Sunday, December 24, 2006

New Lyrics to White Christmas

I thought of these in the shower. Because that's how I roll.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas;
So white with fog you cannot see!
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear them shining through the murk!

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas;
The kind that closes Heathrow down.
May your days be merry and dim!
And may all your Christmases be fogged in!

Monday, December 18, 2006

But HE was the cheerleader!

So there's this awful picture of Dubya & Laura in People magazine (available here) that's totally creepy. Mom pointed it out to me; it made us feel gross. There's something about it that's just not right. We surmised that it's the "football hero corners cheerleader" vibe that's just so totally wrong for the fawking President of the United States of America. Especially as HE was the CHEERLEADER!

The gross feeling it gave us is very specific. Mom has a friend whose family has come up with a name for this specific feeling, the feeling you get when someone is doing something really stupid that's totally going to backfire on them or make them (or you) look like an idiot. When mom reported this name to us, she reported it as "the tardwillies." (Yep, tard willies.) That wasn't exactly correct, but it's way better than whatever her friend actually came up with and it's become common parlance in our household. We have, in fact, created an entire echelon of names for related sensations. Unfortunately only one other stuck: the jerkwillies, when someone is being a total asshole for no reason (like Dr. House on TV's House, for instance) and you feel anxious in your tummy because you know that it will result in no good! No good, I say!

So this photo totally gives me the tardwillies. And so does most of Seinfeld and I Love Lucy, which is why I can't watch them. It's nice to finally have a name for my particular illness, which I'd heretofore been forced to describe as "an overabundance of empathy." No no - it's just an overabundance of the tardwillies.

Anyway, I think everyone should start using "tardwillies" and "jerkwillies" in their daily goings-on.

(Yes, I did consult Pete about spellings. We decided to use compound words instead of hyphens or two words because ultimately hyphens are almost always dropped, making hyphen users look like weirdos. I mean, who writes e-mail any more? Or builds a ro-bot?)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Nastiest Bush In the World

So Pete and I went to visit my cousin at work the other day, and in her parking lot (well, that of her place of employ - she is in no way responsible for this) was the nastiest bush ever. Seriously: it was so disgusting. We took pictures.

Mom says that when these bushes are allowed to grow freely, they're loose-leaved with lovely bunches of shiny orange berries. Apparently when they're shorn into boxes, they become the most God forsaken shrubberies known to mankind, with hideous bunches of nasty orange maggot-berries. I'm not sure these pictures do true justice to how fully and utterly horrifying and disgusting this bush was. Hugghh... I shudder to even look at them now. I post them as a service, to you, the community at large. As a service and a warning! Hire a trained landscaper, and listen to them. Certain plants were not meant to be hedgerows. Heed this warning or face the peril that is... NASTY BUSH!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jury Duty

Yes, that's right, today and yesterday I had [duhn duhn duhn!] JURY DUTY. Yesterday I showed up downtown at the Multnomah County Courthouse to fulfill my civic duty at 8am on the dot. Each potential juror was checked in at a little desk and given a plastic tag that said "Juror" on it and had a barcode associated with your name. The jury room was really nice - comfortable chairs, clean, flat screen TVs with cable, work stations and internet access, a kitchen area, microwave, vending machines, private "jury only" bathrooms, board games, puzzles, books, magazines... I'm not saying the hour I was there before anyone said "boo" to us wasn't boring, but it was nicer than expected. Then there was half an hour of "here is how this works," and then another half hour of boredom before they called THE GRESHAM JURY. Yes, because Multnomah County is so populous and (I suspect) so weirdly shaped, there is a second county courthouse in Historic Downtown Gresham (I'm so not making that up) that holds short trials, whose jurors are selected from the same pool as the main, Historic Downtown Portland Courthouse. At ten to ten or so, they called sixteen (or so) names of people who would be let go for the day, but asked to show up at the Gresham Courthouse the following day. As soon as I read the words "Gresham County Court" on the little "Juror Handbook" they gave us as we checked in, I just knew I'd get called for it. As soon as I went to the "Kitchen Area" to get a soda and ran into a talkative old vet - of the mostly deaf, jovial, retired, disabled, everyone's grandpa variety - I knew that he'd be called for it too. I don't know how I knew, but I was just certain of it. When they started calling names for that jury, I walked out of the kitchen without buying a soda so that I could shout "here" when they called me. Keep in mind, there were like 150 people there and only 16 were going to Gresham. And I thought about warning the old guy, but that seemed weird.

So this morning I drove out to Gresham after dropping Pete off at work. And it was a fully surreal experience. It was like visiting another world. I also realized that I've never actually been to Gresham before. I've driven through it on Powell (Hwy 26) on my way to the mountain, but I've never actually been to Gresham. I couldn't find a Starbucks. I didn't need to be at the courthouse until 10, I dropped Pete off at 8, and found myself tooling around Historic Downtown Gresham at 15 mph around 8:30am. And there was no Starbucks. Checking Google Maps, I can now find two or three, but Gresham is a big-ish place, and none of them were on my path. We found Starbucks in Cody, WY and in Rapid City, SD - to find one's self in a palce that ostensibly has no Starbucks, Peete's Coffee, Boyd's, Stumptown, Coffee People or Seattle's Best at all is like finding one's self in a parallel universe. Gresham is not interesting enough to offer anywhere else to go, so I just cut my losses and showed up an hour and fifteen minutes early at the courthouse.

I had a feeling I'd be waiting a long time, so I was prepared. I had my iPod, a book of crosswords, a book of number puzzles, an actual book, paper for letter writing and my cell phone (games) in my satchel. I also had my purse. When I got through the door, there was a metal detector and a guard sitting at a little table next to it. I said, "Hi, I'm here for jury duty." He said, "Um, you really need both those bags?" I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, um, I'm gon' have to ask you to git rid'a one'a those, 'cause we don't have a scanner or anything here, so I hafta check'em by hand, and it takes a while, so if you could jus' git rid'a one'a them, that'd be great. K, thanks." And then he looked past me. Into the empty vestibule. Into the empty parking lot. Dude! I'm the only one here!!

I was as mean to his as I could be: I rolled my eyes. And then I complied. Oh, and I pushed the door extra hard when I left. Yeah! That'll teach him to make silly demands! I crammed all the stuff in my purse into my satchel and went back in. Now there was a second guard standing next to the first one. The first guard bore a striking resemblence to my mom's brother, Rick - it was just eerie. The second guard was a woman with a beautiful round face and pink cheeks. The uncle-resembling-but-not-at-all-avuncular guard started pulling stuff out of my satchel. He handing the clipboard thing I keep my stationary in to the female guard and said, "We hafta look through everything." It's essentially a letter-sized plastic box with a clipboard clip attached to it, and a little pen holder at the bottom. "You want me to open this?" asked the female guard. "Mm hm," said the male guard. She opened it, and carefully rifled through my paper. "Oh, these your Christmas stamps?" she asked. "Yep," I said, while the Not-My-Uncle guard finished emptying out my bag and began haphazardly shoving everything back into it.

I checked in, and the woman at the window told me to go make myself at home in the jury room. Unlike the Historic Downtown Portland Courthouse, this was not a spacious room with new chairs and fun things to do. It was a room the size of an Associate Professor's office at U of O (maybe a little longer) with two beat up old conference tables and exactly 17 chairs. There was a tiny sink, a non-functioning coffee maker, an old postal pin (those white, plastic/cardboard things they use to move mail around in an actual post office) filled with old magazines and a single deck of cards. There was no microwave, there were no vending machines, there was no TV. I played several hands of solitaire before the second juror showed up at 9:15. Around 10, the other jurors started showing up and I filled in some crossword puzzles. Around 10:30, the final juror - Old Man Chatty Pants - arrived, but there was no sign of any court official. Two of the middle-aged ladies talked and talked and talked. Old Man Chatty Pants challenged everyone to a game of gin and ended up playing solitaire. Everyone else was quite and read, worked on their computers, played Nintendo DS, did crosswords, or listened to music. Or napped while pretending to read, which is what I did. At 11:15 they finally brought us into the courtroom. And the judge, who was super nice and had a great speaking voice, told us to go home. They had gotten new evidence and it just wasn't going to happen to day. So I drove the 200 blocks back down Powell Blvd, the 20 blocks up 39th, and the 60 or so blocks up Broadway, over the bridge and up Lovejoy to eat leftovers for lunch.

I have done my civic duty, such as it is, and am now free to go about my business for at least 24 months. Huzzah?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Weee! I mean, Wii!

So my mother has some crazy awesome instant karma. (Instant in that she is rewarded in this life rather than the next.) I swear to God, she must have saved a bus load of attractive orphans or something. But first, some back story...

Mom listens to a lot of NPR, as does anyone I know with a long commute. On NPR last week they interviewed some guy about the new Nintendo Wii. Mom listened intently and was first intrigued, then interested, then finally, by the time she got home, intent on owning one of her very own. "I want to get a Wii," she said. "Where can we get one?" Aren and Pete and I explained that they were all sold out everywhere. Maybe she heard this on NPR as well, but we kept repeating ourselves that as much as she might want one, there was not one to be had. She checked the websites of Best Buy, Costco, Amazon and others but to no avail. I pointed out that for a little over retail (or sometimes a lot over retail) she could get one via eBay or Craig's List. But the eBay ones were all going for way too much money and the Craig's List ones were all probably stolen. Mom seemed to give up.

But in fact that was a facade! She spent her Friday morning rechecking websites and reading forums to see if she could get the fabled product. On one forum she found a lead: Toys'R'Us was rumored to have consoles, but the poster wasn't sure if that was true or if they had any left. Mom asked if I'd like to accompany her on a fool's errand and trek out to the Toys'R'Us at Jansen Beach on the busiest shopping day of the year. I said, "Sure," because I didn't have anything else to do, and chatting with my mother in the car for a couple of hours stuck in traffic seemed like more fun than watching my brother and Pete play Halo 2.

Jansen Beach was surprisingly calm. There was a lot of traffic - backed up almost to Delta Park on that long roller-coastery road that runs to the North of the shopping center - and getting into the main parking area was kind of a bear, but we found parking easily enough. Toys'R'Us wasn't even completely insane. This is probably mostly because it was 11 am and they'd already had their rush of bargain-hunting-crazies. We found a Wii-related product display pretty quickly, but there was no mention of the availablility of the actual consoles. Mom grabbed the first staff person she saw and asked if they had any Wiis left, and the girl looked hesitant and said, "I don't know. Hold on, I'll ask. Um, follow me." She walked us back to the video game section, all the while trying to get an answer to our question on her headset. When we got to the video game section - which those of you familiar with Toys'R'Us may recall is just vast walls covered in video game cover pictures in little vinyl covers below which hang little vinyl pockets filled with paper tickets baring the name of the game, the console it's for and the price - the girl we were following accosted another lady who worked that section specifically and asked if they had any Wiis left. The woman held out two pages of tickets - about six per page - that she was about to tear apart along their perferated lines. "Right here - just got 'em out! You want one?"
Mom: "Yes!"
Toys'R'Us Lady: "They're a package deal - you have to buy a game."
Mom: "That's okay!"

I guess that Toys'R'Us had extra Wiis that they were initially going to hold in reserve but then decided to release. One employee said that they had "just gotten them in," while another said that they were pre-ordered Wiis whose orderers had flaked. All I know is that Mom's crazy amazing timing got her the first tear off the ticket sheet.

Toys'R'Us did not have any extra Wiimotes (which Pete claims is their actual name, although I think he's making it up). We went to the Hollywood Fred Meyer (bust) and its adjacent Game Crazy where it was suggested that although they were all out, Target had had the remotes that morning. So, from NE Portland we headed out to the only non-crappy Target we could think of, in Beaverton. The Beaverton Target did indeed have remotes, and we got one and the last nunchuk controller too. When we went to pay for them, the girl at the counter said, "Oh, we must have gotten more in! We were all sold out like two hours ago." Again, Mom's crazy instant karma! Right place, right time!

While we were out, Mom got three games - Zelda, Excite Truck and Rayman & the Rabbids. And of course the Wii comes with Wii Sports. After trying out Wii Sports, Pete and I headed out to get two more remotes because it was obvious to everyone that we must play doubles tennis. And that's what I've been doing ever since. Aren and Pete and I were up until 2 or 3 in the morning Friday night/Saturday morning. When I got up around 11 on Saturday, my right arm ached like you wouldn't believe. But did that stop me? Hell no! I spent most of Saturday playing Wii sports or watching various other games be played. Today, much similar, except that I'm pretty sure I can no longer lift my right arm.

I highly recommend the Wii. You could buy two of them for the cost of a PS3. Sure, there are no hi-def graphics, but who the hell cares? You can play tennis, baseball or golf by making a real swinging motion! You can bowl! You can do all of this without leaving your house! Everyone should own one. Or two. Yeah... two... Then I could have a Mii on each one and do the Wii Fitness twice a day...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stink has to follow the laws of physics, right?

Is it just me or have grocery store scented candles gone insane? I just saw a commercial that went, approximately, "Scented candles are great, but they don't disperse scent quickly through the whole room. Thank God for Glade Scented Oil Bombs! For when you just can't get your whole home to reek of noxious florals fast enough!" I have never in my life thought, "Hot damn, this scented candle just doesn't stink enough." I have thought, "Hot damn, this scented candle - which smelled nice in the store - totally reeks now that I've lit it. I will never get this scent out of this room! Arrrrggg!!" Who wants an even more powerful scented awful? (That's right: I've nouned "awful." Deal with it!)

My theory is that people no longer care if their home is clean or hygenic. They only care that it doesn't smell as nasty as it is. Case in point: Fabreeze. Maybe, if you house stinks, you should clean it rather than just trying to remove the odor. I have had Mystery Stink in my home. And I have not fabreezed. I have sought it out. And vacuumed, cleaned, aired... There are only a couple of reasons why I use the stuff: 1) Clothes that must be dry cleaned which are not dirty but have been to a bar and reek of smoke; 2) Smells that have been cleaned but persist due to their awfulness (cat pee).

Here is my question: Where does the fabreeze go? I've watched it settle into the fabric it's sprayed on. I don't believe the commercials that it sucks the stink out of the fabric, traps it in little hovering fabreeze orbs, and then implodes, leaving no stink behind. Doesn't that violate at least one law of physics or thermodynamics or similar? If anyone knows where the fabreeze goes, I would like to know. -z.

Also, I invented a recipe tonight for brussel sprouts. Pete likes them, what can I say, and I like to cook. But my grandmother said that they were the "best brussel sprouts I've ever eaten." So if you like them or cabbage, or think that you might like them, I would be happy to share the recipe!

Monday, November 20, 2006

The cat is on to me

For my birthday, Dad sent me a big bouquet of flowers: roses, stargazer lillies, carnations, dasies and others I couldn't identify without a field guide. Mom set them first on the sideboard in the dining room and then moved them to the hall table for the baby shower she hosted this weekend. The kitten has seen several kinds of flowers in vases in her short 6 1/2 months of life: roses, tulips, daisies. But she had never seen anything like the bouquet from Dad before this weekend. The kitten knows very little of the world - her rules of life are based entirely on what she's admonished for (i.e. peeing on the bed) and what she's rewarded for (i.e. not biting me while I clip her nails). One thing she does know about the world is that she's not allowed up on tables. Not the kitchen counters, not the dining room table, not the coffee table, not the hall table. She's been specifically admonished (read: squirted with a water bottle while someone yells, "No!") to stay off each of those surfaces. But the lure of the bouquet was too much for her. A couple of weeks ago, when we had tulips on the hall table, Pete found her batting the already dropping petals off the last intact stem. I was surprised that she didn't go for the kill with the bigger blooms as well, but evidently she had something else in mind. It seems that she just rubbed up against the stargazer lillies a bunch and covered her head in pollen.

I have this theory that cats are born devious. Not curious; devious. And I know how much the kitten loves tearing things apart. Yet she chose to rub pollen all over her face and not shred the - what I would imagine to be extrodinarily appealing - blossoms. I believe that she can sense that I am both allergic to her and to flowers. I think she might be out to get me... If I see her with an apple, or maybe chawing on a strawberry, I'll know she's got my number and she's coming to get me. Lucky for me I still have a few tricks up my sleeve. Like fire: no cat can resist a fire in a fireplace. They are compelled to stare into it until they become drowsy and then flop over and lounge in a semi-catatonic state until the fire dies out.

In other cat-related news, the most recent name choice is Audrey. There are several reasons for this. 1) We originally got her for my Grandma Audrey and if Grandma had liked her and kept her, we wouldn't have her. 2) The kitty is kind of a whiner. And, um, so is gramma. I know! That's terrible! But that's the deal with old people - a deal I'm totally looking forward to. I'm totally a whiner and I'm trying to hold it in so I'll be good and ready for when I'm an old lady. And really, at least she's not cranky. Not like Heidi... 3) It also nicely ties in the whole Capote angle what with our having so much trouble naming the damn thing. Man, I just noticed how much Heidi looks like a toy or someone photoshopped her or something.

It's so funny to watch the two of them go at it because Heidi's at least twice her size, and probably three times her weight. We weighed Heidi about a month before getting the kitten and she weighed about 10 pounds. After we got the kitten, she seemed to be slower and fatter - which seemed improbable as she was already HUGE. She gained a pound and a half in just the first two weeks the kitten was here! Not much for me or you, but that's 15% of her starting body wieght! It would be like a 200 pound man gaining 30 pounds in two weeks! I don't know what she weighs now - she hates being picked up and yowls bloody murder and then tries to murder you whenever you do it, so you have to have the scale on and ready to go, and then scoop her up to have enough time for it to get a reading. And then you have to hope that you didn't lose too much blood for the second Heidiless weighing (for to determine her weight via the magic of subtraction!) to be accurate.

When the cats "decide" to tussle - you can imagine who the typical agressor is (PSST! it's the one with the energy!) - they usually end up "hugging" and gnawing on each other's heads while kicking with their hind legs. The kitten always takes the submissive, lower position, even though she's usually the one starting shit. And she does this thing that is SO hilarious! She waits for a pause in the fight, when they're both just sitting there staring at each other, and she ever so slowing and hesitantly lifts one paw and slowly extends it towards Heidi. She slowly slowly sets it on Heidi's face, usually over one eye or on her nose and cheek below the eye, and just rests it there. Sometimes she "winds up" for this, extending the paw a little ways and then withdrawing about half way, and then again... I'll try to get a picture of it. And I'll try not to become one of those crazy cat ladies who always posts about her cats and talks about them like they're people. But I promise nothing!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Peteney: Frenetically Calm

Pete is routinely described using one particular word: calm. My boss (who he helped set up an information booth about our health communication study) used "calm" and "kind," two qualities that led her to believe that he should be a special ed teacher. Coinsidentily, he then got a job as a paraeducator (teacher's aide) at a special ed school, where is has been described as "calm."

No one has ever, in my life, used that word to describe me. Loud, energetic, frenetic... those ones I've heard. Pete just suggested "unhinged" and "chemically imbalanced." (I'll unhinge him...) But calm? Never. Neither quiet, nor shy. How is it possible that we get along as well as we do?

Calm is a really interesting word. It's kind of inherently positive (unless used sarcastically or ironically, of course).

The calm before the storm.
Calm yourself.
Calm down!
Tazo Calm (mind you: not Tazo Relax or Tazo Unwind: Tazo Calm)

"He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden."
Plato (427 BC - 347 BC), The Republic

Parents desire calm children, but not inactive or phlegmatic children. And a calm man is someone to be admired, but a steady or staunch man is boring and dull.

Meanwhile, I can't think of a single word for those of my disposition that is inherently positive.

lusty (yes, haha, get your giggles in!)
unhinged (thank you Pete...) :)

The Fig Eater by Jody Shields

I know, it's totally lame to have a list of books I'm currently reading in my "about me" information and then not keep it up to date, but seriously, I read this one so fast I would have had to take it off that list almost as soon as I posted it. Here's the weird thing: I'm not even sure it's that good a book.

It's very atmospheric - more description than plot, really. But that fits the time period: all brooding turn-of-the-century Vienna with it's repressed Victoria mores. And I had a little trouble following the chronology. Or maybe I didn't. See, that's the thing: I'm not sure if events were described from different points of view out of order or if they were just repeated. And it doesn't help that there aren't that many "events" to begin with. What events there are tend to happen many days or weeks apart and never seem to be that long. It's a mystery wherein the Inspector never seems to interrogate anyone for more than five minutes. But maybe those were the times.

I didn't spend any time thinking about it when I wasn't reading it, but I couldn't put it down once I picked it up. What is that all about?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Damn you Disney!

What do you think it means that I've had Disney songs stuck in my head since last night? Just snipets. Last night it was just,

"Bless my soul!
Herc is on a roll!
Duh nuh nuh nuh nuh."

again and again and again. And then something from Beauty And The Beast this evening, but the effort of congering up those Hercules lyrics has apparently wiped it. Oh- oh- wait for it- wait for it -

Damnit! "A Whole New World!" Where the hell did that come from?? Aladdin is my least favorite Disney movie. Some have said that I'm crazy, that clearly The Little Mermaid is the most heinous of our generation. But my money is on Aladdin because The Little Mermaid didn't have a #1 Billboard hit single to irritate you in and out of childocentric venues.

My brother, Aren, and I used to go to animated features together as teenagers and a little as adults, up until I left for graduate school. It's funny how easy it is to bond when you're the only people over ten and under forty in a theater. Also, the movies are way more enjoyable, because you laugh when the kids laugh (usually because the one sitting directly behind you will say something hilarious, like, "Mommy, I wish I had crabs! They're so funny!") AND when the parents laugh, plus you get to spend the rest of your time making snide comments and innuendo ("Yeah, he he, I bet he's all like, 'You've seen my carpet, now show me yours,' he he, he he.") We'd share a large coke, a large popcorn with butter and a box of red vines and try to get each other to snort coke out our noses (something neither of us ever does) or spill popcorn on our laps.

Living in Russia in '94 was probably the first time we really bonded as playmates. Up until that point we'd always had neighbor kids to play with, and my desire to play pioneers did not mesh with his desire to do anything BUT playing pioneers, especially if it also invovled making car noises. In Moscow we didn't have a choice about who to play with. We spent three months swimming, renting the most God-awful videos, watching them over and over, and watching the nascent cartoon network. To this day, the two of us can lip-sync along with Rookie of the Year like Christina Aguilera at a high school prom. I suspect that because we first bonded watching movies and feeling out of place, we've adopted the Disney Movie habit as a way of recreating that sensation. (Yes, I know: A duuuuuH!) We haven't done it in at least three years partly becasue I was living back east for two of them, and partly because there haven't been any movies that have made us say, "haha, that would be worth the $10 per ticket to spend an hour and a half making bad innuendos and listening to children ask loud questions with obvious answers in voices pitched like whispering without an actual lowering of amplitude!" I don't know if it says more about us or about kids movies these days.

Monday, November 13, 2006

America: Just say "No (deal)!" to Howie!

What is the deal with "Deal or No Deal?" Do people really believe that they have a "strategy?" Are they really that stupid?

Howie: Which case would you like to open?
Fat White Contestant: Well, my son - Jimmbo (that's with two "M"s, Howie!) - was born on October 25th, when I was 16 years old, so...
Howie: So, case 10, 25 or 16?
Fat White Contestant: What? Howie, what are you talking about? ::hysterical hyena laughter - pointing at Howie with thumb:: No, I want case 31!
Howie: Um, I'm sorry, but there is no case 31.
Fat White Contestant: Not 31, 3 and 1! Case 4! Open case 4 girly!
[audience cheers - girl opens case to reveal $10,000, eliciting roars of aprobation from the stands]
Fat White Contestant: See! See, Howie! I knew Jimmbo would come through for me!

I swear to God, if it weren't for... um, well, okay, I don't know why I'm not weeping silently to myself right now at the downfall of American culture (such as it is). Maybe because I still have leftover birthday cake waiting for me in the kitchen. If anyone can explain the appeal of "Deal or No Deal" as a "strategy game," I bid them do so! Unless their answer is, "Retards," because that I could come up with on my own.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Portland is awesome!

On Friday I took the streetcar down to the 6th & Market DMV to get my license renewed. We've had a lot of shitty weather lately and it was so awful. I get to the DMV and it's closed. For Veteran's Day. Until Tuesday. I had two thoughts at the exact same time: 1) HILARIOUS! 2) Goddamnittohell! There are very few people in the world that I expect to be aware of Veteran's Day, to not be caught off-guard by it's Federal Holiday bank closings and post office back up! Those people are:

1) Me
2) Leonardo DiCaprio
3) Calista Flockhart
4) Demi Moore
5) Stanley Tucci
6) My dad
7) Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
8) World War I veterans
9) The ghost of General Patton
10) The ghost of Dostoyevsky
11) The ghost of Abigail Adams

(Check my facts! Well, okay, you can't verify that I or my Dad were born on 11/11, but we were, and you'll just have to take my word for it.)

And I was! That's why I went on 11/10! But I forgot that if Armistice Day (as we call it, Old Skool) falls on a weekend, everyone is still entitled to their day off. I could not have predicted that the DMV would take Friday AND Monday. So I decided to run a couple of errands while I was downtown anyway, despite the miserable weather.

While I was walking from the DMV to the Central Library, I was stopped at a crosswalk waiting for the light to change next to this middle-aged guy in camo pants, black boots, REI/Columbia rain jacket and olive drab gortex hiking hat. He turns to me and says, "Can you believe this awful weather?" And he's smiling in that Portlander, "I know bad weather, and even I'm surprised by this weather!" kind of way. So I replied, "I know! It's just terrible!" And we had a little chat about the weather for the next block or so before our paths diverged. And I thought, "I love Portland!" I love that it's the kind of place where strangers talk to you on the street and smile and are pleasant and aren't scary psychopaths!

Then I went to the library to get a new library card. I've moved 13 times in the past 8 years - I counted - and at some point my Multnomah County Library Card disappeared. It turns out that since I haven't used it in at least half a decade, the system couldn't find me any way, so I would have had to get a new one whether I'd kept the old one or not. That library is SO nice. It's just beautiful, and the staff are helpful and nice, and it's just such a warm and inviting place. I remember going there as a little kid and how much I loved it. And it wasn't nearly as lovely a space then as it is now.

After the library I hit Portland Music, which smells like a library. I browsed through the sheet music, and although I didn't see anything I wanted, it was nice just to be in there. Then I went to Powells, the happiest place on earth on a rainy day. I gathered up the weirdest collection of "sale" books:

- Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
- Me & My Baby View The Eclipse by Lee Smith
- The Taming of The Duke, a super stereotypical-looking romance novel with a naked-chested man on the cover
- The Fig Eater, a turn of the century murder mystery that takes place in Vienna
- The Cartographer's Library, a mystery that claims it will take the investigator back 500 years to the theft of alchemical instruments! Eee!

The second one was to go with the third as a gift for my brother's girlfriend. Lee Smith has a great short story in MMBVE about trying to write a romance novel, and my brother's gf has never read a romance novel, so it seemed imperative to address that state of affairs. The first was for Pete, who after seeing a certain episode of Seinfeld has always wanted to see what all the rumpus is about. The third and fourth just looked neato!

I was all psyched for having to explain my purchases to an inquisitive staff person, but it was not to be. On busy Friday afternoons when Powells is packed with people escaping the rain, the clerks just stop caring about what crazy combinations of crap you happen to be buying on sale for $4-$7 a pop.

Nonetheless, I couldn't stop grinning all the streetcar ride home! It was a miserable, wet, cold, blustery, awful day, and yet somehow everyone was super nice, people smiled at each other on the street, drivers slowed down when going through puddles to avoid splashing as much as possible. This is just the nicest city and it's such a pleasure to spend time in it and to appreciate how fantastic it is! I implore anyone not living here to come and visit me and have the Portland Experience for themselves! Sure, it will probably be better to come when Pete and I have our own place, but if it has to be before then, then we'll find a place to put you up and we'll tote you around town to all the sites! The Japanese Gardens! The Rose Garden! Washington Park! Forest Park! New Seasons Grocery Store! (Don't scoff - I'm surprised it doesn't have a tour guide yet.) Powells City of Books! Portlandia! Other great crap that will make you go, "ooh! I love this city" and then maybe shed a tear, if you're the kind of person who cries really, really easily!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

English Needs Rain Words

For those of you living in the NW, you may agree that over the last weekend we only needed one word for "rain:" deluge. For those of you who don't live in the NW, we got about five inches of rain in two days (Sunday and Monday), and in some places as much as two feet since Thursday. The storm sewers in Portland flooded. The Wilson River (don't worry - I didn't know where that was either) flooded its banks and flowed down the Northward lanes of highway 101 through Tillamook. They had to completely shut down Highway 6, forcing people trying to get to Tillamook to take Highway 26 all the way to Seaside and then 101 to Tillamook. Which they could do because the Wilson River had only taken out the northbound lanes. The ocean eroded 30 feet of cliffside in two days. That is some serious rain.

But since Monday, at least in Portland, we've really been back to our normal rainy weather, which has once again brought to my attention the paucity of the English language for discussing rain. And we need better definitions for the words we do have. So I invite everyone to submit different rain words and help codify definitions for the ones we already have. I'll offer up some suggestions, but feel free to disagree.

Mist - like fog, but more "granular." You will get damp, but you won't know it's happening.
Misting - the act of raining via a mist.
Sprinkle - you can see the rain, but it's very sporadic, small drops.
Light Shower - consistent rain fall, small drops, "casually" falling - note: does not necessarily imply a large quantity of rainfall
Shower - consistent rain fall, medium drops, forcefully falling - note: does not necessarily imply a large quantity of rainfall
Heavy Shower - consistent, heavy rain fall, medium-large drops, being launched at the ground
Downpour - brief Heavy Shower
Deluge - days of heavy rain - note: implies a very large quantity of rainfall
Invisible Rain - you look out the window, you can't see it, but when you go outside, you can feel it
Crazy Rain - when the wind is blowing in all directions at once (and yet somehow also in no particular direction) and it picks up "patches" of rain and launches them at you, hitting you in random places on your body, making it impossible to stay dry or to predict what to cover in gortex.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Birthday Fever

I may get paid tomorrow, but then it's Gramma's birthday (11/5), Pete's birthday (11/6), Dad's birthday (11/11) and my birthday (11/11) all in a row. I have a feeling this pay check won't even make it out of the gate. When I was a kid, I used to dream about have a vast network of large underground chambers filled with toys and dress-up clothes, costume jewelry and endless pioneer-related young adult novels. I think that even then I understood that as "totally awesome" as said warren would be, eventually my interests and tastes would change and so would my concept of what would constitute a perfect state of material existence. But I never in a million years thought I would be so so boring as I am now. What is my ultimate perfect wish now? To eventually be able to save some money so that I could buy a house someday. Yep, when I think, "You know what would be totally awesome?" my interior monologue responds, "Yeah, makin' enough to save a little every month for maybe getting a house someday. Ooh, or maybe just to pay off my loans a little sooner!" My brain can't even get to the million-dollars-and-a-yacht route. I don't know if this means that I'm extremely practical or extremely boring (or maybe it doesn't mean anything at all), but somewhere deep inside
I can hear my inner-wannabe pioneer shouting, "No! Bonnets! You should totally get some bonnets ...and calico skirts ...and and and maybe ...ooh! You should get a WAGON! Seriously! you need a WAGON!"

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Shows that would be better with my mom's title

- And You Think You Can Dance
- The Greatest Loser

Linguistics Paper Idea 1: Variation, Syntax, Semantics/Pragmatics

Okay, so from time to time I hope to use his as a venue for all the ideas I have for lx (=linguistics; that's just how we roll, baby!) papers/research in areas I am woefully under-qualified to even think about. In fact, posting them at all is probably an affront to both God and mankind, but dagnabbit if I ain't filled with 'em! So post them I will. I will try to give them an easily searchable header (as above) that will let the reader know approximately how many brilliant ideas have come before as well as which sub-areas of lx they concern.

Observation: My lovely boyfriend, P, is driven nuts by the combined use of the intensifier really and various downtoners (hedges) as modifiers of adjectives (and usually adjectives that already represent one end of the spectrum they describe). He thinks it's stupid and contradictory. Let's have some examples! (Feel free to post other examples of such a phenomenon in the comments!)

Example 1) "You know, you're really kinda' wonderful."
Example 2) "I like your new computer." "Yeah, it's really pretty sweet, huh?" (Note: pretty would usually seem to be an intensifier to me in "pretty sweet" when used without the really, but in this case, doesn't it seem like a hedge?)
Example 3) "That movie was just really sorta' awful."

Whether or not it is a stupid or contradictory way to speak, it has entered the "parlance of our times." Here are my investigatory questions:

- Is this localized to the west coast? I hear it on TV, but a lot of TV is made in LA or written by people who grew up or are currently living in that area.
- Is use determined by age or gender? Is this a teenage/young adult/generation Y/Pepsi generation kind of thing?
Corollary: What in the hell is my generation called anyway?
- Is use predicated by any particular behavior, situation, environment, etc?

- What is really modifying? The downtoner or the adjective?
- (And here we will see how little I understand about Syntax; please don't judge me too harshly!) Could the downtoner be in the spec position of AP? If so, how would that change meaning?

- Could commonly hedged adjectives have become semantically new concepts? Is pretty sweet different from pretty + sweet?
- Why hedge and then intensify? What purpose does it serve?

Anyway, that's my idea. While I hope that it is useful to someone, I'd settle for just interesting. Please share your thoughts on the matter! Are there other ideas for investigation that I'm missing? Is this not really all that interesting? Has someone already studied this? Are you living somewhere other than the NW and you've heard this kind of sentence structure?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pot can lead to stroke, but where does "The Bachelor" get you?

Today I learned that I have a job until at least the end of January! Hooray! I also learned today that there are three known cases of adolescent male potheads dying of stroke. It was in the Journal of Pediatrics, so it must be true! Still, I like the idea that if you smoke too much weed even your blood gets lethargic. It clots, sits on your brain and just goes, "It's hard circulating and shit. Dude, just, just give up."

It is so so cold here today. I'm sure those of you living in parts of the world where it actually gets super cold would be like, "You are such a wimp," but for Portland, it is just about as cold as it gets. It's 45 degrees right now, but it was 39 when I went to work this morning at 7. It's also windy, and the air is beautifully crisp and clear, but my God, it chills you right to the bone.

Okay, so I was going to post a picture of Portland in the fall (I don't have one because I keep forgetting to take one) and my search for "Portland autumn" turned up a picture, titled "Autumn," of a half-naked girl I may have gone to college with. So nevermind.

Although thinking about people I used to go to school with in (possibly) compromising positions leads me (naturally) to The Bachelor: Rome. One of the final four contestants is a girl I went to high school with (Lisa). I don't know if she's still in the running (we DVR'd it because it's just too weird to see someone you totally recognize on TV to miss it, but we weren't willing to miss Heroes to watch it live), but if she is, you should totally check it out.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Please name my cat.

I have plenty to blog about when I'm at work. I think of dozens of things every day that would make interesting, thoughtful posts. And then I get home and become Queen of the Brain Damaged. Maybe it's because at work my brain is free to delve the depths of the human condition (or at least to do lit searches on a variety of health-related topics) while at home the thing that seems to preoccupy my thoughts more than anything else is: how does the kitten's tiny ass produce such enomously disgusting smells?

The kitten (pictured here in her August size), by the way, still does not have a name. We've had her since July and cannot pick a proper monkier. The Humane Society called her Domino, probably because she's black with white toes, nose and chest. She has the longest tail of any cat - juvinile or adult - I've ever seen, so we've been calling her Monkey most recently. (It pretty much wraps around her whole body.) For a little while in the beginning she was called Holly for Holly Golightly who couldn't (or wouldn't) name her cat, because it was taking us so long to pick a name. Then she was Mica because of her eye color (Mom's suggestion).
But nothing sticks. Mom's newest suggestion is something canine-related because she'll eat anything, much like a dog. The kitten doesn't answer to "Fido" any more than she did to Holly or Monkey. She did answer to "Heidi" once or twice, but as that's the other cat's name it's not really a solution.
This second picture is much more recent - less than a week old. If you can think of a name for this cat, I suggest that you suggest it! And nothing to do with her markings. My uncle has already suggested the following:
  • Socks
  • Boots
  • Mittens
  • White Paws
  • Shoes
He may also be responsible for "Bibs," but that's not going to fly either.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

So after two years in Maryland, I'm back in Portland and hotdamn if it isn't good to be back! I could probably fill this whole blog with posts about things I hated about Maryland (or as I like to call it, "Craphole") but that doesn't sound very healthy. Or fun to read. But it might be cathartic... Anyway, that's not what I'm going to do. I imagine such comparisons will likely make their way into my posts, but hopefully only from time-to-time and without being too hard on poor Craphole. I mean Maryland. Right.