Oct 31, 2006



There's been a wee glitch with the Knitty Calendar contest and I now have to choose an alternate for one of the months. Could you please send me the attached image at full resolution, uncropped? I need to see the quality of the image up close before I can make a final decision.

Thanks in advance for your help!


That's great, sure, I will send them when I get home (I'm at work and these are on my home machine).

I thought the calendar was already printed and done and for sale?




Um, yeah. But it's print-on-demand, which means that only those ordered are printed. It's quite an awkward situation, but one of the photos didn't print well, and that's why I have to do this. Until it's fixed, the calendar is out of the shop. But I love this photo of yours and it would do very well in June as long as the resolution is high enough. So you'd be slid in as a runner-up winner, if all goes well.

I'll be looking forward to seeing this picture tonight!


Oct 29, 2006

Cable Crack on Comcast

During the time I had set aside to post a blog entry on something important, I instead got sucked into watching the Discovery Health Channel. When I say sucked, I probably mean more like dragged or magnetized. All I know is that I had a basket of laundry in my hands and was about to go upstairs, and all of a sudden Manar's Story: Born with Two Heads comes on and I'm sitting on the edge of the ottoman for the rest of the night.

Here are some of the reasons why I could watch this channel all day, every day:

Medical Incredible
Mystery Diagnosis: The Man who Never Sweats
Secrets of the Great Plague
When Surgical Tools get Left Behind
Plastic Surgery: Before and After
Archie the 84-lb Baby
Surviving Sextuplets
Born Without a FACE

...and that's only this week.

Oct 24, 2006

Time to Choose: "Good," "Evil," or "Don't Know"

After Yoga on Sunday, I went to Essene (the local health food market that I usually call Obscene because it is so expensive. I went because they have an organic prepared food bar where you can eat lunch and also get a good dose of East-Bay-slash-Co-Op nostalgia due to the combination of aromas: cumin, coffee, and Seventh Generation cleaning products. Usually I try to eat and hit the road to get on to my next thing, but this time I took the newspaper and just sat and read it for a while.

I almost never seem to allow myself this pleasure. If we got the newspaper at home regularly, I'd never read it because I'd look for a spot to sit down and spread it out, and then wind up cleaning up the dining room table which would lead to emptying the dishwasher* and doing the laundry and then I'd forget what I started doing, which was trying to RELAX.

Anyway, I was at Essene reading the Weekly or the City Paper, and I gravitated away from articles about the midterm elections and towards the article about rich kids on drugs. The article talked about how Bucks County kids (the ones who are typically richer and more suburban that Philadelphia County kids) are coming down to "the badlands" of North Philly to score horse.

It seems that these kids feel that HEROIN is ok to do, and even carries great status-elevating power, because now that the Colombians are in charge it comes so strong you can just snort it instead of shooting it up. So now, just like cocaine was in the 80s, it's sort of a faddish designer drug among rich high school kids. Oh, except it kills you dead faster and much more often.

This got me all depressed because one of my favorite activities is to think about how my future children will become screwed up either by me or by the world we live in.

Once I had a conversation with Anna about where we would send our kids to school. I remember her saying that she'd just suck it up and send her kids to private school because she wanted them to be safe and not distracted by violence and crappy inner-city issues. I remember thinking that I would send my kids to public school, but not for the reasons you are all thinking. I am no martyr, and if a public school is no good, I certainly wouldn't send my child on principle (even though I believe in public schools in general and think we should not abandon them even if we can afford to pay).

The real reason I would send my kids to public school is that I'm afraid of rich kids. Rick kids can get in a lot of trouble, and rich bored suburban kids even more so. I almost went to private school for high school, because it was close and appealing to my parents. Instead I went to school with Megan at Van Nuys Math/Science Magnet, and became an honorary Asian person for awhile.

Our school was big and full of non-native speakers of English. There were two kinds - those in the magnet, who were typically raised by parents who valued good grades above all else and transferred their values to their kids, and the other kind whose parents were probably trying to make ends meet and who plodded along in ESL and then maybe joined the army. I didn't figure into either category particularly well, but was mostly in the former.

I basically hated high school. I felt it was alienating and weird and was a recipe for poorly socializing nerds and ambitious pre-meds. I had no school spirit to speak of and never went to football games or dances. We had our little group of friends and that was gonna have to be enough.

But all in all, I am not sure I would have chosen to go to private school with people who were "more like me." In this case, "more like me" means people who lived in my neighborhood on the westside, were white and the grandchildren of immigrants rather than immigrants themselves, whose parents could afford to pay for private school.

I was scared of those kids. Ever since I saw a 60 minutes episode about how the relative rich public school in the Palisades (Pali High) was overrun by drug addicts. I knew people who went to Crossroads, which was a sort of hippy-dippy touchy-feely school that was a favorite among kids of celebrities, and they were SCREWED UP people, in general - many of them alcoholics or addicts.

So I guess what I'm getting at is, what's a person to do with one's future unborn children? Everywhere has the potential to screw them up! New York is too racy, the midwest is dangerous because they will grow up smokers and have sex early, L.A. is too sprawling and weird and they will probably be in a car crash. If my kids are ugly and unstylish, they'll be unhappy. If they're pretty and popular, they'll get pregnant early or wind up among the secretly-bad-that-no-one-knew-how-bad-until-it-was-too-late.

Should I hope my kids come out total nerds with no friends so no one will corrupt them? No, right? I agree that exploring this is ludicrous at this point, but please humor me and comment.

* Actually, I don't empty. I just fill. I fill and T.J. empties. We figured that I was better at the slow-drip tasks, and he was better at defined, periodic tasks.

Oct 21, 2006

A Minor Setback

This morning I awoke to find that I did not win the Knitty 2007 calendar contest.

Here's who did - I mean, these photos are nice and all, but I don't get it.

Oct 17, 2006

It doesn't count as a "road trip" if it's for work.

Today, I drove three hours to D.C., spent 5-1/2 hours onsite, and then drove four hours back. In the rain. In traffic. Here's what happened while I was driving.

Morning. I had to blow my nose and all of a sudden realized I had NOTHING on which to blow it. I had already nixed the idea of stopping at the Chesapeake House for coffee since I had to make up for lost time (the lost time being the time I was still sleeping instead of driving this morning). I even decided to go through the EZPass lanes at the tollbooths instead of paying cash (although that meant I would not get receipts to turn in for reimbursement and now I'll have to forge something or write up some sob story about how the receipts flew out the window), so there was no time to waste looking for tissue outside my own car. Finally, I found something in the glove compartment that looked like a minipack of babywipes, all dried out with age. Perfect! Except it wasn't babywipes, it was some type of freshen-up wipes for after the gym, and the pack smelled like it used to be saturated with Axe Bodyspray. I had no choice, so I blew my nose and then smelled the overpowering Axe-type smell with newly-cleared sinuses and almost threw up in my own lap.

No stopping for Dubin! No Cinnabons, no coffee, no nothing. Also, since I only drive about 65, I had to make up some time for that as well. I usually go down there with Eeyore ,who drives like a madman so we get there in 2-1/2 hours even with the pitstops. This morning it took me three hours and when I finally showed up I found that I had missed the whole meeting but really that's not important for reasons I won't bother to explain here.

Skip forward past the working part to the next interesting agenda item:

Lunch. We ate with the client and the contractor at the cafeteria of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, the site on which our building is located. If you use your imagination, you can envision what it is like to eat lunch at a cafeteria that is painted pepto-bismol-pink all over (David O. noted that it must be "preemptive") and is full of retired soldiers. These guys are all old, some of them friendly, some of them ornery, and almost none of them female. We sat a table with one of the chaplains. I ate the sloppy joe with tater tots and drippy peas. The contractor had the fried fish slab with 6 oz. of tartar sauce on top, plus tots and drippy corn. David O. chose the cream of asparagus soup as well as something that looked like a salad he fabricated at the salad bar except that it was made of gherkins, pineapple chunks, beets, grated cheese, and marshmallows. The main topic of conversation was about whether you should be unequivocal with your teenage children about forbidding drug and alcohol use in all cases, or whether it would help to be realistic and try to teach moderation. I voted for unequivocal, but then again it's all academic to me so I can say whatever I want because I don't have scary teenage kids yet.

Skip the rest of the work day except the part where the contractor is asking me how he's supposed to install a duct in an existing soffit if I didn't indicate any demolition work at that soffit. I said, "Just shove it in there." He was like, "Just shove it in there?" and I was all, "yeh, just stick it in there." This is actually architect/contractor humor because he wanted me to admit that I forgot to indicate demo and patching, and I was trying to be retarded so we could move on to the next topic.

Evening. Driving home, there was plenty of time in traffic to choose which pledge drive I felt like listening to. I actually even listened to Christian Radio for a good half-hour because it was an allegorical kid's story told by animals and I was in the mood. I scanned around and heard a bunch of evocative songs before I got home:

    1. Scenes from an Italian Restaurant. Erica Dunn was the only one besides me who would admit liking Billy Joel in college. Either that or she was the only other person who actually liked Billy Joel, admission notwithstanding, but anyway we had that in common. We would occasionally go jogging up at that track... you know, that track that was kind of up on the hill but I don't even remember who owned it or where it was exactly, or why I went there for that matter because I hate jogging. But I remember Erica and singing Scenes from an Italian Restaurant while running around it. It's a catchy song.

    2. More than a Feeling. I don't need to expound too much on this, because everyone knows that I love Boston and that the 1976 debut album (best-selling debut album of all time, et cetera) is my favorite album. Tom Sholtz is my favorite pomp-rock boyfriend for obvious reasons. The first song on the album has special meaning for me because when I was running the Bay-to-Breakers (why am I running in all these stories?? I HATE running and I am a crap runner!) and I came up the last 500 yards towards the ocean, there were enormous speakers blasting this song and it literally propelled me across the finish line, I'm telling you. Christine and I would eventually harness the energy of the debut album for various late-night wallpaper-removing episodes at the Hazel House.

    3. Drown (Son Volt). This is from the 1995 album Trace and it was being played on some "eclectic" radio station between two other songs that had nothing to do with it. I think they played it because the song starts with, "Sky cracks open..." and the DJ was being cute about how it was raining all day. When I first got exposed to "alt. country" in the summer of 1999, it didn't catch on with me right away. In fact, I remember Sauce saying, "Oh, man, I wish I could produce and sell this stuff because it's like GOLD!" and thinking he was just being such a guy about it all. But somehow, Wilco, Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt and their ilk crept up on me. Now hearing them reminds me of the Alabama summer.

    4. Brown-Eyed Girl. This song always makes me think of Mandy F. Although it's not my favorite Van Morrison song, I like that line about, "cast a memory back there, Lord, sometime I'm overcome thinking 'bout making love in the green grass, behind the stadium with you ..." If you can excuse the earnest use of the phrase "making love," this line is an example of how evocative his lyrics often are... cast a memory back there, sometimes I'm overcome. Also, the song reminds me of visiting Mandy and Heather in Brookline, when they lived in that big house, except now that I think about it Mandy wasn't there at all, it was just me and Heather walking back from Trader Joe's in the warm rain, dropping wine bottles through wet paper bags onto the pavement.

Anyway, that's about it for the travelog. The gas light came on 50 miles out from the Hess near my house, and I just went for it. I rolled in on fumes, filled the car, bought a pack of gum, parked in the rain. T.J. made me dinner - some type of teriyaki tilapia that he copied off of Nate, who served the same thing last night, but it was GOOD, though! Thank you, Teej. You're nice... now I will brush my teeth while reading Capella/Bob/Megan and go to bed full... all in all not such a bad day, as workdays go...

Oct 10, 2006

Abraham Lincoln playing Chess with a Beaver

Sometimes your dreams will really betray you.

The other night I had a dream that my boyfriend was Jeff from this season's Project Runway.


Don't worry, in the dream, he got laser surgery and it was gone. Seriously.

I told T.J., who said,

"I knew I hated that guy."

Oct 8, 2006

That's not the way it should be

I begin this post with the ending: I wound up with an O.B. tampon sticking out of my left ear on Friday. See, I'm playing with chronology, Pulp-Fiction-style.

I had to stick the O.B. tampon in my ear because I didn't have my squooshy ear plugs that I've started carrying around in my purse. I could have stuck a tampon in each ear, but that would have looked silly. So I opted for just the ear nearest where the offending noise was coming from. Why would a full-grown woman stick a tampon in her ear? What sound could be so terrible as to warrant doing such a thing in an office setting?

I was down in the D.C. office on Friday, working with a very upstanding, kind, and capable human being for whom I have nothing but respect. There is something military about him, like he might call you "ma'am" or say "yes, sir" to people. He's quite clean-cut and totally polite.

So anyway, I was down there on Friday helping him with a project. I was frustrated because I had gone all the way down there and got very little done, given that the computer wasn't connecting to our network and I spent most of the day crawling around on the floor plugging and unplugging different cables to different data ports to see which link was the broken one. At just about the time where I felt like giving up (which is essentially never, for me, I mean I NEVER give up), my colleague goes and pops in a piece of gum and starts cracking it over at his desk.

For those of you who are not imaginary and who actually know me, you know this is my most major pet peeve. When I can actually hear the sound, however faint, of gum moving around in anyone's mouth, I get irate. I literally get a homicidal feeling if I hear popping sounds. I know something's wrong with me, I've known it for a long time. But I'll be damned if I know what to do about it.

Colleague is over there cracking his gum, and the blood is rising in my head. My life is flashing before my eyes, and I'm testing out alternate scenarios for making it stop:

"Uh, excuse me, but can you do me a favor and stop cracking your gum? Sorry, It's a pet peeve of mine and I will actually kill you shortly if you don't, so taking it out will be a win-win situation for both of us.

"Uh, excuse me, but well, um, it's kind of hard to explain, but you seem like a nice understanding person, and uh, well, the thing is that the gum, I just can't take it, I hope you understand, I need you to take it out, yeh, um, I hate to be a bitch, but, yeh, I know it's just gum, uh, but I don't want to go back to jail so please, just trust me...


This is a really sad story for me, because this kind of reaction has haunted me forever. My mom used to love telling me I had a tolerance problem. I do have a tolerance problem.

Thank God for Kelly Feighan. The other day Kelly and I were sitting in a diner with some friends we ran into at the flea market, and somehow the topic turned to pet peeves. When Kelly admitted that she absolutely can't stand the sound of people drinking from water bottles with squirt-tops, I fell in love with her.

She went on to describe... "You know, people create a suction between their mouth and the bottle top, and then when they break the suction it makes this cracking sound when the plastic pops back into shape, followed by a moist whooshing sound coming off their lips. It's horrible." Then we went on to admit that we both routinely change seats on the train if anyone's making any horrible noises, or talking too loud on their cell phones. I am really glad to know it's not just me.

Now, no need to get all oversensitive around me for fear you'll piss me off. I'm a reasonable person. Just stay away from the gum, the cell phone, all water bottles, toenail clippers, nail files, chalk, packing tape, and anything else inexcusable, and we'll continue getting along just fine.

Oct 3, 2006

Some of you feel sorry for this LÅMP

Remember that commercial where there's a sad looking desk lamp that gets put out on the curb, and the happy homeowner is seen bringing in a new Ikea lamp and setting it up inside? And then it starts to rain, and the inside looks so warm and inviting and there's the old lamp, its neck bent shamefully downwards, getting rained on next to the garbage can. The narrator comes in all of a sudden and goes (in a Scandi accent): "Some of you feel sorry for this lamp. But you are crazy!..."

WAIT, why am I trying to describe this when we have YouTube????


I was thinking about the lamp commercial because I was thinking about the mysterious life-like properties of things that are clearly not alive. The idea of objects having feelings is interesting. Some people know that the lamp has no feelings, but we still feel sorry for it because it's sort of anthropomorphic. I started thinking about how women are probably more likely to feel sorry for the lamp than men are, and lo and behold I came across this when I was searching for the video: "Women Feel Sorry for Lamps and Old Chairs and Shit."

While it totally cracked me up, it fell into the category of "It's Funny Because it's True." Not all of it, I mean whoever wrote it is probably a fifteen-year-old virginboy. My favorite part is:

"What if someone came in and took one of those objects away — for repairs or something? As a man you would think this was jolly good. Most things need repairing after all. It’s good to know some man is doing it and not some woman. A woman, however, women would be heartbroken.

“The poor item!” she would say. “He’s being taken away from all his other item friends!”
But it IS true that women seem more likely to tacitly understand the living qualities of the unalive. I mean, just Saturday afternoon when Courtney and I were at the flea market, I found myself asking a guy if one of his lamp globes could come with me, or if he had to stay with his friends the other lamp globes. I just meant, can I break up the set, you know? I wasn't even trying to be cute. And the guy was like, "Uh, yeh, he has to stay with his friends..."

Closely related is the question of why some objects seem to be universally satisfying and some seem just unsatisfying in a way that one can't articulate. Here are some examples:

Satisfying: cue ball, key, jade plant, Ipod, bowling pin, Rubik's Cube, bubble wrap, hard-boiled egg, brick, wheel, gear, pint glass.

Unsatisfying: dry-erase marker, futon, toothbrush, zucchini (ok, that's not universal, but I hate it), plastic bag, dry cement, toilet paper roll, coaster, CD-case, shower curtain.

I know I'm not alone in subconsciously assessing daily objects for this intangible quality of being "satisfying." It gets even more interesting when you start talking about totally abstract things like numbers, letters, or colors. This morning, our intern Kristen and I were talking about my OCD quiz, and she asked me why I didn't prefer 2 or 6 or 8 to 3. She claimed that 2 is nicer, and 6 or 8 are even better because they are even-numbered groupings, and groupings are nice and everything's nice and even. I was pretty horrified, 'cause 6 and 8 aren't even prime, and here she is saying they're awesome. Likewise, she was really appalled that I like 7 as maybe my second favorite, which she finds completely hideous and pointy.

What is your opinion? Are you a guy who has friends on your shelf? Are you a woman who throws out familiar objects with abandon? Is it a gender thing? If so, I prefer to think of it as a positive thing to have a rich imaginary world of good and bad, but it definitely has its shortcomings when you really want to run around the park clockwise, but you can't... because... well, because of G-d and his pesky counterclockwise mandate.

P.S. I noticed at services on Yom Kippur that my prayerbook actually spelled out God. Is that because we went to the reform services? The Rabbi was definitely a stinky hippie, but I still didn't know you were allowed to spell out His name in a book.

Oct 1, 2006

Blogger Atrophy

I've noticed my sister isn't posting so often, and I can totally understand. You think to yourself, how do I do what Megan does? She has such stamina. Younger Dubin pointed out that Meg has something brilliant to say almost every day, and I said I hoped it was because she was slacking nicely at her state government job. Secretly I suspect it doesn't really take her that long to drop her wisdom, so maybe she actually gets work done, too.

Right now, T.J. is sitting behind me facing the opposite direction. I am at my desk and he is at his. And he is playing World of Warcraft. That's right kids, T.J. has gotten himself involved in the Massively Multiplayer game world, which means that instead of playing Oblivion or Table Tennis downstairs on the Xbox 360, he's upstairs playing WoW on his new lappy. I already made him wear earphones while he's doing it, so I don't have to listen to all the sounds of monsters and animals getting whacked with swords. I want to spend time with him, but I don't think we should become the kind of couple who sit facing opposite directions playing the same game at the same time in the same fake universe.

Maybe what this means is that I should escape by going back downstairs and having my own reunion with the 360. I hear that Dance Dance Revolution is coming out for it -- all I would need would be the game and one dance pad... in case... anyone's... listening... who wants to buy me a present.