Sunday, September 30, 2007

I'm Such a Tease

Did you like the way I ended my last post with the "more on that to come" tease? No? Didn't notice it? Oh well.

Well, here are the other immensely practical things I learned:

1) When a two-digit highway ends in an even number, it runs east-west. When it ends in an odd number, it runs north-south.

2) If a three-digit highway starts with an even number, that means that it will reconnect with the highway represented by the last two digits. That makes no sense, I know. Let's use a concrete example: the DC Beltway. It's 495, which means that it connects with I-95. Same thing with 695 in Baltimore, and 495 in Philly. Cool, eh?

3) Conversely, if a three-digit highway starts with an odd number, it means it ain't never joining forces with the highway represented by the last two digits. Think 195 (toward BWI airport) or 395 headin' into Virginia. These offshoots are called spurs.

4) If the exit number atop the exit sign on a highway is positioned to the right, then the exit will be on the right. If it's on the left, the the exit will be on the left. I haven't figured out what it means when they are in the middle.

There's nothing mind-expanding in this here post, Gentle Reader, but I likes to pass the helpful tidbits along.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Most Practical Thing You Will Learn Today

Not only that, but you'll never forget what I'm about to tell you. This is a bold claim, but bear with me. Look at this:

So what, right? It's a picture of a gas gauge. Well, ya see that little picture of a gas pump? And you see that little arrow on the right hand side? That means the car's gas tank is on the right hand side. Isn't that phenomenally useful? When travelling and renting cars, or borrowing cars, or driving a new car, you no longer need to run the risk of parking on the wrong side of the gas pump or craning your neck to see if the gas tank is on the driver's side or the passenger's side. Just look for the little arrow.

And that's merely one thing that I learned on my recent business trip to Tennessee. More on that to come...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A Baker's Dozen

I have found that the average length of time that someone will wait to ask you if you are going to have more children is about six seconds after one has exited your womb. My philosophy? I'll take it as it comes. Very Catholic of me, eh? What I mean by that is that my notions and preferences about a goodly number of things have changed in the past five, ten, fifteen years. Do I listen to Depeche Mode daily? Nah. Do I tweeze my prodigious eyebrows? Yes sir!

The upshot is that I'm not going to make any permanent, long-term decisions about stuff like this. I mean, I didn't choose painkiller options until I was actually going through labor because I knew enough to know that I wouldn't be able to forecast my needs until I was actually suffering through the experience.

That was a marathon of a run-on sentence. Sorry. I've only had a half a cup of coffee today.

So, the next time someone asks me how many children I'm going to have, I will say that I am going for an infinite number of children. Because now, the technology is here. BEHOLD: Zeno, the artificial boy. Now, he's Texan, and you know how I feel about Texas. But I think I can work with the raw material.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Equally Impressive and Horrifying

The Boy needed some extra cuddling during daycare drop-off this morning, so I obliged and sat on the couch with him strewn across my midsection. Rarely do I get this kind of extended embrace from him, and I guzzled the deliciousness of it. Until he said this:

"Mommy, I have a piece of ear."

"What?" said I, unable to fathom what he meant.

The Boy pulled back from our hug and handed me a nugget of earwax. It was about the size of broken #2 pencil point. Not huge in general terms, but certainly huge in terms of things a three-year-old extracts from his ear. And a veritable juggernaut in the realm of things I really, really don't want to handle sans protective gloves.

As soon as he'd passed off the earwax, he laid himself back down upon me, pinning me to the couch and rendering me unable to divest myself of this chunk of bodily by-product. What's a mother to do? Well, I opted to stay put until his breakfast was served and he happily skipped away from me toward the waiting plate of chopped plum and cereal bar. At that point I discreetly disposed of the gunk, shivered, washed my hands, and zoomed off into the morning mist to begin my commute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Teaching Netiquette

One of my nephews, whom I'll call Spikey, just got his first e-mail account. This kid is fabulously intelligent and sarcastic, so of course I think of him as a younger male version of myself. You know, before I learned to control my cutting remarks.

Anyway, I've got a soft spot for him and want to guide him on a few things to make life easier for him (well, if he's receptive to it). Like, "If you answer EVERYTHING sarcastically, it will likely hurt your chances at friendship." And, "It's physically impossible for Grandmom to understand sarcasm, so you'll want to keep it to a minimum around her." And also, "You've only got to endure four more years of gym class every day."

All of this means it's really tough for me to resist the compulsion to explain that forwards do not e-communication make. I take that back. They constitute e-communication if you are my parents or one of my new-agey college friends. This morning he sent me a link to a YouTube video featuring a Daft Punk song and hand dancing. It'd take up a lot of real estate to explain it, and I'm not going to post it here, because I don't want to do that to you.

I wrote back to him and did not include any pictures, links to other videos, or jokes. Just a note. Maybe he'll catch on. But I doubt it. Watch, he'll send me that video of a monkey smelling his finger and falling off a tree...

Written from an Airplane on September 11, 2007

It’s 11:15 p.m. EST on September 11, 2007, and I have spent this sixth anniversary of the terrorist attacks criss-crossing the country in airplanes. Who says I don’t have a sense of adventure?

There was a school district in the northwestern part of Mississippi that needed training on the proper use of an online analytical database that my company has developed. I’m one of a precious few people willing and able to lead these trainings, so off I went. But I’m still lactating (sorry, for the squeamish among you), and would prefer not to be away from home for an overnighter. Consequently, I booked myself on this wacky round trip. I left my home at 4:00 a.m. to catch an outbound 6:00 a.m. flight. Nearly eighteen hours later, I’m still traveling. It’ll be about two and a half more hours ‘til I’m snuggled up in my bed at home. Christ, will that feel delicious.

Travel is invigorating. Well, right about now the vigor is starting to wear off, but that’s what my Starbucks venti Yukon Gold is for. Anyway, seeing new things, driving on new roads, trying on different lifestyles in the shape of rental cars and local eateries – it all gives my system a charge.

Here's a sampling:

I saw a cotton field today for the first time. Before my stint on Route 61 North, I’d only seen them in Gone With the Wind (and the only-slightly-less-well-known Places in the Heart). Anyway, antebellum romances are probably not the best representation of a textile crop that sustained and rent* a nation all at the same time.

I saw Dallas, Texas from the heavens, and it was a beautiful thing. Normally, all things Texan are somewhat off-putting. A shrinking violet like me is wary of bombast, and Texas is paradigmatic of bombast, right? But from up above, it was silent. And FLAT. The only thing that limited what I could see was my own gimpy pair of old lady eyes. In my native Maryland, the trees and hills and skyscrapers and dense population obscure anything that’s more than a few blocks away.

I experienced a Jackson, Mississippi traffic jam. It’s what we in the ‘burbs of DC call a yellow light.

There was more, but that's all I've got right now. MCV is sleepy, and while my synapses are firing off insights about the irony of my spending September 11th in four different states and airports, my fingers won’t cooperate anymore. Meh. Humankind’s loss.

*'rent' as in 'torn asunder,' not 'rent' as in 'a five-story walk-up in Brooklyn.'

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Britney at the 2007 MTV VMAs

So, I just watched Britney Spears on the VMAs. Her new tune, "Gimme More," is your standard dance club fare. I just felt this weird wave of empathy for her. She was trussed up in a rhinestone studded bikini, stiletto boots, and kept thumbing her fake hair outta her line of sight. Which, come to think of it, might also have been obscured by her Fremen blue contacts.

Anyway, she looked nervous and unsure of her steps, like those heels she was tottering around on were going to splinter underneath of her. I know it's trite to say she looks like she needs a hug, but well, that's the mother in me. Sometime tomorrow she's going to say something that will make me groan and realize that she feels no sense of ownership or accountability for any bad decisions that she's made. But 'til then, I'll just keep it at empathy.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

This Is My Worst Performance on Any Test EVER, and that Includes Pre-Calculus

You'll have to click here for the full results, but lemme list the Star Wars characters with whom I apparently most closely identify:

Openness: Astro Mech Droid (47%)
Conscientious: Grand Moff Tarkin (58%)
Extraversion: Wampa (18%)
Agreeableness: Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker (57%)
Neuroticism: Princess Leia (7%)

The higher the score, the more you exhibit the trait. For example, I only scored 7% on neuroticism, meaning that I'm not very neurotic. That's where the favorable analysis ends.

To wit: I'm apparently Wampa-shy. You know...I just hang out in my cave until a tasty meal comes along, and then I slash at it and hang it upside down in my lair. And then I end up with my entrails serving as an organic heating blanket. Something seems wrong there...

The classification I'm most displeased with is Grand Moff Tarkin. Not because I thought I was all kinds of Type A when it came to organization, but because Grand Moff Tarkin was just the worst-selling Star Wars action figure on the shelves. Super Ninja and I would peruse the toy aisles for gifts for our nephews, and there were ALWAYS at least five GMT's for every one Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker. This tells me if there were an action figure version of Yours Truly, it'd just be hanging out on the peg, surround by clones of itself.

Sounds like a good time, eh?

I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

So, you can't really see it very well, but that's an American flag flame magnetic decal on the fender. That's a picture of a car that wove around me on the inner loop of 695. There was another decal just like it on the other side, and two on the trunk. Further patriotic imagery was to be found on the back windshield in the form of a stars & stripes see-through decal. The irony? The flags were splattered all over a Volvo.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

When Oldest Bro moved back home, he brought a yellow Labrador with him. That fella was named Toby, and he was big, and lovable, and a little dumb. Anyway, he gave up the ghost this past spring after making it to the ripe old age of fourteen, which is like Methuselah age for a Lab. And even though this was my Oldest Bro's dog, my Mom kinda fell in love with having a dog in the house. Which is how my parents came to be the proud parents of a chocolate Labrador for about three days.

The reason for the short span of ownership? She's a sweetie, but too much for my parents to handle. She zipped over the fence and ran away about five times over the course of those three days. So, they ended up giving her back to the breeder. I feel kinda bad for my Mom, because her brother recently passed away, and I think that she was looking for a little four-legged comfort.

Honestly, I'd love for them to get a smaller dog, because I want my kids to be exposed to pets so that they aren't afraid of them. But man, I don't want to walk them. A dog, I mean. I love walking my kids. Walking with them. They aren't on leashes. Well, the boy was almost leashed once upon a time, but he doesn't attempt to run into the street anymore. Bully for me, eh?

The funny side of all of this? The dog's name was the same as Super Ninja's sister, which was REALLY going to confuse the kids. Not only that, but I'm sure that little fact would've given Super Ninja a migraine. My name, Super Ninja's sister, and of course "Mommy" all start with "M," and Super Ninja already can't call us by the right moniker. A double dose of his sister's name would break the camel's back, or brain, as it were, and he would never call any of us by the right name again.

Another Chapter in "What to Expect When You're in Your Thirties"

"You will find yourself identifying more with the ant than with the grasshopper."

Some folks spent their Labor Day weekend carousing on the beach, some picnicked, some caught their last poolside rays. Me? I extirpated outsized clothing from the Boy's and the Girl's closet, yanked items that Super Ninja and I no longer wear, rearranged our linen closet, and generally went on an organizational frenzy. And I LOVED it.