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.


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?


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.


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.