Tuesday, June 29, 2004 · posted at 1:41 PM
JERRY: So you feel "women and children first," in this day and age, is somewhat of an antiquated notion.
GEORGE: To some degree.
JERRY: So basically, it's every man, woman, child, and invalid for themselves.
GEORGE: In a manner of speaking.
JERRY: Well, it's honest.
GEORGE: Yeah. She should be commending me for treating everyone like equals.
      – Seinfeld #84, The Fire


On knights in shining armor. One evening, post Wednesday night sushi, we were lollygagging outside the restaurant when 1) the breeze picked up, 2) we had been lollygagging for so long, heat loss had occurred, or 3) a combination of both. It was chilly, and at this point, all the XYs were expected to surrender their outer garments to the XXs.

Gene graciously forfeited his jacket to me, which I promptly threw back at him, putting out his cigarette in the process and effectively sending two messages: I am woman, hear me roar (and bitch) and Don’t Smoke. But really, why should Gene have to suffer because of my wardrobe malfunction? Of course I’m sure if I was shivering and a significant other didn’t offer up an article of clothing, albeit a sock, this would be another story, since expectations are notorious for changing once in a relationship. But I digress...

So there are probably hundreds of explanations why a guy would feel compelled to give up his jacket for a girl – of which, out of sheer laziness, I will discuss two:

Reason #1. The guy is stronger than the girl.
This depends on the definition of stronger. I have no doubt that most guys above the age of 11 can bench press more than my twiggy arms. Studies are split on whether males or females have higher pain tolerance, even despite the child birth argument. Regarding temperature thresholds, looking at body composition and fat distribution, I’d expect women to have the edge regarding insulation issues. However, in this case, it’s all a moo point. In balmy 70 degree San Diego weather, I doubt any of us are in immediate danger of hypothermia and there’s low risk of my ovaries freezing over... which brings me to the next point...

Reason #2. The girl is more valuable.
I’m not sure if the “women and children first” value came from a vulnerability or from the necessity to carry on future generations (which actually makes me think of the legacy of the salmon), but for the purposes of this theory, I’m going to say the latter. From a reproductive monetary standpoint, egg donors are paid a minimum of 4 digits while sperm donors are paid, on average, under 3 digits. This is some equation using factors such as ease of collection and supply (with women’s being limited from birth and men’s being able to produce until the end).

So what if a woman has no intention of mothering a child. Does her stock plummet? Or what if she doesn’t have the capability to carry a child to term? What if her uterus is “an inhospitable environment?” or her husband was endowed with a “big flaccid penis?” What if she’s already in the position to forget “to take her hot-flash medication today?” (Who’s still aboard the reference train?) Does a female’s value increase or decrease according to her reproductive capabilities? And what kind of implications does it have for duties and priorities?

It’s a slippery, slippery slope and in a blink of an eye Guys, relinquishing your coats is like waving a banner around that says “Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen where she belongs.”

I once hung out with a guy who was absolutely insistent on being chivalrous. He was always running ahead to open the door, abducting the check, pulling out chairs – it’s a good thing this was during a drought season because he probably would have laid his jacket in a puddle to walk over. Anyway, this grew old real fast, and left me wary of guys eager to come off as a Modern Gentleman

Now I must admit, some guys have etiquette hardwired into their brains. I have a friend who opens the car door, serves my tea, and literally breaks bread for me… and I’m totally fine with it. He executes these actions so seamlessly, so naturally that I know his intention is pure, or rather that he has no intention... that is just who he is.

No one wants to hang out with the overzealous white knight, but there’s always a happy middle ground and everyone (male and female) should show some semblance of manners.

So although I fully endorse the splitting of checks, sharing of door-opening duties, alternating of the “who sleeps on the wet spot,” I also fully intend to raise hell if some bastard Abercrombie and Fitch worker whom I have known for 4 hours wants to climb into my backseat and make my roommate of 4 years sit in the trunk.

Monday, June 28, 2004 · posted at 6:30 PM
ASAP, the other 4-letter word.

· posted at 2:36 AM
Butterfly in the sky.

Today was the San Diego Open Air Book Fair hosted by the San Diego Booksellers Association and made possible by San Diego’s resident cruise director. I didn’t even know flea market style book fairs existed, although I have an autographed FoxTrot book, courtesy of my sister, that contradicts that. I’m surprised San Diego has enough readers to block off one city block for one Sunday. The last book fair I went to was in the library of my elementary school where I bought Ruth Chew books and Garfield door hangers (sidebar: I loved book orders back in elementary school. I used to order so many books – always enough to get the free poster of the kitty hanging from the tree, or the dog in the bubble bath, or whatever. In 9th grade, my English teacher somehow conjured up book orders once again – making me love her class even more).

I was so excited by the prospect of a book fair. Not so much because I was in search of a rare 1st edition or copy of Love in the Time of Cholera with a phone number inside, but more so because I’m a nerd, and a penniless one at that.

I used to have issues with used books and library books. Probably because when I was growing up, my mom would 1) cover these books ala brown bag, 2) make me wash my hands at 15 minute intervals whenever flipping pages, or 3) insist on buying it from the bookstore. “You don’t know where it’s been” – which is extremely true.

Then college came and texts were $100 each. After that first quarter I paid exorbitant fees to UC Regents for brand new books that I opened three times a quarter (after the first day of class, the day before the midterm, and the night before the final), I learned quickly. I could justify buying used textbooks because 1) exposure would be minimal, 2) studying was already associated with discomfort, and 3) I could pretty much say with certainty where this book had been – sitting untouched in someone’s backpack or dorm room (the people who actually used the books tended to keep the books).

The problem with used books for leisure, however, is that the situations for handling them is very different. Reading is not relegated only to a desk or library. I like to read in my bed and what this often means is that I fall asleep with a book on my face. I don’t know where that book has been... do I really want it lying on my face so close to mucous membranes for a minimum of 6 hours? The case for used and rented clothes (though thin) is that you can clean and sterilize them. To my knowledge, no such procedure exists for books.

According to my required course education at work (with topics such as corporate compliance and occupational health and safety), the Hepatitis B virus can live up to 7 days in dried blood. With the preponderance of antibacterial everything at an all time high, one can only speculate about what Supergerms exist today. You really don’t know where it’s been but can expect that someone at one time has coughed, sneezed, scratched an inappropriate area, not washed their hands, dropped some kids in the pool, etc. while holding this book. I cannot even fathom why someone would buy The Joy of Sex from a used bookstore.

So what’s changed? Has my Public Health class converted me from a germaphobe? Has my work with children led me to believe I’m immune to all microscopic yuckies? The answer is simple: necessity.

Necessity remains the only driving force for change in my life. Interest (e.g. scrapbooking) and motivation (e.g. going to the gym) can really only maintain a 3 week manic episode. Necessity, however, produces results. I need money, thus I work. I needed to ensure my website didn’t look like a "crying eagle" one, thus I learned barebones HTML. I needed to have reading material that wouldn’t empty my wallet or accrue late fees, thus I got over my mental trip about used books.

I know I won’t become one of those fanatical book collectors who try to find signed copies or limited press editions because that would defeat the rationale for used books in the first place.

It was disappointing that I didn’t find any books from my childhood that I wanted to buy. Then I realized it was because every book I loved as a kid is sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust in my parents’ house.

I waver between wanting to keep those books and wanting to sell them. One seller had Value Tale books listed at $25 each... which makes me want to sell them. Then I think about the sentimental worth of those books (e.g. every book report from grade 2-8 was based on or referenced a Value Tale book) and want to keep them. And then I think about whether I’ll actually pick them up and read them or learn anything new and feel I should sell them. Then I think that the only person buying them would be 1) a sentimental shmuck like me or 2) a teacher/educator/librarian, and that children should be able to access and be inspired by those sorts of books and I should just donate them to a library – though not the Millenium one because revenue from the giftshop should bring in revenue and it really doesn’t need the help.

So the value for today is... Learning (Marie Curie) and I’m about to go learn all about the big impact of little white lies in Pinocchio Nation - sociological observations/interpretations and personal integrity workbook all rolled into one.


· posted at 12:36 AM
New to a Westfield Shoppingtown near you...

I just read in US Weekly (which is the magazine for all things Hollywood and true) that Mischa Barton will be appearing via 6-foot posters (basically, life-size) in Aeropostale stores nationwide starting July 5th. It's bad enough that I have to see her face hawk Neutrogena products (whether this is an improvement over Mandy Moore is questionable).

This new advertising campaign can only be interpreted in one way: guilt-free one week Aero shopping spree.

Thursday, June 24, 2004 · posted at 9:51 PM
no alarms, no surprises

I’m up for my one year review at work.

I have a fear that I will wake up one day and realize am I am writing with the Tiffany’s pen (presented to employees at the 5 year mark) that I have stuck around in the same place for way too long for no reason at all.

I had a long meeting with my boss to discuss the past year: barriers, structure, goals, achievements, personal characteristics, everything they teach you about in those leadership books/tapes/videos this organization is so keen on. So basically it was a bash fest (“you suck!”) followed by an excuse fest (“but, but, but”). I’m exaggerating, obviously. My boss is extremely kind and has this magical way of criticizing, or rather, addressing “areas for growth” in a non-offensive manner.

This may have been the first time a meeting of this type did not result in the welling up of tears. Either this is a sign that I am 1) learning to take criticism better or 2) not invested or caring. Sadly, I think it is the latter.

One recurring “theme” I noticed in the conversation was that of “we didn’t expect you to stay around this long – we thought you were off to better things soon.” My response (in my head, of course) was 1) neither did I and 2) so did I, respectively.

I am Chandler who worked at his “temp job” for 5 years - except they’re not throwing more money my way (although I may be eligible for a 4% salary increase. This means I’ll be able to buy a postage stamp with every hour worked).

One thing that my boss commended me on was that I took responsibility for an intern’s less than strong (read: bad) performance due to my leadership, or lack there of. Apparently that was the thing that impressed her the most over the past few months. Huh, I should admit I screw up more often.

And to clarify so that no one gets some ill-conceived notion that I am compassionate, have martyr-like tendencies, or will fall on a bomb for you, I wasn’t really trying to shoulder all the blame for this intern. It was my backhanded way of trying to criticize my coworker’s supervisory skills. One thing that I’ve realized though is that everyone here is so damn nice that this kind of veiled insult just glances off people and offers no internal satisfaction whatsoever.

I’ve also realized that I’ve become one of “those people.” One of those people meaning, I am part of *gasp* a team. I am expected to invest, to contribute, to lead and to be led. I am to manage and micromanage and write “protocol” for every single task I do or want another to do. I write step upon step of detailed instructions equivalent to “1.Go to cabinet  2.Pull cabinet door open  3.Choose cereal  4.Open cereal box  5.Pour cereal into bowl  6.Go to refrigerator  7.Open door  8.Get milk  9.Pour milk into bowl  10.Use spoon to eat”

I have to look out for someone other than myself. I’m responsible for making other people’s work experiences valuable and satisfying. I attend meetings about meetings and have my inbox filled with email strands where 5 million people are “CC’ed” and “Replying to all” about mundane things such as how to copy and paste off a website. I’m supposed to interview people, orient them, train them, and then evaluate, praise and criticize them.

I have an “action plan” and a set of personal/technical/leadership goals to achieve over the next 6 months. I am on the verge of using phrases such as “touch base” and “get squared away.” I have already actively began using the phrase “lines of communication” and referring to them as “open” and “closed.” Every suggestion I make ends with "does that sound okay?"

In short, I am becoming one of those people I never thought, or wished to become.

F***.

So maybe I should set my real goals now.

Number one, and the only one, be anywhere but here.

The only thing you have to be by the age of 23 is yourself.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004 · posted at 6:45 PM
I have to go now

I was reminded yesterday why it pays to be "asocial".

I had to make a phone reminder to a family for their appointment. No one picked up and it went to a voicemail box, which I pleasantly left the message: Hi, this is Christina calling from the guinea pig program. We are looking forward to seeing you at your appointment tomorrow. Please call us if you need to reschedule. See you soon! with a perkiness level far exceeding my personal threshold.

So in doing phone interviews, calls, etc., they explore different scenarios and have different “scripts” for you to use to troubleshoot different questions/problems. But how the hell do you really train to deal with volatile people? Have your supervisor yell at you? That might already happen on the job. Can’t I just not train for that and pretend those people don’t exist (even though I know I can be one of those people the third weekend of every month)?

Two seconds after I hang up the phone, the phone rings. When I pick up, an angry voice demands "DID YOU JUST CALL MY NUMBER AND HANG UP?" In my confused and deer-in-the-headlight way, I stumble and blubber and say, “No, I don’t -” which is met with a “YOU DID!” And I stumble and blubber more and try to say “I just left you a voice message” but am interrupted with a “YOU CALLED MY NUMBER AND HUNG UP. DON’T DO IT AGAIN!” effectively ending any opportunity to call and explain.

Fine, lady! See if I try to help you and your family lose weight, adopt a healthful lifestyle and avoid the crippling effects of diabetes II, cardiovascular disease, and possible sudden death!

I’m not used to being yelled at. I don’t like being yelled at. Even the litigious woman who threatened to sue us at work, didn’t yell at me. That really upset me, for a good “10-15 minutes.”

And now I actually have to see her in person, make nice and pretend that she wasn’t a total bitch to me over the phone - all in the name of science.

I hope she checks her phone messages later and realizes that, hey, the voicemail got to the phone before she did (look at how passively revengeful I am). Who knows how many countless people she’s terrorized due to her ineptitude with technology?

So now, anyone who likes to ask me, "Why, why, why don't you ever pick up your landline?"... Well, now you know. Selfish Bastards: 2; Good Samaritans: -25

Tuesday, June 22, 2004 · posted at 4:14 PM
My desk hates me. I cannot go one work day without ramming an elbow, hitting a leg, or, as the case is today, smashing my knee into my desk. I learned from jury duty that you can file workman's comp for sh** like your own clumsiness. Sign me up.

My desk hates me. Or maybe it's telling me to leave.

Get me out of here.
A heart that’s full up like a landfill,
A job that slowly kills you,
Bruises that won’t heal

You were so tired, happy,
Bring down the government,
They don’t, they don’t speak for her
I’ll take the quiet life, a handshake of carbon monoxide

Sunday, June 20, 2004 · posted at 9:15 PM
Author's Note: This entry best read while listening to Bob Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses.” Just kidding. But seriously, you could probably make maple syrup from this sap.
_______________

He’s a transponster! For Father’s Day in second grade, we wrote essays about our dads and pasted them onto construction paper shirts. I think mine said something like this:
My dad wears a tie to work every morning. Sometimes he wears a vest over his shirt and tie. My dad’s office has a window. He keeps crackers in his desk drawer.
Sadly, some 15 odd years later, I’m not sure I could come up with anything more descriptive.

He’s colorblind. He wrote a dissertation for a Ph.D. in geology. He’s the comedian at work. He can slice the ball when he plays ping pong. He has an incredible memory; he walks into the room, watches three seconds of a tv show and declares that I’ve seen it already (and I have). He says “I lub jew” and “I miiiiiiissed you” when I come home for the weekend. And he can still lift me up and spin me around even though I’m taller than him now.

Friday, June 18, 2004 · posted at 5:10 PM
Lobster for all. One of the most important lessons to learn in life is that just as people come with all different shapes, sizes and quirks... there exist people who like all different shapes, sizes and quirks. There are people who like thin thighs, chunky thighs, freckles, back hair, gold jewelry, Cheetos with milk, steak well done, steak tartar, blonde hair, brown hair, Star Trek, The Swan, going out every night, staying in all the time, toe-tag white complexions, dark tans... the list goes on and on.

With the advent of the internet, it becomes easier to find people who share similar interests. There's a fan site for everything from Beanie Babies to Furries.

So for anyone who bemoans their stubby fingers, eclectic taste in music, or even secret love for Philip Seymour Hoffman, somewhere, even if in the far Arctic corners, there is someone who adores your traits... even the defect that compels one to wear socks and sandals.

Thursday, June 17, 2004 · posted at 10:16 PM
Saved by the bell. My boss asked me today if I planned on taking any Public Health courses next fall. In my head I said, "Hell no, I'm not putting myself through that again." Out loud, and in order to give the impression that I'm taking tangible steps to procuring some kind of future for myself, I replied, "I haven't checked the schedule yet. It depends on the courses offered and what professors are teaching them."

Never BS with your boss. No good can come from it.

At this point my boss whipped out a schedule of classes that she printed from the internet – complete with highlighted courses that she was planning on taking. She suggested that I take one of those classes so we could help each other out.

Can you imagine being study buddies with your boss? It’s not too difficult to fake competency in the work place - tasks are so mundane and there’s always a multitude of people to blame things on. But a classroom setting? I don’t know a Chi-square from an ANOVA and there goes any chance for that annual pay increase.

Now the real test of whether any intelligence remains in this gray matter of mine – how do I get out of this?

help.

· posted at 8:58 PM
Super Size Me. My body must hate me by now. I dragged my beaten and bruised body (courtesy of rock climbing) to the SD County Fair and proceeded to beat and bruise myself from the inside out by gorging on all things deep-fried . Call it Glutton Bowl 2004 and me Takeru Kobayashi.

Carny food is the highlight of county fairs. Beyond blue ribbon roses, live infomercials for products such as the Eggstractor (laziness has reached a new low if need a plastic pump to peel an egg – arthritis and CTS sufferers notwithstanding), and the endless stands of cheap beaded things, knick knacks and other Tchotchke... is the marvel that is fair food.

Carny food comes in two varieties:
  • Grilled/barbequed. This is not only the carnivorous options of ribs, chicken and turkey legs the length of my arm, but also grilled corn, artichoke hearts and garlic mushrooms.

  • Deep-fried. This is your anything and everything else category including but not limited to, Australian battered potatoes, cheese-on-a-stick, fried zucchini, fish and chips, funnel cakes and, of course, the infamous fried Snickers bar and fried Twinkie (with your choice of powdered sugar, chocolate drizzle or raspberry sauce).

Carny food also comes in two sizes: large and Texas. Large being a mountain of tater chips, and Texas being foot-long corndogs. Drink size is excluded – when they say small, they mean small.

A coworker told me that this year’s fair offered fried cheesecake (false) and fried pickles (also false). I think the misconception stemmed from the fact that these foods were served on sticks (which is usually reserved for foods that are dipped, battered, and given a hot oil bath). So while I couldn’t find a heart-attack-on-a-stick fried cheesecake, I’m sure my chocolate-dipped, Oreo-covered cheesecake came pretty close in measures of calories, sugar, fat, and artery-clogging goodness.

My Childhood Disorders professor from college said that no one ever wakes up 10 pounds heavier, but I’d really like to contest that statement.

Got life insurance? Go to the fair.
_______________

Oh and there’s also game vendors (which are oddly reminiscent of vendors in Mexico – “hey let me show you my game,” “win something for your wife and your girlfriend”), rides, musical performances by the likes of Smashmouth, Lifehouse, and Maroon 5, and a petting zoo with tethered and drugged livestock.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004 · posted at 11:27 PM
To infinity and beyond. May, who introduces me to all things physical activity (see swim), took me to the rock climbing gym yesterday. Alas, this was not my first time rock climbing (I am after all the second place winner of the Women's Rock Climbing Challenge aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise vessel the weekend of May 22nd. My roommate got first and the remaining contender received third), but it was the first time I had any kind of instruction other than "Go!"

Pretty much the first thing you do as a newcomer is sign the waiver. Several pieces of paper stating, in effect, that I would not be able to sue for any damages that may be incurred. Or this is what I believed it to be. It was several pieces of paper, not an interesting read, and the instructor was droning on about his glory days as a rock climber and Cat 2 cyclist. Who knows what I signed. Maybe it said "cat piss"

The helmet waiver. To sign or not to sign. Looking around, there is not a helmet in sight. The question of, "Do I need a helmet?" is answered with a scoff. But I like my brain (even when it doesn't work so good). And they made us wear helmets on the Royal Caribbean, and surely they know what rock climbing is all about! The combination of peer pressure and fear of public humiliation (which, as you read on, happened anyways and thus should not have been a deciding factor) forced the initialing of the box and Vertical Hold (who shockingly doesn't have a website) has now been released of any and all responsibility of any casualty based on my stupidity.

Learning to belay (insert any of a multitude of dirty jokes here). A belayer is the person who stands at the bottom of the mountain (or in this case, wall trying to disguise itself as a rock) and steadies the line of the climber, taking up slack, giving slack, etc. Someone who wears 100 pounds can belay a person who weighs 300 due to the pulley system and physics... or so I’ve been told. F = ma right? I have no clue. I just hope it’s true and cross my fingers anytime anyone goes up - keeping my other fingers on the line at all times, of course.

To secure the line to your harness for a climb, you use a double Figure 8 knot (under, over and through). This was pretty simple (my experience as part of the Boatswain crew as a fourth grader aboard the ship, The Pilgrim, must have primed me for this skill) - up until the time I had to perform it for Ole Glory Days. Choke, choke, choke. And to add insult to injury, Ole Glory Days had to re-teach me to belay using a hand-over-hand method. I think his exact words were, “This is how I taught the knuckleheads in the military how to do it.” Hi, my name is Knucklehead, and you are?

Finally, the climbing. May is a monkey. She’s crazy. She scaled those walls like nobody’s business. And me? Well, my ascent was more along the lines of a three-toed sloth (whose “only real habit is indolence” says Martel).

Most of the climbs were not too bad, especially since I took them cheater-style and used any foothold while May inched me up using the forces of physics. One was labeled “Fun Climb.” Was there anything in that waiver that protected against false advertising? This so-called “Fun Climb” featured what’s called a roof, an overhang that runs parallel to the floor. Real fun. Of course May conquered that wall in a matter of seconds. The trick is to push yourself up from a squatting position and reach for the next hold. “Some people can’t do that. We’re Chinese, we can do that,” May reassured me. This is all at a 90 degree angle to the ground, mind you. Haven’t these people heard of this thing called gravity?

My cries of “I can’t do it" and "Really May, it's too hard” reverberated through Vertical Hold’s walls. Never again will I mock Sarah from Campus Crawl for not completing a mission, nor will I jog with my sister and say "one more lap" when I really intend to make her do five. In a gym full of seasoned climbers, the patrons either 1) found the patheticalness amusing or 2) found my desperate cries annoying and distracting as they attempted to climb underhangs with holds the size of a "nubbin" sans harness.

One of the many things hampering my success is that I tried to put my whole foot on the hold rather than just my toes. Who knew rock climbing was all about pointy toes? And really, when your big toe is just as long, or short rather, as your second toe... there is no point.

When I was eight, I took ballet lessons at the local community center. I did my pliés, knew first position from third position and would go home and do arabesques at the barre (read: doorknob, any doorknob). Then one class, the girl right next to me alongé-d her bright pink fiberglass casted arm right into my face. And I never returned. Ruined my career as a short, stocky ballerina with no coordination, I tell ya. Anyway, one of the advantages of quitting ballet, aside from the obvious avoidance of eating disorder-related problems (see Dying to Dance) was never having to do pointy toes again.

I climb too much with my arms. I have no idea why since clearly my 8-inch pythons garden snakes are not going to do a whole lot for me. The thing is, opposable thumbs I understand... pointy toes and toes that grip? Yeah, not so much. “Trust your feet,” May said. Trust my feet? After years of cramming them into uncomfortable heels with steep inclines? After squeezing my W feet into B width shoes? I can only imagine my feet hate me at this point… and you want me to trust them?

To rock climb, not only do you have to put aside your fear of heights and your belief in gravity, but you have to get rid of any traces of OCD as well.

Yesterday, I crammed my feet (with socks) into rented footgear. Rented footgear. Shoes that someone else had previously worn, possibly for extended periods of time, and sweat in. And not just normal sweat, but foot sweat! I was somewhat grateful when I sprained my finger bowling because that gave me an excuse to never wear rented bowling shoes again (I’m sensing a trend here of the quitter variety). The only way I can rationalize wearing rented shoes is that they spray/disinfect the shoes and air them out – a luxury my own shoes do not have.

In addition, other essential gear includes a harness which has clenched the crotch area of countless people before you.

And let’s not forget about the climbing. What kind of bacteria is living in the rope? And the holds? Your hands and feet all go on the same holds. The only comfort is that the soles of climbing shoes should be fairly clean without much worry for a recent encounter with dog poop or chewing gum. And could bacteria possibly survive at such heights of you know, 3 stories? My freshman year, the administration told us that people on the 4th floor needn’t window screens because bugs don’t fly that high. Tell that to the guy who went into anaphylactic shock from a bee string sustained on the roof top.

All in all, while a fun experience, I was incredibly glad when FM 94.9 stopped blasting from the speakers and indicated that it was closing time and I’d no longer have to keep stretching for that next hold.

I guess I won’t need to fill out that Road Rules application after all.

Friday, June 11, 2004 · posted at 8:01 PM
There's something of the mudslide about you.

You know the most interesting thing about doing something terrible? That after a few days, you can't even remember it.

        - Tom Ripley (John Malkovich), Ripley's Game

Thursday, June 10, 2004 · posted at 12:54 PM
I am a writer. I want to be a published writer.

         - Katherine Applegate, Ocean City

Wednesday, June 09, 2004 · posted at 1:40 PM
Disclaimer: I am not a basketball expert. The last time I played a game of basketball, I was donned in blue and yellow Mustang PE shirt and shorts. From then on out, my ball-handling experience has been limited to a) shooting hoops in my cracked concrete backyard where the hoop is about a toddler’s height short of regulation and b) playing “HORSE” – granny shots NOT allowed. I have never attended a NBA game, college game, and perhaps not even a high school CIF game. I have never seen Mark McGrath not wash his hands at the Staples Center or booed William Hung off the stage at halftime (although, gawd would I like to. I’m also realizing now how thankful I am for the letter “a” that prevents us from sharing the same pinyin name). My fan experience has been limited to jumping up and down and beating on coffee tables. In essence what I’m saying is that I’m probably not qualified to write a piece like this… but really, obviously, it’s never stopped me from shooting off my mouth before.

The ball don’t lie.

Something unusually strange occurred today. No, I'm not talking about the Venus transit or Fred Durst’s act of seduction. No, hell has not frozen over – but brace yourself. I’m about to talk sports. Not only that, but I've been doing it all day. I found myself cornering my supervisor asking, "Why, why, why didn't Larry Brown hack Shaq?" I interrogated the teens coming into the clinic with, "Who are you rooting for?" hoping that they would reply "Lakers" just so I could jump into my tirade. I even crossed that precious line that I draw with my coworkers and actually talked about a topic of my interest that made me impassioned.

Let's talk Game 2. Pistons are up 6 points with 47 seconds to go. 10 seconds left, Pistons up by 3 and Lakers call a time-out. You KNOW Phil Jackson is planning a play involving Kobe Bryant and a 3-pointer. I KNOW Phil Jackson is planning a play involving Bryant and a 3-pointer... and I don't even know baseball basketball!

Okay Larry - I know you're in a tough spot. If you foul, the media will call your play dishonorable, you risk a basket plus sending a shooter to the line and going into overtime, or you risk a 4-pt play that ends the game. If you don’t foul, the media will attack you for that and you risk Bryant getting the ball and bringing it to overtime. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. But this is Game 2 of the Playoffs! You're up 1 game and no team has ever won the Playoffs after losing two at home. What are you doing?? Apparently letting Bryant make the 3-pointer. Oh and 2.1 seconds left on the clock and THAT's the play you want to close out the 4th quarter with? I've seen the alley-oops and the screens you've executed following time-outs... You make magic happen after time-outs!

I can't write about the game anymore, I've got Morgan Spurlock’s mid-documentary blood pressure right now. Long story short, Lakers in overtime and back to Detroit.

Sure you could blame Ben Wallace for the stupid foul on Shaq that resulted in the “and one” or any of the Pistons for not making one more free throw during the game or some basketball deity that graced O’Neal with a 50+ free throw percentage... I blame Larry Brown.

The coach is the man behind the players, instructing them, and guiding them. In that final 10 seconds, forget the preceding 47 minutes, forget the could-have, should-have ... that is all you LB. From his point of view, I can understand that he knows his Pistons are extremely capable of triumphing over the Lakers and he wants to prove it. Had he fouled, it would be have been a victory, but the media would probably declare it the easy way out, a passive victory (despite the previous 47 minutes) rather than a smart play. Plus had the Pistons gone up 2-0, the media would spout even more trash not touting the Pistons’ talent and ability, but the Lakers’ lack of effort and failure to “show up.”

Which brings me to an issue more frustrating than the Game 2 loss – the media coverage of the Playoffs (and by media I mean newspaper writers, ESPN columnists, sportscasters, etc. – Lakers fans should be included as well because they talk and regurgitate so much trash. It’s un-Belize-able). The majority of these people are pro-Lakers and they’re not even attempting to give an unbiased account or commentary of the Playoffs.

I've seen the book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News and I’m sure they intend it more to uncover the bias in world stories and politics, but it’s clearly evident in the sports sector as well.

The footage. Why am I seeing Phil Jackson’s face reacting to a play rather than seeing the slow-mo of a play with a questionable call? Why am I seeing Meg Ryan’s face in the crowd rather than a replay of a Wallace block? How come when we cut to commercial break, they play a montage the Lakers’ greatest plays of the night... even when they’re down two digits?

The information. There is a blatant misuse of statistics in sports and seemingly irrelevant facts disguised as deciding factors (mind that this is all from my interpretation as a basketball sub-novice):

I’ve heard comparisons about Lakers top scorers versus Pistons top scorers. Bryant and O’Neal may have higher average points per game, but they pretty much comprise all of the Lakers offense. Whereas on the Pistons you have Billups and Hamilton in that range plus addition offensive threats Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince. I saw Big Ben Wallace score 18 points in a playoff game – don’t tell me that the Pistons have no offense.

Commentators will mention that this is the Pistons’ third lead in the game and play it down and not mention that Pistons have been leading for like 25 of the 30 minutes played – which I think is more important in this circumstance.

I’ve heard about the players on the Lakers having much more combined NBA Finals experience than the Pistons, but what if that experience is sitting on the bench, on another team, or even on the same team but with different players? What if that experience is running pick and rolls with someone who’s out with an injury? Does it matter?

Following Game 2, amazingly one of the newscasters was praising Rasheed’s work on Malone and how it was working and an easy couple baskets – then he says, “It was working – why’d you stop?!” Because he was double-teamed, fool, and you forget to mention that when he was double-teamed he passed to Prince (I think) for a shot... which he made!

The word choice. Phil Jackson said it. Kobe Bryant said it. Shaquille O’Neal said it. Pistons play a good game of ball. Yet all these sportscasters and columnists talk as though it’s not that the Pistons are good – it’s that the Lakers are bad, they’re not trying, they’re not getting the right calls, they’re injured. I even heard a Lakers fan (one who shares my blood, at that) who said that the Lakers were “teasing” the Pistons by “allowing” that win. Are you nuts? Many said the Lakers would sweep, it’d be over in four. Two players came to the Lakers in search of that elusive championship ring – and you’re going to tell me that the Lakers are just “messing around?” Yes, it’s blatantly obvious that Gary Payton, with his pay cut and five fouls in Game 1 was not trying. If I listened to only post-game commentary, it would sound as though the Lakers dominated the whole game. I even heard the phrase “no contest.” No contest? Right, the game went into overtime clearly because it was such an obvious victory for the Lakers. Above all else, I must have heard the words “give” and “stole” hundreds of times in the past few days. Pistons “stole” the victory. Lakers “gave” away Game 1. As though the win is something the Lakers had, something that’s expected, not something they must earn... As though a team can have the victory in their hand and make a conscious decision to hand it over...

Actually I take it back. You can possess a game and hand it over, because in the case of yesterday’s game...Larry Brown, you just gave it away.
_______________

Okay so they say (or rather my 4th grade teacher who made us study old adages such as "Do unto other as you would have them do unto you," "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," and "Practice your cursive or you'll be visiting Principal Paddle") that "Every cloud has a silver lining." What are the silver linings from Game 2?

No team has ever lost two at home and gone on to win the Series. So should the Lakers have lost, yet managed to win the Series, they’d be record breaking... and we don’t want any of that.

Pistons definitively proved a point. While the media still rages with words like “where are the Lakers?” there seems to be a slow movement on the part of the media to retract their words and the bookies have been quick to adjust their odds. The fact that Tuesday’s victory was so hard fought by the Lakers show that the Lakers are giving their all and that the teams are much more matched than some had expected.
_______________

Ugly basketball. There’s been much talk about how when a game is low-scoring, it’s “ugly basketball.” Personally, I like when a game is low-scoring, when every basket counts for so much more, when the first team to 70 is the winner, when shots aren’t going in because it’s a forced shot with 2 seconds on the shot clock, and when shots aren’t going in because the shooter is tired after chasing around a player who rubs a sub 6-minute mile. If the teams just ran up and down without hard defense, it wouldn’t be a game, it’d be a drill or practice.

Beautiful is the sound of a bricked shot from an exhausted player at the free throw. Beautiful is Ben Wallace missing a shot, yet able to traverse the court in time to swat away the opposing team’s shot attempt. Beautiful is Tayshaun Prince blocking Reggie Miller’s game-tying lay-up and winding up in the 7th row of the audience.

Go Pistons. Bring on Darko.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004 · posted at 7:57 AM
Swiss cheesed. I feel myself getting dumber. Eloquent huh? My inability to make that sentence... sound pretty... is only further evidence of my declining intelligence.

I've found myself giving the wrong change to the cashier, mispronouncing words, spacing on words, and memory loss in the areas of key terms, important vocabulary, old Tinseltown actors, and historical events (the Magna Carta!).

I've increasingly found it difficult to express myself - both verbally and in the written form. I search my brain for the right words, hell I search thesaurus.com for the right word and it still doesn't come to me. Once feared for my quick wit (if only by one person), I now push the time limit of the 5-second comeback rule (with my comebacks faltering to the "I'm rubber, you're glue!" variety).

Sometimes I don’t even make sense with my words. For now, I can blame this on the 6 o'clock hour, but what of tomorrow, and every day beyond that?

What the hell happened?

In looking for possible causations, I have come across two correlations, and in accordance with Grand Answer #2 (or is it #1... there's that impeccable memory again), it's most likely a combination of both.

Discontinued education.
Who would have thought - school helps you learn. Since graduating from college, the inundation of knowledge has slowed to a trickle and only in the areas of parenting, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (which from my personal anecdotal experience very well may be contagious), and leadership/personality styles. Suppose diffusion or suppose we only learn a small percentage of the material we are exposed to. My knowledge intake is now just a miniscule fraction of what it was during college. Sure I may have read, memorized and regurgitated (short term memory at its finest), but some of it actually stuck! And college actually allowed you to pick courses/topics you were interested in, thus increasing the motivation to learn. I’ve wavered on my opinion of school – I love school, I hate school, why did I leave school, I’m never going back to school... But really, when you’re stuck in the cul-de-sac of jobs, writing papers and cramming for midterms looks more and more like a welcome substitution.

The dreaded nine to five. A multi-faceted problem due to the following factors:
  1. Repetitious work with no room to grow or expand in fields other than the one directly related to the project at hand.


  2. The conventional schedule killing any iota of creativity left. Chained to a desk, all potentially profound thoughts are inhibited. And apparently if you do have some great idea at work, it’s company property. Way to encourage thinking!


  3. Self-inflicted solitude. Conversations with co-workers are on an as-needed basis and as succinct as possible. There will be no cooing over baby pictures, no in-depth discussion of any kind of surgery with the word “removal” in it, no talk about grooming practices. “Sit down, shut up and get out” is the pervasive motto of each day.


  4. Lack of outside stimulus. My insta-reply email buddy is no longer available at whim to discuss Hegel’s dialectics, poverty as the driving force for all societal injustices, or more importantly, snap judgments on Nick Cage’s 19-year old fiancé. A crackdown on poor work ethics and fear of an e-mail/internet cop has hindered recent efforts to communicate.
Is stupidity a chronic problem? Reversible? Is reading every tome written by Fyodor Dostoevsky the answer? Or is this merely the inevitable - that one’s intellectual zenith is achieved in college and it’s all moronic from here on out? Is IQ destined to keep slip-sliding away? Or is this just the revealing of my own true level of intelligence, or lack there of. Help.

Me lose brain? Uh-oh. Hahaha. Why I laugh?

· posted at 2:09 AM
Ears closed shut.

I found the most heinous misspelling of the word "sporadic": sparatic. Fortunately, this guy redeems himself with a Creed-bashing entry (even if he does spell "monkeys" as "monkies"):
And the nation was saddened today by a great loss of former president ronald regan, who was 93. But out of such sorrow, something happened to make the Nation, and possibly the world rejoice, and shed tears of joy. That's right, the band Creed, has broken up.

Nick Woomer of The Michigan Daily asks:
Tell me Stappy, what are you soooo depressed about? What are the children supposed to be flying away from? Communists? Gay people? Your crazy Tammy-Faye Baker-wannabe mom? Jgermeister? (On the Creed "Behind the Music," drummer Scott Phillips described one of the band"s darkest phases as when they"d do a couple of shots of Jger before every show).

I wonder how many hits Google would find using the key words "Yay," "Creed," and "disbanded".

See also Karen's anti-Creed entry. Karen says that they have sold 24 million albums. How?! Here is a band that has a clearly faith-based name and songs with religious themes - yet I'm not even sure the Christians want him. They'll take R.J. Helton, out and proud (I think), but won't touch Creed with a 10-foot cross. The only explanation I can come up with is that 1) these are the same people who endorsed Spice Girls circa mid 1990's - you can't find them, but there's evidence of their existence, 2) they used the American Idol vote-counters or Florida chads to record album sales, 3) there are rich clueless parents out there buying sucky cds as party favors for their teenagers, or 4) there's some rip in the space-time continuum and we're experiencing one aspect of an alternate universe where bad is good and Adam Brody (Orlando you've been replaced!) lusts after pear-shaped Asian girls with a propensity to rant.

Dictionary.com defines creed as:
1. A formal statement of religious belief; a confession of faith.
2. A system of belief, principles, or opinions: laws banning discrimination on the basis of race or creed; an architectural creed that demanded simple lines.

Scene from My So-Called Life #13, "Pressure"
Angela : So, y - you and Kyle broke up? I mean, was there like, a reason?
Sharon : I guess -- I'd have to say -- it was my beliefs. I didn't feel -- like I should -- give up my beliefs. Even, even for Kyle.
Angela : [voiceover] So Sharon had beliefs. Sharon had decided to stay a virgin.
Angela : So how do you, like -- I mean, you just -- *told* him that you didn't -- wanna -- you know, like -- have, have, um, sex with him, no matter how much he was like expecting it?
Sharon : Oh, no. Oh, no, no. We -- we had sex. I'm saying I had a belief that he was being a butthead, which was true.

We all have our beliefs... mine being that the world is better off Creed-less. Rest easy tonight - ears everywhere will be safe, at least momentarily, from the mutilation that is Scott Stapp's gravelly voice and pretentious lyrics.
_______________
This started off as a very, very short post. I had planned to just put the two links to www.ralphin.blogspot.com and Karen, but that really just opened up the floodgates... And there's still so much more to say on this topic, but I'll let the other 239,000+ sites go off about it - Creed doesn't deserve any more of my attention.

Saturday, June 05, 2004 · posted at 5:16 PM
Prozac nation. Garden State, Zach Braff's Reality Bites for the late twenty-something crowd, about a guy who has recently stopped taking his antidepressants and returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral is playing at the LA Film Festival in two weeks. Tickets are $100 - I thought that was a typo.

Oh yeah, and for you guys (or guy, as my audience would have it) the movie also co-stars Natalie Portman. So really, there is no reason not to watch it and I expect all of you (yes, each and every one of the four) to be standing in line with me at the theater come July 30th.
_______________
Ted: Carson taste this cheese. It was made by nuns.
Carson: Nuns? Well, praise Cheesus!
       - Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Friday, June 04, 2004 · posted at 3:20 PM
Clairvoyant. There is this woman at my work... She is, to my knowledge, single in her 40's, lives alone, and works late, late nights. She has a loud, abrasive voice and is social on cue (the rest of the time she wears a frown or blank expression). And I keep running into her around San Diego - the mall, Target, and IKEA. Is this a glimpse into my future? In years to come, will I be sitting at my desk at 8 o'clock at night, diligently signing work papers with my Tiffany's pen (a gift to employees of 5+ years)? Roaming around looking at Strib Bred rugs in order to kill time so that I can go home and go straight to bed in order to start the whole cycle over the next morning? What a dismal image... Shall I start amassing the cats as we speak?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004 · posted at 6:25 PM
Kudos, it’s not just a snack food.

The word kudos means praise and is derived from a Greek word for "glory."

Kudos is also the second most used phrase in e-mails at my work (the first being, "If it’s at all possible" which is basically a euphemism for "f***ing do this")

Everyone at my work is huge on positive reinforcement. "Christina, great job! I really like how you made those copies so quickly!" "Christina, you made that envelope perfectly - not a typo in sight!" "Christina, good work in that meeting today, the coffee cart had cream, soy milk, and Stevia for those pesky carb counters - excellent!" I’ve even been commissioned to write behavior modification programs for parents – now who in the hell decided that I would be qualified to dole out parenting advice?

According to Barbara Braunstein's "Dealing with Different, Diverse (and Difficult) People," Generation X-ers (people born between 1965 and 1976) like feedback and appreciation because they grew up receiving lots of praise (e.g. "My child is an honor student at John F. Kennedy School"). This may explain everyone’s proclivity to give kudos, a slap on the back, three cheers, and the like.

As for me, the greedy, irresponsible, unprofessional Gen Y-er (according to Braunstein, though she may not be too off target), ignore me, think me a wallflower, forget that I work there - every acknowledgement cuts me deep and reminds me that I wish I were somewhere else.
_______________

If I sound like an ingrate, it’s probably because I am. In reality, I have the best boss in the world, can wear jeans to the office, and get paid more than your average burger slinger (although the better than average burger slinger is another story). What can I say? I grew up watching Disney princesses lamenting about their stations in life.

But who cares?
No big deal.
I want more

_______________
More generational differences. Braunstein says:
The RADIO-AGERS (born before 1946) was a generation that struggled due to the great Great Depression. No one thought you were supposed to like your job.

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