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Friday, April 28, 2006

Stephanie Miller

I heart Stephanie Miller. Ok, I said it. I hope it doesn't make my honey jealous.

Before I started listening to Steph (or Mamma as she calls herself), my mornings were the typical overeducated underemployed routine of listening to Morning Edition on NPR. I was even in the (gasp) camp of folks who liked the switch from Bob Edwards (snore, wait was I listening to the radio or was I asleep? snore) to Renee Montaigne and Steve Inskeep. I especially liked finding out the Renee was a fan of Dan Neil, my favorite writer at the L.A. Times. And that he was a fan of hers. Read Neil's car reviews. Really. They won a Pulitzer. They deserved it. And it made the NY Times get its collective panty in a wad, which was a nice side benefit.

Anyway, I listened dutifully to NPR in the mornings. Even though it sometimes made me remember going to see Ira Glass talk about This American Life and how he said that sometimes he just wasn't a big enough person to learn more about the dire situation in Eastern Europe. You can listen to NPR and feel informed and feel searingly depressed. And that's just Eastern Europe. We're not talking about Iraq or Darfour or ...

But then I discovered that Air America had an affiliate in L.A. I listened some, but it got me worked up and I found myself railing against Harriet Miers. At dinner. In polite company.

Still, Air America got a preset from me and one day while feeling slammed by NPR, I switched over and there was Steph. Being funny. And progressive. And playing clips from Sunset Boulevard: "Don't speak, don't speak..." And from Katherine Harris saying in her scary-ass breathy way that she would spend "ten million dollars" on her senate campaign. And remember that according to Steph, George W. Bush is the "ding" worst "ding" president "ding" ever! See. NPR isn't going to say that.

I'm sure lots of people know about her already. Fine, whatever.

I heart her.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Traveling Through

Honey and I are just back from a visit to my parents, which we also turned into our second viewing of stages of the Tour de Georgia. I appreciate that California went with "of" instead of "de" for its bike race. Georgia, being Georgia, couldn't. I grew up near a street in Atlanta called Ponce de Leon which was pronounced "ponts dee lee on" by all who knew it. Or just "ponts." So Tour Dee Georgia it is. Ponce is home, for what it's worth, to the last project Frederick Law Olmstead worked on. One of the Olmstead parks was the site of the only double date my brother and I ever went on. My boyfriend at the time was impressed by how smooth my younger brother was. But then, that boyfriend turned out to be gay. Of course so did I. I don't think it had anything to do with the date, though, or the Omstead park, or the Southern pronunciation of a Spanish explorer's name. Whatever.

Anyway, the bike race was cool. My favorite day was our day in Chickamagua (Walker County, though not the county seat) where we watched the beginning of the time trial. The woman dressed up in the "confederate widow tells all" outfit talking on her cell phone after the pretty bicycles and their pretty riders had launched was the TDG at its core.

One of my favorite tidbits about my home state is that each county in the state was not allowed to be farther than one day's horseback ride (round trip) from its farthest corner to its county seat. There is no actual law to that effect (though I was taught differently in 8th grade Georgia history). There are currently 159 counties in Georgia and that is the maximum there can be according to the state constitutional amendment in 1945. (The high was 161, but two of them were absorbed into Fulton--county seat=Atlanta--during the depression). I grew up in DeKalb (county seat=Decatur and pronounced deekab).

The biggest county by population is Fulton, the smallest Taliaferro. (816,006 to 2077). The largest by area is Ware and the smallest is Clarke. In case you're wondering, Taliaferro is in the top third of the state and toward the east. The county seat is Crawfordville and the county is pronounced "Toliver." See. Ware County is in far southern Georgia and Waycross is the county seat. A good chuck of the Okeefanokee swamp is in Ware county Clarke county is where Athens and the University of Georgia are.

One day we spent in Lumpkin County and stood next to some people who didn't know how to pronounce its county seat. It's Duh lon ee gah.

My dad can name over 100 of the 159 counties. And he's from Alabama.

My parents are building a house in Gilmer County (county seat=Ellijay). Their house is near Cartecay. Which sounds like something "Nell" would say in that stupid Jodie Foster movie. Which made Honey and I start doing our Jodie Foster/Nell impression while driving through Gilmer County.

My dad and I tried to get a map of adjacent Fannin County (county seat=Blue Ridge) in October. The guy at the gas station looked at him and said, "there ain't no maps of Fannin County." We found one at the next gas station. What he meant was, "there ain't no maps of Fannin County for men from Fulton county driving Mercedes and wearing Joseph Banks clothing."

My parents want us to leave us the Gilmer County house when they die. It's in a beautiful valley overlooking the Blue Ridge mountains. Honey thinks we could be survivalists there in Cartecay. I'm reserving judgment. It is on Tickenetly Road.

I am disappointed to learn that Webster County (county seat=Preston, in the lower third of the state toward the west) was renamed Kinchafoonee.

One night we stayed in Gainesville (Hall County seat) and went to a restaurant that was using our meals to create its web site. Before we were served things, they got photographed. No one said a word about it. They'd just bring the food out and take a picture of it. The photographer guy kept licking his fingers. Honey was clever and ordered her salad without walnuts and it didn't get its picture taken.

I'll write more about the trip, but I hope you've enjoyed your Georgia county entry.

I like the Dolly Parton song from Transamerica:

Well I can't tell you where I'm going, I'm not sure of where I've been
But I know I must keep travelin' till my road comes to an end
I'm out here on my journey, trying to make the most of it
I'm a puzzle, I must figure out where all my pieces fit
Like a poor wayfaring stranger that they speak about in song
I'm just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home

My mother often asks when I'll move back to Georgia. No time soon, if ever, but looking out from that view in Gilmer County, I know what I miss.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Devil ducks

My Honey and I split a six pack of teeny devil ducks some time ago. This weekend, I bought them a very large companion devil duck. He is black with orange horns, tail, and beak. I bought him at Rhino records in Claremont.

Claremont is far from where I live, but I really like it. Its downtown is a few blocks of cute, but not precious, stores including two places with really good hamburgers, one with really good ice cream, and Rhino. This Rhino isn't closing, unlike its cousin the Westwood Rhino.

I think of the entire Inland Empire as a drive through on the way to something, but I like Pomona and Claremont and see why people want to live there. The Claremont colleges are all so collegey and people actually wished me Happy Easter as I purchased things. I mean people with record store attitude. Wishing me Happy Easter. While I'm standing there with a large devil duck.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

How to clean Biscuit's ears

Biscuit, the dog from hell, is a spaniel mix. So she has girly spaniel ears. Girly spaniel ears get dirty and grossy. So I have to clean them. My old dog Red didn't mind at all having his ears cleaned or having his ears called girly. The former made him groan in pleasure, the latter he ignored. Biscuit does not feel the same way Red did.

Here's how it goes. First, you find Biscuit:

Then you grab her ear:

Then she falls over and bites you:

Then you try to get your hand our her mouth. Don't trust black tongued dogs!

Then she calms down for a second:

Thinking you have your moment, you try to clean her ears. She has fooled you and writhes with such ferocity that you can't hold on to her./ Your arms are scratched, the camera is on the ground. All the while, the cats watched from a safe place...

So, you think I have to try again. So you find Biscuit...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Repeat after me

My mind is a repetitive little bugger. I circle back around to the same crap over and over. It's like when I was in college and needed something to do to blow off steam and I would go ride my bike around and around and around the big parking lot across from the campus. I knew every inch of that parking lot. From both directions.

Since yesterday, I've been listening to the same song over and over. It's on one of those CDs I lost back when I started this blog (see the "Losing Music" post). I'm sure it's driving OM crazy. I shut my door for a while today so I could work on a project and listen to the song and sing it softly without making her want to get a gun. "OM got a gun..."

I occasionally teach a course on the intersections of psychology and culture. So I am a dangerous person to be around. Because I know a little too much about psychology to keep my mouth shut when I should. One thing I learned a few years ago while teaching the class is that our minds sabotage us when we try not to think about something. They (bear with the metaphor for a second) put one of those little post-it flags on the thing that we don't want to think about. Then, when our minds do the kind of scanning they have to do all the time--to answer some question about who the junior senator from California is, or to talk to some random reporter about urban legends, or to remember the cute new way to get home at night--they see the little post-it flag and scan on over to see why the post-it flag is there. And then, there they are thinking about the post-it flag and why it's there and lo there you are thinking about the one thing you didn't want to think about.

Once I learned that, I began to wonder whether or not I should just ride around and around in that circle. And if the circle happens to need to include a particular Indigo Girls song from 1992, so be it.

My honey thinks I get into things by rote. I start doing them and can't stop. I do like order in my life. It's hard to find order sometimes. Still, when I spend too much time staring at one crack in the parking lot or one post-it flag, I wonder if there are other ways to think.

Or if I could put up enough post-it flags in all different colors to keep me from focusing on one.

As I said to the random reporter, we say what we need to say to make sense of the world. One woman's brain post-its are another person's urban legends.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A little piece of nice

My friend bryduck is a Reds fan. The Reds have never done much for me, but I always like liking the teams that my friends like, except when I have friends who like the Yankees. It's a motto to live by. You should probably write it down.

Actually liking the Yankees could be a deal breaker for me now, but when I went to college, there were too many people from the New York area who liked the Yankees to discriminate on that level.

I'm boring in that I like the teams that are from places I've lived (or nearby). So I like the Braves and the Angels best in baseball, but can stomach Orioles and even like thinking about how much more I would have liked living in D.C. had the Nats been there then. I also like UCLA basketball and if you're going to make me pick a NFL team, I'll pick the Falcons. I've lived in Atlanta, D.C. and L.A. See? Boring.

But the Reds? Not so much. But then this year I "invested" in a fantasy baseball league and I now have a new favorite pitcher. And he's a Red. I'm following him with a passion. I drafted him for 10 cents. So far he's won both games he's started and has a 1.98 ERA. He also has hit two home runs including one today out of Wrigley onto Waveland Avenue. He had never hit a home run in his major league career before these two games. And he has a lot of hair and a funky guy goatee and this fantastic straight high leg kick. And a great name: Bronson Arroyo. It sounds both geeky and geological.

Now, I'm sure that there are people in the world to whom Bronson Arroyo matters not at all. And I'm sure there are dedicated fans. He put out a CD. Check out Amazon if you want.

Truth be told, I don't really care about all of that. The thing is that for the last ten days, Mr. Arroyo has made me happy twice.

And, that's what's great about baseball. To paraphrase what Doris Kearns Goodwin said in her lovely way, what's great about baseball is that it's there when you need it. I really like that this year in addition to watching the Angels and Braves when I can, I can enjoy a guy I never thought about before. Because sometimes I really need a little piece of nice that's not complicated by anything else.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Don't break spring

It's spring break at my IHE. We always have spring break Easter week despite our heathen governmental status. I'm at work anyway, which is fine. I may take a day off this week, though I have three off next week to go to Atlanta and North Georgia. We're going to see the Tour de Georgia bike race and my parents. My therapist winced when I said I was going. I'm sure she wasn't wincing about the bike race.

I do get to go to south LA county on Friday for a conference. Woo.

On Saturday Honey and I had gotten home from the g-store and had been talking about "filling the green" by which we mean doing as much lawn/yard work as the city says we should because our green "yard waste" trash can has that capacity. I promised to fill the green by mowing, though I was in a semi-bad mood and didn't want to do it as soon as we got home. While we were unloading the car, a guy approached Honey and asked if he could mow the yard. She resisted at first and then thought she should check with me. I felt incredibly guilty about the whole thing but agreed. The yards look fantastic. Honey pointed out that the guy didn't want my liberal guilt to take over and say, "no I can do it." He needed the money. I had it. Still, I spent most of the day in the office so I didn't have to watch him knock himself out for the pittance we were going to pay him.

I'm delighted he did it. We were on the verge of no return in the back yard. The meadow quality of the thing was going to require more equipment and wherewithal than I have.

Now, everything is mowed and tidy and blown and trimmed. And Biscuit's stomach no longer exudes water from leaping through the tall grass. I had a basenji once who liked to leap through tall grass. I told Honey that she was remembering her African past. Honey pointed out that she was a puppy-mill basenji from the Midwest and had never been to Africa. Biscuit likes tall grass too and makes grunting noises when she runs. Her spaniel/retriever fur is harder to get dry and clean than the basenji's teeny little hairs. I'm getting her stripped next weekend.

Campus is pretty empty and I could use the freeway to get to school. I have a little sunburn and am glad spring is here. Just nobody break it, ok? We need it. Summer and winter don't get along and spring needs to come between them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


This morning I got up to work-out. As promised, I got my honey up too. I started working out and just didn't have it in me. My legs hurt, my head hurt. None of it was acute, but I felt restless and a little nauseated.

I've not gotten much done at work today. I have stuff to do. I should do it.

AD told me that I was "a good boss" today because I told her that because she worked so hard, she should just take a day off soon. She told me that my predecessor had denied her some comp time when she was very pregnant because she hadn't gotten it approved before hand. It's the kind of thing I would never do. She knows it. I know it.

My predecessor can be righteous in her sense that people should do what they should do. I gather she looked over people's shoulders more than I do. So my predecessor's efficiency lurks. And it is fighting with my ennui today. I'm pretty sure ennui will always lose a fight.

I can't get into the week, truth be told. I came in late Monday. Today I haven't worked very hard.

Things I've done instead of working:

Bought Angels tickets for a game in September

Re-read parts of my blog

Written this blog entry

Tried to find this IHE (and then my two almas mater) on U.S. News and World Report's ranking of colleges. Results: Third tier, #85, and #3 or #25 (what they're ranked in varies, but there they are).

Gone to the student union to get a ticket to an event tomorrow.

Went from the student union to the bookstore to buy my nephew a IHE t-shirt. My brother insists on giving everybody Yale crap (#3 on the scale my almas mater ranked #25 and #85 above, but who's bitter? Not me.). Thusly, I'm blanketing their asses with crap from Third Tier U.

Rode bike of the week back to my office. It's windy as hell. And I'm slightly sweaty.

Did some business on the phone. Which included succeeding in getting a meeting cut short so I can go the event I got a ticket for tomorrow.

Ok, I've written enough that I now feel guilty. I'm sure AD needs to talk to me about sumpin. I'll wander in her office. It will make me feel SOOOO productive.

Feel free to tell me what non-productive things you did today in the comment field. Most ennui wins. Or loses. Whatever.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Random Rain

It's raining hard today. I have a meeting with the furren language people in a few minutes. Normally I'd ride my bike of the week down to the other end of campus. Each week I bring in one of my two bikes to ride around campus. That bike is the bike of the week. This week it's my mountain bike, because Honey told me about the rainy weather forecast. My road bike won't melt or anything, but its skinny little tires and weak brakes don't mix well with wet and big me. So, the mountain bike is the bike of the week for the second week in a row. No applause please.

Bike of the week:

Not bike of the week:

I want to ride it down to the other end of campus despite the hard rain. I just don't want to arrive at the other end of campus looking like a wet rat. Choices. I could walk, I have an umbrella. I don't want to walk. I like getting my heart rate up and my lungs working. I don't mind getting wet. It's drying off that I don't like.

I'm back. I walked and got pretty wet. What would have been wet is my head and back. What was/is wet is my legs and arms. The meeting was annoying. Lots of eye rolling, none of it mine. Don't be shocked. I can keep my eyes still. Sometimes.

And then when I came back, was it raining? No. So I should have ridden down there.

Today seems to be the day of theoretical problems to which there are no solutions. The management team here in my office started agitating for everyone in the office to get reclassified. The furren language people bemoaned the lack of training in furren languages in the state.

Nobody on my fantasy team hit well yesterday. I'm not in last place because Jake "$3.60" Peavy pitched well for the Padres.

The Bruins lost the bball game to Florida. Florida. Somebody just saw the whole penisula off. Really. North America could stop at Valdosta.

As long as Bailey White knew the shearing of below Valdosta (BV) was coming, it would be ok.

Ok, ok. Florida has some things going for it. Right now I can't think of any.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Arrival of the champion

Yesterday morning I had to get up at what felt like 6:30am because I had agreed to participate in my brother's fantasy baseball league and he scheduled the online draft at 8am PST (11am EST) on the day of "spring forward." He said it would take about three hours and it took almost five. I was tired of sitting.

I am a person who like to buy things. Honey: "she's a consumer, she's a consumer, she likes to buy things, she likes to buy things" sung vaguely to the tune of "I'm a Survivor" by Destiny's Child. This league requires bidding on players. It's like ebay, only faster and in theory. It made me nervous because the amounts seemed to be 10x what they actually were. I had weird thoughts about the things I could do with $38 instead of bidding on Pedro Martinez. I reminded myself that I was really bidding $3.80 and that I had already paid my $46 to do this thing in the first place. Proving my consumer cred, by the time I had 16 or 17 of the 23 players I needed, I was down to the minimum bid, which meant I hate to wait for it to be my turn, pick a player and then hope no one over bid the $1 (really .10) at which I had to start (and end because I was out of money) the bidding. Thus I ended up with two players who are out for the season. Since I don't read the local papers in all the National League markets, I was unaware of how badly hurt they were. And don't get me started on the .80 I spent on the Rockies catcher who just went on the DL.

I'm at home Monday morning because the really nice plumber could come install the "champion" toilet this morning. I ran over to Lowes and bought the champion. Did you know that toilets don't come with seats? That seems wrong to me, but whatever. I mean, you drop $250 (give or take) before installation on the toilet bowl and tank and the seat isn't included. I'm going to call up Mr. American or Mr. Standard and tell them what I think. I bought a seat. Just so you know. I can't wait until all toilets in the house do what toilets are supposed to do.

Honey and I imagined a conversation with the lame toilet that was taken away by the nice plumber a minute ago. We thought it might tell us about outhouses and how evolved it was over them. We had three toilets: the one that works, the one that only accepts liquid, and the one in the cat bathroom that we don't use and ran all the time until I tied its chain up so it stopped being a toilet in any meaningful way. And we thought that our current functioning toilet might get jealous of the new one. Now we should have three toilets that do what they're supposed to do. Maybe I'll buy them all seat covers. To celebrate.

I want a trophy for playing in the fantasy league and I want a trophy for the new toilet. Provided, that is, that it does what it's supposed to do. It better.