Thursday, October 28, 2010

Drowning in Art

Well, I wouldn't call it "art." Right now it's just "stuff." CCA is a shit ton of work. Hardest job I've ever had. The fire hose of work never ends.

So far, in the past two months I've:
  • made one chopstick sculpture (see above)
  • created one rectilinear model made first out of clay, then remade in florist's foam which was then gesso'ed, sanded, spackled, sanded, gesso'ed, sanded, painted, sanded, spackled, sanded and repainted
  • created a wooden sculpture made from three pieces of scrap wood that were planed, sanded, glued together, cut into a pyramid, sanded, then recut in two places and assembled into a sculpture, sanded, stained, sanded, restained
  • made a base for the wooden sculpture which was cut, sanded, routed, wood puttied, sanded and covered in four coats of stain
  • painted three color charts, one a color wheel, one a grey value scale and one a chart of 150 tiny squares of color (that took a few weeks to get through - a real pleasure)
  • cut a mandala out of a map of colorado with an xacto knife, cutting out tiny chicken, cow and semi truck silhouettes along with the mcdonald's logo
  • painted a ginormous color wheel to go behind said mandala which was also 'laminated' with packing tape before cutting, for durability, and reinforced with wire on the back for stability
  • drew 40 thumbnails across two large sheets of bristol paper which were then painted, taking only about 300 hours and four tubes of acrylic paint
  • written two brief papers on visits to local museums
  • printed nine final color photo prints which took a total of about 400 hours and maybe 150 sheets of Fuji paper
  • printed 10 final black & white prints which surprisingly took only about 200 hours and maybe only 100 sheets of Illford paper
  • developed four rolls of black & white film, which includes rolling the film onto the reels in total darkness, working with fantastic chemicals and drying the film
  • had nine rolls of color film processed
  • cut all that film into negative strips for contact sheets
  • printed umpteen contact sheets
  • made countless test strips - both color and black & white
  • aced two quizzes & got a solid B on another
  • eaten four large bags of trader joe's trail mix, 117 power bars, way too many Burrito Shop tacos and drank dozens of Naked Green juices
  • drank 812 cups of fully caffeinated coffee, which should concern every last one of you walking this planet with me
If nothing else, it turns out that I have a gift for rolling film onto reels in complete darkness. Takes me all of two minutes with perfect rolling every time and even my cuts, trimming the film at both ends, are perfectly straight. That part I love. Pouring the chemicals & agitating the canister for 20 minutes? Not so much.

Next up - art history mid term, final project for color photo and several more assignments for my other classes.

While it's extremely challenging and very enjoyable for the most part, the quantity over quality issue is concerning, but it is only my first year. Maybe this is the norm, to simply expose you to as much of the basics as possible before taking advanced classes.

The thing is, though, a sleep-deprived, brain-mushed student at a traditional college probably won't lose a finger on a table saw. It could still happen, but seems unlikely. At CCA, this seems very likely, especially when I hear my classmates talking about staying up until 5am to finish projects. Granted, they're probably not working on homework all those hours, but that's part of college life and should be expected.

At any rate, somehow I'm getting it all done and staying caught up. That surprises me almost every day. That, and my ability to study art history while driving to school and eat a sandwich with one hand while moving a print through developer, stop and fixer with the other.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Um, Yeah...

Tomorrow is my first day of school at CCA. I suspect that not only will I be at least 20 years older than 99% of the entire student body, but perhaps older than most of the instructors as well.

I just colored my hair to cover up the grey but it won't take long for the roots to come in. From far away, I'll blend right in, clad in my signature 15-year-old boy style - cargo pants, old t-shirt and hoodie. A real Monet. Get close and it'll be painfully obvious how many years I've had in the saddle. Of which I'm very proud, I might add.

The best part is knowing now what I didn't know 20 years ago. It'll still be a lot of work, but now I know how to prioritize and work smarter. Sure, that'll only be so helpful when I'm trying to learn how to sculpt something, but hey, confidence has gotta be 90% of the equation, so all I really have to do is sell my work, right?. "This isn't just an ashtray... this represents everything wrong with our world today - you see it, right?"

Great side benefit of going to art school - cheap & easy Christmas presents. Ashtrays, candy dishes, spoon rests and cheese plates. Just you wait - they'll be worth tens of cents in years to come.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Party Lines

This morning my mom forwarded a blast email to me and her friends from the Carly campaign, which I always enjoy because it gives me an opportunity to respond and provide additional perspective the politician doesn't include.

Carly is anti-choice, so right there I can't vote for her, but more than that, she is not at all as qualified or as successful as she'd like everyone to believe. (And let's not forget, McCain fired her dumb ass for repeatedly fugging up on his campaign.)

I read her book, which was mediocre at best, and in it you learn that the idea to buy compaq wasn't hers. It was the idea of two board members and most thought it was a bad idea (and it was a struggle to convince everyone it was a good move). She latched onto it, looking for a major event that would make her look like a huge wheeler-dealer.

She effectively managed the merger, but didn't live up to her promises to turn HP around in three years' time, which ultimately is why she was sacked, not because she has a vagina.

I'd rather have the option of voting for Tom Campbell, but because we allow politicians to buy their way into elections (like NutMeg Twitman), he's no longer an option because he couldn't compete with Carly's self-financed war chest (she left HP with over $40 million).

Like NutMeg, she's bored, has lots of cash to burn and loves a high-profile gig. She couldn't care less about California or its citizens.

Additional fun facts about Carly:
Fiorina Admitted Keeping HP Profits Overseas Even Though It Hurt U.S. Economy. Carly Fiorina said, "We left billions of dollars in cash overseas because of the differences in tax rates..." [Fiorina Remarks, Milwaukee, WI]

Hewlett-Packard Held $14 Billion In Profit Overseas To Avoid Paying Taxes. [Washington Post, 1/2/04] [also, in the midst of laying off tens of thousands of workers, she kept all the corporate jets – way to cut spending, Carly]
According to Fortune magazine:
[During Fiorina's tenure] HP lost its position as the #1 PC maker to Dell, saw their stock price cut in half, and laid off 18,000 workers. These are the numbers that are clear. Fiorina’s claim that she created jobs is simply a lie. In fact, Portfolio magazine rated Fiorina the “19th Worst CEO of All Time” saying:

A consummate self-promoter, Fiorina was busy pontificating on the lecture circuit and posing for magazine covers while her company floundered. She paid herself handsome bonuses and perks while laying off thousands of employees to cut costs. The merger Fiorina orchestrated with Compaq in 2002 was widely seen as a failure. She was ousted in 2005 [with a $21 million dollar severance, plus another $21 million or so in stock and her pension, which was not included in the severance package]. HP stock lost half its value during Fiorina’s tenure.
Even a fellow conservative is no fan of Carly:
Arianna Packard, granddaughter of one of HP's founders, has attacked Fiorina, writing on the conservative Web site "I know a little bit about Carly Fiorina, having watched her almost destroy the company my grandfather founded." Packard favors Chuck Devore, the state assemblyman who is trailing both Fiorina and former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell in most polls of the race.
For the record, I don't think any politician is trustworthy or has anyone's interest at heart other than his or her own, and I sure as shit can't vote for anyone who is anti-choice/anti-equality. That anyone could, simply because she belongs to the same party one supports, should buy a plane ticket to Jonestown and get some of that tasty kool-aid that'll save your soul.

But I digress...

I didn't attack anyone on the distribution list, I just provided additional information as outlined above. Sadly, one of my mother's friends, who instead of going through menopause entered a perpetual state of PMS, responded directly to me to let me know she didn't appreciate my comments.

Was it too much trouble to just delete my message? Couldn't muster up a logical response and join the discussion? Apparently not. Which I find sad. She could have some valuable perspective to add to the debate, but instead, she did the lazy thing and reacted emotionally.

She chose to attack me personally for views that don't agree with hers. Which is why our country never moves forward, but just steadily toward the great abyss.

I love that my father, one of the staunchest conservatives I know and a wonderful man of logic, will engage in a productive debate on any topic. I learn a lot from him - I can only hope he learns something from me now & then - but we move forward better informed. We may not always share the same philosophies, but I would *much* rather hear his side of things than not. To ignore him simply because I don't agree with his views puts me at a loss.

This 'friend' of my mother's should pull her head out of her ass and be part of the solution, but that would take effort. Apparently she's got hers and the rest of us can take a flying leap. Oh, and she'll never read this post, as that too would take effort, so, lady, you can suck it.

Go ahead and vote with your Democraps and Republicants regardless of their policies, lack of integrity and backbone and watch how nothing ever changes. Keep subscribing to the same old bullshit non-thinking emotional tactics and then complain about each other gumming up the works.

The sheep may outnumber the wolves, but that can't last forever.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Working Girl

I am a working girl. I shake my money maker for a living, which as it turns out, happens to be a camera, which I don't shake as much as I gingerly transport to various locations to make pretty pictures for clients.

It's fun work, which is why I love it. I grew tired of crying at my desk at my last corporate job so I made a change. Best decision I ever made. That, and buying a juicer.

Now, just because it's fun, and not, say, curing cancer or cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, doesn't make it any less important - to me. It's how I make my living and people tell me I'm good at it, so it would seem I'm on the right track.

I mention this because... Yesterday I watched an episode of the Rachel Zoe Project - don't judge me - it's fascinating to watch such a tiny, frail creature walk and talk like a real human.

I'm sure I watch her show for the same reason I like watching Kell on Earth, The City and one or two of the Real Housewives - women making their way in the world. I dig it. I've been a working girl for over 20 years - I identify with independent ladyfolk.

There is a point to all this... stay with me...

During the show, Rachel and her hubby are in New York for fashion week, having flown in a few days early to enjoy the city before the shows start. She gets a phone call from Naomi "Slappy" Campbell who's doing a charity fashion show and wants Rachel to style it.

Of course she's going to say yes - IT'S HER JOB. Her husband starts whining and carrying on about how he won't get to spend any time with her after all. She seemed to feel guilty about taking the job, stuck between a slappy rock & a whiny hard place, whereas I don't know if a man would feel guilt about taking on the work, or just annoyed at having a whiny spouse.

Now, if the tables were turned and HE had some "important" job and a client called needing his services, maybe Rachel would whine about it, but it would be dismissed as her being a baby and get over it honey cause daddy's gotta make a living so go shopping and buy yourself a hat.

I couldn't help but be annoyed by his reaction to her saying yes to a huge job, especially when her entire business depends on that phone ringing (and a silly reality show where she repeatedly says "major," but you get my point).

Except for not having my own reality show and never saying "major," that's pretty much how my business runs. I am dependent on someone deciding to pick up the phone to call and hire me. I don't (yet) have the luxury of saying No. What I said No to was a dreary 9-to-5 slogfest that makes me want to light shit on fire and stab people in the neck with pens.

Anyway... my point...

I get the feeling that, in general, working women still aren't taken seriously, or their jobs, by men. Like we're just playing Worky Lady but our *real* job is cleaning up the mess in the kitchen after cooking all the food. It's irrelevant what that job is, whether it's building rockets or playing with bracelets.

I say this because I've dealt with this first-hand. There are days when I am slammed with post-processing after shooting a large job. This is work that cannot be put off or done only between the hours of X and Y. It has to be done when it has to be done, which I can never predict, and that's how the job goes.

There was one time when I got the whiny "how much longer do you have to do that" response to me having to miss out on some TV to finish a job. Yes, I do have to do this now and I don't know for how much longer so you're going to have to put your big pants on and get yourself your own lollipop.

I'm sorry - that sounds shitty - but it was disappointing to realize that what I was doing wasn't taken as seriously as some other sort of job like, playing computer games. Turn the tables and you don't ever see me hanging in the doorway with a droopy lip wondering when we can go out & play. I'm happy to do my own thing until work is done, which, for the record, happens at least 75% of the time, because daddy's gotta make a living and I'm happy to let him make the hell out of it.

My point...

Boys, in my opinion, still aren't comfortable with girls saddling up and doing their own thing. Some may be - I think I know a few who are - though I wonder if they'd be supportive and understanding of the demands of their ladies' jobs and not get a little whiny if it started to cut in to playtime.

Of course all of this is based on the bulletproof scientific data of my one experience and the Rachel Zoe Project, which is totally major.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

On Demand Lazy

(I had this radio, in mint green - LOVED it.)

It's true... On-demand programming is making us even more lazy than we've already become, and I know lazy - it was my major in college.

The other day I tweeted that I was waiting for Click & Clack to start on NPR when someone responded that I should just download the podcast. I have, when I used to commute into the city. I loved listening to Ricky Gervais's podcasts on Bart - made it fun, and Bart is never fun.

But now I rarely have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time I can devote to hovering near my computer and I don't use my iPod anymore. I suppose I could while vacuuming or something, but see above re. lazy. I vacuum about as often as I churn butter.

When I'm driving all over the Bay Area for work, I'm always tuned in to (or tuning back to) KCBS for traffic updates. With an older car that uses an older iPod adapter, I couldn't negotiate between that and the radio without driving off the road. Just too much trouble.

I grew up listening to the radio. It was always on when I was wee - Mom listened to KCBS at home and in the car she listened to a classical station. (KKHI?)

I got a transistor radio for my sixth birthday and ran down the battery every night listening to KFRC. Before too long I upgraded to an AC model I could leave on 24/7, which I did. My brothers and I made cassette tapes from radio broadcasts, some of which I still have.

Through high school and college I was always tuned in to KFOG, KQAK, KITS and sometimes KFJC and KSCU. Not a lot of variety in the Bay Area, but I grew to love DJs on every station - friendly voices connected to the big wide world beyond my little neighborhood.

What I loved most was finally hearing my favorite song come on after listening to a bunch of stuff I didn't like. Enduring 45 minutes of mediocre stuff just to get to the best 3 minutes of the hour teaches one patience, and you can do other things during that time.

Listening to a podcast means devoting a solid half hour to active listening, without any convenient commercial breaks. Forget pausing - where's the sport in pausing any time you want? In MY day, we had to learn how to pee, make a sandwich and get a drink all within 3 minutes' time.

Not only that, but you can learn lots of fun info from a good DJ. Trivia about bands, upcoming tour dates, who's in rehab, etc. Stuff I'm sure is all over the internet today, but who has time to go look up all that random crap?

Plus, if you knew a certain show was going to be on, you made a date to listen. If you missed it, you missed it. No downloading the program later like a lazy ass. You had to care about showing up to tune in.

You kids can keep your on-demand podcasts. As Elvis Costello said, Radio! Radio!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My Summer of Ass

I was really looking forward to this summer. Thought it might be a true summer vacation like I've not enjoyed in many years, where you can loll away the warm days doing whatever, whenever...

All in all, things were going pretty well. Before David accepted a great new job, we enjoyed many afternoons running together on Bay Farm Island... going to BBQs... seeing movies... Had a nice trip to Oregon with the family... Then things took a bit of a dark turn... meteorologically and, uh... rectally.

The fog came in. Hardcore. Weeks of cold, dark, overcast days.
That turned out to be the least of my problems.

This is not a post I want to write, but I feel I must as I have learned so much about colorectal health in the past few weeks, I'm compelled to share if only to maybe help just one other person avoid a truly heinous hemorrhoid experience.

First - almost everyone on this planet will deal with this situation at some point in his or her lifetime. All you people walking around with a smile on your face but a slight hitch in your giddyup - we know. You're not fooling anyone. It sucks. But I have information that may help you.

Second - if you're not sure what's going on back there, get thee to your doctor and make sure everything is copacetic. With the prevalence of colon cancer in our country, better safe than sorry.

Third - stone root. Buy this herbal tincture, thank it for all it's going to do for you, and use the ever loving shit out of it. More on this in a moment.

Fourth - fiber. Duh, I know, but getting enough can be a challenge and it can take a little time to acclimate your body to an increased amount.

Finally - water. I've gotten into a bad habit of not getting enough every day. Working on improving that, as staying hydrated is a huge advantage in warding off constipation.

Which brings me to my sad, painful story. This whole thing started not because of constipation - it was quite the opposite. Something made me ill and I was making frequent visits to the john. It seemed to be an effortless purge, but evidently my insides were not happy. Diarrhea can cause hemorrhoids - I never knew that before.

But whatever - it wasn't any big deal - we have the typical OTC ointments and creams - I was sure those would take care of it. I was wrong.

For some reason, this internal swollen vein was very angry and not going to go away quietly. I tried everything we had on-hand and nothing helped. Witch hazel - meh. Prep-H - useless - and it smells awful.

The only other thing we had was a benzocaine ointment, which, as it turned out, I may be allergic to. It seemed to work at first, and then things took a troubling turn. In addition to the venous problem, I now had an ass rash. Just the way you want to spend your summer, am I right?

You can't imagine how uncomfortable it was going for a run with THAT going on back there. Makes me cry all over again just thinking about it. And you can't scratch - you can't - you'll regret it - trust me. [still crying]

So I scoured the internets for information. The very best thing I found, a true miracle herb, is stone root. Get the tincture and follow the directions on the label, usually 1-2 dropperfuls (30-40 drops) in a small glass of water, 3-4x a day.

Not sure if that's a daily maintenance dose or a 'medicinal' dose during troubled times... I'll use a smaller daily dose for maintenance & see how it goes.

After just one day, it helped me immensely. It didn't take care of the ass rash, but thankfully I found Tucks at - hydrocortisone - and that cleared it up pronto and killed the itch.

Also - huge thanks to my good friend "Sacajawea" for recommending Calmoseptine. She endured horrendous hemorrhoids (and a fissure) while pregnant. As its name implies, it's a wonderfully calming salve that feels utterly delicious on suffering skin. I might start using it all the time just because it feels that good.

But - but - I tried something else with the stone root that I can't recommend, of course, but I didn't think it would do me any harm. I put 4-5 drops on a damp cotton ball and used that as you would witch hazel, and I'm telling you - miracle.

But beware, the tincture has a good amount of alcohol in it and if you have any sensitive areas, it will sting like a bastard, but that's how you know it's working.

Really, I didn't care about the sting. I just wanted to speed up the process and I'm convinced it did. Shit, if I'm drinking it, what harm can it do to my ass? In just a few days' time, it totally cured my problem. I'll keep using it for maintenance and hope this never happens again.

So, with your stone root, take your horse chestnut and butcher's broom (I took a double dose) - you can find both in one capsule from Planetary Herbals - I'm sure there are other, similar products - and get your fiber & water.

I also increased my vitamin C to 4 grams daily, as C is the foundation of all our connective tissue & speeds healing.

Vitamin A is supposed to be beneficial for vein health, so I concocted a vegetable fruit smoothie with lots of fiber & colon-happy stuff. Such as...
- the juice of 3-4 carrots or enough to make 1/2-1 cup juice
- 1/4-1/2 cup of the fine carrot fiber from the juicer bin
- 1 medium (or two small) apples, peels included, cored, diced
- 1 banana (for texture, vitamins/minerals)
- 1 scoop Organic Frog Greens Today or a 2-3 cups fresh greens
- 1 cup crushed ice
- 2-3 Tbs ground flax seed
- 1-2 Tbs honey
and if you want it, a scoop of protein powder (I use brown rice as I don't like soy & am allergic to dairy/whey.)

Blend the crap outta that for a few minutes then enjoy slowly. It's a meal in a glass, not a quaff. It'll take you some time to get through it, but it's worth it. And it's not so high-fiber that you'll be cramping in an hour - it's mellow

But if you're not used to high-fiber meals, leave out the flax seed and the carrot pulp at first - add those in gradually over time. Keep the apple peels though - lots of good stuff in those.

Finally, if you can, get yourself a standing desk so you're not sitting all day long - that's no good anyway, especially for your ass. And do your Kegels - helps keep all those muscles down there toned, and you can do them anywhere, any time.

I never thought I'd have such a problem, being fairly active, never sitting still for long, eating as healthy as I do (the occasional doughnut aside) and being as regular as Old Faithful. Just goes to show you, you never really know what's going on in your butt.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dear Ned

Dear Ned,
You really scared the scat outta me the other day when I walked into the bedroom to change my clothes and saw you standing in the backyard, staring at me through the window.

We've lived here 10 years and have never before seen a live deer anywhere on this island and then BLAM - you appeared in our backyard like it was your regular summer retreat.

You happened to arrive on a Sunday, when all city and county offices are closed, such as Animal Control and the Department of Fish & Game.

The police answered the phone, but couldn't have cared less about a deer hangin in the city. Just so you know, I did not phone the Oakland PD.

Amazingly enough, none of our neighbors were home while you were here. We had you all to ourselves. Had I not snapped a few photos, you could have been a hallucination. Even my parents didn't believe me at first.

Of all the stories one might make up - really? Why would I lie about a deer in our backyard? Anyway...

I just wanted you to know how much we enjoyed your visit; watching you leap effortlessly over the back fence to eat our neighbor's plants, scarfing up the oats I put out for you and curling up for a nap under the giant sequoia.

We miss you but hope you got home safely.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Can't Eat Home Again

Had a lovely visit at the parents' house a couple of weeks ago, but next time I'll have to bring along a travel pantry of steel cut oats, Organic Frog greens powder, ground flax seed, brown rice protein powder and a truck load of vegetables.

Once was, we were not allowed to eat white bread, sugared cereals or anything that wasn't healthy. Hated that dry, crumbly bread back then, but now whole wheat/mulitgrain is the only bread we keep in the house.

Nowadays, Mom loves the buttermilk white bread, mass market cereals with carcinogenic BHT preservatives and even pork rinds - a lovely birthday gift from a friend. Thoughtful friend, eh?

We had ribs for dinner a couple of nights & one night Dad made delicious BBQ corn. Our last night in town, we had amazing salmon and a great salad. Certainly not a bad menu, but some of us need a little more fiber in our lives. Consistent like.

Other than the salad, I don't think I saw a single vegetable. (Corn is a grain - wah wah!) On top of that, Mom made a decadent "coke cake" - a chocolate cake made with cola and frosted with an entire box of powdered sugar. Just one piece can cause diabetes.

Dad made his amazing lemon pancakes & sausage one morning which lasted me all day, but for lunch, Mom offered homemade potato onion soup. It smelled wonderful, but after the pancakes & sausage, I wasn't hungry! If I had been, what I needed was some sort of high-fiber colon blow buffet.

There was fruit - peaches, bananas, melon & berries. I found instant oatmeal in the pantry and had that with fresh fruit for breakfast. I also found the Costco mixed nuts - that was handy - and the dry scrub growing behind the house really packs a fiber whallop.

I don't know how they do it. They're in excellent health, enjoying cocktails every evening at 5pm, wine or beer with delicious low-fiber dinners followed by Box O Sugar cake and coffee. I would be in rehab with life-threatening intestinal blockage. They really are the stronger generation, in so many ways. Time to take my Metamucil.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

No More Inside Voice

What is with kids these days? Also, GET OFF MY LAWN!

Seriously - the screaming. Enough. You want to play outside and scream bloody murder? OK - here's your bloody murder - happy to oblige.

We are *surrounded* by screaming kids on all sides. Across the street, both next door neighbors and the neighbors behind us. All. Have. Screaming. Fugging. Kids.

It's not a fun, gleeful scream of joy - it's balls out screaming like their heads are on fire and their tiny hands are exploding in front of their eyes. I'm currently shopping for a high-powered tranquilizer rifle if you know where I can find one.

I remember when I was little and played outside. There was no screaming unless my brother Peter was stabbing me in the eye with a red hot poker, which only happened a few times.

When my brothers and I played together, the only screaming was from our mother if we were getting too close to the flowers or about to break a window.

Even when rocketing down the incredibly safe Slip 'n Slide®, hurtling straight into a hedge of sharp juniper bushes, there was no screaming. Crying maybe, but no screaming.

When my brother fell backward & broke his wrist, there was no screaming. When he slammed his knee into a sprinkler head and split it wide open, there was no screaming. When he fell head-first out of the pine tree and onto the driveway, there was no screaming.

So, it would seem, kids today are total pussies that have no imagination and so little intelligence, all they can do to express themselves is scream. What a joy they must be to live with.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Fugging Hormones

Boy, is it fun being a woman in her early forties. All that's missing is the funnel cake and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Every month something else changes - nothing is stable anymore. Just when I think I've adjusted to the new routine, it changes again.

There used to be a predictable schedule - recognizable events, which now are a jumble and occur at seemingly random times of the month.

No longer can I expect my face to asplode with fantastic zits a week before The Bleed - now it happens throughout the month, whenever it feels like it.

The Bleed starts, stops, then - Surprise! - returns for a day or so just in case I was starting to miss it.

No longer am I moody and depressed for just a few days before my period - now it's pretty much throughout the month. Most days, if I didn't have to leave the house for work or other critical reasons, like for coffee, I'd never change out of my fleece robe.

Now, in just the last couple of months, I'm having trouble falling asleep at night. Me. The one my family was certain had narcolepsy, the one who could sleep anywhere (and most of the time still can).

When I get into bed at night, tired and sleepy and happy to indulge in 7 hours on the Tempurpedic, I lie there wide awake. Thinking about nothing. Just awake. Not asleep. Not even close. Sometimes for over an hour.

And the newest event I'm not at all pleased with - one morning a few weeks ago I woke up soaking wet. That was neat. I'd been swimming laps in bed. Or maybe I'd just peed myself. A lot. All over. What a lovely way to start the day.

This is just straight up bullshit. All of it. I don't want any part of it.

I am not Suzanne Somers with limitless access to personal physicians who can administer delicious bioidentical hormones in the perfect amounts to stave this off for however long. That would be nice... I wonder if Blue Shield covers that.

For now, I stand in the vitamin aisle at Trader Joe's reading the back of the Estroven package unwilling to put it in the basket, thinking Not yet... I'm only 43... I can't need this... yet...

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Other Ply

Money's been a little tight lately so I've hit the sales & looked for discounts everywhere I can.

For months I've been buying cheap toilet paper, trying to find something between a Sears catalog and billowy quilted cotton pillows hand sewn by tiny fingers in developing nations.

It wasn't so bad - exfoliating is good, right?

Then I had a photo gig at a ginormous house owned by a very successful realtor. Before leaving I asked to use the bathroom.

Oh how I'd missed the billowy quilted luxuriously soft cotton pillows hand sewn by tiny fingers in developing nations. It felt so nice, I couldn't go home to the Sears catalog sitting beside our toilet.

Never again will I go back to rough hewn ass scratching rolls of tree bark. Life is too short to use cheap toilet paper.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Real Housewrecks

It's true. I watch The Real Housewives of [insert city full of crazy women]. It started with the Orange County babes, after having enjoyed a season or two of The OC ("Califorrrniaaaa...").

At first, it was fun. They were mostly silly, even funny most of the time, with an acceptable amount of bitch thrown in here & there. Good, clean, rot-your-brain fun.

Then before too long, The Real Housewives of New York premiered and I had to tune in. New York City! The Hamptons! Step and Repeat! I didn't even know what that was before tuning in - I learn so much from TV.

Sadly, after a season or two, both shows went downhill fast. The bitch factor went up 400% and the silly, fun ladies were replaced by nasty, backstabbing bitches. The mean factor is astonishing, and maybe that's why I kept watching.

I don't have sisters and am pretty much a loner. I have a few good girlfriends, but they're loner-ish, like me. We don't travel in packs.

Women can be scary, on many levels, especially when in groups. We're deeply twisted and complex. Probably shouldn't be trusted with anything sharper than a spatula.

On top of the intrinsic scary factor of women in groups, it's fascinating and disturbing to watch how celebrity has affected these women. I don't understand it, but like a train wreck, I can't not look at it. Though there are a couple of exceptions...

In NY, who could have guessed that Alex, Ramona & Bethenny would have turned out to be the most normal & grounded? In OC, the smart women left the show early on - Lauri & Jo. And I must say, so glad Tamra left her bitchy, controlling husband - that was wonderful to see.

But the rest of these ladies are insane. Bananas. It seems they must be good for ratings, which is sad. It's not entertaining to watch women tear each other apart - it's just depressing.

And Kelley - Kelley Bensobatshitcrazy - whoa, betty. What. the. fuck. is. happening. there? It's too much. The entertainment factor is gone, baby, gone. All that's left is wreckage and it's sad.

So, I've moved on... my new Lady Hero is Kelly Cutrone, owner/superwoman of People's Revolution. Hardcore business woman who will also do all she can to mentor the young'uns. Truly great to see and rare to find. We need more Kelly Cutrones in the world.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun with the Census

I don't mean to be an ass - I just can't help myself sometimes. I know the census is important - it's important to know how many of us there are and where we live - I get that. I'm all for it. I even liked the TV ads with Ed Begley Jr. and Jennifer Coolidge.

Then I got the first postcard telling me I'd soon receive my census form and how important it was that I send it back right away. After the nonstop media blitz on TV and radio, they also spent money to mail a postcard about mailing the form?

Then I got the second postcard telling me I'd soon receive my census form and how important it was that I send it back right away. So, now they've spent money to mail two postcards in addition to the form... Riiight.

Then the form arrived and I gave it a thorough review. It asks how many people live here, what our names are, our birth dates AND how old we are - noodle on that - if anyone else lives here, if we live somewhere else part of the year, and curiously, do we rent or own our residence. Why in the world does our government need to know that information?

And why in the world does the government want to know if I'm Hispanic, Latina or Spanish? Portuguese doesn't rate? What are we, chopped linguiƧa?

I was annoyed by all the questions that seem irrelevant to the purpose of the census, which is simply to count the citizens of the country. Enumerate. Not inventory, catalog, sort, or otherwise classify - just count. Can you count, gubment? Never mind - we know the answer to that question.

So instead of answering the rest of the questions on the form, I wrote only "02 Adults" and enclosed a print out of the Constitution's section about enumeration and Merriam-Webster's definition of enumeration, mailed it back (right away!), and waited to see what would happen...

As I suspected... my less-than-compliant response garnered a visit from a lovely woman bearing a clipboard and a binder, ready to take down all the information I didn't supply on the form. However, she claimed that "the office" never received my form, which I find hard to believe. The US Postal Service still works remarkably well.

I politely told her I'd mailed back my form right away with the critical information she needed - "02." She wasn't appeased. She continued to press and I politely continued to refuse to answer any other questions. Frustrated, she finally left.

Then she came back the next day! You have to admire the tenacity. We replayed the same exchange we'd had the day before and once again, she left with only a big fat zero two. On her way off the porch she asked if there might be a better time to come back and I cheerfully said Nope - my answers won't be any different any other time.

That was about a week ago and yesterday a different census worker paid us a visit - this woman was younger, not as easygoing, with a stern expression and a no-nonsense bun in her hair. She had her clipboard out, ready to drill me with questions when I stopped her and gave her the same answer I've given, officially, three times now: 02.

She also claimed that "the office" hadn't received my form (bullshit!) and to ensure they would have an accurate count, she had to have our names. I asked her how that works.

If I sent in the form that says "02" and I told the other woman two people live here and now I'm telling her that two adults live here, what other possible count could she have for this address? Are they *adding* the numbers instead of comparing them?

If I told her my name was Ernie and the other person who lives here is called Bert, does that eliminate the confusion? Ernie is resident 01 and Bert is resident 02 - done.

At this point, it's fascinating to me how much time & money they've wasted trying to get information about me and my "house mate" when they could go online and in five minutes, without leaving the comfort of an Aeron chair and for a fraction of what they're paying census workers, find out way more than the census is asking.

Then today, as if they already know way more about me than they're letting on, I was visited by yet another census worker - at a house I don't even live in!

I was photographing a vacant house for a real estate agent when I heard a knock at the door. Lo and behold, there was the familiar clipboard and binder held by a lovely woman with a friendly smile, asking me if she could get my answers to the US Census.

This is what I told her:
  • Alexis Carrington
  • Age 21
  • Squatter
  • Living with 6 husbands and mothers-in-law
  • Husbands: Don Draper, David Starsky, Tommy Gavin, Marky Mark, Jack Donaghy, and Ferris Bueller
  • Spanish negro
  • and 5 months out of the year I live at the Betty Ford Clinic.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Phone Call

Selected, paraphrased favorites from today's hour+ chat with Ma:
[while catching up about a niece who's preparing for college next year]

"You know, Hillsdale College in Michigan doesn't accept any government funding, which is great - they don't want the government telling them what to do. There's plenty of private sources for money for school." [annual cost of Hillsdale College is about $30K - good luck with that]

"I don't understand these silly things like Women's Studies and Ethnic Studies - if I'd come home & said I was going to major in Women's Studies or Ethnic Studies my father would have told me I was crazy."

"Oh my god, you're not going to believe this - there's a 'desert rat' eating from the bird feeder."

I don't know why I don't call more often.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Spare My Ass

Lots of ranting lately... 'tis the season... Spring cleaning, bitching and moaning.

Today's rant: Spare the Air. Spare my ass, please. I am so sick of Spare the Air messages telling me to ditch my car and "think about how I get to work without driving" when it gets a wee bit smoggy.

Why is it the citizens who are always asked to totally rearrange their lives when the air quality starts to decline, but ultra-polluting businesses and soot-spewing trucks can merrily go about their smog-making ways?

Not only that, but for a lot of people in the Bay Area, public transit is not a realistic option. Consider the person who lives in, say, Alameda and works all over Marin County as a photographer, for example.

There is NO Bart line that services that area, no ferry direct from the East Bay to Marin County, and the number of buses and transfers it would take to accomplish such a feat is something best reserved for a marathon leg of The Amazing Race, not for someone trying to make a living.

Forget me - how about someone who lives in Fremont but works in Palo Alto? This is a typical Bay Area commute. Just for fun, I looked this up on

It looks like the fastest way to service this commute would take over two hours, three buses, one light rail ride and cost $7.25 - ONE WAY. The list of buses & transfers is very long and very confusing.

A person would board the first bus at 7:50 AM and not arrive in Palo Alto until just before 10 AM. And that's if all the buses are on time and no connections are missed.

That - my friends - is bullshit.

There is no Bart train that crosses the Bay other than under the Bay Bridge. There is no ferry that goes anywhere south of Pier 48 in SF. And there appears to be no Transbay bus from the southern East Bay area to the Peninsula.

The commute mentioned above takes the rider south from Fremont to Milpitas then west through Alviso (the crotch of the Bay) then north to Palo Alto. Fucking bananas.

Caltrain only goes north & south from Gilroy to SF along Hwy 101, then you get to enjoy VTA or SamTrans buses for anything beyond the freeway. It does not connect with Bart on the south end. Bart only goes as far south as Fremont.

Once you're in SF, Bart works for the downtown crowd, but if you need to go west, good luck using Muni. Sometimes it works - sometimes it runs people over and kills them. If you're lucky, you might only be robbed or physically assaulted. Other than that, it's totally safe & reliable.

The ferries run only in the northern part of the Bay and they all connect into/out of SF - no direct service from the East Bay to Marin or anywhere else.

The next time you want me to spare the air, you can kiss my ass. Though when I'm not working, I try to use transit as much as I can. For example, today I had a doctor's appointment in downtown SF. No way would I prefer to drive - the traffic is redonkulous and there's no parking.

I happily drove to my local Bart station and Hey, would you look at that? NOT ONE OPEN SPACE IN THE ENTIRE PARKING GARAGE. At 1:30 PM, that sucker was packed so tight there was barely enough room to turn around to get the hell out.

I would have loved to have taken Bart into the city, reading my book while listening to the unintelligible announcements made by the train "operator," saving myself the time, gas and hassle of driving and trying to find parking. But, thanks to the ever-poor planning by the Bart kids, there's never enough parking in that garage. Total joke. And they wonder why more people don't use it.

We could get a lot more people to regularly use public transit - and enjoy it - if it went where we needed it to go and it didn't cost a freaking arm & a leg. If you transit kids can get your shit together and link it all up and get the costs down, we can abolish the Spare the Air campaign forever. Make it usable and people will use it.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Sh*t and Shinola

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Conservative Libertarian
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

The other day my father gave me an article on Glenn Beck, or as I like to call him, Grim Dreck. I grimaced and he said, "Oh now you HAVE to keep an open mind!" I agreed, but at the same time, when it comes to something like Dreck, no one needs an open mind. There's shit and there's shinola. Glenn Beck is straight up shit - no further examination needed.

Out of respect for Pa, I skimmed the article - from Forbes - about the kajillions of dollars Dreck makes by duping his mouth-breathing fans.

Much like his Fox cohort Douche Lamebag, Dreck was a total fuckup for years - couldn't keep a job, addicted to drugs & hooch - then somebody gave him a job in radio and he found his calling: spewing useless bullshit sold as perspective, which somehow found an audience that couldn't tell it was really just a heaping pile of steaming cow dung. (i.e. "entertainment")

The article talks about his live shows, which he does no preparation for other than to choose a few photographs of people whose names he doesn't know to project on a screen behind him. He relies on a full-time staff of over 30 people to wipe his ass and tell him the names of the people in the photographs he uses in his "show." A show people pay good money for.

He thinks so little of his audience and the value of their time and money, he doesn't prepare a quality product to deliver to them. All he cares about is how much money he's making. If that doesn't tell you that anything coming out of his mouth is suspect, I don't know what will.

He says it best himself: "I could give a flying crap about the political process." Making money, on the other hand, is to be taken very seriously, and controversy is its own coinage. "We're an entertainment company," Beck says.

I kept an open mind and read the article, only to learn more about this Piece of Shit that I didn't want to know. It was a waste of valuable time. Time someone like Grim Dreck does not deserve.

Keeping an open mind does not require wasting time on shit that you already know is shit, unless shit is what you want - like watching The Real Housewives of Orange County. That is some crazy, brain-cell-killing shit, but sometimes I like that sort of shit.

What I don't like is a pompous, self-absorbed Piece of Shit trying to tell me some shit like it's the shit, when it's really total bullshit.

People like Dreck and Lamebag don't provide anything useful - the shit they spew is totally counterproductive (though fantastic fodder for Comedy Central). They're here to line their own pockets, sadly at the expense of people who don't realize that all they're selling is bullshit.

To my dad's credit, he later mailed me this article from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, about just how unfair & unbalanced the right-wing media machine is. I'm sure he gets it, too, but just watching Fox Gnus for five minutes tells you everything you need to know about it and why it should be avoided.

So Dad, thanks, but there's no need to send me any more articles about these shitbags. Keeping an open mind isn't about the shit you listen to on the radio or the articles you like to read, it's about what you're willing to consider in the big picture, based on what you believe to be true for you and the world we live in (everyone, not just conservatives, liberals, mouth-breathers or Real Housewives), without anyone else's voice in your head telling you how or what to think.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

F*ck The Bucket & Other Thoughts

The first thing - the new ad from KFC - Killed From Chemicals - about a donation they'll make to the Komen Foundation for every bucket of "chicken" bought from their stores.

Is it just me, or is this maybe one of the worst cross-promotion ideas, ever? Trying to trick people into buying "food" that is totally poisoned with chemicals - the types of preservatives, hormones & gawd-knows-what-else that anyone who might even know someone with cancer should avoid in the interest of maintaining good health - on the pretense of helping a charity.

Shame on you, KFC. And shame on you, whorish Komen Foundation, for partnering with a fast "food" restaurant that just came out with the Double Down, as in, double your chances of going down from any number of ailments - heart disease, cancer, stroke, or perhaps explosive diarrhea. I don't support KFC in any way and now I'm not sure I can support Komen anymore.

Was that really your best option, Komen? Really? Really?

In other news, The Universe is up to her tricky bitch shenanigans again. This hasn't been the *worst* week I've ever had, but I'm giving it a slot in the Top 10.

My laptop is trying to kill itself, which I can understand when I watch clips of The Hills on it, but it was fine one day, fatal disc errors the next - and that's with excellent virus protection & good security controls.

Blue Screen of Death and "this volume is dirty" message, and not the fun, naughty kind of dirty - the You're Painfully Screwed in the Ass With Sandpaper sort of dirty.

Thankfully, I still have my old desktop, circa 2003. Runs like a champ, if all you need to do is open Notepad. Open anything else, like, say, the Calculator, at the same time, and you might as well go make a sandwich while you wait for it to get that done.

In fact, you can make the bread dough for the bread that will hold your sandwich then brine your own pickles for that sandwich before it's finished. It's a boon for the compulsive multitasker. What it's not good for is processing ginormous photo files, but one at a time, it can slog through it.

However, the really, really shitty part of all this was forgetting that my entire calendar lived on the laptop. The laptop I'd shut down to keep it from spontaneously combusting until I could get it to the shop.

While I *thought* I'd backed up everything I needed, I neglected to even *look* at my calendar before starting the work week, comfortably in my jammies & bathrobe, processing photos from a shoot on Sunday.

At 11:40am my phone rang... it was a client wondering where I was for an 11 o'clock scheduled shoot.

It was just like the nightmare where you're supposed to be taking a final exam but you wake up late and when you get there the doors are locked and you're naked.

OK, maybe it wasn't that dire, but I felt about as stupid. Thankfully, he was totally understanding about my computer woes and I got there, shot the job and he was happy with the work.

Thinking the worst was behind me, I got home and began transitioning *every* single piece of data I might need to this old POS. The most important thing being my email.

I wanted to install the new Office software and it wasn't working - had to track down & fix a registry error, but that took HOURS, because the install took a good 15 minutes to get 80% complete, then it would stop and roll back the changes, which took another 15 minutes. THREE TIMES I tried this.

Out of my mind with frustration, I finally got up, went to the bar and poured myself a drink. Slammed that then poured another, and went back to work. By the time David got home I was a drunken wreck. (Lightweight! Heyyy!)

I am so dependent on these goddamm machines I cannot live without them, and that's upsetting for so many reasons. None of them all that worthwhile. It makes me long for a job "Makin bucks, gettin exercise & workin outside. Fuckin A."

Oh, and yesterday, Nikita was about to puke on the hall rug and I went to gently redirect her to the floor when Henry was startled by the commotion and flew after me, which startled the cat and as a result, she took off running WHILE puking, leaving a stunning swath of puke extending through half the length of the dining room. Awesome.

Whether it's the full moon, Mercury in Rectalgrade or some shitty karma making the rounds, it needs to stop.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Knew Gnu

New decade, new season, new attitude...

I went hiking with friends a while back, one of whom is a hardcore athlete - she's done some serious hiking in her day with all the helpful gear. This particular hike a few months ago was a casual trek up & down Mt. Tam, nothing major. She told me she considered bringing her hiking poles but then her husband said, "Don't be that person." Killed me. We laughed about that all day.

But that phrase stuck in my head - Don't be that person - fill in the type of person one doesn't want to be. For example, sometimes I like to yell at other drivers while I'm out & about when I see someone doing something stupid, like driving IN to a clearly marked EXIT ONLY driveway at the store.

I like - or liked - to yell things like, "Nice move, moron!" Which just makes me look like the moron - and a douche. I did this not too long after hiking with my friends and just felt stupid. My first thought was, I don't want to be *that* person anymore.

Sometimes I let little things torque my panties into an uncomfortable bunch. I definitely don't want to be *that* person. Although, if I have to clean just one more sticky spot of orange juice off the floor in front of the fridge, David's panties are going to be bunched in such a way that orange juice will be the last thing he's going to want.

Still, it's become a worthwhile, conscious effort to rise above small, irritating shenanigans and bask in the positive in all things. I usually focus on the good stuff, but sometimes I get cranky and end up bogged down in something that's only a problem because I'm allowing it to be a problem. It's a relief to let that shit go and keep moving forward.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Crazy Lies Day

I didn't want to let the day pass without making my own contribution to April Fools' Day, but it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be.

I tried to come up with something plausible but also something that, if you're paying attention, would seem ridiculous but also perfectly harmless.

My first thought was to announce I was pregnant with triplets but I knew that would get sticky. #1, that's almost the very last thing I'd ever want to announce to anyone, and #2, you know someone would totally buy it and then it would be AWKwaaard saying "April Fools!" after that.

A recruiter recently sent me an email about an online editor position in LA, so that seemed like a great premise, but anyone who knows me should know: #1, I said we're never ever never never ever moving again and #2, the idea of a full-time job makes me break out in a cold sweat and pee on the rug.

No matter - I thought it was a safe premise, so this morning's tweet: "Big news - I know we just got back from Canada, but I accepted a new job in LA. If it's truly a great gig, may end up moving to Pasadena."

I thought bullshit would be called immediately, and one person did smell a wee bit of a rat, but mostly I received a bounty of well wishes and congratulations and outpourings of "no don't go!" I immediately felt bad. I tried to stick with it but it felt lame to keep lying to everyone.

I came clean and we all moved on - I'd had my lame fun and then actually had to go to work and photograph a listing in Marin.

While I was setting up a shot a painter came through to collect the last of his supplies and said to me, "So, a professional! Who do you work for?" I said, "Myself!" He replied, "I bet you're the best boss, huh?" I had to laugh. It felt really good to be able to say I was my own boss. The Universe gave me a nice little poke in the eye.

Then I went to 7-11 and got a diet coke big gulp. Because lying makes me thirsty for chemicals.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adventures in Photography

Had a routine shoot in Woodacre today - just west of Fairfax in the country. Been out there many times - it's aptly named - acres of woods, dirt roads, muddy roads, no Peet's - pioneer living at its finest.

The directions I had told me to "go to the end of the paved road" after cruising through a short stretch of unpaved, un-maintained county road. I read the words "paved road" but in my rusted brain, I heard "dirt road."

I drove the short stretch of unpaved road - muddy and full of deep ruts and thick puddles from the recent rain - and when I got to the other side where the pavement picks up again, I turned to the right as the map indicated.

It was more dirt road, and my idiot brain said "go to the end of the dirt road." I've had to get to such locations before, so this wasn't new or strange.

But this dirt road... a muddy disaster waiting to happen, was almost less than one-lane wide and had a few downed branches here & there. I drove for a few minutes, seeing *nothing* up the hill and realized I couldn't be in the right place.

Found my map and sure enough, I'd driven right by the property when I turned onto the second dirt road. There aren't any curbs or curb numbers in those parts.

Thankfully, the XC-70 had no trouble going up or down the mud slide, gently rolling over & along the ruts sort-of like how you'd walk a horse down a steep hill. Fun!

Got back down the hill and turned onto what I thought was the long, paved driveway to the house - again, not seeing any house numbers anywhere, I followed the actual directions to "the end of the paved road." This was definitely a road and it was paved and it went up the hill to two houses.

I went all the way to the end where I found an old beater car parked on one side of the road and a 4WD truck on the other. There was an old cast iron tub perched in the brush beyond the truck and other discarded items & junk strewn around the driveway.

It's not uncommon to see trash ready to be hauled away when a house is going on the market... So I started up the steps to the front deck, which had a Beware of Dog sign posted at the bottom. When I got up to the deck (about four hundred steps, with a bee trying to stab me the whole way), it was littered with dozens of empty beer bottles, lawn chairs & more junk.

I thought... This doesn't seem right... I stood there for a few minutes, wondering where the agent was. And the dog. I almost knocked, but there were no signs of life inside. It wasn't quite 11 a.m. yet - way too early to be up after drinking that much beer.

From my sky-high vantage point I could see a cute little house down below... a house that looked ready for photographs, with cleaned up landscaping and new flowers on the deck. Sure enough, I'd gone one house too far on the little narrow road.

Good thing I got there early & the realtor had no idea I was standing on the neighbor's deck yelling her name.

(the wrong house, at the end of the road and about two miles straight up the hill to the right of the white truck)

(the right house - no junk, no beer bottles - quite lovely)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not So Bad?

Finally started watching Breaking Bad, catching AMC's marathon this past weekend & I love it. While reading Tim Goodman's deconstruction of the 3rd season premier, about how Walt really is the bad guy but he won't admit it to himself, I started thinking, Is he really that bad?

Sure, the plane crash he's indirectly responsible for is pretty bad, no getting around that... but let's take that off the table for a minute...

Aside from the 167 people killed in the plane crash, he's directly or indirectly:
  • taken out three nasty drug dealers (one a total psychopath)
  • put two hopeless junkies out of their misery
  • gotten a kid removed from junkie parents
  • sent a guy who loves prison back to jail
  • gotten his brother-in-law promoted for shooting the psycho drug dealer
  • paid for his cancer treatments, surgery and a new water heater without incurring any debt
  • and now his kids' college and mortgage will be covered.
Not too shabby!

Sure, he's cooking meth, but it's really good meth - isn't that better than bad meth? If the tweakers aren't getting it from him, they'll just get it somewhere else, right? So, is he adding to the meth problem, or helping to rid the planet of stupid people that much faster? Maybe he really isn't a bad guy, but performing a valuable public service and helping his local economy.

I'm starting to see Walt as the good guy, but he needs to steer clear of anyone involved in air traffic control.

My favorite part of the show, Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman. Awesome, brilliant casting. More Saul, please!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dangerously Cute

Not for rookies - if you haven't had extensive experience with cute kittens, you could lose consciousness or experience dizziness and a floating, euphoric feeling after watching this.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Excellent, excellent presentation on the evils of sugar (fructose/high fructose corn syrup) by Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF.

It's *really* good if you watch it while eating delicious double-chocolate brownies with a nice glass of shiraz.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Spider Senses Aren't Enough

Chelsea King

Last week I saw a tweet from KTLA about a missing teenager who hadn't returned from a run in a county park. The story caught my eye not just because it was about a missing girl, but a runner out on her own.

Every time I run I'm alone. I ran by myself all the time when I was her age. I've run alone through city streets, parks, on beaches, in nice neighborhoods and not-so-nice neighborhoods - all sorts of places.

Every time I go out my spider senses are on high alert. I'd like to think that's enough, always ready to escape danger or fight for your life. My parents used to think me a bit paranoid, then I told them about being followed while out running - in the nicer neighborhoods, I might add.

The first time, a guy in his car followed me for over three miles, driving ahead and waiting for me to pass, then pulling out behind me, following me down the street and flipping u-turns when I crossed the street.

That was the fastest three miles I've ever run and I remember promising myself I'd never run after dark again. Um, I've not kept that promise.

Another time I was up in the Saratoga hills after a long track workout on my way back to school. The girls had left about 10 minutes ahead of me and the boys were still doing hill repeats about a mile away.

A car cruised down the narrow road behind me for a little while, then pulled over ahead of me asking for "directions." The only "directions" in that neighborhood are up the hill or down the hill - there was nothing else up there and no one wanders up there accidentally.

As soon as his car stopped, I stopped and started shouting "I don't know" over and over again, as loud as I could. I kept shouting at him and after a minute he got back into his car and drove off. I was rattled but eventually kept going, another lightning fast sprint back to safety.

Just the other night I went out after dark - I kinda had to - we'd had burgers for lunch at Joe's Cable Car Restaurant and you can't run on a pile of ground steak in your belly.

Alameda is one of the safest towns in the Bay Area - I've run here many times after dark, often fairly late when it's hot in the summer and I always feel totally secure.

That night I ran into a nearby schoolyard to grab a drink from the fountain. There are no lights on the playground so it's very dark. The only light comes from streetlights around the perimeter.

I crossed the blacktop where a few young kids were playing basketball, but the gate on the other side was chained & locked. I cruised along the fence to see if there was another opening and then I saw him. A large, shadowy figure standing on the other side of the fence, watching the playground.

He wasn't with the kids playing ball - they were way over on the other side of a large blacktop. He just stood there, staring. As soon as I saw him I calmly turned and ran back the way I came with a knot in my gut. Get away - just get away. And I did.

But Chelsea King was in a popular park in broad daylight, due home before it got dark. Even if she was hyper-aware of her surroundings, if the evil, shadowy figure is waiting for you and is twice your size and strength, spider senses won't be enough to get away from that.

Worse, this guy was a known sex offender and it was recommended he be locked up for a very long time. He should have never been allowed out of prison.
...Convicted 10 years ago of forcibly molesting a 13-year-old neighborhood girl. He allegedly hit the girl in the head repeatedly before she managed to escape to a neighbor's house.

Gardner pleaded guilty in May 2000 to two counts of forcible lewd act on a child and false imprisonment. He was sentenced to six years in prison. He served five years and was released in September 2005.

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting that a psychiatrist urged a long sentence in the case because Gardner "would be a continued danger to underage girls in the community."

Prosecutors had initially charged Gardner with more-violent sex crimes in the case which could have resulted in a sentence of more than 30 years because the terms would have been served consecutively, the paper reported.

A plea deal allowed him to serve the sentences concurrently.

Gardner remained on parole until September 2008, and after that was required to register as a sex offender.

Reading that I'm reminded of my plan to just exterminate these people. There's no reason to keep a guy like this alive. He offers nothing to the planet. And what piece-of-shit prosecutor would allow a plea deal involving concurrent sentences? How is that even possible?

Prisons too crowded? Start with the sex offenders and exterminate every last violent criminal. Keep doing that. Maybe then things will start to change. Maybe then women won't feel like prey when we go out alone.

Does this prosecutor have a daughter? Wife? Sister? Whoever signed off on that plea deal should be put in the same deep hole in the ground with the rest of the criminals and set on fire.

Chelsea, I'm so sorry - for what happened to you, for your family, your friends - everyone who knew and loved you. It should not have happened. None of it makes any sense.

More about Chelsea King from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Chelsea King was sociable and liked to have fun, but she also had an emerging worldview aimed at helping improve her community and the environment.

She liked hosting slumber parties, venturing out with her friends, playing the French horn and running. She also was a straight-A student, counseled her peers and cared enough about the environment to start eating only organic foods six months ago.

The 17-year-old senior at Poway High School had “big dreams, of not only seeing the world but healing the world,” her father said earlier this week... In an emotional interview Sunday, Brent King described his daughter as “a light bulb, just a piece of energy.”

“When she comes into a room, you know she’s there,” he said, “whether it’s because she’s got this huge smile and she’s lighting it up or because she’s stumbling around and making somebody laugh.”

That description was echoed by one of Chelsea’s closest friends, Tara Trujillo, 18, who said Monday that she was “very quirky and unique, very bubbly, and this person you always want to be around.”

Tara and Chelsea were on the cross-country team together. “That was one of her passions, running,” Trujillo said.

Chelsea also was interested in environmental studies. She had applied to many colleges and had been accepted so far at the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington.

“She wanted to go to a great school and wanted to concentrate on her grades,” her father said. “She’s just that kind of person. She always wanted to be better.”

Chelsea decided last year to try to eat organic because she was worried about the effect of pesticides on the environment, Brent King said. “She couldn’t stand the idea of eating processed food because they were destroying the planet,” he said.

Ian Roy, 18, said Monday that he knew Chelsea from taking honors and Advanced Placement classes with her. “She was just such a positive person,” he said. “She was very willing to learn, and she would always ask questions. She was very outgoing.”

Besides running, Chelsea’s after-school activities included playing the French horn with the San Diego Youth Symphony.

As a peer counselor, she helped students who were having trouble in their lives. In one instance, she sought to educate teens about eating disorders by organizing an awareness week at school.

Chelsea was born at Pomerado Hospital in Poway, but the family moved when she was young. They lived in the Chicago area for 12 years before her father, who worked in mortgage banking, was transferred to San Diego County in 2007, when Chelsea was a freshman.

The family — Chelsea’s younger brother is in eighth grade — lives in a gated community in northern Poway.

Chelsea’s close friends said that when she arrived at Poway High, she looked like a newcomer to Southern California. On one day, considered cold by San Diego-area standards, she wore shorts.

Despite the adjustment of moving from Chicago, Chelsea quickly joined a tightknit group.

Katie Chang, 17, said during a group interview Monday that she could tell immediately that Chelsea was nice. “We were part of the group that came up to her on her first day and invited her to eat lunch with us.”

Zoe said in that interview that the girls would have “sleepovers all the time,” and that some nights were spent working on school projects. The group would sometimes go on excursions, including a recent jaunt to Convoy Street in San Diego to experience Asian culture by singing karaoke and drinking “boba” tea with tapioca.

Katie said of Chelsea, “She was a really great person.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nutritional Info WORKS

Grabbed lunch at Chipotle today... they put nutritional/caloric info on their menus - *very* helpful.

You can pick & choose any combination of things to put into your taco/burrito/bowl and know exactly how much you're eating. (The link is not on but the values are the same as what's printed on the menu - check out the sodium [!])

Helpful and frightening - the calorie listings for chips & salsa and chips & guac. Always seems like a small thing to add to a stripped down chicken bowl - until you see that just chips & salsa adds over 600 calories to your meal. Because who eats just half the small bag of chips?

Holy. Shit. One order serves two, and it's 295-325 calories per serving. If you inhale the whole thing, which of course I've never done... it's 590-650 calories. The chips & guac is 720 calories! Sweet fried corn christmas.

So I didn't order that. Thank you, Chipotle. My ass also thanks you.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dysfunctional Pet Drugs

What a pleasure it's been doing business with this company. Though I'm not sure if they really are a company or just a guy in his mother's basement with pallets of stolen pet food.

Now that Ninja/Mr. Bitey needs special, kidney-friendly food, I have to find it online or else pay out the ass to buy it from the vet.

I found a couple of vendors - Pet Food Direct and another outfit, Discount Pet Drugs. Pet Food Direct was super easy - found the food, entered the vet info, checked out - package arrived a few days later.

With Dysfunctional Pet Drugs, I found the food, entered the vet info, checked out, and waited. And waited. In a day or so I got a cryptic email:

You have not selected the food order option for shipping. Your shipping cost may go up. The shipping cost is $12.99 determined by weight. This only applies to pet food orders as stated on the website.

Please reply to this e-mail for your order to ship Shipping process will takes 7-8 business days for Food Items. If any questions us a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx

Never even noticed a "food order option" in the check out process, so I replied to ask for more information. I received this response:

We apologize
You have not selected the Food Orders option in Shipping method as below :

Via Food Orders
Your current invoice is as below :
[boring invoice info]

Please reply this email to ship out your order.
As shown below. Below what? Where? There IS no "Food Orders option" to select below, you jackass! Nevertheless, I replied and approved the order for shipping. That was on February 7th.

I received this response the same day:

Thank you for sending the approval. Shortly, we will ship your order and send you the tracking number by email. Shipping process will takes 7-8 business days for Food Items.

I'm still waiting for the email with the tracking number. Yesterday I sent an email asking for a status update. I received this response:

We apologize for any delay. Shortly, we will inquire your order from shipping department and inform you by email.

When I didn't hear back from "shipping department," I sent another inquiry this morning:
Hi again…
Still waiting for a status update - or the product – really, I’d rather have the product I’ve already paid you for.

This is not good. My cat needs this food – I can’t just run down to the store to get it. Please let me know when this will arrive and why it’s taken so long. I have to say, I won’t be ordering from you ever again. This is totally unacceptable.

You charged me $13 for shipping which is already an astronomical charge, then the product doesn’t arrive for weeks.

How do you stay in business? This *is* a business, isn’t it, or were you going to donate the food? Because if you’re going to make it a charitable donation to my cat, that’s very thoughtful, but not worth much if it never arrives.
I haven't received a response, but I did get a call from a wonderfully polite UPS robot letting me know that I'll be receiving a shipment tomorrow that someone must be present to sign for.

No idea if it'll be the pet food or a multi-million dollar check from an anonymous patron of snarky blog writing. To be totally honest, I'm hoping for the latter.

Update 2/25/10: Turns out, the UPS Robot Call was for something else. Still no word from DPD about where my order is. Complete and total failure.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Syrup Shampoo

Yesterday I jumped in the shower but forgot to grab the new shampoo - I'd left it in the kitchen with the other Trader Joe's stuff.

David came into the bathroom to wash his hands, so I asked him if he could bring me the shampoo off the kitchen table.

He came right back and handed me this:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Love Moo

Every time I do business with Moo I'm reminded of why I love them so... just this confirmation email - it's the best I've ever seen:

I'm Little MOO - the bit of software that will be managing your order with us. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will print it for you in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's done and on its way to you.

You can track and manage your order at: [URL goes here]
Estimated Arrival Date: Fri 26 Feb 2010

Remember, I'm just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions

and if you're still not sure, contact customer services (who are real people) at:

Little MOO, Print Robot

"We love to print"
That's some nice customer service.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Penis Mightier

It's true.

I did a silly thing a couple of weeks ago. I wrote a scathing post about a shady, former client who stiffed me on an invoice. I was livid. I lost my mind for a minute. It happens.

A little while after I posted it I took it down. I don't want to put that kind of energy into the world. Amazingly, during those 15-20 minutes it was live she found it. It's like it was meant to be. (Evidently, I know a little about SEO and it helps that she loves to Google her name every five minutes.)

Regardless, the only thing I regret about it is letting myself get into such a negative place. It happens every time I have to deal with her and she's not at all worth it.

She was never worth the effort it took to write the post. She's not worth any of the effort wasted on her from the beginning. I'm looking forward to forgetting I ever met her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Resolution Recap

Even though I was done with my New Year's resolution on January 21st, I thought I'd officially sum up the experience. All in all - meh.

To be honest, it was sort of a sandbag resolution. Except for the holiday cookie binge I stupidly took part in just before the New Year, I don't eat that much sugar on a daily basis.

Sure, I worship at the House of Pancakes, Doughnuts, Scones & Cookies, but I don't take communion but once in a great while. I rarely drink and I've been gradually decaffeinating myself for months, just to break the morning grogginess cycle.

The idea was to see what it might be like to avoid these things all at the same time, for some length of time and see if it made any difference in my energy, auras, chakras, gravity or gas mileage.

I did feel some nasty depression early on & had a few minor headaches. I think that was purely from the sugar detox after the holiday cookie binge. That passed and hasn't happened again since. So, that was educational... If you eat your weight in biscotti & chocolate chip cookies every day for a week and then quit cold turkey, you might experience some "withdrawals."

Toward the end of the month, I didn't feel any marked difference. Maybe more irritated, in general, and that's not what you want. I'm not sure I can recommend it unless you're really a sugar-booze-caffeine-aholic and need to give your system a break. Everything in moderation - even moderation.