Friday, March 30, 2007

Gotten To

I was cheerful this morning. I was wearing my new little pseudo-ballet slipper flats, my new white shirt with the whiter-than-white flower print on it, and it was Friday. I got up on time. There was no freshly horfed hairslime on the bathroom tiles.

Then I went in to work.

My first little job of the day, just begun this week, is to take some data from our stupid computer accounting system and translate it into a simple spreadsheet. Of course, extracting the data is prone to mistakes, at least when I do it before I have my morning Diet Pepsi and Kashi bar. All numbers look alike to me at 8:15 am. It doesn't help that there are "special things" that come up in the original data that I am NOT supposed to include, but for which I do not get the Secret Code Book. It looks just like the data I'm supposed to include. So I put the day's results on Bosszilla's desk,

Within a half hour he's at my desk, in his best Irritable But Patient manner, pointing his finger a lot and questioning how THESE numbers could be so different from THOSE numbers and IT MAKES NO SENSE and WHY DID I INCLUDE THAT? I pull up my original data and he gives me the Code Key for the day. Then I fix a duplicate entry and wonder where one of the entries I KNOW I put in yesterday (as evidenced in yesterday's printout) disappeared to today.
10 minutes later, all is fixed, but I am frustrated and irritated.

Nevertheless, I move on. I'm doing more boring than picking lint from the carpet data entry, which is endless and tedious and mind numbing, but tolerable with a little music, and I have portable tunes. Then, I get a call from someone in the back who needs me to speed-remember something I was half-involved with last November (another D-man project. I was involved in the tedious, mind numbing part, because I'm good at that.) So I put aside the data entry to fiddle with this, since chances were good I could get it done before I left.

Then I heard the roar of Bosszilla in the sales office. The floors shake and the walls tremble. A hush fell over all of Tokyo Inc. Everyone wondered where the rampage would begin and if there were sufficient electrical lines rigged. But, instead, Bosszilla grabbed some hapless victim and strode into his office.

That's when he REALLY let loose. I mean, I had my headphones on and my pen was shaking on my desk. I can't tell you what it was about, because mostly I heard "FUCK", "FUCKIN" and variations of that type, with the rest of the words more or less muffled behind layers of Asian Lounge music. I think it went on for about 30 minutes. I stuck my head back into my project and pretended that the soundwaves really didn't make my head hurt and my stomach tighten.

This particular project involves changing numerous part numbers on numerous spreadsheets and making sure the right ones are associated with each other. It's not hard, it's just fiddly work and it takes concentration and a highlighter (since the numbers are all very similar and have to be entered more than once for obscure reasons having to do with how D-man thinks). Of course, our receptionist, whom I like but who really doesn't like being a receptionist, keeps patching calls for Bosszilla through to me. I only get the calls she doesn't want to handle -- usually sales calls and cold calls for solicitation. I don't especially like to take these calls either, but I can usually get the caller to hang up. However, they interrupt me and make me lose track of what I'm doing.

Thus, more irritation and frustration.

And, last part of the day, Bosszilla comes in with a new project involving the back area of the plant and detailed instructions I need to write up. Joy. Generally I like doing this kind of work. It's something I do well. However, the back area is highly disfunctional. Let's make that HIGHLY DISFUNCTIONAL. They put the DIS in disfunction. It's divided into little fiefdoms, each fiercely guarded by a supervisor who doesn't trust or like the other supervisors and who will be DAMNED if he/she will let go of anything that might threaten his/her power position. Bosszilla created this. None of them can say a good thing about the others and will go out of their way to say something bad. Oh, and they tattle to Bosszilla (I mean tattle. There's no mature, professional, calm, logical complaining with this crew.) It's a giant kindergarten sandbox. I hate it.

But that's where I'll be next week. And Bosszilla's disparaging remarks, anger (he's always angry about the back area, one way or another) and contempt bleeds all over me. It's like being slimed. It's so hard to restrain myself, because I want to yell "WHY DO I HAVE TO SPEND GOOD BRAINCELLS ON THIS? I'LL SPEND HOURS ON IT, I'LL MAKE ALL YOUR LITTLE STUPID ALTERATIONS, I'LL GET EVERYONE'S OPINION ABOUT IT, AND THEN IT WILL BE IGNORED BY EVERYONE WHO'S SUPPOSED TO USE IT UNTIL YOU GET MAD AND MAKE ME DO IT AGAIN!"

But I didn't. I nodded and kept my body language neutral-positive and put it off until next week with the current fiddly project that took priority over the numbing data entry project.

The whole morning just got to me. If I had to put in 8 hours, I'd have killed someone around 3 pm with my stapler and a highlighter.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

More on this Inner Princess thing

I've been doing a little personal introspection and some closet cleaning this week (what with the Cutest Shoes and Co. taking up residence and all).

I've hidden myself a lot. Oh, I know that sounds pretty incredible, me saying something like that right here, on a blog, in front of the world and the dog next door (I'm pretty certain that poodle surfs porn, though) but it's true. I've concealed myself in fat, in baggy clothes, in dark colors, in my house -- I've hidden in a lot of ways. It all goes back to the Great Depression but the pattern existed before then.

Anyway, I have several people's closets in mine. I've got all these cute, sassy clothes with short skirts and bright colors from those few times when I felt pretty good about myself. And I've got a lot of dark, somber, shapeless, conservative things that made me look like wallpaper or well upholstered furniture. I've got more average clothes, too, and some very dressy stuff. The fits vary, of course, but not so very much -- there are three items that I know will not at this moment fit, and I'm keeping them because, dammit, one day they WILL fit. Besides, red suede mini skirts are not tossed to Good Will lightly.

For the first time in my life, I am exercising regularly. I won't go so far as to say I enjoy using the weights (I like my stretching routine, though) but I feel the difference when I don't go. I can also see subtle changes in my body which I like. I'm still a big girl -- oh yes I am -- but I can see ME under the fat. The fat is camoflauge and I'm trying to get out of hiding. I can see the shapes of my muscles and I can feel them. I get this sense of pride when I can lift or move things by myself. My back doesn't hurt as often. High heel shoes are no longer instruments of torture (well, as long as I don't have to walk or stand in them for a long time).

No, I'm not dropping a lot of weight. I'm having trouble with the food third of the equation. I've got portion control pretty well down, and I'm making better choices on average, but I'm having trouble keeping things nutritionally balanced because, face it, I'm lazy and I don't like to cook for myself. The Husband has an irregular schedule so even though I'm perfectly willing to make dinner every night, it isn't always a do-able thing. So I'm not dropping a lot of weight.

I am shrinking, though. It's very strange. I feel like I am whittling away at all the stuff that is not me to find me underneath. Isn't that an odd thought?

So, back to the clothes. Stuff I was perfectly content to wear last month is now really annoying me. I don't like it and I don't want to wear it. I haven't dumped ALL of it yet, but I'm pulling out the worst. Like the dress I wore today, which is going in the giveaway box tonight. I've had it for about 5 years and I've worn it to work many times. It's a simple column, a sleeveless tank style with a little short sleeved jacket, in a crinkly, solid, dark plum fabric. I pulled it out last night and suddenly it wasn't just a work dress. It was a Grandma Goin' t' Church dress. All it needed was a hat and orthopedic oxfords.

The Husband, who wasn't quite up to speed with me, kept saying "Oh, you look fine in it. It's a conservative dress, but it isn't bad."

"It's Grandma's dress."

"It's not quite Republican. Sort of Republican Lite."

"I don't want to dress like a 20 year old, but, damn, I can manage 35. This is 70."

"It's not that bad. It's just plain and...conservative."

It's going in the box.

I guess this is what happens when one's inner Princess comes out for spring. Everything has to bloom. I think I can manage without the tiara, though. I'm not much for tiaras. No Outer Princess.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mystery Solved

I have an explanation for the cute shoes and lipgloss. Apparently, my inner princess has escaped.

Devil's Panties - Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jen understands. I've managed to avoid anything pink and sparkly so far, though.

Update: I bought TWO kinds of ugly undereye/overeye concealer/depuffy stuff at the grocery store today. I don't think they helped much, and neither is sparkly or pink, but I still feel all girly about it. I spent ten minutes looking at lipgloss, though.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Since When Did I Become A Girl?

Today I was overcome with frilly female inpulses. I wore the Second Cutest Shoes and a skirt to work today.

These are the shoes with the same 3 1/2 inch heel as the Cutest Shoes, but for some reason they don't feel as high. Maybe it's the open toe. Maybe the last is shaped differently. Maybe they are Magic.

I still haven't worked that out. Anyway, I was sort of surprised at myself. Why would I wear high heels to the office? I even put sneakers and socks in a bag to take with me, just in case common sense overtook me at some point -- or if I had to put on my ESD straps to go into the back. Heel straps will not work on high heel shoes.

There's more, though. I put on mascera and lipgloss this morning. Hell, I was surprised to realize I even OWNED lipgloss. I'm pretty much a Chapstick girl. I own cosmetics for those 4 or 5 times a year when I wear it to go out somewhere (or when I'm on stage, where the lights make me look washed out and blank). I buy new mascera because the stuff will go bad and I don't want an eye infection. I've got lipstick -- still whole, with the point! -- from 5 years ago. Most days I'm doing really well if I get matching shoes on and can wrestle my hair into a scrunchie. I don't wear make up to work.

Today, I practically dressed up. I looked like most women look when they work in an executive office, only no suit. I'm not sure what's happened to me. Maybe it's the springtime. Maybe paramenopause is taking control. I don't know.

But I really enjoyed my shoes.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's the Shoes

The Husband and I indulged in Retail Therapy today. I got some new spring clothes, we found a Saki set (after looking for over a year) and The Husband replaced his sunglasses clips and some shoes.

It all started because I needed new shoes. I'm hard on shoes -- it comes of having huge feet and being cheap. Shoes do not last for long. I tend toward very practical, flat, cheap shoes, usually black, that are comfortable and not much to look at.

Instead, I got these. Because the are Cute Shoes.


Don't even try to tell me they are just loafers. They are not and you will not convince me. To me, they are the Cutest Shoes in the World. Officially. TM and everything.

Now here's the funny part.

See that circle? That circle is around the 3 1/2 inch mark. Yes, these Cute Shoes have a 3 and 1/2 inch high heel. I can barely walk in them (at least, normally). I totter just under 6 feet tall in them. What the hell am I, the queen of the Barefoot Bigfoot People, doing hobbling around in a 3 1/2 inch high heel?

Being damned Cute in my shoes, that's what I'm doing. These things make my big fat clodhopper feet look TEENY, like Chinese Golden Lotus teeny. My long stride is shortened and I have to walk carefully or I'll flop right over on my face. I don't care. They are not walking shoes. They are sitting around looking really cute shoes. They are hobbling from the car to the restaurant shoes. That's what they are.

I bought another pair that LOOKED and FELT lower, but turned out to have the same heel. I can't work that out. And I bought a pair of sneakers and some flats. I'm not COMPLETEY crazed. But they are damned cute shoes. Don't worry. I know who to blame for this fashion abberation of mine. It's undue influence, that's what it is. It's brainwashing.

I love my shoes.


We also returned to Harmoni for our cheese refund. They were super nice about it. They gave us a $20 gift card (more than the value of the cheese) and we had dinner there (fantastic!), drank some wine, and bought more cheese, among other things. *sigh* Food and new shoes. Life is fantastic!

Equity

I've had grey hair for a long time -- since I was 17, in fact. It's never been very abundant and it's never been very attractive, being gathered mostly at the crown of my head in what I call my "pigion target". Since i wear my hair pulled back most of the time, it's not a big factor (regular dye jobs help, too). I've said many times that if only my hair would go grey in some attractive way, like my mother's did, I'd stop coloring my hair and let myself age gracefully.

Today I saw a grey hair at my temple, in one of those places one can go grey "attractively". There it was, the first sign of my impending old age.

Right next to it was a fat pimple. Is this what they call "balance"?

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's not Stress, it's Chocolate

I never think of myself as being stressed from work. I just don't see it or feel it. I think of myself as mostly easy going, leaving the job at my desk when I go home. No worries, no stress.

And then I come home and eat half a tub of Nutella with a butter knife.

There was very little Bosszilla today. Today my work problem was much more basic. I am trying to recover a data system that was set up like crap in the beginning, been diddled and fiddled and futzed with since, and still isn't clean after several hours of work -- and some data is gone beyond recover, which will bite someone's butt in the passage of time (not mine, I'm in on this at the last minute). This means much extracting information from D-man, which, despite his sweet nature and desire to have this work, is painful.

Somehow, on Monday, I have to find enough information (from information that does not exist) to make a report to give to Trendy Project Engineer from our client. I've met him before. He's got an exotic name -- I suspect Indian or Indonesian heritage -- and he's pretty in a skinny, long black lashes, full lipped sort of way. But he's just damned trendy. Expensive, acid dyed, pre-tastefully ripped jeans. Redbrown highlighted tips in his black hair, which is also gelled into careful careless spikes. Metal cuff bracelet with some line drawing of tigers on it. If I didn't know he was from Arizona, I'd say there's a heavy West Coast influence in his life. Oh, and the untucked buttondown, skinny sortasilk shirt. Very Trendy.

It's hard to take him seriously, despite his intense manner and position. It's hard to take anyone seriously when you know they spent $80 to have someone pre-rip their jeans.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Stinky Cheese News

The nice folks at Harmoni called The Husband back today. For our pain and suffering, they will either refund our money, replace the cheese, or give us a credit toward something else we want. They also wanted the lot number so they could check the rest of the cheese. I have a feeling we will go for the credit and either have dinner at their bistro or clean out another shelf in the store. Or both.

We're heading back there on Sunday -- with the cheese, of course. It's getting all slimy in the zippy bag. I try not to look at it, but I'm worried it might start...crawling.

Another Way to Waste a Perfectly Good Hour

My new favorite site is I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? Because of this



blame Da Czelt and Da Jammies. Is all der fault. I no speeek Engrish no more.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Helpless

I need to get up and go to the grocery store, but I have major cat gravity right now. Four of six are napping right next to me, and two of six are napping adjacent to that.

I can barely breathe. It's amazing I can lift my fingers to type, but then I have very strong fingers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dieting Tip

Watching how processed foods are produced via a show like How It's Made is enough to keep me from eating most things that come in bags, boxes, or plastic containers. I sometimes prefer to be a part of the equation Ignorance = Blissful eating of cookies.

Oh, and stinky cheese will keep you from eating most things. We've decided the stink may be unnintentional and actual spoilage, so we've called the place where we bought it to lodge a small complaint/question. We shall see.

You can smell it through the ziplock baggie, too.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ooo, what's that Smell?

Yesterday after the movie, Evil Book Lady, her husband Testosterone on a Stick, The Husband and I wandered around College Park, one of the little subcities in Orlando. We were early for reservations, so we took a walk. One place we happened upon was called Harmoni, an Artisan Meal Market -- I love that word Artisan. Makes everything sound hand made by people in peasant shirts who lean against roughhewn stone walls -- where there was much goodness to be had, the free samples of bread and cheese being first among them.

The fellow behind the counter came out to point us at various goodies and recommend cheeses, jellies and breads. We aren't exactly experts on the subject of cheeses and wines, so we listened. We picked up some Ricotta Solida -- solid ricotta -- and some chili pepper jelly. The combination is delicious. The guy also recommended a little square of a goat cheese rolled in pecans. We like goat cheeses on the whole, so we spent the $13.00 and brought it home.

Today I decided to try it out. I got some of the good crackers and opened the plastic. While I was opening it, I noticed that the sink drain seemed a little stinky. The cheese looked good -- it was marked as "partially ripened" and I thought about how some cultures think eating cheese is disgusting because, to them, it is rotted milk. Those cultures tend to eat things that wiggle, because they are so fresh.

I spread the cheese on crackers and I took the plate to where The Husband was.

Me: There's a really rotten stink in the kitchen. Did you leave something in the disposal?

The Husband: Nope. (he walks into the kitchen, leans over the sink, and sniffs) I don't smell anything.

Me: That disgusting, rotted smell?

The Husband: Nope. (He takes one of the crackers, as do I). Is this the goat cheese?

Me: Yeah, I thought we'd try it. (I bite into it as he sniffs it)

The Husband: (sniffing) It's the cheese.

Me: (the taste, which matches the smell, hits me) BLEAHEAHEAHEAHEAHEAHEA!!!! (trying to spit out what was in my mouth)

The Husband: (backing away from the plate and the cheese) Oh good god, it's the CHEESE.

Me: ( spitting into the garbage) It tastes like AMMONIA! Gahhh! Beagh! YEARGH!

The Husband: It's a real, unholy, stinky, cheese.

Me: GAHHHHH!

The Husband: Mom will love this stuff. She loves a stinky cheese.

It took several swallows of water, three pieces of the ricotta, and two tablespoons of Nutella to remove the taste from where it clung, slime-like, to the back of my tongue. The deadly cheese is sealed in a ziplock bag, awaiting deportation to the MIL. It does not taste like ass. It tastes like ROTTED MILK WITH AN AMMONIA CHASER. I've smelled similar aromas near garbage cans and litter boxes. Neither stimulates my appetite. The memory makes me gag.

I don't feel the same about goat cheese anymore, either. And I'm going to regard friendly guys at Harmoni in a whole new light, too.

In the Minority of Popular Culture

We went to see "300" today. It was a very accurate depiction of the Frank Miller graphic novel (which is sitting on my coffee table). It was stylish and beautifully filmed. There were many a lovely male body to ogle, and a few females as well (what was the story with the eraser head nipples everywhere? Implants?)

It's possible I might let a spoiler go in here, but if you really are in ignorance about the Battle of Thermopylae and you can't guess how this movie ends, skip the rest of the post or kwitcherbitchin'.

I left the movie after about an hour. I already knew the story very well, so I wasn't really getting attached or interested in the characters (since the majority were going to die) anyway. After about an hour of stylized blood and slow motion gore, I was bored. Rampant displays of testosterone don't usually hold my attention for long, and that's mostly what this was. I got twitchy, I got bored, I went to the lobby and read my book. I checked back in a few times to see if anything interesting was going on. Nope.

Now, there's nothing wrong with this movie. In some ways its quite stunning. But there's nearly two hours of it, and, frankly, stunning wears off when there are no surprises. There are no twists, no turns, no "I never thought of that", no "I didn't see that coming." And, I should point out, I have not read the book. I've only glanced at a few pages. The story has been covered on The History Channel more than once and has been made into a movie at least once before, in the 1960s.

The characters are fairly flat, without much being shown of them as people. They are simple and scripted. Spartans are the big badass warriors, products of a ruthless social system that prizes a "good death" over everything else. The 300 Spartans who sacrificed themselves were heroes. OK, that's the story. That's ALL the story. There's not much else to grab onto or to pull you forward. The flat images of the characters combined with knowing their fate ahead of time to really disconnect me from what was going on. The bad guys were bad, the good guys were good, most everyone dies and Greece wins in the end. Can't we get this over with a little faster?

That's just not enough for me. Once I've seen the slow mo, almost 3-D blood spatter and the pencil-and-water-color reduction of the film, once I've seen the cleverly constructed CG scenes of torture and carnage, I need a little something to make me want to keep watching.

In some ways, the adherence to the book may have worked against the movie. There were tons of full face closeups (giant teeth and huge pores are overrated). Many scenes looked very much like comic book frames. Despite the action, the movie was visually claustrophobic and even static at times. It certainly did not hold my interest, and generally I get into movies like that.

I won't say it's bad. There are a lot of people who will think this is the greatest movie they see this year. I'm just not going to be among them.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Small Observation

The radio was playing selections from Madame Butterfly yesterday, which made me think about the post I made earlier this week. There are a lot of political interpretations that can be made using these idealized, romantic characters and situations. The opera has been decried as Anti-American and it certainly paints an unflattering picture of Pinkerton as cowardly, unfaithful, weak, and duplicitous, which by extension can be interpreted as meaning all Americans and the US itself are also. That's pretty insulting, really.

It is also one of the most performed and attended operas in North America. I'm thinking that maybe many opera lovers don't worry about interpreting their art and entertainment politically, or they can don't let a fictional story (even one based on actual events as Madame Butterfly is said to be) be insulting.

Media Consumption Meme

Lazygal has very kindly provided me with a meme so I don't have to do any thinking. Bless you, LG! I owe you cookies or something.

Web:

I'm online much of my day on any given day, but when I'm not (as in the past vacation at Tahoe) I don't really mind so much unless I'm suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to look something up. I occasionally have to do web-related stuff at work. That's an IE/Outlook/keystrokecounted environment, so I have a separate set of bookmarks there. At home it's all Firefox and Yahoo, with a Gmail address for more serious stuff. I don't use a feed aggregator because...well, I tried it and I just don't like condensed stuff. I like using my Bloggroll and checking what I feel like checking.

I'm online probably far too much, but I sort of self monitor and just stop roaming at times to do something else.

Radio:
NPR in the morning, in the car and at work, and often on the weekends. Otherwise, the local Jazz station or, occasionally, a rock station that has a wide range. On rare occasions I pick up the university station, but it's not a reliable transmission at this distance. I occasionally listen (to NPR) in the evenings for news.

TV:
It's on, and I'm sometimes watching it. I'm consistantly on the documentary and educational programming channels -- Discover, History, TLC. I will turn on Spike to catch my version of reality TV -- those Wildest Police Video shows just entertain me no end. I haven't watched a sitcom or TV drama series in well over 14 years, and I have NEVER willingly sat through an episode of ANY reality show. I just can't do it.

Movies:
Netflix, although I don't use it like I should for what I'm paying. I hate seeing movies in theatres, but will occasionally go with The Husband (reminds me, I need to find earplugs. We are planning to catch 300 this weekend). I use my PVR to catch stuff from TCM, Foxmovies, or the free movie channels we get. I own a LOT of DVDs, which I watch repeatedly. Movies are often background for me.

Communication:
I hate telephones and will rarely call someone or take a call. If you call me and I answer, you are among the priveledged few. If I call you, you are near to the top of my list of worthwhile people. After too many years working phones, I hate holding some little device next to my head, tying up a hand I could be using to do something while I'm talking, and I'm not much for headphones that tether me to one location or have a wire to tangle. I also resent heartily the assumption that I should drop whatever I am doing to answer a device that without fail makes an annoying noise (blame telemarketing computers). I prefer email or even texting because they wait until I want to talk. I am also still a fan of old-fashioned letter writing, although I don't do it so much these days because few people write back.

Did I mention I hate phones? Ok, I don't mine the IDEA of phones. I just don't want them bossing me around.


Books:
Let's just not go there, shall we? Go here, instead. Or here.

Magazines:
I subscribe to Poets & Writers, but I usually forget to read it. I pick up Real Simple fairly regularly, and Bead & Button less often. I'm just starting to get interested in The New Yorker, and I grab trashy fashion/women's magazines because, well, sometimes I get story ideas there.

Newspapers:
TAre there still newspapers? What news I don't get via radio, I read online.

Music:
Mood and need dictate what I listen to. At work, it's all classical music, (Aaron Copeland and John Rutter are favorites) since that's what the PBS station plays during the day. Lately I've gotten into electronica trance with a side trip through Arabic Lounge. I listen to Napster a lot to find new stuff (I'm deciding whether or not there are enough tracks I like to download more Black Eyed Peas). I am devoted to Tori Amos and The Chemical Brothers, Ella Fiztgerald and Deep Forest. And Sting.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Feh

I'm not happy with the previous post despite playing around with it for quite a while. I may take it down for being purely boring and convoluted without a license, but for a while yet it stands because I have nothing else to say.

I'm writing. I'll be back when I'm done.

How You Look At It

I don't read for politics. I don't watch movies or listen to music for politics.

When I say politics, I refer to the idea that a particular or specific depiction of a person, a small group, or an event has distinct reflections on some larger group of persons or set of events, especially as a judgement of said larger group's power, worth, value, or position in the world.

I'm perfectly capable ot extrapolating such things -- hell, I almost automatically parce what I see, read and hear along symbolic lines, trying to guess at what messages are being broadcast. I just don't do it politically. In fact, the whole practice is so foriegn to my manner of thinking that I find it hard to exactly express what it is I'm talking about not doing.

Let me pull up an example. There's a current news headline that Iran is taking severe offense at the movie "300" for depicting its civilization as...here, read the quote..."bloodthirsty savages".

Ok, I can see how someone could pull that up, just from knowing the story of Thermopylae and knowing a little about the graphic novel (I haven't seen the movie yet). Most movies run on a simply premise of bad guys vs good guys. In this case the bad guys are Persions and as far as the Spartans were concerned, they were pretty bad. Since the Persians lost their bid to conquer Greece, the Greeks were considered the winners and got to write history to show themselves off to best advantage. No one can really expect the Persians to feel warm and fuzzy about this.

Now we get to the politics. You have to set up translations and definitions to make it work, of course. You have to translate Xerxes and his army into modern day Iran. The Spartans, being the heroes in this tale, are the US and probably the UN, but mostly the US. So this whole movie is all about modern Iran and an intent to insult and inflame them.

Politics. To me that's a stretch. You sort of have to be out there fishing for insults to extrapolate that meaning from the material at hand. You have to be looking for some excuse to start yelling.

I see it in other places, too. Someone I know is reading a book I like, and when I read the comments on the book, I wasn't sure it was the same book. That reader saw the author as making a variety of negative statements about women in general, none of which I saw when I read the book. I saw one person's record of thought and experience which had little to nothing to do with me personally. I certainly didn't see it as the expression of an opinion by a particular group via the mouthpiece of the author, and I wasn't insulted in particular by it.

Of course, that whole mind set -- that someone somewhere is working actively to insult, degrade, humiliate and undermine me personal and all those people like me in general -- is one I don't share. It's one reason why anti-gay marriage and anti-abortion groups make no sense to me. What a gay couple do as far as living together has no effect on me or my marriage. Someone having an abortion does not affect my decisions or choices to have or not have children. Until someone tries to force a particular set of actions on me, it's a personal thing. We MAKE it political when we try to set up a single interpretation, a single set of acceptable actions, and then enforce it on all and sundry.

I just don't get it. If there's anything I think is universal, it's personal, individual responsibility and the idea that what one person does serves as an example to others who may chose or not chose to do the same. I try to live so that should anyone imitate me, it wouldn't worry me. I face the consequences of my actions, I take action with the thought of consequences in mind, and even if I don't forsee what happens, I try hard not to shy from the results. Yes, there are terrible people in the world who would hurt me or kill me for no other reason than I exist, but I do not choose to emulate them, nor am I compelled to emulate them.

We're a contradictory bunch, we human beings, capable of holding directly conflicting ideas in our heads and living as if both ideas were true. That, being born, and being subject to death may be all that really unites us as a species.

Maybe I just lack the particular kind of social awareness required for political interpretation of media and messages. Maybe I'm thickskinned and not easily insulted. Maybe I'm not smart enough to grasp the larger purposes of whichever "them" is being touted as the latest big evil. Mostly, I'm concerned with the micro, not the macro. I'd rather live as an example than harangue others to do or not do. I'm not interested in proving I am right to others in words. I'm also not very interested in labeling others, insulting them, or trying to control them other than to deflect their attempts to control me (which becomes a rather spiraling discussion in itself.

It's all in how you look at things. I don't really want to pull myself into the kinds of contortions it takes to get my panties into a twist.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Sun Is Trying To Kill Me

And it is, too!

I hate this whole daylight saving time thing. I've hated it since 1974. Ok, I was only 9, but I didn't like the whole thing. I had some notion it was what got Nixon in trouble -- all those sleep deprived people get cranky.

I don't buy the energy savings thing, either. Where I work, for example, there are exactly 4 offices without outside windows through which sunlight can be seen, and we still run the lights all day. The rest of the plant is cut off from outside light, and uses electricity. Many office buildings, factories, and stores are like this as well, continually lit electrically. The 30 minutes of 3 lights I use in the morning don't compare to this. My office is the ONLY one in the building that does NOT have the overhead lights on all the time -- I turn them off and use two smaller watt task lights. I've got a big, east facing window, and that's plenty of light for me.

And we are a society that works and plays 24 hours a day. Yes, maybe it's nice to have an "extra" hour of sunlight in the evening...so you can sit inside watching TV or playing on the computer. We turn on lights all day long, and even with energy saving bulbs, I don't think we're saving much.

Maybe I'm just cranky because I feel all messed up. I get used to moving more or less in time or in contrast with the sun (no matter how much I may like to ignore it). I feel most creative at night. That's my active time. When it's sunny and bright I feel guilty, like I should be out there enjoying it or some shit like that, or at least doing laundry. When it's dark -- and I mean good and dark, a few hours after sunset -- that's when I feel like settling down to read or write or work on something. And with the stupid time shift, by then it's bedtime and all that nice darkness is shoved into the morning when descent people are asleep. I also don't like the whole getting up in the dark thing. I also don't like the whole going outside thing. I sunburn. Fast. Like within 15-30 minutes. Why do I want MORE of the stuff?

There's another side to this, though, that interests me, and that's the absolute demonstration that our measurement of time is an arbitrary thing. Many times people confuse our perception and measurement of time with time itself. They act like clocks and calendars are some kind of absolute system of determination, a holy guidepost to reality, when really they are just tools humans created in our attempt to quantify something beyond ourselves.

I remember, years ago when I was about 13, I was in a little diner in Colorado that had an old fashioned cog-and-key clock. The clock was not set to DST and it was summer. Under the clock was a sign that said "God's Time". Even then I thought it was ridiculous, because what I knew of the Christian God never indicated he wore a watch or paid much attention to the passing of a day. The idea that the clock represented the sole and proper measure of Holy Time was ludicrous. If this God guy was everything I was being told, then all time was his and there was no particular style of measurement more preferable. It doesn't even consider the whole time zone thing. It was pure, brainless, patronizing posturing (the owners of the diner at that time being something of a relative of mine, I can say this with security).

Anyway, I'm gonna be out of sorts for a few days until I get settled in to my lost hour life...and then they will muck it up in November. Sheesh. And it's really all for the golfers, and -- I suspect strongly -- the grill and patio furniture lobbiests. Freaking addicts.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Roadkill

Today, Bosszilla ran over my brain and left it on the side of the street. Details (maybe) later.

Update: Ok, recovery has happened. Nothing bad occured, really. It's just that any time my boss attempts to dictate a complex letter while I type is a stressful situation. I type rapidly (especially when I don't give spelling any importance) but Bosszilla can talk VERY quickly. He also tends to repeat himself like a rap sample* before actually getting to the end of the sentence. It's like this..

Bosszilla: And per our last phone conversation when I said, when I said, when I said on the last phone conversation when I said that Tokyo would do this, you said that when we talked on the phone last and I said Tokyo would do this and then you said that...what I meant was...did you get that?

Me: Uh...could you repeat that last part?

It's enough to create an aneurysm, ya know?

*Note: Once upon a time I would have said "like a broken record" but even though it's a well known cliche, how many people out there actually remember what records are, much less understand what a scratched or broken record sounds like? Besides, broken records don't skip and repeat -- they rip the needle off the tone arm. I'm old.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We Now Pause for Fuzzy

It's not unusual for The Husband and I to commemorate a vacation with a stuffed animal (or two), in particular something unusual. So, The Husband bought me a teddy bear.

An ALPACA FUR teddy bear.

Softest. Thing. Ever.


Stop drooling.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And How Many in Two Months?

I heard it again today. X number of US soldiers were killed in Iraq today, the most in X months/weeks/days. I've heard it from several different news sources.

What does this mean? Seriously, what is this supposed to convey? I tend to catch most of my news on NPR in the morning, and they use that particular construction a lot. It has bothered me for a while, and today it bothered me enough to speak up. I sent an email to NPR to ask them about it, trying to express to them how much the phrase confused me and how it seemed to reduce the constant death toll in Iraq (and Afghanistan and other places) to some kind of sales statistic, and a flabby, useless statistic at that.

Words shape our understanding and experience of our world (try thinking about something without having a word come up in your head -- it's not easy, and the more word oriented you are, the harder it can be.) This particular phrase shows up a lot and I think it takes those deaths and puts a particular shade and shape on them, to make them manageable somehow. I'm not sure those deaths should be manageable.

OK, so nine soldiers died today, and nine soldiers dying in one day hasn't happened in four weeks. So four weeks ago, at least nine other soldiers died. If at least one but less than eight soldiers died each day, how many possible soldier deaths have taken place in the last month?

It sounds more like a math class word problem and less like what it is -- men and women putting themselves into danger for the political purposes of a government, men and women who are important to their families and friends, whose lives had meaning and purpose, who are gone now through violence, who are themselves perhaps committing violence and taking the lives of others in the style of conflict we call war.

I'm uncomfortable with that, even if it seems a very mild and nuanced sort of thing. I guess I think it should be more upsetting to more people.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

We'd have Wings

I realize that I don't like flying very much. First, I tend to feel queasy even if I'm by a window (if I'm not by a window, I feel far more than queasy. We shan't go into detail.) I mean, I enjoy being able to get to a far destination quickly. I do like looking down on the earth. The whole process is fascinating, nearly magical.

However, being pinioned into a tiny, uncomfortable seat in a crowded cabin with assaults of major B.O and/or perfume for hours at a time is NOT my idea of fun. I experienced both on yesterday's flight. On the first leg, someone -- we don't know who -- was wafting the scent of decaying Italian sausage through the cabin. It was positively stomach turning and even blowing stale cold air didn't help much. That was the 5 hours between Reno and Dallas. On the 2 hours between Dallas and Orlando, it was flowery, powdery, overwhelming perfume. Oh good gravy, if they won't let people carry bottled water onto the plane because it might be a weapon, why do they let strong body odors which ARE weapons on? I don't get it.

Anyway, all the kitties are well and accounted for, and lavished us with attention by draping over us when we finally fell into bed around 3 am. They have been attentive today, too. It's nice to be loved. It's nice to be home. It's nice to be mostly warm without undue attention to heating or clothing. However, it will be a day or so before I feel normal again.

Travel does that. I guess it's the "broadening" part.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Return to the Snowpantless Lands

I'm sitting in the Reno International Airport using Reno WiFi, which is slow but free. We have a few hours until our flight leaves so I'm taking advantage of my time to update.

Not that a lot really happened. My tubing adventure was my last official interaction with snow. My new mittens didn't even get a try out. Ah, me. It's sort of the way it works when we travel with MIL. You see, that whole "third wheel" thing is absolutely true, and strange as it might seem, I'm the accessory on these trips. The Husband and MIL go do things, and I sit at the room or whatever.

Now, it's not as bad as it might seem. It's just how it works out because, aside from shopping, MIL and I have limited things we like to do together. I don't ski and I really don't see the point in breaking/spraining/bruising anything to learn, much less spending the price of a lift ticket and equipment rental to try out new and exotic, snow-related methods of masochism. If humiliation and pain were really what I wanted, I could make that money go much further at Blowfish.com. The Husband, of course, likes to ski and such, and admits it is more fun to go with someone than to go by oneself, but he made a point of taking me out of the room sans MIL a few times. And I'm much accustomed to being on my own. I actually got some writing done (shock! amazement!) and mostly enjoyed myself.

Still, I suspect I shall not be volunteering to go on another of these trips. The Husband can go and I shall stay home, should it ever arise as a choice again.

The Reno airport has enough gambling machines to make a casino proud. They are pretty much the only ones I've seen, as casinos hold about as much attraction for me as attending frog dissections with a polka soundtrack. However, one of the machines nearby has this "Australia" theme and makes this sort of didgeree-doo noise every minute. No one seems to be playing any of the 17 machines in the space around our gate.

I'm seriously considering finding the noise maker and kicking it until it dies.

It's going to be a long day. With the three hour time change, we should be arriving somewhere around midnight, and then we have an hour drive home. Still, there's a lot to be said for being home.

I have seen something I didn't know existed. I-Pods now can be purchased from vending machines, along with just about every accessory you could want. I guess that's what they call "the future".