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.