Monday, July 31, 2006

a little bit of this

Two stories that seem related:

Hmmm. Crime rises with temperature...perhaps U.S. politicos can use this angle to get off their collective asses and start addressing global warming.

Today I overheard one of my more endearing co-workers quietly sigh, "I wish I was magic." It made me smile.

A story in today's Houston Chronicle:
Fight against childhood obesity starts with communication

The second paragraph reads:
"To ignore the weight issue (of an adolescent) is almost like the elephant in the room that no one's talking about," said Roberta Anding, a clinical dietician in adolescent medicine at Texas Children's Hospital."
An elephant in the room? Is that the most sensitive metaphor you could come up with, Roberta? Very nice.

Mel, Mel, Mel. What a lethal weapon your mouth turns out to be. There's nothing like getting drunk and letting it all hang out, eh? It's not like there aren't left wing crazies out there but there's something very special about a famous "closet" bigot slipping in the spotlight.

Sometimes I try to curb my criticism of the world at large. You know, look at the bright side, blah, blah, blah. But, let's face it, some days it's like shooting fish in a proverbial barrel. The world if full up with idiotic behavior. All I need to do is close my eyes, spin the mouse and click anywhere.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

stream o' consciousness

It's not the heat it's the blazing hot humidity
The front room air conditioner just went tits up this week.

The back room air conditioner has begun to drip. A pre-death shudder that is sure to damage the wall beneath it.
We're going to get central air and heat. In the fall.
I feel a bit beleagured. It's not like I believe an omnipotent force out there is doling out punishment by the BTU. I'm just warm and whiny.
I just finished Natalie Angier's book
Woman: An Intimate Geography. Note to self: I don't care if all you can get hold of are her grocery lists, read everything this woman writes.
Bill Moyers is doing a PBS series called
Faith & Reason. I hope I haven't blown my hyperbole wad in the previous paragraph (no less bright a spotlight on Ms. Angier). Moyers asks, "In a world where religion is poison to some, and salvation to others, how do we all live together?" His interviews with Salman Rushdie, Mary Gordon and Colin McGinn are food for the soul and the intellect. I listen voyeuristically to these–goddammit I've used up all the adjectives...brilliant minds converse. It's not just the intellectual breadth or the breathtaking vocabularies (though those are awfully sparkly at times) but it's the vision. The measured and articulated view. The creative approach to global issues. That's what makes the brain and soul feel massaged back to life. That's what gives me hope.

This stream of consciousness is getting dammed up now. I have been chronically sleepy for days and I promised myself I'd be in bed before 10pm and I'll be damned if I won't.

Monday, July 03, 2006

the pile

Work in Progress
There's a space under the paper tray of my laser printer where I shove notes scrawled on envelopes, programs and sticky notes rendered sticky-free by the lint they've collected in my pockets and dust they've accumulated under the paper tray of my laser printer.
These are the ideas I collect for doing this. Ideas stacked haphazardly when I can't for some reason synthesize them into words worthy of posting. They are my treasures. My incomplete, fragmented, half-gestated word offspring.
Some of you have gotten tired, annoyed, impatient with my process. Some have written to tell me so. Thank you. No greater compliment can a writer receive than that her patient readers are fed up with waiting.
Behold my pile of crumpled inspiration:

Drivers Ed
I blame part of my two-month blog silence on Defensive Driving.
It's not a lame reason.

Two months ago Barbara and I attended a Defensive Driving course offered through, and paid by, my company. To reduce our insurance premiums. To save the $45 apiece it would cost to take the course online. And the experience was so grueling and bursting at the seams with blog-worthy, vicious commentary, I was struck cyberdumb. The fact that some of the mean-spirited responses oozing out of me were directed at coworkers compounded my hesitancy to write. I'm over it now. I only stayed the torturous six plus hours because I am too fucking cheap to throw away $100. In hindsight, I'll never do that again. Nothing is free.

First of all, let me say that the woman teaching this class was obnoxious, rude, pontificating, stupid, self-righteous, racist, an overfucking explainer, arrogant and did I mention stupid? Stupid. And I am not just being mean. To begin with, she went around the class asking people if they were taking the class for an insurance discount or to avoid a ticket. Then, she grilled each moving violator about their citation. Where, why, what and who. It was incredibly uncomfortable for many of the repentant who just came to do their penance quietly. On the other hand it was an opportunity for the dullards to wax rhapsodic about how they had been wronged by the system. And this bitch had no where near enough sense of how to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand.
Here is my abbreviated litany of complaints. Abbreviated because writing "Just Shut the Fuck Up" forty times isn't really specific and tends to make your audience edge towards the door. For accuracy, though, you might want to sprinkle that phrase liberally through these bulleted items.

  • She insisted on talking us through filling out the form...telling us to stop writing after filling out "first and last name," so she could read "street address" lest any of us stumble over that rarely seen label
  • She lectured us about how signing the paperwork incorrectly was the equivalent of "tampering with a government document" and could get us 2-10 years. [I kid you not]
  • She said the influx (didn't use that word, though. If she'd tried, I am relatively sure it would have come out "reflux" or "reflex") of "different cultures" to our city was contributing to the traffic problems. As if, on any given day, one couldn't find enough EFL idiots to fill a freeway.
  • And then there was my list of "Did she actually say...?"

    • Hurricane evacuates; the people who evacuate are called evacuees. The only time I've ever seen evacuates used as a noun was when someone was talking about post-enema matter. And I don't even think that usage was correct.
    • (she read numbers like a trucker) Four, seven, niner...NINER?
    • pronunciation: /sub SEE kwent/ which one assumes means "the next"
    • "all in agreeance" (it's in the dictionary: considered obsolete and a bastardization of `agreement' --which it was)
    • Griping her out (the quaint and idiotic country equivalent of "bitching her out")
    • Photostatic copy--a perfect example of trying to sound like you know so much but end up sounding like you are still awed by the making of dittos.
    • On the rules concerning license plate frames–i.e., the visibility of state name and number–what is banned is anything that affects the delectability of the license plate. Delectable.
    • She READ the most recently enacted, driving-related goverment legislation for almost an hour. Chapter and verse.
    • She fancied herself a writer. [And I'm an evacuate.]
    • She ran over by more than an hour. More than an hour on the longest Saturday on record.
    • She gave us every test answer. Gave them to us. Every single one.
    I rest my motherfucking case.

    Two Bulls Escape on Houston Highway

    I am unable to resist the pull of a headline like this. Powerless. I was going to link to this page for you, but the search feature on my own is unable to pull up this article by its verbatim title. Jesus.
    Okay, here is the story. Comments in brackets are, of course, mine.
    June 12, 2006 7:59am
    A Houston police officer found himself chasing two escaped bulls on I-45 Sunday night, according to a report this morning by KHOU.
    The driver was getting onto the I-45 ramp from the North Loop [not 5 miles from downtown Houston] around 11:30 p.m. when the bulls apparently got out of their trailer. ["apparently got out of their trailer"? Got out is so passive. It explains nothing. "Grew thumbs and opened the latch" would be a more interesting attempt.]
    One of the animals ran through a neighborhood before a police officer was able to stop his car on the rope it was dragging, according to KHOU.
    But the bull got angry and began ramming the officer's squad car until it was finally captured. [Why is the thought of a massive animal headbutting the squad car that has run over its leash so delightful? Can't you just see the cop after he runs over the rope, sitting there smugly until the enraged bull begins to ram his vehicle?]
    The other bull that escaped was hit by a pickup truck and had to be euthanized, KHOU. reported. [I love frontier living.]
    Survey Finds Americans Will Give Anything Not to Be Fat
    May 30, 2006
    by Rob Stein, Washington Post
    [Once again, comments in brackets are all mine. As is the bolding.]

    Almost half of Americans would give up a year of their life to avoid being fat, according to a recent survey.
    The online survey of 4,283 of Americans ages 13 to 79 also found that between 15 percent and 30 percent would rather leave their marriage, give up the possibility of having children, be depressed or become an alcoholic than be obese.
    Five percent would rather lose a limb, and 4 percent said they would rather be blind.
    "We were surprised by the sheer number of people who reported they would be willing to make major sacrifices to avoid being obese. It drives home the message that weight bias is powerful and pervasive," said Marlene Schwartz of Yale University.
    Schwartz led a team of researchers that reported the survey results in the journal Obesity.
    The primary purpose of the survey was to gauge anti-fat bias.
    People of all weight categories exhibited a significant implicit bias against people who are overweight, the researchers found. But they said that thinner people tended to be more biased. [I'm sure most of us fat folks will be shocked by this.]
    "The fact that even obese individuals exhibited a significant implicit anti-fat bias is important because it suggests they have internalized negative sterotypes, such as believing they are lazy," Schwartz said. [Ya think? Imagine fat people seeing other fat people as losers. Fat people are not satisfied with hating themselves; they go ahead and hate anyone who looks like them. That's what I call a full course of indoctrination. Belch.]
    I am drawn back to this article because someone I know and love has just been diagnosed with anorexia. Of the many frightening things associated with our culture's hatred of fat is that if she had been plump and bulimic, she would not be viewed with nearly as much sympathy. And in some cases, respect. That's right. There's a bit of sicko respect given to anorexics for their "discipline." Isn't that perfect?

    Pee Cycles

    Did you ever get on the same pee cycle as a coworker? You know, where for a few days everytime you go into the bathroom you run into, walk in with or come out of the stall to the same person? Like your bladders are in sync whether you like it or not. It's kind of creepy. Like stalking without a reason. Anyway, my other urination issue is toilet talkers. When I go in the little stall to pour out some diet coke, I don't want to continue or begin a conversation. About anything, least of which is the topic of peeing. Every once in a while a chatty coworker making small talk enroute fails to adhere to the etiquette of elimination. When I'm having a private moment, I'm having a private moment, dammit.

    Coming Out

    A dear young person I know has recently come out. I cannot say much more here because this person is not out to most of their family. I can say that I'm grateful that things are different today then they were 20 years ago for a young gay person. I can also say that many things are not different then they were in terms of cruelty and ostracization, so kudos to the courage of the young.


    My favorite part of Chex Mix, it turns out, is the Chex. This, from a long time pretzel aficionado. You have to grind the crunchy, salty stuff with your molars. Sometimes afterwards you want something sweet and, if there's nothing else around, you might pop a few Skittles or, godhelpme, chewing gum in your mouth to satisfy that sweet urge. Then, your jaw mutinies/spasms/locks. TMJ is just another way of saying one more of your hinges is dangerously rusty. It's painful and irritating and ridiculous. I understand why my knees and back complain. I am a lot of woman riding on one skeleton. I even understand my shoulders' persistent squawk whenever I reach behind me. But that much pain in my jaw makes me mad. Damn thing may not be responsible for my girth but it's been a player in the crime and it doesn't get to join the chorus of aches. Grrr.
    And I know this is self-hating. The Gods inspired the creation of hair shirts because They invented them first.

    Vocabulary Poverty

    It's official. I'll be attending Cultural Vocabulary Bootcamp this fall. How a lover of words and seeker of unacceptable, impolite, UNLADYLIKE expression could be so uneducated is a mystery to me. But I don't plan on remaining ignorant.

    I'll tell you what put the bee up my wordy ass: a few years ago someone used the word "fluffer" and I looked at them like a toddler being introduced to quantum physics. My children knew this word and suddenly I felt like I should be needlepointing something. Okay, so a fluffer, it turns out, is the off-stage person in charge of getting a male porn store to the stage of camera-ready erection. This person, I assume, would be male or female as the situation warrants. I don't know if there is a respective job for the female star...since evidence of readiness could be somewhat more easily faked or unseen. Nevertheless, like the Grip or Best Boy, the Fluffer has a job to do. Just because the job in gay porn could easily use either of the previous job titles is immaterial. I was was chagrined at my fluffer-ignorance. (The temptation to slip the phrase "fluffer-nutter" into this paragraph was too great to resist.)

    This past week over lunch with the girls, my vocabulary once again showed a significant...crack or hole for lack of a better adjective. Queef. Queef. Pronounced /kweef/. A sweet sounding, playful little word that I heard and at which I blinked vapidly. It means vaginal farting. A concept that encompasses so many of the things I find delightful, yet I did not number this word among my vocabulary treasures. My children and apparently most of the people I know (and was decidely unabashed about asking...demanding their acquaintance with the onomatopoetic noun) knew about the queef. This is why bootcamp is in my future. Not to mention that my punishment demands the writing and publishing of this silly poem.
    It is rarely a relief
    to produce a queef;
    to some it's a gaff
    so why did I laugh?
    gas and queef, if wed,
    make gaff, I said.
    The aforementioned space under the paper tray of my laser printer is now empty.