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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blogleague trophy

More on the Christmas visit soon--fun with rental cars and magnifying devices.

In the meantime, as promised, a preview of the fantasy football BlogLeague "Trophy." Whew--do I have bad taste or what? The one I chose isn't pictured here--it's a more elaborate version of these.

Congrats Wendy (on winning--not on receiving this monstrosity--coming to your home in mid-January 2007)!

Now, aren't the rest of you glad:

1) you didn't play; or

2) you didn't win?

Thought so.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bloggy Holidays

It's heresy to say this given the time of year, but the holiday spirit has eluded me in 2006.

Oh sure, I've bought gifts, and even wrapped some of them. But I just seem to be going through the motions.

Things may change when we arrive at my parents' house, I don't know.

When I dropped Biscuit off at the dog boarding place this morning, I wished the folks there a Merry Christmas. My favorite woman at the kennel said that they had to work all weekend. "It's just us and the dogs, though. No people for three days after this," she said brightly. Yep, lots of dogs for Christmas. Sounds fun to me.

My office was decorated nicely by my staff. We opted for the no-tradition route. Snowpeople and snowflakes. Because we work for the state, we can go that route or the inclusive one, wishing equally that people have nice Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, and whatever else. Solstice? We are in California after all. Still, however festive the snowpeople are, they haven't fostered (in me, at least) a spirit of the season. Honey and I haven't decorated because we're not going to be here. So, no fostering at home either.

Anyway, we're off to eastern realms tomorrow where I may borrow my Dad's santa hat (it's a nice one) and try to shake off the heretical blahs.

What I can say (and mean) is that I hope all my blog friends have a wonderful end of 2006. I may blog from the lands of peaches. I'm glad to have spent this year blogging and am deeply grateful to have connected to people this way.

To finish like the government employee I am, I end with the secular/no-tradition wish...

Happy Holidays and may your snowpeople stay frozen.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Now that everyone has had virtual theoretical sex with my therapist (in my last entry's comments), I'm moving on to new topics. You all owe me money for all the trauma. Not really. Other people owe me money for therapy, but blog friends are not among them.

Anyway...we're just back from Las Vegas and, as is my wont, I am over-thinking it. While in Las Vegas I manage to not think much about it other than in the usual sensory way. The massage feels good...why in the hell did I bet on the Dolphins...I ate too much at the buffet...that kind of thing. Since I've gotten back (and indeed, as we left), I began to think about the environment itself. So, I'd like to take you, oh blog friends, if you can rip yourselves away from the aforementioned virtual sex with MY therapist, on a virtual tour.

Las Vegas, like the hyper-America it is, is all about angles. No, not angels. They don't come to Las Vegas. Maybe fallen ones.

We stayed at THEhotel. Honey, copy editing queen that she is, does not like the "styling" on THEhotel. THEhotel is part of Mandalay Bay.

Art and modernity dominate the aesthetic. It's dark, light, swirl, contrast. White and green flowers in plain vases contrasted by a floral explosion above dominate a stark entranceway. "There should be places to sit," was Honey's comment. I agree totally. Butts before aesthetics.

The hall to the check-in desk establishes what you find through THEhotel, glass and clean lines dominated by muted or primary colors.

The art theme persists. Mondrian inspired plates of glass in the elevator give way to a musk-ox like swirl of art on the wall in the elevator lobby of our floor.

If there's any doubt that the perspective theme will dominate my thoughts, it's done away with by the massive painting that greets us as we head to the room. And, no, my therapist doesn't look like her.

The dense environment that one finds in the theme hotels is not overlooked in THEhotel. The theme may be a little more opaque than, say, Excalibur. When you get down to it, the theme is the THE. Thusly, THEpad and THEtp, to pick the two I took pictures of.

Perspective can be a lovely thing, too. The upscale nature of the hotel was reinforced through touches. The lily on the pillow one night was a nice touch (as were the Godiva chocolates--one dark and one milk as if they knew Honey's and my chocolate preferences--they were consumed before I could take a picture). Oh and the whirlpool was very nice, very nice indeed.

And lest we forget that the individual perspective is not part of the equation, may I present my Las Vegas drink o' the trip. My recent history has suggested that I will spend casino store prices to consume a drink that I have never before consumed each night before bed. SoBe Lean was June's choice. This time it was Pom Blackberry Tea. MMM. It's sold in containers that can be rinsed and used as glasses later. Quite the "bargain" for the expensive random Las Vegas drink. Sort of like how they used to sell jelly in cartoon glasses. Drink the tea. Keep the glass!

My perspective was made complete by being able to stare at my favorite casino shape of all. What's not to like about a black glass pyramid?

I can't think of a thing.

(Oh, and we had a great time, the spa was lovely, we lost money, and had two terrific buffets. We also had the best burger I've ever eaten and saw some sleeping lions).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Therapist theories

My therapist is very tall.

Today I watched from my couch vantage point as she looked for a book on a lower shelf in her office and was struck again by how tall she seems. She's also thin, which makes her seem taller.

The book she was looking for concerns itself with a subject I struggle with mightily. By looking for it, she was essentially diagnosing someone else. "Why Dr. C (I used her whole name) are you doing a remote diagnosis on someone you've never met?" In her very therapist way, she neither confirmed nor denied that she was.

She offered to loan me the book. I demurred, figuring my uni's library would have it. Turns out they don't. I see her one more time before the end of the year. I could borrow it then. I could order it from interlibrary loan. I could buy it from Amazon who are offering free 2-day shipping upgrades today.

The Amazon thing is pretty funny. "Here, we'll rush you a book on psychiatric disorders just in time for holiday gift giving!" Or at least that's how it seems to me.

Honey offered to buy it for me if I'd read it in the presence of the person who was semi-diagnosed today by my therapist. Again, I demurred.

I wonder sometimes if I believe in my therapist, in part at least, because she is so tall and so calm. We all need something to believe in, after all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Tuesday is a long way from Saturday

We head out Saturday for a sojourn to Las Vegas. The weekend between the big rodeo (it has a proper name, but I'm not looking it up) and Christmas is one of the cheapest weekends of the year.

What could be better?

Football to bet on.

The Mandalay sportsbook.

Last minute shopping to wrap up.

The spa at Mandalay. Massages have been booked.

A ride across the desert in the winter in the FJ.

New weird slot machines to discover.

The Original Pancake House at Green Valley.

The way they answer the phone at Green Valley: "It's a beautiful day at Green Valley Ranch."

Watching bryduck's skill at craps.

Watching slangred decided where to bet her VERY small stake. It's so small I've forgotten how much it is.

That we're staying at THEhotel. High class all the way.

The only problem? It's Tuesday and my staff is close to revolt. Damn retreat.

Saturday will get here, though. I know it will.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Growing up

On Saturday, Honey and I grew up. Sure, evidence suggests that we had already done so. We own a house, have cars we make payments on, own pets. We're edging into middle-age (Honey claims we're already there, but she's SIX MONTHS older than I am, so she'll get there first--those six months will be sweet (even if I'm in them right now)).

The day started normally, I guess. I had one goal for the afternoon, and that was to get a substantial start on my Christmas buying. I have pledged to not enter a mall until 2007. I'm happy to go to stores that are divorced from malls, but I will not go to the mall. Nope. Several hours and the memorization of my Visa's special secret number later, I had a number of gifts bought, "wrapped," and on their way. When my mother called and suggested that my sister-in-law liked outfits from Nordstroms, I haughtily pointed out that Nordstroms was at the MALL and that L'Occitane, which she also likes, was online and size-free. That and I can't bring myself to buy clothes for my sister-in-law. She's a wonderful person, but I won't buy size 4 clothes on principle.

Anyway, while I was being online shopper/shipper, Honey was readying us for our growing up.

Working as I do, in academics, I have made friends with folks who are older than I am. One of them is retiring early and leaving the area. We were invited to a going away party for her last week, which we were late to because...we were invited to TWO parties the same night. We are just that popular.

Anyway, we wanted to invite them over to our house for a smaller gathering, having been invited several times to theirs. Time is running short. She leaves in two weeks. We're going to Las Vegas next weekend (woo-hoo!) and my parents' the weekend after. So last night was it.

A dinner party.

Honey made beef, potatoes, and asparagus. We followed with chocolate chip cookies for desert. People like those things. They don't get served at dinner parties, at least in my experience, but each thing was greeted with enthusiasm.

We don't have it quite down. Biscuit was REALLY aggressive when the first guests arrived and therefore had to spend the evening outside. We didn't have six of any silverware (knife, fork, or spoon). The guests got the "good" flatware and the steak knives. We don't have a butter knife. The fire made the house a little hot. I got cork residue in two bottles of wine and had to replace wine glasses. We don't have enough wine glasses, so people had to use the same one all evening, at least until it became corky. Then they could have a new one. I didn't buy enough sparkling water or enough of the same kind of wine.

But the conversation was good, the food was eaten, people stayed for the whole evening.

Honey said she kept wanting to ask our guests (both couples are veteran entertainers) how we were doing. When we cleaned up the kitchen after everyone had parted, we agreed we had done well, especially for our first attempt to have a dinner party for more than two other people.

How we mark passage changes over time, I know. Last night, Honey and I did something we had never done before. It went well. And this morning, we're just a little more worldly. I'm even tempted to see if we can get six each of these:

but then I remind myself that that might involve a trip to the mall. That, and there's not a spork in sight. What's up with that? Sporks belong in fine dining...but I don't have six sporks either. Oh well, someday I'll get it exactly right and then I'll be a grown-up.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The lunch table

Our office doesn't have a lunchroom per se. We have a conference table that doubles as the lunch table. The area has a sink and years ago someone brought in a small refrigerator which gets complained about regularly. Its maintenance is taken VERY seriously by everyone. If other things were taken that seriously, I would be happy and the office would work better. We can't replace the refrigerator with state money (it's against the rules), so that rule also gets discussed with some frequency. I'm usually blamed.

This morning, as happens more regularly than I'd like, one of my staff had a birthday. I suppose they're all allowed. Given that there aren't that many of them, though, it seems to me that the birthday thing happens more often than it should.

Some time ago, I dictated a new rule that we would no longer have the office fund (to which I contribute rather disproportionately) pay for lunch or breakfast AND a cake. Instead, I decreed (like Caesar) that the birthday celebrant could choose lunch or breakfast OR a cake and have it be paid for from the fund to which I contribute disproportionately.

Fairness aside: How disproportionately? Between 3 and 6 times more than anyone else. Why so disproportionately? I was told it was my obligation based on a precendent set by my predecessor who makes at least $30K more a year than I do. How do I know what she makes? Because as state employees, all our salaries are published in a book every year which is kept in the library and consulted often by many.

Anyway, my Caesar-like proclamation (I wish I had one of those dudes to go announce what I had decided in the forum like Caesar's dudes did), was met with some resistance and some negotiation. I capitulated to our newest employee having a lunch/cake combo for her birthday because it was her FIRST birthday with us. It wasn't her first birthday, mind you. Though her clerical skills would be really notable had it been.

Anyway, this morning, one of my employees was celebrating her birthday and had chosen breakfast as her celebratory meal. Office Manager showed up with the breakfast we had each ordered. This was a change from the last birthday, where two of us didn't get our food and OM spent a good portion of her meal trying to get me to eat fried chicken livers despite my attempts to avoid said food. This morning, I ate the small thing I had ordered and then got up to walk into my office. I wasn't being anti-social, I wanted to check the currently ongoing woot-off for stupid stuff that I shouldn't buy. Why is the woot-off so compelling? Same reason I think garage sales and thrift stores can be. As Honey's mother says, "you never know."

As soon as I left, the loudness and mirth level at the table rose. People were talking and laughing as they hadn't been a few minutes before. After a while, our one year old clerical wonder brought me my water cup, assuming (hoping?) that I was not coming back. I pointed out that breakfast would be followed by staff meeting and that's why I had left my cup there. She seemed a little deflated by the idea of staff meeting. It happens every Thursday morning. It may be deflating every Thursday morning. I don't know. I know I don't exactly go to bed Wednesday night with joyful anticipation in my heart.

As I began this entry, I was waiting for a pod of staff to finish at the lunch table. When they did, I got up and went eat. I eat with them sometimes. After the mirth increase this morning though, I didn't want to today. When I first started here I remember sitting in my office and listening to them having lunch. It seemed really nice then.

I found salt packets and plastic spoons in my predecessor's desk. It's possible that she felt as I did. I've pictured her salting her food at her desk.

I'm trying to resist talking about the lunch table in school and the day I asked if I could sit down with a group of kids and was told no. Didn't resist it very well, did I?

Tomorrow is our annual staff retreat. I've designed team-building activities. I hope they help.

I wonder if I could design one called "talk to sporks like a human even though she's the boss." Probably not.

Now, who do I see about one the Caesar announcement guys?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Long burning

Late Saturday afternoon, Honey and I drove up one to the top corner of our fair valley. There's a place there with cut wood stacked as high as I could imagine a log stack having any integrity. We pulled into the lot. We both expected (though neither of us had expressed this expectation to the other one) "surly log guys." Instead we were greeted by friendly log guys, who discussed our wood options--citrus, eucalyptus, mixed, etc. We went with eucalyptus because I requested the longest-burning wood they had.

"It's a little hard to get going, but once you do, it will burn forever"

The FJ was all loaded up (its rubber interior was a comfort once I looked at all the logs we had bought). Honey and I got the wood back to the log holder using a tarp. I didn't fall down, even once. Che il miracolo!

There are those who have not lived in Southern California who will wonder about our acquisition of wood for the fireplace.

We're deep into Santa Ana season. Usually the Santa Anas are dry hot winds. This year, they have taken on a new quality. They are cold and persistent. As usual, I have perma-headache. And my nostrils have lost all dampness. Bleedy motherfucking membranes.

So, as the cities around us burn (literally), Honey and I light hard-to-keep-going fires in our fireplace in the middle of one of the non-fire zone in our region.

I have discovered one thing that will get that eucalyptus to burn all night. Speaking, as I was, of miracles...may I present the JavaLog? They're a little pricey, but seem worth it to me. I got mine at Whole Foods. Environmentally friendly, these things burn hot and long and when cradled amongst even the most stubborn logs, and will promote flames with the most stubborn wood. Now if only they could do something about my nose and head. I suppose, if the choice is between miracoli piccoli and nessuni miracoli, I'll go with the small ones every time.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

On the way home Thursday night

With apologies and thanks to Wendy for the form...

Scout (noticing a dashboard light): Hey, the airbag is on. That's good.

Sporks: Yeah, but that's one thing I've discovered I don't like about my new car

Scout: What?

Sporks: Well the car will turn off the airbag for a child or small adult based on a weight sensor in the seat. And the other day I went to the store and put two fridge packs of soda on the seat. The car thought they were a small child and beeped at me to put the seatbelt on the whole way home.

Scout: Well, that would be ok if it were a sack of onions or something.

Sporks: I guess I could have just fastened the seat belt.

Scout: Yes, if you sat them vertically, they would be ok.

Sporks: (Laughing) Honey, you just need to fasten the belt. You don't actually have to fasten them in like a child... Hey wait, is that why you thought a sack of onions would be ok? Because they're child shaped and belt would fit nicely around them?

Scout: (Also laughing) I can be a little dim.

Sporks: Can I do a Wendy-like dialogue post?

Scout: (laughing) Sure.

Happy Friday. Keep your sodas and onions safe. Like children, they travel best in the back seat. Car seats optional.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Insurance and religion

Yesterday I read Suburban Lesbian's latest post about religion and homosexuality. It got me to thinking. I've had a long and complicated relationship with religion as the daughter of a prominent woman minister. That my very straight brother followed her into the ministry makes things all the more complicated.

Last Easter I felt very guilty about not going to church though I had no actual interest in doing so. I worked out instead. My anxiety level went down after my workout. My therapist says that's a normal physiological reaction. So one lesson to take away from my blog today is that a workout can decrease your anxiety level. I should never stop working out given my general level of anxiety.

My mother worries about my not finding a church home. My brother stopped asking. I know many people who struggle within organized religion about and around homosexuality. I am not sure I will want to do so again.

In a secular vein...

This morning, I was the model of efficiency. I went to the credit union affiliated with my university, applied for and received an auto loan at 1% below the one the dealer had offered me, got the check, drove it to the dealership (25 miles away in L.A. traffic), and was at my desk before noon. I then called my insurance agent to delete the old car and add the new.

My insurance agent called me back and in a very matter-of-fact way inquired whether Honey and I were domestic partners and registered thusly with the state. I allowed as how we were. She announced brightly that our insurance company offered married policies to registered domestic partners and that we could get deeper discounts on our auto and homeowners' policies. "No exclusions!" she announced brightly.

We're in trouble, I think, when insurance companies are more forward thinking than religious and political institutions. Of course, in our capitalistic environment, industry often leads the way in social change. And saving money? Who's opposed to that? Not me. I wonder, though, about feeling more validated in my relationship when buying a car than I do in thinking about issues of faith and religion. It shouldn't take a leap of faith for me to want my minister and fellow congregants to have more trust in who I love and share my life with than my insurance agent does.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The building I work in is small. This is especially true for a campus building. Campus buildings, even here in second-floor-pancake-earthquake-zone-SoCal, are fairly large, multiple story deals. My building is not. It is one floor and has two entrances: one for my office and another on the south side of the building and a second entrance on the north side of the building.

The two offices on the south side of the building are busy student service centered ones. The north side of the building holds a number of community service offices.

I should also note that the building my office is in belongs to a college of which we are not a part. (My University, like many, is divided into sub-colleges, each with its own Dean, buildings, and money). I get reminded that the space is someone else's with some frequency when we have money conflicts. I control the money for a joint program administered by that college and my own. It's a good deal for me, actually. I'd rather have money than space. Anyway...

The north side of the building underwent a face-lift this summer. It looks really nice--new carpet, new paint, new furniture.

Standard pattern for south-siders is to park in the parking lot on the north side of the building, enter through the north entrance, and come through the rear entrance to our office. It's what I did. It's what everyone did.

Ok, so Other College and I are having one of our regular "let's all get along" meetings and they invite the guy who's in charge of the money and the space to come to the meeting. In a very roundabout way, he asks if we can stop using the north entrance. It's a reasonable request actually. They do counseling in that half of the building. They do work with children and adults with disabilities. They don't need 25 or 30 people walking through the lobby like it's a thoroughfare.

So, I get back from the meeting and write a very carefully worded request to my staff.

Keep in mind please that I am asking them to walk MAYBE 100 feet farther than they have been.

You'd have thought I asked them to run the L.A. Marathon. Or slog through a jungle on their knees. The hostility with which the request was greeted was palpable.

I made the request last Wednesday, when Office Manager was off. Monday when she came in after the holiday, the drama re-emerged. I'm talking coup d'etat level drama. Because they have to walk around a very small building.

I've been contemplating buying them all Table-Mate IIs so they can just live in the office. Or maybe Hover-Rounds?

Change can be hard. I admit as much. When minor change brings such consternation, imagine how they'll feel when we have to move our offices across campus. Actually don't imagine it, the horror is too much for the faint of heart.

Maybe Segways?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

On following my emotions into a car dealership

Honey says I lead with my emotions and she's probably right. We were cataloging my car decisions yesterday for reasons that will become obvious. I asked her if she would do what I was thinking about doing.

"We have to back up. I never would have done what you did three years ago."

So, let's back up shall we? Some years ago I bought I car that I really liked. It was a Volkswagen Passat. Honey and I name our cars. The Passat's name was Otto. Some years after I bought Otto, my mother, who was living rather miserably in Chicago at the time, offered to sell me her Audi A6 for whatever I could get for the Passat. Sounded good to me. The Audi was a year older but had fewer miles on it. Because it was my mother's car, it had many of bells and whistles. It was also a lemon. My dad even admitted that to me after the fact. However much you love them, my advice to you is to not buy a car from your relatives. That Audi cost me thousands of dollars in the year I owned it in repair bills. Plus, with both the Audi and VW, there was the whole, "ju must use ze hi test gas because zese are Deutsch ottos" thing. Anyway...I was sick of how much the Audi was costing me and during the heady days of 0% financing (that would be 2003, for those of you who lost track), I acted emotionally and bought a Saturn Vue. It was bright blue and Honey and I called it Butchy. Ironically, you understand.

Butchy never suited me. It had REALLY uncomfortable seats and an uber plasticy interior. It was comfortable enough for four people (I guess--I never rode in the back seat). I kept doing things to it to make myself like it better. Roof rails, aftermarket stereo, rubber floor mats. The blue was a bad choice, too. I thought I would think it was fun. After a while, though, I would walk out to get in it and think to myself, "you're a grown woman getting into a bright blue car." This is not to slam anyone else's car color choice, by the way. The car and I didn't get along. I think I probably would have liked the color had the rest of the car been satisfying.

Anyway, emotions have led me hither and yon to car desires since. I lusted after the Nissan Murano for a while and then soured on the egg car thing. I then decided that the Audi A3 was just the thing for me until I read reviews of its "narrow cockpit." Since I am less than narrow, that seemed like a bad fit.

And, then...

And, then...

Well, Toyota came out with the new FJ cruiser. Oh, it was just the thing. Not too big, not too small. Cute AND tough all at the same time. I have the "big car" for Honey and I. I read reviews. I watched MotorWeek on PBS hoping to see the review of it. I checked ebay to see what the slightly used ones were going for. I downloaded a plugin so I could build my own. Once I built my virtual one, I spun it around and around.

Honey and I talked about it some. I was at one of those moments. I still owed money on the Vue, but because it was three years old and didn't have much mileage on it, it had value. I could drive it for two more years. Or...

I tried to resist wanting to go to a Toyota dealer. I didn't ask for a free quote on the internet. I was going to be good. Then, Honey and I were meeting some friends yesterday at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Never heard of it? Weird place. Totally worth a visit if you're ever in L.A.

Anyway...there's a Toyota dealer near the MJT that I knew had been a good dealer once upon a time. I asked Honey if we could stop by after the museum.

Here's what I thought would happen: they would have a couple of FJs. They would be blue, yellow, or black 4x4s. They would have a sticker price I could not afford. I would drive one. I would like it. I would go home and obsess about it and maybe, in a moment of weakness, ask for some free price quotes on the one I had virtually built from edmunds.

The one I built virtually? Oh, it was a silver 4x2 with alloy wheels and the basic upgrade package. And floor mats. I wanted floor mats.

We walk onto the lot and are greeted. Nicely. There's an FJ sitting up front. It's silver. It's a 4x2. Features? Why, yes, yes indeed. The basic upgrade package, alloy wheels and---you're never going to guess--floor mats.

We test drive it. Honey says, "this is everything you wanted to Vue to be and it isn't."

Oh, I know, there are a million reasons to NOT buy the car. It's an SUV. It doesn't improve gas mileage over the Vue. Shouldn't I get a hybrid? There's nothing wrong with the Vue other than my emergent searing hatred of it. And then...

Then, we get into negotiations. Honey has wandered away and is sitting in the waiting room for the service department watching (despite her total lack of interest) the USC/Notre Dame football game. The entire sales staff seems to be actively rooting for USC. Honey and I went to UCLA. Honey doesn't like football anyway. It's a thing.

They show up with their first offer. It's not even close to what I imagined. Not even. I'll spare you the back and forth. I had to go get Honey and she was amazing. She yelled and stood up and I yelled and demanded the keys to the Vue back. Then they switched guys. It was a good move, because guy number 1 was the king of fuzzy math. Finally, they got to showing us the actual price of the car with the actual "value" of the trade in. After the Saturn experience, where the get out the blue book and figure out the value of the trade with you, this was very different. It was hostile and antagonistic.

Finally, we got to a price I could afford and there were no random charges. I wasn't giving them any money down, just the Vue. I still hemmed and fretted.

They're just things, cars. Big, expensive things.

It's awfully pretty, my new FJ. The process was less than fun. But like all pain, the memory of it will fade and I will be left with a car I really like. Emotions win, after all. That happens when you follow them around.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wandering in the office wilderness

While my recent office troubles do not match my Honey's, I have nevertheless been in a state of flux in my day-to-day environs. Over the past two years, I have let everyone in the office order new office furniture. I demurred because until this summer, I was in my current position as an interim. I thought it would look untoward to order furniture until such time as I got the job forever and ever. And thus it came to pass that I did. One morning early this fall, I went up to the furniture store which must exist solely on the revenue it generates from my institution. They saw me coming.

I fretted, measured, and ordered. I chose modern looking furniture with "white aluminum legs" and speckled gray tops. No need to pretend something is wood. Speckled gray pretends to be nothing but what it is--speckled gray.

Twice a month the physical plant people will remove furniture for free. Office Manager was worried that there might be some overlap between the old furniture and the new. So, a month ago they took away my old desk and chair. I hated them both. Buh Bye.

Once they were gone, my office seemed empty. Ok, let's be honest, my office was empty.

I should note that one more "free take away" day happened between the take away and the arrival of the new furniture. I refrained from pointing this out to OM. I screamed it internally some and said it to other people, but didn't say anything to her. Instead I would occasionally say things like, "can you tell me the status on the furniture?" See how brave and restrained I am?

A month and no desk? Wherever did I go? Well, I have a small conference table in my office and I set my computer up in the corner. It seemed pitiful. It was pitiful. I climbed over boxes of desk stuff to get to the corner. My gynormous monitor is wider than the table on which it sat.

Monday, my new desk and chair finally arrived. I immediately set up my computer and unloaded every box. I am a happy office dweller.

Instead of drawers, I got rolling half file cabinets with padded tops. Occasional office seating for all!

Admittedly late afternoon is not a great time for taking pictures out bright windows.

My new bag looks good in context.

Herewith some details.

My picture of Red, my sweetgrass basket with sequoia cones, and my Sequoia National Park Nalgene bottle.

Biscuit has her picture on the desk, too.

My bendy squishy avocado guy, the gel-e star I ordered to promote my program, my teeny Zen Garden and the pot that used to hold my bamboo. Also, emollient. Gotta emmolliate.

The devil ducks really want to See Rock City but never have. The chiflera is dying, but I'm efforting keeping it alive.

Obviously, there's more in my office, but better to show too little than too much. I happy to be out of the corner and firmly ensconced in my new gray and white aluminum world.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mr. Bond and me

We did fun things in my family when I was a kid, I'm sure we did. My brother claims we didn't, but that's him and I'm me. I remember vacations and holidays and the occasional visit to Stone Mountain. We also went out to eat dinner a lot. The "family dinner" at the Chinese place was a big thing--it involved sweet and sour pork, of that I am sure. But when I reflect back on my childhood, I don't remember my family going to the movies as a group much when I was younger. By the time I was a teenager we did--my mother and I would go to the occasional movie together. My dad took me to see movies, too. He and I still really like to go see movies. On his visit here last January, we saw three in three days. I don't however, remember all four of us going to the movie very often until we were older. One exception to this (perhaps skewed) view of the past, was one Saturday afternoon in 1979. My dad suggested that we all go to see Moonraker. It was my first James Bond experience. He told us about James Bond, the Cold War, and what the movies were like on the way to the theater.

No one in their right mind would claim that Moonraker was anything but second-rate Bond. In fact, it may be the worst Bond movie ever. Hard to say. There are so many bad Bond movies. After the movie we went to have chili cheesburgers and Dad told us more about the books, the movies, and the legend. I loved it. The whole thing. Truth be told, I never stopped loving Bond. In part, I think, because that day my family seemed happy and content. It must have been James Bond's doing.

I've seen every Bond movie since except for Die Another Day. I liked Brosnan when I was a teenager and he was on Remington Steele, and have liked him in other things like The Thomas Crowne Affair, but that business of him straightening his bow tie while driving around in a tank in Tomorrow Never Dies was just stupid. Oh, I know, there so much stupid to Bond. Bad actors (Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby), sexism (pick the movie), cheesy effects (ditto), bad pop themes (Duran Duran), etc. Still, that afternoon in 1979 made a place for Bond in my heart that I have never let go. He's there, despite so much. I don't like martinis. I've never been able to bring myself to play Baccarat in Las Vegas. He's so male. So many problems. One happy Saturday afternoon in a family with very few happy Saturday afternoons was all it took...

Oh, sure Connery was good, in his very Connery way, of course. On Her Majesty's Secret Service had Diana Rigg (love her). There were little pieces to hold on to. One Saturday.

A few years ago, I came back to Bond by reading a few of the books. They're not the greatest novels and spy stories are not my preferred genre, but I started at the beginning with Ian Fleming's first Bond book, Casino Royale, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I've read a couple since, but that one was the best of the handful I've read.

Honey was actually interested in seeing Casino Royale since she had heard good things about it. So today she and I headed out to see it. I'm no critic and there are many folks who have said lots of smarter things about Bond than me, but let me just say that I was glad to reacquaint myself with 007. The movie was everything I wanted it to be. Honey and I have had lots of nice Sunday afternoons, but it was nice to remember that Saturday 27 years ago while watching a good movie. Daniel Craig reminds me a lot of the Bond that Fleming wrote about in the book. And, take this for what it is, both Honey and I noted that he is a VERY sexy man. The movie is human, well written, and complicated. The action sequences are good, the lead woman is a real character, and there's no overt sexism. I think it's the best Bond movie ever.

Not that anyone in Hollywood cares what I think, and I guess "Bond 22" is already underway, but I think they should just remake the actual Fleming books again. And this time do it in order. Live and Let Die (way down there in the bad pantheon of Bond films) was the second book. Craig as Bond in the Caribbean and in a post-Katrina New Orleans? Sounds perfect to me.

We're not having chili cheeseburgers tonight, which is just as well. I don't need a movie or a meal to remind me that my life now is much closer to the ideal than my life was then. Still, I was glad to meet Mr. Bond again. He looks better than he used to and I'm still grateful to him for a happy day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

SportsCenter Blues

So, Honey is sleeping in a chair. And she keeps saying that I don’t want her to come back to the bed because I like watching SportsCenter on ESPN to fall asleep to. I told her yesterday that I would give up SportsCenter forever if she would come back. I wrote a song about it. It sounds ok in my head, but I’m sure the meter on it is just shit. Still, it has all the classic elements: abandonment, sports, and dogs. Oh and hope. It also has hope. ☺

SportsCenter Blues

My sweet baby loves me truly,
But she’s been sleepin’ in the chair
Mmm Hmmm
Her back ain’t so good no more, nooo
And the bed hurts her sumpin fierce

So late at night I lie there
All alone and sad
Watching on the tee vee
About the sports of ball

Base and foot are best
Though girls’ hoops is
Ok too

Spare me the hockey
And those stupid cars
Going round and round and round

Who do I have for solace?
Well my good old Biscuit dog
She’s all black and spaniel soft
But it ain’t like my sweet girl

Now those Relax the Back
Folks seemed nice
Til they took my girl away
Now all I got is SportsCenter
And things just ain’t the same.

Someday she’ll come back to me
That sweet girl of mine
And then I’ll give up teevee
And lie in her arms
Dreaming of sports no more.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006


On this very day some years ago, something happened for which I am deeply grateful.

My Honey was born.

At least we think she was. A few years ago, she tried to file her taxes online and the IRS rejected the filing. When she called to find out why, they told her that her birthday was November 13th, not November 15th. Being the investigative type, she called her mother. "Did you check you birth certificate?" When Honey pushed the issue, her mother said she was "pretty sure" that she had, in fact, been born on the 15th.

Ever since we've celebrated Honey's "social security birthday" and her "real birthday." Today is the latter.

I wasn't even in the world when this great day happened. But when good days happen, they happen. And this particular November 15th (maybe the 13th) was a good day, indeed.

So, Happy birthday, sweet Honey of mine. Thanks for being born.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sense memory

When I was in my early twenties, I lived in the D.C. suburbs of Maryland. I had just graduated from college and had a job working at my University's library. One night, about a month into working the job, I began to feel very sick. I hurt like I had never hurt before. The pain started and then got worse and worse.

I drove myself home and to the hospital (stopping off for a change of clothes just in case--my momma always said to change your underwear before going to the hospital). Fourteen hours later, I no longer had an appendix. I'll spare you the details of my grabbing the nurse and demanding more demerol.

The one thing that really bothered me after the surgery was that I kept smelling this smell I had never smelled before. While convalescing some days after the surgery, I happened to touch the stapled wound. A few minutes later, I had my hand near my nose. Lo and behold, I smelled the smell. I decided that I was smelling the inside of me.

I didn't mind the way it smelled, actually. But it did smell foreign. And (believe me if you want) it gradually went away as the surgery incision healed. This was in the days before laproscopic surgery, so the incision was several inches long. I have not had surgery since and I have not smelled that smell.

For the past few months, however, things have smelled different to me. Not all the time. But some of the time. I can't put my finger (or my olfactory senses on, if you'd like me to be precise) on it. I can say that I think my nose is either picking up something different or has had a sea change in the way it smells. Sometimes it smells a little like garlic, sometimes it just smells funny.

At first my (considerable) paranoia made me ask Honey to smell me over and over to make sure I wasn't the one who smelled funny. She said it wasn't me.

I don't know if my sense of smell will return to normal. I miss trusting it.

Smell, "they" say, is the strongest memory trigger of the senses. I believe that to be true. Smelling a certain kind of sewage makes me think of Rome, which, in turn, makes me happy. I think if I ever smelled the "inside of me" smell again, I would remember what it was like to be young and scared and excited. Appendectomy as adventure, I guess.

This past weekend, I was on the east coast (more on that later). The leaves had changed and when it rained Sunday, I went out on the famous bloggers' back porch and smelled the fresh morning. It smelled right and lovely and not like the inside of anything.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Loser (on being one, sort of)

I played soccer throughout my childhood. My first team, the Ladybugs, became the Eagles when we got a little older. I also played on my High School team (the Lady Bulldogs). I was part of a group of people who lobbied the high school for girls soccer and then felt obliged to play after the lobbying effort.

My career on the pitch was less than illustrious. Being the awkward big kid meant playing left fullback and doing it badly. The Ladybugs weren't winners. Neither were the Eagles. The Lady Bulldogs were also less than spectacular. And my efforts didn't contribute much. The worst part of the Bulldog experience was that the Geometry teacher we had recruited to coach knew less about soccer than I did and didn't like me much. The result? I practiced a lot and didn't play much. Geometry coach toyed with not giving me a letter. She didn't follow through. So, somewhere I have three big fuzzy D's. I played soccer in the age before there were trophies. So, my childhood sports acknowledgement is restricted to those D's.

In college, I was too into being in college to do much sporting. I did play on a co-ed intramural soccer team and we won the championship. Again, no thanks to me, but I did play most of the games. I had a friend who had been on the University's soccer team. They had played (and lost) for the National Championship. He was INTENSELY jealous of my intramural championship shirt. So, I gave it to him. There went my one real "trophy."

I played tennis some with my roommate in college. She wouldn't keep score.

In my adult life, I haven't done much in the way of competition of a sports kind. Graduate school was competitive. I was recently talking to treecup about how much we had to compete with one another over the scant resources while we were working on our PhDs. I remember being very angry that I was ranked third for a dissertation fellowship behind a woman who has since gone on to become one of the real bright lights in my field. I should have been third. It didn't seem right at the time. Now it seems just. She teaches at a prestigious institution and has a book forthcoming from a major press. I administrate at a regional institution and just had an article published in an online journal. In academic score-keeping, she's "winning." But I'm not keep score. I like my job and my little article.

This week, weese and I both won for the first time in the blogger fantasy football league. I even moved out of last place.

Honey and I have not yet begun the process of picking out the trophy for the blogger league. Halfway through the football season, it is safe to say that it will not be at our home.

It's too early to say how election day is going.

In 2000, Honey and I lived in an apartment above some horrible Republican bitches. That may be repetitive. Anyway, we went to bed thinking Gore had won and woke up to their screaming in joy. Laying aside the fact that Gore did actually win, it was a bleak moment.

Speaker Pelosi would be a bright one. It's nice when your team wins, even if you don't get a trophy.

1986 Senate.

1995 Braves.

2002 Angels.

2006 Dems (?).

Meantime, my three fuzzy D's and my one fantasy football win attest to the fact that I am not a total loser. If only I had something to put on my mantle. Never mind, since I never outgrew the big or the awkward, I'd probably just break it.

Go team!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday randomness

According to my goofy gynecologist, I have "uncontested estrogen." That is not something you want apparently. That stuff needs competition or you're in trouble. I don't know who to send in to contest it. Any ideas?

The surly guy at my local bike shop is really nice under the surly. Bike fix in five minutes! A good local bike shop is good.

Some hangnails are harder to "fix" than others.

Our office first aid kit has teeny weeny and massively large bandages. Why?

I broke my watch band. The repair was handled terrifically. If you're looking for a sporty watch from a cool L.A. company, check out Reactor. They're chunky watches. But I like me a chunky watch.

Oh and this business of teens and twenty-something not wanting to wear watches because cell phones tell time is a cultural shift I don't like. Watches say a lot about a person.

I was at a meeting this week, in fact, and noticed that a guy had a woman's Timex on his right wrist. It gave me an alternate contemplation source than the meeting. I made up several stories, most of them sweet, about why he had on a woman's watch.

I remembered, too, my boss from my first full-time job, wore a very similar Timex. She died a couple of years ago (at a young age) of breast cancer. I miss her. And I like that his watch reminded me of her.

There is, seemingly, a worldwide shortage of Kashi GoLean Crunch. Honey and I are in mourning. Honey may begin to panic.

I'm sorry Tower Records is going out of business. But...the markdowns need to happen more quickly.

It reminds me a little of when the local woman's bookstore went out of business in L.A. I went to get some books and commented on how sorry I was it was happening. The woman behind the counter looked at me over her glasses, "you don't have to take the discount, you know." I did, though. I'm sorry it closed, but a bargain is a bargain.

Lost is going away after Wednesday. I heart me some Lost.

The show has been made all the better this season by Elizabeth Mitchell. I really heart me some Elizabeth Mitchell.

Getting apples from an orchard makes for an exponentially better apple experience than anything else.

Don't believe all of what you hear (like, "there are no apples this year."). That may mean there are five kinds to choose from instead of 12. Drive on up to the orchard to see.

It's nice to have a copy-editor Honey to whom you can ask questions like, "can you tell me the rule for spelling out numbers?"

Her answer:

"It's more a style thing, mostly in journalism, so it isn't ever incorrect to spell out numbers or make them cardinal. But yes, we spell out one through nine and style 10 and up as cardinals, but there are exceptions. Like, when we're stating ages of people and dates and the like, numbers are always cardinal, though when we're stating ages of things, the primary rule applies. Fiction follows different rules. There, numbers are almost always spelled out unless they refer to dates, monetary amounts, etc. Is that a suitably convoluted answer to what should have been a simple question?"

I do so love that woman. Isn't that fantastic?

Happy weekend. Go ride your bike! Here's mine again. So purty.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

On shoes and morality

Recently, Honey found a pair of shoes after which she lusted. I, too, found them appealing. In anticipation of our upcoming trip to cold climates, I ordered them for her birthday (for her) and just because (for me). We got them. We tried them on. We loved them. In fact, my Croc wearing has significantly decreased since they arrived. They are magnificent.

I got an e-mail from the retailer thanking me for my return of the shoes. The shoes I am wearing right now. Odd, I thought. I figured there was a mix-up. Then I got a credit for the shoes to my card. Both pair.

Thusly...a moral dilemma. Should I:

1) Tell the retailer?

2) Not tell the retailer?

Honey and I discussed. I should say that the retailer is large and charges what honey would call "full-pop retail" for the shoes. In fact, they charge $10 more than the website of the company that made the shoes. I use the retailer occasionally because they have a huge selection and don't charge for shipping.

Meantime, I grew more fond of the shoes. So did Honey.

In finally decided I could live with the following scenario...

Don't tell them, but order another two pair of shoes from them. Then, it's like Honey and I got our very own two-for-one sale. Honey even picked out MORE expensive shoes for the second go-around.

If you feel moved to comment, tell me what you would have done.

Oh, and here are the shoes in question:

We got no trick-or-treaters last night. Honey thinks it's because our neighbors think we're witches. Or lesbians. Whatever.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Academic treats and tricks

I always jokingly complain that Halloween is the worst time of the year for folklorists because we (especially if we're listed in a university's expert directory as I am) get called to explain the holiday. Last year I got three calls. I did my little rap about the origins of the holiday and its changing nature over time. I've got it down. It sounds good. I'll tell you how to spell and say Celtic words like Samhain. I can be all authoritative. I get quoted. Usually it's for teeny tiny give-away papers. Still. Me, an expert. Imagine.

This year? No calls. Not one.

It is way worse than no kids coming by the house for candy. Honey and I have Gummi-Savers--a fat free food--to give away. Maybe I'll tell the kids about Samhain.

Or not.

Friday, October 27, 2006


I'm a bit of a bag collector. No, let me confess. For all my love of shoes (Crocs!), blingy bikes and bike parts, my desire for a LCD big screen teevee, etc., there is nothing that makes me feel quite so zingy as my bag(s).

I have just exited (I think it is safe to say) an semi-obsessive Timbuk2 phase. I still have a mini-metro and laptop bag that I will use, as well as a pleasing "design-your-own" classic messenger in red, ivory, and steel. My Timbuk2 phase is over, though, in part to a bag they only made for a minute, a vertical European design thing. I really liked. It was my default bag. But, mine has worn out and looks frayed and there's not a replacement to be found in all the land.

The Timbuk2 experience is nice. The bags are well made and have a funky color palette that appeals.

I also have a "nice" bag that is a distressed dark leather. I like it, but it's a little big and has no top handle. I use it when I want to take myself seriously, which isn't very often.

My custom Timbuk2 is great, save one key issue. I don't wear much red and it clashes. It's hardly it's fault, but it's still true.

Recently, I had been coveting a Chrome bag. Tough, roomy, bike messengery, great logo. What more could you ask?

Yesterday Honey and I had plans to meet folks for dinner in West L.A. I knew said bags were sold at a bike store over there. Honey was kind enough to both accompany me and tell me that the bag (which features a seatbelt buckle to open and close it) didn't make me look dorky. She may have been lying, but I chose to believe her.

It's deeply unpursy. I keep staring at it. I heart it. Be jealous if you must, but here it is:

Mine's grey. Contented sigh.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Because it's my favorite format...

Wisconsin by the numbers:

Number of sausages consumed: 4

Number of beers consumed: 5

Number of beers consumed in the previous six months: 0

Number of the Wisconsin beers consumed on the same night: all

Number of ratio of sausages on the night in question to beers: 2/5

Amount of sauerkraut consumed: minimal

Number of artisan diet root beers consumed: 1

Number of times artisan diet root beer was sought after that: several

Success at finding artisan diet root beer again: nil

Perceived rarity of artisan diet root beer: high

Time of conference presentation: 8:30

Number of attendees at session: 10

Number of friends who later apologized for not coming: 4

Number who cited early time as reason for absence: 4

Pounds of cheese purchased: 4+

Amount of it shaped like Wisconsin: 0

Number of times downtown Milwaukee was circumnavigated: 5

Number of times in Crocs in the rain: 3

Feeling of Croc worthiness for anything after the fact: high

Number of things I wish I had seen in Wisconsin that I didn't: 2

What were they? Trek factory tour, Waterloo
Oldest bowling alley

Number of non-German food meals that were surprisingly good: 2

Food genres that surprised? Italian and Moroccan/Spanish

Times I checked e-mail while gone: 3

Times I checked on my blogleague fantasy football team: 5

Level of panic at Mike Vick's pseudo-injury: hysterical

How did Vick do? 4 touchdowns, 26 fantasy points

You didn't play him did you? Nope

So, how did Delhomme do? 14 fantasy points

Could you still win? Maybe

Would you have won with Vick: much more likely

You haven't won yet have you? Why, no, no I haven't

Will you? Maybe not

Anyway, back to Wisconsin...

Other purchases (besides cheese)? Spices, book, cheese stress squeezy

Number of visits to Milwaukee in sporkslifetime: 2

Number for the same conference: 2

Chances that sporks will go back if the conference schedules itself there again: low

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cheese states

I'm making my way to Milwaukee. I'm flying on what I have been referring to as "cookie airline." It's really Midwest Air. They serve fresh baked cookies. Mmm.

It will be my second trip to Milwaukee. Same conference. Different year. I am sure I will revisit some highlights. My favorite thing last time will be sought out again. What is it?

Why, it's cheese shaped like Wisconsin.

I regret that the Brewers will not be playing. I have always wanted to see the sausage guys.

It would also allow me to tick off a ballpark. I would like to see a game at each MLB park someday. My current list is mighty small:

1. Atlanta (2 stadiums)
2. Los Angeles
3. Anaheim
4. Queens
5. Baltimore (2 stadiums)
6. North side Chicago
7ish. (I may have gone to Cincinnati as a child. I can't remember. Don't think it counts)
8lessthanish. (Can I count RFK if I saw a pre-season game there before the Nats existed? I kinda think not.)

Anyway, have a good week. I'll eat some schnitzel for you. Anyone wanting a Wisconsin-shaped cheese should speak soon. I can only carry back so many states, those suckers are heavy...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thorn karma

Post before last I mentioned, in a really off-hand way, a stretch of mountain bike path Honey calls, "thorn row."

I haven't been riding my mountain bike much lately. That's because my road bike has a siren call.

I rode Tuesday (after posting). Wednesday morning I had a flat. From a thorn. From the paved bike path.

I changed my tube.

Today I went for a ride. I was 2/10 of a mile in. Front tire? Flat. Why? Thorn. Paved bike path.

I am sorry thorn row. I did not mean to mock you. I have sacrificed two tubes. I will never call your name again. I fear you and that is as it should be. Accept my penance for you are mighty and I am weak.

Wherein insult meets injury and they jump on blunted spork tines

This year, for the first time in my adult life, I paid money to play fantasy baseball. I was invited to join a league by my brother. I studied. I took notes. I had a list. I got up at 7am on "spring forward" Sunday and drafted my team.

Today, I received the wrap-up e-mail for the league. I was nominated for several "worsts" by the league. Worst trade (Cole Hamels for Brady Clark) and Worst draft choice (Pedro Martinez for $38).

I finished in last place. By a lot. Part of that was that I traded away my high priced players for keepers. But I'm not even sure I did that well.

My "best" move wasn't nominated for anything: Bronson Arroyo and all his white boy cornrows (plus 14 wins and a sub 4 ERA) for $1.

And then...

I got to the bottom of the e-mail. And I owe the most for transactions. Why? Because all my lame-ass stupido players got hurt and hurt again which meant I had to sign worse than lame-o stupido players.

Did I mention that I'm, also losing (again badly) in the blogger fantasy football league? I am.

Bottom line it for you? Ok...

It cost me $121 to lose.

And the only thing I know for sure: Arroyo and his cornrows will be giving me fits next year again. For $3 instead of $1.

Happy postseason baseball.

Rest in peace, Cory Lidle.

Monday, October 09, 2006

songs and invitations

Sometime ago I was a student in a summer program at a prestigious university in the South. It was before I graduated from high school and I went to take some college courses the summer before my senior year.

I loved it and decided that I had to go to that college. When I think about it in hindsight, I realize that I liked it because it was college and because I had a major league crush on my roommate.

One afternoon, it started to rain and a huge mud puddle formed in the courtyard of our dorm. People began to run into the building and grab one another and throw folks in the mud. Everyone seemed to be getting thrown in. I waited and waited and no one came to get me to throw me in. The level of popularity of those being thrown in had dipped below my perception of my own. And yet there I was, dry. I watched for a long time and then went out for a walk in the rain.

That story sounds is a more somber introduction than the following entry warrants. I don't usually get invited to do memes and didn't get invited to do this one. But I'm doing it anyway. I'm not waiting around to get thrown in the mud any longer. So... the meme is seven songs that you're into right now and why.

1. "They Call the Wind Maria" sung by Ed Ames (originally from the Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon, Lerner and Lowe, 1951). This one is weird, I admit. We were watching e.r. the other day and John Mahoney sang a song and it reminded me of when John Cullum sang this song on an episode back in 2000 or so. Off to itunes I went. I settled on Ames' version because it was the closest to how I remembered Cullum's. Convoluted path, but still a great song. Ames is a pop singer of a certain type from the 60s and has done some acting as well. I LOVE the cover of his "best of" album. He's wearing a fisherman's sweater.

2. "Come What May" sung by Ewan MacGregor and Nicole Kidman from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. This movie, which is as close to a carnivalesque experience as I have ever had in the theater, has a terrific soundtrack. This was the original they put on it to try to get the Oscar for Best Original Song. Unfortunately, it was disqualified for consideration because it was written for (but unused in) director/writer Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet. A beautiful love song. I'm still impressed with MacGregor's voice and he and Kidman harmonize really nicely on this song.

3. "Three County Highway," "Fly Away," and "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate" sung by the Indigo Girls from their album Despite Our Differences. Ok, this is cheating. These are my three favorite songs from the new album. I can't decide which I like best. It's a terrific album and the live EP that comes with the dulux edition is worth the extra dough. Pink's harmony on "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate" adds a really nice complexity.

4. From the new to the old... the other album in HEAVY rotation in my car (aka the little blue truck) is Emmylou Harris' Red Dirt Girl from 2000. "My Baby Needs a Shepherd" is my song obsession du jour from that album. Sad and beautiful.
"My baby needs a pilot
She has no magic wand
To help her part the troubled waters
Of the Rubicon
But in my soul I know she'll
Have to go this one alone
After all that is only way she's ever known."

5. Always in my mind a bit is Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee." I blogged about it a while ago.

6. Evanescence "Fallen" Because I hide my head in the sand, I didn't know about this song until this summer and Rock Star . A couple of people sang it and then Storm Large sang it. That got me to download it. By the way, Storm sang the National Anthem for the finale of The Contender. She can sing ANYthing.

7. "Winter" by Joshua Radin. Honey thinks he's soporific. Whatever.

8. One more because if you don't get invited, you can make up your own rules...
"Trouble" by Bonnie McKee. The only song I've gotten as a free "discovery download" on itunes that I really like. She kicks ass on this song. Great on the ipod while cycling the dirt path Honey calls, "thorn row" because it creates so many flats.

My roommate? She and I talked through college but I lost track of her. Just as well, I guess. She probably wouldn't have liked any of these songs.

As for me, I didn't get thrown into the mud. I also didn't get into that college.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My county appreciates me

Los Angeles County is grateful for my jury service. How do I know? They said so on the check they just sent me for mileage.

Jury duty by the numbers:

Number of days I served: 2

Amount I was paid by the County: $0

Why? State employees don't get paid for jury service

Total mileage reimbursement: .68

Cost to mail me the 68 cent check: .39

Number of jurors questions for the 12 juror, 2 alternate panel: 80

Number of jurors in the panel not questioned: 8

Number of sporky bloggers in the latter group: 1

Previous juries by sporky blogger: 1

Number of decisions reached in that case: 1

Sporky jury found in favor of? The people

Previous jury alternate experiences by sporky blogger: 1

Sporky juror was alternate #? 2

Other bloggers who have served as alternate #2: scout, weese

Number of decisions reached in the sporky blogger alt. #2 case: 0

Level of conviction by sporky blogger that she would have helped grease the cogs of justice: high

Number of times sporky blogger has been called and not served on a jury in any capacity: 2

Number of times she was both grateful and a little disappointed: 2

Suggestions now being taken for what to do with the 68 cents. The thanks of a grateful county were all I really needed.

Oh, and one non-jury number...

Number of wins through week 4 by sporky blogger in the blogleague (where she serves with great distinction as the commissioner (or not)): 0

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Aesthetics of office decorations (holiday edition)

I arrived from my two days of jury duty fun (I was never called into the box), to discover that Halloween had come to my office environs. October had arrived. Still. If this is what had found, I would have been happy.

It was not what I found.

I don't like the aesthetics of my office as a whole. But, like a "make your own decisions" kind of boss, I let the mahogany and black happen. I have carpet. No one else does. I just ordered non-faux wood (it's just faux) for an office make-over. But furniture is not the subject here. It's shiny skeletons. Shiny pumpkins. Shiny witches.

Kind of like this (only bigger and more shiny):

It's horrifying. Not boo scary. Scary bad. Scary shiny. But, what can I say? I make noise about secular winter decorations and that results in a lot of snowmen (some shiny) in December. We are a state institution after all. But in October? Nothing I can say. Other than, "you decorated." Think flat tone there.

I shudder internally every time I walk out of my office. I don't mind the inflatable spider and would be fine with some leaves an a gourd or two.

So, here are the questions, blogfriends:

Do you decorate your office/office spaces?

For which holidays?

What's your aesthetic for that decoration?

Anyone want to trade some gourds for a shiny skeleton?

Oh, and if you like shiny jointed skeletons, speak up and tell me why!

By the way, I was looking for an image and discovered that "" is available. Now's your chance!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Not about jury duty

I'm currently on a jury duty assignment. And mindful of the judge's admonition that I not discuss the case (I'm not yet even on the jury) with anyone, lest there be an unauthorized "thirteenth juror," I am not going to write about jury duty. And given my VAST readership, we may be talking 14th or 15th.

Honey has written a book of the Bible at the suggestion of a certain blogger.

I am not up to writing a book of the Bible at this time.

I would like to suggest another commandment, however. It will be TOTALLY appropriate for displaying at an Alabama Supreme Court location nearby.

See, I heard a story today about how some churches are providing ATMs for their parishioners to donate to the church. They're called "giving kiosks." Really. Not to get money out and then give it. Just stick your ATM card in and the church gets whatever you say. Of course, the church pays a fee to the developer of the idea. Who is a pastor. But he'll give 10% of the profit back. Tithing you know.

Anyway... herewith the commandment, oh potential 14th and 15th juror:

Thou shalt not put ATMs in houses of worship.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just because

She's the cutest dog I've ever known.

Biscuit D. Dog

Tuesday night on the ottoman.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Just so you know (women only)

So, um, really, this, um, is only for women. It will not apply to men. Ready?


If your gynecologist...
(you sure you're ready?)
...wants to scrape your uterine wall...
and you consent (because, well, she's the expert and said you needed it)...
(even if she shows you the tissue because it is sort of cool...)
you will feel REALLY crampy all afternoon.

Friday, September 22, 2006

An ill wind

It's cool today in the valley. And it smells fresh. There's no smog layer and a wind is blowing through the well-maintained palms out my window. Palms must be maintained.

As lovely as it all is, the palms dance on a wind of dark tidings. Earlier today I rode my bike down to the other end of campus and got bike grease on my green pants.

It seemed a bad sign. I got it off with dish soap. That's my weese-esque grease is no match for Dawn. Still.

When I smell the wind or see glimpses of what it means, certain characters appear in my mind's eye. They aren't letters. They aren't most punctuation marks. They drift in and out of my sight.

Wouldn't it be better, I think, if it were a dark and stormy night.

Best to ride away. Far away.

I'm thinking of a new career writing melodrama.
Or not. :)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sea change

Some months ago, my Honey posted that she and I were different. You should go read the post. I'll wait.

Ok, thanks for clicking back.

The deodorant in question, in case you would like to avoid it, was Secret Ocean Breeze Platinum Invisible Solid. The purchase was my fault. I have this theory that I like the way things that are colored blue smell. It often works. The Body Shoppe's Oceanus body wash smells like my whole life should. Actually, I take that back, Honey just after washing with it smells like that.

Anyway...I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago. While packing to go to it, I discovered that we did not have an extra toothpaste. So, when I arrived at my destination, I went to the local grocery store to procure it. Since we were low at home, I thought I'd just get one we'd both like and we could simply transition to it once we were done with the bottle I had not taken from Honey to travel.

Honey and I, while often disparate in tastes in many areas, share a toothpaste preference. We like cinnamon flavor and tend to prefer Crest to the other brands. Therefore I was pleased to discover a new Crest product on sale.

It's called Crest Pro Health. I brushed like a good girl during my trip. The whole time I was deeply disturbed by the flavor of the toothpaste. Deeply disturbed. I read the packaging, and Crest is very proud of this new product. Here's what they say on their web site:

"Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste is the first toothpaste recognized by the American Dental Association to protect against all these areas: Cavities, Gingivitis, Plaque, Tooth Sensitivity, Tartar Buildup and Stains, and it Freshens Breath!"


The trip in question was just an overnight, so I had two brush opportunities. When I arrived home, I blissfully moved back to our regular toothpaste. Well, regular toothpaste ran out day before last. And we switched. And I remembered how bad things had been. Honey hated the new toothpaste, too.

Scout: Where's the new toothpaste?

Sporks: It's in the travel bag.

Scout: Wow, the packaging is different!

Sporks: It's a new product! Promotes all-around dental health.

Scout: Ok, I'll give it a try. We sound like a commercial. (brushing) Hmm, It doesn't taste good. It finished ok, though.

(Next morning)

Scout: I really hate it.

Sporks: So do I.

Scout: We don't sound like a commercial any more.

Sporks: No indeed.

This morning, when I went into the bathroom to brush, an old, mostly-empty, semi-crusty tube of Aqua-Fresh had been found. I expressed my gratitude. Honey assented and then cheered as I threw the nearly full tube of Pro Health away.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I was in line today for lunch after my professional development workshop. The professional development workshop was actually pretty good. Though a colleague of mine, who is not fond of institutions, noted that the whole idea of professional development workshops was predicated on the notion that we all wanted to be professionally developed. I do, truth be told. I didn't learn how to administrate things or negotiate the vagaries of a large and complex bureaucracy while studying what I studied in grad school. Why anti-establishment colleague works for an establishment of this type is probably a subject for another time.

Back to the lunch line: the fare was the usual array of sandwiches and sides. They were arranged thusly: beef...vegetarian...sides...turkey...sides

The effect, while standing in line, was that for all appearances it looked like you had two choices, beef and veggie. The turkey was sort of a surprise at the end of the table.

The level of panic exhibited over the seeming lack of a poultry choice was palpable. There was tinge of hysteria as person after person, all with advanced degrees and lots of responsibility, asked in quavering voices, "is there turkey?" The level of panic was heightened by the general and pervasive panic about the number of Diet Cokes available. People eyed the drink table from their vantage points, and I could tell they were counting the number of Diet Cokes in their minds and comparing it to the number of people in line. A number of people gave up their places and got a Diet Coke with little triumphant smiles on their faces. Some then got in the back of the line, others sat down to have, I guess, Diet Coke for lunch.

I was at the table farthest from the line and observed all of this as I waited at the back of the long line. My closest line-mates were deep in a conversation about something that interested me so little that the turkey and Diet Coke panics were more engaging.

When I got to the head of the line, the catering people had realized the panic state. There was a man stationed behind the tables near the beef sandwiches who said over and over, "there's turkey at the end of the table. There's turkey at the end of the table." As I grabbed some tongs to get a roast beef sandwich, he spoke loudly and directly to me (though I had not been looking at him), "THERE'S TURKEY AT THE END OF THE TABLE." I smiled my acknowledgement and took a beef sandwich anyway. He went back to chanting his mantra, turkeyattheendofthetable turkeyattheendofthetable.

I got a Diet Coke and enjoyed my beef sandwich. The lemon bar panic was mild which is good. I'm not sure some people could have handled more.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


My uber-boss when I greeted him by his formal title and asked how he was, replied that he was scrumptious. I told him I was glad he had achieved scrumptiousness. If this all sounds like he and I both failed the same sexual harassment training my staff is in the process of learning techniques from, it wasn’t like that.

It got me thinking about how playing with language can take on certain tones, both intentional and unintentional.

Ann Richards, who died yesterday, was a master of tone. She, in my opinion at least, is the Texas Governor who should have been in the White House. The great thing about Richards was that she said what she thought and didn’t apologize for being an ambitious woman. She once said, “Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics.”

Probably her most famous quote was about George H. W. Bush, the current president’s father. “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Whatever fake sympathy I can work up for H.W. dissipates, of course, when I think about his son.

I got an e-mail from American Express just now that said, “WE'VE GOT TICKETS FOR A NEW DAY... FEATURING CELINE DION ON HOLD FOR YOU!” (caps in the original). That might seem like a promise to some, it seems like a threat to me.

And that’s just it, of course, it’s all about tone. Ann Richards was a master of tone and uber-boss and I hit the right tone today. Where tone often breaks down is in writing and on the internet. I’m all in favor of technology. And I love using the internet. But sometimes I wonder, when I stare at the little black pixels that make up words if we’re losing our ability to discern tone. I sold some shoes on ebay to a guy in France. He kept asking me about another item I had sold which he had not won. He then sought lots of reassurance that the shoes I had sold him were men’s shoes. It got irritating. Then after he paid, he said, “nice to meet yu!” And I realized that I was just probably over-reading. Like I could convey what I wanted to say about shoes to some guy in France in French.

Anyway, no profound end here. Just a wish for a scrumptious day. If you want my Celine Dion tickets, let me know. They’re ON HOLD!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

When footballs go

Last night, Biscuit had some sustained football time while Honey and I chatted online. Several times I took time out from the chat to squeak the football vigorously and throw it. Once I even used a small commemorative baseball bat from 1998 that I found while looking for something else last week to hit it for her.

This morning, the football had lost its squeak. She was delighted, as ever, to get it, but then I heard this anemic wheezing from it. She kept trying, kept getting the anemic wheezing, kept trying.

I went and got the back-up squeak toy, which is a green swirly ball thing.

When I handed it to her, she dropped the football like yesterday's news and began to squeak her NEW best friend. I picked up the football to return it to its high shelf and heard the squeak technology slopping around inside it. It may be that I broke it by hitting it with the bat.

If I were a superstitious person, I would think that because I have baseball tickets today on the first big day of the football season... Well, it would all not bode well for my fantasy football team, should I spin the thought out. Plus, I didn't even get Michael Vick, which was one of the league rules. My week 1 opponent did.

I'll get her a new football and maybe I'll get her the football colored one this time. The spiral ball will do for now.

Happy start of football season and baseball playoff hunt. May all your squeaks be sharp and not wheezy.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Rock on

Three snapshots of the week:

*Various folks in my office are once again teasing the only man who works with us full-time. Why are they doing this? Because some of them are taking the mandated state-supported sexual harassment training. They seem to have taken the opportunity to learn to harass. Not how to not harass.

*I’m standing in our main office for the college. I am once again struck by how many women there are in positions of power within the college.

*Honey and I are watching one of our reality shows. In this case Rock Star: Supernova. The two remaining women are the bottom two. The most middle-of-the-road guys (to quote Honey) are the top two.

It’s easy enough to be a left-coast progressive person and forget that I still live in a world informed by attitudes that are not in sync with my own. I’m not talking here about the idiocy of the current administration or scary fundamentalist religious people. Those are an admitted danger.

Storm Large

Isn’t that a great name? And she says it’s her actual given name. I don’t care if it is or not.

Storm Large

She’s the woman who got kicked off Rock Star. I’m fairly certain that she’s better off. However talented the individual musicians in Supernova are, the original songs they’ve debuted don’t do much for me. None of the guys in the band (Tommy Lee, Gilby Clarke, and Jason Newsted) were the primary songwriters for the bands they were in before (Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses, and Metallica). It could well be a successful band, but I don’t think it will transcend. And the truth is, that I’m not enough of a fan to want to listen to a rock band that tends to metal unless they transcend.

There’s a justice angle to the whole thing, though. When Storm performs terrifically well, week after week she shouldn’t get kicked off. The original songs that each of the top five performed ranged from the weak to the terrific. Storm’s was terrific. It was called Ladylike. Go watch it on Youtube. I’ll wait.

Welcome back.

Ok, so I hope you agree. She’s good. The song is smart. She’s an accomplished performer. Her voice is interesting and has a great tone.

So, what’s the problem? The problem, it seems to me, is that she’s a woman trying to win a competition that everyone (including the public and the members of the band) is/are expecting a man to win. Why? There are women singers, of course. And there are women rock stars. But there aren’t many of the latter. Name some. Go ahead.
Who did you come up with?

Janis Joplin?
Ann and Nancy Wilson?
Sheryl Crow?
Melissa Etheridge?
Joan Jett?
Pat Benatar?
The woman from Evanescence?

There are others to be sure, but there have been a number of years that the Grammies were unable to give the “Best Female Rock Vocal Performance” award because of a dearth of entries (1988, 1992, 1994, 2005, 2006 are the years it has not been given since 1980). Right. There weren’t enough women who sang rock to give the Grammy out. Doesn’t happen in Polka. That Jimmy Sturr dude has won 15, most recently this year for “Shake, Rattle, and Polka!”

Why don’t women succeed in rock, except in rare circumstances? Why were Storm and Dillana, clearly (to me at least) more talented than Lukas Rossi, who is a total poseur in my eyes, the bottom two?

There are certainly competitions that women can and do win. Reality teevee or no. Rock Star has become a phenomenon. It’s wildly popular and the publicity the Supernova is getting from the competition is phenomenal. And I know I could just shut up and watch.

But when I tell myself that it’s just teevee, that it doesn’t matter, that I get too wrapped up in analyzing my world, I think about how much of how we decide to view the world is a function of what we see on the media.

Does it matter when Tara gets shot on Buffy right after having lesbian sex? Yes. Why? Because the message (whether intentional or not) is that lesbian sex gets punished. Often by death.

Does it matter that Storm is really good and gets kicked off Rock Star? Yes. Why? Because the message (whether intentional or not) is that the best woman (maybe the second best, but I go back and forth) is worse than and less suited to fronting a rock band than the three men with whom she’s competing.

Storm, to her credit, was gracious. And Dave Navarro seemed genuinely upset. He offered to play guitar for her on her first song. Not a bad offer, really. Storm will be fine. And, so will I, of course.

But it all got me thinking. It may have simply been to long since I’ve taught a gender class. So I don’t have an outlet for these kinds of things. Or it could be that I watch too much teevee for my own good.

Either way, I don’t like it. It’s all well and good for me to be happy in an environment where women are in charge and aren’t all the same. If I peek around, though, I remember that we’ve not come near as far as we could or should.

Still, here’s a promise. I’ll buy Storm’s album. Can’t say the same thing about Supernova. Not that the middle-aged white over-educated lesbian demographic is what they’re going after. Still, I do have money. And I know how to use it. In America, that’s saying something.