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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.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Musical Thought

As I was driving in to work this morning it occurred to me that Emmylou Harris might be the best duet singer ever. And then I thought Nanci Griffith is pretty good, too. But I think Emmylou is better.

I then had the notion that I should not be allowed to sing along with either of them on duets. Even in the car alone with the windows rolled up. But I did anyway.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Tomorrow is the first day of the fall semester at my campus. Traffic will be horrifying. And my assistant director suggested in no uncertain terms that it was my turn to bring in "happy treats." She's right, it is my turn. And she's also right that treats make the office crowd happy. I think I'll get bagels. It seems healthier than most of the alternatives.

I'm just off the phone with one of the bath people. If I never hear another word about bathing, it will be too soon. Math either. The good news is that I have a new knife that clips to my bag. It's long and tough looking. The bad news is that assault is still illegal. Assault thoughts aren't. Being a twelve month administrator has its drawbacks at a nine month place. One of them is that you can't take the summer off from math.

On the plus side, Alejandro Valverde is winning the Vuelta. Move on the next paragraph.

Hi! Glad you made it past that last bit...

I wish fall were more, well, autumnal in Southern California. It was over 100 today and hot and dry. When I was in college, fall in Washington always pleased me. It actually got crisp. Of course it also usually rained. But youth is best seen through the gauze of "aww." I was just talking on Friday night about the wettest I've ever been after getting caught in a rain storm in D.C. in the fall. My car was so wet that for weeks, my shirt and pants would get wet from sitting in the seat. And woe unto the passenger, for he or she would be extra wet. And that was all from three people getting caught in the rain and then getting into the car.

New beginnings are nice, even if they seem inserted into my otherwise rolling existence. I decided to go to a lunch for new faculty. I'm not really new, but I am. Tomorrow is a Tuesday, but it's also a beginning. And being a beginner means the promise of things to come. It also means you can screw up sometimes and attribute it to your beginner status. So, I think I'll look forward.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Honey doesn't like secrets. At all. She's good about keeping them from me. In fact, it's a little disturbing how good she is at lying. She never lies for bad reasons. It's always because she's gotten something fabulous for me for a gift giving occasion or some such. Still, she ought to be good at poker. She favors Uno Attack. Sometimes avocations don't match skill sets or vice versa.

I, on the other hand, am a terrible liar. Last night I was "talking" with a semi-well-known blogger on gmail chat. We were discussing something I didn't want Honey to know about. Not because we were discussing anything untoward, I just didn't want her to know about it NOW.

"What are you talking about?"

Furtively glancing around, I couldn't think of anything smooth to say. For those of you with young children in your life, I looked a little like Swiper. Not smooth, not clever.

"Um, it's a secret."

Well, that was enough. The rest of the night, Honey kept guessing what the secret was. She then launched a morning e-mail attack on me and the semi-well-known blogger which was later expanded to include the semi-well-known blogger's partner.

She guessed everything from trip to a mall in Virginia to have pictures taken of us and them in Charlie's Angels poses to some large-scale involvement in food canning.

Honey does not know the secret and I'm going to do my best to not let her in on it, at least until it's time. And I'm trying not to channel Swiper. I'd like to be more like Emma Peel. She could keep a secret and look great doing it.

Share out in comments:

Are you more like Swiper or Emma Peel?