January 31, 2006

Not listening or watching....

Just for the record, I am not partaking of the State of the Union address. There are so many serious problems in this world and none of them are gonna be brought to the table. Instead, lets figure out a way to squeeze a few more drops of oil out of the planet.

Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive....
Keep on Rockin in the Free World

Ironic that although I am not listening to W, NSA is probably listening to me.

Going Postal

It's happened again - a postal worker goes on a rampage, killing coworkers and then herself, this time in Goleta, CA. Pretty horrific.

You wonder why this is so common that it's become something between a DSM diagnostic code and a punchline. I can think of a lot more mind-numbing and soul-destroying places to work - surely for all of its bad PR, we do not often talk of "Going Walmart" or "Big Mac Attack" or "Pulling a GM".

Perhaps its the civil service aspect - attracting a certain kind of person looking for a certain kind of workplace security - and the combination of a personality type and a work environment provides the combustible mix.

I dunno. Scary.

January 30, 2006

Chewbacca's Blog

Just because ::wiping tears of laughter from my eyes::

Medical Cell Phone Math

A story this morning that I heard on Morning Edition, from UPI, suggests that putting cell phones in the hands of doctors (here specifically, anesthesiologists) cuts down on errors and leads to better care.

Does not seem to be particularly good science, on initial glance (its based on a survey of doctors, who I am sure would prefer a cell phone vs. a pager, so there is a lot of room for survey bias) - although perhaps its better in addressing its initial intent (document the likelihood or rarity of cell phone interference with medical equipment).

In any case, as a cell phone user as well as a person who does business within the hospital environment, I would like to throw one additional consideration into the fray: the spread of staph (and other) infection via cell phone. Imagine the average doctors cell phone as a little germ carrier - roaming from patient to patient, and tell me the doc is gonna swab it between patients, or bother to glove / deglve when the phone rings.

Life Raft

More and more, my spare bedroom / home office / workplace is resembling a life raft. Three major pieces of furniture have been relocated to the new digs, and the remaining desk and table are piled high with papers, books, magazines, mail, and the accoutrements of a small office. A good time to do some pruning methinks.

I am gonna run over to the office early this morning with a load of boxes - since I am not officially there until Wednesday I do not really want to hang out there or be too visible, but I also want to get things moved. I have a small supply of boxes and I am moving things in waves or shifts - I need to get the now-filled boxes moved and emptied so I can start to sort out the piles that surround me.

I am excited about moving. I have visions of a neater and more organized workspace. I have pretensions of a healthier division between work and life. I like the idea of a bit more human contact in my day to day life. I am looking forward to a reason (beside the post office around 11 am) to get out of my PJ's and put myself together a bit more formally.

January 29, 2006

Wiped

Our heroine is fatiqued.

This morning started out with Hot Yoga. There are two primary hot yoga instructors - one is really kind of a rhythmic / flow person, the other is a posture, work it person. We had #2 today - a different kind of practice but really good. Usually at some point during hot yoga I become aware of my heart just pounding in healthy, pumping gallons of oxygenated blood throughout my body way that makes me think the big one is years off.

The rest of the day involved movings things - a folding table and large shelving unit from my storage hole, and a large shelving unit, paper rack, 10 boxes of books and paper, and a printer wire shelf from the house. Only a few occasions of unseemly butchness; I found myself doing yoga schtick as I lifted and carries and pushed and pulled: Shoulders down. Legs strong. Belly in. Breathe.

So I'm a bit wiped right now.

Output of all this effort: most of the boxes got unpacked, the paper rack got filled, and I got my cable modem / router connected and functioning. It's begging to look like a place of business. My laptop is now at the office - so I guess on some level I am open for business over there.....even though I do not officially move in until Wednesday and the heavy things (desk and file cabinet) do not go over there until next Saturday.

January 28, 2006

Productivity

Mid-day Saturday, lots accomplished already. Including:

* Jazzercise
* Run to the storage hole to pick up office accessories
* Go to the office for pre-set-up day #1
* Phone chats with M and K, individually
* Go to Kohls to buy underwear, boots, a couple of clearance blouses, and two epilatory gadgets

Gonna do 1/2 the local support group meeting, and then come home and prep for the balloon party this evening.

Weekend Worrier

Pun intended.

Weekends have been hard for me for a long while. It comes down to a block of time with not a lot of structure, a vague expectation that I should be doing something, the curse of the self employed in that I rarely have a list of undone errands or chores for the weekend, and a realization that I just do not have a large diversity or number of friends.

The periodic weekend angst erupted last night; I had stopped by the local community center and bought some tickets to the fund-raiser cabaret. I am generally kind of "iffy" on community things but decided it would have been a good show of support and maybe meet some folks. But the Zipster was sick / tired (drugs from her early week procedure) and taking it wasy since she is heading down to NY to help her mom out on Saturday. So she did not want to go and I really did not want to go solo. After dinner I took a nap, then when Zippy woke me up around 7 I was sullen and uncommunicative for a while as I banged through laundry and dishes and small chores.

I think the episode is over; today dawns brighter and busier with Jazzercise this morning, a support group this afternoon if I choose to go, a balloon community party this evening. And the opportunity to start moving stuff into my office, if I have use of the zipster's truck.

Fairly sure I know what the angst is about. I have this sort of vague "in a perfect world" vision of intelligent, progressive, and social friends dropping by, visiting, meeting for dinner or drinks or coffee or a movie. But I've been between communities for so long that many have dropped by the wayside; in some ways I am so demanding and idealistic that most fall short, or I do not take the time to invest in a particular community or social circle for connections to deepen. I have lots and lots of contacts but not so many friends - just a few good and close ones who happen to be out of town at the moment (and who, while initially my contacts, are close because of Zippy's interaction - I am sort of tangential)

Every so often I toss out a call to the universe - so here we go again. If you have any local queerish, progressive, artsy, healthish men or women hanging out looking for friendship and connection - send 'em my way or make our paths cross. I'll keep my eye open for 'em, OK, and I am sure I can lure them into friendship once I know they are out there.

January 26, 2006

Bitchy about CC:

I had a fairly snippy exchange this week with an executive from a local psych provider looking to market to the GLBT community vis a vis using CC: vs BCC: for email. He sent out an announcement which had over 100 email addresses on it (and visible) - including most of the local GLBT community. I asked him to use BCC: in future, citing privacy, spam, viruses, HIPAA, and the dreaded accidental REPLY TO ALL. He was not receptive.

A good technical discussion of my concerns can be found here.

The exchange and the personal nature of it got to me; I decided to stop being whiny and start being cold, calm, and officious. From now on, when I get this sort of email, I simply will redirect it to a special email account I have set up. The account has an auto-responder which will sned back the following email:
This is an automated message.

You recently sent an email to my-domain.com as part of a large distribution list using Carbon Copies, or CC: for the distribution list. As a result, each person on the list can see the entire distribution list, and each persons email address is available to all of the persons on the list.

In order to reduce SPAM and abuse of such lists, as well as to preserve privacy, I would prefer not to be included in mailings from persons using this form of distribution.

If you are able to switch over to an anonymous form of bulk emailing (such as using BCC: or Blind Carbon Copy) I would be most appreciative.

There is a good discussion of my concerns with regard to this practice here: http://www.cs.rutgers.edu/~watrous/bcc-for-privacy.html

If you are not able to make this change, or would prefer not to, kindly remove all my-domain.com email addresses from your distibution list; I would prefer not to receive these emails.

Thank you

A Death in the Family

Just a quick footnote to remember and honor Rachel. I did not know her well: met her only once and spoke to her on the phone a handful of times. She was the beloved of a good but distant friend.

She passed far too young, and far too painfully, and without having achieved many of her life goals and dreams. My thoughts are with her, with her beloved, her friends and family, and with us all - we are all such vulnerable, precious flames of energy and too easily extinguished.

Natural Reader

I've been putting together a tutorial on the set-up and use of some test equipment for a client, which precipitated the purchase of a piece of software which creates AVI movies out of screen actions. Pretty slick.

Said client wanted some voice-over on the presentation. He has a fairly thick accent, my voice is always questionable, a voice-over artist is not in the budget, and I am not set up for quality audio recording in any case. So, I started looking around for text-to-voice software, which led me to this demo page (AT&T / Bell Labs) and this fairly low cost consumer software based on the same technology.

Needless to say, I've been having fun with the technology. I'm recording an outgoing answering machine message. I'm typing the various silly things we say to get the computer voice to say them. I am typing calling friends and having the computer say odd or mildly offensive things to them or their machines.

These are the times I love being a self employed engineering geekette. I get to play around with stuff like this and call it work, and at the end of the month I get to bill for it.

New Quote

Don't it always seem to go,
That you don't know what you got 'til it's gone
(Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell)

Much Ado About Nothing

Looking around at other blogs and bloggers, I find my own to be somewhat inwards focused and self-absorbed. Natural, I guess - I am just not that excited or excitable about the world. Serenity prayer and all. And while I can be and often am chaffing at the political landscape or the environmental crisis or various global trends and issues, my response seems to be more one of local action (for example, recycling or less consuming or what-not) and supporting causes and movements that I think are making things better.

I just do not have the inclination to be blogging about the current administration, the huge global environmental issues, stuff like overpopulation, overuse of resources, global warming, species exctinctions, and all the other ills that plague our world. In some ways, these things were predestined when homo erectus picked up the first conveniently shaped stone and used it as a tool: the travails of a technological society. We can soften the landing, I guess, but we're not going to fix things until we break things pretty badly. Which gives me a new quote.....

I feel somewhat like a cosmic surfer - I sort of watch the big trends and movements, observing, moving through the waves, maybe making changes and tweaking things I come across. Hopefully, I am doing some good and making some changes a la the Butterfly Effect. I'd like to think so. It allows me to justify a sort of zen "accept what is" layer over my oft-times complacent existence.

Oh, and just a shout out to the good folks at Scholastic. I am coming to realize how much of my philosophy is based on the writing of Ray Bradbury, and specifically this collection of stories, which I must have picked up in grade school at a book fair.

January 24, 2006

Foodishness

For unknown reasons.....

Dinner tonight was Fantastic Vegetarian Chili, which involved boiling water, opening three cans (two beans, one diced tomatoes) and simmering about 30 minutes. AND IT WAS FREAKING INCREDIBLE. 6 Grams of Soy Protein per serving, a 1 gram of fat. Zowie.

Stop n' Shop had the nastily food colored and who the heck knows what is really in there, but strangely addictive Crab Classics artificial crab legs on sale. With zero grams of fat, lots of fishy protein and not too many carbs, they have to be better than fast food. Soylent Green is people....

Sidebar: Why does Charleston Heston get all the classic lines?

Note to Self Re: Workout Wear

Do not just stay in your yoga clothes all day when yoga gets cancelled and then go to jazzercise in 'em. You need more support up top for aerobics and you need tighter pants that you will not be pulling up throughout class.

On a more positive note, one of the women at Jazzercise who normally stands behind me commented last night that the view from the rear is getting better; i.e. - I really seem to be firming up and defining in a positive way. I've been doing a lot of jazzercise and yoga so maybe its all coming together. Need to start eating better, but still, its the sort of positive reinforcement / feedback that can help to change eating habits. So thanks!

January 23, 2006

Catching my breath

It was a driving sort of weekend. I made the commute to Woburn MA twice; once on Saturday and once on Sunday. No problems either trip, just a lot of driving. Which I am still able to do but it still makes me cranky and creaky. Saturday was a conference with MYA, and Sunday was hanging out and brunch with a bunch of cool folks.

For the record we went to Christopher's Restaurant in Cambridge, which was a lot less veggie / vegan friendly than expected per Internet write-ups, but still very nice. The company and conversation was excellant, and thats what counts.

Back to reality here. One more week of working out of the house; next week begins the move into the new office which should make for an exciting period. The big question du jour seems to be "hot yoga" or "gentle yoga" - think I will let the morning evolve a bit before making that decision.

January 21, 2006

Pipes and Driving

A bit of catch-up. Yesterday saw another hot yoga class; probably my last Friday for a while since I signed up for a concurrent series. I might switch my hot yoga day to Mondays. I need to get into a rhythm of exercise, balancing yoga and jazzercise.

Last night, Zippy and a friend were headed off to one of their periodic Celtic concerts, this with a duo named Pipeline. Not much going on in my world so I joined them; although I am at best a mild Celtic fan. I enjoy the music (and I am about 50% Irish, evidenced by reddish hair and freckles) but in a more ethereal, time to sit and ponder and let the mind move where it will sort of way. The duo was quite good; I was especially impressed with Tom Hake's bouzouki playing; enough so to do a little bouzouki web surfing this morning to see instrument shapes and makers and tunings and such. (Tom played a bouzouki which looked like this (as compared to the classic teardrop shape) and there was some speculation amongst us three if it were really a bouzouki or some other instrument (mandolin on steroids? mini-bass? guitar off-shoot?)

Today, I pick up MYA at 8 am (which I am sure is trauma to her teen-age sensibilities; its mid-morning for me) and we trek north to Woburn MA for a conference. With any luck we will see some old and new friends, neither of us will be traumatized, and she will have a good time and not cry spontaneously upon meeting a certain celebrity of my acquaintance. Just a day trip today, although I think I am headed back tomorrow to spend some time with the aforementioned MB.

Sort of in a holding pattern in a lot of ways. Moving into the new office space is going to suck up some time and energy; but I will not really dive into that until late in the coming week, at earliest. Official move-in date is Feb 1, although I might take some stuff over next weekend, and the official friends and family come on down moving day is February 4.

January 20, 2006

Childhood Alive

My inner child jumps for joy over this story.


Wham-O was one of the touchstones of my late 60's, early 70's childhood. The Hula-Hoop had a resurgence. Frisbee's were hot. Slip-n-Slides. Superballs. And all sorts of wacky products and gizmos too quirky and unpopular to enter the culture, but dammit, we lusted for them anyways.

Wham-O television ads were beginning the evolution from product endorsement to entertainment to infomercial, in no small part fueled by zealous marketeers and hucksters at Wham-O.

Just seeing the company name and the logo brings back all sorts of weird and positive memories of a simpler time.

January 19, 2006

Lake of Shining Waters

I've been clomping around in knee-high rubber boots today. Our periodically flooded backyard is back in business, abetted by snow, rain, frozen ground, warm weather, and the recent quick freeze / quick thaw. I took advantage of the sunny day to set up a sump pump and hose and its mostly drained.

The phrase "When you are up to your ass in alligators, its a bit late to drain the swamp" has been rolling through my head all day. I've been feeling suitably butch.

Zippy, who toiled at a sewage treatment plant for over 5 years, seems to find steel-toed rubber boots on her woman sexy.

Freshening Up

We'll be staying at the hotel so if you need a place to freshen up let us know.

A note from a friend who I will be seeing this weekend at a conference.

Amusing, the concept of freshening up. I am not sure it applies to me. I'm a singularly low-maintenance woman. I occasionally spend entire days wearing my yoga-duds, I spend entire weeks without a splotch of makeup. If it can't be handled in a rear-view mirror or a public restroom, using a small fraction of the contents of a fairly small purse, well, its a bit much for me.

Nice of her to offer. But, I'm not that girl.

January 18, 2006

Television Refusenik - Seriously

Not kidding here. Lots of people disavow television but they are closet addicts. Not me. We do have a television (two in fact) and I do flip it on from time to time, but we have ultra secret uber-basic cable that provides almost exclusively over-the-air channels, community access, politics, news, and shopping. No HBO, Showtime, Comedy Central, A&E, AMC, TNT, ESPN, Discovery, Lifetime, or any of the other subscription or entertainment options. In terms of popular culture and watching shows - we are woefully out of touch.

Here's a list of popular, smack dab in the center of the culture shows that I am not only not addicted to, I have never actually seen:

* Lost / 24 / Desperate Housewives
* Fear Factor / Survivor / Big Brother / The Apprentice
* American Idol (more than a few snippets)
* Law & Order (any of the sundry flavors)
* CSI (watched one episode cause a friend was in it)
* Six Feet Under (no HBO)
* Nip / Tuck
* Sopranos (I've caught 1 or 2 shows from a hotel room while traveling)

I think the last show I watched religiously was Northern Exposure. We'll watch the Simpsons and Keeping Up Appearances and Antiques Roadshow if we happen to be free when they are on and stumble across them. And we like various PBS things: Nova, NAture, etc.

I do admit to being a closeted Smallville fan cause I like the humanizing of the Superman story (I never liked the omnipotent, nothing on this planet can stop him version of Superman) and besides Tom Welling is cute - but that fandom translates into watching 3 or 4 shows a season.

In the world according to Garp...

...we are all terminal cases.

An historic footnote, breaking one of my blog rules. Stanley Biber has passed away, which is meaningful to a few thousand persons whose lives he has touched as well as most of the population of Trinidad CO where he was the town doctor for over 40 years. Cranky old small town surgeon by all reports, ruled his feifdom with an iron hand, made a boatload of money, richest guy in town - but compassionate, human, and skilled. Definite cowboy. Never met him, although I came close a few times, and I know many whose lives he has touched.

RIP, Doc. Thanks.

January 16, 2006

221,350 Miles

"Well, a quarter of a million miles isn't really that far
It took me two Chevy's, but I've done it in a car"
- Hugh Blumenfeld, Shoot the Moon (Rocket Science)

I've mentioned Hugh twice in the last few days - once more, and Beetlejuice-like, I expect to see him around the neighborhood. It happens now and then.....



But the point is, what took Hugh two Chevy's, I'm close to accomplishing in one Saturn. My 1996 vehicle has over 221,000 miles on it. I took it in for brakes, rotors, an oil change and tire rotation, and a new windshield wiper motor (the only thing mission critical). Every time I spend a few bucks on the car, I question my sanity, I question the investment. If this thing is still alive come summer, the tires I put in at 180,000 (thinking they would be the very last set I bought for this car) might in fact need to be replaced. One engine, two radiators, two clutches, two sets of struts, lots of brakes and tires and oil and gas. It hardly burns oil, and has lots of pep. Two front enders (neither my fault) and a handful of tickets and warnings. Not a bad run. Not bad at all.

Part of me wants a new vehicle. Part of me wants to drive this puppy into the ground or coddle it to 250,000 at the very least. Part of me wants to cajole the Saturn marketing folks to give me a new car as compensation for posing in an ad. I am sure they could come up with some amusing copy with a then and now photo. Heh.

New Quote

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. (Martin Luther King, Jr. - Strength to Love, 1963)

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Such an odd day, really.

Being self employed, I am never one to celebrate most legal holidays. I'll show up on at the post office on President's Day and other legal holidays and be all confused. I work when I work, which means weekends, holidays, nights, etc. I do not take many days off, I rarely acknowledge weekends or days of rest. So hopefully my pecking away at a keyboard today will not be construed as disrespecting the memory of Dr. King. I'll sneak out for Yoga mid-day, and will keep his memory and quest for justice in my heart then.

That being said, there is a bit of a racist undercurrent to this day - so many people do not honor the day, and there is a rolling of the eyes in some corners of corporate america not unlike that which occurs on jewish holidays. Oh, no, THEY are taking off AGAIN.

As a child raised in a very homogenous locale and educated by nuns, whose parents were thoughtful and moderate catholics but not particularly progressive, I was not that aware of the civil rights movement. In fact, I am sure for many years I confused Martin Luther and Martin Luther King - as if a man named Martin Luther had at one point been elevated to nobility. SRA Scores and grades aside, I was a stupid child. This serves me well in channeling humility, recalling how dumb I was and am.

One of Dar Williams earliest songs (which I am somewhat proud - so much for humility - to have purchased from her on tape at a slimy bar in Bristol CT, before The Honesty Room was released, and like to think she paid for gas to get home that night with my $10 bill) was called All My Heroes Are Dead.

I guess in honor of MLK day, I'd like to suggest that we look around our lives for a couple of living heroes, maybe give them a call, drop them an email, let them know that their lives and work is appreciated. I have a couple that I am thinking of.

And for no good reason, I am reminded of John Gorka's song Hero (which he credits Hugh Blumenfeld in the liner notes for resurrecting)

They say that when it comes to choosing heroes
It's best to pick the ones who aren't around
If you choose among the living
You tend to have misgivings
When your hero lets you down
He might have a bad night in your town

January 14, 2006

Tristan and Isolde

Zippy and friends were planning to see Breakfast on Pluto this eveing, but it had already shuffled off to DVD-land. So instead they went to see Tristan and Isolde - and I joined them.

Pretty good, as these things go - fairly true to the myth / legend, with some demystifying in the way of Mary Renault (a personal fave). I connected with the Tristan and Iseault myth through the book "We" by Robert A. Johnson in my Jungian, therapy, screwing around with gender issues phase - it sort of spoiled me for romance and love for a long time. I am gonna reread both the myth (I think I have a pretty generic translation around here somewhere) as well as the Johnson book - just because. I think I am in a better and different place these days.

James Franco was a hottie in his warrior jerkin. I normally do not swing that way but he's cute enough for it.

A really light crowd - groups of young women, a handful of dates - I fear this one is headed off to DVD land as well.

Then we headed home for decaf and cookies and got depressed about a really problematic (for a lot of reasons) article in the Hartford Advocate.

January 13, 2006

Hot, Sweaty Me

I've been going to yoga for a while now. And I've taken a lot of flavors - intro, gentle, all levels, even a hot yoga class or two with one of the instructors I am used to. When I take a daytime all level class, I invariably encounter students emerging from a particular hot yoga class. They are dripping, look wiped but ebulliant, and the studio afterwards is steamy. I've always considered it sort of a goal to get there - to be able to go to that class, with that instructor.

Well, this morning, I did. I have been feeling pretty good, I went to a gentle class yesterday which went well, and there was not much else on the studio schedule today. It was really incredible. I sweated; I flowed, my heart pounded. After Savasana, my legs felt so heavy; it was a particularly deep relaxation. But I did it, I kept up, and was not totally out of my league. Only a few postures I was unfamilar with.

Not sure I will make it a regular part of my practice; I have lots to learn in terms of technique, and I am not always up for that level of practice. But its nice to know I have the option.

At this point, a jacuzzi would feel pretty good.....

New Office


I am a closeted interior designer. I love to lay out rooms and plan spaces.

I've tentatively laid out my new office - which should be a lot more ergonomic than the existing configration (smaller space, shared by two people, odd shaped room). Challenges and benefits of the new office will be the windows (two large ones towards the front of the building) as well as a large window to the hallway behind. I imagine this was a fairly coverted office "back in the day" when the building housed the Loctite Corporation - right on the main hallway, big windows, nice space.

I will be forced to clean up my act a bit (office mess) due to the visibility (windows and location) but thats OK. I am due for a personal habits upgrade.

Move in date is Feb 1 or thereabouts.

January 12, 2006

In a Year of 13 Moons

Wow. Gonna take me some time to digest that. The slaughterhouse scene was magnificent and horrific and might be just the ticket to put me off meat for good. So very German, all of it.

Wow.

January 11, 2006

No trouble opening the file; it's beautiful.

Words of praise from my father-in-law (if we were civil unionized, which we are not, would in-law status apply?), a retired college professor. A week or so ago he came over asking questions about PowerPoint. After giving him a verbal description of what you can do and showing him some things I worked on, he came back with a fairly complex flowchart which looks like a proof or description of Euclid's Theory of Parallels. Apparently, I had an assignment. (Visio or RF-Flow would have worked better, but I doubt he had those on his MAC)

Took me about 15 minutes to put it into PowerPoint, save it as PPT / TIFF / JPEG, and email these to him figuring he could open and use one of them on his MAC.

Amusing that what is, to corporate america, a toss-off project impresses an academic to the point of using the adjective beautiful. I am imagining a day in the not-so-distant past when a college professor would scribble off something like this and the department assistant or university graphics group would spend hours setting it to type or re-doing it. Now it's a few minutes with a program that every corporate drone owns, even if few of them can do more than import bad clip-art and add a cheesy sound effect to transitions.

Continuing the theme of professional praise, I got an email from Thailand (apparently):
I loved looking at your site…just a layman but muck around with stuff in a way that would horrify the properly trained… thanks for the glance…

My work website (which you can actually find if you poke around Blogger enough) is pretty old and not well maintained (the old Shoemaker's Kids proverb, which amusingly, seems to be universally cited when it comes to cob-web-ish online content by people who write or design websites). But its nice to be considered impressive....there are actually some good things buried in there and lots of pictures. There are some pictures of a sign in Las Vegas (and a small story in re of) that never fails to elicit comments.

January 10, 2006

Breakfast on Pluto

A movie that was quite nice really. More of Neil Jordan's favorite Crying Game themes (transvestites and the IRA) but no little secret to keep this time. Cillian Murphy was really good in the lead. It was lighter despite obligatory death and mayhem and violence. The soundtrack was good - not incredible enough to want to buy the album, but good - and well used. A goofy little thread involving special effect robins that seemed almost Spielbergesque (which sounds wrong, but if Dylanesque is right, so is Spielbergesque, unless you mean Spielbergian) in its heavy-handedness. Think the feather in Forrest Gump or the Red Dress in Shindler's List. Wait - Liam Neesom portrayed Oskar Shindler. Maybe he is the viral carrier of heavy-handed special effects....? Kidding. I love his acting (even in Star Wars). Just a coincidence, I am sure.

Speaking of Star Wars, My Young Apprentice (heretofore to be known as MYA for blogging purposes) and I went to see it (Breakfast on Pluto, that is, not Star Wars) this afternoon (bargain matinee) - she had the afternoon off for mid-terms. We were the only two in the theater - which was amusing. I think it got dumped over at the Crown Palace on New Park because the Crown Arts (aka Cinema City) is showing Brokeback Mountain on two screens. Definitely a Crown Arts kind of movie.

Welcome Back, Corporate America

I dunno why, it's as if there was some alarm clock in the collective unconscious of american business that went off sometime in the last 24 hours. Allofasudden, work is busy. I've had (3) website clients all poking around for updates, I've had some engineering stuff bubbling to the surface, I've gotten off my keester on a couple of long term projects. Things seem to be in motion.

On a personal front, I'm moving out of the home office back to the place I used to have an office, except instead of a larger "junk office" (lots of square feet, not accessible, not particularly aestethic - a good hidey-hole for where I was back then) I will be getting one of the better offices in the building - big window on the main road, access to the conference rooms, right near the front door.

Kind of nerve-racking (commitment of $$$) but we've been pretty cramped with me in the spare bedroom; I can deduct the office expenses, and I'll be a bit more productive and professional.

Cranky and Sore

Slept til 7:30 am this morning - might be coming down with something - I get a periodic bout of cold / flu / aches / pains. Usually one in teh fall and one in the spring - but I skipped fall this year so maybe this is it.

Of course, I did both yoga and jazzercise yesterday and felt fine - so maybe I'm just exhausted. I'm not a particularly good patient (mostly just whiney) but I'm also pretty good at not being sick and when I am sick, plowing through it.

In any case, I've started my course of Vitamin C and Zinc and I have the Alka-Seltzer Plus cold medicine as a kicker if need be.

January 09, 2006

How to Blog

By Tony. Linked to by Betty. Appreciated by Jude.

January 08, 2006

Ballets Russes

Quite a delightful movie, really. Not much to say except it was really engaging, the dancing and old footage was wonderful, and the present day interviews with the dancers was great. Some real characters. It helps to remind me that the cranky old men / old women I encounter in life (and am sliding towards joining, day by day) were beautiful, strong, and sexy - and in so many ways still are.

In some ways the documentary reminded me of A League of Their Own (the reunion stuff, at the end) and the years of touring the US reminded me of old vaudeville memoirs (Harpo Speaks comes to mind) and also some things I have read about the early days of professional sports - filled with barn-storming, competing leagues, etc.

Bonus: Yvonne Craig - yes, Batgirl - who danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1954 - 1957, and was a role model for this aspiring crime-fighter. You betcha. The make-up mirror, the wig stand, the motorcycle, the revolving door, the way she got up on tables (in heels) and kicked bad-guys (not in heels). Heh.

At Real Art Ways through January 12th; go see it. Tell Will that Jude sent ya....

Oh, and the Frozen Buns Rally got snowed out. But we posed for a group shot in the snow., and had a nice breakfast anyway.

Rodeo

So, flipping through the channels this afternoon while I was folding laundry, I clicked through the rodeo on NBC. And immediately thought of Brokeback Mountain.

We need to start making plans for a Brokeback Mountain II that deals with NFL linemen. Cause if we can get mainstream america associating football with being gay - well, yeah. Its just the right thing to do.

January 07, 2006

Vegetables

I must be officially an adult. Sometime in the last few months I have come to enjoy the last bastion of vegetable "ick"-ness, specifically, the Brussel Sprout. We had them steamed tonight, from our favorite vegetable market. Delicious.

My veggie aversion was bred from childhood - sorry mom, but canned vegetables did not cut it; and fresh ones were boiled to grayness or mushed into a roast or other melange. I walked out of childhood liking peas and corn and maybe string beans and carrots - and thats about it.

Over the years, I've picked up vegetables slowly. An early relationship and appetizer platters / dip brought me around on broccoli and cauliflower. Other vegetables followed. Asparagus was a hold-out, and then finally, the only thing left was Brussel Sprouts. You might guess at some childhood trauma surrounding the consonance and coincidence of the name Brussel Sprouts - and you guess correctly. A most hated vegetable.

But now - all vegetables have been defeated. I am ready for enlightenment. Or death.

Gadgets and Chocolate

2006 is turning into the year of the gadget - at least so far. As a holiday gift, my brother bought me an MP3 player. Coolishness. A Dell, not an IPOD, but pretty decent - with room for 100's of songs. I am slowly figuring it all out, downloading songs, etc. I feel hip in a soccer mom sort of way; in that I will put old, unhip music on it or pop songs I end up liking from exercise or other things that I actually pay for or rip from my own CD's. I also plan to download radio shows and podcasts and stuff and listen to them on airplanes. If you are seated next to me - sorry.

I am also finally replacing my PDA - I was a PALM PILOT early acquirer (actually, one of my clients bought it for me as a gift, figuring I would learn how to use it and he would call for tech assistance). That got left on an airplane at some point, and replaced by a new Palm, which lost memory one time too many (its still around somewhere) and got replaced by a Handspring Visor. That recently got flakey - so a new Palm is finally en route. Color, lots of memory - I've been without a decent calendar / address book / etc. for too long. Hard to be a professional maven without information, hard to be an adult ADD sufferer without PDA games to distract.

And the piece de resistance - we got a NETFLIX subscription, which has been working out pretty well so far. Which brings us to Part II - Chocolate.

We watched the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tonight. All in all, weird and good. I enjoyed comparing it to the Gene Wilder version - embarassingly I have never read Mr. Dahl's book....

* Johnny Depp was peculiar and oddly attractive and sublime - a less creepy version of MJ. Loved the androgyny and the hair. Loved the nastiness under the surface. MUCH better than Gene Wilder....

* I *hated* the old movie in that Charlie and his Grandpa did something wrong - equally egregious to the other kids, and did not get busted - which never sat right with me. This Charlie Bucket is a lot purer in spirit.

* The mushy "world of pure imagination" ending stuff was also problematic in the old one. I like the new ending better.

* The effects were wonderful. The boat was great, the goggles were great.

* The Oompah-Loompahs were a riot (and far less objectionable than the old movie, although there has to be a bit of a problem when a tribal population is imported to do factory work). The songs were pretty funky. I loved that they had one actor playing all the Oompah-Loompah roles.

Next up on the Netflix watch list is a slightly different vibe: Fassbinder's In a Year of 13 Moons. And then Daughters of Darkness.

Waiting for the Man

Today is (with any luck) the Frozen Buns Balloon Rally - an annual tradition, held the first weekend in January, in which the local ballooning community gets together to put their balloons in the air, stay current (up to date, pilots needs to take off and land every few months or they need to recertify), do some winter flying, and in general kick off the new year. It's a nice event, and suitable wacky, typical for balloonists. Logic often does not enter into it.

We take off from the Aquaturf in Southington, and generally fly east and south, so if you see balloons in the air somewhere along Rte 15 today (say from Berlin to Meriden) you'll know why. Breakfast to follow, Gene's Restaurant in Southington most likely.

Due to the late sunrise this close to the solstice, it's ballooning "bankers hours" - I arose at my usual 5 am and had time for a shower, coffee, and some blogging before getting the call confirming that we will be flying. Still waiting for the man....

Grumble: Bagging it for today; too windy. Hopefully we shall fly tomorrow. On the brighter side, looks like I get to go exercise this morning....

January 06, 2006

Comfortable Ground

There is something to be said for an oft-trod path, a patch of familiar territory, ones own bed, ones own well worn desk chair and keyboard. I am back in my world, and it feels good.

The world of corporate powerpoint went well, with no problems. I get to send an invoice and be done with it. I continue to be struck by the dearth of women and persons of color in the audience and doing presentations for this particular company. It reminds me how much of my soul and self I would have to scrape away or plaster over in order to return to a job in corporate america.

It is also Friday and its been nearly a week since I unrolled a mat for yoga or jazzercise. And I miss it a lot; exercise and being in my body has become so important to me.

January 03, 2006

Not Home and Not Happy

I am exiled to Elba. Or the Ryetown Hilton.

Three days in NY working a powerpoint gig, wherein people in suits stand on a stage and talk to other people in suits, and I sit at a table behind a curtain loading powerpoint and switching computers and screens and otherwise being a hired gun. Once in a while it gets exciting (a person in a suit panics and pushes the wrong buttons, or a handful of last minute changes give me a chance to show my chops. But mostly - the struggle is to stay alert, to load the computers on time, to track 20 presentations and make sure computers are in sync. Not rocket science, but a decent 3 days worth of pay.

The most noteworthy thing - out of two days worth of speakers - not a one on the main stage is a woman. The women get to talk after the main meeting is over (a local human resources sub-meeting)

Work aside, its kind of slogging. The winter storm means I am not home with the Zipster, who is stuck with heavy snow and dogs and all that. The winter storm put everyone behind schedule tonight - so I missed a chance to jazzercise. The winter storm means I am stuck with room service for dinner. The hotel room will invariably be too dry and too hot for comfortable sleeping. I will be tired tomorrow....

Not miserable, just not joyful. I'm here through Thursday. Bleah.

Franchised Yurts

Inspired by Colin McEnroe's radio show (and blog) last night, listened to en route from Hartford to Milford. I would have called in but I was speeding down the Merritt and it was raining and nasty out....

First, the Great Room - the lamented merging of family room, kitchen, dining room, where kids do homework, parents cook meals, TV is watched, videogames played. This strikes me not so much as a deconstruction of Victorian properness and "a place for everything, everything in its place" ethos, as perhaps an evolution to a more eastern style of living and being. I am reminded of a movie we recently rented, wherein an extended family all lived in a yurt. A great room, indeed.

As for the franchising of America, the prevailing of corporate franchised food experiences over local eateries, well, I ate at the much discussed Macaroni Grill - on a recent trip to Tustin CA (as opposed to West Hartford). I submit that our franchise culture, even as it digests our cities and regions, binds us together across state and regional lines, across red state / blue state boundaries.

Not sure if thats a good thing or a bad thing. On the one hand, I enjoy popping in to Jazzercise franchises all across the country, and am universally welcomed and find a familiar workout experience. Are we liberals less strange to the heartlanders for having sat down to a similar meal at Chilis?

Perhaps the blue / red divide will be forded and national schism will be avoided not through deft politicking but rather through a pretty decent entree and a waitron who will be taking care of you tonight.....regardless of who you voted for in the last election.

Shelter from the Storm

Well, I rode out the much feared Nor'easter in a house on the coast in Milford - just rain down here. The drive to White Plains will be interesting, I am sure. But not quite so treacherous and snowy as I-84....

Props to my hosts for a yummy meal (Ahi and Edamaumie) and vino and a post-dinner aperitif that was desserty. And a comfortable bed in a beautiful bedroom with the sound out my window.

January 02, 2006

Grumpy about the Nor'Easter

Normally I am not a weather kvetch. I take it as it comes, I do not usually have to be places, I live in an urban neighborhood where the streets are plowed, the utilities stay on, and if worse comes to worst we can walk to the store for essentials.

But the upcoming Nor'easter is fretful - I have to be in White Plains for 3 days of work. I have to be there 7:00 am Tuesday morning, which will be mid-storm, by all accounts. And I have to be there through Thursday, leaving Zippy with 6-10" of snow to deal with. Fortunately we have nice neighbors with snowblowers....

The only good part is I will be holed up in a reasonably high end hotel for the duration - so will have my basic needs attended to if I can get there.

January 01, 2006

New Quote

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
The Summer Day, Mary Oliver

Thanks, Barbara....