In the words of the Counting Crows:
And it's been a long December and there's reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last
Here's wishing you and yours a better year ahead!
31 December 2007
30 December 2007
We went to The Palm restaurant last night. I'd been hearing about this restaurant for years so with great expectations we went. We had a few surprises.
Ambiance: Despite the valet parking and the high prices on the menu, this was a very casual place. The waiters were in butcher aprons, the walls were covered with caricatures, the customers were often in jeans. It was a comfortable enough room but didn't match the hype. 19/30.
Service: The waiter was helpful and informed. The food and drinks came out promptly. We could have done without the five minute explanation on the history of the restaurant. 25/30.
Food: This is a steakhouse, first and foremost, and we didn't eat steak. So take that into consideration. That said, we did have the seafood (clams, mahi-mahi, ahi tuna, and swordfish) and they all tasted good. Nothing extraordinary in the presentation or the preparation but good solid stuff. The sides were a la carte but large enough to share--we went for the whipped potatoes and the wild mushrooms. Very rich but tasty. And the bread basket which the waiter offered and brought was a nice mix of breads, though they'd have been better served warm. Although the waiter said that the restaurant had started out as an Italian restaurant and still had Italian influence on the menu, we saw little of that.
I'd generally be inclined to give a decent rating on the food, given the last paragraph, but hubby and I were both running to the bathroom for half the night. Maybe the mushrooms were a little too wild?? 10/30.
Vegetarian: Very limited options. This is not a place for vegetarians. 5/30.
Cost: Expensive. By the time we were done with tip, we would have racked up a $200 tab for two cocktails, two appetizers, two entrees, two sides and two glasses of wine--if we hadn't had a gift certificate to apply. All that money for food that lacked originality 10/30.
Bonus: It is nice that they offer valet service as parking in that area can be daunting. +2.
21 December 2007
There's a lot of "Palms" in my life right now but unfortunately not a lot of palm trees.
My beloved Palm Pilot, a facsimile pictured here, (a Zire 71, if you're techified) finally could no longer sync up correctly with my new laptop after four years of faithful service. It was hard dealing with the reality. I tried to fix it. I tried to help it limp along. I consulted experts. I downloaded patch programs. But, alas, reviving it to it's youthful vigor was not to be.
I have to admit I was getting a little panicky. At first, I thought, lots of people get by without a planner, I can, too. But the withdrawal got worse and worse and I was fearful of losing track of so much that I thought I needed to keep track of. Sigh. I guess Buddhists would have a problem with this level of attachment. But, hey, I'm working here. I need to keep track of appointments and when tasks were completed and ...well, you know. I have... needs.
So I trucked on down to the Sprint store last night and eyeballed the options and pushed buttons and, in the end, I chose another Palm. A Centro. It's a smart phone/device. In red, because I am in my red phase. (Oh, yes, it's true.) It and I are getting acquainted and it has WAY more capacity and capability than my old model. So much so that it's a bit overwhelming. I am working my way through the various kewl bits. I am beginning to think it has WAY more capacity and capability than me!
And, to keep with the Palm theme, it so happens that we have an opportunity to check out The Palm restaurant next week. So, stay tuned. I'll try to manage a review and maybe even a photo (on my new Palm) if I can manage it without displaying my true tacky nature.
Happy holidays! Wishing you all that's good right in the palm of your hand!
17 December 2007
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer-songwriter , famed for the soaring vocals and elegant instrumentation of tunes such as "Longer" and "A Love Like This," died on Sunday, three years after being diagnosed with advanced . He was 56.In tribute to Dan Fogelberg, I am providing the lyrics to one of his more evocative songs that is always played at this time of year. It's always one that grabs me when it comes to the last verse and he slows down on the "Just for a moment I was back at school... and felt that old familiar pain..."
Thanks, Dan, for all the heartfelt music.
Dan Fogelberg - Same Old Lang Syne
Met my old lover in the grocery store The snow was falling Christmas Eve I stole behind her in the frozen foods And I touched her on the sleeve She didn't recognize the face at first But then her eyes flew open wide She went to hug me and she spilled her purse And we laughed until we cried. We took her groceries to the checkout stand The food was totalled up and bagged We stood there lost in our embarrassment As the conversation dragged. We went to have ourselves a drink or two But couldn't find an open bar We bought a six-pack at the liquor store And we drank it in her car. We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to now And tried to reach beyond the emptiness But neither one knew how. She said she'd married her an architect Who kept her warm and safe and dry She would have liked to say she loved the man But she didn't like to lie. I said the years had been a friend to her And that her eyes were still as blue But in those eyes I wasn't sure if I saw Doubt or gratitude. She said she saw me in the record stores And that I must be doing well I said the audience was heavenly But the traveling was hell. We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to now And tried to reach beyond the emptiness But neither one knew how. We drank a toast to innocence We drank a toast to time Reliving in our eloquence Another 'auld lang syne'... The beer was empty and our tongues were tired And running out of things to say She gave a kiss to me as I got out And I watched her drive away. Just for a moment I was back at school And felt that old familiar pain And as I turned to make my way back home The snow turned into rain
15 December 2007
Here's the thing--I'm put off by mandatory tipping. When service is good and tipping isn't assumed, I'm happy to tip and tip well. I often tip more than 20% for good meals when I get good service. But when there's an assumed tip, an implied tip, if you will, that just doesn't sit right with me. Tipping is supposed to be optional. And yet it's not. Not really. Think about it. It's not optional at all.
So, this week I took myself out for a manicure and pedicure. I do this maybe once or twice a year. This time I went near work and squeezed it in over lunch. I should say that I am the daughter of a professional manicurist (she retired after ~35 years) so my standards are reasonably high and I have a sense of when something is done right or wrong in this arena.
This was not a great experience. The tools weren't sterilized properly. They used tissue to separate my toes instead of the usual separators (not a hygiene issue but odd.) The workers chatted a LOT with each other in Vietnamese to the point where I wondered if I was perhaps in their way. The manicurist insisted on cutting my cuticles when I told her not to and she had the nerve to tell me she knew I didn't want her to but she felt it was better. She left me in between the pedicure and the manicure to spend five minutes waxing someone else's eyebrows without checking to see if I had time for this interlude.
I could go on. The point was, as I said before: this was not a great experience. I should have checked out the place more thoroughly before committing but, hey, what's done is done.So, it comes time to pay and I'm trying to decide on a tip.
If you've been down this road, you know that you get the pedicure and then half-way through the manicure they suggest you settle up so you won't smear your nails trying to pay once the polish is on your fingernails.
The price of a manicure and pedicure is $35. ATMs give out $20 bills so most people carry around increments of $20. As it turned out, I didn't walk in with anything smaller than a twenty. I say all this because I believe they priced the manicure/pedicure combination as a small savings over getting them separately but also with the implication that they would get a $5 tip. Snarky but there it is. Normally, I would hand over $40 and say keep the change and that would be that. And, really, it's not a huge amount for a tip, it's around 14%.
This time, even with the myriad problems, I was prepared to give her the$5 if she didn't add insult to injury and assume she was getting it automatically. Here's how it went down...
She says it's time to pay.
I say "$35 for manicure and pedicure, right?"
She says "Yes."
I hand her two $20 bills.
She takes them and pauses--a long pause--and looks at me, waiting.
I look at her, getting irritated but holding her look and smiling.
What can she do? She gets up to get me change.
At this point, I think "If she brings me five singles in change, I'll still hand them all to her for tip."
She takes her time, as if annoyed, and brings me a single $5 bill.
She hands it to me. I take it and look at it pointedly. That's it, then: less tip. I look at her, smile, and say "Could I have change, please?"
She pauses but, again, what can she do? She takes the $5 and brings me five singles, not quite meeting my eyes this time. So there you have it. She could have brought me the singles the first time but she chose to bring me the $5 bill. I put down three of the singles on the table and put the other two in my wallet.
I realize I'm taking some risk here. After all, she hasn't finished the manicure and she can do a sloppy job, but she doesn't. She rushes but she does an okay job and that's that.
14 December 2007
When I was a young girl, of say 5 or 6 or 7, 98% of my experience of Christmas came from the television and it was a very romanticized version.
It was the era of Christmas specials. So Dolly Parton's Christmas Special was followed by Andy Williams' Christmas Special, Donny & Marie's Christmas Special, and so on. It was that kind of time.
It was always snowing for Christmas in Hollywood. I can remember that there were a lot of scenes of snow falling outside windows while people gathered around a huge, stone fireplace that looked to be burning real wood, and sang romantic Christmas songs to each other while they wore brightly-colored sweaters. Occasionally they sang while they went on sleigh rides but mostly they gathered by the fire, singing and briefly chuckling at lame jokes between songs.
I thought: this is why people love Christmas. You get to canoodle with the one you love in front of a fire and you sing each other romantic songs. How great is that?
11 December 2007
Remember when there was a lot of decent stuff on TV? Okay, it's been a lot of years, but stroll with me down memory lane. There was a time when there was more than one night a week with something to watch. Not only that but you'd know when the "TV season" was starting. In fact, one of the counterpoints to the horribleness of going back to school was that at least you had the new TV season to look at come September. There would be specials with genuine stars talking about the new shows. And then the TV season consisted of a number of real seasons' worth (Fall/Winter/Spring) of new shows and then summer came and you had reruns. Ah, nostalgia.
Then they cut the number of episodes. You got one, maybe two, real seasons and then reruns and more reruns.
Then they started with "mid-season replacements" which were sometimes better than the official season starters.
Then they started switching somewhat willy nilly to the point where you said "Wait, is that show on? Is it canceled? What's the deal? I thought that show was in this time slot...?"
Now we have the writers' strike. So we have even more reruns.
I've noticed that the "reality" shows aren't rerunning. Does that mean they don't have writers? Or just that they're filmed so far in advance that it doesn't affect them?
I miss the good old days of television. Is it any wonder that TV Land is so popular?
10 December 2007
From The Washington Post's Post Points:
Also, stay connected wherever you are by researching and jotting down WiFi hotspots in your destination. Jiwire for instance, lists thousands of Internet locations in nearby and far-flung places. The Web site also lists which locations are free.
Handy to know where your next WiFi is coming from if you're the type to want to stay connected while in far-flung places. I still associate being connected--wired or wireless--with working and that's not what I want when I'm on vacation but I guess more and more folks are using it to stay in communication with the ones they love.
07 December 2007
From USA Today:
"Study finds steroids, illegal stimulants in supplements"
So maybe when all those athletes said "I have no idea how I got steroids in my system" they weren't kidding!
Elite Vacation Newsletter reports...
"Little Damage Reported from Strong Nov. 29 Caribbean Quake
According to a Reuters news report, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck near the Caribbean island of Martinique on Thursday, November 29, sending tremors and panic through the region but causing little damage, witnesses said."
05 December 2007
As the snow gently drifts to the ground here in the greater DC area, I hear on the radio that, including today, it has snowed 4 out of the last 6 years on December 5. Huh. Good enough for me. I say we declare a holiday and enjoy it properly.
Also, in the realm of common knowledge that wasn't common to me: Queen is putting out a new album. So there's that.
This has been your 5 minutes ago reporter, lacochran.
04 December 2007
I had the pleasure of dining at two wonderful restaurants this weekend, one in DC and the other in NoVA. Great food, fine atmosphere, lots of good wines by the glass in both places. I won't tell you the names of these places as from here on down this is more a peeve about the current trend in service than a glowing report.
At both restaurants I felt like I was held captive by the waitstaff while they showed off what they knew.
At restaurant A:
Me: I have a question.
Waitress: Absolutely. Let me tell you all about our menu and if you have any questions about wine, I can tell you about that, too. In fact, let me point out a few things to you as you turn to page 12, here, of the drink list, you can see we've spared no expense to bring you some fantastic choices. We have more than 150 wines by the bottle and more than 60 wines by the glass. Oh, and blahblahblahblahBLAH.
Wait a minute. Did you not hear me say I had a question? Are you not the least bit interested in my question? Do you really think I want to hear a soliloquy before I ask my question?
At restaurant B:
Waiter: Do you know what you'd like?
Me: I do!
Waiter: Let me make a few suggestions that you may not have considered. At Restaurant Blahdeeblah we're proud to say we do things a little differently. We're delighted to offer a variety of specialty drinks that you've never heard of. My favorite is the Tommy Lasorda. It's got just the right level of insouciance and a surprising touch of filbert liqueur. Now if you were instead thinking about wine, of course we have umpteen different wines by the glass that I am very familiar with and they start here and go all the way to here sorted by blahblahblahblahBLAH.
Wait a minute. You asked me if I knew what I'd like and I said I do! What the HELL are you going on about? Let me tell you what I want and--here's a thought-- you shut up and go get it!
Why do I feel like I'm watching a performance, and a fairly lackluster one at that? Okay, so you had to memorize a lot to get this job. I get it. Doesn't mean I want to hear everything you know.
03 December 2007
For all the gentile neighborhoods I've lived in, I've never been visited by carolers. I've seen it on television but never in person.
Not sure how I feel about this... I certainly get enough Christmas music on TV, radio, in stores, etc. but that lacks the personal touch and the pleasure (we hope) of a live performance. I've been part of singing groups that sang Christmas music but didn't go caroling, per se. Hm. Maybe I'm missing something.
Perhaps in the spirit of making up for anything my neighborhood might lack in Christmas spirit, one of my neighbors has decided to decorate with every possible Christmas decoration/inflatable/light/etc. he can lay his hands on. I thought it was tacky last year but he has surpassed that by far this year.
27 November 2007
I'd like to express my gratitude.
I never expected to see change so quickly after my last post.
I have heard a report that the Disaronno people are once again showing the commercial in full. At least that's the rumor. *sniff* I'm so proud of each and every one of you that got out there *sniff**dab* on the picket line *sniff**honk**sniff* in front of your neighborhood liquor store and in front of Disaronno headquarters and brought about this change. *raises fist in air* It is truly a testament to the power of the people. *pumps fist* You *point* have brought back the sexy bartender money shot! Bless you, each and every one!
21 November 2007
So you're familiar with the long running Amaretto Disaronno "Pass the Pleasure Around" ad campaign? You know the one with the ice-sucking skinny white woman and the hot bartender? Well, this year, they're running the ads again but they've cut the final shot of the bartender--you know, the money shot--where his pupils dilate and his face breaks into this fantastic smile? It's gone. Now they close with her without his reaction. Who needs that? I say boycott the company until they get the message and reinstate the sexy reaction shot. After all, if we don't speak out about what's important, what's the point of being in this country?
19 November 2007
So, most restaurants are responding to the obesity epidemic by developing small plates/tapas menus, weight watchers compatible options, heart healthy options, etc. Remember Krispy Kreme with the whole wheat donut?
Not IHOP. There latest brainstorm is to introduce pumpkin, carrot cake and cheesecake pancakes! Pancakes aren't sweet enough. We need carrot cake pancakes! Jeez, what's the calorie and fat count on these? And do people throw on the syrup, too?
The mind, she boggles.
15 November 2007
We had the pleasure of Saturday lunch at Jaipur in Fairfax. If you weren't looking for the restaurant, you might easily drive by it. It is located on the ground floor of an apartment building and the facade is very simple and unassuming. But step inside and be transported!
Ambiance: There's plenty of space in this multi-room, very popular restaurant. The decoration is intentionally in pink tones in honor of "the pink city" and connotes a level of comfort that is very pleasant--layered tablecloths, comfortable seating, wall decorations that take you to Jaipur and make you feel welcome. The only exception to the decor was the freakish marionettes in the lobby/bar area that I couldn't resist getting a photo of. Distinctive--I'll give 'em that. The dress code? None that I could see. 25/30.
Service: Although this was a buffet, the service was very attentive and without flaw. The hot naan came immediately. The drinks came promptly and correctly. The plates were cleared quickly. The food on the buffet was always fresh, plentiful and presented attractively. 27/30.
Food: Jaipur had the largest variety I've ever seen on an Indian buffet and everything we had was tasty. Salad, desserts, fruit, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, classics and some things that were new to me. They aren't afraid to use spices here and the result is wonderful. I particularly liked what I would refer to as barbecue shrimp but it was all good and the different flavors worked well together. The only weak element was the samosas which were flavored adequately but grew tough from sitting out. 27/30.
Vegetarian: Good options including a spinach dish, a potato dish, a very spicy cabbage dish, dal, etc. 27/30.
Cost: Incredibly reasonable. $11.95 per person for unlimited buffet! This has got to be the best deal in town! 30/30.
Bonus: Plenty of free parking. +2
Overall: If you are looking for many Indian options for not a lot of money, Jaipur is an inviting place to go. 27/30.
13 November 2007
With a massive six-foot diameter drum made from a 400-year-old tree as their centerpiece, the highly skilled musicians of YAMATO play 40 taikos of various sizes, blending phenomenally powerful and dramatic drumming with music of delicate beauty and humor. Athleticism, superhuman feats of coordination and incredible intensity are the trademarks of this irresistible ensemble.
07 November 2007
I am behind a car and the bumper sticker reads: "Jesus died for me and you" and the first thing I notice is that the statement is broken into two lines: "Jesus died for me" on top and centered underneath it is "and you" AND the top line is larger than the bottom line, as if to say "Jesus died for me. ...Oh, and you, too... of course... I guess... Mostly me, but some you, sure." What exactly IS the message here?? I find this amusing but then I'm not of the Christian persuasion so I can't very well take it personally. There may well be another way to interpret this. Anyone in the club want to enlighten me?*
I've never understood the whole sacrifice one life for the benefit of others concept. Make sacrifices of time, energy, money, food, sure! But life?
Christians don't have a lock on this concept. Jews have it as referenced in the Abraham/Isaac story, which never made sense to me either. What kind of god wants a human sacrifice? And is this a god I want to follow? I mean no offense. It literally never gelled for me intellectually. I couldn't reconcile it.
And in light of all the suicide bombers of late in the Muslim world, it makes even less sense to me.
Don't die for me. Don't even live for me. Do for yourself and if you want to help out, that's great. Be friendly. Reach out. Don't die. That doesn't help me. No matter what size font you use.
* Note: This is not an invitation to proselytise.
06 November 2007
I heard an ad for lasik surgery this morning on the radio. It was Tiger Woods talking about how he had gone to company X for lasik surgery and what a great job they did.
I got to thinking, even if I were a terrific surgeon, would I operate on Tiger Woods? Suppose something went wrong... nobody is perfect and even if the surgeon is perfect some factors are beyond his/her control. What if Tiger's eyes were worse after the surgery? What if he lost his depth perception? Can you imagine how much money in lost income he'd be entitled to? The mind, she boggles. Can you imagine the insurance this company has to carry and the waivers they require patients to sign?
But get it right and you have Tiger doing commercials--very effective commercials--for you!
04 November 2007
02 November 2007
As I drive to the airport I see a sign on the side of the highway that reads "Correctional Facility" in big letters and underneath it the words "Please do not pick up hitchhikers"
Talk about knowing your weaknesses and working the liability aspects! Needless to say, I kept driving.
Then at the airport I am sitting waiting for my plane to be announced and there is a message informing me that the national security level has been raised to orange. I think "Is this new? Was it raised recently or like two years ago?" I realize I am not in touch with my national security level. I realize this does not matter.
30 October 2007
I fly Frontier Airlines to Denver yesterday for business. I am hopeful when I see by the gate that Frontier has a bin of plastic packets with earphones and they are labeled free. I take a pair and head onto the plane. Turns out the earphones are free. The entertainment is not. I can spend $5 to watch reruns of Lucy and the Simpsons or $8 to watch the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Really? Can I?? Only $8 for a system that's going to cut out when we hit an air pocket? What a bargain. I pull my book out and settle in.
To their credit, Frontier Airlines had magazines in their magazines bin. When was the last time you saw magazines on a plane (aside from their own in-flight mag)?
Happily, the flight was what you'd want it to be--safe, smooth, uneventful and on time.
29 October 2007
Have you noticed that some books start on page 1 and others start on, oh, say, page 11? Why is that?
Is it some sort of anti-writer's block thing? The author just can't commit to what he fears might not make a fabulous page 1 so he gives himself a running start and broad jumps into what by rights should be mid-chapter pagination thereby avoiding that unsettling page 1 ickiness??
Or has the publisher said "I need 300 pages from you" and the author only has 289 but thinks maybe nobody will notice if he pulls a numbers game?
I don't get it. What other job would allow this type of obvious skimming? None that I can think of. Artsy writers. They're the only ones that get away with this sordid sham.
And why stop there? Why not start on page 437? Or better yet, why not skip a few numbers at the end of every chapter?
It's outrageous. Why isn't Readers Digest writing about this in their "That's Outrageous" section? Enquiring minds want to know.
27 October 2007
There are many parts of enjoying a restaurant experience beyond the taste of the food: the coziness of the decor, the level of noise, the attentiveness of the waitstaff, the quality of the drinks, and so on. An important aspect is the presentation of the food, or "plating" as the Food Network is irritatingly fond of calling it. That is, arranging the food on the plate in such a way that it has visual appeal versus just slopping something on a plate any which way. It requires some forethought to consider not just a balance of flavors in a dish but also a balance of colors, textures, shapes, and so on. Much like an artist must consider all elements of a composition, so must the chef.
When it's done right, it is a pleasure to both the eyes and the taste buds. But sometimes chefs get carried away with presentation. Salads seem to be a particular struggle for them. It's like at some point as they are putting their menus together they each say, "Well, anybody can put a spinach salad together but if we're going to charge $14 for $3 worth of ingredients we have to find a way to make it memorable!"
A few months ago I ordered a salad and received a tower on a plate. Truly an architectural wonder. But to eat it required destroying it. There was no other way in. As soon as I tried to ease a small piece out of the configuration it fell to pieces like a bad round of Jenga. [Note to self: Is there such a thing as a good round of Jenga??]
Last night I had a very good restaurant meal. But still... I started with an arugula, pear and Parmesan salad. Sounds good, no? You know what I got? 6 1-millimeter thick slices of pear that were cut lengthwise so you got a set of pear profiles--about 3 inches long each--on the base of the plate, all facing clockwise at equal distance around the plate [June Taylor couldn't have arranged it better]; a large mound of lightly dressed arugula; and 1 2-inch by 2-inch finger nail-thin square of top-of-the-line Parmesan cheese centered on top. It was lovely, yes. I could only sit and admire it so long, though, and then I wanted to eat it. But do I want to eat the slice of cheese followed by the mound of arugula followed by the pieces of pear? No! I ordered them as a unit and I WANT THEM MIXED TOGETHER IN PIECES SMALL ENOUGH TO FIT IN MY MOUTH! Is that too much to ask? It's a SALAD fergawdssake. I'll give you the $14 if you'll just TOSS IT!! Presentation be damned!
Want to get wild? Sprinkle a little fresh herb around the edge of the plate for presentation and get over yourselves, chefs of the DC metro area. If I wanted "do it yourself" I'd have stayed home.
25 October 2007
So Chad Kroeger (lead singer of Nickelback) and Carlos Santana have teamed together and come out with a new song, "Into the Night". It's on Santana's new album, Ultimate Santana, and its incredibly catchy. Please consider giving it a listen as these folks are two people that desperately need a hit. ;) Seriously, though, it's good stuff. You can have a listen at:
22 October 2007
Okay, you know Bob Geldof from the Boomtown Rats, Band Aid, Live Aid, Live 8, and maybe even from his famous quote "fock the addresses, just give us the fockin money." But did you know his daughters are Fifi Trixibelle Geldof, Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof, Little Pixie Geldof, and, in 2000, Bob became the legal guardian of their half-sister, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily?
Now ya know.
Geldof wrote "I Don't Like Mondays" in the aftermath of Brenda Ann Spencer's attempted massacre at an elementary school across the street from her house in San Diego, California, at the beginning of 1979.
19 October 2007
Okay, my sample size was too small to identify a correlation or lack there of but...
Yesterday I am sitting in a meeting listening to a series of briefings. At one point, a particular expert gets up and is interrupted by his boss who congratulates him on his promotion to the highest rank possible without going into a management position. The crowd erupts in applause and there is general agreement that this guy is world-class, tops in his field, mighty dang impressive. He does his presentation and, then, because the next speaker asks him to stay, finds the only available seat: next to me.
The guy smelled. Literally smelled. Enough for me to put my hand up to my nose to try to block the aroma. At one point he stood up for some reason that I can't remember because all I could think was "Foy! This guy smells. Maybe he's leaving!" and then he sat down again and my nose was freshly assaulted. I thought "Maybe he had to run over to the meeting to make it in time because he's so much in demand" but I looked at him and he didn't look sweaty; no pit stains or wrinkles or anything. It was like he just hadn't gotten around to showering for a while. Maybe he was too busy solving the mysteries of the universe. Made me wonder if he always smelled like that and if hygiene was not a requirement for promotion in his field.
I was stopped at a street light last night and I glanced to my right at a Lowe's Hardware Store that was set a ways in from the street because this was a sizable shopping area with a huge lot. Through the glassed-in garden center I could see all the lit up Christmas trees. Yesterday was October 18, fergawdssake. Perhaps they should just leave them up year 'round. If the street light hadn't changed at that point I would have taken a picture.
18 October 2007
Jude Law is starring in a remake of Sleuth after starring in a remake of Alfie, both movies made famous by a young Michael Caine. I got to see the original Sleuth the other night on television and there is an interesting physical similarity between Michael Caine at that time and Jude Law today. Looks aside, Jude Law has a tall order if he hopes to compete with Sir Michael Caine, aka Maurice Micklewhite, in the acting department. But, then, Michael Caine is and has been one of the hardest working actors just in the sheer number of movies in which he's played a part. For Sleuth, Caine is switching to the part opposite Law. Should be interesting to see them side by side.
16 October 2007
I took a class last week and learned things that I should have already known about race, power and privilege and how we have institutionalized racism in this country. It was an uncomfortable class to participate in yet I'm glad I was there. It left me feeling impotent. What could I do to improve things?
One thing I can do is find small ways to share the wealth of knowledge I received last week. So here's a small piece of it...
We did an exercise in class around white privilege. That is the idea that merely by being born white in America a person is granted certain privileges that people of color are not. Think not? See for yourself below. Peggy McIntosh wrote about this years ago and not much has changed.
Daily effects of white privilege
I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.
Now think about each statement and see if it applies to you based on your skin color:
I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.
I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.
If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.Many more statements and more about this topic can be found at:
15 October 2007
The Wind In The Willard -- The Willard InterContinental, Washington's historic luxury hotel, is now powered by 100% wind energy. Pepco Energy Services supplies the 332-room landmark hotel with 100% wind renewable energy credits, making the Willard the first urban luxury hotel in the United States to be fully supported in this sustainable manner.
Electricity produced from renewable resources reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), a key greenhouse gas. Wind energy is particularly effective in reducing greenhouse gases, because there are no air emissions associated with operating wind generators. The Willard has embarked on a Sustainability program entitled, "Willard InterContinental - The Next 100 Years." The holistic plan is comprised of interwoven sustainable projects designed for a luxurious urban hospitality experience in harmony with social and ecological consciousness. (1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW; 202.628.9100, 800.827.1747.
14 October 2007
We subscribed to Catalyst Theater's season this year for a grand sum of $30 per person for 3 plays. You can't do better than that. Talk about making theater accessible. There's less than 50 seats in the house so every seat is a good one and the experience is certainly intimate and immediate.
Last night we saw the first play, "The Trial" by Franz Kafka. The acting company did a very good job with it and the set design was almost completely done with video on screens, a very interesting approach, which added to the surreal quality of this absurdist tale.
Hilarious and horrifying, The Trial is the tale of Joseph K., a man arrested and put on trial before a mysterious court that never discloses his alleged crime.
Kafka? Not a happy guy. "The Trial" is not a happy tale. If you read the playbill it states that this was an unfinished work that Kafka requested his friend burn upon his death. He trusted the wrong friend. It makes me wonder if Kafka would have ever brought this play to the public and what it would have wound up as if it had been completed under his hands versus having it completed by someone else. Maybe better, maybe worse. We'll never know.
10 October 2007
We attended the Chrysalis Norton and Bluegrass Festival on Sunday. It was a beeyootiful summer day (yes, I know it's October but that's global warming for you) and the music was good--particularly the bluegrass band they had early on that day. The entrance fee of $20 was a little steep but we did get to try nine wines including a variety of different vintages of the star: Norton. We didn't get to try the Albarino (too much in demand), dang it, but the Viognier was on the tasting list and quite wonderful. I don't think it was $28 worth of wonderful, like they were asking for a bottle, but it was quite good. The cheese (Everona) and the chocolate (Wanders) samples were extraordinarily good and the sourdough baguettes helped round out/soak up ;) the wine experience. And happy people, playful pups, art/craft vendors and rolling hills and it's a recipe for a wonderful afternoon.
09 October 2007
06 October 2007
"No matter where you live in the U.S., you're probably not more than a few hours away from a great vacation that pairs a nice hotel with a local vineyard," said Heather Leisman, senior director of merchandising for Orbitz. Not unexpectedly, California's Napa Valley is still king. But others include: Texas Hill Country; Arkansas Wine Country; Puget Sound, Washington; Columbia Cascades and North Central Washington; Grand River Valley, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee/Bloomington Area, Indiana; Applegate/Rogue Valley, Oregon; Lake Erie Region, Ohio; Kalamazoo, Michigan. Orbitz's findings were based on both food and hotels in the area. Some other sometimes surprising findings: * Philadelphia offers much more than monuments and museums. The city is actually in the vicinity of 18 wineries, six of which make up the Brandywine Valley wine trail, located just 25 minutes away. * Distinctive wines combined with southern hospitality have vaulted the Texas Hill and Arkansas Wine Countries to the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, on the Orbitz Insider Index fastest-growing list. And the Pacific Northwest is gaining on California as the place to be when it comes to wine excursions. * Three of the top 10 fastest-growing regions in the United States are from points of interest in Washington and Oregon. And before snow starts to fall in the Midwest, there are a number of growing wine regions that have given destinations in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan four of the top 10 spots. * In Mexico, tequila is king, but Sonora is home to half of Mexico's vineyards. The Baja region and Ensenada are also known for their wines – and their food and wine festivals. * In Canada, the Okanagan region features some of Canada's best scenery and wine.
Elite Travel reports...
Orbitz Reveals Top 10 Fastest-Growing Wine Regions
Food- and wine-related travel is escalating in popularity throughout the United States, and not just in the Napa Valley, according to Orbitz in its latest surprising survey. The company has announced the top 10 fastest-growing wine regions in its recent Index release. The Index includes some unexpected "hot" wine destinations such as the "City of Brotherly Love."
"No matter where you live in the U.S., you're probably not more than a few hours away from a great vacation that pairs a nice hotel with a local vineyard," said Heather Leisman, senior director of merchandising for Orbitz.
Not unexpectedly, California's Napa Valley is still king. But others include: Texas Hill Country; Arkansas Wine Country; Puget Sound, Washington; Columbia Cascades and North Central Washington; Grand River Valley, Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee/Bloomington Area, Indiana; Applegate/Rogue Valley, Oregon; Lake Erie Region, Ohio; Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Orbitz's findings were based on both food and hotels in the area. Some other sometimes surprising findings:
* Philadelphia offers much more than monuments and museums. The city is actually in the vicinity of 18 wineries, six of which make up the Brandywine Valley wine trail, located just 25 minutes away.
* Distinctive wines combined with southern hospitality have vaulted the Texas Hill and Arkansas Wine Countries to the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively, on the Orbitz Insider Index fastest-growing list. And the Pacific Northwest is gaining on California as the place to be when it comes to wine excursions.
* Three of the top 10 fastest-growing regions in the United States are from points of interest in Washington and Oregon. And before snow starts to fall in the Midwest, there are a number of growing wine regions that have given destinations in Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee and Michigan four of the top 10 spots.
* In Mexico, tequila is king, but Sonora is home to half of Mexico's vineyards. The Baja region and Ensenada are also known for their wines – and their food and wine festivals.
* In Canada, the Okanagan region features some of Canada's best scenery and wine.
04 October 2007
Five years ago, yesterday, marked the beginning of the sniper terror that briefly plagued DC. I raise this not to bring you down (like you need more things bringing you down) but because when I think of this era, I immediately think of white box trucks. They are forever linked in my mind. Early on in the frenzied investigation they saw a white box truck at one of the scenes and speculated that the killer was in a white box truck. So everyone was on alert for white box trucks. The problem was that every other vehicle was, and still is, a white box truck. There were almost as many white box trucks as references to white box trucks in this paragraph.
So, I thought, if you wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible, you couldn't do better for a getaway vehicle than the white box truck. This would be my vehicle of choice if I were the criminal type. And if you wanted to strike fear into the populace, you couldn't do better than point the finger of blame at the white box truck. And I wondered if this had indeed turned out to be the vehicle of the killers, would sales of white box trucks go down? You know, like the decline of naming a child Adolph? Would people sell their white box truck cheap just to be rid of the stigma? Would they paint it school bus yellow to disguise it's horrible crime reference? Would OJ buy one and drive it around?
I could be wrong (who me?) but it seems like this was about the time that fear became a way of life in the US. It was a year after 9/11 and people were trying to right themselves after such devastation and it wasn't enough that the administration was hammering fear messages, it seemed that television news became all about FEAR. If you watch the news now the message is still "BE VERY AFRAID." And if there is no news to point to in order to justify this mandate, they'll create some. You see teasers like "Like licking ice cream? We did, too, until we heard Joe Headshot's special report. The horrible truth about licking ice cream tonight at 11."
Turn your television off.
Lick ice cream.
But watch out for those white box trucks. [Okay, that one was just gratuitous.]
I am at the gas station yesterday pumping my gas. I look across the island as a driver is getting out of her minivan. She leaves the door open as she begins her transaction. I glance in and notice that there is something hanging from her turn signal lever. I look again. There are at least a dozen little tree air fresheners hanging over her lever.
What happened in that car that she needs that many air fresheners? Cat pee all over it? Diaper explosion? Is she hauling dead bodies around for the fun of it? All those combined? No wonder she left the door open. Ick.
And, really, is there any point in overlaying one strong scent with another strong scent? So you get Strawberry cat urine or Pine dead body aroma. How does that help?!
03 October 2007
In the creepy and different category...
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Opens in Washington DC
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum opens in Washington DC on October 5, 2007! The world renowned wax museum features very real looking wax figures of historical icons and modern day celebrities. Don't miss the grand opening special admission price of just $10 on October 5th and 6th...
02 October 2007
So I go in to work and I have a message from MCI needing me to call them back in order for them to process my request.
Huh? They must have the wrong number. I ignore the message.
Later I am in the office when they call back.
This is Soandso from MCI and I just need a little bit of information to process your request...
I think you must have the wrong number. I haven't put in any request...
I have an order here for bladeblah.
Well, someone with your name and phone number has put it in on a Bank of America credit card.
How interesting... It wasn't me.
Do you have a Bank of America card?
Let me check. Sure enough, my business credit card is a Bank of America card.
Are the last four digits NNNN?
And so I realize that I have become the latest victim of identity fraud. MCI cancels the order and suggests I get in touch with the credit card company to see if there's any other spurious charges.
I call Bank of America. Turns out whomever is charging to this account is having a grand time in Baton Rouge among other places. They suggested shutting down the card immediately. I agreed. They did. So much for having big fun on the bayou.
I can't wait to see my statement this month. The B of A clerk suggested I look it over pretty carefully to see what I want to dispute. Yuh. Stellar advice.
28 September 2007
I had the pleasure of attending a conference in NYC this past week. No, I wasn't part of the UN meeting and no I wasn't there to protest at Columbia.
I was plunk in the heart of the theater district (aka Broadway) and the neon lights certainly are bright except I don't think it's neon anymore. It all looks like flat panel screens running advertisement loops and animation so everything is bright and moving around you at all hours of the day and night. And there's always plenty of noise. Kinda like being in a pinball machine. Then there's the sea of people around you constantly which takes some getting used to, even if you're used to other cities. This is a whole new level of crowd.
All in all, I really did have a good time there, even if it wasn't what I'd call relaxing. I got to see the Broadway show "Curtains" and it was light and funny and had quite a surprising number of song and dance bits in it. Impressive and catchy, too. And lots of famous folks in the cast.
I stayed at a "boutique" hotel a block off Broadway and here's a photo of a hallway on the way to my room. Yeah, it was that dark and shadowy. I got the feeling I was in a Baretta episode. Here's another shot of the lovely establishment. Inviting, no? And such a deal! Only $289 a night!
I am not a New York gal. This not so surprising admission comes at a time when I've had a chance to think more and more about DC. Here I am planning to leave it within the next 10 years, hopefully for a tropical clime, and I guess I'm just starting to really feel that this is home.
I've lived in the DC metro area for 20+ years and I've always heard that DC is cold, hard, unwelcoming, unfriendly, boring, congested, mediocre, lacking vibrancy and I guess I've always bought the press at some level. But the more I'm here the more I think "What the hell are they talking about?" It just doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Yes, the traffic is heavy so, okay, I'll give you "congested" but the rest of it, NO!
I've found the vast majority of people here to be friendly, helpful, pleasant, even inviting.
The options the area offers are amazing. There's so much going on for every taste, budget and interest every day of the year! The restaurant choices alone should keep anyone happy.
And in thinking about the restaurants I begin to think that what DC isn't is about fluff. There's not a lot of extra frivolity and maybe that throws newcomers off. But there certainly is plenty of quality, understated elegance, and even sumptuousness if you seek it. DCers are not effusive but they definitely get the protocol right. It works for me.
Manhattan is nice once in a while but for every day, pre-retirement living, I'll take DC.
27 September 2007
I traveled to New York City for a conference this week and took the train for the first time. Travel money permitting, it won't be the last. Having driven a car or taken a plane, I can tell you train travel beats these hands down!
It's faster than driving and, if you count the time for security and runway taxi-ing and such, it's a tie for flying, time-wise.
It's scenic! You see a different path through the countryside than you do when you drive or fly. The train seems to travel more as the crow flies.
Plus, and this is the biggie, it's a pleasure. The trains (I took an Acela up and a standard regional train on the way back) are clean and comfortable and even have meal cars. You sit back, have a drink, make a call, read a book, and leave the stress of travel to them! Ahhhhhhhh.
Interesting tidbit: there's a Penn Station in Baltimore, in Newark, in New York, ... makes me wonder just how many Penn Stations exist...? Then there's Union Station in DC, and in LA, and in Ottawa,... Not very creative with their names, are they?
Oddness: I passed a section of Jersey and was surprised to see not only homes built RIGHT next to the tracks but some with balconies and outdoor furniture set up to face/overlook the tracks. That's entertainment?
19 September 2007
I fill out marketing surveys. Sometimes I get cash for my efforts. Sometimes I get "rewards". Recently I hit a threshold on one of the reward-granting sites and I got a 1-year free subscription to Harper's Bazaar. For some reason I was thinking this was the magazine with the "Harper's Index", those thought-provoking statistics that play off current topics, but, nay, that's in a magazine entitled Harper's Magazine.
What I got was Harper's Bazaar. Okay, so it's free, I'll try it, I think. It's gotta be better than Fly-Fishing Gazette. I'd already requested and received the first issue of a year's free subscription to Sherman's Travel and that was pleasant.
The first issue of HB arrived this week. I applaud the postman for hauling this anvil of a magazine to my door in what must have been a Quasimodo posture. This is the largest magazine I've ever seen--and I'm old enough to remember the Sears Catalog. This is the Fall Fashion issue and, according to the pagination, weighs in at 574 pages! Yee-doggies, that's a lot of fashion.
I sat down with it and worked my way through it slowly, taking breaks for rest and nourishment much like I might chug through a text book on the night before an exam, trying to glean what I could from this alien world. I do not use the word "alien" casually. Look at some of these fashion models in their couture and you are surely looking at some creative marketing genius' idea of an alien creature. These are some of the most bizarre, no pun intended, creations I've ever seen. I get that advertisements are supposed to be memorable but holey moley!
In the midst of all this glitzy fantasy is the occasional application article: what colors are coming in, what style of pants are going out. And so I dutifully try to apply it.
Gold is in. Hm, not good for me as yellow's not flattering to my skin tone. Jewel tones are back. Great, that works! The high-water pants are out, good news for me since they just make me look shorter. Hugely wide belts are in. Bad news for us short-waisted people. Pencil skirts are back. Wonderful--tailored skirts are good on me.
And so the pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth, with the more than occasional moment of incredulity: Who the heck wears an 8-inch wide belt unless you're in wench clothing at a Renaissance Fair--sorry, I mean--Faire? And have you seen the angle on the shoes that are coming in? I can't wear those, I'll break my neck!
Now don't quote me on any of these fashion trends. After all, this is from memory after only my first pass through. Clearly, I'm going to need to devote a lot of time and energy to studying this if I ever hope to not be laughed out of the room by the fashionistas.
Then, again, maybe I'll just pass the issues of HB on to my sister, who totally gets fashion to begin with, and stick to less perplexing conundrums, like peace in the middle east.
18 September 2007
I saw a rerun on Bravo of an episode of Biggest Loser, a show that is Celebrity Fit Club without the celebrities. In it, Jillian, one of the team's coaches, is proud of her "tough" reputation. That's her in the "bully" shirt, there. In this episode, she gives each of the team members an assignment to do 500 push ups and 500 crunches and 500 lunges and their immediate reaction is "500?? That's insane. I can't do that."
She does this intentionally. She starts with what appears impossible and works with them and helps them to learn persistence and break down the goal until it's done. And it does get done. They do it. They are amazed that they find a way to do it but they do do it. She has pushed them to re-evaluate what is possible and doable.
That's what weight loss is all about. Changing "I can't do it." to "I will do it."
That's also what life is all about. We continue to face new challenges and our initial response to something new is almost always "I can't do it." or at least "I don't know if I can do it." And then, when there's no choice, when Jillian or someone or something equally as scary, is staring us down, we try. Most of the time we find that we can do it and, after the fact, we wonder what all that fear was about. Until the next challenge and it starts all over again.
What would it be like if, instead of looking at challenges with fear, we faced challenges as exciting opportunities to show that we can do this, even if "this" is entirely new and unknown? Not to operate with bravado but just to be open to our own potential. I guess the lesson from Jillian is that it's okay to be afraid, just don't let it stop you from believing you can do anything.
17 September 2007
Why is it that work can be relatively quiet for weeks and then suddenly you have high visibility actions and deadlines flying at you from all directions? It's true, I'd rather be busy than bored but, wow, be careful what you wish for, for you will get it in abundance! Must be the change in the weather. People are shifting out of Summer mode.
Meanwhile, with the shifting weather a variety of apples have shown up at the grocery stores and I wonder at the years and years we lived with only waxed Red Delicious apples in the bin. How did these get to be the most prevalent? I don't think they're all that delicious. Give me a Stayman or a Jonamac or a Ginger-gold or a Gala or even a zippy Granny Smith any day over the so called Red Delicious. Did the red delicious catch on because of the bright color (much like the dyed pistachios) or were they the easiest to grow and keep on the shelf without spoiling (much like iceberg lettuce.) Valid arguments, I suppose. But flavor-wise? Would Eve really be able to tempt Adam with a Red Delicious? C'mon. And now that people have tried other varieties, how ya gonna keep 'em buying Red Delicious once they've seen gay Paree?
Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about this.
"Red Delicious is the most widely grown apple in the world." It also says...
"The Red Delicious, like many other cultivars, was a chance seedling. The legend is that a hardy seedling was found in 1868 by one Jesse Hiatt, an apple grower outside East Peru, Iowa, USA. Hiatt tried to kill it, but it kept coming back, and finally Hiatt let it grow, eventually bringing its fruit to a fruit show in Louisiana, Missouri. It won first prize. All Red Delicious apples are said to be direct descendants of this original tree."
"This variety of apple became increasingly popular until the 1990s, when overproduction began to degrade the quality and when better storage and transportation techniques made other varieties more available. Recently, apple aficionados often consider this apple bland and deride the Red Delicious for its overly sweet, relatively simple flavor compared to other apple varieties."
Gee, does this mean I can add "apple aficionado" to my resume? Who knew?!
Will we start to see tags under apple bins like the tags you see under bottles of wine? You know... "A delightful but unassuming apple from the Russian River Valley with a pleasant nose, undertones of leather and zinc, and hints of spice on the finish. Excellent for picnic nibbling and brunch desserts. Apple Spectator rates it a 76."
13 September 2007
Mass March in Washington DC!
Gather at 12 noon at the White House
Support our troops. Bring them home. Let the world know that Americans realize this war has got to stop.
Join Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, Camp Casey Peace Institute, the ANSWER Coalition, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, National Council of Arab-Americans, Grassroots America, Hip Hop Caucus, and thousands of others in Washington DC on September 15 for a huge antiwar protest timed to coincide with the report by General Petraeus on the "Surge" in Iraq.
12 September 2007
I stopped at the dry cleaner last night on my way home from work. It was about 7:30 and as I'm getting out of my car, I see a woman getting out of her car and talking to her very young children through the window of the car. She is telling them that it's okay. I look and there is a child in a car seat and another that should be in a car seat, sitting next to his little sister. I'm guessing they were a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. The woman is leaving these children alone in the car. I am appalled.
I don't know what to do. If you read my last post, you know I am a bit of a loudmouth. I watch as we wind up in line in the dry cleaners together, me in front of her, while she is periodically craning her neck to look at the car through the cleaner's window.
My thoughts pound one on top of the other and go something like this...
How can she leave her children in the car alone? What is wrong with people?!
Well, it's not sweltering, so they're not in danger of dying of heat stroke. At least people crack windows for pets. She didn't crack a window but then it's not all that hot.
Maybe it's better if the car is all locked up. Does she know how quickly a child can be taken? Of course someone could break in, too. But what are the odds... If she's just in here a minute or two...
It's probably too much hassle to get the children out of the car and take them with her for a 2 minute stop.
Is this abandonment? Even for a few minutes?
Did my parents leave me in the car for a few minutes when they ran errands?
I don't know. Back in the 60s, there were less creeps on the streets.
What do I do?!
I didn't know what was reasonable but I knew I wanted the situation to stop as soon as possible. My head was throbbing.
I got called next to the counter and that's when I decided. I turned to this woman and said "You go ahead of me." She thanked me profusely, got her business done, and left in the span of a minute, thanking me again as she went out the door. Maybe I should have said something. Maybe by helping her do the errand quickly I encouraged her to do this practice again. I dunno.
If not abandonment, was this negligence? Or am I overreacting? Anybody know what the police would say about this?
11 September 2007
I am not above shrieking in the metro.
Let me explain. Hubby and I both tend to react to noise the same way: most of it is unnecessary and irritating. It isn't all that unusual for the two of us to sit in the same room in amicable silence for an hour or so. Sure, we talk gobs, but we don't HAVE to talk. You know? We can simply enjoy the silence.
So when we are trapped with unnecessarily noisy people, it gets old very quickly. The difference between hubby and I is he, being the polite fellow he is, will whisper something discretely to me about the jackass making all the noise and I'll sometimes just respond in kind to said jackass. Dangerous, I know, and I'm not suicidal--I'll size up the offender and sometimes have the sense to let it go--but sometimes one good yawp deserves another.
This is particularly a pattern with loud (sometimes drunk, sometimes not) cell phone people. And let's face it the phrase "loud cell phone people" is redundant. As they get louder, I get louder. Sometimes I even answer their questions loudly. You know, in a public service effort to let them know that EVERYbody can hear them asking about their gonorrhea test. Often, amazingly, they never even notice.
We had to run an errand at Pentagon City Mall about a month ago. If you've been, you know that the elevators are small, glassed in, and always oversubscribed. Still, for whatever reason, that day we decided to ride the elevator. Now remember it's small and it's packed. And elevator etiquette dictates that we don't make eye contact. JoeCellPhone is one of the 7 people crammed in and decides this is a good time to carry on his call at TOP VOLUME. Everyone else is silent. I started laughing. It was so absurd. We were trapped listening to his inane conversation at painfully loud pitch. I looked at JoeCellPhone and started laughing louder. I caught another person's eye and they started laughing. Before we knew it we were laughing our asses off. Big, braying donkey laughter. Again, JoeCellPhone never even realized we were laughing at him. He just continued on his merry way.
The other night we were on the metro and sitting immediately behind us were a teenage couple and the woman was on the phone. It went something like this:
Loudyoungwoman (LYW): Are you on the same train we are?
LYW: Where are you?
LYW: WE just passed Reagan Airport. Are you on the same train we are?
LYW: Oh my god. Where are you?
LYW: You're on the yellow line?
LYW: You must be on the same train we are!
LYW: Are you on the same train we are? I don't see you.
LYW: This is so freaky. John, my parents are on the same train we are.
John: Where are they?
LYW: John can't believe it either. Where are you?
LYW: They're on THIS train!
John: I don't see them.
LYW: I don't either. What car are you in? Do you see us?? What are you passing? So are WE! This is so unbelievable!
John: That's weird.
LYW: John just said "That's weird." I KNOW! I can't believe you're on the same train we are!!
MyHubby: Oh, for godssake!
Me (in a loud voice): Can you believe we're on the same train?!!
Hubby, laughing, joined in for a change: I can't believe it! Oh my god!
Happily, the metro came to a stop and LYW, cell phone still clutched to her ear, and John went off to find her parents.
...the end of summer.
...the start of the school year.
...the start of the Jewish new year.
...the beginning of the new television season.
...the time to take out your transitional clothing and begin layering.
...when days get shorter.
...when nights get cooler.
...the wine gets harvested.
...the big bags of candy appear in the stores.
...the chipmunks begin to gather in earnest.
...the time for hurricanes in the Caribbean.
...the shoulder season for some resorts.
...a good time to decide what bits of your wardrobe can be phased out and given to charity (think how happy someone will be to have that nice item that no longer fits you properly)
...a good time for a yard sale.
...a good time to have the car checked over before winter sets in.
...a good time to take stock. Are you further down your path than you were this time last year?
...a good time to invest in or divest of stock before the tax year finishes.
...a good time to make stock, from seasonal veggies, of course.
...a good time to look at the local course catalogs and see if you want to learn something new.
...a good time to reconnect with the people you care about--give 'em a call/drop 'em a line.
...a good time to focus on your blessings, of which there are many.
10 September 2007
On the rare occasion that I have needed a lawyer, I've been very glad to have one. I have relatives who are lawyers. I have friends who are lawyers. Our Cozumel real estate contact says the first thing you do when you move to Mexico is get the name and number of a good lawyer and always have this information and a cell phone with you because even a fender bender can get you thrown in jail in Mexico and that's no place you want to be.
I've always found the field of law fascinating from an abstract view. I wouldn't want to do the work involved to become a lawyer (gad, all that reading!), and I wouldn't want other people's lives or futures dependent on how well I performed on a given day, but I think it must be wonderfully satisfying to know enough about the law to work it in whatever direction you need to go.
In America, very few people represent themselves. They get a good lawyer because they believe: the better the lawyer, the better the outcome. This has been drilled into us. It's even listed in the Miranda Rights they read you (when you get arrested):
You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. Do you understand?
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. Do you understand?
If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney. Do you understand?
Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
All that, as if to say, you can choose to represent yourself but why the heck would you?!
Now, juxtapose that with: "When in doubt, go to the source." Remember when you were a kid and your parents wanted you to look them in the eye and tell them what happened? They were going to the source. They didn't want to hear from your friends. They wanted to hear from you. They wanted to evaluate your version of the details. They wanted to see if you were shifting from foot to foot and perspiring and avoiding eye contact. They wanted the truth.
In a legal situation, who knows what really happened: you or the lawyer? You were there. The lawyer? Not likely. The lawyer only knows what you tell him (or her.)
But that leads to a deeper question: Do we want the truth? In the words of Paul Buchman, "I'm thinking, not so much."
Our legal system isn't based on finding the truth but on determining an outcome, that is, a winner and a loser. Given that, the truth becomes inconsequential. Guilt and innocence become malleable. The well-dressed, smooth-talker who has presence and speaks in an authoritative tone is the winner. Particularly if said lawyer has cut a deal in advance of the hearing. So we intentionally distance ourselves and our court outcomes from the truth. And yet we use terms like "justice." Is this justice?
What a strange world we live in.