Friday, December 29, 2006

Python Plush!

OK, how much do I PINE to own this utterly worthless (but hi-LAR-ious) stuff...?!?!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Martha Stewart Meltdown

So Christmas is finally done... relatively speaking. From the day after Thanksgiving, I have been in an unconscious race to Achieve Holiday Social Perfection, and had almost accomplished it, until I collapsed on Christmas Eve.

I can't even begin to ennumerate all the stuff I did in the last month... but you know I'm gonna try!

  • writing, designing, printing, addressing, and mailing over 100 Christmas cards
  • celebrating my 38th birthday several times (I'm grateful, really!)
  • getting all the presents for family and friends
  • social events or rehearsals every night
  • MULTIPLE church choir & music performances
  • party food preparation
  • more church music
  • more social events
Not to forget, I also started a short-term project for my brother Cy's company, so I took on more work while maintaining my regular clients. I think I worked every Saturday in December!

So, Christmas Eve arrives; I get up at 6 am to sing at both services, and after my favorite Sunday lunch over Entertainment Weekly at the Logan's bar with my friend Pam the bartender, I head home for a nice nap, before baking cookies for the family buffet the next day, a potluck around 6 pm with my Sunday Supper Club at the Landers', and another performance with the Choir at the 10 pm service that night. I am congratulating myself on the drive home for having arrived at the big day without any emotional angst, and for having accomplished all my Holiday goals. I should mention, I am not aware of ever having made any conscious decision to do all this... it just sortof happened.

I sleep for an hour or so, awake exhausted, and promptly dissolve into a panic attack. After crying off and on for a half-hour, I feel somewhat better, but still overwhelmed by what I have left to accomplish. I call to excuse myself from the potluck with friends, which I hated doing but was absolutely necessary to regain sanity. I bake no cookies. I lie, squashed, on the sofa and watch The Return of the King, and pretend that I won't do the 10 pm service, despite the fact that I know I will have to go, since we are short on altos, and there's a special Canticorum piece to be done which I am really necessary for.

By the time I leave for a run-through at 9 pm, I'm able to function, but find myself petulant, whiny, and ill-inclined to have any reverence for the significance of the service whatsoever. It turns out that I am even more necessary than I thought, since 2 of the 4 Canticorum altos are absent and I must immediately learn the 1st alto part. I do not completely manage to do so, but the illusion is maintained.

I am also pressed into service to be one of the 3 miked singers for the service music, which I actually enjoy since it was with my friend Rebecca who is a marvelous soprano. Singing with her always feels like a reward for good behavior. Not that my behavior this evening will be good...

I get through the 3 hours of run-through and service, although at one point I seem to recollect that during the full choir & congregation Carol Singing, I sang the words "Thi-is is, the song, tha-at ne-ver will end..." during "The First Nowell" (It felt like there were a dozen verses! Honestly!) I am also a little punchy on the mikes, and I believe I threatened David before we sang the Lord's Prayer, saying that I OWNED the harmonies on this song, so he'd better not sing what I was singing.

We finish up at full blast, and I go home in punch-drunk euphoria, and sleep for 9 hours. On Christmas Day, I am able to resume all of my baking responsibilities and manage to make everything I had planned for the family Christmas that night. Orange Spice Shortbread with Orange Glaze and Almonds, Tuxedo Cheesecake Bars, and Raspberry Popcorn Balls for the kids.

So it's pretty much all done... and I am in emotional flux since I haven't taken 5 minutes to deal with the fact that it's the end of another year, which always shakes me up a bit (Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Have I accomplished anything worthwhile this year? Am I supposed to go help refugees in the Sudan?) Plus my allergies are acting up, and I ate enough sweets and junk this month to send me into a diabetic coma.

Have I mentioned that I'm going to Chicago most of next week to work for the AEA during their yearly conference? No?

I need a vacation.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Something to cheer you up...

Just came across this again; it's a bit outdated, but the dull ones make the funny ones, funnier.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on "THIS" side of the road before it goes after the problem on the "OTHER SIDE" of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his "CURRENT" problems before adding "NEW" problems.

OPRAH: Well I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER/CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am for it now, and will remain against it.

JUDGE JUDY: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.

DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side". Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side." That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that!

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together - in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2006, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken. The platform is much more stable and will never cra..#?&&^ (C\..... reboot.)

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Travesty of Justice

This upsets me so much I can barely breathe...

There is a very unjust situation going on right now involving my friends Dane and Maggie Anthony – Eric, Maggie's son (Dane's stepson), is currently jailed in Nicaragua on murder charges - the victim was Eric's ex-girlfriend. 2 other suspects confessed to the crime, but were released, and Eric wasn't even in town when it happened, and had 10 witnesses vouch for his whereabouts when the crime occurred... but he is still being held. In addition, lynch mobs have been whipped up in the area, and several times Eric has been deliberately put in danger from the mobs. This is obviously a deliberate attempt to frame him... please pray HARD for his safety and that justice will be done!

You can find more information here:

It's baaaaaaack!

Can you believe it? Another skunk bomb went off early this morning! I woke up at 5:30 and went "Again...?!?!"

Fortunately, I had remembered a wonderful odor-removing candle someone had given me last Christmas. The thing really does work - within 2 hours, the smell was completely gone!

I really don't know what to do about this - I'm scared to investigate, since I might actually come across a skunk and scare them into spraying me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Not To Be Found Anywhere!

OK, I have a challenge. Like the cookbook one.

I am trying to find a poster of a watercolor "preliminary sketch" from an Japanese anime movie, Tonari no Totoro, or, "My Neighbor Totoro," by Haayo Miyazaki. I actually own a copy of it - I bought it almost 18 years ago when I was in Japan. But I'd like to get a couple of copies of it for friends.

Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print. I have looked EVERYWHERE on the internet with no luck. There's a ton of stuff from the movie available, like stuffed animals, screen shot posters, etc. But this specific poster? Nowhere to be found!

It's a prized posession of mine, and really lovely - an early, sketchy watercolor of the smallest girl, Mei, with the 2 smaller Totoro critters in pale greens and golds. With the flood of items available from the movie, I'm amazed that this one has disappeared from circulation!


So it's been rawther warmish in Nashville for the last week or so; it'll be hitting 70 for a few days to come. Quite obscene for December, don't you think? So last night I switched back on the AC.

Anyway, around 4 am, I awoke to a putrid odor... apparently a skunk had let one off in the area. This is not unusual; I live on a heavily wooded hilltop, and it's fairly common to get out of your car at the mailboxes and almost pass out from the stink. You see (and smell) them as smears on the road all over Williamson County.

But this was the first time I had smelt one in my apartment. I don't know how it had gotten into the AC, but it was pretty strong. I lit a scented candle in my room and eventually went back to sleep. But when I woke up, it was still stinky - stupid candle was useless. Eventually I got used to the smell, and didn't even notice it anymore; perhaps your sense of smell shuts itself down as a protective measure.

When I left this morning, there was no smell in the area... apparently it was just my apartment! I dread going home... there's no good air circulation since the windows are crappy.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Rules of Regifting

Look, we need to accept the fact that Re-Gifting is an accepted part of modern society. Whether anyone admits it or not, we almost all do it. And really, I think it's a good thing, and not at all hurtful or inconsiderate when done carefully... but there are some guidelines to follow.

First I want to justify WHY regifting is a good idea:

  1. It gets rid of STUFF. If you have a cabinet or closet full of items that have no useful place in your home, they can be made useful by giving them to someone who CAN use them. We live in a society that has more unnecessary junk than any time in history... Regifting is Recycling in its highest form.
  2. It saves money. If you need to buy a $10-20 gift for someone, don't have a good idea of what to give them, and there's a lovely tchotchke in your closet that you know they would like, where's the virtue in going and spending money on a (presumably) FRESH tchotchke to give them?
  3. For CLOSE friends and family who get upset when you spend money on a present for them, regifting becomes a sort of fun cadeau challenge - finding something truly appropriate for someone, yet letting them know it was inexpensive or a freebie so they won't get upset that you spent money. Regifting works well in this context.

Now that's I've cleverly persuaded you of the validity of regifting, here are some rules to follow, since there is risk involved:

  1. If you don't remember where a gift came from, then be VERY CAREFUL where you regift it. Nothing is ruder or more appalling than giving it to the original Giver, or someone who was around when you initially received it. This should be obvious!
  2. Personalized gifts are ineligible for regifting - books with notes written on the endpapers, notecards with your name embossed, monogrammed stuff.
  3. Rewrap the item, or re-giftbag it. Overly-crumpled tissue paper is a dead giveaway that this gift has been "around the block." I used to get regifted items all the time from a co-worker, and they were perfectly nice... but for some of them, it was pretty obvious that they'd been sitting in reserve for a while!
  4. Be particularly watchful for pricetags and aged price stickers - if the pricetag has been on the bottom of an item for so long that the glue has started to deteriorate, or it was poorly removed and the remaining glue has gotten grimy, it's a good giveaway that the item's been in rotation.
  5. If you suspect that a gift you have received has been regifted more than once, it needs to stop with you. Gifts that are continually passed on begin to acquire an Aura of Failure. It needs to be taken out of the rotation, lest it arrive back in the hands of the intial giver by mistake! Give it to Goodwill or AmVets. Stop the cycle.

Recommended regifting ideas:

  1. Candles. Always useful, neutral, safe
  2. Picture Frames. Ditto
  3. Certain books - duplicates of books already on your shelves in particular, or ones that are humorous or seasonal.
  4. Christmas ornaments.
  5. Scented soaps, fancy lotions, "gourmet" toiletries.
  6. Gourmet foods, such as biscotti, olive oil, fancy coffee, European jams & jellies.
  7. Blank books and journals.
  8. Anything from the HomeGoods section of TJ Maxx.

Gifts to avoid regifting:

  1. Mugs. These need to be taken out of the gift-giving business alltogether. They are acceptible in rare occasions when filled with, say, diamonds. Or Krugerrands.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Beautiful little bit of computer comedy!

Christmas 2006

I know, I know - not any real journal entries here of late. Bin busy. And if I have a quickie idea, I put it on my blog. But here's my 2006 Christmas Card, complete with adorable niece picture (Emma) and Way Too Much Information About Me. Enjoy. If possible.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

All I Want For Christmas...

... is for Bobby Kennedy not to have died in 1968, the (tragic) year of my birth. I want him to have beaten Nixon, and therefore Watergate and everything it stands for wouldn't even exist.

... is for government officials to start being bluntly honest about EVERYTHING. No prevaricating, no spinning, just the facts.

... is for a Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. to arise in the Middle East, and change the way they think about the world. Because nothing else will ever work.

... is to get a full-time job that has good benefits, enjoyable work, and variety.

... is to win just enough money in some lottery or windfall to pay my debts, student loans, family loans, and $5-10K for downpayment on an affordable, safe condo. And enough to pay off my car loan so I can chuck the damn thing for a Civic.

... is to find out what I'm supposed to be doing with my life.

Believe me, I'm going to be adding to this list.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Deliberate Tackiness

A friend of mine was talking at dinner Monday night about how she needed to find the tackiest, most awful Christmas sweatshirt or sweater for a Christmas party contest... granted, SHE was the hostess, and contest was her idea, but her competitive nature was such that she really wanted to win the prize she had bought as an award!

Well, I immediately got inspired. There's just SOOOO much you can do with the massive quantities of stuff available to decorate with in December... Jo-Ann's Etc. Craft Store is just lousy with junk! So I begged to be allowed to make her a new sweatshirt, and she said "I'll pay anything. Cost is no object," or words to that effect.

I started with a mustard-green, long-sleeve t-shirt... I was afraid with the quantities of stuff I was thinking of tacking onto it, that it would get really hot. I was almost paralyzed by the sheer volume of choices available to me, but finally decided on using those cheap red velvet bows you put on wreaths as the primary decoration. My "theme", if you will.

I started by hot-gluing small bows on each sleeve.

I had also purchased a bunch of the most appalling glittery Christmas picks - you know, the little cluster decorations you spike into centerpieces and wreaths. But upon closer examination, they were too bulky and difficult to attach to the t-shirt, so I eventually returned them. But in the meantime, I wanted to get some more work done on the shirt until I could get more junk, so I started stamping gold paint snowflakes on the front, and putting dots of puffy glitter-paint on the edges.

I discovered to my dismay that this was actually quite pretty. It's a lot harder than you might think to achieve deliberate ugliness; my natural instinct on a craft project like this would be "what would look pretty?" I had obviously had a little too much rum & diet Coke which had impaired my judgment, and had fallen back into Pretty mode.

I let the paint dry overnight, and went back to Jo-Ann's (which, BTW, is ALREADY selling Christmas decorations at 50% off. And is beginning to shift them back from the front of the store to sale racks. And there is a shelf or two of VALENTINE'S DAY stuff. Sheesh.) and bought some more junk.

I sewed a band of tinsel garland around the neck, which did a lot to dilute the effect of the pretty gold snowflakes.

I then sewed on three large, thick red felt snowflakes under that, and glued two big puffy red bows on top of each shoulder. I swirled some of the puffy glitter paint in red and gold around each wristband.

I had some jingle bells that I had intended to sew onto the sleeves between each bow, but ran out of time.

The crowning accessory to the ensemble was the addition of a HUGE red velvet bow. I had initially intended that it should be on the front of the shirt, but the thing was so enormous and heavy that the shirt would have sagged badly. So I took the ribbon along and told her to wear it around her waist attached to a belt, so the bow would sit like a bustle in the back.

I also took 2 garish silk poinsettias and sewed them to barrettes. You know, for her hair! And I took along 2 little white birds on clips, and told her to attach them on the big-ass bow.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Gen-X Christmas Letter

Christmas, 2006
Dear Friends and Family,

It's been a busy year for the gang, and we're so proud of each and every one of our accomplishments in the last 12 months... so let's just dive right into all the good news!

You'll recognize Lola in her trademark feather boa... as she finishes the final year of her doctorate at Vanderbilt in Medieval Philosophy, she is contemplating not one, but SEVEN teaching offers at various institutions from Sydney to Mozambique to Seattle. We're hoping she takes the one in Paris so she can finally marry her current amour, the fabulously wealthy divorcee with the famous parfum line!

Armundo is happily re-ensconced in his hometown of Lisbon, but we were all sorry to see him go... after so many years in Nashville setting up various bank security systems, he finally decided that it was time to go back home and accept his responsibility of running the family llama business. He has promised many shipments of top-quality alpaca to Susan in return for scarves, blankets, and other crocheted tchotchkes.

And Pam? Well, Pam is still our little ray of sunshine! After the huge success of her first book,
The World is a Beautiful Place and Everyone Just Needs to Shut Up and Enjoy It, a whirlwind book signing tour of the US and Canada has left her quite fatigued but exhilarated. Plans are already underway for similar promotional tours in England, Ireland, Dubai and New Zealand. And her next book? Silly! I'm not allowed to say a word about it!

As for myself, the simple comforts of home are still my greatest joy. Strolling through the halls of my enormous rustic farmhouse in Leiper's Fork, the staff barely have to make an effort to scurry out of my sight, since it was built with many cleverly concealed alcoves to duck into. So I still have the illusion of privacy! Nicole and Keith Urban are always popping by on their way to Bread & Co. in Green Hills; I do keep telling them that the Starbucks in Cool Springs has better coffee, but they just laugh and say they enjoy the drive! So silly.

Back to Reality

My House Calls Computer Service business has grown steadily in the last year, and although every month is its own little Adventure, called "Will Susan Make The Rent?" I feel like I'm making progress. I'm still working part-time at the American Economic Association on the Vanderbilt University campus. My AEA bosses have been amazingly flexible with my schedule, which I'm very grateful for, and I quite enjoy my time there. I have some more website design clients now as well, so I feel like my work is full of my favorite word - VARIETY. I think I've doubled my computer knowledge in the last 12 months!

The nieces and nephews of many a previous Christmas letter are growing steadily - Elliott the oldest has become a teenager this year (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!) and the rest are becoming more and more mature and interesting every month. My Knoxville Nieces Taylor, Maddie & Ginny (Woggy) are no longer terrified of me, which is a definite improvement and I only wish they were here in Nashville so I could see them every week too. I babysit my local babies El, George & Henry and Emma almost every Saturday which is one of the highlights of my week, despite the fact that I feel like I'm constantly saying "No, you can't," the entire night. As you can imagine, I am a continual disappointment to them. (No more dessert pizza for you!)

This has been the Year of The Accursed Car, which has been more than a little frustrating. I found that red cars are indeed a BAD IDEA for 2 main reasons:
1) They are statistically more likely to be pulled over for speeding, and
2) They are statistically more likely to be in accidents. (Really! the guy at the body shop confirmed it!)
Granted, when I was in my little white Civic, I did have to replace the front hood three times from my apparent invisibility to 2 large trucks backing up and a careless deer, but three different incidents in one year (both sides and rear bumper)? That's a red car for you. Of course, I also attribute my problems to the fact that it is a Toyota Corolla and not a Honda as I would wish. From the minute my roof got dented & dinged by ACORNS while on my first vacation after purchasing it, I have been ill-disposed towards my car. So, useful lesson from this? Avoid red vehicles.

Susan's Picks for 2006

TV: Doctor Who, Heroes and Eureka. Let your geek flag fly! Three series that would be classified as Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but transcend the genre. The top of the heap? Doctor Who, definitely. Writing, acting, plot, you name it, I love it. The Brits really do know how to make a TV show, especially because they make fewer, and spend more time and money on what they do make. I can't recommend this (newly established in 2005) series highly enough.
Movies: Casino Royale. I used to read the original Ian Fleming novels when I was younger, and this really feels like the books. Not that I didn't enjoy the ones they've made over the last 30 years, but those were silly, fun fluff. Daniel Craig as James Bond is layered, compelling, and BETTER THAN SEAN CONNERY. I mean it.
Books: Dead Bunnies by Bryan Currie. A new Christian writer in the vein of Anne Lamott and Donald Miller, he tells really funny, personal anecdotes and envisions the world and events as part of an amazing Big Picture. Plus, his relatives live in Batesville, AR too!
Music: Songs from the Labyrinth by Sting. The fact that he would spend his fan capital on a collection of renaissance songs by John Dowland is something to be applauded. I really enjoy this kind of music ever since I got to sing madrigals in high school (I like popular songs that you can sing along with; I don't care as much for music that nobody but professionals can perform). Not everyone will like it, and it may be considered a vanity project, but it's definitely worth listening to a few times (not just once; it gets better with repetition).

As I write this on the verge of a very busy month, I hope that all of you, my friends and family, have a wonderful, meaningful Christmas holiday. The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you – Amen!



Saturday, November 25, 2006

Getting It All Done

Why, whywhywhywhy, is life so unevenly distributed? Why must I endure 2.5 months of inactivity, only to be "rewarded" afterwards by unending overload? The number of activities and jobs I'm juggling at present is, of course, a blessing, but I don't feel very blessed. I just feel overwhelmed.

A list, for your perusal:
  1. I turn 38 on Dec. 3rd. No pressure there!
  2. My car continues to be a burden to me. Whilst on my long drive over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house, the damn engine light went back on. I thought I'd gotten that fixed less than a month ago! So, looks like the catalytic converter may need replacing (as initially suspected) which means a few hundred. Again.
  3. Then, the body work disaster continues. They didn't have it ready for me by the vaguely agreed-upon time last Tuesday, so I took it out before the final detailing... which it needs badly, so I'll be returning it. Plus, one of the back door locks is loose so they need to take the whole damn door apart again to fix it.
  4. Both of these car issues will, of course, necessitate leaving it for an extended period in 2 different shops. Do I have the resources for dealing with these transport snafus? No, I do not.
  5. Next week I have to do the monthly website, which is apparently a third larger than usual, and needs must be done by Thursday evening.
  6. But I am also wanted for a new part-time job for the month of December that is 20+ hours a week. I want this job, really I do - I need the money badly - but now my schedule is filled without any room for my:
  7. Regular Clients. I have 4 who want my help next week, and I honestly don't know how I'll fit them in with my currently full schedule.
  8. And finally, I am out of money. 2.5 months of reduced work means reduced income, and I have rent and health insurance due in the next 10 days... and there is NO cash coming in during that time except for dribs and drabs from the at-home clients I manage to fit in. I need a minimum of $1000 to appear miraculously in the next week.

I just feel overwhelmed. This is one of the 5% times when I need a spouse to take on some of the burdens! Cause my family? They've given enough, I can't call on them again. Plus the humilation of having to ask for help again is just too much at present, because it will inevitably produce a lecture (an entirely justified lecture, at that) on how I should either a) be saving more for such emergencies, b) get a real full-time job for security, or c) not be so emotionally battered by such slings and arrows.

Needless to say, the lectures don't help. They just make me feel like more of a failure. Which I suppose I am, even though none of them would ever use that word.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Why Won't They Leave Us Alone?!

A friend sent me this article from Wired magazine and I recommend everyone read it – we need to know what's out there, and what malicious developers are capable of.

Attack of the Bots
"The latest threat to the Net: autonomous software programs that combine forces to perpetrate mayhem, fraud, and espionage on a global scale. How one company fought the new Internet mafia – and lost."

The question I have is, if it's so insidious and almost un-winnable a battle, what are our options? The thing I used to say to frustrated users was "get a Mac." It's still the most immune machine out there at present!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


My friends Ken & Lisa had their first baby a couple of months back, and Lisa is exCEEDingly fond of Peanuts. When this idea occurred to me, I knew I had to carry it out.

It was harder than it looked; finding a tiny yellow t-shirt for a newborn that looked like the ones worn by Charlie Brown was difficult and I ended up buying it online. Then the zig-zags... I used a twill tape that had to be carefully folded into points, then tacked down (fusible tape) then appliqued on... it took over three hours and I had to start over a couple of times.

But the result was DEFINITELY worth it!

Friday, October 27, 2006



I'm involved with a tiny tsunami of web popularity! The blog I've been contributing to since its start 7 days ago, Ugly, Ugly, Bollywood Fugly, has been mentioned on one of the main indian culture blogs, and literally DOZENS of people are heading over and reading it and commenting and OMG, this must be what it's like to be Julia Roberts!

I'm worthless for the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Good Thing

I've started to read Scott Adams' blog on occasion (creator of Dilbert) and I'm always surprised by what I find there - I mean, you get a certain perception as to what a person is like based on what they do, and the Dilbert comic strip is so cynical... but he's actually a very determined person who makes things like positive thinking and daily affirmations work for him (along with the actual hard work to make things happen...)

Anyway, I just read an amazing entry on his blog; to the effect that, for 18 months, he has been unable to talk. It's a strange disease where you can sometimes sing or (in his case) do public speaking, but ordinary conversation is somehow disconnected. Anyway, he's been dealing with it as well as can be expected... but he says it better than me - take a look.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Run faster!

A client of mine recently asked what I would recommend she look for in a new computer. This is something that you can discuss endlessly, because there's Pros and Cons all over the place!

I would say that for a laptop, I would recommend 1 GB memory (RAM), and at the least an 80 GB hard drive. I would double that for a desktop, simply because you want to plan a bit for the future and it's cheaper than it is for a laptop. The Ghz (speed) should be 1.75 or higher.

If you want to download TV shows & music, the bigger the hard drive, the better!

I don't tend to recommend that people buy the best top end-computers (unless you work for Dell and they give you a new free one every other year!) because the turnover rate on the technology is so fast that you can spend a small fortune on something that will be obsolete or inadequate within 2 years. For example, I just gave a geek friend of mine an 8 MB RAM chip to put on his keychain, and pointed out that it was probably the most expensive doohicky ever hung on a keychain, since it cost $350 when it was made 10 years ago.

So you see my point - mid-range seems to work best, with the understanding that you'll want to replace it in about 3 years. Computers are still so new that people are only now starting to realize that they're not like major appliances like refrigerators or washers; the technology is continually doubling in speed and capacity, and since they're used in conjunction with all the other computers in the world in terms of shared documents and the internet, you really do need to plan for regular replacements.

Plus, the longer you wait to upgrade, the harder it is to rollover you data from an old system to a new one. I was helping a client get Word files off a Mac Performa 6400 a while back, and brough my external drive to back it up... but the Performa doesn't have USB ports. Nor did it have an ethernet port, so I couldn't get it online to transfer files that way.

We have to learn to think about our computers in terms of preserving data and files for future use, and how we'll shift everything from an old system to a new one. Those floppy disks your senior thesis is stored on won't last forever!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Just Ask Susan... (She'll Mouth off About Anything!)

Ok, so it's totally presumptuous to ‘suggest’ a blog topic, but I am sure you could pontificate the matter at hand much better than myself. So I know you live in an apartment (as do I)… do you not just get sick and tired of people telling you you should buy a house? Regardless of my reason (don’t have the $$ to put down a down payment, don’t want to leave the current neighborhood I live in b/c there’s no way in hell I can afford anything in the 37212 zip code, or maybe I just don’t want the responsibility of it all) I find it rather annoying when people say ‘you’re throwing money away’. Well, no, I’m not because I have a roof over my head, hot water, and a refrigerator that I didn’t have to purchase. But I’m not bitter… :-) can you tell what the topic has been around the office today? I’ve just been on the periphery of the conversation but I’m still annoyed. :( what are your thoughts? -- Allison

You know, maybe it's because I'm old and been renting for what seems forever, but I wish I could own a house and be building equity... but I can't afford to. On the other hand, I can well recognize the myriad advantages of renting, and maybe you just need to be all kick-ass and fling these around like throwing stars when the conversation comes up again:

1) I don't have to do lawn care.
BUT You have to own/rent a lawnmower, or pay for someone else to do it... must buy grass care products, plants, shrubs, gardening tools, etc. You have to WEED.

2) I don't have to do maintenance on ANYTHING related to my home.
BUT You have to fix everything yourself - paint it, repair it, or pay someone else to do it.

3) My carpets are shampooed yearly if I want it.
BUT You have to schedule & pay for it

4) When a major appliance breaks, I make a phone call and they come fix it, and I don't have to be home for it either.
BUT You have to call a repairman, schedule a house call, and take time off work to wait 4-6 hours for them to show up. AND pay for it.

5) I sleep late on Saturday morning and can lie around the house ALL WEEKEND if I want.
BUT You have to do all that crap mentioned above.

6) Ask almost any senior citizen, and they will tell you that they wish they didn't have to take care of their homes any longer... that they wish they could just rent a one-level condo and have someone else take care of those tedious details.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bad Art

OK, I want to rattle this off before I go to bed, because I'm so annoyed and I want to get this down.

I wasted $8.75 on "One Night With the King" on Friday. Do NOT go see this film. What makes me so mad about this movie is the fact that, unlike other poorly-made, flimsy, weak films that evaporate one hour after you're finished, never to be thought on again, this film lingers in my mind. But not in a good way; no, one after another, its flaws come through my mind and make me angry all over again.

1. I love the story of Esther and King Ahasuerus. I know it by heart, and have read multiple novels about her and the historical events of the time. It is a cracking good tale. So with an adaptation of an existing story, why oh why do filmmakers feel the need to re-write the original story? Embellishment, elaboration on a theme is fine, but why change the essential points, especially if it is to a point that's NOT WORTH MAKING?

This is a tendency that I call "Lack of Faith in the Source Material," which begs the questions, "why even bother using the original story in the first place, then?" And SOOOOOO many filmmakers are guilty of it. They don't trust that the original events are entertaining enough, despite the fact that the book/story/event has been so popular or compelling that there's a pre-existing demand for a film about it! Just look at the first Narnia movie; why did they need to send the children down a frozen river in a scene they invented? And yet they cut other scenes from the book! (I know not EVERYTHING translates well to film, and I can accept those sorts of changes...)

2. Inaccurate intepretation of history really pisses me off. I did an honors thesis in college on films about the French Revolution during the 1930s, as well as a huge paper on Propaganda in Film during WWII. So I know what I'm talking about here; namely, the tendency we have to re-interpret historical events in the light of current events, political hot-button issues, and contemporary ideology.

For example, the film chose to make the Greeks into proponents of Democracy, which the villain denounced as horrible. First off - the Greeks could have cared less if democracy took hold in other nations, and I've never heard that any other nation feared its spread; if anything, they feared the armies of Greece marching in to take over! Democracy of the 5th C. BC wasn't anything like what it is in 2006. Secondly - it was just so BADLY DONE. It made no sense, and even now I'm trying to figure out what on earth they were trying to do. If there was a point or ideology they wanted to make beyond Democracy=Good, then it was so ridiculously and pointlessly convoluted that no-one in that theater would have picked up on it.

3. If you're going to make a propaganda film, then please, make it good! The only decent thing in that film was the costuming (by the inspired Bollywood designer of "Devdas," I might add). The fact that they managed to make one of my favorite Bible stories insipid, boring, and confusing just infuriates me. They can propagandize to me all they want, but by golly, they'd better make it entertaining, like "Mrs. Miniver." Now that's a delicious piece of propaganda (and I adore it and highly recommend everyone watch it. Deeply moving.)

And the love story? Utterly confusing. If you insist on inventing a love story (and there was never any mention in the Bible that Esther and Ahasuerus loved each other at all, really) then, PLEASE, make it truly romantic! Since you're inventing it from scratch anyway, then you must be very, very bad filmmakers if you can't make it compelling. And if you're going to cast 2 unknowns in the leads, then you have absolutely NO EXCUSE in casting 2 actors without an ounce of chemistry between them. There are too many gifted actors out there who can't find work. You'd find better, more charismatic pairings in high-school productions of "Oklahoma."

Oh, and Omar Sharif was really good in a cameo role, as was John Rhys Davies, and Peter O'Toole (in a "blink-and-you'll-miss-him" role). But their quality performances only stood to make the utter lack of ability in the rest of the cast (excepting the charmismatic James Callis as Haman) stand out in sharp, painful relief.

4. *whimper* It was just so BAD. And all these confusing and insulting and stupid and ridiculous aspects of the film keep zipping through my head. And that's my final point - it was Bad Art, and even worse, Bad Christian Art. If you're going to spend money on a film about a story from the Bible, or popular Christian fiction, then please - stop before you start shooting if the script sucks! I'd rather the airwaves be flooded with well-written yet smutty crap than see another bad Christian film. I find myself clinging mentally to "Shadowlands"; it's truly good and well-made. But if Christian filmmakers are going to make only lame religious films? Then I'd rather they make none at all.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Repeat Posting of "Gift vs. Need"

OK, I spent last night updating my WishList, because the list of Stuff I Need But Can't Afford is getting longer every month, and I'm hoping that friends & family who are contemplating presents for me for the month of December (Birthday: Dec 3; Xmas: Dec 25) will take a moment to consider these guidelines:
  1. I am a recovering packrat
  2. I live in a tiny apartment
  3. The apartment is already full of stuff

I honestly can't accommodate anything that isn't essential or highly prized. At the same time, there are always many crucial things I need, yet amazingly no one ever thinks to get them for me. Instead, I always seem to get lots of notecards... very pretty, but folks, I design my own! I have literally hundreds of notecards right now. It will take me the next DECADE to exhaust the supply.

Here's what I really need:

  1. Body work on my car - a utility pole jumped out and gouged the passenger side of my Corolla and snapped off the mirror. Frankly, it hurts to look at it.
  2. 2-4 new tires. I put a LOT of miles on my car with making house calls, and I've been skidding a lot lately on wet roads.
  3. 512 RAM for my pitiful Dell Dimension 2400. It's barely functional at present.
  4. Laptop with wireless. As I am continually on the road around Nashbrentfrank, it would be fantastically useful to be able to work on researching solutions for clients and web design when I have an hour or 2 to kill between jobs.
  5. Gift cards to Jiffy Lube, Mapco Express, Target, Publix, TJ Maxx, Sonic, Taco Bell, and The Stitchin' Post.

For all those women who get hurt when their husbands give them a blender or a new vaccuum cleaner on their anniversary, let me just say that you need to SHUT UP. I can't get a practical gift to save my life!

Thursday, October 12, 2006


So the 2006 Nashville Scene "Best of Nashville" awards came out today...

And St. Bartholemew's (my church) came in 1st for "Best Church Music".

[silent, flabbergasted]

I didn't even KNOW that was a category! I don't think any of us did! I mean, I love what we do and I think our Choir Director Eric Wyse is fantastic... but I'm one of the miked singers once a month, and I'm SO mediocre! Except that I can harmonize with almost anything (but in no consistent way - I bounce back and forth between alto and tenor to the mild consternation of the pianist Tom. I can tell he's thinking "PICK ONE!") And we only run through it together on Sunday morning an hour before the 8:30 service... it makes for a very exciting 4-5 hours, since you really have to stay on your toes. Sort of like SNL.

And we don't have a full standing choir - we only have rehearsals for Easter and Christmas, but throughout the year choir members trot up to the loft at whatever service they're attending... you look up there during a service, and there's 3 miked singers, an (excellent!) bunch of instrumentalists, and anywhere from 2-10 scattered choir members. Plus it's 80% women... we can't seem to get many guys.

I called my mom to tell her, I was so excited, and she mentioned that her church had come in 1st in past years... at which point I looked at the list again, and Christ Church Cathedral? was in 2nd place. This is the gorgeous Gothic downtown Episcopal church with the fanTAStic organ, a full permanent choir that does some SERIOUSLY HARD music... and we beat them?!

We do a rather eclectic mix of music - Eric loves ancient and historic church music, but somehow manages to combine it with contemporary praise & worship stuff in a way that is so organic. He's written a melody for the Lord's Prayer that brought tears to my eyes for the first year I attended there - it's got this unbelievable build that just blows you away. And he'll write melodies for other old hymn lyrics that are such a pleasure to sing.

His way of directing us is untraditional - in charismatic-influenced churches, it's quite common to repeat choruses multiple times, and he'll form the letter "C" with his hand for us to repeat the chorus. He'll "salute" his hand in the middle of his forehead if he wants us to go back to the top of the music, or hold up his pinky if he wants us to sing the tag at the end. (Although I told him that in India, to do so means you need to go pee.) You just learn to read his signals.

Can you tell I really love it? It's something I'd been wanting to do for so many years, but having grown up at Belmont Church and spent my 20s at Christ Community, there was NO WAY I ever got to help lead worship; not that I ever tried! All of the singers were established professionals, and neither church had a choir. And in addition, St. B's will occasionally do classical pieces in Latin, etc., like the stuff I did at Hillsboro High, which I LOVE.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh Wikipedia!

How much do I love Wikipedia? It's the World Book of popular history; the dictionary of terms and ideas never touched on in Webster's; it's the future of information in the Information Age. I know there are errors and deliberate vandalizing upon occasion within it, but those who love the subject at hand watch over their chosen entries, and update and improve upon the material.

I was reading a particularly verbose recap of the latest Doctor Who episode on (one of my favorite sites for many a year) and it was littered with references to arcane concepts and historical figures... which I could then look up on Wikipedia! I'd never heard of Steampunk, for example - an entire genre of historical/scifi/alternate universe fiction - and it's absolutely fascinating!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Sears Silliness

For about 5+ years now, I have been a member of a small group that gets together every other month or so to watch movies, have dinner, hang out, etc. Well, Friend Paul has announced that he's moving back home (up North) in November, and so our group will be irrevokably changed.

I am very sad about this. Bad Paul! Bad, bad Paul!

So anyway, the smart lady behind had mentioned that Sears had done a really good portrait for her and her husband last year, and so when I spotted a Sears Portrait Studio flyer in my mailbox, I thought it would be massively fun to do a cheesy group photo.

And as you can see, it was!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

la voiture, c'est mal!

I am the unhappy posessor of an accursed car.

I made my initial mistake 3 years back when, as my lovely, darling little Civic hatchback was coughing up blood and on the verge of death, I unloaded it as hastily as can be done - I went to a Carmax and bought a Toyota Corolla. As all online and word-of-mouth advice praised the model highly, I swallowed my disappointment over the fact that it wasn't a Honda, and got it anyway. It was August, and the AC wasn't working in the Civic - what else could I do?

They called the color Burgundy. Yeah, right. It's Dark Red, and my opinion has been confirmed in the 3 years since, as I have gotten more speeding tickets than in all 18 years prior. It is a FACT that red cars are pulled over more than any other car by the police.

And NO, I am NOT driving any faster than I ever did before.

It's gotten so bad that I have gotten 2 tickets while going home from babysitting jobs out on Hwy 96; I have decided not to ever sit for that family again. It's just too expensive!

On top of this, my car is looking pretty battered at present. I have just now replaced 2 missing hubcaps which is a small improvement (I have never lost a hubcap before in my life, and now I lose 2 on the same car!) but the
  1. scraped rear bumper (sorry, Thomas!)
  2. gouged passenger side & broken mirror (stupid telephone pole... why'd you have to be so close to the damn street?!)
  3. gouged driver side & scraped mirror (thanks, Amy!)

are making for a rather ravaged appearance. I'm totally unable to afford to get any of it fixed; fortunately Thomas didn't make me pay for the damage done to HIS car, but the right-side damage is my own fault. I was almost relieved when Amy called me from her van as I babysat my niece:

I just hit your car...


I was backing out of the garage, and I didn't see your car. Didn't you
hear it?

I ran and looked out the window - damn. And I had been wishing for WEEKS that someone would hit me so their insurance could pay for the damage... but it was on the WRONG SIDE.

Yes, this car is accursed.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Precious Moments

NOT THE FIGURINES. No nononononono.

No, I mean those rare, delightful moments when all is well... like right now.
  1. The nasty work project I've been doing for the last week is done
  2. It's Friday
  3. I have lunch with a friend in 10 minutes
  4. I have one job this afternoon that's paying doubletime
  5. The 3rd episode of Doctor Who is on this evening
  6. Did I mention I get to leave in 6 minutes?

Feel that? That's happy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


  1. I had FIVE different jobs yesterday; what's up with that?! Am very tired now and want to go home and take a nap, but cannot as I have three jobs today. Two to go, and they're both difficult.
  2. Watched the season finale of Eureka this morning, and cried throughout. In a good way. Really excellent, excellent story/acting/etc. Very moving.
  3. It is impossible to be melancholy while watching Dancing With the Stars.
  4. Doing work that is automatically inaccurate is depressing. Especially when the person you're doing the work for wants it that way, and doesn't mind the fact that it's incorrect.
  5. I got replacement hubcaps for the 2 that have been missing lo these many months. I feel as though one tiny part of my life is much improved.
  6. I wish I had a new Yaris.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Stitching as a Metaphor

I've always enjoyed doing cross-stitch (and most of the ladies who attend the Crafting Bee are stitchers as well) but ever since I've started these monthly Bees, I keep finding analogies to Life in the work we're doing.  The latest example of this is dealing with mistakes.  Cross-Stitch is basically grid work, akin to paint-by-numbers; you have a pattern on a piece of paper that you are constantly looking at to make sure that you're stitching in the correct squares with the designated color on your linen.  You count and recount the number of threads, and then usually you count them again.
But even the most meticulous stitcher makes mistakes, and when you finally discover them, you have a difficult choice in front of you; should you unpick your stitches all the way back to the original error and re-do it, or is the problem something that won't destroy the integrity of the piece if you leave it as it is?  Cross-stitching builds upon itself - for example, if you have a row of flowers that is 2 stitches off, it can throw off everything else in the piece because you count threads from one completed section to find the starting point for the next section.  Plus, the longer it takes you to discover that you've miscounted, the more difficult and time-consuming it is to fix the problem.
If you choose to re-do your work, it's painful to lose all those completed stitches, and it seems to take forever, but there's the sense of relief that it will eventually be corrected.  The holes in the warp and weft of the linen get stretched out and the fabric looks a bit battered & misshapen, but ultimately everything will line up the way it's supposed to.
If you choose not to re-do your work, but try and adapt the pattern to accommodate the mistake, it's certainly easier, but you have to live with the knowledge that the piece is now flawed.  No-one else may notice it, but you will always know.  It's a humbling experience, and many experienced stitchers who do lovely, elaborate work will tell you at that point that it's good for you; they've done the same thing themselves.  There's an oft-repeated story among stitchers that in Olden Times, women working on quilts or samplers or embroidered pieces would deliberately make a mistake... because "only God is perfect."
As I've made more and more projects over the years, from tiny, 4-inch square birth announcements to a 5 foot historic Tennessee reproduction sampler (which I'm STILL not finished with) I've made more mistakes, and each time I have to decide - start over, or live with it?  Fortunately in this community of creative women, there is encouragement to be had with either decision - empathy, useful advice, even communal mourning over the lost hours of work that will have to be destroyed.  We will commiserate together, vent our frustration over the damage done... and then go back to work.

Monday, October 02, 2006

So Very Sad

OK, I am losing heart over Saturday Night Live - I just watched the season premiere, and the only really funny thing in the entire show was Brian Williams' cameo. He was also the best PERFORMER in the show. And he's a news anchor, not even a cast member!

Sad, sad, sad.


What is the deal with people? I've just had another friend announce he's moving away in early November; that'll be the 5th one in the last few months. I'm beginning to feel abandoned.

Is it Nashville? Speaking for the city: Did we do something wrong? Is it the traffic? Look, I know the roads can be a bit hinky, especially around 40E, and Briley Pkwy... really, we're gonna get that finished up soon, I promise!

Is it the weather? I mean, I know it was a really nasty, humid summer, but no worse that usual... and the fall is turning out to be fantastic; why would you want to leave now? And we cut back on the cicadas this summer...

Is it something we said? Is it the fact that we have a predominently religious population with a church on every corner and we tend to pray in restaurants? That we don't have a Nordstrom's?

This is the story of my life... NOBODY seems to stay here. Every few years there seems to be a mass exodus of friends, and folks, I am TIRED of it! So no more leaving! No more friends are allowed to leave Nashville - I absolutely forbid it! Rachel, if you want to go to New York and work on your acting career, you're gonna have to do it without my knowing because so help me, I will SABOTAGE your efforts to leave the city!

You have been warned!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

More on Television

OK, the SciFi Channel is rapidly becoming my Most-Watched, because I now have 4 shows that are appearing there:
  • Eureka
  • Doctor Who
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Heroes

Now, I missed last season of Battlestar Galactica but WILL catch up, and Heroes airs first on NBC but it conflicts with another show I watch so I'm catching the rerun on SciFi. These shows are vastly better than the rest of the SciFi lineup, which seems to consist mostly of C-grade horror, C-grade fantasy, and bizarre leftovers like Ghost Hunters and ECW (which is wrestling? what the...?)

Eureka has proven to be a delightful surprise. It reminds me of Northern Exposure (which I loved) and has been clever and entertaining. The star, Colin Ferguson, is that guy you've seen in a variety of MOWs and failed pilots... he's the guy that looks like a wax mannequin. I was ill-disposed to like him because of his unnatural beauty, but in fact he has worked with The Second City (which is like Harvard or Oxford as far as I'm concerned) and is VERY good and (based on his episode commentary podcasts) very smart. He's no vaccuous twinkie, as I had been inclined to assume. I find myself looking forward to the show each week, which is the hallmark of a really good show - do I only remember it when it shows up on my TiVo, or do I find myself thinking "yay, Such & Such is on tonight...!"

Doctor Who was on last night. Did you know you can see David Tennant's freckles? Seriously... the writing and acting is SOOOOO brilliant. I laugh with delight every single time I see the bit of "The Christmas Invasion" where the Doctor tells the morally questionable PM he can bring down her government with only 6 words... he wanders over to her assistant, and without taking his eyes off the PM, murmurs in his ear, "Don't you think she looks tired?" and walks off. Brilliant.

Heroes has been regularly referred to as " the X-Men." And this is bad because...? I love the X-Men! Very memorable first episode, but I feel so bad for all of the heroes because some of them are really suffering and lost and confused... I can't wait for them to all find each other and start a club!

Battlestar Galactica? Loved the first year of the new series, and then for some inexplicable reason didn't watch the next year. Hope to remedy that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another TV Show You Should Be Watching

Previously, on BLOG: I love Doctor Who. You should too.

The new season starts this Friday night from 7 - 9:30 pm CST with 2 episodes back-to-back. With the smokin' new Doctor, David Tennant. WHY WON'T YOU PEOPLE WATCH THIS SHOW???? IT'S SO GOOOOOOD!!!! I am a trifle frustrated that no-one will take my word on it. [mumble] stupid Grey's Anatomy... stupid 24... stupid CSI...

OK, maybe this will help: You will love Doctor Who if you like:
Veronica Mars
Battlestar Galactica
Desperate Housewives
The West Wing
The Office
Absolutely Fabulous
The Simpsons

because all of these shows have elements that appear within Doctor Who! Yes, it's just that good. What serious adventure show with mystery, suspense, drama, and scary bits can have a fantastically comedic throwaway reference to The Lion King as Earth is in peril? Only Doctor Who!

*Sigh.* Be that way then. Watch your stupid shows.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

la la la la Laptop

This is the one that I want. Family, take notice!

I mean, if people can put out a call for financial aid on websites, then why can't I say "Someone please give me a laptop"? Perhaps a wealthy and impulsively kind person will visit this site, see my request, and buy it for me!

It could happen! It's certainly as possible as me winning the lottery...

Friday, September 22, 2006

In Defense of Survivor

I know, I know, this time they've gone too far... they split them into 4 teams based on race & ethnicity. I can sort of see why people are up in arms about this, but the way I see it... they're being up-front and HONEST about it. They're taking a significant risk (which is pretty impressive for one of the Big Three). And for the most part, the players don't seem at all upset about it! Probably because they know that these teams will be short lived, and they'll soon be mixed up and recombined into new teams.

But it is SO interesting! As a regular watcher who has only ever missed 2-3 episodes in the entire history of this series, we're only 2 episodes into this new season and I'm completely fascinated all over again like I was in the beginning. For, me, it's always been about the social experiment. I've always been drawn to the whole "What If..." of survival situations; who excels, who fails, how would I act in such a situation, etc.

But now, one of the most frustrating aspects of the game - the playing of the race card - has, at least temporarily, been removed. You can't blame your tribemates for racial prejudice against you if you're all of the same race! And only 2 episodes in, we see that even without that excuse, people are already becoming frustrated and making judgment calls against teammates they don't like. The game goes on.

I will admit one danger of this - stereotyping races based on their success in challenges. The Asian team won that challenge because they're smart... the Hispanic team won that challenge because they're hard workers... I find myself thinking these things. But at the same time, I find myself cheering for the black women who, when their remaining guy fails to start a fire, struggle on and succeed in doing so. I'm usually rooting for the women. :)

The tribalism/team cohesiveness that has evaporated over the course of this series as people get rid of strong teammates so they won't have to fight them later is, albeit sporadically, back in evidence. Sure, the Hispanic team just deliberately threw a challenge so they could rid themselves of a lazy, uncooperative teammate, but in most respects the teams are feeling the desire to represent themselves and their people in the best possible light. The younger members of the Asian team are feeling some frustration with their older hippie member because he persists in making racist jokes... about Asians! And they keep trying to persuade him to stop.

But even with ethnic bonding, each person is playing the game for themself. They will still get rid of someone they perceive as a threat to their own success.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Preparing For the Worst

I grew up at Nashville's Belmont Church in the 70s-80s, and the topic of Christ's return and the Tribulation was a regular topic; mom was seriously reading up on biblical prophecy, all the main writers on the End Times, Constance Cumbie, you name it. We even went so far as to consider buying a farm so we'd be prepared - I remember walking the fields of one property we looked at. She had books on edible plants (there was a recipe for batter-fried Queen Anne's Lace!) and would tell us all about the various evil things she'd learned about the New Age Movement.

As a result, I did not believe that I would live to grow up. I remember doing the math... I was 13, and if we lived through the 7 years of the end times (which in my fatalism I was inclined to believe; that the rapture would come at the end) I MIGHT live to be 20, and get to be married if I was lucky.

I'm 37 now, and have mostly forgotten those miserable years of high school and being scared that THIS DAY might be the one where it All Began... being terrified that the 40 years from the time when Israel was restored was THIS YEAR, and so it would surely begin now... I grew up scared, and am scared to this day; not of the end times, but of everything else in life that I now have to deal with.

Why am I saying all this? I don't know, precisely... I mean, I believe in preparedness if there is definitive proof that disaster is coming, but I learned to live my life as though disaster was always imminent, and you know what? It sucks. And it bleeds into other areas of my life too.

I'm not wise enough about these sorts of things to say whether disaster from our enemies is imminent - I know that plenty of knowledgeable people say it is. But 20 years ago they were certain it was on the horizon, and during the Bay of Pigs it was at their very door. So I don't buy anything from anybody, anymore, be it pundits or journalists or academics who really, really know what they're talking about, and I especially don't believe modern prophets - we had plenty of them back when I was 13 too... I have enough other things to be scared of in this world, like whether or not I might choke to death in my apartment and not be discoved until 3 days later.

La la la la la!

Gift vs. Need

OK, I spent last night updating my WishList, because the list of Stuff I Need But Can't Afford is getting longer every month, and I'm hoping that friends & family who are contemplating presents for me for the month of December (Birthday: Dec 3; Xmas: Dec 25) will take a moment to consider these guidelines:
  1. I am a recovering packrat
  2. I live in a tiny apartment
  3. The apartment is already full of stuff

I honestly can't accommodate anything that isn't essential or highly prized. At the same time, there are always many crucial things I need, yet amazingly no one ever thinks to get them for me. Instead, I always seem to get lots of notecards... very pretty, but folks, I design my own! I have literally hundreds of notecards right now. It will take me the next DECADE to exhaust the supply.

Here's what I really need:

  1. Body work on my car - a utility pole jumped out and gouged the passenger side of my Corolla and snapped off the mirror. Frankly, it hurts to look at it.
  2. 2-4 new tires. I put a LOT of miles on my car with making house calls, and I've been skidding a lot lately on wet roads.
  3. 512 RAM for my pitiful Dell Dimension 2400. It's barely functional at present.
  4. Laptop with wireless. As I am continually on the road around Nashbrentfrank, it would be fantastically useful to be able to work on researching solutions for clients and web design when I have an hour or 2 to kill between jobs.
  5. Gift cards to Jiffy Lube, Mapco Express, Target, Publix, TJ Maxx, Sonic, Taco Bell, and The Stitchin' Post.

For all those women who get hurt when their husbands give them a blender or a new vaccuum cleaner on their anniversary, let me just say that you need to SHUT UP. I can't get a practical gift to save my life!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bwah Ha ha ha!

Genetics has finally smiled on me. I just got back my test results from my doctor (see my "Needless" post a week or so back) and my blood is simply fantastic. Supermodel fantastic.

Quote: "Your cholesterol profile was excellent!" (I had expressed a pre-emptive opinion that it would be bad.)

[maniacal, vindicated laughter here]

Everything tested for was normal - glucose levels, blood counts, sodium, potassium, calcium, kidney functions, etc. As a Fatty Boombalatty, living on fast food primarily and next to no exercise whatsoever, it would be expected that my cholesterol, in particular, would be through the roof. Not so, apparently; my dear doctor says that (like sex appeal) you either "have IT" or not.

Test Results
Cholesterol: 185 (200 or less is normal)
Triglycerides: 95 (150 or less is normal)
HDL-C: 70 (35 or higher is normal)
LDL-C: 96 (130 or lower is normal)

And so every Disney movie moral comes true, finally: It's what's inside that counts.

I am a cholesterol GODDESS.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rare Email

I rarely get Good forwarded emails, and I try to show discretion in what I forward on, but I really liked this one:

Women are like apples on trees. The best ones are at the top of the tree. Most men don't want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt. Instead, they sometimes take the apples from the ground; they aren't as good, but easy.

The apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality, they're amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who is brave enough to climb all the way to the top of the tree.

Not Funny At All

The Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, is dead.

Sure, his whole dangerous animal schtick was good for a laugh, but I find this so very sad, because he's leaving behind a wife and 2 small children. And that's never funny. My father Edmond Alexander Lynds died of leukemia when I was 3, and even though my mom remarried and Chuck legally adopted us and raised me and my 2 sisters, he was not a good replacement for the dad I had lost. Those babies won't ever really know their dad (well, except for infinite hours of videotape, which I'd kill for!)

Friday, September 01, 2006


So I don't have anything in particular to post at present, but I am blessed by a moment of idleness at work, so feel it incumbent upon me to put something new on the site so that those who may check with any regularity will not feel entirely neglected. All 9 of you.

Let's see - went to the doctor for a full physical this week, had some blood work done... Ah! a topic presents itself:

I had a particularly sadistic pediatrician as a child. I'm sure he was no worse than other pediatricians of his era, but me and my sisters were all traumatized by what seemed excessive Needling, and one of my few childhood memories is of seeing my sister Amy pass out while having her finger pricked, as she was being held by the nurses. Followed by a memory of having a shot in my thigh for an ear infection, and screaming and trying to push away the nurse's hands.

After this childhood immunizations were done with, my mom felt that we had been tortured enough, and we didn't set foot in that office for years. In our teens, we were "taken in" by one of the kindest, most excellent pediatricians in Nashville (Dr. Lentz) but the damage had been done, and our phobia of needles was fully grown. From that point on, the doctors office was to be avoided at all costs unless I was fairly certain the issue at hand didn't require a Needle.

I should mention at this point that this fear didn't extend to Dentistry; we had a wonderful dentist as children and even now, I'm often so relaxed in the dentist chair that I can doze off briefly.

ANYway, I managed to get the dreaded tetanus shot for college, but had avoided all other Needling until I applied for Grad Schools in my mid-twenties, when a blood test was required for one of my applications. No no no no no. No. [wail] Don't wanna! [/wail] But it must be done. And by this time of my life, I had figured out that avoidance of fears only bred more fears and trouble for the future, so I made arrangements at the school infirmary.

This was a good thing, I discovered. It didn't feel like a doctor's office, and the nurse who was drawing blood was an acquaintance from campus, so I didn't feel so intimidated - it felt more ordinary. And I had decided that I needed to be distracted from the process as much as possible, so I asked her if I could sing while she did it, which tickled her. So I belted out "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess, which suitably distracted my mind from the task at hand. And I discovered that having blood taken wasn't nearly as uncomfortable as a shot.

But what was even better was the absolute EUPHORIA I felt once it was over; I had DONE the dreaded thing! I've never been one for setting goals or overcoming obstacles, and I am quite content to let most impasses stay impassive. But wow! The feeling of accomplishment over that one little Needle was phenomenal. I floated around for over 24 hours. Each year since then, it has become less and less of an ordeal to be feared, and more of a "oh darn" situation... I still don't like it and would avoid it whenever possible, but if it is required, I don't fall into a depression or sleeplessness for a week beforehand anymore.

I did have one setback a few years back - now that I didn't dread the process so much, I felt like I could finally give blood without panicking, so I signed up at the Red Cross and went over during lunch one day. It... did not go well. All was fine until they'd disconnected me and I was having a little can of juice. I asked them if I could have some more grapefruit juice, and they looked at me oddly and said, "We don't have any grapefruit juice, we only have orange juice." Odd, I thought, and then dreamed of jam, Entertainment Weekly, bees and whatnot, at which point three figures in white stood over me saying "Susan? Susan!"

I came to with a sickening rush, and realized I had passed out. My feet were propped up, and I felt cold and sick. They gave me all the usual stuff - more juice, cookies - but I could not get up without feeling dizzy. They finally asked me if they could shift me over to a place by the wall, as they needed my station. Techs who had gone on a coffee and smoke break returned and said "what, you're STILL here?"

Finally, we decided to put me in a wheelchair and roll me out to my friend's car (thank GOD I had asked him to come along at the last minute!) where I laid down in the back seat, and he drove me home after running by Wendy's for a supersized meal for me. I was weak and wobbly for the next 36 hours. I've never given blood again since.

Have I ever mentioned my terror of passing out...? No?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thinking You Are Something, And It Turns Out You Aren't

I was just remembering back almost 10 years ago... 9 years and 9 months, actually. I had been working for a year in the Computer Connection on the Belmont campus, and had finally reached the end of my ability to live on $1000 a month. I had let it be known I'd like to find a computer support job to the one person I knew in the field (brother Cy). It ultimately led to an interview and job offer with the William Morris Agency, which was far and away more than I had ever thought of for myself.

But it also wasn't what I'd really wanted, either. It was a corporate job, which meant responsibility and dress codes and loss of freedom. It was, to my way of thinking, the end of any Creative Dreams I might have had (which were vague at best) just for the Almighty Dollar. But I knew I absolutely had to do it; my student loans were coming due, my credit card debt was high, and I couldn't afford to live any longer on $8.04 an hour.

But I sobbed when I got off the phone with the HR person who offered me the job... because I really felt like it was the end of my ambitions; a job contrary to everything I was meant to be. I had just finished my 2nd major in theater, having had the intention to teach high-school drama. But I found out along the way that I was unwilling to go to any school other than Belmont which was safe and comfortable to me, and then when I applied to Grad School, the only programs I was accepted to were at Northwestern, with no assistantship or financial aid, and Austin Peay, which was pitiful. Funny - now that I look back, I have no idea when I decided that I would just give up Grad School entirely; it obviously didn't give me any pain to give up all the preparatory work I had done for auditions, resumes, letters of recommendation, etc. because I don't remember it at all.

I did take a year to try and "make it" as a working actor in Nashville with a variety of part-time jobs & housesitting. I don't think I got a single paying gig. I even had an agent, who sent me on 2 auditions, and then never called again. I slipped out of that idea easily too, and started helping people with their home computers as I was learning skills at the campus store. But I still clung to the idea that I was Creative, and that I should be in The Arts; everyone else seemed to think so too, even though I had by then realized that my performing talents were mediocre at best. But I expressed myself so... expressively! dramatically! Surely that meant I was supposed to be an actor...

So I took the System Administrator job at WMA, promising myself I'd only have to do it for 2 years till I could pay off my debts and student loans. I honestly didn't know how I could endure it. But I loved it - it was perfect for me, and I stayed until they asked me to leave, for reasons which still elude me. 8 years of almost flawless evaluations... oh well. The job had done its purpose - it had taken away the illusion that I was purely right-brain, and taught me how to use my left-brain.

So now 10 years later, looking at the person I've morphed into, and looking back at the person I thought I was... I wonder if I'm about to turn out to be something else again. Anyone who knows me well knows that one of my greatest fears is being called to the mission field. I can rattle off a list of Places I Don't Want To Go faster than people can think of where they'd like to go on their dream vacation. Uncomfortable, unfamiliar, unsafe - that's what I equate with missions, and despite the fact that I don't think I have a talent for it, fear getting sick in a 3rd world country, and hate the idea of giving up my safe and comfortable existence, I'm always ready to assume that I'm going to be "made" to do it someday.

It turns out I wasn't an actor. Maybe it will turn out that I'm not a computer geek. Maybe it will turn out that I'm another thing altogether.