Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Grumble, grumble...

Stupid parking lot people! I'm a hale old veteran of the complain-to-get-free-stuff scene, but these folks ain't budging. That's OK...there is more than one way to skin a cat. (Sorry Cyn, but there is.) Now I switch to Plan B: Begin a campaign of constant nagging that never rises to an objectionable level but is extraordinarily annoying nonetheless. It might get me nowhere, but I'll enjoy the trip. :-)

My bro lent me the director's cut of "JRK", and I managed to watch about one-third of it before hitting the sack. BTW, let me just say for the record that portable DVD players rock, particularly when you use your boyfriend's for which you paid nothing. Just in case you were wondering.

Good weekend, BTW. In reverse, here's what I learned.

- Egg nog ice cream is tasty with chocolate cake. (But then, isn't anything?)
- Conshohocken sucks, even if nice people live there.
- Positano's tiramisu is not the equal of Dan's mom's.
- Meat pies made from corpses can be fun! (Although I'll bet they don't go well with chocolate cake.)

Oh, and I heard A Feast for Crows is finally on its way to becoming a real book, and not just something for which I've waited for five years. Yay!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I heard about this on NPR this morning, and I laughed my head off. I realize that punishing sexual offenders is all the rage nowadays, but this is just silly. Personally, I don't care if sexual offenders use Medicaid to get Viagra or not, but to imagine that officials were "scrambling" to prevent it...well, that explains my laughter. I'm pleased that our elected officials are focused on important things like whacking sexual offenders into the dirt and pissing contests over judicial nominees, and not on trivialities like falling wages, the rising cost of health care and the mounting death toll in Iraq.

BTW, if you're wondering right now why I'm taking the side of sexual offenders, you are thinking foolishly or not at all.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Girding for battle!

Heh...my parking garage lost power this weekend, trapping my car inside when I needed it. I was amazed that a business that runs mostly on 19th century technology has, apparently, no way to manually raise a gate to allow cars to leave, and I told them so. Anyway, today I phoned to speak with the manager about it, and to my delight she put the phone down on her desk, refusing to speak with me, and then left it off the hook, thus foiling callbacks.

Evidently, this chick doesn't realize with whom she's dealing. I mentally spat on my hands and got down to business, relishing this fight the way I might a chocolate-covered graham cracker. After about twenty minutes of some high-powered telephoning, I had the name of the manager's boss, that boss's boss, and his boss, although I am disappointed to report I didn't get to speak with any of those folks today. That's OK. In these situations, you can usually turn delay to your advantage, so waiting 24 hours is nothing. I'm going for a month's free parking...I'll post updates as things transpire.

Oh, I saw "Sith" again last night, and enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time. Sarcasmo, however, pointed out that the Obi-Wan/Anakin saber fight would have been much more interesting had they fought it barechested. If that fight could also include spandex shorts, I concur.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Newsweek relied on less-than-trustworthy sources in printing a false story that caused the US some embarrassment, and the Bush administration goes nuts. The Bush administration relied on less-than-trustworthy sources in promoting a war that caused the deaths of more than 1600 American soldiers.

Now, with that in mind, understand my stunned disbelief at what I'm hearing on NPR's "Radio Times" as callers complain about the reckless media. Bush got it wrong about war and he got rewarded in November 2004. Newsweek got it wrong about flushing a book down a toilet and people are assembling the crucifixion tools. Does this cause anyone else to want to run bitch-slapping down Market Street?

BTW, "Revenge of the Sith" was quite good. Of course the dialogue sucked and the characters flat, but that's a part of the "Star Wars" legacy so get over it. Good action, good visuals, and a nice completion to a story begun nearly thirty years ago, may the Seven protect us. Go see it.

Back to politics. Until now, I've been operating under the uneasy conclusion that Bush and Company did not lie about Iraq; rather, they looked at the data in a very biased manner and read there what they wanted to read. I'm beginning to suspect, however, that I've been far too generous in my estimation of their behavior. I think they knew, or at least suspected strongly, that there was no real cause for war other than, "We wanna get that Saddam guy." I think they hoped they'd find evidence of WMD's, and they carefully crafted the intelligence to make it seem as though such evidence existed. Yeah, yeah, I know that even Bill Clinton believed those weapons existed, but keep in mind that Bill Clinton didn't try to invade Iraq either. Maybe he knew that his administration could not meet the high standard of evidence required to justify the historically unprecedented step of preemptively invading another sovereign nation. Unless, you know, they cooked the evidence.

Hans Blix and his UN compatriots, who were in Iraq just before the invasion, said they weren't finding the weapons Bush said he was sure were there. A prudent leader would have taken this warning to heart, and stayed his hand until confirming evidence emerged. That did not happen. Bush charged ahead, evidence (or lack of same) be damned After the invasion, a humble leader would have admitted the intelligence was bad and taken responsibility for the mistakes of his administration. That did not happen. Bush instead blamed the CIA, and all of his lieutenants pointed out that "grave and gathering", which is how Bush described Iraq's threat potential, was not the same as "imminent." Given this colossal blunder, a wise leader would have learned that military force should be used only extremely reluctantly. That certainly did not happen. Bush is now rattling the saber against Iran, and perhaps next against Syria.

Bush is not prudent, humble, or wise, and I'm starting to think he's not even honest. He lied.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ick, ick, ick

There's a woman in my office who was morbidly obese and very dedicated to losing weight. I appreciate that. In my opinion, everyone should have a healthy concern about his/her health. This woman decides to have her stomach stapled. I tried to be open-minded about this, but I can't get past, "Are you out of your fucking skull?"

I realize that stomachs can shrink and expand according to one's habitual food intake, and I am sure that can present a hurdle for those accustomed to eating large amounts who are now trying to cut back. However, there's got to be a better way to overcome that hurdle that getting a doctor to surgically seal off part of your stomach. Really. Try yoga, or meditation, or appetite suppressants, or perhaps something as blazingly brilliant as willpower. That's a cheaper, safer, and healthier alternative to non-medically-necessary surgery.

I lost 40 pounds myself back in 1997, so I know that losing weight isn't easy. It requires time, commitment, and a brand-new approach to eating. It does not, however, require a scalpel, anesthesia, and catgut. I suggest that the first three are easier, safer, and in the long run, a more permanent solution to obesity.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Yay me!

I just checked the NJIT Web site, and discovered that I got a big ol' "A" in my design class. Not bad, considering I approached this course with all the enthusiasm of a 14-year-old disinherited Targaryen princess facing marriage to a fearsome Dothraki khal. (For the uninitiated, that's really reluctant.) You can look here for samples of my work, if you're interested.

Since beginning grad school, I have been surprised by the relative incompetence of many of my classmates. I used to have this quaint notion that grad school weeded out those undergrads who were genuinely motivated and talented from those who merely knew how to work the rules. More fool I. Some of the work displayed by my classmates has been, well, fairly amateurish, and in a few cases not worth even of an undergraduate. Dan says he found much the same thing when he was earning his Master's. I don't know if that means we are very talented, or that lots of our peers just suck.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

My thoughts on a bad movie

Yesterday I had a yen to see a bad movie, so off to TLA I went. On the way, I decided that I wanted something in the man versus nature genre, so I selected "The Day After Tomorrow." Premise: Mankind, having fucked up the planet with pollutants and what have you, gets bitch-slapped by the green hand of Mother Nature with another ice age.

This movie is everything a bad Hollywood movie should be. It has a cheesy lead actor (Dennis Quaid), an unlikely premise (an ice age develops in three days), and a boring but non-offensive romance (the protaganist's son and some chick). As you know, many Hollywood action flicks use the old disaster-force-is-right-behind-you scene. Sometimes that force is rushing water, the flames of an explosion, or lava...doesn't matter which. In "Day After", it was temperature. Yes. Coldness was chasing them down a hallway. I guess that's exciting...to stupid people! This movie also had the moment of selfless heroism, in which a character sacrifices himself so that the rest may live. Dennis Quaid and I both screamed "No!"; he with anguish, me with delight. Finally, the film had the requisite moral message, which was "pollution bad."

Perhaps my favorite part of this film was the appearance of the wolves, who having escaped from the NYC zoo earlier in the film, showed up at the most opportune moment. Not only were the wolves rendered in bad CGI, they were clearly evil. Even caged and well fed at the movie's beginning they were vicious; by the time Manhattan was a frozen tundra they were downright malevolent. And rather slow and clumsy, I might add. Jake Gyllenhaal is cute, but he ain't outrunning a real wolf pack without divine assistance, nor is he likely to fool them with the old "fake left, go right" maneuver.

Anyway, the film was thoroughly bad and thoroughly enjoyable. Thank you, Mr. Emmerich, for making the kind of pablum that keeps the crowds out of my independent movie house. Keep it up, chum.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My thoughts on libertarianism

Ugh...remember, my blog, my rules, so no one is allowed to get offended by this post.

I'm listening to a debate on health care, and one of the debaters is from the Cato Institute. Predictably, he thinks private health accounts are the solution. Naturally, he doesn't have an answer for those folks who are too poor to put away any significant amount of money. His response brings to mind what I find is a certain naivete among libertarians. It's easy to say, "Hey, if you can't afford your own health care, you go without," but that is simply not realistic in terms of today's America. Very few Americans are going to cold-bloodedly condone leaving people to die, so what happens is that those who can't afford health care simply go on welfare and use Medicaid. That, or they use ER care, which is alot more expensive than preventative care. Either way, the taxpayers are footing the bill, so I say let's foot the bill in the most fiscally and morally responsible way and just figure out some way to insure everybody.

Truth be told, I find the libertarian point of view a bit naive in general, at least where it concerns government regulation. Think of the many ways the government has regulated the free market: workplace safety, child labor, minimum wage, anti-trust ...do any of these seem bad? Would anyone seriously argue that these governmental interventions have made society worse? I realize that governmental action has not always been well intentioned or well executed, but at the same time I don't think regulation is the monster in the closet, either.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Just what you wanted! Advice!

This post is about advice for drivers and pedestrians. Enjoy!

- If you don’t use the crosswalk when crossing the street, drivers making a turn often cannot see you until the last moment. Considering that most cars dramatically outweigh most pedestrians, that’s bad.

- Jaywalking in high-traffic areas is advisable only when you’re willing and able to run.

- You’re allowed to cross on green and yellow, but not on red. Red means you wait.

- Shouting, cursing, or giving the finger to a person in command of a vehicle that is stronger, faster, and harder than you is a bad idea. Really bad.

- Signal your turns before you make them, not as you make them.

- Yielding to pedestrians means more than not injuring them. It means that they get to cross on a green light before you get to turn on it. If you don’t like that, take it up with the legislature and not with pedestrians.

- You’re allowed to proceed on green and yellow, but not on red. Red means you stop.

- Tailgating is never, ever a good idea. No matter how quickly you think you can brake, it’s probably not quick enough.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Sometimes I Google my name, but today I decided to Google my name in Google images.

My picture was the first hit. And it's a bad picture. Save me.

The lesson for the day...

I don’t know why this memory came to me, but here it is. Eight or nine years ago, when I used to work in Center City (oh, happy day!), I stopped into a stationery store to buy a fancy-shmancy pen. The boy behind the counter was pretty cute and, so I thought, about my age. Being single at the time and very flirty, I employed conversational gambit #1, which involved asking if he graduated from my high school in 1987. Of course I knew he didn’t, but it was something to say. He stared and replied, “No…God, do I look that old?”

I glared. “Uh, I am that old.” He stammered an apology, probably thinking I was going to complain to the manager or something, and I took my leave. As soon as I hit the street I found that he’d given me too much change, as if I’d given him a twenty instead of a five. Now I had a decision to make: Let that smartass kid get toasted for his own mistake when they totted up the registers, or be charitable and return the money.

Oddly, I chose charity. I went back in, found him, handed over the money and explained to him what had happened. He said, “Wow…thanks! That was really nice of you, especially since I called you…uh…”

“Old,” I said flatly. “You called me old.”

See what charity gets you?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Another miscellany

Yesterday, while at the Equality Forum street festival, I stopped to listen to Repent America. In case you didn’t know, they’re one of the Christian groups that appears at every gay pride event and tells us how bad we are. Anyway, the leader of the group was saying that, in a Muslim nation, we wouldn’t be allowed to have this event, presumably to showcase how loving Christians are. I thought, “Hmm…saying you’re better than Osama bin Laden really isn’t much of a recommendation.” I think Repent America needs to work on their image, because the tag line, “Better than those wacky Muslim fanatics” just isn’t working.

Can I say how glad I am to be an atheist? I don’t need to go to boring weekly rituals, or abstain from certain foods on certain days, or give up anything (like chocolate or soda) to show how pious I am, or be forgiving of my enemies. That last one really comes in handy during debates with Christians, too, particularly if they’re of the crazy fundamentalist Christian variety. You know they just want to smack you, but since they think God’s watching they can’t.