Monday, December 19, 2005

Starbucksian Communication

Twice this past weekend, I visited Starbucks for post-Christmas-shopping infusions of caffeinated goodness. As I stood in the line snaking its way through the tiny coffeehouse, the background noise of the joint washed over me...A Charlie Brown Christmas playing on the sound system...the furious tock-tock-tock of a laptop keyboard...a child whining for a shortbread cookie. And, of course, the cashier shouting a coffee orders to the barrista, and the barrista repeating the orders back to the cashier.

I placed my order for a ridiculously unhealthy seasonal drink using no fewer than four adjectives, then stood in coffee limbo. The barrista was flipping bottles and pots and cups this way and that, fulfilling the orders, and placing the end results in the customer pick-up area. As the name of each concoction was called out, somehone happily stepped up to the counter, plucked up their coffee, and headed out the door.

Given this high degree of success...shouldn't relationships use this same method of communication? If I say to my husband, "Honey, could you wash the Boy's laundry?" and he says, "Washing the Boy's laundry!" then I KNOW he heard me. Same goes for folks at work. Too often, people absorb information without acknowledging that they heard it. So person #1 assumes she wasn't heard. At best, you're potentially duplicating efforts. At worst, you've got total inaction because one person thinks a chore is being done, and the other person doesn't realize that anything needs to be done.

Hmph. Perhaps too much coffee was consumed before I posted this.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Celebrities We Most Resemble

Yesterday I sneaked a peek at the new Curious George trailer and realized that if someone were going to draw a cartoon monkey version of my son, it'd look like this. Do you know how odd it is to see your child in cartoon monkey form?

Then, for kicks, I went here and found out that the celebrity I most resemble is...Monica Lewinsky? Really? My husband scored Yehuda Levi. Methinks he got the better bargain.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Long Live CostCo

'Cause nothing expresses eternal love and respect like discounted afterlife goods.

Toys = Terrifying Political Statement

(Photo by AP)

Can't say I've ever been a a fan of that sideburnless wonder, Governor Ehrlich. In addition to loads of social policies that stink, he put forth legislation that would allow the installation of slot machines at a race track that's a stone's throw from my house in Laurel. I'm thinking that state-sanctioned gambling wouldn't really do much for the joint. Even though the bill was squashed, I'm sure that'll it'll be reintroduced if he's re-elected.

But I digress...

Though I desperately want to believe that the man's underhanded, I admit that evidence is hinky that he and his minions actually created a "Death List" of state gubment employees to oust from service. As is my tradition, though, I'm not really interested in the political falderal. Rather, I'd like to grab onto a silly detail to dissect:

Another aide, Joseph Steffen, kept Grim Reaper and Darth Vader figurines on his desk. "People were actually terrified of him," Burgess said.

PEOPLE! When you print that people were terrified of an individual, you've gotta cite more than the toys that are on his desk. Darth Vader is the antagonist in cultish kids movies, and I'm willing to bet my left eye that the Grim Reaper figure is "Death" from Family Guy. These are not toys that should inspire fear. Busts of Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Josef Mengele...these are items that should inspire fear. Darth Vader and Death? Mock Joseph Steffen; don't fear him.

I should know. Optimus Prime, Vanity Smurf, and Master Shake adorn my workspace. I wonder if anyone's tiptoeing around me that I don't know about?

Monday, December 12, 2005

Year in Review

Another blog I peek at daily suggested an easy way to re-cap the year: clip the first sentence from the first post of each month. Let's see what we come up with, shall we?

- 05/05: Since the birth of my child ten months ago, I have come to realize that I would have made an excellent member of the U.S. Army.

- 06/05: So, the boy has six teeth now.

- 07/05: A humble request: if you're on a crowded Metro line (shout out to the red line toward Silver Spring) and you can reach the horizontal hand rail that runs along the top the car, please please please use it instead of hanging onto the vertical poles like a lazy stripper.

-08/05: About eleventy-seven million people have already dissected the silliness of vanity plates, so I'm not going to analyze why people would choose to pay the Man an extra $25 annually to maintain an inscrutable acronym/phrase/word on their cars.

-09/05: Not sure what I think about the device in this article.

-10/05: Looking around, it's a pretty common thing for bloggers to hem and haw about their lack of posting.

-11/05: Last weekend, I was visiting my in-laws in North Carolina.

-12/05: I picked up my new glasses last night.

I've clearly gotta work on kicking my opening lines up a notch.

XXX Baptism

This past weekend was jam-packed with activities (big shocker in December, eh?). The busy-ness was not exclusively tied to Christmas, though. My friend's daughter was baptized yesterday, so now she's officially clean of original sin and all that jazz. It was an appropriate day for the sacrament in the liturgical calendar, too, since the gospel was all about John the Baptist. So, the entire mass was a neat little package of thematic tie-ins. Well...until the homily.

The priest chose this mass, THIS BAPTISM MASS during ADVENT, to explain to the congregation that gadgety Christmas gifts like computers, iPods, Blackberries, and Sidekicks, are potential gateways to pornography. I swear, he must've said the word "pornography" about a dozen times during his six minutes in the pulpit.

Now, I totally understand that as a shepherd to his flock, this priest feels called to warn his parish of possible corruption of its children through seemingly innocent channels. Got it. But during a BAPTISM? Sheesh. It's not like it was a surprise that fresh little babes were going to be doused with chrism and water. It was on the schedule at least six weeks ago, possibly more. Mixing internet porn with the vision of chubby babies clad in white didn't really work for me.

Again, I say sheesh. This almost as, uh, "good" as the homily during a friend's wedding when the priest chose to impart the tale of missionary nuns who had been raped and murdered in China.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pluralism Inaction

I'd originally written a whole huge diatribe on why this card is silliness, cardified. But I think the WaPo article does that in a very polite way, ticking off the reasons that the President can't send out foil-stamped Nativity scenes to every single one of his 1.4 million close, personal friends.

So what I'm going to list are the top 10 things I think William A. Donohue ought to worry about:

1) Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan;
2) Russia is selling surface-to-air missiles to Iran;
3) North Korea broke off nuclear non-proliferation talks;
4) The Bush Administration is claim the economy's on the rebound by quoting expansion numbers without revealing how the numbers compare to the pre-Bush Administration economy;
5) AIDS infection rates in Africa continue to soar;
6) Four people have now been diagnosed with Avian Flu;
7) Jessica Simspon appears to have cheated on Nick Lachey (repeatedly);
8) Donald Rumsfeld aparently tinks that sldiers don't have to stop torture, they just need to let someone know it's happening;
9) Over a thousand inmates have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977;
10) Michael Brown is starting a disaster-preparedness consulting firm (no, really, I'm not making that up).

Call me Little Mary Sunshine. Anyway, I'm not saying all of these problems are as solveable as HolidayGate, but come on. Tack your card up on the wall, and get some perspective.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Never Liked Chicken Soup, Never Will

I keenly know my place in the spectrum of lauded writing. It goes something like this:

1) Big Press/Hardcover
2) Big Press/Trade Paperback
3) Small Press and/or Literary Magazine
4) Self-Publishing
5) School Literary Journal
6) Fan Fiction
7) Blogging

Note that we go from "lots of people saw this and thought it was good and were excited about it before a single word was committed to press" to "this went directly from my brain to my fingers to the stratosphere without another soul's involvement." Chances are if you're publication vehicles are in the latter half of the list, you are probably your biggest fan. Or possibly your Mom.

So what I'm sayin' is, I recognize that my professional writing fu cannot compete with those folks' who are published by the organizations at the top o' the list.

But I've got to say, this has GOT to be one of the worst titles I've ever seen: Chicken Soup for the Mothers of Preschooler's Soul: Stories to Refresh the Soul and Rekindle the Spirit of Moms of Little Ones. There are just too many words happenin' here. I understand this is one of a (prolific) series of books, and that the title's just tryin' to fit a template, but sheesh! Maybe they took one of those magnetic poetry kits, chucked it against a fridge, and used whatever stuck as the title.

We're not supposed to judge books by their covers, but surely titles are fair game?

Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful...Not Really

Since the DC Metro area was powdered with snow last night, loads of school districts are opening late. So my commute was more easy-peasy than usual. Sidebar: I'm still in the honeymoon faze with my 15-minute ride. Sure, some day I'll be jaded and the wonder of being at the office within the span of a Howard Stern commercial break will wear off like a temporary tattoo. 'Til then, I'll celebrate it.


The Boy has seen snow before, but he was shocked by the volume this morning. Hubby took him into the room where we get him dressed, and laid him down to strip off his PJs. Sleepyhead rubbed his eyes, nuzzled his pacifier, and turned to look out the window as is his custom. Then his eyes went wide, he spat out the pacifier, pointed, and yelled, "Whazzzat?"

Sure, he sounded like the infant version of a Budweiser "True" commercial. But I got a kick out of his wonder. Which leads me to something else...

I always knew I wanted to be a mother. Guess it's the nurturer in me. Still, though, some time ago I invested loads of mental energy into breaking down the reasons someone would want to become a parent. I never viewed having children as something I was simply s'posed to do, per Catholic doctrine and Darwin. My broody urge rests in bringing a soul into the world who is the physical manifestation of the love his father and I share, someone whose life and development I could witness firsthand, and someone whom I could teach about our crazy world.

Something as simple as a flurry reminds me of that.

Friday, December 02, 2005


After dropping off the Boy at daycare this morning, I tailed a car branded with this bumper sticker. When I glanced at the driver's side window so that I could file away the visage of the person making this claim, I saw a tiny smooshed face sticking out of the rear driver's side window.

Admittedly, this furry friend was a cutie. I respect people who love their pets (those who looooove their pets are a different story). But seriously...this bumper sticker is just annoying. And I don't have a school-aged child.

Actually, the whole spectrum of honor student bumper stickers have always grated my nerves. The original puts parents in an awkward position: devalue your car, or trumpet your child's single-quarter academic accomplishment? Following that one came the classy, "My child beat up your honors student." My bet is that the people who festoon their cars with this sticky placard don't actually have kids. At least I hope they don't.

Hmph. Guess I'm just a cranky pants this morning.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


I'm not going to jump on the does-she-or-doesn't-she-have-an-eating disorder bandwagon. But I can't tell if Ms. Richie is rockin' some cleavage in this pic, or if it's the divot of her sternum.


I picked up my new glasses last night. They're not all that different from the specs I've been sporting for the past six years, though I think they are slightly hipper. Same color, same size lenses, stronger prescription, and the shape of the lenses are a wee more rectangular.

Scintillating, I know.

Anyway, the only problem I'm having with them is that the bendy arms are biting into the backs of my ears. Sure, five millimeters is probably the span between a comfortable fit and feeling like my head is being juiced. But since my head goes five millimeters in the wrong direction, I'm left feeling like pumpkinhead.

Maybe next time I'll go for a pince-nez.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

New Rule #1

I'll admit I'm completely copping "New Rules" from snarkmeister Bill Maher. I can't believe I'm actually ripping off this dude; I prefer the lighthearted snark of Jon Stewart. Sadly, I'm inspired to create a new rule, not thumb my nose at broadcast news, so Bill Maher it is.

But I digress...

Here's the new rule: Hitler may NOT be used to justify actions or philosophies. Hitler may ONLY be used in introductory philosophy courses as the go-to example of evil.

What's the inspiration for this new rule? When I tuned in to Elliot in the Morning today, the Class was chatting about crystal meth (I mean, who doesn't, right?). Anyway, I didn't catch the whole convo, but a chica called to share that she uses ice occasionally. People who become addicted, she says, are using it poorly. Then the caller insisted that it was possible to use it occasionally with no ill effects. To undergird her argument, she dropped the H-bomb: "I mean, Hitler used to give it to his soldiers!"

Now, I'm not saying that she had a rock solid position at any point in the call. But I'm pretty sure that as soon as you toss in Hitler to substantiate your point, you've defenestrated your proposition. No one, I repeat no one, with a rational mind is going to say, "Well, that Hitler was a successful dude. So, if he believed crystal meth was safe, then I'm going to give it a try."


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Newlyweds No Longer

This is silly. This is really, really silly. I am actually disappointed that Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey are splitting up after three years of marriage. Whatever the reason -- creepy Papa Joe Simpson, crazy work schedules, inequality in success -- I thought they were going to stick it out. He seems like such a nice, normal guy. And she seemed like someone who wanted the nice and the normal to balance out the crazy professional life she's had since she was a tween.

I wanted the tabloids to be wrong. I wanted to imagine that Nick and Jessica snuggled under an afghan in their McMansion in California, nibbled ice cream and giggled about how wrong the National Enquirer, Star Magazine, InTouch Weekly, OK! Magazine, People, Us Weekly, Hello! Magazine, and a kajillion other rags were.

Why did I invest time whipping up this little fantasy for two people I don't know? I wanted this to be the case because now I feel culpable and not a little dirty that the fishbowl into which the public interest put these two kids directly contributed to the dissolution of their marriage. Each week, headlines screamed that he was overly involved in the floor show at a bachelor party, and that she tumbled a skateboarding manchild while filming a Razzies bound white trash fest. And while I didn't often fork over my hard-earned coin for the weeklies, I regularly checked out their websites for the latest in celebrigossip.

Maybe they would've eventually split up, but I can't help but think maybe if the scrutiny hadn't been so intense, maybe if so many people didn't stand to make a buck on 60-point headlines trumpeting an impending Simpson/Lachey divorce, they woulda had more time to work on their relationship.

Yick. I'm all Lady MacBeth with newsprint stains. Check ya later; I gotta see if I can wash it off.

Mea Culpa

Just wanted to start out with an apology for the crock of boredom I've unleashed of late. Daycare drop-offs? Lip balm? LISTS?! The first rule of writing is to make it interesting. Well, actually, the first rule of writing is spell check. You can claim artistic license with poor grammar, but bad spelling...well, that just makes you look like a dummy who doesn't know how to push the F7 key. But the SECOND rule is to make it interesting.

We'll see if I aptly applied either of these rules to my writing. I entered a writing contest sponsored by White Lie Early Season chardonnay. The results aren't posted 'til December 16 (or shortly thereafter), so I have to bide my time (and bite my nails) while I wait it out. Even if I didn't win, place, or show, I'm glad I entered. At least my gooberish gibberish will be in the periphery of an author I respect and read.

Now, onto (hopefully) more interesting posts...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Eye of the Storm

I can't see straight. That's partially because of my stigmatism (hooray for getting my eyes examined this Saturday). But it's also due to my nutty social calendar. Check it:

- October 28-30: Visiting sundry in-laws in North Carolina;
- November 18-20: Alumni weekend events at G'town; hosting in-laws who were gracious enough to look after the Boy while I was occupied with said events;
- November 24-27: Hosting sister-in-law for Thanksgiving;
- December 3: Hosting birthday party for college roomate;
- December 4: Attending cousin's baby shower;
- December 8: Former office holiday party;
- December 10: Something I can't remember;
- December 11: Best friend's baby's christening;
- December 23-30: Visiting in-laws in Cleveland;
- January 7: College roomate's daughter's 1st birthday in New Jersey.

Phew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pucker Up

I can't think of anything more distracting than a dude who liberally and frequently applies lip balm. Ooh, except a dude who liberally and frequently applies fruit flavored lip balm. I dunno...I realize that the desire to live an unchapped existence is equal opportunity, but I feel like it's not all that manly to coat one's lips with soothing ointments.

Right of Way, Right Away

After I dropped of the Boy at daycare this morning I meandered out of Daycare Lady's neighborhood, absorbing the scenery as I went. It's officially autumn in Laurel, with golds and oranges and reds dripping down from the dense trees in the area. I had a cushion of a few minutes courtesy of the Boy's speed in getting into his coat and gloves this morning, so I wasn't in any hurry. But after a few minutes idling behind Minivan at a stop sign, I wondered why it hadn't departed.

Daycare Lady doesn't live in a heavily trafficked area, so finding a window into the one semi-busy road is no big trick. Yet the Minivan rested there, righteously beeping at the four cars that happened by within about 90 seconds. Then it hit me: Minivan thought we were resting at a three-way stop.

Luckily, I was turning right so I was able to get around the left-bound Minivan. I don't know why I found this so funny. Maybe it's because someone who was able to pass the tests to procure a driver's license in the first place shoulda figured out by car #2 that s/he was at a regular old sidestreet stop sign, and that folks on the bigger street had the right of way.

Remember what I said about Minivans, kids?

Monday, November 14, 2005

Killing Me Tweakily...

Everyone knows that caffeine's not good for you, but it's not like it can kill you. Oh, wait, apparently it can. has a death-by-caffeine calculator on its site. All of my favorite caffeinated drinks are on there (seriously, it's like a Who's Who). Here's how much I'd have to drink of my hit parade to do myself in:

- Coke: 331.21 cans
- Coffee: 104.76 cups
- Dr. Pepper: 274.66 cans
- Mountain Dew: 204.75 cans
- Rockstar: 75.08 cans
- Starbucks Grande Caffe Mocha: 160.88 cups

The site doesn't detail the span of time in which you'd need to chug all of this caffeiney goodness in order to commit liquid hari-kari, but I've gotta assume it would need to happen over a short period of time. Not that I have any designs on an exit strategy like this, but if I did, I think the caffeine headache I'd have by Mocha #10 would stop me.

I Will Rochambeau You!

Anyone familiar with the Mecha-Streisand episode of South Park won't be able to take the issues reported within this article seriously. Ah, how today's low culture appropriates the high brow inventions of yesteryear...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"My Name is Earl"...from Maryland?

"My Name is Earl" is set in Maryland! It has to be! The Executive Producer, Greg Garcia, is an alumnus of Frostburg State University which is in...Frostburg, Maryland. One of the supporting characters' names is "Crab Man," so I should have been tipped off to its existence in a fictionalized mid-Atlantic town. But the clinchers came during this past week's episode: at one point, Earl finds out that Randy ran away to Hagerstown (I won't spoil the ep by explaining why). And at the end of the episode, Earl said he caught up with the state fair's carnies (or would that be fairies?) just outside of Cumberland.

Why am I excited about this, you wonder? After all, the characters who have been featured on the show so far aren't exactly model citizens. They're the best we've gotten in recent memory, though. Let's take a look at other shows that have been based in Maryland, shall we? We've got The Wire, The Corner, and Homicide: Life on the Street. All of those shows are about drugs, poverty, and murder. Nice.

Well, there was Young Americans, but that Dawson's Creek spin-off only made nine episdes and was set in New England. So I don't count it.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more indicators to reveal where exactly "Earl" is supposed to exist in the Old Line State. If I had to guess today, I'd put it in Frederick. Anyone care to place a wager?

Charm City Isn't Good Enough?

So, Baltimore is apparently shopping for a new moniker. Baltimore has gone down this route before. Several times. Go here to see the tawdry history of failed nicknames, and the negative ones the city's earned courtesy of its drug trade.

Unless a nickname organically develops, though, like New Orleans' "The Big Easy" or New York's "The Big Apple," or even Chicago's "The Windy City," it's just not going to stick. Remember when Seinfeld's George Costanza wanted everyone to call him T-Bone? Well, I feel like my hometown is George Costanza in this scenario. And does anyone ever want to be George Costanza?

Let people figure out what they want to call Baltimore. Anything else is just kinda desperate.

Since everyone else is doing it, here are my suggestions:

"The Big Humid"
"Not Washington, DC"
"Birthplace of the Anthem"

Vote for your favorite today! Mine's "Sugartown," 'cause it's a big part of Baltimore's commercial history. And think of the slogans you can develop around it..."Live the sweet life in Sugartown."

Where's my $500,000?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Transition Period Between Adulthood and...Older Adulthood

Sometimes I think the whole pregnancy-and-childbirth experience flipped my physical degeneration switch. Could be a coincidence, but didn't the Celestine Prophecy teach us that there's no such thing as coincidence? Alright, I'll concede that I'm twisting the philsophical hoo-ha featured in James Redfield's thin-on-plot, thick-on-lecture opus to underscore my point.

But there's some evidence that there's a weird hormonal cocktail circulatin' through my system. I mean, I shouldn't have to buy wrinkle-fighting cream and acne cream. If I've got enough oil sitting on the surface of my face to warrant a couple of Dallas style derricks, why do I ALSO need to invest in soothing elixirs designed to eliminate unflattering lines?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The City of Love?

Cheez whiz, what's happening in Paris these days? And I thought Oprah's entourage was making up that junk about North African "trouble." Don't accuse me of perpetuating racism. These are just the only two stories about North Africans in Paris to crop up in the Washington Post in recent memory. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to connect dots, even if there aren't any dots to connect.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Last weekend, I was visiting my in-laws in North Carolina. Courtesy of six extra hands chasing after the Boy, I actually had time to read the paper and enjoy a really lovely cup of coffee. Let's take a moment to cherish that memory. coffee. It's delicacy I don't often have.

Anyway, the paper in question is Asheville Citizen-Times. On the front page of its Faith section (yep, that's right, Faith section), was an article all about Halloween pagan traditions. Now, I'm not going to touch on how an Appalachian newspaper is covering decidely different religious holidays than the overtly Catholic papers in my home diocese of Baltimore, or the overtly agnostic papers of my adopted DC suburb. I mean, not only was it kinda weird to see a Faith section in the first place, but it was overwhelmingly weird to see a blackrobed Wiccan priestess in full color.

I've always had an affiinity for Wiccan tradition since it ties to ancient Celtic heritage. The governing rule of Wicca, "If it harm none, do what ye will," is pretty much the Golden Rule in disguise. So the basic tenets of Wicca, like Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., never really went against my Catholic grain. And, let's face it: an awful lot of the more secular Christian traditions (Christmas trees, Easter eggs, etc.) are rooted in pagan rituals.

But I didn't start this post to dissect the interweaving of faiths.

One of the nuggets of the article is the origin of costuming oneself on Halloween. Basically, it was a pagan ritual designed to highlight ways you want to improve yourself. For example, if you want to work harder in school, you might dress up as a graduate. Or if you want to be more brave, you might dress up like a lion.


I'm not saying that I believe this is true. But I can't help feeling a little Pascal's Wager-ish about it. For the past two years, we've dressed the Boy up as the Incredible Hulk. Let me reiterate: we've dressed a baby, and now a toddler, as a creature that is prone to fits of uncontrollable rage. Which involves hitting (Check). And yelling (Check). And splitting his pants (Check).

Maybe this little Wiccan thingamajig has some real mojo to it, eh?

Monday, October 31, 2005

GlenMary Glen Ross

Sometimes I feel like Shelly "The Machine" Levene. Well, maybe Gil would be more appropriate, considering my industry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Big Crime in the Small City

Each Thursday, the Laurel Leader faithfully shows up on my stoop. It's the free local paper in my little burg, and I don't think it gets the respect it deserves. Let me explain:

For years I felt disconnected from Laurel. Even though we owned a house, shop locally, and belong to St. Mary of the Mills' parish, I didn't really feel enmeshed in the community. The reason for this kind of clicked during a visit to my in-laws in Ohio. I was reading The Plain Dealer, and found loads of news about Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs. I was engaged in the news because it was about the local community! Seems obvious, I know.

But Laurel lives on the fringes of Baltimore and Washington, DC. Consequently, neither markets claim it as one of their suburbs, and we enjoy little media coverage. The bit that does make the airwaves is usually about crime (Remember the attempted theft of an ATM a few months back? Yep, that was us.) Doesn't exactly help educate a citizen about her city, ya know?

Anyway, the only outlet for local info that I could find, from construction notices to high school football stats to audition postings at the Laurel Mill Playhouse, is the Laurel Leader. And now I'm a dedicated reader. Here's what's ironic, though: one of the sections that I skim without fail is the crime log. I don't know why; maybe it's 'cause I have a young child (no crime's been logged in our neck o' the woods, for what it's worth).

And here's something to compound the irony: the crime log actually made me laugh out loud! Here's the entry that got me:

Sept. 12: 1100 block of Montrose Ave. - Entry gained through a window. Forty DVDs, jewelry, Nikon camera and bank checks were taken. Before leaving, the robber also ate a pizza that was in the victim's refrigerator.

Is it terrible that someone's sanctity was violated like this? Absolutely. Is it funny that the thief was so confident in his getaway that he ate a pizza? Positively.

If I were the victim, I'm not sure if I'd view this as adding insult to injury, or if it would make me laugh too. Either way, I'll take this kind of crime over the goings-on of Baltimore and DC any day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Parents' "Maybe" Conversation

The Boy has been waking up in a screaming fury the past two nights for no discernible reason. At fifteen months old, he can't tell us what the problem is, so we have to go all Sherlock Holmes and see if we can figure it out. Problem is, in the middle of the night, our keen powers of observation are, well, not so keen. We're both fairly blind (shout out to the stigmatism crowd). And we neither of us wake up in a crisp state of coherence. At least we're not alone...I get the impression that most parents of young children are like this. So, I present to you the conversation that I believe every couple has during a child's nocturnal screamfest:

Parent 1: Just ignore him. We can't go in or he'll think we'll come in every time he squeaks.

Parent 2: I am ignoring it. (Places pillow over head. Takes pillow off head after a minute.) Is he still going?

Parent 1: Yeah; I think it's worse. (Sighs.) Do you think he's hungry?

Parent 2: No...he had a six ounce bottle before bed. And he had a good dinner before that.

Parent 1: Maybe he's going through a growth spurt and he's hungry again.

Parent 2: That doesn't sound like his hungry cry. It's definitely not that. I think.

Parent 1: What about his diaper? Do you think he's wet?

Parent 2: Maybe. But he's normally OK with a wet diaper. He's only upset if it overflows. And even then he doesn't care half the time. I don't know...maybe he's overtired.

Parent 1: How could he be overtired? He was asleep. Why would he wake up, then scream because he was tired?

Parent 2: How am I supposed to know? I'm just throwing out ideas. (Rolls over.) Do you think he has a cold?

Parent 1: He has been a little sniffly. But the temperature's changed this week, so maybe it's just a seasonal thing. Could be allergies.

Parent 2: Yeah, see, I thought the sniffles were because of teething. Maybe I should go give him some Tylenol. (Sits up and pulls back comforter.)

Parent 1: But if it's a cold and he has a fever, the Tylenol's just going to mask it. So maybe we should hold off on that.

Parent 2: (Sighs. Lays back down.) He's going to have laryngitis. He can't even talk, and he's going to have laryngitis.

Parent 1: Maybe he's too hot in the fuzzy sleeper. Or maybe when the heat kicked on, it woke him up and he's confused.

Parent 2: Maybe. (Sounds doubtful.) I don't know. I wish he could tell us what the problem was.

Parent 1: Yeah, but when he can talk, he'll call us by name and that'll be harder to ignore.

Parent 2: I suppose. Hey, do you think he lost his pacifier?

Parent 1: No, I heard in sucking it in between screaming fits.

And...scene. Truth is, this conversation would truly capture parental exasperation if it repeated itself at least six more times. If you're on tenterhooks about the Boy's status, I do believe he's teething. We dosed him with Tylenol, and after about twenty minutes of righteous indignation, he drifted off to a deep slumber.

I love Tylenol.

Monday, October 24, 2005

If Language Is Living, I Think It's Ill

Many things stick in my craw, but since I'm a passivist (get it?), I don't really get to unleash my frustrations on those who deserve it. My husband's heard my complaints about inconsequential things time and again, but I recognize you should start paying someone after the hundreth reiteration of a pet peeve.

My pettiest of peeves tend to fall into two different categories: litter and aggressive verbal blunders. The first one's pretty obvious. I mean, is it that hard to pitch your chip bag into the trash can that six feet away? I'm not an eco-warrior or anything like that; I just like things to be organized.

The verbal blunders are a little more complex. Spoonerisms and Malapropisms are endearing; coining phrases is necessary in the modern era; and puns, while annoying, are products of craft, not happenstance. All of those are acceptable ways of playing with the English language.

Here's what's not: jumbling together prefixes and suffixes until you get a word that shares a root with a real word, but is itself a work of fiction. This irks me 'cause people drop these word bombs in pursuit of intelligent conversation, yet they can't be bothered to crack a book to verify their word choice. In retrospect, it's kinda like verbal litter.

To wit:

1) Irregardless. Nitwits out there have decided that tacking "Ir-" to the front of "regardless" creates an even even fancier way of dismissing preceding ideas. A cocktail of "irrespective" and "regardless," which in turn makes me "irate."

2) Commentate. This bastardization of "comment" cements the notion that news magazine shows have captured the imaginations and the IQs of Americans. I'm certain that this is supposed to be the verb form of "commentator." And since that word is so prevalent in today's steady diet of not-really-news-so-lets-jazz-it-up-with-personal-opinions news coverage, people have gravitated toward this usage. [Editor's Note: OK, so I looked this up and it turns out there are no "nonstandard" notations in the definition...which makes it a real word. But I still don't understand why it would be used when "comment" means the same thing.]

3) Orientate. Again, we find ourselves using words that don't exist, thinking they are the roots of words quotidien tasks in which we are frequently mired. Let me break it down for you: in order to "orient" you to some new experience (college, company, health insurance, etc.), I will conduct an "orientation." At no point will I "orientate" you, 'cause frankly, that's not a real thing. [Editor's Note: See Editor's Note for "commentate."]

4) Supposably. I just shake my head when I hear this one. So, I have to assume that the speaker in this case has a reading disability and really, truly thinks he reads "supposably" when he's really seeing "supposedly." 'Cause if our friend has either a speech impediment or an hearing impairment, I have to think he would've read it somewhere, seen how it was supposed to be pronounced, and steered clear of the word knowing he couldn't pronounce it.

5) Deshell. Nope, sorry. The word is "shell." "Shell" is a wonderfully economical word because it has about 12 different meanings, one of which means to REMOVE a shell. I mean, you wouldn't say that you were going to "depeel" an orange, would you? Other verbs in this vein are: "bone," "skin," and "bark."

6) Attitudinal. The connotation ('cause Lord knows we're not getting any denotation) is that someone who is "attitudinal" is exhibiting a bad, aggressive, flippant, etc., attitude. In context, "Don't get attitudinal with me because I'm pointing out your grammatical errors."

7) Pleonasms. Which is a fancy way of saying are some examples: empty space; bald headed; complete monopoly. There are loads of these floating about in the verbal ether.

That's all I've got for now. As language (gasp!) evolves, more of these inventions will crop up, I'm sure. Here's what's scary: people will cite these words' existence in the dictionary as validation to use them. Please, I'm beggin' you, when you flip through Webster's masterwork to prove me wrong, note the "NONSTANDARD" notation next to the entry. Know what this means? It's not a real word!

Phew. I can go now and massage that throbbing forehead vein back down to a more manageable size.

[Added October 31, 2005]

8) Innappropriate Possesive's.
You know what, Roy Rogers? You don't have a "Fixin's Bar." Not unless someone named "Fixin" works for you. What you have is a "Fixins Bar." By tossing in an apostrophe to demystify your slang for "Fixings," then you've committed the greater sin of deliberate error. I don't know why "Fixin's" is so much hipper than "Fixings." Seriously, do you think you're going to attract more folks fromt he 18-24-year-old demographic by swapping out a perfectly nice "g" with a perfectly unnecessary " ' "?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ice Cream TV

I'm having one of those moments where I think I could be standing on the precipice of understanding something about myself. Then I think maybe it doesn't really mean anything at all. What is "it" you might ask? It is the Parents Television Council's Top 10 Best and Worst Shows for Family Viewing on Prime Time Broadcast Television for the 2005-2006 Season. Phew, that's a mouthful.

When I heard the PTC had released such a list, I giggled 'cause I was certain that I would probably be a fan of what they consider to be the Top 10 Worst Shows, and that I would consider the whole of the Top 10 Best Shows list to be sappy pap. Then I looked up the lists; the ones I regularly watch are in green:

1. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition ABC/8:00 Sunday - Returning show (3 seasons)
2. Three Wishes NBC/9:00 Friday (1st season)
3. American Idol Fox/Returning in spring '06 (4 seasons)
4. The Ghost Whisperer CBS/8:00 Friday (1st Season)
5. Everybody Hates Chris UPN/8:00 Thursday (1st Season)
6. Reba WB/9:00 Friday - Returning show (5 seasons)
7. Bernie Mac Fox/8:00 Friday - Returning show (5 seasons)
8. Dancing with the Stars ABC/Returning in spring ‘06 (1 season)
9. 7th Heaven WB/8:00 Monday - Returning show (10 seasons)
10. Not available.
Collective season total: 31

1. The War at Home Fox/8:30 Sunday (1st Season)
2. The Family Guy Fox/9:00 Sunday - Returning show (4 seasons)
3. American Dad Fox/9:30 Sunday - Returning show (1 season)
4. The O.C. Fox/8:00 Thursday - Returning show (3 seasons)
5. C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation) CBS/9:00 Thursday - Returning show (6 seasons)
6. Desperate Housewives ABC/9:00 Sunday - Returning show (2 seasons)
7. Two and a Half Men CBS/9:00 Monday - Returning show (seasons)
8. That ‘70s Show Fox/Returning in November ‘05 (8 seasons)
9. Arrested Development Fox/8:00 Monday - Returning show (3 seasons)
10. Cold Case CBS/8:00 Sunday - Returning show (3 seasons)
Collective season total: 33

Color me surprised. Here I thought I was a rebellious, trash TV watcher. I was sure I was going be be a dedicated viewer of all the 'Worst' shows. Let's not even discuss whether or not the shows have won Emmys. We're not talkin' about what the critics have to say -- we're just taking a look at these shows through the PTC's "family frinedly" lens. But I don't even have the facility to make fun of either of these lists because I don't watch enough of the shows.

What I can sincerely mock, though, is the PTCs choice to list the "returning" or inaugural status of the show. My take is that they are trying to shame network execs into giving family-friendly shows a shot at longevity. But when I looked up the lists on, I found that they collectively had the same seasonal duration average (3 seasons).

Know what's really funny about this? The PTC sees fit to list only nine shows in its "Best" category. It says that they simply can't find a tenth family friendly show. Yet on their "Best and Worst Shows of the Week" site, I count six prime time shows that weren't included in the annual ranking (Wife Swap, Nanny 911, So You Think You Can Dance?, R U the Girl?, Meet Mr. Mom, and Brat Camp). Weird that all of these are reality shows. Anyway, back to my point: clearly there are a lot of shows that make their weekly grade. I can't help but wonder if they declined to include a 10th show because it would appear that the shows one both lists are, oh, I don't know, on equal footing with respect to how long the American public, via Nielsen ratings, keeps them on the air.

Here's a basic fact: Television producers are in it to make money. If it's not about the money, then it's on
PBS. To make money, the broadcast television companies charge for advertising during their programs. The more the American public want to watch a program, the more money the TV suits can charge advertisers for commercial air time. If the American public doesn't watch a program, ratings go down, the suits can't bank cash money for advertising, and so they pull it from the airwaves. 'Cause it's ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, which is determined by whether or not people WANT TO WATCH A SHOW.

So if there are only NINE programs on TV that are suitable for families, ipso facto, that's all the happy shiny family programming that the majority of the American people WANT to see. Maybe that's disappointing, but it's the truth.

Long story short: if the PTC wants more family friendly shows on television, then it needs to open up its resources to clever, talented writers who want to pen sitcoms, dramas, crime stories, etc., that fall under that umbrella. If it's good, people will watch it. The tack they've taken -- shaming executives into feeding the American people a steady diet of vegetable TV -- won't work. Americans have proven time and again that they want ice cream TV.

I'm not saying I want PAX 24/7. I'm just saying that the PTC is going after the wrong people

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Right. Right. Right. Right.

There's a dark new trend on the horizon in talk radio. It's the dawn of "right." Not the Right, as in Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, or Bill Bennett. I'm talking about the prodigious use of the word "right" as a semantic crutch. I'm lookin' at you Elliot, and Chad Dukes, and you, random evening-but-not-late-night dude on WJFK.

Let me 'splain...

On multiple occasions on all of these shows, someone will call in to share a story. At brief pauses during the caller's ramblings, the above-mentioned talk-show hosts will punctuate the lull with "Right." I think they're doing this to indicate that they are engaged in the caller's tale, but it just sounds like it confuses the listener. It definitely gives me pause (har har) because I'm a Gen Xer, and whenever someone of my skeptical era hears "Right" in a conversation, it makes the speaker sound sarcastic and disinterested.

I'm not saying that it isn't appropriate to sound saracastic and disinterested on occasion. If people were calling me to dissect the latest NASCAR race, I might sound bored outta my skull too. All I'm saying is that the radio hosts should change it up a little since every other host in the same demographic is overusing it.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Three Weeks Since My Last Post?!?

Looking around, it's a pretty common thing for bloggers to hem and haw about their lack of posting. I'm no exception. Hem haw, hem haw, hem haw.

Thing is, not much else has been going on in my life besides feeling my way through my new job. It's wonderful to feel challenged again. My greatest professional pleasure is applying some kind of order to swirling chaos. Okay, that's a little hyperbolic. It's not like I stepped into a tornado or anything. More like a tropical storm. Much as I enjoy it, I recognize that it's not terribly interesting to read about someone tapping out press releases or performing statistical research on web traffic.

Oooh, wait, here's something new: my thirty-year-old self seems to be falling apart. In the span of a week I've gotten an infected hangnail, a cracked tooth, a random twitchy muscle in my back, and some weird swelling in my right eyelid. The last one is especially concerning because I can't figure out what it is since it started yesterday afternoon. It's definitely not pinkeye, 'cause, well, my eye isn't pink and it isn't oozing any crusty goo. Have you ever worn fake eyelashes? And the fringy strip came loose and got stuck under your eyelid? That's what this feels like. Clearly, I've got ebola of the eyelid. I'm trying to get an appointment today so I can get some kind of prescription strength soother.

Phew. I thought this kind of stuff started happening during retirement, when I'd have time to run around to doctor's and pharamacies. Ah well. Maybe it's God's way of telling me to take it easy for a minute.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Yesterday, I happily attended a nerd convention. Sidebar: if you're a nerd, don't go feeling all marginalized. I refer to nerds lovingly; I am one, I'm married to one, and I've more than likely produced one given the number of Spider-Man t-shirts the Boy owns.

Anyway, Monday was essentially an industry insider epilogue to the weekend's civilian main event. A key part of the retailer festivities on Sunday night was a free screening of Joss Whedon's 'Serenity.' I was a wee jealous that the retailers had seen it already, but I'm going to see a preview on September 27th, so it was no biggie.

Or so I thought...

At lunch time, I thought I'd mingle with the good people who buy our products and get a feel for how well they know my company. Looking around, I find a half empty table where at least one other woman is sitting, ask if it's OK to join the group, and plunk down my plate. Clearly, the woman (and the man sitting next to her) are a couple who owns a comic book store together, and we exchange pleasantries. A mealy looking dude was sitting to my left, but he didn't really contribute much to the conversation. He just worked his way through his stack of brownies as the the comic book couple and I chatted about toys and the industry.

Then, a Penn Jillette knock-off sat down next to Mealy Man, and within two sentences, ruined the movie for me. I won't do the same to you, gentle readers, because this is just about the worst crime you can commit in the pop culture universe. Okay, the devil's advocate would argue that he assumed that everyone in the room had seen the bleedin' movie. But how can you not wrap your porky brain around the possibility that a hardcore fan might have had to do something else BESIDES see the movie? How do you not, out of simple courtesy, ask if everyone at the table has seen a movie before you complete this sentence: "I can't believe they...!"

So, good friends, if you ever, ever, ever find yourself in this situation, DO NOT even speak the people who have gotten to see a movie you're really looking forward to. As soon as you've heard that they know some plot twist or major dramatic moment, just get up and leave because they won't be able to control themselves.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Starting Fresh

Apologies to my tens of fans for the lapse in blogging; I started a new job on September 6th, and, well, it took me a week to get comfortable enough to snatch some office time to contribute to the Fifth Estate*.

For the past week I've been feeling like someone in the witness protection program. My routine is completely disassembled. Nobody knows me. I can't reveal myself -- my jokes, my faith, my history -- 'til I trust those around me with that information. Furtively, I peek around to see if its an opportune moment to check personal e-mail, or to cruise a website that's got zilch to do with my work for fear that people would learn more about me than I really want them to right now. Don't get me wrong -- I've got a titanium work ethic. Case in point: I had the ebola virus (or something equivalently virulent) last week, and I still came in to work because I thought it'd send a bad message to call out sick during my inaugural week.

I have no doubts that this job change will rock, and not just for the logistics of a shortened commute. The prime mover is my son, and being able to spend more time with him while he's smaller than me. Given that I'm about three apples high, I fully expect to exist in his shadow by the time he's ten.

A close second reason, though, is that my passions, shallow as they may be, are the life's blood of this company. Do you have any idea how amazing it is to work some place where your personal interests have professional value? I've never had that. I thought I did. I'd actually hoped I did, since the last place I worked was all kinds of noble in its endeavors. But I guess I need to embrace some facts about myself, like I'd rather read The Monitor in Entertainment Weekly than the crawl on CNN.

*I figure if journalists fancy their trade the 'Fourth Estate,' we humble common folk who self-publish our opinions can claim to be the Fifth Estate. Hey, anybody know what the First, Second, and Third Estates are?

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Not sure what I think about the device in this article. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? But it makes me wonder if the rape victims will now become murder victims once Rapex is deployed...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Litmus Test for Adulthood

Over the weekend I caught an ep of MTV's "Pimp My Ride." As I was watching the fellas at West Coast Customs work their mojo on a busted up Caddy, I had the following thoughts:

1) Big Ron won't have room for a spare tire, flares, or a tool kit in his trunk since its now home to two 15" flat panel monitors and a drum kit.
2) If Big Ron reports the upgrades to his insurance company, his premiums will fly sky-high.
3) There's no way Big Ron'll be able to afford to maintain/replace/fix anything on the Caddy.
4) WCC oughta install some kind of souped up anti-theft device like Lo-Jack 'cause Big Ron's ride is definitely a candidate for grand theft auto.
5) If he ever decides to sell the Caddy, it'll be a gigantic pain to strip out all the goodies.

When I saw Big Ron hooting for joy at the end of the episode, I shook my head a little at his innocence. Then I realized that not sharing in Big Ron's happiness planted me firmly on the side of adulthood, 'cause kids wouldn't have these thoughts. They'd just enjoy the ride.

Segway Nation

(image courtesy of

Segways have become a bit of a status symbol here in D.C. At least I have to assume it's a status symbol. I can't imagine any other way to explain why all those business dudes zipping along D.C.'s sidestreets, ties flapping happily in the wind, would look like they slept with hangers in their mouths. Personally, I've always thought the things looked goofy. Clearly I'm not the only one, or Segways wouldn't be a punchline on the 11-Emmys-nominated series Arrested Development.

In DuPont Circle this morning, there was a be-helmeted suit scooting by on a Segway. Wha-huh? Max, these things get up to 12.5 mph. Is this a velocity that requires a helmet? Or is it protection from ADD-drivers sharing the roadway? Officially, Segway promotes Segway safety, 'cause here's a sample pic of dome protection from their online buyer's guide:

What I really don't get about this one is that these two folks look kind of fit, and kind of casual. I'd thought that Segways were designed to help the busy commuting pedestrian get to the office lickety-split, or for rent-a-cops to bust disorderly mallrats in the blink of an eye. So what, pray tell, are healthy tourists doing on the things?


While I was poking around on Segway's website, I came across this. DC SegwayFest? An entire event dedicated to the celebration and reverence of the Segway? To quote the site, SegwayFest "offers in-depth workshops, educational seminars, "Ask the Experts" sessions, social gatherings, Segway HT skill competitions, special guest speakers, and more!"

Man, I would pay cash money to see the Segway HT skill competitions. Much like NASCAR fans, though, I think I'd mostly be going to see crashes.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Courtesy of "Best of Howard Stern"

So, this is a news flash from 1988, but did you know that Judy Tenuta and Emo Phillips were married for a little while? I wonder if they had kids...can you imagine what their merged gene pool would produce? The poor kid's voice would sound like a slip-slidey trombone punctuated by wet tuba blasts.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Happy New School Year

This morning, I happened upon a puddle of half-dried vomit in the stairwell of my parking garage.

The students are back. Huzzah.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mr. Tow, that's My Name; that Name Again is Mr. Tow!

If my new job doesn't work out, I know what I want to be: a Vigilante Tow Truck Operator. Stuttering in on 16th Street this morning, I noticed that there were no fewer than four cars sucking up space on the southbound side of the road. I BURNED to see them towed, and would have liked nothing better than to hold up a winch He-Man style and transform me and my Ford Focus into Vigilante Tow Truck Operator and her trusty steed, Tow Truck. Then I could deliver commuting justice to these parking miscreants.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Roadside Attractions

As my job inside the Beltway is waning, I am beginning to wax nostalgic about my commute. Not to the extent that I'm reconsidering my choice, but I do recognize there are certain roadside mysteries that have plucked at my imagination. Here are a few of them:

1) The Leaf Man
On the stretch of Route 50 that morphs into New York Avenue, under the Brentwood Parkway overpass, you will find the leaf man. Much like the U.S. Postal Service, he's there through rain, sleet, and snow. He's a grizzled black man who stands next to the guardrail and fans a frond at passing traffic. I don't know where he gets his switches, because the leaves don't match any of the wild weedy flora and fauna growing around the overpass. The National Arboretum is a hop, skip and a jump away, so he may actually scale the fences there to snatch exotic samples of horticulture. I appreciate the effort he makes, so whenever I zoom into the District via this artery, I give him a little wave.

2) Mateless Shoes
Most of us have heard comedic riffs on the old "lone shoe on the side of the road" scenario during "sophisticated" open mic nights, but I still wonder how they get there. But the sheer number of them on DC's streets begs thoughtful discourse on the topic. Are they suicidal spouses of socks that have gone missing in the laundry? Or are there that many people who either (a) dangle their feet out of car windows, or (b) pack loose shoes in the back of pick-up trucks? Another possibility is that these shoes have the fallen from power lines on drug dealing corners...

3) Bumpers
Okay, so I get that if you notice one of your hubcaps has made a break for it in rush hour traffic, you're not necessarily going to stop to retrieve it. Hubcaps are emininently, cheaply, replaceable. But a bumper? Cruising in on 16th Street last week, there was a big old hunk of fiberglass bumper neatly placed on the median. Wha-huh? Isn't it going to save you a bucket of ducats if you have the bumper when you go to the body shop? Maybe the driver decided that the bumper isn't salvagable, and couldn't be bothered to pick up after herself. But that means that some Good Samaritan saw the risk to other drivers' cars and moved the debris out of the road. If you're willing to go to that extreme, though, why not put the bumper on the side of the road where it's unlikely to drift back into the roadway?

I'll add more as I think of them...

Friday, August 19, 2005

Holy Toys, Batman!

Hee hee! I think I need the St. Jerome doll, 'cause he's a twofer -- he transforms into a lion when you flip him over.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Write Stuff (Good Grief, That's Cheesy)

So, it's one of my greatest fantasies to become a commercially published writer. I toss in the "commercial" qualifier 'cause I'm currently rockin' this blog, so I s'pose I can technically currently christen myself a writer. I dunno; since there's no remuneration for my efforts I hesitate to introduce myself as such. It's something I can almost taste, though...kinda like when you really, really want a beer. You can just feel the cool sting of the brew on your tongue, and your salivary glands kick into anticipatory action.

Man, that makes me sound like a lush.

Anyway, my writing has been (how to say this delicately?) ground to a halt by being a mother. It's tough to squeeze in the necessary think time between dinners, and bedtime routines, and sanitizing high chairs. Don't think you're reading bitterness between-the-lines or anything like that; parenting is what it is. Anyway, Hubby and I called the kid into being, so it's not like he's demanding anything I wasn't prepared to give. I have my fingers helixed, though, that the new job will allow me a little more writing time than I currently get (er, besides what I steal at work for these posts).

Right now, I cull inspiration from the success of my peers. A half dozen or so people I actually know have been published (sure, I've lost touch with some of 'em since college, but I think they'd know me if I ran into them on the street). Companies have actually handed over some ducats for the words these people spill on a page. So, I know it's not impossible. I just need to keep plugging away at the little romantic tale I'm spinning...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

'Cause I'm Movin' On Up, to...Elkridge?

I've decided to take the job my friend offered me, which means I am officially forsaking the cloacal commute to and from the ironically monikered (ironikered?) City of Trees. Now that I've informed all of my co-workers and am beginning the tedium of tying up loose ends, I'm really, really excited about this new job.

First off, it will be unassailably cool to work for a toy company, regardless of my job function. I could be schlepping water to the company dog's bowl, and it'd still be a breath of fresh air. As much as I love my co-workers and the mission of my current employer, the monotony of this job can make me feel like this sometimes.

Second, I'll get to travel. By nature I'm a homebody, but right now I'm digging the idea of spending a week(end) here and there in New York, Boston, San Diego, or maybe even (fingers crossed) London. The only downside is that the boy and Hubby won't get to be there with me, but I'd be working anyway.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, my new office will be 15 minutes away from where I live. Right now, I can't even comprehend how this will improve my outlook on life. On a typical day, I leave my house at 7:10 a.m., drop off the boy, and hit the road to go to work by 7:25 a.m. I get to the office anywhere between 8:25 and 9:00 a.m. (post Labor Day, I sometimes don't cross the threshold 'til 9:30 a.m. courtesy of the school year kick-off). Going home, I shut down my computer at 5:30 p.m., and am home-again home-again jiggity-jog around 6:45 p.m. On a good day, that's 2 hours on the road. On a realistic day, it's more like 2.5.

This means that I stand to reclaim 10 HOURS PER WEEK. That's like a whole 'nother day! I could, oh, I don't know, play with the boy, or run an errand, or clean a bathroom without feeling like it's cutting into whatever teeny bits of me-time I have on any given week day. Best of all, I won't be freakin' exhausted when I'm home. Right now, "playing" with the boy entails "pretending" to be asleep so that he can dash over and wake me up. I'm convinced his early mommy memories will consist entirely of me laying on the floor as though I've just stroked out.

Despite the reasons listed above, this was actually a really tough decision to make 'cause there is a degree of risk involved. When I left my old job, my first job out of college, I ran screaming from it Edvard Munch-style. They'd given me nutty amounts of work to do, and occasionally weren't able to pay me for my efforts. Well, and the dude running the company made David Brent look like Mother Teresa.

Suffice it to say I couldn't possibly regret leaving them 'cause they had zilch to offer me. But my current employer does -- security, guaranteed increases, appreciative co-workers, educational opportunities. So I'm gonna feel like a right fool if the new job is not all it's currently cracked up to be. Ah, but my friend wouldn't have sucked me into Dilbert-esque bedlam, right? Right?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

They were born in 1987? When I Was Making Goo-Goo Eyes at Tom Appler During George "No, Really, I'm Straight" Michael's 'Father Figure'?

Each year, Beloit College in Wisconsin publishes what it calls a "Mindset List" to help faculty and staff better understand the outlook of the incoming class of first-year students. This year's list is a little weak, I think; the only one that really gave me chills was #13. I don't know if the 2002 Mindset List was the first year that Beloit culled factoids about its matriculates, but it was the first time that I looked at a collection of generational identifiers and felt the impact of not relating. This, I know, will repeat itself ad infinitum during my lifetime, but it still feels weird to be the "older" generation. But I have to make my peace with that, 'cause the alternative would be hanging out in the Limited Too, going to all ages shows, and just generally being creepy in a vain attempt to keep in touch with the Millenials.

Monday, August 08, 2005

14th, 15th, Ronald Reagan Boulevard, 17th, 18th...

I saw a mention of this Washington Post article on The Red Line (via DCist) today. And I fell out of my chair. No, really. My chair's defective so I occasionally pitch out of it. But I think some Higher Power was trying to tell me something by knocking the renegade bolt loose while I was reading.

It's pretty clear that citizens of this fair city, including its many politicos, are giggling at this sycophantic proposal by Representative Henry Bonilla (R-TX). I mean, the dead prez has an AIRPORT named after him already. Sure, everyone 'round these parts still refers to it as "National Airport," and not "Ronald Reagan National Airport," but I don't think that taking over 16th Street is going to assuage any posthumous inferiority complexes.

Honestly, what's the point of confusing future generations of Americans by renaming a numerical street? I can barely navigate L'Enfant's masterwork as it is. I don't need another reason to lose my bearings. Those "UNIT" designations on DC's streets are enough; this would put me over the top.

Red Asphalt

(image courtesy of

This is the image that gilds half the buses that share my route into work, which means that I'm staring at Were-Bear here for about an hour as I slouch along Route 29, 16th Street, and P Street. (Shout out to the Z29, D2, and G2.) The text is different on DC Metro buses; instead of the "Aggressive Driving..." tagline, DC chooses to inform its citizens that "Speeding (Tailgating, etc.) Costs AND Kills!"

If anyone from Metro or Smooth Operator is reading this blog, this ad does not instill a desire to drive safely. If anything, it feeds my ursine road rage.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


About eleventy-seven million people have already dissected the silliness of vanity plates, so I'm not going to analyze why people would choose to pay the Man an extra $25 annually to maintain an inscrutable acronym/phrase/word on their cars. But a few of these little mysteries have caught my eye lately on the mean streets of DC, and by blogging about them instead of trying to figure out the licensees' message on my own, I think I'll prevent an aneurysm.

1.) "IHOPE4U"
Thus spake an ancient Chevy Citation with puttied fenders and half a back bumper. Whilst I appreciate the hope the driver of this jalopy has for me, I think maybe he oughta use up all of his hope for his own situation. It could be that he's trying to karmically engender hope for his pre-Pimped mode of transportation.

Now, this could have been an ironic statement. Methuselah was hunkered down over the wheel (which, by the way, proportionally looked like a hula hoop in his claws). So I'm dying to "Speedoh" a nickname for his penchant for putting the pedal to the medal? My guess would be no, since he was cruising along at 45 MPH on an interstate. Maybe it's not a velocity issue; maybe he prefers the teeny mankini bottoms favored by Becks? Yick, I Hope4Me that's not the case. No one should wear Speedos outside of an Olympic swimming pool. There's an outside shot that the driver's name is Spee Doh, but even I can't fathom that's true.

3.) "DUCHES"
I wanted to give this person the benefit of that doubt and entertain the possibility that her last name was "Duches." But a search in Yahoo!People reveals that there's not a soul in the Metro DC area with that first or last name. This dearth of "Duches" leads me to believe that this vanity plate is a bastardization of "Duchess." It's beyond me why someone is sooooooo attached to a word or nickname that she's willing to misspell it in metal just to own it. But I guess a huge chunk of society doesn't care about orthography and goes with phonetics instead. And I'd be willing to make an exception for this ML350, except riding just above the vanity plate was a University of Pennsylvania alumni sticker. Come on, Duches -- you're Ivy League! I expect more from you -- either proper spelling OR a clever vanity plate. "Duches" is neither, so I must conclude that you're just being lazy.

That's it for now; I'll let you know if I see any equally inane/perplexing tags. Maybe you have a few you'd like to share?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Mr. Nice Guy

So, I went to this party at my best friend's house a little while ago, and there were loads of singletons milling about. Since my friend is currently unattached, she wanted to make sure there were lots of flirting options available. The only reason I, a married chick, scored an invite is that (a) I'm off the market and am therefore not viewed as competition, and (b) I've known the host since it was cool to french-roll your jeans.

Anyway, the problem with inviting loads of singletons is that singletons bring uninvited company. If you don't bring your own posse, you run the risk of becoming the shrinking violet in the corner nursing a Solo cup. So you surround yourself with people so that it looks like you aren't lonely and therefore don't need the company of the sundry other singles at the party. This is how Mr. Nice Guy was mixed in among the partygoers. He overheard my friend inviting co-workers to the party, and when he decided that the invitation included him, the co-workers didn't disabuse him of that notion, 'cause hey, the more the merrier, eh?

The reason I'm calling the gatecrasher Mr. Nice Guy is not because he fetched drinks or let people cut in front of him in the bathroom line. I call him this because he punctuated every verbal exchange with "Niiiiice." There he was, in his 10-year-old lacrosse cap and urban utility belt, blocking the door to the kitchen and the keg. My friend, who was leading the way, sighed, and suddenly I felt like one of the Billy Goats Gruff.

"This is my friend Mary. She works in marketing, and her husband is getting a graduate degree," said my friend, edging past him and into the kitchen, leaving me and little Bro behind.

"Nice," said Nice Guy, and nodded.

"Yeaaah," I said. Sure, it was nice that my husband was seeking higher education, but there's no way to advance conversation when someone reacts to a declarative statement with an adjective. I opted for my friend's tactic of making Nice Guy someone else's problem. and introduced little Bro.

"This is Chris; he's my younger brother," I said, and stepped past Nice Guy.

"Nice," said Nice Guy, and nodded.

What? That doesn't even make sense. Why is it nice that he's my brother? Was this guy even listening to what he said? I know we all have our semantic crutches, but the lesson learned here is that you've gotta evaluate what's coming out of your mouth every once in awhile and determine if maybe you need to change it up a little.

Good Problems

A friend of mine called me on Tuesday to recruit me for a soon-to-be-open position at his company. He's one of the few people that I respected during my tenure as a middle manager for a shoddily-run college marketing company that, in my opinion, was headed up by a dude with a severe Napoleon complex. I mean, this is the gig that made me think Dilbert is funny. That's something that I don't think I can forgive easily. But I don't want to add to the billion or so hours that I've spent kvetching about that five-year span in my professional life, so I'll move on to the topic at hand.

I like my current job; I don't love it. I'm not one of those people whose eyes fly open in the morning, eagerly anticipating the rigors of their day at the office. I've never actually met one of those folks, so I'm beginning to think they are urban legends. So, I wasn't really looking for anything new, though I've pretty much decided that I couldn't make a long-term career out of my current stint. This lightening bolt of a call, though has forced me to take stock of my situation and sift out the stuff that I'm wanting to change in my professional life.

I drew up a Pro & Con list, but the thing ended up looking like a diseased Venn diagram. Everything that would be good about leaving would also be bad about leaving -- I'm a little bored with my position, but that also means that I can check in and check out predictably. I get frustrated with the lack of accountability when somebody screws something up, but I like the atmosphere of education, which translates to a "learning from your mistakes" philosophy. The new job would offer me the opportunity to travel, but it might be more travel than I want. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Do you want to know what silly, logistical thing it boils down to? The job I'm being offered is about twenty minutes away from my home, so I'd get to see the boy and my husband for about twice as much time a day as I normally do. And it would be better time, because I wouldn't be freakin' exhausted from my hour-and-fifteen-minute one-way commute. So, despite the fact that there'd be a bit of a pay cut, and that it's not really on any particular career trajectory, I'm really, really thinking about taking him up on it.

I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mountains Outta Molehills

NoVa once again proves that its abbreviation is apt.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tired = Jet Lag + 30 + Organic Coffee

Oof. This past week's been rough. We flew back from the left coast last Tuesday, and I'm still feeling the effects of the time zone shift. At least I choose to believe it's jet lag, and not just that I am OLD now.

(I turned I turned thirty on July 16th. My milestone necessitates changing my Blogger profile, but before I can, I need to figure out how to change it. Since I am OLD like my parents, I am physically incapable of comprehending new technology, which will make this a more difficult undertaking than it should be.)

Okay, so thirty's not OLD. I know lots of folks who are still moving and shaking, and they're way older than me. They're like, thirty-and-a-half.

Anyway, this post wasn't supposed to be a riff on my dotage. This post is about the suckage of organic coffee, and how I think it is partly to blame for my fatigued disorientation over the past week.

We opted against a grocery run before vacation so we could avoid a host of expired foodstuffs upon our return. This had an unfortunate Old Mother Hubbard side-effect, and for complicated reasons relating to commuting convenience and daycare inconvenience, I ended up jaunting to the organic grocery store close to where I work instead of our cheapo local market.

It was a wonderland of obscure brands. There were only, I think, three trademarks of coffee, two of which cost ten bucks a bag. At that price, I figured gold must be mixed in with them thar beans. Since I don't like gold in my coffee (just in my liquor), I opted for the five-dollar brand. Now, I readily admit that I'm a coffee snob when I pick up a jolt at a café, but any Folger's-level flavor will do for my quotidien morning brew. I mean, I'm half asleep when I'm drinking it, so it's more for the caffeine ritual than the flavor. Or so I thought...

I figured paying two dollars more than I normally do meant I was in for a little bit of a treat. I mean, Starbucks costs seven dollars a bag, so this organic stuff had to be somewhere between the best part of wakin' up and the most successful chain of coffeehouses in the country, right?

Can I say YUCK? It tastes like velvet dirt. I mean, I had this perception that organic food is all healthy and pure, and that those qualities translate into ambrosia. Man alive, was I wrong. Here's where my mix of standards kicks my ass, though: my frugal self will NOT allow me to pitch the offending grinds. I will drink this swill 'til I've nothing but an empty cannister for my bacon grease. Maybe my bourgeois taste buds aren't accustomed to the finery that is organic coffee, but I think I can safely say that I'll be jumping back to my Fair Trade cheap stuff once the last all natural ground is percolated.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Church Reloaded

Who wouldn't want to be a priest after seeing a poster like this? I mean, if you get Neo-like powers upon ordination, doncha think you'd feel called?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Comic-Kaze Vacation

It's been a week since my last post 'cause I'm currently soaking up the vibe in sunny San Diego, California. Okay, that was a lie. I'm not really taking in the real flavor of this metropolis because I've spent a chunk of time ensconced in our hotel room with the boy. His nap schedule's all wonky since we are enjoying a different time zone out here on the left coast. This means we can't really have him out and about all day because the ensuing histrionics would ensure that none of us -- the boy, me, or my babydaddy -- could have fun. So, when we're not out together, one of us takes a shift in the room with the boy while the other takes in a local attraction.

Notice I wrote a local attraction. What might that wondrous spectacle be? The San Diego Zoo, with which we all became familiar during the opening credits of the Priscilla Barnes years of Three's Company? Nope. Sea World, home to famed fish Shamu? Strike two. We are here to partake in the nerdly raptures offered by the world-famous San Diego Comic-Con.

Don't tell me you've not heard of the Con? How could that be? It is both Mecca and Medina to the throngs of comic book fans populating this globe of ours. Alright, I know that I'm putting forth a decidedly snarky tone. But seriously, once you've yoked yourself with the ID badge emblazoned with the Con's logo, you have to mock it...or become a part of it.

See, the raw enthusiasm and creative energy around the joint is intoxicating. Seriously, surround yourself with enough Marvel supplicants and you really, really think that you NEED all seven versions of that new Spider-Man t-shirt. And that hovering over seventy-two long boxes of comic books might result in the discovery of a treasure on par with King Tut's tomb (maybe, just maybe, you'll unearth a mint copy of Action Comics #1, and the dealer won't have a clue about it's value!). And that Bruce Campbell, Joss Whedon, Matt Groening, and innumerable other Con demigods are going to be your pals after you attend one of their panel discussions.

Is all of the hair on your body standing upright? Are chills shuttle sprinting up and down your back? Are you melting with jealousy that I'm here and you are not?

You can probably hear the desperation in my jeering. If I don't do something drastic, I'll soon be slipping, tumbling, falling into a canyon of geekdom without a grappling hook I can use to claw my way back out.

Damn. It's too late. I'm there, and I like it. See you on the dark side; I'm going to hang out with the 300-pound Storm Trooper.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Underground Terror

I started a post on Wednesday night about how I'd heard the nascent convict Lil' Kim's new single, "Shut Up!" on 93.9 WKYS' "New Joint of the Day." "New Joint" is one of those love-it-or-shove it call-in sessions for listeners, which is really just a way for music suits to determine the potential success of a single in the marketplace. Anyway, my post was gonna be all about how I envision a radio landscape where hip hop radio edits will essentially be a beat from a Moog machine interspersed with the artists occasional "uhs" and "yeahs" 'cause the lyrics will have been wiped offa the airwaves. I don't know that there's more than two verses in "Shut Up!" that are free of George Carlin's seven dirty words. Take a listen for yourselves, the song is available for a listen on the Lil' Kim's fansite.

So that was what I was going to write about.

Then my husband woke me up on Thursday morning to tell me that London's Underground and a mass transit bus had been bombed.

All of the feelings from 9/11, the Bali bombings, the Madrid bombings, came slamming back. There was no relief that it wasn't my country, my city, my subway. I was just sick, because they are my people. Just like I would on any given Thursday morning, they were people who were just trying to go to work, put in their eight hours, and come home. They weren't soldiers, or politicians. They were shopkeepers, accountants, bus drivers, secretaries. They were innocents.

The people who organized the bombings might say they aren't innocent, that they voted the people into power who make the decisions to go to war and drop bombs on middle eastern villages. They might say they are retaliating for the innocent lives lost in their countries. And the blame will be passed back and forth and back again like a hot coal. It's like the conflict between Israel and Palestine -- if you try to figure out who did harm to whom first, you are lead back three millenia.

That way lies madness.

It's just sad, and painful, and tragic and it will only result in more violence. I wish I had something to say that would pierce the sadness. But what is there to say, honestly, that provides hope? That maybe in one, five, twenty, a thousand years peace will flow?

Well, I actually do have one nugget of hope. One of my co-workers had a vacation planned to London. Her plane takes off today. And she still decided to go.

Little Miss Muffet Traps that @#%! Spider!

Last night I meandered down to the basement to surf the web for a few minutes. The phone rang, so I turned from the computer screen and found myself face to face with a reject from Starship Troopers.

Apparently, a fishing spider came to visit us. No surprise that he ventured inland for a bite to eat; the nearest waterway is essentially a wooded trickle that runs past our backyard, so the fishing must be terrible there. Still, you don't expect to see a spider with a legspan of three inches nuzzling your Berber.

Did I shriek like a little girl, though? Nope. Mature woman that I am, I found a bucket and trapped Webby within. Then I went upstairs and calmly told my husband that I'd found a spider in the basement, and that I needed him to escort the critter outside. That was the only option of getting rid of it 'cause smashing it woulda stained my fresh new carpet. Well, that or Webby would've caught whatever blunt object was being hurled at him and used it to pick his teeth.

So, Hubby vs. Webby began. It wasn't a long and drawn out affair, as Webby had apparently expired under the dome of the bucket. But still, I count that as a win in Hubby's column. Now, if we could just do something about the squirrel that digs in our flower boxes on the deck...