November 01, 2004
Our heroine holds in her hand a precious spark, whose source lies in the heart of the original divine flame brought down from Mt. Olympus - the gift of Prometheus to humankind. Using both the Spark of Knowledge and her uncanny ability to read minds, Lady Crumpet indefatigably pursues her mission: to help her fellow truth-seekers fulfill their quests, and requests, for information.
At the Carwash
I'm not so great at car maintenance. Yeah, big shock there. I've had bumper stickers I've been wanting to put on, for like, years, so after getting a neat new sticker from Clunky Robot, I felt compelled to give the car a good scrubbing.
Oftentimes I have the idea to do something for a long time, but I never get around to it, until I just get fed up with myself and do it. Oftentimes it's like giving myself a kick in the pants - but there's got to be a better way to motivate myself to do things other than being pissed off enough, to give myself the energy to shake out of my usual torpor. It's not pleasant for me, nor for those around me, when I'm in these sort of moods.
It's one of those DIY places. Six quarters to wet, scrub, and rinse the car using the nozzles and brushes available in each stall. Maybe I can be quicker next time, but I had to throw in another $1.50 because the car was all soaped up when the time expired. Didn't help that immediately after paying I dropped the rest of my film canister with spare quarters on the ground. Good going, loser. But it was a nice afternoon - 70-degree weather at the end of October. A lot of people had the same idea - we were all washing and scrubbing away.
Afterwards, I moved the car over to one of the vacuum posts. Years of dirt got sucked up by the giant nozzle. My sister had loaned me a couple of containers of special wipes to use on the car's interior - kind of like those Clorox or Lysol disposable wipes. I don't know how many I used - each piece was filthy. But after it was all done, I felt good, that I had done something useful and productive. I looked forward to putting on my bumper stickers later.
I had a weird sighting though. At another vacuum post a woman was cleaning out her Volkswagen Golf. The guy who was with her sat in a fold out chair, listening to his music and reading, basically hanging out while she worked on her car. Don't know how the guy was related to her - relative or friend. Don't know the circumstances, either. Maybe there was a good reason he sat on his ass, not helping. The woman moved her car to another vacuum post, maybe to work on the other side of the car (the hoses are only so positionable as you get to the far side of the car). Again, he sat while she worked on the car. It was big of him, though, to help put his chair away once she was done and ready to go.
November 02, 2004
Vote or Shut Up
I voted last week by absentee ballot. I'd like to feel my vote counts, but this state bleeds red. Still, I did it.
I've been steeling myself to expect problems, that there won't be a definitive result at the end of the night. To expect the worst, if there is a result. I'm feeling pretty malevolent and pessimistic about the ability of my fellow citizens to be responsible, rational people. I guess we'll see what happens.
You're Only A Day Away
Ok, the sun will come out tomorrow. If not locally, then somewhere. The world will not end. I will still be here, even though I'm feeling bleak, because I don't dare hope that things will change. To have hope is to risk heartbreak. I only have direct control to change my own life, and heck, I need to do a better job at that. Today, not tomorrow.
I find it hard to have faith, to believe in the goodness of others, not just the bad. To believe in myself is a regular struggle. But despite everything, despite the differences we have and the flaws that still need to be resolved, we believe in democracy. We believe in it so inherently that we take it for granted. It makes me sad and angry that more people don't exercise their right to vote. But it's good to see that more people bother to care this time around.
Paul Krugman's Election Day column is worth reading, regardless of one's political leanings. The worst one can say is that it's maybe a little bit sappy. But I'll take it.
November 03, 2004
I changed train cars last night because of an asinine conversation between a woman and a homeless man. She took the opportunity to complain how Marta has no money to maintain the system, evidenced by our train being held at a station, and he complained about how Marta needs to make sure the bathrooms are open more often, because "when you got to go, you GOT to go!" Then she asked him whether he voted. He said "For who? For what?"
At this point I got up and moved. I just wanted to ride home in peace and quiet, especially on this day. I didn't want to hear pointless discussions by people who think they're all enlightened for
talking to lecturing a homeless person when they have absolutely no interest in helping that person. Shut up and quit being an asshole.
This morning it was really quiet on the train. People seemed pretty glum and resigned. Or maybe it was just me, trying and failing to hold back tears.
Resolved, Not Resigned
Inconsolable, perhaps. But after thinking about it more precisely, I'm not resigned. I'd like to see Ohio's election results thoroughly accounted for, including these provisional ballots. Even though the statistical projection means that the current administration is already declaring victory, I don't want Kerry and Edwards to concede just yet. We've been here before. Whatever the outcome, I want to trust that Ohio has taken every step it can to verify the complete (and not merely projected) results of a true and accurate election.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still angry that we got stuck with this smirking chimp in the first place. I still think there are a lot of gullible people in this country, who wrap themselves in the flag and in their faith and manage to be hateful, selfish and small-minded anyway. I'm disappointed by the apathy, by these fence-sitters who couldn't decide to decide, but whatever. I think the country is in horrible shape right now, but maybe things will have to get even worse before they get better. Maybe more people will have to experience personal loss or hardship in order to realize that there needs to be change. If we're fortunate, the press won't be cowed by the administration again. And this time, bloggers will be around to nip at everybody's heels.
Yeah, I feel like I've been hit in the solar plexus. I feel grim - that I'll be gritting my teeth for the next four years - or longer, depending how bad things continue to get. But we can't give up. We can't let our spirits be crushed beneath the policy tanks of this administration.
Don't Mourn, Organize [Daily Kos]
UPDATE: Kery just conceded. Fuck fuck fuck. Well, OK then. We'll just have to keep fighting.
So I watched Kerry's speech this afternoon. I'd planned to watch on the web or listen to NPR but one of my coworkers had a small television. We crammed into her office. I sat on the floor, holding my head.
I'm pretty sure everyone else in the department is Republican, but they're nice people. I like them a lot. I like them even more for not gloating and rubbing this in my face.
I tried not to cry, but I did. The leaky-eye kind of crying, not the hiccupy-hyperventilating-choking sobbing. I had steeled myself, after all, hoping against hope that I'd be wrong. That's the thing about being a pessimist - you're never disappointed. Still, I would rather not have been emotional in front of my boss and my coworkers, even though we're a close-knit department.
For all that I wished I could've been passionate about Kerry, I didn't wish this moment on him either. Even Sunshine Edwards couldn't hide the sadness in his eyes. Damn it, leaky eyes again....
If the rest of my department watched Bush's speech, they were kind enough not to invite me.
November 05, 2004
Consider Me Mobilized
I have to do something. I don't know what, but I cannot sit through another four years stewing. This is an improvement for me from the last few days, when I wished horrible things would happen to people in their snug little homes in the red states, since they have such a fetish for terrorism on their doorsteps. There are good people out there, even if they have persuaded themselves to go with their impressions instead of subtance. We have to somehow connect with the moderates, break through the labels and stereotypes that are fed to them and show that we aren't elitists who look down on them, that we too are good people, that we have moral values and care about a lot of the same things that they do. We have to do better at mobilizing our own base, and demonstrate to progressives and independents that we actually have something to offer by joining forces. And actually offer something, not just pay lip service.
I've been guilty of thinking that people "out there" are stupid lemmings - even though I'm living amongst these people. I really don't relate to those who feel that their god has a hand in everything they do; sometimes I wonder what's the difference between having faith and being crazy. That doesn't mean I'm better than these people - but they aren't better than me, either, no matter that their faith gives them cause for arrogance and assertions of moral superiority. To my mind, true faith requires humility and living your life accordingly. It's a good way to live one's life, whatever your beliefs.
I'm pretty consumed by politics right now, but I don't intend that it will become the focus of the Armoire either.
November 07, 2004
Antickes and Frets
Or, "A Work of Halloween Fiction" by Susanna Clarke, who's currently promoting her book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It was published last week in the op-ed section of the NYT, but I'm only now getting around to posting the link. Enjoy.
The Postal Service Presents...The Postal Service
Postal Service Tale: Indie Rock, Snail Mail and Trademark Law [NYT] [Bugmenot] I really, really like Give Up, the album from The Postal Service. (Thanks, mrw, for introducing me.) It didn't occur to me that this name is trademarked by the US Postal Service - the folks who deliver our snail mail. Didn't occur to the band, either. They received a polite cease-and-desist letter, but a deal was worked out. From the article:
The outcome was as unusual as the band itself: this week the United States Postal Service - the real one, as in stamps and letters - signed an agreement with Sub Pop [the band's record company] granting a free license to use the name in exchange for working to promote using the mail. Future copies of the album and the group's follow-up work will have a notice about the trademark, while the federal Postal Service will sell the band's CD's on its Web site, potentially earning a profit. The band may do some television commercials for the post office.
The group also agreed to perform at the postmaster general's annual National Executive Conference in Washington on Nov. 17. The attendees might not realize what a rare treat they are in for since the Postal Service does not play many gigs. Mr. [Jimmy] Tamborello and Mr. [Ben] Gibbard are busy with their regular bands: Dntel, with its atmospheric electronic dance music, and Death Cab for Cutie, which has become a college rock favorite for its heartfelt, jangly punk rock known as emo.
I love creative, amicable legal solutions. No, really. I think this result is awesome. So - can anyone hook me up with a ticket for the show? ;)
November 08, 2004
Best in Show
obsession passion, there is a community to support it. I was at a cat show this weekend to support a friend's mom who was showing her housecat. He's an easygoing fellow, very appreciative of attention. He's gorgeous and in great shape for being 14 and a half, a detail that came up again and again. (There were six rounds of judging over two days, intermingled with judging for the pedigreed animals as well.) He ended up winning Best Household Pet. The cat was unflappable; his mother hooted and hollered so that the entire exhibitors' hall heard her. She swears up and down that he knows he's a winner, but he looked about as excited as I felt being there. But it was his time, after being shown for years. I'd like to think he'll have a nice retirement, but I suspect he'll be back.
I envied the cat for having a place to curl up and sleep all day. His mom, however, was really, really, really thrilled his victory. As she should be, given that she's dealing with breast cancer and recent kidney failure this year. I don't know how she managed to keep up over the last two days. I'm reasonably healthy, and I'm still exhausted. Which is weird - there's not a lot of physical activity. You set up the cage - meaning that you decorate it. (People go all out.) You sit around most of the time, unless you get up to walk around and look at the other cats, or to head to the judging rounds. There's lots of time for cat grooming, although there's always that last minute flurry right before going to the judging ring, cleaning ears and butt, combing and using a chamois cloth to rub down the cat.
I didn't really do anything that her husband couldn't do. He's actually quite good at handling the cat and presenting him when the judges would ask the owners to come up and talk about their pets. I felt obliged, because I really haven't done much to help them beyond a few things here and there. So I came along as moral support, as a companion, as a momentary ease to my conscience. Giving up my whole weekend was the least I could do.
It wasn't all work - I enjoyed seeing unusual breeds up close, and cute kittens, and what new kitty tchotchkes were on the market. There is a lot of tacky stuff out there. You'd think that the glittery pins with flashing, strobe-like, stroke-inducing lights were bad enough, but there was worse. There were cool cat trees though, including some made from actual tree branches. A big hit with feral cats, I understand.
Which brings to mind a funny overheard conversation. A woman talked about trapping and taming some cats that she was trying to get adopted. She said she got help placing them from some "feral people in Alabama."
It was surreal, though. In some ways I feel like the world has spun off its axis. Being at the show, surrounded by people completely consumed by their cats, and later, having dinner in a sports bar, surrounded by people watching college football, I was thinking "What the hell is wrong with you people?" Then again, if the election were to be held at that bar, or at the cat show, the results would've been the same, or perhaps even more slanted in the wrong direction.
November 09, 2004
In a Twist
Somebody's got their rant on: Fuck the South.
November 10, 2004
Changing of the Host
My current host is closing down. I have two months to get this done, but because I haven't backed up my site (I know, I know, I'm terrible), I was in a bit of a tizzy this morning, especially seeing as how fellow friends, like Little Toy Robot, are currently, inexplicably, unavailable. I will probably shift sooner rather than later. This time I will do my best not to screw up my permalinks.
November 14, 2004
Congrats and best wishes to This Fish for publishing her article, Traveling the Too-Much-Information Highway, in today's New York Times. Talk about coming out from anonymity in style and with great splash! [Use Bugmenot if you need a login]
The twinge of envy I feel is fortunately overcome by the comfort in knowing that probably even in death I wouldn't make it into the NYT. Unless I'm willing to accomplish something noteworthy, commit a heinous crime or be embroiled in scandal, I prefer being thrilled for someone whose writing I admire, for someone who deserves to make her mark.
November 15, 2004
Waiting for the Elevator
Usually I pace the pattern along the edges of the carpet in the elevator lobby if I have to wait too long. I was on my way to grab a late lunch. Glancing out the window, something caught my eye. A large bird - a falcon, I think - perched on the ledge of the adjoining balcony, looking outward. We both took in the downtown vista until my elevator arrived.
November 16, 2004
The Digital Future
The Library of Congress is presenting a lecture series, Managing Knowledge and Creativity in a Digital Context. The first lecture was yesterday, 11/15, and featured David Weinberger, who discussed blogging. The lectures will air on C-SPAN. A video archive of the first lecture, and presumably the subsequent lectures, is available from C-SPAN here.
In the gym's cardio room, there's an array of televisions set to different channels. You hook up your headphones to the attachment on your machine of choice and can listen to music or get the audio for your selected television. My attention span varies. I've got a magazine, my own CD player, and the images from eight televisions to keep me distracted while trying to break a sweat on the treadmill. On VH1, they're showing the new Gwen Stefani video. Very Alice-in-Wonderland, although at times Stefani seems to evoke Madonna or Courtney Love. On NBC's Today Show, Katie Couric is wearing a cardigan with some kind of faux fur detail down the middle. Instead of stylish, she just looks frumpy. They're showing video of the Marine who shot an Iraqi prisoner. My eyes dart between the screens:
VH1: What you waitingI shake my head and continue reading about Sarah Michelle Gellar buying a samurai sword in Japan for her husband, Freddie Prinze, Jr.
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting
What you waiting for!?
NBC: "He's [expletive] faking he's dead."
VH1: Tick tock
NBC: "He's faking he's [expletive] dead."
VH1: Take a chance you stupid ho
NBC: ""Well, he's dead now."
Addendum: U.S. probes shooting at Fallujah mosque [MSNBC]
Researching invoices, making multiple phone calls to resolve billing issues, is time-consuming and very, very frustrating, especially when I have a giant stack to work through and the vendor is being a money-gouging hardass. I didn't need a master's degree for this. *sigh*
November 21, 2004
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
I saw this opening night (11/12), not so much out of breathless anticipation but that a fellow girlfriend also besotted with Colin Firth wanted to see this with me.
I was actually quite worried, given the lackluster media reviews. But I really enjoyed it - I laughed out loud, brushed away tears, and cringed in all the appropriate places. I know I'll pick up the DVD - as to the soundtrack, I'm not quite so keen, which is a shame. Hugh Grant as Daniel Cleaver remains the delicious cad, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy is still honorable and dreamy (lovely shots of him in rumpled bedsheets).
As for Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), I wish she hadn't been quite so cartoonish. Granted, the movie (and the book) is set roughly six weeks after the last one. Bridget's clothes continue to be generally awful and ill-fitting, her hair is sloppy, her speaking skills remain atrocious. But Bridget being slightly overweight doesn't mean that Zellweger has to waddle around like a duck. Yes, she has insecurities, she's not perfect, but Bridget isn't completely incapable of taking care of herself and in need of saving by Mark Darcy. Not that I mind that Darcy comes to her rescue, but because Bridget appears so ridiculous and so incompetent, even I wondered why Darcy loves her. But we shouldn't love Bridget just because she's the heroine. Yes, the movie fulfills the fantasy of being loved just as we are, but even in fantasy we still want to be smart, strong, gorgeous women with the fabulous wardrobe, career, and a metabolism that lets us eat a pint of Black Raspberry Avalanche every day.
November 22, 2004
Late last Friday, I sent around polite but harried emails to the local listserv asking if anyone had a particular book available for borrowing. No responses. I needed to get it by noon today for an attorney. After maybe twenty phone calls, no luck anywhere. I even called libraries in other counties. Finally, I find a specialty bookstore that has it available and I place an order and arrange for a courier. Just after arranging for Absolute Rush Delivery (And Step On It!), I find out the attorney needs it for his meeting...tomorrow morning. Love those fake emergencies. I'm exhausted from all the stress.
I woke up early to make a green bean casserole for the office potluck. When the recipe is on the side of a soup can, I can't really take credit for the cooking. But I made a wicked discovery - those French's fried onions are really good, straight out of the can. But to my pleasant surprise, by the time I came to the conference room to fix myself a plate, my casserole was totally gone.
Of course, maybe I wouldn't be so tired if I hadn't stayed up late re-learning how to install Movable Type on my new host. I think I've totally effed it up and will have to start from scratch. And I was so close too. Feh.
But I get to leave early today. No longer will I have furry caterpillars for eyebrows. I've been good, I haven't tweezed for, like, thirty whole days. And oh, how I was sorely tempted. Maybe I'll go for some dramatic brows, not the super-skinny pencil lines, but perhaps more diva than simply natural. We'll see.
November 25, 2004
One of my sisters was in a car accident today. She called me at work, from the scene. Air bags had deployed. She said her face hurt, and her knee too.
Nine of us showed up at the hospital, family and friends. She was in a neck brace and strapped down to one of those boards to keep her immobile until x-rays were done. Action was easier than waiting. One of us was on the phone, calling police departments and towing companies, trying to find out who had jurisdiction and where the hell my sister's car had been taken. One of us headed over to her apartment to take care of the dog. We compared notes, trying to piece together from what my sister said, what happened, where. Did she hydroplane? Was there a blowout?
Others went to make phone calls or drive along the highway, looking for the vehicle that didn't yet appear in a police report or in the custody of a towing company, even though the accident was hours before. The vehicle sat on I-75 for three fucking hours. Where the hell was the Atlanta PD? Why did an off-duty federal officer have to handle everything and wait around for city cops to show up finally to assign a case number and set everything in motion?
One of us ended up alone in the waiting room while others took action, or waited with my sister (only two were allowed at a time inside the emergency area). One of us minded the tote bags we brought straight from work, holding the shoes my sister didn't want to wear while she lay strapped to the board. One of us, desperate for other voices, made phone calls and sent text messages, to bide the time, waiting for more information.
The x-rays came out ok; she's going to be sore for a while, but that's the worst of it. After a couple of hours, she was released from the hospital. I held my little sister's hand while she leaned on me and my mom as we walked out to the parking deck.
She's staying with our parents. Painkillers have been prescribed. Four of us went to the towing company yard and it took all of us two trips to clear out the stuff in the vehicle, bound to be declared totaled.
Somehow, on an interstate highway in a metropolitan area teeming with dense northbound Thanksgiving traffic, my sister's SUV managed to avoid hitting other cars when the tire blew out and the vehicle crossed multiple lanes, eventually hitting the wall. Somehow my sister merely will suffer splitting headaches and soreness from whiplash, but remain otherwise ok.
For my sister to be ok, I give my thanks. For those of you I bugged with my inane blatherings, thank you for listening and being a help.
November 28, 2004
Notes from a Long Weekend
My sister was in the capable, if smothering, hands of my parents and other sister. After all that could be done was done, I became superfluous. So despite the long, anxious hours of Wednesday night, I still managed to head out for a planned holiday trip to visit my other extended family. It was as I expected - a lot of hanging out in front of the tv, lounging and taking naps, eating and overeating, and long, drawn-out rounds of dominoes. We also fit in a boat ride on the lake. It was fun.
By Saturday, though, I'd hit my limit on family time. The same little things bug me every time we get together, and I've got to get over this. A lot of these irritants are really a reflection of larger, unvoiced issues that I can't do anything about. So the only thing I can control is my response. In practical terms, this means keeping myself from lashing out like a hissing, spitting cat. In my own family, we are way too prone to exploding needlessly, so I'm dealing between two extremes - denial and outburst. It's frustrating to be unable to do anything, but I can't fix people's problems for them. I have enough of my own, anyway.
By Saturday afternoon I was back in town. My sister was resting up and I even managed a small flurry of housekeeping. (There's no way I can possibly shed as much hair as the cats.)
Also spent long hours working on the host-changing for the blog. Mainly it's slow going because I'm having to learn what I'm doing as I go along. But, I've managed to successfully install Movable Type on my new server, using MySQL instead of the default Berkeley database support. Hurrah! But now I have to somehow convert my current data first. But that's a headache for another day.
November 29, 2004
Sometimes You Can't See That All You Need Is One Thing
It's my birthday. Last year was a lot of melodramatic buildup signifying nothing. This year, I'm like, whatever. Go figure. Not so much a sign of maturity as indifference, I guess. Besides, the big news is Julia Roberts giving birth to her twins, Hazel and Phinnaeus(?!?), right?
No big plans - it's Monday, after all. I'm meeting my book group tonight (no, I haven't finished our selection) at a local gastro-pub. I did, however, get a facial over the weekend, mainly because I needed one and I had a coupon. If you're on enough mailing lists, retailers love to help you celebrate your birthday with promotions. So what the hey. My esthetician is really nice and has gorgeous skin herself. She also did my brows last Monday, so I like her and trust her.
Today's Word: Promethean
I don't know what the "good" astrology sites are, so here's a selection.
My horoscope from Free Will Astrology:
Sagittarius Horoscope for week of November 25, 2004
You can't get what you want until you ask for what you want. That's always true, of course. But in the coming days, Sagittarius, it will be even more intensely true than usual. Your life will be a desolate wasteland of frustration if you expect everyone to telepathically guess what you're fantasizing about. But your life will be an overflowing cornucopia of delights if you state concisely, without any whining and without any attitude, precisely what it is you desire. Oh, by the way, here's a corollary to this week's Main Rule: You can't get what you want until you know what you want.
For those of us born on: November 29
Happy Birthday: Prepare to take advantage of the creative opportunities just ahead of you. Don't let anyone discourage you from following through with your dreams. This is the year to discover who you are and what your potential really is. Believe in yourself.
Today's Chinese Proverb: "Think before you speak but do not speak all that you think."
Today's Wisdom from around the World: Those who lose dreaming are lost.
Australian Aboriginal Proverb