Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The bride wears desparation

One supposes that Manhattan District Attorney Christina Welykyj (who will now find herself in a Google search) was a willing participant in the the Sunday New York Times story that celebrated her wedding in the "Vows" section this past weekend.

In a 3-column with color photo exclusive, the Times reported that this 44 year old professional had gotten herself hitched. {{{wwwhhhhewww}}}

I am going to quote the article at some length here, because one can not always link directly to the Times on-line without a subscription, and because I would prefer the traffic. And while I do, and you read along, I would like you to consider the impact in your workplace of such a story running in your own city's paper. If you would be as thrilled as Ms. Welykyj (to use proper NYT style), I invite you to "discuss" in the comments area provided.

The DA admits to having spent her 30s on work (who didn't) and caring for her father until he passed away shortly after the turn of our new century. The Times describes the years following as the years when "...she crossed alone into her 40s..." It's the Cumberland Gap, that crossing. It's all wilderness beyond that. If you are not eaten by bears, you might make it to the next crossing, your 50s, before you turn to dust somewhere around Lake Tahoe.

"You don't hit the panic button," she said, "You plug along."

[:02 PAUSE for me to look over the paper, and my glasses, at you]

I was at the bridal shower of a 39-year old friend (and now you know she is a good friend) telling one of the wives present that I had signed on a condo. She (the wife) said, "Oh... you gave up."

Well I didn't even know I was in that contest.

The Times article (without being tagged "advertisement") turns out to be a commercial for CatholicMatch, which I am now going to link to, just to confuse Google about my "relevancy." Ms. W's match came in the form of Brian Ante, who had resorted to Dating for Dummies, Chapter One of which advises:

"Be afraid of not taking chances, not making mistakes. Look both ways before you cross the street, but don't stand in the middle of the crosswalk. You'll get run over."
I have seen several friends through the "My Boss is obsessed with personal ads/online dating" obstacle course. I wish I could say some of those Bosses have been men, but in the stories I know they have not. According to the movies, this does happen to Hugh Grant/Matt McConaughey types who eventually see the woman right in front of them Desk Set style. Now this would be a good twist on that story, to have the female DA bogging her staff down in screening applicants, taking profile pics -- a shoe-buying/mirror montage is a must -- only to have her discover Janie -- her world-weary put-upon assistant, who like Anne Hathaway will sweep off her glasses to reveal that she is... Anne Hathaway. bu-day-umn

Guide to Office Spinsters:

"The couple remain patient and hopeful that there will be children in their future, 'either by natural childbirth or adoption,' the bride said."
I look forward to the pull-out section and have renewed my subscription.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Study shows brain can hold only 40

In the Edwardian era of the ladies' salon, where I live my life, the locals love playing games in the "Name the..." family. That's a better opening than the truth, which is that I impose these games on others. My brain is doing them anyway, and it doesn't like to be alone.

Name the names in the NFL
Name the Canadian provinces
Name all the CEOs at the Mill. Ok, just the last 5 years...

The last great challenge was naming the original 64 Crayola colors, which in some ways is easier than you think it will be, but strangely difficult once you find yourselves arguing whether "orchid" or "lavender" is made up.

In the spirit of the weekend, I threw out, "Let's see if we can name the 44 presidents." Feel free to try this at home. You do not have to do them in order, unless your salon is made up of American history majors and you need to keep it up a level. Or add VPs. Whatever you need to make this interesting.

You'll find you can do quite well with the 20th century. Just working backward will take you to WWII. You'll start to quibble over which is Harding and which is Hoover, but remember you don't need to do them in order. The first 5 (or 10, if you were a very good student) come pretty easily as well.

We made it to 40 before realizing we had actually listed Hoover twice, and an argument over a certain statesman who was not president was finally resolved. So we were down by 6 until we remembered the newest one (well how embarrassing) and one of the lesser-known assassinated presidents.

Final 4. Name those final 4. aaargh....
To give credit to the integrity of the game, we did refrain from looking them up for several hours. Once we did look them up, we spent some time reviewing their contributions, and writing letters of suggestion to David McCullough.

The following day, Dr A. recommended that we try it again, and of course we opened with the 4 we couldn't list the previous day. How hard could this be, right?

We came right back to 40. We forgot 4 different guys. From this experiment, we concluded that the human brain (not the American female New England brain, mind you, but we leaped to a FULL conclusion that absolved us completely) can only hold 40. Of anything. We were afraid to attempt the states.

Does Wii have a version of this?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Some work to do

One of the endeavors in Miss Bender's past was founding a career support group we called "Tuesday Night" (but never officially, or incorporated). Five of us met regularly to offer support and encouragement (and a few healthy stretch goals) towards our professional challenges. This the Business Finishing School with wine and required reading.

I mention this because I reunited with one of the Tuesday group alumnae this week, and she turned me on to "Authentic Happiness," the positive psychology movement that seeks to catalog human strength characteristics with the type of science applied to catalog our Mental Disorders (DSM) style.

If you like surveys (and would like to devote your hours of mindless night-surfing toward something besides Bookworm) pay a visit to the Authentic Happiness website and work through the Signature Strengths Questionnaire. Martin Seligman identifies 24 character strengths and uses this questionnaire to rank all 24 for you. What are your top 5 characters strengths, and what falls at the bottom?

The results will not likely tell you anything earth-shattering you don't already know about yourself (unless you fudge your answers, and then you hurt no one but yourself...). For example, Judgement/critical thinking and Love of Learning were my 1&2 strengths. Any annual performance review would have told you that. Perhaps a general reading of this website would have told you that.

But if you enjoy spending time with the final ranking (and perhaps spending time reviewing statistical outcomes is not one of your signature strengths) you may find some of the harder truths reflected at you. waiting to be dealt with.

Here was the hard truth for me:

Your Third Strength - Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you

Nice, right? Doesn't one feel validated and secure in their worldview?
Hold on, cowgirl. There's more.

Strength#22 - Forgiveness and mercy
You forgive those who have done you wrong. You always give people a second chance. Your guiding principle is mercy and not revenge.

22...out of 24. The only strengths below that on my list are "zest, enthusiasms and energy" (I attribute this to answering Neutral to most questions) and "hope, optimism, and future-mindedness." Hm. You see it is all written in a positive tone (because this is positive psychology, after all) but far...far.. removed from my purpose and faith. And my purpose and faith are the principles of Christianity.

So I've got some work to do. This is why we call it practicing one's religion. I don't have too much else to say about that. Except just now Dr A gave me a hug just for having "Capacity to love and be loved" at #21.

I could spend a lot of time using my judgement/critical thinking analyzing how my answers drove these results, but instead I'll acknowledge that Loving Mine Enemies has never come easily, that forgiveness is not an essay I have been able to finish, and that "live and let live" is more a driving force than mercy.

Instead of justifying the results, I went on to the next survey "Transgression Motivation,"which measures one's response to being wronged. The quiz requires one to think of a specific person who has wronged you recently. The questions vacillate between wanting revenge and wanting avoidance. According to the results, "The mean [avoidance motivation] score of American adults is around 12.6. if you scored 17.6 or more, you are in the most avoidant third, and if you scored 22.8 or more, you are in the most avoidant 10 percent." My score...wait for it... 24. Don't cross me. Around the Mill, we openly use the phrase "Dead to Me."

And that ain' Christian.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Miss Bender pontificates on films she has not actually seen, but will in the next 3 weeks. Why wait for an informed review?

Isn't it more entertaining if I am wrong, as I was last year? And doesn't that give me 2 posts for the price of one?

The nominations for Best Motion Picture are...

...Benjamin Button
Shoot... me... now. Every year it seems there is one film that I never wanted to see. Some years I just don't (this means you, LOTR). 2 1/2 hours of Brad Pitt's face CGI'd onto a puppet. I am creeped out all ready. It would kill you to pay some more actors?

From a technical standpoint, I might be curious enough to watch a commentary reel/making of... But it will have to be the Premium Cinema with alcohol to get me through this haunted child/creepy puppet/insane robot freakshow.

Read the transcript. See also Good Night and Good Luck. Historically interesting, yes. Shot-for-shot/word-for-word re-do of something we already have on film? Why?

Remember when Frank Langella was Dracula? Now that's a vampire I can get behind.

Can you believe none of my boys waited for me to see this film? I see how it is.

The Times of Harvey Milk is a perfect documentary. It is one of the most moving, honest, reflective, intelligent films you will see. Watch it. It already won the Oscar. Sean Penn and Gus Van Sant - hat's off. I don't say we don't still need this message, or that you are not talented filmmakers. But you can not top this.

The Reader
In a post-war world, a beautiful blond woman and an innocent man-boy fall in love through the magic of literature. Her mysterious disappearance breaks his heart. Yes, Sophie's Choice was a very good film. This is nominated too.

Slumdog Millionaire
For people who thought The Kite Runner was just too sunny. We follow a slumboy through his life, where a lot of horrible things happen to him until they stop. The wafer-thin mint at the end of this feast of porridge makes you forget the deus ex machina twist. It's like the Arabian Nights written by Primo Levi on a theme by Charles Dickens. This is the kind of film you say is heavy, hard to watch, well-acted (because everyone is so miserable) and "important." It is the kind of film that wins Oscars. It is the front-runner going into Feb 22, but if I had been at home I probably would have turned it off. Please sir...I want no more.

Determining where the votes will land means handicapping the Hollywood mood of the moment, which could fall in several directions, depending on the message they want to send. SAG is in negotiations, so a good protest/little guy tribute like Milk could express what is on the actors' minds. Benjamin Button is the answer to that vote -- we can make movies without actors. Don't push us, SAG. Those votes might cancel each other out.

Few people in the movie biz are Republicans, and plenty of them lost all their money to Madoff. Frost/Nixon throws light on the corrupting force of power, but you have to be old Hollywood to still hate Nixon, and Paul Newman is dead. The Reader... even Ricky Gervais said that Holocaust movies = awards, and that is generally true. Slumdog took the Globes, and a lot of voters will take their lead from there.

So I'll predict Slumdog for now. Until I reserve the right to change my mind again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Noon in America

Can you take another Inauguration post?

It seems like overload, I know, but if you consider a weblog (how - cute, she said "weblog." Please send me a "facsimile" copy of your weblog. by "Federal Express") if.. you consider a weblog a journal of sorts, then it would seem strange not to have an Inaugural Post. Years later when some graduate student writes her dissertation on the great loss to letters my lack of ambition caused, she should not have to devote a chapter to why there was no 44th Inauguration post.

I haven't watched an inauguration in a long time. Perhaps the reasons are obvious.

I am a sucker for this type of ceremony, with "distinguished guests," and speeches and prayers, doves or flyovers or whatever you got. Inauguration, Olympics, Pops on the Hatch Shell. It's all the same to me. Lord knows I cry on Oscar Night, so it wouldn't have taken much to move me in today's ceremony.

1984 -- Morning in America. We took the excess material off our collars, put it on our shoulders, and called it macaroni. We chanted U-S-A, which I promise you we did not do before the 1980 Olympics. We said we were better off than we were 4 years before, because Holy Cow, the interest rate is down to 11%!! We bought radios as big as TVs and strutted hard.

Morning, indeed. The kind of Saturday morning you have on vacation where you order the Rootie-Tootie Fresh 'n' Fruity, smoke on the beach, and fall asleep in a deck chair until you get a tanline around your socks.

Bush-41 was a 9am Monday staff meeting with cold danish, where you got sniped at for 4 years over some damn MBO you didn't even know was on the list.

Maybe it's where I fall in the generations -- not a Boomer, not an X -- but I feel like I've been trying to find myself for the past 16 years. Maybe the country was reflecting on me, or I on it. Who are we, what are we doing? Does anyone have a plan? Are we just making this up? And as anyone who has worked side-by-side with me will tell you, I am not capable of trying any harder than the people in charge.

But here is a man who wants us to be a better America -- who expects that we will when we bring out the best that we have. His is not a Vince Lombardi speech, but then we are not playing football. The goal, coach, is not in fact "to beat the other guy."

It is to beat the guy we let ourselves become: cynical and stale. It is, as he said, to keep our legacy. It was a commanding pep talk that makes me want to be worthy of the man who gave it.

It is no longer morning, America. It is High Noon. And we are burnin' daylight. There is a lot to do before the whistle blows, and it is hot out there. But at the end of this long afternoon is a job we can be proud of.

Today was not flawless. The stumbling oath seemed a bad omen. Not everyone with tickets got onto the grounds. The stock market, and Ted Kennedy, actually fell. Ban Ki-Moon called Gaza "a collective political failure." But this political cynic was inspired. Put me in coach. I'm ready to play.

Monday, January 19, 2009

And both feet on the floor

From the Providence Journal....
"...Rhode Island lawmakers are considering a bill that would close the loophole in this state’s laws that makes prostitution legal if it occurs indoors."

Say again please?

“A lot of people don’t realize that prostitution is legal in Rhode Island if you do it indoors,” State Police Inspector Stephen Bannon testified. In an accompanying letter, State Police Supt. Col. Brendan P. Doherty noted that under current law, “persons are free to solicit sex for money in newspapers and/or over the Internet as long as the conduct that is agreed upon takes place in private.”

Count me among those people. Massachusetts residents might not have had time to notice all the legal nooky we could be having, so busy are we driving into New Hampshire for cigarettes and tattoos.

But now the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (little state, big name) is thinking it should pencil some things in around that topic. What would Roger Williams say? Probably after "shut up Massachusetts, I don't happen to be addressing you," he might add...

"The greatest crime in the world is not developing your potential. When you do what you do best, you are helping not only yourself, but the world."-- Roger Williams

See how fun quotations out of context can be?

Let's break down this legal conundrum.

When did this law go into effect?
It's not so much that there is a law reading "oh yea, oh yea, the Chicken Ranch is now in operation." In fact it is the wake of a specifically written "Prostitution and Lewdness" statute that outlaws pandering and brothels without actually outlawing prostitution.

With all the synonyms they brought off the bench to pass this law, you'd think someone might have noticed. But then, this is the actual text (take a deep breath):

§ 11-34-1 Pandering. – (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to secure a person for a house of ill fame, or to procure for a person a place as inmate of a house of ill fame; or by any promise, threat, by abuse of person, or by any other device or scheme, to cause, induce, persuade, or encourage a person to become a prostitute, to enter upon or lead a wanton or dissolute life, to become an inmate of a house of ill fame, to enter a place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed, or remain in it as an inmate, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. It shall be unlawful for any person to receive or give, or agree to receive or give, any money or thing of value for procuring or attempting to procure any person to become a prostitute, to enter upon or lead a wanton or dissolute life, or to become an inmate of a house of ill fame, either within or without this state, or come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. It shall be unlawful for any person by any means to keep, hold, or detain against his or her will or restrain any person in any place for the purpose of prostitution, or in a house of ill fame or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed for any purpose; or to directly or indirectly keep, hold, detain, or restrain, or attempt to keep, hold, detain, or restrain in any house of ill fame or other place where prostitution is allowed or practiced, any person by any means for the purpose of compelling that person, directly or indirectly, to pay, liquidate, or cancel any debt, dues, or obligations incurred or said to have been incurred by that person.

I think you know how hard it is to get people to read the material before the change management meeting.

A 2007 document amends the act with the explanation, "This act would define the crime of prostitution to include any location, would create
punishments for individuals who would attempt to procure the services of a prostitute, and would define the crime of permitting prostitution within a premise. "

It forgot to define "prostitute." And by all appearances, used the Nevada state laws as a guideline. oops. If they had read further in the NV statues, they would have found, "It is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or solicitation therefor, except in a licensed house of prostitution."

What's all this "indoors" business?
Another example of the importance of choosing the right words when you craft your legislature.

Rhode Island unwittingly wrote the opposite of Nevada's prostitution law.

§ 11-34-8 Loitering for indecent purposes. – (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to stand or wander in or near any public highway or street, or any public or private place, and attempt to engage passersby in conversation, or stop or attempt to stop motor vehicles, for the purpose of prostitution or other indecent act, or to patronize, induce, or otherwise secure a person to commit any indecent act. Any person found guilty under this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be subject to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months, or by a fine of not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.

So I can put an ad in the paper?
guess so.

DrawingIn is not taking a position (heh.heh-heh) on prostitution. It is taking a position on bad writing. You spent so much space defining detain that you forgot who you were detaining. Or maybe whom. I never really know. But I know how to write the law you wanted:
"No money is exchange for sex."
Then you can spend our taxes defining "money" and "sex" while the rest of us catch a plane for Vegas.

Make fun of Nevada all you want (and I do plenty without ever having been there) but they also have this law.

NRS 201.232 Breast feeding: Legislative intent; authorized in any public or private location where mother is authorized to be.
1. The Legislature finds and declares that:
(a) The medical profession in the United States recommends that children from birth to the age of 1 year should be breast fed, unless under particular circumstances it is medically inadvisable.
(b) Despite the recommendation of the medical profession, statistics reveal a declining percentage of mothers who are choosing to breast feed their babies.
(c) Many new mothers are now choosing to use formula rather than to breast feed even before they leave the hospital, and only a small percentage of all mothers are still breast feeding when their babies are 6 months old.
(d) In addition to the benefit of improving bonding between mothers and their babies, breast feeding offers better nutrition, digestion and immunity for babies than does formula feeding, and it may increase the intelligence quotient of a child. Babies who are breast fed have lower rates of death, meningitis, childhood leukemia and other cancers, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, diarrheal diseases, otitis media, allergies, obesity and developmental delays.
(e) Breast feeding also provides significant benefits to the health of the mother, including protection against breast cancer and other cancers, osteoporosis and infections of the urinary tract. The incidence of breast cancer in the United States might be reduced by 25 percent if every woman breast fed all her children until they reached the age of 2 years.
(f) The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund have established as one of their major goals for the decade the encouragement of breast feeding.
(g) The social constraints of modern society weigh against the choice of breast feeding and lead new mothers with demanding time schedules to opt for formula feeding to avoid embarrassment, social ostracism or criminal prosecution.
(h) Any genuine promotion of family values should encourage public acceptance of this most basic act of nurture between a mother and her baby, and no mother should be made to feel incriminated or socially ostracized for breast feeding her child.
2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breast feed her child in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.

Not sure if any of your Puritan states can say the same.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Things I have actually said this week in response to...

"Two weeks off? Where are you going?"

1. Reserve duty

2. Rehab

3. Inauguration
which led to the more subtle...

4. My friend Barry from Law School has this thing this weekend...

5. I am a material witness in a murder trial

6. I'm getting married

7. I have to do this community service, and they said I could do 10 10-hr days and knock it all off at once

8. My Mission

9. I'm goin' to DISNEY WOORRLLD!

10. CareerBuilder
come on. that's wicked funny.

Miss Bender is turning out for 2 weeks and hopes to keep us both entertained by discovering what her brain does when it isn't running the WENUS in its sleep.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All aboard, America.....

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

One of my Facebook crew recently posted pictures from her school's Freedom Train concert. And I was transported. Come with me, won't you?

It was 1975-6, and the country went Bicentennial mad. It tried to. But because it was the 70's, the red-white-and-blue made all the brown corduroy and panelling look even bleaker, and the pewter plates couldn't compete with our geometric floor lamps. Our president was Gerald Ford for heaven's sake! If this commercial doesn't make your blood run hot, well, then.. you are normal.

It became apparent that before we could get excited about our history, we were going to have to learn it. Enter... the Freedom Train. Sing along.

Inside a train, behind glass exhibits, traveled the great "artifacts" of our young nation. You entered at one end of the train and came out the other -- by way of a conveyor belt (it's the future!) to keep the crowds moving. I can not find a comprehensive list of what these artifacts were. I can remember a Moon rock, and a basketball sneaker I remembered as Wilt Chamberlain's, but research confirms it was Kareem's.

"500 precious treasures," says this website, which is more interested in the train itself than the cultural phenomenon. I should put that in quotes, but it seems mean. We were easily impressed in "them days."

We still had world's fairs.

You waited for the Freedom train to come to your town. Oh, when will it be OUR turn? You had to get tickets in advance. To add to the spar-spangled spectacle, Mamie Eisenhower welcomed you. (Mamie. That is how unbelievably OLD you are)

Go home right now and tell your teenager that your family vacation is at the Pittsburgh railyard to see a museum on wheels. You should have seen my niece's expression when we said "Colonial Williamsburg."

stuff you could buy

  • belt buckles (giant buckles is a repressed memory begging to be explored)
    souvenir program and for Kids! (is this cereal seriously called Pep?)
  • The Plate
  • The Pennant. In an era that worshipped the 1950s, they thought we might buy a pennant.
Dodie and I collected "natural souvenirs," and felt very superior about it. I think they were rocks from the rail bed. She will know. She will call me right now to set me straight. When she does, I will be able to report back:
1. what we wore
2. what/where we ate
3. 3 artifacts I have not mentioned (I may be stretching her capacity here)

She is really the brains of this outfit. She should have her own blog, but she says the computer makes her wooooozy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Project Midnight

Enjoy this experiment with/tribute to the power of social networking. It was a simple request:

Video Blogger/Social Commentator Mary C Matthews -- (see Video Pancakes, linked left) -- created a Facebook Event. Send a photo of yourself at midnight, Jan 1 2009. This is her tribute.

If you like what you see, please leave comments on the Video Pancakes site.

No one likes to blog in a vacuum

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Money for nothing

American Express wants me to go Platinum. Not in a Diana Ross way, but in the "upgrade to Platinum membership" way. Here's what you get for your $450 annual fee, besides snickered at by American Express:

"An exceptional array of premium benefits..."

1) Triple rewards points. Ok, that's pretty cool. I have bought my dining room furniture and most of my vacations on rewards points. Gas Gouge 2008 made this very handy.

2) Airport lounge access
what does go on in the airport lounges? I picture it like Vegas, and like Vegas probably filled with oily business men. I'll tell you this -- if I sign into a lounge and there are just as many kids playing freeze tag in an enclosed space as there are in the terminal.... I will want some cash back.

3) Hotel/resort upgrades
membership does have its privileges. Don't you like the idea of flipping out the platinum and saying, "what else ya got?"

4) 24 hr travel assistance. meh. Now you're stretching. And I think I already have that. Maybe at the Platinum level it speaks French.

5) Dinner reservations
here's a secret they've been keeping from us: "Every day at more than 1,300 of the most acclaimed restaurants in the US, Canada, and abroad, a reservation is held for Platinum Club members." I am a celebrity!

6) Dedicated Concierge team
my dream of expanding my staff comes true. Also good to know this could be my fallback career when my horoscope comes true this year.

This is that same healthcare math where I wonder if I would use $450 worth of services, or if I should just buy an airport lounge membership.

In a related story, Sears would like me to know that the service warranty on my washing machine expires next month. They recommend that I buy a 3 year extended service plan for $200, and guess whether I will need $300 worth of service in the next 3 years. Come to think of it, if we called our health insurance "extended wellness plans," would we buy it?

I found myself reconsidering a gym membership this year, but couldn't find one that would admit up front how much they are. Like the airlines, they make up the price by the minute. And everyone knows it is impossible to quit. A dear friend always said the gym should cost $10,000 and give you money back every time you use it. This would be agreeable to both parties I think.

In this same stack of mail, though, was a card from the local pizza joint. Not my preferred pizza joint, and they must know that, because the card was for "1 fee small cheese pizza." Now that's an offer I can get behind.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Today's Civics lesson

The latest chapter on my TSA claim:

Dear Claimant:
This constitutes final administrative action on your claim against the United states under the Federal Tort Claims Act based upon the alleged negligent or wrongful acts or omissions of Transportation Security Administration personnel.

Let's pause here. Defensive much? "Claimant?" You know my name; you made me enter it about 10 times on your form. And don't say I have filed claim against THE UNITED STATES (cue Ken Burns music) like some kind of Weather Underground.

Your claim is denied. After careful evaluation of all the evidence, we have determined that there are no legally sustainable grounds upon which a finding of liability can be based on the part of TSA.

1. I had a journal in my suitcase
2. You opened my suitcase
3. I didn't have a journal in my suitcase
ergo.... yeh there can

If you are dissatisfied with the action taken on your claim, you may file suit in an appropriate US District Court not later than six months after the date this letter was mailed. This information is not intended to imply that any such suit would be successful.

Yours sincerely.

Sincerely. HA!

Part of the lore of my circle of hometown friends involves the notebook I lost outside the Peabody Jr High library. In a similar way, it was there... until it wasn't. Not just any notebook, but one of the dozens of spiral notebooks in which I was recording a rambling novel manuscript over the course of 4 or 5 years. The less said about that the better. The story is, it was on the floor (I was sitting on it) waiting for the library to open (we were Pure Nerds). I stood up and entered with my friends, said Oh, my notebook, went back out and it was gone.

Never found. Like this one, it is lost to the ether.

Two codas to this tale. If you have two, are they codas?

1. I decided to call USAirways to see if they had it in their box of pocketknives and mace and suspicious flip-flops. I want you to know that everyone was very helpful and patient -- first the 1-800 woman, who is nowhere near Boston and had to look up the correct contact number, which took a very long time -- then the service desk woman, working on New Year's Day and sounding bored about it, but she patched me to the baggage room where I got someone willing to go look.

He comes back and says, "what's your name?" (No, I didn't have my name in my journal. I had my name all over that spiral notebook, including the fact that the main character in the story was ME. I was 15. back off) And I said if it had a name it wasn't mine. he says, "we've got 4 or 5 books like that, but none matches your description." We talked a little longer about how TSA works, and how I had already filed a claim which had been denied, and he closes with, "Well I'm sorry, it's not here."

I said, "I'm just nervous that it is one of them. It wouldn't have a name in it, though," and he says, "No this one says, 'If Found, please contact...'"

Are you caught up with me? Are you thinking, "Then you should contact them"? I left it alone. he was very nice.

2. On my most recent flight, I kicked it up a USPATRIOT notch by going through the Marvel Comic x-ray glasses machine you see above. Notice that in these illustrations, people have washboard abs. I shudder to imagine my own.

You get in one of these
and pantomime Y-M-C-A. Out of your sight, but on Wrist-talkie with your TSA Agent is another agent who ogles your person looking for suspicious articles like your IUD. (here's how they describe it, if you want to hear both sides) Your agent will repeat what they say to you without any context, like this:
TSA: Right rear pocket
You: what about it? that's my wallet? What do you people WANT from me? Did my parents escape the camps for THIS?
Me: {remove wallet with 2 fingers and display with a flourish, like a magician}
TSA: It's a wallet (which sounds idiotic because you forget she is not talking to YOU)
TSA: Left front pocket
Me: {same dexterous gesture with my folded money. You now know exactly how to jump me for my valuables.}
TSA: some... cash
Me: {forgetting we are not having a chat} Hey, a girl's gotta eat.
They send you on your way.
I predict I am one trip away from the No Fly List.
Here are some fun blog posts about Encounters with the TSA in the Wild:

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The internet wouldn't lie

AOL "news" is full of important things you need to know. and there is no time like Jan 1 for them to report The Most Important New News:

Your 2009 horoscope.

You'll recall that I missed my 2008 horoscope (root cause: lack of caring) and I wouldn't have gone searching for this one, but AOL offered it up with Keith Urban's bio and the Thailand nightclub fire. because those are all equal in social importance.

So let's see what the year has in store for me.
(does your monitor show that font as the color of a grape popsicle, like mine does? good.)

It's time to settle down and stabilize your life after all the changes of last year, when opportunity knocked at your door. [damn. I missed it. I was probably at work]

Jupiter, the planet of growth, moved through your sign, widening your horizons and showing you a new direction to success. [Sam Adams, the beverage of growth, also moved through me this year, widening a lot of things. ]

This year expansive Jupiter visits your 2nd House of Self-Worth, offering you a chance to increase your bank account while also improving your self-esteem. Although it can be easy to acquire material possessions now, be careful about declaring what you want, for you might end up with more than you need -- yet still lack happiness. [you know what I think after reading all this good news? What is my FIRST House of Self-Worth? Acquiring a 2nd house at this point would hardly increase my bank account, but I am for anything that would]

There's no reason to deprive yourself of physical pleasure, but make sure your metaphysical needs are also being addressed. Jupiter is part of a rare triple planet conjunction occurring this year that includes Chiron the Healer and Neptune the Dreamer, peaking on May 23–27, July 10–22 and throughout the month of December. [that's what he said. They sound like WOW characters. never forget that physical pleasure is right at your fingertips.]

Letting go of blame and forgiving those who have wronged you in the past are parts of a process that will build your self-assurance. [here we go again with the forgiveness. I am going to get to that blog post, really. I am]

Practical Saturn in your 9th House of Big Ideas [If I ever change the name of this blog, that's the winner] is there to remind you that you cannot climb every mountain you see, however ambitious and determined you may feel.

Grandiose thinking is exciting, but it can get in the way of accomplishing real goals by diluting your energy with unrealizable dreams. [ that is so funny, because I swear I said that very thing to the Boss just last week]

One of the basic planetary themes of the year -- a struggle between responsible planning and spontaneous self-expression -- is emphasized when restrictive Saturn opposes unruly Uranus on February 5 and September 15. This entire year and these dates, in particular, are turning points in a larger cycle that began on November 4, 2008 and completes on July 26, 2010. [Ok, now HERE it seems like we have some information we can use. February 5 feels very soon. Should I take the day off? Should I make any big decisions? What is the struggles between planning and spontaneity? Dammit, zodiac, do you see why you are not helping?!]

You can't get away with denying your true ambitions, for your suppressed feelings will leak into other areas of your life and wreak havoc. [joke's on you, zodiac. if you suppress your feelings enough, you can deny ambition entirely]

Examining your unexpressed emotions can make the difference between a year of great accomplishment and one of frustration and failure. [ yes, but which is which, eh? If I knew that, don't you think I would express those emotions?]

You'll begin to see where your life falls on this spectrum when Saturn first squares evolutionary Pluto on November 15, the opening volley in a period of dynamic personal and career change that affects you through August 21, 2010. [note to self: possible layoff day]

Pluto [not a planet, shut up , Pluto] is still in the beginning of a long-term visit to your sign that will gradually change much of your life as you now know it. [holy crap. Pluto is packing up the house.]

Eliminating nonessential activities can make the ongoing transformation easier, while holding on to old ideas of success will make it much more difficult. [I don't think I like this next year and a half]

A Full Moon Eclipse in calculating Capricorn on July 7 can reveal the flaws in your current plan for advancement. Rather than being a setback, though, this can show you exactly what you need to do to clear the path in front of you. [I don't think I'll sleep at all for the rest of the year]

Support from taskmaster Saturn suggests that you can persevere and reach your goals as long as you're willing to learn from past mistakes.

You see, if I had any goals at all, this would read like exciting news. This is no frame of mind in which to right my performance review. In a related story, according to Facebook quiz What 80s movie are you, I am Say Anything, which gives me the opportunity to say...

"I have this theory of convergence, that good things always happen with bad things. I know you have to deal with them at the same time, but I just don't know why they have to happen at the same time. I just wish I could work out some schedule." ~~ Diane Court