Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bugged by Microsoft

Inching toward the end of a long week full of two-minute tasks that each managed to consume an entire day, I’m beginning to think that like Batman to Robin, Murphy’s Law deserves its own sidekick corollary, Microsoft’s Law. Come to think of it, despite seniority, Microsoft’s Law seems to be the lead hero here. Sorry for the demotion Murphy, but you, of all people, must have seen it coming.

In addition to Microsoft, I am convinced that the following are all out to get me: Time Warner Cable, Hewlett Packard, Verizon and that gigantic Kool-aid mutant—part pitcher, part man—that year after year continues to bust through brick walls without so much as a tiny crack or micro chip. Very creepy: I can see where Jim Jones got his inspiration. Freakishly indestructible artificially-colored beverage containers aside, (he’s probably just meant to intimidate and devoid of any real substance), it is Microsoft who really does seem to be the ringleader of my endless plights. Conspiratorial paranoia ? Perhaps. But one thing is for sure, Microsoft bugs me.

One would think that my having married a computer scientist would have helped the situation; but in fact, it seems to get worse and worse. In the spirit of “know thy enemy” I’ve progressively been trying to learn more and more of the complicated Windows functions. Microsoft, however, has consistently been able to create new bugs faster than my learning curve. (And even if the Kool-Aid man were to defect to my side, I’m sure Microsoftball would still stay ahead of this pitcher’s curve as well).

How their conspiratorial plot is insidious! For years they have been impugning my credibility. Nine times out of ten I am forced to clamor for the cool-headed aid of my beloved computer geek to recover and restore my work. It’s absolutely true: a bitch in time saves nine but 8 ¾ of those times he does exactly the same thing I had been doing for hours on end; save that it works--seamlessly.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Why We Can't See the Bushes for the Trees

In his speech on Tuesday, President Bush asserted that despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency does indeed have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, he does not intend to seek any further regulations beyond his proposal for more fuel-efficient cars. Critics of this stance are many, and Mr. Bush has certainly taken a lot of heat on global warming.

Despite the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community concerning the reality of climate change and the very serious threats it poses, it may nonetheless be judicious to entertain the possibility that on this matter, Bush’s critics, and even Supreme Court Justices, might nonetheless not be in the best position to judge. It is undeniable that, as President, Bush has access to information far beyond what any individual, organization or institution can ever know despite the fact that his ostensibly limited intelligence may often preclude his intelligent use of Intelligence.

It is not entirely unreasonable to believe that the notion that regulated commercial emission cuts would offer no more than a band-aid solution may in fact not be an entirely scabrous idea. As shocking as it may sound, particularly to those whose judgment is sound, the president may, in fact, actually have it right and know something that the scientists do not and cannot know. It is not often that President Bush is referred to as realistic. Still, with Gonzales soon to speak before Congress to defend the Department of Justice against allegations that eight US attorneys were allegedly fired for purely political reasons and the president himself having just two days ago insisted that attempts by Congress to link financial support for the war with timetables for withdrawal would undermine the troops, it is no doubt irrefutable that any attempt to limit hot air emissions at this time would in fact be hopelessly futile. Only Bush Administration officials may know the full extent to which, since 2001, not American industries but the White House itself has been the overwhelming source of toxic hot air released into our environment.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fool's Play

Lucy Lots
Language Arts
2nd Period
April 1, 2007

Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran

[To tune of the Beach Boys, somewhere between 30,000 and 665,000 Iraqi lives depending on who you ask, 3250 American lives, and well over a trillion dollars that we know of. Music gradually fades as Ira and Brit take the stage]

IRA: Mommy, Brit went into my room without my permission!

BRIT: Did not!

IRA: Did too!

BRIT: Did not!

IRA: Did too!

[Georgina peers down the hall, witnessing a few seconds of the squabble. But she’s in the middle of getting ready to go out for a quiet stroll through Bagdad with the neighbor, Mr. McCain, and decides to ignore the problem for now. She loads the hunting rifle just in case for when Dick gets home.]

BRIT: Mom, Ira went into my room and took a bunch of my action figures!

IRA: Well, that’s because you came into my room without asking!

BRIT: Did not!

[Her countenance changes as she starts to get worried about her toys. She remembers one time when Ira hid mum’s favourite earrings for over a year and two months! Meanwhile Ira picks up a plastic figure and mimics it talking]

IRA: We love to snoop around Ira’s room. We’re always invading his privacy…If you’d just say you’re sorry, admit that you were wrong and that you were snooping around my room and promise not to do it again, I might just give them back, you know.

BRIT: [Making a huge effort to look strong and unaffected while holding back tears]
Well, I, I didn’t, I mean, I didn’t mean, I…

IRA: Allah, what a spoiled little pest you are! It’s absolutely unbelievable!

Brit: [Whimpering] But I, I…

IRA: You, you, you, exactly. You’re mom and dad’s favorite. You get everything. How come you get to have your own superdeluxe supersoaker, and Star War’s ship and bee bee gun and I don’t, huh? It’s not fair!

FIRST CHORUS: [Peeking through the window]
Yeah, yeah, yeah! [Their protests get progressively louder, from mumble to groan to full out screaming, so loud it’s becoming deafening. More and more neighbors hear the fight and run over to join Ira’s crowd.]

GEORGINA: [This is starting to tick her off, to push her buttons. She was so looking forward to her peaceful stroll, even maybe making some plans to go fly fishin’, and veggin’ out just a tiny bit more. She’s so close to the maximum conscious veg-out state. She can just feel it.]
Sweet Holy Jesus, blessed be thy name. Wha’d ya gotta do round here t’git a little peace and quiet? Now you tell me! [Peering upward] Seriously, Jesus, that wasn’t one of them rhentrical questions. [Peering back down the hall] Children, this is unacceptable behavior! [She’s heard enough. She closes her door. Dick will take care of this soon.]

SECOND CHORUS: [Brit’s friends peeking in through another window]
Ira is so ridiculous, so unreasonable, making such a big deal out of everything! Yeah, yeah, yeah! [They jump into Georgina's nephew's Hummer hoping to bring back some others to witness the spectacle.]

[Dick comes home. Hears the squabbling and reaches for the rifle with a sly, stifled grin. He fires a round and toys start flying everywhere, breaking into pieces and making a terrible mess. Little action figure limbs fly across the room, Playdough splatters against the walls. Dick mumbles to himself.]
Ah, who cares? Mrs. Rumsfeld will take care of it tomorrow. No, wait, she was fired. Who is the new cleaning lady again? No matter, Mr. Snow will cover up the whole thing anyway. No, wait. Didn’t he have to take sick leave or something? What is it that he’s got again? Anthrax? Typhoid Fever? Lou Gehrig’s Disease? Carpel Tunnel? Oh who cares! You can always count on Rover to take care of these things anyway.
[He looks affectionately at his beloved pit bull and fires another round. But this time a stray bullet hits the propane tank that fuels their swimming pool. The explosion wipes out not only their house but the entire neighborhood.]

[Beach Boys music, begins loud, then gradually fades out] Yes we caaan, oh yes we caaan! We'll have 'em rockin' and a'rollin' rockin' and a'reelin' bomb Iran, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!


LUCY: [Lucy hands her mother the play she has just written for her language arts homework assignment. Long Pause.]
Ahem! So what do you think?

MOM: Oh, yeah, it’s great, honey.

LUCY: But you were just holding it. You weren’t even actually reading it; you were totally focused on the TV the whole time, watching CNN.

MOM: Don’t be silly of course I was reading it. I wasn’t watching CNN.

LUCY: Oh yeah? Then tell me what it’s about?

MOM: They’re fighting over who invaded whose space, one of them takes some of the other’s action figures, fighting over who should apologize, how unfair it is that only one of them gets the big guns…It’s great, your teacher will love it.

LUCY: [Scrutinizing her mother’s face with skepticism]
If you really were reading it, then tell me how it ends.
MOM: [Blushing]
Um…Oh, my. Look at the time!

LUCY: See! I told you you were totally focused on CNN!

MOM: We’ll, I don’t want to be late to the party. They’re fundraising for Hillary you know, or Greenpeace. I forget which.

[Mom’s a bit distracted: more details are coming out about Anna Nicole Smith’s death and then there was that boy scout lost for several days in the woods and then finally found, a heart wrenching affair for any mother, and that astronaut diaper lady, it was just too much! Forgetting that it’s nighttime and pitch black outside, she puts on her huge designer sunglasses and neglecting to turn off the TV and the lights, exits the house, firmly shutting the door behind her.]


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Travelling in Texsucks

Ah, the airport life, so simple and plane. This morning I found myself here yet again, this time on my way to a conference in my favorite state, Texas (yee-haw!). Yes, Texsucks, home of that son of a Bush we Americans are forced to call our president, the sins of that Bush far too lengthy to enumerate. This is especially the case since I have been betrayed by my laptop battery and am scratching this down by hand. If ever I manage to make out this scribbly scram I will type it in later. This is bound to be a very short post.

A few moments ago on the plane the captain decided to narrate for a bit: “Good morning, welcome aboard, etc. etc. We just passed Lancaster Pennsylvania. To the right you’ll see blah, blah, blah and to the left etceterblah, etceterblah.” Funny how “near Lancaster Pennsylvania” looks exactly like any other town that is completely hidden under a thick layer of clouds to both the right and the left. Maybe he pulled one over on us. Perhaps we were really near Pittsburg and this could be a bit straight out of classic cockpittsburg comedy.

Forced by ol’ captain guy chattin’ to give up on reading over my conference documents, I shall report to you in simulpest: “Good news, folks, because lately the wind patterns have been different than usual, we will arrive on time despite our late departure.”

I will no doubt fondly remember this kind meteorological service rendered to me some day in the perhaps-not-so-distant future when my home is underwater and I am swimming to the Adirondacks. But the media will of course be pessimistically biased, as is currently the case with the war in Iraq and will likely soon be the case with the war in Iran as well. Just as now in their deplorably sensationalist zeal the media only report the bad news (the daily bombings and raging murderous sectarian violence) and never speak of any of the good news (like the Administration’s prediction that with no electricity to power televisions and the mortal danger of walking the streets and markets, large homebound sectors of the population will largely turn to books such that we will soon witness soaring literacy rates) they will no doubt focus on the aquatic exodus of drowning New Yorkers without even mentioning all of the delayed flights that had been able to reach their destinations on time thanks to the very same alterations in weather patterns and that have allowed me to so conveniently travel around Texsucks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

EPA Cries "hear, hear!" at Bush Administration

Hundreds of Environmental Protection Agency scientists signed a petition against the recent decision to send Ken Knot Perceval, a 30-year marine biologist at the agency, to represent the United States at an upcoming international environmental studies colloquium. The petition was anonymously signed by outraged members of the scientific community using randomly-generated numerical signatures. Though top EPA administrators insist that no political pressure was responsible for their decision to designate Perceval as their representative, signatures of such illustrious environmentalists as 63085, 39745, and 41759, whose work has been widely recognized for having saved hundreds of thousands of acres of rain forest in 1994, having directed the public’s attention to such problems as dangerously concentrated levels of mercury in fish in 1996 and the menacing effects of melting polar ice caps in 1998 respectively, strongly suggest otherwise.

18564, who has been researching the effects of increasing levels of dandelion growth in our national parks since funding for his urban air quality research was cut off in 2001 calls this last Friday’s appointment of Perceval “just the latest example of the Bush Administration’s seemingly endless number of attempts to muzzle scientists in order to protect large corporations from being forced to comply with health and safety regulations.” The White House responded that this was blatantly untrue, pointing to another gag order released just yesterday and the all-but-complete erosion of all health and safety regulations making it almost impossible for corporations to even potentially consider their violation. “Are we supposed to take seriously the word of ‘scientists’ who are incapable of getting even the simplest facts straight?” opined a Bush Administration spokesman.

Ken Knot Perceval’s name first made headlines in 1966 when a court ruling in his favor forced the EPA to rescind their rejection of his job candidacy following a discrimination suit. Perceval’s attorney eloquently and effectively argued that being a deaf-mute would not prevent his client, who held a PhD in marine biology, from making significant contributions to the agency’s environmental research. Administration officials point to his long and impressive list of publications in peer-reviewed journals and his 30-year tenure of his research lab position at the EPA as evidence that the decision to designate him as official spokesman to attend the international environmental colloquium was entirely merit-based. They accused the numerical petition signers of gross disrespect for the authority of the judicial system that had enforced Perceval’s engagement at the EPA over 30 years ago, stating that the choice to sign the petition numerically was proof that they themselves knew that their protest was discriminatory and unjust.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Parenting Trap

Yesterday I logged onto Amazon to place a book order. I wanted to read the Marquis de Sade, not because of any strange sexual perversions on my part or anything like that, nor for the sake of learning how to possibly develop some strange sexual perversions, but rather for cultural reasons. I know that you’re probably thinking, “yeah, in the same way that I buy Playboy for the articles,” but I swear (and I mean this as an explication, not as an expletive) that it’s true. That torture has been sanctioned by my government, that it has even been a subject for debate in the United States and that it has not provoked more of a public outcry has made me cry a little inside and given me Sade thoughts. I simply wondered if I might learn something about the social psychology of torture from the master, the Marquis.

When I logged onto Amazon, before even having entered any information whatsoever about what I had intended to order, it welcomed me by my name and proffered a list of product recommendations. The marketing selections were right on the money as it is their purpose to be; until, that is, I scrolled down. There at the bottom of the screen I found a list of books on parenting. On parenting!? How did Amazon know that I was a bad mom? I had never purchased a book on parenting before (which might be part of the problem, but still). I reflected back to my last purchase—Freud. Surely that wasn’t enough to tip them off was it?

Come on! I only give my kids ice cream for breakfast once, occasionally twice, a week—a good source of dairy protein. I only “let” them play before doing their homework so that I can skim their textbooks and be ready to help them with it. Surely even Mrs. Gruber never really expected me to be able to recall my times table over two decades later! Even then the ubiquitous calculator had long since vanquished the abacus. Hell, even my grandmother had one. And I challenge any and all sentient adults to spell “sentient” without the aid of their automatic spelling corrector. I had named my son Egburtus not because I hated him but because I dearly loved my late grandfather, Egburtus.

I could go on and on with such excuses but I really shouldn’t have to. I’ve always been disturbed by data mining precisely because I feel this data is mine.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Cheney's Blood Clout

After last week’s failed attempt to assassinate Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan, Taliban in resurgents decided to try a new tactic. Working from the inside, they built a bloody terrorist cluster in Cheney’s leg—not just one cell, but a whole group of cells. Fortunately, they were caught in time by US counterintelligence.

Now that the shameful conditions at Walter Reed VA hospital have captured the attention of major news media, Americans are finally becoming aware that the death toll is only a small fraction of the human cost of war when the (physically and psychologically) wounded are also taken into account. What’s more, Democrats and other liberal, left-wing nut jobs insist that by all accounts, the Administration is falsifying its counts—to take but one of their traitorous examples, if a soldier who sustains injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan dies en route to or at a medical facility in another location he or she is not counted in the Iraq/Afghanistan death toll.

An anonymous White House source (“Scooter” Libby) reveals that war amputees whose limbs are thought to be infiltrated by terrorist cells, like the ones found in Cheney’s leg, are counted by the Administration as “victories,” as terrorists caught and captured, rather than as casualties, and that counting them twice would be dishonest. When reporters tried to question the Vice President on this matter, he adamantly refused to respond, calling the question "ill-leg-i(n)timate."

Tony Snow defended the Vice President’s decision, explaining that the state of Cheney’s leg is part of an ongoing investigation and that the Administration would simply not aid the enemy by providing any tactical information about which of its cells had been caught. When reporters tried to contact Cheney’s leg directly, they were told to talk to the hand.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Let's Do Coffee!

The other day I ran into a friend whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. He had moved away and now he was back—or so he told me. My suspicion lies in the following remark he made after I suggested that we try to get together: “Yeah, we should do coffee.” Now, in and of themselves, I’ve always found such expressions a bit strange, “let’s do coffee,” “let’s do lunch.” Of course I know what they mean; but whenever I hear them I always wander off on a mental tangent wondering how it is that they came to mean what they mean in the first place. Unfortunately, once in a while this is mistaken for hesitation and I’m afraid that here and there this might have cost me a friendship or two. But really, the question is just too tantalizing. How can one not pause to try to imagine what exactly it was that the very first coiners of the phrase were actually doing to their meals and beverages at the time of the idiom’s inception? For example, no one in America says “let’s do tea,” but if they did, I could at least have invented a fictional etymology originating in colonial New England, pictured the Boston Tea Party, put the question to rest and moved on once and for all.

The suspicion about whether or not the real reason I hadn’t seen my friend in so long was that he had moved away had come from my end, not his. So let me come back to “yeah, we should do coffee” in its more interpersonal implications. First, why coffee, not lunch, or, if I even dare be so presumptuous as to think it, dinner? Now, from a pragmatic standpoint it is true that people who are really interested in catching up and in lively conversation with their interlocutors should favor coffee over a meal. It sure is a lot easier to quickly swallow your sip and jump in with your witty repartee than it is to swallow that huge bite of steak you had just crammed into your mouth—especially since the bites tend to get bigger and bigger as you get more and more frustrated with the seemingly endless and progressively rigorous sawing away at the beast. (How easy it is to mistake gluttony for sloth!) As a rule, it is always of course at the moment when your oral cavity has been packed to maximum capacity that you are asked news of your Aunt Millie or your Cousin Fred. (Those two have always had a knack for annoying you even from 800 miles away. It almost forces you to admire them for it which just makes them all the more annoying.) At any rate, you are now forced into a bovine comedy where you put your hand in front of your mouth and try to joyously imitate “happy chewing,” head lilting side to side with a little shrug of the shoulders as you try to speed chew, only to gulp down an insufficiently masticated lump that you will no doubt feel lodged in your chest for the rest of the day or night as the case may be.

Pragmatism aside, everyone knows that an invitation for coffee indicates a lesser desire for social engagement than dinner, lunch, brunch or “lunar,” for those who, like me, sleep in until ludicrously late hours on the weekend. I’ve always been curious about my friend’s East Asian heritage but too politically correct to ask. Too bad his beverage of choice was caffeinated rather than alcoholic since loose lips drink such sips and I might have mustered up the courage to ask. I wanted to imagine that he was inviting me to participate in some exotic dance ritual or martial art that I had never before heard of: “Yeah! We should do ka fi! ” But allowing myself to indulge in such delusions is only tai chi-ting myself, setting myself up for an even greater fall; and I’ve learned the hard way that judon’t want to do this because in the end, you only wind up feeling all the more kung fulish.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Letter Better Late than Never?

Today I received a letter from a friend, an actual handwritten letter! It was delivered by mail—you know the guys in the quaint little blue suits that you speed by all day. At first I felt nostalgic and kind of tickled. But about a nanosecond later I felt just plain old. I’m not sure anyone under 30 has ever written or received a handwritten letter. And for those 20 or younger, I should probably explain that a letter is a means of communication that your ancestors used to use to exchange greetings and information. It was kind of like an e-mail or an IM except that it was produced with a pen (these you might still recognize from high school multiple choice exams) and it was visually represented not on a computer, blackberry or other PDA screen but rather on paper. Paper, I assume, you probably still have a clear notion of thanks to unsolicited credit card balance transfer checks and, of course, Valpacks—will they never die? No, I don’t need coupons for laundry detergent! I have my laundry picked up, cleaned and dropped off by immigrants every week as do all civilized individuals; I’m not a Neanderthal!

I’m not sure how to respond to the letter. Do I “bite,” do I play along by writing one in response myself? This seems rather complicated. Can paper and pens be delivered 24/7 or are they a novelty item with a two (or more?!) day shipping delay? On what web site can I place the order? How will my speling and gramaticul mistakes be be corrected?

Once upon a time the major combat fronts against signs of aging were more or less limited to the world of cosmetics. Now, the danger of exposing yourself is everywhere. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on botox, liposuction, chemical peels, plastic surgery, dye jobs… Once you’ve accidentally asked someone to hold on while you look for something in the other room (despite the fact that you are holding a cordless, portable phone in your hand) the game is over. And wouldn’t you know it, I was just getting over this horrifying gaffe when I received the handwritten letter! Damn! Now I’m probably going to need to schedule another web cam teleconference with my therapist for this week. Thanks a lot, Emily!

Your dear friend, Blue Genes

Monday, February 26, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth with Gory Consequences

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but last night as I was surfing for the news before going to bed (obviously, as this practice would indicate, I’m not one to subscribe to the “never go to bed angry” philosophy) I read that Al Gore had won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth. If true, I should think this Oscar would most conveniently favor achieving stricter environmental regulations, a cause most noble, though I’m not sure it would have any effect on Gore’s possible Nobel.

Last night, in relation to the news of the Oscar, with the memory of the 2000 election still anchored in my brain, I advised myself to keep in mind that the category of “things Al Gore won” is one of the trickier ones. It is worthy of far more skepticism than, say, “things Kelly Clarkson won” (American Idol circa 2002) though still a tad more objectively grounded in public and/or media consensus than that of “wars America is winning.” I cautioned myself for the need to be open to the possibility that by morning the Supreme Court might have ruled that Gore had not won the Oscar after all. I am glad to report that this appears not to be the case.

There is no doubt some mysterious algorithm used to calculate the probability of different outcomes for these competitions. I know nothing of such mathematical matters (except that Fox News never calculates in base 10 and its computers don't use binary, only monetary, code). I will thus leave all calculations to the statisticians. Still (with the possible exception of the Democratic Congressional victory, though it remains to be seen whether they will actually do—or, and perhaps more essentially, undo or prevent from having done—anything) it seems to me that some kind of inversely proportionate relationship weighing the variables “importance of outcome,” “concrete or symbolic nature of outcome” and “actual outcome” has perversely determined the results of all sorts of contests ever since the turn of the century—what I sadly refer to as the turn of the screwed.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Black, a Woman and a Giu...!

The media have been going crazy talking about the potential advantages but mostly disadvantages facing an African American and a female presidential candidate. Will blacks vote for Obama? Not necessarily—for the multitudes of African Americans expunged from electoral lists and denied the right to vote, race is indeed not an issue, not an issue, that is, as far as the candidates are concerned, more of an issue where police chases are concerned. Ready, set, go! To take but one, single, individual example, the Washington Post reports that “[…] Tampa residents were among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of non-felons in Florida who civil rights lawyers contend were wrongly prevented from voting in the Nov. 7 election after state election officials and a private contractor bungled an attempt to cleanse felons from voter rolls.” Needless to say that these disenfranchised residents were overwhelmingly minorities and I dare not even mention the effects of Katrina… Unfortunately for Obama, in today's America there may very well only be one presidential race.

Could a woman or an African American be a viable candidate for president in 2008? Are Americans ready? What’s in a name? Why are the soles of my new shoes squeaking? Where did I put my car keys this time? Where oh where has my little dog gone? Oops, I digress. Back to "what's in a name?": “New Q-Poll Highlights Name Power” reports the New York Times. Is Hillary advantaged by her name recognition or does this merely point out her lack of charisma when compared to Bill and/or bind her to all of the old impeachment baggage? Perhaps Americans are growing weary of oscillating between Bushes and Clintons and want someone nude…I mean new. Sorry, Freudian slip from free association with Bush, The Emperor with No Clothes and President Clinton and the Intern with no clothes--hey, if that’s what it takes to keep the guy with his finger on the button on an even keel, I personally think such an internship should be made into a permanent post; but on that one I seem to be the minority.

Pundits have seized upon the liabilities not only of Obama’s race but also of his name and its sonorous similarities that may subconsciously evoke latent prejudices or just plain unhappy thoughts: Barak/Iraq, Hussein/Saddam or insane, take your pick or go crazy and subliminally splurge on both! Obama/Osama. However, they seem to have quite unjustly neglected to acknowledge the uphill onomastic battle facing ex New York mayor Rudy Guiliani (yet Fox continues to insist that it’s “fair and balanced”—those damn liberal media!) How can it be that nobody has yet asked “Is America ready to elect a New York Gui...?”

Monday, February 19, 2007


My husband is a certified, perhaps certifiable computer geek. Gadgets and gizmos render him all Googley-eyed. Here are some of the things he elects to do on a pleasantly warm and sunny Saturday afternoon: research the history of the supercomputer, experiment with fonts and design of PowerPoint slides to make them more aesthetically pleasing (profits may be down but the cheerful, harmonious blend of the colors of the graph will surely lift the clients’ spirits, even if they’re not getting their fair shares of the pie chart) or learn a new computer language (as if “computer” were not already a language in and of itself). He keeps talking about C++ but I think this is due to his systematic modesty and I am certain that he Excels at it. Fluent speakers have told me he has a Lisp but he is nonetheless a true computer language wizard and has always had a way with Word; so, to my mind, that cannot Eclipse the inDellible achievements of his Intel-ligence. I guess in the end it’s all a matter of your Outlook.

Lately though he hasn’t been feeling very well and as rats often carry disease and pestilence I am convinced that it simply cannot be healthy to always have your hand on a mouse. (Not to mention the enormous stress that living hand to mouse entails.) I am terribly afraid that he might have caught a nasty computer virus and am monitoring his condition very carefully. Oh Dear God, please don’t let it be terminal!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Airport Absurdities

In few places does mankind dare to display the absurdity of life and the artificial social structures we put into place as overtly as it does in airports. I believe that it must have been the airport traversed on the way to the exotic, “primitive” land and not the exotic, “primitive” land itself that (ab)originally inspired structuralist thought. Claude Lévi-Strauss must have had an astronomical number of airmiles and nobody doubts that Lacan and Derrida were flying high.

When I arrived at the security checkpoint, I had a bottle of water in my bag and was told that I could not come through with it. I didn’t see the trashcan which was conveniently hidden behind the tush of the security guard planted majestically in front of it; so I asked what I should do with my bottle. “Drink it” his colleague said. I was thirsty (which was why I had purchased the bottle in the first place) but not thirsty enough to chug-a-lug 16 fluid ounces on the spot. Nonetheless, in no mood to argue with five guys twice my size at seven in the morning, I flipped back in my mind to one of those sweet old college memories and tried to visualize a group of drunken co-eds chanting “drink, drink, drink!” No dice, there were still 12 fluid ounces left. I gathered my forces and tried again; still there remained 8 ounces. So I asked about my bottle again and received the same answer though in a less civil tone since the guard was starting to get annoyed that I was “unwilling” to throw out my bottle—I had still not seen the trashcan. I have difficulty imagining any explosive liquid that one could chug 8 ounces of in two minutes while still remaining standing let alone still standing her ground. But okay, the rules are the rules, his job is to enforce them and unicorns aren’t real even if you develop a single corn on just one foot…I get it.

Waterbottleless, I tried to walk through the beep-wildly-when-anyone-who-has-forgotten-to-take-off-his-or-her-
belt-tries-to-walk-through-it machine and again I was stopped. I had already sent my coat through the x-ray scanner along with my shoes and my bag and was beltless to begin with. I was however wearing a fleece sweatshirt over my shirt and I was asked to remove that too. What the hell was this, airstrip tease? This time I convinced myself that I should be flattered. Since I could see no material reason for this request (in both senses of the term) I decided that they must have wanted to ogle my glorious breasts. At first I imagined this theory confirmed when the fleece top that had so concerned them and whose removal was so indispensable was forgotten in the machine. When I impatiently asked if they were done scanning it and if I could have it back they had no idea what I was referring to. Then I realized that the water bottle scenario was playing itself out again with another thirsty-but-not-quite-thirsty-enough traveler and the same portly guard still standing squarely in front of the garbage can. So much for my breasts; and so much for “security.” Evidently it is too difficult for five guards to enforce beverage container disposal and watch the x-ray monitor simultaneously.

When I finally made it through security (“Wow, they must be thorough if it takes them so long to monitor just one scrawny little woman!” some poor schlub desperate for reassurance must have been thinking) I was tired and frustrated. So, looking for a way to blow off some steam, I decided to provoke a nasty quarrel with the “courtesy phone.”

Not everything at the airport was bad though. With CNN blasting in the waiting area I learned two astonishing things: (1) that Anna Nicole Smith was dead and that the cause of death would not be known for several weeks. (What a relief, how else would the news channels have had enough time to prepare the tributes she so deserved before the case was shut and closed? Now they would have adequate time to prepare these stories and maybe even a little to spare to give us a few details about Iraq as well.) (2) That Barak Obama was running for president. (I’ve got to admit, his announcement floored me.) I am also happy to report that after having had the opportunity to view the safety procedure video on the plane again (it had been a solid four months since I had seen it) I am now relatively confident that I know how to properly attach and detach the seatbelt—confident enough anyway that I think I’ll still remember how to do it next week for the return flight home.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

House Debate on Iraq War Resolution turns Anglo-American vs. Continental

Of the House debate concerning a resolution to oppose the President’s war plan for Iraq, the New York Times reports: “The debate, which was scheduled to proceed to midnight for three days in a row, was tightly choreographed. Democrats started with the war veterans, leaving many of the fiercest war critics until later. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, for example, did not speak until after the dinner hour.”

Earlier in the week this had lead to a fierce secondary debate among members of the House Gastronomical Committee. While some committee members felt that Kucinich is best served with dessert like a good bottle of Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, others felt that his distinctive flavor made him more of a nightcap, like a cognac or a brandy. They were scheduled to reconvene the following morning over breakfast to settle this debate but were ultimately unable to come to a consensus over whether the breakfast should be continental or Anglo-American style. Most agreed that Anglo-American was the politically wiser choice which would allow them to eschew criticism from those who would accuse them of belonging to the east coast elite “hate America first crowd”. However, proponents of the continental breakfast argued that it would be disrespectful to Kucinich, their vegan colleague, to hold this discussion over eggs, sausage and bacon. In the end they were sharply criticized by proponents of both camps for waffling.

Although she did not wish to comment on this rift in the House Gastronomical Committee, Representative Maxine Waters of California, (sometimes referred to as “Sparkling Waters” by those who admire her spunk), leader of the 75-member Out of Iraq Caucus, did make a passing allusion to the gastronomical sub-controversy in her statement that the resolution would be a first step in opposing the “war giant whose appetite cannot be satisfied.”

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Walk to Prevent Suicide

Yesterday as I was leaving the bank, I saw a poster that read “walk to prevent suicide.” Whereas I found the association between the place where one checks one’s account balance and suicide quite natural, the idea that the sign at the exit of bank, “walk to prevent suicide” immediately furnished the solution to this problem I found a bit bizarre. Perhaps they were desperate—tired of having to scrub the blood stains off of the floor all the time—and had decided to give this a try; maybe the corpse collectors were on strike. Before catching sight of the sign I was planning on taking the train but then I decided to walk lest I end up taking my life.

As I was walking, I wondered exactly how this helped to prevent suicide. The theories that first came to my mind, like incidental weight loss or the beneficial effects of some sun exposure during those short winter days seemed unlikely from a marketing point of view; and Bank of America is pretty good at marketing. But the more I thought about it the more I realized that it’s probably true that your suicide options are somewhat limited while you’re walking. You can’t overdose on sleeping pills (unless you are a habitual somnambulist) you can’t run your car in the garage and breathe in the fumes (unless you have an enormous garage) you can’t aim the gun at yourself as well when you’re a moving target as when you're standing still… maybe the idea did have a certain logic to it after all. On the other hand, you can walk off a cliff or directly into traffic; but then you’d have to live in a big city or near a hiking trail. What do you know, even in the question of suicide by locomotion it still all comes down to location.

Recently I caught word of a run for breast cancer. Why should one walk to prevent suicide but run for breast cancer? It actually sounds quite misogynistic. But the worst has got to be “Race for the cure”. Great for whoever wins the race, but do the losers just limp away to die? Eureka, mystery solved! When you haven’t raced fast enough to win the cure, that’s when you’re supposed to walk to prevent suicide.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Reasons Why Women Should Be Depressed

It always starts with the wallet, right? Well, think about how much money you can save when you’re depressed, spend every minute of your life in the fetal position in bed or on the couch and just don’t give a s**t about anything anymore.

Some of the things you stop buying and don’t even miss include costly hair-care products, makeup and clothing, shoes, contact lenses and contact lens solution, tooth-whiteners/straighteners, fake nails, nail polish, nail polish remover and vegetables. In all honesty, however, savings in vegetables will probably be counterbalanced and even outweighed by elevated Ben and Jerry’s costs, so this one’s kind of a fudge-it on the budget. Also, the more the Ben and Jerry’s outweighs other items on this list, the more you are likely to weigh and you may have to start purchasing clothes again. But luckily, since you’re pretty much always wearing the same grungy bathrobe (in winter) oversized tee-shirt (in summer) anyway, this will not make much of an impact and you’re probably still ahead financially. Fortunately, a significant percentage of depressed women lose their appetite too. Try to be one of those. If you can’t that’s a bummer, big bummer, literally. But since your fat bum ain’t goin’ nowhere you can ignore the rising costs at the pump, car maintenance and insurance. Movie tickets, restaurant bills, bar tabs…out, out and out! Talk about keeping up with the Jonses!

Not only do you save money; you save a lot of time too. So think about it, if “time is money,” you’re actually doubling your savings. Things you don’t do anymore and don’t particularly miss doing include bathing (you’re so unpleasant that no one wants to be around you anyway, so who cares what you smell like—collateral savings on soap, shampoo, perfume, deodorant, shower cleaner etc.) housekeeping (no one is ever coming over again so who cares?! Bye, bye Mr. Clean, our relationship is over) and of course laundry (the Tide has turned).

In many cases your employment situation is almost irrelevant. Rising healthcare costs? Whatever, you wish you were dead anyway. Did your depression start when your bastard husband ran off with his secretary? It’s all about the alimony baby. Maybe you were fired from your job because of your dysfunctionality; maybe your depression set in after you were fired. For the middle-aged, menopausal woman who has already paid off the mortgage employment is absolutely inconsequential. If you’re in your thirties you’re far more likely to be screwed but you should have thought of this before becoming depressed, idiot. Twenty-somethings can probably move back in with their parents. You hate them, they hate you. This is good; it will help you to sustain your depression. Fight for it, you’re worth it. If they start to nag you about your unemployment simply remind them that every day you are not going to work is another day you are not spending money on your commute. That’s more money in your ripped-up, holey pocket right there.

Whatever you do, do not seek professional help. This is expensive and once you get out of your depression and rediscover your will to live your living expenses will skyrocket. Quit while you’re ahead. Trust me, you’ll be much happier depressed.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Some Recent Headlines

Bled by the People, for the People

A truck bomb killed over 130 in a Bagdad market on Saturday

Contract-addiction of Interests

The General Services Administration, a government agency responsible for managing contracts for Iraq, overwhelmed with cases of fraud and incompetence, has resorted to hiring…contractors.

Don’t Ass Don’t Tail

Recent polls are showing that Americans increasingly favor allowing openly homosexual people to serve in the military. Equal rights or convenient extermination plan?

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? Classic Iraq and roll by (the most appropriately named) the Clash

If President Bush continues this East-West polarization to the point where the U.S. alienates the entire Arab world, Rock the Casbah may make a strong comeback, I mean a strong surge, (escalation?) as well.

Holey Socks Wolfman!

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz revealed gaping holes in his socks when he removed his shoes in a visit to a Turkish mosque last Sunday. Must have confused the concept of a holy site with a holey one.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Lunch Time

Earlier today, mid to late afternoon, I got hungry and went down to the deli. I ordered a sandwich, picked up a bag of Doritos and got a vitamin water—you know, something healthy to offset the processed meat and practically neon-orange-colored cheese powder on the chips. When I pulled out my wallet to pay, the guy behind the counter asked “Is this all together?” “Yes,” I answered, a bit frazzled. Though I had perhaps not made the most judicious of food choices, I felt that they more or less corresponded to the typical one-person fare. The bag of chips was “fun” sized after all! (Yippee!) It wasn’t your conventional lunch hour and so I took a quick glance over my shoulder to confirm that I was indeed the only person in the store. Yep. It was only me. There were no other prospective sandwich, chip and vitamin water purchasers in sight. So the question "Is this all together?" really didn’t make sense to me. “Why,” I asked, “do you have a layaway plan?”

It’s true, there was another place down the street where I may have found, instead of the Doritos, some Cheetos or even some Fritos if I were lucky; and I might even have been able to snatch up a bottle of B-12 instead of a C. But I was rather hungry and thus not really in the mood for any extensive comparison shopping. Still, I couldn’t help over-thinking it. Was there some kind of crazy blow-out sale at the deli down the street that everyone in the neighborhood knew about except me? Was this the mysterious reason why I was the only person in the joint as opposed to my original assumption that most people just didn’t get their lunch at 2:43? I looked at him inquisitively and perhaps a bit suspiciously. He stared at me blankly. I continued to work out the problem in my head framed thusly: “Was it him or was it me?”

I thought back to earlier in the week when I had come in at 12:06 for a bagel (lightly toasted, low-fat cream cheese, lettuce and tomatoes) a fruit salad and a Coke. Yes, a Coke, with the fruit, the low-fat cheese, and all of the nourishment that iceberg lettuce and tasteless, genetically-modified tomatoes have to offer, I had not deemed any beverage balancing necessary. Unlike today, the store was packed with 12:06 lunchers. I waited in line for 7.28 minutesa little foot tapping and key jingling all the waybefore it was my turn to pay. That time I was asked “Would you like anything else?” Sheesh, if I had wanted anything else wouldn’t I have gotten it before standing in line for 7.28 minutes? Most fortunately for me, that time, with an impatient, hungry mob behind me, my survival instincts had kicked in and directed me not to over-think the situation. Today, however, I was continuing to look at him inquisitively and perhaps a bit suspiciously and he was continuing to stare at me blankly over a protracted period of time. But damn it all, I broke first! That is, I spoke first—at least my stomach did. I had lost a proverbial battle of chicken over a chicken sandwich; and I have yet to get to the bottom of things, at least the things that don’t come in airtight bags and plastic bottles.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Recent Headlines

Today Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) “respectfully” reminded the President that he is not, in fact, the sole “decider” as he claims.
Yeah, no kidding, there’s Dick Cheney too!

Run Democrats Run!
We need a strong democratic candidate to run and win the presidency in ’08 so that after his or her successful run he or she can get us out of IRAN.

President Bush pushing for a troop surge of 21,000 soldiers, eager to move forward with his impossible "plan" for insanely costly Iraqi free-dumb.

Bush Administration having always objected to the blame game is particularly irked by the “escalated” version, the Plame blame game. Looks like I. “Scooter” Libby will be taking the fall for Cheney and Rove. We shouldn’t be surprised; it’s not a stab in the back really. After all, Cheney and Rove have always openly despised, expressed the utmost contempt for, and railed against Libbyrals.

The Boy who Cried: Wolf
In an interview with Cheney on Monday, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked the VP how he felt about Focus on the Family (an evangelical group that has given great financial and public support to Bush/Cheney) having publicly condemned the pregnancy of Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary. Cheney objected to such an “inappropriate” question, calling it "out of line." Rather than challenging Cheney’s moral hypocrisy and standing by the legitimacy of his question, Wolf Blitzer practically whimpered and nearly peed his pants. Looks like The Situation Room may be planning to merge with Romper Room.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Miracle of Motherhood

When I first became a mother it took a little while for the reality of my situation to set in. I would find myself on the couch, scratching my head and wondering what was this odd creature that kept gnawing and slurping at my bosom? Furthermore, from whence came said bosom for which I had once so ardently prayed and then lost all hope of ever acquiring more than a decade past? I suppose that my previous lackluster track record at making plans and following through had managed to somehow make me completely skeptical that my nine-month pregnancy was indeed going to result in my having a baby.

During my pregnancy, my daily ritual had become waking up in the morning to an unexpectedly swollen belly and thinking that I had yet again irresponsibly rendered myself shamefully flatulent. I would then begin to berate myself for having so pigishly indulged the previous night in a glut-fest whose quantities of corndogs, lemon meringue and pickles would be sure to make the most desperate of reality show contestants bow their heads in shame. But then I would remember that I had always detested corndogs, lemon meringue and pickles in any quantities whatsoever and would recall that the unexpected was due, in fact, to the fact that I was expecting.

The defining moment that made me realize that I really was a mother came a week before my birthday when my husband asked me what I wanted. “A diaper genie!” I emphatically exclaimed before a microsecond had passed. By what miracle had a desperate desire for an odor-restricting excrement receptacle vainquished my lifelong fantasies of diamond pendants and designer footwear? Then it hit me: it was the miracle of motherhood.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Things Aren't Always Black and White

After pledging to his constituents, the majority of whom are African American, that he would seek to become the first white member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Democratic Representative Stephen Cohen of Tennessee has now withdrawn his bid. Apparently outraged that an elected representative in a predominantly black district should seek to represent his constituents and to place himself in a position to be as informed as possible about their needs, the all-black members of the Black Congressional Caucus made it clear to Cohen that he was not welcome, that the Congressional Black Caucus must remain black and that it is not to be “taken lightly.”

This should come as no surprise as members of the caucus have traditionally been staunch conservatives, very satisfied with and eager to sustain the status quo. One can only speculate that their tacit blackballing of Caucasian Cohen is based on a fear that fair representation would interfere with their goal of achieving fair representation.

Furthermore, one can only surmise that they are concerned that the Jewish representative from Tennessee, (regardless of the purity of his intentions) would not be in a position to fully comprehend what it means to be a member of a minority population and would denigrate and blacken the integrity of the Black Caucus.

Monday, January 22, 2007


This Sunday “morning,” when I woke up at the crack of noon, my husband, who is far less of a lazy schlub than I am, informed me that our best friends had called to say that they were attending an event near our home and could therefore stop by to see us when it was over. He said something that sounded like “they can come after the baby-wearing convention.” Thrilled at the chance to see them, I shrugged off this baby-wearing thing. Since my husband is not a native English speaker I assumed that he had misunderstood what they told him or that I, not yet doped up on coffee, had surely misunderstood him.

Holy shit! My best friends actually did spend their Sunday afternoon at a baby-wearing convention! I suppose that an avid interest in baby-wearing is a positive sign that for Dana and Drew having a baby hasn’t become too wearing. But a f**king BABY-WEARING CONVENTION?!

I still love them dearly, but not too long ago Dana and Drew were very sane people. Then, naturally, Dana became a total whackadoodle when Emma was born. This, however, is not cause for alarm. Psychologists say that it is actually very healthy for the mother of a newborn to establish a relationship with her child that under any other circumstances would be considered clinically psychotic—it’s true, I checked this with my shrink, my back-up shrink, my ex-shrink and his back-up shrink and they were all in perfect accord on this point.

But "what’s Drew’s excuse?" I can’t help but wonder. Safety belts, buckles, adjustable straps—he arrived all bound up in what, were it not for the duckies and bunnies motif and the adorable baby inside, would have resembled some sort of sadomasochistic restraining device purchasable only in Las Vegas. They say that in an insane world, insanity is sanity—or Sean Hannity, I forget. Yes, insanity—Sean Hannity, that sounds right (and I have long since had my “morning” coffee).

It took us a few minutes to excavate baby Emma but she came out all smiley and happy—a positive sign that she enjoys playing the role of a non-traditional body accessory. Since she is but a few months old, I will not allow myself to be disturbed by her apparent strange, fetishistic form of pleasure.

It’s quite fortunate that she does like it actually since the first time Drew finds himself without a three-person crew to help him extract himself from the device Emma might very well be worn for far longer. With any luck she’ll match his shoes. This is not something that I usually wish on my friends, but when that fateful day does arrive, for the sake of all involved I sincerely hope that Drew will find himself constipated.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Judgmental Gym Equipment

For many years I was one of those people who would repeatedly make going to the gym my primary new year’s resolution (right behind things like read War and Peace, cure cancer and floss regularly). Naturally, I kept falling off the wagon, or in the case of War and Peace the turnip truck. Then a few years ago I had the genius idea of joining the gym in the gay neighborhood. As a heterosexual female, I thought this was the perfect solution to feeling self-conscious. I was tired of feeling overwhelmed by the throng of smiley, pony-tailed stick figures who inspired an inferiority complex that inevitably sent me straight from the gym to the Ben and Jerry’s. Low and behold, good golly, it actually worked!

Today, however, I had a most disconcerting experience. You see, I have grown quite accustomed at my gay gym to the immeasurable luxury of being invisible. Today indeed started off like any other exercise day. I self-scanned my membership card and the desk attendant didn’t so much as lift his eyes away from People. Hurray, yet another victory for the rat’s nest, scrunchy-cum-sweat-band coiffure of stealth!

And then I saw it, my new enemy. Like most enemies it had a deceptively innocuous appearance. In fact, it even hypocritically masqueraded as not just benign but welcoming and friendly. It was the new Precor stepping machine, shiny and new, no doubt financed by the flux of membership fees from this year’s batch of early-January-only gym-goers who have been rapidly flaking out one by one.

When I stepped onto the machine it asked me to select a program. Fat-burner, of course! Honestly, I don’t know why the other five buttons even exist. Then it asked me to enter my age. As invisible me, I was able to enter it without the slightest flinch or twitch in regular people years, not marine turtle years, not botox years. And the machine replied, “age accepted.” Age accepted?! What, had it scanned me and decided that my entry was credible? Was this machine judging me? Before I could even recover my balance (which it is always a good idea to maintain on this kind of contraption) it was asking me my weight.

When the judgmental exercise machine asked me my weight I got a little nervous and my heart rate began to rise. It had surely already seen many a body more fit than mine. With the slight increase in heart rate, I briefly entertained the idea that the machine had thus already done its job and that I was free to go—but alas, my moment of panic had lasted but a few seconds, not a half hour. So I began to calculate. This morning when I stepped on the scale it was after drinking a large (enormous, huge!) coffee and before I had pooped. Surely I could subtract a pound or two. But would the machine buy it, or after my entry would it refuse to flash “weight accepted”? And what if this shiny, new, alluring piece of equipment were feeding my stats directly to the NSA? Should I “disappear” another pound or two from my record or would I be running the risk of this potentially being used against me as evidence impugning my credibility in a court of law? Great sigh of relief when “weight accepted” appeared on the screen. The gullible chump! Good thing too or I may very well have relapsed into the annual early-January-only crowd.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Headlines 1/17/07

Here are some of today’s headlines:

War and Piece

American and NATO commanders have requested that new troops be sent to Afghanistan. The country has seen a surge in attacks ever since Pakistan’s September 5 signing of a peace deal with Taliban leaders in North Waziristan. Critics of the Administration blame the President's great concentration on efforts to increase troop levels in Iraq for the neglect of the situation in Afghanistan, an accusation the Bush administration emphatically denies. According to White House sources, when local media reported on the agreement, one paper accidentally wrote “piece” instead of “peace.” This, explained White House Press Secretary, Tony Snow, led local Taliban commanders to believe that they could justifiably blow things to pieces across the Afghan border without violating the agreement. He went on to lament that such an error could have been made, asserting that President Bush was very disappointed that major players in the world political arena did not have a better command of English.

Schoolhouse Rocks

At least 70 are dead and another 170 wounded after three bombs exploded at a university in Baghdad.

Are you Syria’s?

Private Israeli and Syrian citizens co-drafted a proposal recommending that Israel return the Golan Heights to Syria. The document was disavowed by both governments.

In other news, The New York Times breaks into human trafficking:

The New York Times Store

Afghan Girl, 1985

Buy Now

The New York Times Store

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Behanging

As everyone knows, under Saddam’s regime torture was rampant. So entrenched in the reigning leadership’s culture, torture had become rather stale, codified—you could hardly tell one rape room from another.

Today, with the advent of the behanging, the newly liberated Iraqi nation has reached another high point in its path to rebuilding a new society. Although in their characteristic modesty Bush, Cheney and other senior administration officials have denied deserving any of the credit, sources say that Iraqis are grateful to have finally been blessed with the spirit of American innovation.

Says one gleeful member of the new Iraqi government: "were it not for the creativity exhibited in American torture workshops such as those held at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the behanging may never have seen the light of day." It looks as though good old American know-how is finally beginning to get a stronghold in this roadside a'bombin' nation.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Why I Go to the Gym

There are many clinically sound reasons to go to the gym—to look good, feel healthy, have more energy, fight stress, blah, blah, blah. There are also socially sound reasons to go to the gym, the most common one probably being to pick up dates and to have the opportunity, after seeing them in their tank tops and fitted sports attire, to get a good idea of what they’ll probably look like naked, thus avoiding those oh so fun surprises that suddenly make you remember that you have an early meeting in the morning or that you have a spouse and kids.

My reasons for going to the gym are clinical but mostly social. But I suspect that they differ from most social reasons. You see, it is very, very important to me that I outlive everyone in my family, especially my mom, and even some of my friends. The thing is, I’m generally a nice person and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Especially if they had to throw up every morning for a month and then push all seven pounds of me out of their vagina in a gory blood bath, pooping and peeing on themselves along the way just to give me life. The fact that she was simultaneously screaming about how she hated my dad and never wanted to see him again and that he had better have his things packed and be out the door before she got home and about how I was already turning her life into a living hell, once again forcing her to admit that grandma was right, dealing yet another lethal blow to her ego I consider completely understandable given the mitigating circumstances. So, as reasonable, kind, generous and lovable as such a person might sound, you can understand that I would never want to hurt her. And yet, she has left me with so many things that I feel I need to express, to get out on paper, but don’t ever want her to have the possibility of finding out about lest the things she said about me at my birth (devil’s spawn etc.) seem justified to the outside world.

I need her dead, but love her too much to actually murder her and don’t much care for the idea of facing life in prison or the death penalty. So instead, I like to send her little packages containing DVDs and transfatty baked goods that I made in my own oven. And I always enclose a little note saying how much I’m thinking about her and how I thought she’d adore the movie and deserves to relax on the couch and have a treat. Then I do indeed think of her and imagine myself accumulating these “brownie points” as I pedal away at the elliptical trainer.

These measures may be extreme, it’s true. Biologically speaking, it is already very likely that I will outlive my mother without any form of intervention. But the thing is that I need to outlive her by A LOT. Unfortunately, I can’t really begin to explain why until about 2040, maybe 2035 with the help of Pillsbury’s roll-out dough, maybe 2050 if Congress ever gets scientists back on track with stem cell research. And to think of all of the scientists pining away at the thought of all the lives they could save if only. Probably among them is some genius in eugenics named Eugene. Eugene, you genius! Have you ever met a Eugene who wasn’t really smart? It’s a little bit freaky that they’re always so geeky--and that I’m sounding like Dr. Seuss on drugs. I kept some of the special brownies for myself. No, not the ones you're thinking of, the ones made with transfat-free oil.

Between Iraq and a Hard Place

Apparently says pres. now it’s really time to Iraq and roll. How droll. We (the good guys) are going after the bad guys. Don’t know how foreign policy got to be a Marvel comic. What a marvel. So much we’ve marred so many evils, so vile, so violent.

My capacity to be stupid stupefies me. Vicious circle, although I find most circles to be well-rounded. Humdrum conundrum that’s not a drum at all. But a drum is nothing to beat oneself up about; rather beat around the drum, not the bush. Let’s not beat around the bush just beat Bush. Everyone knows he’s really a Dick.

Dick is an ass (is an Asscroft is a Rumpsfeld, they’re all the same.) Daughter’s a lesbian, but freaks out if dick is in ass. (Hey young man, watch those Roveing hands!) He does love a good Snow job though; special place in his (mechanical) heart for performances worthy of a Tony. Who ass k(iss)ed him anyway? He may have shot his friend but nobody axed him. I’ve gotten so embarrassed about my country. Does the word “embarrass” have anything to do with a fear of seeing or having someone see your bare ass? If so, another reason why homophobes are embarrassing!

I wish there were somewhere else I could go. Time for a quick brain storm on ideal places:

For writing: best seller. For wine: best cellar. For Native American capital: bet seller. For phone company: best cellular. For Mercedes: Benz seller. For mattress: bed seller. For marine chiropractor: bent sailor.

Looks like for now I’m staying put.

Arts and Craffs

I’ve come to the point where I need to craff. “Craffing”, a compound word of my fancy that combines “cry” and “laugh,” is what I try to do when I am so frustrated that I want to cry but I either can’t or just plain don’t want to. In those situations where you feel like your only options for response are to laugh or cry, in an amazing consistency with my inability to make a choice once and for all and stick by it I choose to craff. I choose to craff because I feel like crap.

Craffing article #1: How do I waste so much time and energy? HOW? My inefficiency, indecisiveness and inability to make a plan and stick to it are driving me insane(r). Why can’t I be less craffy and more crafty?

Addendum to craffing article #1: F**K!

Craffing article #2: I’m hungry and absolutely no food appeals to me. And I’m not just talking about the slender pickin’s left over in my kitchen from the last time I went grocery shopping (a faint and distant memory) but all of the theoretical food in the world. If I could just name a food, any food, and have it magically appear I still wouldn’t feel any desire or preference for any one thing more than another. Okay, true, maybe this is normal since my attention would naturally be focused on just having had my mind blown by this freakish, new supernatural superpower. But still, I think you get my point.

Craffing article 2.1: Metaphor. This eating situation is both literally true and the perfect metaphor for my current attitude toward all food, material or “spiritual.” There is nothing that I really want in life. The light bulb at the end of my current tunnel must have burnt out because the only “goal” I’m working toward (if 80% craffing about work and 20% actual working may be so called) seems only to be leading me to a swirling vortex that leads to a black hole. (No perverted interpretations of “black hole” allowed. I’m being serious in my craffing here). This sucks! (here you are invited to smoan [smile and groan] at the combo of “swirling vortex” and “this sucks!” but still no perversions please).

Crafffing article #3: I really do need to get back to work, figure-of-speech-God-because-I-am-a-staunch-atheist help me! If I don’t get to work my boss (my superego) is going to kill me. I’m just going to indulge in one or two more minutes of craffing before I do: [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff] [craff]…fin.

Addendum to craffing article #3: F**K!

The Meaninglessness of Life

Nothing in the world will convince you more quickly of the meaninglessness of life than listening to humanities professors. The following is their job in a nutshell (yes they are all nuts and yes, they do in fact live in a shell and I report it to you after years of shell-dwelling which means that when I say the following I mean the following, that is, following after a lot of other preceding things, i.e. lots of reading.)

Consider this a meta-example. And by the way, any time you wish to be taken seriously by any of these creatures, simply paste the word “meta” in front of any noun. (A noun is a word that is a person place or thing. This is a gentle reminder in case you were too busy making fruit loop necklaces to watch the particular episode of Sesame Street in which nouns were discussed. Disc…ussed. Discussed. Discussed! Discussed!!) “Meta” This is the secret recipe for an A. For an A+, simply sprinkle in 1 “ostensibly,” 2 or 3 “putativelies,” and an occasional “epistemological” for garnishing. They fall for it almost all of the time. Warning, a typo such as “mega” in the intended up-sucking place of “meta” will invariably backfire and get you a bad grade. If your early years resemble in any way those of the shell-dweller (The early years: Step one: have the fortune to be born into a family that has a reasonable fortune. Otherwise you will never have the time to contemplate those essential quandaries of life that are the humanities, questions which, though essential you may not happen to ponder if your family is not bourgeois and you have the chronic habit of activities such as, say, eating. Step two: Have the misfortune of having neurotic parents) As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself with such an impolitely long parenthesis, if your early years resemble in any way those of the shell-dweller, you may find yourself at an ivy-league school, a first-tier state school or a small, private liberal arts college which means your bad grade would be a B. (C’s are reserved for retarded future presidents). If you do not fulfill virtual prerequisites one and two (see obnoxiously long parentheses above), you may be at a second-tier state school or a community college in which case your bad grade will be a D or an F. If you have not attended college, there is no chance you will have kept reading this far.

The adolescent shell-dweller gets struck at an early age by the meaninglessness of life. Once put into contact with a course in philosophy 101 the natural shell-dweller finds him or herself spouting sophistry in no time. Put him or her into anthropology 101 and she or he will begin systematically writing him or her, himself or herself, he or she (or any variant such as s/he) or, simply putting all pronouns in the feminine. This last tendency is particularly pronounced in the sub- shell category of the white male. If you have ever indulged in the idea that men in the humanities are generally a bit girly, indulge away! This is an inevitable side effect of working in the humanities. Incidentally, this is the ideal habitat for the straight but girly male or the smart but only marginally attractive female with the exception of the members of the French department (not for the girly men of course. To say girly male and French professor is practically redundant). Female professors in the French Department however are always hot. Ou la la!

After future shell dwellers have read a bit of Kant, Nietzsche, Derrida, Kristeva and the cliff notes to Aristotle, Plato and Aeschylus they begin to become intolerable. This is the period during which they are known as “graduate students,” otherwise known as that TA from hell with the stick up his (or her) posterior for whose sustainable wage and benefit package you will nonetheless go out to protest provided the protest coincides with your writing seminar/snormenar.

A shell dweller has reached the peak of his (or her) maturity when he (or she or s/he) has managed to have gone through the process of being struck by the meaninglessness of life, converted it into an enormously self-righteous ego and begun to take everything that surface dwellers find boring and assert its incontrovertible significance after having forgotten the meaninglessness of all but the most glaringly obvious of meaninglessnesses. Yes. I am talking about your comparative literature professor. Your anthropology professor’s ego got so big that he or she got wedged in a cave in the Congo between the rocks with traces of what appear to be either the markings of the ancient Igbo tribe or the Ekiko tribe (a controversy of hot debate! Run for your life if you ever find yourself alone in a room with an Igobist and an Ekikotist, things are gonna get ugly). The secret to getting tenure, my dear esteemed colleagues, is to take yourselves far too seriously. Master this one essential principle and the very mention of your name will sear fearful awe into the soul of all graduate students and you will never have to grade a stupid undergrad’s paper again!

In short, the career of a humanities professor is a sado-masochistic war dance that pits self against self, then any monotheistic God, then student then graduate student then colleague of the latest up and coming school of thought respectively. R-E-S-P-E-C-T, get me some philosophy (and Madame Poulet’s phone number s’il vous plaît)!