Friday, March 31, 2006

How to get little CC to sleep.

Jess tells a story about getting her son to sleep when he was a baby.

When CC was a kid, she slept with a smurf doll named Mr. Smurf. When she cried at night, her Dad would make Mr. Smurf talk. Mr. Smurt had a gruff voice and would bark that he had been dreaming about eating a double chocolate sundae with whip cream, and he was just about to eat it when CC's crying woke him up!

The CSO says that all my snuggly childhood stories sound like child abuse to him...


Snacks for an office where people don't eat

Today, one of the ladies in my office brought in doughnuts. I had one, but most people in the office prostested loudly that they shouldn't/couldn't eat something like that.

It's high time I brought in something. Should I assume that they were protesting too much and bring doughnuts or cookies? Or should I bring in something healthier? If so, what's a healthy office snack?


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sweet mother of all that's swell

Laurie King has a blog!

who is having trouble sleeping and is up watching "House." They think it is lupus. They ALWAYS think it's lupus.

CC coulda been famous.

I pitched almost exactly this idea (my version was "24 hours in WalMart) to my editor four years ago when I was a reporter. I even offered to not put in for overtime.

My editor said it was stupid and turned me down flat. Now this kid is famous.




Jill Carroll is OK!

doing a little desk dance

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It's the chastity, isn't it?

According to the Washington Post, the Catholic church is having nun-recruitment issues.

I like the phrase "spiritual fortitude" and wish I had more of it.


A new, but irrational, reason to dislike Anne Lamott

Longtime readers know that I'm not a fan of Anne Lamott's. I once detailed my reasons why extensively but Anne herself is now adding to the list.

She wants to have a cheesy hippie revolution on July 14.

This is annoying for at least two reasons that are obvious at 1:30 at night:

1. The last revolution that started on Bastille Day didn't go too well for anyone involved.

2. A hippie revolution in July 14 means everyone in America will be too stoned to remember my birthday the following day, and we all know how bitchy I get when that happens.

That said, I should not allow anyone to believe that Anne Lamott is the true enemy of this blog. After all, Nora Ephron sucks so much harder.


Show me how much you love theChaliceblog. Buy me a $12,000 antique doodad.

If anybody has an extra $12,000 lying around, I would really love to have an actual cipher machine from the second world war.


Come on...



CC ponders what murder must look like from God's perspective

This started as two responses to Peacebang'sreally good thread on Universalism and God's forgiveness.

I suspect that when you deal with humanity on the scale that God does, murder seems less significant. Things that don't seem especially significant are easier to forgive.

I was never much of one for a personal God, though.

One has to assume that God on a regular basis sees every sort of awfulness humanity can think of and a few varieties that can only be left to nature.

According to the census bureau's international database, some 154,483 people die every day. Likely the majority of these individuals die in a way that would upset any reasonable person who really understood each story. (Many die of starvation, many are killed in pointless wars, many die of disease treatable in other parts of the world, many die alone and ignored by the families they built, many get preventable diseases they didn't understand how to prevent, many die in stupid accidents, many die of quiet suicide caused by addictions they developed because they were abused or otherwise treated badly, many commit suicide directly. And yes, many are murdered.)

In the context of all these deaths, murder doesn't seem like an outlier in terms of shitty ways to die.

Is is possible that one of the things that makes God God is God's ability to care for each and every one of those people as individuals and want justice for everyone?

Yes, but I for one have trouble conceiving of it.

But then, I'm most assuredly not God.

If I had to guess, though, I'd say that in God's ultimate ability to take the long view, God sees the probably fairly forgivable roots of every murder.

Murderers become murderers through some combination of circumstance and being born that way.(Presumably God does not "make" a sociopath any more directly than God "makes" a tornado. But nobody expects a tornado to ask forgiveness.)


Monday, March 27, 2006

The abortion debate gets a little more complicated in CC's own mind.

Last night, CC made a confession to her dear CSO.

Somehow in a discussion of the abortion debate, the subject of "Plan B" came up. And I admitted that I'm not really sure why Plan B isn't really early abortion.

TheCSO gave me the scientific explanation, that Plan B keeps the cell from attaching to the wall of the uterus. The cell does not start to divide or grow until it is attached.

"Birth control pills work the same way," he finished.

"What?" I said.

"Yeah, they prevent the implantation."

"So, your sperm and my eggs are still getting together," a chancy assumption this, as there has been some debate among CC's doctors whether she can have children at all. "They just die because they aren't implanted?"

I guess my voice must have wavered a big because theCSO stepped back, the expression of a man who knows he has said the wrong thing plastered to his face.

"You didn't know that?"

I hadn't known that.

We talked about other birth control possibilites as I was so clearly freaked out. He said Norplant and IUDs work the same way. He's allergic to spermacide and few doctors are OK with performing tubal ligations or vasectomies on twentysomethings who haven't had kids.

And for awhile last night, I sat awake thinking about theCSO's and my traits combining into cells that were washed away.

TheCSO was wrong, BTW.

According to Planned Parenthood's website:
Combination pills usually work by preventing a woman's ovaries from releasing eggs (ovulation). They also thicken the cervical mucus, which keeps sperm from joining with an egg.

Progestin-only pills usually work by thickening the cervical mucus. Less often, they prevent ovulation.

The hormones in combination and progestin-only pills also thin the lining of the uterus. In theory, this could prevent pregnancy by interfering with implantation of a fertilized egg. But there is no scientific evidence that this occurs.

Norplant and IUDs also thicken the cervical mucas, not thin the uterine lining.

But what gets me is last night's sudden discomfort with the situation.


Morgan Spurlock is a chode.

Spurlock has claimed that we're all misinterpreting the frequently repeated story that he made fun of immigrants and retarded people.

He says he said "fuck" a few times and called himself "retarded" but that was the extent of it. And he defended his right to use "retarded" as an insult and swear as "free speech."

Of course, now that his lucrative speaking engagements are in jeopardy, he's all apologies. And he still doesn't get that using "retarded" as an insult is a problem.

I like how he says that when he said "the greatest lesson these kids learned today was free speech" he meant that the school officials hadn't wanted him to talk about McDonalds.

Of course, he didn't tell the kids that, so there's no way they could have learned about free speech from something they didn't know about.

I guess when you get used to manipulating the truth through film, you really start to think that everyone else is stupid.


This is stupid, but I like it.

The Movie Timeline pretends that everything that ever happened in the movies really happened and puts the events in timeline form.

So, you may be asking yourself, what happend in 1978? (Other than the birth of CC...)

1978 Donnie Brasco
Atlantic City - Gambling legalised (Atlantic City)
Metropolis - Superman appears for the first time (Superman)
Taxi begins on US TV (Man on the Moon)
FBI agent and criminal profiler Will Graham comes out of retirement to hunt an elusive serial killer, enlisting the help of Hannibal Lecktor (Manhunter; Red Dragon)
New York - Michael Corleone's investiture (The Godfather trilogy)
January: London - The funeral of Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams (Chariots of Fire)
January 8: Superbowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys is interrupted by a terrorist attempt involving the hijacked Goodyear blimp (Black Sunday)
July 4: David Scott Freeman falls from a tree, and seemingly jumps through time (Flight of the Navigator)
July 4: Forrest Gump celebrates Independence Day at his home with Jenny Curran (Forrest Gump)
October 31: Haddonfield, Illinois - Michael Myers murders a-plenty, and may or may not die himself (Hallowe'en)

Quick Update

My weekend gave me no shortage of material, I can assure you, but was rather busy. I'll update tonight.

One thing:

Isn't it totally weird when you pick up a book you read some years ago, idly reread the ending and discover that you had misread the ending initially and the book ends differently than you have been thinking it does for years?

I jsut had this experience with William Sleator's Young Adutl scifi novel The House of Stairs. But this isn't the first time it has happened.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Justice for Sal blog

As far as I know, I'm the only one in my blogosphere really interested in the Sal Culosi case. But if you'd like to check out his parents' blog on the case, there you go.

Real actual swat team members in places like New York and LA that have real, actual badasses must really hate this clowns who can't even serve a warrant on an optometrist without making the entire profession look bad.

For more on what happens when we give small towns a whole ton of homeland security money and they form poorly-trained, heavily-armed, SWAT teams, check out this case from Mississippi.

The CSO and I were talking this morning about how if police departments had to pay higher damages when they went after innocent people, this stuff wouldn't happen, or at least would happen less.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Does everybody let their kids watch a whole ton of TV?

My coworkers were talking this morning about using TV to help the baby get back to sleep.

Now, I'm not one for thinking that TV destroys kids' brains or anything. After all, I saw every Three's Company ever made about five times when I was a kid and I'd still put my critical thinking skills up against just about anyone else's.

But I don't quite know what to do with the idea that one of my coworkers has a daughter who will wake up in the middle of the night and cry until she's allowed to watch TV to get her back to sleep.

Though come to think of it, if I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't watch TV until I fell asleep again, I might cry, too.


Art Imitates theChalicelife




I bitched earlier about the shooting of Sal Culosi. The man was an optometrist who moonlighted as a bookie. Though one presumes they could have served the man's warrant at, say, his optometry office, when the Fairfax County police decided to serve his arrest warrant they sent in a SWAT team in the middle of the night. One of the guys on the SWAT team shot him and killed him by accident.

The cop is not facing charges and his name isn't even going to be released to the press.

So for anyone who believed that we should wait for a full report on the IHOP shootings and then surely justice will be done if, as I surmised, the cop there intentionally placed himself in danger then shot a teenager getting out of that danger, I'd say there's not much chance of that.


Funny comic on abortion ban

Not that I favor calling the man up, but it's still a funny idea.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Spirituality of AA

I have real mixed feelings on Alcoholics Anonymous. Of my two closest friends to get into it, one smoothing integrates it into her life, the other is quite culty and creepy. Admittedly, neither of them drink.

Rev. Melanie has a different perspective.


Reasons why I'm not liking this"giving up snark for Lent" plan

1. I've tried really hard to think more positively, but it's not really working. I deal with unpleasant things through humor. I always have. You can't really change a life pattern for lent.
2. When I first announced this plan to Linguist Friend, he said "How do you plan to get your readership back after Easter?" He was right. People apparently love me for my snark. My blog hits are down some 50 percent.
3. I can't talk about Harvey Mansfield and the whole "Manliness" debate without being snarky.
4. I was invited to an Oscars-style "UU Awards" at another local church if I could give Joan Rivers style commentary. I wasn't sure about this one as I look laughably unlike Joan Rivers, but the invitation was quietly retracted when I said I'd given up sarcasm for lent.

Ah well, it's not THAT long until easter.

The South Dakota Souix doth Rocketh mightily

Long time advocate of domestic violence legislations Cecilia Fire Thunder, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, has vowed to invite Planned Parenthood on to tribal lands.

As Broadsheet put it, this is true family-friendliness.


Memo to all the women in America, RE: Capri Pants

While looking through my Victoria's Secret catalog the other day, I had the following insight:

If there's a style of pants that makes even Victoria's Secret models look fat, probably nobody should buy them.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Linguist Friend on The Beekeeper's Apprentice

I got this in an email this morning:

I have now gotten through the first two chapters of the
Laurie King book as of this morning; it is relaxing although not
literature. King's Latin in her quotes is not as good as Mary Russell's
would have been. Russell's last name probably comes from the logical aspect
of her persona, I suppose. It is as if she had two fathers, Sherlock and

I can't completely articulate why these insights delight me so, particularly given that they illustrate a far less enthusiastic view of the book than mine.

But I can't help but feel like a lucky girl to turn on the computer and recieve something like that.


Big love=Big politics?

With a big new HBO show on polygamy, which I intended to watch but haven’t, and a federal lawsuit over polygamy discrimination in the courts, I find myself once again thinking about polygamy, both as a political issue and as an actual feature of some people’s lives.

Though I don’t think polygamy is a great idea for people with kids, I don’t particularly have a problem with it as long as it is based in real commitment. (When I read BitchPhD’s accounts of her three-way relationship, I find myself somewhat appalled at her, to be honest. She waxes enthusiastically about how wonderful the sex is with the third person in her marriage and mostly writes about her husband in relation to domestic matters. If I were her husband, I couldn’t deal with that.)

I don’t think political activism is the best thing for polygamy. Political activism seems to bring in the zealous.

From what I’ve observed polygamy is like the Marines. People who just end up there carried by the waves of circumstance do fine, but people who enter into it with a great deal of zeal for the concept itself (“If I go into the Marines, I’ll be a real man!” “If I have a three way relationship, I’ll always be everybody’s favorite!) end up blowing up themselves and the people around them.

Some things just work best in private. I understand why there must be political movements for things like abortion and euthanasia, but I can’t help but think that some things work best as sub rosa arrangements between people and their doctors. I wish they could just remain that way.

My feelings on polygamy are pretty analogous, but I’m even less convinced that they need to be political issues.

(Yes, applied to homosexuality, this idea is roughly “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I don’t apply it there.)


Questions on the nature of blogging

I've had two questions in the comments that have really made me think. I hadn't substantively responded to either yet because they both connect to the same larger issue and I was thinking about how I would like to address that issue.

The first was UU-Mom commenting on my proposed DC blogger get-together:

"You know blogging, and especially blog reading, can be almost full-time and most of us do other things. When would we have time for this get-together? And traveling to Boston on top of it"

That one knocked the wind out of me for a minute. I had not even considered not making time for a DC blog get together, and I will likely go to Boston again.

To clarify, I do other things. I have a day job and I teach test preparation some nights. I am a YRUU leader and active volunteer for my church, I have family obligations and as theCSO keeps reminding me, we're supposed to be remodeling the house. My marriage is very important to me and my husband and I spent a lot of time together. Few political or intellectual ideas show up here that I haven't first talked out with him. I have a bunch of long distance friendships and I spend lots of time on the phone and visiting people or having guests and I also go out with friends and theCSO's friends here. And I read a lot. And I finished my first novel a couple of months ago.

But that question and my own reaction did point out very clearly how important blogging is to me.

I've been blogging in some senses for years and years. I've had a website of one type or another for over ten years and I have written *something* almost every day of my adult life. I really have to have things in front of my before I can process them. Before beliefnet, it was keeping up with my closest friends through near-daily emails. When I was on Beliefnet, theCSO would frequently complain that I should be collecting my writing in some way and I frequently wished I could edit my posts. Blogging lets me do both.

I have, and have always had, this urge to get my thoughts out on paper and provide some proof of my own existance. I'm aware that at this point, like the Diaries of Anais Nin if I may flatter myself with the comparision, my blog is probably less interesting for the writing quality or newness of ideas and more so for the overall picture it paints of a developing intellectual consciousness. I'd rather be read for writing like a master swordsman and ideas of deep profundity, but my blog is what it is, and it's hard to write well in the immediacy of some moments.

So in this sense, I do regard my frequent commenters (you know who you are) as a sort of intellectual family. One of my bigger regrets about last year was that I was in Northern California for five days and never made it over to see Kim. Psyton is TheCSO's childhood best friend and I substantively keep in contact with him through theChaliceblog. (Though we have a standing tradition of spending Christmas eve together.)

I go through trends of writing about different things because different things interest me at different times. I write about politics, religion and my personal life as the mood strikes. Expect to see a bit more on my family and my spiritual development in the coming month or so as I am reading a book on spiritual memoir. That said, I'm not going to be getting all gushy. Every now and again, I get a breathless email informing me that my experiences with my criminal brothers have shaped my political views or that the closeness of my friendship with LinguistFriend (who is much older than I am) has its roots in my rather complicated relationship with my parents. Lest anyone should be concerned, I have thought of these things and there is of course truth to each of those insights. I tend to think such things work better as subtext, though.

And yes, it is well worth it for me to set aside a Saturday afternoon or even a weekend to go hang out with my fellow bloggers and swap ideas and actually look at the faces of the people whose words I read sometimes every day.

Probably another root of UU-Mom's and my differing feelings on this issue is that UU-mom is presumably a mom. Given the time that children can take up, it doesn't surprise me that there are fewer bloggers with young children.

OK, other question:

LRC asked why I sometimes write in the third person. The short answer is "I don't know, it just feels natural to do so sometimes."

That I'm a big fan of Miss Manners is probaly a part of it, as Psyton notes. I think another part of it is that the person who writes the Chaliceblog and Chalicechick are not 100 percent the same. Sometimes Chalicechick can say something that the person who writes her is still working out in her own head and the third person say be just an attempt to get a little distance.

I consciously call my family and husband by nicknames including Chalice (e.g. the Chalicemom) as a subtle reminder to both readers and myself that any charictarization of them is very much from my own perspective. I don't intend to do a hatchet job on anyone and I have even considered renaming The Sabina Fallacy, particularly since I read an article someplace about the kind way Jackie O treated Marilyn Monroe. The analogy between those two and Sabina and myself isn't direct, but the article did remind me that even people who behave badly deserve to be treated well, at least in the public sphere.

LRC is not the first person I respect to bring up that the writing about myself in the third person sounds a little odd. Another friend has made the point that it makes my writing less clear. I do pay attention to such concerns and seem to be doing it less than I used to.

But my blog posts are largely stream of consciousness and only barely edited. Sometimes, things come out of my brain in the third person and I'm inclined to leave them that way.

For now.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My ever-changing blog

Sorry if the appearance of this blog keeps changing. I'm just trying to get it looking the way I want it.

I 've fallen in love with the idea of drop caps and pull quote and a more magazine-ish layout. I'm at the point where I need to either learn a lot about CSS or pay somebody to do it for me. (I will probably learn it myself in the end as that is my nature, but I have no objection to paying somebody to do a basic design to start me off. I'd like the "Chaliceblog looks all crappy while CC is learning" period to be as short as possible.

Anyway, I know that it is annoying have the appearance changing. It's a temporary thing.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Actually, I really doubt that Soylent Green is organic

But I really liked this post on Hippies vs. Yuppies and how extremes meet.


I hate it when they scam old people, part II

W ell, Louis A. Gottschalk, the UC Irvine psychiatry professor who lost some 3 million dollars to the Nigerian scam, is no longer in charge of his finances. His son Guy now has control over the family fortune.

You can read about it here.

As much as it sucks that the man has lost still more of his dignity, this seems like the best thing.


Name yourselves

W hat should I call Chaliceblog readers? So far, I call you "Chaliceblog readers." But Peacebang readers are, ahem, "Peacebangers" and Miss Snark readers are "Snarklings."


New UU blog

G et thyself to Auspicious Jots and check out the blogosphere's newest UU blog from VA.


Ps. If you're a DC area UU blogger or UU blog reader, shoot me an email at Chalicechick at gmail dot com and I will make sure you're included in the discussions as we form plans for our own blogger picnic. (Though I'm still pulling for a roadtrip to Boston...)

Other things I got in trouble for as a kid that were actually sort of cool.

I got quite a few page hits on my story about getting in trouble for my science experiment as a kid, so here are some other sort of amusing things that got me in trouble as a child. (The astute reader might suspect that there were actually some extremely irrational things I got in trouble for as a kid and those stories aren't funny. That's true, and I'd reccomend that anyone for whom this is the case write about some of their childhood injustices. Even just writing up the funny ones has been a very cleansing experience. Isaac Hayes would tell me I'm cleaning up my engrams, no doubt.)

1. As a forth grader, CC learned in class that the proper way to ask the government for change is to write a petition and get other citizens to sign it. CC promptly drew up a petition saying the teacher gave too much homework. By the next day, the entire class had signed it and CC proudly presented it to the teacher. Mrs. Ray was very angry. CC was sort of hurt as she really liked Mrs. Ray and even to this day CC thinks her teacher could have been A LITTLE pleased that CC had so obviously taken the lesson to heart.

2. One time, little CC (probably about seven at the time) was floating in the pool and decided to float face down. The ChaliceRelative tapped CC on the shoulder. When CC looked up, the ChaliceRelative snapped "You were trying to make me think you were dead, weren't you!"
"No," little CC said.
"Don't lie, you were floating facedown like a dead person to scare me!" she responded "Get out of the pool for ten minutes."
CC glumly got out of the pool and sat down on the grass, too full of dignity to explain that she had actually been pretending to be an alligator.

3. As an eight year old, I told my brothers that their birthday was the "Twelveteenth of Floptover" and that day and that month had been cancelled. "See! Look at the calendar! That month and that day aren't there!" My brothers, who were then four, reacted with a delightful amount of drama, far more than CC had expected. TheCSO loves this story and sometimes claims our anniversary is th Twelveteenth of Floptover.

4. At the dinner table, a ten year old CC once announced "I don't like boys. They're mean. When I grow up, I want to live with another woman like the Aunt Jackie's friends Georgia and Kathy" My parents did put up with TheChaliceRelative moving two Cuban lesbians into our basement for six months one time when I was a kid, but their liberalism still only goes so far. A horrible scene ensued.

5. CC, in Junior High school, once came home early on a snow day. The picture doesn't show it, but our* garage is built into a hill. So CC has an idea. She gets a trashcan lid and goes up to the hill and climbs onto the garage roof. CC and her brothers were still sledding off the roof when her folks got home from work.


*"Our" now meaning mine and theCSO's. We bought my parents' old house. They inherited another house and are retiring on the money theCSO and I paid them. CC lives in her childhood home.

By request

Last night, Linguist Friend says, "So why haven't you blogged about the Fellowship Dinner? There has to have been a lot of good material there...

And he's right. There was. I'm not quite through processing some of it.
1. As you can probably imagine from the way my previous post ended, my mother and I did not get the bonding time I wanted. I left out of the first telling that when I got to her house, I found that she had gone shopping and she didn't come back for two hours. When I arrived to find her getting out of the car was actually my thrid trip to her house. Then I put the cake on at her house, asked her to take it out in half an hour and did a last minute run for cloth napkins. The cake burned, no doubt while she was dealing with some crisis of my brothers'. So she baked another cake and iced it alone because the combination of those factors made the timing impossible for me as I had a bigass dinner to run. With some urging, she dropped the cake by the church. Despite the fact that she was wearing my brother's old Nascar shirt (believe me, I'm working on this one,) I pulled her into the church over the objections of my father and showed her the room full of tables.
My "Hey Mommy! Look what I made!" impulse was pretty much quashed by her lukewarm "Oh, uh huh, that's nice. I really ought to be getting back..." response.
I'm aware that told ex parte, this story comes off as something of a hatchet job on my mother. I should point out that from her perspective, the story would probably be about the many irrational demands she faces from her three children*. But to me the whole thing has the familiar ache of a repeated pattern and the story wanted to be told.

...It is people who
buy tablecloths on their college "backpack around the third world" trips
who end up running fellowship dinners...

2. A lot of the logistics things did not run as smoothly as I would have liked them to. I have a lot of ideas for next year. One of my best ideas, and something that did work, was that I made an extra large table Saturday night (the dinner is actually two dinners, one Friday and one Saturday. I go to a big church,) and ran it as a Tapas-themed table. Anyone who RSVPed within the last few days, and anyone I'd had down for Friday who said they needed to come Saturday instead, was placed at the Tapas table and told to bring an appetizer. I seated like 14 people there and made a dessert to go in the center. The appetizers meant that I could seat as many people there as I needed to without worrying that I was throwing off the balance of entree-vegetables-bread-dessert. I used a funky tablecloth I'd bought in India in college (It is people who buy tablecloths on their college "backpack around the third world" trips who end up running fellowship dinners.)
3. I have an Emma-like urge to have little "social projects" going. (e.g. "That lady could use a husband, I wonder if I should set her up with..." or "He's so miserable in his job. But he does IT work. I should ask the CSO of he knows of anyone who has any openings...") I think this comes from being raised Presbyterian. Even as a kid, I noticed one of my parents' big goals was to remain the sort of church member who fixes other church members rather than the sort of church member who is fixed. (When I read C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters and saw the lines "A sensible human once said, ‘If people knew how much ill feeling ‘unselfishness’ occasions it would not be so often recommended from the pulpit’; and again, ‘She’s the sort of woman who lives for others-you can always tell the others by their hunted expression," I knew right what he was talking about. That said, I have a huge streak of that quality myself.) I sat myself with one of my friends who is similarly inclined and someone who needs some help with something. In the last few days, she asked if another lady could sit with us. We quietly conferred and I wasn't surprised to discover that each of us had a little project we'd intended to ask the other for help on. Jane Austen would have a field day.
4. Saturday night, the minister barked "Wow, we've had The CSO here two nights in a row!" (Of course, he called TheCSO by his actual name.) I said something jovial like "You may make a sheep of him yet!" That came out more Presbyterian than it probably should have. For a half second, I thought of saying "If the UUA stops speaking for us politically, you might see him Sunday morning!" but that would have started a conversation I didn't have time to have. Besides, at least half of theCSO's antipathy toward church is that he likes to sleep in on the weekends.


* I feel the well-behaved child's urge to point out that me asking Mom to help me bake something happens once a year or so, while Jason doing something irresponsible and then Oliver advising him to do something illegal to fix it is the sort of thing that happens on like a weekly basis with them.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cakes for the memories

One of my UU kidlets joined the church last week. Tonight, she, like many other adults in my church, is hosting a table at the fellowship dinner. I'm at her table and she asked me to bring a cake.

I decided to decorate it with the words "Katie joined the church! We're so proud!" or some such.

When I was a kid, my mom made us birthday cakes with all these goofy flowers made of icing on them. I decided Katie might deserve a goofy flower cake.

So I called up my mother.

"Hey Mom, I am taking a cake to a potluck and I want to do one of those cakes with the flowers you do. If I bake the cake and do the icing in the background, will you help me do the flowers?"

My mom suggested I come over and just bake the cake at her house. She's not usually one for a bunch of quality time, so I cheerfully accepted.

I went ingrediants shopping with a light heart, thinking cheerily that it was impossible to say the words "My momma and me are gunna make a cake!" without smiling.

I got to her house just as she was getting back from the store. As we walked into the house, my brother Oliver came running up "Hey Mom!" he said. "Jason (my other brother) is stranded in Pennsylvania and is out of money. I told him to steal enough gas to get home!"

I mixed the cake batter as my mom talked on the phone to Jason and then Western Union.

Oh well...


Anybody know a skilled web designer?

I think all this monkeying around has given me a good idea of what sort of look I want in a blog. I want a gray color scheme with touches of red. I want drop caps and pull quotes and photo caption and a more magazine-ish look. And I'd like a little bit more flexibility in the way my blog appears.

Anyway, I'm thinking of moving off blogger. Does anyone know a good web designer who works cheap?


Making fun of other faiths, making fun of mine.

A big story on the blogosphere recently is that Isaac Hayes, the voice of "Chef" on South Park, has left the series, complaining of religious intolerance in the show's content. South Park's creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, were quick to note that South Park has always made fun of religions (Parker and Stone are from Utah and gave the Mormons particularly rough treatment) and that Hayes was happy enough when the show made fun of Jews, Muslims, etc. Hayes, a Scientologist*, left when the show made fun of scientology. (Unwillingness to shoot fish in a barrel has never been South Park's problem.)

As far as I know, South Park hasn't said much, if anything, about Unitarians. On The Simpsons, Unitarians are a fairly regular target. (A lady on Beliefnet once said that Simpsons creator Matt Groening was a UU and goes to her sister's church.) I like the way the Simpsons jokes about UUism. The joke is always made by a person assumed to be intolerant (e.g. Reverend Lovejoy) and the joke is really a joke on them. Similarly, when someone makes fun of Apu's Hinduism, the ultimate joke is less about how odd Hinduism can seem and more about the boorishness of some people when faced with an unusual religion.

Some of the jokes we UUs make about ourselves make me queasy, though. I don't have much of a sense of humor when it comes to the "yes-we-have-no-religion" theme that some of the jokes we tell about ourselves have. (The famous "What do you get when you cross a UU and a Jehovah's Witness? Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason." seems a good example.)

I think the roots of my queasyness come from the same root as my dislike of comedian Margaret Cho's humor. As far as I've seen, Cho's comedy has two principal themes. From Cho's perspective, they run something like:

1. I am SO Asian
2. I am SO pathetic.

A few comedians make thier living joking about race. A LOT of comedians make their living off self-deprecating humor. Individually, they are fine. I usually don't care much for the second kind, but that's a matter of taste in humor.

...Some of the jokes
we UUs make about ourselves
make me queasy, though...

But while an Asian woman comic is a pretty revolutionary thing, for that revolutionary person to spend two hours talking about how uptight her people are and how screwed up she is makes her seem a little too much the pathetic creature parading her exoticism for my amusement, yet making sure I know that she's very very nonthreating. You can argue who is demeaning whom in that scenario, but either way I don't like it.

The ability to use humor to deflate one's own puffery is a wonderful, spiritual thing. A. Powell Davies said it better than I could when he wrote

When we see our own grotesqueries, how quaint we are, how droll our ambitions are, how comical we are in almost all aspects, we automatically become more sane, less self-centered, more humble, more wholesome. To laugh at ourselves, we have to stand outside ourselves - and that is an immense benefit. Our puffed-up pride and touchy self-importance vanish; a clean and sweet humility begins to take possession of us. We are on the way to growing a soul

I guess what I am trying to do here is reconcile my feeling that we should feel free to make fun of ourselves with my lack of desire to actually do it. Or rather to have other people doing it. So often humor hides something we're really upset about be it a "joking" comment about your ex's new love's outfit or a fat woman who jokes about how fat she is all the time. Those jokes aren't funny and reveal an unattractive insecurity.


*Is it just me, or do you consider Isaac Hayes WAY too cool to be a scientologist? I can believe some geeky white guy like Tom Cruise would like Scientology, but Isaac Hayes sung the theme to Shaft. He's supposed to be a little more badass than thinking we're descended from clams and worrying about his engrams...

And furthermore, if Southpark has gotten to the point that they are making fun of self-parodying things like Scientology, I think we can say it has jumped the shark.

So much to dislike in this news story.

Have you seen this Boston Globe peice on women and drinking?
One woman gets murdered and this reporter is shocked and saddened that women in Boston STILL LIKE TO GET DRUNK.

Of course men are murdered all the time and the paper doesn't even imply that they should change their habits.



Friday, March 17, 2006

How CC is doing in her NCAA office pool

Good ideas

Picked Milwaukee over Oklahoma
Picked Boston College over Pacific
Picked Alabama over Marquette
Picked UCLA over Belmont
Picked GW over Wilmington
Picked Gonzaga over Xavier
Picked the Aggies over Syracuse
Picked Duke over Southern (I know, duh, but I did.)
Picked Indiana over San Diego state

Bad ideas
Had picked Seton Hall over Wichita State
Had picked Nevada over Montana
Had picked Iona over LSU
Had picked Air Force over Illinois
Had picked Utah over Washington

Erin Go Back to Bed

I had about six nightmares last night (the most vivid of which involved insects. Lots and lots of insects.) and barely made it out of bed. I dragged myself to work. Now my sweet and giggly co-workers are celebrating St. Patrick's Day. I just discovered that I hate St. Patricks day and I am seriously wondering why I left the house.

What's up with you?


Thursday, March 16, 2006


One of my YRUU kidlets goes to Sidwell Friends, a Quaker private school in Washington DC.

She told us the other day that the death of kidnapped Quaker pacifist Tom Fox in Iraq had been a big blow to her school and to the Quaker community. They'd made a point of praying for the people who had killed him.

I heart Quakers.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006


George Burns once said something about how an audience that has paid a lot ot see an expensive show comes prepared to be entertained, but free audiences are just implacable. He didn't say it quite that way, but that was his jist.

Tonight, CC was royally bitched at for some ten minutes by a lady who is very angry with the church and seemingly with the world. (We'd had the lady down for the wrong night, so we did make a mistake, but she was rather dramatic in her reaction to our assigning her to a table on the correct night that she thought inferior.) She made it clear that this was my church's big chance to impress her and win her back as a member and CC personally was screwing it up.
CC listened, tried to make sympathetic noises and managed to say several wrong things before the conversation was over.
When we at long last rang off, CC put the phone down and sat down on the floor and had a good weepy girl cry for a bit. Mid-cry, she noticed that she was mostly thinking about how much she missed Margaret.

Better now, but looking forward to the stresses in her life being fewer.

Finland Uber Alles?

Since the war discussion downthread goes well, I thought I'd bring up another political question. To be truthful, I'm not 100 percent certain of my own answer. Due to a bunch of tecbnicalities, there are large debates over which country was the first to develop true universal sufferage. For the sake of this argument, I'm going to go with Finland, but I am aware that the debate exists.

Anywho, suffice to say, for awhile Finland's civil rights record was a heck of a lot better than ours. If you want to argue that this is because they had fewer people of other colors to actually deal with and race issues are always harder in areas with high concentrations of people of color, I get that and the statistics I've seen on these things would agree with you.

In the early part of this century, Finland's human rights record was a heck of a lot better than ours was. This leads me to some questions,

If Finland had been powerful enough to try to force us to improve our civil rights record, should they have?

If we wouldn't listen, should they have tried to take us over?

If they had, would the state of civil rights in this country today be better?

How much moral authority does a superior human rights record give a country? How should your answer impact the way we approach Iraq? What about Darfur?

I have my own thoughtful if not perfect answers, but I'd like to know yours.


Things CC thinks about at odd moments

1. Wouldn't it be cool if Weird Al made a song about civil war re-enactors called "Preoccupied with 1865."

2. The phrase "go postal" facinates me. It dates back to 1994, a year when something like three disgruntled postal workers opened fire on their workplaces. Whatever program the postal service put in to combat this problem worked. I don't believe anything like that has happened since. Mostly, my sixteen-year-old SAT students don't know the origin of the phrase. But they still use it.

I saw an episode of "Star Trek:The Next Generation" once with something about a society that had a language made up of references to things that had happened in their social history. Neat stuff.

3. Linguist Friend likes to hear stories about what CC was like as a little kid. Tonight, I thought about something I got in a lot of trouble for. When I was ten years old or so, I had an idea that I thought might help with America's solid waste problem. I figured landfills should be big tanks of water. I thought waste would decompose faster under water. So for weeks I would hide away food scraps from dinner. After my meal, I would divide the scraps in half. Half went into the jar full of water, half into my control jar. I hid the jars on my windowsill behind the drapes.

I was right. The scraps floated around and especially with the light refraction on the water, the garbage underwater did decompose much faster. Unfortunately, before I could document my findings and revolutionize the landfill industry, my father found the jars. The only phrase I can recall of the conversation that followed is "DO you have ANY idea the sort of DISEASE that is FESTERED in something like that?"

I told the story intending to get across what a bratty kid I was, but Linguist Friend sounded pleased and pointed out that there was a certian amount of intelligence and creative thinking involved in that project.

I still remember what those jars looked like. They were a disgusting kind of beautiful.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Gotta love Trumpy

Ihrealize television blogging is the lowest of the low, but y'all know I love The Apprentice.

A few things:

-What is the deal with everyone hating Brent? He hasn't been great, but plenty of other people have dumb ideas without getting this much acrimony. I guess his team is using dislike of him to bond to each other, but they must know that they suck for that. It looks like next week he's going to lose his temper. Maybe he will get fired. Sigh. Life's not fair. I would have lost my temper at least a week ago.

-Did Lenny really compare competing in the Apprentice to serving in the Israeli Army? That's awesome in it's own weird way. I kind of love him.

-The Apprentice the only show on television where people unironically say things like "A horrific golf event."

-Andrea is everything I hate about yuppies and everything I hate about hippies combined. And crying in the bathroom is such a "Dylan kissed Donna in front of the whole school! My lfie is over!" way to behave.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Odd happenstance of the day

I think my new co-workers think I’m Mormon.

It may have started with the twin sets. I wear a lot of twin sets. (What? I used to work for Republicans…) Many of my coworkers at my level are young twentysomethings. Despite our rather conservative field, dressing like Madonna is apparently accepted so lots of the girls do it. I am chubby and most sexy clothes don’t flatter me. I wear dull neutral colors. A little too preppy to be beatnik, a little too beatnik to be preppy. (Item: In my last office, I discovered that real Mormons do not wear dull, plain clothes. But before I knew that, my perception was that they did.)

Then, last Thursday, I had a printed excel spreadsheet in the lunchroom. “Whatcha doin?” one of my co-workers asked.

“I’m in charge of a dinner for my church. I have to plan the seating arrangements,” I said.

The girl across the cube wall was organizing a trip out to happy hour. I had a class to teach, but passed by saying I didn’t drink. This is not technically true. I do drink sometimes, though I tend to suffer unpleasant physical effects from it. The real problem is that I am a very, very flirty drunk. Bad thing for drinking around co-workers, so I never go drinking with my co-workers.

I have drunk caffeine occasionally in front of them, but they might have missed it. What is more obvious is that I keep a carton of skim milk in the fridge.

Probably the kicker was the other day when one of the other girls swore in front of me. She apologized. “That’s OK,” I said. “My last office was Mormon, so I’m out of the habit, but it doesn’t offend me.”

Her eyes widened almost imperceptibly, but I knew what the look meant.

So now I’m torn. Because nobody is going to ask me, in offices that’s just not done. And besides, in the commedia dell’arte of offices, the “really Christian one” is not a bad role to play. You can be a little odd and nobody thinks anything of it. People expect you to be nice, but I am nice to a fault anyway. (Oh, stop laughing. Chalicechick and the person who writes her are not completely the same. In real life I am far more the shrinking violet that I sound here.) Maybe that perception would keep me from being “one of the girls,” but I’ve never been “one of the girls” anyway.

It’s worth considering.


Dark Mistress of Dining Logistics, that's me.

The dinner I'm running continues to go well, despite the people who register ten days late AND get all pissy when I say I can't seat them with their friends. Yesterday, I took RSVPs for awhile after church. When someone would come and talk to me about how wonderful it was to meet new people and how anyone who just wanted to sit with their friends was silly, I would keep that person talking on that subject for a long time. Setting a good example.

I was reminded yesterday how very sweet and adorable members of my church can be. A whole ton of them volunteered to help. So that's good. I seated myself with some people I like and some people I'd like to get to know better both nights, including a gothy youth whom I think theCSO would appreciate. A really charming older couple came up and thanked me profusely for their table arrangement, crowing happily how they were with some people they really liked and a few new people so they'd have a chance to make new friends. Made me a happy girl.
I don't know even half the people at my fairly large church, so I can't do this for everyone, but I really made an effort to seat people with other people whom they
might find interesting. Hard in the case of husbands who rarely go to church, but I did my best. My experience is that engineers can almost always talk to one another, so I tried to group engineer husbands. I seated new members with interesting long-term members.
The varying ways people can approach these things really amazes me. Some people make a very reasonable request (e.g. "Can I get a meal without cheese? I'm lactose intolerant...") and apologise for it profusely. People with dietary requirements have an unreasonably bad rap on this issue. It's something that caterers are pretty hip to, so if you ever need something like that, ask well in advance, but ask, we can normally help you out. It takes the person who is organizing a few phone calls, but if you're nice about it, we don't care.
People have asked for far more unreasonable things far less nicely. This is how they get seated with the people whom I consider the church's biggest whiners.


Ps. Folks who know HTML--You can see what I am trying to do with these pull quotes here. Any clues on how to make the text properly wrap around the pull quote? Thankee--

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A few photos from the CSO's and my trip downtown yesterday

The CSO's theory is that a lot of the people who feel they lack "Third places" live in suburbs and would find them if they moved to the city. I'm not terribly certain of that. But I will say that these photos don't capture it especially well, but there were a whole hell of a lot of people hanging out, but not really buying anything, downtown yesterday. One had to be seriously vigilant to keep from being hit in the ass with a frisbee.

Could someone explain this to me? The best I can figure is that over the last few years, hundreds of thousands of rubes have said "Dang, I've heard of I.M. Pei. I should get a rubbing of her name." Is that it?

This sculpture doth rocketh mightily.

After awhile at the Dada exhibit, I realized that art breaks down pretty neatly into the following business-consultant-style rubric:

Oh, and also, we got a new cat last Saturday.

This is Esperanto, who joins our already existing family of black cats, Boris and Cool Disco Dan. She is a thoughtful sort, and very affectionate.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Reasons for the war in Iraq

Somehow, TheCSO and I have gotten into the habit of having long-winded political conversations on Saturday mornings. Between my working and teaching and his working and hanging out with the guys, we don't have enough conversation time in the evenings right now, and we tend to make it up on the weekends.

Last week, we reviewed every aspect of the IHOP shooting, including my attempt to play Nancy Drew. Today, it was a lengthy discussion of the Corey Maye case that somehow turned into a talk about the war in Iraq.

I tried this theory out on a message board a bit ago, and have refined it somewhat through my talks with the CSO and a few things Joel Monka had to say there.

As far as I can tell, we got into the war in Iraq one of three ways:

1. Weapons of Mass Destruction didn't really exist on a scale worth worrying about, but served as a convenient excuse to get us into a war that the administration wanted for less politically palatable reasons. Whether you want to take the real reasons as the PNAC explanation of "We're going to have to conquer that whole region eventually and Iraq is a useful place to start strategically," the Bush-as-a-politically-motivated-incompetant explanation that is was distracting the people from the fact that we can't find Bin Laden and the economy isn't in good shape, or the "We did it for the oil" explanation, they all stem from this basic line of thinking.

2. Another possibility is that WMDs didn't exist on a scale worth worrying about but we didn't know it. This explanation sucks the least for the administration, though it still makes them look plenty bad. It seems pretty hard to believe, but two ideas that make it more believeable are that:
A. We big time overestimated how powerful the Soviet Union was, right up until it collapsed.
B. As Joel pointed out, Saddam was not a rational creature. He had a tendency to shoot people who gave him bad news and there is some evidence that HIS OWN intelligence said that Iraq had more firepower than it did.

3. Backup Emergency Mark pointed out once, it's always possible that Iraq did have some significant WMDs and snuck them out to Syria or Iran. Some conservatives have defended the war with this idea. I don't really understand that at all. Saddam really did mostly want to screw with his own people. Iran would have easily creamed him two decades ago if we hadn't stepped in to save the guy. Iran and Syria both seem much more dangerous than Iraq and if WMDs did exist, I am far less comfortable with them in Iranian or Syrian hands.

Three explanations, and three for three are disturbing.



Isn't that always the way?

Tonight, I was picking up TheCSO from the metro station. I kid you not, there were two tired-looking standard issue Washington DC commuters in slightly rumpled suits. They were sitting next to a similarly tired-looking Buddhist monk.

And, of course, I didn't have my camera.

It probably would have been really rude to take a picture anyway...


A brain-shaped jello mold is funny. This is just gross.

I am a freaky chick. But I'm really, really far from being this freaky. I look at this and I find myself wondering who the person was and how their skull ended up this woman's chocolate mold. I am a really morbid person myself at times, and I suppose I shouldn't be judging, but goodness this idea upsets me.


CC's dream dinner party

Don't these people sound incredibly cool?

Sigh. If only we UUs could sound like this when we discuss these issues. (OK, these guys are professionals, but still...)


Ps. One of these days, I'm going to hire somebody to redesign this blog. For now, I'm futzing with design stuff. If you see something you especially like/dislike, comment me.

PPs. Here's another quirky religion story.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

I heart Madonna

From the AP.

Talking to Out magazine, Madonna let it be known that her 9-year-old daughter, Lourdes, has been wondering about mommy's sexuality recently: "She is really obsessed with who is gay, and she even asked, 'Mom, you know they say that you are gay?' And I'm, 'Oh, do they? Why?' And she says, 'Because you kissed Britney Spears.' And I said, 'No, it just means I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star.'"


Doll factory dream

Don't you hate that dream where you're a doll in a doll factory and all the machines are like grabbing at you and plucking you and sticking parts on you and taking other peices of you off? And the machines are big and scary, but what's bigger and scarier is that at one point your are on a horizontal conveyor belt going across the shop twenty feet above the ground and you look down at the shop floor and the machines are making a billion more dolls just like you? (Pluck me, poke me, dress me in lace, but don't make me banal.)

I sure hate that dream. So much that I figured I'd get up and tell the whole internet about it.

Ah well, back to bed.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Want to learn to hate humanity? Run your church fellowship dinner

I am in charge of my church fellowship (a.k.a. fundraising) dinner and I'm getting cranky.

Even having Judge Judy on in the background (I love me some Judge Judy) is not improving my mood.

My issue?

Old ladies.

Now CC likes old people, generally. But why is it the one group of people who doesn't get the whole "fellowship dinner" concept is one group of old ladies?

Part of the point of the fellowship dinner is sitting with some new people. They have written on their forms that they all want to sit together. They all know that they aren't supposed to do that, but somehow they don't listen.

I'm of two minds on this one.

Part of me honestly doesn't care. If they want to sit together rather than socializing with the rest of the church, I'm half inclined to let them. This is not a montessouri school. If people want to be cliquey jerks, whatever.

But the thing is, we have table hosts and NOT ONE of them volunteered to host. So I guess what they want is for someone else to set them a nice table, take their wine orders and then sit quietly while they talk to each other.

I'm not their maitre d' and I'm pissed that they are treating me as one.

Watch me cave tomorrow.


How spiffy is this?

This rocks.


Avon fleeing!

Yesterday I came home and an Avon catalog in a little baggie was lying on the ground on the back porch next to the door. It wansn't hanging on the knob, tucked between the screen door and the main door, or anything else neat and normal looking, it was just chucked on the ground.

It was if my Avon lady (I have an Avon lady?) had been about to knock when she saw ssome horrifying sight, and she dropped her catalog as she fled with fear.

My house isn't neat, but it isn't that scary. I'm sure I'm just making things up. But the image really pleased me.


Know any beaders?

CC has two necklaces that need to be restrung, one of those may also need a new clasp. I'm happy to pay for it.

Do any of y'all make necklaces for a hobby or know of anyone who does? I can take them to my local guy-who-sells-beaded-necklaces-from-a-kiosk-in-the-mall, but I figured if anyone here has a friend I might as well help them out.



Ps. REALLY awesome responses to the Catholic question. Thank you so much!

Hey, Radley made the Post

In an editorial on the Culosi case. Check it out.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Can we lay off Dolly already?

I got on PeaceBang about this at her site, but it is far from just her who is being snide about Dolly Parton this year. (And this post should not be taken as a response to PB, more a rant in general.) The snotty essay in the Washington Post made fun of her, too.

The last straw for me was the E online coverage called her "Best Visual effect," writing "Sure, the Kong guys won the award, but we were left stunned by how lifelike Dolly Parton appeared."

Oh har de freakin' har. I'm sorry, the woman turned down a "Natural Woman" award from Jane Magazine because she said she wasn't a natural woman and didn't want to be photographed as one. I think that we all get that she wears a lot of makeup, has had some work done and that she is delightfully, unabashedly, redneck.

If we're all done showing how sophisticated we are by making fun of her, I'd like to review the reasons Dolly Parton kicks ass:

-She took Jane Fonda on a bus trip through Appalachia and made her eat possum. Somebody had to.

-She started and funds a kickass charity called Imagination Library that sends poor kids a new book every month for their first five years.

-She's a gay icon. (As Shakespere's Sister put it, "Ever been to a drag show without a Dolly?") But she doesn't feel the need to deny the rumors she's a lesbian. The people making fun of her should be so sophisticated.

-She's been married to the same guy for four decades. He's never in the spotlight because he apparently doesn't want to be. If it's ever an issue between them, Dolly hasn't told us because it's none of our business.

-When she gets an idea from another, younger, singer, she tells the world. She credited Norah Jones with her recent decision to go with more piano work.

-She can't even bring herself to say something mean about Jolene This is like when Jackie O refused to invite Arthur Miller to a state dinner because he had publically mistreated Marilyn Monroe. It's that level of respect for and kindness toward other women.

-She has her own Muppet, Polly Darton

-She produced a documentary about the AIDS quilt, she wrote 9 to 5, she doesn't lie about her age, she's told the world that she admired the way the town prostitute dressed back home in Locust Grove and still dresses like her today.

-She sung a cover of "Stairway to Heaven."

'Nuff said.


Question for ex-Catholic UUs

Linguist Friend's church is in a heavily Catholic area. The church has a real issue with bitter ex-Catholics who don't want anything resembling a church and otherwise act like people who still see themselves as ex-Catholics rather than seeing themselves as UU.

"Gee," CC said the other night, "wouldn't it be a good idea to have a special 'UUism for the ex-Catholic' new-UU class that specifically focussed on issues faced by ex-Catholics?"

Linguist Friend agreed. However, he's not an ex-Catholic and he would have to find one to teach it.

I guess this is really more of a curiosity question. What special issues do ex-Catholics face?

who wrote about special issues faced by ex-liberal Christians here. You don't have to write me an essay, though if you do I will read it. But a few points would be interesting.

What's with highbrow takes on the Oscars

Why does Salon have Camille Paglia commenting? And what's with this?


Bizarrely Mundane Dream

Last night I dreamed that the CSO and I were at a University library. He went out to the car and waited there. I was supposed to be following, but got caught up talking to the librarian and took awhile. When I got out to the car, he was angry with me.

"And we're even getting a ticket!" He said.

I accosted the ticket lady, pointed that there was no sign prohibiting parking and generally got in her face about it, at one point saying

"A person can't even go to the Goddamn library anymore!"

And then she gave me a lecture about using the name of the Lord in vain. And then I woke up.


Monday, March 06, 2006

CC becomes aware

In Robertson Davies' fine novel What's Bred in the Bone, Francis Cornish becomes aware of the world at the age of two while looking carefully at a peony in his mother's garden.

Every time I find a new author whom I adore, I feel like I'm seeing the world anew.

Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore and buy Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice. It is just that good.

The writing is so very well-crafted and subtle that I almost resent anyone who has read it and not told me about it. I feel like I've been walking around the cocktail party of life with spinach in my teeth because I did not know about this writer.

To help others avoid that feeling, I've decided to start putting novels I find life changing in my sidebar. Read them. They're good.


Silly psychology story

One time, one of my co-workers at my old job came in and stretched out on the couch in my old office.

"OK, CC," he said, though he actually called me by my real first name. "Give me therapy."

"All right," I said, not really even looking up from my work. "tell me about your parents."

"They were good people. Hardworking middle class, well, lower middle class. They worked hard, but it was always a struggle..."

"Do you think that's why you're always short on money close to payday?" I asked. "Perhaps you're eager to prove how far you've come from the struggles your parents had and you use conspicuous consumption as a means for doing that. Of course, that pattern insures that you're actually mirroring that struggle."

Coworker looks at me long and hard. He sits up, slaps his knees and sweeps out of my office, declaring "We're done here!"

Should've charged him $175 for his session...

who is reading Alice Miller this morning.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Linguist friend and I were discussing 666, the number of the beast, tonight.

In honor of that:

668: Neighbor of the beast.

1-888-666-6666: "the Toll-Free Number of the Beast"

$665.99: "the Retail Price of the Beast"

00666: "the ZIP Code of the Beast"

0.666: "the Number of the Millibeast"

Route 666: "the highway of the Beast"

6.5013:"the natural logarithm of the Beast"

333: the devil doing a half-hearted job,

Which makes √666 = 25.8068 the square root of all evil.


Additional numbers of the beast I thought of today after reading Joel's comment:

666EZ - The Tax form of the Beast

000666-0000666 - Docket number of the Beast's Divorce from Mrs. Beast

664 - The other neighbor of the beast.

667 - the sequal to the beast

Max Factor 666 soft black - the Mascara of the Beast

Beverly Hills, 90666 - The teen drama of the Beast

∏666 0r 2,091.25 - the Circumference of the Beast

TI666 - the Graphing Calculator of the Beast

666 Monkeys - The depressing Science Fiction movie of the Beast

666 Math, 666 Verbal - The SAT scores of the beast

Windows 666 - The Operating System of the Beast

867-5666 - The booty call of the Beast.




Saturday, March 04, 2006

I hate it when they scam old people.

I typically have very little sympathy for victims of scams like the Nigerian scam. After all, such things require the victim to be rather greedy and usually somewhat vain.

But this story has me rethinking those assumptions.

Basically, an 89-year-old apparently well-respected university professor was separated from millions of dollars of his money by the Nigerian scam. I read up on scams a couple of months ago as research for my novel. (If you ever need to do this, Fay Faron's book Rip-Off: A Writer's Guide to Crimes of Deception was a really excellent resource.)

Going on what I learned from Faron's book, how the UCI crime happened illustrates perfectly why the scams target old people and how well that works. In this case, the crime victim ever lied and claimed he'd lost the money in "bad investments" rather than admit what happened.

I can completely understand that, especially in a man who got his fame by pointing out Ronald Reagan's mental difficulties awhile before other people could see them.



Good news and more good news

Well, the bad news is that I woke up at 2 am and still haven't gotten back to sleep.

Luckily, there's also plenty of good news around:

Walmart is going to carry plan B!

The Presbyterians didn't screw over a minister who performed gay marriages!

Blackberry settled!

A lady at my office mentioned that Kristy Swanson won Skating with Celebrities, beating out another male skater/female celebrity pair. I called this like two months ago.

Hmm... Time to take a nap.


Friday, March 03, 2006

CC plays Nancy Drew

The Alexandria IHOP, courtesy of Google Earth.

Here's another reason why the "kid with a clean record tried to murder a cop* to avoid getting charged with a misdemeanor that typically lands one a month in rehab" scenario doesn't work.

The layout of the IHOP parking lot.

Here's what I think happened:

Kids run out of restaurant to car. Cop (who has worked there for a bit and knows the layout of the parking lot is a figure eight)thinks to self "If I chase them, they will drive around me. I'll cut them off!" so he runs to the only exit from the parking lot and stands in the way. The kids don't even see him until the last minute. (It's nighttime and he's around a corner from almost all of the parking spaces.) The driver finally sees him swerves to AVOID the cop. Cop really does fear for his life and shoots at the car out of desperation, but only because he's a moron and put himself in the situation because he was trying to be a cowboy.

(Consider that six people got into that SUV. The parking lot isn't that big. If the cop had been just chasing them, he would surely have gotten to the car before the slowest of six kids could pile in.)

So, yeah, it's possible that the cop is telling the truth.

But it still leaves me wishing stupidity could be a crime so we could charge him.


*If the cop wasn't in uniform, kid has ZERO motive to hurt him.

More on the dead pancake thief in Alexandria

Today's Washington Post raises some of the questions I was asking earlier.

I am still not at all convinced that the officer's story makes sense, FWIW. As the CSO noted in my comments, firing a gun doesn't work in real life the way it works on TV.

Though he uses the point to argue against me, I think it makes my argument. Firing a gun to stop a car because the car is coming right at you is exactly the sort of thing that only works on TV. (After all, even if you kill the driver and shoot out the tires, the car itself will keep coming for you.)

The whole "guy with clean criminal record suddenly decides to murder a security gaurd as to avoid getting busted for simple possession*" story doesn't work for me at all.

If it works for you, fine, but ask yourself this:

If you were in the cop's shoes and truly afraid for your life, would you stand still long enough to aim at a moving target and fire, taking the chance that even if you hit what you were aiming at, the SUV might still keep coming your way (and indeed, even if it didn't hit you, with no driver alive to put on the brake might roll out in to traffic and kill everyone else in the car and goodness knows who else?)

Or would you use that time to run, into the restaurant, behind some other cars or anyplace else out of the way?


Ps. The driver's BAC was WELL under the legal limit .02. He's only getting busted for a DUI because ANY blood alcohol level is a DUI in Virginia if you're under 21. The car would NOT have been swerving because the guy was drunk. His BAC suggests he'd drunk approximately one beer an hour or two before. If you've ever had a glass of wine with dinner and then driven home, you were probably drunker than this kid.


Last night's episode of The Office was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Giving up snark for lent

Last year, there was some discussion of the concept of giving up snark for lent.

I'm going to give it a serious try this year.

Naturally, as soon as one looses something, one starts to think about what it was and how one valued it. I'm realizing that snark can be a wonderful thing.

Those who think snark is all about negativity don't quite get it. I've been told that pointing out bad things is the sign of a pessimistic or depressed person. I disagree. Things are bad, whether you point it out or not.

For me, snark is about taking something bad and recycling it into something funny. Tragic things, annoying things, even flawed things that you love are all materials for making offbeat verbal art.

But snark is the tool I reach for most quickly when I am faced with a negative situation. And it is always good to give new tools a try. So if you came here looking for snark, check out the archives.


Thinking about "third spaces"

I've already responded to PB's post about third places, which are places where adults can go to hang out without buying much. (Compared to my average night out with Jennifer Beautiful, say, which includes dinner, a movie and pedicures, with a price tag of something like sixty bucks.)

I wrote a response on her blog already, but her post is still nagging at me. I'm realizing that as I think about it, I used to hang around "third spaces" all the time.

I was at the mall (not buying most of the time) or at a teen club in my town most nights of my teenage years.

Remember that episode of Buffy where the adults all become irresponsible teens? The first thing they do is start "hanging out" on the streets.

As an adult, I have friends over for dinner and I call my friends a lot, but I don't hang out much. Probably the closest thing I have to a non-consumerist hangout spot is this blog. (Though I do have friends who frequent this one neighborhood bar and know all the regulars.)

Perhaps we've developed a cultural thing against hanging out and sort of collectively decided it's a teenage thing.