Monday, December 29, 2008

Baby names rejected by Bristol Palin



1. John
2. Lancer McSweeney
3. Quartz
4. Orange
5. Tina-Fey
6. Jason Bourne
7. Barak
8. Ranch
9. Palin
10. Ballot




Welcome to the world, Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston!
We promise to lose interest in you and Grammy Sarah fairly soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

News from the book bin

I had gone to the book bin (which the readership recalls is at the town dump) hoping to score some interesting source material to make my Christmas cards out of, and wondered into a Xanadu-like store of TV Guides.

Boxes and boxes of TV Guides. Some were so large and so packed that I couldn't even move them.

I once came across a store of National Geographics like this, and completely on impulse filled a crate with them. Geos have no real resale value, despite how many grandparents have filled their attics with them. The libraries do save them, they do have research value, and the ads themselves are highly entertaining. I sorted through my find, passed on a few issues that may have had interest to friends and actually took the rest right back to the bin. This was not a treasure trove.

An entire year of 1984 Geos -- boxed -- on eBay is valued at about $6.00.

This issue of TV Guide, featuring Mrs Van Halen, is priced at $8.00 on eBay, and $12 in the Official Collectors' Guide.
And there I was literally hip deep in potential cash.


Again, I had no plan. But I know these things about the book bin:
1 - things don't "keep"
2 - the dump is open only 7 hours one day a week, and I can't always make it there

So I didn't know what I would do with such a catch, but I expected I would think of it later and regret not having gotten them. I chose one box I could lift and carry, inspired by Valerie resting on top of it, and got out of there before anyone noticed.

I would prefer to sell them as a lot, because I don't have a lot of time (and too much obsessive tendency) to try listing each issue on its own. But I do want to get a sense of what the combined value is of what is in there. I haven't even counted them. If my 5th grade math is correct (and there is little evidence of that on most days) there are nine stacks of about 10 issues in that box, though there may be more. Call it 100 for now -- 150 if the stacks are deeper than I am imagining them.

The leading dealer in Guides offers no info on buying my stash. They offer instead, "....send a S.A.S.E., email, or call on the telephone. If there is no answer, leave a message on the answering machine and your call will be returned." Quaint. Bet there are Geos in that house too.

I have made no move yet. File it under my inability to follow-through on things. I once spent a summer pricing and cataloging my comic collection, then couldn't bear to part with them. I know I won't go that far, but if I can find a single buyer (preferably one I don't have mail this giant box to) I will gladly unload it for full profit.

By the way, I didn't find anything for the Christmas cards. I went another way, and was pleased with the outcome. I was tempted to transform the Guides, but I have seen enough Antiques Roadshow to know better.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oy vey Maria

True Story:
"Playboy magazine has issued its formal apology for publishing controversial cover featuring model Maria Florencia Onori posing nude as Virgin Mary in its Mexican edition. The cover shows the model standing in front of a stained glass window with scantly clad in a white cloth, which had created rows among Catholics. " (Oneindia.in is responsible for this translation)

This story fascinated me from the start, and the more layers I peeled, the more I was reduced to an Amy Poehler/Seth Meyers style, "Really."



Here is how my brain unravelled on this story:

There's a Playboy Mexico?
I couldn't imagine that porn needed translating. Maybe it is just for the articles.

From Playboy Enterprises: "Today, locally produced editions of Playboy are published in 24 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Ukraine, and Venezuela. " Way to go in the former soviet states, Christie.

Christie Hefner is still CEO for Dad's empire, but not for much longer. She is 56; he is 82. I am queasy.

"Pure" coincidence?
Raul Sayrols, publisher of Playboy Mexico said,"The image is not and never was intended to portray the Virgin of Guadalupe or any other religious figure. The intent was to reflect a Renaissance-like mood on the cover."
{{blink. blink.}}

Sure. that could happen. I see how people would just see what they want.

Ethics, morals, and comparative theology
Catholic authorities were shocked and offended, they said. Keep your porn off Our Lady, they said. Circulation of Playboy Mexico is 100,000, according to Playboy. Mexican Catholic members is 7 million, which of course excludes children, who can not buy porn. Now let me tell you an obscure fact I found about the rules of pornography in Mexico: "...in Mexico only one bare breast is allowed per page."

One bare breast...? Where have I heard that before?

We've already seen Mary naked

plenty. So whay are we shocked by this cover? This does not suggest that I think Mary should be depicted in Playboy. I don't think women should be depicted in Playboy, but since they are, let's take this at face value. Can the image of Mary actually be seen as....shocking, much less erotic?

I think all new parents have been in this scene.
Is there a man who wants pleasure, can't get it, and would like it to come from an image of La Virgen? Oh, probably, best not to know.

This might have something to do with it
Now that's a coincidence, I am sure.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Single girls have taco night too

Miss Bender knows how you young marrieds operate: with your theme dinners, and chore charts, and your coveted taco nights. She wants you to know, before you get thinking Cozier Than Thou, that single girls have taco night too.

But it isn't as easy.

You already know the drudgery of the prep work, especially if you want a decent taco, what with the tomatoes, the onions, the yadda yadaa... And it seems sort of stupid to chop half a cup of onion so you can sprinkle 7 diced pieces into your taco shells. But it isn't taco night without it, is it?

Imagine how long it takes 1 person to use up even a pint of sour cream.

The Taco Kit is designed to work against the single girl. TWELVE shells? Are you kidding me? I can't possibly eat all those before they go wrong (and a taco shell goes a special kind of wrong that actually has a smell). Ortega has worked out some kind of resealable box -- excuse me, website worthy Freshness Pack -- which is not really resealable. But to be fair, the website doesn't claim that it is either. I just fell for it.

Crispy or Soft? Discuss. To me, I am 70s enough to have been taught that tacos are crispy and burritos are soft -- which was not based in truth, I think. Here's something you'll never click about that. Why don't we ever call it Burrito Night? My workmates will tell you I'll eat just about anything wrapped in a soft tortilla, but can you imagine setting up a Taco fixin's bar in your workplace?

Reminds me of Molly Ringwald pulling that sushi set-up out of her bag in the library.


But there I go again, trying to turn my workplace into a John Hughes movie.

I've got my 12 taco shells, my full pound of meat, my painstakingly diced toppings... how many tacos can a person eat, anyway? In my prime (and by that, I mean 6th grade, when there were 3 other people to split the taco box) I could take 6. Or maybe that was just a personal best one night. Or maybe it was just a fantasy... I don't really remember anymore. Nowadays, it's really 2. I want 3, but that's a mistake. Like onion rings.

And isn't that too much trouble for 2 tacos? I would have to eat tacos 6 days in a row. Please do not suggest going out for tacos. I live in New England. If I find a decent Mexican (or even generic Latino Norte) restaurant, I am ordering the mole. Here's a recipe requiring 25 ingredients and 8 hours of work.

Fish tacos? Please. I like fish, and I like tacos. I am not going to mix them. This goes double for
Thai Chicken pizza
Tomato Smoothie
Cucumber Soup "Nothing says summer like cold cucumber soup." Yuh-hunh... "Mango-rita" does pretty well.

The video is for Jen. It never fails to make her laugh.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend plans?


The good news for you is that I should have plenty of opportunity to post new material.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Be portable

Life lessons learned from homelessness.

I wanted to find you a good dramatic photo from Friday morning. But the beat does go on. Now Sunday, things are looking up.

So here's the update, because you don't want to wait until this thing is over to hear my story. I don't know when that will be.


Thursday night:

1.Two days of rain.
2.Freezing temperatures.
3.High winds.
4.Woodsy environs.
5.Thickly Settled.



Result: One mumma-la-hummina mess.

So the power is out, but the Mill still hums -- figuratively and literally. I took 2 calls with Dubrovnik Friday morning, and waited to see if the power came back on. It is too laugh. After a storm, I have little way of knowing whether it is safe to leave the neighborhood, because all news is Boston news, and the neighborhood has private plow service.

But I had too much to do to sit around reading magazines, which was all I had left without a modem. So I left.

117 was mostly cleared, except for one hanging wire which is still there, and blocked by a cone, which you can see if it is daylight. Down the Mill, all business is as usual.

You could live in this Mill for days before anyone noticed. maybe weeks, depending on how stealthy you were. And if I were 25, I might have, but I am not. I called in my people right away.

Miss Minchin of the Finishing School, lives locally, and gave me shelter for the first 2 nights. Kit is coming in for 2 more -- and as long as I need, she says. I went back to the house today to clear the fridge, drain the last of the water, and pack a bigger bag.

Here's what I know about myself in natural disasters: I do not stand in the ankle deep water (or whatever - just a flashback, nothing more) and play the hero. I carry as much as I can to sustain myself as long as I can, and I hit the road. So this is my advice on being portable, self-contained, and humble when you need your basic needs met:

Dress Simply
1 pair shoes, 2 sweaters or fleeces, and all the turtlenecks you can fit in the bag. Underwear and socks for a week, just in a case, but do laundry whenever an opportunity is presented. 1 pair jeans, 1 pair pants you can get used to at work for as long as you have to (see laundry, above). Warm jammies. You can always throw the covers off, but if you're going to be sleeping cold, you might as well go home.

Pack your own toys
When you are pad-crashing, try to be self-sustaining. A couple of books (in case one is bad), your latest magazines, a DVD or two. I have the added benefit of a box of Christmas cards needs doin'.

Try not to be a layabout
If you can get out into the world, do it: movies, the mall, museums. They don't care how long you stay in the public library as long as you stay awake. If you have keys to the office, well it's a place to be. No one says you have to work.

If you are stuck in the house, be entertaining. Houseguests who need to be entertained are a total drag. My suitcase always contains deck of cards and a travel Scrabble. well...Now. See... Savannah inland squall 2008. Oh, I see I left that part of our adventure out of the post, didn't I?

Give up your quirky routines
Whatever they are. Just free yourself of the stress of trying to fit them in. This can actually be liberating, and you may discover some of them were habits you just hadn't broken. Be in the journey. Get through the day. This is in fact how most of human civilization lives.

Accept offers of help
Seriously. It all evens out eventually.

Diversify
As you review applications for new friends, consider where they live. Honestly, if all of you live in the same disaster-ridden town, no one is getting out of this alive.

Heart-warming snapshots of the aftermath (none of which I have actual snapshots of, because why would you need your phone to take a photo?)
  • A generator rumbling in the front yard of a house where 6 cars are packed in a driveway
  • 10 orange Asplundh cherry-pickers in convoy headed west on Rt 2
  • A breakfast line at the local diner rather than at McDonald's or Bickford's.
  • A pickup truck at the pump filling 4 gas cans

  • More updates later. Thanks to everyone who has checked in. All is well here, and the weather is working in favor of our pipes.



      Monday, December 8, 2008

      It came from the scrapbooking aisle

      I spend more time in Michael's art supply than you might expect. When I lived in the city, I could go to the art school neighborhood stores, like Pearl, Mass Art, Charette and affect that air of disaffected artist, sizing up the Exacto knives as if I knew what I was looking for.

      But I live in the suburbs now. And it is Michael's or nothing, except the world's most depressing Wal-Mart in W. Boylston, which looks like it ate the Ben Franklin that may have stood there before it. So it's Michael's.

      What I enjoy about Michael's is not the way it is categorized (though that is very pleasing); it is the way that Michael's patrons are categorized too. Like those people who look like their dogs, craft people tend to look like their craft. And they rarely mix.
      Ever think... What if you liked your Harley but didn't like denim or leather?
      What if you collected crystals but also cigars?
      What if you were a Republican Unitarian?

      How does it happen that people with similar hobbies have to be so similar in every other way? We noticed the morning after spinning our own glass beads that the people in the bead aisle tended to be Deadhead types, tall and skinny with an affected Native air, long drop earrings and a Lori Metcalf expression.

      Yes, you do. her.

      But 2 aisles over, where the doll parts are {{shuddderrr}}, the shoppers are apple-shaped, wear their glasses on a chain, beige sneakers, and Alfred Dunner pants.

      Yes you do. these.The men in Michael's are very interesting. They cluster in woodworking/dollhouse furniture, sometimes in paints and canvas. There are always a few with a wife in the "current holiday" area or in artificial plant material, and they never seem cranky about it. I imagine they built the shadow boxes for the family angel collection. The men together are in wedding favors and ribbons. That's not a slur. You go to a Michael's and tell me I am wrong.

      My craft relegates me to the scrapbooking aisle. And more's the pity, because scrapbookers are Haunted Child + Insane Robot. But scrapbooking supplies is where it is at. I make greeting cards -- nothing fancy or particularly artistic, but I write at least 1 letter a day and I enjoy having a one-of-a-kind card to write it on. Scrapbooking is where the blank card stock is, as well as a thousand designs of art paper, backgrounds, templates, and the bags of scrap you can buy by the pound. (oooo. ..haaaahhhh...?)

      The scrapbook gals are more gregarious than the doll ladies, though they appear to be on the same branch of the family tree. They are barrel-chested with glasses on their heads, Keds, and "dungarees." They often have teenage daughters with them, who think the whole thing is gay.

      In New England, we say "gay" to mean corny, glurgy, unforgivably middle-class, and embarrassingly, obviously, ordinary. It has nothing to do with your sexuality. Gay people are seldom gay. They have too much style. Unless they are your high school drama teacher. We realize we shouldn't say things are gay, but we can't help it. That's reta'ded.

      Things I never fail to see in the scrapbooking aisle:
      • Mother-daughter team attempting to make wedding announcements.
      • Queen of the scrapbook circle. You can tell by her t-shirt.
      • Red Hats
      • Preteen girl overwhelmed by the sticker packs - there is a theme for everything!
      • Impatient card-maker grabbing her card stock and bolting. Oh, that's me.

      Saturday, December 6, 2008

      Spinster on the loose

      This story requires some deep background, which may not enhance the telling of it, but without it, I don't know that you'll follow where I was going.

      In 1959, a real-life Sharks and Jets rivalry went wrong, and at 16, Salvador Argon became the youngest New Yorker sentenced to execution. He was known as The Capeman. The facts of his case are not the background you need, but if you want it, go here.

      40 years later, and 10 years ago, Paul Simon -- master of the high concept album -- wrote a Broadway musical called The Capeman, using the street-singing doo-wop style of the 50's barrio (see also Richie Valens). The production did not succeed. Most criticism had to do with painting Argon as the hero of the story and a martyr ... for what cause, no one could really figure.

      The New York Times said, "In the segment in which Argon, shortly after his arrest for the murders, notoriously proclaimed that his mother could watch him burn, he registers as a terrifying amalgam of confusion and contempt, an inchoate force of raw energy groping for defiant style. " [bonus points for using amalgam and inchoate in the same sentence] But critic Ben Brantley also says, "....these songs have a contemplative, sensuous elegance all their own and remain a pleasure to listen to. "

      As an album, Songs From the Capeman is infectious. It clearly follows a narrative, plays like a "rock opera," and is musically interesting in places where musicals rarely are anymore. As sung by Ruben Blades and Marc Anthony, what's not to like? Rolling Stone said, "The sociopolitical aspects of the case occasionally lead Simon and Walcott to overreach in their lyrics, especially given the musical setting – The politics of prison are a mirror of the street/The poor endure oppression, the police control the State is a far cry from I just met a girl named Maria." Word.

      In that way we loved Graceland, even when we are not always sure what we are talking about (If you'll be my bodyguard, I will be your long lost pal...) because we hadn't heard anything like it before, and because the lyrics made you want to listen and the beats wouldn't let you stop anyway.

      But The Capeman is still about gangs, and racism, and murder, and juvenile delinquents with no hope of rehabilitation, told in the sweet campfire folk-voice of the little man in the turtleneck goin' to Scarborough Fair.

      And that's what you've got to understand about this story I am telling.

      So I am in Barnes & Noble. And I recognize that what is playing overhead is "Adios Hermanos," a musically beautiful song that just happens to be about Argon's arrest and ride to the big house. It is not a family sing-along, and you probably shouldn't use it to encourage holiday shopping. We sale through the line about "the blancos and the n---r gangs," and no one in the store throws a brick. Paul Simon sings, so sweetly, "time for some f---n law and order. The electric chair, for the greasy pair..." And the shoppers continue to peruse the coffee table books.

      Adios Hermanos feeds right into "I was Born in Puerto Rico," which is the 2nd song on this album. I know because I own it. And because I own it, I know that by Track 5, when we meet The Vampire gang, there is the chorus "Fuckin Puerto Rican mongrel punks..."

      I think there must be an intervention.

      And this is how you wake up to the fact that you are middle-aged and loose on the world -- about one bifocal-chain short of a church-lady, because you decide someone should really change the music. That you will see about getting that done. That none of that horrifies you.

      I take my chances that the B&N music section is responsible for this, and I was right. File that for your future reference. You have to walk through metal detectors to get back there (keeps out the walkers and the artificial hips) and this smooth-faced young seasonal-crew says "what can I help you with?"

      And I say (very friendly because I am here to help YOU, good citizen worker/valueless kids of today with no sense of time and place), "You know this album that's playing" (point at the ceiling. really wish I hadn't done that.) and I name it, because I am so hip I can sing along, "The Capeman?"

      He says, presenting the product close at hand next to the register, "Actually, it's this new album," (which I now discover writing this, is not so new, but would make a lovely gift for a Paul Simon fan).

      "So it's not the whole album? Because I was going to recommend that it isn't exactly appropriate to play in a store." I said that. I really truly did. But not bitchy -- notice my use of modifiers and the word 'recommendation.'

      [I picture here Fox-25's Mike Beaudet in a stand-up: "What caused this riot at a local booksellers?"]

      Salesman says, with a sort of a laugh...I guess... "Oh no, it's just this." (yes, only the words I won't spell out on my blog because I don't want to match the kind of people who search for them...)

      He's right - Adios Hermanos is the last track of the 2nd CD, but the album gets no "explicit lyrics" sticker. You'll want to keep this in mind when you have your stereo on shuffle during dinner with the in-laws, or the neighborhood watch meeting.

      I have done my duty. I can now turn my attention to dog curbing, spitting, and litter, to keep this world a safer place.

      Friday, December 5, 2008

      Finding a cohort

      Welcome to December.

      Some thoughts on National Blog Post Membership, which is self-imposed, and really... who cares, but I find now that the pressure is on to remove the banner, I don't really want to. But I can't rightfully display it anymore -- here it is Dec 5 and I haven't written a thing. or paid my condo fee. But get off my back, would you?

      I was member # 10690 of NaBloPoMo.com, and to my knowledge received no additional traffic as a result. I was recently tempted by Diesel to join his Blogarella network - Blogarella, daughter of Humorblogs (with thigh-high boots) but I couldn't follow through for a couple of reasons.

      First, Blogarella advertises "The best blogs in the known universe," which, even if taken poetically, was intimidating. I never felt like I could join Humorblogs since The Drawing in Room is not, strictly speaking, humorous. Perhaps it "amuses."


      But I couldn't bear the pressure of always being humorous (in spite of what my workmates say).

      Secondly, I couldn't commit to a category. And you know how I love to categorize.

      My own profile claims this is a working woman's blog, and it is that more than any other, but it is also a bachelor's blog, a general commentary, a "what's the deal with airline food" observational exploration, a weirdly creepy tribute to Jodie Foster, and the sad reminiscences of a carbon-paper woman in an MP3 world.

      Which brings us back to NaBloPoMo (known by mid-month as Nah, go blow me). This network has its own groups as well, and I thought I could find some skin there I could slip into. So I searched first "working women," etc and came up empty, though there was a group for everything else: needlecrafters, Canadian parents, brides, people named Jennifer. Queer Women of Color. There were 3 members, which goes to show you that you can slice yourself too thin...ly.

      Stick with a sure thing, like Bloggers who love Stale Peeps

      Each time I thought I had found it, the next page had an improvement:
      New England Bloggahs
      Massachusetts Blogs
      Southern Girls Uprooted
      INTJs blogging.
      seriously. really.
      There are only 16 of them, and I wager they don't actually read each other's work.

      I began to find affinity groups for other bloggers I know, and got distracted by just the idea of the task of telling them about it. Then my trapezius started to hurt and I decided to go to bed.

      Don't you wish you had a blog? So you wouldn't have to put up with this from me?

      Saturday, November 29, 2008

      Anti-Climax

      I may have peaked too soon with yesterday's Christmas card, but check this out.

      I came across this while collecting 70s Christmas images. Please bring back a world where barefoot children did wheelies on banana seats without helmets.


      Friday, November 28, 2008

      Popcorn Plaques

      #16 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

      According to the calendar, holiday decorating frenzy season is officially open. Time to dust off your popcorn plaques!

      I won't pretend to have known what these were called, and it took some searching to come up with it. This is the term used by no less a 70s kitsch authority than the Miles Kimball catalog for the whimsical holiday figures formed of colored chips of plastic melted together.

      See also
      suncatchers
      shrinky dinks (always more of a Halloween favorite than Christmas)
      super-elastic-bubble-plastic

      And when I say dust off, I mean it. These little flecks breathed some sort of vapor all year long in your attic that gave your Rudolph the surface of fly paper, so that when you pulled it back out into the light it was covered in cobwebs, fly-specks, and strands of the santa beard you kept in there with it.

      "Santa's beard makes me feel woooozy..."
      "Let ME try!"

      A good hosing from a Wham-o Water Wiggle ought to do the trick.

      These are flat hangings, and not very large, so the idea is to have TOO MANY of them. All over your house. Or cubicle. Or sad little front-desk of your storefront real estate office.

      Today's kids will remember (with the same curiosity, if not more) the inflatable snow globe, which now make the popcorn plaque just look like a lonely kindergarten teacher set loose on the neighborhood. The yard inflatable challenges the very idea of zoning laws.

      this one is 8 feet tall.

      Deck the Halls by all means, if it keeps you from decking the parking lane.


      So you know what I did. I Googled "inflatable arm-flailing tube man," which, according to The Family Guy, is what he is called in the tacky traffic-stopping crap trade, to see if anyone had yet invented the inflatable arm-flailing tube Santa (snowman, Grinch, Rudolph, Balthasar...). The company that makes them prefers that you call them Airdancers.

      Ok Airdancer. now that you have back-linked to this page, I am giving you a freebie. Put a beard and a hat on the red one, a christmas tree in the hand of the green one, a top hat on the white one... OOo, Oo! A wooden soldier! And a nutcracker!

      For the purists, then: what is the 70s without a slide show?


      Wednesday, November 26, 2008

      So terribly clever

      I have to say I have been terribly pleeeeezed with the outcome of the blog exercise this month. I don't think I will ever do it again, and I am glad I didn't set out to do it, but how nice to report that I have posted a -fresh every day, including the 4 days to come, which are completed and scheduled for your (my) convenience.

      This is a long way from last year, when I was backposting, because I couldn't keep up AND I couldn't stand the look of dead air. I foolishly believed that newcomers would want to "catch up" on our story thus far, though I can confirm that Blogger doesn't make this convenient, and I have been doing this far too long (rather like this sentence) to think anyone really could...much less would want to.

      But because I know you like to see the inner workings, and because I can't seem to stop myself from showing them... a few short lists:


      Topics I tabled up in case I needed them, then didn't need them:
      1. "Single Girls Have Taco Night Too" This will eventually get posted. It just now clashes with the holidays.

      2. "20 Years of Phantom" Do you know some in the orchestra have been playing since opening night? (Not nonstop or anything, I'm just sayin'... )

      3. Lots of 70s series stuff I don't want to reveal just yet

      Thing I have been working on for years and can never get structured:
      1. It is called "Washing Judas' Feet" that tries to explore topics of forgiveness and redemption. All part of an ongoing argument I am losing with Dietrich Bonhoeffer because I can't understand what he is talking about.

      Things that happened this month that I left out:
      1. "You Got Played" - a piece for the Finishing School involving trouble in paradise between The Boss and The Rock Star and how not to be a pawn in the great game between upper management and upper-middle management. Still to come, I think. I need some closure on it -- just for the narrative, you understand, not for me.
      2. 130K on the car they don't even make anymore.

      3. Bearing the burdens of others' secrets. I think I am sitting on 4. But I am trying to forget them.

      4. Remember the She Veep? She showed up at the Mill as a client. So I still have to be nice. But I can also still be FROSTY

      Topics to toss into the basket of crescent rolls if there just isn't enough fighting:
      1. "Predatory lending, my eye. Those people knew what they were signing."
      2. "Sure was different in your war, wasn't it, grandpa?"
      3. "Why do you care who they marry?"
      4. "I'll tell you what that kid's problem is...."
      5. "So... how awesome is my President?" This works no matter which button you want to push.

      Happy Holidays. When you've had too much, loosen your belt and wrap it on your hat, like our forefathers did.

      If you want to upset the New Englanders, remind them Jamestown was settled first.

      Tuesday, November 25, 2008

      I don't even run with the queens anymore....


      .... but even I know they are all rehearsing Beyonce's
      "Single Ladies."

      Am I right girls?
      "MMMMMM.....hmmmm....."

      Do I love this or hate it? I don't even know.

      Holy...Cultural...Message Confusion.
      At its heart, it has that Beyonce Paradox we loved so well in "Check on it": Stop lookin' at me dancin' all like this.
      Here is another song with the message "That's right, I AM all of that. And you just stand over there until I decide whether this is for you or not."

      Movin on, yo
      Remember when Beyonce put everything you owned in a box to the left? And said you were replaceable? Well, she is now working that program.

      real Single Ladies lyric:
      I'm up on him, he up on me/Don't pay him no attention/Just cried my tears for 3 good years/Ya can't be mad at me/ Cause if you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

      But she would take him back
      She got another you in a minute, but buried in Single Girls, which you won't hear because you will very distracted, I don't care who you are, she comments, "Your love is what I prefer, what I deserve....Pull me into your arms, say I'm the one you own..." (own. Girlfriend said "own.") "If you don't you'll be alone/And like a ghost I'll be gone."

      Damn, Beyonce, I can't even think
      An actual/cyber friend/Friend turned me on to this song less than an hour ago. And she said, "the song is VERY catchy and very brain wormy so beware." So true. The kind of song that made me glad I stopped listening to the radio soon after "La Vida Loca" went from freshest thing on the airwaves to "for the love of humanity, someone put a fork in my head so the sound of my own screaming will drown out this madness."

      That is one money-making HOOK.
      Steve Martin once said you can't play a sad song on the banjo. Similarly, I posit... Beyonce can not really sing a sad break-up song.

      And... you have melted my eyeballs.
      Beyonce is not yet 30. So enjoy this while you can. I'm talking to you, Beyonce. You listenin to me? Your knees will go first, but will earn a standing ovation from everything else they are holding up.

      You might expect Miss Bender to be shocked and disapproving of this video and the song behind it. But what Miss Bender appreciates is a job well-done, no matter what it is. If you're going to do a thing, commit to it, I say. See also Eminem, Bonnie and Clyde '97.
      How to burn the brainworm into your head forever
      This Fierce Mister, who should be headlining at Scandals
      The mash-up, featuring 60's era Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse choreography
      Enjoy it now, before you never want to hear it again.

      I'll leave the academics to decide whether this is Feminism or not; I am too busy trying to figure
      out what muscles move that way.

      Monday, November 24, 2008

      Mild Innuendo


      Whatever could it mean??

      Does it mean the ratings board couldn't reach consensus?
      I think we should mention the innuendo."
      Innuendo? Hardly. It's so subtle no kid would get it."
      "Then mild innuendo."

      Isn't Innuendo mild by definition?
      "an indirect intimation about a person or thing, esp. of a disparaging or a derogatory nature."
      In Latin.. "to nod toward"

      And if innuendo were mild, wouldn't it be more... direct?

      OR... is it innuendo about something mild? That is, titter-titter, it is clever bawdiness, but nothing really sexy.
      Like a double entendre.

      Besides, when you're 6, aren't all jokes about butts and underpants anyway? what's subtle about that?

      In case you're wondering, the movie in question is Enchanted.

      I decided to see what Kids in Mind had to say about it. This is a website I've linked to before. They obsessively count swear words and naked body glimpses for you, so you can phone in your parenting. I admire it for its compulsive attention to detail more than its politics.

      Here is their assessment of the "mild innuendo." I have applied my own Mild Metre, and spelled it the British way to look sophisticated. The descriptions are theirs. promise.

      Most Innuendoest
      A man climbs out of a well, men standing around him ask if he too is looking for a woman and he tells them that he is looking for a prince (they seem to understand that he is gay).

      Most Mildest Innuendo
      A man knocks on a door, another man opens the door and smiles invitingly (implying attraction) and the first man walks away seemingly confused.

      Regular Innuendo
      A woman discovers an almost nude woman (she's wrapped in a towel) and a clothed man together, she is jealous and angry and makes a remark about leaving so the man could have "big girl time" with the partially clothed woman.

      The kind of joke Disney adds to prompt your children to follow-up later
      A girl tells a woman that she shouldn't wear too much makeup, that "boys will get the wrong idea" and that "they are only after one thing"; she then says that she doesn't know what that "thing" is.

      Most Obsessive-compulsive
      A husband and wife kiss several times, a man and a woman kiss and hug, a man kisses a woman three times and then another man kisses her and she kisses him back, and men and women kiss in a few more scenes. A man and a woman hug in a few scenes. A woman kisses a turtle on the cheek and the turtle blushes.
      what in the bloody what?

      Most "you read that into it"
      A woman falls into a man's lap and they sit very close as they ride off together on horseback with her in his arms.
      I defy you to leave room for The Holy Ghost on horseback

      Even I don't get it
      A woman talks about searching for a perfect pair of lips (for a prince replica she has built) and tries different items, including a pea pod and a caterpillar.
      Ok, I don't want to know what that is innuendo for.

      If you really want to enjoy this website, read descriptions for films you have never seen.I can't wait to see what they do with Twilight.

      # of times the word "innuendo" appears in this post (including this one) = 13

      Sunday, November 23, 2008

      Sarah Hale, what are you on about?

      Does this blog feature Lincoln more than the average? Or am I just tapping into some collective unconscious? I suppose in junior high school history class we learned about Sarah Hale (or in my junior high, she was featured in the Find-a-Word Puzzle) but I had no knowledge of her enthusiastic campaign to have Thanksgiving recognized as a national holiday. And by "enthusiastic campaign," I mean the chain of letters she sent President Lincoln imploring him with everything from it was good for our souls to it would prevent the war.

      Mrs. Hale (Twain might call her The Widder Hale) was a definer of national culture and mores in the early 19th Century. Though she was hardly Oprah in terms of her influence, she was at least Martha Stewart, with the occasional hint of Dr Phil. Mrs. Hale felt, "We have too few holidays," and in 1827 that was probably true. After all, we hadn't invented the weekend yet, and even the Mill Girls were too busy counting their money to count their blessings.

      Mrs. Hale commented, "There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing, in which whole communities participate. They bring out . . . the best sympathies in our natures." The House divided Against itself also had trouble picking a uniform Thanksgiving Day.

      There are reportedly thousands of letters like the one below in the Presidential papers. This was not the last of them.


      From Sarah J. Hale to Abraham Lincoln, September 28, 1863
      Private
      Philadelphia, Sept. 28th 1863.

      Sir.--
      Permit me, as Editress of the "
      Lady's Book", to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

      You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.

      Enclosed are three papers (being printed these are easily read) which will make the idea and its progress clear and show also the popularity of the plan.

      For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the "Lady's Book", and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories -- also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen -- and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients I have received, uniformly the most kind approval. Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union.

      But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has ocurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment.

      I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag -- could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus the great Union Festival of America would be established.

      Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured.

      An immediate proclamation would be necessary, so as to reach all the States in season for State appointments, also to anticipate the early appointments by Governors.

      Excuse the liberty I have taken
      With profound respect
      Yrs truly
      Sarah Josepha Hale,
      Editress of the "Ladys Book"

      Madam, you do indeed take liberties. And I question your apostrophe choices.

      Saturday, November 22, 2008

      Just look what they shoved us around in


      The boys from shop class have tricked out a grocery cart for your trip to the park!

      Sorry about the sunburn, but the handle is adustable!
      Rubber pants + vinyl cushion + foam stuffing equals one heck of a rash.

      Wherever will Mommy set her latte? Good thing we haven't invented them yet, and Mother's little helper takes a pill form.

      Friday, November 21, 2008

      I have a TSA claims agent

      And get this: His name is Ernest.
      That's a joke, right?

      Reminds me of a funny bit I got into with a friend. (Is it a bit? or a riff? I don't know these things. Ask a Comic)

      I said that I missed good Puritan names like that, like Ernest. We should bring them back.

      And she said that a friend of hers wanted to name her daughter Patience, so that when she started to lose her temper with her, she would have to yell, "Damn it, Patience! I've had it with you!" and that would calm her down.

      To which I said, "Justice, play nice!"
      And she said, "Prudence, put your clothes back on!"

      and as usual, there was no topping that.

      click here to get my TSA story. We are now on Step 4a, "Churn," where he re-asks me the questions on the form and I will retype what I wrote already.

      Thursday, November 20, 2008

      Healthcare math

      Happy Open Enrollment.

      And this year the Company wants you to know that they reaaally could have raised your premiums, Gawd knows they are paying through the nose, what with the crazy Massachusetts required healthcare. But they didn't -- no they did NOT -- because that's not the kind of company they are. But seriously, (the note goes on), this can't last forever, so quick picking the expensive health care if you don't need it. Because the government pays in Dubrovnik, and that is starting to look pretty good.

      Anyway, the letter says, read this pamphlet, go to this website, listen to this podcast, lick this postage stamp, and pick your coverage already.

      I have the Middle Path coverage, also know as "Damn, that's annoying." (relive the enjoyment of the stupidity of healthy people, in which I manage my managed care for the first time) So the math I am trying to do is the value of my personal convenience.

      The E-ticket healthcare (the one the company has martyred themselves over, absorbing the $1200 annual increase instead of passing it along to you, the day laborer) is in premiums, $400 more over the year than the Middle Path. Did I, in fact, spend more than $400 this year on staying alive?

      no, guess. go'head, guess.

      We may both have to because I can not make sense out of my Sh**ty Healthcare "self-service" page. You know, like how the New York Public Library is "self-service." Is it View Statements? Oh, Account Balances. Here's the math. I don't care if you know what my healthcare costs. You're going to delve into my personal life; you have to sit here with me while I do this, because it is due Friday.

      It's not real money. And you already know 1 pill costs $20.

      Middle Path totals about $800 p.a. (Latin!) in premiums. That's if I never even show up.
      Includes $500 on an "expenditures" card and covers your Mamm-o-Gram gratis (more Latin!)On top of that, I spent $800 in medical school loan payments and antibiotic placebos.
      cheap, right? Oh, but it damned annoying

      E-Ticket premiums for the spinster girl are $1200 for the year.
      Requires a $40 co-pay, so that would have been 40 x 4 office visits, or $160, but no HRA debit card and no deductible. So the a la carte nonsense, you see, would have been "included." Like champagne is included in First Class.

      The $120 antibiotic would have cost $10-35 dollars, for example, on a RX co-pay. (likely $35)Throwing a stink cost me only $27. Blogpost of the year....priceless.

      I feel like I should be able to put this together dollar for dollar, but the real decision maker is... do you have the cash to pay the doctor when you need to pay the doctor? Or don't you?
      I do.
      The Middle Path it is.
      And Yes, I turned off commenting for this post.
      Because this is already the most boring topic ever. Let's not drag it out.

      Wednesday, November 19, 2008

      Late for work because of NaBloPoMo

      I didn't even set out to achieve National Blog Posting Month status. And now I feel like it is a must-have requirement. And I will be late to work because of it, and I have nothing meaningful to say.

      Here, then, to pander to the reading public, some puppies.






      From your favorite border collie,
      ~~CB

      Tuesday, November 18, 2008

      Come to the Jubilee

      A reader in Virginia remarked that a Black friend asked, Didn't White people realize a Black man was elected President? And when our reader said, yes, with a kind of "where we going with this" eyebrow, our speaker said, "you don't act like it."

      Here I pick up this discussion, and attempt to provide something of an response.

      We do
      Possibly, in Virginia, this is not very noticeable. Here in the Bluest of the Blue states there was dancing in the streets. Crying at the polls. In my Facebook network -- among the liberalest of the liberal -- all statuses all day all week were about Obama. I myself changed my profile picture to Michelle's for the day, and suggested to my Southern Cousin that she craft a yard sign to read "Roll Al-Obama."

      Take another look at the crowd in Grant Park.

      But in Virginia, they know about Jubilee. And no doubt they expected to experience something as momentous in the City of the Monuments.

      We can't experience what you are experiencing
      Not really. We can experience the dawn on a new America, the glow of progressivism, the hope, and the audacity. We know the wonder of a Black man...leading America? shooot... never gonna happen. And it did. I have stood for South Africa, I have met Jesse Jackson, I know that bigotry is the chain that binds all of us, I have Dr King as my IM icon. But I can not feel what this feels like for you.

      We can't express what we are feeling
      It takes an extraordinarily intimate inter-racial relationship to be comfortable with this conversation. White people have no racial identity. And our ethnic identify, when we do experience it, is not the same thing. Sure, Greek America would have thrown a party had Dukakis won the White House, and Italians have been looking for their "president ending in a vowel" for generations. But didn't we make fun of Romney trying to play "ethnic," though the Mormons were a persecuted people if ever there were any whiter than the Irish.

      Our multicultural nation stopped melting us all together, and that is a good thing. But the resulting Otherness with which we see each other -- in our race, gender, sexuality, disabilities, marital status, the way we pray or the way we don't -- takes a "do your own thing" turn that often deftly skirts around real empathy. Sometimes it does mean the best we can offer is to "tolerate" each other.

      We worry about getting it wrong
      A friend once said to me, "it's like this: Don't think of me as Black. And never forget that I am Black." She added, "I realize that's a struggle. But there it is." Even when we are thinking about race (and we do think about it more than we let on), white people can't tell for sure if what we are thinking is racist to start with.

      We don't express ourselves very well
      I'll speak for the WASPs at least: we can't get through an office party without something to take the edge off. Black folk are likely to come to a White funeral and say, similarly, "Don't you realize somebody is dead here? You don't act like it."

      Combine all those factors, and you get a White America that is not going to throw a Jubilee. But we are excited, and we need to stay excited. We need to keep campaigning for all the things we said were important throughout this journey.

      And most importantly, in the words of Harry Belafonte, we need to "...not abandon Barak Obama." By this I do NOT at all mean agree with everything he says, forgive him unconditionally for things we disapprove of, expect him to walk on water. What I mean is that we need to keep participating in our democracy and carry some of this load. Bring is back to your daily life; now that you voted, why not try it again. Now that you've volunteered, keep volunteering. Now that you have discussed politics outside of your comfort zone, keep those doors open.

      and welcome him into the city.

      It was to be expected, that a population that three days since were in slavery, should evince a strong desire to look upon the man whose edict had struck forever the manacles from their limbs. A considerable number of the white population cheered the President heartily, and but for the order of the Provost-Marshal, issued yesterday, ordering them to remain within their homes quietly for a few days, without doubt there would have been a large addition to the numbers present. New York Times, April 8, 1865

      Monday, November 17, 2008

      Crazy things boys do



      1. Refuse to hold an umbrella

      2. Thunder down a flight of stairs (tha-DUMP-tha-DUMP)

      3. Side hug

      4. Wash everything in one load

      5. Spit

      6. Drink from the bottle

      7. Walk it off

      8. Drive lost

      9. Keep an empty chair between them

      10. (your pick)


      Yes, I am baiting you. I haven't seen traction since I dissed Keith Urban.

      Sunday, November 16, 2008

      Old Girl network

      Leave it to The Baroness to know I already had a connection to the TSA. A woman I went to college with invented it. Not the NTSB, who are these people, and have been around since 1967, but the I-am-not-kidding TSA.

      The Baroness has always been better at these things than I am: the instant networky, 6-degrees of you-can't-stump-me, weren't we in Brownies together kind of things. I am good at doing-your-dirty-work-and-no-one-needs-to-know kinds of things. Put those 2 skills together and you understand how we agreed to pluck each other's chins in the nursing home. But that's not the story I'm telling.

      Here is the story of how Liz Brownlee invented the TSA. Not like Al Gore invented the Internet. According to this article, she did the kind of thing I do all day, which was she wrote a white paper saying "what if we federalized airport screening?" The trick is having anyone with any power pick it up and act on it. Well what have I done with my life? I think about that scene in Apollo 13 when Jim Lovell says, "Neil Armstrong? Neil Armstrong?"

      The other culprit might be failing to work in any industry where white papers have any influence. A typical Mill event is when a 4-page proposal I put together and pass to a Product Director is answered with, "Have you called *****? Because she already has something going on this. You should get looped in with that."

      looooooping is a big term in our particular garment industry. And I actually said to ***** (or really, to her sidekick, but right in front of her, because I don't speak directly to the brass) "I am just glad someone with more power and authority is behind this." (see also - dealing with idea stealers) She said (asterisk did, not the sidekick - I am not telling this story very well), "I don't think I have any more power," which was kind of nice, but not at all true, and I said, "than I do? I think you do. [pause] Man, I hope you do."

      But of course if she did, I wouldn't have spoken directly to her. That's probably why my white papers don't turn into federal agencies.

      I came up the ladder with any number of women who are now federal agents. I might be one; you don't know. Two of the women in the picture above are. I don't really know that. I don't know who they are. It was just the closest I could find to madras shorts and pheasant pants.

      Saturday, November 15, 2008

      Gonna Fly Now

      blow-by-blow of a working Saturday down-the-mill

      6:00 wake up
      Often on the weekend, I sleep in my guestroom and pretend it is a Bed&Breakfast. I am not really fooled. Neither are you. The truth is that by the end of the week there are more clothes piled on my bed than not. I know where another bed is.

      6:39 finally get up
      I still can't get up in the dark. I am confused by this every year, as if I have never seen it before. I also think of that scene in Rocky when he wakes up in the dark and drinks the glass of eggs. Every time. 30 years.

      Open this post.

      7:30 on the job
      Breakfast is provided for the weavers and is fairly picked over by the time we arrive. All the bacon is gone. And you know I loves me some bacons. I choose some squirmy sausage and english muffin with butter. Grease, essentially.

      And it was delicious.

      8:20 testing begins
      This is difficult to explain to someone who doesn't do this work. Think of air traffic control, only no one will actually die, despite the heightened sense of crisis. It is also a little like backstage at the drama club, where you sit around on the lighting stools waiting for someone to yell down "take 3 to half and 4-blue." And you do, then sit down and wait some more.

      One college production, when I was lighting crew chief, we read aloud to each other out of Rona Jaffe's Class Reunion. I hadn't yet heard of The Best of Everything . I can't link you to her official website because I don't want to pay her royalties.

      The whole test cycle is orchestrated through chat windows, so you really could subcontract yourself if you needed to. Some suspect one of our team is working from a bar.

      9:30 - Tests for my project go pretty quickly,
      mostly because the designers have already uncovered so many things wrong with it. Too bad the Quality Assurance cycle hadn't, but that's what builds the plot.

      10:45 Project checkpoint
      This was internal to the project team I am on. How great is the mute button. really.

      11:25 The Boss checks in.
      The Boss is not on-site for these Be-Ins. But she can't stand a sleeping Blackberry, so this is about the time she comes knocking. She is also not invited to the chat room or checkpoints. She has some trouble with that.

      Very funny (now) story about the month we ignored her frequent calls for a status report, because we have SOP about when we send these things and did not think we should provide them on demand. And by "we," I mean "me." Following Monday, my thinking was corrected in that regard.

      11:30 cage match
      Also known as the release checkpoint. This is the time when dozens of stakeholders on dozens of projects scream at each other about who's broken is more broken.

      yeh, that's about right.

      My role here is to cajole the designer into agreeing with me about priorities, usually through a little log-rolling and tsking about how disappointing the customer response to this exciting new feature will be, and by unbuttoning my blouse.

      12:00 the wait
      We wander in search of pizza and entertainment. I start outlining this post. The designer and his content team kick a balance ball from one end of the hall to another.

      We start to complete testing across 4 time zones. Broken things start becoming "pre-existing conditions" because they were released before midnight.

      12:15 testers released from my project. They hope they will get to go home, but they are usually "repurposed" to some other project they know nothing about. This is where the Americans were getting off easy by saying, "I ain't speak no nuther language," until we learned the art of quick deployment, and moved Dubrovnik onto Moscow, Moscow to Montreal, and the Americans onto any other English-speaking site. And Hawkeye to Adam's Ribs.

      My project team opens 1 defect with a list of everything that is wrong when working through a certain browser. I rank this as my top priority.

      Primer: how the priorities work
      Let's say your little piece of the puzzle works on a certain browser, but appears to be drawn by Picasso, it doesn't offer up the "save today if you buy a gross of this crap" message that is expected, it doesn't work in Austria at all but Austria has no customers, the ad Discovery Channel Shark Week bought is covered by the empty "save today" message box, and the instructions for printing a document are in French.

      Who owns the Zebra?

      These are the kinds of negotiations you get to broker with your fancy-pants liberal arts degree.

      12:30 toe-to-toe with project manager
      So this guy says that he doesn't think my Priority is worth fixing today. (see how I capitalized it?) Because (he shrugs) "I don't think people are going to call." and I said, "I don't think you know that."

      and a lot of other choice corporate words like "role," "appropriate," and "in future."

      2:00 2nd checkpoint

      I dial-in with the product team, after having learned that they can't stand the project manager either, and we enjoy more fun with the mute button. So much fun, that we elect to stay on for the after call, when "A, B, and Q, stay on please," and we are neither. But honestly, in a conference call world, how do you think that is going to go? Designer and I high-five when the facilitator announces he is "dropping the cone of silence," Weavers in Dubrovnik don't get it.

      2:30 signing off
      I and the rest of my department offer our priorities and the release team starts figuring out who owns the zebra.

      3:00 pm stabbed in the back by my pjt mgr

      Ass-clown volunteers that he does not think my Priority is "worth it" and it falls to the bottom of the heap.



      watch this space.

      Thursday, November 13, 2008

      Higher Learning

      Mary O asked, "Have you learned more in your four years at The Mill or your four undergrad years?" And I said, "well that's a blog right there."

      I am fantastically over-educated, after all, for a 12 year public school girl who spurned the National Honor Society and couldn't break 1000 on the SAT. (the old one - without the writing section). I did learn a great many things in my 4 undergrad years:

      1) How to talk critically about anything, including things you have not experienced (see previous post).
      2) How to read Henry James in a week
      3) How to command a room (elocution I had already learned at Petersburg Middle School)
      4) How people live who are very different from you
      5) How to lead a team
      6) How to manage a lot of time and very little money
      7) How to handle a grain cup, a cigarette, and an hors d'oeurve plate and still shake hands with the Dean
      8) ....the fallacy of dichotomous question framing
      9) How to work a theatre lighting board made of 6 giant handles like something from the Acme catalog
      10) How to become the girl I mean to be

      And many other talents that would exceed a properly structured list. Like how to make a properly structured list. It's hard to know whether foundational skills such as these are more learning. We haven't established whether we mean collectively more or quantifiably more. Impressionably more, to be sure. My brain had fewer wrinkles in those days.

      Things I learned at the Mill:
      1) How to talk critically about anything, especially things you have not designed
      2) How to read a functional spec in an hour and a half
      3) How to hold an argument
      4) How people think who are very different from you
      5) How to work as a team
      6) How to manage very little time and a whole lot of email
      7) How to handle a chat room, a conference call, and 2 In Boxes and still facilitate a WebEx
      8) ....the opportunities presented by good problems to have
      9) How to set up my draft folder so it looks like I wrote those emails during normal business hours
      10) How to hold on to the girl I created

      She does all right, most days. She keeps Henry James on the nightstand.

      Wednesday, November 12, 2008

      Dark Shadows

      #15 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

      These kids today and their vampire worship. If only they had had the chance to celebrate the phenomenon of Barnabas Collins.

      Were the 70s the true height of soap opera madness? On 3 -- count 'em 3 -- channels, we managed to pack in 20 DAILY soaps. Only one of them featured vampires.
      10 min clip warning




      This is one of the cases where the facts and my memory were at odds with each other. According to tv.com (and they must be correct, right, or they wouldn't have scored the domain name), Dark Shadows aired on ABC at 3pm. But we were a Guiding Light family, so how could I have been watching Dark Shadows? It took some digging to confirm that in 70-71, The Guiding Light was on at 2:30, so that explains that. And we can get back to Baaaaarnabaaassssss. Whispering this was guaranteed a pillow thrown across the room by Greatest of All Sisters.

      You can clearly see from the clip above that the only thing scary about Dark Shadows was the Theremen. Well this is a little scary, I suppose.

      Now, I don't read the modern vampire romance, but I am going to comment on them anyway, and the rest of you can chime in. (chime....midnight! baaarrnabaaassss...)

      Apparently, part of the hook of the modern vampire is that he lives in the open, and doesn't have to attack people, either because he has found a synthetic substitute, or because you he really likes, so he would never subject you to... it. What is IT a metaphor for, anyway? If you are a 15 year old girl, I suppose you read IT as a metaphor for sex, that burbling boy-craving that drives him mad at night, but not when he's with you. It is a sort of Mormon sensibility, when you think about it.

      After a little life experience, though, it feels more like his repressed blood-lust stands for his mental illness, or his anger, perhaps his addiction that just sits under the surface. Do emo-boys grow up to be House?

      ooops - sorry. wrong Hugh Laurie pic. I meant this one. Now that's a vampire he shouldn't have let out.

      I was only 6 when Dark Shadows went off the air, but I could keep up by Viewmaster (see series 12 and photo above).

      Dark Shadows did attempt a comeback in the 90s, and actually won an Emmy. Well, it won it for hairstyling, but I think my point is that the brooding outsider will still draw a crowd, and a fleet of suitors who think they can change him. An old friend once said he understood why he was drawn to Beauty and the Beast, but he didn't like the fact that he was.





      no, not that one.





      that one.

      Tuesday, November 11, 2008

      What does Cynthia McKinney do now?

      Did you know a Black woman was running for president?
      No, of course you didn't.

      The Greens estimate they got .1% of the vote (120,000). So, no Green states, but here are the top 5 green....ish results:

      California 27,855;
      New York 11,743;
      Illinois 11,562
      Louisiana 9,184
      Michigan 9,123




      Now that's a pit bull. Would have been an interesting debate.

      Monday, November 10, 2008

      How to file a claim with the TSA

      So you've arrived at your destination and you find a love note in your luggage from your Homeland Security Junta, instead of some beloved belonging of yours. And let's just say that instead of anything of real value, like your camera, your phone, your charging devices, your clothes and jewelry -- which would just make them crooks in low-paying jobs in a time of great economic difficulty -- but your journal. Which just makes it creepy.

      If any one of these posts haven't gotten me detained yet, this one ought to do it.

      In the spirit of good will, I can provide some instruction into how the system expects you to respond to this situation. Like the sweepstakes, and the IRS, it has a lot of multi-step paperwork in small print, and counts on you not to save any of the important "supporting documentation." Work from within the system, Mrs. Perkins always said.

      Start on the website, of course: http://www.tsa.gov/

      Dig who's on the watch list.

      Am I supposed to come to the conclusion that this girl is safe, or suspicious? Because her anachronistic hair and distance from her own carryon makes me think she is a midget subversive who ought to be patted down.

      From here, search for the claim form. Oh, you'll never find it. It's here.


      First you'll get a disclaimer that says, basically, the world's an imperfect place and screws fall out all the time. Then you are offered a window of opportunity (60 days - 6 months) to tell you they can't find it. "Critical life-supporting medications and property will be expedited through the claims process." Don't you want to know how that happens?

      The standard process is this:

      • You file a claim (more on which in a minute. say those 2 first words together fast).
      • Claim goes into claims management system (pile)
      • You are provided a claim number (false sense of security) and asked for more information. This step alone takes 3 weeks. Better hope you didn't lose your kitten.
      • Claim is sent to an Investigator
      • Investigator will review (lose) your supporting documents and ask you for more information
      • Investigator will make a recommendation (The TSA themselves puts this in quotes)
      • Your claim is assigned to a Delegated Authority official (accounts payable clerk)who will request your reimbursement.
        Notice that so far, no one has looked for your item
      • You get a check from the Coast Guard.
      • You find your stuff in the pawn shop on Airport Rd.

      Or, Smurph suggests, you find it published on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble. "heeeyy... wait a minute..." It was Smurph who suggested I include a handwriting sample in my supporting documentation. This will either do the trick or get the FBI watching my mail. ("...which she seems to send a lot of...")

      The form itself is SF-95 Tort Claim package. Notice that the form was written years before 2001. It is 4 pages long, and you can complete the form on line, but you can NOT... wait for it... save a soft copy of the form. Oooh, they are the slyboots, aren't they? One prints out the completed form and faxes or mails it (what manner of ancient alchemy is this?) to the claims office.

      The form has NINE useful hints. "Jimmy, you done with that form yet?" "Hold up, I need a 10th hint. Somebody give me a hint." "Here's a hint - The Boss doesn't like late work." I'll give you the 10th hint. Don't put anything valuable in your luggage.

      It's a one-stop form for claims of "Damage, Injury, or Death." One shudders to think.

      Here are the things you will need to provide with your form and have already thrown away in the seatback in front of you:

      • Insurance coverage information
      • Itinerary
      • Baggage claim numbers and stickers
      • Related incident report numbers

      Now you wait.

      The Claims Management System is currently "under construction" to upgrade the system and enhance its performance. Therefore, the ability to look up the current status of your claim is inaccessible at this time. We do apologize for this inconvenience....Although our number of phone lines is limited, you may call... between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and we will make every attempt to answer your call in a timely manner.
      You will have to wait with me to see how this show turns out. This is what we used to call a "two parter."