phones you'd have to pry from their cold dead hands. Ok, I understand not picking up the phone if you don't recognize the number - but can they not give me an opportunity to leave a message? So they're thinking that I didn't try to call them on Christmas and I'm wondering why the hell they won't pick up my call. Now I have to call back and apologize after ranting at one sister, who said I should've called straight from the home phone or used my cell phone, and they would call me back. Ok, the matter of family aside, why do I have to call one or more of at least four phone numbers (1 home, 3 cell) in order to reach them? But I have to remember to just suck it up and take them for being the irrational, irritating people that they are - my family.
Brunched at IHOP and tipped the waitress extra for having to work on Christmas. Got on the road to Brooklyn for a holiday visit with Zeebah and her family unit - what should've been a 1.5 hour tour turned into a three hour exercise in madness. Never take shortcuts when the snow is covering the signs you need to read! Scott was a super good sport for driving around in the storm. We did make it, though, to our screening of LOTR: The Two Towers. A whole year until the next one, waaah!
Back in the snowstorm, navigating unplowed snowy icy roads. Few cars, which was fortunate. After all that, we got stuck in the road entrance to our building. But we managed to reverse out and part down the street in the supermarket lot next door. So a tiring, but memorable holiday. Whew!
December 27, 2002
1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year? Pulling off a long-distance wedding. Talk about project management!
2. What was your biggest disappointment? Not yet getting to pay a visit to my friends and their new baby. Soon hopefully!
3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions? Nothing formal. Too much pressure.
4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else? At a party perhaps, with the sweetie and glasses of bubbly.
5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions? No, but I should think of one. Any ideas?
December 29, 2002
I guess I must thrive on having to juggle spinning plates - my second (and last) free weekend, and I'm desperately trying to make the apartment presentable and attempt a home cooked dinner tonight. Even though there are no formal New Year's resolutions for me, we've simply got to cut down on going out to eat or getting takeout dinners. So this may be my year to really try to become a Domestic Goddess. (Hah!) If we're still on schedule, Jen's going to come 'round, we'll go get ingredients and/or supplies/gadgets, and with her amused/horrified/exasperated guidance I shall attempt something out of my new Jamie Oliver cookbook (a birthday gift from Jen). Scott's got a strong constitution, so he should survive my cooking. Okay, better get back to clearing and hoovering the living room. If only I could just hose the whole room!
Yesterday was playtime in the city. Brunch was in Tribeca at Bubby's. I've been wanting to try this place for forever. Eggs scrambled with smoked trout, home fries and toast for me, eggs, toast, bacon and melon for Scott. We saved room for pie - a fresh-tasting pear pie - yum. We found the downtown annex of The Strand and also did some cd hunting at J&R. The reason for coming into the city: a screening of Billy Wilder's The Apartment, which I'd never seen before. It's ultimately a comedy, so there was going to be a happy ending, but I didn't realize that during most of the movie - the dark, bleak underbelly of life for Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine gave me lumps in my throat, and you didn't necessarily get the feeling that things would work out they way they should, because real life isn't like that.
December 31, 2002
1. Stay in or go out on New Year's Eve? Going out on the town. Swanky dinner at Vong's, then maybe a party some friends are throwing. Lady Crumpet is getting dolled up!
2. If you stay home, do you stay up to ring in the new year, or fall asleep earlier? Stay up. There was the notorious year where we went to New Orleans for a party thrown in honor of some friends who had just eloped. We drove down from Atlanta on New Year's Eve and intended to head into the French Quarter that night to celebrate. But our post-drive nap turned into a full night of sleep. Ooops. We did make it to the party, though.
3. If you go out, do you prefer to attend a party at someone's home, or go to a bar/nightclub/restaurant? A private party - I'm not keen on celebrating with random strangers. Then again, we don't really know anybody but the hosts at this party, either.
4. Make resolutions, or do you not bother? I wasn't going to, but I'm jotting a list off the top of my head. Completely unbinding though, so as to avoid the guilt and pressure of keeping them.
5. Ever been to Times Square on New Year's Eve, or just watched the ball drop on TV? Our first year in NY we passed through the edges of Times Square. We rang in the new year on the train ride home. The conductor was jovial enough to let the passengers know when the clock struck midnight.
6. Toast the New Year with champagne or a soft drink? Oooh, bubbly, please!
7. Do you have a special New Year's dinner or not? My family would either make a special meal or we'd go out for dim sum. My mom said there was something about having special noodle dishes - the long noodles being symbolic for long life or something. Maybe we should go out (or eventually make!) a New Year's brunch.
8. Do you already have your 2003 calendar, or do you wait to buy one until the stores mark them down? My lovely mother-in-law (who insists I call her Mom) gives us each a calendar every year. Mine features collector teapots! (Yes, I squealed in delight when I unwrapped it.) Otherwise, I'll wait till the stores mark them down.
9. Take down Christmas decorations: before or after New Year's? We didn't put anything up this year, not even our cards. But theoretically, after New Year's.
10. Funny hats and noisemakers, or a quieter celebration? Silly hats and loud noisy toys!
So after being swamped and
So after being swamped and exhausted and not in the mood for months, we watched Iris. What is it with movies about writers and writing that don't bother to give you any of the writing? We're simply told that Iris Murdoch was this brilliant novelist who succumbed to Alzheimer's, but the film is really about Iris with Alzheimer's, with bits of young, uninhibited, naked Iris, and the older philosopher Iris who talks about writing. But all that's conveyed of her actual writing are scenes of old Iris scribbling on paper with a fountain pen, or carrying her last book and tossing it aside. Or in flashback, as a sheaf of papers for the young John Bayley to read. Although the film was aggravating, the performances from Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville were tops. Kate should've gotten the Oscar over the luminous but limited Jennifer Connelly. Arrrgh!
Ok, so here's one resolution: This year I'm going to read the novels of Iris Murdoch. I've been reading too much fluff this year, to the point that I gave up keeping a list of what I read, it was getting quite embarrassing.
A modest success
The first foray into home cooking turned out not unsuccessfully. Jamie Oliver's chili con carne, was tasty and filling. I forgot how to properly cut the onions, and mincing sun dried tomatoes in oil is definitely a hands-on experience. (Perhaps a food processor, or at least a mortar and pestle, should be a future investment.) Jen cheerfully provided moral support - we chatted and chopped, measured and stirred, scarfing crackers with olive tapenade and sipping bottles of black and tan. I got to use my little bowls to hold bits of spice, and there was the inaugural grinding of the pepper mill.
I like cooking as an interactive, social activity, I guess because I'm used to hanging out while my parents and sisters did the cooking. (I could only be trusted with minor tasks.) I'm so used to my family's rice cooker - need to remember 1 cup of rice goes with roughly 2 cups or water. We had mixed salad from a bag (though tossed by moi), and garnished the chili with shredded cheddar. Sunday night ended late, but we were happily full, and thankfully, Scott got the dishes going. Hurrah!