Thursday, December 21, 2006

Virgin birth

Check it out!
Virgin birth expected for Komodo dragon in UK zoo

Of course, we recall that "love can't replace a mother and a father."

But nature can. COOL!


And on that note, we are all heading off to do the family thing in California for the holiday. Sadly, Mom-Vicky has to be in Greece, having lost her Dad, Luther's Papou (grandfather), a few weeks ago. Our hearts are very much with her, and we promise not to trash her house while she's gone.

In January, I'll be traipsing up to Toronto and then St. John's to see the Canadian side of the family.

And then when I get home, Luther and I will be looking at exactly what crazy things we want to do for our 2007.

How hard can it be?

Happy holidays, all!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Slavery Controversy

One of the things we talked about at dinner with friends recently was the concept of the "Slave controversy."

To graduate with any degree from a Georgia state college or university, students must learn some Georgia history. Luther had his history from a California college, so he was given the option of taking a "test out," and had to read a study guide for Georgia history. The little book spoke often of the "slave controversy," as if there was any controversy. Slavery, bad. No controversy at all!

Meanwhile I have to admit that the "Tape controversy" continues. Here's the thing: 3M Scotch Gift Tape (Invisible) sucks! Holy smokes, I had no idea, but seriously, it don' stick so good!

I wound up practically begging for the shiny tape Luther originally purchased. And in some cases, I used a stapler.

Invisible tape my ass. If it is invisible by virtue of not being used, why buy it?

ily Luther. Thank you for the tape, and for helping me with the boxes. You rock.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Letter to a friend

My dear friend 4.0,

I'm sorry it has been so long since my last contact. I admit, my thoughts have been so full of other things, I have once again failed to give you the attention you deserve. And here you are again, the end of another long semester, propping me up when my own efforts should have been deemed insufficient at best. All I can say is, thank you.

Remember when I thought I'd lost you forever? I even gave your eulogy! I had so little faith, it seems, but you were stronger than I'd thought possible, and held on, and stayed with me.
The thing is -and I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but... it seems like the longer I have you in my life, the more pressure you put on me. I know you have high standards, and I know you mean well, but sometimes I try to avoid you so that I can relax, put my feet up, have a drink or three, and just get by, you know?

So if I don't seem as attentive as I should, I hope you'll understand. I know I will, when you finally leave me. Maybe... next semester.

Your friend,
bekbek

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Well, whattaya know?

Does anybody really know that they know stuff, that they can do stuff? Because it turns out that I typically just "can do" things, and I don't know that they're special skills until somebody goes wide-eyed and mentions that nobody else can do the same stuff. I mean, I sit there and say, "but... it's easy. It's not hard. Anybody could do it."

Is that normal? Or do most people actually know that they have talents? I wonder what that would be like.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas Twenty Questions

Since I'm clearly not writing a novel anytime soon, and the screenplay is going nowhere fast, and the Simplicity comic is still just a bunch of sketches showing no sign whatsoever of developing into actual drawings... I have time for a survey! This one is courtesy of Bill Cameron, who got it from some other fine folks, and so on, and so on...

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
You know it's interesting, but I bought some egg nog recently, on my way home from gift-shopping, thinking that I'd have some nog while setting up the tree, and... it's just not all that great. I mean, I like the taste fine, but it's awfully thick and awfully sweet and in the end I'm wondering... wouldn't I rather have a beer?

That said, egg nog with Mount Gay is the way to go. Alternately, bittersweet hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and a dash of whipped cream. I guess the answer to this first question is, therefore: Both, and I'm clearly a drunk.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Santa doesn't exist, hello, but when the gift is for the whole household (including myself), it's a useful "from" name to use on the tag.

Presents are always wrapped. Even if you have to cover them with a Mexican blanket, there has to be some "unwrapping" going on, or there's almost no point!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
Both on the tree! I like the white lights because they look like little twinkling stars, but I like the colors because they're so festive.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No, it already grows on all the trees around here without my help or anything. Fancy that, eh? Mistletoe growing, like, for real and everything!

I get a lot of kisses. *wink*

5. When do you put up your decorations?
When the last of the homework is done, and especially when I'm itching to put some presents out. Have to have somewhere to put them! I put up the little plastic tree this year (just this past weekend), when normally I insist upon a real tree, because we're going to be in California for Christmas and the poor cat will be all alone in the house, and I figured a plastic tree with only the plastic ornaments was the way to go under such tempting circumstances. She's already been under it once, but to be honest I think she was more interested in the presents. I do love the little plastic ornaments...

We do have exterior lights, but man oh man are they a pain, so for the past few years they have just sat in the closet...

6 What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Fruit cake and Wensleydale cheese with port around the fire with Mom and Paul. And whatever they're serving for breakfast the next morning! YUM!

7. Favorite childhood Holiday memory?
This has to be when I bored everybody (Mom especially, I am sure) with a year-long campaign for an electric train set I was sure I could never actually have, and then Christmas came and the entire family got together to give me an N-scale train set. People just kept pulling little packages out of their pockets, and each one was an engine, or a car, or some plastic cows or something, and I got more and more and more excited, and then Dad and Paul went outside together and came back with a huge piece of plywood with a track nailed down to it, all ready to go! And then when we ran the train, a light came on inside the Pennsylvania line passenger car that my sister had given me, and you could see the tiny, tiny people inside, and it was almost like I was on a train trip with them.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
There has never been a Santa. "Santa" is a fun game that we play at Christmas. There are some movies and stuff that go along with the game. Miracle on 34th street was a particularly good little fantasy story.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
More and more often, yes, but I don't really like it. I miss the whole getting up early, all excited Christmas morning thing, and starting with the stockings, everybody in pajamas, and the sun just coming up, and the frost on the windows, and the shiny paper everywhere, and then breakfast and old movies on the television. But it gets harder and harder to find the old movies, and the presents are less and less likely to be toys that one plays with for the rest of the day, and one of us actually has to make the breakfast now, and I've gone and gotten mixed up with someone with a whole different set of traditions, to boot. So... the presents happen whenever, but usually early.

This year will be interesting because we'll be with Luther's brother and family. Sadly, Luther's Mom will be in Greece and not in California, because her father passed away last week. I don't know what Mike and Robin's traditions are, other than the upside-down tree. And what about our presents to each other? Do we open before leaving for California, or do we hold them until New Year's?

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
First, the annoying untangling of lights. I wrap them up perfectly nicely when I put them away, but somehow they never come out of the box like that. Then the ornaments one by one. I try to make an event out of it. I like to think about where we got each ornament and what it represents. But this year, like I said, most of the ornaments stayed in the box for safe-keeping and anti-cat-ness. I did hang our souvenir from Greece, though, in Mom-Vicky's honor and in memory of meeting her Dad in Athens a few years ago. It is a simple little brass cut-out of a pomegranate.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it. Of course this is easier to do, now that I never get to see any. I miss shoveling, but I think I would probably die of a heart attack if I actually had to do any.

12. Can you ice skate?
Bill wrote, "Not really. I mean, I can scoot around on skates a bit, but I have a hard time stopping and usually crash into the side of the ice rink. But I think it's very fun, actually." And this is a pretty good description of my relationship with skating, too. I used to be able to get up to a good speed, but that only works if there aren't too many other people skating, because my direction control is a little sketchy...

13. Do you remember your favorite gift for Christmas?
My absolute favorites are two gifts I gave to others:

The first was a tree that my sister and I got for Mom and Paul, when they were in Australia for the holidays but then unexpectedly were coming home in time for Christmas. We found an enormous blue spruce, absolutely gorgeous, and took it to Mom and Paul's house and set it up with lights, and the box of ornaments sitting next to it, ready to be put on the tree, and some champagne and cookies, and a little gift tag with a cartoon of my sister and me hanging on the tree. We got out of there just in time! Mom and Paul got home within a half hour of my leaving, and saw the twinkly lights when they were just getting the door unlocked.

The second was by own Ikea stuffed bear, which I put in a box and sent to Luther, his first Christmas after his marriage broke up, alone in the new little apartment without his kids. Apparently it arrived Christmas Day, and the postman decided to go out and deliver a few last packages so people could have their presents, and so Luther had his bear to hug, and it makes me cry all over again to think of.

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Getting a chance to remember what an amazing life I've led, with such an amazing family and wonderful adventures.

Also, the sappy movies.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert?
I do like pie, yes.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
The ornaments on the tree, I think.

17. What tops your tree?
Two stars, when the tree is big enough. One is from my life in Toronto, and the other is from Luther and the aformentioned "new little apartment" and the tree he decorated for his children. But if you read the "love tree" post already, you know all this.

One time, someone (it may have been Luther) asked me about the star on the tree. If I don't believe in God and the whole Christmas story, why the star? I said, "I believe in stars."

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving?
Yeah, the giving! I love to go all out, I love love love to come up with creative ideas for "just the perfect present." Sadly, this is not always possible, and then I admit to getting a little down. It's just not... as much fun, if I couldn't make them go WOW!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song?
White Christmas. And lots and lots and lots of Frank.

20. Do you like Candy Canes?
Not really. I'm not a hard candy person. But they sure can be pretty!

Thanks, Bill. :)

Monday, December 11, 2006

No plot? No problem!

I finally got around to getting caught up on my Optimist Realist reading the other day, and was amused to read about James Koole's six-word memoir. Six words!

How the heck does one do this? Mine could be... "Grew. How hard could it be?"

James came across the memoir-writing contest at a site called NaNoWriMo, for National Novel Writing Month -which apparently was all of November. I didn't even know there was a National Novel Writing Month, and now I've gone and missed it!

Still, my novel-writing prospects are looking up: As many of you know, I am plot-challenged, so the idea of actually sitting down and writing a novel pretty much sends me running. NaNoWriMo apparently has a solution for me:


Sounds good. Amazon has it, even. And after all, plot or no plot...
...yeah, yeah. How hard can it be?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's beginning to feel a lot like... What the HELL?!

Luther bought some scotch tape recently, because we were almost out. He didn't actually say, "and it's the Christmas season, and we'll be wrapping presents," but that was definitely what my mind conjured up when he mentioned the fresh rolls of tape in the drawer.

Today, I wrapped a couple of presents, and OH MY FREAKIN' GOD.

He didn't buy invisible tape.

Who the hell buys anything but invisible tape? Come to think of it, why do the tape people still make the non-invisible tape?

I mean, THIS IS BLASPHEMY, PEOPLE!

I fail to understand. I'm just sitting here, looking at these shiny blue and silver presents with the shiny strips of tape on them and shaking my head. What has the world come to?!

Also, I am printing the cards. If you must have a card, please send me your mailing address. I'm thinking my blog readership is very close to nil (but not nil, thank you, Jason), but all the same, it's a way to get the word out. If I don't have your address, I can't possibly dis you by failing to send you one of our cards.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

In the family way

Normally I really don't care to read what amounts to gossip about Mary Cheney, VP Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. But there wasn't any other interesting news, and I had to read something. This quote caught my eye, in an article on CNN.com:

"Love can't replace a mother and a father."

That's right. Because a committed, well-educated couple that will love and care for their child cannot ever, under any circumstances, be considered worthwhile unless it looks exactly like the ideal mommy-daddy family. It's the image that matters, not the child.

I don't get it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Forty Helens agree (but only one matters)

I have some really cool friends. Truth be told, a great many of them are people I rarely talk to, and this makes me sad, but at the same time honored. I know that part of why these are such great friendships is that if we go for a year or more without talking, we are still friends for life. One night at the Dip in Toronto with these people is enough to reaffirm something that will make me proud when I'm 90, and something that when shared with Luther, is enough to make the boy jealous... and thrilled at the same time. Thank you, my fine friends.

But I gotta take a moment to recognize the bizarre and horrific accident that is Helen Ferreira.

Helen was already working at Mag North when I started there years ago. I believe we first met in the tape room. Me, a late-twenties white chick with dreadlocks' she, a much younger Portuguese woman with hair out of a shampoo commercial.

It was only natural we should become friends.

Helen is caustic. That is the word. And uses a lot of syllables when she writes, but not so much when she talks. She can handle quite a few chocolate martinis, but sadly not quite as many as she drinks, upon occasion. And she is a gift queen.

Now understand, gifts are like... the meaning of life in my universe. Yup. To really show someone you care, you give a gift. To show you don't care, send a Hallmark card with nothing written in it.

Hallmark really wants you to believe the purchase is the gift, but here's the thing: It really is the thought that counts.

Once, Helen gave me some free plane tickets! Okay, so it was one of those timeshare things, but she'd tested it out and it wasn't going to be too annoying. Luther, me, and Luther's two boys went to Florida for more than a week. We went to Orlando and to Cocoa Beach. And of course we drove there, but our hotel? Paid for by Helen.

Today, we got a big box. Helen is living in London, England, and is working on her fantastic career in television and doing the crazy dating scene and being very far away... but Helen "couldn't resist" (her words) and sent us....

THE UGLIEST FUCKING PENGUIN COOKIE JAR.

I mean, it is foul!

But it came accompanied by the most to-die-for gourmet cookies, that...

Let me explain it this way: I am not actually all that keen on chocolate. Okay, relax, sit down, of course I enjoy chocolate, but yeah, I'm one of those truly unusual persons, I don't actually think of it as all that special. But there are some fudge chocolate cookies in this set that Helen sent to us... and um...

HOLY CRAP these are good!

So.

Helen Ferreira, ladies and gentlemen. She has the best hair in the whole world, is apparently an up-and-coming producer-type for Discover, and from London seems to be able to identify just the right gourmet bakery in Ohio, in order to send treats to Georgia.

I'm writing her number on all bathroom walls from this day forward.

That is all.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The electric squirrel effect

Here's something kinda cool: Right now, we are online courtesy of our minivan.

A few minutes ago there was a very loud BANG! and all our power went out. The whole neighborhood, in fact. Luther took it as an opportunity to test some equipment.

We get some big storms here, and we also have some really stupid squirrels. I don't really know why Toronto squirrels never blew up power sources at the same frequency as these Southern squirrels do, but there you have it. We are one squirrel down in Miller Hills, and the power is out, and there are bits of leg and a tail remaining on a cross bar at the top of a light pole out there.

Given the possibility of something larger than a squirrel taking out our power (you know, something like a hurricane), Luther a while back bought a little power converter, and today we are testing it out! The van is running, and the little box is hooked up. An extension cord leads from the van to a power strip in the den, where we've plugged in our cable modem and wireless router. Then another extension cord runs upstairs, where we've plugged in our laptops, though of course we could have done just fine with batteries for a little while.

And then *blink* look at that. Power is back.

But it's nice to know next time we have a hurricane, we can still recharge our laptop batteries. The cable would probably be out (something we didn't have to worry about today), so there'd be no highspeed internet. But we could get the homework done, at least.

Just another strange little snippet of life with Bekbek in the South. The electric squirrel effect. I'm thinking... BAND NAME!

Clotted cream

In case you really just haven't been listening, I have gained an enormous amount of weight since moving to the States. Now mind you, this is a period of almost seven years (wow!), so it's not like I came here and just ballooned overnight. And it must also be noted that I was not exactly svelte for most of my adult life in Toronto. But in the end (and the middle, quite a bit), I'm just outright fat now, and although I will acknowledge a good life that includes quite a bit of yummy beer, I blame the weight entirely on one thing: The automobile.

Last time I was in Toronto, I discovered that I was actually huffing and puffing a bit as I trekked around town. Of course I had reverted to my usual walking speed, which Luther says is much too fast. And of course I used transit and thoroughly enjoyed being back in my own element, where I know how to get from A to B and how to do so with a free stop (no extra token required) in order to pick up that bottle of wine on my way home. But on this last visit, it was clear that my body was no longer up to city life. It was shocking, to say the least.

More shocking still was a walk up some stairs the other day, when I was carrying my computer and my lunch pail, and I felt the stairs in my calves and my thighs, and got to the top a bit flushed and even light headed. What the hell?

All of a sudden I realized that on top of the walking that is normal in Toronto -because there is plenty of transit, but the bus doesn't pick you up at your door, and the subway is below the ground- there is the carrying to be considered. I never used a car (I didn't know how to drive, in fact), so not only did I walk a whole lot at a decent speed (because I wasn't walking to enjoy a walk, I was walking to get somewhere), but I carried everything I needed.

For those of you who drive daily, think for a moment about how much stuff you tend to have with you at any given time. Purse, maybe, if you're one of those girly types. Bag of books if you're a student. Mug full of coffee, or bottle of water, possibly a big bottle of water if you're spending the day out and about. Wallet, comb or hairbrush. Bottle of wine if you're on your way to that dinner party. Groceries you picked up on your way home. Four six-foot-long boards with which to build your brick-and-board bookcase in your new apartment. You get the picture.

I didn't just walk. I carried.

So here's the thing. In Toronto, I ate really well. It's hard not to eat well in a city so favored by fantastic restaurants and markets. I drank quite a bit, thank you. And I rarely exercised, if ever. I was not svelte, to be sure, but I was not a damn heffer either!

Next time I hear someone prattle on about improving their quality of life by getting out of the city, I'm going to give them quite a piece of my mind, I tell you. Yay, country life! Where you can become a very happy dumpling.

All of which came to mind sharply this morning as I was browsing some gift possibilities online, and came across a store that sells clotted cream. I was introduced to this delicacy at an impressionable age, and it remains the epitomy of fucking delicious in my mind to this day. A nice, fresh scone. A little dab of strawberry jam. And a generous dollop of clotted cream. The cream isn't sweetened. It's just cream, and it's rich, and incredible.

I won't be ordering any. Not until I have to once again walk to the store. At which point... I'll probably be somewhere that I can buy the cream in person.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Neither patience nor politics are possible for the sleep-deprived

This past week, I had a team project due in my Web Design class, worth a measely 35% of my final grade. Eh. How hard can it be?

Meanwhile I had an instructor's manual to proof and format. And my coworker at my day job was sick all week, so I was running two workstations. There was no time to sleep, and when I tried, I had a tendency to stay awake, fretting about this or that. Not least of the fret points was worry about Luther, worry about his having the support he needs to pursue his own studies, and frustration over Wil, who currently just doesn't do too much of value unless someone tells him point blank to do it and then continues to ask him about it if he is to continue doing it.

I'm not supposed to care. I told Luther I was done with caring. But it turns out, wishing doesn't make it so. Dammit.

Anyway, so the thing is, I've just been going on less and less sleep. Remember the good old days, when we got up after two hours of sleep and went to the dirty set, and shot some more until we felt like we were going to die, and then we did some more after that? Yeah. I'm not so much for that behavior now. I've gone all wimpy.

But truth be told, in those days, I didn't ever have to hold my tongue. That was not part of the deal, and it's a good thing because that's really stressful. And here in middle Georgia, I can't even wear jeans to work, so you know I can't say "fuck you" when I want to. Heck, I'm not even supposed to give my honest opinion most of the time.

And when I'm really tired, I kinda lose control of that aspect.

Two days ago, one of my coworkers was -yet again- mimicking an "Indian" customer service voice. You would not believe how often Americans bitch about this. They don't care about the fucking jobs, they just hate foreigners. Why should they have to put up with that "foreign" stuff? Ugh. So this guy I work with is doing a horrible job at putting on an Indian accent, and he says every other word was completely unintelligible.

To which I responded, "Oh yeah, I know what you mean! When I first came to Georgia, I could not understand a word these people were saying, good Lord, why don't they learn to speak English in Georgia?"

And I might add, it's true. I can't understand these people, even now. It's mostly okay in person, but I am truly grateful that Dell outsources its customer service overseas. If Dell hired Southerners for the job, Dell would go out of business within a week.

But that's the thing. Southerners don't actually pronounce English words as they were intended to be pronounced, but somehow that's okay, but the Indian guy on the phone, his inability to pronounce a few words is just inexcusable.

Idiots.

I proceeded to refer to my coworker as a foreigner. All you foreigners, I can't understand you. And that's when he really got offended. Up and down the hall he's exclaiming, Can you believe what Becky said? She called me a foreigner! Me!

You'd all be so proud of me. I came out of my office and walked past him saying, "Oh Bob, we're all foreigners in the Kingdom of Heaven."

So the next day, I've had even less sleep, right? And I was all by myself at work until one of my other coworkers came in for a little while, to check his email and so forth. And he likes to comment on Canadian news, usually in a pretty derogatory way, and what's surprising is that it took him this long to bring up the recent kerfuffle with Quebec and the Quebec nation and all that jazz, but yesterday he finally did it, and then proceeded to say that nobody likes Quebec, right?

I like Quebec. I'm quite fond of it. I'm very proud, in fact, to be from a country that has two languages, and quite ashamed that I don't speak the second one fluently. So I told him this, and he was suprised, and I said, "Well, I also like France," because I know how Americans love the French and all.

Off he goes, ranting about the arrogant French.

And I said, "I know! They think they're the center of the world or something, when we all know that's Americans."

He's no stranger to sarcasm, this coworker of mine, so he shifts gears and produces his "evidence" of how nasty the French are. He went there on a trip, and he actually tried to speak French, and he got sneered at.

Sneered at.

And I said something like, "I know! It's just like when some dumbass foreigner comes to the States and doesn't learn how to speak proper English! Gah! Learn to speak English, you dumbass! I mean, it's okay if you speak like a Southerner, because 'alls you know is you kin speak English better than them dirty Mayxicans,' because that's right'n'proper English, eh? But foreigners making their lame attempts at a second, third, fourth, or fifth language? I'd sneer at them too!"

He sort of backed down and then defended himself by saying he just didn't like how the French were "uppity." Uppity. That's right, those French people refuse to recognize their place. They keep acting like they actually have something to be proud of. Pfft. Nasty French people, not recognizing that Americans are the best.

Idiot.

I may actually lose my job shortly. But I finally got some sleep last night.

Life is good.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The magic of air travel



Exactly how many planes was he found on?!

Honestly, do they even hire editors anymore?

"Tea" stands for tequila, yes?

Did you ever notice how it never turns out to be the right week to quit drinking?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Jesus scares me

I just woke up from three nightmares. Three. That was some crazy turkey Luther cooked up, I guess.

In the most recent, the one from which I could not escape without an incandescent lightbulb and a computer screen, I was among a band of survivors in a surreal wilderness. It was one of those dreams in which I wasn't actually me, Becky, but rather shifted POVs from one character to the next. Near the end, I was a teen daughter, and I was on watch, and I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore, I was so sleepy, but the dark had gotten so close, and there were small animals getting more and more brave.

Just typing it, I feel the danger. The word for what I'm feeling is... Menace.

Before the daughter, I'd been her Dad. I got a message on my cell phone from a girl that I thought must have been one of my daughter's friends from school. She was leaving the city too, she said, and was coming to freedomland. There was something odd about her having called me instead of my daughter, and the thought flitted through my tired mind: Is she trying to hook up with me? It's hilarious now that the light is on, but in the dream it evoked a strange mix of feelings, a little arousal, a little added menace as I-as-the-Dad felt there was something inherently dangerous about a teenaged girl's sexuality, and horror and sadness both as I looked out at the wild counties that had failed and gone dark in this experiment gone horribly wrong, and I pictured her coming into this thinking she was coming to a paradise, and she'd be ripped to pieces by something before long.

It was a pretty wicked dream. That was just the tail end.

The one before it was like an appetizer, all the threat without any of the substance. Wil was powering up one of his video games, with some sort of oracle and lots of little text dialogue on the screen that you just click through. Somehow or other I agreed to play a round, and I had to climb and swing and try to escape moving structures while animals tried to get me and alligators circled below. It was still a game, mind you, not "real," except I had to actually climb around and stuff, and finally I swung wide to avoid the stupid squirrel that was attempting to run up my arm and bite my neck, and I missed the grab of whatever it was I needed to grab, and I fell to the alligators. I knew it was a game, but I still closed my eyes.

Then the crew packed up the game, but I still had the costume, and I tried to return it, and the guy at the counter made some crack about it being a secretary outfit, maybe I could use it, and I said, "yeah, okay, I can picture me going to work in red and black satin. I AM a secretary."

Which was probably supposed to be witty and ironic, but it sure looks lame now.

The first dream --am I trying to erase the disquiet by working backwards or something?-- was the most unsettling. Jesus was in it. I have to say, I have never before had Jesus in my dreams. That alone should have been enough to wake me up, shouldn't it?

It started with me walking down a rainy city street with my coworker, Olivia. From there, it gets pretty confused, but we were trying to get somewhere, and she had a coffee machine, and we did reach our destination, and I was glad to be with the person that could make coffee.

And then Jesus was there.

He had his loincloth and his thorns. He looked pretty skanky to be honest, and gray. He wasn't exactly a white guy, more like a little bit of everything, but sort of dusty and gray all over. He had eyes like a husky or a malamute, and kept doing that "looking into your soul" look at me, and I just kept frowning at him and reminding him that I'm an atheist.

The dream has faded a lot, so I forget what we were trying to accomplish. There was some danger, and there were a whole bunch of us together, a little like the wilderness dream. We were holed up in this building, we and Jesus, and some of the guys wanted to prove that Jesus was actually Jesus, so he did stuff like say my full name and birth date, even though he'd just met me. Stuff out of my wallet. A parlor trick, that's what I called it.

Only the weird part was that I was quickly certain that he was in fact Jesus. I just felt like the quest to prove it was a bit futile. And I didn't see any conflict between this being Jesus and his being the son of God, and my being an atheist. Now that I'm awake, I can sit here and wonder exactly how that works, but in the dream, that wasn't the problem.

The problem was that I was having a nightmare, so it had to get ugly, and it did. We reached out to other communities, trying to band together against the common threat (whatever it was). And the two Muslim guys that looked and acted unfortunately like every cardboard cutout terrorist of American movies were not convinced and were leaving, and they pushed by a friend of mine, and he fell down and hit his head, and he died.

I went into emergency mode, said to dial 9-1-1, got down there with the body and did... well, I don't know what I could have done, but Jesus was standing there and he said, "What's the point?"

What? I looked at him, and he was looking half bored and half annoyed at the whole thing. I said, "They can do something. They can start his heart again." And Jesus said, "No they can't. He's dead. Forget it." He was really dismissive, you know? And I was a little desperate about my friend. And Jesus made this move, with this whole attitude of being tired of parlor tricks and annoyed by the whole drama of the scene, and he said, "You want me to start his heart? Great." And he put his hand on my friend's chest, kinda clenched it, and my friend started breathing.

But then there was a seam that opened up lengthwise on the body. He was breathing, but his body was opening up. It was held together by Jesus's hand, clenched there, holding the skin together. And Jesus looked at me with his husky (or malamute) eyes, and he opened his hand, and the body fell open and all the guts started spilling out. And Jesus said, "See?"

Monday, November 20, 2006

On not blogging

I fell ill this morning. Later, I recognized the horrendous pain in my abdomen as that old ovarian cyst myth, a myth because it has never been proven, but still I find myself doubled over in pain every few years, and I don't bother going to the doctor because I know from experience just how long it takes to arrange an ultrasound and by then it will be all gone.

So tomorrow, I go back to work, and Sue my woundrous boss needs a brochure that I never have found the time or other wherewithall to put together for her, but I'm distracted because I have indeed read dozens of scholarly works on the value of portfolios as experiential elements in the learning process, and no, it's not just a "fad," and she asked me if I had, and I have, only... I didn't keep the papers.

Meanwhile my other woundrous boss Denise is sending me a new job and promising me fame and fortune or if not those things, at least a second pay check, so I'm excited to do the work. But at the same time I feel like I've somehow lost the plot on the class I'm taking, and I have a project partner who is counting on me so I need to get it together and build some wireframes and write up some... thing... that we need.

And the cat needs her stitches out. And today, our wireless network croaked again, and I got up all bleery-eyed from too much Dramamine and tried to fix it, and shocked myself by getting everybody back online... except for Luther. His machine can see the network, but it can't get on to the network. No apparent reason. No nothing. So tomorrow I need to go get a new network adapter on the off chance that this will fix the problem, and it won't, but I have to rule it out, so then I'll have to take it back and stand in line to return the stupid thing.

Ack.

So if I'm not blogging... eh. You understand.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Let it snow!

Someone from one of the other departments here at work just came by to tell us that they had their Christmas tree up and we had to come see it.

American Thanksgiving is next week. So it's a good thing they've got their Christmas tree up. Just in time!

Apparently it is a "display tree." It only has a few branches, and the way they're arranged allows room for "those Christmas villages."

Will somebody please help me to understand what the deal is with little Christmas houses and villages? I bet they come complete with fake snow. The idyllic Christmas village, so perfect and peaceful, so full of perfect little English people.

I think I need to get a muddy Christmas river and some Christmas alligators to decorate my living room. Yes, I need to spend some time decorating this year, because it's one of those important womanly things to do after all. On my muddy Christmas river, I'm going to put a Christmas tire, with a little chocolate boy floating down the Christmas river, past the Christmas alligators.

As we get closer to the actual holiday (in other words, maybe past Thanksgiving), I can start removing limbs, since the Christmas alligators will have got them.

It will be... oh, so sweet...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Simplicity haiku

This Simplicity:
A cat with nine little lives
is in her springtime

Cherry blossoms bloomed
and she fought and defended.
Now she is sleeping.

Claws stretch tense and curl.
Her black fur rises and falls
like the shortened days

The wounded shoulder
a mark of home at last.
Now she is sleeping.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Three in the news

I've got some unrelated snippets for you on this balmy Saturday morning (after 2 a.m., I can call it morning, right?).

The first was sent to me by my bestest friend, Luther.
Humiliated frat boys sue over 'Borat' portrayal
Some apparently intoxicated assholes that got caught on camera for the movie Borat are suing because they don't like the fact that everybody can see they are assholes. Luther sarcastically expressed sympathy for the boys, because obviously they would never, ever enjoy a Girls Gone Wild video, what with those drunken girls that, I'm sure, consulted with a lawyer before signing the waiver agreeing to be on camera, right?

Well that's different, honey. The girls in the Girls Gone Wild videos are HOT CHICKS GETTING WILD!

Totally different, right? Thank you, Luther. :)

Meanwhile, courtesy Google News, I learned that I should experience mild surprise over doctors Googling for medical answers. Duh. Yeah, and it's about time, really! Information Week suggests
Advice For Doctors Stumped By A Difficult-To-Diagnose Illness: Google It
answering the question, "just how awkward can a headline be?"

Why did they have to do a study on this? Googling might turn up answers that are otherwise difficult to find, you say? AWESOME! I never knew that! And here I was, thinking I should rely solely on my own brain and those dusty old books on the shelf, because certainly the billions of people posting information on the Web have nothing of interest to offer.

This, not surprisingly, reminds me of a wee event in my own life. Yay, it's story time!

A few years ago, when we were living in the little apartment and Luther was still in the Air Force, I discovered a lump in my armpit. Yup, a fat old lump. It was tender, and it worried me, so I went online and started poking around for medical advice.

The problem with lumps anywhere near breasts is that you cannot get away from the breast cancer scare. I mean, I'm looking at my lump, right? and I'm thinking, "that looks like a lump in my armpit. That does not look like a breast cancer." But you have to really use your minus signs like crazy to get a search engine to ignore the articles about breast cancer, because the search engines really, really, really want to tell you that you might have breast cancer.

Once upon a time I read about how Victorian doctors pinned all ailments in women on their reproductive systems. I should link to an article here, but I'm all out of Google search wisdom on this balmy Saturday morning (it's now almost 2:45, woot!). The gist was that if a woman was sick, it had to have something to do with reproduction. A man could actually be sick, sure, but a woman... yeah. So here I am with this lump in my armpit, and it's like all roads lead to breast cancer, because obviously women are nothing without their titties (conveniently linking us back to Girls Gone Wild -I should change the name of my blog at this point).

Finally, I found lymphadenitis. It's a lymph node infection. Left untreated, it can be serious -WebMD said it could be fatal. My lump had the exact symptoms listed. It was like a fucking "textbook case," you know? Yay, I have lymphadenitis! And off I went to the doctor to get my antibiotics...

...whereupon the doctor looked crossly at his clipboard and not once at me, and he said I needed to be screened for breast cancer. And oh by the way, his voice said, why the fuck am I having to deal with these women's illnesses? obviously she is ill, therefore ipso facto and all that, she has a problem with her reproductive organs.

So I sat there, shy me (because I'm shy, remember?), and said loudly, "well, I was thinking it was lymphadenitis." No response from the doc, industriously scribbling his soon-to-be-famous signature on my chart. "Lymphadenitis," I said, and listed, one by one, the exact symptoms. Scribble screeches to a halt, eyebrows scrunch. Pause. "Yeah. Could be lymphadenitis."

*snort* YA THINK?

I got my breast exam from a nice doctor at my regular "women's issues" clinic. He, too, was annoyed, but when he expressed his annoyance it came out something like, "Why is that moron wasting this lady's time and money?" because at a glance he could see it was lyphadenitis and nothing to do with my precious titties. He examined them nonetheless (who wouldn't?), and then he looked at the antibiotics I'd been given and got further annoyed, because the type I'd been given were sure to give me a yeast infection. Nice. I got new antibiotics and went home very happy with my World Wide Web and my armpit, too.

It's now just about 3 a.m. and time for me to go back to sleep, so I'll leave you with a third and final news tidbit. This is from "Ireland Online," whose staff perhaps could have spent a few extra minutes considering their phrasing.
Al Qaida’s leader in Iraq today vowed his fighters will never rest until they have blown up the White House and reached Jerusalem.
That guy has a funny sense of direction, doesn't he?

Nighty-night.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A cashier living with a skyscraper

I just received a wee bit of spam in my work email inbox. It's an ad for a weightloss supplement called "HoodiaLife." Who came up with the name, I wonder?

It is a display add, clickable. Obviously I will not click on it. But the ad is very oddly followed by this plain text:

A cashier living with a skyscraper avoids contact with a class action suit.
A cashier living with a skyscraper avoids contact with a class action suit. A cashier living with a skyscraper avoids contact with a class action suit.

What does it mean?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On shyness

I need to work on my blockquote style for my blog, because this comes out looking terribly dull. Still, here's a quote from an abstract for a study published in the Archives of General Psychology:
Conclusion -- Children who manifest higher levels of shyness or have 1 or 2 copies of the short allele of the serotonin transporter promoter gene appear to have a different pattern of processing affective stimuli of interpersonal hostility.
Alright, so we all know I'm no Psych major, eh? But I remembered this study from a much more readable (and therefore suspect) article on CNN awhile back, and recently I was reconsidering the findings.

To paraphrase, shy kids (or anyway, a high enough proportion that one could draw some tentative conclusions) apparently don't recognize aggression and neutrality in facial expressions as readily as non-shy kids do.

Lots of other factors contribute to shyness. Wiki shyness (that'd be the new verb, to Wiki) and you'll get a good glimpse, even though the current contributers to that subject area are especially into the genetic paths to shyness. Events, environment, genetics; there are too many variables to be sure which is acting on any specific shy person.

I consider myself to be shy. I have a great tendency to scare other people because I am bold and straightforward and a little arrogant (a lot arrogant, truth be told, but I like to think I hide some of it successfully); I stride rather than walk, if given a choice; I give my opinion before I am asked (which gets me into trouble); and I avoid interaction; I would rather hide under my blankets; I flush bright red whenever I'm called upon to speak in public; and I can't remember a word of what I said, anytime I've made an impassioned speech. I was really impassioned, I just don't know what I said!

The thing about the virtual balls I display as a shy person is this, perhaps: I know I can't tell what's going on in other peoples' minds. Over time, I've decided that I can't know this, so I won't know this, and I can't let it stop me. I can't stop and worry about what people are thinking or how people are viewing me, because if I do so, I'm miserable. I know. I used to be miserable.

As a shy person, I used to find a lot of money. No, really, this is a true phenomenon. I found a lot of money because I lived in a well-populated city, the paper money was conveniently multi-colored, and I never looked up from the ground. I was afraid, if I met someone's eyes, that they would see me looking at them and think I thought I could measure up in some way. It was worst, not surprisingly, with handsome young men.

As a shy person, I nevertheless made friends, because well... I don't know. I like to talk? and when I was 20, I liked music, and hung out at some blues jams, and met some people. One day I was on a bus, heading to the house of one of these friends on a sunny afternoon. I was standing -the bus was crowded- and avoiding other people by staring steadfastly out the window. The bus stopped at a stop, picked up some passengers, and I, looking out the window, saw another person across the road, and instantly liked her, felt a kinship with her. She was just a nice-looking person, nothing extraordinary, a little bit familiar. Blue jeans, jean-jacket. Brown hair. Green army-surplus bag. Who knows why I noticed her, or why I instantly liked her? I just did.

Then the bus moved, and I saw the light on the reflective bank windows across the road.

I'd been looking at myself.

I've had some seriously defining moments in my life, and that one was by no means the last. In some ways I suppose it was the first, at least of my adult life. I didn't overcome my shyness that day, but I saw it for what it was: a projection, nothing more. I projected my anxieties on others. I judged myself, and so I assumed they judged me. The moment I saw myself without judgment, I realized others might view me the same way.

What the hell does this have to do with a Psych paper? Oh yeah, this: The psychologists and geneticists and other cists all over the world will tell us how something like shyness happens, and I think that's great. But there's always going to be more to it. For instance, I can buy that an inability to translate facial expressions would extend pretty naturally to an unwillingness to interact. That's completely understandable. But what if this inability to translate facial expressions is a result of not encountering them in the first place?

What if it's caused by not looking at facial expressions in the first place? by avoiding them? by taking other, more subtle cues, sensing that there is conflict, and deliberately looking away?

I spent a good chunk of my life avoiding something that was very difficult, very painful. And pure chance forced me to look at it in a light that showed it for what it was: Just a girl in a jean-jacket.

I can love being just a girl in a jean-jacket. I can love me. I just couldn't face all the millions of things I thought I was supposed to be, and that others were supposed to see, above and beyond just a girl in a jean-jacket. So... I didn't look.

I'm still shy, but I look people square in the face whenever I can push myself to do so. And nine times out of ten... they remember that bold, friendly woman who seemed so confident, and grinned, and said her name was Becky.

I can live with that.

Thank you for voting

Today is election day in the States, and I want to take a moment to thank my American coworkers, neighbors, friends, and lover for going out and voting.

I had a bitter, bitter experience with my first vote. It was back when Free Trade was the big issue on the table, and Mulroney's stupendous chin was hovering over the whole thing, and I actually wore a "just say no" pin around and pushed my coworkers and friends to go and vote. They all readily agreed that Free Trade (in the proposed form) was a really bad idea, and of course they were going to vote, and everybody needed to vote, rah rah.

Then when the battle was good and lost, which alone wouldn't make me bitter because that's democracy (of a sort), I quizzed my friends and coworkers who'd been all fired up the day before. And... they hadn't got around to it. "I had to work." "I was going to go, but the Subway is so crowded at that time of day." "I slept in."

It's one thing to say your vote doesn't matter. It's another thing entirely to say that your friends and neighbors don't matter. And whether it would have made a difference or not, those people are counting on you to TRY.

So today I live in a country that only has two viable political parties, and at least fifty per cent (probably more) of the population believes in exactly the opposite things than I did back when I was a voter in Canada. Why should I care if they go out and vote? They've all done a pretty good job of convincing me that both parties are pretty horrendous, and I have only to watch the political ads to see that the plot of this saga was long since lost to cardboard characters. What's the point?

The point is this:

If it won't make any difference to your life, if neither party would really represent you or affect you in a positive way, that's fine. But when you don't go out and vote, you're not saying you don't care who represents you. You're saying you don't care who represents everybody else.

Who's getting shit on these days, is my question? Who is getting shit on that just damn well doesn't deserve it? If it's not you, it's somebody else. And it's your job in a democracy --in a workable society-- to care about how your community and your nation is governed.

It's not just about your own taxes, or your own property value, or your own private schools or local fire department. It's not just about your factory, and it's not just about your pollution controls. It's not even about your fish in the sea (for later sushi). It's about your nation. When things are right, actually, it's not even about your nation -it's about the world.

When you care about that, there's some hope for this idiotic place.

When you don't, there's none.

I know I know. Crazy bekbek. I don't think your individual vote is worth anything, truth be told. But I do think that act itself, of taking your own oh-so-precious time and going out to register a vote for everybody else... is worth a hell of a lot.

So, thanks.

Dates

Hahaha, can you believe I looked at the dates on a couple of recent blog comments and thought something had gone horribly awry?

Well, yeah, I guess that's entirely believable, eh? But things were just fine: I was just reading funny.

The date format displays the day-of-the-month first, then the month, then the year. Nothing wrong with that. Actually makes sense.

I've just... been here awhile.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Winning the War on Words

Via Time online: Bush criticizes Kerry.


And you know, he is so right. (I think someday my eyes are going to stick this way -in a continuous rolling pattern.)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

News and Selective Service Gone Wild

Just something I'm working on...
sea urchin study 1
I cleaned my desk at home this morning. Between my coursework, a bizarre taxation accident, a new cellphone agreement, and oh yeah, I landed a cool part-time job because... yeah, yeah, how hard can it be?... my desk was a wreck. This morning I started my day by bleerily filing and chucking and stacking, and the result is a return to at least a vague sense of order.

I found this scrawled note among the myriad loose ends:
Selective Service in relation to Girls Gone Wild
Now, I'm pretty good at this stuff. I can instantly come up with several tenuous connections. What was it, though, that led me to scrawl the note? I had to have thought it was interesting. Any thoughts at your end?

Meanwhile, I have a new installment of...

News of Bekbek

  • I landed a pretty cool part-time job! I'm doing proofreading and a wee bit of copy editing for Southern Editorial. I just finished an instructor's manual for a college Lit class, which was amusing in several ways, not least of which was my almost overwhelming desire to rewrite the entire thing. But most of all, I do the work at my own little desk in my own little den, sometimes with my own little cat on the futon beside me, often with my own best friend Luther doing homework at the desk next to mine, and the pretty fall colors out the window.

    I'm still working at the college of course, and taking a Web Design class toward my Master's. If you go to my profile, you can drill into my current project by way of my faux "for homework" Writing blog, but please don't do so with IE until I've fixed it for IE... by the end of the weekend, I promise. I could link to it all here, but truth be told I find it a little excruciating (aka embarrassing like a Mary Tyler Moore episode) and so I'll just let you know that you can find it yourself if you're so inclined.

    But the proofing thing... I really like it. I mean, well, no, it's annoying as fuck, because it turns out -and here's the bizarre part of the story- I would really like to edit. Huh? Yeah, it turns out I really like to edit. And I'm coming around to the full-circle thing, because when I first tried to find work here in the States, this is exactly what I was looking for. On sanity alone (no stupid commute, no stupid state-college politics), this would be a really sweet career.

  • Luther also got a job! Woot-with-reservations! I am very proud of him, but I'm so wholeheartedly in favor of and inspired by his enthusiastic and dedicated embrace of full-time college that I feel a tinge (just a tinge) of regret about this working thing. But it's officially school related, a very competitive part-time co-op opportunity on base, through his Business & Information Technology program. Way to go, sweetie! Will the Mustang be painted cherry, or blood? Ah, how I look forward to that low thrubthrubthrubvvvvvVVVVVVRRRRRROOOOM! Yay!

So we are working, is the news. All-school-all-the-time is about to give way to... all-school-all-the-time-except-for-when-we're-also-working...

Still. Girls Gone Wild. Selective Service. Sometime when I'm not working and not studying and not working... I need to figure that out. Could be important. Could be utter nonsense, but that's okay too. It has never been the thought that counts.

It's the thinking.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Moustache Mash

I really believe that once you can grow a moustache (even a weasel-moustache), you should no longer be able to go out in a casual attempt at a costume and beg for candy on the basis of it being "all about the kids."

Now, don't get me wrong, Luther. You know I think it's great that Wil is going out with his buddies, and he loves to do the dress-up thing, and that's wonderful. But on principle, yeah, I gotta say... once you're shaving (or failing to do so), surely this thing about just being given stuff by strangers cuz you're "cute" should end?

Equivalent for girls, you ask? Oh, I dunno. There is nothing outward that isn't just custom. For instance, once you start wearing makeup on a regular basis, I don't see why putting some on your face should afford you free candy at every other door. I mean, where's the "trick" in that?

But yeah, I'm a meanie and we all know it. Because once your body can make babies of its own, I have to say, I'm in favor of you maybe not acting like one yourself, anymore.

When push comes to shove, though, I just miss the creativity of it all. Kids (and/or their parents) used to do something to earn the candy. Now parents are buying plastic costumes off a rack, or kids are buying plastic costumes with the money their parents gave to them, just so that the kids can run around and get candy given to them for free...

What is the point?

Next year, I'm carving a pumpkin. And I'm giving out toothbrushes and little toothpastes.

...

Does anyone, anywhere doubt that I can, in fact, cause the dictionary definition of "curmudgeon" to include me after all?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The pistachios are long gone

I'm sitting up here in our little office haven. It's sunny outside, and the leaves on some trees are changing color and falling, and the sky is blue.

The cat, who has a horrible wound in her shoulder from defending our property from other cats but doesn't seem to care about it, is sleeping on the futon couch next to me.

And Luther is talking on the phone, banishing the disquiet from an earlier difficult conversation by connecting with his bro, his brother, in California.

He mentioned, just now, a blog that I'd written. I entitled it, "It's time to go back, the pistachios are gone." But I didn't blog that. I wrote it in a web site I created after we got back from Greece a couple of years ago. He remembers it as a blog, I guess, because it had a kind of blog aspect.

The thing is, it is time to go back. I miss Greece. I don't want to wait until I'm ancient to do the traveling that my ...okay, I don't believe in souls, but how about my CORE needs? I NEED.

I need to go back to Greece. The pistachios are good, yes. So is the air. And the vitality.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

A very few words

One of the faculty members I've worked with for the last four years passed away over the weekend. I wasn't exactly shocked when I got the news this morning, but there is still that odd surprise, thinking that he's actually gone and will not ever again be strolling in with his cloud of cigarette smoke and his styrofoam coffee cup in hand.

I didn't know him well. I liked some things about him very much -his laid-back attitude, his wit, his wonderful skill with language. I disliked other things. I think if we'd ever actually talked as equals we would have disagreed more than agreed about many things. But we didn't talk as equals. He was "senior faculty," and I am a secretary.

But the thing about this guy is, with just a very few words one day, he made a positive impact on my life. I was walking down the hall, and he was in a doorway with his cloud of smoke and his styrofoam coffee, and as I passed him he said, "When are you getting to work on your Master's?"

I was astonished. I can't imagine why he would have thought about me at all. I have no idea what I said in response. But I got back to my office and I sat down and I started thinking, could I maybe actually do that?

Sometimes I wonder if he was just trying to stir up trouble. Sometimes I feel like I'm less and less popular with the "senior faculty" the further I get in my studies, like I wasn't really supposed to do this and am crossing some kind of boundary we secretaries weren't supposed to cross. Have I been stepping on his toes, I wonder?

Did he ever realize, I wonder, that he put the idea in my head?

I'll never know. But I'll thank him as I say my good bye, and I'll thank him again when I graduate. And I'll remember him with fondness.

Have a good forevernevermore, Dr. Adams. You will be missed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Henry Ford

If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.
--Henry Ford

Ford offered a car in the color of your choice: Any color, as long as it was black.

We talk about positive language. That's positive language. He didn't say, "you can only get it in black," or "you can't get it in any other color."

Ford knew about being positive. Though I abhor the car-centric world he contributed to building, I still think we can all learn from his experience and positive attitude.

And the walls came tumbling down upon our hearts and minds

I wasted some of my valuable time this morning, reading some peoples' "If I were President" emails on CNN.com. Wow, people can be so stupid.

I was particularly irked at the fantasy aspect of it all. "If I were President I would legalize marijuana, blah blah blah." If you were President, darling, you would not actually have the power to do such a thing, but ooookay, pretend the Prez gets a magic wand. While you're at it, how about world peace?

And then of course, I'm pretty close to going over the edge about this wall thing. "I would build a wall all around the United States, so we would be protected from evildoers and dirty Mexicans."

Is it my imagination, or didn't the United States used to be a land where people fought to bring walls down? Is it just me, or is this fervent desire to put up walls a fair demonstration of what has happened to something that once was great?

Someone, somewhere, is shouting back at my keystrokes. It's unintelligable, really, because his English ain't so good, but he's saying something about how the world has changed since 9-11.

Sadly, no. I think we were working on putting up walls before that. 9-11 just brought it out in the open. Strange that some angry, senseless, hurtful men with a couple of box cutters can shed such light. I don't like what I see.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.

--Robert Frost

An intelligent, energetic, educated woman cannot be kept in four walls - even satin-lined, diamond-studded walls - without discovering sooner or later that they are still a prison cell.

--Pearl Buck

Friday, October 20, 2006

Possessions are underrated

Money can't buy you love, and things can't make you happy.

That said, some things make me happy. I mean, I look at them, touch them, or play with-- uh, nevermind. The sentiment is true, nonetheless. It's the context that makes one happy.

I have a silver bracelet that is handmade. I don't know where it's from. I bought it from my friend/brother Roderick Zalameda, when he was working at a stand on Queen Street in Toronto. The link, the way the bracelet closes, is a screw. And the screw is handmade too, a silver strand wound around and around in a spiral. Not only is it handmade, it is backwards to the "standard." Lefty-tighty, righty-loosey.

I own many treasures. When someone asks, what are your favorite possessions, I'm at a loss, because I don't rank them. How can I rank them?

What are some of your treasures?

3em is even better than 3M

I found the code I was looking for, and I fixed it. How about that? Of course, I started the hunt in the first place because I wanted a black background, and a black background revealed the complete lack of a right margin in the sidebar content. Finally, I found the sidebar widget, whatever that is, and I changed one of the values to 3em, and wow, that's actually too much margin. I set it to 1em and moved on.

Only by this time, I'd stopped loving the black background.

For my next trick, I'll be trying to figure out how to put a gradient into the background, or maybe tile it with a texture. Because...

yeah, yeah. How hard can it be?

The "new look" is a considerably tweaked version of one of Blogger-beta's stock templates. I made the banner out of a kelp tattoo design I've been thinking of actually having tattooed on my own self, like the woman in the banner only... fatter. And then I made a new gif for one of the template's dividers, and I adjusted some colors. Not bad.

I'll be playing with it some more. Hey, I might even crack open that web design book, eh?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Play time

Obviously (I say, assuming I have "regular viewers"), I am playing with templates. I am frustrated beyond reason by the fact that I can't figure out this language on my own. I never had to open a text book for VB, dammit.

That said, let us be clear: I am not interested in this stuff. I have no desire to write my own "code." Don't even talk to me.

But if you can figure out how I can have a bigger margin in the right column, please let me know. Thx.

CNN's cry for help

Here is one possible explanation for the guy named Loveless who says happiness is overrated:

An evil alien dictator (or perhaps the U.S. government) has taken over CNN and is forcing its staff to slant the news -and through the news, our society- in a horrifyingly dangerous and destructive direction. Reporters are literally chained to their desks, cranking out these lies in mortal fear of torture and death.

But one brave soul is fighting back. He is seeding the news with stories carefully designed to set off our alarm bells. Loveless doesn't believe in happiness?! Come on, that's an obvious fabrication.

And now, stingrays are voluntarily jumping out of the water, into boats, in order to skewer unsuspecting old dudes in the heart. That can't be real.

We must save our intrepid reporter before the evil alien dictator (or U.S. government) discovers what he's been up to.

Love not what you can skip to your heart's content

Too, too funny. I'm going to be late for work, but I just have to post this:

In this morning's news on CNN, an article entitled,
Confident students do worse in math; bad news for U.S.

In essence, happiness is overrated, says study author Tom Loveless.
LOVELESS DON'T SHOW NO LOVE!
"If I'm a math student and I don't perceive myself as confident, you think I'm going to major in it? The answer is no," said Francis "Skip" Fennell
*snort* Shockingly, a guy named "Skip" argues that kids should have fun in math class.

This story has to have been made up, right?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Language arts

I just heard from my sister and my Dad in Toronto. My sister just had surgery on her foot. She said she'd taken a big risk: She failed to take a big black marker and write, "Not this foot! The OTHER ONE!" on the good foot before going to the hospital. But all is well, if broken and painful. The little pills should help.

My Aunt Nan, meanwhile, is suddenly due for a triple bypass. I'm thinking there're going to be a lot more little pills in the family.

In honor of the wounded and crippled of my clan, then, I give you... another rant among so, so many. This time, it's about language.

Today when I got home from workschool (the division blurs), Luther greeted me on my arrival with an observation about the poker game on TV, and the names by which the players were identified. "Jessica" was the female player at the table. The other players, all male, were referred to by their surnames.

Okay, so this is not a shocker. I could go off on a tangent, but I'll abstain this time. Instead, let me just provide my reasoning:

Women don't have their own names.

A woman has her father's name until she marries, when she takes her husband's name.

Understand, I don't think the woman at the poker table was the epitome of tradition. But it's a long tradition, and where once I would have blamed an issue of respect, or perhaps an issue of objectification (sexual, that is), I find today that the use of names at a poker table is in its own way accurate. A given name is just a convenient label; a surname is a property, and women don't own property, at least not if there is a man in the family.

Call Jessica "Smith," and one might be confused and look about the room for Smith, for surely this breasted person is not he.

Later, Luther and I talked again about the recent brawl in college football, Florida-style. Luther remarked on the fact that the reports refer to the "players" and the fair or unfair disciplines to "the players" for fighting. Rarely if ever does someone refer to these "players" as... "Students."

Oh, that's right! They're supposedly college students, yes? And every college has a code of conduct for its students, usually published in a fairly concrete form. I went to the University of Miami to look at their Student Code of Conduct but alas, the link seemed to be broken. I wonder why?

Language is everything. There is no equality for women until they own their own names. There is no point in pretending that football players are students until we refer to them as students and hold them to the same standards as the rest of the student body.

I think, until we start to consistently refer to the athletes as students, they will consistently fail to be so. And in the South, mecca of college football, they'll continue to just be poor, black gladiators for the rather limited white populace. How nice.

Meanwhile, I can't do anything about the women thing. I know that I chose to change my name because I wanted to show in a public way that I was making a family with Luther. I would have been happier if we could have had a name all our own, but he's the fourth of FIVE of his name. Hard to just break the mold mid-stream.

But I hate that anybody would ever think I wasn't a Slocombe.

I miss you both. Eat the pills. Love you.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Stupid human tricks

And now, for something completely time-wastingly fun: In the address bar of your browser, do you see a little green B-squared? And if not, refresh.

Ain't it cool?

It turns out to be pretty easy to do this. I made a little square image, and then I went to MyFavatar and uploaded the image.

I'm going to mess with this some more, I'm sure, but in the meantime, oooh, looky at that!

(Okay. That tears it. I am a geek.)

Post-posting notes: It won't show up in Internet Explorer 6.0, but word on the street is that it will show up in IE7. And I don't much care because I avoid IE like the plague. I use Firefox. Finally, I knew I had to delete my bookmark/favorite to my blog and then re-bookmark it, but still I get no little icon in my bookmarks list. Damn. I might have to do some more research...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Visibility is key

Not once has anybody told me that when one is transporting helium balloons in one's car, one should secure the balloons before starting to drive.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Picture: Less than or equal to 1000 words

The Master's I'm pursuing is in Information Design, which is the compact way of saying, "technical and professional communication, recognizing that this can no longer be limited to writing for print, and therefore encompassing the informed utilization of multimedia, including the Internet and World Wide Web." It's a mouthful, isn't it? You can see why we professional communicators prefer "Information Design."

What this actually means to my studies is that every time I turn around, somebody is talking to me about how writing for the web is different from writing for print.

For example, the first paragraph of this blog post is too long for online readers. Sorry. You gave up halfway through, and have already clicked elsewhere.

This morning, I was on my way to work, driving my little car and thinking about what a perfect day it is, crystal blue sky, crisply cool air, warming sunshine, low traffic during fall break for local schools; and I passed the scene of an accident, SUV and sedan, the sedan all spun around and facing the wrong way on the shoulder of the fast lane, ambulance in attendance, cop lights spinning. I thought about how easily someone can jerk a wheel, startled by another vehicle coming by too closely, dance a little too far into the next lane, and strike another car. At freeway speeds, no impact is small, and you're the best kind of driver and can see 360 degrees at all times, having had just enough coffee and not too much hangover, and you still can't guarantee yours won't be the car that's hit. You can't avoid every accident.

According to the CDC, "More than 41,000 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes each year, and crash injuries result in about 500,000 hospitalizations and four million emergency department visits annually" (http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/mvsafety.htm, accessed Oct. 12, 2006).

And yet, people drive longer and longer distances to work and home each day. People spend more and more time in their cars, in traffic, than ever before. And why? Mostly because it's cheaper for businesses and homebuilders to build on open, undeveloped land than to rebuild on developed land, and where your future boss puts his business doesn't relate in any concrete way to where your builder decides to offer your future home. It's all completely meaningless, except for the fact that you need a place to live, and you need money to pay for it. For that, you put your teensy little car on the road with giant tractor-trailers at 80 miles per hour each morning, and you swear to your heart's content at the people on cell phones with electric razors and makeup kits and bowls of cereal at the wheel, and you try to see 360 degrees around at all times, even through that B-pillar that blocks your view and makes you blind.

I tell myself it's worth it, and I get to work safely, and it's a gorgeous day, and I start thinking about writing a blog entry, but I can't decide which to write about: car accidents, my car, the beautiful day, the way I woke up this morning to the sound of a neighborhood-wide broadcast of a high-pitched tone and the electronically-spoken words, "FIRE! FIRE! LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!" And I think about the letters I used to write to my friend Luther.

In 1999, my friend Luther spent six months in Kuwait. I had only recently "met" him, playing an online game with him and several other people in various locations at odd ours of the day and night. He was a Master Sergeant in the United States Air Force, married, with two children he clearly adored. I didn't know how to spell "sergeant," and I didn't know where Georgia was.

Luther was smart, and he had very traditional manners of a type that seemed old-fashioned to me, but he was also coarse and flirtatious and funny, and just plain foreign to this Canadian hippy-raised forever-single forever-childless city girl. I liked him and decided we would always be friends. And when he was sent to Kuwait and asked for mail, I sent mail, about anything and everything. On the streetcar, at work in the middle of a long take of another boring shot of some show or another, at home waiting for the pizza and pasta delivery from Ciccio's, at Ted's Collision bar drinking with friends, I scribbled notes about my world onto scraps of paper, and then I'd put them together into long, rambling letters that wound up painting a picture that was far more of me than of the city I'd been trying to explain.

They were good letters. I enjoyed writing them. I saw more of my city and my life, in those six months, than I'd been seeing for a long while.

This blogging thing, this is a little attempt at that awareness. Of that joy in who I am and what I love (and hate) about the world around me. And most of the blogs I visit regularly are something of the same, whether the entries are short or long, business or personal.

It's like the whole blogging thing defies the conventions. This paragraph is too long. I've used too many descriptive words. Punctuation is harder to see on-screen. I need to use headings and subheadings. People find it too difficult to read long blocks of text off a computer monitor. The resolution is too low, and the light is harsh. I'm sure it's true: It says so, right here in all three text books for this semester's class. I know it's true.

But I found the car accident interesting. And it's a gorgeous day. I liked writing long letters to my friend Luther, and letting him decide whether or not to make the effort to read them.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday morning fallout shelter

So I browse to CNN because I'm stuck between audience analysis and content development plan and need a break.

North Korea claims it's done its wee nuclear test.

And "Foley fallout continues in capital."

Fallout.

It makes me snicker, it does.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Yes, this is Thanksgiving weekend. Don't talk to me about American Shopping and Football Day, which is not for another month and a half.

I don't have much to say on the topic, mostly because I do not have the day off tomorrow, and I have homework due at noon, too. Still, for some reason I am thinking about food, and two dishes in particular come to mind, even though neither is a Thanksgiving food.

Butter tarts, as it turns out, are Canadian. I mean, if you're American, there's a good chance you've never heard of them. I can describe them as like little pecan tarts without the pecans, but it's not quite right because they can actually be made with pecans, and anyway they don't taste like pecan pie. They taste like... butter tarts.

You can read a little more about them here.

Web surfing the butter tart tends to call up articles about poutine. Poutine isn't related at all, of course, except that it's another Canadian treat. Poutine is another "what are you trying to do, actually induce a heart attack right here?" food, and even though I've only had it a few times, I dream about it often and wonder when and where I might get to enjoy it again.

I know poutine as fries, cheese curds, and gravy. When I tell people about this, I usually have to explain what cheese curds are, and the whole conversation gets off-track at that point. If you don't know what cheese curds are, you're sitting at a computer. Look it up!

Meanwhile, a quick web surf on poutine will show that there are lots of poutine recipes that call for "sauce" rather than gravy, and the type of cheese is a bit up in the air, too. The most shocking thing of all, however, is that there are "Canadian themed" restaurants outside of Canada. Not related to poutine, you point out? Oh yeah? Well, read about poutine on Wikipedia, and then come complain.

McDonald's poutine? Blech! Shouldn't that be illegal?

I'm in love

Some pictures just make me smile all the way from my toes through the top of my head.


I will go down with this ship
I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be


Friday, October 06, 2006

Homesickness

Two years ago, we went to Greece. Partway through the trip, we took a ferry to the island of Paros. In a little shop on Paros, Luther bought two photo prints, images from the 1950s, little scenes from the towns of Naoussa and Parikia. They were really terrific because they were pictures of Paros as it was back when Luther's Mom spent time there as a child.

Then we took the ferry back to Athens. The ferry ride is a couple of hours long, and Luther took half a dramamine, and I wandered around and watched for the dolphin I'd seen on the way over. And when the ferry docked, we left the ferry, and the photo prints stayed with the ferry, tucked between a seat and a wall where they wouldn't get damaged by passersby.

Occasionally I hunt for such pictures online. It's a fruitless pursuit. The Greece that is online is young and all about the new, not the old.

When I hunt, I get homesick. That's the best word to describe it. I remember the smell of exhaust from the scooters zipping dangerously by on the road between the little hotel and the little beach in Parikia. The Greek dust on the marble -was it marble? I remember it as marble- of my Mom-in-law's patio, where one can stand surrounded by miles and miles of city and see the Acropolis right there, like it's the most ordinary thing in the world. Riding the streetcar. Ice cream at the beach.

I found one photograph of the port of Piraeus in Athens, from the late 1800s, with three-masted ships. The beach with the ice cream is in the picture. My mind does a triple-track camera dolly move, with a focus pull from the Athens of my high school Ancient History class (the second time in summer school, because I failed it the first time) to the Athens of two years ago, with a bus ride, and branded umbrellas in a beach bar, and pretty sailboats, and a photograph that I use for my Blogger profile.

I say to Luther, "When are we going home?" and he doesn't even blink, because he knows which home I'm talking about, and he says, "Soon, baby."

Then today, Jimmy Buffet is playing in my head, and I'm thinking about bantam chickens standing on Volkswagon beetles. And I still have that dusty marble in my mind, but I'm picturing the fireworks of New Year's so far away they look like sparklers, and the black ocean is all around me, and it's quiet because the ship has a sail and isn't using its motor. Waking up in our tent, with the wind blowing, but we did a crazy thing and brought the futon from the couch, so we don't even need tent pegs because the futon keeps the tent on the ground. And we ride our bikes off the Navy base to the bar, where we eat oysters with friends.

Yesterday I was homesick for Greece, and I'm still homesick for Greece, but today I am also homesick for Key West.

I wonder how many places I'll be homesick for, by the time I'm done with this living thing and decide to go away?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Swamp snap cookies

Awhile back, I told my friend Danny Sadder (no relation to Daniel Sadler) that on some days I love the smell of the swamp. When the water level drops, the rotting vegetation is revealed, and the stench is rich and wild and alien and beautiful. Although it has aspects in common with a backed up toilet, the effect is decidedly different. Swamp smell, here in the middle of Georgia in late summer, is like the smell of ...danger.

Today on my way home, though, it smelled more like cookies.

Specifically, the swamp smelled like some kind of freakish gourmet ginger snap cookie just coming out of the oven. Allspice, fresh cardamum pods, and slightly fermented orange zest. The effect was particularly stunning because the air conditioning does not work in my little Honda del Sol, so as I rounded the curve of I-475 a few miles from rejoining I-75, the swamp cookies smell came at me through the window in a blast of hot air, quite like I had just opened the oven and leaned in to see if they were ready.

I'm not saying you should ever -ever- eat the cookies, mind you. Back away from the cookies.

But some days, the swamp smells really cool.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Orienting oneself

No, an inukshuk doesn't help me orient myself. It's just a pile of rocks, which inexplicably makes me happy, building something, setting my mark upon the world, and all that romantic stuff. I've built walls -a short wall out of stones, while camping, and a tall wall out of blocks of snow, while visiting a relative. It's always a rush. But an inukshuk has its own built-in romanticism.

Today, I rearanged our office. Luther had threatened to move to the bedroom, and I didn't like the idea not because our offices shouldn't be separate but because the bedroom should be! So I did what my Mom taught me many years ago: I mapped the room, and I cut out precise models of the furniture, and I worked the problem.

I've done this a few times in my life. It has always, without exception, been incredibly successful. This time, for the first time, I used Word.

I loathe Microsoft. That part put aside, Word is way more useful and flexible than one might imagine! I put up a grid on precise measurements, mapped out the room, and pasted objects of precise dimensions -then moved them and rotated them and placed them. It rocks, if you really know it.

The office is now back to the same cozy sensibility it had before we added the second desk. We can both look out the window, we can both move our chairs freely, and we can both look at each other and sigh, sickeningly. I added a cabinet (the "books" item in the diagram) and filled it with the books I had piled in various corners. And the lamp on the corner of my desk, plus a pile of blanket and cushions in the corner of the room (that big rectangle is a futon couch, by the way), makes a perfect reading corner.

In the process of putting those piles of books away, I discovered a little box. When I'd worked at Mag North for 5 years, I was given a silver coin. Those of you who admired my pile of rocks will find this amusing:



The accompanying card reads:


Lifelike figures of rock, erected by the Inuit, stand along Canada's most northern shores. They are Inukshuk (pronounced In-ook-shook) -an Inuit word meaning "in the image of man." One of their purposes was to serve as directional markers on the treeless horizons, to guide those who followed. As such, they stand as eternal symbols of the importance of friendship, and remind us of our dependence on one another.
So for those who wondered, while my little inukshuk on my lawn is by no means permanent, it's supposed to be... beautiful, in a way that garden gnomes are not.

Be excellent with one another. And enjoy the rest of the weekend, eh?

And thanks, Mom. Your system, whether by paper or by Microsoft Word, has rocked my world on numerous occasions. I owe you.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Stone cold birthday

It's my birthday today, and I got one of the best gifts ever!


I've wanted this for a long time, so I was pretty excited. I was so surprised! Then, when I decided to blog about it, I had all kinds of ambitious plans to provide essays and links about the whole thing, but... Well, screw it, it's my birthday. I'm going to go eat some of my very strange but yummy homemade orange liquor cream and chocolate cake...


...while looking outside at my first ever attempt at an inukshuk. Birthdays ROCK!


Thank you so much, Luther. I love you !

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Brave new curriculum

A curriculum, says my trusty OED, is "a regular course of study or training, as at a school or university." At work in the past few years, however, I have been dealing with a curriculum that is anything but regular.

To the extent that it has been going through changes, this is fair. The degree program is in the field of Information Technology, which is a moving target for educators (and investors, for that matter). But it doesn't help that different people have different ideas of what "Information Technology" actually means. My own understanding is this: It's just plain not computer science. It's making stuff and doing things with computers, not actually building the computers themselves. The things that one can make and do with computers is constantly changing (consider that not long ago telephones and cameras were separate and not even related devices), and a college curriculum meant to educate students in how to make and do with computers has to constantly adjust in order to meet changing expectations.

"Regular" can also mean "normal," or "typical," and this is where things begin to go haywire. What's "normal" or "typical" in an Information Technology curriculum is pretty up in the air. There are lots of programs, but not a lot of commonalities. The Accrediting Body for Engineering and Technology (ABET) is working toward changing this by defining Information Technology-specific accreditation criteria for college programs. If your curriculum meets their standards, it will by definition meet certain minimum requirements that will be common to all accredited IT programs. Your graduating students will have mastered a certain level of math, a certain amount of programming, a certain understanding of human-computer interface issues, etc.

Last fall, I spent a great deal of time working with a new faculty member on devising curriculum changes that would edge us toward ABET accreditation. The changes were also supposed to solve some specific problems we'd been struggling with aside from accreditation: Our students were balking at our math requirements; they were flunking the second required programming course; and they were, if they graduated at all, graduating with no particular expertise in any area of IT. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of toes got stepped on, my faculty member partner threw her hands up and backed out of the project, and ultimately the ABET criteria were completely set aside in favor of... well, convenience, I think. So we proposed some dramatic changes, took them to Academic Council, and it was done.

This fall, when these curriculum changes took effect, the same faculty member suddenly became my boss. I'm very pleased, because I really like her. She's incredibly intelligent and experienced, and she knows how to analyze a problem and prioritize solutions. But the past four weeks have thrown us crisis after crisis. Sometimes it seemed like the administration was deliberately cooking up problems to send our way. And a few days ago, we got an email from one of our two-year "feeder" colleges... challenging our new curriculum. It doesn't meet the most basic standards set by the state of Georgia, let alone ABET accreditation criteria. Mostly, though, it doesn't play well with the other IT programs in the state, because... it's not "regular."

Now, some of us did already know this, but talking about it had a tendency to make us very unpopular, and there was a sense of hopelessness about it. We'd made the changes, the catalog had been published, and classes had started. When that email came in, I and my coworker brainstormed and came up with a fantasy curriculum that would fix everything, but it wasn't meant to be taken seriously. It was just an intellectual exercise, which I forwarded to my new boss.

Some of our ideas made it into the final draft of a curriculum change proposal, Friday morning. We're proposing a massive band-aid on the curriculum, mid-year. It's strong. It's quite possibly ABET-worthy. And now we wait, while the faculty consider what we've done and see all the ways in which it will challenge them, invade their little educational territories, and turn their worlds upside down. Wednesday, they vote.

It's going to be interesting.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Age before beauty

Awww, my little car went over 100,000 a few days ago and I failed to take note. I'm sorry, Rocinante! We can celebrate this weekend, okay?

And if anybody says, "she's got a lot of miles on 'er," I can pretend he's talking about the car. :-p

Monday, September 18, 2006

Studio 60 and personal audio transmitters

The premiere episode of Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, aired tonight. I've been looking forward to it all summer. I became a fan of Sorkin's when my sister introduced me to Sports Night, and I was nuts over his A Few Good Men during the opening scene of that movie, and then of course I laughed, cried, and generally was in love for a good couple of seasons of the West Wing (and stuck with it after Sorkin left because I just plain loved the characters). I wasn't enthralled with the premise of Studio 60, but it's Aaron Sorkin and I had to watch.

Interestingly, the promos didn't work for me. Especially, I thought the two main characters (played by Brad Whitford of West Wing and Revenge of the Nerds -yeah, he was in Revenge of the Nerds!- and Matthew Perry of Friends but let us not forget The Whole Nine Yards) lacked interest. They both have that craggy, haggared thing going on, lovely and all, but do I care that they're wired? I'd about had enough of Mr. Whitford's wired thing in the last season of the West Wing, so I wasn't sure about a whole show based on the same performance. And... they didn't have any chemistry.

Luckily, the guys who cut the promos were either A) idiots, or B) just teasing me. I'm actually thinking it was the latter in this case. The moment that Mr. Perry's character took off at a full, painkiller-protected sprint to kick some ass for his drug addict friend Whitford... I fell in love.

So it's another season of fun for me. Can somebody please call in a favor and have them move the show to an 8 p.m. slot? I should not be up this late.

Speaking of which, as the show ended, I crawled under the covers and Luther changed the channel to a football game. Why do people have to shout all the way through a football game? I don't care about some hoots and hollers, it's the strained volume of the announcers for three hours that drives me nuts. And I thought, hey, we need personal audio transmitters.

When you think of it, it's a natural thing for an "information designer" to think about, which is why I've already added features. A personal audio transmitter would be embedded in your head, of course. You can watch TV, and you alone would hear it, unless others in the household changed to the same channel. You'd be able to listen to whatever you want to hear, without headphones, without distortion, perfectly natural -AND hear the outside world if you chose. But the rest of the household and the neighborhood could enjoy some peace and quiet.

The thing about being an information designer, though, is that almost immediately I saw a flaw. You're listening to the game, and your crazy-assed wife who can't sleep starts talking to you. Sure, you can hear her, but goddamn, doesn't she know you're watching the game?

So the technology isn't ready, because I'm pretty sure we can embed the audio transmitter already, but I don't know about the little yellow hologram lightbulb that hovers over your head to show that you're currently listening elsewhere. That might take some time.

G'night.