March 2002 Archives

Woke up this morning

Woke up this morning to grey skies and thickly snow covered ground. Currently, the sun is shining, the snow is gone, and it is fairly warm. Yup, it's Easter. Peeps© anyone?

As for the cube,

As for the cube, it is proving to be quite a nice diversion while waiting for pages to load. I have drawn myslef a colored diagram to remind myself what colors end up next to each other at the end. Does that make me a freak?

Well yes, there are

Well yes, there are quite a few traditions around the world that involve painted eggs. I believe that my family might just have one of the strangest Easter egg traditions; it is certainly one of the grossest. We have Fred.

Fred is an egg, but not just any egg. Fred is hardboiled and "decorated" with the most hideous dyes, paints, pens, and crayons available. The end result is usually a nauseating swirl of greys. The egg is labeled "Fred", as if the egg belonged to someone of that name. (*cough* Don't ask why, long story.) Fred is then proudly displayed on Easter with all of the other colored eggs. Then he ends up in someone's basket...or their pocket...or their soap dish. Fred is passed around in a stealthy game of hot potato. Frequently there is more than one Fred, as multiple households produce a copy. The egg travels from house to house, city to city, and state to state. Once Fred made it to Guam. The game last as long as the egg does, and woe be to the one in possession of the Fred egg when it breaks. *gag* One year, my father and both of his brothers each recieved a small box from their mother for Christmas. Each box contained his family's version of the Fred from that year.

The Fred goes back to the youths of my dad and uncles, to a joke that my grandfather made about a freeloading neighbor, during an egg coloring session. It spread as all three of them got married and had families, and may continue to spread as their families have families. (Or it might not. My sister finds the tradition completely disgusting, and will have nothing to do with it.) I told this tale to some of my friends, and they have put a slight spin on it. At the moment, there is an egg named Stan (blown, not hard boiled) that is making the rounds.

Who knows where Stan might be at any given time? Who knows were Fred is hiding? Open your drawers and check your pockets, the eggs are on the loose.

Welcome to the 80's,

Welcome to the 80's, Miss Olson.

I finally got myself a Rubik's Cube. Not a real one, of course. It is a cheap knock-off I got from the Kipp Bros. catalogue, along with a gross of plastic duck. It works the same, though, and I always wanted one. Just what I really need, one more way to waste time.

Why does punctuation remain

Why does punctuation remain my stumbing block? I was always a good student in English class, but the finer points of commas versus colons versus semi-colons versus dashes versus elipses, etc. manage to escape me everytime. *sigh* It seems I must once again pull my dog-eared copy of Writer's INC (a book that has followed me since 10th grade composition class) off of the shelf and put it to use. If I am going to be writing in a semi-public forum, I had better improve my usage. In the meanwhile, forgive my grammatical laspes and run-on sentences. Know that I am working on it.

I finally broke down

I finally broke down and signed up for the NY Times Online in order to read this article on the fact that, "The administration took money from the Energy Department's solar and renewable energy and energy conservation budgets to pay for the cost of printing its national energy plan." Ouch! Now someone, please tell me, if the Clinton Administration had pulled that stunt, wouldn't every conservative pundit and politician from sea to shining sea be screaming bloody murder and calling in Ken Star?

In August of 2001,

In August of 2001, shortly before the world fell apart, I asked a question in a fit of angst: What is wrong with people? I sent this question on to a group of friends and relatives, and asked them to answer the question in 100 words or less. This sparked the begining of a series of monthly surveys, which I am now posting here. I have done a bit of editing for major/obvvios spelling errors and typos, but otherwise the answers are just as they wrote them to me. Answers are also listed in chronological order.
In 100 Words or Less: What is Wrong With People?

Scott Hegerty wrote:

They all fucked up an' shit.

Janson Olson wrote:

Not enough drugs.

Aaron Pavao wrote:

A big part is because they are conscious. Self-awareness begets self-consciousness, which begets insecurity. Many people problems stem from insecurity, an inability to confidently be what and who one is. People do and say things because they perceive that it will make others perceive that those others will think about them in a certain way.

The other part is sheer stupidity. The American culture derides and punishes intelligence early, in both overt (taunting by peers starting around 5th grade) and insidious (punishing an intelligent child by making him sit in class while the slower children catch up, which creates boredom as well as a sense of ostracism).

The wealthy/ruling class gets many benefits from an insecure and/or stupid population, and so it is to their advantage to perpetuate these phenomena.

I'm sorry if that seems inarticulate or poorly supported; I did, after all, only have 100 words, and I think I went over by about fifty words, at that.

AP also wrote:

I want to throw an addendum or something onto my answer. Do with it what
you want.

People suck. An individual person is usually pretty cool, or at least okay,
when they get a chance. The trick is to talk to people when they are being
persons, and not people.

Carl Klinger wrote:

People have the tendency to not see the entire picture. They focus on a small part of the whole, or on an imagined point of a picture, not realizing the picture they imagine themselves in is in a larger gallery, or is an abstract thought of someone else. People need to stop thinking in a linear fashion. Life is cyclical, and A+B=C does NOT apply to life. People do not understand that living without pain is similar to watching TV with the contrast all the way in one direction. Most of all, people don't know that there is more than people. And that, folks, is what is wrong with people.(Also, many of them don't agree with me. I don't think words in parentheses count as typed words, so never mind everything in them is over the specified 100 words. Also realize the above essay came off the top of my head, and deserves much deeper thinking that it was given.)

Greg Buxton wrote:

Larry Wall, the creator of the computer programming language Perl
responded to a message where someone had proposed a change, and then
wanted to find out if anyone else thought the change would be a "Good

> What do people think?
What, do people think?

I think that sums it up best.

Jackie Herman wrote:


Gretchen Olson wrote:

Why don't you ask them???? You don't know their lives. Maybe they need a cigarette. Maybe they need a hug. Be less selfish and instead of asking what is wrong with people, ask yourself how you can help. When someone pisses you off, force yourself to think one good thing about them. Create tolerance within yourself. Create beauty. And if you can't do this, then piss on ya. You are probably a bitter old half-demon and may God have mercy on YOUR soul.

Anandi Gandolfi wrote:

nothing....that a good solid dose of empathy couldn't

Lindsay Haydn wrote:

The major thing that's wrong with every person i know (self included
sometimes) is this: fear. People are so afraid of being alone or being
disliked that they build up all these defenses which inhibit their growth as
spirits on this fabulous planet. Exhibit A:
I had some friends over at my house the other day, and the song "Cecilia" by
Simon and Garfunkel came on the radio. Well, as everyone knows, "Cecilia"
is the most danceable song ever written. So naturally, we all got up and
began hopping around the living room like mad, bouncing on the furniture and
screaming at the top of our lungs "Ceceeeelia, you're breakin' my heart!..."
Well, let me correct that. All but one of us got up to dance. My more
conservative friend refused to get up and hoe-down with us. Instead, she sat
in the corner like a lump the whole time muttering, "you guys are silly.",
which translated loosely means, "you guys look like big rejects, and I
wouldn't be caught dead doing the pogo to Simon and Garfunkel.
Now, was my friend embarrassed because she was a bad dancer? I highly doubt
it, because frankly, the rest of wouldn't have made it as Solid Gold dancers
by a long shot. No, she was embarrassed by the very idea of our doing silly
dances in the living room! WHO the hell was she trying to impress? There
was no one else there but us, and we were all dancing! Was she afraid that
we all got up and acted like freaks just to trick her into doing it too?
Deep down I think we're all afraid that everyone is cooler than us.
The real problem with people is this...we are all initiates of the cult of
Cool. People fear looking stupid SO MUCH that they would rather sit on
their asses and dis every good thing that another person tries to do than
get up and take the risk that they might look like asses. This really mega
sucks. If everyone has this "'m too cool" attitude in order to protect
their ego from harm, then nothing but NOTHING is ever going to get done
that's worth doing.
"I'm too cool to care about the environment"
"I'm too cool to show my friends and family how much I love them"
"I'm too cool to cry in front of other people"
"I'm too cool to be kind to someone who is different than me"
When people die, they regret the things they DIDN'T do. The cult of Cool
teaches us NOT to stand out in a crowd. NOT to take risks. NOT to rock the
boat. The cult of Cool teaches us to go against what our hearts tell us.
Fuck that. Let's all be the biggest geeks we can.

Little Bird wrote:

What is wrong with people is that they don't have fuzzy stuffed owls. The
consumption levels of food that are fun, including bananas because they are
funny shaped, milkshakes because they are wonderful, and flying saucers from
England which defy description in a really good way, is way low. I don't
think enough people own kites and bubbles and way too many have debt and
issues. what's wrong with people is that they take themselves seriously and
ignore the world and don't travel to France just because they want really
good bread. But the most horrible thingI can think of that really shows
that something is not right in the state of humanity is SUVs. And people
buy them. Enough said.

Sandra Krider wrote:

I was trying to think of a flippant response, but I think I'll be serious.
None of us have our priorities straight. Like, we dwell on the stupid shit
and let the little things get in the way of bigger happiness. For instance,
I'm pretty DAMN happy in my life right now- and I spend every night bitching
about this chick I work with. How stupid is that?

Also, I do think that "people" percentage-wise, would be on the whole
largely more intelligent if the entire southern region of this nation were
to suddenly self combust. Just think- no more bumper stickers that say "Yo
mama was pro-life, chile" and "Yankees 1, Rebels 0, Halftime".

Wouldn't the world be a better place?

Nathan Ferch wrote:

my first submission, which is a very small part of my disdain for people, of
which you can choose from which is the most merit-worthy or whatever.

people have very poor taste in music. consider the music selection at your
local hole-in-the-wall bar/tavern/club/cocktail lounge/lounge/etc. the general
idea of most jukeboxes in the usa seems to be to include albums to which the
average meathead or PPADG will find the song they "love so much!" (i.e. which
has been played to death in the past 1-20 years in the past. these poor
selections typically clog, have been clogging, and continue to clog the
jukebox for the duration of the night. in the rare cause that there is some
sort of conspirative miscalculation and the jukebox remains silent for thirty
seconds or so, at which point there is an eggo-commercial style standoff,
eventually resulting in an even higher amount of shitty music played.

call me snide, call me vain, call me an elitist, but i think most people have
some intrinsic major malfunction that causes them to give their hard-earned
dollars to some record playing machine to hear songs they have undoubtedly
heard thousands of times in the comfort of their abode. why not try and
educate the general moron masses with some songs they have never heard, and
by-golly, may actually like, then bore with some drivel that they've heard
time and time again.

i love pavement.

David Johns wrote:

I must say that my opinion of "what's wrong with people" has gone from "They
just suck." to "What's right with them is their hearts. Even if their actions
are wrong, it is usually a well-meaning heart that is the behind it all.

Nathan Hall wrote:

Technology is wrong with people...Matters of convenience...People working on
LABOR DAY...Coffee flavored beer...Beer flavored water...Water flavored
caffeine... Enya fans (Jesus Christ!)...Emotional connection to inanimate
objects...Poorly trained dogs...Racism..Sexism..Pessimism.

Luke Arthur wrote:

Procrastinators! That's what's wrong with people ... you're all

Katherine Olson wrote:

All of the above. None of the above. If I knew the answer, I wouldn't be asking the question. Maybe people just don't want to really listen to each other, or to themselves. Maybe they are afraid of what they will hear. Maybe they just need a good night's sleep and a balanced diet. Maybe it is time for a nap and a snack. Maybe we all need to lay off the smack.

"Blessed are the peacemakers..."

"Blessed are the peacemakers..."

...for they need all the blessings they can get.

...for they shall be told to mind their own business.

...for they shall be accused of favoritism by all sides.

...for they shall be the recepient of stray blows.

...for they shall be stuck cleaning up the mess.

...for they shall be called sons of God.

So I ended up

So I ended up going with Mexican. It came down to the fact that all of my errands where based near that restaurant. However, Laredo's is a Mexican restaurant, not a "Mexican" restaurant like Chi-chi's. I would have to say that it is the Mexican equivalent of The Paradise, the Italian place run by Primo and Segundo in The Big Night. It is my brother's favorite place to eat, and they give my a lot of food. I received a tamale, and enchilada, and rice and beans--a ginormous serving--for under $7. I ate until I could eat no more and felt happy and full for the rest of the day.

Not sure where the next stop will be, but there are certainly a lot of possibilites. I noticed while taking a walk yesterday evening that in a row are: Kabul--Afghan food, Buraka--African food, Jaimie's--cookies, and Husnu's--Italian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern, all of these just down the street from State Street Brats. Almost like being in some specialty food section of a fair. Not bad for a smallish city.

Ok, I am preparing

Ok, I am preparing to go to lunch, the first lunch in my ethnic food adventure. I am currently debating Greek, Mexican, Jamaican, Japanese, African, or Laotion. (I could go to an Afghani restaurant, but I think 6 choices is more than enough for now.)

I'll let you know how it goes.

"What would you say

"What would you say is your greatest weakness?"

Well, I would have to say that I can be overly empathetic. I tend to be able to see and understand both or all sides of a situation, so it can be difficult for me to choose sides. When in doubt, I frequently take the side of the underdog. This can sometimes lead to devil's advocate situations, and can be downright unpopular.

Honestly, I think this is one of the silliest job interview questions ever. That and "Where do you see yourself in 5 (10) years?"

I almost forgot to

I almost forgot to mention the point of that particular song quote. He sang that on tonight, and it was a special favorite of mine about the time I was graduating from college. (That and "Ruin My Life", which is still a favorite.) It ties into the Shawna Gale bit because it acknowledges that, yes, sometimes you do just have to put on your apron and the stupid hat and smile big. "Would you like fries with that?"

"You say you won't

"You say you won't give in to temptation just to get ahead, You say you won't apologize for the nasty things you've said. You say you won't compromise your principles anymore, Let me tell you something: everyone's a whore!

Everybody does things they don't want to do,
Why should life be different for you?
But you say you'll never compromise your principles anymore,
Let me tell you something: everyone's a whore!"

Yup, I just got back from the first Pat McCurdy show I have been to in ages. It used to be that I went every week, but it is harder to stay out till midnight when you have to get up the next day at 6AM to teach. Thank god for spring break. I've really missed these shows. I am considering taking on week a month where I just say, to hell with it, and go anyway. If I am tired and dragged out the next day, so be it.

I think if and when I ever leave Madison, that will be one of the things that I miss the most. Pat McCurdy is best live, and while listening to the CD's may bring back memories, they can't replace the actual experience. (One of the reasons why people who have only heard his recordings aren't as impressed...alot of it comes from the energy and the improv.)

Not only was it a great show, but I got to see some people that I hadn't seen in awhile. This had some positives and some negatives. There were one or two people who I could really have done without, but what can you do? In a crowded bar, you just have to get over yourself. I also got hit on a lot, mostly by guys I have known for years. Mostly it was joking around and in good fun. One guy did cause me a bit of awkwardness. I couldn't figure out if he was actually serious. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was a wee bit drunk and very familiar. He isn't normally a huggy guy, but he was tonight. Very odd. I decided that was the time to make a graceful (and quick) exit, before I had to figure out what was going on.

I also got to see more baby pictures of Julian, Pat's 11 month old. Muchly cute.

OK, I will admit

OK, I will admit that the tone of Shawna Gale's essay on post-college unemployment could at times come across as "whiney", but I am surprised to see how strongly people have come down on her for it. What many take for a petulant whine of a spoiled college kid, I see as a cry of justified frustration.

I first came across the article on the Dreaded Purple Master, where he (and some of his readers) responded with a smug put down of her arguments. He wasn't alone. I am certain that a bit of searching would find even more criticism. Ouch!

I have read her essay several times, and I don't get the sense that she feels "entitled" to a job, and certainly not that she should get one just because she spent a lot of money on a fancy degree. What she does seem to say is that she has worked very hard through 17 years of school, is bright and driven, and has a degree to back that up. I am in a similar situation, and I feel for her.

So, she has an english degree. Her detractors like to claim that she should have gotten a "more practical" degree, like marketing, or at least a practical minor. To this I respond, why? An english degree is a degree that requires just as much work to obtain as a marketing degree. An english degree shows that you have critical thinking skills, an ability to read and understand what you are reading, and writing and communication skills. Are those not good to have? An english degree is flexible. With a marketing degree, you can go into marketing...what else? She states that she has applied for jobs in marketing, advertising, and publishing.I can see the skills behind and english degree being suited to any of those field, and more. I guess there is a flip flop that happens in schooling. For a number of years, students will be encouraged to get specific, business related degrees. Those degrees, they are told, are important to have to get ahea in the world. Suddenly, that changes. Get a liberal arts degree, say the guidance counselors. Employers want to hire people who are flexible and have critical thinking and writing skills. Then they go back to hawking the business and tech degrees. It is all a matter of when you went to college.

(Besides which, how many innovations would be made in business and industry is everyone in them came with exactly the same degrees?)

Others say, well she should just go into teaching. Admirable notion, and lord knows we need qualified teachers in this country. However, as I am discovering, teaching is *not* for everyone. You need to like kids. You need the patience of a saint. You need nerves of steel. You need to be good at the art of instruction. You need to be able to put up with administrative bullsh*it and parents who want you to work miracles, but won't do their own part. I wonder how many of the people suggesting that she should teach have ever tried it themselves. (Some have, but probably not all of them.)

Some are offended that she "looks down on real work." She says that she could be hired rightaway in food service or retail, without her degree. Yup. There is nothing wrong working in with food service or retail. I have held jobs in both fields. Most everyone I know has, at one time or another. That doesn't change the fact that those jobs tend to have long hours (usually standing) for little pay and no benefits. That doesn't change the fact that while there are nice and reasonable customers, there are also hordes of horses' asses that make the job hell on wheels. That doesn't change the fact that few people seem to understand the proper way to tip, and that some things are just out of the waitstaff's hands. Working in retail and food service and pay the bills, but it is certainly draining. To make it even more draining, come home from that draining, mind numbing, underpaying job for which you don't even need a degree and then write out a check to pay for the student loans that will be with you for at least the next 10 years.

(For those of you who are about to say, "Student loans? Bah! I *worked* my way through school." I worked during school, too. I usually worked several jobs at a time. I still needed loans to be able to pay for it.)

Is she saying that she deserves a job for no other reason than that she went to Yale? I don't think so. Does she acknowledge that the economy has made it difficult for everyone? Yes she does. So want is her point?

I think her point is that our country has a screwed up view of education and college degrees. On one hand, they over value them. In my high school, if you were "bright" you were supposed to take all the academic classes and then go on to a 4 year college. If you weren't they encouraged you to take shop, and then go to the army or a tech school. I got a lot out of college as an experience, but in some ways I would have been better off if I had taken more art classes, and then gone to the area tech school for an associate's degree in commercial art and photography. (Of course, without that 4 year degree, joining the peace corps or getting a job teaching in Korea would be out of my league, along with a whole slew of jobs that require a bachelor's degree, any field.)

On the other hand, our country undervalues liberal arts degrees, and the amount of work that is involved in obtaining them. Sure, some majors may seem less relevant than others. I almost got my BA in musicology before I realized that there was little future in that as a field-specific career. That doesn't change the fact that even the most "blow-off" classes that I ever took in school involved serious work. I may not remember all of the facts that I memorized in school, but certainly carried a heap of skills away with me.I can research,I can think clearly,I can present my thoughts in an organized manner,I can work my butt off to meet deadlines,I can organize my time.... Don't employers want that?

Of course, I am not looking for the same sort of work as Ms. Gale. I decided long ago that I don't want an office job, any more than I want retail. I haven't hit on exactly what I will do with myself, and I am working to pay the rent until then. I am doing things to add to my skills, and I am keeping my eyes open for jobs which meet my interest as well as my abilities. When I find that job, I just have to hope that they are willing to hire me. Like Ms. GaleI can state that being unemployed is no fun.

Oh. Wow. I just

Oh. Wow.

I just saw The Others. If you haven't seen it yet, please do. It was so amazing. I have never been at a movie where people in the theater actually screamed. Jumped yes, but screamed never.

"A bird in the

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

Old proverb, almost cliche. Still, I think I must find a way to apply this in my own life. I think the biggest problem is figuring out which bird is in your hand, and which two are still in the bush.

Grr. I'm trying to

Grr. I'm trying to make one tiny change to correct a problem in my template, and it keeps timing out. Ack, I just need to put an "a" into "a href". Is that so wrong?

Okay, I know you

Okay, I know you were all waiting for this with baited breath. It is :
The Story of Brick Red

A day or so into first grade, my teacher gave the class a coloring assignment, wherein we had to color each part of the picture and assigned color. This was cool with me, though a bit backward. I had been drawing with my dad as soon as I could hold a crayon in my chubby little hand. We owned one or two coloring books, but had very little use for them. My real delight came in the form of newsprint sheets the size of a six-year-old, and a gallon bucket of crayons. Coloring in a pre-drawn picture with pre-selected colors wasn't prime, but it sure beat learning math.

The required school supply was a 24 box of crayons. My parents, bless their hearts, had provided me with the Crayola 64 box, with built-in sharpener. I was in love with it. I especially loved the selection of deep hues. I preferred "brick red" to plain red, red-orange to plain orange, "maize to plain yellow, "pine green" to plain green, and "midnight blue" to plain blue and blue-violet to plain purple. However, I still recognized that while the hue might be slightly different, the color was still the color. So when the instructions asked for red, blue, green etc., I used my favorite versions of those colors.

As I was blissfully coloring away, my teacher suddenly swooped down upon me, accusing me of using the wrong colors. This was a woman who terrified me under good circumstances. She had a harsh voice, sensible shoes, a helmet of hair, and a perpetual scowl. I was positive that she was actually the Wicked Witch of the West. ("I'll get you my pretty...") School was a completely new thing to me after the freedom of years at home, and I was shy and scared and afraid of doing something wrong. I tried to explain myself, to justify myself. She told me I was only supposed to have 24 crayons. Fear, shame and anger spilled over into tears. Tears spilled over into hysterics when she yelled at me to stop crying. In short order my six-year-old self was cooling down and hiccuping in the principal's office.

When my tale of woe reached my parents, they were both indignant and amused. My father, the artist, found it particularly ridiculous. There were calls to the school, parental discussions, and then a gentle edict that I limit my color experiments to my free time, and stick with the basic colors for assignments. This was only the first of many instances of my parents going to bat for me and my siblings versus the suits at school, a trend that continued until my brother got out of high school. (Unless you count my Mom vs. the Webster University financial aid office when my sister was in college.)

Boo-Yah!!!! I made it

Boo-Yah!!!! I made it to spring break!

OK, so I have no money and I'm not going anywhere, but that isn't the point. The point is that for the next weekI can A. Go out late. B Sleep in. and C. Not have to be "The Grown Up."

Was that rambling enough

Was that rambling enough for you? <sheepish grin>

As much as the

As much as the contents of the anti-terrorism legislation that was just pushed through scares me (apolgies about the link...the flashing bugged me to....just scroll down and it goes away), this stuff scares me even more. If I am going to have my civil rights unjustly removed, I would rather that it was for unfounded allegations of treachery than for unfounded allegations that I was psychotic.

My own brushes with the mental health profession have been slight, but have been enough to leave me sceptical.

(Necessary backstory: From time to time I get lightheaded and dizzy, or even black out if I stand too quickly, particularly if I stretch. My doctor told me this is due to low blood pressure and is fairly common, but nothing to worry about.) During my freshman year in high school I fainted while leaving homeroom. I had been kneeling for about 15 minutes, and had sprung from my seat when the bell rang. UsuallyI can remain standing and even carry on as if nothing was happening during blackout, but as I was already in motion when it happened, I smacked down onto the floor. I was escorted to the nurses office to lie down for a bit and drink some oj. I had no objections to this, as it got me out of class for a while. As I was sipping the juice, the school's guidance counselor showed up. I have no idea if he actually had any credentials for was a private school. He had been a grade school principal the year before and the next year he became the principal of the high school.

He told me that he had concerns that I wasn't eating. He basically said that he thought I was anorexic. I told him that, yes, I was eating and no, I was not anoxeric. Sure, we all know what denial means, don't we? I was badgered for over and hour before I realized that the only way I was ever going to get out of there was a tearful "confession". The Gulf War had just begun, and I had joked around with friends about going on a hunger strike to end the war. I decided to use that as my story, summoned some tears, and sniffled out my sad little tale. Fortunately he bought it despite, or maybe because of the melodramatic cheese. I studiously avoided any contact with him the rest of my years at that school.

Nowadays, as I look at the children that the school system has given over to be labeled and medicated, I am wary and sad. I have a feeling that if the child that I once was were placed in the public school system today, she would be given a label, a case file, and medication. I know they tried very hard to do the same thing to my younger brother. I was a good kid, but I was shy and sensitive. I cried easily when upset. I had a fierce temper that other children delighted in provoking. I was also used to the way my parents and their friends treated me with the same respect as they gave each other, and I expected it from the adult in charge of me in school. I was used to questioning authority when they gave me ridiculous commands. (My parents usually backed me up in this. Ask me about "brick red" sometime.) I did my work, but preferred to spend my time reading or drawing. I had an extremely active imagination. I see my young self reflected back at me in some of these "cross-categorical special education" students.I can relate to them, especially when they chafe against the rigidity of the school heirarchy. I feel for them, and the child in me wants to intercede for them, to translate for them so that the adults can understand what is going on. It wouldn't work, though. I amone of those adults now,and part of the heirarchy. I am the authority figure against whom they will now rebel.

How does this happen?

March is just evil.

March is just evil. No, not evil, e-Vile. It is tricky and mean. Yesterday it was about 42 degrees for the first of spring. Today I woke up to a world covered in white snow. The temp was 19, and very windy. I don't even want to think about those tulip sprouts in my garden right now.

Ok, I think Harry

Ok, I think Harry Browne has made some excellent points. Yet Andrea Harris and many like her continue to see this as "weasel behavior". What will it take for these people to realize that discussing the role of America's long standing, faulty foreign policy in perpetuating terrorism does NOT mean that the writer is, "being a coward who secretly admires thugs like Usama bin Laden. After all, doesn't he have a legitimate grievance?"

WTF? How does "The difference between relatively harmless thugs and truly dangerous thugs is the real grievances the dangerous ones can play upon. They are still thugs, but they gain the support of honest, peace-loving people who have been pushed to the limit." become admiration for bin Laden, the truly dangerous thug?

[Belated] Blessed Equinox, BTW.

[Belated] Blessed Equinox, BTW.

So, Jox is back.

So, Jox is back. He is ok, though looking a little indignant with a shaved behind. Apparently it was a blocked urethra or something. He should be fine, and I think the fact that I have actually made mention of a cat's urethra in a public forum is ample penitence for having had ill wishes towards him. That's that for me and the cat.

"Rip Their Lungs Out",

"Rip Their Lungs Out", by William Rivers Pitt on, March 13, 2002. YES!!!! This is exactly what I have been wondering for awhile now.

Ok, I know that

Ok, I know that I am not the first person to have noticed the eerie parallel of the pilot episode of The Lone Gunmen and the events of 9/11. I have found a number of conspiracy theory websites that make mention of it, but so far nothing in the mainstream news. I's like to find something in the mainstream new. Anything. I have found articles on Salon and Wired from March, 2001 discussing the pilot episode, which featured a shadowy plot to send a commercial airplane full of passengers into the WTC. I have even found a transcript of a radio interview with Chris Carter in which Carter states:

"Yeah. It's a caper about people who are trying to actually fly a jet into the World Trade Center, so it has great special effects. It's really a funny story. It's got tight plotting. It's all those things you'd expect from “The X-Files” but with three new guys."

However the only post-9/11 mention I have seen from the mainstream that comes close is from this article:

"There is a feeling among people in show business that we contributed to a culture that let its guard down," said Chris Carter, the creator and executive producer of the popular television show "The X-Files."

Now, I am not ready to be a conspiracy theorist, nor am I one of those "blame the media" people. However, isn't this this sort of thing that calls for a "Holy Sh*t!"? I just remembered the episode and the similarity tonight, but I only ever watched one episode of the show, and that was a year ago. Don't you think that with all the people out there whose lives revolve around TV, professionally or otherwise, someone would have made a bigger deal out of this? Or have I just missed it?

Another thing is brought

Another thing is brought to mind. Last Friday, a little girl called me a racist.

I was subbing for a middle school choir director, and the class of 6th graders was watching a video. Two girls kept getting into little fights, and being disruptive. One was Muslim and one was black. I didn't care about that. To me, they were just two noisy 6th graders who were causing problems for the class. I couldn' tell who started it, and it didn't matter. I have a low tolerance for the garbage that goes along with that. My usual policy is to tell kids to work it out themselves. I give them some examples of how they can do that, and then I leave them be. Usually it works. Only rarely do I have to intervene further. I told them to stop bugging each other (and everyone else) or I was going to seperate them. Shortly after that, the little Muslim girl walked up to my chair in tears. I told her to go sit on the other side of the room. As she walked off, the black girl shouted, "She gave me the finger!"

I didn't see it, the first girl's back was to me. I didn't feel like causing further disruption to the rest of the class searching for witnesses over a silly gesture. I told her to be a big person and ignore it. We could deal with it later. "You're racist," she said. She meant it, too. Or she thought she did. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. I'm still not.

I suppose I should

I suppose I should mention why I brought that up. It all has to do with Jox, my roommate's cat. I'm not sure but may have cursed it.

(DISCLAIMER: This is probably an overly-long explanation.)

I am not really a cat person. They are ok at a distance and in small doses, but give me a dog anyday. My roommate has two cats, Two and Jox. They both drive me crazy with the shedding and the jumping on kitchen counters, but Two has the redeeming quality of extreme cuteness. Jox and I, on the other hand, do not get along. I think he is creepy--his face looks almost human. He also has a homicidal tendency to lie in wait on the stairs, ready to get under my feet in the dark. I often mused about how much nicer it would be if he was gone. Still, idle threats and name-calling aside, I would never intentionally harm the animal. Beside the fact that it just isn't in my nature, I know how much he means to my roommate.

Shortly before Christmas, Jox ran away. He ran away on a cold, rainy night and did not return even for the bowls of food placed out for him. Brian was beside himself. It was as if he had lost his son. Even Two moped around the house. Days turned into weeks with no sign of Jox. Hope was abandoned, and we began to adjust to being a one cat household. As much as I hated to admit it, I liked it. I didn't miss Jox at all, and part of me rejoiced at the fact that he was gone. On the other hand, I felt terribly guilty. I wasn't the one who let Jox out, but I felt like somehow I was responsible. How could I feel so joyful when Brian had lost his pet? I was an awful person, yes indeed.

At the end of January, as suddenly as he had disappeared, Jox was back. He had survived almost two months of winter on his own, and had turned up all the way across the city. Brian rejoiced, and we all adjusted again. Jox had gone a little bit feral. He hissed and growled at us and at Two. It took awhile to work him back into the swing of things. Gradually, it began to seem like he had never been gone. I stopped feeling guilty and went back to hating him again. I now had a new grievance to add to my list against him. Everytime a door was opened, he tried to run off again. Twice I had to chase him across the yard to catch him and bring him back. Once was while I was barefoot and the ground snow covered. Once was once slippery rocks during a snow storm. Each time I caught him I ranted to Brian about the fact that Jox still didn't have a collar, and that I wasn't going to run after him any more. This weekend Jox headed out the door and I got a scratch on my hand and a slightly stretched muscle in my back while grabbing him. At that point, while the steam poured forth from my ears, I really wished that Jox would just f*ck off and die.

Bad. Not good. As I write this, Jox is at the animal hospital. He is very sick, and Brian thinks he may not be coming back. Enter the guilt, round 2. The logical part of my mind realizes that my wishing that Jox would go away did not make him run off, nor did my wishing make him sick. The other part of my mind says that I am somehow responsible. Even if I am not responsible, I am a bad person for making those wishes. "Be careful what you wish for..." Wishing is not to be taken lightly. I'm learning. For Brian's sake I hope Jox gets better very soon.

I'd like to take

I'd like to take a bit of time to talk about Vodun and the Roma. Popular culture likes to make "voodoo" and "gypsies" into sources of horror and amusement. I admit that I, too, have read the fiction and played the games. I love the X-files and Buffy as much as the next person. However, I think we need to think about what we are dealing with. Would we use any other religion or ethnic group in such a way? Come on people. Don't make me turn thus car around.

Amazing how much an

Amazing how much an hour of physical activity and exertion can improve one's outlook on life.

I also think there is something to be said for racing down the candy aisle of the supermarket, holding onto the shopping cart, feet off the ground.

"While unemployment affects one's

"While unemployment affects one's approach to dating, it also affects one's general outlook on life. The other day, a friend of mine said that she believes many people in our generation are in an early mid-life crisis. Upon graduating from college, many of us were able to quickly find a job that paid decently regardless of whether it was something we really wanted to do. Now that no one can find a job, people are forced to think about what they really want from life and what will truly make them happy."

And how! I think even before my unemployment last fall I was considering this question. My big problem seems to be that I want things that are diametrically opposed. I want to buy a house and get a dog. I want to pull up stakes and see the world. Should I stay or should I go? I want both, dammit.

I look around and despite what the census report released in June of 2001 says, people my age and younger are settling down and buying houses. In the next two months, I am going to two weddings. Two of my best friends from high school have been married for a couple of years now. Three of my former co-workers are in various stages of engagement and wedding planning. Two of my former co-workers are in the process of buying houses. I also got word through the grapevine that my last ex is now engaged. That is a lot of settling down.

On the flip side, one of my dearest friends is in France, teaching English. Previous to that she spent the summer in England. While in Europe she has taken side trips to Spain and Greece, and will soon be adding Italy to that list. Even as her teaching contract comes close to its end, she contemplates were to go next. Poland? Australia? More France? The world is her playground and, in spite of missing peanut butter and mac 'n' cheese, she is terribly happy. Other friends and acquaintances have spent time in Japan, Germany, Puerto Rico, and China. Even the updates in Lori McCleese's blog are a reminder that my generation has many wanderers.

So here I am, stuck in the middle.

I despise renting. The whole process bores and disgusts me. The searching, the constant moving, the questionable landlords, the rules and regulations, the security deposits, and most of all, the monthly payments that go absolutely nowhere. No matter how much rent you pay, there is always another payment due. Very few landlords in my city allow tenants to own dogs. Of those that do allow dogs, even fewer are renting apartments in which I would feel comfortable keeping a dog, much less myself. However, buying a house does not seem to be in the cards right now.

An article about homebuying for 20-somethings stated that their calculations were, "based on a hypothetical college grad’s starting pay of $40,000." Say what? I've been out of college for three years now, and only broke the $20,000 mark once. I checked with my credit union and with WHEDA and based on their calculationsI can afford to buy a cemetary plot and pitch a pup tent on the land.

On the travel front, the main things holding me back are finances and personal wussiness. I have had my passport for twp years now, just long enough for me to look nothing like my picture. It sits quietly in a drawer, as clean and unmarked as the day I got it. I can't afford to take a travel vacation and I never seem to win any "get-away" contests, so short-term travel is out. What that leaves is either joining the Peace Corps as UW-Madison grads are wont to do or take a job teaching English. The Peace Corps is a two year commitment, and most jobs teaching English overseas require a one-year contract. That is a long time. While I want to see the world, the thought of leaving behind everyone I know and love to spend a year among strangers whose languageI can not even speak leaves me cold. MaybeI can find a middle ground. Or maybe this is another fire tower for me to climb.

*sigh* I think I am chasing my tail right now. Time to go the the gym and clear my head.

March. What is with

March. What is with this month? Yesterday I snoozed in the sunshine and today it is snowing.

Last night I found

Last night I found myself watching Fear on MTV and it got me thinking about purposely doing scary things. I don't really know how I would fare on that show. My sensitivity to the tone of my environment, plus an active imagination might get the better for me. It might do me good, though.

I think there are two kinds of scary things. The first is, "This scares me, so I shouldn't do it." Changing a lightbulb with wet hands would fall into this category. The second is, "This scares me, so I had better do it." Climbing the fire tower would fall into this category.

When I am in northern Wisconsin during the summertime, I like to to go the Lakewood Fire Lookout Tower in the Nicolet National Forest, provided the weather is right. The tower is fairly standard as fire lookout towers go; about 100 feet tall and constructed of thin steel beams. On a good day you can see over the treetops for miles around, and the view is quite spectacular. Unfortunately, in order to see that view you must climb a steep, narrow stairway that feels quite rickety, up and up and up. The wind blows past unimpeded, causing ominous rattling and shaking. The closer to the top you climb, the more it feels like the whole thing is going to come apart. The tiny room at the top gives little comfort to those inclined towards vertigo. The trip back to earth is in some ways harder, as the stairs are steep almost to the point of ladder-like. Walking down them gives the sensation that one false step will send you pitching forward off the tower. Whenever I go to the tower, my stomach drops out for the duration of my stay. Never-the-less, I make myself climb, weak-kneed or not. I will conquer my fear, rather than the other way around.

There are more things that scare me. Maybe I should do some of them.

I just fell asleep

I just fell asleep outside on my porch for the first time in about six months. I love this sunshine.

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